Category Archives: Election Analysis

Former Rep. Rogers Enters Michigan Senate Race; New Candidate Announces in Texas; Alabama Redistricting Map Struck Down; Primary Results in RI-1 and UT-2

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Sept. 8, 2023

Senate

Michigan: Ex-Rep. Rogers Enters Senate Race — As expected, via a strong video announcement, former US Rep. Mike Rogers (R), who served in Congress from 2001 to 2015 and rose to chair the House Intelligence Committee, officially declared his US Senate candidacy.

“No candidate is better prepared to have an impact on day one,” Rogers said in his video announcement. “I’m ready to serve again.”

The Rogers entry gives the Republicans a top-tier candidate in a state that has trended against the GOP in the last two elections. Polling suggests the favored Democratic candidate, US Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing), who represents the same Michigan congressional district as did Rogers, would have only a small lead to start the campaign.

Former US Rep. Peter Meijer is also a potential Republican candidate, though the Rogers entry would make him a major underdog in a statewide primary. Meijer was elected to the House in 2020 but lost his bid for renomination in 2022. Rep. Slotkin faces state Board of Education President Pamela Pugh, actor Hill Harper, and former state Rep. Leslie Love in the Democratic primary. Both Rep. Slotkin and Rogers should be viewed as heavy favorites to win their respective partisan primaries.

Texas: New Dem Candidate Announces — Republicans in the Texas legislature have been coalescing in an attempt to strip Nueces County District Attorney Mark Gonzalez (D) from his office for failing to prosecute large numbers of criminals, following the lead of several big city DA’s such as those in San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles.

Instead of dealing with a potential legislative battle, Gonzalez abruptly resigned his post and then declared his candidacy for the US Senate. He, however, must first face US Rep. Colin Allred (D-Dallas) and state Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) in the Democratic primary before getting a chance to make a statement in opposing incumbent US Sen. Ted Cruz (R). In what the Democratic leadership was hoping would become an easy primary for their favored candidate, Rep. Allred, is now evolving into something quite the opposite.

House

Alabama Redistricting: Replacement Map Struck Down — Yesterday, a federal three-judge panel in Alabama struck down the legislature and governor’s new map enacted to comply with the US Supreme Court’s June ruling that ordered a redraw for racial considerations. The argument rested upon census numbers indicating that a second majority minority seat could be drawn in the state.

The legislature’s map increased the African American population in District 2 from 30 to 39 percent, but the three-judge panel ruled the new plan did not go far enough. The judicial panel also ordered a special master to draw a new map.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) stated immediately after the new ruling that the state will appeal the decision. Redistricting appeals automatically go to the US Supreme Court. Considering the time required for the appeal to be heard and ruled upon, there is some chance that a new map will not be in place until after the 2024 election.

RI-1: Ex-White House Aide Wins Special Dem Primary — The long-awaited special primary election to replace resigned Rep. David Cicilline (D) was conducted Tuesday, and former Biden and Obama Administration official Gabe Amo clinched the crowded Democratic primary with a 32-25-14 percent victory over former state Rep. Aaron Regunberg and state Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Pawtucket). The remaining nine candidates, including Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, failed to even reach the 10 percent threshold.

Amo will be a lock to defeat the Republican winner, military veteran Gerry Leonard Jr. in the Nov. 7 special general election and upon election will be the first person of color to represent Rhode Island in Congress.

UT-2: Party-Endorsed Candidate Claims GOP Nomination in Special Primary — In Utah’s 2nd District, where Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Farmington) will resign his seat on Sept. 15 due to family considerations, polling suggested that former state Rep. Becky Edwards had a significant lead in a three-way contest, and early vote counting seemed to confirm this prediction.

As counting progressed, however, Republican district convention winner Celeste Maloy chipped away at Edwards’ metro-area lead once the rural counties tallies began mounting. She then won a tight, but still unofficial, Republican primary special election. In third place, also relatively close, is former Republican National Committeeman Bruce Hough.

Assuming this election is certified, and the 1,400-plus vote margin is likely enough to withstand a recount should Edwards move to have one conducted, Maloy will advance to the special general election where she will face state Sen. Kathleen Riebe (D-Cottonwood Heights). Riebe was unopposed in last night’s Democratic primary.

Now, the partisans will turn their attention to the special general election scheduled for Nov. 21. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the UT-2 seat as R+23, and former President Donald Trump defeated President Joe Biden here, 57-39 percent. Last November, Rep. Stewart was re-elected with a 60-34 percent vote spread. Therefore, Maloy begins the special general cycle as a heavy favorite to carry the day for the GOP.

