Election Insights
Election Insights is a political analysis publication of the Business Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC). BIPAC is an independent, bipartisan organization, that is supported by several hundred of the nation’s leading businesses and trade associations.  The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent the views of our organization.


November 16, 2018
Midterm Voter Turnout Highest in a Century With Some Races Still Too Close To Call
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • President: first post-midterm national poll shows former Vice President Joe Biden leading other Democratic party contenders
  • 2018 Election Report: midterm voter turnout highest in a century
  • Arizona Senate: should appointed Sen. Jon Kyl resigns following the lame duck session as anticipated, speculation growing next appointment could be recent Senate candidate Rep. Martha McSally (R) 
  • Florida Senate: recount lawsuits mean long delays in determining winner
  • California & NJ:  in late results, Democrats take CA-10/Denham, CA-48/Rohrabacher, possibly CA 39/Royce-Open and 45/Walters; NJ-3/MacArthur flips to Democrats as well
  • ME-2: ranked choice system changes outcome with Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R) losing to state Rep. Jared Golden (D)
  • UT-4: Rep. Mia Love (R) comes storming back and within 1,229 votes from Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams (D)
  • Florida Governor: Rep. Ron DeSantis (R) unofficial winner over Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D)

President

First Post-Midterm National Poll:  Morning Consult and the Politico publication joined forces to test the national Democratic presidential primary, the first such released survey after the 2018 mid-term election.  According to the result (11/7-9; 1,952 US registered voters; 773 Democratic primary voters), former Vice President Joe Biden jumps out to a lead with more than one-quarter support, but far from reaching the majority plateau. Mr. Biden commands 26% in the poll, followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders with 19%, and newcomer Beto O'Rourke, the Texas Congressman and defeated US Senate candidate, who posts 8% preference.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ), follow with 5, 4 & 3%, respectively.  Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg draws 2% support. Nine other candidates attracted just 1%, while four lesser known individuals did not even register on the poll.

Election Update

Turnout Report:  National voter turnout reports are surfacing and University of Florida professor Michael McDonald, who manages the United States Election Project, estimates that more than 115 million people will have voted in the 2018 midterm election when all the results are final.  This is an all-time record in terms of midterm aggregate vote, and the eligible voter turnout percentage of an estimated 48.9% is the highest since the 1914 midterm.

By contrast in 2014, the national voter turnout was 83.2 million people, or just under 37% of the eligible voters. That total was the lowest in the post-World War II era. The 2016 presidential election saw almost 137 million voters cast a ballot, the highest aggregate ever.

Senate

Arizona:  While Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) conceded her US Senate battle to Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) on Monday, speculation is growing that she still may find herself in the Senate sooner rather than later.  Should Sen. Jon Kyl (R) resign after the lame duck session, as he indicated that he would when he accepted Gov. Doug Ducey's (R) appointment, Rep. McSally would be in prime position for the next appointment.

In any event, the Arizona seat will be in special election mode during the 2020 regular cycle. Sen. John McCain (R) was re-elected in 2016, meaning this seat will again come before the electorate for the six-year term in 2022.  Therefore, the appointed Senator must stand before the voters in the next regular election.  Among Democrats, two names are quickly surfacing as possible candidates.  Former Republican Attorney General Grant Woods and US Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) are frequently being mentioned as possible special election contenders.

Florida:  The recount deadline expired on Thursday, and 66 of Florida's 67 counties submitted new totals after completing the machine recount process.  The one county not complying, Palm Beach, did not meet the time requirement because of machine malfunctioning.  Their antiquated system can only count races consecutively and not simultaneously.  Because of more than 174,000 ballots being mis-read or mis-counted and then the machines over-heating, all 600,000+ votes must be resubmitted.  In addition to the US Senate race being legally within the recount guidelines, so are the Governor and Agriculture statewide contests.  In addition, Palm Beach County has one state House of Representatives race that is also in political limbo.

Counting Palm Beach's original numbers, which were re-submitted at the deadline, Gov. Rick Scott (R) leads Sen. Bill Nelson (D) by 12,603 votes, an increase of 47 votes.  The next step is constituting three-member canvassing teams in all counties who will review contested ballots and submit them to hand counting.  Seven lawsuits have been filed regarding including or excluding pockets of ballots in the various counties, the largest vote cache in Broward County. Palm Beach is ordered to have its recounts submitted by 3 pm on Sunday.

Massachusetts:  Sen. Ed Markey (D) announced this week that he will stand for re-election to a second full term in 2020, but it might not be without significant primary opposition.  Though he claims to have no plans to challenge Sen. Markey, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Salem) is not completely ruling out doing so. Before winning a special Senate election after then-Sen. John Kerry (D) became Secretary of State and clinching a full term in 2014, Sen. Markey served in the House for 37 years. He would again be rated as a heavy favorite in both the ensuing primary and general elections.

House

California:  The Golden State's voting system that allows voters to postmark their ballots on Election Day is again making California the last state in the union to call their races, and the process is likely to drag on for a much longer period of time.  State and county authorities estimate that they have an astounding 3.4 million mail ballots remaining to count.  Adding to the approximately 8 million votes already tabulated would take the statewide voter turnout number to the 11.5 million range. In contrast, only 7.3 million voted in the 2014 midterm election.  Almost 14.2 million participated in the 2016 presidential campaign.

CA-10; NJ-3:  Two more congressional campaigns have been clinched.  Both Reps. Jeff Denham (R-CA) and Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) have now lost their seats to Democratic challengers Josh Harder and Andy Kim, respectively.  With these victories, it appears that the new Democratic majority could grow to as high as 235, meaning an increase of 40 seats.  Five races remain uncalled, and Democrats look well positioned in at least three of the remaining undecided House campaigns, if not all.

CA-45 & 39:Though this race has not yet been officially called, it is appearing more likely that Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) will become yet another Republican casualty of the California vote. Now falling behind challenger Katie Porter (D) by just under 4,000 votes, the swing toward the Democrat has eclipsed 10,000 votes since the post-Election Day counting began. There could still reasonably be about 75,000 votes still to count, but the trends here favor a Porter victory.

If the open 39th District contest between Young Kim (R) and Gil Cisneros (D) also goes Democratic, although that election is still within 1,000 votes and Ms. Kim leading, the party will have converted six Republican seats in California alone when tabulations are finally completed at the end of the month.

CA-48:  Though thousands of votes will be added to the final total, a projection was made in what should be the safely Republican 48th Congressional District, a seat fully contained within Orange County.  Businessman Harley Rouda (D) defeated Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa), ostensibly ending the Congressman's 30-year political career. 

ME-2:  As expected, the Ranked Choice Voter system that allows people who vote for minor candidates to effectively have more voting power than those who support major party candidates changed the outcome of Maine's 2nd District campaign.  Now, Democratic state Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston) will be declared the victor by just under 3,000 votes, as the second and third choices from the voters who supported the two independent candidates were factored in to the major party totals.  The incumbent, Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-Oakland/Bangor) has already filed a lawsuit against the instant run-off procedure.

MD-6:Democratic businessman David Trone (D) won the open district campaign last Tuesday, but just after his victory a federal court ruled that his congressional district boundaries constitute an illegal gerrymander. Should the ruling hold through the Appellate courts, the legislature will be forced to re-draw the seat, and any adjacent districts that the new boundaries affect.  Thinking that the district may become more Republican, state Delegate Neil Parrott (R-Funkstown/ Hagerstown) announced that he is forming a 2020 congressional exploratory committee in order to possibly launch a federal campaign at a later date.

North Carolina:  Democrats will end the decade again filing suit against the North Carolina congressional and state legislative maps, as they have done consistently since 2011.  Even when they were successful in forcing a re-draw, the NC congressional map did not improve upon the 10R-3D split that Democrats have been attempting in vain to change.

Their chances are now considerably better. Armed with a new 5-2 majority on the state Supreme Court, the Democrats filed suit this week emulating the Pennsylvania strategy of challenging under the state constitution.  The US Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to such a Pennsylvania lawsuit last year, thus opening the door for other similar legal maneuvers.  The North Carolina Democrats are the first to make the subsequent move.

NC-9:  Another close congressional was called, this one in the Charlotte, NC area.  Here, Baptist former pastor Mark Harris (R) looks to have clinched about a 2,000-vote victory over businessman Dan McCready (D).  It appeared that Mr. McCready was well positioned to score an upset, especially immediately after the May primary when Mr. Harris denied three-term Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte) re-nomination. In electing a Republican, it appears this district defied the national trend.

TX-23:  The TX-23 campaign result has been the most difficult to read.  On election night, Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) had been projected as the winner. Later in the evening, the projection was rescinded, only to be later reinstated. Now, with Democratic challenger Gina Ortiz Jones challenging some ballots, the race appears to be undecided once again.  The current count stands with Rep. Hurd holding a 1,150-vote edge over Ms. Jones from over 209,000 votes cast.

UT-4:  In a lead for congressional challenger Ben McAdams (D), the Salt Lake County Mayor, that had grown almost to 9,000 votes, Rep. Mia Love (R-Saratoga Springs) appeared in grave danger of losing the congressional seat that she has represented for four years.  But post-election counting from the rural areas has seen her storm back, and she is now within 1,229 votes of Mr. McAdams.  At this point, Ms. Love is filing a lawsuit to halt the remaining counting so further signature verification can begin of each mailed ballot.  Approximately 40,000 votes remain uncounted.  Models are present suggesting that each candidate could ultimately win, but the more likely victor remains Mr. McAdams.

Governor

Florida:  Continuing the Florida recount story (see Florida Senate above), the Governor's race is much closer to concluding.  The statewide recount, sans Palm Beach County, now finds former US Rep. Ron DeSantis (R) leading Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) by 33,683 votes.  Since this race did not fall within ¼ percent after the recount, the three-member county canvassing process will not occur.  Therefore, after Sunday, DeSantis will likely be declared the unofficial winner pending lawsuit resolution.

Kentucky:  Now that the 2018 midterm elections are behind us, potential office seekers are turning their attention toward 2019.  The Kentucky Governor's race will be on the ballot next year with Gov. Matt Bevin (R) presumably seeking re-election to a second term.  He has already drawn opposition from Attorney General Andy Beshear (D), son of former Gov. Steve Beshear (D), who now has company in the Democratic primary.  State House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins (D-Sandy Hook) announced his gubernatorial campaign this Wednesday, and others are expected to join.

