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Period Ending October 5, 2018

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

Senate

California: Apparently US Senate challenger Kevin de Leon (D) does not believe he is going to unseat Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) next month. Trailing in all polling by double-digit margins, though Sen. Feinstein never gets close to 50%, Mr. de Leon is already looking toward his next political race. According to California Fair Political Practices Commission filings, the LA state Senator has already formed a committee to run for Lt. Governor…in 2026. Assuming that the next Governor serves a full eight years, 2026 is the next time the Lt. Governor's post will likely be open.

Florida: After a period where Sen. Bill Nelson (D) had seemingly pulled away from Gov. Rick Scott (R), we now see three polls forecasting the pair returning to basic tied status. Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, a frequent Florida pollster, released their latest data (9/24-27; 815 FL registered voters) and it found Sen. Nelson's lead dissipating to one point, at 47-46%. Likewise, Strategic Research Associates of Austin, TX, finds a similar reading. According to their polling results (9/17-30; 800 FL likely voters), Sen. Nelson's one-point edge is confirmed, 44-43%. The Fox News Florida poll (see below) also reports a similar result.

Missouri: A pair of surveys were released midweek, and each major party candidate was projected to be holding a slight lead. The CNN/SSRS survey (9/25-29; 756 MO likely voters) finds Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) topping Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) by three percentage points, 47-44%. But, Remington Research, polling for the Missouri Scout political blog, sees Mr. Hawley holding an equivalent small edge, 48-46%.

Interestingly, in the aforementioned CNN poll, Ms. McCaskill's lead drops to one percentage point, 43-42%, when the universe is expanded to include registered voters (increasing the sample size to 906). And, splitting the difference, the Fox News Missouri poll (see below) projects the two candidates to be locked in a flat tie.

New Jersey: A new poll shows the closest Garden State spread in this election cycle, but it was quickly twice contradicted. Stockton University went into the field (9/19-27; 531 adult NJ residents screened as likely voters) and finds Sen. Bob Menendez (D) running ahead of former pharmaceutical company CEO Bob Hugin by only a 45-43% margin. But, Fairleigh Dickinson University (9/26-30; 508 NJ likely voters) projects Sen. Menendez to be holding a 43-37% advantage, but with an upside-down favorability index of 35:53%. Quinnipiac University publicized their large sample poll (9/25-10/2; 1,058 NJ likely voters), and they show a relatively similar reading, but significantly better for Menendez, 53-42%.

North Dakota: A new NBC North Dakota News/Strategic Research Associates survey (released 10/1; 650 ND likely voters) finds at-large Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck) now taking a ten-point, 51-41%, lead over Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D). The principle reason for the larger lead is the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination. According to this research, North Dakota voters support the judicial nominee by a 60-27% count.

West Virginia: A week after Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) released his internal 1892 organization survey that showed him tied with Sen. Joe Manchin (D), a new statewide media poll from Gray Television station WSAZ TV in Huntington (Strategic Research Associates; 9/17-26; 650 WV likely voters) finds the Democratic incumbent leading, 46-38%. This, despite President Trump scoring a job approval rating of 62:34% favorable to unfavorable.

Fox Polls: Fox News, polling through the Anderson Robbins survey research firm (D) and Shaw & Company (R), released new data for six US Senate campaigns. The only two with clear advantages for one candidate came from North Dakota where Republican challenger Kevin Cramer has a 53-41% lead over Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D). The other finds Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) leading former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D), 48-43%.

The remainder are all clearly within the polling margin of error: Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) leading Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) in the Arizona race, 47-45%; Sen. Bill Nelson (D) edging Gov. Rick Scott (R), 47-46%, in Florida; Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) posting a two-point lead over businessman Mike Braun (R), 43-41%; and, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) and Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) tied at 43%, apiece.

House

AZ-8: Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Peoria) won her special election to replace resigned Rep. Trent Franks (R) earlier this year, and the final result proved to be a close 52-48% result over physician Hiral Tipirneni (D). Now the pair are again squaring off in the regular election. A new Lake Research Partners survey for the Tipirneni Campaign (9/24-26; 400 AZ-8 likely voters) finds Rep. Lesko only holding a 48-44% ballot test lead. In Lake's August poll (8/7-13; 400 AZ-8 likely voters) the new Congresswoman's advantage was 49-40%.

CA-22: Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) has come under national attack during this congressional session in his role as chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence. To politically protect himself the Congressman has raised over $5 million for his re-election, and the related spending is paying dividends. After closer polling surfaced earlier in the year, a new Survey USA poll (9/20-25; 800 CA-22 registered voters; 582 likely voters) finds Rep. Nunes expanding his lead over attorney Andrew Janz (D) to 55-41%.

CA-45: After a series of polls posted Democratic challenger Katie Porter to consistent single-digit leads in the polling margin of error's outer edge, a new Democratic Global Strategy Group survey (9/20-23; 400 CA-45 likely voters) finds her race against Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) tightening again, this time to a one-point margin. According to the GBA results, Ms. Porter leads Rep. Walters, 48-47%. Obviously, this race is one of the Democrats’ seven targets and we can expect the contest to remain a toss-up all the way to Election Day in a district that was once safely Republican.

CO-6: Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) has won three elections in an eastern Denver suburban district designed to defeat him. Iraq War veteran and attorney Jason Crow (D) has been found leading Rep. Coffman beyond the polling margin of error in several polls. Reports suggest that the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has also cancelled their television ad reservations, which is another indicative sign that the published polls are within the accuracy realm.

