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 >
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 >
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 >
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 >
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 >
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 >