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Period Ending June 22, 2018

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


Arizona: Regular Arizona pollster OH Predictive Insights released their latest survey (6/11-12; 600 AZ likely Republican primary voters) and finds a major change in the Senate GOP primary scheduled for August 28th. According to OH, Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) has opened up a 39-24-14% lead over former state Senator and 2016 US Senate candidate Kelli Ward, and ex- Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Previously, Ms. McSally's advantage was much smaller. The Republican primary winner will face Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix), the consensus Democratic candidate, in the general election. Sen. Jeff Flake (R) is not seeking re-election.

California: The new Los Angeles Times/University of Southern California poll was just released (6/6-17; 893 CA adults, 767 registered voters, 498 of whom voted in the 6/5 state primary; online) and posts Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) to only a 36-18% lead over state Senator and former Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles). The remaining 46% declared themselves as undecided. The Feinstein total is obviously low for an incumbent who was originally elected in a 1992 special election, and then won four full terms in subsequent campaign years. In the June 5th jungle primary, Sen. Feinstein garnered 44% of the vote, well under a majority, but also faced 31 opponents. Sen. de Leon advancing creates a double-Democrat general election. He placed second with just 12% of the vote, however.

Missouri: A new Democratic Senate Majority PAC survey (Global Strategy Group; 6/11-13; 804 MO likely voters) finds Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) moving into her strongest position within this current election cycle. Recovering from hits taken during former Governor Eric Greitens' (R) extra-marital affair scandal that forced him from office prior to impeachment and being charged with felonies, Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) has now fallen behind Sen. McCaskill 47-41% according to the GSG results. Previous polls have shown a much closer race, a spread usually in the plus or minus two percentage point range.

North Dakota: A new Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy survey for the Valley News Service (6/13-15; 625 ND registered voters via live interview) finds at-large Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck) leading first-term Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D) 48-44% on the statewide count. At this point in the election cycle, the North Dakota race appears to be the Republicans' best conversion opportunity according to available polling.

Texas: Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research went into the field to test the Texas Senate race (5/29-6/5; released 6/14; 1,000 TX likely voters) and their data reinforced other released polls within the same time period. According to GQR, Sen. Ted Cruz (R) has a 49-43% lead over Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-El Paso). Though the Cruz advantage continues to languish in single-digits, the Senator's early standing isn't particularly unusual for a Texas Republican statewide candidate facing a credible and active opponent. Republicans tend to under-poll in the state, and generally elsewhere in the South. The voting history suggests Sen. Cruz's actual final margin will be more substantial, in the 10-14 point range.

Utah: A new pre-primary survey from the Hinckley Institute of the University of Utah, conducted for the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper, finds former presidential nominee Mitt Romney (R) in position to score a landslide US Senate primary nomination victory on Tuesday night. The poll (6/11-18; 654 UT registered voters; 356 UT registered Republicans) finds Mr. Romney holding a commanding 65-23% lead over state Rep. Mike Kennedy (R-Provo). In a general election pairing, Mr. Romney holds a 58-20% lead over Salt Lake County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson who won the Democratic nomination in convention.

Wisconsin: The Restoration PAC released a new Hodes & Associates survey of the Wisconsin Senate Republican primary (6/7-12; 600 WI likely GOP primary voters) that again stakes businessman Kevin Nicholson to a lead over state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield). Once more, we also see a very large undecided segment as the candidates move toward the August 14th primary election. According to Hodes, Mr. Nicholson sports a 28-14% advantage over Sen. Vukmir, while a new Marquette University Law School poll (6/13-17; 800 WI registered voters) finds him holding a 37-32% primary lead. The eventual Republican nominee challenges first-term Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) in the general election.


CA-48: The Golden State's 48th Congressional District primary election remains unresolved now more than two full weeks after the June 5th primary election. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) is safe in first place with 30% against 15 opponents. But, biomedical company CEO Hans Keirstead (D) and businessman Harley Rouda (D) continue seesawing for second place and the right to advance into the general election. The latest official count finds Mr. Rouda ahead by just 62 votes, meaning a lengthy recount process will likely begin after the official vote is finally recorded.

NY-11: Campaigns on Staten Island, NY are always known for their "no holds barred" styles and the Republican congressional primary challenge between Rep. Dan Donovan (R-Staten Island) and former Rep. Michael Grimm (R) is certainly no exception. Late last week, Mr. Grimm, who was forced from office because of a federal tax fraud conviction and would subsequently spend seven months in federal prison, claims that Rep. Donovan promised to obtain a pardon from President Trump if he (Grimm) would exit the race. Rep. Donovan denies the accusation, but said the subject did come up in a conversation that he and the President held. Mr. Donovan asserts that he did not ask for the pardon, nor did Mr. Trump move in such a direction. The New York federal primary is June 26th.

ND-AL: Democrats and Republicans made their US House nominations official in the June 12th state primary, and Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy late this week released its at-large congressional race results from their new statewide survey (see North Dakota Senate above). According to M-D, state Sen. Kelly Armstrong (R-Dickinson) leads former state House Minority Leader Mac Schneider (D), 46-35%, on the ballot test question. The winner replaces three-term Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck), who is running for the Senate.

