Category Archives: Senate

Georgia Senate Races Unfold

(Sen. David Perdue Ad)

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 9, 2020 — We are over halfway into the Georgia US Senate runoff campaigns that will decide the national legislative body’s majority and it is clear that political prime time will determine the winners. Election Day is now less than a month away and the start of early voting begins next Monday, Dec. 14.

Setting the political table, the Republicans have a slight advantage coming from both Nov. 3 elections. GOP Sen. David Perdue (see ad above) placed ahead of Democrat Jon Ossoff (see ad below) by 88,098 votes but came up a quarter of a percentage point shy of obtaining the majority support necessary to win. In the 20-candidate field for the special election, when adding all of the Republican candidates and comparing that tabulation to the Democratic aggregate, we see the GOP holding a 47,808 vote edge.

(Jon Ossoff Ad)

The combined Georgia Senate runoff elections are sure to set a spending record once the campaigns end on January 5th. Already, according to the AdImpact marketing organization, as the Daily Kos Election site and Bloomberg Government reports, over $300 million has been spent since the beginning of these runoff campaigns.

(Raphael Warnock Ad)

A total of $170 million has been expended in the special election campaign, for example. Between the two candidates, Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock (see ad above) has outspent Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler (see ad below), $60 million to $45 million, but outside groups supporting the appointed incumbent have more than made up the difference, outlaying $53 million as compared to $13 million from left-of-center organizations.

(Sen. Kelly Loeffler Ad)

Democrats have run approximately 42,000 commercials as compared to the Republicans’ 33,500 during the runoff period even though the latter party and its allies have spent more. Because the right-of-center organizations have dominated the non-candidate spending, and the cost to run such ads is greater than for an individual candidate’s committee, the monetary imbalance is thus explained.

Polling predictably shows a close race with virtually every study finding all four contenders within the polling margin of error, as a listing of the latest post-November 3rd election surveys reveal:

Senate – A

Trafalgar Group (Dec. 1-3; 1,083 likely voters)

• Jon Ossoff (D) 48%
• Sen. David Perdue (R) 47%

Survey USA (Nov. 27-30; 583 likely voters)

• Jon Ossoff (D) 50%
• Sen. David Perdue (R) 48%

RMG Research (Nov. 19-24; 1,377 likely voters)

• Jon Ossoff (D) 48%
• Sen. David Perdue (R) 47%

Insider Advantage (Nov. 16; 800 likely voters)

• Jon Ossoff (D) 49%
• Sen. David Perdue (R) 49%

Remington Research Group (Nov. 8-9; 1,450 likely voters)

• Sen. David Perdue (R) 50%
• Jon Ossoff (D) 46%

Senate – B – Special Election

Trafalgar Group (Dec. 1-3; 1,083 likely voters)

• Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) 50%
• Raphael Warnock (D) 45%

Survey USA (Nov. 27-30; 583 likely voters)

• Raphael Warnock (D) 52%
• Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) 45%

RMG Research (Nov. 19-24; 1,377 likely voters)

• Raphael Warnock (D) 48%
• Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) 46%

Insider Advantage (Nov. 16; 800 likely voters)

• Raphael Warnock (D) 49%
• Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) 48%

V-Creek/AMG (Nov. 10; 300 likely voters)

• Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) 50%
• Raphael Warnock (D) 46%

Remington Research Group (Nov. 8-9; 1,450 likely voters)

• Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) 49%
• Raphael Warnock (D) 48%

The campaign messages are also well defined. Sen. Perdue continues to emphasize the national negative themes that appeared to work well for the GOP in the down ballot races: socialism, defunding the police, packing the US Supreme Court, raising taxes, and illegal immigrant voting.

Ossoff has been concentrating his ad messages on COVID and what he claims are Perdue and President Trump’s failures in handling the issue. His latest ad linked below features film of former President Barack Obama at a rally for the Democratic candidate, along with Ossoff’s wife, Dr. Alisha Kramer, who is a physician.

