Category Archives: 2022

Virginia Polling: Still Close

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 18, 2021 — The co/efficient polling organization has conducted two surveys in the Virginia governor’s race within the last month and both continue to find a toss-up race.

Former Virginia governor, Terry McAuliffe (D)

While the Glenn Youngkin (R) campaign has so far not defined former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) in definitive contrasting terms — something that must occur if the Republican is to remain in victory range from a state that is cutting against his party — the numbers still remain close.

In co/efficient’s first August poll, taken for the Virginia Conservatives for Clean Energy organization (July 25-27; 762 likely Virginia voters, interactive voice response system and text), McAuliffe’s lead was 45-40 percent. Six polls, from five different pollsters have been released in this race, and all show both candidates within the 40s. The first co/efficient survey, incidentally, returns the lowest individual support numbers for both candidates.

The second co/efficient survey, released yesterday according to The Hill newspaper (Aug. 8-9; 1,200 likely Virginia voters, interactive voice response system and text), sees a closer ballot test, 47-45 percent in favor of McAuliffe, again returning similar results with their previous study and consistent with all other public polling beginning with WPA Intelligence’s release in early June (McAuliffe 48-46 percent).

Averaging all six public ballot test results, McAuliffe scores a mean of 46.5 percent as compared to Youngkin’s 43.2 percent, which tells us that a group of professional polling teams finds the race as a virtual dead heat with the former governor holding a slight edge. These margins are similar to the 47.7 – 45.2 percent final result that McAuliffe recorded over Republican Ken Cuccinelli in their 2013 governor’s race.

The 2021 race could actually be even closer. Since polling in the past several elections has tended to understate Republican support typically by two or so percentage points, the idea that the current race is nip-and-tuck is even further supported. Additionally, looking at the Democratic primary election, just over 34,000 less people voted in the 2021 Democratic primary than did in 2017. This is opposite of almost all other elections during the same time period that find drastically increased voter turnout percentages.

McAuliffe has already been tying Youngkin to former President Donald Trump, attempting to paint him as an extremist and linking him to a national candidate who fared poorly in Virginia both in 2016 and 2020.

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Rep. Ron Kind to Retire

Wisconsin Rep. Ron Kind (D-La Crosse)

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 12, 2021 — Veteran Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind (D-La Crosse) said Tuesday that 26 years in the House of Representatives will be enough. He told the covering reporters that he is “out of gas,” and will not seek re-election in 2022. Kind was first elected to his southwestern Badger State congressional district in 1996.

In his remarks, the congressman said he is ” . . . part of a dying breed in public service today in Washington and certainly in Madison — someone who tried to be reasonable, pragmatic, thoughtful, worked hard to try to find common ground with my colleagues, work in a bipartisan way to find bipartisan solutions for the challenges that we face.”

Wisconsin’s 3rd District is one of seven seats in the country that voted for ex-President Trump in both 2020 and 2016 (Trump ’20: 51-47 percent; Trump ’16: 49-45 percent) and elects a Democrat to the House. Kind’s 2020 election percentage margin, 51-49, was the closest of his long career. Over his 11 re-election campaigns not including 2020, the long-time incumbent averaged 64.8 percent of the general election vote.

Rep. Kind’s 2020 November opponent, retired Navy SEAL Derrick Van Orden (R), had already announced his return for a re-match and had raised just over $750,000 since the beginning of this year, holding more than $600,000 in his campaign account according to the June 30 financial disclosure report. Despite his retirement announcement, Kind had been active in raising money, bringing in over $630,000 since the beginning of the year and was in strong financial shape with just under $1.4 million in the bank at the June 30 reporting deadline.

Therefore, and considering his active work in the district this year, the retirement announcement comes as a surprise. Examining the district’s recent changing voting history, since the electorate posted 55 percent for President Obama in 2012 to Rep. Kind having a close re-election eight years later, WI-3 likely becomes the Republicans’ top national conversion target, at least for the short term.

The 3rd District sits in the far western corner of the state, beginning at the southwestern tip of the Wisconsin southern border, just across the Mississippi River from Dubuque, Iowa. It then travels northward up the Iowa and Minnesota borders to encompass its two population anchor cities of La Crosse and Eau Claire, that house just over 52,000 and 67,000 individuals, respectively. The district then moves east to capture some of the central Wisconsin rural areas.

