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Period Ending May 16, 2014

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


Alaska: Public Policy Polling (5/8-11; 582 AK registered voters; 313 AK Republican primary voters) found former Natural Resources Department director and Attorney General Dan Sullivan pulling away in the Republican primary. According to the PPP study, Sullivan leads Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and former US Senate nominee Joe Miller 40-26-14%, respectively. Sen. Mark Begich (D) tops all potential Republican candidates (42-37% against Sullivan), but fails to break 43% against any opponent. Clearly the Alaska race is going to be close and hard fought all the way to Election Day.

Arkansas: Virtually all polls are detecting a rebound for Sen. Mark Pryor (D) from a series of polls released last month that showed Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR-4) beginning to break away from the incumbent. Now, a new Marist/NBC survey (5/11; 876 AR registered voters) finds Sen. Pryor surging back to an eleven point, 51-40% lead. But, OnMessage, polling for Rep. Cotton, (5/6-8; 600 AR likely voters) reaches a much different conclusion. Their data posts Rep. Cotton to a 42-40% edge. OnMessage principals say the difference between the two studies is that their poll screens for likely voters versus Marist’s registered voter sample.

Georgia: Marist/NBC and the Atlanta Journal Constitution both conducted extensive surveys on the Georgia Senate race with the May 20th primary fast approaching. The polling finds consensus Democratic candidate Michelle Nunn opening up a lead over all of the Republicans, with the exception of businessman David Perdue with whom she is tied. This is not a particularly surprising result since the Republicans have been publicly flailing away at each other during the final stages of their hotly contested nomination battle. Meanwhile, Perdue’s comments that he would consider raising revenue to solve the budget deficit may damage his prospects on Tuesday. At the very least, the close contest among the five major candidates will continue through the primary election’s last days.

Nebraska Primary Results: Polling predicting that Midland University president Ben Sasse was pulling away in the Republican Senatorial primary proved precisely accurate. On primary night, Sasse garnered 49% of the vote, followed by banker Sid Dinsdale with 22%, and early front-runner Shane Osborn, the former military veteran and state Treasurer, at 21 percent. Sasse will now face attorney Dave Domina, who captured the Democratic nomination with 67% of the vote. Sasse is the prohibitive favorite to succeed retiring Sen. Mike Johanns (R).

North Carolina: Public Policy Polling released the first post-primary survey (5/9-11; 877 NC registered voters) since the May 6th North Carolina primary, and the results show a very low decided factor for both candidates. PPP projects that Sen. Kay Hagan (D) has only a 38-36% lead over newly nominated state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R). Since less than 40% of the voting public identifies themselves as Hagan supporters poses trouble for the Senator, and underscores her status as one of the most vulnerable incumbents standing for re-election.

Oklahoma: Polling is now consistently showing Rep. James Lankford (R-OK-5) pulling even with, or slightly ahead of, former state House Speaker T. W. Shannon (R). Early numbers gave Lankford a large lead, but Shannon vaunted to a strong advantage once the campaign began to ignite. A new Sooner Poll (5/5-10; 580 OK likely Republican primary voters) posts Lankford to a tight 34-32% edge over Shannon. The primary is scheduled for June 24th. A run-off, if necessary, occurs on August 26th. Five other GOP candidates, including former Mayor and state Senator Randy Brogdon, are also on the ballot.

South Dakota: A new Survey USA poll (5/6-12; 504 SD registered voters) shows for the first time that ex-Sen. Larry Pressler, who has entered this race as an Independent, is attracting a substantial vote share. According to S-USA, former Gov. Mike Rounds (R), the race favorite, holds a 44-30-17% advantage over former Sen. Tom Daschle aide Rick Weiland (D) and Pressler. Whether the former three-term Senator (1979-1997) becomes a major factor in this campaign is yet to be determined, but this is the first data that makes such an argument.

West Virginia: In races that long ago were foregone conclusions, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2) and Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D) easily won their respective Republican and Democratic nominations in the Mountaineer State primary. Ms. Capito is the decided early favorite for the general election. With two women representing the major parties, it is now a certainty that the state will elect its first female Senator in West Virginia history.


FL-13: As quickly as the Democrats announced that former military officer and ex-Republican Ed Jany would challenge newly elected Rep. David Jolly (R), the candidacy has ended. Because he had not been a Democrat for a year, Jany is ineligible to run on their ballot line under Florida election law. It then became known that Jany also does not reside in the 13th District, and that his college degree is largely fabricated. All of this coming to light has made Jany reconsider his candidacy and announced that he would not run after all. This means Jolly will quite unexpectedly face only a Libertarian candidate and write-in contender in his quest for election to a full term.

