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Period Ending May 20, 2016

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

President

Democrats: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is just a little over 100 delegate votes from clinching the Democratic nomination over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-D/VT), but she fell yet again to him in Oregon (46-54%), and only slipped past him in Kentucky by less than 2,000 votes. Not yet clinching the party nomination means she will have to go to the last major primary day, June 7, to amass enough delegates to reach and surpass the required 2,383 delegate total. Her organization also ran into trouble in Nevada, where the State Convention lapsed into a chaotic state with tempers flaring between the Clinton and Sanders’ supporters. Though their candidate has virtually no realistic chance of winning the nomination, the Sanders operation continues to push forward and plans to fight all the way to the Democratic National Convention.

Republicans: Donald Trump notched a 64% win in the Oregon primary early in the week. Both Kentucky and Idaho, which also held primary elections on May 10, conducted their Republican presidential processes earlier in the year. Trump also remains short of committing the 1,237 votes necessary to claim the Republican nomination, but will do so on June 7. It is very likely that he will be the official nominee before the California electorate finishes voting, since New Jersey and South Dakota will likely deliver him the clinching number earlier in the day.

Fox News released their latest national poll (5/14-17; 1,021 US registered voters) and it shows that Donald Trump has already surpassed Hillary Clinton in national preference. The new data finds Trump up 45-42%, but a month ago Ms. Clinton held a 48-41% advantage. If Bernie Sanders became the Democratic nominee against Trump, the numbers flip. Sanders would hold the same national 45-42% edge. Rasmussen Reports (5/17-18; 1,000 US registered voters) also finds Trump leading Clinton, by a slightly larger 42-37% margin. But, Ipsos/Reuters, also polling within this same time period (5/14-18; 1,397 US registered voters), arrives at a different conclusion. They see Ms. Clinton still holding the lead, this time at 41-36%. In all, the three pollsters find the two candidates close irrespective of who may be currently leading in national popular preference.

Senate

Arizona: Public Policy Polling surveyed the Grand Canyon State electorate (5/13-15; 896 AZ registered voters; 443 AZ likely GOP primary voters) and finds Sen. John McCain leading Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-1) by a 42-36% margin. The data suggest that this race will be seriously competitive. The Republican primary numbers also showed considerable weakness for McCain in his quest for re-nomination. Here, he leads former state Sen. Kelli Ward (R) 39-26%, with two others and the undecided factor accounting for the remaining responses. If McCain and Ward were isolated one-on-one, the GOP sample splits 41% apiece for each individual.

Indiana: Local Indiana pollster Bellwether Research, on behalf of the Free Enterprise Super PAC (5/11-14; 600 IN registered voters), finds Rep. Todd Young (R-IN-9) topping former Rep. Baron Hill (D-IN-9), 36-22%. All of the early polling favors Mr. Young who easily defeated Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN-3) in the May 3 primary. Mr. Hill was unopposed for the Democratic nomination. This will be the second time the two will have faced each other. In 2010, Mr. Young unseated then-Rep. Hill as the 9th District Representative.

New Hampshire: MassInc, polling for Public Radio station WBUR in Boston, (5/11-12; 501 NH registered voters) finds Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) moving just ahead of Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R), 46-45% in their latest survey. With leaners to both candidates included, Hassan’s margin increased to 48-46%. Hassan carried a 50:33% favorable to unfavorable rating in the survey, while Ayotte’s ratio was 44:40%. This race has polled close for the past year and will invariably do so until Election Day itself.

House

FL-19: In order to care for an ailing father, Rep. Curt Clawson (R), who won the 19th District seat in a 2014 special election, says he will not seek another term in November. Chauncey Goss (R), who previously ran for the seat and is the son of former Congressman and CIA Director Porter Goss (R), immediately announced his congressional candidacy. The Ft. Myers-anchored district is one of the safest Republican seats in Florida, and one of just four not changed in the mid-decade court ordered redistricting. Nine of the state’s 27 districts will run as open seats in the 2016 election cycle.

FL-26: Two candidate polls were released, and both show the same contender leading. Former Rep. Joe Garcia (D) quotes his internal Expedition Strategies survey as giving him a 53-28% advantage over businesswoman and former candidate Annette Taddeo in the Democratic primary. Ms. Taddeo countered with her own Anzalone Liszt survey taken over the May 10-13 period, and it too finds Mr. Garcia holding a substantial lead. According to the Taddeo data, the ex-one term House member holds a similar 48-27% edge. The winner will challenge freshman Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Miami) in a re-drawn district that is more Democratic.

HI-1: Freshman Rep. Mark Takai (D) tragically announced that he will not seek a second term later this year. Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year he was cleared to run for re-election after having surgery. Late this week, however, the Congressman informed the public that his disease is now spreading and he is forced to retire. The 48-year-old Representative won a 51-47% victory in 2014 after spending 20 years in the Hawaii legislature.

KS-3: Rep. Kevin Yoder is another Republican member who has made a marginal district safe. Now, a new challenger has emerged attempting to put this Kansas City district into play. Financial counselor Jay Sidie (D) this week announced that he will challenge the three-term Representative. Mr. Yoder must be considered a big favorite until it becomes clear how strong Mr. Sidie, a first-time candidate, might become.

KY-1: Former state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer (R), who lost the 2015 Republican gubernatorial primary by just 83 votes to businessman Matt Bevin who would go on to be elected Governor, notched a 61% GOP congressional primary victory against three opponents. Mr. Comer will now easily win the general election in this open western state congressional district and he will succeed the retiring 11-term Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Hopkinsville) next year.

LA-2: East Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden (D), who advanced to the statewide run-off for Lt. Governor last November, declared that he will challenge three-term Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-New Orleans) in the November jungle primary. Rep. Richmond is the clear favorite, but this has the underpinnings of a serious challenge if Holden can put the financial resources together. If the race remains just the two candidates, the contest will be decided on November 8 as one of the primary contenders will capture a majority of the vote in the jungle primary. The candidate filing period closes July 22.

WA-3: Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R), who has held a marginal southwestern Washington seat without much in the way of serious challenge for two re-election cycles after originally winning in 2010, has drawn a tougher Democratic opponent. State Rep. Jim Moeller, who was looking to enter the Lt. Governor’s race, has announced that he will instead file for Congress. Rep. Beutler remains favored, but this district should now be watched.

Governor

Oregon: Interim Gov. Kate Brown (D) scored an easy special election Democratic primary win earlier this week. She will now face former Oregon Medical Association president, Dr. Bud Pierce (R), in the special general election. As Secretary of State, Ms. Brown ascended to the Governorship in 2015 when then-Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) resigned to avoid publicizing a scandal. Oregon has no office of Lt. Governor. She is running to serve the balance of the current term, and then can run for a full four-year stint in 2018. Gov. Brown is heavily favored to win in November.