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Period Ending February 21, 2014

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


Arkansas: The Impact Management Group, a Little Rock-based survey research and public affairs firm, tested the Arkansas electorate (2/10; 1,202 AR registered voters via Interactive Voice Response) and found Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR-4) to be leading Sen. Mark Pryor (D), 46-42%, which is in line with other pollsters’ findings. In what is likely further bad news for the Senator, by a margin of 27:63%, the respondent universe holds a negative opinion of Obamacare.

Georgia: A new Hicks Evaluation Group/Apache Political Communications poll (2/13-16; 923 GA probable Republican primary voters) finds businessman David Perdue (R), cousin of former Gov. Sonny Perdue (R-GA), leading the field of open seat Republican Senatorial candidates at just 12.7% support. Reps. Paul Broun (R-GA-10) and Jack Kingston (R-GA-1) are tied for second with 10.9% apiece. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA-11) places fourth with 10.4%, while former Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel (R) is right behind at 10.2%. Obviously, this race is wide open. The Georgia primary is May 20th, with a run-off for the top two finishers on July 22nd. Democrat Michelle Nunn is the consensus candidate of her party. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) is retiring.

Hawaii: New data has broken for the Hawaii federal races from Ward Research (Feb 2014; 642 HI registered voters; 528 Democratic primary voters) for the Honolulu Star Advertiser newspaper. The Senate picture is becoming more interesting as the WR poll gives Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI-1) a new 48-40% lead over appointed Sen. Brian Schatz (D). Both individuals have high approval ratings, however. Sen. Schatz scores a 51:25% favorability index ratio on the personal approval question. Rep. Hanabusa does even better at 62:27% positive to negative.

Iowa: In an internal Hill Research Consultants Republican primary poll taken for candidate Mark Jacobs (2/12-13; 800 IA registered voters; 300 likely Republican primary voters), the data portends well for its sponsor. According to Hill, Mr. Jacobs, the former Reliant Energy CEO, leads Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst, former US Attorney Matt Whitaker, and radio talk show host Sam Clovis, 22-11-8-6%. The eventual Republican nominee will face Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA-1) in the general election for the right to succeed retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D).

Michigan: EPIC-MRA, the Michigan-based survey research firm that polls for the Detroit media, conducted a new poll of the statewide races (2/5-11; 600 MI registered voters). According to their data, consensus Republican candidate Terri Lynn Land, the former Secretary of State, is again staked to a small lead over Detroit Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-14). The contest breaks 41-38% in Ms. Land’s favor.

Texas: Gravis Marketing (2/10-12; 729 TX likely Republican primary voters) surveyed the Texas GOP electorate over the brewing Senate primary and found Sen. John Cornyn (R) in tepid political condition. Despite a huge advantage in financial resources, the Senator leads Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX-36) only 43-28%. With six other candidates on the ballot – though none were tested in this particular poll – the survey’s conclusion suggests that forcing Mr. Cornyn into a run-off election is a possibility.

West Virginia: At the end of January, the Clarity Campaigns polling firm surveyed the West Virginia electorate (1/29-30; 1,727 WV registered voters) on behalf of EMILY’S List and found a tightening Senate race. According to CC, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2) leads Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D) only 45-39%. Though this race will likely poll relatively close throughout the coming months, it is likely that Rep. Capito will not relinquish her lead. She still remains in strong position for the general election, but there is no question Tennant and the Democrats will put forth a credible fight.


CA-31: Rep. Gary Miller’s (R) retirement announcement has ignited political musical chairs in San Bernardino County. With the four Democrats who began running against Rep. Miller still continuing, three Republicans are joining them. San Bernardino City Councilman John Valdivia, Paul Chabot, a Bush appointee to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and former congressional aide Lesli Gooch all say they will enter the congressional race. This campaign now goes from a Toss-up ranking to Lean Democrat.

CA-33: Another individual entered the open 33rd District seat, left open by veteran Rep. Henry Waxman’s (D) retirement. Radio talk show host and columnist Matt Miller (D) joins the field of candidates. The top two contenders are state Sen. Ted Lieu (D) and former Los Angeles City Controller and defeated mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel (D). Marianne Williamson, a noted spiritualist and author, and movie producer Brent Roske are in the race as Independent candidates. The jungle format will place all candidates on the June 3rd qualifying election ballot with the top two vote getters advancing to the general election regardless of political party affiliation. Meanwhile, Ms. Greuel released an internal Benenson Strategy Group poll (2/12-13; 500 CA-33 registered voters) and the data projected her to a 29-21% lead over Sen. Lieu.

CA-35: In a highly unusual move, freshman Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod (D), says she will not seek re-election to the House but will instead run for an open seat on the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors. The 35th District is heavily Democratic, so expect two party members to advance to the general election from the state’s jungle primary. State Sen. Norma Torres (D), who followed Ms. McLeod into the state Senate position upon the latter’s election to the US House in 2012, followed suit by announcing that she will run for the open congressional seat.

CO-3: Pueblo County Commissioner Buffie McFadyen (D), as expected, announced that she will challenge two-term Rep. Scott Tipton (R) this year. The western slope 3rd District is competitive, but the midterm turnout model is likely to favor the Congressman. In 2012, Mitt Romney carried the 3rd District 52-46%, despite losing the state to President Obama, 51-46%.

