Tag Archives: Montana

Potential Ticket Splitting?

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 14, 2020 — We’ve seen a preponderance of straight-line party voting in the past few elections, but two new surveys testing both the presidential and US Senate campaigns in respective states suggest a split ticket result could possibly occur.

Two polls were released earlier this week, one from Michigan and the other Montana, which find a constant sample plurality that suggests the respondents might vote for different party candidates in the presidential and US Senate race. In both cases, the respective Senate candidate is polling better than the same party’s trailing presidential contender.

In Michigan, Siena College/New York Times surveyed the Wolverine State electorate (Oct. 8-11; 614 likely Michigan voters, live interview) and finds that former vice president Joe Biden leads President Trump, 48-40 percent, but the same sample finds Democrat Sen. Gary Peters leading challenger John James (R) by only a 43-42 percent margin. Therefore, we see a net seven-point swing toward the Republican candidate as the voters move down the ballot.

We see a potentially similar pattern developing in Montana, but the parties are reversed. Here, Public Policy Polling surveyed the Big Sky Country voter sample (Oct. 9-10; 798 Montana voters, interactive voice response system) and notes that President Trump is topping Biden, 52-46 percent, yet in the Senate race, Sen. Steve Daines (R) and Gov. Steve Bullock (D) are tied at 48 percent preference. These results translate into a six-point net swing toward the Democratic candidate after the individual voter professes his or her presidential preference.

Both of these patterns appear unusual for contemporary election cycles that now see sometimes less than five percent of party members straying from their organization’s nominee while Independents follow their own predictable track. This tells us that non-affiliated voters in these two states may be acting more like true independents, which would constitute a relative break in the voting prototypes that have come to the forefront during this decade.

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Where the Senate Stands

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 13, 2020 — Now, less than a month before the official Election Day, we see multiple polls coming regularly in almost every competitive Senate race. Democrats need a net conversion of three Republican seats if Joe Biden is elected president and four seats if he is not. With 16 races now on the competitive board, we look at where they each stand. At least two surveys are included for each race.

Looking at the current trends, we see a tightening Senate from the current 53R-47D majority. Under the current swing, Democrats could reach 51, but with several races remaining as toss-ups or in range where they still could go either way. It’s conceivable, at this point, that both parties could claim 49 seats with a fight for the remaining two that would decide the next majority.

All of the polling data is from late September and early October:


ALABAMA: Sen. Doug Jones (D) vs. Tommy Tuberville (R)
• Trend: Tuberville

POLLS:
• University of Auburn @ Montgomery (Sept. 30-Oct. 3; 1,072 registered Alabama voters)
  Tommy Tuberville (R) – 54%
  Sen. Doug Jones (D) – 42%

• Morning Consult (Sept. 11-20; 658 likely Alabama voters)
  Tommy Tuberville (R) – 52%
  Sen. Doug Jones (D) – 34%


ALASKA: Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) vs. Dr. Al Gross (I/D)
• Trend: Slightly Sullivan

POLLS:
• Alaska Survey Research (Sept. 25-Oct. 4; 676 likely Alaska voters)
  Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) – 48%
  Al Gross (I/D) – 44%

• Harstad Strategic Research (Sept. 20-23; 602 likely Alaska voters)
  Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) – 46%
  Al Gross (I/D) – 45%


ARIZONA: Appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R) vs. Mark Kelly (D)
• Trend: Kelly

POLLS:
• Latino Decisions (Sept. 28-Oct. 6; 600 likely Arizona voters)
  Mark Kelly (D) – 47%
  Sen. Martha McSally (R) – 42%

• Ipsos (Oct. 3-5; 550 likely Arizona voters)
  Mark Kelly (D) – 48%
  Sen. Martha McSally (R) – 44%

• Data Orbital (Oct. 3-5; 550 likely Arizona voters)
  Mark Kelly (D) – 49%
  Sen. Martha McSally (R) – 44%

• HighGround, Inc. (Sept. 28-Oct. 5; 400 likely Arizona voters)
  Mark Kelly (D) – 50%
  Sen. Martha McSally (R) – 44%


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The Scenario: There’s an Electoral College Tie in the Presidential
Election; What Happens Next?

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 23, 2020 — As we move closer to Election Day, various scenarios are being discussed and theorized about who will win the presidential race and which states will fall to what candidate. A little-mentioned outcome, which is a mathematical possibility, is an Electoral College tie.

A deadlock would occur if each candidate received 269 electoral votes. Based upon the 2016 result, which saw President Trump receiving 306 electoral votes to Hillary Clinton’s 232, a tie would occur if the incumbent were to lose exactly 37 electoral votes from his previous performance.

The easiest way for that to occur is if President Trump and former vice president Joe Biden were to build the same coalition of states with the exception of Pennsylvania, Michigan and the 2nd District of Nebraska going from the Republican to Democratic column. In this instance, the two 2020 candidates, Trump and Biden, would have 269 electoral votes apiece.

