Snippets from around the country

Listed below are political snippets from around the country on the presidential, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, and gubernatorial races.

U.S. Presidential Race


Many polls are currently being released, but the Trafalgar Group data draws special attention since the research organization was the only pollster to correctly predict Wisconsin and Pennsylvania at the end of the 2016 election cycle. The new Trafalgar Florida poll (6/29-7/2; 1,072 FL likely voters) again finds the race much closer than other pollsters. In this case, Trafalgar sees a dead tie between the two major party contenders, with both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden scoring 46% support among the surveyed respondents.


Monmouth University released their new Pennsylvania poll (7/9-13; 401 PA registered voters) and while former Vice President Joe Biden has a strong lead on the ballot test, a majority of the respondents believe there is a hidden vote for President Donald Trump. First, the sample size is small for a state the size of Pennsylvania. A total of 401 registered voters would be more appropriate for a single congressional district. Therefore, the error factor in this poll is high.
Within the entire sample, Mr. Biden leads President Trump, 53-40%. The turnout screens alter the picture, however. In what Monmouth describes as a higher turnout model, Mr. Biden’s lead drops slightly to 52-42%. A lower likely voter model allows Mr. Trump to cut the deficit to 51-44%. Yet, a total of 57% said they believe a group of people will vote for Mr. Trump but not admit it, with 27% saying there are many, 17% believing there are only a few, and 13% saying they exist but are not sure of the number. Only 35% said they did not believe Trump has “secret voters.”

U.S. Senate Races


Retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville easily won the Alabama Republican runoff election early this week with a landslide 61-39% victory margin over ex-US Attorney General and former Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions. Mr. Tuberville advances into the general election where now challenges Sen. Doug Jones (D) in what has become a must-win for the Republicans in order to hold their Senate majority. This could be the most important indicator race in the country to determine majority status for the next Congress.


Public Policy Polling surveyed the Alaska electorate (7/7-8; 1,081 AK voters via automated response device) and finds Sen. Dan Sullivan(R) to be leading his prospective Democratic opponent, surgeon Al Gross, by only a single-digit margin, 39-34 percent. Close polling in Alaska is not surprising because electoral history reveals that such is typically the case, and not always consistent with the final outcome. 


At the beginning of July, Gravis Marketing released an Arizona Senate survey that found appointed Sen. Martha McSally* (R) leading retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D), 46-42%. While the prevailing wisdom suggested this result is an outlier because all other data gives Mr. Kelly a sizable lead, the new YouGov poll (7/7-10; 1,087 AZ likely general election voters) finds the same 46-42% split, but in Mr. Kelly’s favor. Though the YouGov poll again posts the consensus Democratic candidate to be holding the lead, this survey seems to confirm that the important Arizona Senate race is getting tighter.


US Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) released his internal Battleground Connect poll (7/6-8; 600 GA likely general election voters) this week, and the results place him ahead of the entire special election US Senate jungle primary field with 26% support. Interestingly, Gravis Marketing in their July 2 survey of 513 likely Georgia primary voters also found Rep. Collins leading the pack with an identical 26% figure. 
The Gravis poll, however, projects a tighter field. They see Mr. Collins leading appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R), 26-24% with Baptist pastor Raphael Warnock, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s endorsed candidate, in third position with 18% ahead of Atlanta businessman Matt Lieberman (11%) and former US Attorney Ed Tarver (9%). In the Collins’ Battleground Connect poll, the Congressman’s lead over Sen. Loeffler is 26-17%, with Mr. Lieberman in third position with 15%, and Rev. Warnock and Mr. Tarver following with 10 and 5%, respectively.


A newly formed organization called Plains PAC just launched what appears to be a $3 million negative media buy against Senate Republican candidate Kris Kobach with a hard-hitting ad in a build-up to the August 4 primary election. Democratic strategists believe they have a chance to win what should be a safely Republican seat if Kobach, who lost the Governor’s race in 2018, becomes the nominee and polling suggests they are correct. Western Kansas Rep. Roger Marshall* (R-Great Bend) is the most viable candidate with an opportunity to deny Kobach the party nomination. 


The Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, a top Democratic polling firm, tested the post-primary Kentucky general electorate (7/7-12; 800 KY likely general election voters) and found Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell* (R) leading new Democratic nominee Amy McGrath, 45-41%. The poll appears to be following the pattern one would expect to see in a McConnell Senate race. The contest begins close as the candidates officially enter the general election, and then turns toward Sen. McConnell in the waning days, which results in him scoring a comfortable win. This same conclusion is likely to happen again in 2020.


The Senate Democratic primary race between Massachusetts incumbent Ed Markey and Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Newton) is expected to be close at the polls and even appears to be down to the penny in the political money war. Both men are releasing their 2nd Quarter 2020 financial numbers, and each raised just over $1.9 million during the period. They both have almost the same amount of cash-on-hand, too. Sen. Markey reports $4.8 million in his campaign account versus Rep. Kennedy’s $4.7 million. 
Last week, the incumbent also received some help from his climate change allies. The Senator has been a leader in environmental issues and causes for decades during his congressional service, and his work is being recognized. The Environment America Action Fund, whose supported independent expenditure PAC United for Massachusetts, announced they will spend over $900,000 on a broadcast and digital ad campaign to promote Sen. Markey. The Massachusetts primary is September 1.


Another poll was released in Montana that finds the Senate race between incumbent Steve Daines* (R) and Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock to be a cliff hanger. The prolific Public Policy Polling has released new data of the Big Sky Country electorate. The survey (7/9-10; 1,224 MT “voters”) gives Gov. Bullock a 46-44% edge over Sen. Daines. With the same respondent sample yielding President Donald Trump a 51-42% advantage over former Vice President Joe Biden, it is likely that Sen. Daines is the candidate who has more room to grow.


We’re seeing a number of instances where polling conducted in the same relative time frame is producing differing results. Such is the case again in Tennessee. The open Senate race hasn’t attracted much national attention largely because most analysts believe that former US Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty will easily win the Republican primary and the seat in November. 

One poll, from the Tarrance Group (6/28-30; 651 TN GOP likely voters over half of whom have voted in the last four Republican primaries), supports such a conclusion. Tarrance finds Mr. Hagerty holding a 46-29% Republican primary advantage over Nashville surgeon Manny Sethi.
Victory Phones, which gained statewide credibility for conducting Gov. Bill Lee’s polling in 2018, sees a different result, however. Their study (6/30-7/1; 800 likely Republican primary voters) foresees a much closer contest. While projecting Mr. Hagerty into the lead, it is only by two points, 33-31%, over Dr. Sethi. Tennessee is the only state in the country to hold its primary on a Thursday, and this year the nomination vote is scheduled for August 6.

U.S. House of Representatives Races


The Alaska Public Policy Polling survey (7/7-8; 1,081 AK voters via automated response device) also produced a ballot test in the at-large House race between veteran Rep. Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon), the Dean of the House in seniority who was elected in a 1973 special election, and challenger Alyse Galvin, the 2018 Democratic nominee who fell seven percentage points short of unseating the Congressman, 53-46%. 

The PPP poll actually finds Ms. Galvin running ahead 43-41% in the new campaign, but such a position is not altogether unusual. In the 2018 campaign, the last poll before the election actually projected Ms. Galvin to a slight one-point advantage. 


Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills/Scottsdale) represents a Republican suburban Phoenix district, but he is under investigation for allegedly misusing some of his government funds for political purposes. While the campaign here hasn’t yet drawn much national attention, his likely Democratic opponent, Dr. Hiral Tipirneni who ran in the 8th District special and general election during the last election cycle, has quietly raised well over $2 million and is reporting more than $1.6 million cash-on-hand. This race will become competitive and is an upset possibility.


