Category Archives: Primary

Monitoring Mail-in Vote Turnout

By Jim Ellis

July 7, 2020 — With many states emphasizing mail voting as a way to increase voter participation in the COVID-19 era, has adoption of near universal mail voting in the states that have done so achieved its fundamental purpose, or has it caused more problems than it solved?

Voter turnout is always a definitive factor in determining election outcomes, and the push to change voting procedures has occurred in 31 state primaries. Therefore, the voting system alterations, should they continue into the general election, will most likely have a major impact upon the electoral outcomes.

Most of the states adopting change only expanded their mail absentee ballot procedures for the primaries; therefore, we can expect another round of battles over the general election processes to soon come before legislatures and courts.

Many of the states, Maryland, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and New York to name several, had administrative problems with their expanded mail programs including reports of homes receiving multiple ballots because inactive voters were forced to be mailed, some people requesting absentee ballots and not receiving them, and long post-election counting periods because of the large number of mail ballots coming into the county clerk’s offices.

New York, in fact, has still not even completed its unofficial tabulation and the primary was June 23. The Clark County (Nevada) County Clerk said publicly that the directive to mail inactive voters led to chaos in the state primary since so many ballots were being sent to individuals no longer living at the mailed address.

Largely, Democrats and voting rights organizations are attempting to persuade legislatures, governors, and/or the courts to expand the mail absentee ballot voting option to all registered voters both active and inactive, enact same-day voter registration, adopt ballot harvesting, which allows any individual to collect ballots from voters and turn them into county election authorities (this process is only legal in California, to date), and allow ballots to be post-marked on Election Day as opposed to requiring that they be received on voting day. Republicans and conservative organizations typically object to most of these ideas on verification grounds.

Continue reading

Arizona Polling: Whatever You Want


Best wishes for a Happy 4th of July holiday weekend.
Our daily column will return on Tuesday, July 7.


By Jim Ellis

July 2, 2020 — We saw a polling bonanza released yesterday in the swing battleground state of Arizona and, no matter who you support or what you believe, there is survey data for you.

Arizona Senate candidate, retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D), and Sen. Martha McSally (R)

Three pollsters released results that tested the presidential race and the Arizona Senate contest between retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D) and appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R). The three pollsters, all conducting their surveys within the June 26-29 period, gave us starkly different ballot test conclusions.

Two of the pollsters are from out of state, while one is based in Phoenix and specializes in researching the Arizona electorate. One of the pollsters tested six battleground states as part of their national polling series, including Arizona, but did not disclose the size of the Grand Canyon State respondent cell. This makes analyzing very difficult. The other two firms revealed similar sized Arizona likely voter sampling universes.

The three pollsters were Change Research, Data Orbital, and Gravis Marketing. All have done national work and are published regularly in political blogs and websites as well as being frequently quoted in national news stories.

Despite testing the same electorate during the same time period, we see an 11-point swing in the presidential race, and a 13-point spread among the three survey results for the Senate race.

Change Research was the most bullish for the Democratic candidates, posting former vice president Joe Biden to a 51-44 percent advantage, and an even larger 53-44 percent margin in Kelly’s race.

Conversely, Gravis Marketing produced the most Republican results. They find President Trump holding a 49-45 percent lead and Sen. McSally up by the same point margin, 46-42 percent.

In between is Data Orbital, the local pollster. They find Biden ahead 47-45 percent, and Kelly up by a similar, but not as pronounced, margin as Change Research found, 50-43 percent.
Continue reading

Colorado Republican Primary Shock:
Rep. Tipton Denied Renomination

By Jim Ellis

July 1, 2020 — While the pre-election coverage to yesterday’s Colorado primary focused on how former governor and presidential candidate John Hickenlooper would fare in the Democratic Senate primary – he would win 60-40 percent, which was certainly well below what original projections forecast – the real story came in the state’s Western Slope congressional district.

Lauren Boebert (R), a 2nd Amendment activist and local restaurant owner, soundly denied Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) re-nomination in the Republican congressional primary.

There, five-term veteran Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) was soundly denied re-nomination by 2nd Amendment activist and local restaurant owner Lauren Boebert in the Republican congressional primary. When the final votes are counted, Boebert will break 54 percent of the vote of what looks to be about 120,000 cast votes, more than double the amount of the last GOP primary held here in 2016.

Boebert will spend well under $200,000 for her effort; long known as a local conservative activist, she made her money count with a pointed message to Republican primary voters. Her strategy was to create a negative image of Rep. Tipton for “siding with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and her squad” in relation to bailing out the city of Boulder, which is not in his 3rd District, how he “teamed with Nancy Pelosi to give amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants,” and “forced taxpayers to pay $1 billion for their housing.”