MI-13: The decision that Rep. John Conyers (D), first elected in 1964, does not have enough valid election petitions to qualify for the ballot is now official. Mr. Conyers has the option to file a lawsuit challenging the ballot requirement provisions, run as a write-in for the Democratic primary, or seek re-election as an Independent in the general election. Rev. Horace Sheffield III has qualified for the Democratic ballot. The issue surrounding the Conyers’ petition is that several of the circulators were themselves not registered voters. Under the ballot qualification legal provisions, should a non-registered voter circulate petitions, all signatures gathered by these individuals become disqualified.

Nebraska Primary Results: All three Republican Congressmen faced GOP primary opposition and one had a close call. Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE-2) scored only a 53-47% victory over businessman Dan Frei despite enjoying a tremendous advantage in campaign resources. Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE-1) cruised to an 86% victory, while Adrian Smith (R-NE-3) captured 68% in his campaign. Terry will now face state Sen. Brad Ashford (D) in what is becoming a politically marginal Omaha-anchored congressional district.

NJ-3: Candidate Tom McArthur released the results of his internal National Research poll (5/6-7; 400 NJ-3 registered voters). The analysis is clearly skewed in favor of their candidate, but that does not necessarily mean that the numbers are tainted. In any event, the data portends a 42-38% McArthur primary lead over former US Senate nominee Steve Lonegan. The two are vying for the opportunity to replace retiring Rep. Jon Runyan (R). Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard is the prohibitive favorite in the Democratic primary. Rep. Runyan publicly endorsed McArthur as the week came to a close.

WV Primary Results: Two of the state’s three districts hosted contested party primaries. In the open 2nd District former Maryland state Senator and Republican Party chairman Alex Mooney, after moving to West Virginia, won the GOP nomination with 36% of the vote. He defeated first-time candidate Ken Reed, a local businessman, former George W. Bush Administration official Charlotte Lane, and ex-state Sen. Steve Harrison. Mooney will now face former West Virginia Democratic Party chairman Nick Casey who defeated state Delegate Meshea Poore by a 60-40% count. The Charleston-based 2nd District could become competitive in the fall, but Mooney begins with an advantage. In the 3rd District, long-time Congressman Nick Rahall (D) was re-nominated with 66% of the vote. He will now face state Sen. Evan Jenkins, who was unopposed for the Republican nomination. With President Obama only attracting 32% of the vote in southern West Virginia during the last election, this campaign has the potential of becoming one of the most competitive in the country.


Florida: Several more Sunshine State gubernatorial polls have come to the forefront, underscoring that the race between Gov. Rick Scott (R) and former Gov. Charlie Crist (D) is extremely close. Four polls, from Rasmussen Reports, Gravis Marketing, McLaughlin & Associates, and Mason-Dixon Polling & Research show a range of Crist being ahead six points to Scott leading by four. For all intents and purposes, the two candidates are in a virtual tie. The Florida contest, as is usually the case, projects to end in a photo finish.

Nebraska Primary Results: In what became a razor-thin gubernatorial contest, wealthy businessman Pete Ricketts nipped Attorney General Jon Bruning 26-25% to capture the Republican nomination and the inside track to the Governor’s office. In third place was state Sen. Beau McCoy with 21%, while state Auditor Mike Foley posted 19 percent. Mr. Ricketts is poised to replace outgoing Gov. Dave Heineman who endorsed Bruning during the campaign’s waning hours. The new GOP nominee now faces former Nebraska University Regent Chuck Hassebrook who was unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

Ohio: The new Rasmussen Reports Ohio poll (5/7-8; 750 OH registered voters) again shows Gov. John Kasich (R) topping Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald (D) by a margin that’s beyond the polling error margin. RR gives the Governor a 45-38% edge over the now-official Democratic nominee. Quinnipiac University (5/7-12; 1,174 OH registered voters) gives the Governor a much greater 50-35% lead with an exceedingly strong 56:33% job approval rating for a chief executive in a marginal state. Public Policy Polling, however, surveying for the Ohio Democratic Party (5/9-11; 740 OH registered voters) finds a much closer result. PPP projects Mr. Kasich to hold only a 47-43% advantage.

Pennsylvania: With the Keystone State primary also occurring on May 20th, York businessman and former state Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf continues to hold a substantial lead in the Democratic primary. According to a new Franklin & Marshall College study (5/6-12; 530 PA likely Democratic primary voters), Wolf has a 33-14% lead over Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA-13), 35-14% among the hisotrically likely voters, and 41-19% when “leaners” are included. In third place is state Treasurer Rob McCord who posts 9%, and former state EPA Director Katie McGinty who has been stalled in the 5% range for the entire election. The winner, most likely Mr. Wolf, will face vulnerable Gov. Tom Corbett (R) in November.