Category Archives: Governor

Poll: Newsom in Trouble

By Jim Ellis

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D)

July 30, 2021 — The University of California at Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies released their latest Golden State survey that finds Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) strength in the upcoming recall election dissipating.

According to UC Berkeley, among likely voters, 47 percent would vote to recall Gov. Newsom and 50 percent would not, clearly the closest ballot test result seen to date. The recall election is scheduled for Sept. 14, and voters will first choose whether to remove the governor from office before choosing a replacement among 46 ballot qualified candidates. The replacement candidates’ votes count only if a majority supports removing the subject from office, in this case Gov. Newsom.

The Berkeley poll (July 18-24; 5,795 registered California voters; 3,266 likely California recall election voters, online) finds Newsom in trouble only among likely voters, those screened as almost certain to participate in the recall election. Within the entire polling sample, he returns to safe territory as the respondents break only 36-51 percent for removing him from office.

The major difference is partisanship. The parties, as one might guess, break in polarized fashion. A total of 91 percent of Democrats would vote against the recall while 95 percent of Republicans favor removal.

The independent and minor party sectors become interesting, however. Among the large No Party Preference group, 46 percent would vote to recall Newsom and 50 percent would not. The combined minor parties, which only account for approximately six percent of the electorate are breaking hard for the recall position. Within the minor party segment, 68 percent would vote to remove as compared to only 30 percent supporting the retain option.

Among Republicans, 90 percent say they are enthusiastic about the election, while 58 percent of Democrats say the same. Among the substantial segment in the “No Party Preference” or independent category, 53 percent say they are enthusiastic.

The polling analysis suggests that the governor’s fundamental problem is that Democrats are “almost unanimous” in their belief that he will win the recall election. This substantially explains the Democrats’ lack of solid enthusiasm for the irregular Sept. 14 stand-alone election.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

SCOTUS Rules; Calif. Recall Scheduled

Current US Supreme Court

By Jim Ellis

July 6, 2021 — On their last day of the year’s early session last week, a Thursday, the Supreme Court of the United States issued rulings on the Arizona voting rights case and the California non-profit organization disclosure lawsuit.

In the Democratic National Committee v. Brnovich, the Supreme Court with Justice Samuel Alito writing for the 6-3 majority, ruled that the state of Arizona did not infringe upon minority voting rights or violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act in both prohibiting ballot harvesting with certain exceptions, and not counting provisional ballots cast from voters who do not reside in the particular precinct that the polling place covers.

The high court agreed with Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s (R) arguments that the laws are not racially motivated, nor do they intentionally discriminate against certain segments of the voting population, thus overturning the full 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.

Originally in 2016, Brnovich won at the district court level and on the first appeal to a three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit. The DNC requested an en banc review of the original appellate ruling that agreed with Brnovich, and the entire 9th Circuit membership overturned the decision, siding with the plaintiff. At that point, AG Brnovich petitioned the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case. (Hearing cases en banc allows the full circuit court to overturn a decision reached by a three–judge panel. Due to the decreasing probability of U.S. Supreme Court intervention, the circuit court is often the court of last resort in the ordinary life of a case, thereby amplifying the importance of en banc review.)

In his ruling, Justice Alito stated that “every voting rule imposes a burden of some sort,” and that “mere inconvenience cannot be enough to demonstrate a violation of Section 2.” He also cautioned that, “what are at bottom very small differences should not be artificially magnified.”

While agreeing that holding free and open elections is a “valid and important state interest,” he also addressed the voter fraud argument, clearly stating that attempting to prevent such abuses is also a “strong and entirely legitimate state interest.”

In her article discussing these rulings, Supreme Court expert Amy Howe, in her Howe on the Court article that was published on the SCOTUS blog, offered that the Brnovich ruling “will make it more difficult to contest election regulations under the Voting Rights Act,” and thus likely means fewer voting rights cases coming through the courts. She further categorized this decision as a “major ruling.”

Continue reading

Where DeSantis Stands

By Jim Ellis

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R)

June 29, 2021 — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has been a hot political property of late, and no less than three political pollsters were in the field during late June to test his popularity in several scenarios.

