April 16, 2014
More and more, voters believe the only thing that matters is whether or not a candidate is a Democrat or a Republican. Some even see it as a game of R's versus D's-with the Republican team leading the U.S. House with 240 players to the Democrat's 192, while the Democrats lead the U.S. Senate by four seats over the Republicans. In a game like this, voters are distracted from a candidate's platform on important issues and instead base their decisions on party ties. A primary election does not change the score of the game, but it does determine the caliber of the party's player come November. As primary elections continue, it's time to shift focus away from partisanship and toward the important issues affecting our nation and our economy.
It is time to get involved in the primary and become educated on primary candidate platforms. By doing this, voters will be able to shape the general election ballot. Let's make the primaries PRIMARY.
Primary election turnout has historically been lower than general election turnout-despite the fact that primary results directly determine the general election ballot. Average voter turnout in the 2012 statewide primaries slumped to the lowest level since presidential primaries proliferated in 1972. Based on the 41 states which held statewide primaries in both parties, turnout was 17.3%, a 40-point underdog to the nearly 60% turnout in the actual presidential elections1. In order for the November ballot to accurately represent the voice of a candidate's district, voter turnout must be strong in the primary election.
Low primary turnout means that less of the electorate has shaped the general election ballot.
Primary election voters tend to be more radical voters who support their candidate regardless of electability in the general election2. In recent years, U.S. House and Senate primary election candidates who were considered more ideologically-extreme, defeated well-established and comparatively moderate candidates. For example, in 2012 Tea Party candidates, Richard Mourdock (IN), Sharron Angle (NV), and Ken Buck (CO) all who triumphed in primary elections over more mainstream candidates, proved unpalatable to the general electorate in November and were not elected to office.
Primary election participation is especially pertinent to ensure the best viable candidate in each party is on the ballot for the general election.
Primary election voters determine the caliber of candidates for November's ballot while general election voters tend to vote along party lines. Furthermore, because approximately 60% of congressional districts are not swing districts3, a dominant party's primary candidate who makes it to the November ballot will most likely be elected. These primary elections are especially competitive in the advantaged party of constituencies in which one party has a clear advantage in terms of voter loyalties.
It's time to make the primary election the important election. Learn about the primary elections in your district and educate yourself on your primary candidate's platform. Together, we can shape the November ballot and bring the focus back to electing candidates based on their stance on the issues important to our success.
April 9, 2014
The cost of elections is increasing. Swing districts and voters are decreasing. Billions of dollars are being spent to target a smaller and smaller number of voters.
The 2014 elections are projected to be the most expensive midterms to date. Each election cycle, the cost of elections increases substantially. In 1998, candidates, parties and outside groups spent $1.6 billion total on Congressional races. By 2012, that figure more than doubled to $3.7 billion and is expected to rise again in 2014.
Counterintuitively, while election spending increases each cycle, there are fewer swing seats and competitive races taking place. According to the Cook Political Report Partisan Voter Index, there were 164 swing seats in the House in 1998. By 2013, that had dropped to 90. Even fewer, maybe 20-30, are actually competitive.
It isn't just the reduced number of competitive seats, there are fewer and fewer swing voters available to be persuaded in the competitive elections that DO exist. BIPAC uses a formula to determine the number of true swing voters in a given state or district. Over the last eight years, we take the lowest performance of ANY Republican and the lowest performance of ANY Democratic candidate and assign that low-water mark as a partisan baseline. We estimate the number of votes likely to be cast in 2014 and subtract the percentage that is base Republican and base Democratic and are left with the number of real swing votes in a state. You can see from the chart below that a very small number of votes are actually at play in the most competitive Senate races. In several states, the swing voters represent less than 20% of expected turnout. Only 13% of expected voters in NC are swing, 12% in GA, 18% in AK and 12% in CO. More money may be pouring into races, but there are increasingly fewer voters to persuade.
March 12, 2014
In a race that polls had neck and neck through Election Day, David Jolly was declared the winner of the special election in Florida's 13th district to replace deceased Congressman Bill Young. Republican David Jolly won by approximately 3500 votes out of over 183,000 votes cast against former state CFO and 2010 Gubernatorial candidate Democrat Alex Sink. Unofficial results had the final tally at 48.5% for Jolly and 46.5% for Sink with the balance for the Libertarian candidate.
Going into Election Day, 125,000 votes had already been cast through early or absentee voting in the Tampa-area district, with Republicans casting 4600 more than Democrats (though WHO the votes were for is obviously not known). This mirrored the registration percentages in the district which has 37% registered Republicans, 35% Democrats and 24% Independents. It was a district that Obama carried narrowly in both 2008 and 2012.
More than any shift in the balance of power in the House, the race represented a first test of messaging and tactics in a swing area for both parties. Both parties invested heavily to test advertising themes and hoped to gain momentum heading into the summer campaign season. Over $5 million was spent on behalf of Jolly while almost $4 million was spent to support Sink.
Ultimately, the campaign does little to change the dynamics of Congress for the remainder of the year and there will likely be a rematch in the general election in November with wider turnout. It is impossible to predict at this point which candidate benefits. With a virtual tie going into Election Day in both polling and, more importantly, early votes cast, the "on the ground" turnout efforts made the difference.
March 5, 2014
The political landscape has shifted pretty dramatically in just the last two months. Since January 1, numerous additional retirements have been announced and several candidates have picked up significant new challengers. There are now 38 House retirements, including several of the Congress' longest-serving members, many in districts that will not be competitive in a general election. While some of these districts have heirs apparent, many do not and it is in these primaries where votes will really count.
Many of the House retirements or resignations over the last eight weeks have come in strongly Democratic-leaning districts. Some races already have likely replacements lined up, including long-serving members, George Miller (CA-31) and John Dingell (MI-12) (State Senator Mark DeSaulnier the likely replacement in California and Rep. Dingell's wife, Debbie Dingell, in Michigan). Most open seats already have crowded, competitive primaries. These include Rob Andrews (NJ-1), Mel Watt (NC-12), Rush Holt (NJ-12), Carolyn McCarthy (NY-4), Jim Moran (VA-8), Gloria Negrete McLeod (CA-35), Ed Pastor (AZ-7), and Henry Waxman (CA-33). In NJ-1, state Sen. Donald Norcross has gathered support from Rep. Andrews, along with other top ranking state Democrats, but faces a primary challenge from Mayor Frank Minor. Both NC-12 and NJ-12 have a large field of Democratic candidates, including several state representatives and senators. Expect both primaries to be competitive.
In McCarthy's open seat, Democrats seem to be rallying around Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice, though others are still considering getting into the race, including Nassau Legislative Minority Leader Kevin Abrahams. Moran's open seat in Virginia is another district with an extremely crowded primary. The early frontrunner is former Lieutenant Governor and car dealership owner Don Beyer. The race for McLeod's open seat is just shaping up, but state Senator Norma Torres has already announced her bid. Pastor's open seat in Arizona has gained several candidates, and it is even rumored that Congresswoman Sinema (AZ-9) may switch to the solidly Democratic 7th seat to run in 2014. In CA-33, two frontrunners have emerged from the crowded race: former Los Angeles Controller Wendy Greuel and state Senator Ted Lieu.
In addition, there have been a handful of recently announced retirements (and one resignation) in solidly Republican districts including Trey Radel (FL-19), Cory Gardner (CO-4) and Buck McKeon (CA-25). Radel's Florida seat will be filled by special election, where several candidates have announced, including state Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto. The race to replace Gardner, who is running for Senate, is still in the early stages, though Ken Buck who was running for Senate, has dropped his bid and will now run for Gardner's seat. McKeon is retiring from Congress and former state Sen. Tony Strickland (R) is running for his seat in this Republican-favored district.
In the Senate, a few races have changed dramatically over the past few weeks. Senator Pat Roberts' challenge from physician and Tea Party candidate Milton Wolf became more competitive than expected, though the race remains in Roberts' favor. The Mississippi Senate race is one of the most competitive Republican primaries to watch in 2014. Additionally, Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner's (R) announcement that he will challenge Sen. Udall (D) made that race suddenly competitive. The Virginia Senate race is one that also may move into the competitive category as Republican Ed Gillespie's campaign continues to take shape.
