Category Archives: Polling

He’s Baaaaaack!

By Jim Ellis

                      Judge Roy Moore

June 24, 2019 — As expected and despite urgings from President Trump not to do so, former Alabama state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore announced his Senate 2020 candidacy late last week.

We will remember Judge Moore’s ill-fated 2017 special Senate election effort that resulted in Democrat Doug Jones becoming the first member of his party to win an Alabama Senate seat since Howell Heflin was last re-elected in 1990.

Even before the announcement, Moore and Sen. Richard Shelby (R) were again trading barbs. Judge Moore argued that Shelby’s involvement, which culminated in the senior senator saying he was placing “country before party,” led to Jones’ victory, while Shelby retorted that he still thinks “Alabama can do better,” in a reference about electing Judge Moore.

Arguably, Alabama is the most important Senate race on the 2020 election board. If the Republicans take back the seat, which is a must if they want to cement their hold on the majority, the Senate party division would increase to 54 Republicans. Looking at the remaining seats in play for the current election cycle it becomes increasingly difficult for the Democrats to reach majority status if they lose this race.

In 2017, Judge Moore, after defeating appointed incumbent Luther Strange 55-45 percent in a run-off election after placing first with 39 percent in the original special primary, was found to have attempted to date, or did date, between two and nine underage girls when he was a deputy district attorney in Etowah County some 40 years ago. The controversy likely cost Moore the election, a battle that he lost to Jones 50.0 to 48.3 percent.

The 2020 regular primary appears to feature a more difficult field of opponents for Moore than did the special election. Appointed Sen. Strange waded into his own batch of quicksand when allegations surfaced that he allegedly cut a deal with Gov. Robert Bentley (R) when the former man was Alabama’s attorney general and the state chief executive was being scrutinized for spending and utilizing state resources for his personal use.

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Coming to Grips With
The Tar Heel State Electorate

By Jim Ellis

North Carolina Congressional Districts

June 21, 2019 — A new North Carolina poll from Harper Polling conducted for the state’s conservative Civitas Institute (June 8-10; 500 likely North Carolina voters) charts just how difficult it may be for any candidate to strike a balance with the current inconstant Tar Heel State electorate.

As we know, North Carolina is one of the nation’s genuine swing states, and how they break in the 2020 national election will go a long way toward determining the outcome of the next presidential election. Looking at the national electorate from a partisan presidential context, the state is a must-win for President Trump, but less so for the eventual Democratic nominee. If the Democrat were to convert North Carolina, however, a national victory for his or her party would be the likely result.

The survey was fielded to look at several issues and attitudes in the state, and mostly test the 2020 governor’s race. The respondent sample correctly reflects the North Carolina party division (actual: 37.1 percent Democrat, 30.1 percent Republican; poll: 37 percent Democrat, 31 percent Republican), and shows an ideological bent toward the conservatives (combination of strongly and somewhat conservative: 52 percent, strongly and somewhat liberal: 20 percent); but lurches heavily female: 54-46 percent (actual state: 51.3 percent female, 48.7 percent male).

Additionally, the sample claims to have supported President Trump in greater numbers than the actual vote: Trump 46-38 percent in the Harper Poll versus 50-46 percent in the actual 2016 vote count. This is surprising considering the respondent sample leans so heavily female.

But on the two issues tested: college student loans and the tariffs with China, the respondents provide some unexpected answers. Their retorts suggest that candidates from both parties may have a difficult time forging a winning path through the North Carolina electorate.

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Florida: Biden Up

Former vice president, Joe Biden (Getty Images)


By Jim Ellis

June 20, 2019 — Quinnipiac University surveyed the Florida electorate (June 12-17; 1,279 registered Florida voters, 417 self-identified Democrats) and found former Vice President Joe Biden opening a substantial lead over Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) there. He also posts a healthy advantage against President Trump in a hypothetical general election pairing in what is always a critical voting domain.

The Q-Poll numbers find Biden scoring a 41-14-12 percent advantage over Sens. Sanders and Warren, respectively, with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) trailing in single-digits with eight and six percent, sequentially.

