Category Archives: COVID-19

Alaska Candidates Settle to Three; Conflicting Polls in IL-15; Economy Polls as Highest Concern in MN

By Jim Ellis — June 24, 2022

House

Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate, now running for US House Representative

AK-AL: Now Top Three — Officials from the Alaska Division of Elections, grappling with the new top-four qualifying system, have changed their initial ruling after finalist Al Gross (I/D), announced earlier this week that he was ending his campaign. Division officials initially were leaning toward placing the fifth-place finisher, Republican Tara Sweeney, into the group of four finalists, but they have since reversed themselves.

The final ruling does not add a replacement for Dr. Gross, meaning that only former Gov. Sarah Palin, businessman Nick Begich III (R), and former state Rep. Mary Peltola (D) will advance into the special general election scheduled for Aug. 16. Sweeney followed up with an announcement that she will not challenge the Elections Division’s ruling.

IL-15: Conflicting Polls — The next in a series of paired incumbent elections is scheduled in Illinois when two sets of paired incumbents will square off in the June 28 primary election. In the downstate Republican primary, Reps. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) and Mary Miller (R-Oakland) are battling for the new gerrymandered 15th District, one of only three Land of Lincoln seats that will likely send a Republican to the House. This week, we see two polls released with conflicting conclusions.

The Victory Geek firm, polling for the Illinoize political blog (June 15-19; 515 IL-15 respondents; interactive voice response system), finds Rep. Davis leading Rep. Miller, 38-35 percent. When forcing the undecideds to make a choice, the full universe breaks for Davis, 51-49 percent. The bad news for him is when voters are informed that former President Trump has endorsed Miller, the preference factor switches to 47-39 percent in Miller’s favor.

The Miller campaign also released their internal Cygnal firm survey conducted during the same time period (June 18-19; 420 likely IL-15 Republican primary voters; peer-to-peer text) that gave the congresswoman a 45-40 percent edge over Davis. The other paired incumbent election features a Chicago suburban Democratic pairing between Reps. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove) and Marie Newman (D-La Grange).

MN-1 Special: Virtual Tie — An Expedition Strategies survey of the MN-1 special election (June 6-9; 400 likely MN-1 special election voters; live interview) scheduled for Aug. 9 finds the two party nominees, former Republican state Rep. Brad Finstad and ex-Hormel corporation CEO Jeff Ettinger (D) falling into a virtual tie. The ballot test gives Finstad a 48-47 percent edge in a district that is no stranger to close elections. The winning percentage in the past three congressional elections was 48.6 percent, 50.1 percent, and 50.3 percent in 2020, 2018, and 2016. The seat is in special election because incumbent Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R) passed away in February.

In terms of what the survey respondents perceive as the most important issue, the “economy and cost of living” registered 27 percent, “guns” was second with a 12 percent mention, and “election integrity” was third with 10 percent. Interestingly, the healthcare issue, which now includes COVID, registered as the most important issue from only six percent of the respondents. Ettinger scored a 53-40 percent advantage on preferring a candidate with experience running a business as compared to Finstad’s career in government and rural policy making.

NY-19 Special: Republican Molinaro Launched to Big Led — A Triton Polling & Research survey conducted for the Freedom Council USA (June 16-20; 505 current NY-19 registered voters; interactive voice response system) finds Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro (R) leading Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan (D) by a large 52-38 percent clip in the special election race to replace resigned US Rep. Antonio Delgado (D). The congressman left the House to accept his appointment as lieutenant governor.

A Molinaro victory would mean another special election GOP conversion of a Democratic seat as we saw in Texas on June 14 when Republican Mayra Flores defeated Democrat Dan Sanchez and two minor candidates to win the seat from which Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville) resigned. If the GOP is successful in NY-19, and holds their other 2022 special elections in AK-AL, MN-1, NE-1, and NY-23, the conference will increase to 215 members, just three away from majority status.

TX-28: Rep. Cuellar Officially Wins — The tight Democratic primary and runoff campaign featuring veteran Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) and attorney and 2020 congressional candidate Jessica Cisneros has finally come to an official end. The Texas Secretary of State has reported the final results of the runoff recount. Counting the ballots again actually increased Cuellar’s lead by eight votes. The final counts shows a 22,901 to 22,612 margin in favor of Rep. Cuellar, a spread of 289 votes, or 50.3 percent of the runoff electorate.

