Category Archives: Election Analysis

Wisconsin Primary Moving Forward

By Jim Ellis

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers

April 8, 2020 — Whether or not the Wisconsin primary would be held as scheduled took rulings from two Supreme Courts to decide, but we will see voting today throughout the Wolverine State.

The Democratic presidential primary is interesting since the Wisconsin electorate will be the first to vote post-March 17, and so far, becomes the only group to cast ballots during the COVID-19 lockdown situation. How this affects today’s vote in terms of turnout and candidate loyalty will be interesting to analyze.

Whether or not this election would even happen today has been a point of discussion for the past two weeks. Many Democratic strategists were lobbying Gov. Tony Evers, a fellow Democrat, for several days to move the election, but he was slow to act. Late last week, Gov. Evers decided to ask the legislature to pass a bill changing the election date, but the Republican majority leadership in the two chambers refused. Gov. Evers then made a last-ditch effort to declare a state of emergency and attempted to move the election.

The latter action drew the Republican leadership’s ire, and they immediately petitioned the state Supreme Court arguing that the governor has no power to arbitrarily move an election. They also went to the US Supreme Court attempting to get a lower-court ruling to extend the absentee ballot return deadline past the original election schedule countermanded.

At the heart of the election date becoming a political football was not the presidential race, but rather an important state Supreme Court election. Though the race is ostensibly nonpartisan, it is clear that Democrats believe chances for the candidate they are backing improve in a later election, while Republicans think the appointed incumbent they support fares better in a quicker, and presumably lower turnout contest.

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GA Poll: Senate/Trump

By Jim Ellis

Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) in serious political trouble

April 7, 2020 — The Battleground Connect consulting firm that predominately polls for Republican clients in the South again surveyed the impending Georgia special Senate election as they did on March 24, but this time added questions about the presidential race.

The survey data (March 31-April 1; 1,03 likely Georgia general election voters, live interviews) confirm the previous results that found appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) languishing in deep political trouble presumably because of her highly publicized stock transactions reportedly executed after receiving Senate COVID-19 briefings. Much of this poll’s analytical coverage, however, highlights that President Trump leads former vice president Joe Biden only by two percentage points in one of his must-win states.

The Senate numbers show some changes from Battleground’s last poll conducted on March 24. Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) continues to hold first place and increases his support by two points to 36 percent in the jungle primary. Rev. Raphael Warnock (D), who the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has already endorsed, moves into second place (16 percent) but remains a full 20 points behind the leader.

Sen. Loeffler pulls just 13 percent preference while Atlanta businessman Matt Lieberman, son of former Connecticut senator and 2000 vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman who was in second position in the last poll, drops to 11 percent. Former US Attorney Ed Tarver (D) then falls to just three percent preference.

In the presidential race, President Trump leads Biden 48-46 percent. Trump’s favorability index is the same as the ballot test, 48:46 percent favorable to unfavorable. Biden’s favorability was not tested, but Rep. Collins posted a 35:29 percent positive ratio while Gov. Brian Kemp (R) recorded a relatively strong 50:32 percent. Sen. Loeffler, on the other hand, notched a very poor 20:55 percent, thus providing further statistical evidence of the appointed incumbent’s recent severe downward trend.

The president’s numbers are not particularly surprising even though some analysts are pointing out that his small margin is a warning sign toward potentially losing the state in the fall. Looking back to 2016, however, suggests that a two-point lead seven months before the general election in a southern state where Republicans typically under-poll tracks with where Trump found himself at a commensurate time four years ago.

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Will Michigan & Wisconsin Voters Determine 2020 Presidential Election?

By Jim Ellis

April 6, 2020 — Polls were just released in both Michigan and Wisconsin, obviously two critically important states that will weigh heavily in determining the final outcome of the next presidential election. While it’s too early to take any general election poll as a true projection of what may happen in November, particularly in light of the current unique situation, the survey did reveal some interesting points.

Progress Michigan’s Lake Effect newsletter: “The governors’ approval ratings pertaining to the [coronavirus] crisis are better than those of the president.”

