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Period Ending April 22, 2016

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

President

New York: Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton exceeded projected expectations with their respective New York primary performances. Trump, securing 60% of the statewide Republican vote, locked down 90 of the 95 New York delegates and is back on track for a long-shot first ballot victory. Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) won the remaining five delegates. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), attracting only 14.5% of the statewide vote, won no delegates. The result means the Texas Senator is mathematically eliminated from achieving a first-ballot victory. His only chance of winning the nomination now lies in a contested convention.

Ms. Clinton’s 58% win translated into at least 178 of the available 291 delegates, a few more than her projected state quota. She now needs only 28% of the remaining delegates in the 20 Democratic states and territories yet to vote.

Next Tuesday’s eastern regional primary featuring Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island now takes center stage. Trump needs a similar performance in all of these states to make a first-ballot win more realistic.

Senate

North Carolina: Elon University went into the field with a survey (4/10-15; 621 NC registered voters) that provided Republicans with some bad news. In addition to Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump but trailing Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Richard Burr (R) is beginning to see his margin grow smaller when paired with Democratic nominee Deborah Ross (D). This latest Elon data gives the two-term Senator only a 37-33% edge.

Maryland: Though the Democratic primary to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) has been tight for months, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-8) seems to be pulling away from his colleague, Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD-4). Two new polls suggest a definite swing toward Van Hollen, who is closer to the Democratic establishment than Edwards and has proven to be the superior fundraiser. Monmouth University (4/18-20; 300 MD likely Democratic primary voters) finds Van Hollen opening up a major 52-36% lead over Edwards, far more than any other poll has shown. Just recently, Public Policy Polling (4/15-17; 492 MD likely Democratic primary voters) forecasted Van Hollen up 42-33%. EMILY’s List, Ms. Edwards’ strongest outside supporter, committed to investing another $500,000 in last-minute media. They will likely spend an equivalent sum for Edwards as her own campaign.

Pennsylvania: The hotly contested Democratic primary race between ex-Representative and 2010 Senate nominee Joe Sestak (D-Delaware County) and former gubernatorial chief of staff Katie McGinty will draw to a close on Tuesday. It appears the Democratic establishment coming into the race full-force behind McGinty is paying off to a degree. Several new polls are out, the first one from Franklin & Marshall College (4/11-18; 510 PA likely Democratic primary voters), and the other from Prism Surveys (4/14-17; 832 PA likely Democratic primary voters via an Interactive Voice Response system). Both find Sestak hanging onto the lead despite the wave of money being spent for McGinty. F&M posts him to a 33-27% advantage, inclusive of their typically large undecided factor. Prism, polling for the Accountable Leadership Super PAC that supports Sestak, finds the former Congressman leading 38-31%. But Monmouth University (4/17-19; 302 PA likely Democratic primary voters) sees the two candidates tied at 39%. McGinty claims her internal data posts her to a 37-34% lead, but releases neither the pollster’s name nor their methodology factors. Clearly the Dem establishment giving McGinty the maximum support is helping her effort as she is closing the gap between she and ex-Rep. Sestak. Whether she has enough momentum to overtake him remains questionable.

Washington: Northwest regional pollster The Elway Poll (4/14-17; 503 WA registered voters) finds Sen. Patty Murray (D) again in comfortable shape as she seeks a fifth term later this year. The Poll projects her leading former state Republican Party chairman and King County Commissioner Chris Vance 50-32%. Since the organization’s January poll, both candidates have gained support: Murray +6 points, Vance +9.

