Tag Archives: Club for Growth

TN Legal Challenge Rejected; MO/FL Redistricting Maps Remain In Limbo

By Jim Ellis
May 20, 2022

House

Former State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus, who former President Donald Trump was supporting, is among three potential candidates unable to run in TN-5.

TN-5: Starbuck’s Legal Challenge Rejected — Before the early April filing deadline, the Tennessee Republican Party adopted new candidate qualification rules that included past voting history requirements. The new standard requires that all potential GOP office seekers must have voted in the last three statewide elections. Thus, a trio of filed candidates in the new 5th Congressional District were disqualified because they recently moved into the state. The three are former State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus, who former President Donald Trump was supporting, business owner Baxter Lee, and video producer Robby Starbuck.

Starbuck sued in federal court asking that the judge strike down the Tennessee party’s requirement, arguing that the party leaders established a requirement that is “inconsistent with federal and state law.” Late last week, Judge Waverly Crenshaw rejected the claim saying that “Starbuck’s efforts were thwarted not because of any clear violation of federal law, but because (for whatever reason) the (Tennessee Republican Party) decided not to follow its own rules.” Ortagus and Lee did not challenge the new rule. Starbuck says he may take the matter to state court. The Tennessee primary is Aug. 4.

FL-27: Rep. Salazar Close in Opponent’s Poll — Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell (D) released the results of his internal poll that was conducted last month (April 18-21; 350 likely FL-27 general election voters). The results show him within two points of freshman Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Miami), 43-41 percent. If the bounced Florida redistricting map is restored in the upper-level courts, as many believe will happen, the new 27th plays three points better for Rep. Salazar, though it would still be rated as tipping toward the Democrats by one percentage point.

In the current Democratic version of FL-27, Salazar defeated then-Democratic incumbent Donna Shalala (D-Miami), 51-49 percent, in the 2020 election.

Redistricting

Missouri: Map Sent to Governor — Missouri is one of just two states that has not yet completed the congressional redistricting process, though it appears the legislature and governor may finally have an agreement. Had the legislature not acted this weekend before the session ended Sine Die, the federal courts would have assumed the re-mapping process.

The plan now before Gov. Mike Parson (R) would likely preserve the state’s current 6R-2D ratio. The argument among Republicans was over increasing the draw to 7R-1D, thus collapsing the Kansas City Democratic district of Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver. Under the map now likely to be adopted, Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Ballwin), who has fought to win consecutive close finishes against strong Democratic opponents, sees her new 2nd CD become more Republican because politically favorable rural territory was added west of St. Louis County.

Budd Laps McCrory in N.C.

By Jim Ellis

North Carolina Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance)

April 14, 2022 — Just a month ago, some analysts and activists were questioning North Carolina Rep. Ted Budd’s (R-Advance) US Senate campaign even to the point where speculation was building that former President Donald Trump was about to pull his endorsement.

The tables have rapidly turned.

The fifth consecutive statewide survey was published Tuesday showing Budd leading former Gov. Pat McCrory as the two begin the final month of campaigning prior to the May 17 Republican primary.

Survey USA published their latest study (April 6-10; 593 likely North Carolina Republican primary voters, online) projecting Rep. Budd to a 33-23-7-2 percent advantage over McCrory, former US Rep. Mark Walker and author Marjorie Eastman. Since March 22, four other pollsters have published similar numbers. The McCrory camp has yet to counter with different figures.

Vitale & Associates was the first since early January to find Budd leading the race, a 32-29 percent margin over the former governor according to their March 22-23 survey of 504 North Carolina Republican primary likely voters.

The margin started gelling for the Budd campaign this month when three successive surveys gave the congressman double-digit leads. Cygnal, Emerson College, and WPA Intelligence — all published just before the new Survey USA study — staked Rep. Budd to leads of 11, 16, and 13 percentage points, respectively, in their polls conducted between April 1-5.