Public Policy Polling tested the Michigan electorate for the Progress Michigan progressive left organization (March 31-April 1; 1,01 registered Michigan voters) and Marquette Law School just completed their quarterly survey of Wisconsin voters (March 24-29; 81 registered Wisconsin voters). Both made public their results.

We won’t pay too much attention to the ballot tests because it is so far away from the actual vote and the political situation is obviously going to change during the coming months, but the two pollsters found President Trump and former vice president Joe Biden within the margin of error in each state. In both cases, it was Biden who enjoyed a three-point lead.

Within this prism, it is important to recall the 2016 race in which polling badly underestimated Trump’s strength against Hillary Clinton in these two places. According to the 270 To Win organization, which tracked polling throughout that election year, the final averages going into the final weekend found Trump trailing by six points in Michigan and seven in Wisconsin. He won each state by approximately one percentage point, thus proving a large error factor in virtually all of the late polling.

A post-election analysis in which the Pew Research Center and CNN participated, among other firms and media outlets, concluded that a major reason for the flawed projections were the much larger number of Democrats willing to respond to the polling questions than Republicans. Even understanding this was the case at the time, the pollsters’ weighting formulas and algorithms still badly missed the mark throughout the crucial Great Lakes region.

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New Jersey Files

By Jim Ellis

New Jersey congressional districts

April 3, 2020 — In the election two years ago, Democrats nearly swept all 12 of the Garden State’s congressional districts leaving only veteran Rep. Chris Smith (R-Hamilton) standing, a man originally elected in 1980. With this cumulative result, New Jersey became one of the lynchpins of the House Democratic sweep that yielded a net gain of 40 seats nationally.

The Democratic “blue wave” included defeating two sitting Republican incumbents, then-Reps. Tom MacArthur and Leonard Lance, and converting two more open seats, those from which Reps. Frank LoBiondo and Rodney Frelinghuysen retired. Now, the GOP strives to make a comeback.

New Jersey congressional candidates completed their filings earlier this week, thus giving us an introduction as to who will become party nominees in the June 2 primary. The state is again shaping up as one of the most important within the US House election prism.

Since the election, former Democratic state senator Jeff Van Drew, who was elected to replace retiring Rep. LoBiondo in the Atlantic City/Cape May CD, decided to switch parties largely because of the way the Democratic leadership ostracized him for opposing President Trump’s impeachment.

Additionally, the state Republican leadership has maneuvered well, convincing two credible candidates willing to oppose strong Republicans to turn their attention toward Democratic incumbents in nearby districts. This puts more seats in play and unifies the minority party behind all of the viable candidates they are putting forth.

Looking ahead, Reps. Donald Norcross (D-Camden City), Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch/Perth Amboy), Albio Sires (D-West New York), Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson), Donald Payne Jr. (D-Newark), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing Township/Trenton) are secure for re-election.

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Reviewing the House Vacancies

By Jim Ellis

April 2, 2020 — With the COVID-19 virus playing havoc with virtually every aspect of American life, including elections, how are the House vacant seats being affected?

North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows (R-Skyland/Buncombe County) resigned from Congress Monday night to become White House Chief of Staff, which brings the total number of vacancies to a half-dozen. Special elections are scheduled in four of those, with three to be decided on or before May 12.

Originally, the special elections in Maryland and New York were supposed to be the first to go to the voters, but the COVID-19 precautions changed the date of the New York election and the voting system in Maryland. Former Rep. Kweisi Mfume, who easily won the crowded Democratic primary on Feb. 7, will win the special general on April 28 but the process now becomes all-mail. The Republican nominee is event planner Ken Klacik, but this Baltimore city district and surrounding area will easily remain in Democratic hands. We can expect Mfume to break 75 percent of the vote.

The former congressman was elected to five terms in the House beginning with the 1986 election. He resigned to become president and CEO of the NAACP in 1996. Mfume served in that position until running unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2006, losing the Democratic primary to then-congressman, Ben Cardin. Then-state Delegate Elijah Cummings replaced Mfume in the House at that time and served until his death in October. Now, ironically, Mfume returns to replace the late Rep. Cummings.

California’s 25th District, which begins in the state’s Simi Valley and stretches to the Palmdale area, potentially features the hottest of the current special elections. Rep. Katie Hill (D) resigned the seat because of a sexual scandal leading to a multi-candidate concurrent special and regular election.

