Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Archive for December, 2010|Monthly archive page

Merry Christmas; Happy Holidays

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 12:11 pm

We at the PRIsm Information Network wish you the very best for the holiday season.

We will be back next week with our full complement of reports and services. Thank you for your patronage over the past year. We look forward to an even better 2011.

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Enjoy the holidays!!

Early Redistricting Projections

In Apportionment on December 23, 2010 at 9:11 am

Now that the new apportionment and population numbers are official, we can begin calculating each party’s chances of prevailing in the redistricting wars. Much of the action will occur in the states that either gained or lost congressional seats in yesterday’s 2010 national apportionment.

• In Texas, with four new seats to add to its delegation, Republicans must have a goal of gaining three of those four in order to send a 26R-10D delegation to Washington.
• It is likely that Florida will split its two new seats between the parties, but Republicans must exit the Sunshine State up 20R-7D.
• New York, losing two seats, also will see a likely outcome of each party being down one seat. That would mean a delegation that’s the mirror image of Florida: 20D-7R.
• Ohio, already at 13R-5D, will lose two seats. A 12R-4D delegation should be the Republican goal, since they control the entire redistricting process.

Democrats should gain the new seats in Nevada and Washington, while making the Republicans absorb the loss in Illinois, Louisiana, and New Jersey. Democrats will feel the pinch of an evaporating seat in Massachusetts, Michigan, and Pennsylvania and potentially Iowa and Missouri. Republicans will gain newly awarded districts in Georgia, South Carolina, Utah and possibly Arizona.

From a Republican perspective, their goal is to lock in the huge number of seats they just won and add approximately five more nationally. Democrats will look to gain a seat or two. Hence, the swing between the parties will be small.

Apportionment: Florida Gains, New York Loses

In Apportionment on December 22, 2010 at 8:59 am

The Census Bureau released the new state population figures yesterday and confirmed that 12 congressional seats will change states for the coming decade. It had been clear for some time that Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington were going to gain, and Ohio, New York, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania were going to lose representation. But, the actual apportionment has traditionally been a bit different from the pre-census estimates. Not so in 2010.

A recent Election Data Services forecast precisely the official apportionment. If there was a surprise, it was that Florida gained a second seat and New York lost two. Prior estimates suggested that Oregon was on the cusp of gaining a seat, but that proved not to be the case as their potential 6th district actually placed 442nd, some seven seats away from acceptance. Oregon, California, and Idaho were the only states not to gain in the far west. Idaho, despite a population increase of better than 21%, more than double the national average from 2000, did not come close to gaining a third congressional district.

There was suspense, however, as to whether Missouri or Minnesota would lose the final district. The result is Missouri — as the Show Me State’s 9th district placed 437th, thus limiting them to eight seats for the ensuing decade. Minnesota held its 8th district by about 15,000 people, thus denying North Carolina a new 14th seat. The hypothetical NC-14 was the 436th district, or the next one in line.

The national population increased 9.7% over the decade. The state with the largest percentage growth increase was Nevada at 35.1%, while Michigan is the only place that now has fewer people than it did at the beginning of 2000. Michigan’s real growth rate was a negative 0.6%. The only US non-state entity to decline in population was Puerto Rico, which lost 2.2% of its population over the last ten years.

The top five population gainers are Nevada (35.1%), Arizona (24.6%), Utah (23.8%), Idaho (21.1%), and Texas (20.6%). The five states with the slowest growth rates are Michigan (-0.6%), Rhode Island (0.4%), Louisiana (1.4%), Ohio (1.6%), and New York (2.1%). California, not gaining a seat for the first time in history, had a 10.0% real growth rate. The aforementioned Oregon recorded a 12.0% increase.

The apportionment formula becomes clear when comparing Florida and Delaware. It’s a good example as to why it is easier for the big states to gain and lose seats. The Sunshine State’s rate of growth was 17.6%, but the raw number increase was 2.9 million inhabitants. Hence, the awarding of two additional seats. Delaware saw a population increase of 14.6%, but gained only 114,000 people. Their new population of more than 897,000 is large for one district, but, like Montana’s situation, is much too small for two.

The addition of two districts in Florida probably gives each party a new seat. The GOP, with a hold over the redistricting pen, will likely have a 21R-7D seat ratio goal, though the new redistricting restrictions voters placed upon map drawers may make it difficult for Republicans to take 2/3 of the seats when the statewide vote normally breaks closer to 50/50.

The switch of districts also affects the presidential election. Looking at President Obama’s 2008 winning coalition of states, his total of 365 electoral votes would diminish to 358 under the new apportionment, while the Republican total would grow to 180 if every state were to vote the same way in 2012. This means a net swing of 14 votes for the GOP, equivalent to winning a state the size of New Jersey or Virginia.

Bachmann for Senate?

