Category Archives: Senate

2022 Senate Outlook

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 13, 2021 — Now that we know Democrats will have a bare 50-50 majority with the vice president breaking the tie, it’s an appropriate time to look ahead to the next election in order to see which party might have the initial advantage.

In an ironic bad news/good news scenario for Republicans, because the party lost the Georgia runoff elections and their majority, the GOP now has further winnable 2022 targets in order to attempt to regain the chamber advantage.

In the new election cycle, a total of 34 Senate seats will be on the ballot. Adding the 2020 final results, we see that 20 Republicans will be defending theirs seats in 2022 as compared with 14 Democrats. The ’22 cycle also includes two reruns from 2020 as both Sens. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Raphael Warnock (D-GA), winners of special elections, will again be on the ballot in order to secure respective six-year terms.

Reviewing political voting trends for the past six years in each of these states reveals that now the Democrats actually have more senators seeking re-election (4-3) than Republicans where the four-year major statewide vote average is under 50 percent.

Averaging five data points: the partisan vote percent from the individual senator’s most recent election, the two presidential campaigns (2020 and 2016), the state’s other Senate election, and the most recent gubernatorial vote provides us a partisan mean average vote from the immediate past four-year period.

Doing so finds that Democratic Sens. Mark Kelly (AZ), Maggie Hassan (NH), Catherine Cortez Masto (NV), and Raphael Warnock (GA) see their party’s cumulative four-year average dropping under 50 percent.

Republicans have three such Senate situations. Sens. Pat Toomey (PA), Ron Johnson (WI), and Richard Burr (NC) all represent states where their party’s average vote total drops under the majority mark for the tested period. Already, Sens. Toomey and Burr have announced they will not seek re-election, leaving at least two of the Republicans’ three most vulnerable seats in an open situation.

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Definitive Georgia Data

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 12, 2021 — Now that the 159 county returns have been published for the Georgia Senate runoffs and a third more obscure statewide Public Service Commission race, we can see just why the Democrats won the two Senate contests.

The fact that Republican Public Service Commissioner Lauren McDonald was re-elected with the same type of vote margin that saw both Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock win allows us to see just where the federal Republican statewide vote was deficient.

As we know, all of these contests were extremely tight. Rev. Warnock had the strongest victory margin among the three, but even his was only 51-49 percent. The final Ossoff victory spread was 50.6 – 49.4 percent, and McDonald, the lone Republican victor, won in the same percentage neighborhood, 50.4 – 49.6 percent.

Obviously, there is little difference among these races and, as we covered previously, the county returns throughout the state show a strong similarity in the Senate totals, thus proving the voters perceived the candidates as being a team. McDonald’s victory, however, does show at least some ticket-splitting tendency was present as enough voters returned to the Republican column to allow him to win re-election.

The drop-off turnout percentage from the general election to these Senate runoffs is the lowest in Georgia political history. The final runoff participation figure recorded a high of 4,474,447 voters, or 90.3 percent of the number voting in the regular Senate elections. Typically, secondary election turnout drops by about one-third. With so much on the line in these runoffs, however, the voters responded in kind.

The key to the election, however, appears to be the percentage turnout in the counties. Democrats maximized their strength to a greater degree, which proved to be the key difference in the Senate runoff outcomes.

Across the board, McDonald ran ahead of the Senate Republicans in virtually every county, but generally only exceeded the other two statewide GOP candidates by less than a percentage point. This slight increased vote spread, however, was enough to turn close losses into a tight victory for the GOP state official.

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The Democrats Take Georgia

By Jim Ellis

Documentary filmmaker Jon Ossoff (D), left, is poised to defeat incumbent Sen. David Perdue (R) in the Georgia runoff elections. Rev. Raphael Warnock (D) is projected as winner over appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R).

Jan. 6, 2021 — In a rather surprising finish, it appears the Democrats will win both of yesterday’s Georgia runoff races and clinch a 50-50 majority in the US Senate (with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote).

Rev. Raphael Warnock (D) has been projected a 50.6 percent winner over appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) to claim the special election, while documentary filmmaker Jon Ossoff (D) is poised to defeat incumbent Sen. David Perdue (R).

The races are extremely close, as correctly predicted in polling. Rev. Warnock’s margin is currently 53,430 votes from a current turnout of 4,401,162 votes with a projected 98 percent of the vote reporting. The Ossoff spread is even closer. He leads Sen. Perdue by 16,370 votes of 4,401,064 cast ballots, a margin of 50.2 – 49.8 percent. The latter race has not been declared, but it is clear, when looking at where the outstanding ballots remain, that Ossoff will increase his percentage.

The runoff campaigns, made necessary under Georgia election law that requires majority support to win office, came down to a turnout battle within the evenly split state. Democrats did just slightly better than Republicans in getting their votes to the polls, and that made the final difference.

It is likely that the African American vote that appears key. In the early voting trends, black voter participation comprised an estimated 32.6 percent of the voting populace in the runoffs versus 29.8 percent in the regular election. Clearly, this increase was enough to change the outcome of both campaigns. In the regular election, Sen. Perdue missed winning outright by just one-quarter of a percentage point, and the entire Republican special election field outpolled the entire Democratic candidate group by just over 47,000 votes.

We clearly have a record voter turnout for this Georgia runoff election. In the past, these types of contests have produced drop-off rates of approximately one-third of the number of people who voted in the regular election. In this 2020 runoff, understanding that the numbers will increase by approximately 90,000 more votes when all ballots are processed and counted, the turnout will likely reach in the neighborhood of 90 percent of the total number of people who voted on Nov. 3.

