Tag Archives: COVID

Early Voting Open in Four States; Sen. Bennet Up Comfortably in Colorado; Utah Senate Polling Shows Close Results; Florida House Turmoil

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022

Voting

Early voting has begun in Minnesota, South Dakota, Virginia, and Wyoming.

Voting Begins: Early Voting Open in Four States — The first general election votes of the 2022 election cycle will be received soon. The early voting calendar has opened in Minnesota, South Dakota, Virginia, and Wyoming. Ballots have been mailed to voters in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, so we can expect to see early voting commence in those two states, as well.

Most of the states return to their pre-2020 voting status, since the court-ordered Covid related universal mailing voting rules were in effect only for the previous election year unless the state enacted new electoral procedures in their 2021-22 legislative session. Even though the universal mail balloting provisions revert to previous law, 45 states now feature some type of early voting procedure.

Senate

Colorado: Sen. Bennet Up Comfortably — Emerson College tested the Centennial State electorate (Sept. 18-19; 1,000 likely Colorado general election voters; multiple sampling techniques) and found Sen. Michael Bennet (D) leading GOP businessman Joe O’Dea by a ten-point, 46-36 percent, margin. Republicans have tagged this race as an upset possibility, but this poll shows little weakness for the Democratic incumbent who is seeking his third full term.

Utah: Another Close Result — Polling data suggests that the Utah Senate race is the closest campaign that attracts the least national attention. A new Dan Jones & Associates survey for the Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics (Sept. 3-21; 815 registered Utah voters; 786 likely general election voters) finds Sen. Mike Lee (R) ahead of Independent Evan McMullin by only a 37-34 percent margin. Though this poll has a very long sampling period, which adversely affects accuracy, it is consistent with some others we’ve seen of this race.

Early in September, both Impact Research and Kurt Jetta, polling for the Center Street PAC, found the candidates languishing within a combined four-point range. Impact Research actually found McMullen claiming a one-point edge.

Back in April, the majority of Utah Democratic Party convention delegates voted not to field a candidate for the purpose of coalescing behind McMullin. Though he is more conservative than what most of the delegates would have desired in a candidate, they did want to see McMullin have a one-on-one shot to challenge Sen. Lee.

House

FL-22: Rep. Deutch Announces Resignation Plans — In February, Florida Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Boca Raton) announced that he would leave the House before the end of the current legislative session in order to assume the leadership of the American Jewish Committee. At the time, Deutch said he would leave sometime on or around Oct. 1. Late last week, the congressman confirmed he will officially resign his seat before the end of September.

It is unlikely that Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) will have the time to call a special election to replace Deutch for a probable lame duck session since Florida law dictates a relatively long voting schedule period once such an election is called. Therefore, with the party nominations having been decided in the Aug. 23 primary, the new 23rd District will remain open until the new Congress convenes on Jan. 3, 2023. In the open seat general election, Broward County Commissioner Jared Moskowitz (D) is favored over Republican Joe Budd in a South Florida district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates D+9.

Alaska Candidates Settle to Three; Conflicting Polls in IL-15; Economy Polls as Highest Concern in MN

By Jim Ellis — June 24, 2022

House

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

AK-AL: Now Top Three — Officials from the Alaska Division of Elections, grappling with the new top-four qualifying system, have changed their initial ruling after finalist Al Gross (I/D), announced earlier this week that he was ending his campaign. Division officials initially were leaning toward placing the fifth-place finisher, Republican Tara Sweeney, into the group of four finalists, but they have since reversed themselves.

The final ruling does not add a replacement for Dr. Gross, meaning that only former Gov. Sarah Palin, businessman Nick Begich III (R), and former state Rep. Mary Peltola (D) will advance into the special general election scheduled for Aug. 16. Sweeney followed up with an announcement that she will not challenge the Elections Division’s ruling.

IL-15: Conflicting Polls — The next in a series of paired incumbent elections is scheduled in Illinois when two sets of paired incumbents will square off in the June 28 primary election. In the downstate Republican primary, Reps. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) and Mary Miller (R-Oakland) are battling for the new gerrymandered 15th District, one of only three Land of Lincoln seats that will likely send a Republican to the House. This week, we see two polls released with conflicting conclusions.

The Victory Geek firm, polling for the Illinoize political blog (June 15-19; 515 IL-15 respondents; interactive voice response system), finds Rep. Davis leading Rep. Miller, 38-35 percent. When forcing the undecideds to make a choice, the full universe breaks for Davis, 51-49 percent. The bad news for him is when voters are informed that former President Trump has endorsed Miller, the preference factor switches to 47-39 percent in Miller’s favor.