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New Poll Again Shows Tight
Numbers in Georgia Senate Race

Georgia freshman Sen. Raphael Warnock (D)

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 11, 2021 — Late last week, Public Policy Polling released their new Georgia Senate findings (Aug. 4-5; 622 Georgia voters, interactive voice response system) and the results place the new Peach State Senate race in familiar territory: a virtual tie.

While PPP finds that freshman Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) leads three tested Republican potential nominees, former Sen. Kelly Loeffler, retired football star Herschel Walker, and three-term state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, only when paired against Black does Warnock’s edge extend beyond the polling margin of error. This early poll suggests what the conventional political wisdom already predicts, that the 2022 Senate race will again feature a close finish.

To reiterate, Sen. Warnock, though winning his seat only in 2020, must run for a full six-year term next year because he won the special election to fill the unexpired portion of former Sen. Johnny Isakson’s (R) final term. You will remember that Sen. Isakson resigned at the end of 2019 due to health reasons and Gov. Brian Kemp (R) appointed Loeffler to fill the seat until the special election was conducted.

The PPP results find Walker, who has yet to announce (and it’s still even unclear as to whether he will run), in the best position of the three tested potential candidates. In this poll, Sen. Warnock’s edge is 48-46 percent. Loeffler fares comparably with Walker, though slightly worse, trailing 44-47 percent. Commissioner Black, the only officially announced candidate of the group, falls behind by eight percentage points, 38-46 percent.

The favorability indexes provide further clues. Keeping in mind that almost everyone tends to skew negatively on the PPP favorability scores, the two benchmarks, President Biden and former President Trump, score 46:48 percent favorable to unfavorable and 43:48 percent, respectively. Sen. Warnock posts a 43:42 percent job approval score. Walker, obviously exclusively due to the personal recognition coming from both his college and professional football career, has the best result: 41:28 percent. Loeffler fares poorly: 28:47 percent, while Commissioner Black is an even split at 15:15 percent; still, that means 70 percent of the voters don’t have enough information about him to form an opinion.

These numbers provide us with several conclusions: first, Sen. Warnock has yet to establish himself beyond a partisan framework. The 85:8 percent score among Democrats carries his overall positive mark. He records a predictable 6:78 percent mark among Republicans, but perhaps most indicative, just 33:45 percent among those classifying themselves as political Independents.

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The US HOUSE ReMatches

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 9, 2021 — Earlier this week, former Maine congressman, Bruce Poliquin (R), who lost his seat in 2018 through the Ranked Choice Voting system after placing first in the original count, declared his 2022 candidacy for a re-match with Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston).

As we look toward the ’22 US House cycle, we see 13 close 2020 contenders (where the winner scored 52 percent or less) who have already announced that they will return for another run. Including Poliquin, only two of the 13 are former incumbents.

Below is a synopsis of the re-match races to date:

CA-25: Rep. Mike Garcia (R)

Former state Assemblywoman Christie Smith (D) has lost twice to Rep. Garcia but has announced a return for a third run after originally saying she would attempt to regain her seat in the state legislature. She will have competition in the June 7 jungle primary, however. Six other Democrats have declared their candidacies, and even resigned Rep. Katie Hill (D) has made noises about running again.

Redistricting will be a major factor in the outcome. The last race was decided by just 333 votes, so how the 2022 race forms next year is extremely uncertain.

CA-48: Rep. Michelle Steel (R)

Steel, a former Orange County Supervisor, defeated freshman Rep. Harley Rouda (D), 51-49 percent, in a coastal seat that had traditionally been strongly Republican. Redistricting will of course affect this district, like all others in southern California with the state losing a congressional seat for the first time in apportionment history, but Rouda is not waiting to view new boundary lines. He has already announced his return as a 2022 congressional candidate.

GA-7: Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D)

Expect redistricting to change this marginal political district in a major way. With Democrats converting two Atlanta suburban seats in consecutive elections, Republican map drawers are likely to concede one of the two CDs to the Democrats while making the other much better for a GOP candidate.

It is likely that Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) will be the Democratic beneficiary of the draw, while freshman Rep. Bourdeaux will probably be looking at a much more difficult new district for her to win. Republican nominee Rich McCormick, who lost here 51-49 percent in 2020, looks to be in strong position if the redistricting strategy outlined above is adopted.

