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Period Ending August 26, 2016

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

President

Major polling news came from all-important Florida, the most significant swing state on the presidential map. Simply put, Republicans cannot win the national election without carrying the Sunshine State. Should the Democratic nominee win it, as has been the case with President Obama in both 2008 and 2012, the election is effectively over.

The week opened with a Florida poll from St. Leo University (8/14-18; 1,500 FL adults; 1,380 FL likely voters) that incredibly found Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by a major 52-38% spread. But, Florida Atlantic University (8/19-22; 1,200 FL registered voters) and the Florida Chamber of Commerce (8/17-22; sample size not released) quickly refuted those numbers with polls of their own. The two actually found Trump to be ahead, with 43-41 and 44-41% margins.

Nationally, seven polls were released into the public domain since August 20. Six of the seven found Ms. Clinton maintaining her previous lead. Her overall average margin drops to 3.4 percentage points, however. The lone poll brandishing a Trump advantage comes from the Los Angeles Times/University of Southern California that continually surveys a group of 3,000 respondents in blocks of 400 individuals. Their latest release gives Trump a 43-41% lead, and is factored into the group of seven surveys mentioned above.

Senate

Arizona: On the eve of the August 30 Arizona primary, the CNN/ORC poll provides Sen. John McCain (R) his best numbers of the election cycle. The survey (8/18-23; 809 AZ likely voters) finds the five-term incumbent leading Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff), 52-39%. This is a considerable improvement from the last statewide survey (Public Policy Polling; 6/22-23) that projected only a 42-40% McCain margin.

Florida: Though the state’s presidential numbers have been highly inconsistent, Sen. Marco Rubio (R) is showing steady political strength. Both the aforementioned St. Leo University survey and the Florida Atlantic University poll show the Senator expanding his lead over presumed Democratic nominee, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Jupiter/Palm Beach). The St. Leo poll posted Rubio to a 46-38% advantage, while FAU found his lead to be 44-39%. The Florida primary is August 30, and both Sen. Rubio and Rep. Murphy are predicted to win their respective nominations in comfortable fashion.

Iowa: CBS News/YouGov (8/17-19; 987 IA likely voters) surveyed the Iowa electorate and found Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) and former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge (D) getting a bit closer. The results find the Senator ahead 45-38%, which is down from the 52-42% margin he has posted in four consecutive polls. Ms. Judge began a series of television ads attacking Grassley, accusing him of losing touch with the state’s constituency and becoming locked into the Washington culture.

Missouri: Monmouth University (8/19-22; 401 MO likely voters) confirmed what other data has been showing for most of the election cycle. That is, Sen. Roy Blunt (R) is posting mid-single digit advantages over Secretary of State Jason Kander (D). The Monmouth results project Sen. Blunt as having a 48-43% margin.

North Carolina: Two new surveys are out this week. Both show Sen. Richard Burr (R) continuing to maintain small leads over former state Rep. Deborah Ross (D). The CNN/ORC survey (8/18-23; 803 NC likely voters) finds Sen. Burr up 50-45%. The Monmouth University data (8/20-23; 401 NC likely voters) reveals a closer separation, 45-43%. Polling has been showing a competitive race for months. North Carolina voters are not kind to their incumbents. Sen. Burr is the first incumbent to be re-elected from his particular seat since 1968. Since 2008, two of three Senators seeking re-election have been defeated.

Ohio: New polls again confirm the emerging trend that Sen. Rob Portman (R) is pulling away from ex-Gov. Ted Strickland (D). The Monmouth University results (8/18-21; 402 OH likely voters) post Portman to a 48-40% advantage. The CBS News/YouGov data (8/17-19; 997 OH likely voters) finds a similar 46-39% Portman margin.

House

CA-7: A new Public Opinion Strategies poll (8/14-17; 400 CA-7 likely general election voters) forecasts two-term Rep. Ami Bera (D-Sacramento) falling into a dead heat against Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones (R). According to the POS numbers, Rep. Bera clings to only a 46-45% lead. The 7th District, which is comprised of most of Sacramento County with the exception of the city, is a marginal political district. Dr. Bera defeated then-Rep. Dan Lungren (R) 52-48% in 2012, and returned two years later to beat back a strong challenge from former Rep. Doug Ose (R), 50.4 – 49.6% in the most expensive congressional race in the nation.