Louisiana:  Attorney General and former US Congressman Jeff Landry (R), who appeared to be preparing a challenge to Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) next year, announced late this week that he will seek re-election to his current position.  The move sends yet another signal that Sen. John Kennedy (R) will enter the race.  Earlier in the week, Mr. Landry said he would not run for Governor if Mr. Kennedy chose to become a candidate.

The Senator has said he will make his political plans known before December 1st, but all indications now point to him running for Governor.   Not having to run for re-election until 2022, Mr. Kennedy does not have to risk his Senate seat in order to run in a 2019 statewide campaign.


November 9, 2018
Midterm Election Recap
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Senate:  depending on the final outcome in Arizona and Florida, GOP gains between one and three seats
  • House:  new Democratic majority is likely to exceed 230 seats with a net of at least 35 conversions 
  • Governor:  Democrats make significant gains in 36 races, with new party division of 27R and 23D, a net gain of seven seats for Democrats
  • Mississippi: Senate race goes to run-off between Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) and former US Agriculture Secretary & former Congressman Mike Espy (D)
  • Georgia Governor: Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) declares victory, but race not over

Senate

Senate Election Results:  Republicans have held the Senate majority in the election conducted on November 6th.  Depending upon the final outcome in Arizona and Florida, the Republican gain will be between one and three seats. Democratic incumbents Heidi Heitkamp (North Dakota), Joe Donnelly (Indiana), and Claire McCaskill (Missouri) were all defeated as was Republican Senator Dean Heller (Nevada).

Alabama:After Sen. Doug Jones (D) won the controversial Alabama special election in 2017, it was clear he would become the Republicans' number one target in the 2020 regular election. The Senator's decision to oppose Justice Kavanaugh's confirmation heightened his top target status even more.  Now, he may draw a very well-known Republican opponent.  Departing Attorney General and former US Senator Jeff Sessions confirms that he would consider entering the race to attempt to regain the Senate seat he relinquished to become Attorney General.

Arizona:  The race between Reps. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) and Martha McSally (R-Arizona) has yet to be called. More than 460,000 ballots remain uncounted. Rep. Sinema took a small 9,610 vote lead after the first day of counting that included votes not previously tabulated in heavily Democratic Pima County.  Prior to this, Rep. McSally held leads of between 15-32,000 votes throughout the original count.  Local Republican authorities have filed lawsuits against county clerks in several counties, attempting to ensure that the state adopts uniform procedures for handling questionable mail ballots and those delivered to "emergency voting centers."  It is likely that this situation will drag on for days.

Florida:  While the statewide vote count continues to draw closer as more votes are continually counted and controversy arises over the process in Broward County, Senate candidate Rick Scott (R) has accused the Democrats of attempting to "steal" the race and has sued at least one election supervisor.  Originally, it appeared that he had won a close victory.  In his capacity as Governor, Mr. Scott has ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the counting.  This outcome is very much in doubt and will likely go on for many days reminiscent of the 2000 Florida recount that decided the presidential contest that proved one of the closest in history.  Mr. Scott's opponent in this race is Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

Though the margin is greater in the open Governor's race between former Rep. Ron DeSantis (R) and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D), the outcome of this contest is also now in question.

Mississippi:  The partisan division includes the Republicans winning the Mississippi special election.  The race now advances to a November 27th run-off election because neither candidate reached the 50% mark.  Appointed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R), however, is a heavy favorite to defeat former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi Congressman Mike Espy (D).

Montana:  The Montana Senate election proved close as predicted, and now we have a final projection. Sen. Jon Tester (D) has been re-elected to a third term, winning 51.2 - 46.0% with the remainder of absentee and provisional ballots still to be counted.  Therefore, the numbers are not final, but the quantity of outstanding ballots cannot alter Sen. Tester's lead. Thus, the outcome has been officially declared.  The Tester victory guarantees that the Democrats will have at least 46 Senators in the next Congress.

House

House Election Results:  Democrats successfully took control of the House and when the final nine uncalled races are determined, the new Democratic majority is likely to exceed 230 seats meaning that the final gain number will exceed a net 35 conversions.

CA-25: Though there could be as many as 100,000 votes still to count, Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) announced that he is conceding the congressional race to Democratic opponent Katie Hill. It is obvious that the Knight political team has calculated that he cannot make up his current deficit even with the large number of outstanding ballots.

CA-49: As has been the speculation for months, the San Diego area coastal district long held by retiring Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Vista) has now officially flipped to the Democrats. Attorney Mike Levin (D) has defeated Board of Equalization member Diane Harkey (R), 53.5 - 46.5%, with many more ballots to be added. Though thousands of ballots remain to be counted in each California congressional district, victory projections have been made in all but five of the state's 53 CDs.

CA-50: Another of the California contests has been decided. In San Diego County, embattled Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Alpine) has officially been re-elected despite his outstanding federal indictment on a multitude of campaign finance charges. Mr. Hunter defeated Ammar Campa-Najjar (D) by a current 54.3 - 45.7% victory margin.

The other indicted or past indicted sitting lawmakers, Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), respectively, were both also re-elected on Tuesday night.

GA-6: Democratic challenger Lucy McBath was declared the winner of the contested 6th District race as she built a 2,900-vote lead in late counting. Rep. Karen Handel (R-Roswell), who won the seat in a 2017 special election despite having $36 million spent against her, could not hold it in the regular election. She has formally conceded the race to Ms. McBath, so there will be no recount of the eventual final result.

GA-7: Though the state's 6th District race has now concluded, the adjacent 7th District is still very much undecided. Late counting has eroded Rep. Rob Woodall's (R-Lawrenceville) lead to 890 votes with an unannounced number of ballots outstanding. The Democratic candidate is former state House Budget Committee staff director Carolyn Bourdeaux.

MN-1: In one of the few Republican conversions of a Democratic seat, GOP businessman Jim Hagedorn (R), whose father served four terms in the US House, defeated Democrat Dan Feehan in another race that has been finally projected. Mr. Hagedorn will succeed Democrat Tim Walz who left the House to run successfully for Governor. The Hagedorn victory margin was a scant 1,312 votes, or 50.2 - 49.8%. This is the second consecutive close election in this southern Minnesota district that covers most of the area on the Iowa border. In 2016, Rep. Walz was re-elected with just a 50.3% margin.

MT-AL: While a projection was made to give Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester his victory, at-large Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman) was also re-elected. Mr. Gianforte leads the race by 24,801 votes with ballots remaining, but he has been declared the victor over former state Rep. Kathleen Williams (D). The Gianforte victory percentage spread is 51.2 - 46.0%. The Congressman was originally elected in a 2017 special election, so he has now been elected to his first full term.

NY-22: Though the outcome in this Upstate New York race is razor-thin, it appears that freshman Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford) has been defeated. The race was originally called for state Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi (D), but then the result appeared to be unclear when more ballots were counted. In the end, however, Mr. Brindisi looks to have scored a 1,293-vote win pending further counting and possible individual vote challenges.

WA-3: In another close contest, four-term Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler (R-Vancouver) has been projected as the victor over Democratic candidate Carolyn Long. Washington, like California, allows voters to postmark their ballots on Election Day, so the counting process can consume days, if not weeks, to complete. It is clear, however, that her 13,000+ vote advantage would hold through the final counting process, hence her projection. The current percentage division is 52.6 - 47.4.

WA-8: The open Republican 8th District from which Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Auburn) is retiring has gone Democratic. Late yesterday, pediatrician Kim Shrier (D) was declared the winner, defeating former statewide candidate and ex-state Senator Dino Rossi (R). Dr. Shrier has a 12,600+ vote lead entering final counting, which is enough to compensate for any gains that Mr. Rossi could see as the vote count progresses. This is Dr. Shrier's first run for public office. With this Republican seat converted to the Democrats it appears the latter party will gain more than 30 seats.

Governor

Gubernatorial Election Results: Democrats made significant gains in the 36 Governor's races held on November 6th. The party converted state houses in Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin, while Georgia and now Florida appear to be undecided. Republicans converted the Independent-held state house in Alaska. If Georgia and Florida hold for the leading GOP candidate, the new gubernatorial party division will be 27R - 23D, a net gain of seven seats for Democrats.

The Democratic victories in Michigan and Wisconsin have major 2021 redistricting implications, though the GOP did hold both state legislative chambers in each state. Michigan voters appear to have adopted a redistricting commission ballot proposition, but that procedure will undoubtedly be challenged in court. Republicans held the critical gubernatorial position in Ohio, again in a redistricting context, as well as Florida, if the current count holds through the post-election counting process.

Florida: See Florida Senate above.

Georgia: Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) has declared victory in the Governor's race and resigned his current statewide position. The Democratic nominee, former state House Minority Leader Stacy Abrams (D), however, is pursuing all options in the post-election counting process. Under Georgia law, winning candidates must receive majority support. The current vote count, and ballot tabulations are still ongoing, puts Mr. Kemp's percentage at 50.3%. Republicans, however, are confident that his margin will remain about 50%. If Ms. Abrams is right and he drops below 50%, the two candidates will advance to a December 4th run-off election. This situation will continue to remain undecided for the next several days.


November 2, 2018
Four Days To Go With Senate and House Control On The Line 
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Senate: all competitive races tight headed to election day
  • MT-AL: Rep. Greg Gianforte (R) and former state Rep. Kathleen Williams (D) race dropping into toss-up category
  • PA-16: Rep. Mike Kelly (R) coming into play in close race with challenger, attorney Ron DiNicola
  • Alaska Gov: new two-way race now a dead heat between former US Sen. Mark Begich (D) and ex-state Senator Mike Dunleavy (R)
  • Florida Gov:  race tight as usual between Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) and Rep. Ron DeSantis (R)

President 2020

Democrats:  Last week, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D), seeking re-election this year but believed to be a potential 2020 presidential candidate, made several statements pledging to serve her full six-year term if winning again on November 6th.  Early this week, she partially walked those comments back, saying that she would make any serious decision regarding a 2020 national campaign after the midterm elections.

Hillary Clinton, responding to speculation that she might again become a presidential candidate, apparently is not closing the door on such an effort.  According to a New York Times story, Ms. Clinton at first ruled out running again in an interview with another journalist, but then began to hedge and stated that she would "like to be President."

