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Period Ending August 1, 2014

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This weekly roundup of election news and notes is compiled for Thompson Coburn by the The Ellis Insight.

Senate

YouGov/New York Times: The international Internet polling firm YouGov and the New York Times partnered to survey 2014 political campaigns in all 50 states, and released the data during the past weekend. While Internet polling is often less reliable than when employing traditional survey research techniques, the YouGov surveys have developed, at the very least, a serviceable reputation. The polls will be quoted often in the following state snips.

Arkansas: The Natural State Senate campaign between two-term incumbent Mark Pryor (D) and Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR-4) continues to seesaw, as it has done for the better part of a full year. This week, four different polls were released. Two give Pryor an advantage; two more, including the YouGov/NYT survey, posts Cotton to a lead. The Pryor campaign commissioned a Harstad Research survey (7/7-10; 807 AR likely voters) but only released the data this past week. This result posts the Senator to a 45-39% advantage, and is clearly the best of the four from his perspective. Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, a Democratic firm surveying in the Arkansas Governor’s race (7/20-24; 600 AR likely voters) found Pryor ahead 44-42%. But YouGov/NYT (1,628 AR registered voters) sees Cotton with a 49-45% edge, counting leaners, and the Talk Business/Hendrix College regular Arkansas poll (7/22-25; 1,780 AR registered voters) also finds a 44-42% split, but in the 4th District Congressman’s favor.

Georgia: While YouGov/NYT (2,541 GA registered voters) gives Republican nominee David Perdue a 47-42% advantage, counting leaners for both candidates, the new Vox Populi polling firm (7/27-28; 624 GA registered voters) finds the GOP contender holding a more substantial 49-40% margin. Non-profit group president Michelle Nunn is the Democratic nominee.

Hawaii: With the Democratic Senatorial primary fast approaching on August 9th, Public Policy Polling (7/23-24; 410 HI Democratic primary voters) finds appointed Sen. Brian Schatz leading Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI-1) by a substantial 49-39% margin. This race appeared very tight at the beginning of the campaign cycle but Schatz appears to be pulling away at precisely the right time.

Illinois: In a race that has attracted no national attention because Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D) appears to be a lock for re-election, the YouGov/NYT research (5,324 IL registered voters), using a very large respondent pool, finds the Senator only ahead of state Senator and frequent statewide candidate Jim Oberweis (R) by a 48-41% margin. Gov. Pat Quinn’s (D) consistently poor showing in polling for the past several months could be a factor in Durbin’s standing. Also, with all incumbents faring poorly on job approval and distrust of Washington, all re-election percentages could be below average in 2014.

Kansas: The interesting Kansas Republican primary is coming to culmination on August 5th, and Sen. Pat Roberts (R) appears to be in relatively strong position to win re-nomination, but his general election effort may or may not be tightening. Survey USA (7/17-22; 2,079 KS registered voters; 691 Republican primary voters) finds the Senator leading his Republican primary opponent, Dr. Milton Wolf, 50-30%. But the general election match-up with Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor (D) is much closer. With two Independent candidates combining for what will be an unlikely 18 percentage points, Roberts leads Taylor only 38-33%. But, the YouGov/NYT poll (1,281 KS registered voters) gives Roberts a more substantial 53-37% spread, but they didn’t test the independent candidates.

Kentucky: Several polls were also released in the Mitch McConnell-Alison Grimes Senate battle. Survey USA conducts the semi-regular Bluegrass Poll for the Kentucky media, and this latest data (7/18-23; 714 KY registered voters) gives the Senate Minority leader a 47-45% edge over Ms. Grimes, Kentucky’s Secretary of State. In the YouGov/NYT series (1,546 KY registered voters), McConnell has a slightly larger 49-45% advantage, when leaners for both candidates are added.

Michigan: Conflicting polls were released here, in an open seat race during the past month that has been trending toward Democratic Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-14). Rasmussen Reports (7/28-29; 750 MI likely voters) finds Mr. Peters leading former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) by a 45-39% count, a typical finding from what we’ve been seeing over the past four weeks. But, the YouGov/NYT data (3,849 MI registered voters) finds Ms. Land taking a one-point 45-44% slight edge, again when all leaners are included.

North Carolina: A new Gravis Marketing poll (7/22-27; 1,380 NC registered voters) again finds Sen. Kay Hagan (D) clinging to a lead over state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R), but languishing in the 40s. This result gives her a 44-41% edge. The YouGov/NYT poll (2,678 NC voters) finds Tillis leading 45-44%. Expect this race to remain in toss-up status all the way to November.

