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Period Ending October 31, 2014

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

Senate

Senate Overview: With the election now just four days away, Republicans appear to be on the cusp of wresting the majority away from the Democrats. The key races continue to unfold in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and South Dakota. With Montana and West Virginia clearly headed to the Republicans, either party must win any six of this aforementioned group to claim the majority.

Alaska: Two new polls, but one appears to be an outlier. Ivan Moore & Company (10/24-26; 600 AK registered voters; 544 statewide sample; 335 turnout model) finds Sen. Mark Begich (D) leading former Attorney General Dan Sullivan (R) 50-42% among the turnout model sample. The poll clearly has a severe Democratic skew, however. The same sample shows Rep. Don Young (R-AK-AL) actually trailing attorney Forrest Dunbar (D) 46-41%, in a race that isn’t even on the competitive board. Moore Information, in a poll (10/26-28; 500 AK likely voters) conducted for the Sullivan Campaign shows a 42-38% Sullivan advantage, which is more in line with other available polling.

Arkansas: Eight polls have been released here since October 1st. The only two that show Sen. Mark Pryor (D) leading are a pair of Opinion Research Associates surveys taken for the Arkansas Democratic Party. Five other pollsters find Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR-4) leading anywhere from two to seven points.

Colorado: Two late October polls put Sen. Mark Udall (D) ahead of Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO-4) by one point, both 45-44% margins. One poll is for the Udall Campaign, from Keating Research (10/21-23; 1,005 CO likely voters). The other comes from Strategies 360 (10/20-25; 760 CO likely voters). Rasmussen Reports, surveying the Colorado electorate during the same days as Strategies 360, finds a very different result from the 966 likely voters they surveyed. RR posts Rep. Gardner to a six-point, 51-45% edge over Sen. Udall. All three polls, interestingly, peg Udall’s support level to be 45%, a dangerous position for any incumbent.

Georgia: Two very different polls are out. Monmouth University (10/26-28; 436 GA likely voters) gives businessman David Perdue (R) a large 49-41% lead over Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn. Rasmussen Reports (10/25-27; 977 GA likely voters) sees the results very differently. They register 46% for each candidate. The latter is more consistent with other polls recently taken.

Iowa: The new Quinnipiac University survey (10/22-27; 817 IA likely voters) gives state Sen. Joni Ernst a 49-45% lead over eastern Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley (D-IA-1). This race is clearly going down to the wire. More than 322,000 ballots have already been counted and those returning ballots split almost evenly between Democrats and Republicans. This is a huge improvement for Republicans when compared to past elections when Democrats scored big majorities in the early voting category.

Kansas: The trend seems to be suggesting a rebound for embattled Sen. Pat Roberts (R), but a new Survey USA poll (10/22-26; 623 KS likely voters) finds Independent candidate Greg Orman (I) still leading Roberts, 44-42% in this case.

Louisiana: This campaign is almost assuredly headed to a post-election run-off on December 6th. The pollsters continue to test only Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) and Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6), but there are six other candidates on the ballot. When the others are tested, the two major party contenders drop into the 30s. The real question is whether this December campaign will decide the majority. Right now it appears that it will not, as Republicans look to be poised to claim the majority on November 4th.

New Hampshire: No new polls here this week, but trends are going challenger Scott Brown’s (R) way. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) is trying to hold on against what could become an unfavorable turnout model for her. Anything can still happen in this race.

North Carolina: The race is again tightening. Two late polls here, one from Monmouth University (10/23-26; 432 NC likely voters) complimented by Survey USA (10/21-25; 802 NC likely voters). Monmouth gives Sen. Kay Hagan (D) a 48-46% edge over state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R), and S-USA finds a flat tie between the two at 44% apiece. Hagan seems to have a slight advantage, but the trend is fast dwindling. Turnout will tell the tale.

South Dakota: All of the released data shows a normalization of this race after a few tense days. The polls now place former Gov. Mike Rounds (R) back in the 40s, Democratic nominee Rick Weiland (D) in the mid to high 20s, and Independent former US Senator Larry Pressler in the high teens. Closing in on Election Day, these types of margins are likely enough of a cushion to carry Rounds to a victory in a three-way race. Pressler’s presence means that the winning percentage will be in the low 40s instead of 50%+.

House

House Overview: The House majority is not in doubt, and Republicans appear to be a sure bet to expand the size of their party conference. The succeeding seats have the greatest potential to switch parties, but do not necessarily represent the entire universe of campaigns that could move from one party to the other. As many as 50 races are close, while several others are late breaking:

AZ-1: Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D) in another tight race, this time with state House Speaker Andy Tobin (R).

AZ-2: Rep. Ron Barber (D) is trying to defeat former Air Force officer Martha McSally (R) for the second time, after winning a close race in 2012. Odds are much better for McSally now.

CA-7: Both parties are spending heavily to either save or defeat freshman Rep. Ami Bera (D) in Sacramento County. Former Rep. Doug Ose is the GOP candidate.

FL-26: Freshman Rep. Joe Garcia (D) is in a toss-up battle with Miami-Dade school board member Carlos Curbelo (R).

IL-10: The re-match between Rep. Brad Schneider (D) and former Rep. Bob Dold (R) is going down to the wire. Dold was performing well early, Schneider battled back to take the lead, and now the race appears to be closing the Republican’s way. Either can win.

IL-12: The downstate southwestern seat is on the cusp of flipping. State Rep. Mike Bost (R) enjoys close leads against freshman Rep. Bill Enyart (D).

ME-2: Thought to be a major sleeper race for Republicans, late polling is suggesting that Democrat Emily Cain will hold the seat for her party in a close race with former state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin.

MA-6: In a surprising development, several polls suggest that Republican Richard Tisei can defeat businessman Seth Moulton (D). It appeared that Moulton was a heavy favorite after unseating Rep. John Tierney in the Democratic primary, but the race has unfolded in a quite different manner than expected.

NH-1: In another seat that flips back and forth between the parties, former Rep. Frank Guinta (R) appears well positioned to again defeat Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D). Each individual has unseated the other as a challenger.

NH-21: Former White House aide Elise Stefanik (R) is poised to win this open North Country New York seat. She is now heavily favored against Brooklyn business owner Aaron Woolf (D). Rep. Bill Owens (D) is retiring.

NC-7: The Wilmington seat was destined for former state Sen. David Rouzer (R) once Rep. Mike McIntyre (D) announced his retirement.

UT-4: Though the result will be closer that most people originally predicted, local Mayor Mia Love (R) will likely convert this seat for the Republicans. She is projected to defeat attorney Doug Owens (D). Rep. Jim Matheson (D) is retiring.

WV-3: Rep. Nick Rahall (D) is in the toughest campaign of his long 38-year congressional career. Several polls suggest state Sen. Evan Jenkins (R) could defeat him on Tuesday.

Other Potential GOP Victories

CA-26: Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R) vs. Rep. Julia Brownley (D)

CA-52: Ex-Councilman Carl DeMaio (R) vs. Rep. Scott Peters (D)

GA-12: Businessman Rick Allen (R) vs. Rep. John Barrow (D)

IA-1: Businessman Rod Blum (R) vs. Pat Murphy (D) [open seat]

MN-8: Businessman Stewart Mills (R) vs. Rep. Rick Nolan (D)

NY-1: State Sen. Lee Zeldin (R) vs. Rep. Tim Bishop (D)

NY-24: Ex-DA John Katko (R) vs. Rep. Dan Maffei (D)