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AGC of Kansas “Under the Dome” Special Edition Political Update 10-17-14

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SPECIAL EDITION

POLITICAL UPDATE

October 17, 2014

 
The Advocate is a bimonthly publication for AGC PAC contributors, and contains the latest political news from “inside the beltway.”Here is the latest news:


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Georgia Turning

Republican David Perdue has fumbled the ball recently, both in accusing opponent Michelle Nunn of having an unexplained role in funneling money to terrorist organizations and then saying he is “proud” of his business record for outsourcing jobs.

Despite the perceived gaffes, the polling was still showing him holding a small lead across the board until now. Survey USA (10/10-13; 563 GA likely voters) released new figures placing Democrat Nunn ahead 48-45%, her first lead of the campaign. But, is this the formation of a new trend or a mere blip?

The same poll tested the top of the ticket and the down ballot races. In the governor’s race, S-USA finds what many pollsters have, that the contest between incumbent Nathan Deal (R) and state Sen. Jason Carter (D) is a virtual dead heat. The results here show a 46-46% tie.

In the down ballot campaigns, the results are as one would expect: S-USA detects that the GOP candidates lead all except for the Superintendent of Public Instruction contest, which evolves into a tie. These latter results suggest the sample selection possesses basic validity.

With the Republicans now on the precipice of winning Senate control, they cannot afford to drop what should be safe – or, at least likely – GOP seats in places like Georgia and Kansas (Sen. Pat Roberts (R) facing Independent Greg Orman). These two races now become top priorities for GOP spending.

Expect the Perdue forces, national Republicans, and outside conservative organizations to substantially increase their efforts in Georgia. Their strategy will be to move Nunn left, tying her as much as possible to an unpopular President Barack Obama.

 

Democrats will move forward in order not only to forge Nunn into the lead, but to propel her over 50%. Georgia and Louisiana are the only states that have a post-general election run-off, meaning that either Nunn or Purdue must exceed 50% of the vote or be subjected to a January 6 secondary vote. Libertarian Amanda Swafford is on the ballot, and three individuals have qualified as write-in candidates.

In order for the Georgia Senate contest to advance to political overtime, a situation similar to what happened in the 2014 Mississippi primary would have to occur. Earlier this year, Magnolia State challenger Chris McDaniel and Sen. Thad Cochran finished close to each other, both exceeding 49% but failing to reach the majority figure. Mathematically, there is a slim chance of such happening in Georgia, because it is reasonable to foresee Swafford and the write-ins exceeding 2 percent of the vote. Therefore, their presence does lead to the possibility of forcing a run-off.

The Georgia Senate contest is tight, but time still remains for Perdue to right his faltering ship. He successfully changed course late in his primary and run-off campaigns, and now he is tasked with doing so again. For Nunn, her campaign is firing on all cylinders right now. She will have to keep the momentum churning in order to score the upset win.


US House Taking Shape

Several polls were released this week that bring some clarity to key races, most of which are considered sleepers or opportunity races for one side or the other.

Republicans talk about their chances to convert the western district of Maine (ME-2), the open seat vacated by Rep. Mike Michaud‘s (D) run for governor. Democrats believe they have found a strong candidate to challenge Rep. Steve King (R) in Iowa, and the open NJ-3 seat is also high on the Democrats’ opportunity list.

The polling data seems to favor the incumbents’ party in each of these instances, however.

ME-2
A new Pan Atlantic SMS poll (9/23-29; 200 ME-2 likely voters) gives Democratic state Sen. Emily Cain a 36-33% lead over former state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin (R). Subtracting leaners, Cain’s lead falls to 31-29%. Independent Blaine Richardson tallies 6 percent.

The poll is part of a statewide survey of 400 Maine voters, so the 2nd District questions are asked of a polling segment. With a low sample size and a long interview period, the error factor is quite high.  Therefore, all we can legitimately deduce from the data is that the race is very close.

