April 17, 2018 — When sponsors of the 2010 California ballot initiative that would change the state’s primary system from a closed one to a structure that sends the top two finishers to the general election regardless of political party affiliation, they believed such an alteration would result in more centrist candidates being elected. Thus, the theory was, a new voting procedure would put the extreme candidates from both parties at a disadvantage.
While it’s debatable that centrists have benefited since the “top-two” system went into effect beginning with the 2012 election, the “jungle primary” is clearly having an effect in the many crucial California congressional campaigns this year. While Golden State Democrats are optimistic they can convert competitive seats in Orange County, recent polling in at least one of these seats reveals no clear advantage even as they mount strong efforts in what have traditionally been Republican districts.
March 28, 2018 — Survey USA came into Ohio to test the Buckeye statewide races — campaigns that have not yet received much attention from national political pollsters. The results provided both expected and surprising tallies.
In the US Senate race, a campaign that has undergone a great deal of change after original candidate Josh Mandel, Ohio’s treasurer who held Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) to a 51-45 percent win in 2012, was forced to exit the re-match because of his wife’s recently discovered serious medical condition. Upon Mandel’s departure, Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth), who had already announced and was actively campaigning for governor, decided to switch gears and entered the Senate race.
Investment banker Mike Gibbons, an ally of Gov. John Kasich (R), was opposing Mandel while the latter man was still in the Senate contest, and continues to battle Rep. Renacci. S-USA tested them all.
According to the polling data (March 16-20; 1,408 likely Ohio voters; 541 GOP likely primary voters; 509 Democratic likely primary voters) Sen. Brown maintains strong, and identical, leads against both Republican contenders. Against Rep. Renacci and Gibbons individually, Sen. Brown’s advantage is 52-38 percent.
Feb. 27, 2018 — Two noteworthy Democrat events happened in San Diego over the past few days.
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)
First, the California Democratic Party state convention, meeting in San Diego over the weekend, actually denied veteran Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) the party endorsement. Though the delegates came close to endorsing state Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), he also fell short.
In the vote to award the party endorsement for the 2018 US Senate race, it was state Sen. de Leon capturing 54 percent of the delegate votes as compared to only 37 percent for incumbent Sen. Feinstein. A total of 60 percent was needed for endorsement. This is not the first time that the liberal grassroots delegates have turned away from Feinstein. According to an NPR account of the convention proceedings, the party delegates chose then-Attorney General John Van de Kamp over Feinstein in the 1990 governor’s race.
The lack of an endorsement will not hurt the senator’s campaign, however. A January Public Policy Institute of California poll (Jan. 21-30; 1,705 California adults) favored Sen. Feinstein over Mr. de Leon, 46-17 percent, when tested in the jungle primary format. She has an even more commanding lead in campaign resources. The year-end Federal Election Commission disclosure report finds her holding just under $10 million in her campaign account as compared to an embarrassingly low $359,000 for de Leon. Continue reading →
June 15, 2017 — The long Georgia special election cycle is mercifully almost over, as this most expensive-ever congressional race draws to a close next Tuesday. Looking at the aggregate spending, this one House campaign will easily exceed $40 million in combined expenditures, probably topping $25 million for Democrat Jon Ossoff’s campaign committee alone when the financial books close at the reporting cycle’s end.
The polls have forecast a close race between Ossoff and former Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) immediately upon both advancing from the April 18 jungle primary. The most recent study, from Survey USA polling for WXIA-TV in Atlanta (June 7-11, 700 registered GA-6 voters; 503 either likely June 20 participants or those who have voted early), finds the two again tied at 47 percent. This is a marked improvement for Handel in comparison to both S-USA’s previous poll and last week’s Abt Associates survey for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, both of which found Ossoff holding a 51-44 percent advantage.
All three of these polls, however, are apparently understating Republican strength. In party segmentation, the GOP/lean GOP cell has only small advantages over the Democrat/Lean Democrat grouping. This is largely due to over-emphasizing the close 2016 presidential race when constructing the respondent pool. Since Georgia does not register voters by political party affiliation, it becomes more difficult to determine an accurate party sample for polling purposes.
May 25, 2017 — A new Survey USA poll (May 16-20; 700 GA-6 adults, winnowed to 549 early and likely special election voters) finds Democrat Jon Ossoff leading former Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) by the largest margin that any of the five post-primary publicly released surveys has yielded for either candidate: seven points, 51-44 percent. But, the sampling group does appear to skew Democratic.
As we know, the Georgia race has become the premier contest during this robust special election season and there is no question it will set a spending record as the most expensive US House campaign in history. Combining candidate and outside group spending, the expenditure totals will easily exceed a combined $35 million. To date, according to research that the Politico publication cited in a May 6 article, the most expensive US House contest was recorded in the 2012 Palm Beach area, Florida campaign (FL-18) between then-Rep. Allen West (R) and challenger Patrick Murphy (D), in which aggregate spending reached $29.6 million.
Democrats chose this race to make a clear stand because the once safe Republican district is showing clear signs of bending in their direction. This became clear in the presidential race when President Trump only secured a 1.5 percentage point victory margin here in a district that, heretofore, had returned big Republican spreads (Mitt Romney scored a 61-38 percent victory margin in 2012, for example).
