AGC PAC Advocate

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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:

* denotes that the candidate received a contribution from AGC PAC this election cycle. 

AGC PAC Update

To date, AGC PAC has raised $813,500 this election cycle, which accounts for 81% of our $1 million goal. We're working hard to identify pro-construction candidates, and have so far contributed to 134 US House and 14 US Senate campaigns.

Visit advocacy.agc.org/PACmap to view a state-by-state list of candidates that have received support from AGC PAC. 

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Supreme Politics

President Donald Trump’s choice of US Circuit Judge of the DC Court of Appeals Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy will likely fundamentally change the 2018 Senate election cycle.

With Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) already publicly indicating that he is planning to keep the Senate working through August, the Supreme Court confirmation process now guarantees such will happen. With majority Republicans having leverage over the confirmation hearings and vote schedule, we can expect a great deal of politics will be accompanying the legal rhetoric that awaits us during the remaining summer months.

The Senate political map helps Judge Kavanaugh in his confirmation battle. Both sides will mount crushing pressure on those members perceived as swing votes, and the eventual targets will be backed into such a position where it will be impossible to avoid political damage once their eventual vote is cast.

The three Democrats who supported Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch when he was confirmed on April 7, 2017: Sens. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Joe Manchin (D-WV), will naturally be the top targets for this confirmation battle and there is a strong chance that each will also vote for Judge Kavanaugh. Already trapped in tough re-election battles, these Senators will be hard-pressed by both sides pushing them to vote for or against Kavanaugh, but considering their respective states voted for President Trump in margins of 19 points (IN), 36 (ND), and 43 (WV) percentage points suggests the density of pressure to support the nominee will overwhelm the opposition.

After the announcement, Sen. Manchin issued a statement saying he is particularly interested about Judge Kavanaugh’s position on healthcare issues, especially those affecting people with pre-existing conditions as they relate to healthcare insurance coverage. Sen. Manchin says over 800,000 people in his state of West Virginia fall into this category.

But, the aforementioned are not alone. Seven other Democrats on the 2018 ballot come from states that the President carried, including Montana (Sen. Jon Tester) and Missouri (Sen. Claire McCaskill) where the respective 20-point and 19-point Trump victory margins were obviously substantial.

The President’s margin was much less in one other state, Ohio (8-points; Sen. Sherrod Brown), and only a slight plurality in Florida (1-point; Sen. Bill Nelson), Michigan (1-point; Sen. Debbie Stabenow), Pennsylvania (1-point; Sen. Bob Casey Jr.), and Wisconsin (1-point; Sen. Tammy Baldwin).

Among five Democratic Senators who publicly stated they will oppose the Kavanaugh nomination post-announcement, in addition to the party leadership, is Pennsylvania Sen. Casey who is from one of the states Mr. Trump carried with a plurality. Two more are members of the confirming Senate Judiciary Committee, Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ).

Another pair who can expect extreme pressure from both sides are the new Democratic Senators: Doug Jones, who won the 2017 Alabama special election to replace Attorney General and former Sen. Jeff Sessions (R), and appointed Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith (D), who is resigned Sen. Al Franken’s (D) replacement. Sen. Jones, however, is not on the 2018 election ballot. He next comes before the voters in 2020.

The body’s other new Senator, appointed Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith* of Mississippi, can be expected to support the nominee. She, too, will be on the ballot later this year and comes from a state that Mr. Trump won with an 18-point margin. 

The lone Republican on the ballot from a contested state is Nevada Sen. Dean Heller*. Obviously, the two other Republicans who will receive intense pressure are Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins of Maine. 

In addition to healthcare, abortion, and free speech issues, we can expect concentrated lobbying over gun control. How the persuasion campaign and the eventual responses to such unfold will greatly impact the fall Senate campaigns and may be determinative in more than one political situation.

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Senate: 13 Interesting Polls

The Survey Monkey organization polling for the Axios Media news and information website went into the field during the June 11 – July 2 period to test US Senate campaigns in 13 different states. All of the most competitive races were studied, including the 10 Trump states where a Democratic Senator is standing for re-election this year. 

The cumulative result actually brings some good news to both parties, but Republicans fare better because the representative predictive models suggest the GOP is in position for a net gain of at least one seat even while falling behind in their two key defense states of Arizona and Nevada.

