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Posts Tagged ‘John McCain’

Redistricting Update

In Redistricting on September 27, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Redistricting action occurred in the following nine states during the past week:

ARIZONA (current delegation: 5R-3D; gains one seat) – The members of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission say they expect to release congressional and legislative maps within the “next couple of weeks.” Once in the general domain, a series of public comment hearings over a 30-day period will then ensue, after which a final vote will be taken.

ILLINOIS (current delegation: 11R-7D; loses one seat) – Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL-2) and Bobby Rush (D-IL-1) appear to be dissatisfied with the congressional Democratic plan. Both are indicating that they may file a joint Voting Rights lawsuit against the plan, which would be a major occurrence since it is virtually unheard of for party members to attempt to legally overturn a map their own partisan colleagues promoted. Mr. Jackson may receive a primary challenge from former Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-IL-11) because some of her previous district is now in the new 2nd CD.

MAINE (current delegation: 2D) – The Maine legislative special session, called for the purpose of redistricting the state’s political districts, begins today. Since all redistricting plans require a two-thirds vote in both legislative chambers, expect a status quo congressional map for their two districts. This is especially likely because only 4,335 people need to move from the 1st to the 2nd District to meet the 2011 population quota.

MARYLAND (current delegation: 6D-2R) – New information is beginning to come forth about the Democratic-controlled legislature’s congressional plan. It does appear that the Ds will attempt to gain one seat through the process. Originally, the Republican target was expected to be Eastern Shore freshman Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD-1), but the numbers now suggest that 10-term Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD-6), now 85 years old, is the real victim. Mr. Bartlett’s proposed 6th District is decidedly Democratic. Under the suggested plan, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) received 56.9% of the vote in 2010 and President Obama claimed 63.1% two years earlier. Under the current lines, the 6th District voted for John McCain by a 58-40% margin, thus clearly showing how drastically the western region will change. Expect the Maryland plan to yield a new 7D-1R partisan division.

MISSOURI (current delegation: 6R-3D; loses one seat) – Plaintiffs being supported by the National Democratic Redistricting Trust, are suing to overturn the state’s new congressional map. They are pursuing grounds of compactness and partisan gerrymandering. This is a long shot case that will likely go nowhere. The Supreme Court has never declared any map a partisan gerrymander.

NEVADA (current delegation: 2R-1D; gains one seat) – The judge charged with drawing the de novo congressional map since the legislature and governor failed to enact a map before adjournment, stated that he wants to see a first draft from his appointed special master by Oct. 21 and is promising a final ruling on or before Nov. 15.

NEW MEXICO (current delegation: 2D-1R) – The Democratic legislature adjourned their special session without passing a congressional map, knowing that Gov. Susana Martinez (R) would veto any plan they might approve. They did send her plans for both houses of the legislature; maps she is pledging to veto. The congressional map now goes to court, where, as in Nevada, the judge must draw a de novo map.

OHIO (current delegation: 13R-5D; loses two seats) – Both houses of the Ohio legislature have passed the new congressional plan and sent it to Gov. John Kasich (R). The Democrats plan to mount an operation to overturn the map via ballot initiative. Gov. Kasich stated publicly that he will sign the plan into law.

UTAH (current delegation: 2R-1D; gains one seat) – The state legislature’s special redistricting committee has narrowed the congressional plan to six different versions. Their goal is to vote a final map out of committee by next Tuesday. The special legislative session called to consider the committee’s product will begin Oct. 4. The big question surrounds how the Republican legislators will treat Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT-2). Will they draw him a safe Salt Lake City seat and go 3R-1D, or try for a 4R-0D sweep? Of the six maps under consideration, only one features the Salt Lake City configuration.

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A Republican Double-Header Sweep

In House on September 14, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Thirteen proved to be a lucky number for Republicans, as the party’s candidates won two special congressional elections last night, Sept. 13.

The upset of the political season went to GOP contender Bob Turner, who defeated Democratic state Assemblyman David Weprin, thus converting the vacated Anthony Weiner congressional district to the Republicans. Prior to Weiner’s election to Congress, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) held the 9th district for nine terms before being elected statewide.

