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.


November 30, 2016
Cabinet Appointee Dominoes and 2018 Election Moves  
by Jim Ellis 

President

Most of the week's presidential electoral news was devoted to Green Party nominee Jill Stein's re-count request action in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.  None of the states are close enough for an automatic re-count, and the action is merely designed to fire one last possible political shot at President-Elect Donald Trump.  Re-counts can change hundreds of votes in a statewide election, but certainly not thousands or tens of thousands as is the case in each of the three states.

Under federal law, the states must certify their vote counts by December 13th, necessary to having the Electoral College meet on December 19th to cast their official presidential votes.  At that time, Donald Trump's election will become final.

Michigan, now being called for Trump, gives him 306 electoral votes as compared to Hillary Clinton's 232.  For the re-count effort to succeed, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan would all have to be invalidated.

Ms. Clinton does have a popular vote lead over the President-Elect.  Nationally, her advantage is currently 2,109,796 votes.  Her margin largely comes from California, where she leads by more than 4 million votes with still almost 800,000 ballots to count under the state's marathon processing procedure.  In the 19 states where both candidates actively campaigned, Trump carried the battleground entities by more than 3 million votes.

Once California is fully counted, and all the late votes are tabulated, the national presidential turnout could reach 135 million, which is an all-time record.  The previous high was set in 2008 (Barack Obama vs. John McCain), when 131,426,292 people voted.

Senate

With the Louisiana Senate election approaching on December 10th, a Trafalgar Group survey (11/14-17; 2,200 LA likely run-off voters) that we reported upon last week is the only data released into the public domain to date.  The fact that slight attention is being paid to this race and little in the way of outside spending coming from the national party committees and independent organizations favors Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy.  The fact that the Democratic committees are not making a major effort for their candidate, Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, likely confirms the Trafalgar data that posted Kennedy to a 58-35% advantage. 

Two Democratic Senators have already announced that they will seek re-election in 2018.  Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), commonly viewed as one of the most vulnerable 2018 in-cycle members, announced that she will run for a third term.  Likewise, for Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D), who confirms that he, too, will ask the voters of his state to return him for a third six-year stint.

Conversely, New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall (D), who has openly been considering a run for Governor, says he will announce a decision about running by the end of this year.  Sen. Udall is not in-cycle in 2018.  Therefore, he can seek the state's open Governor's office and not risk his Senate seat.  Should he enter the race and win, Mr. Udall would be able to appoint his own successor.

House

The final House race prior to the two Louisiana districts being decided on December 10th has been decided.  In southern California, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) has won re-election.  The Congressman has just over a 2,300 vote lead with only a few more ballots to count.  Therefore, his 50.4 percentage will hold to give him a close re-election victory.  Mr. Issa was originally elected to this San Diego/Orange County congressional district in 2000.  Immediately after the election being called, Democratic nominee Doug Applegate, a retired Marine Colonel, announced that he will run again in 2018.

President-Elect Trump nominating Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-KS-4) and Tom Price (R-GA-6) for CIA Director and Secretary of Health of Human Services, respectively, mean that special congressional elections will be called in Wichita and the northern Atlanta suburban area.  The Governors of the two states will schedule the elections after the seats officially become vacant in accordance with Kansas or Georgia election law.

The Price selection means there will be a battle to replace him as chairman of the House Budget Committee.  The three contenders, in a Republican Steering Committee decision that will be made at the end of this week, are Reps. Tom McClintock (R-CA-4), Todd Rokita (R-IN-4), and Diane Black (R-TN-6). 

The important Energy & Commerce Committee chairmanship will also be decided this week.  Reps. John Shimkus (R-IL-15) and Greg Walden (R-OR-2) are the principal contenders.

Governor 

President-Elect Trump's choice of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) as US Ambassador to the United Nations will mean the state will have a new chief executive.  Upon confirmation, Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster (R) will ascend to the Governor's office and serve the final two years of the current term.  He would be eligible to run for a full term in his own right in 2018, and will obviously be the front runner in the Republican primary, which is generally tantamount to winning the position in the general election.


November 23, 2016
Post Election Presidential Math and Louisiana Runoff Polls 
by Jim Ellis 

President

As President-Elect Trump continues to interview prospective cabinet members during his transition into office, more information is coming into focus relating to the final presidential numbers.

It is becoming clearer that Mr. Trump will secure 306 electoral votes once the canvass process is completed in all states.  Michigan remains officially uncalled, but it appears that Trump will carry the state by about three-tenths of one percentage point.  The awarding of the final 16 electoral votes to increase his total to 306 EVs will represent the most votes a Republican candidate has obtained since George H.W. Bush earned 426 electoral votes in 1988. 

