Category Archives: House

Already, an Open Seat

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 17, 2016 — This week also brings us the 2018 election cycle’s first open seat. South Dakota Rep. Kristi Noem (R-AL) announced that she will run for governor in the next election. Incumbent Dennis Daugaard (R) is ineligible to run for a third term under South Dakota election law, so the open seat is guaranteed.

The timing of her announcement, extremely early in the brand new election cycle, directly related to a new South Dakota election law. Beginning today, a new campaign finance initiative, passed by voters last week, takes effect. This will limit to $4,000 the amount an individual or entity can contribute to a South Dakota statewide candidate. By officially declaring herself a candidate Tuesday, Noem can still transfer all $1.9 million remaining in her congressional campaign account to her new gubernatorial campaign committee. Obviously, this will give her a major advantage in preparing for a different statewide run.

The congresswoman can count on drawing tough primary and general election opponents, however. Attorney General Marty Jackley (R) has also indicated his intention to run, and many others are soon likely to follow suit.

We can now expect a spirited battle for the open at-large congressional race, particularly in the Republican primary. Even though this race has almost one and one-half years remaining before any votes are cast, the new 2018 election cycle is apparently already underway.

The GOP Unites

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 16, 2016 — Though the media has obsessed over stories about internal Republican skirmishes for the past four years, the House GOP Conference came together yesterday in a strong show of unity just as the Democrats begin to see division in their own ranks.

In the GOP leadership elections, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) was re-nominated for the House’s top post without opposition, with his re-election bid seconded by the congressional liaison to the incoming Trump Administration, Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY-27).

The other incumbent party leaders, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-23), Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA-1), and Republican Conference chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-5) were also re-elected without opposition, all enjoying at least tacit support from the president-elect.

In the major contested internal battle, Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH-15) claimed the National Republican Congressional Committee chairmanship with a 60 percent victory over Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX-25). Stivers replaces Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR-2), who was ineligible to seek a third term in the position.

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The Uncalled Races

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 15, 2016 — The state of Michigan, in the presidential race, and both CA-7 and CA-49 remain uncalled. The reasons for the long delay in finalizing the tallies are detailed below.

The unofficial final Michigan election totals stand at 2,279,210 for Donald Trump and 2,267,373 for Hillary Clinton, a difference in the Republican’s favor of 11,837 with all votes received and counted. The state has not declared even an unofficial winner because a re-count can still be requested. Under Michigan procedure, elections within a percentage point are not called unless the re-count options are exhausted.

This week, as in virtually every state, the official county canvasses are beginning, in which tabulations in the 83 counties are verified and readied for official certification. Once the numbers are confirmed, the election results will be finalized for all Michigan elections held Nov. 8. Should Trump maintain his lead, his national electoral vote total will swell to 306 versus Hillary Clinton’s 232.

In California, votes are still being received. The Golden State, similar to the procedure used in Washington, allows mailed ballots to be postmarked on Election Day. The other two states that rely totally or heavily on mailed ballots, Oregon and Colorado, require the votes to be received on Election Day. This year, the CA deadline for receiving the ballots was moved, because of the Veterans Day holiday on Nov. 11, to yesterday, Nov. 14.

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The State Picture

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 14, 2016 — While there were no significant weekend changes in the uncalled federal races — Michigan remains outstanding in the presidential race (Trump ahead 47.6 – 47.3 percent there), and and we still have two undecided California congressional campaigns (Rep. Ami Bera, D-CA-7, leads Sheriff Scott Jones 50.6 – 49.4 percent; Rep. Darrell Issa, R-CA-49, has a 51.0 – 49.0 percent advantage over retired Marine Colonel Doug Applegate) — we do have virtually complete state race results.

The legislatures and governors are an important influence at the federal level because in most instances these bodies and officials determine congressional redistricting. With live challenges in Alabama, North Carolina, and Virginia, and a possible re-draw of central Texas this coming year, it is not too early to monitor party strength in the newly elected state legislatures.

As we covered in the post-election report series, Republicans earned at least a net gain of two gubernatorial chairs. They converted governors’ mansions in Missouri (Eric Greitens), New Hampshire (Chris Sununu), and Vermont (Phil Scott), while potentially losing North Carolina (Attorney General Roy Cooper-D leading Gov. Pat McCrory-R, but the race is not officially called).

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More Races Called

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 10, 2016 — As outstanding and absentee votes continue to be tallied, more races are being decided. Yesterday’s biggest development was concluding the year long toss-up battle between New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) and Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) in what proved to be a laboriously slow counting process. With the election dust finally settling, we now see a victory for Gov. Hassan. From more than 707,000 votes cast, her unofficial victory margin appears to be just 716 votes.

Sen. Ayotte’s loss means the Republican majority margin will likely end at 52-48, since the Dec. 10 Louisiana run-off election will probably yield a John Kennedy (R) win. Kennedy, the four-term state treasurer, placed first on Tuesday night in a field of 24 candidates followed by Democrat Foster Campbell, a Louisiana public service commissioner and multiple-time statewide candidate.

This isn’t an easy race for Kennedy, however. Often, after one party wins a national election an emotional let down can occur in a quick subsequent vote, and a lack of enthusiasm allows the losing party to rebound. Additionally, we merely have to retreat to October 2015 to find the last time the Democrats won a Louisiana statewide election (governor’s campaign: John Bel Edwards-D defeated Sen. David Vitter-R).

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Today’s the Day

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 8, 2016 — At long last, the 2016 election cycle draws to a close this evening, as we have finally reached Election Day.

The final polls show ending momentum for Hillary Clinton. Ten surveys reported results, all with sampling periods ending Nov. 6. Nine of the 10 find Clinton leading the presidential race by an average of 3.6 percentage points. Her margin stretches from two to six points.

The Electoral College projections appear to put Clinton in the low 300 electoral vote range, well beyond the 270 needed to clinch the presidency. Donald Trump appears to be on the upswing in North Carolina, Iowa, and Ohio, but he would also need victories in Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire and the 2nd Congressional District of Maine to secure a minimum electoral vote victory. Though both parties have invested major time commitments during the last few days in Pennsylvania, the state seems destined to support Ms. Clinton by a discernible margin.

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House Becoming Clearer

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 4, 2016 — The late turnout trends, as influenced greatly by how the presidential race is closing, may well be increasing Republican/right-of-center voter participation. If so, this will have great effect upon the House races, potentially holding down Democratic gains because more heavily contested GOP incumbents will survive.

Looking at all House as we head into the final weekend of campaigning, it appears that 226 seats are rated as Safe Republican, Republican Favored, or Lean Republican. Democrats look to have 189 seats where their candidates are rated as safe, favored or leaning to their party.

The remaining 20 are toss-up campaigns. Sixteen of these are in current Republican CDs, while the remaining four are Democratic.

Included in what we can refer to as the “decided count”, are five Republican seats headed to the Democratic column and one Dem seat returning to the GOP. Four of these six turning districts are directly related to the mid-decade redistricting process in Florida and Virginia.

The one Democratic seat going Republican is the open northern Florida seat of retiring Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Tallahassee). Because the adjacent 5th District was drawn to elect a minority candidate in a drastically different manner than the previous 5th District, a major chunk of Rep. Graham’s Democratic base was removed from her 2nd District. Without a reasonable place to run for re-election, Graham retired after one term, but we will likely see her in the 2018 open governor’s race. The new 2nd District will go to Dr. Neal Dunn, who won a two-point Republican primary victory in late August. Under the new draw, the GOP nomination is tantamount to election in the fall.

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