An Array of Surprises Lining up for Incumbents

On the heels of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s stunning Republican primary loss last week in Virginia, a series of new polls and developments suggest further surprises could be on the political horizon …


First, in Louisiana, scandal-tainted Rep. Vance McAllister (R-LA-5), who announced that he would not seek a second term after being caught in an extra-marital affair, stated in a local radio interview this week that he is having second thoughts about retiring and is now leaning “55-45” in favor of running again. This development certainly merits further attention.

State Sen. Neil Riser (R), whom McAllister defeated in the 2013 special election after then-Rep. Rodney Alexander (R) resigned, has not yet committed to the race but is certainly leaning toward running based upon his public comments. The Louisiana filing deadline, because the jungle primary runs concurrently with the November general election, isn’t until Aug. 22, so much time remains for both men, and others, to finally decide upon their 2014 electoral course of action.


Magellan Strategies conducted a series of surveys for the National Mining Association, and several of the polls produced unexpected results. Despite their newly released data generally reporting good news for Democrats, one place seeing a reverse trend is Colorado. Though the race between Sen. Mark Udall (D) and Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO-4) has produced close results for the past several months, the new Magellan survey (June 5-8; 747 likely Colorado voters) gives Rep. Gardner his first lead. According to this latest poll, the congressman enjoys a 45-42 percent advantage.


The Merriman River Group (June 7-9; 729 likely Hawaii Democratic primary voters) again finds Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) in surprising re-election trouble. In the Democratic primary, state Sen. David Ige (D) leads the Governor 48-37 percent, the second time the firm has found Abercrombie either tied with or trailing his intra-party challenger. But the governor’s vulnerability is apparent for the general election, too.

When paired with former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona (R) before a universe of 1,078 registered voters, it is the Republican challenger – the man whom Abercrombie beat 58-41 percent in 2010 – taking a 33-27 percent lead. If Sen. Ige were the Democratic nominee, both he and Aiona would be tied at 31 percent. Abercrombie is already running attack ads against Ige, taking advantage of his huge resource edge, but giving further credence to the premise that the governor could lose.


The Magellan Strategies Kentucky Senate data produced another surprise. While Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) had been running ahead of Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) in all polling since the May 20th primary, Magellan (June 4-5; 808 registered Kentucky voters via autodial) actually shows the Senate Republican Leader falling behind his general election opponent 46-49 percent.

The result is even more unconventional when overlaying the sampling universe’s negative reaction to the Environmental Protection Agency’s just-released regulations that adversely affect the coal industry, one of Kentucky’s key economic drivers. In the poll, only 34 percent of those tested say they support the regulations versus 52 percent reporting opposition, 43 percent of which is strongly negative.


Despite Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) making a major early media pitch in her drive for re-election, the Magellan data (June 5-8; 719 likely Louisiana voters via autodial) finds challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6) leading the senator 50-44 percent. Currently, the Landrieu campaign is running a series of clever ads featuring the senator and her father, former New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu. The preponderance of all previous polling has given Landrieu an edge. This is the first survey to project Rep. Cassidy hitting the 50 percent mark.


Conflicting polling data is coming from the Michigan Senate race. Local Mitchell Research (June 6; 961 likely Michigan general election voters via automated messaging) again produces data that puts Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-14) and former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) within the margin of error (Peters leading 45-42 percent), as most other polls have done. But the new Magellan study (June 5-8; 753 likely Michigan voters via autodial) rather unexpectedly finds Peters holding a nine-point lead, 50-41 percent.


Survey USA is also getting into the act, producing new polling numbers that already show a clear tightening of the Minnesota Senate race. Little so far has been coming from the proposed challenge to first-term Sen. Al Franken (D), but the S-USA results (June 5-9; 1,017 likely Minnesota voters) project the incumbent to be holding only a 48-42 percent advantage over GOP businessman Mike McFadden.

On the heels of the Cantor loss and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) being forced into a run-off, it appears that further upsets are beginning to formulate throughout the country.

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