2018 Election Contests Continue to Take Shape

April 2, 2018

This article originally appeared on BIPAC's blog. Written by BIPAC Political Analyst Jim Ellis.

Key Takeaways:

  • Florida:  Gov. Rick Scott (R) schedules announcement and expected to challenge Sen. Bill Nelson (D) in Senate race
  • Iowa 3: Democrat challenger against Rep. David Young (R) fails to qualify for the ballot and a major blow to Democratic chances of winning that seat
  • New York 25:  candidates begin announcing after Rep. Louise Slaughter's (D) passing; unknown if this seat will remain vacant until Nov. 6 or if Gov. Cuomo will call a special election
  • Illinois Poll:  Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) in serious trouble as his opponent, J.B. Pritzker (D) jumps out to a commanding 46-28% lead in recent poll
  • Hawaii Poll:  Gov. David Ige (D) significantly behind in the Democratic primary for Governor - losing to Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D) by a 47-27% margin in latest survey


Florida: It appears that Gov. Rick Scott (R) will soon become an official Senate candidate, a move that has been anticipated for more than a year. Toward the end of the week, Mr. Scott scheduled what he calls "a major announcement" for April 9th. The Governor has yet to commit to challenging Sen. Bill Nelson (D), but the former man's vast wealth and universal name identification provides him the luxury of skipping the preliminary campaign organizational period. Though not a Senate candidate, an unconnected Super PAC has been advertising heavily throughout Florida pushing a Scott-backed issue agenda, and extolling the Governor's strong role in implementing positive change during his tenure in office. Polling has consistently shown that a Nelson-Scott Senate race would be a toss-up, an unsurprising conclusion in politically swing Florida.

Massachusetts: A new WBUR Boston Public Radio poll (3/16-18; 504 MA registered voters) tested Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) against two potential Republican opponents as she runs for her first re-election. According to the data, Sen. Warren posts a 53:36% positive to negative personal favorability rating. Paired with former state Consumer Affairs Department director Beth Lindstrom (R), Sen. Warren forges a 56-33% advantage. Against state Rep. Geoff Diehl (R-Norwell), Ms. Warren scores a slightly stronger 58-32%.

Pennsylvania: A just-released Franklin & Marshall College poll (3/19-26; 423 PA registered voters) gives us some new information about the Keystone State's political affairs, but the methodology is suspect. The sample size is small for a statewide poll in a large domain, the sampling period long, the error factor high (6.8%), and the results yield a slight Democratic skew. Though the flaws are obviously significant, the ballot test result finds Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) leading Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Hazelton), 43-25%.


IA-3: Real estate developer Theresa Greenfield's congressional candidacy was seesawing between qualifying for the ballot and not during the past few days. Enough of Ms. Greenfield's ballot petition signatures were ruled invalid to keep her from attaining official candidate status. When Democratic Attorney General Tom Miller issued an opinion supporting the Iowa State Objection Panel's ruling, Ms. Greenfield announced that she will end her candidacy. The administrative bungle is a major blow to Democratic chances of unseating two-term Rep. David Young (R-Van Meter/Des Moines). Party leaders believe that Ms. Greenfield is their best candidate.

MN-8: In an unsurprising move, since he was taking no action to become a candidate other than not to rule out running, state House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) said this week that he will not enter the Iron Range 8th District open US House race. St. Louis County Commissioner Pete Stauber continues as the leading Republican candidate for the open congressional district, a seat that Republicans believe will be converted. In the last two elections, retiring Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Crosby/Duluth) has won by 1.4 percentage points (2014), and less than ½ percent (2016).

NV-3: A new Strategic National poll (3/10-11; 400 NV-3 likely voters), taken just before 2016 Republican nominee Danny Tarkanian switched out of the Senate race and into this campaign, finds him substantially leading all of the GOP candidates who announced weeks ago. According to the data, Mr. Tarkanian scores a 37-10-9-9-1% lead over former television news reporter Michelle Mortensen, state Sen. Scott Hammond, ex-Assemblywoman Victoria Seaman, and former Clark County Republican Party chairman Dave McKeon, respectively. Upon Tarkanian re-entering the congressional campaign, Ms. Seaman withdrew her candidacy.

NY-25: Now that veteran New York Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-Rochester) has been laid to rest after she unexpectedly passed away on March 16th, candidates are beginning to announce for the vacant 25th Congressional District. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has yet to announce whether he will call a special election or allow the seat to remain vacant until the regular November 6thvote. Supported by several individuals who were said to be considering their own candidacies, such as the late Congresswoman's daughter, state Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle (D) announced his candidacy and immediately becomes the race favorite. Brighton Town Board member Robin Wilt also joined the Democratic field. On the Republican side, party leaders appear to be coalescing around surgeon James Maxwell who weeks ago launched a campaign against Rep. Slaughter.


