Tag Archives: Redistricting

NY Overreach = GOP Majority

CNN’s New York state redistricting map (more coverage on CNN)

By Jim Ellis — Nov. 22, 2022

House

New York State: Redistricting — There is an argument to be made that the New York Democratic redistricting brain trust helped create the new Republican US House majority. With their over-reach on the original map that the legislature and governor enacted, the end result became so egregious that even the Democratic lower and upper courts rejected the congressional map as a pure partisan gerrymander.

The original enacted plan would have yielded a 22D-4R partisan split in the NY congressional delegation of 26 members, thus costing the Republicans four of the eight Empire State seats they control in the current Congress.

Once the votes were cast on Nov. 8 in the districts that the judges’ special master drew to replace the legislature’s plan, the end result saw Republicans not losing four seats but rather gaining three in relation to the current map and seven when compared to the Democrats’ original draw.

Therefore, instead of the intended 22D-4R plan, the New York delegation now headed to Washington is comprised of 15 Democrats and 11 Republicans. With a small Republican majority of what ultimately may be 220-222 seats once the outstanding California and Alaska races are finally projected, the NY swing is arguably the difference in determining which party controls the House.

The Democrats’ map would have reduced the Republicans to just one seat on Long Island, taken the lone district they have in New York City, turned the GOP’s Syracuse seat strongly Democratic, and collapsed the southwestern Upstate seat of resigned Rep. Tom Reed (R) as the lost district in national reapportionment.

You will remember that New York lost a congressional seat by just 89 people when the Census Bureau announced each state’s congressional district compilation under the national reapportionment formula.

After striking down the legislature’s map and replacing it with their own special master’s plan, the court in effect restored much of New York to its historic congressional district pattern.

Under the legislature’s plan, Long Island’s 1st District (Rep. Lee Zeldin) was drawn from the far eastern part of Suffolk County all the way into Queens. This led to stashing a preponderance of the region’s Republican voters in Rep. Andrew Garbarino’s (R-Sayville) South Shore 2nd District. The concept then allowed the map architects to make Districts 3 and 4, both open in 2022 with Reps. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) running unsuccessfully for governor and Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) retiring, safely Democratic. The court undid this design.

Now, the 1st District returns to a Suffolk County anchored seat, a CD that Republican Nick LaLota, a former local official and Navy veteran, won to succeed Rep. Zeldin. Rep. Garbarino is back but with a less Republican South Shore seat, which then created a marginal North Shore District 3 seat that Republican George Santos won 54-46 percent in a domain that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates D+4.

The biggest surprise in New York, and perhaps the country, came in Rep. Rice’s open 4th CD, where Republican Anthony D’Esposito defeated heavily favored Democrat Laura Gillen, 52-48 percent, in a district that actually became more Democratic under the court map at D+10.

The other Republican gains came in the Hudson Valley, where state Assemblyman Mike Lawler (R-South Salem) upset Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chairman Sean Patrick Maloney (D-Cold Spring) in a D+7 District 17, and Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro (R) rebounded from a special congressional election loss in August to claim a 51-49 percent win in a new 19th District rated as R+1.

In the 18th District, state Assemblyman Colin Schmitt (R) came within a percentage point of sweeping the Hudson Valley seats for the GOP, but Rep. Pat Ryan (D-Gardiner) held onto the 18th CD seat after he had won the 19th District special election three months earlier.

The Republican victory string ended with tech executive Brandon Williams (R) defeating former intelligence officer Francis Conole (D) by a percentage point to hold the open Syracuse seat, and former New York Republican Party Nick Langworthy easily won the new 23rd District from which Rep. Reed resigned and Rep. Joe Sempolinski (R-Canisteo) is serving as a caretaker.

The New York 2022 election cycle illustrates just how important map drawing and judicial decisions are in determining US House elections. The New York courts, for example, created a much more competitive political playing field, which certainly led to different results than we would have seen under the legislature’s partisan draw.

Considering that the US Supreme Court is likely to make landmark Voting Rights Act rulings on the Alabama and North Carolina cases before June ends next year, we will likely see new redistricting maps being drawn in several states, and New York could be one of those places. Any newly constructed map would take effect in the 2024 election. A major Supreme Court decision will add yet another dimension to what already promises to be another hot House campaign cycle coming in the new term.

Poll Posts Walker to Small Lead; Grassley Maintains Double-Digit Lead; Tight Polls in FL-13, NM-2

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022

Senate

Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and Republican challenger Herschel Walker

Georgia: University of Georgia Posts Walker to Small Lead — The University of Georgia, polling for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper, one of the more accurate of Peach State pollsters (Oct. 16-27; 1,022 likely Georgia general election voters; live interview), now becomes the sixth of the most recent seven survey research entities to project Republican Herschel Walker as having a slight lead over Sen. Raphael Warnock (D). The result means the contest is a dead heat with Walker up only 46-45 percent.

