Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Archive for January, 2015|Monthly archive page

Anti-McCain Strategy Builds in Arizona

In Election Analysis on January 30, 2015 at 10:55 am

Sen. John McCain, first elected in 1986 after spending four years in the House and then rising to the peak of political party politics by winning the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, is likely headed for a competitive re-election next year. And, his strongest opponent may not even be a Democrat.

This week, Representatives Matt Salmon (R-AZ-5) and David Schweikert (R-AZ-6) held a meeting; one that could prove to be of great importance fast forwarding to their state’s August 2016 Republican primary. Both members have said publicly that they are considering launching an intra-party challenge to Sen. McCain.

The session apparently produced at least one major point of agreement. That is, both will not enter the race. They correctly reason that two congressmen jumping into the contest will guarantee McCain victory. This is particularly true in a plurality nomination state like Arizona, because the anti-incumbent vote will be split several ways, allowing the target to win with a mere base vote sometimes far under the 50 percent threshold. The pair has not yet agreed upon which man will run, only that it will be one.

The history of right-of-center challenges to more establishment political figures suggests a narrow path to victory, but part of the long odds calculation is that the conservative activists rarely coalesce to form a cohesive election strategy.
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Democrats Reeling in NY

In House on January 29, 2015 at 12:10 pm

NY-11

Things continue to go badly for Democrats in the upcoming special election to replace resigned Staten Island/Brooklyn Rep. Michael Grimm (R).

Though Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) still has yet to schedule the election date, it is clear that Richmond County District Attorney Dan Donovan will be the eventual Republican nominee in this New York congressional district. The latest developments suggest he is now becoming a prohibitive favorite to win the seat, too.

Staten Island Assemblyman Michael Cusick was commonly viewed as the likely Democratic nominee. With polling showing him already 20 points behind Donovan, Cusick announced that he will not run for Congress after all. This leaves the Democrats with second-tier choices.

Coming into view is New York City Councilman Vincent Gentile, who is reportedly seriously looking at the race. But, Gentile is part of a continued losing Democratic formula in this district.

The 11th CD, formerly numbered 13, captures all of Staten Island and part of Brooklyn. The Staten Island portion represents two-thirds of the district’s population, and therefore candidates hailing from there have the upper hand. Previous Brooklyn Democratic candidates such as 2014 nominee Domenic Recchia, a former NYC councilman, fared poorly in general elections … Continue reading >

Walker’s First Ad Inaugurates 2016 Presidential Campaign Season

In Governor, Presidential campaign, Video on January 29, 2015 at 10:07 am

Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker (R) appears to be the first unofficial national candidate to release a video promoting what looks to be the underpinnings of a 2016 presidential campaign; and, the piece is not your typical soft bio ad.

Gov. Walker’s affiliated “Our American Revival” political organization is promoting a two-minute film that challenges President Obama and presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The attack message also appears to include the Republican congressional leadership when railing Continue reading >

The GOP’s Precarious Dependent Senate

In Senate on January 28, 2015 at 11:09 am

It appears continuing the new-found Senate majority could well turn on the 2016 presidential election, and that puts Republicans in a precarious position.

When the GOP captured the Senate in 2014, much was made that their fledgling majority could be short-lived. Seeing that 24 of the 34 in-cycle 2016 seats are Republican-held means that Democrats need a minimum net conversion of only four states to re-claim control. That is, if the Ds – presumably in the person of former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton – hold the White House upon President Obama’s exit. Otherwise, they would need to gain five.

In looking at the Senate players for the coming campaign we see not only a Republican Party forced to protect two dozen seats, but 10of those 24 can already be considered as highly competitive complete with a pair (IL-Kirk; WI-Johnson) in the toss-up category.

