Sept. 24, 2015 — The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) commissioned Harper Polling (HP) to conduct surveys in presumed vulnerable incumbent districts for next year. In five of the situations where the Democrats have already recruited credible candidates, the preliminary data is favorable for the party office holders. Still, an eventual shift in the political tide could easily make these campaigns highly competitive for 2016.
The quintet of released polls feature representatives Martha McSally (R-AZ-2), Mike Bost (R-IL-12), Tim Walberg (R-MI-7), Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21), and John Katko (R-NY-24).
Rep. McSally won the closest of all 2014 elections, a 167-vote victory over then-Tucson Democratic incumbent Ron Barber. Though the Harper data projects McSally with a discernible lead, there is little question that the succeeding 2016 contest will again be close.
All four of these polls were conducted during the Sept. 12-16 period. In Arizona’s 2nd District, 484 likely general election voters were sampled. The sample’s partisan division was a reflective 39 percent Democratic, 36 percent Republican, 25 percent Independent, which is an accurate depiction of the district as a whole. Today, HP finds Rep. McSally holding almost identical leads over her two Democratic opponents, both of whom have state legislative experience.
Sept. 23, 2015 — The rise and fall of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker ultimately proved meteoric in both directions. After rising to the top of the Republican presidential heap earlier in the year, the nominal former front-runner yesterday departed the presidential race.
His decline, largely at the hands of current GOP front-runner Donald Trump, was as far and fast as his original ascension. All recent polls positioned him dropping to three percent or below, about 1/6th the size of his original support base, but the latest CNN/ORC survey (Sept. 17-19; 924 national registered voters; 444 likely Republican primary voters) portended rock bottom. The CNN study revealed that Walker failed to even record a percentage point.
How does Walker leaving the race affect the remaining candidates? If he has his way, others would follow his lead exiting the contest in order to allow those with the true ability to overtake Trump and unify the conservative movement the opportunity to do so.
Walker’s mistakes did not occur on the actual campaign trail. Rather, they were strategic and administrative in nature. Waiting too long to officially enter the race, failing to stand out at the debates, and spending too much money on staff overhead proved to be his downfall even though he uttered only minor public gaffes.
Sept. 22, 2015 — Two national media polls were released this weekend. Though the methodologies employed in each survey were very different, both arrived at remarkably similar conclusions.
NBC News ran an online survey and CNN/ORC conducted one of their regular research studies of the post-debate national Republican electorate. The two found confirmation of what was developing before the debate – the trio of never-elected Republicans: Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, and businesswoman Carly Fiorina attracting more than bare majority support – also happening after the forum.
According to NBC Online, 54 percent of the GOP primary voting sample chose one of the non-politicians. The top elected or former elected official, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, scored a mere eight percent. CNN/ORC reported a similar finding: 53 percent, with one elected official, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, actually breaking into double-digits at 11 percent.
NBC developed their 5,113 person polling sample with SurveyMonkey on Sep. 16-18, from a pool of more than the three million people who answer SurveyMonkey questions each day. The NBC officials classify this as a “non-probability survey” that was demographically weighted with data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Of the 5,113 adult sample, 2,070 are registered or self-identified Republican voters. The reported GOP segment ballot test responses follow:
Sept. 21, 2015 — West Texas Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Lubbock) became the fifth House member this month to announce his retirement, making public his decision yesterday. The congressman is not exercising his prerogative to seek an eighth term in the House, and will end his congressional career when the legislative session concludes at the beginning of 2017.
Neugebauer was first elected in a 2003 special election, replacing resigned-Rep. Larry Combest (R-Lubbock) who had left the House mid-term from his agriculture dominated district. Combest was the former chairman of the House Agriculture Committee when he retired from Congress.
Neugebauer, previously a Lubbock City Councilman, won a difficult special election in a very different 19th CD. At the time, both the cities of Lubbock and Midland were housed in the same CD. Neugebauer defeated Midland businessman Mike Conaway (R) in that election, but the latter would then win his current post-redistricting 11th District in 2004. Conaway is now the current House Agriculture Committee chairman.
The same redistricting plan that elected Conaway forced the just-elected Neugebauer into a district with 13-term Rep. Charlie Stenholm (D-Abilene). But, the new boundary configuration was not kind to the veteran Democrat, and the freshman handily defeated him 58-40 percent. Rep. Neugebauer would never again experience a close election.
Sept. 17, 2015 — Tuesday, before last night’s Republican debate, Public Policy Polling released their new Florida survey (Sept. 11-14; 814 registered Florida voters; 377 likely Republican Florida primary voters; 368 likely Democratic Florida primary voters) and delivered what could be haunting news to both former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio. The new ballot test result finds Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson leading the pair of home state politicians.
According to the PPP numbers, Trump takes 28 percent of the Florida Republican vote, followed by Dr. Carson who secures 17 percent. Trailing in third place with only 13 percent support from his home state GOP electorate is Bush, while Sen. Rubio drops to 10 percent. Though the percentages are not as dramatic as polls witnessed in Iowa and New Hampshire earlier in the week, Trump and Carson total 45 percent of the Sunshine State GOP vote. The third outsider candidate who is part of the trio never holding an elective office, Carly Fiorina, garners seven percent from this sampling universe, which again gives the never-electeds a majority (52 percent).
Looking at the delegate count, the Florida winner takes the primary season’s biggest prize because the state’s 99 Winner-Take-All delegates would be assigned to the person finishing first, regardless of the percentage attained.