Category Archives: Election Analysis

Alaska Moves to Repeal Ranked Choice Voting; Ranked Choice Voting Killed in Montana; NC Redistricting News; Reeves Increases Lead in Miss.

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, May 2, 2023

States

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R)

Alaska: Move to Repeal Ranked Choice Voting — In 2020, Alaska voters with only a 50.5 percent victory margin approved a top-four/Ranked Choice Voting election change that has had a major effect upon the state’s elections. Under the system, all candidates are placed on the same ballot with the top four finishers, regardless of party affiliation, advancing into the general election. In the regular vote, if no candidate receives majority support, the Ranked Choice process takes effect.

Supporters of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) were active in getting the measure passed correctly believing that the system would help her. A top-four structure would guarantee the senator advancing to the general election, thus bypassing what had proven to be her main point of vulnerability: a partisan Republican primary.

Now, conservative activists backed by Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor, and 2022 US Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka are mounting a signature campaign for a ballot initiative that would repeal the current system. The legislature is also considering legislation to do the same. Proponents of the repeal initiative must submit 26,705 valid registered voter signatures to qualify the measure. The group has already recruited the mandatory 100 petition sponsors and received initial approval from the lieutenant governor, meaning the initiative is officially qualified for signature gathering. The group’s goal is to place the measure on the 2024 general election ballot.

Montana: Top-Two Primary Could Return, Ranked Choice Voting Killed — Late last week, Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) signed legislation to prohibit the Ranked Choice Voting system from being instituted in the state of Montana, joining several other states that have taken similar action.

Reports also suggest that proponents of legislation to use the 2024 US Senate race as a test case for the all-party jungle primary system that would qualify the top two finishing candidates for advancement into the general election may still be revived in the state House of Representatives before the current legislative session adjourns. The measure has already passed the state Senate but was tabled in a House policy committee. It is possible another committee could consider the measure and pass it to the floor for a vote in the session’s final days.

North Carolina: State Supreme Court Nullifies Previous Redistricting Ruling — In the 2022 election, Republicans converted two Democratic seats on the North Carolina Supreme Court, which gave the GOP a 5-2 majority. In the post-election session, the outgoing Democratic panel ruled that the state Senate boundaries were unconstitutional as was the North Carolina voter ID law. The congressional and state House maps are court-drawn. The new Republican court decided to reconsider these previous court rulings and on Friday reversed the directives.

This means the legislature can redraw all of the district maps and their chance of being upheld in this state Supreme Court is high. The new court and the legislature’s majority members are much closer in the way they view redistricting law and procedure. Therefore, we can soon count on seeing a new congressional plan that will likely break the 7R-7D current delegation’s partisan division. The new draw will inevitably add Republican seats to the congressional delegation at the likely expense of some of the less senior Democratic members.

The high court’s action could also lead to a moot ruling on a similar case currently before the US Supreme Court. If the federal justices take such action on the Moore vs. Harper political gerrymandering and judicial authority case, then we will not see a sweeping Supreme Court directive pertaining to political gerrymandering. This would, at least for the short term, continue the practice of awarding the final redistricting judicial authority to the 50 state Supreme Courts.

Governor

Mississippi: Gov. Reeves Increases Lead — A new Siena College poll of the Mississippi electorate (April 16-20; 783 registered Mississippi voters; live interview & online) projects Gov. Tate Reeves (R) expanding what was a closer lead over Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley (D). The ballot test yields Gov. Reeves a 49-38 percent advantage. In early March, Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy found the governor holding a 46-39 percent edge.

While the Siena College poll revealed the governor’s job approval index at 53:46 percent favorable to unfavorable, his personal popularity remains upside down. This latest data projects for him only a 42:45 percent positive to negative ratio. Gov. Reeves faces only minor competition in the Aug. 8 Republican primary and Commissioner Presley is unopposed on the Democratic side. Therefore, it is clear the two will face each other in the Nov. 7 general election.

Battleground Polling

By Jim Ellis — Monday, May 1, 2023

President

Battleground States: A Look Inside the Numbers — The key 2024 presidential campaign battleground states are already known, and a national polling firm just completed a study covering five of these critical domains.

Public Opinion Strategies (POS) conducted a series of 500-sample general election polls in the important battleground states during the April 11-20 period, and all of the surveys produced very close results while highlighting a familiar pattern. This research gives us an early indication that we will again see a tight general election campaign.

POS tested both former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis individually against President Joe Biden in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. In every instance, we see DeSantis running better when paired against Biden than does Trump.

First, in Arizona, President Biden would lead Trump by a single point, 45-44 percent, while DeSantis would record a six-point advantage over the Democratic incumbent, 48-42 percent.

