Category Archives: Senate

Florida Polling: Inconsistent Results

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 23, 2018 — Four statewide Florida polls were just released, and we continue to see conflicting results across the board two weeks prior to Election Day. As usual, the Sunshine State political situation appears too close to call from a place that seems to specialize in razor-thin elections.

Left: Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D) | Right: Gov. Rick Scott (R)

Left: Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D) | Right: Gov. Rick Scott (R)

During the period of Oct. 17-21, St. Pete Polls, Survey USA, Quinnipiac University, and the Democratic polling firm of Schroth, Eldon & Associates all conducted Florida surveys.

In the Senate race, two of the surveys find incumbent Bill Nelson (D) putting some distance between he and his opponent, Gov. Rick Scott (R), while the other two project to give Scott a slight edge. In the governor’s race, three of these firms released numbers (Quinnipiac did not, but will likely do so today), and Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor, holds a varying lead over former US Rep. Ron DeSantis (R).

There is quite a difference in the Senate margins, and this is largely due to how the female vote is being recorded. Both Survey USA (Oct. 18-21; 1,050 Florida adults, 859 registered Florida voters, 665 likely Florida voters) and Quinnipiac (Oct. 17-21; 1,161 registered Florida voters) find Sen. Nelson holding full-sample leads beyond the polling margin of error, 49-41 percent (S-USA) and 52-46 percent (Quinnipiac). They see females breaking for Nelson, 49-37 percent (S-USA) and 59-39 percent (Quinnipiac). Men are going the opposite way, favoring Scott, 49-46 percent (S-USA) and 54-44 percent (Quinnipiac).

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Surprising Q3 Financial Disclosures

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 19, 2018 — The third quarter financial disclosure reports are now public, and more details are readily available. Thus, we are able to learn about various record-setting fundraising efforts.

FEC-moneyIn addition to Texas US Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke (D) attracting $38 million in the third quarter, an all-time record for any such campaign, several House candidates also reported financial numbers that have never been seen for district-level politics.

In the third quarter of 2018, nine House contenders exceeded raising $3 million, eight Democrats and one Republican.

In California’s 22nd District, incumbent Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was the top Republican fundraiser and appears to have accumulated more financial resources for the entire campaign than any other congressional candidate of either party. In the quarter, Rep. Nunes raised $3.14 million. For the campaign, he has exceeded the $10.5 million mark.

But his Democratic opponent, attorney Andrew Janz, brought in over $4 million for the quarter, the only congressional candidate in the US to do so, and an all-time record for a quarter. He still trails Rep. Nunes in overall receipts (Janz posted $7.13 million for the campaign), however. Together, this campaign leads the nation in combined fundraising with over $17 million. For a regular cycle congressional campaign – not including the special elections we saw earlier that became national contests – this, too, is likely an all-time record for a House contest.

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Feinstein Still Weak; Gas Tax Polling

By Jim Ellis

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)

Oct. 18, 2018 — Survey USA released a poll of the California electorate, one more political study that finds Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) failing to establish command in her race against fellow Democrat Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles state senator.

The S-USA data (Oct. 12-14; 1,200 California adults; 964 registered California voters; 762 likely California voters) sees Feinstein again locked at 40 percent support versus 26 percent for de Leon. This is the sixth survey from four different pollsters that finds the Senator in the mid to low 40s since the June 5th jungle primary. But de Leon fares much worse, failing to break 30 percent in any of the half-dozen ballot test questions.

While all of the research suggests that Sen. Feinstein is politically weak, she will not lose this race. Though she brought in only $982,000 for the third quarter — a low number when campaigning in a state the size of California and understanding that many Democratic House candidates have brought in millions during the same period — de Leon raised just $254,000 and has a mere $309,000 cash-on-hand for the period ending Sept. 30. This is a low figure for a congressional race, let alone for a place that’s 53 times as large as a single CD.

California Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles)

California Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles)

The other feature potentially making the California Senate race a wild-card contest is the vote drop-off that we will see when comparing turnout for this office to the rest of the statewide ballot.

In 2016, when two Democrats were competing for an open Senate seat — the now-Sen. Kamala Harris vs. then-Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) — fewer votes were cast for that contest than in any other statewide election, including all of the ballot propositions. In fact, over 1.9 million more people voted in the presidential race than in the Senate race, and 1.3 million more chose to decide the last ballot initiative that banned single-use plastic bottles.

What occurred was a plethora of Republican voters simply skipping the Senate race rather than supporting one of the two Democrats. With de Leon running to the ideological left of Feinstein the Republican vote will likely drop even further, which becomes an interesting factor.

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The Nevada Sway

By Jim Ellis

Nevada-mapOct. 17, 2018 — A new Emerson College poll (Oct. 10-12; 625 likely Nevada voters) projects Sen. Dean Heller (R) to a 48-41 percent lead over freshman Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson), which is the largest lead for either candidate since the June 12th primary.

For most of the election cycle, this race has been rated as a toss-up campaign, but most prognosticators believed it would eventually tilt toward the Democrats yielding a challenger victory.

Viewed as a state trending Democratic because of Hillary Clinton’s 48-45 percent victory in the most recent presidential campaign added to President Obama winning here in both of his elections: 52-46 percent over Mitt Romney, and in a 55-43 percent landslide over John McCain, the 2014 Republican sweep from the governor’s race through the state legislative campaigns has generally been disregarded as an anomaly.

Outgoing Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) has strong approval ratings and would clearly be a re-election favorite if the state did not have a term limit law. The governor is playing an interesting role in this year’s campaign. He is featured prominently in Sen. Heller’s advertising but refuses to endorse Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R) as his successor because the latter man refuses to support the Sandoval tax program, which is becoming the governor’s legacy as Nevada’s chief executive.

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A Polling Dichotomy in Wisconsin

By Jim Ellis

Superintendent of public instruction, Tony Evers (D), left, and Gov. Scott Walker (R)

Superintendent of public instruction, Tony Evers (D), left, and Gov. Scott Walker (R)

Sept. 15, 2018 — Two succeeding polls were just released with one showing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) barely leading in his fight for a third term, while another predicts he will be blown out. Yet, the two seemingly contradictory polls both find an almost identical Senate race status.

NBC News/Marist College went into the field during the period of Sept. 30-Oct. 3 (943 Wisconsin adults; 781 registered Wisconsin voters; 571 likely voters) and found Democratic superintendent of public instruction, Tony Evers, leading Gov. Walker by a whopping 53-43 pecent among the likeliest of voters (52-43 percent within the registered voter segment). But, Marquette University Law School, a prolific Wisconsin pollster since the 2012 election cycle, actually finds the governor clinging to a one-point, 47-46 percent edge in their just-released survey (Oct. 3-7; 1,000 registered Wisconsin voters; 799 likely voters).

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D), left, and state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield)

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D), left, and state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield)

While the two pollsters are far apart in how they see the governor’s race, they are very consistent in projecting the US Senate contest between first-term incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) and state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield). NBC/Marist gives Sen. Baldwin a 54-40 percent advantage within their likely voters cell, while Marquette finds a similar 53-42 percent spread.

A simple explanation suggests that the governor’s race is quite volatile while the Senate campaign is virtually decided. The two polls were run consecutively with NBC/Marist ending on Oct. 3 and Marquette beginning on that day. Obviously, this means the Marquette data is the most recent.

The Marquette sampling universe looks to be the stronger, as both the registered and likely voter cells are larger than NBC/Marist’s. Additionally, since Marquette exclusively polls the Wisconsin electorate and does so on what appears to be a quarterly basis but more frequently when closer to an election, their knowledge of the voter base is likely superior to NBC/Marist, which is a national pollster. Therefore, the greater local knowledge likely provides them a superior ability to better pull a reflective sample.

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