Monthly Archives: July 2014

Russell Shows Strength in Oklahoma; Four New Arkansas Polls Show No True Leader

One of the most intriguing and impressive 2014 congressional candidates is retired Army Lt. Col. Steve Russell (R), the commander of the military operation that captured Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Russell is a career soldier, author, public speaker, and former Oklahoma state senator now running for the open 5th CD.

In the June 24 Republican primary, Russell placed first in a field of six candidates, garnering 26.6 percent (14,597 votes). Patrice Douglas, state corporation commissioner (an elected position in Oklahoma) was second with 24.5 percent (13,440 votes). The two vie for the party nomination in an Aug. 26 run-off. The winner becomes the prohibitive favorite to win the seat in November and succeed Rep. James Lankford (R-OK-5) who will be moving to the Senate.

Russell placed first but spent the least (just over $171,000) among the top four GOP candidates in the race. His effort was boosted by his local notoriety and a strong and highly targeted grassroots operation.
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A Snapshot of Senate Races

With the plethora of polls providing us snapshots of the various Senate battles around the country, it’s a good time to reflect about where the races stand today.

As we know, Republicans need to convert six Democratic seats to claim the Senate majority so long as they win every state they currently control. Their position is strengthened because they realistically risk only two (Kentucky and Georgia) of the 15 GOP in-cycle seats.

  • Safe Republican (11): Alabama (Jeff Sessions), Idaho (Jim Risch), Maine (Susan Collins), Nebraska (open: Ben Sasse), Oklahoma (Jim Inhofe), Oklahoma (open: James Lankford), South Carolina (Lindsey Graham), South Carolina (Tim Scott), Tennessee (Lamar Alexander – though he has primary competition on August 7), Texas (John Cornyn), and Wyoming (Mike Enzi).
  • Highly Likely Republican (2): Kansas (Pat Roberts – facing primary competition on August 5), Mississippi (Thad Cochran).
  • Highly Likely Democratic (3): Hawaii (Brian Schatz – faces primary competition on August 9), New Jersey (Cory Booker), New Mexico (Tom Udall).
  • Likely Democratic (3): Minnesota (Al Franken), Oregon (Jeff Merkley),  Continue reading >

Online Polling Project Across 50 States Yields Surprising Results

YouGov, an international Internet pollster, has been surveying campaigns and corporate marketing programs in many regions around the world. While most are skeptical of Internet polling, as they should be, YouGov’s highly sophisticated and targeted approach has enjoyed a better than average record in terms of projecting political victories around the world.

YouGov and the New York Times recently partnered to conduct a simultaneous 50-state US polling project. The results were released yesterday. By and large, the vast majority of their polls track with what we have seen from other survey research firms over the past months. The YG/NYT project polled the key statewide campaigns in every state, and then asked a generic party question about US House preference.

Here, we highlight some of the surprise findings:

Alaska: The Last Frontier polls were very different from the preponderance of other polling from this electorate. While the Senate race has been tight for months, this YouGov survey of 452 registered Alaska voters gives Sen. Mark Begich (D) a 46-35 percent advantage, adjusting for leaners as  Continue reading >

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

Georgia Senate

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

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

But, Landmark Communications, in data released on July 25 (also 750 registered Georgia voters), finds Nunn claiming a four-point advantage, 47-43 percent. This  Continue reading >

Entering Primary Season’s Final Stretch

As we enter the primary season’s final stretch, 19 states still have yet to choose their 2014 nominees. The first nine days of August will bring voters to the polls in a half-dozen states with much to be decided.

August 5

The most active day is the first Tuesday in August. Four states are holding primaries, featuring one key Senate nomination battle.

In Kansas, Sen. Pat Roberts (R) faces a GOP challenge from physician Milton Wolf. Roberts has made several mis-steps during the campaign, including admitting that he doesn’t own property in his state, possessing a Virginia personalized license plate that identifies him as the Kansas senator, and saying that he returns home, “every time he has an opponent.” Despite the gaffes, Dr. Wolf appears to be a flawed candidate and is not likely to deny Roberts renomination.
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Digging Deeper into Polling Results

Former Dollar General CEO David Perdue is credited with winning an upset victory in the Georgia Republican senatorial run-off because all of the public pollsters save one – Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research (Perdue’s own pollsters) – never projected Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA-1) to be trailing.

