Category Archives: Election Analysis

VA Democrats’ Redistricting Move

Aug. 20, 2015 — There won’t be a new congressional map coming from the Virginia legislature and governor, after all. In early June, based upon their previous ruling and subsequent US Supreme Court decisions, a federal three-judge panel ordered the state legislature to re-draw, by Sept. 1, the southeastern part of Virginia after affirming that Congressional District 3 — Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Newport News) is illegal.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) called the special legislative session for purposes of complying with the judicial ruling, but the members have already left Richmond. The map will revert to the court, where the judges will presumably draw the new map themselves.

Judicial maneuvering, and not congressional politics, caused the session to close less than a day after it began. Virginia is one of two states, South Carolina being the other, that gives judicial appointment responsibility to the legislature. The governor, during times of recess, has the right to fill judicial vacancies.

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Hillary’s Deepening Problem

Aug. 19, 2015 — Fox News just released their latest poll (Anderson Robbins Research and Shaw & Company; Aug. 11-13; 1,008 registered voters; 401 likely Democratic primary voters; 381 likely Republican primary voters), and the traditional media coverage seems to be emphasizing a lesser analytical point.

Their stories highlight that Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) are expanding their respective leads (25-12-10 percent) over whom the media identifies as the Republican establishment candidates, namely ex-Gov. Jeb Bush (who posts 9 percent), and the many elected governors and senators who are in the race. The Hillary Clinton results, however, are actually more compelling.

Once again we see a familiar pattern defining the Clinton performance. Democrats favorably view her, but Republicans and Independents generally hold a highly negative impression. She leads in all ballot test pairings but breaks 50 percent at no time, and the vast majority of voters don’t trust her.

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House: Looking Ahead

Aug. 17, 2015 — With the presidential contest dominating the political news coverage on a daily basis, very little attention has been paid to the US House races. Having what appears to be a secure Republican majority and a low number of open seats, the congressional campaigns will not likely bring much drama in 2016. The states under court-mandated mid-decade redistricting: Florida, Virginia, and possibly Texas, are unlikely to threaten the Republicans’ majority status either, though we could see several seats shift between the parties.

Coming off a 2014 election that sent 59 freshmen into the House and features 239 members who had served three full terms or less when they were sworn into the 114th Congress, the coming election promises much less turnover. In the 2012 election cycle, 62 seats were open followed by another 47 in last November’s vote. (The figures count districts in which an incumbent was defeated in a primary.) So far this year, we see 20 open seats (10R; 10D), not including two vacant districts that were filled in 2015 special elections.

According to our own Ellis Insight political forecast, 234 seats are safe (182), likely (36), or lean (16) Republican, while Democrats see 179 districts coming their way: 155 in the safe category, 16 likely landing in their column, and seven more leaning in their direction.

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McGinty to Run
In Pennsylvania Senate Race

Aug. 6, 2015 — Tuesday, as expected, just-resigned gubernatorial chief of staff Katie McGinty announced that she will challenge former congressman Joe Sestak for the Democratic US Senate nomination next year. The winner opposes first-term Sen. Pat Toomey in one of the nation’s most critical campaigns.

The Pennsylvania contest has already been a major problem for the Democratic Party leadership. Falling into open internal warfare with Sestak, largely over personality conflicts and the inability to work together during his previous campaign five years ago, the party leaders have been candid about their desire to field another candidate.

Earlier in the year they attempted to recruit Montgomery County Commission chairman Josh Shapiro but failed. Largely because of Rep. Bob Brady’s (D-PA-1) behind-the-scenes work, McGinty is now an official candidate.

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Perry Out in GOP Debate

Aug. 5, 2015 —  Fox News’ dubious way of choosing their 10 presidential debate participants for this Thursday’s event has reached its predictable ending.  One candidate was rejected on the basis of just a few responses from an averaged set of small-sample polls.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has apparently secured the tenth and final debate spot, edging former Texas Gov. Rick Perry by what appears to be an imaginary percentage point at most.  Kasich joins Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Gov. Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Sens. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul, Dr. Ben Carson, and Gov. Chris Christie on the Fox debate dais.

Also failing to make the cut are Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Gov. Bobby Jindal, George Pataki and Jim Gilmore.

The huge Republican field puts Fox and the other media outlets sponsoring debates in a difficult situation because the logistics of managing a 17-candidate forum are quite unwieldy.

Choosing to divide by an averaged set of national polls, many with samples comprised of less than 300 people, is not an equitable way of deciding which contenders are invited.  A series of smaller debates, with participants selected in random order would have been a fairer way to bring equal exposure to the candidates.

Florida: Even More Surprises

July 29, 2015 — The Mason-Dixon Polling & Research statisticians surveyed the Florida electorate (July 20-23; 500 likely Florida Republican primary voters; 500 likely Florida Democratic voters) and predictably uncovered some surprising results. Since so many extraordinary political moves continue to unfold in the Sunshine State, the unusual is fast becoming the order of the day.

In the presidential race, results provide an unexpectedly large lead for their former governor, Jeb Bush. The M-D data finds Bush leading the Republican field with 28 percent, followed by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at 16 percent, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker posting 13 percent, and Donald Trump dropping to fourth position with only 11 percent allegiance.

The numbers tell us several things. Jeb Bush, in his home state, enjoys his largest lead and Florida is apparently the only place where he has an advantage that exceeds one or two points. In second place is the state’s junior senator, Marco Rubio, but he lags a dozen points behind.

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Iowa, New Hampshire:
Below the Surface

July 28, 2015 — Over the weekend, NBC/Marist College released their recent polls (July 14-21) conducted in the first two presidential caucus/primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire, hence providing some interesting answers to a few new questions.

The pollsters underscore that the sampling period covers the time both before and after Donald Trump made his highly publicized comments about Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) war record. Unlike many of the recent public polls that featured extremely small polling national polling samples, the individual respondent universes for these two surveys are acceptable (Iowa: 1,042 residents; 919 registered voters; 342 likely Democratic Caucus attenders, 320 likely Republican Caucus attenders; New Hampshire: 1,037 residents; 910 registered voters; 329 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters, 401 likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters).

The glimpse provided between the registered voters and the overall resident sample is also significant. In each state, there is only a negligible difference between how registered and non-registered voter responded.
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