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.


December 14, 2018
Candidate Announcement Decisions Continue and New Election in North Carolina 9  
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • President: former Obama Administration Housing & Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro (D) jumping into presidential race; MoveOn Straw Poll shows former Rep. Beto O'Rourke leading list of Democratic presidential contenders
  • Tennessee: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) readies for 4th term
  • ME-2: Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R) loses court challenge to Maine's Ranked Choice Voting run-off system; unclear if he will appeal ruling
  • NC-9: new vote a certainty; GOP getting open primary 
  • LA-Gov: new early polling data shows Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) with jungle primary lead over Republican candidates Rep. Ralph Abraham and developer Eddie Rispone; if goes to a run-off, a much closer contest 

President

Castro Announcement:  Former Obama Administration Housing & Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro (D) officially formed a presidential exploratory committee, but apparently won't spend too much time assessing his chances.  Mr. Castro has scheduled an announcement for January 12th, at which time he is expected to formally enter the national race.  The former Secretary's lone electoral experience is successfully running for Mayor of San Antonio, TX.

MoveOn Straw Poll:  The 2020 presidential campaign is unofficially launched now that we have a straw poll to report.  The MoveOn.org group released the results of their first straw poll, testing for preference among the plethora of Democratic candidates.  In a bit of a surprise, Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-El Paso), fresh from his US Senate defeat at the hands of Sen. Ted Cruz (R), led all the candidates with 15.6% support.  Closely behind in second place was former Vice President Joe Biden (14.9%), Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (13.1%), and California Sen. Kamala Harris (10.0%).

In the second tier were Sen. Elizabeth Warren (6.4%) with a rather poor showing, Sens. Sherrod Brown (2.9%) and Amy Klobuchar (2.8%), former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (2.7%), and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (2.6%), consecutively.  The poll is not statistically significant but does give us an idea that the party's most hardened ideological faction is almost evenly split.

Senate

Tennessee:  Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) has not yet committed to running for a fourth term but releasing his new North Star Opinion Research poll (11/26-29; 600 TN likely voters) provides a good indication that he is looking to do so.  According to the new survey, the Senator's favorability index, the only numbers placed in the public domain, finds him at a very high 65:22% favorable to unfavorable.  In the eastern Tennessee region, his ratio soars even higher to 72:18%.  The third quarter Morning Consult approval ratings, however, posted Mr. Alexander to only a 43:33% overall positive rating.

The 78-year old Senator says he will make his political plans public before the end of this year. In 2014, he won re-nomination over state Rep. Joe Carr (R), 50-41%, and secured a landslide 62-32% victory in the 2014 general election.

Texas: A local Austin political blog suggested that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) might be considering developing a campaign to challenge Sen. John Cornyn in the 2020 Republican primary.  Similar rumors surrounded Patrick two years ago in conjunction with a potential 2018 primary challenge to Gov. Greg Abbott.  At that time, Mr. Patrick quickly ended such speculation when he responded by publicly endorsing the Governor for re-election.  Now, the Lt. Governor again finds himself immediately quashing rumors about running for another office. As he did before, Mr. Patrick reiterated that he has no intention of challenging Sen. Cornyn and issued a public endorsement of the three-term incumbent.

House

CO-6:  Outgoing US Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora), who lost his seat in November to Democrat Jason Crow, says he will not again seek partisan public office.  He has, however, left open the possibility of running for Mayor of Aurora, which is elected on a non-partisan basis.

Mr. Coffman has been in public office since his first election to the state House of Representatives in 1988.  He then served in the state Senate, as state Treasurer, Secretary of State, and will complete five terms in the US House of Representatives.

ME-2:  Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-Oakland/Bangor), who placed first on election night by 1,910 votes but lost Maine's Ranked Choice Voting run-off system that allows people who vote for losing candidates to have a second and possibly third vote count toward the ultimate election, lost his seat to Democrat Jared Golden (D-Lewiston) as a result of the unique system.

