Tag Archives: Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee

McCain: A Bigger Target

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 2, 2016 — It is clear that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is in a more precarious political position the day after his primary than the day before. On Tuesday, the veteran Arizona senator recorded only a 52-39 percent victory over his top challenger, former state Sen. Kelli Ward. Two other Republican candidates, Alex Meluskey and Clair Van Steenwyk, received a combined 9.1 percent of the GOP primary vote: 5.5 percent for Meluskey and the remainder for Van Steenwyk.

But Tuesday’s underlying numbers illuminate what is likely a greater McCain vulnerability for the fall campaign against 1st District Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff): a weak Republican base.

Looking at the state’s 15 counties, Ward actually defeated McCain in three of them, Cochise, Navajo, and Mohave. Additionally, the senator only carried Apache County by 75 votes. Together, this suggests McCain is doing poorly on the Indian reservations, which is not unusual since the region is a Democratic stronghold, but these votes came from within his own party.

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McCain Complains

By Jim Ellis

May 9, 2016 — Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) said late last week that he is “worried that [Donald] Trump as the GOP nominee puts his own seat in play”. Later in the day McCain partially walked back his comments by saying he would vote for Trump.

McCain’s observation about his own re-election status is both right and wrong. He’s correct in detecting that his seat is competitive this year, and a sleeper race for the Democrats, but erroneous in attributing the reason to Donald Trump’s impending national presidential candidacy as the Republican nominee.

The Arizona Senate race may well be in play, but it has been trending that way for some time and before Trump became a serious fixture in the presidential campaign. In surveys dating back to mid-January, McCain was seen as dropping into a virtual tie with Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-1), his presumptive general election opponent.

The Behavioral Research Center tested the Grand Canyon State electorate in January and again in April. In between, Arizona-based Merrill Polling also fielded a survey (March 7-11). Two of the three polls found McCain leading Kirkpatrick by just one point. The other found the pair tied.

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The Ohio Senate Race:
A Strange Beginning

Oct. 16, 2015 — So far, the Ohio Senate campaign has begun as the new election cycle’s most peculiar contest. Sen. Rob Portman (R), seeking a second term, is leading in every aspect of the campaign but the polls. According to the last four surveys, former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) has a small edge over the Ohio senator, who was previously the Director of the US Office of Management and Budget, and a Cincinnati congressman.

Just last week the Harstad Strategic Group, polling for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, released early September data giving Strickland a 46-43 percent lead over Sen. Portman. Interestingly, Quinnipiac University, polling at the end of September and into early October, found exactly the same split: again Strickland topping Portman, 46-43 percent.

But, that’s not all. In Quinnipiac’s August version, they posted Strickland to a 44-41 percent advantage following their late June study that gave the former governor an even larger 46-40 percent margin. It was commonly viewed at the time that this first data finding Strickland with the edge was potentially an anomaly, but seeing other findings that supported the original result requires further examination before such a conclusion could be drawn. The last public poll to show Portman ahead came in early June from Public Policy Polling. In that survey the senator held a 43-41 percent lead.

The ballot test tilting toward Strickland makes little sense when we see that the same polls reported the incumbent’s personal favorability and job approval scores as being good. While the June Q-Poll found Strickland up six points, Portman scored a job approval of 49:28 percent and a personal rating of 43:21 percent.

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Surprising Colorado Announcement

Oct. 2, 2015 — An unexpected announcement was made in Colorado yesterday, as Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, the current top Republican recruit to challenge Sen. Michael Bennet (D), decided to forego a statewide run and will instead seek re-election.

This is quite an about-face from all preliminary signals detected last week. It seemed all but certain that Brauchler would enter the campaign giving Republicans a man they describe as a top-notch challenger to battle Sen. Bennet. But, would that actually have been the case?

Brauchler was the prosecuting attorney in the James Holmes case, the young man who gunned down 12 people and wounded 70 others in an Aurora, CO movie theater rampage during the summer of 2012. After many delays, the Holmes trial finally began on April 27 this year, and lasted until July 16. Braucher summoned 9,000 juror candidates from which to draw a dozen who would serve on the jury and several more as alternates.

