Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Look for at Least One Surprise Tomorrow on Election Day

In Governor, House, Mayor, Polling on November 4, 2013 at 10:43 am

It appears all of the “big” race outcomes, except one, are foregone conclusions in tomorrow’s significant 2013 election.

New Jersey

In New Jersey, incumbent Republican Gov. Chris Christie has maintained leads approaching or exceeding 25 points for virtually the entire election cycle, and he will easily cruise to a second term when the ballots are actually tabulated. No one is predicting an upset for Democratic nominee Barbara Buono, a state senator. The only intrigue is whether Christie will extend political coattails to Republican legislative candidates in order to increase the party strength in the state legislature. Democrats are expected to maintain control of both the state Senate and Assembly.

Virginia

Turning to Virginia, former Democratic National Committee chairman, Terry McAuliffe, is likewise poised for victory tomorrow night. Every poll has staked him to a lead of at least four to as many as 12 points over Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Christopher Newport University released the latest of the public surveys (Oct. 25-30; 1,185 registered Virginia voters; 1,038 characterized as likely voters) and the academic pollster projects McAuliffe to hold a seven-point lead over Cuccinelli, 45-38 percent, with Libertarian Robert Sarvis capturing 10 percent.

The CNU researchers asked further questions about why Sarvis respondents are supporting the independent gubernatorial candidate. They also queried those in the sampling universe about the Virginia down ballot races.

In responding to whether the Sarvis voters are supporting their candidate as a form of protest against both McAuliffe and Cuccinelli, 68 percent said yes. Thirty-seven percent said if Sarvis were not a candidate they would be supporting Cuccinelli; 17 percent made the same statement regarding McAuliffe. These findings are more dramatic than published elsewhere. When other pollsters have asked this question, they have reported results suggesting a more even distribution of Sarvis voters vis-a-vis major party candidate preference.

For lieutenant governor, the Christopher Newport study shows Democratic nominee Ralph Northam opening up a major double-digit advantage, 51-35 percent, over Republican E.W. Jackson among the likely voters. Here, Sarvis voters are breaking 45-29 percent in favor of the Democratic nominee. The attorney general’s race is likely to be the one to watch tomorrow night. According to these results, Republican Mark Obenshain holds a slim 45-43 percent edge over Democrat Mark Herring among the likely voter respondents. In this race, the Sarvis voters overwhelmingly support Republican Obenshain, breaking 66-22 percent for him.

The other Virginia question mark surrounds McAuliffe’s ability to bring Democrats with him into the House of Delegates. With the Republicans holding a 2:1 advantage in the 100-member chamber, Democrats have virtually no chance of overtaking the Republican majority but could make significant gains.

The 40 Old Dominion state senators, who are awarded four-year terms, are not on the ballot until 2015. Since both Obenshain and Herring, the candidates for attorney general, are state senators, at least one special election will be held prior to the opening of the legislative session. Should Northam, also a senator, win the lieutenant governor’s position as predicted, then another vote will occur in his Norfolk-Virginia Beach seat. With the Senate tied 20-20, the special elections will matter greatly.

AL-1

Though the special congressional race in Alabama won’t technically be decided tomorrow, for all intents and purposes it will be. The Republican run-off between former state senator and gubernatorial nominee Bradley Byrne and businessman Dean Young will decide who succeeds resigned Rep. Jo Bonner (R). The congressman left his office in August to accept a position with the University of Alabama.

Polling has shown each candidate with a lead. Byrne has complete establishment support, money, and endorsements. Young has a grassroots army that gives him a chance of pulling an upset. Byrne should win, but stranger things have happened in a low turnout election than Young and his supporters upending the favorite.

Local Races

In localities, four major cities are expected to elect new mayors, and only one of the quartet of campaigns seems to be in doubt. Polls in Boston are teetering between City Councilor John Connolly and state Rep. Marty Walsh, both Democrats. In New York, the city’s public advocate, Bill de Blasio, is poised to win a landslide victory and become the first Democrat in 20 years to reside in Gracie Mansion. Businessman Mike Duggan appears headed for victory in Detroit, replacing retiring Mayor Dave Bing. Washington state Sen. Ed Murray looks to unseat Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn.

Clearly the most unusual elections of the night will occur in Colorado where voters in 11 counties will decide if they want to separate from the state and form a new entity called North Colorado. The local ballot referendums are obviously non-binding.

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