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November 4, 2014
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2014 Election News

Just one of Arkansas' four congressional districts looks to be competitive in 2014.  That means at least three seats here will remain in GOP hands.  Currently all four in the Arkansas House delegation are Republicans.  Two years ago, the red team completed their sweep by taking the open seat of Mike Ross in CD-4.  Coincidentally, Tom Cotton, who won the seat in 2012, is leaving it this year to make a run at the Senate.

Arkansas Competitive House Races

Arkansas CD-2:  Republican Tim Griffin, first elected in 2010, has decided not to run for re-election in 2014.  The seat he leaves behind represents the 151st most Republican district in the country with a Cook Political PVI rating of R+8.  The red slant of the district gives Republicans an edge, to be sure, but it isn't so red that Democrats can't hope for a surprise victory here.  North Little Rock Mayor Patrick Hays should be a solid foe to the eventual Republican nominee.  Preliminary projection:  Weak GOP Hold

Track the Arkansas races here at Election Projection by visiting the 2014 Arkansas Elections page.  And look for a handy summary of all the hotly-contested House races this year on EP's 2014 House Elections page.  There you'll find the familiar red, blue and gray House elections map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 7:44pm 04/18/14 :: link
Three of Arizona's seven U.S. House seats promise to be competitive this year.  All three are currently held by Democrats and two are held by true freshmen representatives.  In 2012, Republicans lost one net House seat here while Democrats picked up two seats.  The current partisan makeup is 5 Democrats and 4 Republicans.  Arizona gained a seat in 2012 as a result of the 2010 Census.

Arizona Competitive House Races

Arizona CD-1:  Freshman Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick is running for re-election in 2014.  Two Arizona state legislators are in the Republican field trying to unseat her.  Andy Tobin, Arizona's House Speaker, may have the best chance at a Republican takeover.  Preliminary projection:  Weak DEM Hold

Arizona CD-2:  Democrat Ron Barber looks to earn a second full term in 2014.  Martha McSally's candidacy on the GOP side makes this a close race.  She lost to Barber by just 2,454 votes in 2012.  Preliminary projection:  Weak DEM Hold

Arizona CD-9:  Krysten Sinema, another freshman Democrat, is running for a second term this year.  Former NFL quarterback Andrew Walter and retired Air Force officer Wendy Rogers are the Republicans who hope to earn a chance to make a run at Sinema.  Preliminary projection:  Weak DEM Hold

Track the Arizona races here at Election Projection by visiting the 2014 Arizona Elections page.  And look for a handy summary of all the hotly-contested House races this year on EP's 2014 House Elections page.  There you'll find our familiar red and blue House elections map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 11:09pm 04/17/14 :: link
Last Friday, I wrapped up a tour of the 2014 gubernatorial elections.  Tomorrow I'll be embarking on a quick tour of 48 competitive House races.  In the interim, I thought revisiting the Senate election landscape would be interesting and relevant, especially since some recent polling data has altered the outlook of a few races.

Arkansas:  Incumbent Mark Pryor is polling better than he was when I published Election Projection's preview of the Arkansas Senate race.  The last two surveys put him ahead of Republican Tom Cotton by an average of 1.5 points.  This race is still a major target for Republicans, and I have major doubts as to whether Pryor can survive Cotton's challenge in this deeply Republican state.  However, the polling data calls it differently at this point in the campaign.  Based on that data, I am changing the preliminary projection of the Arkansas Senate Election to Weak DEM Hold.

Colorado:  The candidacy of Cory Gardner, a GOP congressman, has generated some excitement among Colorado Republicans as they try to unseat Democratic incumbent Mark Udall.  They believe he represents the best chance to claim this Senate seat.  Polling data supports their optimism, to a point.  Gardner gets closest to Udall in polls conducted here, but he still comes up a couple points short.  Now, to be sure, his prospects could improve as we move closer to the election, but for the time being, Udall is still the favorite.  Weak DEM Hold

Georgia:  Michele Nunn, the Democratic Senate candidate with the golden last name, looks like she'll be every bit as strong a contender for the open seat here as Democrats hoped she would be.  Polls actually give her the advantage against three of five Republican nomination contenders.  David Perdue, cousin of former Governor Sonny Perdue, is leading the race for the GOP nomination.  He also happens to be one of the two Republicans who are polling ahead of Nunn.  I'm still confident a Republican, probably Perdue, will be victorious come November, but Nunn's success so far prompts me to move this race to Weak GOP Hold.