FL-4: A new Republican primary survey was just released in the open northeast Florida 4th District (Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R) retiring). St. Pete Polls (8/23; 409 FL-4 likely Republican primary voters) found former Duval County Sheriff John Rutherford leading state Rep. Lake Ray and attorney Hans Tanzler III, 33-22-17%. Mr. Rutherford began the race with the highest name identification, but Mr. Tanzler has spent the most money on his campaign. The primary is this coming Tuesday, August 30. The Republican primary winner will cruise to election in November.

FL-9: The Democratic primary in this Orlando area CD will likely choose the next member of Congress. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Orlando) running for the Senate has left this seat open, and his new wife, Dr. Dena Grayson, leads the Democratic primary according to a new St. Pete Polls survey (8/23; 336 FL-9 likely Democratic primary voters). Following Dr. Grayson’s 33% preference is former congressional aide Susannah Randolph (27%), and state Sen. Darren Soto (19%).

HI-1: Gov. David Ige (D) has followed the normal course of action regarding filling the congressional vacancy caused by freshman Rep. Mark Takai’s (D-Aiea) death. The Governor announced that the special election to fill the balance of the current term will run concurrently with the general election. This means the winner on November 8, almost assuredly former Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Honolulu), will immediately assume the office.

NJ-5: On the heels of a previous internal poll that found Democratic challenger Josh Gottheimer only two points behind Rep. Scott Garrett (R-Wantage/Bergen County), a new television ad blitz has been unleashed featuring an attack on the Congressman as a “Tea Party extremist.” This will be one of the most expensive races in the country, with both sides already approaching, if not exceeding, the $3 million mark in campaign assets.

WI-8: The first post-primary poll from the open Green Bay/Appleton seat is now in the public domain. Public Opinion Strategies (8/22; 400 WI-8 likely general election voters) finds foreign policy analyst Mike Gallagher (R) leading Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson (D) by a whopping 52-36% margin. The open 8th is a Republican district that has been known to elect Democratic Representatives from time to time. Three-term Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Sherwood) is retiring.

Governor

Missouri: Monmouth University, in their aforementioned poll of the Missouri electorate (see MO-Senate above), finds Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster opening up a substantial lead over former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens (R). According to the small-sample Monmouth data (401 MO likely voters), Mr. Koster commands a 51-40% advantage. Gov. Jay Nixon (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

New Hampshire: Approaching the September 13 primary, financial reports were publicly released this week. The top fundraiser is Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas (R), who obtained $1.04 million for the campaign and has $551,000 cash-on-hand. His chief Republican opponent, Executive Councilor Chris Sununu, son of former Governor and White House Chief of Staff John Sununu (R), raised a disappointing $646,000 and has only $224,000 remaining in his campaign coffers. State Rep. Frank Edelblut (R) possesses the most money, bringing in $830,000 with $587,000 remaining, but $750,000 of that amount was self-contributed. For the Democrats, investment firm owner Mark Connolly is tops with $556,000 raised and $306,000 remaining. Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand only managed $102,000 in receipts and is in a deficit situation of $5,000.

The last published gubernatorial poll, from Inside Sources/NH Journal that dates back to mid-July (1,116 registered voters; 619 Republican primary voters; 444 Democratic primary voters) finds Mr. Sununu leading the Republican side 27-20% over Mayor Gatsas. All other candidates registered only single digits. No Democrat even reached 14% preference in their primary poll.

North Carolina: Two late polls produced similarly bad news for Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. The CNN/ORC survey (8/18-23; 803 NC likely general election voters) finds Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) holding a 52-46% advantage over the incumbent first-term Governor. Monmouth University, in the field during the same period but with a much smaller polling sample (8/20-23; 401 NC likely general election voters) detects a similar 52-43% Cooper margin.