Jan. 22, 2016 — Florida Atlantic University yesterday released a Sunshine State poll that finds Rep. David Jolly (R-FL-13) opening up a large lead in the open Republican Senate primary, but the results breed skepticism.
The survey, taken during the Jan. 15-18 period of 1,108 Florida voters appears methodologically sound. The sample size is reasonable, though 345 Republican primary voters used for the Senate sample is a bit small for a state the size of Florida. The geographical division is cast evenly among the northern, central, and southern regions, which is constant. Yet, the ballot test results are way out line with anything previously published.
In several earlier polls, with no candidate having strong statewide name identification, Rep. Jolly, his congressional colleague Ron DeSantis (R-FL-6), and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera all fell below 20 percent, and were within just a few points of each other.
Jan. 20, 2016 — Considering six new House retirements were announced just before Christmas and early into the New Year, it’s a good time to review exactly which states and districts are open for the 2016 election:
Senate – 6 Total (3R; 3D)
California: Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) – retiring – Safe Democrat
Florida: Sen. Marco Rubio (R) – running for President – Toss-Up
Indiana: Sen. Dan Coats (R) – retiring – Likely Republican
Louisiana: Sen. David Vitter (R) – retiring – Likely Republican
Maryland: Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) – retiring – Safe Democrat
Nevada: Sen. Harry Reid (D) – retiring – Toss-Up
• Likely R: (2)
• Safe D: (2)
• Toss-Up: (2)
House – 37 Total (22R; 15D)
AZ-1: Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D) – running for Senate – Toss-Up
CA-20: Rep. Sam Farr (D) – retiring – Safe D
CA-24: Rep. Lois Capps (D) – retiring – Lean D
CA-44: Rep. Janice Hahn (D) – running for local office – Safe D
CA-46: Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D) – running for Senate – Safe D
DE-AL: Rep. John Carney (D) – running for Governor – Likely D
FL-6: Rep. Ron DeSantis (R) – running for Senate – Likely R
FL-9: Rep. Alan Grayson (D) – running for Senate – Likely D
FL-11: Rep. Rich Nugent (R) – retiring – Safe R
FL-13: Rep. David Jolly (R) – running for Senate – Lean D
FL-18: Rep. Patrick Murphy (D) – running for Senate – Toss-Up
GA-3: Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R) – retiring/Gov (’18) – Safe R
IL-8: Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D) – running for Senate – Safe D
IN-3: Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R) – running for Senate – Safe R
IN-9: Rep. Todd Young (R) – running for Senate – Likely R
KY-1: Rep. Ed Whitfield (R) – retiring – Safe R
LA-3: Rep. Charles Boustany (R) – running for Senate – Safe R
LA-4: Rep. John Fleming (R) – running for Senate – Safe R
MD-4: Rep. Donna Edwards (D) – running for Senate – Safe D
MD-8: Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) – running for Senate – Safe D
MI-1: Rep. Dan Benishek (R) – retiring – Lean R
MI-10: Rep. Candice Miller (R) – retiring – Safe R
MN-2: Rep. John Kline (R) – retiring – Toss-Up
NV-3: Rep. Joe Heck (R) – running for Senate – Likely R
NY-3: Rep. Steve Israel (D) – retiring – Lean D
NY-13: Rep. Charlie Rangel (D) – retiring – Safe D
NY-19: Rep. Chris Gibson (R) – retiring/Gov (’18) – Lean R
NY-22: Rep. Richard Hanna (R) – retiring – Lean R
OH-8: Rep. John Boehner (R) – resigned – Safe R –
Special Election – March 15; June 7
PA-8: Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R) – retiring – Lean R
PA-16: Rep. Joe Pitts (R) – retiring – Likely R
TX-15: Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D) – retiring – Safe D
TX-19: Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R) – retiring – Safe R
VA-2: Rep. Scott Rigell (R) – retiring – Toss-Up
VA-5: Rep. Bob Hurt (R) – retiring – Likely R
WA-7: Rep. Jim McDermott (D) – retiring – Safe D
WY-AL: Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R) – retiring – Safe R
• Safe R: (10); Likely R: (5); Lean R: (4); Total R: (19)
• Safe D: (9); Likely D: (2); Lean D: (3); Total D: (14)
• Toss-Up: (4)
Jan. 19, 2016 — Rep. Scott Rigell’s (R-VA-2) announced retirement last week is surprising not just because it was unexpected. Since the Virginia redistricting situation that directly affects the southeastern part of the state is not fully decided, the political timing of such a declaration is precarious.