The 2nd District, which covers the western and northern sections of Maine has been represented by Mr. Michaud for 12 years. Prior to that, Democrat John Baldacci held the seat for three terms, vacating to run successfully for governor. Before Baldacci, Republican Olympia Snowe held the district for eight terms before her election to the Senate in 1994.

This is one of the more unusual campaigns for this CD because most local candidates have historically attempted to run to the middle. In this instance, however, Cain is running well left of center, while Poliquin is decidedly to the right.

Cain should be favored here, and maybe does have a slight lead, but Poliquin clearly has a legitimate chance to win in the fall.

IA-4
Iraq War veteran Jim Mowrer (D) became a good candidate via his strong fundraising ability, an effort that will surely exceed $2 million at the conclusion of the campaign. An earlier poll (DFM Research for the SMART Transportation union) taken at the end of September posted the challenger to within three points (43-46%) of incumbent Rep. Steve King (R), which raised hopes within national Democratic circles.

Now, however, a new poll taken for the King campaign (The Polling Company; 10/1-2; 407 IA-4 likely voters) finds the Congressman leading Mr. Mowrer 51-38%. The Polling Company analysis points to the firm’s work last election season to underscore accuracy, noting that their final survey of the 2012 election cycle posted Mr. King to 54% a week before the vote, coming close to the actual 52.9% that he received.

Though the 13 point King lead may be a bit of an over-statement, it is likely more accurate than the three point poll the union produced. After being severely tested by former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack (D) in 2012, Rep. King should be at the height of his political strength. He defeated Ms. Vilsack by eight points in a race that became the most expensive combined federal political campaign in the United States.

NJ-3
Democratic nominee Aimee Belgard, a Burlington County Freeholder, was also brandishing a poll in September that came to the conclusion she and former local Randolph Mayor Tom MacArthur (R) were deadlocked at 42% (Stockton Polling Institute; 9/13-14; 606 NJ-3 likely voters). New independent data now finds the race to be in a much different situation.

According to a Monmouth University survey (10/9-13; 423 NJ-3 likely voters), Mr. MacArthur now leads Ms. Belgard 51-41%, a sure indication that he is beginning to put away this race.

In fact, the Monmouth data is even better than a survey recently released by MacArthur’s own campaign. According to their internal National Research poll (10/1-2; 400 NJ-3 likely voters), MacArthur was found leading 44-37%, not nearly as strong as the more current and independent Monmouth study.

The 3rd District is open because Rep. Jon Runyan (R) is retiring after two terms in office.


VA Congressional Map Struck Down

A federal three judge panel, on a 2-1 vote, declared the 3rd Congressional District of Virginia (Rep. Bobby Scott-D) unconstitutional as a racial gerrymander. This means a partial re-draw will commence at some point after the 2014 election and before the 2016 nomination cycle begins.

The 3rd District begins in downtown Richmond, travels to Petersburg, comes back toward the James River, and then juts south to annex most of the cities of North Newport News, Hampton, Portsmouth, and downtown Norfolk. The plaintiffs argument was basically that the Republican dominated legislature drew this seat to pack as many African American Democratic voters as possible into the one district.

Because the specific communities were added to make the seat 56.9% black, the plaintiffs claimed the territory was “packed” for political reasons. They said the final racial composition figures diluted the regional African American vote by drawing one such strong black district. Many have argued that this area could sustain two districts where African American influence is heightened. The Republican defendants argued they were not retrogressing the district as dictated by the Voting Rights Act.

Now responsibility for action returns to the Virginia state officials. It is unlikely the Commonwealth will appeal the ruling because Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark Herring are both Democrats. Since the decision is likely to help their party, little political gain exists for them to ask the US Supreme Court to review the case.

If this proves true, then the Republican legislature will be tasked with re-drawing the region under the guidelines that the panel, pertaining to past case law and rulings, is laying forth. McAuliffe, as Governor now instead of Republican Bob McDonnell when the original districts were enacted in 2011, of course has veto power meaning that a compromise will have to be reached or both sides risk defaulting to a court-drawn map. So, more drama awaits.

