Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Posts Tagged ‘President Obama’

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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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.

The Democrats Have Problems Beyond Redistricting

In Election Analysis, Redistricting on January 15, 2015 at 10:55 am

The Democratic federal elected officials are gathered in Baltimore right now, discussing the future of their party and ways to recapture much of the political territory they lost in the 2014 elections. A clear theme settling around their US House predicament is redistricting, and how the Republican-drawn boundaries, they say, in what are typically Democratic states have unfairly cost them large numbers of seats.

North Carolina Rep. David Price (D-NC-4) spoke at length about redistricting and how it affects the party. According to an article on Yahoo News, Price said, “Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia display the most egregious examples of gerrymandered districts for congressional and state legislative races.” His solution is to continue the process Democrats are using in several states, which is to sue over the current congressional boundaries contending that the district boundaries are “racially biased”. Except for Virginia, where a court has already declared the map unconstitutional for this reason, it will likely be difficult to make such a case in places where the minority districts have actually been maximized.

The 2014 electoral statistics cast a different light on the situation, however. Let’s take the case of freshman Rep. Gwen Graham (D-FL-2). She won a Republican-leaning seat in what was the worst of years for Democratic congressional candidates. The fact that she Continue reading >

Boehner Survives as Speaker, Reverberations Iffy; Gibson Won’t Run Again in NY-19

In House on January 7, 2015 at 9:51 am

Much is being made about the 25 Republicans who didn’t support House Speaker John Boehner’s re-election yesterday; but how many will actually suffer any recriminations from their action? So far, representatives Daniel Webster (R-FL-10) and Rich Nugent (R-FL-11) have both been removed from the Rules Committee – Webster ran for Speaker and Nugent voted for him – but will other similar moves follow?

It is doubtful. Many of the veteran members who opposed the Speaker have been outspoken in the past about the House inner workings and really don’t have particularly plum committee or conference positions from which to be stripped. Therefore, replacing the two Floridians on the Rules Committee could be the extent of the leadership backlash.

A surprising vote against Boehner came from Virginia Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA-2), however, generally viewed as a more centrist member. He represents a marginal Tidewater district, and his seat on the Armed Services Committee is highly relevant and important to his constituency. Plus, with the Virginia congressional map in the courts and already ruled unconstitutional, a redraw will soon commence, and the Rigell district will likely see major boundary revisions – changes not projected to be in the congressman’s favor. So Rigell could be in position to soon need Continue reading >

The Impact of Staten Island Resident Eric Gardner’s Death on the NY-11 Special Election

In House on January 5, 2015 at 9:52 am

The new 114th Congress will commence tomorrow with already one vacant seat in the House of Representatives headed to special election.

Despite Rep. Michael Grimm (R) saying he would not resign his US House seat after pleading guilty to one count of tax evasion in December, the man who scored a resounding 53-41 percent re-election victory only a month earlier in the face of a 20-count federal indictment will officially leave Congress.

That means New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) will call a special election once the seat in the new Congress officially becomes vacant, which will occur during the body’s first session on Jan. 6th. Under New York election law, the governor must schedule the election between 70 and 80 days from the date of official vacancy. This means the special will occur sometime between March 16 and 26, 2015. The most likely prospects are Tuesday, March 17, and Tuesday, the 24th.

Also under New York election procedure, the local political parties will choose their respective nominee, meaning there will only be one election before the voting public. For a time, it looked like former three-term Staten Island Borough president James Molinaro might enter the race as a Conservative Party candidate, but the 83-year-old former local political leader is Continue reading >

Pessimism Abounds Among Electorate

In Polling on December 12, 2014 at 11:23 am

A new USA Today/Pew Research poll (Dec. 3-7, 1,507 adults; 408 Republicans, 445 Democrats, 574 Independents) tested a representative American sampling group about their attitudes and impressions toward national political institutions, now that we have moved into a post-election period.

Back in 2009, when asked whether the country was more politically divided than in the past respondents answered that it was, but only by a 46-45 percent margin. The latest data finds that 81 percent believe America is more ideologically divided, as compared to just 15 percent who say it is not. And, 77 percent say they believe the nation will become either even more divided or stay at this same apparently unbridgeable level. Additionally, 71 percent say that such a situation hurts the country “a lot”, with an additional 16 percent believing that seeing such a starkly divided ideological nation is “somewhat” harmful.

The pollsters then asked respondents to name the most important problem facing the country. Of those who answered, 76 percent (71 percent of Democrats, 78 percent among Republicans, and 80 percent from the Independent sector), said they believe President Obama and Republican congressional leaders will make little or no progress in solving the issue they identified, regardless of the topic.

In terms of job approval, 42 percent gave President Obama a positive rating as compared to just 22 percent who have a similar impression of Congress. This marks 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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Cassidy Wins Louisiana in a Landslide; Republicans Also Take CDs 5 & 6

In House, Senate on December 8, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Louisiana Senate

The Louisiana run-offs were held Saturday night and, as expected, three-term Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) lost a landslide re-election bid. With just under 1.3 million people participating, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6) claimed a 56-44 percent victory margin.

In the state’s jungle primary that runs concurrently with the national general election, Louisiana increased turnout more than any other state when compared to the 2010 mid-term election. A total of 16.4 percent more Louisianans voted in 2014 than four years ago. Conversely, only 15 states produced more voters this year than in 2010. With more than 1.472 million voting in the November jungle primary, Sen. Landrieu placed first, but with just 42 percent of the vote. In the combined party primary vote, 56 percent chose a Republican candidate, while 43 percent voted for a Democrat. Therefore, the aggregate primary totals proved a precursor to the almost identical run-off result.

Rep. Cassidy’s victory in the Senate race means that the Republicans gained nine seats in the 2014 election cycle and gives them a 56-44 majority in the new 114th Congress. Five Democratic incumbents, including Sen. Landrieu, were defeated.

In her 2008 victory (52-46 percent) over Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy, Continue reading >

Breaking Down the 2014 Election by CD

In Election Analysis, House on November 26, 2014 at 10:10 am

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families. The PRIsm Political Update will return on Monday, Dec. 1. Don’t eat too much!!

Cross Districts

The 2014 election increased the universe of federal “cross-districts”.

In the 2012 presidential election, voters in 411 congressional districts uniformly chose a US House member of the same party as they supported for president. This means only 24 CDs elected a representative belonging to the opposite party of the candidate they backed for the nation’s top office. In 2012, 16 districts elected a Republican representative while simultaneously supporting President Obama; conversely, eight CDs chose a Democratic congressman while voting for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

In 2014, we see a slightly different pattern. The total number of cross-districts rose to 31, but 404 still elected a House member consistent with the party of their previously chosen presidential candidate. Twenty-six of those CDs elected a Republican House member earlier this month, even though those casting ballots supported President Obama two years earlier. Voters in only five incoming House districts backed Romney in 2012, but elected a Democratic Representative in the current election; two Continue reading >

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