Tag Archives: Tina Kotek

All About Arizona Arithmetic …

(A Katie Hobbs ad that seems to test what could be her campaign’s change in direction.)

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Sept. 30, 2022

Governor

Former news anchor and current gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake (R)

Arizona: Beneath the Surface — A strange turn of events coming from Arizona leads us to question some of the most recent polling and whether or not there could be a conservative backlash forming. This would explain why the Democratic gubernatorial nominee is clearly moving to the ideological right with her campaign strategy.

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs won the open Democratic nomination for governor with over 73 percent of the vote in early August. Former television news anchor Kari Lake (R) is her opponent, and many believed Hobbs would sweep past the latter once Donald Trump’s strong support for Lake became the central campaign issue. For the Aug. 2 primary, Lake enjoyed strong support from the former president, which helped her score a close 47-44 percent Republican primary victory over University of Arizona Regent Karin Taylor Robson.

The general election, however, has become much more competitive than many expected. Lake is running neck-and-neck with Hobbs. Lake is basically taking a Glenn Youngkin-style approach to Trump in the general election — that is, graciously accepting his endorsement but continuing to campaign individually for the office sought without making Trump a campaign factor. In the most recent polling, seven released surveys since Sept. 6, both candidates lead in three of the research studies and are tied in another.

In the three polls favoring Democrat Hobbs, her lead is one point in each survey. Of the three where Republican Lake holds an edge, her margin is four points in two of the three. During this same time-frame — Sept. 6th to the present — nine polls have been conducted and Sen. Mark Kelly (D) holds the lead over Republican Blake Masters in all with an average spread of just under six percentage points in the accompanying statewide campaign.

Seeing these Senate campaign numbers would suggest that Hobbs would feel comfortable remaining close to her Democratic base, figuring that the Kelly campaign would take the lead in driving the party turnout. Not so, when looking at her most recent ad (above).

The new Hobbs ad basically adopts Republican themes, and not the current Democratic approach. She doesn’t mention abortion, unusual for a Democratic candidate these days since the party has clearly adopted a national single-issue strategy surrounding the issue. The party candidates across the board continue along this campaign path because the strategists believe that emphasizing the pro-choice position above all else is the way toward energizing the casual Democratic voter, i.e., those who only vote in presidential elections.

Instead, Hobbs is talking about implementing a tax cut for over 800,000 Arizona families and ending the sales tax on baby formula, school supplies, and medicines. Moving to the right while Sen. Kelly has a discernible advantage over Masters even while being attacked for his liberal voting record is a surprising development.

It appears the Hobbs campaign team may have uncovered patterns and trends in their research that leads them to conclude Republicans are in considerably better political shape than the current polls suggest. The primary turnout is one clue. Some 235,000 more Republicans than Democrats voted in the 2022 Arizona primaries, thus suggesting a possible precursor to a strong election night this November.

Such a closing surge would also be consistent with the Arizona vote in the 2020 election. Then, Sen. Kelly led by an average of just under seven points through the month of October, but only defeated then-Sen. Martha McSally (R) by just two percentage points.

In the presidential campaign, Joe Biden led then-President Trump by an average of 2.5 percentage points over the final 22 polls conducted in the state, but only managed to carry the state by 10,457 votes of almost 3.4 million votes cast — or just .3 of one percent.

The Hobbs move to the right is unorthodox, but if successful will prove a Democratic candidate can win when “cutting across the grain.”

Oregon: Republican Drazan Takes Lead — A just-released DHM Research survey (Sept. 23-24; 600 likely Oregon general election voters) finds former state House Minority Leader Christine Drazan (R) taking a one-point lead over former state House Speaker Tina Kotek (D), with strong Independent candidate Betsy Johnson, a former Democratic state legislator, dropping well back.

