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Period Ending June 26, 2020

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

President

Michigan: After being quiet most of the presidential election cycle, the Trafalgar Group, the only pollster to correctly project the Great Lakes states in the 2016 election, released new data for Michigan, and again they are cutting against the polling grain. According to their latest political research study (6/16-18; 1,101 MI likely voters), Trafalgar projects former Vice President Joe Biden to hold only a one-point 46-45% lead over President Trump, which is almost identical to Change Research's (6/12-14; 353 MI likely voters) 47-45% published polling margin.

Trafalgar and Change portend the most recent data and reflect a much different trend. The Siena College/New York Times survey series, which included Michigan (6/8-17; 610 MI registered voters, of which a portion are culled from the inactive voter category) finds Mr. Biden holding an 11 point lead, 47-36%.

Senate

Alabama: Retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville (R) would unseat Sen. Doug Jones (D) according to a recently released Cygnal political poll of the Alabama electorate. The survey (6/13-16; 530 AL likely voters) gives Mr. Tuberville a 50-36% wide advantage over Sen. Jones, a major improvement from the May FM3 Research survey (5/14-18; 601 AL likely voters) that saw only a 47-44% split. If former US Attorney General and Senator Jeff Sessions were the Republican nominee, he would lead Sen. Jones, 45-35%. The Republican US Senate run-off is July14th.

Colorado: Former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff released an internal poll late last week that, while still showing him trailing former Gov. John Hickenlooper for the June 30th Democratic US Senate primary, proves he is gaining momentum. The Myers Research and Strategic Services firm (6/16-17; 500 CO likely Democratic primary voters), finds Mr. Hickenlooper leading Mr. Romanoff 51-39%, which is much closer than their previous 68-19% finding when polling first began of this primary in late October.

Mr. Hickenlooper is coming under fire after being found in violation of two state Ethics Commission findings and has received not only negative media coverage for the decision but has come under further significant attack from Romanoff and of late the National Republican Senatorial Committee over integrity issues. Though the underdog is gaining in the primary battle, it is still likely that Mr. Romanoff won't be able to overcome what is still a substantial Hickenlooper advantage.

Kentucky: The Kentucky primary votes continue to be counted and though the Secretary of State has told counties not to release numbers until June 30th, some results are dribbling into the public domain. Only 10,377 votes have been released in Jefferson County, Kentucky, but they are enough to vault state Rep. Charles Booker (D-Louisville) into the statewide lead over retired Marine Corps helicopter pilot Amy McGrath in their battle for the Democratic US Senate nomination. The new count shows Mr. Booker with a 43.5 - 40.0% edge, or a 2,587 vote spread. Still, over half-million votes wait to be counted so the race clearly remains undecided. It does appear from all indications, however, that the end result will be very close between the two candidates. On the Republican side, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has clearly been re-nominated with 87% of the counted vote.

North Carolina: Gravis Marketing surveyed the North Carolina electorate (6/17; 631 NC registered voters), and once again we see a very tight contest between Sen. Thom Tillis (R) and former state Sen. Cal Cunningham (D). The Gravis numbers give Sen. Tillis a one point, 46-45%, edge. Siena College/New York Times, in their polling series that includes North Carolina (6/8-18; 653 NC registered voters) sees a 42-39% Cunningham advantage. It is almost a certainty that this race will remain in toss-up mode all the way through November 3rd, which is typical for a North Carolina statewide campaign.

Texas: Fox News surveyed the Texas Senate race (6/20-24; 1,001 TX registered voters) and paired incumbent Sen. John Cornyn (R) with both of the Democratic runoff candidates, retired Army helicopter pilot M.J. Hegar and state Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas). Sen. Cornyn's standing against both potential opponents is virtually the same. He tops Ms. Hegar, 46-36%, and Sen. West, 47-37%. The postponed Texas Democratic runoff is scheduled for July 14th.

House

GA-7: In 2018, Georgia's 7th District was decided by just 419 votes. Now, in an open seat campaign, we see a poll suggesting that another close finish is likely to occur. According to a post-primary Public Policy Polling survey (6/19-20; 589 GA-7 registered voters), 2018 Democratic nominee Carolyn Bourdeaux (D) leads retired Navy officer and physician Rich McCormick (R), 42-39%, well within the polling margin of error.

Kentucky: Despite the low returns, all six Kentucky House members were clearly re-nominated even though returns are scant. On the Republican side, the five incumbents scored between 88 and 94% of the early tabulated and released votes while Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Louisville) was unopposed in the Democratic primary. All six incumbents now become heavy favorites in what will likely be non-competitive general election contests.

MN-1: In 2018, Republican Jim Hagedorn scored a close 50.1 - 49.7% win over former Defense Department official Dan Feehan (D). Now, we head into a re-match general election this year, and a new Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group internal campaign survey (6/9-13; 601 MN-1 likely general election voters) finds the new race beginning just as close as the former contest ended. According to a GHY, Mr. Feehan holds a slight 43-42% edge, meaning we will likely see another race in toss-up mode all the way to Election Day. Minnesota's 1st District covers all of the state's southern border and has been moving more toward the Republicans in recent elections. It was one of only three seats that flipped from Democrat to Republican in 2018.

