Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Archive for the ‘Senate’ Category

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.

An Odd Poll Leaves Some Clues

In Election Analysis, Senate on January 16, 2015 at 12:34 pm

California Senate
 
The open California Senate race has dominated recent political news coverage, and yesterday a rather strange event unfolded.  It has now come to light that Public Policy Polling surveyed the California electorate at the end of the year (Dec. 29-30, 869 registered California voters) testing what appeared to be a potentially open Senate race, but is just now releasing the data as reported in The Hill newspaper.  
 
Though it is interesting to see how the candidates stack up in the early going, the tested field isn’t particularly representative of the individuals who now appear ready to jump into the race.  Hence, eyebrows are raised as to why PPP would come forth with data now when several key components are obsolete.
 
Already, Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) has announced her Senate candidacy and she is included in the survey, but former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who appeared to be moving toward a run, is not.  The latter exclusion is not particularly surprising because, at the time this poll was conducted, Villaraigosa was talking about running for governor in 2018 and not for the Senate in two years.  

Additionally, the current Los Angeles mayor, Eric Garcetti (D), is tested but he formally pulled himself away from further consideration for the statewide office.  In the second questionnaire, Garcetti is then Continue reading >

The Candidates Start Lining Up

In Election Analysis, Governor, House, Senate on January 14, 2015 at 12:56 pm

It’s already been a busy political new year. Two days ago we witnessed several potential candidates for various offices around the country quickly quelling speculation about their specific individual political plans. Yesterday, we see the opposite as several potential candidates confirmed they will seek different positions.

California Senate

The daily open Golden State Senate report includes an announcement from Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) that she will run for retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer’s (D) office. The development was expected after Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom made public his intention to remain in his current job, and then attempt to succeed incumbent Jerry Brown (D) when the latter is ineligible to seek another term in 2018.

But, the Harris decision to enter the Senate race is apparently not dissuading other contenders. Both former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-46) immediately issued separate statements reaffirming that they are both individually “seriously considering” becoming Senatorial candidates. Twenty-two Democrats and twelve Republicans confirm publicly that they have not yet ruled out running for the California Senate seat, the first such open contest in 24 years.
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Candidates Who Choose Not to Run …

In Governor, Presidential campaign, Senate on January 13, 2015 at 10:22 am

Several prospective candidates for various offices made official yesterday their plans not to seek another position.  
 
President
 
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI-1), the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, confirmed that he will not run for president in 2016.  Always mentioned as a potential candidate, Ryan was not making the preliminary campaign moves one who is serious about running for president would typically execute.  He showed no overt signs of building a national political and financial operation necessary to becoming a major political party’s presidential nominee.
 
Now ensconced as chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, Rep. Ryan says he will devote his attention and political acumen toward that particular job.
 
In another report, speculation is changing around Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) presidential plans.  Now a train of thought suggests that Sen. Rubio will run for re-election instead of the presidency, and then possibly take a shot at the open governor’s office in 2018.  Then, as a sitting public chief executive from arguably the most important state on the Republican map, Rubio would have the option of running for President in 2020 or 2024, depending upon whether a Democrat or Republican wins in 2016.
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What Boxer’s Retirement Means; An “SEC” Primary?

In Primary, Senate on January 9, 2015 at 10:57 am

At the end of 2014, California Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) provided strong hints that she would not seek a fifth term in 2016. Yesterday, she made that decision official. In a video hosted by her grandson, Sen. Boxer announced that she will not be a candidate for the Senate next year, thus ending what will be a 34-year-career in Congress.

The succeeding election now marks the first time since Boxer originally won in 1992 that California will host an open US Senate campaign. A plethora of Democrats are expected to enter the statewide fray. The most interesting dynamic will be the interplay between political allies Gavin Newsom, the state’s lieutenant governor, and California Attorney General Kamala Harris. It would be surprising to see the two close colleagues challenge each other, but stranger things have happened in politics. It is also possible that neither will run. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is apparently not giving serious consideration to the Senate race. One potential major contender who is seriously looking at becoming a candidate is former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Another mayor drawing attention is Sacramento’s Kevin Johnson, a former NBA professional basketball player.
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Conversion Opportunities Lie Ahead for Senate Democrats; McSally Wins – Officially

In Senate on December 18, 2014 at 10:48 am

As 2014 closes, we’re taking a quick look ahead at the 34 in-cycle US Senate seats for 2016. The tables have turned in that it is the Democrats who will have to convert Republican seats in order to recapture their lost majority. With Republicans having to defend 24 of the 34 Senate states, the Democrats will have plenty of conversion opportunities. They will need to win all 10 of the seats they currently hold and convert five Republican seats to reach 51 senators. Should the Democrats hold the White House in the presidential election, the Senate conversion number will drop to four because the Democratic vice president will then be able to break a 50-50 deadlock.

