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.

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

Key Takeaways:

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Takeaways:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Key Takeaways:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

September 21, 2018
Candidate Slates Finalized as Midterm Contests Heat Up
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Minnesota: potential upset could be on the horizon in Senate race between state Sen. Karin Housley (R) and appointed Sen. Tina Smith (D)
  • Tennessee & Texas Senate:  latest polls have contests flipping back and forth
  • CA-39: GOP's Young Kim (R) opens big lead over opponent, Gil Cisneros (D)
  • MA-3: Democrat re-count winner now final - former congressional chief of staff and businesswoman Lori Trahan officially clinches party nomination and will face GOP candidate, businessman Rick Green in the general
  • Florida & New Mexico: Democrat candidates for Governor develop leads
  • Wisconsin: Gov. Scott Walker (R) in political dogfight as recent polling shows him trailing Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Evers (D)


Minnesota:  A new Minneapolis Star Tribune/Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategies poll (9/10-12; 800 MN likely voters) finds state Sen. Karin Housley (R-St. Croix Valley) pulling to within high single-digits of appointed Sen. Tina Smith (D) in the upcoming special Senate election scheduled concurrently with the regular election calendar.  According to the Mason-Dixon results, Sen. Smith's lead is narrowing to 44-37%, placing Housley within shouting distance of the incumbent with Sen. Smith well below 50%.  This special election effort may become one to watch as Election Day draws ever nearer.

Tennessee:  The open Tennessee Senate race continues to move back and forth between former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) and US Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood).  The latest Vox Populi survey sums it up well.  According to their latest poll (9/16-18; 567 TN "active" voters), the two candidates are tied at 42% apiece on the first ballot test question.  When pushed for an answer, an additional nine percent lean toward Bredesen as opposed to seven percent more preferring Blackburn.

Earlier in the month, CNN released their Tennessee poll (9/11-15; 723 TN likely voters) that placed Mr. Bredesen up 50-45%.  But, during the same time period, Triton Research & Polling (9/10-12; 1,038 TN registered voters) found Blackburn riding in front, 48-45%.  Out of state groups are coming in hard for Bredesen, but Blackburn has raised more campaign money. October promises to be an interesting month in the Volunteer State.

Texas:  Just when Sen. Ted Cruz (R) sees his best independent polling results from Quinnipiac University (9/11-17; 807 TX likely voters) placing him ahead of Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-El Paso), 54-45%, Ipsos Reuters countered with their online poll (9/6-14; 992 TX adults/registered voters) that gives O'Rourke a 47-45% edge. This is further countered by Vox Populi (9/16-18; 508 TX likely voters) that foresees a flat tie at 46% apiece.  Then, Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling, surveying for the liberal interest group Protect Our Care (9/19-20; 613 TX likely voters) again finds Cruz up, 48-45%.

Wisconsin:  Marquette University Law School just released their September poll (9/12-16; 800 WI registered voters; 614 likely voters) and sees Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) substantially strengthening her advantage over state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield).

In Marquette's August poll, the margin between the two candidates was only two percentage points (Baldwin leading 49-47%), but this new survey finds the Senator establishing a 53-42% advantage.  Sen. Baldwin, without facing a primary, launched a strong media wave just before and after the August 14th vote, thus taking advantage of Ms. Vukmir having to spend her treasury in order to win the competitive Republican vote.


CA-39:  A new independent Monmouth University poll (9/13-16; 402 CA-39 likely voters) is forecasting Republican former state Assemblywoman Young Kim to a new double-digit lead over retired Naval officer and lottery winner Gil Cisneros (D).  According to the Monmouth result, Ms. Kim now has a strong 51-41% lead for retiring Rep. Ed Royce's (R-Yorba Linda/ Fullerton) seat.  Previously, the race had been considered to be languishing in the toss-up category.

