Category Archives: Election Analysis

Florida & NY Redistricting News, Alaska GOP Endorsement and More

By Jim Ellis

April 26, 2022:

Redistricting

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R)

Florida: DeSantis’ Signs Map — On Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) took the final step toward adopting the new Florida congressional plan by signing the bill that the legislature passed. Immediately, several groups, the League of Women Voters of Florida, Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute, Equal Ground Education Fund, and Florida Rising Together, along with several individuals filed suit in state court to overturn the map. They claim the new draw violates the “Fair Districts” amendment to the Florida Constitution that voters passed in 2010, which pertains to gerrymandering and minority representation. It is likely the Florida state Supreme Court will ultimately decide the matter.


New York: Appeals Court Upholds Map Rejection — A five-judge New York Appellate Division panel upheld a lower court ruling that the new congressional map violates the New York constitution as an illegal partisan gerrymander. The congressional plan would likely elect 22 Democrats and 4 Republicans. The current map divides 19D-8R. New York lost one congressional district in national reapportionment.

Democratic leaders are already saying they will appeal to the state’s highest court, the New York Court of Appeals. Resolution of the Empire State map situation could be key to the impending midterm congressional election cycle. Under New York procedure, the map still stands because it has not yet been fully decided in the appeals process.


AK-AL: AK Republican Party Endorses Begich — The Alaska Republican Party took an official stand in the special election that is scheduled for June 11th, with the succeeding four-person runoff on the political calendar for August 16th. The AK GOP endorsed software executive Nick Begich III, the grandson of the late former Congressman Nick Begich (D), and nephew of ex-Democratic US Senator Mark Begich.

The Alaska Republican State Central Committee took the action even though former Governor and 2008 Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin is also in the huge field of 48 candidates all vying to replace the late Congressman Don Young (R). Earlier in the week, Ms. Palin’s former in-laws, Jim and Faye Palin, also publicly announced they are backing Mr. Begich. One way the party justified their endorsement is to explain that Mr. Begich was the only one of the 13 GOP contenders to follow the party procedure for requesting formal support.


Governor

Alabama: Gov. Ivey in Position for Outright Win — A new internal Tarrance Group survey for Gov. Kay Ivey’s (R) re-election campaign (4/18-20; 600 AL likely Republican primary voters; live interview) finds the incumbent in position to win re-nomination outright in the May 24th Republican primary election. Failing to reach the 50% support mark would send the nomination battle into a secondary June 21st runoff election between the top two finishers.

The Tarrance results project Gov. Ivey holding a 57% preference figure. Following are former US Ambassador to Slovenia Lindy Blanchard with 14% and businessman Tim James, son of former Alabama Governor Fob James, posting 12% support. The Republican nomination battle in the Yellowhammer State is tantamount to winning re-election in November.

Campaign Dollars – Quarter 1

By Jim Ellis

April 25, 2022 — The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has released the campaign finance reports for the quarterly period ending March 31, and the Daily Kos Elections site analysts have published their regular comprehensive summaries for all Senate and House incumbents and candidates.

In the Senate, the top fundraisers for the campaign-to-date are familiar names, and they are repeating their overwhelming performance from the 2020 election cycle. For the 2022 race, Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) reports $44.2 million in receipts with a cash-on-hand total of $25.6 million. Both are higher than any individual running for the Senate in the 2022 cycle. Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) is close behind, raising $39.0 million for the campaign cycle with $23.3 million in his treasury.

Based upon state population segments, Sen. Kelly is actually the stronger of the two because he comes from a smaller state. Dividing the funding evenly by congressional district, Sen. Kelly averages $4.3 million per his state’s nine congressional districts, while Sen. Warnock posts $3.2 million per Georgia’s 14 CDs.

The next most prolific fundraisers come from the same race. Florida Congresswoman Val Demings (D-Orlando) is the top money producing challenger in the country, posting $30.5 million in receipts for the campaign cycle. Her opponent, Sen. Marco Rubio (R), is virtually even with her, attracting $29.3 million. Cash-on-hand is about dead even, too. Rep. Demings reports $13.2 million in her account; Sen. Rubio, $13.1 million.

For the Republicans, the top challenger fundraiser, though he is leagues behind general election opponent Sen. Warnock, is Georgia’s Herschel Walker with $14.2 million raised.

