Category Archives: House

Biden’s Achilles Heel

By Jim Ellis

President Joe Biden

Jan. 21, 2022 — The International online survey research firm YouGov just released a major US national poll for CBS News reporting upon their respondents’ attitudes and views about President Joe Biden and his administration’s effectiveness, and the segmented data revealed a surprising information point.

In fact, the analysis pinpointed what appears to be a severe area of weakness for the president’s Democratic Party in relation to the midterm elections.

The exhaustive survey, conducted online of 2,094 American adults during the Jan. 12-14 period, focused on the issue areas (in alphabetical order) of Afghanistan, the coronavirus, crime, the economy, inflation, immigration, police and policing, and race relations. In all areas but coronavirus, where the president scored a 52:48 percent favorable rating, his approval score was underwater.

His worst showing came in his handling of inflation. On this issue, the respondent sample expressed unfavorable views about the administration’s performance in a whopping 30:70 percent positive to negative ratio.

While there has been quite a bit of post-2020 election coverage about the Republicans’ improved performance among Hispanics in particular, one group with whom Democrats have gained substantially during the past few elections is among college-educated voters. The Republicans’ diminished vote within this sector is likely a bigger area of concern for party leaders and strategists than how the GOP candidates are performing with minority voters.

Since the Obama presidential election of 2012, the Republican share among college-educated voters has dropped significantly. In fact, it is within this segment where Joe Biden outperformed Hillary Clinton with his greatest increase level. In 2012, President Obama captured 46 percent of the college-educated vote. Four years later, Clinton increased the percentage to 50, and in 2020, Biden’s share rose to 54 percent, or a full eight points better than Obama’s in an eight-year period.

These figures come from the Catalist data trust firm, an entity that bills itself as the “longest running such company in progressive politics,” as reported in a post-election analysis article on the Vox information news site.

The YouGov/CBS poll segmentation categorizes white 4-year college educated voters. Except for the coronavirus and crime issues, this highly educated sector appears to be turning on President Biden. In fact, their negative views on the economy, and particularly inflation, closely mirror the aggregate response, a sampling universe that contains overwhelmingly negative responses from self-identified conservatives.

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Two More House Dems to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 20, 2022 — Setting off a game of political musical chairs, eight-term California Democrat US Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton) announced Tuesday that he will not seek a ninth term later this year. Rhode Island US Rep. Jim Langevin (D-Warwick) also announced that he will not seek re-election later this year.

CA-9; CA-13; current CA-22

Eight-term California Democrat US Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton) announced his retirement this week.

Originally elected to a Bay Area-anchored district in 2006 when he defeated veteran Rep. Richard Pombo (R), McNerney’s then-11th District was moved into the San Joaquin Valley because of 2011 redistricting. The new 9th District will still be anchored in the city of Stockton, but the updated version is somewhat more Republican than the current CA-9. The Congressman would have been favored for re-election, however.

Immediately upon McNerney’s announcement, Rep. Josh Harder (D-Turlock), who had decided to seek re-election in the new 13th District after his current 10th District was divided into various parts under the new redistricting plan, declared that he will run to succeed the retiring congressman. The 9th CD is slightly more Democratic than the CA-13, but it is still cast as a relatively competitive general election seat.

With Rep. Harder abandoning his re-election plans in CA-13, state Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) quickly announced that he will run for Congress in the suddenly open district that stretches north to south from Modesto to Fresno through Merced and Madera Counties.

California’s Central Valley is in a state of political flux. With the special election for resigned Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-Tulare) underway in the neighboring current 22nd District and the candidates having no place to run in the regular election, the 13th District could now become an attractive landing spot for one or more of the GOP special election contenders.

A Republican will be an underdog in the new 13th, but at least the candidate would have a fighting chance to win a full term and the opportunity of seeking re-election if successful.

Former Rep. Nunes’ CA-22, a Republican seat that occupies parts of Fresno and Tulare Counties, was torn to pieces as part of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission plan, as was Rep. Harder’s CD in the agricultural region’s northern section. As a result, a Republican district, numbered 5, was created northeast of Fresno to the outskirts of Sacramento that Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) will claim. This is where Rep. Nunes would have run for re-election had he stayed in Congress.

Two swing Democratic districts, the aforementioned 9th and 13th, and two stronger Democratic seats — the 21st that contains downtown Fresno where Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) will seek re-election, and the new 22nd District to the west from where Republican Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) is endangered in the general election — were also created.

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Ohio Congressional Map Tossed

The Ohio State Supreme Court invalidated the state’s newly enacted congressional map and returned the plan to the Ohio state legislature to be redrawn. The state lost a seat in reapportionment. (Map: Dave’s Redistricting App)


By Jim Ellis

Jan. 19, 2022 — The Ohio State Supreme Court, on a 4-3 vote with the Republican Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor voting with the three Democratic members, last Friday invalidated the state’s newly enacted congressional map and returned the plan to be redrawn. The decision may result in a blow to Republican hopes of re-capturing the US House majority as the Ohio draw is one of the party’s most important maps.

The high court’s action followed a similar 4-3 decision the previous day to reject the state House and Senate maps. All of the plans were invalidated for the same reason: they did not meet the competitiveness provision in the Ohio redistricting proposition that the people’s vote enacted prior to the commencement of the re-mapping process. The justices claimed the plan must better reflect the partisan statewide voting pattern, a measure that favors Republicans but not to the extent of the district ratios projected for the jettisoned maps.

