Monthly Archives: April 2015

Walker’s Momentum Continues
in Latest Presidential Poll

April 30, 2015 — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has been quiet during the past month, but if the new Iowa Public Policy Polling presidential nomination survey (April 23-26; 462 likely Iowa Republican caucus attenders; 469 likely Iowa Democratic caucus attenders) is any indication his momentum continues, nevertheless.

Walker, who reportedly will announce his presidential candidacy next month, tops this poll of likely Iowa Caucus attenders with 23 percent preference from the sample group respondents. Continuing his upward move since making his own presidential announcement on April 13, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio jaunts into second place but remains a full 10 percentage points behind Gov. Walker.

Jeb Bush, in another disappointing showing, places third at 12 percent, with former Arkansas governor and 2008 Iowa Caucus winner Mike Huckabee and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) rounding out the group in double-digits. Both of these men tie with 10 percent support. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the other formally announced participant among the tested group of nine candidates and potential contenders, scored eight percent.

Another eight individuals, including 2012 Iowa Caucus winner Rick Santorum, were not included on the ballot test question, but PPP did survey their personal approval ratings.
Continue reading >

Nevada Looks to Change
Presidential Nominating System

April 29, 2015 — Majority state legislative Republicans, led by Assembly Speaker John Hambrick, are moving a bill to change Nevada’s presidential nominating system from a caucus to a primary. A companion measure has been introduced in the state Senate.

The initiative, if both houses pass and Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) signs the bill(s) into law, is quite significant considering Nevada is one of just four states the Republican National Committee sanctions for voting prior to March 1, 2016. The measure(s) would schedule the new Republican primary for Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, just ahead of the Saturday (Feb. 27, 2016) South Carolina primary and behind the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary that is tentatively targeted for Tuesday, Feb. 9. The nation’s first caucus vote, held in Iowa, is scheduled to occur on or around Feb. 1, 2016.

The legislators do not appear to be attempting to aid any one particular candidate, though the candidates with more in the way of campaign financial resources should benefit to the detriment of those depending upon a strong grassroots precinct organizations. Rather, their stated goal is to increase voter participation and avoid what state Republican Party chairman Michael McDonald said hurt the state in 2012.
Continue reading >

Another Potential GOP Candidate Moves Toward the Presidential Race

April 28, 2015 — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s (R) last-minute appearance at the Republican Jewish Coalition meeting in Las Vegas this weekend accomplished several goals.

First, considering the mixed messages emanating from several meeting attenders and the governor’s spokespeople as to whether or not he has decided to enter the presidential race, Snyder has managed to make himself, at least in the short-term, part of the presidential conversation.

Second, he clearly scored political points with the group when telling of his “Michigan Story,” a recitation of his record since becoming governor of the economically troubled state in 2011 that included his handling of the Detroit financial collapse.

Third, just before the meeting he formed a federal PAC entitled “Making Government Accountable: The Michigan Story,” his version of the type of entity presidential candidates create to pay for the extensive travel required of national contenders and for purposes of self-promotion.
Continue reading >

Rubio Surges in Presidential Poll

April 27, 2015 — Quinnipiac University conducted a new nationwide poll (April 16-21; 1,323 registered voters; 567 Republican primary voters, 569 Democratic primary voters) and found a new leader among the prospective Republican candidates: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

According to the data, Rubio, clearly receiving a major bump from his major announcement event that earned him positive national media coverage, leads the growing pack of GOP hopefuls but with a small 15 percent preference factor. Fellow Floridian Jeb Bush is next with 13 percent, followed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker who posts 11 percent. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is fourth with nine percent, followed by all the others in lower single-digits.

For the Democrats, it is again Hillary Clinton easily leading Vice President Joe Biden, 60-10 percent. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) follows with eight percent, and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley registers only three percent preference.
Continue reading >

Hillary’s Big, Unreliable Leads

April 24, 2015 — CNN, along with their polling partner, ORC International, conducted a nationwide poll of the presidential contest and, as happens from time to time in modern-day national political polling, the result does not likely reflect the state of the actual electorate.

The poll (April 16-19; 1,018 American adults; 435 self-identified Republicans and Independents who lean Republican; 458 self-identified Democrats and Independents who lean Democratic) projects Hillary Clinton to be holding huge leads over the major Republican candidates in hypothetical general election pairings.

In the GOP primary, a very tight race is forecast with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush leading Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker by five points, and senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) together by six. Another 13 candidates were tested, but all of these attracted only single-digit preference. But, what is consistent in all national polls, as was found here, even when Bush leads the pack, he is still generally below 20 percent (in this case, 17 percent). This, for a candidate having virtually universal name identification with the vast majority of respondents expressing an opinion of him.
Continue reading >

Is McCollum Poised to Make a
Comeback in the Florida Senate?