The race was relatively close in every place except Mesa County, which houses the district’s second largest city, Grand Junction. The area allowed her to build approximately 8,500 of her 9,600 vote spread against the incumbent, and defeating him despite Tipton carrying 19 of the district’s 29 counties. Totals are not complete due to the state’s all-mail voting system, but there is no doubt that Boebert has won.

The Democratic nominee, by virtue of a 61 percent win in her primary, is 2018 nominee Daine Mitsch Bush, who was planning for a re-match with Rep. Tipton. Now, she will have to reverse course to compete against a firebrand conservative who wears a firearm strapped to her right leg and owns a restaurant on I-70 called “The Shooters Grill.” This new open seat will be competitive, and colorful, in the fall.
Continue reading

Tomorrow’s Primaries Preview

By Jim Ellis

June 29, 2020 — Three more state primaries are on tap for tomorrow, those in Colorado, Oklahoma, and Utah. The day will be highlighted with the Colorado Senate Democratic primary where former governor John Hickenlooper battles ex-state House wpeaker Andrew Romanoff, and the Utah Republican gubernatorial primary that features four candidates vying for the right to replace retiring Gov. Gary Herbert (R).

Two of these three states, Colorado and Utah, use an all-mail voting process meaning we could again be waiting several days for final returns.

COLORADO

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper

Democrats believe that the Centennial State is one of their best conversion opportunities in the country, and early polling confirms their analyses. Sen. Cory Gardner (R) stands for a second term but in a state that has significantly changed since he was elected in 2014. As the state continues to move closer to the Democrats, the tougher the re-election outlook for Sen. Gardner. He may well be the best campaigner in his party’s national stable, but is attaining statewide office now out of touch for any Republican? This election may definitively answer that question.

The House delegation looks set to continue with four Democrats and three Republicans. All will face general election opponents, but none appear competitive. All seven incumbents are clear favorites for re-election, and only Western Slope Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) has a nomination opponent tomorrow. Surprisingly, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs), who always seems to draw competitive intra-party opponents, is unopposed in this year’s Republican primary.

OKLAHOMA

Veteran Sen. Jim Inhofe, at 85 years of age, is seeking a fifth full term and is certainly the prohibitive favorite tomorrow night against only minimal opposition. For the Democrats, former television news reporter Abby Broyles should have little trouble in securing her party’s nomination. Already raising over $535,000 through the June 10 pre-primary report, only she and Sen. Inhofe have substantial resources among the eight major party candidates on the ballot.

The big race of the night comes in Oklahoma City’s 5th Congressional District, where a total of nine Republicans are competing for the opportunity of challenging freshman Rep. Kendra Horn (D-Oklahoma City) who unseated two-term Rep. Steve Russell (R) in 2018. This will be one of the Republicans’ top national targets since the seat has a conservative history and the Horn victory two years ago was unexpected. With nine candidates adorning the GOP ballot tomorrow, advancing to an Aug. 25 runoff election is a certainty.
Continue reading

Updating Tuesday’s Results

By Jim Ellis

June 25, 2020 — With the Kentucky and New York primary totals still days away from becoming final, there are ways of looking to project an outcome of the close races.

KENTUCKY

Kentucky Senate challenger Amy McGrath (D).

There was some news in Kentucky yesterday as Fayette County, the state’s second-largest local entity, reported its first numbers in the Senate Democratic primary. While only showing about 2,000 total votes counted, 72 percent of the early tallies went state Rep. Charles Booker’s (D-Louisville) way, a rather astonishing occurrence in opponent Amy McGrath’s home county.

You will remember that McGrath ran for the US House in the Fayette County-anchored 6th District in 2018. Therefore, it was expected that the Fayette Senate primary totals would heavily favor her, thus suggesting her 5,104 early statewide vote lead might be sustained. Though just a sliver of the actual votes to come from Fayette are now reported, the fact that Booker would receive such a large share indicates the supposition that McGrath would sweep the county is incorrect.

Even with a low total being reported from Fayette — and that appears to be the only county with newly reported data — the Secretary of State is telling county election administration personnel not to release numbers until June 30. Booker’s statewide deficit is now just 4,066 votes with well over 600,000 votes expected to be added to the various totals.

The vote overlay also boosts Booker’s potential chance of slipping past McGrath when understanding that his home area alone, Jefferson County, could easily wipe out such a small statewide deficit. Jefferson County, which houses Louisville and is Kentucky’s largest local entity, has a population that exceeds 760,000 individuals. Therefore, the expected vote total coming from the locality will be large in proportion to the outstanding number of uncounted ballots. Thus, the race may well be too close to call.