Senate

California:  Two new California statewide polls again show Democratic challenger Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles state Senator, pulling into range of veteran incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein in the double-Democratic general election.  According to Probolsky Research, a frequent California pollster, Sen. Feinstein leads Mr. de Leon only 41-35% in their most recent study (10/25-30; 900 CA registered voters).  Mr. de Leon, however, has little in the way of resources to compete in this most expensive of political states.

The second poll comes from the University of California at Berkeley.  This study (10/19-25; 1,333 CA likely voters) produces a similar 45-36% split.  It appears Sen. Feinstein will be re-elected next week, but the numbers show she could have been primed for an upset against a stronger opponent.

Florida:  Not surprisingly, new polls were released in the nip and tuck Florida Senate race.  The University of North Florida (10/23-26; 1,051 FL likely voters; automated) and Suffolk University (10/24-28; 500 FL likely voters) both went into the field and found Sen. Bill Nelson (D) clinging to small leads over Gov. Rick Scott (R).  UNF posts the ballot test at 47-46% in the Senator's favor, while Suffolk finds an equivalent 45-43% point spread.

Two national pollsters (SSRS for CNN and the Trafalgar Group) and a local Florida organization (St. Pete Polls) all see a Nelson 49-47% edge.  The margins again suggest that either man can still win this race as we enter the campaign’s last week.  With early voting already more than half-way through, it is likely that as much as 50% of the statewide vote is already in the ballot box.

Indiana:  We are now seeing a spate of Indiana Senate polls in a race that once had only a dearth of information.  Early in the week it appeared that GOP challenger Mike Braun was establishing a clear lead over Sen. Joe Donnelly (D).  A new Cygnal polling firm survey (10/26-27; 505 IN likely voters) finds Mr. Braun holding a 49-46% advantage, which is a similar result to several other current surveys.  But, a late breaking Fox News survey (10/27-30; 722 IN likely voters) finds Sen. Donnelly reasserting himself into the lead.  The Fox results give the Senator a 45-38% advantage.

Montana:  The University of Montana conducted their Big Sky Poll, and Democrats are faring well in the tabulations.  The survey was conducted from 10/10-18 and interviewed 607 Montana registered voters of which 533 were determined to be likely voters.  According to the ballot test, Sen. Tester maintains a 49-39% advantage over state Auditor Matt Rosendale (R).

New Jersey:  Emerson College is the latest to survey the Garden State Senate race (10/24-26; 659 NJ likely voters) and, like other recent polls, detects a close race between embattled Sen. Bob Menendez (D) and former pharmaceutical company CEO Bob Hugin (R).  The Emerson results find Sen. Menendez's lead at 47-42%, on the cusp of being outside the margin of error.  The Senator must overcome a consistently poor favorability index of 34:53% according to the Emerson data, which is in line with other statewide polling.

New Mexico:  New Mexico former Governor and Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson has made a difference in the Senate race in that the well-defined three-way format makes the race closer. Yet, first term incumbent Martin Heinrich (D) is still well positioned to win re-election.

Pacific Market Research conducted a poll for KRQE News 13 in Albuquerque (10/19-24; 400 NM likely voters) and finds Sen. Heinrich leading New Mexico Labor Commission member Mick Rich (R) and Mr. Johnson, 40-28-22%.  When undecideds are projected, both Heinrich and Rich gain, but Johnson remains unchanged. Sen. Heinrich's re-election is not in doubt, but there is a good chance he will win with only a plurality vote.

Texas:  Quinnipiac University just returned from the field in the Lone Star State (10/22-28; 1,078 TX likely voters) and finds Sen. Ted Cruz (R) maintaining a small lead over Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-El Paso).  The ballot test results project Sen. Cruz to be holding a 51-46% edge. This compares with the same respondents giving Gov. Greg Abbott (R) a much stronger 54-40% advantage over former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez (D).

Two days ago, Dixie Strategies released a survey in Utah that found GOP Rep. Mia Love (R-Saratoga Springs) trailing Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams (D) by almost seven percentage points.  The survey was met with bias complaints. Yesterday, the same polling firm publicized their new Texas results (10/25-26; 588 TX likely voters) that give GOP Sen. Ted Cruz (R) arguably his largest polling lead during the entire election cycle.  The Dixie Texas survey finds Sen. Cruz holding a 52-42% advantage over Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-El Paso).

House

CA-50: Survey USA polling for the San Diego Union Tribune (10/25-29; 547 CA-50 likely voters) finds Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) leading Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, 48-45%.

MI-13:  When Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit) resigned his seat at the beginning of this year, Gov. Rick Snyder (R) scheduled the replacement election concurrently with the regular campaign timetable.  In the August Democratic primary, the regular election and the special election produced two different winners largely because not every regular election candidate entered the special election field.  The full-term Democratic primary winner is former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib, and she will be sworn into office as part of the new freshman class.  Yet, Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones won the special election nomination.  This means, Ms. Jones would only serve in the coming lame duck session.

With no Republican on Tuesday's ballot, Ms. Jones has now filed as a write-in candidate, launching a long shot effort to win the full term.  And, should she fail, which is a virtual certainty, Ms. Jones may decide not to serve in the lame duck session.   She has asked the House Ethics Committee to rule on her inquiry that would allow her to serve the short term without resigning from the Detroit City Council. She is indicating that should the Committee reject her inquiry, she would likely decline to enter Congress in order to keep her local position.

MT-AL:  Former state Rep. Kathleen Williams (D) is making a strong run at freshman Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman), raising over $3.2 million for her race and pulling close to the new Congressman in the polling.  The University of Montana's Big Sky Poll (see Montana Senate above) actually finds Ms. Williams ticking ahead of Rep. Gianforte, 45.8% to 45.3%, but from the same sample that appears to contain a Democratic skew.  It is likely, however, that this race is closing and now must be added to the highly competitive realm.

New Mexico:  The Carroll Strategies firm conducted a survey for KOB News 4 in Albuquerque, testing the state's two open congressional seats that the respective major party gubernatorial nominees are vacating.  If the polling is correct, it appears that each party will keep the seat that it currently occupies.

In Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham's open 1st District, former state Democratic Party chair and Tribal Administrator Debra Haaland is well ahead of frequent Republican nominee, Janice Arnold-Jones.  The KOB poll (10/29; 452 likely NM-2 likely voters; automated) posts Ms. Haaland to a 51-43% advantage in an Albuquerque anchored seat that has moved solidly into the Democratic column since Ms. Grisham first won here in 2012.

In Rep. Steve Pearce's (R-Hobbs) 2nd District, the KOB poll (10/29; 338 NM-2 likely voters; automated) projects GOP state Rep. Yvette Harrell (R-Alamogordo) to be leading attorney Xochitl Torres-Small (D) by a 47-42% spread.  This is a must-win Republican seat, so Ms. Harrell assuming a late lead is welcome news for the candidate and party leaders.

NY-27:  Turning to New York, Rep. Chris Collins (R-Clarence/Batavia) holds a close 44-40% edge over Democrat Nate McMurray according to a new Siena College/New York Times survey (10/24-29; 608 NY-27 likely voters).

NC-2: In another among the far-reaching number of competitive Republican seats, Rep. George Holding (R-Raleigh) looks to be in much better position as the election draws near even though Democrats appear to be in a more favorable position during the statewide early voting cycle.  According to a new Survey USA poll (10/24-28; 565 NC-2 likely voters), Rep. Holding has re-opened a 49-40% lead over former state Rep. Linda Coleman (D-Raleigh).

PA-16:  A Susquehanna Polling & Research survey finds four-term Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Butler) dropping behind his challenger, attorney and former congressional nominee Ron DiNicola, in the newly constructed western Pennsylvania district that stretches from Lake Erie through Butler County.  The Susquehanna data (10/29-30; 405 PA-16 likely voters) finds Rep. Kelly trailing Mr. DiNicola, 51-47%.

Upon a deeper review of the polling questionnaire and responses, however, we see push questions about President Trump being asked before the ballot test. Such a process usually tends to skew subsequent answers.  Therefore, these results are probably not a wholly accurate picture of how the candidates stand, but there is little doubt that this is a competitive contest.

UT-4:  In a survey result that Rep. Mia Love's (R-Saratoga Springs) campaign pollster heavily disputes, Dixie Strategies, polling for KUTV News 2 in Salt Lake City (10/25; 936 UT-4 likely voters; automated), finds Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams (D) polling beyond the Congresswoman by just over six-points, thus exceeding the polling margin of error.  The ballot test finds a 50.5-43% spread in the Democratic candidate's favor.  All other surveys have found a tight race, most of them with Rep. Love leading within the margin of error.

Governor

Alaska:  A new Alaska Survey Research poll (10/26-29; 500 AK likely voters) finds former US Senator Mark Begich (D) pulling into a virtual tie with ex-state Senator Mike Dunleavy (R) in the now open Governor's campaign.  The poll finds Dunleavy holding the smallest of edges, 45.5 - 45.3%, over Mr. Begich.  The race has obviously tightened substantially since Gov. Bill Walker (I) exited the race and threw his support behind Begich.

Florida:  The previously covered North Florida University survey that sees only a one-point difference in the Senate race (see Florida Senate above) finds Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) jumping out to a 49-43% advantage over resigned Rep. Ron DeSantis (R), his largest lead of the general election campaign.  Most other polling finds Mr. Gillum to be ahead, but well within the polling margin of error, usually only a point or two.

New Mexico:  The aforementioned Pacific Market Research media poll (see New Mexico Senate above) also tested the open Governor's race. The results from this race appear consistent with other data we've seen here. PMR sees Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-Albuquerque) leading Rep. Steve Pearce (R-Hobbs), 48-39%.  The sample size of 400 likely voters is low, meaning the error factor is higher.  While certain data has shown a closer race, most of the polling gives Ms. Grisham a lead within this poll's range. Gov. Susana Martinez (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Texas:   From the aforementioned Dixie Strategies survey (see Texas Senate above), Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is posted to a strong 26-point lead over Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez (D), 59-33%.  Though this poll provides Gov. Abbott a much stronger lead than Quinnipiac University's 54-40% result, which was released only a day earlier, the Dixie numbers are actually more consistent with other recent published data. Regardless of the projected margin, Gov. Abbott is well on his way to securing a second term.


