Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Trump Attacks McConnell Over Campaign Spending in Alaska; Walker Remains Above Attacks in GA; Polls in Nevada Show Some Flip-Flopping

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Oct. 14, 2022

Senate

Alaska republican Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka

Alaska: Trump Attacks McConnell Over Campaign Spending — The media is covering comments former President Donald Trump is making over the Senate Leadership Fund’s campaign spending as it relates to the Alaska race featuring Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) and the ex-president’s endorsed candidate, Kelly Tshibaka (R). The SLF, an organization that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) former staff members and political allies control, is committing $9 million in media money to support Sen. Murkowski.

Trump attacks the group, and Sen. McConnell by name, for spending this money against another Republican instead of in places where GOP candidates are opposing strong Democratic incumbents such as Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada. Many agree with Trump’s assessment since, particularly in Arizona, more money is needed to counter Sen. Mark Kelly’s (D) huge financial edge.

Because of Alaska’s new electoral system, it is clear that the general election is coming down to a battle between the two Republicans, hence not endangering the Senate’s party division count.

Georgia: Attacks Not Destroying Walker — Republican Herschel Walker has been under intense attack recently in his Senate battle against Sen. Raphael Warnock (D), but several new polls, so far, suggest that the attacks about his personal life have not yet devastated his campaign.

A series of six polls were released in the past few days, and only one, from Survey USA, shows Sen. Warnock holding a substantial lead. Four of the six find the margin between the two candidates falling within a 1-3 percentage point margin. A total of four surveys, from The Trafalgar Group, Quinnipiac University, Emerson College, and Insider Advantage, conducted their studies between the Oct. 4-11 period. The other two, from the aforementioned Survey USA and the University of Georgia, polled between Sept. 25 through Oct. 4. The sample sizes range from 550 to 1,157 likely voters. S-USA is most out of line, showing Warnock up 50-38 percent. Quinnipiac sees the second largest Warnock edge, 52-45 percent.

The group of polls allows observers to arrive at two conclusions. First, Sen. Warnock leads the race. Second, Walker is still very competitive and remains within striking distance.

Nevada: Sen. Cortez Masto Rebounds in New Poll — After trailing in seven consecutive polls among likely voters, a new Suffolk University survey (Oct. 4-7; 500 likely Nevada voters; live interview) finds Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) pulling back in front of former Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R), 46-44 percent.

Clearly, the cumulative result from these many polls is that both candidates are alive heading into voter decision making time. The bad sign for Sen. Cortez Masto is that she has failed to reach 50 percent support in the last dozen consecutive polls, dating all the way back to July. Such is a troubling indication for any incumbent.

Governor

Georgia: Conflicting Polls — From the myriad of Georgia Senate polling (see Georgia Senate above), two of the survey research entities released numbers for the Peach State governor’s race. Quinnipiac University (Oct. 7-10; 1,157 likely Georgia general election voters; live interview) plots Gov. Brian Kemp’s (R) lead over former state House Minority Leader Stacy Abrams (D) at just 50-49 percent. The University of Georgia (Sept. 25-Oct. 4; 1,030 likely Georgia general election voters; live interview), however, sees a much wider Kemp advantage, 51-41 percent.

Nevada: Sheriff’s Edge — The aforementioned Suffolk University survey (see Nevada Senate above) that found Sen. Cortez Masto (D) reclaiming a small lead over her Republican opponent instead finds Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo (R) holding a slight 44-43 percent edge over Gov. Steve Sisolak (D). Just as in the Senate race where either candidate can win, such is also the case in the Silver State’s governor’s contest.

Conflicting Polls in AZ; Rare Polling in OK; A Polling Conflict in WA;
Noem Struggling in SD?

