Category Archives: Election Analysis

Harvard Poll: Some Surprises

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023

Polling

President Joe Biden / Photo by Gage Skidmore

National Survey: Surprises in Key Areas — Harvard University’s Center for American Political Studies recently completed an exhaustive national poll (conducted by The Harris Poll (D) and the HarrisX (R) firm; Sept. 12-14; 2,103 registered US voters; online) and while most of the responses were consistent with what we have seen from other pollsters, some of the questions produced unexpected results.

Responses about the direction of the country and economy and how President Joe Biden is performing on key issues are highly consistent with other findings. The voting public believes by an approximate 2:1 majority that the country and economy are on the wrong track, and President Biden is rated negatively on all key issue areas.

There is a small surprise on the political party approval question. Though the responses are within the polling margin of error, this is the first survey in a long while that produces slightly better numbers for the Republican Party (45:55 percent favorable versus unfavorable) than the Democratic Party (44:56 percent), though both continue to register upside-down numbers.

The Harvard pollsters tested 24 well-known individuals and found a respondent sample that views the overwhelming majority of these public figures in a negative light.

The 24 individuals included all 2024 presidential candidates from both parties with the addition of Vice President Kamala Harris, US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Joe Manchin (D-WV), US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA), former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Elon Musk.

Within this group, only a quarter of the men and women (6 of the 24) registered positively. Surprisingly, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was the most favorably viewed (+15 percent), followed by former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy (both at +6 percent), Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and Elon Musk (both at +5 percent), and Sen. Sanders (+3 percent).

The most negatively perceived were Sen. McConnell (-30 percent), ex-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (-20 percent), and former Vice President Mike Pence (-15 percent). President Biden scored a -12 percent, and ex-President Donald Trump fared a bit better at -6 percent.

Perhaps the biggest surprise were Vice President Harris’ ratings. While she scored -4 percent on the favorability index, her rankings in head-to-head pairings with the top Republican presidential candidates generally positive. While the survey showed that she would lose to Trump by six percentage points and tie former Vice President Pence, she leads the others.

Opposite Haley, Harris would lead by a single point. She tops Ramaswamy by two. Her best performance was against Sen. Scott (+7 percent), and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (+8 percent). She would also lead Kennedy 45-19 percent for the Democratic nomination if President Biden were to decide not to run.

Conversely, President Biden would trail Trump (-4 percent), Haley (-4 percent), and Sen. Scott (-2 percent). He would lead Pence (+6 percent), DeSantis (+4 percent), and Ramaswamy (+2 percent).

Legal Issues — The Harvard pollsters also queried the sample about the leading presidential candidates’ legal situations.

Regarding whether the sampling universe believes the new Biden impeachment inquiry and ex-President Trump’s prosecutions are legitimate or politically motivated, the respondents break exactly 50/50 on both questions. A majority, however (53-47 percent), support the impeachment inquiry.

There is a different view of the Hunter Biden situation and what the group believes about President Biden’s potential involvement. By a 60-40 percent majority, the respondents say that President Biden had “direct and detailed knowledge about his son’s business dealings.” The same 60/40 break was found when the pollsters asked if “Joe Biden has made false or misleading statements about his son’s business dealings, and what he knew about them.” A 57-43 percent break believes that “Joe Biden was helping his son Hunter get influence-peddling contracts.”

While there is polarization in Congress regarding the nation’s public policy, surprisingly the respondent universe answered the most important issue questions in a rather bipartisan manner.

Republicans (47 percent), Independents (41 percent), and Democrats (31 percent) all identified inflation and prices as the most important issue. Democrats (24 percent) and Independents (16 percent) tabbed climate change as second-most important; for Republicans, it was immigration (19 percent). All three groups reported crime as third-most important (Republicans 15 percent; Democrats 14 percent; Independents 13 percent).

We can count on seeing almost daily polling for the next few months from a multitude of survey research entities. Few, however, will be as extensive and detailed as this Harvard University study.

Pennsylvania’s McCormick to Announce; Ex-San Jose Mayor Won’t Run; MI-13 Challengers; Anchorwoman to Run in PA-10; Progressive Mayor Elected

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023

Senate

Former hedge fund CEO David McCormick (R)

Pennsylvania: McCormick to Announce on Thursday — David McCormick, the former hedge fund CEO and Republican US Senate candidate who lost his 2022 party nomination bid to Dr. Mehmet Oz by just 950 votes, is reportedly poised to make a run at three-term incumbent Sen. Bob Casey (D) next year. He has scheduled an announcement event for Thursday, which should officially launch his 2024 campaign. Though it is unlikely that McCormick will face a strong challenge for the party nomination, Sen. Casey will begin the active campaign season as the clear favorite to win the race.