October 26, 2018
Final Countdown to the Midterms
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Indiana Senate: race turning toward Republican candidate Mike Braun
  • Mississippi Senate: headed for a run-off on November 27th
  • CA-48: Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R) in dead heat with challenger Harley Rouda (D)
  • GA-6 & 7: Democrats making outside run against Rep. Karen Handel (R) and Rep. Rob Woodall (R)
  • Alaska Governor: first two-way race poll between former US Senator Mark Begich (D) and former state Sen. Mike Dunleavy (R) shows Dunleavy with 48-44% lead
  • South Dakota Governor: race between US at-large Rep. Kristi Noem (R) and state Senate Minority Leader Billie Sutton (D) now a flat tie

Senate

Arizona:  The Arizona-based Data Orbital polling firm (10/16-17; 600 AZ likely voters) finds Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) again assuming a small lead over Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson).  But, the results are from a turnout model that project a record Democratic surge and another that forecasts a historically-based high Democratic turnout.  Under the record Democratic turnout model, which means the party's vote is nine points higher than past midterm turnouts, Sinema leads 48-40%.  Under a turnout projection that gives the Democrats a participation factor on the high side of actual voter history but not record-breaking - which means a five-points higher than average Democratic vote according to DO - Sinema posts a 46-41% result.

California:  A new Public Policy Institute of California survey suggests that a politically weakened Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) will be re-elected in less than two weeks.  According to the PPIC poll (10/12-21; 1,700 CA adults; 989 CA likely voters), Sen. Feinstein continues to lead state Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) by a 43-27% count.

Florida:  The latest public survey from a plethora of polling comes from Gray Television/Strategic Research (10/16-23; 800 FL likely voters).  This data gave Sen. Bill Nelson (D) another slight one-point lead, 46-45%, over Gov. Rick Scott (R).  The Gray poll is another example of late data bringing this race back into the toss-up realm after several polls had projected three-term incumbent Nelson to be pulling away.  A day before, Florida Atlantic University (10/18-21; 740 FL likely voters) released their latest survey.  They see Gov. Rick Scott (R) returning to the lead, 42-41%, meaning we can again categorize this race as a "pick 'em" campaign.

Indiana:  While the Indiana Senate race, commonly viewed as a toss-up, has seen little in the way of released public polling until just recently, now features three new released surveys. Survey USA poll (10/12-16; 1,400 IN adults, 1,048 registered voters; 816 likely voters) finds Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) clinging only to a 41-40% slight edge over former state Representative and international businessman Mike Braun (R).  But, the other two, from Mason Strategies (10/15-20; 600 IN likely voters) and American Viewpoint (10/14-17; 800 IN likely voters), post Mr. Braun to a lead. Mason projects Mr. Braun to a 47-43% edge. American Viewpoint has his lead at 44-40%.

Michigan:  The new EPIC/MRA poll for the Detroit Free Press and several television stations (10/18-23; 600 MI "active" voters) sees retired Army Ranger and manufacturing company owner John James (R) coming within single digits of Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) for the first time.  The poll results project the spread between the two candidates to be 49-42% in the Senator's favor.  Though Mr. James may be making this campaign a bit tighter, it appears his upward move will be too little, too late.

Minnesota:  A new Minneapolis Star Tribune/Minnesota Public Radio poll (10/15-17; 800 MN likely voters) shows state Sen. Karin Housley (R-St. Croix River Valley) closing the gap against appointed Senator Tina Smith (D).  This survey finds the new Senator's lead to be only 47-41%.  To put the margin in perspective, the Star Tribune/MPR study also tested Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D), who is also on the ballot.  In her race, Sen. Klobuchar holds a commanding 56-33% advantage over state Rep. Jim Newberger (R-Becker).  The Smith-Housley race continues to be one to watch.

Mississippi:  The prevailing wisdom once state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville) entered the special US Senate election was that a late November run-off would be necessary to determine who serves the balance of the current term.  Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) was appointed in March to replace Sen. Thad Cochran (R) when he resigned for health reasons.

A new NBC News/Marist College poll (10/13-18; 973 MS adults; 856 MS registered voters; 511 MS likely voters) finds Sen. Hyde-Smith leading former US Agriculture Secretary and Mississippi Congressman Mike Espy and Mr. McDaniel, 38-29-15%, respectively.  If these margins hold, the appointed incumbent and Mr. Espy would advance to a November 27th run-off election.  Marist asked an early run-off question and found Sen. Hyde-Smith leading Mr. Espy, 50-36%, if the two were to face each other in the post-Thanksgiving election.

Nevada:  Public Policy Polling conducted a healthcare survey for the Protect our Care organization – an organization focused on preserving and strengthening the ACA (10/15-16; 648 NV likely voters). Considering the phrasing of their questions, Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson) holds a 48-46% lead over Sen. Dean Heller (R) according to the PPP results.  Recently, most polling has shown Sen. Heller leading, so these results, especially when push questions are involved, are not wholly inconsistent with the recent trend.

West Virginia:  Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's (R) campaign released their latest internal data, which is different than any other published survey.  The Fabrizio Lee firm, polling for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (10/16-18; 600 WV likely voters), finds Mr. Morrisey leading Sen. Joe Manchin (D), 44-42%.

This is the first poll since May that finds Mr. Morrisey topping Sen. Manchin. During virtually the same period, Strategic Research Associates (10/12-19; 650 WV likely voters) finds Sen. Manchin ahead, 52-36%.  While the Fabrizio data appears to be too favorable for Morrisey, the Strategic poll appears as an outlier on the other side. In the last ten polls, Sen. Manchin has averaged 46.7% of the respondents' preference, and topped 50% in only one of the surveys.

House

AR-2:  As they usually do in the days preceding major elections, Hendrix College surveyed the Arkansas electorate.  The only even quasi-competitive congressional campaign lies in the Little Rock anchored 2nd District. Here, state Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock) is challenging two-term US Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock). Hendrix's survey (10/17-18; 590 AR-2 likely voters) finds Rep. Hill holding a relatively strong 52-40% lead over Mr. Tucker, which tracks with the district's voting history.  Mr. Hill won his first two elections by eight and 21 points, respectively, in 2014 and 2016.

CA-48:  Monmouth University went into the field in Rep. Dana Rohrabacher's (R-Costa Mesa) Orange County district and, as they have been routinely doing, tested under a typical midterm turnout model, a participation factor that features a Democrat surge, and another that forecasts a below average turnout.  The poll (10/17-21; 372 CA-48 likely voters) projects a close race under all turnout scenarios.  Under the typical midterm turnout model, Rep. Rohrabacher leads 50-48%.  The edge swaps to opponent Harley Rouda (D) under the Democratic surge model, also in a 50-48% clip. Mr. Rohrabacher performs best if the turnout is low: up 52-46%.

FL-15:  Though the Central Florida 15th District, anchored in the city of Lakeland, possesses a reliably Republican voting history, the open seat contest between state Rep. Ross Spano (R-Riverview) and attorney Kristen Carlson (D), is a developing close race.  According to a just released Siena College/New York Times survey (10/16-19; 499 FL-15 likely voters from 23,795 original contacts) the two candidates are tied at 43% apiece.

Remington Research also went into the field during this same sampling period (10/17-18; 1,369 FL-15 likely voters; automated) but found Mr. Spano clinging to a more comfortable 47-41% advantage.  Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Lakeland) is retiring after four terms.  

GA-6:  After spending over $50 million in combined money to decide the 2017 special election that Rep. Karen Handel (R-Roswell) ultimately won, things have been relatively quiet during the regular cycle.  Now, however, we see the gun control organization Everytown for Gun Safety indicating they are spending over $1.8 million to support Democratic nominee Lucy McBath, a former organization spokesperson.

A new JMC Analytics survey (10/13-18; 500 GA-6 voters from a representative sample) finds Rep. Handel holding only a 49-45% advantage over Ms. McBath, suggesting that the large monetary infusion could have some effect.  The 6th District is habitually Republican, so a McBath victory would be a major upset, but the numbers suggest such an outcome is at least an outside possibility.

GA-7: It has been commonly reported upon that four-term Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville) has a much more competitive re-election battle on his hands this year than the other three times he appeared on the ballot as the incumbent.  A new JMC Analytics poll (10/13-18; 500 GA-7 likely voters) finds the Congressman leading his opponent, former state Senate Budget director Carolyn Bourdeaux (D), but with only a 49-43% advantage.  While Rep. Woodall must continue to be considered a clear favorite for re-election from what should be a reliable Republican district, this is becoming yet another race to watch.

Governor

Alaska:  Alaska Survey Research is reporting the first statewide polling figures since Independent Gov. Bill Walker ended his run for re-election and endorsed former US Senator Mark Begich (D).   The ASR poll (10/19-22; 500 AK likely voters) gives former state Sen. Mike Dunleavy (R) a 48-44% lead over ex-Sen. Begich.  The only chance that either Walker or Begich had of derailing Dunleavy was to coalesce behind one candidate.  Now that such has happened, this race is expected to become even closer.

Florida:  With only one previous poll finding resigned Rep. Ron DeSantis (R) taking the lead in the open Governor's race before yesterday, two surveys found him to be topping Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D).  The accompanying Gray Television/Strategic Research survey (see Florida Senate above) finds Mr. DeSantis holding a 48-45% lead.  The 1892 polling organization (10/20-22; 2,500 FL registered voters; automated) sees DeSantis forging a one point, 47-46% edge.  But, Gravis Marketing was also in the field (10/22-23; 773 FL likely voters) and comes to an opposite conclusion: Gillum up, 51-46%.

Louisiana: It appears first term Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy (R) is serious about running for Governor.  He stated late this week that he will announce his decision about running statewide next year before December 1st. With a 2019 statewide election schedule, Sen. Kennedy will not have to risk his current position to run for Governor.  He next stands for re-election in 2022.  Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) is expected to seek re-election.  Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) and US Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto/ Monroe) are also possible contenders.  Wealthy developer Eddie Ripsone (R) has already announced his candidacy.

Michigan:  Looking at the same EPIC/MRA survey mentioned above (see Michigan Senate), we also see Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette closing his deficit against Democratic former state House Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer.  In this poll, Ms. Whitmer's advantage drops to 46-41%.  But, the Anzalone Liszt Grove Democratic poll (10/15-21; 906 MI likely voters) finds the spread to be much greater, and more in line with previous polling.  The ALG study returns Whitmer to a low double-digit advantage, 47-36%.