Mr. Turner, a retired broadcasting executive, scored a 54-46 percent win in a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 57-18 percent count. Only 22 percent of the registered voters participated in the special election, a key reason why the GOP nominee was able to win despite having such a small political base. He scored 48 percent of the vote in the Queens borough, which is NY-9’s population anchor. He won the race, however, in Brooklyn where he attracted an astonishing 69 percent of the vote.

In the closing days of the campaign four pollsters, McLaughlin Associates, Magellan Strategies, Siena College and Public Policy Polling, all produced surveys projecting Turner to be in strong position and headed to victory. Last night’s results certainly proved the pollsters correct. On a side note, the NY election result is a bad sign for President Obama, as his favorability ratings in this heavily Democratic district are poor. Carrying the seat over John McCain with 55 percent of the vote in 2008, the PPP poll showed the President actually trailing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (42-46 percent) and ahead of Texas Gov. Rick Perry by just one percentage point (44-43 percent) in hypothetical presidential match-ups. Obama scores poorly on his handling of the economy and on issues concerning US policy in the Middle East, greatly influenced by the 36 percent of the district’s residents who are members of the Jewish faith.

Turning to the west, former state legislator and Nevada Republican Party chairman Mark Amodei easily won the congressional district seat that was vacated when then-Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV-2) was appointed to the US Senate. Amodei won easily, scoring a 58-37 percent margin of victory over Democratic state Treasurer Kate Marshall. Rep-elect Amodei now becomes an incumbent in a district that touches all 17 of Nevada’s counties, but will likely only occupy the northern half of the state post-redistricting. His toughest electoral challenge may still lie ahead, however. It is likely that 2010 Republican Senatorial nominee Sharron Angle will challenge the new congressman in a Reno-Carson City anchored district during the regular 2011 election cycle. This will be a competitive race despite Mr. Amodei’s short-term incumbency.

Turnout for the Nevada election was much greater than the voter participation level in New York. Approximately 140,000 voters went to the polls to choose a replacement for Mr. Heller, about 35 percent of those registered, slightly higher than the average special congressional election draws.

The Turner victory restores the New York delegation to 21D-8R, the ratio found on election night 2010. Republicans lost the 26th District in a special election earlier in the year, so the two parties have now traded conversion districts.

The current House party division count now stands at 242 Republicans; 192 Democrats; and one vacancy (ex-Rep. David Wu, D-OR-1). The final vacant seat will be filled in a Jan. 31 special election.

Trends Favor Amodei in Nevada’s 2nd CD

In House on September 9, 2011 at 4:32 pm

On Tuesday, Sept. 13, voters in Nevada’s 2nd district will go to the polls to choose a successor to Rep. Dean Heller (R), who resigned the seat upon receiving his appointment to the US Senate. All indications suggest that Republican Mark Amodei, a former state legislator and Nevada Republican Party chairman, has the inside track to victory in the special election. Democrats nominated twice-elected state Treasurer Kate Marshall, a former Senior Deputy Attorney General.

The 2nd district, which will change drastically when the courts finalize the state’s new four-district congressional map, touches all 17 of Nevada’s counties including part of Clark, which houses the overwhelming majority of the state’s residents. The new map is likely to confine the district boundaries to the state’s northern portion, anchoring it around the Reno and Carson City population centers.

At the beginning of this mid-year campaign, it appeared that the result would be close. In fact, Marshall seemed primed to pull an upset particularly because Amodei proved to be a weak fundraiser in previous campaigns and the district voting patterns were not as strongly Republican. Though the seat was designed as a GOP stronghold in the 2001 redistricting plan, it began trending a bit more Democratic as the decade progressed and can be considered competitive in its current configuration.

