Tag Archives: Utah

The “Sweet” Sixteen House Races

Continuing our sector review of the 16 most competitive political campaigns reflective of the NCAA College Basketball Tournament’s spirit, we today turn to the US House campaigns:

AZ-1: Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D) won a similar version of this seat in 2008, lost it in 2010, and reacquired it last November when incumbent Paul Gosar (R) decided to seek re-election in District 4. With a 2012 victory percentage of only 49 percent in a district that Mitt Romney carried, Kirkpatrick can again expect stiff competition in 2014.

AZ-2: Rep. Ron Barber (D) who replaced his former boss, then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords upon her resignation, had a closer than expected regular election contest against Republican Martha McSally. With Barber only scoring an even 50 percent of the 2012 vote, expect a strong re-match effort from retired Gulf War veteran McSally.

CA-26: When the California Citizens Redistricting Commission crafted this Ventura County district, they did so with the idea of making a marginal 50-50 seat. The goal was achieved, so freshman incumbent Julia Brownley (D) will continue to face strong competition likely for the rest of the decade. Former state senator Tony Strickland lost to Brownley in November and is considering seeking a re-match in 2014. Rep. Buck McKeon (R) deciding to retire in adjacent District 25, however, could attract Strickland to what would be an open seat.

CA-31: Rep. Gary Miller represents the strongest Obama district in the country (57 percent) that elected a Republican congressman. He was fortunate to draw another Republican in the 2012 general election, but will likely face a Democrat in 2014. Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar (D), who failed to qualify for the general election last year, is looking to run again. This will be a top Democratic conversion target.
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The Early Targets

Even this early in an election cycle, some obvious 2014 targets are evident. In the Senate, majority Democrats must protect 20 seats versus 13 for Republicans. The GOP will need to convert six Democratic states in order to re-capture the majority for the first time since 2006.

In the House, it’s much too early to tell how the cycle will even begin to unfold, but the 2012 winners who scored at or below 50 percent normally find themselves in vulnerable situations two years later. There are 20 winners who scored a bare majority or less in their win last month.

Here’s how we see things lining up:

The Senate

Already, there appear to be four potential toss-up campaigns on the horizon at the very beginning of the election cycle.

Two states already have announced challengers to Democratic incumbents that many believe are headed for retirement despite the senators themselves saying they are planning a re-election campaign.

West Virginia Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2) officially announced that she will challenge five-term Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D) in the next election. With West Virginia now trending deep red and Rockefeller launching verbal attacks against the state’s dominant coal industry, this race must be cast as an early toss-up. Should Rockefeller — who will be 77 years old at the time of the next election — not seek another term, Capito will be considered the early favorite.

Former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds (R) also has announced that he will run for the Senate in 2014. He will challenge three-term Sen. Tim Johnson (D). Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD-AL), who was just re-elected to a second term, also has not ruled out a Senate run, meaning that she would first have to challenge Rounds in the Republican primary. Publicly, she is not closing the door on any 2014 option. A Johnson-Rounds campaign would also have to be rated as an early toss-up. The senator would be favored against Rep. Noem.

Alaska Sen. Mark Begich (D) stands for a second term after defeating veteran Sen. Ted Stevens (R) by a slim 48-47 percent count in 2008. Stevens was fighting a Justice Department legal onslaught that fell apart on the prosecutors but only after Stevens had already lost to Begich. As you know, the senator was later killed in an airplane crash. This campaign will be interesting. A strong challenger such as Gov. Sean Parnell (R), could make this a very tight campaign.

Considering that North Carolina was only one of two states that switched from supporting Pres. Barack Obama in 2008 to Mitt Romney last month, freshman Sen. Kay Hagan (D) will seek a second term and be rated in a toss-up campaign from Day One. There is no clear challenger on the horizon, but whomever the Republicans choose will be a serious contender.

The 2014 election cycle will be a long one, but count on these four Senate races grabbing a major share of the political attention for the next two years.

