Category Archives: Election Analysis

Feinstein Still Weak; Gas Tax Polling

By Jim Ellis

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)

Oct. 18, 2018 — Survey USA released a poll of the California electorate, one more political study that finds Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) failing to establish command in her race against fellow Democrat Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles state senator.

The S-USA data (Oct. 12-14; 1,200 California adults; 964 registered California voters; 762 likely California voters) sees Feinstein again locked at 40 percent support versus 26 percent for de Leon. This is the sixth survey from four different pollsters that finds the Senator in the mid to low 40s since the June 5th jungle primary. But de Leon fares much worse, failing to break 30 percent in any of the half-dozen ballot test questions.

While all of the research suggests that Sen. Feinstein is politically weak, she will not lose this race. Though she brought in only $982,000 for the third quarter — a low number when campaigning in a state the size of California and understanding that many Democratic House candidates have brought in millions during the same period — de Leon raised just $254,000 and has a mere $309,000 cash-on-hand for the period ending Sept. 30. This is a low figure for a congressional race, let alone for a place that’s 53 times as large as a single CD.

California Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles)

California Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles)

The other feature potentially making the California Senate race a wild-card contest is the vote drop-off that we will see when comparing turnout for this office to the rest of the statewide ballot.

In 2016, when two Democrats were competing for an open Senate seat — the now-Sen. Kamala Harris vs. then-Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) — fewer votes were cast for that contest than in any other statewide election, including all of the ballot propositions. In fact, over 1.9 million more people voted in the presidential race than in the Senate race, and 1.3 million more chose to decide the last ballot initiative that banned single-use plastic bottles.

What occurred was a plethora of Republican voters simply skipping the Senate race rather than supporting one of the two Democrats. With de Leon running to the ideological left of Feinstein the Republican vote will likely drop even further, which becomes an interesting factor.

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The Nevada Sway

By Jim Ellis

Nevada-mapOct. 17, 2018 — A new Emerson College poll (Oct. 10-12; 625 likely Nevada voters) projects Sen. Dean Heller (R) to a 48-41 percent lead over freshman Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson), which is the largest lead for either candidate since the June 12th primary.

For most of the election cycle, this race has been rated as a toss-up campaign, but most prognosticators believed it would eventually tilt toward the Democrats yielding a challenger victory.

Viewed as a state trending Democratic because of Hillary Clinton’s 48-45 percent victory in the most recent presidential campaign added to President Obama winning here in both of his elections: 52-46 percent over Mitt Romney, and in a 55-43 percent landslide over John McCain, the 2014 Republican sweep from the governor’s race through the state legislative campaigns has generally been disregarded as an anomaly.

Outgoing Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) has strong approval ratings and would clearly be a re-election favorite if the state did not have a term limit law. The governor is playing an interesting role in this year’s campaign. He is featured prominently in Sen. Heller’s advertising but refuses to endorse Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R) as his successor because the latter man refuses to support the Sandoval tax program, which is becoming the governor’s legacy as Nevada’s chief executive.

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House Campaigns Turning Around

By Jim Ellis

daily-kosOct. 16, 2018 — According to the liberal Daily Kos Elections website, six congressional races that appeared to be headed in one direction look to be reversing themselves.

Four campaigns that Democrats earlier projected as red to blue conversions are now either tilting toward the Republican candidate or coming back into play. An additional campaign that we believed was always miscategorized is now performing as we predicted, while a further Republican incumbent, already projected to be in a close race, has actually dropped behind for the first time in a published poll. Descriptions for each of these contests follow.

Two GOP incumbents who were trailing in several polls — the Siena College/New York Times polls had one lagging 15 points behind and the other by 10, for example — have come back to take the lead or are hovering in virtual tie range.


IOWA

Iowa Rep. Rod Blum (R-Dubuque) has represented the most Democratic seat in Iowa for two terms. He fell significantly behind state Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-Dubuque) to the point where the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) even canceled a flight of media advertising because they presumably believed the race was sealed.