After the election, Mr. Poliquin sued in federal court claiming the system is unconstitutional, but late this week the judge rejected his case.  Thus, constitutionality of the RCV system was upheld even though the Maine Supreme Court has ruled it unconstitutional for state races.  It is unclear if Mr. Poliquin will appeal yesterday's ruling.

MA-6:  Massachusetts state Sen. Barbara L'Italien (D-Andover), who placed a distant third in the crowded open 3rd Congressional District Democratic primary back in September, says she is considering challenging 6th District Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Salem) because he is a key leader of the movement to deny Nancy Pelosi from becoming Speaker.

NM-2:  Rep. Steve Pearce (R-Hobbs) just lost the Governor's race in November, but he has already made a political comeback of sorts.  Last weekend he was elected as chairman of the New Mexico Republican Party and will attempt to rebuild the party, which now has no GOP officials either in statewide or federal office.

Mr. Pearce has also not ruled out attempting to re-gain his House seat after Democratic attorney Xochitl Torres-Small converted the seat in the general election.  As party chairman, however, it may be difficult for him to devote time to his new responsibilities and simultaneously prepare for another congressional campaign against a freshman Democratic member.

NC-9:  North Carolina Republicans appear resigned to the eventuality that the 9th District will host a new election.  Considering the election fraud allegations that kept GOP candidate Mark Harris' 905-vote victory on November 6th from being officially certified, the Republican nominee's standing has clearly been damaged.  Therefore, a rerun campaign featuring himself, Democrat Dan McCready, and Libertarian Jeff Scott, would likely result in another GOP loss.

In a deal with the Democrats to restore some of Gov. Roy Cooper's (D) appointment powers, Republicans in the state legislature passed a new election law that will allow an open special election partisan primary and run-off as part of a broad legislative package to reform the controversial State Board of Elections.  With bipartisan approval (79-19 in the House and 34-3 in the Senate), the bill has a good chance of winning Gov. Roy Cooper's (D) support but the state chief executive has not yet signaled he will sign the bill.  With such margins, however, even a Cooper veto might not stop the legislation from becoming law.

NV-4:  First-term Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-Las Vegas), who did not seek re-election, is apparently not done with running for office.  Mr. Kihuen has already filed to run for Las Vegas City Council next year, so it will be interesting to see if the controversy that cost him his congressional career will be a factor in a local Las Vegas city race.

TN-6:  Rep-Elect John Rose (R-TN) announced this week that former Congressman Van Hilleary (R-TN) has agreed to serve as his first chief of staff.  Mr. Hilleary was originally elected to the House in 1994 and served four terms before running unsuccessfully for Governor in 2002, losing a tight 51-48% contest to former Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen.  As we will remember, Mr. Bredesen ran for Senate this year and fell to Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood).   Mr. Hilleary also became a US Senate candidate in 2006 but lost the Republican primary to future Sen. Bob Corker (R).

Interestingly, Mr. Hilleary is the second former Congressman returning in a staff role for the next session.  Earlier, incoming Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) announced that she has hired former Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ) to run her district office program.

Governor

Louisiana:  A great deal of action has already occurred in preparation for next year's Louisiana Governor's campaign.  Earlier this week, state Treasurer John Schroder (R), who confirmed he was considering entering the Governor's race, announced that he would not challenge Democratic incumbent John Bel Edwards.

Now that two Republicans, US Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto/Monroe) and developer Eddie Rispone (R), are formally opposing Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), Remington Research went into the field to test where the contenders currently stand.  The survey (12/11-12; 1,680 LA likely 2019 gubernatorial election voters) finds Gov. Edwards holding a jungle primary lead over both Republicans.  But, advancing to a run-off election should no candidate score majority support, suggests the final outcome could be very close.