As Nate Silver, founder of the 538 statistical website, said in an interview this week that looking at general election polling this early is basically a futile exercise. It does, however, provide us a clue into candidates’ strengths and weaknesses. In the general election Q-Poll pairing, Biden records a 50-41 percent advantage over President Trump in Florida. This poll, of course, was taken before Trump’s Florida rally Tuesday night in which he kicked off his 2020 campaign.

Silver’s spoken sentiments are true because, among other reasons, so much time remains between now and the 2020 Nov. 3 election, and so many unknown events will occur that could alter the final outcome. Additionally, the campaign will drastically change when both parties have nominees and voters begin paying serious attention to the race.

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California Already Tightening

By Jim Ellis

June 17, 2019 — A new large-sample Golden State poll released from the University of California at Berkeley and the Los Angeles Times (June 4-10; 2,131 likely California Democratic primary voters from a pool of 4,435 registered voters) yields some surprising results. The three most unexpected findings first show a tight race among the four top contenders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) surging into second place, and home-state Sen. Kamala Harris only finishing fourth but not substantially behind.

The California primary, scheduled for March 3, possesses the largest number of first-ballot delegates of any state or territory. The state’s 416 first-ballot delegates, 272 of whom are divided among the 53 congressional districts and 144 at-large, will certainly help set the tone over how the Democratic National Convention unfolds.

Sen. Harris, who could well be the indicator candidate as to what scenario will occur at the convention, (i.e., will one candidate be able to coalesce a majority coalition on the first or second ballot or does the nomination battle fall into a multi-ballot contest) must score big in her home state, and this latest survey suggests her path is challenging but doable.

The Berkeley/LA Times study sees former Vice President Joe Biden holding a smaller lead than in past surveys, as he polls 22 percent first-choice responses. Sen. Warren makes a major jump into second place and records 18 percent, one of her best showings in any poll. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who has been dipping in polling across the country, places third at 17 percent, and Sen. Harris trails in fourth position, but is still clearly in the game at 13 percent.

Polling from around the country within the last 10 days, and this California study is obviously no exception, has been projecting a tighter Democratic race. Though Biden still leads, his advantage is lessening.

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Nevada Surprises

By Jim Ellis

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) moving up in Nevada

June 14, 2019 — Monmouth University just released their Nevada survey (June 6-11; 370 likely Nevada Democratic caucus attenders from a pool of 1,333 registered Democratic and unaffiliated voters) and it contained two major surprises.

First, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who is beginning to show signs of upward mobility after being stagnant since her campaign’s inception, moves into the runner-up position in the Silver State and, second, neighboring Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) fares poorly in an early voting venue where she needs to succeed.

The Monmouth data projects former Vice President Joe Biden to be leading the pack of candidates, as in almost every current poll, with 36 percent preference and Sen. Warren follows with 19 percent, ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who drops to 13 percent. Sen. Harris then places fifth with just six percent support, and one point behind South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Monmouth then asked the second-choice question. Within these responses, the candidates are closely bunched. Here, it is Sen. Warren who leads with 15 percent, but the group is so close that a statistical tie among the top four is the best way to categorize the answers. After Sen. Warren, Sen. Sanders posts 14 percent, while Sen. Harris performs better than on the initial ballot test, tying Biden at 13 percent.

The Nevada Caucus, even though it holds only 36 first-ballot delegates, is an important momentum builder. Placed third on the nomination calendar, Nevada follows the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary, respectively. It is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 22, and exactly a week before the South Carolina primary.

Nevada is important for Sen. Harris because she is unlikely to do particularly well in either Iowa or New Hampshire. She is expected to be one of the top finishers, if not the winner, in South Carolina, so a strong performance in Nevada is critical to give her some needed momentum in order to maximize her chances in the Palmetto State.

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Is Michigan Rep. Justin Amash
Seeking a Political Exit Strategy Should He Run for President?

