Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

Va., Pa. Gubernatorial Glimpses

Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling has decided not to enter this year’s gubernatorial campaign as an Independent candidate. In an email communication sent to his supporters that sounded very similar to one he sent on Feb. 28, Bolling indicated that his decision not to run largely revolved around the ability to raise enough money to run a “winning” campaign for Virginia governor, in addition to his distaste for what he terms the “rigid ideology” of today’s modern politics.

“In many ways I fear that the ‘Virginia way’ of doing things is rapidly being replaced by the ‘Washington way’ of doing things and that’s not good for Virginia. As a result, the political process has become much more ideologically driven, hyper-partisan and mean-spirited. Rigid ideologies and personal political agendas are too often placed ahead of sound public policy and legitimate policy disagreements too quickly degenerate into unwarranted personal attacks. This makes it more difficult to govern effectively and get things done,” Bolling wrote as part of his message.

The development should result as a big plus for consensus Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, the state’s attorney general. Though polling generally indicated that Bolling’s entry really didn’t move the race dramatically toward presumed Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe, over the course of the campaign that would likely have been the result. Without Bolling in the race trying to chip away moderate Republican support from Cuccinelli, the attorney general will have a better chance of unifying his party’s support for the general election campaign.

Polling has shown that the McAuliffe-Cuccinelli race begins as a dead heat and there is a good chance that the campaign will remain in such a mode all the way through Election Day.

Corbett Down

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) appears  Continue reading >

Upward Mobility

Even at this early point in the 2014 election cycle, a grand total of 32 House members have either indicated they will run for another office or are mentioned as considering doing so. Below is a listing:

  • Arkansas – Rep. Tom Cotton (R) – reportedly moving toward a challenge to Sen. Mark Pryor (D), but has yet to finally decide.
  • Georgia – The free-for-all to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) is touching a large number of Georgia House delegation members.
    • Rep. John Barrow (D) – has twice publicly said he has no plans to run for Senate, but may now be changing his mind. He is reportedly pressuring Democratic Party leaders to help clear the primary field so he has the maximum amount of time to raise general election funds without the pressure of a primary.
    • Rep. Sanford Bishop (D) – though he has received little coverage about a possible Senate bid, Mr. Bishop has reportedly been telling people in his 2nd District that he is seriously considering running for the seat.
    • Rep. Paul Broun (R) – announced Senatorial candidate
    • Rep. Phil Gingrey (R) – Georgia political insiders rate him as “very likely” to run for Senate.
    • Rep. Tom Graves (R) – announced that he will not run for Senate.
    • Rep. Jack Kingston (R) – clearly making moves to run for the Senate but has been known in the past to shy away from taking political chances. Today, he is a likely candidate, but that may change when next year’s filing deadline approaches.
    • Rep. Tom Price (R) – originally thought to be a sure Senatorial candidate, Mr. Price is now putting  Continue reading >

Schwartz, Peters Likely to Stay

Rep. Schwartz (D-PA-13), Rep. Peters (D-MI-14)

Rep. Schwartz (D-PA-13), Rep. Peters (D-MI-14)

There has been some political speculation of late that Pennsylvania Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA-13) and Michigan Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-14) will forgo their 2014 re-election campaigns in order to challenge their respective Republican governors.

The new Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) assignments suggest that both of the aforementioned members of Congress will remain in their current positions, however. Schwartz has agreed to become the committee’s National Finance Chair and Peters will serve as the Candidate Recruitment Committee’s Vice-Chairman.

Their willingness to accept high-level House campaign-oriented positions sends the clear signal that both believe their future, at least for the short term, remains in the House and not in running for a state-based office.

Pennsylvania Electoral Votes

Pennsylvania state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R) is at it again. In the last legislative session, Pileggi introduced legislation to apportion Pennsylvania’s electoral votes as opposed to continuing the winner-take-all system. Maine and Nebraska already split their small number of electoral votes, hence there is precedence for a state deciding to divide its presidential EV allotment.