Two of the firms, Echelon Insights and McLaughlin & Associates, tested Gov. DeSantis nationally in anticipation of a possible presidential run in 2024, while the Political Matrix/Listener Group surveyed the more timely Sunshine State 2022 governor’s race.

From the interactive voice response system poll released late last week, Political Matrix/Listener Group, on June 21, surveyed a total of 716 Florida likely voters who have a gubernatorial preference. They found DeSantis faring well against both announced Democratic gubernatorial candidates.

If US representative and former governor, Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg), were his 2022 general election Democratic opponent, Gov. DeSantis would hold a 55-45 percent advantage. Opposite state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D), Florida’s only Democratic statewide elected office holder, the DeSantis margin would expand to a huge 61-39 percent spread; this, in a state where Republicans consistently perform a few points better than polling numbers typically predict.

The other two survey research firms tested Gov. DeSantis against a large number of commonly viewed ’24 GOP presidential prospects. Echelon Insights (June 18-22; 1,001 registered US voters, online from representative sample of registered voters) finds the governor topping the field of 19 named potential candidates within the 386 Republican primary voters segment with a 21 percent support figure, which is seven points higher than the former vice president, Mike Pence.

Donald Trump, Jr. posted seven percent, one point ahead of ex-UN Ambassador and former South Carolina governor, Nikki Haley, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) who both followed with six percent apiece. This group of five are the only potential contenders exceeding five percent preference. Former president, Donald Trump, was not included in the Echelon Republican nomination ballot test.

McLaughlin and Associates (June 16-20; 1,000 likely US voters, 444 GOP likely presidential primary voters) tested a two-tiered national GOP primary vote, one with former President Trump and one without.

If Trump does not run in 2024, McLaughlin, like Echelon, finds Gov. DeSantis to be the leading early candidate. In the field sans the ex-president, Gov. DeSantis places first with 24 percent followed by ex-VP Pence who attracts 19 percent, while Donald Trump, Jr. places third with 15 percent. Sen. Cruz (six percent) is the only other potential candidate who tops five percent of the vote.

Continue reading

Youngkin Within Two of McCauliffe in Virginia Governor’s Campaign

By Jim Ellis

Glenn Youngkin (R), Terry McCauliffe (D), left-to-right, Virginia gubernatorial candidates

June 15, 2021 — A just-released Virginia governor’s campaign survey yields a surprising ballot test result, especially when seeing that the data was collected before last week’s Democratic primary.

WPA Intelligence (WPAi), in their most recent poll for the Glenn Youngkin for Governor campaign (June 2-6; 506 likely Virginia voters, live interview), already finds the Republican gubernatorial nominee climbing to within two percentage points (48-46 percent) of the newly crowned Democratic nominee, former governor, Terry McAuliffe.

While certain elements point to a slight Republican survey skew, it does signal, as other research has, that the 2021 Virginia governor’s race may be tighter than the state’s most recent elections that have definitively favored the Democratic candidates.

Several analysis points need reviewing. First, WPAi is a credible Republican pollster. According to the FiveThirtyEight statistical website pollster rankings, WPA Intelligence has a very respectable 0.8 predictive rating with just a slight 0.7 percent Republican bias factor.

Second, some of the geographic segmentation returns, however, appear a bit too optimistic for the Youngkin team. While the Washington, DC DMA sector breaking 56-39 percent for McAuliffe and the Roanoke/Lynchburg DMA posting a 49-46 percent edge for Youngkin are both wholly believable, the projections for two other segmented regions raise eyebrows.

Youngkin leading 51-44 percent in the Norfolk/Portsmouth/Newport News DMA, which also includes the Virginia Beach area, isn’t particularly consistent with the way the Tidewater region has voted in the most recent elections. Additionally, the same should be said for the Richmond/Petersburg DMA where WPAi sees Youngkin pulling ahead with a 48-44 percent split.

