Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

This Time in 2016

By Jim Ellis

Does Arizona hold the key in a Trump-Biden candidacy?

April 23, 2020 — It is interesting to revert back to April of 2016 to see just how Donald Trump was faring against Hillary Clinton and compare those results with today’s survey research. Thanks to the Real Clear Politics website and their polling archives, the day-by-day polling data from four years ago is still available so we can track the Trump-Clinton campaign historical progress with the new Trump-Joe Biden impending national contest.

The key point to remember about national presidential polling is that the aggregate ballot test means very little yet is the subject of most political research studies. Knowing what voters think about the campaign in places like Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin is much more important when attempting to project a final outcome, but we see far fewer numbers coming from these places than we do nationally.

In 2016, we will remember that almost all analysts and political prognosticators were predicting a Clinton win, and virtually all national polling was revealing an advantage for the former secretary of state, US senator, and First Lady, yet Trump emerged the winner. After the election, most surface analysis reported that the polling was in error, but such was not generally the case. The preponderance of polling, which predicted a narrow Clinton popular vote victory was actually correct; as we will remember, Clinton finished ahead of Trump in a close plurality.

With this background in mind, let’s look at what the various polling firms are projecting this month for the Trump-Biden race and compare it to the available data from 2016.

In April 2016, through the 15th of the month, three national polls had been released from individual or collaborating media entities: CBS News (April 8-12), NBC News/Wall Street Journal (April 10-14), and Fox News (April 11-13). This year, we see a more active April polling month that yields nine studies from eight different pollsters.

In 2016, the three testing entities all predicted Hillary Clinton to be holding the advantage over Donald Trump, by margins of 10 (CBS), 11 (NBC/WSJ), and 7 (Fox) percentage points. A little over six months later, Clinton would carry the national popular vote by 2.1 percentage points but lose the presidency because the key states broke toward Trump, which added up to an Electoral College win.

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Will Michigan & Wisconsin Voters Determine 2020 Presidential Election?

By Jim Ellis

April 6, 2020 — Polls were just released in both Michigan and Wisconsin, obviously two critically important states that will weigh heavily in determining the final outcome of the next presidential election. While it’s too early to take any general election poll as a true projection of what may happen in November, particularly in light of the current unique situation, the survey did reveal some interesting points.

Progress Michigan’s Lake Effect newsletter: “The governors’ approval ratings pertaining to the [coronavirus] crisis are better than those of the president.”

Public Policy Polling tested the Michigan electorate for the Progress Michigan progressive left organization (March 31-April 1; 1,01 registered Michigan voters) and Marquette Law School just completed their quarterly survey of Wisconsin voters (March 24-29; 81 registered Wisconsin voters). Both made public their results.

We won’t pay too much attention to the ballot tests because it is so far away from the actual vote and the political situation is obviously going to change during the coming months, but the two pollsters found President Trump and former vice president Joe Biden within the margin of error in each state. In both cases, it was Biden who enjoyed a three-point lead.

Within this prism, it is important to recall the 2016 race in which polling badly underestimated Trump’s strength against Hillary Clinton in these two places. According to the 270 To Win organization, which tracked polling throughout that election year, the final averages going into the final weekend found Trump trailing by six points in Michigan and seven in Wisconsin. He won each state by approximately one percentage point, thus proving a large error factor in virtually all of the late polling.

A post-election analysis in which the Pew Research Center and CNN participated, among other firms and media outlets, concluded that a major reason for the flawed projections were the much larger number of Democrats willing to respond to the polling questions than Republicans. Even understanding this was the case at the time, the pollsters’ weighting formulas and algorithms still badly missed the mark throughout the crucial Great Lakes region.

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Candidate Filings Completed in Battleground State of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Congressional Districts

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 21, 2020 — While the Democratic presidential debate of a couple nights ago is getting most of the political news coverage, Democrats and Republicans completed their filings to run for office in one of the country’s major political battlegrounds, the Keystone State of Pennsylvania.

While the state will be one of the most important in the presidential race, it also yields a significant political playing field for the House of Representatives. There is no Senate or gubernatorial election in Pennsylvania this year.

