Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Archive for July, 2013|Monthly archive page

Candidate Developments

In House, Senate on July 30, 2013 at 11:06 am

Alabama

With resigning Rep. Jo Bonner (R-AL-1) leaving office this Friday, Gov. Robert Bentley (R) announced the schedule for the upcoming replacement special election. With 11 candidates already running, eight of whom are Republicans, the governor has designated Monday, Aug. 5 as the candidate filing deadline. The party primaries will occur on Sept. 24, with run-offs, if necessary, to be held Nov. 5. The special general will then be Dec. 17.

In the unlikely occurrence of candidates from both parties securing a majority of the vote on Sept. 24, and thus clinching their respective nominations, the general election will then move to the Nov. 5 date. The eventual Republican nominee will be favored.

Arkansas

Key political insiders believe that Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR-4) will announce a challenge to Sen. Mark Pryor (D) later this week. Cotton, a freshman, has been considered a potential Pryor opponent almost the day after he was elected to the House, and now his move looks to become official.

The Arkansas Senate seat will likely fall into the highly competitive category, and this should be one of the most important statewide campaigns during the entire election cycle. It is clearly one of the seats that will determine the Senate majority for the next Congress.

Former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter (D), who forced then-Sen. Blanche Lincoln into a divisive Democratic primary that added to her political woes in 2010, thus leading to her eventual 57-36 percent defeat at the hands of then-Rep. John Boozman (R), has decided not to pursue another statewide Democratic primary battle. Originally announced as a 2014 open seat gubernatorial candidate, Halter announced this week that he is withdrawing from the contest. The action gives former Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR-4) a clear shot for the Democratic nomination that means a virtual sure general election contest with former Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR-3). Early polling had given Ross a large lead over Halter, which clearly played into the ex-lieutentant governor’s withdrawal decision.

Illinois

Beginning with the end of World War II until January of this very year, the southwestern Illinois seat anchored in East St. Louis had been represented by only two men: representatives Mel Price (D; 1945-1988) and Jerry Costello (D; 1988-2013). Now, freshman Rep. Bill Enyart (D-IL-12), who won a 52-43 percent victory over former lieutenant governor nominee Jason Plummer (R), has already drawn a significant challenger for his first re-election.
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Michaud Still Up in Maine; DoJ Moves on Texas

In Governor, Voting Rights on July 29, 2013 at 11:00 am
Eliot Cutler

Eliot Cutler

The Maine Education Association commissioned a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll (July 11-16; 400 registered Maine voters) and found Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME-2) to be leading the three-way contest for governor. According to the GQR data, Michaud has a 40-31-26 percent advantage over Gov. Paul LePage (R) and Independent attorney Eliot Cutler.

The poll comes on the heels of Gov. LePage being embroiled in a budget controversy, which came to a head in late June. Though the survey gives Michaud a clear lead, Cutler’s strength suggests that the same three-way configuration that elected LePage in 2010 could again present itself. In that election, LePage won a 38-36-19 percent victory over Cutler and Democratic nominee Libby Mitchell, then a state senator.

At this point, Michaud has filed a 2014 gubernatorial exploratory committee, while both Cutler and the governor have made public their intention to run. The Democrats clearly want Cutler out of the race, but there is no suggestion that the Independent will withdraw. Based upon his strong 2010 finish and Maine’s penchant for looking favorably upon independent candidates – former Gov. Angus King was elected to the Senate in 2012 on the Independent line, for example – it will be difficult for the Democratic leadership to make it worthwhile for Cutler to exit.

Isolating Michaud and LePage in a secondary GQR ballot test question underscores just how detrimental the Cutler candidacy is to the Maine Democrats. If the Independent attorney were not in the race, GQR scores the race a whopping 61-34 percent in Michaud’s favor.