In Senate on December 21, 2010 at 9:18 am

Given her tops-in-the-House fundraising performance during the 2010 election cycle ($13.2 million raised; $12.8 from individuals, with $1.97 million remaining in her campaign account) and polling showing her easily beating all other potential Minnesota Republican statewide candidates including Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN-6) is now saying that nothing is “off the table” for the 2012 election. Previously she said she was concentrating only on running for re-election. Though the early December Public Policy Polling data shows her to be the favorite of the Minnesota GOP, she and all other Republicans fare poorly against Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D). The Senator, who will be seeking her first re-election, breaks 50% against all potential Republican opponents, posting double-digit leads.

But there is another potential reverberation to Bachmann running for the Senate. If Minnesota loses a congressional district to reapportionment, as may happen in the Census Bureau announcement tomorrow, it would be easy for map-makers to collapse Bachmann’s congressional seat into a neighboring Republican district, thus costing the GOP a seat. Should a court draw the map, a likely scenario since the Democrats will control the governor’s mansion and Republicans the legislature, thus causing a political stalemate, a different option (among many) is to draw the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul into one seat, since it would be a sound legal argument to suggest the region is a community of interest. This would cost the Democrats a seat. So there is much more risk for the GOP than meets the eye should Bachmann take the statewide plunge.

Apportionment Announcement Tomorrow

In Apportionment on December 20, 2010 at 9:22 am

As we reported last week, the Census Bureau will announce the 2010 population figures tomorrow, telling us how many congressional seats each state will have for the ensuing decade.

As has been covered for several months, the states virtually assured to gain seats are Texas (3 or 4), Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Utah, while Ohio (-2), Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania appear to be sure losers. It also looks like Florida, South Carolina, and Washington will gain. Among Missouri, Minnesota, and Illinois, it is also a virtual certainty that at least two of these three will lose a seat. One unsubstantiated estimate also put Florida in the mix for gaining a second seat and New York losing a second, but these numbers seem out of context with what was previously known and released. North Carolina is also a potential long shot to gain, as it was in the 2000 census when it was awarded a 13th district.

As with all of the projections, the pre-release estimates are never fully correct. None of the previous calculations included 2010 data, and some of them were completed even before the 2009 population estimates were released. Therefore, uncertainty does exist as to exactly how the full complement of winning and losing states will unfold. The apportionment formula is complicated and state-specific.

The decade’s growth rate is certainly a determining factor for the number of seats apportioned, but that means vastly different raw numbers in each state. For example, a 10% rate of growth means a gain of approximately 9,700 people in Montana, but 3.7 million in California. Adding such a number to the Montana population will not result in an increase in representation, but the same percentage uptick for California very well may. Thus, simply put, it is easier for the bigger states to gain and lose districts than for the smaller ones to move up or down.

The apportionment numbers also affect the presidential race. Most of the swing means that the Democratic nominee, certainly to be President Obama, will have fewer electoral votes in his coalition of states than he did in 2008 because the states that the Democrats typically win are losing representation, and the ones Republicans normally carry are gaining. Just how great the electoral vote count change will be become known tomorrow. We will have a full analysis of the new congressional apportionment on Wednesday.

New Senate Numbers in Wisconsin and Ohio

In Senate on December 17, 2010 at 8:55 am

Public Policy Polling continues their early polling of major Senate races with surveys in Wisconsin and Ohio. Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) must decide whether to seek a fifth term in 2012. He will be 77 at the time of the next election, but the PPP data shows him to be in relatively good political position. In Ohio, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) stands for his first re-election in what figures to be a competitive battle and one of the more important national races for both parties.

The Wisconsin poll (Dec. 10-12; 702 registered voters) pits Sen. Kohl against three of the bigger Republican names in the state regardless of whether or not they have expressed any interest in running. Among former Gov. Tommy Thompson, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI-1), it is Congressman Ryan who fares the best in the early trial runs. He would trail Kohl only 42-48%. Thompson is behind 40-49%, while Kohl polls best against Van Hollen, leading him 51-38%. The senator’s job approval score is 50:43% favorable to unfavorable.

Should Kohl decide to retire, most people believe that defeated Sen. Russ Feingold would be first in line to attempt a comeback. PPP tested him against the same trio of Republicans and found him to be leading them all. His numbers are strikingly similar to Sen. Kohl’s. Interestingly, Feingold’s favorability ratio is exactly the same as Kohl’s: 50:43%.

In Ohio, the incumbent’s numbers aren’t quite as strong as either Sens. Kohl or Feingold. PPP (Dec. 10-12; 510 registered voters) conducted a small-sample poll of the Ohio electorate and tested four Republicans against Sen. Brown. Newly elected Attorney General and former U.S. Senator Mike DeWine fares the best, actually pulling into a tie with Brown at 43%. Newly elected Lt. Governor and former state Auditor Mary Taylor trails only by two points, 38-40%. The new Secretary of State, Jon Husted, is behind 38-43%, and 4th district Rep. Jim Jordan is eight points down at 35-43%.

