Saturday, February 15, 2014

Better know a politician: David Jolly

Name: David Jolly

Current position: Lobbyist

Political party: Republican

Future position: Running for Congress

District: Florida's 13th Congressional District (FL-13)

Previous position: Lobbyist, 2007-present
General Counsel to Congressman Bill Young, ?-2007

Previous election: N/A

Future election: March 11, 2014
Florida's 13th Congressional District Special Election

Fundraising:
Raised: $401,650
Spent: $328,696
Cash on hand: $72,955

Issues/Positions/Accomplishments

  • Believes the greatest threat to America, as a  superpower is our debt
  • Supports a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution
  • Promises to protect military bases and installations in the district
  • Supports repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)
  • Pro-life
  • Opposes "amnesty" to undocumented immigrants
  • Wants to increase border security
  • Wants to reform the flood insurance program

Better know a politician: Alex Sink

Name: Alex Sink

Current position: State Fire Marshal, 2006-present

Political party: Democratic

Future position: Running for Congress

District: Florida's 13th Congressional District (FL-13)

Previous position(s): Florida Chief Financial Officer, 2007-2011
Candidate, Florida Governor, 2010

Previous election: 2010, Florida gubernatorial election
Rick Scott (R): 49%
Alex Sink (D): 48%

Future election: March 11, 2014
Florida's 13th Congressional Election

Fundraising:
Raised: $1,234,030
Spent: $91,181
Cash on hand: $1,142,849

Top donors:
1. Publix Supermarkets: $5,000
2. AmeriPAC: $5,000
3. Progressive Choices PAC: $1,000


Polling:
St. Pete Polls, 02/12/14

David Jolly (R): 46.7%
Alex Sink (D): 44.3%
Lucas Overby (L): 6.6%
Undecided: 2.4%

St. Leo University, 02/11/14

David Jolly (R): 37%
Alex Sink (D): 46%
Lucas Overby (L): 12%
Undecided: 5%

Issues/Positions/Accomplishments


  • Supports the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)
  • Wants to reform the flood insurance program by stopping the rate spike, instruct FEMA to complete the affordability study, and pass new legislation
  • Wants to close the tax loopholes for the wealthy
  • Promises to work closely with the EPA to protect the district's beaches and wildlife



Sunday, February 9, 2014

2014 Baseball Preview: Arizona Diamondbacks

So, as a lead up to the 2014 MLB season, I think I am going to do some posts previewing the baseball season.  They're not going to be super exciting if you don't like baseball.  But since I do, I don't really care that much. I'm going to go through the teams in alphabetic order.

Team: Arizona Diamondbacks

Last season's record: 81-81

Key off-season additions: Mark Trumbo (.234/.294/.454, 106 wRC+, 2.5 fWAR), Addison Reed (71.1 IP, 9.08 K/9, 1.7 fWAR), Bronson Arroyo (202 IP, 3.79 ERA, 4.49 FIP, 0.8 fWAR)

Key off-season losses: Tyler Skaggs (38.2 IP 5.12 ERA, 4.86 FIP, 0.1 fWAR in 2013, 1.4 fWAR projected in 2014), Matt Davidson (.237/.333/.434, 108 wRC+ in 2013, 0.7 fWAR projected in 2014), Adam Eaton (.252/.314/.360 84 wRC+ in 2013, 2.0 fWAR projected in 2014), Willie Bloomquist (.317/.360/.361 101 wRC+ 0.5 fWAR in 2013), Wil Nieves (.297/.320/.369, 86 wRC+, -0.1 fWAR in 2013, 0.2 fWAR projected in 2014)

Preview: After the 2nd consecutive season where the Diamondbacks finished with 81 wins, they reached out to revamp portions of their offense.  Trumbo was brought in from the Angels to provide some pop with MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt.  Despite Trumbo's immense power, he barely provides offense above league average because of his lack of on-base ability (6.3% career walk rate).  Trumbo also provides little value on the base and even worse out in the field.  All told, he is projected to provide about two wins above replacement.  Considering what the Diamondbacks gave up for him, in Skaggs and Eaton, it doesn't look like they improved the team much.  They dealt with the White Sox again, this time giving up one of their top prospects in Matt Davidson for relief pitcher Addison Reed.  Reed will likely produce about 1 win above replacement for the Diamondbacks.  After trading Skaggs in their quest to find power, they turned their search to finding a new pitcher.  They were initially involved with Matt Garza and were rumored to be after Masashiro Tanaka before the Yankees outbid everyone else for his services.  Instead, the Diamondbacks overspent for a pitcher who will provide about 200 innings of averageish pitching, in Bronson Arroyo.  While Arroyo provides some value to a team, he is costing the team millions of dollars more than he should.

