Tag Archives: Mary Peltola

Murkowski’s Lead Tenuous in Alaska; Blumenthal Gains Momentum in Conn.; Still a Tight Race in NH; More House News

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022

Senate

Alaska incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R)

Alaska: Sen. Murkowski’s Tenuous Lead — A new Alaska Survey Research organization poll (Oct. 19-22; 1,276 likely Alaska general election voters; text to online) forecasts a tight US Senate election between incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) and former state Director of Administration Kelly Tshibaka (R).

The actual vote is projected to break 41-39-16-4 percent with Sen. Murkowski leading Tshibaka, Democrat Pat Chesbro, and Independent Buzz Kelley. Such a result would eliminate the fourth-place finisher who has already withdrawn from the race and endorsed Tshibaka. The first RCV round would eliminate Chesbro by a closer 41-40-17 percent. The final RCV round between Sen. Murkowski and Tshibaka would then break the incumbent’s way, according to the ASR poll, 56-44 percent. Therefore, while Sen. Murkowski will likely not reach an outright victory in the actual vote, she is positioned to fare well under the ranked choice system.

Connecticut: Momentum for Sen. Blumenthal — Last week we saw a Fabrizio Lee & Associates survey that found Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s (D) lead over Republican nominee Leora Levy shrinking to 49-44 percent. Countering this data is a new survey from Connecticut based Quinnipiac University (Oct. 19-23; 1,879 likely Connecticut general election voters) that restores Sen. Blumenthal to a 56-41 percent advantage, similar to what the September Q-Poll produced. The latter data is more consistent with other polls of this race, suggesting that the Fabrizio Lee survey may be an outlier.

New Hampshire: Not Quite Over — Three recent pollsters find that the New Hampshire Senate race, one many Republicans conceded to Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) once retired Army Gen. Don Bolduc (R) won the Sept. 13 Republican primary, may not yet be clinched. The three pollsters, all surveying the Granite State electorate within the Oct. 17-23 period with sample sizes ranging from 600 to 727 likely New Hampshire general election voters, finds Sen. Hassan’s lead dwindling to between one and three percentage points.

Fabrizio Ward & Associates, Emerson College, and Insider Advantage, found respective 49-47 percent, 48-45 percent, and 48-47 percent results. Such results suggest this race is headed back to toss-up status.

House

AK-AL: Rep. Peltola’s Strong Lead — The aforementioned Alaska Survey Research organization poll (see Alaska Senate above), while projecting a tight result for Sen. Murkowski (R) sees the opposite trend for August special congressional election winner Mary Peltola (D-Bethel). The House poll suggests that Rep. Peltola has a chance to win outright opposite former governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, businessman Nick Begich III (R), and Libertarian Chris Bye. Even if she does advance into the RCV round, it also appears that she would easily beat both Palin and Begich in one-on-one contests.

The ASR polling results find the initial vote cutting 49-26-21-5 percent for Peltola, Palin, Begich, and Bye, respectively. Obviously, the polling margin of error could mean that Rep. Peltola wins at this point since she is so close to the majority mark. Should Rep. Peltola fail to reach 50 percent, she would then likely advance to a final RCV round with Palin. The poll projects that the congresswoman would win the one-on-one pairing with 57 percent of the Ranked Choice Vote.

MN-1: Rep. Finstad Expands Lead — August special congressional election winner Brad Finstad (R-New Elm/Rochester) has jumped out to a nine-point lead in his re-match race with retired Hormel Corporation CEO Jeff Ettinger (D) according to a just released Survey USA poll (Oct. 20-23; 563 likely MN-1 general election voters). In what many believed to be a toss-up general election campaign, this study producing a 46-37 percent advantage for Rep. Finstad suggests that the race is clearly leaning to the Republican side.

Tight Polls in Arizona; Independent Fairs Well in Utah; More Alaska Ranked Choice Voting Analysis

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022

Senate

Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly (D)

Arizona: Two Tight Polls — In the 2020 special US Senate election, then-candidate Mark Kelly (D) consistently ran ahead of then-Sen. Martha McSally (R) and by an average of 7.1 percentage points in 21 polls conducted from Oct. 1 to Election Day, but only won the race, 51-49 percent. In the 2020 cycle, we see much closer polling as two new surveys exemplify.

