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Period Ending October 30, 2020

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


Alabama: Though the Alabama Senate race is one of the most important on the board for majority control, few pollsters have paid much attention. The only consistent pollster is the University of Auburn at Montgomery, which has just released a new ballot test result as we approach Election Day. The survey (10/23-28; 853 AL likely voters; online) finds retired head football coach Tommy Tuberville (R) topping incumbent Sen. Doug Jones (D), 54-43%. This type of margin is consistent with previous polls, and Mr. Tuberville remains the favorite to win on Tuesday.

Arizona: We have six polls reporting from what could be the most important state on the presidential map, Arizona, and three are looking up for President Trump, while another trio are trending downward. The Morning Consult survey (10/11-20; 1,066 AZ likely voters; online) finds President Trump leading former Vice President Joe Biden, 48-47%, while Susquehanna Polling & Research (10/19-22; 500 AZ likely voters; live interview) projects the two tied at 47%. Basswood Research, earlier in October (10/3-5; 800 AZ likely voters; live interview), produced a 49-48% edge for President Trump.

Conversely, Ipsos/Reuters (10/14-21; 658 AZ likely voters; online) gives Mr. Biden a 50-46% edge; and Rasmussen Reports/Pulse Opinion Research (10/18-19; 800 AZ likely voters; live interview & online) yields the former VP a 48-46% advantage; while, RMG Research for the Political IQ blog (10/14-19; 800 AZ likely voters; live interview & text) sees just a one-point spread in Mr. Biden's favor, 47-46%. It appears that the Arizona vote is definitively drawing closer.

Florida: We have another example of two more polls taken within the same time period reflecting much different results. Florida Atlantic University (10/24-25; 937 FL likely voters; live interview & online) tested the Sunshine State's electorate and projected former Vice President Joe Biden (D) to a 50-48% slight lead over President Trump. Conversely, Susquehanna Polling & Research, in the field during the same period (10/23-25; 400 FL likely voters; live interview) saw President Trump opening one of his largest Florida leads of the election cycle, a four-point spread, 48-44%, when leaners are added for both candidates. Florida is a must-win state for the Trump campaign.

Michigan: The plethora of polls are also producing major conflicts within the same electorate during the same time period, a statistical inconsistency that has been frequently present in several recent situations. The latest Michigan presidential numbers are a clear example.

While the new Zia Poll (10/11-18; 2,851 MI likely voters; online) posts President Trump to a four point, 49-45%, lead and the Trafalgar Group (10/15-18; 1,034 MI likely voters; text & online) sees a 47-45% Trump edge, two others give former Vice President Joe Biden wider spreads. EPIC-MRA (10/15-19; 600 MI likely voters; live interview) yields the Democratic nominee a nine-point, 48-39%, margin, and Public Policy Polling (10/21-22; 804 MI voters; interactive voice response system) sees a similar 50-43% split.

Minnesota: Despite former Rep. Jason Lewis (R) just now getting out of the hospital for what his staff members indicated was a hernia procedure that turned life threatening, he is still in a competitive position opposite Sen. Tina Smith (D). A new Survey USA poll (for KTSP-TV; 10/23-27; 800 MN adults; 689 MN registered voters) finds the Minnesota race again getting close as Sen. Smith holds only a 45-42% edge over Mr. Lewis. Among the 1/3 of the sample who had already voted, Sen. Smith held a 38-point lead. In the segment that plans to vote on Election Day, Mr. Lewis has a 22-point advantage.

Pennsylvania: Three presidential polls were released in the Keystone State of Pennsylvania yesterday with wide-ranging results. Ipsos/Reuters (10/20-26; 655 PA likely voters; online) finds former Vice President Joe Biden leading President Trump, 53-44%. YouGov (10/13-21; 736 PA registered voters; online) sees a similar 51-44% split in Biden's favor. Insider Advantage, on the other hand (10/25; 400 PA likely voters; live interview & interactive voice response system) shows President Trump forging a three-point edge, 48-45%.

