Category Archives: Election Analysis

Hahn Attacking in California

The next special congressional election is two weeks away in California and Democratic nominee Janice Hahn appears nervous. The general election phase of this contest should be an easy run for any Dem, and was viewed as such ever since Republican Craig Huey slipped through the jungle primary election instead of the favored Debra Bowen (D), California’s Secretary of State. CA-36 is solidly Democratic. The worst number posted by the party’s presidential candidate since 1996 is 57 percent, and the region routinely elects liberals to virtually every political position. But Hahn isn’t acting like a runaway winner. She just aired a new ad attacking Huey as an “extremist politician” followed up with a more positive commercial about her own career. The latter ad surprisingly does not mention she’s a Democrat, instead choosing to emphasize that she has “never held partisan office.”

Several weeks ago Ms. Hahn, a Los Angeles City councilwoman who has previously lost a race for Congress (1998) and another for lieutenant governor (2010), surveyed the district but refuse to publicize the results even while tepidly claiming that she led Huey “beyond the margin of error.” These actions suggest that the CA-36 special election is much closer than anyone would have originally believed. Hahn will still likely win this race, but it’s probable she will under-perform the Democratic average.

Even if the councilwoman does prevail on July 12, the road to re-election may be quite difficult. The new Palos Verdes East seat, as the 36th has been named in the new redistricting plan, covers many of the same communities – Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Torrance – but the new seat possesses a much more Republican complexion. While Barack Obama carried the new Palos Verdes East seat with 53.6 percent of the vote, under the old 36th district boundaries, the president’s number topped 64 percent. In the very close race for attorney general in 2010, an election the Democratic nominee carried by less than one percentage point statewide, the Republican nominee actually scored a 45-41 percent plurality within the Palos Verdes East boundaries.

While Ms. Hahn now surprisingly finds herself in a competitive race, it is likely she will face a difficult re-election challenge even if July 12 brings her success. The Palos Verdes East seat looks like another of the more competitive districts that the new California Citizens Redistricting Commission constructed.
___________________________________________________
For further detailed insights, to sign up for my daily email updates, or to sign up to track specific issues or industries, please contact me at PRIsm@performanceandresults.com

Liberal Groups Test Bass Attack in New Hampshire

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America teamed up to produce a negative issue ad against Rep. Charlie Bass (R-NH-2), ostensibly because he voted in favor of the Ryan Budget. Since the groups are only spending $25,000 on the television buy, the effort is being done to test messages and theme. This particular ad says Bass “voted to end Medicare”, which presumably refers to the Ryan plan but such is not identified in the script’s text.

Expect the Medicare issue to be a focal point of the 2012 campaign. Democrats and left-wing groups are clearly stepping up this line of attack in light of Rep. Kathy Hochul’s victory in the NY-26 special election. Debate continues about whether Hochul’s offensive play on Medicare was the defining point of her campaign – the fact that Republican turnout was low suggests that candidate Jane Corwin’s many mistakes and the presence of Independent Jack Davis masquerading as a Tea Party candidate might have been the bigger factors – but the Democrats won with this strategy, so they feel the approach warrants further usage.

Why, then, the test on Bass since these groups aren’t yet dishing out attacks against any other member? Of all the 2010 Republican victories, Rep. Bass regaining the seat he lost after six terms in 2006 was one of the most tenuous. Winning by just one point (48-47 percent), a margin of 3,550 votes over lobbyist Ann McLane Kuster (D), Mr. Bass could be the top 2012 Democratic conversion target. His inclusion on the National Republican Congressional Committee Patriot Program list, announced last week, is a further indication that both parties see him as a highly vulnerable incumbent.

The 2nd district covers New Hampshire’s western region and encompasses the state’s second largest city of Nashua along with Concord, the state capital. The district voted Democratic during the last decade. President Obama scored 56 percent here in 2008. Former President George W. Bush lost the seat in both of his elections. He trailed 47-52 percent in 2004 and 47-48 percent in 2000. In contrast, the state’s other CD, NH-1, gave Obama only a 53-47% win in 2008 while Bush carried the district both times.