Of the senators who preliminarily say they will seek re-election, four (senators Richard Shelby (AL), John McCain (AZ), Charles Grassley (IA) and Barbara Mikulski (MD), will be 80 years old or older at the time of the next election. Another six will be 70 or older.

Right now, several seats are projected to be competitive, and both Democrats and Republicans are eying individuals they would characterize as dream challengers.

For Democrats, the two most competitive incumbent protection contests will be Nevada and Colorado. New Senate Minority Continue reading >

New North Carolina Numbers … Already

In Governor, Senate on December 11, 2014 at 10:57 am

The calendar is obviously not stopping Public Policy Polling from examining the impending 2016 campaign. In the company’s home state of North Carolina, an electorate they survey monthly, both Sen. Richard Burr (R) and Gov. Pat McCrory (R) are scheduled to stand for re-election.

In polling the state, PPP looked at defeated Sen. Kay Hagan as the Democrats’ most prominent 2016 candidate, at least for the Senate seat. The outgoing senator has not yet commented about what her future political plans may include, but her presence on a hypothetical ballot is a good indicator against which to measure Burr’s political strength.

For governor, the top Democrat appears to be four-term Attorney General Roy Cooper. Previously mentioned as a possible candidate for other statewide positions, Cooper has stayed put for what will be 16 years, racking up strong re-election percentages while doing so. At the present time he appears to be preparing for a gubernatorial run.

PPP’s Dec. 4-7 survey (823 registered North Carolina voters) finds Sen. Burr leading Hagan 46-43 percent. He scores identical 44-38 percent marks when paired with state Treasurer Janet Cowell (D) and current US Transportation Secretary and former Charlotte mayor, Anthony Foxx (D). Neither of the latter individuals has given any indication that they are considering launching a senatorial campaign challenge, however.
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Inconsistent Turnout/Voting Patterns

In House, Senate on December 10, 2014 at 11:15 am

As more and more election data makes its way into the public domain, the less sense some key voting patterns seem to be making.

Last week we reported on the turnout patterns for all 50 states and made the observation that voter participation dropped in 35 states when comparing the 2014 mid-term election to the 2010 mid-term. At the time, 2010 was considered to have yielded a low voter model, even in a mid-term election context.

The main conclusion being drawn from the aggregate data is that we may be returning to a similar electoral pattern that we saw in the pre-Reagan era, where Republicans did well in low turnout elections and Democrats excelled when voter participation was higher. This pattern has clearly taken hold since 2006. But, we find more to the 2014 turnout model when looking beyond a cursory overview.

Senate

As we know, the Senate races dominated the political landscape in this past election and saw Republicans gain nine seats to create a new 54R-46D majority (counting the two Independents who caucus with the Democrats). One would figure that, when overlaying the aforementioned observation, the GOP victories came because turnout dropped lower than even four years ago. In fact, the exact opposite is true.
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What Boxer’s Retirement Would Mean

In Senate on December 9, 2014 at 12:09 pm

News reports are circulating that Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) will soon announce she will not seek re-election in 2016. Boxer will turn 76 years old just days after the 2016 election. She has halted fundraising, is not hiring a campaign staff, and, now that she’s in the minority without a committee chairmanship, it appears that these aforementioned signs clearly suggest she will complete her legislative career at the end of the current term.

This means a great deal of California political action is likely to soon come our way. The Golden State has not seen an open Senate seat since Boxer first won in 1992. So, especially among Democrats who dominate California politics, we can predict a very lively campaign beginning immediately upon Boxer making her plans official.

The state’s top-two nominating system means a free-for-all is on tap for the June 2016 qualifying election, with some chance that two Democrats could advance to the general election.

On the other hand, splitting the Democratic vote among a large number of candidates in June could lead not only to a Republican advancing to November, but actually finishing first. In the last two primary elections, the GOP has run relatively well, mostly due to poor turnout among Democratic voters. But, an open presidential election year coupled with an incumbent-less US Senate race would likely Continue reading >

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