Category Archives: Election Analysis

Nevada’s Gubernatorial Race:
Ex-Sen. Heller Announces

By Jim Ellis

Former Nevada Sen. Dean Heller (R)

Sept. 22, 2021 — The Silver State of Nevada has been home to some of the nation’s closest statewide elections during the past decade. In almost half of all Nevada statewide political contests since 2012, both party’s nominees have won their elections with only plurality support.

With that backdrop, ex-US Sen. Dean Heller (R), who lost his seat to current incumbent Jacky Rosen (D) in 2018, is making a political comeback attempt in next year’s governor’s race. Heller officially announced his plans Monday after the story broke last week that he would become a candidate.

Part of the announcement came as a surprise, and has more to do with winning the Republican primary than for what he hopes will be a challenge to incumbent Gov. Steve Sisolak (D). Heller, who throughout his career had aligned himself with the pro-choice caucus, pointedly spoke approvingly of the new Texas law governing abortion practices.

In the Republican primary, Heller faces Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo and North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee among others. At this point, Gov. Sisolak has no announced Democratic opposition.

According to a July OH Predictive Insights poll (July 6-11; 783 registered Nevada voters), which is the latest Nevada gubernatorial survey available, Gov. Sisolak recorded a 52:39 percent job approval ratio. As with most polls in today’s politics, the bulk of support comes from members of one’s own party, but in this case, 30 percent of the sampled Republicans also gave the governor a positive review.

Gov. Sisolak, a former Clark County Commissioner who previously served as a member of the Nevada Board of Regents, was elected the state’s chief executive three years ago with a 49-45 percent win over then-Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R), grandson of former US senator and Nevada governor, Paul Laxalt (R). Laxalt is also making a political comeback in 2022, running against incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto (D) for the US Senate.

Both the ’22 Nevada governor and US Senate have the potential of ending in close fashion. Since 2012, inclusive, 18 statewide races have been conducted. Democrats won 10 and Republicans’ eight, but six of the GOP victories came in the Republican wave year of 2014 when the Nevada Democratic turnout proved particularly low.

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Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez
Won’t Seek Re-Election

By Jim Ellis

Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River)

Sept. 21, 2021 — Saying he believes that former President Donald Trump “shouldn’t ever be president again,” sophomore Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River) announced on Friday that he will not seek a third term in the House.

Rep. Gonzalez was one of 10 Republicans to support Trump’s second impeachment, and drew a strong Republican primary opponent as a result. Former President Trump responded to Gonzalez’s statement and decision with his own release saying, “1 down, 9 to go,” in reference to those Republican House members who supported removing him from office after the Jan. 6 Capitol invasion.

Gonzalez is the 19th member who will not be on the next election ballot for the US House seat he now holds, including the three vacancies to be filled in special elections. Of the 19, Republicans currently hold 10 seats as compared to nine for the Democrats. This is the first GOP opening with some competitive potential, however, though the Gonzalez decision will likely have a big impact upon the Ohio redistricting process currently under way within the state legislature in Columbus.

Former White House aide Max Miller had been Rep. Gonzalez’s top Republican competitor. Through the June 30 campaign financial disclosure period, Miller had raised just under $1 million ($951,520), but had only $533,153 remaining in cash-on-hand.

Despite Miller’s strong fundraising effort, Rep. Gonzalez still held the upper hand, reporting $1.22 million raised with over $1.5 million in the bank. Therefore, while the Miller challenge appeared formidable, it was not a foregone conclusion that he would have denied Rep. Gonzalez re-nomination had the congressman decided to continue running.

Rep. Gonzalez’s 16th Congressional District begins in the Westlake area to the west of Cleveland and stretches south toward the rural areas southwest of Canton. It then meanders to the northeast around Akron to end in the city of Edinburg.

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Trump Chooses Cheney Opponent

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 14, 2021 — Movement is occurring in the Wyoming Republican primary challenge race against at-large Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wilson). At this point, however, the latest developments may still not be enough to deny her re-nomination in a crowded open GOP primary scheduled for Aug. 16, 2022.

Former Wyoming Republican National Committeewoman Harriet Hageman late last week announced her candidacy as a Republican representative in the state’s lone congressional district to challenge Rep. Liz Cheyney (R-Wilson).

Attorney and former Wyoming Republican National Committeewoman Harriet Hageman late last week announced her candidacy in the Equality State’s lone congressional district. She joined a throng of eight GOP candidates opposing Rep. Cheney in the 2022 primary.

A day after Hageman’s announcement, former President Donald Trump, who is the focal point of Rep. Cheney’s actions relating to the Jan. 6 uprising at the Capitol and her vote to impeach him, is now actively supporting one of the candidates.

Hageman, in a coordinated announcement and endorsement over a two-day period, entered the race knowing she had the support of the former national chief executive. Such backing has often helped other endorsed candidates prevail in similar Republican primaries.

After Trump publicized his Hageman endorsement, the field slimmed to seven as US Air Force veteran Bryan Miller and attorney Darin Smith ended their campaigns, thus answering the former President’s call for the party to unite behind one candidate.

The remaining group of contenders, state Sen. Anthony Bouchard (R-Laramie), state Rep. Chuck Gray (R-Casper), retired Army Colonel Denton Knapp, former Pavillion mayor, Marissa Joy Selvig, and two minor candidates, have not yet followed suit.

Polling suggests that the crowded field, with the anti-Cheney vote split multiple ways, could allow the congresswoman to win re-nomination with a rather small plurality. Another point in her favor is that Wyoming does not register voters by political party affiliation. In this state’s nomination elections, and in many other places, voters simply choose the party primary in which they desire to participate.

