Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Senate Primary Challenges Getting Serious

In Senate on August 2, 2011 at 8:10 am

Two states where veteran Senators are virtually assured of facing serious GOP primary challengers are Indiana and Utah, and news was made in both places over the weekend. Both incumbent sentaors Richard Lugar (IN) and Orrin Hatch (UT) were elected in 1976 and are each seeking a seventh six-year term.

The Lugar camp just released its own internal survey of the Indiana Republican electorate, in response to the Club for Growth’s late July poll that posted challenger Richard Mourdock, Indiana’s state treasurer, to a 34-32 percent lead. Lugar’s own data gives him a double-digit lead, but the 45-31 percent spread still suggests trouble for the long time incumbent. Failure to exceed 50 percent amongst one’s own political base is a warning sign for any office holder. Lugar’s American Viewpoint poll was taken during the same time as the Club for Growth survey, but was only now released publicly.

In Utah, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT-3), long talked about as a challenger to Sen. Hatch, said this weekend that he was moving from “maybe” to “probably” in terms of making the challenge. He says he will finally decide after Labor Day. Both Hatch and Chaffetz must first obtain at least 40 percent of the Utah Republican Convention’s nominating ballots just to secure one of the two primary ballot positions. If a candidate reaches 60 percent of the convention vote, such person is officially nominated and there is no primary election. It is unlikely that either Hatch or Chaffetz can reach the nominating plateau. Hatch will have a huge resource advantage for the June primary — the Senator possesses $3.43 million in his campaign account compared to Chaffetz’s $227,145.
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