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Period Ending August 22, 2014

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

Senate

Alaska Primary: Former Attorney General and Department of Natural Resources director Dan Sullivan won the Republican Senatorial nomination, scoring a 40-32-25% win over 2010 Senatorial nominee Joe Miller and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell. The election night surprise was Miller’s performance, who again came from nowhere to finish well. On the Democratic side, Sen. Mark Begich captured the Democratic nomination with 83.5% of the vote. The Begich-Sullivan general election figures to be a toss-up all the way to November 4th.

Georgia: A new Survey USA poll (8/14-17; 560 GA registered voters) brings good news for Republican Senate nominee David Perdue. The S-USA data gives the GOP businessman a 50-41% lead over Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn. Perdue has seized strong momentum since his close GOP run-off win over Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA-1).

Hawaii: The final count in the Hawaii Senate Democratic primary gives appointed Sen. Brian Schatz a 1,769-vote victory over Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI-1), a 48.5 – 47.8% margin. As you will remember, voting in the Puna region of the Big Island of Hawaii was extended for a week because of the storms that touched down and forced officials to close roads, thus denying voters access to the polling places. Ms. Hanabusa had the opportunity to challenge the results, but decided to concede the race to Sen. Schatz. The appointed incumbent is now a big favorite to win the general election. A victory will allow him to serve the final two years of the late Sen. Daniel Inouye’s (D) last term in office. He can run for a full six-year stint when the seat normally comes in cycle during 2016, and it’s possible Hanabusa could again challenge him.

Kansas: A new Public Policy Polling survey (8/14-17; 903 KS likely voters) finds Independent Greg Orman making a move on Sen. Pat Roberts (R). According to this data, Mr. Roberts holds only a 32-25-23% advantage over Democrat Chad Taylor and Orman. With Taylor only raising $131,000+ through mid-July, it may soon become the Independent businessman who becomes Roberts’ main challenger. The Senator is still favored, but the final result has the potential of being much closer than anyone would have anticipated at the beginning of this election cycle.

North Carolina: Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling conducted their monthly survey of the North Carolina electorate (8/14-17; 856 NC registered voters) and again finds Sen. Kay Hagan (D) lagging in the low 40s. Against state House Speaker Thom Tillis and Libertarian Party candidate Sean Haugh, the Senator scores a 42-38-8% lead. This is consistent with Hagan’s showing against virtually every Republican potential challenger over the past year. Furthermore, North Carolina voters have a strong history of defeating incumbent US Senators. Despite being in first place, her low support number coupled with the state’s penchant for challengers suggest that Sen. Hagan remains one of the most vulnerable Democratic Senators in the country.

West Virginia: A rare poll of the West Virginia Senate race was released during the week, and it shows significant movement for Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2) in her Senatorial battle against Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D). According to Rasmussen Reports (8/14-15; 750 WV registered voters), Capito has opened up a commanding 50-33% lead, a net eight point increase in the Congresswoman’s favor from Rasmussen’s last poll of this race, all the way back in May. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D) is retiring after 30 years in the Senate.

Wyoming Primary: Sen. Mike Enzi easily won his Republican primary, topping 71% of the vote against two opponents. He is the prohibitive favorite for the general election.

House

AZ-1s: Tuesday’s primary will nominate a candidate to challenge vulnerable Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in the sprawling eastern state district. The Remington Research Group (8/14-17; 420 AZ-1 likely Republican primary voters) tested the GOP primary and found a tight race between state House Speaker Andy Tobin, state Rep. Adam Kwasman, and rancher Gary Kiehne. The numbers break 30-29-21%, respectively, meaning that all three candidates have a chance to win Tuesday’s nomination election.

IA-1: Both parties released polls in the open 1st District race, the seat Rep. Bruce Braley (D) is vacating to run for the Senate. The seat is strongly Democratic, so it is no surprise that both candidate polls give former state House Speaker Pat Murphy (D) an advantage. A Meyers Research and Strategic Services poll (released 8/19; 400 IA-1 registered voters) posts Mr. Murphy to a 51-40% lead over Republican nominee Rod Blum. The Blum campaign released its own counter data, but it too showed the Democrat holding a lead. According to The Polling Company (released 8/21; 401 IA-1 registered voters), Blum trails Murphy 35-40%. Democrat Murphy is the clear favorite to hold the seat.