In seeing the final map unfold, it is evident that after Trump built upon the Republican base by taking Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina, the Great Lakes states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin transformed the race from a losing Republican performance into a winning one.  Mr. Trump is the first Republican to carry Michigan and Pennsylvania since 1988, and one must research all the way back to 1984 to find the last time a Republican presidential nominee won Wisconsin.

It is now apparent that the 2016 election will set an all-time voter turnout record.  While the media reported on Election Night that turnout was projected to be lower than the previous record set in 2008 and worse than the recorded 2012 total, more than 13 million votes received and counted after the election (absentees, provisional ballots, overseas voting, and ballots postmarked on Election Day in California and Washington) mean the final total will approach, and possibly exceed, 135 million voters. 

The previous aggregate vote set in 2008 was 131,426,292.  To put these totals in perspective, the 2008 election broke the turnout record of 2004, which featured only 122,339,717 votes.  When Ronald Reagan won his landslide re-election in 1984, the aggregate vote cast was just 92.5 million voters.

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton will clinch the popular vote, and probably exceed Mr. Trump's vote total by more than 2 million votes.  The two candidates conceded a total of 32 states to their individual opponent and only competed head-to-head in 19 states.  Clinton racked up her high popular vote total by netting almost a 5 million vote lead in the voting entities that were a foregone conclusion to support either the Democratic or Republican candidate.  In the 19 competitive states, it was Mr. Trump who held the popular vote lead, by almost 3.2 million votes.

Senate

A Trafalgar Group survey (11/14-17; 2,200 LA likely run-off voters) finds Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy staking out a commanding lead over Democratic Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell in the open Louisiana US Senate runoff election scheduled for December 10th.  According to the Trafalgar data, Kennedy leads Campbell 58-35% when leaners for both candidates are included. 

Little in the way of outside support coming in for either candidate suggests that the Democrats are basically conceding the race to Kennedy.  Should the situation remain constant all the way through Election Day, Mr. Kennedy will become the new Congress' 52nd Republican Senator.  

House

The aforementioned Trafalgar Group survey also tested the two Louisiana congressional run-offs in Districts 3 and 4.  Both polls sampled over 600 likely run-off voters that came from the statewide respondent universe commissioned for the Senate race described above.

In the 3rd CD, the open seat vacated by Rep. Charles Boustany (R-Lafayette) who ran unsuccessfully for US Senate, Public Service Commissioner and former Lt. Gov. Scott Angelle and retired police captain Clay Higgins are locked in a tough battle to be decided December 10th.  While Angelle should be in the driver's seat here based upon name identification and political connections, he actually trails former law enforcement officer Higgins, 42-50%. 

As head of the Department of Natural Resources in the Bobby Jindal Administration, Mr. Angelle was involved in a regional public safety issue that drove up his negative ratings.  The Public Service Commissioner counters his opponent's data with his own internal OnMessage survey that finds him leading Higgins, 46-42%.  Angelle has the clear resource advantage but possesses much higher negative ratings, so this race will go down to the wire.  Since both men are Republicans, the GOP wins regardless of who claims the seat in early December.

In the Shreveport based 4th District, open because Rep. John Fleming (R-Minden) also failed in his US Senate run, Republican state Rep. Mike Johnson (R) has a clear advantage over Democratic attorney Marshall Jones.  According to the Trafalgar poll of this district, Johnson leads, 59-35%.  Since 70% of the jungle primary voters chose a Republican candidate and the region has been in GOP hands since 1988, Mr. Johnson is a good bet to win the December 10th runoff election.

In California, Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove/Sacramento) was finally declared the winner in his tight battle against Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones (R).  Down the Golden State coast, the San Diego/Orange County 49th District incumbent Darrell Issa (R-Vista) is positioned to hold his seat, but the laborious counting process continues to drag.  The least optimistic forecast for Issa is he defeats retired Marine Colonel Doug Applegate (D) by less than 2,000 votes.


November 16, 2016
Trump's Electoral College Win and Republican Majorities Hold
by Jim Ellis

President

It appears President-Elect Donald Trump is on his way to securing 306 electoral votes, as the states launch their official vote canvass procedures this week.  The process verifies and makes official the individual state vote counts.  Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia are called for one candidate or the other, leaving Mr. Trump with 290 EVs and Hillary Clinton with 232.  This clinches the Trump victory, but the state of Michigan remains outstanding.

Under Wolverine State election law, the vote will not be projected or finalized until the re-count request period elapses. Trump has a lead of just under 12,000 votes with all ballots received and counted, meaning the contest broke 47.6% for Republican nominee while Clinton secured 47.3%.  Since the final result is within a percentage point, the re-count request period begins.  Once this post-canvassing re-count request deadline passes, the Michigan vote will be finalized. 

