Category Archives: Election Analysis

WI-Senate: Lt. Gov. Announces

By Jim Ellis

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes

July 22, 2021 — As expected, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D) declared his candidacy Tuesday for a Wisconsin Senate seat. Incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson (R) has yet to say if he will seek a third term (when he first ran in 2010, he committed to serving only two terms) but there is no question whatever the senator decides that the Wisconsin race will be highly competitive and become a national campaign.

Before the eventual Democratic nominee even gets the opportunity to face Sen. Johnson, he or she must traverse a difficult primary battle that won’t conclude until August of next year. Already vying for the party nomination in addition now to Lt. Gov. Barnes are state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, state Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee), Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, and Milwaukee Bucks basketball club senior executive and former Obama White House aide Alex Lasry. Still others may enter.

Wisconsin has been the site of very close election in the latter part of the decade. Two presidential campaigns and a gubernatorial race fell within one percentage point (2016 Presidential: Trump: 47.2 – 46.5 percent; 2020 Presidential: Biden 49.4 – 48.8 percent; 2018 Governor: Tony Evers-D: 49.5 – 48.4 percent; 2016 US Senate: Johnson: 50-47 percent), and another photo finish is expected for 2022.

Polling will again be another question mark since the survey research community’s joint record in Wisconsin has been poor since 2016.

In the Trump-Clinton race, pollsters ran 32 polls and Donald Trump led in none, yet he won the state. In the 2016 Senate race, Sen. Johnson was ahead only once in 29 public polls, yet claimed a three-point re-election victory when the actual votes were tabulated. Again, in the 2020 presidential race, while correctly predicting that Biden would carry Wisconsin, their average margin was way off the mark, finding the Democrat leading by a mean average of 6.7 percentage points in eight polls conducted after Oct. 20. The actual Biden victory margin was just beyond 22,000 votes.

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New State Fundraising Figures

By Jim Ellis

No surprise that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) tops the fundraising list.

July 20, 2021 — The second quarter Federal Election Commission financial disclosure reports are now public, and while it will take some time to comprehend the individual filings, we can look at the aggregate state data to begin drawing some early US House political situation conclusions:

The following is a list of the 80 office holders and candidates who exceeded $1 million-plus in receipts since Jan. 1, 2021, including 74 incumbents.

A total of 45 are Democrats as compared to 35 Republicans. A brief explanation of why certain individuals have raised this much money is also included.

California

INCUMBENT PARTY DIST RECEIPTS CASH-ON-HAND
Pelosi, Nancy D CA-12 $6,873,128 $7,150,847
McCarthy, Kevin R CA-23 $6,312,663 $6,305,397
Porter, Katie D CA-45 $4,887,831 $12,859,730
Schiff, Adam D CA-28 $3,979,554 $15,639,499
Nunes, Devin R CA-22 $2,525,366 $11,539,624
Khanna, Ro D CA-17 $2,307,112 $3,822,319
Harder, Josh D CA-10 $1,987,919 $5,040,053
Kim, Young R CA-39 $1,594,073 $1,447,568
Garcia, Mike R CA-25 $1,353,194 $822,554
Steel, Michelle R CA-48 $1,352,557 $1,008,266
Collins, Joe R CA-43 $1,199,044 $180,383
Swalwell, Eric D CA-15 $1,085,947 $654,799

No surprise that the two party leaders, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) top the fundraising list, though House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) exceeded by just over $600,000 the top GOP total.

Reps. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) and Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) had their typically strong fundraising periods. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) has the lowest population number of any district, and he sits in the middle of the San Fernando Valley. Both points make him vulnerable in redistricting from a state that is losing a congressional district. Joe Collins (R) is opposing Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles). It is obvious from his large receipt total and small cash-on-hand figure that he is raising his money through direct mail prospecting, which is an expensive proposition.

Colorado

INCUMBENT PARTY DIST RECEIPTS CASH-ON-HAND
Boebert, Lauren R CO-3 $1,794,955 $1,252,630
Donovan, Kerry D CO-3 $1,179,347 $479,246

Obviously, the western slope 3rd District race will be competitive and expensive.