Though no Democrat has carried the seat, the Republican margins of victory have grown smaller. While former President George W. Bush scored a pair of 57 percent wins in his presidential campaigns of 2000 and 2004, John McCain managed to place ahead by a mere handful of votes here when matched with Barack Obama in 2008. Both men scored in the 49th percentile. The last time the congressional seat was open, when Mr. Heller won in 2006, the Republican margin of victory dropped to 50-45 percent. As the incumbent, Heller steadily increased his victory percentage. In 2008 he won 52-41 percent and 63-33 percent two years later.

Financially, Marshall has out-raised Amodei. The latest available disclosure reports (through Aug. 24) show Ms. Marshall gathering $695,465 to Amodei’s $537,598. But it is outside spending that gives the Republican the overwhelming campaign advantage. So far, published independent committee financial disclosures, including political party expenditures, show more than $850,000 going to support Mr. Amodei versus nothing for Ms. Marshall.

Published polls, though none have been recently conducted, also project Amodei to have the advantage. Public Policy Polling (Aug. 18-21) gave the Republican only a one-point 43-42 percent lead, but Magellan Strategies, polling around the same time period (Aug. 15-16), showed Amodei to have a substantial 48-35 percent edge. It is likely we will see another published poll or two before Tuesday, thus giving us further indication of the eventual result.

But probably the best indicator of the vote trend are the early ballot tabulations. Though the votes themselves are not yet counted, the Secretary of State issues reports citing how many ballots the office has received from members of each political party. At this writing, over 7,600 more Republicans than Democrats have already returned their ballots. This margin will almost certainly give Amodei a relatively strong lead going into Election Day itself.

But this special election will not signal the end of the long-term congressional contest regardless of Tuesday’s outcome. Sharron Angle, the 2010 Republican nominee who carried this district in the 2010 general election against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, even though she lost statewide, waits in the wings for the winner – in a regular election district that is much more to her liking than the current 2nd. Should Amodei successfully carry the seat in the special election, he will face a Republican primary battle against Angle next June. Amodei, who is moderate, will have to protect his right flank to a great degree upon election or he will be vulnerable to a Republican primary challenge from Mrs. Angle, who has proven she is a strong vote-getter in northern Nevada.

The winner on Tuesday will serve the remainder of the current term, but may find him or herself in a dogfight to retain the seat in the regular election. It appears that the Sept. 13 vote will likely mark only the effective beginning of this campaign and not the end.
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Conflicting Data in Nevada’s 2nd District Special Election

In House, Redistricting on August 24, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Two surveys covering the Sept. 13 special election in Nevada’s 2nd congressional district were just released, producing very different results. Magellan Strategies, polling for Americans for Prosperity, went into the field Aug. 15-16 (656 registered NV-2 voters via automated phone calls) and found Republican Mark Amodei to be leading Democrat Kate Marshall by a hefty 48-35 percent margin. Two days later, Public Policy Polling began testing 600 NV-2 voters, also with automated calls (Aug. 18-21), and found Amodei’s advantage to be only 43-42 percent.

One reason for the large swing is the make-up of the two polling samples. Magellan’s consisted of 48 percent registered Republicans, 38 percent Democrats, and 14 percent Independents. PPP’s included 41 percent Republican, 37 percent Democrat, and 22 percent Independent respondents. According to the latest registered voter statistics (July 2011), NV-2 Republican registration is 43.1 percent; Democrats post 35.4 percent; and Independents (American Independents, Greens, Libertarians, Non-Partisan, and Other are the choices in Nevada) capture 21.5 percent of the district’s voters. Therefore, the PPP sample draw is the more accurate of the two, though they slightly discounted the Republican number. Magellan has the right number of Democrats, but their Republican composition is seven points high while the Independent is seven points low. Notice that the two polls differ by about those same margins. Magellan’s results are five points higher for the Republican candidate and seven points lower for the Democrat than PPP’s.