House

CA-16, 18: Ex-Mayor Won’t Run — Former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo (D) who said earlier in the year he was deciding whether to challenge Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Atherton) or Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) in California’s March Democratic primary will not run against anybody. Instead, he has accepted a position with a legislative advocacy firm. Both Reps. Eshoo and Lofgren appear as prohibitive favorites to win another term in the House irrespective of who might be their Democratic primary and general election opponents.

MI-13: Two Will Return to Challenge Rep. Thanedar — Freshman Michigan Rep. Shri Thanedar (D-Detroit), who won a crowded open Democratic primary in 2022 with just 28 percent of the vote, will face at least two of the same opponents in his renomination fight next year. Former state Sen. Adam Hollier and John Conyers III, whose father held this same seat for 52 years, appear to be sure bets to return for another electoral battle. Once again, however, a crowded field will help Thanedar, because his opposition vote will be split. The Democratic primary will determine who represents the district. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates MI-13 as D+46.

PA-10: Anchorwoman May Soon Declare — Veteran news anchorwoman Janelle Stelson (D) has resigned her position with WGAL-TV in Lancaster, PA, ostensibly to soon declare her candidacy opposite US Rep. Scott Perry (R-Dillsburg/Harrisburg). While Stelson is well known in the Lancaster area, a media market that touches York County, the bulk of the 10th District population lies in the Harrisburg/Dauphin County region. Therefore, she does not command district-wide name identification.

The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the 10th District as R+9, which suggests a competitive race but one that a Republican should typically win. Rep. Perry was originally elected in 2012. He begins this race as a clear favorite for re-election.

Cities

Nashville, Tenn.: New Mayor Elected — The open mayoral runoff election was held on Tennessee’s unique Thursday election day at the end of last week, and the progressive left candidate, Freddie O’Connell an elected member of the Davidson County Metro Council, claimed the victory.

He easily defeated GOP strategist Alice Rolli on a 63-36 percent count. O’Connell will succeed Mayor John Cooper, brother of former Congressman Jim Cooper (D), who did not seek re-election.

Georgians Losing Faith

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023

President

Trump: Legal Challenges Stir Divisiveness — As we know, former President Donald Trump has been under a barrage of legal attacks in four jurisdictions, and a new poll suggests that at least one key state’s electorate isn’t responding well.

Former President Donald Trump / Photo by Gage Skidmore

Trump now faces 91 different charges and three of the trials are scheduled to begin in early March, not coincidentally, close to Super Tuesday, March 5. There is a strong chance that the Trump legal team will be able to delay many of the proceedings, but the possibility remains that voters will see one of the major candidates spending significant campaign time in a defendant’s chair.

A new Rasmussen Reports survey (conducted for “The Right Way” conservative blog; Sept. 8-11; 1,061 likely Georgia voters) suggests that Peach State respondents are losing trust in their electoral and legal systems as a result of the post-2024 election happenings and the Trump prosecutions.

When asked if the Georgia election system is “rigged,” 62 percent responded affirmatively. Additionally, a solid majority of 55 percent claim to be “worried that cheating will take place in the 2024 election.”

These are numbers not typically seen in other places, but the large amount of news coverage devoted to the Trump legal situation is likely motivating more people to give the situation and associated issues greater attention.

Georgia is the most important state on the 2024 Electoral College map. It is virtually impossible for a Republican to win the White House under the polarization we are seeing nationally without converting this populous Deep South domain. Only a handful of states are regarded as “swing,” with most analysts believing the electorates in as many as 45-48 states will vote as they did in 2020.

If these Rasmussen numbers are even in the outer realm of accuracy, the campaigns may have a difficult time convincing people to vote in the record proportion as we saw in the last two presidential elections.

An example of this occurred in the 2020 Georgia Senate general election runoffs where the strongest Republican counties did not return for the second election in the same proportion as did the Democrats from their strongest voting domains. It is believed that the Trump forces loudly claiming the election was fraudulent led to a slightly decreased GOP turnout, which proved enough to help elect Democratic Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.

Though the Senate runoff experience would conclude that a lack of electoral trust would hurt the Republicans more than the Democrats, some of the remaining Rasmussen questions suggest we could see a backlash over the legal system going overboard, at least in many peoples’ opinion, against Trump.

According to the Rasmussen results, a strong respondent majority of 56 percent say they believe that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is prosecuting Trump “because of politics.” A 53 percent majority thinks the legislature should take action to stop Willis’ prosecution, while 51 percent even believes Willis, herself, should be investigated.