Michigan:  Republican Terri Land marched out to a surprise lead over Democrat Gary Peters in the Michigan Senate election.  Multiple early polls from a variety of polling firms showed her ahead by two to eight points over the winter.  With the coming of Spring, however, Peters began to close the gap.  Two of the last three polls give him the edge.  Notably, those two polls are both from Democratic pollsters while the third, the one which has Land up by 2, is a Republican firm.  Partisan polling slant notwithstanding, I do believe Peters has moved out in front by a hair, and, as a result, I'm changing the preliminary projection for this race to Weak DEM Hold.

Significantly, these updates remove two projected Republican pickups from the 2014 Senate elections map and return the projected majority in the Senate to the Democrats.  Let me add a caveat: these are preliminary projections that can and will change, perhaps drastically, between now and Election Day.  To illustrate that point, Nate Silver has stated that Republicans could win anywhere from 1 to 11 Senate seats in 2014.  That means a lot of Senate races are still very much up in the air.  As an electoral prognosticator and election observer, I can't wait to see how all these competitive races develop.  It's going to be an exciting 7 months.

posted by Scott Elliott at 9:14pm 04/15/14 :: link
This heartland state is one of the most Republican in the nation.  You have to go all the way back to Lyndon Johnson's massive landslide victory in 1964 to find a Democratic presidential nominee who carried it.  But, interestingly, you don't have to go so far back to find Democrats who have been elected Wyoming's governor.

In fact, for a 26-year period from 1975 through 2011, Wyoming had only one Republican governor.  Dave Freudenthal who served from 2003-2011 was the last Democratic governor of the state.  During the 2010 election season, there was some speculation that he might challenge the constitutionality of Wyoming's term-limits law.  As he had already won election to the office twice, he would have needed a favorable court decision to be eligible to run again.  Such a ruling probably would have come down since the Wyoming Supreme Court has already found the law unconstitutional for state legislators.

In the end, Freudenthal decided against taking the law to court, leaving an open gubernatorial election that pitted former U.S Attorney Matt Mead, a Republican, against state Democratic Party Chair Leslie Petersen.  Four years before, the popular Freudenthal had not only won re-election as a Democrat, he had clobbered his GOP opposition, Ray Hunkins, by 40 points.  2010 would prove a much different story.  The tables were turned on Petersen, and Mead went on to a 40-point win himself.

This year's gubernatorial election in Wyoming promises to be another easy victory for Mead.  No Democrat has yet declared for this race, but a couple first-tier potential candidates could provide some drama, one in particular.  Were Freudenthal to jump in, this race would become more competitive.  The same might be true, to a lesser degree, if two-time congressional candidate Gary Trauner were to announce.

For now, though, no one stands between Mead and an another term as Wyoming Governor.  Well, that's not entirely true.  Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill and Dr. Taylor Haynes are running against Mead in the GOP primary, but they will not seriously contend for the nomination.

Preliminary projection:  Solid GOP Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Wyoming Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 10:02pm 04/12/14 :: link
Tom Petri has served Wisconsin in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1979, but 2014 will be his last year.  The 73-year-old Republican announced today that he is not going to seek re-election in Wisconsin's 6th District.  His decision leaves an open seat behind in a moderately Republican district.

Petri's ability to retain this seat was never in doubt.  With his retirement, the seat is only slightly less sure to remain in the Republican fold.  The Hill reports that a couple of Republicans already had been moving toward running for this seat in case Petri were to retire.

