Tag Archives: Nevada

House Candidates File in Two Competitive States

By Jim Ellis

Candidate filings have closed in both Nevada and Iowa.

March 23, 2022 — Though both are only four-district congressional states, Iowa and Nevada will both host a large number of highly competitive US House races this year, and now the candidates have filed.

The Senate races in both states are already well defined and will come to a head in the general election. In Iowa, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) is on the ballot for an eighth term having been first elected in 1980, and it is clear that he will face former US Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D) in the general election.

In Nevada, first-term Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) defends her seat most likely against former Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R), but he must first deflect a credible Republican primary challenge from businessman and disabled Afghan War veteran Sam Brown.

The Hawkeye State House races feature only one safe member, freshman Randy Feenstra (R-Hull/Sioux City). The other three races will again host tight campaigns as they did in 2020, which of course includes Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ (R-Ottumwa) six-vote victory.

In the new 1st District, Miller-Meeks will again campaign in a district not much different than the 2nd District that she carried by the slimmest of margins in the last election. She won’t again face former state Sen. Rita Hart (D), however. Despite coming agonizingly close to victory in 2020, Hart declined to seek a re-match this year. Democrats only filed one candidate, so state Rep. Christina Bohannan (D-Iowa City) and incumbent Miller-Meeks will compete in a venue that is likely to yield another close finish.

Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion/Cedar Rapids), who knocked off then-Rep. Finkenauer in what was Iowa’s 1st District, finds herself in a slightly more Republican 2nd District. Like in the new 1st CD, the Democrats filed only one candidate. In this seat, the Democrat nominee will be state Sen. Liz Mathis (D-Hiawatha) a former news anchor at the same television station where Hinson also reported the news. The new 2nd rates as R+6 according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization.

In the Des Moines-anchored 3rd CD, Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Des Moines) has won two plurality victories and looks to face another difficult re-election campaign in a seat that rates R+2. State Sen. Zach Nunn (R-Bondurant) looks to be the strongest Republican of the three GOP contenders and is the favorite to win the nomination. This will become a top national Republican conversion opportunity.

Not previously mentioned as a potential candidate against Nevada Rep. Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas) in a new 1st District that is much more Republican, former 4th District Congressman Cresent Hardy (R) filed at the deadline on Friday to officially enter the race.

Rep. Titus has expressed displeasure at the configuration of her new district that FiveThirtyEight calculates went from a current D+22 rating to a D+4 under the new plan. Dave’s Redistricting App finds the average 1st CD Democratic vote at 52.6 percent and the Republican percentage at 42.3 percent. This is considerably better than the seat where Titus averaged 62.1 percent in the five elections conducted during the previous decade.

As many as four other Republicans may qualify for the primary ballot, but Hardy appears to be the most formidable of the contenders. The new 1st District contest, in a CD that encompasses part of Las Vegas before moving south to include the cities of Henderson and Boulder City, will become competitive in the fall but is still an uphill battle for any Republican nominee.

Frequent candidate Danny Tarkanian (R), who last year was elected to the Douglas County Commission after a long string of electoral defeats, is again running for Congress. This will be his fourth quest for the US House in a third different district, on top of two Senate races. Previously, he lost a pair of campaigns in the 3rd CD and one in the 4th District.

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The Redistricting Scorecard

By Jim Ellis

In the trifecta of political parties controlling the House, Senate and Executive branches in a state, how many will really benefit from that power in the redistricting process?

Feb. 11, 2022 — There has been quite a bit of redistricting news surfacing during the past few weeks, with many analysts now reversing their earlier predictions about which party is the clear beneficiary from the re-draw process.

Most said early that the Republicans would benefit the most from redistricting and that map drawing alone would be enough to allow the party to reclaim the House majority. We, on the other hand, were showing that the cut would more than likely be about equal even though the GOP has a major advantage in trifecta states, that is, those where one party controls all three legs of the legislative stool, meaning the state Senate, state House, and the governor’s office.

Though the Republicans control 25 states outright from a redistricting perspective compared to the Democrats’ 15, the number of states where each can draw maps to expand their party’s congressional delegation really comes down to seven where Republicans control and a commensurate four for the Democrats.

What balances the process this year is that Republicans appear to have have only one state where they can gain multiple seats — North Carolina — while Democrats can run the table, and have, in two big states, New York and Illinois.

