Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Archive for May, 2013|Monthly archive page

Georgia Senate Race Now Defined

In Senate on May 20, 2013 at 10:02 am

On the heels of representatives John Barrow (D-GA-12) and Tom Price (D-GA-6) both making public their decisions not to run, it appears that a set open-seat field of Georgia Senate race contenders is in place, some 14 months before the 2014 primary election.

Former Secretary of State Karen Handel, who was expected to run for the Senate once Price made clear that he will stay in the House, and businessman David Perdue now join representatives Jack Kingston (R-GA-1), Paul Broun (R-GA-10), and Phil Gingrey (R-GA-11) in vying for the Republican senatorial nomination and the right to succeed retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R).

Handel and Perdue entering the race greatly changes the campaign. Now with five strong candidates, the Georgia Republican senatorial primary will likely be the most interesting nomination battle in the entire country.

Handel began her career in the private sector before landing a position on Marilyn Quayle’s staff when Dan Quayle, was vice president. Handel later became deputy chief of staff to Gov. Sonny Perdue (R-GA). Her first elected position was as Fulton County commission chair. From that office, she launched a successful bid for secretary of state in 2006.

Four years later, Handel joined a similarly crowded field in the open governor’s race. She placed first in the primary, capturing 34.1 percent of the vote, topping her six opponents. Former Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA-9) slipped into the second run-off position, gliding past insurance commissioner John Oxendine, who had been the early front-runner. But things did not go as well for her in the August run-off. She and Deal basically fought to a draw, but the former congressman (Deal had resigned his House seat prior to the primary election) nipped her at the end and claimed a 50.2-49.8 percent win, a margin of just 2,519 votes of just under 580,000 cast.

David Perdue is the former Chief Executive Officer of both the Dollar General and  Continue reading >

Polls: VA and MA are Real

In Polling, Senate on May 17, 2013 at 10:32 am

Mass-VA

Two new polls were released yesterday, one for the looming battle in the Virginia governor’s race and the other in the Massachusetts Senate special election. Both continue to show a high degree of competitiveness.

In the Old Dominion, Quinnipiac University released their new study (May 8-13; 1,286 registered Virginia voters) that contradicts both last week’s Washington Post poll and the one from NBC News/Marist College showing Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli leading Democrat Terry McAuliffe among likely participants. The new Q-Poll gives the former Democratic National Committee chairman a 43-38 percent advantage among registered voters.

To the north, Public Policy Polling (May 13-15; 880 likely June 25 Massachusetts special election participants), surveying for the League of Conservation Voters, shows Democratic Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5) expanding his lead over Republican private equity investor Gabriel Gomez to 48-41 percent. PPP’s first post-primary survey projected only a 44-40 percent split in the congressman’s favor.

The Quinnipiac poll may have over-sampled Virginia Democrats, however. Their analysis does not identify the number of individuals questioned by political party segmentation, but the responses suggest that many more Democrats than Republicans were included.

Here’s how we know: According to their statistical report, McAuliffe is winning the Democratic segment 83-5 percent. But Cuccinelli is scoring just about the same  Continue reading >

Shaheen Cruising While Brown Lags in NH

In Senate on May 16, 2013 at 9:52 am

The New England College recently polled (May 2-5; 807 registered New Hampshire voters) the Granite State electorate and one of the office holders they tested was Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D). She is preparing for her first re-election, possibly against former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown (R).

About three weeks ago, Brown made public his consideration of launching a campaign against the senator in New Hampshire. He justifies the move by reminding voters that he was born in the state. Since making his statement, he has been actively exploring this potential political opportunity.

The NEC poll is the second publicly released survey since a Shaheen-Brown race became a possibility. The first, from Public Policy Polling (April 19-21; 933 registered New Hampshire voters) gave the New Hampshire senator a 52-41 percent advantage, but that was better than any bona-fide Granite State Republican fared against Shaheen.

New England College portends an even stronger incumbent than did PPP. They forecast a 54-35 percent ballot test, with a Shaheen favorability index of 61:29 percent positive to negative. Her approval among Republicans is 31 percent, 63 percent from Independents. Brown scores an overall 41:29 percent favorability index rating.

Delving further into the NEC poll, we find that Shaheen would command the support of 89 percent of self-identified Democrats, while Brown attracts 71 percent of Republicans. Independents break a solid 57-31 percent for the incumbent.