Wisconsin state Rep. Duey Stroebel (R) and businessman John Hiller, a confidante of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), have also been quietly mulling bids. State Sen. Joe Leibham (R) has also been mentioned as a possible candidate if Petri retires.
If they run, they'll join conservative favorite Wisconsin state Senator Glenn Grothman (R) who was mounting a pimary challenge to Petri.  The number of Republican open seats in the House increases to 25 with Petri's move.  Democrats are defending just 15.  Check out EP's Open Seat Elections page for a complete list.
Filed under:  2014 House Races 
posted by Scott Elliott at 11:58pm 04/11/14 :: link
GOP Governor Scott Walker holds a singular distinction as the only governor in United States history to survive a recall election.  Two other recalls succeeded in removing Lynn Frazier of North Dakota in 1921 and Gray Davis of California in 2003.  Walker's recall success occurred in 2010, two years after the former Milwaukee county executive defeated Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to become Wisconsin's 45th governor.

Walker's conservative policies have not engendered warm feelings from unions and other liberal interest groups in the state, so desires to knock him out of office run deep.  On the other hand, the incumbent's aggressive anti-union measures have made him a favorite among conservatives and tea party folks.  The 2014 Wisconsin Governor race is sure to feature intense votes on both sides.

The front runner for the Democratic nomination and the right to face Walker in the general election appears to be Madison Board of Education Member Mary Burke.  Less well known than Mayor Barrett, who was also Walker's opponent in the recall election, Burke probably isn't the kind of strong candidate Wisconsin Democrats would like to have in this marquee gubernatorial contest.

Three polls were taken on this race in the month of March.  They show wildly varying results.  A Rasmussen poll conducted early in the month pegged the contest as a dead even tie, 45-45.  A Marquette University poll released in late March put the incumbent 7 points ahead.  Then came a WPR/St. Norbert poll released early this month giving Walker an overwhelming lead of 16 points, 56-40.

Taken together, these polls indicate an electoral contest tipping toward the incumbent.  I will be eagerly anticipating every bit of news pertaining to this race to see if Walker can once again survive.  My hunch is that he will do just that, probably by a margin similar to his two previous triumphs.  We'll need a couple more polls, given the inconsistent data to date, to see how this race is shaping up 7 months out.

I'm starting this one off as a Weak GOP Hold, but I think it's more likely to stretch to a Mod GOP Hold than for the Democrat to earn the win.  Looking down the road, a Walker victory in 2014 is absolutely critical to any future aspirations he might have to take up residence in a certain White House on the Potomac.  The 2016 GOP presidential field is wide open right now, but Walker happens to be a personal favorite of mine to win the nomination - but he'll have to retain his current residence in the Wisconsin Governor's Mansion first.

Preliminary projection:  Weak GOP Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Wisconsin Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 10:46pm 04/11/14 :: link
Given Vermont's current progressive ideology, it might be a surprise that Republicans used to be a strong, if not dominant, force in the state.  Remarkably the GOP won every gubernatorial election between 1854 and 1960.  That's over a century!  Since then, Democrats and Republicans have more or less split time in Montpelier.

The last Republican governor, Jim Douglas, served four terms from 2003-2011.  Yes, you read that right - 4 terms, 8 years in office.  The Green Mountain State shares the distinction with New Hampshire as the only two states who conduct gubernatorial elections every two years.  When Douglas decided against running for re-election in 2010, his second-in-command, Brian Dubie threw his hat into the ring.

Early on that year, Dubie held a prohibitive advantage over Democrat Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Shumlin.  However, Shumlin was able to close that gap and, by Election Day, actually won a plurality of the vote.  Since he didn't earn 50% plus 1 vote in the electoral victory, Vermont state law would not allow him to be "officially" elected.  That didn't happen "officially" until the Vermont General Assembly voted 81%-16% to award him the governorship.

Two years later, he had a much easier time getting elected.  Republican Randy Brock, a Vermont state senator and former state auditor, lost in a blowout by 20 points to Douglas.  This year's election promises to be an even easier triumph for the incumbent.  Currently, the only declared candidate is Cris Ericson of the Marijuana Party.  This one should stay in the Democratic column.

Preliminary projection:  Solid DEM Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Vermont Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 9:53pm 04/10/14 :: link
The 2014 Texas Governor race marks the first truly open statehouse election the Lone Star State has held since 1990.  Coincidentally, that year was also the last gubernatorial election to be won by a Democrat.  A string of five consecutive Republican victories began in 1994 when future President George W. Bush unseated the victor in 1990, Democrat Ann "Ma" Richards.

