Election Insights
Election Insights is a political analysis publication of the Business Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC). BIPAC is an independent, bipartisan organization, that is supported by several hundred of the nation’s leading businesses and trade associations.  The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent the views of our organization.

October 19, 2016
Clinton Leads and Coin Flip for Senate Majority
by Jim Ellis 


Polling for the week finds nine national polls being released.  All see the former Secretary of State forging a lead, but the spread is wide.  Rasmussen Reports (10/13-17; 1,500 US likely voters), which has been the most consistently favorable Trump pollster, sees a Clinton lead of only 42-41%.  On the other end of the spectrum, Monmouth University (10/14-16; 726 US likely voters) finds a twelve point Clinton lead, 50-38%.

The other polls range from Clinton +11 (NBC News/Wall Street Journal; 10/10-13; 905 US likely voters) and +9 (CBS News; 10/12-16; 1,189 US likely voters) all the way down to Clinton +4 (ABC News/Washington Post; 10/10-13; 740 US likely voters). 

With less than three full weeks to reach Election Day, Ms. Clinton has a clear national popular vote lead.  The state surveys suggest that Mr. Trump could still close the gap in the key states of Florida and Nevada.  He is in a virtual tie in North Carolina (CNN/ORC; 48-47-4%; 10/10-15; 788 NC likely voters), and has pulled back into the lead in Ohio (CNN/ORC; 48-44-4-2%; 10/10-15; 744 OH likely voters).

Assuming he does rebound to the point of winning all of the aforementioned swing regions, he still needs one more state, and no further entity even appears within range of flipping to him.


The Senate picture continues to hover around the 50-50 mark.  Polling and race trends suggest that Democrats will gain at least three of the four seats they need to reach majority status.  Democratic challengers and/or open seat candidates in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana appear headed toward victory, though the latter two are more competitive than in past days. 

According to one source, polling in another seat is tipping toward the Democrats after the Republican candidate held leads for most of the year.  In Nevada, the CNN/ORC poll (10/10-15; 698 NV likely voters) finds former Attorney General Christine Cortez Masto (D) pulling ahead of Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson), 52-45%, the largest lead either candidate has recorded in months.  On the other hand, CBS News/YouGov (10/12-14; 996 NV likely voters), using a tighter and larger polling sample, projects the two candidates tied at 39%.  Monmouth University (10/14-17; 413 NV likely voters), even when finding Clinton surging to a seven-point lead over Trump, simultaneously projects Republican Heck to a three point, 45-42% edge.

The Nevada, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire races remain the key toss-ups, and their outcome will likely determine the party that controls the majority in the next Congress.  The Missouri (Sen. Roy Blunt (R) vs. Jason Kander (D)) and North Carolina (Sen. Richard Burr vs. Deborah Ross (D)) races continue to languish between slightly favoring the Republican incumbent and falling into the toss-up category.  A notable swing toward one party or the other in the voter turnout model will likely determine the final outcome of each statewide campaign.


Democrats continue to make the case that they have a chance to overcome the Republicans' 59-seat House majority.  Their reasoning is that a sizable lead for Hillary Clinton will affect the turnout model, potentially demoralizing and suppressing the Republican vote.  While the strategy among Republicans will attempt to persuade tepid Clinton voters to balance their ballots for the House and Senate, Democrats are attacking with ads that criticize the Republican congressional nominee for not deserting and disavowing Trump.

The specific anti-Trump Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) ads are surfacing in at least two toss-up campaigns, TX-23 (Rep. Will Hurd (R) vs. former Rep. Pete Gallego (D)) and NV-4 (Rep. Cresent Hardy (R) vs. state Sen. Ruben Kihuen (D)).  The themed attack is also appearing in a metropolitan lean Republican seat, that of Minnesota Rep. Erik Paulsen who is fending off a challenge from state Sen. Terri Bonoff (D).  The latter race did release recent polling data from Survey USA (10/10-13; 579 MN-3 likely voters).  The results find Rep. Paulsen maintaining a strong 49-38% advantage despite Hillary Clinton leading in the 3rd District, 48-35%.  The polling sample is titled slightly Republican.

The DCCC also released one of their in-house polls, which tends to slant the survey samples toward their candidates.  The interactive voice response system (10/3; 535 MI-8 likely voters) shows central Michigan Rep. Mike Bishop (R-Rochester/Lansing) leading challenger Suzanne Shkreli, 47-41%.  Republicans have released later polls posting Bishop to larger leads. 

Another district Democrats may convert is Minnesota's open 2nd District, where seven-term incumbent John Kline (R) is retiring.  Here, the Survey USA data (10/10-13; 600 MN-2 likely voters) finds healthcare executive Angie Craig (D) forging a 46-41% advantage over conservative former radio talk show host Jason Lewis (R).  Democrats have been hitting Lewis hard over controversial comments he's made during his radio career and Republicans have not spent as much here as they might have, fearing that Lewis is too conservative for the district.

In a normally safe Republican Pennsylvania seat, GBA Strategies (10/15-17; 400 PA-16 likely voters; conducted for the DCCC) finds challenger Christina Hartman (D) trailing state Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R) by only a 42-45% margin in the Lancaster area's 16th District.  Though this district came within one point of supporting President Obama in 2012, it has been a reliably Republican seat since the end of World War II.  Retiring Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Kennett Square) has held the seat for 20 years.  His immediate predecessor, former Rep. Bob Walker (R-Lancaster) also represented the district for 20 consecutive years.


October 12, 2016
Election Polls: Developing Trends
by Jim Ellis


The fallout from Donald Trump’s leaked videotape from eleven years ago continues.  This latest Trump flap may be the final straw in the minds of many voters and likely puts him too far behind with too little campaign time remaining.

There were two polls where the sampling period came fully after the Trump videotape revelation.  The NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey (10/8-10; 806 US likely voters) sees Hillary Clinton leading Trump, Libertarian Gary Johnson, and Green Party nominee Jill Stein, 46-37-8-2%.  The Politico/Morning Consult survey (10/10; 1,757 US likely voters) detects a five-point Clinton margin, 42-37-10-3%. 

Ironically, the poll that gives Clinton her biggest lead, eleven points, came before the videotape was released.  The Atlantic Magazine/Public Religion Research Institute survey (10/5-9; 886 US likely voters) projects a 49-38% margin with 2% volunteering that they would support Gary Johnson.  Neither Johnson, nor Stein’s name was included in the Atlantic/Public Religion poll. 

Though Trump may have rebounded slightly from a strong debate performance, Clinton appears on track to secure a commanding lead both in the national popular vote and in the states.  Remembering that Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina are the most important swing states on the Trump map – he can’t win without carrying all three of these domains, but she needs none of them – today it appears that Clinton is establishing discernible leads in all three places.  


The week’s happenings also brought Senate control into the forefront.  Democrats are now better positioned than ever to re-capture the majority they lost in 2014, but pre and post-videotape polling in the key Senate states are all returning some surprising results.

Despite Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey (R) not leading in a major published poll since October 2nd, local PA Susquehanna Polling & Research (10/4-9; 764 PA likely voters) finds the Republican gaining a 42-38% advantage over Democratic nominee Katie McGinty.  A similar happening is being detected in North Carolina (High Point Research; 10/1-6; 479 NC likely voters) where Sen. Richard Burr (R) records a 47-42% edge over former state Rep. Deborah Ross (D), in a race that continues to seesaw.

