Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Results From MA-5; Major New Senate Polls

In House, Polling, Senate on October 16, 2013 at 11:37 am

MA-5 Special Election

The race for the Democrat nomination last night, tantamount to special election victory in the Boston suburban 5th Congressional District, was projected to finish within a razor-thin margin. It didn’t.

State Sen. Katherine Clark, riding a large turnout from her Malden-Melrose political base, pulled away from Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian when the last quarter of the vote was counted to clinch the Democratic nomination with 32 percent of the vote. Koutoujian finished 10 points behind at 22 percent. In third, exceeding his polling expectations, was state Rep. Carl Sciortino notching 16 percent. State senators Will Brownsberger and Karen Spilka brought up the rear with 15 and 13 percent, respectively. Spilka was the most disappointing performer based upon previous polling releases. Her own two Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research Group surveys both showed her in second place, just a single point behind the leader.

Not only did Sen. Clark prove to be the strongest candidate, her polling firm, GBA Strategies, turned in the most accurate data. In their released poll of voters over the Sept. 23-25 period, GBA correctly projected Clark’s lead to be far greater than one point, as she led Spilka 27-18 percent with Koutoujian a close third posting 16 percent.

On the Republican side, attorney Frank Addivinola easily claimed his party’s nomination, securing 49 percent of the vote as compared to physicist Mike Stopa’s 26 percent, and former US Marine Tom Tierney’s 25 percent. Sen. Clark and Addivinola now advance to the Dec. 10 special general election, but that vote will not likely be much of a contest as Clark is now the prohibitive favorite to win the seat.

Democrat turnout dwarfed that of Republicans, as 69,525 members of their party cast ballots within the crowded field of candidates. The GOP turnout only reached just 9,692 voters, a testament more to the low number of registered Republicans as opposed to an abnormally low participation rate. The grand total of 79,217 voters is about average for a special election primary turnout, when it’s obvious that one party’s vote will determine the eventual winner.

The 5th District is vacant because 37-year congressional veteran Ed Markey (D) was elected to the Senate back in June.

AK; AR; LA; WV Senate Polls

Harper Polling, conducting surveys for Karl Rove’s Crossroads Political Action Committee, tested four key Senate races at the end of September and report tight results in all but one. All of the polls were conducted before the government shutdown occurred.

In Alaska, where Sen. Mark Begich (D) is running for a second term, Harper projects the incumbent to be leading Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell (R) by only one point, 43-42 percent (Sept. 24-25; 731 registered Alaska voters). Begich’s job approval registered an upside down 39:42 percent. Newly announced candidate Dan Sullivan, the state’s former Natural Resources commissioner, trails Begich 41-43 percent.

Turning to Arkansas, in the race featuring second-term incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor (D) and freshman Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR-4), Harper forecasts the senator to be holding a 45-42 percent edge (Sept. 24-26; 622 registered Arkansas voters). Pryor scored a 45:40 percent positive to negative rating on his job approval score.

The Harper Polling survey for Louisiana (Sept. 22-23; 561 registered Louisiana voters) gives three-term Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) only a 46-44 percent advantage over Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6). The senator registers a rather anemic 45:43 percent job approval rating.

Harper’s West Virginia data (Sept. 24-25; 640 registered West Virginia voters) gives us the only wide spread between two candidates of their four simultaneous senatorial surveys. According to the findings in the open seat contest, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2) enjoys a strong 51-34 percent margin over Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D). Job approval was not tested, but HP did ask about personal favorability for the two candidates. Capito notched a 50:26 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio, while Tennant registered 39:27 percent.

All four of these polls put Republicans in slightly better position than others previously commissioned. Close races are expected in each situation. Realistically, the Republicans are going to have to run this four-race table if they expect to have a legitimate chance of assuming the Senate majority in the next Congress.

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