While the broad strokes remain the same - the Republicans have a reasonable shot at taking the Senate majority and are expected to hold the House or possibly extend their majority - the details of who will be sitting in Congress have been shaken up over the past 8 weeks. This shifting political landscape presents a number of crowded and competitive primaries.
February 19, 2014
With a handful of exceptions, the most competitive and consequential primaries are in the Republican Party this cycle. The Democrats have cleared the field for their chosen nominee in their most competitive Senate races without an incumbent. In South Dakota, Michigan, Montana, Georgia, West Virginia, Iowa, and Kentucky, none of the Democrats face a competitive primary. Additionally, no Senate Democratic incumbents face significant primary opposition, except in Hawaii where Rep. Colleen Hanabusa is challenging Senator Brian Schatz. Several of the challenger and open seat Republican races have significant primaries as well.
Let's take a look at the most consequential primaries of 2014.
Republican Senate Primaries:
Iowa: This primary has become a 3 way race between state Senator Joni Ernst, former Reliant Energy CEO Mark Jacobs, and US Attorney and former University of Iowa football star Matt Whitaker. There are several additional candidates with niche followings who could have a big impact here though. If no candidate receives at least 35% of the vote in the primary, the nomination is determined by convention and delegates are allowed to select anyone they choose, not being limited to the top vote getters or even candidates who ran in the primary.
Georgia: With eight names on the ballot and a conceivable path to victory for several of the candidates, this primary is one of the toughest in the country. Three sitting members of Congress are running - Jack Kingston, Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey each have geographic voter and fundraising foundations. Former Reebok and Dollar General CEO David Perdue (cousin of former Governor Sonny Perdue) has personal resources and the mantle of political outsider to boost his chances. Former Secretary of State Karen Handel is the only woman in the field and only candidate to have run and won statewide.
Alaska: Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell faces former DNR Director Dan Sullivan for the right to take on Democrat Senator Mark Begich. Sullivan has jumped to an impressive fundraising lead but Treadwell maintains name ID advantage from serving in statewide office and current polls show the primary to be a dead heat. 2010 Tea Party nominee Joe Miller is also running but has raised little money and has done himself few favors with the voters since upsetting Lisa Murkowski in the primary in that year. To complicate matters further, a wholly separate Dan Sullivan currently serves as mayor of Fairbanks, the state's second largest city, and is also on the ballot, running for Lt. Governor.
House Democrat Primaries:
IA-1: In the open seat to replace Bruce Braley who is running for Senate, we see a seat that is likely to remain in Democratic hands in the general election. In the Democratic primary, former state Senator Swati Dandekar is running in addition to veteran state Rep. Pat Murphy and Cedar Rapids Councilwoman Monica Vernon. The winner is likely to take on Republican state Rep. Walt Rogers in the general election.
CA-33: Henry Waxman's announced retirement opens this Los Angeles area seat for the first time in generations. State Senator Ted Lieu and former Los Angeles Controller Wendy Gruel have jumped to the early lead in this heavily Democratic seat. Lieu is expected to receive the state Democratic Party's endorsement at their March 9th Convention. Gruel has been endorsed by Emily's List, former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and AG Kamala Harris. Local businessman Bill Bloomfield, who won 46% of the vote as an Independent against Waxman in 2012, has announced he will not run again.
House Republican Primaries:
MI-3: Congressman Justin Amash, a Tea Party hero, is being challenged by businessman Brian Ellis in this Grand Rapids district. Amash has opposed Boehner for Speaker and been very publically vocal in his criticism of the Republican establishment for not going far enough to support Tea Party ideals.
ID-2: Congressman Mike Simpson is being challenged by Tea Party candidate and lawyer Bryan Smith in the Republican primary. Smith has criticized Simpson for not reflecting the conservative values of the district and for his positions, such as voting to end the government shutdown.
TN-4: Scandal plagued Rep. Scott DesJarlais is being challenged in the primary by former insurance agent and state Senator Jim Tracy. Tracy is currently leading DesJarlais in fundraising.
GA-10: The 10th district is solidly Republican and the competitive election will be the GOP primary. There are several candidates already in the race, including evangelical minister and Tea Party talk show host Jody Hice, businessman Mike Collins, former state Rep. Donna Sheldon, Columbia County GOP Chair Brian Slowinksi, attorney Gary Gerrard, and businessman Stephen Simpson. There are no clear frontrunners right now, but watch out for Hice, Sheldon, and Collins who are all running well.
IA-3: The 3rd district is a crossover district that voted for a Republican Congressman in 2012, but went to President Obama by 4 pts. It is the most competitive district in Iowa. The Democratic frontrunner appears to be state Senator Staci Appel, who had entered the race before Latham announced his retirement. On the Republican side, there are several candidates including frontrunners former Chief of Staff to Sen. Grassley, David Young, state Senator Brad Zaun and Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz. Like in the Senate race, Republicans will hold a nominating convention if no candidate receives more than 35% of the vote in the primary. With the large number of candidates in the GOP primary, it may be hard to avoid the convention, making it more likely that Iowa Republicans could choose a more ideologue, conservative candidate that may struggle in the general election. Right now this race is a tossup.
ME-02: This is an open seat, with Democratic Rep. Michaud running for Governor. The district leans Democratic, but has a credible Republican candidate, former state Senate President and businessman Kevin Raye. Raye currently leads the polls in the primary and general. He has a primary challenger, former treasurer Bruce Poliquin. The frontrunners on the Democratic side are state Sen. Emily Cain and state Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson.
VA-10: Republican Congressman Frank Wolf is retiring, setting off a competitive race in the 10th district primary and general elections. The frontrunner on the Republican side is state Delegate Barbara Comstock. She will face several candidates, including social conservative state Delegate Bob Marshall in the firehouse primary.
IL-13: Freshman Rep. Rodney Davis is being challenged in the primary and general election. He won in 2012 with less than 1% of the vote. This is a swing district that went to President Obama in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. Davis faces Former Miss America Erika Harold in the GOP primary.
January 22, 2014
An outbreak of retirement fever has struck Washington. So far 8 US Senators have announced retirement (though no more Senate retirements are expected). On the House side, there are 30 members who will not be running for their old seat and more are expected over the coming months. Of those 30, 16 are retiring and 14 are running for other office. Out of 435 seats, 30 retirements may not seem like a lot, but it is a matter of WHO is retiring that should be concerning to the business community. The wave of retirements from centrist-oriented consensus builders started in 2012 and unfortunately continues this election cycle. 2012 saw Senate retirements from consensus builders such as Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Jim Webb (D-VA).
One of the most striking similarities of all the retirement announcements this year is that they come largely from members who were the most likely to seek compromise and reach across the aisle to get things done. In the Senate, Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Max Baucus (D-MT), and Tim Johnson (D-SD) regularly sat on bi-partisan boards or study committees tasked with finding consensus on issues as varied as immigration, the budget, debt ceiling, and entitlement reform. Similarly in the House, consensus-builders such as Jim Matheson (D-UT 4), Mike McIntyre (D-NC 7), Jon Runyan (R-NJ 3), Tom Latham (R-IA 3), Frank Wolf (R-VA 10), and Jim Gerlach (R-PA 6) are all going to be missing from the Chamber next year. Jo Bonner (R-AL 1), Spencer Bachus (R-AL 6), Bill Owens (D-NY 21), Howard Coble (R-NC 6), Buck McKeon (R-CA 25), and John Campbell (R-CA 45) were all consensus builders as well. None are running for other office, they are all just leaving Washington.