There is no question that the Trump legal situation is wreaking havoc across the presidential campaign. We have seen the strange situation where the former president’s polling numbers have actually increased rather substantially since all of the indictments were brought forth.

This phenomenon is not only happening in the Republican primary. Over the past two weeks, Trump has posted some of his best general election numbers of the election cycle and has developed a slight lead over President Joe Biden according to a half-dozen recent political pollsters, some of which come from major liberal media outlets such as CBS News and CNN.

It is difficult to tell if this polling streak and negative reaction to the government bringing almost 100 charges against the former president is a short-term blip or whether it has long lasting legs.

If voters, after seeing the evidence and the court proceeding, which inevitably will be televised, believe the charges to be frivolous or politically driven, we could see a situation where Trump gains votes as a statement against the legal establishment. If the proceedings convince people that crimes have been committed, then expect President Biden to win re-election going away.

There is no question that the 2024 presidential campaign will produce America’s most unique all-time election.

Biden Maintains Standing Against Kennedy; Trump Grows Stronger; New California Open-Seat Candidate; Ex-Candidate Returns to NC-8 Race

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Sept. 15, 2023

President

President Joe Biden / Photo by Gage Skidmore

President Biden: Maintains Standing Against Kennedy — The newly released Issues & Insights TIPP poll (Aug. 30-Sept. 1; 606 likely US Democratic primary voters; online) again finds President Joe Biden holding an overwhelming lead over Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in a Democratic primary trial heat.

The margin, though still on the weak side for an incumbent president, considering that 32 percent of the Democratic respondents would choose a candidate other than Biden, continues to stake the President to a 68-10 percent margin.

More importantly than the Biden number, which fluctuates to a degree, the Kennedy support figure has remained consistent in the low double-digit range. The fact that we have seen little movement in the nomination campaign despite months of campaigning from Kennedy, suggests that the final result will not differ greatly from what we’re seeing in the multitude of similar polling totals.

Iowa: Trump Grows Stronger — The newly released Emerson College Hawkeye State survey (Sept. 7-9; 839 Iowa respondents; 357 likely Iowa Republican caucus attenders; multiple sampling techniques) stakes former President Donald Trump to a 50-39 percent advantage over President Biden in a head-to-head ballot test. If Green Party candidate Dr. Cornel West is added to the questionnaire, Trump would lead both Biden and West, 48-35-5 percent.

Comparing Trump’s current polling numbers to those found during the 2016 and 2020 election cycle indicates that the former president’s lead over Biden could be even greater. In the two previous elections, Trump clearly under-polled in Iowa surveys when compared with the ultimate final result.

House

CA-31: Ex-Rep Enters California Open Seat Campaign — Former US Rep. Gil Cisneros (D), who was elected in 2018 but defeated for re-election two years later in a pre-redistricting Los Angeles-Orange County congressional district, and then who served as a Defense Department Under Secretary in the Biden Administration, has once again become an unofficial congressional candidate. Cisneros this week filed exploratory committee documents with the Federal Election Commission that allow a potential candidate the ability to raise greater than $5,000 in campaign funds.

The former congressman is starting from scratch in his new CD. The open 31st District, from which veteran Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Norwalk) is retiring, has no constituent in common with the district that Cisneros previously represented. He won’t have money problems, however. You may recall that in 2010, Cisneros, then a recently retired US Navy officer, won a $266 million Mega Millions lottery so campaign funding should not be a particular issue for him.

State senators Bob Archuleta (D-Norwalk) and Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) who represent large parts of the current CD will offer stiff competition, however. The seat will remain in Democratic hands, and it is likely that two Democrats will advance into the general election from the California top-two jungle primary system but there is no early guarantee that Cisneros will be one of the qualifiers.

NC-8: Ex-Candidate Harris to Return — In 2018, it looked for a time that Republican former pastor Mark Harris had won a southern North Carolina congressional seat. After challenges uncovered serious voter fraud and a new election was called, Harris withdrew from the campaign.

Then-state Sen. Dan Bishop (R-Charlotte) went on to claim the seat despite being badly outspent in the special general election. Now, Bishop is leaving the House to run for state attorney general. Harris announced Tuesday that he will return as a candidate in what will be an open 2024 election.