The Miller campaign also released their internal Cygnal firm survey conducted during the same time period (June 18-19; 420 likely IL-15 Republican primary voters; peer-to-peer text) that gave the congresswoman a 45-40 percent edge over Davis. The other paired incumbent election features a Chicago suburban Democratic pairing between Reps. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove) and Marie Newman (D-La Grange).

MN-1 Special: Virtual Tie — An Expedition Strategies survey of the MN-1 special election (June 6-9; 400 likely MN-1 special election voters; live interview) scheduled for Aug. 9 finds the two party nominees, former Republican state Rep. Brad Finstad and ex-Hormel corporation CEO Jeff Ettinger (D) falling into a virtual tie. The ballot test gives Finstad a 48-47 percent edge in a district that is no stranger to close elections. The winning percentage in the past three congressional elections was 48.6 percent, 50.1 percent, and 50.3 percent in 2020, 2018, and 2016. The seat is in special election because incumbent Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R) passed away in February.

In terms of what the survey respondents perceive as the most important issue, the “economy and cost of living” registered 27 percent, “guns” was second with a 12 percent mention, and “election integrity” was third with 10 percent. Interestingly, the healthcare issue, which now includes COVID, registered as the most important issue from only six percent of the respondents. Ettinger scored a 53-40 percent advantage on preferring a candidate with experience running a business as compared to Finstad’s career in government and rural policy making.

NY-19 Special: Republican Molinaro Launched to Big Led — A Triton Polling & Research survey conducted for the Freedom Council USA (June 16-20; 505 current NY-19 registered voters; interactive voice response system) finds Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro (R) leading Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan (D) by a large 52-38 percent clip in the special election race to replace resigned US Rep. Antonio Delgado (D). The congressman left the House to accept his appointment as lieutenant governor.

A Molinaro victory would mean another special election GOP conversion of a Democratic seat as we saw in Texas on June 14 when Republican Mayra Flores defeated Democrat Dan Sanchez and two minor candidates to win the seat from which Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville) resigned. If the GOP is successful in NY-19, and holds their other 2022 special elections in AK-AL, MN-1, NE-1, and NY-23, the conference will increase to 215 members, just three away from majority status.

TX-28: Rep. Cuellar Officially Wins — The tight Democratic primary and runoff campaign featuring veteran Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) and attorney and 2020 congressional candidate Jessica Cisneros has finally come to an official end. The Texas Secretary of State has reported the final results of the runoff recount. Counting the ballots again actually increased Cuellar’s lead by eight votes. The final counts shows a 22,901 to 22,612 margin in favor of Rep. Cuellar, a spread of 289 votes, or 50.3 percent of the runoff electorate.

Rep. Cuellar now advances into a general election against former Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) staff member Cassy Garcia. This could become a competitive general election in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+7. Though Garcia will have the ability to run a credible campaign, Rep. Cuellar is now viewed as the favorite to win a 10th term.

Governor

Florida: Crist Rebounds With Substantial Lead — A surprising poll released earlier in June (Global Strategy Group; June 8-13; 600 likely Florida Democratic primary voters; live interview) found state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried pulling to within a 38-34 percent margin against US representative and former Gov. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg). Now, a new St. Pete Polls survey (June 16-17; 1,007 likely Florida Democratic primary voters; interactive voice response system) posts Crist back to a more substantial lead, 49-24 percent. The Florida primary is scheduled for Aug. 23. The Democratic winner will then challenge Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

Gov. DeWine’s Primary Trouble

By Jim Ellis

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R)

Jan. 28, 2022 — The Ohio Republican gubernatorial race has been rather quiet to this point, but it appears the May 3 primary is beginning to get interesting.

A Fabrizio Lee research firm survey (Jan. 11-13; 800 Ohio Republican primary voters and Independents who choose to vote in the Republican primary, live interview) finds Ohio GOP Gov. Mike DeWine, one of the leading 2020 COVID shutdown governors, in trouble for re-nomination against his Republican primary opponent, former Congressman Jim Renacci.

According to the poll results, Renacci would top Gov. DeWine in his quest for re-nomination by a relatively substantial 46-38 percent margin. The governor falling under 40 percent among a voting sample within his own party is certainly a warning sign. It appears what was thought to be a relatively minor primary challenge is transforming into a highly competitive contest.

Earlier in the month, the Harris Poll (Jan. 4; 1,146 likely Ohio Republican primary voters, online) tested the Ohio primary and found the two contenders tied at 42 percent, possibly the first public tangible indication of the incumbent’s weakness within his own party.

Of Renacci’s 46 percent support in the Fabrizio Lee study, 22 of the 46 said they would “definitely” vote for the GOP intra-party challenger. Another 19 percent said they would “probably” back him, with the final five percent saying they are “leaning” toward the former congressman. Turning to DeWine’s supporters, 20 percent of his 38 percent said they would “definitely” vote for the governor, 16 percent retorted “probably” so, with the final two percent indicating they are “leaning” toward the incumbent.