The House

Here’s a look at the 20 winners in 2012 who are right at or a bit below the 50 percent mark who could be vulnerable:

Below 50 percent

  • Rodney Davis (R-IL-13) – 47% (open seat)
  • Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ-9) – 48% (open seat)
  • John Tierney (D-MA-6) – 48% (incumbent)
  • Dan Benishek (R-MI-1) – 48% (incumbent)
  • Dan Maffei (D-NY-24) – 48% (challenger)
  • Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-1) – 49% (open seat)
  • Mike Coffman (R-CO-6) – 49% (incumbent)
  • Jackie Walorski (R-IN-2) – 49% (open seat)
  • Jim Matheson (D-UT-4) – 49% (incumbent)

At 50%

  • Ron Barber (D-AZ-2) – (incumbent)
  • Scott Peters (D-CA-52) – (challenger)
  • * Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18) – (challenger)
  • Dan Schneider (D-IL-10) – (challenger)
  • Joe Heck (R-NV-3) – (incumbent)
  • Steven Horsford (D-NV-4) – (open seat)
  • Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH-1) – (challenger)
  • Annie Kuster (D-NH-2) – (challenger)
  • Bill Owens (D-NY-21) – (incumbent)
  • Mike McIntyre (D-NC-7) – (incumbent)
  • * Pete Gallego (D-TX-23) – (challenger)

* Italics: Seat will likely be re-drawn in 2013 redistricting.

The Final Electoral Score

The electoral results announced this weekend produced a Democratic clean sweep of the political overtime campaigns. All US House races now possess either an official or definitive winner with the exception of the double-Republican run-off in Louisiana’s 3rd District (to be decided Dec. 8). On election night, all but nine races were called forcing a tight count of the early, absentee and provisional ballots in the affected jurisdictions not producing a winning candidate.

Though each of the nine campaigns were originally too close to call, final projections released over the weekend proclaimed Democrats as winners in the remaining outstanding elections, joining those previously declared overtime victors. The final results in AZ-2, NC-7, and FL-18 completed the Democratic sweep.

After Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ-2) expanded his lead to 1,402 votes of more than 285,000 cast with only about 15,000 absentee ballots remaining as of late Friday, Republican Martha McSally conceded the election to the short-term House member on Saturday afternoon. Barber was originally elected in June to fulfill resigned Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ unexpired term. Running in the regular election for the newly configured 2nd District, Barber ran into a much more difficult competitor in McSally than originally forecast. It would not be surprising to see the two square off again in 2014, as the former Gulf War veteran and Air Force pilot received high marks for her ability as a candidate.

Also on Friday in southeast North Carolina, Rep. Mike McIntyre (D), who had been redistricted into a much more Republican seat, officially clinched re-election over state Sen. David Rouzer (R). The final tally separates the two candidates by 655 votes, a spread that falls within the legally proscribed margin to trigger an automatic recount. Though all the ballots will be officially counted again, the outcome is likely to remain the same and McIntyre will almost assuredly serve a ninth term in the House.

Rep. Allen West’s (R-FL-18) post-election saga continues but, barring an unforeseen development in the final early voting count, Democrat Patrick Murphy has defeated the outspoken one-term incumbent. Even after recounting the final three days of received early ballots resulted in West gaining on Murphy and both candidates seeing their vote totals decline, St. Lucie County Circuit Judge Larry Schack denied the congressman’s motion to re-tabulate all of the early ballots. But, in a surprise move on Friday, the St. Lucie County Election Commission voted 2-1 to grant West’s request.

Despite the commission decision, and with Murphy’s lead now expanding to more than 2,100 votes, it is highly unlikely that the result will be overturned. West will then have to decide whether to make a post-certification legal challenge once the results are deemed to be final and official.

All Florida counties were required to report their final canvass results to the Secretary of State yesterday. The state must certify all of the state’s elections on November 20th.

In addition to the aforementioned results, the previously declared overtime winners are Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT-4), California challengers Raul Ruiz (D-CA-36), Ami Bera (D-CA-7), and Scott Peters (D-CA-52), and Arizona open seat candidates Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-1) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ-9). The House will divide with 234 Republicans and 201 Democrats, a net gain of eight seats for the Dems.

Bono Mack Loses; West in Recount; Other Election Updates

We’re learning more about the eight outstanding House races, and one thing is clear: The trends that so favored the Democrats on Election Day are continuing in political overtime.

Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA-45)

Rep. Mary Bono Mack
Congresswoman Bono Mack who succeeded her late husband in Congress, Rep. Sonny Bono upon his untimely death in early 1998, conceded her re-election contest to physician Raul Ruiz on Saturday in California’s Riverside County/Palm Desert region. The current results, which continue to evolve because California non-Election Day votes are still being counted, put the eight-term congresswoman 7,336 votes behind Ruiz. Such a deficit is too large to overcome considering the number of outstanding votes, hence her decision to concede.