There are several bright spots for both parties. Democrats fare better on the question of voter enthusiasm, which is consistent with data results recorded in virtually every poll conducted over the past year. Regarding intent to vote across the board in these Survey Monkey polls, however, both parties record about equal numbers. Overall, President Trump’s job approval scores have greatly improved. Looking at the combined 13-state universe, the President scored a 50:49% job approval ratio, going from a high of 60:39% in Tennessee, to a low of 44:55% in Pennsylvania. But, even his lowest rating is an improvement from where he stood earlier in the election cycle.

According to the SM numbers, Democrats are in position to convert both the Arizona and Nevada races. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) leads all three individuals competing in the Republican primary. Her strongest opponent, unsurprisingly, is US Rep. Martha McSally* (R-Tucson). In the various modeling scenarios, Ms. Sinema posts leads of between one and six percentage points over Rep. McSally and far greater margins over the other two GOP candidates.

In Nevada, Sen. Dean Heller* (R) again slightly trails US Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson) in a range of one to five points under all turnout models. Both the Arizona and Nevada spreads fall within the margin of polling error under most scenarios.

The bright spots for Republicans occur against three Democratic incumbents in North Dakota, Florida, and Indiana. In these three states, the Republican challengers lead Democratic Senators Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Bill Nelson (FL), and Joe Donnelly (IN) under all turnout scenarios. 

Tennessee also produced very favorable Republican numbers and is a change from previous polling. While looking to be a competitive early race, and some studies even project Democratic former Gov. Phil Bredesen to be leading the contest, the Survey Monkey poll finds Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) leading well beyond the polling margin of error under all voting scenarios. Her advantage ranges from a low of 14 percentage points to a high of 19 points.

For Democrats, the biggest positive change comes in West Virginia where incumbent Joe Manchin is staked to leads ranging from 11 to 16 percentage points over Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R).

The Democratic incumbents in Michigan (Debbie Stabenow), Montana (Jon Tester), Pennsylvania (Bob Casey Jr.), and Wisconsin (Tammy Baldwin) all have strong leads. The polls find each trending ahead by no less than nine percentage points (Stabenow, Tester, Casey) or 11 (in Sen. Baldwin’s case against Republican Kevin Nicholson). 

Only two states produce differing results based upon the most favorable Democratic and Republican turnout scenarios. The range spectrum is greatest in Missouri, where the turnout models suggest that both Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) and Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) could win by as many as five percentage points. 

Though the Ohio results are generally consistent for Sen. Sherrod Brown (D), and his current spread among registered voters equals the most favorable Democratic turnout model of eight percentage points, there is one scenario - under the most favorable Republican turnout model - where Rep. Jim Renacci* (R-Wadsworth) scores a one percentage point upset.

In the remaining 11 states the same individual leads under all turnout scenarios.

The results:

