Category Archives: Voting Rights

House Updates – Including Gerrymandering: AL, CO, NM, NJ & NY

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022

House

Alabama redistricting map

Redistricting: Supreme Court Hears Alabama Case — In one of the first cases on the US Supreme Court’s new term docket, oral arguments were heard for the Alabama racial gerrymandering redistricting case, which could result in a landmark ruling relating to future interpretation of the Voting Rights Act.

The state of Alabama is arguing its reasons for keeping the state’s congressional map, which features one strong majority minority district. The US government is arguing that a second minority seat can be drawn. The presentations consumed more time than usual for Supreme Court oral arguments, and now it is up to the nine justices to craft a definitive ruling, which will be released sometime before June next year.

In November, the high court will hear oral arguments on the North Carolina redistricting case, which will lead to a definitive ruling pertaining to judicial power over the constitutional authority of state legislatures.

CO-3: Rep. Boebert’s Slight Lead — Despite representing a relatively safely Republican western slope 3rd Congressional District, Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt) looks to have a competitive race on her hands as we begin the campaign cycle’s final weeks. Colorado-based Keating Research conducted a poll for the Adam Frisch (D) campaign (Sept. 28-Oct. 2; 500 likely CO-3 voters; live interview & text). The ballot test results found Rep. Boebert’s lead shrinking to 47-45 percent, down from Keating’s 49-42 percent spread detected in its July survey.

Expect to see countering numbers from either the Boebert campaign or the National Republican Congressional Committee to soon be released.

NM-2: Gerrymandered District Yields Dem a Slight Edge — The Global Strategy Group, polling for the Gabe Vasquez (D) campaign, tested the NM-2 electorate to determine the state of the race featuring freshman Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-Alamogordo) and Vasquez, a Las Cruces City councilman. The GSG survey (Sept. 20-26; 500 likely NM-2 voters; live interview) sees Vasquez pulling ahead of Rep. Herrell, 45-43 percent.

The result is not particularly surprising in that the Democratic legislature and governor crafted the new 2nd CD to flip. Before redistricting, the FiveThirtyEight data organization rated the seat, R+14. Post-redistricting, we see a D+4 categorization. This district will still yield a close finish, and voter turnout will tell the ultimate tale.

NJ-7: Rep. Malinowski Internal Poll Shows Dead Heat — The Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research organization conducted a congressional poll for two-term Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill), who is again in a tight battle with former state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R). In 2020, Kean held Rep. Malinowski to a 51-49 percent re-election win in a district that was more Democratic than the new 7th. The GQR survey (Sept. 20-26; 500 likely NJ-7 general election voters) sees both candidates now attracting 48 percent of the vote. The Democratic pollster, however, also detects a partisan generic party label split of 50-45 percent favoring the Republicans. NJ-7 is a key Republican conversion opportunity seat.

NY-22: Republican Breaks Ahead — The Syracuse-anchored 22nd District is open in the 2022 election cycle because Rep. John Katko (R-Syracuse), one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Trump, is not seeking a fifth term. Ironically, the court-drawn map actually makes this district two points more Republican than the seat the Rep. Katko consistently won.

Siena College conducted an independent poll for the Spectrum News Service (Sept. 25-28; 453 likely NY-22 general election voters) and sees Republican technology company executive Brandon Williams jumping out to a five point, 45-40 percent, advantage over former intelligence agency analyst Francis Conole (D).

With the respondents believing the country is on the wrong track by a 25:63 percent margin, it is not particularly surprising to also see Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) falling behind Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley/East Long Island) in this Upstate District. NY-22 is a must-win for the GOP in November.

Sen. Warnock Jumps to Significant Lead, Kemp & Abrams Tied in Georgia; Incumbent Rep. Lee Trailing in NV-3

By Jim Ellis — July 1, 2022

Senate

Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and Republican challenger Herschel Walker

Georgia: Sen. Warnock Jumps to Significant Lead — The new Georgia Quinnipiac poll (June 23-27; 1,497 registered Georgia voters; live interview) finds Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) claiming a 54-44 percent lead over Republican Herschel Walker, the most lopsided pro-Democratic ballot test to date. The previous polling from December to mid-April (six polls) had given Walker a slight edge.

Sen. Warnock carries a positive 49:39 percent job approval rating in contrast to President Biden’s upside-down 33:60 percent approval rating. Walker scores rather poorly on honesty, 39:43 percent honest to dishonest, and is not perceived to have particularly good leadership skills, 37:43 percent. As point of reference, the same polling sample finds Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and former state House Minority Leader and 2018 gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams (D) tied at 48 percent.

However, the study could be an anomaly.

Though polls have been moving toward Sen. Warnock, the Q-Poll takes a giant leap, so it is possible that this survey is an outlier. Democrats support Warnock, 97-2 percent; Republicans are for Walker in a 93-7 percent clip.

The Independent sector is where we may be detecting a significant skew. This group, on virtually every question but the Biden job approval query moves significantly toward the Democratic position and/or candidate, and in a greater degree than one would expect from people who self-identify as “independents” (62-33 percent for Warnock).

While this particular poll may well skew toward Sen. Warnock, it is probable that we will soon see other data yielding a much closer ballot test. The Georgia Senate race is one that is far from over.

Missouri: Independent Joins Race — Answering former Sen. John Danforth’s (R) call for a new candidate in the Senate race, former US Attorney John Wood announced his plans to enter the contest as an Independent. He claims this is a move to potentially stop former Gov. Eric Greitens from prevailing in the general election should he win the Republican nomination. In reality, however, by splitting the vote in such a manner — if Wood were to become a top-tier candidate — would likely elect the Democratic nominee.

