Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Archive for August, 2013|Monthly archive page

Democrats Battle in CA-17; Spitzer Reels

In House, Mayor, Polls on August 30, 2013 at 10:17 am

Khanna-Honda

The elimination of California’s partisan primaries, as was done prior to the last election, will again seriously affect Golden State politics in the 2014 mid-term vote. Under the state’s new jungle primary law, the top two candidates in the June election advance to the general regardless of political party affiliation and percentages attained. Therefore, former US Commerce Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Ro Khanna’s intra-party Democratic challenge to seven-term Rep. Mike Honda will likely last the entire campaign cycle.

Khanna has already been extraordinarily successful on the fundraising circuit, attracting more than $1 million for the 2014 race, and exceeding $1.7 million cash-on-hand. In the 2012 cycle, Khanna was briefly in the 15th District race when he believed that 80 year-old then-incumbent Pete Stark (D) was going to retire. Upon Stark’s decision to run again, all Democratic contenders with the exception of Dublin City Councilman Eric Swalwell withdrew. Swalwell then successfully unseated Rep. Stark 52-48 percent in a Democrat-on-Democrat general election.

Before exiting the Stark campaign, Khanna raised over $1.26 million and had north of $1 million remaining in his campaign account, thus explaining the large early war chest for his Honda challenge. Conversely, Rep. Honda has not been as financially prolific in early 2013, obtaining over $567,000, but ending with less than $375,000 in the bank.

But a just-released Public Policy Polling survey for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (Aug. 2-4; 806 registered CA-17 voters) shows that Khanna has a long way to go if he is to upset this incumbent, as Honda leads the ballot test 49-15 percent. The result is similar to the previously released Lake Research poll (Feb. 17-20; 503 registered CA-17 voters), commissioned for the Honda campaign, that posted the congressman to a 57-13-5 percent  Continue reading >

Political Fun in the Sun: Murphy vs. Hasner

In House on August 29, 2013 at 10:13 am

The 18th Congressional District of Florida has, so far, lived up to its billing. Stretching through the central portion of the Sunshine State while hugging the Atlantic coast, CD-18 includes all or parts of St. Lucie, Martin, and Palm Beach Counties, and was drawn as a marginal political entity.

Last November, first-time candidate Patrick Murphy (D), a Jupiter attorney, upset nominal incumbent Allen West (R) by just over half a percentage point, or 1,904 votes of more than 330,000 cast ballots. Why categorize West as a “nominal incumbent”? Because redistricting drastically changed his 22nd District to the point where he chose to run in the new 18th, a seat that contained only about one-third of the constituency that originally elected him.

The 2012 eastern Florida political climate should have been sufficient for Rep. West to win, however, because Mitt Romney outpaced President Obama here by more than four percentage points, 51.7-47.6 percent. The closeness of the congressional race and Romney’s 18th CD performance gives the Republicans hope for a conversion in this next election under what should be a more GOP friendly mid-term turnout model.

Toward that end, the Republicans are apparently on the verge of getting the candidate who they believe can propel this challenger race into the top-tier. Though the numbers and political history suggest that the 2014 race will be close, the currently announced candidates have shown little, and Rep. Murphy is rated as the clear early favorite.

The presence of former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner (R), however, may quickly change the campaign’s status. Believed to be close to declaring his candidacy, Hasner is the strongest possible GOP candidate.

Originally in the 2012 Senate race, Hasner dropped down into a congressional race after redistricting was complete. Deferring to then-Rep. West for the 18th, Hasner took his chances in the heavily Democratic 22nd CD, facing former West Palm Beach mayor Lois Frankel (D). The race went to Frankel on a 55-45 percent count, virtually the same margin that President Obama scored in the district.

But Hasner’s firepower comes in his ability to attract campaign resources. Even in a losing effort, for a race few thought any Republican could win, the former state  Continue reading >

Two Reeling Governors: Maine, Illinois

In Governor, Polls on August 28, 2013 at 10:18 am

LePage-Quinn

A pair of recent political polls confirm that Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) and Illinois chief executive Pat Quinn (D) are in tenuous re-election position, meaning losing is a distinct possibility for each. Both face major tests from several opponents and, according to Public Policy Polling (ME) and We Ask America (IL), the challengers either today have, or likely could soon possess, the upper hand.

