Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Posts Tagged ‘Sen. Jay Rockefeller’

Alabama Results Show no Surprises; New WV Poll

In House, Senate on September 25, 2013 at 10:39 am

Alabama voters went to the polls in the first of three elections to choose a successor to resigned Rep. Jo Bonner (R) last night, who departed the House in August to accept a position at the University of Alabama. The end result met predicted expectations, as former state Representative candidate, Democrat Burton LeFlore, easily won his low-turnout primary with 70 percent of the vote. He now awaits the winner of the Nov. 5 Republican run-off.

Of the nine GOP candidates, two will advance, former state senator and gubernatorial candidate Bradley Byrne (35 percent) and businessman and former congressional candidate Dean Young (23 percent).

The remaining seven candidates, three of whom ran significant campaigns, are eliminated from further competition. State Rep. Chad Fincher placed third with 16 percent, conservative columnist Quin Hillyer was next at 14 percent, and former Republican National Committee deputy chief of staff Webb Griffith finished fifth, garnering 11 percent. The remaining four candidates all pulled less than 400 votes.

The special election turnout rate was relatively low, but Republicans dominated among the voters who did participate. Almost 52,000 people cast ballots in the GOP election versus just 4,300 for the Democrats. The eventual Republican nominee will be a heavy favorite in the Dec. 17 special general election.

Though Byrne finished first last night, he is by no means guaranteed to win the run-off. In fact, he was in an identical position in the 2010 governor’s campaign but failed to secure the nomination in the subsequent head-to-head battle.

Three years ago, Byrne placed first in that primary, too, but fell in the run-off to Gov. Robert Bentley by a relatively stiff 56-44 percent margin. Interestingly, Bentley only secured second place by a 166-vote spread in the statewide contest. We’ll see on Nov. 5 whether the first-place qualifier breaks the majority barrier or if history will repeat itself.

West Virginia

Now that Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D) is a formal US Senate candidate and will challenge Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2) for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D), Public  Continue reading >

Lost and Found in Massachusetts and West Virginia

In Election Analysis on September 17, 2013 at 8:10 am

Massachusetts

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) might be remembered as the candidate who “blew” the special election to then-state Sen. Scott Brown (R) in the early 2010 battle to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D). Her campaign became famous for its futility, and she was routinely disparaged throughout state and national Democratic circles.

But the 2010 election cycle was not a total wash out for Coakley. After losing the special election, she immediately announced a run for re-election to her current post, and won another term as Attorney General in a 61-36 percent landslide.

Now, with Gov. Deval Patrick (D) not seeking re-election, Coakley is again attempting to win a more prominent political position. Yesterday, she announced her campaign for governor.

Coakley has strong Democratic opposition, however. State Treasurer Steve Grossman is already in the race, as is Juliette Kayyem, a former Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary, pharmaceutical executive Joe Avellone, and former Medicare/Medicaid administrator Don Berwick. The winner will oppose 2010 Republican gubernatorial nominee Charlie Baker, who came within five points of unseating incumbent Patrick. Therefore, no candidate has an easy path to the Massachusetts state house.

West Virginia

The Democrats finally have a West Virginia senatorial candidate. Months after Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D) announced that he would not seek re-election, the party has found its potential successor. Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, long believed the Democrats’ best available candidate, yesterday announced her statewide challenge.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2), who made public her own candidacy even before Rockefeller proclaimed his decision to retire, is the consensus Republican candidate and the early race leader.

West Virginia has been trending Republican since the 2000 presidential campaign when Al Gore failed to carry the state for the  Continue reading >

West Virginia Numbers; Ilinois Developments

In Governor, Senate on September 3, 2013 at 11:03 am

For an open Senate race in a cycle where the majority is up for grabs, the West Virginia effort to replace the retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D) has attracted little attention. This is largely due to the fact that Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2) is the only major announced candidate from either party. Considering how political events have unfolded here to date, the Mountaineer State contest appears to be the best Republican conversion opportunity in the country.

The biggest Democratic name who could still become a Senate candidate is Secretary of State Natalie Tennant. She has yet to enter the campaign, but is reportedly at the top of national Democratic recruitment lists for the state.

Testing a hypothetical Capito-Tennant pairing, R.L. Repass & Partners, a Charleston-based survey research organization, went into the field (Aug. 15-22; 400 registered West Virginia voters) and found a potentially close political battle. According to the results, Capito would lead Tennant only 45-40 percent, but certain methodology points need addressing and explaining.

First, the eight-day polling period is much longer than normal and tends to weaken reliability. Most pollsters attempt to complete the questioning process within three days.

Second, the sample size of 400 is slightly low for a statewide campaign, understanding that West Virginia is a small state. This, too, decreases reliability.

Third, according to local analysts, 53 percent of the polling sample self-identifies as college graduates, yet only 17 percent of the actual residents fit into that category using the 2010 US Census figures as the benchmark source.

Similarly, 54 percent of the polling respondents reported an annual income of greater than $50,000, while only 26 percent of statewide residents fall into that category.

How the skewing affects the ballot test remains to be seen. In the past two cycles, Republicans have fared poorly with college-educated voters so, at least on face value, such a skew probably improves Democrat Tennant’s polling standing. Likewise, when examining West Virginia voting behavior since 2000, skewing with a higher income sample also probably helps the Democrat candidate.
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Another Declines a Senate Run

In Senate on May 14, 2013 at 10:12 am

On the heels of representatives John Barrow (D-GA-12), Steve King (R-IA-4), and Tom Price (R-GA-6) all declining to run for the US Senate just within the last week, former South Dakota representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD-AL) followed the trend yesterday by announcing that she, too, will remain on the political sidelines next year.

Though the Democrats are in an underdog position in trying to save retiring Sen. Tim Johnson’s (D) Senate seat, survey research and local political activists and analysts alike projected the former congresswoman to be the party’s strongest open seat candidate.

But the person viewed as the Democrats’ second-best contender, US Attorney Brendan Johnson, the retiring senator’s son, may also decline to run. More information is forthcoming that suggests Johnson, in fact, will not enter the race. Should such conjecture prove true, the Democrats will be without a top-tier candidate to protect a seat they currently possess.

The party’s one announced candidate, Rick Weiland, a former staffer for Sen. Tom Daschle (D), gave further indication that Brendan Johnson will not make the race. Telling reporters that he would not be running if he believed Johnson would become a candidate, Weiland faces a major challenge just to be considered viable.

On the Republican side, former two-term governor Mike Rounds has been running since the 2012 election ended. Rounds quickly made his intention clear, and declared for the seat months before Sen. Johnson made his decision to retire. Now that the senator is out of the race, and Herseth Sandlin and Brendan Johnson are declining to run, Rounds is in an even stronger position.

Clearly the South Dakota seat is one of two Democratic states that the Republicans, in the early going, are becoming prohibitive favorites to convert. The other is the open West Virginia, where Rep. Shelley Moore  Continue reading >

Sen. Rockefeller To Retire

In Senate on January 14, 2013 at 11:06 am
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)

At the end of last week, West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) became the first 2014 election cycle senator to announce that he will not seek re-election. The move is not a surprise, particularly in light of his age (77, at the time of the next election), the attacks he’s launched on his home state coal industry, previously Democratic West Virginia now swinging decidedly toward Republicans, and looking at a tough new opponent in the guise of Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2) who announced her own senatorial bid earlier this month.

Rockefeller will leave the Senate after he completes his fifth term. Prior to serving in Washington, the senator was a two-term governor, secretary of state, and member of the House of Delegates. In all, when his current term ends at the beginning of 2015, he will have served 48 of his last 52 years in public office.
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