In an era of hyper partisanship and gridlock, these members were at the forefront of maintaining the civility and functionality of Congress. While every one of these members have individual reasons for retiring from Congress, one of the things heard most frequently in off the record conversations is that they are fed up with the inability of Congress to work together and the partisan gridlock that is so frustrating to Americans outside of the beltway as well. All in all, 2012 saw 10 Senate retirements and 25 House retirements (additional House members ran for other offices) and in almost every single case, the retiring member has been replaced by someone less likely to reach across the aisle, someone MORE partisan than the member who retired.
While campaign consultants and ideologues may cheer the decline of bipartisan cooperation, it is bad news for the business community and we have seen the results. No formal budget for three years, constant threats to default on US debt, wholesale abandonment of issues such as tax reform, immigration reform, patent reform, intellectual property protections, etc. It is the very people who left Congress in 2012 and are leaving at the end of 2014 that gave even a glimmer of hope to such things.
January 8, 2014
There are a number of legislative items that members of both parties acknowledge need to be addressed. Implementation of ObamaCare. Immigration reform. Tax code and entitlement reform. A long term solution to the debt ceiling crisis. Privacy security. Patent reform. Trade. With all of these issues, the public increasingly frustrated with gridlock in Washington, and an election coming up where Congress will want to be able to talk about their accomplishments, we should expect to see some major legislative action in 2014, right? Wrong. Well, mostly wrong. There is actually a glimmer of hope that 2014 will produce more than 2013. Though, that's a bit like saying "we scored zero points last game and expect to do better than that this time."
The reason that Congress hasn't accomplished much since 2010 is the same reason we don't expect to see much more in 2014. With the House in the hands of Republicans and the Senate and White House controlled by Democrats, and each side increasingly responsive to the most ideological polarizing parts of their base, they disagree on how to proceed. Both sides understand the things that need to be addressed, but there is zero consensus on how to do it.
The ObamaCare debate is a prime example. Not a single Republican in either chamber voted for original passage though many key features of the legislation were included in previous GOP health care reform bills. Once Republicans took the House in 2010, GOP leadership took the position that repeal of the legislation in total was the only option and have refused to offer or support tweaks or fixes to problems. The Republicans believe "it's not possible to 'fix' something fundamentally incompatible with our ideology." Politically, they also believe if the legislation fails they will benefit and thus have little political incentive to improve the law. From their perspective, it is BETTER politically to have as many things go wrong with ObamaCare as possible.
This same standoff occurs on issue after issue - taxes, immigration, entitlement reform, etc. But, it is a new year and in our optimistic resolutions, we see some possibility of federal action on a handful of bills. There was a small bright spot in December when a two year budget compromise passed that would avoid the possibility of a shutdown and eliminated some of the most irrational sequester cuts. This rare bipartisan effort was criticized by many however as small ball for not addressing bigger, long term issues. Even still, it was the best that could be achieved in the current gridlock environment.
The environment is also different than it was in 2013. At that time, Democrats were emboldened by the President's popularity and felt little need to compromise, believing they had received a mandate from the 2012 elections to do as they wanted. With the President's approval ratings significantly lower now, the confidence to act as boldly is similarly evaporating. Conversely, Republicans spent 2013 in fear of retribution from the Tea Party. Now, Boehner in the House and McConnell in the Senate have openly broken ranks with the Tea Party and seem almost eager to act in ways that show consensus.
The budget deal and the changed political environment provide the foundation for some compromise legislation to take place on issues that need to be addressed. Small, incremental changes to a handful of issues is possible, likely driven by the middle. We may see some movement on immigration, trade, patent reform, etc; even if more contentious things like tax reform remain unlikely. This is where the business community can lead the way.
While many would like to see more comprehensive solutions and small, incremental changes to immigration or ObamaCare implementation may not be at the top of your industry agenda, we are dealing with a situation where NOTHING has been getting done and we need to make an effort to support and reward even baby steps at basic government functionality. Only then will members of Congress have the political courage to attempt larger, more comprehensive changes and take a look at issues that ARE at the forefront of your industry agenda. It is a shame that we have reached this point where expectations for our Congressional "leaders" is so low but they have demonstrated over the last three years that nothing else can be expected from divided government driven by ideological extremes. We can and should work to change THAT dynamic as well, but for the immediate legislative year, we must play the cards we have been dealt and those have been shown to bear very meager return, but there is hope. Happy New Year!
December 4, 2013
With 2013 coming to a close, the attention now turns to 2014 and the Senate midterm elections. Currently controlled by the Democrats, 2014 presents an opportunity for the Republican Party to change control of the chamber, given the high number of Democratic seats up for re-election. The current Senate is split with 53 Democrats, 45 Republicans, and two Independents who caucus with the Democrats, essentially 55-45. There are 35 races in 2014 and Republicans must win 6 seats total (in addition to defending all current seats) to win the majority.
Republicans are optimistic of their chances because 7 of the Democratic seats up in 2014 are in states that voted for Romney in 2012, including Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia. Three of these Senators have announced retirement making them open seats - Baucus (D-MT), Johnson (D-SD), and Rockefeller (D-WV). This leaves challenger races for Republicans in Arkansas, Alaska, Louisiana, and North Carolina. Additional open Democratic held seats are in the Obama carried states of Iowa and Michigan and there are 2 Republican retirements but both in the Romney carried states of Georgia and Nebraska. In total, there are the 7 Democratic held seats in Romney won states and 2 additional open seats in Iowa and Michigan that Republicans see as the most likely pick up opportunities.
The Democrats may be on the defensive this cycle, but Republicans will face their own challenges going into 2014. Democrats are eying challenges in the open seat in Georgia and possible challenges in Obama won states like Maine, as well as in Kentucky against Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell. Furthermore, the 2 Republican open sets, Georgia and Nebraska, will have Republican primaries where out of the mainstream candidates could turn the seats Democratic. This is similar to Indiana, Missouri, and Nevada in 2012 where Republicans felt confident of their opportunities prior to the general election.
While the election landscape for 2014 looks to benefit Republicans, there are several factors at play. The current congressional and political parties' favorability is dismal, and with a year out from the election, there is still a lot that can happen. Right now, Republicans are poised to gain seats in the Senate; though winning a net gain of 6 seats is still an uphill battle.
Among the most competitive seats:
Alaska - Currently represented by Democrat Mark Begich, the state voted for Romney with 55% of the vote and has a Republican Governor and other Senator. The Republican primary is between Lt. Governor Mark Treadwell, Dan Sullivan, and tea party candidate Joe Miller. Current polling has Begich running near even against either Treadwell or Sullivan but with a substantial lead against Miller.
Arkansas - Currently represented by Democrat Mark Pryor, the state voted for Romney with 61% of the vote. Congressman Tom Cotton has cleared the primary for the Republican nomination and polls show the two running neck and neck. Arkansas has a history of voting Republican for President, but electing Democrats to other offices, as the election of Pryor has demonstrated as well as current Democratic Governor Mike Beebe.
Georgia - Currently held by Republican Saxby Chambliss who has announced his retirement, this will be an open seat in a state carried by Romney with 53% of the vote. Democrats have cleared the primary field for Michelle Nunn, daughter of long time, highly respected Senator Sam Nunn. Republicans have an extremely crowded 8 person primary with 6 "legitimate" candidates with polling showing no clear front runner at this point. A bloody and highly unpredictable Republican primary and a strong Democratic candidate both make this a race to watch.
Iowa - Currently held by retiring Democrat Tom Harkin, Iowa voted for Obama with 52% of the vote. Like Arkansas, Iowa has a history of voting across party lines regularly with a long time Republican Governor and a very conservative Republican as one Senator and a liberal Democrat as the other. Democrats have cleared the primary field for Congressman Bruce Braley while Republicans face a crowded primary with at least 5 candidates, each positioning themselves in different ways. An unusual Republican nominating process could lead to any number of outcomes which could make this race highly competitive or make it likely to remain in Democratic hands depending on the GOP nominee.
Kentucky - Represented by Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, Democrats see this as an opportunity to "take down the leader" even though the state voted for Romney with 61% of the vote. The highly polarizing McConnell faces a primary challenge from a tea party backed candidate and a general election opponent in Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes who has cleared the primary field and is raising money from across the country as Democrats look for an opportunity to be on offense. Current polling has the general election very close.