The district, however, may be drastically changed once the legislature submits a new redistricting plan sometime next month, so it is likely too early to forge any serious predictions. The only other announced candidate from either party is former Union County Commissioner Allan Baucom. Currently, Union County is the Republican bedrock of the 8th CD, a district the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as a whopping R+38.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney to Retire; Local Wisconsin Republican Announces for Senate; Michigan Secretary of State Slates Trump; OH-13 House News

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney announces he will not run for re-election: C-SPAN

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023

Senate

Utah: Sen. Mitt Romney to Retire — “It is time for a new generation of leaders,” Utah Sen. Mitt Romney (R) said yesterday. “I would be in my mid-eighties if I were to serve another full term.” With that, the Beehive State senator announced that he will not seek a second term next year.

Romney becomes the sixth senator — four Democrats and now two Republicans — to retire when their respective terms end in January of 2025. While Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tom Carper (D-DE), and Ben Cardin (D-MD), are all retiring from politics, Indiana’s Mike Braun (R) is running for governor instead of seeking re-election.

Had he sought another term, Sen. Romney would have faced an active Republican primary challenge. Since he would not likely have fared well at the conservative-dominated Republican nominating convention, it is probable that he would have been forced to access the ballot via the petition signature route. Now, we will see a highly competitive GOP primary battle to succeed Romney in what will be an open-seat campaign.

Wisconsin: Local Republican Steps Forward — Trempealeau County Supervisor Stacey Klein (R) announced yesterday that she will enter next year’s statewide US Senate campaign with the hope of unseating two-term incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D). This race has been very slow to develop, and Klein now becomes the most politically accomplished individual in the Republican primary.

This, despite her western Wisconsin county serving as home to less than 30,000 individuals. Unless a more senior opponent soon announces, Sen. Baldwin could coast to a third term in what should be a very competitive political environment come November.

President

Michigan: Dem Secretary of State Slates Trump — Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) yesterday announced that she will award former President Donald Trump a ballot position on the Michigan primary ballot, unless a court decision directs otherwise. Benson stated that “… the courts, and not secretaries of state, should decide if the US Constitution disqualifies Trump.” The Michigan primary is scheduled for Feb. 27, 2024. Presumably, she will also slate Trump in the general election, again barring a court ruling, should the former president win the Republican presidential nomination. Michigan is a critical swing state, so ensuring a ballot position here is a must for the Trump campaign.

House

OH-13: Ex-GOP Chair Won’t Run for House — Jane Timken, the former Ohio Republican Party chair who was a 2022 US Senate candidate, announced yesterday that she will not enter next year’s Republican primary in Ohio’s Akron anchored 13th District. GOP candidates will be vying for the opportunity to challenge freshman Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron).

Announced Republican candidates are Hudson City Councilman Chris Banweg and 2022 congressional candidate Greg Wheeler. Republican leaders are reportedly attempting to recruit former state senator and ex-Rep. Kevin Coughlin.

The 13th will likely feature a competitive general election. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat R+2. Dave’s Redistricting App, however, casts the partisan lean in the Democrats’ favor, 50.7D – 47.0R. President Joe Biden carried the district over former President Trump, 50.7 – 48.0 percent.

Sen. Cassidy Considers No Labels Party; Newsom Clarifies Potential Appointment; Another Challenger to Sen. Cruz Emerges; NM-3, NY-4 News

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023

President

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA)

No Labels Party: Sen. Cassidy Says He’ll Talk — From Sunday’s NBC interview, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) admitted that he would “talk” to the No Labels Party leaders if they approached him about becoming their presidential nominee. Sen. Cassidy also explained it would depend upon who the major parties nominate, but he intimated if we are going to see a Biden-Trump re-match he would be more inclined to run as a third-party candidate.

Sen. Cassidy is the type of candidate the No Labels Party would like to recruit. It is clear their main goal is to deny former President Donald Trump re-election, so they will be looking for a candidate who has some ability to attract suburban Republican voters away from Trump. The No Labels Party will decide who to nominate, if anyone, at their national conclave scheduled for April 14-15, 2024.

Senate

California: Gov. Newsom Clarifies Potential Appointment — Some Democrats are still urging Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D), who is suffering from failing health, to resign her seat so that Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) can appoint a more able individual. Gov. Newsom now says that he will only appoint someone who will serve as a caretaker if the vacancy were to occur.

The governor said it would be unfair to give an advantage to any of the candidates currently running for the Senate if he were to appoint one of the contenders. Early rumors suggested he was leaning towards appointing US congresswoman and 2024 Senate candidate Barbara Lee (D-Oakland). She hails from Newsom’s northern California political base, but his latest statement suggests he would now go in a different direction.

