Category Archives: Senate

Kentucky, Idaho & Oregon

By Jim Ellis

May 18, 2016
— Primaries were held last night in three states, and there were no surprises to speak of, except perhaps how well Sen. Bernie Sanders continues to perform against presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton.

Kentucky

Voters headed to the polls in the Blue Grass State to choose nominees for state and federal offices. Only Democrats cast ballots in the presidential contest. Republicans met in caucus back in early March, so there was no accompanying GOP primary.

Sen. Rand Paul (R) seeks re-nomination for a second term, and facing only two minor opponents, he easily won. His general election opponent will be Lexington/Fayette County Mayor Jim Gray (D), who glided to a landslide nomination win over six minor Democratic candidates.

None of the five incumbents seeking re-election had any serious nomination threat. Minister Nancy Jo Kemper (D) was thought to potentially be a serious opponent for two-term Rep. Andy Barr (R-Lexington) in the general election, but she had raised less that $150,000 for the race. All incumbents brushed back minor opposition. No Kentucky seat is expected to change hands in the general election. Continue reading

Polls: Razor Thin Races

By Jim Ellis

May 13, 2016 — Quinnipiac University, releasing the Senate numbers from the three-state presidential polls they just conducted, finds toss-up campaigns emerging across the board.

In Florida, both nomination battles are far from clear or being settled. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18), the Democratic establishment’s chosen candidate, and Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL-6), the conservative base contender who enjoys strong support from the Club for Growth — among other outside right-of-center organizations — were the strongest competitors for each party. It is important to note, however, that all potential general election match-ups were within small single-digit margins.

It is fair to say that representatives Murphy and DeSantis may have the best chance of advancing to the general election and, if they do, this might become the best campaign in the country. Such a race would feature two young, articulate office holders with leadership potential in their respective parties. That being said, the Q-Poll Florida data (April 27-May 8; 1,051 registered Florida voters) finds Murphy holding the barest of margins, 36-35 percent over DeSantis, meaning a virtual tie.

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Graham Out; Senate Primary Preview

By Jim Ellis

April 25, 2016 — Ever since the Florida State Supreme Court decided to re-draw the congressional boundaries halfway through the decade, freshman Rep. Gwen Graham (D, FL-2, Tallahassee) has been in the political wilderness. The court declared eight of the state’s districts unconstitutional last July and finished the new map earlier this year, radically changing the original plan as enacted by the legislative and executive branches.

After the preliminary map became public it was evident that Rep. Graham was becoming a political casualty. Wanting to draw a minority 5th District that stretched from Jacksonville to Tallahassee instead of the traditional draw that began in J’ville and then meandered through Gainesville and Sanford on its way to Orlando, the court sacrificed Graham by removing the Democratic base from the 2nd District seat and transferring it to the new District 5.

Rumors were rampant that Graham, the daughter of former governor and US Sen. Bob Graham (D), would enter the open Senate race. As time passed with no movement in that direction, it was apparent she saw her career heading in a different direction. Yesterday, Rep. Graham announced that she will not seek re-election, and broadly hinted that running in the open 2018 governor’s race is within her political future.

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New Senate Primary Polls

By Jim Ellis

April 8, 2016 — Democrats have two near-term US Senate primary battles underway and both will be decided on April 26. The Maryland Democratic primary will almost assuredly determine who succeeds retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D). The Pennsylvania contest will identify first-term Sen. Pat Toomey’s (R) general election opponent in what promises to be a hotly contested campaign with national implications.

Maryland

The polls have seesawed for weeks between representatives Donna Edwards (D-Prince Georges County) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Montgomery County). Just last Friday, Van Hollen released his own Garin Hart Yang Research survey giving the candidate a 45-40 percent advantage, but this is the only recent poll arriving at such a conclusion. Several days earlier, the Baltimore Sun published their data giving Edwards a 34-28 percent lead.

Seeing this, the Washington Post, partnering with the University of Maryland, went into the field with their own poll (March 30-April 3; 539 likely Maryland Democratic primary voters) and also found Edwards ahead. The spread was 44-40 percent among likely Democratic primary voters and 44-35 percent when the entire registered Democratic universe (741) was queried. The conclusions are exactly the opposite of Van Hollen’s findings.

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Swinging Wisconsin Numbers

By Jim Ellis

April 1, 2016 — A new Marquette Law School political poll (March 24-28; 1,405 registered Wisconsin voters, 471 “certain” Wisconsin Republican primary voters, 405 “certain” Wisconsin Democratic primary voters) reveals a major swing involving the Republican presidential candidates when compared to the organization’s previous survey taken one month earlier.

With the Wisconsin primary being decided on Tuesday, the latest polls are being taken seriously. According to the just-released data, a net 31-point swing now puts Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) into a significant lead well beyond the margin of error. The late March Marquette results find Cruz leading Donald Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, 40-30-21 percent, respectively. At the end of February, Trump held a 30-19-8 percent lead over Cruz and Kasich.

Wisconsin Republican Party leaders chose the Winner-Take-All by congressional district delegate apportionment system, meaning 24 of the state’s 42 delegates will be awarded to the candidate placing first in each of the eight congressional districts (three in each CD). Another 15 are awarded to the statewide winner, while the three Republican National Committee delegates also go to the top at-large vote-getter.

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A Tar Heel Sleeper?

By Jim Ellis

March 25, 2016 — With the presidential campaign dominating the political media, it is easy to lose sight of the highly important 34 Senate races running simultaneously. At least one campaign appears to be in transition, and is rapidly shifting from relatively safe to potentially competitive.

Throughout 2015, it was commonly believed that North Carolina represented the Democrats’ most glaring candidate recruitment failure. Try as they might to attract a top name office holder or former statewide official like ex-US Sen. Kay Hagen, the party leaders could not convince a person of significant political stature to run. They settled for ex-state Rep. Deborah Ross and small town mayor Chris Rey. But the recent primary results and a new poll suggest that this race may be ascending the targeting charts.

In the March 15 statewide Democratic primary, Ross easily captured the Senate nomination and posted a much stronger-than-anticipated 62 percent against Rey (16 percent) and two other opponents. North Carolina carries a 40 percent run-off requirement; meaning, if no candidate exceeds this particular vote threshold the top two finishers move to a secondary election. Questions about Ross cracking the 40 percent mark consumed the pre-race predictions.

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Golden State Filings

By Jim Ellis

March 22, 2016 — The California candidate filing deadline occurred at the end of last week, and several races in both the June primary and general election look interesting.

To review, California uses the top-two, jungle primary system, where all candidates appear together on the June 7 ballot, and then the first two finishers advance to the general election regardless of political party affiliation. It is likely that this system contributes to the large number of congressional candidates coming forth this year.

In the Senate race, while Democrats hope to qualify two of their own for the general election, namely Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-46), voters will have to find the pair through a mass of 32 other candidates in order for them to secure advancement. Six Democrats, 17 Republicans, and 11 Independents will be in the June Senate race. Attorney General Harris is favored to win the seat in November.

In the congressional races, only two of the 49 incumbents seeking re-election failed to draw an opponent. Representatives Jackie Speier (D-CA-14) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA-40) are the only unopposed members for both the primary and general elections.

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