Though Trump's margin is small in the context of a statewide vote that saw more than 7.7 million individuals casting their ballot, almost 12,000 votes is still a spread that will likely prevail.  The canvass merely confirms the reported count in the 83 counties, and does not include challenging any votes, so it is unlikely that mistakes or mathematical errors would change the outcome to such a degree that Clinton would win the state.

Senate

Now a week past the election, all of the Senate races with the exception of the Louisiana run-off that will be held December 10th have concluded.  There are no re-counts underway in any Senate race.  The country's closest Senate contest, the New Hampshire race that was decided by 743 votes of more than 707,000 cast ballots, is not being challenged.  Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) conceded defeat to Gov. Maggie Hassan (D), meaning the close margin will be finalized.

Louisiana employs a much different electoral system than any other state.  November 8th featured their primary, obviously the last state in the nation to hold their nominating event.  In the 1977 election, Louisiana changed their electoral system to one commonly referred to as a "jungle primary".  Some call it the "blanket" primary.  Simply put, all candidates are placed on one ballot, and if an absolute majority votes for one individual, that person is elected outright.  If no one secures 50% of the vote, the top two finishers, regardless of political party affiliation, advance to a run-off election.  California and Washington also use this part of the Louisiana system.

Originally, the Louisiana primary was held in September, like many other states, but the Justice Department ruled that all states must have a general election on national voting day.  Since Louisiana decision makers like the idea of having just one election to potentially elect their office holders, they simply moved the primary to run concurrently with the general election.  California and Washington hold their primaries in their regular voting slots (CA: June; WA: August), and those two states send the top two to the general election regardless of primary vote percentage obtained.

Thus, we now see a Louisiana Senate run-off, and one for two open House districts, CDs 3 (Lafayette) and 4 (Shreveport), scheduled for December 10th.  The Senate participants are Republican John Kennedy, the four-term state Treasurer and former Democrat, and Foster Campbell, the Democratic Public Service Commissioner who has run several times statewide and for the House of Representatives.  As of yesterday, neither political party nor outside organization reserved any media time, meaning that this contest may largely be a quiet affair.  Considering Louisiana's strong Republican voting trends - Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton here, 58-34%, for example - Mr. Kennedy looks to be in the driver's seat.

If the Louisiana Republican prevails, the final Senate party division will feature 52 Republicans and 46 Democrats with two Independents (Sens. Bernie Sanders (VT) and Angus King (ME)) who both caucus with the latter party.

House

In addition to the two Louisiana run-off elections still to come, a pair of California House races remains uncalled.  Because California allows voters to postmark their mail ballots on Election Day, and this year accepted those ballots through November 14th, an estimated four million Golden State votes remain to be counted.  This means that the two contested House races, District 7 in Sacramento (Rep. Ami Bera (D) vs. Scott Jones (R)) and District 49 in San Diego County (Rep. Darrell Issa (R) vs. Doug Applegate (D)), remain undecided.  Both incumbents lead, but by one percentage point or less.  It is estimated that as many as 80-90,000 votes in each race could still be added to the count.

Since two Republicans - Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle and retired police captain Clay Higgins - are vying for Louisiana District 3, it is guaranteed that the GOP will secure this district.  This would bring their House conference count to a minimum of 239, even if the party loses the other three uncalled races.  It is more likely, however, that Republicans win LA-4 and CA-49, meaning the final count will probably be 241R-194D.  Such a division would mean the Republicans lost only a net of six seats.

Governor/Legislature

We now see that a record 33 Republicans have been elected Governor in the current term (2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 elections) even if the uncalled North Carolina contest elects Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) over Gov. Pat McCrory (R).  The former leads the latter by just under 5,000 votes statewide, and it is likely the official canvass period, already underway, will finalize the Cooper victory later this week.  If their nominee holds, the Democrats will fall to only 16 US Governorships.  There is one Independent, Alaska's Bill Walker, who is a former Republican.

The Republicans also set a record in the state legislatures.  Even with the New York Senate remaining uncalled, the GOP will hold a minimum of 66 legislative chambers from the country's 99 state bodies. 

Nebraska is the only state in the Union that features just one legislative house, and those members are elected on a non-partisan basis.  It is clear, however, that the GOP would control the 49-member body if they were elected as Republicans and Democrats, however.  This would mean, in actuality, that 67 state legislative chambers are under GOP control.  If the final NY Senate seat goes their way, that number could climb to 68. 

If the Republicans hold such a margin through the 2018 and 2020 elections, they will be in firm control of the next redistricting process, and that theoretically could lead to sustained Republican control of the US House all the way through 2032.


November 9, 2016
2016 Election Results: Republicans take White House, Senate, and House
by Jim Ellis 

Overview

Last night's national election produced one of the biggest upsets in presidential history as Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton with what appears to be at least 290 electoral votes.  The win was stunning in that it defied a virtually unified polling conclusion that projected Ms. Clinton to have the closing momentum heading into the election. 