ME-2: Rep. Jared Golden (D)

As mentioned above, former Rep. Poliquin is returning for a re-match after sitting out the 2020 cycle. Redistricting probably won’t change the 2nd District much since Maine only has two CDs. Ranked Choice Voting will still be an issue for the Republicans here, but the GOP is better equipped to deal with it in 2022. This will be a highly competitive campaign in one of just seven districts that supported former President Trump and elected a Democrat to the US House.

MN-2: Rep. Angie Craig (D)

Marine Corps Reserve officer Tyler Kistner (R) held Rep. Craig to only a 48-46 percent win last November and returns for a re-match. This is another situation where redistricting will play a major role. It is more than likely the split legislature will mold the two politically marginal adjacent southern Minnesota districts into safer seats for both Craig and Republican Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Blue Earth/Rochester). Such a draw would make Kistner’s 2022 task much more difficult.

NH-1: Rep. Chris Pappas (D)

State Republican leaders, who now control both houses of the New Hampshire legislature, have already indicated they plan on making the state’s 1st District, which defeated more incumbents than any other seat in the country during the previous decade, into a better Republican seat while conceding the 2nd District to Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster (D-Concord). This does not bode well for Rep. Pappas, who defeated businessman Matt Mowers (R), 51-46 percent, in 2020.

Pappas has already said he is looking to enter what could be an open governor’s race if his congressional seat becomes more Republican. Last week, Mowers confirmed that he is planning to run again.

NJ-7: Rep. Tom Malinowski (D)

Former state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R), who came within two points of unseating Rep. Malinowski last November, will return. New Jersey redistricts by commission with five members of each party holding seats. A tie breaker is normally appointed to be the deciding vote. Democrats will want this seat to swing more their way, with Republican commissioners wanting likewise from their perspective. Another competitive race is forecast, but redistricting will likely determine the partisan tilt.
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Missouri Senate: Long In, Wagner Out

By Jim Ellis

Five-term US Rep. Billy Long (R-Springfield), announced that he will run for the Senate in Missouri.

Aug. 6, 2021 — The open Missouri Senate race saw significant change in the past couple of days with two announcements: one from a person launching his Senate campaign while another declared for a different political contest.

Five-term US Rep. Billy Long (R-Springfield), who represents the second safest Republican district in the Missouri congressional delegation, announced that he will run for the Senate, entering the already crowded open contest for the right to succeed retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R).

US Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Ballwin), another individual long said to be considering the Senate contest, announced instead that she will run for a sixth term from her St. Louis suburban congressional district.

Rep. Wagner has faced two competitive electoral contests in 2018 and 2020, winning with 51 and 52 percent of the vote, respectively, in a district that is becoming politically marginal. Then-President Trump carried the MO-2 district by just a handful of votes in 2020 after winning it 53-42 percent in 2016. With Republicans holding the redistricting pen and Missouri not losing a congressional seat, Rep. Wagner’s CD should become more favorable for her in the next election under new boundaries.

Long will oppose former governor, Eric Greitens, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, and fellow US Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville/Columbia) at this point in the Senate Republican primary. Though Rep. Wagner has removed herself from consideration, 8th District US Rep. Jason Smith (R-Salem), who holds Missouri’s strongest Republican congressional seat, is still viewed as a potential senatorial candidate.

It appears that Rep. Long starts in an underdog position if looking solely at fundraising and available resources. AG Schmitt raised $1.33 million through the June 30 Federal Election Commission second quarter reporting period and held $1.2 million in his campaign account. Rep. Hartzler added $1.05 million in receipts and holds over $1.4 million in her campaign committee. Greitens, who resigned his governorship under a cloud of sexual scandal just a year into his term, raised only $476,000-plus since entering the Senate race, but major GOP donor Dick Uihlein has already pledged to contribute $2.5 million to a pro-Greitens outside super PAC.

While Rep. Smith has not yet revealed his 2022 political plans, he is raising money, and would at least financially stand near the top of the current candidate field. He has raised over $600,000 since the beginning of the year but possesses over $1.6 million in his congressional account, all of which could be transferred to a Senate committee.

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