Though the 2nd District, which touches all 17 of Nevada’s counties but has its population anchor in Reno and Carson City, was originally drawn as a Republican seat in the 2001 redistricting plan, it has strayed much closer to the Democrats as the decade progressed. In 2004, then-President George W. Bush scored a 57 percent victory here over John Kerry. Four years later, Barack Obama and John McCain fought to a 49 percent draw. On the congressional front, in the open seat race of 2006 when Dean Heller (R) defeated Jill Derby (D), the GOP scored a 50-45 percent win. Two years later the same candidates finished 52-41 percent in favor of incumbent Heller. In the 2010 Republican landslide election, without strong opposition, Rep. Heller’s re-election margin was 63-33 percent.

Expect the current special election to be close. Both candidates are now airing television ads and neither are timid about going negative. The National Republican Congressional Committee has already dropped approximately $400,000 into the race, but the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has yet to counter. Outside organizations for both sides are also expected to participate. In a special election, turnout is everything and the Democrats, as proven in the 2010 Senate campaign that re-elected Majority Leader Harry Reid 50-45% when polling was suggesting a different result, seem to have the superior ground apparatus.

The PPP data released the results of their long questionnaire and that produced interesting results too, mostly favoring the Republicans. Though Amodei’s favorability ratio is only 43:42 percent positive to negative, Marshall’s is 43:47 percent. President Obama’s job approval score is a weak 41:55 percent, and Reid’s is even worse at 39:56 percent. On the other hand, Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval posts a strong 55:32 percent score.

Testing former NV-2 Rep. Heller, who is now the state’s interim Senator running for a full term against Las Vegas Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV-1), his job approval number as a statewide federal official is 48:41 percent favorable to unfavorable, and he would defeat Berkley 52-40 percent in the current 2nd District if the US Senate vote were today.

The NV-2 special election is now kicking into high gear, and these combined polling results suggest a tough road for both candidates down the closing stretch. Waiting in the wings is Sharron Angle, the 2010 Republican Senatorial nominee who will enter the regular election in the new 2nd District, no matter what the final result of this campaign. Therefore, the new incumbent will face plenty of competition next year. The new 2nd District redistricting draw is expected to be very different from present. The Las Vegas portion of the district will no longer be included, as the new seat will be concentrated in Nevada’s northern sector. This plays right into Angle’s hands, so this current race merely begins what will likely be more than a year of steady political activity.
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In Oklahoma’s 2nd D, Boren to Retire; ex-Rep. Carson to Run Again

In House on June 8, 2011 at 9:53 am

Oklahoma Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK-2), 37, announced that he will not seek re-election to a fifth term in Congress next year. Mr. Boren, arguably one of the most conservative House Democrats, clearly is part of a minority within a minority, being a right-of-center congressman in an increasingly liberal party conference. Boren says being in Washington and away from his young family, coupled with the time demands of campaigning, are the reasons for his retirement.

Rep. Boren becomes the 14th non-redistricting-related House member to either resign or say they won’t run again, but is the first to do so without seeking higher office or escaping scandal. He will serve the balance of the term and did not say what he plans to do when he leaves the House.

The 2nd district of Oklahoma is one of the most conservative seats held by a Democrat in the United States. Once a “yellow dog” Democrat region, OK-2 trended much more Republican as the previous decade progressed. President Obama could only manage 34 percent of the vote here in 2008, compared to John McCain’s 66 percent. Former President George W. Bush notched 59 percent in 2004, seven points better than the 52 percent he recorded four years earlier.

The 2nd district encompasses the entire eastern quadrant of Oklahoma, beginning at the Kansas border and traveling south all the way to Texas. On the northeast, the seat borders Missouri; Arkansas lies to the southeast. The largest city is Muskogee.

Because Oklahoma had little in the way of population change, their new congressional redistricting plan looks very much like the current map. The new legislation has already been enacted into law. While the 2nd district traditionally elects a Democrat to Congress, in an open seat with an unpopular Barack Obama leading the 2012 Democratic Party ticket, a different result could be realized.

While two early GOP names pop up on the potential candidate list — Josh Brecheen, a state Senator from Coalgate, and state Rep. George Faught — the Democrats already have a likely successor waiting in the wings, and he will run. Former 2nd District Rep. Brad Carson (D), who vacated the seat to run unsuccessfully for Senate in 2004, announced his congressional comeback attempt next year on the heels of Boren’s retirement announcement. Kenneth Corn, a former state senator and the 2010 Democratic lieutenant governor nominee is also reportedly considering the race, but Carson appears to be the strongest possible Democrat to run in this seat, outside of Boren.