Democratic state Assemblywoman Christy Smith topped the field on March 3, and she advances to the special election runoff on May 12 with Iraq War fighter pilot Mike Garcia (R). The latter individual placed ahead of, and eliminated, former US Rep. Steve Knight (R) who was attempting a political comeback after losing to Hill in 2018. Polling is projecting a tight finish. Regardless of what happens on May 12, both Smith and Garcia are advancing to the regular general election to battle for the full term beginning in 2021. The May 12 winner is immediately sworn into the House and serves the remaining part of the current congressional session.

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Early Clues for Dems’ Early Targets

By Jim Ellis

April 1, 2020 — The Senate Majority PAC, one of the chief advocacy entities for Democratic candidates, has reserved media time totaling $69.2 million from August through the election, as reported on the Daily Kos Elections website. The expenditures provide us some clues into how the Democratic establishment and their progressive left allies view their strategic attack points in relation to the national political landscape.

The early media time reservations are invested in five states: Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Maine, and North Carolina. This is certainly not the limit of the SMP planned expenditures, nor is the organization likely committed to fulfilling the entirety of this time buy without having negotiated an escape clause. All depends upon their agreements with the individual television outlets and does not include any future expenditure the group may make for radio and digital advertising.

Setting the stage, the five states are all clearly top-tier Republican-held targets of which the Democrats would have to convert nearly all in order to wrest Senate control away from the current majority. That number grows if they fail to defend their own vulnerable seats in either Alabama or Michigan, or both.

The largest time reservation is in North Carolina, where Democrats hope newly nominated Cal Cunningham, a former state senator and 2010 US Senate candidate (lost Democratic nomination to then-secretary of state Elaine Marshall who would lose the general election to GOP Sen. Richard Burr), can unseat first-term incumbent Thom Tillis (R) in a state that has defeated more senators than any other in the modern political era. Of the $69.2 million in national reservations the group made, $25.6 million is dedicated to North Carolina media markets.

Arizona gets the second largest share with $15.7 million dedicated toward helping retired astronaut Mark Kelly, already the consensus Democratic candidate, challenge appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R). Iowa, where Democrats will nominate a candidate on June 2 to challenge first-term Sen. Joni Ernst (R), will see $13.1 million of the SMP media buy. Maine gets $9.6 million to oppose Sen. Susan Collins (R), and Colorado $5.2 million largely for negative ads against first-term Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

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Collins Way Up in Georgia Senate Race

Georgia Rep. Doug Collins – surging ahead?

By Jim Ellis

March 31, 2020 — A new Battleground Connect tracking poll of the Georgia Senate special election race finds Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) beginning to pull away from the jungle primary field. According to their one-night flash poll (March 24; 1,025 likely Georgia jungle primary voters held concurrently with the Nov. 3 general election), Collins has opened up a 16-point advantage over the top Democrat and expands to a full 20-point margin over appointed incumbent Kelly Loeffler (R). The Battleground Connect survey finds Collins recording 34 percent support followed by businessman Matt Lieberman (D), son of former Connecticut senator and 2000 Democratic vice-presidential nominee Joe Lieberman, with 18 percent and Sen. Loeffler only posting 14 percent preference. The remaining candidates, Baptist minister Raphael Warnock (D) and former US attorney Ed Tarver (D) record 13 and 5 percent, respectively.

This latest track is one of four March polls that Battleground conducted. All had 1,025 respondent sampling universes and each were one-night surveys. In their first poll, conducted on March 7, Rep. Collins’ margin over Sen. Loeffler was 29-20 percent, with Democrats Lieberman, Warnock, and Tarver trailing consecutively with 16, 12, and 5 percentage point support. Since that time, there has been a net 11-point drop in support for Loeffler vis-à-vis her position against Rep. Collins.

Additionally, Sen. Loeffler’s personal favorability index has also dropped precipitously throughout the survey series. Originally, the March 7 poll found that 38.5 percent of the Georgia electorate had a positive opinion of the appointed senator while virtually the same number held a negative impression (37.8 percent). The latest March 24 poll produced a much different finding.

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