With the early vote reports favoring an increased Democratic performance based upon the party’s 2020 performance and Republicans not doing as well at this point, suggests that, first, we will have a very close finish, and second, the chance of advancing into another post-election runoff election could well occur since it is possible that neither candidate reaches the 50 percent mark. Under Georgia election law, candidates must exceed 50 percent to claim victory. Therefore, we could see a runoff election between the two major party candidates occur on Dec. 6 with Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver eliminated.

Iowa: Sen. Grassley Maintaining Double-Digit Lead — In the closing days of this Iowa Senate race, 89-year-old incumbent Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) is looking much stronger after two separate polls suggested the race had closed to within three percentage points. The new Cygnal firm’s Hawkeye State poll (Oct. 26-27; likely Iowa general election voters) projects the senator to be holding a 54-43 percent advantage over retired Navy Adm. Mike Franken (D).

Grassley’s favorability index, however, is down to 49.9 – 43.5 percent favorable to unfavorable. The pollsters find the generic question breaks +14 for Republicans. Though this is down from their previous poll, such a rating is substantial and should prove favorable for the GOP up and down the ticket next Tuesday night.

House

FL-13: Tight Poll in GOP Must-Win — The vacant 13th Congressional District in Pinellas County has been viewed as a must-win for the GOP if they are to score big on election night. Until he resigned to concentrate on his statewide race, ex-representative and former governor, Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg), represented the district. After redistricting, this seat became much more Republican — R+12 according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization.

A St. Pete Polls survey (Oct. 26-27; 509 likely FL-13 general election voters; interactive voice response system) sees Republican Anna Paulina Luna only slightly ahead of former Defense Department official Eric Lynn (D), however. This will be yet another race to closely monitor on election night.

NM-2: A Virtual Tie — The Democratic redistricting operation made New Mexico’s southern congressional district as favorable as possible for the party’s 2022 nominee, but polling continually shows this race will go down to the wire. While Las Cruces City Councilman Gabe Vasquez (D) leads in surveys, his margin is only two percentage points, 47-45 percent, over freshman Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-Alamogordo) according to the latest Research & Polling company survey (Oct. 20-27; 410 likely NM-2 general election voters; live interview).

Since the poll has an error factor of 4.8 percent, this race can clearly go either way. This is the fourth poll released regarding this race since July. All show a margin for Vasquez of two points or less.

Governor

Georgia: Kemp Up Well Beyond Margin of Error — The aforementioned University of Georgia poll for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (see Georgia Senate above) also tested the state’s competitive governor’s race. Here, incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp (R) has led former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D) in polling throughout the election cycle. The UGA poll is consistent with this common finding.

Again, running far ahead of Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker, Gov. Kemp posts a 51-44 percent advantage, well beyond the polling margin of error for such a statewide poll. The question becomes whether Kemp’s strong partisan run will be enough to develop a turnout model that helps Walker across the finish line, as well.

Movement in NC; Oklahoma Senate Races Headed Toward GOP, But Republican Gov. Stitt Trailing; Grassley Trouble in the Polls Deepens

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022

Senate

Former North Carolina state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley (left) and Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance)

North Carolina: Finally, Some Movement — The open North Carolina Senate race has been languishing as a dead heat — a virtual tie between US Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley (D) for months. On Monday, East Carolina University released a survey (Oct. 10-13; 902 likely North Carolina voters; text & online) that finds Rep. Budd pulling away to a 50-44 percent advantage.

According to the poll analysis, the change is coming from the female sector. In the university’s September poll, Beasley led among women with a substantial 52-41 percent margin. The current respondent sample sees her lead among the female respondents dropping to 48-46 percent. Among men, Budd leads 54-39 percent.

Oklahoma: Both Senate Races Headed Toward GOP — While two polls find the Democratic candidate trending ahead in the Oklahoma gubernatorial race, the same polls, Amber Integrated study (Oct. 13-15; 500 likely Oklahoma general election voters) and Ascend Action, polling for Fox News Oklahoma TV stations (Oct. 10-12; 638 likely Oklahoma general election voters; live interview), projects the Republican candidates in both the regular and special US Senate elections to be in strong position.

Amber Integrated’s regular election poll shows Sen. James Lankford (R) holding a 52-36 percent margin over Democrat Madison Horn. In the special, Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Westville) leads former US Rep. Kendra Horn (D) by a similar 52-39 percent count. Ascend Action sees Sen. Lankford leading 51-37 percent, and Rep. Mullin posting a 50-39 percent spread.