The new 36th District contains 75% of the territory from Ms. Bono Mack’s current 45th District and actually became two points more Republican in redistricting, but this year’s Democratic political tide was too much for her to overcome.

Reps. Dan Lungren & Brian Bilbray
In northern California, at the end of counting on Friday, Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA-7) had fallen further behind his challenger, physician Ami Bera (D). Trailing by just 184 votes on Election Day, Lungren now faces a 1,779 vote deficit with still more than 70,000 ballots remaining.

In the San Diego area, we find a similar trend. There, San Diego Port Commission chairman and ex-City Councilman Scott Peters has extended his lead over Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA-52) to 1,334 votes. Approximately 80,000 ballots remain to be counted. With such large pools of ballots still remaining, anything can still happen in both of these districts, but clearly the first reported non-Election Day counts favor the Democrats in both districts.

Rep. Allen West
Turning to southeast Florida, Rep. Allen West (R-FL-18) is encountering a different problem than awaiting a long ballot counting process, but he appears to be having at least a modicum of success in waging his voting irregularity argument. Virtually all of the ballots have been counted here — only those from the military and overseas remain — and West trails attorney Patrick Murphy (D) by 2,442 votes. The congressman’s claim concerns the tabulation of early votes in St. Lucie County. The original election night count gave West about a 1,700 vote lead. When St. Lucie County election officials decided to recount the early votes, based upon a reported technical glitch, the margin shifted by more than 4,000 votes in Murphy’s favor. On Friday, a local judge ordered the 37,000+ St. Lucie County early votes to be recounted. The crux of the West argument is that some of the early votes were double-counted with those cast on Election Day.

Arizona
Counting continues in two undecided Arizona congressional districts. In the tight 2nd District, Rep. Ron Barber (D), who won his seat in a June special election, for the first time leads former Gulf War veteran Martha McSally (R). When counting ended Friday, Barber had taken a 289-vote lead. There could still be as many as 40,000 ballots to count. In the new 9th District, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema continues to lead Republican Vernon Parker, as she has virtually from the beginning. With tens of thousands of ballots remaining, Sinema’s lead has now increased to a substantial 4,710 votes.

Rep. Mike McIntyre
In North Carolina’s 7th District, the re-count trend has favored Republican David Rouzer in his quest to unseat Rep. Mike McIntyre (D). With the counting process continuing, McIntyre’s lead is now down to 394 votes. The final tally is due to be reported on Nov. 16th. Since it is almost a certainty that the end result will fall within a 1% margin, a full recount will be ordered in compliance with state election law. This result will likely hang in limbo for several more weeks.

Rep. Jim Matheson
Counting also continues in Utah’s close 4th Congressional District race even though Republican challenger Mia Love has already conceded to Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT-4). The congressman’s margin in 2,646 votes, and an eventual Matheson victory will be the final official result.

Florida
Turning to the one outstanding state in the presidential contest, Florida election officials have declared Pres. Barack Obama the winner of the Sunshine State vote, meaning the final Electoral College margin is 332-206 in the president’s favor.

Washington
The one remaining Governor’s race has also been decided. Former Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA-1) has been declared the winner of the Washington gubernatorial race, defeating Attorney General Rob McKenna (R) 51-49%.

Undecided Race Update

Jay Inslee (D)

All of the Senate races have now been determined, and the Democrats will lead a 55-45 majority in the next Congress, assuming Senator-Elect Angus King (I-ME) joins their caucus, as expected.

One governor’s race remains uncalled. In Washington, former Rep. Jay Inslee (D) has a 51.1-48.9% lead over Attorney General Rob McKenna (R) with still one-quarter of the vote remaining. Inslee has a 54,398 vote advantage with approximately 600,000 votes remaining. To win, McKenna would have to score a bit over 54% of the uncounted ballots. Mathematically this is certainly possible, but the trend suggests otherwise. Even if Inslee holds, the GOP gains one gubernatorial seat nationally, bringing their advantage to 30-19-1 over the Democrats and Rhode Island Independent Gov. Lincoln Chafee.