In the period prior to the 2012 presidential election, Pennsylvania was viewed to be a battleground entity and the state bifurcating its votes would have undoubtedly helped the Republican nominee. The Pileggi bill would have awarded two votes to the presidential candidate winning the statewide vote and one apiece for each of the 18 Pennsylvania congressional districts.

Sen. Pileggi was unable to pass his bill because the state’s marginal district Republican congressmen were opposed to the concept. They believed the presidential campaigns targeting their specific districts for individual electoral votes would potentially make their own road to re-election more difficult. They convinced enough of their state legislative colleagues to derail the effort.

Now Pileggi has a different approach. His new bill will still award two votes for the presidential candidate winning the statewide vote, but then apportion the remaining 18 EVs based upon popular vote percentage for the candidates on the statewide ballot. Since Pennsylvania is a Democratic state, but a close one (in 2012 President Obama carried PA 52-47 percent, for example), the winning candidate (Obama) would have received the two at-large votes plus another 10 based upon winning 52 percent of the popular vote instead of 20 under winner-take-all. Republican nominee Mitt Romney would have received eight votes. The PA vote totals would more than likely split this way – the winner receiving 12, the loser eight – in virtually every election.

It remains to be seen if the senator can gather enough support among Republicans — Democrats will not support the idea because it will weaken their nominee — in both houses of the legislature in order to send the bill to Gov. Tom Corbett (R). But, one major obstacle — Republican congressional opposition — has ostensibly been eliminated under this new approach.

Unexpected Voter Turnout Patterns

We wish you the best for the happiest of Thanksgiving holidays. The PRIsm Political Updates will return Monday, Nov. 26.

The official state participation and candidate preference statistics are being released throughout the nation, and many of the numbers are quite surprising. While turnout was down nationally, it was up in most of the battleground states and, despite Pres. Barack Obama’s victory, it may be erroneous to assume that the turnout pattern completely favored him.

While it is clear the president obviously benefited from the voting preferences of the aggregate group of people who cast ballots during the election process, it is interesting to note that he was only able to return 91.5 percent of the total vote he received in 2008. In contrast, losing national Republican nominee Mitt Romney retained 99.4 percent of John McCain’s 2008 vote. Obviously Romney needed to do better than to simply equal McCain’s vote, but it is significant that Obama’s share of the vote declined by almost a full 10 percent from what he obtained four years ago, especially when understanding that the Obama campaign clearly had the superior grassroots organization.

Nationally, and rather astonishingly from what was widely forecast before the election, overall voter turnout was down six million votes from the number cast in 2008, or a fall-off of 4.7 percent. It appears that virtually all of the drop-off came from the Obama coalition, as the president’s vote receded by almost that same amount as did the national turnout (voter participation reduction: 6,148,768 individuals; Obama drop: 5,917,631 votes).

The four core states also recorded interesting turnout patterns. Of the quartet of places that Romney needed to convert if he were to unseat the president, it was North Carolina — the only state in this group that he did carry — that had the highest participation rate increase from 2008. North Carolina voter turnout was up 4.5 percent in comparison to their aggregate number of voters from four years ago. Virginia and Florida, two of the three core states that remained with the president, also saw increased participation. Virginia was up 3.5 percent; Florida 1.0 percent.

Ohio, often believed to be the most important state in the presidential contest because it was viewed to be a national bellwether, surprisingly recorded a lower turnout this year than during the previous Obama victory campaign. Ohio turnout was down a rather substantial 5.9 percent, or greater than 336,000 participants from 2008.

Of those seven states commonly viewed to be in the secondary target group — at least one of which Romney would have had to have carried to be successful, more if he failed to carry all of the core states — four saw increased participation, and three declined. The states producing a greater number of voters were in the Midwest (Wisconsin, up 2.4 percent; Iowa, increasing 1.9 percent) and West (fast-growing Nevada adding 4.5 percent; Colorado, up 3.1 percent).

