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Rounds to Challenge Johnson in South Dakota Senate Race

In Senate on November 30, 2012 at 12:40 pm
Sen. Johnson

Sen. Tim Johnson

Former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds (R) yesterday officially announced a challenge to three-term Sen. Tim Johnson (D) in the 2014 election. This action was expected, since Rounds formed a Senatorial exploratory soon before the November election. He served as South Dakota’s governor from 2003-2011. Because of the state’s term-limits law, Rounds was ineligible to seek re-election in 2010. He garnered 57 percent of the vote in his original campaign, and 62 percent four years later. Prior to his time as governor, Rounds served five two-year terms in the state Senate.

Due to Johnson’s physical condition after suffering a stroke in the latter stages of 2006, many have speculated that he will not seek re-election. Since the Republicans only fielded token opposition to him in 2008, the senator’s first real political test since enduring the unfortunate health situation will come in the next election.

For his part, Johnson issued a statement welcoming Rounds to the race and indicated that he will make a final decision whether to run again next year. Johnson said that he “feels great” and that he intends “to put together a winning campaign in the weeks and months ahead.” Johnson has been in public office consecutively since his original election to the South Dakota House of Representatives in 1978. He went onto serve in the state Senate and the US House of Representatives before winning the Senate seat in 1996.

South Dakota is no stranger to hotly contested and notable Senatorial campaigns in its recent past. In 2002, Johnson nipped then-Rep. John Thune (R-SD-AL) by a mere 524 votes statewide. Two years later, Thune defeated then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D) 50.6 to 49.4 percent in the 2004 general election. Should Johnson decide to retire, former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD-AL) is most often mentioned as a potential Democratic candidate. The senator’s son, Brendan Johnson, who is the sitting US Attorney for the District of South Dakota, is also a potential future candidate for a statewide political office.

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McIntyre Wins, Finally, in NC-7

In House on November 30, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Only one 2012 US House election remains unresolved, as the state of North Carolina has now certified Rep. Mike McIntyre (D) as the winner of their 7th Congressional District contest. After all of the ballots were finally recounted, McIntyre actually gained one tally and secured a now official 654-vote victory over state Sen. David Rouzer (R).

The North Carolina redistricting plan gave McIntyre a much more challenging seat, as thousands of Democratic voters in the Lumberton area were placed in a different district. The changes made the Wilmington-anchored southeastern North Carolina seat a very competitive one and will likely be so again in 2014.

The one remaining House seat to be decided will be finalized in southwest Louisiana (LA-3) on Dec. 8. There, two Republican incumbents face each other in a run-off election since neither captured a majority of the vote in the Nov. 6 statewide primary vote.

Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA-7), originally elected in 2004, and freshman Rep. Jeff Landry (R-LA-3) are vying for the new 3rd District. Since the new 3rd is comprised from 76 percent of Boustany’s current constituency and includes his home political base of Lafayette, he is regarded to be the favorite for the run-off. But, as we have repeatedly seen, anything can happen in a low-turnout election.

NOTE: Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s (D-IL-2) post-election resignation has caused a vacancy in his Chicago-anchored seat, which will be filled via special election early next year. The all-important Democratic primary is scheduled for Feb. 26, with the general election to be held March 19. A bill is making its way through the legislature to allow the governor to schedule the special general concurrently with the April 9 local and municipal elections, and is expected to pass. Current law requires all Illinois political vacancies to be filled within a 155-day period after the incumbent officially exits.

Virginia Governor Update

In Election Analysis, Governor, House, Polling on November 29, 2012 at 11:19 am

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling

In what will probably become the closest of the 2013 elections, significant action is already occurring in the open Virginia governor’s race. Since this state is the only one in the nation that still imposes a one-term limit on its chief executive, the odd-year election is always incumbent-less and thereby competitive. Next year’s campaign will be no exception.

Already, the Republican nomination situation is coming into focus. Clearly understanding that he could not win majority support in a statewide nominating convention against the more conservative Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling is again dropping plans to run for governor — this time with bad blood. Four years ago, Bolling stepped aside to give then-AG Bob McDonnell a clear shot at winning the nomination.

Objecting to the Republican Party of Virginia’s decision to replace a primary election with a convention, Bolling is not only exiting the governor’s race but says he will retire as lieutenant governor, too. “Under normal circumstances, I would be open to the possibility of running for another term as lieutenant governor, but I would not be interested in running on a statewide ticket with Mr. Cuccinelli,” he stated in a parting quote. Bolling’s reluctant action will now give Cuccinelli the opportunity of becoming the consensus Republican candidate.

