Tag Archives: Iowa

The Open Seat Review

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 9, 2019 — With so many seats coming open during the past 10 days, it’s time to review exactly which districts will be incumbent-less for the coming election and how many are truly competitive.

With Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Heath/Rockwall) withdrawing from his nomination as Director of National Intelligence, it returned Texas’ 4th District to the incumbents’ list, but that move was quickly negated when fellow Texas Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Coppell/DFW Area) announced his retirement.

Taking those moves into consideration and including the two North Carolina special congressional elections that will be filled on Sept. 10, a total of 16 seats are open headed into the next election. Of the 16, Republicans hold, or last held in the case of the disputed NC-9 result from 2018, all but three of the open seats. Looking at the coming 16 campaigns, all can expect contested primaries in at least one party and seven look to be highly competitive during the general election.

Though the retirement action has been swift of late, the aggregate number of coming vacancies is still very low, especially when remembering that the number of cycle open seats throughout this decade has fallen between 47 and 64, inclusive.

The list below depicts the open House districts and their current status:


AL-1: Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile)
• Trump ’16: 63-34 | • Romney ’12: 62-37

This southern Alabama seat will be settled in the GOP nomination contest. A run-off after the March 3 primary is likely and will likely feature a two-person combination from the group comprised of former state Sen. Bill Hightower, state Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile), Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl, and businessman Wes Lambert. The eventual GOP nominee wins the seat in the November 2020 election.
Safe Republican


AL-2: Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery)
• Trump ’16: 65-33 | • Romney ’12: 63-36

Rep. Roby was one of the surprise retirement announcements, but her leaving the seat open for the next election doesn’t cause the Republicans any harm. Expect a crowded Republican primary and a two-person run-off to ensue. The eventual Republican nominee wins the seat. So far, state Rep. Will Dismukes (R-Prattville) and former state Rep. Barry Moore are the most prominent candidates.
Safe Republican


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Seven State Polls

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 2, 2019 — In the latter half of July, several different pollsters conducted Democratic presidential primary polls in seven important primary states. In Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, California, Texas, Michigan, and Illinois — all states whose voters will cast primary ballots on or before March 17 — contain an aggregate 1,012 first-ballot delegates.

The seven polls give us an idea as to how Democratic primary participants in the corresponding states would vote if their presidential nomination elections had been in mid to late July. Additionally, we make delegate dispersion projections from the polling data to the qualified candidates and attempt to determine whether any one individual could garner the 50 percent delegate support necessary to claim a first ballot victory.

The Firehouse/Optimus organization polled in Iowa (July 23-25; 630 likely Iowa Democratic caucus voters), New Hampshire (July 23-25; 587 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters), and South Carolina (July 23-25; 554 registered South Carolina voters). The Public Policy Institute of California surveyed the Golden State Democratic primary (July 14-23; 766 likely California Democratic primary voters). The University of Texas at Tyler (July 24-27; 554 registered Texas voters), Climate Nexus (July 14-17; 324 likely Michigan Democratic primary voters), and Victory Research (July 26-29; 1,200 likely Illinois Democratic primary voters) tested the Texas, Michigan, and Illinois electorates.

For the purposes of this exercise, let us assume that all of these surveys accurately depict how the Democratic electorates in each of these states would vote. Let us further assume that the congressional district delegate apportionment directly corresponds to the at-large state vote.

Doing so allows us to make delegate apportionment estimates for each of these states with the understanding that the conclusions are not precise. They do, however, give us an idea as to how the delegate dispersion might break. Understanding that several of the polled minor candidates will not be on the ballot when actual voting occurs allows us to project additional votes going to the close finishers, those at 13-14% in these polls. Doing so likely boosts them to the 15 percent threshold that party rules mandate as a qualification requirement for delegate votes.

The aggregate total of 1,012 delegates from these seven states represents just under 27 percent of the entire first ballot universe at the Democratic National Convention, so the combined tested states are significant in terms of the number of delegates they possess and their voting schedule position.

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Michigan Rep. Paul Mitchell to Retire:
“Rhetoric Overwhelms Policy …”

Michigan Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Dryden)

By Jim Ellis

July 26, 2019 — Michigan Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Dryden) who represents the eastern part of the state known as “the thumb of Michigan”, announced Tuesday that he will not seek a third term in the US House.