With all individuals appearing on the ballot for the original vote, which will come next October 12th, Gov. Edwards would lead Rep. Abraham and Mr. Rispone, 43-31-9%.  But, the mid-40s may be at least an early ceiling for Mr. Edwards.  If he and Rep. Abraham advanced to a November 16th run-off, the two would tie at 44% apiece.  If Mr. Rispone finished second in the original election, Gov. Edwards would top him in the run-off, but only by a 46-39% margin.

Mississippi:  During the week, first-term conservative state Representative Robert Foster (R-DeSoto County) announced he is entering the 2019 open Governor's race. Rep. Foster will soon be opposed by Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) who promises to announce his intention to run before the new state legislative session commences on January 8th.

For the Democrats, four-term Attorney General Jim Hood is already an official candidate. He has run very well in his four statewide races and will be a formidable contender even in this strongly Republican state. Gov. Phil Bryant (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Virginia:  Virginia is the only state in the country that limits its Governors to only one term in office. Therefore, despite Gov. Ralph Northam (D) only being in office for one year, he is already a lame duck.  For the open 2021 campaign, Attorney General Mark Herring (D) yesterday announced that he will be a gubernatorial candidate.  He may be jumping into the race so quickly in order to earn an advantage over Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D), who also has reported interest in succeeding Gov. Northam.


December 7, 2018
Another California GOP House Loss and North Carolina Ballot Controversy Conclude 2018 Election Cycle
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • President: new moves are being made by potential Democratic candidates expressing interest in running
  • Arizona: Gov. Ducey (R) won't run for Senate
  • Mississippi: 2018 Senate candidate Mike Espy (D) files 2020 Senate Campaign Committee for likely re-match with Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R)
  • CA-21: Rep. David Valadao (R) concedes election to opponent TJ Cox (D) after lengthy post-election ballot counting process
  • NC-9: certification controversy could lead to new vote for seat
  • Louisiana:  Sen. John Kennedy (R) will remain in Senate and won't run for Gov.; other candidates express interest

President

Gov. Inslee:  As a plethora of Democratic political figures begin to make statements and initiate moves toward the 2020 presidential race, several took a definitive step early this week.  One of them, two-term Washington Governor and ex-US Congressman Jay Inslee (D), formed a federal political action committee that could be the first step in his making a formal move into the presidential contest.

Of the 30 potential candidates who have at least acknowledged considering the race, five are Governors or former Governors.  The sitting incumbents in addition to Gov. Inslee are Govs. John Hickenlooper (CO) and Steve Bullock (MT).  The former state chief executives are Terry McAuliffe (VA), and Deval Patrick (MA).  

Ex-Gov. Patrick:  Though 30 individuals are still expressing interest in entering the 2020 presidential campaign, one Democrat who won't be joining them is Massachusetts former two-term Gov. Deval Patrick.  Earlier this week, Mr. Patrick made public his intentions not to become a candidate.  The decision surprised many observers as most believed the former Bay State chief executive was making moves to enter the race.

Sen. Merkley:  Attempting to follow Sen. Cory Booker's (D-NJ) lead in changing state law to allow an individual to run simultaneously for different offices, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) is not finding the same reception among Oregon political leaders as Mr. Booker did in New Jersey. Asked whether the state legislature will move on legislation to, in this case, allow Mr. Merkley to run for President as he seeks re-election to the Senate, the state Senate President and House Speaker, according to local publication Willamette Week, respectively did not respond to inquiries and said that she doesn't currently have a position on the issue.

But, Gov. Kate Brown's (D) spokesperson was a bit more definitive when she said, "Gov. Brown's current focus is on helping Oregon families thrive and working with legislators, stakeholders, and community members on her budget and policy agenda, which does not include a proposal for legislation on this topic."

Senate

Arizona:  Grand Canyon State Gov. Doug Ducey (R), fresh from winning a landslide election to a second term, stated yesterday that he will not be a US Senate candidate in 2020, and that he intends on serving his entire second term.