Louisiana - Democrat Mary Landrieu is running for reelection in this state which gave Romney 58% of the vote. Republicans have two candidates running, Congressman Bill Cassidy, who is backed by the NRSC, and tea party backed Rob Maness. Louisiana's unique "jungle primary" system where all candidates run on the same primary ballot, regardless of party, gives Landrieu the opportunity to win the election outright if she garners over 50% of the vote at that point, while the Republican vote would be split between Cassidy and Maness. If she does not exceed 50%, she would go to a runoff with the next highest vote getter - a runoff which would work in the way a general election typically would. In a runoff scenario, current polling has her with a small lead over either challenger.
Michigan - With Democrat Carl Levin retiring, an open seat in this state carried by Obama with 54% of the vote represents another pick up opportunity for Republicans. Primaries in both parties have been cleared, leaving Republican Terri Lynn Land facing Democratic Congressman Gary Peters. Land won her election as Secretary of State by a greater margin than any Republican winner in Michigan history and is willing to partially self-fund the campaign. Current polling shows Peters with a 1-5 point lead a year out from the election.
Montana - Retiring Democrat Max Baucus represents this state carried by Romney with 55%, creating an open seat Republicans hope to pick up. Congressman Steve Daines has cleared the GOP primary field and will face either current Democratic Lt. Governor John Walsh or former Lt. Governor John Bohlinger. Polls currently show Daines with a substantial lead over either possible challenger.
North Carolina - Democratic Senator Kay Hagan is running for reelection in a state that was one of the closest in the last two Presidential elections. Republican State House Speaker Thom Tillis is facing tea party backed Dr. Greg Brannon and two others in a GOP primary. Polling shows a neck and neck race for Hagan whichever opponent she faces.
South Dakota - South Dakota is another open seat in a state carried by Romney with 58% of the vote. Democrat Tim Johnson is retiring, setting up a race between Democrat Rick Weiland and former Republican Governor Mike Rounds, who faces a tea party backed challenger, Dr. Annette Bosworth, in the primary. Polling shows a substantial lead for Rounds to turn this seat Republican.
West Virginia - The third Democratic held open seat in a state carried by Romney with 62% of the vote comes as Jay Rockefeller retires, leaving a race between Republican Congresswoman Shelly Moore Capito and Democratic Secretary of State Natalie Tennant. Despite heaving supporting Romney for President, West Virginia has two Democratic U.S. Senators and a Democratic Governor, showing a strong ability to cross party lines in elections. Even still, current polling shows Capito with a commanding lead.
November 20, 2013
Many have wondered what the impact of the government shutdown will be on the 2014 elections. Historically, such issues burn brightly in the media spotlight and quickly fade from voter's minds as more pressing, long term issues such as jobs, taxes, healthcare, education, etc. come to the fore. This is especially true when such an incident happens more than a year from the election. There are important landscape shifts that took place as a result of the shutdown, which are difficult to quantify in polls, but will likely play a large role in the 2014 elections. Chief among these are long term reputational damage to Washington, further fueling anti-incumbent sentiment and a more open war within the Republican party between the strongly anti-government faction and the pro-growth, pro-stability faction. The business community has begun to recognize the need to mobilize on behalf of pro-growth, pro-stability candidates where they are challenged by fervently anti-government candidates.
In terms of which party is held responsible for the government shutdown, the landscape has shifted quickly. Initial polling data indicated large majorities found Republicans in Congress to be primarily responsible. In the subsequent weeks however, voter's views of responsibility for the shutdown have shifted. In Virginia, a state particularly affected by the shutdown because of the large number of federal employees and contractors in the DC suburbs, exit polls from November 5th's Gubernatorial election showed that voters split almost evenly between holding Republicans in Congress and President Obama as primarily responsible for the shutdown. Voters who indicated that the shutdown directly affected their household (1/3 of all voters in Virginia) voted for the Democrat McAuliffe by a 56-37 margin. Voters not directly affected by the shutdown supported Cuccinelli 50-43. This would lead one to believe that being impacted by the shutdown trended against Republicans, but these voters are overwhelmingly concentrated in the Northern Virginia suburbs which has historically trended Democrat by such margins, so it is difficult to say that the shutdown extended Democratic margins beyond their normal parameters.
Who is More to Blame for the Government Shutdown?
Did the Shutdown Affect Anyone in Your Household?
Similarly, voters tended to break along predictable patterns in terms of which candidate they supported based on who they held primarily responsible, indicating that Republicans tend to blame Obama and vote for the Republican candidate and Democrats tend to blame Republicans for the shutdown and support the Democratic candidate. All of this contributes to the sense that, as an issue driving voting patterns, the shutdown and responsibility for it had faded to traditional partisan differences within a few weeks of being resolved, making it even less likely that it will play a role as a vote motivator in the 2014 elections for most voters.
While the effect of the shutdown on voting behavior may be minimal, there are more subtle changes that likely WILL impact the elections in significant ways.
Gallup reported large drops in approval ratings of Congress from September to October, dropping from 20% overall to 11%. The all-time low in the history of the poll is only 10%, reached in February and August of 2012. The abysmal view of Congress in general by the public, fueled in this case by the shutdown, contributes to a "pox on both their houses" mentality which puts incumbent members of both parties at risk and increases the appeal of "outsider" candidates in challenger or open seat races. If Congress continues the partisan gridlock and issues such as the government shutdown, possible debt default, the sequester, and other signs of an inability to handle basic functions of government continue, voters may move towards a "throw them all out" mentality and place more Congressional seats in the competitive category, but without a partisan tinge to the result.
The other primary result of the shutdown on the 2014 elections is being played out within the Republican Party as "anti-government" factions battle "pro-growth" factions. Terms such as "tea party" and "establishment" are becoming less useful because they denote ideology and the battle within the GOP isn't really an ideological one. It is one of priorities. Some Republicans see their role primarily as disrupting and reducing a dysfunctional federal government that has gotten too big and too intrusive and they want to stop that at any cost. Others see their role as providing a stable, functional government that can be pared back and shaped to be more effective and responsive. Often these priorities are able to work in concert. The shutdown pitted them head to head. The business community has quickly come to realize that disrupting the business environment with non-targeted sequester cuts, government shutdowns that could last a couple of days or a few weeks, and enormous uncertainty on possible government debt default is the result of actions taken by the "anti-government" faction within the Republican Party and is as dangerous to the economic climate as anti-competitive policies from the far left.
As a result, the business community has quickly begun to mobilize to support "pro-growth" candidates in primaries. The first test was a special election runoff in Alabama's First Congressional District pitting business friendly candidate Bradley Byrne against fervent anti-government candidate Dean Young. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were deployed on Byrne's behalf through contributions and independent expenditures in the final weeks of the election by the business community in Alabama and around the country. Byrne won 52-48, but almost certainly would have been defeated without the last minute push by the business community. The tough win has served as a bellwether that with more planning and better coordination, the business community can be even more effective in producing general election candidates that won't threaten the foundations of the economy and business climate.
While the shutdown will not likely push many voters from one candidate to another by itself, it may have a huge impact on which candidates emerge from primaries and the overall number of competitive seats if voters conclude that ALL of Congress needs a makeover.
November 13, 2013
Today we finish our 4 part series in which BIPAC analyzes the upcoming 2014 House crossover districts. House crossover districts are the congressional districts where the U.S. Representative and the presidential candidate voted for by that district are of opposite parties. There are currently 26 House crossover districts or 26 House members whose district voted for the presidential candidate of the opposite party. There are 15 incumbent Republicans serving in districts President Obama won and 9 incumbent Democrats serving in districts Mitt Romney won. This series analyzes the incumbents, the districts and potential challengers as the political landscape for 2014 continues to evolve and take shape.
To see the full list of House crossover districts visit the BIPAC portal here.
