By Jim Ellis
Sept. 27, 2016 — As the presidential candidates debated last evening, other political news is also is bubbling to the surface. In three House races, recent conflicting polling data in two and the respective party operatives seeing things much differently in a third yield contradictory analyses.
As we’ve reported many times before, the NH-1 race this year represents the fourth consecutive campaign between Rep. Frank Guinta (R-Manchester) and former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D). Guinta won in 2010 and 2014, Shea-Porter in 2012. This year promises to be close again in the New Hampshire district that has defeated more incumbents during the last 10 years than any other congressional seat.
Guinta became vulnerable virtually from the point of his winning the seat back in 2014. A Federal Election Commission violation proved to be a major setback for him in the off-year, but he rebounded to the point of barely winning his primary on Sept. 13 (a 629-vote margin). Democrats rate NH-1 as one of their best conversion opportunities in the nation.
Now, however, we see a post-primary conflict. In a poll conducted Sept. 14-18 and released last week, North Star Opinion Research for the National Republican Congressional Committee (427 NH-1 registered voters) finds Guinta leading Shea-Porter, 41-38 percent.
The Normington Petts research firm followed with a Democratic poll (Sept. 18-21; 400 registered NH-1 voters) that projects very different trends. According to this data, Shea-Porter has a 50-39 percent lead in a two-way ballot test with Guinta. But, the race features several more candidates, including former Democrat Shawn O’Connor who has the wherewithal to also actively contest the seat. With the three independents added, Shea-Porter’s advantage drops slightly to 44-34-4-4-4 percent.
Obviously, the Republican and Democratic polls are far apart, therefore not providing a consistent picture about where the race currently stands. The likely conclusion portends another very close final tally.
The open New York 19th District (Rep. Chris Gibson-R retiring) is also the site of a contest featuring conflicting polling data. Previously, former state assembly minority leader and 2006 GOP gubernatorial nominee John Faso released a McLaughlin & Associates survey of 400 registered voters that posted the Republican to a 46-41 percent lead over law professor and former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee responded by releasing its internal tracking system poll that projects Teachout landing in virtually the opposite position as the Faso survey illustrates. According to the party data (532 registered NY-19 voters), Teachout now holds a 47-42 percent edge. The poll also reports a generic Democratic and Republican ballot test yielding a 44-44 percent tie.
McLaughlin has been one of the least reliable pollsters in the last two election cycles, and the DCCC internal polling has also contained a high degree of inaccurate survey work. Often times, both have over-estimated their own candidates’ standing, which could again be the case here.
As in most of the Republican-held upstate New York congressional districts, we can expect a close finish on Election Day.
Florida Republican Rep. John Mica’s 7th District has become much more competitive under the state’s new redistricting plan. Adding the city of Sanford makes the seat more Democratic, yielding what should be a tighter congressional race come November.
At this point, however, it appears that only one party structure is preparing for a major battle. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has reserved $3 million worth of television time to bolster their candidate, local college professor Stephanie Murphy. The liberal House Majority PAC is also in for an $800,000 buy. The Republican Party structure has reserved nothing. While Rep. Mica has close to a 7:1 advantage over Murphy in cash-on-hand, the resource imbalance at this point appears to favor the challenger.
Expect the Republicans to counter hard here, since the new 7th is only a 50-50 district in terms of partisan vote analysis. Rep. Mica has proven his strength in other elections, but he again faces a significant test in a different central Florida district.