Category Archives: House

A Full Congressional Race Recap

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 3, 2020 — Below is a rundown on the key campaigns today and which seats may flip. The Senate races are close with both parties having a chance to claim the majority. The House looks to stay under Democratic control with the main question being whether they expand their majority or Republicans can diminish the majority’s 17-seat margin. Here’s how things line up today:


SENATE

Potential Democrat to Republican Flips:

• Alabama – Tommy Tuberville positioned to win
• Michigan• John James close in some polls; outside chance for upset
• Minnesota• Jason Lewis with long-shot chance to defeat Sen. Tina Smith


Potential Republican to Democrat Flips:

• Arizona – Though closing, Martha McSally will likely come up short against Mark Kelly
• Colorado – Sen. Gardner appears headed for a loss
• Georgia-A – Sen. Perdue polling is slipping; could lose or be forced to a runoff
• Maine – Sen. Collins rebounded but Ranked Choice Voting could defeat her if race leader is under 50 percent


Toss-Up to Leaning Republican

• Alaska – Sen. Sullivan sees polling now going his way; typical Alaska pattern
• Georgia-B – Rev. Warnock finishes first but forced to run-off; tight between Sen. Loeffler and Rep. Collins for second position; runoff is Jan 5
• Iowa – Sen. Ernst’s numbers improving; small lead; momentum is her way
• Kansas – Rep. Marshall should prevail, but margin may be small
• Kentucky – Sen. McConnell wins
• Montana – Sen. Daines with slight advantage; R turnout model should help save him
• North Carolina – Tight, but Sen. Tillis has the momentum; Cunningham hurt by scandal; GOP early vote numbers better than 2016
• South Carolina – Sen. Graham looks to score close win despite massive spending against him
• Texas – Sen. Cornyn clear favorite, but win percentage may be down; early vote a plus for GOP


HOUSE

• Alabama – no change in delegation
• Alaska – Rep. Young up in polling late; should prevail
• Arizona – Rep. O’Halleran wins Rep. Schweikert in clear danger of losing
• Arkansas – no change in delegation
• California – Reps. LaMalfa and McClintock have competitive opponents but should win
            – Assemblyman Jay Obernolte holds open 8th CD for Republicans
            – Ex-Rep. Valadao in strong position to re-claim the seat he lost in 2018.
            – Rep. Cisneros wins another close race against GOPer Young Kim Rep. Rouda prevails against Supervisor Michelle Steel (R)
            – Former Rep. Darrell Issa returns winning District 50
            – Ex-State Dept official Sara Jacobs wins double-Dem general in CA-53
• Colorado – Lauren Boebert in close general after ousting Rep. Tipton in R primary; 2nd Amendment key issue and might be difference in her winning
• Connecticut – no change in delegation
• Delaware – no change in delegation
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On Election Night, Keep Your Eyes on Arizona, Florida and Wisconsin

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 29, 2020 — There has been prevalent speculation that we may not see a winner in the presidential election and certainly in some Senate and House races come the evening of Nov. 3, but research into the processing and counting systems of each state suggests such a conclusion may actually prove unlikely.

The election procedures in Arizona, Florida, and Wisconsin all point to having a victory projection coming from these states on election night, thus making them the “tells” for the national vote. If President Trump loses either Arizona or Florida, it will almost assuredly secure a Joe Biden victory. On the other hand, should the president sweep the three aforementioned states, he will be headed toward clinching re-election.

The huge number of precast, or early votes, around the country is another mitigating fact that may halt the need to advance into political overtime, at least for the presidential race. Through Monday, almost 60 million people have voted (59,095,114 according to the Target Smart statistical organization), meaning these ballots and many more will be stacked in vote centers awaiting processing and counting.

The overwhelming early voting response, up 100 percent from this time in 2016, will assuredly lessen the number of in-person voters on Election Day, especially since the early vote number will continue to grow throughout the balance of this week.

Generally, the state processing and tabulation procedures fall into one of three categories: counting the ballots as they arrive, but not releasing totals until after the polls close; keeping the received ballots until the morning of Election Day when counting can begin; or, having to wait until the polls close before beginning to count.

First, the pre-election counting states: 23 may begin tallying as ballots are received but are prohibited from releasing any vote totals. They are:

• Arizona
• Colorado
• Connecticut
• Delaware
• Florida
• Hawaii
• Indiana
• Iowa
• Kentucky
• Louisiana
• Maryland
• Montana
• Nebraska
• Nevada
• New Hampshire
• New Jersey
• New Mexico
• North Carolina
• Ohio
• Oklahoma
• Oregon
• Utah
• Wisconsin

Eleven states are authorized to begin counting the morning of Election Day:
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Arizona’s Importance

By Jim Ellis

Does Arizona hold the key in the Trump-Biden election?

