November 4, 2014
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2014 Election News
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky's senior senator, will have two competitive races in 2014. The first will be his
quest to win the GOP nomination. As the ranking Republican, McConnell is the face of GOP leadership in the Senate. To
those on his right, he also represents in many ways the face of the Republican establishment they find so distasteful.
Yes, the Tea Party would like to retire McConnell, and businessman Matt Bevin is their choice to accomplish the feat. But
despite McConnell's shaky relationship with his more conservative constituents, the five-term senator must be considered the favorite to
meet the Democratic nominee in November.
A poll taken in October puts the incumbent in front of Bevin by a whopping 50-17% margin. That edge will no doubt shrink
as the political newcomer's campaign gets into gear in advance of their primary showdown. However, Bevin will have to overcome
the massive war chest McConnell has accumulated. McConnell is a prodigious fundraiser who has raised an eye-popping $18 million
so far this cycle and has almost $10 million on hand.
Moreover, as Charlie Cook reports
(subscription required), the Minority
Leader has a history of running "textbook perfect campaigns." The Tea Party and Mr. Bevin will put up a good fight, but this
incumbent will prove to be up to the challenge.
And those same qualities will serve him well in the general election as well. Of course, Democrats want to retire him
too. To do that, they've enlisted Kentucky's Secretary of State Alison Grimes. A couple others are also running on the
Democratic side, but it is Grimes who will move on to face McConnell. Her proven statewide appeal will ensure a competitive
Polls are scarce this far out - and don't mean much yet anyway - but those that have been done do give Democrats hope
that McConnell might be vulnerable enough to defeat. One shows McConnell with just a one point lead over Grimes, and the other
puts the race at a dead even tie. Granted, both polls were conducted by Democratic polling firms, but they serve nonetheless to
illustrate just how close this race is likely to be.
Preliminary projection: Weak GOP Hold
posted by Scott Elliott at 7:42pm 12/10/13 :: link
Monday, December 9, 2013
Few states are more reliably Republican than the Sunflower State. Boasting two GOP senators, 4 GOP congressmen, a GOP
governor and large GOP majorities in the state legislature, Kansas gave just 39% of its 2008 presidential vote to Barack Obama.
Such a situation might seem like a sweet deal to an incumbent Republican senator seeking re-election - unless your voting record isn't
In the recent cycles, the Tea Party has proven successful in knocking off several more moderate Republicans in deep red states
like Kansas, and Pat Roberts, Kansas' senior senator, is not the most conservative guy on the block. However, he has cultivated
the kind of reputation and rapport with voters and colleagues alike that insulates him from the designs of the far right.
And it's not that he's a RINO by any stretch. Though, as the Republican contingent in the Senate has moved rightward
lately, his relative voting record has migrated more toward the center. In 2009, his conservative score was rated 87.3.
By 2012, that score has slipped to 73.8%. (A score of 60%, for example, signifies a voting record more conservative than 60%
of the Senate as a whole.)
Still, Roberts has been outspoken in his opposition to Obamacare and his efforts to defund it have no doubt further assuaged any
inclination of the Tea Party to pick a fight. On the other side of the spectrum, Democrats don't have much stomach for a fight
either. Two cycles ago, back in 2002, Roberts didn't even face a Democratic opponent and won 83% of the votes against a
couple of third party candidates. This election he might enjoy the same luxury as no Democrats have yet decided to mount a
Preliminary projection: Solid GOP Hold
Democrat Chad Taylor, Shawnee County District Attorney, is running in this race.
posted by Scott Elliott at 12:07pm 12/09/13 :: link
Friday, December 6, 2013
Democrat Tom Harkin earned his first trip to the Senate in 1984. In four re-election campaigns since, his closest contest was in
1996 when he slipped by Republican Jim Ross Lightfoot by just over 5 points. Six years ago, he enjoyed his most lopsided
victory, a twenty-five point trouncing of Christopher Reed. If the entrenched senator were to try for a sixth term in 2014, he'd
no doubt be on the safe list.
But Harkin announced in the early 2013 that he would be stepping down at the end of his present term. His exit transforms
the 2014 Iowa Senate race into a much more competitive one. The Hawkeye State is a longstanding battleground state that is
customarily up for grabs in presidential elections, and its House and Senate contingents are split right down the middle, party-wise.
So, it makes sense that an open Senate seat here would be closely fought.
