Category Archives: Election Analysis

Johnson, Stein Likely Out

By JIm Ellis

Aug. 17, 2016 — The Commission on Presidential Debates has now provided more specific criteria pertaining to who will be invited to participate in the four presidential and vice presidential debates that are scheduled to begin Sept. 26.

Long ago, the commission members decided that the main qualification for national debate series participation is an arbitrary standing derived from a number of previously undetermined political surveys. Earlier reports indicated that only candidates obtaining 15 percent popular support as determined from the designated polls would be included.

Yesterday, in little way of surprise, the commission members announced that the official debate polls will be: ABC News/ Washington Post, CBS News/New York Times, CNN/Opinion Research, Fox News and NBC News/Wall Street Journal.

These polls, all using the same methodology in terms of sample size – normally around the 1,000 registered voter mark nationally – will likely continue to produce similar numbers. Therefore, it will be very difficult for Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, and almost impossible for Green Party candidate Jill Stein, to consistently reach the 15 percent plateau.

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Senate Trends

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 15, 2016 — A plethora of new swing state Senate polls have been conducted and already released in August, and both parties are getting some good news in specific races.

The two states ripe for electing a senator from a different party are Illinois and Wisconsin. Such has been known for the better part of a year, and the latest polls are no exception to the developing trends.

Illinois Senate Democratic nominee Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8) released her internal Normington Petts research firm poll (Aug. 1-4; 800 likely Illinois general election voters) projecting a 44-37 percent Duckworth lead over Sen. Mark Kirk (R). Marquette University Law School, again polling the Wisconsin electorate (Aug. 4-7; 805 registered Wisconsin voters) as they have done regularly since the 2012 election, finds former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) topping incumbent Ron Johnson (R), 53-42 percent. This result swings a net of six points in Feingold’s favor when compared to the institution’s July survey. At that time, Feingold led 49-44 percent.

All the key Republican defense battleground states reported new August numbers. The good news for Democrats comes in Pennsylvania where challenger Katie McGinty (D) made a significant gain on Sen. Pat Toomey (R), to the point where several polls find her building a small lead.

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Trump Trends

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 12, 2016 — Despite major media coverage to the contrary, Donald Trump’s polling standing in comparison to Hillary Clinton appears to be improving nationally, and in certain key states. Other surveys point to Clinton sustaining her large leads.

The latest national poll, from Bloomberg News/Selzer & Company (Aug. 5-8; 1,007 adults, 749 likely US voters) finds Trump pulling back to within four points of Clinton, 44-40 percent, with Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson attracting a nine percent share, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein obtaining a four percent preference vote.

A day earlier, the UPI/C-Voter survey (Aug. 2-8; 993 likely US voters) came out with Clinton also maintaining a four-point advantage over Trump, 49-45 percent. In this survey, the third-party candidates were not included on the ballot test questionnaire.

Twenty-four hours before the UPI poll was released, NBC/Survey Monkey publicized the results of their latest large sample national poll (Aug. 1-7; 11,480 registered US voters). While showing a 10-point, 51-41 percent spread in a head-to-head question, the margin declines to six points (44-38-10-4 percent) when Johnson and Stein are added. The polls including the third party candidates are more realistic because Johnson will appear on the ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, while Stein has so far qualified in 27 states and is awaiting a favorable petition decision in an additional 10.

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Ryan Crushes; Other Results

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 11, 2016
— House Speaker Paul Ryan recorded an 84-16 percent landslide victory against Republican primary opponent Paul Nehlen Tuesday night in southern Wisconsin. Nehlen was on his way to approaching the $1 million mark in campaign expenditures, but it did little to help expose any weakness in the Ryan political base.

Ryan followed the lead of his predecessor, former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH-8), when faced with a similar primary circumstance in 2014. Boehner re-invented himself as the local congressman for that particular race, returning to his roots in western Ohio and never mentioning his GOP opponent in ads or speeches. In fact, never did Ryan even indicate that he was the House Speaker, instead confining his personal description to that of local congressman.

Nehlen attacked heavily on immigration and trade, but it was Ryan’s years of work in the district and never losing touch with his political base and core constituency that allowed him to record such a big primary victory. In fact, the current Speaker actually ran 13 points ahead of the former Speaker’s final primary performance against a more difficult political opponent.

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Tennessee Primary Results

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 8, 2016 — Volunteer State voters went to the polls in their unique Thursday primary last week to choose congressional and state office nominees. The evening featured two of the most watched congressional races in the state, the GOP primary challenge to three-term Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-South Pittsburg) and the crowded open 8th District from which three-term Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Frog Jump/Jackson) is retiring.

Former Mitt Romney campaign official and attorney Grant Starrett challenged Rep. DesJarlais, who had been plagued for two cycles with the past scandal of engaging in extra-marital affairs with several of his female medical practice patients. Yet, he managed to survive in close contests. Two years ago, the congressman nipped former state Sen. Jim Tracy (R) by a mere 38 votes in winning with less than a majority in a multi-candidate field.

On Thursday, DesJarlais’ percentage was much better, defending himself against Starrett’s attacks from the ideological right and winning 52-43 percent, from a vote pool of just under 47,000 cast ballots. Though Starrett talked a great deal about ethics in his ads and public appearances, he did not reference DesJarlais’ affairs. Starrett had a significant resource advantage, possibly outspending the incumbent by 75 percent or more. We will see the final expenditure totals when the candidates soon file their post-election financial disclosure reports. Starrett will have likely spent in the $1.5 million range. Rep. DesJarlais now looks to be a sure re-election bet in the fall.

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Tennessee Primary: Another Upset?

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 5, 2016 — The country’s only Thursday primary took place yesterday in the Volunteer State of Tennessee. No US Senate race was on the ballot there this year, but competition existed within the House delegation.

The state featured one open seat, the 8th District of retiring three-term Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Frog Jump/Jackson), and a total of six primaries in the state’s nine CDs.

The 4th District challenge to Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-South Pittsburg/ Murfreesboro) was very serious. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) again drew competition from the legendary political Ford family, but the contest is not attracting much in the way of attention or challenger financial support. Rep. Diane Black (R-Gallatin) drew a former state representative and statewide candidate, but he, too, was not expected to be a major threat.

The remaining challenges, those to Reps. Phil Roe (R-Johnson City) and Chuck Fleischmann (R-Chattanooga), were minor. Regarding the latter member, this was the first time since his original election in 2010 that Fleischmann had an easy Republican primary run.

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Huelskamp Loses; Full Re-cap

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 4, 2016 — Voters in four states went to the polls Tuesday, and the primary evening’s top news featured western Kansas Republicans unseating their three-term Freedom Caucus congressman.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Fowler) fell to Dr. Roger Marshall (R), 56-44 percent, effectively ending his six-year tenure in the House. Huelskamp was at odds with the Republican leadership from the very beginning of his congressional career, even driving them to remove him from the Agriculture Committee, the industry of premier dominance in his district. The situation deteriorated to the point that even the Kansas Farm Bureau and the state Livestock Association officially backed Dr. Marshall.

Though national issues drove Huelskamp, it was the local agriculture situation that cost him the seat. The successful opposition campaign centered around Huelskamp’s ouster from the Agriculture Committee in one of the nation’s richest farm producing districts, and the incumbent’s refusal to support the farm bill in several Congresses. Dr. Marshall will easily win the seat in the general election.

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