But, the biggest shock poll comes from Wisconsin where Loras College (10/4-5; 500 WI likely voters) gives Sen. Ron Johnson (R) his first lead of the campaign, 45-40% over former Sen. Russ Feingold (D).  CBS News/YouGov, however, (10/5-7; 993 WI likely voters) responded with their data that restores Feingold to the lead, but this time revealing only a three-point margin over the incumbent Senator.   Without the Loras poll, the CBS/YouGov poll would actually represent Johnson’s best showing to date, so the Senator is finally showing upward mobility signs.

In other Republican races that were at least for a time appearing competitive, the Des Moines Register/Selzer & Company survey (10/3-6; 800 IA adults) finds veteran Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) now taking a commanding 53-36% lead over former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge (D).  In Florida, three different independent polls, all taken between the October 2-5 period, project Sen. Marco Rubio (R) to positive margins between two and eight points in his battle with Palm Beach area Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Jupiter).   


Action is occurring in several California races that suggest incumbents in trouble.  In Sacramento, County Sheriff Scott Jones (R) released an internal Public Opinion Strategies survey (10/1-3; 400 CA-7 likely voters) that posts him to a 47-42% lead over two-term Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove).  The incumbent is dealing with fallout from his father being convicted of campaign finance violations for funneling illegal money into the last two congressional campaigns.  The elder Bera was just sentenced to federal prison. 

In San Jose, the double-Democratic re-match between Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose) and former Commerce Department official Ro Khanna (D) continues to run close.  Survey USA (10/4-7; 550 CA-17 likely voters) gives the challenger a slight 38-37% lead as the two candidates turn for the home stretch.  In 2014, Rep. Honda defeated Khanna, 52-48%.

Turning to San Diego, after seeing two polls pushing challenger Doug Applegate (D) ahead of eight-term Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), the incumbent’s campaign released their own Public Opinion Strategies poll (10/4-6; 400 CA-49 likely voters).  These findings post Rep. Issa to a 48-39% lead over retired Marine Corps Colonel Applegate.

In the closely watched Tampa Bay area race between Florida Rep. David Jolly (R-Pinellas County) and former Gov. Charlie Crist (D), a new St. Pete Polls survey (10/10; 1,280 FL-13 likely voters via automated voice response system) finds the latter climbing back into a 48-43% lead.  The court-ordered redistricting plan changed the 13th into a Democratic seat by adding the city of St. Petersburg.

Across the country on Long Island, New York, two Siena College polls give both parties good news.  In the 1st District, that encompasses all of eastern Long Island through the Hamptons, freshman Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) has a healthy lead over local town supervisor Anna Throne-Holst (D).  According to Siena (9/28-10/4; 661 NY-1 likely voters), Rep. Zeldin holds a strong 53-38% advantage.

In the open 3rd District, moving closer to Queens and Brooklyn, Siena (9/28-10/5; 613 NY-3 likely voters) posts former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi (D) to a similarly large 50-34% margin over former state Sen. Jack Martins (R).


In key gubernatorial races, the latest trends are pointing to an upset in North Carolina.  While the new High Point University survey (10/1-6; 479 NC likely voters) provides good news for GOP Sen. Richard Burr (leading 45-40%), the data portends poorly for Gov. Pat McCrory (R).  In the latter race, Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) posts a 48-41% advantage.  The last five polls, all conducted in October, each project Cooper with a lead.

A new Strategies 360 survey for KOMO television (9/29-10/3; 500 WA likely voters) in Seattle finds Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) holding a 50-40% lead over Seattle Port Commissioner Bill Bryant (R).

In New Hampshire, the tight open contest between Executive Councilors Colin Van Ostern (D) and Chris Sununu (R) continues to run neck-and-neck.  The latest Boston Globe/Suffolk University study (10/3-5; 500 NH likely voters) sees Sununu with a 40-36% advantage.

October 5, 2016
Clinton Starting to Pull Away and Senate Campaign Spending
by Jim Ellis 


The Vice Presidential debate captured a large share of the week's media attention, and Republican Mike Pence appears to have scored a virtual unanimous victory over Democrat Tim Kaine.  Whether or not this will affect the presidential numbers remains to be seen.

Eight spot surveys were conducted during the period ending October 2-4, and Hillary Clinton's aggregate national popular vote polling lead averaged 5.4 percentage points with a range of Clinton +9 (Fairleigh Dickinson University; 9/28-10/2; 385 likely voters) in a small-sample poll, to Trump +1 (Rasmussen Reports; 10/2-4; 1500 likely voters).  The two continuous tracking polls, LA Times/ University of Southern California, and UPI/C-Voter, actually find Trump running ahead.  LA Times/USC posts him to a 3.6% lead, while UPI projects a 2.5% Trump advantage.

Though more of the information suggests Trump continues to lag behind Clinton, the later polls show him again ticking up.  Events and the last two debates could become defining as we enter the final 30 days.


The major Senate news comes not so much in terms of new polling data, but is rather about spending.  Media buys are being cancelled and re-positioned, which tells us where the party strategists believe the races are headed.

In a surprising move, both the Republicans and Democrats cancelled their media buys for the Wisconsin Senate race.  Democrats did so because they feel former Sen. Russ Feingold is secure enough in his battle against Sen. Ron Johnson (R) that they can better use the money elsewhere.  On the heels of the Democratic move, Republicans cancelled their entire media buy for the state, saying they will continue only with their coordinated campaign expenditures.  The move signifies that they, too, believe the race is decided and that Sen. Johnson will be defeated.

Democrats are also moving significant money out of Florida, thus verifying polling data that indicates Sen. Marco Rubio (R) is pulling away from Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Jupiter), and may be uncatchable.  The same pattern is occurring in Arizona, where it appears that Sen. John McCain (R) is sufficiently pulling away from Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff).  A couple of weeks ago, Democrats also pulled out of Ohio, where Sen. Rob Portman (R) appears to be cementing his re-election, thus saving millions for other races.

The states receiving the re-directed money appear to be North Carolina and Missouri.  The Tar Heel State is always close, and Sen. Richard Burr (R) is in a tough battle with former state Rep. Deborah Ross (D).  In the Show Me State, the man who appears to be the Democratic leaderships' favorite candidate, Secretary of State Jason Kander, continues to run close with Sen. Roy Blunt (R), but the incumbent continues to hold a consistent single-digit lead.

Both parties are pouring money into the three hottest races, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Nevada, and strategies appear unchanged.  It is possible that the party winning two of these three states could well become the majority in the next Congress.


New polling is suggesting that ticket splitting may become more prevalent in 2016 than in previous 21st Century elections.  In New York's 24th District, Syracuse freshman Rep. John Katko (R) has opened up a 19 point lead over former congressional aide Colleen Deacon (D), according to a new Time Warner Cable/Siena College Polling Institute survey (9/22-24; 655 NY-24 likely voters). Rep. Katko holds a 53-34% advantage despite Donald Trump trailing Hillary Clinton by a dozen points and Sen. Chuck Schumer holding a huge 62-29% district margin in his re-election effort.

A series of polls find Iowa Rep. Rod Blum (R-Dubuque) leading his opponent, Cedar Rapids City Councilwoman Monica Vernon (D), by substantial margins.  This, despite him representing the most Democratic of his state's four congressional districts.  Rep. Blum has consistently been considered one of the most endangered Republican incumbents, but the pre-election data consistently shows him winning re-election.

As the presidential race crystallizes in many places, expect congressional candidates in both parties to begin making the argument that people should not want to give Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump "all the power".  The argument that splitting power between the White House and Congress would be best for the country in that it will give an unpopular President - and, both would go into office with the highest negative ratings of any winner, ever - a check and balance over what will be controversial policy initiatives will be tested, and could gain legs.


Trends are looking favorable for Democrats in the Missouri and North Carolina Governor's races.  Even a new Republican Remington Research poll (9/26-27; 1,279 MO likely voters) finds Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster (D) pulling substantially ahead over former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens (R).  Their latest result gives Koster a strong 51-35% advantage and puts him in position to clinch the race.

