Category Archives: Senate

NH Gov. Sununu Polling Positively

By Jim Ellis

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R)

Sept. 3, 2021 — The St. Anselm College’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics poll was released this week (Aug. 24-26; 1,855 registered New Hampshire voters, online weighted responses), and it contains good news for three-term Granite State Gov. Chris Sununu (R). From this data, Sununu records his largest lead of the early 2022 election cycle, 49-41 percent, over first term incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan (D).

Gov. Sununu has yet to enter the race and says he will make a final decision about his political future well into next year. Since New Hampshire is one of two states that limits its governors to two-year terms, Sununu is in the middle of his third term even though completing just his fifth year in office. He is eligible to run for a fourth term, and beyond.

Because New Hampshire has one of the latest primaries on the election calendar – Sept. 13 in 2022 – it wouldn’t be surprising for the governor to wait even until the end of the next legislative session to declare his political intentions for the midterm cycle. With his win percentage increasing to 65.1 percent in 2020 after victories of 52.8 and 49.0 percent in his first two elections and with a current 64:34 percent positive favorability ratio, the governor has the luxury of waiting along with the ability to clear the GOP field regardless of the office for which he ultimately declares.

With Gov. Sununu as the GOP’s Senate nominee, New Hampshire becomes the Republicans’ best national conversion opportunity, and he is obviously under heavy pressure from party leaders to run.

For her part, Sen. Hassan is prepared for a tough fight. Through the June 30 Federal Election Commission financial disclosure period, she reported raising $11.3 million during her out-of-cycle four years, with a whopping cash-on-hand figure of $6.56 million.

The Democrats appear fortunate that the election is so far away. The poll’s underlying numbers suggest they would fare badly in the New Hampshire general election if voting were in a close time proximity, but the Granite State electorate is wholly unpredictable. Since the turn of the century, no state has swung as wildly as New Hampshire, with the electorate going heavily for both parties in different election years.

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A Nevada Stunner

First-term Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D).
Is there re-election trouble brewing?

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 30, 2021 — A publicly released Nevada US Senate survey released late last week revealed an eye-opening result. According to the VCreek/AMG poll conducted for the conservative Americas PAC (Aug. 9-14; 567 registered Nevada voters, live interview), former attorney general and recently announced US Senate candidate Adam Laxalt (R) holds a stunning 42-32 percent lead over first-term Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D).

Cortez Masto was elected in 2016, defeating then-US Rep. Joe Heck (R), 47-45 percent, in another of Nevada’s typically close recent elections. Prior to winning the Senate seat, Cortez Masto served as the state’s attorney general from 2007 to 2015, winning two statewide elections for that position with substantial percentage margins, 59-36 percent in 2006 and 53-36 percent in 2010.

Preparing for what she believes will be a close contest, the senator has already raised $11.6 million in her first term and held a whopping $6.58 million in her campaign account at the June 30th Federal Election Commission finance reporting deadline.

The biggest surprise among the segmented numbers was Sen. Cortez Masto’s poor standing within her own Democratic Party. Her base vote was only 60 percent among those respondents who describe themselves as “strong” Democrats. Her preference was just 50 percent within the cell calling themselves “regular” Democrats. Among Republicans, she was taking three percent from the “strong” Republicans and recorded 13 percent support among the regulars.

Laxalt’s partisan numbers were better. He was holding 78 percent of those calling themselves strong Republicans, but a lower 62 percent from the “regular red” voters. Among Democrats, he was performing slightly better than a typical GOP candidate. Within the strong Democratic cell, he scored 10 percent preference, but reached 20 percent from the regular Democrat segment.

The moderates, or those who V/Creek terms “purple,” may be the senator’s greatest concern. Within this important segment, Laxalt held a 40-29 percent advantage. The Cortez Masto partisan numbers among Democrats will eventually return to form meaning that the 2022 Senate race will likely transform into another typically close Nevada campaign: hence, the enhanced importance of where this “purple” group falls.