There is one advantage, however, that Democrats hold in the race. They've been able to clear a path for Congressman
Bruce Braley to assume the nomination, whereas the GOP is looking at a crowded primary field with potential for a damaging,
protracted nomination scuffle. No less than seven Republicans are currently running, and that number may grow.
The most well-known among this largely obscure group are Iowa State Senator Joni Ernst and former U.S. Attorney Matt
Whitaker. But polls show the current front-runner in this race isn't even running...yet. Controversial conservative GOPer
and three-time gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats leads the declared Republican candidates in one poll of registered Republicans
by 20 percent. He has stated that he will make his decision whether to run before January 1.
Further clouding the outlook is an Iowa Republican Party rule that says a candidate must garner at least 35% of the primary vote
to earn the nomination. If none is able to get to that mark, the nominee will be chosen at the state convention. But
Charlie Cook points out that this usually produces a more conservative pick, a tendency that may not bode well for GOP efforts to earn
a takeover here.
If that is indeed the case, Vander Plaats, were he to run, might be challenged most by Sam Clovis, a Sioux City radio talk show host
and darling of Iowa's evangelical right. But Republican Governor Terry Branstad believes Joni Ernst would be the most likely
Republican to defeat Braley and, despite foregoing any public endorsement is
reportedly working behind the scenes
to promote her candidacy.
Another unknown is how much impact former energy CEO Mark Jacobs' deep pockets will have on the race. The possibilities
are practically endless when it comes to forecasting how this primary battle will play out.
In the end, the eventual GOP nominee will face a Democrat in Braley who will have enjoyed the luxury of an uncontested
nomination run but who may be fighting the adverse effects of his
staunch support of Obamacare
a congressman. If Obamacare's unpopularity persists here in Iowa come November, Braley may not be able to hold
this seat for the Democrats. That said, from where we currently stand, it would be premature to declare this seat a projected Republican pickup.
Preliminary projection: Weak DEM Hold
posted by Scott Elliott at 11:14pm 12/06/13 :: link
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, the three-term Democrat up for re-election in 2014, outdid President-to-be Barack Obama in his own adoptive
neighborhood in 2008. Obama got the nod from 63% of Illinois voters; Durbin earned a 69% share. Now seeking a fourth
term, Durbin will enjoy another easy path to back to Washington.
Republicans have a tough time in the Land of Lincoln. They can occasionally engineer competitive contests in statewide
election, but the 2014 Illinois Senate Race will not be close. Instead, GOP heavy hitters are deciding to jump into the race against
embattled Governor Pat Quinn rather than trying to topple an Illinois stalwart in Senator Durbin.
Of the Republicans who are willing to play the prohibitive underdog in the Senate race, Illinois State Senator Jim Oberweis appears
poised to win the GOP nomination. In a Public Policy Polling survey taken just before Thanksgiving, Oberweis claimed support from
43% of those polled. His nearest competitior could muster just 7%. But it doesn't matter who gets to carry the GOP
banner; Durbin is a shoo-in.
Preliminary projection: Solid DEM Hold
posted by Scott Elliott at 10:35pm 12/05/13 :: link
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
In many states, a scandalous exit by a sitting senator would have the opposition party salivating at the chance for an easy
takeover. Idaho is not one of those states. Even though former Republican Senator Larry Craig's embarrassing restroom
arrest in August, 2007 forced him to bow out of a 2008 re-election bid, the GOP never worried about losing the seat.
Lt. Governor Jim Risch decided to make a run for Craig's open seat that year instead of waiting for the next gubernatorial contest
in 2010. Even with the pall of his disgraced predecessor's transgression still lingering, Risch soundly defeated his Democratic
opponent, former Democratic U.S. Rep. Larry LaRocco.
Now, six years later, Risch will have no problems claiming a second term. To get an idea of how safe the 2014 Idaho
Senate Race is for the incumbent, consider this: Risch won a scandal-laden open seat in a very good Democratic year against a
former congressman by a whopping 24 percentage points! The margin in 2014 will no doubt eclipse that rout.
Preliminary projection: Solid GOP Hold
posted by Scott Elliott at 11:56pm 12/04/13 :: link
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
The late Daniel Inouye, former Democratic senator from Hawaii, served without interruption for 49 years, 349 days in the U.S.
