Category Archives: Senate

West Virginia Numbers; Ilinois Developments

For an open Senate race in a cycle where the majority is up for grabs, the West Virginia effort to replace the retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D) has attracted little attention. This is largely due to the fact that Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2) is the only major announced candidate from either party. Considering how political events have unfolded here to date, the Mountaineer State contest appears to be the best Republican conversion opportunity in the country.

The biggest Democratic name who could still become a Senate candidate is Secretary of State Natalie Tennant. She has yet to enter the campaign, but is reportedly at the top of national Democratic recruitment lists for the state.

Testing a hypothetical Capito-Tennant pairing, R.L. Repass & Partners, a Charleston-based survey research organization, went into the field (Aug. 15-22; 400 registered West Virginia voters) and found a potentially close political battle. According to the results, Capito would lead Tennant only 45-40 percent, but certain methodology points need addressing and explaining.

First, the eight-day polling period is much longer than normal and tends to weaken reliability. Most pollsters attempt to complete the questioning process within three days.

Second, the sample size of 400 is slightly low for a statewide campaign, understanding that West Virginia is a small state. This, too, decreases reliability.

Third, according to local analysts, 53 percent of the polling sample self-identifies as college graduates, yet only 17 percent of the actual residents fit into that category using the 2010 US Census figures as the benchmark source.

Similarly, 54 percent of the polling respondents reported an annual income of greater than $50,000, while only 26 percent of statewide residents fall into that category.

How the skewing affects the ballot test remains to be seen. In the past two cycles, Republicans have fared poorly with college-educated voters so, at least on face value, such a skew probably improves Democrat Tennant’s polling standing. Likewise, when examining West Virginia voting behavior since 2000, skewing with a higher income sample also probably helps the Democrat candidate.
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The Montana Senate Waiting Game

In politics, timing is everything, and there’s great speculation as to just when Montana Rep. Steve Daines’ (R-AL) open Senate window might begin to close.

Over the weekend, retiring Sen. Max Baucus’ (D) former state director, John Lewis, announced the formation of a political campaign committee destined for what he believes will be an open US House seat. Lewis had been considered a potential Senate candidate, and still conceivably could become one should Rep. Daines decide to stay put.

So far, the freshman congressman has played this election cycle like a fiddle. Ignoring advice to announce immediately upon Sen. Baucus’ retirement plans becoming public this past April, Daines adroitly waited until former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) made his decision. It was presumed that Schweitzer would become the prohibitive favorite if he entered the race, so everyone held their cards in anticipation. In mid-July, when he chose not to seek the seat, all of the political focus turned to the state’s lone congressman, Daines.

Relatively soon after Schweitzer took himself out of the Senate competition, state auditor, Monica Lindeen, and superintendent of public instruction, Denise Juneau, both Democrats, also decided not to pursue the contest.

But, how much longer will prospective Senate candidates wait? Since the seat came open in April, only two people have announced their candidacies, neither of whom is expected to be a major contender. For the Democrats, only rancher Dirk Adams has declared. On the GOP side, state Sen. Matt Rosendale has taken the plunge.

Previously in the race, intending to challenge Sen. Baucus when it was believed he would seek re-election, are ex-state Senate Minority Leader Corey Stapleton and state Rep. Champ Edmunds. But, it is widely believe that all three announced Republicans will move to the House race if Daines reaches for the Senate.

The Lewis move suggests that things are beginning to happen, and that the time others are yielding to Daines could soon come to an end.

Understandably, Rep. Daines wants to be politically careful. Elected for the first time last November with a strong 53-43 percent margin when the other statewide   Continue reading >

Louisiana Data Conflict; Kasich Down in Ohio

Two days ago, a pair of polls were released into the public domain projecting that Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6) is faring well against Sen. Mary Landrieu (D). Yesterday, Public Policy Polling publicized a counter-study showing the senator to be in much better political shape, thus calling the Republican data into question. Why the stark difference? We’ll explain shortly.