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022

Senate

Venture capitalist Blake Masters (R) | Sen. Mark Kelly (D)

Conflicting Polls — We have two examples of pollsters surveying the same race within the equivalent time realm and reporting wholly conflicting results. In Arizona, the Big Data Poll (polling for the CD Media site; Oct. 2-5; 970 likely Arizona general election voters; text & oversampling) sees a virtual dead heat, 46-45 percent, result between Sen. Mark Kelly (D) and challenger Blake Masters (R). Conversely, OH Predictive Insights (Oct. 4-6; 674 likely Arizona general election voters) finds a 46-33 percent split in the senator’s favor with Libertarian Marc Victor posting 15 percent. The OH data is certainly outside the overall polling pattern, and no other entity has found the Libertarian candidate drawing such a high preference number.

Oklahoma: Rare Senate Polls — The Sooner Poll that was released earlier in the week and gave Democrat Hoy Hofmeister a surprising 47-43 percent lead over Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) on Tuesday publicized numbers in both US Senate races — both the regular election featuring Sen. James Lankford (R) and the special election to replace resigning Sen. Jim Inhofe (R). The poll is flawed in that only 301 respondents comprise the entire statewide sample, but the Senate results appear reasonable, nonetheless.

In the regular election, Sen. Lankford holds a 52-40 percent lead over high tech businessman Madison Horn (D) and US Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Westville) tops former US Rep. Kendra Horn (D), 51-42 percent. Both Sen. Lankford and Rep. Mullin are heavy favorites to win in November.

We also see conflict in the Washington Senate race. The Senate Opportunity Fund (Oct. 4; 600 likely Washington general election voters; mechanized) released their survey that gives Sen. Patty Murray (D) only a 46-42 percent edge over Republican Tiffany Smiley. Emerson College (Sept. 21-Oct. 1; 782 likely Washington general election voters; multiple sampling techniques), over a slightly earlier time frame, posted the senator to a 51-40 percent lead. The latter Emerson poll is closer to this race’s polling average.

House

RI-2: Republican Fung Leads in Fourth Poll — Though the Ocean State’s western congressional district is heavily Democratic – D+17 according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization – the fourth consecutive survey, this one coming from Suffolk University for the Boston Globe (Oct. 1-4; 422 likely RI-2 general election voters; live interview), confirms that Republican Allan Fung holds the lead over Democratic state Treasurer Seth Magaziner. The Suffolk results post Fung, the former mayor of Cranston and a two-time Republican gubernatorial nominee, to an eight point, 45-37 percent, lead, well beyond the polling margin of error.

Just four polls, from May to the present, have been released of the race, but Fung has led in all with margins between six and 15 percentage points. Despite the Democratic voting history here, Fung looks to be positioning himself to score a major political upset.

Governor

South Dakota: Gov. Noem’s Small Lead — South Dakota State University is releasing a series of political polls, but there is scant information accompanying the ballot test numbers. University polls can often be suspect, and this one without survey dates or sample sizes may fall into such a category. The ballot test finds Gov. Kristi Noem (R) leading state House Minority Leader Jamie Smith (D-Sioux Falls) by only a 46-42 percent count.

The same unidentified sample, however, also posts Sen. John Thune (R) to a 53-28 percent advantage over Democratic attorney Brian Bengs, which sounds like a reasonable result and provides the gubernatorial ballot test more credibility. Therefore, the South Dakota governor’s race may be another worth watching as we enter the campaigns’ closing weeks. In 2018, Noem, then the state’s at-large congresswoman, scored a 51-48 percent win over then-state Sen. Billie Sutton (D).

Double Republican Race Brewing in Louisiana; Zeldin Closing Within Two Points in NY; Major Race Change in OR

By Jim Ellis — Oct. 12, 2022

House

Louisiana Rep. Clay Higgins (R-Lafayette)

LA-3: Double Republican Race Brewing — We haven’t focused much on the Louisiana races this year largely because the state’s primary election runs concurrently with the general election. Using the jungle primary format, candidates can win outright in the one election if they command majority support. If all contenders fall below the 50 percent marker in a particular race, the top two finishers advance to a December runoff, this year scheduled for Dec. 10.

