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Period Ending October 26, 2018

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

Senate

Arizona: The Arizona-based Data Orbital polling firm (10/16-17; 600 AZ likely voters) finds Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) again assuming a small lead over Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson). But, the results are from a turnout model that project a record Democratic surge and another that forecasts a historically-based high Democratic turnout. Under the record Democratic turnout model, which means the party's vote is nine points higher than past midterm turnouts, Sinema leads 48-40%. Under a turnout projection that gives the Democrats a participation factor on the high side of actual voter history but not record-breaking - which means a five-points higher than average Democratic vote according to DO - Sinema posts a 46-41% result.

California: A new Public Policy Institute of California survey suggests that a politically weakened Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) will be re-elected in less than two weeks. According to the PPIC poll (10/12-21; 1,700 CA adults; 989 CA likely voters), Sen. Feinstein continues to lead state Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) by a 43-27% count.

Florida: The latest public survey from a plethora of polling comes from Gray Television/ Strategic Research (10/16-23; 800 FL likely voters). This data gave Sen. Bill Nelson (D) another slight one-point lead, 46-45%, over Gov. Rick Scott (R). The Gray poll is another example of late data bringing this race back into the toss-up realm after several polls had projected three-term incumbent Nelson to be pulling away. A day before, Florida Atlantic University (10/18-21; 740 FL likely voters) released their latest survey. They see Gov. Rick Scott (R) returning to the lead, 42-41%, meaning we can again categorize this race as a "pick 'em" campaign.

Indiana: While the Indiana Senate race, commonly viewed as a toss-up, has seen little in the way of released public polling until just recently now features three new released surveys. Survey USA poll (10/12-16; 1,400 IN adults, 1,048 registered voters; 816 likely voters) finds Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) clinging only to a 41-40% slight edge over former state Representative and international businessman Mike Braun (R). But, the other two, from Mason Strategies (10/15-20; 600 IN likely voters) and American Viewpoint (10/14-17; 800 IN likely voters) posts Mr. Braun to a lead. Mason projects Mr. Braun to a 47-43% edge. American Viewpoint has his lead at 44-40%.

Michigan: The new EPIC/MRA poll for the Detroit Free Press and several television stations (10/18-23; 600 MI “active” voters) sees retired Army Ranger and manufacturing company owner John James (R) coming within single digits of Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) for the first time. The poll results project the spread between the two candidates to be 49-42% in the Senator's favor. Though Mr. James may be making this campaign a bit tighter, it appears his upward move will be too little, too late.

Minnesota: A new Minneapolis Star Tribune/Minnesota Public Radio poll (10/15-17; 800 MN likely voters) shows state Sen. Karin Housley (R-St. Croix River Valley) closing the gap against appointed Senator Tina Smith (D). This survey finds the new Senator's lead to be only 47-41%. To put the margin in perspective, the Star Tribune/MPR study also tested Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D), who is also on the ballot. In her race, Sen. Klobuchar holds a commanding 56-33% advantage over state Rep. Jim Newberger (R-Becker). The Smith-Housley race continues to be one to watch.

Mississippi: The prevailing wisdom once state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville) entered the special US Senate election was that a late November run-off would be necessary to determine who serves the balance of the current term. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) was appointed in March to replace Sen. Thad Cochran (R) when he resigned for health reasons.

A new NBC News/Marist College poll (10/13-18; 973 MS adults; 856 MS registered voters; 511 MS likely voters) finds Sen. Hyde-Smith leading former US Agriculture Secretary and Mississippi Congressman Mike Espy and Mr. McDaniel, 38-29-15%, respectively. If these margins hold, the appointed incumbent and Mr. Espy would advance to a November 27th run-off election. Marist asked an early run-off question and found Sen. Hyde-Smith leading Mr. Espy, 50-36%, if the two were to face each other in the post-Thanksgiving election.

Nevada: Public Policy Polling conducted a healthcare survey for the Protect our Care organization (10/15-16; 648 NV likely voters). The questionnaire contained several questions designed to promote the Democratic position on healthcare and detract from the Republicans. Considering this, Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson) holds a 48-46% lead over Sen. Dean Heller (R) according to the PPP results. Recently, most polling has shown Sen. Heller leading, so these results, especially when push questions are involved, are not wholly inconsistent with the recent trend.

West Virginia: Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's (R) campaign released their latest internal data, which is different than any other published survey. The Fabrizio Lee firm, polling for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (10/16-18; 600 WV likely voters), finds Mr. Morrisey leading Sen. Joe Manchin (D), 44-42%.

This is the first poll since May that finds Mr. Morrisey topping Sen. Manchin. During virtually the same period, Strategic Research Associates (10/12-19; 650 WV likely voters) finds Sen. Manchin ahead, 52-36%. While the Fabrizio data appears to be too favorable for Morrisey, the Strategic poll appears as an outlier on the other wing. In the last ten polls, Sen. Manchin has averaged 46.7% of the respondents' preference, and topped 50% in only one of the surveys.

