Category Archives: Senate

Texas Race Forming

By Jim Ellis

Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R)

April 25, 2019 — Three-term Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R) is obviously anticipating a tough 2020 fight for re-election. During this year’s first quarter, he led all incumbents in fundraising bringing in $7.8 million to his campaign account and ending the period with $7.4 million cash-on-hand.

It appears the senator will have credible opposition, but quite possibly not the person who most people believed would enter the race.

Though he still hasn’t confirmed or denied that he will become a Senate candidate, reading the figurative political tea leaves suggests that Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) will not run statewide. But, retired Army helicopter pilot, M.J. Hegar (D), will challenge the veteran incumbent who was Texas’ attorney general and a state Supreme Court Justice before running for federal office.

Hegar, who raised more than $5.12 million for her race against veteran Rep. John Carter (R-Round Rock), to whom she lost, announced Tuesday that she is entering the Texas Senate campaign. Though her 2018 announcement video entitled “Doors” (below) — which detailed her wartime heroism and attracted more than 3 million viewers — didn’t result in victory in a strong Republican district against a popular incumbent (she lost 51-48 percent), it did put her on the national political map and raised her status to that of a national congressional candidate and led to her strong fundraising effort.


M.J. Hegar’s “Door” video


Earlier in the year, Rep. Castro began making statements strongly hinting that he would run for the Senate. But, his actions and the latest developments suggest otherwise.

First, there appears to be no internal momentum associated with his building a major campaign. Leading to that conclusion is Castro’s own first quarter fundraising support. From Jan. 1 through March 31, the four-term incumbent and former Texas state representative raised only $36,028 and has just $87,572 in his campaign treasury.
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A Momentum Poll For the Democrats

By Jim Ellis

April 23, 2019 — A new poll was released at week’s end last week, and it may be our best glimpse of the national Democratic presidential picture. As we know, the national count matters little in how the individual states will select delegates, but this polling category does provide a sound measurement of candidate momentum.

Change Research (April 12-15; 2,519 likely Democratic primary voters) just returned results from their latest field poll. Though the 538 statistical research organization only rates Change Research as a C+ pollster, the large respondent universe of just over 2,500 participants certainly gives us the largest national sample sector producing data. Contrast this, for example, with Emerson College’s national primary poll released last week that segmented only 356 respondents.

The Change results find Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) pulling into a virtual tie with former Vice President Joe Biden. Looking at the numbers, Sen. Sanders polls 20 percent, just one point behind Biden’s 21 percent.

Jumping all the way to third place is South Bend (IN) Mayor Pete Buttigieg with a healthy 17 percent support factor. Dropping back into single-digits (nine percent) is former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX). Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren records her typical eight percent, within the tight range she finds in most surveys, which, in this case, is one point ahead of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA). The latter senator’s seven percent also represents a considerable support drop, as much as 50 percent when compared to early surveys.

Change also surveyed the field without Biden included. Under this scenario, Sen. Sanders pulls just over a quarter of the sampling universe at 26 percent with Mayor Buttigieg moving into a strong second place with 21 percent, and O’Rourke rebounding to secure 14 percent and third place. Sens. Harris and Warren tie for fourth place with 10 percent.

From a momentum perspective, the Change poll provides further evidence that Sen. Sanders is clearly on the upswing, Biden has stalled just before what is expected to be his official announcement week, Buttigieg is the candidate leaping forward from the back, Harris and O’Rourke appear to be losing support, and Warren remains stagnant at a low level.

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New Senate $ Figures

By Jim Ellis

April 18, 2019 — The first of eight quarters comprising the 2020 election cycle is now complete and, with that, most of the first Senate financial disclosure reports have been published. Below are the latest available cash-on-hand figures for the 31 in-cycle senators who are seeking re-election.

As you can see, the overwhelming number of incumbents are in strong financial position with Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R) having more in the bank than anyone. He will need a large war chest because Texas is such an expensive state.

In 2018, Beto O’Rourke, who was challenging Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) before declaring his presidential candidacy, raised over $80 million — some $34 million more than his incumbent opponent. Combined, the two banked over $125 million, not counting substantial independent expenditures that helped both men.

Not surprisingly, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) raised more money than anyone else in the first three months of 2019 — some $7.991 million, exceeding Sen. Cornyn but by just over $200,000.

The low-end senator is rather surprising, since she is again likely headed for a competitive campaign. Posting numbers that would even be low for a US House race, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) raised only $232,239 for the quarter and has just $218,703 in the bank.

The senator is again expected to face former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi congressman, Mike Espy (D). The two battled each other in the 2018 special election, with Sen. Hyde-Smith prevailing 54-46 percent in the Nov. 27 run-off. Hyde-Smith was appointed to fill the balance of Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R) final term. Cochran resigned his seat due to health reasons.

All of the following figures are current through March 31, 2019, with the exception of four senators: Cory Booker (NJ), Mike Rounds (SD), Ben Sasse (NE), and Tina Smith (MN). It is probable all reports were filed, but the Federal Election Commission has not yet published their numbers. Sen. Booker’s 1st-quarter fundraising is for his presidential effort, which is unofficially reported to exceed $5 million.

