Category Archives: Election Analysis

Chafee Out in R.I.; Bentivolio Challenged in MI-11

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who began his political career as a Republican, switched to Independent to run for governor after losing his US Senate seat, and who then became a Democrat after attaining the state office, announced yesterday that he will not seek a second term next year.

Gov. Chafee is among the least-popular state chief executives according to various public opinion polls. The surveys project him languishing in upside-down job approval territory by sometimes greater than a 2:1 negative to positive ratio. His move to join the Democrats appeared to be a desperate attempt to retain his office, and a strategy he hoped would cause potential intra-party contenders to back away once he became an official member. That did not happen, and Chafee clearly has blinked.

For the Democrats – the dominant political party in Rhode Island – state Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Angel Tavares have been expected to enter the race against Chafee and now will assuredly do so under an open seat situation. Republicans Allen Fung, the mayor of Cranston, and 2010 nominee John Robitaille, who lost to Chafee by only three points, are the minority party’s prospective candidates. The Democrat nominee, however, will be the overwhelming favorite to win the general election.

Chafee’s retirement means that eight of the 38 in-cycle gubernatorial elections will be open races, five of which are term limit related.

MI-11

Freshman Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R) is considered by many to be an “accidental” congressman. When first filing to run for office in Michigan back in early 2012, he did not anticipate actually winning the seat. Rather, he was attempting to make a political statement from the Libertarian right.

After the candidate filing deadline passed, ensuing events began to develop. Then-Rep. Thaddeus McCotter’s (R) organization self-destructed, failing to submit enough qualified petition signatures to legally secure the incumbent’s ballot placement. As a result, McCotter was forced into retirement and Bentivolio found himself as the only legally qualified Republican candidate in a nominal Republican district. He repelled a write-in primary opponent backed by established Republican Party  Continue reading >

San Diego Shocker

Councilman Carl DeMaio

Councilman Carl DeMaio

It looked to be a foregone conclusion that former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio (R), who lost a close 52-48 percent election to now-resigned Mayor Bob Filner (D) just last November, would run in the special mayoral election to be held before the end of this year. Not so, according to DeMaio’s announcement yesterday.

Almost immediately after his 2012 loss, DeMaio switched gears into a congressional campaign against freshman Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA-52). Peters unseated Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA-50) by an even closer 51-49 percent count on the same day that DeMaio lost to Filner. With strong fundraising and polling – two surveys actually posted DeMaio ahead of Peters by 10 and 11 points from data collected two months apart – the former municipal candidate was becoming one of the strongest Republican congressional challengers in the nation.

There appear to be several major reasons DeMaio has decided to bypass what looks to be a winnable mayor’s race in order to stay in what, on paper, should be a tougher congressional contest against a well-funded incumbent, and they all relate to mathematics. In fact, multiple numbers point to DeMaio having a better chance to attain victory in the congressional race than running citywide.

First, while the early congressional polls place him ahead of Rep. Peters, as we previously mentioned, the one public survey released for the prospective mayoral campaign showed him trailing; one point behind former state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher who has flipped his voter registration from Republican to Independent to Democrat in less than  Continue reading >

NJ Senate Race: Already Over

Newark Mayor Cory Booker

Newark Mayor Cory Booker

The New Jersey special primary election to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) is scheduled for next Tuesday (Aug. 13), but according to Quinnipiac University’s final poll before the vote, the race is virtually over.

When Lautenberg died in early June and Gov. Chris Christie (R) scheduled the special election to choose a replacement, the early polling showed Newark Mayor Cory Booker with numbers approaching or breaking 50 percent of the Democratic vote with the other candidates, representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ-6), Rush Holt (D-NJ-12), and state House Speaker Sheila Oliver, barely breaking past 10 percent or registering only in single digits.

In the just-released Q-Poll (Aug. 1-5; 2,042 registered New Jersey voters; 388 likely Democratic primary voters) the results have barely changed. According to the data, Booker commands support from 54 percent of the polling sample versus just 17 percent for Rep. Pallone, 15 percent for Rep. Holt, and only 5 percent for Speaker Oliver. With less than a week to go, it’s hard to conceive of any scenario that does not result in a Booker victory.