The pair of studies, both taken during the Sept. 6-7 period, are from Emerson College (627 likely Arizona voters; multiple sampling techniques) and the Republican research firm Insider Advantage (550 likely Arizona voters). Emerson finds the race well within the polling margin of error at 47-45 percent, while the IA result projects a 45-39 percent division. Both post Sen. Kelly leading Republican nominee and venture capitalist Blake Masters.

Utah: Another Independent Faring Well — Utah Independent US Senate candidate Evan McMullin released a Democratic firm’s poll that yields him a one-point edge. Impact Research (Aug. 29-Sept. 1; 800 likely Utah general election voters) found McMullin leading Sen. Mike Lee (R) by a 47-46 percent margin. Sen. Lee quickly countered with re-releasing his early August WPA Intelligence poll that saw him holding a major 50-32 percent advantage. Expect the Lee campaign to soon release more recent data.

House

AK-AL: More Ranked Choice Analysis — The Fair Vote organization, which is the principal promoter of the Ranked Choice Voting system, released a further analysis of the RCV vote in the Alaska special election that elected Democrat Mary Peltola, even though she attracted only 40 percent of the actual vote. The Ranked Choice advocates claim the system rewards the candidate who has the broadest support, but it tends to do the opposite since candidates with minority support have won most of the major races where the system has been used.

The analysis suggests that had candidate Nick Begich III been opposite Peltola in the final round instead of former governor and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, he would have won the race. The Fair Vote analysis reveals that 59 percent of the Palin vote would have gone Begich’s way — as opposed to Palin gaining only 50.3 percent of the Begich second choice votes. The bigger difference, however, was Peltola attracting only six percent of the Palin second-choice votes as compared to the 28 percent she received from Begich voters.

What the analysis fails to include, however, are the more than 11,000 Begich voters whose ballots were not counted in the second round. The analysis claims those people simply didn’t make an additional ranked choice, but in reality, it may be due to a lack of understanding the confusing system. In other places, attorneys who have challenged the system report that most ballots are disqualified because the voter inaccurately completed the ballot. Since Palin lost by 5,219 votes, more than 11,000 non-counted Begich ballots could have made the difference, and it is likely that a large number of these had their ballots disqualified as opposed to not making a choice. Therefore, the Fair Vote conclusion that Palin lost because the Begich voters eschewed her may not be entirely accurate.

Governor

Arizona: Evolving Dead Heat Race — The aforementioned pair of Arizona polls from Emerson College and Insider Advantage (see Arizona Senate race above) forecasts an even closer race for governor than they do for US Senate. Emerson College projects a straight tie between Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) and former Phoenix news anchor Kari Lake (R), with both candidates posting 46 percent support scores. Insider Advantage finds a similar result with Hobbs leading by the slightest of margins, 44-43 percent.

Examining the Role of the RCV System in Alaska’s Special Election; Rep. Crist Resigns in Fla.; Indiana “Shock” Poll

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Sept. 2, 2022

House

Sarah Palin (R)

AK-AL: Sarah Palin Loses Special Election — The headline here is that former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin fell to Democrat Mary Peltola in the at-large Alaska special election, and the first full usage of the state’s new Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) system was fully in play. Yesterday we reported the results; today we’ll delve into the RCV system that delivered those results.

At the end of the final counting, which was when the Aug. 16 deadline to accept ballots in the primary election expired, 60 percent of voters chose a Republican candidate. However, the RCV system yielded a Democratic victor. Therefore, in a system that is designed to create a majority candidate, in this case the RCV system produced a minority vote share winner.

The finalists from the jungle primary election began with Peltola, who recorded 40.2 percent of the vote. Palin secured 31.3 percent, and Nick Begich III (R) captured 28.5 percent. Begich III is the grandson of former Democratic US Rep. Nick Begich, Sr. (D), and the nephew of former US senator and ex-Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D). In finishing third, Begich was eliminated from further competition, and his first-place votes were located and then allocated to the remaining two candidates via the voters’ ranking.

