Category Archives: Primary

The Incumbent Pairings

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 30, 2021 — At this point in the national redistricting process, six sets of incumbents have been paired together, mostly in nomination battles, while an additional five incumbent combinations have been averted.

Over half the states have either completed the district re-drawing process or are well down the road to finishing. Illinois leads the nation with two sets of incumbent pairings, one set for each party. An additional four states have single pairings. A total of three Republican primary pairings are on the board, two feature Democratic incumbents, and one, in North Carolina, is a potential pairing with a member from each party.

Retirements have largely averted several more pairings. Reps. Karen Bass (D-CA), Tom Reed (R-NY), Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), and Conor Lamb (D-PA) and Mike Doyle (D-PA), not seeking re-election have likely prevented obvious pairings in their states.

Iowa Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa), deciding to seek re-election in the new 1st Congressional District, has avoided a Republican primary pairing with her freshman GOP colleague, Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion/Cedar Rapids).

Below, we review the individual pairings.


GA-7:

• Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D) vs. Rep. Lucy McBath (D)
Candidate Filing: March 11
Primary: May 24
Runoff: July 26

The surprise pairing of the early cycle occurs in the Atlanta suburbs. The Republican map drawers changed Rep. McBath’s 6th District back into a seat that favors the GOP, and instead of running an uphill campaign in a general election, McBath immediately announced that she would launch a primary challenge to freshman Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux in a politically marginal district that was made safely Democratic.

This will be one of the more interesting pairings. Rep. Bourdeaux represents most of the new 7th’s constituency, but Rep. McBath will likely be viewed as the stronger Democratic base candidate. Bourdeaux starts with an early edge, and with each candidate already approaching $2 million in their respective campaign accounts, this primary campaign will be an old fashioned political shoot out. The winner earns a virtual free ride in the general election.


IL-6:

• Rep. Sean Casten (D) vs. Rep. Marie Newman (D)
Candidate Filing: March 14
Primary: June 28

The second Democratic pairing is the result of the party’s map drawers creating a second Chicago Hispanic district. This led to freshman Rep. Marie Newman standing without her own district. Instead of challenging Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago) in the original urban Hispanic seat, the district in which her La Grange residence was placed, she decided to instead oppose Rep. Sean Casten in the safely Democratic suburban 6th CD.

Though the seat carries Rep. Casten’s 6th, a bit more of the constituency belongs to Rep. Newman. The early resources favor Casten, as his $1 million in the bank is more than double Rep. Newman’s Sept. 30th filing deadline cash-on-hand total. This race will be one that turns sharply left, as both members identify with the party’s leftward faction. Rep. Casten is likely to attract more Chicago establishment support whereas Rep. Newman will get the bulk of leftward social issues coalition backing.

On paper, it appears that Rep. Casten would have at least a slight edge, but we can count on seeing a major campaign contest all the way to the June 28 primary.


IL-12:

• Rep. Mike Bost (R) vs. Rep. Mary Miller (R)
Candidate Filing: March 14
Primary: June 28

The second Land of Lincoln pairing features two Republican incumbents in the state’s southern sector. Typically, in a gerrymandered state the minority party inherits several very safe districts. Such is the case for the GOP in the new IL-12.

Most of Rep. Bost’s current 12th District constituency is in the new 12th, but the eastern part of a district that now encompasses all of the southern Illinois territory currently belongs to freshman Rep. Miller. The early financial edge also goes to Rep. Bost, but the two begin this race separated only by approximately $200,000.

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New Hampshire Senate:
Toss-up Results

By Jim Ellis

New Hampshire first-term incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan (D)

Oct. 25, 2021 — Only needing to gain a net one seat to claim the Senate majority, Republicans face a frustrating in-cycle map that yields few 2022 Democratic targets. One of those scarce opportunities, however, lies in the Granite State of New Hampshire.

