Category Archives: 2022

Youngkin Within Two of McCauliffe in Virginia Governor’s Campaign

By Jim Ellis

Glenn Youngkin (R), Terry McCauliffe (D), left-to-right, Virginia gubernatorial candidates

June 15, 2021 — A just-released Virginia governor’s campaign survey yields a surprising ballot test result, especially when seeing that the data was collected before last week’s Democratic primary.

WPA Intelligence (WPAi), in their most recent poll for the Glenn Youngkin for Governor campaign (June 2-6; 506 likely Virginia voters, live interview), already finds the Republican gubernatorial nominee climbing to within two percentage points (48-46 percent) of the newly crowned Democratic nominee, former governor, Terry McAuliffe.

While certain elements point to a slight Republican survey skew, it does signal, as other research has, that the 2021 Virginia governor’s race may be tighter than the state’s most recent elections that have definitively favored the Democratic candidates.

Several analysis points need reviewing. First, WPAi is a credible Republican pollster. According to the FiveThirtyEight statistical website pollster rankings, WPA Intelligence has a very respectable 0.8 predictive rating with just a slight 0.7 percent Republican bias factor.

Second, some of the geographic segmentation returns, however, appear a bit too optimistic for the Youngkin team. While the Washington, DC DMA sector breaking 56-39 percent for McAuliffe and the Roanoke/Lynchburg DMA posting a 49-46 percent edge for Youngkin are both wholly believable, the projections for two other segmented regions raise eyebrows.

Youngkin leading 51-44 percent in the Norfolk/Portsmouth/Newport News DMA, which also includes the Virginia Beach area, isn’t particularly consistent with the way the Tidewater region has voted in the most recent elections. Additionally, the same should be said for the Richmond/Petersburg DMA where WPAi sees Youngkin pulling ahead with a 48-44 percent split.

Third, these latter numbers appear too favorable for Youngkin, and particularly so in the Richmond/Petersburg area where the McAuliffe favorability rating in this same poll is 45:40 percent favorable to unfavorable. Conversely, however, if the trend were to continue for these two places and is proven accurate, it would basically signal a return to the voters’ previous electoral pattern. The Virginia historical election matrix was much better for Republicans than the numbers found in elections since the early 2000s.

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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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NM-1: A Pattern?

By Jim Ellis

Albuquerque, New Mexico-anchored NM-1 Congressional District

June 4, 2021 — Several media reports — typified by an MSNBC website analysis article that Steve Benen authored after Tuesday’s New Mexico special election — are trying to make the point that Melanie Stansbury’s landslide victory is a potential benchmark for future Democratic victories. Such a conclusion is a stretch.

The two-pronged premise is that Stansbury was so strong that she even ran ahead of President Biden’s performance in the district, and that the Republican campaign’s emphasis on the crime problem and the national effort to defund the police proved a political failure.

While Stansbury, a two-term state representative, scored a 60-36 percent win in the Albuquerque anchored congressional district that former Rep. Deb Haaland (D) resigned to become US Interior Secretary, her performance is not unusual. In fact, her vote total was less than two points above the mean average Democratic congressional percentage since the party converted the seat from the Republicans back in 2008.

To the argument that Stansbury’s victory margin was larger than President Biden’s 60-37 percent spread against then-President Trump, and it was only one percentage point better, it is not unusual for a House campaign to outperform the top of the ticket. In most instances, the congressional winner is better known than his or her competitor, has greater funding and outside support, and is consistently in position to overwhelm the opposition. Such is rarely the case in a national presidential campaign or in a major statewide contest for senator or governor.

The crime issue was certainly a focal point of Republican nominee Mark Moores, an Albuquerque state senator. The national party, however, did very little to support Moores, virtually conceding the race from the outset based upon the voting history here for more than a decade.

For an underdog candidate in Moores position, emphasizing the crime issue, on paper, made sense as a point of attack. Albuquerque, according to FBI statistics has the ninth worst violent crime statistics in the country, meaning 1,352 crimes per 100,000 residents according to the latest available figures (2019). To put this number in perspective, Chicago, which has drawn much national media attention for its high murder rate, ranks 31st on the same scale, at 943 crimes per 100,000 city residents.

Perhaps one reason the crime issue did not propel the Moores candidacy is there was no serious effort to defund the Albuquerque Police Department, nor is there the sharp racial tension that is present in some of the cities where we saw serious problems along with a local movement to reorder policing.

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Stansbury Wins New Mexico Special

By Jim Ellis

New Mexico state Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D), winner of Tuesday’s special election.

June 3, 2021 — The New Mexico special election went as expected Tuesday, as state Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-Albuquerque) defeated state Sen. Mark Moores (R-Albuquerque) by a 60-36 percent count, which is consistent with the partisan early vote turnout.

The overall participation factor exceeded 131,000 voters, or 28.2 percent of the district’s registered voter universe, which is relatively high for a special election. It appears that over 70 percent of the people participating in the electoral contest cast an early ballot.

Stansbury, twice elected to the state House of Representatives, was victorious in the special Democratic district convention whose delegates were empowered with choosing a party nominee to replace resigned Rep. Deb Haaland (D-Albuquerque). Haaland vacated the House upon being confirmed as US Interior Secretary in the Biden cabinet.

The Stansbury congressional victory margin came from population-dominant Bernalillo County, where more than 90 percent of the CD-1 residents live. Stansbury captured 61 percent of the vote here. In the smaller rural counties, Moores took three of four, but the aggregate vote total from each of those entities was individually less than 2,500 cast ballots.

The Democratic mean average in the seat since partisan conversion in 2008 is 58.2 percent, so Stansbury ran about two points above the benchmark. The state’s current governor, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, represented the 1st District for three terms and scored the single-highest Democratic election percentage during the 13-year post-conversion period. She tallied 65.1 percent in 2016, the same election in which Hillary Clinton posted a 52-35 percent CD-1 result and 48-40 percent statewide.

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