Of the vulnerable 10 states, seven (Arizona-McCain; Florida-Rubio, New Hampshire-Ayotte, North Carolina-Burr, Ohio-Portman, Pennsylvania-Toomey and Wisconsin-Johnson) are high-level presidential campaign targets. Likely putting the Republicans in even greater peril for the next election, President Obama twice Continue reading >

And Now, Florida …

In Senate on January 27, 2015 at 12:27 pm

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is now promising a final decision about his presidential aspirations in only a matter of weeks. Currently, his political moves suggest that he is moving toward a national run.

With Rubio repeatedly saying he will not run for two offices simultaneously, an open Florida Senate seat would build even more intrigue into the 2016 election cycle. Sensing this, budding Senate candidates are beginning to float their names as his possible statewide successor.

As in California and Illinois, where a large number of federal, state, and local politicians are testing the waters for individual Senate runs, yesterday’s Sunshine State musings from several political figures are indicative that Florida may soon see a similar parade of office holders positioning themselves for an open US Senate campaign.

Sen. Rubio, himself, began the debate by saying in an interview, when asked who might be lining up to succeed him if he were to run for president, that Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and former House Speaker Will Weatherford would be two potential Republican candidates.

Yesterday, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL-9) indicated that he would seriously consider seeking the Democratic senatorial nomination. Most often mentioned as potential senatorial candidates are Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz Continue reading >

Is Illinois Another California?

In Senate on January 26, 2015 at 3:30 pm

Much of the early Senate political coverage has been devoted to the open California Senate race, but now the Illinois contest is about to make an equivalent amount of news.

For several weeks, speculation, not denied by her staff, that Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8) is seriously considering challenging Sen. Mark Kirk (R) came true last week when the congresswoman herself confirmed the sentiment. She had recently given birth towards the end of 2014 and had previously not been granting interviews.

Sen. Kirk, representing a highly Democratic state after his tight 48-46 percent win over then-state treasurer Alexi Giannoulius (D) in the Republican landslide year of 2010, later suffered a serious stroke that put him on a long road to recovery. The presidential year turnout model in a reliably Democratic state against a weakened Republican incumbent sets this race as the party’s best 2016 conversion opportunity in the nation.

Duckworth is the first female double-amputee of the Iraq War. She sustained severe injuries to both legs when an enemy rocket struck the helicopter she was co-piloting. After a long recuperation, she decided to embark on a career in public service. She challenged Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL-6) in a marginal district in the heavily Democratic year of 2006. Backed as one of the strongest Democratic challengers in the nation that year, she still fell short, losing 51-48 percent.
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Louisiana Polling

In Governor, Polling, Senate on January 23, 2015 at 12:38 pm

Louisiana Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy, a former Democrat and US Senate candidate, hired the North Star Opinion Research firm to help guide his political ambitions. Kennedy is reportedly considering running for governor or attorney general in 2015. His name is also mentioned in conjunction with the 2016 US Senate contest.

The North Star survey research (Jan. 10-13; 600 registered Louisiana voters) tested Kennedy within a field of candidates first for governor, and then for attorney general as well as for US Senate.

Currently, with Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) ineligible to seek a third term later this year, Sen. David Vitter (R) has jumped into the off-year gubernatorial race. Also considering running are Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, State Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, and Kennedy. State Rep. John Bel Edwards is the lone Democrat to express interest in running. Should Kennedy decide on the attorney general’s race, that impending field so far consists of incumbent Buddy Caldwell (R), who is politically weak, and former Rep. Jeff Landry (R-LA-3). Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy is the one Democrat tested.

The 2016 US Senate picture will largely be dictated by what happens in the governor’s race. Should Sen. Vitter win, and he’s the early favorite, an individual will be appointed to fill the unexpired Continue reading >

DCCC SHOCK POLL: NY-11

In House, Polling on January 22, 2015 at 11:52 am

Why is the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) releasing a poll that underscores their already weakened situation in the upcoming NY-11 special election? It’s unusual when a major party campaign committee allows a poll unfavorable to one of their candidates to reach the public domain, but that’s exactly what the DCCC has done.