Former state Rep. Mary Peltola (D) winner of the Alaska special election race.

As we predicted, based upon the experiences of other states and cities that have used the RCV system, a large number of votes were disqualified, or “exhausted” to use the Alaska vernacular.

Of the 192,158 individuals who participated in the special election and/or regular primary, a total of 3,401 ballots were listed as “blank,” meaning the individuals voted in the election but bypassed the special congressional contest. Another 342 ballots were categorized as “overvotes.” This terminology suggests the owners of such ballots voted incorrectly. Typically, it means the individual, presumably inadvertently, voted more than once for the same candidate, thus disqualifying the ballot.

The categories that likely cost Palin the election, despite the large majority voting for a Republican candidate, came in RCV’s Round 2. In that round, a total of 11,222 Begich voters did not properly manage the RCV system on their ballots, which was to rank the three candidates in the order of the individual voter’s preference.

Lawyers who challenged the RCV system in other places around the country warned that their experience showed a large number of disqualified, or “exhausted,” ballots would be present here, which certainly proved to be the case.

This latter number added to the initial overvotes, meant a total of 11,269 Begich first-place voters saw their ballot disqualified, more than twice the number of votes (5,219) that comprised Palin’s deficit against Peltola’s final victory total. Adding this number to those who chose to bypass the special congressional race meant that 14,965 individuals who voted in this election failed to have their ballot count in the RCV process.

The second category leading to Palin’s demise were the 15,445 individuals who voted for Begich on the first ballot, but decided to support Peltola with their second choice. This is a much higher number than our pre-election estimate projection, and are chiefly responsible for the ex-governor failing to win the general election.

A possible reason that some of these voters chose Peltola is that the Begich name identification comes from the current candidate’s family predecessors mentioned above who were, and are, affiliated with the Democrats. It is possible that the multiple confusion factors present in this race also extended to Begich’s name, with many traditional Democratic voters still thinking he is a member of their party and not noticing his Republican label on the ballot.

Also adding to the confusion factor was the RCV system being used only in this special general election that was run concurrently with the regular state primary. In all other races on Aug. 16, voters were simply choosing one candidate to advance into the general election, where four jungle primary candidates from each race would do so. Therefore, the almost 15,000 ballots being disqualified before the end of the RCV special election process suggests a large amount of confusion within the electorate.

With the same three finalists again advancing into the regular election from the regular congressional primary, which was also held on the same day (Aug. 16), thus producing one more confusion factor, we could see a rerun of the RCV results in the November election. If either Palin or Begich were to withdraw from the regular general election, however, Peltola’s fate would then likely be sealed, since the Republican vote would then presumably overwhelm the number of her Democratic preference ballots.

While the intrigue associated with this one race has now been resolved, new questions will immediately begin to unfold for the impending general election. For now, however, Mary Peltola will be sworn in as the House of Representatives’ newest member.

FL-13: Rep. Crist Resigns — Congressman Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) resigned his Pinellas County-anchored US House seat Wednesday in order to fully concentrate on his gubernatorial campaign. Crist won the statewide Democratic primary on Aug. 23 and will face Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in the general election. Another member of the Florida congressional delegation, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Boca Raton), who announced in February that he would leave Congress to become the CEO of the American Jewish Committee, will reportedly officially resign on Oct. 1.

With the Crist and Deutch resignations, the Democrats will be down to 220 seats in the House even after adding New York Rep. Pat Ryan (D-Poughkeepsie) after his special election victory certification and the Alaska at-large seat where Democrat Mary Peltola was declared the special election winner. It is unclear if Gov. DeSantis will call a special election to fill the Florida vacancies or just leave them vacant until the new term begins in January.

Senate

Indiana: Shock Poll — Hoosier State Democratic US Senate nominee Tom McDermott’s campaign released the results of their recently conducted Change Research poll (Aug. 20-24; 2,111 likely Indiana general election voters; online), which posted Sen. Todd Young (R) to only a 45-42 percent lead. The Indiana Senate race had been considered non-competitive. The Young campaign responded with criticism over the online methodology and weighting system that Change Research employs. Expect the Young campaign to quickly counter this data with a poll release of their own.

