July 1, 2015 — The US Supreme Court released their long-awaited ruling on the Arizona redistricting case on Tuesday. In a common 5-4 decision, the high court allowed the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC) to stand and, as a result, similar commissions in other multi-district states (California, New Jersey, Washington) have affirmed legitimacy. The practical result is that congressional districts in these aforementioned places will stay intact for the remainder of the decade.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the majority. Her final two sections illuminate the crux of the ruling (see below), that the initiative process allowing the voters to decide legislative issues is the major tenet of this case and not just the Arizona redistricting circumstance.
The Arizona Legislature brought the suit, and the SCOTUS decision affirmed that the body had legal standing to bring such action. Their argument was that the US Constitution gave exclusive power to the state legislature to redistrict post reapportionment. Continue reading >
June 26, 2015 — Former Sen. Kay Hagan (D), who unseated then-Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R) in 2008 only to lose six years later to Sen. Thom Tillis (R), 47-49 percent, Wednesday announced that she would not challenge Sen. Richard Burr (R). Polling consistently made her the strongest Democrat to challenge the two-term incumbent Republican, but even she was nowhere near upset position.
Democrats do not yet have a viable candidate in the state that has defeated the most senators since the 1960s.
Red and Blue Recruitment
As we approach the midway point of the off-year, it is a good time to check how the two parties are faring in regard to candidate recruitment. A quick, cursory glance tells us that each side has a success ratio of about .500. Continue reading >
June 9, 2015 — The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza wrote a story at the end of last week that rated 2016 Senate Democratic candidate recruitment as “stellar”, but he omits some rather major analytical points in drawing that conclusion. Mainly, he fails to mention the large number of cumulative losses these individuals have recently absorbed.
He first starts with the Nevada race and says the Democrats recruited the top potential candidate, former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto who outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D) prompted to run and supports. He gives the party further points by citing that Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV-1) will not challenge Masto. This is all true, and avoiding a primary does make things better for them during the general election, but Masto should not be considered to be a prohibitive favorite against what should be a strong Republican. She won her first AG race in 2006, a Democratic landslide year, with a solid 59.0 percent vote count. Four years later she significantly regressed, scoring 52.8 percent, though 2010 was clearly a better Republican year.
In Florida, he cites Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18) as a strong recruitment, and we agree. As Cillizza correctly mentions, Rep. Alan Grayson’s (D-FL-9) potential candidacy certainly clouds the Democratic picture. The Florida seat is open because Sen. Marco Rubio (R) is running for president. Continue reading >
May 28, 2015 — A surprising story broke in Arizona Tuesday. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-1) announced that she will forego her re-election bid and instead challenge Sen. John McCain (R) next year. The congresswoman was included on most “possible candidate” lists, but was not viewed as someone overtly planning to make the jump into the statewide contest. Her move, however, may be a precursor to another decision that will soon enter the public domain.
With McCain’s approval numbers dropping into the dangerously low category (36:51 percent favorable to unfavorable according to Public Policy Polling), Kirkpatrick’s move is not without political reason. The latest PPP survey (May 1-3; 600 registered Arizona voters) finds her trailing the senator only 36-42 percent, certainly suggesting that such a general election pairing would yield a competitive contest.
But, the driving force behind Kirkpatrick may not be McCain’s perceived vulnerability. Rather, since the US Supreme Court is poised to soon render a decision on the Arizona redistricting challenge, it may be this issue that is actually motivating Kirkpatrick to move forward.
The Arizona Republicans are challenging the state’s congressional map on the grounds that the US Constitution only gives federal redistricting power to state legislatures. Before the 2000 reapportionment, voters adopted a ballot proposition that created a redistricting commission empowered to draw congressional and state legislative lines. The crux of the suit argues that a citizens’ commission has no authority to draw congressional lines. Continue reading >
May 5, 2015 — Arizona Sen. John McCain (R), who is seeking re-election to a sixth term next year, is showing political weakness according to a new Public Policy Polling survey (May 1-3; 600 registered Arizona voters; 300 self-identified Arizona Republican voters).
According to the results, McCain’s job approval is in upside-down territory not only from the Grand Canyon State electorate at-large but from an isolated Republican cell sample, as well. PPP projects that the senator records only a 36:51 percent approval ratio before the general electorate. More troubling, he scores 41:50 percent favorable to unfavorable among Republicans.
Sen. McCain has long been a controversial figure with Republican Party base voters, and there is an active effort attempting to deny him re-nomination. So far, candidate recruitment has failed because only state Sen. Kelli Ward (R), who is not viewed as a substantial challenger, is willingly stepping forward to register a campaign committee. Continue reading >
In the past few days, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) made another public statement about his political plans for 2016, underscoring that he is leaning toward running for another term. The Arizona senator, who you will also remember as the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, will be 80 years old at the time of the next election and would be running for his sixth consecutive term in office. But it already appears that potentially he will have to overcome a double challenge two years from now in order to continue his career in elective politics.
Already, Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ-6), who was easily re-elected to his Scottsdale-anchored congressional district two weeks ago after defeating then-Rep. Ben Quayle (R-AZ-3) in the post-redistricting 2012 Republican primary (after the Arizona Redistricting Commission plan drastically changed the latter’s district boundaries), is considering mounting a Republican primary challenge to McCain.
Schweikert, as a House freshman in 2013, quickly angered the GOP leadership and found himself as one of three members to be removed from a plum committee assignment. The Arizonan had been a member of the Financial Services Committee, but was summarily removed. So he is no stranger to controversy. Schweikert said he will begin serious consideration of potential future political moves, including a Continue reading >
With states allowing a greater volume of absentee balloting, elections take much longer to call. Several remain in abeyance, waiting either for final votes to arrive or an arbitrary date for which to begin counting. Many of these races are in California, where hundreds of thousands of mail ballots remain uncounted.
In the Senate, aside from the Louisiana run-off now scheduled for Dec. 6, Alaska and Virginia are not yet officially called but the outcome in both cases is clear.
In the Last Frontier, it’s just a matter of time before GOP nominee Dan Sullivan is declared the winner. Waiting to count the votes from the state’s vast outlying areas, incumbent Sen. Mark Begich (D) would have to attract almost two-thirds of the remaining ballots. With a Sullivan lead over 8,000 votes, Begich trailing for the last few weeks in polling, and the very real Republican wave that we witnessed last night, it is a sure bet that we can add this incumbent to the list of defeated Democratic senators. Continue reading >