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Period Ending October 7, 2016

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

President

Democratic commentators and analysts are claiming the presidential campaign is already clinched for Hillary Clinton, but much time remains. While signs are clear that she would win the race if the election were today, early voting has begun in only six states and the way this campaign has switched momentum through the election period, Donald Trump still has plenty of time to rebound.

The liberal Campaign Legal Center surprisingly filed a Federal Election Commission complaint alleging the Clinton Campaign is illegally coordinating with outside organizations, specifically David Brock’s Correct the Record organization. Former FEC General Counsel Larry Noble filed the complaint on behalf of the CLC. The complaint also alleges illegal coordination activities associated with the Trump Campaign. It is unlikely any action will transpire about the complaint prior to the election.

The weekly polling finds nine national surveys conducted in October, with eight projecting a Clinton lead of anywhere between three and nine points, an average edge of almost five percent. The studies tighten, as we get closer to the end of the polling period (last sampling day for any of the nine polls was October 4). The most recent poll, that from Rasmussen Reports (10/2-4; 1,500 likely voters) actually finds Trump re-gaining a one point, 42-41%, edge.

Key state polls, like those at the national level are also breaking Clinton’s way. Democratic polling firm Anzalone Liszt (9/27-10/2; 800 OH likely voters) finds Clinton leading in Ohio 44-42-8-1% over Trump, Libertarian Gary Johnson, and the Green Party’s Jill Stein. In North Carolina, Survey USA (9/29-10/3; 656 NC likely voters) finds Clinton ahead 46-44-5% topping Trump and Johnson. Dr. Stein did not qualify for the North Carolina ballot. Quinnipiac University tested Florida (9/27-10/2; 545 FL likely voters) and also see Clinton leading there, 46-41-5% over Trump and Johnson. Should Clinton win any one of the Florida-Ohio-North Carolina combination, she will almost assuredly win the national election.

Senate

Florida: Democratic Party leaders are reducing their media buy to support Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Jupiter) in his race against Sen. Marco Rubio (R). Reportedly, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will transfer approximately $2 million currently reserving Florida media to send to other states. Quinnipiac University just reported a new Florida poll (9/27-10/2; 545 FL likely voters) and finds Sen. Rubio still leading Rep. Murphy, but in a reduced fashion, 48-44%. The Democrats’ are cancelling a major part of their media buy here, suggesting that their internal polling is reflecting all the public data that posts the Senator and former presidential candidate to a lead of between four and nine points.

Indiana: The contest between former Sen. Evan Bayh (D) and Rep. Todd Young (R-Bloomington) is getting even closer. While Bayh began the contest with a 21-point advantage, his margin has slipped ever since. Last week, the spread was down to four, and now it is even tighter. Public Opinion Strategies released a new survey (10/3-5; 600 IN likely voters) that finds Bayh’s slight advantage dropping to a mere 42-41% over Rep. Young. Attacks against Bayh as a lobbyist who immediately left Indiana once he retired from the Senate have clearly had impact, as the race now has fallen into a dead heat. In the September poll, Bayh’s favorability index was 48:28% positive to negative. Now, he is upside down at 43:49%. This race is becoming one of the defining contests that will determine which of the two parties will control the Senate in the next Congress.

Louisiana: State Treasurer John Kennedy (R) has joined the advertising parade with two ads. Both find him speaking to the camera as shots of the state and his family appear as he speaks in the background. He claims to “believe in” God, protecting the unborn, more freedom but not more “free stuff.” He ends by saying he also believes “love is the answer, but you ought to own a handgun just in case.” In his one-minute spot, Kennedy begins by saying he believes “this country was founded by geniuses, but sometimes I (Kennedy) think it’s being run by idiots.” He closes by saying he “rather drink weed killer” than be part of the DC insider establishment. Mr. Kennedy has been falling drastically in the polls, so these ads are designed to capture attention and re-invigorate some of his early support that has drifted to other candidates.

Ohio: Another Quinnipiac University survey (9/27-10/2; 497 OH likely voters) confirms what all other surveys are saying. Sen. Rob Portman (R) has opened up a major 55-38% advantage over former Gov. Ted Strickland (D), as we enter the stretch drive to Election Day. With the Democrats shifting all of their party advertising money to other states, this race is effectively over. Count on Sen. Portman winning a big victory on November 8, irrespective of what happens in the presidential race.

Pennsylvania: We continue to see various polls posting both Sen. Pat Toomey (R) and Democratic nominee Katie McGinty to leads of varying degrees. Toomey is now generally in a stronger position than Donald Trump in his race against Hillary Clinton, but more polls than not yield a small McGinty advantage. Expect millions of dollars in message communication to be aired here in the coming weeks before the election. Pennsylvania is one of seven states that uses no early voting procedure, so all of the politically related activities and incidents that happen between now and November 8th will affect this close outcome.