The 14th Amendment Controversy

Former President Donald Trump / Photo by Gage Skidmore

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023

President

Trump: Insurrection or Rebellion? — There is a great deal of discussion mounting about whether a key provision of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution will disqualify former President Donald Trump from the 2024 presidential election ballot.

Recently, two US senators, Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Mike Lee (R-UT), assumed opposite debate positions. The phrase “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” is at the crux of the argument. Sen. Kaine believes Trump engaged in insurrection with regard to his actions surrounding the January 6th Capitol incursion and should be disqualified from running for office. Many legal scholars agree.

Conversely, Sen. Lee objects, citing that the US Senate found then-President Trump not guilty of insurrection in the second impeachment vote. Therefore, he says, the “rebellion or insurrection” phrase does not apply. Many legal scholars agree.

Sen. Kaine, during a CNN interview, argued that “the language (of the amendment) is specific: If you give aid and comfort to those who engage in an insurrection against the Constitution of the United States — it doesn’t say against the United States, it says against the Constitution. In my view, the attack on the Capitol that day was designed for a particular purpose … and that was to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power as is laid out in the Constitution.”

In an interview with Utah’s Deseret News, Sen. Lee indicated he agrees with the arguments put forth from University of California at Berkeley professor John Yoo and others who published a paper pertaining to this subject.

Professor Yoo and the others penned in part, “if it were clear that Trump engaged in insurrection, the Justice Department should have acted on the January 6 Committee’s referral for prosecution on that charge. Special Counsel Jack Smith should have indicted him for insurrection or seditious conspiracy, which remain federal crimes. If it were obvious that Trump had committed insurrection, Congress should have convicted him in the two weeks between January 6 and Inauguration Day. Instead, the House impeached Trump for indictment to insurrection but the Senate acquitted him.”

Obviously, there are strong opinions on both sides of this argument and, as Sen. Kaine said, the courts, and most likely the US Supreme Court, will ultimately have to make a ruling.

The larger question, however, that no one is yet addressing, is when all of this will happen. If, for example, Trump is convicted in the Washington, DC trial regarding his January 6th actions, the 14th Amendment move to disqualify him could be triggered. Should this scenario unfold, perhaps the most important point would be whether the timing is before or after the Republican National Convention now scheduled for July 15-18, 2024.

If Trump’s name is stricken from the ballot, and that will likely become a state by state issue, then the Republicans will have to nominate a new candidate, assuming that Trump has accumulated enough delegates to clinch the nomination. Currently, the latter observation appears highly likely.

If the disqualification move comes before the RNC meets, the delegates could then nominate a new candidate in an open convention. After Trump becomes the official party nominee, then a whole new set of circumstances will occur, most of which will be subject to conjecture.

Will the vice presidential nominee automatically assume the top ballot positions? Would the RNC instead be called into a special convention to nominate another candidate? Would every state recognize the RNC action, regardless of the course the national political party chooses?

Should the 14th Amendment scenario not be solved before the convention convenes, it is probable the delegates would pass binding resolutions to cover a succession protocol in case what currently exists in the party bylaws is not wholly clear or does not fully apply to the current situation. In any event, political and legal chaos would undoubtedly ensue.

Consider the situation already coming to the forefront in Arizona. Democratic Secretary of State Adrian Fontes says his state’s Supreme Court has already answered the 14th Amendment issue. Fontes says, though he disagrees with the court’s ruling, that the Arizona Supreme Court has dictated Congress would have to specifically designate that Trump, or any other candidate, is to be disqualified from the ballot as it relates to the 14th Amendment insurrection or rebellion language. Otherwise, the candidate in question would be placed on the Arizona ballot.

It is very likely we will see other states invoking some exception or quirk in their own election law that would either place Trump on their ballot or disqualify him. Therefore, the 2024 election participants would then be forced to traverse another set of controversial circumstances that will clearly affect the outcome of the still unfolding campaign.

Justice Still Leading Manchin; Florida Redistricting News; Reeves Rebounds in New Poll; Capito Leading in GOP West Virginia Primary Poll

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023

Senate

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) trailing in poll.

West Virginia: Poll: Justice Still Leading Manchin — Research America conducted a survey for MetroNews West Virginia that was presented at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce meeting (Aug. 16-26; 402 registered West Virginia voters; oversample of 337 likely Republican primary voters; live interview) just before the Labor Day break commenced.

The results again find Gov. Jim Justice (R) holding a healthy lead over incumbent Joe Manchin (D) in the Senate ballot test. A majority of 51 percent favors Gov. Justice versus just 38 percent who would vote to re-elect Sen. Manchin. If, however, Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) were to defeat the governor in the Republican Senate primary, he would trail Sen. Manchin 45-41 percent in their hypothetical general election pairing.