CO-6: The Siena College/New York Times polling series examined the east Denver suburbs (9/12-14; 500 CO-6 likely voters) and found five-term incumbent Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) falling significantly behind in his battle for re-election.  The Congressman, who has won three difficult campaigns in a district drawn to defeat him, now looks to be trailing by double digits.  According to the Siena data, challenger Jason Crow (D), an attorney and Iraq War veteran, leads Rep. Coffman, 51-40%.  It is clear the Congressman has his work cut out for him to score another unconventional political victory.

FL-27:  According to a McLaughlin & Associates poll for the Maria Elvira Salazar campaign (9/10-13; 400 FL-27 likely voters), the Republican nominee, an Emmy winning Spanish language news reporter, holds a 51-42% lead over former Health and Human Services secretary and ex-University of Miami president Donna Shalala (D) in the open South Florida seat.  The Shalala campaign countered with their own internal Bendixen & Amandi International poll (8/29-9/2; 600 FL-27 registered voters), which gave their candidate a 46-42% advantage.  Though many prognosticators have this seat rated as Likely Democratic, the numbers appear to be telling a different story. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Miami) is retiring.

KS-2:  Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Topeka) is retiring, leaving this marginal district open.  Democrats have been high on their chances here with former state House Minority Leader and 2014 gubernatorial nominee Paul Davis.  Republicans hosted a difficult primary, and Afghan War veteran Steve Watkins, aided by a major independent expenditure that his father financed, overcame four state legislators to win the GOP nomination, but with only 26% of the vote. Therefore, Mr. Watkins must scramble to unite a skeptical Republican base behind him. Siena College just tested this campaign (9/13-15; 500 KS-2 likely voters) and finds a dead heat general election contest.  The Siena results find Davis edging Watkins, 45-44%.

MA-3: The open 3rd Congressional District Democratic primary recount has now concluded.  As expected - after the initial recount precincts actually added votes to her total - former congressional chief of staff and businesswoman Lori Trahan has now officially clinched the party nomination.  Her main opponent, Boston mayoral former chief of staff Dan Koh, conceded defeat.  The original count, which found Ms. Trahan leading by just 52 votes, expanded to a 145-vote margin when the canvass and recount concluded.  The new Democratic nominee is now favored to defeat Republican businessman Rick Green in the general election, though an upset is not entirely out of the question.  The seat is open because Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell) is retiring.

NJ-7:  Monmouth University went into the field to test the central New Jersey race between five-term incumbent Leonard Lance (R-Clinton Township) and former State Department official Tom Malinowski (D).  According to the survey (9/13-17; 414 NJ-7 registered voters), Mr. Malinowski takes a 46-43% over Rep. Lance among the most likely voters.  The 7th District is politically marginal and is obviously in play for a Democratic conversion.

NM-2:  The open southern New Mexico congressional district hasn't generated a lot of national attention, but that could soon change.  While previous polling had posted state Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-Alamogordo) to leads of between two and 14 points, the new Siena College/New York Times survey (9/13-18; 503 NM-2 likely voters) finds attorney Xochitl Torres-Small (D) now claiming a one- point lead, 46-45%.  Earlier this week, the Albuquerque Journal released their poll that gave Ms. Herrell a 48-41% advantage.

NY-27:  It has now become apparent that New York Republican officials will not be able to legally remove Rep. Chris Collins' (R-Clarence/Batavia) name from the November ballot, as the Congressman requested.  Mr. Collins was indicted for insider trading in a situation involving his son and a company in which both served on the board of directors.  The Democratic nominee is Grand Island town official Nate McMurray, but he has yet to make a mark on the campaign trail.  Despite what is normally a safe Upstate Republican seat, we can certainly expect to see national and local Democrats quickly coalescing behind McMurray to finance a serious run.

VA-2:   A Garin-Hart-Yang Research survey for the Elaine Luria campaign (9/5-8; 404 VA-2 likely voters) finds the retired Navy Commander moving ahead of Rep. Scott Taylor (R-Virginia Beach), 51-43%.  Recent controversy has arisen that resulted in several of Taylor campaign operatives being fired for apparently assisting an effort to qualify an Independent candidate for the ballot with falsified signatures.  This data suggests that the negative publicity has clearly put Rep. Taylor, originally elected in 2016, in serious danger of losing his seat.