The Diamondbacks have a fine core of Goldschmidt, Martin Prado, Gerrardo Parra, A.J. Pollock, Didi Gregorius, Miguel Montero, Wade Miley, Patrick Corbin, and Trevor Cahill.  They also have top prospect Archie Bradley coming up which will help the team.  But I don't think the team improved where they thought they were going to and it looks like they will be around the mid-80's again, in terms of wins.  It doesn't look like they have much of a chance competing in the N.L. West against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

MVP candidate: Paul Goldschmidt. Last year, he put up an fWAR of 6.4 with an wRC+ of 156.  He is the best player on the Diamondbacks.  He looks like he'll have another season of over 30 home runs.  If he continues his strong contact skills, he might be able to approach a .300/.400/.500 slash line for the second straight year.  But it's not just his offense that makes him an MVP candidate.  He provides some value on the basepaths and has proven to be a solid defender at first base.  Even with my fairly conservative projections, especially regarding his batting average, it looks like Goldschmidt is likely to have another all-star caliber season and probably challenge for some more MVP votes.

Cy Young candidate: Patrick Corbin.  Corbin was the best pitcher on the Diamondbacks last year, posting a 3.7 fWAR by preventing runs 13% better than league average.  His FIP and ERA are nearly identical, which won't help him be mentioned as a potential ace.  Corbin looks like he is going to put up similar numbers in 2014.  Being very young, he might be a potential breakout candidate.  If that is the case, he might begin to be mentioned as an eventual leaguewide Cy Young candidate.  But because he is a young pitcher, there is always the chance of an arm injury that might derail his career.  At any rate, Corbin will be the best pitcher on the Diamondbacks for 2014.  If they expect to get closer to 90 wins, it will be because pitchers like Corbin make an additional step forward.

Up from the farm: Archie Bradley.  Bradley has all the potential of being a true number one starter in the Major Leagues before too long.  He will probably start the 2014 season in Triple A and will likely join the big league staff by the second half of the season.  He is ranked as the top prospect for the team by most talent evaluators and is also the one who is most major league ready.  There has been some speculation that the Diamondbacks might make a trade for David Price using Bradley as the centerpiece of the trade. Prospects will break your heart if you keep waiting for them, but Bradley might be one of the few ones who live up to the hype.

So, for each team, I am going to choose my favorite player to root for or player I think more people should be paying attention to.  I'll do small updates throughout the season about this team.  There will be a total of 30 players who will make up the roster, but by and large, will be about a full team in terms of roster construction.

My player: Gerardo Parra, Parra is about a league average hitter but his real value is found everywhere else.  Parra is one of the best defensive outfielders in the Major Leagues.  A combination of these things makes Parra a +3 win player.  Depending on how you feel about his defense, he can be considered an all-star caliber player.  This year, his age 27 season, could see him break out offensively.  I think Parra is a guy to watch out for this year, and potentially an all-star that not many people are talking about.  

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The other elections in Alaska

Beside having a Senate election in 9 months, Alaska voters will have a gubernatorial election and vote for their at-large representative for Congress.  We'll deal with the easy election, first.

Congressman Don Young (46% approve, 39% disapprove) is running for re-election in the state.  He is one of the most popular politicians in the state and is running against Matt Moore, a Democratic candidate and Jim McDermott, a libertarian candidate. Moore ran for the Democratic nomination for the seat in 2012 but lost in the Democratic primary to Sharon Cissna who was only able to get 29% of the vote in 2012.  McDermott ran in 2012 against Young and Cissna but was only able to get 5% of the vote in the general election.

2014 doesn't seem to be shaking out much better for Moore or McDermott.  Public Policy Polling (PPP) found Young right at the critical 50% marker.  See the table below for the results.