Former Rep. Charles Boustany (R), Rep. Clay Higgins’ (R-Lafayette) GOP predecessor in the 3rd District seat, on Monday endorsed another Republican in the jungle format, prosecutor Holden Hoggatt. The move suggests we could see a late developing double-Republican race in Cajun Country, though Rep. Higgins, a former police captain who came to fame for his tough law enforcement videos, largely has become a folk hero in southern Louisiana and will be difficult to dislodge. Rep. Higgins has averaged 62 percent of the vote in his two re-election campaigns, winning both contests outright.

NY-22: Countering Data — Last week, Siena College, partnering with Spectrum News, released a survey (Sept. 22-28; 453 likely NY-22 general election voters) that pushed Republican Brandon Williams to a five-point, 45-40 percent, edge over former intelligence agency analyst Francis Conole (D).

The Conole campaign released countering data on Monday, but their Global Strategy Group survey was commissioned considerably earlier (Sept. 15-19; 400 likely NY-22 general election voters) than the Siena College poll and only showed a slight 43-42 percent edge for the Democratic nominee. Thus, releasing a dated study with the candidate having such a small advantage suggests that the Siena data is likely a more realistic depiction of the current political situation. The new Syracuse-anchored NY-22 is a politically marginal open seat from which Republican Rep. John Katko is retiring.

Governor

New York: Zeldin Closing Within Two Points — The Trafalgar Group released a new Empire State survey that finds US Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley/East Long Island) trailing Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) by only a 45-43 percent margin, the closest of any NY gubernatorial poll during this election cycle. The study was conducted over the Sept. 30–Oct. 3 period and surveyed 1,087 likely general election voters through multiple sampling techniques. Earlier, the McLaughlin & Associates firm (Sept. 21-25; 800 likely New York general election voters) found a 51-45 percent spread.

Siena College, polling in the period before the aforementioned (Sept. 16-25; 655 likely New York general election voters) projected a much larger Hochul lead, 54-37 percent. It will be interesting to see if this latest trend proves to be an anomaly or the beginning of a directional change within the general election contest.

Nebraska: Closer Than Expected — The open Nebraska governor’s race has not attracted much attention in the general election cycle, but a new Data Targeting poll projects the race between University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen (R) and state Sen. Carol Blood (D-Bellevue) is closer than most observers might have expected. The DT survey (Sept. 29-28; 1,340 likely Nebraska general election voters; interactive voice response system & text) shows Pillen holding a 48-41 percent advantage over Sen. Blood. It is likely the ultimate spread will favor the Republican nominee to a greater degree, but this first glimpse into the race suggests that both campaigns will pick up the pace as we move closer to election day. Early voting in the Cornhusker State began yesterday.

Oregon: Major Race Change — Independent Betsy Johnson’s largest contributor is Nike co-founder Phil Knight, who has given the former state legislator’s gubernatorial campaign over $3.7 million. Now, however, Knight is changing allegiance. He announced plans to contribute $1 million to Republican Catherine Drazan’s campaign. The change is likely due to recent surveys finding Drazan taking a small lead over Democratic former state House Speaker Tina Kotek, with Johnson beginning to lag well behind.

The most recent survey, from Emerson College (Sept. 29-Oct. 1; 796 likely Oregon general election voters; multiple sampling techniques), sees Drazan topping Kotek and Johnson, 36-34-19 percent, respectively. Additionally, Drazan has developed a small lead in the six most recent surveys from five different polling firms.

Nebraska’s Gov. Ricketts to Become Sen. Ricketts? Dead Heats in CA-21 & FL-27; Oklahoma Shock Poll

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022

Senate

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R)

Nebraska: Gov. Ricketts Makes Succession Statement — Sen. Ben Sasse’s (R) resignation, to occur once he is confirmed as the University of Florida’s new president, has spurred discussion as to who will be appointed as Nebraska’s replacement junior senator. Term-limited Gov. Pete Ricketts (R), who refused to comment about his interest in assuming the position when Sen. Sasse announced his future plans, uttered a clarifying comment over the weekend.

