Category Archives: Senate

Reading North Carolina

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 17, 2020 — CNN released new North Carolina poll results earlier this week, and we again see a familiar pattern unfolding. There has been a Republican under-poll in the southern states detected in the past few elections, and the North Carolina pattern appears to form relatively consistently upon studying its most competitive statewide races in 2014, ’16, and what may be happening in 2020. There were no statewide Tar Heel State contests in 2018.

The CNN poll (conducted through the SSRS statistical firm; Sept. 9-13; 787 likely North Carolina voters; live interview through landline and mobile phones) found former vice president Joe Biden leading President Trump, 49-46 percent; Democratic US Senate nominee Cal Cunningham edging incumbent Republican Thom Tillis, 47-46 percent; and Gov. Roy Cooper (D) easily outdistancing Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, 53-44 percent.

How do these mid-September races compare with other campaigns at this same interval, and what does that tell us for autumn?

First, the CNN poll is one of seven polls conducted in North Carolina during the month of September, and its three-point margin for Biden is the Democrat’s second-best showing within this group. The only better Biden performance came from the Fox News poll at the beginning of September (Aug. 29-Sept. 1; 722 likely North Carolina voters, live interview), which posted him to a four-point, 50-46 percent, advantage.

Among the five other surveys, Biden is ahead in two, President Trump in two, and one has the pair tied at 47 percent apiece (Survey USA for WRAL-TV; Sept. 10-13; 596 likely North Carolina voters). From the eight polls conducted from Aug. 29-Sept. 13, Biden’s edge is just 0.7 percent, meaning the two candidates average to a statistical tie.

Recent political history suggests that this type of an average spread sets up well for President Trump, and possibly Sen. Tillis. It appears that Gov. Cooper’s margin is beyond the statistically relevant late-term Republican swing.

In September of 2016, a total of 14 publicly released polls were conducted during that month. Within this group, Hillary Clinton led in 10 of the surveys with an average spread of 2.4 percentage points. Trump was ahead in just three polls with an average margin of 2.0 percent. Two polls found the candidates tied. Therefore, Clinton’s overall September edge was an average 1.1 percent.

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Delaware & Rhode Island Vote Today

By Jim Ellis

Former Delaware Sen. Joe Biden’s old seat is up for selection today.

Sept. 15, 2020 — The regular election state primaries conclude today as voters in Delaware and Rhode Island, two of America’s smallest states, vote to close out nomination season.

Louisiana holds its primary concurrent with the general election, so voters there will either elect officials outright with majority support or send the top two finishers into Dec. 5 runoff elections. We will also see a special jungle US Senate primary in Georgia concurrent with Election Day, and voters in the Atlanta area will go to the polls on Sept. 29 to choose a short-term successor to the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Atlanta). Otherwise, nominations throughout the 50 states are complete.

As Joe Biden runs for president, the Delaware US Senate seat he held for 36 years also appears on the ballot in this election. Biden resigned the position when he became vice president, just after being elected to his seventh term in the body. Then-Gov. Ruth Ann Minner (D) appointed Broadcasting Board of Governors member and Biden confidant Ted Kaufman (D) to replace the outgoing senator, and he served the first two years of the term but chose not to enter the 2010 special election. In that vote, voters selected a new senator to serve the final four years of that existing term.

The special election winner was then-New Castle County Executive Chris Coons (D), who was nominated in party convention and then defeated consultant Christine O’Donnell (R), 57-40 percent. This proved to be a wacky race where rumors abounded, and even a campaign commercial aired suggesting that O’Donnell believed herself to be a witch.

Sen. Coons was then re-elected to a full term in 2014, a 56-42 percent victory over Republican Kevin Wade. He now stands for a second six-year term this year and appears as a lock for re-election. Today, Sen. Coons faces a relatively minor Democratic primary challenge from business consultant Jess Scarane who had raised over $323,000 through the Aug. 26 pre-primary filing deadline. There is no indication that this election will be close either tonight or in the general election.

A pair of Republicans are on the ballot, attorney and Marine Corps veteran James Martino and Trump campaign activist Lauren Witzke. Whoever wins tonight will only be a small threat to Sen. Coons in the general election.

Gov. John Carney (D) runs for a second term, and he, too, should see little in the way of serious competition. He has one opponent today, Army veteran David Lamar Williams, Jr. (D), a minor candidate. Seven Republicans are in this gubernatorial primary race, including two state senators, Colin Bonini (R-Magnolia) and Bryant Richardson (R-Sussex County). Whoever wins the primary tonight begins as a heavy underdog to Gov. Carney in a very short general election cycle.

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The Senate Trends

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 14, 2020 — The AARP organization yesterday released a series of polls covering nine Senate races in eight states that help set benchmarks for the most recent data.

AARP contracted with four polling firms, two Republican and two Democratic, and paired each with the opposite party pollster. The Benenson Strategy Group (D) partnered with the GS Strategy Group (R) for surveying Arizona, Michigan, and North Carolina.

The Fabrizio Ward firm (R) and Hart Research Associates (D) conducted the joint Colorado, Georgia (both races), Iowa, Maine, and Montana survey research. All of the polls were live interview with large sampling universes of likely voters unless otherwise noted.