In the Tar Heel State, Gov. Pat McCrory (R) continues to have trouble.  The last five consecutive polls, stretching from mid-September to now early October, all give Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) a varying lead.  The split runs from a range of Cooper +2 (the latest poll, from Quinnipiac University; 9/27-10/2; 507 NC likely voters) all the way to Cooper +9 (High Point University; 9/17-22; 404 NC likely voters).  Gov. McCrory will quickly have to reverse this trend if he is to win a second term.

September 28, 2016
Waiting for Debate Fallout and Louisiana Senate Race Heats Up
by Jim Ellis 


Now in presidential debate season, the undetermined factors that will eventually control the outcome are starting to unfold.  Donald Trump did not fare well in the first debate overall, particularly in the second half after arguably turning in a strong early debate performance.  Still, he didn’t make any crushing mistake. Continuing to gain on Hillary Clinton in polling, the race is apparently headed to a political photo finish in November.

The current Electoral College map suggests that Trump has a path to 266 electoral votes, meaning he’s alive to win in Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Iowa, Nevada, and Maine’s 2nd Congressional District (Maine is one of two states – Nebraska is the other – that can split its electoral votes).  This configuration, however, leaves him one state short.  Expect major battles in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and now Colorado.  Any one of these states going to Trump would elect him if the aforementioned state forecast proves correct.

Still, the overall map favors a Clinton win because she maintains a small, but consistent national lead both in the popular vote and Electoral College, meaning that less has to go right for her to win the national election.  For Trump, the entire aforementioned scenario would have to break his way for victory to occur.

The big polling news of the week came from the states, as surveys are now suggesting that Colorado is very much in play for Trump.  Six polls have been conducted there in September, and all show the Centennial State contest within the margin of error.  Trump actually leads in three of the six studies.


We’re seeing movement in one Senate race and conflict in a pair of others.  In Louisiana, two new polls find state Treasurer John Kennedy’s (R) jungle primary lead evaporating as he is not yet countering his opponents’ extensive campaign ads.

A new JMC Analytics poll that earlier gave Kennedy a major lead, has now entirely dissipated.  The new survey (9/22-25; 905 LA registered voters) found several candidates usurping Kennedy.  The closely bunched field means any two of the top five candidates are in position to advance to the December 10th run-off.  Louisiana holds its qualifying election concurrently with the general election. 

According to JMC, Rep. Charles Boustany (R-Lafayette) and Democratic Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell lead the field, but with only 15% support apiece.  Rep. John Fleming (R-Minden/Shreveport), who has been spending heavily on television ads lately, has catapulted from the second tier into third place with 14%, just one point from the top, followed closely by former Lt. Governor candidate Caroline Fayard’s (D) 12%.  Kennedy, in this poll, drops all the way to 11 percent. 

The SMOR Louisiana poll (9/15-17; 500 LA likely voters) finds a similar configuration.  They still see Kennedy leading with 15%, though tied with Boustany, Fayard at 11%, Campbell 9%, and Fleming 8%.  This contest is now officially a free-for-all to the November 8th election.

The latest data is also producing conflicting leaders in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.  In the PA race, five individual pollsters during the September 12-25 period all forecast Sen. Pat Toomey (R) and Democrat Katie McGinty within a margin of no more than four points.  Two polls apiece show McGinty and Toomey both leading slightly, while a fifth poll forecasts a tie.

In the Tar Heel State, six polls conducted during the September 12-23 period also see different leaders.  In three, challenger Deborah Ross (D) scores an advantage, while two still show Sen. Richard Burr (R) with the edge.  One of the polls forecasts a tie. 

Louisiana, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, along with New Hampshire and Nevada, feature dead heat races.  Combined, these campaigns will determine which party controls the Senate in the next Congress.


House polls are usually few and far between, but two released during the past week give us a glimpse into a pair of important campaigns.

Because Maine splits its electoral votes, Donald Trump continues to be in position to take at least one vote from the Pine Tree State.  According to the Normington Petts research firm polling for the Emily Cain (D) congressional campaign (9/21-22; 400 ME-2 likely voters), Trump maintains a 44-40% lead over Hillary Clinton in the largely rural 2nd District.  Even with this boost, Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-Oakland/Bangor) can manage only a 45-45% tie with former state Senator Cain.  Poliquin defeated her 45-40% in 2014.

In Iowa, freshman Rep. David Young (R-Van Meter/Des Moines), a top Democratic target, is leading comfortably according to a new Tarrance Group survey (9/20-22; 400 IA-3 voters; conducted for the Young campaign and the National Republican Congressional Committee).  According to this poll, Young maintains a commanding 52-37% advantage over Iraq War veteran Jim Mowrer (D), who was the Democratic nominee in the adjacent district two years ago.

September 21, 2016
Senate Races Tighten  
by Jim Ellis 


The candidates are in final debate preparation mode, as the long-awaited 2016 general election issue exchange forums begin on Monday, September 26th.  Ratings estimates project more than 100 million viewers, numbers only reached by various Super Bowl games, will tune into the first session hosted by NBC News' Lester Holt.

The week's national polling featured seven polls, including daily trackers Los Angeles Times/University of Southern California, Morning Consult, and Rasmussen Reports.  Also included in the latest time group are spot pollsters Fox News, NBC/Survey Monkey, St. Leo University (FL), Ipsos/Reuters, and YouGov/The Economist. 

As a way to gauge the polling, Hillary Clinton averages a one-point lead from the eight surveys.  Though it is methodologically incorrect to average disparate polls, particularly groups that include daily trackers with spot surveyors, the process does allow us to draw the reasonable conclusion that the national popular vote count is in toss-up range.

The eight-poll spread, all conducted from September 10-19, range from a high respondent sample of 13,230 (NBC/Survey Monkey; Clinton +5) to a low of 867 (Fox News; Clinton +1) likely voters.  The ballot test range stretches ten points from Clinton +6 (St. Leo University) to Trump +4 (LA Times/USC).  Again, Trump generally performs better with the daily trackers (LA Times: +4; Rasmussen Reports: +2; Morning Consult: -2) than he does among traditional spot pollsters: Fox: Clinton +1, St. Leo University: Clinton +6, NBC/Survey Monkey: Clinton +5, YouGov/The Economist: Clinton +2.  The lone spot surveyor to find Trump leading is Ipsos/Reuters, at +2.


As the election draws closer, more and more Senate surveys are being released to help us handicap the individual races and how, together, they will allow one party to become the majority.

New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) has re-assumed the lead over Gov. Maggie Hassan, 47-45% according to new data from New Jersey's Monmouth University (9/17-20; 400 NH likely voters).  This favorable Republican result contrasts with the presidential question, which was much more positive for Hillary Clinton.  In the national race, Monmouth finds the former Secretary of State leading beyond the margin of polling error, 47-38-10-3%, with the latter numbers breaking for Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

St. Leo University again surveyed their home state of Florida, one of the most critically important political states in the country.  Like in New Hampshire, this Florida poll (9/10-16; 1,103 FL adults; 1,005 FL likely voters) finds a Republican incumbent, Sen. Marco Rubio topping his Democratic opponent, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Jupiter), by a substantial 44-35% spread in this case, while the same polling sample yields a Hillary Clinton advantage of 49-44-6% over Trump and Libertarian Johnson. 

Two surveys came forth from Senate states that have not attracted a great deal of attention throughout the year.  The Louisiana Senate race, whose jungle primary runs concurrently with the general election, features a major tightening according to a new Southern Media & Opinion Research poll (9/15-17; 500 LA likely voters). 

