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Period Ending April 1, 2016

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


Democrats: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) swept the Pacific Rim caucuses last weekend, scoring overwhelming victories in Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington. Though he gained in the delegate count, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has committed 63% of the available delegates through voting in the first 36 states. She needs only 1/3 of the delegates from the remaining states and territories to clinch the party nomination.

District of Columbia: The DC government has admitted to mistakenly leaving Sen. Bernie Sanders’ name off of the June 14 primary ballot. The situation will be rectified, even if it takes an act of the City Council, and people will be able to vote for both candidates in the party’s final primary election. The situation will likely be moot because Hillary Clinton will have long clinched the party nomination by the time of the DC primary.

New York: Quinnipiac University has released the first meaningful New York primary survey (3/22-29; 1,667 NY registered voters; 693 NY likely Democratic primary voters; 457 NY likely Republican primary voters) for their upcoming election on April 19. On the Democratic side, former New York Senator Hillary Clinton has a 54-42% lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders, but that spread likely understates her support. The African American respondent cell only posts a 66-31% Clinton advantage. She has done much better everywhere else.

On the GOP side, it’s New York native Donald Trump holding a large lead, 56-20-19% over Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), respectively. New York has a complicated delegate apportionment system, but Trump reaching 80 of the 95 Republican delegates is not out of the realm of possibility.

Wisconsin: The Badger State primary is up next, on April 5, and a major turnaround has occurred on the Republican side. According to Marquette Law School polling, (3/24-28; 471 WI “certain” Republican primary voters), Sen. Ted Cruz has opened up a 40-30-21% margin over Donald Trump and Gov. John Kasich. Wisconsin is a Winner-Take-All by congressional district state, and the rudimentary Marquette projections suggest that Cruz could win 33 of the state’s 42 delegates, with Trump and Kasich taking only six and three, respectively. But, Public Policy Polling in their March 28-29 survey (768 WI likely Republican primary voters) sees the race much differently. While PPP finds Cruz ahead, his lead is only 38-37-17% over Trump and Kasich. If this result is closer to what happens next Tuesday, the delegate apportionment ratio will look very different.

On the Democratic side (405 “certain” Democratic primary voters), Sen. Sanders holds a slight 49-45% edge. Public Policy Polling (720 WI likely Democratic primary voters) finds a similar result. They see Sanders holding a slightly bigger 49-43% lead.


Florida: Several endorsements were made in the open Democratic primary race earlier this week. The American Federation of Public Employees, AFL-CIO, announced formal support for Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18). Both the Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee organizations, liberal ideological groups, made public pronouncements for Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL-9).

Missouri: Two new surveys were released in the Show Me State Senate race between incumbent Roy Blunt (R) and Secretary of State Jason Kander (D). The Remington Research Group for the Missouri Scout political blog (3/25-26; 927 MO registered voters) finds Sen. Blunt holding a 44-37% advantage. DFM Research (3/17-24; 674 MO registered voters) finds a more substantial 49-35% Blunt edge.

Pennsylvania: President Obama and Vice President Biden took the unusual step of endorsing in a Democratic primary. Joining the Pennsylvania Democratic Party leadership, the two national leaders announced their joint support of former gubernatorial chief of staff Katie McGinty (D) who is challenging former US Rep. and 2010 Senatorial nominee Joe Sestak (D-PA-7) in the Pennsylvania primary election scheduled for April 26. Mr. Sestak, a former Navy Admiral, has been leading in all pre-primary polling by margins of varying degree.

South Carolina: Candidate filing closed in the Palmetto State on March 30, and only one Democrat filed against Sen. Tim Scott (R). Thomas Dixon, a North Charleston pastor and community activist, will oppose the first term Senator in November. Sen. Scott, who was appointed to replace then-Sen. Jim DeMint (R) after his resignation in 2013, easily won the 2014 special election to serve the balance of the term. He now seeks a full six-year term in November, and is the prohibitive favorite to win the general election.