Wisconsin: ABC/Washington Post released a survey of Wisconsin voters that is returning numbers never seen in the state during this election cycle. This suggests the survey is an outlier, especially when compared to the Marquette Law School poll that was conducted during the same period.

ABC/WaPo (10/20-25; 809 WI likely voters; online) finds former Vice President Joe Biden leading President Trump by a huge 17-point margin, 57-40%, which the polling analysis claims is a response to an increase in COVID-19 cases within the state. Marquette (10/21-25; 749 WI likely voters; live interview) sees the race much differently, though still with a Biden lead. They find a ballot test result of 48-43% in favor of Mr. Biden. Remember, however, that 33 polls were conducted in Wisconsin during the 2016 election cycle, and zero showed President Trump ahead, yet he won the state. It remains to be seen if the same pattern is present this year.


Arizona: A pair of just released October polls give Sen. Martha McSally (R) her first lead since late June, even though others still post Democrat Mark Kelly to a substantial advantage. Susquehanna Polling & Research (10/19-22; 500 AZ likely voters; live interview) finds the appointed Senator holding a 50-47% edge. Earlier in the month, Basswood Research (10/3-5; 800 AZ likely voters; live interview) found her trending ahead 49-47%. Four others, however, which also tested the presidential race (see Arizona in the presidential section above), produces leads for Mr. Kelly of between two and eight percentage points.

Georgia-B: During a two-day period, a Georgia Senate poll confirmed that Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) is improving his position and now is in a clear dogfight for the second runoff position with appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R). The University of Georgia, polling for the Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper in a large sample live interview poll (10/14-23; 1,145 GA likely voters; live interview), sees Rev. Raphael Warnock (D) leading the pack of candidates with 34% of the vote, while Rep. Collins slips past Sen. Loeffler for second position with a 21-20% split. The top two finishers will advance to a January 5, 2021 runoff election since no poll projects any of the candidates close to the 50% mark, which would elect him or her outright.

Maine: Survey USA just reported a statewide poll in Maine conducted for the FairVote organization (10/23-27; 1,007 ME likely voters; live interview & online) and finds Sen. Susan Collins (R) and state House Speaker Sara Gideon (D) locked in a tight race. According to the results, Ms. Gideon has a one-point, 46-45%, slight edge over Sen. Collins.

Mississippi: The last published poll of this rerun Senate race came in late August, so it has been two full months since we have seen fresh data. The Civiqs organization, polling for the Daily Kos Elections website (10/23-26; 507 MS likely voters; online), finds Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) leading former US Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy (D), 52-44%. Ms. Hyde-Smith was appointed following the resignation and subsequent death of veteran Sen. Thad Cochran (R). She then prevailed in a 2018 special election with a 54-46% victory margin over Mr. Espy. The two are now engaged in a re-match for the full six-year term.

North Carolina: Another pair of polls were released for the tightening and pivotal North Carolina Senate race. Public Policy Polling (10/26-27; 886 NC voters; interactive response device) still finds Democratic former state Senator Cal Cunningham running slightly ahead of Sen. Thom Tillis (R), 47-44%, and is representative of several other polling results. The Trafalgar Group (10/20-22; 1,098 NC likely voters; combination live interview, text, & online), on the other hand, gives Sen. Tillis the slight lead, 49-47%. North Carolina continues to be one of the most important of the 16 competitive seats on the 2020 Senate election board.

South Carolina: A one day flash tracking poll (10/26; 800 SC likely voters) posted Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) a nine-point, 52-43%, margin over former South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison (D), which is by far the largest lead for either candidate since February. Similar information needs to surface in order for this margin to be verified, however.

Texas: At least three new polls were released of the Texas Senate race this week, and while all project an advantage for incumbent Sen. John Cornyn (R) over challenger M.J. Hegar (D), his lead ranges from two all the way to ten percentage points. Data for Progress (10/22-25; 1,018 TX likely voters; online) sees Sen. Cornyn ahead only 48-46%. The YouGov online survey (10/13-20; 1,000 TX likely voters; online), on the other hand, finds Sen. Cornyn in a better seven-point position, 49-42%. The only live interview poll of the three, however, from Siena College/New York Times (10/20-25; 802 TX likely voters; live interview) shows the Senator holding a full ten-point advantage, 48-38%.