  • Arizona: Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) vs. Rep. Martha McSally* (R-Tucson)
    • Most likely voters: Sinema 51-45 
    • 2014 model: Sinema 49-47 
    • 2016 model: Sinema 47-46 
    • Most Dem Result: D+6 
    • Most R Result: D+1 
  • Florida: Sen. Bill Nelson (D) vs. Gov. Rick Scott (R)
    • Most likely voters: Scott 52-46 
    • 2014 model: Scott 53-44 
    • 2016 model: Scott 51-46 
    • Most Dem Result: R+3 
    • Most R Result: R+9 
  • Indiana: Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) vs. Ex-state Rep. Mike Braun* (R)
    • Most likely voters: Braun 49-48 
    • 2014 model: Braun 51-46 
    • 2016 model: Braun 51-46 
    • Most Dem Result: R+1 
    • Most R Result: R+8 
  • Michigan: Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) vs. Sandy Pensler (R)
    • Most likely voters: Stabenow 54-43 
    • 2014 model: Stabenow 53-42 
    • 2016 model: Stabenow 53-43 
    • Most Dem Result: D+12 
    • Most R Result: D+9 
  • Missouri: Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) vs. AG Josh Hawley (R)
    • Most likely voters: McCaskill 52-47 
    • 2014 model: Hawley 51-46 
    • 2016 model: Hawley 50-47 
    • Most Dem Result: D+5 
    • Most R Result: R+5 
  • Montana: Sen. Jon Tester (D) vs. Auditor Matt Rosendale (R)
    • Most likely voters: Tester 54-44 
    • 2014 model: Tester 54-44 
    • 2016 model: Tester 54-44 
    • Most Dem Result: D+13 
    • Most R Result: D+9 
  • Nevada: Sen. Dean Heller* (R) vs. Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson)
    • Most likely voters: Rosen 51-46 
    • 2014 model: Rosen 51-46 
    • 2016 model: Rosen 51-46 
    • Most Dem Result: D+5 
    • Most R Result: D+1 
  • North Dakota: Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) vs. Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck)
    • Most likely voters: Cramer 53-46 
    • 2014 model: Cramer 54-44 
    • 2016 model: Cramer 53-46 
    • Most Dem Result: R+5 
    • Most R Result: R+10 
  • Ohio: Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) vs. Rep. Jim Renacci* (R-Wadsworth)
    • Most likely voters: Brown 50-47 
    • 2014 model: 48-48 
    • 2016 model: Brown 49-47 
    • Most Dem Result: D+8 
    • Most R Result: R+1 
  • Pennsylvania: Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) vs. Rep. Lou Barletta* (R-Hazelton)
    • Most likely voters: Casey 55-44 
    • 2014 model: Casey 54-43 
    • 2016 model: Casey 53-43 
    • Most Dem Result: D+9 
    • Most R Result: D+15 
  • Tennessee: Ex-Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) vs. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R)
    • Most likely voters: Blackburn 57-40 
    • 2014 model: Blackburn 58-39 
    • 2016 model: Blackburn 58-39 
    • Most Dem Result: R+14 
    • Most R Result: R+19 
  • West Virginia: Sen. Joe Manchin (D) vs. AG Patrick Morrisey (R)
    • Most likely voters: Manchin 53-42 
    • 2014 model: Manchin 54-40 
    • 2016 model: Manchin 54-41 
    • Most Dem Result: D+16 
    • Most R Result: D+11 
  • Wisconsin: Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) vs. St. Sen. Leah Vukmir (R)
    • Most likely voters: Baldwin 58-40 
    • 2014 model: Baldwin 55-42 
    • 2016 model: Baldwin 56-42 
    • Most Dem Result: D+18 
    • Most R Result: D+13 

Back to the top. 

Gauging the Enthusiasm Gap

Much has been written over the past few elections cycles about voting enthusiasm and whether it is a predictive political factor. It has been seemingly apparent that the party members most interested in participating in an election, most particularly for a midterm or special election vote, generally see its candidates enjoy the greater success.

In the above post, we looked at the extensive Survey Monkey-Axios Media data that covered 13 US Senate races. The combined number of states also hosts a minimum of 15 competitive US House races. To re-cap, while the Survey Monkey analysts posted results under various turnout models in each of the tested states, it generally became clear about which candidate has the current advantage from the Senate contests in question.

Democrats were performing well in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions, where incumbents in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and West Virginia all held substantial leads over their Republican opponents. 

The GOP held the upper hand in Indiana and North Dakota challenge races. In the South, Republican Gov. Rick Scott looks to be topping Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, and US Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) has opened a substantial lead over Tennessee former Gov. Phil Bredesen.

Turning to the West, Democrats are moving ahead in both Arizona and Nevada and securely lead in Montana. 

The Missouri contest between Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) and Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) stretches from a five-point Democratic lead all the way to a five-point Republican advantage depending upon the turnout model.

The Survey Monkey pollsters tested voter enthusiasm in all 13 states. They asked the following question:
“What are the chances that you will vote in the November election for US Senate and other offices?”

The positive responses were: “absolutely certain to vote” and “will probably vote.” On the negative side, the choices were: “chances are 50-50”; “chances are less than 50-50”; and “will not vote.” Because the people participating in this online poll are part of 3,000,000 individuals who have agreed to answer polling questions from time to time, which would suggest these individuals are likely more motivated people, those answering with a negative response were very few.

Looking at the total responses, the voters most inclined to participate in the coming midterm election were from Montana, where 96% of the respondents said they were either “certain to” or “would probably” vote. Breaking into partisan segments, 88% of both Democratic and Republican sample cells said they were certain to vote. This compares with 74% of self-described Independents who also professed that casting their future vote is a certainty.