To gain the Senate majority in the next election, Republicans need additional targets especially with having so many more seats to defend (20R-14D in the 2022 cycle).

Democrats appear well positioned to convert Pennsylvania and hold the pair of 2020 special election winners who must run for a six-year term next year, Sens. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Raphael Warnock (D-GA). In addition to the New Hampshire race, particularly if Gov. Chris Sununu (R) challenges first-term Sen. Maggie Hassan (D), the Nevada contest may be the only other GOP conversion opportunity on their board.

The other two questions VCreek posed to the sample participants related to election fraud and the Senate filibuster. A total of 73 percent of the sampling universe rates election security as “very important.” Relating to the filibuster, which has attracted much attention in the previous months, 59 percent said they favor keeping the 60-vote cloture rule intact.

VCreek/AMG is graded a B/C survey research firm according to the FiveThirtyEight statistical organization’s 2021 pollster rankings. The group, headed by analyst Nate Silver, forecasts elections, and annually rates the polling community.

This year, the ranking survey totals 482 research entities from which VCreek/AMG ranks 378th. FiveThirtyEight categorizes V/Creek/AMG with a slight Democratic bias of 0.4. In the current 538 report, however, the ranking was based on a small number of VCreek surveys, meaning a larger sample would likely propel the firm to a higher rating.

Regardless of whether this VCreek/AMG poll is accurate or flawed, expect the Democrats to quickly counter with numbers showing Sen. Cortez Masto in much stronger re-election position. If Laxalt remains close, however, this race will quickly enter the competitive top tier.

Herschel Walker Jumps Into Race

By Jim Ellis

Herschel Walker (R), former University of Georgia and ex-NFL football star, filed to become a candidate in the 2022 Georgia Senate race.

Aug. 26, 2021 — Former University of Georgia and ex-NFL football star Herschel Walker (R), without any formal announcement, filed organizational papers Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission to form a US Senate committee. Earlier in the year, he relocated back to his native Georgia from Texas where he had been living since retiring from the Dallas Cowboys in 1997.

Filing the preliminary papers with the federal campaign agency does not make one an official candidate. The Georgia process won’t conclude until March 11, 2022, so ample time remains to make a final decision.

The move to recruit Walker as a candidate is not universally accepted in Republican circles. In fact, Red State political blog founder Erick Erickson tweeted the following statement: “I don’t know a single Republican operative who thinks Walker will lose the primary. I don’t know a single Republican operative who thinks Walker will win the general. There is a lot of frustration out there.”

Walker is clearly Donald Trump’s candidate, and with the former president’s active personal endorsement, the former football great will have a huge advantage over Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black in the Republican primary. Black is an announced candidate who has won three statewide races in Georgia. Walker obviously has high name identification in Georgia, much better than Black’s, and the combination of his football profile and Trump’s endorsement makes him the early favorite for the GOP nomination as Erickson predicts.

Furthermore, Walker is likely strong enough, especially with carrying the Trump endorsement, to scare away any other formidable Republican from entering the race. In fact, Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler/Savannah) long said he would run for the Senate but step aside if Herschel Walker were to become a candidate.

With the Senate tied 50-50 and freshman Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) forced to already run for a full six-year term after winning the special election in 2020, the Georgia race again becomes a national Senate campaign. It figures to be one of the closest elections, just as the regular and runoff contests were last year, thus it becomes a top race for both parties.

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A Pair of Flawed Polls Out Of
Florida and Pennsylvania

By Jim Ellis

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R)

Aug. 25, 2021 — We saw two polls released into the public domain covering major races from Florida and Pennsylvania, and both appear to have reliability failings.

In the Sunshine State, the Listener Group’s Political Matrix Poll (released Aug. 22; 1,000 likely Florida voters, interactive voice response system) finds Sen. Marco Rubio (R) leading Rep. Val Demings (D-Orlando), 55-45 percent. While the margin is reasonable and believable, the partisan segmentation is not.