Late in the week, Rep. Coffman released data countering the aforementioned news in the guise of an internal Tarrance Group survey (9/11-13; 400 CO-6 registered voters). According to this information, the spread between Messrs. Crow and Coffman is only 42-40%.

IL-4: Recently, an independent committee began raising money to promote Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia for Mayor of Chicago, now that incumbent Rahm Emanuel (D) has announced his retirement. Mr. Garcia was not dissuading the group from continuing, suggesting that he might make another run for the office even though he is about to be elected to Congress. Now saying that he will represent the people who are about to elect him to the US House, Mr. Garcia announced he will not become a mayoral candidate in 2019.

KS-3: Recently, stories have abounded that the national Republican/conservative/right-of-center organizations had jettisoned three incumbents: Reps. Mike Bishop (R-MI), Mike Coffman (R-CO), and Kevin Yoder (R-KS). All three have now responded with polling data showing them either ahead or back within the margin of error. We can again expect to see all three campaigns receive significant amounts of help in the last month.

Mr. Yoder is the latest to respond. His campaign released current data from Remington Research (9/18-20; 610 KS-3 likely voters) that finds the Congressman regaining the lead over his Democratic opponent, Sharice Davids. According to the findings, Mr. Yoder's margin is 43-40%.

MN-2: In the last election cycle, the prevailing political wisdom uniformly proclaimed that healthcare executive Angie Craig (D) was a virtual lock to defeat then-radio talk show host, Jason Lewis (R). In the end, Mr. Lewis scored a two-point victory. This year, most polling again shows Ms. Craig leading the race – and the Siena College/New York Times survey has her ahead well beyond the polling margin of error -- but a new WPA Intelligence study is detecting the opposite conclusion. According to a very recent WPA poll (9/29-10/1; 412 MN-2 likely voters), Rep. Lewis has re-claimed a three-point lead, 46-43%.

MT-AL: Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman) won a 2017 special election to succeed then-Rep. Ryan Zinke (R) after the latter man was appointed as Interior Secretary. Now a Benenson Strategy Group poll (9/6-16; 950 MT likely voters) finds the new Congressman's re-election effort approaching the toss-up realm. Their new poll gives Gianforte only a 46-45% edge over former state Rep. Kathleen Williams (D), who is reporting to have raised more than $2.1 million in the quarter just ended.

NH-1: New Hampshire's 1st District has been the most swing seat in the country. The electorate here has defeated the sitting incumbent in every election since 2010, inclusive. Now, as an open seat, the New Hampshire-based American Research Group (9/21-26; 400 NH-1 registered voters) reports ballot test data that gives the new Democratic nominee a 22-point lead. According to this poll, Executive Councilor Chris Pappas (D) leads former South Hampton Police Chief Eddie Edwards (R) by a whopping 55-33% margin.

Late this week, OnMessage released their polling numbers for the eastern Granite State district. According to them (9/25-27; 400 NH-1 likely voters), it is Edwards who leads the race, and by a 42-40% count. The diversity obviously shows that at least one of the pollsters is way off. The 1st District is one of the most defined swing districts in the country. The electorate here has defeated the incumbent five of the last six election years, more than any district in the country. More data will have to be examined here before a clear pattern can be predicted. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-Rochester) is retiring.

TX-31: The Tarrance Group, polling for Rep. John Carter's (R-Georgetown) campaign, finds the veteran Congressman posting a 21-point lead over his Democratic opponent, Afghan War veteran and author M.J. Hegar. The Tarrance data gives Mr. Carter a surprisingly large 54-33% lead.

Governor

Alaska: The nation's lone Independent Governor might lose if a new Alaska Survey Research poll is accurate. The study (9/21-25; 500 AK certain and very likely voters) finds Republican former state Senator Mike Dunleavy leading ex-US Senator Mark Begich (D) and Gov. Bill Walker (I), 44-29-23%, respectively, in the three-way contest.

Dispelling the idea that Walker fares better in a two-way, this poll finds that he would lose to both Dunleavy and Begich in one-on-one races. Against Dunleavy alone, Walker would lose, 54-41%. If Mr. Begich were his only opponent, the Governor would trail 46-40%.

New York: The Working Families Party has voted to rescind its party's gubernatorial nomination for actress Cynthia Nixon and Lt. Governor candidate Jumaane Williams and instead award it to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D). The pair formally accepted the nomination on Thursday evening. Doing so eliminates any challenge from the Governor's left, meaning he will now fall into a two-way race with Republican nominee Marc Molinaro, the Duchess County Executive. Such a contest assures a Cuomo re-election on November 6th. The Governor and Lt. Governor are expected to accept the Working Families ballot line.

Oklahoma: Despite Oklahoma being one of the strongest Republican states in the nation, the current open Governor's campaign is highly competitive. With education, budget, and tax issues controversial and major points of concern in the state, the electorate is becoming more competitive. A new Right Strategy Group survey (9/25-26; 1,058 OK likely voters) finds mortgage banker Kevin Stitt (R) and former Attorney General Drew Edmondson (D) locked in a single-digit battle. According to this latest polling study, Mr. Stitt's advantage is 47-43%. Yet, in the other seven Oklahoma statewide offices Republicans enjoy their typical double-digit leads.