The lowest participation state of the tested 13 is Indiana, but still recording a certain or probable voting response of 80%. There, 84% of Republicans are certain or probable voters, as are 83% of Democrats. The Independent combined number falls substantially back at 62%.

Among Independents, who score much lower on the participation scale across the board, the most motivated cell within this universe are from Montana and North Dakota. Seventy-four percent of Independents from both of these states say they are certain to vote. The least motivated appear to be in Pennsylvania, where only 38% of Keystone State Independents say they are certain to vote.

While enthusiasm can be a determinative factor in who will or will not vote in coming elections, in these 13 states it appears that voters in both parties are almost equally motivated. While Republicans average one percentage point higher in the combined certain and probable categories, Democrats have a similar advantage among those who are most certain to vote.

Therefore, at least in these critical Senate states where enthusiasm is high for both parties, it doesn’t appear, according to this Survey Monkey data, that either side has a current discernible turnout advantage.

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Recapping the Opens

The special election of Republican Michael Cloud (R-Victoria) to fill the vacant southeast Texas district (TX-27; Farenthold resignation) reduced the total number of open House seats from 65 to 64. Within that group, 42 seats are currently Republican-held, 21 Democratic, and one seat is new, created by Pennsylvania redistricting and left open when Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) decided to run in a paired incumbent race with Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley) instead of opting for the new Republican-dominated western Pennsylvania CD-14. 

Among the 63 House members who have either passed away, resigned, lost their primaries, or are not seeking re-election, 23 chose to run for another office. Some of their political fates are decided, while others remain active campaigners. Today, we look at those who became candidates for other offices to report upon their current status.

