Category Archives: House

GOP Poised for Special Election Sweep

The final polls for the two special elections that were held today, NV-2 (Mark Amodei, R) vs. Kate Marshall, D) and NY-9 (Bob Turner, R vs. David Weprin, D), indicate that Republicans will score victories in both. As we covered in our update yesterday, Mr. Turner appeared on the verge of a major upset win in the heavily Democratic New York City seat, vacant due to former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D) resignation. At the time of this post, the Associated Press has projected Turner to be the winner. The current lead is six points.

The weekend Public Policy Polling survey basically confirms the latest Siena College poll that gave Turner a six-point lead. According to the PPP data (Sept. 8-11; 664 likely NY-9 special election voters via automated telephone calls), the Republican former broadcasting executive has a 47-41 percent lead over the Democratic state assemblyman. Like the Siena College survey that showed Turner receiving a large cross-over vote from Democrats, PPP detects the same pattern. They post him attracting 29 percent of Democratic votes. Turner is crushing Weprin among Independents. Within this polling sample subset, the GOP nominee has a 58-26 percent edge. President Obama, in a district that he carried 55 percent in 2008, has a poor 31:56 percent job approval rating, which is proving to be a drag on Weprin’s candidacy.

The last Nevada survey, also from PPP (Sept. 9-11; 629 likely NV-2 special election voters via automated telephone calls) gave Republican Amodei, a former state legislator and Nevada Republican Party chairman, a whopping 50-37 percent lead over Democrat Marshall, the state Treasurer. An even more solid indicator is the early voting report. So far, of the early votes already cast, 53 percent come from Republicans while only 34 percent originate from registered Democrats. The polls indicating a Republican sweep appear to have been borne out.

Upset City in NY’s 9th CD?

The special election to fill former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D-NY-9) congressional vacancy in New York City will be held tomorrow and the latest poll from the Siena College Research Institute (Aug. 6-8; 886 likely NY-9 special election voters) suggests a possible Republican upset in this heavily Democratic district.

According to the Siena survey, Republican Bob Turner, a retired broadcasting executive, leads Democratic state Assemblyman David Weprin 50-44 percent. This is on the heels of a Magellan Strategies study (Sept. 1; 2,055 likely NY-9 voters via automated telephone calls) giving Turner a 45-40 percent advantage. Furthermore, within the last 10 days, McLaughlin Associates showed the race to be tied at 42 percent, prompting the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to counter with their own Global Strategy Group (GSG) survey (Aug. 30-31; 400 likely NY-9 voters), which posted Weprin to a 47-39 percent lead. The high error factor (4.9 percent) for a poll with a large congressional district sample suggests that the GSG results may be from the “educated” ballot test, meaning that people were given further information about the candidates after the respondents made their initial candidate preference selection.

An upset in a New York irregular election would be nothing new. In the past two years, three special elections have been held in the state, each producing a winner different from the early projected favorite. The one special election where the favored candidate won, Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY-29), was held concurrently with the 2010 general election. The others, all in Republican seats, elected Reps. Scott Murphy (D-NY-20), who was subsequently defeated in the succeeding regular election, Bill Owens (D-NY-23), and Kathy Hochul (D-NY-26).

As in all special elections, turnout will be the determining factor. With a superior Democratic Party operation in the city, Weprin certainly has a chance to win regardless of the late polling results. If the Democrats are motivated to turn out, then Weprin can survive. If they are not inclined to do so in sufficient numbers, then we could see a GOP upset.

Should Turner win this seat, the Republicans will likely sweep the two congressional special elections being held tomorrow. The other, in Nevada’s 2nd district, will likely elect Republican Mark Amodei. Winning the New York seat, however, will almost assuredly have national ramifications and won’t make any Democrat, including President Obama, feel overly secure.
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Trends Favor Amodei in Nevada’s 2nd CD

On Tuesday, Sept. 13, voters in Nevada’s 2nd district will go to the polls to choose a successor to Rep. Dean Heller (R), who resigned the seat upon receiving his appointment to the US Senate. All indications suggest that Republican Mark Amodei, a former state legislator and Nevada Republican Party chairman, has the inside track to victory in the special election. Democrats nominated twice-elected state Treasurer Kate Marshall, a former Senior Deputy Attorney General.

The 2nd district, which will change drastically when the courts finalize the state’s new four-district congressional map, touches all 17 of Nevada’s counties including part of Clark, which houses the overwhelming majority of the state’s residents. The new map is likely to confine the district boundaries to the state’s northern portion, anchoring it around the Reno and Carson City population centers.

At the beginning of this mid-year campaign, it appeared that the result would be close. In fact, Marshall seemed primed to pull an upset particularly because Amodei proved to be a weak fundraiser in previous campaigns and the district voting patterns were not as strongly Republican. Though the seat was designed as a GOP stronghold in the 2001 redistricting plan, it began trending a bit more Democratic as the decade progressed and can be considered competitive in its current configuration.