In any event, the big winner of the Democratic primary appears to be incumbent Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell. He is now assured of facing a Democratic general election opponent who will come out of their own party primary with a split base, not the way one would want to start a general election campaign against a powerful Senate majority Leader who tends to dominate his state’s politics.
Continue reading

Primary Results: Many Undecided

By Jim Ellis

June 24, 2020 — Partial returns were reported last night in Kentucky and New York, but it likely will be June 30 before we see even unofficial final totals as both states wait for returning absentee ballots.

In Kentucky, an estimated 625,000 ballots are in the postal system and can take until June 27 to arrive in their respective county counting centers. The secretary of state is allowing the Kentucky counties to not report until June 30 and will not release statewide totals until then. News services, however, were reporting counted numbers.

Trends appear better established in New York, where a greater percentage of the overall vote is most likely counted. New York generally records low primary participation numbers. Most of the races have clear winners, however. Completed totals are reported in North Carolina and Virginia.

The Kentucky Senate Democratic primary, as closing polling predicted, is tight in early counting. Retired Marine Corps pilot Amy McGrath leads state Rep. Charles Booker (D-Louisville), but with only a 5,104-vote margin (45-37 percent) among the just under 62,000 votes tabulated. No numbers are reported from the state’s two largest counties, Jefferson and Fayette, the homes of Booker and McGrath, respectively.

At this point, McGrath appears headed toward a close victory but, with so many votes outstanding, it will likely be a full week before we see an official winner declared. On the Republican side, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s 87 percent total assures him of re-nomination.

All five of Kentucky congressional Republican incumbents have been re-nominated, as each total between 88-94 percent of the yesterday’s in-person vote. Kentucky is one of 12 states that does not allow early voting. In Rep. John Yarmuth’s (D-Louisville) 3rd District, no numbers have been reported in the Republican primary, but the congressman has been re-nominated because he was unopposed on the Democratic side.

In New York, state Sen. Chris Jacobs (R-Buffalo) has been projected as the special election winner in the vacant 27th District. Of the totals counted, he topped former Grand Island town supervisor Nate McMurray (D), 69-29 percent. In the concurrent Republican primary for the regular term, Jacobs is capturing 71 percent of the vote to easily win the party nomination for the full term.
Continue reading

The Unique New York Special;
Other Key Primaries Today

By Jim Ellis

June 23, 2020 — Voters in five states — New York, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Virginia — will cast nomination votes today, and some interesting races are on tap.

NEW YORK

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx), faces challenges from former CNBC anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera and two minor candidates today.

Though the intra-party challenges to Reps. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx) have drawn the most political attention, Buffalo area state Sen. Chris Jacobs (R) is embroiled in a unique special congressional election to replace resigned-Rep. Chris Collins (R).

The special wasn’t designed to have such an interesting, and largely confusing format, but a quirk in New York election procedure has caused Jacobs to be campaigning simultaneously before two different electorates. He faces Democratic former Grand Island town supervisor Nate McMurray, who held Rep. Collins to a 48-47 percent victory in 2018 in the special general, and two strong Republican challengers in the regular 2020 primary.

It’s not particularly unusual to see a special election and a regular primary election being run concurrently, but it is strange to see a special general and a regular primary paired. Therefore, this forces Jacobs to campaign closer to the political center, a place where he typically falls, in his battle with McMurray to serve the balance of the current term, while also protecting his right flank against two opponents who are attacking him for being outside the Republican Party mainstream. McMurray has no such problem because he is unopposed on the Democratic side.

The 27th District is vacant because Rep. Collins resigned the seat when pleading guilty to an insider financial trading federal charge. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) scheduled the replacement election on the same day as the regular primary. Since the New York political parties give power to choose replacement nominees to the various county chairmen in the district, there is no special election primary. Therefore, voters only cast one ballot to fill a congressional vacancy.

While Sen. Jacobs needs the Republican rank and file to turn out heavily to support him against McMurray, two GOP candidates not chosen by the party leaders, Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw and attorney and former town judge Beth Parlato, are consistently hitting him from the right, thus cross pressuring his message to the GOP base.

In the closing days, Parlato, who also carries the Conservative Party ballot line, has launched an additional attack on Jacobs indicating that he’s being investigated for voter fraud. While a citizen charge was filed, the local District Attorney has already dropped the action as having no substantiation. Still, Jacobs’ has had to defend himself on another political front.

The 27th District is an upstate seat that begins in the eastern Buffalo suburbs and extends north all the way to Lake Ontario, and then drops south of Rochester and east as far as the town of Canandaigua. The district includes four whole counties and parts of four others, including Erie and Niagara. It is a reliably Republican district (Trump ’16: 60-35 percent; Romney ’12: 55-43 percent).

The CD did flip to the Democrats, however, the last time a special congressional election was held here. Kathy Hochul, now New York’s lieutenant governor, won the seat in 2011. She was then subsequently defeated in the 2012 regular election by Collins, however.
Continue reading