Tag Archives: Francis Conole

NY Overreach = GOP Majority

CNN’s New York state redistricting map (more coverage on CNN)

By Jim Ellis — Nov. 22, 2022

House

New York State: Redistricting — There is an argument to be made that the New York Democratic redistricting brain trust helped create the new Republican US House majority. With their over-reach on the original map that the legislature and governor enacted, the end result became so egregious that even the Democratic lower and upper courts rejected the congressional map as a pure partisan gerrymander.

The original enacted plan would have yielded a 22D-4R partisan split in the NY congressional delegation of 26 members, thus costing the Republicans four of the eight Empire State seats they control in the current Congress.

Once the votes were cast on Nov. 8 in the districts that the judges’ special master drew to replace the legislature’s plan, the end result saw Republicans not losing four seats but rather gaining three in relation to the current map and seven when compared to the Democrats’ original draw.

Therefore, instead of the intended 22D-4R plan, the New York delegation now headed to Washington is comprised of 15 Democrats and 11 Republicans. With a small Republican majority of what ultimately may be 220-222 seats once the outstanding California and Alaska races are finally projected, the NY swing is arguably the difference in determining which party controls the House.

The Democrats’ map would have reduced the Republicans to just one seat on Long Island, taken the lone district they have in New York City, turned the GOP’s Syracuse seat strongly Democratic, and collapsed the southwestern Upstate seat of resigned Rep. Tom Reed (R) as the lost district in national reapportionment.

You will remember that New York lost a congressional seat by just 89 people when the Census Bureau announced each state’s congressional district compilation under the national reapportionment formula.

After striking down the legislature’s map and replacing it with their own special master’s plan, the court in effect restored much of New York to its historic congressional district pattern.

Under the legislature’s plan, Long Island’s 1st District (Rep. Lee Zeldin) was drawn from the far eastern part of Suffolk County all the way into Queens. This led to stashing a preponderance of the region’s Republican voters in Rep. Andrew Garbarino’s (R-Sayville) South Shore 2nd District. The concept then allowed the map architects to make Districts 3 and 4, both open in 2022 with Reps. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) running unsuccessfully for governor and Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) retiring, safely Democratic. The court undid this design.

Now, the 1st District returns to a Suffolk County anchored seat, a CD that Republican Nick LaLota, a former local official and Navy veteran, won to succeed Rep. Zeldin. Rep. Garbarino is back but with a less Republican South Shore seat, which then created a marginal North Shore District 3 seat that Republican George Santos won 54-46 percent in a domain that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates D+4.

The biggest surprise in New York, and perhaps the country, came in Rep. Rice’s open 4th CD, where Republican Anthony D’Esposito defeated heavily favored Democrat Laura Gillen, 52-48 percent, in a district that actually became more Democratic under the court map at D+10.

The other Republican gains came in the Hudson Valley, where state Assemblyman Mike Lawler (R-South Salem) upset Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chairman Sean Patrick Maloney (D-Cold Spring) in a D+7 District 17, and Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro (R) rebounded from a special congressional election loss in August to claim a 51-49 percent win in a new 19th District rated as R+1.

In the 18th District, state Assemblyman Colin Schmitt (R) came within a percentage point of sweeping the Hudson Valley seats for the GOP, but Rep. Pat Ryan (D-Gardiner) held onto the 18th CD seat after he had won the 19th District special election three months earlier.

The Republican victory string ended with tech executive Brandon Williams (R) defeating former intelligence officer Francis Conole (D) by a percentage point to hold the open Syracuse seat, and former New York Republican Party Nick Langworthy easily won the new 23rd District from which Rep. Reed resigned and Rep. Joe Sempolinski (R-Canisteo) is serving as a caretaker.

The New York 2022 election cycle illustrates just how important map drawing and judicial decisions are in determining US House elections. The New York courts, for example, created a much more competitive political playing field, which certainly led to different results than we would have seen under the legislature’s partisan draw.

Considering that the US Supreme Court is likely to make landmark Voting Rights Act rulings on the Alabama and North Carolina cases before June ends next year, we will likely see new redistricting maps being drawn in several states, and New York could be one of those places. Any newly constructed map would take effect in the 2024 election. A major Supreme Court decision will add yet another dimension to what already promises to be another hot House campaign cycle coming in the new term.

Katie Hobbs Bests Kari Lake in Ariz. Gov Race; Three More House Races Called (2 in AZ; 1 in NY)

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022

Governor

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs

Arizona — In the governor’s race, it has now become official that Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has defeated former television news anchor Kari Lake, the Trump-supported GOP candidate.

Despite trailing in polling as the race headed into election day, Hobbs was able to secure a tight 50.4 – 49.6 percent win in converting the Arizona governorship to the Democratic column. Nationally, the Democrats gained a net two gubernatorial chairs, winning in Arizona, Maryland, and Massachusetts, and losing in Nevada.

