Category Archives: Voting Rights

Alaska’s Palin in Trouble?
Florida Redistricting Map Tossed

By Jim Ellis
May 13, 2022

House

Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate, now running for US House Representative

AK-AL: Palin Begins Special with Slight Lead, but May Not Prevail — The Alaska Survey Research firm, headed by longtime local pollster Ivan Moore, released their new special election US House study featuring 48 candidates. The survey (May 6-9; 605 AK-AL likely special election voters; online) finds former governor and 2008 vice presidential Republican nominee Sarah Palin leading the huge field with 19 percent, followed closely by officially endorsed Republican Party candidate Nick Begich III at 16 percent, with Independent and former 2020 Democratic US Senate nominee Al Gross and North Pole City Councilman Santa Claus (the former Thomas O’Connor) capturing the third and fourth qualifying positions with 13 and six percent, respectively.

Under the new Alaska election law, the top four finishers from the jungle primary, in this case scheduled for June 11, will advance to the Aug. 16 special general election. If no one receives majority support among the finishing four in the succeeding vote, the Ranked Choice Voting System takes effect. It is here where Palin may find trouble. Under this configuration, ASR projects that Claus would be first eliminated, then Palin in the next round. A Begich-Gross final round would favor Begich at 53-47 percent.

Nick Begich III is the grandson of former US Rep. Nick Begich (D), who died in a plane crash before the 1972 election. His uncle is former US Sen. Mark Begich (D). Nick Begich, III, however, is a Republican. ASR tested four different iterations with four separate fourth-place contenders, and in each scenario Begich ultimately wins the seat.

NE-2: Dem Group Poll Shows Rep. Bacon Trailing — Democratic pollster Change Research, polling for the left of center 314 Action group (May 6-10; 564 NE-2 general election voters of whom 94 percent say are definite or probable voters; online) finds Omaha Democratic state Sen. Tony Vargas leading US Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillion/Omaha), 42-39 percent, in a survey conducted just before the Nebraska primary.

The poll skews slightly left, meaning that the race is likely no worse then being tied from Rep. Bacon’s perspective. Approximately 25,000 more people voted in the NE-2 Republican primary than Democratic suggesting the enthusiasm level favors the GOP. The seat became three points more Republican in redistricting. Despite this particular poll result, Rep. Bacon is still favored for re-election.

Redistricting

Florida: Congressional Map Tossed — A Florida state judge, whom Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) appointed, disqualified the new Florida congressional map, ruling that the elimination of Rep. Al Lawson’s (D-Tallahassee) majority minority District 5 violates Florida’s Fair Districts Act. The state will clearly appeal, but the map’s fate, the Republicans’ best in the country, now is suspended in political limbo.

Governor

Alabama: Gov. Ivey Below 50 Percent — A Cygnal group poll for the Alabama Daily News and Gray Television (May 6-7; 600 likely Alabama Republican primary voters) two days ago covered the Alabama Senate race confirming that Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) is gaining on his two GOP opponents. Wednesday, Cygnal released its data on the state’s gubernatorial campaign. While Gov. Kay Ivey (R) still holds a comfortable lead according to the poll, the survey shows that she has dropped to 40 percent support.

Real Estate developer Tim James, son of former Gov. Fob James, is second with 18 percent, and former US ambassador to Slovenia, Lindy Blanchard, is a close third with 15 percent. Three more candidates divide 14 percent of the vote, while the remainder is recorded as undecided/won’t say. There is little doubt that Gov. Ivey will finish first, but the question remains whether she can attain the 50 percent threshold to avoid being forced into a secondary runoff election. The Alabama primary is May 24. If a runoff becomes necessary, that election would occur on June 21.

SC Filing Closes; Rep. Rice in Battle

By Jim Ellis

South Carolina’s 7th District contest will be the race to watch on June 14. (Go to Interactive Map on FiveThirtyEight.com)

April 4, 2022 — South Carolina election officials late last week published the 2022 qualified candidates list after filing closed the previous day, and there are several points of note for the June 14 primary election.

While several notable Republican figures were at one point talking about challenging Gov. Henry McMaster in this year’s GOP primary, none did, and he should have an easy re-election campaign not only in the primary, but the general election, too.

McMaster, as the state’s lieutenant governor in 2017, ascended to the governorship to fill the unexpired portion of then-Gov. Nikki Haley’s second term after she resigned to become US Ambassador to the United Nations. This allowed Gov. McMaster to serve the final two years of the Haley term and run for a pair of consecutive stints in his own right. After winning again this past November and serving the next full term, Gov. McMaster will be the longest-serving state chief executive in South Carolina history.

Sen. Tim Scott (R) is poised to win a second full term. He is unopposed in the Republican primary and his strongest general election competition comes from state Rep. Krystle Matthews (D-Ladson). Sen. Scott was originally appointed to the Senate in 2013, serving the four-year balance of Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R) term after the latter’s resignation. Scott was easily elected in his own right in 2016 with a 61-37 percent victory.