Governor Bush won again in 1998 and then defeated Vice President Al Gore to become president of the United States in 2000.  Bush's lieutenant governor, Rick Perry, ascended to the governorship that year.  Two years later, Perry won the office in his own right.  He would go on to win two more terms as the Lone Star State's chief executive, mixing in a brief run for president in 2012.

Perry's decision to opt out of a run for another term has left an intriguing, if not exceedingly competitive, race to replace him.  Since the Texas primary elections have been held (on March 4), we already know the party nominees in this contest.  Democrats voted for state Senator and famously single mother Wendy Davis, while Republicans chose Greg Abbott, sitting Texas Attorney General.  Each candidate enjoyed an overwhelming endorsement from their respective parties.

Now that we've entered the general election phase of the campaign, Texas' Republican lean gives Abbott the clear advantage.  I haven't seen any polls on this race since the primaries took place, but two 2014 surveys taken before the primaries put Abbott's lead over Davis in the low double digits.  That margin sounds about right to me.

In a red state like Texas, Davis' task was never going to be easy.  The negative media attention surrounding her divorce probably serve to make that task only harder.  At this point, barring a serious misstep that would disqualify Abbott, Republicans appear headed to another gubernatorial victory in Texas, their sixth in a row.

Preliminary projection:  Strong GOP Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Texas Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 10:25pm 04/09/14 :: link
When Republican Lamar Alexander defeated Democrat Jake Butcher in 1978 race, he began a pattern in Tennessee gubernatorial elections that remains unbroken to this day.  Every governor elected since then has won re-election to a second term.  And each has succeeded someone from the opposite party.
Tennessee Governor Election Winners since 1978
Governor Party Years Elected Served
Lamar Alexander Republican 1978, 1982 2 terms
Ned McWherter Democrat 1986, 1990 2 terms
Don Sundquist Republican 1994, 1998 2 terms
Phil Bredesen Democrat 2002, 2006 2 terms
Bill Haslam Republican 2010, 2014? 2 terms?
Republican Bill Haslam, the current top executive and a Republican, continued the pattern by winning the office in 2010, succeeding term-limited Democrat Phil Bredesen.  But will he be able to keep it going in 2014?  History says yes - and so do some other factors in the 2014 Tennessee Governor race.

First, and most importantly, is Tennessee ever-reddening ideological makeup.  In a state routinely represented by Democratic senators throughout much of the last century, Vice-president Al Gore's 1990 election victory here marks the last time the blue team has sent someone to the Senate from Tennessee.  And the GOP's dominance in the Volunteer State culminated four years ago when they captured complete control of state government for the first time since 1869.

Second, Democrats struggled to find a first-tier candidate to mount a challenge.  Several state legislators declined a run, including House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, former State Senator Roy Herron - who chairs the state Democratic Party - and State Senator Jim Kyle, an unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate four years ago.

Finally, while Haslam's approval rating has seen a marked decrease over the last year, down from 68% last Spring, it still sits close to 50%.  In some situations, that number might not instill confidence in an incumbent's chances for re-election.  However, in a Republican state like Tennessee, it signifies he's most likely done well enough to get a second term - and keep that pattern going for another four years.

Preliminary projection:  Solid GOP Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Tennessee Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 9:04pm 04/08/14 :: link
Former South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds is running for this Senate this year.  Four years ago, Rounds closed out his second term as Chief Executive of the Mount Rushmore State.  He was term-limited that year and therefore barred from seeking a third term.

In the race to replace him, the GOP held a significant advantage.  South Dakota is one of the most Republican states in the nation, and that strong conservative lean pushed Rounds' Lt. Governor Dennis Daugaard to an easy victory over State Senate Minority Leader Scott Heidepriem.

Daugaard is up for re-election in the 2014 South Dakota Governor race, and his prospects look very positive.  In the June 3rd Republican primary, he is facing former State Representative Lora Hubbel.  He should have no problem advancing to the general election where he'll meet either Joe Lowe, who once served as Mayor of Mission Viejo, California, or State Representative Susan Wismer.

