Category Archives: Election Analysis

House Incumbent Primaries, Part I: Republicans

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 18, 2022 — As the states complete their individual redistricting processes and candidate filing deadlines appear on the political horizon, some incumbents find themselves facing serious primary challenges. Today, we look at Republican nomination situations in states where redistricting is complete, and Monday next week, we’ll look at the Democrats.


CA-5: Rep. Tom McClintock

Primary: June 7 (Jungle)

• McClintock Cash-on-Hand (Dec. 31, 2021): $372,569
FiveThirtyEight Statistical Rating: R+17
Dave’s Redistricting App Historical Voting: 56.6% R

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission made significant changes to the Golden State congressional map. As a result, veteran northern California Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) had his choice of two districts, one less Republican that contained more of his home area, and the other more strongly favoring the GOP but stretched from the Sacramento suburbs all the way to the Fresno area. McClintock chose the latter.

The congressman’s most serious opponent is Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig (R). California imposes a jungle primary system meaning that the top two finishers in the June qualifying election advance to the general election. Considering the Republican trends in this district, it is wholly possible that both Rep. McClintock and Supervisor Magsig will advance into the general election, especially with three Democratic candidates dividing the liberal base.


IL-15: GOP Pairing

Primary: June 28

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville)
Rep. Mary Miller (R-Oakland)
• Davis Cash-on-Hand (Dec. 31, 2021): $1,234,171
• Miller Cash-on-Hand (Dec. 31, 2021): $414,795
FiveThirtyEight Statistical Rating: R+42
Dave’s Redistricting App Historical Voting: 64.6% R

The Illinois Democratic gerrymander created a new uber-safe Republican 15th District that attracted both Reps. Rodney Davis and Mary Miller. Therefore, the new member here will be chosen in the June 28 Republican primary.

The race is shaping up as a clear GOP establishment versus movement conservative contest. Virtually all of the state and national Republican leaders, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, have endorsed Davis. All of the movement right-of-center groups such as the Club for Growth and Freedom Works, along with former President Donald Trump, have endorsed Rep. Miller.

Davis also has a major fundraising advantage. Miller, on the other hand, sees 31 percent of her constituents carrying over to the new 15th, versus 28 percent for Davis. Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Peoria) has the largest contingent of current constituents in the new IL-15 (36 percent) but he is running for re-election in the new 16th CD.


MI-4: GOP Pairing

Primary: Aug. 2

Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland)
Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph)
• Huizenga Cash-on-Hand (Dec. 31, 2021): $1,141,056
• Upton Cash-on-Hand (Dec. 31, 2021): $1,467,055
FiveThirtyEight Statistical Rating: R+9
Dave’s Redistricting App Historical Voting: 51.6% R

With Michigan losing a seat in reapportionment, two of the state’s western members were destined to be paired. The new 4th District features a potential contest between Reps. Huizenga and Upton, though the latter man has not yet decided whether to seek re-election. A third candidate, state Rep. Steve Carra (R-Kalamazoo), who carries former President Trump’s endorsement, is also in the race.

Carra is not likely to be a major factor because he represents very little of the new 4th Congressional District constituency in the state legislature. This race will come down to Rep. Upton’s decision whether to seek a 19th term in the House or retire. If he runs, this will be a major summer primary contest. Should he retire, Rep. Huizenga becomes the prohibitive favorite in the primary, with the inside track for the general election, though the new 4th is more competitive than his current 2nd CD.


MS-4: Rep. Steven Palazzo

Primary: June 7 | Runoff: June 28

• Palazzo Cash-on-Hand (Dec. 31, 2021): $ 385,211
FiveThirtyEight Statistical Rating: R+42
Dave’s Redistricting App Historical Voting: 66.5% R

A congressional ethics investigation into Rep. Steven Palazzo’s (R-Biloxi) use of campaign funds is an obvious negative as he strives to win re-nomination for a seventh term.

The investigation prompted state Sen. Brice Wiggins (R-Ocean Springs) and Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell to launch a primary challenge against the congressman, in addition to four others. Local business owner Carl Boyanton has thrown $550,000 of his own money into his campaign, making him a factor, too. This field could grow or retract as the March 1 candidate filing deadline looms on the political horizon.

It remains to be seen whether the investigation hinders Rep. Palazzo to the point of forcing him into a runoff — he has survived other tough primary challenges with larger than expected percentages — but the possibility of going to a secondary vote is certainly real. Should Palazzo be forced into a runoff, his re-nomination could be in serious jeopardy.
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New York Rep. Kathleen Rice
Won’t Seek Re-Election

By Jim Ellis

New York Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City)

Feb. 17, 2022 — Four-term New York Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) announced Tuesday, on her 57th birthday, that she will retire from Congress. Saying, “I have always believed that holding political office is neither a destiny nor a right. As elected officials, we must give all we have and then know when it is time to allow others to serve,” the congresswoman stated in her retirement release.