Where both parties suffer in their trifecta states is the number of places where they already control the maximum number of seats, or redistricting power has been transferred to a commission. Either one party already has all the seats in a state like the Democrats do in Massachusetts and the Republicans have in Arkansas, for example, or the state has only one at-large member.

In one place, West Virginia, even though the Republicans have a legislative trifecta, they will drop a seat post election. Currently, the West Virginia delegation consists of three Republicans, but the state loses a seat in national reapportionment. Therefore, the GOP majority had no choice but to collapse one of their own districts.

Articles are now appearing that suggest it is the Democrats who could end the redistricting process with a net seat advantage rather than the Republicans. This, as it has been from the beginning, is true.

In looking at the states once all 50 have adopted new congressional lines, it projects today that the Republicans would add approximately 13 seats, while the Democrats, with multiple seat additions in Illinois and New York, would gain 11 new members. Seven states remain undecided because their level of political competition is predicted to be intense.

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Cortez Masto Rebounds in New Poll

By Jim Ellis

Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D)

Feb. 4, 2022 — Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D), who trailed in the most recent published statewide poll (Trafalgar Group; Nov. 24-29; 1,034 likely Nevada general election voters; Adam Laxalt (R) 44 percent, Cortez Masto (D) 41 percent) has rebounded to regain the lead according to a new OH Predictive Insights survey, but warning signs persist for the first-term incumbent.

The OHPI poll commissioned for the Nevada Independent news site (Jan. 19-26; 755 likely Nevada registered voters, online) finds Sen. Cortez Masto topping former state Attorney General Laxalt (R) in a general election ballot test by a 44-35 percent margin. While the spread is relatively strong in her favor, posting a 44 percent support number is low for any incumbent.

For example, the same poll tested Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, and found his preference figure reaching 52 percent if Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo were his Republican opponent, and 54 percent if former US Sen. Dean Heller were to become the Republican gubernatorial nominee. Because OHPI forced preference answers, meaning no recorded undecided responses for the governor’s ballot test, the Sisolak support numbers are high. It is unlikely, however, that a traditional preference question would find him dropping to the senator’s current support level.

The OHPI pollster isolated Sen. Cortez Masto’s most significant problem as her being tied to President Biden’s low approval ratings. According to this study, the president only posts a 41:53 percent favorable to unfavorable job approval index, and 33 percent, which is the poll’s top issue response, said that the economy and jobs are most important to them. Isolating Biden’s score on his handling of the economy, the president’s disapproval rose to 55 percent, darkening the political climate for the senator even further.

Laxalt’s low support number (35 percent) is likely due to him recording only a 76 percent preference factor among Republicans. This is likely due to the fact that challenger Sam Brown, a businessman and disabled Afghan War veteran, is becoming a significant contender for the Republican nomination.

Though the GOP sample segment is low in the OHPI survey – only 230 respondents and well below the 300 that becomes statistically significant in a state the size of Nevada – we still see only 37 percent of the Republican base supporting Laxalt while 14 percent names Brown as their preferred candidate. This means that 49 percent of those Republicans polled say they are undecided about whom to support in the GOP Senate primary. Despite having a short sample, the results suggest that Laxalt still has work to do in securing the nomination.

Another changing element that could affect this race, but in a heretofore unknown way, are the party registration changes occurring throughout 2021. Comparing the partisan breakdown in the state from January of 2021 through December of last year, both the Democrats and Republicans lost patrons. Democratic registration dropped 2.9 percent, while Republicans were down 2.5 percent. This meant that those registering Non-Partisan and “Other” were up substantially.

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Rep. Titus (D) Decries Nevada Dem Map

By Jim Ellis

Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas)

Dec. 21, 2021 — Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas) is drawing a great deal of recent media attention largely for the vulgar way in which she described the Democrats’ new Sliver State congressional redistricting map before a meeting of the Nevada AFL-CIO.

She is upset because her once politically rock-solid downtown Las Vegas-anchored district is now in the competitive realm, and she believes the legislators not only did her a disservice, but endangered, from a Democratic partisan context, all of the Clark County districts.

At the labor meeting, Titus described what the state Democrats did by saying, as quoted in the Nevada Current online publication:

“… you read that the Republicans are using gerrymandering to cut out Democratic seats, but they didn’t have to in this state. We did it to ourselves.”

