Tag Archives: Missouri

New Senate Polls a Mixed Bag For Democrat Incumbents

Over the holiday period, several polls were taken around the country that produced mixed results for a trio of Democratic senators who routinely appear on Republican target lists. First, the new Magellan Strategies survey of Nebraska voters (12/15; 1,789 Nebraska registered voters via automated calls) confirms that beleaguered Sen. Ben Nelson (D) is highly vulnerable. In fact, the data reveals that he already trails two GOP statewide officials.

The Senator has seen his popularity ratings drop ever since he became identified as one of the key swing votes for the Obama healthcare program. His public concession to vote for the bill in exchange for substantial new Nebraska-based earmarks was a move that has clearly backfired within his constituency.

According to Magellan, Attorney General Jon Bruning (R), already officially in the Senate race, would defeat Nelson by a substantial 52-38% margin. Newly elected state Treasurer Don Stenberg, himself a former Nelson opponent and frequent statewide candidate, leads him 46-40%. The senator’s favorability ratio is upside down at 43:52% positive to negative. Bruning enjoys a 58:31% mark and Stenberg posts 48:34%.

Perhaps most troubling for Nelson is the voters’ opinion of the Obama healthcare legislation and their view of the Senator’s actions. By a 29-63% count, Nebraska voters oppose the healthcare law. Only 26% say Nelson did the right thing for the state, versus 64% who say his actions are indicative of what is wrong with Washington.

The Florida Public Policy Polling numbers (12/17-20; 1,034 FL registered voters via automated calls) are much better for the Democrats’ other Sen. Nelson. According to this data, no likely GOP candidate comes particularly close to Sen. Bill Nelson on the early ballot test questions. The two-term incumbent would defeat former Sen. George LeMieux (R), appointed by outgoing Gov. Charlie Crist to fill Sen. Mel Martinez’s unexpired term, 47-36%.

State Senate President Mike Haridopolos, already saying publicly that he will oppose Nelson, trails 32-44%. Rep. Connie Mack IV (R-FL-14) does a bit better, facing only a 36-44% deficit. One Republican does poll ahead of Sen. Nelson, but he’s not running: former Gov. Jeb Bush. Though Bush says he has no desire to enter elective politics again, the PPP data indicates he would begin such a hypothetical race with a 49-44% lead.

Turning to Missouri, Wilson Strategies is currently releasing a poll fielded in early December (11/30-12/1; 500 registered MO voters via live phoner interview) that predicts Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) is headed for another typically close Show Me State election battle.

The Wilson Strategies numbers show Sen. McCaskill to be in a more vulnerable position that Public Policy Polling did in their similar survey conducted around the same general time. Disparate polling is not particularly surprising when testing the Missouri electorate because the state tends to feature so many tight elections.

Early Redistricting Projections

Now that the new apportionment and population numbers are official, we can begin calculating each party’s chances of prevailing in the redistricting wars. Much of the action will occur in the states that either gained or lost congressional seats in yesterday’s 2010 national apportionment.

• In Texas, with four new seats to add to its delegation, Republicans must have a goal of gaining three of those four in order to send a 26R-10D delegation to Washington.
• It is likely that Florida will split its two new seats between the parties, but Republicans must exit the Sunshine State up 20R-7D.
• New York, losing two seats, also will see a likely outcome of each party being down one seat. That would mean a delegation that’s the mirror image of Florida: 20D-7R.
• Ohio, already at 13R-5D, will lose two seats. A 12R-4D delegation should be the Republican goal, since they control the entire redistricting process.

Democrats should gain the new seats in Nevada and Washington, while making the Republicans absorb the loss in Illinois, Louisiana, and New Jersey. Democrats will feel the pinch of an evaporating seat in Massachusetts, Michigan, and Pennsylvania and potentially Iowa and Missouri. Republicans will gain newly awarded districts in Georgia, South Carolina, Utah and possibly Arizona.

From a Republican perspective, their goal is to lock in the huge number of seats they just won and add approximately five more nationally. Democrats will look to gain a seat or two. Hence, the swing between the parties will be small.

Apportionment: Florida Gains, New York Loses

The Census Bureau released the new state population figures yesterday and confirmed that 12 congressional seats will change states for the coming decade. It had been clear for some time that Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington were going to gain, and Ohio, New York, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania were going to lose representation. But, the actual apportionment has traditionally been a bit different from the pre-census estimates. Not so in 2010.

A recent Election Data Services forecast precisely the official apportionment. If there was a surprise, it was that Florida gained a second seat and New York lost two. Prior estimates suggested that Oregon was on the cusp of gaining a seat, but that proved not to be the case as their potential 6th district actually placed 442nd, some seven seats away from acceptance. Oregon, California, and Idaho were the only states not to gain in the far west. Idaho, despite a population increase of better than 21%, more than double the national average from 2000, did not come close to gaining a third congressional district.

There was suspense, however, as to whether Missouri or Minnesota would lose the final district. The result is Missouri — as the Show Me State’s 9th district placed 437th, thus limiting them to eight seats for the ensuing decade. Minnesota held its 8th district by about 15,000 people, thus denying North Carolina a new 14th seat. The hypothetical NC-14 was the 436th district, or the next one in line.