Rep. Cuellar now advances into a general election against former Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) staff member Cassy Garcia. This could become a competitive general election in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+7. Though Garcia will have the ability to run a credible campaign, Rep. Cuellar is now viewed as the favorite to win a 10th term.

Governor

Florida: Crist Rebounds With Substantial Lead — A surprising poll released earlier in June (Global Strategy Group; June 8-13; 600 likely Florida Democratic primary voters; live interview) found state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried pulling to within a 38-34 percent margin against US representative and former Gov. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg). Now, a new St. Pete Polls survey (June 16-17; 1,007 likely Florida Democratic primary voters; interactive voice response system) posts Crist back to a more substantial lead, 49-24 percent. The Florida primary is scheduled for Aug. 23. The Democratic winner will then challenge Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

Gov. DeWine’s Primary Trouble

By Jim Ellis

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R)

Jan. 28, 2022 — The Ohio Republican gubernatorial race has been rather quiet to this point, but it appears the May 3 primary is beginning to get interesting.

A Fabrizio Lee research firm survey (Jan. 11-13; 800 Ohio Republican primary voters and Independents who choose to vote in the Republican primary, live interview) finds Ohio GOP Gov. Mike DeWine, one of the leading 2020 COVID shutdown governors, in trouble for re-nomination against his Republican primary opponent, former Congressman Jim Renacci.

According to the poll results, Renacci would top Gov. DeWine in his quest for re-nomination by a relatively substantial 46-38 percent margin. The governor falling under 40 percent among a voting sample within his own party is certainly a warning sign. It appears what was thought to be a relatively minor primary challenge is transforming into a highly competitive contest.

Earlier in the month, the Harris Poll (Jan. 4; 1,146 likely Ohio Republican primary voters, online) tested the Ohio primary and found the two contenders tied at 42 percent, possibly the first public tangible indication of the incumbent’s weakness within his own party.

Of Renacci’s 46 percent support in the Fabrizio Lee study, 22 of the 46 said they would “definitely” vote for the GOP intra-party challenger. Another 19 percent said they would “probably” back him, with the final five percent saying they are “leaning” toward the former congressman. Turning to DeWine’s supporters, 20 percent of his 38 percent said they would “definitely” vote for the governor, 16 percent retorted “probably” so, with the final two percent indicating they are “leaning” toward the incumbent.

Furthermore, Gov. DeWine’s score on the accompanying re-elect question is troublesome for any incumbent. A total of 33 percent from his own party said “I will definitely vote against Mike DeWine for governor regardless of who runs against him in the Republican primary” as compared to just 14 percent of Republicans and Republican voting Independents who said “I will definitely vote to re-elect Mike DeWine for governor, regardless of who runs against him in the Republican primary.”

Looking at the extremes on such a question is telling, and the fact that DeWine sees his opponent’s hard-core supporters more than doubling the number of his own strong backers is a major warning sign indicating that he could face losing the party nomination if this pattern is verified and continues.

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NJ Governor’s Race In Upset Range

Click on above image from TV ad to go to New Jersey gubernatorial Republican candidate Jack Ciattarelli’s ad about state taxes and opponent incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy (D).

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 26, 2021 — The most recent Emerson College poll for the New Jersey governor’s race (Oct. 15-18; 600 likely New Jersey voters; combination live interview, text, and interactive voice response system) suggests that Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli, a former state assemblyman and ex-county official, has an outside chance of scoring an upset victory over Gov. Phil Murphy (D) in next week’s statewide election.

While the odds still favor a Murphy win, the new survey certainly shows areas of weakness for the Democratic incumbent and a path to victory for the Republican challenger. According to Emerson, Gov. Murphy leads 50-44 percent, and when leaners are added to the mix, the margin tightens to an even closer 52-48 percent.

Among those who classify themselves as “very likely” voters, the Murphy lead shrinks well within the polling margin of error at 48-45 percent. The biggest Ciattarelli positive sectors are among undecided voters, who are breaking his way on a 59-41 percent clip, the Independent segment, 56-32 percent, men, 50-41 percent, and those in the 50-64 age range, 49-46 percent.

Gov. Murphy obviously can highlight positive sectors of his own. The most favorable sign pointing to a Murphy victory next Tuesday is among the people who say they have already voted. Of those, 76 percent indicated they supported Gov. Murphy as opposed to just 24 percent who cast their ballot for Ciattarelli.