At this time, it does not appear that DeWine will enter the Senate race, nor does Husted. Earlier this week Jordan indicated he is much more inclined to seek re-election to the House than running for the Senate. Ms. Taylor, on the other hand, may be the GOP’s top option. She has strong support among the Republican Party’s conservative base, which would likely give her the inside track for the 2012 nomination should she choose to run.

Preemptive Redistricting Moves

In Redistricting on December 16, 2010 at 8:40 am

Next Tuesday, the Census Bureau will release the 2010 state population figures, and we will know then just how many congressional seats each state will possess for the next decade.

Even before we see the numbers, office holders are beginning to make contingency plans in case their state re-map places them in an adverse re-election position. One such man may be Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-IN-2). The congressman was originally elected in 2006, unseating then-incumbent Rep. Chris Chocola (R), and won again easily two years later. This past November, however, produced a much different electoral result as Donnelly barely escaped defeat, beating Republican Jackie Walorski 48-47%, on a margin of just 2,538 votes.

With Republicans controlling the redistricting pen in 2011, Donnelly already is publicly speculating about his future options should the GOP place him in unfriendly political territory. He is letting party leaders know that he would seriously consider a race for governor — the seat will be open because Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) is term-limited — if he deems his re-election prospects to be poor. Many believe that attempting to draw a 7R-2D Hoosier State map is a stretch, hence Donnelly’s rhetoric could be part of a strategic preemptive strike designed to keep his northern Indiana seat intact. This is a great example of the political “game within the game.” Expect many more plays of this type in the coming weeks.

In Minnesota: Klobuchar Strong, Pawlenty Faltering

In Senate on December 15, 2010 at 9:27 am

Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN)

Public Policy Polling continues their early 2012 election cycle polling with two surveys of Minnesota voters. Their conclusions are that first-term Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) is in strong position for re-election; Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN-6) fares best within the state Republican voting base; and outgoing Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) is not as robust among his own party faithful as one might expect, but does lead the presidential pack of candidates even though 3/4 of the likely primary voters prefer another contender.

According to the PPP December 4-5 data (949 registered MN voters), Sen. Klobuchar has majority support against all potential 2012 opponents. Pawlenty fares best against her, but trails 43-53%. Klobuchar has a 14-point lead over former Sen. Norm Coleman, 54-40%; a 17-point advantage when paired against Rep. Bachmann, 56-39%; an 18-point edge over the recently defeated gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer; and enjoys a 52-34% spread over Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN-3). In the early going, it looks like Sen. Klobuchar will not be among the most seriously challenged Democratic incumbents in the next cycle.

PPP’s secondary poll surveyed the Republican electorate. Their small-sample poll (387 MN Republican primary voters, released December 13th) produced some interesting patterns. In testing all potential statewide candidates against Klobuchar, Rep. Bachmann easily does the best, claiming the support of 36% of those questioned. Pawlenty was second, but lagged back at 20%. Coleman followed with only 14%. Newly elected 8th district Rep. Chip Cravaack, who has yet to even take office in the House, actually scored a respectable 7%.

None of those candidates tested, however, have expressed any interest in running for the Senate. Still, if these individuals score as poorly as they do against Klobuchar, then it’s unlikely the GOP will be able to recruit another candidate who would begin in better position.

Though the Minnesota Republican survey is a small-sample poll, it does give us some clear points of reference. First, Bachmann, with her strength among Minnesota conservatives, is a viable contender to win a Minnesota GOP nomination. Second, Gov. Pawlenty, though a winner of two statewide general elections, should be doing better among Minnesota Republicans. If his support here is this weak, then a Pawlenty for President campaign will have to quickly gain strength and momentum, particularly in nearby Iowa, if he is going to be a factor in the national election.

Pew: Public Strongly Favors Tax Bill

In Polls on December 14, 2010 at 9:35 am

Though President Obama is fending off strong political attacks from his own base in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, a new Pew Research Center for the People & Press poll suggests that rank-and-file Democrats strongly support the measure. In fact, their support for the bill is not unlike those who identify themselves as Republicans or Independents.

According to their national survey conducted of 1,011 adults across America over the period of December 9-12, approval of the tax bill compromise receives a 60% approval rating versus just 22% who disapprove. The most notable point coming from the poll is just how consistent the approval mark is across the political party spectrum. Democrats approve of the bill by a 63-25% margin; Republicans favor it by a 62-21% count; and Independents register their support at 60-21%.

However, the most surprising Pew number comes from the self-described liberals. Among the people comprising this cell group, 65% support the Obama-Republican tax package and only 20% oppose the bill. That’s an even better ratio than among conservatives who report a 64-22% support level for the measure.