Tag Archives: Donald Trump

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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NM-1 Special Election Tuesday

New Mexico state Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D)

By Jim Ellis

June 2, 2021 — The latest in the series of special elections to fill US House vacancies was held yesterday, and the race has an obvious favorite.

On the ballot: state Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-Albuquerque); state Sen. Mark Moores (R-Albuquerque); ex-Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, a former Republican who is running as an Independent; and Libertarian Party nominee Chris Manning.

The major parties nominated their candidates in special convention soon after incumbent Rep. Deb Haaland (D-Albuquerque) resigned to accept her appointment as Interior Secretary in President Biden’s cabinet.

Rep. Stansbury prevailed in a close multi-candidate Democratic convention, ultimately defeating state Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez (D-Albuquerque) in a final round of delegate voting. Many believed winning the Democratic convention was tantamount to claiming the special election. Sen. Moores was an easy winner on the Republican side.

All indications pointed to a Stansbury victory, which is what played out last evening. The only recent publicly released poll before yesterday’s election, one that RRH Elections conducted (May 18-21; 555 likely NM-1 voters, interactive voice response system), found the Democratic nominee holding a 49-33 percent lead over Moores.

Secondly, the district has moved sharply to the left over the past decade, as the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections suggest. In the ’16 campaign, Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump here, 52-35 percent. This past November, the Biden margin over ex-President Trump soared to 60-37 percent. The last Republican to represent the 1st District was former Rep. Heather Wilson (R-Albuquerque) who left the House in 2008 to run unsuccessfully for US Senate.

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Another Close Michigan Race

By Jim Ellis

Detroit Police Chief James Craig

May 18, 2021 — As it is becoming clear that retiring Detroit Police Chief James Craig (R) is preparing to challenge Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) next year, Target Insyght, polling for the Michigan Information & Research Service (MIRS), tested the potential general election pairing in a recent study. The results portend another tight Wolverine State campaign.

The TI poll (May 9-11; 800 registered Michigan voters, live interview) finds Gov. Whitmer leading Chief Craig by a six-point, 48-42 percent, spread. More importantly, the survey identified key areas of weakness for the governor, ones that could potentially allow a GOP contender to construct a reasonable path to victory. Chief Craig has not yet announced his candidacy but is expected to do so once he officially retires from the police force on June 1.

Where Chief Craig may have a significant advantage in such a race is his potential ability to draw more votes from the African American community particularly in heavily Democratic Detroit.

While President Biden averaged 79.1 percent of the vote in Congressional Districts 13 and 14 that encompass the city, the Target Insyght poll finds Gov. Whitmer pulling only 64 percent among black voters, while the outgoing police chief attracts 36 percent. In Detroit, 78.3 percent of the population is African American according to the latest publicly available Census Bureau estimates (July 2019).

Gov. Whitmer’s bigger weakness, however, lies in the area of jobs and rebuilding the state’s economy. According to this issue segmentation, voters would favor Chief Craig over Gov. Whitmer by a whopping 63-30 percent margin.

John James, the African American Republican who has run highly competitive campaigns in the last two consecutive Michigan Senate races, was also tested but he doesn’t perform as well as Chief Craig in a general election pairing. While the governor tops Chief Craig by six points, as mentioned above, James trails by 10 percentage points, 49-39 percent.

In the Republican primary, however, it is James who would have a clear advantage. If he and Chief Craig oppose each other for the 2022 GOP gubernatorial nomination, the former man would begin the race with a 36-21 percent advantage in the primary according to this particular survey.

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Add IL-17 to the List of Vacancies

By Jim Ellis

May 5, 2021 — Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Moline), just emerging from her closest re-election victory in November – a 52-48 percent win over Republican Esther Joy King – surprisingly announced Friday that she will not seek re-election to a sixth term next year. Bustos was the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair for the 2020 cycle and appeared positioned for further leadership or strong committee positions in the future.

Her absence in the next cycle from a state that is losing a congressional district means her politically marginal western Illinois CD (Trump ’20, 50-48 percent; Trump ’16, 47.4 – 46.7 percent) that stretches throughout the Iowa border region and is anchored in the area known as the Quad Cities, could drastically change in the next redistricting.

For her part, King immediately declared her candidacy for the open seat election. The Bustos retirement coupled with Rep. Charlie Crist’s (D-FL) expected gubernatorial announcement would create 16 open or vacant US House seats, eight from each party.

TX-6: Double R Runoff

By Jim Ellis

Susan Wright

May 4, 2021 — Republicans are guaranteed to hold Texas’ vacant 6th Congressional District in the succeeding runoff election as two GOP candidates advanced from the 23-person jungle primary election on Saturday night. Susan Wright, widow of late Congressman Ron Wright (R-Arlington), finished first, as expected, with just over 19 percent of the vote.

Accompanying Wright into the runoff contest is freshman state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie). He scored a vote percentage of 13.9 in slipping past the top Democrat, 2018 congressional nominee Jana Lynne Sanchez, who finished just 354 votes behind in third place.

Ellzey was elected to the legislature in November, but immediately jumped into the congressional race when Rep. Wright passed away. In 2018, Ellzey ran for the 6th District open seat when veteran Rep. Joe Barton (R) retired, finishing second and forcing Rep. Wright, then the Tarrant County Tax Assessor, into a runoff election. Rep. Wright won the runoff 52-48 percent, which was a much closer finish than initially anticipated.

The Saturday night primary proved big for Republicans. Combined, their candidates received 61.9 percent of the 78,374 votes cast according to the initial final count. Democrats finished well below expectations with only a combined 37.3 percent split among their 10 candidates.

These totals are quite different than Rep. Wright’s victory margins in both 2020 and 2018, when he recorded almost identical splits of 53-44 percent and 53-45 percent, respectively. Former President Donald Trump carried the district with a 51-48 percent spread in November but a much stronger 54-42 percent in 2016.

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