The three eastern and Mid-Atlantic states all recorded a smaller voter participation rate. Pennsylvania, always considered a swing state and a place that attracts a great deal of campaign attention, saw its voter turnout rate fall 6.1 percent; Michigan, the only state in the Union that actually lost population in the preceding decade, dropped 5.7 percent; and New Hampshire returned almost the same number of voters, coming in just 5,091 ballots under their 2008 total.

It appears the biggest voter drop-off occurred in some of the nation’s largest states, those that are most Democratic and among the president’s strongest places. His home state of Illinois, for example, saw more than 431,000, or 7.8 percent, fewer people vote this year than when compared to their favorite son’s first election in 2008. New York had the largest drop-off, a stunning 19.8 percent below its participation level of four years ago. California, the nation’s largest state, was off 12.5 percent. But, lower turnout rates were not confined only to the large Democratic states. Texas, the biggest and most loyal Republican entity, also saw a reduction in turnout. Over 112,000 fewer voters went to the polls in 2012 when compared to 2008.

More analysis will be completed when additional data is available, but these statewide turnout numbers may have produced more questions about the nation’s voting patterns than answers.

GOP Senate Momentum Has Stalled

The Indiana Democratic Senate campaign of Rep. Joe Donnelly released its internal Global Strategy Group poll (Oct. 28-30; 600 likely Indiana voters) that posts their man to a 43-36-9 percent advantage over Republican Richard Mourdock. The latter number is going to Libertarian Party candidate Andrew Horning. Mourdock countered by making his internal data public, a poll that claims his deficit is only one point. But even this latter margin is a reduction in support for the reeling Republican as a rape-related abortion comment in the final candidates’ debate could prove to be the deciding factor.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Rep. Mike Pence probably confirms Donnelly’s lead with his latest actions. Though releasing positive numbers for his own campaign and that of the presidential contest, the Pence team remained mum on the Senate race, leading to speculation that their internal data also shows Donnelly leading.

Taking Indiana would be a huge boon to the Democrats and will go a long way toward achieving their goal of holding the Senate majority.

In two western states, however, the GOP trend may be improving.

The National Mining Association, through their continuing Count on Coal campaign, launched an attack against Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester. The group goes so far as to say that Tester has joined Pres. Barack Obama’s “war on coal” for not supporting the coalition efforts and for his backing of federal regulations that have largely undermined the state’s coal production operations. Along with the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, Tester has refused to sign onto the Montana coal petition that pledges to protect the industry. Despite being a place of just under one million inhabitants, Montana ranks fifth in the nation in coal production, producing slightly under 45 million tons in its apex year of 2010.

Republican Denny Rehberg signed the pledge, as have most other candidates throughout the state, and the coal group is trying to make this issue the deciding factor of the campaign. In a race that has polled even for months, one coalition group heavily promoting a critical issue position could have a major effect. Energy issues are making an impact in races across the country, especially in the West.

Conflicting polls are now coming from New Mexico. Rep. Martin Heinrich, the Democratic nominee, released his internal GBA Strategy numbers (Oct. 27-29; 600 likely New Mexico voters) that again places him 10 points ahead of former Republican congresswoman Heather Wilson. But, earlier this week, Wilson countered with her own Public Opinion Strategies survey (Oct. 21-22; 500 likely New Mexico voters) that showed her topping Heinrich, 44-43 percent in this case, for the first time in the campaign.

Heinrich’s numbers have held for most of the election cycle, and he has been in stronger position than one would have guessed running against a Republican former representative who proved she could win repeatedly in Democratic regions. If her earlier POS data is correct, it might signal that her campaign could be peaking at the right time and become the Republican sleeper race that many people suggested it might be earlier in the year.

Overall, however, the Democrats look to be in the more favorable position than Republicans in Massachusetts, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The GOP is likely to convert Nebraska, and is trending more positively in North Dakota. With the likely loss of the Maine seat to Independent Angus King, the Republicans could be trading two of their current seats for two others, but this still leaves them four short of majority status.

