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Political Roundup – May 16, 2024

Updated: May 21


Maryland: Why Trone Lost There are specific reasons why Maryland Rep. David Trone (D-Potomac) lost to Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) by a large margin, even with his huge financial advantage. First, Trone's exorbitant spending, estimated to be $62 million of self-contributed capital (an all-time record candidate investment for a Senate primary), was placing him ahead in the polling, but not to the point that he was substantially pulling away from Alsobrooks. Trone likely oversaturated the public to the point where people tuned him out due to overexposure. The Trone campaign strategy appeared misapplied in other ways as well. For example, he attempted to secure the left flank of the party, firmly entrenched with Alsobrooks, leaving more centrist Democrats in places like Baltimore County and Annapolis with no place to go. The last ads of his campaign, attacking former Gov. Larry Hogan, also reverberated negatively against Trone. Though Hogan is a Republican, he generally has a positive image, even among Democrat voters. Alsobrooks was strongly connected with African-American communities in Prince George's County and Baltimore, which is very important in a Maryland Democratic primary, and could partially compensate for being outspent. In addition, Alsobrooks was smart in the ways that she spent the money she had, working the ground early and spending her funds late in the campaign, knowing she could not equal Trone's largess.

The entire Democratic congressional delegation, with the exception of retiring Sen. Cardin, Rep. Ruppersberger and Gov. Moore, also failed to back the congressman, damaging his credibility. For Trone to win the nomination, he would have needed to carry five of the state's eight congressional domains, which he did not. He won only the Republican Eastern Shore district and his own western Maryland 6th District.

The sum of these factors, in addition to three verbal and strategic gaffes at the end of his campaign, culminated in what appears to be a 12-point loss for Trone, even with an approximate 10:1 spending advantage.


North Dakota At-Large District: A Tight Primary Unfolding 

Three-term incumbent Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-Bismarck) is running for governor, leaving a competitive GOP congressional primary in his wake.

The contest, heading for a June 11 primary election, currently appears to be too close to call. DFM Research findings place former state Rep. Rich Becker leading Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak by a 29-26% margin, with former Miss America Cara Mund trailing at 14%. Thus, between Becker and Fedorchak, the race appears as a toss-up. The plurality primary winner will have the inside track toward winning the vacant seat in November. 


North Dakota:  Rep. Armstrong Up in Two Polls

DFM Research and Guidant Polling & Strategy returned survey data on the impending Republican primary for North Dakota's open governor's race. Both found Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-Bismarck) leading Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller. DFM Research has Rep. Armstrong leading Miller with a 56-18% advantage, while Guidant favors Mr. Armstrong by a 60-19% margin. The eventual Republican nominee will be heavily favored in the general election to replace retiring Gov. Doug Burgum (R).



Virginia:  Statewide Gambling and Candidate Polling Results

An organization attempting to defeat a Virginia gambling ballot proposition, Virginians Against Neighborhood Slot Machines, commissioned a joint statewide poll from two major polling organizations: Fabrizio Ward & Associates, a Republican firm, and the Democratic polling group Impact Research. The pollsters found wide opposition to the gambling measure (opponents outnumbered supporters by a 20-point margin).

They then tested additional statewide contests and found President Biden holding a tenuous one-point ballot test lead over former President Donald Trump, while Sen. Tim Kaine (D) outpaced retired US Navy Captain and 2022 congressional candidate Hung Cao (R) by twelve percentage points. If additional research suggests a tightening at the presidential level, Virginia could move into a more competitive political realm in the coming months.


Jim Ellis is a 35-year veteran of politics at the state and national levels. He has served ss executive director for two national political action committees, as well as a consultant to the three national Republican Party organizations in DC, the National Federation of Independent Business, and various national conservative groups.

Born and raised in Sacramento, California, he earned a B. A. in Political Science from the University of California at Davis in 1979. Jim raised his daughter, Jacqueline, alone after his wife died following a tragic car accident. He helped establish the Joan Ellis Victims Assistance Network in Rochester, NH. Jim also is a member of the Northern Virginia Football Officials Association, which officiates high school games throughout the region.

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