Nevada is one of the 15 Democrat trifecta states — which is where one party controls the governor’s office, the state Senate, and state Assembly — and therefore holds the redistricting pen. The number of places where they can actually gain congressional seats through the re-draw process, however, is only four: Illinois, New Mexico, New York, and Oregon, which is why it is critical for the Nevada Democrats to hold their three Silver State seats. Rep. Mark Amodei’s (R-Carson City) northern 2nd District, for geographic and political reasons, must remain safely Republican.

Rep. Titus, however, believes the final map puts all three of the state’s Democratic districts in jeopardy. Predicting what could be a difficult year for the party in Nevada, Rep. Titus apparently thinks Republicans could sweep the state’s four congressional seats in the 2022 election.

She further stated, again as the Nevada Current reported, that,

“Republicans are going to turn out, and they are excited. Democrats are kind of ‘meh, I have to pay more gas prices. Hispanics aren’t going to want to turn out if we don’t get something for immigration. I mean, why would they?”

Titus remembers the 2014 election cycle when Democratic turnout was so poor in a down year for her party that Republicans swept the ticket from top to bottom.

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The “Fail Up” Senate Candidates

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 16, 2021 — There is an interesting phenomenon developing in the 2022 US Senate races, and that is the number of currently leading primary nomination candidates who have lost their last race. No less than five current US Senate contenders, all topping the latest polling, were defeated the last time they were on the ballot, some even in political campaigns for offices with less prominence.

In recent election years, we’ve seen a number of candidates lose a race and then attempt to “fail up” in the next campaign year. Most of the time, the same result occurs. The seemingly lone exception to the rule is Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff (D), who lost a special election for the US House in 2017 only to run for the Senate in 2020 and be elected.

Turning to 2022 and the unusually high number of such “fail up” candidates allows us to see if this pattern can reverse itself, or if the vast majority of these contenders will again find themselves on the short end of the vote totals when their election cycle ends either in the nomination contest or general election.

The 2022 “fail up” Senate candidates are Abby Finkenauer (D) in Iowa, Adam Laxalt (R) from Nevada, Pat McCrory (R) and Cheri Beasley (D) in North Carolina, and Pennsylvania’s Sean Parnell (R). Dr. Al Gross, who lost the 2020 Senate race in Alaska is a possibility to enter the 2022 race in the Last Frontier, but so far has not announced his candidacy.

Finkenauer, a Democrat, is a former state representative and congresswoman from Dubuque, Iowa. She was elected to the House in 2018, only to lose her seat after one term, 50-47 percent, to current US Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion/Cedar Rapids).

Finkenauer is leading in early polling for the Senate Democratic nomination as she and retired Navy admiral and defeated 2020 US Senate candidate Mike Franken battle to challenge venerable Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) who has won seven US Senate elections. Early polling finds Finkenauer trailing by close to 20 points.

Laxalt was elected Nevada’s attorney general in 2014, but with only 46 percent of the vote in a place where his party swept all of the statewide offices in that election year with his being the lowest victory percentage. Laxalt then entered the open 2018 governor’s race but lost to current incumbent Steve Sisolak (D), 49-45 percent. The latest polling (September) finds him trailing Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) by five points in a Mellman Group survey but holding a two-point lead in a study from WPA Intelligence.

North Carolina actually features candidates in both parties leading in nomination polling after losing their last race. McCrory is the former governor who lost his 2016 re-election campaign, even while Donald Trump and seven other Republicans were winning their statewide elections.

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Nevada and Utah Maps Released

Nevada 2021 proposed Congressional redistricting map

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 12, 2021 — Two new proposed redistricting maps were released early in the week, both of which the Dave’s Redistricting App personnel, from the statistical analysis website that specializes in redistricting, call partisan gerrymanders. Democrats drew the Nevada map in anticipation of the special state legislative session beginning next week; Republicans crafted the Utah plan that has now cleared both houses of the state legislature.

In 2020, two of the Las Vegas area congressional districts turned in close re-election victories for Democratic incumbents, Rep. Susie Lee (District 3: 49-46 percent) and Rep. Steven Horsford (District 4: 51-46 percent). The Democratic controlled legislature is looking to improve their districts, from a partisan perspective, but that comes at the expense of Rep. Dina Titus’ downtown Las Vegas CD (District 1) that will become more competitive should this map be enacted as currently drawn. Titus’ 2020 victory spread was 62-33 percent.