House

Balance of Power — According to the CNN Elections site, 215 seats have now been called for the Republicans as compared to 204 for the Democrats. Fox News has the Republicans at 217 — one seat away from the majority — with a tally of 205 for Democrats. Republicans are now very close to claiming the House majority.

Ten of the still outstanding districts lie in California, and it could be weeks rather than days as to when we will see conclusive results. California election officials have 33 days after the election to receive and count the ballots before certifying a winner. Considering that all mailed ballots, which is how the overwhelming number of people vote in the Golden State, are verified, the count requires an inordinate amount of time to complete.

If the Republican leads hold in the races where their candidate currently has the advantage, the party division will yield a 221R-214D majority. This split would, of course, give the GOP their majority but with a far smaller margin than they had anticipated. With some prognosticators and television commentators having previously believed that the GOP majority could reach well into the 240s, the smaller majority will be viewed as a setback for the party despite them achieving the ultimate goal of wresting control away from the Democrats.

Five of the Republicans’ leads are incumbent races. California Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Granite Bay/Sacramento) is the lone non-incumbent GOP leader and favored to hold his edge in his R+8 rated 3rd District.

Arizona — A trio of House races came off the board last night beginning with Arizona Republican GOP Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills) who was projected as a close victor over businessman Jevin Hodge (D) in a Maricopa County district that is much more Democratic than the congressman’s previous seat.

Turning to the Grand Canyon State’s southeast corner, former Hispanic Chamber of Commerce executive and ex-gubernatorial aide Juan Ciscomani (R) has been declared the winner of the open 6th District, thus flipping the seat from which Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Tucson) is retiring. Ciscomani defeated former Democratic state Sen. Kirsten Engel.

Along with Republican Eli Crane previously defeating Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Sedona) in the new northern Arizona 2nd District, the GOP gains a net two seats in the Grand Canyon State delegation and will hold a 6R-3D advantage in the federal delegation.

New York — Turning to the Syracuse, NY area, first-time candidate Brandon Williams (R), a tech company executive and former Navy veteran, defeated former US Intelligence analyst and previous congressional candidate Francis Conole (D) in the seat that Rep. John Katko (R-Syracuse) has represented for four terms. Katko decided not to seek re-election this year.

Double Republican Race Brewing in Louisiana; Zeldin Closing Within Two Points in NY; Major Race Change in OR

By Jim Ellis — Oct. 12, 2022

House

Louisiana Rep. Clay Higgins (R-Lafayette)

LA-3: Double Republican Race Brewing — We haven’t focused much on the Louisiana races this year largely because the state’s primary election runs concurrently with the general election. Using the jungle primary format, candidates can win outright in the one election if they command majority support. If all contenders fall below the 50 percent marker in a particular race, the top two finishers advance to a December runoff, this year scheduled for Dec. 10.

Former Rep. Charles Boustany (R), Rep. Clay Higgins’ (R-Lafayette) GOP predecessor in the 3rd District seat, on Monday endorsed another Republican in the jungle format, prosecutor Holden Hoggatt. The move suggests we could see a late developing double-Republican race in Cajun Country, though Rep. Higgins, a former police captain who came to fame for his tough law enforcement videos, largely has become a folk hero in southern Louisiana and will be difficult to dislodge. Rep. Higgins has averaged 62 percent of the vote in his two re-election campaigns, winning both contests outright.

NY-22: Countering Data — Last week, Siena College, partnering with Spectrum News, released a survey (Sept. 22-28; 453 likely NY-22 general election voters) that pushed Republican Brandon Williams to a five-point, 45-40 percent, edge over former intelligence agency analyst Francis Conole (D).

The Conole campaign released countering data on Monday, but their Global Strategy Group survey was commissioned considerably earlier (Sept. 15-19; 400 likely NY-22 general election voters) than the Siena College poll and only showed a slight 43-42 percent edge for the Democratic nominee. Thus, releasing a dated study with the candidate having such a small advantage suggests that the Siena data is likely a more realistic depiction of the current political situation. The new Syracuse-anchored NY-22 is a politically marginal open seat from which Republican Rep. John Katko is retiring.

Governor

New York: Zeldin Closing Within Two Points — The Trafalgar Group released a new Empire State survey that finds US Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley/East Long Island) trailing Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) by only a 45-43 percent margin, the closest of any NY gubernatorial poll during this election cycle. The study was conducted over the Sept. 30–Oct. 3 period and surveyed 1,087 likely general election voters through multiple sampling techniques. Earlier, the McLaughlin & Associates firm (Sept. 21-25; 800 likely New York general election voters) found a 51-45 percent spread.

Siena College, polling in the period before the aforementioned (Sept. 16-25; 655 likely New York general election voters) projected a much larger Hochul lead, 54-37 percent. It will be interesting to see if this latest trend proves to be an anomaly or the beginning of a directional change within the general election contest.

