Tag Archives: President Obama

Dems Eye House Takeover

Considering the events of the past few weeks, Democrats are now buoyed over their improved chances of wresting the House majority away from the Republicans next year. Most of the early election cycle analysis has been about the Republicans’ chances in the Senate, but the Democrat’s offensive in district elections certainly deserves further attention.

First, a series of MoveOn.org government shutdown polls in Republican-held congressional districts, 61 to be exact, showed most of those particular GOP incumbents to be already trailing a generic Democrat candidate.

Second, the death of Rep. Bill Young (R-FL-13) opens one of 16 seats that in 2012 voted both for President Obama and a Republican congressman. The special election format could further aid the Democrats in their quest to win this seat.

Third, the surprise retirement announcement from sophomore Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR-2) puts a “Lean Republican” seat into play that had previously elected a Democrat in every term since 1982, consecutively, until the current incumbent won in 2010.

Fourth, the Democratic Party leaders report that their House candidate recruitment has substantially improved.

Though the cumulative effect of these recent events has, at least for the short term, improved the Democrat’s prospects, substantial hurdles remain to be overcome if they are to gain the net 17 seats needed to claim a one-seat majority.

The Dems’ top impediment is the small number of open seats (20), which feature only four currently competitive Republican incumbent-less seats. Therefore, the number of realistic conversion opportunities is modest. In the last cycle, by comparison, the number of open seats was a huge 62.

Second, the Democrats must defend at least 18 of their own seats where Republicans themselves have strong, or relatively strong, conversion opportunities. Realistically, the Dems will have to sweep this category to have any real chance of regaining chamber control.
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Special Election Today in MA-5

Continuing our coverage of this week’s special elections, voters go to the polls today in Sen. Ed Markey’s (D) former Boston suburban House district to begin the process of choosing a new member for the first time in almost 37 years. Markey, who originally entered the House in 1976, was elected to the Senate in June replacing former Sen. John Kerry (D) who President Obama appointed as Secretary of State.

It is likely that the first-place finisher in today’s Democratic vote will also win the special general on Dec. 10. Massachusetts’ 5th District is heavily Democratic: Obama ’12, 65 percent; Obama ’08, 66 percent; Markey ’12, 71 percent; Markey ’10 (District 7), 64 percent; Markey ’08 (District 7), 75 percent. Therefore, tonight’s Democratic victor becomes the prohibitive in December.

Seven Democrats vie for the party nomination, and internal campaign polls have shown five of those candidates to be within single digits of each other, meaning any one could conceivably win.

Four of the five strongest competitors are currently state legislators, three from the Senate. Katherine Clark, Karen Spilka, and Will Brownsberger are the senators; Carl Sciortino is a member of the state House of Representatives; and Peter Koutoujian is sheriff of Middlesex County.

The campaign polls made public, all from reputable survey research firms, have shown Sen. Clark holding the lead, but her margins have almost all been within a single point or two over both Sen. Spilka and Sheriff Koutoujian. Rep. Sciortino, by virtue of running a clever ad featuring his Tea Party member father that captured many voters’ attention thus causing his numbers to spike, and Sen. Brownsberger are within striking distance.

As is the case in all special elections, turnout will be key. Whichever of these candidates does the best job of getting their voters to the polls will be the winner. It is probable that less than 20,000 votes will crown a nominee. Since Massachusetts has no run-off system, a plurality of votes is all that’s necessary to win a party nomination.

On the Republican side, attorney Frank Addivinola, physicist Mike Stopa, and former Marine Tom Tierney are battling for their party’s nomination. The Republicans  Continue reading >

Daley Out in Illinois; Brown Improves in NH

Bill Daley

Bill Daley

Illinois

As quick and surprising as former US Commerce Secretary Bill Daley’s entry was into the Democratic gubernatorial campaign, so too is his exit. Daley, also a former White House chief of staff to President Obama, had been challenging Gov. Pat Quinn in the Democratic primary. Quinn assumed office when then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) was sentenced to prison and then won a razor-thin one point victory in the regular election against Republican Bill Brady back in 2010.

With Quinn’s approval numbers lagging and the state facing serious financial difficulty, Daley launched his effort to deny the governor renomination in April when he formed an exploratory committee. But now the former cabinet secretary and son of legendary Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley says he cannot “commit to what the voters may need,” meaning that he does not feel up to serving at least five and potentially nine years (counting the campaign time) in order to get the state “on the right track.”