Right now, Rep. Michaud appears to be in a favorable position to unseat Gov. LePage, even in a three-way scenario, but things can change dramatically with so much time remaining in the campaign cycle. It remains to be seen if these are the kind of numbers that will convince Michaud to relinquish his safe House seat in order to pursue the statewide run.
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Minnesota Rumblings; Weiner Under Fire

In House, Mayor, Polling on July 26, 2013 at 10:26 am

Several developments are unfolding in budding Minnesota congressional races. A new Democratic poll in the state’s 2nd District shows House Education and Workforce Committee chairman John Kline dropping under 50 percent to the man he summarily defeated in 2012, while a serious Democratic challenger is potentially surfacing against Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN-3) in the adjoining district.

Victoria Research (July 17-21; 400 registered MN-2 voters), polling for the liberal House Majority PAC, tested former state Rep. Mike Obermueller against incumbent Kline and found the congressman to be leading 45-32 percent. But, the poll appears slanted.

Repeatedly the questionnaire stresses “compromise” in law making and clearly attempts to paint Kline as one not inclined to bend. For example, Obermueller was cast as a person who is “working together with others to achieve common goals.” The inference is that Kline is not. After characterizing Obermueller in this manner, another ballot test was then asked and, unsurprisingly, the Democrat forges into the lead 44-38 percent. Such a push question skews the poll’s overall results.

In any event, however, Kline did not receive a particularly favorable draw in redistricting and his Minneapolis suburban district is marginal in nature. President Obama carried the seat over Republican nominee Mitt Romney, but by only the smallest of spreads, just 0.1 percent of the vote. In the last congressional election, Rep. Kline defeated Obermueller 54-46 percent, a margin of some 29,000-plus votes.

Next door, former news anchorman Don Shelby (D) is confirming that he is considering launching a challenge to three-term incumbent Paulsen.

The 3rd CD, which encompasses the western Minneapolis suburbs of Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Plymouth, and Brooklyn Park, is also a marginal district but trends a bit more Republican though President Obama topped Romney by one point and almost four in 2008.

Paulsen, a former seven-term state Representative and legislative leader, originally won the district in 2008 with a 48-41 percent victory. He has since been re-elected with margins of 59-36 percent and 58-42 percent in 2010 and ’12, respectively. Neither of his re-election opponents, however, spent more than $530,000 against him.

It remains to be seen if either Democratic challenge develops in these Twin Cities’ suburban districts, but the voting patterns will yield competitive campaigns under the right circumstances. It is difficult to see, however, the climate becoming ripe for Democrats under a mid-term turnout model as we will experience in 2014.
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McConnell Comes Out Swinging

In Senate on July 25, 2013 at 10:55 pm

Two days ago, hedge fund manager Matt Bevin announced his Kentucky Republican primary challenge to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Yesterday, the senator hit the television airwaves in record post-announcement time, already launching an attack ad against his new opponent:

Obviously, McConnell is taking no chances and attempting to define Bevin in negative terms before the new candidate has the opportunity to even introduce himself to the Kentucky Republican electorate.

But, Bevin apparently saw the McConnell strategy coming because he, too, is on the air with his own attack ad against the Senate leader:

Since Bevin reportedly is independently wealthy, he should have the resources needed to mount a serious campaign, and the events this week already show that both sides mean business. Bevin clearly wants to establish himself early as a credible contender in hopes of attracting important financial support from such groups on the ideological right as the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund.

As the senator prepares for a presumed general election battle against the Democratic Secretary of State, Alison Lundergan Grimes, he wants to quickly extinguish his Republican challenger; but Bevin is sending early signals that he won’t go down quietly.

Bevin attacks McConnell from the right, questioning the quality of his leadership and claiming that the 30-year senatorial veteran  Continue reading >

Second Poll Confirms Cheney Status; Nunn Runs

In Senate on July 24, 2013 at 11:36 am
Liz Cheney

Liz Cheney

Earlier in the week we reported that Harper Polling surveyed the Wyoming Republican electorate and found newly announced challenger Liz Cheney to be badly trailing incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi (21-55 percent) in the Republican primary. Now, Public Policy Polling (July 19-21; 780 Republican Wyoming primary voters) confirms Cheney’s difficulty factory in denying Enzi renomination, brandishing a similar 26-54 percent spread.