Appointed Sen. Jon Kyl (R) is likely to soon leave his interim post, since he committed only to serving to the end of 2018 when accepting Gov. Ducey's short-term appointment after incumbent Sen. John McCain (R) passed away in late August.  Once Mr. Kyl departs, Gov. Ducey will name a replacement who could presumably run in the 2020 special election to serve the balance of the McCain term.  The seat next comes before the voters for a full term in 2022.  Some believed that the Governor would appoint another caretaker officeholder at which point he would run himself. But such will not be the case.

Georgia:  Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson (D) is confirming that she is considering challenging Sen. David Purdue (R) when her term expires in January.  Ms. Tomlinson was first elected to lead the city of approximately 195,000 people in 2010, becoming the first female Mayor in Columbus' history. She was re-elected in 2014 but is ineligible to seek a third term in this election year.

Ms. Tomlinson qualified her Senate consideration, however, indicating she would yield to gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams if the latter woman chooses to run.  For her part, Ms. Abrams, while confirming she wants to run for office again, says she wants to spend next year as a "private citizen."  In 2014, Mr. Purdue scored a 53-45% win over Michelle Nunn (D), the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn (D).

Mississippi:  Former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi Congressman Mike Espy's 54-46% loss to Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) is not yet two weeks old, but he has already made a political decision for 2020.  Mr. Espy just formed a campaign committee for the next election cycle, meaning we will likely see a re-match of the contest just ended.

House

CA-21:Though California Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford/ Bakersfield) had been projected as the winner, the state's marathon post-election day counting process has produced a different outcome.  Now falling behind by 862 votes with still some more provisional ballots to count, Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford/Bakersfield) conceded defeat to Democrat T.J. Cox, finally closing a race that had been left undecided since election night.

The Cox victory now makes the final pre-commencement count, 235 Democrats, 199 Republicans, with one seat, NC-9, very possibly headed to a new election because of a certification deadlock.  Republicans have now been decimated in the 53-member California delegation, trailing the Democrats 46-7.

CA-52: Political rumors are surfacing in San Diego that four-term US Rep. Scott Peters (D) may decide not to seek re-election in 2020 so he can enter the open Mayor's race.  Republican incumbent Kevin Falconer is ineligible to seek a third term, so the Mayor's position is guaranteed to be open.  Before coming to Congress, Mr. Peters served as president of the City Council.

The 52nd District began the decade as a swing seat that saw Mr. Peters winning by very close margins. Over the succeeding elections, however, the Congressman has secured the seat and it remains to be seen if Republicans can again become competitive here before the next redistricting should the district open.

NC-9:The North Carolina Board of Elections, on a 7-2 vote last Friday, again refused to certify Republican Mark Harris' 905 vote victory over Democrat Dan McCready postponing a further review until December 21st.  The problem revolves around what some Board members are claiming "irregularities" in one county.

Much of the controversy concerns a large number of absentee ballots requested but not returned, and other unexplained issues.  The problem is that a state court has already ruled the composition of this Board to be unconstitutional and is scheduled to dissolve on December 12th.  Therefore, it appears that finding a solution to this situation will likely require a great deal of time through what will likely be several legal venues.  It appears very possible that no one will be sworn in from this district on January 3rd and holding a new election could become the ultimate solution.

Governor

Indiana: Though he has yet to publicly respond, many Indiana Democratic Party leaders are already encouraging defeated Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) to challenge first term Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) in 2020.  Mr. Holcomb, who had been appointed Lt. Governor less than a year before the previous general election, won a 51-45% victory over former state House Minority Leader John Gregg (D) in 2016.  For his part, Mr. Gregg, who was also the party nominee in 2012 when then-US Rep. Mike Pence (R) slipped past him, 49-47%, confirms that he is considering making another run for the state's highest office.

Kentucky:  Former congressional candidate Amy McGrath, the Democratic retired Army helicopter pilot who raised over $7 million in an unsuccessful attempt to unseat Rep. Andy Barr (R-Lexington), is considering entering next year's Governor's race but may face an obstacle even if she decides to move forward.

