June 26, 2015 — Former Sen. Kay Hagan (D), who unseated then-Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R) in 2008 only to lose six years later to Sen. Thom Tillis (R), 47-49 percent, Wednesday announced that she would not challenge Sen. Richard Burr (R). Polling consistently made her the strongest Democrat to challenge the two-term incumbent Republican, but even she was nowhere near upset position.
Democrats do not yet have a viable candidate in the state that has defeated the most senators since the 1960s.
Red and Blue Recruitment
As we approach the midway point of the off-year, it is a good time to check how the two parties are faring in regard to candidate recruitment. A quick, cursory glance tells us that each side has a success ratio of about .500. Continue reading >
The calendar is obviously not stopping Public Policy Polling from examining the impending 2016 campaign. In the company’s home state of North Carolina, an electorate they survey monthly, both Sen. Richard Burr (R) and Gov. Pat McCrory (R) are scheduled to stand for re-election.
In polling the state, PPP looked at defeated Sen. Kay Hagan as the Democrats’ most prominent 2016 candidate, at least for the Senate seat. The outgoing senator has not yet commented about what her future political plans may include, but her presence on a hypothetical ballot is a good indicator against which to measure Burr’s political strength.
For governor, the top Democrat appears to be four-term Attorney General Roy Cooper. Previously mentioned as a possible candidate for other statewide positions, Cooper has stayed put for what will be 16 years, racking up strong re-election percentages while doing so. At the present time he appears to be preparing for a gubernatorial run.
PPP’s Dec. 4-7 survey (823 registered North Carolina voters) finds Sen. Burr leading Hagan 46-43 percent. He scores identical 44-38 percent marks when paired with state Treasurer Janet Cowell (D) and current US Transportation Secretary and former Charlotte mayor, Anthony Foxx (D). Neither of the latter individuals has given any indication that they are considering launching a senatorial campaign challenge, however. Continue reading >
Now that the 2014 election is finally ending, speculation begins to build around the next in-cycle group of seats.
With Gov. Sean Parnell (R) conceding defeat to Independent Bill Walker in Alaska and the two outstanding California congressional races likely soon ending in razor-thin wins for representatives Ami Bera (D-CA-7) and Jim Costa (D-CA-16), the 2014 cycle will conclude on Dec. 6 when the Louisiana run-offs are decided. Then, we can look forward to almost non-stop coverage of the impending presidential race in addition to frequent US Senate analyses.
Since Republicans will have a majority of either 53 or 54 seats depending upon whether Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) or Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6) wins the Louisiana campaign, the GOP will likely be forced to defend 24 of 34 states up for election in two years. Therefore, Democrats will have ample opportunity to reclaim their lost advantage, which is the storyline we can expect to hear from the major media outlets.
With this backdrop, some senators are already drawing speculation about potential opponents. Illinois is likely at the top of the Democrats’ target list since the state votes heavily with their party, particularly in presidential years. Sen. Mark Kirk (R) started the ball rolling early this week by stating unequivocally that he intends to seek Continue reading >
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. Continue reading >
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. Continue reading >
Much has been written about which party will control the US Senate in the next Congress and, with seven pure toss-up races on the political board, there’s plenty of room for conjecture on both sides of the ideological aisle.
Let’s take a look at the aggregate Senate campaign picture, remembering that the Republicans must retain all of the seats they currently possess (15 in this election cycle) and convert six Democratic states just to reach the minimum majority level. Democrats will maintain control if the two parties deadlock at 50-50 (including the Independents who will caucus with one party or the other). The Dems hold power in such a situation because Vice President Joe Biden (D), the constitutional Senate president, will break any tie vote in his party’s favor.