If the president cannot perform better than the 34 percent he scored in his last election, what effect will this have upon Carson’s race? Obviously, there will be a Democratic drag, hence the Republican nominee will have a legitimate chance to win even against the former congressman and Senatorial nominee.
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More Clarity to New Illinois Map has Republicans Feeling More Competitive

In Reapportionment on June 1, 2011 at 5:24 pm

The Illinois legislature made some final changes to the base congressional map, such as putting Reps. Tim Johnson (R-IL-15) and John Shimkus (R-IL-19) back in separate districts instead of pairing them, and then sent the legislation on to Gov. Pat Quinn (D). Democrats will make substantial gains in the state but, now that the political numbers have become public, the Republicans feel they are more competitive.

Originally, some analysts believed the Democrats would change the 11R-8D map to 13D-5R. Illinois loses a seat in reapportionment, thus explaining the difference in the total number. Taking a careful look at the political performances in races other than the 2008 presidential contest show that Republicans could fare better, possibly confining their losses to a net of three or four seats instead of five.

More information is unfolding as incumbents and party officials make statements. Once the map is signed into law, expect the Republican Party to file a lawsuit, challenging the fact that only one Hispanic district was drawn. Hispanics are a greater population than African-Americans in the state (2.02 million to 1.87 million according to the 2010 census) yet, under this new map, they have only one seat (Rep. Luis Gutierrez’s 4th district) versus three for African-Americans (Districts 1-Bobby Rush, 2-Jesse Jackson, Jr., and 7-Danny Davis. Republicans will argue that the “packing” of Hispanics should void the map. They clearly believe the drawing of a second Hispanic seat will help them in surrounding areas.

Turning to the political data, combining the results of the 2008 presidential race (Barack Obama defeating John McCain) with the 2010 Senate (Republican Mark Kirk beating Democrat Alexi Giannoulias) and gubernatorial races (Gov. Quinn nipping state legislator Bill Brady), a better feel can be obtained for the new 18 districts.

The Obama race cuts both ways. First, it is legitimate to believe that the Democratic number skews high in this race because the president is, of course, Illinois’ native son and the state’s 2008 numbers were among his best in the country. On the other hand, he will be back on the ballot in 2012, so the Republican incumbents and challengers will have to overcome his presence while fighting in substantially new territory.

Taking all three aforementioned races into consideration does make Republican prospects appear a bit better. First, there are six seats where Democrats swept each of the 2008 and 2010 studied races. They are new districts 1 (Rush), 2 (Jackson), 4 (Gutierrez), 5 (Mike Quigley), 7 (Davis), and 9 (Jan Schakowsky). These Democratic incumbents are clearly safe, realistically for the balance of the ensuing decade.

One district gave the Democratic candidate two of three victories. Dan Lipinski in the IL-3 will represent a reliable Democratic district, but one in which a Republican could win under certain circumstances. Mark Kirk, in 2010, carried the district by a 48-46 percent margin. The average Republican vote extrapolated over the three studied races is 44.0 percent.

Another Democratic seat only turned in one D victory in the three races. The downstate 12th district of Rep. Jerry Costello actually yielded Republican victories in the Senate (51-43 percent) and governor’s (50-44 percent) races. The average Republican vote is 48.3 percent, suggesting that this race could become competitive in an open seat situation, but is likely safe for Costello since 93 percent of the territory is from his old 12th CD.

Two seats are strongly Republican. The new 15th district that houses Rep. John Shimkus, is the most solid GOP seat in the state, scoring an average of 63.0 percent in the three races. Rep. Aaron Schock’s18th CD registers 62.7 percent.

