Category Archives: House

Is the Math in Colbert Busch’s Favor?

Elizabeth Colbert Busch (D) is now officially opposing ex-governor Mark Sanford (R) in a South Carolina congressional district that should vote for a Republican in every election. But, as we all know, the special vote to replace Senator Tim Scott (R) is very different, and it is clear, because of Sanford’s unpopularity after his highly publicized extra-marital affair became international news, that Busch does have a chance to win.

Like everything in politics, it all comes down to mathematics. On paper, Sanford has the easier victory path. Mitt Romney scoring 58.3 percent of the vote as compared to President Obama’s 40.2 percent, provides a clear gauge about this electorate’s strong Republican penchant. So far, at least 26,066 people have already voted for Sanford versus 15,802 who have cast a ballot for Busch. The most important general election voters, however, could be the group of 20,005 Republicans who have already voted twice in this three-tiered election, but have yet to support Sanford.

The big question, of which the answer probably determines the final outcome, is just how many of those 20,000 anti-Sanford Republican voters will actually vote for Elizabeth Colbert Busch? While true this group does not particularly like Sanford, they are also Republican primary and run-off voters, thus illustrating at least somewhat of a commitment to the GOP. Will they eschew their party loyalty in this special general election in order to avoid supporting Sanford? Or, will they simply stay home and not participate? The answers to these questions are race-defining.

Since 2000, the highest turnout for a regular South Carolina primary election has been 26 percent of the registered voters. Since this special election will attract a great deal of attention, it may be reasonable to assume that the turnout could reach, or even surpass, this figure. On the other hand, keeping in mind that the primary turnout was a combined 16.2 percent, while 10.6 percent of the registered voters returned for the Republican run-off, it is hard to imagine  Continue reading >

Sanford Continues South Carolina Comeback

Mark Sanford (R)

Mark Sanford (R)

When scandal-ridden former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford (R) first announced he was attempting a political comeback by running in the current special congressional election cycle, many voters and political observers scoffed at his chances of victory. Last night, Sanford overcame the critics and quite possibly the odds as he won his Republican nomination with a rather impressive 57-43 percent victory over former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic.

This sets up what promises to be a competitive special general election campaign with Democratic nominee Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of Comedy Central comedian Stephen Colbert, even though South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District should be safely Republican.

As is typical for Palmetto State run-off elections, 85.6 percent of the number of primary voters returned to cast ballots for the secondary vote. The state, which features only two-week run-off cycles, performs better in turnout terms than others having a two-tiered nomination system. In most of those places, it is common to see participation levels drop by 50 percent or more. In yesterday’s GOP run-off, 46,071 individuals voted as compared to the 53,793 who cast ballots in the special primary election.
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Daschle Drafting Johnson

It’s within a different generation, but the Daschle family is again supporting a member of the Johnson clan for statewide South Dakota political office. Nathan “Nate” Daschle, former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle’s (D) son, is leading an organized effort to draft Brendan Johnson for the US Senate. The prospective candidate’s father, Tim Johnson, is the incumbent senator who announced last week that he would not seek re-election in 2014. Brendan Johnson is South Dakota’s US Attorney, and has been mentioned as a possible Democratic Senatorial candidate.

In a published open letter to Brendan Johnson, Daschle writes, “it’s time for a new generation of leadership in South Dakota, and Brendan Johnson has the smarts, vision, and compassion to move this state forward. You won’t find anyone more committed to South Dakota’s future than Brendan. His candidacy would re-ignite our state’s great potential, and I think we would be lucky to have him serve in the U.S. Senate.”

The fact that a member of the Daschle family would publicly come forth so quickly to promote Johnson likely tells us something about the Democrats’ other top potential candidate, former representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. It is unlikely that Daschle would commit this early to Brendan Johnson if he, and the Democratic establishment, actually believed the ex-congresswoman was planning to run. Furthermore, of the two, Herseth Sandlin is obviously the stronger campaigner, making Daschle’s action even more indicative.

The Republican nominee is likely to be former Gov. Mike Rounds, who has been running since the 2012 election concluded and figures to be the favorite for the general election.

IA-3: The First Drop-out

Several weeks ago, wealthy investor Michael Sherzan (D) announced a challenge to Iowa Rep. Tom Latham (R) in the Des Moines-  Continue reading >

The “Sweet” Sixteen House Races

Continuing our sector review of the 16 most competitive political campaigns reflective of the NCAA College Basketball Tournament’s spirit, we today turn to the US House campaigns:

AZ-1: Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D) won a similar version of this seat in 2008, lost it in 2010, and reacquired it last November when incumbent Paul Gosar (R) decided to seek re-election in District 4. With a 2012 victory percentage of only 49 percent in a district that Mitt Romney carried, Kirkpatrick can again expect stiff competition in 2014.

AZ-2: Rep. Ron Barber (D) who replaced his former boss, then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords upon her resignation, had a closer than expected regular election contest against Republican Martha McSally. With Barber only scoring an even 50 percent of the 2012 vote, expect a strong re-match effort from retired Gulf War veteran McSally.

CA-26: When the California Citizens Redistricting Commission crafted this Ventura County district, they did so with the idea of making a marginal 50-50 seat. The goal was achieved, so freshman incumbent Julia Brownley (D) will continue to face strong competition likely for the rest of the decade. Former state senator Tony Strickland lost to Brownley in November and is considering seeking a re-match in 2014. Rep. Buck McKeon (R) deciding to retire in adjacent District 25, however, could attract Strickland to what would be an open seat.

CA-31: Rep. Gary Miller represents the strongest Obama district in the country (57 percent) that elected a Republican congressman. He was fortunate to draw another Republican in the 2012 general election, but will likely face a Democrat in 2014. Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar (D), who failed to qualify for the general election last year, is looking to run again. This will be a top Democratic conversion target.
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Sanford Leads in Run-off Poll

Public Policy Polling (March 22-24; 1,175 likely SC-1 special election voters; 648 self-described Republican run-off voters) released the results of their first post-special primary survey and found scandal-plagued former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford (R) to be leading ex-Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic (R) by a 53-40 percent count. The poll suggests that Bostic has so far failed to coalesce the substantial anti-Sanford vote behind his candidacy. In the first election, featuring 16 Republican candidates, the former governor placed first with 37 percent of the vote, while Bostic just grabbed second place with 13 percent.

But the most surprising part of PPP’s poll is how the two Republicans fare against Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch in the special general. Despite SC-1 being a heavily Republican district, the data shows that Busch has a small 47-45 percent lead over Sanford and ties Bostic at 43 percent.

The two results are surprising in different ways. First, many would believe that Busch’s lead over Sanford would be greater considering his heavy personal negatives in conjunction with his highly publicized international extra-marital affair. But Bostic, on the other hand, without carrying such heavy political baggage should actually be in a stronger position than a dead heat when being paired with the Democratic nominee.

The Republicans have had trouble winning special elections during the past few years, even in strong partisan seats such as the one in southeast South Carolina. The April 2 run-off is only a little more than a week away, which now stacks up well for Sanford. Based upon this now available polling data, expect the special general to be much more competitive than originally forecast.