Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Dueling Dual Polls

By Jim Ellis

Detroit Police Chief James Craig

June 14, 2021 — We open the week looking at conflicting polls from two Midwestern statewide races. The Michigan Republican Party published a survey that conflicts with earlier data we’ve seen about their state’s gubernatorial race, and the two leading Ohio Republican Senate contenders both released recent surveys that best tell their own campaign story.

In the Wolverine State, the Competitive Edge Research & Communication firm, polling for the Michigan Republican Party (May 26-June 4; 809 likely Michigan voters), projects retired Detroit Police Chief James Craig (R), who is soon expected to announce his bid for governor, leading incumbent Gretchen Whitmer (D) by a spread beyond the polling margin of error, 45-38 percent.

Curiously, the MIGOP leadership also released the ballot test that featured the party’s 2020 and 2018 US Senate nominee, John James. Here, the CERC finds Gov. Whitmer leading James, 50-45 percent. James has not indicated that he is going to enter the gubernatorial race, so it is surprising to see the Republican Party releasing data that puts one of their top political figures in a weaker position. James lost the 2020 Senate race to incumbent Gary Peters (D) by a tight 50-48 percent count.

In May, the Target Insyght survey research company (May 9-11; 800 registered Michigan voters) painted a different picture, forecasting a 48-42 percent lead for Gov. Whitmer over Craig and 49-39 percent against James.

The difference could be attributed to James retiring as chief of police after the TI poll was conducted and before the CERC survey was taken. Former chief Craig is a well-known and popular figure in Detroit, and the accolades given him for his tenure could certainly have helped his polling data at least on a short-term basis.

Additionally, Gov. Whitmer has been caught in several inconsistencies regarding her COVID shutdown policies, which were some of the most drastic in the country. More than once, she was found not following the letter of her own directives for herself and family.

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Poll: Murkowski Trailing Badly

By Jim Ellis

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R)

June 10, 2010 — A new Alaska statewide political survey suggests that Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) is in serious danger of losing her coming re-election campaign.

Change Research, polling for the 314 Action Fund, an organization committed to electing more scientists to public office, conducted a study of the Alaska electorate and found incumbent Sen. Murkowski, who is looking to win a fourth full term, (R) faring poorly.

The poll (May 22-25; released June 9; 1,023 likely Alaska voters, online) tested Murkowski against announced Republican opponent Kelly Tshibaka, the former Alaska Commissioner of Administration, Dr. Al Gross, the 2020 Senate Democratic nominee who lost 54-41 percent to Republican incumbent Dan Sullivan, and John Wayne Howe of the Alaska Independence Party.

In 2020, Alaska voters adopted a new ballot procedure initiative that changes the state’s nomination system into a unique “top four” jungle primary. This means the four candidates attracting the most votes in the initial election all advance into the general election.

With Sen. Murkowski having trouble within her own Republican Party, this system prevents her from again facing a closed partisan primary like the one she lost in 2010, since it is difficult to fathom she or any other incumbent failing to even place fourth in a primary election. In the year she lost re-nomination, Sen. Murkowski was able to quickly rebound and win as a write-in general election candidate.

While the top-four system likely helps Sen. Murkowski, the new general election system may not play to her favor. After the top four candidates qualify, the ranked-choice voting system takes effect to decide the general election. This means voters will rank the candidates from 1 through 4.

Once the fourth place finisher is determined, assuming no one has reached 50 percent, those voters who rank the fourth place finisher as number 1 have their ballots retrieved and their second choice is added to the remaining totals. This process continues in rounds until one candidate secures majority support.

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Ciattarelli, McAuliffe Win Respective Primaries for Governor in NJ, VA

Jack Ciattarelli , New Jersey

By Jim Ellis

June 9, 2021 — As expected, former Virginia governor, Terry McAuliffe, and ex-New Jersey state assemblyman, Jack Ciattarelli, won their respective Democratic and Republican primaries for governor last night in the two states holding major 2021 elections.

McAuliffe will face Republican Glenn Youngkin, who was nominated in a May hybrid party convention, while Ciattarelli will challenge Garden State Gov. Phil Murphy (D), who seeks a second term.