The gubernatorial ballot test gives Drazan a 32-31-18 percent edge over her two opponents. When the pollsters asked a second question just centered around the three top contenders, the ballot test actually strengthened Drazan slightly, to a 35-33-21 percent margin. The last time a Republican was elected Oregon’s governor came in 1982. In terms of the state’s status perception, just 25 percent said that the Beaver State is headed in the right direction while 62 percent replied that Oregon is on the wrong track.

Senate

Arizona: Sen. Kelly Expands Advantage — After several mid-September polls found Republican US Senate challenger Blake Masters pulling to within the polling margin of error against Sen. Mark Kelly (D), two new surveys see the two-year incumbent pulling back ahead by a more substantial margin.

Suffolk University’s (Sept. 21-25; 500 likely Arizona voters; live interview) latest study reports a seven-point spread in the senator’s favor, 49-42 percent. Marist College’s new likely voter survey (Sept. 19-22; 1,076 likely Arizona voters; live interview, text & online) found a slightly smaller Kelly lead, 50-45 percent. The Arizona race continues to be one to watch, especially considering the late GOP surge that occurred here in 2020.

Washington: Another Outlier — Yesterday, we reported on The Trafalgar Group’s new September poll that posted Sen. Patty Murray’s (D) to a 49-47 percent lead over Republican Tiffany Smiley and suggested the poll may be an outlier, since no other firm found such a close division between the two major candidates.

Now we see Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling quickly countering with a new survey of their own (Sept. 27-28; 770 Washington voters). The PPP response gives Sen. Murray a much stronger 52-40 percent advantage. In the Aug. 2 Washington jungle primary, Sen. Murray outpaced Smiley, 52-34 percent.

Walker Back Up in Georgia, Kemp Expands Lead; Nevada Democrats’ “Three-fer” Commercials; Oregon Minor Candidate’s Withdrawal Could Have Significant Impact

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022

Senate

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

Georgia: Walker Back Up — In what is proving a seesaw affair between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and former NFL and University of Georgia football star Herschel Walker (R), the new Atlanta Journal-Constitution/University of Georgia poll (Sept. 5-16; 861 likely Georgia general election voters) again detects a change in leadership. The last three polls posted Sen. Warnock to leads between four and six points, and now the AJC/UGA data finds Walker re-assuming the lead, 46-44 percent.

The bottom line is that this race is close and either candidate has a strong chance to win. Turnout will be the key factor. In the primary, Republican turnout was up an astonishing 110 percent when compared to the 2018 midterm election. Democratic participation was also up, but with a much smaller 29 percent increase.

House

Nevada: The Democrats’ “Three-fer” Commercials — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has a new interesting media message approach for the three Nevada congressional districts, each of which are covered through the Las Vegas Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). The tactic is to attack all three Republican candidates, businessman Mark Robertson, attorney April Becker, and insurance agency owner Sam Peters, with one message. Since the party is running a single-issue strategy about abortion, the ad hits all three candidates simultaneously for their pro-life stance.

The move is obviously an efficient use of their advertising dollars, but combining all three candidates in one message might be too convoluted for the voters to fully comprehend. The idea behind the spot is simply to associate all Republican congressional candidates with the pro-life position, thus making the message clearer.

Robertson is challenging Rep. Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas) in the 1st District; Becker opposes Rep. Susie Lee (D-Las Vegas) in District 3; and Peters faces Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Las Vegas) in the more expansive 4th CD that begins in North Las Vegas and stretches to the center of the state. All three are highly competitive in the general election.

Governor

Georgia: Gov. Kemp Expands Lead — The aforementioned Atlanta Journal-Constitution/ University of Georgia poll (see Georgia Senate above) also tested the state’s hot governor’s race. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) has been performing strongly in the polls since his landside 74-22 percent victory over former US Sen. David Perdue in the May Republican primary. The AJC/UGA numbers give the governor a 50-42 percent advantage beyond the polling margin of error over former state House Minority Leader and 2018 gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams (D).

