The AARP organization commissioned a series of Democratic and Republican polling firms to test key states for the upcoming presidential and US Senate contests. Like other recent pollsters, the Benenson Strategy Group (D)/GS Strategy Group (R) pairing found tightening ballot test results in three key states: Arizona, Florida and Pennsylvania.
Testing 1,600 likely voters via live interviews during the August 30th thru September 5th period, the AARP team found Joe Biden leading in all three of the critical swing states, but in margins well within the polling error factor. The Biden leads were 1, 2, and 3 points in Arizona, Florida, and Pennsylvania, respectively.
Pollsters are active across the country in testing political campaigns and seem to be routinely delivering starkly different results for the same contests over a similar time frame. We have four such examples in Senate races.
Three different pollsters tested the Arizona Senate race between appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R) and retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D). While the three polling firms active during the first week of September all find Mr. Kelly leading, the point spread ranges from six all the way to 17 points. The high pollster for Kelly is Fox News (8/29-9/1; 772 AZ likely voters) and the six-point low is Democratic pollster Change Research (9/4-6; 470 AZ likely voters).
Four pollsters were testing Michigan in early September, and the spread here ranges from a one-point deficit for Republican businessman John James opposite Sen. Gary Peters (D) to a dozen percentage points. Here, the most favorable James pollster is the Republican Tarrance Group (9/1-3; 569 MI registered voters) and the strongest Sen. Peters’ survey comes from the London, England based Redfield & Wilton Strategies (8/30-9/3; 967 MI likely voters).
The Minnesota race between Sen. Tina Smith (D) and former US Rep. Jason Lewis (R) is attracting more attention. Three survey research firms were conducting polls in early September and found Sen. Smith’s advantage extending between two and eleven points. The high Smith poll came from Survey USA (9/4-7; 553 MN likely voters) and the best for Mr. Lewis is from Republican Harper Polling (8/30-9/1; 501 MN likely voters).
North Carolinians are regularly polled, and the beginning of September is no exception. Again, brandishing wide ranges, seven surveys and/or iterations within such were conducted during the same time frame, and the margin stretches between an even race for Sen. Thom Tillis (R) and former state Senator Cal Cunningham (D) to a ten-point spread. The even poll came from Monmouth University’s (8/29-9/1; 401 NC likely voters) low turnout model (but the high turnout model suggested only a two-point difference), while the high spike came for Mr. Cunningham from Redfield & Wilton Strategies (8/30-9/3; 951 NC likely voters).
Further signs are occurring showing the presidential race getting closer. Democratic pollster Change Research just released a series of surveys in six crucial 2020 swing states, Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, during the August 21-23 period with sample sizes ranging from a low of 344 likely voters in Arizona to a high of 1,262 similarly chosen poll participants in Florida.
While CR projects former Vice President Joe Biden to be leading in all six states, at least four of which (AZ, FL, NC, and either MI, PA, or WI) are must-wins for President Trump, the Democratic nominee’s lead has dwindled to between one and six points in all of these places.
In another sign that the Arizona Senate race is beginning to close, Republican polling firm OnMessage (8/2-4; 400 AZ likely voters) projects appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R) pulling into a tie with retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D), as both recorded 48% preference in their latest study. This is the first poll since late June that did not yield an advantage for Mr. Kelly.
Being found in ethics violation over his previous campaign finance practices and using government funds to aide his re-election committee, Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills/Scottsdale) now finds himself trailing new Democratic nominee Hiral Tipirneni, a physician who has previously run in the adjoining 8th District. A just-released Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research survey (8/6-12; 548 AZ-6 likely voters) finds Dr. Tipirneni leading the five-term Congressman by a 48-45% count. We can expect this to be a top tier national congressional race.
Emerson College Polling released a series of surveys conducted over the August 8-10 period in four presidential swing states, and in each case the results seem to cut against the average trend. In Pennsylvania (843 likely voters) and Arizona (861 likely voters), Emerson projects former Vice President Joe Biden to be running well ahead of the margin he has been posting lately. Both states showed a seven-point spread with no undecided voters. The Emerson pollsters often push respondents for a choice between major party candidates, which eliminates the undecided category.
In North Carolina (873 likely voters) and Minnesota (733 likely voters), President Trump is performing better than the average, leading in the Tar Heel State by one percentage point, and trailing in Minnesota by just two points. The latter number is significantly below the 8.6% Biden average spread determined from the last five Minnesota published polls prior to Emerson’s release.
Last month, we found a situation during the July 17-26 period when three different pollsters were all conducting surveys of the critically important Arizona electorate. The three pollsters, Morning Consult, Redfield & Wilton Strategies, and Change Research, found former Vice President Joe Biden leading President Trump by margins of 7, 8, and 2 percentage points, respectively.
We now see another period, this time with a poll ending August 2nd and the others continuing through August 8th, where a different three survey research firms are again simultaneously polling. In this set, the three pollsters find closer margins than the aforementioned trio. Here, Data for Progress, OH Predictive Insights, and the Trafalgar Group find Mr. Biden’s lead dropping to 2 and 4 points (DfP and OH), while President Trump takes the lead by a point in the third survey (Trafalgar).
Voters in five states will cast their ballots today, including the controversial Kansas Senate Republican primary. The state also features three important congressional primaries and one, in the 2nd District, that could deny freshman Rep. Steve Watkins (R-Topeka) re-nomination. Electorates are also voting in Arizona, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington. Arizona and Michigan feature Senate races, but the general elections in both states are set. Governors’ races are occurring in Missouri and Washington.
The House Ethics Committee closed an investigation of Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills) and issued a report after all parties reached an agreement. Mr. Schweikert admits he committed eleven violations in the areas of “campaign finance violations and reporting errors, spending government money to support his political campaigns, pressuring government staff to perform campaign work,” and, for the Congressman’s "lack of candor and due diligence in the course of the investigation." While the investigation is now closed, the findings will certainly become a campaign issue.
The Arizona primary is Tuesday, and former 8th District congressional candidate Hiral Tipirneni is poised to win the Democratic nomination. She reported raising almost $2.5 million for the race at the June 30th financial reporting deadline and has almost $1.3 million cash on hand for the general election. Though drawn as a safely Republican seat, the recent Arizona demographic and voting changes coupled with Schweikert’s proven ethics violations puts this seat in play for November.
At the beginning of July, Gravis Marketing released an Arizona Senate survey that found appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R) leading retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D), 46-42%. While the prevailing wisdom suggested this result is an outlier because all other data gives Mr. Kelly a sizable lead, the new YouGov poll (7/7-10; 1,087 AZ likely general election voters) finds the same 46-42% split, but in Mr. Kelly’s favor. Though the YouGov poll again posts the consensus Democratic candidate to be holding the lead, this survey seems to confirm that the important Arizona Senate race is getting tighter.
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