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Period Ending September 23, 2016

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

President

Another week of polling tells us the same story. The two presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, are virtually tied in the national popular vote. Ms. Clinton has a slight advantage in the state-by-state count. If the election were today, it is projected that Clinton would win the Electoral College by a possible 272-266 count.

Six national polls were released this week. Ms. Clinton’s average advantage within these polls is a combined less than one percentage point. The range stretches all the way from Clinton +6, in the New York Times/Wall Street Journal/Marist College poll, all the way to Trump +5, the new Rasmussen Reports survey.

Polls: Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson generally settles between seven and nine points in national polling but is doing considerably better in many states. His home state of New Mexico is where he performs best reaching 25% support in one poll, and reports of him attracting 23% in a local state-based poll are also surfacing.

Senate

Alaska: After publicly toying with the idea of challenging Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) as a write-in candidate, former Sen. Mark Begich (D) announced that he will not do so. He did not rule out running for Governor in 2018, however.

California: The Golden State race has been a quiet one, mostly because it features two Democrats. Without a partisan twinge to the campaign, many see little difference between candidates Kamala Harris, the Attorney General, and US Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-46). Two new polls are out this week coming to very different conclusions. The Field Poll (9/7-13; 1,426 CA likely voters) finds Harris to be leading 42-20%, similar to other findings but lower on the Sanchez support scale. The Public Policy Institute of California, however, just released other data yielding a much different picture. According to this poll (9/9-18; 1,055 CA likely voters) Harris’ lead is only 32-25% over Sanchez. The interesting part of this latter questionnaire contains the option of skipping the race. With two members of the same party running, it is likely that many more people than usual, particularly Republicans, will opt not to vote.

Colorado: Mesa University conducted a Colorado electorate poll (9/14-18; 540 CO registered voters) and finds what we would expect: that is, Sen. Michael Bennet (D) enjoying a comfortable 45-32% lead over El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn (R). Sen. Bennet is a heavy favorite to win a second full term.

Florida: St. Leo University (9/10-16; 1,005 FL likely voters) again tested both the presidential race and the Florida Senate poll campaign. For the second time, St. Leo sees the electorate splitting the two races between the parties. While they project Hillary Clinton to a 49-44-6% lead over Donald Trump and Libertarian Gary Johnson, Sen. Marco Rubio (R) maintains a significant lead over Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Jupiter/West Palm Beach). According to the St. Leo results, the split is 44-35% in the GOP incumbent’s favor. Suffolk University (9/19-21; 500 FL likely voters) posts an almost identical 43-34% Rubio edge.

Illinois: The little-polled Illinois race between Sen. Mark Kirk (R) and Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8) saw new numbers being presented this week. Loras University (9/13-16; 600 IL likely voters) again sees Rep. Duckworth holding an advantage over the incumbent in what is thought of as the Democrats’ best conversion opportunity. While that statement may or may not be accurate, the Democratic spread continues in the five-point range. Loras finds a 41-36% Duckworth advantage. The Emerson College Polling Society (9/19-21; 700 IL likely voters) sees a closer race. They predict Duckworth leading only 41-39%.

Louisiana: Southern Media & Opinion Research fielded a poll (9/9-15; 500 LA likely voters) bringing us quite different results from others previously seen. Here, we see jungle primary leader John Kennedy (R) drastically falling. While maintaining first place, his double-digit lead is a thing of the past, at least according to this survey. The Senate ballot test posts Kennedy at 17%, closely followed by Rep. Charles Boustany’s (R-LA-3) 15%. Former Democratic Lt. Gov. candidate Carolina Fayard is next at 11%, with fellow Democrat Foster Campbell, a Public Service Commissioner who has run statewide several times, trailing her by two points. Rep. John Fleming (R-LA-4) has 5%, with former Air Force officer and 2014 US Senate candidate Rob Maness (R) posting 3% as does former state Rep. and Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke (R). The top two finishers from the November 8 primary will advance to a December 10 run-off election.