Predominantly, the ballot tests find the Democratic candidate typically leading, but with the Republican improving his or her position in comparison to the previously released polling results.

Below are the AARP results followed by the two most recent reported surveys in each state:


ARIZONA
Benenson Strategy/GS Strategy (Aug. 28-Sept. 8; 1,600 likely Arizona voters)
• Mark Kelly (D) – 48%
• Sen. Martha McSally (R) – 45%
Previous:
• Change Research (D) – (Sept. 4-6) – Kelly +6
• Redfield & Wilton Strategies (UK) – (Sept. 30-Aug. 4) – Kelly +15


COLORADO
Fabrizio Ward/Hart Research (Aug. 30-Sept. 5; 800 likely Colorado voters)
• Ex-Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) – 51%
• Sen. Cory Gardner (R) – 46%
Previous:
• Morning Consult – (Aug. 21-30) – Hickenlooper +9
• Public Policy Polling (D) – (Aug. 18-19) – Hickenlooper +9 (voters)


GEORGIA-A
Fabrizio Ward/Hart Research (Aug. 30-Sept. 5; 800 likely Georgia voters)
• Jon Ossoff (D) – 48%
• Sen. David Perdue (R) – 47%
Previous:
• Public Policy Polling (D) – (Aug. 13-14) – Even (voters)
• Garin Hart Yang Research (D) – (Aug. 10-13) – Ossoff +2


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New Hampshire Results

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 9, 2020 — The New Hampshire nomination vote was held yesterday, ironically very late in an election cycle in which this state was the first to host a presidential primary. The results unfolded as generally predicted.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen stands for a third term and was easily re-nominated with 94 percent of the vote against a weak Democratic opposition field. On the Republican side, businessman Bryant “Corky” Messner, who has already loaned his campaign approximately $4 million, defeated retired Army general Don Bolduc with a 51-42 percent victory margin. Sen. Shaheen is a clear favorite for the general election, but upsets are a frequent occurrence in New Hampshire politics, so no victory can be taken for granted.

A close election here is possible again. In Sen. Shaheen’s two federal election victories, her win percentages were only 51.6 and 51.5 percent in 2008 and 2014, respectively. Additionally, in the 2002 campaign, as the sitting governor, she lost to then-US Rep. John E. Sununu (R), 51-46 percent. Returning for the 2008 race she unseated her former opponent, and then six years later defeated former Massachusetts US Sen. Scott Brown (R) who launched a new Senate bid from his neighboring state.

The last election for the state’s other Senate seat was also very close. In 2016, then-Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) unseated Sen. Kelly Ayotte, 48.0 – 47.8 percent, a margin of just 1,017 votes from more than 739,000 ballots cast.

Gov. Chris Sununu (R) is running for a third two-year term – New Hampshire and neighboring Vermont are the only two states that mandate two-year gubernatorial terms – and was easily re-nominated with 90 percent of the Republican primary vote. The Democrats, however, featured a more competitive contest, with state Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes (D-Concord) apparently topping Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky, 51-49 percent, but with several precincts still outstanding. It is likely the Feltes margin will hold, though it is still mathematically possible for the final outcome to switch.

Turnout in the state was interesting because of its inconsistency between the two statewide offices, which is unusual. In the governor’s race, more Republicans than Democrats voted, so far 129,404 to 124,697 with further ballots to count. The Senate campaign, however, featuring a Democratic incumbent, saw a reversal of the turnout model. In that race, more Democrats have voted so far, 133,729 to 122,676.

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New Hampshire Primary Today

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 8, 2020 — Winding through the final state primaries, voters in the Granite State cast their ballots today in order to nominate candidates for US Senate, governor, and two congressional districts. After today, only three primaries remain: next Tuesday in Delaware and Rhode Island, and the Louisiana jungle primary that runs concurrently with the general election.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen stands for a third term this year and draws only minor opposition on the Democratic ballot. On the Republican side, businessman Corky Messner, who has already loaned his campaign approximately $4 million, is favored to top retired Army General Don Bolduc.

Messner certainly has the resources to run a competitive race against Sen. Shaheen, but there is no question she is a heavy favorite in the general election. Prior to being elected to the Senate in 2008, Shaheen served three two-year terms as governor but lost her first Senate bid opposite then-US Rep. John E. Sununu (R) in 2002.

Since the turn of the century, however, New Hampshire has been one of the most volatile political states, and swingingly wildly from the top of the ticket all the way down the ballot has become a frequent occurrence. Therefore, incumbents from both parties can never be considered completely safe.

Gov. Chris Sununu (R) stands for a third two-year term – New Hampshire and neighboring Vermont are the only two states that mandate two-year gubernatorial terms – and faces only Franklin City councilwoman and radio talk show host Karen Testerman and a man named Nobody, who frequently runs for New Hampshire political office as a Republican or a Libertarian Party member.

The Democrats feature a two-way gubernatorial nomination race between state Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes (D-Concord) and Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky. New Hampshire’s unique Executive Council is a five-member panel elected in districts and serve as gubernatorial advisors and a check on the governor’s power. The Executive Council has veto power over pardons, nominations and large state contracts. Polling suggests a close race.

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