Category Archives: Senate

Former Navy SEAL Edges Tester in New Montana Poll; California Appeals Court Upholds Pro-Fong Ruling; Challenger to Florida Rep. Lee

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, April 11, 2024

Senate

Retired Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy

Montana: Sheehy Edges Tester in New Poll — JL Partners returned a poll for the Montana State News Bureau (March 26-29; 503 likely Montana voters) and, for the first time this year, data shows the Republican challenger leading Sen. Jon Tester (D) as he attempts to secure a fourth term.

The survey finds presumptive Republican nominee Tim Sheehy, an aerospace company CEO and retired Navy SEAL, edging the senator 48-45 percent in one of the most important races to determine the next Senate majority.

The questionnaire did not contain a question about the presidential race, but Montana is again expected to be one of former President Donald Trump’s strongest states. Thus, a favorable Republican turnout model will also elevate Sheehy’s chances.

House

CA-20: Appeals Court Upholds Pro-Fong Ruling — A California appellate court upheld the lower court ruling that allowed Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield) to compete in the congressional race after he was certified as a candidate for state Assembly. The Secretary of State barred Fong from entering the regular congressional primary under the premise that an individual cannot seek two public offices simultaneously. Through court ruling, Fong, in fact, did seek both offices, placing first in the congressional regular election and runoff, while running unopposed for the Assembly.

The appellate court ruling for the state would have sent the Central Valley political situation into chaos and, as the judges stated, would have invalidated a legitimate election. Such a move would have led to even more ambiguity, confusion, and additional special elections not only for the vacant US House seat, but also for Fong’s Assembly district should the assemblyman successfully win the congressional special election set for May 21. At this time, he is favored to win both the special and general election. Upon winning the special, Fong would immediately replace former Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R), who resigned.

It is possible that Secretary of State Shirley Weber (D) could still continue along the appellate process, hopefully, from her perspective, convincing the state Supreme Court to address the matter. Unless that happens, Fong is likely headed to Congress.

FL-15: Candidate Comes Forth to Challenge Rep. Lee — In March, former President Trump called upon Tampa Bay area Republicans to field a primary challenger to freshman Rep. Laurel Lee (R-Tampa) because she endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the ’24 presidential campaign. Now, James Judge, who ran in the area’s 14th District against entrenched Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Tampa) in 2022, is answering the call and will switch districts. He began the ’24 election cycle attempting to challenge Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Palm Harbor) in adjacent District 12.

Rep. Lee should still be considered a heavy favorite, however. Judge, running in a D+14 district according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization, recorded 43 percent of the vote against Rep. Castor. This is the type of performance one would expect for a Republican congressional nominee in such a Democratic district. Additionally, he spent just over $200,000 for that race, indicating he doesn’t have much fundraising ability, and a judge had to award him ballot placement in the 2022 election because he did not file the proper candidate forms, which originally led to his disqualification.

Rep. Lee was elected to the House with 59 percent of the vote in the last election from a district that 538 rates as R+7, but one that Trump carried only 51-48 percent. Prior to running for Congress, Lee served as a Circuit Court judge and as secretary of state when Gov. DeSantis appointed her to the position. In 2022, she won a five-way open Republican primary by just under 14 points against her closest competitor.

RFK Jr.’s VP Choice; Swing State Data; Casey’s Lead Diminishing; Cruz Polls Show Tight Texas Race

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, March 27, 2024

President

Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I)

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: VP Choice — Yesterday presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I) announced that wealthy entrepreneur Nicole Shanahan, the founder of the ClearAccessIP legal technology company that she later sold, will be his vice presidential running mate. Shanahan is, like Kennedy, an environmental activist. She contributed $4 million to his campaign to help finance the Super Bowl ad that the Kennedy campaign ran to emphasize his family history. In the 2020 presidential race, Shanahan contributed to Democratic candidates Pete Buttigieg and Marianne Williamson.