Originally, state Treasurer John Kennedy (R) enjoyed a lock on first position.  Under the Louisiana system, the top two primary finishers will advance to a run-off on December 10th, assuming no one receives a majority vote.  This new survey still finds Mr. Kennedy tracking in the first run-off slot, but with only 17% of the sample preference, almost 20 points down from his original standing.  Rep. Charles Boustany (R-Lafayette) is second with 15%, followed by Caroline Fayard (11%), the former Democratic Lt. Governor candidate, and Public Service Commissioner and ex-Democratic statewide candidate Foster Campbell (9%).  Former Air Force officer and US Senate candidate Rob Maness (R) and ex-state Rep. and Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke (R) each share 3% support.

Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk (R) continues to trail his Democratic opponent, Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Northern Chicago Suburbs) in another race where polls are few and far between.  According to the new Loras University data (9/13-16; 600 IL likely voters), Ms. Duckworth continues to register an average five-point lead, this time 41-36%.


The major House news concerns finalizing a nominee in the open Arizona 5th District.  After the official canvass and re-count concluded early in the week, state Senate President Andy Biggs won the Republican primary with just a 27-vote margin from more than 85,000 cast ballots.  Former Go.Daddy.com executive Christine Jones, who led on Election Night by 576 votes before absentee and provisional ballots were counted, conceded after the re-count process pushed Biggs' small margin from nine to 27 votes.  She chose not to further challenge the results, and ended the campaign.  Sen. Biggs now becomes the prohibitive favorite to capture the safe Republican seat in November.

A new Dan Jones & Associates Utah poll is brining good news for freshman Rep. Mia Love (R-Saratoga Springs).  After defeating attorney Doug Owens (D) 51-45% in 2014, Love is now polling in much stronger position.  According to the Jones' poll (9/12-19; 409 UT-4 likely voters), Rep. Love enjoys a major 53-35% advantage over Mr. Owens.


One Governor's note to share: the New Hampshire Governor's race between Executive Councilor Chris Sununu (R), son of former Governor and White House chief of staff John Sununu, and fellow Executive Council member Colin Van Ostern (D) was also included in the aforementioned Monmouth University poll.  The early general election numbers for this race break 49-43% in Mr. Sununu's favor. 

September 14, 2016
Clinton Leads and New Senate Polling
by Jim Ellis  


Hillary Clinton's health situation dominated the latest presidential campaign coverage, but polling taken before her weekend problems became public still shows a tightening of the national campaign. 

Eight polls were conducted from the September 1-11 period, and while six surveys still find Ms. Clinton leading, her margins continue to hover only in the 1.5% range with a spread of Clinton +5 (ABC News/Washington Post) to Trump +3 (Los Angeles Times/USC).  Clinton's high watermark in any poll touched 45% (ABC News/Washington Post) and her low was 40% (Ipsos/Reuters; YouGov/The Economist).  Trump also reached 45% (CNN), while his low was 38% (Ipsos/Reuters; YouGov/The Economist).  


Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) was re-nominated with 79% of the vote in the New Hampshire Republican primary this week.  She defeated a former state Representative and three also-ran GOP candidates.  Gov. Maggie Hassan was unopposed on the Democratic side.  The New Hampshire campaign is a toss-up, and likely one of three Senate races - Pennsylvania and Nevada are the other two - that will decide which party controls the majority in the next Congress.

Republicans received good news from a series of NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist College polls.  Often seen as a poll that skews Democratic, the latest series points to better-than-expected Republican totals in four states: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and New Hampshire.

According to the media/college entity, Sen. John McCain (R) has opened up a 57-38% lead over Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff).  This is a surprising number in light of McCain only obtaining 52% of the Republican primary vote on August 30th.  The Kirkpatrick media blitz, attempting to tie him to Donald Trump, apparently hasn't struck a chord with the Arizona electorate.

In Georgia, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) comes roaring back after a relatively close poll surfaced last month.  Isakson leads the current NBC/WSJ/Marist survey, 53-38%. 

Turning to Nevada, the NBC/WSJ/Marist data finds Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) leading former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D), 47-45%, which is consistent with many other polls of this contest.  Public Policy Polling, however, releasing their survey results at the same time, projects Masto holding a one-point 42-41% edge.

The group's most surprising poll is in New Hampshire.  After trailing in polls through much of August, Sen. Ayotte has now ballooned to an eight-point advantage, 52-44%, according to this most recent research study.  Since this poll is inconsistent with a plethora of other surveys released in July, August, and early September, it is possible that this particular survey may be an outlier.


The last major primary date occurred during the week, and one incumbent almost paid the ultimate political price.  Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH-1; Manchester/Sea Coast) appears to have barely won re-nomination over businessman Rich Ashooh, edging him by 661 votes with four precincts still outstanding. 

He now faces former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D) for the fourth time in six years.  Ms. Shea-Porter lost her re-election effort twice in four attempts.  She was originally elected in 2006, defeated in 2010 (by Guinta), re-captured the seat in 2012 (beating Guinta), lost again in 2014 (again to Guinta), and now returns for what will likely be another close election.

Delaware Rep. John Carney (D-Wilmington) running for Governor leaves the state's lone congressional seat open.  Former state Labor Secretary Lisa Blunt Rochester easily topped a state Senator and an ex-gubernatorial aide to capture the Democratic nomination, which is likely her ticket to Washington in November.  Delaware has become a reliably Democratic state.  


The New Hampshire congressional race was not the only close primary contest.  The Republicans' open gubernatorial primary proved equally as tight.  Here, Executive Councilor Chris Sununu (R), son of former Governor and White House chief of staff John Sununu, leads self-funding state Rep. Frank Edelblut by only 1,000+ votes with 20 precincts still unaccounted.  The eventual winner, probably Mr. Sununu, will face fellow Executive Council member Colin Van Ostern who easily won his Democratic primary.  A tight general election is expected.  Incumbent Governor Maggie Hassan (D) is running for Senate.

In Delaware, the stage is set for Rep. John Carney (D) to succeed term-limited state chief executive Jack Markell (D).  Mr. Carney was unopposed in the Democratic primary.  Republican state Senator Colin Bonini easily won his party's nomination, but Rep. Carney is now a heavy favorite to become Governor in the general election.

September 7, 2016
Battleground States Tilt to Clinton, but Trump Closes Gap Nationally  
by Jim Ellis


There appears to be a decided shift toward Donald Trump in the polls conducted during the period beginning August 30th.  Ten polls, from ten different pollsters, were conducted and the split between the two major party candidates averages only 1.2%.  The range stretches from Hillary Clinton +4 to Donald Trump +2.

Of the ten, six find Clinton leading (Fox News, George Washington University/ Battleground, Morning Consult, NBC/Survey Monkey, Franklin Pierce University/ Boston Herald, and The Economist/YouGov), two show Trump up (Rasmussen Reports, CNN/ORC), and a pair projects the two falling into a flat tie (Investors Business Daily/TIPP, and Los Angeles Times/University of Southern California).

The Washington Post joined with the Survey Monkey organization to produce our first full 50-state poll.  While looking at the four-candidate splits - those including Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein - most of the individual state findings are consistent with other published polls and vote history, but several are not.

Colorado, Georgia, Mississippi, Nevada, Texas, and Wisconsin appear to have produced results that should be considered anomalies. 

Colorado showing a 37-37% tie between Clinton and Trump deviates from all other data that project the former Secretary of State to be clearly ahead.  Wisconsin being considered a toss-up also flies in the face of all other surveys that consistently have produced Clinton leads.

Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas are southern states where Republicans typically perform better than they poll.  It is likely that the same pattern will hold true this year and Trump will win comfortable victories in each place.

