Political Analysis - August 5, 2016

Political Forecast & Review - August 5, 2016

President

Donald Trump’s unforced errors over the past several days have caused his polling standing to nosedive.  Once the hysteria subsides and the campaign again adopts a more normal footing, we will be able to better sense the candidates’ long-term prospects. 

The latest five polls, that feature sampling periods ending on an August date, give Ms. Clinton an average lead of 8.8 percentage points.  This includes a high of 15 points from the McClatchy/Marist College poll, and a low of just four points from Ipsos/Reuters.  The other pollsters are: UPI/C-Voter (6 point spread), Fox News (10 points), and NBC/Wall Street Journal (9 points).

Numerous Republican office holders going public to condemn Trump’s comments is having an effect upon the new Republican nominee’s polling standing, helping to drive his downturn, and Clinton is poised to take full advantage.

It is safe to say that if the election were tomorrow, Hillary Clinton would be elected.  The actual date, however, is not tomorrow but rather over 90 days away.  Much can and will happen during that time period.

Senate

Senate primaries were held in Kansas, Missouri and Washington.  As expected, Sunflower State Sen. Jerry Moran posted a 79% victory in his Republican primary.  Incumbent Roy Blunt (R) and Secretary of State Jason Kander easily advanced to the general election from the Missouri primaries, each posting over 70% support. 

In Washington, the jungle primary format led to Sen. Patty Murray (D) and former Washington Republican Party chairman and ex-King County Councilman Chris Vance (R) moving to the general election.  Sen. Murray is a prohibitive favorite to win a fifth term in November.  She scored 53% of the overall primary vote versus Vance’s 29%.

House

Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Fowler/West Kansas), who had been at the center of controversy since coming to Congress in 2010 and being at odds with his own party leadership virtually since his first day in office, went down to a crushing Republican primary defeat this week at the hands of Dr. Roger Marshall (R), a Great Bend, KS obstetrician.  The final margin was 56-44%.

The campaign centered around Huelskamp being removed from the Agriculture Committee during his first term.  From an agriculture dominated district that contains the sprawling territory covering more than half of the state’s land area, being stripped of his voice on the committee of most importance to his constituency led to the Congressman’s downfall.  The fact that Dr. Marshall was his lone opponent also played poorly for Rep. Huelskamp, since the entire anti-incumbent vote had only one avenue to voice their opposition. 

Rep. Huelskamp becomes the third incumbent to lose re-nomination.  Earlier, Virginia Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Chesapeake) lost his re-nomination campaign after a mid-decade redistricting court order forced him to choose to run in a completely new district.  Philadelphia Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), facing multiple federal corruption charges, also fell in his bid to be nominated for another term.

In the two open Michigan districts, the Upper Peninsula’s 1st District featured a tough three-way Republican primary where retired Marine Corps General Jack Bergman upset state Sen. Tom Casperson and former state Sen. Jason Allen by a five point margin.  Gen. Bergman will now face Michigan Democratic Party chairman Lon Johnson who easily defeated 2014 congressional nominee Jerry Cannon.  This will be a highly competitive general election.

Turning to the Macomb County district, businessman Paul Mitchell (R) taking advantage of his multi-million dollar spending spree won a close contest over state Sen. Phil Pavlov (R).  In 2014, Mitchell also expended copious amounts of his own money only to lose in the open 4th District.  Now moving across the state for this open race, he appears to have met with success two years later.  Mr. Mitchell now becomes the prohibitive favorite to replace Rep. Candice Miller (R), who is running for local office.

Tennessee hosts the nation’s only Thursday primary. The most serious incumbent challenge was levied at Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-South Pittsburg), but the Congressman held off attorney and former Romney campaign aide Grant Starrett, 52-43%.  Desjarlais prevailed despite Starrett spending over $1.5 million, much more than the size of the Congressman’s campaign budget.

In the open west Tennessee 8th District, former US Attorney David Kustoff topped a Republican field of 13 candidates to win the party nomination, which will prove to be his ticket to Congress.  Kustoff garnered 27% of the 61,000+ voter turnout, outpacing physician and former Shelby County Commissioner George Flinn (R) who posted 24%.  No other candidate even reached the 20% plateau.  Rep. Stephen Fincher (R) is retiring after three terms.

Incumbents of both parties other than Huelskamp, in Michigan, Missouri, Tennessee, Washington, and Kansas were all either re-nominated in their respective primaries or advanced to the general election in jungle primary format.

Governor

The hotly contested open four-way Missouri Republican primary ended with Afghan/ Iraq War veteran Eric Greitens winning the gubernatorial nomination over businessman John Brunner, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, and former US Attorney and state House Speaker Catherine Hanaway.  Mr. Greitens will now face Attorney General Chris Koster (D) who easily won the Democratic primary.  The Republican race was expected to be closer.  Greitens held a ten point, 35-25%, margin over his next closest competitor.  Gov. Jay Nixon (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

In Washington, as expected, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and Seattle Port Commissioner Bill Bryant (R) advanced to the general election.  Because of the state’s mail-only voting system, the final percentage results won’t be known for several days but it is expected to be in the 49-39% neighborhood.  Despite Washington’s staunchly Democratic voting history, this gubernatorial race could become seriously competitive.