Florida

INCUMBENT PARTY DIST RECEIPTS CASH-ON-HAND
Gaetz, Matt R FL-1 $3,277,058 $1,585,935
Cherfilus-McCormick, Sheila D FL-20 $2,409,407 $2,081,704
Mast, Brian R FL-18 $1,749,636 $1,720,117
Donalds, Byron R FL-19 $1,468,065 $958,339
Salazar, Maria Elvira R FL-27 $1,201,681 $672,473
Murphy, Stephanie D FL-7 $1,165,011 $1,973,288

Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D) is in the special election to replace the late Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL). Most of her money is self-contributed. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Ft. Walton Beach) may soon be facing legal charges, so much of his campaign treasury may be paying legal fees. Reps. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Miami) and Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park) look to be facing serious re-election opposition.

Georgia

INCUMBENT PARTY DIST RECEIPTS CASH-ON-HAND
Greene, Marjorie T. R GA-14 $4,775,059 $2,792,569
Flowers, Marcus D GA-14 $2,018,385 $547,579
McBath, Lucy D GA-6 $1,575,051 $1,326,020
Bourdeaux, Carolyn D GA-7 $1,240,567 $1,131,140

There is no doubt that the 14th District race featuring controversial Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Rome) will be expensive and attract a great deal of media attention. Reps. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) and Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Suwanee) face uncertain redistricting challenges.

Illinois

INCUMBENT PARTY DIST RECEIPTS CASH-ON-HAND
Krishnamoorthi, R. D IL-8 $2,282,380 $10,090,383
Kinzinger, Adam R IL-16 $1,954,927 $3,075,610
Underwood, Lauren D IL-14 $1,685,298 $1,479,294

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Schaumberg) is a consistent major fundraiser. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Channahon) faces an uncertain redistricting situation along with a strong Republican primary challenge. Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Naperville) will likely receive a more Democratic seat in redistricting.

Iowa

INCUMBENT PARTY DIST RECEIPTS CASH-ON-HAND
Hinson, Ashley R IA-1 $1,443,371 $929,482
Axne, Cindy D IA-3 $1,292,496 $1,038,635
Miller-Meeks, M. R IA-2 $1,045,361 $1,174,066

As we can see from the fundraising totals, Iowa could be the most competitive US House state in 2022 with three of the state’s four seats being top-tier challenger races.

Kansas

INCUMBENT PARTY DIST RECEIPTS CASH-ON-HAND
Davids, Sharice D KS-3 $1,192,865 $1,222,016

2022: The Unannounced

By Jim Ellis

July 19, 2021 — The Fox News website ran a story late last week saying that there remain five in-cycle US senators who have not yet revealed their political plans for 2022. Below is a review of those senators’ political situations and clues that could provide a glimpse whether they are headed toward re-election or retirement.

The best hints will be forthcoming in a matter of days as the second quarter campaign financial disclosure reports will be released shortly on the Federal Election Commission website. Last Thursday was the deadline for filing the reports for the period covering April 1 through June 30.

The five senators, listed alphabetically by state are Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Thune (R-SD), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Ron Johnson (R-WI).


Sen. Murkowski:

State: Alaska
Appointed: 2002
Re-elected: 2004, 2010, 2016
Age at time of 2022 election: 65
Victory Margin 2016: 44.4 – 29.2%

Announced Major Opponents:
• Karl Speights (R) – Retired Air Force officer
• Kelly Tshibaka (R) – Former AK Administration Commissioner

It is assumed that Sen. Murkowski will run for re-election, though her return path to Washington may be a difficult one to traverse. Last night, her campaign spokesperson stated that the Senator’s second quarter disclosure report would show $1.15 million raised for the quarter with $2.3 million cash-on-hand. These are financial numbers that suggest she will seek re-election.

Alaska has changed its nominating system and will be the first state to adopt a “top four” primary procedure. Similar to California, Louisiana, and Washington that use the jungle primary format to send the top two candidates to the general election, Alaska will instead advance the top four from the slate primary. The change virtually ensures that Sen. Murkowski will not again lose the Republican primary as she did in the 2010 election. In that year, she was forced to run a highly efficient general election write-in operation to win her second full term.

Early polling numbers find Sen. Murkowski with very poor favorability numbers among Republicans and running a distant third behind Kelly Tshibaka (R), who is already the state Republican Party’s officially endorsed candidate. Dr. Al Gross (D), the 2020 Senate nominee, has not yet committed to running again, but he, too, runs ahead of the Senator in the previously released surveys.