The two Republican polls were conducted by OnMessage for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and Harper Polling for a conservative website. The OnMessage data (Aug. 12-15; 800 registered Louisiana voters) gave Sen. Landrieu only a 45-41 percent advantage over Rep. Cassidy. HP (Aug. 14-15; 596 registered Louisiana voters) found even better results for the Baton Rouge congressman, actually placing him ahead of the incumbent on a 47-45 percent count.

The PPP data (Aug. 16-19; 721 registered Louisiana voters) forecasts quite a different take. According to these results, Sen. Landrieu has a comfortable lead over Rep. Cassidy, 50-40 percent, when the two are paired in a hypothetical post-primary December 2014 run-off election.

Seeing Democratic and Republican pollsters surveying the same race at the same time but arriving at drastically different conclusions happened relatively frequently during the last election cycle. Particularly in the presidential campaign, we often saw the Republican data placing GOP nominee Mitt Romney in much better position against President Obama than was actually the case.

The chief reason for the past projection disparity was the turnout screening mechanism used in qualifying those who constituted the various sampling universes, and such is undoubtedly the case with these conflicting Louisiana numbers.

In the presidential year, the Democratic pollsters were much closer to accurately forecasting the participation model in what will prove to be the higher turnout year of 2012. Now heading into the mid-term cycle, where voting participation is always lower than in presidential elections, it may be the GOP numbers that yield the more accurate prediction.

As we know, who turns out always determines an election winner, and no one suggests that election year 2014 will be any exception to that rule. Defining the most  Continue reading >

Louisiana Polling

louisiana

Several polls were just conducted about upcoming Louisiana campaigns, specifically the Senate challenge to incumbent Mary Landrieu (D) and the new House special election for resigning Rep. Rodney Alexander’s (R-LA-5) seat.

Senate

Two pollsters went into the field to test Sen. Landrieu and Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6). OnMessage, conducting an internal poll for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (Aug. 12-15; 800 registered Louisiana voters), found the senator to be leading the congressman by just a 45-41 percent count.

Party loyalty is strong for both candidates. Sen. Landrieu captures 77 percent of the Democratic vote, while Rep. Cassidy seizes 72 percent of the Republicans. In what could be a looming problem for Landrieu, Independents already break 41-37 percent in favor of Cassidy.

The one issue tested, reaction to the Obamacare mandatory health insurance program, was viewed very negatively. Of those sampled, 33 percent favor the program while a whopping 62 percent expressed opposition to the concept; and 53 percent of the 62 percent described their negative impressions as “strong.”

Meanwhile Harper Polling, during the same time frame (Aug. 14-15; 596 registered Louisiana voters) reports even better numbers for Republican Cassidy. According to HP, the Baton Rouge congressman enjoys a 47-45 percent advantage over the senator.

Two lesser known Republican candidates also poll well. Sen. Landrieu surprisingly only ties state Sen. Elbert Guillory (R), with each individual registering 44 percent preference of those polled. Retired Air Force officer Rob Maness (R) does not fare as well. In this pairing, Sen. Landrieu posts a 47-41  Continue reading >

Camp Says No in Michigan; Brown for President?

Michigan

House Ways & Means Committee chairman Dave Camp (R-MI-4), after flirting with running for his state’s open Senate seat, again says that he will remain in his current position so he can continue leading his committee’s tax relief efforts.

Back in March, when veteran US Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) announced that he would not seek a seventh term next year, Camp immediately declined to run statewide. Last month, however, the congressman appeared to come full circle by publicly indicating that he was reconsidering his previous decision to remain in the House.

His move gave national and local Republicans reason to begin upgrading their chances to defeat Detroit Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-14), who already appears to be the Democrats’ consensus candidate. Virtually all political analysts gave Camp higher marks as a Michigan Senate candidate than ex-Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R), partly due to his ability to amass funds as Ways & Means Committee chairman.

Now, Camp has yet again re-reconsidered his position and invokes his initial decision to forgo a statewide run. He again said, over the weekend, that he wants to remain in his current position to concentrate on tax relief legislation. The northern Michigan representative will continue to chair the committee until the end of this current Congress. Under party rules, his allotted service will then end.