Below are the financial numbers from the highest
cash-on-hand senator to the lowest:

 
STATE
 
INCUMBENT
CASH-ON-HAND
(MARCH 31, 2019)
TEXAS John Cornyn (R) $7,407,942
KENTUCKY Mitch McConnell (R) $5,569,222
SOUTH CAROLINA Lindsey Graham (R) $4,619,235
VIRGINIA Mark Warner (D) $4,155,337
MAINE Susan Collins (R) $3,807,811
MASSACHUSETTS Ed Markey (D) $3,536,133
LOUISIANA Bill Cassidy (R) $3,448,675
COLORADO Cory Gardner (R) $3,414,5
GEORGIA David Perdue (R) $3,282,091
ALABMA Doug Jones (D) $3,094,916
MICHIGAN Gary Peters (D) $3,056,598
NORTH CAROLINA Thom Tillis (R) $2,920,475
ARKANSAS Tom Cotton (R) $2,831,908
IOWA Joni Ernst (R) $2,815,962
MONTANA Steve Daines (R) $2,547,795
ILLINOIS Dick Durbin (D) $2,433,345
ARIZONA Martha McSally (R) $2,108,915
ALASKA Dan Sullivan (R) $2,042,051
OREGON Jeff Merkley (D) $1,902,741
RHODE ISLAND Jack Reed (D) $1,803,356
NEW HAMPSHIRE Jeanne Shaheen (D) $1,521,776
NEBRASKA Ben Sasse (R) $1,361,057*
NEW JERSEY Cory Booker (D) $1,340,448*
WEST VIRGINIA Shelley M. Capito (R) $1,201,127
IDAHO Jim Risch (R) $1,157,171
DELAWARE Chris Coons (D) $1,063,646
OKLAHOMA Jim Inhofe (R) $887,344
WYOMING Mike Enzi (R) $544,216
SOUTH DAKOTA Mike Rounds (R) $511,538*
MINNESOTA Tina Smith (D) $433,782*
MISSISSIPPI Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) $218,703

*1st Quarter figures not yet published; numbers are through Dec. 31, 2018 for Booker, Rounds, Sasse, T. Smith

Judge Moore Leads Again in Alabama

By Jim Ellis

Are we about to see the return of Judge Roy Moore in the 2020 Alabama Senate race?

April 17, 2019 — Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy just surveyed the Alabama electorate (April 9-11; 625 registered Alabama voters), testing Sen. Doug Jones’ (D) pre-campaign political strength and the fledgling potential Republican candidate field.

The Alabama Senate race may be the most important in the 2020 cycle. If the majority Republicans unseat Sen. Jones, who was the beneficiary of former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore imploding in the 2017 special election to replace Sen. Jeff Sessions (R), they will increase their chamber advantage to 54-46 at a time when the party has to defend 10 more seats than their Democratic counterparts. If they fail to convert and Sen. Jones is re-elected, the Democrats will exponentially increase their odds of re-capturing Senate control.

Though the M-D poll did not pair Sen. Jones with potential Republican nominees, they do provide us some important information. On the question of whether Sen. Jones deserves to be re-elected, a majority response of 50 percent say he should be replaced. Conversely, 40 percent believes he should be re-elected.

The senator’s job approval ratio is virtually dead even, with 45 percent of the respondents providing positive comments about how he is performing in Washington versus 44 percent who believe he is not performing well. Jones is viewed positively in the Birmingham metro area (48:41 percent), and very positively in the Montgomery region (71:21 percent). In all other Alabama geographic sectors, he is perceived negatively with his worst numbers coming in eastern Alabama where the ratio drops to 35:53 percent.

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Swalwell In; Sanders Up in Bay State

By Jim Ellis

California Rep. Eric Swalwell (D)

April 10, 2019 — California Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin/Hayward), who for many months has been indicating that he would run for president, finally announced his intentions Tuesday and becomes the 18th Democratic candidate.

Swalwell, who will likely be a minor candidate throughout the process, has said he will not run for both president and the US House simultaneously. Therefore, expect him to depart the presidential race well in advance of the California congressional candidate filing deadline on Dec. 6.

The Golden State will now hold its presidential and state primary on March 3, since the legislature and governor changed the schedule in order to provide them more influence in the presidential nomination process. But Swalwell will have to decide well in advance of the first national votes being cast as to whether he wants to relinquish a safe US House seat in order to continue in what will likely be a long shot presidential effort with little realistic hope of success.

Emerson College released a new Massachusetts poll (April 4-7; 371 likely Democratic Massachusetts primary voters) that projects Sen. Bernie Sanders overtaking former Vice President Joe Biden and finding home state Sen. Elizabeth Warren running a distant third.

According to the Emerson results, Sen. Sanders leads 26-23-14-11 percent over ex-VP Biden, Sen. Warren, and South Bend (IN) Mayor Pete Buttigieg. All others, including Texas former congressman, Beto O’Rourke, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), record only single-digit support.

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