Competitive Senate and House Races Tighten in Final Weeks

October 9, 2020

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

Key Takeaways

  • Presidential Polling: Arizona
  • ME-Sen: Sen. Susan Collins (R) drawing back into dead heat
  • NC-Sen: Post scandal polling
  • CA-25; IA-1: Falling into toss-Ups
  • MN-2: More moves to re-establish 11/3 election date
  • Governors: Delaware, Utah polling results
  • States: Puerto Rico statehood referendum polling results


Arizona:  The Data Orbital research firm is the state’s most prolific pollster because they survey races from statewide contests all the way through local campaigns.  According to this study (10/3-5; 550 AZ likely voters; live interview), former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Trump, 48-43%.  The crosstabs reveal that Trump’s problem sectors are women, the state’s dominant county – Maricopa, which houses 61.6% of Arizona’s population – and the suburban 6th Congressional District, a former Republican CD that is clearly moving to the political center.


Alabama:  The University of Auburn at Montgomery just released new numbers (9/30-10/3; 1,072 AL registered voters; online) and it confirms that former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville (R) holds a double-digit lead over Sen. Doug Jones (D).  The UofA survey finds Mr. Tuberville’s advantage reaching 54-42%. 

Georgia:  Democratic pollster Hart Research Associates ran a series of polls around the country, and the firm included Georgia’s two Senate campaigns.  Their data shows a bit of a swing from what we have been seeing in the recent past.  Most of the recent polling has shown virtually a dead heat between Sen. David Perdue (R) and challenger Jon Ossoff (D), with most yielding a slight tilt toward the Democrat. 

The Hart poll (9/24-27; 400 GA likely voters; live interview) finds Sen. Perdue leading the race by three percentage points, 49-46%.  In the Senate special election, Hart projects a tie at 28% apiece between Democrat Raphael Warnock, the pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church where Martin Luther King, Jr. and his father once served, and appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R).  Trailing with 21% is Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville).  The other two Democrats, businessman Matt Lieberman and former US Attorney Ed Tarver, fail to reach 10% support. 

If no one receives majority support on November 3rd, the top two finishers will advance to a January 5th runoff election.  It appears that moving to a secondary election is a virtual certainty.

Maine:  Sen. Susan Collins (R) appears headed back to an even footing according to a new survey that confirms others’ previous data.  Critical Insights, a progressive left research firm (9/25-10/4; 466 ME “extremely likely” voters), finds Sen. Collins and state House Speaker Sara Gideon (D-Freeport) falling into a virtual dead heat, with the challenger holding only a 44-43% lead.  In mid to late September, three individual pollsters posted Ms. Gideon to leads of 8, 7, and 4 percentage points.  The high point for Gideon came earlier in September when Quinnipiac University detected a 12-point Democratic advantage.

Michigan:  After a period where the Michigan Senate race had tightened to one-point in late September (Trafalgar Group; 9/26-28; 1,042 MI likely voters; Peters, 48-47%), two new surveys, one from the Glengariff Group (9/30-10/3; 600 MI likely voters) and the other from the Ipsos national polling firm (9/29-10/6; 709 MI likely voters; online), both show larger leads for the first-term Senator.  Glengariff posts Sen. Peters to a 45-40% edge, while Ipsos finds a slightly larger seven-point spread, 50-43%.

Montana:  Another example of polling conducted over relatively the same period but producing drastically different results just occurred in Montana.  The Data for Progress organization polling for the Crooked Media and Indivisible political blog (9/30-10/5; 737 MT voters chosen from a web panel and SMS texting; weighted) finds Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock eclipsing Sen. Steve Daines (R), 48-47%.  Within the same period, however, Emerson College, using a similar methodology (10/5-7; 500 MT likely voters; SMS texting; weighted) actually finds Sen. Daines recording his widest margin, a nine-point 52-43% spread.

North Carolina:  In a pair of polls conducted largely before the Cunningham texting scandal broke, national online pollster Ipsos and local East Carolina University released divergent North Carolina US Senate results.  Ipsos (9/29-10/6; 601 NC likely voters; online) finds Democratic nominee Cal Cunningham leading first-term Sen. Thom Tillis (R), by five percentage points, 47-42%.  This is consistent with the Public Policy Polling survey released earlier in the week that detected a six-point spread.  Both of these show a tightening of the race, however, from the Hart Research Associates and ALG Research data that found 13 and 12 point respective leads in their late September surveys. 

East Carolina (10/2-4; 1,232 NC likely voters; interactive voice response system and online), on the other hand, sees a further narrowing to the point of Tillis coming all the way back to take a one-point lead, 47-46%.  Later in the week, Public Policy Polling then went into the field almost immediately after it was revealed that Mr. Cunningham had been sending inappropriate texts to a married woman.  The PPP survey (10/4-5; 911 NC voters; interactive voice response system) finds Mr. Cunningham leading Sen. Thom Tillis (R), 48-42%. 

Pennsylvania:  Keystone State Sen. Pat Toomey (R) announced that he will not seek re-election in 2022, which isn’t a particular surprise since he indicated during the 2016 campaign that his second would likely be his final term.  The latter part of his announcement, however, did catch people off guard because he was widely expected to run for Governor in the next cycle. Sen. Toomey included in his declaration a statement saying that he will not be on the ballot for any office in 2022.  This means we will see a free-for-all among potential Republican statewide office seekers with the two top positions coming open.  Gov. Tom Wolf (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Texas:  Divergent results are being reported in another state, Texas.  This time, three pollsters Public Opinion Research, the Civiqs organization for the Daily Kos Elections website, and Data for Progress were the pollsters.  All were in the field during the September 30 through October 6 time span. 

