Snippets from Around the Country

U.S. Presidential Race

Jesse Ventura: Former Minnesota Governor and professional wrestler Jesse Ventura announced that he will not become a candidate for the Green Party presidential nomination. Mr. Ventura says doing so would force him to relinquish his employment and health insurance.

Rep. Justin Amash: Michigan Rep. Justin Amash (L-Cascade Township/Grand Rapids) decided not to seek the Libertarian Party presidential nomination after filing an exploratory committee to assess his chances. Rep. Amash cited the COVID-19 precautions that make personal campaigning difficult as one reason not to continue along the presidential path. He says he is committed to helping build the national Libertarian Party, however.

Hodas Polls: The Hodas & Associates survey research firm went into the field to test the swing Great Lakes/Mid-Atlantic states and produced surprisingly inconsistent data. Conducting surveys among sampling universes of 600 likely general election voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in early May, Hodas finds the results very different than the three close wins Donald Trump recorded in these places four years ago.

While former Vice President Joe Biden posts wide leads in Wisconsin (51-42%) and Michigan (50-42%), he surprisingly trails President Trump in Pennsylvania (46-50%).

CNN Poll: CNN conducted a nationwide political poll (5/7-10; 1,112 US adults; 1,001 registered voters; 302 over sample in 15 battleground states) and compared the national results to those found in 15 battleground states. The latter group included the typical swing states like Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, and Wisconsin, but also added Colorado, New Mexico, and Virginia, places where former Vice President Joe Biden has developed significant leads.

On the national count, as found in most other polls, Mr. Biden leads President Donald Trump, 51-46%, but the numbers are virtually reversed, 52-45%, in Mr. Trump’s favor within the all-important battleground states.

Polling Trio: Three polls from key 2020 presidential states were released and yielded rather predictable results. In Wisconsin, Marquette Law School released their quarterly statewide survey (5/3-7; 811 WI registered voters) and found former Vice President Joe Biden edging President Donald Trump, 46-43%.

In Ohio, Emerson College (5/8-10; 725 OH registered voters) sees the President topping Mr. Biden, 51-49%, in a poll where all respondents were pushed to make a choice. In the Lone Star State of Texas, Emerson (5/8-10; 800 TX registered voters) gives the President a 52-48% advantage.

U.S. Senate Races

Alabama: It appears not much has changed since soon after the March 3 Alabama statewide primary. Retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville finished ahead of former US Attorney General and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions in the Republican primary, and immediate post-election polling reported that Mr. Tuberville was opening a large lead. Despite the time lag, such still appears to be the case.

The Cygnal polling firm conducted their survey of 607 likely Republican runoff voters over the May 7-10 period and found Mr. Tuberville expanding his lead all the way to 55-32%. At this point, the longer runoff election period – originally the secondary vote was scheduled for March 31 but was moved all the way to July 14th – has not helped the former incumbent. The runoff winner faces Sen. Doug Jones (D) in November.

Arizona: The OH Predictive Insights Arizona survey finds appointed Sen. Martha McSally* (R) dropping behind retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D) by a double-digit margin for the first time. The ballot test yields a 51-38% Kelly advantage. As what plagued her in the 2018 Senate race against Kyrsten Sinema (D), population dominant Maricopa County is performing well above the norm for a Democratic candidate.

Colorado: The Colorado Democratic Senate ballot has become a political football with several candidates filing lawsuits to reduce the number of petition signatures required due to the COVID-19 precautions, while previously disqualified candidates attempted to obtain ballot placement through court decree. What began as twelve candidates looking to run for the Democratic nomination to oppose Sen. Cory Gardner* (R) is now down to two official contenders for the June 30 primary: former Gov. John Hickenlooper and ex-state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff. With the courts finally making definitive rulings, the ballot is now set.

Kansas: Public Opinion Strategies released a new Kansas Republican primary survey for the Roger Marshall* for Senate campaign (5/10-12; 600 KS likely Republican primary voters) that projects the western district Congressman has taken the lead over former Secretary of State and 2018 gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach.