April 23, 2015 — A new but familiar name has surfaced in the open Florida Senate candidate conversation. Beginning the process of deciding whether to enter another campaign is former congressman and Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum (R).

Out of office since losing the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary to current Gov. Rick Scott, McCollum was assumed to be retired from elective politics after spending 20 years in the House, four more as attorney general, and losing two US Senate campaigns and a governor’s race.

A new poll, however, is clearly one of the elements making him think about embarking upon yet another political campaign. The new Mason-Dixon Polling & Research survey (April 14-16; 400 Florida Republican primary voters; 400 Florida Democratic primary voters) finds McCollum holding a significant lead over the rest of the prospective Republican primary field.
Continue reading >

The Manchin Reverberations

April 22, 2015 — Now that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has ended speculation about re-running for governor in his home state next year, a game of political musical chairs will soon begin in West Virginia. But, more importantly, the Manchin decision to stay where he is and seek re-election in 2018 vastly improves Democratic prospects of re-taking the Senate.

With the Republican legislature beginning to move legislation that would take Senate appointment power away from the governor, it was becoming apparent that Manchin vacating the seat would very likely allow Republicans a prime conversion opportunity in a 2017 special election. Effectively, such a move would have increased the number of seats Democrats need for a return to Senate majority status from 4 or 5, to 5 or 6. The lower number represents the required conversion total if a Democrat holds the White House in 2016, while the larger number comes into play if the eventual GOP presidential nominee wins. Obviously, it is in the party leaders’ interest to keep Manchin where he is, and they no doubt weighed in heavily upon him.

Since Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) is ineligible to seek re-election next year, we now have a competitive open seat gubernatorial race. Though Democrats have lost virtually everything they once held – all but Manchin’s Senate seat and this governor’s office – a West Virginia open statewide race can certainly be competitive.
Continue reading >

New Marquette Poll Shows
Johnson Down Big in Wisconsin

April 21, 2015 — Polling has been unkind to several senators during the past few days. Last week we reported on research studies showing both Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D) and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) trailing hypothetical opponents by very small margins. While a new Marquette University Law School survey finds yet another incumbent falling behind a challenger, this time the margin is anything but slight.

The Marquette data (April 7-10; 803 registered Wisconsin voters) finds former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold (D) leading incumbent Ron Johnson (R-WI) by a whopping 54-38 percent margin. Johnson unseated Feingold six years ago by a five percentage point spread and the former senator appears well positioned to re-enter elective politics.

Though Feingold has said little about the impending 2016 Senate race and has certainly not announced any intention to run, leaders from both parties expect him to again become a candidate. In February, Feingold resigned his appointed position as a State Department US Envoy to the African Great Lakes region, and many observers are surprised he has not yet announced or at least signaled his intention to run for the Senate. Polls such as the Marquette survey may hasten his decision.
Continue reading >

Ayotte vs. Hassan in NH: Dead Heat

April 20, 2015 — Since 2006, New Hampshire politics has been volatile to the point that no incumbent – Democrat or Republican – can be considered safe. Such is the recent history that first term Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) faces as she prepares for re-election next year.

Gov. Maggie Hassan (D), despite a strong public approval record for most of her first two-year term, struggled to a 52-47 percent victory over unknown businessman Walt Havenstein (R) in the mid-term election.

Under this backdrop, Public Policy Polling conducted a survey of New Hampshire voters (April 9-13; 747 registered New Hampshire voters) and found the two, predictably, locked in a dead heat. According to PPP, if the election were now, Hassan would nip the Senator 46-45 percent.

Ayotte’s ballot test standing is slightly better than her job approval score; the latter showing her mildly upside down, 40:43 percent. By contrast, Hassan’s gubernatorial job performance rates a strong 53:34 percent. Interestingly, this may suggest a more troubling trend for Hassan, leading one to conclude that a significant number of voters who think she is performing well as governor are not supporting her for Senate.
Continue reading >

Coffman Over Bennet in Colorado Q-Poll, But are the Numbers Reliable?

April 17, 2015 — Quinnipiac University released a new Colorado statewide poll midweek (March 29-April 7; 894 Colorado registered voters) that surprisingly projects Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO-6) with a three-point lead over Sen. Michael Bennet (D), 43-40 percent, in a hypothetical 2016 US Senate contest.

Rep. Coffman has survived two difficult re-election battles since a court-drawn redistricting plan left him with largely a Democratic suburban Denver district. Though he has won against significant odds in both 2012 and 2014, he failed to reach 50 percent in the presidential year election.