House

GA-2: Rep. Bishop Up Only Four — A recent Trafalgar Group survey of the southwest Georgia electorate (Oct. 14-16; 515 likely GA-2 Democratic primary voters; multiple sampling techniques) projects Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Albany) holding only a 50-46 percent advantage over GOP attorney Chris West, suggesting yet another close congressional race.

This one, unlike several others we’ve covered in the past two weeks, is not a particular surprise. Post-redistricting, the FiveThirtyEight data organization rated the new GA-2 seat as a D+4. Therefore, the Trafalgar poll is indicating the district is performing exactly as the voting history yields. Before the 2021 redistricting map was passed, the district was rated D+6. While Rep. Bishop remains the favorite for re-election, this is another pending Nov. 8 electoral contest that merits watching.

Governor

Oklahoma: Gov. Stitt Trailing in Two Surveys — We are now continuing to see data suggesting that Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) is in serious trouble against Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister (D). Two surveys find Hofmeister claiming a polling lead against the governor. The Amber Integrated research study (Oct. 13-15; 500 likely Oklahoma general election voters) gives Hofmeister a slight 46-45 percent edge.

Ascend Action, polling for Fox News Oklahoma TV stations (Oct. 10-12; 638 likely Oklahoma general election voters; live interview), sees a much larger Hofmeister lead. The latter poll projects a ballot test of 49-42 percent. Last week, the small-sample Sooner Poll (Oct. 3-6; 301 likely Oklahoma voters) was the first to detect a Hofmeister lead. The news organization found a 47-43 percent spread. A Democratic upset here would be surprising, but the data is suggesting that such an outcome is a clear possibility.

Iowa: Selzer & Company’s Different Result — Yesterday, we reported on a Selzer & Company poll for the Des Moines Register newspaper that sounded warning bells for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R). According to the Senate ballot test, the veteran incumbent led retired US Navy Admiral Mike Franken (D) by a scant 46-43 percent margin.

Now, Selzer is releasing its gubernatorial results culled from the same data (Oct. 9-12; 620 likely Iowa general election voters), and it should give the Grassley campaign even more cause for concern. The polling sample gives Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) a 52-35 percent margin against Democratic marketing consultant Diedre DeJear, a strong margin for a Republican candidate in what is typically a swing state.

House Updates – Including Gerrymandering: AL, CO, NM, NJ & NY

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022

House

Alabama redistricting map

Redistricting: Supreme Court Hears Alabama Case — In one of the first cases on the US Supreme Court’s new term docket, oral arguments were heard for the Alabama racial gerrymandering redistricting case, which could result in a landmark ruling relating to future interpretation of the Voting Rights Act.

The state of Alabama is arguing its reasons for keeping the state’s congressional map, which features one strong majority minority district. The US government is arguing that a second minority seat can be drawn. The presentations consumed more time than usual for Supreme Court oral arguments, and now it is up to the nine justices to craft a definitive ruling, which will be released sometime before June next year.

In November, the high court will hear oral arguments on the North Carolina redistricting case, which will lead to a definitive ruling pertaining to judicial power over the constitutional authority of state legislatures.

CO-3: Rep. Boebert’s Slight Lead — Despite representing a relatively safely Republican western slope 3rd Congressional District, Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt) looks to have a competitive race on her hands as we begin the campaign cycle’s final weeks. Colorado-based Keating Research conducted a poll for the Adam Frisch (D) campaign (Sept. 28-Oct. 2; 500 likely CO-3 voters; live interview & text). The ballot test results found Rep. Boebert’s lead shrinking to 47-45 percent, down from Keating’s 49-42 percent spread detected in its July survey.

Expect to see countering numbers from either the Boebert campaign or the National Republican Congressional Committee to soon be released.

NM-2: Gerrymandered District Yields Dem a Slight Edge — The Global Strategy Group, polling for the Gabe Vasquez (D) campaign, tested the NM-2 electorate to determine the state of the race featuring freshman Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-Alamogordo) and Vasquez, a Las Cruces City councilman. The GSG survey (Sept. 20-26; 500 likely NM-2 voters; live interview) sees Vasquez pulling ahead of Rep. Herrell, 45-43 percent.

The result is not particularly surprising in that the Democratic legislature and governor crafted the new 2nd CD to flip. Before redistricting, the FiveThirtyEight data organization rated the seat, R+14. Post-redistricting, we see a D+4 categorization. This district will still yield a close finish, and voter turnout will tell the ultimate tale.

