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Analysis: Election results show Democrats are still a long way from being competitive in the South

Clinton performed worse in the South than Barack Obama in 2012

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

election-central-16(CFP) — Prior to the November 8 election, Democrats were publicly hopeful that they might finally be turning back Republican hegemony in the South, to the degree that pro-Hillary Clinton ads were running not only in the battleground states of Florida and North Carolina but also in reliably Republican Georgia and Texas.

Election results show that thinking was not just wishful, it was magical.CFP Facebook Mugshot

In fact, Clinton did comparatively worse in the South than Barack Obama did four years ago (which, oddly, seems to undercut the notion that the South’s resistance to Obama was based on his race.) A look at regional and state-by-state figures in the presidential race shows just how grim election night was for Southerners with a D attached to their name.

Donald Trump carried 53.3 percent of the vote and 13 out of 14 Southern states. That performance was not as good as Mitt Romney’s in 2012, when he came in with 54.4 percent (although Romney only carried 12 states.) However, the performance gap between Trump and Clinton was actually larger than the gap between Romney and Obama because Clinton’s underperformance was even worse.

She took just 42.5 percent of the Southern vote; Obama won 44.3 percent. Some of that was due to a larger third-party vote which, at 4.2 percent, was about 3 points more than it was in 2012. However, the gap between the Republican and Democratic share of the vote went up everywhere except Texas and Georgia and the lone Southern state Clinton carried, Virginia.

A look at raw vote totals shows the degree to which Clinton hemorrhaged Obama supporters.

In Mississippi, Clinton’s raw vote total was nearly 101,000 less than Obama’s in 2012, a huge shift in a state where less than 1.2 million votes were cast. Given that African-Americans play an outsized role in the state’s Democratic base, Clinton’s numbers are a clear sign that black voters did not turn out for her as they did for Obama.

But if Mississippi was bad for Clinton, Appalachia was even worse — down 51,000 votes in Kentucky, 92,000 in Tennessee, and 52,000 votes in West Virginia, where Trump’s percentage of the vote soared 15 points above Romney’s number. Those three states together have 270 counties; she carried exactly five.

In Arkansas, where Clinton was first lady and her husband governor for 10 years, she lost 16,000 votes and managed just 33.6 percent of the vote, 3.3 points lower than Obama’s vote in 2012. At the same time, Trump’s vote went up 34,000 over Romney’s, a net difference of nearly 50,000 votes.

Even in Virginia, which Clinton won, her vote total was 11,000 less than what Obama put up in 2016. She won because Virginia Trump’s vote total came in less than Romney’s by about 59,000 votes.

Meanwhile, as Clinton’s vote was fading, Trump’s was surging, beating 2012 GOP totals in every state except Virginia and Mississippi.

In Florida, where a growing Latino population was supposed to lead Clinton to victory, Trump added 442,000 votes to Romney’s tally, while Clinton added just 245,000 to Obama’s. In North Carolina, he added 69,000; she lost 16,000 in a battleground state she visited repeatedly.

In total across the South, Trump added more than 1 million votes to Romney’s haul; Clinton managed to add 448,000 by offsetting her losses in 11 states with gains in Texas, Florida and Georgia.

This led to some remarkable net vote changes between the two parties — 128,000 in Alabama, 166,000 in Kentucky, 150,000 in Tennessee and 118,000 in West Virginia.

The only glimmer of light at the end of this dark tunnel for Democrats was their improved performance in both Georgia and Texas.

In the presidential race, Democrats closed the gap with Republicans from 8 to 5 points in Georgia and 16 points to 9 points in Texas. Clinton also carried two big suburban counties in Atlanta, Cobb and Gwinnett, that had not gone Democratic in 40 years, along with Fort Bend County in suburban Houston, normally a no-man’s-land for a Democrat.

So perhaps Democratic wistfulness for those two states may not have been entirely misplaced, although that’s cold comfort when Trump carried Florida and North Carolina on his way to the White House.

And if the presidential results were grim, the U.S. Senate races were just as bad. Republicans  went eight-for-eight, with a race in Louisiana heading for a December 10 runoff in which Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy is favored to keep the seat in GOP hands.

Democrats didn’t even bother contesting Alabama, Oklahoma or South Carolina; they did recruit credible candidates in the rest of the races, such as Conner Eldridge in Arkansas, Jim Barksdale in Georgia and Jim Gray in Kentucky. But all lost by double-digit margins.

The Democrats’ best shots to pick up GOP-held seats were thought to be in Florida, where U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy was challenging Marco Rubio, and in North Carolina, where Deborah Ross was challenging Richard Burr. Murphy lost by 8 points; Ross, by 7. Both actually underperformed Clinton in their states.