Kentucky law requires gubernatorial candidates to be residents of the state for the previous six years before running, and though Ms. McGrath has maintained an address there since 1995, she has not necessarily lived in Kentucky for the entire time, some of which was due to military service.  But, when comparing similar past court rulings, maintaining an address in the state, voting, and paying state taxes during times of extended absence may not be enough to meet the state's residency standards.

Gov. Matt Bevin (R) is seeking a second term. Attorney General Andy Beshear (D) and state House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins (R-Sandy Hook) are already announced Democratic candidates.  Ms. McGrath's strong fundraising ability and name ID as a result of her high profile but losing campaign makes her a viable potential statewide candidate, even against established Democratic primary opposition.

Louisiana:  US Sen. John Kennedy (R) was expected to make an announcement on Monday of this week proclaiming his challenge to Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) in next year's Louisiana gubernatorial election.  Instead, however, Sen. Kennedy stated that the best way for him to serve Louisiana is to remain in the US Senate.  Therefore, even though he wouldn't have to risk his Senatorial position to run for Governor, Mr. Kennedy will let the opportunity of forcing a race against Gov. Edwards pass.

US Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto/Monroe) then announced his statewide candidacy as expected, joining developer Eddie Rispone as Republican candidates.  On the other side of the spectrum, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser (R) announced that he will not run for Governor, presumably in order to seek re-election for a second term in his current position.

The big unanswered question seems to surround whether Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) will change his mind about seeking re-election now that Sen. Kennedy is out of the Governor's race and Abraham and Rispone are in.  Early signals suggest that he may be again readying himself to enter the race.  State Treasurer John Schroder also confirms that he is considering becoming a gubernatorial candidate.

Mississippi:  The open Mississippi Governor's race is beginning to attract a lot of attention on the eve of the new election year.  While Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) is said to be less than a month away from announcing his presumed candidacy, state Rep. Robert Foster (R-DeSoto County), who was originally elected in 2017, says he is strongly considering entering the Governor's race and appears to have no trepidation about running against Mr. Reeves.

On the Democratic side, Attorney General Jim Hood (D) is an official candidate and looks to be drawing some intra-party opposition.  Velesha Williams, the former director of the Metro Jackson Community Prevention Coalition, announced her candidacy early this week.  Magnolia Mayor Anthony Witherspoon also confirms that he, too, is considering entering the Democratic gubernatorial primary.


November 30, 2018
Candidate Announcement Decisions Begin
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • President: numerous states considering moving their 2020 primary/caucus to earlier dates
  • President: Sen. Mike Bennet (D-CO) thinking about presidential race; Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) rules out run
  • Mississippi: Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) wins special run-off election, 54-46% over former US Agriculture Secretary and former Congressman Mike Espy (D) 
  • CA-21: Democratic challenger TJ Cox (D) takes 591 vote lead over Rep. David Valadao (R) which flips another seat to Democrats
  • NC-9: Congressman-elect Mark Harris' (R) victory not certified by NC Board of Elections - voting irregularities in one county cited as reason
  • Louisiana Governor: Sen. John Kennedy (R) to make announcement on possible run against Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) shortly

President

An Early Schedule:  Though the 2020 primary/caucus election schedule is far from being finalized, at least ten states are considering moving their primary or caucus date to the election calendar's beginning stage, which could mean that early voting in several places will coincide with the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary.

Officials in Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, and Vermont are reportedly all looking at early delegate selection dates.  By party rule for both Democrats and Republicans, the Iowa caucus, New Hampshire primary, Nevada caucus, and South Carolina primary must be the initial scheduled events, but the aforementioned states appear ready to encroach upon the First Four's domain.