South Dakota:   A new Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategies survey for the Sioux Falls Argus Leader (10/18-22; 500 SD registered voters) finds US at-large Rep. Kristi Noem (R-Castlewood) and state Senate Minority Leader Billie Sutton (D-Burke) in a flat tie at 45% support.  This is a surprising number from a state that has a strong Republican voting history.


October 19, 2018
Toss-Up Races Continue to Evolve as Midterms Near
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Indiana: Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) maintains edge over former state Representative and international businessman Mike Braun (R)
  • Nevada: dead heat continues between Sen. Dean Heller (R) and Rep. Jacky Rosen (D) in Senate contest
  • IA-1: Rep. Rod Blum (R) rebounding in bid for re-election
  • NY-22: Rep. Claudia Tenney (R) regains lead over challenger Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi (D)
  • Alaska: Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott (I) resigns and immediately replaced by healthcare policy advisor Valerie Nurr'araaluk Davidson

Senate

Indiana:  Though the Indiana Senate race has been rated a toss-up since the election cycle began, the contest has been seldom polled until this week. Gravis Marketing released their new survey (9/29-10-2; 695 IN likely voters) and found Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) leading former state Representative and international businessman Mike Braun (R), 44-40%. Indiana is a strongly Republican state, but the Midwest, especially in the Great Lakes region, appears to be trending Democratic for this election. Therefore, Sen. Donnelly's survival chances have clearly improved in the waning days of this campaign.

The Vox Populi firm also released their poll (10/13-15; 783 IN "active" voters). They see an even greater advantage for Sen. Donnelly. According to their data, the Democratic incumbent leads Mr. Braun, 44-36%.

Minnesota:  An NBC/Marist College survey (9/30-10/4; 637 MN likely voters) finds appointed Sen. Tina Smith (D) holding a much larger lead over state Sen. Karin Housley (R-St. Croix River Valley) than in other polls, 54-38%. The previous publicly released ballot test, that from Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategies (9/10-12; 800 MN likely voters) taken almost three weeks earlier, found Ms. Housley within the same support range but projected Sen. Smith's preference at a much lower 44%.

Nevada:  Vox Populi also surveyed the tight Nevada Senate race. Their new Silver State poll (10/13-15; 613 NV "active" voters) finds the two candidates, Sen. Dean Heller (R) and Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson), tied at 44% apiece. When pushed, the undecideds lean a bit more to Rosen, giving her an overall edge of 51-49%. These results are consistent with most Nevada polling. Recently, several surveys have shown Sen. Heller to be in stronger shape but, overall, the data continues to find that the margin between these two candidates is razor thin meaning either can win the race.

New Jersey:  A new Quinnipiac University poll (10/10-16; 873 NJ likely voters) sees New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez (D) leading former pharmaceutical company CEO Bob Hugin (R), 51-44%, but signs could turn ominous for the embattled incumbent with an approval rating of 36:52% favorable to unfavorable.

A pair of surveys find Sen. Menendez holding leads of varying degrees. Monmouth University (10/11-15; 527 NJ likely voters) sees the Senator holding a 49-40% margin over Mr. Hugin, and his personal favorability index is a similar upside down 28:45% positive to negative. The National Research firm (released 10/18; 600 NJ likely voters) sees the race much differently, and places Mr. Hugin within the polling margin of error. According to National Research, the spread is only 42-40% in Sen. Menendez's favor.

Tennessee:  The Siena College/New York Times polling series returned numbers for the open Tennessee race. Their data (10/8-11; 593 TN likely voters from 28,670 attempted calls) shows Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) opening up a double-digit lead over former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D), a whopping 54-40% spread.

The Siena/NYT survey is the strongest public poll recorded for Ms. Blackburn, though others are also forecasting her with leads beyond the margin of error. YouGov (10/2-5; 871 TN likely voters) found her advantage at 50-42%. Fox News (9/29-10/2; 666 TN likely voters) projected a 48-43% Blackburn edge. The new Vanderbilt University survey, however, (10/8-13; 800 TN registered voters) gives Mr. Bredesen a slight edge at 44-43%.

Texas:  Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-El Paso) set an all-time national US Senate fundraising record for a three-month period with his performance in the 3rd quarter hauling in $38 million. For the campaign, his total receipts exceed $61 million. In comparison, Sen. Ted Cruz (R) raised $12 million for the quarter and $24 million for his entire campaign. But, the new Siena College/New York Times poll (10/8-11; 800 TX likely voters) finds Sen. Cruz taking a 51-43% lead.

West Virginia:  Though Sen. Joe Manchin (D) has led consistently throughout this campaign, the common political wisdom suggested that his battle with Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey would tighten as Election Day drew near. Vox Populi also tested the Mountain State Senate race (10/13-15; 789 WV "active" voters) and found the Senator maintaining a lead, but a smaller one than earlier perceived. This ballot test found a 44-40% split in Sen. Manchin's favor, with undecideds breaking his way when pushed to arrive at a 53-47% race. Mr. Morrisey will have to make a major move to reverse this trend on Election Day.

House

IA-1:  Earlier in the week, Iowa Rep. Rod Blum (R-Dubuque), who is routinely believed to be one of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents seeking re-election, released an internal Polling Company survey that found him closing his ballot test deficit to just one point. A confirming poll was then released that revealed a similar result. Now the Congressional Leadership Fund is committing a $1 million expenditure for the 1st District, which is the first outside organization to back the Congressman with a major effort. The Democratic National Campaign Committee, which had reduced its media buy, is again increasing spending for their nominee, state Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-Dubuque), so this campaign is clearly back in the highly competitive category.

NC-13: A new Survey USA poll (10/9-12; 533 NC-13 likely voters) for the conservative Civitas policy organization finds first-term Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) clinging to a 44-41% edge over University of North Carolina at Greensboro Trustee Kathy Manning (D), another of the Democratic challengers who has raised well over $2 million for the current campaign. The 13th District, created in the 2016 re-draw, occupies a large sector of the Piedmont Triad area. President Trump carried the district, 53-44%.

NY-22:  During the summer, New York freshman Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford) fell sharply behind her challenger, Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi (D). After the national Republican groups launched a major attack ad campaign against him, tying Brindisi to convicted former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) who is unpopular in this Upstate district, Ms. Tenney has rebounded.

According to an internal Polling Company survey for the Tenney campaign (10/12-13; 400 NY-22 likely voters), the Congresswoman has assumed a 50-42% lead over Mr. Brindisi. Other numbers in the 22nd also favor the GOP. The party leads 47-41% on the generic ballot test over the Democrats, and President Trump's favorability index is a strong 58:39%. Favoring Brindisi is how the undecideds are breaking. When pushed, those proclaiming themselves to be uncommitted say they would favor Brindisi, 27-9%, if forced to make a decision.

WV-3:  Monmouth University again surveyed the open 3rd Congressional District that contains southern West Virginia, and we see a substantial turnaround from the organization's June poll. Four months ago, MU found state Sen. Richard Ojeda (D-Logan) leading state House Majority Whip Carol Miller (R-Huntington) 48-39% under the most favorable Democratic turnout model.

Monmouth's new poll (10/10-14; 350 WV-3 likely voters) now sees Ms. Miller rebounding to the point of overcoming Sen. Ojeda's entire lead. With little difference among MU's three projected turnout models: low, standard, and "Democratic surge," Ms. Miller has developed a small advantage, 48-45%.

Governor

Alaska: Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott (I), who was Gov. Bill Walker's (I) original choice for Lt. Governor and served throughout the Administration, has resigned his position. He admitted to making inappropriate, but unspecified comments. Mr. Mallott was immediately replaced in office and on the ballot. Gov. Walker chose Indian healthcare policy advisor Valerie Nurr'araaluk Davidson both as Lt. Governor and as his running mate for re-election. The appointment may be short-lived, however. Polling indicates Gov. Walker is trailing badly and on the precipice of losing his office on November 6th.

Ohio: Suffolk University released the results of their new small sample survey (10/4-8; 500 OH likely voters) that shows former Attorney General Richard Cordray (D) taking a 46-40% lead over current Attorney General and ex-US Senator Mike DeWine (R). This result is different than most other polls that generally give DeWine a small edge. The sample of 500 is small for a state the size of Ohio, thus making the error factor higher than for most other surveys. The Ohio gubernatorial race is consistently rated as a toss-up campaign.

Oregon: A new DHM poll for the Oregon Public Broadcasting network (10/4-11; 500 OR likely voters) again finds only a small margin separating Gov. Kate Brown (D) and state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend). Oregon, however, is a state where polling seems to favor Republican candidates in better margins than historical voting patterns would suggest.

That being the case, the DHM numbers find Gov. Brown's lead at only 40-35%. Her favorability index is dead even at 45:45% positive to negative. Mr. Buehler's is 36:29%. Sen. Ron Wyden (D) scores best among those tested at 54:29%. President Trump is worst at 41:55%. Regardless of the current poll results, Gov. Brown is still favored to win re-election to a full four-year term.

Tennessee: The same Vanderbilt University poll (10/8-13; 800 TN registered voters) also tested the state's open gubernatorial race. The VU data finds Republican businessman Bill Lee topping former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean (D), 48-37%. Mr. Lee is routinely rated as a solid favorite to win the general election and replace term-limited Republican Governor Bill Haslam.


October 12, 2018
Numerous Races Too Close To Call
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Florida Senate: once again, race remains virtually tied between Gov. Rick Scott (R) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D)
  • West Virginia Senate: getting closer between Sen. Joe Manchin (D) and challenger, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R)
  • NJ-11: Assemblyman Jay Webber (R) coming back against attorney Mikie Sherrill (D) in a developing competitive open seat race
  • NY-27: Rep. Chris Collins (R) in dead heat with Nate McMurray (D) 
  • WA-8: Dino Rossi (R) jumps ahead of pediatrician Kim Shrier (D) in Rep. Reichert (R) open seat
  • Illinois: Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) headed for loss
  • Kansas: three-way race causes virtual tie 

Senate

Florida:  A new Florida Southern College poll (10/1-5; 499 FL registered voters; 476 likely to vote in the 2018 election) finds Gov. Rick Scott (R) rebounding to again take a small 46-44% lead over Sen. Bill Nelson (D), reversing a previous trend. Florida Southern Governor's race result seems to verify this poll's reliability factor.  According to the ballot test, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) is leading resigned Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Palm Coast/Daytona Beach) 47-44%, the exact margin that most other polls are finding within the statewide vote.

