Category Archives: 2022

A Look at Primary Results
From Across Seven States

By Jim Ellis — June 8, 2022

Primary Results

Wealthy developer, former Republican and now Independent Rick Caruso surprised many by claiming first place in the open Los Angeles mayor’s race last night.

California: The Golden State’s Mixed Results — Wealthy developer, former Republican and now Independent Rick Caruso surprised many by claiming first place in the open Los Angeles mayor’s race last night; he topped US Rep. Karen Bass (D) by five percentage points. Far left San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin was recalled with 60 percent of the vote, and the down-ballot congressional results look to yield some interesting general election campaigns.

On positive notes for the GOP, former state Assemblywoman Connie Conway successfully won the special congressional election in the 22nd District and will assume office immediately after race certification to fill the unexpired portion of resigned Rep. Devin Nunes’ final congressional term. Additionally, Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita), in a district that was made more Democratic through redistricting, finished substantially ahead at this point, 50-35 percent, over former state Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D), the opponent he has twice beaten including a 333-vote win in 2020. An estimated quarter of the vote remains to be added, so these numbers will change at least to a degree, but the pair will again advance into the general election.

Two Central Valley seats have very low vote totals reporting, but both are interesting. In the most Democratic district in the nation that a Republican represents, Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) badly trails state Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), 47-26 percent, but with less than 15,000 votes counted. Surprisingly, Rep. Josh Harder (D-Turlock) holds only a 36-29 percent edge over San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti (R), but with less than 14,000 votes tabulated. In the neighboring new 13th District, Republican farmer/businessman John Duarte appears positioned to capture second place and is running just two percentage points behind state Assemblyman Alex Gray (D-Merced) with over half the votes counted. This appears to be a competitive race come the fall.

In Orange County, incumbent Rep. Young Kim (R-La Habra) appears to be placing second in the jungle primary but will advance to the general election. Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Orange County), after trailing most of the night, did place first in her new 45th CD and advances into the general election against Community College Trustee Jay Chen (D) as expected. Former state Assemblyman Scott Baugh, who was thought to be a strong Republican challenger to Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) in the coastal Orange County seat, saw the incumbent top 50 percent, some 20 points ahead of him, meaning this race may not be as competitive in November as once predicted.

The California counting, with almost all votes coming in through the mail and ballots accepted after the election will drag on for a period of weeks, so we won’t have final totals for some time.

Iowa: Admiral Franken Wins — Early in the election cycle, it appeared that former US Rep. Abby Finkenauer had the inside track to the Democratic US Senate nomination, but such was not to be as retired Navy Admiral Michael Franken easily defeated her by a 55-40 percent count to claim the party nomination. He will face Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) who won a landslide re-nomination for what would be an eighth six-year term.

The governor and House races, most of which were unopposed last night, all turned out as predicted. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) runs for a second full term and will square off against Democratic marketing consultant Deidre DeJear. As expected, state Sen. Zach Nunn (R-Altoona) was an easy Republican primary winner in the state’s 3rd District. He will now oppose two-term Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Des Moines) who has yet to reach 50 percent in any of her campaigns. Freshmen Reps. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa) and Ashley Hinson (R-Marion/Cedar Rapids) will both defend their competitive seats each against a pair of sitting state legislators, state Rep. Christina Bohannan (D-Iowa City) and state Sen. Liz Mathis (D-Hiawatha), respectively.

Mississippi: Incumbents Forced to Runoffs — It appears two Mississippi GOP congressional incumbents, Reps. Michael Guest (R-Brandon) and Steve Palazzo (R-Biloxi) will have to run in a secondary election to win re-nomination, an ominous sign for any southern incumbent. Because a majority of the voters chose a candidate other than the incumbent, a runoff vote will occur on June 28 between the top two finishers. Therefore, both Reps. Guest and Palazzo face difficult re-nomination prospects at the end of this month.

Rep. Guest and Navy Reserve officer Michael Cassidy will apparently battle in the 3rd District runoff election though about 15 percent of the estimated turnout is still outstanding. The two candidates are both hovering around the 47 percent mark, so it is unlikely that enough votes remain outstanding to allow one of the two to reach 50 percent. Challenger Cassidy labeled the incumbent as being too moderate, citing his vote to create the January 6 Commission, among other actions to justify his attack. Six-term Rep. Palazzo is under an ethics investigation for using campaign funds for personal use, and managed to only break 30 percent. His opponent looks to be Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell, who is clinging to second position but with almost a quarter of the votes still to be tabulated. Businessman Clay Wagner lags just over 2,000 votes behind Ezell in third position.