The only good news for Democrats came in races for governor in West Virginia, where Jim Justice kept the office in Democratic hands, and in North Carolina, where Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper appears to have ousted Republican Governor Pat McCrory, although that race may be headed for a recount.

Republican U.S. Senate incumbents trying to fight off Democratic challengers

Florida and North Carolina are Senate battlegrounds; Louisiana holds all-party primary for Vitter’s seat

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

election-central-16(CFP) — Nine GOP-held Southern U.S. Senate seats are up for grabs in the November 8 election, with Republican incumbents heavily favored in six races.

The exceptions are Florida, where Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio is facing off against Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, and in North Carolina, where the GOP incumbent, U.S. Senator Richard Burr, is facing Deborah Ross, a former state legislator and Duke University law professor.

And in Louisiana, 24 candidates are running in an all-party “jungle” primary, with the top two vote-getters advancing to a December 10 runoff, which could potentially decide the balance of power in the Senate.

Pre-election polls have shown Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy in the lead, followed by Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, a Democrat; Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany of Lafayette; and Democrat Caroline Fayard, a New Orleans lawyer.

If Kennedy and Boustany can both clear the runoff, the GOP would be guaranteed of keeping the seat, now held by U.S. Senator David Vitter. But if Campbell or Fayard can come through, the December 10 runoff will be the last word on Senate races this year — and, if the Senate is closely divided, decide which party controls the chamber.

In addition to Rubio and Burr, Republican incumbents are seeking re-election in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

All are heavily favored, although the race in Georgia between U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson  and Democratic businessman Jim Barksdale is somewhat more competitive.

In Alabama, Richard Shelby faces Democrat Ron Crumpton, a marijuana rights activist; in Arkansas John Boozman is seeking a second term against Democrat Conner Eldridge, a former federal prosecutor from Fayetteville; and in Kentucky, Rand Paul is running against Lexington Mayor Jim Gray.

In Oklahoma,  James Lankford faces Mike Workman, a Tulsa political consultant, and in South Carolina, Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate, faces Democrat Thomas Dixon, a Charleston pastor.

Racist David Duke qualifies for Louisiana U.S. Senate debate

Debate on November 2 will take place at historically black Dillard University

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

louisiana mugNEW ORLEANS (CFP) — Racist David Duke will take the stage at an historically black university on November 2 to debate with five other Louisiana U.S. Senate candidates, after scoring high enough in a poll to qualify for the event.

State Treasurer John Kennedy

State Treasurer John Kennedy

The poll, commissioned by debate Raycom Media, showed Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy and Democratic Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell leading a crowded field of 24 candidates vying for the the open Senate seat in the Pelican State’s all-party “jungle” primary.

The top two vote-getters on November 8, regardless of party, will advance to a December 10 runoff.

Duke came in at 5.1 percent in the poll commissioned by Raycom, the sponsor of the debate at Dillard University in New Orleans, which was just above the 5 percent threshold set for candidates to qualify. Raycom confirmed to the Baton Rouge Advocate that, based on those poll results, it would invite Duke to the debate.

Raycom, based in Montgomery, Alabama, plans to air the debate on its television stations in Lake Charles, Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Shreveport.

Duke celebrated the news in a Tweet, in which he said, “I can’t wait to tell truth nobody else dares!”

Dillard, which rented space for the event to Raycom’s station in New Orleans, WVUE, said in a statement that the university “will work with WVUE to ensure that the event is secure and managed professionally, as it does with every event that occurs on our campus.”

The statement also said that WVUE is the “sole sponsor” of the event and that Dillard “does not endorse the candidacy of any of the candidates who will appear at this debate.”

Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell

Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell

The poll found Kennedy at 24 percent, followed by Campbell at 19 percent. Three candidates were in a statistical tie for third place: Democrat Caroline Fayard, a New Orleans lawyer (12 percent), and two sitting GOP U.S. House members, Charles Boustany of Layfayette (11 percent) and John Fleming of Minden (10 percent).

Among those not making the 5-percent cut were Joseph Cao, a Vietnamese-American Republican who represented the New Orleans area in Congress from 2009 to 2011, and Rob Maness, who made a spirited but unsuccessful Tea Party-backed bid for the Senate in 2014.

The seat is being vacated by Republican U.S. Senator David Vitter, who gave up his Senate seat to make an unsuccessful run for governor in 2015.

Open Louisiana U.S. Senate primary draws 24 candidates

Race will include two sitting members of Congress and white racist David Duke

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

louisiana mugNEW ORLEANS (CFP) — A gaggle of 24 candidates have qualified for the primary for an open U.S. Senate seat in Louisiana, which could play a pivotal role in the battle for Senate control.