Nevada has been routinely polling either as a toss-up or leaning toward Trump.  The Washington Post/Survey Monkey data, however, forecasts it as leaning toward Ms. Clinton. 

Overall, these state-by-state results could reasonably give Clinton as many as 261 votes as compared to Trump's 186, with the remaining ten states being considered toss-ups.  Therefore, the best reasonable Trump finish still looks to break 273-265 in Clinton's favor.


Several new polls are out, which portray a national Senate picture that continues toward absolute parity between the parties.  It appears that three Republican states are likely to switch allegiance: Illinois (Sen. Mark Kirk), Indiana (Open - Sen. Dan Coats), and Wisconsin (Sen. Ron Johnson). 

This means the pure toss-up states of New Hampshire (Sen. Kelly Ayotte-R vs. Gov. Maggie Hassan-D), Pennsylvania (Sen. Pat Toomey-R vs. Katie McGinty-D), and the open Nevada seat of retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (Rep. Joe Heck-R vs. former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto-D) will probably determine majority status.  The party winning two of these three contests will likely hold nominal control.  It now appears the Senate will split either 51-49 or 50-50, with each party having a chance to reach the 51 number.

Several polls each see the New Hampshire and Pennsylvania races falling within the margin of error and leads being exchanged.  More North Carolina results again find two-term Sen. Richard Burr (R) and former state Rep. Deborah Ross (D) landing in the toss-up category.  Other multiple polls within the individual state post Sens. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) to leads beyond the polling margin of error.


Major House news occurred as absentee and provisional vote counting concluded in Arizona.  Surprisingly, the final counting in the open 5th District potentially produced a different winner than we saw on election night.

On August 30th, former GoDaddy.com executive Christine Jones appeared to have won the Republican primary.  She led state Senate President Andy Biggs by 876 votes with all Election Day and early votes counted.  The revised final count found her lead dropping to 578, which still looked like enough to sustain the nomination victory when considering the number of outstanding ballots that remained.

As the Labor Day holiday weekend concluded, however, Biggs actually surpassed Jones by the slimmest of margins: just nine votes.  The unofficial final tally shows both candidates garnering 29% of the vote, or a raw total of 25,228 to 25,219.  Candidates Don Shapely, a former Maricopa County Supervisor, and state Representative Justin Olson took 21 and 20%, respectively.

The official precinct canvass is now underway, which could again change this outcome since the two are separated by such a thin margin.  Arizona election law requires the post-election canvass to be completed no later than September 12th.  Once the official vote totals are tabulated, a re-count will begin.  It is safe to say that resolving this virtually tied contest will likely take several weeks before re-counting and legal challenges culminate in a final decision.  The eventual Republican primary winner will claim the seat in November, since this district is safe for the GOP. 

August 31, 2016
Clinton Leads while Rubio and McCain Win Primaries 
by Jim Ellis


The presidential polling is delivering more of the same.  Nine national polls were released since August 23rd, and Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump in eight of them.  Her average margin continues to tighten, and now is under four points, at 3.7 if each poll is rated equally, with a swing of Clinton +7 all the way to Trump +3.

The one poll consistently finding Trump ahead comes from the LA Times/ University of Southern California.  As previously mentioned this survey is different in that it continually polls, asking 400 different people questions from a sampling pool of the same 3,000 registered voters.  Therefore, the entire respondent universe will participate in the tracking poll approximately once per week and allows the pollsters to track the ebbs and flows of the same group over a long period of time. 


The late summer's most significant primary occurred this week, with major results coming from Arizona and Florida.

Sen. John McCain (R), seeking a sixth term, was re-nominated but scored only 52% among his own Republican Party voters.  Though he put 13 points between him and his top challenger, former state Sen. Kelli Ward, a full 48% of voting Republicans chose another candidate.  Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff) was unopposed on the Democratic side.  McCain landing only in the low 50s for this primary suggests that the general election could become highly competitive. 

Turning to Florida, Sen. Marco Rubio (R), coming back to the Senate race from his failed presidential run, recorded 72% in winning re-nomination.  Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Jupiter) claimed his party's nomination with 59% against fellow Rep. Alan Grayson's (D-Orlando) 19%.  Though Rep. Murphy will be a strong opponent to Sen. Rubio, the incumbent appears to be gaining steady momentum and has to be considered the favorite as the general election begins.


The big primary news this week is twelve-term Rep. Corrine Brown's (D-Jacksonville) defeat in the new 5th District that now stretches from Jacksonville to Tallahassee.  Previously, the district moved south from Jacksonville through Gainesville, Sanford, and Orlando.  Former state legislator and two-time congressional candidate Al Lawson scored a 48-39% victory over Brown, badly beating her in the new portion of the district, including Tallahassee.  Rep. Brown easily topped the vote in Jacksonville and her previous territory. 

Mr. Lawson will now move to the general election where he will win a landslide November victory in the safely Democratic district.  Ms. Brown becomes the fifth House incumbent to lose re-nomination, the third due to mid-decade redistricting.  

In South Florida, the primary attracting the most national political attention featured Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Weston) and law professor Tim Canova.  Both spent over $3 million on the race that also involved a public division between the party's two presidential candidates.  Ms. Wasserman Schultz, who unceremoniously lost her position as Democratic National Committee chair largely over accusations of bias toward Hillary Clinton, scored a 57-43% victory over Canova who Bernie Sanders actively supported.  The Congresswoman is now safe for the general election.  Despite the media attention, Democratic primary turnout was low with just over 50,000 people participating.

Rep. Dan Webster (R-Orlando), who found himself a major victim of the mid-decade redistricting plan as his Republican-leaning 10th District was turned safely Democratic, found a new home in the adjacent open 11th District.  Rep. Webster recorded 60% of the primary vote and is now heavily favored in the general election.  Former Orlando Police chief Val Demings won the Democratic primary in the new 10th CD, and will come to Washington with an expected easy general election victory.

In Rep. Murphy's vacated 18th District, disabled Afghan War veteran Brian Mast won a crowded Republican primary and will now face businessman Randy Perkins (D) in the competitive general election.  Despite Mr. Murphy twice winning the district, the seat tilts Republican.  Mr. Mast's compelling story could provide the boost the Republicans need to put this seat back into their column.

Former Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Miami) scored a close 51-49% Democratic primary victory over party establishment favorite Annette Taddeo.  He will now face freshman Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Miami) in a re-match of the 2014 race that saw Garcia unseated.  Redistricting made this seat more Democratic, so the general election promises to be hard fought with a tight conclusion.

Other Florida open seat primary winners who are heavy general election favorites are state Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL-1; replacing retiring Rep. Jeff Miller-R), Dr. Neal Dunn (R-FL-2; replacing retiring Rep. Gwen Graham-D), former Duval County Sheriff John Rutherford (R-FL-4; succeeding retiring Rep. Ander Crenshaw-R), state Sen. Darren Soto (D-FL-9; replacing Rep. Alan Grayson-D who unsuccessfully ran for Senate), and former US Ambassador Francis Rooney (R-FL-19; who will replace retiring Rep. Curt Clawson-R).

Florida incumbents winning re-nomination against primary opponents were: Reps. Ron DeSantis (R-Daytona), John Mica (R-Winter Park), David Jolly (R-Pinellas County), Frederica Wilson (D-Miami Gardens), and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Miami). 

The two open Arizona seats appear to have produced general election nominees.  In Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick's expansive 1st District, controversial Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu won the Republican primary with 32% of the vote.  He will face former state Senator Tom O'Halleran, an ex-Republican, in what is one of the few truly political marginal districts remaining in the country.  The general election will be rated as a toss-up.  Ms. Kirkpatrick advances to the statewide Senate general election against John McCain.

