By Jim Ellis
Sept. 30, 2020 — Continuing with the second of our two-part series depicting challengers who have placed even with or ahead of their incumbent opponent at some point since summer began, today we look at the states in the second half of the alphabet. As a reminder, already eight 2020 US House challengers have unseated their incumbent opponents, obviously all in the primaries.
Below is the list of the second group of 11 incumbents, making a total of 22 challengers who have drawn even or led their incumbent opponents:
Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ-2):
• POLL: Public Policy Polling (Sept. 14-17)
Challenger: Amy Kennedy (D), margin: +5 points
• POLL: ALG (Sept. 14-15)
Challenger: Amy Kennedy (D), margin: +4 points
2016 Presidential: Trump: 51-46%
— Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis Township/Atlantic City) was elected as a Democrat in 2018 but changed parties a year later. He now faces the general electorate for the first time as a Republican. At this point, we see two consecutive polls giving challenger Amy Kennedy, the wife of former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), leads at the outer edges of the polling margin of error. We will see a great deal of action here in the closing days.
Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ-7):
• POLL: National Republican Congressional Committee (June 24-26)
Challenger: St. Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R), margin: +2 points
2016 Presidential: Clinton: 49-47%
— The 7th Congressional District of New Jersey, which stretches from the Pennsylvania border to the outskirts of Newark, has been a Republican seat since 1980 until two years ago when freshman Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill) unseated five-term veteran Leonard Lance (R).
State Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr., whose father served as governor for two terms from 1982-1990, returns for another race for federal office. He first ran for the 7th District in 2000, and then the US Senate in 2006, losing both times. Kean has served in the New Jersey legislature for 19 years. Though we’ve only seen one public poll here, this appears to be a toss-up race and more data should soon become available.
Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM-2):
• POLL: Research & Polling (Aug. 26-Sept. 2)
Rep. Torres Small, margin: +2 points
• POLL: Tarrance Group (July 7-9)
• POLL: Public Opinion Strategies (Dec. 18-19, 2019)
Challenger: Ex-St. Rep. Yvette Herrell (R) margin: +2
2016 Presidential: Trump: 50-40%
— This is a re-match of the 2018 open-seat campaign that saw political newcomer Xochitl Torres Small (D-Las Cruces) slip past then-state Rep. Yvette Herrell by a 51-49 percent count. Herrell returns with a strong primary victory over New Mexico Oil & Gas Association president Claire Chase, a candidate who many believed would be a stronger opponent for the congresswoman. Herrell did take the early general election lead, but the later polling has slightly favored the incumbent. The 2nd District is a must-win for Republicans if they are to be competitive for majority status.