Mike Coffman (R, CO 6)
Frank LoBiondo (R, NJ 2)
Michael Grimm (R, NY 11)
Dave Reichert (R, WA 8)
Patrick Murphy (D, FL 18)
Mike McIntyre (D, NC 7)
Jim Matheson (D, UT 4)
November 6, 2013
The pro-growth community can have a huge impact.
Virginia is the quintessential swing state. It supported George Bush twice, then Barack Obama twice. It has alternated between Republican and Democratic Governors and Senators. New Jersey is not a swing state. It has gone Democratic in every Presidential election of the last 30 years. But it is New Jersey where a Republican was just reelected Governor by land slide margins and Virginia that went Democratic. In short, there are a LOT of New Jersey voters who voted for Barack Obama and Chris Christie and Virginia voters who voted for Mitt Romney and Terry McAuliffe. This tells us two things primarily - first, that candidates matter and secondly, that despite partisan polarization in Washington, swing voters aren't dead and are readily willing to switch between parties.
To be fair, both Chris Christie in New Jersey and Ken Cuccinelli are both extraordinary candidates in some ways. Christie pulls many more crossover votes than an average candidate and as a result, drew a fairly weak opponent. Conversely, Cuccinelli proved more polarizing than other Republicans of similar ideology, so each is a bit of an outlier in terms of crossover potential. That each ARE outliers, however, demonstrates just how wide the political center is when presented with extraordinary candidates.
For all of the partisan divide in Congress and the rancor between the parties in DC, the election results yesterday tell us that there are many Americans who still vote for individual candidates and issues, not parties. While the lesson is likely to be lost (sadly) on the DC political class, it is good news for the business community because it means that on the issues, we have the opportunity to build consensus across party lines and to work with both parties to find ways to promote economic growth and expand business opportunity and grow jobs.
The results are stark. Candidates matter and campaigns matter.
In Virginia, Cuccinelli underperformed Romney and dramatically underperformed his immediate GOP predecessor Bob McDonnell. He underperformed Republican Attorney General candidate Mark Obenshain who has a similar ideological profile, but a different approach, style and temperament.
This fall off was particularly pronounced in the vote rich counties of DC suburbs and exurbs of Northern Virginia.
Prince William County:
Most telling about the nature of campaigns and the difference a higher profile race can make and how effective the McAuliffe (a deeply flawed candidate himself) campaign's efforts were to define Cuccinelli as an extremist candidate is that Cuccinelli dramatically underperformed HIMSELF from his 2009 election as Attorney General. In that race, he received 1,124,137 votes or 57.5%. For Governor, he received only 1,008,554 for 45.5%.
New Jersey offers a mirror image. Obama won New Jersey with 58% and 57% in 2012 and 2008 respectively. Governor Chris Christie was elected in 2009 with only a plurality 48% of the vote over scandal plagued incumbent John Corzine. Yesterday, he walked away with 61% of the vote. Again, looking at vote percentages at the county level is revealing.
All of this simply illustrates what Washington has had such a hard time understanding: that voters are not wedded to parties the way politicians are, with a few exceptions. They are willing to switch between parties to support candidates that reflect their interests. Again, this is GREAT news for the business community. Not because Chris Christie or Terry McAuliffe will do a better job of promoting free enterprise in their states (though both are expected to be pretty friendly to business growth), but because voters have demonstrated they are readily willing to break from partisan ideology to follow their own interests. BIPAC firmly believes that what is good for growing jobs and the economy is good for most Americans.
The results also demonstrate how important candidates and campaigns are. Good candidates with good campaigns can and will win in the most unlikely places. Voters showed in Virginia and New Jersey last night that a new way is possible.
(Note: For this analysis, Obama/Romney results are a partisan benchmark. According to exit polling, Obama drew 92% of Democratic votes, Romney drew 93% of Republican votes and Independents split evenly 50-50. Thus, Romney and Obama provide an excellent barometer to evaluate over or under performance by a candidate based on a standard partisan behavior.)
October 16, 2013
Today we continue our 4 part series in which BIPAC will analyze the upcoming 2014 House crossover districts. House crossover districts are the congressional districts where the U.S. Representative and the presidential candidate voted for by that district are of opposite parties. There are currently 26 House crossover districts or 26 House members whose district voted for the presidential candidate of the opposite party. There are 15 incumbent Republicans serving in districts President Obama won and 9 incumbent Democrats serving in districts Mitt Romney won. This series will analyze the incumbents, the districts and potential challengers as the political landscape for 2014 continues to evolve and take shape.
To see the full list of House crossover districts visit the BIPAC portal here.
Jeff Denham (R, CA-10)
Bill Young (R, FL-13)
John Kline (R, MN-2)
Scott Rigell (R, VA-2)
Ron Barber (D, AZ-2)
Nick Rahall (D, WV-3)
Massachusetts 5th Congressional District Special Election (October 16th, 2013)
New Jersey Senate Special Election (October 17th, 2013)
September 25, 2013
Yesterday was Alabama's primary for the First Congressional District special election. Jo Bonner (R) resigned in August to take a position as Vice Chancellor of the University of Alabama System, setting off a special election for his seat. To read more on the results, visit the BIPAC Blog.
September 19, 2013
Today we continue our four part series in which BIPAC will analyze the upcoming 2014 House Crossover districts. House Crossover districts are the congressional districts where the U.S. Representative and the presidential candidate voted for by that district are of opposite parties. There are currently 26 House Crossover districts or 26 House members whose district voted for the presidential candidate of the opposite party. There are 15 incumbent Republicans serving in districts President Obama won and nine incumbent Democrats serving in districts Mitt Romney won. This series will analyze the incumbents, the districts and potential challengers as the political landscape for 2014 continues to evolve and take shape.
To see the full list of House Crossover districts visit the Political Analysis page of the BIPAC portal here.
David Valadao (R, CA 21)
Tom Latham (R, IA 3)
Jon Runyan (R, NJ 3)
Peter King (R, NY 2)
John Barrow (D, GA 12)
Pete Gallego (D, TX 23)
September 11, 2013
There are several state and federal elections taking place in 2013, due to off year and special elections. Below is a quick recap of each of the elections taking place and where you can find additional resources.
New Jersey Senate
Alabama 1st District
Massachusetts 5th District
Virginia Candidate Questionnaire Video Series:
Each week they will strategically roll out candidate videos by issue topic to help inform the business community on the candidates' positions on that topic. In conjunction, VirginiaP2 will promote that week's topic through social media, blog posts, press releases and other forms of media. There will be a focus on the key issues to not only inform the voter on where the candidates stand on the issues but to educate voters on the facts about that issue currently. The videos will also have live surveys available for employers and employees to share their point of view instantly on a related question. VirginiaP2 will also conduct polling on the related issue to offer a prospective of the general public.
Click here to view the first of the video responses, centered on the state of Virginia's business climate, with pointed responses from Ken Cuccinelli, Terry McAuliffe, E.W. Jackson and Ralph Northam.
August 28, 2013
There are 36 states with governor's races in 2014. The current party breakdown for governorships is 30 Republican and 20 Democratic. There are currently six open seats in AR, AZ, NE, MD, MA and TX meaning there are 30 governors running for re-election. Despite Republicans having a ten seat advantage, several current Republican governors won election in the Tea Party wave of 2010 and nine Republican governors are up in states that Obama won in 2012. As such, Republican governors are now running for re-election in states that are far more moderate than they've governed, leaving them more vulnerable than their Democratic counterparts. Below is a list of the top four most vulnerable Republicans and top four most vulnerable Democrats running for re-election in 2014. We've provided an overview as to why they are at risk and listed the most recent race ratings from several top political analysts as well as those from BIPAC.
Top Four Vulnerable Republicans
Gov. Rick Snyder (MI)
Snyder's approval ratings dropped drastically after signing Michigan's "right-to-work" law last December. While it has improved in the past few months, it has not fully recovered. His recent decisions regarding Detroit's bankruptcy have helped him with approval ratings, but his support for expanding Medicaid is now costing him with Republicans. This is a state that Obama won in 2008 and 2012.
