Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

First General Polls from Georgia; A Look at Nebraska, New York House Races

In Election Analysis on July 28, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Georgia Senate

The first two Georgia Senate general election polls have been released, and it’s not particularly surprising that we already have a conflict. The Peach State campaign has already witnessed more than its fair share of controversy and surprise happenings. Now two pollsters, Rasmussen Reports and Landmark Communications, surveyed the electorate immediately after the July 22nd Republican run-off election and found very different results.

Rasmussen Reports (July 23-24; 750 registered Georgia voters) began polling the day after businessman David Perdue scored an upset win over Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA-1) in the Republican run-off. The firm finds the new GOP nominee leading Democrat Michelle Nunn 46-40 percent, at least one point beyond the polling margin of error.

But, Landmark Communications, in data released on July 25 (also 750 registered Georgia voters), finds Nunn claiming a four-point advantage, 47-43 percent. This means a net 10-point difference exists between the Rasmussen and Landmark surveys despite having identical sample sizes and conducted during the same time period. Thus, it remains to be seen how the race patterns begin to unfold once general election campaigning begins in earnest, and the two candidates begin to define themselves and one another.

Nunn will quickly move right and concentrate on turning out the state’s large (31.4 percent) and intensely Democratic African-American population. Since Perdue has never held office, Nunn and her outside allies will have a more difficult time defining him because he won’t have cast the votes that Democrats typically say cut Medicare and endanger Social Security. Therefore, expect them to hit him on trade and the overseas jobs issues.

Perdue, already positioned on the center-right from the bruising primary campaign, can now concentrate on moving Nunn to the left. His successful primary strategy of positioning himself as the non-politician running against career office holders won’t work now, since Nunn, likewise, hasn’t previously held office. Expect he and his outside allies to tie her to an unpopular President Obama and the Democratic leadership.

NE-2

Rep. Lee Terry (R) received a shot in the arm over the weekend as Independent Chip Maxwell, a former member of the non-partisan unicameral legislature, decided not to pursue his general election candidacy. Maxwell would have been a thorn in Terry’s side from the right, a circumstance that the vulnerable congressman certainly needed to avoid. Winning his Republican primary with only 53 percent in May, Rep. Terry must ensure that a united Republican and conservative base vote comes back his way in the general election.

But, Maxwell wasn’t done with his announcement. While not pursuing an Independent bid in the 2014 general election, he says he will challenge Terry in the 2016 Republican primary.

The 2nd District, which comprises the entire Omaha metropolitan area, has performed as a swing seat in recent elections. Democratic nominee Brad Ashford, a former Republican who served in the state legislature, is one of the top challenger candidates for his party in the nation.

NY-21

It appears the Republicans are finally getting their act together in New York’s North Country. After splitting the vote and electing a Democrat in every vote since a 2009 special election, the GOP appeared poised to repeat their fate in 2014. But, now such may be averted.

In late June, former George W. Bush Administration aide Elise Stefanik easily defeated 2010 and ’12 GOP nominee Matt Doheny in the Republican primary. The party’s problem is that Doheny had already secured an endorsement promise from the Independence Party meaning that he could wage a three-way race from that ballot position. Over the weekend, however, Mr. Doheny said he would not pursue a further bid.

This is extremely good news for the local Republicans. Uniting the party behind the 29-year old former political aide, Stefanik now becomes at least a slight favorite to defeat Democratic filmmaker and Brooklyn organic grocery store owner Aaron Woolf.

But, one problem remains. Though Doheny is ceasing campaign activities, his name, at least for now, will go on the ballot as the Independence Party nominee. Watch for behind-the-scenes maneuvering from both major party leaders to obtain that line for their own candidate.

Doing so will be of much greater importance for Stefanik. If she can add the Independence line to her Republican and Conservative party ballot designations, then this seat can finally return to the GOP column in November. Rep. John McHugh (R-NY-23), represented this region from 1993 until the end of 2009, resigning to accept President Obama’s nomination as Secretary of the Army.

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