Don Young
50
Matt Moore
22
Jim McDermott
12
Not sure
16

Moore could potentially make this a contest, if a) he can convince more Democratic voters to vote for him, right now he's at 54% with Democratic voters and needs to be closer to 80% and b) pick up McDermott's share of independent voters, or pick off some of the independent Young supporters and make headway into those who declare themselves to be not sure, currently sitting 21% and needs to get to about 40%.  Moore has about 9 months to do that.  Right now, it looks like a blowout, but it will probably get a little closer as we get to election day.  But barring some unforeseen mishap, Young will be re-elected this year. 

The other main election happening in Alaska is the gubernatorial election.  Incumbent governor Sean Parnell (44/41) is running for re-election.  He's facing a strong challenge from oilman Bill Walker, who is running as an independent after running for governor in 2010 as a Republican, and the former mayor of Juneau, Democratic candidate Byron Mallott (21/16).  Additionally, the founder of the Alaska Constitution Party is running, as well, J.R. Myers.  The match-up doesn't look very close because the anti-Parnell votes are being split among three candidates.

Sean Parnell
41
Byron Mallott
25
J.R. Myers
3
Bill Walker
16
Not sure
15

What I want to do is see where Walker's support is coming from.  So, I am going to look at the cross-tab for political parties, first.


Democrat
Republican
Independent/Other
Sean Parnell
17
65
33
Byron Mallott
54
5
27
J.R. Myers
2
4
2
Bill Walker
7
17
20
Not sure
20
10
17

I expected almost all of Myers's support to be from those who identify as independents, because he is, you know, the founder of a third party in Alaska.  But that was not entirely the case.  

I'm also going to look at the ideology cross-tabs to look for where his support is coming from.


Very Liberal
Somewhat Liberal
Moderate
Somewhat Conservative
Very Conservative
Sean Parnell
15
19
28
58
66
Byron Mallott
57
55
34
5
1
J.R. Myers
4
1
4
2
3
Bill Walker
5
11
18
24
13
Not sure
20
15
16
11
17

Parnell is all set to win.  If he can maintain 60+% of the Republican vote and ~30+% of the Independent vote, and 10+% of the Democratic vote, it will be very improbable for Mallott to be able to win the election. 

For Mallott to win, in this situation where Parnell drops to 60% of Republicans, 30% independent vote, and 10% of the Democratic vote, he would need to improve to 70+% of the Democratic vote, ~15% of the Republican vote, and ~35-40% of the independent vote.  These are huge gains, that seem rather unlikely.  

The other way is to have Walker steal even more votes away from Parnell.  Walker is very unlikely to win the general election as he would have to severely outperform his numbers.  But if he can pull enough votes away from Parnell, Mallott could snake the election away.  I don't see that as rather likely, either. Parnell has built a very strong lead with the Republican base and he is performing very admirably with independents.  It would take quite a fall for Parnell to fall below the thresholds necessary for him to win.  

The only way that I see Mallott winning is that he finishes the next 9 months very strongly and the combination of Myers and Walker do just enough to Parnell to allow him to slip.  I don't think it's likely.  Despite not very strong numbers, Parnell should be considered pretty safe for re-election, at this point.

 

    
    

Alaska's Senate Race: Polling

Public Policy Polling (PPP) released their latest poll in Alaska, earlier this week.   Alaska has a Senate seat that the Republican Party is hoping that they can win this year.  Democratic Senator Mark Begich (43% approve, 44% disapprove) is up for re-election.  I am now obligated to tell you that Begich is a moderate Democrat, who supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), same sex marriage, and gun rights.  He is also pro-choice and enjoys walks along Alaska's coast.  Alaska has had three declared Republican challengers to his seat.

In this corner, you have failed 2010 Senate candidate Joe Miller (16/62) who believes that the 17th Amendment should be repealed and that Senate elections should be a product of the state legislature.  Unfortunately, PPP does not release polling on how Alaska's state legislature feels about Miller. In the second corner, you have former Alaska Attorney General and Alaska Department of Natural Resources chairman, Daniel S. Sullivan (31/35). Finally, we have current lieutenant Governor of Alaska, Mead Treadwell (33/31). I guess, I will casually mention that Ted Stevens had initially declared for the 2014 election, but he passed away in a plane crash in 2010.

PPP does a poll of Alaska Republican primary voters to give us an accurate snapshot of the race in the Republican primary.  We see that it is a pretty close race.

Joe Miller
20
Dan Sullivan
30
Mead Treadwell
25
Someone else/Not sure
25

PPP does a breakdown of who was polled ideologically in the primary.  