Turning to the special election, the Loeffler and Warnock campaigns have been trading attacks, counterattacks, and defensive messages.

Rev. Warnock hits Sen. Loeffler on her controversial stock transactions, while she responds with an aggressive hit about him being an extremist who calls the police “thugs” and once invited Fidel Castro to speak at a church where Rev. Warnock was an assistant pastor. Warnock responds with the linked ad that shows him walking his dog and disposes of the animal’s excrement in a reference to characterizing the Loeffler attacks.

In the end, the races will come down to which side can better deliver its base votes to the polls. Turnout will be robust but certainly well under the 4.952 million people who originally voted in the Perdue-Ossoff campaign, the larger turnout figure from the two Senate contests.

At this point, the races’ conclusion is uncertain, but Republicans should still have at least a slight advantage heading into early voting period and the election itself. Such a premise is based upon past voting history even in this politically changing state, and the original vote margins recorded on Nov. 3.

Attack of the Attack Ads

(Sen. Perdue Ad)

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 17, 2020 — All four Georgia Senate runoff candidates are already hitting the airwaves with new messages that telegraph just where they want their campaigns to head in the final weeks of 2020 political overtime.

As you know, Sen. David Perdue (R) faces Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff for the in-cycle six-year term, and appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) opposes Rev. Raphael Warnock (D) in the special election to fill the final two years of resigned Sen. Johnny Isakson’s (R) final term. Loeffler was appointed when Isakson left office at the end of 2019 for health reasons. Both contests will be decided on Jan. 5.

The outcome will decide the Senate majority. If the Democrats sweep the two races, they will become the majority party because the new vice president, Kamala Harris, will break the 50-50 tie. If Republicans just win one of the two, they will maintain their current majority status, albeit smaller, at 51-49. Winning the pair means the GOP will have only lost a net of one seat in the 2020 election cycle as their majority would register 52-48.

Sen. Perdue set the tone of his runoff effort with a new ad (top) that highlights Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) saying, “when we (meaning the Democrats) take Georgia, we will change America.” The Perdue ad defines “the Schumer-Pelosi-Ossoff” change as “defund[ing] the police, voting rights for illegal immigrants, and making Washington, DC the 51st state.” The message then quotes Ossoff as saying, “change is coming to America.” The ad closes with the narrator saying, “believe them. Vote Perdue to stop them.”

(Jon Ossoff Ad)

Ossoff responds with an ad (above) solely devoted to COVID-19. The media consultants found virtually identical COVID related statements from President Trump and Sen. Perdue, and then runs their audio consecutively in an attempt to tie the two together. The ad closes with the narrator saying that “David Perdue ignored the medical experts, downplayed the crisis, and left us unprepared.”

The special election is taking a much different tone. Challenger Raphael Warnock, the Baptist minister who pastors the church over which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his father once presided, Ebenezer Baptist in Atlanta, re-visits Sen. Loeffler’s controversial COVID related stock transactions and creates an ad around this subject (below).

(Raphael Warnock Ad)

The script says Sen. Loeffler, “after receiving confidential briefings on Coronavirus immediately starts dumping stocks …making sale after sale and getting rid of $3.1 million before the market crashed.” The tagline ends with the narrator saying, “Kelly is for Kelly. Warnock is for us.”

The ad, of course, makes no mention of Sen. Loeffler’s transactions being investigated and cleared by the Securities and Exchange Commission, but it is more than probable that we will be hearing that part of the story in future Loeffler campaign communications.

Sen. Loeffler launched a hard-hitting new attack centered around her theme, “saving the Senate is about saving America.” The ad attacks Rev. Warnock for “calling police thugs and gangsters, host[ing] a rally for Communist dictator Fidel Castro, and prais[ing] Marxism in speeches and writings.” (below)

(Sen. Loeffler Ad)

With the campaign battle lines being drawn early in this two-month runoff campaign, we can expect this type of hard-hitting rhetoric to continue all the way to the Jan. 5 election as both sides attempt to motivate their base voters to return for the runoff.

