Tag Archives: Montana

Moving to the General

By Jim Ellis

June 4, 2020 — The June 2nd primary featured 10 states, and now the candidates are set for November. Below is a recap of the races from Tuesday’s primary that project as competitive this fall, and an early prognosis for each.


IN-5:

• St. Sen Victoria Spartz (R) vs. Christina Hale (D)
Trump ’16: 53-41%    |   2018 Congressional: 57-43% R (Brooks)

Ukrainian born state Senator Victoria Spartz topped a field of 15 Republican candidates with 41% on Tuesday night, after a nasty primary that resulted in some of the other contenders running ads touting that they were born in America. Democrat Christina Hale, a former state Representative and 2016 Lt. Governor nominee, had an easier time in her primary, and won with 39% of the vote, which was slightly under pre-election estimates.

Ms. Spartz is the favorite to win in November in a traditionally Republican district, but one that is moving more toward the center. Democrats will see how this race begins to unfold, but this is a seat on their secondary target list. We can expect Spartz to be tested early, and if the numbers suggest an opening, the Democrats will go for an upset win.


IOWA-SENATE:

• Sen. Joni Ernst (R) vs. Theresa Greenfield (D)
Trump ’16: 51-42%    |    2016 US Senate: 60-36% R (Grassley)

Iowa is one of three Republican firewall states to keep the Senate majority, with Montana and Maine being the other two. Sen. Joni Ernst seeks her first re-election and is now paired with Des Moines real estate executive Theresa Greenfield. The Democratic establishment backed Greenfield, but she came under attack in the primary and defeated two opponents with 47% of the vote, a bit under pre-election projection.

All races in Iowa are competitive, so we can expect intense political competition here from the presidential race all the way through each of the state’s four House districts. Polling will show the Senate race as close until Election Day, but what should be another Trump victory here will help set the table for the remainder of the races. Sen. Ernst is rated as a slight favorite as the general election now officially begins.


IA-1:

• Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D) vs. St. Rep. Ashley Hinson (R)
Trump ’16: 49-45%     |     2018 Congressional: 50-45% D

Freshman Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-Dubuque) defends her seat for the first time and faces a top opponent in Republican state Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Cedar Rapids), a former television news anchor. The 1st District looked to be the safest Democratic seat in the state after 2011 redistricting, but the electorate hasn’t voted that way. This will be a top tier Republican challenge race, and one to watch. Rep. Finkenauer certainly begins with the incumbent’s advantage, but the IA-1 campaign is a top national GOP target. If the Republicans are to have any chance of re-taking the House majority, Ms. Hinson will have to win.


IA-2:

• Rita Hart (D) vs. St. Sen. Marianette Miller-Meeks (R)
Trump ’16: 49-45%     |     2018 Congressional: 54-42% D (Loebsack)

The 2nd District, located in Iowa’s southeastern sector, is the district that has played best for Democrats during the decade despite President Trump carrying it in 2016.

Democrats feature former state Senator and 2018 Lt. Governor nominee Rita Hart who was even unopposed in an open seat primary. Republicans counter with first-term state Senator Marianette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa), who begins her fourth race for the congressional seat. Ms. Hart is the clear favorite here, and Dr. Miller-Meeks will have to prove her credibility nationally after three losses. If she does not begin the general election in competitive fashion, this race will quickly turn Ms. Hart’s way.
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Rep. King (R) Falls in Iowa;
Mrvan, Fernandez Clinch Seats

By Jim Ellis

June 3, 2020 — Ten entities held primary elections yesterday, and among the voting results we saw a second US congressman being denied re-nomination, as well as two primary victors who have virtually secured their seats in the next Congress:


Former VP Joe Biden

• DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Former vice president Joe Biden easily won the DC primary last night in capturing 78 percent of the vote, which is a significant improvement over his last two performances in Oregon and Hawaii. Biden is now within shouting distance of officially clinching the Democratic nomination and will do so next week when six more states vote in their primary elections.


• IDAHO: 2018 gubernatorial nominee Paulette Jordan with her 86 percent Democratic primary win yesterday will challenge Sen. Jim Risch who seeks a third term. Sen. Risch is a clear favorite to win in November.

Both US Reps. Russ Fulcher (R-Meridian) and Mike Simpson (R-Idaho Falls) were easy winners for re-nomination scoring 80 and 72 percent victories, respectively, and each has minimal opposition in the general election.


• INDIANA: Biden recorded a solid 76 percent in his Hoosier State Democratic primary. Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) will square-off with Democratic former health commissioner Woody Myers in November as both men were unopposed in yesterday’s primary. Gov. Holcomb appears safe for re-election in the fall.

North Township Trustee Frank Mrvan, with retiring Rep. Peter Visclosky’s (D-Merrillville/Gary) endorsement, defeated Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon (D-Lake County) in the open 1st Congressional District, and now becomes the prohibitive favorite to succeed Visclosky in the next Congress.

In the Indianapolis area’s 5th CD, state Sen. Victoria Spartz (R-Noblesville) scored an impressive victory over three Republican opponents to capture the party’s open seat congressional nomination. Spartz will now battle former state representative and 2016 lieutenant governor nominee Christina Hale (D) in the general election. Likewise, Hale defeated three Democratic opponents to win her nomination. The Ukrainian born Spartz is favored to succeed retiring Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Carmel) but the Democrats are expected to make a run at the seat.

