Category Archives: Governor

Examining California
Gov. Newsom’s Vulnerabilities

By Jim Ellis

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D)

May 13, 2021 — The University of California at Berkeley’s Institute for Governmental Studies released another of its periodic polls this week, and while it finds Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) surviving the upcoming recall election it also identifies areas of underlying weakness.

According to the survey (April 29-May 5; 10,289 registered California voters with questions asked in English and Spanish, online), Gov. Newsom would win the impending recall vote as 49 percent of the respondents said they would vote to retain him in office and 36 percent support removal. Regarding his job approval and performance on certain issues, however, the poll identifies what could possibly become an opponent’s path to victory.

The Cal-Berkeley result is very similar to another poll conducted within the same time period. Survey USA went into the field during the April 30 – May 2 time segment and interviewed 750 California registered voters of which 642 were identified as likely to vote in the gubernatorial recall election. S-USA found the sampling universe broke 47-36 percent in favor of Gov. Newsom remaining in office, almost identical to Cal-Berkeley’s tally from their much larger online sample.

Cal-Berkeley delved deeper into how the respondent sample was viewing the governor’s job performance and his standing within the electorate, and its results suggest that a focused opposition campaign could yield a close outcome.

Perhaps most troubling to the Newsom strategy team is the question that tested enthusiasm within the electorate. While Democrats were breaking 75-8 percent to retain the governor, the enthusiasm metric showed that only 36 percent of them have a high interest in the election. Another 30 percent fell into a moderate interest level, and 34 percent of the self-identified Democratic voter base said they had little or no interest.

Republicans, on the other hand, registered a 75 percent high interest level, suggesting that their turnout for the eventual election will be much greater. Though Democrats hold a large 46-24 percent party registration advantage, the interest level suggests the eventual election result could fall into a closer range. Among GOP voters, the governor would be ousted in a whopping 85-8 percent margin.

Those registering under the No Party Preference category, who account for another 24 percent of the California voting universe, would retain the governor with a 45-33 percent margin, while the six percent who identify with a minor party break 48-29 percent for removal.

Overall, Gov. Newsom’s job performance improved from Cal-Berkeley’s late January poll and stands at a 52:43 percent positive to negative ratio. In January, the performance ratio was an upside-down 46:48 percent. This is largely due to improvement regarding his handling of the Coronavirus issue, as 45 percent rate his performance as excellent or good, while 35 percent say poor or very poor. Another 16 percent gave him a fair rating, which on this poll seems to indicate a moderate support level as opposed to leaning in a negative direction as some other pollsters characterize the term.

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Youngkin Wins VA GOP Nomination

By Jim Ellis

Glenn Youngkin officially captured the Virginia Republican gubernatorial nomination earlier this week.

May 12, 2021 — Glenn Youngkin officially captured the Virginia Republican gubernatorial nomination earlier this week on the second day of ranked choice vote counting.

Early in the sixth tabulation round the other remaining participant from the original field of seven, businessman Pete Snyder, conceded the nomination when state Sen. Amanda Chase’s (R-Midlothian) second choice votes began to be dispersed. Chase was eliminated from further competition after the fifth round, finishing third overall.

Youngkin led in all the voting rounds, and even as early as the end of round two little evidence surfaced to suggest anything would occur through the ranking process to deny him winning the gubernatorial nomination.

The international investment executive, who, like Snyder, spent several million dollars to advertise around the state on electronic media for a closed convention with a universe of 53,000-plus delegates, will very likely face former governor and ex-Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe once the traditional Democratic primary concludes on June 8.

Understanding the voting trends from the past several elections, McAuliffe, assuming he is nominated in the party primary where he has consistently appeared as the prohibitive favorite, will begin the general election campaign with a major advantage.

Though more than 53,000 people had registered as delegates, the actual turnout was considerably less. Due to the manner in which votes are being reported and the weighting formula governing the ballots, the raw number of people attending the drive-thru formatted convention is not obvious. Only 12,557 weighted votes were reported.

Using a ranked choice voting system where individuals tiered their gubernatorial choices from 1-7, the participants’ tallies were then weighted by unit. According to the official party statement, each unit has a fixed number of delegate votes. The formula to determine each candidate’s weighted vote is the number of ballots received divided by the total ballots cast and then multiplied by the number of assigned delegate votes to the particular unit.

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Crist Announces for Governor

Florida Rep. Charlie Crist

By Jim Ellis

May 6, 2021 — US representative and former Florida governor, Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg), announced this week that he will again run for the state’s top elected post, which appears to be influencing an interesting series of political maneuvers.

His candidacy declaration video, which included attacking incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) as “a governor that’s only focused on his future and not yours” – an interesting line of attack for a person who has run 11 times for six different offices under three political party designations over a span of 28 years – spurred the Republican governor and potential Democratic opponents to respond.

Answering a reporter’s question about Crist’s candidacy, Gov. DeSantis retorted as noted in the Tampa Bay Times, “which party is he going to run under? Do we even know for sure? He has run as a Republican, lost; independent, lost; Democrat lost. But now I see he’s voting with (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi 100 percent of the time, he could probably give it a run for the Green Party in San Francisco,” the governor concluded.

State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D) made several statements indicating that she is highly likely to enter the governor’s race but would do so at a still unspecified time. She also said that Rep. Crist should remain in Congress, “where his voice is needed.”

