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Period Ending August 21, 2020

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

President

Minnesota Polling: We are now seeing curious polling data coming from Minnesota, but with a consistent trend. In late July, former Vice President Joe Biden was enjoying huge polling leads over President Trump. One survey, from Public Policy Polling (7/22-23; 1,218 MN voters) posted Mr. Biden to a ten-point, 52-42%, advantage. Now, however, the Minnesota race is brandishing much different numbers.

Just before the state's August 11th primary election, Emerson College conducted a statewide survey (8/8-10; 733 MN likely general election voters) and found Mr. Biden's lead dropping to only two points, 51-49%, in a poll where respondents were pushed to make a choice between the pair of candidates. Now, the Trafalgar Group, the only pollster to correctly predict Wisconsin and Pennsylvania at the end of the 2016 election, finds the two candidates locked in a dead heat. Their most recent survey (8/15-18; 1,141 MN likely voters) sees the two men battling into a 47-47% tie. Since Hillary Clinton only won here in 2016 with a 1.5 percent margin, Minnesota is a state to watch as the presidential campaign hits its full stride.

Senate

Alaska: As expected, Anchorage surgeon Al Gross easily won this week's Alaska Democratic primary with 75% of the vote and advances into the general election to challenge Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) in November.

Arizona: In another sign that the Arizona Senate race is beginning to close, the Republican polling firm OnMessage (8/2-4; 400 AZ likely voters) projects appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R) pulling into a tie with retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D), as both recorded 48% preference in their latest study. This is the first poll since late June that did not yield an advantage for Mr. Kelly.

Georgia: Democratic pollster Garin Hart Young Research released a Georgia US Senate survey (8/10-13; 601 GA likely voters) and found Democratic nominee Jon Ossoff holding a 48-46% edge over first-term Sen. David Perdue (R). Around the same time, another Democratic polling firm, Public Policy Polling (8/13-14; 530 GA voters) tested the Georgia electorate and found the candidates tied at 44% apiece. Just before that, media pollster Survey USA (8/6-8; 623 GA likely voters) went into the field and projected Sen. Perdue to be holding a three-point lead, 44-41%. It is evident from these different polls all conducted loosely within the same time frame, that the Georgia regular election Senate campaign is trending toward the toss-up realm.

North Carolina: Democratic US Senate nominee Cal Cunningham, a former state Senator, has been consistently leading in recent polling against first-term Sen. Thom Tillis (R), and the new East Carolina University poll (8/12-13; 1,255 NC registered voters; 879 through Interactive Voice Response systems, and 376 from an online panel) continues the trend. The ECU numbers find Mr. Cunningham holding a 44-40% lead over Sen. Tillis, while the same sample finds President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden tied with 47% apiece in a state where winning is critically important the former man's national prospects.

Texas: The international pollster YouGov tested the Lone Star State electorate (8/4-13; 846 TX registered voters) and finds both Sen. John Cornyn (R) and President Trump leading their respective Democratic opponents, retired Army helicopter pilot M.J. Hegar and former Vice President Joe Biden, by seven percentage points. Sen. Cornyn has a 44-37% advantage, while President Trump is up 48-41%.

Wyoming: The Wyoming August 18th primary also provided no surprises as former US Rep. Cynthia Lummis, armed with President Trump's support, scored a 60% win for the open Republican US Senate nomination over nine opponents and advances into the general election where she becomes an overwhelming favorite to win in November.

House

AK-AL: In the Last Frontier's lone House district, at-large Rep. Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon) will again face education reform activist Alyse Galvin (I/D). In 2018, the two battled to a 53-46% Young victory margin. Both were re-nominated in Tuesday night's primary with vote totals exceeding 77 percent.

AZ-6: Being found in ethics violation over his previous campaign finance practices and using government funds to aide his re-election committee, Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills/ Scottsdale) now finds himself trailing new Democratic nominee Hiral Tipirneni, a physician who has previously run in the adjoining 8th District. A just-released Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research survey (8/6-12; 548 AZ-6 likely voters) finds Dr. Tipirneni leading the five-term Congressman by a 48-45% count. We can expect this to be a top tier national congressional race.

Florida: Freshman Rep. Ross Spano (R-Lakeland) this week lost his re-nomination battle to Republican Scott Franklin, a Lakeland City Commissioner and retired Navy pilot. The unofficial vote totals give Mr. Franklin a 51-49% victory margin. Rep. Spano is under investigation for accepting improper loans during his 2018 campaign. He becomes the eighth sitting House member to be denied re-nomination in this election cycle. Mr. Franklin advances into the general election as the favorite to defeat new Democratic nominee Alan Cohn, a former television news anchorman. The latter man topped state Rep. Adam Hattersley (D-Riverview) despite being outspent.

Former congressional aide Kat Cammack scored an upset win in the Republican primary and will replace retiring Reps. Ted Yoho (R-Gainesville), while state Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Naples) looks to have won a close Republican primary and, assuming his 700+ vote holds through the final counting process, will succeed retiring two-term Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Naples). Both seats are safely Republican. The rest of the Florida primary resulted in wins for all of the favored House candidates.

IN-5: Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Carmel) is retiring this year, and the polling for this now open Indianapolis suburban district is swinging like a yoyo. In late June, the GBAO research group released a surprising survey that gave Democratic nominee Christina Hale, a former state Representative and the 2018 Lt. Governor nominee, a six-point, 51-45%, lead over state Sen. Victoria Spartz (R-Noblesville) in a traditionally Republican district.