Retiring Rep. Matt Salmon's (R-Mesa) 5th District appears headed to former GoDaddy.com executive Christine Jones, as she leads the Republican primary with an 876-vote spread.  Her margin should be enough to withstand any uncounted absentee or provisional votes that may remain.  Ms. Jones likely defeated state Senate President Andy Biggs, former Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley, and state Rep. Justin Olsen in a race that divided 30-29-22-20% among the four contenders.  The 5th is safely Republican, and Ms. Jones is likely the region's new Congresswoman.

August 24, 2016
Polls Still Favor Clinton and August Primaries Loom
by Jim Ellis 


The presidential polling seems to be normalizing.  Donald Trump is now getting back into a closer range with Hillary Clinton.  Though she still leads in almost every poll, the margin is closer to an average of about four percentage points.  At the depths of Trump's post-convention period, Clinton's lead was closer to nine points.

The one poll finding Trump ahead comes from the LA Times/University of Southern California.  Their latest track shows the Republican nominee building a national lead of 45-43%.  The LA Times/USC poll is different in that it continually polls, asking 400 different people questions from a sampling pool of 3,000 registered voters.  Therefore, the entire respondent universe will participate in the tracking poll approximately once per week.  This type of polling is referred to as a "panel-back" survey because the pollster tracks the same individuals throughout the electoral process, finding how a consistent group responds to the twists and turns of the political campaign.

A major conflict is coming from all-important Florida.  Arguably the presidential campaign's most important swing state - the Republicans, for example, simply can't win the national election without carrying Florida - diverse polling data is being currently reported.

St. Leo University, a 16,000+ student Catholic education institution located 35 miles northeast of Tampa, created their own Polling Institute in 2013.  This week, they released a Florida electorate poll (8/14-18; 1,500 FL adults; 1,380 FL likely voters) that finds Hillary Clinton expanding her support to a 52% of the respondent sample as compared to only 38% for Trump.  Since the same polling sample gives Sen. Marco Rubio (R) his largest general election lead (46-38%) of any recorded survey, this poll should be taken seriously.

On the heels of the St. Leo poll, another Sunshine State educational entity, Florida Atlantic University, released their data just a day later.  This survey (8/19-22; 1,200 FL likely voters) finds a diametrically opposite conclusion, yet the two are methodologically similar, though St. Leo relies totally upon online responses. 

According to Florida Atlantic, Trump actually rebounds in the state to the point of outpacing Ms. Clinton, 43-41%.  Rather stunningly, FAU does find a similar result as St. Leo in the Senate race.  While the latter posted Sen. Rubio to a 46-38% advantage, Florida Atlantic arrived at a similar 44-39% split in the Republican incumbent's favor.

Much more research will have to be conducted in this critical state, considering the current results are so far flung.  Comparatively, these two polls give us the least consistent data of any research in the country.


In addition to the St. Leo and Florida Atlantic data reported above about the Rubio-Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Jupiter) presumed Florida Senate race, Monmouth University released two Senate polls of their own.  The Democratic primary contest between Mr. Murphy and Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Orlando) will be decided next week, on August 30th. 

In Missouri, the University's survey (8/19-22; 401 MO likely voters) finds Sen. Roy Blunt (R) leading Secretary of State Jason Kander (D), 48-43%, a five-point spread.  The result falls exactly in the middle of the Blunt advantage range.  Four polls from a quartet of different research firms have conducted Missouri polls since July 10th, and the Senator leads in all from between three and seven points.

Monmouth also tested the Ohio electorate and their data confirms what we have been seeing developing in this Senate race for the past couple of weeks.  That is, Sen. Rob Portman (R) pulling away from his Democratic challenger, former Gov. Ted Strickland.  Here, Monmouth went into the field during the 8/18-21 period, and surveyed 402 likely Ohio voters.  They find the Senator's advantage over Strickland to be 48-40%.

These results are in line with the other Ohio August public polls.  Four have been released since the beginning of the month and Portman now enjoys leads of five, nine, seven, and eight percentage points according to NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist College, Quinnipiac University, CBS News/YouGov, and Monmouth, respectively.

Previously, the Ohio Senate race was polling as dead even for months.


No primaries occurred this week, but the late summer's major nomination date of August 30th is fast approaching.  The day features the Florida primary, which will determine nominees in seven open seats from the state's 27 congressional districts. 

The two incumbents facing major challenges are Democrat Corrine Brown (D-Jacksonville), who has a severely re-drawn congressional seat that now expands to Tallahassee from Jacksonville instead of Orlando along with facing a federal indictment, and Republican Dan Webster (R-Orlando) who is running from an adjacent district to the one he previously represented.  The court-ordered redistricting radically changed Webster's 10th District, but he took advantage of an open 11th CD of which he currently represents 20% of the population.

Democrats will choose a nominee in South Florida for what will be a hotly contested race against freshman Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Miami).  Former Rep. Joe Garcia (D), who Curbelo unseated in 2014, and businesswoman Annette Taddeo, who enjoys strong Washington establishment support, are vying for the nomination.

Arizonans also vote on 8/30.  Two key open districts will choose nominees: the sprawling 1st District, where Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff) is leaving the House to challenge Sen. John McCain (R), and Maricopa County's 5th District where Rep. Matt Salmon (R) is retiring.

August 17, 2016
Clinton Leads and Cheney Wins in WY
by Jim Ellis 


Donald Trump, after engineering another campaign shake-up and demoting campaign manager Paul Manafort, is turning to give policy speeches.  He addressed audiences in Miami, Florida; Youngstown, Ohio; and West Bend, Wisconsin this week, giving nationally covered economic, social, and foreign policy addresses.  Obviously, the locations are all in top priority swing states.

Three pollsters released head-to-head ballot test surveys in the early week.  UPI/C-Voter, NBC/Survey Monkey, and Morning Consult all reported data.  Each shows Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump, by an average of 7.3 percentage points.  But, when looking at the polls that add minor party candidates Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee, and Jill Stein (Green Party), or "others" to their respondent questionnaire, the margin between the two major party candidates tightens.    

NBC/Survey Monkey and Morning Consult did ask a second question that included Johnson and an "other" response.  Rasmussen Reports was also active in this week's time frame, and exclusively posed the multi-candidate question.

Combined, the three pollsters yield an average 5.0% spread between the major party candidates when the minor contenders are identified to the respondents.  The pattern of Trump pulling somewhat closer to Clinton when the Johnson and/or Stein are included has been recurring for several weeks.

The more relevant polls are those that include the Libertarian and Green Party nominees because they will have a strong presence on ballots throughout the country.  Mr. Johnson is on all 50 state ballots plus the District of Columbia.  Dr. Stein has qualified in 27 states and has the chance to win placement in 16 others.  Since the overwhelming majority of voters will have the opportunity to vote for Johnson and Stein, it is legitimate to put more emphasis on the polls that contain both of their names.


Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) was easily re-nominated for a third full term earlier in the week.  She defeated three minor Republican opponents with 72% of the vote.  Facing Democrat Ray Metcalfe, a former state legislator, she will find little trouble securing another victory in the general election.

This race is quite different than her last re-election bid.  Then, she was upset in the Republican primary by a Tea Party activist but returned in the general election as a write-in Independent.  Considering the difficult logistics to win any write-in campaign, but particularly one as spread out and in such difficult terrain as Alaska, her 2010 victory was one of the most impressive of the past decade.  Sen. Murkowski's 2016 re-election bid will be considerably easier and certainly less dramatic than what she experienced six years ago.