From their 18 House districts, we see only three incumbents drawing primary opposition, and only one of the intra-party challengers appears credible. The state primary is April 28.

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Levittown) has one primary challenger, investment company executive Andrew Meehan, but he had raised only $35,000 through the end of last year. It is assumed that Meehan has personal wealth, but whether or not he invests in his own long-shot campaign is as yet unknown.

Freshman Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Swarthmore) draws Democratic opposition from businessman Lou Lanni, but he does not appear politically credible. Raising only $8,000 through the end of last year, Lanni is not running a competitive campaign. With little to fear from Republicans in this district, Rep. Scanlon appears to have an easy run for her first re-election.

The most interesting primary likely lies in Pittsburgh. Veteran Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pittsburgh) faces two Democratic opponents, one of whom looks credible. While pastor Janis Brooks does not appear to be a competitive primary contender, attorney Gerald Dickinson, on the other hand, had already raised $173,000 at the end of the year, all from individual contributors. It is still very doubtful that Rep. Doyle will be denied re-nomination, but this is the one primary campaign to watch for a developing challenge.

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Delegate Reallocation
Brings Increase to 4,750

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 22, 2020 — As we approach the first votes being cast for the Democratic presidential nomination next month, the Democratic National Committee has reallocated delegate slots among certain state contingents, thus increasing the size of the overall delegate universe to 4,750.

The changes are relatively substantial within the states when compared to the last national convention in 2016, while the recent Super Delegate total sees an increase of five new votes. The alterations within the state counts — an increase in every affected place but California — feature an additional 210 delegate votes when compared with the totals from four years ago.

Most of the boosts reflect a reward for increased Democratic votes in the 2016 and 2018 elections. The calculations include results in the recent races for president, US Senate, US House, governor, and for state legislature. States that hold their presidential nominating event after April 1 are also rewarded.

The largest increases are found in New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey where their respective delegations have grown by 50, 33, and 19 slots respectively, largely due to Democratic gains in the US House and state legislatures particularly from the 2018 elections. New Jersey, for example, converted a governor’s chair to the Democratic column in their 2019 election, after gaining five congressional seats in 2018 and ‘16, thus accounting for their delegation increase. And, all three states vote after April 1.

California’s regular delegate total has been reduced by one vote, possibly for moving their previous June primary to before April 1, on Super Tuesday, March 3. The state still has, by far, the largest contingent with 494 total delegates and 415 of those voting on the first ballot. The next largest delegation, after calculating their increase, is New York with 320 overall delegate slots, 274 of which are eligible to cast first-ballot votes.

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New House Census Projections

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 3, 2020 — The Census Bureau just released its new population growth estimates for the 12-month period between July 1, 2018 and July 1, 2019. Their data allows us to assess just which states will likely gain and lose congressional districts in 2020 reapportionment, both in terms of the real numbers just presented and for projecting the final count once the decade’s final-year patterns are calculated and the census is actually conducted.

The national population growth rate was analyzed to be 0.5 percent, down from the peak period of the decade, the July 1, 2014 through July 1, 2015 time segment, when the growth factor reached 0.73 percent. The population patterns of movement to the south and west continue, with the northeast actually seeing a population decrease during the aforementioned reported 12-month period that ended on July 1. The Midwest is not keeping up with the national rate of growth, either, but not losing overall population.

Ten states actually lost population during the reported period, led by West Virginia’s 0.7 percent drop. Alaska declined by 0.5 percent, with New York and Illinois each losing 0.4 percent. Hawaii dropped by 0.3 percent, Connecticut, Louisiana and Mississippi 0.2 percent, and Vermont (0.1 percent). New Jersey is the tenth population reduction state, but it lost only 3,835 people from a population of more than 8.9 million individuals for a 0.0004 percent decrease.

The fastest growing states at this point in the decade are Idaho (2.1 percent since July 1, 2010), Nevada, Arizona, and Utah (all at 1.7 percent increase during the same period), Texas and South Carolina (1.3 percent), Washington and Colorado (1.2 percent), Florida (1.1 percent), and North Carolina (1.0 percent).

