Monthly Archives: October 2014

Upsets Brewing as Election Day Nears

As we head into the final weekend before the election, several new pieces of data show a few major upsets brewing, while some other pollsters are in conflict when surveying the same race.

Maryland Governor’s Race

The biggest surprise amongst the late data comes from the Maryland governor’s race, where the Wilson Perkins Allen Research firm finds their client, Larry Hogan, Jr. (R), leading Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D), the prohibitive favorite to succeed term-limited Gov. Martin O’Malley (D). According to their latest poll (Oct. 26-27; 504 likely Maryland voters), Hogan leads Brown 44-39 percent, and 46-38 percent among respondents who can identify both candidates.

Concluding the poll’s analysis, WPA says that “while Hogan is well positioned heading into the final week, he isn’t there yet. Having the resources to go toe-to-toe with Brown on TV will be crucial in turning his current lead into a victory on Election Day.”

Though no other poll has actually shown Hogan leading, several surveys have detected a closer than expected race in what is normally one of the bluest states in the country. This could be a race to watch on Tuesday night.
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Trends & Outliers as Election Day Nears

Final pre-election polls are being released, and some new data is telling us different things in a series of key Senate, House and gubernatorial campaigns. The featured surveys depict forming trends, different race leaders in polls conducted simultaneously, or ones that appear to be outliers.

SENATE
Polls bucking the latest trend:

• Georgia: Monmouth University (Oct. 26-28; 436 likely voters):
David Perdue (R) ……….. 49%
Michelle Nunn (D) ……… 41%
Amanda Swafford (L) …… 3%
Perdue, if leading, has done so by a much closer margin.

• North Carolina: Public Opinion Strategies (Oct. 26-27; 600 likely voters):
Sen. Kay Hagan (D) ……. 44%
Thom Tillis (R) ………….. 44%
Sean Haugh (L) ……………. 7%
Sen. Hagan has been leading in most polls.

Differing results:

• Iowa: Garin Hart Yang Research for Braley campaign (Oct. 25-27; 802 likely voters)
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Governors Races Close Across the Country

Like the Senate and House races, 36 gubernatorial campaigns are also drawing to conclusion this week, and in as tight a fashion as the US Senate races that have dominated the political landscape.

Republicans hold a 29 to 21 advantage in the national gubernatorial division, but Democrats appear poised to gain a small number of state houses in this election. Strong competition is underway in 20 of the 36 states, a very high number. Nine races are thought to be too close to call headed into Election Day.

The tightest of all, not surprisingly, may be in Florida, where Gov. Rick Scott (R) and ex-Gov. Charlie Crist (D) are doing battle. Florida, as we know, is no stranger to tight campaigns, and the Sunshine State electorate will almost assuredly give us another one this year. The Scott-Crist race is a flat tie, with multiple polls yielding each candidate a very small lead. Democrats feel they have the ground game to win a close race, but Scott has the clear momentum fighting back from very poor approval ratings to force the race to a virtual draw.

One campaign that likely won’t be close is the Democratic conversion of Pennsylvania. Gov. Tom Corbett (R) has virtually no victory path and has trailed Democratic businessman Tom Wolf for the entire general election cycle, usually by double-digits.
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A Snapshot of the 36 Senate Races

The international polling firm YouGov, in their ongoing project with the New York Times and CBS News, released another complete polling wave over the weekend. The data included results from all 36 Senate races.

According to the comprehensive totals, Republicans would gain the majority with 51 seats, winning in 21 states including a Louisiana run-off, while Democrats would claim fourteen. The 36th state, Iowa, is in a flat 44-44 percent tie between Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst and Democratic US Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA-1).

For Republicans, the safe list contains a pair of both Oklahoma (Jim Inhofe and James Lankford) and South Carolina seats (Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott) that are up for election this year in addition to Susan Collins in Maine, Jim Risch from Idaho, and Jeff Sessions (Alabama), among others.

The GOP nominee leads in 10 contested or open races from anywhere between three and 29 points. Only three of the contenders, however, exceed 50 percent in support. Below are the results in competitive campaigns:
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House Upset Updates

Money is flying in House races right now, and the respective party and outside organization spending is indicative about how the races are unfolding. Republicans are on the offensive in some obscure districts; Democrats, with the exception of their operations against Reps. Lee Terry (R-NE-2), Steve Southerland (R-FL-2), and Michael Grimm (R-NY-11), are generally retreating to protect endangered incumbents.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) just reported adding money to some existing media buys. They are increasing their presence for Reps. Brad Schneider (D-IL-10), Bill Enyart (D-IL-12), Rick Nolan (D-MN-8), Dan Maffei (D-NY-24), and Nick Rahall (D-WV-3). This clearly suggests Republican challengers in each of those districts are legitimate upset contenders.

