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Congressional Polling Roundup

July 24, 2020

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

Key Takeaways

  • MT-Sen:  Sen. Steve Daines (R) with slight lead
  • TN-Sen: Polls confirm a close GOP primary
  • GA-5: Late Rep. John Lewis (D) replaced on ballot
  • MI-3: Rep. Justin Amash (L) doesn’t file
  • NJ-3: Rep. Andy Kim (D) in tight race with GOP nominee
  • VA-2: Del. Nick Freitas wins Republican nomination
  • NC-Gov: Surprisingly tight poll


Alaska A recently released Alaska Survey Research firm poll (6/26-7/7; 716 AK registered voters; 663 likely general election voters) counters the Public Policy Polling (7/7-8; 1,081 AK voters) data in projecting first-term Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) ahead of surgeon Al Gross (I/D), 53-40%. PPP found the Senator leading only 39-34%.  Alaska is a difficult place to poll, so seeing companion surveys here with markedly different results is not particularly unusual.

Iowa:  Spry Strategies, as part of their national survey series, tested the Iowa Senate race as many other pollsters have done previously.  According to the Spry data (7/11-16; 701 IA likely general election voters), Sen. Joni Ernst, in a must-win situation for Republicans, continues to slightly trail her Democratic opponent, Des Moines real estate executive Theresa Greenfield (D).  The Spry data finds the Greenfield edge to be 45-43%, well within the polling margin of error that has been consistent with all Iowa post-primary surveys. 

Louisiana The Bayou State always hosts the latest developing federal elections because their jungle primary isn’t until Election Day, November 3rd.  If no candidate receives majority support, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff election on December 5th. Until now, little has developed against Sen. Bill Cassidy (R) who is seeking a second term this year. 

With candidate filing closing this Friday, Sen. Cassidy now has his first significant opponent.  Announcing his candidacy is Democratic Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins, who is capable of waging a credible statewide campaign.  Sen. Cassidy, however, is a prohibitive favorite.

Montana Spry Strategies tested the Montana electorate (7/11-16; 701 MT likely voters) and produced results consistent with other pollsters.  In yet another firewall must-win for Republicans, Sen. Steve Daines (R) is posted to a slight three-point advantage over Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, 47-44%.  Within the same polling period, the Civiqs firm, polling for the Daily Kos Elections website (7/11-13; 873 MT registered voters), sees Sen. Daines holding a similar 49-47% edge.  The slightly earlier Public Policy Polling study (7/9-10) gave Gov. Bullock a 46-44% slim lead.

New Hampshire The eventual Republican campaign against incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) is slow starting because of the state’s late September 8th primary, but self-funding businessman Corky Messner is jumping out to a strong lead over retired Brigadier Gen. Don Bolduc.  According to a new Tarrance Group survey (7/12-14; 401 NH likely Republican primary voters), Mr. Messner hold a 39-27% lead over Gen. Bolduc who has been campaigning in the Republican primary for months but raised little in the way of election funds.  The race against Sen. Shaheen is a long shot for the GOP, but Mr. Messner appears well positioned to advance into the general election.

Tennessee  A third consecutive poll is confirming that the Republican primary race to succeed retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) is close.  Late this week, a JMC Analytics & Polling (7/18-19; 600 TN likely Republican primary voters) survey was published showing former US Ambassador Bill Hagerty leading Nashville orthopedic surgeon Manny Sethi, 36-32%, as we approach the August 6th primary.  Two other polls, from the Trafalgar Group and Victory Phones beginning at the end of June, found similar spreads in the three-point range.  The GOP winner becomes a big favorite to claim the seat in November.


GA-5 Veteran Georgia Representative and Civil Rights Leader John Lewis (D-Atlanta) passed away late last week, and Democrats had only one day to replace him on the ballot for November under Georgia election law.  A special seven-person committee was immediately assembled to send three to five candidates to the Georgia Democratic Party state executive committee members.  As expected, the members chose its state chair and Atlanta state Senator Nikema Williams to replace Mr. Lewis on the November general election ballot. 