Colorado: So far, faring well in early polling and demonstrating strength in county party conventions, Democratic former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy continues to prove she is far from an "also ran" candidate. A new Magellan Strategies poll (3/20-23; 410 CO likely Democratic primary voters and unaffiliated voters who choose the Democratic primary ballot) finds US Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulder) holding only a 27-23% lead over Ms. Kennedy. Far behind are former state Sen. Mike Johnston (D-Denver) and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne who capture 8 and 5% support, respectively. Two-term Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Florida: Public Policy Polling, surveying for an undisclosed labor organization (3/23-25; 613 FL likely Democratic primary voters) tested the upcoming open gubernatorial campaign. According to their results, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, who has already been advertising on electronic media, has taken the lead over former US Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Tallahassee), 22-19%. Trailing well behind is Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum at 8%, and businessman Chris King with 5% support. Much time remains in this nomination campaign, however. The Florida state primary is not until August 28th.

Hawaii: Four years ago, then-state Sen. David Ige (D) rocked Hawaii politics with his 66-31% rout of sitting Gov. Neil Abercrombie in the 2014 Democratic primary. Now, the tables appear to be turning. A new Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy survey (3/13-18; 800 HI voters; 498 HI likely Democratic primary voters) finds US Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Honolulu) crushing Gov. Ige, 47-27%, if the August 11th primary election were held today. A series of mistakes, including the highly publicized false alarm that the state was under an imminent nuclear attack, has hampered the Governor's job approval rating.

Illinois: The first post March 20th primary poll was released into the public domain, and the Ogden & Fry/ABC News 7 survey (3/23; 667 IL registered voters) finds the new Democratic gubernatorial nominee, venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker, jumping out to a commanding lead over incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner (R). The data reports a 46-28% Pritzker advantage. Such a result is not particularly surprising. Gov. Rauner has poor approval ratings and failed to reach even 52% in his own Republican primary.

Iowa: Way back in June of last year, Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett launched a Republican primary challenge to new Governor Kim Reynolds, soon after she succeeded departing Gov. Terry Branstad who had been appointed US Ambassador to China. The Iowa State Objection Panel, however, just ruled that Mr. Corbett did not submit enough valid petition signatures to qualify him for a ballot position. The minimum number of valid signatures for Iowa statewide candidates to obtain is 4,005 and Mr. Corbett was disqualified for being eight valid nominating petition signatures short. Late this week, the Cedar Rapids Mayor said he will challenge the state panel's decision in court. The Iowa primary is scheduled for June 5th.

Maine: Though candidate filing has already been completed, Maine state Senate President Mike Thibodeau (R-Waldo County) announced that he is dropping his bid to succeed term-limited Gov. Paul LePage (R). Originally, five Republicans, seven Democrats, and six Independents had filed to run in the statewide campaign. Though Gov. LePage is not supporting a particular Republican candidate, he did previously announce his opposition to Thibodeau. The general election is viewed to be a toss-up. The Maine primary is scheduled forJune 12th.

Nevada: National Democratic pollster Expedition Strategies surveyed the open Silver State gubernatorial primary scheduled for June 12th. According to the poll (3/17-19; 600 NV likely Democratic primary voters) Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani holds a slight 31-27% edge over her local governing board colleague, Commissioner Steve Sisolak. The result confirms that the Democratic nomination is up for grabs. The winner will face the eventual GOP nominee, most likely Attorney General Adam Laxalt. Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Massachusetts: The aforementioned WBUR Boston Public Radio poll (see MA-Senate above) finds first-term Republican Gov. Charlie Baker in strong shape heading into his first re-election. With a favorability index of 66:14%, Gov. Baker leads Newton Mayor Setti Warren (D) 54-28%, and the latter man is actually fares best among the three Democrats tested. Though Massachusetts is one of the strongest Democratic states in the country, it has a penchant for electing Republican Governors. The GOP has won five of the last seven gubernatorial elections since former Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis did not seek re-election in 1990.

Pennsylvania: The aforementioned Franklin & Marshall College poll (see PA-Senate above) finds Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf comfortably leading the filed Republican candidates. Against state Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York), Gov. Wolf records a 38-21% advantage. Paired with the other two Republican candidates, the Governor fares better. If former Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce president Laura Ellsworth were the GOP nominee, the Governor's advantage would be 51-22%. Opposite businessman Paul Mango, Mr. Wolf's general election polling advantage registers a 40-22% spread.

South Carolina: The Save the Children Action Network commissioned a joint Democratic and Republican poll that was just released (TargetPoint Consulting/Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research; 3/10-17; 800 SC registered voters; 397 SC likely Republican primary voters; 296 SC likely Democratic voters), and the totals find Gov. Henry McMaster (R) pulling 41% support. Former state cabinet official Catherine Templeton is next with 10%, followed by Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant's five percent, while former Democratic Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill posts 3%, and Greenville businessman John Warren stands at 2% support. For the Democrats, state Rep. James Smith (D-Columbia) leads with 18% over Florence attorney Marguerite Willis' 11%, and Charleston businessman Phil Noble who garners seven percent. If no candidate receives majority support in the original party primary elections, the top two finishers then advance to aJune 26th run-off election.