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Period Ending July 18, 2014

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

Senate

Colorado: Two conflicting polls were released this week, each showing a different leader. NBC/Marist College (released 7/14; 914 CO registered voters) gives Sen. Mark Udall (D) a 48-41% lead. But Gravis Marketing (7/8-10; 1,106 CO registered voters), conducting a survey during the same period, finds an exact opposite result. According to this study, Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO-4) scores a 47-43% advantage. Quinnipiac University (7/10-14; 1,147 CO registered voters) also produced Colorado Senate numbers, but a bit later. Their results are closer to Gravis’, finding Gardner up 44-42%. All polling has shown this race within the margin of error for months.

Georgia: With the July 22nd Republican Senatorial run-off fast approaching, a new Public Policy Polling survey (7/9-12; 516 GA Republican run-off voters) gives Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA-1) a 47-41% edge over businessman David Perdue. With the negative advertising intensifying as Election Day draws nearer, expect this campaign to end in close fashion.

Iowa: NBC/Marist also tested the Iowa electorate in their July polling (1,599 IA registered voters). The ballot test results project a flat tie between Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA-1) and state Sen. Joni Ernst (R). The two garner 43% apiece. The candidates also have similar approval ratings. Rep. Braley scores a 36:32% positive to negative approval ratio. Sen. Ernst posts a 38:33% score.

Louisiana: Citing poor support numbers, state Rep. Paul Hollis (R) has ended his US Senate campaign. Polling had consistently shown Hollis to be languishing in the single-digits, splitting Tea Party support with former Air Force officer Rob Maness (R). Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) is seeking a fourth term. US Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6) is the leading Republican contender.

Michigan: Two pollsters were in the field surveying the Wolverine State Senate race this past week, and both give Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-14) a relatively slight advantage over GOP nominee Terri Lynn Land, the former Secretary of State. NBC/Marist’s July poll (870 MI registered voters) gives Peters a 43-37% edge. The Lansing-based Vanguard Public Affairs firm (survey dates and respondent pool size not available) posts Peters to a smaller 40-37% advantage.

New Hampshire: Marist/NBC also polled the Granite State Senate race between incumbent Jeanne Shaheen (D) and former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown. According to the poll (released 7/14; 1,342 NH registered voters), Sen. Shaheen tops Mr. Brown 50-42%. Ms. Shaheen, however, enjoys a much better public image. According to this data, her favorability ratio is 52:39% positive to negative, while the former Bay State Senator scores only 40:39%.

Tennessee: A Triton Polling survey (7/10-11; 1,099 TN Republican primary voters) conducted for the Tea Party Nation gives state Rep. Joe Carr a fighting chance in his Republican primary challenge to Sen. Lamar Alexander. The data shows a 43-36% split in favor of the Senator, and it’s clear that this will be the key remaining GOP challenge. With Alexander taking the challenge seriously and working hard for renomination, Carr’s obstacles preventing him from achieving victory are even more substantial. Expect this campaign to receive growing national attention before the August 7th Tennessee primary.

House

AL-6: It looks like the Cygnal political and public affairs firm’s “flash poll” (7/7-8; 647 AL-6 likely run-off voters from a universe of 89,695 Republicans) that we reported about last week proved precise. The poll projected think tank director Gary Palmer to a commanding 60-29% lead over state Rep. Paul DeMarco, the first-place primary finisher. On July 15th, Palmer scored a 64-36% major win with a turnout of just under 75,000 voters. As the new GOP nominee, Mr. Palmer will succeed retiring Rep. Spencer Bachus (R) in the safely Republican district.

GA-11: With the Georgia Republican run-off fast approaching on July 22nd, a Magellan Strategies survey (7/7-8; 719 GA-11 likely Republican run-off voters) finds state Sen. Barry Loudermilk opening up a large lead over former US Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA-7). According to Magellan, Loudermilk now leads Barr by close to a 2:1 margin, 49-28%.