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Impeachment: First Political Clues

By Jim Ellis

President Donald Trump | whitehouse.gov

Dec. 16, 2019 — As we move toward the impeachment vote in the full House and the impending Senate trial to determine whether President Trump should be removed from office, a great deal of speculation exists about how voters will respond to this situation. A series of early December polls from the most critical swing states gives us a clue.

Firehouse Strategies/Optimus commissioned simultaneous polls within the Dec. 3-5 period in the top swing states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. As we remember, all of these places gave Trump a small victory margin in 2016. Phoenix-based pollster OH Predictive Insights conducted a poll of the Arizona electorate during the same period. Firehouse found sampling groups numbering between 551 and 610 respondents in the three states. OH used a slightly larger 628 person sample cell in the Grand Canyon State.

Both pollsters tested President Trump in each targeted state against former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and ex-New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg.

In all instances President Trump led his prospective opponent when individually paired. Since he had been trailing in similar ballot test responses from several previous polls in the Great Lakes States and was about even in Arizona, the change at the height of the impeachment proceedings suggests that he is seeing a net positive early return from the legal attack.

Of course, much could change before the process concludes, but this first data does provide us an interesting political snapshot as it relates to impeachment perceptions. As a rule, general election polling before the parties nominate their presidential candidates is usually irrelevant but, considering the present impeachment overlay, these numbers appear to be significant and particularly so because they are originating from critically important states.

For President Trump to win re-election, he must carry all five of the states in his 2016 coalition that typically vote Republican but have been trending closer to the Democrats since the last presidential election. Those are: Arizona, Georgia, and Texas. Florida and North Carolina are always swing states in virtually every election and will be again in 2020. To win, the president must first carry all of these aforementioned states. If so, he then would need to win just one of the Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin trio in order to yield a bare Electoral College majority.

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The Great Lakes’ Poll

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 12, 2019 — The Cook Political Report in conjunction with the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation of San Francisco sponsored a four-state survey, called the “Blue Wall Voices Project,” covering key Great Lakes states to determine Democratic presidential primary standing within the region among other issues.

The poll has an unusual methodology in that the survey period was long (Sep. 23-Oct. 15) and the 3,222 registered voter respondents, who were invited to participate, could do so through an online link or by calling to speak with an interviewer. The four selected states were Michigan (767 registered voter respondents; 208 likely Democratic primary voters), Minnesota (958; 249), Pennsylvania (752; 246), and Wisconsin (745; 274). The survey questionnaire contained 36 questions about issues, candidates, approval perception, and demographics, many with several subsets.

In terms of general election positioning, the results in all four states lead to the conclusion that President Trump is in need of refining his message since the respondents’ answers cut severely against his perceived positions on trade, immigration, and foreign affairs in particular.

Short-term, the Democratic presidential responses were of greatest interest and, in all four of these important states, we see a legitimate multi-candidate contest developing with less than three months until the first votes are cast in the Iowa Caucus.

While signs are beginning to surface that Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is gaining some traction in Iowa, a must for a Midwestern candidate, her home state poll shows her moving into the delegate apportionment mix.

Under Democratic National Committee rules, a candidate must obtain 15 percent of the at-large and congressional district popular vote in order to win committed delegate votes. According to the Cook/Kaiser survey, and including those who say they are leaning toward a particular candidate, Sen. Klobuchar attracts 15 percent among her home state Democratic respondents, in second place behind Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s 25 percent.

The top tier is tightly bunched after Warren. After Klobuchar’s 15 percent, former Vice President Joe Biden notches 14 percent, with Sen. Bernie Sanders right behind at 13 percent. Extrapolating this poll over the period before Minnesota holds its primary on Super Tuesday, March 3, suggests that all four of the contenders will qualify for a portion of the state’s 75 first-ballot delegate votes.

We see a similar split in Michigan, though Klobuchar is not a factor here or in any other tested state. Again, Sen. Warren leads the pack, also with support from a full quarter of the respondents. Following are Biden and Sanders with 19 and 15 percent, respectively. The Wolverine State has 125 first-ballot delegates.

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