Governor

South Carolina: Gov. McMaster Leading in Consecutive Polls — In a race that had not been polled during the general election period to-date, two new surveys were released on consecutive days. Yesterday, we reported that Gov. Henry McMaster (R) led in The Trafalgar Group survey (Aug. 25-28; 1,071 likely South Carolina general election voters; multiple sampling techniques) by a 51-43 percent margin over former Congressman Joe Cunningham, who won the Democratic nomination back in the June primary.

The next day’s polling release featured a survey from the Democratic firm, Blueprint Polling (Aug. 24-25; 721 likely South Carolina general election voters; live interview), that actually posted McMaster to a larger lead than the Trafalgar result, 50-39 percent.

Palin Loses in Alaska; Walker Leads in Second Poll in Georgia, Kemp Holds Edge; Gen. Bolduc Again Leading in NH; Gov. McMaster’s SC Quest

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022

House

Former state Rep. Mary Peltola (D) wins the Alaska special election race.

AK-AL: Sarah Palin Loses Special Election — Former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin fell to Democrat Mary Peltola in the at-large Alaska special election, which marked the first full usage of the state’s new Ranked Choice Voting system.
At the end of the final counting, 60 percent of voters chose a Republican candidate, but the RCV system yielded a Democratic victor. Therefore, in a system that is designed to create a majority candidate, in this case it produced a minority vote share winner.

The finalists were Peltola, who recorded 40.2 percent of the vote; Palin, who secured 31.3 percent, and Nick Begich III (R), the grandson of former Democratic US Rep. Nick Begich, and the nephew of former US senator and ex-Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D), who captured 28.5 percent. Finishing third, Begich was eliminated from further competition, and his first-place votes were located and then distributed to the other candidates via the voters’ ranking. In the end, Peltola defeated Palin by a 5,219 votes; another 14,965 ballots were disqualified in the Ranked Choice Voting process.

Senate

Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and Republican challenger Herschel Walker[/caption]Georgia: Walker Leading in Second Poll — Previously, an early August Phillips Academy poll projected Republican Herschel Walker to be holding a slight 45-44 percent lead over Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) after trailing in seven of eight July surveys. Emerson College released the result of their most recent Georgia survey Tuesday (Aug. 28-29; 600 likely Georgia general election voters; interactive voice response system, text, and online), which found Walker posting an almost identical 46-44 percent edge, again providing more evidence that this race is a long way from being over.

New Hampshire: Gen. Bolduc Again Leading — In mid-August, when St. Anselm College released a survey showing retired Army general and 2020 US Senate Republican candidate Don Bolduc developing a substantial lead for the Sept. 13 GOP Senate primary, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) went public in an attempt to negate his advantage. Many believe, including Gov. Sununu, that Gen. Bolduc would lose to Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) in November. Previously, Gen. Bolduc had accused Gov. Sununu of being “a Chinese communist sympathizer,” among other comments that created bad blood between the two men.

The University of New Hampshire (Aug. 25-29; 892 likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters; online) reported the results of their new statewide survey. According to the UNH Granite State Poll, Gen. Bolduc continues to lead state Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem) by over 20 points, 43-22 percent, with three other candidates languishing in low single digits.

Georgia: Kemp Again Holds Advantage — The aforementioned Emerson College survey (see Georgia Senate above) also tested the Peach State governor’s race between incumbent Brian Kemp (R) and challenger Stacey Abrams (D) who returns for a re-match from their close 2018 contest. The Emerson results give Gov. Kemp a 48-44 percent edge, which appears as a consistent margin routinely found in eleven of 12 July-August polls in which the incumbent held an edge. The lone outlier poll, a Research Affiliates study that concluded on Aug. 1, found the two candidates tied at 47 percent apiece.

South Carolina: Gov. McMaster Leading in Re-election Poll — Gov. Henry McMaster (R) succeeded then-Gov. Nikki Haley (R) when she resigned her office in 2017 to become US Ambassador to the United Nations. McMaster would then win a full term in 2018, and now seeks re-election. Because of the state’s former one and now two-term limit, winning re-election this year and serving most of the next term would make McMaster the longest-serving governor in state history.