NC-6: Baptist Pastor Mark Walker, who was a surprise second-place finisher in the May 20th Sixth District Republican primary, completed his upset campaign with a 60-40% run-off election victory over early favorite Phil Berger Jr., the Rockingham County District Attorney. Berger’s father, Phil Berger Sr., is the NC state Senate President Pro Tempore. Walker accused the latter, and filed a formal complaint against him, of illegally coordinating with his son’s campaign because he raised outside money for a Super PAC organized to support Berger Jr.’s political effort. Walker, backed with conservative support and a strong grassroots network, is heavily favored in the general election against former University of North Carolina administrator Laura Fjeld (D). Rep. Howard Coble (R) is retiring after 15 terms.

MI-4: A new Republican primary EPIC-MRA poll for the Detroit news and WXYZ-TV (7/12-13) gives former Michigan Republican Party finance chairman Paul Mitchell a rather large lead over state Sen. John Moolenaar, who has gained most of the Republican establishment’s support, including that of retiring Rep. Dave Camp (R-Midland). According to the first ballot test, Mitchell leads 36-23%. When undecideds are pushed for a response, the Mitchell advantage swells to 50-27%. Mitchell has been advertising heavily supported by a $1.9 million self-contribution. Moolenaar will be responding in the final weeks of the campaign. The primary is scheduled for August 5th.

MI-11: Another survey, this too from EPIC-MRA, stakes Republican primary challenger David Trott to a significant lead over freshman Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Milford). Prior to the addition of pushed undecideds, Trott opens up a major 43-24% edge. On the aggregate ballot test, Trott’s advantage soars to 53-31%. It appears likely that Mr. Bentivolio will become the third House member to be denied re-nomination during this election cycle.

MI-14: EPIC-MRA concluded their series of polls with a snapshot of the Democratic primary in open District 14 (Rep. Gary Peters (D) running for Senate). This survey, however, is skewed because the majority African American population in the district is sampled at only 34%. Additionally, women comprise 59% of the respondent pool, but are less than 53% of the actual district population. This being said, former Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-MI-13) posts a 32-23-18% lead over Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence and state Rep. Rudy Hobbs. When Undecideds are pushed for a response, the split breaks 39-28-20% with no change in the candidate order. Because the poll is so significantly skewed, the results must be considered unreliable.

Governor

Arizona: A new Gravis Marketing survey released July 14th of 691 likely Arizona Republican primary voters confirms what other data has previously reported. According to the Gravis ballot test, state Treasurer Doug Ducey continues to respectively lead attorney Christine Jones and former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith. The margin is 28-19-14%. Several other candidates, including Secretary of State Ken Bennett, record a support level only in the single-digits.

Colorado: As predicted after the primary, the Centennial State’s Governor’s race would become a toss-up campaign affair. Now, several polls suggest this is already happening. Rasmussen Reports (6/25-26; 750 CO likely voters) projects Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) and ex-Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-CO-7) to be locked in a 44-44% tie. Quinnipiac University (7/10-14; 1,147 CO registered voters) arrives at a similar conclusion: Beauprez 44%; Hickenlooper 43%. But Gravis Marketing, through the very polling instrument that projects Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO-4) to be taking a lead over Sen. Mark Udall (D) [see Colorado Senate above], gives Hickenlooper a rather substantial 49-43% advantage.

Iowa: While testing the Iowa Senate race in their July polling (1,599 IA registered voters), NBC/Marist also asked about the Governor’s race. In seeking a sixth non-consecutive term, Gov. Terry Branstad (R) continues to lead Democratic state Sen. Jack Hatch 53-38%. The Governor’s job approval ratio is 59:32% favorable to unfavorable.

Michigan: As reported in our Senate section, NBC/Marist and the Vanguard Public Affairs Group also tested the state’s Governor’s race. As with the Senate contest, NBC/Marist forecasts the Democrats to be in better position than does Vanguard. NBC/Marist finds a very close contest between Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and former Rep. Mark Schauer (D-MI-7). Here, the Governor leads only 46-44%. But, Vanguard gives Mr. Snyder a much wider lead, posting him to a 43-35% advantage. In any event, the combined data suggests the contest can become highly competitive and that Snyder’s re-election is not a foregone conclusion.