If Indiana and Montana cancel each other from a party division perspective, and Elizabeth Warren unseats Republican Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts, the Democrats could actually end the night breaking even, or losing fewer than the four seats than the GOP needs to snatch away the majority. Democrats are protecting 23 seats in this cycle as compared to the Republicans’ 10, thus giving the GOP many offensive opportunities. But their early positive momentum has definitely stalled.

Little Change in Two Years

Less than one week before Election Day 2012, we know little more about the projected outcome than we did when the campaigns began in earnest almost two years ago. At that time there was uncertainty about the presidential election. A feeling persisted that Pres. Barack Obama could certainly win re-election, but enough vulnerability existed that a strong challenger could deny him a second term.

With majority Democrats having to protect 23 of the 33 in-cycle contests, control of the Senate appeared up for grabs. With the 2010 state legislative elections swinging hard toward the Republicans, thus giving them clear control of the redistricting process, it became a foregone conclusion that the House GOP majority would be sustained in a post-reapportionment election year with newly drawn congressional district boundaries.

Two years later and six days away from the people’s decision, we still have no counter-arguments to any of these observations.

According to all of the latest national polls, the presidential race is a virtual tie. Seven national pollsters released popular vote surveys yesterday and the biggest spread among the group was Rasmussen Reports producing a two-point lead for Republican Mitt Romney. Five of the polls were showing one-point margins either way, and one, Public Policy Polling for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), showed a 49-49 percent tie. It simply doesn’t get any closer.

Turning to the states, we find equally close numbers though the Romney position has improved in many key electoral vote havens. Think of the model that stated the Republican needed to convert Indiana, the 2nd Congressional District of Nebraska (because the state awards it electoral votes individually for the candidate carrying each congressional district), Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio and one other Obama state larger than Vermont or Delaware. Today, Romney looks solid in Indiana and NE-2, and good in Florida and North Carolina, while improving to even footing in Virginia. But this standing, while much better than his Republican predecessor’s of four years ago, does not clinch victory.

The next tier becomes determining. The Romney trends in Ohio are improving, and at least one pollster, Rasmussen Reports, actually has the challenger forging ahead in the Buckeye State by the slimmest of margins. All other survey research firms show either a tie or a slight Obama lead. Trends seem to be moving Romney’s way in Colorado. Iowa, Wisconsin and New Hampshire are all still very much in play, and are virtually deadlocked. Obama has been recently drawing stronger numbers in Nevada. Movement could still occur in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota and possibly even Oregon, but it is likely that these states are only flirting with the Republicans and will return to the Democratic fold on Election Day.

Though there are still ways for Romney to win nationally without carrying Ohio, assuming the rest of our analysis rings true, he likely won’t unseat the president without winning what is becoming the deciding state. It is very likely that the way Ohio eventually votes will determine who remains or becomes president. Amazingly, the election is still simply too close to call.

The Senate remains just as tight, though Democrats are in good position to hold at least a bare majority. There are still 14 Senate races projected to be within the margin of error, so anything can still happen. The outcome of the presidential race will likely help decide all of these critically important, and virtually dead even contests.

There are ominous signs on the near horizon for the president, however. As an incumbent, going into an election tied rarely leads to victory. The Obama campaign confirms Romney’s momentum by consistently promoting a negative message. Additionally, aggregate estimates from all of the early voting states suggest that the Democrats are more than 20 percent behind their 2008 pace of returning the ballots to the election officials. They are still responding in greater numbers than Republicans, but the Democratic margin is certainly down. And, finally, we are all basing our predictions on polls showing a zero to two-point difference when their own error factor is 2.5 to 3.5 percent.

It’s clear this election will be very close and it’s possible we could be headed to political overtime, meaning absentee ballot counting could again make the difference, just as it did in 2000.