A new Data Orbital survey (8/6-8; 500 AZ Republican likely primary voters) finds Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) pulling away from challenger Kelli Ward, a former GOP state Senator.  The Data Orbital ballot test gives the veteran Senator a 50-29% advantage heading into the August 30th primary.  Assuming he wins re-nomination, which appears highly likely, Sen. McCain will face Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff) in what promises to become a competitive general election.


The at-large Wyoming primary was held early this week and Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President, US Defense Secretary, and five-term Wyoming Congressman Dick Cheney (R), won the Republican congressional primary.  She took 40% of the vote compared to her next closest competitor, state Sen. Leland Christensen's 22% in the nine-candidate pool. 

Ms. Cheney advances to the general election where she will face the new Democratic nominee, energy contractor Ryan Greene.  Last night's victory was tantamount to winning the open seat in the fall, however.  Ms. Cheney will replace retiring four-term Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Cheyenne), who chose not to seek re-election.

The Alaska primary was also held, and Rep. Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon) topped 71% of the vote on his way to winning re-nomination for a 24th term.  He will face competition in the general election in the person of former Alaska Public Media CEO Steve Lindbeck (D), who has so far raised over $500,000 for the campaign.  Rep. Young remains a solid favorite for re-election, however, projected to finish in the high 50s percentage range.

As expected, both Indiana Reps. Todd Rokita (R-IN-4) and Susan Brooks (R-IN-5) were reinstated as the Republican nominees in their respective congressional districts.  Both withdrew from their federal campaigns in order to seek the open Governorship, once incumbent Mike Pence (R) accepted Donald Trump's offer to join the national ticket as his Vice Presidential nominee.  When the Republican State Committee chose Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb to succeed Pence as the statewide party nominee, it became clear that Rokita and Brooks would return to their congressional campaigns.  The local congressional Republican committees officially took such action this week.  Both are rated as prohibitive favorites for re-election. 

August 10, 2016
Speaker Wins Primary and Clinton Leading in the Polls
by Jim Ellis 


The latest two national polls give Hillary Clinton varying leads over Donald Trump.  NBC News/Survey Monkey (8/1-7; 11,480 US registered voters) finds the former Secretary of State and First Lady's margin to be ten points, while the UPI/C-Voter (8/1-7; 960 US likely voters) survey sees a smaller five point spread. 

Evan McMullin, a former CIA operative and ex-chief policy director for the House Republican Conference, announced that he will attempt to qualify for the presidential ballot as an Independent.  Since the ballot access deadline has already passed in more than half the states, McMullin's name placement challenge is formidable.  It is unlikely that Mr. McMullin will greatly impact the national campaign.

Numbers being released in key battleground states find Clinton opening up a significant lead in Pennsylvania, while the two are virtually tied in Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina, according to Susquehanna Polling & Research (PA), Quinnipiac University (FL, OH), and Public Policy Polling (NC).

The Clinton campaign is sending signals that it plans to compete in Georgia and Arizona due to current favorable polling data.  The states have been consistently strong for the GOP nominees in the 21st Century, and will likely be there for Trump in November.  Clinton need not expand the political map to win.  All she needs for victory is to carry 80% of the states that President Obama won twice.


Some of the poor Trump polling numbers are impacting certain Republican Senatorial candidates, but not uniformly so.

Several new polls find Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey (R) either leading or trailing by one or two points.  Thus, he and challenger Katie McGinty (D) are virtually tied. 

A new Remington Research poll for the Missouri Scout political blog found Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) topping Secretary of State Jason Kander (D) by a 47-40% clip.

The news wasn't so good for first-term Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk (R).  His opponent, Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8), is brandishing an early August survey that posts her to 44-37% advantage.

In Georgia, where last week brought Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) a poll that projected him as being vulnerable to Democrat Jim Barksdale, the incumbent political ship now appears righted.  JMC Analytics finds the Senator holding a 39-30% lead, but with many voters remaining undecided.

Finally, yet another Nevada poll finds the two open seat Senate candidates again in close proximity.  As has been the case for months, Republican Congressman Joe Heck (R-Henderson) maintains a small edge over former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D).  In the latest CBS News/YouGov survey (8/2-5; 993 NV likely general election voters), Heck clings to a 38-35% advantage.


Speaker Paul Ryan scored a landslide 84-16% Republican primary win over Wisconsin businessman Paul Nehlen, despite the latter spending almost $1 million on his campaign.  Nehlen appeared to be scoring some political points against the new House Speaker and nine-term congressional incumbent, but fell way short of even denting Mr. Ryan's strong Republican political base.

Elsewhere in the Badger State, foreign policy analyst and former congressional aide Mike Gallagher easily secured the Republican nomination in the open Green Bay/Appleton district.  Mr. Gallagher will now face Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson in what could become a competitive general election campaign.

Republican voters in Minnesota's 2nd District affirmed the results of the state party convention by nominating radio talk show host Jason Lewis to succeed retiring Rep. John Kline (R-Burnsville).  Mr. Lewis now faces a formidable political foe in the person of healthcare executive Angie Craig.  Though a first-time candidate, Ms. Craig has already amassed $2.5 million for her effort, almost $1 million of which is self-contributed.

The long post-election mail ballot counting period has finally concluded in the state of Washington, and state Rep. Barry Walkinshaw (D) has successfully clinched the second general election ballot position for the open 7th District race.  Under Washington election law, all candidates are on the same primary ballot and the top two advance to the general election irrespective of political party preference.  Mr. Walkinshaw edged King County Councilman Joe McDermott (D) who had been leading him from the August 2nd vote until the final days of mail-ballot counting changed the final outcome.  The first place finisher, by a 20-point margin, is state Sen. Pramila Jayapal (D).  Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Seattle) is retiring after serving 14 terms in the House.


The open Vermont Governor's race is attracting attention.  This week, Democrats nominated former state Transportation Secretary Sue Minter to challenge Lt. Gov. Phil Scott (R).  Though Vermont is heavily Democratic, most political observers believe this contest will yield a relatively tight election result.

The aforementioned Remington Research poll finds a virtual dead heat developing between newly nominated Chris Koster (D) and Eric Greitens (R).  The data finds Koster, the state's Attorney General, with a scant two-point lead over retired Navy SEAL Greitens, 45-43%.

In West Virginia, Democratic nominee Jim Justice, a billionaire billed as the state's richest man, enjoys a 47-37% margin over state Senate President Bill Cole (R) according to a new statewide poll.  The Global Strategy Group (8/1-3; 419 WV likely voters) conducted the survey for the Justice campaign.

Both Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) and West Virginia's Earl Ray Tomblin (D) are ineligible to seek third terms in their respective states.

August 3, 2016
Presidential Poll Bounces and Primary Roundup
by Jim Ellis 


The post-Democratic convention survey research is now in the public domain, and Hillary Clinton has re-assumed the presidential polling lead, as expected.  Her convention bounce projects to an average six percentage point lead over Donald Trump.  Six polls comprise the data from which the percentage was derived: Ipsos Reuters (7/25-29; 1,050 likely voters), Public Policy Polling (7/29-30; 1,276 likely voters), Morning Consult (7/29-30; 1,931 registered voters), NBC/Survey Monkey (7/25-31; 12,742 registered voters), CBS News (7/29-31; 1,131 registered voters), and CNN (7/29-31; 894 registered voters). 

The fact that Ms. Clinton's numbers are growing the further away from the convention we move is a good sign for her campaign.  For example, the poll that provides the former Secretary of State with her largest lead, CNN (52-43%, or nine percentage points), is the latest poll taken.

Numerous Republican office holders going public to condemn Trump's recent comments is having an effect upon the new Republican nominee's polling standing, helping drive his downturn, and Clinton is poised to take full advantage.


