Category Archives: House

The Logjam

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023

House

Former Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) — potential House Speaker option?

Speaker: Multiple Ballots — For the first time since 1923, the US House of Representatives conducted multiple ballots to elect a new Speaker and have yet to overcome the impasse; this, after three complete 434-member alphabetical roll call votes produced only one representative who changed his vote.

With 20 Republicans voting against the conference nominee, California Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), and 19 of those over three separate votes, the logjam can only be broken in his favor if 15 of these members change their position and agree to support him later today. 

Since McCarthy’s ability to somehow finding a magic bullet to save his quest for the Speakership seems rather unlikely at this point, speculation is rampant about what may happen. Many believe that incoming Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) may be able to construct a coalition large enough to reach the 218-majority figure. Others feel that he is viewed as too close to McCarthy – being, in effect, a “McCarthy Light” – which might be enough to disqualify him.

Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) has floated the idea of attempting to build a coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats to vote for a more centrist Republican. This strategy has worked in some state legislatures, Alaska and Texas being the most prominent, as well as in the New York state Senate for a time. Yesterday, the moderate Ohio House Republicans and Democrats forged a successful coalition to claim the Speakership in that body.

Because personal relationships are stronger in smaller state legislatures and generally more bipartisan, coalition strategies in these bodies have a much better chance of success than they do in Congress. In the current US House situation, with all 212 Democrats holding tight for conference nominee, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), peeling off even one such member to join a bipartisan coalition is likely out of reach. 

Jeffries and the Democrats’ best chance is that the McCarthy team attempts an end run around the rules by having some of their votes not be present or by voting “present” in an attempt to lower the number of votes McCarthy would need to secure majority support. 

Continue reading

House Speaker Vote Today;
Biden’s Approval Rating & A Beginning of the Election Cycle

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023

House

House Republican Speaker nominee Kevin McCarthy (R)

Speaker Vote Today: Likely to Require More than One Ballot — For the first time in a century, it appears the Speaker’s election that will convene the 118th Congress, will require more than one roll call. With Republicans holding only a 222-212 majority with one Democratic seat vacant due to the death of Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA), Republican Speaker nominee Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) does not appear to have the 218 votes that he needs to claim the gavel for the ensuing session.

Five Republican members have publicly said they will vote against McCarthy, and one of them, Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Gilbert) is an announced candidate for the position as he was in the Republican conference vote. The other four are Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Bob Good (R-VA), Ralph Norman (R-SC), and Matt Rosendale (R-MT).

Another group of nine members signed a public letter questioning McCarthy’s ability to be a successful Speaker while stopping short of saying the signees will vote against him. They are Reps and Reps-Elect Dan Bishop (R-NC), Andrew Clyde (R-GA), Eli Crane (R-AZ), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Andy Harris (R-MD), Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL), Andy Ogles (R-TN), Scott Perry (R-PA), and Chip Roy (R-TX). It is these 14 members who will be key on the first roll call. Not voting for McCarthy within this group will certainly send the voting to a second ballot.

The other group to watch, possibly led by Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillion/Omaha), are moderate Republicans who would coalesce with moderate Democrats to attempt to elect a compromise candidate. If the ballot drags on for more than two roll calls, it will be interesting to see which group begins to develop cracks. The membership will vote until one individual reaches the 218-vote threshold and thereby claims the Speakership.

President

Biden Approval: A Benchmark to Begin the Election Cycle — With the new Congress being sworn into office today, we begin the 2024 election cycle. Such being the case, let’s take a look at where President Biden’s job approval rating stands as he likely begins to prepare for a re-election run.

The two most recent survey reports during this holiday period came from Rasmussen Reports and the Morning Consult firm. Both organizations continually track presidential job approval on a daily basis. Rasmussen (sampling conducted through Pulse Opinion Research; Dec. 27-29; 1,500 US registered voters) projects the President to have a 47:51 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio. Morning Consult, which has been closer to a more consensus ratio among the plethora of typical job approval polling (Dec. 21-27; 45,000 US adults; online) finds Biden’s favorability index at worsened 42:51 percent favorable to unfavorable clip.

Comparing these two polls produces typical results since President Biden has always fared better with registered voter samples than among a respondent pool of adults. Still, it is clear that the president will begin the road to re-election with more people disapproving of his performance in office than those who approve.