Nebraska: Closer Than Expected — The open Nebraska governor’s race has not attracted much attention in the general election cycle, but a new Data Targeting poll projects the race between University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen (R) and state Sen. Carol Blood (D-Bellevue) is closer than most observers might have expected. The DT survey (Sept. 29-28; 1,340 likely Nebraska general election voters; interactive voice response system & text) shows Pillen holding a 48-41 percent advantage over Sen. Blood. It is likely the ultimate spread will favor the Republican nominee to a greater degree, but this first glimpse into the race suggests that both campaigns will pick up the pace as we move closer to election day. Early voting in the Cornhusker State began yesterday.

Oregon: Major Race Change — Independent Betsy Johnson’s largest contributor is Nike co-founder Phil Knight, who has given the former state legislator’s gubernatorial campaign over $3.7 million. Now, however, Knight is changing allegiance. He announced plans to contribute $1 million to Republican Catherine Drazan’s campaign. The change is likely due to recent surveys finding Drazan taking a small lead over Democratic former state House Speaker Tina Kotek, with Johnson beginning to lag well behind.

The most recent survey, from Emerson College (Sept. 29-Oct. 1; 796 likely Oregon general election voters; multiple sampling techniques), sees Drazan topping Kotek and Johnson, 36-34-19 percent, respectively. Additionally, Drazan has developed a small lead in the six most recent surveys from five different polling firms.

House Updates – Including Gerrymandering: AL, CO, NM, NJ & NY

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022

House

Alabama redistricting map

Redistricting: Supreme Court Hears Alabama Case — In one of the first cases on the US Supreme Court’s new term docket, oral arguments were heard for the Alabama racial gerrymandering redistricting case, which could result in a landmark ruling relating to future interpretation of the Voting Rights Act.

The state of Alabama is arguing its reasons for keeping the state’s congressional map, which features one strong majority minority district. The US government is arguing that a second minority seat can be drawn. The presentations consumed more time than usual for Supreme Court oral arguments, and now it is up to the nine justices to craft a definitive ruling, which will be released sometime before June next year.

In November, the high court will hear oral arguments on the North Carolina redistricting case, which will lead to a definitive ruling pertaining to judicial power over the constitutional authority of state legislatures.

CO-3: Rep. Boebert’s Slight Lead — Despite representing a relatively safely Republican western slope 3rd Congressional District, Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt) looks to have a competitive race on her hands as we begin the campaign cycle’s final weeks. Colorado-based Keating Research conducted a poll for the Adam Frisch (D) campaign (Sept. 28-Oct. 2; 500 likely CO-3 voters; live interview & text). The ballot test results found Rep. Boebert’s lead shrinking to 47-45 percent, down from Keating’s 49-42 percent spread detected in its July survey.

Expect to see countering numbers from either the Boebert campaign or the National Republican Congressional Committee to soon be released.

NM-2: Gerrymandered District Yields Dem a Slight Edge — The Global Strategy Group, polling for the Gabe Vasquez (D) campaign, tested the NM-2 electorate to determine the state of the race featuring freshman Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-Alamogordo) and Vasquez, a Las Cruces City councilman. The GSG survey (Sept. 20-26; 500 likely NM-2 voters; live interview) sees Vasquez pulling ahead of Rep. Herrell, 45-43 percent.

The result is not particularly surprising in that the Democratic legislature and governor crafted the new 2nd CD to flip. Before redistricting, the FiveThirtyEight data organization rated the seat, R+14. Post-redistricting, we see a D+4 categorization. This district will still yield a close finish, and voter turnout will tell the ultimate tale.

NJ-7: Rep. Malinowski Internal Poll Shows Dead Heat — The Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research organization conducted a congressional poll for two-term Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill), who is again in a tight battle with former state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R). In 2020, Kean held Rep. Malinowski to a 51-49 percent re-election win in a district that was more Democratic than the new 7th. The GQR survey (Sept. 20-26; 500 likely NJ-7 general election voters) sees both candidates now attracting 48 percent of the vote. The Democratic pollster, however, also detects a partisan generic party label split of 50-45 percent favoring the Republicans. NJ-7 is a key Republican conversion opportunity seat.

NY-22: Republican Breaks Ahead — The Syracuse-anchored 22nd District is open in the 2022 election cycle because Rep. John Katko (R-Syracuse), one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Trump, is not seeking a fifth term. Ironically, the court-drawn map actually makes this district two points more Republican than the seat the Rep. Katko consistently won.

Siena College conducted an independent poll for the Spectrum News Service (Sept. 25-28; 453 likely NY-22 general election voters) and sees Republican technology company executive Brandon Williams jumping out to a five point, 45-40 percent, advantage over former intelligence agency analyst Francis Conole (D).

With the respondents believing the country is on the wrong track by a 25:63 percent margin, it is not particularly surprising to also see Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) falling behind Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley/East Long Island) in this Upstate District. NY-22 is a must-win for the GOP in November.