While the top four system guarantees Sen. Murkowski will secure a ballot position for the general election, winning her re-election is in doubt.


Sen. Grassley:

State: Iowa
First Elected: 1980
Re-elected: 1986, 1992, 1998, 2004, 2010, 2016
Age at time of 2022 election: 89
Victory Margin 2016: 60.1 – 35.7%

Announced Major Opponents:
• Jim Carlin (R) – State Senator; former State Representative
• Glenn Hurst (D) – Minden City Councilman; Physician
• Dave Muhlbauer (D) – Ex-Crawford County Commissioner; Farmer

Last week Sen. Grassley stated that he would make his political plan public before Nov. 1. Despite his advanced age, it is presumed in all sectors now that Sen. Grassley will seek re-election. He has filed a 2022 campaign committee with the FEC, has a semi-updated website, and it will be interesting to see how active his fundraising became in the second quarter. His March 31 report revealed a cash-on-hand figure of $2.04 million to begin the re-election cycle.

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The Michigan Wild Card

Michigan Congressional Districts


By Jim Ellis

July 16, 2021 — For the third consecutive census, the Wolverine State of Michigan loses a congressional seat but this time it is more difficult to determine how the new map will be drawn and which of the state’s 14 US House members, comprised of seven Democrats and seven Republicans, will be the odd member out.

The big change is that for the first time a citizens’ commission, and not the state legislature, will draw the map. The 13-member commission has been conducting briefings to organizations around the state since April 3 and has public input meetings scheduled with those that began July 8 through Aug. 26.

What places Michigan in a wild card situation, however, won’t become clear until the US Census Bureau sends the state its individual tract data that will arrive on or around Aug. 15. At that point, the key question will be answered as to just how many people the city of Detroit has lost. This will be the critical factor in determining how the new congressional map is constructed.

Like every state, Michigan is bordered on all sides meaning the members with districts on the edge are typically in better defined position than those residing in the geographic middle. In this state’s case, the Great Lakes surround the split land masses on the north, east, and west, with Canada lying to its north and east, and Indiana and Ohio to the south.

Looking at the available public population data that only is current through July 1 of 2019, all current 14 districts must gain residents, hence the state losing a CD, with three most significantly holding the fewest people. Those three are the two Detroit seats, Districts 13 (Rep. Rashida Tlaib-D) and 14 (Rep. Brenda Lawrence-D), and the Flint-anchored seat, District 5 (Rep. Dan Kildee-D). All three are likely to need an influx of more than 100,000 people apiece.

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VA-Gov: Still Polling Close

Former Virginia governor, Terry McAuliffe

By Jim Ellis

July 15, 2021 — A new Trafalgar Group poll was released this week on the 2021 Virginia governor’s campaign, and the results supported data from two other pollsters that we analyzed in June.

The Trafalgar numbers (July 8-10; 1,104 likely Virginia voters, combination live interview and online) give former Virginia governor and ex-Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe a slight 47-45 percent edge over retired hedge fund CEO Glenn Youngkin (R) in a political contest that is much closer than analysts would have foretold at the very beginning of this election cycle.

The Trafalgar results were consistent with those found in June from WPA Intelligence (June 2-6; 508 likely Virginia voters, live interview) and JMC Analytics (June 9-12; 550 likely Virginia voters, live interview). In those surveys, McAuliffe held leads of 48-46 percent (WAPi) and 46-42 percent (JMC). Therefore, we see virtually no change within the five-week period, which has to be considered good news for underdog Youngkin.

None of the three polls published a geographic segmentation, which would have been interesting since Youngkin must hit certain benchmarks in the state’s most populous areas if he is to score an upset. All of these regions have been moving decidedly Democratic in the most recent elections.

Alternatively, if we look at the most competitive previous election result, one that elected McAuliffe, we can begin to pinpoint how the current race must form and if we are to see a Republican upset.

The first clue that a close race might develop came in this year’s Democratic primary held on June 8. Turnout, when compared with the 2017 primary that nominated current Gov. Ralph Northam in a lightly competitive race, reached 542,858. This year, the Democratic participation number fell by more than 34,000 voters to 508,616. This may suggest a lesser enthusiasm factor within the Democratic base for McAuliffe’s rerun campaign.

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