The Emerson poll finds the governor leading among women, 57-40 percent, those aged 18-29, at 58-42 percent, the 30-49 aged sector, 47-41 percent, and the oldest and most reliable voting segment, the people aged 65 and older, 53-42 percent.

Neither candidate has a particular advantage on the favorability index. Gov. Murphy records a 49:47 percent favorable to unfavorable rating, while Ciattarelli posts an even 40:40 percent ratio.

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New Tight Nevada Polling

By Jim Ellis

Former Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV)

Oct. 6, 2021 — The Nevada Independent online news site commissioned a September Mellman Group statewide poll (Sept. 15-22; 600 likely Nevada voters, live interview) just as former US Sen. Dean Heller (R) was announcing that he will join the Republican field vying to challenge Gov. Steve Sisolak (D). The results and analysis were released Monday.

The pollsters also tested the US Senate race between first-term Democratic incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and former Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R). Both the gubernatorial and the US Senate contest returned close general election projections.

Nevada has featured close elections in the previous decade leading up to the 2022 voting cycle. Of the 18 statewide electoral contests between and including 2012 and 2020, Democrats have averaged 49.0 percent of the vote and Republicans’ 45.2 percent. In eight of the 18 campaigns, the winner recorded only plurality support.

During the time span, Democrats won 10 statewide races and Republicans won eight, but the GOP has scored only one victory since 2016. Therefore, it is not surprising to again see close polling data, and we can expect similar results throughout the campaign cycle.

According to the Mellman data, Gov. Sisolak would lead ex-Sen. Heller, 46-43 percent, but the small margin tightens even further if Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo were to win the Republican nomination. In the Sisolak-Lombardo pairing, the governor edges the sheriff by half a percentage point, 44.9 – 44.4 percent.

In the Republican primary, asked of only those who said they plan to vote in that contest though the sample number was not released, Heller led Sheriff Lombardo, 31-23 percent, with former professional boxer Joey Gilbert and North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee trailing with 11 and three percent, respectively.

On the positive side for Gov. Sisolak, his favorability index is only slightly upside-down at 46:48 percent, despite his handling of the COVID-19 virus getting a heavy 38:59 percent negative rating. He leads in all-important Clark County by 10 and seven points against Heller and Lombardo, respectively.

The governor saw a negative reading coming from Washoe County (Reno), however, which tends to act as a bellwether of the Nevada vote and an entity that Sisolak carried in 2018 against then-Attorney General Laxalt. The Mellman poll posted Heller to an eight-point lead over Sisolak in Washoe, while Sheriff Lombardo enjoyed a six-point edge.

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Michigan Gov. Whitmer
Falters in New Polls

By Jim Ellis

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D)

Sept. 23, 2021 — We have further evidence that the Michigan governor’s race is going to be a highly competitive political contest next year. A pair of new polls, following one in late August, find Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) either in a virtual dead heat with, or trailing, former Detroit Police Chief James Craig (R).

The Trafalgar Group and Strategic National, Inc. were both in the Michigan field during virtually the same time realm to test the impending governor’s race. Trafalgar (Sept. 13-15; 1,097 likely Michigan voters; live interview, interactive voice response system, online, and text) actually finds the governor slipping behind Craig by a 50-44% count. Strategic National (Sept. 18-19; 600 likely Michigan voters) arrived at a much tighter contest with the governor still in the lead. Their result projected a razor thin 46.6 – 46.0 percent margin.

Gov. Whitmer has become controversial even nationally through her draconian COVID shut down measures, and then being caught on several occasions as eschewing the dictates for herself and family. As the Strategic National poll shows, however, the governor’s favorable and unfavorable opinions are equivalent … and almost everyone feels strongly about their preference.

In terms of her personal favorability index, the responses divide 50:48 percent favorable to unfavorable. The strongly held position, however, spins toward the negative category. Of those who comprise Gov. Whitmer’s 50 percent positive rating, 35 percent, or 70 percent of those professing a positive opinion, feel strongly.

The negative segmentation is more intense. From the 48 percent who hold a negative view of Whitmer, 42 percent, or 87 percent of those holding an adversarial opinion, believe so strongly. Her job approval rating responses, though a different question, yields an almost identical pattern.

The polarization factor is, unsurprisingly, extreme when it comes to the respondents’ opinion about how she’s handled the coronavirus. By a margin of 52:47 percent, the sampling universe approves of her measures to combat the disease. And, in this instance, those feeling strongly on both sides break about evenly.

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