Category Archives: Election Analysis

Fox News: Six More Democrat Senators Could Retire

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Jan. 16, 2023

Senate

Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) to retire

Retirements: Six Possible — Late last week, Fox News Online ran a story suggesting that six more Democratic senators may opt for retirement in 2024 following the lead of Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D), who announced last week that she will not seek a fifth term.

In addition to Sen. Stabenow’s retirement, California Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) declared her Senate candidacy even though incumbent Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has yet to disclose her own re-election plans.

With this backdrop, the six senators listed below are (in order of most likely to retire to least):

  1. Dianne Feinstein (CA): It is presumed that Sen. Feinstein, who will turn 91 years of age before the next election, will retire. Some are expressing their belief that Rep. Porter is disrespecting Sen. Feinstein’s long career – elected in 1992, she has served longer than any sitting Democratic member – and is potentially forcing the senator’s hand to make an announcement. With some in the leadership urging her to resign early due to health constraints, it appears evident that she will not seek re-election.
  2. Joe Manchin (WV): With faltering job approval numbers and from a state that is now becoming ruby red politically, speculation has been out there for some time that Sen. Manchin may not seek re-election or could instead attempt to regain his former position as governor. 
    Already, Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) has announced that he will challenge Sen. Manchin next year. Gov. Jim Justice (R), who will be term-limited in 2024 and has strong approval numbers, has not closed the door regarding running for the Senate. Polling suggests that both Gov. Justice and Rep. Mooney would begin a race against Sen. Manchin with a definitive advantage.
  3. Bob Casey, Jr. (PA): Last week Sen. Casey announced that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and will have surgery in the coming months. He said his prognosis for a full recovery is excellent and plans on seeking re-election. If there is a downturn in his health, however, there is certainly a chance that his campaign plans could be forced to change. For now, Sen. Casey looks to be a sure bet to run for a third term, but unfortunately his precarious health situation could be an impediment to his quest.
  4. Jon Tester (MT): Sen. Tester is beginning to appear on more potential retirement lists, as he did in the Fox News story. Montana, like West Virginia, is another state that is turning solidly Republican making Sen. Tester’s re-election less than a sure thing. 
    The last time he was on the ballot (2018) he defeated current US Congressman Matt Rosendale (R-Glendive) by only a 50-47 percent margin in a state that has only grown more conservative since that time. In the 2020 election, Republican candidates won all eight of Montana’s statewide elections with victory margins between nine and 19 percentage points. During the same period, Sen. Tester’s voting record has moved decidedly to the left where he can no longer be considered a centrist incumbent. 
    Additionally, Montana’s other senator, Republican Steve Daines, is now chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), thus guaranteeing that Montana will be a top national GOP target with heavy funding to support the party’s eventual nominee. Therefore, with obvious lucrative opportunities available to Sen. Tester in the private sector, he might decide his future is more appealing on the outside of elective politics than fighting what will likely be a more difficult re-election campaign than he has before experienced.
  5. Tim Kaine (VA): Sen. Kaine, the Democrats’ 2016 vice presidential nominee and former Virginia governor, stands for a third term in 2024. The Fox analysis placed Sen. Kaine on the potential retirement list with the reasoning that Virginia could be moving more to the right, thus suggesting the senator might face a more difficult re-election campaign. 
    Such an analysis is incorrect. Despite Republican Glenn Youngkin’s victory in the 2021 Governor’s race – a two-point win where the last three weeks of the campaign turned decidedly his way under circumstances that are unlikely to be repeated — the state has clearly established itself as a reliable Democratic bastion. Expect Sen. Kaine to run again and face relatively weak opposition. He will likely romp to a decisive re-election victory.
  6. Tammy Baldwin (WI): Sen. Baldwin was placed on the potential retirement list for a reason similar to Sen. Kaine being included. The Fox News analysis cited Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R) tight victory — 50.4 percent with a 26,728-vote margin of 2.65 million ballots cast — as an indication that the state is becoming more favorable to Republicans. 
    This is the first time there has been a hint that Sen. Baldwin is a retirement possibility, and a close 2020 Senate race at the same time a Democratic governor was being re-elected should not be indicative of any future voting trend in a state that either party can win. There is little current reason to think that 60-year-old Sen. Baldwin would retire. Therefore, fully expect her to be on the ballot next year competitively vying for a third term.

Ricketts Selected to Replace Sen. Sasse; CA-30 Race Already Rolling; Elvis’s Cousin Announces for Gov.

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Jan. 13, 2023

Senate

Former Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts selected to replace Sen. Ben Sasse.