Third, these latter numbers appear too favorable for Youngkin, and particularly so in the Richmond/Petersburg area where the McAuliffe favorability rating in this same poll is 45:40 percent favorable to unfavorable. Conversely, however, if the trend were to continue for these two places and is proven accurate, it would basically signal a return to the voters’ previous electoral pattern. The Virginia historical election matrix was much better for Republicans than the numbers found in elections since the early 2000s.

Continue reading

Dueling Dual Polls

By Jim Ellis

Detroit Police Chief James Craig

June 14, 2021 — We open the week looking at conflicting polls from two Midwestern statewide races. The Michigan Republican Party published a survey that conflicts with earlier data we’ve seen about their state’s gubernatorial race, and the two leading Ohio Republican Senate contenders both released recent surveys that best tell their own campaign story.

In the Wolverine State, the Competitive Edge Research & Communication firm, polling for the Michigan Republican Party (May 26-June 4; 809 likely Michigan voters), projects retired Detroit Police Chief James Craig (R), who is soon expected to announce his bid for governor, leading incumbent Gretchen Whitmer (D) by a spread beyond the polling margin of error, 45-38 percent.

Curiously, the MIGOP leadership also released the ballot test that featured the party’s 2020 and 2018 US Senate nominee, John James. Here, the CERC finds Gov. Whitmer leading James, 50-45 percent. James has not indicated that he is going to enter the gubernatorial race, so it is surprising to see the Republican Party releasing data that puts one of their top political figures in a weaker position. James lost the 2020 Senate race to incumbent Gary Peters (D) by a tight 50-48 percent count.

In May, the Target Insyght survey research company (May 9-11; 800 registered Michigan voters) painted a different picture, forecasting a 48-42 percent lead for Gov. Whitmer over Craig and 49-39 percent against James.

The difference could be attributed to James retiring as chief of police after the TI poll was conducted and before the CERC survey was taken. Former chief Craig is a well-known and popular figure in Detroit, and the accolades given him for his tenure could certainly have helped his polling data at least on a short-term basis.

Additionally, Gov. Whitmer has been caught in several inconsistencies regarding her COVID shutdown policies, which were some of the most drastic in the country. More than once, she was found not following the letter of her own directives for herself and family.

Continue reading

Ciattarelli, McAuliffe Win Respective Primaries for Governor in NJ, VA

Jack Ciattarelli , New Jersey

By Jim Ellis

June 9, 2021 — As expected, former Virginia governor, Terry McAuliffe, and ex-New Jersey state assemblyman, Jack Ciattarelli, won their respective Democratic and Republican primaries for governor last night in the two states holding major 2021 elections.

McAuliffe will face Republican Glenn Youngkin, who was nominated in a May hybrid party convention, while Ciattarelli will challenge Garden State Gov. Phil Murphy (D), who seeks a second term.

Former Virginia governor, Terry McAuliffe

Virginia, which is the only state that limits its governors to one consecutive term, sees McAuliffe, also a former Democratic National Committee chairman, returning to the campaign trail after a break in service. He was governor from 2013-2017, yielding to current Gov. Ralph Northam (D) four years ago. In last night’s vote, McAuliffe captured 62.3 percent of the vote against four challengers including scandal tainted Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax who attracted less than 18,000 votes (3.5 percent) and finished a poor fourth.

When compared to the 2017 Democratic primary, the 2021 cycle turnout lagged. Once the final votes are posted, it will be clear that Democratic participation was down approximately 10 percent from four years ago. This is largely because the governor’s race was not particularly competitive. It has been a foregone conclusion for months that McAuliffe would easily capture the party nomination.

The lieutenant governor’s contest went to state Delegate Hala Ayala (D-Woodbridge) as she defeated fellow state Delegate Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke) 39-25 percent, in a field comprised of six candidates. The attorney general’s race was relatively close and showed weakness for incumbent Mark Herring as he defeated state Delegate Jay Jones (D-Norfolk), 56-43 percent, a poor showing for a two-term incumbent in his own party. The primary result suggests that Herring could find himself in a general election battle with GOP nominee Jason Miyares, a state Delegate from Virginia Beach.

Continue reading