Tag Archives: Massachusetts

Voting Rights Act Altered; Markey Wins

Voting Rights Ruling

The Supreme Court, ruling for the plaintiffs in the Shelby County (AL) case on a 5-4 decision, struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) saying that the formula determining VRA jurisdiction is no longer applicable. In 2006, Congress renewed the Voting Rights Act for the succeeding 25 years but did not change the triggering election. Until yesterday, dropping below the turnout pattern dictated in the 1972 presidential election would bring a municipality, county, or state under VRA coverage. Had the court not acted, that triggering mechanism would have stayed in place at least until 2031, or almost 60 years.

The high court majority members made clear they are not striking down the Act itself, only the formula for determining which jurisdictions will come under federal supervision. Doing so eliminates the Department of Justice’s power to pre-clear election laws after a covered jurisdiction enacts statutory changes. Because the formula is now declared unconstitutional, all of the laws previously denied pre-clearance now take effect. This could greatly change matters in several states, and very quickly. In fact, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R), for example, announced that he would immediately begin enforcing the state’s voter identification law that had been previously stayed by the DoJ’s refusal to pre-clear the legislation.

The states that could be most affected by this ruling, even as early as the present election cycle, are the three hearing live redistricting litigation. The trio of states are Florida, North Carolina and Arizona. Depending upon the outcome of the various lawsuits, and yesterday’s ruling that strengthened the plaintiffs hands against their state in all instances, it is possible the congressional and state legislative lines could conceivably be re-drawn before the 2014 election.

Massachusetts

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5), as we’ve been predicting for several weeks, successfully claimed Secretary of State John Kerry’s (D) former Massachusetts Senate seat, but his margin of victory was a bit under what a  Continue reading >

Massachusetts Senate Snapshot

The long-anticipated special US Senate election to replace Secretary of State John Kerry (D) is being held today, and the final three polls all favor Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5) to carry the vote over Republican businessman Gabriel Gomez.

Suffolk University (June 19-22; 500 likely Massachusetts voters) projects Markey to a 52-42 percent advantage. New England College (June 18-20; 579 likely voters) gives the congressman an even wider 56-36 percent majority. Finally, the Western New England University Polling Institute (June 16-20; 503 likely Massachusetts voters) shows a much closer 49-41 percent spread.

There has been no poll throughout the entire special election cycle that projected Markey to be trailing. One survey, a Republican study from McLaughlin & Associates, showed the congressman in the lead at one point, but that is as close as challenger Gomez has gotten.

The Suffolk U. and Western New England polls are clearly more reflective of each other, and in line with the vast majority of surveys commissioned during the previous weeks. The New England College poll appears to be skewed in favor of the Democratic nominee.

Though Gomez conducted a spirited campaign, it is not likely that the magic surrounding former Sen. Scott Brown (R) in his 2010 special election victory will reappear in this battle. There is simply no evidence to suggest that this Republican is close enough to score an upset victory.

Despite Rep. Markey being poised to win the race, his percentage might be below that of usual Democratic performance in Massachusetts. In such an open seat special election race, a Bay State Democratic nominee should finish in the high 50s. By most accounts, Markey will likely score in the low to mid-50s.

The winner of today’s election will serve the balance of Kerry’s term and be eligible to seek a full six-year term in 2014. If Markey does win, as predicted, Gov. Deval Patrick (D) will then schedule a new special election for his 5th Congressional District. Already several candidates are actively campaigning for this post, in anticipation of a Markey win today.

Will Ad Tying IRS to Health Care Move Mass. Voters?

As expected, a political entity is taking to the airwaves to highlight the Internal Revenue Service’s role in implementing the Obama healthcare law, but the message delivery needs to be stronger if they expect to move voters.

The organization Americans for Progressive Action, supporting Republican Gabriel Gomez over Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5) in the Senate special election scheduled for June 25 in Massachusetts, attacked with an ad that depicts Markey as supporting IRS “control” of “health care reform” and Gomez as an opponent, though making it clear that the Republican supports reforming the healthcare system. (Though the ad says that both Markey and Gomez support “healthcare reform”, it doesn’t specifically say that Gomez supports President Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act, though the casual viewer will be left with the impression that he does.)

