Sept. 30, 2016 — Now that all political contests are in full campaign mode, we can report new numbers on five of the most hotly contested House race conversion opportunities for both parties.
One of the few truly swing congressional districts in the country, the expansive eastern Arizona 1st District is again the site of what should be a toss-up political contest. With Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff) vacating the seat to run for Senate, the resulting general election matchup between former state Sen. Tom O’Halleran, who served a portion of his time in the legislature as a Republican, and controversial Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu (R) will be interesting to watch.
While Mitt Romney carried the 1st by a margin of 50-48 percent, a new Global Strategy Group survey (Sept. 22-25; 400 likely AZ-1 voters) finds Hillary Clinton topping Donald Trump, 46-43 percent. The same sample then yields a 45-38 percent O’Halleran lead.
The seven-point Democratic congressional margin equals what the GSG found in August, but the electorate has shifted. While more Republicans now support Babeu, Independent voters are trending toward O’Halleran.
A Democratic victory here, however, merely holds one of the party’s 188 seats and does not cut into the Republican majority.
Sept. 27, 2016 — As the presidential candidates debated last evening, other political news is also is bubbling to the surface. In three House races, recent conflicting polling data in two and the respective party operatives seeing things much differently in a third yield contradictory analyses.
As we’ve reported many times before, the NH-1 race this year represents the fourth consecutive campaign between Rep. Frank Guinta (R-Manchester) and former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D). Guinta won in 2010 and 2014, Shea-Porter in 2012. This year promises to be close again in the New Hampshire district that has defeated more incumbents during the last 10 years than any other congressional seat.
Guinta became vulnerable virtually from the point of his winning the seat back in 2014. A Federal Election Commission violation proved to be a major setback for him in the off-year, but he rebounded to the point of barely winning his primary on Sept. 13 (a 629-vote margin). Democrats rate NH-1 as one of their best conversion opportunities in the nation.
By Jim Ellis
Sept. 21, 2016 — The Aug. 30 Arizona primary gave us the closest congressional primary of this entire election cycle. At the evening’s end, former Go.Daddy.com executive Christine Jones appeared to have enough of a margin to secure the 5th District Republican primary nomination in order to succeed retiring Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Mesa).
Originally, the preliminary Election Day count gave Jones an 876-vote lead. Later that evening, it dropped to 576 votes. We now know that 576 was not quite enough. By the time the absentee and provisional votes were counted, Jones had lost all of her lead and state Senate President Andy Biggs had forged ahead by just nine votes from more than 85,000 cast ballots.
After the official canvass, which ended Sept. 12, the Biggs’ lead had expanded to a whopping 16 votes. The re-count then began, and Biggs gained again, this time reaching a 27-vote edge. This last known total will stand, as yesterday Ms. Jones conceded the election. She will take no further action to prolong the contest.
Sept. 16, 2016 — After two very close New Hampshire Republican primaries were left with remaining votes to count, both received closure.
In the 1st Congressional District, Rep. Frank Guinta (R-Manchester) barely survived his re-nomination challenge. He recorded a 46-45 percent, 649-vote victory over businessman Rich Ashooh. Since the latter man conceded the race, there will be no re-count and Guinta advances to the general election to again face former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-East Rochester) and three independent and minor party candidates.
This will be the fourth consecutive campaign between the two political principals. Guinta defeated Shea-Porter in 2010 and 2014, while she won in 2012. NH-1 has defeated more incumbents during the last 10 years than any congressional district in the country. The 2016 version promises to again be a difficult general election campaign, albeit a shortened one considering the lateness of the New Hampshire primary. Guinta’s 46 percent showing within his own party is clearly a sign of major political weakness, which does not bode well for him in the general election.
Sept. 15, 2016 — Tuesday night’s Granite State primary featured a pair of very close Republican races, one involving an incumbent. It is unclear if either the governor’s contest or the 1st Congressional District race will go to a re-count once the final accounting is recorded.
The Senate nominations, however, are decided. Sen. Kelly Ayotte scored a 79 percent victory in her Republican primary against former state Sen. Jim Rubens and three minor candidates. Gov. Maggie Hassan was unopposed for the Democratic Senatorial nomination. This race will go a long way to deciding which party controls the new Senate majority.
In the 1st Congressional District, before an electorate that has unseated more incumbents than any other CD during the last ten years, incumbent Rep. Frank Guinta (R-Manchester) appears to have barely won re-nomination. From a turnout that broke 55,000 voters, Guinta held just a 661 vote lead over businessman Rich Ashooh with four precincts still outstanding. The congressman’s margin was only a plurality (46 percent), as three minor candidates drew enough support to keep both leaders below the 50% majority mark.