Category Archives: Primary

Top-Two “Jungle Primary” Reverberations

By Jim Ellis

May 14, 2018 — Back in 2010, when initiators created the movement to change the California primary system to feature a jungle format — where the top two finishers advance to the general election regardless of the percentage of vote they attained or party affiliation — they had hoped their ultimately successful ballot initiative would favor candidates closer to the political center. Approaching the June 5, 2018 primary, however, we see that this top-two system might produce quite different and possibly unintended outcomes.

California Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (CA-480

California Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (CA-48)

In a pair of competitive Southern California Republican congressional districts, recent polling suggests that Democrats could find themselves on the outside looking in for the November election despite having high hopes of converting the two seats.

The districts are CA-48, where veteran 15-term US Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) seeks to be part of another two-year congressional session, and CA-49, the open Orange/San Diego County seat from which Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) is retiring.

The pair of early May polls, one from Change Research (CA-48) and the other Benenson Strategy Group (CA-49), reveals that two Republicans could potentially advance to the general election in both districts, thus preventing Democrats from competing in the general election. Though it’s mathematically possible that two Dems could also progress to November in both places, the latter scenario is less likely because the GOP holds a voter registration edge in each CD.

California Rep. Darrell Issa (CA-49)

California Rep. Darrell Issa (CA-49)

In the 48th, Republicans have a 10-point 40.7-30.1 percent registration advantage over Democrats with an additional 24.5 percent declaring No Party Preference, meaning the latter are Independents. In the 49th, the GOP advantage is a lesser 36.7–31.1 percent with 26.6 percent not stating a party preference. Therefore, without coalescing the Democratic vote in each district behind one strong candidate, the chance plainly exists that Republicans could potentially slip two contenders in through the proverbial backdoor. In both the 48th and 49th, too many Democratic candidates are strong enough so as to prevent such a base unification.

The Change Research survey (May 2-3; 590 likely CA-48 jungle primary voters) finds Rep. Rohrabacher leading the field of four tested candidates (though a total of 16 candidate names will appear on the primary ballot, including three Democrats and one Republican who have withdrawn, but too late to erase their ballot positions). Rohrbacher is in front in the poll with just 27 percent of the vote, followed by Democratic scientist Hans Keirstead, who has 19 percent, and ex-state assemblyman and former Orange County Republican Party chairman Scott Baugh, with 17 percent. Democrat Harley Rouda, a businessman and attorney, garners 11 percent support.

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The Turnout Report:
Signs of a “Blue Wave”?

By Jim Ellis

May 10, 2018
— Looking at the voting patterns for Tuesday’s primaries in the four states holding elections, we see little evidence of the reported “blue wave” often discussed in media analyst reports — meaning a surge in Democratic Party voter turnout — but there is also sparse information to determine specific participation trends in many of the noted places.

state-of-ohio-mapOhio has the most complete data to compare totals for midterm elections dating back to 2006. On Tuesday, 1,506,777 people voted in the two major party primary elections, with just about 55 percent recorded in the Republican gubernatorial contest. The current grand total was the second largest participation figure in the four midterms since 2006, inclusive. The 1.506 million aggregate total was second only to the 2006 turnout that saw 1.626 million Ohioans voting. This year, both parties featured open gubernatorial primaries, each with a clear leader heading into Election Day.

In all four of the tested Ohio midterms, more people voted in the Republican primary. The 54.9 percent participation factor when measuring the two parties against each other on Tuesday night was the second highest of the sampled four. Only the Republicans’ 56.0 percent participation rate in 2014 was stronger. To put the current rate in perspective, the GOP low occurred in 2006 when 50.8 percent of primary voters cast a Republican ballot. In the succeeding general election, Democrat Ted Strickland would win the governor’s campaign, making the result consistent with the higher Democratic primary participation rate.

In the Buckeye State House races, eight of the 16 districts featured primary elections for both parties. In each of the districts holding primaries for both parties, the political entity controlling the seat before the election saw more people vote in that party’s primary. The most significant race was the special primary election in the 12th District, the seat former Rep. Pat Tiberi (R) vacated to return to the private sector. There, 23,902 more people voted in the Republican primary, thus providing some tangible support for predicting the state Sen. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) is favored to win the seat in the Aug. 7 special general vote.