  • Arizona 2 & 9: Reps. Martha McSally* (R-Tucson) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) are both running for the Senate and may oppose each other in the open general election. Rep. McSally is engaged in a three-way Republican primary that will be decided on August 28th. Rep. Sinema is the consensus Democratic Senate nominee. Polling shows Ms. McSally as the favorite to win the Republican nomination. Early general election pairings find Ms. Sinema leading the race from 7-11 points.
  • CO-2: Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulder) is leaving the House to run for Governor, and he defeated three Democratic opponents with 45% of the vote to win the party nomination on June 26th. He now advances into the general election where he opposes state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, who won the Republican nomination. An immediate post-primary Colorado Democratic Party poll (Public Policy Polling) gave Rep. Polis an early seven-point general election advantage.
  • FL-6: Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Palm Coast/Daytona Beach) is in the multi-candidate Florida gubernatorial primary and some polls project him to be running neck and neck with Agriculture Commissioner and former US Congressman Adam Putnam for the August 28 Republican primary. The general election is expected to be a toss-up campaign regardless of whom the two parties nominate.
  • HI-1: Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Honolulu), who gave up her House seat to run unsuccessfully for the party Senate nomination in 2014 and then returned to her previous position when her successor passed away, is again challenging a statewide incumbent. Rep. Hanabusa is now opposing first-term Democratic Gov. David Ige in the August 11 Democratic primary. Ms. Hanabusa is so far leading in all pre-primary polling.
  • ID-1: Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Eagle/Boise) left his House seat to enter the open Republican gubernatorial primary, but lost in the May 15th election. Mr. Labrador placed second in a pool of seven Republican candidates, losing to Lt. Gov. Brad Little, 37-32%. 
  • IN-4 & 6: Both Reps. Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg/Lafayette) and Luke Messer (R-Greensburg/Muncie) entered the US Senate primary hoping to challenge first-term Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) in the general election. Both, however, lost the Republican primary to former state Representative and national auto parts distribution company owner Mike Braun* in the May 8 Republican primary. The final primary result favored Mr. Braun, 41-30-29%, over Reps. Rokita and Messer, respectively.
  • MD-6: Rep. John Delaney (D-Potomac) announced he would not seek re-election in 2018 so that he could concentrate on building a 2020 presidential campaign. The Congressman is now visiting Iowa and New Hampshire to attempt to gain an initial foothold in the two states with the earliest presidential nominating venues.
  • MN 1, 5 & 8: Three of Minnesota’s five Democratic House members are running for another office, but none against each other. Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato) leaves the southern Minnesota 1st District to run for Governor. He lost the party nominating convention vote to state Rep. Erin Murphy (D-St. Paul), but now opposes she and Attorney General Lori Swanson in the August 14 Democratic primary. 
    • After the party nominating convention that saw Ms. Swanson lose the official endorsement for her re-election as Attorney General, she decided to pivot and entered the Governor’s primary. This opened the AG office, and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minneapolis) entered the race. He faces party endorsed candidate Matt Pelikan and three others in the August 14 primary contest.
    • Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Crosby/Duluth) had originally announced his retirement, but then Ms. Swanson asked him to join her gubernatorial campaign as her Lt. Governor running mate. His fate in the statewide election is tied to her performance. All three Democratic House members face competitive statewide primaries and general election battles should they advance into the November contest.
  • NV-3: Freshman Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson) is skipping her first re-election campaign and instead enters the US Senate contest to challenge Sen. Dean Heller* (R). Both she and Sen. Heller easily won their respective party nominations on June 12th. The latest Gravis Marketing poll gave Ms. Rosen a 45-41% general election lead. The Senate race is expected to remain as a toss-up campaign all the way to Election Day. 
  • NM-1 & 2: Reps. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-Albuquerque) and Steve Pearce (R-Hobbs) oppose each other in the open Governor’s race after both became their respective party nominees on June 5th. The first two post-primary polls staked Ms. Grisham to leads between 9-13 percentage points. 
  • ND-AL: After Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck) announced he would seek re-election, he suddenly decided to change course and pivoted into a Senate challenge of incumbent Heidi Heitkamp (D). Both won unanimous party convention support, which paved the way for easy June 5th nomination victories. The first post-primary poll actually places Rep. Cramer three points ahead of Sen. Heitkamp in what promises to be a hard fought general election. 
  • OH-16: After originally entering the Governor’s race, Rep. Jim Renacci* (R-Wadsworth) switched to the Senate race after the two leading gubernatorial candidates formed a Republican ticket, and US Senate candidate Josh Mandel ended his campaign due to his wife’s illness. Rep. Renacci won the May 8th statewide primary, and now faces two-term Sen. Sherrod Brown (D). Three June polls give Sen. Brown leads of between 13 and 17 percentage points.
  • PA-9: Rep. Lou Barletta* (R-Hazelton) leaves the House to challenge two-term Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D). After winning the statewide Republican primary with 63% of the vote, Rep. Barletta assumes the underdog position against Sen. Casey. Two June polls place the incumbent’s lead at 15 and 17 points.
  • SD-AL: Rep. Kristi Noem (R-Castlewood) became the first incumbent House member to announce her candidacy for a different office when she declared her intention to run for Governor shortly after the 2016 election. She defeated Attorney General Marty Jackley, 54-46%, in the June 5 open Republican gubernatorial primary, and now is a heavy favorite to defeat state Senate Minority Leader Billie Sutton in the general election.
  • TN-6 & 7: Reps. Diane Black (R-Gallatin) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) are both running statewide. Rep. Black is in a tight Republican primary race for the open Governor position – she leads in one poll and trails in another – while Ms. Blackburn is set for the party nomination. The latter Representative will face former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) in what is expected to be a competitive general election to replace retiring Sen. Bob Corker* (R). 
  • TX-16: Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) leaves the House after what will be three terms to challenge Sen. Ted Cruz* (R). Mr. O’Rourke defeated two Democrats in the March 6 primary with 62% of the vote, and the most recent general election polling shows him running seven to ten points behind Sen. Cruz. Voting history suggests the Senator’s eventual victory margin will be greater, however.
  • WV-3: Two-term Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-Huntington) entered the US Senate primary, but fell to Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, 35-29%, in the May 8 GOP nominating contest. AG Morrisey advances to challenge Sen. Joe Manchin (D) in the fall.

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Governors’ Ratings

A new set of Governors’ race ratings were released from the Governing website and while nine of the 36 campaigns are placed in the toss-up category, it is arguable that possibly two others could be added.

The Governors’ races are of note because, primarily, 2018 is a redistricting election, meaning the state chief executives elected this year, for the most part, will hold veto power when the new congressional and state legislature districts are re-drawn in 2021 following the impending 2020 national census.

