Tag Archives: Public Opinion Strategies

Trump Endorsement Matters in North Carolina Senate Primary

By Jim Ellis

Former President Donald Trump’s endorsement changes the face of the race for Senate in North Carolina.

June 16, 2021 — North Carolina US Rep. Ted Budd’s (R-Advance) Senate campaign released an internal Meeting Street Insights poll (June 9-10; 500 likely North Carolina Republican primary voters, live interview) Monday that finds former President Donald Trump’s endorsement completely changes the 2022 statewide Republican primary.

Rep. Budd is challenging former Gov. Pat McCrory and ex-US Rep. Mark Walker for the GOP nomination succeeding Sen. Richard Burr (R) who is not seeking re-election to a fourth term.

According to Meeting Streets, former Gov. McCrory would lead the field, as other polls have shown, by a wide margin. On the first ballot test, McCrory scores 45 percent preference as opposed to 19 perecent for Rep. Budd, while 12 percent choose ex-representative Walker.

The picture drastically changes, however, when the pollsters ask if the respondent is aware that former President Trump has endorsed Rep. Budd. Only 20 percent of the sampling universe expressed knowledge of this development. On what the pollster terms the “educated” ballot test, meaning the respondent is told that Trump has, in fact, endorsed Rep. Budd, we see the drastic transformation.

With the Trump endorsement becoming known, Rep. Budd soars to the lead with 46 percent support, while McCrory drops to 27 percent, and ex-Rep. Walker falls to eight percent.

McCrory’s campaign fielded a Public Opinion Strategies survey in early April (April 6-8; 500 likely North Carolina Republican primary voters, live interview) and found the former governor leading 48-13-9 percent over Walker and Budd, respectively.

This was followed later in the month by a Spry Strategies study (April 21-24; 700 likely Republican North Carolina primary voters; combination live interview and interactive voice response system) that found a 40-11-5 percent split, again with Rep. Budd trailing his two opponents.

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Major Senate Moves

By Jim Ellis

April 14, 2021 — With the Senate tied 50D-50R, and every 2022 campaign potentially meaning a change in majority status, we already see serious political moves being made or at least considered. This week began as being particularly active.

In the Last Frontier State of Alaska, 2020 Independent/Democratic nominee Al Gross, who opposed Sen. Dan Sullivan (R), confirms that he is considering challenging Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) next year. The state’s new top four jungle primary system would virtually guarantee that both Sen. Murkowski and Dr. Gross would advance into the general election should both decide to run. For her part, Sen. Murkowski has not yet formally declared her 2022 political intentions, but she is expected to seek re-election.

Dr. Gross lost to Sen. Sullivan, 54-41 percent, despite exceeding the incumbent’s fundraising totals by almost a 2:1 margin. The Independent/Democrat spent over $19.5 million as compared to Sen. Sullivan’s expenditure total of $10.1 million. A total exceeding $27.2 million was expended from outside organizations, over $18 million of which aided Dr. Gross’ campaign.

Already announced is Republican former State Administrative Director Kelly Tshibaka; a Cygnal research firm survey of 500 Alaska registered voters taken in late March actually found her leading both Sen. Murkowski and Dr. Gross. The ballot test broke 34-19-18 percent in favor of Tshibaka with Sen. Murkowski and Dr. Gross significantly trailing. Under the new primary system, however, all three of these contenders, and a fourth candidate, would advance into the general election.

Former Kentucky state Rep. Charles Booker, who lost the 2020 US Senate Democratic primary to party nominee Amy McGrath in a close 44-42 percent result, has filed an exploratory committee for purposes of assessing his chances against Sen. Rand Paul (R) in a 2022 campaign.

Booker was literally outspent 10:1 in the Democratic primary, as McGrath hauled in more than $20 million even before advancing into the general election. She never figured on having to spend so much to defeat her intra-party opponent, however. Booker was able to maximize his political base in Louisville and with the African American community statewide to pull within 15,149 votes of McGrath with more than 544,000 people casting ballots in the primary election.

Sen. Paul won his 2014 re-election campaign with a 57-43 percent margin over Lexington-Fayette Urban County Mayor Jim Gray (D), which is the second largest municipality in Kentucky. National Democrats were high on the Gray campaign at its outset, but the race never materialized in what became a landslide Republican election year.

Reports emanating from North Carolina suggest that former Gov. Pat McCrory (R) could declare his Senate candidacy as early as today. McCrory was elected governor in 2012 with a 55-43 percent margin but would lose his attempt at re-election by just 10,263 votes from more than 4.7 million ballots cast, or less than a quarter of a percent.

Largely entangled with the infamous North Carolina bathroom bill that became a national story, the governor could not steer himself clear of the controversy and fell to then-Attorney General Roy Cooper (D). McCrory had previously run for governor in 2008, losing to incumbent Bev Perdue (D) by just three percentage points. Prior to running statewide, McCrory served 14 years as Charlotte’s mayor.

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The Sleeper Race?

By Jim Ellis

Republican candidate Mark Ronchetti (left) and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-Nambe/Santa Fe)

Oct. 5, 2020 — It seems every election cycle features a surprise Senate contest. This year, that campaign may reside in New Mexico.

For months, it’s been a foregone conclusion that Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-Nambe/Santa Fe) would succeed retiring Sen. Tom Udall (D). Recent polling, however, suggests that Republican challenger Mark Ronchetti may have been discounted a bit too early.