Congress Convenes Tomorrow with 93 New Members; Early Reapportionment Projections

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Jan. 2, 2023

Congress

Montana’s Ryan Zinke (R-Whitehall) returns to the House.

New Members: Congress Convenes Tomorrow with 93 New Members — The 118th Congress is sworn into office tomorrow and like all others, this new assemblage is a unique group.

In the House, we see 85 freshmen members coming to Washington, including the dozen who won special elections during the session just ended. Additionally, one former member, Montana’s Ryan Zinke (R-Whitehall) who also served in the Trump Administration as Interior Secretary, returns to the House.

The Senate, exclusively due to retirements along with one appointed member, California Sen. Alex Padilla (D) seeking a full term, will only welcome eight new freshmen since all incumbents seeking re-election were victorious.

Of the 85 new House members, 46 are Republicans while 39 are members of the Democratic Party. Just over one-third of the incoming group will be serving in their first elected position, a total of 31. Conversely, 37 of the House freshmen have previously been elected to their respective state legislatures. The remaining 17 held other elected positions, typically at the local level as county or city officials.

In the Senate, only two of the eight incoming members have never before served in an elective office: Alabama’s Katie Britt (R) and J.D. Vance (R) of Ohio.

States

Reapportionment: Early Projections — Apparently, it is not too early to begin discussing which states may gain and lose representation in the 2030 census. The first concrete projections have been publicized based upon the country’s current growth trends since the 2020 census was completed.

No real surprises were among the first cut, as eight seats are projected to change states. In the 2020 census, only seven seats changed states. The early estimates suggest that Texas will again be the big gainer, with an additional three seats. This would increase the nation’s second largest population state to 41 seats, if the early guesstimates prove accurate. Florida could gain two seats, with Idaho, Utah, and Washington each gaining one seat.

The losing states would again be familiar, as Illinois and New York could be on a path to lose two seats apiece. Pennsylvania would again be slated to lose one. The new losing states would be Connecticut, New Jersey, and Wisconsin, all possibly losing one of their current districts. None of these projections are firm, and much will happen to change the national and regional growth rates in the coming eight years.

Sinema Being Cut Off; VA-4 Counting Underway & Continuing; Surprising National Gallup Poll Results

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Dec. 23, 2022

Senate

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I)

Arizona: Sinema Being Cut Off — With Sen. Kyrsten Sinema leaving the Democratic Party to become an Independent, reverberations already are being felt pertaining to her 2024 re-election campaign. Two of her consulting firms have left her, understanding that they would be eliminated from consideration for contracts within the Democratic Party establishment for servicing a candidate who is not a member of the party. According to a report from the Huffington Post, the data firm that controls the national Democratic Party voter file will now deny the Sinema campaign access to their services after Jan. 31.

These developments are not surprising since she will no longer be a Democrat, but further underscores that she will not caucus with the Democratic conference, a move that the Senate’s other two Independents, Bernie Sanders (VT) and Angus King (ME) continue to make. Therefore, the latter two are treated as Democratic incumbents in relation to consultant contracts and party resources.

Forfeiting these types of resources will leave Sen. Sinema on her own as she mounts a re-election effort. Obviously, she knew this would happen when making the decision to become an Independent, and these latest developments further suggest that we will see a true three-way 2024 race among Sinema and eventual Democratic and Republican nominees.

House

VA-4: Counting Begins, No Tabulations Released — Despite monumental societal technology improvements that we ubiquitously experience, vote counting continues to return to a bygone era. Election officials announced that counting more than 26,400 ballots cast in the VA-4 Democratic firehouse primary for the special election to replace the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond) will take some days.

The local party reported that just five volunteers are handling the counting, and as of this writing, had completed processing about 4,000 ballots. No results were released, however. Some numbers may trickle out today or over the weekend.

The two leading candidates for the Democratic nomination, state Sens. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) and Joseph Morrissey (D-Richmond), are expected to battle for the nomination victory among the four candidates on the ballot. The Democratic nominee will have the inside track toward winning the Feb. 21 special election. The Republican nominee is the party’s previous congressional candidate and local pastor Leon Benjamin. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the 4th District as D+30.

National Parties

Gallup Survey: Republicans Better Viewed — The well-known Gallup research organization continually polls the country, testing and monitoring the electorate’s responses to issues of the day along with analyzing voting trends.