Kennedy has qualified for the ballot in the state of Wisconsin but may have to re-start his petition drive in Nevada. RFK Jr. is reportedly qualified or in strong position to do so in eight states: Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Utah, and now Wisconsin. He may have problems in Nevada, however. The submitted petitions may be disqualified because Kennedy did not list a vice presidential running mate, which is a requirement under Nevada election law.

Of the eight states in which his name so far will appear, four are critical swing-state battlegrounds. Therefore, the Kennedy candidacy could affect the final result in the highly competitive entities of Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Wisconsin.

Morning Consult: Releases Latest Swing State Data — The Morning Consult organization released the latest data on their continuing swing state tracking project. This iteration shows improvement for President Joe Biden as he records a one-point edge in Wisconsin and is tied in Pennsylvania and Michigan. The tracking polls were conducted from October through March, and regularly surveyed at least 437 registered voters from each of the seven tested states.

The sampling universes in the remaining four states, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and North Carolina, continue to support former President Donald Trump. Unless one of the tied states (Michigan or Pennsylvania) falls Trump’s way, he cannot win a majority in the Electoral College even though he continues to poll ahead in the majority of swing states.

Senate

Pennsylvania: Casey’s Lead Diminishing — Two new polls are suggesting that the Pennsylvania Senate race is getting closer. Susquehanna Research just released a statewide survey completed in early March (Feb. 27-March 5; 450 likely Pennsylvania voters; live interview) that projects Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) to be leading former hedge fund CEO David McCormick (R) by a 48-42 percent margin. The result is virtually the same as the firm found in January (Casey leading 46-42 percent), but considerably different than the 12-point Casey advantage they detected in their survey from 10 months ago.

Emerson College, polling for The Hill newspaper (March 10-13; 1,000 registered Pennsylvania voters; multiple sampling techniques), sees an even tighter 52-48 percent margin when the undecided respondents are pushed for an answer.

While the current tendencies appear to give McCormick some momentum, the voter history, and legacy of the Casey family (aside from Sen. Casey winning three US Senate terms, the incumbent’s father, Bob Casey, Sr., served two terms as governor and eight years as attorney general) suggest upending the senator remains a very tall order.

Texas: Cruz’s Zig Zag Polling Pattern — The latest Texas statewide survey finds Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) leading US Rep. Colin Allred (D-Dallas) only by a relatively small margin. Marist College (March 18-21; 1,117 registered Texas voters; multiple sampling techniques) projects Sen. Cruz holding a 51-45 percent advantage over Allred. A month ago, the University of Texas found the senator holding a 12-point lead. In January, Emerson College saw Cruz claiming only a two-point edge.

It would not be surprising to see a similar zig-zag pattern continue through the bulk of the election period. Because Sen. Cruz’s favorability numbers tend to be below average for a two-term incumbent, the issue matrix within this campaign cycle, particularly in Texas, will favor the Republican office holder.

Though Rep. Allred is certainly a credible Democratic challenger it is difficult to see Sen. Cruz, or any Lone Star State Republican, losing. With President Biden leading the Democratic ticket and having to defend his energy and border policy stances in a state where his party hasn’t scored a major statewide win since 1994, it increases the difficulty factor for a Democratic upset at all political levels. Therefore, expect to see differing polls throughout the campaign cycle, but the actual election will likely culminate in a Cruz victory margin of at least five percentage points.

New Jersey First Lady Suspends Campaign; Gov. Justice Up in West Virginia Poll; Tight Voting Results in California; Michigan Senate Candidate Moves to House Race

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Senate

Tammy Murphy, New Jersey’s First Lady

New Jersey: First Lady Suspends Campaign — New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy (D), who had been fighting with Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) over county Democratic Party endorsements that yield favorable ballot placements, surprisingly has ended her campaign. Murphy said she didn’t want to spend money attacking another Democrat when the funds could be used to help defeat former President Donald Trump.

