Category Archives: Polling

Is Biden Under-Performing?

By Jim Ellis

Former vice president and current 2020 presidential candidate, Joe Biden (D)

May 28, 2020 — Currently, former vice president Joe Biden is leading in virtually every battleground state poll that has been released into the public domain; but do the survey numbers tell the whole story? Other available data, that derived from actual votes being cast, suggest there may be cracks forming in his political armor.

In terms of battleground states, a new Arizona poll was released Tuesday, in what could become the most important must-win domain for the Trump campaign. There, the Phoenix-based HighGround Public Affairs consulting firm publicized their latest Arizona statewide poll (May 18-22; 400 likely Arizona general election voters), and the ballot test projects Biden holding a tighter 47.0 – 45.3 percent edge over President Trump.

Though Biden leads, the trend is a clear improvement for Trump since the OH Predictive Insights poll (May 9-11; 600 likely Arizona voters) became public during mid-May and posted the former vice president to a 50-43 percent advantage. Redfield & Wilton Strategies followed with their survey release (May 10-14; 946 likely Arizona voters) that yielded a closer 45-41 percent Biden lead.

Tuesday’s HighGround survey also published some interesting secondary questions. In answering whether the respondents felt President Trump job performance was excellent, very good, or OK, the combined positive calculated to 49.5 percent. Among those believing the president’s job performance is poor or failing, the negative totaled to 49.0 percent.

Accordingly, 29.3 percent of the Arizona respondent sample believes President Trump is to blame for the spread of the coronavirus, while 20.3 percent pin the responsibility on China. All other responses: the people, federal government, Democrats, or other unnamed sources each registered less than 10 percentage points. A total of 25.3 percent say they either don’t know or believe no single source is to blame.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, the state of Hawaii hosted its Democratic presidential primary. The unique format is interesting in that there were two votes the participants cast: the first included choosing among all of the names who originally qualified for the Hawaii presidential nomination ballot. The second isolated only Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Just under 35,000 people cast mail votes in the stand-alone presidential primary.

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Minnesota: A Player

By Jim Ellis

May 27, 2020 — Most of this year’s political attention will be focused on the presidential election’s top tier states of Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin, but a second-tier domain could also become a political player, at least according to a new poll.

Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, surveying for the Star Tribune newspaper, along with Minnesota Public Radio and KARE Television Channel 11 (May 18-20; 800 registered Minnesota voters) finds former vice president Joe Biden, as expected, leading President Trump. The margin between the two contenders, however, is a relatively close 49-44 percent.

Minnesota has been the most loyal domain for Democratic presidential nominees. The last time the state’s electorate voted Republican for the nation’s top office occurred all the way back in 1972 when President Richard Nixon carried the North Star State over then-Sen. George McGovern (D-SD). In 1984, President Ronald Reagan came close to beating former vice president and ex-Minnesota senator Walter Mondale but fell 3,761 votes short. The next closest Republican finisher was President Trump in 2016, losing in a 1.5 percentage point spread.

The Trump campaign has already said publicly they plan to make Minnesota a target, along with New Hampshire – another Hillary Clinton state that was close (46.8 – 46.5 percent) – a result that would give Trump a huge boost if he were to convert any state that went against him four years ago.

The Mason-Dixon Minnesota poll divides in stark fashion. The Minneapolis-St. Paul area, specifically noted as Hennepin and Ramsey counties in this survey, breaks for Biden, 62-29 percent. The rest of the metro area, defined as the Twin Cities’ outer suburbs, posts a much closer 48-44 percent Biden edge.

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Another Vacancy

By Jim Ellis

Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Heath/ Rockwall)

May 26, 2020 — US Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Heath/Rockwall) of Texas, just confirmed as the country’s new Director of National Intelligence, has already resigned from the House meaning that the state’s 4th Congressional District will now be open for the general election.

Almost as quickly as Rep. Ratcliffe’s post-confirmation resignation occurred, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced that he will not call a special election to fill the balance of the term. Therefore, the 4th District seat will remain vacant until the next Congress convenes in January. This is the third seat that won’t be filled this year, and it joins CA-50 (Rep. Duncan Hunter’s resignation) and NC-11 (Rep. Mark Meadows resignation) as incumbent-less seats until 2021. All three districts are safe or likely Republican.