Wisconsin: Two Senate polls were released in the Sen. Ron Johnson/ex-Sen. Russ Feingold re-match race. The aforementioned Marquette Law School poll (1,405 WI registered voters) finds former incumbent Feingold (D) leading Sen. Johnson (R), 47-42%. Public Policy Polling’s survey, also covered in the Wisconsin presidential section above, finds a similar reading. They project Feingold to a 46-39% advantage. Both of these results reflect a marked improvement for Sen. Johnson, even though he remains trailing.


NV-3: A bizarre poll was released from candidate Danny Tarkanian (R). He is running for the seat Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) is leaving behind to run for Senate. The local Chariot, LLC survey (3/21023; 300 NV-3 registered Republicans) finds state Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson (R), the race’s top fundraiser and leading candidate on paper, trailing badly. According to this data, Tarkanian has a 37-11-9% lead over gadfly state Assemblywoman Michele Fiore (R) and Roberson. Tarkanian’s name identification because of his late father, Hall of Fame basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, and the fact that he has run unsuccessfully for several offices accounts for his percentage. It is more difficult to believe that Roberson, who was almost in consensus candidate status at the beginning of the campaign, can do no better than single digits. The 3rd is a marginal south Nevada seat and will be competitive in the general election. Software developer Jacky Rosen is the Democratic establishment’s choice.

Missouri: Candidate filing in the Show Me State closed this week, and all eight incumbent House members have drawn opposition for the state’s August 2 primary. Rep. Billy Long (R-MO-7) finds himself opposing the most primary challengers, seven, but Reps. Lacy Clay (D-MO-1) and Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO-3) face potentially the most serious. Rep. Clay draws state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, a former Democratic National Committee member, who will make the Ferguson riots and what she says is Clay’s lack of action during the crisis the center piece of her campaign. Former state Rep. Cynthia Davis, also a previous candidate for Lt. Governor (2012), will challenge four-term incumbent Luetkemeyer. Though these two primary campaigns could be of some interest, all eight incumbents are either prohibitive or solid favorites for re-nomination, and all will be locks in the general election.

South Carolina: Candidate filing also closed in the Palmetto State. Only one primary should attract any attention: state Rep. Jenny Horne’s (R) challenge to Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC-1). Though Sanford was unopposed for re-election in 2014, such is not the case this year. All seven incumbents are seeking re-election, each has a general election opponent, and all are solid favorites in November. The most potentially challenging post-primary campaign comes in the northern part of the state where three-term Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC-5) will face a credible opponent in either state Rep. John King (D) or Fran Person (D), a former aide to Vice President Joe Biden and University of South Carolina football player. The South Carolina state primary is June 14, with a run-off election scheduled two weeks later for races where no candidate receives an outright majority.


Alabama: Gov. Robert Bentley (R), who was involved in an extra-marital affair that has now become public, repeatedly states he will not resign his position. But, an impeachment move is underway in the Republican legislature because an audit shows the Governor used state resources, i.e. the state airplane, with the subject of the affair. The move is considered serious because the Alabama state Constitution requires only a majority vote to enact impeachment.

Missouri: Attorney General Chris Koster (D) faces three minor candidates for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, while four Republicans, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, former state House Speaker and US Attorney Catherine Hathaway, businessman John Brunner, and non-profit organization executive Eric Greitens are vying for the GOP nomination. AG Koster polls in the favorite’s position for the general election, but this race is likely to devolve into a toss-up before Election Day approaches. Gov. Jay Nixon (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

New Hampshire: A significant Democratic and Republican candidate entered their respective gubernatorial primaries this week. Former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand joins Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern and former state agency head Mark Connolly in the Democratic primary. State Senate Finance chairman Jeanie Forrester joined the enlarging Republican field that features Executive Councilor Chris Sununu, Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, and state Rep. Frank Edelblut. This open race will be a toss-up in November regardless of who emerges from each primary. Incumbent Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) is running for US Senate. The New Hampshire primary is not until September 13.

North Dakota: The North Dakota state Republican convention assembles this weekend and in addition to choosing delegates to the Republican National Convention, the state delegates will endorse a gubernatorial candidate. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem is the overwhelming favorite to capture the party endorsement, which is normally tantamount to nomination. Most people, when losing the convention, do not force a primary but businessman Doug Burgum says he will. AG Stenehjem is the favorite not only for the Republican nomination, but for the general election as well. Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) is retiring.