Senate. December 17, 2012, sixteen days before his 50th anniversary in the Senate, Inouye passed away, leaving Hawaii
Governor Neil Abercrombie to appoint his successor.
As a Democrat, Abercrombie would certainly be inclined to appoint someone from his own party. In this case, however,
he had no choice. Hawaii law requires that any Senate seat left prematurely vacant much be filled by a member of the
previous senator's party.
Governor Abercrombie didn't have to go far to find Hawaii's new senator. He chose his right hand man, Lt. Governor
Brian Schatz, to travel to Washington. Next November, the interim senator will try to earn the seat in his own right in the
2014 special Senate election in Hawaii. Winning the general election will be no problem for him in this overwhelmingly Democratic
However, getting to the general election won't be nearly so easy. A rough, competitive primary looms for Schatz with
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, one of Hawaii's two congressmen. Hanabusa was named early on as a possible replacement for Inouye,
and she would love to assume that role. It's too early to tell who will prevail. The latest poll I could find showed Schatz up
38% to 36%.
Whichever Democrat emerges victorious in the primary will have a cakewalk to victory on Election Day. Hawaii is as deep
blue as they come. In 2012, the Aloha State voted for native son Barack Obama by a larger margin than any other state.
That same year, Linda Lingle, a former governor and arguably the most marketable Republican in the state, could must just 37% in the
open seat Senate election
. Whether it's Schatz or Hanabusa in the general, this one will stay in the blue column.
Preliminary projection: Solid DEM Hold
posted by Scott Elliott at 8:55pm 12/03/13 :: link
Sunday, December 1, 2013
After many long hours of development, I'm delighted to publish Election Projection's new look - and just in time to start the 2014
election season in earnest. Early this month, I began previewing the various races on tap next year, and now that the new site
is complete, I'll resume taking a first look at the 2014 Senate Elections.
In the meantime, please take a look around. You feedback will be both welcome and appreciated. As with any
major rollout, I'm sure they'll be some kinks to iron out. If you find a link that doesn't work or anything that appears out of whack
please do contact me.
I encourage you to browse through the new features you'll find in the menu bar at the top of the page. Here are some
I'm especially excited about.
You'll recognize the format of these pages as well as the information they contain - complete with Election Projection's familiar maps.
I've expanded Election Projection's polling data. Check out the
latest polls page
to see what to expect going forward in that
area. Also, I'm pleased to initiate a couple additional blogs here at Election Projection.
- The Red Zone - I'm going to limit my commentary on the main
blog to non-partisan election news. The Red Zone will be a venue for me to voice my conservative perspective on the issues.
- Expressions of Faith - This new blog will enable me to share my
thoughts and perspectives relating to my faith.
Finally, there are a couple of features that I'm still working on. First, the My-EP page will allow readers to register and configure
Election Projection to track the elections that matter to you. Second, EP's forum, Circular Soapboxes, will open soon. I'm
targeting the end of the year to have that ready to go.
It's going to be an exciting 11 months leading up to the 2014 midterm elections. I'm geared up and ready to roll! I
hope you'll make Election Projection an integral part of your online political experience.
posted by Scott Elliott at 11:55pm 12/01/13 :: link
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Though it may not look like it from the amount of posts you've see from me in recent days, I have been hard at work on Election Projection developing a redesigned website. Monday, December 2 is the
scheduled launch date, and I feel confident I can make that date. In the meantime, I wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!! Please be sure to stop by next Monday and check out the new design.
posted by Scott Elliott at 1:43pm 11/29/13 :: link
Friday, November 22, 2013
In a climate that favors Republicans, Democrats look to two states for opportunities to mitigate GOP gains in the Senate in 2014. Only Mitch McConnell in Kentucky and the open seat here in Georgia are
considered even remotely vulnerable among the fourteen Senate seats Republicans must try to hold. Three factors give Democrats hope that they can get a rare victory in a southern state Senate
race - Saxby Chambliss' retirement, a crowded, possibly contentious GOP primary field, and Democrat Michelle Nunn's candidacy.
Three congressmen, Paul Broun (CD-10), Phil Gingrey (CD-11) and Jack Kingston (CD-1), are running for the Republican nomination in the 2014 Georgia Senate Race. Five others have also entered the
race including David Perdue, a cousin of former Governor Sonny Perdue. Third quarter 2013 FEC reports show three candidates - Kingston, Gingrey and Perdue - have over $1 mlliion on hand, and two more -
Broun and 2010 gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel have over $300,000. The abundance of money portends a heated battle for the GOP nomination that could and probably will help the Democratic
nominee make this a fight in the general election.