Oct. 9, 2020 — Now moving quickly toward Election Week, it is becoming apparent that the ultimate bellwether state for the 2020 presidential election is the Grand Canyon State of Arizona. Formerly a rock solid Republican political domain, the state has been trending toward the political center in recent elections, most particularly 2018.

Coming into the closing weeks of this year’s presidential campaign, it appears that Arizona may be this election’s “tell.” While it’s possible mathematically for President Trump to win in the Electoral College without Arizona, realistically doing so may be a bridge too far.

The principal reason is Arizona has 11 electoral votes, and the idea that Trump could replace it with taking Wisconsin or Minnesota, for example, fails because those states each have 10 votes. Therefore, losing Arizona would lead to him either falling into a tie, or losing the national electoral vote count, 270-268.

The latter electoral vote margin occurs if he also drops the 2nd Congressional District of Nebraska, a state that is one of a pair to split their electoral votes. The most recent public NE-2 poll, from Siena College/New York Times (Aug. 25-27; 420 NE-2 likely voters, live interview), finds the president trailing former vice president Joe Biden in the Omaha metro district, 41-48 percent.

The Trump math also fails without Arizona even if he carries Pennsylvania as his lone Great Lakes State. Losing Arizona, Michigan, and Wisconsin from his 2016 state coalition map, along with NE-2, would also yield a 270-268 Biden victory.

Earlier this week, the Data Orbital polling firm headquartered in Phoenix and is the most prolific survey research firm in testing the Arizona electorate from statewide through local offices, released their latest presidential and US Senate numbers. Their poll (Oct. 3-5; 550 likely Arizona voters, live interview) is the first Arizona survey taken wholly after both the first presidential debate and President Trump being hospitalized for COVID-19.

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Changes in House Race Ratings

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 6, 2020 — With the presidential race in a state of flux because of President Trump’s COVID diagnosis, it’s a good time to adjust House ratings in races where we see movement.

Freshman Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Laguna Beach) and Michelle Steele (R) battle in CA-48.

In our prognostications, we move one of our 21 previous toss-up races from that category and into Lean Democratic group.

In California’s 48th District, freshman Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Laguna Beach) defends what was formerly a safe Republican seat. Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel is the Republican general election qualifier and viewed as a strong contender.

Relentless media attack ads against her wealthy husband’s business dealings in China has put her on the defensive, however, which is never a good position for a challenger. At least for the time being, with now less than a month to go until Election Day, this race looks to be trending toward the Lean Democratic column.

We see more action in the “lean” sectors. Three Lean Democratic rated races are moving into the Toss-up grouping, while eight Lean Republican contests are likewise transferring to the most competitive category.

• FL-27: A Republican move in general has been detected in South Florida, which makes the re-match between freshman representative and former Health & Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala (D-Miami) and Spanish language news broadcaster Maria Elvira Salazar (R) more competitive.
In 2018, Shalala was elected with a 52-46 percent victory margin. The only published poll for this race was released at the beginning of September from the 1892 research organization (Oct. 2-6; 400 likely FL-27 voters, live interview) and it gave Salazar a surprising 48-45 percent advantage, and Democrats have not promoted any countering data.

• IA-1: A new survey from Basswood Research for the Congressional Leadership Fund (Sept. 26-28; 400 likely IA-1 voters) finds Iowa freshman Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-Dubuque) and former television news anchor and state Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Cedar Rapids) now locked in a dead heat at 45 percent apiece.
The result is a considerable improvement for Hinson who had been trailing prior to this poll, but the latest numbers are reflective of the competitive nature of this eastern Iowa district that has flipped back and forth between Democratic and Republican representation during the decade.

• PA-17: According to reports from the district and the latest released public poll (OnMessage; Sept. 2-3; 400 likely PA-17 voters), Pennsylvania challenger Sean Parnell (R) has seized the momentum against Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburg). The OnMessage results find Parnell pulling to within one point (45-44 percent) of Rep. Lamb who, in 2018, won a 56-44 percent victory over then-Rep. Keith Rothfus (R). This is certainly a race to watch in a district where President Trump scored a two-point victory in 2016.
Most of the action moving into the toss-up category occurs for Democratic candidates. Below we see eight races moving from Lean Republican to Toss-up.