Oregon: Minor Party Candidate Withdraws — One of the more interesting gubernatorial campaigns is found in the Beaver State of Oregon. The fact that Independent candidate Betsy Johnson, a former Democratic state senator, has a legitimate chance to win the race is what makes this campaign unique in the 2022 election cycle. Johnson has done better in fundraising than either Democratic nominee Tina Kotek, the former state House Speaker, and Republican former state House Minority Leader Catherine Drazan. She is also competitive with the two major party nominees in the various statewide polls that have been conducted.

Thus, with Green Party nominee Nathalie Paravicini dropping out of the race and endorsing Ms. Kotek, as she did Tuesday, Paravicini’s action actually becomes significant. The race has the potential of splitting close to evenly among the three candidates, meaning each has a legitimate chance to win. Green Party candidate Paravicini’s endorsement, even with only a percentage point or two of support, could prove significant in the final count on election night by encouraging her supporters to instead use their votes to back Kotek.

Greitens Feeling Political Damage in MO; NE-2 Race Narrows; Democratic NH Gubernatorial Candidate Trails by 10 Points in Recent Poll

By Jim Ellis — July 13, 2022

Senate

Ex-Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R)

Missouri: Greitens Takes Hit in New Poll — The Tarrance Group just released a statewide Missouri Senate poll that shows former Gov. Eric Greitens (R) is finally absorbing some political damage from his opponents attacks, his own controversial ads about hunting “RINOs” (Republicans In Name Only), and domestic and child abuse claims from his ex-wife.

The Tarrance survey (July 5-7; 600 likely Missouri Republican primary voters) now forecasts Attorney General Eric Schmitt with the primary lead at 28 percent, with US Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville/Columbia) close behind at 24 percent. Greitens drops back to just 16 percent support with an upside-down favorability index within the Republican sampling universe at 39:49 percent favorable to unfavorable.

Former President Donald Trump announced that he has ruled out endorsing Rep. Hartzler, and is considering backing either Schmitt or Greitens, though the latest developments suggest endorsing Greitens is becoming unlikely.

House

NE-2: Vargas’ Edge Narrows — According to a new GBAO internal survey for the Tony Vargas for Congress campaign (June 27-30; 500 NE-2 likely general election voters), Democratic state Sen. Vargas holds a 48-47 percent edge over US Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillion/Omaha). While the internal poll is good news for Vargas, his standing has actually weakened since Change Research released a pre-primary poll in May that posted him to a slight 42-39 percent lead over the three-term incumbent.

The NE-2 battle will be a race to watch in the fall as Rep. Bacon may be one of the few Republican House incumbents forced into a strongly competitive race.

Governor

New Hampshire: Dem Internal Poll Cuts Sununu’s Margin — State Sen. Tom Sherman (D-Seacoast Region), who is unopposed for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, released his campaign’s internal Public Policy Polling survey (July 1-6; 601 registered New Hampshire voters) that finds the physician/legislator trailing three-term Gov. Chris Sununu (R) by a 43-33 percent margin, the closest result we have seen to date. Abortion push questions were used in the survey and Manchester Union Leader newspaper reports this total is the result after such questions were asked.

The latest non-partisan survey was released in April from the University of New Hampshire. Their findings projected the governor to a 55-29 percent advantage over Dr. Sherman. While it is likely Sherman has cut that particular margin, the 10-point deficit found in the new PPP survey is likely unrealistic.

Oregon: Another Danger Sign for Kotek — Two internal Oregon gubernatorial campaign polls have been released in the past few days, and the emerging story line suggests that the client polls are favoring their own candidate’s positioning as the individual most likely to upend former state House Speaker Tina Kotek (D). The missed point, however, is that Kotek, as the Democratic nominee in this bluest of states, does not even break 33 percent support.

Republican nominee Christine Drazan, the former state House Minority Leader, released her Cygnal survey (June 28-30; 600 likely Oregon general election voters; online & text) that posts her to a one-point, 32-31 percent lead over Kotek, with ex-state Sen. Betsy Johnson (I) trailing at 24 percent support. The result counters an earlier Johnson campaign poll (GS Strategy Group; June 23-29; 600 likely Oregon general election voters; live interview) that found Kotek leading Johnson and Drazan, 33-30-23 percent.

