Kentucky Senate Races Remains Quite Stable; Grimes(D) Holding

Published by:

It has been a month since I last updated the Kentucky Senate model. The result? A race that looks incredibly stable. A month ago, I had Grimes(D) narrowly ahead by 0.4%. Today, I still have her up by a similar 0.2%. Unlike, say, that Georgia Governor race that has been dramatically shifting over the last month, this race hasn’t moved much at all as both sides are dug in. At the moment, I only have about 4% of voters as being truly uncommitted. Like Georgia, the fact that we’re even talking about this race 99 days until the election is great news for Democrats. If Grimes ends up wining here, that map to 51 is incredibly challenging for the GOP. The best news for Grimes is that she’s already in the mid to upper 40s in three of my model prongs, ranging from 46-48% in those lines. McConnell, meanwhile, remains stuck in the 45-46% range in those lines. His saving grace? The election day forecast prong is pushing many of those undecideds heavily into his camp, predicting they will “come home” to the conservative candidate in the conservative state. That said, the closer we get to election day, and the longer Grimes is holding her own or even ahead in those other three model lines, the better looking she’ll be. This one still looks like a stellar race…

Kentucky Senate Model: Grimes(D) +0.2%

Kentucky Senate Rating: Toss-Up

South Carolina Gov Moves from “Leans GOP” to “Safe GOP”

Published by:

Nikki Haley(R) now appears to be cruising toward re-election. She had a closer contest than predicted in 2010, but her re-election bid seems to be going well. While a few pollsters still have her up in the 3-4% range, many others have her up in the mid-teens. What is apparent is that there are no indications she’s on track to lose this race. There has not been a lot of data in this race until this last month, but now that there is, Haley is rather clearly hitting 50% or more in all model prongs. Overall, I have her up 10.2% with less than 100 days to go. Her prong range is from 50-53% while her Democrat opponent Vincent Sheheen, is stuck in the 40-42% range. Thus, even if Sheheen were to close well and make it more competitive, it still seems doubtful he’ll do much better than the slight surprise of a 4% or so margin that he achieved in 2010.

Carter(D) Moves Ahead in GA Gov Race for First Time

Published by:

For the first time, Jason Carter has taken a lead in the Georgia Governor model. Carter had been chipping away at incumbent Governor Nathan Deal for the last few weeks. Ten days ago, Carter was behind by 1.5%, his closest margin yet. Today, the race has taken a pretty big shift in its central measures, moving to a Carter +0.5% lead. When races with as much data as this one move 2.0% in one model run, it likely indicates a changing dynamic to the race. In this case, it solidifies what the model has been showing for the last few weeks: this race has officially narrowed as Carter’s numbers now appear to be very real.

Perhaps most interesting, the last two pollsters in the field, Rasmussen and Landmark, now both show Carter doing a better job against Deal than Nunn against Perdue. For now, I still have Nunn up 1.0%, but Carter’s momentum has continued while Nunn’s has stalled or is perhaps receding. Give it a few more weeks on the Senate race.

The good news for Deal is that the dynamics of the state still lean in his favor. Additionally, there are a whole bunch of undecided and weak lean voters out there, meaning this race remains well up in the air. I currently have Carter up 43.6% to Deal’s 43.1%. In the overall model prongs, Carter is mostly in the 43-45% range; Deal in the 43-44% range. Hence, both candidates are long away from the upper 40s, neither getting above 45% in the model yet. This one is sure worth watching, but Carter has appears well placed to compete against Deal now that we’re within 100 days of the election.

Georgia Governor Rating: Toss-Up

Georgia Margin: Carter(D) +0.5%

First Post-Primary Model Shows Perdue(R) Taking Back GA Model Lead

Published by:

I wrote earlier this week that Perdue starts as a better looking candidate against Nunn, at least based on the numbers. We’ll see how he does head to head with Nunn now that the primary is over. The final pre-primary model showed Nunn up 2.0% on Kingston but a smaller 0.6% against Perdue. Today, Rasmussen is the first pollster out with post-primary numbers and they find Perdue up a large 6%, 46-40. That’s quite a swing from a 3% lead they had for Nunn back in May. Overall, there’s good news/bad news here for Nunn. The bad news is obvious: a 9-pt swing from a pollster is never a good thing. The good news is that quick polls post-primary are often high points for the winning candidate. Just like a President gets a bounce post-VP and post-Convention most years, Senate candidates often get a bounce post-primary. In Georgia, all the attention has been on Perdue and Kingston for weeks. Perdue gets a free chance to speak on the 11pm news upon his victory, gets free coverage the next day, etc. Thus, we’ll have to wait a few weeks to see how this settles. Comparatively, Thom Tillis got a nice bounce post-primary in North Carolina, but that has since disappeared.