• AZ-6: Arizona Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills/Scottsdale) agreeing that he committed eleven ethics and campaign finance violations has certainly put him on the defensive, particularly since his win percentage dropped to 55-45% in 2018. He had averaged 62.7% of the vote in his three previous re-election campaigns.
We have seen four public polls released here since August began, and both Rep. Schweikert and challenger Hiral Tipirneni (D), a physician who had previously run in the adjoining 8th District, were each leading in two of the four surveys. The margin between the two candidates fell between two and four points. Rep. Schweikert is clearly in trouble here, giving the Democrats a strong opportunity to convert this Republican seat.

• CA-25: California Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita) won a surprisingly large 10-point victory in the May 12 special election. The latest poll, however, finds Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Newhall) climbing back into the lead, again making this a toss-up campaign. The most recent survey comes from the Democratic firm, Normington Petts (Sept. 21-23; 400 likely CA-25 voters) and pushes Smith to a 51-45 percent advantage when leaners to each candidate are included. In late August, another Democratic pollster, the Global Strategy Group (Aug. 26-30; 400 likely CA-25 voters), gave Garcia a one-point, 46-45 percent, edge.

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Challengers With a Lead – Part II

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 30, 2020 — Continuing with the second of our two-part series depicting challengers who have placed even with or ahead of their incumbent opponent at some point since summer began, today we look at the states in the second half of the alphabet. As a reminder, already eight 2020 US House challengers have unseated their incumbent opponents, obviously all in the primaries.

Below is the list of the second group of 11 incumbents, making a total of 22 challengers who have drawn even or led their incumbent opponents:


Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ-2):

• POLL: Public Policy Polling (Sept. 14-17)
Challenger: Amy Kennedy (D), margin: +5 points
• POLL: ALG (Sept. 14-15)
Challenger: Amy Kennedy (D), margin: +4 points
2016 Presidential: Trump: 51-46%
—    Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis Township/Atlantic City) was elected as a Democrat in 2018 but changed parties a year later. He now faces the general electorate for the first time as a Republican. At this point, we see two consecutive polls giving challenger Amy Kennedy, the wife of former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), leads at the outer edges of the polling margin of error. We will see a great deal of action here in the closing days.


Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ-7):

• POLL: National Republican Congressional Committee (June 24-26)
Challenger: St. Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R), margin: +2 points
2016 Presidential: Clinton: 49-47%
—    The 7th Congressional District of New Jersey, which stretches from the Pennsylvania border to the outskirts of Newark, has been a Republican seat since 1980 until two years ago when freshman Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill) unseated five-term veteran Leonard Lance (R).
State Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr., whose father served as governor for two terms from 1982-1990, returns for another race for federal office. He first ran for the 7th District in 2000, and then the US Senate in 2006, losing both times. Kean has served in the New Jersey legislature for 19 years. Though we’ve only seen one public poll here, this appears to be a toss-up race and more data should soon become available.


Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM-2):

• POLL: Research & Polling (Aug. 26-Sept. 2)
Rep. Torres Small, margin: +2 points
• POLL: Tarrance Group (July 7-9)
Margin: Even
• POLL: Public Opinion Strategies (Dec. 18-19, 2019)
Challenger: Ex-St. Rep. Yvette Herrell (R) margin: +2
2016 Presidential: Trump: 50-40%
—    This is a re-match of the 2018 open-seat campaign that saw political newcomer Xochitl Torres Small (D-Las Cruces) slip past then-state Rep. Yvette Herrell by a 51-49 percent count. Herrell returns with a strong primary victory over New Mexico Oil & Gas Association president Claire Chase, a candidate who many believed would be a stronger opponent for the congresswoman. Herrell did take the early general election lead, but the later polling has slightly favored the incumbent. The 2nd District is a must-win for Republicans if they are to be competitive for majority status.


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Challengers With a Lead – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 29, 2020 — We’ve already seen eight 2020 US House challengers unseat their incumbent opponents so far — obviously all in the primaries. Is it possible that that’s a precursor to a larger number of incumbents losing their seats in the general election?

In typical election years, well over 90 percent of incumbents who seek re-election win. Therefore, eight members denied re-nomination in their own party primary elections is an unusually high number. What’s more, turning to the general election, 22 House incumbents have trailed in at least one poll since July began.