Analyses are pointing out the difference in standing between Drazan and Johnson, but both surveys agree that Kotek is woefully under-performing. While Johnson is now running as an Independent, she previously served in the legislature as a Democrat.

Iowa Sen. Grassley in Close Race; Kaptur Ahead in OH-9 Poll; Kahele Funding App Rejected in Hawaii

By Jim Ellis — July 11, 2022

Senate

Iowa’s seven-term US Sen. Chuck Grassley (R)

Iowa: Sen. Grassley Close in Opponent’s Poll — A Change Research online poll for Democratic US Senate nominee Michael Franken, a retired Navy admiral (June 30-July 1; 488 likely Iowa general election voters; text & online), finds Sen. Chuck Grassley holding only a 49-44 percent edge. CR’s first released post-primary Iowa poll found the Grassley advantage to be an even smaller 45-42 percent. These are the only two released surveys of the Iowa race since the state’s June 7 primary election. Sen. Grassley, 88, already is the longest-serving Iowa US senator, originally elected on the same night when Ronald Reagan won the presidency in 1980. He has been an elected official since winning his first term in the state House of Representatives back in 1958. Should he win the coming election and complete his next term, he will have served 70 consecutive years as a public official, counting his time in the state legislature, US House and Senate. We are sure to see more data on this race in short order.

House

OH-9: Rep. Kaptur Leads in Republican Poll — A new GOP poll from Info Strategy Northeast (partnering with the Knight Takes Rook consulting firm; June 28-29; 1,254 likely OH-9 general election voters; interactive voice response system) finds veteran Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) leading Republican nominee J.R. Majewski, 47-42 percent, in a new district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as R+6 with a Dave’s Redistricting App partisan lean of 48.8D and 48.6R.

Majewski is an Afghan War veteran and Trump campaign activist who defeated both a state representative and senator in the primary election. Rep. Kaptur, elected in 1982, is the most senior House Democrat. Though the voter history of this newly configured 9th District should yield a competitive race, the internal dynamics already suggest that Rep. Kaptur is a clear favorite.

Governor

Arizona: Gov. Ducey Endorses — Term-limited Gov. Doug Ducey (R) publicly endorsed a candidate late last week to succeed him. Ducey supports Arizona University Regent Karrin Taylor Robson over the candidate backed by former President Trump, former news anchor Kari Lake. Since ex-US representative and 2000 gubernatorial nominee Matt Salmon dropped out of the race and endorsed Robson, polling suggests this Republican primary race is headed to toss-up status before the Aug. 2 primary election. Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is likely to easily win the Democratic nomination.

Hawaii: Rep. Kahele’s Funding Application Rejected — The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission late last week formally rejected US Rep. Kai Kahele’s (D-Hilo) bid to obtain public financing for his gubernatorial campaign. The commission spokesperson indicated that Kahele did not file the affidavit that would commit his campaign to the program’s proscribed spending limits. Kahele was the only one of the gubernatorial candidates to apply for the available $200,000.

Rep. Kahele was elected to the House in 2020, but is leaving after one term to pursue the statewide office, but his effort has not gone well. As we reported Friday, Lt. Gov. Josh Green holds a substantial 48-16 percent lead over Kahele in the Democratic primary. The Democratic nominee will then become the prohibitive favorite to succeed term-limited Gov. David Ige (D).

Oregon: New Poll Projects Three-Way Race — The GS Strategy Group, polling for Independent gubernatorial candidate Betsy Johnson, a former Democratic state senator (June 23-29; 600 likely Oregon general election voters) finds former state House Speaker Tina Kotek (D) leading Johnson and ex-state House Minority Leader Christine Drazan (R) by a tight 33-30-23 percent margin.

