Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

House Takes Shape

In House, Polling on October 15, 2014 at 11:09 am

Several polls were released yesterday that bring some clarity to key races, most of which are considered sleepers or opportunity races for one side or the other.

Republicans talk about their chances to convert the western district of Maine (ME-2), the open seat vacated by Rep. Mike Michaud’s (D) run for governor. Democrats believe they have found a strong candidate to challenge Rep. Steve King (R) in Iowa, and the open NJ-3 seat is also high on the Democrats’ opportunity list.

The polling data seems to favor the incumbents’ party in each of these instances, however.

ME-2

A new Pan Atlantic SMS poll (Sept. 23-29; 200 likely ME-2 voters) gives Democratic state Sen. Emily Cain a 36-33 percent lead over former state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin (R). Subtracting leaners, Cain’s lead falls to 31-29 percent. Independent Blaine Richardson tallies six percent.

The poll is part of a statewide survey of 400 Maine voters, so the 2nd District questions are asked of a polling segment. With a low sample size and a long interview period, the error factor is quite high, therefore, all we can legitimately deduce from the data is that the race is very close.

The 2nd District, which covers the western and northern sections of Maine has been represented by Michaud for 12 years. Prior to that, Democrat John Baldacci held the seat for three terms, vacating to run successfully for governor. Before Baldacci, Republican Olympia Snowe held the district for eight terms before her election to the Senate in 1994.

This is one of the more unusual campaigns for this CD because most local candidates have historically attempted to run to the middle. In this instance, however, Cain is running well left of center, while Poliquin is decidedly to the right.

Cain should be favored here, and maybe does have a slight lead, but Poliquin clearly has a legitimate chance to win in the fall.

IA-4

Iraq War veteran Jim Mowrer (D) became a good candidate via his strong fundraising ability, an effort that will surely exceed $2 million at the conclusion of the campaign. An earlier poll (DFM Research for the SMART Transportation union) taken at the end of September posted the challenger to within three points (43-46 percent) of incumbent Rep. Steve King (R), which raised hopes within national Democratic circles.

Now, however, a new poll taken for the King campaign (The Polling Company; Oct. 1-2; 407 likely IA-4 voters) finds the congressman leading Mowrer 51-38 percent. The Polling Company analysis points to the firm’s work last election season to underscore accuracy, noting that their final survey of the 2012 election cycle posted King to 54 percent a week before the vote, coming close to the actual 52.9 percent that he received.

Though the 13-point King lead may be a bit of an over-statement, it is likely more accurate than the three-point poll the union produced. After being severely tested by former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack (D) in 2012, Rep. King should be at the height of his political strength. He defeated Vilsack by eight points in a race that became the most expensive combined federal political campaign in the United States.

NJ-3

Democratic nominee Aimee Belgard, a Burlington County Freeholder, was also brandishing a poll in September that came to the conclusion she and former local Randolph mayor, Tom MacArthur (R), were deadlocked at 42 percent (Stockton Polling Institute; Sept. 13-14; 606 likely NJ-3 voters). New independent data now finds the race to be in a much different situation.

According to a Monmouth University survey (Oct. 9-13; 423 likely NJ-3 voters), MacArthur now leads Belgard 51-41 percent, a sure indication that he is beginning to put away this race.

In fact, the Monmouth data is even better than a survey recently released by MacArthur’s own campaign. According to their internal National Research poll (Oct. 1-2; 400 NJ-3 likely voters), MacArthur was found leading 44-37 percent, not nearly as strong as the more current and independent Monmouth study.

The 3rd District is open because Rep. Jon Runyan (R) is retiring after two terms in office.

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