Category Archives: Election Analysis

The Manchin Reverberations

April 22, 2015 — Now that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has ended speculation about re-running for governor in his home state next year, a game of political musical chairs will soon begin in West Virginia. But, more importantly, the Manchin decision to stay where he is and seek re-election in 2018 vastly improves Democratic prospects of re-taking the Senate.

With the Republican legislature beginning to move legislation that would take Senate appointment power away from the governor, it was becoming apparent that Manchin vacating the seat would very likely allow Republicans a prime conversion opportunity in a 2017 special election. Effectively, such a move would have increased the number of seats Democrats need for a return to Senate majority status from 4 or 5, to 5 or 6. The lower number represents the required conversion total if a Democrat holds the White House in 2016, while the larger number comes into play if the eventual GOP presidential nominee wins. Obviously, it is in the party leaders’ interest to keep Manchin where he is, and they no doubt weighed in heavily upon him.

Since Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) is ineligible to seek re-election next year, we now have a competitive open seat gubernatorial race. Though Democrats have lost virtually everything they once held – all but Manchin’s Senate seat and this governor’s office – a West Virginia open statewide race can certainly be competitive.
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Coffman Over Bennet in Colorado Q-Poll, But are the Numbers Reliable?

April 17, 2015 — Quinnipiac University released a new Colorado statewide poll midweek (March 29-April 7; 894 Colorado registered voters) that surprisingly projects Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO-6) with a three-point lead over Sen. Michael Bennet (D), 43-40 percent, in a hypothetical 2016 US Senate contest.

Rep. Coffman has survived two difficult re-election battles since a court-drawn redistricting plan left him with largely a Democratic suburban Denver district. Though he has won against significant odds in both 2012 and 2014, he failed to reach 50 percent in the presidential year election.

Coffman ran tough campaigns both times, and spent a combined $8.4 million in securing his last two House terms. Originally winning a safe Republican seat in 2008, he was easily re-elected two years later (66-31 percent). Redistricting radically changed the 6th District after the 2010 census gave the seat 42 percent new territory and transformed it from a Republican district to one that supported President Obama with 54 and 52 percent of the vote in 2008 and 2012, respectively.

Based upon his record as a campaigner and prodigious fundraiser, the congressman appears to be the top choice of the National Republican Senatorial Committee leadership to challenge Sen. Bennet next year. Coffman, however, is not providing much indication that he is eager to run statewide, but polls such as this might provide greater encouragement. The congressman’s wife, Cynthia Coffman, was elected state attorney general last year, and she is also mentioned as a potential senatorial candidate. But, she is evidently less inclined than her husband to make the race.
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Florida Senate Chain Reaction

April 15, 2015 — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), as expected, officially announced his presidential campaign, which also put into motion the political war for what will be an open Florida Senate seat.

We already know that Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18) is in the race, but with Rubio now out of the coming Senate contest the Republicans can start to make moves of their own.

Staying with the Democrats, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL-9) continues to confirm interest in the race, and drops big hints that he will enter. He has said repeatedly that an early start does not equate to winning an election, so it is highly possible that he will begin his own campaign later in the year. Because he has the ability to self-fund, immediately constructing an external fundraising operation is not as important in this instance as for someone without such ability. Grayson appeals to the hard left, which is of significance in a Democratic primary battle.

In reviewing where the Florida Republicans stand, several decisions already have been made. As we reported yesterday, state CFO Jeff Atwater, after appearing to take every necessary step to prepare for a Senate race, abruptly announced that he would not run. Since he appeared to be performing best in preliminary polling, his absence now creates a wide-open political playing field.
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Ups and Downs in Ohio,
Pennsylvania Senate Races

Ohio Senate

April 8, 2015 — Quinnipiac University conducted a new Ohio poll (March 17-28; 1,077 Ohio registered voters) and finds that the state’s electorate apparently has a short memory.

In 2010, the Ohio voters defeated former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) after a single term, yet this poll gives him a strong 49:29 percent favorable to unfavorable approval rating and posts him to a significant 48-39 percent lead over Sen. Rob Portman (R). This is a surprising result because all other early polls give the senator a slight advantage, at the very least.

In looking closely at the survey, there appears to be little reason why the presumed Democratic nominee would maintain such a discernible edge. The large polling sample is split virtually evenly between the two parties – 28 percent Democratic, 27 percent Republican, 35 percent Independent — which is reflective of Ohio’s swing nature. The sample has no detectable anti-Republican bias, as shown in Gov. John Kasich’s (R) positive personal ratings and those of others. Kasich’s job approval ratio is an outstanding 61:28 percent.
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The Sestak Factor in the
Pennsylvania Senate Race

April 7, 2015 — The Pennsylvania US Senate campaign, a race that could well decide which party controls the majority in the next Congress, is beginning in bizarre fashion. While many people think that first-term Sen. Pat Toomey (R) is highly vulnerable under a presidential year turnout model, the Democratic situation is suspect, at best.

Former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA-7), who served two terms from Delaware County in the Philadelphia suburbs after unseating veteran Rep. Curt Weldon (R) in 2006, has been running his 2016 Senate campaign virtually since the time he suffered a 51-49 percent statewide loss to Toomey in 2010. Sestak officially announced his new effort well before the 2014 election.

Normally, having a nominee who lost by just two points return to challenge the opposite party’s incumbent in the next campaign is a positive occurrence, but relations between Sestak and the national and state Democratic Party leadership are so poor that such is not the case.
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A Convoluted Nevada Poll

April 2, 2015 — Gravis Marketing is the first to test the Nevada electorate since Sen. Harry Reid (D) announced his retirement, but their flash poll results are difficult to follow. The methodology appears to substantially over-sample Republicans, yet the Democrats inconsistently fare much better on the ballot test questions.

On March 27, Gravis utilized the Interactive Voice Response system to question 850 registered Nevada voters. Within this universe, 443 respondents are self-identified Republicans compared with 319 Democrats; 88 individuals did not state a party preference.

In Nevada, however, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans, thus making this sampling universe almost the exact opposite of reality. According to the 2015 state voter registration statistics as reported by the Secretary of State, 40.2 percent of the registrants are Democrats, 33.4 percent are Republicans, and 26.4 percent are Independent or affiliated in some other fashion. The survey universe features 52.1 percent who self-identify as Republicans, 37.5 percent Democrats, and just 10.3 percent Independent/Other.
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