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Ten Primaries Today

By Jim Ellis

June 2, 2020 — Super June is here. During the month, almost half of the country (24 entities) will hold nomination elections, 10 of which have moved their voting days to June from earlier dates. Here’s today’s lineup.


• DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Washington, DC voters will vote in a Democratic presidential primary that still features three individuals who are no longer contenders. Former vice president Joe Biden will defeat Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), along with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), but the question to watch surrounds the strength of his vote percentage. It is arguable that his last two performances in Oregon and Hawaii fell below what a virtually unopposed presumptive nominee typically receives.

DC voters will also nominate candidates for Delegate to the US House of Representatives and for members of the DC City Council.


• IDAHO: The Idaho primary began with in-person voting on May 19, but Gov. Brad Little (R) extended the absentee ballot return deadline to today, June 2. Therefore, no votes will be counted until the mail votes are received today. The presidential primary was held earlier as a stand-alone vote, so this election in the state’s regular primary.

Sen. Jim Risch seeks a third term and is unopposed for re-nomination in the Republican primary. On the Democratic side, 2018 gubernatorial nominee Paulette Jordan, a former state representative, is favored. Reps. Russ Fulcher (R-Meridian) and Mike Simpson (R-Idaho Falls) face only minor opposition in their respective primaries. Sen. Risch and both congressmen are all prohibitive favorites in November.


• INDIANA: Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) leads the state ticket this year and is unopposed in the primary, as is Democratic former health commissioner, Woody Myers. Gov. Holcomb appears safe for re-election in the Fall.

With no Senate race in the Hoosier State this year, the US House delegation features two open seats that will attract most of the attention on primary night.

Veteran Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-Merrillville/Gary), first elected in 1984, is retiring after serving what will be 18 terms in the House. The Democrats will keep this seat (Clinton ‘16: 54-41 percent) so today’s election will almost assuredly choose the new representative. Of the 14 candidates, only two currently hold elective office, Mayor Tom McDermott of Hammond and state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon (D-Lake County), and both figure to be major contenders.

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Montana Shock Poll

By Jim Ellis

(Left) Montana Sen. Steve Daines (R); Gov. Steve Bullock (D)

May 7, 2020 — Montana State University at Bozeman’s research arm just completed a survey of their state’s electorate (April 10-27; 738 Montana adults, 458 likely Montana voters) and produced a surprising tally in the Senate race.

According to MSU Bozeman, Gov. Steve Bullock (D) has jumped out to a 46-39 percent lead over first-term Sen. Steve Daines (R) even with President Trump posting a 5.6 percentage point advantage over former vice president Joe Biden (46.3 – 39.7 percent) within the same sampling group.

Though Montana is viewed as a Republican state, and it generally performs as such in most federal races, the margins usually aren’t particularly lopsided, and Democrats have done well in statewide contests up until 2016. Except for Gov. Bullock’s 50-46 percent re-election victory that year, Republicans running in the wake of Trump’s 20-point landslide win over Hillary Clinton, swept the other races.

Several notes about this poll: first, the questioning period lasted 18 days, a very long time for a likely voter sample size of 458 individuals. Typically, such surveys are conducted over a three-day period. Such an implementation interval substantially increases the error rate.

Second, though the error factor is stated as 4.6 percent, the chairman of the university’s political science department, Dr. David Parker, stated in a local Helena KTVH television news story, that the Senate race is within the margin of error and in reality too close to call. While his conclusion may well be accurate, the ballot test shows a margin between Bullock and Daines of seven percentage points, meaning that the result is well beyond the polling margin of error. Therefore, Dr. Parker’s comments suggest the methodology actually yields an error factor larger than stated, which is more consistent with the elongated sampling time feature.

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COVID & Redistricting

By Jim Ellis

April 29, 2020 — The deadline for the Census Bureau to release the new population data is March 31, 2021, but with the entire process being delayed due to COVID-19 precautions, the ability to meet the requirement is becoming more difficult by the day. Already, the Bureau has been delayed in dispatching their door-to-door teams necessary in obtaining the responses from people who did not return their mail tabulation form.

The Trump Administration is reportedly suggesting that the March 31 deadline be postponed to sometime in the summer of 2021. If this happens, we will see a series of redistricting problems ignited in the states. First, the political leaders in New Jersey and Virginia, places that have 2021 elections and need their new state legislative lines in place well before that date, would find themselves in a difficult position.

Initially, the two states would certainly have to postpone their primary elections because both nominate their general election candidates in June. Beyond that, it is possible they would have to even postpone their general elections into 2020 or run in the obsolete boundaries that were drawn back in 2011. In either case, we could expect lawsuits being launched from whichever party loses a particular electoral contest.

Other states would be affected, too. Many have legal deadlines in place mandating that the new redistricting maps for state legislature and the US House delegation be adopted before the legislative sessions ends. Most states recess before mid-summer, which would mean special sessions being called if the legislature is to act.

The problem intensifies in the states that are either gaining or losing congressional districts in reapportionment. Currently, it appears that seven states will add seats to their delegations (the best projections suggest that Texas will gain three, Florida two, and Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon one apiece), while 10 will lose single districts (Alabama, California [for the first time in history], Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia).

The aforementioned apportionment is based upon calculations released publicly and not, of course, using the actual numbers. Therefore, we could see some differences between these projections and what the formulas actually produce when the Census Bureau finally can produce the updated real figures.

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