Maine

PPP surveyed the Maine electorate (Aug. 23-25; 953 registered Maine voters) and determined that recently announced gubernatorial candidate, Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME-2) is leading Gov. LePage 39-35 percent, with Independent attorney Eliot Cutler drawing 18 percent. Back in 2010, LePage defeated Cutler 38-36 percent, with Democrat Libby Mitchell only securing 19 percent of the vote. Since the governor has never topped 40 percent in any election or poll, the three-way configuration does give him hope of winning a second term. And, with a job approval index of 39:56 percent, being only four points behind in a survey conducted on the heels of his main opponent’s announcement tour certainly suggests the governor retains at least a rocky path to victory.

But, the news is not all favorable for Michaud. Considering that the congressman’s personal favorability index is a strong 53:30 percent, almost opposite that of LePage, it is surprising that his lead is only four points. Combining the elements of taking a poll just after his post-announcement tour, and brandishing a favorability rating that is net 40 points better than the incumbent’s suggests that Michaud still has much work to do if he is to unseat LePage. Additionally, as he did during the last election, Cutler is transforming into a viable wild-card candidate. Overcoming a 21-point deficit this early in the campaign cycle is a difficult, but not insurmountable task.
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The Montana Senate Waiting Game

In Senate on August 27, 2013 at 12:05 pm

In politics, timing is everything, and there’s great speculation as to just when Montana Rep. Steve Daines’ (R-AL) open Senate window might begin to close.

Over the weekend, retiring Sen. Max Baucus’ (D) former state director, John Lewis, announced the formation of a political campaign committee destined for what he believes will be an open US House seat. Lewis had been considered a potential Senate candidate, and still conceivably could become one should Rep. Daines decide to stay put.

So far, the freshman congressman has played this election cycle like a fiddle. Ignoring advice to announce immediately upon Sen. Baucus’ retirement plans becoming public this past April, Daines adroitly waited until former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) made his decision. It was presumed that Schweitzer would become the prohibitive favorite if he entered the race, so everyone held their cards in anticipation. In mid-July, when he chose not to seek the seat, all of the political focus turned to the state’s lone congressman, Daines.

Relatively soon after Schweitzer took himself out of the Senate competition, state auditor, Monica Lindeen, and superintendent of public instruction, Denise Juneau, both Democrats, also decided not to pursue the contest.

But, how much longer will prospective Senate candidates wait? Since the seat came open in April, only two people have announced their candidacies, neither of whom is expected to be a major contender. For the Democrats, only rancher Dirk Adams has declared. On the GOP side, state Sen. Matt Rosendale has taken the plunge.

Previously in the race, intending to challenge Sen. Baucus when it was believed he would seek re-election, are ex-state Senate Minority Leader Corey Stapleton and state Rep. Champ Edmunds. But, it is widely believe that all three announced Republicans will move to the House race if Daines reaches for the Senate.

The Lewis move suggests that things are beginning to happen, and that the time others are yielding to Daines could soon come to an end.

Understandably, Rep. Daines wants to be politically careful. Elected for the first time last November with a strong 53-43 percent margin when the other statewide   Continue reading >

The Tancredo Rebound

In Governor, Polls on August 26, 2013 at 9:39 am
Tom Tancredo

Tom Tancredo

Earlier this year when former congressman and Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo announced that he would challenge Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) in 2014, few expected much of a contest. After all, Hickenlooper, a popular Denver mayor back in 2010, won the governorship with ease even in a Republican landslide year (51-36 percent over Tancredo who ran on the American Constitution Party ballot line). But Quinnipiac University, now for the second time in the last three months, forecasts a race that is surprisingly close.

According to the new Q-Poll (Aug. 15-21; 1,184 registered Colorado voters) Gov. Hickenlooper leads Tancredo only 46-45 percent, an almost identical result to what they found in their June survey (42-41 percent, Hickenlooper over Tancredo). Furthermore, the governor is upside-down with respect to the respondents’ opinion about whether he deserves re-election. Forty-five percent of those sampled believe he should win a second term; 48 percent do not.