Here are the latest in the outstanding House races:

  • AZ-1: The race has been called in favor of former Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick.
  • AZ-2: Rep. Ron Barber (D) vs. Martha McSally (R) – The Republican challenger leads by a scant 81 votes with as many as 65,000 votes left to count. This one, obviously, can go either way as the remaining ballots will determine the winner.
  • AZ-9: Kyrsten Sinema (D) vs. Vernon Parker (R) – About 70,000 ballots remain here, and Sinema’s lead has increased to 3,842 votes. To overtake the Democrat, Republican Parker would need just over 52% of the remaining ballots. This is a reasonable percentage, but Parker has yet to lead the race. Therefore, the trend favors Sinema.
  • CA-7: Rep. Dan Lungren (R) vs. Ami Bera (D) – Approximately 100,000 ballots still must be counted, and the challenger’s lead is a mere 184 votes. Both men have an equal chance of winning.
  • CA-36: Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R) vs. Raul Ruiz (D) – Challenger Ruiz has increased his advantage to 4,679 votes, though more than 50,000 ballots remain uncounted. To win, Rep. Bono Mack needs 55% of the remaining pool of votes. It is unlikely that she will reverse the trend.
  • CA-52: Rep. Brian Bilbray (R) vs. Scott Peters (D) – In a very similar situation to that of Rep. Lungren, it’s possible that as many as 100,000 ballots are still outstanding. Peters leads by 814 votes, meaning that Bilbray needs at least 50.5% of the remainder to pull out the victory.
  • FL-18: Rep. Allen West (R) vs. Patrick Murphy (D) – The congressman trails challenger Murphy by 2,456 votes with all precincts reporting. West is challenging voting irregularities in St. Lucie County, and several thousand provisional ballots remain. Unless West wins his challenge – claiming that certain precincts have been double counted – Murphy is likely to prevail.
  • NC-7: Rep. Mike McIntyre (D) vs. David Rouzer (R) – The congressman leads by 533 votes, with more than 5,000 to count. Many of those are from the challenger’s home county of Johnston, where he performed strongly. There is an outside chance that this election could turn around.
  • UT-4: Rep. Jim Matheson (D) vs. Mia Love (R) – Though challenger Love has already conceded, counting of the remaining 50,000 votes continues. Matheson leads with a 2,646 vote margin, meaning Love needs at least 53% of the remainder, which is unlikely to happen based upon the already known voting pattern.

Matheson Gets No Love

Rep. Jim Matheson

A new internal Public Opinion Strategies poll for Utah congressional candidate Mia Love shows the challenger opening up a huge lead over six-term incumbent Jim Matheson (D-UT-2). The two contenders are running for the state’s new 4th Congressional District, a seat awarded the state in the 2010 reapportionment formula. The new UT-4 stretches from the southern Salt Lake City suburbs to the center of the state and includes such communities as South Salt Lake City, Millcreek, West Jordan and South Jordan, and Love’s home town of Saratoga Springs. Matheson only represents 33 percent of the new district, but it does contain the most Democrats of the state’s four congressional seats. Still, President Obama could only register 41 percent support here in 2008 and figures to do worse this time with semi-favorite son Mitt Romney leading the Republican ticket.

The new POS data for the Love campaign (Sept. 10-11; 400 likely UT-4 voters) gives the Republican a whopping 51-36 percent lead over Rep. Matheson. Though the congressman still has a positive image (57:33 percent favorable to unfavorable), a full 50 percent of those questioned now say they want a new representative.

Mia Love, 36, born of Haitian parents and elected to the city council and now mayor of her home town, received a prime speaking position at the Republican National Convention and scored rave reviews for her message and performance. The address jump-started her campaign and this new poll evidences that she is one of the country’s top Republican challengers. Expect to see a Matheson counter poll released shortly. Failure to do so will silently confirm the POS results.

Senate Trends

Rep. Todd Akin

More is becoming known about the nation’s US Senate races, and trends are forming. With seven full weeks to go until Election Day, much can still change but at this point, both parties could be headed to the 50-seat mark. Ironically for Republicans, it could well be Todd Akin’s fate in Missouri, the candidate national GOP leaders attempted to replace because of his unintelligent comments, that will decide which party controls the body in the new Congress.

As we know, of the 33 in-cycle seats, Democrats are defending 23. Today, they appear safe in 10 of those: California (Feinstein), Delaware (Carper), Maryland (Cardin), Minnesota (Klobuchar), New Jersey (Menendez), New York (Gillibrand), Pennsylvania (Casey), Rhode Island (Whitehouse), Washington (Cantwell), and West Virginia (Manchin).

