Category Archives: Senate

Daley Out in Illinois; Brown Improves in NH

Bill Daley

Bill Daley

Illinois

As quick and surprising as former US Commerce Secretary Bill Daley’s entry was into the Democratic gubernatorial campaign, so too is his exit. Daley, also a former White House chief of staff to President Obama, had been challenging Gov. Pat Quinn in the Democratic primary. Quinn assumed office when then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) was sentenced to prison and then won a razor-thin one point victory in the regular election against Republican Bill Brady back in 2010.

With Quinn’s approval numbers lagging and the state facing serious financial difficulty, Daley launched his effort to deny the governor renomination in April when he formed an exploratory committee. But now the former cabinet secretary and son of legendary Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley says he cannot “commit to what the voters may need,” meaning that he does not feel up to serving at least five and potentially nine years (counting the campaign time) in order to get the state “on the right track.”

The decision is good news for at least two people, Gov. Quinn and the eventual Republican nominee. Quinn will now likely avoid a serious primary contest that could heavily damage him for the general election. Early polling showed both he and Daley in the high 30s percentile. Obviously, an incumbent failing to break even 40 percent among members of his own party is a clear sign of inherent political weakness.

Despite abandoning his campaign, Daley reiterated that he believes he could win the race and that Quinn will lose his re-election, asking for “forgiveness” for being honest. Through the last financial disclosure report in June, Daley had raised over $800,000 for his gubernatorial campaign. He says he will conduct an audit of his committee and return contribution money that was not  Continue reading >

New Michigan Numbers Raise Questions

A new EPIC-MRA poll (Sept. 7-10; 600 registered Michigan voters) places Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and potential Republican senatorial nominee Terri Lynn Land in an improved political position just as next year’s active campaign cycle is beginning. But, the poll’s methodology may contain a flaw. The sampling universe is arguably skewed slightly toward the GOP.

The survey’s ballot test posts Gov. Snyder to a 44-36 percent lead over former Rep. Mark Schauer (D-MI-7), a net seven-point swing in the incumbent’s favor since the last EPIC-MRA poll was conducted in May.

For the Senate race, Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-14), the presumed Democratic nominee, is staked to only a one-point 38-37 percent edge over Land. In EPIC’s May poll, the firm tested Peters against Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI-8) who, at that time, was considering entering the race. The result found the Democratic congressman leading his Republican colleague 37-30 percent. The current EPIC findings are very similar to a late July Denno Research poll that plotted the two candidates – Peters and Land – in a 39 percent deadlock.

The study, however, may not accurately reflect the proper composition of the Michigan electorate. Generally a state that leans Democrat, the sampling universe constructed for this particular survey is comprised of 39 percent self-identified Democrats, 36 percent who affiliate with the Republicans, and 25 percent either saying they are independent or named a minor party with which they associate. Michigan voters do not register as political party members, so it is difficult to ascertain an accurate total of each party’s loyalists. But, considering the electorate has supported President Obama twice with percentage splits of 54-45 percent (2012) and 57-41 percent (2008), it is reasonable to argue that EPIC’s Democratic share is low.

On the other hand, in the 2010 mid-term election, Snyder carried the state 58-40 percent under a much lower voter participation factor (in 2008, five million people cast ballots; in 2010, the total turnout was only 3.2 million). Therefore, considering that we are soon headed into another mid-term election, the partisan spread of just over three points could, in fact, be close to accurate for such a projected turnout model.

The Candidates

Though the Democratic leadership has  Continue reading >

Graham Below 50%; NYC Mayoral Update

Sen. Lindsey Graham

Sen. Lindsey Graham

A new poll shows South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) dropping below majority support in his battle for renomination in next year’s Republican senatorial primary. Graham, running for a third six-year term, is opposed by three Republicans, only one of whom has been elected to any office. The poll, however, possesses a significant methodological flaw, which could cast doubt upon the results.

The survey, from Landmark Communications and Rosetta Stone Communications (Aug. 25; 500 South Carolina Republican voters; released Sept. 5) posts Sen. Graham to a 42-13-10-7 percent lead over state Sen. Lee Bright, businesswoman Nancy Mace – the first female graduate from The Citadel – and businessman and former 3rd Congressional District candidate Richard Cash, respectively.

While Graham clearly has a large cumulative lead over his opponents, this study projects him far away from reaching the 50 percent mark necessary for clinching the party nomination without a run-off election.

Under South Carolina law, such run-off elections are generally held only two weeks after the primary vote. Considering that the 2010 federal MOVE Act requires a 45-day period for military and overseas voters to receive and return their ballots, it is conceivable that a court could force the state to schedule a longer time between elections, just as judges in at least New York, Texas, and Georgia have done. Should the run-off be rescheduled to create a longer election cycle, the conventional wisdom is such a change may help a potential Graham head-to-head challenger because the individual will have some time to raise the  Continue reading >

Another Bass Return?

In a race that has been quiet for many months, a reversal of course may be upon us. It appears that Republicans will soon end their dormancy against New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) as a pair of candidates may announce for the right to oppose her in the 2014 general election.

Former Rep. Charlie Bass (R-NH-2) was first elected to the US House in the Republican landslide of 1994 and served without receiving a major challenge until 2006. That year, in what proved to be a Democratic landslide that swept the Republicans out of power in Washington, attorney Paul Hodes (D) scored a 53-46 percent win over the veteran GOP congressman. When Hodes launched a campaign for an open Senate seat in 2010, an effort doomed to fail in a crushing defeat, Bass returned to the political arena and re-claimed his 2nd District with a razor thin 48-47 percent win over attorney Ann McLane Kuster (D). Last year, Kuster sanctioned Rep. Bass back to former member status with a 50-45 percent victory in what again proved to be a Granite State Democratic sweep.

At the end of last week, Bass confirmed that he is “seriously considering” a return to elective politics by challenging Sen. Shaheen. Though the incumbent’s job approval ratings are very strong, 53:23 percent in the latest University of New Hampshire poll (late July), the New Hampshire electorate has swung wildly since 2006, alternating between giving both Democrats and Republicans sweeping wins from the top of the ticket to the bottom. Since 2006, inclusive, NH voters have defeated one senator (Shaheen over John E. Sununu in ’08) and five House incumbents (Bass and Jeb Bradley in ’06, Carol Shea-Porter in ’10, Bass and Frank Guinta in ’12) – in a state that possesses only two congressional districts. The state legislative chambers have changed party control several times during that six-year period, too.

Several weeks ago, former state Sen. Jim Rubens (R) opened a senatorial exploratory committee and reports favorable response toward his budding candidacy. Local political insiders predict that Rubens will announce his official campaign within the next two weeks. Should Bass actually decide to run, the former state legislator’s presence in the race means primary opposition – primary opposition that will undoubtedly be to his right before a conservative dominated Republican electorate.

Regardless of the impending 2014 turnout model, which conventional wisdom suggests  Continue reading >

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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