The following is a list of the latest action in what can be described as emerging races. All of the predictions in these campaigns originally favored the incumbent or the incumbent party in an open seat situation.

• AR-4: Rep. Tom Cotton’s (R) open seat is now yielding a competitive contest between Republican state Rep. Bruce Westerman and Democrat former Federal Emergency Management Agency director James Lee Witt. Westerman had the early lead, but a new Hendrix College Talk Business poll (Oct. 15-16; 410 likely AR-4 voters) shows the Republican advantage dwindling to 44-42 percent.
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A Different Georgia Race in the 12th CD

Rep. John Barrow (D) has run several tough races in many different east Georgia locations, yet he always seems to find a way to prevail.  But, will this year be different?

Barrow’s trick for attaining political success is to champion several conservative issues, while simultaneously increasing the substantial African-American vote that resides in his 12th District.  The turnout patterns from his Augusta-anchored constituency suggests that the midterm cycle is when he is most vulnerable, so Barrow is again hitting on all cylinders for this election.

Originally a local elected commissioner in Clarke County (Athens), the current congressman successfully unseated one-term Rep. Max Burns (R) in a close race Continue reading >

A Quick Update on Key Senate Races

Here’s a look at the latest from the final drive for the Senate in key states:

Kentucky


Kentuckians for Strong Leadership: “Look”

Survey USA released a new poll (Oct. 15-19; 655 likely Kentucky voters) again showing a virtual dead heat between Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D). This data finds the senator only holding a one-point lead, 44-43 percent, as the campaign again tightens. Also, the in-state Super PAC supporting McConnell, Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, released a new attack ad, calling her “Obama’s Senator” (above).
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Upsets in the Making

Recent new polls have revealed lesser known US House challengers positioning themselves to either defeat an incumbent or win the other party’s open seat. We take a look at several:

AR-2

The Little Rock-anchored 2nd District in Arkansas has belonged to the Republicans for the last four years in the person of Rep. Tim Griffin, but having a GOP representative here is not the historical norm. With the congressman deciding to stay closer to home and running for lieutenant governor instead of re-election to the House, AR-2 is again open.

Before Griffin came into office, one must turn the clock back to the mid-1970s to see a Republican representing this seat. Rep. Ed Bethune (R) served three terms prior to retiring, but you have traverse history 104 years before to find another elected Republican from this district (Rep. Tommy Robinson did serve one of his three terms as a Republican directly succeeding Bethune, but only after switching from the Democratic Party).

Under this backdrop, Republican banker French Hill attempts to hold the seat for his party, but a new survey from the non-partisan, and highly accurate, Hendrix College – Talk Business & Politics (Oct. 15-16; 605 likely AR-2 voters) finds him Continue reading >

Bringing Heat Against Hagan in the North Carolina Senate Race

It’s no secret that one of the more disappointing Republican challenger campaigns has been North Carolina state House Speaker Thom Tillis’ US Senate effort. With Sen. Kay Hagan (D) languishing in the low 40s for most of the present two-year cycle, voting liberally while representing a mostly conservative state, and hailing from a place that consistently defeats their incumbent senators (Hagan herself attained office by defeating Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R) in 2008, for example), it seemed like the Tar Heel State posed Republicans their best opportunity to defeat a Democratic incumbent. But the campaign hasn’t quite yet unfolded that way.
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Cold Minnesota’s Hot Races

Northern Minnesota features one of the coldest climates in the United States, but the congressional politics of the region are turning red hot. Two new polls suggest that upsets of Democratic incumbents are now possible in both northwestern District 7 and the commonly called Iron Range District (MN-8) in Minnesota’s northeastern sector.

A new Tarrance Group poll (Oct. 12-14; 300 likely MN-7 voters) gives Republican challenger Torrey Westrom, a state senator, a 44-43 percent slight lead over veteran Rep. Collin Peterson (D). This is in sharp contrast to a previous Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee poll (Survey USA; Oct. 3-6; 545 likely MN-7 voters) that posted the veteran incumbent to a 50-41 percent advantage just 10 days ago.