Wood says that if elected, he would support Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for Majority Leader and would presumably caucus with the Republicans. To qualify for the ballot in Missouri, an Independent candidate must submit 10,000 valid registered voters’ signatures by an Aug. 1 deadline.

House

FL-2: Close Poll in Paired Race — The new northern Florida’s 2nd District is rated R+16 according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization. A new Sachs Media poll (June 20-23; 400 likely FL-2 general election voters), however, finds Rep. Neal Dunn (R-Panama City) leading Rep. Al Lawson (D-Tallahassee) by only a 43-40 percent margin. Perhaps the most troubling segment for Rep. Dunn is the unaffiliated voters who are breaking for Lawson by a 42-18 percent margin.

NV-3: Rep. Lee Trailing in New Survey — The Tarrance Group, polling for the April Becker (R) campaign (June 20-23; 400 likely NV-3 general election voters), posts their client and Republican challenger to a 46-44 percent edge over incumbent Rep. Susie Lee (D-Las Vegas). Likely most troubling for the Lee campaign is her deficit among Hispanic voters who comprise almost 19 percent of the 3rd District of Nevada’s population. Within this segment, Becker leads the congresswoman 48-42 percent. President Biden’s job approval rating here is a poor 37 percent.

OK-2: Runoff Set — With enough votes counted, it is now clear that the Republican runoff to replace Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Westville) will feature state Rep. Avery Frix (R-Muskogee), who finished first with just 14.7 percent among the crowded field, and former state Sen. John Brecheen, who was close behind with 13.8 percent support. The two just eclipsed Muskogee Police Chief Johnny Teehee (13.0 percent) and Oklahoma Republican Party chairman John Bennett (11.3 percent). The runoff winner is a lock to win the general election in a R+55 rated seat according the the 538 data group.

Redistricting

Louisiana: Supreme Court Stays Ruling — The federal judge’s ruling that disqualified the new Louisiana congressional map because it did not draw a second black district has been stayed. The United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) took the action to at least temporarily block the ruling from taking effect. The conclusion will mean the legislature’s map will return at least for the 2022 election.

The courts, either through this case or the Alabama Voting Rights case that the SCOTUS has already scheduled for hearing, will likely determine how the Voting Rights Act is to be interpreted moving forward. This could mean that the Louisiana map and many others will be re-drawn for the 2024 election and beyond.

GOP Dogfight Continues in Arizona; Rep. Cori Bush’s Competitive Primary

By Jim Ellis — June 10, 2022

Senate

Arizona: GOP Dogfight Continues — A new Data Orbital poll (June 1-3; 550 likely Arizona Republican primary voters) again finds a three-way virtual tie for the party’s US Senate nomination that will be decided on Aug. 2. In the last 10 published polls, all three top candidates, Attorney General Mark Brnovich and businessmen Blake Masters, who now has former President Trump’s endorsement, as well as Jim Lamon have led in at least two polls apiece.

The latest Data Orbital results also suggests that any of the three can win the primary. In their ballot test results, Lamon leads AG Brnovich and Masters, 20-18-15 percent. The eventual winner will challenge Sen. Mark Kelly (D) in what promises to be a competitive general election campaign.

House

Freshman Missouri Rep. Cori Bush (D-St. Louis) has a competitive race on her hands.

MO-1: Rep. Bush’s Tenuous Lead — A new internal campaign poll suggests that controversial freshman Missouri Rep. Cori Bush (D-St. Louis) has a competitive race on her hands as the candidates look ahead to the Aug. 2 state primary. State Sen. Steve Roberts (D-St. Louis) released a Lincoln Park Strategies poll (May 24-29; 500 MO-1 registered voters; live interview) that finds the congresswoman leading by only a 36-19 percent spread over the poll sponsor, and that obviously places the incumbent far below the 50 percent threshold. Three other Democrats are also on the ballot, suggesting that the winner can claim the party nomination with only a plurality margin.

This survey suggests that the MO-1 Democratic primary, for the second consecutive election cycle, will be competitive. In 2020, Bush upset veteran Congressman Lacy Clay in the party primary that paved the way for her easy general election victory. The Democratic primary controls the general election since the district is rated D+52.

NY-23: State Chair Langworthy New Nominee — The local Republican chairmen whose counties comprise the current 23rd Congressional District have decided that newly announced congressional candidate Nick Langworthy — the New York Republican Party chairman — will be the party’s special election nominee for the race to succeed resigned Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning). Langworthy will face retired Air Force Colonel Max Della Pia whom the Democratic chairmen had previously selected. Under New York election law, the county parties choose nominees in the event of a vacancy.

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) scheduled the special to be concurrent with the regular congressional primary on Aug. 23. We can expect both Langworthy and Della Pia to win their respective regular election primaries, so we can count on seeing the two battle not only on Aug. 23, but also for the general election. Langworthy now becomes a big favorite in the southwestern upstate district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as R+23. Dave’s Redistricting App scores it 55.37 percent R and 41.98 percent D. Former President Trump carried the new 23rd District in 2020 by a 55-43 percent count.

Redistricting

Louisiana: Federal Judge Rejects Map — A federal judge has struck down the Louisiana legislature’s 2022 congressional map under the argument that another minority seat can be drawn in the state. The current map and the new plan features a 5R-1D delegation split with the lone Democratic seat, which is 58.6 percent black and 70.2 percent minority, stretching from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. The judge ruled that such a plan violates the Voting Rights Act.

Expect the Republicans to appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The US Supreme Court has already agreed to hear a similar Alabama case, and this one will set the record for Voting Rights interpretation. Therefore, the chances of the Appellate Court staying the new Louisiana ruling and reinstating the map for the 2022 elections are high. Under the rejected plan, all six of the state’s incumbents would have safe seats in which to run for re-election.

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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