The list of those who qualified by the July 22 deadline included three current or former members of Congress, two state officeholders and white supremacist David Duke, who filed to run as a Republican.

In Louisiana, all candidates, regardless of party, run in a Nov. 8 primary, with the top two vote-getters advancing to a December runoff if no one clears 50 percent.

The Louisiana race, then, could become the last and deciding contest for control of the Senate.

In all, nine Republicans filed, along with seven Democrats, two Libertarians and six without a party affiliation.

With so many candidates in the race, the outcome is uncertain. But Democrats hoping to overcome the Pelican State’s Republican tendencies may benefit by having fewer big name candidates in the race to divide their vote.

On the Democratic side, Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell and Caroline Fayard, a New Orleans lawyer, head the field.

Campbell made a losing bid for governor in 2007, while Fayard was the unsuccessful Democratic candidate in a special election for lieutenant governor in 2010.

The Republican side of the ballot is much more crowded. Two sitting U.S. House members–Charles Boustany of Layfayette and John Fleming of Minden–gave up their seats to pursue the open Senate seat.

Joining them are State Treasurer John Kennedy, a former Democrat who lost Senate races in 2004 and 2008; Joseph Cao, a Vietnamese-American who represented the New Orleans area in Congress from 2009 to 2011; and Rob Maness, who made a spirited but unsuccessful Tea Party-backed bid for the Senate in 2014.

In an announcement video on his website, Duke, making his third try for the Senate, said he was running to represent “European Americans.” He also claimed credit for introducing the phrase “America First” into national politics, which has become a mainstay of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

“I’m overjoyed to see Donald Trump, and most Americans, embrace most of the issues that I’ve championed for years,” he said.

The Louisiana seat opened up after U.S. Senator David Vitter retired to make an unsuccessful bid for governor in 2015.

State of the Races: U.S. Senate 2016

GOP favored in 7 of 9 Southern contests; Democrats have a shot at 2

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

southern states sm(CFP) — The 2016 election will feature nine contests across 14 Southern states, all of which are currently held by Republicans. And there appears to be precious little opportunity for Democrats to make inroads in the GOP’s regional hegemony.

Florida and North Carolina appear to be the best shots Democrats have to reverse the region’s GOP tide, although the decision by Marco Rubio to run for re-election significantly bolsters Republican chances in the Sunshine State. Louisiana is another possibility if the 24-candidate free-for-all in the Pelican State’s all-party jungle primary creates an unexpected Democratic opportunity. The other six races are foregone conclusions, barring some unforeseen Republican calamity.

Republicans currently hold 24 of the 28 Southern Senate seats, including both seats in 11 out of the 14 Southern states.

Here is the 2016 rundown:

shelby

Shelby

Alabama: Republican U.S. Senator Richard Shelby is running for a seventh term. Democrats aren’t putting up a fight, letting their nomination go to a marijuana rights activist. Given that a Democrat hasn’t won a Senate race in the Yellowhammer State since 1990, Shelby is virtually assured of another term, at the end of which he’ll be 88 years old. RATING: SAFE GOP

Boozman

Boozman

Arkansas: Republican U.S. Senator John Boozman is seeing a second term, despite suffering an aortic aneurysm in 2014 that kept him away from Washington for two months. The Democrats were unsuccessful in getting their top pick, former Governor Mike Beebe, to run, though they did manage to recruit a credible challenger in Conner Eldridge, a former federal prosecutor from Fayetteville. Still, a statewide race is a hard slog these days for a Democrat in the Natural State. RATING: PROBABLY GOP

rubio sm

Rubio

murphyp-sm

Murphy

Florida: Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s decision to reverse course and seek re-election significantly improved Republican prospects for keeping this seat. Rubio will face U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy from Jupiter, who won the primary over liberal firebrand Alan Grayson with support from the Democratic establishment. Rubio has to be considered a favorite here, but if Hillary Clinton turns out to have coattails in the Sunshine State, this could be a race in November. RATING: GOP FAVORED

Isakson

Isakson

Georgia: Republican U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson is running for re-election, despite publicly disclosing that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Peach State Democrats have recruited Jim Barksdale, the owner of an Atlanta investment firm, to take on Isakson. However, that strategy didn’t work in 2014 with Michelle Nunn, and there is little indication that Isakson is in trouble this time around. RATING: PROBABLY GOP

Paul

Paul

Kentucky: Now that Republican U.S. Senator Rand Paul ended his presidential run, he will be a prohibitive favorite for re-election. Democrats have managed to recruit a high-profile challenger with deep pockets, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray. But in a state that hasn’t sent a Democrat to the Senate since 1992, Gray will have a big mountain to climb. RATING: PROBABLY GOP

Vitter

Vitter

Louisiana: After losing a bid for governor, Republican U.S. Senator David Vitter announced he would not seek re-election to the Senate, leaving his seat up for grabs. A gaggle of 24 candidates are seeking the seat, running in the state’s all-party jungle primary in November, with the top two advancing to a December runoff.