Since the Texas primary was held on March 3 and Rep. Ratcliffe was re-nominated with majority support, the CD-4 congressional race will not advance to a July 14 runoff election. Therefore, the district’s Republican Executive Committee will convene on Aug. 8, according to Texas Republican Party chairman James Dickey, in order for the members to choose the party’s general election replacement nominee.

Because TX-4 is a safe Republican seat (Trump ’16: 75-22 percent — Ratcliffe ’18: 76-23 percent), this committee will almost assuredly be choosing the next congressman. And the eventual GOP nominee who emerges from the committee replacement process will have one of the easiest paths into the US House of any new member.

A large field of prospective office holders will declare their candidacies. Already announced are Rockwall City Councilman Trace Johannesen, retired Navy SEAL Floyd McLendon, Navy veteran T.C. Manning, and attorney Jason Ross. McLendon has already been on the ballot this year. He lost the 32nd District congressional Republican primary on March 3 to businesswoman Genevieve Collins who is now challenging freshman Rep. Colin Allred (D-Dallas).

Texas’ 4th District begins in the far eastern suburbs of Dallas, and then stretches all the way to Arkansas and along the Red River that forms the Texas-Oklahoma border. In between the cities of Rockwall and Heath in the southwest the district roams to Texarkana located in Texas’ far northeast corner. Along the way, small towns with well-known names appear, such as Atlanta, Naples, Paris, Pittsburg, and New Boston.

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Poll: Feenstra Tops Rep. King in Iowa

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Steve King (R-Kiron) – in trouble in Iowa

May 22, 2020 — The June 2 primaries are fast approaching, and though very few House incumbents are in danger of joining Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) as a member who lost re-nomination in 2020, there is a serious intra-party challenge unfolding in northwest Iowa.

Hawkeye State veteran Congressman Steve King (R-Kiron) has been in political trouble during this entire term after making racially charged statements that led to the Republican conference stripping him of his committee assignments. Just within the past 10 days, King was again rebuffed in his attempt to re-claim his former duties.

The controversy is largely responsible for King drawing a very serious challenge from state Sen. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull/Sioux County). Feenstra has served six two-year terms in the state Senate, and previously as the Sioux County treasurer and Hull City administrator.

Through the March 31 candidate filing period, Feenstra had raised over $844,000 for his primary campaign and still had more than half to spend. Rep. King, on the other hand, was virtually out of money. His cycle receipts were under $302,000 and he had less than $27,000 in the bank.

Several polls have been released since the race took shape early this year and, up until now, all were from the Feenstra campaign pollster, American Viewpoint. At the end of January, due to his strong name identification from representing the district since the beginning of 2003, Rep. King posted a 53-22 percent advantage.

Three months later, AV detected King’s lead over Feenstra had dissipated to 41-34 percent. During the first week of May, the race grew even tighter with the challenger pulling to within three points, 39-36 percent. Feenstra was also picking up key endorsements, such as those from the US Chamber of Commerce and the Business-Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC). He also earned support from the National Right to Life Committee and secured an “A” rating from the NRA on the conservative social issues front.

Clearly, Feenstra’s momentum train is building steam and Wednesday a Public Opinion Strategies poll for the America’s Future Fund organization (May 16-18; 400 likely IA-4 Republican primary voters) found the challenger actually moving past Rep. King, 41-39 percent. POS segmented their numbers and it becomes clear that this will be a turnout primary.

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The Maine Event

By Jim Ellis

Maine Congressional Districts

May 20, 2020 — The small state of Maine, with its two congressional districts, is going to attract a great deal of political attention between now and the election. Not only is the Pine Tree State one of the firewalls for Republican Senate majority hopes, the domain, one of two places that splits its electoral votes, will likely play a major role in determining the presidential election outcome, as well.

Maine and Nebraska divide their electoral votes such that the winning statewide candidate earns two electoral votes, while the victor in each congressional district is awarded one EV for as many districts as they carry. Maine, as mentioned, has two districts, and Nebraska three.

