Last October, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced the entire series schedule for both the presidential and vice-presidential forums and the details have only slightly changed. Because of the COVID crowd restrictions, the University of Notre Dame declined to host the first forum, which has been re-located to Case Western University in Cleveland but remains on Tuesday, September 29th. The lone Vice Presidential debate then follows on Wednesday, October 7th. We return to the presidential debate series on Thursday, October 15th, with the finale a week later on October 22nd.
The Vice Presidential forum will be held at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. The October 15th session is scheduled for the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami and will be a town hall format. The final session, on October 22nd, will originate from Belmont University in Nashville. All of the forums will consume 90 minutes and begin at 9 pm Eastern time. Aside from the Miami town hall, the debate format will cover specific topics over pre-determined time segments. The chosen moderator will choose the topics, but the subjects will be publicly released several days before each session commences.
The new Trafalgar Group poll was released for the battleground state of Michigan (8/14-23; 1,048 MI likely voters) and, has often been the case, finds a result opposite that of most other pollsters. According to the Trafalgar results, President Trump holds a 47-45% Wolverine State lead over Joe Biden. In 2016, Trafalgar came to national prominence because it was the only firm to correctly predict a Donald Trump victory in Michigan and Pennsylvania.
The reason for the discrepancy is Trafalgar attempts to account for what is now being termed as the “shy Trump voter”, that is, a person who is voting for the President but will not say so publicly or to a pollster. Most people believe there is an under-poll for Trump, and Trafalgar is attempting, as they successfully did in 2016, to determine that number.
Other pollsters surveying Michigan during the same time period as Trafalgar project a clear Biden lead, but at least one of them, from the Civiqs polling firm surveying for the Daily Kos Elections website (8/13-17; 631 MI registered voters), isn’t so far away. They see Mr. Biden leading only 49-46%. Change Research (8/21-23; 809 MI likely voters) posts the Biden lead to 50-44%. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is much further away (8/16-19; 812 MI likely voters), seeing Biden with a large 50-38% margin. All four of these surveys point to how much the sample selection methodology means in forecasting a polling result.
The Trafalgar Group’s Michigan poll, as described above in the presidential section, also tested the Senate race between first-term Senator Gary Peters (D) and Republican manufacturing company owner John James. This race was polling close before the COVID shutdown but went clearly in Sen. Peters’ direction afterward. We now see the campaign tightening again, and Trafalgar, once more using the sample methodology discussed above, projects Mr. James to a one-point, 48-47%, edge.
The two other pollsters in the field during the same time as Trafalgar that tested the Senate race, Change Research and Redfield & Wilton Strategies, see a different result. Change finds Sen. Peters up 50-45%, while Redfield & Wilton posts the incumbent to a larger 48-39% advantage.
The New Jersey legislature just passed a measure and sent to Gov. Phil Murphy (D) that would allow each municipality to host one in-person voting center. Otherwise, the election will be conducted by mail. The legislative move is to nullify a lawsuit challenging Gov. Murphy’s individual authority to schedule an all-mail election. If the legislation is enacted, such a move would make the lawsuit moot. It is likely that the legislature’s described procedure will be the system that New Jersey employs for this general election.
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research confirms in their new GA-6 poll (8/11-16; 401 GA-6 likely voters) for the suburban district lying wholly within the Atlanta metropolitan region, that the re-match between freshman Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) and former Rep. Karen Handel (R) is again in the toss-up realm. The GQR results find Rep. McBath holding a tight 50-47% edge over Ms. Handel. In 2018, the actual election totals found Ms. McBath winning with only the slightest 50.5 – 49.5% margin. It appears more than likely that will we see another razor-thin result in the coming re-match.
The 1st District Democratic congressional primary will culminate on Tuesday, and a just-released new poll from RABA Research for the Jewish Insider blog (8/23-24; 518 MA-1 likely voters, including 280 Democratic likely primary participants and 230 Independent voters who say they will vote in the Democratic primary) finds incumbent Rep. Richard Neal (D-Springfield), chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, expanding his lead over Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse to 49-40%. Previously, we saw a 46-41% split from an earlier Beacon Research survey (8/15-16; 391 MA-1 Democratic primary voters).
In a very rare move, a Republican Governor has endorsed a Democratic primary candidate. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced his support for Mr. Neal as the two candidates grind out the remaining days before the primary election. Mr. Baker has such strong approval ratings that his standing is positive even among Democrats.
We see another survey finding the Texas contest between freshman Rep. Chip Roy (R-Austin) and former state Senator and 2014 gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis (D) as being a flat tie. ALG Research (8/15-20; 500 TX-21 likely voters) finds Rep. Roy and Ms. Davis tied at 46%. Mr. Roy was first elected in 2018 with a 50-48% margin and it appears the 2020 race in this district that encompasses parts of the cities of Austin and San Antonio in addition to the Texas Hill Country, is again headed toward a photo finish.
Three states had approved ballot referendums to change their primary system to the unique “Top Four” system that would allow the first four finishing candidates in a jungle primary advance into the general election. The four candidates would then be ranked 1-4 in the general in order to determine a winner.
It now appears that only one state, Alaska, will have the referendum on the ballot. Judges in North Dakota and Arkansas have nullified their respective election referendums because of qualification process technical flaws. Therefore, the primary system in these two latter states will remain constant for at least another election cycle.
Public Policy Polling recently surveyed the Colorado electorate (8/18-19; 731 CO voters) regarding the Senate race and gun control. They found former Governor and presidential candidate John Hickenlooper (D) to be holding a 51-42% advantage over Sen. Cory Gardner (R), but there is a Democratic skew affecting the sample.
Looking at voter registration statistics, the poll uses a 37% Democrat - 30% Republican -33% Unaffiliated segmentation within the sampling universe. The official Colorado voter registration statistics, however, find Democrats at 30.2%, Republicans recording 27.7%, and the Unaffiliated segment reaching the 40.4% level – quite a different picture than the poll paints. Accounting for the skew suggests that the Colorado Senate race is closer than the PPP ballot test displays.
As part of the Change Research swing state polling series (8/21-23; 809 MI likely voters), the pollsters tested the US Senate contest between first-term incumbent Gary Peters (D) and challenger John James (R). According to this data from a Democratic polling firm, the race is getting closer and evolves into the types of margins we were seeing before the COVID-19 shut down.
The CR results find Sen. Peters currently leading Mr. James, 50-45%. Sen. Peters has dominated the 32 publicly released polls between mid-March and the end of July. Since August began, however, three of four surveys find Mr. James closing to within five points or less. For the Democrats to gain the Senate majority, Michigan is a must-win state.
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