The more likely reason for her withdrawal decision is failing to see a viable victory path after falling behind Rep. Kim in early polling. Additionally, Kim’s lawsuit against the state for the county ballot placement system that awards a favorable line position might well be successful, thus derailing the advantage she gained by winning endorsements in several entities. The development makes Rep. Kim a prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nomination, which is tantamount to winning the general election.

West Virginia: Gov. Justice Way Up in GOP Primary Poll — Emerson College, polling for WOWK-13 television station in the Charleston-Huntington market (March 19-21; 735 likely West Virginia Republican primary voters; multiple sampling techniques), sees Gov. Jim Justice holding a commanding 54-17 percent lead over US Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) with the West Virginia primary now seven weeks away on May 14. Without incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin (D) in the race, the eventual GOP nominee becomes a heavy favorite to convert the seat in the general election.

In the governor’s race, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) also enjoys a GOP primary advantage according to the same poll. Morrisey holds a 33-16-14-6 percent advantage over businessman Chris Miller, former state Delegate Moore Capito, and Secretary of State Mac Warner, respectively. Miller is the son of US Rep. Carol Miller (R-Huntington), while Capito is Sen. Shelley Moore Capito’s (R-WV) son. Here, too, the eventual Republican nominee will be a virtual lock to win the general election.

House

California: CA-45 Set, Down to One Vote in North — With still 17 days remaining in the California election certification process, another congressional finalist has clinched a general election ballot position. With virtually all of the votes finally tabulated, Garden Grove City Councilwoman Kim Nguyen-Penaloza yesterday ended her fight for the second qualifying position, conceding the vote to attorney Derek Tran. The race came down to a spread of just 366 votes between the two candidates, or a percentage spread of 15.9 – 15.6.

US Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Orange County), on the ballot for a third term, easily captured the first general election ballot position with a 54.9 percent showing. While Rep. Steel is in good position to begin the general election campaign, the 45th CD leans Democratic at D+5 according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization. Therefore, plan for a highly contested congressional battle here in political prime time.

A few more votes were released in the nip-and-tuck open 16th Congressional District and San Mateo County Supervisor and ex-state Sen. Joe Simitian (D) saw his lead over Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) shrink from four votes to only one, 30,229 to 30,228. The eventual second-place qualifier faces former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo (D) who locked down first place with 38,464 votes or 21.1 percent of the jungle primary total. Should Simitian and Low end in a flat tie, both would advance into the general election, thus leading to a three-way general election campaign.

MI-8: Senate Candidate Moves to House Race — State Board of Education member Nikki Snyder (R), who was the first person to declare for the open Senate race after incumbent Debbie Stabenow (D) announced that she would retire, never saw her campaign generate excitement or significant support. Therefore, Snyder announced that she is ending her Senate quest and will instead enter the Republican primary for the open 8th Congressional District.

There, Snyder will join two time congressional candidate and former news anchor Paul Junge in the GOP primary. Snyder is also not the first candidate to switch from the Senate race to this congressional contest. Earlier, State Board of Education president Pamela Pugh (D) made the change soon after six-term incumbent Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint Township) announced that he would not seek re-election.

The 8th District will feature a hard-fought and tough election cycle. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the central Michigan 8th CD as R+1. President Joe Biden carried the district with a slight 50.3 – 48.2 percent margin.

Tightening Senate Race in Arizona; Hogan Building Lead in Maryland; Tight Margins in California Vote Tallies; Bost Wins Tight Primary

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, March 21, 2024

Senate

Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego (D) holds a narrow lead in Arizona polling.

Arizona: Emerson College Shows a Tightening Race — Emerson College released a new two-way poll of the Arizona Senate race, their first since Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I) announced she would not seek re-election. The survey (March 12-15; 1,000 registered Arizona voters; multiple sampling techniques) projects the new Arizona Senate race dropping to within the polling margin of error between Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) and 2022 GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake. The ballot test finds Gallego holding a 44-40 percent lead, which is approaching the toss-up realm.

