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Weekly Political Synopsis - November 29, 2019

President

Michael Bloomberg: It is now clear that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is launching a serious campaign for the Presidency. Reports are surfacing that he is planning to spend over $31 million on media advertising in the Super Tuesday (March 3rd) states. The expenditure is higher than all of the other candidates’ media spending combined.

Mr. Bloomberg has filed in Alabama and Arkansas, the first two places to hold ballot qualifying deadlines, but he did not enter the New Hampshire primary. The Bloomberg effort apparently plans to skip at least three of the first four states in February to concentrate on the Super Tuesday nomination events. This type of strategy has not worked in the past, but we shall see if it proves successful for Mr. Bloomberg. Running national ads, as the Bloomberg campaign is starting, is also a dubious strategy because more than half the people viewing the ads are not eligible voters in the early states.

President Trump: Daily polls chart President Trump’s job approval rating, and his numbers generally fall within consistent ranges when comparing the research. A huge disparity arose among two survey firms early this week, however, even though the studies were conducted during the same period, 11/17-20, and employed similar sample sizes (992 registered voters and 1,092 registered voters). Yet, the American Research Group and Emerson College couldn’t be further apart.

While ARG (with the smaller sampling group) sees that the President’s job performance is upside down in a major 36:61% ratio, Emerson College, on the other hand, actually finds him treading slightly in a positive realm, 48:47%. This again illustrates that polls can be very inconsistent, and the types of questions included and the way they are asked matter greatly when analyzing the results.

Quinnipiac University Poll: Quinnipiac University launched one of their national Q-Polls and found, for the first time, that South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has moved past the rest of the field to claim second place behind only former Vice President Joe Biden. Previously, his move forward had been confined to Iowa, and somewhat in New Hampshire and California.

The most recently released Q-Poll (11/21-25; 574 US registered or self-identified Democratic primary voters), sees Mr. Biden leading the pack with 24% followed by Buttigieg at 16, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 14%, while Sen. Bernie Sanders pulls 13% support. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris, along with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, all trail with 3% apiece.

The Morning Consult track, however, sees things much differently. Their data (11/21-24; 8,102 US likely Democratic primary voters; online) projects Mayor Buttigieg as still landing in the high single digits. The MC ballot test gives Mr. Biden a 30-21-15-9% advantage over Sens. Sanders and Warren, with Buttigieg lagging substantially behind as before.

New Hampshire Poll: The Suffolk University pollsters also detect sound movement for Mayor Pete Buttigieg in New Hampshire. According to SU (11/21-24; 500 NH likely Democratic primary voters), Sen. Bernie Sanders leads the tightly packed group with 16% support, followed closely by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 14%, and Mayor Buttigieg close behind with 13%. Former Vice President Joe Biden drops back to 12%, while Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), businessman Andrew Yang, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) follow with preference factors of 6, 4, and 3%, respectively.

Senate

Arkansas: As reported last week, candidate filing closed in Arkansas with Democrats seeing only one candidate return documents to challenge Sen. Tom Cotton (R). Businessman and former congressional candidate Josh Mahony (D), however, decided to withdraw from the race just hours after he filed leaving the party with no candidate.

The Democrats have the opportunity of meeting in convention to choose a nominee, but state chairman Michael John Gray yesterday said they “have no path” toward finding a replacement nominee. Therefore, Sen. Cotton will run against only a Libertarian nominee and Independent candidate, thus functionally guaranteeing his re-election to a second six-year term next year.

Georgia: It is appearing more likely that, should Gov. Brian Kemp (R) bypass Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) for the impending US Senate appointment to replace resigning Sen. Johnny Isakson (R), the Congressman will enter the special election to oppose whomever is chosen. Gov. Kemp allowed individuals to apply for the position, and more than 500 people responded. Despite public urging from President Trump for Gov. Kemp to appoint Mr. Collins, the latest signs indicate that the Governor is reportedly looking in another direction.