On the Democratic side, former national committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, who fared poorly in the party’s gubernatorial primary four years ago losing to eventual nominee Creigh Deeds 50-26 percent, is indicating he will be back for another run. Former one-term Congressman Tom Perriello (D-VA-5) is also a potential Democratic candidate.

NOTES:

 
NC-7 Recount

Only one county remains to be re-canvassed in one of the closest House races in the country, the North Carolina contest between Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC-7) and state Sen. David Rouzer (R). When the recount began, McIntyre’s lead was 655 votes. Through the current portion of the almost completed process, the congressman has actually increased his lead by eight votes to a margin of 663 tallies. It is only now a matter of time before McIntyre is awarded an official victory. Expect this Wilmington-anchored 7th District to be a major Republican target in 2014.

New Hampshire Senate

Already, the first 2014 Senate poll has been conducted. Public Policy Polling (Nov. 14-15; 1,018 New Hampshire registered voters) surveyed a hypothetical pairing between first-term Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) and former Sen. John E. Sununu (R). The results stake the incumbent to a 53-42 percent advantage. There is no indication that Sununu will run again, but PPP often tests the most well-known political figures against incumbents before a field of actual challengers comes to the forefront. Sen. Shaheen’s job approval is 51:36 percent favorable to unfavorable.

IL-2 Special on Schedule – Sort Of

In House on November 28, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) has set the special election to replace resigned Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL-2) for a Feb. 26 primary followed by a March 19 special general election, but the latter date will likely move. Illinois law requires a vacancy to be filled within 155 days of a vacancy occurring.

Quinn’s schedule falls within the current law’s parameters, but with local and municipal elections already scheduled for April 9, a move will be made to consolidate the two voting periods, per the request of local officials. Instead of asking a court to waive the legal requirements as first thought, Quinn will simply ask the legislature upon convening in January to change the special election law with an urgency clause. Such action will give him authority to move the special general election to April 9.

Since this is a heavily Democratic seat, the special general is irrelevant. What does matter is the Democratic primary, and that will stay on Feb. 26, since the municipal nominating contests are also that day.

Already, three candidates have announced their intentions to run. Former Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-IL-11), who challenged Rep. Jackson in the 2012 Democratic primary, officially joined the race over the weekend. Quickly following her public move was Chicago Alderman Anthony Beale along with state Senator-elect Napoleon Harris. All three are Democrats.

Many more candidates are expected to file before the end of December. Though the district is more than 62 percent African-American, Halvorson hopes a crowded field with no run-off election will allow her to coalesce the minority white vote around her and overtake the majority African-American vote, which will be fractured among multiple contenders. Halvorson scored just under 24 percent against Jackson in March of this year, meaning that she has at least a small base from which to begin this campaign.

Good News for Gov. Christie

In Governor, Polling on November 28, 2012 at 11:02 am

Gov. Chris Christie

A new Rutgers-Eagleton New Jersey electorate poll (Nov. 14-17; 1,108 registered New Jersey voters) provides Gov. Chris Christie (R) with some very good news. According to the sampling universe, his job approval stands a 67 percent favorable to 26 percent unfavorable. But the better news for Christie is his standing against all potential Democratic rivals.

When paired with state senator and former Gov. Richard Codey, Christie’s margin is 56-31 percent. Against Newark Mayor Corey Booker, the governor stands at 53-34 percent. The numbers are even better when isolated with lesser-known potential Democratic rivals. Matched up against opposing former party chairman Tom Byrne, Christie soars to a 58-22 percent advantage. His gap grows to 60-22 percent when paired with state Sen. Barbara Buono and 60-21 percent when the opponent is Assemblyman Lou Greenwald. None of these individuals is an announced gubernatorial candidate.

Quinnipiac University is scheduled to release its latest New Jersey poll later today, but already leaked that their Christie job approval ratio is a whopping 72:21. It’s hard for a New Jersey Republican to begin an election year in better position. Gov. Christie is eligible to seek a second term next year.

Capito for Senate in W.Va.

In Senate on November 27, 2012 at 10:56 am

West Virginia Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-2nd CD) officially announced that she will challenge Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D) next year, becoming the first person of the new election cycle to declare intentions for another office. Though speculation has been heavy that the senator won’t seek a sixth term in 2014, Rockefeller in response to his new challenger, says he plans to run even while disparaging the constancy of the campaign season.

The Republicans scored big with this recruit. Now needing to gain six Democratic seats to achieve bare minimum control, the West Virginia campaign may be behind only North Carolina as a GOP conversion opportunity. Should Sen. Rockefeller reverse course and retire, then Capito would become a prohibitive favorite in an open seat situation.

