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Period Ending June 20, 2014

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

Senate

Upcoming Primaries: June 24th will bring us the result of the Mississippi Republican nomination contest between Sen. Thad Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel. The latest polls suggest that McDaniel will unseat the veteran lawmaker, who has been in Congress since 1973.

Oklahomans will get their first chance to make a statement in the James Lankford-T.W. Shannon campaign. The presence of state Sen. Randy Brogdon and four other candidates will probably send the aforementioned pair into a run-off election.

Arkansas: The Tom Cotton (R) campaign released another of its OnMessage internal polls this week. The latest (6/9-11; 600 AR likely voters) predicted the candidate to be leading Sen. Mark Pryor (D) 47-40%. This race continues to feature major swings between the contenders. Sen. Pryor held the consistent early lead; Rep. Cotton seemed to capture the advantage at the beginning of 2014 before the sentiment began tacking back toward Pryor in late April. This OnMessage poll, in particular, suggests that the pendulum’s bob is retuning to Cotton.

Iowa: Last week, we reported upon three post-June 3rd primary surveys about the open Iowa Senate race, each posting state legislator Joni Ernst (R) to a slight lead over US Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA-1). This week, Quinnipiac University, released the results of their June survey (6/12-16; 1,277 IA registered voters), which found Rep. Braley rebounding to a 44-40% edge.

New Hampshire: Suffolk University reports the findings of their June New Hampshire poll (6/14-18; 800 NH registered voters), and the data stakes Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) to a ten point lead. The results record the Senator tallying 49% support as compared to ex-Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown’s (R) 39%.

North Carolina: Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling (6/12-15; 1,076 NC registered voters) provides a good news/bad news scenario for Sen. Kay Hagan (D). While the results show her re-claiming the lead over Republican nominee Thom Tillis, the NC House Speaker, Ms. Hagan only claims 39% of the vote (Tillis has 34%), a very poor number for any incumbent. With both major party candidates hovering in the 30s, Libertarian candidate Sean Haugh collects 11% support. Virtually every time we see a third party contender breaking into polling double-digits, the support fails to translate into votes at the ballot box. That same pattern will likely occur here. Sen. Hagan, despite registering a small lead in this survey, continues to be a highly endangered incumbent. She is the Democratic Senator most likely to lose.

Oklahoma: The American Viewpoint polling firm surveying for the Foundation for Economic Prosperity, which supports Rep. James Lankford (R-OK-5), finds him breaking away from former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon (R). According to their late May poll (5/27-29; 500 likely OK Republican primary voters) that was only released this week, Lankford holds an unrealistic lead of 48-26%. This does not track with any other recent survey. In fact, Rep. Lankford’s own campaign poll (Tarrance Group; 6/9-11; 500 OK likely Republican primary voters) posts their candidate to a 41-34% advantage. The most probable June 24th primary result is that Lankford and Shannon advance to a secondary August 26th run-off election.

House

House Leadership Elections: Reps. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-23) and Steve Scalise (R-LA-1) were selected for the top party leadership positions late this week. The special elections within the House Republican Conference were necessitated with outgoing Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA-7) Republican primary loss, and his subsequent resignation from the leadership. Mr. McCarthy, the House Majority Whip, easily ascended to the Majority Leader’s position. Mr. Scalise defeated Reps. Peter Roskam (R-IL-6), the Chief Deputy Majority Whip under McCarthy, and Marlin Stutzman (R-IN-3) on the first ballot. The two will assume their new positions at the end of July.

CA-52: A new Survey USA poll spells trouble for freshman Rep. Scott Peters (D). The data (6/11-12; 554 CA-52 registered voters) finds the Congressman trailing his Republican challenger, former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, by a 51-44% count. The 52nd is becoming a top national Republican conversion target.