HI-1: Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D) is leaving this seat to run for the Senate, yielding a multi-candidate Democratic primary in her wake. Ward Research tested the five top candidates (Feb 2014; 272 HI-1 Democratic likely primary voters) and found state Senate President Donna Mercado Kim with a 31-21-10-10-6% lead over state Rep. Mark Takai, Honolulu City Councilmen Stanley Chang and Ikaika Anderson, and state Sen. Will Espero, respectively. The seat is highly likely to remain in Democratic hands, so the chances are strong that this primary battle will produce Rep. Hanabusa’s successor.

MI-13: Rev. Horace Sheffield III, a well-known Detroit pastor, this week announced that he will challenge 84-year old veteran Rep. John Conyers (D), who will be seeking his 26th term in the House. Mr. Conyers is second in overall seniority, behind only fellow Michigan Rep. John Dingell (D-MI-12), who was first elected in 1955. Rev. Sheffield says the Congressman is "not capable anymore of providing the energetic leadership" [for the district]. In 2012, Conyers scored a 55% Democratic primary win in the newly drawn Detroit district versus a crowded field of candidates.

MN-7: The Tarrance Group (2/3-5; 400 MN-7 registered voters) surveyed the northwestern Minnesota congressional district on behalf of their client, state Sen. Torrey Westrom (R). The data gives veteran Rep. Collin Peterson (D) a 46-39% advantage over Mr. Westrom. The Congressman’s job approval is a positive 58:23%, but he does fall into negative territory when the respondents are asked whether they view him as part of the solutions or problems being crafted in Washington. By a margin of 41:35%, he is perceived as part of the problem.

NJ-12: This week Rep. Rush Holt (D) joined a long line of House members deciding not to seek re-election. Mr. Holt was originally elected in 1998. He ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in the 2013 special election to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D). Mr. Holt, 65 and a scientist, said it was never his intent to finish his professional career as a member of Congress. A host of Democrats are already lining up for this open seat. With a 66.5% Obama 2012 percentage, the party will retain the Trenton-anchored seat in an open seat configuration.

NY-21: 2012 and ’10 Republican nominee Matt Doheny, an investment banker, entered the congressional race for a third consecutive time this week. He will face former presidential aide Elise Stefanik in the GOP primary. The latter already has the support of the local Republican Party organizations throughout the district. Doheny has substantial personal resources and high residual name identification after his two runs. The North Country 21st District seat is open because Rep. Bill Owens (D) is retiring after three terms. The local Democratic organizations are supporting documentary filmmaker Aaron Woolf in a seat they must hold if they are to have any chance of wresting the majority away from the Republicans.

OK-5: While most of the talk has been on the Republican side in this Oklahoma City open seat contest (Rep. James Lankford (R) running for Senate), a Democratic office holder has come forward to announce his candidacy. State Sen. Al McAffrey will seek the Democratic nomination in this district, though his party’s eventual nominee will be a decided underdog in the general election.

WA-4: Rep. Doc Hastings’ (R) retirement leaves what will be a crowded Republican field of candidates fighting over the safe GOP central Washington congressional seat. State Sen. Jenea Holmquist Newbry (R) became the first official candidate to announce her intentions. Former National Football League player and Senatorial candidate Clint Didier (R), state Sen. Sharon Brown (R), and Franklin County Commissioner Brad Peck (R) all quickly followed.


Arkansas: As cited above in the Arkansas Senate piece, the Impact Management Group’s 2/10 poll also tested the open Governor’s race. The findings projected a 42-42% tie between former Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR-4) and ex-Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR-3). This result is an improvement for Hutchinson when compared to the last few polls taken for this race. Those had Mr. Ross posting a small, but discernible lead over the consensus Republican candidate.

Hawaii: The Ward Research poll covered above (See Hawaii Senate) is not as kind to Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D). The Governor’s personal approval rating is only 45:48% positive to negative, when virtually every other individual tested scores well into favorable territory. Gov. Abercrombie’s weakness is underscored in the ballot test questions. In a re-match of the 2010 gubernatorial contest in which Abercrombie registered a 58-41% victory over then-Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona (R), the WR survey suggests a much different outcome. In this poll, Aiona actually takes a 48-40% lead over the Governor. In the Democratic primary, Abercrombie’s standing again signals trouble. The poll report gives the Governor only a 47-38% lead over state Sen. David Ige, who has launched an intra-party challenge against the state’s chief executive and former 19-year Congressman.

Maryland: Opinion Works, polling for the Baltimore Sun newspaper (2/8-12; 1,199 MD registered voters; 500 likely Democratic primary voters), derived new numbers for the state’s open gubernatorial contest. For the all-important Democratic primary, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown again is staked to a sizable 35-14-10% lead over Attorney General Doug Gansler, and state Delegate Heather Mizeur. The Democratic winner in the June 24th primary becomes the prohibitive favorite for the general election.

New York: Quinnipiac University (2/6-10; 1,488 NY registered voters) tested business mogul Donald Trump (R) against Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). Mr. Trump has hinted that he is considering launching a political effort. The data shows the Governor burying Mr. Trump 63-26%. Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino (R) performs a bit better, but he proves to be no threat to Mr. Cuomo, either. According to the Q-Poll results, the Governor leads Mr. Astorino 58-24%.

Ohio: Quinnipiac University was in the field with another of their regular Buckeye State polls (2/12-17; 1,370 OH registered voters) and find Gov. John Kasich (R) leading Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald (D) 43-38%. His personal approval ratio is 42:30%, while the job approval index rises to 51:36%. The results defy normal patterns. First, it is unusual to see a public official’s job performance rating exceed how people perceive him personally. Second, his ballot test performance against a virtually unknown Democratic candidate, outside of one geographic region (Cleveland), is also lacking when compared to his personal and performance percentages.