Category Archives: Polling

TX-6 Special Election Today

By Jim Ellis

Susan Wright, favored in today’s TX-6 special election

July 27, 2021 — The late Texas US Rep. Ron Wright’s (R-Arlington) replacement will be chosen today as the double-Republican special congressional runoff election draws to a conclusion. The late congressman’s widow, Susan Wright (R), is favored over state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie), but low turnout elections often produce surprising results.

From a partisan context, the race is anti-climactic since we already know a Republican will claim the seat and expand the House Republican conference total to the 212 mark. Democrats hold 220 seats.

Two more vacant House seats will largely be decided next Tuesday when voters in two Ohio districts will go to the polls in partisan primary contests. In each case, winning the party nomination is virtually tantamount to claiming the seat, so it is highly likely that the two parties will split the elections. The Ohio nominees, however, will have to wait until Nov. 2 for their final vote. The special election season will conclude on Jan. 11, 2022, when South Florida voters will choose a successor to the late Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Delray Beach) in the state’s 20th District.

As is generally the case in special elections, voter turnout is the critical factor. The Texas Secretary of State has released the 6th District early voting participation numbers, and we see 20,534 ballots having been cast through July 23. In the May 1 jungle primary election, 45,259 people voted early, or 57.7 percent of the total voting universe for that election (78,471).

So far in this runoff, only 4.2 percent of the registered voter universe of 493,077 individuals have cast their ballot. Considering that 65.4 percent of Ellzey’s vote came via early voting in the special primary as compared to 47.2 percent for Wright, the low early totals should prove a benefit to the latter candidate.

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VA-Gov: Still Polling Close

Former Virginia governor, Terry McAuliffe

By Jim Ellis

July 15, 2021 — A new Trafalgar Group poll was released this week on the 2021 Virginia governor’s campaign, and the results supported data from two other pollsters that we analyzed in June.

The Trafalgar numbers (July 8-10; 1,104 likely Virginia voters, combination live interview and online) give former Virginia governor and ex-Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe a slight 47-45 percent edge over retired hedge fund CEO Glenn Youngkin (R) in a political contest that is much closer than analysts would have foretold at the very beginning of this election cycle.

The Trafalgar results were consistent with those found in June from WPA Intelligence (June 2-6; 508 likely Virginia voters, live interview) and JMC Analytics (June 9-12; 550 likely Virginia voters, live interview). In those surveys, McAuliffe held leads of 48-46 percent (WAPi) and 46-42 percent (JMC). Therefore, we see virtually no change within the five-week period, which has to be considered good news for underdog Youngkin.

None of the three polls published a geographic segmentation, which would have been interesting since Youngkin must hit certain benchmarks in the state’s most populous areas if he is to score an upset. All of these regions have been moving decidedly Democratic in the most recent elections.

Alternatively, if we look at the most competitive previous election result, one that elected McAuliffe, we can begin to pinpoint how the current race must form and if we are to see a Republican upset.

The first clue that a close race might develop came in this year’s Democratic primary held on June 8. Turnout, when compared with the 2017 primary that nominated current Gov. Ralph Northam in a lightly competitive race, reached 542,858. This year, the Democratic participation number fell by more than 34,000 voters to 508,616. This may suggest a lesser enthusiasm factor within the Democratic base for McAuliffe’s rerun campaign.

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OH-11: Special Election Tightening

By Jim Ellis

OH-11

July 14, 2021 — For most of the special election campaign to replace Housing & Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge in her vacated US House district, it appeared that former state senator and Bernie Sanders for President 2020 national co-chair Nina Turner was a lock for the Democratic nomination. As the contest steams toward an Aug. 3 special Democratic primary election date it appears, however, that the political battle is far from over.

Cuyahoga County Councilmember and County Democratic Party chair Shontel Brown is making major strides that have come to the surface in the past two weeks. According to a just-released Normington Petts survey for the Brown campaign (July 5-8; 400 OH-11 likely Democratic special primary election voters, live interview), ex-Sen. Turner now holds only a 43-36 percent margin over Brown with the 11 minor Democratic candidates splitting the remaining 7 percent preference total.

In the firm’s first poll of this race back in April, Turner led Brown, 42-10 percent. As Jill Normington notes in her released polling synopsis, the latest results find Brown gaining 26 support percentage points between the time the two Normington Petts polls were conducted as compared to just one for Turner.

With recently announced endorsements from Hillary Clinton, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC), Buckeye State 2018 gubernatorial nominee Richard Cordray, Ohio US Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus), the Congressional Black Caucus, and 18 local mayors, in addition to an impressive array of community, religious, and labor leaders from the district, it appears Brown is gaining serious momentum with three weeks remaining in the primary cycle.

