Tag Archives: jungle primary

Is Sen. Kamala Harris Protecting
Her California Senate Seat?

By Jim Ellis

Democrat Sen. Kamala Harris of California

Dec. 5, 2019 — Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) became the first of what one might consider the top-tier candidates to end her presidential effort, but the announcement timing on Tuesday likely has more to do with her 2022 Senate race than the presidential contest.

The California candidate filing deadline is tomorrow, so Sen. Harris deciding to end her presidential effort means she won’t be on the Golden State presidential primary ballot, and thus avoids an embarrassing loss within her own constituency. Recent polling was forecasting her in the single-digit range even in California.

Obviously, losing any race in one’s home state reveals political weakness, and though she is virtually invulnerable against a Republican in the 2022 general election, the same might not be true if her opponent were a strong Democrat.

Under the California election system that features the jungle primary concept, variations of which are also seen in Washington state and Louisiana, members of the same party can advance into the general election. Florida voters will have the opportunity of adopting that jungle primary concept via ballot initiative next year.

Because California and Washington hold regular primaries before the general election, a pair of candidates always advance irrespective of percentages attained. Conversely, Louisiana holds one election concurrent with the general, meaning a candidate exceeding 50 percent is elected outright; otherwise the top two finishers advance into a December run-off election.

In the California 2022 Senate race, for example, two candidates will move into the general election from their March or June primary (California has continually alternated their primary election dates between the two months, depending upon the political situation at the time the legislature acted) so long as more than one candidate files. Thus, a strong Democrat — and California has many such individuals — could challenge Sen. Harris, draw a relatively meager percentage in the primary while finishing second, and then rally to make a serious general election challenge against her.

Other previous presidential candidates have often found the political going much tougher than expected when returning home to seek re-election after engaging in the national contest, and it remains to be seen if Sen. Harris will find her road to re-election any bumpier.

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Feinstein Still Weak; Gas Tax Polling

By Jim Ellis

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)

Oct. 18, 2018 — Survey USA released a poll of the California electorate, one more political study that finds Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) failing to establish command in her race against fellow Democrat Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles state senator.

The S-USA data (Oct. 12-14; 1,200 California adults; 964 registered California voters; 762 likely California voters) sees Feinstein again locked at 40 percent support versus 26 percent for de Leon. This is the sixth survey from four different pollsters that finds the Senator in the mid to low 40s since the June 5th jungle primary. But de Leon fares much worse, failing to break 30 percent in any of the half-dozen ballot test questions.

While all of the research suggests that Sen. Feinstein is politically weak, she will not lose this race. Though she brought in only $982,000 for the third quarter — a low number when campaigning in a state the size of California and understanding that many Democratic House candidates have brought in millions during the same period — de Leon raised just $254,000 and has a mere $309,000 cash-on-hand for the period ending Sept. 30. This is a low figure for a congressional race, let alone for a place that’s 53 times as large as a single CD.

California Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles)

California Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles)

The other feature potentially making the California Senate race a wild-card contest is the vote drop-off that we will see when comparing turnout for this office to the rest of the statewide ballot.

In 2016, when two Democrats were competing for an open Senate seat — the now-Sen. Kamala Harris vs. then-Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) — fewer votes were cast for that contest than in any other statewide election, including all of the ballot propositions. In fact, over 1.9 million more people voted in the presidential race than in the Senate race, and 1.3 million more chose to decide the last ballot initiative that banned single-use plastic bottles.

What occurred was a plethora of Republican voters simply skipping the Senate race rather than supporting one of the two Democrats. With de Leon running to the ideological left of Feinstein the Republican vote will likely drop even further, which becomes an interesting factor.

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The Aug 7 Primaries – Part II

the-primariesBy Jim Ellis

Aug. 7, 2018 — We finish our look at today’s primary elections, covering Michigan and Washington, and the OH-12 special congressional election contest.


MICHIGAN

The US Senate and open governor campaigns lead the Michigan ticket today. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) will learn whether she faces venture capitalist Sandy Pensler or retired Army Ranger and manufacturing company owner John James, the latter a President Trump-endorsed candidate, in the fall campaign. The senator begins the general election in the clear favorite’s position.