Though no Democrat has carried the seat, the Republican margins of victory have grown smaller. While former President George W. Bush scored a pair of 57 percent wins in his presidential campaigns of 2000 and 2004, John McCain managed to place ahead by a mere handful of votes here when matched with Barack Obama in 2008. Both men scored in the 49th percentile. The last time the congressional seat was open, when Mr. Heller won in 2006, the Republican margin of victory dropped to 50-45 percent. As the incumbent, Heller steadily increased his victory percentage. In 2008 he won 52-41 percent and 63-33 percent two years later.

Financially, Marshall has out-raised Amodei. The latest available disclosure reports (through Aug. 24) show Ms. Marshall gathering $695,465 to Amodei’s $537,598. But it is outside spending that gives the Republican the overwhelming campaign advantage. So far, published independent committee financial disclosures, including political party expenditures, show more than $850,000 going to support Mr. Amodei versus nothing for Ms. Marshall.

Published polls, though none have been recently conducted, also project Amodei to have the advantage. Public Policy Polling (Aug. 18-21) gave the Republican only a one-point 43-42 percent lead, but Magellan Strategies, polling around the same time period (Aug. 15-16), showed Amodei to have a substantial 48-35 percent edge. It is likely we will see another published poll or two before Tuesday, thus giving us further indication of the eventual result.

But probably the best indicator of the vote trend are the early ballot tabulations. Though the votes themselves are not yet counted, the Secretary of State issues reports citing how many ballots the office has received from members of each political party. At this writing, over 7,600 more Republicans than Democrats have already returned their ballots. This margin will almost certainly give Amodei a relatively strong lead going into Election Day itself.

But this special election will not signal the end of the long-term congressional contest regardless of Tuesday’s outcome. Sharron Angle, the 2010 Republican nominee who carried this district in the 2010 general election against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, even though she lost statewide, waits in the wings for the winner – in a regular election district that is much more to her liking than the current 2nd. Should Amodei successfully carry the seat in the special election, he will face a Republican primary battle against Angle next June. Amodei, who is moderate, will have to protect his right flank to a great degree upon election or he will be vulnerable to a Republican primary challenge from Mrs. Angle, who has proven she is a strong vote-getter in northern Nevada.

The winner on Tuesday will serve the remainder of the current term, but may find him or herself in a dogfight to retain the seat in the regular election. It appears that the Sept. 13 vote will likely mark only the effective beginning of this campaign and not the end.
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Illinois Rep. Halvorson to Challenge Jesse Jackson Jr.

A rather surprising announcement came from the Chicago suburbs at the end of last week. Former Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-IL-11), who lost her congressional seat 43-57 percent to Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL-11) after just one term in office, says she will challenge Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL-2) in the 2012 March Democratic primary for his 2nd District seat. Prior to her serving in Congress, Ms. Halvorson was the state Senate majority leader.

This is a curious move and appears to be a long-shot political effort. While the new 2nd district does contain part of the territory Halvorson previously represented, it is overwhelmingly comprised of Jackson’s constituents. In fact, 78.1 percent of the new 2nd’s inhabitants remain from Rep. Jackson’s current district, versus just 21.8 percent of residents from Halvorson’s former 11th CD who are now placed in IL-2. The racial composition is another factor that cuts dramatically in Mr. Jackson’s favor. As many as 55.8 percent of the district population is African-American versus just 29.6 percent who are non-Hispanic White. Hispanics account for 12.8 percent of the population mix, while Asians number less than 1 percent of the voting base.

Favor Jesse Jackson, Jr. to win the Democratic nomination here, but Debbie Halvorson’s entry into the race certainly brings a new twist to this political story.
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Race in New York’s 9th Tightens

Immediately after the Republicans began citing a McLaughlin Associates poll that showed GOP congressional special election nominee Bob Turner and Democratic standard bearer David Weprin tied at 42 percent for the upcoming Sept. 13 vote, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) released different — and potentially suspect — numbers. The Global Strategy Group (Aug. 30-31; 400 likely NY-9 special election voters), polling for the DCCC, projects Weprin to be leading 47-39 percent. Though an 8-point spread is beyond the polling margin of error, several things must be considered to possibly give us a more accurate depiction of what is happening in this Brooklyn-Queens New York City campaign, one in which the Democratic nominee should win easily.

First, Global Stategy’s error factor for this particular poll is 4.9 percent, unusually high for a 400-sample survey in a congressional district. An error number well under 4 percent is more typical. Second, the poll actually shows more weakness for Weprin than strength. Though it projects him to be ahead, his 8-point advantage is substantially below the generic Democratic figure (46-32 percent) for the 9th CD. Third, Republican Turner’s favorability index, 40:26 percent, is surprisingly higher than Democrat Weprin’s: 35:24 percent. Taken in its entirety, the universe of recent polling suggests that this race may end in close fashion.

Mr. Turner is a retired broadcasting executive and the 2010 GOP congressional nominee (lost 37-57 percent). Mr. Weprin is a freshman Democratic state assemblyman. He was twice elected to the New York City Council, serving as the body’s Finance Committee chairman. His father, Saul Weprin, is a former state Assembly Speaker. The seat is vacant due to the highly publicized resignation of ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY-9).
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For further detailed insights, to sign up for my daily email updates, or to sign up to track specific issues or industries, please contact me at PRIsm@performanceandresults.com.