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Period Ending August 5, 2016

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

President

Things continue to trend badly for Donald Trump as fallout lingers from his verbal jousting with Khizr Khan, the Democratic convention speaker who lost a son in battle, and from other comments he made during Trump rallies. Though insult trading has at least temporarily ceased, we are seeing the aftermath reflected in the week’s polling.

For her part, Ms. Clinton remains relatively quiet, simply stepping aside as Trump continues to assault himself. If the polling does not normalize in the next couple of weeks, the self-inflicted damage from this past week could bring major longer-term consequences for the Republican nominee’s campaign.

Five media polls were taken during the period ending in early August and all show Hillary Clinton getting a sizable boost from the latest Trump controversies, even after the convention bounce had faded. From these five surveys (Fox News, UPI/C-Voter, Ipsos-Reuters, NBC/Wall Street Journal, and McClatchy/Marist College), Ms. Clinton’s average lead is 8.8%. The margin is likely to close should the campaign again normalize in the coming two weeks.

Senate

Florida: Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18) has begun to pull away from his Democratic Senatorial opponent, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL-9), according to recent US Senate surveys. Though the story of Grayson allegedly abusing his wife was first reported several years ago, it is back with reckless abandon in the closing days of the Senate primary. The latest data, from St. Pete Polls (8/2; 1,807 FL likely Democratic primary voters), finds Murphy now leading Grayson in commanding fashion, 45-20%. The winner, now presumably Rep. Murphy, will face Sen. Marco Rubio (R) in the fall. Suffolk University (Aug 2016; 500 FL likely voters) finds Sen. Rubio topping Rep. Murphy by his largest lead since re-joining the Senate race, 46-33%. The Florida primary is August 30.

Georgia: In a surprising poll, Landmark/Rosetta Stone (8/1; 787 GA likely voters) finds two-term Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) leading Democrat Jim Barksdale by only a 46-41% margin. Republicans typically under-poll in the South, which could provide some basis for the small division between the two major party contenders. The same poll finds Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton tied at 46%.

Kansas: Sen. Jerry Moran (R) scored a 79% victory in his Republican primary and will now coast to re-election for a second term in November. He faces Democratic attorney Patrick Wiesner, a minor candidate.

Kentucky: Harper Polling surveyed the Kentucky Senate race, in what has some potential to become a competitive campaign. According to their survey (7/31-8/1; 500 KY likely voters), Sen. Rand Paul (R) has opened up a 50-38% advantage over Lexington Mayor Jim Gray (D). In the presidential contest, Donald Trump has a 49-36% lead over Hillary Clinton.

New Hampshire: MassInc conducted a New Hampshire survey for WBUR radio (7/29-8/1; 609 NH registered voters), and it gives the Democrats their best numbers of the election cycle. If the election were held in this period, Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) would open a 10-point, 50-40% advantage over Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) according to MassInc polling sample. The Trump nosedive is largely responsible for the GOP downturn in the Senate race. When polling the presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton scores a 45-31-8% margin over Donald Trump and Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson.

Missouri: Both Sen. Roy Blunt (R) and Secretary of State Jason Kander (D) topped the 70% mark in their respective primaries early in the week, setting up a competitive general election in the Show Me State.

Pennsylvania: Franklin & Marshall College conducted another poll of Keystone State voters, as they often do. This data, derived from 661 registered Pennsylvania voters during the July 29 – August 1 period, finds Sen. Pat Toomey (R) now trailing Democratic nominee Katie McGinty (D), 39-38%. The tightness of the race can be explained from two factors. First, the Clinton-Trump ballot test is 49-38% among likely voters. The second is the over-sampling of self-identified liberals. The leftward ideological segment is 33% of the polling universe, the same number as self-identified conservatives, and an average of nine points larger than all of the organization’s polls completed in 2016.

Washington: The jungle US Senate primary went as expected, with Sen. Patty Murray (D) finishing first and taking 53% of the vote. Both she and former state Republican Party chairman and ex-King County Councilman Chris Vance (R), who captured 28%, will advance to the general election. Sen. Murray becomes a prohibitive favorite for election to a fifth term.

House

KS-1: Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Fowler) went down to a crushing 56-44% defeat at the hands of physician Roger Marshall (R) on August 2. Agriculture issues dominated the election in this heavily rural western Kansas congressional district. Marshall receiving endorsements from the Kansas Farm Bureau and the Kansas Livestock Association proved pivotal in echoing the challenger’s theme that Rep. Huelskamp, who was removed from his position as a member of the House Agriculture Committee in 2012, no longer properly represented the Kansas Ag community. Dr. Marshall now becomes a prohibitive favorite to win the general election.

KS-3: Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Overland Park/Kansas City) easily overcame his Republican primary opponent with a 64-36% victory. He will face the new Democratic nominee, businessman Jay Sidie who took 42% in his party’s three-way race. Rep. Yoder begins the general election campaign as a heavy favorite, but a Democrat represented this district for 12 of the last 18 years meaning a competitive contest is potentially on the horizon.

