Category Archives: Senate

Big Primary Preview

By Jim Ellis

June 5, 2018 — Today voters in eight states — Alabama, California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota — will choose nominees for the 2018 general election in the single primary election day with the largest number of voters participating. Here’s a rundown on where things stand in each of the eight states:


ALABAMA

the-primariesThe most interesting race on the Alabama primary card is the state’s governor’s race. Incumbent Kay Ivey (R) runs for a first term after succeeding resigned Gov. Robert Bentley (R), when he left office last year as part of a plea bargain agreement for campaign finance violations.

Polling gives the governor wide leads to defeat Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, state Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile), and Baptist minister Scott Dawson. For the Democrats, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb are vying for the party nomination. Gov. Ivey is the favorite today and in November.

In House races, Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) faces a multi-candidate Republican primary, including former US Rep. Bobby Bright, the man she unseated in 2010 when he was the Democrat incumbent. Also in the race is state Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) and former Roy Moore campaign manager Rich Hobson. Rep. Roby is favored, but the possibility of being forced to a run-off exists if she fails to obtain majority support.

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Arizona Senate: Filing Closes,
New Poll Shows Surprise

Arizona-mapBy Jim Ellis

June 1, 2018 — Candidate filing closed in Arizona Wednesday for the state’s Aug. 28 primary election, and the US Senate candidate fields are now set. Little in the way of surprise — barring last minute filers who have not yet been reported, the Republicans, who are attempting to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R), number three in total: US Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson), former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and ex-state senator and former US Senate candidate Kelli Ward. For the Democrat primary, US Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) faces attorney Deedra Abboud, a minor candidate.

Remington Research just released the results of their latest Grand Canyon State GOP primary survey conducted last week (May 23-24; 2,011 likely Arizona Republican primary voters via an interactive voice response system). According to the data, Rep. McSally attracts 42 percent support as compared to ex-Sheriff Arpaio’s 25 percent, while Ward tallies 23 percent. In two other polls conducted in April, Rep. McSally led in one and Ward the other.

While the McSally advantage is 17 and 19 points over Arpaio and Ward in the most current survey, she led the former sheriff and the ex-state legislator, 36-26-25 percent in a mid-April Magellan Strategies poll. OH Predictive Insights, however, found Ward jumping out to a 36-27-22 percent advantage over Rep. McSally and Arpaio in their early April study.

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Poll: New Jersey Closing

By Jim Ellis

new-jersey-mapMay 31, 2018 — A new curious poll was released right before the Memorial Day break that suggests the New Jersey Senate race is already closing.

Since presumed Republican nominee Bob Hugin, the former chairman and CEO of the Celgene pharmaceutical corporation, has already spent $3.7 million on his campaign in conjunction with the June 5 primary, it is not particularly surprising that the margin between he and Sen. Bob Menendez (D) is getting tighter.

What appears unusual are the raw numbers from the recent Fairleigh Dickinson University survey, however. The poll (May 16-21; 856 registered New Jersey voters) looks to be sound methodologically, and the numbers reported for various approval ratings and other data points seem consistent with previously released research. The ballot test, however, raises questions because the incumbent’s support figure is so low and the undecideds high (46 percent). According to the F-D study, Sen. Menendez leads Hugin only 28-24 percent.

Despite the veteran senator seeing the federal bribery case against him fall apart and charges dismissed, his reputation has still suffered. The F-D report finds the senator’s favorability index at 33:39 percent favorable to unfavorable with only 51 percent of Democrats answering with a positive response. In comparison, the state’s junior senator, Cory Booker (D), posts a 55:27 percent ratio and a positive rating among Democratic respondents of 79 percent.

Demographically, the senator’s numbers are weak across the board. Even while leading Hugin in every category, his margins are tight and overall support figures poor. Sen. Menendez gets 27 percent among men, 29 percent from women, 27 percent with white voters, and just 30 percent from non-white voters. Even the college-educated voters, usually a strength segment for Democratic candidates, favor him only 32-24 percent.

