By Jim Ellis — Monday, Oct. 30, 2023
PresidentRFK Jr.: Equal Impact Effect — Before Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced his Independent candidacy, President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump were generally at parity in national polling, with either contender clinging to a small lead or being deadlocked. We see two new national surveys adding Kennedy to their questionnaire, yet the leader still records the same type of close margins. Dr. Cornel West is included in some polls as another Independent candidate, but it is doubtful that he can qualify for enough state ballots to become a viable factor.
The HarrisX poll (Oct. 16-23; 3,029 US registered voters; online) sees Trump leading Biden and Kennedy, 40-38-18 percent. In what is now an unrealistic head-to-head pairing between Trump and Biden, Trump’s edge is four percentage points.
Suffolk University (Oct. 17-20; 1,000 US registered voters; live interview) sees a similar Biden-Trump-Kennedy 38-37-14 percent split. If the two major party candidates were only running against each other, the Suffolk data finds a 43-41 percent division in President Biden’s favor. Again, with such small margins that don’t greatly change, it appears that Kennedy may be pulling almost equally from both major party candidates.
Pennsylvania: Sen. Casey Maintains Lead — Franklin & Marshall College again surveyed the Keystone State electorate (Oct. 11-22; 873 registered Pennsylvania voters; live interview & online) as they do several times per year, and while this particular sampling period is long the US Senate ballot test results are consistent with other previously published surveys. According to the F&M data, Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) has a 46-39 percent advantage over Republican former hedge fund CEO David McCormick (R). Sen. Casey runs four points ahead of President Biden within the same sampling universe, while McCormick’s support percentage is three points below that of former President Trump.
AZ-8: Blake Masters Enters Open Race — As expected when this seat opened, 2022 Republican US Senate nominee Blake Masters announced that he will run for the 8th District seat in the 2024 election. Also in the race is Abe Hamadeh, the Republican attorney general nominee who lost the 2022 statewide race by less than 300 votes. Retiring US Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Peoria), has already endorsed state House Speaker Ben Toma (R-Paradise), but Toma has yet to announce his congressional candidacy.
Masters’ chances of coming through a crowded primary with plurality support are good. The eventual Republican will be a heavy favorite in the general election. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates AZ-8 as R+22. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks the seat as the 77th most vulnerable district in the Republican Conference.
Georgia: Federal Judge Strikes Down Congressional Map — In a developing story, a federal judge has struck down the Georgia congressional map as a racial gerrymander. The main district in question is Rep. Rich McCormick’s (R-Suwanee) 6th CD. It remains to be seen what steps the state takes. The judge is giving the lawmakers until Dec. 8 to redraw the map.
MD-3: Rep. John Sarbanes (D) to Retire — Nine-term Maryland US Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Baltimore) announced late last week that he will retire from the House after this current Congress ends. In a statement, Sarbanes said, “ … before coming to Congress, I also found great reward in working with nonprofits, volunteering and otherwise contributing to my community. That too is a powerful form of public service. For some time now, I have found myself drawn back to that kind of work — wanting to explore the many opportunities to serve that exist outside of elected office. With that in mind, I have decided not to seek re-election in 2024.”
Sarbanes’ departure will ignite a major Democratic primary for the open seat. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates this seat as D+14. President Biden carried the district with a 62-36 percent margin. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks MD-3 as the 79th most vulnerable district in the Democratic Conference. In a presidential election year, this race will be decided in what promises to be a crowded Democratic primary.
NC-14: Rep. Jackson (D) to Run for Attorney General — As expected, Rep. Jeff Jackson (D-Charlotte), saying a Democrat cannot win the newly drawn 14th District, announced that he will not seek re-election and instead is now a candidate for the open attorney general’s position. In a video showing him as a boxer giving and taking punches, Jackson said he is targeting corrupt politicians, big corporations, and organized crime in his run for the top law enforcement job in the Tar Heel State.
As in the nine other Republican districts on the new congressional map, the new 14th that begins in Charlotte and moves west to encompass all or parts of five other counties, will likely elect the GOP nominee. All indications point to state House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland County) as Rep. Jackson’s eventual successor.
North Carolina: Redistricting Passes into Law; Ex-Rep. Walker Will Run — Both the North Carolina House and Senate passed the new congressional and state legislative maps, thus enacting them into law as Gov. Roy Cooper (D) has no veto authority over redistricting legislation. The map favors Republicans in 10 of the state’s 14 districts.
In Rep. Kathy Manning’s (D-Greensboro) new 6th District, which voted for Donald Trump by a 57-41 percent split according to the Daily Kos Elections statisticians, former US representative and 2022 US Senate candidate Mark Walker (R) announced that he will leave the governor’s race and instead run for this new district. For three terms, Walker represented a similar 6th District. He chose not to run in 2020 after a court-drawn map made NC-6 a heavily Democratic seat that Manning was able to claim.