Additionally, the two parties are in exact opposite positions in defending seats when comparing the Governors’ campaigns to those in the US Senate. While Democrats must risk and defend 26 Senate states, Republicans must protect the identical number of Governors’ mansions.

According to Governing, eight states are now in toss-up mode:

  • Alaska: Gov. Bill Walker (I); Party Primary, August 21
  • Colorado (Open): Treasurer Walker Stapleton (R) vs. Rep. Jared Polis (D) 
  • Connecticut (Open): Party Primary, August 14 
  • Florida (Open): Party Primary, August 28 
  • Iowa: Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) vs. Businessman Fred Hubbell (D) 
  • Michigan (Open): Party Primary, August 7 
  • Minnesota (Open): Party Primary, August 14 
  • Nevada (Open): Atty Gen Adam Laxalt (R) vs. Commissioner Steve Sisolak (D) 
  • Ohio (Open): Atty Gen Mike DeWine (R) vs. Ex-AG Richard Cordray (D) 

Generally, there is agreement that these races are toss-up campaigns - no better example than Florida where both parties are locked in virtually tied battles in their respective primaries and general election polling also lies clearly within the polling margin of error - but one could make a case for some difference.

Iowa Gov. Reynolds, while running for the position for the first time in her own right after ascending to the office when then-Gov. Terry Branstad (R) became US Ambassador to China, could be rated a slight favorite over businessman Hubbell who easily won the Democratic nomination.

Despite retiring Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D) having very poor job approval ratings, beginning the post-August 14 primary in a Lean D status might be a more accurate assessment based upon the state’s 21st Century voting history.

Two that could possibly be added to the toss-up category are Maine, where businessman Shawn Moody(R) demonstrated a stronger political base than appointed Attorney General Janet Mills (D) who was forced into an “instant run-off”, and Oklahoma where former Attorney General Drew Edmondsonclaimed the Democratic nomination outright on June 26, while Republicans were forced to an August 28 run-off election.

The remaining safe, likely R, likely D, and lean R, and Lean D races, all appear consistent with other rankings. Of note, while the Hawaii Governor’s contest is rated as Safe Democratic, incumbent Gov.David Ige (D) is in danger of losing the Democratic primary to Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Honolulu) on August 11.

In summary, the Governing ratings project (color indicates current party control): 

Screen Shot 2018-07-19 at 9.03.32 AM.png

Political Snippets from across the Country

US Senate Races

Nebraska: The Grassroots Targeting qualitative research organization yesterday released the results of their recent 1,000 person voter survey of the Nebraska electorate and found first-term Sen. Deb Fischer* (R) cruising to re-election. According to the GT results, Sen. Fischer would lead Lincoln City Councilwoman Jane Raybould (D) 63-28% if the election were held in the current time frame.

Nevada: The new Gravis Marketing Nevada poll (6/23-26; 630 NV likely general election voters) finds Democratic US Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson) taking a 45-41% lead over incumbent Sen. Dean Heller* (R) in one of the nation’s most critical US Senate races. The Survey Monkey, in its 13-state Senate study as described above (see Arizona Senate), finds Rep. Rosen to be holding a similar 48-45% edge with a ballot test range of between one and five percentage points depending upon various projected turnout models.

US House of Representatives Races

AL-2: Alabama voters went to the polls yesterday to settle run-off elections, and the only congressional race on the ballot featured a Republican contest in the state’s southeastern 2nd District. Rep. Martha Roby* (R-Montgomery), who fared poorly in the June 5 GOP primary in scoring only 39% of the vote against four opponents – a clear danger sign for any incumbent – rebounded to post a 68-32% victory over former one-term Rep. Bobby Bright, the man Ms. Roby unseated back in 2010. At the time, Mr. Bright served as a Democrat. He changed parties and entered the Republican primary to challenge Rep. Roby and forced a political re-match eight years after the original contest. Ms. Roby carried all 15 local entities last night, within a turnout of just over 71,000 voters.

CA-49: Democratic candidate Mike Levin released the results from his first campaign poll conducted in conjunction with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. In the San Diego/Orange County congressional seat that Republican Darrell Issa* (R-Vista) is vacating, the new Feldman Group poll (6/24-27; 400 CA-49 registered voters with an over-sample of 200 independents who are registered as “No Party Preference”) finds the poll sponsor leading Republican Board of Equalization member Diane Harkey (R) 44-41% in the first ballot test, and 49-46% when those leaning to both candidates are added to the sample. 