The last dozen national polls all with ending periods of November 6th or later were a virtual consensus that Clinton had a popular vote lead.  Her average lead was approximately 3.6 percentage points, with a range of Clinton +6 (NBC News/Survey Monkey) to Trump +2 (Investor's Business Daily/TIPP).  The latter poll has consistently projected Trump to the leading position, as has the LA Times/University of Southern California panel-back tracking poll.  The LA Times poll was not included in the national averages because their methodology and survey basis was different than the others.  It is safe to say that both the IBD/TIPP and the LA Times/USC polls will gain a great deal more respect in the coming weeks and years.

Rasmussen Reports is another pollster that found different numbers than most, and normally posted Trump to small leads.  But, even their last poll arrived at the conclusion that Ms. Clinton held a two-point lead.  The major media outlets of ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC News all missed the final result by a significant margin, and none found Trump leading.

President

Donald Trump scored a major come-from-behind victory in the presidential race, and those who suggested that a latent Trump vote was hiding in places like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ohio were proven correct.  In a national popular vote contest that appears as close as the Bush-Gore race of 2000 (Gore winning the popular vote by about 500,000 ballots, though losing the Electoral College), Mr. Trump is running slightly ahead of Clinton on the national vote count, but it is possible that we could again see a President elected who does not secure a plurality on the popular vote when all final votes are recorded.

Mr. Trump carried 29 states and the 2nd District of Maine translating into 290 electoral votes, as compared to Clinton's 228.  Two states, Michigan and New Hampshire still remain too close to call.  This count differs slightly from most of the media's projection because they still have yet to award Arizona and Minnesota, even though both states appear to have a very clear path to conclusion.  In Arizona, Trump continues to lead by almost 80,000 votes with 98% of the precincts reporting.  It is unlikely that enough absentee ballots remain that could flip this state away from him. 

The same is true for Minnesota, except in the opposite direction.  Clinton leads here by 43,000 votes with a reported 100% of the precincts being tabulated.  Therefore, placing Arizona in the Trump column and Minnesota with Clinton give us the 290-228 electoral vote split.  Should both Michigan and New Hampshire finally go to Trump, and he leads in both places, the total electoral vote split could be as high as 310-228.

Trump virtually flipped the country in comparison to the last two Republican nominees, John McCain and Mitt Romney. In 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama defeated Sen. John McCain, 365-173.  Four years later, President Obama sacked Romney, 332-206.  In comparison to last night's results, Mr. Obama scored popular vote margins of 53-46% and 51-47% in his two successful runs for the nation's top office.

Exit polling, often unreliable, portends that Mr. Trump carried 53% of the male vote and Ms. Clinton 54% of the female vote.  Clinton carried all age groups under 40, and Trump took the category segments over 40 years of age.  The race categories look similar to 2012, but the turnout among whites was clearly stronger than those from minority communities.  Trump took 58% of the white vote, and was particularly strong with while males (63%), while Clinton garnered 88% from the African Americans, and 65% apiece from the Hispanic and Asian communities. 

Once the final numbers become known and are recorded, and in-depth post-election studies are completed, these figures could change significantly.

Much will come from the 2016 presidential election, and the analysis will continue for weeks.  More data will soon be available about the seniors, white males, females, and the various minority constituencies, along with the trends and patterns that led to them to make their eventual presidential choices. 

US Senate Overview

The Senate races have been hanging by a thread for better than a month.  Last night, they culminated in a surprising Republican victory.  Up 54-46 in the current Senate, the Republicans overcame having to defend 24 of 34 in-cycle seats and rode a Donald Trump turnout model to national victory and an outright Senate majority.  The new party division, with the Louisiana race still to be decided in a December 10th run-off election and New Hampshire too close to call at this writing, is 51R-47D. 

The majority of the most well-known toss-up contests were in five states: Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, before Indiana and Wisconsin joined the group in the waning days of the campaign.  In the end, all but Nevada and possibly New Hampshire broke in the Republicans' favor.  Most of these races were tight, as expected. 

The biggest margin surprise was Republican Todd Young scoring a ten-point victory in Indiana over former Sen. Evan Bayh (D), who originally led by 21 points.  North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr (R) scored a six-point win, but all of the other toss-ups were in the two to three point realm.  The biggest surprise of the night was Sen. Ron Johnson (R) holding his Wisconsin seat despite only two polls during the entire last year ever showing him to be ahead.  Though the race closed in the end, former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) continued to hold a consistent advantage. 

Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) held the Democrats' open Nevada seat, and becomes the first female candidate of Latin descent to enter the US Senate.  Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt (R), on the ropes during the last few weeks of the campaign, managed to secure a three-point victory.  In another surprise, Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey (R) again defied the odds and held his marginal seat, also in the face of bad polling numbers, to secure another six-year term.