The aggregate group of Senate candidates raising the most in one challenger contest is found in Wisconsin, as Democrats Alex Lasry, state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes have cumulatively brought in $18.2 million. Lasry, an executive with the Milwaukee Bucks professional basketball club, has gross receipts of over $9 million, but $5.8 million is self-sourced. Godlewski reports $5.1 million in total dollars raised, but $3.3 million comes from herself. Lt. Gov. Barnes has raised $4 million without any self-funding. For his part, Sen. Ron Johnson (R) has obtained $10.8 million for his 2022 re-election campaign.

The most prolific open seat fundraisers are in Pennsylvania and Ohio. The combined candidate dollar total in the Keystone State exceeds $45 million, but almost $18 million of that total is self-funded from Dr. Mehmet Oz (R) and former hedge fund CEO David McCormick (R). The group from Ohio is close behind with $44.8 million obtained. In this case, we see a combined self-funding total that exceeds $21 million.

On the House side, a total of 32 incumbents and challengers raised over $1 million just during the first quarter. Naturally, the party leaders, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy ($4.3 million), Minority Whip Steve Scalise ($3.4 million) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi ($3.3 million) are the most prolific.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer ($510,000) and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn ($284,000) are clearly not in the top echelon, but are likely spending their time raising funds for their leadership PACs or the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). Additionally, with Democratic incumbents and candidates raising considerably more than their Republican counterparts, the individual campaigns need less from Washington.

The top non-incumbents breaking the $1 million mark for the quarter are Jessica Cisneros, now in a Texas Democratic runoff with Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) and Marcus Flowers, who is challenging Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Rome), both at $2.4 million.

Continue reading

Michigan Candidate Filing Closes

By Jim Ellis

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D)

April 22, 2022 — Major party candidate filing has now closed in the Wolverine State, and we see some highly competitive contests forming for November.

With no senator on the 2022 ballot, the governor’s race tops the ballot. No fewer than 10 Republicans filed in an attempt to oppose Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) in the November election. The governor drew no Democratic opposition for the Aug. 2 state primary.

The leading GOP contender appears to be former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, but he must first secure the Republican nomination.

Within the large field, he can expect competition at least from chiropractor and well-known anti-lockdown activist Garrett Soldano, former Berrien County Commissioner and ex-state police captain Mike Brown, and online talk show host Tudor Dixon. The general election yields a race that promises to be one of the top campaigns in the country and polling suggests that the projected Whitmer-Craig contest is already a toss-up.

We will also see serious November competition in most of the state’s 13 congressional districts on a map the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission members purposefully drew to feature the maximum number of tight political districts.

In two contests, the major party general election pairings are already set. First District US Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet/ Upper Peninsula) must subdue a challenge from Marquette County Medical Director Bob Lorinser (D). In an R+24 district, according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization, where the congressman exceeded 61 percent of the vote in 2020, Rep. Bergman becomes a prohibitive favorite for re-election in November.

What began as an incumbent pairing between Reps. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) and Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) because the state lost a seat in national reapportionment, is now a general election that will produce little in the way of political suspense.

With Upton recently announcing his retirement and state Rep. Steve Carra (R-Kalamazoo) deciding to exit the congressional race and seek re-election to his current position, those moves have surprisingly left Rep. Huizenga unopposed for re-nomination in the new 4th CD. His general election opponent will be retail banker Joseph Alfonso (D) in a race that should offer only minimal competition for the six-term incumbent.

Reps. John Moolenaar (R-Midland), Tim Walberg (R-Tipton), Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn), and Lisa McClain (R-Bruce) face little in the way of competition for both re-nomination and re-election. Rep. Dingell, however, is placed in a new 6th District that contains 44 percent new territory and is without the family’s home base of Dearborn. A member of the Dingell family has represented Dearborn as a part of their district in Congress consecutively since 1933.

Freshman Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids) received one of the tougher draws on the new map. His 3rd District, while still anchored in Grand Rapids, moves from an R+9 rating to D+3. He first must secure re-nomination over former Trump Administration official John Gibbs and attorney Gabi Manolache. Meijer then will again face his 2020 opponent, Democratic attorney Hillary Scholten, who held him to a 53-47 percent victory in the more Republican 3rd District version. The new 3rd contains 50 percent new territory for the congressman, including the Democratic city of Muskegon.

Even though Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly/Lansing) loses her home base, finds herself in a district with 38 percent new territory, and must compete in an R+7 new 7th District, she actually gains a political point when compared to the current 8th District that she now represents. Still, winning re-election with just a 51-47 percent spread and facing tougher Republican competition from state Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Lansing) means this race will become a top GOP national target.