Prior to her election to the US House in 2014, Rice served as Nassau County District Attorney for 10 years after being a member of the prosecutorial staff. Rep. Rice is the 30th Democrat to not seek re-election to the House. The total number of open seats now rises to 51, when counting the open Democratic and Republican districts, and the seats created through reapportionment and redistricting from the various states.

The Rice retirement creates a fourth open seat in the NY delegation, and she is the fifth Empire State member to leave the House at the end of the current term. Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) announced his retirement early in the session, but his 23rd District is not technically an open seat because Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford) has chosen to run there since her 22nd District was combined with retiring Rep. John Katko’s (R-Syracuse) CD to make a new Democratic seat.

Three of the state’s four open seats appear on Long Island. In addition to Rice’s 4th District, the 1st and 3rd are also open because Reps. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) and Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) are both running for governor. This means that freshman Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-Sayville) will be the most senior Long Island member in the next Congress.

While redistricting changed Rep. Zeldin’s 1st District into a more Democratic-friendly seat, Rep. Garbarino’s south shore Long Island seat became more Republican. Overall, the four Long Island districts needed to gain more than 148,000 new residents to meet the New York per district population goal of 776,971 individuals, or an average of adding just over 37,000 people per CD.

Though three of the four LI seats are constructed to elect a Democrat, the margins are not so strong as to eliminate competition. In wave Republican election years, and 2022 may be such, these open seats will be in play.

According to the FiveThirtyEight data operation, Rep. Zeldin’s 1st District moves from a R+10 to a D+6. Dave’s Redistricting App projects the composite Democratic vote to be 57.0 percent as compared to just 41.0 percent for Republicans. President Biden would have carried the new 1st, which moves east to west from the Hamptons to Bethpage State Park, by a 10.8 percent margin.

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An Alabama Barnburner

By Jim Ellis

Alabama US Senate candidate Mike Durant

Feb. 16, 2022 — A trio of polls released in the past three weeks now suggest that any one of the top Alabama US Senate candidates can win the Republican nomination.

With Democrats basically conceding the general election because none of their four filed candidates can be considered a legitimate threat to score an upset win in November, the GOP nomination contest will decide who will succeed retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R).

The Alabama Republican Senate primary is now turning into a serious three-way affair, as former “Black Hawk Down” pilot Mike Durant apparently has become a legitimate contender. According to most recent three surveys, what originally looked to be a potential outright win for US Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) on May 24 now appears surely headed for a June 21 secondary runoff election.

FarmPAC, the political arm of the Alabama Farmers Federation, this week began to publicize their Cherry Communications survey (Feb. 2-6; 600 likely Alabama Republican primary voters, live interview). The results post Congressman Brooks to a tight 34-29-24 percent lead over former Business Council of Alabama president and CEO Katie Britt, whom FarmPAC supports, and Durant, who now runs a defense engineering company headquartered in Alabama. In this survey, Durant again emerges as an additional contender with staying power who can clear a victory path.

As February began, Britt released her internal Deep Root Analytics survey (Jan. 29-31; 2,088 likely Alabama GOP primary voters; live interview, automated response calls and online) that gave her a slight 29-28-23 percent split over Brooks and Durant. Finally, WPA Intelligence, polling for the Club for Growth who supports Rep. Brooks (Jan. 25-27; 513 likely Alabama Republican primary voters live interview), saw the congressman holding a 35-30-25 percent edge over Durant, who vaulted into second place in this poll, and Britt.

All three candidates have strong positives and the financial wherewithal to remain competitive until voters first cast their ballots at the end of May. Two of the three, Brooks and Britt, can expect to benefit from active outside support, while Durant is already funding his effort to the tune of just over $4 million with likely more to come.

Britt is the leading fundraiser. At year’s end, she had raised just under $5 million, all from donors, and reported approximately $4.1 million cash-on-hand. Sen. Shelby has also committed to spending $5 million from his own campaign treasury as an independent expenditure to support Britt, his former chief of staff.

Rep. Brooks, never known as an aggressive fundraiser, had brought in $2.15 million at the end of 2021, with almost $2 million remaining in his treasury. The Club for Growth is likely to spend seven figures in their own independent expenditure to aid the congressman’s statewide effort.

As mentioned above, Durant has invested over $4 million into his effort according to his December year-end financial disclosure report, which represented virtually all of his campaign treasury. He has already spent well over $1 million on a media blitz that has successfully placed him in serious contention.

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Senate Candidate Gibbons Confirmed to be in Top Tier of Ohio Race

By Jim Ellis

Ohio US Senate candidate Mike Gibbons forges into a small lead.