In looking at Listener’s published crosstabs, the Democratic segment yields a 52.5 – 47.5 percent split in favor of Rubio. Among Republicans, the senator scores only a 58.1 – 41.9 percent result, again a bizarre count for an incumbent within his own party with no personal scandal at such an early time in the cycle. In an era of strict partisanship, these numbers are not fathomable. Therefore, the entire ballot test has a reliability risk.

To put the partisan numbers in perspective, as an example of a scandal-ridden politician’s standing within his own party, the Civiqs polling organization surveyed the New York Democratic electorate on a rolling track from Feb. 16 through this past Sunday (of 32,623 respondents participating at some point during the period) and found outgoing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s favorability at 47:36 percent positive to negative even while being forced to resign under the threat of impeachment.

Another flaw is the polling sample’s political persuasion division does not equate to Florida’s ratios. According to the July 31 voter registration report from the Florida Secretary of State’s office, Democrats have a partisan registration percentage of 36.0; Republicans’ 35.7; and Unaffiliateds’ 26.5. The Listener Group survey sample contained 45.0 percent Democrats, 43.8 percent Republicans, and 11.2 percent Unaffiliateds, far from the actual partisan share positions, and particularly so among those not belonging to one of the major political parties.

In Pennsylvania, the latest Franklin & Marshall College statewide survey was released (Aug. 9-15; 446 registered Pennsylvania voters, combination live interview and online). While the study provides a realistic picture as to where the voters are on issues of the day and favorability ratings on national and statewide figures, analyzing their ballot tests for the Republican and Democratic primaries for the state’s open US Senate race leaves something to be desired from a reliability standpoint.

The fundamental problem is that their sample sizes are much too low to accurately depict where these primary races stand.

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New Poll Again Shows Tight
Numbers in Georgia Senate Race

Georgia freshman Sen. Raphael Warnock (D)

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 11, 2021 — Late last week, Public Policy Polling released their new Georgia Senate findings (Aug. 4-5; 622 Georgia voters, interactive voice response system) and the results place the new Peach State Senate race in familiar territory: a virtual tie.

While PPP finds that freshman Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) leads three tested Republican potential nominees, former Sen. Kelly Loeffler, retired football star Herschel Walker, and three-term state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, only when paired against Black does Warnock’s edge extend beyond the polling margin of error. This early poll suggests what the conventional political wisdom already predicts, that the 2022 Senate race will again feature a close finish.

To reiterate, Sen. Warnock, though winning his seat only in 2020, must run for a full six-year term next year because he won the special election to fill the unexpired portion of former Sen. Johnny Isakson’s (R) final term. You will remember that Sen. Isakson resigned at the end of 2019 due to health reasons and Gov. Brian Kemp (R) appointed Loeffler to fill the seat until the special election was conducted.

The PPP results find Walker, who has yet to announce (and it’s still even unclear as to whether he will run), in the best position of the three tested potential candidates. In this poll, Sen. Warnock’s edge is 48-46 percent. Loeffler fares comparably with Walker, though slightly worse, trailing 44-47 percent. Commissioner Black, the only officially announced candidate of the group, falls behind by eight percentage points, 38-46 percent.

The favorability indexes provide further clues. Keeping in mind that almost everyone tends to skew negatively on the PPP favorability scores, the two benchmarks, President Biden and former President Trump, score 46:48 percent favorable to unfavorable and 43:48 percent, respectively. Sen. Warnock posts a 43:42 percent job approval score. Walker, obviously exclusively due to the personal recognition coming from both his college and professional football career, has the best result: 41:28 percent. Loeffler fares poorly: 28:47 percent, while Commissioner Black is an even split at 15:15 percent; still, that means 70 percent of the voters don’t have enough information about him to form an opinion.

These numbers provide us with several conclusions: first, Sen. Warnock has yet to establish himself beyond a partisan framework. The 85:8 percent score among Democrats carries his overall positive mark. He records a predictable 6:78 percent mark among Republicans, but perhaps most indicative, just 33:45 percent among those classifying themselves as political Independents.

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