In the Republican primary, though from a small polling sample (337 respondents), Gov. Justice would hold a substantial 58-26 percent advantage over Congressman Mooney.

The West Virginia Senate race continues to be the top Republican conversion target in the country. Though Sen. Manchin’s approval rating in the state has improved to 51:34 percent favorable to unfavorable according to this survey, a plurality of 40 percent would still like to see him retire as compared to 36 percent who believe he should run for re-election. A total of 24 percent said they feel he should run as a minor party candidate for president.

House

Florida Redistricting: Local Circuit Judge Strikes Down Cong Map — The Sunshine State congressional plan that elected 20 Republicans and only eight Democrats in 2022 has been declared unconstitutional. A Lee County state judge rendered the ruling, tying the map to the recently decided US Supreme Court decision pertaining to the Alabama racial gerrymandering case.

The crux of the disqualification was the elimination of then-Rep. Al Lawson’s (D-Tallahassee) 5th District that stretched all the way from Tallahassee to Jacksonville in order to create a majority minority district. The Republicans, citing the communities of interest argument changed the north Florida configuration into a more compact draw.

The state will likely appeal this ruling. Doing so will mean the final decision on this issue will eventually lie with the Florida Supreme Court justices. Whether a new map will be drawn before the 2024 election is unclear at this point.

Guiding the decision through the state’s appellate system may require a longer period than what remains in the current election cycle, even when considering Florida’s late primary (Aug. 20, 2024) and candidate filing deadline (April 26, 2024).

Governor

Mississippi: Gov. Reeves Rebounds in New Poll — Last week, we reported upon an Impact Research poll conducted for Democrat Brandon Presley’s gubernatorial campaign, which projected that he and Gov. Tate Reeves (R) have fallen into a 46-46 percent tie. Expected was a quick counter poll, and now we have seen such a survey. Siena College, polling for the Mississippi Today news site (Aug. 20-28; 650 likely Mississippi voters; live interview), reported their finding and, contrary to the Impact Research data, suggests that Gov. Reeves holds a 52-41 percent lead over Presley. The Mississippi gubernatorial election is scheduled for Nov. 7.

West Virginia: Poll: Capito Leading GOP Primary — The Research America survey for MetroNews West Virginia that posted Gov. Jim Justice (R) to a 51-38 percent advantage over Sen. Joe Manchin (D), also tested the open Republican gubernatorial primary. Gov. Justice is ineligible to seek a third term in his current position.

The Research America results are very different from a National Research survey conducted back in early March. At that time, the NR data found Attorney General Patrick Morrisey leading the Republican field with 28 percent support. State Delegate Moore Capito (R-Charleston), the son of US Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R), was second with 15 percent.

The new data finds the candidates transposed into an inverted order. Capito has now assumed the lead with 32 percent backing while AG Morrisey has slipped to 23 percent. No other contender even reaches the 10 percent threshold. The West Virginia primary is slated for May 14, 2024.

Rosendale Leads GOP Primary Poll; Former Michigan Rep Files Senate Exploratory Committee; Another Challenger in NY-3; Afghan War Vet to Return to NC-14 Race

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023

Senate

Montana Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Glendive)

Montana: Rep. Rosendale Leads GOP Primary Poll — A J.L. Partners survey released to the Semafor online news site (Aug. 12-17; 418 likely Montana Republican primary voters; live interview) projects two-term Congressman Matt Rosendale (R-Glendive) holding a big 55-19 percent lead over aerospace company CEO and retired Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy (R).

Sheehy is the party-endorsed candidate. He has support from Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Gov. Greg Gianforte (R-MT), and 1st District Congressman and former US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (R-Whitefish).

Both men fare well against Sen. Jon Tester (D). Rep. Rosendale, who lost to Sen. Tester 50-47 percent in 2018, would lead this race 46-42 percent. Sheehy would hold a similar 46-43 percent edge over the senator.

Michigan: Ex-US Rep Files Senate Exploratory Committee — Former Congressman Peter Meijer, who was elected in 2018 but failed to win renomination for a second term in the 2020 Republican primary, has filed a US Senate exploratory committee with the Federal Election Commission. Meijer, however, came far short of saying he would enter the Senate race, only that he remains in a consideration phase.

Former Congressman Mike Rogers (R) is soon expected to enter the Senate race. Michigan Board of Education member Nikki Snyder is the only Republican elected official who has joined the Senate field. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) leads a host of candidates for the Democratic nomination. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) is retiring after serving what will be four terms at the end of this Congress.