Nebraska: Gov. Pillen Tabs ex-Gov. Pete Ricketts for Vacant Senate Seat — Sen. Ben Sasse (R) has officially resigned his seat in order to assume his new duties as president of the University of Florida, and new Gov. Jim Pillen (R), as expected, chose former Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) as the interim replacement. Ricketts will serve until the next general election in 2024. The seat is next in-cycle for a six-year term in 2026.

Gov. Pillen wanted to pick a senator who would commit to serving a long while in order to build seniority for the state to compliment two-term Sen. Deb Fischer (R) who is seeking re-election in 2024. Therefore, Ricketts committed to running both in 2024 and 2026. Senate-Designate Ricketts will be sworn into office when the Senate next convenes on Jan. 23.

House

CA-30: House Race Already Rolling — California Rep. Katie Porter’s (D-Irvine) move to declare for the Senate even before incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) announces her retirement has already set off a chain of reaction. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) says she will announce once Sen. Feinstein makes her retirement public. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) looks to be doing the same. In anticipation of the latter jumping into the Senate race, Los Angeles School Board member Nick Melvoin (D) announced yesterday that he will run for Schiff’s House seat.

Governor

Louisiana: Rep. Graves Considering Gov Race — Saying, “I think that the sentiment out there in the public for another candidate in this race is absolutely extraordinary,” Louisiana US Rep. Garret Graves (R-Baton Rouge) confirmed that he is still considering whether to run for governor later this year, and promises a decision in the next few days. The open gubernatorial field has changed drastically with both Sen. John Kennedy (R) and Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser (R) declining to become candidates.

Graves was first elected to the House in 2018 and easily re-elected in 2020 and 2022 with 71 and 80 percent of the vote, respectively. He would not have to risk his congressional seat to run for governor in this odd-numbered year election. Attorney General Jeff Landry (R), state Treasurer John Schroder (R), and Department of Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson (D) presently appear to be the leading contenders.

The candidate filing deadline is not until Aug. 10. The jungle primary is scheduled for Oct. 14. If no one receives majority support in the initial vote, the top two finishers will advance to a Nov. 18 runoff election. Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Mississippi: Elvis’s Cousin Announces for Governor — Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley (D), a second cousin to the late music legend Elvis Presley, announced that he will compete for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in a quest to challenge Gov. Tate Reeves (R) later this year. Presley was elected to the Public Service Commission in 2007 after serving seven years as mayor of Nettleton, a town of approximately 2,000 residents. He is the first person to become an official 2023 opponent to Gov. Reeves. Secretary of State Michael Watson is a potential Republican primary challenger.

Candidate filing closes Feb. 1. The statewide primary is set for Aug. 8 with a runoff date on Aug. 29 for those races where no candidate achieves majority support in the initial vote. The general election is Nov. 7.

Arizona’s Kari Lake Leads in New Senate Poll; Calif. Rep. Lee Indicates a Senate Run; Manchin for WVa Gov.?

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023

Senate

Former Arizona newscaster Kari Lake (R)

Arizona: Kari Lake (R) Leads in New Senate Poll — Former local Phoenix news anchor Kari Lake (R), who just lost a close race for governor, claims a small lead in a new hypothetical US Senate poll featuring she, incumbent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I), and Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix).

David Binder Research conducted the survey (Jan. 5-8; 618 registered Arizona voters; interactive voice response system & text) and projects that Lake, who has not indicated that she will run for the Senate, leads Rep. Gallego and Sen. Sinema, 36-32-14 percent, respectively. Though Sen. Sinema trails badly, she could certainly rebound and come from the outside to win especially if the Democratic and Republican candidates almost evenly split the remaining vote. Considering recent vote history since 2018, such an outcome is certainly possible.

Rep. Gallego is an all-but-announced Senate candidate. He may, however, face opposition from US Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Phoenix), and possibly others, in the Democratic primary.

California: Rep. Lee (D) Says She will Run for Senate — California Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) reportedly is telling supporters that she will run for the Senate next year, following Rep. Katie Porter’s (D-Irvine) lead, but will not declare her intentions until Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) announces her expected retirement. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) is also expected to follow a similar path into the Senate contest.

We will probably see a Democratic brawl that could last the entire election cycle considering that California’s top two primary system will likely advance two Democrats into the general election.

Considering both Reps. Porter’s and Schiff’s strong fundraising prowess, Rep. Lee will be at a clear financial disadvantage. The Bay Area, however, has produced most of the recent statewide elected officials, so geography would be a point in her favor. Count on a very crowded Senate field should Sen. Feinstein, in fact, decide to retire.

