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Period Ending August 23, 2013

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

Senate

Louisiana: Three polls were released this week that tested Sen. Mary Landrieu's (D) standing against the Republican field, and the Democratic and Republican pollsters are deriving very different conclusions. First, Public Policy Polling (8/16-19; 721 LA registered voters) gives the Senator a 47-20-6-2% advantage over Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6), state Sen. Elbert Guillory, and retired USAF officer Rob Maness, respectively. If the race goes to a December 2014 run-off, Landrieu would hold a 50-40% edge over Cassidy; 50-36% against Guillory; and 50-37% over Maness. But Republican pollsters OnMessage and Harper Polling see a much different race. OnMessage, polling for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (8/12-15; 800 LA registered voters), gives Landrieu only a 45-41% lead over Cassidy. Conversely, Harper (8/14-15; 596 LA registered voters) actually puts Cassidy in front of the Senator by a 47-45% count. They also show she and Guillory tied at 44%, and Maness down 41-47% in the run-off pairings. Clearly the turnout screen is largely responsible for the difference in results.

Michigan: Flirting with running for the Senate after originally saying he would not, Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI-4), the powerful House Ways & Means Committee chairman, finally announced this week that he will not run statewide, preferring to continue in his current role and concentrate on the final sixteen months of his chairmanship. At this point, his decision leaves Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-14) and former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) as the potential general election nominees.

Minnesota: A fourth Republican has come forward to challenge first-term Sen. Al Franken (D). St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg formally launched his campaign this week. He joins wealthy former hedge fund executive Mike McFadden, state Sen. Julianne Ortman and state Rep. Jim Abeler in the field of candidates. McFadden looks like the one who can amass enough resources to give Sen. Franken a run but, even under the best of circumstances for the Republicans, this challenge is a long shot. Mr. Franken was the closest winner of the 2008 election cycle, having to go to July of the following year to finally be declared the victor.

New Jersey: Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) has jumped out to a clear lead for the special general election according to a new Monmouth University poll (8/15-18; 696 NJ registered voters). The results give Mr. Booker a 54-38% advantage over GOP former Mayor Steve Lonegan. With national Republican interests virtually conceding this race, the survey results are not expected to vary much. The special election is October 16th. The winner, presumably Mayor Booker, will serve the balance of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg's (D) term and then seek a full six-year term in November of 2014.

North Carolina: In another unsurprising announcement, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC-5) finally made public her intention not to seek her party's Senate nomination next year. The move means that all nine congressional Republicans have formally removed themselves from Senate consideration. The most likely Republican nominee appears to be state House Speaker Thom Tillis who is fervently constructing his campaign. Sen. Kay Hagan (D), first elected in the Obama year of 2008, is running for a second term.

Oregon: The first Republican candidate to challenge Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) has come forward. Former Linn County Republican chair Jo Rae Perkins announced that she will run for the Senate. Mr. Merkley, first elected in 2008, will be seeking a second term. Ms. Perkins is not viewed as strong competition. If this race does not change, Sen. Merkley is likely to cruise to re-election.

House

LA-5: Local Louisiana pollster JMC Analytics tested the upcoming 5th District special election for purposes of replacing Rep. Rodney Alexander (R) who will resign in September to accept a position in Gov. Bobby Jindal's (R) administration. According to the survey (8/16; 755 LA-5 likely special election voters via automated telephone calls), state Sen. Neil Riser (R) leads the pack of candidates with 29% preference. Tied for second position at 11% are state Rep. Robert Johnson and Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo, both Democrats; state Rep. Jay Morris (R) is right behind with 10%; while state Rep. Marcus Hunter (D) lags behind with 5%. Candidate filing has concluded and the only surprise entry is former Rep. Clyde Holloway (R-LA-8), who served three terms in the late eighties and early nineties before a reapportionment incumbent pairing ended his congressional career. In all, five Republicans, four Democrats, and five independents have formed official candidate committees. All 14 candidates will appear together on the October 19th jungle primary ballot. The top two finishers, regardless of political party affiliation, will advance to a November 16th run-off election.

PA-13: Twenty years ago, Marjorie Margolies became a one-term Democratic Congresswoman. In 2014, she is running to re-capture her old job. According to an internal Global Strategy Group poll (8/13-15; 422 PA-13 registered Democratic voters), she has a good chance of succeeding. The survey results give Ms. Margolies a 43-15-7-2% lead over state Rep. Brendan Boyle, state Sen. Daylin Leach, and physician Val Arkoosh in a Democratic primary pre-election survey. The poll, commissioned by the Margolies campaign, suggests that the former Congresswoman still maintains more than an 80% name identification, which seems a stretch for a person who has been out of public office for almost twenty years. It remains to be seen if other polls will produce similar numbers. The Philadelphia suburban 13th District is open because Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D) is running for Governor.

Governor

Alaska: Democratic state Senator Hollis French, who lost the party primary in 2010, announced that he will run again next year. A late July Public Policy Polling survey (7/25-28; 890 AK registered voters) gives Gov. Sean Parnell (R) a 54-33% lead over Sen. French. Previous 2010 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ethan Berkowitz, who likewise may run again, trials Gov. Parnell 38-51% in the same poll.

Massachusetts: In an unsurprising move, former Sen. Scott Brown (R), despite leading all comers for the open 2014 Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign, announced he will not run for the state's top job next year. Ending last week with what appeared to be a presidential exploratory trip to Iowa, and then also making noises about challenging New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) made it clear that Mr. Brown’s political future does not lie in running for a Massachusetts state office. The GOP is now attempting to recruit 2010 nominee Charlie Baker, who lost a relatively close 48-42% race to incumbent Gov. Deval Patrick (D). Mr. Patrick has chosen to retire from office upon finishing his second term next year.

New Jersey: The latest Monmouth University poll (8/15-18; 777 NJ likely voters) continues to forecast a big win for Gov. Chris Christie (R), but his support among Democrats is finally starting to wane. Down from a 30 point lead in their previous poll, the Governor's current advantage against state Sen. Barbara Buono (D) is now twenty points, still a robust 56-36% spread. The election is November 5th.

Ohio: Public Policy Polling also tested the evolving Ohio Governor's campaign (8/16-19; 551 OH registered voters) and found Gov. John Kasich (R) to be in upside down territory on his job approval rating (42:47% favorable to unfavorable) and actually trailing Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald (D) 35-38% on the ballot test. This is a very different result than Quinnipiac University found at the end of June when their Q-Poll pegged Kasich to a 47-33% lead over FitzGerald.

Virginia: Quinnipiac University (8/14-19; 1,129 VA likely voters) projects former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe with a slightly larger 48-42% edge over Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R). The negative ads launched against Cuccinelli are beginning to take their toll, as the Attorney General's personal approval rating is now upside down at 35:41%. McAuliffe's isn’t much better, however, as he rates only a 34:33% score. In terms of being honest and trustworthy, 42% of the people agree that Cuccinelli fits that description while 43% do not. When the same question was asked about Mr. McAuliffe, 39% agreed and 36% disagreed.