Category Archives: Election Analysis

Post-Election Points

Tuesday’s primaries have come and gone, but three key points need to be added:

• First, there’s the North Carolina run-off schedule. Because US House races are involved, the MOVE Act (Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act) is invoked, which places time restraints upon official election notice; the election date now becomes July 17 instead of June 26. This affects Republican secondary elections in Districts 8 (Richard Hudson vs. Scott Keadle), 9 (Robert Pittenger vs. Jim Pendergraph) and 11 (Mark Meadows vs. Vance Patterson). All 13 NC congressional districts nominated Democratic candidates on Tuesday, so they have no run-off contests.

• Second, Charles Malone, the Democratic nominee in the new North Carolina District 13, may withdraw from the race due to health reasons. Mr. Malone is indicating that, should the party have a more able candidate, he would consider stepping aside. The Democrat is a decided underdog to former US Attorney George Holding (R) in what will likely be a Republican conversion seat. Holding won the Republican nomination outright on May 8. Rep. Brad Miller (D) decided to not seek re-election rather than run here.

• Third, a possible indication of what may happen in the June 5 Wisconsin governor’s recall election occurred Tuesday night. Despite Gov. Scott Walker being on the primary ballot against one minor opponent (Walker received 97 percent of the vote) and his renomination being a foregone conclusion, he received almost as many votes as all of the Democratic candidates combined. Walker totaled 626,538 votes compared to 670,278 cumulatively among all five Democrats. This is a clear sign that the governor has a strong base, which is critically important in a low-turnout recall election format.

Primary Preview: North Carolina

The House races dominate tomorrow’s North Carolina primary election from a national perspective, but the Democratic gubernatorial vote is one of the main turnout drivers for the state’s voters.

  • Governor: Incumbent Bev Perdue (D) is retiring after one term, upon deciding that her lagging approval numbers relegated her to an underdog re-election position. This sets up a Democratic primary largely between Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton and former Rep. Bob Etheridge. The main question is whether one of these two men will secure the 40 percent-plus one vote necessary to avoid a June 26 run-off. Regardless of the outcome tomorrow or next month, the eventual Democrat nominee will begin the general election as a decided underdog to ex-Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory, who will cruise to outright victory in the Republican primary.
  • NC-1: The new 1st CD, an African-American majority district, is again safe for five-term Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D).
  • NC-2: Rep. Renee Ellmers (R) was a surprise winner in 2010 against then-Rep. Etheridge, and now stands for re-election in a much more favorable Republican district. This seat soars from a 47 percent McCain score to one that voted 56 percent Republican in 2008. The new 2nd should be safe for Ellmers despite her gaining 70 percent new territory.
  • NC-3: The new 3rd, now encompassing much more of the North Carolina coast than the current NC-3 and about a quarter new in configuration, is another safe Republican district. Rep. Walter Jones Jr. (R), who strays further from the House Republican leadership than any other GOP congressman, could be vulnerable to a primary challenge … but not this year.
  • NC-4: Originally, this seat was drawn as a Democratic pairing between Rep. David Price (D) and Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC-13). After saying he would run against Price, it became obvious that Miller felt he was in an inferior political position in the new 4th and he decided to withdraw. The lack of primary opposition means Price will easily win re-election.
  • NC-5: Although she picks up almost 30 percent new territory, the new Winston-Salem anchored 5th District is again secure for Rep. Virginia Foxx (R).
  • NC-6: Eighty-one year-old Rep. Howard Coble (R), originally elected in 1984, is again headed for re-election. The seat performed at a 56 percent McCain rate, but is 57 percent new territory for Coble. Two locally well-known candidates are challenging Coble in the GOP primary, but they have raised little money and have negative personal opinion polling scores. Coble should have little trouble securing renomination and will be the prohibitive favorite in the general election.
  • NC-7: Redistricting was not kind to moderate Rep. Mike McIntyre (D), another vulnerable member of the Blue Dog Coalition. Thirty-six percent of the Wilmington-based 7th District is new to McIntyre, and the Republican complexion grows from 52 percent McCain to 58 percent McCain. Tomorrow, McIntyre will know if he will face 2010 GOP nominee Ilario Pantano or state Sen. David Rowser. One of the two will likely win the primary outright tomorrow night and quickly enter into a toss-up race with the eight-term congressman.
  • NC-8: Two-term Rep. Larry Kissell (D) is one of the biggest redistricting victims and will likely go into the general election as the underdog. The district flips from 53 percent Obama to 57 percent McCain and loses most its African-American voters and their exceedingly loyal Democratic voting patterns. The Republican primary, among five candidates, is likely to advance to a run-off probably between former congressional aide Richard Hudson and ex-Iredell County commissioner Scott Keadle.
  • NC-9: Rep. Sue Myrick (R) retirement sets up an 11-way Republican primary for the new NC-9, which will be a safe Republican seat. Count on a run-off here with the winner becoming the new congressman.
  • NC-10: Rep. Patrick McHenry (R) takes on almost half a district in new territory, and because of this the GOP will likely win the 11th District.
  • NC-11: The western NC seat is another redistricting casualty, as Rep. Heath Shuler’s (D) seat now becomes the most Republican Tar Heel State district. This is the reason the three-term, 40-year-old congressman has opted for retirement. Eight Republican candidates are in this race, and another run-off is likely here. Democrats are not going down without a fight, though, quite possibly in the person of Shuler chief-of-staff Hayden Rogers.
  • NC-12: The 12th is possibly the most famous of Voting Rights Act seats after enduring legal challenges in every decade since it was created. Rep. Mel Watt (D) will continue to win here as long as he stays in the game.
  • NC-13: Everything changes about the 13th District – from its location to voting preferences. Previously a safe Democratic seat under Rep. Brad Miller (D), the new 13th will send a Republican to Washington likely for the entire ensuing decade. The GOP race is between former US Attorney George Holding, and Wake County Commissioner and ex-Raleigh mayor Paul Coble. There is a good chance one of these two wins outright tomorrow night, which is likely his ticket to Washington, DC. The general election appears non-competitive.