Gov. Paul LePage (ME)
LePage has faced attacks from both sides of the aisle during his time in office, most recently with his own party over Maine's budget, supporting a government shutdown over the legislature's bipartisan agreement. The potential three-way race shaping up could help him again if he runs in 2014, just as it did in 2010.
Gov. Rick Scott (FL)
Rick Scott, one of the more vulnerable governors in the country, could see a primary challenge from his own party. His approval ratings have been improving a bit recently, with Florida's economy regaining some strength and his reversal to support Medicaid expansion in Florida (though he was unable to win legislative support for it).
Gov. Tom Corbett (PA)
Corbett has a lot working against him for 2014. He has yet to get his "big three" campaign promises passed, including transportation funding, liquor privatization and public employee pension reform. Pennsylvania's unemployment rate is also often above that of the national average, and Corbett has been highly criticized for his handling of the Penn State scandal when he was attorney general.
Top Four Vulnerable Democrats
Gov. Dan Malloy (CT)
Malloy faced a large drop in approval ratings when he signed the largest tax hike in Connecticut's history, during his first year as governor. Connecticut has also been ranked the worst state for economic growth the past two years. Malloy has gained some popularity of late, due to his support of gun control legislation in the state. This may not however, be enough to offset the lack of support for his economic policies.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee (RI)
Chafee's biggest problem for re-election is Rhode Island's economy. For July 2013, it was ranked third in the nation, with an unemployment rate of 8.9 and was rated the second worst state for business by CNBC in 2013. Chafee has recently switched parties, from Independent to Democrat, which could help his chances at winning re-election.
Gov. Pat Quinn (IL)
Quinn's approval ratings are so low it is very possible he will face a primary challenger, which is where he will be most vulnerable in the deep blue state. Like several of the governors on this list, Quinn's unpopularity has a lot to do with the economy. Illinois has faced major budget problems under Quinn, including a $100 billion pension crisis; the worst faced by any US state. Quinn has halted payments for state lawmakers until they pass pension reform and is now being sued by members of his own party for the pay freeze.
Gov. Hickenlooper (CO)
Hickenlooper could be potentially vulnerable for two main noneconomic reasons- his recent stances on the death penalty and gun control legislation. A Quinnipiac survey found that his handling on both issues, granting temporary reprieve to a man on death row, and supporting gun control legislation, went against public opinion in Colorado. Whether or not these will be enough to make Hickenlooper a one term governor has yet to be seen.
August 21, 2013
Given the difficulty Congress has faced in passing substantive legislation this year, it's a wonder that congressional caucuses don't play a more prominent role in providing opportunities for members to reach across the aisle and also build relationships within their own party. Only 22 bills were signed into law before the 113th Congress left for recess, the fewest number at this time of any Congress in history. Caucuses are the individual issue task forces of the United States Congress and it's within these groups that ideally, many policy challenges are addressed.
Officially, a congressional caucus is a structured, yet informal group of United States Senators and Representatives who meet to pursue common legislative objectives concerning a shared interest. They are certified working groups of the United States Congress. They date back to colonial times, but were often thought of as corrupt, back-room meetings filled with tobacco smoke and whiskey. It wasn't until the mid-20th century that the caucuses we view today began to take shape, and in the last 20 years the number of active caucuses has sky rocketed.
There are over 200 caucuses existing in Congress at any given time. The exact number registered with the Committee on House Administration for the 113th Congress is 238. But just because a caucus hasn't registered, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. It could simply be dormant due to a chair or co-chair having lost reelection or retiring from Congress completely.
Although caucuses exist in both the House and the Senate, the majority of caucuses exist in the House. The primary reason being that Senate offices have much larger staffing operations they can dedicate to issues and legislation. Members of the House, however, have fewer resources, and as a result rely on the help of caucuses to share information, compile research and produce reports on particular issues.
There are several types of caucuses. A few examples are:
Party/Ideological: Blue Dog Coalition, Liberty Caucus, Senate Democratic Caucus, House Republican Caucus
Demographic: Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Caucus on Women's Issues
Industry Groups: Congressional Automotive Caucus, Congressional Caucus on Wild Salmon
International: Congressional Caucus on Vietnam, US-Mexico Friendship Caucus
What strikes me as interesting is that despite having over 200 working groups for members of Congress to join, in addition to the committee and subcommittee groups already in place, the legislative process is still stagnant. Of course the gridlock can be blamed on leadership, intentional party strategy and other political motives. But if you can't come together over rock-n-roll, bourbon, bikes or peanuts - all of which have registered caucuses - what can you come together on?
August 14, 2013
"Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters." - Abraham Lincoln
Money alone can't win elections. If it could, Linda McMahon ($50 million spent) would be a U.S. Senator today and Meg Whitman ($160 million spent) would be Governor of California. Winning campaigns are fueled by people and savvy campaigns rely on volunteers for their victories.
No doubt campaign contributions are important - a fully-funded campaign treasury is necessary. But a well-utilized volunteer base provides direct connections between the candidate and the people who actually vote. President Obama's 2012 reelection campaign had no shortage of money, but most importantly was awash in volunteer labor with more than 700,000 volunteer "shifts" working in the battleground states in the final four days of the campaign.
Your options for volunteering aren't limited to national high-profile campaigns, or even to candidate campaigns. According to BallotPedia, there are 133 issue initiatives filed in various states for 2013. Statewide and local races in Virginia and New Jersey are underway, special elections and local races are happening all over the country. Each and every one of these campaigns will benefit from the expertise you can provide. Perhaps you want to help your political party in their efforts, in which case your county central committee might be a good place to start.
What's in it for me?
"In my experience, elections are not won by money, candidates or actions supported by them; elections are won by the hard work of volunteers engaging people in local communities. The stakes are just too high to stay home and be complacent. The success of my country depends on my candidate. My candidate depends on people like me."
"Talking to people was very personal and gave me a lot of insight into their thinking and the political process itself. The most important thing I learned was that while I had made up my mind on my presidential candidate for years, most people are completely undecided right up to the end."
"More important, campaign interactions compel me to constantly consider where I stand, who I stand with, and why I stand where I do on many of the most pressing issues facing our nation and the increasingly interdependent international system to which it belongs."
What can I do?
Most campaigns, unfortunately, don't have a good plan in place for how to accept or utilize volunteers. They may have a phone bank operation planned or a door-to-door drive on the books, but there are so many facets of campaign activities which can benefit from your efforts. In many cases, even the job of managing volunteers and volunteer projects falls to a volunteer - if you know how to manage people and/or projects that might be a very valuable role for you to play. You should be prepared to face an overworked and underpaid campaign manager who doesn't yet know how to best use your time in the campaign - don't let that deter you from helping him or her see how you can add value. Campaign managers come and go, but every successful candidate remembers the key volunteers who were there when they were needed.
How else can you help your supported candidates or cause? Make a contribution - either directly or through your company or association Political Action Committee. Don't fret if you can only give a few dollars - the number of donors is often just as important as the total amount raised. Help recruit more volunteers by talking to your co-workers, friends, and neighbors. Help keep the campaigns honest by being a fact checker on campaign literature or candidate debates. But most importantly help keep democracy alive by being an active part of the campaign process. Volunteer - then drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know about your experience.
Want to volunteer or make in-kind contributions to candidates or causes? State and federal laws and regulations control how your own financial resources can be used in support of your volunteer activities. The Federal Election Commission and most states provide guidance on what you can and can't do. Listed below are recently available guides for federal campaigns as well as state campaigns in the two biggest "off-year" elections of 2013 - please note that the quality of officially-provided information varies widely from state to state.
Have questions regarding local campaigns and initiatives? The best place to start is by contacting your local elections office. You can find the address and phone numbers at www.ezvote.org.
New Jersey Senate: Special Primary Election Recap
Yesterday, New Jersey held a special primary election for the U.S. Senate seat that became vacant when Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) passed away in June. The race yielded the two official nominees who will face each other in the special general election held October 16th. For a full recap of the race, check out the BIPAC blog.