Likely, the districts most affected by changing the 3rd will be the Virginia Beach anchored 2nd District (Rep. Scott Rigell-R) and the 4th CD (Rep. Randy Forbes-R), located to the south and west of VA-3. The 1st District (Rep. Rob Wittman-R) could also be tangentially touched.

Since the current map favors the Republicans 8-3 from a place where their party hasn’t fared particularly well in recent statewide campaigns, the odds favor Democrats making at least an incremental gain from this new court-mandated adjustment process.


Nationwide Gubernatorial Polling

We can report upon new numbers for every gubernatorial race on the ballot.

Earlier this year, the New York Times and the international polling firm YouGov joined together to conduct an exhaustive series of nationwide political polls. CBS News has now joined them. Over this past weekend, a second wave of gubernatorial polls was released, testing all 36 campaigns between candidates running to become, or remain, the state chief executive.

All of the surveys were conducted from September 27 through October 1, and the sample sizes fell into a range from 264 (Wyoming) to 7,943 (California) respondents, a formula commensurate with the size of the state’s population.

The Tightest Results
All of these races in this sector have been close for weeks and months, in most cases. They are likely to remain so all the way to November 4th.

  • CT – Gov. Dan Malloy (D) vs. Ex-Amb. Tom Foley (R) – 41-41%
  • FL – Gov. Rick Scott (R) vs. Ex-Gov. Charlie Crist (D) – 47-44%
  • IL – Gov. Pat Quinn (D) vs. Businessman Bruce Rauner (R) – 46-43%
  • KS – Gov. Sam Brownback (R) vs. St. Rep. Paul Davis (D) – 45-42%
  • ME – Rep. Mike Michaud (D) vs. Gov. Paul LePage (R) – 39-37%
  • MI – Ex-Rep. Mark Schauer (D) vs. Gov. Rick Snyder (R) – 46-44%
  • RI – Treas. Gina Raimondo (D) vs. Mayor Allan Fung (R) – 41-38%
  • WI – Businesswoman Mary Burke (D) vs. Gov. Scott Walker (R) – 49-48%

These polls show two Governors, Pat Quinn (D-IL) and Sam Brownback (R-KS) rebounding to forge a lead after trailing for most of the election cycle.

Upset Possibilities
The leading candidates in this category, not originally projected to win, are at the very least in position to score an upset victory on November 4:

  • AK – Ex-Mayor Bill Walker (I) vs. Gov. Sean Parnell (R) – 45-40%
  • MI – Ex-Rep. Mark Schauer (D) vs. Gov. Rick Snyder (R) – 46-44%
  • WI – B-woman Mary Burke (D) vs. Gov. Scott Walker (R) – 49-48%

The YouGov data are one of the few survey results that place Mark Schauer (D-MI) running ahead of Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI), as well as Mary Burke (D-WI) being projected with the slightest of leads against Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI).

+10 Points – Surprises
These candidates were expected to be in much closer races:

  • AR – Ex-Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R) – 49-38% (open race)
  • AZ – St. Treas. Doug Ducey (R) – 50-39% (open race)
  • ID – Gov. Butch Otter (R) – 57-33%
  • NE – Businessman Pete Ricketts (R) – 55-35% (open race)
  • OK – Gov. Mary Fallin (R) – 58-33%
  • SC – Gov. Nikki Haley (R) – 53-36%

Most polls place Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) ahead of former Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR-4), but not by as large a spread as the YouGov eleven point margin. Same for Doug Ducey in his Arizona race. Though Mr. Ricketts has always been favored in Nebraska, this poll represents his largest lead of the campaign. Both Govs. Fallin (R-OK) and Haley (R-SC) were expected to have more competitive opposition despite running in deep red states. These polls place them both in landslide range.

Leans
Most of the following races can be considered toss-ups. Gov. Mark Dayton (D-MN) has a smaller lead here than in most polls. Massachusetts candidate Martha Coakley (D-MA) has a larger advantage than most surveys yield. Gov. Susana Martinez (R-NM) is generally favored by more than seven points. Mr. Tom Wolf (D-PA) is usually ahead of Gov. Tom Corbett (R-PA) by more than nine points.