Gov. Brian Kemp (R) must call a special election to fill the balance of Mr. Lewis’ final term, and it is likely he will make the contest concurrent with the regular November election.  The special election would be different than the regular process, in that we will likely see a partisan special primary prior to the regular general election.  Ms. Williams already becomes an overwhelming favorite to win in November in a district where President Trump scored only 12% in 2016.

IA-3 In 2018, Democrat Cindy Axne unseated then-Rep. David Young (R) by a two-point margin, 49-47%.  A new Tarrance Group survey (7/7-9; 400 IA-3 likely voters) sees an equally close race again developing this year.  According to the Tarrance findings, Mr. Young posts a 44-43% slight edge over Rep. Axne, which is similar to their March survey that found the two candidates locked in a 48-48% tie.

KS-2 Freshman Rep. Steve Watkins’ (R-Topeka) indictment for voter fraud and the bad publicity surrounding it has already taken a toll on him and is making this seat, which has elected only one Democrat since the 1994 election, competitive in the general election.  A new Battleground Connect poll (7/16-17; 1,250 KS-2 likely voters via live telephone interview) finds Mr. Watkins badly trailing Topeka Democratic Mayor Michelle De La Isla 37-50%, while State Treasurer Jake LaTurner (R) leads her 42-41%.  During this time, Rep. Watkins’ favorability index has dropped to 25:50% favorable to unfavorable, and a very concerning 17:61% among Independents. 

KY-6 After defeating now-US Senate Democratic nominee Amy McGrath by 10,000 votes after she raised and spent more than $8.3 million in 2018, Rep. Andy Barr (R-Lexington) looked strong for his 2020 re-election bid.  A new Bluegrass Data survey (7/13; 700 KY-6 likely general election voters via live telephone interview), however, finds Rep Barr leading Democratic nominee Josh Hicks by a scant 44-43% margin.  When pushed for an answer, those recorded as leading to one of the candidates actually forge Mr. Hicks into a 50-48% lead. 

MI-3 Now that the Independent and minor party candidate filing deadline has passed in Michigan, we know for certain that Rep. Justin Amash (L-Cascade Township/Grand Rapids) is truly retiring from the House, since that was his last chance to file.  As a member of the Libertarian Party, speculation was strong that the Congressman, who for a time was considering running for his new party’s presidential nomination, would attempt to seek re-election in a three-way US House race as either the Libertarian Party nominee or an Independent. 

MI-13:  In 2018, ex-state Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones split the two election contests to replace resigned Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit) with the former winning the full term and the latter woman taking the special election.  Now, the two battle in a re-match Democratic primary to be settled August 4th that doesn’t appear close.  A new Target Insyght poll (7/20-22; 500 MI-13 likely Democratic primary voters) finds Rep. Tlaib leading Ms. Jones, 52-24%, with the incumbent recording a 70:16% favorability ratio.  

NJ-3 The Congressional Leadership PAC just released a new survey of New Jersey’s 3rd CD, which could become the closest of the competitive Garden State US House campaigns.  According to the CLF’s Basswood Research data (7/13-15; 400 NJ-3 likely general election voters), Rep. Andy Kim (D-Bordentown) has only a 45-42% lead over new Republican nominee David Richter, a venture capitalist.  This is a race to watch and will become a top national GOP conversion target.  In 2018, Mr. Kim unseated then Rep. Tom MacArthur (R), 50-49%.

NY-12 With Messrs. Jamaal Bowman (NY-16) and Mondaire Jones (open NY-17) both being declared winners in their respective campaigns, the former defeating veteran Rep. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx), the only outstanding race is in NYC’s 12th District where absentee ballots still have not been fully counted from the June 23rd primary.  The margin between Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) and challenger Suraj Patel is tight, but the veteran Congresswoman has the advantage. 