Several things are occurring here. First, clearly Hickenlooper’s personal popularity is suffering, to which his job approval rating of 48:44 percent positive to negative attests. Second, a relatively severe gender gap exists. Women give the governor positive reviews, but men view him in the exact opposite context. Third, Hickenlooper holds decidedly unfavorable ratings, and overwhelmingly so from men, regarding his highly publicized actions pertaining to the death penalty and gun control.

Women support the governor over Tancredo by a 53-37 percent margin, but the male preference is much different. The latter group backs the Republican challenger in double-digits, 53-39 percent. In terms of personal approval, females have a positive opinion of the governor (54:35 percent), but men disapprove of him (44:50 percent).
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Filner Resignation Affects House Race

In Mayor on August 23, 2013 at 10:21 am

It appears that the San Diego City Council and scandal-ridden Mayor Bob Filner have reached a tentative resignation agreement, but the ensuing mayoral replacement process will probably adversely affect Republican chances of unseating freshman Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA-52).

Apparently Filner’s lawyers have prepared a document that outlines their client’s departure terms. The council is dealing with the situation in closed session, so the public is not yet privy to what’s contained in the settlement. Attorney Gloria Allred, representing one of the women that the mayor and former congressman allegedly sexually harassed, is saying that the proposal includes a provision for the city to pay Filner’s legal fees. Allred is voicing opposition to such an arrangement and it is likely that she won’t be the only one to object. Therefore, the end of the Filner tenure may not be as close as media reports suggest.

Regardless of when the mayor leaves office, a special election will be conducted for voters to choose a replacement. The legal calendar dictates that the special primary be scheduled within 90 days of the vacancy occurring, followed by a run-off contest between the top two finishers within an additional 49 days if no candidate receives an outright majority in the first election.

Former city councilman Carl DeMaio (R) lost a close 52-48 percent election to Filner last November, after placing first in the primary election. Upon absorbing the loss, DeMaio began taking steps to challenge freshman Rep. Peters, citing 2012 precinct vote totals. The figures prove that he out-polled Filner by 12 percentage points in CD-52’s overlapping city portion. The district area outside the city is even more Republican, so to argue that DeMaio, or any other Republican candidate, would do better outside San Diego than inside is reasonable.

The budding congressional race was developing into a major campaign and one of the best Republican conversion opportunities in the country. Both candidates reported robust fundraising in late June – Peters more than $621,000 raised with $525,890 cash-on-hand; DeMaio an impressive $487,983 raised with $469,644 in the bank – while two early polls staked the challenger to a sizable lead. The Tarrance Group, for Mr. DeMaio back in April, posted their client to a 49-39 percent advantage over the new incumbent. In June, Survey USA confirmed the spread, reporting  Continue reading >

Analyzing the Numbers in Virginia Governor’s Race

In Governor on August 22, 2013 at 10:43 am

cuccinelli-mccauliffe

Yesterday, Quinnipiac University released their new Virginia poll (Aug. 14-19; 1,129 likely Virginia voters), which projects former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe to be leading Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) 48-42 percent on the ballot test. This poll actually shows an increase in support for both candidates over their two previous Old Dominion surveys. In July, the Q-Poll gave McAuliffe a 43-39 percent edge, and the May study returned an almost identical 43-38 percent result.

Though the spread between the current numbers is the largest of the campaign according to this pollster, the number of self-identified Republicans (23 percent) and Democrats (30 percent) are the lowest to date. Those describing themselves as Independents or unaffiliated topped 39 percent, the largest number in comparison to the previous surveys.

Curiously, though Cuccinelli has a two point (44-42 percent) preference among Independents, he’s still trailing. He scores a 90-6 percent tally from Republicans, but gets buried 1-92 percent within the Democrat segment.