Governor

West Virginia: Sec of State Announces for Governor — Secretary of State Mac Warner yesterday announced his 2024 gubernatorial candidacy in what is already becoming a crowded open seat Republican primary. Mountain State Gov. Jim Justice (R) is ineligible to seek a third term, and may run for the Senate.

Already in the race is state Del. Moore Capito (R-Charleston), son of West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R), and auto dealer Chris Miller, the son of 1st District Congresswoman Carol Miller (R-Huntington). Two other minor candidates have also entered the race. No Democrat has yet come forward. Former state Delegate S. Marshall Wilson is also running, representing the Americans Coming Together Party (ACT). Many more candidates are expected to enter the race. Rumors persist that Sen. Joe Manchin (D) may run for governor instead of seeking re-election.

Rep. Porter Announces for Senate in California, Candidates Immediately Announce for Her Seat; Virginia State Races

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023

Senate

California: Rep. Porter (D) Announces for Senate — California Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) yesterday announced (see above video) that she will enter the 2024 US Senate campaign, apparently irrespective of what veteran Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) decides about her own political future.

Accompanying the Porter video announcement was a poll that the David Binder Research company conducted for the congresswoman’s campaign committee soon after the November election. The study tested a hypothetical general election battle between Reps. Porter and Adam Schiff. Also included in the poll were Reps. Barbara Lee and Ro Khanna (D-Fremont), the latter of whom has also discussed running for the Senate. No Republican alternative was listed.

The Binder survey (Nov. 19-21, 2022; 600 registered California voters; live interview & online) projected that Reps. Porter and Schiff would advance into the general election from the state’s top two jungle primary system. Between Porter and Schiff, the electorate would break 37-26 percent in Porter’s favor with Republicans backing the Orange County congresswoman at a 25-5 percent clip. This is largely due to Schiff’s strong negative ratings among Republicans, likely over his prominent role in the Trump impeachment process.

House

CA-47: Candidates Declare for New Open Seat — We also saw quick action in what will be an open 47th Congressional District now that Porter is an announced Senate candidate. Former California state Rep. Scott Baugh immediately declared that he would run again, as did former Congressman Harley Rouda (D). The latter man was elected to the House in 2018 from the former 48th District, approximately 59 percent of which now lies in Porter’s new 47th. In 2020, Rouda lost his re-election to current 45th District US Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Orange County).

The CA-47 seat now becomes the second district to already open for the 2024 election cycle. Earlier, Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV) announced that he will challenge Sen. Joe Manchin (D) next year, thus opening in northern West Virginia 2nd Congressional District for the next election.

States

Virginia Senate: Democrats Capture Vacant Seat — Though Republican state Sen. Jen Kiggans (R-Virginia Beach) defeated US Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Norfolk) in the November election, Tidewater Democrats rebounded last night with a tight win to convert her vacated Senate seat. Democrat Aaron Rouse captured a close 50.4 – 49.5 percent win over Republican Kevin Adams to expand the Dems’ Senate advantage to 22-18.

In 2020, President Biden carried this state Senate district with a 54-44 percent margin, but GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin won the seat 52-48 percent in the 2021 gubernatorial election. Therefore, the 7th Senatorial District is clearly politically marginal in nature.

Virginia House: Each Party Wins One Special Delegate Election — In two House of Delegates special elections, each party held a risked vacancy in landslide proportions. In the 24th District where Delegate Ronnie Campbell (R-Rockbridge) passed away in December, the deceased incumbent’s wife, Ellen Campbell, easily succeeded her late husband with a 66-34 percent victory.

In Fairfax County’s 35th House of Delegates district, Democrat Holly Seibold recorded a 67-33 percent win to keep the seat in the Democratic column. She will replace Del. Mark Keam (D) who resigned to accept a position in the Biden Administration. The pair of victories now yield 52 Republicans and 48 Democrats in the state House.

Two Announce in Michigan; Gov. Vacancy in Nebraska; House Announces Committee Chairs; Turmoil in Louisiana

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023

Senate

Michigan: First Two Announce — The first two candidates came forward to announce their intention to run for what will now be an open Michigan US Senate seat in 2024. Former state Rep. Leslie Love (D) and attorney Jacquise Purifoy (D) both declared their candidacy yesterday. These are the first in what is expected to be a long list of contenders for both parties. Last week, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) announced that she will not seek a fifth term in 2024.