Now, we see very different surveys entering the public domain. WPA Intelligence released their poll (8/4-6; 400 IN-5 likely voters) that reported a more traditional spread in this district when considering the electorate's Republican voting history. The WPA result gave Sen. Spartz a 47-40% advantage. On its heels, however, Tulchin Research released their survey taken during a similar period (8/5-10; 400 IN-5 likely voters) that produced the exact opposite result: Hale leading 50-45%. Obviously, this open seat race will draw considerable attention in the closing weeks.

MA-1: A new Beacon Research survey (8/15-16; 391 MA-1 Democratic primary voters) finds House Ways & Means Committee chairman Richard Neal (D-Springfield) in a narrowing Democratic primary race with Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse. The poll is interesting in that it tests those who have already voted along with respondents not yet casting their ballot for the September 1st primary. According to the Beacon data, Rep. Neal holds a combined score of just 46-41% over Mr. Morse including those who have already voted and the others who plan to participate. Among those reporting having cast their ballot, Mr. Morse holds a whopping advantage, 66-34%. Of those not yet voting and stating their preference, Rep. Neal is up 47-38%.

MO-2: In 2018, Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Ballwin/St. Louis County) escaped with a 51-47% victory and looks to be in another tough battle in what was once a safe Republican suburban St. Louis congressional seat. For the second consecutive election cycle, it again appears highly competitive. A just released Public Policy Polling survey (8/13-14; 925 MO-2 voters) sees state Sen. Jill Schupp (D-Ladue) moving ahead of Rep. Wagner with a 45-42% as President Trump also falls behind former Vice President Joe Biden, 48-46%, in a district that he carried 53-42% in 2016.

MT-AL: In a new WPA Intelligence survey (8/9-11; 500 MT likely voters), Montana State Auditor Matt Rosendale (R) has established a six-point lead in the at-large congressional contest against former state Rep. Kathleen Williams (D), who was also the 2018 Democratic congressional nominee. The ballot test reveals Mr. Rosendale to be holding a 51-45% margin. This is the best poll the Republican has seen since soon after the state's June 2nd primary.

NJ-2: After two polls were released last week that gave challenger Amy Kennedy (D) a slight lead over party-switching Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis Township/Atlantic City), a new RMG Research survey (7/30-8/5; 500 NJ-2 registered voters) gives the Congressman an equally slight 42-39% advantage. This is another New Jersey race that will feature a close finish. The Garden State is a key indicator as to which party will assume House majority control in the next Congress.

TX-3: In mid-July, Democrats released a Global Strategy Group survey (7/17-20; 400 TX-3 likely voters) that found north Texas US Rep. Van Taylor (R-Plano) leading his Democratic general election opponent, Lulu Seikaly (D), by just six percentage points, 43-37. Now, a new Public Opinion Strategies poll (8/1-4; 500 TX-3 likely voters) for the Taylor campaign was released showing the freshman Congressman's lead expanding to 13 points, 48-35%. Rep. Taylor, at the June 30th campaign finance disclosure deadline, also owned a strong $1.93 million to $409,000 fundraising advantage.

VA-5: The Global Strategy Group just returned a poll (7/30-8/4; 500 VA-5 likely voters) that places Democratic nominee Cameron Webb, a Charlottesville physician, within striking distance of convention-nominated Republican Bob Good. You will remember that Mr. Good denied freshman Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Manassas) re-nomination in the district's "drive through" Republican convention back in mid-June. According to GSG, Mr. Good's lead in what should be a reliable Republican district is only 44-42%, suggesting this is another seat likely in play for November.

WA-3: Five-term Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Battle Ground/Vancouver) defeated college professor Carolyn Long (D) by a 53-47% margin in a 2018 race that featured a combined $6.8 million being spent not including outside organization independent expenditures. A newly released RMG Research poll (7/29-8/4; 500 WA-3 registered voters) tested this year's re-match, which appears to be the contest's first published poll. RMG finds Rep. Beutler to be holding a four-point lead, 44-40%, over Ms. Long.

Governor

Missouri: At the end of June, we saw a YouGov poll (6/23-7/1; 900 MO likely voters) forecasting that Gov. Mike Parson's (R) lead over State Auditor Nicole Galloway (D) was dropping to just two percentage points. Other polling to that point found Mr. Parson holding a high single-digit advantage. Now, a new survey suggests a return to the previous margin. The Remington Research Group released their poll for the Missouri Scout political blog (8/12-13; 1,112 MO likely voters; via interactive voice response system) that projects the Governor's margin reverting to the 50-43% range. Gov. Parson is running for his first full term in office after he ascended to the position when elected Gov. Eric Greitens (R) resigned in May of 2018.

New Jersey: Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced that, just like for the postponed New Jersey primary, all voters will be mailed a live ballot for the general election. Though this will have no effect on the presidential race since Democrat Joe Biden is well ahead of President Trump here and the state is not a national target, several close US House elections are expected. Therefore, we may see ballot verification issues arise if we have one or more contests lapse into political overtime to reach a final conclusion.

Pennsylvania: Arguing a voter access case before the state Supreme Court, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar (D) has reversed course and now approves of ballots being counted if they are received after Election Day. She is recommending a three-day acceptance period.