The decision is good news for at least two people, Gov. Quinn and the eventual Republican nominee. Quinn will now likely avoid a serious primary contest that could heavily damage him for the general election. Early polling showed both he and Daley in the high 30s percentile. Obviously, an incumbent failing to break even 40 percent among members of his own party is a clear sign of inherent political weakness.

Despite abandoning his campaign, Daley reiterated that he believes he could win the race and that Quinn will lose his re-election, asking for “forgiveness” for being honest. Through the last financial disclosure report in June, Daley had raised over $800,000 for his gubernatorial campaign. He says he will conduct an audit of his committee and return contribution money that was not  Continue reading >

New Michigan Numbers Raise Questions

A new EPIC-MRA poll (Sept. 7-10; 600 registered Michigan voters) places Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and potential Republican senatorial nominee Terri Lynn Land in an improved political position just as next year’s active campaign cycle is beginning. But, the poll’s methodology may contain a flaw. The sampling universe is arguably skewed slightly toward the GOP.

The survey’s ballot test posts Gov. Snyder to a 44-36 percent lead over former Rep. Mark Schauer (D-MI-7), a net seven-point swing in the incumbent’s favor since the last EPIC-MRA poll was conducted in May.

For the Senate race, Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-14), the presumed Democratic nominee, is staked to only a one-point 38-37 percent edge over Land. In EPIC’s May poll, the firm tested Peters against Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI-8) who, at that time, was considering entering the race. The result found the Democratic congressman leading his Republican colleague 37-30 percent. The current EPIC findings are very similar to a late July Denno Research poll that plotted the two candidates – Peters and Land – in a 39 percent deadlock.

The study, however, may not accurately reflect the proper composition of the Michigan electorate. Generally a state that leans Democrat, the sampling universe constructed for this particular survey is comprised of 39 percent self-identified Democrats, 36 percent who affiliate with the Republicans, and 25 percent either saying they are independent or named a minor party with which they associate. Michigan voters do not register as political party members, so it is difficult to ascertain an accurate total of each party’s loyalists. But, considering the electorate has supported President Obama twice with percentage splits of 54-45 percent (2012) and 57-41 percent (2008), it is reasonable to argue that EPIC’s Democratic share is low.

On the other hand, in the 2010 mid-term election, Snyder carried the state 58-40 percent under a much lower voter participation factor (in 2008, five million people cast ballots; in 2010, the total turnout was only 3.2 million). Therefore, considering that we are soon headed into another mid-term election, the partisan spread of just over three points could, in fact, be close to accurate for such a projected turnout model.

The Candidates

Though the Democratic leadership has  Continue reading >

Political Fun in the Sun: Murphy vs. Hasner

The 18th Congressional District of Florida has, so far, lived up to its billing. Stretching through the central portion of the Sunshine State while hugging the Atlantic coast, CD-18 includes all or parts of St. Lucie, Martin, and Palm Beach Counties, and was drawn as a marginal political entity.

Last November, first-time candidate Patrick Murphy (D), a Jupiter attorney, upset nominal incumbent Allen West (R) by just over half a percentage point, or 1,904 votes of more than 330,000 cast ballots. Why categorize West as a “nominal incumbent”? Because redistricting drastically changed his 22nd District to the point where he chose to run in the new 18th, a seat that contained only about one-third of the constituency that originally elected him.

The 2012 eastern Florida political climate should have been sufficient for Rep. West to win, however, because Mitt Romney outpaced President Obama here by more than four percentage points, 51.7-47.6 percent. The closeness of the congressional race and Romney’s 18th CD performance gives the Republicans hope for a conversion in this next election under what should be a more GOP friendly mid-term turnout model.

Toward that end, the Republicans are apparently on the verge of getting the candidate who they believe can propel this challenger race into the top-tier. Though the numbers and political history suggest that the 2014 race will be close, the currently announced candidates have shown little, and Rep. Murphy is rated as the clear early favorite.

The presence of former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner (R), however, may quickly change the campaign’s status. Believed to be close to declaring his candidacy, Hasner is the strongest possible GOP candidate.

Originally in the 2012 Senate race, Hasner dropped down into a congressional race after redistricting was complete. Deferring to then-Rep. West for the 18th, Hasner took his chances in the heavily Democratic 22nd CD, facing former West Palm Beach mayor Lois Frankel (D). The race went to Frankel on a 55-45 percent count, virtually the same margin that President Obama scored in the district.

But Hasner’s firepower comes in his ability to attract campaign resources. Even in a losing effort, for a race few thought any Republican could win, the former state  Continue reading >