Our Indiana Primary Preview

Tuesday features two congressional primary elections: Indiana and North Carolina. Today, we preview the Indiana races; on Monday, North Carolina.

Governor: Incumbent Mitch Daniels (R) is term-limited, so an open-seat contest will occur in the fall. Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN-6) and former state House Speaker John Gregg (D) will be the general election combatants, with Pence beginning the race as a heavy favorite.

Senate: We all know that six-term Sen. Richard Lugar (R), who ran unopposed just six years ago, is in the fight for his political life against fellow Republican state Treasurer Richard Mourdock. The race has been hard-fought, with each man and their outside group supporters running a spate of negative ads. The focal points have been Lugar straying too far from his conservative base, the fact that he does not have a residence in Indiana, and that he has lost touch with his Hoosier State roots. Lugar counters with criticism of the way Mourdock has managed both the taxpayers’ public funds and his office.

The key to determining a victor in this contest, as is most often the case, is turnout. Indiana has an open primary law, meaning any registered voter, regardless of previous primary voting history, may participate in the party primary of his or her choice. Therefore, with little in the way of contested campaigns in the Democratic primary, it is likely the preponderance of voters will choose to cast their ballot on the Republican side. This could affect the Senate race in two ways: first, Democrats and Independents supportive of Lugar can vote for him and potentially provide enough of a margin to overcome Mourdock’s strong support among conservatives; second, activist Democrats, believing that Mourdock would be the weaker candidate in the general election against consensus Dem candidate Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-IN-2), could vote for the challenger and potentially weaken the non-Republican support that Lugar might attract.

Tuesday will host a close race with several uncontrollable factors positioned to decide the final outcome. It’s too close to call.

  • IN-1: Rep. Peter Visclosky (D) is unopposed in the Democratic primary.
  • IN-2: This is an open seat, with Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) running for Senate. The open seat battle will be hot and heavy in November, but Tuesday’s vote looks secure for Republican former state Rep. Jackie Walorski and Democratic businessman Brendan Mullen.
  • IN-3: Freshman Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R) is unopposed in Tuesday’s Republican primary and will find out which of six Democrats will win the right to oppose him in November. This should be a relatively easy re-election run for Stutzman.
  • IN-4: Freshman Rep. Todd Rokita (R), Indiana’s former Secretary of State, gains 35 percent new territory but the Obama number is only 45 percent. He is safe in November.
  • IN-5: Rep. Dan Burton (R) is retiring, making this an open seat. With 30-year veteran Rep. Burton not seeking a 16th term, eight Republicans, including former congressman and 2000 gubernatorial nominee David McIntosh (R-IN-2), vie for the new 5th District. McIntosh is the clear favorite to win the nomination. Democratic state Rep. Scott Reske is favored for his party’s nomination.
  • IN-6: Rep. Mike Pence (R) is running for governor, making this an open seat. Seven Republicans and five Democrats are running for the right to succeed Pence, with Tuesday’s GOP nominee becoming the prohibitive favorite in a district that gave 55 percent of its votes to John McCain in 2008. Former state representative and Republican Party executive director Luke Messer is the leading candidate for the nomination.
  • IN-7: Three Democrats, seven Republicans, and two Independents are opposing Rep. Andre Carson (D), but that’s rather irrelevant. The congressman will win again in November.
  • IN-8: First-term southwestern district congressman, Rep. Larry Bucshon (R), faces a Republican primary opponent, Kristi Risk, who held Bucshon to only a 33-29 percent victory margin two years ago. But Bucshon is the favorite in a district that contains 88 percent of his previous constituency. Democrats will nominate former state representative and broadcaster Dave Crooks.
  • IN-9: Five Democrats, none of whom had even raised $100,000 prior to the two-week financial reporting deadline, are fighting for the right to take on yet another Indiana freshman congressman, southeastern district Rep. Todd Young (R). This shouldn’t be much of a contest in the fall, as Rep. Young is cruising toward a second term.