Wisconsin: As we reported here last week, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is so confident of former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) defeating Sen. Ron Johnson (R), that they reduced their television budget. This week, the National Republican Senatorial Committee cancelled their entire statewide television buy, and virtually signaling that they agree with the Democrats’ assessment of the Wisconsin race being over, and that Sen. Johnson is headed for defeat.

House

CA-10: Now apparently taking businessman Michael Eggman’s (D) chances more seriously against Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock/Modesto), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has reserved just under $750,000 of media advertising time for the race. The Republican apparatus has done nothing, but that will soon change. The 10th District is marginal, but Rep. Denham has performed well here. In 2014, he defeated Eggman 56-44% but the electorate here is likely to support Hillary Clinton by a significant margin. This is now an emerging contest.

CA-49: Several polls have reached the public domain suggesting that challenger Doug Applegate (D), a retired Marine Colonel, is actually pulling ahead of Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista). Tulchin Research, polling for the DCCC (9/28-30; 400 CA-49 likely voters) finds Applegate leading Issa 46-42%, but Donald Trump falling behind Hillary Clinton 35-49%. The margin skews left since Mitt Romney carried this district against President Obama, 52-46%. Since the poll was conducted right after the September 26 debate, and in the teeth of Trump being pounded with negative coverage over his performance, this margin is likely more extreme than the actual count. Still, there is too much data available suggesting that the Issa-Applegate race is tight. The jungle primary count, for example, was only 51-45% in Issa’s favor, and actual votes are always the best poll.

MT-AL: Signals are coming to the forefront that the at-large congressional contest between freshman Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Whitefish) and Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau (D) is getting closer. According to a Harstad Strategic Research poll conducted for the Juneau campaign and released October 6 (403 MT likely voters), Rep. Zinke’s lead is down to 45-42%. It is clear the race is tightening because Zinke’s own ads take a rather defensive posture. So far, neither major party committee has purchased media time suggesting that both believe the race will eventually normalize and Zinke will win with a victory percentage in the mid-50s range.

FL-7: The central Florida race between Rep. John Mica (R-Winter Park) and college professor Stephanie Murphy (D) is one to watch. Democrats recently released a poll that showed Murphy climbing to within three points of Mica in what is now a more Democratic seat post-redistricting. Now, the DCCC and the House Majority PAC are putting major backing behind their candidates. The two organizations have reserved a whopping $3.8 million of media time in the Orlando market, while the NRCC logs only $8,000. We can expect the latter number to drastically increase very shortly.

FL-13: Conflicting signals are coming from the Pinellas County seat. Last week, Rep. David Jolly (R) released his internal poll showing him tied with former Gov. Charlie Crist (D) in what has now been re-drawn into a strongly Democratic seat. Now, the Crist campaign counters with its own Anzalone Liszt Grove Research poll (10/2-4; 400 FL-13 likely voters) that pegs the Democratic candidate to a 50-39% lead over Jolly. The data, however, doesn’t appear consistent with the presidential race, which shows Hillary Clinton ahead only 46-43%. Additionally, it doesn’t appear as if the DCCC thinks Crist’s standing is that strong. They just reserved slightly over $1 million in the Tampa Bay market for the race, which is not consistent with a candidate holding an eleven-point lead especially when the opponent, Rep. Jolly, is getting literally no support from the Republican apparatus because of a major feud between the candidate and Committee. This will prove to be one of the more interesting races on election night.

Governor

Indiana: The same Public Opinion Strategies survey (see Indiana Senate above) that shows a closing of the Senate race, also finds the gubernatorial contest tightening. The data finds Democrat John Gregg now holding only a 41-39% edge over appointed Republican Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb. The latter is a party nominated candidate, necessary to replace Gov. Mike Pence upon his selection as the Republican Vice Presidential nominee. Therefore, Gregg began this race with a major advantage that is now apparently dissipating.

Missouri: After several polls came to the forefront showing Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster (D) opening up a large lead over former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens (R), the Republican’s campaign countered with the release of their own Tarrance Group poll (9/19-22; 606 MO registered voters) that found the Koster margin at 45-42%. A new round of polling will be made public shortly that should better define the current margin. It is clear, however, that Koster has an advantage. Gov. Jay Nixon (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

New Hampshire: Two polls were released this week testing the race between Executive Councilor Chris Sununu (R) and Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern (D). Suffolk University (10/3-5; 500 NH likely voters) finds Sununu holding a 40-36% edge with Hillary Clinton holding a 44-42% advantage over Donald Trump. The Democratic firm of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research polling for the Save the Children Action Network (9/29-10/4; 500 NH likely voters) sees a 44-44% tie in the Governor’s race with Clinton holding a 46-38% margin over Trump.