The one state that did flip from R to D was Illinois, where Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Hoffman Estates) successfully unseated first-term Sen. Mark Kirk (R), as expected.

The new Senate leadership slate will likely be:

Majority Leader:  Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Majority Whip:     Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)

Minority Leader:  Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

Minority Whip:     Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)

Senate Results

Republicans held their Senate majority and could go as high as 53 seats, which would mean losing only one, if they win the Louisiana run-off on December 10th (they will be favored to do so), and should Sen. Ayotte hang on to her small lead in New Hampshire.

Illinois

Senator Mark Kirk (R) fell to Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Hoffman Estates), 40-54%.

New Hampshire

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) leads Governor Maggie Hassan (D) by 1,922 votes with counting stopped at 94% of the precincts counted.  We will have further information later today.

Republicans held the following competitive incumbent races:

Missouri

Sen. Roy Blunt (R) defeated Secretary of State Jason Kander (D), 49.4 - 46.2%

North Carolina

Sen. Richard Burr (R) proved the strongest Republican on Election Day, beating back a strong challenge from former state Rep. Deborah Ross (D), 51.1 - 45.3%.

Pennsylvania

Sen. Pat Toomey (R) defeated former gubernatorial chief of staff Katie McGinty (D) 48.9 to 47.2%

Wisconsin

Sen. Ron Johnson (R) scored an amazing comeback victory, topping former Senator Russ Feingold (D) 50.2 - 46.8%

Democrats held three open seats previously held by a Democrat:

California

Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) easily defeated fellow Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Santa Ana), 63-37%.

Maryland

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Montgomery County) defeated State House

Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga (R), 60-36%.

Nevada

Former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D) defeated Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson), 47.1 - 44.7%

Democrats held seats in these races with their party's incumbent:     

Colorado:Sen. Michael Bennet (49.2 - 45.7% surprisingly close)

Connecticut:Sen. Richard Blumenthal

Hawaii:Sen. Brian Schatz

New York: Sen. Chuck Schumer

Oregon:Sen. Ron Wyden

Vermont:Sen. Patrick Leahy

Washington:Sen. Patty Murray

Republicans won these open seats previously held by a Democrat:

None

Republicans won these open seats previously held by a Republican:

Indiana

Rep. Todd Young (R-Bloomington) defeated former Senator and Governor Evan Bayh (D), 52.2 - 42.4%, thus retaining the seat of retiring Sen. Dan Coats (R)

This likely Republican seat will advance to a December 10th run-off election:

Louisiana: John Kennedy (R) vs. Foster Campbell (D)

Republican held seats in these races with their party's incumbent:

Alabama:Sen. Richard Shelby

Alaska:Sen. Lisa Murkowski

Arizona:Sen. John McCain

Arkansas:Sen. John Boozman

Florida: Sen. Marco Rubio

Georgia:Sen. Johnny Isakson

Idaho:Sen. Mike Crapo

Iowa:Sen. Chuck Grassley

Kansas:Sen. Jerry Moran

Kentucky:Sen. Rand Paul

Missouri:Sen. Roy Blunt

North Carolina:Sen. Richard Burr

North Dakota:Sen. John Hoeven

Ohio:Sen. Rob Portman

Oklahoma:Sen. James Lankford

South Carolina:Sen. Tim Scott

South Dakota:Sen. John Thune

Utah:Sen. Mike Lee

US House Overview

Republicans held their House majority, only losing six to nine seats, depending upon the calling of final races that are still outstanding.  This brings the new majority to the 239-236R range with Democrats falling between 196 and 199.

Republicans held the House largely because of favorable redistricting maps, and a poor Democratic candidate recruiting season minimized the latter party's number of competitive challengers, plus a moderately favorable turnout model at the top of the ticket.

Republicans maintained 90% of their open seats, which includes likely December 10th run-off contests in Louisiana's Districts 3 and 4.

Though Democrats ran with a strategy of attempting to tie all Republican candidates to who they believed was a flawed presidential nominee in Donald Trump, the approach failed.  Republicans were able to re-elect all but six of their incumbents, thus underscoring that the Trump/GOP House member connection produced relatively few Democratic victories.  Of the incumbent and open seat GOP losses, four were directly due to mid-decade redistricting plans that were enacted before the 2016 election.

Several Republicans like Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO-6) and Rod Blum (R-IA-1) again survived in difficult districts for any Republican. 

Key Republican Wins

Republicans may have converted three Democratic seats.