Montana: Tight Race Favoring ex-Rep. Zinke — In a surprisingly tight congressional race for Montana’s new western congressional district, a seat the state gained because of its strong population growth in national reapportionment, former US Interior Secretary and ex-Congressman Ryan Zinke appears to be successfully returning to the House but in a very close margin. At this writing, Zinke leads former state senator and frequent statewide candidate Al Olsewski by just about a percentage point as the final votes are being tabulated. The small margin will probably hold meaning that Zinke will become the new 1st District’s official Republican standard bearer. The final primary result should pave the wave for him to complete his political comeback attempt this November.

New Jersey: Key Re-Match Set — Without a statewide race on the ballot in 2022, New Jersey appears politically quiet this year. The top race in the state is a 7th District re-match between Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill) and former state Sen. Tom Kean, Jr. (R). The two battled to a 51-49 percent finish two years ago. Kean easily defeated a crowded Republican field to earn another shot at Malinowski who faces his Republican opponent in a less Democratic district post-redistricting. The seat now trends Republican, thus making this one of the GOP’s top conversion opportunities in the nation.

New Mexico: Ronchetti Wins Big — Former Albuquerque TV weatherman Mark Ronchetti, who held Sen. Ben Ray Lujan (D) to a closer-than-expected 52-46 percent win in 2020, romped to a win in the Republican governor’s primary topping the 58 percent mark after failing to qualify for the ballot through the Republican nominating convention. The Ronchetti win sets up a competitive battle with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) in the fall. The governor was unopposed for re-nomination last night.

In the gerrymandered southern 2nd District, freshman Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-Alamogordo) will face Las Cruces City Councilman Gabe Vasquez (D) in a district that now leans Democratic with the inclusion of part of Albuquerque. This will be a highly competitive general election campaign and a must-win for Republicans if they are to capture the House majority as many predict.

South Dakota: Incumbents Score Big Wins — In an unsurprising result, both Sen. John Thune (R) and Gov. Kristi Noem (R) scored landslide Republican primary victories with each topping the 70 percent mark in voter support. In the state’s at-large congressional primary, second-term Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-Mitchell) defeated Rapid City state Rep. Taffy Howard with a 59-41% spread to win re-nomination for a third two-year term. All three of the statewide GOP incumbents now become prohibitive favorites for re-election in November.

Seven States Host Primaries;
More House News

By Jim Ellis — June 7, 2022

Primaries

Iowa’s seven-term US Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) will be 89 at the time of the general election.

Voting Today: Seven States Host Primaries — One of the busiest nomination days occurs today and voters will be choosing November candidates in states stretching from California to New Jersey. Those state primaries on the calendar for today include California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota. One special general election will also be determined, that being the race in California’s 22nd District from which former Congressman Devin Nunes (R) resigned at the end of last year. Republican former state Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway is the clear favorite to win the special, but will have no place on a congressional ballot during the regular election.

Some of the more interesting races include Iowa Democrats choosing an opponent for veteran Sen. Chuck Grassley (R), who will be 89 years old at the time of the general election, former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, attempting to return to the House of Representatives from Montana; Mississippi Congressman Steven Palazzo (R-Biloxi), fighting for re-nomination amid an ethics investigation; and a host of US House incumbents attempting to win post-redistricting CDs that in some cases are very different than the ones they currently represent.

House

NY-23: Dems Decide on Nominee; Filing Ends Friday — Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) has scheduled the replacement special election for resigned Rep. Tom Reed’s (R) vacant seat to run concurrently with the regular Aug. 23 congressional primary. Under New York electoral procedure, the party leaders nominate candidates for special elections, and the local Democratic leadership has already made their selection. Retired Air Force Colonel Max Della Pia was selected as the special election nominee, and he will face whomever the Republican leadership decides to nominate. Della Pia also said he will file for the regular term, but the voters will choose the nominee for that race, also on Aug. 23.

