Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Special Elections Are Preeminent This Week

In House, Polling, Senate on October 14, 2013 at 10:58 am

Action is now occurring in three separate special elections: New Jersey, Louisiana and Alabama. In two of those states, voters will cast ballots this week.

New Jersey

On Wednesday, the New Jersey Senate special election will be decided as Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) and former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan (R) face each other in the final vote. The winner of Wednesday’s electoral contest serves the remaining portion of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s (D) term and will be eligible to seek a full six-year term next November.

The race has yielded rather extraordinary polling numbers in that several diverse survey research firms all agree over the race’s status. In the past week alone, four pollsters all projected Mayor Booker to have a low double-digit lead; two, Rasmussen Reports and Quinnipiac University, found exactly the same margin, 53-41 percent. Most other pollsters have been around this same range for the better part of two weeks.

The numbers still strongly suggest a Booker win, but a closer result than originally projected – an analysis that we have been reporting for the better part of a week. Such unanimity of exact polling results from multiple sources is quite unusual, however.

Come Thursday morning, it is more than probable that Mayor Booker will be a senator-elect and the chamber’s party division will return to 55D-45R.

LA-5

The special election not attracting much national attention is scheduled for this coming Saturday in northeastern Louisiana.

Rep. Rodney Alexander (R) resigned mid-term to accept a position as director of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration. Upon Alexander’s announcement, the governor quickly scheduled a new election so that the winner would be able to serve the entire second session of the 113th Congress, which begins in January.

Saturday’s election features all of the candidates appearing on the same ballot, commonly called a “jungle primary,” which is a Louisiana tradition. The two top finishers regardless of political party affiliation will advance to the November 16th run-off election.

Fourteen candidates – five Republicans, four Democrats, and five Independents – are vying to qualify for advancement into the run-off election. State Sen. Neil Riser is viewed as the favorite – and the person that both Rep. Alexander and Gov. Jindal reportedly support – but a surprise entry also came forward at the candidate filing deadline.

Former three-term Rep. Clyde Holloway (1987-1993), currently an elected member of the Louisiana Public Services Commission, jumped into the race at the last minute because he believes Jindal and Alexander were trying to pave an easy political road to Washington for Riser. In an interview covered by several state and national publications, Holloway said, “this thing stinks … I feel like we tried to have an appointed congressman by the governor and by Rodney … without any doubt, I think they’ve been orchestrating this for months.” State Rep. Jay Morris is the other potentially strong Republican candidate.

For the Democrats, state representatives Marcus Hunter and Robert Johnson are filed candidates as are former state Rep. Weldon Russell, and Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo.

The questions are whether Sen. Riser will advance to the run-off with one of the Democrats, or will former Rep. Holloway’s bid be enough to upset the apple cart? Or, will the political establishment take a major hit by seeing Riser not even qualify for advancement? Whatever the result Saturday, the Republicans stand to hold the seat in the December general election.

AL-1: New Run-off Polling

A new survey was just released in the battle to succeed resigned Rep. Jo Bonner (R). In the two-person Republican nomination race to be settled on Nov. 5, former Democrat-turned-Republican state senator and gubernatorial candidate Bradley Byrne leads businessman Dean Young 44-37 percent, according to Wenzel Strategies polling for the Now or Never conservative political action committee. Byrne placed first in the Sept. 24 primary election, capturing 35 percent of the vote, as compared to Young’s 23 percent.

Among the 412 respondents (over the Oct. 6-8 period), 42 percent self-identified as “conservative”, in addition to 43 percent who said they are “Tea Party conservatives.” Only 15 percent of the sample claimed to be political “moderates.”

Therefore, with an electorate as conservative as this, a response from better than one-third of the voters (36 percent) saying that Byrne is “too moderate” versus 17 percent who said he is “too conservative” could raise eyebrows, especially when those answering the same question about Young reverse the numbers. In the latter instance, only 17 percent said the local businessman was “too moderate” versus 36 percent who said he is “too conservative.” Forty-seven percent rate Byrne’s ideology as “just right.” Forty-eight percent say the same about Young.

These responses play somewhat better for Young than Byrne, but it remains to be seen if the former can close the gap before Nov. 5. In the 2010 governor’s race, Byrne placed first in the primary but could not finish in the run-off and lost to current Gov. Robert Bentley (R). The Republican run-off winner is virtually guaranteed victory in the Dec. 17 special general election.

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