West Virginia:  It was always believed the West Virginia Senate race would become a toss-up despite Sen. Joe Manchin (D) pulling out to an early double-digit lead over Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R).  Last week, Mr. Morrisey released a survey showing the two tied, but that was quickly countered with Democratic data posting a comfortable lead for the Senator.  Now, the Tarrance Group, polling for the Senate Leadership Fund (9/23-25; 612 "likely registered voters"), finds Sen. Manchin leading 47-43%, which is obviously within the polling margin of error.

House

AK-AL:  Rep. Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon) was first elected in a 1973 special election and has won 21 additional statewide elections. In recent campaigns, however, his margins have grown smaller.  Now, pollster Ivan Moore of the Alaska Survey Research firm released a new study conducted the first week of this month (500 AK likely voters) that projects Rep. Young leading his Democratic challenger Alyse Galvin, an education reform activist, by just a 50-46% clip.

FL-15 & 16: Democrats believe they have upset chances in the adjoining Florida 15th and 16th Congressional Districts, which are normally safe Republican seats. Two new polls find the Republican nominees in both hovering in comfortable position, however.

In the open 15th CD (Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Lakeland) retiring), Republican state Rep. Ross Spano has developed a 46-39% advantage over Democratic nominee Kristen Carlson, this according to a WPA Intelligence poll (10/3-4; 418 FL-15 likely voters).  In the Sarasota anchored 16th CD, Rep. Vern Buchanan (R) has a ten-point, 52-42%, margin over attorney David Shapiro (D).  The Public Opinion Strategies firm (10/4-7; 400 FL-16 likely voters) conducted their survey for the Buchanan campaign.

NE-2:  When Kara Eastman upset former Rep. Brad Ashford (D-Omaha) in the May Democratic primary, strategists on both sides downgraded the challenger's chances of unseating freshman Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillion) because she is too far left of the local electorate.  A new Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll for the Eastman campaign (9/27-30; 400 NE-2 likely voters) shows the race closing within the margin of error, however.  The GQR results find Rep. Bacon leading Ms. Eastman 49-45%.  It wouldn't be surprising to see this race end in a close vote because the 2nd District is politically marginal and has been bouncing back and forth between the parties for several election cycles, but generally favors Republicans. Rep. Bacon still must be considered the favorite to hold the seat.

NJ-11:  It appears that strategists in both parties have reached the conclusion that attorney and Naval Academy graduate Mikie Sherrill (D) is going to convert the northern New Jersey congressional seat from which veteran Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-Morristown) is retiring. But, we again see another released poll that shows the race closing to within the margin of error.

According to the new Monmouth University survey (10/3-7; 356 NJ-11 likely voters), Ms. Sherrill is leading Assemblyman Jay Webber (R) by a 48-44% spread under a standard midterm turnout model.  Accounting for what many believe will be a Democratic "surge" turnout model, screening for such on this poll yields Sherrill a 50-43% margin.  Under a "low turnout" model, which few believe will materialize, Sherrill's advantage drops to 48-45%. With a month to go, this campaign, quiet for weeks, may begin to attract some outside involvement.

NY-27:  In early September, Rep. Chris Collins (R-Clarence) was indicted for insider trading and immediately said he would end his congressional campaign.  When it became evident that the Republican Party could not legally remove him from the ballot, Rep. Collins pledged to campaign to win.  According to a new Tulchin Research poll, the Congressman still has work to do. The survey (10/6-8; 400 NY-27 likely voters) finds Rep. Collins and Democrat Nate McMurray tied at 42% apiece, with Reform Party candidate Larry Piegza drawing 6 percent. The 27th is a safe Republican seat, which the party can ill-afford to lose.

NC-9:  The Siena College/New York Times House polling project continues, and a surprising result is coming from North Carolina.  Most observers believe this open seat will flip to the Democrats in the person of businessman Dan McCready, but this survey suggests otherwise. In the poll (10/1-5; 502 NC-9 likely voters), Siena/NYT sees former Baptist pastor Mark Harris (R) holding a 47-42% advantage.  Countering this poll, the conservative Civitas Institute released their Survey USA study (10/2-4; 556 NC-9 likely voters) that projects Mr. McCready to be holding a 45-41% edge. In any regard, this race is still very much alive and clearly not decided.

TX-23:  At the beginning of this campaign cycle, one of the contests thought sure to be in toss-up mode all the way to the end was the challenge to sophomore Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio).  The 23rd District, that stretches from San Antonio all the way to El Paso, is commonly viewed as Texas' lone swing district.

But another poll finds Rep. Hurd pulling away from his opponent, former assistant to the US Trade Representative, Gina Ortiz Jones (D).  The new GS Strategy Group poll for the Congressional Leadership Fund (10/2-4; 400 TX-23 likely voters) finds Rep. Hurd holding a commanding 55-30% lead over Ms. Jones.  Though this poll is better for Mr. Hurd than others that have been recently released, all show him with leads extending well beyond the margin of error.

VA-10:  Earlier in the week, the Washington Post released its Schnar poll of Virginia's 10th Congressional District, which found Democratic challenger Jennifer Wexton (D), a Loudoun County state Senator, leading Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-McLean) by a substantial twelve-point margin, 55-43%.  But, this poll was conducted with major methodological flaws.  First, the sampling period took 16 days to complete (9/19-10/5), and the 866 respondents were sent written invitations to participate in their online survey.  Therefore, the reliability factor is suspect.

Countering the publicity, Rep. Comstock, who clearly faces political headwinds, just released her campaign's internal McLaughlin & Associates survey.  According to this poll (10/6-8; 400 VA-10 likely voters), the Congresswoman is clinging to a 48-47% edge with her pollster indicating that she is in better re-election position today than she was at the commensurate time in 2016. In that election, Ms. Comstock won a 53-47% victory despite President Trump losing the district by ten points.

WA-8:  Seattle-based Elway Research just released their new poll of the open congressional campaign between former state Senator and statewide nominee Dino Rossi (R) and pediatrician Kim Shrier (D).  The two are running to replace retiring Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Auburn) in the Seattle suburban district.  The results are a bit surprising when considering previous polling that found the candidates tied.

According to Elway (10/5-9; 400 WA-8 registered voters), Mr. Rossi has now built a 49-39% advantage.  The Elway researchers claim the lunge toward the Republican is a result of the Kavanaugh confirmation process. 

Governor

Alaska:Polling continues to suggest that the nation's lone Independent Governor, Alaska's Bill Walker, likely will not win a second term. A new Alaska Survey Research firm poll (10/1-6; 500 AK registered voters) projects Republican former state Senator Mike Dunleavy to be holding a commanding 47-27-23% lead over Gov. Walker and former US Senator Mark Begich, the Democratic nominee. It was believed at the time he entered the race that ex-Sen. Begich's presence in the contest would likely tip the balance toward the eventual Republican nominee. Such appears to be happening.

Georgia:The new Georgia Survey USA poll (10/3-8; 655 GA likely voters) confirms other data that suggests the contest between Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Democratic former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams is a dead heat. The S-USA numbers find Mr. Kemp clinging to a two-point edge, 47-45%. Most of the research studies find the GOP nominee just slightly ahead, but none project him beyond the polling margin of error.

Illinois:Gubernatorial challenger J.B. Pritzker (D) has been leading Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) by large margins and the latest poll, now within a month of the election, is no exception. From Victory Research (9/27-10/2; 1,208 IL likely voters), Mr. Pritzker has opened a 47-32% lead over Gov. Rauner, which is consistent with other polling. Clearly, Illinois is the Democrats' most favorable gubernatorial conversion opportunity in the nation. Republican strategists fear that an unfavorable turnout model could result in a Democratic sweep in the Land of Lincoln and possibly cost the GOP several US House seats.

Kansas:Remington Research tested the three-way Kansas gubernatorial campaign in early October. The new survey (9/30-10/1; 1,680 KS likely voters) finds state Sen. Laura Kelly (D-Topeka) to be suspended in a virtual tie with Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), 42-41%, with Independent candidate Greg Orman taking 10%.

Rhode Island: First term Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) looked to be in a vulnerable position as she began seeking a second term, but a new University of New Hampshire poll (9/27-10/6; 561 RI registered voters; 503 likely voters) finds the Governor leading Cranston Mayor Allan Fung (R) by a substantial 48-34% margin. On the other hand, the UNH polls have routinely been among the most inaccurate within the public polling sector. Therefore, this race could still be relatively close. It is evident that Ms. Raimondo is leading the campaign, whatever the margin, and must be considered at least a slight favorite for re-election.

South Carolina:A new Trafalgar Group survey (9/24-10/2; 2,962 registered voters) finds Gov. Henry McMaster (R) leading state Rep. James Smith (D-Columbia) by a 51-37% count, which is about what one would expect for a South Carolina statewide race a month before the election. Mr. McMaster, who ascended to the Governorship when then-Gov. Nikki Haley (R) resigned to accept President Trump's appointment as US Ambassador to the United Nations, is running for his first full term. He was forced into a run-off for the Republican nomination but won a comfortable 54-46% victory over businessman John Warren in the secondary election.


October 5, 2018
Polls Continue To Show Competitive Contests With 30 Days to Midterms
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Missouri: Senate race between Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) and Josh Hawley (R) couldn't be tighter
  • New Jersey: Senate race polls differ between Sen. Bob Menendez (D) and opponent, pharmaceutical CEO Bob Hugin (R)
  • KS-3: Rep. Kevin Yoder (R) refutes unfavorable polls with own survey which shows him leading Sharice Davids (D) 43-40%
  • NH-1: swing seat shows huge disparity between polls
  • Alaska: Two-way races tough for Gov. Bill Walker (I), with latest polling showing him losing to former state Senator Mike Dunleavy (R) and former US Senator Mark Begich (D)
  • Oklahoma: competitive Gov race trending close as mortgage banker Kevin Stitt (R) has single digit lead over former Attorney General Drew Edmondson (D) in strong GOP state

Senate

Arizona:  Fox News, polling through the Anderson Robbins survey research firm (D) and Shaw & Company (R), finds Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) leading Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) 47-45%.

California:  Apparently US Senate challenger Kevin de Leon (D) does not believe he is going to unseat Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) next month.  Trailing in all polling by double-digit margins, though Sen. Feinstein never gets close to 50%, Mr. de Leon is already looking toward his next political race.  According to California Fair Political Practices Commission filings, the LA state Senator has already formed a committee to run for Lt. Governor...in 2026.  Assuming that the next Governor serves a full eight years, 2026 is the next time the Lt. Governor's post will likely be open.