WV-2: An internal Republican poll from Public Opinion Strategies (8/8-10; 400 WV-2 likely voters) for the Alex Mooney campaign gives the GOP nominee a 40-28% lead over former West Virginia Democratic Party chairman Nick Casey. Within the key Independent category, Mooney has a sizable 47-21% advantage. The poor Democratic Party image has a great deal to do with this margin. The poll shows voters would choose a Republican for Congress by a whopping 51-32% spread. President Obama has a terrible job approval rating of 27:72% positive to negative.

WY-AL Primary: Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R) had little trouble winning her renomination campaign, capturing 76% of the vote against one minor opponent. The Congresswoman will easily win a fourth term in November.

Governor

Alaska Primary: Gov. Sean Parnell (R), who for a time was polling weakly against two minor Republican opponents, won a landslide Republican primary victory earlier in the week. The Governor defeated former state Republican Party chairman Russ Millette and attorney Brad Snowden 75-11-10%, respectively. The victory margin put to bed any question of Mr. Parnell’s political strength. The Governor is heavily favored over new Democratic nominee Byron Mallott in November.

Arizona: With the Arizona primary fast approaching next Tuesday, a new Harper Polling survey (8/19-20; 812 AZ Republican primary voters) again finds state Treasurer Doug Ducey substantially leading his GOP primary opponents. The data shows Mr. Ducey securing 32% of the vote followed by Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, who is well back with 19%. Controversial attorney Christine Jones is now well off the pace with 16%, while Secretary of State Ken Bennett garners 14 percent. A Remington Research poll (8/17-19; 502 AZ Republican primary voters) gives Ducey a 33-22-18% edge over Smith and Jones. Former Clinton advisor Fred DuVal is the conensus Democratic nominee. It is likely the eventual Republican nominee, particularly if it’s Ducey, will begin the official general election with a discernible lead.

Connecticut: Rasmussen Reports released one of the first surveys after former US Ambassador Tom Foley won the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Against a vulnerable Gov. Dan Malloy (D), Mr. Foley claims a 45-38% advantage over the man who barely defeated him in 2010. This poll projects Foley to his strongest standing in the current election cycle.

Georgia: The aforementioned Survey USA poll (see Georgia Senate above) produced Gov. Nathan Deal’s (R) best number in weeks. The results post the Governor to a 48-39% lead over state Sen. Jason Carter (D), the first time that he has been beyond the margin of error in any poll since well before the July primary.

Illinois: The Garin Hart Yang Research Group, a Democratic firm, tested the Illinois electorate and found a much closer gubernatorial race than other recent polls have been reporting. In a poll released on August 21st (802 IL registered voters), Gov. Pat Quinn (D) was again seen trailing his Republican challenger Bruce Rauner (R), but this time by just three points, 41-44%. This is Quinn’s best showing in weeks. A rather surprising result came from this questionnaire, however. In his home state, President Obama was detected as having a negative job approval rating with 47% of those surveyed approving of the job he is doing in the Oval Office against 51% who do not.

Kansas: Gov. Sam Brownback (R) has been faring poorly in polls for most of this year, but did score a respectable 63% in his bid for renomination. The Public Policy Polling data mentioned above (see Kansas Senate) reveals the Governor to be improving his standing, but he continues to tread in dangerous political waters. The PPP results pull Brownback to within two points of state House Minority Leader Paul Davis (D), 37-39%, with 9% going to Libertarian Keen Umbehr. Previous data has projected the Governor to be in much worse shape. Still, this continuous level of low support continues to hamper Brownback and gives Republicans cause for concern.

Minnesota: The first post-primary gubernatorial poll was released and it shows a more competitive general election campaign than was commonly believed. Rasmussen Reports (8/13-14; 750 MN registered voters) gives Gov. Mark Dayton (D) a 49-41% lead over Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, the new Republican nominee. Dayton is still a decided favorite, but this poll suggests that the race could close. More polling will have to come forth showing similar numbers to cause observers to take further notice of this race.

Wyoming Primary: Gov. Matt Mead won renomination in the Wyoming Republican primary, but with less than 60% of the vote, garnering 57% against two GOP opponents. The result matters little, as Mead will now cruise to re-election against Democratic nominee Charlie Hardy, a retired priest, in November.