The model also assumes Republican conversion victories in three Democratic retirement seats, Montana (Sen. John Walsh), South Dakota (Sen. Tim Johnson), and West Virginia (Sen. Jay Rockefeller). A three-way contest in South Dakota could Continue reading >
As we pass Labor Day and enter into Election 2014 stretch drive mode, it appears that four US Senate races are polling within one point. In Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana and North Carolina, a polling conglomeration over the last several weeks points to consistently dead-even contests.
Another race, in Alaska, could join this group, but their late primary (Aug. 19) has only yielded an official nominee for a short period. Once the polling crystallizes around Sen. Mark Begich (D) and former Attorney General and Natural Resources Department director Dan Sullivan (R) as the two official candidates, a more consistent close race will likely formulate. The recent polling history, virtually all of which was conducted before the state primary, has yielded inconsistent results.
Right now, it is clear that Republicans will gain seats in the US Senate, but will they score well enough on the conversion front to wrest a small majority away from the Democrats? Such is the major question that will be answered in the next two months.
If one considers that the GOP will likely hold its two vulnerable seats in Georgia Continue reading >
In Hawaii, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI-1) announced yesterday that she will concede the contested Senate Democratic primary. The final unofficial count gives appointed Sen. Brian Schatz a 1,769-vote advantage, which is likely too large for any challenge to overturn.
Though Hanabusa may have grounds for contesting the results – ballots not counted together, extending the election for only certain people, etc. – she has decided not to pursue what are probably long-shot legal options. But, challenging Schatz again may not be out of the question. Because 2014 voters will only choose a senator to fill the last two years of the late Sen. Daniel Inouye’s (D) final term in office, Schatz, now the prohibitive favorite to win in November, will again be on the ballot in 2016.
Monthly, Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling surveys the tight US Senate race featuring incumbent Kay Hagan (D) as she attempts to win a second six-year term. The August PPP poll (Aug. 14-17; 856 likely North Carolina voters) gives the senator a 42-38 percent lead over Republican nominee Thom Tillis, the Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives. Libertarian Party candidate Sean Haugh receives eight percent support. Continue reading >
The conservative Civitas Institute tested the North Carolina electorate (National Research, June 18-19 & 22; 600 registered North Carolina voters – live calls, 25 percent cell phone users) and found that Sen. Kay Hagan (D) is leading her Republican opponent, state House Speaker Thom Tillis, but her advantage is tentative.
The 42-36 percent result again posts Hagan in the low 40s, very bad territory for any incumbent. The fact that she has a six-point edge over Tillis is obviously an improvement from her prior poll standing, but this probably has more to do with an unpopular state legislature than Tillis, personally. It appears the House Speaker’s numbers always tumble when this legislature is in session, as it is now. The fact that he is one of the body’s key leaders, however, is a major negative, so Tillis’ ballot test deficit certainly cannot be discounted.
Sen. Hagan is generally considered to be the most vulnerable of all Democratic incumbents standing for re-election. She represents one of only two states that changed its 2008 vote away from Barack Obama, and doesn’t have the president on the ballot with her as she did six years ago to maximize the important minority voter Continue reading >
The National Republican Congressional Committee just released their upcoming media buys, which total $18 million across 26 different districts. Much more will be spent, but this opening public salvo provides us a window into where the committee sees opportunity or the need to defend.
The top incumbent defense is found in Colorado’s 6th District, where three-term Rep. Mike Coffman (R) faces former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D) in a battle where the combined candidate fundraising total already exceeds $6 million. The NRCC bought media time in the Denver broadcast market worth $3.3 million.
The 6th District race is turning into the most expensive congressional campaign in the country. Located in the eastern and northeastern Denver suburbs, the 6th is now a marginal political district that is beginning to trend more Democratic despite it electing a Republican congressman. Coffman was re-elected in a post-redistricting 2012 campaign, but with only 48 percent of the vote. The midterm Continue reading >
Now that the May 6 primaries are over, we see more verification that federal incumbents are returning to pre-2006 victory percentages, despite almost universally negative opinions about Washington.
