Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Archive for February, 2015|Monthly archive page

Strickland Announces in Ohio; Chances? Walker Cruising

In Polling, Presidential campaign, Senate on February 27, 2015 at 12:21 pm

Seventy-three year old former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland’s (D) announcement that he will challenge first-term Sen. Rob Portman (R) was expected yet still surprising.

Clearly the defeated former governor is attempting to take advantage of what he believes will be a 2016 Democratic presidential victory not only nationally, but in Ohio as well. Such a finish could reasonably sweep in a Democratic Senate candidate on presidential coattails, of this we know.

While the former governor has six terms in Congress to his credit and another four years as the state’s chief executive, he is no stranger to losing. In fact, he lost four House races in addition to his re-election as governor. Strickland won for the first time on his fourth try for Congress, some 16 years after he originally ran.

Defeating Sen. Portman will be no small feat. As we know, aside from serving one term in the Senate, Portman won seven U.S. House races, exceeding 72 percent of the vote each time. In his 2010 US Senate victory, he racked up over 57 percent against the sitting Democratic lieutenant governor in a state that traditionally features close elections … and won all but six counties.

Having Strickland in the race arguably gives the Democrats their best possible candidate. He Continue reading >

Senate ’16 Taking Shape

In Senate on February 26, 2015 at 1:23 pm

With several political moves being made this week and last, some of the key 2016 US Senate races are already coming together. Below is a quick recap of the states where action is presently occurring:

Alaska – Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R): Democrats’ first choice is former Sen. Mark Begich (D). Bypassing a race to reclaim his former position as mayor of Anchorage, Begich has instead formed a new consulting firm. He has not yet ruled out a run against Sen. Murkowski, so this potential challenge remains alive.

Arizona – Sen. John McCain (R): A budding Republican primary challenge for the 2008 GOP presidential nominee seems assured. Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ-5) may be the strongest potential Republican challenger, and is moving toward running. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ-9) is a possible Democratic contender, more likely to run if Salmon progresses with his intra-party challenge.

California – Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) retiring: This open seat gives Republicans little hope for conversion. Attorney General Kamala Harris begins as the favored Democrat, but an intra-party general election is possible under California law. Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) now will not run, but representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA-28), Xavier Becerra (D-CA-34), and Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-46) are all potential candidates, along with several others.
Continue reading >

Cruz, Walker Up in Texas; Bush, Perry Still Lagging

In Presidential campaign on February 25, 2015 at 10:47 am

The University of Texas and the Texas Tribune news publication teamed to release a poll of potential Republican 2016 primary voters (YouGov; Feb. 6-15; 1,200 Texas adults; 547 sampled-matched Republican primary voters) and found home state Sen. Ted Cruz and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker leading the pack by a relatively substantial margin.

Falling back into single digits were former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Texas’ longest-serving governor, Rick Perry. Thus, we see one more political survey attesting to Gov. Walker’s strength and ex-Gov. Bush’s early weakness.

The UT/Tribune polls have previously not been particularly reliable, but in this instance they teamed up with the international survey research company, YouGov, which has generally produced credible results around the world. This poll, however, appears to have its flaws.

The 10-day information-gathering period is long, the questionnaire was administered through the Internet — a common YouGov practice — and, the sampling universe was not screened for registered voters, but instead the individuals were sample-matched from previous voter and demographic data to cast the Republican sample cell. The pollsters themselves suggest the polling margin of error is greater than 4.1 points, but it realistically could be even higher.

Though the poll’s conclusions can be contested, Continue reading >

Feingold Returning to Wisconsin Senate Race? Special Set in the NY-11

In House, Senate on February 24, 2015 at 10:58 am

FEB. 24 – Likely signaling a return to elective politics former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) late last week officially resigned his US State Department position, a necessary step for anyone planning to announce a political candidacy. It has long been surmised that Feingold would seek a rematch with the man who unseated him in 2010, first-term Sen. Ron Johnson (R).

Feingold was originally elected to the Senate in the Clinton presidential year of 1992, after spending 10 years in the Wisconsin state legislature. He defeated then two-term incumbent Sen. Bob Kasten (R) with a 53-46 percent victory margin. Six years later he faced then-Rep. Mark Neumann (R-WI-1) in what proved to be a much closer race than originally predicted. Feingold scored a close win over Neumann, 51-48 percent. He won a much easier 55-44 percent victory in 2004 before losing 47-52 percent to Johnson in the Republican wave year of 2010. President Obama then appointed him as a special US envoy to the African Great Lakes region.

Sen. Johnson has been commonly viewed as one of the more vulnerable Republicans standing for re-election in 2016. Wisconsin is a volatile political state, but historically has voted Democratic. Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) three consecutive wins and Johnson’s victory five years ago, however, suggest that the state is becoming highly competitive. In fact, since 2010, inclusive, Republicans have actually won four of the six Wisconsin statewide federal races. So, Feingold cannot expect an easy road back to the Senate.
Continue reading >

Blunt Draws a Challenge in Missouri; Dems’ Recruit Senate Challengers

In Senate on February 23, 2015 at 5:48 pm

jason-kander

Missouri Democrats successfully landed their top choice to challenge first-term Republican Sen. Roy Blunt. Secretary of State Jason Kander (above), an Afghanistan and Iraq War veteran, made public yesterday his plans to seek the US Senate seat next year.