Within the same polling sample, former President Donald Trump leads President Joe Biden, 48-44 percent, which is bad news obviously for Biden, but also for Lake. With the data showing Trump leading the Republican ticket in the Grand Canyon State, her standing trails him by a full eight percentage points.

While Emerson tested only Biden and Trump and did not include the independent or third party candidates, they did push the undecided respondents to make a choice. When doing so, Trump would lead the aggregate count 52-48 percent, suggesting the undecideds, which are good prospects to support one of the minor candidates, would break evenly between the two men.

Rep. Gallego has an edge among the youngest and the oldest respondents in the sample. He is also rather surprisingly favored, 43-38 percent, among those who said the economy is their top issue. Lake is favored by a whopping 77-12 percent margin among those who are most concerned about the southern border.

Maryland: Ex-Gov. Hogan Building Lead — The University of Maryland, partnering with the Washington Post, released a new survey of the Maryland Senate race (March 5-12; 1,004 registered Maryland voters; live interview & text) that shows former Republican Gov. Larry Hogan building a strong lead in this most Democratic of states. According to the ballot test, Hogan leads US Rep. David Trone (D-Potomac) 47-39 percent, while his lead would expand to 50-36 percent if Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) were his general election opponent.

Hogan also enjoys an extremely positive 64:23 percent favorability index, while Rep. Trone scores 33:21 percent favorable to unfavorable, and Alsobrooks records a 26:15 percent ratio. Despite Trone so far outspending Alsobrooks by a 12:1 ratio ($24 million to $2 million), he leads the Democratic primary ballot test only 34-27 percent according to this survey.

Considering the lopsided spending amount, the ballot test suggests that Rep. Trone is at least slightly underperforming as a statewide candidate.

House

California: Two-Vote Margin; Another Race in Doubt — While the California vote totals are still not complete from the March 5 Super Tuesday primary, the battle for second qualifying position in the open 16th Congressional District continues to get tighter and tighter. The latest vote iteration, with an estimated 400-plus votes remaining to count, is literally down to a two-vote margin.

State Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) now leads San Mateo County Supervisor and former state Sen. Joe Simitian (D), 30,211 to 30,209. It is obvious we will see a recount when all the votes are finally tabulated. The Secretary of State has 22 more days to certify the election, and it is likely the tabulation process for this race will consume every bit of the allowable time. Former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo (D) has already clinched the first general election position. Incumbent Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Atherton) is retiring.

Another race is also uncalled. Forty-fifth District Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Orange County) has easily clinched the first qualifying position with just under 55 percent of the aggregate jungle primary vote. Attorney Derek Tran (D) has run in second place during the entire counting period, but he now leads Garden Grove Councilwoman Kim Nguyen-Penaloza (D) by only a 327-vote margin and the end result is now in doubt. An estimated 2,500 ballots remain to be counted.

IL-12: Rep. Bost Wins Close Primary Battle — It took well into a second day of counting, but Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro) successfully won renomination in his southern Illinois congressional district. His opponent, 2022 Republican gubernatorial nominee Darren Bailey, issued a statement conceding defeat but saying his campaign “made a statement.” The current unofficial tally shows Rep. Bost capturing 51.4 percent of the vote as compared to Bailey’s 48.6 percent, translating to a vote spread of 2,590 from a turnout of over 94,000 individuals. A smattering of ballots will soon be added to the final tally.

The district featured wide swings, as both candidates typically won their respective counties by landslide proportions. Both men won 17 of the district’s 34 counties.

Tuesday’s Roundup of Primaries: Moreno Wins Big; Deja Vu in California; Bost in Close Finish; Replacement Vote in Ohio

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Senate

Ohio businessman Bernie Moreno (R)

Ohio: Moreno Wins Big — Chalk up a big mistake for the polling community. The polls prior to yesterday’s primary predicted very tight Republican Senate contest, but it proved to be quite the opposite as businessman Bernie Moreno won in a landslide. Moreno will now move into the long general election cycle against three-term Sen. Sherrod Brown (D).