Several Republicans are in the mix, the most noteworthy name being mentioned of late is New York Republican Party chairman Nick Langworthy. Candidate filing for the regular election ends this Friday, June 10.

The southwestern Upstate district favors the Republicans. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rating is R+23. Dave’s Redistricting App scores it 55.37 percent R and 41.98 percent D. Former President Trump carried the new 23rd District in 2020 by a 55-43 percent count.

SC-7: Rep. Rice Trailing in Primary Poll — With the South Carolina primary fast approaching on June 14, the Trafalgar Group released a new survey of the Palmetto State’s 7th District that features Republican incumbent Tom Rice (R-Myrtle Beach) who is fighting for re-nomination after being one of the 10 House Republicans to support the second attempt to impeach former President Trump.

According to the Trafalgar data (May 26-29; 572 likely SC-7 Republican primary voters; mixed data collection elements), Rep. Rice trails state Rep. Russell Fry (R-Murrell’s Inlet), Trump’s endorsed candidate, by a substantial 42-25 percent clip within the field of seven Republican candidates. If no one receives majority support, which appears likely according to this poll, the top two will advance into a two-week runoff campaign that will be decided June 28.

Texas: Canvasses for Two Dem Runoffs Finally End — Though recounts are likely to be called, the canvassing process for the state’s two unresolved May 24 runoff elections has concluded. At the end of the counting, both leaders heading into the canvass gained strength.

In Rep. Henry Cuellar’s (D-Laredo) 28th CD, the Congressman increased his lead from a small spread of 177 votes in the unofficial count to 281 votes. In the open McAllen-anchored 15th CD, businesswoman Michelle Vallejo (D) increased her tiny lead from 23 votes to 30. In the latter race, attorney and Iraq War veteran Ruben Ramirez is indicating that he will ask for the ballots to be counted again citing the razor-thin difference between the two competitors. Contenders have until tomorrow to officially request recounts.

Assuming that Cuellar and Vallejo are both certified the winners of their runoffs, which is the likely outcome in both cases, they will face Republican former congressional aide Cassy Garcia (R) and insurance agent and 2020 nominee Monica de la Cruz (R), respectively.

McCormick Concedes in PA; Michigan Gov. Whitmer Holds Huge Lead

Dr. Mehmet Oz (left) and former hedge fund CEO David McCormick

By Jim Ellis — June 6, 2022

Senate

Pennsylvania: McCormick Concedes to Dr. Oz — The long post-primary Pennsylvania Republican Senate drama finally came to a close Friday when former hedge fund CEO David McCormick conceded to television Dr. Mehmet Oz. The general election between Dr. Oz and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) is now underway, but the Democratic nominee also has issues.

With the recount of the May 17 election progressing, including the ballots arriving after election day being added to the count, the results were not turning around to the degree that McCormick had publicly predicted. Therefore, instead of forcing what could have been a long drawn out post-election period of individual ballot challenges and lawsuits attempting to overturn Dr. Oz’s approximate 900 vote lead, McCormick decided the best course of action was to concede and allow the party to move forward.

As we know, Democratic nominee Fetterman suffered a stroke right before the primary as a result of a blood clot in his heart. Fetterman is now making statements that he was near death during the ordeal, and must refrain from active campaigning for an undetermined time. The situation creates a unique general election with both parties having internal challenges while having to conduct tough campaigns before a swing electorate.

Redistricting

Florida: State Supreme Court Says No — The Florida state Supreme Court, responding to a petition asking the high panel to review the new congressional map, said they do not have jurisdiction at this point in the process. The high court indicated that the District Court of Appeals is the body that must hear the case. With the June 17 candidate filing deadline coming nearer, further delays likely point to the enacted map being in place for the 2022 elections. The Florida primary is Aug. 23.

Governor

Michigan: Republicans Reeling After Ballot Disqualification — A new Target Insyght poll (May 26-27; 600 registered Michigan voters) finds Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) holding huge leads against the remaining GOP candidates after former Detroit Police Chief James Craig and businessman Perry Johnson were disqualified from the race because they failed to produce enough valid required petition signatures. Against all of the largely unknown Republican candidates, Gov. Whitmer scores either 57 or 58 percent opposite 24 percent for the top current GOP contender, businessman Kevin Rinke. With the candidate filing deadline long since passed, the Republicans now find themselves buried in a major political hole from which it will be difficult to recover.

