Category Archives: Election Analysis

A Special Election Look-In

By Jim Ellis

May 26, 2021 — The Albuquerque, New Mexico vacant US House seat will be filled on June 1, and a new RRH Elections survey finds the Democratic nominee holding a strong advantage. In Texas, There is no mystery as to which party will win the July 27 special runoff election in North Texas to replace the late Rep. Ron Wright (R-Arlington), but which Republican claims the vacant seat is certainly getting more interesting. We take a look at both races.

NM-1

The RRH Elections poll (May 18-21; 555 NM-1 special election voters and those intending to vote, interactive voice response system and online), finds state Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-Albuquerque) leading state Sen. Mark Moores (R-Albuquerque), 49-33 percent.

The numbers make sense when overlaying the 1st District voting history. Former Rep. Deb Haaland (D-Albuquerque) naturally resigned the seat after being nominated and confirmed as US Interior Secretary in the Biden Administration weeks after winning re-election to a second term. Her victory percentage was 58, after claiming her first term in 2018 with a 59-36 percent margin.

At one time during the century, the 1st was politically competitive – former Rep. Heather Wilson (R-Albuquerque) held the seat for five terms, ending when she ran unsuccessfully for the US Senate in 2008, for example – but a weakened New Mexico Republican Party and a stronger Democratic composition from redistricting has taken the seat off the board.

President Biden carried the district over former President Trump, 60-37 percent, after Hillary Clinton won here in 2016 with a lower but still comparatively strong 52-35 percent spread. Testing President Biden’s current job approval rating, RRH finds him recording a 57:39 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio, which is similar to his 2020 vote performance. This consistency gives the RHH polling data further credibility.

In terms of finances, Stansbury had raised $1.2 million through the May 12 pre-primary reporting period, with $525,000 cash-on-hand as of that date. Sen. Moores, by contrast, had obtained $595,000 with $125,000 in the bank. His receipts total includes a $200,000 personal loan.

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Rep. LaHood Considering Judicial Bid

By Jim Ellis

Illinois Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Peoria)

May 25, 2021 — An interesting story is breaking in Illinois that involves four-term US Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Peoria). Reports suggest that the congressman is considering running for an open state Supreme Court position next year instead of re-election.

The move would make some sense in that winning the 3rd District Supreme Court position would appear to give Republicans a 4-3 majority on the judicial panel, the only area of power that the GOP would control in the state.

Considering the Illinois congressional map is a heavy Democratic gerrymander (13D-5R statewide) and will likely continue as such under a new 17-seat map (down one from the current 18) to be drawn when the Census Bureau reports the track data to the states, probability is high that the collapsed seat will be Republican and come from Illinois’ downstate region.

Though fewer people reside in the state of Illinois today than 10 years ago, the population loss appears greater outside the Chicago metropolitan area. Democrats, with their wide majorities in both houses of the state legislature, will assuredly capitalize upon the opportunity of collapsing two of the few remaining GOP seats into one. This means despite languishing in a severe minority, Republican congressional strength in the state will likely diminish even further.

Illinois is one of the few states that runs its Supreme Court elections by districts. Justices are initially elected in partisan elections for 10-year terms, and then must stand for a yes-no retention vote to secure succeeding terms. To win retention, a justice must receive at least a 60 percent yes vote.

Third District Justice Thomas Kilbride recorded only a 56.5 percent yes vote in the November election; therefore, he was defeated. His appointed replacement, Democratic Justice Robert Carter, has already said he will not seek a full 10-year term in 2022, meaning the position will be open for election.

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Conflicting Electorate Clues

By Jim Ellis

President Joe Biden lingers at the bottom of presidential rankings after his first 100 days.

May 24, 2021 — Data points are routinely being published covering the electorate’s status, leading to various conflicting conclusions. This allows both Democrats and Republicans to promote favorable prediction trends for the 2022 elections.

Presidential job approval is often used as a key prediction benchmark. The Gallup Research organization pioneered presidential job approval tracking, beginning in the 1950s with President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the tradition continues today.

During that approximate 70-year period, the average performance for a newly elected president in his first 100 days in office is 61 percent favorable. Only those presidents who were elected are included in the Gallup survey. This means that presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, who ascended to the office when John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and Gerald R. Ford, who became president when Richard M. Nixon resigned, are not included.

If you remove, however, the highest rated national leader, President Kennedy (81 percent approval) and the lowest, President Donald J. Trump (41 percent), the adjusted average climbs to 63 percent.

