This article originally appeared on BIPAC's blog. Written by BIPAC Political Analyst Jim Ellis.
Fox News released a national presidential approval poll (2/11-13; 1,103 US registered voters), which produced exactly the same President Trump favorability rating as Rasmussen Reports detected last week. By a slight margin of 48:47%, the respondents view President Trump's performance in office as favorable. But, the individual issue numbers suggest the President's standing is much better.
When asked whether they believe the economy will be stronger or weaker next year, a decisive 55% responded "better", versus only 35% who said "worse." Forty-six percent believe the country will be "safer" next year, versus 43% who say the opposite. By a margin of 52-45%, respondents rate President Trump as a "strong leader." And, a scant majority, 50-49%, says they trust the President's judgment in a crisis.
Answering whether the respondents believe the Trump Administration is "doing things to help your family," 47% agreed while 48% disagreed. Even this response rate is not particularly bad for a Republican candidate or office holder.
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake (R) again received some bad public polling news, and clearly has not politically recovered from his national feud with President Trump during the election campaign.
According to the Political Marketing Information (PMI) polling firm (2/7; 921 likely 2018 Republican primary voters via automated response device), Sen. Flake actually trails former state Sen. Kelli Ward (R), 30-23% in an early Republican primary ballot test. Ms. Ward garnered 40% of the vote in her 2016 GOP challenge to Sen. John McCain.
The more dangerous potential Republican challenger, however, continues to sit in the wings. State Treasurer Jeff DeWit (R), the top Arizona spokesman for Trump during the campaign, has already announced that he will not seek re-election next year, but has yet to declare for the Senate. Mr. DeWit was not tested in this poll, but is likely that his standing would even be higher than Ms. Ward's in comparison to Sen. Flake.
The Arizona Senate primary is certainly becoming a race to watch. Democrats are stepping up their candidate recruiting here in anticipation of facing a weakened Sen. Flake in the 2018 general election.
As reported last week, 4th District Republican Committee delegates in former Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo's (R-Wichita) House seat elected state Treasurer Ron Estes as the party nominee for the April 11th special election. Following suit, the local Democratic convention chose newcomer attorney James Thompson in an upset result. The favorite had been former state Treasurer Dennis McKinney, but him losing as an incumbent to Estes in 2010 by landslide proportions - 25 points throughout District 4, in fact - gave a majority of Democratic delegates reason for pause. Clearly most believe they have a better chance fielding a fresh face than they do with an individual who has already lost badly to Mr. Estes.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R), as expected, quickly scheduled the special election to replace Rep. Tom Price (R-Roswell) now that the latter has been confirmed as Health & Human Services Secretary. Already 15 candidates have announced their intention to enter the special election. Democrats, citing President Trump carrying the 6th District by only a point and one-half after comfortably retaining this CD all the way back to when Newt Gingrich represented the region, feel they want to make a stand in this particular special election.
Gov. Deal has called the jungle primary for April 18th, with a special general to follow on June 20th. All candidates will be on one ballot with the top two finishers advancing to the subsequent run-off. Should a candidate receive a majority of the vote on 4/18 - something considered highly unlikely - the individual would then be elected outright.
Maine's Susan Collins (R) is apparently joining a rather long line of US Senators either actively or previously considering entering their state's open Governor's race. Already, Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Tom Udall (D-NM) publicly explored the gubernatorial waters but decided to remain in the Senate. Sens. Collins, Durbin and Udall are next in-cycle during the 2020 election, while all the other aforementioned office holders will face the voters next year.
Sen. Collins is now beginning to acknowledge that she is considering running for Governor. She clearly would be formidable, being first elected to the Senate in 1996 and racking up a 67% victory for a fourth term in 2014. Simultaneously, term-limited Gov. Paul LePage (R) is publicly considering challenging Independent Sen. Angus King. The only other Governor looking at a potential Senate race is Florida's Rick Scott (R).
Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind polling sector just released their new New Jersey Governor's poll (1/25-29; 839 NJ registered voters; 410 self-identified Democratic voters; 275 self-identified Republican voters). The results were inconclusive because the open seat contenders have low name identification.
For the Democrats, former Wall Street executive and ex-US Ambassador Phil Murphy tops the field with just 17% support. State Sen. Ray Lesniak is second with 7%, while Assemblyman John Wisniewski follows at 6%. On the Republican side, though the 275-member sample cell is much too low to gauge accurately, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno leads comedian Joe Piscopo, 18-12%. Gov. Chris Christie (R) is ineligible to seek a third term. Democrats will be favored to convert this state house.