On Monday, we focus on governors' races.
Alabama: Apparently, former US Attorney General and Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions realizes he is not getting back in President Trump’s good graces after the latter man reiterated his strong support for retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville in the upcoming Republican Senate runoff election scheduled for July 14th. Mr. Sessions tweeted a response to President Trump that the law required his recusal from the Mueller investigation and that he (Trump) should be grateful the rule of law was preserved; action, Sessions contended, principally responsible for the President being exonerated in the Russia investigation.
Previously, Mr. Sessions was attempting to emphasize the positive aspects of his stormy relationship with the President, but that was clearly not translating into a rise in his polling numbers. According to the latest surveys, Mr. Tuberville still maintains a strong lead in the runoff election. The winner faces Sen. Doug Jones (D) in the Fall.
Arizona: The HighGround Consulting firm poll (5/18-22; 400 AZ likely general election voters) released earlier this week that projected former Vice President Joe Biden to be running ahead of President Trump by less than two percentage points sees consensus Democratic candidate Mark Kelly, the retired astronaut, leading appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R), 51-41%. Polling has consistently shown Kelly with an advantage, and now his edge is regularly reported as being well beyond the polling margin of error.
Kansas: State Senate President Susan Wagle (R-Wichita) ended her US Senate campaign yesterday. State Republican Party chairman Mike Kuckelman had asked all candidates but Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Great Bend) to leave the race in order not to split the primary vote. A crowded field situation theoretically would make it easier for former Secretary of State and failed 2018 gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach to therefore win the Senate nomination with plurality support.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee released a new Kansas poll (5/17-19; 506 KS likely general election voters) pairing both Rep. Marshall and Mr. Kobach individually against consensus Democratic candidate Barbara Bollier, a party-switching state Senator and physician who represents the Mission Hills area. The data finds Rep. Marshall leading Sen. Bollier, 46-35%, which is a typical range for a Kansas Senate race at this point in the election cycle. With Kris Kobach as the hypothetical nominee, the contest changes. He would hold only a slight 44-43% edge over Sen. Bollier.
Maine: A new entry into the polling scene, Victory Geek, released a new Maine Senate survey (5/13-18; 512 ME registered voters via interactive response device; 100 person Democratic voter over-sample) that finds former state House Speaker Sara Gideon (D) opening up a larger lead over Sen. Susan Collins (R), 51-42%, while Democratic candidate Elizabeth Sweet only musters a one point edge. There is no question that Ms. Gideon will be the Democratic nominee, so the data pairing Ms. Sweet with Sen. Collins is largely irrelevant. The idea that Sen. Collins is behind has become a recent pattern in recently released research, but whether such a trend holds for the long term remains to be seen.
South Carolina: A new poll from the progressive left research firm Civiqs (5/23-26; 591 SC registered voters) sees Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) falling into a 42-42% tie with former South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison, who has already raised over $15 million for his race. Even in the poll analysis, however, the point is made that Sen. Graham is lagging a bit with Trump Republicans, a group in which he should be able to recover support. While the President maintains a ten-point advantage over Joe Biden within the overall sampling universe and has a 93% loyalty factor among Republicans, Sen. Graham commands only 78% support from the same partisan cell segment.
Perhaps Sen. Graham’s biggest negative, according to this poll, are his unfavorable approval ratings. His index is a poor 35:56% favorable to unfavorable, similar to former Vice President Biden’s 35:59%. Conversely, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) scores 48:30%, President Trump records a 51:47% ratio, and former UN Ambassador and ex-South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R) posts a 56:33% approval ratio. While the turnout model favors Sen. Graham in the general election, it is clear that this race is becoming more competitive.
TX-4: President Trump’s nomination of former Texas Congressman John Ratcliffe (R-Heath/ Rockwall) as Director of US Intelligence has led to a 4th Congressional District Republican Party convention gathering in early August to choose a replacement general election nominee. The convention winner advances into the general election and then will take the seat in the next Congress. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has already announced that he will not call a special election to fill the balance of the current term.
The district convention, scheduled for August 8th as previously reported, will only feature 158 voting precinct chairs from throughout the district’s 16 whole and two partial counties. Candidates will be nominated at the convention, so there is no filing period. Therefore, various individuals announcing their candidacies carries no particular significance other than to inform the precinct chairmen they want to be considered for nomination. Additionally, the 158-voting number is set because a quirk in the party rules won’t allow the many vacant precinct slots to be filled prior to the vote.
Apparently, Democrats are weighing the option of filing a lawsuit to declare the convention process unconstitutional under US law or the state of Texas. Doing so, and if successful, could mean the Republican Party would have no avenue of replacing Mr. Ratcliffe for the general election, meaning Democratic nominee Russell Foster, chosen in the March 3rd regular primary election vote, would face only Libertarian Party candidate Lou Antonelli in what is a 75% Trump district. Much remains to occur here before we see who emerges as Mr. Ratcliffe’s successor.
UT-4: Y2 Analytics, polling for the Utah Policy Center and KUTV Channel 2, finds former NFL football player and Utah businessman Burgess Owens leading the Republican field for the June 30th primary election. The poll, however, has a high error rate of over 8% because the sample segment, 148 likely Republican primary voters drawn from a statewide general election sample of 1,099 Utah likely voters, is extremely small. That being said, Mr. Owens leads former radio talk show host Jay Mcfarland, state Rep. Kim Coleman (R-West Jordan), and banker Trent Christensen, 36-28-23-13%, respectively.The eventual Republican nominee faces freshman Rep. Ben McAdams (D-Salt Lake City) in the general election.