Midway through the election cycle it appeared a solid bet that at least four candidates who would normally be favorites were headed for losses. But, predictions of such demise are now being proven premature.
First-term North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan (D) appeared doomed, unable to break 42 percent support in any poll, and was clearly sliding down a pathway toward defeat.
Democrats, in the person of Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA-1), were odds-on favorites to replace retiring Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin (D) but he, too, has experienced a reversal of political fortunes.
Republican Bruce Rauner was running consistently ahead of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and was on a clear track toward victory even in the heavily Democratic state. But the electoral patterns are beginning to reverse, and now Quinn has a fighting chance to survive.
Upon his indictment on federal charges relating to his restaurant business dealings prior to being elected to Congress, Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY-11) looked to be headed toward the political scrap heap. But he is proving a much tougher “out” than the local Democrats originally perceived.
Now within a month of Election Day, none of those early suppositions appear to be coming true. In fact, it’s quite possible each of the four could defy the odds.
Though Sen. Hagan still polls well below 50 percent, she has now taken a discernible lead in her battle with Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis. In the last 11 published polls throughout the month of September, the incumbent has led in all from a range of two to 10 percentage points. She reached or exceeded 46 percent in six of the 11 surveys. Tillis consistently lagged in high 30s and low 40s.
The Hagan race in North Carolina is a huge turnaround for Democrats. Before, she was considered to be the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent seeking re-election, but not any more.
Conversely, Iowa appears headed in the opposite direction. State Sen. Joni Ernst (R) has now taken a lead over Rep. Braley in most polling, and the Democrats are scrambling. Attempting to counter strong Ernst results from the Des Moines Register, hardly a conservative publication but whose pollster finds the Republican leading Democrat Braley by six points, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Senate Majority PAC liberal advocacy organization, countered with some hastily commissioned polls (from Harstad and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner) that show the two candidates locked in a dead heat. The fact that the best they can do is tie an opponent who Braley was thought to easily defeat again suggests that this surprising race may be slipping away for good.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) was left for being politically dead earlier in the year. Businessman Bruce Rauner capitalized on his big Republican primary victory last March and held consistent polling leads just until recently. Now, Gov. Quinn is rebounding. Three new polls, all released yesterday, each show a different result. The fact that Quinn is not losing in two of the three latest surveys shows how far his political comeback is taking him. While considered almost a sure loser earlier in the year, Gov. Quinn now has a fighting chance to survive.
Of yesterday’s three polls, only one, from Republican pollster Communications Express (Sept. 30; 1,350 likely Illinois voters) continues to place Rauner in first position. According to this survey, the challenger has a 43-37 percent lead. But, Republican pollster Fabrizio Lee (Sept. 27-28; 600 likely Illinois voters) actually finds Gov. Quinn leading the campaign, 41-39 percent. Finally, Battleground Polling (Sept. 23-24; 408 likely Illinois voters) finds the two candidates tied at 43 percent.
From what originally looked like a slam-dunk Republican challenger victory is now anything but.
Recchia: It’s A Neighborhood Thing
Polling also surprisingly shows Rep. Michael Grimm locked in a dead heat with New York City Councilman Domenic Recchia (D-Brooklyn). Though Grimm has possibly enough momentum to survive, he has little in the way of campaign resources. Recchia’s money advantage may pull him across the finish line in early November, but not without a spirited fight from the wounded Rep. Grimm.
Above is a new Recchia ad, considered positive … at least by New York standards.
Once again, we see trends this year in certain places that didn’t appear possible only a few weeks ago. It appears this election cycle will produce a number of topsy-turvy results.