Seven seats saw Republicans winning two of the three studied campaigns, with the president carrying the district in every case. Three of these districts, however, show the Republican average as dropping below 50 percent. The new open 8th CD is likely to go Democratic in an incumbent-less race. The GOP average there is 45.3 percent. The new 11th CD, where Rep. Judy Biggert would likely run, but is already being opposed by former Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL-14), turns in a 44.3 percent average Republican vote. And, in the Quad Cities region, freshman Rep. Bobby Schilling only sees an average Republican vote of 48.7 percent, but the seat is culturally more conservative than this partisan voting history suggests. In a re-match with defeated Rep. Phil Hare (D), Schilling would have a fighting chance to survive.

Rep. Peter Roskam’s 6th district appears favorable for him with an average Republican vote of 55.7 percent. Three potential pairings exist for the GOP, which is their biggest problem. Rep. Tim Johnson could challenge Shimkus in the new 15th, or run for re-election in the new 13th, where is house now resides. IL-13 is still majority Republican, but certainly not as strong as District 15. It is likely that Reps. Randy Hultgren and Joe Walsh will square off in new District 14, with Reps. Don Manzullo and Adam Kinzinger doing battle in the new 16th. Both latter districts produce an average 55.7 percent Republican vote.

Now that the political numbers are becoming known, it appears the Democrats can count seven wins in their column with three more seats leaning their way. The Republicans appear solid in five with one more leaning toward their party. Two seats figure to be toss-ups. Should the Democrats sweep the state in 2012, then a 12D-6R party division is the likely outcome. If Republicans rebound, then a 10D-8R final score is in the realm of possibility.
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Senate Candidates Coming Forward

In Senate on May 18, 2011 at 11:00 am

The political situation surrounding three U.S. Senate states became clearer yesterday. With Friday’s announcement from Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) saying he would not seek a fourth term next year, the Wisconsin political merry-go-round immediately began circling and an old familiar face came forward.

After House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) decided to remain in his current position, former Gov. Tommy Thompson began making it known that he is interested in running for the open seat. Thompson served four terms as governor from 1987 to 2001 and then became Pres. George W. Bush’s Secretary of Health and Human Services. He made an ill-fated run for the presidency in 2008, failing to even get out of the starting blocks. The 69-year-old Thompson’s entry would be a bit of a surprise, since he considered running statewide several times after leaving the state house and then repeatedly stated his disinclination to initiate another political campaign.

Should he get back into the game in 2012, Mr. Thompson may draw serious primary opposition. Former Reps. Mark Green (R-WI-8) and Mark Neumann (R-WI-1), who have both previously lost statewide campaigns, have not ruled out running for the Senate. The state legislature’s brother tandem of Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and House Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald have also been mentioned as potential Senate contenders.

Wisconsin Democrats will have a strong field of potential candidates from which to choose. Leading the group is former Sen. Russ Feingold who was defeated for re-election in 2010. Before Sen. Kohl announced his retirement, Feingold said he was not considering running in 2012 even if the Senate seat were to open. Now that Kohl is stepping aside, Feingold has a real decision to make. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI-2) and former Milwaukee mayor and congressman Tom Barrett, who lost to Gov. Scott Walker in November, are both potential candidates. Regardless of who ultimately chooses to run, this open seat contest is likely to become 2012’s premier Senate race.

In Missouri, Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO-2) has finally indicated that he will run for the Senate, ending weeks of speculation. Since two Republicans have already announced they are running for his congressional seat, as if it were already open, Akin’s Senate announcement seems anticlimactic. He enters a primary against former state treasurer and gubernatorial candidate Sarah Steelman of Springfield and possibly healthcare company CEO John Brunner from St. Louis. Steelman has the potential of becoming a strong candidate, so an Akin nomination should not be considered a foregone conclusion.

The winner of the Missouri Republican Senatorial primary will face vulnerable Sen. Claire McCaskill (D), seeking her first re-election to the post she originally won in 2006. Missouri’s recent voting history plus her failure to pay property taxes on an airplane that her husband partially owns has brought this race into the toss-up zone. Missouri was the closest state in the 2008 presidential campaign as John McCain slipped past Pres. Obama by just 3,903 votes. It was only the second time since 1900 that Missouri failed to side with the winner in the presidential contest. Last election, Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO-7) scored an impressive 13-point victory over Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D), sister of current Congressman Russ Carnahan (D-MO-3). Hence, the last two elections may signal that Missouri voters are moving decidedly to the right.

