Arizona: First Three Way Poll Shows Sinema Faltering: Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) released the results of his internal Public Policy Polling survey (12/19-20; 678 AZ registered voters) that tested himself, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I), and former Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake if she were to run for the Senate. According to the PPP results, the situation is poor for Sen. Sinema. The ballot test breaks 42-41-13% in favor of Ms. Lake. Rep. Gallego would take 41%. Sen. Sinema pulls only 13% support from the at-large sampling universe with an upside-down favorability index of 31:47% positive to negative.
While it appears that she would lose a general election at this point in time, Sen. Sinema’s situation is not as dire as this poll seemingly suggests. In a race where the two major party candidates almost equally divide the non-Sinema vote, as this early poll result projects, the incumbent would have to reach only the low 30s in support to win a plurality election as opposed to obtaining a majority. Therefore, Sen. Sinema increasing her support by a factor of 20 points in two years is certainly attainable.
Utah: Sen. Romney Considers Second Term: Utah Sen. Mitt Romney (R) says he is considering seeking re-election in 2024 and will make a decision in the early part of next year. Considering his poor standing within the Republican base, many believe the Senator, who will be 77 years old at the time of the next election, will retire.
Should he run again, however, Sen. Romney would almost assuredly have to access the primary election ballot through the petition process. Under the Utah election system, candidates can advance through the party convention or petition signatures. Due to his alienating the powerful conservative Utah GOP wing with his more centrist voting record, it is probable that Sen. Romney could not come through a party convention. Should he access the ballot through petition, it is virtually assured that he would face primary competition from at least one GOP candidate, and possibly two, whom the convention delegates would advance into a June 2024 nomination election.
Should Sen. Romney move forward with a re-election campaign, we can expect a very interesting Utah Republican 2024 party convention and primary nomination cycle.
Arizona: Sinema Being Cut-Off: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema leaving the Democratic Party to become an Independent is already having reverberations pertaining to her 2024 re-election campaign. Already two of her consulting firms have left her, understanding that they would be eliminated from consideration for contracts within the Democratic Party establishment for servicing a candidate who is not a member of the party. According to a report from the Huffington Post, the data firm that controls the national Democratic Party voter file will now deny the Sinema campaign access to their services after January 31st.
These developments are not surprising since she will no longer be a Democrat, but further underscores that she will not caucus with the Democratic conference, a move that the Senate’s other two Independents, Bernie Sanders (VT) and Angus King (ME) continue to make. Therefore, the latter two are treated as Democratic incumbents in relation to consultant contracts and party resources.
Therefore, forfeiting these types of resources will leave Sen. Sinema on her own as she mounts a re-election effort. Obviously, she knew this would happen when making the decision to become an Independent, and these latest developments further suggest that we will see a true three-way 2024 race among Sinema and eventual Democratic and Republican nominees.
VA-4: Counting Begins, No Tabulations Released: Despite monumental societal technology improvements that we ubiquitously experience, vote counting continues to return to a bygone era. Yesterday, it was announced that counting of the more than 26,400 ballots cast in the VA-4 Democratic firehouse primary for the special election to replace the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond) will take some days.
The local party reported that just five volunteers are handling the counting, and completed about 4,000 ballots yesterday. No results were released, however. Some numbers may trickle out after today’s counting.
The two leading candidates for the Democratic nomination, state Sens. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) and Joseph Morrissey (D-Richmond), are expected to battle for the nomination victory among the four candidates on the ballot. The Democratic nominee will have the inside track toward winning the February 21st special election. The Republican nominee is the party’s previous congressional candidate and local pastor Leon Benjamin. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the 4th District as D+30.
Gallup Survey: Republicans Better Viewed: The well-known Gallup research organization continually polls the country, testing and monitoring the electorate’s responses to issues of the day along with analyzing voting trends.
In a surprising post-election survey series result, considering the Republicans generally under-performed expectations in the November election, Gallup finds that a plurality of their latest national poll respondents (post-election poll; 11/9-12-9; 1,000 US adult respondents, part of the ongoing Gallup Poll Social Series project originally began in 2001) find the GOP in a slightly more favorable position than the Democratic Party.
According to this latest data, the Republican Party records a 42% favorable view within the sampling universe as compared to 39% who have a similar view of the Democratic Party. The number is the opposite of Gallup’s average since this question was first tested in 2011. During the overall time period between 2011 and the present, the Democrats hold a 44-40% average advantage on the favorability question.
Vermont: Dean of Senate Makes Farewell Speech: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) was first elected in 1974 and went onto win seven more statewide elections. He is the third longest serving Senator in the history of the United States, in office for 48 years, and now is retiring as a historic figure in American politics. Mr. Leahy made his farewell speech on the Senate floor yesterday in the waning days of his final term. The new dean of the Senate will be Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) who was first elected in 1980. Two other top ten Senators in seniority, Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) are also retiring when this Congress officially ends at the end of the year.
VA-4: Counting Doesn’t Begin Until Today: The Democrats held their “firehouse primary” yesterday to choose a special election nominee to succeed the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond) but considering we now regularly see the slow counting of votes during the present political period, the tabulation process will not begin until later today.
State Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) is the party leadership’s choice and faces a challenge from controversial state Sen. Joseph Morrissey (D-Richmond) who was once convicted of having sexual relations with a minor, a girl who he later married, was summarily forced to resign his seat in the House of Delegates but then won it back as an Independent in the special election to elect a successor. He later resigned again and moved into a Richmond Senate district where he would then defeat a Democratic incumbent. Former state Del. Joe Preston and businessman Tavorice Marks are also in the race.