Feb. 15, 2022 — At the end of January, a Cygnal research poll found investment banker and 2018 Ohio US Senate candidate Mike Gibbons forging into a small lead over perennial GOP primary leader Josh Mandel, the state’s former treasurer and 2012 US Senate nominee. Two new polls now confirm Gibbons’ outright lead in the battle to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman.

The previously released internal Gibbons’ campaign Cygnal January poll (Jan. 28-30; 929 likely Ohio Republican primary voters, SMS text & email) gave their candidate a 16-13 percent lead over Mandel, with author J.D. Vance showing in double-digits at 10 percent.

The new pair of statewide Buckeye State Republican US Senate primary surveys find the businessman again overtaking Mandel to claim first place. A co/efficent independent survey (Feb. 6-8; 613 likely Ohio Republican primary voters, text & automated interview responses) posts Gibbons to a 20-18 percent lead over Mandel, with state senator and Cleveland Guardians MLB club minority owner Mike Dolan, former state Republican Party chair Jane Timken, and Vance trailing with 7, 6 and 5 percent support, respectively.

The new Cyngal research firm’s internal poll for the Gibbons campaign (Feb. 8-10; 609 likely Ohio Republican primary voters, SMS text & email), however, gives their candidate a much larger margin over the rest of the field.

One possible reason for the increase in support is that another business candidate, car dealer Bernie Moreno, who had reached as high as 11 percent in a January poll, withdrew from the race in early February, reportedly at the behest of former President Donald Trump. It is conceivable that much of the Moreno support base went to Gibbons, since the two candidates were similar in several ways.

The most recent Cygnal numbers find Gibbons holding a surprisingly large 23 percent support figure, with Mandel, Vance, Timken, and Dolan trailing with 11, 9, 8 and 6 percent, respectively. The Gibbons’ media blitz, to an extent featuring Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) endorsing the investment banker’s candidacy, has clearly achieved its goal of propelling Gibbons into serious contention for the party nomination that will be decided in the open May 3 primary election.

Though the study’s analysis report doesn’t provide segmented numbers, the Cygnal pollsters claim the Gibbons lead is widespread within the key Republican voter groups. They report Gibbons leads by double digits among “self-identified Trump Republicans as well as Traditional Republicans.”

Gibbons also maintains similar leads with “self-identified Extremely Conservative, Very Conservative, and Somewhat Conservative voters, and over the nearest competitor among both men and women.” He also “holds strong advantages among Evangelical Protestants, Mainline Protestants, and Catholic voters.”

Gibbons’ effort is almost exclusively self-financed, to the tune of $11.4 million, all as a loan to the campaign. He has spent $5.8 million and had a cash-on-hand reserve of $6.4 million at the end of 2021. Therefore, even if his fundraising operation does not raise major money, Gibbons has enough to compete for the nomination.

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The Pew Religious Voter Study

By Jim Ellis

Poll shows President Joe Biden’s future outlook is far from positive.

Feb. 14, 2022 — The Pew Research Center released their nationwide poll late last week studying the perception of President Biden’s job approval one year after taking office among various religious segments and found a downturn in almost all groups’ perceptions when compared to their same beliefs at the beginning of the new administration.

The poll, conducted during the Jan. 10-17 period, questioned 5,128 US adults who agreed to be surveyed as part of Pew’s American Trends Panel that features a total universe of 17,472 individuals who are asked to participate in various surveys.

The survey sample, which “included oversamples of Asian, Black and Hispanic Americans in order to provide more precise estimates of the opinions and experiences of these smaller demographic subgroups,” also included atheist, agnostic, religiously unaffiliated, and those who identified themselves as “nothing in particular” in reference to religious classifications.

Therefore, the respondent sample represents a much broader matrix of religious viewpoints than those who belong to traditional Christian religions. The Jewish sector was not included in this study.

The Pew Researchers’ top point was charting how far President Biden’s image had fallen with African American Protestants. While 65 percent of Black Protestants still approve of the president’s job performance, Pew notes that his number has fallen from 92 percent after his first few days in office. The Black Protestant segment is, however, one of only three religious segments who believe Biden will be regarded as a successful president at the end of his term. The other two groups are Hispanic Catholics and atheists.

Even including these favorable sectors, the Biden future outlook is far from positive. While more Black Protestants believe he will be successful at this point than not, the aggregate sector percentage is still only 35, as compared to 14 percent who believe he will be unsuccessful. Almost half, at 49 percent, believe it is too early to tell, again a rather unacceptably high number from a group who Biden has heavily emphasized in his early Administration policy objectives.

Among Hispanic Catholics, his successful vs. unsuccessful ratio is 32:19 percent. The atheists rate him 32:30 percent successful vs. unsuccessful. A total of 48 percent of Hispanic Catholics and 38 percent of atheists believe it is too early to tell whether the Biden Administration will be regarded as successful in what Pew terms as “the long run.”

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