Under Nebraska state law, a governor has 45 days to replace a resigning senator after the seat becomes officially vacant. Sen. Sasse indicated he will resign before the end of the year. Therefore, it is possible that Gov. Ricketts could make the appointment as one of his last official acts, or the likely incoming chief executive, University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen (R), would do so as one of his first duties.

Ricketts now indicates if he develops an interest in receiving the appointment, he will let the new governor choose the new senator and not appoint himself. In a crowded 2022 Republican gubernatorial primary, Gov. Ricketts endorsement of Pillen helped him win the nomination, so the early tea leaves are suggesting that the outgoing governor could be headed to the Senate.

New Hampshire: Dollars Changing Direction — Earlier, we speculated upon the National Republican Senatorial Committee eventually making the move to pull their media reservation dollars from New Hampshire and begin moving the money to places where the GOP candidate looks to be in better victory position — namely Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. With the NRSC’s canceling its $2.6 million budget for the Boston market, as reported by the Adminpact and Daily Kos Elections organizations, the move has been made.

This, however, does not mean the Republican sector is abandoning New Hampshire, especially since polling still shows nominee Don Bolduc within high single-digits of Sen. Maggie Hassan (D). The Senate Leadership Fund and other outside right-of-center allies have reserved another $23 million in media time, so they are clearly not giving up on the NH Senate race even though the state and national party leadership overtly attempted to deny Bolduc his nomination.

House

CA-21: Rep. Costa in Dead Heat — The Trafalgar Group released the first post-primary survey of California’s new 21st Congressional District and the results reveal a surprising dead heat between Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) and businessman and former FBI agent Michael Maher (R). The poll (Sept. 30/Oct. 3; 515 likely CA-21 general election voters; multiple sampling techniques) finds the two candidates tied at 44 percent.

While the Central Valley region is showing signs of voting more conservatively than the rest of the Golden State electorate, the Republicans taking this district would be quite a stretch. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the new 21st, which includes downtown Fresno, as D+16 while the Dave’s Redistricting App crew calculates a 58.2D – 39.7R partisan lean. In the jungle primary, Rep. Costa unexpectedly received just 47.0 percent of the vote, but the Democratic aggregate total was 57.0 percent.

FL-27: Tight Race Prediction Coming True — In 2020, Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Miami) upset then-Rep. Donna Shalala (D) from a South Florida district that votes Republican to a greater degree than the voter registration figures might suggest. The GOP redistricting map drawers made the seat more favorable for Rep. Salazar, but it still rates as a D+1 according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization and 52.4D – 46.5R on the Dave’s Redistricting App partisan scale.

Therefore, it is not surprising to see a SEA Polling & Strategic Design survey (Oct. 3-5; 400 likely FL-27 general election voters; live interview) finding state Sen. Annette Taddeo (D-Miami) and Rep. Salazar in a virtual dead heat (Taddeo, 47-46 percent). The poll also found Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) leading former governor and congressman, Charlie Crist (D), 50-44 percent within the 27th District, while Sen. Marco Rubio (R) held a 48-47 percent edge over Rep. Val Demings (D-Orlando).

Governor

Oklahoma: Shock Poll — Largely due to fallout from his Administration’s handling of some of the Covid 19 relief expenditures and attacks over his former business dealings, polling has suggested weakness for Gov. Kevin Stitt’s (R) re-election bid. Now we see a new survey that, for the first time, projects the governor falling behind his Democratic opponent, Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister (D).
The Sooner Poll, which surveys the Oklahoma electorate for various media outlets, released their new data (Oct. 3-6; 301 likely Oklahoma general election voters) and sees Hofmeister holding a surprising 47-44 percent lead. Though the Sooner Poll contains a very small sample and therefore a high error factor, it is becoming clear that this race will now draw further national attention.

