Category Archives: Election Analysis

Alabama & Arkansas: The Filings

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 15, 2019 — Candidate filing for the 2020 election cycle is now closed in two states, Alabama and Arkansas, and several individuals unexpectedly became candidates.

First, in the presidential race, not only did former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg file in Alabama, as was widely reported last week, but he also submitted papers for the Arkansas presidential primary. This doesn’t necessarily mean he will enter the national race, but it certainly gives him the option to become an active candidate.

Reports are now surfacing, however, that Bloomberg will not file for the New Hampshire presidential primary at today’s deadline. This move is even more surprising in light of his filing in Alabama and Arkansas. Polling must tell him he would be shut out in the Granite State and, with only a total of 24 first-ballot delegates, skipping the state would not greatly affect his potential delegate acquisition count.

Another surprise came in Arkansas where, at least for now, first-term Sen. Tom Cotton (R) has no Democratic opponent. When filing closed, Fayetteville Democrat and former congressional candidate Josh Mahony complied with the deadline requirements and said in his exit statement said he had been working the state for six months in order to lay groundwork for his statewide campaign. Before the day ended, however, he decided to rescind his candidacy.

Mahony said a family issue keeps him from running, but the Arkansas Republican Party had also just filed an ethics complaint against him, so it is possible that this development also had some influence on his decision to leave the race. In any event, Mahony is no longer a candidate even though he would have been unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

At this point, the Democrats have no Senate candidate, but state law will allow the party members to meet and choose a new nominee to oppose Sen. Cotton. Either way, Cotton’s re-election prospects appear completely sound.

Of course, the Alabama Senate race, now that former US attorney general and Alabama senator, Jeff Sessions, is returning in an attempt to re-capture his previous position, has drawn the most political attention. The entire Republican field for the office includes the aforementioned Sessions, Secretary of State John Merrill, US Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile), former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville, ex-state Supreme Court Chief Judge and 2017 special Senate nominee Roy Moore, state Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Shelby County), and businessman Stanley Adair.

The other somewhat surprising filing came in Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District, where state Sen. Joyce Elliott (D-Little Rock) will run to oppose three-term Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock). The 2nd District, which is comprised of the Little Rock metropolitan area, is the most politically marginal of Arkansas’ four congressional districts.

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Buttigieg Pulls Ahead

By Jim Ellis

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Nov. 14, 2019 — As more potential Democratic presidential candidates, like former New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, ex-Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, and even Hillary Clinton begin to re-emerge on the campaign’s outer horizon, the party nomination contest is moving into a sustained state of flux.

It is obvious that the potentially returning candidates are flirting with a new effort because they don’t perceive any of the active contenders as being in position to win the nomination outright or who can successfully oppose President Trump in the general election.

Now, we see a new complicating factor as an Iowa poll released Tuesday finds South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg grasping the lead away from both former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

According to the new Monmouth University survey (Nov. 7-11; 451 likely Iowa Democratic caucus attenders) Buttigieg claims first place with a 22 percent preference factor. Biden and Warren follow with 19 and 18 percent, respectively. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) secures fourth position with 13 percent.

The Monmouth poll is attracting headlines because it produces a new leader, and thus a new story line for a media horde always looking for a different narrative or angle. It may, however, be premature to suggest this one poll is the beginning of a new trend in the Democratic battle especially when it is the only survey drawing such a conclusion.

Two other pollsters ran surveys in a similar time frame and arrive at entirely different results. The Morning Consult large sample online survey (Nov. 4-10; 16,400 likely Iowa voters) projects a ballot test standing like we saw when the campaign was in its early stage: Biden 32 percent; Sanders 20 percent; Warren 19 percent; Buttigieg eight percent.

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Rep. Peter King to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 13, 2019 — Over the Veterans holiday weekend, long-time New York Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford/ Islip) announced that he will not seek re-election to a 15th term next year, ending what will be 28 years of service in the US House.

Rep. Peter King (R-NY-2)

Prior to winning the South Shore Long Island seat in 1992, King served as the Nassau County comptroller for 11 years. In 1977, he was elected to the Hempstead Town Council, his first political campaign.

King, a former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, represents New York’s 2nd District, bordering the Great South Bay, which travels along the Sunrise Highway from Bayport through Babylon all the way to Seaford. The district leans Republican. President Trump carried the seat 53-44 percent in 2016, though both Mitt Romney and John McCain fell several percentage points short of winning here.

Through his 14 elections, King has averaged 55.4 percent of the vote through different configurations of the district. In 2018, the congressman defeated business consultant Liuba Gretchen Shirley, 53.1–46.9 percent, in a race where his opponent raised just under $2 million. For his part, the congressman spent almost $3.2 million.

There had been retirement speculation surrounding the 75-year-old King, for several months. Earlier it had been assumed that the congressman’s daughter, Erin King Sweeney, would run to succeed him when he eventually left office but apparently that will not happen. In September, Sweeney announced that she would not seek re-election to her current position as the Republican leader on the Hempstead Town Council because her husband accepted a position in North Carolina and the family is moving.