The latest polling trends clearly show a narrowing margin. A new Public Opinion Strategies survey for the Ronchetti campaign (Sept. 26-28; 500 registered New Mexico voters; live interview) finds the upstart Republican climbing to within six percentage points of Rep. Lujan, 46-40 percent.

In June, Public Policy Polling (June 12-13; 740 New Mexico voters) projected Lujan holding a predictable 14-point lead, 48-34 percent. At the beginning of September, the Research & Polling firm tested the state (Aug. 26-Sept. 2; 1,123 likely New Mexico voters, live interview) and saw Lujan’s edge slipping a bit to 49-40 percent. In the middle of last month, POS tested the race two weeks before their aforementioned survey and found an almost identical result when compared to their current offering. The mid-September ballot test yielded a 45-39 percent split.

Mark Ronchetti is a former chief meteorologist for the Albuquerque CBS television affiliate in a media market that covers about two-thirds of the state, since it stretches northward to Santa Fe and beyond. Therefore, Ronchetti has significant name identification, though not in relation to politics.

Rep. Lujan won the state’s northern congressional district in 2008, succeeding Udall when he was first elected to the Senate. Prior to his congressional service, the six-term incumbent was a four-year member of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission.

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Poll: Feenstra Tops Rep. King in Iowa

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Steve King (R-Kiron) – in trouble in Iowa

May 22, 2020 — The June 2 primaries are fast approaching, and though very few House incumbents are in danger of joining Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) as a member who lost re-nomination in 2020, there is a serious intra-party challenge unfolding in northwest Iowa.

Hawkeye State veteran Congressman Steve King (R-Kiron) has been in political trouble during this entire term after making racially charged statements that led to the Republican conference stripping him of his committee assignments. Just within the past 10 days, King was again rebuffed in his attempt to re-claim his former duties.

The controversy is largely responsible for King drawing a very serious challenge from state Sen. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull/Sioux County). Feenstra has served six two-year terms in the state Senate, and previously as the Sioux County treasurer and Hull City administrator.

Through the March 31 candidate filing period, Feenstra had raised over $844,000 for his primary campaign and still had more than half to spend. Rep. King, on the other hand, was virtually out of money. His cycle receipts were under $302,000 and he had less than $27,000 in the bank.

Several polls have been released since the race took shape early this year and, up until now, all were from the Feenstra campaign pollster, American Viewpoint. At the end of January, due to his strong name identification from representing the district since the beginning of 2003, Rep. King posted a 53-22 percent advantage.

Three months later, AV detected King’s lead over Feenstra had dissipated to 41-34 percent. During the first week of May, the race grew even tighter with the challenger pulling to within three points, 39-36 percent. Feenstra was also picking up key endorsements, such as those from the US Chamber of Commerce and the Business-Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC). He also earned support from the National Right to Life Committee and secured an “A” rating from the NRA on the conservative social issues front.

Clearly, Feenstra’s momentum train is building steam and Wednesday a Public Opinion Strategies poll for the America’s Future Fund organization (May 16-18; 400 likely IA-4 Republican primary voters) found the challenger actually moving past Rep. King, 41-39 percent. POS segmented their numbers and it becomes clear that this will be a turnout primary.

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Questionable New Georgia Data

By Jim Ellis

Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R)

May 18, 2020 — The Public Opinion Strategies polling company, which conducts research for appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R), though that was not mentioned in their latest Georgia survey release, unveiled their new statewide study that finds the appointed incumbent moving up while other Republicans aren’t faring as well.

The statewide POS poll finds President Trump trailing former vice president Joe Biden by a single percentage point (47-46 percent), while Sen. David Perdue (R) is only edging Democrat Jon Ossoff by a 43-41 percent spread with an unknown Libertarian candidate attracting a rather high-seven percent support factor. The questionnaire then became focused upon the COVID-19 crisis and how the situation is being handled from Washington and Atlanta.

Previously Loeffler had dropped to fourth position in other Georgia polls, and she trailed Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) by a 2:1 margin while Collins led all the jungle primary candidates. The POS study (May 4-7; 500 likely Georgia voters) positions Loeffler in second, just one point behind Collins. Almost as mysteriously, while all other recent polling finds the northeast Georgia congressman capturing between 29 and 36 percent of the overall respondent preference, the Loeffler campaign poll sees him dropping 10 points and shows her leading him by a single digit (19-18 percent).

While the racial demographics of the POS 500-person sample of likely Georgia voters are a reasonable characterization of the state – though Hispanics are represented in only half of their actual percentage and Asians are under-counted, too – the partisan breakdown is flawed. (The lower Hispanic and Asian could be one reason Loeffler passed two Democrats to barely claw into second position.)

According to the poll’s small-sample data, 42 percent of the respondents are self-identified Republicans while 41 percent are Democrats. Another 16 percent say they are Independent. Additionally, while the female population base in the state is 51.4 percent statewide, women comprise more than 53 percent of respondents in this poll. Again, a relatively small number, but one that would benefit Sen. Loeffler most likely above any of the other candidates.

Let’s think about the partisan division. Georgia is one of 19 states where voters don’t register by political party, therefore it is impossible to tell exactly how many people identify as Republican, Democrat, or Independent. The electorate has certainly voted, however, in much better Republican numbers than this survey indicates.

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