His reason for departing after what will be only four years in office and spending over $7 million of this own money to win election to Congress over three campaigns is to spend more time with his family because of his special needs son. Rep. Mitchell also expresses displeasure and frustration with Washington because, he says, “rhetoric overwhelms policy, and politics consumes much of the oxygen in this city.”

Rep. Mitchell was originally elected in 2016, replacing Rep. Candice Miller (R) when she retired after 14 years in the House. He won a five-way Republican primary that year with 38 percent support, or more than 8,000 votes beyond he and his closest competitor, state Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-Port Huron). Mitchell won the ’16 general election with a 63-32 percent margin and was re-elected last year, 60-35 percent.

In his first venture into elective politics, Mitchell ran in the vacant 4th District when former Ways & Means Committee chairman Dave Camp (R-Midland) retired in 2014 after his time leading the panel had reached its term limit. In the three-way Republican primary, Mitchell lost 52-36 percent to current Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Midland). After the defeat, he moved across the state to Lapeer County, an area where Mitchell had business interests.

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Change Reasearch Three-State Polling Shows Interesting Results

By Jim Ellis

July 15, 2019 — Just before the July 4th holiday break Change Research conducted a series of research studies in three of the first four Democratic presidential caucus and primary states.

The firm tested either 420 or 421 likely Democratic nomination event voters in each place during the period of June 29-July 4: in Iowa (420 respondents), New Hampshire (420), and South Carolina (420).

Iowa is, as we know, the site of the first caucus vote, which is scheduled for Feb. 3, 2020. This will be followed by the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 11 and the South Carolina primary pegged for Saturday, Feb. 29. The Nevada Democratic electorate, with their caucus placed on the calendar for Saturday, Feb. 22, was not polled.

Part of the media coverage surrounding these surveys looks at the aggregate numbers that these three individual places produced. The three states are highly important because they, together, will set the race’s early tone. But, from a statistical perspective, the aggregate total has little bearing as to who would eventually become the Democratic nominee.

These aggregate Change Research numbers, however irrelevant to the actual race trajectory, have captured some attention because they are so close. The sum of the candidates’ support percentages from the combined three states, from a total of 1,261 respondents, find Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) leading the group with 19 percent apiece, closely followed by former Vice President Joe Biden at 18 percent, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) with 17 percent, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg posting a combined 15 percent preference. No other even candidate breaks the three percent level.

What carries much greater weight, however, is the individual candidates’ status in the individual early trend-setter states. As has been prevalent in Iowa’s electoral history, neighboring regional Midwestern candidates have typically done well in the first caucus. Such is the case again according to this Change Research poll.

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Biden’s Early Obstacle

By Jim Ellis

Former vice president and ex-Delaware senator Joe Biden

June 27, 2019 — One of the reasons that Hillary Clinton’s campaign began to come unglued in 2016 was failing to meet expectations in the early places.

Unfortunately for her, Iowa was always one of her weakest states and the fact that it is first on the voting schedule caused her air of inevitability to be pierced rather quickly.

As you may remember, Clinton won the Iowa Caucus, but the result was a virtual tie with Sen. Bernie Sanders, forcing the local committee people to decide some precinct results with the flip of a coin — tosses in which Clinton prevailed every time. With her inevitability veil coming off, Clinton then headed to New Hampshire where she would lose 60-38 percent.

Because the race winnowed to a two-person affair, Clinton was successfully able to rebound, scoring early victories in Nevada and South Carolina to get her campaign back on track.

Two new polls suggest that former Vice President Joe Biden may be facing a similar pattern in the early states, and being mired in a crowded field suggests we may see a different final result than what Clinton achieved.

Two new surveys suggest that Biden may already be weakening in the first two states. Though small in terms of first ballot delegate votes (Iowa, 41; New Hampshire, 24), the pair are critically important in casting early momentum. With 25 candidates now beginning the campaign, and at least six appearing viable, developing early momentum is more important than within the much smaller 2016 nomination field.