  • CO – Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) – 49-45%
  • GA – Gov. Nathan Deal (R) – 48-43%
  • HI – State Sen. David Ige (D) – 41-35% (open race)
  • MA – AG Martha Coakley (D) – 47-41% (open race)
  • MN – Gov. Mark Dayton (D) – 49-42%
  • NM – Gov. Susana Martinez (R) – 48-41%
  • OR – Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) – 49-42%
  • PA – Businessman Tom Wolf (D) – 50-41% (incumbent defeat)

Easy Winners – Expected
The following gubernatorial candidates lead by ten or more points, and are prohibitive favorites to win their election campaigns.

  • AL – Gov. Robert Bentley (R) – 65-28%
  • CA – Gov. Jerry Brown (D) – 56-36%
  • IA – Gov. Terry Branstad (R) – 52-39%
  • MD – Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D) – 55-38% (open race)
  • NH – Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) – 49-39%
  • NV – Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) – 56-25%
  • NY – Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) – 57-30%
  • OH – Gov. John Kasich (R) – 52-36%
  • SD – Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) – 57-31%
  • TN – Gov. Bill Haslam (R) – 60-28%
  • TX – AG Greg Abbott (R) – 54-40% (open race)
  • VT – Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) – 46-29%
  • WY – Gov. Matt Mead (R) – 53-30%

 

Political Snippets from across the Country

US Senate Races

Senate Overall: As we move closer to election, the public domain is filled with polling data and the airwaves overwhelmed with political advertising. Therefore, we will summarize the trends in each tight race. Last week, it appeared that Democrats were building momentum and were about to gain the upper hand in order to save their majority or at least salvage a tie. This week, the tide seemed to sway back toward the GOP, and now chances appear better than even that they can win the six net seats they need to claim the Senate majority. But, we still have more than two full weeks remaining in prime campaign time. The races are so close across the board that anything can still happen.

Alaska: Polling is showing a continual pattern that Republican Dan Sullivan is leading Sen. Mark Begich (D), and he appears ready to put this race away. At this point, the Alaska race looks to be the Republicans’ best conversion prospect in the country. The last eight public polls all show Sullivan leading, with margins between two and eight percentage points.

Arkansas: Polling here has been up and down for both candidates, but Republican Tom Cotton has led in more surveys, and by much larger margins. Sen. Mark Pryor (D) typically scores in the low 40s, very dangerous territory for any incumbent. With the open governor’s race looking strong for the GOP, and all of the House races below the Senate campaign also looking equally robust, the indicators suggest a Cotton victory is more likely than not.

Colorado: There appears to be a turning of the tables in the Centennial State. For months, first term Sen. Mark Udall (D) held a consistent but very small lead over Rep. Cory Gardner (R). But now, Gardner is the regular leader in poll after poll. In the last ten public polls, Gardner leads in nine, with margins between one and eight points. This race may be peaking at the right time for Mr. Gardner and the Republicans.

Iowa: The last 10 surveys show Republican Joni Ernst leading in six, Democrat Bruce Braley ahead in three, and one is a tie. One Republican poll gives Ernst a nine-point lead, but no other survey gives either candidate an edge beyond three points. This will undoubtedly be a close finish, but Ernst has a bit more of an advantage as the two candidates turn for home.

Kansas: The Sunflower State continues to be a problem for veteran Republican incumbent Pat Roberts, but the Senator has clearly improved his position. Roberts’ opponent is Independent Greg Orman who leads in most polls. Roberts is highly damaged, and he and the Republicans are going hard after Orman to try and define him as a liberal. If the strategy works, Roberts can still win; if Roberts is still more disliked than Orman on Election Day, then this could be another GOP loss in what should be a safe state for them.

Kentucky: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appears poised to put distance between he and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes. Polls still rate this campaign as close, but McConnell is viewed as a favorite to the point that Grimes winning would be considered a major upset.