POR, for Crosswind Media & Public Relations (10/5-6; 1,000 TX likely voters; automated response device), finds Sen. John Cornyn (R) holding a nine-point advantage, 48-39%, over retired Army helicopter pilot M.J. Hegar (D).  Civiqs, however (10/3-6; 895 TX likely voters; online) finds Cornyn’s ballot test lead at only one point, 47-46%.  Data for Progress (9/30-10/5; 1,949 TX likely voters; web panel and SMS texting; weighted) gives the Senator a three-point edge, 45-42%, but this ballot test was accompanied with Democratic issue questions.

Fundraising:  Last week, we reported that North Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Cal Cunningham may have set a record for fundraising in one quarter with over $28 million received.  This week Colorado former Governor John Hickenlooper (D), who is challenging Sen. Cory Gardner (R), and Theresa Greenfield (D) who is opposing Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst (R) both exceeded $22 million for the three-month period.  Mr. Hickenlooper leads in polling and has a strong chance of unseating Sen. Gardner.  The Ernst-Greenfield race is a toss-up.


CA-25:  Some believed when freshman California Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita) defeated state Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Newhall) by a ten-percentage point margin in the May 2020 special election with a high turnout, that the seat had returned to its Republican roots.  A new Breakthrough Campaigns survey for the Smith campaign (10/3-6; 644 CA-25 likely voters; combination live interview; SMS texting; online) finds the Assemblywoman leading Rep. Garcia, 49-47%.  A Normington Petts survey in mid-September also found Smith ahead, 51-45%, after leaners were added to both candidates’ totals.  Therefore, this race has moved back into toss-up status.

IA-1:  At the beginning of August, Monmouth University found freshman Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-Dubuque) leading former television news anchor Ashley Hinson (R) by a ten-point margin, 51-41%.  Now, Basswood Research, polling for the Congressional Leadership Fund (9/26-28; 400 IA-1 likely voters; live interview), projects a major race status change as their survey result shows the two candidates tied at 45-45%.  The 1st District has been competitive since the 2014 election, and it appears this pattern will continue in the closing stages of the current campaign.

MN-2:  As we have previously reported, Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District election has been postponed to February 9th because one of the minor party candidates suddenly passed away 79 days before the general election.  Rep. Angie Craig (D-Eagan) has filed a lawsuit challenging the Minnesota law that forces such an election delay and asking that the vote be reinstated to November 3rd.  She is urging her supporters to cast their ballots for her anyway on November 3rd, even if the state won’t count the ballots.  Apparently, the Congresswoman’s Republican opponent, Marine Corps Reserve officer Tyler Kistner, agrees with her legal argument, or at least feels she has a strong chance of prevailing.  He has now resumed television advertising in anticipation of a November 3rd vote.

NM-2:  The Tarrance Group released a survey on Friday (9/26-29; 400 NM-2 likely voters; live interview) that finds New Mexico Republican challenger Yvette Herrell slipping past freshman Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-Las Cruces) by a 48-47% margin.  This toss-up margin is consistent with three other polls released since June that respectively showed Herrell up two points, Torres Small ahead by the same margin, and the two candidates exactly even. 

Democrat Harry Teague won the 2nd District in 2008 but was bounced out in 2010 when former Rep. Steve Pearce (R) decided to make a political comeback.  Now, Mr. Teague is remerging in the local congressional campaign, but not in the way most people would have believed.  Recently, Mr. Teague announced that he was endorsing Republican Ms. Herrell.  This week, he began appearing in a new television ad for her, going all the way to make his endorsement count. 

TX-23:  Many analysts and political observers had long described Texas’ open 23rd District, that stretches from northwest San Antonio all the way to El Paso, as a sure Democratic conversion race.  Again, however, we see a publicly released poll suggesting that those believing such might have too quickly jumped to a conclusion. 

A just-released Public Opinion Strategies survey (10/3-5; 400 TX-23 likely voters; live interview) finds the race still trending as the type of dead heat contest that has marked almost every election cycle during the decade.  Most recently, these POS numbers find Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones (D), despite maintaining a huge financial advantage, leading retired non-commissioned Navy officer Tony Gonzales (R) by just a single percentage point, 42-41%.  At only one time throughout the decade in this expansive CD did the winning candidate exceed 50%.


Delaware:  A just-released University of Delaware survey (National Agenda Opinion Project; 9/21-27; 976 DE adults; 911 registered voters; 847 likely voters; live interview) finds Gov. John Carney (D) running away from his opposition in his quest for a second term.  According to the UoD results, Gov. Carney would maintain a whopping 55-26% advantage over attorney Julianne Murray (R).

Utah:  Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox (R) has opened a commanding advantage over law professor Chris Peterson (D).  The Y2 Analytics survey (9/26-10/4; 1,214 UT likely voters; online) sees Mr. Cox holding a huge 57-29% margin over Mr. Peterson.  Obviously, Mr. Cox is the prohibitive favorite to win in November.


Puerto Rico:  Puerto Rico voters will go to the polls on November 3rd to elect a territorial Governor and their Resident Commissioner, or Delegate to the US House of Representatives.  While in the polling booth, voters will also express their opinion on a non-binding ballot proposition relating to the island becoming a full-fledged US state.  Democrats are discussing the idea of moving a measure to grant statehood to Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia should they gain the majority in both houses of Congress and Joe Biden is elected President.

The Puerto Rico Herald newspaper published a survey (Beacon Research; 9/14-18; 803 PR registered voters) that asked respondents their view about statehood.  By a whopping 70-24% margin, the respondents said they favor their territory being granted statehood.