House

AR-2: As they usually do in the days preceding major elections, Hendrix College surveyed the Arkansas electorate. The only even quasi-competitive congressional campaign lies in the Little Rock anchored 2nd District. Here, state Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock) is challenging two-term US Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock). Hendrix's survey (10/17-18; 590 AR-2 likely voters) finds Rep. Hill holding a relatively strong 52-40% lead over Mr. Tucker, which tracks with the district's voting history. Mr. Hill won his first two elections by eight and 21 points, respectively, in 2014 and 2016.

CA-48: Monmouth University went into the field in Rep. Dana Rohrabacher's (R-Costa Mesa) Orange County district and, as they have been routinely doing, tested under a typical midterm turnout model, a participation factor that features a Democrat surge, and another that forecasts a below average turnout. The poll (10/17-21; 372 CA-48 likely voters) projects a close race under all turnout scenarios. Under the typical midterm turnout model, Rep. Rohrabacher leads 50-48%. The edge swaps to opponent Harley Rouda (D) under the Democratic surge model, also in a 50-48% clip. Mr. Rohrabacher performs best if the turnout is low: up 52-46%.

FL-15: Though the Central Florida 15th District, anchored in the city of Lakeland, possesses a reliably Republican voting history, the open seat contest between state Rep. Ross Spano (R-Riverview) and attorney Kristen Carlson (D), is a developing close race. According to a just released Siena College/New York Times survey (10/16-19; 499 FL-15 likely voters from 23,795 original contacts) the two candidates tied at 43% apiece.

Remington Research also went into the field during this same sampling period (10/17-18; 1,369 FL-15 likely voters; automated) but found Mr. Spano clinging to a more comfortable 47-41% advantage. Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Lakeland) is retiring after four terms.

GA-6: After spending over $50 million in combined money to decide the 2017 special election that Rep. Karen Handel (R-Roswell) ultimately won, things have been relatively quiet during the regular cycle. Now, however, we see the gun control organization Everytown for Gun Safety indicating they are spending over $1.8 million to support Democratic nominee Lucy McBath, a former organization spokesperson.

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A new JMC Analytics survey (10/13-18; 500 GA-6 voters from a representative sample) finds Rep. Handel holding only a 49-45% advantage over Ms. McBath, suggesting that the large monetary infusion could have some effect. The 6th District is habitually Republican, so a McBath victory would be a major upset, but the numbers suggest such an outcome is at least an outside possibility.

GA-7: It has been commonly reported upon that four-term Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville) has a much more competitive re-election battle on his hands this year than the other three times when he appeared on the ballot as the incumbent. A new JMC Analytics poll (10/13-18; 500 GA-7 likely voters) finds the Congressman leading his opponent, former state Senate Budget director Carolyn Bourdeaux (D), but with only a 49-43% advantage. While Rep. Woodall must continue to be considered a clear favorite for re-election from what should be a reliable Republican district, this is becoming yet another race to watch.

Governor

Alaska: Alaska Survey Research is reporting the first statewide polling figures since Independent Gov. Bill Walker ended his run for re-election and endorsed former US Senator Mark Begich (D). The ASR poll (10/19-22; 500 AK likely voters) gives former state Sen. Mike Dunleavy (R) a 48-44% lead over ex-Sen. Begich. The only way that either Walker or Begich had of derailing Dunleavy was to coalesce behind one candidate. Now that such has happened, this race is expected to become even closer.

Florida: With only one previous poll finding resigned Rep. Ron DeSantis (R) taking the lead in the open Governor's race before yesterday, two surveys found him to be topping Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D). The accompanying Gray Television/Strategic Research survey (see Florida Senate above) finds Mr. DeSantis holding a 48-45% lead. The 1892 polling organization (10/20-22; 2,500 FL registered voters; automated) sees DeSantis forging a one point, 47-46% edge. But, Gravis Marketing was also in the field (10/22-23; 773 FL likely voters) and comes to an opposite conclusion: Gillum up, 51-46%.

Louisiana: It appears first term Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy (R) is serious about running for Governor. He stated late this week that he will announce his decision about running statewide next year before December 1st. He also said that "it's hard to stomach what's happening in Louisiana right now," which is a pretty good clue that he will enter the race. With a 2019 statewide election schedule, Sen. Kennedy will not have to risk his current position to run for Governor. He next stands for re-election in 2022. Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) is expected to seek re-election. Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) and US Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto/ Monroe) are also possible contenders. Wealthy developer Eddie Ripsone (R) has already announced his candidacy.

Michigan: Looking at the same EPIC/MRA survey mentioned above (see Michigan Senate), we also see Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette closing his deficit against Democratic former state House Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer. In this poll, Ms. Whitmer's advantage drops to 46-41%. But, the Anzalone Liszt Grove Democratic poll (10/15-21; 906 MI likely voters) finds the spread to be much greater, and more in line with previous polling. The ALG study returns Whitmer to a low double-digit advantage, 47-36%.

South Dakota: A new Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategies survey for the Sioux Falls Argus Leader (10/18-22; 500 SD registered voters) finds US at-large Rep. Kristi Noem (R-Castlewood) and state Senate Minority Leader Billie Sutton (D-Burke) in a flat tie at 45% support. This is a surprising number from a state that has a strong Republican voting history.