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Another House Incumbent Primary Defeat

July 6, 2020

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

Key Takeaways

  • Presidential Polling: GA; MO; PA; WI
  • KY-Sen: Amy McGrath finally wins Democratic nomination
  • CO-Sen: Ex-Gov. John Hickenlooper wins Dem nomination
  • CO-3: Rep. Scott Tipton (R) defeated for re-nomination
  • UT-4: Ex-NFL player Burgess Owens wins GOP nomination
  • UT-Gov: Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox (R) headed for slim win


Georgia:  Public Policy Polling’s new Georgia poll (6/25-26; 734 GA self-identified “voters”), gives former Vice President Joe Biden a 49-45% edge in this most critical of battleground states. The Democratic nominee, however, being up at this point in the election cycle is not particularly unusual. Looking back at the 2016 race, the Real Clear Politics polling archives reveals that while Mr. Trump led in almost every Georgia poll four years ago, two in early August, from the Atlanta Journal Constitution and JMC Analytics, found Hillary Clinton topping her opponent by four and seven points, respectively.

Missouri:  Garin-Hart-Yang Research conducted a fully online poll of the Missouri electorate (6/16-22; 800 MO likely general election voters; online) and project Joe Biden to be taking a two point 48-46% lead over President Trump in what is still regarded as a safe Republican state. An online poll is typically unreliable and an unusual vehicle for Garin-Hart-Yang. Six other polls have been conducted of the Show Me State electorate since early April, and all find President Trump maintaining a lead between 4 and 13 percentage points.

Pennsylvania:  Susquehanna Polling & Research, a Harrisburg, PA based survey firm, during the middle of the week released the results of their new Keystone State study (6/15-23; 715 PA likely general election voters). According to their likely voters data, former Vice President Joe Biden would lead President Trump, 46-41% in the critically important swing state.

Wisconsin:  The Trafalgar Group, the only polling firm to correctly project President Trump winning a close Wisconsin contest in 2016, again defies the polling mainstream. Their new Badger State survey (6/23-25; 1,021 WI likely voters) reveals a one point, 46-45% edge, in the President’s favor. A trio of other June polls from three separate pollsters give former Vice President Joe Biden leads between six and eleven points. During the 2016 election cycle, the Trafalgar Group poll was the only survey during the entire election cycle (33 polls) that found Mr. Trump leading Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin. He would win the state by 22,748 votes.


Alabama:  Last week, as we reported, the Cygnal research group released survey data (6/13-16; 560 AL likely general election voters) that found retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville (R) leading Sen. Doug Jones (D), 50-36%, and former US Attorney General and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) holding a 45-35% advantage over the first-term Senator as they strive to finish the postponed GOP runoff that will be decided July 14th.

At the end of last week, the Democratic firm ALG Research (6/18-22; 600 AL likely general election voters) countered with figures showing a much closer race, though still posting both Tuberville and Sessions ahead of Jones. ALG finds Mr. Tuberville holding a 47-44% general election lead, while Mr. Sessions’ edge was a similar 45-43 percent.

Arizona:  Three polls conducted during the June 26-29 period produced very different results. Change Research, as part of their semi-national poll over six battleground states including Arizona, found retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D) leading appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R), 53-44%. This poll has a huge error factor, however, since it is online derived and used a sample of only 311 likely voters, barely enough for one congressional district poll.

Local pollster Data Orbital (6/27-29; 600 AZ likely voters), however, found a similar result with a better polling methodology. They find Kelly holding a 50-43% advantage. Gravis Marketing, however, has a completely different take in their Arizona poll conducted fully on June 27th of 527 likely voters. They project Sen. McSally to be holding a 46-42% lead, her first such edge through 14 polls over the last five months.

Colorado:  Former Colorado Governor and presidential candidate John Hickenlooper won the state Democratic primary this week with a 60-40% win over former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff. The victory margin was less than originally expected but pumped up after Hickenlooper began losing ground. Outside groups, including national Democratic institutional organizations, came to the rescue with a seven-figure media buy to help the former Governor’s cause. He now advances into the general election to face Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Georgia:  The previously mentioned Public Policy Polling survey (see President section above) also tested the Georgia special Senate election among those described as “voters.” Though closing, PPP finds Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) still leading the jungle primary field but with a reduced margin of 23-21-20% over appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) and Baptist pastor Raphael Warnock (D). In run-off pairings pitting each Republican against Rev. Warnock, Rep. Collins would hold a 43-41% advantage, while Sen. Loeffler would trail him, 40-43%.

Kentucky:  A full week after the Kentucky primary, which featured a record turnout of more than 1 million voters in the combined Democratic and Republican primaries, retired Marine Corps helicopter pilot Amy McGrath was finally projected to have defeated state Rep. Charles Booker’s (D-Louisville) in a close race. With more votes still awaiting to be counted from several counties, Ms. McGrath did well in rural areas throughout the state but lost the biggest population centers of Louisville, Lexington, and Bowling Green. The actual vote count yielded a McGrath lead of 45.4 – 42.6% over Rep. Booker, a spread of 15,149 votes of the 544,062 ballots so far recorded and tabulated. Ms. McGrath now faces Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) in the general election.