House

NY-3: Another Republican to Challenge Rep. Santos — The Security Traders Association CEO, Jim Toes, announced that he will join the growing Republican field who are challenging beleaguered Rep. George Santos (R-Long Island) for renomination. Toes becomes the eighth announced Republican candidate, but possibly the most accomplished. A total of six Democrats have declared their candidacies.

The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates NY-3 as D+4, while Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean at 56.4D – 42.0R. President Joe Biden carried the district 54-45 percent. This is one of several New York US House seats that will be difficult for the Republicans to protect in the 2024 election.

NC-14: 2022 Nominee Likely to Return — Afghan War veteran and 2022 Republican congressional nominee Pat Harrigan (R) is likely to return for another attempt, though the Charlotte anchored 14th District will likely be radically different after the legislature redraws the North Carolina congressional map in the next few weeks.

The redraw will play to the Republicans favor, which likely means that freshman incumbent Rep. Jeff Jackson (D-Charlotte) will run for attorney general. This would be good news for Harrigan, but his more difficult election would be in the Republican primary particularly if state House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland County) draws the seat for himself.

Labor Day Special — Opinion: How
Sen. Ted Cruz “Wins” the Dem Primary

Please click on the image above or go here to read: The Dallas Express.


By Jim Ellis — Monday, Sept. 4, 2023

Senate

As a Labor Day holiday bonus, I thought I’d connect you with an opinion piece I wrote with James Carter on Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s re-election bid, published here: Dallas Express

Enjoy. We’ll be back with our regular posts tomorrow.

Blake Masters to Run Again in Arizona Senate Race; New Candidate in NC-13 Race; Pfaff Passes in WI-3;
A Polling Tie in Mississippi Gov. Race

By Jim Ellis — Sept. 1, 2023

Senate

Blake Masters / Photo by Gage Skidmore

Arizona: 2022 GOP Nominee Preparing ’24 Senate Run — Reports are surfacing from Arizona that 2022 Republican US Senate nominee Blake Masters, a venture capitalist who fell to Sen. Mark Kelly (D) by a 51-47 percent margin, will soon enter the current three-way Senate race. Independent incumbent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I) is expected to seek re-election possibly as the No Labels Party candidate, while Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) is already becoming a likely consensus Democratic contender.

The Grand Canyon State contest will prove unpredictable because all three contenders, Sen. Sinema, Rep. Gallego, and the eventual Republican nominee, will have a pathway to victory.

Should Masters choose to enter the campaign, he will likely have Republican primary opposition. Kari Lake, the former news anchorwoman who received 49.6 percent of the gubernatorial vote in a losing effort against current incumbent Sen. Katie Hobbs (D), is also expected to become a Senate candidate. Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb is already in the race and has been campaigning for the party nomination over a period of months.

The Arizona primary is scheduled for Aug. 6, 2024, meaning this race will have a long development period.

House

NC-13: Republican State Rep Announces for Congress — State Rep. Erin Pare (R-Holly Springs), the only Republican to represent part of Wake County in the legislature, announced yesterday that she will seek the GOP congressional nomination with the goal of challenging 13th District freshman Rep. Wiley Nickel (D-Cary). This will be an interesting race since the NC-13 seat is sure to change, and likely in a dramatic way. The legislature is scheduled soon to redraw the congressional map, and it is expected that the 13th will become much more Republican.

In 2022, Nickel defeated Republican Bo Hines, 52-48 percent, in a district the FiveThirtyEight data organization rated R+3. Dave’s Redistricting App saw a different picture, however. This group calculates the partisan lean at 49.5D – 48.1R. President Joe Biden carried the district with a slight 50.1 – 48.4 percent victory margin even though he lost the statewide count.

After the redraw we can expect this seat to lean decidedly Republican, thus making Rep. Nickel a highly vulnerable Republican target.

WI-3: 2022 Dem Nominee Bypasses Rematch Opportunity — State Sen. Brad Pfaff (D-La Crosse), who did surprising well in the 2022 WI-3 congressional race in losing to freshman Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-Prairie du Chien) 52-48 percent even though Democratic party leaders virtually conceded the open race, has made a decision about seeking a re-match. Since Sen. Pfaff’s four-year term in the legislature expires at the end of next year, he announced that he will seek re-election instead of embarking upon another congressional race.

The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the WI-3 district as R+9, and the Democratic presidential nominee lost here in both 2020 and 2016 by five percentage points, thus leading the national party leadership to spend outside resources in places they believed to be more competitive.

In the upcoming 2024 campaign, however, Democrats are likely to make a stronger run since Pfaff exceeded expectations in 2022, but now it will have to be with a new candidate.