Senate primaries were held in Kansas, Missouri and Washington.  As expected, Sunflower State Sen. Jerry Moran posted a 77% victory in his Republican primary.  Incumbent Roy Blunt (R) and Secretary of State Jason Kander easily advanced to the general election from the Missouri primaries, each posting over 70% support. 

In Washington, the jungle primary format led to Sen. Patty Murray (D) and former Washington Republican Party chairman and ex-King County Councilman Chris Vance (R) moving to the general election.  Sen. Murray is a prohibitive favorite to win a fifth term in November.


Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Fowler/West Kansas), who had been at the center of controversy since coming to Congress in 2010 and being at odds with his own party leadership virtually since his first day in office, went down to a crushing Republican primary defeat this week at the hands of Dr. Roger Marshall (R), a Great Bend, KS obstetrician.  The final margin was 56-44%.

The campaign centered around Huelskamp being removed from the Agriculture Committee during his first term.  From an agriculture dominated district that contains the sprawling territory covering more than half of the state's land area, being stripped of his voice on the committee of most importance to his constituency led to the Congressman's downfall.  The fact that Dr. Marshall was his lone opponent also played poorly for Rep. Huelskamp, since the entire anti-incumbent vote had only one avenue to voice their opposition. 

Rep. Huelskamp becomes the third incumbent to lose re-nomination.  Earlier, Virginia Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Chesapeake) lost his re-nomination campaign after a mid-decade redistricting court order forced him to choose to run in a completely new district.  Philadelphia Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), facing multiple federal corruption charges, also fell in his bid to be nominated for another term.

In the two open Michigan districts, the Upper Peninsula's 1st District featured a tough three-way Republican primary where retired Marine Corps General Jack Bergman upset state Sen. Tom Casperson and former state Sen. Jason Allen by a five point margin.  Gen. Bergman will now face Michigan Democratic Party chairman Lon Johnson who easily defeated 2014 congressional nominee Jerry Cannon.  This will be a highly competitive general election.

Turning to the Macomb County district, businessman Paul Mitchell (R) taking advantage of his multi-million dollar spending spree won a close contest over state Sen. Phil Pavlov (R).  In 2014, Mitchell also expended copious amounts of his own money only to lose in the open 4th District.  Now moving across the state for this open race, he appears to have met with success two years later.  Mr. Mitchell now becomes the prohibitive favorite to replace Rep. Candice Miller (R), who is running for local office.

In Detroit, the Dean of the House, Rep. John Conyers (D), won re-nomination for a 27th term in office.  He was originally elected in 1964.  This week, he defeated Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey (D) 60-40%, to win yet again.  The 13th District is one of the safest Democratic seats in the country, so Mr. Conyers is assured of clinching another election in November.

All Washington House incumbents advanced with first place jungle primary finishes.  In the open 7th District, two Democrats, although it is still not clear who will finally finish in the second qualifying position, will meet in the general election to determine who replaces retiring Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Seattle).  Freshman Rep. Dan Newhouse (R) will apparently again face former NFL football player and conservative activist Clint Didier (R) in a double-Republican general election.  The 2014 contest ended in a 51-49% Newhouse victory.

Incumbents of both parties other than Huelskamp, in Michigan, Missouri, Washington, and Kansas were all either re-nominated in their respective primaries or advanced to the general election in jungle primary format.


The hotly contested open four-way Missouri Republican primary ended with Afghan/ Iraq War veteran Eric Greitens winning the gubernatorial nomination over businessman John Brunner, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, and former US Attorney and state House Speaker Catherine Hanaway.  Mr. Greitens will now face Attorney General Chris Koster (D) who easily won the Democratic primary.  The Republican race was expected to be closer.  Greitens held a ten point margin over his next closest competitor.  Gov. Jay Nixon (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

In Washington, as expected, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and Seattle Port Commissioner Bill Bryant (R) advanced to the general election.  Because of the state's mail-only voting system, the final percentage results won't be known for several days.  Despite Washington's staunchly Democratic voting history, this gubernatorial race could become seriously competitive.

July 27, 2016
Trump Leads in Post-Convention Polls and Indiana GOP finds Pence's Replacement
by Jim Ellis 


The Democratic National Convention officially nominated Hillary Clinton as its presidential candidate, the first woman to win a major party nomination in American history.

The week began with Donald Trump getting a clear bounce from his Republican convention last week. Trump took the lead in four national polls, and the culmination of eight surveys from eight pollsters (YouGov/Economist, CBS News, CNN, Morning Consult, University of Delaware, NBC/Survey Monkey, Raba Research, and Gravis Marketing) conducted between July 18-24 finds the two candidates in a virtual dead heat. The contenders' average advantage, with each individual leading in four studies, gives Ms. Clinton a cumulative margin of well under one percentage point.

Looking at the five polls that used more than 1,000 respondents, Trump would lead by an average of slightly under one point.


Two new surveys were just released in the critical Senate states of New Hampshire and Nevada.

The Inside Source firm, in conjunction with the New Hampshire Journal, finds Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R), after trailing in polls released last week, jumping back to what might be her largest lead of the cycle: 49-41% over Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan.

In Nevada, Rasmussen Reports finds Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) topping former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D), 46-37%. Rep. Heck has held a consistent polling lead for the bulk of the open seat campaign. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D) is retiring. The Republicans' converting this state is a major part of their national strategy to retain the majority.

Several Senate primaries will be held in August. Voters in Missouri, Washington, Connecticut, Kansas, Wisconsin, Alaska, Hawaii, Arizona, and Florida are on the coming schedule.


The Georgia run-off election was held this week, and West Point Mayor Drew Ferguson, a local dentist, won the Republican secondary election and becomes the prohibitive favorite to take the open seat in November.

Ferguson defeated state Sen. Mike Crane (R), 54-46%.The two were separated by only 93 votes in the May 24th primary, with Crane leading. Six-term Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Grantville) is retiring.

As a result of the Indiana gubernatorial vacancy created with Gov. Mike Pence (R) being selected as Donald Trump's running mate, Reps. Susan Brooks (R-Carmel) and Todd Rokita (R-Clermont) withdrew from their congressional races in order to be considered as a successor to Gov. Mike Pence at the gubernatorial level.

Neither House member was successful, so the respective congressional district committees could, and are expected to, reinstate them both as US House nominees. Both Reps. Brooks and Rokita immediately declared for the House once they failed in the Governor's race.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) took to the airwaves to begin advertising in his August 9th primary campaign. Businessman Paul Nehlen (R) is scoring major points against Ryan in his primary challenge, hitting him hard on immigration, trade and jobs. The fact that Speaker Ryan is responding and spending money in what should be an easy nomination contest suggests this will be a closer race than originally expected. Mr. Ryan is still a heavy favorite to win, but it's far less likely that he will rack up a big percentage.


The 22 members of the Indiana Republican Party's State Committee met earlier in the week and voted to replace Gov. Mike Pence on the November ballot. Under Indiana election law, a person may not enter more than one race, so Pence's presence as the GOP Vice Presidential candidate prohibits him from simultaneously seeking re-election as Governor.

The State Committee, comprised of the state Republican Party officers and the chair and vice chair of all nine congressional district committees selected appointed Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb as their gubernatorial nominee. Holcomb, a former staff aide to Sen. Dan Coats (R), entered the open Senate race in 2015 but fared poorly. When Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann (R) resigned to accept another position, Holcomb asked for consideration as Lt. Governor, and won Gov. Pence's appointment. It is from this base that he will now challenge former state House Speaker John Gregg (D) in the 2016 Governor's race.

A Republican Tarrance poll found Gregg leading Holcomb 42-34% at the beginning of this new race, giving the Democrats a much stronger chance of converting this contest for their party.








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