AR-2: In a race that has been trending tight for weeks, ALG Research released their new survey of the Little Rock anchored congressional seat (10/16-21; 500 AR-2 likely voters) that suggests three-term Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock) and state Sen. Joyce Elliott (D-Little Rock) are falling into a tie at 47% apiece. Both parties and associated outside entities have increased their non-connected spending for this race.

CA-50: A Survey USA poll for KGTV-Channel 2 and the San Diego Union Tribune (10/22-26; 538 CA-50 likely voters from a pool of 650 adults; recorded message interview & online) finds former Congressman Darrell Issa (R) rebounding to take a double-digit lead in his quest to return to the House, 51-40%.

MT-AL: After several polls reported State Auditor Matt Rosendale (R) and former state Rep. Kathleen Williams (D) either tied or virtually tied, the latest Siena College/New York Times survey (10/18-20; 758 MT likely voters; live interview) sees Mr. Rosendale now establishing a four-point edge, 50-46%.

NH-1: The University of New Hampshire's Polling Center reports a result no other firm has detected in the Granite State's 1st Congressional District, a seat that has defeated more incumbents than any CD in the nation since 2006. UNH has some big misses on their results resume but has been much more accurate in their later years, and now returns what could be an outlier poll. The survey (10/24-28; 451 NH-1 likely voters; live interviews to pre-selected panel members) finds freshman Rep. Chris Pappas (D-Manchester) trailing GOP businessman Mike Mowers, 50-48%, in a race that has attracted little in the way of national attention.

St. Anselm College (10/23-26; 560 NH-1 likely voters; live interview) also was in the field within the same time period and found Rep. Pappas holding a 49-44% advantage. Even the latter poll, however, still suggests this race is closing as the candidates move toward Election Day.

NY-11: In a bare-knuckled brawl of a campaign on Staten Island, a new Marist College/NBC Channel 4 New York survey (10/19-21; 650 NY-11 likely voters; live interview) finds state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R) taking a two-point, 48-46%, lead over freshman Rep. Max Rose (D-Staten Island) in a race that has drawn large outside organization money and an aggregate spending total of $10 million between the two candidates (Rose spending 70% of that total). Among registered voters, Rep. Rose forges a one-point edge suggesting this tight race is coming down to a turnout battle.

NC-9: North Carolina Rep. Dan Bishop (R-Charlotte) won his seat in a special election in 2019, a result that surprised some political observers. As a big favorite for re-election to a full term, little in the way of national attention has been paid to the seat since the previous Democratic candidate and party structure spent approximately $20 million over two campaigns only to come away empty.

A new poll, however, finds little-known Democratic nominee Cynthia Wallace actually pulling to within two points of Rep. Bishop. Public Policy Polling (10/28-29; 750 voters; interactive voice response system) sees Rep. Bishop carrying only a 45-43% edge in this highly competitive region and state. This race, too, may be another to watch on election night.

OH-12: Ohio's 12th District produced both a very tight special and general election in the 2018 election cycle, and each ended in favor of Rep. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville). The 2020 race hasn't attracted much national attention, but a new Public Policy Polling survey (10/14-15; 818 OH-12 registered voters; interactive response system) finds the Congressman holding only a 48-44% edge over Democratic nominee Alaina Schearer, a marketing firm CEO.

VA-5: Ever since freshman Virginia Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Manassas) was denied renomination in what many termed a "rigged convention," Democrats have felt they have a chance to steal what plays as a reliable Republican district. A new poll suggests their inclination could prove correct. According to a just-released Public Policy Polling survey (10/21-22; 910 VA-5 voters; interactive voice response system), physician Cameron Webb (D) leads Campbell County Supervisor Bob Good (R), 50-47%.