Former Virginia governor, Terry McAuliffe

Virginia, which is the only state that limits its governors to one consecutive term, sees McAuliffe, also a former Democratic National Committee chairman, returning to the campaign trail after a break in service. He was governor from 2013-2017, yielding to current Gov. Ralph Northam (D) four years ago. In last night’s vote, McAuliffe captured 62.3 percent of the vote against four challengers including scandal tainted Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax who attracted less than 18,000 votes (3.5 percent) and finished a poor fourth.

When compared to the 2017 Democratic primary, the 2021 cycle turnout lagged. Once the final votes are posted, it will be clear that Democratic participation was down approximately 10 percent from four years ago. This is largely because the governor’s race was not particularly competitive. It has been a foregone conclusion for months that McAuliffe would easily capture the party nomination.

The lieutenant governor’s contest went to state Delegate Hala Ayala (D-Woodbridge) as she defeated fellow state Delegate Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke) 39-25 percent, in a field comprised of six candidates. The attorney general’s race was relatively close and showed weakness for incumbent Mark Herring as he defeated state Delegate Jay Jones (D-Norfolk), 56-43 percent, a poor showing for a two-term incumbent in his own party. The primary result suggests that Herring could find himself in a general election battle with GOP nominee Jason Miyares, a state Delegate from Virginia Beach.

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NJ, VA Primaries Today

By Jim Ellis

June 8, 2021 — The two states with odd-numbered year elections in 2021 are holding their partisan primaries today, though one Old Dominion party has already nominated its statewide candidates. Voters in New Jersey and Virginia will choose nominees for governor and other elected statewide offices and for seats in their respective state legislatures.

Virginia Republicans, in a unique “drive-thru” convention, chose their gubernatorial nominee, Glenn Youngkin, on May 8. Nominees for lieutenant governor and attorney general were also selected through the ranked choice voting system to narrow the field to a point where one candidate receives majority support after several rounds of counting.

In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy is unopposed in the Democratic primary and former state assemblyman, Jack Ciattarelli, (pronounced: Chit-a-relli) is favored to capture the GOP nod after receiving official local Republican party endorsements in 17 of the state’s 21 counties. He faces businessman and frequent candidate Hirsch Singh, former Franklin mayor, Brian Levine, and pastor Phil Rizzo.

Virginia Democrats are expected to again back former governor and ex-Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe as their party nominee. He enjoys wide polling leads over former Prince William County state Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy, state Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), scandal-tainted Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, and state Delegate Lee Carter (D-Manassas).

Virginia is the only state in the Union that limits its governors to one four-year term but does not prevent former incumbents from seeking the office again as McAuliffe is doing. Many southern states historically installed a one-term limit for their governors, but Virginia remains the only place that maintains the practice. McAuliffe served from 2013 through 2017 before yielding to current incumbent Ralph Northam (D).

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Texas GOP Mayoral Victories

Along the US-Mexican border

By Jim Ellis

June 8, 2021 — On Saturday, Republican candidates picked up three victories in a trio of Texas mayoral runoffs, the most surprising of which came in the Mexican border city of McAllen where the Hispanic population is close to 85 percent.

McAllen City Commissioner (Council) Javier Villalobos, a former Hidalgo County Republican Party chairman, won the mayoral runoff election with a 51-49 percent victory. This on the heels of the Texas-Mexico border region voting much more Republican in 2020 than in previous electoral history. From the congressional district that houses McAllen, Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) won his November re-election contest with only a 50.5 – 47.6 percent victory margin.

In Ft. Worth, an election that broke more definitively along partisan lines, though all of the mayoral elections in the state are nonpartisan in that the candidate’s political party affiliation does not appear on the ballot, Republican Mattie Parker defeated Tarrant County Democratic Party chair Deborah Peoples. The spread was 54-46 percent in a contest where turnout more than doubled the aggregate mayoral vote of four years ago. Voter participation was up in all three of the Texas city runoff elections, but none like the huge increase in Ft. Worth.

The least partisan of the races occurred in Arlington, where former police officer and local businessman Jim Ross defeated Arlington City Councilman Michael Glaspie, also with a 54-46 percent margin. In this election, law enforcement seemed to dominate the campaign as five different police and fire associations rallied to support Ross.

As mentioned above, South Texas voting ventured more toward the Republicans in November even though Democrats still proved victorious in the region. Biden’s margin over then-President Trump dropped as low as 50-48 percent in Rep. Gonzalez’s 15th District, and under 52 percent in three of the four CDs that touch the Texas-Mexico border.

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