One person who will not likely be in the field is Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D), who indicated yesterday that she will continue to serve in her current position.

Former Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, likely replacement for Sen. Ben Sasse.

Nebraska: Officially Vacant — Sen. Ben Sasse (R) has officially resigned his seat in order to assume his new duties as president of the University of Florida. This means new Gov. Jim Pillen (R) will now be able to name a replacement. Odds are strong that he will choose former Gov. Pete Ricketts (R). The announcement could come as early as today.

Once a replacement is chosen, the individual will then come before the voters in a special 2024 election, run concurrently with the general cycle, to fill the balance of the unexpired term. The seat next comes in-cycle for a full six-year term in 2026.

House

AZ-1: Rep. Schweikert Already Draws First Opponent — Veteran Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills) had another close call in the 2022 election, winning a seventh term with just 50.4 percent of the vote in a newly configured district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as R+7. His opponent was first-time candidate Devin Hodge (D), a communication consultant who may well run again.

Yesterday, however, orthodontist Andrew Horne (D) became Rep. Schweikert’s first 2024 challenger with his announcement of candidacy. We can again expect this race to be competitive in two years. A crowded Democratic field is expected to form.

Committee Chairs: Steering Committee Elects Three Newcomers — With the Speaker’s election now complete, the Republican Steering Committee met yesterday to finalize the remaining committee chairman posts. In a bit of a surprise, the committee, with Speaker Kevin McCarthy holding four votes and Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) having two, elected Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee defeating favored Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE) in a contest that went to a second ballot.

In other contests, Rep. Mark Green (R-TN), a former military doctor, defeated Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) for the Homeland Security Committee post. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), as expected, was elected chair of the Education and the Workforce panel, and Texas Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Lubbock) will be the new Budget Committee chairman. He defeated Reps. Buddy Carter (R-GA) and Lloyd Smucker (R-PA).

Governor

Louisiana: Lt. Gov. Shakes Up Field — In a surprising move, Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser (R) changed his mind about running for governor and instead yesterday announced his intention to seek re-election later this year. Before, Nungesser said he would run for governor if Sen. John Kennedy (R) didn’t. After Sen. Kennedy declined to enter the race, it was assumed that Nungesser would immediately jump and become one of the leading contenders. Several others were declaring for the lieutenant governor role with the understanding that the seat would be open.

With Nungesser’s decision to stay put, it appears that attorney general and former Congressman Jeff Landry (R), someone Nungesser described as “not a good person” when previous discussion arose about his intentions regarding the governor’s election, becomes the front runner to replace term-limited incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards (D).

As a result of the Nungesser decision, state Treasurer John Schroder (R) then entered the governor’s race. The leading Democrat to date is Transportation Department Secretary Shawn Wilson. Candidate filing does not end until Aug. 10 for the Oct. 14 jungle primary, so the fluid contender field can still greatly change. If no candidate receives majority support in this first election, the top two finishers will runoff on Nov. 18.

McCarthy’s Win Even Closer

By Jim Ellis — Jan. 9, 2023

House

Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt)

Speaker: A Dive Into the Numbers — The internal US House voting process that elected California’s Kevin McCarthy as Speaker Friday night on the 15th roll call was arguably even closer than the final 216-212-6 tally suggested. 

The two closest congressional elections, those of Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and John Duarte (R-CA), both would have affected the Speaker race outcome had the pair not won their tight November electoral contests. 

Though Boebert supported other members on the first 13 roll calls, her “present” vote on the last two helped make the difference in McCarthy’s marathon campaign for the Speakership. Rep. Boebert won her western Colorado re-election campaign with only a 546-vote margin. Duarte was victorious with a similar 564 vote spread in central California. Combined, the aggregate 1,110 vote victories ultimately provided what McCarthy needed to finally reach majority support.

In all, 25 November US House races were decided by less than 10,000 votes apiece. Of those, Republicans won 15 and Democrats 10. In 15 of these 25 elections, we saw the winning candidate flip the district from the previous party’s representation to his or her own. 

It is likely that most, if not all, of these 25 closest 2022 contests will become targeted races in the 2024 election cycle. Throughout the long election cycle, we will be paying particular attention to the 10 districts where the electorate voted opposite of the prognosticators’ pre-election calculation.

The FiveThirtyEight data organization, for example, rated all 435 House districts using past election trends, voter registration, and other statistics to formulate a point spread favoring a nominee of one party or the other.