With almost the entire state reporting at this writing, Moreno would have been nominated even if Ohio were a runoff state. He captured majority support, at 50.6 percent. State Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), who several polls had projected to be leading the race, finished a distant second with 32.8 percent. Secretary of State Frank LaRose, the field’s only statewide official who was perceived to be falling off the pace as the election drew near, lagged in third position recording just 16.6 percent support.

The result is another big win for former President Donald Trump who, along with Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH), had endorsed Moreno. The victory margin was so complete that Moreno carried all of the state’s 88 counties. Turnout was heavily Republican. Though he was in a three-way race in the Republican primary and Sen. Brown was unopposed for the Democratic nomination, Moreno still received more votes last night than the Democratic incumbent.

House

CA-20: Special Election Deja Vu — Last night’s CA-20 special election, held as the first step in replacing House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R), unfolded as a virtual carbon copy of the original March 5 regular primary. As in that election, it appears that Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield), who is well over 40 percent support in early returns, will advance into the special general election scheduled for May 21. Just like in the coming November regular general election, he will face fellow Republican and Tulare County Sheriff Mike Bourdeaux in the special general.

The special general winner will immediately take the seat and serve the balance of the current term. Regardless of the outcome in May, Fong and Bourdeaux will face each other again on Nov. 5.

Illinois: Rep. Bost in Close Finish — While almost all of the congressional primary challengers lost in landslide proportions to the veteran incumbents, southern Illinois Congressman Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro) looks to have only eked out a close renomination win over 2022 Republican gubernatorial nominee and ex-state Sen. Darren Bailey (R), but the turnout projection totals suggest that as many as 30,000 votes could still be outstanding. At this writing, with 75 percent of the estimated number of total votes having been counted, Rep. Bost has only a 51.8 – 48.2 percent advantage, a margin of 3,362 votes.

The county votes were polarized. Two small counties are not reporting any votes as yet, while Bost has won 17 counties to Bailey’s 15. In virtually every county, the vote produced lopsided leads for either man. It is probable that Rep. Bost’s advantage will hold, but the final result could become much closer.

Rep. Danny Davis (D-Chicago), who faced four challengers, managed to break the majority threshold with a 53 percent total. Because the opposition vote was evenly spread among his challengers, his closest competitor had just under 22 percent. Reps. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago) and Bill Foster (D-Naperville) also faced credible opposition, but both won easily.

In the Quad Cities region, retired Circuit Judge Joe McGraw (R) will now challenge freshman Rep. Eric Sorensen (D-Moline) in what should be a competitive general election.

Ohio: Key House Races Also on Ballot — The top House primary attraction was the special primary for the vacant 6th Congressional District where state Sen. Michael Rulli (R-Salem) and state Rep. Reggie Stoltzfus (R-Delaware) battled to replace resigned Rep. Bill Johnson (R). Since this is a partisan special election, the winner advances to a June 11 general election. The result was close most of the evening, but Sen. Rulli pulled away in the final count to score a 49-41 percent win.

Highly competitive crowded battles are underway in the open 2nd District from which Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Hillsboro) is retiring. Three self-funding businessmen led the crowded field, and concrete company owner David Taylor defeated entrepreneurs Tim O’Hara and Larry Kidd by a 25-22-19 percent split. Taylor’s victory last night virtually assures him of winning the seat in November in what is Ohio’s safest Republican seat.

The other major primary occurred in the Toledo anchored 9th District where Republican state Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova) and former state Rep. Craig Reidel battled for the nomination after 2022 nominee J.R. Majewski dropped out of the race. The race went Merrin’s way with a 52-34 percent victory margin. The state representative now faces 21-term incumbent Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) in the general election in what should be a highly competitive election in a district the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as R+6.