A competitive three-way contest could take the race in many directions. The pollster asked if the voters would favor a “socially progressive Democrat,” a “qualified common sense independent,” or a “devout Trump Republican.” The results were 41-32-24 percent in favor of the independent choice, which isn’t particularly good considering the language was slanted to produce a result favoring such a choice. Still, the ballot test suggests that this open race could become interesting.

McCormick Concedes in PA; Michigan Gov. Whitmer Holds Huge Lead

Dr. Mehmet Oz (left) and former hedge fund CEO David McCormick

By Jim Ellis — June 6, 2022

Senate

Pennsylvania: McCormick Concedes to Dr. Oz — The long post-primary Pennsylvania Republican Senate drama finally came to a close Friday when former hedge fund CEO David McCormick conceded to television Dr. Mehmet Oz. The general election between Dr. Oz and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) is now underway, but the Democratic nominee also has issues.

With the recount of the May 17 election progressing, including the ballots arriving after election day being added to the count, the results were not turning around to the degree that McCormick had publicly predicted. Therefore, instead of forcing what could have been a long drawn out post-election period of individual ballot challenges and lawsuits attempting to overturn Dr. Oz’s approximate 900 vote lead, McCormick decided the best course of action was to concede and allow the party to move forward.

As we know, Democratic nominee Fetterman suffered a stroke right before the primary as a result of a blood clot in his heart. Fetterman is now making statements that he was near death during the ordeal, and must refrain from active campaigning for an undetermined time. The situation creates a unique general election with both parties having internal challenges while having to conduct tough campaigns before a swing electorate.

Redistricting

Florida: State Supreme Court Says No — The Florida state Supreme Court, responding to a petition asking the high panel to review the new congressional map, said they do not have jurisdiction at this point in the process. The high court indicated that the District Court of Appeals is the body that must hear the case. With the June 17 candidate filing deadline coming nearer, further delays likely point to the enacted map being in place for the 2022 elections. The Florida primary is Aug. 23.

Governor

Michigan: Republicans Reeling After Ballot Disqualification — A new Target Insyght poll (May 26-27; 600 registered Michigan voters) finds Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) holding huge leads against the remaining GOP candidates after former Detroit Police Chief James Craig and businessman Perry Johnson were disqualified from the race because they failed to produce enough valid required petition signatures. Against all of the largely unknown Republican candidates, Gov. Whitmer scores either 57 or 58 percent opposite 24 percent for the top current GOP contender, businessman Kevin Rinke. With the candidate filing deadline long since passed, the Republicans now find themselves buried in a major political hole from which it will be difficult to recover.

Ohio: DeWine Leading, but Under 50 percent — Two days ago, Suffolk University released the results of their Ohio US Senate survey, which we covered, and yesterday their gubernatorial numbers were made public. The Suffolk study (May 22-24; 500 likely Ohio general election voters; live interview) finds Gov. Mike DeWine (R) leading Dayton Mayor Nan Whatley (D), 45-30 percent, with Independent Neil Petersen attracting 11 percent support. Gov. DeWine won re-nomination in May, but did so with only a plurality within his own party. While his general election lead is comfortable, being well under 50 percent continues to show a significant degree of political weakness.

Oregon: New Shock Poll — Republican pollster Nelson Research (May 25-27; 516 likely Oregon general election voters; live interview) finds new Oregon GOP gubernatorial nominee Christine Drazan, the former state House Minority Leader, taking a small but surprising 30-28 percent lead over former state House Speaker Tina Kotek (D). Additionally, Republicans are only one point behind (39-40 percent) on the generic ballot question.

These results are particularly surprising when seeing the Democrats outperform the Republicans in the recent May 17 primary turnout. Examining the polling methodology, the sampling universe skews high for both major parties. The survey respondents divide 40.1 percent Democratic, 33.5 percent Republican, and 26.4 percent non-affiliated. Actual Oregon partisan registration for May of 2022 is listed as Democratic 34.3 percent; Republican 24.6 percent; and Unaffiliated 34.3 percent. Therefore, the sample skew could largely account for the unexpected ballot test result.