August 7, 2013
What is a recall election? It is a procedure that allows citizens to remove and replace an elected official before the end of their term. Recalls can be used to rid the office of a corrupt or incompetent leader, for partisan politics, or removing officials for a policy position. It is estimated that a majority, three-fourths, of recall elections are at city council or school board level, though there have been increasing instances of recalls at the state level. Nineteen states (AK, AZ, CA, CO, GA, ID, IL, KS, LA, MI, MN, MT, NV, NJ, ND, OR, RI, WA and WI) and the District of Columbia currently allow recalls of state officials. In the past three years, several states have seen state elected officials face recalls, including WI, AZ, MI and currently, CO.
State Level Recalls since 2010 (according to National Conference of State Legislatures)
In the first ever recall elections of state lawmakers in Colorado, two Democratic senators in Colorado are facing recalls due to their vote on stricter gun control measures, State Senate President John Morse of El Paso County and Senator Angela Giron of Pueblo County. After the Secretary of State deemed there were enough signatures for a recall, Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) set the recall election date for September 10, 2013.
The gun control bills causing such uproar in CO, passed in the 2013 legislative session by the Democratically-controlled CO state legislature, were the first such bills passed in over ten years. This is a hot topic issue in a state that is well known for the Columbine High School and Aurora shootings, but is also known for its bipartisan passion of hunting and sport shooting.
A group behind the recall, the Basic Freedom Defense Fund (501 (c)(4) non-profit), was set up in February in response to the passed gun legislation. The founding members say the main issue is about legislators not listening to their constituents. Originally, four Democrats were targeted to be recalled, including Sen. Evie Hudak (D) of Westminster and Rep. Mike McLachlan (D) of Durango but only the recall attempts for Sens. Morse and Giron gained enough signatures. Former Colorado Springs City Councilman Bernie Herpin (R) is challenging Morse and former police officer Georgia Rivera (R) of Pueblo is challenging Giron.
Money has been pouring into the elections, with Giron and Morse raising nearly a quarter million dollars, and receiving thousands of dollars from Colorado liberal groups. Recall supporters have been sending their funds to the Basic Freedom Defense, and the NRA has helped with mailers and phone banks. According to El Paso and Pueblo county clerks, the elections will cost somewhere between $150,000 and $200,000.
Even if the recall attempts are successful, Democrats will still hold the majority in the Senate, 18-17. However, supporters of the recall still hope this will send messages to legislators in CO and across the country.
Breaking it Down: Dysfunctional State Parties
State political parties are integral to the national landscape. They have a hand in candidate recruitment, election efforts and educating voters on issues. But many parties at the state level are in disarray and inept, for reasons such as financial and personality issues, leaving them unable to do their jobs. This is a key reason why strong political involvement from the business community is important, even on the local level. You can no longer rely on parties to advocate on your behalf.
Click here to see 7 of the most dysfunctional state parties, compiled by Roll Call.
July 24, 2013
Today's EIS is part one of a four part series where BIPAC will analyze the upcoming 2014 House Crossover districts. House Crossover districts are the Congressional districts where the U.S. Representative and the presidential candidate voted for by that district are of opposite parties. There are currently 26 House Crossover districts or 26 House members whose district voted for the presidential candidate of the opposite party. There are 15 incumbent Republicans serving in districts President Obama won and nine incumbent Democrats serving in districts Mitt Romney won. This series will analyze the incumbents, the districts and potential challengers as the political landscape for 2014 continues to evolve and take shape.
To see full the list of House Crossover districts visit the Political Analysis page of the BIPAC Portal here.
Gary Miller (R, CA-31)
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R, FL-27)
Erik Paulsen (R, MN-3)
Joe Heck (R, NV-3)
Ann Kirkpatrick (D, AZ-1)
Collin Peterson (D, MN-7)
Next month will be part two of the four part House Crossover District series.
Breaking it Down: 2014 Political Landscape Map
Our 2014 Political Landscape Map is now up on the portal. The map includes current House delegate breakdowns, 2014 gubernatorial and senate elections, open seats, electoral votes and the 2012 presidential results. You can view an interactive version of the map on the BIPAC Political Analysis section of the portal.
July 17, 2013
The 2014 elections are fast approaching and the decision by former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer not to run for U.S. Senate has put Republicans in a much better position to win control of the chamber. However, the past few cycles have shown that the greatest challenge facing both parties - but particularly Republicans - is recruiting quality candidates. In 2014, Democrats need to find candidates who can win in conservative states like South Dakota, Montana and West Virginia. Republicans need to find credible challengers who can take on vulnerable, incumbent Democrats in red states like Arkansas, North Carolina and Alaska.
So what's the status of the candidate recruitment process? How are the parties faring in recruiting top tier candidates? Now that second quarter fundraising reports have been filed, a clear picture is beginning to take shape. The chart below lists formally announced Senate candidates as well as snapshots of their fundraising abilities. Several candidates do not have amounts to report because they announced their campaigns just recently or else the FEC hasn't posted second quarter totals yet. Fundraising amounts do not equate victory or defeat, but they do convey interest, legitimacy and illustrate that there is some level of support.
There are two significant takeaways from these charts. First, the available fundraising numbers posted by incumbents and declared candidates are impressive and do convey legitimacy. For example, Senator Mitch McConnell's fundraising numbers are extremely high, explaining his ability to deter primary challengers thus far. The same is true for vulnerable Democratic senators. The second takeaway, and perhaps the most striking, is the lack of Democratic candidates recruited in open seats. Only two of the seven open seats have strong Democratic candidates: Michigan and Iowa. Democrats have yet to find candidates in Montana (reelected a Democratic senator in '12), West Virginia (2 Democratic senators and a Democratic governor), Georgia, and Nebraska. Furthermore, the only declared Democratic candidate in South Dakota doesn't have the name recognition or credibility of the likely Republican nominee - former Governor Mike Rounds.
Overall, the biggest challenge Republicans have faced in recent cycles is recruiting strong candidates who can win general elections. At this point, they've been fairly successful at finding solid candidates to fill open seats and take on vulnerable Democrats. There is still time for Democrats to find candidates in open seat contests, but the first filing deadline for a congressional primary is December 9th - just over four months away. As more days fall off the calendar, the more challenging it will be for new candidates to jump in the race.
Breaking it Down: Vacancy Recap
Ed Markey (D- MA) was sworn in as Massachusetts's newest Senator Tuesday, creating a vacancy for his seat in MA's 5th Congressional District. This marks the fourth House vacancy since January, and there will be a fifth come August, when Congressman Jo Bonner (R-AL) resigns to work at the University of Alabama. In the Senate, there have been several vacancies since January as well, with the resignation of DeMint (R), appointment of Kerry (D) to Secretary of State and the passing of Lautenberg (D). These vacancies have led to four special elections so far this year (MA Senate, IL 2nd, SC 1st, MO 8th), with five more to come (NJ Senate, SC Senate, HI Senate, MA 5th, AL 1st).
The current 113th Congress breakdown is:
House: 234 R, 200 D, 1 vacancy
You can always find up to date 113th Congress Math on the Political Analysis section of the portal, or by clicking here.
July 3, 2013
At BIPAC we want to wish everyone a happy Independence Day! This week, members of Congress are in their districts talking to constituents and enjoying the July 4th holiday. This will give constituents a chance to tell their members of Congress how they feel about the current issues being debated, including the farm bill, immigration and sequestration. What members hear will vary from state to state and district to district -but the best predictor to how voters may be feeling often depends on their pocketbooks. July 4th holiday travel and spending are good economic indicators to how voters may be feeling about Congress.
Studies show consumers have mixed amounts of confidence when it comes to spending for the holiday. AAA says 40.8 million Americans will travel over 50 miles for the Independence Day holiday - a 0.8% decrease from last year. Consumers are likely traveling less because of sequestration cuts and the end of the payroll tax cut. Despite travel being down, the average traveler is still expected to spend $747 this July 4th. Visa's national survey on consumer spending for the 4th of July is much more optimistic. The survey showed that people are expected to spend $300 on the holiday, up almost 60% from last year's $190, and national indicators show consumer confidence continues to hold steady at a 6 year high of 84.1%.