Clearly, Rigell’s decision not to seek a fourth term is being done for personal reasons and not political ones. His official statements suggest he has a “sense of accomplishment” regarding his service in Congress, and that “it’s time to come home.” If politics were involved, he would postpone a retirement announcement until the district lines are finalized, particularly because his 2nd District fares quite differently under the two redistricting plans.
The new court-ordered Virginia map would make Rep. Randy Forbes’ (R-VA-4) district virtually unwinnable for a Republican, but actually reinforces, from a GOP perspective, the Rigell seat and that of neighboring Rep. Robert Hurt (R-VA-5). Interestingly, Hurt, also after three terms, announced his retirement just before Christmas.
But Virginia redistricting is far from settled despite the lower court’s action to institute their map. Republican appellants are asking the US Supreme Court to stay the lower court decision until the high court, itself, hears arguments on the new plan and renders its own decision.
Jan. 14, 2016 — The Florida court-ordered redistricting saga continues with new developments regularly changing the political atmospherics. Back in early July, the Florida state Supreme Court struck down eight of the state’s congressional districts – four Republican-held; four Democratic – for reasons of “partisan gerrymandering.”
The map has been changed, enacted, and now fully reported. Since the exact boundaries have found their way into the public domain, we can now see that virtually the entire state has been affected. Mandating boundary alterations in eight districts translated into changing 24 of the state’s 27 CDs. The only three to remain intact are a trio of Republican seats: FL-1 (Rep. Jeff Miller-Pensacola; northwest Florida Panhandle); FL-8 (Rep. Bill Posey; Cape Canaveral to Vero Beach); and FL-19 (Rep. Curt Clawson; Ft. Myers-Cape Coral to Marco Island).
One, Rep. Patrick Murphy’s (D-Jupiter) 18th District (Ft. Pierce to West Palm Beach), saw less than a one percent change. The two districts altered the most are Rep. Corrine Brown’s (D-Jacksonville) 5th District and GOP Rep. Dan Webster’s 10th CD (Orlando).
The Brown seat that formerly stretched from Jacksonville to Orlando, touching Gainesville and Sanford along the way, now encompasses territory from Jacksonville to Tallahassee. It is still heavily African American, but the original region has been divided over six districts. The largest portion of the 2011-drawn seat, a 40.1 percent population segment, is actually in Orlando. Her Jacksonville anchor maintains just 38.2 percent of the former FL-5 constituency.
Jan. 12, 2016 — Just before Christmas, and including three more such announcements that occurred last week, five House members made public their intention not to seek re-election in the fall. The sudden jump in the number of congressmen choosing either to retire from politics or run for a different office now makes 2016 an average election cycle when examining the vacancy rate.
Representatives Richard Hanna (R-NY-22), Robert Hurt (R-VA-5), Jim McDermott (D-WA-7), Steve Israel (D-NY-3), and Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA-3) all making their political plans known in the last three weeks creates a total of 36 open seat elections for the coming year (21R-15D); an average number based upon 21st Century electoral trends, and a return to normalcy. The last two election cycles have yielded an unusually large open seat numbers: 62 in 2012, and 48 in 2014.
Interestingly, heavy competition appears to be building in only a small number of these incumbent-less US House campaigns. Based upon our internal calculations, only three of the 36 open seats are in the pure toss-up category, those of representatives Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-1), Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18) and John Kline (R-MN-2). Another six, three for each party, can be considered in the “Lean” category. This means, at our early point in the campaign cycle, that only nine open districts, or one-quarter of the total number, are not definitively headed toward one party camp or the other.