Two more are headed toward the Independent column, and those winners will either caucus or vote with the Democrats. Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vermont) runs as an Independent but joins the Democratic conference. Angus King, the Independent former governor, is strong favorite for Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe’s (R) seat as the campaign turns into the home stretch. He is projected to caucus with the Democrats, but has yet to commit to do so. If the fate of the majority comes down to King, it is unclear what might happen.

Trending toward the Democrats appears to be the races in Hawaii (open seat – Rep. Mazie Hirono), Michigan (Stabenow), New Mexico (open seat – Rep. Martin Heinrich), and Ohio (Sherrod Brown).

Hawaii polls have been erratic, but the preponderance of polling data gives Rep. Mazie Hirono a clear lead. Same is true in Michigan for two-term Sen. Debbie Stabenow and first-term incumbent Sherrod Brown. Though polling shows Rep. Martin Heinrich well ahead of former Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM-1), this is another race that could turn. Wilson’s strength with Independents in the state could make a difference if Democratic turnout is even slightly low.

Republicans are safe in fives seats: Mississippi (Wicker), Tennessee (Corker), Texas (Cruz), Utah (Hatch), and Wyoming (Barrasso).

Trending toward the GOP are the races in Indiana (open seat – Richard Mourdock), Massachusetts (Scott Brown), Nebraska (open seat – state Sen. Deb Fischer), Nevada (Heller), North Dakota (open seat – Rep. Rick Berg), and Wisconsin (open seat – former governor Tommy Thompson).

The Indiana race is tight – some polls show it about even – but Richard Mourdock has not made any mistakes in his battle with Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-IN-2). Hoosier State voting trends at the top of the ticket – Mitt Romney appears headed for victory over the President here and Rep. Mike Pence is a solid favorite in the governor’s race – should help pull Mourdock across the finish line.

Recent polling in Massachusetts and Nevada is giving senators Scott Brown and Dean Heller small, but consistent and discernible leads over Elizabeth Warren (D) and Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV-1), respectively.

While the North Dakota seat has been tight for most of the campaign, more recent polling indicates that Rep. Rick Berg is opening up a lead well beyond the margin of error.

All post-primary polls in Wisconsin give former governor Tommy Thompson a lead over Madison Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI-2). All of these races could turn away from the Republicans before Election Day, but today, the GOP candidates look to be in the winning position.

Questions abound in the following campaigns:

• Arizona (open seat): Though Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ-6) is favored here, some polls are detecting a close race and Democratic nominee Richard Carmona is making this campaign a battle.

• Connecticut (open seat): A combination of factors have come together to make this race, at least in the short term, more competitive than expected. GOP nominee Linda McMahon being awarded the Independent Party ballot line, new polling showing the two candidates running close, and a personal financial situation involving Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT-5) are all minor individual items that taken in the aggregate could become significant.

• Florida: Polling has been extremely inconsistent in the Sunshine State, but more surveys favor Sen. Ben Nelson than Rep. Connie Mack IV (R-FL-14). The campaign is trending Nelson’s way now, but the presidential final wave will have a lot to say about its final outcome.

• Missouri: Right after the August primary, Rep. Todd Akin made rape-related abortion comments that stirred a national hornet’s nest. Incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) jumped well into the lead, but the margin has since dissipated and the race is back in toss-up range. McCaskill is the most vulnerable of all Democratic incumbents standing for re-election, and Akin is the Republicans’ weakest national challenger. This one is far from over.

Montana: The political battle between first-term Sen. Jon Tester (D) and Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT-AL) has been close for months. In the past eight weeks, the polling was detecting a slight Rehberg advantage. A new survey released last week, however, showed Tester regaining the lead. The presidential election will weigh heavily on this race, and Mitt Romney seems to be enjoying a healthy advantage in Big Sky Country. This race will likely go down to the wire.

• Virginia: Possibly the closest race in the country, the campaign between former senator George Allen (R) and ex-governor Tim Kaine (D) has been dead even for the better part of a year. As in Florida and Montana, the presidential race looms large in the Virginia Senate race. The result is too close to call.

To recap, if this analysis is correct, the Democrats are safe or ahead in 16 races, including the two Independent candidates, and Republicans are safe in 11. Under this model, the GOP would attain the majority 51 number if they win any three of the six questionable races isolated above.