Political Analysis - May 13, 2016

Political Forecast & Review - May 13, 2016

President

Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump (R) cemented his new status with big primary wins in West Virginia and Nebraska earlier in the week. These victories proved important in helping to determine whether highly publicized anti-Trump moves from several establishment Republican figures were having any effect. The answer is apparently not, as the unofficial nominee recorded 70 and 60% voter preference levels in West Virginia and Nebraska, respectively.

For the Democrats, though former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) continues to chip away at the number of committed delegates she needs to clinch the nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) defeated her yet again in another electoral event. His 51-36% triumph in West Virginia was expected, however, considering Clinton’s previous negative comments about the coal industry, a sentiment not welcome in the heart of devastated coal country. 

Clinton did rebound with a victory in the Nebraska Democratic contest, but the delegates there were apportioned according to a separate pro-Sanders caucus event weeks ago.

New presidential polling was released in the early part of the week. The first study came from the Miami Herald newspaper and showed Clinton leading Trump 52-25% in the Sunshine State. It later came out that the survey was only of Miami area voters, and not the entire state.

Quinnipiac University then released three polls of crucial swing states. According to their data, the impending race between the two unofficial nominees is a dead heat in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Clinton has one point leads in Florida and Pennsylvania, while Mr. Trump is up four percentage points in Ohio. Obviously, these results point to toss-up races in these three potentially determinative states. In New Hampshire, the new Dartmouth University survey found Ms. Clinton holding a 34-29% advantage.

Senate

The Senate versions of the aforementioned Quinnipiac polls find close races in all of the swing states they tested. The Florida situation yielded single-digit margins in every combination they surveyed for the many candidates. The most indicative result found Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Jupiter) ahead of Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Daytona) by just 36-35%.

Their Pennsylvania poll also found a one-point, 45-44% spread between Sen. Pat Toomey (R) and new Democratic nominee Katie McGinty. A similar result was found in the Ohio Q-Poll. There, former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) held a 43-42% edge over Sen. Rob Portman (R). The latter is taking no chances with his campaign. He’s already booked an unprecedented $14 million in advertising for the closing week of the campaign.

House

In the Omaha district congressional primary, freshman Rep. Brad Ashford (D) now has an official general election opponent. Apparently, however, it is not the one he wanted.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) ran $400,000 worth of media ads, in virtually unprecedented fashion, trying to prop up former state Senator and ex-Douglas County Commissioner Chip Maxwell (R) in the GOP primary. According to the DCCC ads, Maxwell was more conservative than retired Air Force General Don Bacon (R), thinking that line would appeal to the base Nebraska GOP voter. The ploy didn’t work. Gen. Bacon was an easy 66-34% victor. 

Nebraska’s 2nd District was one of only two in the country during 2014 to see an incumbent Republican lose his seat. Now, last election’s winner, Mr. Ashford, must defend his normally Republican-leaning seat against someone he and his party leadership view as the tougher opponent. The primary result here places this eastern Nebraska district at the top of the Republican challenger list.

A favored Democrat in West Virginia also lost. Army veteran Cory Simpson (D), despite Democratic Party backing, fell to former state Delegate Mark Hunt (D) who spent less than $100,000 on his primary campaign. The upset is good news for freshman incumbent Alex Mooney (R), who faces a competitive general election campaign but with the wind at his back. 

Governor

Jim Justice (D), West Virginia’s billionaire businessman who says he’s proficient at three things (shooting a shotgun, making deals, and coaching basketball), won the open Democratic gubernatorial primary over former US Attorney Booth Goodwin (D), and state Senate Minority Leader and ex-gubernatorial candidate Jeff Kessler (D). Mr. Justice’s margin was a substantial 50-26-24%. 

He now faces current state Senate President Bill Cole (R) in what should be a close and colorful November race. West Virginia’s current Governor, Earl Ray Tomblin (D), is ineligible to run for a third term.