If this were to happen, how is a tie in the Electoral College resolved? The answer: in the House of Representatives. The difference between the vote for president and a regular House vote is that individual members do not have his or her own vote for president. Rather, each state delegation has one vote.

Therefore, California, for example, with its 53 House members gets one vote for president. Conversely, the at-large states with one House member, such as Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming, would also each get one vote. So the vote for president skews toward the small states and rural regions.

Interestingly though, the Democrats control the House majority with 232 members and one Democratic vacancy to 198 Republican seats with one Libertarian sitting in what is typically a Republican seat and three GOP vacancies. Yet, if partisanship holds, the Republicans would win a presidential election vote 26 to 23 with one state, Pennsylvania, in a 9-9 split delegation. Assuming that the Keystone delegation would fail to agree on a candidate, the state would not be able to cast its vote.

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The Senate Trends

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 14, 2020 — The AARP organization yesterday released a series of polls covering nine Senate races in eight states that help set benchmarks for the most recent data.

AARP contracted with four polling firms, two Republican and two Democratic, and paired each with the opposite party pollster. The Benenson Strategy Group (D) partnered with the GS Strategy Group (R) for surveying Arizona, Michigan, and North Carolina.

The Fabrizio Ward firm (R) and Hart Research Associates (D) conducted the joint Colorado, Georgia (both races), Iowa, Maine, and Montana survey research. All of the polls were live interview with large sampling universes of likely voters unless otherwise noted.

Predominantly, the ballot tests find the Democratic candidate typically leading, but with the Republican improving his or her position in comparison to the previously released polling results.

Below are the AARP results followed by the two most recent reported surveys in each state:


ARIZONA
Benenson Strategy/GS Strategy (Aug. 28-Sept. 8; 1,600 likely Arizona voters)
• Mark Kelly (D) – 48%
• Sen. Martha McSally (R) – 45%
Previous:
• Change Research (D) – (Sept. 4-6) – Kelly +6
• Redfield & Wilton Strategies (UK) – (Sept. 30-Aug. 4) – Kelly +15


COLORADO
Fabrizio Ward/Hart Research (Aug. 30-Sept. 5; 800 likely Colorado voters)
• Ex-Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) – 51%
• Sen. Cory Gardner (R) – 46%
Previous:
• Morning Consult – (Aug. 21-30) – Hickenlooper +9
• Public Policy Polling (D) – (Aug. 18-19) – Hickenlooper +9 (voters)


GEORGIA-A
Fabrizio Ward/Hart Research (Aug. 30-Sept. 5; 800 likely Georgia voters)
• Jon Ossoff (D) – 48%
• Sen. David Perdue (R) – 47%
Previous:
• Public Policy Polling (D) – (Aug. 13-14) – Even (voters)
• Garin Hart Yang Research (D) – (Aug. 10-13) – Ossoff +2


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Where the Senate Stands

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 28, 2020 — A tough battle is underway for the US Senate majority, and both parties are fiercely attempting to assume control in the next Congress. Republicans hold a 53-47 majority, but a win in Alabama would send them to 54-46, and that makes the Democrats’ road to the majority all the more difficult.

Democrats need a net conversion of three Republican seats if Joe Biden is elected president, and four if President Trump wins re-election.

Today, we take a snapshot look at polling figures in the key campaign states. How the states listed below eventually fall will determine which party runs the Senate for the 117th Congress.

Below, we provide you the two most extreme results of recent publicly released surveys from the competitive campaigns. The Ellis Insight ratings depict where the race is today, which is not solely based upon polling.


ALABAMA – Lean R (possible conversion)

Morning Consult (July 24-Aug. 2; 80 likely Alabama voters)
• Tommy Tuberville (R) – 52%
• Sen. Doug Jones (D) – 35%

Auburn University at Montgomery (July 2-9; 55 registered Alabama voters)
• Tommy Tuberville (R) – 44%
• Sen. Doug Jones (D) – 36%


ARIZONA – Lean D (possible conversion)

Redfield & Wilton Strategies (Aug. 16-18; 856 likely Arizona voters)
• Mark Kelly (D) – 53%
• Sen. Martha McSally (R) – 34%

OnMessage (Aug. 2-4; 40 likely Arizona voters)
• Mark Kelly (D) – 48%
• Sen. Martha McSally (R) – 48%


COLORADO – Lean D (possible conversion)

Public Policy Polling (Aug. 18-19; 731 Colorado voters)
• Ex-Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) – 51%
• Sen. Cory Gardner (R) – 42%

Morning Consult (July 17-26; 61 likely Colorado voters)
• Ex-Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) – 48%
• Sen. Cory Gardner (R) – 42%


GEORGIA–A – Lean R/Toss

Garin Hart Yang Research Group (Aug. 10-13; 60 likely Georgia voters)
• Jon Ossoff (D) – 48%
• Sen. David Perdue (R) – 46%

Survey USA (Aug. 6-8; 62 likely Georgia voters)
• Sen. David Perdue (R) – 44%
• Jon Ossoff (D) – 41%


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The Senate Firewall

By Jim Ellis

June 29, 2020 — As many pollsters have done, Siena College and their New York Times polling partner just released survey data for the Arizona, Michigan, and North Carolina Senate races. This is largely because those three states have attracted much attention in the Democrats’ battle to topple the Republican majority.