Very liberal
2
Somewhat liberal
5
Moderate
23
Somewhat conservative
33
Very conservative
37

How do the candidates fare within the ideology groups?


Very liberal
Somewhat liberal
Moderate
Somewhat conservative
Very conservative
Miller
12
13
11
20
28
Sullivan
44
23
28
32
30
Treadwell
12
27
20
30
23
Someone else/not sure
33
37
41
18
20

The Republican primary has changed a little bit since the last time that PPP polled there at the end of July.  Treadwell has lost support from nearly every section of the Republican Party, meanwhile Sullivan has picked it up.  Treadwell's loss of support is interesting because his favorability among Republican primary voters has remained vitrually identical.  Sullivan's net favorability has increased by 3 points.  Because of this, I find Treadwell's somewhat troubling, but largely illusory.  I think Treadwell is the favorite to be the GOP nominee, for the time being.  If Treadwell sees more decline over the next few months, he'll obviously not be the nominee.  But I imagine his support will pick back up again, shortly.

But, now that we looked at the GOP primary, it's time to turn our attention to the general election.  

Mark Begich
45
Joe Miller
25
Someone else/not sure
29
Mark Begich
41
Dan Sullivan
37
Someone else/not sure
22
Mark Begich
43
Mead Treadwell
37
Someone else/not sure
20
We can see from the head to head match-ups that Miller should not be the GOP nominee if they are serious about winning what looks like a fairly winnable election.  

These polls look eerily similar to what was happening the last time PPP polled Alaska.  The biggest difference being that Begich has lost his cushion that he had with Sullivan, going from a 7 point lead to a 4 point lead, despite Sullivan losing 2 points of support.  3 points of support for Treadwell went from him to the someone else/not sure pile since July.  But the difference between Treadwell and Sullivan in the general election is essentially meaningless as they fare about the same against Begich based on ideological factors.  


Very liberal
Somewhat liberal
Moderate
Somewhat conservative
Very Conservative
Begich
70
77
58
19
3
Sullivan
8
10
23
52
73
Someone else/not sure
23
13
21
28
24

Very liberal
Somewhat liberal
Moderate
Somewhat conservative
Very Conservative
Begich
70
74
61
20
5
Treadwell
8
11
21
58
69
Someone else/not sure
23
15
18
22
26
This is relying on data that forecasts 7% of the electorate as very liberal, 16% as somewhat liberal, 32% as moderate, 23% as somewhat conservative, and 21% as very conservative.  

If the Republican Party wants to win this Senate seat, they'll need to do two things.  First, they'll need to focus on appealing to the moderates of the Alaska electorate, to cut into the lead that Begich has with them.  They will also need to focus on a Get out the vote effort for the Republican party, to get it closer to 50% of the voters being somewhat or very conservative.  If they can do those two things, they'll be able to take this Senate seat.  But until I see evidence of that, I will feel confident in predicting that Begich will be re-elected.  



    

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The resignation of Rob Andrews


ongressman Rob Andrews (NJ-1) announced that he was resigning from Congress to join a Philadelphia based law firm.  Andrews, the ranking member on the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, was allegedly involved in somewhat of a campaign scandal. He was being investigated by the House Ethics Committee for using campaign funds on personal items.  Red State, the conservative news site, has already condemned Andrews as running away from the scandal. The New York Daily News, a liberal news outlet, also prominently features the scandal that Andrews was involved in.  The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) named him one of the most corrupt members of Congress in 2012 and 2013.  His resignation will be effective around Presidents' Day.  I have seen Andrews in action at a committee hearing regarding two bills about labor unions (one of which was about mandating secret elections, the other I have forgotten, I would have to check my notes) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)'s decision to allow multiple subunions within a company.  His combative nature quickly made him a personal favorite. My favorite part of the hearing is when Andrews pointed out the lack of balance from the various people testifying.
Andrews had been considered to be a moderate Democratic member of the House.  He was seen as someone who was fiscally conservative and socially liberal, more in line with the Blue Dog Coalition that many Democratic members are a part of, today.   One of the biggest times that he broke from the party was when he voted in favor of the Iraq war and even worked with President George W. Bush, in doing so. His independent voting streak probably re-enforced his idea that he was a viable candidate for a higher office.  But this changed as we get closer to the present.
The resignation will essentially end the political career for Representative Andrews.  While he was a Congressman for a number of years, he had his eyes on a more prominent position before.  He filed to run in the Democratic primary for New Jersey's Senate seat in 2008. He was defeated by Senator Frank Lautenberg in the Democratic primary. Andrews was rumored as a possible replacement for Jon Corzine's Senate seat that eventually went to Robert Menendez.  There was speculation that Andrews would primary Menendez to get the Senate seat, but Andrews declined to run.  He also ran for the Democratic nominee for the gubernatorial election in 1997, but lost in the Democratic primary.  If not for the scandal that Andrews was facing about campaign contributions, he could have been someone to look out for in running for a Senate seat in the future to replace Menendez or possibly Governor, again.  A combination of the scandal and Cory Booker's popularity and ability to replace Lautenberg, probably contributed to Andrews's decision to walk away from politics.  It is unlikely that Andrews would be able to defeat Booker in a Democratic primary, even coming from the left, as we saw with Rush Holt earlier in 2013.