This system would allow disaffected Democrats to vote in the Republican primary. They would likely support Cheney, having the goal of thwarting the Trump and conservative forces who are attempting to oust her.

Because Rep. Cheney has gone so far to oppose Mr. Trump’s post-election actions and stances, denying her re-nomination becomes a significant test of the former president’s party leadership. Cheney has even aligned herself with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in taking her Trump opposition to the ultimate level by serving as a member of the House select committee investigating the Capitol uprising. This was knowingly done so in defiance of House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) directive to the GOP members vis-a-vis committee participation.

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The Tennessee Rumor

Tennessee Congressional Districts (click on image to see larger)

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 13, 2021 — Unconfirmed stories from Democratic sources are flying around the Internet suggesting that the Tennessee Republican state legislative leadership is in the process of drawing a new congressional map that would shred Rep. Jim Cooper’s (D-Nashville) seat and convert the current 7R-2D map into 8R-1D.

This may well be happening, but when looking at the population densities in each of the state’s nine congressional districts, drawing such a map may be unavoidable and not entirely partisanship-driven. The problem for Cooper and the Democrats is not the congressman’s Nashville-anchored 5th District. Rather, the Memphis seat of Rep. Steve Cohen (D) is the source of their difficulty. It is this 9th District, with a major population shortage and unfavorable geographic boundaries from a redistricting perspective, that could adversely affect Rep. Cooper.

Despite Tennessee ranking as the 17th fastest growing domain during the previous decade, the Volunteer State did not gain a new congressional seat in reapportionment. Additionally, and the fundamental problem for Rep. Cooper, middle Tennessee is experiencing explosive growth, while the east and the west are inhabitant deficient, at least from a congressional district equivalency perspective. Rep. Cohen’s Memphis anchored seat is the least populated of the nine CDs and must gain 77,122 people to meet the new Tennessee congressional district population requirement of 767,871 individuals.

As you know, Memphis sits in the far southwestern corner of Tennessee. Therefore, the Cohen district is bordered by Arkansas to the west and Mississippi to the south. Thus, the people needed to fill the 9th can only come from the north and east. To further complicate matters, the TN-9 is a Voting Rights majority minority district and must remain with relatively constant minority population numbers.

Additionally, the 8th District of Rep. David Kustoff (R-Georgetown), that stretches from Kentucky to Mississippi and the only place from where the 9th District can annex the people it needs, is also under-populated. To meet its own population requirements, the 8th CD must gain 51,524 inhabitants, hence having to stretch closer to the Nashville area districts, which is how Cooper’s Nashville seat factors into Memphis’ population swing problem. Combined, these issues making drawing western Tennessee difficult.

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Ohio Data: Below the Surface

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 10, 2021 — The London-based Redfield & Wilton Strategies international survey research firm tested electorates in several American states at the end of August, and today we look at their Ohio results. With a major open Senate campaign and a Republican governor seeking re-election in 2022, the Buckeye State is once again a national political focal point for the coming political year.

Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan announces his candidacy for the 2020 Presidential Election on the TV talk show, “The View.”

The Redfield & Wilton poll (Aug. 20-24; 1,200 likely Ohio voters) finds the Republican Senate candidates performing adequately opposite US Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown), who, at this early stage, has become the Democrats’ consensus statewide Senate contender.

Former state treasurer and 2012 US Senate candidate Josh Mandel (R) holds a 51-47 percent ballot test lead over Rep. Ryan within the sample segment who are self-identified as likely 2022 general election voters. Author J.D. Vance (R) largely falls into a dead heat with Ryan, trailing 37-36 percent, as does former Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken who places within two points of the congressman, 38-36 percent.

In the governor’s race, incumbent Republican Mike DeWine, who former Rep. Jim Renacci is challenging in the GOP primary from the ideological right, looks to be in strong shape against potential Democratic opponents. If Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley were the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, Gov. DeWine would post a 46-27 percent advantage. Should Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley become the Democratic nominee, he would trail the governor by a slightly larger 47-25 percent spread.

Generally, the Ohio polling pattern leans Democratic in the early going and then closes in the Republican candidates’ favor, while consistently understating GOP strength.

In the 2020 presidential election, Ohio polls in July of the election year were returning Joe Biden leads of 4-8 percentage points before former President Trump would rebound to score a mean average 1.0 percent polling lead close to election day, and then win the state going away with an eight-point margin, 53-45 percent. In 2016, the pattern was similar. In the July-September period, Hillary Clinton held leads of between 4 and 7 percentage points only to see the average favor Trump by a 2.2 percent spread. He would win the state 51-43 percent.

The same pattern occurred for Sen. Rob Portman (R) in 2016 and was present to a degree against Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) in 2018. In June through September of that year, certain polls found former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) leading incumbent Portman with a 3-6 point edge. As the race closed, Sen. Portman established an average 18-point lead and won 58-37 percent.

Even in a Democratic victory, the polling trend favoring Democrats early and then closing for the GOP toward election day was again present. During June-September of 2018, Sen. Brown held leads between 13-17 points. Going into the election, his polling average had slipped to 11 points, and he only won with a 6.4 percent margin.

Keeping this pattern in mind and then looking at the underlying Biden job approval numbers in the R&W poll suggests that even today, the GOP candidates are poised for a stronger finish than the current results yield. Overall, the Redfield & Wilton figures point to a 40:46 percent favorable to unfavorable presidential approval ratio for Biden, which isn’t particularly bad particularly in a state that the subject did not win. The underlying numbers, however, point to a much greater negative.

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