Turner has her own strong support organization, too, most notably from Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, state Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko, former Ohio Democratic Party chairman David Pepper, and the Justice Democrats led by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Turner also draws support from her own group of a dozen Ohio state legislators and many local officials, along with a large number of Cleveland and Akron community and religious leaders.

Originally, Turner was lapping the entire field in terms of money raised and spent. Now, however, Brown has caught her in this area, too. According to the Daily Kos Elections site, Turner has spent $1.2 million in the campaign as compared to Brown’s $617,000, but they also track another $475,000 coming in from an outside negative ad expenditure targeted against Turner from the Democratic Majority for Israel organization.
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Pew’s Post-Election Findings

By Jim Ellis

The candidates in action at the first presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio: President Donald Trump (left) and former vice president Joe Biden.

July 8, 2021 — The Pew Research Center conducted a post-election poll and spent seven months developing their conclusions. On the last day of June, they publicized their report.

The study, conducted just after the November election (Nov. 7-12; 11,818 individuals through groups of screened panelists, online) was exhaustive.

Quoting the methodology description, “noncitizens and those who refused the citizenship question (N=450), voters who refused to answer the vote choice question (N=84) and panelists who declined to provide their names and thus could not be matched to a voter record (N=139) were removed, leaving 11,145 panelists for analysis.” Of this latter number, 9,668 respondents were validated as voters, meaning the research team verified with a local election office that the particular individual had in fact voted.

The basic voter segmentation conclusions were speculated upon in most media sectors during the early post-election period, but this research validates and expands upon the discovered patterns. Largely, President Biden received a significant boost from suburban voters, which proved the major difference in his increasing Democratic popular vote performance.

Despite losing the popular vote by a substantial margin, former President Trump surprisingly improved his standing with several groups such as Hispanics, Asians, black men, young voters, and women, but not to the degree necessary to counter Biden’s strength with suburban voters.

For example, among suburban voters, according to the Pew research, Biden recorded 54 percent support as compared to Hillary Clinton’s 45 percent in the 2016 election. Conversely, Trump only carried white voters 51-47 percent in the most current election, a major reduction from the 54-38 percent spread he posted four years earlier.

While Trump declined in the suburbs, his performance among rural voters was even stronger than his 2016 benchmark. In 2020, Trump’s percentage among rural voters rose to 65 percent from his 59 percent previous showing. Additionally, rural female voters largely account for his overall increase among women as he moved from 39 percent in ’16 to 44 percent in 2020.

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SCOTUS Rules; Calif. Recall Scheduled

Current US Supreme Court

By Jim Ellis

July 6, 2021 — On their last day of the year’s early session last week, a Thursday, the Supreme Court of the United States issued rulings on the Arizona voting rights case and the California non-profit organization disclosure lawsuit.

In the Democratic National Committee v. Brnovich, the Supreme Court with Justice Samuel Alito writing for the 6-3 majority, ruled that the state of Arizona did not infringe upon minority voting rights or violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act in both prohibiting ballot harvesting with certain exceptions, and not counting provisional ballots cast from voters who do not reside in the particular precinct that the polling place covers.

The high court agreed with Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s (R) arguments that the laws are not racially motivated, nor do they intentionally discriminate against certain segments of the voting population, thus overturning the full 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.

Originally in 2016, Brnovich won at the district court level and on the first appeal to a three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit. The DNC requested an en banc review of the original appellate ruling that agreed with Brnovich, and the entire 9th Circuit membership overturned the decision, siding with the plaintiff. At that point, AG Brnovich petitioned the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case. (Hearing cases en banc allows the full circuit court to overturn a decision reached by a three–judge panel. Due to the decreasing probability of U.S. Supreme Court intervention, the circuit court is often the court of last resort in the ordinary life of a case, thereby amplifying the importance of en banc review.)

In his ruling, Justice Alito stated that “every voting rule imposes a burden of some sort,” and that “mere inconvenience cannot be enough to demonstrate a violation of Section 2.” He also cautioned that, “what are at bottom very small differences should not be artificially magnified.”

While agreeing that holding free and open elections is a “valid and important state interest,” he also addressed the voter fraud argument, clearly stating that attempting to prevent such abuses is also a “strong and entirely legitimate state interest.”

In her article discussing these rulings, Supreme Court expert Amy Howe, in her Howe on the Court article that was published on the SCOTUS blog, offered that the Brnovich ruling “will make it more difficult to contest election regulations under the Voting Rights Act,” and thus likely means fewer voting rights cases coming through the courts. She further categorized this decision as a “major ruling.”

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