In the meantime, however, Public Policy Polling conducted a survey of Massachusetts voters (May 1-2; 1,539 registered Massachusetts voters) and found that Brown is the strongest candidate in the upcoming open governor’s race from either party and enjoys a 53:35 percent favorability rating among Bay State voters.

Tested against four major Democratic office holders, Brown would beat them all in hypothetical races for the state’s chief executive position.
 Continue reading >

Senate Questions

In Senate on May 15, 2013 at 10:30 am

capitol

Within the last week, no fewer than four major potential senatorial candidates have decided not to run. Three sitting members of the House, representatives John Barrow (D-GA-12), Steve King (R-IA-4), and Tom Price (R-GA-6), and one former congresswoman, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin from South Dakota, each announced that they will be doing something other than running for the United States Senate in 2014. With so many potential candidates content to allow their current opportunity to evaporate, what now is the status of the various Senate races?

Both the Republicans and Democrats have, so far, experienced recruitment failures. Democrats see two seats that they currently hold, Jay Rockefeller’s post in West Virginia and Tim Johnson’s position in South Dakota, going by the wayside. Currently, they have no candidate willing to challenge GOP Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2) in the Mountaineer State, and their two strongest South Dakota potential contenders have taken a pass. While they do have a former aide to Sen. Tom Daschle (Rick Weiland) now in the race, it is apparent that he is no match for Republican former Gov. Mike Rounds.

Republicans have yet to field a candidate in Iowa where Sen. Tom Harkin (D) is retiring.  Continue reading >

Another Declines a Senate Run

In Senate on May 14, 2013 at 10:12 am

On the heels of representatives John Barrow (D-GA-12), Steve King (R-IA-4), and Tom Price (R-GA-6) all declining to run for the US Senate just within the last week, former South Dakota representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD-AL) followed the trend yesterday by announcing that she, too, will remain on the political sidelines next year.

Though the Democrats are in an underdog position in trying to save retiring Sen. Tim Johnson’s (D) Senate seat, survey research and local political activists and analysts alike projected the former congresswoman to be the party’s strongest open seat candidate.

But the person viewed as the Democrats’ second-best contender, US Attorney Brendan Johnson, the retiring senator’s son, may also decline to run. More information is forthcoming that suggests Johnson, in fact, will not enter the race. Should such conjecture prove true, the Democrats will be without a top-tier candidate to protect a seat they currently possess.

The party’s one announced candidate, Rick Weiland, a former staffer for Sen. Tom Daschle (D), gave further indication that Brendan Johnson will not make the race. Telling reporters that he would not be running if he believed Johnson would become a candidate, Weiland faces a major challenge just to be considered viable.

On the Republican side, former two-term governor Mike Rounds has been running since the 2012 election ended. Rounds quickly made his intention clear, and declared for the seat months before Sen. Johnson made his decision to retire. Now that the senator is out of the race, and Herseth Sandlin and Brendan Johnson are declining to run, Rounds is in an even stronger position.

Clearly the South Dakota seat is one of two Democratic states that the Republicans, in the early going, are becoming prohibitive favorites to convert. The other is the open West Virginia, where Rep. Shelley Moore  Continue reading >

Price a No-Go in Georgia

In Senate on May 13, 2013 at 10:17 am
Rep. Tom Price (R-GA-6)

Rep. Tom Price (R-GA-6)

Georgia Rep. Tom Price (R-6), who at one time was viewed to be a sure open seat Senate candidate and even a potential primary challenger to incumbent Republican Saxby Chambliss, announced late Friday that he will not run statewide next year.

In retrospect, Price’s decision is not particularly surprising because he delayed so long in making a public pronouncement. Soon after Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA-10) entered the race — the first person to declare for the retiring Sen. Chambliss’ open seat back in February — Rep. Price said that, because of his duties on the Budget Committee, he would postpone any political decision until May. Clearly not committed to the Senate race, he now has officially chosen to remain in the House.

Price, originally elected to Congress in 2004, maintains House leadership desires. A former chairman of the Republican Study Committee and the Republican Policy Committee, he lost a race for conference chairman to Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-5) at the beginning of the current Congress. During his career in the state legislature, Price became the first Republican Senate majority leader in Georgia history.

Money certainly would not have been an issue for five-term congressman. He raised  Continue reading >

Massachusetts Senate Polls Show Tight Race

In Polling, Senate on May 10, 2013 at 10:45 am

On the heels of Public Policy Polling surveying the Massachusetts Senate special general election that showed Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5) holding only a slim four-point, 44-40 percent, lead over private equity investor and former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez (R), MassINC and Suffolk University quickly released their data.