PPP asked pointed questions about whether or not the state GOP electorate even considers Cheney a Wyomingite. According to their question, 36 percent of the Republican respondents do consider the former vice president and Wyoming congressman’s daughter a fellow Equality State resident, while almost half, 44 percent, do not.

Asked further whether they think it more appropriate for Cheney to run for the Senate from Virginia rather than Wyoming, by a margin of 45-33 percent, the individuals comprising this survey sample stated that she should run in the Old Dominion.

Approval ratings were also tested. Sen. Enzi scores a 66:24 percent job approval rating from his Republican base. Cheney earns a 40:34 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio. In comparison, Rep. Cynthia Lummis’ (R-WY-AL) job approval ratio is 55:25 percent. As a follow-up, should Enzi, for some unforeseen reason, decide not to make the race next year and the candidates become Cheney and Rep. Lummis, the congresswoman would have only a slight advantage. According to the PPP data, Lummis would lead Cheney 41-34 percent.

So far, the results of the two earliest polls rate Cheney as a long shot, at best, to upset Sen. Enzi. Based upon data we are seeing elsewhere and sizing up the 2016 presidential field, there is an argument to be made that the former vice president’s daughter might actually have a better shot at capturing the Republican presidential nomination than she would in winning this Wyoming Senate race against Enzi. Secondly, based upon her first ballot test opposite only Rep. Lummis, her chances appear much brighter in running against the congresswoman than they do against the state’s senior senator.
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NRCC Announces More Patriots

In House on July 23, 2013 at 12:00 pm

The National Republican Congressional Committee has released the names of their second round of Patriot Program members, those congressmen who the NRCC believes are its most vulnerable incumbents. Back in April, the Committee publicized the first group of 11 GOP members facing the most competitive political situations.

Yesterday, nine more Representatives became “Patriots.” The program is designed to recruit incumbents in safe political situations to help raise and/or contribute funds to the designated colleagues.

The nine new members are:
• Dan Benishek – MI-1
• Michael Grimm – NY-11
• Bill Johnson – OH-6
• Tom Latham – IA-3
• Gary Miller – CA-31
• Tom Reed – NY-23
• Scott Rigell – VA-2
• Keith Rothfus – PA-12
• Lee Terry – NE-2

Two are rather obvious choices who did not make the first cut when the original Patriots were tabbed three months ago. Rep. Benishek won a second term last November, but with just 48 percent of the vote, outlasting by one point the same opponent he topped in double digits just two years before. Rep. Miller holds the most Democratic seat, at least in terms of the 2012 presidential vote, of any Republican House member.

Rep. Grimm represents the Staten Island seat that generally votes Republican, but did elect a Democrat for a term in the original Obama presidential year of 2008. Announced Democratic candidate Domenic Recchia, a New York City councilman, has already raised more money than Grimm, hence the sophomore congressman being added as a Patriot Program participant.

Representatives Johnson, Rigell, and Terry all hold marginally swing districts. In the majority of political circumstances they, as Republican incumbents, should maintain their seats.

Rep. Reed scored only a 49-46 percent win last November in a district that is more Democratic than his original pre-redistricting 29th CD. Even with the change, the three-point victory was an under-performance.

Rep. Rothfus upset Democratic incumbent Mark Critz in 2012, taking advantage of a favorable Republican redistricting map. The fact that Critz is considering seeking a re-match lands Rothfus in the Patriot Program.

Rep. Latham won a huge victory (52-43 percent) over fellow Congressman Leonard Boswell (D) last November in an incumbent pairing situation, but the district is still very attainable for the Democrats who plan to make the seat a target. It’s unlikely they’ll succeed, but the NRCC action signals that their party will take no chances here.

Michelle Nunn to Announce for Senate

In Senate on July 23, 2013 at 11:52 am
Michelle Nunn

Michelle Nunn

According to well-placed Georgia political sources, Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn (D) and the individual viewed as the presumed Democratic nominee for retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ (R) open Senate seat, will officially announce her candidacy later today.

When Rep. John Barrow (D-GA-12) decided to seek re-election instead of entering the Senate fray, the nomination became Nunn’s for the taking.