He would later reject Holmes’ offer to plead guilty in exchange for not being given a death sentence. Brauchler spurned the plea offer, and then ultimately failed to secure the death penalty sentence because jurors were not unanimous in their opinion that Holmes should die. The perpetrator was eventually sentenced to 12 life sentences without the possibility of parole, and then an additional 3,318 years for the 140 attempted murder counts.

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One Republican Win, and
One Republican In

May 6, 2015 — The season’s first special election concluded last night in New York’s 11th Congressional District with little fanfare as Richmond County District Attorney Dan Donovan (R) easily rode to a landslide victory in former Rep. Michael Grimm’s (R) vacated seat. Grimm resigned at the beginning of the term after pleading guilty to federal tax evasion.

The election drew only 39,867 voters for an abysmally low turnout percentage of 9.8 percent. Donovan, who was viewed as the prohibitive favorite here since the special election cycle began, captured 59 percent of the vote compared to New York City Councilman Vincent Gentile’s (D-Brooklyn) 40 percent. Green Party nominee James Lane picked up the final 1.3 percent, or 521 raw votes. Donovan carried the Republican, Conservative, and Independence Party ballot lines, while Gentile held the Democratic and Working Families Party designations.

The Democrats barely contested this special election, vowing to wage a real campaign in this Staten Island-Brooklyn domain during the regular 2016 election cycle under what will likely be a full turnout model in the presidential year. Now that representative-elect Donovan will be the incumbent, doing so becomes more unlikely, however, as the national Democrats will move toward more logical targets elsewhere.
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Capps Out in California;
The Cortez Masto Effect In Nevada

April 10, 2015 — Veteran California Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara), aged 77, announced Wednesday that she will not seek re-election to an eleventh term in office next year for her CA-24 seat. The congresswoman entered the House via a special election victory in 1998 after her husband, Rep. Walter Capps (D-CA), passed away suddenly; he was first elected in 1996 but suffered a fatal heart attack at the Washington Dulles Airport less than a year after winning his seat. Lois Capps finished her husband’s term and has been re-elected ever since.

The 24th District contains Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties, along with part of Ventura. The California Citizens Redistricting Commission made this district much more competitive as Capps’ 55 and 52 percent victory margins in the past two elections suggest. The 2001 congressional map created a coastal district for Capps (then numbered CA-23), slanting the seat to the ideological left in order to help the Democratic incumbent hold the seat. Thanks in large part to map construction, Capps had little in the way of challenges throughout the decade.

But it was becoming clearer that Republicans have a chance to convert the new 24th as a direct result of including all of the more conservative San Luis Obispo County in the district. Republican Chris Mitchum, son of deceased actor Robert Mitchum, pulled 48 percent against the congresswoman in the last election despite spending less than one-quarter the amount of money of his opponent. A stronger candidate could possibly have done better perhaps even scored an upset over Capps in what became a very favorable Republican year.
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The Sestak Factor in the
Pennsylvania Senate Race

April 7, 2015 — The Pennsylvania US Senate campaign, a race that could well decide which party controls the majority in the next Congress, is beginning in bizarre fashion. While many people think that first-term Sen. Pat Toomey (R) is highly vulnerable under a presidential year turnout model, the Democratic situation is suspect, at best.

Former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA-7), who served two terms from Delaware County in the Philadelphia suburbs after unseating veteran Rep. Curt Weldon (R) in 2006, has been running his 2016 Senate campaign virtually since the time he suffered a 51-49 percent statewide loss to Toomey in 2010. Sestak officially announced his new effort well before the 2014 election.

Normally, having a nominee who lost by just two points return to challenge the opposite party’s incumbent in the next campaign is a positive occurrence, but relations between Sestak and the national and state Democratic Party leadership are so poor that such is not the case.
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