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Georgia Runoffs Underway Today

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 5, 2021 — At long last, the 2020 US Senate election cycle will end today, and the determination of which party will hold the chamber’s majority for the next two years will likely become known late tonight.

To recap, Sen. David Perdue (R) and documentary filmmaker Jon Ossoff (D) battle for the in-cycle seat with the winner being awarded a six-year term. The special election winner, the race between appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) and Rev. Raphael Warnock (D), will serve the final two years of the term that resigned Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) won back in 2016. The seat will be in-cycle for the full six-year term in 2022.

The 2020 regular election outcome, current polling, and the early/mail voting count all suggest very close results to unfold this evening.

To re-cap:

2020 Regular Election Tallies – Nov 3, 2020

Seat A
Sen. David Perdue (R) 2,462,617 49.73%
Jon Ossoff (D) 2,374,519 47.95%
Shane Hazel (Lib) 115,039 2.32%
Total Cast 4,952,175
Seat B
Raphael Warnock (D) 1,617,035 32.90%
Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) 1,273,214 25.91%
18 Others (D/R/I) 2,024,112 41.19%
Total Votes
Total R Vote 2,426,120 49.37%
Total D Vote 2,377,712 48.38%
Total I Vote 110,529 2.25%
Total Cast 4,914,361

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Outstanding Races: A Look-In

(Jon Ossoff – “Selma”)

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 22, 2020 — The Georgia Senate runoff campaigns continue to see brisk pre-election voting participation and huge amounts of money being spent, while one of the candidates appears to be fundamentally changing his message strategy. In the two contested House races, the NY-22 result remains undecided, while questions are being raised around the IA-2 situation with regard to seating the state certified winner on Jan. 3.

The Georgia races, heading into Christmas week, feature political surveys finding both campaigns, those of Sen. David Perdue (R) against Jon Ossoff (D) and Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) paired with Rev. Raphael Warnock (D) in their special election battle, falling within the polling margin of error.

The Target Smart statistical organization reveals that Democrats are slightly leading Republicans in pre-election ballots returned (47.0 – 46.7 percent, respectively within the universe of returned ballots), a difference between the two parties of just 4,025 ballots. Over 1.329 million votes have been received through the end of last week, which is only 241,088 under the number of early and mail votes recorded in the 2020 regular election.

During the regular election, the Democrats led the early and mail voting participation with 748,741 ballots (47.7 percent of the total return) compared to the GOP’s total of 719,515 (45.8 percent). The unaffiliated sector returned 102,635 ballots in the regular election. So far in the runoff cycle, 82,756 unaffiliated individuals have either voted early or mailed their ballots.

During the week, Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff changed his media strategy. Prior to this period, the Ossoff campaign had been concentrating on COVID as their key issue driver, but now appear to be concerned about African American voter turnout. With the pre-election numbers being slightly down for Democrats as described above, the change in Ossoff strategy suggests that the campaign strategists do not feel the black vote numbers are where they need to be to clinch a victory on Jan. 5.

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Coasting on Trump’s Coattails?

By Jim Ellis

President Trump

Dec. 11, 2020 — When examining 21st century electoral behavior, in an overwhelming number of states, we find that voters are choosing the US Senate contender of the party whose presidential candidate carries their particular electorate, and the 2020 vote is mostly no exception to such a premise. This pattern allows the various presidential nominees to develop political coattails and potentially bring in additional members of his party to both the Senate and House.

In November, the only state where voters swayed from that pattern was Maine, where Pine Tree State voters broke 52-43 percent in favor of Democrat Joe Biden at the top of the ticket but returned to the Republican column to re-elect Sen. Susan Collins by a 50-42 percent margin. And, as we will see when examining the data below, in the 2020 presidential race the coattail margin was not as determinative as it has been in other such campaigns during the past 20 years.

Though not legal victories in the sense that the first-place finisher did not obtain the office sought, the two Georgia Senate elections did yield Republican “wins,” if you will, since the GOP candidates finished ahead of their Democratic counterparts in a state that President Trump failed to carry.

Remember that all of the Georgia races finished with razor-thin margins, so the pattern is not particularly definable. While President Trump was losing to Biden by just 12,670 votes of 4.998-plus million ballots cast, Sen. David Perdue (R) outpaced Democrat Jon Ossoff with an 88,098-vote spread, and the aggregate special election Senate Republican vote total was 47,808 higher than the combined Democratic sum.

The patterns of how the Senate Republican candidates fared with President Trump leading the ticket are interesting in that they don’t yield a consistent flow. In the 35 Senate races from 34 states where such elections were conducted, President Trump carried 19 of the states hosting Senate races as compared to 15 for Mr. Biden. Simultaneously, Republican candidates placed first in 22 of the 35 Senate races.

In 10 of the states hosting a Senate race where President Trump won, the Republican Senate candidate, though winning in all 10 of those instances, ran behind the top of the ticket by an average of 2.2 percent. Conversely, however, in nine other states that President Trump won, he fell behind the GOP Senate candidate by an average of 2.8 percent.

Turning to the 16 states hosting Senate elections that Joe Biden carried (counting Georgia twice because of their two Senate campaigns), President Trump ran ahead of the losing Republican Senate candidate in nine states by an average percentage factor of 1.9, while he ran behind the losing Republican in four, and then behind the winning — or first-place — Republican in three more. In these latter situations, the deficit margin was 1.8 percent.

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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.