Polls Confirm AZ Senate Race Tightening; Grassley Expands Lead in Iowa; Sen. Sasse to Resign;
Dems Up in NH

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Oct. 10, 2022

Senate

Venture capitalist Blake Masters (R) | Sen. Mark Kelly (D)

Arizona: Confirming Data — CBS News/YouGov released a survey of the Arizona Senate race last week (Sept. 30-Oct. 4; 1,164 registered Arizona voters; online) found GOP challenger Blake Masters pulling to within a 51-48 percent margin of Sen. Mark Kelly (D). CNN also publicized their Arizona survey (conducted by SSRS; Sept. 26-Oct. 2; 795 likely Arizona voters; live interview & text) that largely confirms the aforementioned results. In the CNN/SSRS poll, Sen. Kelly holds a 51-45 percent advantage.

Iowa: Grassley Expands Lead — In a national race that has not drawn much attention from pollsters, the Cygnal polling organization (Oct. 2-4; 600 likely Iowa voters) did test the Hawkeye State electorate and finds Sen. Chuck Grassley (R), running for an eighth term since originally being elected in 1980, leading retired Adm. Mike Franken (D) by a 54-40 percent count.

Though Sen. Grassley’s favorability rating has dropped to 50:44 percent favorable to unfavorable, the ballot test suggests he is still in strong position to win re-election in November. Adm. Franken’s favorability index is a similar, but lower at 33:28 percent. Cygnal reports the Republicans have a plus-13 on the generic ballot question, which should help the party’s candidates throughout the entire ballot.

Nebraska: Sen. Ben Sasse to Resign — Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse (R), who was first elected in 2014 and re-elected in 2020, announced late last week that, pending approval from the University of Florida Board of Trustees, he will resign his seat before the end of the year to become the University of Florida’s new president.

His leaving the Senate will mean that either outgoing Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) or the presumed incoming governor, Jim Pillen (R) — the University of Nebraska Regent who is heavily favored to win the gubernatorial election — will appoint a replacement. Since the current term for this seat does not expire until the beginning of 2027, the seat will go to special election in 2024 to fill the balance of the term. This particular Class II Senate seat next comes in-cycle in 2026.

House

NH-1 & 2: Dems Up in Both CDs — The St. Anselm College Survey Center conducted another of their regular New Hampshire electorate polls (Sept. 27-28; 901 registered New Hampshire voters; 450 NH-1 registered voters; 451 NH-2 registered voters; online) and while the electorate overwhelmingly believes the country is on the wrong track (20:69 percent), the state’s two Democratic US House incumbents appear in strong shape for re-election.

In the eastern 1st District, two-term Rep. Chris Pappas (D-Manchester) holds a 49-41 percent lead over former Trump White House aide Karoline Leavitt (R). In western District 2, five-term Rep. Annie Kuster (D-Hopkinton/Concord) holds a stronger 49-35 percent advantage over former Hillsborough County Treasurer Robert Burns (R).

RI-2: Republican Fung with Lead — Fleming Associates just completed a research survey for Rhode Island’s Roger Williams University (Sept. 29-Oct. 2; 254 likely RI-2 voters). The poll has less than the 300 minimum respondents one likes to see in a congressional study, but the results of this flash poll find Republican Allan Fung, the former Cranston mayor and two-time GOP gubernatorial nominee, holding a 46-40 percent lead over state Treasurer Seth Magaziner (D).

Though RI-2 is a heavily Democratic seat (D+17, according to the 538 data organization) Republicans have been targeting this open seat race for months because several polls have produced what they believe is promising data. The seat is open because Rep. Jim Langevin (D-Warwick) is retiring after serving what will be 11 full terms.