VA-10:  Despite political rumors previously circulating that the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) was going to abandon Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-McLean) because early polling suggested a Democratic lead, their latest action proves such conjecture wholly false.  The NRCC just committed over $710,000 in new independent expenditures on Rep. Comstock's behalf, making her the top recipient of their most recently announced round of spending in 15 districts around the country.


Florida:  Rasmussen Reports has, at times, been criticized for producing skewed data in the Republicans' favor.  But, their new Florida poll (9/9-11; 800 FL likely voters) actually gives Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum, the Tallahassee Mayor who scored a come-from-behind upset victory in the August 28th primary, his strongest lead over resigned Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Palm Coast/Daytona Beach).  All other polls of this race find the two candidates well within the margin of polling error, but Rasmussen sees a 48-42% spread.

Maryland:  Maryland-based Goucher College, which often polls Maryland political campaigns, released a new statewide study (9/11-16; 831 MD adults).  The results find Gov. Larry Hogan (R) moving out to a prohibitive lead over former NAACP president Ben Jealous (D) in his race for re-election. According to Goucher, the Governor holds a 54-32% advantage.

The fact that this is a poll of "adults" and uses a universe apparently not even screened for registered voters could give the Governor some enhanced artificial support because he is the more well-known candidate, so it's possible that the registered or likely voter ballot test would be a bit closer.  Irrespective of the polling segmentation, Republican Gov. Hogan appears headed for re-election even in this most Democratic of states.

Minnesota: In a rare poll of the open Minnesota Governor's race since the August 14th primary, the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper released their Mason-Dixon Polling & Research survey (9/10-12; 800 MN likely voters) that posts the south Minnesota Congressman to a 45-36% lead over Hennepin County Commissioner and 2014 Republican gubernatorial nominee Jeff Johnson.

Among men, the race is tied at 40-40%, but women give the Democratic nominee a whopping 18-point advantage at 50-32%.

New Mexico:  US Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-Albuquerque) is sustaining a 50-43% advantage over GOP Rep. Steve Pearce (R-Hobbs) in the open Governor's race as reported in a new Albuquerque Journal newspaper poll (Research & Polling, Inc.; 9/7-13; 966 NM registered voters).  The winner replaces term-limited Gov. Susana Martinez (R) next year. Earlier, Ms. Grisham's lead over Mr. Pearce had dropped to two points, 42-40%, when Emerson College released the results of their mid-August survey.  Since then two Democratic polls gave her leads of eight and ten points, and now we see a seven-point spread in this latest independent survey.

Wisconsin:  In a race that continually polls close but bounces back and forth between Gov. Scott Walker (R) and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers (D), the aforementioned Marquette University Law School survey (see Wisconsin Senate above) finds the Governor trailing Mr. Evers, 49-44% among likely voters.  Expanding to the registered voters universe, the split is a similar 47-43% in Mr. Evers' favor.  Gov. Walker is running for a third term, but he has already won three elections since 2010, including surviving a statewide recall vote in 2012.

September 14, 2018
Primary Season Winds Down as Attention Turns to November Contests
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • New York: Gov. Andrew Cuomo easily defeats Democratic primary opponent, actress Cynthia Nixon
  • Michigan: poll shows Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) has commanding lead over GOP opponent John James (R)
  • FL-6: Rep. Ron DeSantis (R) resigns House seat to run full-time for Governor
  • MA-3: re-count to produce Democratic party winner next week
  • Arizona: Gov. Doug Ducey (R) pulling ahead of Arizona State University professor David Garcia (D) 

Primary Results

The New Hampshire primary produced gubernatorial nominees.  First term Gov. Chris Sununu (R) will face former state Sen. Molly Kelly (D) in the fast approaching general election. Gov. Sununu, with strong job approval ratings, is the favorite for the fall campaign.