By Jim Ellis

Michigan Rep. Justin Amash (R-Cascade Township/Grand Rapids)

June 13, 2019 — The Michigan Information & Research Service (MIRS) released an independent poll just a couple days ago from the Practical Political Consultants organization (June 5-9; 335 likely MI-3 Republican primary voters) that finds western Michigan Rep. Justin Amash (R-Cascade Township/Grand Rapids) trailing his announced 3rd Congressional District Republican primary opponent, state Rep. James Lower (R-Greenville), by a lopsided 49-33 percent count.

After Rep. Amash became the only Republican to side with the Democrats’ informal impeachment caucus over whether to bring proceedings against President Trump, speculation became more rampant that the five-term Michigan congressman would seek the Libertarian nomination for president. The new poll and his action earlier in the week of resigning from the Freedom Caucus and its leadership fuels more speculation that he will jump into the presidential contest.

Many are arguing that Amash would have an effect upon the national election to the point of potentially costing President Trump victory, or at the very least, the state of Michigan, but such an outcome is far from determined.

The Libertarian presidential nomination has some value in that the party can qualify for the ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It is the only political entity aside from the Republican and Democratic parties that has such an ability. Jill Stein, the 2016 and 2012 Green Party presidential nominee, appeared on the ballot in 45 and 38 states, respectively.

However, just how much of a factor are the individuals who represent the minor parties on the presidential ballot? Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson was the Libertarian nominee in both 2016 and 2012. He has already said he will not be a candidate in 2020. In 2012, his national vote total was 1.27 million. Four years later, his aggregate vote number soared to just under 4.5 million. But, was that due to Johnson himself, or is the Libertarian ballot position, regardless of the candidate’s name associated with it, simply the best place for disaffected voters to cast a ballot?

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2020 Open House Seats Review

By Jim Ellis

June 12, 2019 — Since the last national redistricting completed in 2011 for the 2012 election cycle, we have seen 222 US House seats come open, for a mean average of 55.5 per cycle during the eight-year period. Prior to this decade, the average House open seat factor was typically closer to 35.

In 2012, reflective of the new reapportionment from the 2010 census, the House featured 62 open seats. This was followed by 47 more in 2014, another 49 in 2016, and finally 64 opens in the 2018 election cycle.

So far in this current 2020 election cycle, the exodus syndrome appears to be winding down as we see only nine districts now opening, assuming that Montana at-large Rep. Greg Gianforte follows through with his stated plans to announce his gubernatorial campaign later this week. One open district, PA-12, was already filled at the end of May as Republican Rick Keller replaced resigned Rep. Tom Marino (R-Williamsport).

Below is a listing of the nine seats and the preliminary replacement outlook:


Special Elections – Sept. 10, 2019

NC-3: Rep. Walter Jones (R) – passed away Feb. 10, 2019
The Republicans are in a run-off election that will be decided on July 9. Participants are state Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Greenville) and physician Joan Perry of Kinston. The winner faces Democratic nominee Allen Thomas, the former mayor of Greenville. The eventual GOP nominee will begin the special general election as a heavy favorite for a seat that has been in Republican hands since 1995.


NC-9: Vacancy, non-declaration of 2018 election winner due to alleged voter fraud
Both parties nominated outright in this special election. Democrats feature 2018 nominee Dan McCready, who ran unopposed in the special primary. Republicans nominated outright state Sen. Dan Bishop (R-Charlotte), who captured 48 percent of the vote in a crowded Republican primary. A minimum total of 30 percent was needed to win outright nomination and avoid a run-off. Two polls have been released, both showing the race in toss-up mode with each candidate leading in one of the surveys.


Regular-Cycle Open Seats

AL-1: Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) running for Senate
With the Republican presidential nominee topping 60 percent of the vote here in the past three national elections, including President Trump attracting 63.5 percent, the Republicans will be in strong position to hold this seat. With candidate filing coming on Nov. 8 for the March 3 primary, the field of four announced candidates could swell to as many as 10 before the filing cycle concludes. No Democrat has yet come forward to declare.


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