Maine:  Moore Information just released a new survey that defies recent polling trends. Their just released Maine poll (6/20-24; 600 ME registered voters) finds Sen. Susan Collins (R) resuming the lead over her likely Democratic general election opponent, state House Speaker Sara Gideon (D-Freeport). The Moore figures post Sen. Collins to a 45-37% advantage. Prior to this survey, Ms. Gideon had led in three of the last four statewide polls conducted since mid-February.

North Carolina:  Two North Carolina US Senate polls were released this week and again show just how different separate polling samples can behave. The Democratic firm Change Research, which prides itself on developing its “Bias Correct” methodology, conducted their North Carolina survey as part of a national study over the June 26-28 period that included five other states and an aggregate 3,729 respondents. Their NC sample was 468 likely voters. Change produces a 51-41% lead for ex-state Sen. Cal Cunningham (D) over first-term US Sen. Thom Tillis (R).

Conversely, East Carolina University (6/22-29; 1,149 NC registered voters) finds a much different political picture. According to the ECU much larger survey sample, the two candidates are tied at 41% apiece.

Oklahoma:  Veteran Senator Jim Inhofe (R), who, at 85 years of age, is seeking a fifth full term, easily won his Republican primary last Tuesday with a 75% victory margin. His now-official Democratic challenger is former television report Abby Broyles, who easily became her party’s standard bearer on Tuesday night. Sen. Inhofe is a heavy favorite for re-election in November.


CO-3:  The shock of June 30th primary night was five-term Colorado Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) losing to insurgent challenger Lauren Boebert, a business owner who stressed 2nd Amendment protection and less government as her campaign message staples. Though spending less than $200,000 on her campaign, Ms. Boebert, who owns an Interstate 70 restaurant called “Shooters Grill” in Rifle, CO and typically wears a firearm strapped to her hip, successfully painted Rep. Tipton as falling in with the Washington, DC crowd and defeated him by almost 10,000 votes.

Rep. Tipton becomes the fifth incumbent to lose re-nomination this year, and the third Republican. Ms. Boebert now advances into the general election against 2018 nominee Diane Mitsch Bush, who won the Democratic primary with 61% of the vote. The general election is now expected to be competitive.

OK-5:  Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District, which contains the state’s largest metro area of Oklahoma City, will see two Republicans advance into an August 25th runoff election. Former Lt. Governor nominee Terry Neese placed first in the crowded field of nine candidates, topping state Sen. Stephanie Bice (R-Oklahoma City) by eleven percentage points, but the latter woman’s finish was strong enough to advance her into the runoff. The eventual GOP nominee then challenges freshman Rep. Kendra Horn (D-Oklahoma City) in a race that becomes a Republican must-win.

UT-1:  The open Republican primary, which will decide who replaces retiring Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Brigham City), looks to be going ex-Foreign Service officer and businessman Blake Moore’s way. From post-election counting after the original election night votes were published, Mr. Moore now maintains a 2,669 vote margin over Davis County Commissioner Bob Stevenson. This is way up from his 576 vote edge on election night.

Former Agriculture Commissioner Kerry Gibson and local Mayor Katie Witt are too far behind to overcome their vote deficits. The eventual GOP nominee, and now looking more like Mr. Moore, will become the prohibitive favorite in the general election.

UT-4:  Businessman and former NFL player Burgess Owens scored a convincing victory Tuesday night in the 4th District Republican primary, defeating state Rep. Kim Coleman (R-West Jordan) and two others with 43% of the vote. Though over half the precincts are still not reporting, Mr. Owens has already been projected as the winner.

The 4th District race featuring Rep. Ben McAdams (D-Salt Lake City) and now Mr. Owens will be one of the most important congressional races in the country and is a GOP must-win if the party is to make any concerted effort to re-capture the majority.

VA-5:  Public Policy Polling released the first 5th District general election survey numbers since the Republican district convention and the Democratic primary now that incumbent Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Manassas) is eliminated from the competition. According to PPP (6/22-23; 726 VA-5 self-described registered voters) former Campbell County Supervisor Bob Good (R) has a slight 43-41% edge over Charlottesville physician Cameron Webb (D).


Mississippi:  Gov. Tate Reeves (R) has signed legislation to place a referendum on the November ballot that will, if passed, change the state’s Jim Crow era voting system that makes gubernatorial candidates win a majority of state House of Representatives’ districts irrespective of their finish in the popular vote. The referendum would eliminate the state House requirement and instead install a general election runoff like the state of Georgia uses. There, if no general election candidate receives an absolute majority of votes, a run-off between the top two finishers occurs in the post-election period.

New York:  New York City election officials say they won’t even start counting absentee ballots until sometime next week. While some Upstate counties are moving quicker, Long Island election officials claim it could take more than two weeks before they are ready to release even unofficial final returns. Several races remain uncalled, and there is a good chance the state will take a month to finally certify their general election nominees.

Utah:  In another race that is not quite over but trending a certain way, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox leads the Republican primary field with an updated margin of 10,929 vote advantage over former Gov. Jon Huntsman, but the latter man leads in dominant Salt Lake County by almost 17,000 votes. The remaining candidates, former state House Speaker Greg Hughes and ex-Utah Republican Party chairman Thomas Wright are too far back to have a realistic chance of winning.

The eventual Republican nominee will become the prohibitive favorite to succeed retiring GOP Governor Gary Herbert. Mr. Cox is maintaining his lead and appears to be positioned for a close win over Mr. Huntsman, but it is difficult to tell exactly how many votes remain outstanding.