For Republicans, Arizona is one of the most critical states on the board. Unless the eventual GOP nominee can capture Arizona and Georgia — the Peach State was not included in the POS battleground state study – the chances of attaining national victory are almost nil. Together, these two states account for 27 of the 35 conversion electoral votes a Republican candidate will need to win the White House.

Michigan, based upon the 2022 election results, is now viewed as leaning decidedly toward the Democrats, so the Wolverine State will likely not be as heavily emphasized on the Republican target list as some of the others covered in the POS multi-state study. Still, the current polling results put the Republicans within early victory range.

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Democratic Primary Poll Numbers; D’Esposito Draws Initial Opponent; Military Doc Announces for House; 17 Candidates for RI-1 Seat

By Jim Ellis — Friday, April 28, 2023

President

Fox News Poll: First Democratic Primary Numbers — Fox News released the results of their current poll (conducted by Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R); April 21-24; 1,004 US registered voters; 392 likely Democratic primary voters; live interview), which looks to be the first national survey testing the Democratic presidential nomination campaign featuring President Joe Biden, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and author Marianne Williamson.

In a contest most believe will not be much competition for the presidency, Biden reaches only 62 percent among the Democratic partisans, a number viewed as low for an incumbent within his own party. Kennedy records 19 percent support, while Williamson is the choice of nine percent.

House

NY-4: Rep. D’Esposito Draws Initial Opponent — New York freshman Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-Island Park) was the biggest upset winner in the 2022 election. He captured a Long Island-anchored 4th District that the FiveThirtyEight organization rates as D+10, which is tied with California Rep. David Valadao’s (R) CA-22 as the most Democratic seat that elected a Republican to the US House.

Rep. D’Esposito has now drawn his first re-election opponent. Attorney and two-time congressional candidate Pat Maher (D) yesterday announced that he will again run for Congress. It is likely, however, that the local Democratic leadership will recruit and support a stronger candidate once the election cycle progresses.

NC-13: Military Physician Announces for House — Surgeon and Air Force Reserve Col. Josh McConkey (R), who is also an adjunct professor at Duke University, announced that he will challenge freshman North Carolina Rep. Wiley Nickel (D-Raleigh) in the state’s 13th District.

The challenger field has largely been held in check so far because it is apparent that the North Carolina legislature will redraw the current court-drawn congressional map. This should make the swing 13th CD more Republican. The 2022 nominee, businessman Bo Hines (R), who lost to Nickel 52-48 percent, is likely to also enter the Republican primary.

RI-1: Now, There Are 17 — Lincoln Town Councilmember Pamela Azar became the 17th Democrat to enter the special election campaign to replace Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline (D-Providence), who is expected to resign from the House on June 1. Gov. Dan McKee (D) has already said he will call the special primary election for Sept. 5. The special general will then be scheduled concurrently with the regular municipal elections on Nov. 7.

In a 1st District that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+32, Rep. Cicilline’s successor will be determined in the huge Democratic primary. Within the field are Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, six sitting state legislators, two local officials, and a former White House aide.

Battleground Polling in Key States; Landry Leads in Louisiana Poll; Another California Candidate

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, April 27, 2023

President

Battleground Polling: New Surveys in Key States —As reported Tuesday, on the four-year anniversary of announcing his victorious candidacy in 2019, President Joe Biden officially declared for re-election.

At his current age of 80, Biden is already the oldest individual to occupy his office; curiously, he plans to adopt the theme of ‘needing more time to finish the job’ building upon the goals he originally outlined when embarking upon his 2020 national campaign.

Public Opinion Strategies (POS) conducted five 500-sample general election polls in five battleground states during the April 11-20 period, and all of the surveys produced very close results while highlighting a familiar pattern. This research gives us an early indication that we will again see a very close general election campaign.

In Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, POS tested both former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis individually against President Biden. In every instance, we see DeSantis running better when paired against Biden than does Trump.

First, in Arizona, President Biden would lead Trump by a single point, while Gov. DeSantis would record a six-point advantage over the Democratic incumbent. The Michigan numbers produced a similar pattern, with the president running two points ahead of Trump but trailing the Florida governor by three. Almost the same pattern occurred in the Silver State of Nevada: Biden up one over Trump but down three to DeSantis. Pennsylvania yields virtually the same result: Biden plus-4 over Trump; DeSantis plus-3 over Biden. And, just about the same was projected for Wisconsin: Biden leading Trump by three percentage points while drawing even opposite Gov. DeSantis.

Governor

Louisiana: AG Landry Leads in Open Seat Poll — WPA Intelligence, polling for the Club for Growth organization (April 11-13; 500 likely Louisiana primary voters; live interview), projects Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry to be opening a large lead over his open race gubernatorial opponents. The ballot test results yield a 36-18 percent lead over Democratic former state Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson. No other candidate reaches double-digits, with state Treasurer John Schroder (R) topping the also-rans with six percent support.