The Trafalgar Group, as part of their nationwide polling series (Aug. 25-28; 1,071 likely South Carolina general election voters; multiple sampling techniques) tested the Palmetto State electorate and sees Gov. McMaster jumping out to a 51-43 percent lead over former Congressman Joe Cunningham, who won the Democratic nomination back in the June primary. Four years ago, Gov. McMaster was re-elected with a 54-46 percent margin.

Updated Alaska Results; First Poll From Arizona’s New 6th District; A Resolution in NY-10?

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Aug. 26, 2022

House

Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate, now running for US House Representative

AK-AL: Updated Results — Alaska officials have updated the election totals as more ballots have been received, counted, and recorded. Under Alaska voting procedure, ballots can still be accepted from the outlying rural regions until Aug. 31 as long as they were postmarked on primary day, Aug. 16.

In the special election to fill the remainder of the late Rep. Don Young’s (R) current term, Democratic state Rep. Mary Peltola maintains the lead with an adjusted 38.9 percent of the vote. Former governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin is second with 31.4 percent of the vote, a total of 5,630 votes ahead of third-place finisher Nick Begich III (R). Palin has maintained this 5,000-plus vote margin over Begich for virtually the entire counting process. Second place is critical, since the first two finishers will advance into the Ranked Choice Voting round.

State officials estimate that approximately 90 percent of the votes are now recorded. This means another 20,000 ballots could be outstanding. If so, calculations suggest that Begich would have to garner approximately 73 percent of the vote pool that remains for a Republican candidate. So far, he has only received 47.2 percent of the ballots that were marked for either he or Palin. Should this standing hold, Palin would need approximately 40 percent of the Begich second choice votes to overtake Peltola and win the special election. This is a reasonable number, but her biggest problem could be the number of votes that are disqualified in the second round for mis-marking the multiple entries due to voter confusion over the new system.

Votes are also being counted for the regular House primary election where the top four finishers will advance into the regular general election. Like in the special general election, the top three finishers kept the same order, Peltola-Palin-Begich. The person currently running fourth, Republican Tara Sweeney, who has only four percent of the vote, says she will not continue if she qualifies. The Board of Elections officials ruled that when Independent candidate Al Gross withdrew from the competition after qualifying for the special general that only three would then advance. Therefore, we are likely to see a rerun of this special general election in the regular November vote.

AZ-6: First Poll, No Surprise — Democratic pollster Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research released the first post-primary survey of Arizona’s new 6th District, the seat located in the southeast corner of the state that encompasses the largest part of the city of Tucson. The district leans slightly Republican, R+6 according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization with a partisan lean index of 52.0-R – 47.1-D from Dave’s Redistricting App.

The GQR survey (Aug. 16-21; 500 likely AZ-6 general election voters; live interview) finds Democratic former Tucson state senator and representative Kirsten Engel posting a two-point lead over ex-Hispanic Chamber of Commerce official Juan Ciscomani (R), 49-47 percent. This is Ciscomani’s first run for elective office.

NY-10: Candidates May Return for General Election — Once all of the thousands of yet-to-be-counted mail ballots are finally tabulated and recorded, it is projected that attorney Dan Goldman (D) will win the crowded open seat Democratic primary. NY election officials are not releasing any new results until Aug. 31, they’ve announced, and it could take as long as just before the Sept. 9 primary election certification deadline to officially crown a party primary winner in this and other races.

Goldman, however, may face another electoral hurdle before taking the seat. He did not hold the Working Families ballot line, and this liberal political party has a slot in the general election. Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-Westchester County), who left his 17th District to run for re-election in the new 10th, failed to win the primary but does carry the WFP endorsement in his previous district. There is an argument that Jones would be entitled to the ballot line in this election.

The Working Families Party, however, endorsed state Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Nioh (D-Manhattan) instead of Rep. Jones for this election, thus a dispute is beginning to arise as to who would represent the party in the 10th District general election. Having the ballot line would give one of these two the opportunity of challenging Goldman for the seat in the general election. At this point, Rep. Jones is indicating he would not pursue running in the general election, thus leaving the ballot line for Nioh.