Michelle Nunn looks to be that nominee. Her name value here provides instant recognition (she's the daughter of former Democratic Senator Sam Nunn), and Georgia Democrats are encouraged
by her first-tier candidacy. Since jumping into the race back in July, Nunn has already raised $1.7 million and has nearly $1.4 million on hand. Several others have declared on the Democratic side,
including a former Georgia state Senator, but none is expected to give Nunn a legitimate challenge in the primary.
Once the primaries are settled, we should see an interesting and competitive general election campaign. Considering Chambliss' narrow 3-point victory here in 2008, one might be tempted to give Nunn
even-money odds to capture the seat now that Chambliss is retiring. But 2008 was a strong Democratic year with President-to-be Barack Obama at the top of the ticket. On the flipside, take a look at
2010's Georgia Senate race, a 20-point rout by Republican Johnny Isakson, and one might want to write off any chance of a Democratic victory. 2014 will be unlike either 2008 or 2010. Instead, with
at least a moderate GOP wind blowing, the Republican nominee - despite primary bruises - should be able to claim a close but comfortable win.
Preliminary projection: Mod GOP Hold
posted by Scott Elliott at 10:54am 11/22/13 :: link
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Aided in no small measure by the Tea Party, Republicans enjoyed a dominating election cycle in 2010, picking up 63 House seats, 6 Senate seats and 6 statehouses. It was an historic election, but not a perfect
one. The GOP failed to regain the majority in the Senate though many thought the opportunities were there to accomplish that gargantuan feat. One such missed opportunity was Vice-President Joe
Biden's seat in Delaware - and the Tea Party was largely to blame.
With popular Republican Congressman Mike Castle set to run, Chris Coons was never considered much more than a sacrificial lamb for a state Democrat party who knew their chances of keeping Biden's seat were minimal
at best. Then the Tea Party swept in and helped the GOP nominate Christine O’Donnell instead. The candidate and campaign that followed were both sad and comical at once and gifted the
Democrats one less lost Senate seat. Coons went on to win with 57% of the vote.
I'm not going to discuss whether conservatives would have been better off with another liberal Republican (Castle) in the Senate. That discussion is beyond the scope of this preview, and I neither
applaud nor condemn in this space the Tea Party for its part in O'Donnell's disastrous nomination. However, the truth about the 2014 Delaware Senate Election remains. Delaware is a deep blue state in which the
GOP boasts little vote-getting capability in statewide elections. As a result, incumbent Democrat Coons - not Republican Castle - will enjoy an easy path to re-election.
Preliminary projection: Solid DEM Hold
posted by Scott Elliott at 2:29pm 11/20/13 :: link
Monday, November 18, 2013
The Rocky Mountain State is transitioning. After the 2002 elections, Colorado was a reddish-purple battleground state with a Republican governor, two Republican senators and five Republican
representatives out of seven. George W. Bush had won the state two years earlier by almost 8 points, even while losing the national popular vote to Al Gore. Two years later, that margin would be
reduced by half - despite Bush's 2.5% victory in the national vote. In the 2008, Barack Obama took home Colorado's electoral votes for the Democrats for the first time since Bill Clinton in 1992. He
would win here again in 2012.
In the meantime, Democrats were picking up the statehouse, both Senate seats and netting one more House seat. The gain in the House would have been greater save for two seats the GOP reclaimed
in the red tsunami year of 2010. Colorado remains a battleground state, to be sure, but it boasts a much bluer shade of purple these days, a fact which suits Colorado's senior senator, Democrat Mark Udall,
just fine. He's up for re-election in the 2014 Colorado Senate Election.
Udall won this seat in 2008 after five terms in the House of Representatives. Though Colorado's battleground status denies him the prospect of a cake walk to a second term, he begins this cycle with
the clear upper hand. Several Republicans, including three Colorado state legislators and Ken Buck, the 2010 GOP Senate nominee, have decided to run against him. But none appears, at least at the
moment, to be the kind of first-tier candidate to seriously threaten the incumbent.
Preliminary projection: Mod DEM Hold
posted by Scott Elliott at 3:47pm 11/18/13 :: link