In his first 100 days, Gallup rates President Biden with a 57 percent approval figure, thereby placing him as only the 9th most popular of the 11 newly elected modern era chief executives.

The top three rated presidents in their first 100 days are Kennedy (81 percent), Eisenhower (74 percent), and Ronald Reagan (67 percent). The three lowest are presidents Trump (41 percent), Bill Clinton (55 percent), and Biden (57 percent).

Other surveys rate Biden’s performance somewhat lower, however. In the month of May, eight additional pollsters have tested the president’s job performance and found his favorable score in a tight range, from 51-54 percent with his disapproval percentage spanning from 35 to 48.

The generic polling question is one where a survey respondent is asked whether they would vote for the Republican or Democratic House of Representatives candidate. Right now, we’re seeing the generic numbers span the ideological spectrum, which tells us the great partisan divide is still very much alive. The left-leaning pollsters are seeing big leads for Democrats, while the more conservative-oriented pollsters find the responses very tight.

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New Seat Location in North Carolina

North Carolina’s 12 Congressional Districts

By Jim Ellis

May 21, 2021 — With the new reapportionment map public and the states gaining congressional districts now certain, we can begin to speculate where the new CDs might land. Today, we look at North Carolina, which continues to be one of the most important states from a national redistricting perspective.

The Census Bureau’s apportionment report, released on April 26, almost five months after their Jan. 1 deadline, contained the smallest transfer of congressional seats since the World War II era.

Just seven seats are moving from one state to another. As mentioned above, one of the recipients is North Carolina, the state that came the closest to gaining in the last census, missing by just a few thousand people. Today, we speculate as to how a new North Carolina congressional map might unfold.

The 2020 individual state population data has not yet been distributed and is not expected until October, apparently at the earliest. Once the specific state data is made public, the redistricting process can begin, but for now we can only use the latest available data (July 2019) for estimation purposes.

In examining the population numbers for each of the 13 current North Carolina congressional districts, we see that all must shed population to reach the state’s Census Bureau target number of 746,711 individuals, hence, the reason for the Tar Heel State gaining a new district.

In North Carolina, the state legislature has sole jurisdiction over redistricting. The governor, in this case Democrat Roy Cooper, has no veto power over the maps both houses jointly produce. This means the Republicans will control the process since they hold majorities in both the state House and Senate.

No matter what map is drawn, we can count on seeing post-redistricting litigation. In the previous decade, the courts twice altered the original map because of various lawsuits. The final iteration broke 8-5 in favor of the Republicans after the state Supreme Court redrew sections of the state and in effect awarded two previously Republican seats in Raleigh and Greensboro, respectively, to the Democrats.

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Another Florida Twist

By Jim Ellis

Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park)

May 20, 2021 — Last week, a story from the Axios news site reported that Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park) had made the decision to challenge Sen. Marco Rubio (R), and that Rep. Val Demings (D-Orlando) would run for governor. Those suppositions proved premature to say the least.

Quickly, Murphy’s spokespeople denied that the congresswoman had made any final 2022 political decision. Simultaneously, Rep. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg), a former Republican governor, announced that he would run for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination with the goal of challenging incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) next year. Both Rep. Demings and state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried were then expected to soon follow suit and oppose Rep. Crist for the party nomination.

Politico broke a story Tuesday indicating that Rep. Demings had either changed her mind about running for governor, or the aforementioned Axios story drew the wrong conclusion. Certain supporters, including 2014 gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink (D), are now saying that Demings is a virtual certainty to challenge Sen. Rubio.

Since the 2012 election, Florida Democrats have won only one statewide race, and their record includes two gut wrenching losses of less than a percentage point after being predicted to win both times, so the state party now appears in disarray.

Several things could now be at work if assuming the Axios story about Murphy running for the Senate and Demings for governor was true at the time of publication.

First, Rep. Murphy has secured herself in the 7th District, and it is plausible that her seat will get more Democratic post-redistricting. It is very possible that she simply reconsidered giving up a relatively safe House seat in order to enter a statewide race against Sen. Rubio where she would be a considerable underdog.

Second, the Crist entry could be the wild card catalyst that influenced Rep. Demings to change course. Seeing an expensive Democratic gubernatorial primary developing against both Crist and Fried with no guarantee of victory, and then having to pivot into a race after the late August primary against incumbent Gov. DeSantis would, like Rep. Murphy, mean risking a safe House seat for a very uncertain political future.