Arguably, the New Hampshire race is the party’s best conversion opportunity and becomes a Republican prerequisite toward building a winning coalition of states. The latest University of New Hampshire poll, released late last week, suggests the GOP is well positioned to compete in the “Live Free or Die” region of New England.

The regular UNH Granite State poll (Oct. 14-18; 1,061 New Hampshire panel members, 979 likely New Hampshire voters, online) tested first-term incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) against several potential Republican opponents … and she falls into an early toss-up result against all.

First, a word about the UNH polling operation. Several years ago it was among the most inaccurate of pollsters, largely because they utilized long sampling periods sometimes lasting three weeks, and small respondent universes. They have improved since that time, though their online format chosen for this poll is typically not optimal.

The FiveThirtyEight statistical organization, in their latest pollster rankings, rates the UNH operation as their 112th best pollster, with a B- rating. They assign a 2.4 percent Democratic bias factor to the organization’s polling results over 122 tested surveys.

That being said, yesterday’s survey release finds Gov. Chris Sununu (R) again leading Sen. Hassan in a hypothetical ballot test pairing. There is no doubt Republican leaders are trying to persuade Gov. Sununu to run, but so far he has not committed to the race. He has the opportunity of running for a fourth gubernatorial term – New Hampshire has two-year terms for their governors – or pursing opportunities in the private sector.

This poll finds the Sununu advantage at three percentage points, 45-42 percent, which is of course in toss-up range, but seeing an incumbent well below 50 percent does not bode well for Sen. Hassan.

UNH also tested the senator against the woman she defeated by a tenth of a percentage point in 2016, or just over 1,000 votes statewide, former Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R). The new poll virtually replays that result, posting Sen. Hassan to a bare 44-43 percent edge.

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Brown, Carey Win In Ohio

Shontel Brown scored a convincing win in Ohio’s 11th District Democratic primary, virtually assuring her of a special general election victory on Nov. 2.

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 5, 2021 — Primary voters in two Ohio districts, for all intents and purposes, chose replacements Tuesday for resigned Reps. Marcia Fudge (D-Cleveland) and Steve Stivers (R-Columbus).

County Councilwoman and Cuyahoga County Democratic Party chair Shontel Brown scored a convincing win in the 11th District Democratic primary, virtually assuring her of a special general election victory on Nov. 2 in a seat that is safe for her party. Ohio Coal Association chairman Mike Carey did likewise in the 15th District Republican primary that occupies much of the Buckeye State’s southern sector.

Despite polling showing Brown trailing former state Sen. Nina Turner but consistently gaining momentum, it was obvious that the winner’s campaign peaked at precisely the right time. With 75,064 people voting in the Democratic primary, Brown scored a 50.2 – 44.5 percent victory. The other 11 candidates split the remaining 5.3 percent.

The 11th District contains most of the city of Cleveland in Cuyahoga County and part of Akron in Summit County. Brown’s Cuyahoga total percentage spread of 50.4 – 44.1 almost exactly mirrored the district-wide vote. Conversely, Turner scored a very tight 48.8 – 40.0 percent plurality in Summit County, a difference of just 54 votes.

Turner, the former national co-chair of the Bernie Sanders for President campaign attracted support from the Democratic socialist movement, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and the Justice Democrats PAC. She began the campaign as almost a prohibitive favorite, leading by a 50-15 percent margin in a late May Tulchin Research organization survey. Once the final financial totals are known, it will be clear that Turner outspent the winner by a better than 2:1 margin.

Brown, receiving backing from the more establishment-oriented Democrats including House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the Congressional Black Caucus, and former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, among others, began to chip away at the former state legislator’s lead about six weeks before the election and made steady gains through the closing period as polling highlighted.

The race’s most recent survey, from the Mellman Group (July 13-17; 400 OH-11 likely voters), gave Turner only a 41-36 percent advantage. A poll generally scoffed at in early July, from the Republican firm TargetPoint, found the two candidates tied at 33 percent. In the end, it was TargetPoint that proved closest to the final mark.