In the Akron-based 13th CD, former state Sen. Kevin Coughlin (R) easily defeated local City Councilman Chris Banweg. Coughlin will now challenge freshman Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) in another competitive Ohio general election campaign.

Three-Way Ohio Race Ends Tonight; California Special Election;
Key Illinois, Ohio House Races

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Senate

Ohio State Sen. Matt Dolan (R)

Ohio: Primary Today — A hard-fought Republican US Senate primary draws to a close tonight. The contest is a three-way race among state Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), Secretary of State Frank LaRose, and businessman Bernie Moreno.

Polling has shown a close race for months. In the closing week, the polling lead has changed hands between Sen. Dolan and Moreno. Moreno man has former President Donald Trump and US Sen. J.D. Vance’s (R-OH) endorsements. Gov. Mike DeWine (R) supports Sen. Dolan. Both Moreno and Dolan have loaned millions of their own personal fortunes into their respective campaigns. Secretary LaRose, the only previously elected statewide official, appears to have fallen well back and consistently into third place.

Whatever tonight’s final result, the winner will head into what promises to be a tight and bruising campaign against three-term Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) in one of the nation’s most important 2024 Senate races.

House

CA-20: Special Election Today — Despite California’s 20th District voters choosing general election finalists on March 5, they go back to the polls today to potentially select an immediate successor to resigned House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R). If no candidate receives majority support in today’s vote, the top two finalists will advance to a May 21 special general election. At that point, the winner will take the seat.

Chances are strong that Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield) and Tulare County Sheriff Mike Bourdeaux (R), both of whom have secured regular general election ballot positions for November, will also advance tonight. The field is somewhat different than what was present for the regular election, but the major participants return. The reason this special vote was not made concurrent with the March 5 election is that California law stipulates a specific number of days must elapse between the occurrence of an official vacancy and the subsequent replacement election.

Illinois: House Races Dominate — With no Senate or governor’s election on the Illinois ballot this year, the most interesting elections tonight, now that both parties have presumptive presidential nominees, are for the US House. Several members face primary challenges, but all incumbents are favored to win renomination.

For the Democrats, Reps. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago), Danny Davis (D-Chicago), and Bill Foster (D-Naperville) face opponents with either campaign resources or a political base. Chicago Alderman Ray Lopez, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress and mayor, opposes Rep. Garcia who also lost the 2023 mayor’s race. Rep. Davis received only 52 percent in the 2022 Democratic primary and faces four relatively strong candidates. The large number of challengers and the plurality format certainly favors Rep. Davis since his opposition vote will be split among four contenders. Rep. Foster is facing a well-financed effort from human rights activist Qasim Rashid, but his previous electoral experience has come in Virginia. Therefore, expect Rep. Foster to record a comfortable win tonight.

The top Republican primary comes in southern Illinois where five-term Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro) defends his seat against the 2022 Republican gubernatorial nominee and former state Sen. Darren Bailey. Though the congressman has a major financial advantage, the only recent publicly released poll found only a single-digit support difference between the two men.

Ohio: Key House Races Also on Ballot — The top House attraction this evening is in the vacant 6th Congressional District where state Sen. Michael Rulli (R-Salem) and state Rep. Reggie Stoltzfus (R-Delaware) battle to replace resigned Rep. Bill Johnson (R). Since this is a partisan special election, the winner advances to a June 11 general election. After the subsequent winner is chosen, the individual will immediately take the seat to fill the balance of the current term.

Highly competitive crowded battles are underway in the open 2nd District from which Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Hillsboro) is retiring. Tonight’s Republican primary winner will be a lock to claim the seat in November. The other major primary occurs in the Toledo anchored 9th District where Republican state Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova) and former state Rep. Craig Reidel are battling for the nomination after 2022 nominee J.R. Majewski dropped out of the race. The winner faces 21-term incumbent Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) in the general election.

