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Period Ending July 8, 2016

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

President

The week’s big news is the FBI recommending no charges against Hillary Clinton and her staff involving their role with the private email server. Much controversy has surrounded the former Secretary of State’s data security practices, and it is clear that we will hear more about the situation as the general election progresses. Donald Trump immediately called foul, saying the process is “rigged.” Whether Clinton’s security practices and the investigation aftermath develop any political legs remains to be seen.

Polls were fewer in this holiday week, but half a dozen were still conducted from six different survey research firms. The sampling ending date range stretched from June 29 through July 6. The ballot tests fell between +11 for Clinton (Ipsos/Reuters; 7/2-6; 1,345 US registered voters) all the way to +2 for Trump (Rasmussen Reports; 7/5; 1,000 US registered voters). The rolling average for the six studies was +4 in Clinton’s favor. The polls trended more toward Clinton in the latter stages of the polling period.

Next week’s data results will begin to tell us whether she will suffer any degree of polling leakage as a result of the email investigation result.

Senate

Democracy Corps: Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research conducted a series of seven polls in key Senate states for the Democracy Corps liberal issues group and the Women’s Voices, Women Vote organization. The results were interesting in the fact that they often went against the previous polling average in several states, yet the data did not demonstrate a particular partisan skew. The sampling group consisted of 300 registered voters from each of the tested states during the June 11-20 period, but was released this week. Therefore, a large state like Pennsylvania, with a population of just under 13 million, and a small state such as New Hampshire, with only little over 1 million inhabitants, feature the same size sampling group. This would suggest that the polling error factor is higher in the larger states.

Arizona: The Greenberg Quinlan Rosner data gives Sen. John McCain (R) a 44-42% advantage over Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-1). This is in line with recent polling, though the results average, according to the Daily Kos Elections Page, is McCain +5. The GQR finding gives Donald Trump a six point advantage over Hillary Clinton.

Nevada: GQR also surveyed the important open seat Senate campaign between Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV-3) and former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D). Though there have not been enough polls taken of the Nevada electorate to develop a state average, the GQR poll actually delivers good news for the Republicans. It finds Heck holding a five point lead, 46-41%, while Clinton and Trump fall into a tie.

New Hampshire: The GQR data also finds Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) and Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) languishing in a dead heat, as virtually all polls have recorded. Here, the Democracy Corps report portends a one point edge for Gov. Hassan, but the polling average results in a two point advantage for Sen. Ayotte. Either way, all data reveals a race performing in the toss-up category, which will probably be the case until the very end. The presidential polling average yields a five point margin in Ms. Clinton’s favor, but the latest surveys find Trump improving. The GQR survey finds the two national candidates tied, which is likely more indicative of the current Granite State status.

North Carolina: The GQR Democracy Corps Tar Heel State poll produces a different result than any other previous NC survey. Here, the data suggests that challenger Deborah Ross (D), a former state Representative, has pulled into a small 38-36% lead over Sen. Richard Burr (R). The aggregate average still provides Sen. Burr with a +4 point edge, however. The GQR presidential spread gives Ms. Clinton a 10-point North Carolina lead, far beyond what other pollsters are determining, since the aggregate surveys find the presidential candidates in a statistical dead heat. It is reasonable to believe that a Democratic skew is present in this particular polling sample.

Ohio: The GQR Buckeye State poll finds former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) leading Sen. Rob Portman (R), but that is not particularly unusual. Though most surveys give Portman a slight advantage, others during the past few months have found results that put Strickland ahead even though Portman fares better in the personal and job approval categories. Here, the Democracy Corps finds Strickland up 43-40%. The average, however, gives Sen. Portman a four point spread. The GQR presidential numbers in this all-important state produce a tie between Clinton and Trump, while the recent aggregate average suggests the presumptive Democratic nominee is holding a four-point edge.

Pennsylvania: The Keystone State is an example where the Democracy Corps survey produced much better numbers for the Republican candidate than the aggregate average. GQR finds Sen. Pat Toomey (R) leading Democrat Katie McGinty 46-38%, while the aggregate average finds Toomey’s margin to be four percentage points. This state could well play a critical role in determining the Presidency. Democracy Corps finds Hillary Clinton leading by nine points, an unusual result when compared with Toomey’s strong performance from the same polling sample. The aggregate PA presidential average hovers around the five-point margin in Clinton’s favor.