The turnaround is not particularly surprising. In relation to the Trump endorsement, early polling consistently showed the political horse race changing when the respondents were informed that the former president supported Budd. Though trailing McCrory in the initial ballot test, the fact that the two candidates flipped just on the knowledge of Trump’s endorsement was an early indicator that the former governor and fourteen-year Charlotte mayor held underlying political weaknesses.

The other clue suggesting McCrory could potentially collapse was the fact that 35 percent was his high-water mark in any of the 12 surveys results released since Jan. 5 and he only averaged 27.7 percent in those dozen polls. This, for a former governor before his own political party.

Continue reading

An Alabama Barnburner

By Jim Ellis

Alabama US Senate candidate Mike Durant

Feb. 16, 2022 — A trio of polls released in the past three weeks now suggest that any one of the top Alabama US Senate candidates can win the Republican nomination.

With Democrats basically conceding the general election because none of their four filed candidates can be considered a legitimate threat to score an upset win in November, the GOP nomination contest will decide who will succeed retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R).

The Alabama Republican Senate primary is now turning into a serious three-way affair, as former “Black Hawk Down” pilot Mike Durant apparently has become a legitimate contender. According to most recent three surveys, what originally looked to be a potential outright win for US Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) on May 24 now appears surely headed for a June 21 secondary runoff election.

FarmPAC, the political arm of the Alabama Farmers Federation, this week began to publicize their Cherry Communications survey (Feb. 2-6; 600 likely Alabama Republican primary voters, live interview). The results post Congressman Brooks to a tight 34-29-24 percent lead over former Business Council of Alabama president and CEO Katie Britt, whom FarmPAC supports, and Durant, who now runs a defense engineering company headquartered in Alabama. In this survey, Durant again emerges as an additional contender with staying power who can clear a victory path.

As February began, Britt released her internal Deep Root Analytics survey (Jan. 29-31; 2,088 likely Alabama GOP primary voters; live interview, automated response calls and online) that gave her a slight 29-28-23 percent split over Brooks and Durant. Finally, WPA Intelligence, polling for the Club for Growth who supports Rep. Brooks (Jan. 25-27; 513 likely Alabama Republican primary voters live interview), saw the congressman holding a 35-30-25 percent edge over Durant, who vaulted into second place in this poll, and Britt.

All three candidates have strong positives and the financial wherewithal to remain competitive until voters first cast their ballots at the end of May. Two of the three, Brooks and Britt, can expect to benefit from active outside support, while Durant is already funding his effort to the tune of just over $4 million with likely more to come.

Britt is the leading fundraiser. At year’s end, she had raised just under $5 million, all from donors, and reported approximately $4.1 million cash-on-hand. Sen. Shelby has also committed to spending $5 million from his own campaign treasury as an independent expenditure to support Britt, his former chief of staff.

Rep. Brooks, never known as an aggressive fundraiser, had brought in $2.15 million at the end of 2021, with almost $2 million remaining in his treasury. The Club for Growth is likely to spend seven figures in their own independent expenditure to aid the congressman’s statewide effort.

As mentioned above, Durant has invested over $4 million into his effort according to his December year-end financial disclosure report, which represented virtually all of his campaign treasury. He has already spent well over $1 million on a media blitz that has successfully placed him in serious contention.

Continue reading

A New Jersey Shock Poll

By Jim Ellis

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D)

Sept. 7, 2021 — The Fabrizio Lee polling firm, surveying for the Club for Growth organization (Aug. 4-29; 600 likely 2021 New Jersey election voters, live interview) finds New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) potentially falling into a precarious political position.

Since June 1, Gov. Murphy has led in all four publicly released polls, each from a different pollster, with margins ranging from a low of 11 to as high as 28 points over former state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R). The Fabrizio-Lee data casts a much different light upon the race, finding Gov. Murphy leading by a scant 43-41 percent margin as the contest has apparently become tighter with August ending.

