Category Archives: Presidential campaign

Impeachment: First Political Clues

By Jim Ellis

President Donald Trump | whitehouse.gov

Dec. 16, 2019 — As we move toward the impeachment vote in the full House and the impending Senate trial to determine whether President Trump should be removed from office, a great deal of speculation exists about how voters will respond to this situation. A series of early December polls from the most critical swing states gives us a clue.

Firehouse Strategies/Optimus commissioned simultaneous polls within the Dec. 3-5 period in the top swing states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. As we remember, all of these places gave Trump a small victory margin in 2016. Phoenix-based pollster OH Predictive Insights conducted a poll of the Arizona electorate during the same period. Firehouse found sampling groups numbering between 551 and 610 respondents in the three states. OH used a slightly larger 628 person sample cell in the Grand Canyon State.

Both pollsters tested President Trump in each targeted state against former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and ex-New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg.

In all instances President Trump led his prospective opponent when individually paired. Since he had been trailing in similar ballot test responses from several previous polls in the Great Lakes States and was about even in Arizona, the change at the height of the impeachment proceedings suggests that he is seeing a net positive early return from the legal attack.

Of course, much could change before the process concludes, but this first data does provide us an interesting political snapshot as it relates to impeachment perceptions. As a rule, general election polling before the parties nominate their presidential candidates is usually irrelevant but, considering the present impeachment overlay, these numbers appear to be significant and particularly so because they are originating from critically important states.

For President Trump to win re-election, he must carry all five of the states in his 2016 coalition that typically vote Republican but have been trending closer to the Democrats since the last presidential election. Those are: Arizona, Georgia, and Texas. Florida and North Carolina are always swing states in virtually every election and will be again in 2020. To win, the president must first carry all of these aforementioned states. If so, he then would need to win just one of the Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin trio in order to yield a bare Electoral College majority.

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Buttigieg Tops New Hampshire Field

By Jim Ellis

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Dec. 13, 2019 — It has been clear for some time that South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is making a strong move in Iowa, perfectly understandable for a candidate hailing from the Midwest; but could an Iowa-New Hampshire sweep be in the forecast for the upstart national contender?

A new MassInc poll for WBUR radio, the public news station in Boston, finds Mayor Buttigieg, for the first time, posting a small lead in the Granite State. The survey (Dec. 3-8; 442 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters) gives Buttigieg a slight 18-17-15-12 percent edge over former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), respectively, as a clear four-way race is beginning to crystallize for the first-in-the-nation primary.

The latest Iowa Caucus public polling, from Nov. 8 – Dec. 10 through four different survey research firms (Selzer & Company, YouGov, Civiqs, and Emerson College), finds Mayor Buttigieg either leading or tied in three of the studies.

Should such a trend come to fruition in February, we would see the underpinnings of not only Buttigieg becoming a legitimate contender, but a serious national four-way contest taking shape.

The New Hampshire poll is significant not only because it reveals a state base for Buttigieg but also finds that neither New England stalwart politicians Sanders nor Warren have clinched the state, as one might surmise. It was only four years ago when Sen. Sanders posted a 60 percent victory over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic New Hampshire presidential primary. At this point, now exactly two months from the Granite State primary vote, it would be reasonable to believe that both would be doing better than the MassInc survey and other recent polls suggest.

The MassInc/WBUR poll also provides another key data point. Despite former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s major media spending, apparently on a national basis, his favorability ratings among Democrats continue to languish. His personal index will have to substantially improve if he is to make a push to develop a five-way nomination campaign.

Yesterday, we covered a Monmouth University national poll that found Bloomberg being regarded as the most unpopular of the well-known Democratic candidates, and this MassInc/WBUR New Hampshire survey returns similar results.

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Shock Poll – Hillary Leading

By Jim Ellis

Hillary Clinton

Dec. 11, 2019 — The Harris polling organization in conjunction with Harvard University has just released what appears to be the first national poll to include former secretary of state and 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and it finds her pulling into a small lead when tested against the rest of the Democratic field.

Looking at the large sample survey (Nov. 27-29; 1,859 registered voters — 756 Democratic registered voters, online), Hillary would take a 21-20-12-9-5 percent lead over former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Without Hillary included, the field breaks 29-16-13-8-7 percent in favor of Biden, Sens. Sanders and Warren, Mayor Buttigieg, and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, respectively.

There are negatives associated with the methodology, however. First, an online poll is less reliable than a live-interview survey, and generally even less so than an automated response device study.

Additionally, the Harris/Harvard poll was taken during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, which again potentially skews the sample because so many people would not be included in the sampling universe because of deviations from their normal routines.

Third, the survey included former secretary of state and ex-US senator John Kerry within the field of candidates, and he received five percent support. That, too, could certainly skew the overall results to a degree because he is not running in the 2020 campaign.