Ohio: DeWine Leading, but Under 50 percent — Two days ago, Suffolk University released the results of their Ohio US Senate survey, which we covered, and yesterday their gubernatorial numbers were made public. The Suffolk study (May 22-24; 500 likely Ohio general election voters; live interview) finds Gov. Mike DeWine (R) leading Dayton Mayor Nan Whatley (D), 45-30 percent, with Independent Neil Petersen attracting 11 percent support. Gov. DeWine won re-nomination in May, but did so with only a plurality within his own party. While his general election lead is comfortable, being well under 50 percent continues to show a significant degree of political weakness.

Oregon: New Shock Poll — Republican pollster Nelson Research (May 25-27; 516 likely Oregon general election voters; live interview) finds new Oregon GOP gubernatorial nominee Christine Drazan, the former state House Minority Leader, taking a small but surprising 30-28 percent lead over former state House Speaker Tina Kotek (D). Additionally, Republicans are only one point behind (39-40 percent) on the generic ballot question.

These results are particularly surprising when seeing the Democrats outperform the Republicans in the recent May 17 primary turnout. Examining the polling methodology, the sampling universe skews high for both major parties. The survey respondents divide 40.1 percent Democratic, 33.5 percent Republican, and 26.4 percent non-affiliated. Actual Oregon partisan registration for May of 2022 is listed as Democratic 34.3 percent; Republican 24.6 percent; and Unaffiliated 34.3 percent. Therefore, the sample skew could largely account for the unexpected ballot test result.

Ohio Senate, Maine Gubernatorial Races Tight

By Jim Ellis — June 3, 2022

Senate

Ohio: First Post Primary Poll Tight — The Ohio primary was May 3, and now we see the first public general election poll testing US Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown) and Republican best-selling author J.D. Vance. Suffolk University surveyed the Ohio electorate (May 22-24; 500 likely Ohio general election voters; live interview) and finds Vance jumping out to a slight three-point lead, 42-39 percent. The poll’s tight results is not unusual for an Ohio race, which typically are rated as toss-ups until the final two weeks.

In other questions, 42.6 percent of the respondents answered that either the economy or inflation was their most important issue, with abortion registering third at 11.6 percent. Even though he was leading the race, Vance’s favorability index was surprisingly upside down at 35:38 percent positive to negative. Rep. Ryan held a 40:23 percent positive ratio. President Biden fell to 39:56 percent. A total of 49 percent said they want to change the direction in which President Biden is leading the nation, while 24 percent said they want to support the President’s leadership.

Governor

Maine: Gov. Mills Holds Tepid Edge — Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D), who has seen her approval ratings drop from strong heights of late, still tops former Gov. Paul LePage (R) in a combined new statewide survey from Fabrizio Lee & Associates (R) and Impact Research (D) for AARP (May 10-13; 1,050 likely Maine voters with a representative sample of 500 likely voters; live interview & text), but the respondents have a sour outlook regarding the future. While Gov. Mills holds a 51-46 percent edge on the ballot test against ex-Gov. LePage, her lead drops to just one point, 44-43 percent, among those who say they are definitely committed to one of the candidates.

By a whopping margin of 18:82 percent, however, the respondents believe the country is on the wrong track. The state of Maine is also viewed negatively in a 43:56 percent ratio. President Biden’s job approval is upside-down at 45:54 percent. Gov. Mills’ job approval ratio barely remains in positive territory at 49:47 percent favorable to unfavorable.

House

MI-3: Rep. Meijer Trails in New Survey — Michigan freshman Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids) fared poorly in redistricting, taking his Grand Rapids-anchored district from a R+9 rating according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization to a D+3 with 50 percent new territory. A new Public Policy Polling survey (May 25-26; 676 registered MI-3 voters; interactive voice response system) shows Rep. Meijer falling behind Democrat Hillary Scholten, his 2020 general election opponent, by a 39-37 percent clip. The change in district lines and the new partisan complexion certainly makes this result believable. The 2022 MI-3 race will be rated a toss-up with no clear favorite.

