Category Archives: Election Analysis

Kobach Announces in Controversy

By Jim Ellis

Former Kansas secretary of state and 2018 Republican gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach

July 10, 2019 — In most runs for public office, the day a candidate announces is one of the best campaign days. For former Kansas secretary of state and 2018 Republican gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach, his declaration that he would run for Sen. Pat Roberts (R) open seat looks to have turned out differently.

Kobach’s Senate announcement on Monday, though speculated upon for several weeks, was met with a considerable amount of negativity from members of his own party including a spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). Through a reported tweet from an interview with the Kansas City Star newspaper she said, “just last year [ex-Sec of State] Kris Kobach ran [as GOP nominee for governor] and lost to a Democrat. Now, he wants to do the same and simultaneously put President Trump’s presidency and [the GOP] Senate majority at risk.”

Kobach, the sitting secretary of state at the time, defeated Gov. Jeff Colyer in the 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary by just 343 votes of over 317,000 ballots cast. Colyer was the state’s lieutenant governor who ascended to the governorship when two-term incumbent Sam Brownback resigned to accept a federal appointment. Post-nomination, the Kobach general election campaign was routinely rated as poor, from a lack of fundraising to deficient campaign strategy and implementation that caused him to lose 48-43 percent to then-state Sen. Laura Kelly (D-Topeka) who attracted a significant amount of Republican support.

Prior to his running for governor, Kobach was tabbed by President Trump to be vice-chairman and lead administrator for the President’s Advisory Committee on Election Integrity under Vice President Mike Pence. But Kobach’s leadership of this organization was also called into question. Asking for voter information from states that even Republican chief election officials routinely refused to turn over, the panel was dissolved after only seven months of existence with no tangible accomplishment.

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The Amash Factor

By Jim Ellis

Michigan Rep. Justin Amash

July 9, 2019 — Michigan Rep. Justin Amash (I-Cascade Township) officially left the Republican Party as the 4th of July approached, but what does his decision mean for the 3rd District’s political future?

Rep. Amash has served his whole career as a Republican, being first elected in an open congressional seat back in 2010 after winning a state House district in 2008. Though he left the GOP, he did not affiliate with the Libertarian Party, which many expected. Still, he has the option of running for that party’s presidential nomination even if he does not serve in Congress as a Libertarian.

But Amash’s decision clearly changes the congressional race. If he ultimately decides to seek re-election, his decision to leave the GOP is somewhat curious, at least from an electoral perspective. At this point, already four Republicans have announced, with at least three of them clearly credible. Two are sitting state representatives and one an heir to the Meijer retail store chain that features more than 200 stores predominantly in the Midwest. With no run-off required under Michigan election law, a large competitive field would have played to Rep. Amash’s favor since the contest would have been a base vote nomination election.

Should he decide to seek re-election as an Independent, then all bets might be off. Under the same premise that a crowded field could have helped Amash win a Republican primary, at least a three-way general election candidate field could conceivably allow him to win re-election in similar plurality fashion. But, either major party candidate might have the same advantage making this a wild card race.

Additionally, the three-way set-up could put what is typically a reliable Republican seat in play for the Democrats. Should Amash and the eventual Republican split the right-of-center base, it is conceivable that the Democratic nominee could find him or herself in position to score the plurality victory.

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Is Sen. Markey (D-MA) Vulnerable?

By Jim Ellis

Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey (D)

July 8, 2019 — The Politico news site ran a story last week befor the Fourth of July break quoting a Massachusetts consultant saying that Sen. Ed Markey’s seat “is there for the taking,” and predicted the state’s extremist Democratic Party faction will make defeating him a major objective in the guise of freshman Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s (D-Boston) successful challenge to then-veteran Rep. Mike Capuano (D) in the last election.

An early June Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll is cited as the source for concluding that Sen. Markey is having some political trouble. In our analysis of the study, we see some Markey vulnerability, but it is inaccurate to say that signs are pointing to the senator possibly losing his re-nomination campaign.

The Suffolk/Globe poll (June 5-9; 600 registered Massachusetts voters, 513 self-identified Massachusetts Democratic (207) or Independent voters (306), 370 Democratic responses to the US Senate ballot test) is the same one that drew some national publicity because it projected home state Sen. Elizabeth Warren posting only 10 percent support in the presidential Democratic primary ballot test, as former Vice President Joe Biden led the field with a 22 percent preference score. It is not a stretch to predict that this race would likely poll differently if re-tested today.

The main reason that Sen. Markey is viewed as vulnerable relates to his 44 percent preference among the Democratic respondents on the senatorial ballot test. While this number is indisputably low for an incumbent, we must also view the results in context. His two announced opponents, labor union attorney Sharon Liss-Riordan and businessman and author Steve Pemberton, both only record a support level of five percent. Though Sen. Markey should reasonably be commanding majority support, he is still almost 40 points ahead of his closest known competitor.

The upstarts who want to see Markey challenged generally hope one of the top name Democrats will jump into the race, such as Boston Mayor Marty Walsh or US Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Newton), but it is highly unlikely that either of these men will run.

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Intra-Party Primary Challenges On Both Sides Emerge This Week

By Jim Ellis

July 3, 2019 — If you thought the 2020 cycle might feature a smaller number of primary challenge campaigns than we’ve seen in recent election years, then Monday might have changed your opinion. No less than six combined intra-party incumbent opposition campaigns were announced, or at least publicly contemplated.

After seeing the results of some key primaries in the past couple of election cycles, such as the now famous Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 2018 victory over veteran Rep. Joe Crowley in New York, it’s hard to discount any early intra-party candidate at face value. But, it appears, at least today, that all of the potentially challenged incumbents begin their re-nomination campaigns as clear favorites.

In South Dakota, state Rep. Scyller Borglum (R-Rapid City), an engineer and theologian who was just elected to the legislature in November, announced that she will oppose first-term senator and former governor Mike Rounds in next year’s Republican primary. This challenge is particularly curious since no Democrat has yet even come forward to battle Sen. Rounds. The odds of Borglum finding a way to deny her opponent re-nomination look particularly long, but the contest should be watched for indicative early happenings.

Rep. Danny Davis (D) has represented the downtown Chicago and Oak Park areas in Congress since the beginning of 1997. Before that, he served on the Chicago City Council or Cook County Commission for another 18 years. But his long service has not made him immune from enduring a primary challenge. Attorney Kristine Schanbacher announced her opposition to Davis in the March Democratic primary. The congressman is a prohibitive favorite to again win re-nomination. Two other minor Democratic candidates had declared earlier.

Indiana’s 3rd District will feature a “family affair.” Rep. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City/Ft. Wayne) largely won the safe Republican seat in the 2016 GOP primary against former Wisconsin state senator Pam Galloway and four others when he captured over one-third of the vote in a plurality victory scenario.

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