In the open 1st Congressional District, Executive Councilor Chris Pappas (D) and former South Hampton police chief Eddie Edwards (R) advanced to the general election.  The November winner will replace retiring Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-Rochester).  Mr. Pappas opens as a slight favorite, but this district has swung back and forth between the two parties more than any seat in the nation since 2006.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo was re-nominated in the Democratic primary on Wednesday, but with only 56% of the vote.  She again faces Republican Cranston Mayor Allan Fung in the coming general election.  Mr. Fung also won re-nomination this week with a percentage only in the mid-50s.  He came within five percentage points of Ms. Raimondo in the 2014 general election.

As expected, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo cruised to an easy 65-35% Democratic primary victory over actress Cynthia Nixon on Thursday.  He is the prohibitive favorite to win a third term over the new Republican gubernatorial nominee, Duchess County Executive Marc Molinaro.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-Cold Spring/West Point) lost his bid for Attorney General, so he returns to the congressional race.  New York is the only state that holds two separate primaries, one for federal and the other for state offices, so current elected officials have the benefit of being able to run for two offices in the same cycle, and then choosing where they will run in the general election.  Rep. Maloney's statewide defeat means he will remain in the House.


Arizona:  Several surveys were released this week in Arizona, producing mixed results.  Gravis Marketing publicized their new survey (9/5-7; 882 AZ likely voters) that finds Rep. McSally's (R-Tucson) campaign standing improving.  Instead of trailing Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) by single digits as she was before the late August primary, Gravis projects that the Tucson Republican now has slightly forged ahead of the Phoenix Democrat, 49-48%.

OH Predictive Insights (9/5-6; 597 AZ likely voters), an Arizona-based firm, also finds Rep. McSally leading, this time with a 49-46% advantage.  A third firm, Data Orbital (9/4-6; 550 AZ likely voters), however, sees the race flipping back into Rep. Sinema's favor by a 46-42% count.  All of the surveys were conducted during the same September 4-7 period.  The later Fox News data (9/8-11; (801 AZ registered voters; 710 likely voters) also posts Rep. Sinema to an advantage, 47-44% among likely voters, and 46-42% within the larger registered voter pool.

Indiana:  On the heels of the NBC/Marist College Indiana poll (8/26-29; 576 IN likely voters) that we covered last week showing Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) holding a 43-41% lead over former state Representative and international businessman Mike Braun (R), Fox News sees a split result.  Their new survey (804 IN registered voters; 677 likely voters) posts Mr. Braun to a 45-43% advantage among likely voters, while Sen. Donnelly leads 42-41% within the registered voter segment.

Michigan: The Glengariff Group survey research firm, polling for the Detroit News and WDIV-TV (9/5-7; 600 MI likely voters) tested the US Senate race between three-term incumbent Debbie Stabenow (D) and retired Army Ranger and manufacturing business owner John James (R).  According to the Glengariff results, Sen. Stabenow has developed a strong 56-33% margin.  Since he officially became the Republican nominee in the August 7th primary, Mr. James has yet to establish a strong foothold opposite the Senator.

Missouri: Last week, NBC News/Marist College released their Missouri Senate survey (8/25-28; 774 MO registered voters), that saw Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) topping Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), 44-40%. This week Fox News (808 MO registered voters; 675 likely voters) publicized their data that virtually confirms the NBC/Marist numbers.  They find Sen. McCaskill up 44-41% among likely voters, and 41-39% when registered voters are included.

Nevada:  A new Suffolk University poll (9/5-10; 500 NV likely voters) confirms a dead heat race between Sen. Dean Heller (R) and Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson) that every other poll has shown.  This survey projects Ms. Rosen clinging to the smallest of edges, 41.6 (208 respondent votes) to 41.2% (206 respondent votes) on the ballot test question.

Ohio:  The Morning Consult organization released their recent Ohio data (9/2-11; 1,592 OH registered voters via automated response device) and sees two-term Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) developing a wide lead in his re-election battle against Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth).  The MC results find Sen. Brown holding a strong 47-31% advantage.  The other most recent public survey, from Change Research, found a much closer contest at 46-42% in the Senator's favor.    