The ballot test shows Rep. Marshall leading Mr. Kobach and state Senate President Susan Wagle, 33-26-7%, with two minor candidates finishing even further behind in single digits. This is a significant change from their March poll that found Mr. Kobach holding a 34-28% advantage over Rep. Marshall. Polling suggests that the normally safe Kansas seat would be vulnerable to Democratic candidate Barbara Bollier, a physician and Mission Hills state Senator, if Mr. Kobach were to win the GOP nomination.

Additionally, Manhattan Mayor Usha Reddi, who appeared to be Sen. Barbara Bollier’s strongest Democratic primary opponent has dropped out of the race. She stated late this week that she will not file as a candidate on the June 1 deadline. The move assuredly wraps up the nomination for Sen. Bollier, and she will await the Republican primary winner on August 4.

Massachusetts: The latest University of Massachusetts at Lowell survey finds US Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-Newton) leading Sen. Ed Markey (D) in a 44-42% virtual toss-up result, Emerson College (5/5-6; 740 MA registered voters; 620 MA likely Democratic primary voters) sees a much different political landscape. According to the Emerson data, Rep. Kennedy has a whopping 58-42% lead after voters were pushed to make a decision. The UMass Lowell poll is closer to the three others conducted in 2020, which yield only a three-point average Kennedy advantage.

Michigan: A pair of Michigan US Senate polls both find Sen. Gary Peters (D) leading his re-election campaign against challenger John James* (R), but Hodas & Associates 5/1-5; 600 MI likely voters) and Change Research (5/11-17; 3,070 MI likely voters; online) see very different margins. Hodas gives Sen. Peters a big lead, 48-36%, a wider spread than other pollsters have found, and Change projects. 

Mississippi: A rare Mississippi US Senate poll was released from the Impact Management Group (5/4-7; 606 MS likely voters) and the data finds first-term incumbent Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith* (R) claiming a large double-digit lead over her previous special election opponent, former US Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy (D) who is returning for a re-match this year. The ballot test gives the Republican Senator a 58-31% major advantage. This is a significant improvement over Sen. Hyde-Smith’s 54-46% win in 2018 to fill the balance of the late Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R) final term in office.

Nebraska: Sen. Ben Sasse* (R) was easily re-nominated last week with a 75% Republican regular primary win against minor opposition. For the Democrats, local Omaha business owner Chris Janicek topped a field of seven candidates in a campaign where no one even raised $100,000. Sen. Sasse now becomes a prohibitive general election favorite.

North Carolina: Coming off four consecutive April-May polls that found Sen. Thom Tillis* (R) trailing Democratic nominee Cal Cunningham, East Carolina University just released their latest data (5/7-9; 1,111 NC registered voters) that sees the Senator rebounding to take a slight 41-40% advantage. The previous May poll from the Civiqs organization for the Daily Kos Elections website (5/2-4; 1,362 NC registered voters) projected Mr. Cunningham to a substantial 50-41% lead.

U.S. House of Representative Races

CA-25: Despite thousands of ballots still to be received and counted in the California special congressional election, Democratic state Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D) has conceded defeat to Republican Mike Garcia*. The early totals, representing almost 144,000 votes, broke heavily for the GOP retired Navy fighter pilot, 56-44%. His total included a surprisingly large 55-45% margin in dominant Los Angeles County, which was enough to spell defeat for the Democratic candidate who was originally favored to hold the seat that scandal-ridden Rep. Katie Hill (D) resigned late last year.

MI-6: Democratic candidate Jon Hoadley, a state Representative from Kalamazoo, released his internal Victoria Research poll (5/2-5; 400 MI-6 likely general election voters) showing him edging ahead of veteran incumbent Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) by a 38-37% margin. Whether or not this is yet a one-point race, it is clear that the southwestern Michigan district is becoming more competitive. In 2018, Rep. Upton was re-elected with a 50-46% victory margin.

Nebraska: The US House general election ballot in the Cornhusker State is now set. In the 1st District, veteran Rep. Jeff Fortenberry* (R-Lincoln) will face state Sen. Kate Bolz in what could be a more competitive general election.