The Republicans need six seats to wrest Senate control away from the Democrats, and the open Michigan contest is an important one if they are to achieve such a goal.

Today, it appears highly likely that GOP candidates will capture open Democratic seats in West Virginia, South Dakota, and Montana, leaving them with three more conversion victories to obtain, assuming the three aforementioned states do come through. Realistically, even with Michigan included as a target, there are only six more seats where competition is likely to occur, assuming the GOP holds their own potentially vulnerable positions in Georgia and Kentucky. A lesser Michigan Republican challenge obviously reduces their chances of gaining the majority.

Brown in Iowa
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Booker Cruises to a Win

Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D)

Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D)

Yesterday, just 8.8 percent of New Jersey voters went to the polls (481,847 of more than 5.47 million registered with 98 percent of precincts reporting) to participate in the special primary election for US Senate, a process that will prove to be the determinative step in choosing the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s (D) successor.

As aggregate polling had almost exactly predicted since the first day of this special election cycle, Newark Mayor Cory Booker commanded the Democratic primary. He racked up 59 percent of the vote compared to second place Rep. Frank Pallone’s (D-NJ-6) 20 percent, third-place finisher Rep. Rush Holt’s (D-NJ-12) 17 percent, with Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver tallying only 4 percent.

Under Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) special election schedule, the general election vote is Wednesday, Oct. 16, and will officially feature Booker and Republican former Mayor Steve Lonegan (R-Bogota) who easily won the GOP nomination. Lonegan attracted 79 percent of the GOP vote against physician Alieta Eck. Six Independents will also appear on the general election ballot. The national Republican Party apparatus is not expected to actively support Lonegan, virtually conceding the seat to Booker.

The Newark mayor raised close to $10 million for the special primary election ($8.6 million through the final July 24 pre-primary disclosure period) as compared to Pallone’s $729,000 through the same period, though the congressman was able to transfer some $3.3 million from his US House committee. Holt raised over $962,000 during the same time frame and transferred an additional $500,000 from his congressional account to exceed $1.4 million in total Senate campaign receipts. Oliver reported raising less than $12,000.

Of the more than 481,000 people who voted yesterday, 352,120 participated in the Democratic primary. In a state where  Continue reading >

The Affordable Care Act and the Arkansas Senate Race

As we predicted last week when Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR-4) announced his challenge to Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), this campaign could conceivably draw the most attention of any political race in the country. Yesterday, as reported in several political publications, already two more Arkansas Senate surveys were released.

Both of the new studies are from Republican pollsters, The Polling Company for the Washington Free Bacon conservative political website and OnMessage for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Both project the race to be a dead heat. The Polling Company (Aug. 6-7; 600 registered Arkansas voters) scores the battle 45-43 percent in favor of Sen. Pryor. OnMessage (July 29-30; 600 registered Arkansas voters) gives Cotton a similar 44-42 percent edge.

These numbers are on the heels of another poll, from Harper Polling (Aug. 4-5; 587 registered Arkansas voters) that shows the same two point spread, this version 43-41 percent in favor of Republican Cotton.

But the ballot test questions do not give us the most salient clues as to how this campaign will likely unfold. It is clear from examining the questions asked, and the respondents’ answers, that the new national healthcare law’s implementation can become the over-riding driver of the campaign. Looking ahead through next year, if Obamacare implementation does become the determining focal point, Cotton likely will win. Conversely, if the new healthcare law is being implemented in a satisfactory manner and other issues evolve into greater or equal importance, Sen. Pryor probably survives.

According to The Polling Company data, 50 percent of the respondent pool would be less likely to support Sen. Pryor because of his vote in favor of Obamacare, versus the 40 percent who answered more likely. The OnMessage totals are more stark. According to their data tables, 55 percent would be more likely to support Cotton because he voted to repeal Obamacare, contrasting with 33 percent who say they are more likely to support Sen. Pryor because he voted for Obamacare.

Most analysts believe that the public view of the new healthcare law will deteriorate over the next year as more people understand how the legislation will directly affect them. Therefore, Cotton must use his campaign to  Continue reading >