FL-2:Neil Dunn (R) replaces Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Tallahassee)

FL-18:Brian Mast (R) replaces Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Jupiter)

NE-2:Don Bacon (R) remains on a path to unseat Rep. Brad Ashford (D-Omaha), though the race has not been officially called

Republicans held 27 of 30 open GOP seats, with two (LA-3 and LA-4) to be decided in a December 10th run-off election.  The LA-3 run-off is a double R campaign.

Key Democratic Wins

Democrats defeated six Republican incumbents:

FL-7:   Stephanie Murphy (D) defeats Rep. John Mica (R-Winter Park)

FL-13:Charlie Crist (D) unseats Rep. David Jolly (R-Pinellas County)

IL-10:  Ex-Rep. Brad Schneider (D) again unseats Rep. Bob Dold (R-Kenilworth)

NV-4:  Ruben Kihuen (D) defeats Rep. Cresent Hardy (R-Mesquite)

NH-1:  Carol Shea-Porter (D) defeats Rep. Frank Guinta (R-Manchester)

NJ-5:  Josh Gottheimer (D) defeats Rep. Scott Garrett (R-Wantage)

California races in Districts 7 (Rep. Ami Bera (D) vs. Scott Jones (R), 10 (Rep. Jeff Denham (R) vs. Michael Eggman (D), 24 (open seat: Salud Carbajal (D) vs. Justin Fareed (R)), 25 (Rep. Steve Knight (R) vs. Bryan Caforio (D)), and 49 (Rep. Darrell Issa (R) vs. Doug Applegate (D)) will take many days if not weeks to become final because of California's slow and laborious ballot counting system.

Democrats held 17 of 19 their own open seats 

Democrats win three Republican open seats:

FL-10:Val Demings (D) replaces Rep. Dan Webster (R-Orlando)

NV-3:  Jacky Rosen (D) defeats Danny Tarkanian (R)

VA-4:  St. Sen. Donald McEachin (D) takes the re-drawn 4th District, defeating Henrico County Sheriff Mike Wade (R)

Governors

Twelve gubernatorial races were on the ballot, yielding party changes that favored Republicans.  Democrats may have converted one Republican state house, that in North Carolina as Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) leads incumbent Pat McCrory (R) by just 5,000 votes.  It is unclear if any absentee or provisional ballots remain to be counted. Republicans took Democratic posts in Missouri, New Hampshire and Vermont.  Open seats in Delaware and West Virginia remained in Democratic hands, while Republicans held their two open seats in Indiana and North Dakota.

Democratic incumbents were re-elected in Montana (Gov. Steve Bullock) in a close election, Oregon (Gov. Kate Brown), and Washington (Gov. Jay Inslee), while Republicans held Utah (Gov. Gary Herbert).

Overall, the gubernatorial count advances to 33R-16D-1I, with Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) being a former Republican.

Voter Turnout

The voter participation rate appears to be coming in well under the 129,172,069 people who officially cast ballots in 2012.  At the end of initial counting, approximately 122 million individuals are recorded as voting.  It is estimated that possibly more than 50% of voters took advantage of the early voting procedures that are available in 43 states and the District of Columbia.  A total of 37 states and DC allow "no-excuse" early voting, meaning anyone can vote by mail or in-person as a matter of choice.  In six states (KY, MS, MO, NY, SC, and VA) one still must have a valid excuse to vote early or absentee, meaning the individual must indicate that they are unable to be present at their usual polling place on Election Day.

We won't know the final turnout numbers for at least two weeks, as states will conduct their official canvasses after all votes have been received.  Large blocks of votes - meaning millions - will be reported in California during the next several days, and even weeks, as their large number of mail votes results in a laborious counting system that begins only when all votes are received.  Washington, one of three states that employs a total vote-by-mail procedure, accepts ballots post-marked on Election Day meaning the count will stretch for maybe as long as the next ten days.  The other two, Oregon and Colorado, require ballots to be received on Election Day.

In the last 30 years, turnout has increased from 81.5 million voters in 1976 to a high of 131.4 million in 2008.  The fall-off between 2008 and 2012 was -1.7%.  During this 30-year span, presidential turnout has increased in every election with the exception of 1988, 1996, and 2012. 

The largest drop-off from one successive presidential campaign to another (7.8%) occurred in 1996, when President Bill Clinton defeated Republican Bob Dole.  The biggest increase in successive elections came in 2004 (President George W. Bush defeating Democrat John Kerry), when a modern day record occurred.  An increase of 16.1% in voter participation arose in 2004, when compared to vote levels from the 2000 election.  Until then, the highest increase was found in 1992, when 14.0% more voters cast their ballots than did in the 1988 election.


November 2, 2016
Races Tighten Up and Down the Ballot
by Jim Ellis 

President

The new Hillary Clinton email revelation has ushered in a sense of doubt surrounding the final week of this unique presidential campaign.  In fact, the latest four polls taken between the October 26-31 period find the race reverting back to within the polling margin of error.