As we all know, poll after poll is showing record disapproval of Congress, as an institution and pertaining to the leadership of both parties, but challenged incumbents in early primaries are recording stellar electoral results, nonetheless.
Below is the list of incumbents challenged in their own primaries on Tuesday night, along with their impressive victory percentages in most instances.
District 3: Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R) – 81% against two opponents
District 4: Rep. Todd Rokita (R) – 71% against one opponent
District 5: Rep. Susan Brooks (R) – 73% against two opponents
District 7: Rep. Andre Carson (D) – 89% against three opponents
District 8: Rep. Larry Bucshon (R) – 75% against one opponent
District 9: Rep. Todd Young (R) – 79% against two opponents
The first in a series of consecutive May primary weeks went solidly for the incumbents last night, as all US House members facing intra-party challengers, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH-8), rode to victory.
In the preponderance of cases, the incumbents won in the normal landslide proportion one would expect in primary elections. In only three instances, those of representatives Renee Ellmers (R-NC-2), Walter Jones Jr. (R-NC-3) and David Joyce (R-OH-14), did the incumbents fail to break 60 percent. Speaker Boehner, after campaigning hard and hitting the television airwaves to rebuff his under-financed but creative opponents, scored 69 percent of the vote.
The best news of the evening for Republicans came in North Carolina, where state House Speaker Thom Tillis exceeded the 40 percent threshold to win the party’s US Senate nomination outright. Late polling clearly suggested that Tillis would place first in the field of eight candidates, but questions remained as to whether he would Continue reading >
Two of the more important Senate races in this 2014 election cycle are occurring in Georgia and North Carolina. Both states are in play for the general election; each party holds one of the two seats, both are major targets, and crowded Republican primaries in the pair of places will soon be clarified.
If several new polls are accurate, certain candidates may be breaking away from their respective packs as we approach the May 6 North Carolina primary and the May 20 vote in Georgia. If a candidate exceeds 40 percent of the NC vote, that person is nominated. In the Peach State, it takes the traditional 50 percent plus one vote to claim the nomination outright.
Georgia Primary: May 20 – Run-off, July 22
This is one of two Republican seats, Kentucky (Mitch McConnell) being the other, where Democrats are competitive. The Republican primary features five accomplished candidates, all of whom can construct a reasonable path to victory. A run-off is a virtual certainty here, but many scenarios exist about which two Republicans Continue reading >
A congressional nomination will be decided tomorrow in the Washington, DC suburbs of Northern Virginia. Expectations suggest a limited number of Republican voters will participate in what is termed a “firehouse” primary.
The characteristics of such a voting event are unique. First, only 11 polling places will be open throughout the entire district: just one apiece in Clarke, Frederick, and Prince William Counties, and in the cities of Manassas, Manassas Park, and Winchester. Fairfax County will feature two polling locations, and Loudoun County, a locality housing more than 350,000 residents, will have only three. Instead of voting in one’s own neighborhood as is normally the case, individuals will have to travel, in some instances more than 20 miles, and stand in what could be a long line because there are so few polling places. Thus, participating in this election will take a much greater commitment from every voter than in normal primaries. Continue reading >
It is becoming clear who the Democrats don’t want Sen. Kay Hagan to face in November. The Senate Majority PAC, conducting an independent expenditure operation in the North Carolina Senate race, just unleashed a major attack ad against state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Cornelius). This is their second wave of commercials that individually targets Tillis.
The Tar Heel State race is one of the key contests that will likely determine which party captures the Senate majority. Sen. Hagan seeks a second term after defeating then-Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R) in the 2008 general election, but is having a difficult time breaking away from the pack in this campaign. Poll after poll shows the incumbent lagging slightly behind all of her Republican opponents, even though virtually all of them have low name identification. Clearly, a sitting senator trailing candidates such as Heather Grant, an Iraq war veteran and nurse, while only consistently scoring in the low 40 percentile range is cause for concern.