The all-party jungle primary is scheduled for Oct. 14, 2023. If no one reaches 50 percent, the top two finishers will then face each other in a runoff election on Nov. 18. Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

California: Second 2026 Candidate Announces — Yesterday, we covered the story that California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis (D) already formally announced her 2026 campaign for governor. Following suit, former state Treasurer Betty Yee (D) made a public statement saying that she, too, will be competing in what will be an open California governor’s race with Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) ineligible to seek a third term.

It is highly unusual to see candidates announce for a race almost four years in advance of the election. In a state the size of California, however, and considering the expense of a statewide campaign, time becomes as important a resource as money. Therefore, multi-cycle campaigns could be the beginning of a future Golden State trend.

Gallego Leads in Three-Way Polling; Montana Jungle Primary System Appears Dead; Rep. Bost Challenger in IL-12; Calif. Gubernatorial Candidate Announces; NH Candidate Jockeying;

By Jim Ellis — April 26, 2023

Senate

Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego (D)

Arizona: Rep. Gallego (D) Leads in New Three-Way Polling — Rep. Ruben Gallego’s (D-Phoenix) US Senate campaign released its internal Public Policy Polling survey that gives the congressman healthy leads over all of the potential Republican opponents as well as incumbent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I). The PPP poll (April 18-19; 559 Arizona voters) finds that former gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake performs best of the potential Republican nominees, trailing 42-35-14 percent with Sen. Sinema in third place. The poll also finds the incumbent plagued with a poor 27:50 percent favorability index.

These results are much different than the recent OH Predictive Insights poll that perched Gallego in the low 30s and Sen. Sinema hovering around the 20 percent mark with a favorability rating much closer to even. Expect to see many polls being released throughout this unique Senate campaign.

Montana: Top Two Primary Idea Appears Dead — The state measure to use the 2024 US Senate race as a test case for a top two all-party jungle primary system appears to be dead. GOP state legislators appear not to have the stomach to move forward with the test, even though the state Senate had originally passed the legislation.

Republicans were apparently trying to eliminate the probability of the Libertarian candidate attracting in the three percent range, which is common in Montana. The belief is most of those votes would go to a Republican candidate. Therefore, eliminating minor party candidates from the general election ballot would at least theoretically make Sen. Jon Tester’s (D) road to re-election much more difficult.

House

IL-12: Ex-GOP Gubernatorial Nominee to Challenge Rep. Mike Bost (R) — Former Illinois state senator and 2022 Republican gubernatorial nominee Darren Bailey (losing 55-42 percent to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, D) is reportedly testing the political waters for a primary challenge to five-term Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro/Carbondale).

The 12th District is one of just three Republican seats in the state and occupies all of southern Illinois. It appears a Bailey victory path is difficult to chart, since Rep. Bost is solidly conservative and unlikely to upset the party base. Should Bailey move forward, this will be another race to watch in Illinois’ March 19, 2024, primary.

Governor

California: Lieutenant Governor Already Announces — California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis (D) is wasting no time in making her intention known that she will run for governor in 2026. She announced Monday the formation of her campaign committee even though the electoral contest is still three years away from occurring. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) will be ineligible to seek a third term at that time. It had become common knowledge that Kounalakis would not enter the open 2024 US Senate race because she was planning a ’26 gubernatorial bid.

New Hampshire: Ex-Senate Candidate Eyes Governor Race — Former state Senate President Chuck Morse (R), who lost the 2022 Republican US Senate primary by one percentage point, confirms that he has interest in running for governor next year if incumbent Chris Sununu (R) decides not to seek a fifth term.

Though New Hampshire has just two-year gubernatorial terms, only Gov. Sununu and former Gov. John Lynch (D) have served four consecutive terms. Most believe that Gov. Sununu will not run a fifth time since he is a potential presidential candidate. It is possible, however, for him to enter the national campaign and still have time to again run for governor should he not succeed in his presidential effort. New Hampshire has one of the latest candidate filing deadlines and primary elections in the country.

Former US Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) is also frequently mentioned as a potential open-seat gubernatorial contender. Outgoing Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig attracts the most attention as a possible Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

Biden Announcement Today

Biden/Harris announce their re-election bid for 2024.

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Presidency

Biden/Harris Announce: Challenges Ahead? — On the four-year anniversary of announcing his victorious candidacy in 2019, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris declared they will run for re-election today.

With questions surrounding his personal longevity – currently at 80 years of age, Biden is already the oldest individual to occupy the office – the president plans to adopt the theme of ‘needing more time to finish the job’ that he originally outlined when he embarked upon his 2020 national campaign.