Sen. Bennet:  Add yet another US Senator to the potential presidential candidate rolls. Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D) confirms that he, too, is thinking of entering the presidential campaign.  Among more than 20 other prospective contenders, Sen. Bennet, if he were to run, might directly oppose his state's outgoing Governor, John Hickenlooper.  As many as ten sitting US Senators could enter the presidential campaign, among the most serious being Kamala Harris (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and, of course, Bernie Sanders (I-D/VT).

Gov. Cuomo:  New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), fresh from a 58% re-election victory to a third term, said definitively late this week that he would not enter the burgeoning Democratic presidential primary field.  With more potential candidates expressing interest daily, Gov. Cuomo has effectively taken any budding national candidacy for himself off the political table. Mr. Cuomo said he ran again for Governor to accomplish certain things for the state of New York, and he intends to concentrate on implementing his stated goals.

Senate

Alabama: Potential US Senate candidates are already beginning to make preparatory moves for challenging Sen. Doug Jones (D), who must stand for election to a full six-year term next year. State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R), who initially looked toward running for Governor but backed off when Lt. Governor Kay Ivey (R) ascended to the state's top position and quickly began to solidify party support, announced that he is filing an exploratory committee to assess his chances against Sen. Jones.

We can expect to see a crowded Republican primary field, including perhaps former Attorney General and US Senator Jeff Sessions (R) who has not ruled out making a bid for his former position. US Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) is another major political figure expected to make a run for the Senate post. Clearly, Sen. Jones, who was elected in the controversial 2017 special election, is the most vulnerable national Democratic incumbent seeking re-election.

Colorado:The final 2018 Senate race ended this week, and already we see a 2020 challenger announcement. Lorena Garcia, the president of the Colorado Statewide Parents Coalition, announced that she will seek the Democratic nomination in order to challenge Sen. Cory Gardner (R). We can expect to see many Democratic candidates coming forth to make this race, but Ms. Garcia is first to make a definitive announcement.

Mississippi:Appointed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) won the special Mississippi run-off election this week with a 54-46% margin over former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi Congressman Mike Espy (D). Despite making several gaffes in the run-off cycle, Ms. Hyde-Smith won a comfortable victory though understandably a few points shy of a typical Republican statewide vote total. In comparison, Sen. Roger Wicker (R) was re-elected to his third term in this year's regular election with a 58-39% victory margin.

The Republican win brings next year's Senate partisan division to 53R-47D with all the 2018 election cycle races now decided, a net gain of two seats when compared to the previous Congress. Eight of the members will constitute the freshman class. This number does not include the two appointed Senators, Tina Smith (D-MN) and Ms. Hyde-Smith, who have now been elected in their own right. In 2020, 22 Republicans will be defending their seats versus just 12 Democrats, the opposite of the 2018 situation where the latter party was on the defensive in 26 of the 35 election campaigns.

Montana:Gov. Steve Bullock (D), who is ineligible to seek a third term in 2020, late this week again ruled out launching a challenge to Sen. Steve Daines (R) who is in-cycle in the next election. The statement fuels speculation that Mr. Bullock will form a presidential campaign committee. It has been no secret that the Governor has been testing the national political waters about joining the bulging Democratic field of presidential candidates.

House

The House Numbers:  With the 2018 campaign results now in the books, or close to it (the one exception being the outstanding CA-21 race that now favors Democrat T.J. Cox to defeat GOP Rep. David Valadao), we can look at the detailed composition of the new House.

In January, the chamber will feature 235 Democrats and 200 Republicans, a gain of 40 Democratic seats when compared to the previous Congress.  A total of 93 are freshmen, not counting the eight members who came to the House as special election winners in 2017 and '18 who were elected to a full term earlier this month. Of the 93 freshmen, 62 are Democrats.  A total of 244 House members will have served three full terms or less when the new Congress convenes, making this the least senior chamber in the modern political era.