NJ-5: There has been some talk that the Democratic primary challenge to Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff/Bergen County) could get close but a new TargetSmart poll (released 6/25; 400 NJ-5 likely Democratic primary voters) dispels such a notion. According to the Target data, Rep. Gottheimer would destroy Glen Rock town Councilwoman Arati Kreibich by a 66-23% count. Such a margin suggests that Mr. Gottheimer will easily win re-nomination to a third term. The postponed New Jersey primary is scheduled for July 7th.

New York: Despite counting being far from complete in Tuesday's New York primary as absentee ballots continue to be counted. It is clear, however, that state Sen. Chris Jacobs (R-Buffalo) won the 27th District special election and will be sworn into the current House of Representatives. He defeated former Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate McMurray, 69-29%, to take the seat and replace resigned Rep. Chris Collins (R). Mr. Jacobs then easily won the Republican primary for the regular term, defeating two GOP opponents.

Though many votes remain to be counted, 16-term Rep. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx) has lost his seat as former middle school principal Jamaal Bowman records a 61-34% lead among the counted vote, which gives him an insurmountable margin. Mr. Engel will join Reps. Dan Lipniski (D-IL), Steve King (R-IA), and Denver Riggleman (R-VA), who have already been denied re-nomination in the 2020 election cycle. In Manhattan, Rep. Carolyn Maloney has only a 648 vote lead in her primary contest against hotel executive Suraj Patel, meaning absentee ballots will decide the outcome here.

In the two Bronx area open seats, New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres has a wide lead in the multi-candidate battle to replace retiring Rep. Jose Serrano (D-Bronx), while attorney Mondaire Jones posts a 2:1 margin over his closest Democratic opponent in the Bronx/Westchester County district to replace retiring Rep. Nita Lowey (D-Harrison).

Freshman Representative and national political figure Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx) easily won her re-nomination battle with 70% of the vote.

North Carolina: Western North Carolina voters spoke loudly on Tuesday as real estate investment company owner Madison Cawthorn recorded a 66-34% landslide win over former local county Republican chair Lynda Bennett in the postponed Republican runoff election. This, despite Ms. Bennett having former Rep. Mark Meadows' and President Trump's endorsement. Mr. Cawthorn, who barely makes the qualifying age requirement to be a candidate, won 16 of the district's 17 counties. He now becomes a strong favorite to defeat Democratic nominee Moe Davis, a retired US Air Force colonel, in the general election.

PA-1: More attention is being paid to Pennsylvania's 1st Congressional District, which occupies much of the Bucks County area in suburban Philadelphia, since two-term Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Levittown) recorded only 63% of the vote against weak opposition in his Republican primary. Now, an internal House Majority PAC poll (6/7-14; 403 registered voters of which 60% were conducted via cell phone and said to be at least "50/50" about voting in November) finds the Congressman leading new Democratic nominee Christina Finello, by a scant 45-44% margin. When leaners are added, the two contenders are tied.

PA-10: Another survey was just released from a district that does not draw much national attention. Democratic pollster GBAO Strategies conducted their survey in late May but is just releasing the numbers now (5/28-31; 600 PA-10 likely general election voters). The results find Rep. Scott Perry (R-Dillsburg/Harrisburg) opening with a slight 50-47% lead over State Auditor Eugene DePasquale (D) in what is again expected to be a close race. In 2018, Rep. Perry was re-elected with a 51-49% margin after the state Supreme Court ordered a re-draw of the Pennsylvania congressional districts.

TX-13: A WPA Intelligence survey for the Club for Growth (6/17-18; 408 TX-13 likely Republican runoff voters) finds retired Admiral Ronny Jackson, who carries President Trump's endorsement, now taking the lead over former congressional aide and current lobbyist Josh Winegarner in the upcoming July 14th GOP runoff election. The WPA results find Mr. Jackson holding a 49-41% advantage. The poll appears accurate especially when seeing Winegarner immediately launch an attack ad against Jackson, suggesting that the former man's internal polling also shows him falling behind.

Virginia: Two key Virginia races now have nominees. In Virginia's 5th District, Democrats selected local physician Cameron Webb scored a landslide 66% victory to oppose former Campbell County Supervisor Bob Good (R), the man who denied freshman Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Manassas) re-nomination in the June 13th Republican district convention. Mr. Good, however, still must obtain a ballot placement waiver from the Virginia Board of Elections for missing the candidate filing deadline.

In the Tidewater area, a re-match of the 2018 campaign will occur. Former Rep. Scott Taylor, who lost his seat in that election, will return for a re-match with his Republican primary victory on Tuesday. He will battle freshman Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Norfolk) in the general election.

Governor

Utah: Last week, Dan Jones & Associates released a survey of the Utah Republican electorate (6/1-10; 555 UT likely Republican primary voters) that projected former Gov. Jon Huntsman taking a slight 35-33% lead over Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox. The two are the top contenders to succeed retiring Gov. Gary Herbert (R) in November.

According to an internal Y2 Analytics survey (released 6/18; respondent data not available), however, Mr. Cox maintains a 34-28% lead over Gov. Huntsman with former state House Speaker Greg Hughes reaching 20%, and ex-Utah Republican Party chairman Thomas Wright lagging behind with 9% preference. The Utah Policy Council/KUTV Channel 2 poll (6/9-17; 640 UT registered Republican voters) results closer to Y2 in that Lt. Gov. Cox tops ex-Gov. Huntsman, 34-30%, but shows former Mr. Hughes climbing into serious contention with 26%, while Mr. Wright increases his support to 10% preference. The Utah primary is this coming Tuesday, June 30th.