The effectiveness of the ad will be questioned. Though making it clear that the IRS “controlling” healthcare reform is a bad thing, it doesn’t explain why. The spot assumes, most likely incorrectly, that the viewing voter base knows the details of the current IRS profiling scandal.

Survey data will soon tell us if the IRS issue is moving voters in the Massachusetts Senate race, which could be a precursor of how the issue might play in the regular 2014 election. But, the political ad producers will have to tell a better story than the APA’s current effort if they hope to make this issue a deciding electoral factor.

Noem Remains; Brown Up in Massachusetts

In a formal and unsurprising announcement, Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD-AL) confirmed that she will not challenge former Gov. Mike Rounds (R) for South Dakota’s open US Senate seat next year. Noem, serving her second term in the House, indicated that she will seek re-election to her current position.

Rumors and speculation had persisted for months that the congresswoman may hop into the Senate race and attempt to challenge Rounds from the right, but she never appeared to be making any tangible moves to prepare for such a race. Meanwhile, as he has done since the 2012 election cycle concluded, the former governor continued to build his Senatorial campaign on a daily basis.

Rounds is definitely the man to beat. Now with a clear shot at the Republican nomination, he will have a united party behind him as he works to convert the open seat to the GOP column. Democrats have only one candidate so far, Rick Weiland a former staff aide to then-Sen. Tom Daschle (D), because stronger potential contenders such as former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD-AL) and US Attorney Brendan Johnson both declined to run. Three-term Sen. Tim Johnson (D), Brendan’s father, is retiring.

Both the open South Dakota and West Virginia Democratic seats top the GOP conversion list, as Republicans have big leads against weak opponents in both states. In West Virginia, where veteran Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D) is retiring, the early leader and prohibitive favorite is Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2).

Massachusetts Governor’s Race — Brown Cruising

A just-released University of Massachusetts political survey (conducted by international pollster YouGov; May 30-June 4; 500 registered Massachusetts voters) again projects former Sen. Scott Brown (R) to be in strong position to win next year’s open governor’s campaign. Currently, Brown is testing the waters for a senatorial run in New Hampshire, but his early standing  Continue reading >

A Race or Not for the Massachusetts Senate?

The Massachusetts special Senate election is scheduled for June 25, and there is rather a large discrepancy amongst the myriad of polls that have just recently been released. Depending upon which survey you want to believe, the race is either Rep. Ed Markey’s (D-MA-5) to lose, or one in which he is dangerously close to falling behind Republican nominee Gabriel Gomez.

Here are the most recent polls:

  • McLaughlin & Assoc. – June 4-5; 400 likely Massachusetts voters – Markey 45% – Gomez 44%
  • Public Policy Polling – June 3-4; 560 Massachusetts likely voters – Markey 47% – Gomez 39%
  • New England College – June 1-2; 786 Massachusetts registered voters – Markey 53% – Gomez 40%
  • UMass (by YouGov) – May 30-June 4; 357 Massachusetts likely voters – Markey 47% – Gomez 36%

As you can see, Markey’s advantage varies from one to 13 points. All of the studies agree that the Democrat is leading, but is the race of razor-thin proportion, or does the suburban Boston congressman enjoy a comfortable lead?

When considering polls released prior to these four, it does appear that Gomez is becoming a formidable challenger. Almost all of the post-April 30 primary day surveys have shown him to be within single-digits of Markey, an unusual circumstance for a Republican in Massachusetts.

But the major point of contention surrounds the Republican and right-of-center organizations and whether or not they will actively support Gomez. So far, there is little evidence of independent expenditure activity for the Republican nominee, but there is still time for such to occur.

Questions remain for the National Republican Senatorial Committee brain-trust, however. Is the polling foretelling a close race, or are the current numbers fool’s gold? And, even if Gomez somehow pulls the upset, would such a victory mean anything more than “renting” the position  Continue reading >