Could it be to lower expectations in what, on paper, should be a competitive special election but doesn’t seem so at this particular time? Quite possibly.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has yet to schedule the special election, but it will likely be at the end of March. This is consistent with the allowable time frame under New York election law, based upon the time of the office formally becoming vacant.

The Global Strategy Group (GSG), polling for the DCCC, (Jan. 16-18; 404 registered NY-11 voters) just completed an exhaustive survey in the Staten Island/Brooklyn congressional district and their findings play very well for all-but-official Republican nominee Dan Donovan, the Richmond County district attorney.

According to the results, Donovan is off to a commanding 48-28 percent (including “leaners” for both candidates) advantage over state Assemblyman Michael Cusick, the man who most believe will win the Democratic nomination. This result is even stronger when understanding that Republicans hold only a 43-42 percent edge in Continue reading >

New Senate Polling Begins

In Polling, Senate on January 21, 2015 at 10:06 am

Pennsylvania Senate

Last year, a record number of publicly released polls led us to tracking what proved to be an extraordinary set of US Senate races. For the 2016 election cycle, we can expect more of the same.

Public Policy Polling commences the off-year campaign with a survey from what promises to be one of the more competitive of the in-cycle US Senate states, Pennsylvania. Here, first-term Republican Sen. Pat Toomey begins a drive for re-election before a presidential year electorate that normally backs a Democratic candidate in the national vote. Sure to be a top presidential campaign target state, Pennsylvania voters can expect to witness an onslaught of political communication about both the presidential campaign and their important US Senate contest.

Though viewed as a swing entity, the Keystone State has voted Democratic in the presidential race consecutively since 1992, inclusive. But, during that same period, Pennsylvanians have elected and/or re-elected three Republican US senators and two GOP governors.

According to this new PPP survey (Jan. 15-18; 1,042 registered Pennsylvania voters) Sen. Toomey registers tepid numbers, relatively commonplace at this point in time for a senator who belongs to the state’s minority party. And, as typical for a Public Policy Polling survey, almost every political figure tests with a negative favorability image.

While President Obama’s job approval is a poor 42:51 percent in a state where he received 52 and 54 percent in 2012 and 2008, respectively, Sen. Toomey registers a 28:35 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio. Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D), who doesn’t again face the voters until 2018, does much better at 41:33 percent. The only other political figure to score a positive rating is former Gov. Ed Rendell (D), and he can only muster a 43:42 percent score.

Also typical of a PPP poll, is the testing of many well known politicians who will not be candidates in this particular Senate race. Among the six scenarios polled, only former Gov. Rendell, surely a non-candidate, out-polls Sen. Toomey. According to the results, Rendell would lead the incumbent, 44-41 percent. Against all others, the senator leads by margins of four to eight percentage points, but never breaks the 43 percent support level.

The one pairing that matters most, however, is with the only announced 2016 senatorial candidate, and the man who Toomey beat 51-49 percent in 2010, former US Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA-7). Here, Toomey has a 40-36 percent advantage.

Sestak, a former Navy Admiral who was a member of President Clinton’s National Security Council, served two terms in the House from a Philadelphia suburban district after unseating 20-year veteran Rep. Curt Weldon (R) in 2006. Sestak was re-elected in 2008, and then ran for Senate two years later. Already announcing his statewide candidacy last year, Sestak has raised $1.6 million for the race through last September, with $1.28 million on hand. By contrast, Sen. Toomey had more than $5 million in the bank during the same time frame.

The Pennsylvania race promises to be one of the most polled during the 2016 election cycle. The fact that an incumbent senator registers numbers only in the low 40s under all scenarios is not necessarily a harbinger of a poor re-election performance, but it clearly indicates Sen. Toomey’s support must grow. In the last cycle, Sens. Mark Begich (D-AK), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Mark Udall (D-CO), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Kay Hagan (D-NC) each found themselves mired in the low 40s for more than a year, and all lost. It remains to be seen if a similar pattern ensnares Sen. Toomey, or whether he expands his appeal.

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