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Period Ending June 13, 2014

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

Senate

Georgia: Survey USA (6/3-5; 419 GA likely Republican primary voters) finds Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA-1) leading businessman David Perdue (R) 52-41%, but a budding campaign finance situation may become a significant detractor for the Savannah Congressman.

Iowa: Three post-primary surveys were released early in the week, and all show newly-nominated Joni Ernst (R), a southwestern Iowa state Senator, taking the lead over Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA-1). All of the polls were taken during the June 4-5 period, and each report similar margins. Vox Populi (667 IA registered voters) finds Ernst leading 49-44%, while Rasmussen Reports (750 likely voters) posts Ernst to a thinner 45-44% edge. Iowa’s Loras College (600 IA registered voters) finds a 48-42% Ernst margin. The early polling suggests Iowa will move into the top tier of competitive Senate campaigns.

Mississippi: The first two post-primary polls were released in the Magnolia State and each projects state Sen. Chris McDaniel to be leading Sen. Thad Cochran in the upcoming Republican run-off (June 24). According to Chism Strategies (6/5; 835 likely MS Republican run-off voters), the most accurate public pollster for the Mississippi primary election, McDaniel leads Cochran 51-48%. Newcomer National Strategic (6/5; 442 likely MS Republican run-off voters) finds McDaniel holding an even larger 52-46% lead.

Montana: A new Rasmussen Reports poll (6/9-10; 750 MT likely voters) confirms other post-primary surveys that detect at-large Rep. Steve Daines (R) with a substantial lead over appointed Sen. John Walsh (D). According to RR, Daines leads 53-35%.

Oregon: Two competing polls have been publicized, but with very different conclusions. Republican nominee Monica Wehby released her internal Tarrance Group poll (6/1-3; 615 OR registered voters) that shows a surprisingly close 41-39% spread, with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) leading. Survey USA (6/5-9; 560 OR registered voters) counters that result, projecting Merkley to a substantial 50-32% advantage. Oregon is a Democratic state, so the S-USA is likely closer to reality.

South Carolina Primary Results: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R), who has been battling Republican base problems for several years, easily won renomination on June 10th and thus avoiding a run-off election. Sen. Graham scored 56% against six Republican opponents. Because no challenger was able to coalesce the anti-Graham vote around him or her led to the Senator having a relatively easy renomination run. Sen. Tim Scott (R), running for the first time after his appointment in 2013, won an overwhelming primary victory scoring 90% against one minor candidate. Both Sens. Graham and Scott are heavy favorites to win in the fall.

South Dakota: Rasmussen Reports conducted the first post-primary South Dakota Senate poll and finds former Gov. Mike Rounds (R) leading ex-congressional aide Rick Weiland (D) 44-29%. Rounds has been considered a heavy favorite for the race, but his primary performance and this early survey result shows him lagging a bit under expectations.

House

California Undecided Races: The California primary was June 3rd, but counting still continues in several districts under the state’s laborious election reporting system. In the three remaining outstanding congressional races, it looks pretty clear who now has qualified for advancement into the general election. In the 15th District, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D) avoids a more dangerous all-Democratic general election campaign as Republican Hugh Bussell appears to have secured second place. This is a major break for Swalwell, as the 15th District is heavily Democratic and his main vulnerability would be a general election against a member of his own party. Bussell edged state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett (D), who badly under-performed. In the Santa Barbara-based 24th CD, actor Chris Mitchum (R), son of the late actor Robert Mitchum, will advance to face Rep. Lois Capps (D), who only scored 44% in the jungle primary. Finally, in San Bernardino’s 31st District it appears that Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar (D) has qualified for the general election, facing Republican former Naval officer Paul Chabot who finished first. The district is Democratic, but Aguilar has not performed to expectations in the last two elections, so the seat is very much in play.