Change Research conducted the Iowa and New Hampshire polls (along with one in South Carolina where Biden has a comfortable 39-15-13-11 percent edge over Warren, Sanders, and Buttigieg) and their findings suggest that Biden could have some early trouble. Though the polling samples are small — 308 respondents for each state — the sample size may accurately reflect the diminutive voting universes found in the two places. All the surveys were conducted from June 17-20.

In Iowa, Biden leads, but with only a 27-20-18-17 percent margin over Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Sanders, while South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg posts a close 17 percent support. Having four candidates within 10 points suggests that any one of them could break out with a win, especially with the Feb. 3 Caucus still months away.

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The Early Delegate Projections

By Jim Ellis

June 25, 2019 — There have been several important state polls recently released that provide us data about where the Democratic presidential candidates stand in relation to popular preference. But that is only half the story.

In order to gauge where the candidates might stand in terms of delegate apportionment, we have taken the available published polls from 16 states and began extrapolating a reasonable delegate projection for each.

For purposes of this exercise, all of the polling data is considered accurate, even though in some instances such a conclusion is a stretch. Additionally, these projections were only based upon the at-large numbers but understand more than half of the delegates come from the state’s chosen districts (usually congressional district, though Texas uses their state Senate seats).

It is reasonable to believe, however, that the district apportionment will, in most cases, be similar to the statewide total. At this point, the at-large ratios are the only data set from which we can begin to draw statistical conclusions.

With that short background, the states and their most recent polling result are listed below along with our unofficial delegate projections listed in chronological order based upon voting schedule:

February 3

Iowa Caucus

(YouGov – May 31-June 12; 587 likely Iowa Democratic primary voters)
• First-Ballot Delegates: 41

Biden 30%
Sanders 22%
Warren 12%
Buttigieg 11%

Delegate Projection:

Biden 15
Sanders 11
Warren   8
Buttigieg   7

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2020 Open House Seats Review

By Jim Ellis

June 12, 2019 — Since the last national redistricting completed in 2011 for the 2012 election cycle, we have seen 222 US House seats come open, for a mean average of 55.5 per cycle during the eight-year period. Prior to this decade, the average House open seat factor was typically closer to 35.

In 2012, reflective of the new reapportionment from the 2010 census, the House featured 62 open seats. This was followed by 47 more in 2014, another 49 in 2016, and finally 64 opens in the 2018 election cycle.

So far in this current 2020 election cycle, the exodus syndrome appears to be winding down as we see only nine districts now opening, assuming that Montana at-large Rep. Greg Gianforte follows through with his stated plans to announce his gubernatorial campaign later this week. One open district, PA-12, was already filled at the end of May as Republican Rick Keller replaced resigned Rep. Tom Marino (R-Williamsport).

Below is a listing of the nine seats and the preliminary replacement outlook:


Special Elections – Sept. 10, 2019

NC-3: Rep. Walter Jones (R) – passed away Feb. 10, 2019
The Republicans are in a run-off election that will be decided on July 9. Participants are state Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Greenville) and physician Joan Perry of Kinston. The winner faces Democratic nominee Allen Thomas, the former mayor of Greenville. The eventual GOP nominee will begin the special general election as a heavy favorite for a seat that has been in Republican hands since 1995.


NC-9: Vacancy, non-declaration of 2018 election winner due to alleged voter fraud
Both parties nominated outright in this special election. Democrats feature 2018 nominee Dan McCready, who ran unopposed in the special primary. Republicans nominated outright state Sen. Dan Bishop (R-Charlotte), who captured 48 percent of the vote in a crowded Republican primary. A minimum total of 30 percent was needed to win outright nomination and avoid a run-off. Two polls have been released, both showing the race in toss-up mode with each candidate leading in one of the surveys.


Regular-Cycle Open Seats

AL-1: Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) running for Senate
With the Republican presidential nominee topping 60 percent of the vote here in the past three national elections, including President Trump attracting 63.5 percent, the Republicans will be in strong position to hold this seat. With candidate filing coming on Nov. 8 for the March 3 primary, the field of four announced candidates could swell to as many as 10 before the filing cycle concludes. No Democrat has yet come forward to declare.


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