Kander, 33, a former two-term state Representative from the Kansas City metropolitan area, won a close 2012 race for Secretary of State – ironically, a position Blunt himself held from 1985-1993 – defeating Republican Shane Schoeller by just over 39,000 votes out of more than 2.6 million ballots cast.

He will face an uphill battle against Sen. Blunt, one of the best prepared and battle tested of Republican incumbents. Winning a landslide Continue reading >

Marist Poll Shows a Bunched GOP Pack

In Polling, Presidential campaign on February 17, 2015 at 10:37 am

NBC/Marist conducted a series of polls in the first three presidential nominating states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina finding a host of Republican candidates all jumbled near the top in each place.

The surveys were commissioned during the Feb. 3-10 period. In Iowa, 320 potential Republican caucus goers were sampled; the number was 381 in New Hampshire and 450 for South Carolina. Democrats also were polled but their results did not provide any new or particularly significant information.

In none of the polls did any Republican candidate exceed 20 percent of the intra-party vote. Furthermore, no less than three and not more than five individuals found double-digits in the trio of surveys. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee led Iowa with only 17 percent. Jeb Bush finished first in New Hampshire at 18 percent, while South Carolina favorite son Lindsey Graham, the state’s senior US senator, topped the Marist result in his home territory with a similar 17 percent standing.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and neurosurgeon Ben Carson were the other candidates to reach the double-digit plateau in at least one state. All 11 tested candidates fell within 18 percentage points from top to bottom in the three studies.
Continue reading >

Kitzhaber Resigns in Oregon; NRCC Announces Patriots

In Election Analysis on February 16, 2015 at 6:09 pm

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber (D), seeing his conflict of interest scandal involving his longtime fiancé cost him key political support, announced that he will resign his office this Wednesday. Because Oregon has no lieutenant governor, Secretary of State Kate Brown (D) will replace the four-term chief executive. Dr. Kitzhaber, a physician, is the only person in Oregon state history to be elected to the top office four separate times.

Though not legally married to the governor, Cylvia Hayes serves as Oregon’s First Lady. Her failure to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting fees from environmental organizations with business before the state, after Kitzhaber promised complete compliance with the Oregon disclosure laws for he and Ms. Hayes, began his downfall. Gov. Kitzhaber won re-election last November even after his conflict of interest with Hayes became common knowledge. But, the situation re-intensified during the past three weeks.

Once leading newspapers in the state, such as the Portland Oregonian, called upon the governor to resign last week, and Republicans began initiating a recall effort, prominent Democratic legislative leaders followed suit in calling for the governor to step down. Kitzhaber was reportedly going to resign in the middle of last week, but changed his mind. He will now do so for sure on Wednesday Continue reading >

The Frontline Candidates

In House on February 13, 2015 at 11:00 am

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) released its first group of Frontline program incumbents for the 2016 election cycle. These 14 representatives are viewed to be the most vulnerable of Democratic House incumbents, and a group that the DCCC is highlighting for increased outside support.

Some are more endangered than others, in addition to a group of four who is at least entertaining the idea of running statewide next year. Not having an incumbent in these marginal districts may be the Committee leadership’s greatest fear.

Clearly Competitive (in vulnerability order)

NE-2: Rep. Brad Ashford is likely the most endangered Democratic incumbent. The new congressman unseated eight-term Rep. Lee Terry (R-Omaha) in a vote that may have been more about the previous incumbent’s unpopularity than Ashford. The 2016 race, in a year when the district should vote Republican at the presidential level, could be more difficult for Ashford than his original election.

FL-2: Freshman Rep. Gwen Graham ran a strong campaign against a weak Republican incumbent. She will undoubtedly draw strong opposition, and the district will almost assuredly go Republican for president. The national trends at the time of the next election will play heavily upon how this congressional race unfolds.
Continue reading >

Republicans: Headed for an Open Convention?

In Polling, Presidential campaign on February 12, 2015 at 12:32 pm

A new poll provides us an early clue about how spoiler candidates could force the Republican nomination into an open convention.

TargetPoint Consulting (Jan. 30-Feb. 3; 400 SC Republican primary voters) finds Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker leading the GOP pack of candidates in a preliminary poll, finishing one point ahead of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) in their new survey of South Carolina Republican primary voters. Both just barely top the double-digit mark (Walker 12 percent; Graham 11 percent), but still fare better than the other candidates including ex-Gov. Mike Huckabee (10 percent), who finished second in the 2008 South Carolina primary, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (9 percent).

Though the difference among the candidates is negligible, the fact that Bush cannot break away from single-digits is significant. A recent Iowa poll (Selzer & Company for the Des Moines Register) also projected Gov. Walker leading with Bush similarly mired in the middle of the pack. These poll results provide further evidence that the Republican nomination battle is wide open.

Sen. Graham has been publicly toying with the idea of entering the presidential race and promises a decision by the middle of this year. Aside from this poll of his home state electorate, he hasn’t even registered in surveys conducted in other Continue reading >

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