The Negatives

The way this campaign is going, with both candidates heading toward negative approval ratings – in this survey, Cuccinelli scored a 35:41 percent positive to negative on the personal approval index; McAuliffe 34:33 percent – it is likely that the overall turnout will be depressed. Large numbers of voters expressing continued disapproval of their political choices tend to lead to low turnouts on Election Day. Considering this is an odd-numbered election, which always features a low voter participation rate, 2013 could see one of the lowest-ever turnouts if the current campaign tone continues. As the heat of the contest grows more intense, the tone will likely worsen and not lighten.

Polling this race is difficult because the potentially record low turnout will be a critical determining factor. Virginia Republicans tend to run better in lower  Continue reading >

Louisiana Data Conflict; Kasich Down in Ohio

In Governor, Polls, Senate on August 21, 2013 at 11:10 am

Two days ago, a pair of polls were released into the public domain projecting that Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6) is faring well against Sen. Mary Landrieu (D). Yesterday, Public Policy Polling publicized a counter-study showing the senator to be in much better political shape, thus calling the Republican data into question. Why the stark difference? We’ll explain shortly.

The two Republican polls were conducted by OnMessage for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and Harper Polling for a conservative website. The OnMessage data (Aug. 12-15; 800 registered Louisiana voters) gave Sen. Landrieu only a 45-41 percent advantage over Rep. Cassidy. HP (Aug. 14-15; 596 registered Louisiana voters) found even better results for the Baton Rouge congressman, actually placing him ahead of the incumbent on a 47-45 percent count.

The PPP data (Aug. 16-19; 721 registered Louisiana voters) forecasts quite a different take. According to these results, Sen. Landrieu has a comfortable lead over Rep. Cassidy, 50-40 percent, when the two are paired in a hypothetical post-primary December 2014 run-off election.

Seeing Democratic and Republican pollsters surveying the same race at the same time but arriving at drastically different conclusions happened relatively frequently during the last election cycle. Particularly in the presidential campaign, we often saw the Republican data placing GOP nominee Mitt Romney in much better position against President Obama than was actually the case.

The chief reason for the past projection disparity was the turnout screening mechanism used in qualifying those who constituted the various sampling universes, and such is undoubtedly the case with these conflicting Louisiana numbers.

In the presidential year, the Democratic pollsters were much closer to accurately forecasting the participation model in what will prove to be the higher turnout year of 2012. Now heading into the mid-term cycle, where voting participation is always lower than in presidential elections, it may be the GOP numbers that yield the more accurate prediction.

As we know, who turns out always determines an election winner, and no one suggests that election year 2014 will be any exception to that rule. Defining the most  Continue reading >

Louisiana Polling

In House, Senate on August 20, 2013 at 10:58 am

louisiana

Several polls were just conducted about upcoming Louisiana campaigns, specifically the Senate challenge to incumbent Mary Landrieu (D) and the new House special election for resigning Rep. Rodney Alexander’s (R-LA-5) seat.

Senate

Two pollsters went into the field to test Sen. Landrieu and Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6). OnMessage, conducting an internal poll for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (Aug. 12-15; 800 registered Louisiana voters), found the senator to be leading the congressman by just a 45-41 percent count.

Party loyalty is strong for both candidates. Sen. Landrieu captures 77 percent of the Democratic vote, while Rep. Cassidy seizes 72 percent of the Republicans. In what could be a looming problem for Landrieu, Independents already break 41-37 percent in favor of Cassidy.

The one issue tested, reaction to the Obamacare mandatory health insurance program, was viewed very negatively. Of those sampled, 33 percent favor the program while a whopping 62 percent expressed opposition to the concept; and 53 percent of the 62 percent described their negative impressions as “strong.”

Meanwhile Harper Polling, during the same time frame (Aug. 14-15; 596 registered Louisiana voters) reports even better numbers for Republican Cassidy. According to HP, the Baton Rouge congressman enjoys a 47-45 percent advantage over the senator.

Two lesser known Republican candidates also poll well. Sen. Landrieu surprisingly only ties state Sen. Elbert Guillory (R), with each individual registering 44 percent preference of those polled. Retired Air Force officer Rob Maness (R) does not fare as well. In this pairing, Sen. Landrieu posts a 47-41  Continue reading >

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