In a surprising post-election survey series result, considering the Republicans generally under-performed expectations in the November election, Gallup finds that a plurality of their latest national poll respondents (post-election poll; Nov. 9-12; 1,000 US adult respondents, part of the ongoing Gallup Poll Social Series project originally began in 2001) find the GOP in a slightly more favorable position than the Democratic Party.

According to this latest data, the Republican Party records a 42 percent favorable view within the sampling universe as compared to 39 percent who have a similar view of the Democratic Party. The number is the opposite of Gallup’s average since this question was first tested in 2011. During the overall time period between 2011 and the present, the Democrats hold a 44-40 percent average advantage on the favorability question.

Dean of Senate Makes Farewell Speech; McCarthy Vote Count on Shaky Ground; VA-4 Update

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022

Senate

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy (D)

Vermont: Dean of Senate Makes Farewell Speech — Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) was first elected in 1974 and went onto win seven more statewide elections. He is the third-longest serving senator in the history of the United States — in office for 48 years — and now is retiring as a historic figure in American politics. Sen. Leahy made his farewell speech on the Senate floor Tuesday in the waning days of his final term. The new dean of the Senate will be Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) who was first elected in 1980. Two other top-10 senators in seniority, Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) are also retiring when this Congress officially ends at the end of the year.

House

Speaker Race: McCarthy Vote Count Appearing Weak — More media attention is being paid to the impending House Speaker’s race to be settled when the new House convenes on Jan. 3, 2023. Earlier in the week, Speaker-Designate Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who has the official Republican conference nomination for Speaker by virtue of winning a 188-31-5 vote in defeating Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs and others, released a list of his strongest supporters. For his part, Biggs pledges to challenge McCarthy in the January roll call vote signaling the beginning of the Congress.

McCarthy’s list of his strongest supporters, those who say they will vote for no other in what could become a lengthy process should the Speaker election progress through multiple rounds, is smaller than one would have otherwise surmised. The total only identified 54 such Republican members, not even a full quarter of the conference. Some believe this number signifies weakness as opposed to strength. In a Fox News article by Chad Pergram published Tuesday, the reports suggest the number of Republican members who could vote for someone else on the floor could be as high as 20, though only five have publicly expressed at least preliminary public opposition.

The last time a Speaker election went multiple rounds occurred in 1923. The voting will continue until some candidate receives majority support of the present and voting House members. No doubt, this will be the most interesting Speaker election we will have witnessed to date in the modern political era.

VA-4: Counting Didn’t Begin Until Yesterday — The Democrats held their “firehouse primary” Tuesday to choose a special election nominee to succeed the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond), but considering we now regularly see the slow counting of votes during the present political period, the tabulation process did not begin until a day later.

State Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) is the party leadership’s choice and faces a challenge from controversial state Sen. Joseph Morrissey (D-Richmond), who was once convicted of having sexual relations with a minor (a girl who he later married), was summarily forced to resign his seat in the House of Delegates but then won it back as an Independent in the special election to elect a successor. He later resigned again and moved into a Richmond Senate district where he would then defeat a Democratic incumbent. Former state delegate Joe Preston and businessman Tavorice Marks also are in the race.

The Democratic winner will face the new Republican nominee, pastor Leon Benjamin who has twice been the GOP’s congressional candidate in this district. In a D+30 district according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization, the winner of this Democratic nomination has the clear inside track for the special election on Feb. 21.

Electoral College — Left Coast, Right Coast; Republicans Choose Nominee in VA-4; North Carolina Supreme Court Rejects Map

Electoral College Votes Per State, 2022 — blue moving more left, red moving more right


By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022

President

Electoral College: West Moving Left, East Moving Right — The researchers at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics have completed a study regarding the country’s ideological shift during the past 20-plus years. Tracking all 50 states’ presidential votes from the 2000-2020 elections, we first see all of the western states now voting Democratic in greater percentages with the exception of Wyoming. The biggest shifts came in Alaska, California, Colorado, and Utah, though two of those four states still regularly produce at least smaller majority or plurality Republican victories.

Conversely, the south and east have trended more Republican with the strongest swings generally occurring in central south with only Maryland, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia becoming more Democratic. Mid-Atlantic states such as New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia have moved decidedly more Republican, though two of these four continue to regularly deliver clear Democratic majorities. Remaining constant in their voting pattern during this entire 20-year span are Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and South Carolina.

