Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

A Quick Check-in on the Nebraska, West Vriginia and Oklahoma Primaries

In House, Polling, Primary, Senate on May 12, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Voters in two more states visit their polling places tomorrow, as Republican and Democratic primaries are taking place in Nebraska and West Virginia. A total of 29 states are voting in May and June.

Nebraska

The Republican primary is key in the Cornhusker State, as the GOP nominees for governor and senator will be heavy favorites to win in November.

In the governor’s race, six Republican candidates vie for the nomination but the campaign is evolving into a contest among three. Attorney General Jon Bruning, who lost the 2012 US Senate Republican primary to now-Sen. Deb Fischer, appears to be the favorite going into Election Day. He was just recently endorsed by popular outgoing Gov. Dave Heineman (R), who is ineligible to seek a third term. Former US Senate nominee Pete Ricketts, part of the Ricketts family who founded the Ameritrade national investment house and own the Chicago Cubs baseball club, and State Auditor Mike Foley are also viable candidates. With no run-off election system, the candidate attracting the most votes tomorrow is nominated. Chuck Hassebrook, a former University of Nebraska regent, is uncontested for the Democratic nomination.

The Republican Senate primary is another hotly contested affair. Three candidates are running hard as we approach voting day, with clear movement occurring. The early leader, former state Treasurer Shane Osborn, has been consistently coming back to the pack, while both Midland University president Ben Sasse, strongly backed by the Tea Party coalition and key outside conservative organizations, and banker Sid Dinsdale are moving upward.

Only now have certain polls detected Osborn slipping out of the top spot, which could mean his campaign peaked too early. The former statewide elected official has been absorbing blows from outside attack ad messages, which have clearly blunted his nomination charge. Sasse has been steadily gaining and is the chief beneficiary of outside involvement, but it’s possible he has already topped out. Dinsdale, attempting to take advantage of the Osborn and Sasse forces delivering charge and counter-charge against each other, is coming from the outside as a third alternative. But now Dinsdale, himself, is the subject of outside attacks. The numbers showing him coming into range to potentially win are thus confirmed, hence the move to halt the Dinsdale momentum. This result will be interesting.

The winner will likely face Democrat Dave Domina, who appears to have the inside track for his party’s nomination. Domina will begin the general election as a clear underdog to whomever becomes the Republican nominee.

West Virginia

The open US Senate primary – Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D) retiring – is a non-event for both parties as Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2) and Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D) are locks for their respective nominations. Such being the case, the general election begins in earnest Wednesday morning.

In the House, the big race is to replace Capito in the open Charleston-anchored 2nd District. The Republican side attracted seven candidates, but the race has likely narrowed to two, former George W. Bush Administration appointee Charlotte Lane and ex-Maryland state senator and Maryland Republican Party chairman Alex Mooney. The move to West Virginia by a Maryland politician is an unusual one, but his gambit could pay dividends tomorrow night. For the Democrats, former West Virginia Democratic Party chairman Nick Casey is a big favorite over state Delegate Meshea Poore. The seat could become competitive in the general election.

Oklahoma Senate

Former House Speaker T.W. Shannon (R) has been attracting a lot of attention lately, but a new Foundation for Economic Prosperity poll could be detecting a momentum change. American Viewpoint (April 27-28; 500 Oklahoma Republican primary voters) finds Rep. James Lankford (R-OK-5) rebounding to hold a slight lead over Shannon, 36-34 percent.

The most recent publicly released surveys, prior to the American Viewpoint study, both showed Shannon leading. The April 21-22 Public Opinion Strategies survey (500 likely Oklahoma Republican primary voters) found the former House Speaker and Tea Party favorite with a 42-32 percent advantage over the Oklahoma City congressman. Later, NSON Opinion Strategy (April 23-29; 400 likely Oklahoma Republican primary voters) found a much tighter contest, with Shannon ahead of Lankford just 32-31 percent.

The Oklahoma Republican primary is June 24. If no candidate obtains an outright majority, the top two finishers advance to an Aug. 26 run-off election. Five other candidates are also in the race. The only other candidate to record votes in the AV poll is former state Sen. Randy Brogdon, who registered six percent support.

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