Category Archives: 2022

Ohio Senate Race Flip-Flopping; NY-19 Close; Zeldin-Hochul Race Tightens

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Sept. 16, 2022

Senate

Author J.D. Vance, Ohio Senate Candidate

Ohio: Senate Race Flip-Flopping — After most polling had given author J.D. Vance (R) a small lead in the Senate race, Suffolk University’s new survey (Sept. 5-7; 500 likely Ohio general election voters; live interview) finds US Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown) claiming a slim one-point, 47-46 percent advantage. Additionally, the Democratic firm, Impact Research, also went into the field (Aug. 17-23; 800 likely Ohio general election voters) finds Rep. Ryan holding a slightly larger 50-47 percent margin. This race continues to seesaw between the two candidates.

Alaska: Sen. Murkowski Falls Behind — A new poll from the Fabrizio Ward/Impact Research organizations for AARP (Sept. 6-11; 1,050 likely Alaska voters; 500 statewide sample; 550 voters 50 years of age and older; live interview & text) sees the Alaska Senate race heading in a much different direction than even the jungle primary results revealed. The AARP poll finds former Alaska Administration Director Kelly Tshibaka (R) leading Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), 43-35 percent, which is a significant change from the Aug. 16 primary vote when the senator topped her main opponent, 45-39 percent.

The AARP pollsters delved into the Ranked Choice rounds and found that in the final vote, Murkowski and Tshibaka fall into a virtual dead heat tie. The pollsters indicated the internal raw number final round count among the survey participants was 227 for Sen. Murkowski and 224 for Tshibaka. The pollsters then stated that it is “an understatement to call that within the margin of error.” Because the race is coming down to a pair of Republicans battling, the partisan context is not an issue. Still, the implications associated with this major contest are of national political interest.

House

NY-19: Another Race Brandishing a Close Poll — Though Rep. Pat Ryan (D-Poughkeepsie) won the NY-19 special election in late August, he is seeking re-election in the 18th District. Attorney Josh Riley is the succeeding Democratic nominee who is opposing Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro (R). A new Garin Hart Yang Research Group poll (Aug. 29-Sept. 1; 403 NY-19 likely general election voters; live interview) again finds the race within the polling margin of error, like most competitive races around the country. The GHY data finds Riley leading Molinaro, 47-44 percent.

The new 19th CD has only 43 percent carryover from the current 19th where the August special election was held. Therefore, this race with a new candidate lineup is a much different campaign. The special election ended in a 51-49 percent Democratic victory. The new 19th is slightly more Democratic but still very much in play during the general election. This is yet another key House race carrying national implications toward determining the next majority.

Governor

New York: Becoming Closer — A new survey, this one from the Republican survey research firm co/efficient, confirms an earlier poll that Gov. Kathy Hochul’s (D) lead over US Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley/East Long Island) is down to single digits. The co/efficient survey (Sept. 5-7; 1,194 likely New York general election voters; live interview & text) posts the governor to only a 49-43 percent lead. Last week, the Trafalgar Group released their poll (Aug. 31-Sept. 1; 1,091 likely New York general election voters; multiple sampling techniques) that gave the governor a similar 48-43 percent edge. In between, however, Emerson College (Sept. 4-6; 1,000 likely New York general election voters; online, text & interactive voice response system) produced a 50-35 percent ballot test in Gov. Hochul’s favor.

The Turnout Precursor

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022

Retired Army Gen. Don Bolduc (R)

While the New Hampshire results are not completely final, retired Army Gen. Don Bolduc has been projected as the Republican primary winner and he now advances to face Sen. Maggie Hassan (D).

The senator’s campaign wasted no time in attacking Bolduc, hitting him with an abortion ad the day after the primary ended.

Gen. Bolduc’s margin of victory over state Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem) will be in the neighborhood of 1,800 votes when all the counting is finally complete.

Turnout was robust. It appears the New Hampshire Republican primary will feature, when the counts become official, approximately 145,000 voters. This is an extraordinarily high figure, since it is only about 8,000 short of the number who participated in the 2020 first-in-the-nation New Hampshire presidential primary.

The Democratic side will have drawn only approximately 95,000 when all of the towns and counties finally report, though Sen. Hassan and state Sen. Tom Sherman (D-Rye) were largely unopposed in the Senate and governor’s race.

The presidential nomination election, which in many ways becomes an economic industry in New Hampshire because of the major campaign spending from so many national campaigns that is associated with winning the first vote in the nominating process, last drew 153,674 GOP voters. Typically, turnout for the presidential primaries are close to general election participation levels.