The current Ohio congressional map stands at 12 Republicans and four Democrats. The state lost a seat in reapportionment, so the advisory redistricting commission members and the legislature were tasked with creating a new 15-district congressional plan.

By most accounts, the new map would have likely elected 10 Republicans and two Democrats, while featuring three politically marginal districts, those of Reps. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati) and Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) and an open seat largely created because Reps. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River) and Tim Ryan (D-Warren) are leaving their seats to retire and run for the Senate, respectively. Therefore, the state’s electoral split could have swung anywhere from 10R-5D all the way to 13R-2D.

The ruling likely creates the greatest change for two of the aforementioned members. The court specifically cited the Hamilton County draw in Rep. Chabot’s seat that attached a swath into downtown Cincinnati. This created a city attachment to Butler County, thus placing it in Rep. Warren Davidson’s (R-Troy) strongly Republican 8th District. As a result, the 1st District became more Republican for Chabot, but still left him with a swing seat at best.

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New York Rep. John Katko to Retire

New York Rep. John Katko (R-Syracuse)

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 18, 2021 — New York Rep. John Katko (R-Syracuse) announced Friday that he will not seek a fifth term later this year, creating a 47th open seat for the 2022 US House elections.

Katko, who indicated that he and his wife buried all four of their parents during the past three years, which he said was “gut-wrenching,” says he now desires more time with his family. He leaves a seat where he has averaged 56.5 percent of the vote as one of only eight Republicans from the 27-member Empire State delegation.

Other factors may also have played a role in his retirement decision. Redistricting appeared to be creating some re-election problems for Rep. Katko, as had former President Donald Trump.

New York lost a seat in reapportionment — a district collapse that will come from the Upstate region. Early maps suggested that Katko’s Syracuse-anchored seat would be combined with Rep. Claudia Tenney’s 22nd District, which would result in a paired incumbent situation before the primary winner likely would face another competitive general election campaign.

In the past two election cycles, Rep. Katko’s opponent was college professor Dana Balter (D), and her challenges resulted in expensive and hard fought 53-43 percent (2020) and 52-47 percent (2018) victories. Balter spent $2.7 million and $3.3 million in her two successive races against Rep. Katko, totaling $6 million, which he countered with a combined $6.3 million. Additionally, both candidates received hundreds of thousands of dollars in support from their respective political parties and outside groups.

The NY-24 seat is one of only nine districts where the electorate supported President Biden and elected a Republican to the House. In the current Congress, the 24th is one of just three districts that Hillary Clinton carried while electing a Republican Representative. Katko had repeatedly proven himself as an effective and successful political candidate.

In a paired 2022 situation against Rep. Tenney, however, the retiring congressman would have faced increasing pressure from his political right largely because of his vote to impeach former President Trump. Additionally, the New York Conservative Party leadership said they would not allow Katko to run with their ballot line in the 2022 general election. In New York, a candidate can run with more than one party designation.

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GOP Battle Brewing in
North Carolina Senate

Former Gov. Pat McCrory (R-NC) – on thin ice in Senate bid? / Photo by Hal Goodtree, Flickr

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 17, 2022 — The North Carolina Senate candidates have dealt with more uncertainty than any other set of statewide political contenders in this election cycle. Some of the questions have now been answered, but others remain.

Due to the continuing congressional and state legislative redistricting legal battles that have hampered the state for virtually the entire preceding decade, even the candidate filing date and the primary schedule itself were in doubt until the courts finally set a political calendar.

In order to be more relevant for the 2020 presidential election, the legislature moved the state’s traditional May primary to early March to better influence the presidential nomination selection. By not taking action to move the primary back to May, it appeared that voters would choose their ’22 nominees on March 8.

In December, the state Supreme Court, after an early flurry of lower court redistricting action, took it upon themselves to transfer the state primary to May 17. They merely suspended the Dec. 17 candidate filing deadline, but did not issue a new date. Earlier this week, as part of its ruling upholding the GOP legislature’s congressional and legislative maps, the special three-judge panel assigned to hear the redistricting challenges set the filing deadline for March 4.

With these basic questions now answered, the candidates finally have a clear electoral timeline in which to work. With the Democrats earlier coming together on a consensus candidate, fireworks are beginning on the Republican side. In mid-December, state Sen. Jeff Jackson (D-Charlotte), thought to be a major US Senate contender, dropped his statewide bid. This makes former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley an overwhelming favorite for the Democratic nomination.

In the past few days, a pair of Tar Heel State Republican primary Senate polls were released almost simultaneously, with both finding former Gov. Pat McCrory holding an edge over US Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance). The ex-state chief executive’s advantage isn’t what one would expect for a well known party leader before his own partisan electorate, however. The McCrory campaign released their Strategic Partners Solutions survey (Jan. 5; 800 likely North Carolina Republican primary voters) that gives their man a 30-21-8 percent lead over Rep. Budd and former US Rep. Mark Walker.

The Civitas Institute’s latest Cygnal statewide poll (Jan. 7-9; 600 likely North Carolina Republican primary voters) also found McCrory holding an initial lead, but only through a 24-19 percent spread. Pushing for a decision from the 48 percent who said they were undecided and adding those preferences to the total actually finds Rep. Budd pulling into a small lead, 34-33 percent, when accounting for those who have “definitely” and “probably” made up their minds.

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