The recent NBC News poll, however, suggests that he will have some challenges in convincing voters to award him with a second term.

The NBC survey (April 14-18; 1,000 US adults; 800 US registered voters; live interview) begins with testing President Biden’s job approval. We see only 41 percent approving of his performance in office (15 percent strongly approve; 26 percent somewhat approve) and 54 percent expressing a negative opinion (45 percent strongly disapprove; nine percent somewhat disapprove).

The most troubling segment from the president’s perspective is his strong approval versus strong disapproval ratio, which is only 1:3 (15 percent to 45 percent), and negative intensity is always a clear warning sign.

Drilling down further into Biden’s job approval scores, the NBC pollsters asked about his performance within two specific issue areas, the economy and race relations.

As has been the case since August of 2021 in NBC polling, the president is upside-down regarding his handling of the US economy. In this current survey, only 38 percent approve of how he has managed the economy, while 58 percent disapprove. Though these ratings are poor, the current figures are an improvement over his nadir, which occurred in March of 2022 (33:63 percent).

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Trump/DeSantis vs. Biden; Lake Likely to Enter Ariz. Senate Race; Feinstein Resignation Drumbeat Intensifies; Whitmer’s Sister Declares Candidacy

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, April 25, 2023

President

WSJ Poll: Trump in Primary; DeSantis in General — We continue to see more polling evidence that former President Donald Trump has an early lock on the 2024 Republican nomination, but Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis fares better in a general election pairing with President Biden.

The just-released Wall Street Journal poll (conducted by Fabrizio Lee & Associates; April 11-17; 1,500 US Adults; 600 likely Republican primary voters) finds Trump holding a 51-38 percent lead among the national Republican polling sample in a hypothetical one-on-one pairing with Gov. DeSantis. Within the field of 12 announced and potential candidates, Trump leads with 48 percent as compared to the Florida governor’s 24 percent. Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley receives only five percent support, and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy registers two percent. This is a major change from the December WSJ poll when DeSantis led Trump in the head-to-head pairing, 52-38 percent.

In the general election, however, Gov. DeSantis outpolls President Joe Biden 48-45 percent. If Trump were the Republican nominee, the margin becomes a mirror image as President Biden would claim the same 48-45 percent edge.

Senate

Former Arizona newscaster Kari Lake (R)

Arizona: Kari Lake Signals Senate Candidacy — Former Arizona gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake (R), who is still fighting voter fraud lawsuits over her close 2022 loss to current Gov. Katie Hobbs (D), says she is likely to enter the open US Senate contest unless the courts install her as governor. Since the latter happening is highly unlikely at this point, we can count on seeing Lake back in a 2024 Grand Canyon State election campaign.

Already in the GOP primary is Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb. He and Lake would likely split the “Trump lane” within the Arizona GOP electorate. This may portend well for another Republican candidate occupying the pro-business/free enterprise outside lane. The Arizona primary is scheduled for Aug. 6, 2024.

The general election is very likely to become a three-way race with the eventual Republican nominee, probably Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) on the Democratic line, and incumbent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I) either running as an Independent or becoming the nominee of the No Labels Party. The NLP has qualified for the ballot in the state, but the Arizona Democratic Party has filed a lawsuit challenging its status.

California: Sen. Feinstein Resignation Drumbeat Intensifies — According to a Twitter post and other sources, a group of 60 progressive left organizations have coalesced under a letter to California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) asking her to resign. Sen. Feinstein, who is the longest-serving Democrat in the current Senate, has already announced that she will not seek re-election. Suffering from shingles, Sen. Feinstein is back in California and not attending session. This puts the Democratic conference down a seat, so pressure is being exerted on her to leave early so Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) can make a replacement appointment. At this point, Sen. Feinstein says she will serve the balance of her final term.

House

NY-17: Gov. Whitmer’s Sister Declares for Congress — Katonah-Lewisboro School Board Trustree Liz Gereghty (D) announced that she will compete for the Democratic nomination with the hope of challenging freshman New York Rep. Mike Lawler (R-Pearl River) next year. Gereghty is Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) sister.

We can expect a crowded Democratic primary that could possibly include former US Rep. Mondaire Jones who left the Westchester County-anchored district to run unsuccessfully for a New York City seat. Rep. Lawler then upset Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chairman Sean Patrick Maloney in November. Maloney has not ruled out a comeback attempt, but most believe him returning is a remote possibility.

With NY-17 rated as D+7 from the FiveThirtyEight data organization and Dave’s Redistricting App calculating partisan lean of 56.6D – 41.3R, we can count on seeing this CD as a top Democratic conversion target in 2024 and becoming a national congressional campaign.