The ABC News/Washington Post rolling tracking survey (10/27-30; 1,167 US likely voters) reports Clinton's lead dropping to only one percentage point, 46-45%.  The Investors Business Daily/TIPP poll (10/26-31; 1,018 US likely voters) also sees a one-point separation between the two candidates.  Rasmussen Reports (10/27-31; 1,500 US likely voters) projects a flat tie, 44-44%.  Finally, the Lucid/New Orleans Times Picayune (10/29-31; 866 US likely voters) forecasts a two-point spread, 42-40%.  This portends quite a different scene from just one week ago.

Trends seem to be favoring Trump now in Florida, Ohio, and Iowa.  He's getting back into range in North Carolina and Nevada.  The 2nd District of Maine, from one of two states that splits its electoral votes, becomes another possibility for the Republican to add one additional tally.  But, Trump must take all of these entities and find one other if he is to forge a winning Electoral College majority.

Three states, Colorado, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania, appear as his only final state possibilities, but he leads in none of them right now. 

Six polls have been fielded in PA since October 23rd, and all show a Clinton advantage, anywhere from two to eleven points.  The latest University of New Hampshire/WBUR-TV survey (10/26-30; 641 NH likely voters) gave Clinton a 46-39-6-1% advantage over Mr. Trump, Libertarian Gary Johnson, and the Green Party's Jill Stein in the Granite State.  Finally, in Colorado, Republican polling firm, Remington Research (10/30; 1,176 CO likely voters) sees only a one point difference between the two candidates, at 45-44%, which is the Republicans' best Centennial State showing to date.

Though these polls all suggest that each particular state is within Trump's grasp, at least one of the latter three must fall his way in order to declare final victory next week, assuming the previously mentioned states all break his way and he retains the 23 normally Republican entities.  While closer to achieving all of this, the national map still favors Ms. Clinton.

Senate

Entering the final week of campaigning, we still do not have a sense as to which party will control the Senate majority next year.  Right now, it appears that Democrats look secure in 48 seats, counting holdovers, and Republicans’ 47.  Five contests remain as toss-ups.  The Democratic number includes converting Republican seats in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

If Democrats hold the Nevada Senate race (Democratic former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson)), it means they would only have to win one of the remaining four seats to re-gain the majority assuming Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine are successfully elected President and Vice President.  Right now, this race continues to seesaw between the two Senate candidates.  The latest survey, from the Emerson College Polling Society (10/26-27; 550 NV likely voters), gives Republican Heck a 48-44% advantage.

North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) continues to hold a small edge over Democratic challenger Deborah Ross.  The latest released survey, from local Elon University (10/23-27; 710 NC likely voters), gives the Senator a three-point advantage, 45-42%.

Monmouth University (10/28-31; 405 MO likely voters) finds Sen. Roy Blunt (R) clinging only to a 47-46% edge over Secretary of State Jason Kander (D).  While this poll is consistent with several others, the same respondent sample gives Donald Trump a whopping 52-38% lead over Hillary Clinton.  If true, then Sen. Blunt should be ahead by a much greater margin.

Democrats appear to be forging ahead in New Hampshire (Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) vs. Gov. Maggie Hassan (D)), and Pennsylvania (Sen. Pat Toomey (R) opposing Katie McGinty (D)), but these races have been volatile for months and could easily snap back to produce a Republican victory next Tuesday.

House

The latest Clinton email development and the tightening of the presidential contest will likely help down ballot Republicans, as mentioned above.  This is so because Republican turnout will likely be better than feared when it appeared Ms. Clinton had virtually clinched the national campaign.

Democrats still appear poised to make some gains but should the 18 toss-up seats split 50/50, then overall GOP losses will likely fall in the dozen-seat range.  This type of result would give the Republicans a majority around the 235 mark, which is exactly in their typical range since they began winning House control back in 1994.  In the last eleven congressional terms, Republicans have controlled the House for all but four years. 

With a combination of a better Republican voter turnout model and congressional district maps that favor them, the GOP will retain House control for another term.  If Ms. Clinton does become President and Democrats re-gain a small Senate majority, then divided government will continue into the next congressional session.

 


October 26, 2016
Battleground Polling and NC/NH Could Decide Senate Majority  
by Jim Ellis 

President

Hillary Clinton is locking in her national popular vote lead, as six new national surveys find her advantage stretching from one to twelve points.  As has been the case for the last two weeks, both the Rasmussen Reports (latest: 10/20-24; 1,500 US likely voters) and the Investors Business Daily/TIPP surveys (latest: 10/19-24; 873 US likely voters) poll best for Donald Trump.  Here the two give the former Secretary of State only a one-point margin.