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The Coming New Specials

By Jim Ellis

May 1, 2018 — Just when we thought the number of special elections was lessening when Debbie Lesko won the AZ-8 election last week to replace resigned Arizona Rep. Trent Franks (R-Peoria), new vacancies are popping up.

Pennsylvania Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Chadds Ford), abruptly resigned Friday.

Pennsylvania Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Chadds Ford), abruptly resigned Friday.

On Friday, Pennsylvania Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Chadds Ford), who had previously announced his retirement for term’s end, abruptly resigned when learning the House Ethics Committee was going to launch an investigation into the severance payment awarded to one of his staff employees. The source of this particular recompense was the special taxpayer funded congressional account found to cover members’ special staff settlements.

Meehan also pledged to repay the $39,000 payment that is the investigation’s basis within the next 30 days. Now that Meehan has exited the House, the Ethics Committee no longer has jurisdiction. He joins former Texas Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi) who resigned in early April also to avoid a congressional investigation.

Oklahoma Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Tulsa) resigned his seat in late April to accept his position in the Trump Administration as the new NASA Administrator. Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Allentown) says he will resign his seat at an unspecified date in early May, presumably because he will be accepting a position in the private sector. As we know, the late New York Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-Rochester) passed away on March 16.

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The Coming Primaries

By Jim Ellis

2018-elections-open-seats-185April 30, 2018 — Completing the Arizona special congressional election earlier this week is the precursor to the beginning of the primary season’s most prolific period: the nomination voting scheduled for May and June.

With two primary elections already in the books — the March nomination contests in Texas (March 6) and Illinois (March 20) — 11 additional states vote in May with 18 more coming in June. Once the final June primaries are completed on June 26, a total of 31 states will have nominees.

There are only run-offs scheduled in July before 14 more states vote in August. Massachusetts, Delaware, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island still hold September primaries, while the unique Louisiana election calendar continues to feature a jungle primary concurrent with the general election followed by a December run-off for those races where a candidate does not obtain a majority.

New York is the only state with two primaries. The federal primary for the Senate and House is scheduled for June 26. The statewide contests, including the governor’s race, will nominate in a separate vote on Sept. 13.

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More on the Illinois Primary Results

By Jim Ellis

March 22, 2018 — Tuesday night’s big stories in the Illinois primary were Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) having a difficult time in winning a close Republican primary, and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Western Springs) just barely surviving his Democratic primary challenge. Venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker successfully captured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination with a margin greater than polling had predicted.

Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) | RGA

Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) | RGA

Gov. Rauner scored only a 51.5 – 48.5 percent win over state Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) in a primary result that finds the state chief executive’s GOP political base eroding. While spending over $60 million in the primary campaign against just $3 million-plus for Ives, the 20:1 resource advantage only proved good for a three percentage point win with still 294 precincts not fully reporting as of this writing. The 351,086 to 330,227 vote totals represent 97 percent of the recorded voting universe. Mathematically, however, there are not enough uncounted votes remaining in Ives’ areas of strength for her to overcome the current statewide deficit.

In the 3rd District House race, seven-term Rep. Lipinski appears to have scored a narrow victory with almost all Cook County precincts reporting. Lipinski carried Cook County with 51.7 percent, a total that will likely rise a bit once all the votes are counted. His opponent, media consultant Marie Newman, won Will County with 58.6 percent of the vote and took the district’s sliver of DuPage County with a mere 55 to 34 vote margin. But, her 1,256 vote lead coming into Cook County was not substantial enough to defeat Lipinski there, which resulted in her district-wide loss.

Lipinski is one of the few remaining Blue Dog Democrats, while Newman enjoyed support from the Bernie Sanders’ wing of the Democratic Party along with major backing from national liberal organizations. The turnout will exceed 90,000 voters once all of the ballots are recorded. When all totals are official, the voter turnout percentage here will hover somewhere in the 45-50 percent range.

In other key congressional races, the Democratic primary in the state’s 6th District has flip-flopped back and forth in a very close contest between financial advisor Kelly Mazeski and clean energy company executive Sean Casten. Mazeski initially was in the lead but in the end, Casten pulled ahead when all 640 precincts were able to report vote totals. Casten captured about 30 percent of the vote (18,863) to Mazeski’s 26.5 percent (16,686). Five other candidates were on the ballot, and cumulatively they garnered 44.2 percent of the vote. Now Casten will challenge veteran Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton) who was unopposed in his primary.

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