Category Archives: Senate

Rand Paul’s Dilemma

Nov. 3, 2015 — It’s no secret that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has under-performed in the presidential contest, and the question on most political observers and analysts’ minds is when will he exit the race? Unlike all of the other candidates, Sen. Paul must defend his elected position in 2016. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) originally faced the same decision, but long ago announced that he would forego running for a second senatorial term in order to fully concentrate on his presidential campaign.

A new Vox Populi poll (Oct. 26-27; 618 KY registered voters) surveying the Kentucky electorate on the eve of their gubernatorial election (Tuesday, Nov. 3) also tested Sen. Paul in a hypothetical re-election effort. According to these results, Paul only maintains a 47-38 percent lead over state auditor, Adam Edelen (D), who is merely a prospective Democratic candidate. The Democrats’ first choice to challenge the incumbent is outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear (D), but he has given no indication of having any interest in the federal position when his final term ends in January.

Based upon the governor’s results, the Vox polling sample might have a slight Republican skew, meaning Paul’s situation could conceivably be more precarious. The governor numbers find Republican Matt Bevin tied with Attorney General Jack Conway (44 percent apiece), which is considerably better than the other recently published polls: last week both Survey USA and Western Kentucky University projected Conway as a 45-40 percent leader.

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The Ohio Senate Race:
A Strange Beginning

Oct. 16, 2015 — So far, the Ohio Senate campaign has begun as the new election cycle’s most peculiar contest. Sen. Rob Portman (R), seeking a second term, is leading in every aspect of the campaign but the polls. According to the last four surveys, former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) has a small edge over the Ohio senator, who was previously the Director of the US Office of Management and Budget, and a Cincinnati congressman.

Just last week the Harstad Strategic Group, polling for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, released early September data giving Strickland a 46-43 percent lead over Sen. Portman. Interestingly, Quinnipiac University, polling at the end of September and into early October, found exactly the same split: again Strickland topping Portman, 46-43 percent.

But, that’s not all. In Quinnipiac’s August version, they posted Strickland to a 44-41 percent advantage following their late June study that gave the former governor an even larger 46-40 percent margin. It was commonly viewed at the time that this first data finding Strickland with the edge was potentially an anomaly, but seeing other findings that supported the original result requires further examination before such a conclusion could be drawn. The last public poll to show Portman ahead came in early June from Public Policy Polling. In that survey the senator held a 43-41 percent lead.

The ballot test tilting toward Strickland makes little sense when we see that the same polls reported the incumbent’s personal favorability and job approval scores as being good. While the June Q-Poll found Strickland up six points, Portman scored a job approval of 49:28 percent and a personal rating of 43:21 percent.

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The Speaker Race and its Effect on Elections; Pennsylvania
and Ohio Senate Data

Oct. 12, 2015 — Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA-23) surprise announcement that he has dropped out of the Speaker’s race was, of course, big news at the end of last week, but how will the change in House leadership affect the 2016 general election?

To a large extent, it’s too early to tell, especially with the new Speaker election not yet being scheduled and without knowing the identities of all the eventual candidates. Will the McCarthy withdrawal have much of an effect concerning how Republicans fare at the polls at the end of next year? No. But certainly the eventual John Boehner replacement will have a great deal of influence over how the House Republican campaigns unfold.

At this writing, there does seem to be a push, led by outgoing Speaker Boehner, to convince Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI-1), chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee and the 2012 Republican Vice Presidential nominee, to enter the internal Speaker’s campaign. At this point, Ryan continues to reject all such suggestions, but he does appear to be one of the few members who has a chance of uniting the Republicans in order to capture the 218 votes needed for victory.

With Ryan’s drive to enact economic policy, a much better chance would exist for him to develop an agenda for Republican candidates nationally to promote and rally around. Having such a platform would help crystallize the campaign and ensure the maximum number of House GOP electoral victories. No agenda has been present in the past two campaigns, which precludes more positive, issue-oriented campaigning.