Negatives notwithstanding, the fact that Clinton would already land among the leaders in the first of what will likely be several credible national surveys is significant. If anything, this data will lend more fuel to the fire that the former presidential nominee, secretary of state, US senator, and First Lady is seriously considering becoming a national candidate in 2020.

The Harris/Harvard poll again reiterates the most recent polling trend that, without Hillary being tested, Biden is establishing a clear lead but is nowhere close to the necessary 50 percent mark in order to secure nomination. The latest data also confirms that Sen. Warren dropped back into the pack after moving into a virtual tie with Biden six to 10 weeks ago. Sen. Sanders maintains his consistent supporters and is clearly going to be a top-tier factor as the race moves forward.

The candidates appearing to suffer the most from a Clinton re-emergence are Sen. Warren and Mayor Buttigieg. They both drop back significantly with her in the race, each falling into single digits. Biden and Sanders appear to hold most of their strength even with her in the field, which tells us that Warren and Buttigieg’s joint prospects will suffer if she were to return to active candidate status.

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Is Sen. Kamala Harris Protecting
Her California Senate Seat?

By Jim Ellis

Democrat Sen. Kamala Harris of California

Dec. 5, 2019 — Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) became the first of what one might consider the top-tier candidates to end her presidential effort, but the announcement timing on Tuesday likely has more to do with her 2022 Senate race than the presidential contest.

The California candidate filing deadline is tomorrow, so Sen. Harris deciding to end her presidential effort means she won’t be on the Golden State presidential primary ballot, and thus avoids an embarrassing loss within her own constituency. Recent polling was forecasting her in the single-digit range even in California.

Obviously, losing any race in one’s home state reveals political weakness, and though she is virtually invulnerable against a Republican in the 2022 general election, the same might not be true if her opponent were a strong Democrat.

Under the California election system that features the jungle primary concept, variations of which are also seen in Washington state and Louisiana, members of the same party can advance into the general election. Florida voters will have the opportunity of adopting that jungle primary concept via ballot initiative next year.

Because California and Washington hold regular primaries before the general election, a pair of candidates always advance irrespective of percentages attained. Conversely, Louisiana holds one election concurrent with the general, meaning a candidate exceeding 50 percent is elected outright; otherwise the top two finishers advance into a December run-off election.

In the California 2022 Senate race, for example, two candidates will move into the general election from their March or June primary (California has continually alternated their primary election dates between the two months, depending upon the political situation at the time the legislature acted) so long as more than one candidate files. Thus, a strong Democrat — and California has many such individuals — could challenge Sen. Harris, draw a relatively meager percentage in the primary while finishing second, and then rally to make a serious general election challenge against her.

Other previous presidential candidates have often found the political going much tougher than expected when returning home to seek re-election after engaging in the national contest, and it remains to be seen if Sen. Harris will find her road to re-election any bumpier.

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NY-2: Trump for Congress?

NOTE: Happy Thanksgiving. Our Political Updates will return on Monday, Dec. 2.

By Jim Ellis

Lara Trump

Nov. 27, 2019 — Action about who the Republicans might nominate to succeed retiring New York Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) is beginning to simmer, especially since the Club for Growth released a poll of the district’s GOP electorate late last week.

The Club contracted with WPA Intelligence to test Lara Trump, wife of Eric Trump and daughter-in-law of President Trump. Rumors had been surfacing that she might be contemplating running in the 2nd District; hence, the interest in gauging what type of support she might have for such a race. WPAi paired Lara with former congressman, Rick Lazio, who is considering becoming a candidate, in a hypothetical Republican primary. According to their data (Nov. 17-18; 400 likely NY-2 Republican primary voters), Lara Trump would lead Lazio by a whopping 53-19 percent.

The result is not particularly surprising because Donald Trump has a solid Republican base in the district. The WPAi survey finds the president’s favorability ratio at 78:19 percent within this GOP primary voter sample.

In response to the poll, Lara told Breitbart News that she’s, “ … incredibly honored by this showing of support from my fellow New Yorkers. While I would never close the door on anything in the future, right now I am focused on winning a second term for President Trump.” Lara serves as an advisor to the president’s re-election campaign.

So far, Islip Town Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt and Suffolk County Elections Commissioner Nick LaLota are announced Republican candidates. State Assemblyman Mike LiPetri (R-Massapequa) has formed a congressional exploratory committee and is expected to join the race. Early last week, former Suffolk County executive, Steve Levy, and County Legislature Minority Leader Tom Cilmi both said they would not run for the seat.

The Democrats appear to be coalescing around Babylon Town Councilwoman Jackie Gordon, who is a retired Army officer. Gordon had announced a challenge campaign against Rep. King and raised just under $188,000 through the Sept. 30 deadline. The 2018 Democratic nominee, Liuba Grechen Shirley, who held the congressman to a surprisingly close 53-47 percent victory, has already announced that she will not enter the 2020 open seat campaign.

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