Category Archives: Election Analysis

Interesting Details in Arkansas and Kentucky

Presidential and congressional primaries were held in Arkansas and Kentucky last night without major surprises. As predicted, President Obama won two tepid victories in the pair of states, failing to break 60 percent in either place. He opposed an unknown Democratic candidate in Arkansas and was pitted against an uncommitted slate in Kentucky.

John Wolfe Jr., a Chattanooga, Tenn. attorney, scored 42 percent against Obama in the Arkansas Democrat primary. This is the strongest race Wolfe has run. Prior to entering the presidential contest, he twice ran for Congress, and once each for the offices of Tennessee state senator and mayor of Chattanooga. Prior to last night when facing the President of the United States, Wolfe never could top 34 percent in any of his multiple political endeavors.

In Kentucky, Obama also scored an anemic 58 percent of the vote. Here, 42 percent of the Blue Grass State’s Democrats chose an uncommitted slate of delegates to go the party’s national convention in Charlotte.

The results don’t mean much from a national perspective; only that the president will not be re-elected in a 50-state sweep. This is the second and third primaries where an alternative to Obama received substantial votes. West Virginia was the other state where that occurred. It is unlikely that the President will be competitive in any of these places in November, since better than four of six of his own party’s primary voters failed to support him.

In the KY-4 Republican congressional primary race (Rep. Geoff Davis-R, retiring), Lewis County Judge (county executive) and engineer Thomas Massie defeated state Rep. Alecia Webb-Edgington and Boone County Judge Gary Moore. The margin was 45-29-15 percent in what was a poor finish for Moore, who represented more people through his local office than did the other two. It is a boon for the Paul family because both Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) endorsed the hard-charging winner. All three of the candidates were approaching financial parity. The Republican nature of the district means that Massie will be the new congressman. He faces Grant County Democratic Chairman Bill Adkins in the fall and what stands to be a non-competitive election.

The closest race of the evening was in Arkansas’ 1st Congressional District where Second Circuit Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington came within less than one point of winning the Democratic nomination outright. He will face state Rep. and Marvell ex-mayor Clark Hall in a June 12 secondary vote. The winner will oppose freshman Rep. Rick Crawford (R) in a newly configured 1st District that now has an even higher Democratic baseline than under the current lines, though President Obama could only score 39 percent under each version. This could become a competitive general election battle.

In the south-central 4th District, polling correctly suggested another outcome, as Afghan War veteran and businessman Tom Cotton, who raised more than $1 million for the primary campaign, won the Republican nomination outright with an impressive 57-37 percent win over 2010 congressional nominee and former Miss Arkansas Beth Anne Rankin.

Cotton must now wait until June 12 to see if he will face state Sen. Gene Jeffress or attorney Byrum Hurst, the latter of whom, as the underdog, made a very strong run for the top spot. At the end of the evening, Jeffress totaled 40 percent to Hurst’s 36 percent.

While the 1st District race could be headed to toss-up territory, Cotton figures to be the 4th District general election favorite. AR-4 is a Republican conversion seat because Rep. Mike Ross (D), a Blue Dog Coalition co-chairman, is retiring.

Doubling Down in Washington’s 1st CD

When Washington Rep. Jay Inslee (D-1) resigned from Congress last month to fully concentrate on his gubernatorial campaign, the state scheduled the special election to fill the unexpired portion of his term concurrently with the regular November vote. The winner would simply serve the remaining two months of the current Congress.

What makes this situation different from others in similar position is that redistricting changed the 1st District in a substantial way. More than half – 52 percent to be exact – of the voting base is different in the new 1st. So, why would all the regular election candidates now file for the special, too, when they have to run before a much different electorate for the privilege of serving only two months? The answer is money. Because there are two separate elections, even though they are being held the same day, the candidates are effectively doubling the contribution limits that a person may give.

The state Democratic Party chairman tried to convince all of their candidates not to run for the short stint, deferring instead to Snohomish County Council Chairman Brian Sullivan who agreed to serve as a caretaker for the two months. But, Democratic candidate Darcy Burner, seeing that likely Republican nominee John Koster had already entered the special and understanding why, broke from the party dictates and jumped in the race. The other four Democratic candidates quickly followed her lead. This will likely lead to Sullivan abandoning his effort, because he has already endorsed Suzan DelBene, the former Microsoft Vice-President who ran unsuccessfully in District 8 (against Rep. Dave Reichert) two years ago.

Why Nebraska’s 2nd District Matters So Much in 2012

The 2nd District of Nebraska, which is basically the Omaha metropolitan area, might matter more than any congressional district in the country during the 2012 election. Nebraska and Maine are the only two states that split their Electoral Votes – both states award two votes for winning statewide and one each for every congressional district carried – and, for the first time in the modern political era, the division actually occurred in 2008. Four years ago, President Obama scored a bare one-point win in NE-2, which gave him one extra Electoral Vote and allowed him to gain from a state he lost.

After this past Tuesday’s Nebraska primary, this district proved it will again be important because both newly crowned Republican Senatorial nominee Deb Fischer and Rep. Lee Terry (R) will need to run well here, as will presidential nominee Mitt Romney. If Romney fails to win this lone congressional district, it could mean carrying another entire state just to compensate. There is one plausible election scenario that gives Romney all four of the top priority conversion states – North Carolina, Virginia, Florida and Ohio – in addition to taking New Hampshire. Should he lose NE-2 in this mix, as John McCain did – the race could end in a tie. Therefore, the voters of this district could very well be choosing more than a congressman and US senator on Nov. 6; they could ultimately decide the presidency.

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.