SC-1: GOP Primary Tightening — A new Trafalgar Group survey (May 26-29; 556 likely SC-1 Republican primary voters; multiple data collection sources) sees the Republican primary challenge of former state representative and 2018 congressional nominee Katie Arrington coming within potential upset range of freshman Rep. Nancy Mace (R-Charleston). The Trafalgar organization sees the race closing to 46-41 percent, which is much different than a Basswood Research poll taken around the same period (May 21-22; 400 likely SC-1 Republican primary voters). The latter poll found the congresswoman taking a commanding 44-24 percent lead. The South Carolina primary is scheduled for June 14.

PA GOP Senate Recount Continues; Wisconsin Dem Primary Tightening; House Races News

Dr. Mehmet Oz (left) leads former hedge fund CEO David McCormick by 902 votes.

By Jim Ellis — June 2, 2022

Senate

Pennsylvania: McCormick Campaign Attempts “Hail Mary” — The latest signals coming from the Pennsylvania Republican Senate recount suggest that former hedge fund CEO David McCormick’s campaign representatives know their collective backs are against the proverbial wall. The McCormick contingent is now asking for hand recounts from certain precincts in certain counties where they suspect “data abnormalities.”

Since Dr. Mehmet Oz’s small lead did not lapse opposite to what the McCormick campaign had originally predicted, it appears the chances are growing strong that Dr. Oz will be certified as the primary winner on June 8. The eventual nominee, presumably Dr. Oz, will face Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman who easily won his party’s nomination on May 17.

Wisconsin: Dem Nomination Tightening — Milwaukee Bucks basketball club executive and former Obama White House aide Alex Lasry has released another of his internal polls testing the Democratic US Senate primary. The Normington Petts survey (May 18-22; 700 likely Wisconsin Democratic primary voters; live interview) finds Lasry moving closer to race leader Mandela Barnes, the state’s lieutenant governor. The new numbers find the Dem contest within three percentage points, with Barnes leading 34-31 percent, while state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski trails with an 18 percent preference factor.

In February, Barnes’s margin was 35-27-9 percent over Lasry and Godlewski, respectively. In actuality, this poll finds that Godlewski is the candidate having the most dynamic momentum right now, in effect doubling her level of support from the last quarter. The Democratic primary winner on Aug. 9 will then face Sen. Ron Johnson (R) in the general election.

House

NY-10: A 15th Candidate Joins — State Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon (D-Brooklyn) became the 15th Democratic candidate to announce for the open court-drawn 10th Congressional District. The new 10th covers Lower Manhattan and part of Brooklyn.

Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-Westchester County) is moving from over an hour away to run in this district and faces former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, ex-Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman, now two state Assembly members, and two NYC City councilmembers within the large pack of candidates. This will clearly be one of the key races to watch in the New York congressional primary scheduled for Aug. 23. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates this seat a D+69, so the Democratic primary will determine the new member.

NC-11: First Post-Primary Poll — Democratic nominee Jasmine Beach-Ferrara released an internal small sample poll from the Survey 160 firm (May 18-20; 308 likely NC-11 voters; text) that projects new Republican nominee Chuck Edwards, a Hendersonville area state Senator, to a 46-40 percent general election lead. Sen. Edwards defeated US Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-Hendersonville) by a percentage point on May 17 to claim the GOP nomination.

Soon after a tough primary, it is not particularly surprising to see Edwards with an upside down favorability index of 36:40 percent. Rated as an R+14 district, it is likely the voting patterns will move back toward Edwards in greater numbers as we move further away from a divisive primary and closer to the general election.

Governor

Connecticut: Gov. Lamont Begins with Lead — Home state pollster Quinnipiac University tested the Connecticut governor’s contest (May 19-23; 1,660 registered Connecticut voters; live interview) and sees incumbent Ned Lamont (D) holding a 51-43 percent lead over his 2018 GOP opponent, businessman Bob Stefanowski. Gov. Lamont’s almost unanimous support among self-identified Democrats (92-6 percent) largely accounts for his positive margin in this heavily Democratic political domain.

The governor holds a 52:38 percent favorable job approval rating, which compares very favorably to President Biden’s upside-down 40:54 percent ratio. Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal post 45:37 and 45:43 percent respective scores. Sen. Blumenthal is on the ballot this year, suggesting a race against him could be one that potentially turns more competitive than expected.