Coffman ran tough campaigns both times, and spent a combined $8.4 million in securing his last two House terms. Originally winning a safe Republican seat in 2008, he was easily re-elected two years later (66-31 percent). Redistricting radically changed the 6th District after the 2010 census gave the seat 42 percent new territory and transformed it from a Republican district to one that supported President Obama with 54 and 52 percent of the vote in 2008 and 2012, respectively.

Based upon his record as a campaigner and prodigious fundraiser, the congressman appears to be the top choice of the National Republican Senatorial Committee leadership to challenge Sen. Bennet next year. Coffman, however, is not providing much indication that he is eager to run statewide, but polls such as this might provide greater encouragement. The congressman’s wife, Cynthia Coffman, was elected state attorney general last year, and she is also mentioned as a potential senatorial candidate. But, she is evidently less inclined than her husband to make the race.
Continue reading >

Manchin Polls Governor’s Race
In West Virginia

April 16, 2015 — Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), making no secret of the fact that he is considering returning to his former job as governor next year, just released the results of an internal poll that places him in very strong political position.

One might believe, since the Manchin campaign organization commissioned the Global Strategy Group (GSG) poll, that such favorable data might be skewed. A companion Harper Polling (HP) independent survey dissuades such an argument, however, confirming the results with their own similar numbers.

But the West Virginia political intrigue isn’t derived from Manchin’s prospects of being elected governor. Rather, greater speculation surrounds what may happen with his Senate seat should Manchin win the 2016 election. The senator and former governor says he will announce whether he will seek the governorship before Memorial Day.

The Manchin GSG poll was conducted during the March 15-18 period and questioned 600 West Virginia registered voters. Though now a month old, the senator’s political operatives released the data just this week. Whether the questionnaire explored the race more deeply is not certain, but the answers to only two Manchin-related queries were released. GSG tested Manchin against Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R), a potential general election opponent. The result gave the Democrat an overwhelming 60-30 percent lead. Harper Polling detected a similar conclusion: Manchin leading 58-29 percent.
Continue reading >

Florida Senate Chain Reaction

April 15, 2015 — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), as expected, officially announced his presidential campaign, which also put into motion the political war for what will be an open Florida Senate seat.

We already know that Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18) is in the race, but with Rubio now out of the coming Senate contest the Republicans can start to make moves of their own.

Staying with the Democrats, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL-9) continues to confirm interest in the race, and drops big hints that he will enter. He has said repeatedly that an early start does not equate to winning an election, so it is highly possible that he will begin his own campaign later in the year. Because he has the ability to self-fund, immediately constructing an external fundraising operation is not as important in this instance as for someone without such ability. Grayson appeals to the hard left, which is of significance in a Democratic primary battle.

In reviewing where the Florida Republicans stand, several decisions already have been made. As we reported yesterday, state CFO Jeff Atwater, after appearing to take every necessary step to prepare for a Senate race, abruptly announced that he would not run. Since he appeared to be performing best in preliminary polling, his absence now creates a wide-open political playing field.
Continue reading >

Wrong Candidate in
The Nevada Senate?

April 14, 2015 — Retiring Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) already have endorsed former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to replace the outgoing Minority Leader, but have they chosen the right person? A new poll casts doubt.

The Nevada consulting group calling themselves “Silver Bullet” conducted a poll of between 500-600 Nevada Democrats (the exact number of people polled is not specified) on April 7 and found that Masto is not the top choice of Nevada Democratic primary voters, and by quite a margin. The only other survey question asked presidential preference, and the Silver Bullet conclusions appear consistent with other independent data giving their polling methodology some credibility. According to the result, Hillary Clinton would lead Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) among Nevada Democrats, 55-14 percent.

Instead of professing support for Masto in the Senate race, the respondents, on a 44-20 percent split, prefer Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV-1). For her part, Titus, a former gubernatorial nominee, is clearly sending signals that she would like to run. Saying publicly that she is seriously considering entering the Senate campaign, while her Washington fundraising staff members aggressively tell PAC directors that the congresswoman could well become a Senate candidate, suggests a Titus for Senate campaign is certainly within the realm of possibility.
Continue reading >

While Other Candidates Opt In,
Four Decide to Opt Out of Running

April 13, 2015 — While individuals such as Hillary Clinton and senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) are officially becoming presidential candidates, several potential US Senate and House candidates pursued a different course over the weekend.

Florida Senate

For Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater (R), Sen. Rubio’s presidential announcement appeared to provide him an opening to run for what will now be an open US Senate seat next year. But, Atwater is rather surprisingly backing away from entering the race.

Despite early polls suggesting he might be the strongest Republican who could attempt to succeed Rubio and with supporters already forming a federal Super PAC on his behalf, Atwater, citing family considerations, announced over the weekend that he will not enter the Senate race next year.
Continue reading >