IA-3: The post-primary nominating convention, necessary in this instance to choose a Republican congressional nominee, occurs this Saturday. Under Iowa election law, because no candidate received 35% of the vote in the June 3rd primary election, delegates will meet in convention to select a nominee. Former state Senator and 2010 congressional nominee Brad Zaun led the field of six candidates, five of whom attracted double-digit support. Mr. Zaun registered 25% of the vote; businessman Robert Cramer was second with 21%; Secretary of State Matt Schultz followed with 20%; association executive Monte Shaw was next at 17%; and former Sen. (Chuck) Grassley (R-IA) chief of staff David Young garnered 16%. The convention can now turn to any candidate or individual, irrespective of the primary election results. The eventual winner will face consensus Democratic candidate Staci Appel in a race that will likely go down to the wire on November 4th.

MI-14: Lake Research conducted an internal campaign poll (6/3-5; 400 MI-14 likely Democratic primary voters) for the Brenda Lawrence campaign and found the Southfield Mayor leading former Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-MI-13) and state Rep. Rudy Hobbs (D) by a substantial margin. The Democratic voters’ poll segmented 35-27-6% in favor of Ms. Lawrence. The Detroit congressional district is open because Rep. Gary Peters (D) is running for Senate. The winner of the August 5th Democratic primary will win the seat in November.

NY-13: Next Tuesday is also a potential day of reckoning for veteran Rep. Charlie Rangel (D). The Congressman, first elected to the House in 1970, again faces state Sen. Adriano Espaillat in the Democratic primary. In 2012, Rangel edged Espaillat by a little over 1,000 votes. This election features both men in politically stronger position. Espaillat has attracted some of the City’s top labor unions away from Mr. Rangel. The Congressman is two years removed from a tax scandal.

NY-21: Harper Polling (6/17-18; 498 NY-21 likely Republican primary voters) surveyed the hot open seat Republican congressional primary between former White House aide Elise Stefanik and former nominee Matt Doheny. Because of New York’s election system, Doheny could advance to the general election even if he loses the GOP primary because he has already been awarded the Independence Party ballot line. A split in the Republican ranks during the last several elections has allowed retiring Democrat Bill Owens to repeatedly win the seat despite never receiving a majority of the vote. The Harper data forecasts Stefanik to a 45-37% lead in the primary election, but the battle may be just beginning regardless of the primary result. Democrats have coalesced around Brooklyn filmmaker and organic grocery store owner Aaron Woolf, even though the borough is nowhere close to this North Country district. The 21st District again promises to provide a unique contribution to the Upstate congressional elections.

OK-5: The June 24th Republican primary contest will likely end with two of the following three candidates: state Rep. Mike Turner, state Sen. Clark Jolley, and OK Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas, headed to a run-off election. The eventual Republican nominee wins the seat in the general election. Incumbent Rep. James Lankford (R) is running for Senate.

Governor

Upcoming Primaries: The June 24th primary election will feature the tight Republican nomination contest in Colorado where formers Reps. Tom Tancredo (R-CO-6) and Bob Beauprez (R-CO-7), along with Secretary of State Scott Gessler, are fighting for the right to challenge Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) in November. The Colorado contest appears to be tight in both the GOP nominating battle and in the general election.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin faces a minor Republican primary skirmish, while state Rep. Joe Dorman is unopposed for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

The Maryland Democratic contest will be decided on Tuesday, as favored Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown battles Attorney General Doug Gansler. According to a late Abt-SRBI survey (6/5-8; 487 likely Democratic primary voters), Brown holds a two-to-one, 46-23%, lead over Gansler.

Finally, in New York, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is poised to win the Republican gubernatorial nomination but is a severe underdog to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) in the fall.

Hawaii: The Merriman River Group (6/7-9; 729 HI likely Democratic primary voters) released a new poll for Hawaii’s Civil Beat political blog that shows Gov. Neil Abercrombie to be in serious trouble for renomination. Though he has little in the way of campaign resources, state Sen. David Ige leads the Governor by a substantial 48-37% margin. Abercrombie is also showing signs of faring poorly in the general election, too. Should he rebound and win the Democratic primary, he will face strong competition from former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona (R), the man the Governor defeated in 2010 by 17 percentage points.

Iowa: The aforementioned Quinnipiac University poll (see Iowa Senate above) also tested the state’s gubernatorial contest. According to the Q-Poll results, five-term Gov. Terry Branstad (R) posts a 47-38% advantage over state Sen. Jack Hatch (D).