For now though, these are good first signs for the GOP in Georgia. Initially at least, they’ve picked the stronger candidate. That said, Georgia is an ever growing purple state. Now it’s on to see whether Nunn or Perdue is the better campaigner. Nunn still needs to do a better job that Perdue as the dynamics of the state are slightly against her, but this race still appears well within reach for her. With that, the Georgia model moves from a 0.6% margin for Nunn two weeks ago to a 0.4% margin for Perdue today. Thus, this race surely remains a Toss-Up, though the “if you forced me to push a Toss-Up” predictions now place the Senate back at 50-50. The close year continues…

Georgia Senate Rating: Toss-Up

Georgia Model: Perdue(R) +0.4%

Senate State of the Race: A Quiet July; A Senate Up In the Air

Published by:

It’s been about six weeks since I wrote up a full analysis on the “State of the Race.” Six weeks later, not much has changed.

At the start of June, I had six races that were a Toss-Up: AK, AR, NC, LA, GA, KY. Guess what? I still have all six races as a Toss-Up. In addition, I now have two more: CO and IA. I’ll get to those in a bit, but overall, the dynamics in these races have stayed pretty stable. We’ve yet to have a Todd Akin or a Christine O’Donnell surprise at the Senate level. David Perdue pulling off the victory this week in the GA GOP Senate Primary was perhaps a mild surprise, though there’s a reason I don’t bother modeling primary polls. While he starts as a seemingly stronger candidate against Nunn than Kingston, it’s not glaringly so. We’ll also see how he holds up as a candidate. But more on that in a moment…

Continue reading

Wisconsin Gov Moves From “Leans GOP” to “Toss-Up”

Published by:

Scott Walker may have to put a hold on that 2016 Presidential conversation. He’s going to have to win his bid for re-election first.

For the full cycle so far, Scott Walker has been narrowly, but surely, ahead. But, as the numbers have come in over the last few months, that lead has been narrowing. Today, the race moves from a “Leans GOP” seat to a Toss-Up. It’s been about two months since the last bit of good data from the state and today, for the first time out of the last 8 major polls, a pollster has challenger Mary Burke ahead, 47-46%. Marquette University shows Burke at 47% to Walker’s 46%, a close race. Still, that’s an improvement for Burke from Marquette’s May poll that showed her down 48-45.

Walker still has several advantages. Rather simply put, he’s still been ahead in 5 of the last 8 polls while this is the first time Burke has been shown leading, albeit by a point. (Two of the other polls have shown a tie). Additionally, Walker is hanging out at about 48% in all the model prongs. That’s quite a high number with a few months to go, meaning he may not have to close many of those remaining voters to still be victorious. Yet, there are two things going for Burke. First, the trend lines have been in her favor. If she keeps the same progression, she may pull this race to even or better. Additionally, she herself is already at about 45-47% in the model prong range. For a race that’s more than three months away, this would imply that both sides are likely pretty dug in, a likely indication this race is close and will stay close.

Thus, the shift in the Wisconsin model rating today. Burke has closed Walker’s lead from 3.2% to 2.4% and trails him by as little as 1% in one part of my model. (She’s down by as much as 3.6% in another prong.) Furthermore, the data here is a bit stale, so I’d love to see more new data from the state to see if this is indeed a trend. So, chalk another Governor match into the Toss-Up category. What a close year…

Wisconsin Gov Model: Moves from “Leans GOP” to “Toss-Up”

Model: Walker +2.4% – 47.9% to 45.5% 

North Carolina Senate Remains a Toss-Up; But Hagan Has a Good Month

Published by:

Has Kay Hagan had a good month in the NC Senate Model? Yes. Have the fundamentals of the race changed? No.

