Oct. 24, 2016 — With the presidential race appearing just about wrapped up, the Senate races are taking the center stage for competitiveness. Some of the races are changing.
The first section identifies competitive races that now appear set:
Arizona – Sen. John McCain (R) now looks to be a strong bet for re-election, as he leads Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff) in all polling. Additionally, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) has pulled its media money, sending it to other states.
Illinois – Sen. Mark Kirk (R) appears in no position to overcome the strong Democratic trends that he faces. Therefore, Rep. Tammy Duckworth’s (D-Hoffman Estates) advantage should hold through Election Day, and she will become the new senator when the Congress convenes in January.
Iowa – Veteran Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) continues to cement his lead over Lt. Gov. Patty Judge (D). Neither party is emphasizing the race and the only October poll recorded (Des Moines Register/Selzer & Company; Oct. 3-6; 642 likely Iowa voters) again projects Sen. Grassley’s lead as approaching 20 points (53-36 percent).
Aug. 19, 2016 — Monmouth University (Aug. 13-16; 403 likely Indiana voters; 351 drawn from registered voters list; 52 random digit dial cell phone responses) released their new Indiana voter survey and the results report varying degrees of Republican improvement, though the polling sample may skew slightly toward the GOP.
Indiana is a very important 2016 political state. Among the 23 states that appear to be bedrock Republican for the presidential race — and must all vote for Donald Trump if he is to have any chance of winning the national election — Indiana is the only one to stray away from the party nominee in this century. In 2008, Hoosier State voters chose Barack Obama over John McCain by a 50-49 percent margin.
Therefore, with Indiana being a must-win Republican state for Trump, it likely factored into Trump’s decision to choose its governor, Mike Pence, as his vice presidential running mate.
We continue to see strong evidence that the Democratic move to replace former Rep. Baron Hill (D-Bloomington) for ex-senator and governor Evan Bayh, just hours before the ballot finalization deadline, has made the state pivotal in determining which party controls the new Senate majority. Prior to the Bayh move, it appeared that Rep. Todd Young (R-Bloomington) was cruising to a general election victory, thus keeping retiring Sen. Dan Coats’ (R) seat in the GOP column.
Aug. 15, 2016 — A plethora of new swing state Senate polls have been conducted and already released in August, and both parties are getting some good news in specific races.
The two states ripe for electing a senator from a different party are Illinois and Wisconsin. Such has been known for the better part of a year, and the latest polls are no exception to the developing trends.
Illinois Senate Democratic nominee Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8) released her internal Normington Petts research firm poll (Aug. 1-4; 800 likely Illinois general election voters) projecting a 44-37 percent Duckworth lead over Sen. Mark Kirk (R). Marquette University Law School, again polling the Wisconsin electorate (Aug. 4-7; 805 registered Wisconsin voters) as they have done regularly since the 2012 election, finds former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) topping incumbent Ron Johnson (R), 53-42 percent. This result swings a net of six points in Feingold’s favor when compared to the institution’s July survey. At that time, Feingold led 49-44 percent.
All the key Republican defense battleground states reported new August numbers. The good news for Democrats comes in Pennsylvania where challenger Katie McGinty (D) made a significant gain on Sen. Pat Toomey (R), to the point where several polls find her building a small lead.
July 19, 2016 — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s selection as Donald Trump’s Republican vice presidential nominee begins an unusual succession process. Immediately, the members of the Indiana Republican Party’s State Committee must take action to choose replacement nominees for what is becoming a series of vacancies.
Friday was the state deadline to finalize the November ballot. Up until noon on July 15, candidates throughout Indiana could withdraw after winning the May 3 primary, leaving the affected political party structure in charge of selecting replacements. Never has the ballot deadline created such an active period.
Somewhat lost in the deadline flurry of activity surrounding Pence’s ascension to the national ticket, was the Democratic move earlier in the week when party leaders were able to convince ex-Rep. Baron Hill (D-IN-9) to withdraw from the Senate race and allow former senator and governor, Evan Bayh (D), to step in as the replacement.
July 13, 2016 — The big political news on Monday saw the Democrats engineering a surprise Senate comeback. Former Indiana senator and governor, Evan Bayh, confirmed he will now enter the Hoosier State’s open federal statewide campaign. Earlier, ex-US Rep. Baron Hill (D-IN-9), who won the Democratic nomination in the May 3 Senate primary, withdrew from the race thus allowing the party leaders to name his replacement. The candidate swap had to be completed before close of business on July 15, the state deadline for ballot qualification.
It’s a strong Democratic move clearly in two ways, but the Bayh political re-entry also places him in a potentially awkward position.
First, the Democratic leaders needed to find a way to make the open Indiana race competitive. It was painfully clear that Hill, whose campaign was basically moribund, was failing to give Republican nominee Todd Young, the current 9th District congressman, a serious run, so they opted for ex-Sen. Bayh.
Second, though at the time of his exit from the political scene six years ago Democratic leaders were incensed that Bayh would not part with any of the $9-plus million he kept in his campaign account, they are now pleased to see this huge asset for their new candidate and party.