The congresswoman was originally elected in 2000, and has consistently strengthened her political base with each re-election campaign. This year, she racked up a 70-30 percent win after notching 68 percent of the vote in 2010. Prior to these two elections, her victory percentages had been in the 50s. In a three-congressional district state, Ms. Capito represents one-third of the state’s voters and West Virginia’s largest urban area of Charleston.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Resignation is Official

In Governor, House on November 26, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL-2)

Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s (D-IL-2) resignation from the House became official on Nov. 21, thus starting the special election clock. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) will make an announcement today setting the election calendar, but local officials in the three-county region that comprises the 2nd District have already asked for a waiver from the scheduling law. Should Quinn agree to bypass the special election timing requirement, judicial approval will be required.

Illinois election law states that the governor has five days to call a special election in the event of a vacancy in Congress or for state office. The vacancy is supposed to be filled within 115 days after the date of resignation, but the county officials are asking that the election be postponed to coincide with their municipal and local elections already scheduled for April 9. The special election law would require that both the nominating and special general elections occur before March 16. Quinn has already indicated that his election calendar plan will be both “… fair to the electorate and as economical as possible for taxpayers,” according to his original statement. It is expected that he will make the election concurrent with the regular municipal election date since the two dates are only three weeks apart.

The election officials have also requested that the governor place the nominating election on the same date as their regularly scheduled municipal and local primary, which is Feb. 26. Since the 2nd District is heavily Democratic, it is this party’s primary vote that will be determinative, as the general election will merely be pro forma. Therefore, it is the February date that becomes critical for this replacement process.

Jackson’s resignation is due to health reasons and an ongoing federal investigation into whether he illegally used campaign funds to cover personal expenses, as outlined in his official letter to Speaker John Boehner.

Expect a large Democratic field to compete in the special primary. Already, former Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-IL-11), originally elected in the old 11th District but defeated in 2010 after one term, has officially announced her candidacy. She opposed Jackson in the 2012 Democratic primary but secured only 23.6 percent of the vote.

Since Illinois has no run-off, Halvorson is hoping to unify the smaller white vote, which may be enough to secure victory if the African-Americans split among many candidates. IL-2 has a black population of 62.4 percent. Two other majority African-American districts, Tennessee’s 9th CD (Rep. Steve Cohen) and Michigan’s 14th (Rep. Gary Peters), currently send white males to Washington, winning under similar circumstances to what Halvorson hopes will occur in this upcoming special election.

Other individuals said to be considering running to replace Jackson are the former congressman’s brother Jonathan Jackson, prominent local Chicago pastor Corey Brooks, attorney Sam Adam Jr., state senators Toi Hutchison and Donne Trotter, Chicago Aldermen Anthony Beale and Will Burns, and former state Reps. David Miller and Robin Kelly. All are Democrats.

The 2nd District encompasses the south Chicago area in Cook County and includes part of Will County and all of Kankakee.

Unexpected Voter Turnout Patterns

In Election Analysis, Presidential campaign on November 21, 2012 at 4:28 pm

We wish you the best for the happiest of Thanksgiving holidays. The PRIsm Political Updates will return Monday, Nov. 26.

The official state participation and candidate preference statistics are being released throughout the nation, and many of the numbers are quite surprising. While turnout was down nationally, it was up in most of the battleground states and, despite Pres. Barack Obama’s victory, it may be erroneous to assume that the turnout pattern completely favored him.

While it is clear the president obviously benefited from the voting preferences of the aggregate group of people who cast ballots during the election process, it is interesting to note that he was only able to return 91.5 percent of the total vote he received in 2008. In contrast, losing national Republican nominee Mitt Romney retained 99.4 percent of John McCain’s 2008 vote. Obviously Romney needed to do better than to simply equal McCain’s vote, but it is significant that Obama’s share of the vote declined by almost a full 10 percent from what he obtained four years ago, especially when understanding that the Obama campaign clearly had the superior grassroots organization.

Nationally, and rather astonishingly from what was widely forecast before the election, overall voter turnout was down six million votes from the number cast in 2008, or a fall-off of 4.7 percent. It appears that virtually all of the drop-off came from the Obama coalition, as the president’s vote receded by almost that same amount as did the national turnout (voter participation reduction: 6,148,768 individuals; Obama drop: 5,917,631 votes).

The four core states also recorded interesting turnout patterns. Of the quartet of places that Romney needed to convert if he were to unseat the president, it was North Carolina — the only state in this group that he did carry — that had the highest participation rate increase from 2008. North Carolina voter turnout was up 4.5 percent in comparison to their aggregate number of voters from four years ago. Virginia and Florida, two of the three core states that remained with the president, also saw increased participation. Virginia was up 3.5 percent; Florida 1.0 percent.