Wisconsin: For months, the average polling data has suggested a strong lead for the Democratic challenger, former Sen. Russ Feingold. The GQR data again finds a better Republican performance, with Sen. Ron Johnson pulling into only a 46-45% deficit situation. The aggregate average suggests a much different 11-point Feingold advantage. Like in Pennsylvania, the Democracy Corps data produces better Republican numbers in the Senate race, yet the same polling sample posts an even larger-than-average spread for Ms. Clinton over Mr. Trump, 12 points versus the average of nine.

House

CA-24: The California Secretary of State has now certified that businessman and former UCLA football player Justin Fareed (R) has qualified for the general election. He edged state Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian (R), and now faces Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal (D), the first-place qualifier. Though Carbajal is a clear favorite in the general election, this race could turn competitive as the hard-working Fareed continues to demonstrate that he is a viable congressional candidate.

CA-32: Finally, and long after the June 7 primary, the California Secretary of State has confirmed that state Assemblyman Roger Hernandez (D) has clinched second place, edging out Republican Gordon Fisher by 792 votes. Mr. Hernandez will now challenge veteran Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Norwalk) in a double Democratic general election. Though Hernandez received good political news, a judge enacted a protection order against him for his ex-wife. Rep. Napolitano remains the heavy favorite in her Democratic Los Angeles County district, but this contest will be more competitive than had Republican Fisher advanced to the general election. Despite being challenged by two opponents, Rep. Napolitano still managed to secure a majority in the jungle primary of 51.4%.

FL-4: The Republican battle to replace retiring Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-Jacksonville) has produced its first poll prior to the August 30 primary. The University of North Florida conducted the congressional GOP primary survey (6/28-29; 403 likely FL Republican primary voters) and finds former Duval County Sheriff John Rutherford leading local official Hans Tanzler III and state Rep. Lake Ray, 27-13-9%. The Republican winner becomes the prohibitive favorite for the general election in this safest of Florida Republican districts.

FL-5: Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Jacksonville) was indicted on federal charges involving improper use of an unregistered Virginia charity. The indictment was not released, so the actual charges are not yet known. Rep. Brown has been redistricted into a seat that now stretches from Jacksonville to Tallahassee instead of her familiar district that traveled from Jacksonville to Orlando. Obviously, the indictment will hurt her ability to win the August 30 Democratic primary. Rep. Brown was already in a competitive contest, in largely unfamiliar territory, against veteran former state legislator and ex-congressional candidate, Al Lawson.

MI-8: The Michigan Democratic Party has replaced former Screen Actors Guild president Melissa Gilbert (D), who withdrew from challenging freshman Rep. Mike Bishop (R-Rochester/ Lansing). The new Democratic candidate will be local attorney Suzanna Shkreli. Rep. Bishop is now even a heavier favorite to win his first congressional re-election.

WA-8: Former Seattle sportscaster Tony Ventrella (D) withdrew from the Democratic congressional primary for the right to challenge six-term Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Auburn), this week. His action leaves real estate broker Santiago Ramos and management consultant Alida Skold as the only Democrats in the primary field. Mr. Ventrella was viewed as the strongest potential Dem candidate, but Rep. Reichert was always cast as a strong re-election favorite. Now, the incumbent’s electoral prospects are even brighter.

Governor

Indiana: Gov. Mike Pence (R) is apparently on the short list to become Donald Trump’s Vice Presidential nominee. If he is the choice, then we can expect the announcement before July 15th, and not when the Republican National Convention begins. Under Indiana election law, Republicans would have to finalize their ballot on or before 7/15, meaning if Pence is to withdraw from the Governor’s race he would have to do so before that date to give the Republican Party an opportunity to replace him as the party nominee.

Oregon: The Oregon iCitizen organization released the results of their online gubernatorial survey (6/23-27; 555 OR registered voters respondents). The data gives interim Gov. Kate Brown (D) a surprisingly small 42-35% advantage over the Republican nominee, former Oregon Medical Association president Bud Pierce.