The open North Dakota seat also saw its first major entry. Freshman Rep. Rick Berg (R-ND-AL) announced via video on Monday that he will run for the retiring Sen. Kent Conrad’s (D) open seat. Berg should coast to the Republican nomination and becomes the prohibitive favorite to convert the seat for his party in the general election. Public Utilities Commissioner Brian Kalk had already announced for the Republican Senatorial nomination, but he is expected to drop down to the open House race. Most of the North Dakota political action will now center around Berg’s vacated at-large House district.
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Presidential Mathematics

In Presidential campaign on April 27, 2011 at 9:29 am

In the past few days, developments have occurred that help define the Republican presidential field of candidates. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, after giving every indication he was beginning to build a bona-fide presidential campaign apparatus, now says he won’t run. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14) is forming a presidential exploratory committee, meaning his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), will not become a candidate. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, now traveling to New Hampshire on a regular basis, says he will run if he doesn’t believe that another Republican candidate could actually defeat Pres. Barack Obama in a general election.

We still must hear definitively from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, ex-VP nominee Sarah Palin, and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, all of whom may not enter the race, and Massachusetts ex-Gov. Mitt Romney, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN-6), ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, all of whom either will, or probably will, run.

Looking at the delegate counts and apportionment systems that each state employs uncovers a road map to victory for one of the eventual candidates. Eleven states are winner-take-all (of Republican delegates) and another nine are winner-take-all by congressional district. These states proved key to Sen. John McCain’s come-from-behind victory in 2008. Remember, the McCain candidacy had been given up for dead until the actual voting began. His close wins in South Carolina, Florida, Missouri, and Arizona (though the margin between McCain and the other candidates wasn’t particularly close in his home state, he still managed to garner only 47 percent of the vote within his own Arizona party base) gave him such a commanding lead in the delegate count that it soon became obvious no one could catch him.

Interestingly, despite his under-the-radar approach to the 2012 campaign, the delegate-rich states stack up pretty well in former Mayor Giuliani’s favor, considering his home base of New York (101 delegates) and New Jersey (53), are in the winner-take-all category. Connecticut (28), the District of Columbia (19), Delaware (17), and Vermont (17) are all other places the ex-NYC chief executive could win. Maryland (37 delegates), another Giuliani potential, is in the winner-take-all by congressional district category. The big states of California (172) and Florida (93) are also there, as are Ohio (72) and Wisconsin (42).

All totaled, the winner-take-all and the winner-take-all by congressional district states contain 1,096 delegates of the grand total of 2,422 that form the Republican National Convention. This means 45.2 percent of all delegates will be chosen in either winner-take-all or winner-take-all by CD states. The remainder are in caucus, proportional systems, or hybrids like Louisiana (48 delegates) where both a primary and caucus are used.

The winner-take-all by congressional district awards a candidate a certain number of delegates for winning the statewide vote (usually their base 10 delegates that all states receive, and whatever extra and bonus votes they earn for electing Republican candidates to office) and another three delegates for every congressional district won. This system is interesting because some congressional districts in places like Los Angeles, where Republicans routinely receive well less than 30 percent of the vote are of equal stature to the strongest of GOP districts in terms of delegate allocation for the Republican presidential primary. While it is unlikely that any one candidate would win all of the delegates in a winner-take-all by CD state, it is possible for an individual to snare the vast majority, which matters greatly in the national vote count.

Whether Rudy Giuliani comes back from political oblivion to stake his comeback on a winner-take-all state strategy is unclear right now. What is evident, however, is that the person carrying the preponderance of these winner-take-all states and districts will almost assuredly win the 2012 Republican nomination and become Obama’s future general election opponent.

