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Period Ending July 22, 2016

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

President

Donald Trump was officially nominated as the Republican presidential candidate with the national convention drawing to a close in Cleveland. Though the convention featured obstacles for Trump, such as the Never Trump motions to free the delegates, the Melania Trump plagiarism flap, and Ted Cruz failing to publicly endorse, Trump continues to poll within shouting distance of Hillary Clinton.

Now, the convention spotlight turns to the Democrats, but before the national meeting convenes in Philadelphia on Monday we are expected to hear Ms. Clinton make public her choice for Vice President at a Florida rally later today or Saturday.

Since she has known for a week that Gov. Mike Pence is the Republican choice, the still unofficial Democratic nominee will now have the opportunity of balancing her ticket in that context. Since Trump moved to shore up his conservative base with the selection of Pence, Clinton may feel she can move closer to the center. If she believes that her left flank is secure, then don’t expect to see Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) or Sherrod Brown (D-OH) as the choice. If she believes her base within the minority community is sound, then it’s likely that Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and HUD Secretary Julian Castro will also not be selected.

This means we will likely see someone such as Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) chosen. Clinton let it leak that she is looking for someone with national security experience, something Agriculture Secretary and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack does not possess. Certainly retired Admiral James Stavridis has national security expertise, but he brings nothing to the ticket, politically. Therefore, it is Sen. Kaine who may check the most boxes on her political form and can be considered a “safe pick.”

Four new polls were released during the week, and all again show a close presidential race ballot test within the polling margin of error. Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for the Democracy Corps liberal advocacy group (7/13-18; 900 registered voters) finds Ms. Clinton holding a 43-40% national lead. Ipsos-Reuters (7/16-20; 1,232 RVs) produced a similar 40-36% spread. The American Research Group (7/17-20; 990 RVs) posted an even closer 43-42% margin. Rasmussen Reports, however, again finds Donald Trump with a small advantage. According to their data (7/18-19; 1,000 RVs), the new Republican nominee finds himself with a slight one-point, 43-42%, edge.

Senate

California: President Obama has never been shy about involving himself in Democratic Party contests. This week, he and Vice President Joe Biden jointly endorsed Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) in her general election contest against Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-46). This is the first time two Democrats have advanced to a statewide general election since California voters changed the election law in 2010. Ms. Sanchez lambasted the President in her released statement that contained the following quotes: “I would think the Leader of the Democratic Party would be focused on defeating Donald Trump and supporting Democratic Senate candidates against Republicans. California’s Senate seat does not belong to the political establishment – it belongs to the People of California, and I believe California voters will make their own independent choice for U.S. Senate in November.”

Indiana: Just a week after former Sen. Evan Bayh (D) entered the open US Senate race after ex-Rep. Baron Hill (D-Bloomington) withdrew from the contest, a new Garin Hart Yang Research poll for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) (7/12-14; 602 IN likely voters) finds Mr. Bayh holding a whopping 54-33% over GOP nominee Todd Young (R-IN-9). When queried only of people who are familiar with both candidates, the margin closes, but to a still healthy 55-39%. If the Democrats can convert Indiana back to their column, it will be a major asset in their quest to obtain the Senate majority.

Iowa: Yet another poll was conducted in the budding Iowa Senate race, this time a battleground states survey from CBS News/YouGov (7/13-15; 998 IA RVs). The reported results are familiar, and consistent with other polling. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) posts a 45-37% advantage over ex-Lt. Gov. Patty Judge (D).

New Hampshire: The University of New Hampshire, partnering with WMUR-TV in Manchester, released the results of their latest Granite State Poll. In the past, the UNH data has been among the least reliable. But, their latest numbers (7/9-18; 469 likely voters from a pool of 532 NH adults) are consistent with the plethora of Senate polls that have been conducted over the past year. Most find Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) holding a small lead over Gov. Maggie Hassan (D). This poll finds the opposite, however, a 45-42% split in favor of the Democrat. The polling results always find both candidates in the mid to low 40s, so this data doesn’t detect any significant change.