Digging deeper into the polling analysis, it appears that Gov. Murphy is in slightly better position than the Fabrizio lead ballot test suggests, but nowhere close to his previous standing. The question then posed: is there significant movement toward Ciattarelli or is this Fabrizio Lee poll an outlier?

Among the 600 respondents who identify themselves as planning to vote in the Nov. 2 election, segmentation exists between those who have previously voted in an odd-numbered year election and those who have not. Among the “Gov-election” voters, Murphy’s ballot test position improves to 46-40 percent. For those who have not cast a ballot in a previous NJ governor’s election, Ciattarelli pulls ahead of the incumbent by a 41-35 percent margin, but these individuals are significantly less likely to participate.

The poll illuminates several other warning signs for the incumbent, however. While Ciattarelli has an 87:3 percent loyalty factor among Republicans, Gov. Murphy is running slightly less robustly among Democrats (75:11 percent). More concerning for the governor is him trailing among white voters (39-48 percent), and Independents (28-43 percent). Failing to improve within these two latter sectors could result in an upset election loss for the first term state chief executive.

Though the poll responses are weighted to compensate, the sampling universe’s racial composition is different than the state population numbers. The respondent sample is more heavily white than the state as a whole, with Hispanic and black respondents totaling only about half of their standing within the population at large. This would suggest that the Murphy ballot test numbers are slightly deflated.

Continue reading

Ellzey’s Upset Win in TX-6

Texas state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie) tallied an upset win in the TX-6 special election Tuesday.

By Jim Ellis

July 29, 2021 — Texas state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie) tallied an upset win in the TX-6 double-Republican special runoff election Tuesday, defeating the race’s nominal favorite, Susan Wright, widow of the late Congressman Ron Wright (R-Arlington).

While polling and endorsements suggested a Wright victory – the most recent public poll from American Viewpoint released last week projected Wright holding a 10-point, 44-34 percent, advantage – the Ellzey win should be viewed as a mild upset. This is the third election in the four in which Rep-Elect Ellzey was a candidate where he considerably exceeded expectations.

Jake Ellzey, an airline pilot, rancher, and Iraq and Afghan War veteran, first came on the political scene with a surprising second-place finish in the 2018 open seat 6th District congressional primary, forcing then-Tarrant County Tax Assessor Wright into a secondary runoff election. Mr. Wright was viewed as a clear favorite in the follow-up vote but managed only a 52-48 percent win, with Ellzey again out-performing polling and projections. He then immediately came back an easily won an open seat primary and general election in a safe Republican state House of Representatives district.

When Rep. Wright passed away, the special election drew 23 candidates including Ms. Wright and state Rep. Ellzey. Local forecasters were expecting Democrat Jana Lynne Sanchez to secure a runoff position against Ms. Wright, possibly even perhaps finishing in first position, but Ellzey again surprised the analysts by edging Sanchez for second place. In the underdog role again, Ellzey recorded a 53-47 percent win.

Several noteworthy points came from the race. First, turnout was very low, only a 38,994 unofficial participation figure. This compares to 78,374 cast ballots in the special jungle primary for a drop-off rate of just over 50 percent. Considering that this was a double-Republican runoff and Democrats had little reason to vote since they had no candidate, such a small return voter figure is not particularly surprising.

Second, the early vote and election day vote proportion were virtually identical. Both Rep. Ellzey and Ms. Wright doubled their early vote total almost exactly. Conversely, in the jungle primary, Ellzey recorded over 70 percent of his total vote in the early phase, while Ms. Wright drew only 42 percent of her aggregate share from those voting prior to election day. Therefore, Ellzey significantly improved his election day operation.

Third, the big change from the jungle primary to the runoff election was the vote from Tarrant County, the district’s largest local entity. In the initial election, Ms. Wright ran strong in rural Navarro County and Ellzey did likewise in his home county of Ellis. This pattern remained consistent Tuesday night.

Continue reading