It’s been a month since I had data to update the NC Senate model. At the time, Hagan was up a very narrow 1.o%. Today, she hits a new high of 2.4%. Additionally, she’s up 3-4% in a few of the model prongs. It’s clearly been a few good weeks for her. Tillis remains an unpopular alternative. He’s tied to a very unpopular state legislature where he’s the leader of the State House. Sound familiar? Leaders of unpopular bodies have their work cut out for them, ask Eric Cantor. Ask Mitch McConnell. Ask Harry Reid (2010), who would’ve lost if Sharon Angle was not one of the worst major candidates of the last few cycles…and that’s saying something. So, if Tillis is not a great candidate, why hasn’t Hagan put this away? She’s terribly unpopular herself and she’s running in a still-right leaning state.

Hagan has had some great data points as the last three polls have her up 5-7%. But that’s a rosy glass. Why? In all of those polls, the 3rd Party candidate is getting 8-11%. That’s highly unlikely to happen come election day, especially if he doesn’t make it into the debates. Haugh, a Libertarian, is not some well-funded outsider. Instead, he’s just a regular guy who won a mostly non-competitive 3rd party primary. Essentially, that 8-11% of the vote is a vote for “none of the above,” at the moment. But, many of those voters are heavily right leaning. When it comes down to it, they’re likely to end up voting for Tillis or staying home. Sure enough, that’s why, when you see head to head numbers, Hagan drops back down to low single digits. Additionally, her biggest problem is, even in her most favorable model prong, I currently have her still stuck at 46%. Overall, without pushing weak leans and undecided voters, I have her closer to the 43% mark. That’s an icky place to be for an Incumbent in a state that’s not going to “come home” for you in the same way that Pat Quinn ended up pulling it out as a terribly unpopular Democrat governor in a Democrat-friendly Illinois who surged beyond the polling. Thus, Hagan is doing better than she should be and may be able to pull it out, despite the amazing war chest of money that has been spent against her. (For those of you who live in the state, like myself, the ads have been running non-stop for as long as I can remember.)

So, a better GOP candidate could have taken this race. Though, based on who they fielded in the primary, there were no good GOP candidates. Hagan may yet win this race, but, if she does, it will be because enough voters “didn’t like the other guy.”

NC Senate Rating: Toss-Up

Model Margin: Hagan(D) +2.4% 

Iowa Senate Holding as a Toss-Up

Published by:

The Iowa Senate model has been pretty stable as of late. Last week, Braley(D) was up a narrow 2.9%. This week? 2.8%. A few things stand out in this race:

1) The race appears to remain close. The largest lead anyone has shown in a poll in the last few months is a 6% lead from PPP polls, and that was in May. Otherwise, pollsters have shown both candidates being ahead.

2) While the race is close, the underlying numbers continue to imply a slight Braley lead, just not one large enough for me to confidently say he’ll win this race come November.

3) All of my model prongs are showing between a 2-3% lead for Braley. That consistency is good for him. I’ve never had a candidate consistently up by those margins that actually lost, but that’s when it’s a final election day prediction, and…

4) It’s not election day. The bad news for Braley? There’s a lot of play left in this race. I generally have him tapped out in the 45-46% range. Thus, he’s got work to do to really pull this race out of the Toss-Up category.

5) The other good news for him in the race? The dynamics of the state are still in his favor, slightly. So, if forced, yes, I’d say this is less a Toss-Up than other races, but this race has a lot of life left in it.

Iowa Senate Rating: Toss-Up

Model Margin: Braley(D) +2.8%

Maine Gov Moves from “Leans Dem” to “Toss-Up”

Published by:

The Maine Governor race likely should have been a “Toss-Up” all along, but that’s where I’m moving it officially today. Pollsters are mostly unanimous in showing a small Michaud(D) lead, but that lead indeed has mostly been quite small. The consistent trend of those numbers supports a number like what the Model is showing: Michaud +2.8%. A number like that would demonstrate a race that could still be won by the other party but is more of a “Toss-Up Leaning Dem” than a pure “Toss-Up.” That said, there are a lot of weeds here.