In the House races, primary challenges are on tap for Reps. Nancy Mace (R-Charleston), William Timmons (R-Greenville), Jim Clyburn (D-Columbia) and Tom Rice (R-Myrtle Beach). Reps. Joe Wilson (R-Springdale), Jeff Duncan (R-Laurens), and Ralph Norman (R-Rock Hill) are unopposed for re-nomination. Rep. Duncan has no opposition in June or November.

Rep. Mace is fighting a challenge from 2018 GOP congressional nominee Katie Arrington, a former state representative who is a Trump appointee and has the former president’s endorsement.

Freshman Rep. Timmons faces three GOP opponents, two of whom have run unsuccessfully in other elections. The congressman will face business consultant Ken Hill (D) in the general election.

Rep. Clyburn, the House Majority Whip, sees two Democratic opponents file against him, but he will have little trouble in winning both the primary and general election.

Rep. Rice, on the other hand, has major competition. One of the 10 House Republicans to vote in favor of impeaching then-President Trump over the Jan. 6 situation, the congressman was originally facing a dozen GOP opponents. At the end of the filing process, six would not follow through with their challenge, but six did become official qualified candidates, including his three main competitors, state Rep. Russell Fry (R-Surfside Beach), former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride, and Horry County School Board chairman Ken Richardson.

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House Incumbent Primaries, Part I: Republicans

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 18, 2022 — As the states complete their individual redistricting processes and candidate filing deadlines appear on the political horizon, some incumbents find themselves facing serious primary challenges. Today, we look at Republican nomination situations in states where redistricting is complete, and Monday next week, we’ll look at the Democrats.


CA-5: Rep. Tom McClintock

Primary: June 7 (Jungle)

• McClintock Cash-on-Hand (Dec. 31, 2021): $372,569
FiveThirtyEight Statistical Rating: R+17
Dave’s Redistricting App Historical Voting: 56.6% R

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission made significant changes to the Golden State congressional map. As a result, veteran northern California Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) had his choice of two districts, one less Republican that contained more of his home area, and the other more strongly favoring the GOP but stretched from the Sacramento suburbs all the way to the Fresno area. McClintock chose the latter.

The congressman’s most serious opponent is Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig (R). California imposes a jungle primary system meaning that the top two finishers in the June qualifying election advance to the general election. Considering the Republican trends in this district, it is wholly possible that both Rep. McClintock and Supervisor Magsig will advance into the general election, especially with three Democratic candidates dividing the liberal base.


IL-15: GOP Pairing

Primary: June 28

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville)
Rep. Mary Miller (R-Oakland)
• Davis Cash-on-Hand (Dec. 31, 2021): $1,234,171
• Miller Cash-on-Hand (Dec. 31, 2021): $414,795
FiveThirtyEight Statistical Rating: R+42
Dave’s Redistricting App Historical Voting: 64.6% R

The Illinois Democratic gerrymander created a new uber-safe Republican 15th District that attracted both Reps. Rodney Davis and Mary Miller. Therefore, the new member here will be chosen in the June 28 Republican primary.

The race is shaping up as a clear GOP establishment versus movement conservative contest. Virtually all of the state and national Republican leaders, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, have endorsed Davis. All of the movement right-of-center groups such as the Club for Growth and Freedom Works, along with former President Donald Trump, have endorsed Rep. Miller.

Davis also has a major fundraising advantage. Miller, on the other hand, sees 31 percent of her constituents carrying over to the new 15th, versus 28 percent for Davis. Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Peoria) has the largest contingent of current constituents in the new IL-15 (36 percent) but he is running for re-election in the new 16th CD.


MI-4: GOP Pairing

Primary: Aug. 2

Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland)
Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph)
• Huizenga Cash-on-Hand (Dec. 31, 2021): $1,141,056
• Upton Cash-on-Hand (Dec. 31, 2021): $1,467,055
FiveThirtyEight Statistical Rating: R+9
Dave’s Redistricting App Historical Voting: 51.6% R

With Michigan losing a seat in reapportionment, two of the state’s western members were destined to be paired. The new 4th District features a potential contest between Reps. Huizenga and Upton, though the latter man has not yet decided whether to seek re-election. A third candidate, state Rep. Steve Carra (R-Kalamazoo), who carries former President Trump’s endorsement, is also in the race.

Carra is not likely to be a major factor because he represents very little of the new 4th Congressional District constituency in the state legislature. This race will come down to Rep. Upton’s decision whether to seek a 19th term in the House or retire. If he runs, this will be a major summer primary contest. Should he retire, Rep. Huizenga becomes the prohibitive favorite in the primary, with the inside track for the general election, though the new 4th is more competitive than his current 2nd CD.


MS-4: Rep. Steven Palazzo

Primary: June 7 | Runoff: June 28

• Palazzo Cash-on-Hand (Dec. 31, 2021): $ 385,211
FiveThirtyEight Statistical Rating: R+42
Dave’s Redistricting App Historical Voting: 66.5% R

A congressional ethics investigation into Rep. Steven Palazzo’s (R-Biloxi) use of campaign funds is an obvious negative as he strives to win re-nomination for a seventh term.