While 2018 Democratic nominee Shirley has not announced that she is returning for a re-match, Babylon Town Councilwoman Jackie Gordon (D) did declare her candidacy. Additionally, Trump impeachment activist Max Sax is in the Democratic field. Now that the 2nd District has become an open seat we can expect to see stronger Democrats come forward to make the race. A crowded Republican primary is also forecast.

The New York candidate filing deadline is not until April 2, so Democratic and Republican Party leaders have sufficient time to fully develop a credible group of candidates. The New York state primary is June 23. We can expect two competitive primaries and a tight general election. The early rating for this new open seat is Lean Republican.

King now becomes the 32nd sitting House member who will not seek another term in office. Within this group, more than two-thirds, or 22, are currently Republican-held. Ten are from the Democratic side of the political aisle.

As reported earlier, four of the seats are vacant and headed to a special vote before the next general. The elections for resigned Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) and the late Rep. Elijah Cummings’ (D-MD) seats have already been scheduled. The governors of New York and California must still schedule special votes to replace resigned Reps. Chris Collins (R-Clarence/Batavia) and Katie Hill (D-Agua Dulce/Palmdale).

What the First Poll Shows in Alabama With Jeff Sessions Entering Race

By Jim Ellis

Former Senator and US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions (R)

Nov. 12, 2019 — The Club for Growth organization, the leadership of which had been encouraging former Alabama senator and US attorney general Jeff Sessions (R) to enter the state’s Senate race, conducted and released the first survey since Sessions announced his candidacy on Thursday.

WPA Intelligence administered the survey well before Sessions publicly declared, but just published the results over the weekend. The sampling period was Oct. 29-31, with a respondent universe of 511 likely Alabama Republican primary voters.

The results find Sessions leading the field with 36 percent voting preference. Auburn University former head football coach Tommy Tuberville is second with 23 percent support. The addition of Sessions to the field shows that Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) dropping into a tie for third position with former state Supreme Court Chief Judge Roy Moore as the two record 11 percent apiece. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, the only current statewide elected official in the race, notches only six percent, and state Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Shelby County) trails the entire field at just two percent.

If this poll is wholly accurate, it means that both Sessions and Tuberville would advance from the March 3 Super Tuesday primary into an April 14 run-off election to determine who will qualify for the general election opposite Democratic Sen. Doug Jones.

Just over two weeks before WPAi went into the field, the Cygnal polling organization tested the race. According to Cygnal (Oct. 10-12; 536 likely Alabama Republican primary voters), Tuberville led Rep. Byrne, 32-18 percent, and the two of them would have advanced into the second round. Secretary Merrill was next with 13 percent and Judge Moore followed with 11 percent, the same level of support that WPAi detected for the latter man when Sessions’ name was included. State Rep. Mooney records a similar one percent in this survey.

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The Great Lakes’ Poll

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 12, 2019 — The Cook Political Report in conjunction with the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation of San Francisco sponsored a four-state survey, called the “Blue Wall Voices Project,” covering key Great Lakes states to determine Democratic presidential primary standing within the region among other issues.

The poll has an unusual methodology in that the survey period was long (Sep. 23-Oct. 15) and the 3,222 registered voter respondents, who were invited to participate, could do so through an online link or by calling to speak with an interviewer. The four selected states were Michigan (767 registered voter respondents; 208 likely Democratic primary voters), Minnesota (958; 249), Pennsylvania (752; 246), and Wisconsin (745; 274). The survey questionnaire contained 36 questions about issues, candidates, approval perception, and demographics, many with several subsets.

In terms of general election positioning, the results in all four states lead to the conclusion that President Trump is in need of refining his message since the respondents’ answers cut severely against his perceived positions on trade, immigration, and foreign affairs in particular.

Short-term, the Democratic presidential responses were of greatest interest and, in all four of these important states, we see a legitimate multi-candidate contest developing with less than three months until the first votes are cast in the Iowa Caucus.

While signs are beginning to surface that Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is gaining some traction in Iowa, a must for a Midwestern candidate, her home state poll shows her moving into the delegate apportionment mix.

Under Democratic National Committee rules, a candidate must obtain 15 percent of the at-large and congressional district popular vote in order to win committed delegate votes. According to the Cook/Kaiser survey, and including those who say they are leaning toward a particular candidate, Sen. Klobuchar attracts 15 percent among her home state Democratic respondents, in second place behind Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s 25 percent.

The top tier is tightly bunched after Warren. After Klobuchar’s 15 percent, former Vice President Joe Biden notches 14 percent, with Sen. Bernie Sanders right behind at 13 percent. Extrapolating this poll over the period before Minnesota holds its primary on Super Tuesday, March 3, suggests that all four of the contenders will qualify for a portion of the state’s 75 first-ballot delegate votes.

We see a similar split in Michigan, though Klobuchar is not a factor here or in any other tested state. Again, Sen. Warren leads the pack, also with support from a full quarter of the respondents. Following are Biden and Sanders with 19 and 15 percent, respectively. The Wolverine State has 125 first-ballot delegates.

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