While 10 post-primary polls were released and nine of them found Kingston ahead, the cumulative result is not necessarily an example of group inaccuracy. Such was the case, however, in Virginia when no survey firm predicted that David Brat would even come close to defeating House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA-7) in his widely publicized David vs. Goliath campaign, let alone unseat him.

In the Georgia senatorial run-off, it is likely that Kingston was in fact the early post-primary leader because he successfully maneuvered himself to the right of Perdue immediately after the May 20 vote. Additionally, the losing candidates all endorsed him, and the veteran Savannah congressman was the beneficiary of a major multi-million dollar independent expenditure from the US Chamber of Commerce.
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Perdue Notches Upset in Georgia Senate Win; House Results

Georgia Senate

Former Dollar General CEO David Perdue came from well behind to defeat Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA-1) in the US Senate Republican run-off to score what most believe is an upset win for the GOP nomination. He now faces Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn, who won her own primary outright back on May 20.

With just over 480,000 people voting in the run-off contest, Perdue captured 51 percent of the vote. The contest see-sawed early, but Perdue’s dominance in the more populous northern part of the state provided a strong clue that he would prevail in the end. As in the primary election, Kingston ran very strong south of Interstate 16, thus taking virtually all of southern Georgia, but failed to make enough inroads in the central and northern geographic sectors with the exception of the extreme northwestern counties hugging the Tennessee border. Therefore, since both candidates were demonstrating regional strength the campaign became a numbers game, and Perdue’s region was simply larger.
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Daines Up in Montana; Hayworth Rebounding in NY; Oklahoma Tightens

Montana Senate

Two new Montana polls were just released into the public domain, and both portend similar results.

According to Public Policy Polling (July 17-18; 574 registered Montana voters), Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT-AL) holds a 46-39 percent advantage over appointed Sen. John Walsh (D). Both men record similar job approval ratings. Sen. Walsh, who was appointed in early February to replace veteran Sen. Max Baucus (D) after the latter had accepted President Obama’s offer to become US Ambassador to China, tallies a 38:37 percent favorable to unfavorable job approval rating. Freshman Rep. Daines is in virtually the same position, though finding himself one point upside down, 39:40 percent.

An internal Harstad Strategic Research poll for the Walsh campaign (released July 17; number of respondents not provided), gives the freshman congressman a 43-38 percent edge over the appointed senator. Though  Continue reading >

The Georgia Run-Offs

Tomorrow, Peach State voters head to the polls to finally decide Georgia’s four important federal run-off elections. Concluding what has been a very long and active nomination campaign here, complete with some surprising results from the May 20 primary, the Republican voters will now choose a US Senate nominee and likely pick congressmen in Districts 1, 10, and 11.

Senate

This contest has proven to be one of the most interesting of the entire election cycle, and the Georgia race is of foremost consequence in the national Senate picture. In order to gain the majority, Republicans must first secure the two potentially vulnerable seats already within their control: Kentucky (Minority Leader Mitch McConnell), and this race in Georgia. A Democratic conversion in either of these states would likely retain their party’s majority status.

You will remember that this particular Senate campaign originally featured three members of the congressional delegation, a former statewide elected official, and a major business leader who is a cousin to, and who shares the last name with,  Continue reading >

Two Upset Winners

Igniting strong momentum from their respective second-place finishes in primary elections, Baptist pastor Mark Walker and Alabama think tank founder Gary Palmer won major upset victories last night in their respective North Carolina and Alabama Republican congressional run-off elections.  

Both secured local and national conservative support, attracted endorsements from defeated primary opponents, and converted new voters with strong grassroots efforts, a combination that worked seamlessly to outpace establishment-backed opponents.

AL-6

Palmer defeated state Rep. Paul DeMarco by a whopping 64-36 percent margin.  Palmer had finished 13 points behind DeMarco in the June 3 Republican primary, but with all but one of the defeated candidates endorsing him, in addition to many conservative movement organizations both nationally and in Alabama, the second place primary finisher easily overtook the youthful state legislator in last night’s vote.  

While DeMarco had a clear financial advantage and backing from business associations and the NRA, Palmer had the decided edge in the field.  His stronger  Continue reading >

Two House Nomination Run-offs Play Out Today

AL-6

Retiring Rep. Spencer Bachus’ (R) replacement, for all intents and purposes, will become known tonight. Having voted 74.3 percent for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election, suburban Birmingham’s 6th District ranks as the eighth most Republican CD in the country. Therefore, the general election campaign will not prove much of a test for whomever becomes the GOP nominee – either state Rep. Paul DeMarco (R) or Alabama Policy Institute founder and president Gary Palmer (R) – opposing trucking industry analyst Avery Vise (D).

