Category Archives: Senate

NJ Senate Race: Already Over

Newark Mayor Cory Booker

Newark Mayor Cory Booker

The New Jersey special primary election to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) is scheduled for next Tuesday (Aug. 13), but according to Quinnipiac University’s final poll before the vote, the race is virtually over.

When Lautenberg died in early June and Gov. Chris Christie (R) scheduled the special election to choose a replacement, the early polling showed Newark Mayor Cory Booker with numbers approaching or breaking 50 percent of the Democratic vote with the other candidates, representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ-6), Rush Holt (D-NJ-12), and state House Speaker Sheila Oliver, barely breaking past 10 percent or registering only in single digits.

In the just-released Q-Poll (Aug. 1-5; 2,042 registered New Jersey voters; 388 likely Democratic primary voters) the results have barely changed. According to the data, Booker commands support from 54 percent of the polling sample versus just 17 percent for Rep. Pallone, 15 percent for Rep. Holt, and only 5 percent for Speaker Oliver. With less than a week to go, it’s hard to conceive of any scenario that does not result in a Booker victory.

Forecasting toward the special general to be held Oct. 16, the Democrat vs. Republican results are similar. With former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan enjoying a commanding lead in the special Republican primary, a projected Booker-Lonegan pairing appears to be no contest. According to the Q-Poll, Booker would lead such a campaign 54-29 percent.

Though this primary battle has lacked serious competition, there are still some interesting points to be made. First, as it relates to the Q-Poll, there does appear to be some potential irregularities in the polling sample. With 2,042 people being interviewed, it’s hard to see how only 388 and 267 of them identify themselves as either Democratic or Republican primary voters, respectively. One would expect at least the Democratic number to be much  Continue reading >

Pryor vs. Cotton: It’s On in Arkansas

In what could become the premier Senate race of the election cycle, Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR-4), as expected, officially announced his challenge campaign for the US Senate last evening. The freshman congressman spoke before a boisterous crowd in his small hometown of Dardanelle, just off Interstate 40 between Little Rock and Ft. Smith.

Anticipating the move, incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor (D) immediately launched a television attack ad (below), using the typical Democratic campaign strategy of painting his Republican opponent as favoring across the board reduction in government benefits from the farm bill to Medicare to Social Security:

http://youtu.be/OTZpvmkVRYQ

Polling here is already underway at a brisk pace. During the last two weeks, three polls have been released. The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) first tested the Arkansas electorate (July 23-27; 729 registered Arkansas voters) and found Sen. Pryor to be leading Rep. Cotton 43-35 percent.

The Magellan Strategies organization (July 30-31; 1,600 registered Arkansas voters) just concentrated on Sen. Pryor’s re-elect score, not even bringing forth a ballot test question. They then added push questions after the original query. According to the initial results, 37 percent of the people would vote to re-elect Pryor while 47 percent would prefer to support someone new. After posing negative push questions that attack the senator for “adding to the deficit,” being the “deciding vote for Obamacare,” and “voting for President Obama’s 93 percent of the time” the second re-elect question swings to only 30 percent supporting Pryor’s re-election and 59 percent wanting a replacement.
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Polling Louisiana & Arkansas

LA-ARK

Magellan Strategies just polled two 2014 focal point state electorates from which we will be hearing a great deal in the coming months. Both the Arkansas and Louisiana statewide races could well determine the outcome of the battle for the Senate majority. Realistically, if the Republicans hope to have any chance of capturing control of the body late next year they will have to defeat three-term incumbent, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor (D) who is completing his second term in office.

The Magellan approach is interesting in that they asked virtually the same questions in each state during the same time period, and did not test either Sen. Landrieu or Pryor in a ballot test configuration. Rather, they concentrated solely on the incumbents’ re-elect score.

In both instances, the pollsters asked the respondents whether the incumbent in their state deserves re-election in 2014. After answering, several “push” questions were presented in order to determine attitudes and feelings about their senator’s support for the major Obama Administration policies. Then, a second re-elect was asked.