The last time we saw a US Senate runoff in Georgia – Georgia and Maine are the only two states that require general election winners receive majority support – occurred in 2008 when Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) was forced into a secondary vote. The circumstances were similar. Sen. Chambliss placed first in the general election but, like Sen. Perdue, finished just a few thousand votes under the 50 percent threshold (49.8 percent). This forced Chambliss and his opponent, Democrat Jim Martin who received 46.8 percent, into a Dec. 2 runoff election of that year.

Sen. Chambliss prevailed in the runoff with 57.4 percent of the vote. In that year, 3.752 million people voted in the general election with 2.138 million returned for the runoff election for a drop-off rate of 43 percent. In 2020, a total of 4,945,702 individuals cast a vote in the Perdue-Ossoff Senate race, while the figure was approximately 37,000 people lower for the special election, 4,907,872. While a drop-off from the 2020 general election is expected, political intensity suggests it will likely not be as high as we saw in the 2008 US Senate runoff campaign.

More Races Called in House & Senate

By Jim Ellis

North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis (R)

Nov. 11, 2020 — Though the North Carolina ballot reception period continues through tomorrow, Democratic US Senate nominee Cal Cunningham, after leading in polling throughout most of the race, conceded late yesterday to Sen. Thom Tillis (R).

The remaining votes are from people who requested absentee ballots that have yet to be returned. Estimates suggested approximately 116,500 could be returned but it became clear that not all of them would be sent. Each had to be postmarked on Nov. 3 and placed in the mail stream. With Sen. Tillis leading by exactly 95,000 votes and an estimated 30 percent of the absentee ballot requests going to Republican voters, it became obvious that there would not be enough available votes to turn the election Cunningham’s way.

The Tillis victory means that Republicans now control 49 Senate seats with only Alaska remaining until the two Georgia runoffs are held on Jan. 5. In Alaska, now with 69 percent of the vote reporting, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) leads Dr. Al Gross (I/D) by 52,995 votes or by a 58.5 – 36.4 percent margin. The Alaska ballot reception period lasts through Friday, so we should see this race being called shortly, and almost assuredly for GOP Sen. Sullivan.

In the House, we see several calls being made, some of which had been obvious for some time. Democratic Reps. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-1), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA-34), and Kim Schrier (D-WA-8), along with Republican Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA-42) and open seat contender Jay Obernolte (R-CA-8) were all declared official winners. All had been leading throughout the post-election period and it was just a matter of time before a declaration was made for each.

Two major competitive races were called yesterday. In California, where the post-election counting is moving along at a brisker pace than in the past, Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel (R) has defeated freshman Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Laguna Beach) in the 48th CD. The district, which contains most of the Orange County coastline and was in Republican hands for 30 years in the person of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R) before Rouda won the seat in 2018, returns to the GOP.

Continue reading

Outstanding Races Update

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 9, 2020 — A few races were called over the weekend, while political overtime drags on for others.

Alaska senate race still undecided between physician and commercial fisherman, Democrat Al Gross (left), and first-term Republican incumbent Dan Sullivan.

The uncalled Senate races will likely remain in their current position throughout this week. Currently, Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) holds a big lead over physician Al Gross (I/D), 62.3 – 32.1 percent, with a vote margin of 57,616. Despite the large spread, the race is not called because only 58 percent of the vote is reporting. The Alaska cut-off date for receiving ballots postmarked Nov. 3 is this Friday, Nov. 13. Therefore, it is presumed that we will not have a final declaration until the weekend at the earliest.