Republicans are fielding five candidates, all of whom have a victory scenario. The Georgia Senate race promises to be both interesting and competitive.

Sen. Enzi Well Ahead in First Wyoming Poll

In Election Analysis on July 22, 2013 at 11:11 am

Last week, Liz Cheney, the daughter of Dick Cheney — former vice president, US defense secretary, and Wyoming congressman — boldly announced a Republican primary challenge to three-term Sen. Mike Enzi. This weekend, the first public poll of the match-up was released.

Harper Polling (July 17-18; 422 likely Wyoming Republican primary voters), for the Conservative Intelligence Briefing website, finds Sen. Enzi to be in strong shape on the initial ballot test. According to HP, the senator jumps out to a commanding 55-21 percent lead over Cheney.

The survey’s key finding is Enzi’s incredibly strong personal favorability rating among the Equality State Republican respondents. The results yield a 76:6 percent positive to negative ratio for the senator. Cheney’s numbers are relatively strong too, 45:15 percent favorable to unfavorable, but they pale in comparison to the incumbent’s. Interestingly, her father’s rating among his home constituency is almost as high as Sen. Enzi’s; the former vice president scores 74:16 percent.

Additionally, the senator’s job approval is just about as high as his personal rating. According to this survey, 73 percent of those polled have a positive view of his job performance in Washington, versus only 9 percent who hold a negative opinion. In terms of the standard “re-elect” question, 48 percent say that Sen. Enzi deserves re-election as opposed to 28 percent who believe that “we should give someone else a chance.”

The respondent pool is highly conservative. Forty-four percent of the participants describes themselves as “very conservative” and another 40 percent self-identifies as “somewhat conservative.” In contrast, only 1 percent of the group say they are liberal. By a margin of 44-35 percent, those questioned support the “goals and ideals” of the Tea Party.

Harper also asked the 2016 Republican presidential nomination question. They found that the Wyoming respondents answered similarly to early national samples, in that the many potential candidates are bunched closely together. In a bit of an aside, former vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan (R, WI-1) leads with 15 percent. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is second posting 12 percent, and three are tied at 10 percent: Gov. Chris Christie (NJ), former Gov. Jeb Bush (FL), and Sen. Marco Rubio (FL).

In conclusion, the poll illuminates Cheney’s high difficulty factor in her quest for the Senate. She has the ability to raise substantial resources, and it appears every penny will be needed if she is to make any headway against Enzi.

Two Skewed Polls: NH / Minn.

In Election Analysis on July 19, 2013 at 12:46 pm

NH-MN-cds

Harper Polling conducted two surveys for the National Republican Congressional Committee and found a pair of potential 2014 GOP challengers in excellent shape, but the polls appear to contain methodological flaws.

NH-1

According to Harper, former New Hampshire Congressman Frank Guinta (R), who is considering a comeback attempt in the state’s 1st CD, leads Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D) 48-41 percent in their poll of 408 registered voters released July 17. In 2010, Guinta defeated Shea-Porter 54-42 percent after she had served two consecutive terms in Washington. Two years later, the former congresswoman returned the favor, reclaiming the seat 50-46 percent before an expanded turnout of some 120,000 more voters than during the mid-term election. In the presidential years, the 1st District voted twice for President Obama: 53-46 percent in 2008, and 50-49 percent in 2012.

Though New Hampshire voters do not register by political party, it is clear from the voting history that the 1st District leans more towards Democrats than Republicans. Yet, there is no disputing that it qualifies as a true swing district. Hence, Harper’s sample consisting of 40 percent Republicans, only 31 percent Democrats, and 29 percent Independents is slanted in the GOP’s favor. This is not to say that Guinta may be performing well in comparison to the congresswoman, particularly considering the two candidates’ see-saw history when facing each other, but a seven-point lead at this juncture of the campaign seems out of whack.

Still, it is data like this that could encourage Guinta to get back into the race. He is also reportedly considering a US Senate challenge to incumbent Jeanne Shaheen (D), but such a move appears less likely as time progresses.
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