Winner-Take-All States
• Arizona – 54 delegates
• Connecticut – 28
• Delaware – 17
• District of Columbia – 19
• Missouri – 56
• Montana – 26
• New Jersey – 53
• New York – 101
• Utah – 36
• Vermont – 17
• Virginia – 49

Winner Take All by Congressional District
• California – 172 delegates
• Florida – 93
• Georgia – 72
• Maryland – 37
• Michigan – 62
• Ohio – 72
• Oklahoma – 43
• South Carolina – 47
• Wisconsin – 42

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Nevada Sen. Ensign to Resign; Heller Likely to be Appointed

In Senate on April 22, 2011 at 10:43 am

Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), rocked with a sex and blackmail scandal that made winning re-election impossible, announced that he will resign his seat effective May 3rd. This will give newly elected Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) the opportunity of appointing a successor to serve until the next regular election in November 2012. All indications suggest that Sandoval will appoint Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV-2) as the interim senator. The congressman has already announced his intention to run for the open seat and has become the virtual consensus Republican candidate. Sandoval endorsed Heller for the seat long before it became known that Ensign would not serve the balance of his term.

Appointing Heller would give him incumbency advantage for the 17 months prior to the election. This will undoubtedly help him raise money; though, as a consensus candidate in a competitive U.S. Senate race, money would likely not have been an obstacle. One key difference, however: Upon appointment, Heller will be treated as an incumbent by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, thus making their involvement much easier than if the race happens to evolve into a contested primary. The party and institutional financial backing should give Heller an added boost in the general election as he will square-off with Las Vegas Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV-1). Last week Berkley made official her entry into the Senate race.

Nevada, the fastest growing U.S. state during the past decade (35 percent growth over the 10-year period; the national average was 9.7 percent) is a changing region. Previously, a place that leaned more Republican than Democrat, Nevada is now the quintessential swing state. While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was re-elected 50-45 percent in a very difficult campaign, Sandoval was simultaneously out-distancing Reid’s son, Rory, in the governor’s race, 53-42 percent. Freshman Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV-3) was also turned out of office by current Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV-3) in the seat that has become the most over-populated congressional district in the nation, housing over one million inhabitants. The strong growth rate awarded the state a new congressional seat, the third consecutive decade such as happened. In 2008, Pres. Obama carried the state over John McCain by a lopsided 55-43 percent mark. Four years earlier, then-President Bush outpaced John Kerry here 50-48 percent.

Thus, the stage is set for another close election, and an incumbency advantage for Heller could be just the impetus he needs to cross the political finish line first.

But, appointing Mr. Heller could cause further controversy at the U.S. House level. Heller actually vacating his congressional seat to finish Ensign’s term, means a special election will be held in NV-2 later this year. Sharron Angle, the Tea Party activist who won the GOP Senate nomination but came up short against Sen. Reid, has already announced that she will run for the open seat in 2012. A special election would hasten the political clock and she will undoubtedly enter the early contest, with a strong chance of winning a split primary. In 2006, when Heller was first elected, Angle only lost the Republican primary to him by 421 votes (39.5 – 39.3 percent). In a crowded field of candidates, which will likely occur, securing a base of +35 percent likely means winning the nomination, and she has previously done better in this very territory. The 2nd district touches a small part of Clark County (Las Vegas), and then occupies the rest of the state, including Angle’s power base of Washoe County (Reno).

In a way, the special election might actually hinder Angle’s chances of winning the primary. In a redrawn 2nd district, the seat will likely lose it’s Clark County portion, a place where Angle performed 11 percentage points under Heller in 2006. But, the special election will occur in the current 2nd district. Originally drawn as a safe Republican seat, the 2nd has become marginal. In fact, Heller only scored a 50-45 percent win over Nevada Democratic Party chair Jill Derby in ’06, followed with a closer-than-expected 52-41 percent victory two years later against the same opponent. Derby may again become a candidate, and could be strong in a special general election particularly if Angle wins the Republican nomination.

It appears evident that Nevadans are headed for another lively and potentially bitter election cycle yet again, and one that will almost assuredly begin early.
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