As mentioned above, Bass first won his seat in 1994, but was defeated by ex-Rep. Paul Hodes (D) in 2006. Hodes won an easy 56-41 percent re-election in 2008. He then left the House for an unsuccessful 2010 Senate run, losing to freshman Kelly Ayotte (R) by a substantial 37-60 percent count.

As one can see, the district voting patterns became more Democratic as the decade progressed with the exception of 2010 when the whole state decidedly snapped back to the GOP. Will NH-2 continue to cast future votes more like liberal Vermont, which it borders, than generally conservative New Hampshire? The next election will provide the answer.

Rep. Bass, never known as a strong campaigner, has his work cut out for him. What might have been a major factor in his favor, redistricting, did not materialize. The state’s two congressional districts are only 254 people out of balance, so the 2011 New Hampshire map will be virtually identical to the present boundaries. An influx of new Republicans are likely needed for Bass and the GOP to hold this seat, but it’s clear such won’t happen.

For her part, 2010 nominee Kuster, who raised $2.5 million to Bass’ $1.2 million, is already running again. She should be a stronger candidate in 2012 because the Granite State presidential turnout model will likely be more Democratic than it was during the last election and she won’t have to fend off a tough September intra-party opponent as was the case in 2010.

Totaling all of the relevant factors suggest that Charlie Bass’ 2nd district may be the Democrats’ best national opportunity to defeat a House Republican incumbent. Though there is undeniably a long way to go before Election Day 2012, expect this race never to leave the toss-up category.
___________________________________________________
For further detailed insights, to sign up for my daily email updates, or to sign up to track specific issues or industries, please contact me at PRIsm@performanceandresults.com.

Emanuel Tossed Off Ballot

Rahm Emanuel


An Illinois state Appellate Court, in a surprising 2-1 vote yesterday, removed former White House Chief of Staff and Congressman Rahm Emanuel (D) from the Chicago mayoral ballot. Recent polling (WGN/Chicago Tribune; Jan. 16-19; 708 self-described likely voters) gave President Obama’s top staff member a comfortable 44-21% lead over ex-US Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, so the court action is causing major reverberations for all associated campaigns. The joint media survey placed Board of Education President Gery Chico third at 16% while City Clerk Miguel de Valle lags behind in single-digits (7%).

Earlier, US Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL-7) and state Sen. James Meeks dropped out of the race in an effort to coalesce the African-American community solely behind Moseley Braun, with the hope of forcing a two-person run-off between Emanuel and her. If no candidate receives 50% plus one vote in the February 22nd election, a run-off contest between the top two finishers is scheduled for April.

The court reasoned that Emanuel, despite winning unanimously in a related administrative ruling before the state Board of Elections, does not meet Chicago’s electoral residency requirement. The judicial panel maintained that he did not reside in the city during the past year. The former chief of staff will appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, which must rule quickly. Early voting already begins January 31st.

The Supreme Court, an elected body that features four Democrats and three Republicans, has the power to reinstate Emanuel and is expected to do so. But, how much will this distraction take away from his potential to win the race outright in February? The answer will soon be forthcoming.

The 2010 Elections are Finally Final

The last two undecided campaigns are now officially over. Republicans Tom Emmer in the Minnesota Governor’s race and Randy Altschuler in the NY-1 congressional contest have ended their post-election ballot counting efforts and conceded to their Democratic opponents. Former Sen. Mark Dayton will now become the 40th governor of Minnesota and Rep. Tim Bishop has successfully won a fifth term in the House. Emmer trailed the statewide Minnesota race by 8,770 votes when the recount began. Once the challenge counting pushed Dayton’s advantage to over 9,000 votes, Emmer saw that the trend would not be reversed. In NY-1, it appears Bishop’s margin of victory will be in the area of 263 votes, making it the closest election in the country.