Since the Republican party still is in the majority in the House, the highest a Democratic member can be on a committee or a subcommittee is a ranking member.  It is unlikely that the Democratic party will be able to re-take the House in 2014, but still the ranking member position on a subcommittee still holds some influence.  His statemate in New Jersey, Rush Holt will become the new ranking member for the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions.  If the Democratic party can re-take the House in 2014 or 2016, Holt may be able to become the chair of the subcommittee.  Many labor unions will be happy with such a development, as Holt has been a friend of the labor unions in the past and will likely receive even more support in the coming years.
Finally, there will be speculation as to who will replace Andrews.  He has not faced a competitive election since his first one, in 1990.  He has been receiving 70% or more of the vote each election cycle, since then.  The New Jersey 1st Congressional District is heavily Democratic and has voted for the Democratic candidate for President since 2000, each time voting for the Democratic candidate at a near two-thirds clip.  This will help the next candidate who wants to run for this district.  Both Andrews and the Representative before him James Florio, used the 1st Congressional District to try and springboard to a more prominent position.  Florio succeeded and was elected Governor of New Jersey.  If there is a Democratic candidate who is not only ambitious enough to run for Congress, but for Senate or the Governor's mansion, this is an ideal Congressional district to run in.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Sunshine election

The Florida gubernatorial race has changed quite a bit, since the last polling numbers were released.  Public Policy Polling (PPP) has released their newest polls for the Sunshine State. 

Former Governor Charlie Crist was leading current governor Rick Scott by 12 points in an October poll.  That has all but disappeared, as Scott is now within 2 points of Crist, in January.  Neither candidates are particularly popular as Crist’s net favorability is now at -10 and Scott’s is at -17.  While Scott’s favorability is worse, he’s trending upwards, coming from a net favorability of -22 in October to now.  Crist, meanwhile is on the decline, falling 11 points in the last few months. 

Here is how the two candidates have fared in their net favorability among ideological factors:
Scott:
Ideology
Change
Very Liberal
-2
Somewhat liberal
+17
Moderate
+10
Somewhat conservative
+14
Very Conservative
-13

Crist:
Ideology
Change
Very Liberal
-4
Somewhat liberal
-23
Moderate
-7
Somewhat conservative
-4
Very conservative
-24

Based on the values for Scott, it appears that Scott is doing a nice job reaching out to the center of the electorate, even if it is to the detriment of his base (that got him elected in the first place).  Meanwhile, it looks like Crist can’t do anything right.  He’s losing support from all sides.  Favorability numbers don’t necessarily give us a great idea of how the electorate is voting, but let’s look at the changes for Scott.  We’re comparing Scott’s vote % compared from October to January.

Ideology
Change
Total
+3
Very liberal
-5
Somewhat liberal
+7
Moderate
+5
Somewhat conservative
+10
Very conservative
+4

But most of the voting shifts have been away from Crist, not really toward Scott.  So, let’s look at this.
Ideology
Change
Total
-7
Very liberal
-2
Somewhat liberal
-18
Moderate
-8
Somewhat conservative
-9
Very conservative
-4

Basically, we are seeing that Scott is somehow appealing to the middle of the electorate.  Crist is losing what should have been an easy middle to win.  Scott’s not able to take full advantage of Crist’s loss of support, like a stronger candidate would have.  But what seemed like an easy win for Crist is looking more and more likely that Scott will be able to win re-election despite his low favorables. 


So, we might have to address why Scott is gaining popularity while Crist is losing it.