Another Democrat Retirement;
New Nevada Senate Polling

Jan. 7, 2016 — Former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Steve Israel (D-NY-3) announced that he will not seek a ninth term from his Long Island congressional district yesterday, bringing the total 2016 open seat number to 35, 15 of which are Democrat-held.

New York’s 3rd District changed significantly in the 2011 redistricting plan, as did GOP Rep. Peter King’s 2nd District that adjoins it to the south. Both seats were made surprisingly more competitive when compared to their previous districts. Israel’s district, formerly the 2nd, was made more Republican. King’s CD, previously labeled District 3, became more Democratic. Both incumbents won two re-elections under the new boundaries, but the prevailing political wisdom suggested that both seats could flip to the opposite party in an open seat scenario. Since Israel will not be on the ballot here this November, Republicans will likely make a move to covert the district.

In 2012, President Obama carried the new 3rd District, but only with a 51-48 percent spread. Rep. Israel won re-election in 2014 with a margin of 53-44 percent against a candidate, Republican Grant Lally, who spent less than $200,000 on his campaign effort. Two years earlier, versus similar opposition, Israel claimed a 51-37 percent win.

The 3rd District occupies part of Long Island’s north shore, beginning in the town of Kings Park and continuing west on the Long Island Expressway through Huntington, Israel’s domain, and then as far as University Gardens on the way to Queens and Brooklyn.

Considering the Israel announcement is a surprise to the leadership of both parties, it is unclear which Democratic and Republican candidates will eventually come forward to run. This seat should be considered as “Lean Democratic” in the upcoming presidential election year, but Republicans certainly have a conversion opportunity.

New York features four open seats in this election cycle, those of representatives Israel, Charlie Rangel (D-NY-13), Chris Gibson (R-NY-19), and Richard Hanna (R-NY-22). All will see healthy political competition, though the 13th District political race will be confined to the Democratic primary as the Harlem-anchored seat is one of the strongest Dem seats in the country. The others will see general election competition.

Nevada Senate

A new Gravis Marketing poll (Dec. 23-27; 909 registered Nevada voters) suggests that outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s (D) seat is very much in play for Republicans, which could thwart Democratic hopes of regaining the majority in the elections later this year.

According to Gravis, Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV-3), the presumed open seat Republican nominee, leads former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D), the all-but-assured Democratic general election candidate, 47-37 percent. This is the third consecutive poll giving Rep. Heck an advantage beyond the margin of error.

The poll was well balanced from a partisan perspective in relation to actual Nevada voter registration statistics. In the Gravis poll, 43 percent of the respondents were Democrats as compared to 39 percent self-identified Republicans. The actual partisan numbers break 39-35 percent in favor of the Democrats.

Nevada is a swing state and will play a major role in determining the presidential election in November. Holding the Reid seat is a must if the Democrats are going to mount an effective effort to convert the four or five Republican seats they need to regain Senate control. Should they lose Nevada, the Dems would need to convert six Republican states should the Democratic presidential nominee win, and seven if she does not.

The Nevada race promises to be one of the premier Senate campaigns during this election year.

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