KS-2: The crowded August 7 Republican primary is approaching in the district from which five-term Rep.Lynn Jenkins (R-Topeka) is retiring. The Mellman Group chose one of the seven GOP contenders, state Sen. Steve Fitzgerald (R-Leavenworth), as a proposed general election opponent for former state House Minority Leader and 2014 gubernatorial nominee Paul Davis (D) in their latest poll (6/13-18; 600 KS-2 likely voters). In addition to Sen. Fitzgerald, a former state House Speaker, four sitting state legislators, a local official, and a defense contractor comprise the primary field.

According to the Mellman Group, a ballot test featuring Messrs. Davis and Fitzgerald would break 39-34% in Mr. Davis’ favor, but this is well before the general election campaign has developed. Democrats view this as a top open-seat conversion opportunity because Mr. Davis topped Gov. Sam Brownback(R) here by seven points in the last gubernatorial campaign. The fact that Mr. Davis doesn’t even reach 40% from a district he carried against the then-incumbent Republican Governor suggests, however, that the partisan trend could change quickly once the GOP nominates a candidate.

MI-13John Conyers III, who was disqualified from entering the August 7 Democratic congressional primary because he lacked a sufficient number of valid ballot petition signatures, will still apparently be present in the special and regular general elections to be held later this year. Mr. Conyers, and ten others are competing for the seat that Mr. Conyers’ father, former 27-term Congressman John Conyers (D-Detroit), resigned late last year. Though Mr. Conyers will not be competing in the special and regular Democratic primaries, he will enter the race as an Independent candidate.

NJ-2: New events in New Jersey’s open 2nd District have caused the National Republican Congressional Committee to back away from its endorsed nominee. Information coming into the public domain revealing past racist statements from Republican candidate Seth Grossman is precipitating the action. Democratic state Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May) has long been considered the favorite to replace retiring twelve-term incumbent Frank LoBiondo (R-Ventnor), so GOP chances of retaining this seat were slim at best even at the beginning of the campaign. 

NY-14: Amid a back-and-forth controversy between New York Rep. Joe Crowley* (D-Queens/Bronx) and the woman who defeated him in last month’s Democratic primary, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the prospect of a general election campaign between the two still remains. Though Mr. Crowley lost the Democratic primary, he won the Working Families Party nomination, which means he has ballot placement for the general election. Though being called upon by the Working Families leadership to resign from the ticket, Mr. Crowley has refused to do so, but still says he supports Ocasio-Cortez. Therefore, it is at least conceivable that we could see a re-match between the two in the general election.

NC-9: Baptist former pastor Mark Harris upset GOP Rep. Bob Pittenger* (R-Charlotte) in the May 8 Republican primary, but a new poll suggests the new party nominee is trailing as the candidates move toward the general election vote on November 6. The North Carolina-based Civitas Group, a conservative think tank that often sponsors polls of the Tar Heel State electorate, contracted with Survey USA to test the 9th Congressional District race. According to the poll (7/5-8; 543 NC-9 likely general election voters), businessman Dan McCready (D) has jumped out to a 43-36% lead over Mr. Harris. 

WI-1: Labor activist Randy Bryce (D) was raising millions of dollars when he was running against Speaker Paul Ryan* (R) before the latter man announced his retirement. Now, his cash-on-hand still reads over $2 million but that so far isn’t helping him as much in his Democratic primary battle with Janesville School Board member Cathy Myers. According to a just-released Remington Research poll, Ms. Myers has assumed a 34-33% lead as the two move closer to the August 14 Democratic primary. Republicans are sure to nominate University Regent Bryan Steil, a long associate of Speaker Ryan. The race is expected to generate strong competition in November.

Governors Races

Alabama: A just-released recent Atlantic Media & Research survey (6/12-14 & 6/18-21; 440 AL registered voters) finds Gov. Kay Ivey (R) jumping out to a major 53-28% general election lead over Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox (D). Both Gov. Ivey and Mayor Maddox won their respective Republican and Democratic Party nominations outright on June 5, so neither was forced into a July 17th run-off election. 

