Category Archives: Election Analysis

Anti-McCain Strategy Builds in Arizona

Sen. John McCain, first elected in 1986 after spending four years in the House and then rising to the peak of political party politics by winning the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, is likely headed for a competitive re-election next year. And, his strongest opponent may not even be a Democrat.

This week, Representatives Matt Salmon (R-AZ-5) and David Schweikert (R-AZ-6) held a meeting; one that could prove to be of great importance fast forwarding to their state’s August 2016 Republican primary. Both members have said publicly that they are considering launching an intra-party challenge to Sen. McCain.

The session apparently produced at least one major point of agreement. That is, both will not enter the race. They correctly reason that two congressmen jumping into the contest will guarantee McCain victory. This is particularly true in a plurality nomination state like Arizona, because the anti-incumbent vote will be split several ways, allowing the target to win with a mere base vote sometimes far under the 50 percent threshold. The pair has not yet agreed upon which man will run, only that it will be one.

The history of right-of-center challenges to more establishment political figures suggests a narrow path to victory, but part of the long odds calculation is that the conservative activists rarely coalesce to form a cohesive election strategy.
Continue reading >

McConnell Opponent Floundering

We all remember Alison Lundergan Grimes (D), the Kentucky Secretary of State who ran a close race against Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) … until the end.  In that campaign, Grimes continued to consistently poll within two to three points of the veteran senator, but fell by 15 points when the votes were actually counted.
 
Kentucky is one of five states to hold its statewide elections in odd-numbered years – Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia being the other four – so she must defend her current office later this year.  Yesterday, Grimes said she will be running for a statewide post but apparently has still not decided upon a specific race.  Candidate filing for the 2015 election closes Jan. 27, so she will quickly be forced to decide.
 
Grimes is apparently considering a campaign for governor and attorney general, in addition to a bid for re-election.  A further complicating factor came forth for her yesterday when Gravis Marketing released a statewide poll of Kentucky voters that indicates even a run for re-election as secretary of state may be fraught with peril.
 
Though talking about running for the other positions, the fact that she has yet to enter the race for governor or attorney general puts her at a major disadvantage should she actually decide to venture forth in either of those directions.  Current Attorney General Jack Conway (D), a 56-44 percent loser to Rand Paul (R) in the 2010 Senate race, is Continue reading >

An Odd Poll Leaves Some Clues

California Senate
 
The open California Senate race has dominated recent political news coverage, and yesterday a rather strange event unfolded.  It has now come to light that Public Policy Polling surveyed the California electorate at the end of the year (Dec. 29-30, 869 registered California voters) testing what appeared to be a potentially open Senate race, but is just now releasing the data as reported in The Hill newspaper.  
 
Though it is interesting to see how the candidates stack up in the early going, the tested field isn’t particularly representative of the individuals who now appear ready to jump into the race.  Hence, eyebrows are raised as to why PPP would come forth with data now when several key components are obsolete.
 
Already, Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) has announced her Senate candidacy and she is included in the survey, but former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who appeared to be moving toward a run, is not.  The latter exclusion is not particularly surprising because, at the time this poll was conducted, Villaraigosa was talking about running for governor in 2018 and not for the Senate in two years.  

Additionally, the current Los Angeles mayor, Eric Garcetti (D), is tested but he formally pulled himself away from further consideration for the statewide office.  In the second questionnaire, Garcetti is then Continue reading >

The Democrats Have Problems Beyond Redistricting

The Democratic federal elected officials are gathered in Baltimore right now, discussing the future of their party and ways to recapture much of the political territory they lost in the 2014 elections. A clear theme settling around their US House predicament is redistricting, and how the Republican-drawn boundaries, they say, in what are typically Democratic states have unfairly cost them large numbers of seats.

North Carolina Rep. David Price (D-NC-4) spoke at length about redistricting and how it affects the party. According to an article on Yahoo News, Price said, “Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia display the most egregious examples of gerrymandered districts for congressional and state legislative races.” His solution is to continue the process Democrats are using in several states, which is to sue over the current congressional boundaries contending that the district boundaries are “racially biased”. Except for Virginia, where a court has already declared the map unconstitutional for this reason, it will likely be difficult to make such a case in places where the minority districts have actually been maximized.

The 2014 electoral statistics cast a different light on the situation, however. Let’s take the case of freshman Rep. Gwen Graham (D-FL-2). She won a Republican-leaning seat in what was the worst of years for Democratic congressional candidates. The fact that she Continue reading >

The Candidates Start Lining Up

It’s already been a busy political new year. Two days ago we witnessed several potential candidates for various offices around the country quickly quelling speculation about their specific individual political plans. Yesterday, we see the opposite as several potential candidates confirmed they will seek different positions.

California Senate

The daily open Golden State Senate report includes an announcement from Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) that she will run for retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer’s (D) office. The development was expected after Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom made public his intention to remain in his current job, and then attempt to succeed incumbent Jerry Brown (D) when the latter is ineligible to seek another term in 2018.

But, the Harris decision to enter the Senate race is apparently not dissuading other contenders. Both former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-46) immediately issued separate statements reaffirming that they are both individually “seriously considering” becoming Senatorial candidates. Twenty-two Democrats and twelve Republicans confirm publicly that they have not yet ruled out running for the California Senate seat, the first such open contest in 24 years.
Continue reading >

Election Turnout Down in 2014; Louisiana Run-off Tomorrow

Now that states are beginning to report their certified election numbers, we can better gauge the 2014 turnout patterns. It appears that over eight million fewer people voted in this mid-term election than did in 2010. This is a large number to be sure, but much of the participation fall-off comes from places that featured little in the way of competitive elections.

Thirty-five states are reporting turnout figures that are lower than their respective voter participation tabulations for 2010. This is a substantial number in any event, but even more so when one is cognizant of the fact that virtually all states have increased population and higher registered voter totals now than they did four years ago. Conversely, 15 states saw an increase in aggregate voter turnout when compared to 2010.

The three states with the steepest turnout drop are Missouri, California and Nevada.

The Show Me State found 34.2 percent fewer people voting in this past election than in the last mid-term, but that is likely due to the fact that the only statewide contest was for the office of auditor, and none of the eight congressional races were viewed as competitive heading into Election Day. With California Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) re-election being a foregone conclusion and no Golden State US Senate contest, mid-term turnout in America’s largest state dropped 27.6 percent. California did have a host of competitive congressional contests, but they were not enough to balance the Continue reading >

Independent Outside Spending Grew at Significant Rate in 2014

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law just released a compilation of data relating to independent expenditures from the 2014 competitive senatorial campaigns. The compilation tells us some interesting facts about the scope of the outside group involvement, their impact upon the races (from an aggregate perspective), and whether Republicans or Democrats were the greater beneficiary from this campaign expenditure category.

The following are the Brennan Center’s tracked races – the ones the study conductors believed to be the 10 most competitive Senate races; Louisiana was excluded because a run-off appeared inevitable and no clear conclusion would be derived on Nov. 4 – providing totals for the independent money that was spent in each campaign.

The top indirect recipients of the independent outside spending (approximate figures) are as follows (winning candidates’ totals only):

• Thom Tillis (R-NC) – defeated Sen. Kay Hagan (D), 48-47% – $28 million
• Cory Gardner (R-CO) – defeated Sen. Mark Udall (D), 49-46% – $25 million
• Joni Ernst (R-IA) – defeated Rep. Bruce Braley (D), 52-44% – $23.5 million
• Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) – def. Alison Grimes (D), 56-41% – $21.5 million
• Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) – def. Sen. Mark Pryor (D), 56-39% – $19 million Continue reading >