But a group of four other states may be a better indicator of whether the Senate will flip in November, and all are competitive.

As Siena/NYT found, Democrats Mark Kelly and Sen. Gary Peters are maintaining an approximate 10-point lead in their respective contests in Arizona and Michigan. The North Carolina race, as it typically does, will generally sway between a one to four-point edge for either candidate depending upon the pollster and the time in which the specific survey was conducted. In the Siena/NYT poll, Democrat Cal Cunningham holds a tenuous three percentage point lead over Sen. Thom Tillis (R). During the same polling period as S/NYT (June 8-18), Gravis Marketing (June 17) found Sen. Tillis ahead by one point.

The GOP majority firewall, however, contains four other states. If the Republicans, likely now in the person of retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, converts the Alabama seat, and Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Steve Daines (R-MT) all win their respective campaigns, the Democrats’ road to majority control becomes rocky. Therefore, watching this quartet of states should provide us a better clue as to which party will control the Senate in the new Congress.

Since February, 14 polls have been released in Arizona and 12 in North Carolina according to the Real Clear Politics polling archives. The Michigan total is 13 and began in March.

In the four actual firewall states, however, little polling attention has been paid. Since February, the Alabama and Maine Senate races have seen just three public polls, apiece. Montana has been surveyed three times since March, and Iowa four from April to the present time.

Let’s now look at the path to the majority if the Republicans win and/or hold their four firewall states. In summary, Alabama must first be converted back to the Republican column. This brings the GOP majority to 54. Additionally, the 54 number must include incumbent victories for Sens. Collins, Ernst, and Daines.
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The Senate Barometer

Sen. Cory Gardner Senate campaign attack ads hitting former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper hard (see COLORADO writeup below)


By Jim Ellis

June 18, 2020 — Next to discussion of the presidential race, the political contests attracting the most political attention and debate are the 2020 US Senate campaigns.

As we know, Republicans have a 53-47 Senate majority, meaning the Democrats will have to convert a net three GOP seats if Joe Biden wins the presidency, or four if President Trump is re-elected. Many believe that the winning presidential candidate will also sweep in a Senate majority for his party.

Below is an update of the key races:


• ALABAMA: In many ways, this could be the most important race on the board. Republicans must convert this seat back to their column in order to provide a greater cushion toward protecting their chamber majority. Sen. Doug Jones (D), who scored a fluke special election win in 2017, stands for a full six-year term in November.

Republicans are in a runoff election that will be decided on July 14, postponed from the original March 31 date. In the March 3 primary, retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville placed first over former attorney general and ex-Alabama senator Jeff Sessions within a field of seven total candidates, 33-32 percent.

Runoff polling, however, gives Tuberville a large lead as the contenders enter the last month of the secondary election campaign. The May 26-27 OnMessage survey gave Tuberville a 49-43 percent edge, down considerably, however, from the 55-32% margin the former coach posted in a Cygnal research group poll conducted over the May 7-10 period.

Tuberville, with President Trump’s endorsement and running an ad saying Sessions’ appointment as AG is the president’s top regret since taking office, clearly has the advantage. In the general election, this race is a must-win for the GOP. If converted, the Republican majority expands to 54, which will be critical for their chances to hold.


• ARIZONA: Things continue to break retired astronaut Mark Kelly’s (D) way in the early going opposite appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R). Being one of the top national fundraisers with $31 million raised and millions more coming into the state in the form in independent expenditures, Kelly is the favorite to convert the seat in November. He has led in the last 11 publicly released polls, the latest coming from the Civiqs organization, polling for the Daily Kos Elections website (June 13-15), which posts Kelly to a 51-42 percent advantage.


• COLORADO: Sen. Cory Gardner (R) seeks a second term, and with the state’s electorate moving decidedly to the left since the incumbent’s original election in 2014, the Colorado race sets up well for Democratic conversion.

There is some weakness developing, however, surrounding Sen. Gardner’s likely Democratic opponent, former governor and presidential candidate John Hickenlooper. Recently, the Colorado Ethics Commission ruled that Hickenlooper, while governor, twice violated the state’s gift ban, which has caused him negative statewide publicity.

Now, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has launched an ad campaign underscoring the commission finding just as the former governor approaches his June 30 primary election against former state house speaker Andrew Romanoff. Sen. Gardner also is on the air in a new ad highlighting Hickenlooper’s statements during the presidential campaign when he was quoted extensively as saying he didn’t want to be a US senator. Taking this into consideration, more people are looking toward the Democratic primary, in which Romanoff is gaining some momentum. This general election is a must-win for the Democrats.
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