Ohio, often believed to be the most important state in the presidential contest because it was viewed to be a national bellwether, surprisingly recorded a lower turnout this year than during the previous Obama victory campaign. Ohio turnout was down a rather substantial 5.9 percent, or greater than 336,000 participants from 2008.

Of those seven states commonly viewed to be in the secondary target group — at least one of which Romney would have had to have carried to be successful, more if he failed to carry all of the core states — four saw increased participation, and three declined. The states producing a greater number of voters were in the Midwest (Wisconsin, up 2.4 percent; Iowa, increasing 1.9 percent) and West (fast-growing Nevada adding 4.5 percent; Colorado, up 3.1 percent).

The three eastern and Mid-Atlantic states all recorded a smaller voter participation rate. Pennsylvania, always considered a swing state and a place that attracts a great deal of campaign attention, saw its voter turnout rate fall 6.1 percent; Michigan, the only state in the Union that actually lost population in the preceding decade, dropped 5.7 percent; and New Hampshire returned almost the same number of voters, coming in just 5,091 ballots under their 2008 total.

It appears the biggest voter drop-off occurred in some of the nation’s largest states, those that are most Democratic and among the president’s strongest places. His home state of Illinois, for example, saw more than 431,000, or 7.8 percent, fewer people vote this year than when compared to their favorite son’s first election in 2008. New York had the largest drop-off, a stunning 19.8 percent below its participation level of four years ago. California, the nation’s largest state, was off 12.5 percent. But, lower turnout rates were not confined only to the large Democratic states. Texas, the biggest and most loyal Republican entity, also saw a reduction in turnout. Over 112,000 fewer voters went to the polls in 2012 when compared to 2008.

More analysis will be completed when additional data is available, but these statewide turnout numbers may have produced more questions about the nation’s voting patterns than answers.

La. House Race Still to be Decided

In Election Analysis, House on November 20, 2012 at 11:01 am

Rep. Charles Boustany

All but one of the 2012 US House races have been called and further legal challenges and recounts in at least two districts notwithstanding, a group of 234 Republicans and 201 Democrats will take the oath of office on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013. Though we know the partisan count, the identity of the 234th Republican member is still undetermined. The election cycle’s final campaign will feature Louisiana GOP Reps. Charles Boustany (R-LA-7) and Jeff Landry (R-LA-3) vying for the right to represent the state’s new 3rd District on Dec. 8.

Under Louisiana election law, the state’s primary date is scheduled concurrently with the national general election day, meaning that Bayou State voters went to the polls for the first time just this past Nov. 6th. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote in what is commonly called the jungle primary, then a run-off election between the top two finishers, regardless of political party affiliation, is held at a later date. California and Washington also use this system, but Louisiana is the only one that holds their primary concurrently with the general election. Because they choose this electoral method, the state’s voters can elect a candidate outright without a second election. In the other jungle primary states, candidates must advance to the run-off election regardless of the percentage received.

Due to national growth patterns and after-effects of the devastating Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Louisiana failed to keep all seven of its congressional districts in reapportionment. Therefore, two members would inevitably be forced into a pairing. The legislature placed veteran Rep. Boustany, elected in 2004, and freshman Landry together in a new southern district. The new seat heavily favors Boustany, because he currently represents 76 percent of the territory and his home base of Lafayette is included whole. Landry sees only 24 percent of his current 3rd District constituency carry over to the new LA-3.

In terms of campaign funding, the two will undoubtedly raise and spend more than $5 million combined. So far, Boustany has obtained just under $3 million, spending $2.64 million and retaining $917,612 for the period beginning October 18th. Landry raised $1.832 million, already spent $1.194 million and had $638,316 in the bank at the close of the Oct. 17 pre-general election reporting period.

Though the outcome will not change the House’s new partisan division, the final result will still be interesting. The pairing is clearly designed for Boustany to win — and he placed first in the Nov. 6 primary election garnering 45-30 percent, a margin of 45,589 votes. But strange things often happen in run-offs. Landry enjoys strong support among the Tea Party activists of southern Louisiana, but exactly what impact they will have in what promises to be a low-turnout election remains unknown.

In another boost for Rep. Boustany occurring just yesterday, the primary’s third place finisher, Democrat Ron Richard who recorded 21.5 percent (67,058 votes), publicly threw his support behind the veteran congressman.

After a winner is declared here on Dec. 8, the new 2014 election cycle will officially begin.

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