US Rep. Val Demings (D-Orlando), another potential gubernatorial candidate, also released her own video message this week extolling her career and ideals. The video did not specify that she would declare for governor since her congressional campaign committee paid for the production. The release timing, however, suggests that her intention is to eventually enter the governor’s race.

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Rep. Zeldin Declares for Governor

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley)

April 12, 2021 — Long Island US Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) announced late last week that he will run for governor next year in hopes of facing beleaguered New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). The move appears to be a risky one in that Zeldin would be jettisoning a relatively safe Republican congressional seat that is almost redistricting proof for a statewide race in very unfriendly political territory for his party.

Should Gov. Cuomo survive the impeachment offensive against him and seek and win re-nomination, then Zeldin would be in position to wage a competitive challenge campaign. Against any other Democrat, however, the pendulum undeniably swings back to the left.

Rep. Zeldin’s 1st Congressional District is essentially secure under almost any potential redistricting map because water borders the far eastern Long Island seat on three sides. Therefore, the only way the district can move is west meaning the core constituency remains intact. Of course, a lot depends upon whether New York loses one or two seats in reapportionment.

The only way to fundamentally change the 1st is to cut Districts 1 and 2 (Rep. Andrew Garbarino; R-Sayville/Islip) horizontally but doing so could conceivably make Democratic Reps. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) and Kathleen Rice’s (D-Garden City) districts more Republican. Irrespective of what occurs with redistricting, Rep. Zeldin is likely risking a relatively secure political future in what possibly becomes a Republican controlled House of Representatives.

The Zeldin announcement, however, doesn’t mean he, or any other potential candidate, couldn’t change their minds. Candidate filing in New York for the 2022 election cycle will be set for April of next year prior to the June primary, and the region’s politics will change a great deal during the time interval between now and then.

At this point, the Cuomo situation seems to have stabilized. No longer are we seeing daily announcements of different women coming forward to accuse the governor of inappropriate sexual oriented behavior. Furthermore, the investigation into the COVID-related nursing home deaths, a more serious situation than the sexual impropriety allegations, will take a long time to unfold.

With the governor steadfastly refusing to resign, the state Assembly has introduced articles of impeachment against him. In the past two weeks, key legislative leaders have said that such a procedure is likely to consume months rather than weeks, so the odds of Cuomo being able to hold on throughout the remainder of the term are increasing.

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Rating Gubernatorial Races, 2021-22

Dr. Larry Sabato’s 2022 Gubernatorial Projection


By Jim Ellis

March 16, 2021 — The University of Virginia’s political prognosticator, Dr. Larry Sabato, released his 2021-22 governors’ race ratings late last week, which appear to be the first in the public domain for the early election cycle.

Currently, Republicans hold a 27-23 advantage in governorships. A total of 38 races are on tap in the 2022 election cycle, two of which will be decided this year (New Jersey; Virginia).

Surprisingly, Dr. Sabato rates the Democrats as completely safe in only one state, Hawaii, while nine Republicans are placed in the commensurate category.

We believe the Democrats are in better position in many of the states, but with a gubernatorial recall election likely to occur in California and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s problems in New York, these two normally secure seats now yield a more uncertain political climate.

Below are the Sabato ratings:


Safe Democratic:

• Hawaii – open – Gov. David Ige (D) term-limited

Expect a crowded and contested Democratic primary in Hawaii with the winner easily claiming the 2022 general election.


Safe Republican:

• Alabama – Gov. Kay Ivey (R) – has not yet committed to a re-election effort
• Arkansas – open – Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) term-limited
• Idaho – Gov. Brad Little (R) is expected to seek re-election
• Nebraska – open – Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) term-limited
• Oklahoma – Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) is seeking re-election
• South Carolina – Gov. Henry McMaster (R) is seeking re-election
• South Dakota – Gov. Kristi Noem (R) is seeking re-election
• Tennessee – Gov. Bill Lee (R) is seeking re-election
• Wyoming – Gov. Mark Gordon (R) is seeking re-election

We are in agreement with all of these ratings.

Republicans are expected to have a competitive open nomination contest in Nebraska.

It appears that former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is the early GOP leader in Arkansas.


Likely Democratic

• California – Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) facing recall election before regular vote
• Colorado – Gov. Jared Polis (D) is seeking re-election
• Connecticut – Gov. Ned Lamont (D) is seeking re-election
• Illinois – Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) is seeking re-election
• Minnesota – Gov. Tim Walz (D) is seeking re-election
• New Jersey – Gov. Phil Murphy (D) is favored for re-election in the 2021 campaign
• New Mexico – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) is seeking re-election
• New York – Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) may be impeached or forced to resign
• Rhode Island – Gov. Dan McKee (D) is seeking election to his first term

At this point, we would move Colorado (Gov. Polis), Connecticut (Gov. Lamont), and Illinois (Gov. Pritzker) into the Safe Democratic category, at least based upon the present campaign status.

California will almost assuredly elect a Democratic governor, but whether that individual is again Gov. Newsom remains a bit of a question mark. The recall effort is likely to qualify later this month which allows the removal election to be scheduled.

New York, once the Cuomo situation is determined, is likely to return to the Safe Democratic column before the 2022 election.

In Rhode Island, new Gov. McKee assumed office after elected Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) resigned to accept her appointment as US Secretary of Commerce. Election year 2022 will feature a competitive Democratic gubernatorial primary, but the party will remain in control regardless of who eventually wins the primary election.
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