OH-1:  Democratic nominee Kate Schroder just released her internal campaign poll from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (6/29-7/2; 605 OH-1 likely general election voters) that finds another competitive contest developing for Cincinnati Congressman Steve Chabot (R).  The ballot test projects the Congressman leading, 50-48%.  In 2018, he defeated Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval, 51-47%. Mr. Chabot was first elected in 1994 but lost the seat in 2008.  He regained it in 2010, and subsequently won four more elections.  He remains the favorite for 2020, but we will again see an aggressive campaign in this part of southwest Ohio.

PA-1:  Last week we covered a Public Opinion Strategies survey (7/11-14; 400 PA-1 registered voters) that posted Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Levittown) to a 53-39% general election lead and questioned the results.  The POS poll was not consistent with either the Victoria Research and Consulting survey (6/7-14; 403 PA-1 likely voters) that found Rep. Fitzpatrick and Democratic nominee Christina Finello locked in a tied 46-46% race, or even the Republican primary results that saw the Congressman secure only a 63% victory against an opponent who put forth little campaign effort.  The new American Viewpoint poll (7/13-15; 400 PA-1 likely general election voters), however, confirms the POS result.  They see Mr. Fitzpatrick holding a very similar 50-35% advantage in this Philadelphia suburban district that Hillary Clinton carried by two percentage points.

TX-21:  In what will likely become a national House campaign, Democratic pollster Garin-Hart-Yang Research conducted a survey of Texas’ 21st Congressional District, the seat that contains parts of San Antonio, Austin, and the Texas Hill Country, to determine how the race between freshman Rep. Chip Roy (R-Austin) and 2014 Texas gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis (D) is progressing.  With no surprise considering the nature of other current polling around the country, we see a toss-up race.  The GHY data finds Rep. Roy holding the slightest of leads, 46-45%, over Ms. Davis. 

UT-4 Former NFL pro-football player Burgess Owens is one of the stronger Republican challenger candidates and has a discernible opportunity to defeat an incumbent Democrat.  The Congressional Leadership Fund just released a survey (Moore Information Group; 7/8-9; 400 UT-4 likely general election voters) that finds Mr. Owens leading Rep. Ben McAdams (D-Salt Lake City) well beyond the margin of polling error at 43-34%.

VA-2:  Republican Scott Taylor was ousted in 2018 after serving one term in the House and returns for a re-match with freshman Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Norfolk).  A new Tarrance Group poll (/14-16; 402 VA-2 likely general election voters) rather surprisingly finds the two candidates tied with 48% apiece, however.  This is not far from the 51-49% margin that Rep. Luria posted against Mr. Taylor two years ago but considering the course of the race at this point, the ballot test is unexpectedly good for the latter man.  Fundraising overwhelmingly favors Rep. Luria, $3.8 million to $815,000 in the latest disclosure filing ending June 30th, but polling numbers such as these should help to elevate Mr. Taylor.

VA-7:  At an in-person district convention, state Delegate Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) won the 7th District Republican nominating convention in three rounds of voting with 56% of delegate support.  Mr. Freitas advances into the general election against freshman Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Glen Allen) in what should become a major GOP targeted race in a district that was once solidly Republican.  That is, if Mr. Freitas survives a Democratic legal challenge to the state Board of Elections’ members granting Freitas ballot access even though he missed the candidate filing deadline. 


North Carolina A Cardinal Point Analytics survey (713-15; 537 NC likely general election voters), while producing consistent numbers with other pollsters in the presidential and US Senate races, finds Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R) closing to within three points of Gov. Roy Cooper (D).  The latter man has typically been recording double digit leads in other surveys.

In the presidential race, Cardinal finds President Trump holding a one point 49-48% edge in a state that he must win, and Democrat Cal Cunningham leading Sen. Thom Tillis (R), 47-44%.  Both of these numbers are well within the ranges that other pollsters are reporting.  Yet, in the Governor’s race, Mr. Cooper’s advantage is only 49-46% as compared to the average 10.5 percentage point lead he has in six other surveys conducted since the beginning of June.