These districts came into play both in 2008 and 2016, when Barack Obama carried the 2nd District of Nebraska against John McCain in the former year, and Donald Trump took the 2nd District of Maine opposite Hillary Clinton in 2016. While neither CD became a factor in determining each of those elections, these CDs breaking differently than their state in a tight national election could result in the Electoral College ending in a tie.

The 48 other states and the District of Columbia use the winner-take-all system. Any state could divide their electoral votes like Maine and Nebraska, but those are the only two who choose the split vote method.

In the current presidential election scenarios, whether or not President Trump again carries ME-2 could determine if he is re-elected. Under one scenario, former vice president Joe Biden could win the national race even if he failed to carry Wisconsin so long as he takes the 2nd District of Maine and 2nd District of Nebraska. Doing so, along with winning the other swing states that touch a Great Lake, meaning Michigan and Pennsylvania, he would secure exactly 270 electoral votes, the bare minimum to claim national victory.

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Massachusetts Senate: Total Opposite

By Jim Ellis

May 12, 2020 — On Friday, the most recent Massachusetts Senate Democratic primary poll was released, and it presents a very different conclusion to the close race results previously published.q

Late last week, we covered a University of Massachusetts at Lowell poll (April 27-May 1; 1,000 registered Massachusetts voters, 531 likely Massachusetts Democratic primary voters) that found Sen. Ed Markey (D) locked in a virtual dead heat (42-44 percent) with Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-Newton) in their intra-party fight.

Emerson College (May 5-6; 740 registered Massachusetts voters, 620 likely Massachusetts Democratic primary voters) conducted a statewide Massachusetts poll on the heels of the UMass effort and sees Rep. Kennedy crushing Sen. Markey, 58-42%.

The focal point of the Emerson poll was the presidential race and reaction to COVID-19, so just one question was asked about the Senate race. Unlike the UMass survey, Emerson did not release segmentation figures for the Senate ballot test question, so it becomes more difficult to judge reliability.

Since the two polls are so far apart, questions arise as to which is the more accurate. The sponsors are known pollsters who regularly survey Massachusetts – Emerson College is located in Boston, while the UMass affiliate resides in Lowell – so neither has a particular geographic familiarity advantage over the other. The sample sizes are both large enough to render strong results, and each has accurately depicted the state in previous studies.

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The Bay State Brawl

By Jim Ellis

May 11, 2020 — Many seasoned Massachusetts political observers believed that the intra-party Democratic US Senate battle between incumbent Ed Markey and Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-Newton) would never happen.

At the beginning of the election cycle the prevailing local political wisdom was, if Kennedy were to enter the statewide race, that Sen. Markey would simply retire after spending 48 consecutive years in elective office, counting his time in the state legislature, US House, and Senate, rather than taking on a Kennedy and risk losing. Such, however, proved not to be the case. With the candidate filing deadline passing this week, the Sept. 1 showdown between Sen. Markey and Rep. Kennedy is on. And, the latest poll again confirms the two men are locked in a dead heat.

The University of Massachusetts at Lowell released their current survey results of the Bay State electorate (April 27-May 1; 1,00 registered Massachusetts voters, 531 likely Massachusetts Democratic primary voters) and the Democratic US Senate primary ballot test finds Rep. Kennedy clinging to a 44-42 percent lead. This is not much different than the university’s February poll that found Kennedy ahead 35-34 percent.

In all, this has to be a very encouraging result for Sen. Markey. Running against the so-called “Kennedy mystique,” the media-driven term that matters more in Massachusetts than anywhere else, and qualifying for the ballot because the courts reduced the number of required petition signatures because of the COVID-19 imposed precautions, Sen. Markey’s ability to hold his status within the margin of error against Rep. Kennedy has to be considered a victory for the veteran politician.

The money count is almost as close as the polling, except Markey has the advantage. Looking at the March 31 Federal Election Commission financial disclosure reports, Sen. Markey has raised just over $8.8 million for the campaign cycle as compared to $5.9 million for Rep. Kennedy. The senator also has the edge in cash-on-hand resources, $4.4 million to $3.8 million. Therefore, having enough funding to communicate their campaign message to the voters will not be a problem for either man.

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