Nevada: A pair of new Nevada surveys was reported this week, and they again confirm Rep. Joe Heck’s (R-NV-3) lead over former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D). Rasmussen Reports (9/16-18; 800 NV likely voters) finds Heck’s advantage at 44-40%. Fox News (9/18-20; 800 NV likely voters) sees an even broader split for the Republican Congressman, 43-36%.

New Hampshire: Monmouth University (9/17-20; 400 NH likely voters) finds Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) climbing back into a slight lead over Gov. Maggie Hassan (D). This race has been close for well over a year, and the Monmouth data conclusion is no exception. They see Sen. Ayotte holding a slight 47-45% edge.

North Carolina: Several polls were released in the Tar Heel State this week, and the results are disparate. Fox News (9/18-20; 800 NC registered voters), Public Policy Polling (9/18-20; 1,024 NC likely voters), Siena University (9/16-19; 782 NC likely voters), and Elon University (9/12-15; 644 NC registered voters) all arrived at very different US Senate conclusions. Fox gives Sen. Richard Burr (R) a 43-37% advantage, but Siena and Elon find challenger Deborah Ross (D) with the lead (46-42; 44-43%). PPP sees a 41-41% tie. There is no question this contest goes down to the wire on November 8.

Ohio: Fox News (9/18-20; 806 OH registered voters) provides further evidence that Sen. Rob Portman (R) is pulling away from ex-Gov. Ted Strickland (D). Their new data finds Portman ahead 51-37%, which is consistent with a plethora of other polling.

Wisconsin: Both Marquette University Law School (9/15-18; 802 WI registered voters) and the Emerson College Polling Society (9/19-20; 700 WI likely voters) again see former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) leading incumbent Ron Johnson (R), as he has for the better part of a year. Marquette posts Feingold’s lead at 47-41%. Emerson’s data is even better for the Democrat, 52-42%. Since Wisconsin has consistently polled against Johnson, this may be the Democrats’ top conversion opportunity supplanting Sen. Mark Kirk in Illinois.

House

AZ-5: A winner was finally declared in the August 30 District 5 Republican primary. State Senate President Andy Biggs was declared a 27-vote winner from more than 85,000 ballots cast. The re-count allowed Biggs to gain an additional eleven votes after the final canvass posted him officially ahead by 16 votes. Former GoDaddy.com executive Christine Jones conceded the race and will put forth no more legal challenges. This means Sen. Biggs will advance to the general election where he becomes the prohibitive favorite to succeed retiring Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Mesa).

NH-1: The New Hampshire State Ballot Law Commission refused a Democratic complaint moving that Independent Shawn O’Connor (I) be stricken from the general election ballot. The Democrats argued that because he initially filed as a Democratic candidate, he should be disqualified from running as an Independent. The Commissioners disagreed and allowed Mr. O’Connor to remain a candidate. The wealthy non-affiliated candidate may become a factor in the race, and the Democratic leadership worries he may take enough votes away from twice-defeated former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D) to allow embattled Rep. Frank Guinta (R-Manchester) to survive.

UT-4: A new Dan Jones & Associates survey (9/13-16; 600 UT-4 likely voters) brought good news for freshman Mia Love (R-Saratoga Springs). After seeing some close early numbers the latest data finds her leading attorney Doug Owens (D), her 2014 opponent who finished only six points behind, 53-35%.

Governor

New Hampshire: The aforementioned Monmouth University survey (see NH Senate above) also posts Executive Councilor Chris Sununu (R) to a 49-43% lead over Democratic Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern. The winner will succeed Gov. Maggie Hassan (D), who is running for Senate. Despite the state swinging wildly in campaigns since 2006, the Democrats have been consistent gubernatorial winners taking nine of the last ten state contests.

North Carolina: Just as the four polls of the week split between Sen. Richard Burr (R) and former state Rep. Deborah Ross (D) (see NC Senate above), similar findings occur in the Governor’s race. While Fox News and Elon College forecast Gov. Pat McCrory (R) leading Attorney General Roy Cooper (D), 46-43% and 49-45%, Siena University and Public Policy Polling find Cooper holding substantial leads. The favorable Cooper polls split 50-42% and 50-43%, respectively.