The Democratic winner will face the new Republican nominee, pastor Leon Benjamin who has twice been the GOP’s congressional candidate in this district. In a D+30 district according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization, the winner of this Democratic nomination has the clear inside track for the special election on February 21st.
Speaker Race: McCarthy Vote Count Appearing Weak: More media attention is being paid to the impending Speaker’s race to be settled when the new House convenes on January 3rd. Earlier in the week, Speaker-Designate Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who has the official Republican conference nomination for Speaker by virtue of winning a 188-31-5 vote in defeating Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs and others, released a list of his strongest supporters. For his part, Mr. Biggs pledges to challenge Mr. McCarthy in the January roll call vote signaling the beginning of the Congress.
Mr. McCarthy’s list of his strongest supporters, those who say they will vote for no other in what could become a lengthy process should the Speaker election progress through multiple rounds, is smaller than one would have otherwise surmised. The total only identified 54 such Republican members, not even a full quarter of the conference. Some believe this number signifies weakness as opposed strength. In the Fox News article published yesterday, the reports suggest the number of Republican members who could vote for someone else on the floor could be as high as 20, though only five have publicly expressed at least preliminary public opposition.
The last time a Speaker election went multiple rounds occurred in 1923. The voting will continue until some candidate receives majority support of the present and voting House members. No doubt, this will be the most interesting Speaker election we will have witnessed to date in the modern political era.
Chicago: Mayor Lightfoot Drops to Third in New Poll: A M3 Strategies poll for news channel Fox32 in Chicago (12/11-13; 440 Chicago likely municipal election voters; SMS web to text) finds Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) dropping to third place in anticipation of the February 28th non-partisan jungle primary election. In this system, only the top two finishers would advance to an April 4th runoff election from the field of nine contenders if no individual receives a majority from the initial vote.
The M3 ballot test result sees US Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago) leading the field at 28% support with former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas in second place with 19% preference. Mayor Lightfoot is in third position posting only 14% backing for a second term. The Mayor points out that she was at 1% in polling this time four years ago.
Mississippi: Potential GOP Primary Challenge Brewing: The Politics1.com site is reporting that GOP Secretary of State Michael Watson is polling the state to test his chances against Gov. Tate Reeves in the upcoming 2023 Republican gubernatorial primary. In 2019, Mr. Reeves, then the state’s Lt. Governor, defeated former state Supreme Court Associate Justice Bill Waller Jr., 49-33%. Mr. Waller was a 22-year veteran of the high court half of which he spent as Chief Justice.
Mr. Reeves would then win the general election against four-term Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood by a tighter 52-47% count. In a state where the GOP is the dominant party, the Republican primary is likely to be Gov. Reeves’ toughest re-election test next year.
North Carolina: Lt. Gov. Robinson Way Up in Early GOP Polling: The Differentiators Data firm conducted an early 2024 North Carolina Republican gubernatorial poll (12/8-11; 500 NC Republican primary voters; live interview & text) and found Lt. Governor Mark Robinson in very strong position as speculation begins regarding who will run for what will be an open Tar Heel State Governor’s position in 2024. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is ineligible to seek a third term.
Against former Governor and 2022 US Senate candidate Pat McCrory, Lt. Governor Robinson would lead 60-21%. If ex-Congressman and 2022 US Senate candidate Mark Walker (R) were his opponent, Lt. Gov. Robinson would lead by a whopping 58-8%. Finally, if state Treasurer Dale Folwell were Mr. Robinson’s Republican primary opponent, the Lt. Gov. would lead by an even larger 60-6% margin.
Differentiators did not test the candidates in a multi-candidate format. None of the individuals paired with Mr. Robinson have indicated that they would run for Governor. In fact, after this year’s Senate primary, Mr. McCrory indicated that he would not again pursue public office. The polling firm also did not test a potential Democratic field.
Ohio: Former Senate Candidate Preparing Another Run: State Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) who placed third in the 2022 Republican US Senate primary, finishing nine percentage points from the lead, is reportedly building another campaign operation to this time challenge Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) in the next election. Sen. Dolan, a minority owner of the Cleveland Guardians baseball club and chairman of the state Senate’s Finance Committee, spent over $11 million on his 2022 campaign, almost $8 million from his personal finances. He began the race as a minor candidate but finished strong, making himself a viable contender as the primary campaign drew to a close.
Sen. Dolan is likely to be a stronger GOP nomination contender in 2024 in what is likely to be a crowded primary, but would have a tough run in the general election against Sen. Brown who will be running for his fourth term after originally being elected to the statewide post in 2006. Prior to his tenure in the Senate, Sen. Brown served seven terms in the US House and eight years as Ohio’s Secretary of State
VA-4: Republicans Choose Special Election Nominee: Republicans re-nominated their 2020 and 2022 candidate in the December 17th “firehouse primary” through Ranked Choice Voting. The local 4th District Republican Party leadership did not release the actual results, only to say that pastor and US Navy veteran Leon Benjamin had defeated former Mecklenburg School Board member Dale Sturdifen, and non-profit advocacy organization director Derrick Hollie. Mr. Benjamin now advances to the February 21st special general election to replace the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond). He will again be a decided underdog in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates D+30.
The Democratic firehouse primary will be held tomorrow. Four candidates filed to run: state Sens. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) and Joseph Morrisey (D-Richmond), former state Delegate Joseph Preston, and businessman Tavorise Marks. While the special election will be held in late February, Gov. Glenn Younkin’s (R) call required the parties to choose nominees by December 23rd.
In another development, Colette McEachin, the late Congressman’s widow, announced her endorsement of Sen. McClellan, joining most of the Virginia Democratic establishment who has already done so.
The Rundown Blog
Learn more about the candidates running in key elections across the United States.