Dec. 14, 2015 — Time sometimes changes perspective in politics. Three-term North Carolina Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-Dunn) came to Congress with a 2010 victory margin of just under 1,500 votes against then-Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-Lillington/Durham) in what became one of that cycle’s biggest Tea Party upsets. Now running for a fourth term, some of the congresswoman’s past allies are backing one of her Republican primary opponents. Her performance in office has disappointed various conservative segments.
This week, the Club for Growth, one of the most prolific conservative outside support groups endorsed Rep. Ellmers’ top primary opponent, former Chatham County Republican chairman Jim Duncan. The Ellmers’ conservative detractors have a major problem, however, in that the anti-incumbent vote is split among three candidates. In addition to Duncan, local radio talk show host Frank Roche and public relations executive Kay Daly are both in the race.
With the Club helping Duncan, his resource base will expand exponentially. He becomes Ellmers’ key challenger and, if the other two could be talked out of running before the upcoming Dec. 21 candidate filing deadline (for the March 15 primary), would be in strong position to deny her re-nomination. But, considering that North Carolina employs a 40 percent run-off rule, defeating any incumbent in a crowded field is a difficult proposition. To avoid a secondary election, Ellmers would only have to reach the 40 percent plateau to clinch the nomination, which, in the 2nd District is the tantamount to winning in November.
Dec. 2, 2015 — The early presidential calendar brings March congressional primaries to seven states. Instead of doubling the election cost with a stand-alone presidential primary followed by a commensurate state nomination event later in the year, several legislatures decided to move their entire cycle to an unusually early calendar slot.
The March primary states, aside from Texas and Illinois, which normally hold their nomination voting then, are: Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Ohio.
Alabama: Sen. Richard Shelby faces Republican primary opposition from four opponents, one of whom, businessman Jonathan McConnell, could self-fund a campaign should he choose to do so. This is a good example of where the short time frame hurts potential challengers. Sen. Shelby should have little problem disposing of his competition to win re-nomination for a sixth term. Should Shelby fall below 50 percent, a run-off election would be held on April 12.
All seven House members are seeking re-election. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL-1), Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL-2), Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL-3) and Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL-4) all face Republican opposition. All are favored to win without a run-off.
Oct. 8, 2015 — Gov. Maggie Hassan’s (D-NH) announcement Monday that she will challenge Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) changes the national Senate picture. Adding New Hampshire to the most highly competitive category is certainly an advantage for the Democrats but, even so, they are still short of obtaining what they need to recapture the Senate majority they lost in 2014.
As we know, 34 Senate seats are in-cycle for 2016, 24 of which majority Republicans hold. In order to gain control, Democrats must protect all 10 of their seats and convert four Republican states.
Looking ahead as to where the campaigns might find themselves in political prime time, those key eight weeks before the election, we’ve put together the following categories to show how the races break down state to state: Continue reading →
Sept. 8, 2015 — A quiet political week ended with national Republican Party officials breathing a huge sigh of relief. Last week, Donald Trump agreed to sign the Republican National Committee pledge, committing candidates to eschew an independent candidacy if failing to win the party nomination. The language includes a statement of support for whoever becomes the GOP standard bearer. Obtaining Trump’s agreement was critical because his widely publicized contemplation about running in the general election was sure to doom the Republican nominee if he sought the presidency as an Independent.
But, it likely wasn’t the RNC chairman and leadership who carried the greatest influence with Trump. Rather, key GOP state chairmen who were beginning to draft legally binding pledges were the ones who made the difference.
The RNC pledge is not an authoritative document, and there isn’t much national party leaders can do if Trump decides to change his mind and reverse course later in the process. Ballot access, after all, is controlled by each individual state. But, state-based ballot qualifying measures and pledges do matter, and can be determinant about whether a candidate appears on a specific ballot.
June 24, 2015 — The Quinnipiac University swing state polls attracted a great deal of media attention after their release Wednesday. With Hillary Clinton trailing three different Republicans in a trio of critical swing states, many believe this justifies the sinking feeling many Democrats are experiencing about her electoral chances.
Unlike many of the recent public polls that have captured major media attention, the Q-Poll sample sizes in the three states: 1,231 registered voters in Colorado; 1,236 in Iowa; and 1,209 in Virginia, are strong. The racial demographic segments largely appear sound though the sample is low for Hispanics in both Virginia and Colorado. While Donald Trump has been projected leading national ballot tests in other surveys, Quinnipiac does not include him in their isolated one-on-ones.
Though these polls do appear to have a slight – probably, two to three point – Republican skew, the results continue to reveal some fundamental weakness in Ms. Clinton’s candidacy. These surveys, and others like them, point to two critical areas that consistently cut against her viability as a national candidate. Continue reading >