Continue reading

Self-Funding Candidates Saving GOP

By Jim Ellis

April 21, 2022 — The first-quarter financial reports are now public and we see a stark difference between Democrats and Republicans in funding for the key May primary Senate races, particularly in Pennsylvania and Ohio. If it wasn’t for self-funding candidates in these two states, the GOP would be in trouble.

In Pennsylvania, Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman holds strong polling leads over his primary opponents as well as a major fundraising advantage over all contenders. According to the Federal Election Commission’s March 31 campaign finance reporting, Fetterman has raised just over $15 million for his US Senate effort.

His receipts total is well over $9 million more than his chief Democratic primary opponent, Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh), and his $5.7 million aggregate figure. The third competitive Democrat, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia), has obtained $1.8 million. None of the three Democrats have self-funded their races to any degree.

The Pennsylvania Republicans, on the other hand, offer a stark contrast. While the top two GOP resource candidates, television doctor Mehmet Oz and ex-hedge fund CEO David McCormick, report aggregate receipts in the same realm as Fetterman, the sources are very different.

Dr. Oz posts total receipts through March 31 of $13.4 million and McCormick has $11.3 million. The difference, however, is that 82 percent of Dr. Oz’s money comes from him, and 61 percent of McCormick’s money is self-donated, mostly in the form of campaign loans.

The same pattern also appears for the third-highest funded Republican candidate, former US Ambassador Carla Sands. She reports $4.62 million in receipts, but 85 percent of that total comes from her personal funds. The fourth-place candidate, former lieutenant governor nominee Jeff Bartos, is the only one with a majority percentage of his dollars coming from contributors. He has raised $3.4 million, with 62 percent coming from individuals other than himself.

The story is the same in neighboring Ohio. There, the two top fundraising Republicans report self-funding as their major source.

Businessman Mike Gibbons leads all candidates in total receipts with $17.4 million raised. In his case, all but $1 million, or 94 percent of his aggregate total, comes from his own funds. The second-highest Republican in terms of dollars raised is state Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), who is a minority owner of the Cleveland Guardians MLB baseball club, with $11.1 million in receipts. He also has self-donated, mostly in terms of personal loans, 94 percent of his campaign treasury.

We also see the same pattern appear for the Ohio Democrats that exists in Pennsylvania. US Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown) is the consensus party candidate, way ahead of former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau official and 2020 congressional candidate Morgan Harper in terms of polling and money.

Continue reading

Maryland’s New Map Filing Closes

Please click on the image above or here to go to an interactive version of the map on FiveThirtyEight.

By Jim Ellis

April 20, 2022 — A surprising court decision that invalidated the original 2022 Maryland congressional map has made the Free State slightly more competitive for the coming election, and now we see the candidate universe.

The Maryland filing deadline was moved to April 15 from the first postponed deadline of March 22. The original filing was scheduled for Feb. 22 in conjunction with the June 28 primary. The latter election date was moved to July 19 as a result of the original congressional map being disqualified in court.

With the new map in place, two districts were most affected. The new 1st District of Rep. Andy Harris (R-Cockesyville) returns to safe Republican status at R+25 according to the FiveThirtyEight statistical team. Under the rejected Democratic legislature’s map, the Harris seat was rated only R+8. Rep. David Trone’s (D-Potomac) western Maryland 6th District now moves into Republican territory at R+1, a major change from the D+12 seat that the Democratic legislature drew.

A total of 69 candidates are running for the US House in Maryland, but the most emphasis will be the Democratic primary in Rep. Anthony Brown’s (D-Bowie) open 4th District and Trone’s 6th CD in the general election.

The Democrat’s July 19 primary will determine Rep. Brown’s successor as he joins the open race for state attorney general. The new 4th District, anchored in Prince Georges County, and which stretches as far north as Laurel, is just under 60 percent black and 87.7 percent minority. Therefore, this majority minority seat will elect its new member in the Democratic primary.

A familiar face filed towards the end of the period — former 4th District Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D), who won a special election in 2008, and then clinched four more regular electoral contests. She unsuccessfully ran for the Senate in 2016, and now is attempting a comeback with her successor, Rep. Brown, moving on.

Edwards’ main competitor is former Prince Georges County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey who was the clear leader until the former congresswoman returned. The third key candidate is former state Delegate Angela Angel. A fourth contender, state Delegate Jazz Lewis (D-Largo), decided to file for re-election and dropped out of the congressional race. Six other Democrats filed, but appear to be minor candidates as the race is winnowing to the three aforementioned contenders.

Continue reading