April 6, 2017 — As has been the case for the past few weeks, the GA-6 special election to replace Health & Human Services Secretary Tom Price (R) has received the most attention of the five special elections currently in-cycle. Two more polls were just released, and the trend line pattern is beginning to stabilize.
Some are speculating that Democrat Jon Ossoff has a chance to win the seat outright on April 18, meaning garnering over 50 percent of the vote even though 18 candidates are on the ballot. Though all polling shows that Ossoff would finish first if the election were today, none find him within striking distance of the 50 percent threshold. Because the pollsters are not including all 18 names on their ballot test questions, for obvious reasons, the top candidates’ support is likely a bit over-stated.
The liberal organization, moveon.org, released a Lake Research poll (March 26-28; 350 likely GA-6 special election voters) that posts Ossoff at 40 percent, far ahead of Republican and former Secretary of State Karen Handel who registers 18 percent. State Sen. Judson Hill (R), former state Sen. Dan Moody (R), and businessman and local city councilman Bob Gray (R) all follow with 8, 7, and 7 percent, respectively. Combining the listed Democrats and Republicans, the Ds would maintain a bare 42-40 percent edge.
Oct. 26, 2016 — It is widely believed that Republicans will keep the House majority in the Nov. 8 election, though Democrats will gain seats. Determining the party division change level is a point of conjecture, however.
Most believe Democrats will gain between 12-15 seats. More optimistic party strategists think they could top 20 districts. Taking the majority would require a net of more than 30 seats, because it also appears a small number of seats are poised to convert to the Republicans.
The Donald Trump presidential scenario continues to unfold, and while some polls actually show him creeping closer on the national popular vote track (Tied – IBD/TIPP, Oct. 18-23, 815 likely US voters; Trump +2 – Rasmussen Reports, Oct. 19-23, 1,500 likely US voters), the all-important state numbers continue to project Hillary Clinton leading in the critical states of Florida and Nevada, while the North Carolina numbers bounce about. Understanding that Trump needs all of the aforementioned states – not to mention each of the 23 normally Republican states, and he has trouble at least in Utah and Arizona – his victory prospects continue to dim daily.
The question looming over the down-ballot races is whether Republican turnout will be demoralized to the point of allowing Democrats to form a wave even though they are following an unpopular Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket.
Nov. 5, 2015 — Republican venture capitalist Matt Bevin, whom the Republican Governors Association abandoned in late summer because of what the organization’s leadership said was a poorly run campaign, came up a big winner Tuesday night in defeating Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway. Bevin’s victory margin was 53-44 percent.
The major institutions from both parties were wrong about the race. The RGA pulling out, only to return with a late $2 million ad buy, and the pollsters providing support for the analysis that Conway had the advantage were proved incorrect by a substantial margin.
About a week before the election both Survey USA and Western Kentucky University found Conway to be holding a 45-40 percent lead, almost the exact opposite of the final result. Vox Populi, which released the poll closest to the election, correctly found Bevin gaining momentum going into Election Day. Their last ballot test projected the candidates tied at 44 percent but the sample seemed to possess a slight Republican skew. The actual results, however, proved the Vox methodology, as it related to turnout model projection, sound.
In winning, Bevin is only the second Republican to become governor since World War II ended. The only other GOP winner was former Rep. Ernie Fletcher (R-KY-6), who held the governor’s mansion for one term after winning the 2003 election.
Nov. 3, 2015 — It’s no secret that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has under-performed in the presidential contest, and the question on most political observers and analysts’ minds is when will he exit the race? Unlike all of the other candidates, Sen. Paul must defend his elected position in 2016. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) originally faced the same decision, but long ago announced that he would forego running for a second senatorial term in order to fully concentrate on his presidential campaign.
A new Vox Populi poll (Oct. 26-27; 618 KY registered voters) surveying the Kentucky electorate on the eve of their gubernatorial election (Tuesday, Nov. 3) also tested Sen. Paul in a hypothetical re-election effort. According to these results, Paul only maintains a 47-38 percent lead over state auditor, Adam Edelen (D), who is merely a prospective Democratic candidate. The Democrats’ first choice to challenge the incumbent is outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear (D), but he has given no indication of having any interest in the federal position when his final term ends in January.
Based upon the governor’s results, the Vox polling sample might have a slight Republican skew, meaning Paul’s situation could conceivably be more precarious. The governor numbers find Republican Matt Bevin tied with Attorney General Jack Conway (44 percent apiece), which is considerably better than the other recently published polls: last week both Survey USA and Western Kentucky University projected Conway as a 45-40 percent leader.
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:
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 >
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 >
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 >
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 >
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.
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 >
A new Survey USA poll (Oct. 1-5; 616 likely South Dakota voters) conducted for various South Dakota news media outlets indicates that former governor and Republican US Senate candidate Mike Rounds faces a potentially imposing threat from an unlikely source.
Since the South Dakota Senate race is one of the three top GOP conversion opportunities that would replace a veteran retiring Democrat in what is normally a red state – in this case three-term Sen. Tim Johnson – Republican majority chances will likely be dealt a death blow if Rounds fails to come through. Now with a controversy brewing Continue reading >