By Jim Ellis
Aug. 30, 2016 — Today, we cover the second half of the competitive Florida campaigns, with just a word about Arizona. The Washington Post ran an article yesterday chronicling Sen. John McCain as being “in the fight of his life.” It does not appear that McCain is in any danger of losing the primary today, and his general election polling puts him in his strongest position of this election cycle. Therefore, the Post story seems ill timed.
Also in Arizona, and not covered yesterday, despite a moderate independent expenditure leveled against Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Prescott), the congressman is also expected to easily survive his primary challenge. Gosar’s opponent, former local official Ray Strauss (R), has attracted just over $100,000 in support of his own campaign, far less than the independent expenditure. The general election will not be competitive.
• FL-9: The new 9th District, which stretches from east Orlando south through Kissimmee, west to Winter Park and then east to the Yeehaw Junction, is a few points less Democratic than the seat Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Orlando) currently represents. His departure to the Senate race makes this one of seven open Florida congressional districts. While Alan Grayson will not represent this district in the next Congress, another Grayson may. A poll released last week found the congressman’s new wife, physician Dena Grayson, leads the Democratic primary field, thus making her at least a slight favorite. Former congressional aide Susannah Randolph and state Sen. Darren Soto are the other viable candidates in the Democratic field. Today’s Dem primary victor will win the seat in November. Safe Democratic
Aug. 26, 2016 — Yesterday, we reported about a Florida shock poll from St. Leo University that projected Donald Trump to be lagging 14 percentage points behind Hillary Clinton, but already the situation has changed.
Now, Florida Atlantic University releases its new data finding Trump actually ahead of Clinton, 43-41 percent. Confirming that trend, the Florida Chamber of Commerce also reported their new data, taken over the Aug. 17-22 period (sample size not available). This poll also finds Trump leading, 44-41 percent.
Methodologically, the set-up between the St. Leo and FAU surveys is similar, though there is no evidence that FAU uses online polling and St. Leo exclusively does. The latter organization’s poll directors were in the field from Aug. 14-18, FAU, Aug. 19-22. The St. Leo sampling universe began with 1,500 Florida adults and winnowed to 1,380 likely voters. FAU’s sample size was 1,200 registered voters. Thus, the time periods and sample sizes are similar.
Aug. 25, 2016 — The St. Leo University Polling Institute dropped a shock poll on the Donald Trump campaign a couple days ago, but the numbers appear inconsistent when comparing other available data.
The Florida poll finds Trump trailing Hillary Clinton by a whopping 52-38 percent margin when counting those individuals leaning to both candidates. Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson receives eight percent, and the Green Party’s Jill Stein attracts just over two percent support. Without leaners, Clinton’s margin is 48-34-6-2 percent consecutively over Trump, Johnson, and Stein. But, these numbers are far from what other pollsters are finding within the Sunshine State.
The St. Leo survey (Aug. 14-18; 1,500 Florida adults, 1,380 likely Florida voters), conducted online “ … uses cutting-edge online methodology … [that draws a] sample from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups.” The quoted passage comes from the institute’s official methodology explanation. St. Leo is a 16,000-plus student Catholic liberal arts university located 35 miles northeast of Tampa that was originally established in 1889, and re-established in 1959. Their Polling Institute was initiated in December of 2013.
Aug. 23, 2016 — The Democratic National Convention controversy surrounding former national party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has dissipated, but her Democratic congressional primary battle against law professor Tim Canova is running in high gear.
With the vote coming on Aug. 30, the South Florida Sun Sentinel newspaper and Florida Atlantic University together sponsored a survey of 400 likely Democratic primary voters in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District. The poll, administered by the Business and Economics Polling Initiative, suggests that Wasserman Schultz will likely win re-nomination, but she may find the final tally uncomfortably close.
According to the respondent group, polled during the Aug. 17-19 period, Rep. Wasserman Schultz leads Canova 50-40 percent, but delving into the poll suggests some interesting patterns that could lead to a much closer final result.
Despite Wasserman Schultz’s national problems, Democrats in her district, as evidenced by this 400-member polling sample, still view her relatively favorably. By a margin of 58:35 percent, these Democrats have a positive impression of the congresswoman. Canova scores in similar territory. The same group rated him 46:22 percent favorable to unfavorable.
Aug. 22, 2016 — Several analysis articles have appeared in the last few days indicating that the House majority might well be in play for the Democrats. Is this reality, wishful thinking, or just a partisan rhetorical ploy to engage the party base?
To re-cap, the Republicans have their largest House majority since the 1928 election, currently standing at 247-R to 186-D, with two Democratic vacancies. In order for the Democrats to secure even a one-seat majority, they would have to re-elect incumbents and candidates in all 188 of their current districts and then convert 30 Republican positions.
Initially, not all 188 Democratic seats are secure. In fact, at least one is surely coming the GOP’s way. After the court-mandated mid-decade redistricting operation in Florida, the 2nd District became a virtual Republican gimme seat. Freshman Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Tallahassee) choosing not to seek re-election guarantees a Republican victory.
Aug. 19, 2016 — Monmouth University (Aug. 13-16; 403 likely Indiana voters; 351 drawn from registered voters list; 52 random digit dial cell phone responses) released their new Indiana voter survey and the results report varying degrees of Republican improvement, though the polling sample may skew slightly toward the GOP.
Indiana is a very important 2016 political state. Among the 23 states that appear to be bedrock Republican for the presidential race — and must all vote for Donald Trump if he is to have any chance of winning the national election — Indiana is the only one to stray away from the party nominee in this century. In 2008, Hoosier State voters chose Barack Obama over John McCain by a 50-49 percent margin.
Therefore, with Indiana being a must-win Republican state for Trump, it likely factored into Trump’s decision to choose its governor, Mike Pence, as his vice presidential running mate.
We continue to see strong evidence that the Democratic move to replace former Rep. Baron Hill (D-Bloomington) for ex-senator and governor Evan Bayh, just hours before the ballot finalization deadline, has made the state pivotal in determining which party controls the new Senate majority. Prior to the Bayh move, it appeared that Rep. Todd Young (R-Bloomington) was cruising to a general election victory, thus keeping retiring Sen. Dan Coats’ (R) seat in the GOP column.