House

FL-2: Ever since the Florida Supreme Court decided to enact a mid-decade congressional redistricting map, freshman Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Tallahassee) has been silent about her 2016 political plans. The court map made her a political casualty, making the 2nd District she won in 2014 virtually unwinnable for a Democrat. The original seat’s heavily Democratic African American sector within the city of Tallahassee was placed in District 5 in order to make a majority minority seat solely in northern Florida. Without that particular geographic section in CD-2, it becomes highly doubtful that a Democrat could win. Late in the week, Rep. Graham formally announced she will not seek re-election to the House, hardly a surprising move. Instead, she was clear that her political desires are leading her toward the 2018 Governor’s race, which will be open since incumbent Tim Scott (R) is ineligible to seek a third term. Ms. Graham’s father, Bob Graham, is a former Democratic Governor and US Senator. Her announcement means that Ms. Graham will not be on the ballot in 2016.

IN-3: Hoosier State voters go to the polls on May 3, and the northeastern CD-3 will almost certainly be decided on that date. Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Howe/Ft. Wayne) is vacating the safely Republican seat to run for the Senate. In his wake are four GOP candidates: state Sen. Jim Banks, agribusinessman Kip Tom, state Sen. Liz Brown, and former Wisconsin state Sen. Pam Galloway. A new Wilson Perkins Allen survey (4/10-11; sample size not available) for the Banks campaign finds the state legislator leading the field with 28%, Mr. Tom has 14%, Sen. Brown 12%, and former legislator Galloway attracts only six percent. The Club for Growth, backing Banks, released a new ad tying Tom to an organization that contributed to Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV). The ad responds to Tom’s advertising that tries to paint all of the others as career politicians while branding himself as the conservative outsider.

MN-3: State Sen. Terri Bonoff (D), who entered the 2008 congressional race when the seat was last open but failed to make it through the Democratic state endorsement convention, announced that she will challenge four-term Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Eden Prairie). The 3rd District is marginal, but Paulsen has managed to cement himself as the region’s Representative. Bonoff is attempting to position herself as a candidate who could take advantage of what could be a developing Democratic wave at the top of the ticket, at least in more liberal states like Minnesota. This race could develop, though the fact that Bonoff lost in her own convention to a political newcomer suggests that she may be overrated as a candidate even though she demonstrates fundraising prowess.

NC-12: Freshman Rep. Alma Adams’ (D) move from Greensboro to Charlotte in an attempt to save her career in the radically re-drawn 12th District may be paying off. Taking advantage of a crowded Democratic primary, Adams has jumped out to a small, but significant, lead according to a new poll. The EMC Research poll (4/4-7; 400 NC-12 likely Democratic primary voters) finds Rep. Adams leading the pack with 38% of the vote, followed by former state Senator and 2014 congressional candidate Malcolm Graham who has 28 percent. State Reps. Tricia Cotham and Carla Cunningham follow with 11 and 3%, respectively. Three others trail Cunningham. As a result of the court-ordered redistricting that moved the North Carolina congressional primary from March 15 to June 7, there will be no run-off. So, the crowded field and system may well allow Rep. Adams to win the seat with well under a majority vote.

OK-1: Conservative Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Tulsa) has drawn a significant Republican primary challenger. Oil Company owner Tom Atkinson (R) emerged as a candidate at the close of Oklahoma’s filing period, and will compete with Rep. Bridenstine in the June 28th Oklahoma primary. Bridenstine, himself, came to Congress as an upset primary winner, defeating then-Rep. John Sullivan (R-Tulsa) in the 2012 election. Atkinson is the brother-in-law of Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett (R).

Governor

North Carolina: Last week the Survey USA Tar Heel State data found Gov. Pat McCrory (R) dropping behind Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) by four points. This week, the Elon University poll, referenced in the Senate section above, finds Cooper’s margin to be even larger. According to this sample, the Democrat leads Gov. McCrory 48-42%.

Washington: The aforementioned Elway Poll (see Washington Senate above) again surveyed the Washington Governor’s race and once more finds Gov. Jay Inslee (D) leading the ballot test question, but not overwhelmingly so. Their January poll gave Gov. Inslee a tepid 39-30% lead over Seattle Port Commissioner Bill Bryant (R). The new data finds both candidates gaining support and Inslee’s lead widening slightly, but he is not yet in the safe category. The ballot test finds the Governor holding a 48-36% advantage.