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Period Ending September 12, 2014

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


Colorado: Yet another poll in a campaign that never seems to move gives Sen. Mark Udall (D) a slight edge over Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO-4). Survey USA tested the Centennial State electorate (9/8-10; 664 CO likely voters) and posts the incumbent to a 46-42% advantage. The two contenders have been within four points of each other since before Gardner even announced his candidacy, with neither ever touching the 50% mark.

Kansas: The first Kansas Senate poll since Democratic nominee Chad Taylor announced that he was withdrawing from the race has been published. Survey USA (9/4-7; 555 KS likely voters) gives Independent candidate Greg Orman a 37-36% lead over Sen. Pat Roberts (R). Because of the Secretary of State’s ruling that continues to feature Taylor’s name on the November ballot, the Democrat was included in the survey. He drew 10%, while Libertarian Randall Batson attracted 6 percent. Much remains to be decided in terms of whether or not Taylor can legally exit the race. A court will have to overturn Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s ruling. The poll showed that 71% of the respondents are aware that Taylor asked to be removed from the ballot. Fifty-eight percent had heard of Kobach’s ruling. This is clearly a developing race.

Kentucky: With all other polling showing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) beginning to pull away in his re-election campaign, Democratic nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes released her internal Mellman Group poll (9/4-7; 800 KY likely voters). Their numbers place Ms. Grimes one point ahead of McConnell, 43-42%. But, Magellan Strategies, for the National Mining Association, sees the race on the exact opposite end of the spectrum. Their data (9/4-7; 942 KY likely voters) gives Sen. McConnell a substantial 50-42% margin over Ms. Grimes.

Michigan: The Glengariff Group, polling for the Detroit News (9/3-5; 600 MI likely voters), finds Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-14) opening up a double-digit lead over former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) in their open seat battle to replace retiring Sen. Carl Levin (D). This seat is a must-win for Democrats if they are to hold their current majority. Republicans hope a favorable midterm turnout model, as was present in 2010, will give them another statewide sweep.

New Hampshire: As expected, former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) won the GOP nomination for Senate in New Hampshire, and earns the right to officially challenge Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D). Brown claimed only 50% in the September 9th primary, but did so against nine opponents including former state Sen. Jim Rubens and ex-US Sen. Bob Smith who both finished in the 23% range. Shaheen is favored for re-election, but in a state that has swung with such political fervor since 2006, a developing Republican wave could sweep in Brown. Unless this suggested trend in fact occurs, far from a certainty, Shaheen will win a second term. Before winning the US Senate seat, the incumbent served three two-year terms as New Hampshire’s Governor. The first post-primary poll was released at the end of this week (Global Strategy Group; 9/10; 1,027 NH likely voters via Interactive Voice Response system). The results post Sen. Shaheen to a 48-41% lead, generally in line with what other pollsters have found.

North Carolina: Rasmussen Reports (9/8-10; 1,000 NC likely voters) gives Sen. Kay Hagan (D) her best results in recent weeks, projecting her to a six-point lead over state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R). RR finds a 45-39% margin in the Senator’s favor.


Iowa Congressional Polling: Loras College, located in Dubuque, ran a statewide poll that questioned 300 people in each of the state’s four congressional districts during the period of September 2-5. The poll skews more than two points in the Democrats’ favor statewide, as the methodology states that the responses were not weighted by political party. The data is demographically weighted. The 1st District provides us the most significant surprise, as Republican Rod Blum trails Democratic former state House Speaker Pat Murphy by only 1.6%. Blum actually holds a slight lead among those who have made a definite choice for Congress. The 1st District is the state’s most Democratic seat.

In the 2nd District, Rep. David Loebsack (D) is building a substantial lead over Republican Marianette Miller-Meeks, an opponent he has already twice beaten. The Congressman leads his challenger 49-32% when the probable and lean voters are added to each candidate’s total. While it is no surprise that Mr. Loebsack is leading, his high margin suggests that an oversample from liberal Iowa City, home to the University of Iowa, may have occurred.

The 3rd District results seems accurate, as there is little doubt that Democrat Staci Appel commands an advantage over former Sen. Chuck Grassley chief-of-staff David Young (R). The district is politically marginal, but retiring Rep. Tom Latham (R) racked up a larger than predicted margin two years ago. Without Latham’s presence, a Democrat can certainly win here, and Ms. Appel has clearly run the superior campaign to this point. The Loras ballot test projects Appel leading Young 40-34%, again with probable and lean votes added to the candidate totals.

In the western state 4th District, it is Rep. Steve King (R) who holds a relatively strong lead over Iraq War veteran Jim Mowrer (D), who has been an effective fundraiser. According to Loras, Rep. King posts a 47-36% lead, and also has an eleven-point advantage among those who have made a definite choice.