NJ-7: Rep. Malinowski Internal Poll Shows Dead Heat — The Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research organization conducted a congressional poll for two-term Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill), who is again in a tight battle with former state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R). In 2020, Kean held Rep. Malinowski to a 51-49 percent re-election win in a district that was more Democratic than the new 7th. The GQR survey (Sept. 20-26; 500 likely NJ-7 general election voters) sees both candidates now attracting 48 percent of the vote. The Democratic pollster, however, also detects a partisan generic party label split of 50-45 percent favoring the Republicans. NJ-7 is a key Republican conversion opportunity seat.

NY-22: Republican Breaks Ahead — The Syracuse-anchored 22nd District is open in the 2022 election cycle because Rep. John Katko (R-Syracuse), one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Trump, is not seeking a fifth term. Ironically, the court-drawn map actually makes this district two points more Republican than the seat the Rep. Katko consistently won.

Siena College conducted an independent poll for the Spectrum News Service (Sept. 25-28; 453 likely NY-22 general election voters) and sees Republican technology company executive Brandon Williams jumping out to a five point, 45-40 percent, advantage over former intelligence agency analyst Francis Conole (D).

With the respondents believing the country is on the wrong track by a 25:63 percent margin, it is not particularly surprising to also see Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) falling behind Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley/East Long Island) in this Upstate District. NY-22 is a must-win for the GOP in November.

Laxalt Leads in Four Consecutive Nevada Senate Surveys; Many Polls, Many Results in Arizona; Hassan in New Hampshire Senate Driver’s Seat

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Sept. 26, 2022

Senate

Former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, current Republican Senate candidate

Nevada: Four in a Row — As the plethora of polls keep coming, we now see Republican Adam Laxalt taking a small lead over Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) in four consecutive surveys. From Sept. 8-20, Emerson College, Data for Progress (D), The Trafalgar Group (R), and Insider Advantage (R) posted leads for Laxalt at one to four percentage points.

Unlike Arizona polls (see next item) that find inconsistent margin results for Sen. Mark Kelly, these four pollsters all arrive at basically the same conclusion. Additionally, the senator fails to break a highwater mark of 46 percent in any of the surveys, a bad sign for any incumbent.

Arizona: Many Polls, Many Results — During the period of Sept. 6-19, six different pollsters tested the Arizona Senate race, and the results were wide ranging. All six agree that Sen. Mark Kelly (D) has a lead over venture capitalist Blake Masters (R), but the advantage span moves all the way from one to 12 points.

Three of the research entities — Emerson College, The Trafalgar Group (R), and Data for Progress (D) — find the Kelly margin at two points (Emerson) or one (Trafalgar; DfP). Another, Insider Advantage (R), pegs the Kelly lead at six points. Fabrizio Lee (R) / Impact Research (D) for AARP, posts the senator to an eight-point edge. Finally, Arizona-based OH Predictive Insights sees the largest Kelly margin, 47-35 percent. With such a diverse polling result universe, it is difficult to accurately depict this race’s true status.

New Hampshire: Sen. Hassan in Driver’s Seat — It appears that Gov. Chris Sununu (R) and various Republican strategists and consultants were correct to forecast that retired Army Gen. Don Bolduc (R) would not be a strong opponent against Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) in the November election. Three polls have now been released since the state’s Sept. 13 primary election — from Emerson College, the American Research Group, and the University of New Hampshire. The surveys were conducted within the Sept. 14-19 period. All three pollsters find Sen. Hassan leading the race with margins between 8 and 13 percentage points.

House

FL-2: Closer Than Expected — When the Florida redistricting map was adopted, most agreed the incumbent getting the worst draw was three-term Rep. Al Lawson (D-Tallahassee), who saw his Tallahassee to Jacksonville 5th District split into several parts. Left with tough choices, Rep. Lawson chose to seek re-election against Republican incumbent Neal Dunn (R-Panama City) in the new 2nd District.

The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates this seat that stretches from Tallahassee to the Emerald Coast as R+17. The Dave’s Redistricting App data group calculates the partisan lean as 54.5R – 43.8D.

A new David Binder Research (D) poll (Sept. 14-18; 600 likely FL-2 general election voters; live interview & online) finds Rep. Dunn holding only a 49-43 percent lead, however, which is a closer result than one would expect from a district with such strong Republican base numbers.

Governor

Nevada: Sheriff Lombardo Gaining Momentum — Three polling firms have tested the tight Nevada governor’s race between incumbent Democrat Steve Sisolak and Republican challenger Joe Lombardo, the Clark County sheriff. Emerson College, Data for Progress (D), and The Trafalgar Group (R), all see a race falling within the margin of error.

While Trafalgar finds Lombardo holding a three-point lead, the other two research entities see the candidates at even strength. Like Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) as covered above (see Nevada Senate above), Gov. Sisolak is far short of attracting majority support. In these three polls conducted within the Sept. 8-20 period, the governor fails to break the 45 percent support level.