The investigation prompted state Sen. Brice Wiggins (R-Ocean Springs) and Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell to launch a primary challenge against the congressman, in addition to four others. Local business owner Carl Boyanton has thrown $550,000 of his own money into his campaign, making him a factor, too. This field could grow or retract as the March 1 candidate filing deadline looms on the political horizon.

It remains to be seen whether the investigation hinders Rep. Palazzo to the point of forcing him into a runoff — he has survived other tough primary challenges with larger than expected percentages — but the possibility of going to a secondary vote is certainly real. Should Palazzo be forced into a runoff, his re-nomination could be in serious jeopardy.
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Alabama Map Ruling Stayed; Redistricting Update

By Jim Ellis

Alabama redistricting map (Click on the map above or go to DavesRedistricting.org to see interactive map)

Feb. 9, 2022 — On a 5-4 vote, the US Supreme Court voted to stay the lower court ruling that invalidated the new Alabama congressional map. A Republican three-judge panel had ruled that a second majority minority district could have been drawn among the state’s seven congressional districts, and thus disqualified the plan on Jan. 23.

Writing a concurring opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh stated that the lower court decision was made too close to the 2022 election, meaning that the judicial process would not have proper time to hear the appeal and make an educated ruling prior to the state’s scheduled primary election. The ruling does not mean the appeal was granted, but merely postpones hearing the case to a later date.

Analysts say the stay ensures that the original map will be in place for this year’s election. It does not mean, however, that the map won’t be altered for the 2024 election and beyond.

The new plan is virtually an extension of the current map, which elected six Republicans and one Democrat in the 2020 election. It was a curious original decision, not only because the judges that ruled against the GOP map drawers were appointed by former President Donald Trump (2) and the late President Ronald Reagan (1), but that the same map footprint stood unencumbered for the past 10 years.

The major change made from the current map to the new draw came in the 7th CD, which is the Voting Rights district. The legislature, however, had no choice but to make a substantial change. AL-7 was 53,143 people short of reaching the state’s congressional district population quota of 717,754 individuals.

The previous ruling also postponed the Jan. 28 candidate filing deadline for the Alabama US House candidates. Those running for all other offices have now already filed and been qualified for the respective party primary ballots. The congressional candidates will now file on Feb. 11.

Redistricting Notes

• Summarizing the legal action in other states, the North Carolina map has been disqualified and the legislature will now return to redraw the congressional and state legislative maps. As has been the case throughout the previous decade, the partisan Republican legislature and the partisan Democratic state Supreme Court continue to go back and forth over the issue of partisan gerrymandering.

• The lower court ruling in Michigan rejected the Detroit area Democratic current and former state legislators’ claim that the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission members violated the Voting Rights Act in drawing the city of Detroit’s congressional and state legislative maps. Unless an appeal is granted, the new Michigan maps will stand for this year’s elections.

• The Kansas legislature adjourned without voting to override Gov. Laura Kelly’s (D) veto of the state’s congressional map. The hasty adjournment move, however, allows the legislature to reconsider the veto override. Without a successful override vote, the map will go to the courts for a redrawing of the Kansas City metro area.

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Michigan House Action Wave

Michigan Congressional Redistricting Map. (Click on image to go to FiveThirtyEight.com to see interactive map.)

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 3, 2022 — Though the Michigan congressional lines are in litigation and filing time is still more than two months away in preparation for the state’s August 2nd primary election, Tuesday was a busy day on the Wolverine State’s US House front.

First, in the paired Republican incumbent 4th District where Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) is seeking re-election and appears ready to face fellow Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph), a third candidate announced that he would not abandon his own Republican campaign despite seeing an unfavorable district draw.

State Rep. Steve Carra (R-Portage) said that he intends to remain in the new 4th Congressional District race despite potentially having to face two incumbents and not having any of his current state House District lying in the new 4th. His legislative district will now be fully contained in Rep. Tim Walberg’s (R-Tipton) new 5th CD that stretches the width of Michigan along the state’s southern border. Carra earned former President Trump’s endorsement in his pre-redistricting bid against Rep. Upton.

When queried about the difficulty of the paired nomination race for a non-incumbent such as himself, Carra said, “It doesn’t matter whether there’s one or two status quo Republicans in the race.”

For his part, Rep. Upton is not yet committing to run for a 19th term, saying he wants to further study the new district and see whether the courts disqualify the current map. A group of current and former Democratic state legislators have filed suit against the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission claiming the members violated the Voting Rights Act with their draw of the congressional and state legislative districts in Detroit and Wayne County.

The 4th District will be one of the most interesting primary campaigns in the state and possibly the nation if Huizenga and Upton ultimately face each other. With Carra coming to the race with the Trump endorsement and potentially testing just how much the ex-President’s support actually means, he becomes a wild card entry.

Another incumbent who did not fare well in the redistricting process is freshman Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids). His 3rd District moves from an R+9 to a D+3 seat according to the FiveThirtyEight statistical site. Dave’s Redistricting App scores the CD at 50.1 percent Democratic and 46.5 percent Republican. President Biden would have carried the new 3rd, 53-45 percent. Therefore, Rep. Meijer, along with potential primary problems because he, too, voted in favor of the Trump impeachment, has a difficult political road ahead.

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