In the 2nd District, 2018 Democratic nominee Kara Eastman, who scored 49% of the vote against two-term Rep. Don Bacon* (R-Papillon/Omaha), will get her re-match after scoring a 61% victory over Ann Ashford, wife of former Congressman Brad Ashford (D-Omaha), and restaurant manager Gladys Harrison in last week’s Democratic primary. Rep. Bacon defeated a minor Republican opponent with 91% of the vote.

In the expansive 3rd District that occupies about 3/4 of the Nebraska land area, seven-term Rep. Adrian Smith* (R-Gering/Grand Forks) easily defeated four Republican opponents with 82% of the vote. He will face marijuana legalization activist Mark Elworth Jr. in the general election. Mr. Elworth was unopposed in the Democratic primary. Rep. Smith is a prohibitive favorite to win in November.

Oregon: Former Vice President Joe Biden registered a rather uninspiring performance in the Oregon presidential primary last night, scoring a 67% win but against an entire field of candidates who long ago exited the race. All other Democratic incumbents running in the same type of low competition elections all recorded over 81% of the primary vote. Whether Mr. Biden’s performance suggests that he still has not convinced a large share of the Sanders-Warren coalition to support his candidacy remains to be seen.

The 2nd District with Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) retiring from the lone Republican CD in the state, which encompasses the entire eastern Oregon sector, is open for the first time since 1998. Defeating 2018 GOP gubernatorial nominee Knute Buehler is former state Senator Cliff Bentz, who ran well to the former man’s right. The primary was a crowded affair with 11 candidates on the ballot. Mr. Bentz is now the prohibitive favorite to win here in November.

The only other even slightly competitive primary occurred in the Salem anchored 5th District where veteran incumbent Rep. Kurt Schrader* (D-Canby) was re-nominated over local Mayor Mark Gamba with 70% of the vote. Rep. Schrader will now have an easy general election run.

SC-1: One of the bigger upset victories coming in 2018 election was Democrat Joe Cunningham (D-Charleston) converting the open Palmetto State 1st District after then-Representative and former Governor Mark Sanford lost re-nomination in the Republican primary. Now, the eastern South Carolina district becomes a top tier challenge race for the GOP.

If Mt. Pleasant Town Councilwoman Kathy Landing were the Republican nominee, she would lead Rep. Cunningham, 45-43%, according to First Tuesday Strategies (5/15-18; 500 SC-1 likely general election voters). Should state Rep. Nancy Mace (R-Daniel Island) win the party nomination, she would edge the Congressman by an almost identical 45-44% split.

VA-5: In a Republican contest that looks to be serious, freshman Virginia Republican US Rep. Denver Riggleman* (R-Manassas) will have to win re-nomination at a party convention in a church parking lot outside of the district.

Fifth District GOP committeemen have scheduled their nominating assembly for Saturday, June 13 at the Tree of Life Ministries Church in Lynchburg, which isn’t even in the 5th CD, and deliver their ballots to party officials in the parking lot. The Congressman’s principle opponent is Campbell County Supervisor Bob Good, who is a member at Tree of Life. Rep. Riggleman, who is contesting the convention process and favors a primary to decide the nomination, is exploring his legal options.

Governor Races

North Carolina: The East Carolina University tested the 2020 Governor’s campaign. Since the March 3 primary, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) has been leading Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R) by wide polling margins, and the ECU model is no exception. According to the university data, Gov. Cooper enjoys a 51-36% lead, consistent with the other seven post-primary published surveys.

Washington: Gov. Jay Inslee (D), who was one of the first 2020 presidential candidates to exit the national race, is running for a third term in his home state. He is a clear favorite for re-election, but the jungle primary will be interesting. He faces no less than 35 opponents who just completed the candidate filing process during the week.

Survey USA (5/16-19; 530 WA likely voters) tested the Washington jungle primary, scheduled for August 4, and found Gov. Inslee way ahead in each general election scenario as he drives for a third term. None of his potential opponents have developed much in the way of statewide name identification, thus allowing the Governor to post leads of between 22 and 29 points against each of four general election possibilities.

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