New Polling Shows Presidential Dead Heat

Four brand new polls suggest that Mitt Romney is pulling even with or moving ahead of President Obama in the national popular vote ballot test. According to the latest Gallup tracking study (April 12-16), Romney actually leads Obama 48-43 percent. The New York Times/CBS joint survey (April 13-17) projects both candidates to be deadlocked in a 46-46 percent tie. The Pew Research Center (April 4-15) gives Obama a 49-45 percent edge, and the Rasmussen Reports daily national track (April 17) posts the Republican challenger to a slight one point, 46-45 percent advantage over the incumbent Democrat.

The polls are diverse and were all conducted pretty much over the same time period, and therefore each showed basically the same conclusion. That is significant. The polls taken closer to today (all but the Pew Research study) show Romney in a stronger position, revealing what appears to be a significant recent swing in his direction. The Pew poll is taken over a longer period of time (12 days), which tends to lessen accuracy response. Surveys conducted within a much tighter time frame have greater reliability. Normally, three days is the optimum polling time.

It will not be surprising to see the two candidates jockey for the polling lead until the campaign issues and attack points become better defined. It is always important to remember that the national polls also mean little in determining the outcome of the American presidential contest. The state polls, particularly in battleground regions like North Carolina, Florida, Virginia and Ohio, are the better reflective factors.

Romney, Obama Both Must Contend With Weak Support

Just two days after Rick Santorum exited the presidential race, which unofficially began the Obama-Romney general election campaign, new data is showing that both candidates have work to do to improve their standing within the electorate.

According to the Gallup research organization, Mitt Romney has the second lowest level of party support after unofficially clinching a nomination since the polling firm began regular testing of the presidential candidates all the way back in 1972. Gallup’s latest poll (April 4-9; 1,149 self-identified Republican and Republican-leaning Independent voters) gives Romney only a 42-24-10-10 percent preference over Santorum, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14), respectively. Again, even after seeing major publicity surrounding the Santorum exit, Romney fails by a large margin to reach the 50 percent threshold among Republican voters.

The lowest candidate score since Gallup began charting this type of research occurred in 1972 when then-Sen. George McGovern (D-SD), upon practically clinching the Democratic nomination of that year, only polled three points ahead of former Vice-President Hubert H. Humphrey, 30-27 percent. As we all remember, McGovern would go on to absorb a crushing 49-state loss to then-President Richard M. Nixon.

Even other candidates who were soundly defeated, such as John McCain in 2008 for example, recorded strong intra-party preference numbers when it became clear their nomination was secure. In the first poll after McCain unofficially claimed the Republican nomination, he posted a 63-20 percent margin over former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the second-place finisher.

Former Vice-President Walter Mondale (D) who, like McGovern, would lose 49 states in his subsequent general election, scored a 54-39 percent Gallup mark over former Sen. Gary Hart (D-CO) when it became clear in June of 1984 that he would win the Democratic nomination. And, then-Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS) who lost to President Bill Clinton in a similar statistical manner as McCain lost to Barack Obama, also registered strong intra-party numbers when it became obvious that he would be the GOP standard bearer. Dole was the choice of 58% in the final 1996 Republican presidential poll as compared to 15% apiece for businessman Steve Forbes and national political commentator Pat Buchanan.

But Romney is not the only one with problems. The Gallup data is still recording problematic numbers for President Obama, too. According to their latest monthly presidential job approval poll (March 1-31; a rolling sample of 16,037 adults) Obama stands only with a 46:46 percent favorable to unfavorable job approval ratio.

While he shows favorability improvement over the past several Gallup monthly studies, Obama still is not yet in good stead. Even his standing among minority voters is showing diminishing strength. While African-Americans still rate him extremely high, 43 percent above the national average, his support among Hispanics is declining. This group only rates him nine percent above the national average, down from their high of 22 percent above recorded in January of 2010. Whites have consistently rated him from seven to nine percentage points below the national average during that same time period.

Additionally, even the lowest income level group, those with less than $24,000 in annual household income, rate him now just five percent above the national average. Their high number was +11 percent, also in January of 2010. All other income groups, divided into three levels with the highest being over $90,000 annually, rate the President one percentage point below the national average of 46 percent positive.

In conclusion, it appears that President Obama and Mitt Romney must each contend with his own weakness issue. Therefore, in order to compensate for a lack of enthusiasm among his own support base, expect highly contrasting negative campaign strategies to emanate from both camps as the general election begins to formulate.