This May poll is drastically different from published university polls in April and March. But Hugin’s strong early campaign provides at least a partial explanation. The former corporate leader is so far self-funding to the tune of $7.5 million and had raised almost $700,000 from individuals as listed in the May 16 pre-primary disclosure report.

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The Primaries Through May:
Setting November, Part II

the-primariesBy Jim Ellis

May 25, 2018 — With primaries having been completed in 13 states we review the key run-off and general election pairings that these primaries produced. Today we’ll look at Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia. Yesterday we reviewed Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska and North Carolina.


Ohio: A competitive open governor’s race is underway, featuring Attorney General and former US Sen. Mike DeWine (R) and ex-Attorney General Richard Cordray (D). Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) begins the general election in the favored position over Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth). A special election in the 12th District between state Sen. Troy Balderson (R) and Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor (D) occurs on Aug. 7. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati) defends his seat against Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval. Former NFL football player and businessman Anthony Gonzalez (R) is heavily favored to succeed Rep. Renacci in the open 16th District.


Oregon: The only competition here is occurring in the governor’s race, where incumbent Kate Brown (D) runs for her first full term against state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend). The governor is a clear favorite for re-election.


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The Primaries Through May:
Setting November, Part I

By Jim Ellis
the-primaries
May 24, 2018
— We have now completed primaries in 13 states. Therefore, we can review the key run-off and general election pairings that these primaries produced. Today we’ll look at Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska and North Carolina. Tomorrow we’ll go over the states of Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia.


Arkansas: Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) is a lock for re-election. Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock) is a clear favorite over state Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock).


Georgia: Republicans will see a gubernatorial July 24 run-off between Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp. The winner faces former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D) in the open general election. In the House, Democrats are forced into run-offs in District 6 and 7. The winners will be clear underdogs to Reps. Karen Handel (R-Roswell) and Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville).


Idaho: Lt. Gov. Brad Little (R) is a heavy favorite over state Rep. Paulette Jordan (D-Moscow) in the open governor’s race. Former state Sen. Russ Fulcher (R) will succeed Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Eagle/Boise) in the open 1st District.


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Today’s Primary Previews

By Jim Ellis

2018-elections-open-seatsMay 22, 2018
— Another four states will host regular primaries tonight. Today, we preview Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky and Texas.

ARKANSAS

The Natural State features a rather quiet election cycle, but a couple of key primaries are on the docket for today.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) seeks re-nomination for a second term and faces only minor opposition from gun range owner Jan Morgan. Former non-profit executive Jared Henderson is expected to win the Democratic primary. Gov. Hutchinson is the prohibitive favorite for re-election in the fall.

With no Senate race in Arkansas this year, the four House races, possibly with one exception, appear to yield little in the way of serious competition.

Reps. Rick Crawford (R-Jonesboro) and French Hill (R-Little Rock) are unopposed for re-nomination. Reps. Steve Womack (R-Rogers) and Bruce Westerman (R-Hot Springs) drew only minor opposition.

Only Rep. Hill looks to have a serious opponent in November. State Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock), who has raised over $600,000 and had almost $240,000 in his campaign account through the pre-primary May 2nd report, is a credible candidate. He is expected to win the nomination, with the only question being whether one of his three Democratic opponents can force a run-off.

In any race where no candidate receives a majority vote, the top two advance to a June 19 run-off.


GEORGIA

Gov. Nathan Deal (R) is ineligible to seek re-election, so the open governor’s race tops the election card this year.

The Fox5 news outlet in Atlanta sponsored a pre-primary poll (May 15-16; 522 likely Georgia Democratic primary voters, 515 likely Georgia Republican primary voters) and found former state House Minority Leader Stacy Abrams topping former state Rep. Stacey Evans by a large 58-19 percent margin in the Democratic primary. Abrams is expected to win outright tonight.

On the Republican side, going to a run-off appears likely as the Fox5 poll finds Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle drawing 31 percent followed by Secretary of State Brian Kemp with 20 percent. State Sen. Hunter Hill (R-Atlanta) is third at 14 percent, and businessman Clay Tippins attracting 12 percent support. State Sen. Michael Williams (R-Cumming) then registers only five percent preference.