Moving east, Survey USA yesterday released a new 8th District poll (Oct. 9-12; 555 likely MN-8 voters) that gives Republican challenger Stewart Mills a 47-39 percent lead over Rep. Rick Nolan (D). Previously, the last released data here, a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee survey (Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research; Sept. 25-28; 405 likely voters), posted the incumbent to a similar, but reversed, 48-37 percent advantage.

Both parties are now spending heavily in each northern Minnesota district, with the National Republican Congressional Committee stinging Rep. Peterson personally over his reimbursed expenses Continue reading >

Georgia Senate Turning

Republican David Perdue (above) has fumbled the ball recently, both in accusing opponent Michelle Nunn of having an unexplained role in funneling money to terrorist organizations and then saying he is “proud” of his business record for outsourcing jobs.

Despite the perceived gaffes, the polling was still showing him holding a small lead across the board until now. Survey USA (Oct. 10-13; 563 likely Georgia voters) yesterday released new figures placing Democrat Nunn ahead 48-45 percent, her first lead of the campaign. But, is this the formation of a new trend or a mere blip?

The same poll tested the top of the ticket and the down ballot races. In the governor’s race, S-USA finds what many pollsters have, Continue reading >

House Takes Shape

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

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

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

ME-2

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

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

The best understanding of a political campaign’s status involves analyzing polling trends, rather than individual polls that simply capture the a snapshot of a particular point in time.

Using such a model, we take a look at the key races to determine what the long-term trends may be telling us about the final outcome. According to these trends, even with losses in Kansas and North Carolina, Republicans would likely capture the Senate majority, gaining a net of seven seats, reaching 52 members.

Alaska
Number of polls since Sept. 14: 7
Number of pollsters: 7
Number showing Dan Sullivan (R) leading Sen. Mark Begich (D): 7
Average Sullivan lead: 4.8%

Arkansas
Number of polls since Sept. 14: 7
Number of pollsters: 7
Number showing Tom Cotton (R) leading Sen. Mark Pryor (D): 4
Number showing Sen. Mark Pryor (D) leading Tom Cotton (R): 3
Average Cotton lead: 5.8%
Average Pryor lead: 2.7%

Colorado
Number of polls since Sept. 14: 8
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Nationwide Gubernatorial Polling

Earlier this year, the New York Times and the international polling firm YouGov joined together to conduct an exhaustive series of nationwide political polls. CBS News has now joined them. Over this past weekend, a second wave of gubernatorial polls was released, testing all 36 campaigns between candidates running to become, or remain, the state chief executive. So we now can get a look at new numbers for every gubernatorial race on the ballot.

All of the surveys were conducted from Sept. 27 through Oct. 1, and the sample sizes fell into a range from 264 (Wyoming) to 7,943 (California) respondents, a formula commensurate with the size of the state’s population.

The Tightest Results

All of the races in this sector have been close for weeks and months, in most cases. They are likely to remain so all the way to Nov. 4:

Connecticut – Gov. Dan Malloy (D) vs. Ex-Amb. Tom Foley (R) – 41-41%
Florida – Gov. Rick Scott (R) vs. Ex-Gov. Charlie Crist (D) – 47-44%
Illinois – Gov. Pat Quinn (D) vs. businessman Bruce Rauner (R) – 46-43%
Kansas – Gov. Sam Brownback (R) vs. state Rep. Paul Davis (D) – 45-42%
Maine – Rep. Mike Michaud (D) vs. Gov. Paul LePage (R) – 39-37%
Michigan – Ex-Rep. Mark Schauer (D) vs. Continue reading >

Fox Poll Blitz: Alaska, Ark., Colo., Kan. & Ky.

Fox News, which contracts with both a Democratic and Republican pollster to provide joint data relating to key political races, released a series of surveys yesterday, each providing good news for Republicans. The results may skew slightly Republican because in certain instances they exceed other similarly published survey suggests.

The two firms, neither particularly well known nor quoted in national polling circles, are Anderson Robbins Research (D) and the Shaw Polling Company (R). The two combined to produce polls in five different states during the Oct. 4-7 period. In each place, the sampling universe numbered somewhere between 702 and 739 likely voters. In all but Kentucky, both the Senate and governors’ races were tested. Blue Grass State voters won’t choose a new governor until next year. As identified in the headline, the other four polled states were Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado and Kansas.

Alaska

Here, the Fox poll gave former Attorney General Dan Sullivan (R) a 44-40 percent lead over Sen. Mark Begich (D), which could well be accurate. Sullivan and Begich have Continue reading >