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Senate Vulnerability

By Jim Ellis

May 19, 2021 — We all know that the 2022 US Senate election cycle will be key, largely because every race has the potential of breaking the body’s 50-50 partisan tie. Today, we prioritize the 34 seats in order of electoral strength over the past five top statewide elections in each of the 2022 in-cycle Senate states. This allows us to objectively see from a statistical point which Senate seats appear, at least on paper, to be most vulnerable.

Next year, 34 Senate races are on the ballot with the Republicans defending 20 and Democrats 14 of each party’s 50 incumbent seats.

While the statistical analysis result below largely tells us what we have seen through previous polling, averaging the last five statewide races from each place, President 2020, the most recent Senate race, the most recent governor’s contest, and both the 2016 presidential race and the Senate race that elected the current incumbent, provides more concrete data.

The winning percentage margin was researched for all five historical political contests, and then the mean averaged calculated in each of the 2022 Senate states.

The conclusions:

STATE INCUMBENT PARTY AVG
CA PADILLA D 57.6
ND HOEVEN R 36.4
HI SCHATZ D 34.8
OK LANKFORD R 31.0
ID CRAPO R 30.4
AR BOOZMAN R 28.9
UT LEE R 28.8
NY SCHUMER D 28.4
SD THUNE R 26.9
AL SHELBY (O) R 24.1
MD VAN HOLLEN D 21.5
KY PAUL R 18.1
VT LEAHY D 17.5
CT BLUMENTHAL D 17.2
WA MURRAY D 16.6
IL DUCKWORTH D 16.1
LA KENNEDY R 15.6
IN YOUNG R 15.0
OR WYDEN D 14.9
KS MORAN R 14.3
AK MURKOWSKI R 11.9
MO BLUNT (O) R 11.8
SC SCOTT R 11.7
IA GRASSLEY R 10.3
CO BENNET D 8.8
OH PORTMAN (O) R 6.8
NV MASTO D 3.2
FL RUBIO R 2.6
NC BURR (O) R 1.6
NH HASSAN D 1.6
WI JOHNSON R 1.7
GA WARNOCK D 3.6
AZ KELLY D 5.6
PA TOOMEY (O) R 5.8

(O) – denotes open seat


The above chart shows that the five strongest incumbents, based only upon the top elections from 2016 through the present, are appointed Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) and regularly elected Sens. John Hoeven (R-ND), Brian Schatz (D-HI), James Lankford (R-OK), and Mike Crapo (R-ID).

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Another Close Michigan Race

By Jim Ellis

Detroit Police Chief James Craig

May 18, 2021 — As it is becoming clear that retiring Detroit Police Chief James Craig (R) is preparing to challenge Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) next year, Target Insyght, polling for the Michigan Information & Research Service (MIRS), tested the potential general election pairing in a recent study. The results portend another tight Wolverine State campaign.

The TI poll (May 9-11; 800 registered Michigan voters, live interview) finds Gov. Whitmer leading Chief Craig by a six-point, 48-42 percent, spread. More importantly, the survey identified key areas of weakness for the governor, ones that could potentially allow a GOP contender to construct a reasonable path to victory. Chief Craig has not yet announced his candidacy but is expected to do so once he officially retires from the police force on June 1.

Where Chief Craig may have a significant advantage in such a race is his potential ability to draw more votes from the African American community particularly in heavily Democratic Detroit.

While President Biden averaged 79.1 percent of the vote in Congressional Districts 13 and 14 that encompass the city, the Target Insyght poll finds Gov. Whitmer pulling only 64 percent among black voters, while the outgoing police chief attracts 36 percent. In Detroit, 78.3 percent of the population is African American according to the latest publicly available Census Bureau estimates (July 2019).

Gov. Whitmer’s bigger weakness, however, lies in the area of jobs and rebuilding the state’s economy. According to this issue segmentation, voters would favor Chief Craig over Gov. Whitmer by a whopping 63-30 percent margin.

John James, the African American Republican who has run highly competitive campaigns in the last two consecutive Michigan Senate races, was also tested but he doesn’t perform as well as Chief Craig in a general election pairing. While the governor tops Chief Craig by six points, as mentioned above, James trails by 10 percentage points, 49-39 percent.

In the Republican primary, however, it is James who would have a clear advantage. If he and Chief Craig oppose each other for the 2022 GOP gubernatorial nomination, the former man would begin the race with a 36-21 percent advantage in the primary according to this particular survey.

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