Early in the week, Rep. Collins issued a statement saying that so many people throughout the state are asking him to run, that he must “strongly” consider declaring his Senate candidacy. Accounting for his fundraising ability, strength within the Republican base, and the President lobbying for him to be appointed – and Mr. Trump’s endorsement in a GOP primary makes victory almost a lock – there is a good chance that Rep. Collins would be a stronger statewide candidate than an interim Senator who has never run a major campaign.

We can expect the appointment announcement to come relatively soon, and before Sen. Isakson leaves office at the end of December.

House

AL-1: The Club for Growth, again using the WPA Intelligence survey research firm, just polled Alabama’s open 1st Congressional District Republican primary and finds that their July numbers suggesting a run-off election have barely changed. The new poll (11/19-21; 413 AL-1 likely Republican primary voters) sees former state Sen. Bill Hightower leading the group with 35% preference, while state Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) and Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl both follow with 16 and 13 percent.

Back in July, WPAi reported that Mr. Hightower held an almost identical 34-16-12% margin against Messrs. Pringle and Carl. With 50% necessary to claim the party nomination, it appears this race is head to an April 14th run-off election to determine the Republican nominee. The eventual primary victor will become the prohibitive favorite for the general election. Current incumbent Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) is running for the Senate.

CA-16: Signaling that Central California Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) will have a significant challenge in the March 3rd jungle primary, the Service Employees International Union just announced their endorsement of Fresno City Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria (D) and providing the challenger some needed support.

At the end of September, Ms. Soria had raised just over $153,000, which is a low amount in contemporary political time. A positive for her: campaign spending was low, so she maintained over $132,000 in the bank at the reporting deadline. In contrast, Rep. Costa disclosed over $575,000 in his campaign account during the same time frame.

The 16th CD race could be a year-long campaign. Should Ms. Soria finish second in the jungle primary, which is probable at this point, we would see a double-Democrat general election. In 2018, the Congressman defeated Republican Elizabeth Heng, 58-42%. With the candidate filing deadline fast approaching on December 6th, real estate agent Kevin Cookingham is the only Republican so far to announce his candidacy. The 16th contains one-third of Fresno County, including the downtown section of Fresno city, all of Merced County, and more than three-quarters of Madera County.

CO-3: In one of the few 2020 political situations that yields a Republican incumbent congressional primary challenge, local businesswoman and gun rights activist Lauren Boebert announced that she will challenge five-term Western Slope Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) in the June 30th Colorado Republican primary next year.

It is hard to see how a primary challenge from the right will be successful against Rep. Tipton, but the developing contest deserves monitoring, at least in the short term, to see if Ms. Boebert can amass the resources necessary to run a credible campaign.

NY-2: A new name is emerging as a potential replacement for retiring Long Island Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford). A recent poll that the Club for Growth sponsored (WPA Intelligence; 11/17-18; 400 NY-2 likely Republican primary voters) finds Lara Trump, wife of President Trump’s son Eric, as a highly viable candidate.

According to the WPAi data, Ms. Trump would outpace former US Rep. Rick Lazio (R) by a whopping 53-19% in a Republican primary. For her part, Ms. Trump is quoted as saying her focus is on working to re-elect her father-in-law for a second term, but also didn’t explicitly rule out running for the seat.

Governor

Missouri: The Democratic Governors Association released their commissioned Public Policy Polling survey (11/14-15; 921 MO likely voters) that yields a 45-36% lead for Gov. Mike Parson (R). The consensus Democratic candidate, state Auditor Nicole Galloway, while trailing well beyond the polling margin of error, has a strong base within the Democratic Party and actually leads Gov. Parson among Independents, 40-34%. Clearly, this is an area of vulnerability for the Republican incumbent.

Though Mr. Parson is the sitting Governor, he has not previously run for the office in his own right. He was elected Lt. Governor in 2016 and ascended to the state’s top executive job when elected Gov. Eric Greitens (R) resigned in scandal. Therefore, despite having what will be three full years in office by the time of the next election, Gov. Parson is engaged in his first gubernatorial campaign.

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