With Gov. Rick Snyder (R) ineligible to seek a third term, competitive Republican and Democratic primaries will be both settled tonight. For the GOP, Attorney General and former US Congressman Bill Schuette has enjoyed double-digit leads in all polling for several months over Lt. Gov. Brian Calley. On the Democratic side, former state House Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer has been the clear leader almost since the campaign began, and she is expected to defeat former Detroit Health Commissioner Abdul El-Sayed and businessman Shri Thanedar. The general election promises to be highly competitive in this pivotal redistricting state.

Three open seats are the top attractions in the congressional contests.

In veteran Rep. Sander Levin’s (D-Royal Oak) open seat, it appears the retiring congressman’s son, energy consultant Andy Levin, is the clear favorite in the Democratic primary. The 9th is a decidedly Democratic district meaning Levin’s chances of succeeding his father in the general election are strong.

Rep. David Trott (R-Birmingham) is retiring from Congress after two terms and leaves a toss-up political contest in his wake. Crowded primaries are present for both parties, including a Republican race featuring five candidates, while the Democrats have an additional five people running. Trump state co-chair Lena Epstein has developed a late lead in two Republican primary polls, while former Treasury Department official Haley Stevens and state Rep. Tim Greimel (D-Troy) appear atop of the Democratic contest.

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Feinstein: More Warning Signals

By Jim Ellis

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)

July 30, 2018 — The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) released a new survey of the Golden State electorate, and the pollsters uncovered some new information about the double-Democrat US Senate race that voters will decide in November.

According to the PPIC data (July 8-17; 1,711 adult California residents, 1,420 registered California voters, 1,020 likely California voters — questionnaire provided in English and Spanish), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) would lead state senator and former Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), 46-24 percent, a margin that again shows incumbent weakness. In no poll has Feinstein ever reached the majority support plateau of 50 percent or more. Additionally, in the June 5 jungle primary, she received just 44 percent of the vote, but that compares to Mr. de Leon’s 12 percent, and he finished second. In all, 32 candidates were on the Senate jungle primary ballot.

But this PPIC poll found new key information, which provides even worse news for Sen. Feinstein. Though she still must be rated as the favorite, it is becoming clearer that de Leon is developing at least a narrow victory path. A desertion among Republicans could be problematic for Feinstein, and that appears to be happening.

In a two-person race, the PPIC poll finds just 70 percent making a candidate choice. But that does not mean the remainder is fully undecided. Actually, 20 percent are saying they will deliberately skip this race, almost all of which align themselves with the Republicans or are not affiliated with a major party.

The same phenomenon happened in the 2016 general election US Senate race when then-Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) defeated US Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove). Some theorized that Rep. Sanchez could be a strong candidate because she was more likely to attract Republican votes than the much more liberal Harris. Sanchez is a female Hispanic from southern California and had a textbook profile to, at least on paper, win a statewide race there. But, such didn’t prove true because so many Republicans simply skipped the Senate race even though they were in the polling booth or cast a mail ballot.

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California Jungle Primary Intrigue

The California state flag

The California state flag

By Jim Ellis

June 4, 2018 — In 2010, Golden State voters adopted a ballot proposition that changed the state’s primary system. As we have often noted in articles about the state’s political campaigns, the primary is now a qualifying election with the top two vote-getting candidates advancing to the general election regardless of percentage or political party affiliation. Looking toward the California preliminary vote tomorrow, the top-two jungle primary system may produce some unintended consequences.

When the initiative was first floated eight years ago, many pro-enterprise organizations joined in support because they correctly saw that business coalition candidates, and Republicans in particular, were headed for further downturns in California elections. The top-two format, many believed, would produce more centrist victors from both political parties. In practice, when analyzing the three election cycles since the process began and going into a fourth on Tuesday, such has not quite been the case.

As we know, Democrats have heavily targeted California in their 2018 bid to regain the US House majority, believing that their chances of winning the seven Republican districts Hillary Clinton carried in the last presidential election are strong. But Tuesday’s vote is providing them a new obstacle to overcome, a complication that could actually shut them out of even having a general election candidate in some of their top targeted districts.

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