Alaska: Last week, the Alaska Research Service released polling numbers that found Gov. Bill Walker(I) falling well behind both Republican former state Sen. Mike Dunleavy and Democratic ex-US SenatorMark Begich. The ballot test showed Gov. Walker trailing in third place, 38-33-23%, behind both Dunleavy and Begich.

This week, the Governor released his own Patinkin Research Strategies poll (6/22-28; 800 AK likely general election voters), but his own survey actually confirms significant portions of the ARS poll. According to Patinkin, Mr. Dunleavy is also placed in the lead with 36%, followed by Gov. Walker attracting 28%, while Mr. Begich polls last at 22%. Later, Harstad Strategic Research conducted a survey for the Alaska AFL-CIO and also found Messrs. Walker and Begich alternating positions.

According to the Harstad results (6/21-26; 602 AK likely general election voters), Mr. Dunleavy holds a 32-28-28% lead over his two opponents. The polling also finds that both Walker and Begich would top Dunleavy in a one-on-one race, but there is no sign that either the Governor or ex-Senator will soon depart the campaign. So, unless something changes before the August 21st primary, the Alaska Governor’s race will feature three major candidates.

Arizona: An Arizona state court ruled in favor of the Arizona Republican Party, which challenged Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Kevin McCormick’s ballot petitions. The GOP argued, and the court agreed, that Mr. McCormick did not submit the legally required number of signatures to obtain ballot position. It is unclear if Mr. McCormick or the Libertarian Party will appeal the ruling. Republicans generally don’t want a Libertarian candidate on the ballot because they believe some conservative votes are diverted to such a contender instead of supporting the GOP nominee. First-term Gov. Doug Ducey(R) is seeking re-election. Though favored in November, this campaign could turn competitive.

Georgia: In the May 22 Georgia Republican primary, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp advanced into the July 24 run-off election. According to a Cygnal polling firm survey (6/26-27; 812 GA likely Republican run-off voters), the two candidates have lapsed into a dead heat with a month of campaign time remaining. Cygnal sees Lt. Gov. Cagle holding just a 44-43% edge over Secretary of State Kemp when leaners are included. In terms of defined support, Mr. Kemp holds an identical one-point lead, 27-26%. 

Louisiana: Speculation persists that US Senator John Kennedy (R) may enter next year’s gubernatorial primary to challenge first-term incumbent John Bel Edwards (D). To encourage even more conjecture and publicity, Sen. Kennedy’s political organization commissioned a new statewide Survey USA poll (6/19-22; 812 LA adults; 666 of whom are registered voters; 600 who voted in the 2016 presidential campaign). 

In a three-way contest among Gov. Edwards, Sen. Kennedy, and US Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto/Monroe), the two better-known office holders begin on even footing, and far ahead of the northern Louisiana Congressman. According to the S-USA data, Gov. Edwards and Sen. Kennedy would be tied at 35%, with Rep. Abraham badly trailing with 8% support. But, in a run-off between Gov. Edwards and Sen. Kennedy, which the first poll question suggests would happen, it is the Republican Senator who opens up a large lead, 51-37%.

Minnesota: Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research ran a survey of the upcoming August 14 Minnesota Democratic gubernatorial primary (6/25-27; 602 MN likely Democratic primary voters) and found Attorney General Lori Swanson leading the primary field of candidates with 37% when leaners are included. Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato) was second at 29%, and state Rep. Erin Murphy (D-St. Paul), the officially endorsed Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party candidate, is well back with only 17% support.

The eventual Democratic nominee will face either former Gov. Tim Pawlenty or Hennepin County Commissioner and officially endorsed Republican candidate Jeff Johnson in the general election. Gov.Mark Dayton (D) is retiring after serving two terms.

Wyoming: A new poll University of Wyoming poll for Wyoming Public Media and the Wyoming PBS outlet (6/18-20; 596 WY Republican voters) finds that any of the candidates can still win the August 21 GOP primary to succeed term-limited Governor Matt Mead (R). State Treasurer Mark Gordon places first with 19% of the vote, followed by businessman Sam Galeotos who polls 14%, while attorneyHarriet Hageman follows with 11%, and retired physician and former gubernatorial candidate Taylor Haynes has 10 percent. Billionaire investor Foster Friess is next with 7%, and businessman Bill Dahlinfollows with just 1% preference. 

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