CA-21:  Though California Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford/ Bakersfield) had been projected as the winner, the state's marathon post-election day counting process appears to be producing a different outcome.  Though the counting is still not complete and likely won't be until early next week, Democratic challenger T.J. Cox has taken a 591-vote lead over the Congressman as a new batch of Kern, Kings, and Fresno County votes were reported.  It is difficult to say how many mail, overseas, and provisional votes remain since the 21st is split among four counties and the domain totals report in aggregate, but California political experts anticipate that this trend will hold giving Democrats their seventh conversion victory in the Golden State alone.

FL-26:  Two-term Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Miami) lost his congressional seat to Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell earlier this month and says it is unlikely that he will run for Congress in 2020.  The outgoing Congressman did say, however, that he has interest in seeking the Miami-Dade County mayoral position, so Mr. Curbelo's career in elective office may not yet be at an end.

GA-7:  Another final call was made early in the week. A machine recount actually increased Rep. Rob Woodall's (R-Lawrenceville) meager 419 vote margin to 433 votes.   Former state Senate Budget committee director Carolyn Bourdeaux (D) conceded the result and offered the Congressman her congratulations.  The final tally finds Woodall winning 140,443 to 140,010.

MI-13:  Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones (D) won the special 13th District congressional election to fill resigned Rep. John Conyers' (D-Detroit) vacancy but failed to secure the seat in the regular election.  She had petitioned the House Administration Committee and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) asking for a waiver to be able to serve in the lame duck session without being forced to resign her local position.  Since Ms. Jones cannot continue serving in the new Congress once the lame duck session ends, the Speaker ruled that she can take the seat for the balance of the year.  Therefore, Ms. Jones will be sworn in to complete the remaining few weeks of this congressional term.

NM-2:  Rep. Steve Pearce (R-Hobbs), who lost the Governor's race three weeks ago to his congressional colleague, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-Albuquerque), confirmed late this week that he will run for chairman of the New Mexico Republican Party next year, and has not ruled out making yet another attempt to regain the House seat he relinquished to run statewide.

In 2008, Rep. Pearce ran for US Senate only to see a Democrat win the House seat while the Congressman was losing statewide.  Mr. Pearce re-claimed the congressional seat in 2010. With attorney Xochitl Torres-Small converting Pearce's seat to the Democratic column in this election, it is clear that the party will be looking to recruit a strong challenger.  Since it would be difficult for the party to find a stronger candidate than Rep. Pearce, a second comeback run to regain the seat he voluntarily ceded for the second time would again have to be taken seriously.

NC-9:  The North Carolina Board of Elections, comprised of four Democrats, four Republicans, and one Independent, this week refused to certify the 9th District election results that produced a 905-vote win for Republican Mark Harris.  The Board Vice Chairman cited "irregularities" in one county as the reason to delay certification.  The remaining eight members agreed, hence the seat was placed in political limbo.  The Board will now reconvene today in hopes of rectifying the situation and making a final decision.  We can expect a long court fight if the Board formally decides to deny Mr. Harris his certificate of election.

UT-4:  Rep. Mia Love (R-Saratoga Springs) conceded her congressional race to Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams (D) late this week as the final vote counting concluded.  Though Ms. Love dominated the rural counties, Mr. McAdams' strength in Salt Lake County was enough to propel him to a close 694 vote victory from more than 269,000 ballots cast.

Governor

Louisiana:  It has been presumed for some time that Sen. John Kennedy (R) will challenge Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) in next year's Louisiana gubernatorial campaign.  And, it appears that we will know definitively early next week.  Reports are that Sen. Kennedy will likely announce his intention to run on Monday.  It is believed that he will not draw major Republican opposition should he choose to enter the race. Developer Eddie Ripsone is already in the Republican race, and Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto/Monroe/Alexandria) is expected to run but may not if the Senator formally becomes a candidate.

Early polling suggests that Sen. Kennedy would force Gov. Edwards into a run-off and appears well positioned to potentially defeat him in a such a subsequent campaign.


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.