Forecasting toward the special general to be held Oct. 16, the Democrat vs. Republican results are similar. With former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan enjoying a commanding lead in the special Republican primary, a projected Booker-Lonegan pairing appears to be no contest. According to the Q-Poll, Booker would lead such a campaign 54-29 percent.

Though this primary battle has lacked serious competition, there are still some interesting points to be made. First, as it relates to the Q-Poll, there does appear to be some potential irregularities in the polling sample. With 2,042 people being interviewed, it’s hard to see how only 388 and 267 of them identify themselves as either Democratic or Republican primary voters, respectively. One would expect at least the Democratic number to be much  Continue reading >

Three States, Three Potentially Challenging Races for Incumbents

Sen. Lindsey Graham

Sen. Lindsey Graham

South Carolina

The long-expected Republican primary challenge to Sen. Lindsey Graham is now coming to fruition. A candidate emerged yesterday who has an interesting background. It remains to be seen if she has the political wherewithal to compete with the veteran senator, however.

Nancy Mace is the first female graduate of The Citadel. Born into a military family, her father is a retired Army general. She announced her challenge to the senator late this week, joining Greenville area businessman and former 3rd District congressional candidate Richard Cash in the nomination race. State Sen. Lee Bright, coming from the Ron and Rand Paul wing of the Republican Party, says he will soon follow suit.

Can any of the three beat Lindsey Graham? While it’s clearly a long shot, the senator does have some obvious vulnerabilities. First and foremost, as any casual political observer understands, Graham is to the left of the South Carolina Republican electorate and has taken some unpopular stands in the state, such as his leadership efforts in the area of immigration reform.

Secondly, though a crowded field usually helps an embattled incumbent, South Carolina does have a run-off law, meaning it could become harder to capture a majority in a split vote primary situation. If someone is strong enough to deny the senator an outright primary victory, the scenario would then be drawn to upset him in the secondary election.

Third, while none of his opponents has significant name ID, they are all substantial individuals, and if one or more can prove they possess fundraising ability, outside conservative groups are ready to come to their aid if Graham begins to falter.
 Continue reading >

Sen. Enzi Well Ahead in First Wyoming Poll

Last week, Liz Cheney, the daughter of Dick Cheney — former vice president, US defense secretary, and Wyoming congressman — boldly announced a Republican primary challenge to three-term Sen. Mike Enzi. This weekend, the first public poll of the match-up was released.

Harper Polling (July 17-18; 422 likely Wyoming Republican primary voters), for the Conservative Intelligence Briefing website, finds Sen. Enzi to be in strong shape on the initial ballot test. According to HP, the senator jumps out to a commanding 55-21 percent lead over Cheney.

The survey’s key finding is Enzi’s incredibly strong personal favorability rating among the Equality State Republican respondents. The results yield a 76:6 percent positive to negative ratio for the senator. Cheney’s numbers are relatively strong too, 45:15 percent favorable to unfavorable, but they pale in comparison to the incumbent’s. Interestingly, her father’s rating among his home constituency is almost as high as Sen. Enzi’s; the former vice president scores 74:16 percent.

Additionally, the senator’s job approval is just about as high as his personal rating. According to this survey, 73 percent of those polled have a positive view of his job performance in Washington, versus only 9 percent who hold a negative opinion. In terms of the standard “re-elect” question, 48 percent say that Sen. Enzi deserves re-election as opposed to 28 percent who believe that “we should give someone else a chance.”

The respondent pool is highly conservative. Forty-four percent of the participants describes themselves as “very conservative” and another 40 percent self-identifies as “somewhat conservative.” In contrast, only 1 percent of the group say they are liberal. By a margin of 44-35 percent, those questioned support the “goals and ideals” of the Tea Party.

Harper also asked the 2016 Republican presidential nomination question. They found that the Wyoming respondents answered similarly to early national samples, in that the many potential candidates are bunched closely together. In a bit of an aside, former vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan (R, WI-1) leads with 15 percent. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is second posting 12 percent, and three are tied at 10 percent: Gov. Chris Christie (NJ), former Gov. Jeb Bush (FL), and Sen. Marco Rubio (FL).

In conclusion, the poll illuminates Cheney’s high difficulty factor in her quest for the Senate. She has the ability to raise substantial resources, and it appears every penny will be needed if she is to make any headway against Enzi.