Georgia also has no Senate race in 2018, but does have 14 incumbent House members all seeking re-nomination and re-election. Each is expected to win re-nomination.

Two primaries of note occur in Districts 6 and 7. Rep. Handel winning the most expensive congressional race in history back in June (likely exceeding a combined $50 million) means she is attracting several Democratic opponents vying for the nomination in order to challenge her in the regular election. Since special election nominee Jon Ossoff chose not to seek a re-match, the leading contenders among the four Democratic candidates appear to be former news anchor Bobby Kaple and businessman Kevin Abel who have raised a combined $1.1 million for the primary campaign. Gun control activist Lucy McBath could draw enough support to force Kaple and Abel into a July 24 run-off election.

In the 7th District, four-term Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville) looks to be facing a credible general election challenge, from either learning center chain CEO David Kim, former state Budget director Carolyn Bourdeaux, or software developer Ethan Pham. Combined, the group had raised a cumulative $1.5 million prior to the May 2 pre-primary campaign disclosure filing.


KENTUCKY

With no governor or senator on the ballot this year, the six House races lead the Kentucky 2018 ticket. All six congressmen, five Republicans and one Democrat, are seeking re-election and none have serious primary opposition tomorrow.

The most interesting race is the 6th District Democratic primary where Lexington-Fayette Mayor Jim Gray and retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Amy McGrath, a veteran of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, are in a spirited battle among a field of six candidates.

Mayor Gray raised $1.3 million before the May 2nd pre-primary filing deadline. Col. McGrath had brought in an impressive $2.0 million, but had already spent all but $300,000 as the candidates turned for the final three weeks that were remaining in the primary campaign.

Tomorrow’s winner faces three-term Rep. Andy Barr (R-Lexington), who’s raised over $2.48 million for this campaign and has $2.31 million cash-on-hand. This will be a competitive race in the fall regardless of who claims the Democratic nomination tomorrow night.


TEXAS

Thirteen significant Lone Star State political run-offs will be decided today, thus ending the nomination process that began with the Texas primary election back on March 6.

In the governor’s race, Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and businessman Andrew White, the son of the late former Texas Gov. Mark White (D), do battle for the Democratic nomination. Sheriff Valdez placed first in the March 6 vote with 43 percent versus White’s 27 percent, but she failed to reach the majority plateau. Therefore, the two were forced into today’s run-off. Originally, nine Democrats were on the ballot. The winner faces Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who is the prohibitive favorite for re-election.

TX-2: This Houston suburban seat yields a Republican run-off contest between state Rep. Kevin Roberts (R-Houston) and retired Navy officer Dan Crenshaw. The Republican winner will be the prohibitive favorite to win the seat in the fall and replace retiring Rep. Ted Poe (R-Atascocita).

TX-5: Retiring Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Dallas) leaves a Republican run-off to decide his successor. State Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Kaufman County) received 30 percent in the March 6 election and now faces former Hensarling campaign manager and political fundraiser Bunni Pounds, who the congressman publicly supports. Pounds attracted 22 percent in the field of eight candidates. The Republican nominee will be the heavy favorite in November. He or she will oppose former Terrell City Councilman Dan Wood (D) in the general election.

TX-6: Tarrant County Tax Assessor and former congressional staff member Ron Wright (R) came within five percentage points of clinching the nomination outright in March. He now faces the distant second place finisher, pilot Jake Ellzey, in today’s vote. Wright is the heavy favorite for the GOP nomination and the seat.

TX-7: In the first significant Democratic run-off of the evening, Rep. John Culberson (R-Houston) will find out whom he will face in what could become a competitive general election. Attorney Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, who most of the Democratic Party establishment backs, placed first in March with a 29-24 percent margin over author Laura Mosher. A close finish is expected tonight.