Ohio: CBS/YouGov also polled Ohio as part of their battleground project (7/13-15; 1,104 OH RVs) and find, like virtually every other pollster has, the two candidates virtually tied. This ballot test projects Sen. Rob Portman (R) clinging to a 41-40% edge over former Gov. Ted Strickland (D).

House

AZ-5: The open 5th District (Rep. Matt Salmon-R, retiring) primary will be settled on August 30, and a new survey was released into the public domain this week. OH Predictive Insights conducted an independent poll of the upcoming Republican primary race, and finds former GoDaddy executive Christine Jones (R), who has been advertising heavily in the recent days, now taking the lead in the crowded GOP field. According to the results, Ms. Jones claims a 26-19-15% margin over state Senate President Andy Biggs and former Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley among likely Republican primary voters. Before the Jones advertising blitz, Biggs held a 21-10-7% margin over Stapley and Jones according to an OH Predictive Insights poll conducted last month. The GOP nominee will hold this open seat.

CA-24: The Santa Barbara-San Luis Obispo open seat promises to be one of the more competitive Golden State congressional contests. Diverse polls have been released in the past few days. First, Republican Justin Fareed released his internal Tarrance Group poll (7/10-12; 350 CA-24 registered voters with an oversample of 50 Declined to State (independent) voters) and the findings post the upstart GOP candidate to actually be leading Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal (D) by two percentage points, 46-44%. But the Feldman Group (7/11-13; 400 CA-24 registered voters), polling for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), finds Carbajal ahead 49-39% and Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump 47-32%.

FL-13: Polling has been erratic since Rep. David Jolly (R-Pinellas County) exited the Senate race and will attempt to win re-election in the re-drawn 13th CD. The court imposed plan made this district heavily Democratic with the addition of St. Petersburg city. Back in early June, McLaughlin & Associates (6/1-2; 400 FL-13 registered voters) found Rep. Jolly leading former Gov. Charlie Crist (D), 50-38%. Public Policy Polling (6/6-7; 1,030 registered voters via automated device) saw a much different result just days later. Their split was 46-43% in favor of Crist. On June 9, St. Pete Polls (746 FL-13 RVs, through automated device) determined the race to be a dead heat, both candidates registering 46% support. Now, Crist releases his internal Anzalone Liszt Grove Research (7/12-17; 501 FL-13 likely voters) that shows the race coming full circle. This poll now finds Crist with the original 50-38% advantage that McLaughlin projected for Jolly.

GA-3: Next Tuesday, the open seat Republican run-off between state Sen. Mike Crane and West Point Mayor Drew Ferguson will be decided in a run-off election, the only such Georgia contest emanating from the May 24 primary. The pair advanced to the run-off contest with only 93 votes separating them from the original election. The run-off has been a nasty affair, featuring charges and counter-charges. The winner is a lock to defeat Democratic nominee Angela Pendley in the fall. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Grantville) is retiring.

IN-4 & 5: Reps. Todd Rokita (R-IN-4) and Susan Brooks (R-IN-5) became official gubernatorial prospects, withdrawing from their current re-election campaigns. The Indiana Republican Party’s State Committee will choose a candidate for Governor on July 26. Once that choice is made, the respective congressional district committees will subsequently choose a replacement for Rokita and Brooks. If either or both are not installed as the gubernatorial nominee, the congressional committees could reinstate the incumbents in the respective congressional race.

Governor

Indiana: Now that Gov. Mike Pence (R) is the official Republican Vice Presidential nominee, the Indiana Republican State Committee will take action on July 26 to fill his vacant position as the state’s GOP gubernatorial nominee. Three candidates are vying for the nomination: appointed Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb and Reps. Brooks and Rokita, as previously mentioned. The State Committee is comprised of 22 members including the state leadership and the chairman and vice chairman from all nine of Indiana’s congressional districts. Former state House Speaker and 2012 Democratic gubernatorial nominee John Gregg returned for a re-match with Pence, but now he will face a different opponent. Pence won the 2012 race with a tight 49-46% margin.