Maine Primary Results: The open 2nd District (Rep. Mike Michaud (D) running for Governor) produced both Democratic and Republican nominees. Facing each other in the general election will be state Sen. Emily Cain (D) and former state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin (R). Ms. Cain easily defeated fellow state Sen. Troy Jackson (D), while Poliquin topped former state Senate President and two-time congressional nominee Kevin Raye in the GOP primary. Democrats are favored to hold this seat, but it could become competitive if a Republican wave were to develop.

Nevada Primary Results: A quiet night in the Nevada primary produced two incumbent primaries. Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV-1) easily won re-nomination and she will go on to claim another general election win in November. In the 4th District, freshman Rep. Steven Horsford (D) took 84% of the vote in his three-way primary. Republican Assemblyman Cresent Hardy won the right to challenge him in the general election. Horsford will be a big favorite. In the marginal 3rd District, as expected, Rep. Joe Heck (R) will face political consultant Erin Bilbray (D), daughter of former Rep. Jim Bilbray (D-NV-1).

South Carolina Primary Results: Only two of the state’s seven Representatives drew primary competition. Reps. Joe Wilson (R-SC-2) and Jim Clyburn (D-SC-6) easily dispatched minor candidates. All seven incumbents appear safe in their respective re-election battles.

Virginia Primary Results: June 10th’s shocking result was House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA-7) Republican primary defeat. Mr. Cantor becomes the first Majority Leader ever to be denied renomination in US history. College Professor David Brat topped Cantor 56-44% and will go onto face Democrat Jack Trammell, who also teaches as Randolph Mason College, the institution that employs Dr. Brat. The 7th District is decidedly Republican, meaning that Brat should coast home to victory in the fall. In the open 8th District, former Lt. Gov. Don Beyer easily won the Democratic congressional primary, defeating nine other candidates. He becomes the prohibitive favorite to succeed retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA-8) in the fall.

Governor

California: The first post-primary California poll shows Gov. Jerry Brown (D) holding a comfortable lead in his quest for a fourth non-consecutive term. According to Rasmussen Reports (6/4-5; 823 CA registered voters), Gov. Brown leads former US Treasury Department official Neel Kashkari (R) 52-33%.

Florida: The St. Leo University Polling Institute has released new data on the Florida Governor’s race (5/28-6/4; 402 FL likely voters). It gives incumbent Rick Scott (R) a slight 43-41% advantage over ex-Gov. Charlie Crist (D). Scott began the race trailing by double-digits but has been consistently rebounding throughout the year. This campaign is now expected to go down to the wire.

Georgia: Survey USA was also in the field in Georgia (6/3-5; 999 GA registered voters) testing the statewide campaign between Gov. Nathan Deal (R) and state Sen. Jason Carter (D). The results give the Governor a 44-38% edge, the best margin he has posted in a month. Sen. Carter is the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter.

Nevada: An oddity happened in the Democratic gubernatorial primary this past Tuesday. Though former Economic Development Commissioner Bob Goodman became the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, he didn’t place first in the election. Thirty percent of voters actually chose “None of These Candidates”. Goodman finished second with 25%, but he becomes the nominee. Needless to say, Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) is a virtual cinch for re-election.

Oregon: The aforementioned Survey USA poll (see Oregon Senate on page 1), posts Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) to a 48-35% advantage over state Rep. Dennis Richardson (R). Kitzhaber is running for a fourth non-consecutive term, and is obviously favored for re-election. The Obamacare debacle, however, where the state registered literally no one for the healthcare program after spending more than $300 million developing the system could make this race competitive once the general election contest hits full stride.

Texas: The University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll of the open gubernatorial race has been released. Using the international YouGov platform may inspire more confidence in their results. Previous UT efforts have not been particularly reliable. Though the sampling period is long (May 30-June 9), the results from 1,200 sampled registered voters appear plausible. The conclusion shows Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) with a 44-32% advantage over state Sen. Wendy Davis (D), numbers that are in the same realm as other commissioned polls.