The North Carolina situation remains frozen. Sen. Thom Tillis (R) holds a 95,739-vote lead with all counted but those ballots that could come in through Nov. 12. It appears the universe of requested ballots not yet returned could only be a maximum of approximately 116,500. The ballots must now be in the mail stream as they would have to have been postmarked on Nov. 3. Mathematics suggest a Tillis victory will occur, but such a declaration is not yet official.

As we know, both Georgia Senate races will advance to their respective runoff elections on Jan. 5. The political battles feature Republican Sen. David Perdue (49.7 of requested ballots not yet returned) and Democrat Jon Ossoff (47.9 percent). The special election features Democratic Rev. Raphael Warnock (32.9 percent) and appointed Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler (25.9 percent).

The House races are not fully complete, as 24 contests remain in abeyance. At this point, Republicans have gained a net five seats among the 411 campaigns that have been decided. Of the remaining 24, the GOP candidates lead in 18, but many will likely flip back toward the Democrat as counting concludes. In the end, it is likely that the Republicans will gain between seven and nine seats, meaning they will hold 208 to 210 House seats as compared with 227 to 225 for the Democrats.

In the past few days, the following races have been declared and the winners are listed below:

AZ-6: Rep. David Schweikert (R)
CA-50: Darrell Issa (R) – Open Seat – Republican hold
GA-7: Carolyn Bourdeaux (D) – Open Seat – Democratic gain
IN-5: Victoria Spartz (R) – Open Seat – Republican hold
MI-3: Peter Meijer (R) – Open Seat – Republican gain
MI-8: Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D)
MI-11: Rep. Haley Stevens (D)
MN-1: Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R)
MN-2: Rep. Angie Craig (D)
NV-3: Rep. Susie Lee (D)
NV-4: Rep. Steven Horsford (D)
NJ-2: Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R)
NY-4: Rep. Kathleen Rice (D)
PA-7: Rep. Susan Wild (D)
PA-8: Rep. Matt Cartwright (D)
PA-10: Rep. Scott Perry (R)
PA-17: Rep. Conor Lamb (D)
WA-3: Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R)

The remaining races are still undecided:
Continue reading

The Importance of the Jan. 5
Georgia Runoff Elections

By Jim Ellis

Georgia Sen. David Perdue (R)

Nov. 6, 2020 — With results changing as votes are continually being counted for the close Georgia presidential and senatorial races, it appears that we will see two Jan. 5 US Senate runoff elections in the Peach State, which will ultimately decide the body’s next majority.

At this writing, with an approximate 98 percent of votes counted, Sen. David Perdue (R), who will finish first, is 6,810 votes short of the majority mark. Georgia is one of two states where a candidate must receive 50 percent of the general election vote to win. The presence of Independent Shane Hazel capturing 2.3 percent helps deny Sen. Perdue a majority victory; hence, a second election is necessitated under Georgia election law.

Assuming that Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) wins his Alaska race – he’s ahead 62-32 percent with 50% of the vote reported – and incumbent Thom Tillis is officially re-elected in North Carolina, the Republicans will have 50 guaranteed members.

At this point, according to North Carolina officials, a number between 116-117,000 is the total universe of potential uncounted votes. This is the number of absentee ballots that were sent to voters who requested them but have yet to be returned. The only way they will be counted is if they entered the mail stream by Nov. 3 and are received before close of business on Nov. 12. Additionally, within this universe, Republican voters requested approximately one-third of the ballots.

With Sen. Tillis ahead by 96,688 votes according to the Fox News count, the mathematics suggest the Democrats have almost no chance of overcoming the lead especially when further considering that a significant percentage of those voters won’t even return the ballots.

To underscore the Democrats’ North Carolina dilemma, party nominee Cal Cunningham would have to receive 96,689 votes of this universe of just over 116,500 individuals, or 83 percent of the aggregate if everyone returns their ballots. If only 83 percent of those requesting the ballots have already mailed them to their respective county election center, for example, Cunningham would literally need to receive every vote. Therefore, this Senate race is a virtual lock for Sen. Tillis and the GOP.

Continue reading