On the Republican side, with just 5,299 voters participating, community activist Laverne Gore was an easy winner, capturing 74 percent support. The Nov. 2 special election is now just a formality in the heavily Democratic district, however, and Brown can count on being sworn into the House toward the end of this year.

In his victory speech, 15th District Republican primary winner Mike Carey gave a large portion of the credit to former President Donald Trump who endorsed him in a crowded field of eleven candidates. “Tonight, the voters of the 15th Congressional District sent a clear message to the nation that Donald J. Trump is, without a doubt, the clear leader of our party,” Carey began his victory speech before his victory party supporters.

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Carey Claims Big Lead in OH-15

Graphic from Ohio Coal Association chairman and congressional candidate Mike Carey’s Facebook page.

By Jim Ellis

June 30, 2021 — Ohio Coal Association chairman Mike Carey (R) released his internal Fabrizio, Lee & Associates survey on Tuesday, which posts him to a big lead for the Aug. 3 special congressional primary in his state’s vacant 15th District. Carey’s advantage widely expands when the Republican primary electorate is aware that he is being endorsed by former president, Donald Trump.

According to the Fabrizio Lee poll (June 23-24; 400 likely OH-15 special Republican primary voters, live interviews), Carey would maintain a 44-10-9-8-5 percent advantage over state Rep. Jeff LaRe (R-Lancaster), former state Rep. Ron Hood, state Sen. Bob Peterson (R-Fayette County), and state Sen. Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard), respectively, among those claiming to be familiar with the campaign and candidates.

The original ballot test gave Carey a 20-9 percent lead over Rep. LaRe, who has the backing of resigned Rep. Steve Stivers (R) and is the beneficiary of the former congressman spending some of his substantial leftover campaign war chest as a support independent expenditure. Hood and Sen. Peterson trial with seven percent apiece, followed by Sen. Kunze’s six percent preference. The remaining six candidates individually garner three percent or less.

When all respondents are then informed that the former president has endorsed Carey, however, the candidate’s lead grows to a whopping 60-8-7-7-6 percent margin over Hood, LaRe, Peterson, and Kunze, respectively.

The initial ballot test also identified 44 percent of the respondents who said they are undecided about who to support in the special election. When informed of the Trump endorsement, the undecided segment then broke 46-3 percent for Carey over LaRe. Peterson and Kunze each gained one percent support, with the remainder divided among the minor candidates. This largely accounts for the big swing toward Carey when comparing the initial ballot test to the aided responses.

The poll was conducted during the buildup to Trump’s first public rally since he left the White House, an event held in rural Wellington, OH on Saturday about 40 miles due west of Akron that drew close to 20,000 people according to news estimates.

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NYC and Ranked Choice on Ballot

NYC Democracy produced a voter palm card to help guide voters in a ranked-choice voting scenario.

By Jim Ellis

June 22, 2021 — New York City Democrats go to the polls today to cast their ballots in the party’s mayoral primary as 13 candidates compete to succeed term-limited Mayor Bill de Blasio (D). With voter registration figures giving Democrats an almost 7:1 advantage, there is little doubt that the eventual Democratic primary winner will win the mayoral general election on Nov. 2.

More, however, is on the ballot than just deciding which of the candidates will advance into the Autumn election. The Democrats are using a ranked choice voting system that has been tried in other places around the county, such as the state of Maine and 32 mostly local jurisdictions. With 13 candidates vying for the mayoral nomination, however, and at least four being within the margin of error in the most recent polling, this New York City race could be the system’s most significant test.

Ranked Choice Voting is an electoral procedure where voters rank the candidates in their order of preference. In this case, Democratic voters will record their first preference with the number 1, and then follow through individually with the remaining dozen.

The system works as follows: when the ballots are fully counted, assuming no one receives an outright majority, which is a virtual certainty with so many candidates in contention, the 13th-place finisher will be eliminated from further competition. Election officials will then locate all ballots where the last place finisher was chosen first. Those voters’ second choices are then recorded and added to the original count. This process continues until a top candidate reaches the 50 percent plateau.

