Colby College, located in Waterville, ME, sponsored a survey of the Maine electorate administered by SocialSphere (2/10-13; 1,008 ME registered voters) that tested the impending Senate race between incumbent Susan Collins (R) and state House Speaker Sara Gideon (D-South Freeport). The results show a virtual tie between the two, with Gideon forging a 43-42% edge over the four-term Senator. Democrats view this race as a major national target, but Sen. Collins has yet to fully engage her advertising and holds over $7 million in reserve. Ms. Gideon reported just under $2.8 million in her account at the end of 2019 after spending almost $5 million.
Sen. Mike Enzi (R) is retiring after four terms, and yesterday announced who he is supporting as his successor. Both he and fellow Sen. John Barrasso (R) are pledging their support for former at-large Rep. Cynthia Lummis who retired from the House before the 2016 election. Ms. Lummis served four terms in Congress and eight years as state Treasurer after winning terms in both houses of the state legislature to begin her political career. The eventual Republican nominee will become the prohibitive favorite to win the general election.
Early voting reports are emanating from Nevada for the caucus vote coming this Saturday. The state election authorities scheduled two days of early voting, an unusual procedure for this nomination format since the caucus system features actual precinct meetings. So far, more than 70,000 preference sheets – their ranked choice procedure does not feature a ballot – have been recorded. This number represents 83% of those attending the 2016 Nevada caucus meetings. Next door in California, where early voting began on February 3rd for the March 3rd Super Tuesday primary, over 1 million votes have already been cast in the Democratic presidential primary.
YouGov, for the University of Massachusetts at Lowell (2/12-18; 400 SC Democratic likely primary voters), tested the February 29th South Carolina Democratic primary and finds former Vice President Joe Biden still leading the contest, but with a much thinner margin.
Mr. Biden holds a 23-21-13-11-11-9-4% edge over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), billionaire Tom Steyer, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI). South Carolina remains a must-win primary for Mr. Biden, but now his prospects are apparently much more tenuous.
Last night voters in northern Wisconsin chose party nominees to replace resigned Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wausau) who left Congress earlier in the year for family reasons. Republicans selected state Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua) in a 57-43% win over Afghanistan War veteran Jason Church. Wausau School Board member Tricia Zunker, a consensus Democratic candidate, scored a major 89-11% landslide win in her primary contest. Republicans hold a clear advantage in this district, so Sen. Tiffany becomes the heavy favorite to win the special general election on May 12th.
National Public Radio, PBS, and Marist College teamed to conduct a national Democratic presidential primary survey (2/13-16; 1,416 adults; 1,164 registered voters; 527 likely Democratic primary voters), as did NBC News and the Wall Street Journal (2/14-17; 900 registered voters; 426 likely Democratic primary voters).
The two organizations delivered similar results in that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) leads both national surveys with 31 and 27%, respectively, while former Vice President Joe Biden is losing support; down 11 points in the NBC survey and nine in the Marist College poll. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is obviously on an upward path, gaining 15 points in the Marist College survey and rising to second position with 19% support. The NBC poll found him moving up five points to third place with a 14% preference factor. The candidate with the most divergent result between the two surveys is former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg who scores 13% nationally in the NBC poll but only 8% in the NPR/Marist study.
There has been little polling of the small Vermont Democratic electorate, but the state is voting on Super Tuesday, and home state Sen. Bernie Sanders may find himself in position to sweep the state’s 16 first ballot delegates. A new Vermont Public Radio/PBS survey was fielded (2/4-10; 603 adults; 332 VT likely Democratic primary voters) and the results project Sen. Sanders with a majority 51% from his home constituency.
The only candidate with what appears to be a potential to reach the 15% threshold for delegate allocation is former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg who posts 13% support in this survey. Though the state has only a minimum number of delegates, a Sanders sweep could prove to be a bonanza for him.
Rep. Justin Amash (I-Cascade Township/ Grand Rapids) continues to find himself in better political position as he presumably attempts to seek his first re-election under the Independent ballot line. Mr. Amash left the Republican Party in 2019. Yesterday, former White House aide Nick Colvin (D), who had raised almost $350,000 for his race, decided not to file his candidacy when the period closes on April 21st. His move leaves attorney Hillary Scholten as the most likely Democrat to claim the nomination in the August 4th primary.
On the Republican side, businessman Peter Meijer, whose family name is well known with its prominent signage on retail outlets that they own around the state, appears to be in the best position. For the race, he has raised $722,000 with almost $600,000 remaining in his campaign account. Rep. Amash, however, has had a good fundraising cycle despite not being a major party member. Pulling in over $1 million for this 2020 re-election, he sits with over $720,000 in the bank. In a three-way election, almost anything could happen, but this is the scenario where the Democratic nominee, with a strong base, could win the contest with only a plurality assuming that Amash and Meijer split the majority right-of-center vote constituency.
With the Nevada Caucus fast approaching on February 22nd, the next presidential debate is scheduled for tomorrow night from the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas. At one point, it appeared that both presidential candidates Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer would qualify for this forum, and now the former has earned a podium according to an announcement this morning.
Apparently, Mr. Steyer still has an opportunity to qualify today, but it’s most likely that we will next see him at the February 25th debate in Charleston, SC. Since the Democratic National Committee changed the debate requirements, polling marks and committed delegate votes are now the key requirements for debate qualification.
With Andrew Yang now no longer in the race, tomorrow’s candidate panel will include former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar, along with former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Mr. Bloomberg.
The Texas Tribune and University of Texas teamed to field a statewide survey (1/31-2/9; 1,200 TX registered voters; online) and, for the first time in this election cycle, found a Democratic US Senate candidate breaking 15%. According to TT/UT, retired Army helicopter pilot M.J. Hegar has increased her slight advantage to 22%, leading non-profit executive Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez and former US Representative and 2014 gubernatorial nominee Chris Bell who posts 9 and 7% support factors. State Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) and Houston City Councilwoman Amanda Edwards are next with 6% apiece.
It is clear from all data that the top two finishers will advance to a May 26th run-off election since no candidate is close to the 50% majority that would clinch the party nomination. Despite Ms. Hegar’s lead, virtually all of the candidates are still alive to qualify for the secondary election since individual preference is low and the undecided/refused to answer figure is high at 40% with the March 3rd primary on the horizon.
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