In a developing story, Rep. Steve Watkins* (R-Topeka) has been indicted on three counts of felony vote fraud from a previous election. Mr. Watkins is charged with registering to vote at a UPS postal center instead of a residence since he moved into the state to run for Congress. He then voted with that registration, which caused an additional violation. Rep. Watkins is already in a competitive Republican primary with state Treasurer Jake LaTurner among others, so the August 4 nomination election certainly includes a new twist. Late last night in a rare move, Kansas Rep. Ron Estes* endorsed Jake LaTurner against a member of his colleague.


Democratic pollster Global Strategy Group, surveying for the Kathleen Williams campaign (6/24-28; 500 MT likely general election voters), finds both Ms. Williams (D) and State Auditor Matt Rosendale (R) in a dead heat tie at 47% apiece for Montana’s at-large open congressional seat. This survey, however, disagrees with last week’s University of Montana data (6/17-26; 517 MT registered voters) that posted Mr. Rosendale to a relatively strong 45-37% advantage.


Nebraska’s 2nd District becomes one of the more important CDs in 2020 because of its effect upon the presidential race. Nebraska and Maine are the two states that split their electoral votes, so a candidate winning a district opposite of the statewide count earns an extra EV. The new Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll (6/30-7/5; 502 NE-2 likely general election voters) conducted for the Kara Eastman campaign actually gives their client and 2018 Democratic nominee a 50-49% lead over incumbent Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillion/Omaha) in a race that again promises to be tight. 
The presidential numbers are much different, however. GQR finds Joe Biden leading President Donald Trump, 51-44%. Such a result would not likely flip Nebraska to the Biden camp, but could possibly deliver him an important extra electoral vote, one that could conceivably cause a tie in the Electoral College in a close national result.


With absentee ballots finally being counted and reported in New York after the state’s primary on June 23, one race has already changed from the early tabulated votes. Late last week, 2018 Democratic nominee Perry Gershon, who held Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) to a 51-47% re-election victory, conceded defeat in this year’s Democratic primary. The surprise winner, by just over 600 votes, is college professor Nancy Goroff who will now advance into the general election. Rep. Zeldin is favored for re-election.


A new Public Opinion Strategies survey (7/11-14; 400 PA-1 likely general election voters) projects two-term Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick* (R-Levittown) to be holding a substantial 53-39% advantage. The poll is surprising in that it contradicts the tight numbers that earlier post-primary polling revealed. Furthermore, Mr. Fitzpatrick’s rather weak 63% performance in the June 23 Republican primary also lend credence to the surveys that find his contest with Democratic nominee Christina Finello as falling into toss-up mode. 


In another primary election that took a week to decide, former US Foreign Service officer Blake Moore has won the Republican primary to succeed the retiring Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Brigham City) in the state’s northernmost congressional district. Mr. Moore looks to have scored an unofficial 31-29% win over Davis County Commissioner Bob Stevenson, a vote spread of 2,872 votes of approximately 126,000 votes cast. The Democrats may have a nominee as Shoshone Tribe chairman Daniel Parry appears to have logged a 454 vote win against party activist Jamie Cheek. The Democratic turnout was under 23,000 voters. Mr. Moore now becomes a virtual sure winner in November.


The state Board of Elections, on a 2-1 vote, will allow both 5th District Republican convention winner Bob Good and 7th District convention candidate Nick Freitas ballot position despite them missing the candidate filing deadline. The 5th District now officially features Mr. Good, who defeated freshman Rep. Denver Riggleman* (R-Manassas) for re-nomination in the district convention, against Charlottesville physician Cameron Webb who won the Democratic primary. Mr. Freitas will now be able to compete in the 7th District nominating convention scheduled for July 18. The winner of that contest faces freshman Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Glen Allen). 

Gubernatorial Races


The close Republican nomination contest between Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and former Governor and ex-US Ambassador Jon Huntsman has ended with the former man scoring a close 7,330 vote victory, a 36.4 – 34.6 percentage margin of well over 520,000 votes cast. Mr. Cox now faces Democratic nominee Chris Peterson in the open general election, with the Lt. Governor being an overwhelming favorite to win the November vote. The 520,000+ votes is a turnout increase of 127% over the 2016 Republican primary voter participation figure.

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