Considering that New York City election officials took six weeks to determine a winner in Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s (D-Manhattan) 12th District congressional Democratic primary last year, for example, this complicated counting process could go on for some time before a winner is ultimately announced.

Pollsters attempted to gauge the voters’ ranked choice predilections in rather complicated questioning, and most estimated that the counting process would consume 10-12 rounds. Polling accuracy is unclear at this point because few research firms have attempted to measure the ranked choice system. Therefore, today’s race could have a wild card ending especially when voters go deep into their ratings.

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Ciattarelli, McAuliffe Win Respective Primaries for Governor in NJ, VA

Jack Ciattarelli , New Jersey

By Jim Ellis

June 9, 2021 — As expected, former Virginia governor, Terry McAuliffe, and ex-New Jersey state assemblyman, Jack Ciattarelli, won their respective Democratic and Republican primaries for governor last night in the two states holding major 2021 elections.

McAuliffe will face Republican Glenn Youngkin, who was nominated in a May hybrid party convention, while Ciattarelli will challenge Garden State Gov. Phil Murphy (D), who seeks a second term.

Former Virginia governor, Terry McAuliffe

Virginia, which is the only state that limits its governors to one consecutive term, sees McAuliffe, also a former Democratic National Committee chairman, returning to the campaign trail after a break in service. He was governor from 2013-2017, yielding to current Gov. Ralph Northam (D) four years ago. In last night’s vote, McAuliffe captured 62.3 percent of the vote against four challengers including scandal tainted Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax who attracted less than 18,000 votes (3.5 percent) and finished a poor fourth.

When compared to the 2017 Democratic primary, the 2021 cycle turnout lagged. Once the final votes are posted, it will be clear that Democratic participation was down approximately 10 percent from four years ago. This is largely because the governor’s race was not particularly competitive. It has been a foregone conclusion for months that McAuliffe would easily capture the party nomination.

The lieutenant governor’s contest went to state Delegate Hala Ayala (D-Woodbridge) as she defeated fellow state Delegate Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke) 39-25 percent, in a field comprised of six candidates. The attorney general’s race was relatively close and showed weakness for incumbent Mark Herring as he defeated state Delegate Jay Jones (D-Norfolk), 56-43 percent, a poor showing for a two-term incumbent in his own party. The primary result suggests that Herring could find himself in a general election battle with GOP nominee Jason Miyares, a state Delegate from Virginia Beach.

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NJ, VA Primaries Today

By Jim Ellis

June 8, 2021 — The two states with odd-numbered year elections in 2021 are holding their partisan primaries today, though one Old Dominion party has already nominated its statewide candidates. Voters in New Jersey and Virginia will choose nominees for governor and other elected statewide offices and for seats in their respective state legislatures.

Virginia Republicans, in a unique “drive-thru” convention, chose their gubernatorial nominee, Glenn Youngkin, on May 8. Nominees for lieutenant governor and attorney general were also selected through the ranked choice voting system to narrow the field to a point where one candidate receives majority support after several rounds of counting.

In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy is unopposed in the Democratic primary and former state assemblyman, Jack Ciattarelli, (pronounced: Chit-a-relli) is favored to capture the GOP nod after receiving official local Republican party endorsements in 17 of the state’s 21 counties. He faces businessman and frequent candidate Hirsch Singh, former Franklin mayor, Brian Levine, and pastor Phil Rizzo.

Virginia Democrats are expected to again back former governor and ex-Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe as their party nominee. He enjoys wide polling leads over former Prince William County state Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy, state Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), scandal-tainted Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, and state Delegate Lee Carter (D-Manassas).

Virginia is the only state in the Union that limits its governors to one four-year term but does not prevent former incumbents from seeking the office again as McAuliffe is doing. Many southern states historically installed a one-term limit for their governors, but Virginia remains the only place that maintains the practice. McAuliffe served from 2013 through 2017 before yielding to current incumbent Ralph Northam (D).

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