July 12, 2016 — The US Senate campaigns have attracted a great deal of attention in this election cycle, and they are likely to gain even more as the election cycle progresses. Along with the presidency, control of the legislative chamber is at stake and either party can claim a national victory.
At this point, 11 races are in the Toss-up, Lean Republican, or Lean Democratic categories. Interestingly, except for the New Hampshire campaign, the races appear to fall into five neat pairs. Therefore, the following couplings help us view the national Senate picture:
• Illinois and Wisconsin: Incumbent Republicans Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) are clearly in the most vulnerable of political positions. Both senators trail their Democratic opponents, Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8) and former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), respectively, in all polls. The Illinois voting patterns are decidedly Democratic, and particularly so in presidential years, and Kirk is behind by mid-single digits in every public poll. It is possible his margin worsens.
The Wisconsin numbers are more erratic, with Sen. Johnson recently trailing from between one to 11 points. It is clear that these two states are the top Democratic conversion opportunities, and both must be won if the party is to re-take the majority they lost in the 2014 election.
July 1, 2016 — New recently released national and specific state polls are providing differing views about the presidential campaign’s current status. Though the conclusions vary among the publicly released surveys in terms of margin, all find Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump nationally and in the key states. It the modern political era the early election cycle has always favored the Democratic presidential candidate so the fact that Clinton has the initial advantage is not unusual or unexpected.
Quinnipiac University (June 21-27; 1,610 US registered voters) just released their latest national survey, and find Clinton’s advantage over Trump and Libertarian Gary Johnson has slipped to just 39-37-8 percent, an indication that the gap is closing even though many establishment Republican leaders continue to make anti-Trump public statements.
The new Fox News poll (June 26-28; 1,017 US registered voters) finds Clinton to be in a bit stronger position than does Quinnipiac, however. Fox forecasts a 41-36-10 percent Clinton edge over Trump and Johnson.
June 14, 2015 — In addition to the California races we described in the last Update, key general election campaigns are now underway in Iowa, Montana and North Carolina since their nominees were also chosen on June 7. New Mexico and South Dakota likewise held June 7 primary contests, but all of their incumbents appear safe for re-election.
Senate: Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Grassley (R), who has come under heavy fire for his handling of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, may face a more competitive 2016 political contest than first believed. Originally elected the same night that Ronald Reagan first won the presidency in 1980, Sen. Grassley has never faced a difficult re-election. This year, however, Democrats believe they have an opportunity to make the race competitive.
Their new nominee is former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge, who served one-term under Gov. Chet Culver (D) but was swept from office with him in 2010. Previously, Judge had been appointed as state Agriculture Secretary by then-Gov. Tom Vilsack (D), who, himself, currently serves as President Obama’s top agriculture cabinet member.
Feb. 10, 2016 — New Hampshire voters went to the polls yesterday for the long-anticipated New Hampshire presidential primary. A plethora of pre-primary political surveys suggested that Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders would win the respective Republican and Democratic primaries there. And they were right.
Though the media gives undue attention to this first-in-the-nation primary in relation to its size, long-term momentum is often built in the Granite State. For Republicans, New Hampshire possesses only 23 delegates (from a universe of 2,472), 20 of which are apportioned by today’s vote. On the Democratic side, this primary awards 32 delegates from an overall universe of 4,763.
With Trump placing first as the last 10 public polls all suggested –- in margins from nine to 21 points – he leads the pack of GOP candidates with a cumulative 18 total delegates even when combining his New Hampshire and Iowa totals. This still is less than two percent of the number that he, or any other contender, needs to clinch the nomination.