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Period Ending September 14, 2018

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

Primary Results

Several states held the election cycle's final primaries last night. The New Hampshire primary produced gubernatorial nominees. First term Gov. Chris Sununu (R) will face former state Sen. Molly Kelly (D) in the fast approaching general election. Gov. Sununu, with strong job approval ratings, is the favorite for the fall campaign.

In the open 1st Congressional District, Executive Councilor Chris Pappas (D) and former South Hampton police chief Eddie Edwards (R) advanced to the general election. The November winner will replace retiring Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-Rochester). Mr. Pappas opens as a slight favorite, but this district has swung back and forth between the two parties more than any seat in the nation since 2006.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo was re-nominated in the Democratic primary on Wednesday, but with only 56% of the vote. She again faces Republican Cranston Mayor Allan Fung in the coming general election. Mr. Fung also won re-nomination this week with a percentage only in the mid-50s. He came within five percentage points of Ms. Raimondo in the 2014 general election.

As expected, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo cruised to an easy 65-35% Democratic primary victory over actress Cynthia Nixon on Thursday. He is the prohibitive favorite to win a third term over the new Republican gubernatorial nominee, Duchess County Executive Marc Molinaro.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-Cold Spring/West Point) lost his bid for Attorney General, so he returns to the congressional race. New York is the only state that holds two separate primaries, one for federal and the other for state offices, so current elected officials have the benefit of being able to run for two offices in the same cycle, and then choosing where they will run in the general election. Rep. Maloney's statewide defeat means he will remain in the House.


Arizona: Several surveys were released this week in Arizona, producing mixed results. Gravis Marketing publicized their new survey (9/5-7; 882 AZ likely voters) that finds Rep. McSally's (R-Tucson) campaign standing improving. Instead of trailing Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) by single digits as she was before the late August primary, Gravis projects that the Tucson Republican now has slightly forged ahead of the Phoenix Democrat, 49-48%.

OH Predictive Insights (9/5-6; 597 AZ likely voters), an Arizona-based firm, also finds Rep. McSally leading, this time with a 49-46% advantage. A third firm, Data Orbital (9/4-6; 550 AZ likely voters), however, sees the race flipping back into Rep. Sinema's favor by a 46-42% count. All of the surveys were conducted during the same September 4-7 period. The later Fox News data (9/8-11; (801 AZ registered voters; 710 likely voters) also posts Rep. Sinema to an advantage, 47-44% among likely voters, and 46-42% within the larger registered voter pool.

Indiana: On the heels of the NBC/Marist College Indiana poll (8/26-29; 576 IN likely voters) that we covered last week showing Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) holding a 43-41% lead over former state Representative and international businessman Mike Braun (R), Fox News sees a split result. Their new survey (804 IN registered voters; 677 likely voters) posts Mr. Braun to a 45-43% advantage among likely voters, while Sen. Donnelly leads 42-41% within the registered voter segment.

Michigan: The Glengariff Group survey research firm, polling for the Detroit News and WDIV-TV (9/5-7; 600 MI likely voters) tested the US Senate race between three-term incumbent Debbie Stabenow (D) and retired Army Ranger and manufacturing business owner John James (R). According to the Glengariff results, Sen. Stabenow has developed a strong 56-33% margin. Since he officially became the Republican nominee in the August 7th primary, Mr. James has yet to establish a strong foothold opposite the Senator.

Missouri: Last week, NBC News/Marist College released their Missouri Senate survey (8/25-28; 774 MO registered voters), that saw Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) topping Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), 44-40%. This week Fox News (808 MO registered voters; 675 likely voters) publicized their data that virtually confirms the NBC/Marist numbers. They find Sen. McCaskill up 44-41% among likely voters, and 41-39% when registered voters are included.

Nevada: A new Suffolk University poll (9/5-10; 500 NV likely voters) confirms a dead heat race between Sen. Dean Heller (R) and Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson) that every other poll has shown. This survey projects Ms. Rosen clinging to the smallest of edges, 41.6 (208 respondent votes) to 41.2% (206 respondent votes) on the ballot test question.

Ohio: The Morning Consult organization released their recent Ohio data (9/2-11; 1,592 OH registered voters via automated response device) and sees two-term Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) developing a wide lead in his re-election battle against Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth). The MC results find Sen. Brown holding a strong 47-31% advantage. The other most recent public survey, from Change Research, found a much closer contest at 46-42% in the Senator's favor.

Tennessee: The open Tennessee Senate race between former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) and US Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) has been bouncing around for weeks. Last week we reported upon the NBC News/Marist College poll (8/25-28; 538 TN likely voters) that gave Mr. Bredesen a 48-46% edge over Ms. Blackburn. Now, Fox News counters with their data (809 TN registered voters; 686 likely voters) that finds the Congresswoman holding a 47-44% advantage among likely general election participants, and a 45-43% edge when registered voters are tested.


AR-2: The Talk Business & Politics group and the Hendrix College survey research arm again teamed up, as they have done before every recent election, to test the Arkansas electorate. The entities released surveys in all four of the state's congressional districts, but the 2nd CD, anchored in Little Rock, is the only one that appears even somewhat competitive. According to the Hendrix data (9/5-7; 428 AR-2 likely voters), two-term Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock) leads state Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock), by a 50-41% count. Though Mr. Hill is comfortably ahead, Mr. Tucker's level of support does suggest this seat is worth watching as the campaigns now begin to hit full stride.

