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 >
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 >
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 >