OH-12: Special election candidates Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville), a state Senator, and Danny O'Connor (D), the Franklin County Recorder, continue moving forward to their August 7th decision day. JMC Analytics just released their latest poll (6/13-16; 500 OH-12 likely special election voters who completed the ten-question survey) and found Sen. Balderson leading Mr. O'Connor, 46-35%. This tracks with the previously released Monmouth University poll (6/7-10; 501 OH-12 likely special election voters) that found Sen. Balderson holding a 43-33% district-wide advantage.

PA-10 & 16: Two new polls find Keystone State Reps. Mike Kelly (R-Butler) and Scott Perry (R-Dillsburg/York) holding only single-digit leads in their newly configured congressional districts. Public Policy Polling (6/8-10; 654 PA-10 likely voters) projects Rep. Perry to be leading Lutheran minister and retired Army officer George Scott (D), 45-41%. In 2016, President Trump comfortably carried the new 10th District with a 52-43% margin.

In Rep. Kelly's new western Pennsylvania's 16th CD, stretching from Erie to the outer northern Pittsburgh suburbs, the Normingtion Petts survey research firm conducted a poll for Democratic nominee Ron DiNicola (6/5-7; 400 PA-16 likely voters) and also finds a competitive challenge. According to their data, Rep. Kelly's advantage is only 50-44%, and is the second such poll to suggest that this campaign has the potential to develop. President Trump carried the new PA-16 by a full 20 points, 58-38%, so this seat is more likely to normalize as Election Day approaches.


Florida: Two new Democratic gubernatorial primary surveys again see a very close statewide race. The "Let's Preserve the American Dream" organization (6/5-9; 800 FL likely Democratic primary voters) finds Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine topping the primary field, but he leads former US Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Tallahassee) only 24-21%. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is next with 11%, while Orlando businessman Chris King has 4% support, and wealthy businessman Jeff Greene attracts 3 percent.

But RABA Research (6/15-16; 660 FL likely Democratic primary voters) sees the race as being razor thin. Their data suggests Mayor Levine's edge is only one point over Ms. Graham, 27-26%, while Mr. King improves his standing to 15%, Mayor Gillum tabs 8% support, and Mr. Greene has 3 percent. The Florida primary is August 28th. The Republicans see an equally tight Republican race between state Agriculture Commissioner and former US Congressman Adam Putnam and US Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Palm Coast/Daytona Beach), but neither of these polls tested the Republican race.

Maine: Through referendum, Maine voters instituted an “instant run-off” process to ensure political party nominees obtain a majority vote, but the new program's first test has been anything but “instant.” On June 12th, Democratic primary voters cast 33% of their gubernatorial ballots for appointed Attorney General Janet Mills, but she did not officially win. Businessman and Iraq War veteran Adam Cote finished second with 29% support, and six other candidates followed with between 16 and 1 percent of the vote. The succeeding candidates are important because their supporters are key to who eventually is declared the party nominee.

In a long counting process that began after the election and found irregularities in five towns, the Secretary of State's office finally completed the ranked vote tabulation at the end of this week. When a person now votes in Maine, they are asked to rank the candidates by level of support from 2nd through 8th, in this case. The laborious process finally ended and AG Mills was declared the winner over Mr. Cote, 54-46%, after the ranked votes from the other six candidates were dispersed. Ms. Mills now faces businessman Shawn Moody who won the Republican nomination outright. The now official general election pairing begins as a toss-up race.

New York: Syracuse former Mayor Stephanie Miner (D), who the national Democratic leadership continually tried to recruit as a challenger for Rep. John Katko (R-Syracuse), has decided to run for a different office. But, her next political move is not exciting her previous supporters. This week, Ms. Miner announced that she will enter the Governor's race and form her own party in order to do so. The decision will place her into the general election against both Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and actress Cynthia Nixon (D/Working Families), but with minimal chances of winning the race.

The likely Republican nominee is Duchess County Executive Mark Molinaro, who will also control the Conservative and Reform Party ballot lines. In New York, candidates may appear on the ballot with different political party lines. All votes cast for a candidate, regardless of on which party affiliation line, are amassed together. Gov. Cuomo is favored to win a third term. The New York state primary is not until September 13th.

South Carolina: The short two-week Republican gubernatorial run-off cycle is already drawing to a close, and the first post-primary poll has just been released. The Trafalgar Group went into the field right after the June 12th primary (6/13-14; 1,000 GOP likely run-off voters) and found Gov. Henry McMaster opening up a commanding 60-36% margin over businessman John Warren. The pollsters included those respondents who are reported as "leaning" to a particular candidate. The June 26th winner, presumably Gov. McMaster, then faces state Rep. James Smith (D-Columbia) who clinched the Democratic nomination on primary night.

Wisconsin: A previously mentioned Marquette University Law School poll (see Wisconsin Senate above) finds Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers opening up a commanding Democratic primary lead over his nine tested opponents for the August 14th Democratic primary. According to Marquette, Mr. Evers scores 25% support in comparison to the other candidates, with the next closest finishers, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin and former state Democratic Party chairman Matt Flynn, each only pulling 7% preference. In a general election pairing with Gov. Scott Walker (R), Mr. Evers trails the two-term incumbent, 48-44%.