These are the push questions common to both surveys. In each instance, the respondent is asked if he/she is more or less likely to support the senator after hearing the statement:

1) The senator recently voted to support immigration reform legislation that offers amnesty to illegal aliens.

2) The senator supported President Obama’s agenda more than 95 percent (Landrieu) or 93 percent (Pryor) of the time.

3) The senator cast the deciding vote for Obamacare, which in some states has increased insurance premiums by 88 percent for people who buy their own insurance.

Here’s how the two senators fared:
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New Hampshire Volatility – Again

Over the past four election cycles, no state has generated more political ups and downs than the Granite State of New Hampshire.

During that time more US House incumbents have been defeated than re-elected, an extraordinary statistic for any state. (In the stretch from 2006 through 2012 in the state, five House incumbents have lost their seats and only two have been re-elected consecutively. Two incumbents have both lost and won during this span of elections.) New Hampshire voters have also defeated a US Senator and a House incumbent attempting to win the statewide office. They have also changed majorities in the state legislative chambers virtually at will.

Now the University of New Hampshire just released a poll (July 18-29; 516 New Hampshire adults) testing their federal incumbents’ job approval scores and again found signs that the electorate may already be getting restless.

It is wise to approach the UNH polls with caution, however. First, the University’s polling institute hasn’t been among the most accurate of pollsters during that past few years. It is fair to consider their numbers with skepticism. Second, as is typical for their polls, the sampling period of 12 days is much too long, especially for a sample size of just 516 respondents. Finally, this particular poll only tested “adults” and not registered voters.

That being said, the data does give us some insight as to how the four all-female federal office holders are faring.

The Senators

The strongest is Sen. Jeanne Shaheen who stands for her first re-election next year. In 2006, after serving from 1997-2003 as the state’s governor, Shaheen defeated then-Sen. John E. Sununu (R), 52-45 percent after losing to him 47-51 percent in 2002. According to the poll results, Sen. Shaheen scores a strong 53:23 percent positive to negative on the personal favorability scale. Fifty percent of the sample believes she deserves to be re-elected in 2014, while 34 percent say they would prefer a generic “someone else.” Her re-elect score among Democrats is 78 percent. Among the self-identified Republicans, 27 percent favor her re-election.

Though first-term Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) is not on the ballot again until 2016, she was also tested. Her favorability score is a less impressive 41:32 percent, down from 50:25 percent from the last UNH poll conducted in April.
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A Trio of Political Icons Pass

It’s said that famous people die in threes, and that certainly happened again this week in the world of politics. Rather extraordinarily, the youngest of the trio was 96 years of age.

Former Virginia Sen. Harry F. Byrd Jr. (I), who served from 1965 to 1983) passed away on Tuesday at the age of 98.

Ex-Rep. Lindy Boggs (D-LA-2), who succeeded her late husband in Congress back in 1973 and served nine terms, passed away from natural causes at the beginning of the week. She was 97.

And William Scranton, the former Pennsylvania Republican governor and congressman who served as the US Ambassador to the United Nations, also died this week in California at the age of 96.

Sen. Byrd was appointed to his seat, succeeding his father, who was forced to resign in 1965 due to health issues. He then died in 1966 of brain cancer. The younger Sen. Byrd went into the Senate as a Democrat, but his conservative philosophy on fiscal issues led him to leave the party in 1970 to become an Independent. Until his death this week, Byrd was the oldest living former senator.

Boggs succeeded her husband, Hale Boggs, who was the House Majority Leader. He died in a plane crash over a remote area of Alaska, flying with his Democratic colleague Rep. Nick Begich. The late Begich was the father of current US Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK). After retiring from the House, President Clinton appointed the former congresswoman as the US Ambassador to the Holy See, a position she would hold from 1997-2001.

Like the other two luminaries who passed, Scranton was from a political family. His grandfather, Joe Scranton, served five non-consecutive terms in Congress. Scranton’s son, William W. Scranton III, later became Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor.