Utah 2021 proposed Congressional redistricting map (click on map to see larger view)

The Utah Republican legislature’s redistricting team has designed a new map that would give all four Republican incumbents equivalently strong GOP districts. The big winner is freshman Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Salt Lake City), who sees his marginal district grow from one that produced only his plurality Republican victory over then-Rep. Ben McAdams (D) into the safest Republican seat in the state.

As with many of the smaller population western states with an expansive land mass and one metropolitan area that dominates the entity, the Republican map drawers chose a pie-shaped option, that is a plan where all of the state’s congressional districts share a piece of, in this case, the Salt Lake City metro area.

The Nevada map, on paper, is designed to send three Democrats and one Republican to the US House. The lone Republican, Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Carson City), will again have the northern 2nd District, a seat too far from Las Vegas to take any part of the metro area.

The geography, and the number of people in Nevada’s northern sector, makes drawing a 4D-0R map almost impossible. Therefore, in order to help craft three districts that Democrats should win in typical election years, the map drawers packed as many Republican voters as possible into the one northern district.

Dave’s Redistricting App’s analysts divided the new districts on a partisan basis, but their percentages are estimates. Almost 30 percent of the Nevada electorate registers as Nonpartisan, so dividing only into Democrat and Republican segments may not be particularly accurate.

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Q3 FEC Senate Cash Updates

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 22, 2021 — The 3rd Quarter campaign finance summaries and reports are now publicly available at the Federal Election Commission website, and we have the recap for the key competitive Senate races in this Update. As typical for political campaigns since the latter part of the previous decade, the dollar figures are again astronomical.

The amounts are in hundreds of thousands, and COH refers to the candidates’ total cash-on-hand figures since the 2022 election cycle began. The Daily Kos Election website statisticians calculated the 3rd Quarter dollar amounts.

Alaska

CANDIDATE 3rd QTR RAISED (,000) TOTAL COH (,000)
Murkowski $1,062 $3,244
Tshibaka $460 $294

Sen. Lisa Murkowski and former State Administration Director Kelly Tshibaka are the only two candidates who filed disclosure reports. Despite an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, the Tshibaka financial figures are less than expected. With Alaska’s new top four primary system, the early money is rather irrelevant since four candidates, including Sen. Murkowski and Ms. Tshibaka, will advance into the general election.


Arizona

CANDIDATE 3rd QTR RAISED (,000) TOTAL COH (,000)
Kelly $7,217 $13,001
Masters $1,008 $864
Brnovich $559 $515
Lamon $133 $3,606

Sen. Mark Kelly continues to be one of the most prolific fundraisers of all Senate candidates. His huge $13.1 million cash-on-hand figure is topped only by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s $31.8 million, and Sens. Raphael Warnock’s (D-GA) $17.2 million and John Thune’s (R-SD) $14.8 million. Candidate Blake Masters is rumored to be benefiting from an outside $10 million Super PAC that billionaire Peter Thiel funds. Candidate Jim Lamon self-funded most of his $3 million-plus cash-on-hand total.


Florida

CANDIDATE 3rd QTR RAISED (,000) TOTAL COH (,000)
Demings $8,351 $5,967
Rubio $5,928 $9,612

Sen. Marco Rubio had a very strong fundraising quarter, but so did his opponent, Rep. Val Demings. Both have large war chests, but each has already spent millions to achieve these totals. Both candidates will advance into a competitive and expensive general election campaign in the Sunshine State.


Georgia

CANDIDATE 3rd QTR RAISED (,000) TOTAL COH (,000)
Warnock $9,432 $17,217
Walker $3,764 $2,477
Black $564 $928

Sen. Raphael Warnock raised more money in the quarter than any Senate candidate and already has a huge war chest. Herschel Walker’s first fundraising quarter as a candidate, and a partial one at that, has to be considered highly successful, but his resources pale in comparison to the incumbent’s dollar raising machine.


Iowa

CANDIDATE 3rd QTR RAISED (,000) TOTAL COH (,000)
Finkenauer $1,019 $598
Grassley $814 $3,064

Sen. Chuck Grassley announced his intention to seek re-election just a week before the third-period fundraising cycle ended. While he didn’t raise as much as his present chief opponent during the third quarter, former US Rep. Abby Finkenauer, his resource total is substantially better than hers and sets him in strong position to launch a massive fundraising effort.


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