TX-21: This San Antonio-Austin district is the second of three seats where both parties are holding run-off electoral contests. For the favored Republicans, former Ted Cruz chief of staff Chip Roy topped a field of 18 candidates with 27 percent of the vote. He now faces businessman and frequent candidate Matt McCall who captured 17 percent. Roy is favored to ultimately replace retiring Rep. Lamar Smith (R-San Antonio), who won his first congressional election in 1986. The Democratic race features aerospace engineer Joseph Kopser and Baptist Minister Mary Wilson. Wilson placed first in the March 6th primary with 31 percent of the vote, followed closely by Mr. Kopser’s 29 percent.

TX-23: In the state’s one true swing district that stretches from San Antonio to El Paso, Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) runs for a third term. Since it’s origination, this district has seen all six of its previous representatives suffer a defeat at the polls. In the Democratic run-off, former US Trade official Gina Ortiz Jones, who captured 42 percent of the vote in the first election, strives to win the nomination against educator and former San Antonio City Council candidate Rick Trevino. Trevino pulled 17 percent support in the field of five original Democratic candidates. Jones is favored to win tonight. We can expect another toss-up campaign for the fall.

TX-27: Resigned Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi) leaves an open seat and a June 30 special election in his wake. Tonight, both parties will host run-off elections. Republicans are favored to hold the seat, and former Water Development Board chairman Bech Bruun and ex-Victoria County Republican Party chairman and media production company owner Michael Cloud are vying for the party nomination.

TX-31: A spirited Democratic run-off is taking place in Williamson and Bell Counties, as Afghan War veteran and author M.J. Hegar faces Dr. Christine Mann, a physician. In the primary, Hegar garnered 45 percent versus Dr. Mann’s 34 percent. The winner then begins an uphill challenge against eight-term veteran Rep. John Carter (R-Round Rock).

TX-32: In 2016, 11-term Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Dallas) had no Democratic Party opposition. This year, seven Democrats competed in the primary, and two advanced into the run-off election. Civil Rights attorney and former Tennessee Titans NFL football player Colin Allred opposes former Agriculture Deputy Undersecretary Lillian Salerno for the party nomination. In the March 6 primary, Allred earned 38 percent support while Salerno took 18 percent. Allred is favored today and, with its changing demographics, this general election campaign will be more competitive than in immediate past years.

Two New Senate Polls
From Indiana and Rhode Island

By Jim Ellis

gravis-marketing-Anzalone-Liszt-Grove-ResearchMay 21, 2018 — Gravis Marketing went into the field two days after the Indiana primary ended to test the new general election pairing between Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) and former state representative and businessman Mike Braun (R). According to the poll (May 10-15; 400 likely Indiana voters), the race has already lapsed into a dead heat.

Forecast as a toss-up all the way to November, Gravis finds Braun, who scored a 41-30-29 percent Republican primary plurality victory over Reps. Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg/ Lafayette) and Luke Messer (R-Greensburg/Muncie), respectively, edging Sen. Donnelly by a single point on the first ballot test, 45-44 percent.

When respondents leaning to both candidates are added, Gravis reports that Braun is up 47-46 percent. The pollsters pushed the undecideds to make a choice, but the secondary responses reportedly break 19-13 percent for Sen. Donnelly, while the remaining 69 percent maintain they are still undecided. Adding these totals into the decided ballot test appear to produce a 46-46 percent split, but the Gravis analysis gives Braun the one-point lead. Regardless of the mathematical fine-tuning, these results conclude that the Indiana Senate race is already in pure toss-up mode.

Sen. Donnelly posts a 41:40 percent favorable to unfavorable job approval score. This includes 11 percent who say they strongly approve and 18 percent who strongly disapprove. In comparison, President Trump posts a 47:47 percent score, with 24 percent strongly approving and 35 percent strongly disapproving. Indiana’s junior senator, Todd Young (R-IN), was also comparatively tested and recorded a 36:34 percent favorability index (ine percent strongly favorable; 15 percent strongly unfavorable). Hoosier State Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) fared best in the Gravis poll, however. His job approval index is 54:30 percent, with 16 percent and seven percent strongly approving and disapproving, respectively.

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