Category Archives: Election Analysis

Franken Tops 50 Percent – With an Asterisk

In a great many election years, a surprising Senate candidate often comes from nowhere at the beginning of the cycle to score an upset win. The 2010 Republican landslide, for example, produced Wisconsin businessman Ron Johnson (R), a virtual unknown at the campaign’s outset, who would eventually unseat then-Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI). Former North Dakota Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D), viewed as a heavy underdog to then-at-large Rep. Rick Berg (R) when their two-way contest began, overcame an early polling deficit to claim her Senate seat in the presidential election year of 2012.

In looking at the 2014 field of candidates, many people were speculating that the under-the-radar candidate best possibly positioned to score an upset is Minnesota businessman Mike McFadden (R) who is challenging first-term Sen. Al Franken (D). Though Franken has not yet appeared in a politically endangered position, we must remember that his 2008 campaign was so close that it took nine months to finally determine that the former actor-comedian scored a 312-vote victory (from more than 2.88 million ballots cast) over then-Sen. Norm Coleman (R). Additionally, the  Continue reading >

Hagan Struggles in North Carolina

The conservative Civitas Institute tested the North Carolina electorate (National Research, June 18-19 & 22; 600 registered North Carolina voters – live calls, 25 percent cell phone users) and found that Sen. Kay Hagan (D) is leading her Republican opponent, state House Speaker Thom Tillis, but her advantage is tentative.

The 42-36 percent result again posts Hagan in the low 40s, very bad territory for any incumbent. The fact that she has a six-point edge over Tillis is obviously an improvement from her prior poll standing, but this probably has more to do with an unpopular state legislature than Tillis, personally. It appears the House Speaker’s numbers always tumble when this legislature is in session, as it is now. The fact that he is one of the body’s key leaders, however, is a major negative, so Tillis’ ballot test deficit certainly cannot be discounted.

Sen. Hagan is generally considered to be the most vulnerable of all Democratic incumbents standing for re-election. She represents one of only two states that changed its 2008 vote away from Barack Obama, and doesn’t have the president on the ballot with her as she did six years ago to maximize the important minority voter  Continue reading >

Cochran Victory Reverses History

Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R) amazing comeback victory in Tuesday’s run-off election in Mississippi changed political voting history in three ways.

First, the Cochran campaign and their allies increased the number of voters who participated in the nomination process, something not thought practically possible. In the June 3 primary, 313,483 people voted in the Republican senatorial primary. On Tuesday, 376,323 ballots were cast, meaning a minimum of 62,840 individuals who did not vote in the primary participated in the  Continue reading >

Further Examination of Cantor’s Loss; Two Wildly Divergent Oregon Senate Polls

More is being learned about House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R) primary election loss in Virginia’s 7th CD. As is true for almost all political outcomes, there is more than one answer to explain this result and, not surprisingly, multiple elements contributed to the final conclusion.

While the immigration issue seems to be taking top billing as the principal reason for Cantor losing, in reality, it likely only played a secondary role. The fact that challenger and victor David Brat used the issue to his advantage – characterizing Cantor as supporting amnesty for illegal aliens – certainly helped color the Majority Leader in a negative light, but such a radical final electoral result cannot simply be explained as an extreme reaction to a controversial issue.

Contrast this outcome with that of Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R) campaign in South Carolina. Graham was more identified with the immigration reform issue, and hails from a more conservative domain than Cantor’s central Virginia congressional district. Yet, the senator won a surprisingly large re-nomination victory on the same  Continue reading >

Leadership Election Run-down

With House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA-7) resigning his position after losing the primary election on Tuesday – he’ll leave the leadership on July 31st – Republican Conference replacement elections have been quickly scheduled for June 19. This leaves little time for a campaign to develop, but within a closed voting universe where everyone knows all participants an elongated campaign time segment is unnecessary.

Currently, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-23) has announced his intention to run for Cantor’s position with the outgoing Leader’s backing. Meanwhile, House Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-5) stated that she will remain in her current post. The same is true for House Budget Committee chairman and former vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan (R-WI-1).

The Texas delegation is deciding who, if anyone, to back from their delegation against McCarthy – either Rules Committee and former National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX-32) or Financial Services  Continue reading >