The following 10 members over-performed their party’s projection and won a close contest in a seat that was expected to favor the opposite party’s nominee:

  • Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-WA-3; R+11)
  • Rep. David Valadao (R-CA; D+10)
  • Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY; D+10)
  • Rep. John Duarte (R-CA-13; D+7)
  • Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY-17; D+7)
  • Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA; R+4)
  • Rep. Yadira Caraveo (D-CO-8; R+3)
  • Rep. Wiley Nickel (D-NC; R+3)
  • Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-OR; D+3)
  • Rep. Brandon Williams (R-NY; D+2)

Redistricting may very well be back on the table for the 2024 congressional cycle, however. Irrespective of the US Supreme Court deciding the Alabama racial gerrymandering and the North Carolina partisan gerrymandering and legal jurisdiction cases before the end of June, we can expect redraws occurring in certain states.

The legislatures will likely redraw interim court-mandated maps in New York, North Carolina, and Ohio. Based upon a recent federal three-judge court ruling, South Carolina has been ordered to produce a new congressional map by March 31. The impending SCOTUS rulings could force Alabama, Illinois, Louisiana, and North Carolina (if not already done so by the time the high court rules) to change their maps.

The redraws would potentially help Republicans in Illinois and North Carolina, and Democrats in Alabama, Louisiana, New York, and South Carolina. The Ohio situation is unclear, at least for now.

With impending map changes coming in the aforementioned states, and possibly several more depending upon just how far-reaching the future SCOTUS decisions prove, we could again see a large number of seats falling into the competitive realm. This, in addition to the aforementioned 25 close likely targets from the previous election cycle. 

Those members are listed in their entirety below:

Nebraska Appointment Coming Soon; A Look at Indiana Campaign Chests; Kennedy Declines to Run;
Chicago Mayoral Race Heats Up

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Jan. 6, 2023

Senate

Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse (R)

Nebraska: Appointment Coming Soon — Sen. Ben Sasse (R) has already delivered his farewell speech to the Senate, and scheduled Sunday, Jan. 8 as his official resignation day. He is leaving the Senate to become president of the University of Florida. With Gov. Jim Pillen (R) being sworn into office yesterday, he will soon announce his appointed choice to replace Sen. Sasse.

The odds clearly favor outgoing Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) as Pillen’s selection, but such a move is reportedly not being completely well received within Nebraska GOP circles. Charges of an inside deal surround the potential pick since Gov. Ricketts was instrumental in helping Pillen win a crowded Republican primary back in May. Whoever is chosen must stand for election in 2024 to fill the remaining two years of the present term. The seat is next in-cycle in 2026.

Governor

Indiana: Equivalent Resources — 2024 Indiana gubernatorial candidates are already releasing their financial figures in anticipation of the state’s impending disclosure deadline. At this point, the three announced Republican candidates, US. Sen. Mike Braun, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, and businessman Eric Doden are all indicating they have in the neighborhood of $3 million in their individual campaign accounts. The combined funds comes from contributions, transfers from previous campaign committees, and self-funding loans or donations. Sen. Braun is the clear favorite to win both the Republican primary and general election, but it is also clear that he will have competitive party nomination opponents.

Louisiana: Without Kennedy, Tight Gov Campaign — Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) announced yesterday that he will not enter the 2023 Louisiana governor’s race, thereby creating a wide-open race to succeed term-limited Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards. Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser (R) said he will run if Sen. Kennedy does not, and his now released internal poll from last month testing his standing against potential opponents has great relevancy.

The BDPC local Louisiana consulting firm poll conducted in mid-December (Dec. 7-13; 603 likely Louisiana jungle primary voters; live interview) sees Lt. Gov. Nungesser and Democratic Department of Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson tied at 23 percent apiece. Closely following is Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) with 22 percent, which means a virtual three-way tie.

The Louisiana jungle primary is scheduled for later this year, on Oct. 14. If no one receives majority support, which is likely, the top two finishers will advance to a Nov. 18 runoff election.

Cities

Chicago: Mayor Lightfoot Unloads on Rep. Garcia — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D), in a fight for her political life as the nine candidates move toward the Feb. 28 Windy City municipal election, has released a major negative attack against who polling shows to be her chief opponent, US Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago).

Her new media ad attacks Rep. Garcia as being corrupt for his association with, and receiving financial favors from, indicted crypto currency fund owner Sam Bankman-Fried, along with his relationship with indicted former Speaker of the House Mike Madigan (D), and for what she claims is his delivering the deciding vote for a red light camera company contract just hours after receiving a contribution from the manufacturing company. The gloves have already come off in this major mayoral battle, and it is certainly a campaign to watch.