On the other side of the spectrum, ABC News (10/20-23; 1,155 US likely voters) and the new Greenberg Quinlan Rosner survey for the Democracy Corps liberal advocacy organization (10/21-24; 900 US likely voters) see identical twelve point, 50-38%, Clinton margins.

Five new polls see the all-important Florida race tightening, however, as one projects Donald Trump taking a two point lead (Bloomberg Politics; 10/21-24; 953 FL likely voters), at 45-43%, with Libertarian Gary Johnson notching 4% and the Green Party's Jill Stein taking just 2 percent.  Remington Research (10/20-22; 1,646 FL likely voters via automated response telephoning) forecasts a 46-46% tie.  Three others, conducted during the same 10/20-24 time period (Survey USA, CBS News/YouGov, and Opinion Savvy) find Ms. Clinton maintaining an edge of either three or four percentage points.

In Ohio, however, the trends favor Trump.  Remington Research, Quinnipiac University, and CNN/ORC all see the Republican nominee leading between one and three points during the October 10-22 period.  Suffolk University (10/17-19; 500 OH likely voters) finds the two candidates tied at 45% apiece.

The two latest Pennsylvania studies, Remington Research (10/20-22; 1,997 PA likely voters via automated response telephoning) and the Emerson College Polling Society (10/17-19; 800 PA likely voters) post smaller Clinton leads of three and four points. 

The Minnesota electorate, which hasn't voted Republican in a presidential race since 1972, was for a time teetering in this race.  But, a new Minneapolis Star Tribune survey (10/20-22; 625 MN likely voters) puts the race back in what should be its normal perspective suggesting that Ms. Clinton is topping Donald Trump and the minor party candidates, 47-39-6-1%.

Senate

We seem to be seeing movement in the New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Nevada Senate races.  UMass/YouGov (10/17-21; 772 NH likely voters) gives Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) a 48-44% advantage when all committed and leaning voters are added to the respondent tally.  She and Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) had previously been locked in a tie.

While Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) has been consistently polling ahead by small margins in eight of the last nine statewide polls (the ninth showed a tie between the two candidates), the latest New York Times/Siena College survey (10/20-23; 792 NC likely voters) gives challenger Deborah Ross a slight 47-46% edge.  But, simultaneously, Monmouth University (10/20-23; 402 NC likely voters) sees a six-point, 49-43%, Burr advantage.  The Monmouth polling sample, however, is just over half as large as the NYT/Siena College respondent universe.

The Nevada Senate race continues to bounce back and forth between the two candidates, but four of the latest six polls give Democratic former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto an edge over Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson).  Both Rasmussen Reports and the Las Vegas Review Journal in surveys fielded between October 20 and 23, find Ms. Masto clinging to two and one point leads, respectively. 

In the aggregate, the Senate race picture continues to hover around the 50-50 mark, though the latest trends suggest that Democrats will obtain the Senate majority either in a tie vote, or by breaking through to 51 or even 52 seats.

House

Our own compilation of all 435 House races suggests that the Republicans will maintain control of the chamber in the next Congress, but with a smaller margin. 

It appears that Republicans are safe in 197 seats as compared to 177 for Democrats.  An additional 21 seats are rated as "Republican favored", where ten more lean to the GOP candidate.  In addition to the 177 safe Ds, another nine can be categorized as "Democrat favored", with three more leaning their way.

Thus, the grand total of safe, favored, and lean Republican seats is 228, while the Democratic total looks to be 189.  This leaves 18 toss-up districts, fifteen in Republican districts and only three in those currently held by a Democrat.  Extrapolating the toss-up category with the latest trends and voter history, suggests that the Republican majority will hover around the low to mid-230s, exactly where most of their margins have resided after first assuming the House majority in the 1994 election.  Currently, the House party division is 247R-188D. 

Governor

Trends are developing in some of the key Governor's races.  The latest polling and past election history suggests a Democratic conversion in North Carolina where Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) maintains a small lead over Gov. Pat McCrory (R).  The same may occur in Indiana, where Democratic nominee John Gregg maintains a small margin over Republican Eric Holcomb in the seat left open when Gov. Mike Pence (R) accepted the GOP Vice Presidential nomination.

Democrats are poised to hold the open Delaware, Missouri, and West Virginia governorships, while Republicans could score conversion victories in New Hampshire and, most surprisingly, Vermont.

 


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

President

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.

Senate

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.

House

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

President

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.  

Senate

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).   

House

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).

Governor

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 

President

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.

Senate

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.

House

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.

Governor

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 

President

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.

Senate

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

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 

President

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.

Senate

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%.

House

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.

Governor

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  

President

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).  

Senate

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.

House

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.  

Governor

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

President

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.

Senate

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.

House

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

President

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. 

Senate

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.

House

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 

President

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.

Senate

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.

House

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 

President

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.

Senate

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.

House

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. 

 

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