Originally, seven GOP candidates fought for the two run-off spots on June 3, ending with DeMarco placing first with 33 percent and Palmer, in his first attempt in running for public office, garnering 20 percent to secure second position. Four of the five candidates – all but the last place finisher – eliminated in the June 3 primary have each endorsed Palmer. Large segments of the national and local conservative movement are also backing the policy center founder including the Club for Growth and the Family Research Council leadership. DeMarco scores support from the NRA and a large  Continue reading >

Two Florida Congressional Districts Ruled as Illegal

A north Florida circuit court judge who briefly came to fame during the George W. Bush/Al Gore 2000 post-election counting process, has declared Florida congressional districts 5 (Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville) and 10 (Rep. Dan Webster, R-Orlando) illegal per the criteria adopted in the state’s 2010 redistricting ballot initiative. The Democratic legal challenge was launched soon after the lines were enacted in 2011, but technicalities pertaining to the plaintiff’s discovery motions here and in federal court delayed the process until now. Additionally, the US Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County decision changed the legal situation.

Democratic Judge Terry Lewis, who issued a pro-Bush presidential recount decision 14 years ago, ruled that the two districts fail the compactness criteria as outlined in the voter-passed proposition. Should the entire appellate process, including final review by the Florida State Supreme Court, uphold the Lewis decision districts 5 and 10 will be re-drawn. The tangential changes stemming from altering those boundaries could conceivably affect all of north and central Florida.

Judge Lewis ruled against the Democratic  Continue reading >

New Senate Data Show Tight Races in Three States

Georgia

The Georgia Republican senatorial run-off enters the stretch drive and a new poll suggests that the two candidates, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA-1) and businessman David Perdue, are headed for a photo finish.

Insider Advantage, polling for Morris News and Atlanta TV-5 (July 7-9, 1,278 likely Georgia Republican run-off voters), finds the two candidates separated by just two points, 43-41 percent (in Kingston’s favor). Immediately after the primary, it was the Savannah congressman who jumped out to as much as a double-digit lead over Perdue, but now multiple research services are projecting a much closer contest, if not a dead heat.

The election is scheduled for July 22, so the final days will feature hot and heavy campaigning. Kingston has been a prolific fundraiser and attracts outside support from a major US Chamber of Commerce media buy of just under $800,000 for the run-off alone. Perdue is hammering the 10-term representative over his many votes as a  Continue reading >

New Hampshire Poll Shows Electorate Predictably Unpredictable

Since 2006, voters in no other place have created more pronounced political swings than in the Granite State of New Hampshire. Seven statewide or federal district incumbents have been defeated during that period, as opposed to only six who have been re-elected. In federal campaigns, the record is just three incumbent wins and seven defeats.

The University of New Hampshire and WMUR-TV have just released another Granite State poll (June 19-July 1, 669 New Hampshire adults; 263 likely voters in NH-1; 246 likely voters in NH-2) that suggests the 1st congressional district electorate is again primed to oust an incumbent.

According to UNH, former Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH-1), elected in 2010 and defeated in 2012, holds a 46-43 percent lead over Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH-1), elected in 2006, defeated in 2010, and re-elected in 2012. Against Republican Dan Innis, the former UNH business school dean, the congresswoman posts a 45-38 percent advantage. Should Guinta win re-nomination, this will be the third consecutive election in which Shea-Porter  Continue reading >

McDaniel’s Mississippi Senate Challenge

Media coverage is increasing in what may be an impending legal challenge to the Mississippi US Senate Republican run-off election result from defeated candidate Chris McDaniel. Yesterday, for example, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the vice-chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said that legal authorities should investigate irregularities surrounding the voting in the June 24 electoral contest, and McDaniel’s own attorney indicated an official challenge is imminent.

Now certified as a 7,667-vote loser to Sen. Thad Cochran, McDaniel has a daunting task before him if he is to achieve his eventual goal of reversing the result.

At the heart of the issue is that many of the new voters who cast ballots in the run-off election did not participate in the Republican primary. Under Mississippi election law, there is no requirement to vote in a primary election prior to being part of the associated run-off. It is illegal, however, for a voter to cast a ballot in a primary of one party and then participate in the run-off of the opposite party. According to the McDaniel campaign, thousands of Democrats voted in their own primary and then appeared at Republican run-off polling  Continue reading >