The one poll I've seen on the race is a Rasmussen Reports survey from late February which showed Daugaard 40 points ahead of Lowe.  That margin might be a bit high, but the incumbent looks set to enjoy an overwhelming re-election victory.

Preliminary projection:  Solid GOP Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the South Dakota Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 9:13pm 04/07/14 :: link
In a state as red as South Carolina, the race for governor shouldn't be much of a test for an incumbent Republican.  But Nikki Haley, the nation's first female Indian-American governor, can't rest easy.  With approval ratings in the mid-40's, she is a target of Democrats despite South Carolina's conservative lean.

Her opponent in the general election will be Democrat State Senator Vincent Sheheen.  The battle with Sheheen is a rematch of Haley's first gubernatorial election run.  Four years ago, Sheheen showed his mettle as a legitimate statewide candidate by coming within four points of capturing the statehouse.  The near miss was even more noteworthy considering the national Republican wave that year.

But before the general election matchup is settled, Haley must face a surprise primary challenge from former two-term member of the S.C. House of Representatives, Tom Ervin.  The former legislator filed papers to enter the race just 24 hours before the Palmetto State's March 30 filing deadline.  He probably won't threaten the incumbent, but unconfirmed reports indicate he may be ready to spend a lot of his own money to try to make the primary a real race.

We'll assume for now that Haley advances out of the primary with the nomination.  She will once again be the beneficiary of friendly political winds, though time will tell how strong those winds turn out to be.  This is definitely a race to keep an eye on.  With Democrats bracing for potentially massive losses on Capitol Hill, they look to the many governor races on tap this year for good news.  Already projected to gain in the statehouse tally this year, Democrats could find an unexpected prize in South Carolina should Governor Haley stumble on the way to November.

Preliminary projection:  Mod GOP Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the South Carolina Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 10:41pm 04/03/14 :: link
When I look at the political career of Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, a picture comes to mind of a meandering misfit wandering around the political spectrum looking for a place to fit in.  It's not that Chafee's ideology has changed; he is still liberal-leaning, just as he was when was appointed to the Senate in 1999 as a Republican.  However, his party affiliation has changed - multiple times.

After serving 7 years in the Senate - he won election in his own right in 2000 - Chafee lost his re-election bid in 2006 to current Senator Shelden Whitehouse.  A year after the loss, in September, 2007, Chafee left the GOP and registered as an Independent.  Three years later, Chafee entered the race for Governor of Rhode Island.  He won a three-way race with Democrat Frank Caprio and Republican John Robitaille, becoming the first Independent governor of the state since 1790.

Running the state hasn't been an easy task for Chafee, and he's experienced serious difficulty satisfying his constituency.  Struggling against poor job approval numbers and searching for some re-election momentum, Chafee announced he was switching party affiliation again in May, 2013.  This time, he would try being a Democrat.  He hoped attaching a (D) to his name would help his chances in the 2014 Rhode Island Governor race by giving him the party organization and backing he would not have as a Independent candidate.

The move apparently did not improve his prospects very much, and on September 4, 2013 Chafee announced he would not seek another term in Providence.  His decision increases the likelihood that this governorship will remain in Democratic hands.  Charlie Cook reacted to Chafee's withdrawal by shifting his rating for the race from Toss-up to Lean D.

Two prominent Democrats lead a field of four vying for the Democratic nomination.  State Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Angel Tavares are in a very close race with Tavares owning a slight 4-point lead in the only poll released so far this year.  On the Republican side, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung looked to be headed to the nomination without challenge until Moderate Party founder Ken Block decided to drop a third-party run and run as a Republican.

Rhode Island is as blue as they come, and the Democratic nominee should prevail in November.  The margin of victory might not compare to Obama's 27.5% rout here in 2012, but I wouldn't be surprised to see it reach double-digits.

Preliminary projection:  Strong DEM Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Rhode Island Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 8:35pm 04/02/14 :: link
2014 Elections on Demand
Projections
Polls
Projection Scorecard
Senate
Democrats
49   -4
Republicans
49   +4
Independents
2*
House
Republicans
234
Democrats
201
Governors
Republicans
28   -1
Democrats
22   +1
These numbers are preliminary and reflect only races previewed here on EP.
*Both Independent Senators caucus with the Democrats.
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