Governor

Mississippi: Dem Poll Shows Tie — An Impact Research poll taken for Democrat Brandon Presley (D) in early August but just released Wednesday (Aug. 6-9; 600 likely Mississippi 2023 general election voters) produced interesting results in the Mississippi governor’s race. The ballot test finds Presley tied with Gov. Tate Reeves (R) at 46 percent, apiece. The pollsters note that Presley’s support has risen in all three of their previously conducted surveys, while Gov. Reeves has consistently dropped.

Similar polling trends were published in the 2019 governor’s race, and many believed that Reeves, then the state’s lieutenant governor, would lose to Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood. In the end, Reeves scored a 52-47 percent win, a much stronger performance for the Republican than most believed would occur. Expect the Reeves campaign to soon counter with their own polling data. This year’s general election is scheduled for Nov. 7.

Trump Way Up in Georgia

Donald Trump continues to defy American political logic as is evidenced in a new Atlanta Journal-Constitution primary poll. (Go to AJC story)

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023

President

Trump: Georgia Numbers Jump — Former President Donald Trump continues to defy American political logic as is evidenced in a new Atlanta Journal-Constitution primary poll of the Georgia Republican electorate.

Once again we see polling evidence of Trump gaining support after being indicted. This particular study first went into the field one day after the former president and his associates were officially accused of breaking Georgia election law.

The University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs regularly conducts the research studies for the AJC. According to their just-released survey (Aug. 16-23; 807 likely and probable Republican primary voters; live interview), Trump captures 57 percent of the Republican primary respondents’ support.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is a distant second at 15 percent and no other contender even reaches the five percent support threshold.

Since pollsters began testing the Georgia 2024 Republican presidential race, this current AJC poll reveals Trump’s strongest standing within the Peach State electorate. At the end of March, for example, WPA Intelligence detected a one-point DeSantis lead over Trump at 37-36 percent.

It is the crosstabs, however, that tell an even more interesting story. While Trump largely lost the 2020 presidential race because too many female suburban voters who supported him in 2016 turned toward Joe Biden four years later, this poll surprisingly projects his standing among female respondents who plan to vote in the Georgia Republican primary at 57.9 percent, an even stronger number than their male counterparts at 54.5 percent.

In fact, of the seven categories and 23 segments within the AJC respondent sample, Trump leads in all categories and fails to claim the top spot in just one segment. The seven categories are gender, race, age, education level, ideology, income, and partisan persuasion. The 23 segments are response cells within those categories.

A small number of Democrats (number undisclosed) responded that they intended to vote in the Republican presidential primary. Not surprisingly, this is the group in which Trump fails to lead.

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is the favorite among the small number of Democrats who plan to cast their ballot in the GOP primary. In this category, Haley scores 26.1 percent support with New Jersey former Gov. Chris Christie posting 21.7 percent support. Conversely, Trump attracts only 4.3 percent among Democratic Republican primary voters.

He does rather surprisingly lead among those who identify as liberals at 30.0 percent and who say they will vote in the Republican primary. Trump holds a 12.5 point edge over Haley within this segment, and a 17.5 point advantage over Christie.

Trump’s strongest segment is found with those making between $25,000 – $49,999 annually. Here, the former president captures a whopping 76.0 percent support factor.

Though leading among the wealthiest in the sampling pool ($150,000+ annual income level), many of whom are Trump’s own peers, he records his weakest showing within a favorable cell. Within this group, the former president scores only a 30 percent support figure, though still better than any of his opponents.

The final question on the AJC poll relates to the indictment charges and just how seriously the respondents view the accusations. Here, again, we see the female respondent cell performing more in Trump’s favor than the men. A total of 46.5 percent of the female respondents believe the charges are very serious or somewhat serious. Among male respondents, that figure is a larger 52.3 percent.

Minorities break in the opposite manner, which is another surprise from this survey. Only 40 percent of minorities believe the charges are very or somewhat serious, while 48.5 percent believe they are not too serious, or not serious at all.

This poll confirms that Trump continues to enjoy strong support within the Republican primary base, which alone may be enough for him to win the presidential nomination. It is undeniably significant that these favorable partisan numbers are coming from Georgia, the state of his most recent indictment and the most important swing state overall in the general election.

Francis Suarez: Drops Presidential Bid — Miami Mayor Francis Suarez (R), who was unable to jump-start a long-shot presidential campaign, culminating with not qualifying for the first presidential debate, announced that he is officially ending his national bid. The move came with little in the way of surprise since, for the most part, he was not even registering in national polls.