The next few weeks are going to be critical if Congress wants to pass immigration reform, address the debt ceiling, or pass any type of budget or tax reform before the August recess. Voters' confidence in Congress to achieve any of this will be influenced by their feelings about the economy. It's evident that voters' confidence regarding spending is up, but they are still being cautious, a sign that we are not out of the woods yet. This will be the mindset most constituents will have when visiting with their elected officials this holiday and will have a significant influence on Congress's voting behavior throughout the rest of the year.
Fourth of July Fun Facts to Share with Your Employees/Members
Tweet us your Independence Day facts at @BIPAC!
June 26, 2013
June 19, 2013
The halfway point of 2013 marks the longest day of the year, the NBA finals, the Stanley Cup finals, and also the conclusion of the majority of state legislatures around the country. Nearly 36 states have completed their state legislative sessions with just over a dozen having their sessions extend into the fall and winter. State and local business groups all across the country have been fighting for policies to improve the economic climate in their states and create more opportunities for growth. While there are ongoing challenges in the policy making process, the business community saw significant success in 2013 at the state level. Below are a few highlights of those successes. For more information on state issues please visit the BIPAC portal to access all state Prosperity Project websites.
Alaska - Oil Tax Reform
The business industry in Alaska scored a victory in helping pass oil tax reform which is seen as a vast improvement over the current policy. Senate Bill 21 was introduced by Gov. Sean Parnell (R) and reduces taxes on oil taken from the ground in Alaska. Proponents assert that the reduction in taxes will encourage the oil extraction companies to increase production and make the system more competitive. Additionally, the University of Alaska's Institute of Social and Economic Research says, "The Alaska OCS may be one of the largest untapped oil and gas basins in the world. An annual average of 54,700 new jobs would be created and sustained through the year 2057 by its development, with 68,600 during production and 91,500 at peak employment. Development of Alaska's OCS resources would result in a total of $145 billion in new payroll through the year 2057, including $63 billion to employees in Alaska and $82 billion to employees in the Lower 48."
Illinois - Hydraulic Fracturing
The Illinois business community helped reach a deal on regulating horizontal hydraulic fracturing in Illinois. According to the Illinois Chamber, the legislation is expected to "create tens of thousands of good, high-paying jobs, generate significant state revenue, reduce U.S. reliance on foreign sources of oil, and establish a low-cost source of energy for Illinois residents and businesses for years while protecting the state's natural resources and providing community safeguards." The bill, SB1715, garnered significant bipartisan support and was signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn (D).
Iowa - Property Tax Reform
The Republican-led House and Democrat-controlled Senate in Iowa reached a compromise on property tax reform this session - an issue that has been promised since 2010. The business community supported the reform and applauded the progress made by both parties and Gov. Terry Branstad (R). Over the next ten years, the legislation will reduce property taxes statewide by billions of dollars while also rebating hundreds of millions of dollars through a new income tax credit and an expansion of the earned income tax credit for the poor.
New Mexico - Tax Reform
A last minute deal was reached in the New Mexico legislature when a major tax reform bill was attached to a very small TV film production incentive (a.k.a. The Breaking Bad bill). The tax reform package included many new reforms that the business community deemed a success, including a reduction in corporate income tax rates and a prohibition on local governments from taxing food or medicine. The Breaking Bad bill was introduced by rank and file Democrats but the tax reform attachment was engineered by the Republican Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, John Arthur Smith. Governor Susana Martinez (R) signed the bill.
Virginia - Transportation Funding
Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) signed the first comprehensive transportation funding plan for Virginia in 27 years. The bipartisan bill, though controversial, was supported by business groups in Virginia as well as by bipartisan members of the legislature. Virginia is notorious for traffic congestion and deteriorating roads and bridges and has needed reform for many years. The plan will provide more than $3.4 billion in additional statewide transportation funding, more than $1.5 billion in additional funding for Northern Virginia, and more than $1 billion in additional funding for Hampton Roads, over the next five years. It will also sustain 13,058 new jobs annually and have more than $9.5 billion in economic impact for the state. This was a contentious issue that took decades to resolve and was seen as a success by business leaders in Virginia.
June 12, 2013
Last Tuesday voters in New Jersey formally selected their nominees for statewide office and all state legislative offices. Yesterday, voters in Virginia formally selected their Democratic nominees for statewide office (Republicans held their convention in May) as well as nominees for the Virginia House of Delegates. The general election campaigns have officially kicked off in both states. So what can the business community expect to see between now and November 5th and what will the outcome of these elections mean for 2014?
Let's begin with Virginia. All registered voters were able to vote in yesterday's primary because voters do not declare a party affiliation when they register. In the general election, voters will select their next governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general all separately, so the winners could be any combination of the candidates below. According to Sabato's Crystal Ball, "Since 1969, Virginians have elected straight-party tickets five times but have split their tickets six times. So voters in this state are perfectly capable of making independent choices for the three top offices."
The candidates for statewide office this year have created an interesting dynamic within the political parties of Virginia. Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic nominee for Virginia won the primary uncontested. In 2009 he lost the gubernatorial primary to unknown state Sen. Creigh Deeds (D). This year, he will be facing Republican nominee and current AG Ken Cuccinelli. Both options leave something to be desired for the business community which has resulted in endorsements by individuals from the opposite party. The business community may be concerned Terry McAuliffe will not represent the interests of local Virginians, but they are more concerned that Cuccinelli's extreme views on social issues could hinder the ability to compromise and make deals with legislators. Another concern is the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, E.W. Jackson, who is so extreme he often makes Cuccinelli look moderate. Whether or not voters can truly distinguish between the two offices, regardless of party, will determine if Jackson has a negative effect on Cuccinelli's attempt to present himself as the best candidate for business.
Voters in the Commonwealth have twice elected Barack Obama to the presidency but overwhelming voted for Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell in 2009. Current polling gives McAuliffe a 3-5 point lead and he also has a fundraising advantage. If McAuliffe wins the governor's race, this will be a clear sign for next year's midterm elections that voters want candidates who do not let social and religious issues impede their ability to govern and pass laws. If Cuccinelli wins, this will reinforce what we know to be true - that older, conservative voters turn out in much larger numbers in off-year elections - enough so that their turn out will be the determining factor in who wins.
As for New Jersey - the governor's race is all but decided. The primary held Tuesday, June 4th did not result in any surprising outcomes and current polling gives Gov. Christie a nearly 30 point advantage. The nominees for governor (see below) will select the lieutenant governor nominees to be on the ticket with them. Gov. Chris Christie (R), who is running for reelection, has said that he will nominate the current Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno who he selected during his initial run in 2009. State Sen. Barbara Buono has a number of weeks to select her running mate. Several local mayors are said to be considered.
The most notable news to come out of New Jersey was the shake-up caused by the passing of U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D) last week. There was confusion as to what the options were for Gov. Christie in deciding a date for the special election. He ultimately announced a special election to be held on October 16 with a primary on August 13. Last Thursday Christie named state Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa (R) as the interim U.S. Senator. Chiesa will not be a candidate for the special election in October, and the filing deadline to run in the special primary was Monday at 4pm. Six candidates ended up filing. The Democrats are: Newark Mayor Cory Booker, U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, and U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone. The Republicans are: Dr. Alieta Eck and conservative activist Steve Lonegan. The most recent poll (Quinnipiac) shows Booker having a huge lead, but the race has only just begun. Whoever wins the special election will then have to decide immediately if they plan to run for reelection in 2014 when Lautenberg's seat was originally scheduled to be up for reelection.
Breaking it Down: 2013-2014 Gubernatorial Elections
Check out the below map for the 2013 & 2014 Gubernatorial election landscape. You can view our other election maps on the political affairs section of the portal.