Florida:  After a period where Sen. Bill Nelson (D) had seemingly pulled away from Gov. Rick Scott (R), we now see three polls forecasting the pair returning to basic tied status. Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, a frequent Florida pollster, released their latest data (9/24-27; 815 FL registered voters) and it found Sen. Nelson's lead dissipating to one point, at 47-46%. Likewise, Strategic Research Associates of Austin, TX, finds a similar reading.  According to their polling results (9/17-30; 800 FL likely voters), Sen. Nelson's one-point edge is confirmed, 44-43%.  Fox News, polling through the Anderson Robbins survey research firm (D) and Shaw & Company (R), finds Sen. Bill Nelson (D) edging Gov. Rick Scott (R), 47-46%.

Indiana:  Fox News, polling through the Anderson Robbins survey research firm (D) and Shaw & Company (R), finds Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) posting a two-point lead over businessman Mike Braun (R), 43-41%

Missouri:  A pair of surveys were released midweek, and each major party candidate was projected to be holding a slight lead.  The CNN/SSRS survey (9/25-29; 756 MO likely voters) finds Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) topping Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) by three percentage points, 47-44%.  But, Remington Research, polling for the Missouri Scout political blog, sees Mr. Hawley holding an equivalent small edge, 48-46%.

Interestingly, in the aforementioned CNN poll, Ms. McCaskill's lead drops to one percentage point, 43-42%, when the universe is expanded to include registered voters (increasing the sample size to 906).  And, splitting the difference, the Fox News Missouri poll (see below) projects the two candidates to be locked in a flat tie.

Fox News, polling through the Anderson Robbins survey research firm (D) and Shaw & Company (R), finds Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) and Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) tied at 43%, apiece.

New Jersey:  A new poll shows the closest Garden State spread in this election cycle, but it was quickly twice contradicted.  Stockton University went into the field (9/19-27; 531 adult NJ residents screened as likely voters) and finds Sen. Bob Menendez (D) running ahead of former pharmaceutical company CEO Bob Hugin by only a 45-43% margin.  But, Fairleigh Dickinson University (9/26-30; 508 NJ likely voters) projects Sen. Menendez to be holding a 43-37% advantage, but with an upside-down favorability index of 35:53%. Quinnipiac University publicized their large sample poll (9/25-10/2; 1,058 NJ likely voters), and they show a relatively similar reading, but significantly better for Menendez, 53-42%.

North Dakota:  A new NBC North Dakota News/Strategic Research Associates survey (released 10/1; 650 ND likely voters) finds at-large Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck) now taking a ten-point, 51-41%, lead over Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D).  The principle reason for the larger lead is the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination.  According to this research, North Dakota voters support the judicial nominee by a 60-27% count.

Fox News, polling through the Anderson Robbins survey research firm (D) and Shaw & Company (R), released new data showing Republican challenger Kevin Cramer with a 53-41% lead over Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D). 

Tennessee:  Fox News, polling through the Anderson Robbins survey research firm (D) and Shaw & Company (R), released new data finding Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) leading former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D), 48-43%.

West Virginia:  A week after Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) released his internal 1892 organization survey that showed him tied with Sen. Joe Manchin (D), a new statewide media poll from Gray Television station WSAZ TV in Huntington (Strategic Research Associates; 9/17-26; 650 WV likely voters) finds the Democratic incumbent leading, 46-38%.  This, despite President Trump scoring a job approval rating of 62:34% favorable to unfavorable.

House

AZ-8:  Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Peoria) won her special election to replace resigned Rep. Trent Franks (R) earlier this year, and the final result proved to be a close 52-48% over physician Hiral Tipirneni (D).  Now the pair are again squaring off in the regular election. A new Lake Research Partners survey for the Tipirneni Campaign (9/24-26; 400 AZ-8 likely voters) finds Rep. Lesko only holding a 48-44% ballot test lead. In Lake's August poll (8/7-13; 400 AZ-8 likely voters) the new Congresswoman's advantage was 49-40%.

CA-22:Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) has come under national attack during this congressional session in his role as chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence.  To politically protect himself the Congressman has raised over $5 million for his re-election, and the related spending is paying dividends.  After closer polling surfaced earlier in the year, a new Survey USA poll (9/20-25; 800 CA-22 registered voters; 582 likely voters) finds Rep. Nunes expanding his lead over attorney Andrew Janz (D) to 55-41%.

CA-45:  After a series of polls posted Democratic challenger Katie Porter to consistent single-digit leads in the polling margin of error's outer edge, a new Democratic Global Strategy Group survey (9/20-23; 400 CA-45 likely voters) finds her race against Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) tightening again, this time to a one-point margin.  According to the GBA results, Ms. Porter leads Rep. Walters, 48-47%.  Obviously, this race is one of the Democrats' seven targets and we can expect the contest to remain a toss-up all the way to Election Day in a district that was once safely Republican.

CO-6:  Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) has won three elections in an eastern Denver suburban district designed to defeat him.  Iraq War veteran and attorney Jason Crow (D) has been found leading Rep. Coffman beyond the polling margin of error in several polls.  Reports suggest that the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has also cancelled their television ad reservations, which is another indicative sign that the published polls are within the accuracy realm.

Late in the week, Rep. Coffman released data countering the aforementioned news in the guise of an internal Tarrance Group survey (9/11-13; 400 CO-6 registered voters).  According to this information, the spread between Messrs. Crow and Coffman is only 42-40%.  

IL-4:  Recently, an independent committee began raising money to promote Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia for Mayor of Chicago, now that incumbent Rahm Emanuel (D) has announced his retirement.  Mr. Garcia was not dissuading the group from continuing, suggesting that he might make another run for the office even though he is about to be elected to Congress.  Now saying that he will represent the people who are about to elect him to the US House, Mr. Garcia announced he will not become a mayoral candidate in 2019.

KS-3:  Recently, stories have abounded that the national Republican/conservative/right-of-center organizations had jettisoned three incumbents: Reps. Mike Bishop (R-MI), Mike Coffman (R-CO), and Kevin Yoder (R-KS).  All three have now responded with polling data showing them either ahead or back within the margin of error.  We can again expect to see all three campaigns receive significant amounts of help in the last month.

Mr. Yoder is the latest to respond. His campaign released current data from Remington Research (9/18-20; 610 KS-3 likely voters) that finds the Congressman regaining the lead over his Democratic opponent, Sharice Davids. According to the findings, Mr. Yoder's margin is 43-40%.

MN-2:  In the last election cycle, the prevailing political wisdom uniformly proclaimed that healthcare executive Angie Craig (D) was a virtual lock to defeat then-radio talk show host, Jason Lewis (R). In the end, Mr. Lewis scored a two-point victory.  This year, most polling again shows Ms. Craig leading the race - and the Siena College/New York Times survey has her ahead well beyond the polling margin of error -- but a new WPA Intelligence study is detecting the opposite conclusion.  According to a very recent WPA poll (9/29-10/1; 412 MN-2 likely voters), Rep. Lewis has re-claimed a three-point lead, 46-43%.

MT-AL:  Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman) won a 2017 special election to succeed then-Rep. Ryan Zinke (R) after the latter man was appointed as Interior Secretary.  Now a Benenson Strategy Group poll (9/6-16; 950 MT likely voters) finds the new Congressman's re-election effort approaching the toss-up realm.  Their new poll gives Gianforte only a 46-45% edge over former state Rep. Kathleen Williams (D), who is reporting to have raised more than $2.1 million in the quarter just ended.

NH-1:New Hampshire's 1st District has been the most swing seat in the country.  The electorate here has defeated the sitting incumbent in every election since 2010, inclusive. Now, as an open seat, the New Hampshire-based American Research Group (9/21-26; 400 NH-1 registered voters) reports ballot test data that gives the new Democratic nominee a 22-point lead. According to this poll, Executive Councilor Chris Pappas (D) leads former South Hampton Police Chief Eddie Edwards (R) by a whopping 55-33% margin.

Late this week, OnMessage released their polling numbers for the eastern Granite State district.  According to them (9/25-27; 400 NH-1 likely voters), it is Edwards who leads the race, and by a 42-40% count.  The diversity obviously shows that at least one of the pollsters is way off.  The 1st District is one of the most defined swing districts in the country.  The electorate here has defeated the incumbent five of the last six election years, more than any district in the country. More data will have to be examined here before a clear pattern can be predicted. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-Rochester) is retiring.

TX-31:The Tarrance Group, polling for Rep. John Carter's (R-Georgetown) campaign, finds the veteran Congressman posting a 21-point lead over his Democratic opponent, Afghan War veteran and author M.J. Hegar. The Tarrance data gives Mr. Carter a surprisingly large 54-33% lead.

Governor

Alaska:The nation's lone Independent Governor might lose if a new Alaska Survey Research poll is accurate. The study (9/21-25; 500 AK certain and very likely voters) finds Republican former state Senator Mike Dunleavy leading ex-US Senator Mark Begich (D) and Gov. Bill Walker (I), 44-29-23%, respectively, in the three-way contest.

Dispelling the idea that Walker fares better in a two-way, this poll finds that he would lose to both Dunleavy and Begich in one-on-one races.  Against Dunleavy alone, Walker would lose, 54-41%.  If Mr. Begich were his only opponent, the Governor would trail 46-40%.

New York:  The Working Families Party has voted to rescind its party's gubernatorial nomination for actress Cynthia Nixon and Lt. Governor candidate Jumaane Williams and instead award it to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D).  The pair formally accepted the nomination on Thursday evening.  Doing so eliminates any challenge from the Governor's left, meaning he will now fall into a two-way race with Republican nominee Marc Molinaro, the Duchess County Executive.  Such a contest assures a Cuomo re-election on November 6th.  The Governor and Lt. Governor are expected to accept the Working Families ballot line.

Oklahoma:  Despite Oklahoma being one of the strongest Republican states in the nation, the current open Governor's campaign is highly competitive.  With education, budget, and tax issues controversial and major points of concern in the state, the electorate is becoming more competitive.  A new Right Strategy Group survey (9/25-26; 1,058 OK likely voters) finds mortgage banker Kevin Stitt (R) and former Attorney General Drew Edmondson (D) locked in a single-digit battle. According to this latest polling study, Mr. Stitt's advantage is 47-43%. Yet, in the other seven Oklahoma statewide offices Republicans enjoy their typical double-digit leads.