Camp Considers Michigan Senate Race

Rep. Dave Camp

Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI-4)

House Ways & Means Committee chairman Dave Camp (R-MI-4) confirms that he has made an about-face and is seriously considering running for Michigan’s open US Senate seat. Back in March when Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) announced that he would not seek re-election in 2014, Rep. Camp immediately declined to run statewide, preferring to concentrate on his duties in the House and driving tax reform proposals.

Now, the 11-term representative himself, as well as several people close to him, acknowledge that there is a distinct possibility he may oppose consensus 2014 Democratic candidate Gary Peters, a fellow Michigan congressman, for Levin’s seat.

Currently, former two-term Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land is the only announced significant Republican candidate. Her response to the pending Camp candidacy was a bit unusual and spread speculation that she might withdraw in favor of the north-central state congressman. Land stated, in non-committal fashion, that she will “wait to see what happens” when asked if she would oppose Camp in a Republican senatorial primary.

So far, most political observers view Land as a weak candidate despite her winning two previous statewide campaigns. She has made no significant strides on the fundraising circuit. On the other hand, Camp, with over $3 million in his political account, has a perch to raise whatever he needs to run a competitive Wolverine State campaign. The race instantly becomes more interesting and aggressively fought if he were to become a candidate.

For his part, Rep. Peters (D-MI-14) has raised $1.42 million for the year, and reports just under $1.8 million cash-on-hand. Michigan normally trends Democratic, so Peters is thought to have the advantage in a normal election year, but we have to turn the clock back only three years to see a major Republican landslide sweep, so a GOP Senate victory certainly must be considered a viable possibility.

In order to compete for the majority, the Republicans must put more seats in play, and enticing a strong candidate such as Rep. Camp into the race would go a long way toward accomplishing that goal. It remains to be seen just how serious his considerations are, but if he were to run the open Michigan Senate race would become a top tier campaign.

Candidate Developments

Alabama

With resigning Rep. Jo Bonner (R-AL-1) leaving office this Friday, Gov. Robert Bentley (R) announced the schedule for the upcoming replacement special election. With 11 candidates already running, eight of whom are Republicans, the governor has designated Monday, Aug. 5 as the candidate filing deadline. The party primaries will occur on Sept. 24, with run-offs, if necessary, to be held Nov. 5. The special general will then be Dec. 17.

In the unlikely occurrence of candidates from both parties securing a majority of the vote on Sept. 24, and thus clinching their respective nominations, the general election will then move to the Nov. 5 date. The eventual Republican nominee will be favored.

Arkansas

Key political insiders believe that Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR-4) will announce a challenge to Sen. Mark Pryor (D) later this week. Cotton, a freshman, has been considered a potential Pryor opponent almost the day after he was elected to the House, and now his move looks to become official.

The Arkansas Senate seat will likely fall into the highly competitive category, and this should be one of the most important statewide campaigns during the entire election cycle. It is clearly one of the seats that will determine the Senate majority for the next Congress.

Former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter (D), who forced then-Sen. Blanche Lincoln into a divisive Democratic primary that added to her political woes in 2010, thus leading to her eventual 57-36 percent defeat at the hands of then-Rep. John Boozman (R), has decided not to pursue another statewide Democratic primary battle. Originally announced as a 2014 open seat gubernatorial candidate, Halter announced this week that he is withdrawing from the contest. The action gives former Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR-4) a clear shot for the Democratic nomination that means a virtual sure general election contest with former Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR-3). Early polling had given Ross a large lead over Halter, which clearly played into the ex-lieutentant governor’s withdrawal decision.

Illinois

Beginning with the end of World War II until January of this very year, the southwestern Illinois seat anchored in East St. Louis had been represented by only two men: representatives Mel Price (D; 1945-1988) and Jerry Costello (D; 1988-2013). Now, freshman Rep. Bill Enyart (D-IL-12), who won a 52-43 percent victory over former lieutenant governor nominee Jason Plummer (R), has already drawn a significant challenger for his first re-election.
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