First, this is a three-man race. What is clear is that the Incumbent, Tea Party favorite Paul LePage is not a popular guy with most of the electorate. Yet, at the moment, he doesn’t need to be as Eliot Cutler(I) is running once again as an Independent. Cutler nearly shocked all pollsters in 2010 as he far out performed what polls were showing. That’s counter to what normally happens. Most of the time when you see a 3rd Party (or no party) candidate getting a decent amount of support in the polls, that number dwindles come election day when voters decide to throw their weight behind whichever major candidate they find the lesser of two evils. They look at the race and say, “I really want to vote for Option C, but to avoid Option B, I’ll pick A.” In 2010, Cutler surged beyond what the polls were showing, barely losing to LePage and pulling over 35%. Meanwhile, the Dem candidate failed to register as many moderates and left-leaning folks in the state ended up pulling the lever for the Independent. That alone makes this race a wild card that, frankly, I don’t want to make a prediction in. That said, with data points this close, a Toss-Up is the best categorization of the race as it is.

Cutler is hanging out in the upper teens at this point, though that has been on the decline as the year goes by. That might indicate that the 60% of the state that doesn’t want LePage to still be in office has decided to get more behind the Democrat this time. That said, if Cutler really pulls 15-20%, that becomes a narrow victory for Michaud(D) if LePage is still able to pull in the mid-upper 30s, which seems to be his current base of conservative support. Thus, this race is going to come down to whether Michaud is able to wrap up those voters or whether they still want to vote for the (I), risking a loss to LePage, again. The other big wildcard here is, though Cutler seems to be on the decline this year (and this is not a surprise as Independents often do worse the second time they run), he did not surge last election until October. So, much can change in this race. Though Michaud looks to be in okay position, he’s stuck at 40%. Thus, I think it’s fair to say “Leans Dem” is much too strong of a rating when no candidate seems destined to win this race with the normal 50% total. This one is a doozey.

Maine Governor Rating: Moves from “Leans Dem” to “Toss-Up”

Model Margin: Michaud(D) +2.8%

Nunn Continues to Hold in GA Sen

Published by:

A week ago, I posted that Nunn continued to maintain a +1.8% margin in the Georgia Model, unchanged from mid-June to mid-July. Another week closer to the election and the numbers remain steady there, though she has ticked up ever so slightly, reaching a new high of a 2.0% margin. That is still certainly close enough for me to consider the race a Toss-Up, especially with the GOP primary up in the air. Let me break down some of the dynamics:

A new Landmark Poll out of the state has Nunn up a large 8%, 49-41% over Kingston. (I’m still modeling Kingston as he’s always been ahead in run off polling- he faces Perdue in tomorrow’s GOP Primary Run Off.) Those numbers do seem awfully high for Nunn compared to the other data points out there, but it still remains a strong data point for her. Additionally, this is a huge swing from Landmark’s last Georgia poll a few months ago that had Kingston up 1%. This poll stands out all the more at being a bit rosy for Democrats because the same sample showed Carter also up 8% in the Governor’s race, a number that’s even more of an outlier. Still, Nunn has been ahead or tied now in seven of the last eight polls.

The model prongs are pretty diverged in this race though, making it a bit messy at the moment. I have Nunn up anywhere from 2-6% in the four model prongs, though the overall model is coming out on the far low end of that, right at 2.0%. The reason for that is partly to do with several good pollsters showing the race a tie or that one poll showing Kingston ahead by a few points. The other factor, and the one of concern for Nunn, is that there are many undecideds and weak leans left in this race. It’s a good news/bad news picture for her in that both candidates are struggling to get out of the mid-40s. The bad news for her: Before pushing the weak leans and undecideds, I have her at 45.9%, leaving Kingston plenty of room to squeeze out a victory. Furthermore, there are many indications that he’s likely to pick up a few points based on the still conservative bent of the state, coupled with the underlying data of who remains as those ‘undecideds’ or ‘weak leans.’ The good news for Nunn? Kingston is stuck just below 42% before I push those weak leans and undecideds, meaning he’s going to have to thread that needle pretty tight to make up that ground, based on the current numbers. After I push those remaining voters, Kingston picks up a few points but still trails by that 2.0%.

A candidate has to hit 50% in the general to avoid a run-off in January, something Nunn will likely need to do if she wants to win here as Dems have rarely faired well in that later run off. Thus, there’s a lot of play left in this race. While it’s good for a de facto challenger (the GOP holds the seat in a GOP-leaning state) to be ahead, I probably won’t feel too confident about Nunn until she starts hitting at least 47-48% in my model.  So, we’ll take this one a week at a time to see how this race closes in the last 3+ months. That said, the fact that a Dem is looking so competitive to GA this close to the election is good for Democrats, no matter the final outcome.