MA-6: Rep. John Tierney (D), this week, became the fourth sitting House member to lose renomination. His 41-49% loss to Iraq War veteran Seth Moulton means his 18-year congressional career will end. Tierney was vulnerable largely because of his wife’s 2012 federal conviction for tax fraud in conjunction with filing illegal returns for her brothers’ offshore Internet gambling business. Tierney, expected to lose in 2012, surprised everyone including himself when he scored a one-point victory over Republican former state Sen. Richard Tisei. Now Moulton becomes the Democratic nominee who will face Tisei, an unopposed 2014 Republican primary candidate. Without Tierney in the race, Moulton becomes the clear favorite to hold the seat for the Democrats in November.

NH-1: Former Rep. Frank Guinta (R) claimed the Republican congressional nomination to again challenge Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D) – he beat her in 2010, but lost the re-match two years ago – but did so in unimpressive fashion. Guinta topped first-time candidate Dan Innis 49-41%. Innis was the former University of New Hampshire’s business school dean. Because of the 1st District’s marginal nature, the general election will again be close. The seat is clearly in play, but Guinta would be stronger had he performed better earlier this week.

NH-2: In the Granite State’s western congressional district, state Rep. Marilinda Garcia, with strong help from the Club for Growth, defeated three GOP opponents to claim the party nomination. She now faces first-term Rep. Annie Kuster (D) in a district that can elect a Republican, but continues to move further and further to the left. Of the state’s two CD’s, this is the more reliable Democratic performer. Ms. Garcia start very quickly in this short general election cycle to even position herself to win. Consider Rep. Kuster a clear favorite, but attention from both national parties and their allies will be paid here before the final votes are cast.


Colorado: The aforementioned Survey USA poll (see CO Senate above) also finds a tight gubernatorial contest. In a race that could well become the turnout driver, Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) holds a slight 45-43% edge over former Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-CO-7). This data is consistent with other polling and confirms that the contest is a true toss-up campaign.

Connecticut: Events are continuing to play badly for Gov. Dan Malloy (D). Despite launching a wave of negative attack ads against Republican former Ambassador Tom Foley, a new Quinnipiac University poll (9/3-8; 1,304 CT likely voters) finds the challenger opening up a six-point lead over the incumbent, 46-40%. The closeness of the 2010 race – Malloy won by just 6,404 votes from more than 1.1 million ballots cast – suggests that polling portraying a highly competitive race is accurate. This is yet another surprising race to watch.

Illinois: For the first time since the March primary, an Illinois political survey shows Gov. Pat Quinn (D) with a lead. His own internal survey research firm, the Global Strategy Group (9/4-7; 605 IL likely voters), projects the Governor to a 43-40% advantage over businessman Bruce Rauner (R). All other data has given Rauner the edge. Time will tell whether the GSG survey is an anomaly or the beginning of a new trend.

Massachusetts: Attorney General Martha Coakley, despite being staked to double-digit polling leads in her Democratic gubernatorial nomination battle with state Treasurer Steve Grossman and former Medicare Administrator Don Berwick, became the party standard bearer in a closer-than-expected fashion in the September 9th primary. Coakley defeated Grossman and Berwick 42-36-21%, to weakly claim the nomination. She now faces businessman and 2010 Republican nominee Charlie Baker who easily won on the GOP side. Coakley’s 2014 primary performance, coupled with her disastrous campaign against Republican Scott Brown in the 2010 special US Senate election, gives Republicans hope of securing an upset victory. It was important for her to score big in the Democratic primary, something across-the-board polling was predicting, but she fell well short of achieving that particular goal. This is now a race to watch.

New Hampshire: No surprises in the gubernatorial primaries from early in the week. Gov. Maggie Hassan was a prohibitive favorite in the Democratic primary and performed like one. Businessman Walt Havenstein, also as expected, comfortably won the Republican nomination. The Governor is a solid general election favorite for re-election to a second two-year term.

New York: Despite outspending his opponent, law school professor Zephyr Teachout, by more than 40:1, Gov. Andrew Cuomo could only manage a 62% count within his own party primary. Though this is a relatively weak showing, the Governor appears to be in no jeopardy of losing the general election. Opposing him is Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who was unopposed for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.

Rhode Island: State Treasurer Gina Raimondo may have been elected Rhode Island’s next Governor with her Democratic primary victory earlier this week. The state’s reliable Democratic voting history always gives the party nominee the inside track in the general election, and the situation involving Raimondo is no different. She defeated Providence Mayor Angel Tavares and attorney Clay Pell, grandson of former US Sen. Claiborne Pell (D-RI), 42-29-27%. Raimondo’s general election challenger is Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, who scored a 55-45% Republican primary victory. The race will likely be moderately competitive, ending in a Raimondo win.