Below is the list of the first 11 incumbents, alphabetically by state, who are facing what appear to be the most competitive challengers in the country. The list includes 14 Republican incumbents and eight Democrats for a total of 22. Tomorrow, we will cover the remaining 11. All challengers have led the incumbent in at least one political poll of their race.


Rep. Don Young (R-AK-AL):

• Public Policy Polling (July 7-8)
Challenger: Alyse Galvin (I/D) margin: +2 points
2016 Presidential: Trump, 51-37%
—   Galvin ran in 2018 and saw similar polling numbers even as late as Oct. 29. Rep. Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon) would still go onto win the race 53-46 percent. Galvin is one of the many close finishers returning for a re-match this year.


Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ-6):

• Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (Aug. 6-12)
Challenger: Hiral Tipirneni (D) margin: +3 points
2016 Presidential: Trump, 52-42%
—   Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills/Scottsdale) has pleaded to 11 ethics violations relating to using his government resources for political purposes in addition to campaign finance irregularities. With the district becoming more Democratic in addition to his personal situation, Rep. Schweikert faces his toughest re-election campaign against physician Hiral Tipirneni who twice ran close races in the adjoining 8th CD.


Rep. Mike Garcia (R-CA-25):

• Normington Petts (Sept. 21-23)
Challenger: Assemblywoman Christy Smith’s margin: +3 points
2016 Presidential: Clinton, 50-44%
—   One of the most recent polls found for this House study shows Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita) — who won his seat in a May 12 special election by surprisingly taking a seat back from the Democrats — trailing state Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Newhall), the woman he defeated four months ago. With California going heavily Democratic in the presidential election, it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility that this race again becomes a toss-up despite Rep. Garcia’s 10-point win with a high special election turnout.


Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL-27):

• 1892 Polling (Sept. 2-6)
Challenger: Maria Elvira Salazar margin: +3 points
2016 Presidential: Clinton, 58-39%
—   This is a re-match of the 2018 open seat campaign that saw former Health & Human Services Secretary and President of the University of Miami, Donna Shalala, top former Spanish language television news reporter Maria Elvira Salazar. Shalala’s victory margin was 52-46 percent. The only public poll released so far came in early September and produced a surprising result with Salazar pulling slightly ahead.


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MN-2: Election Postponed

By Jim Ellis

Minnesota’s MN-2 Congressional District sits southeast of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, encompassing the region’s southern suburbs and traveling to the Wisconsin border.

Sept. 28, 2020 — A bizarre occurrence has happened in Minnesota that will apparently delay the 2nd Congressional District election until Feb. 9, 2021. Under state law, if a major party candidate passes away within 79 days of the general election date, the vote for the affected office is delayed for approximately three months.

Adam Weeks is the Legal Marijuana Now party congressional nominee, and under Minnesota election law this entity is recognized as a major party. Therefore, Weeks’ untimely and unexpected death earlier this week forces the congressional election of which he was a part to now be held Feb. 9. Though ballots are already printed, any votes cast for the 2nd District contest will not be recognized or counted.

The law came into effect after the death of Sen. Paul Wellstone (D) who perished along with his wife and daughter in a tragic plane crash 11 days before the 2002 election. Under Minnesota law at the time, a replacement nominee had to be chosen because the election would proceed as scheduled. That candidate became former vice president and Minnesota senator, Walter Mondale (D), who would go onto lose to Republican Norm Coleman in a close 50-47 percent election.

Taking action well after 2002, the state enacted the current statute that requires a postponement of the affected political contest. The situation directly touches freshman Rep. Angie Craig (D-Eagan) and Republican nominee Tyler Kistner. The Legal Marijuana Now party will have the opportunity to replace Weeks for the Feb. 9 election.

There are more ramifications than meet the eye here, however. First of all, Rep. Craig will have to leave office at the end of the current Congress because her term will expire. This means she will be out of office for more than one month of the new 117th session. This would put her at the end of the seniority list for the current freshman class if and when she eventually returns to the House.

Secondly, and perhaps the greater problem for all concerned, is that this particular Minnesota statute is likely to be found conflicting with the federal law that requires all states to hold a general election for federal offices on the same day, in this case Nov. 3, 2020.

The national election law also was the key factor in forcing Louisiana to hold its formatted jungle primary election concurrently with the general election date. Before, the Bayou State primary was held in September and anyone winning an absolute majority in that one election was declared the outright victor. The Justice Department ruled that the state could no longer hold an early jungle primary that allowed someone to win outright because it conflicted with the law requiring every state to hold a uniform and simultaneous general election.

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