Tennessee:  The open Tennessee Senate race between former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) and US Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) has been bouncing around for weeks.  Last week we reported upon the NBC News/Marist College poll (8/25-28; 538 TN likely voters) that gave Mr. Bredesen a 48-46% edge over Ms. Blackburn.  Now, Fox News counters with their data (809 TN registered voters; 686 likely voters) that finds the Congresswoman holding a 47-44% advantage among likely general election participants, and a 45-43% edge when registered voters are tested.


AR-2: The Talk Business & Politics group and the Hendrix College survey research arm again teamed up, as they have done before every recent election, to test the Arkansas electorate. The entities released surveys in all four of the state's congressional districts, but the 2nd CD, anchored in Little Rock, is the only one that appears even somewhat competitive.  According to the Hendrix data (9/5-7; 428 AR-2 likely voters), two-term Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock) leads state Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock), by a 50-41% count.  Though Mr. Hill is comfortably ahead, Mr. Tucker's level of support does suggest this seat is worth watching as the campaigns now begin to hit full stride.

FL-6:  Now officially the Republican gubernatorial nominee, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Palm Coast/Daytona Beach) resigned his congressional seat this week to concentrate full time on his statewide campaign opposite Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D).

The DeSantis decision does not particularly affect the 6th District race.  Because the Congressman was not seeking re-election, this district is already part of the 65 open seat count.  The 6th should remain in Republican hands, but Democrats are making a competitive challenge.  The GOP nominee is businessman, Afghan War veteran, and ex-aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, Mike Waltz. His Democratic opponent, Nancy Soderberg, is a former alternate Representative to the United Nations in the Clinton Administration before directing a congressional advisory committee pertaining to national security in the Obama Administration.

KY-6:  Soon after the Kentucky primary in late May, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) released a survey showing challenger Amy McGrath (D) jumping out to a major 52-37% lead over three-term Rep. Andy Barr (R-Lexington).  This, and what is reported as confirming internal Barr data at the time, led the Congressman's campaign to go heavy negative against Ms. McGrath.  It appears the ad campaign drawing a clear ideological contrast has worked in the conservative-leaning northeast Kentucky district.

According to a new Fabrizio, Lee & Associates for the Congressional Leadership Fund (9/4-6; 400 KY-6 likely voters), the Congressman is back on top, 49-45%.  The negative attacks drove Ms. McGrath's favorability index from 55:16% favorable to unfavorable in June to 45:34% in early September.

MA-3:  Former Boston mayoral chief of staff Dan Koh officially requested a recount of his race against former congressional chief of staff and businesswoman Lori Trahan and eight other Democrats and the results are actually expanding his opponent's slight edge.  The original unofficial tally gave Ms. Trahan only a 52-vote lead over Mr. Koh.  Though the process is not fully completed, the latest report suggests that Ms. Trahan's lead has expanded to 132 votes. The recount will conclude by Monday.  The eventual Democratic winner, probably Ms. Trahan, faces businessman Rick Green (R) in the general election for the seat that retiring Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell) is vacating.

TX-23:  Texas' 23rd District, the one truly swing seat in the Lone Star State and a domain that stretches from San Antonio to El Paso, is again a Democratic conversion target this year.  The New York Times/Siena College polling project just surveyed the district (9/10-11; 495 TX-23 likely voters) and posted Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) to a 51-43% lead over his Democratic opponent, former US Trade Office official Gina Ortiz Jones (D).

Utah: Utah pollster Dan Jones & Associates just released new survey data in three of the state's four congressional districts.  Republican Representatives Rob Bishop and John Curtis are posting big re-election leads, but Salt Lake City Congressman Chris Stewart is facing a more competitive opponent.  He leads Democratic college professor Shireen Ghorbani by eleven points, 45-34%. 

The top competitive seat in the state, the south Salt Lake City suburban district that two-term Congresswoman Mia Love (R-Saratoga Springs) represents, is much closer.  Dan Jones did not poll this district because so many surveys have been recently released, four alone in August and September, including a pair from the campaigns themselves.  Rep. Love leads Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams (D) in all, with margins between two and nine percentage points.