Furthermore, Gov. DeWine’s score on the accompanying re-elect question is troublesome for any incumbent. A total of 33 percent from his own party said “I will definitely vote against Mike DeWine for governor regardless of who runs against him in the Republican primary” as compared to just 14 percent of Republicans and Republican voting Independents who said “I will definitely vote to re-elect Mike DeWine for governor, regardless of who runs against him in the Republican primary.”

Looking at the extremes on such a question is telling, and the fact that DeWine sees his opponent’s hard-core supporters more than doubling the number of his own strong backers is a major warning sign indicating that he could face losing the party nomination if this pattern is verified and continues.

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Ciattarelli, McAuliffe Win Respective Primaries for Governor in NJ, VA

Jack Ciattarelli , New Jersey

By Jim Ellis

June 9, 2021 — As expected, former Virginia governor, Terry McAuliffe, and ex-New Jersey state assemblyman, Jack Ciattarelli, won their respective Democratic and Republican primaries for governor last night in the two states holding major 2021 elections.

McAuliffe will face Republican Glenn Youngkin, who was nominated in a May hybrid party convention, while Ciattarelli will challenge Garden State Gov. Phil Murphy (D), who seeks a second term.

Former Virginia governor, Terry McAuliffe

Virginia, which is the only state that limits its governors to one consecutive term, sees McAuliffe, also a former Democratic National Committee chairman, returning to the campaign trail after a break in service. He was governor from 2013-2017, yielding to current Gov. Ralph Northam (D) four years ago. In last night’s vote, McAuliffe captured 62.3 percent of the vote against four challengers including scandal tainted Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax who attracted less than 18,000 votes (3.5 percent) and finished a poor fourth.

When compared to the 2017 Democratic primary, the 2021 cycle turnout lagged. Once the final votes are posted, it will be clear that Democratic participation was down approximately 10 percent from four years ago. This is largely because the governor’s race was not particularly competitive. It has been a foregone conclusion for months that McAuliffe would easily capture the party nomination.

The lieutenant governor’s contest went to state Delegate Hala Ayala (D-Woodbridge) as she defeated fellow state Delegate Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke) 39-25 percent, in a field comprised of six candidates. The attorney general’s race was relatively close and showed weakness for incumbent Mark Herring as he defeated state Delegate Jay Jones (D-Norfolk), 56-43 percent, a poor showing for a two-term incumbent in his own party. The primary result suggests that Herring could find himself in a general election battle with GOP nominee Jason Miyares, a state Delegate from Virginia Beach.

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NM-1: A Pattern?

By Jim Ellis

Albuquerque, New Mexico-anchored NM-1 Congressional District

June 4, 2021 — Several media reports — typified by an MSNBC website analysis article that Steve Benen authored after Tuesday’s New Mexico special election — are trying to make the point that Melanie Stansbury’s landslide victory is a potential benchmark for future Democratic victories. Such a conclusion is a stretch.

The two-pronged premise is that Stansbury was so strong that she even ran ahead of President Biden’s performance in the district, and that the Republican campaign’s emphasis on the crime problem and the national effort to defund the police proved a political failure.

While Stansbury, a two-term state representative, scored a 60-36 percent win in the Albuquerque anchored congressional district that former Rep. Deb Haaland (D) resigned to become US Interior Secretary, her performance is not unusual. In fact, her vote total was less than two points above the mean average Democratic congressional percentage since the party converted the seat from the Republicans back in 2008.

To the argument that Stansbury’s victory margin was larger than President Biden’s 60-37 percent spread against then-President Trump, and it was only one percentage point better, it is not unusual for a House campaign to outperform the top of the ticket. In most instances, the congressional winner is better known than his or her competitor, has greater funding and outside support, and is consistently in position to overwhelm the opposition. Such is rarely the case in a national presidential campaign or in a major statewide contest for senator or governor.

The crime issue was certainly a focal point of Republican nominee Mark Moores, an Albuquerque state senator. The national party, however, did very little to support Moores, virtually conceding the race from the outset based upon the voting history here for more than a decade.

For an underdog candidate in Moores position, emphasizing the crime issue, on paper, made sense as a point of attack. Albuquerque, according to FBI statistics has the ninth worst violent crime statistics in the country, meaning 1,352 crimes per 100,000 residents according to the latest available figures (2019). To put this number in perspective, Chicago, which has drawn much national media attention for its high murder rate, ranks 31st on the same scale, at 943 crimes per 100,000 city residents.

Perhaps one reason the crime issue did not propel the Moores candidacy is there was no serious effort to defund the Albuquerque Police Department, nor is there the sharp racial tension that is present in some of the cities where we saw serious problems along with a local movement to reorder policing.

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