Category Archives: Governor

A Curiously Conflicting Georgia Poll

By Jim Ellis

“The negative driver for this [Georgia poll] appears to be President Biden.”

Feb. 1, 2022 — The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) released one of their regular Georgia statewide polls that the School of Public and International Affairs from the University of Georgia administers (Jan. 13-24; 872 registered Georgia voters, live interview) and the results reflect an electorate with some conflicting views.

While President Biden’s job approval ratio has taken a steep dive since the news entity’s May 2021 survey was published, and the right track/wrong track question is heavily lopsided toward the negative, the current statewide office holders and even the state legislature land in the positive approval realm. Yet, in the accompanying ballot test numbers, the tested Democratic officials are trailing despite brandishing the relatively positive approval ratios.

President Biden now records a combined 34:61 percent favorable to unfavorable index (13 percent strongly approve; 21 percent somewhat approve; 11 percent somewhat disapprove; 50 percent strongly disapprove), which is a huge net reduction of 32 percentage points from his combined 51:46 percent score in May (28 percent strongly approve; 23 percent somewhat approve; 9 percent somewhat disapprove; 37 percent strongly disapprove).

In the new January poll, the respondents believe, in a very poor 17:71 percent ratio, that the country is on the wrong track. They also feel Georgia is headed in the wrong direction, but with less intensity, 34:48 percent negative. The May AJC poll, with a shorter questionnaire, did not ask similar track questions.

The sense of the nation figures in the January study, however, also seem inconsistent with how these same respondents rate their elected federal officials. Sens. Raphael Warnock (D) and Jon Ossoff (D) record 44:35 percent and 43:35 percent positive ratios, respectively. This tells us that the sampling universe members don’t hold their senators particularly responsible for the country being on the perceived wrong track.

In another inconsistency, the senator who is on the 2022 ballot, Rev. Warnock, actually trails his prospective general election opponent, former Georgia and NFL football star Herschel Walker (R), despite the positive job approval sentiment. In this AJC poll, Walker holds a 47-44 percent lead. This latter finding is also consistent with a recent Quinnipiac University study (Jan. 19-24; 1,702 registered Georgia voters, live interview) that gave the challenger an edge, but with a smaller 49-48 percent split.

The governor’s numbers show a similar inconsistency. In Gov. Brian Kemp’s (R) case, while the state is viewed as headed in the wrong direction, the chief executive does not appear to be shouldering an excessive amount of blame. His job approval lies in the positive realm at 49:43 percent favorable to unfavorable. Paired with his likely general election opponent, 2018 gubernatorial nominee and former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D), Kemp leads 48-41 percent.

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Gov. DeWine’s Primary Trouble

By Jim Ellis

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R)

Jan. 28, 2022 — The Ohio Republican gubernatorial race has been rather quiet to this point, but it appears the May 3 primary is beginning to get interesting.

A Fabrizio Lee research firm survey (Jan. 11-13; 800 Ohio Republican primary voters and Independents who choose to vote in the Republican primary, live interview) finds Ohio GOP Gov. Mike DeWine, one of the leading 2020 COVID shutdown governors, in trouble for re-nomination against his Republican primary opponent, former Congressman Jim Renacci.

According to the poll results, Renacci would top Gov. DeWine in his quest for re-nomination by a relatively substantial 46-38 percent margin. The governor falling under 40 percent among a voting sample within his own party is certainly a warning sign. It appears what was thought to be a relatively minor primary challenge is transforming into a highly competitive contest.

Earlier in the month, the Harris Poll (Jan. 4; 1,146 likely Ohio Republican primary voters, online) tested the Ohio primary and found the two contenders tied at 42 percent, possibly the first public tangible indication of the incumbent’s weakness within his own party.

Of Renacci’s 46 percent support in the Fabrizio Lee study, 22 of the 46 said they would “definitely” vote for the GOP intra-party challenger. Another 19 percent said they would “probably” back him, with the final five percent saying they are “leaning” toward the former congressman. Turning to DeWine’s supporters, 20 percent of his 38 percent said they would “definitely” vote for the governor, 16 percent retorted “probably” so, with the final two percent indicating they are “leaning” toward the incumbent.

Furthermore, Gov. DeWine’s score on the accompanying re-elect question is troublesome for any incumbent. A total of 33 percent from his own party said “I will definitely vote against Mike DeWine for governor regardless of who runs against him in the Republican primary” as compared to just 14 percent of Republicans and Republican voting Independents who said “I will definitely vote to re-elect Mike DeWine for governor, regardless of who runs against him in the Republican primary.”

Looking at the extremes on such a question is telling, and the fact that DeWine sees his opponent’s hard-core supporters more than doubling the number of his own strong backers is a major warning sign indicating that he could face losing the party nomination if this pattern is verified and continues.

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Texas 2022 Candidate Filing Closes

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 17, 2021 — Texas became the first state to see candidate filing close for the 2022 elections, so the campaign season has officially been launched.

In the Lone Star State, candidates file with their respective state party organizations, or county parties if their race is fully contained within one entity, and not the Secretary of State. Therefore, the filings might not yet be fully recorded and approved. The statewide primary is scheduled for March 1. If no candidate for whatever office does not receive majority support in the first election, a runoff between the top two finishers will occur on May 24.

