Upsets in the Making

Recent new polls have revealed lesser known US House challengers positioning themselves to either defeat an incumbent or win the other party’s open seat. We take a look at several:


The Little Rock-anchored 2nd District in Arkansas has belonged to the Republicans for the last four years in the person of Rep. Tim Griffin, but having a GOP representative here is not the historical norm. With the congressman deciding to stay closer to home and running for lieutenant governor instead of re-election to the House, AR-2 is again open.

Before Griffin came into office, one must turn the clock back to the mid-1970s to see a Republican representing this seat. Rep. Ed Bethune (R) served three terms prior to retiring, but you have traverse history 104 years before to find another elected Republican from this district (Rep. Tommy Robinson did serve one of his three terms as a Republican directly succeeding Bethune, but only after switching from the Democratic Party).

Under this backdrop, Republican banker French Hill attempts to hold the seat for his party, but a new survey from the non-partisan, and highly accurate, Hendrix College – Talk Business & Politics (Oct. 15-16; 605 likely AR-2 voters) finds him trailing.

Former North Little Rock Mayor Patrick Henry Hays (D), who has run strong television advertising about his role in local job creation and cutting bureaucratic red tape in order to induce further business formation during his 24 years as a local mayor, has now opened an advantage over the GOP banker. Additionally, Hays has been the beneficiary of independent advertising that attacks Hill as a wealthy banker whose business received $750 million in government funds from a state treasurer who was later convicted of bribery.

The one-two punch puts Hays up 46-41 percent over Republican Hill according to the Hendrix College data.


In San Jose, Calif., a Democrat vs. Democrat general election battle continues to ensue between Rep. Mike Honda and former Obama Administration official Ro Khanna. With all of the Democratic establishment supporting the incumbent, this race has failed to attract national attention until maybe now. From time to time, there has been a poll released, usually pegging the congressman to a sizable lead, but Honda has appeared nervous, nonetheless. Khanna’s spending of more than $3.9 million on the race to date is undoubtedly leading to the congressman’s uneasiness.

A new Survey USA poll (Oct. 16-19; 579 likely CA-17 voters) finds the congressman leading Khanna only by a 37-35 percent count, possibly spurring Honda to launch a series of negative ads against his opponent. Both candidates are now fully engaged and spending wildly.


After Iraq War veteran Seth Moulton unseated Rep. John Tierney (D-Salem) in the 6th District Massachusetts Democratic primary, he became the odds-on favorite to win in November. A new poll, however, finds the going not so easy for the first-time candidate as Republican nominee Richard Tisei, a former state senator who came within one percentage point of beating Tierney in 2012, now has taken a lead in a unique new poll from Optimus Analytics Lab.

The poll, conducted for the New Majority for Massachusetts Super PAC, questioned 6,929 individuals in order to create a large sample survey, better for drilling down into the various demographic and ideological segments. Attempting to strive for a better conclusion than those derived from small-sample pollsters, Optimus surveyed this northeastern Massachusetts congressional district – territory that Republicans must win if they are to have any chance of winning the competitive gubernatorial contest as well as the US House campaign. According to the questioning during the Oct. 6-9 period, Tisei now holds a 40-36 percent lead over Moulton, and 47-45 percent when leaners to both candidates are added; much different from earlier post-Sept. 9 polling had projected.


Each of these House races could feature an upset in the next two weeks. It merits monitoring the process in each place to see if the original favorites can get back on track and win.

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