Texas: Another Cruz Challenger Emerges — Back in May when Texas Rep. Colin Allred (D-Dallas) announced his Senate campaign it looked as if the Democratic leadership had the candidate they wanted to challenge Sen. Ted Cruz (R). Two months later, state Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) announced his candidacy, and then resigned Nueces County District Attorney Mark Gonzalez followed. Another candidate has now joined them — Dallas state Rep. Carl Sherman Sr. (D), a former local mayor and pastor.

While Rep. Allred still may top what is now becoming a crowded field, he will undoubtedly be forced to drain his campaign treasury just to win the nomination; he had raised over $6 million before the June 30 campaign finance quarterly report. Sen. Cruz will then be able to build an uncontested campaign treasury, and force all four Democratic candidates far to the left on key issues such as the Biden energy policy and the Texas-Mexico border.

House

NM-3: Ex-State Rep to Challenge Rep. Leger Fernandez — Former state Rep. Sharon Clahchischilliage (R), a member of the Navajo Nation who served three terms in the legislature before being defeated for re-election in 2018, announced that she will challenge two-term Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-Santa Fe) next year. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates New Mexico’s 3rd District as D+5, meaning we could see a competitive general election develop. In 2022, Rep. Leger Fernandez was re-elected with 58 percent of the vote, but against a Republican candidate who spent only $301,000 on her campaign.

NY-4: Democrat Withdraws — Sarah Hughes (D), who was a member of the 2002 US Olympic figure skating team and had formed a congressional exploratory committee earlier in the year to challenge Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-Island Park), announced Monday that she will not pursue her candidacy. The top Democrats appear to be state Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Nassau) and ex-Hempstead town supervisor and 2022 nominee Laura Gillen (D). In the face of such competition, Hughes’ chances of winning the Democratic primary were poor; hence, the decision to end her political quest.

New York’s 4th District, at D+10 according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization, is likely to become the Democrats’ top conversion opportunity in the country.

Five Republicans Lead Biden; Pelosi to Return; Hudson Announces in MI-3; Cox Draws GOP Challenge in Utah

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023

President

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley / Photo by Gage Skidmore

CNN Poll: Five Republicans Lead Biden — The new CNN national poll (conducted by the SSRS research company, CNN’s regular polling firm; Aug. 25-31; 1,503 US adults; live interview & text) found no fewer than five of the announced Republican presidential candidates holding small leads over President Joe Biden in general election ballot tests.

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley fared best, scoring a six-point advantage over the president. Two-point leaders included former Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), and ex-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Former President Donald Trump held a one-point edge, while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis tied Biden. The only Republican contender to fall behind Biden, and by only one point, is businessman Vivek Ramaswamy.

This poll, consistent with many other findings, again sees the Republicans doing better in a sample comprised of adults as opposed to registered or likely voters. This suggests the GOP is doing better than Democrats with non-voters, meaning the party will have to find a way to identify, register, and turn these habitual non-voters into participants.

House

CA-11: Rep. Pelosi to Return — Though many expected 83-year-old former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) to retire, she instead announced a re-election bid for a 20th term in Congress late last week. In her statement, Rep. Pelosi said, “our country needs America to show the world that our flag is still there, with liberty and justice for ALL. That is why I am running for reelection — and respectfully ask for your vote.” She will easily be renominated and re-elected next year.

MI-3: Ex-Judicial Candidate Announces for Congress — Attorney and Michigan Supreme Court judicial candidate Paul Hudson (R), who finished fourth in a field of five 2022 candidates, announced for Congress at the end of last week. He hopes to oppose freshman Rep. Hillary Scholten (D-Grand Rapids) in a district the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+3.

Last November, Scholten defeated Republican John Gibbs, 55-42 percent, after he upset one-term Rep. Peter Meijer (R) in the GOP primary. The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission transformed what was a safe Republican 3rd District that originally elected Meijer to one that favors the Democrats.

Hudson is the third announced Republican candidate but is clearly the most credible. Should he prevail in the Aug. 6, 2024, GOP primary, assessments will be made as to whether he will become a top-tier challenger candidate. MI-3, however, is the type of politically marginal district that the GOP must win in 2024 in order to protect and enhance the party’s slim majority.

Governor

Utah: Gov. Cox Draws GOP Challenge — State Rep. Phil Lyman (R-Blanding), who hails from San Juan County in the far southeastern corner of the Beehive State, which includes the “Four Corners” where Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico meet, announced he will challenge Republican Gov. Spencer Cox in next year’s Republican convention and potentially the state primary.

Lyman, a land rights radical, received a pardon from former President Trump after the government arrested him for his protest activities. Gov. Cox may not be particularly popular with the Republican base, so Lyman may have a chance to assemble a significant support coalition at the state convention.