Louisiana: There has been a decided shift in this race and toward challenger Bill Cassidy, the Baton Rouge Congressman (six polls in a row place him leading Sen. Mary Landrieu). The question remains, with nine candidates on what amounts to a primary ballot, can either Cassidy or Sen. Landrieu obtain the 50% that prevents either from winning outright on November 4? If no one attains majority support, a December 6 run-off election will occur. If we have a situation with 50 Republican wins and holdovers on Election Night, the run-off will determine the majority.

Michigan: This race appears headed toward Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-14). All data shows the Detroit Congressman putting distance between he and Republican nominee Terri Lynn Land, the former Secretary of State. Put this one in the Democratic column.

Montana: This open Democratic state is a slam dunk for Rep. Steve Daines and the Republicans.

New Hampshire: The latest poll shows former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) taking a one point lead over Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D). This state has swung more violently than any place in the country since 2006, defeating more incumbents than the voters have re-elected. Sen. Shaheen remains the favorite, but Brown can still not be discounted.

North Carolina: Sen. Kay Hagan (D) has been on a nice roll in her battle with state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R), but the race is again beginning to tighten. Margins are now back to no more than two points, and the swing seems to be turning in favor of a damaged Tillis. Sen. Hagan has clearly run the superior campaign, but the state’s conservative voting pattern in the midterm election and the voters’ penchant for unseating incumbent senators means a close race retains an upset possibility.

South Dakota: What should be a cruise for the GOP has now turned into a wild and woolly three-way affair among former Gov. Mike Rounds (R), ex-congressional aide Rick Weiland (D), and former Republican US Senator turned Independent Barack Obama supporter Larry Pressler. The ex-Senator has been gaining, but Rounds still leads the race. His (Rounds) problem is that he is dropping below 40%. Now in the high 30s, his chances of victory are less. The three-way format will likely save Rounds, and he will still probably win the race despite performing poorly in this campaign.

West Virginia: Another Democratic open seat that will be safely Republican. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) will successfully move from the House to the Senate.

US House of Representatives Races

House Overview: The House races appear stable, at least in terms of which party will control the majority. Republicans are well positioned not only to maintain their 234-201 (when vacancies are added to the total) partisan divide, but are favored to actually increase the total. GOP candidates hitting on or around 240 seats in the 114th Congress is probable.

AZ-1: The outside organization American Action Network released the findings of their North Star Opinion Research firm (released 10/3; 400 AZ-1 likely voters), a little known polling entity, which produced favorable results for the candidate they support. The data gives Republican challenger Andy Tobin, the Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, a 48-42% lead over Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D). Though the margin is surprising, the expansive eastern Arizona 1st District is prone to vote Republican in a midterm election, the hot immigration issue is likely to favor Tobin in this part of the country, and Kirkpatrick has previously failed in a re-election attempt. On the other hand, Tobin proved a weaker candidate than expected in the Republican primary election. The race is likely closer than this poll suggests, but there is no question that the AZ-1 campaign is a legitimate Republican conversion opportunity.

CA-7: The Sacramento race between freshman Rep. Ami Bera (D) and former Rep. Doug Ose (R) is fast becoming the top California race. Both sides are pouring in money, signaling that the Congressman’s hold on the district is faltering. This is a Republican conversion opportunity.

CA-52: With sexual harassment accusations surrounding Republican candidate Carl DeMaio, his challenge to freshman Rep. Scott Peters (D) may have been blunted. Polling is close, but the latest trends are now beginning to favor Peters after the incumbent was behind for most of the election cycle.

CO-6: Though the race between Rep. Mike Coffman (R) and former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D) is close, national Democratic Party leaders are putting advertising money elsewhere. Their thought is that Romanoff and outside organizations have the resources to support the campaign through the final weeks. This allows the independent party expenditures to be directed toward shoring up vulnerable Democratic incumbents.