Arizona:  Gravis Marketing and the Data Orbital survey research organization released new Arizona gubernatorial data, and each sees Gov. Doug Ducey (R) re-establishing his early lead. According to Gravis (9/5-7; 882 AZ likely voters), Gov. Ducey has built a 48-44% advantage over Arizona State University professor David Garcia (D). Data Orbital (9/4-6; 550 AZ likely voters) finds a similar result, though is more bullish for the Governor.  They project Mr. Ducey to be holding a 49-41% advantage. The new Fox Poll (9/8-11; 710 AZ likely voters) largely confirms the DO spread.  They see Gov. Ducey's lead at 51-40%.

Florida:  St. Pete Polls, surveying for the Empower Wellness organization (9/5-6; 2,240 FL likely voters), finds Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) and US Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Palm Coast/Daytona Beach) in almost a flat tie.  The large-sample poll found 1,066 respondents choosing Mr. Gillum and 1,059 professing support for Rep. DeSantis.  The support percentages are 47.6 to 47.3%.

Georgia:  The Georgia gubernatorial race is just as close as the one described above in Florida.  According to a University of Georgia poll for the Atlanta Journal Constitution and News Channel 2 (8/26-9/4; 1,020 GA likely voters), Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) has the smallest 45.3 to 44.9% lead over former state Rep. Stacey Abrams (D), meaning 462 poll respondents chose him versus 458 for the Democratic nominee.

Michigan:  The aforementioned Glengariff poll (see Michigan Senate above) finds Democratic nominee Gretchen Whitmer, a former state House Minority Leader, jumping out to a double-digit lead over Attorney General Bill Schuette (R) in the state's open Governor's race. According to the poll, Ms. Whitmer leads, 50-36%.  The Michigan Governor's race is critical from a national redistricting perspective, and it's clear that Mr. Schuette has his work cut out for him if he is to restore Republican chances to continue presiding in this state as they have done for the past 20 of the last 28 years.  

Nevada:  The important Silver State Governor's race was also tested.  As we saw in the Suffolk University poll quoted above (see Nevada Senate), the state chief executive's race is just as close as the Senate race.  According to Suffolk, Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak (D) has grasped a slight lead over Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R).  The margin spread here is 37-35%.

September 7, 2018
A Surprising Incumbent Primary Defeat While Close Call Races Continue to Emerge
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • California: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) leads in poll 37-29%
  • Florida: two polls show tie in Senate race battle between Sen. Bill Nelson (D) and Gov. Rick Scott (R)
  • Indiana: new poll again finds Senate race closing between Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) and challenger, businessman Mike Braun (R)
  • FL-7: new poll says Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D) up 47-46% in close race against state Rep. Mike Miller (R)
  • MA-7:  ten-term Rep. Mike Capuano (D) defeated in primary by Boston City Councilwoman Ayanna Pressley (D)
  • MN-2: Rep. Jason Lewis (R) holding one-point lead in re-election effort over Democrat Angie Craig
  • Alaska: ex-Sen. Mark Begich (D) refuses to leave Gov race
  • Kansas: Sec. of State Kris Kobach (R) clings to lead over state Sen. Laura Kelly (D) and Greg Orman (I) in race for Governor

Primary Results

In another surprising primary finish, ten-term Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Somerville) was soundly upended in this week's Massachusetts Democratic primary.  At-large Boston City Councilwoman Ayanna Pressley, uniting the minority coalition in what is the state's only majority minority district, defeated the long-term incumbent, 59-41%, far beyond what any published poll was suggesting.

Though data had not been available for most of August, the latest surveys found Rep. Capuano leading but never with majority support.  This signaled weakness within the incumbent's base, but nothing like the margin that materialized in what proved to be a typical primary turnout election.  Ms. Pressley will now be an easy winner in the general election in what is a safely Democratic seat.

The open 3rd District Democratic primary that featured ten candidates vying to succeed retiring Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell), is still not decided.  Only 52 votes separate former congressional chief of staff and businesswoman Lori Trahan and ex-Boston mayoral chief of staff Dan Koh, as the results are surely headed for a recount.  An undisclosed number of provisional ballots also remain to be counted.  We can expect the recount process to drag on for several days.  The eventual winner faces Republican businessman Rick Green in the general election.