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Breaking Down the Senate Races

Oct. 8, 2015 — Gov. Maggie Hassan’s (D-NH) announcement Monday that she will challenge Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) changes the national Senate picture. Adding New Hampshire to the most highly competitive category is certainly an advantage for the Democrats but, even so, they are still short of obtaining what they need to recapture the Senate majority they lost in 2014.

As we know, 34 Senate seats are in-cycle for 2016, 24 of which majority Republicans hold. In order to gain control, Democrats must protect all 10 of their seats and convert four Republican states.

Looking ahead as to where the campaigns might find themselves in political prime time, those key eight weeks before the election, we’ve put together the following categories to show how the races break down state to state: Continue reading

New Hampshire Senate Race is
Suddenly a “Toss Up”

Oct. 7, 2015 — New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) announced Monday that she will challenge Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) next year. Rumors abounded since the time Hassan was re-elected to a second two-year term that she would in fact make the move to the Senate race. Recently, however, it appeared that the chances of her giving up the governorship in order to challenge the Republican incumbent were becoming lesser. So, the announcement came as a mild surprise.

The move increases the Democrats’ chances of re-taking the Senate because they put another state in play. This is clearly now a toss-up race, featuring two veteran statewide candidates in the most unpredictable of political states. No place has defeated more federal incumbents since 2006 than New Hampshire. Beginning with Jeanne Shaheen’s (D) victory over then-Sen. John E. Sununu (R) nine years ago, the electorate has subsequently unseated six congressional incumbents while only re-electing three during this five-election period.

The New Hampshire political tides have also been strong. Except for the governor’s office, which has remained primarily in Democratic hands, the state has swept out the entire slate of both party office holders almost routinely in the past 10 years.

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Surprising Colorado Announcement

Oct. 2, 2015 — An unexpected announcement was made in Colorado yesterday, as Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, the current top Republican recruit to challenge Sen. Michael Bennet (D), decided to forego a statewide run and will instead seek re-election.

This is quite an about-face from all preliminary signals detected last week. It seemed all but certain that Brauchler would enter the campaign giving Republicans a man they describe as a top-notch challenger to battle Sen. Bennet. But, would that actually have been the case?

Brauchler was the prosecuting attorney in the James Holmes case, the young man who gunned down 12 people and wounded 70 others in an Aurora, CO movie theater rampage during the summer of 2012. After many delays, the Holmes trial finally began on April 27 this year, and lasted until July 16. Braucher summoned 9,000 juror candidates from which to draw a dozen who would serve on the jury and several more as alternates.

He would later reject Holmes’ offer to plead guilty in exchange for not being given a death sentence. Brauchler spurned the plea offer, and then ultimately failed to secure the death penalty sentence because jurors were not unanimous in their opinion that Holmes should die. The perpetrator was eventually sentenced to 12 life sentences without the possibility of parole, and then an additional 3,318 years for the 140 attempted murder counts.

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Walker Leaves the Stage;
New Pennsylvania Senate Data

Sept. 23, 2015 — The rise and fall of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker ultimately proved meteoric in both directions. After rising to the top of the Republican presidential heap earlier in the year, the nominal former front-runner yesterday departed the presidential race.

His decline, largely at the hands of current GOP front-runner Donald Trump, was as far and fast as his original ascension. All recent polls positioned him dropping to three percent or below, about 1/6th the size of his original support base, but the latest CNN/ORC survey (Sept. 17-19; 924 national registered voters; 444 likely Republican primary voters) portended rock bottom. The CNN study revealed that Walker failed to even record a percentage point.

How does Walker leaving the race affect the remaining candidates? If he has his way, others would follow his lead exiting the contest in order to allow those with the true ability to overtake Trump and unify the conservative movement the opportunity to do so.

Walker’s mistakes did not occur on the actual campaign trail. Rather, they were strategic and administrative in nature. Waiting too long to officially enter the race, failing to stand out at the debates, and spending too much money on staff overhead proved to be his downfall even though he uttered only minor public gaffes.

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