House

VA-4: Republicans Choose Special Election Nominee — Republicans re-nominated their 2020 and 2022 candidate in the Saturday, Dec. 17 “firehouse primary” through Ranked Choice Voting. The local 4th District Republican Party leadership did not release the actual results, only to say that pastor and US Navy veteran Leon Benjamin had defeated former Mecklenburg School Board member Dale Sturdifen, and non-profit advocacy organization director Derrick Hollie. Benjamin now advances to the Feb. 21 special general election to replace the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond). He will again be a decided underdog in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates D+30.

The Democratic firehouse primary will be held today. Four candidates filed to run: state Sens. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) and Joseph Morrisey (D-Richmond), former state Delegate Joseph Preston, and businessman Tavorise Marks. While the special election will be held in late February, Gov. Glenn Younkin’s (R) call required the parties to choose nominees by Dec. 23.

In another development, Colette McEachin, the late congressman’s widow, announced her endorsement of Sen. McClellan, joining most of the Virginia Democratic establishment who has already done so.

States

North Carolina: NC Supreme Court Tosses State Senate Map — The North Carolina state Supreme Court, with the 4-3 Democratic majority on the cusp of expiring, rejected the NC Senate map on a partisan vote as a partisan gerrymander. But, the action is likely to be short-lived and adds fuel to the speculation that the new legislature will re-draw all of the state’s redistricting maps after commencement. Doing so may well render moot the partisan gerrymandering case that the US Supreme Court recently heard.

Under North Carolina legislative procedure, the governor has no veto power over redistricting legislation, so whatever the legislature passes will become law. Because of the current court’s farewell action, the state Senate map must be re-configured. Since Republicans gained two seats on the state Supreme Court in the November election and will have a 5-2 majority beginning in January, the likelihood of not only the Senate map being redrawn but also the state House and congressional delegation plans is greater. The latter two maps are court-drawn interim placeholders, which the legislature can replace at any time.

Presidential Primary Plans in Flux; NV-1 2022 Candidate Files Again;
VA-4 Special Updates;
Gov. Baker Goes to NCAA

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Dec. 19, 2022

President

Primary Schedule: Push-Back Could Change Announced Plan — Apparently, the Democrats haven’t quite settled on the 2024 primary schedule due to objections from certain party leaders about South Carolina being moved to the number one position. Last week, President Biden made a specific schedule change suggestion involving several states that the initial Democratic National Committee policy panel approved. The plan called for South Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Georgia, and Michigan, in that order, being allowed to host primary elections prior to a larger number of states voting on Super Tuesday in early March.

Now, it appears that a move potentially involving Georgia, Nevada, or North Carolina ultimately becoming the first state on the Democratic calendar could potentially alter the not-yet-adopted presidential primary voting schedule. Therefore, while it looked as if the Biden suggestions were headed for full DNC adoption, that might not prove to be the final decision. Stay tuned.

House

NV-1: Challenger Files 2024 Committee — Businessman Mark Robertson (R), who lost to Rep. Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas) by a 52-46 percent count in November, has filed a new congressional committee for 2024. Robertson’s action does not mean he is committed to running again, but certainly leaves the door open for a seamless transition into another campaign. Short-term, it provides a legal fundraising vehicle.

Redistricting changed the 1st District from a D+22 seat, according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization, to its current D+4, thus making it a competitive CD for the next several elections. Whether Robertson again becomes an official candidate or not, Rep. Titus can expect another competitive challenge coming her way in 2024.

VA-4: Democrat Drops Out — Approaching the quickly called Dec. 20 firehouse special election primary, where only five polling stations are open throughout the sprawling district that stretches from Richmond to the North Carolina border, state Delegate Lamont Bagby (D-Richmond), one of the leading candidates, withdrew from the race and endorsed state Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond). She now appears as the party leaders’ selected choice.

Republicans voted in their firehouse primary Saturday. The scheduled Feb. 21 special congressional election is on the ballot to replace the late Congressman Donald McEachin (D-Richmond).

States

Massachusetts: Gov. Baker in Line for New Position — Outgoing Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) has accepted a new position that takes him both out of politics and the private business sector. Beginning in March, he will become the new President of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

Now that football is administered through the College Football Association, the NCAA has much less influence over the domain of college athletics. His biggest challenge in this new position is making sure the organization does not lose control over the annual national college basketball tournament, which is currently the NCAA’s largest event.