Delaware Sen. Tom Carper (D) was easily re-nominated with 65% of the vote against Democratic socialist Kerri Harris in a September 6th Democratic primary that drew media attention but no real competition.  The Senator will now easily defeat Sussex County Councilman Rob Arlett (R) in the general election to win a fourth term.


Arizona: Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) appointed former Sen. Jon Kyl (R) to replace the late Sen. John McCain (R).  Mr. Kyl served as a US Senator from 1995-2013 after originally winning election to the House in 1986.  He promises to serve at least to the end of this year, "but probably more." Mr. Kyl says he will not be a candidate in the 2020 special election.

California:  A new Problosky Research poll (8/29-9/2; 900 CA registered voters) finds Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) leading fellow Democrat Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles state Senator and former state Senate President, by a tepid 37-29% count.  Sen. Feinstein has never been over 50% in any poll, placed first in the state's jungle primary with only 44%, but retains a huge advantage in campaign resources and personal familiarity.

Florida:  The new St. Pete Polls survey (8/29-30; 1,755 FL likely voters via automated response system) finds Sen. Bill Nelson (D) and Gov. Rick Scott (R) in a flat 47-47% tie, as does the latest Quinnipiac University most recent Florida poll (8/30-9/3; 785 FL registered voters). The Q-Poll finds the two candidates tied at 49%, apiece. We can expect this race to poll close all the way to Election Day.

Indiana:  NBC/Marist College released their new Indiana survey (8/26-29; 955 IN adults; 816 IN registered voters; 576 IN likely voters) and found a much tighter race than in the last published poll. According to NBC/Marist, Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) holds a 43-41% lead in the registered voter segment, which increases to 44-41% when the small likely voters cell is isolated.

Sen. Donnelly boasts a good job approval rating, however, 46:31% positive to negative. The numbers also tell us that the outside attacks against Republican nominee Mike Braun have taken their toll. His approval rating is a lower 38:31%. President Trump's job approval in Vice President Pence's home state is 46:47%.

Missouri:  NBC News/Marist College polled the Missouri Senate race (8/25-28; 930 MO adults; 774 MO registered voters), and like all other results we've seen in this contest, the ballot test is close.  According to these results, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) leads Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), 44-40-5-3% with the Libertarian and Green Party candidates obtaining the latter two figures.  If the contest were only between McCaskill and Hawley, the two candidates would fall into a 47-47% tie.  The culmination of data again suggests that this Senate race remains in the toss-up category.

Ohio:  The Ohio Senate race has not gotten much national attention, which suits incumbent Sherrod Brown (D) just fine.  A new Change Research survey for the liberal Innovation Ohio think tank (8/31-9/4; 822 OH likely voters), however, finds the two-term Democratic incumbent leading US Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth) by only a 46-42% clip, much closer than the conventional political wisdom suggests.

West Virginia: Last week, Harper Polling released a survey showing Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) closing to within a 47-41% spread.  Now Research America (formerly Repass Research) has released their new survey (8/16-26; 404 WV likely voters from each of the state's 55 counties) suggesting a slightly different cut, but in the same range as Harper. According to Research America, the Manchin lead is 46-38%.


FL-7:  A St. Pete Polls survey conducted shortly after the Florida primary (8/30; 435 FL-7 likely voters) finds state Rep. Mike Miller (R-Winter Park) trailing freshman Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park) by only a slight 47-46% deficit. The 7th District is politically marginal. Rep. Murphy unseated veteran Rep. John Mica (R) here in 2016 and defends her seat as an incumbent for the first time.  Mr. Miller was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 2014.  The Congresswoman is still favored to win this election, but the electorate here is split, so this poll may well be accurate. More data will be needed to obtain a complete picture.

MI-6:  A Global Strategy Group poll for the Matt Longjohn (D) campaign (8/24-29; 500 MI-6 likely voters) finds 16-term Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) ahead in his current re-election race, but his margin is competitive.  According to the GSG survey, Rep. Upton's advantage is 47-41%.  The 6th District is relatively marginal, so this type of spread isn't especially surprising.  In this current 6th District configuration (since 2012, inclusive), Rep. Upton has averaged 57.7% of the vote.