The 2nd Congressional District Republican race was just as close as the Senate campaign, but it now appears certain that former Hillsborough County Treasurer Robert Burns defeated Keene Mayor George Hansel by just under three percentage points or a little over 1,600 votes. He now advances to face five-term Rep. Annie Kuster (D-Hopkinton/Concord).

The 1st District was decided on Tuesday night, and former Trump White House aide Karoline Leavitt will officially challenge two-term Rep. Chris Pappas (D-Manchester) in one of the most politically volatile congressional districts in the country.

Though former President Trump did not endorse a candidate in the Senate race, his supporters had a big night on Tuesday and are largely credited with delivering the victories for Bolduc, Leavitt, and Burns. It remains to be seen how the national Republican committees respond, since there was clear consternation among the party leadership about the candidates and Bolduc, in particular.

Yesterday, however, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), the National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman, said his committee remains fully committed to New Hampshire as a key target race. The organization has over $9 million in media time already reserved for the Granite State’s general election.

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Tight Polls in Arizona; Independent Fairs Well in Utah; More Alaska Ranked Choice Voting Analysis

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022

Senate

Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly (D)

Arizona: Two Tight Polls — In the 2020 special US Senate election, then-candidate Mark Kelly (D) consistently ran ahead of then-Sen. Martha McSally (R) and by an average of 7.1 percentage points in 21 polls conducted from Oct. 1 to Election Day, but only won the race, 51-49 percent. In the 2020 cycle, we see much closer polling as two new surveys exemplify.

The pair of studies, both taken during the Sept. 6-7 period, are from Emerson College (627 likely Arizona voters; multiple sampling techniques) and the Republican research firm Insider Advantage (550 likely Arizona voters). Emerson finds the race well within the polling margin of error at 47-45 percent, while the IA result projects a 45-39 percent division. Both post Sen. Kelly leading Republican nominee and venture capitalist Blake Masters.

Utah: Another Independent Faring Well — Utah Independent US Senate candidate Evan McMullin released a Democratic firm’s poll that yields him a one-point edge. Impact Research (Aug. 29-Sept. 1; 800 likely Utah general election voters) found McMullin leading Sen. Mike Lee (R) by a 47-46 percent margin. Sen. Lee quickly countered with re-releasing his early August WPA Intelligence poll that saw him holding a major 50-32 percent advantage. Expect the Lee campaign to soon release more recent data.

House

AK-AL: More Ranked Choice Analysis — The Fair Vote organization, which is the principal promoter of the Ranked Choice Voting system, released a further analysis of the RCV vote in the Alaska special election that elected Democrat Mary Peltola, even though she attracted only 40 percent of the actual vote. The Ranked Choice advocates claim the system rewards the candidate who has the broadest support, but it tends to do the opposite since candidates with minority support have won most of the major races where the system has been used.

The analysis suggests that had candidate Nick Begich III been opposite Peltola in the final round instead of former governor and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, he would have won the race. The Fair Vote analysis reveals that 59 percent of the Palin vote would have gone Begich’s way — as opposed to Palin gaining only 50.3 percent of the Begich second choice votes. The bigger difference, however, was Peltola attracting only six percent of the Palin second-choice votes as compared to the 28 percent she received from Begich voters.

What the analysis fails to include, however, are the more than 11,000 Begich voters whose ballots were not counted in the second round. The analysis claims those people simply didn’t make an additional ranked choice, but in reality, it may be due to a lack of understanding the confusing system. In other places, attorneys who have challenged the system report that most ballots are disqualified because the voter inaccurately completed the ballot. Since Palin lost by 5,219 votes, more than 11,000 non-counted Begich ballots could have made the difference, and it is likely that a large number of these had their ballots disqualified as opposed to not making a choice. Therefore, the Fair Vote conclusion that Palin lost because the Begich voters eschewed her may not be entirely accurate.

Governor

Arizona: Evolving Dead Heat Race — The aforementioned pair of Arizona polls from Emerson College and Insider Advantage (see Arizona Senate race above) forecasts an even closer race for governor than they do for US Senate. Emerson College projects a straight tie between Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) and former Phoenix news anchor Kari Lake (R), with both candidates posting 46 percent support scores. Insider Advantage finds a similar result with Hobbs leading by the slightest of margins, 44-43 percent.

Gen. Bolduc Leads;
Gov. McKee Survives

By Jim Ellis — Sept. 14, 2022

The Final Primaries

Retired Army Gen. Don Bolduc (R)

New Hampshire — The last major US Senate primary is close to concluding as retired Army Gen. Don Bolduc, despite being wildly outspent, appears to have turned back state Senate President Chuck Morse’s late race momentum and is staked to a one-point, 37-36 percent lead (1,270 votes) in the New Hampshire Republican Senate primary with 85 percent of the expected vote counted.