Nationally, the final electoral results are now complete. In gubernatorial races, Republicans won 23 contests in the November election compared to 13 for the Democrats. Independent Lincoln Chafee won the Rhode Island Governor’s campaign. Overall, Republicans control 29 Governors’ mansions and the Democrats are in 20, with the one Independent. In the House, the GOP officially gains 63 seats, meaning the new body will feature 242 Republicans and 193 Democrats. Republicans won 24 Senate races versus the Democrats’ 13, meaning a net gain of six seats for the minority party and a new 53D-47R split.

The Democracy Corps: Why the Dems Lost

Democratic strategist James Carville and pollster Stan Greenberg often come together to conduct electoral studies for the purpose of public education under an organization of their founding called The Democracy Corps. Their new 2010 post-election analysis was just released, which provides some interesting findings and may help explain the election’s “upside-down” effect.

The study was developed from a sampling universe of 2,587 voters from across the country. The live interviews were conducted by telephone, 333 of which were via cell phone. The data was accumulated through three different surveys during the November 1-3 period. The results of the first post-election study (Democracy Corps-Resurgent Republic) came from a subset of 1,000 voters, 111 of whom were using cell phones. The second (Democracy Corps-Campaign for America’s Future) used a different 1,000 voters from within the larger universe, 115 on cell phones, and the third (Democracy Corps-Women’s Voices, Women’s Votes) chose 804 voters, 107 of whom were using cell phones.

While turnout was down for Democratic voter groups across the board, the drop in support among certain subsets was very telling. While the traditional minority group Democratic vote within the African-American and Hispanic communities remained virtually constant when compared to 2006 and 2008, several other voting segments where Democrats did particularly well in the two previous elections did not come through for them in 2010. Among unmarried women, Democratic support was off 12 points, the largest negative number of any group tested. The Dems dropped nine points from their 2008 mark in the industrial Midwest, and eight points among non-southern white rural voters. Their strong ’06 and ’08 showing among suburban voters also receded eight points in 2010.

But, as was detected throughout the 2010 election cycle, the biggest switch away from Democrats and toward Republicans came within the Independent voter sector. When matched against the 2006 and 2008 electoral results, we can now see just how intense the swing became, and it appears the Independent pendulum made a rather unexpected complete and total swing during the four-year period just elapsed.

According to the various Democracy Corps data, Democrats enjoyed an 18-point advantage over Republicans in the 2006 election among Independent voters. This dropped to an eight-point edge in 2008. For the election just past, the Republican surge within this voting group was so large that it also reached the +18-point plateau, signaling that the Independent segment rather astonishingly made a complete full circle in just a four-year period. This confirms that the Independent voting behavior is the number one reason for the difference in the 2010 results as compared to the previous two elections.

The ideological make-up of the three voting universes (2006, 2008, 2010) also reveal a pattern. In 2006, according to previous Democracy Data information, those comprising the voter turnout model described themselves as 47% moderate, 32% conservative, and 20% liberal. In 2008, the segmentation was similar: 44% moderate, 34% conservative, 22% liberal. This year, it was the conservatives who surged to the top, with 42% of the sampled turnout self-identifying with this ideological group, as compared to 38% who claimed to be moderate and 20% liberal.

The ideological breakdown within the 2010 turnout model as compared to the previous two years is also not particularly surprising based upon the electoral results, but may help explain why the GOP landslide actually got stronger as voters moved down the ballot. With a larger and more intensely energized conservative voter block, it is more likely that they continued voting for the less publicized offices in greater numbers than the moderates and liberals. Thus, as predicted before the election, the conservative energy did prove to be the defining factor, but particularly so when analyzing the election’s “upside-down” effect. We are using this phrase to describe the landslide of 2010 and how it actually gained Republican strength down the ballot as opposed to losing it, which is more typical.

Expect more such data to be released by other sources in the coming weeks that will help fully explain why the American people voted as they did on November 2, 2010.