The national population increased 9.7% over the decade. The state with the largest percentage growth increase was Nevada at 35.1%, while Michigan is the only place that now has fewer people than it did at the beginning of 2000. Michigan’s real growth rate was a negative 0.6%. The only US non-state entity to decline in population was Puerto Rico, which lost 2.2% of its population over the last ten years.

The top five population gainers are Nevada (35.1%), Arizona (24.6%), Utah (23.8%), Idaho (21.1%), and Texas (20.6%). The five states with the slowest growth rates are Michigan (-0.6%), Rhode Island (0.4%), Louisiana (1.4%), Ohio (1.6%), and New York (2.1%). California, not gaining a seat for the first time in history, had a 10.0% real growth rate. The aforementioned Oregon recorded a 12.0% increase.

The apportionment formula becomes clear when comparing Florida and Delaware. It’s a good example as to why it is easier for the big states to gain and lose seats. The Sunshine State’s rate of growth was 17.6%, but the raw number increase was 2.9 million inhabitants. Hence, the awarding of two additional seats. Delaware saw a population increase of 14.6%, but gained only 114,000 people. Their new population of more than 897,000 is large for one district, but, like Montana’s situation, is much too small for two.

The addition of two districts in Florida probably gives each party a new seat. The GOP, with a hold over the redistricting pen, will likely have a 21R-7D seat ratio goal, though the new redistricting restrictions voters placed upon map drawers may make it difficult for Republicans to take 2/3 of the seats when the statewide vote normally breaks closer to 50/50.

The switch of districts also affects the presidential election. Looking at President Obama’s 2008 winning coalition of states, his total of 365 electoral votes would diminish to 358 under the new apportionment, while the Republican total would grow to 180 if every state were to vote the same way in 2012. This means a net swing of 14 votes for the GOP, equivalent to winning a state the size of New Jersey or Virginia.

Apportionment Announcement Tomorrow

As we reported last week, the Census Bureau will announce the 2010 population figures tomorrow, telling us how many congressional seats each state will have for the ensuing decade.

As has been covered for several months, the states virtually assured to gain seats are Texas (3 or 4), Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Utah, while Ohio (-2), Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania appear to be sure losers. It also looks like Florida, South Carolina, and Washington will gain. Among Missouri, Minnesota, and Illinois, it is also a virtual certainty that at least two of these three will lose a seat. One unsubstantiated estimate also put Florida in the mix for gaining a second seat and New York losing a second, but these numbers seem out of context with what was previously known and released. North Carolina is also a potential long shot to gain, as it was in the 2000 census when it was awarded a 13th district.

As with all of the projections, the pre-release estimates are never fully correct. None of the previous calculations included 2010 data, and some of them were completed even before the 2009 population estimates were released. Therefore, uncertainty does exist as to exactly how the full complement of winning and losing states will unfold. The apportionment formula is complicated and state-specific.

The decade’s growth rate is certainly a determining factor for the number of seats apportioned, but that means vastly different raw numbers in each state. For example, a 10% rate of growth means a gain of approximately 9,700 people in Montana, but 3.7 million in California. Adding such a number to the Montana population will not result in an increase in representation, but the same percentage uptick for California very well may. Thus, simply put, it is easier for the bigger states to gain and lose districts than for the smaller ones to move up or down.

The apportionment numbers also affect the presidential race. Most of the swing means that the Democratic nominee, certainly to be President Obama, will have fewer electoral votes in his coalition of states than he did in 2008 because the states that the Democrats typically win are losing representation, and the ones Republicans normally carry are gaining. Just how great the electoral vote count change will be become known tomorrow. We will have a full analysis of the new congressional apportionment on Wednesday.

To Run or Not to Run

Already, potential candidates are musing publicly about running for higher office in 2012. Since two challengers are officially off and running — Florida state

Florida state Sen. Mike Haridopolos.

Senate President Mike Haridopolos (R) lining up against Sen. Bill Nelson (D), and ex-Missouri state Treasurer Sarah Steelman (R) hoping to qualify in the general election versus Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) — more appear to be making, or at least scheduling, decisions.

In West Virginia, newly elected Sen. Joe Manchin (D) may already have dodged a pair of bullets. The man he defeated in November to fill the late Sen. Robert Byrd’s unexpired term, Republican businessman John Raese, is saying he won’t run again. And Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2), clearly the Republicans’ strongest statewide contender, looks to be more interested in a run for Governor than Senator.

In Nevada, Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV-1) says she will decide in early February whether to challenge embattled Sen. John Ensign (R). And finally, defeated Reps. Glenn Nye (D-VA-2), Tom Perriello (D-VA-5), Patrick Murphy (D-PA-8), and Chet Edwards (D-TX-17) all are saying they “haven’t ruled out” a run to re-capture their old seats; likewise for Republican challenger Ilario Pantano, who lost to veteran Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC-7). Each will be looking at a much different district after redistricting, so such talk now is highly premature.