Democrats running include Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell and Caroline Fayard, a New Orleans lawyer. The Republican side of the ballot includes two sitting U.S. House members, Charles Boustany of Lafayette and John Fleming of Minden; State Treasurer John Kennedy; Joseph Cao, a Vietnamese-American who represented the New Orleans area in Congress from 2009 to 2011; and Rob Maness, who made a spirited but unsuccessful Tea Party-backed bid for the Senate in 2014. White racist David Duke also filed on the GOP ticket.

While Republicans should be favored to keep this seat, Vitter’s loss to a Democrat in the governor’s race shows a flip for the Democrats is possible, if they can unite behind a high-profile challenger. Democrats could also benefit by having fewer candidates dividing up their vote in the primary. RATING: PROBABLY GOP

Lankford

Lankford

Oklahoma: Republican U.S. Senator James Lankford is facing voters for the second time in two years after being elected to serve out the remainder of former U.S. Senator Tom Coburn’s term in 2014. Given that Lankford cruised to victory with 68 percent of the vote last time and Democrats haven’t won a Senate race in Oklahoma in 25 years, this race is a foregone conclusion. RATING: SAFE GOP

Burr

Burr

North Carolina: Republican U.S. Senator Richard Burr is running for a third term, and he dodged a major bullet when former Democratic U.S. Senator Kay Hagan, who was bounced from the Senate in 2014, decided not to run against him. Instead, he will face Deborah Ross, a former state legislator and Duke University law professor. North Carolina is a state where Democrats can still win statewide races, but Ross starts from well behind. RATING: PROBABLY GOP

Scott

Scott

South Carolina: Republican U.S. Senator Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate, is facing voters for the second time in two years, after being appointed in 2013 to replace former U.S. Senator Jim DeMint. This time, he’s running for a full term in his own right, and he has not drawn a major challenger. He took 61 percent of the vote in 2014; count this race as a slam dunk. RATING: SAFE GOP

Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul organizes class-action suit over NSA surveillance

Paul is taking names of potential plaintiffs on his Web site — names that could be the foundation of a 2016 White House bid

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com

WASHINGTON (CFP) — Republican U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is organizing a class-action lawsuit against the National Security Agency over its surveillance programs — a novel political gambit that could lay the groundwork for a 2016 White House bid.

Paul is soliciting potential plaintiffs for the suit on two political Web sites he operates — Rand Paul 2016 and RAND PAC. His stated goal is to get 10 million Americans to sign up for the class-action suit.

However, an unnamed senior Paul advisor told Politico that any names collected may also be added a database for Paul’s future political campaigns.

That would give him access to a ready pool of voters upset by NSA surveillance — voters who would be inclined to support Paul. He’s also asking them for donations.

Paul, 51, is in his first term in the Senate. He is up for re-election in Kentucky in 2016, but he is also being mentioned as a possible 2016 presidential candidate.

A champion of the GOP’s libertarian wing, Paul has been a harsh critic of NSA programs that sweep up phone records of millions of Americans for use in terrorism investigations.

Last week, President Barack Obama announced changes to the program to provide more judicial oversight — changes Paul insisted do not go far enough to protect Americans’ constitutional liberties.

In his solicitation for plaintiffs, Paul said he was “outraged” by the surveillance and “that’s why I’m going to do everything I can to stop this madness.”

“So please sign below and join my class-action lawsuit and help stop the government’s outrageous spying program on the American people,” Paul said.

“After you sign up, please make a generous donation to help rally up to ten million Americans to support my lawsuit to stop Big Brother from infringing on our Fourth Amendment freedoms.”

People who sign up will have their name, email address and ZIP code put in Paul’s political database. All of those fields are required.

A Paul adviser told Politico that more than 300,000 have signed on as possible plaintiffs.

If Paul does seek the White House in 2016, his presidential ambitions may be complicated by a Kentucky law that prohibits him from running simultaneously for Senate and president.

State Republicans currently aren’t in a position to change that law because Democrats control the state House.

The law would only apply if Paul was successful in getting the Republican nomination. If he ran in the presidential primaries and didn’t win, he would be free to run for re-election to the Senate, as his father, Ron Paul, did in his U.S. House seat in Texas after he sought the White House in 2008.

Paul’s camp maintains the Kentucky law is unconstitutional because of a 1995 Supreme Court ruling that a state can’t impose its own restrictions in races for federal offices.

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