Though the margin is tight, it is most likely that Gen. Bolduc will advance into a shortened general election cycle against incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan (D).

A great deal of controversy surrounded this primary, particularly a verbal sparring battle between Gen. Bolduc and Gov. Chris Sununu (R). Both had unflattering things to say about the other, and now it will be interesting if we see a quick healing between the two. No doubt Democrats will use the governor’s words against Bolduc. Even before the votes were tabulated, however, Gov. Sununu was sending more conciliatory signals and stressing the importance of Republicans uniting to defeat Sen. Hassan, whom he says, “nobody likes.”

Though Bolduc was viewed as the weakest general election candidate in the field of six, head-to-head test polling didn’t show him any further behind Sen. Hassan than those, such as Sen. Morse, who were viewed as the better options to become the Republican standard bearer.

The Republican leadership will now have a difficult decision about how to proceed. Do they invest heavily in this race to back a candidate who they believe is weak even though Sen. Hassan appears vulnerable in a state that could easily swing Republican, or to do they cut their losses early and transfer the funds to another place where their chances for victory might be brighter? It will be interesting to see what they decide.
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Final Primary Preview

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022

We have finally reached the end of primary season, as voters in three northeastern states will cast their nomination ballots today. Once these votes are counted, all of the stand-alone primary states will have nominated their general election candidates. At that point only Louisiana, which holds its qualification election concurrently with the general, will remain in primary mode.

Each of the states holding their primaries are in the east, with New England’s New Hampshire and Rhode Island on the schedule along with Delaware in the Mid-Atlantic region.

New Hampshire — The most noteworthy primary is the New Hampshire Republican Senate race, complete with its share of controversy. Polling leader Don Bolduc, a retired Army General who ran unsuccessfully in 2020 (failing to prevail in the Republican primary in order to challenge Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen), and Gov. Chris Sununu (R) have been in a public war of words. Gen. Bolduc accused the governor of being a “communist sympathizer” and that his family’s business supports terrorism. The governor retorted that Bolduc is a “conspiracy theory type” who is not “a serious candidate.”

Many in the Republican Party, including Gov. Sununu, believe that Gen. Bolduc will not be a strong enough nominee against Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) even though polling shows that she is vulnerable. The governor has endorsed state Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem), who seems to be the only viable competitor who could deny Bolduc the nomination among the 10 others on the ballot.

The latest available Senate poll, this from the University of New Hampshire (Aug. 25-29; 892 likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters; online), found Gen. Bolduc leading Sen. Morse, 43-22 percent. Since this poll was conducted, however, some $4 million has been spent attempting to deny Bolduc the nomination, and Democratic organizations have come from the outside to help him win the primary since they, too, believe that he would be easiest for Sen. Hassan to beat.

The retired General is at an extreme financial disadvantage, so he has little ability to promote himself. This race will draw the most attention tonight.

New Hampshire’s two congressional districts also feature competitive Republican primaries. Both seats will be hotly contested in the general election because Reps. Chris Pappas (D-Manchester) and Annie Kuster (D-Hopkinton/Concord) are clear Republican targets.

Another crowded ten-person Republican 1st District primary appears to be coming down to a battle among 2020 nominee Matt Mowers, who held Rep. Pappas to a 51-46 percent re-election victory before an electorate that has defeated more incumbents than any other in the nation, former Trump White House aide Karoline Leavitt, and ex-television news reporter Gail Huff Brown, wife of former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R). Polling suggests that Mowers has the slight edge heading into election day.

In the western 2nd District, the Republican race is a two-way battle between former Hillsborough County Treasurer Robert Burns and Keene Mayor George Hansel. Should Burns win the GOP nomination, and polling suggests he will, his challenge opposite Rep. Kuster will be formidable.

Rhode Island — The most notable race on the Rhode Island card is the Democratic primary for governor. Dan McKee assumed the governorship when incumbent Gina Raimondo (D) resigned to accept her appointment as US Commerce Secretary.

The new governor, running for a first full term in his own right, has four Democratic challengers, and a close outcome in tomorrow’s primary is expected. McKee’s four opponents are Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, businesswoman Helena Foulkes, former Secretary of State Matt Brown, and physician Luis Daniel Munoz. It appears the race is winnowing to a battle between Gov. McKee and Gorbea. Today’s winner becomes the prohibitive favorite in the general election.

Delaware — With no governor or senator on the ballot this year, the Delaware primary is basically a non-event. At-large Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Wilmington) is unopposed in the Democratic primary, and educator/actor Lee Murphy is the only candidate on the Republican side. The general election will not be competitive, since Rep. Blunt Rochester is a lock for re-election.