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A Polling Dichotomy in Wisconsin

By Jim Ellis

Superintendent of public instruction, Tony Evers (D), left, and Gov. Scott Walker (R)

Superintendent of public instruction, Tony Evers (D), left, and Gov. Scott Walker (R)

Sept. 15, 2018 — Two succeeding polls were just released with one showing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) barely leading in his fight for a third term, while another predicts he will be blown out. Yet, the two seemingly contradictory polls both find an almost identical Senate race status.

NBC News/Marist College went into the field during the period of Sept. 30-Oct. 3 (943 Wisconsin adults; 781 registered Wisconsin voters; 571 likely voters) and found Democratic superintendent of public instruction, Tony Evers, leading Gov. Walker by a whopping 53-43 pecent among the likeliest of voters (52-43 percent within the registered voter segment). But, Marquette University Law School, a prolific Wisconsin pollster since the 2012 election cycle, actually finds the governor clinging to a one-point, 47-46 percent edge in their just-released survey (Oct. 3-7; 1,000 registered Wisconsin voters; 799 likely voters).

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D), left, and state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield)

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D), left, and state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield)

While the two pollsters are far apart in how they see the governor’s race, they are very consistent in projecting the US Senate contest between first-term incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) and state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield). NBC/Marist gives Sen. Baldwin a 54-40 percent advantage within their likely voters cell, while Marquette finds a similar 53-42 percent spread.

A simple explanation suggests that the governor’s race is quite volatile while the Senate campaign is virtually decided. The two polls were run consecutively with NBC/Marist ending on Oct. 3 and Marquette beginning on that day. Obviously, this means the Marquette data is the most recent.

The Marquette sampling universe looks to be the stronger, as both the registered and likely voter cells are larger than NBC/Marist’s. Additionally, since Marquette exclusively polls the Wisconsin electorate and does so on what appears to be a quarterly basis but more frequently when closer to an election, their knowledge of the voter base is likely superior to NBC/Marist, which is a national pollster. Therefore, the greater local knowledge likely provides them a superior ability to better pull a reflective sample.

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McSally Surges in New Arizona Poll

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson)

Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson)

Oct. 12, 2018 — A new OH Predictive Insights survey for ABC News 15 in Phoenix (Oct. 1-2; 600 likely Arizona voters) brings new information about the open Arizona Senate race. According to the ballot test results, Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) has overcome Rep. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-Phoenix) consistent small lead in the battle to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R) and claims a six-point advantage, 47-41 percent.

Though this is the first time that Rep. McSally has scored a lead beyond the polling margin of error, the new result is plausible.

For several weeks, surveys have projected that Gov. Doug Ducey (R) is expanding his small advantage over Arizona State University professor and Democratic gubernatorial nominee David Garcia into a double-digit lead, but the same polls continued to forecast Rep. Sinema with a tight edge in the Senate race. It seemed only a matter of time before the act of Ducey cementing his margin would begin to help McSally.

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)

Secondly, McSally, a retired Air Force colonel and the first woman to fly a combat mission and command a flight squadron, has been hitting Sinema over her role as a war protester prior to the latter woman being elected to the state legislature. The contrast is a compelling one and should play to McSally’s favor. Arizona may be more politically competitive that in past years, but Republicans still maintain a statewide advantage here. Additionally, the death of Arizona Sen. John McCain brings greater attention to those engaged in military careers, thus further helping McSally.

An outside conservative organization then began attacking Sinema over legislation she drafted while in the legislature that made it more difficult to charge individuals in child prostitution cases. Sinema’s argument was that men should not be held totally responsible for engaging in such a crime if the prostitute in question is made to look much older than her true age. This attack appears relatively weak and may miss the mark, but it adds to the multi-pronged strategy to cast Rep. Sinema in a negative light.

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