What we know so far is that Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will face a significant Republican primary challenge from former Florida congressman and ex-Texas Republican Party chairman Allen West and former Dallas state Sen. Don Huffines. The latter man, who was defeated for re-election in 2018, has the ability to self-fund a statewide primary campaign. Former congressman and 2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke will be the Democratic nominee as he faces only minor opposition in the party primary.

Regardless of the level of competition, Gov. Abbott, though his approval ratings are at a low ebb in his seven-year career as the state’s chief executive, is a heavy favorite in both the Republican primary and the 2022 general election.

The main constitutional office of interest is the attorney general’s race. Here, embattled incumbent Ken Paxton (R), who has for years been under a federal SEC indictment that has yet to move forward, and who has been publicly accused of having an ongoing extra-marital affair, faces three strong candidates for re-nomination: State Land Commissioner George P. Bush, US Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tyler), and state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman.

Though Paxton has personal and legal problems, his favorability ratings among Republican primary voters is still surprisingly high. Forcing the two-term attorney general into a runoff election, however, is a clear possibility.

With the state having no Senate race in 2022, the federal focus turns to the new 38-member US House delegation. Texas gained two seats in national reapportionment, thus increasing their delegation size from 36 to 38 seats. The state will wield 40 electoral votes in the next presidential election, second only to California’s reduced 54.

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Perdue to Challenge Kemp in Georgia

By Jim Ellis

Former US Sen. David Perdue (R-GA)

Dec. 7, 2021 — Something that has been rumored about and speculated upon for weeks has finally come to fruition. Defeated Sen. David Perdue has formally announced that he will challenge Gov. Brian Kemp in next year’s Republican primary.

The serious primary challenge is part of the aftermath from the 2020 election controversy where Gov. Kemp’s perceived handling of the voter fraud complaints and challenges left a significant portion of the Republican base expressing discontent. Former President Donald Trump has many times attacked Kemp on the subject and is one of the key people behind Perdue’s fledgling gubernatorial candidacy. Trump is expected to play a large role in the primary.

Georgia Gov Brian Kemp

Sen. Perdue lost his seat in the 2020 post-general runoff to Jon Ossoff (D) by a 50.6 – 49.4 percent count (54,944 votes of a total turnout of 4.48 million) after placing first in the general election by almost two full percentage points. Georgia has a majority victory rule, however, that requires all candidates to win their elections with more than 50 percent. In the November vote, Sen. Perdue fell just one-quarter percent short of securing outright victory.

One of the reasons he lost is the state’s strongest Republican counties didn’t perform in the runoff as strongly as did the best Democratic counties. Many Republicans, it is believed, did not return for the runoff because they listened to some of the key Trump leaders, including the former president himself, argue that the Georgia election system is “rigged.”

Gov. Kemp was elected in 2018, winning the primary largely because he positioned himself far to the right, thus successfully appealing to the ardent Trump Republican voter. After moderating for the general election campaign, Kemp defeated former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D) by just 54,723 votes, an almost identical number to the difference between the Ossoff-Perdue election two years later. She, like Trump, challenged the election results.

The relationship between Gov. Kemp and Trump first became strained when the former disregarded the latter’s endorsed candidate for the US Senate appointment: then-Rep. Doug Collins who was in the running to replace resigned Sen. Johnny Isakson. The three-term senator, former House member and state legislative leader, was forced to leave office for health reasons, thus allowing the governor to appoint an interim successor.

Instead of Collins, Gov. Kemp chose billionaire businesswoman Kelly Loeffler, who would go onto lose her special election runoff campaign to current Sen. Raphael Warnock (D).

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Rep. Suozzi Announces for
New York Governor

Long Island US Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove)

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 1, 2021 — Turning down NYC Mayor-Elect Eric Adams’ offer of becoming one of the city’s deputy mayors, Long Island US Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) instead announced Monday that he is joining the fast-growing Democratic primary for governor.

Already in the statewide race is the new incumbent, Gov. Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Tish James, and NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. On the Republican side, Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) is clearly the leading candidate for his party’s gubernatorial nomination, having already clinched the official New York Republican Party endorsement.

This is not the first time Suozzi has run for governor. In the 2006 Democratic primary, ill-fated, then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer crushed Suozzi, 82-18 percent.

The Suozzi strategy is to take advantage of a crowded Democratic field where the other participants are all campaigning to the left. Therefore, he is calling himself the “moderate, common sense Democrat.” In a plurality election, his strategy has a chance of being successful, but the bigger question may revolve around whether he will have adequate resources to effectively communicate his message to a statewide electorate in order to develop such a fractured winning coalition.

With Rep. Suozzi foregoing re-election, it creates an additional open Democratic US House seat, a number that has grown significantly in the past two weeks, and also potentially alters the New York redistricting process.

Suozzi was first elected to the House in 2016 and twice re-elected, but failed to reach 60 percent in any of his congressional campaigns. Prior to his service in Congress, Suozzi held the Nassau County Executive position for two terms but was defeated when trying for a third. Four years later, in 2013, trying to regain his lost position, Suozzi was again defeated, this time by a strong 59-41 percent margin. Before winning his countywide position, Suozzi was twice elected as mayor of his hometown of Glen Cove, NY.

Suozzi’s 3rd Congressional District sits in Long Island’s center-west sector, hugging the north shore. The four districts that are self-contained on Long Island are a combined 148,780 people short of meeting the per-district population quota of 776,971 individuals in each of the state’s 26 congressional districts.

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