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Period Ending August 12, 2016

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

President

Again we witnessed another controversial week in the presidential campaign. Donald Trump is once more plagued by rally statements – this time involving the 2nd Amendment and him saying such supporters should organize a political movement around the Supreme Court appointments…which became portrayed as the candidate supporting the spread of gun violence. Additional compromising emails came from Hillary Clinton’s State Department leadership released through the Judicial Watch organization. The messages underscored the individual relationships with outside and foreign donors commonly involving the Clinton Family Foundation.

Five new national surveys still find Ms. Clinton leading the popular vote polling, but her advantage is decreasing from last week. Then, her average lead was just under nine points. This week, with five new surveys coming from Princeton Survey Research Associates International, Bloomberg/Selzer, UPI/C-Voter, Ipsos/Reuters, and Rasmussen Reports, the average spread is 4.6 points. The UPI survey projected a two-point margin, and Rasmussen three, but the other three all found a six-point spread.

Quinnipiac University conducted swing state polls in the three critical states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. In the first two places, Ms. Clinton’s advantage over Mr. Trump has virtually dissipated. With minor party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein added to the ballot test questionnaire, Trump ties Clinton at 43% apiece in Florida, and pulls to within two points before the Ohio electorate, 44-42%. Only in Pennsylvania is Clinton expanding her lead. Again, including Johnson and Stein who both fall below the double-digit mark, the former Secretary of State has a 48-39% advantage.

Senate

Florida: Quinnipiac University (7/29-8/7; 1,056 FL registered voters) released their Florida battleground survey, and the results showed Sen. Marco Rubio (R) leading Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18) by a 48-45% clip. Though this race is clearly tight, Rubio is rebounding from his failed presidential effort and looks to be solidifying his formidable Florida political base.

Georgia: Reversing published data last week that posted Democrat Jim Barksdale to a 46-41% lead over GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson (Landmark/Rosetta Stone (8/1; 787 GA likely voters)), JMC Analytics (8/6-7; 615 GA “likely households”) finds Isakson now holding a 39-30% advantage. As often happens in the South, Republicans tend to under-poll. Therefore, it is conceivable that Sen. Isakson is in even better shape than this nine-point margin suggests.

Illinois: Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8) released a Senate poll from the Normington Petts Democratic polling firm (8/1-4; 800 IL likely general election voters) that posts her to a 44-37% advantage over Sen. Mark Kirk (R). The same sampling group gave Hillary Clinton a 51-32% advantage over Donald Trump before the Illinois electorate. The latest Senate result represents a net increase of five points in Duckworth’s favor when compared to the firm’s July poll.

Missouri: Remington Research, polling for the Missouri Scout political blog (8/5-6; 1,280 MO registered voters), finds Sen. Roy Blunt (R) leading Secretary of State Jason Kander (D) by a 47-40% clip. This data is consistent with other numbers previously reported. The same polling sample finds Donald Trump leading Hillary Clinton, 44-42% with Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson attracting 5 percent.

Nevada: CBS/YouGov (8/2-5; 993 NV likely general election voters) tested the important Nevada electorate and found Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV-3) again slightly leading former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D), 38-35%. These findings are consistent with virtually every Nevada Senate poll previously conducted. They find Rep. Heck holding a lead either just inside or beyond the polling margin of error.

Ohio: The Quinnipiac University swing state series also included the Buckeye State (7/29-8/7; 812 OH registered voters). The data produced good news for Sen. Rob Portman (R), as the numbers confirm he is beginning to pull away from ex-Gov. Ted Strickland (D). The latest result finds the Senator expanding his ballot test advantage to 49-40%.

Pennsylvania: Last week we reported upon the Franklin & Marshall College poll (7/29-8/1; 389 PA likely voters) that placed challenger Katie McGinty (D) one-point ahead of Sen. Pat Toomey (R). Three more surveys were released this week also depicting a very close contest. Public Policy Polling (7/29-31; 1,505 PA likely voters) finds Toomey up 42-41%. The latest new poll, from Susquehanna Polling & Research (7/31-8/4; 772 PA likely general election voters), like Franklin & Marshall, sees McGinty opening up a small lead within a similar polling range, 42-40%. The Quinnipiac data (7/29-8/7; 815 PA registered voters) gives the Democratic challenger a 47-44% advantage.

House

MN-2: Radio talk show host Jason Lewis (R) confirmed the previous state Republican convention endorsement with a strong primary victory this past Tuesday. He scored a convincing 49-31-14-7% win over manufacturing executive Darlene Miller, former state Sen. John Howe – easily the biggest spender in the race – and minor candidate Matthew Erickson. Mr. Lewis now faces Democratic nominee Angie Craig who has already put close to $3 million in the bank, including a personal loan approaching $1 million. Craig is in strong position to convert this Republican seat to the Democratic column. Seven-term Rep. John Kline (R-Burnsville) is retiring.

WA-7: King County Councilman Joe McDermott (D) conceded second position in the jungle primary to state Rep. Barry Walkinshaw (D). The two were vying for the right to advance to the general election and face first place finisher, state Sen. Pramila Jayapal (D). Washington’s all-mail voting system allows people to postmark their ballots on Election Day, meaning that it often takes better than a week to count all votes. In a close race like this one, the post-Election Day counting period had been ongoing since August 2nd. It appears that the final percentages are going to reveal Jayapal with 41% of the vote and Walkinshaw clinching second position at 21.2% as compared to McDermott’s 19.3%. Incumbent Rep. Jim McDermott’s (D-Seattle) is retiring after 14 terms. Jayapal and Walkinshaw advancing to the general election means the Democrats will successfully hold the downtown Seattle district.

WI-1: As expected, US House Speaker Paul Ryan (R) romped to an overwhelming primary victory, defeating challenger Paul Nehlen (R), 84-16%. This, despite Nehlen’s campaign fundraising and spending reaching the $1 million range. Ryan ran a positive campaign that never mentioned, nor acknowledged his opponent even though Nehlen was organizing protests in front of Ryan’s Janesville, WI home. The Speaker now has little in the way of opposition in the general election.

WI-8: The favorite to succeed retiring Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Sherwood/Green Bay), foreign policy analyst and former congressional aide Mike Gallagher, easily won the open Republican primary defeating state Sen. Frank Lasee (R) and minor candidate Terry McNulty (R), 74-20-6%. Mr. Gallagher now faces Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson (D) in the general election. Gallagher begins the race as the favorite, but Nelson is a formidable candidate.

Governor

Missouri: The aforementioned Remington Research/Missouri Scout poll released the first post-primary poll of the Show Me State’s gubernatorial contest. The numbers portend a tight 45-43% lead for Attorney General Chris Koster (D) over retired Navy SEAL Eric Greitens (R). Considering the polling margin of error, this race begins as a virtual dead heat. Gov. Jay Nixon (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Vermont: Former state Transportation Secretary Sue Minter (D) and Lt. Gov. Phil Scott (R) both easily won their respective party’s gubernatorial nomination earlier in the week. Minter scored 51% against four Democratic opponents, while Sen. Scott defeated a retired Wall Street executive, 61-39%. The general election could become surprisingly competitive in this heavily Democratic state. Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) is retiring.

West Virginia: Billionaire Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Justice released the results of his internal Global Strategy Group survey (8/1-3; 419 WV likely general election voters) early this week. The GSG numbers find Justice leading state Sen. President Bill Cole (R), 47-37% in the open race for Governor. Mr. Justice is said to be the state’s richest resident. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.