FL-6: Now officially the Republican gubernatorial nominee, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Palm Coast/Daytona Beach) resigned his congressional seat this week to concentrate fulltime on his statewide campaign opposite Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D).

The DeSantis decision does not particularly affect the 6th District race. Because the Congressman was not seeking re-election, this district is already part of the 65 open seat count. The 6th should remain in Republican hands, but Democrats are making a competitive challenge. The GOP nominee is businessman, Afghan War veteran, and ex-aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, Mike Waltz. His Democratic opponent, Nancy Soderberg, is a former alternate Representative to the United Nations in the Clinton Administration before directing a congressional advisory committee pertaining to national security in the Obama Administration.

KY-6: Soon after the Kentucky primary in late May, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) released a survey showing challenger Amy McGrath (D) jumping out to a major 52-37% lead over three-term Rep. Andy Barr (R-Lexington). This, and what is reported as confirming internal Barr data at the time, led the Congressman's campaign to go heavy negative against Ms. McGrath. It appears the ad campaign drawing a clear ideological contrast has worked in the conservative-leaning northeast Kentucky district.

According to a new Fabrizio, Lee & Associates for the Congressional Leadership Fund (9/4-6; 400 KY-6 likely voters), the Congressman is back on top, 49-45%. The negative attacks drove Ms. McGrath's favorability index from 55:16% favorable to unfavorable in June to 45:34% in early September.

MA-3: Former Boston mayoral chief of staff Dan Koh officially requested a recount of his race against former congressional chief of staff and businesswoman Lori Trahan and eight other Democrats and the results are actually expanding his opponent's slight edge. The original unofficial tally gave Ms. Trahan only a 52-vote lead over Mr. Koh. Though the process is not fully completed, the latest report suggests that Ms. Trahan's lead has expanded to 132 votes. The recount will conclude by Monday. The eventual Democratic winner, probably Ms. Trahan, faces businessman Rick Green (R) in the general election for the seat that retiring Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell) is vacating.

TX-23: Texas' 23rd District, the one truly swing seat in the Lone Star State and a domain that stretches from San Antonio to El Paso, is again a Democratic conversion target this year. The New York Times/Siena College polling project just surveyed the district (9/10-11; 495 TX-23 likely voters) and posted Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) to a 51-43% lead over his Democratic opponent, former US Trade Office official Gina Ortiz Jones (D).

Utah: Utah pollster Dan Jones & Associates just released new survey data in three of the state's four congressional districts. Republican Representatives Rob Bishop and John Curtis are posting big re-election leads, but Salt Lake City Congressman Chris Stewart is facing a more competitive opponent. He leads Democratic college professor Shireen Ghorbani by eleven points, 45-34%.

The top competitive seat in the state, the south Salt Lake City suburban district that two-term Congresswoman Mia Love (R-Saratoga Springs) represents, is much closer. Dan Jones did not poll this district because so many surveys have been recently released, four alone in August and September, including a pair from the campaigns themselves. Rep. Love leads Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams (D) in all, with margins between two and nine percentage points.


Arizona: Gravis Marketing and the Data Orbital survey research organization released new Arizona gubernatorial data, and each sees Gov. Doug Ducey (R) re-establishing his early lead. According to Gravis (9/5-7; 882 AZ likely voters), Gov. Ducey has built a 48-44% advantage over Arizona State University professor David Garcia (D). Data Orbital (9/4-6; 550 AZ likely voters) finds a similar result, though is more bullish for the Governor. They project Mr. Ducey to be holding a 49-41% advantage. The new Fox Poll (9/8-11; 710 AZ likely voters) largely confirms the DO spread. They see Gov. Ducey's lead at 51-40%.

Florida: St. Pete Polls, surveying for the Empower Wellness organization, which is a medical marijuana advocacy group (9/5-6; 2,240 FL likely voters), finds Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) and US Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Palm Coast/Daytona Beach) in almost a flat tie. The large-sample poll found 1,066 respondents choosing Mr. Gillum and 1,059 professing support for Rep. DeSantis. The support percentages are 47.6 to 47.3%.

Georgia: The Georgia gubernatorial race is just as close as the one described above in Florida. According to a University of Georgia poll for the Atlanta Journal Constitution and News Channel 2 (8/26-9/4; 1,020 GA likely voters), Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) has the smallest 45.3 to 44.9% lead over former state Rep. Stacey Abrams (D), meaning 462 poll respondents chose him versus 458 for the Democratic nominee.

Michigan: The aforementioned Glengariff poll (see Michigan Senate above) finds Democratic nominee Gretchen Whitmer, a former state House Minority Leader, jumping out to a double-digit lead over Attorney General Bill Schuette (R) in the state's open Governor's race. According to the poll, Ms. Whitmer leads, 50-36%. The Michigan Governor's race is critical from a national redistricting perspective, and it's clear that Mr. Schuette has his work cut out for him if he is to restore Republican chances to continue presiding in this state as they have done for the past 20 of the last 28 years.

Nevada: The important Silver State Governor's race was also tested. As we saw in the Suffolk University poll quoted above (see Nevada Senate), the state chief executive's race is just as close as the Senate race. According to Suffolk, Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak (D) has grasped a slight lead over Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R). The margin spread here is 37-35%.