South Dakota: Clarity Campaigns, surveying for the Rick Weiland campaign (7/16-23; 3,837 SD registered voters through Interactive Voice Response system) tested the South Dakota Senate electorate and found former Gov. Mike Rounds (R) continuing to run well ahead of Democratic nominee Weiland and Independents Larry Pressler and Gordon Howie. The results give Rounds a 34-24-10-3% lead over Weiland, former Sen. Pressler, and Howie. Sen. Tim Johnson (D) is retiring. This is a must-win Republican campaign. The YouGov/NYT poll (631 SD registered voters) only tested Rounds against Weiland. Their result gives the former Governor a commanding 59-33% with leaners.

Tennessee: In yet another Republican primary, this one on Thursday, August 7th, Sen. Lamar Alexander released polling numbers showing his lead expanding. According to his campaign’s North Star Opinion Research survey (7/27-29; 600 TN likely GOP primary voters), Mr. Alexander is now staked to a 53-29% advantage over state Rep. Joe Carr (R).

House

Kansas Primaries: Three House members face primary competition on August 5th of varying degrees. The most competitive battle features two-term Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS-4) pitted against the man he succeeded in the House, former Rep. Todd Tiahrt. Pompeo is expected to score a convincing victory.

In the 1st District, former school superintendent Alan LaPolice opposes two-term Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R). Despite Huelskamp being ostracized by the GOP leadership, he is well positioned to win again.

Finally, three-term Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS-2) faces the least serious of the three challenges. Ron Paul activist Joshua Tucker is Jenkins’ opponent, but she should cruise to re-nomination, and to a fourth term in November.

Michigan Primaries: Five key primaries are on tap for Tuesday, August 5th, in the Wolverine State. One incumbent, Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI-11) appears headed for defeat at the hands of attorney and GOP activist David Trott. Another, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI-3), faces a stiff challenge from Grand Rapids businessman Brian Ellis (R). Amash has held consistent leads throughout, but Ellis has amassed strong support and has a grassroots turnout operation.

The open 4th District is seeing quite a battle between state Sen. John Moolenaar and businessman Paul Mitchell. Two separate polls forecast a flat tie in this contest. House Ways & Means Committee chairman Dave Camp (R), who has endorsed Moolenaar, is retiring.

In the Lansing area’s 8th District, the seat that veteran Rep. Mike Rogers (R) is leaving, former state Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R) appears well positioned to score a primary victory. He is opposed by state Rep. Tom McMillan.

Finally, a three-way contest in a Detroit Democratic primary leaves us guessing as to who will win. At some point, former Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-MI-13), Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence, and state Rep. Rudy Hobbs could point to polls showing them to be ahead. Tuesday’s winner will take the seat in November.

Governor

Arkansas: As part of the Azalone Liszt Grove Research poll of Arkansas voters (7/20-24; 600 AR likely voters), the group finds former Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR-3) leading ex-Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR-4) by a 46-41% count. The Republican has generally been ahead by a number smaller than five points during most of the election cycle. Sen. Pryor’s Harstad Research poll (see Arkansas Senate above) found a much tighter gubernatorial contest, with Hutchinson leading only 42-41%.

Hawaii: The aforementioned Public Policy Polling survey (see Hawaii Senate) also tested the very interesting Democratic gubernatorial contest. Here, state Sen. David Ige continues to perform well against incumbent Neil Abercrombie, and may be positioned to score a major upset on August 9th. According to the PPP survey, Ige leads the Governor 49-39%, the exact same figures that they found for appointed Sen. Schatz against Rep. Hanabusa. Abercrombie’s approval numbers fell into negative territory several months ago and have never bounced back. This is now a very serious challenge despite the Governor’s lopsided financial advantage.

Michigan: Though neither Gov. Rick Snyder (R) or ex-Rep. Mark Schauer (D-MI-7) face primary competition on Tuesday, Rasmussen Reports was in the field sampling the general election. According to their data (7/28-29; 750 MI general election voters) Snyder has only a 45-42% edge. The YouGov/NYT (3,812 MI registered voters) poll finds a similar 46-43% spread.

Ohio: Quinnipiac University (7/24-28; 1,366 OH registered voters) again tested the Ohio Governor’s race and finds Gov. John Kasich (R) improving his position. The results show the first term Governor posting a 48-36% advantage over Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald (D). The YouGov/NYT (3,624 OH registered voters) finds a similar Kasich edge, 49-43%.