MO-1: Rep. Lacy Clay (D-St. Louis) easily rebuffed state Sen. Mary Chappelle-Nadal to win re-nomination, registering a 63-27% victory margin. Ms. Chappelle-Nadal attempted to make the Ferguson police shooting and riot controversy into points against Clay’s regional leadership, but the strategic ploy failed.

MI-1: Retired Marine Corps General Jack Bergman upset both state Sen. Tom Casperson and former state legislator and 2010 congressional candidate Jason Allen to win the open seat Republican nomination. He will now face Democratic Party state chairman Lon Johnson who easily outdistanced 2014 congressional nominee Jerry Cannon. This will be a competitive open seat campaign for the general election.

MI-10: In the open Macomb County-anchored 10th District, self-funding businessman Paul Mitchell (R), who dropped approximately $3 million of his own money into his campaign, won the GOP nomination to succeed Rep. Candice Miller (R-Harrison Township). The Congresswoman is now running for local office. Mitchell, who moved across the state to win this nomination after losing in the open 4th District two years ago, will be the prohibitive favorite in the general election. His win percentage over state Sen. Phil Pavlov, former state Sen. Alan Sanborn, and others was 38-28-16%.

MI-13: Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit), the Dean of the House of Representatives, will return for a 27th term after defeating Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, 61-39%. Mr. Conyers was originally elected in 1964.

TN-4: Despite a strong challenge from former Mitt Romney campaign official Grant Starrett (R), Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-South Pittsburg) survived his re-nomination challenge with a 52-43% victory. Two years ago, he defeated former state Sen. Jim Tracy (R) by just 38 votes. This race had upset potential, but incumbents have fared very well in primaries throughout the country this year and Mr. DesJarlais proved no exception.

TN-6: Rep. Diane Black (R-Gallatin) easily overcame an insurgent primary attack from former state Rep. and US Senate candidate Joe Carr, defeating him 64-32% in their primary campaign for the northern Middle Tennessee district.

TN-8: In the open west Tennessee 8th CD, the 13-candidate Republican primary came down to two strong candidates. Former US Attorney David Kustoff defeated physician and former Shelby County Commissioner George Flinn, 27-23%, with Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell placing third at 18%. Mr. Kustoff will claim the fall general election and succeed retiring three-term Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Frog Jump/Jackson). Despite Fincher being the first Republican to represent this district since the early 70s, Democrats will not be competitive here in the fall.

TN-9: Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis), representing a 60% African American district always must fend off challenges from black Democratic opponents. He easily prevailed again in a multi-candidate field, winning re-nomination for a 6th term in attracting over 85% of the primary vote.

WA-4: We will see a re-match from the 2014 general election that saw a former state Agriculture Department director defeat a conservative activist who enjoyed a long career in the National Football League. Dan Newhouse defeated Clint Didier 51-49% in the 2014 double-Republican general election, and the two will return this year. In Tuesday’s jungle primary, Rep. Newhouse took 46% compared with Didier’s 27%. Washington’s all-mail ballot system allows votes to be post-marked on Election Day, meaning counting goes on for days after the original votes are recorded. In this race, only 73% of the precincts are reporting. Didier’s lead over the third place candidate is substantial enough for him to maintain his position when all of the votes are finally tabulated.

WA-7: Rep. Jim McDermott’s (D-Seattle) retirement is going to yield a double Democratic general election to replace him, though it is still unclear as to the identity of the second qualifying participant. The first position goes to state Sen. Pramila Jayapal (D) with 39%. Now with 94% of the votes counted, state Rep. Barry Walkinshaw (D), who had announced for the seat even before Rep. McDermott had formally decided to retire, has pulled past King County Councilman Joe McDermott (D) by a slim 487-vote margin. It will likely be into next week before we know for sure which of these two will advance to the general election. In any event, the open 7th District seat will remain in the Democratic column.

Governor

Missouri: Polling suggested the open Republican gubernatorial primary would be a very close affair, but the final results defined a clear winner. Iraq/Afghan War veteran, Navy SEAL, and author Eric Greitens, outpaced businessman John Brunner, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, and former state House Speaker and US Attorney Catherine Hanaway. The final split was 35-25-21-20%. Mr. Greitens will now face Attorney General Chris Koster (D) in the general election. Mr. Koster easily won the Democratic gubernatorial primary with 79% of the vote. The general election is expected to be close. Gov. Jay Nixon (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Washington: The Governor’s primary was a test of incumbent Jay Inslee’s (D) strength, and he failed to meet expectations. While placing first in the jungle primary field, Gov. Inslee failed to attract majority support, scoring 49% against Seattle Port Commissioner Bill Bryant’s (R) 39%. The November race has the underpinnings of a competitive campaign despite the state’s liberal voting patterns.