IL-10: Trends seem to be swinging freshman Rep. Brad Schneider‘s (D) way now, after former Rep. Bob Dold (R) had been performing well for most of the election cycle. Two Democratic pollsters, Lester & Associates and the Global Strategy Group, combined on a poll for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) [10/4-6; 400 IL-10 likely voters] and found Rep. Schneider leading Mr. Dold 48-40%. It is important to keep in mind that this particular 10th District was drawn in Springfield with the intent purpose of defeating Dold, hence the obstacles preventing a Republican comeback are high.

IA-1: The eastern Iowa campaign of businessman Rod Blum (R), who has been steadily gaining for awhile, now has produced an internal poll posting him to a slight 41-40% lead (The Polling Company for the Blum Campaign; 10/1-2; sample size not released) over state Rep. and former House Speaker Pat Murphy (D). The 1st District is considered a safe Democratic seat, particularly since redistricting added the liberal city of Cedar Rapids, but obviously Blum is becoming viable. This is a race worthy of attention.

IA-3: For the first time, a poll shows Republican open seat candidate David Young pulling ahead of Democrat Staci Appel in their Des Moines political battle to succeed retiring Rep. Tom Latham (R). According to the Remington Research Group (10/11-13; 663 IA-3 likely voters), Mr. Young has forged a 46-42% advantage. All other polling for this politically marginal seat has favored Ms. Appel.

KS-2: In a surprise result, the Democrats released an internal campaign poll (10/3-6; 400 KS-2 likely voters) from Anzalone-Liszt-Grove, a top Dem pollster, finds their candidate, local Democratic Party chair Margie Wakefield, trailing Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R) only 43-48%. The same poll shows this district, that includes the capital city of Topeka, is favoring state House Minority Leader Paul Davis (D) 52-41% in his race against Gov. Sam Brownback (R). If Davis hopes to win the Governor’s office, he must perform at this level in the 2nd CD. That being said, the Jenkins-Wakefield race might deserve more attention. It is difficult to see a losing scenario for the Congresswoman, but a closer re-election victory percentage for her could well be in the cards.

NH 1 & 2: New England College again released new data, this time suggesting that former Rep. Frank Guinta (R) now enjoys a slight two-point lead over Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D). The two are battling for the third time, with each previously unseating the other as an incumbent. The race will seesaw until the final vote is cast. Either can win, but the midterm turnout model may again favor Guinta, as it did in 2010. In the more Democratic 2nd District, freshman Rep. Annie Kuster (D) clings to a similarly small three-point lead over state Rep. Marilinda Garcia (R). The New Hampshire electorate is unpredictable, so anything can still happen in both of these congressional districts.

ME-2: Talk is prevalent in Republican circles that this is a sleeper race for the GOP. It may well be, but polling still gives Democratic state Sen. Emily Cain a slight edge. Still, the 2nd District was represented by a Republican for 16 years, Olympia Snowe before her election to the Senate in 1994, and could flip again. Instead of the candidates both moving to the center, as what usually happens in Maine, this race features a leftward Democrat and a rightward Republican. So, a much different type of campaign has unfolded here than is usual. As always, the turnout model will tell the tale. Cain still has a slight advantage, but the Republicans and former state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin are well positioned to score an upset.

MN-7: A new poll suggests that a challenge to Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson (D) is very serious. Tarrance & Associates (10/12-14; 300 likely voters) gives challenger Torrey Westrom (R) a 44-43% edge over Rep. Peterson, the first such poll to show the Congressman trailing. Mr. Peterson has represented the northwestern Minnesota district since 1991, and normally wins easy re-elections despite this being the second strongest Republican CD in the state. Previously, Survey USA released data (10/3-6; 545 likely voters) that posted the Congressman to a 50-41% advantage. The finale for this campaign will be an interesting one.

MN-8: In the northeastern Minnesota CD, a new independent Survey USA poll (10/9-12; 555 likely voters) finds Republican challenger Stewart Mills now leading Rep. Rick Nolan (D) 47-39%. This is after Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee; 9/25-28; 405 likely voters) released data that gave Nolan a similar 48-37% lead. Both parties have been spending heavily here, and the 8th District is proving to be one of the more interesting challenge races in the country.

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