MN-2: In late July, CNN unleashed a series of negative stories about freshman Rep. Jason Lewis (R-Woodbury), recounting many unflattering comments he made while a Minneapolis radio talk show host.  According to a mid-August WPA Intelligence survey that was just released, the negative attack hasn't changed the race a great deal.  In 2016, he and Democrat Angie Craig were in toss-up mode throughout the election with Mr. Lewis eventually prevailing 47-45%.  The WPA poll (8/18-21; 400 MN-2 likely voters) finds Rep. Lewis leading the re-match with Ms. Craig, 46-45%.

MO-2:  The 2nd District of Missouri, heretofore believed to be safe for three-term Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Ballwin/St. Louis County), now is moving into the competitive realm.  According to an Expedition Strategies survey (8/23-26; 402 MO-2 registered voters) Democratic challenger Cort VanOstran has taken a 43-41% lead over Rep. Wagner.  The Congresswoman has just under $3 million in her campaign account, so she certainly has the resources to reverse this trend.

NY-19: Upstate New York's 19th District is viewed as a toss-up for this election cycle as freshman Rep. John Faso (R-Kinderhook), a Republican former gubernatorial nominee, defends the seat he first won in 2016. According to a Siena University survey (8/20-26; 501 NY-19 likely voters), Rep. Faso leads attorney Antonio Delgado (D), 45-40%.  The good news for the Congressman is that he looks to possess growth room with Republicans (76% support; Delgado has 81% among Democrats) and those 55 years and older, a polling segment in which the two candidates are tied.  There is a major gender gap here, however. Rep. Faso enjoys a 21% advantage among men but is behind nine points among females.

NC-2: A couple of weeks ago, a story broke in the Raleigh area that North Carolina Congressman George Holding (R-Raleigh) sent a fundraising appeal to his donors indicating that his internal polling found him tracking behind his challenger, former state Rep. Linda Coleman (D), presumably to energize his donor base.  Yesterday, the Coleman Campaign released their own internal Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll (8/23-27; 401 NC-2 likely voters) that seemed to confirm the Congressman's reported polling numbers.  The GQR data posts their candidate to a 45-44% edge over Rep. Holding.


Alaska: The three-way race among Gov. Bill Walker, the nation's lone Independent state chief executive, former US Senator Mark Begich (D), and ex-state Senator Mike Dunleavy (R) became official early this week.  Though Walker supporters, including the state AFL-CIO, have been urging Mr. Begich to drop out of the race seeing that polls are uniformly finding Mr. Dunleavy would win a three-way race, he refused to do so.

The adverse split is occurring because Democrats and left-of-center voters are split between Gov. Walker and Mr. Begich, thus allowing the Republican base to push Mr. Dunleavy toward plurality support.  In 2014, Mr. Walker and then-Democratic nominee Byron Mallot unified their ticket (Mallot agreed to run as Lt. Governor), which led to unseating then-Gov. Sean Parnell (R).

Florida: Quinnipiac University immediately went into the field after the Florida primary and found a predictably close budding gubernatorial contest. According to their latest survey (8/30-9/3; 785 FL registered voters), Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) holds a slight 50-47% lead over Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Palm Coast/Daytona Beach).

Kansas: A Public Policy Polling survey for the Kansas Education Association (8/24-26; 877 KS likely voters) finds Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach leading state Sen. Laura Kelly (D-Topeka) by a slight 39-38% margin with Independent Greg Orman pulling 9 percent. Mr. Kobach denied Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) re-nomination in early August by just 361 votes, statewide.

Ohio:  The aforementioned Change Research poll (see Ohio Senate above) also tested the Ohio Governor's race.  Here, the firm finds Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) recapturing a lead over former Attorney General and Consumer Federal Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray (D) by a 45-43% slight margin.  Though the numbers suggest a tight race for DeWine, they are actually an improvement over recently released polling.