September 28, 2018
Midterm Polling Continues to Show Tight Senate Contests
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Florida: Sen. Bill Nelson (D) pulling ahead
  • Montana: recent polling showing much closer race between Sen. Jon Tester (D) and challenger Matt Rosendale (R)
  • West Virginia: polling firm for Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) shows him tied with Sen. Joe Manchin (D)
  • CA-50: Rep. Duncan Hunter (R) leading in his re-election race according to new polling
  • MI-8 & VA-7: GOP incumbents trailing in new polls
  • Florida: Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) continues to lead race for Governor
  • Iowa & South Dakota: Dem nominees take small lead in respective campaigns for Governor

Senate

Florida: The University of North Florida's polling unit went into the field again (9/17-20; 603 FL likely voters via live interview) to test the Sunshine State major political campaigns. In the Senate race they find, like virtually every other pollster, that Sen. Bill Nelson (D) and Gov. Rick Scott (R) are locked in a flat tie at 45%. The polls have been varying only a point or two for a number of months, and it is clear that the campaign's final weeks will be very active. A turnout surge from one side or the other will likely be the deciding factor. More polls have put Gov. Scott ahead but, with the tight margins that we've seen in this race for weeks, anything can happen in November.

Quinnipiac University, however, has a much different take in their latest survey. This one gives the incumbent quite a large lead. The data (9/20-24; 888 FL self-identified likely voters) projects Sen. Nelson to a 53-46% advantage.

Montana: Two September polls suggest that the National Republican Senatorial Committee's (NRSC) attack campaign upon two-term Sen. Jon Tester (D) is likely working. An Axis Research poll conducted for the NRSC (9/17-19; sample size not released but did claim to have a MT likely voter response universe) finds the Senator and Republican opponent Matt Rosendale, the Montana State Auditor, tied at 44%. An independent poll taken shortly before the Axis study from CBS News/YouGov (9/10-14; 453 MT likely voters) forecasted Sen. Tester to be holding only a two-point margin, 47-45%.

New Mexico: The NSON Opinion Strategies firm, polling for the Elect Liberty PAC (9/20-24; 932 NM likely voters), finds Libertarian US Senate nominee and ex-two term New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson edging closer to Sen. Martin Heinrich (D). According to the latest poll, Sen. Heinrich draws 35% support with Mr. Johnson solidly in second position at 28%. The Republican nominee, Labor Commission member Mick Rich, drops all the way to 10% according to this particular poll.

Ohio: Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) has opened up a strong double-digit lead over US Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth) according to two national polls. The NBC News/Marist College survey (9/16-20; 796 OH registered voters; 564 OH likely voters) finds the Senator topping Renacci and three minor party and independent candidates, 49-33-6-3-1%.

The Ipsos/Reuters study (9/13-21; 1,074 OH likely voters via online responses) largely confirms the result. They find the Senator expanding his advantage to 11 points in a 50-39% percentage spread. Though certain early polling models suggested that Renacci had an outside path to score an upset, there is little in the way of current data to back such a supposition.

Texas: A pair of interest groups released their own Public Policy Polling Texas survey, but are the responses being used twice? Both advocacy groups End Citizens United and Protect our Care were in the field with PPP during the September 19-20 period with what were largely push polls containing questions on campaign finance for the former group and healthcare for the latter. The sample size for End Citizens United was 613, while the Protect our Care study lists 603 responses. Not surprisingly, the ballot test result for each was virtually the same: Sen. Ted Cruz (R) leading Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-El Paso) by three percentage points, 49-46% (End Citizens United) and 48-45% (Protect our Care).

West Virginia: The polling firm handling Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's (R) campaign for US Senate just released a new study that flies in the face of other previously released results. The 1892 organization (9/24-25; 500 WV likely voters) finds Mr. Morrisey fighting back to tie Sen. Joe Manchin (D) at 45-45%. Other polls have found Sen. Manchin holding about a nine-point advantage, but little data has been made public during the last several weeks.

House

CA-50:  A new Monmouth University poll (9/22-26; 401 CA-50 voters under various turnout models) finds indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) leading in his battle for re-election despite most people believing he is guilty of the charges being brought against him.  Under the normal midterm turnout model, Rep. Hunter leads his Democratic opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar, 53-38%.  Under their "all voters" picture, his margin recedes to 49-41%, while he still scores majority support within a "Democratic surge" turnout model, 51-40%.  The 50th District is normally a safely Republican seat, but Rep. Hunter's indictment makes the 2018 campaign one to watch.

FL-17:  April Freeman, the Democratic political consultant and frequent candidate who won the party nomination in the open 17th District, passed away suddenly on Monday night of an apparent heart attack according to her husband.  She was 54 years old.

Yesterday, Florida election authorities indicated that the local Democrats will be able to replace the late Ms. Freeman, but they cannot re-print ballots.  Therefore, in order to vote for the new nominee, whoever that person may be, supporters will have to punch Ms. Freeman's name. Any Freeman vote will count for the replacement nominee.  Republican state Sen. Greg Steube becomes the prohibitive favorite to win the open seat in November. Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Okeechobee) is retiring.

IL-4:  Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia (D) is a lock to replace retiring Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Chicago) with a certain November election victory, but he already may be planning a new campaign for another office.  With Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) announcing that he will not seek re-election, a major open local race will get underway as soon as the current general election concludes.

While Cook County Commission President Toni Preckwinkle (D) and former Commerce Secretary Bill Daley (D) are already in the race, a mayoral fundraising committee was just launched for Congressman-to-be Garcia.  Though the organization is not directly tied to Mr. Garcia, he is not dissuading them from continuing. In 2015, Garcia lost to Mayor Emanuel, 56-44%.

IL-5: Yesterday, another member of the Chicago congressional delegation made a declaration about the impending 2019 Mayor's race.  Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Chicago), first elected in a 2009 special election, said that he will not enter the 2019 open Mayor's race, choosing instead, presumably, to remain in the US House.

MI-8:  Former Defense Department official Elissa Slotkin has been one of the Democrats' top challenger candidates.  She raised more than $3 million through the July 18th pre-primary disclosure deadline for her congressional campaign, and now brandishes a poll that posts her ahead of Republican Rep. Mike Bishop (R-Rochester/Lansing).

According to her Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research 8th District survey (9/17-20; 400 MI-8 likely voters), Ms. Slotkin has jumped out to a 47-43% lead over the two-term Congressman. Mr. Bishop was first elected here in 2014 after then-Rep. Mike Rogers (R) decided not to seek an eighth term.  He won the competitive open seat contest with a 55-42% margin, followed by a decisive 56-39% re-election win.  This central Michigan race promises to be close all the way to Election Day.

NJ-2: It was always believed that when veteran New Jersey Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-Ventnor City) decided to retire Democratic state Senator Jeff Van Drew would succeed him.  Such predictions are proving accurate as underscored in the latest William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University survey (9/12-18; 535 NJ-2 adult likely voters).  According to the data, Sen. Van Drew holds a 55-32% margin over Republican Seth Grossman.

OH-1: Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati) has already been waging a tough campaign against his opponent, Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval (D).  Both candidates have been streaming a barrage of negative ads into the southwestern Ohio media market.  According to a new American Viewpoint survey for the CLF (9/18-20; 400 OH-1 likely voters), Rep. Chabot is now leading the race, 46-39%.  The 1st District contains about half the city of Cincinnati and 63% of Hamilton County.  It then annexes all of Warren County to the northeast.

VA-7: A Monmouth University poll was released this week in Virginia's 7th District.  According to the survey (9/15-24; 400 VA-7 potential voters), Rep. Dave Brat (R-Glen Allen) lies in a flat tie with former CIA agent Abigail Spanberger (D) at 47-47% when likely voters are segmented. Under a Democratic surge turnout, Ms. Spanberger takes a 48-45% lead. But, when looking at all "potential voters", her margin increases to 47-42%.

Governor

Florida:  Ever since his surprise victory in the August 28th Florida Democratic gubernatorial primary, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has held a small lead over resigned Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Palm Coast/Daytona Beach).  The aforementioned University of North Florida poll (see Florida Senate above) sustains this pattern.  They find Mayor Gillum topping Mr. DeSantis, 47-43%, which is wholly consistent with other public data.

Iowa:  Businessman Fred Hubbell (D) has crafted a small lead against Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), according to the Des Moines-based Selzer & Company polling firm.  Their new Hawkeye State poll (9/17-20; 801 IA adults; 555 IA likely voters) sees Mr. Hubbell holding a slight 43-41% edge over the state's new Governor.

Michigan:  Democratic gubernatorial nominee Gretchen Whitmer, a former state House Minority Leader, has held a commanding lead in the open Governor's race since the state's August 7th primary.  Though she maintains a lead well beyond the margin of error in the latest poll completed earlier in the week, a new EPIC MRA survey for television station WOOD in Grand Rapids, Holland, and Kalamazoo (9/21-24; 600 MI likely voters), finds Ms. Whitmer's advantage trending away from double-digits. Still, she holds an eight-point lead over Attorney General Bill Schuette (R), 45-37%.  Though his standing is stronger, Mr. Schuette must make up considerable ground in the waning days of this statewide campaign.

New Mexico:  The aforementioned NSON Opinion Strategies poll (see New Mexico Senate above) sees an even tighter gubernatorial contest.  In the statewide battle of two US House members, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-Albuquerque) now holds just a 44-40% lead over Rep. Steve Pearce (R-Hobbs).  The latest poll, from the Albuquerque Journal (9/7-13) had Ms. Grisham leading 50-43%.  Five polls have been taken since the 1st of August, and all give her an average percentage of 48.  This contrasts to Mr. Pearce's average of 42%.

South Dakota: The last Democratic Governor of South Dakota was Harvey Wollman, who left office at the beginning of 1979.  A new poll, however, suggests that state Senate Minority Leader Billie Sutton (D-Burke) is not only competitive against US Rep. Kristi Noem (R-Castlewood) for the opportunity of succeeding term-limited Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R), but places him three points ahead.  According to Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, polling for the Sutton Campaign (9/20-24; 500 SD likely voters), the Democratic nominee holds a 45-42% edge over Ms. Noem.


 
 
 

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