Though neither show the race as close as PPP, the MassINC poll lands in the same range as Public Policy Polling, while Suffolk gives Markey a double-digit lead. Over the course of the past two elections, PPP has proven to be the more reliable pollster than either of these other survey research entities, however.

The MassINC poll (May 5-6; 497 registered Massachusetts voters) conducted for WBUR-TV, the Boston region’s PBS affiliate, gives Markey only a 41-35 percent lead among those who stated a defined choice. When “leaners” are added, the Markey advantage increases to 46-38 percent.

Regionally, Gomez claims a big 47-28 percent (51-31 percent adding leaners) advantage in the western and central part of the state. Markey is up 41-40 percent in the area defined as the “outer suburbs,” the region beginning at the northeastern corner of the state on the New Hampshire border and swinging around the western end of Boston before wrapping its way back to the Atlantic Ocean south of the city. But, that slight edge is countered by a one-point 35-34 percent Gomez lead in the southeast, the territory including the cities of Brockton and Fall River, and then continuing all through the hook-shaped Cape Cod peninsula. Markey has a commanding 59-20 percent split in Boston and the city’s inner suburbs.

The Suffolk University poll (May 4-7; 500 likely Massachusetts voters) produces a much different result, forecasting Markey to have a substantial 52-35 percent advantage. The 17-point gap between the two is obviously far greater than PPP’s four-point margin and WBUR’s six-point spread.

According to MassINC’s Steve Koczela,  Continue reading >

Two VA Polls: A Trending Cuccinelli

In Governor on May 9, 2013 at 3:57 pm
Ken Cuccinelli (R)

Ken Cuccinelli (R)

NBC News/Marist College and the Washington Post Media organization surveyed the Virginia electorate within the last week and though they report some different results, both show that Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe each can win the general election to be Virginia’s next governor.

The Washington Post Media poll (April 29-May 2; 887 registered Virginia voters) gives Cuccinelli a 46-41 percent lead and a major 51-41 percent advantage among an undisclosed number of “likely voters.” NBC/Marist (April 28-May 2; 1,095 registered Virginia voters; 692 likely election participants) posts McAuliffe to a 43-41 percent lead, but shows him trailing 42-45 percent among likely voters.

Remembering that Virginia holds it state elections in odd-numbered years, thus yielding a lower voter turnout, the “likely voter” category appears to be more important. There, both surveys agree that Cuccinelli has a discernible edge.

While the NBC poll shows positive personal ratings for both candidates — Cuccinelli 42:27 percent favorable to unfavorable; McAuliffe 32:24 percent — familiarity with each is low and both are largely a blank slate.

The Washington Post survey delved more deeply into the impressions of each candidate and found that people don’t yet associate anything in particular with either man. When asked what the respondents  Continue reading >

Sanford!

In House on May 8, 2013 at 10:08 am

Seemingly against all odds, former governor Mark Sanford (R-SC) successfully re-claimed his former congressional seat with a stunning 54-45 percent victory over Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch last night in southeastern South Carolina. The race drew major national attention because of Sanford’s highly publicized extra-marital affair and alleged violation of his divorce agreement, along with the Democratic nominee’s status of being the sister of Comedy Central television personality Stephen Colbert. Colbert Busch’s inability to dodge the liberal label, however, proved to be her undoing in this conservative Charleston-anchored 1st Congressional District.

It’s rare when a nominee winning a seat that overwhelmingly favors his party is considered an upset, but that’s exactly what happened last night. Sanford, running as a Tea Party endorsed fiscal hard-liner, successfully made his budget discipline message the focal point of the campaign and not his continuing personal scandals.

The Democrats poured a steady stream of money into the race, sensing that they could steal a solidly Republican seat and use the victory as a building block to support their 2014 House majority plan. Last night’s defeat is clearly a setback for them. When the final accounting is completed, the tally will likely show that Colbert Busch and the outside organizations supporting her or opposing Sanford spent between $1.7 and $2 million. Sanford, accompanied by very little outside spending, will come closer to, but will likely fall under, $1 million in total expenditures.

Earlier we projected that the former governor and congressman needed a high turnout to win because Colbert Busch would likely benefit from a lower voter participation rate. The former occurred. The final unofficial tally shows a total of 143,774 votes cast, from which Sanford garnered 54.0 percent. The total represents 31.6 percent of the 455,702 SC-1 registered voters.

Special elections commonly record total turnout numbers in the 100-120,000 range.  Continue reading >

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