Conflicting Polls in Ohio; Boebert Won’t Run in Special; Ranked Choice Toss-up Result in Alaska; California General Election Becoming Clearer

By Jim Ellis — Monday, March 18, 2024

Senate

Ohio businessman Bernie Moreno (R)

Ohio: Conflicting Polls — Late last week, we reported on an Emerson College poll of the Ohio Senate Republican primary that posted state Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) to a 26-23-16 percent edge over businessman Bernie Moreno and Secretary of State Frank LaRose, respectively. Now we see a Survey USA study (March 6-11; 1,241 registered Ohio voters; 533 likely Republican primary voters; online) that projects Moreno holding a 22-18-16 percent lead over Sen. Dolan and Secretary LaRose. The closeness of both polls suggests any of the three still has a chance to win this coming Tuesday.

House

CO-4: Boebert Won’t Run in Special — Colorado US Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt) announced late last week that she will not compete in the special election to replace resigning Rep. Ken Buck (R-Windsor) but will remain in the race for the full term. Colorado Republican Party chairman Dave Williams, who is himself a congressional candidate in open District 5, announced that he will be assembling a committee of party leaders and elected officials to choose a 4th District special election nominee within “the next several weeks.” Gov. Jared Polis (D) has already said he will schedule the special election concurrently with the state’s June 25 primary election. The Democrats have a selection committee of more than 200 members, and the party leadership says a special vote to choose their nominee will occur on April 1.

The move not to enter the special makes sense for Boebert. It is highly unlikely that she would be chosen as the committee’s nominee, since she currently represents another district. Therefore, if the congresswoman wins the regular primary election it is irrelevant as to who would hold the seat for the remainder of this term. Unless the special election winner also wins the regular primary on the same day, then said person will not compete in the general election.

AK-AL: New Poll Shows Ranked Choice Toss-up Result — A new Data for Progress survey (Feb. 23-March 2; 1,120 likely Alaska general election voters; web to text) finds a very tight impending at-large congressional race with no clear leader after several hypothetical rounds of Ranked Choice Voting. Rep. Mary Peltola (D-Bethel) leads the original field of businessman and former congressional candidate Nick Begich III (R), Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom (R), and Libertarian Chris Bye by a 44-35-10-2 percent break. In Ranked Choice Voting, the primary sends four candidates to the general election and the pollsters project these individuals would be the eventual finalists.

Since no one receives majority support in the initial round, RCV begins, and Bye is eliminated. In the second round, Rep. Peltola would lead 48-41-12 percent over Begich and Dahlstrom. This result would lead to Dahlstrom’s elimination. The third round finds Peltola and Begich in a dead heat at 50-50 percent. Though Rep. Peltola has a 10-point personal favorability spread, the best of all the tested politicians, it appears the electoral system makes this race a toss-up.

California: General Election Becoming Clearer — More vote totals are being released from the long California ballot counting process, and congressional general election matchups are now becoming cemented. In preparation for Tuesday’s special election to replace resigned House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, it is now likely that we will see a double-Republican regular general election between Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield) and Tulare County Sheriff Mike Bourdeaux.

To the Democrats’ benefit in open Districts 30 and 31, Democratic-Republican general elections appear to be the final result. Such pairings would almost assuredly elect state Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Burbank) to replace Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), and former Congressman Gil Cisneros (D) returning to the House to succeed retiring Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Norwalk) also appears to be a certainty.

The closest race is occurring in open District 16 where Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Atherton) is retiring. Former San Jose Mayor Sam Riccardo (D) has secured the first general election position, but the battle for second place is still undecided. San Mateo County Supervisor and former state Sen. Joe Simitian (D) has yielded second place to Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell). The razor-thin margin is only 59 votes between the two according to the secretary of state’s official count. An unspecified number of ballots remain uncounted. District 16 will definitely send two Democrats to the general election, but the second finalist position is still undecided.