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GOP Leadership Endorses Herschel Walker; Closing Polls in VA Ahead of Election Day

October 29, 2021

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

Key Takeaways    

  • GA-Sen: GOP Leadership Endorses Herschel Walker (R)
  • NC-Sen: New POS Poll Plus for Rep. Ted Budd’s (R) Senate Effort
  • MD-4: Rep. Anthony Brown (D) Announces for Attorney General
  • OR-5: Rep. Kurt Schrader (D) Pondering New District
  • MA-Gov: Gov. Charlie Baker (R) Not Yet Committed to Third Term
  • NJ, VA: Closing Gov Polls Before 11/2 Election Day

Senate

Georgia: It appears the Republican leadership has fallen in behind Georgia Senatorial candidate Herschel Walker. Yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced his endorsement of the former football star. Mr. Walker did well in raising $3.7 million in short order for his campaign, but the amount pales in comparison to Sen. Raphael Warnock’s (D) $17.2 million cash-on-hand figure. With Republicans having few Democratic Senate targets, Georgia will remain in the top tier challenger race category almost regardless of what happens moving forward.

Iowa: The new Cygnal polling organization’s Iowa study confirms what Selzer & Company found in September. The Cygnal data (10/18-19; 600 IA likely voters; interactive voice response system, text, and email) projects Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) to be leading former Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D), 55-39%, which is almost identical to last month’s polling result from Selzer, which posted the race at 55-37%. In between the two polls, Sen. Grassley announced that he is running for an eighth term.

Missouri: Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R), who resigned his office under pressure after a sex scandal broke, is now a US Senate candidate in the open seat vying to replace retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R). A new Remington Research Group poll for the Missouri Scout political blog (10/20-21; 806 MO likely Republican primary voters; interactive voice response system) finds Mr. Greitens previously stronger lead dropping to 27-25-19-8-4% over state Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R), US Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville/Columbia), Rep. Billy Long (R-Springfield), and attorney Mark McCloskey, respectively. The Missouri primary isn’t until August 2, 2022, so this race has many months in which to develop.

New Hampshire: St. Anselm’s College returned a new poll from the Granite State field (10/20-22; 1,323 NH registered voters; online) and found the Republicans holding the upper hand in what has become a quintessential swing state. According to the results, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) would lead Sen. Maggie Hassan (D), 46-41%, a little down from his 49-41% showing in St. Anselm’s previous poll. Still, a consistent 41% support figure for an incumbent is a poor number. 

North Carolina: Former Governor Pat McCrory’s campaign released a new Public Opinion Strategies internal poll (10/16-19; 500 NC likely Republican primary voters; live interview), and while it shows a fifteen point advantage for their candidate in the GOP primary, such is not the entire story. The actual ballot test, which curiously wasn’t released in the polling summary, yields a 40-25% result for Mr. McCrory over US Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance). The underlying story, however, is the first POS poll for McCrory released in April gave the former Governor a 48-13% lead. Therefore, this new survey yields a net 20 point gain for Rep. Budd. With the early March 8th primary still on the schedule, this contest will soon be firing on all cylinders. 

House

MD-4: Three-term Maryland Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Bowie) announced that he will enter the open Attorney General’s race next year. Mr. Brown was the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in the Republican landslide year of 2014, losing 51-47% as the favorite to current Gov. Larry Hogan (R). The Prince Georges County anchored 4th District is safely Democratic (Biden ’20: 79-19%), so the succession battle here will be settled in what is expected to be a crowded Democratic primary. So far, state Delegate Jazz Lewis (D-Prince George’s County) announced that he will enter the newly open 4th Congressional District contest.

NY-2: Former Babylon Town Councilwoman Jackie Gordon (D), who held freshman Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-Sayville) to a 53-46% open seat win in 2020, announced this week that she will return for a re-match next year. The four self-contained Long Island congressional districts need an aggregate of almost 150,000 more people to meet their per district resident quota of 776,971 individuals, so the 2nd District will undergo significant change. We will know more when the redistricting process in New York progresses further.

OR-5: Former local city manager and frequent candidate Jamie McLeod-Skinner (D) announced that she will challenge Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Canby/Salem) in the state’s new 5th Congressional District. Already in the Democratic primary is Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba, who opposed Rep. Schrader in 2020. The new 5th is a marginal political district and only contains 47% of Rep. Schrader’s current constituency. The Congressman has not yet fully decided if he will run in the 5th or new 6th District, which also includes much of his current constituency.

TX-15: Now that Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) will run in the open 34th District - one of the last tweaks on the congressional map before passage was even to add Mr. Gonzalez’s home to District 34 - the politically marginal open 15th District is attracting a lot of attention. Last week, attorney and Iraq War veteran Raul Ramirez (D) announced his congressional candidacy, and now educator Eliza Alvarado (D) has followed suit.

The top Republican candidate, armed with an endorsement from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), is 2020 nominee Monica de la Cruz-Hernandez (R), who held Rep. Gonzalez to a 50-48% re-election victory. The new 15th would have supported former President Trump by a three percentage point margin.

Governor

Connecticut: The Connecticut Governor’s race hasn’t drawn much attention so far, and the first released ballot test survey tells us why. Public Policy Polling conducted a survey for the Connecticut Democrats for Education Reform organization (10/21-22; 729 CT registered voters; live interview and text) and unsurprisingly found Gov. Ned Lamont (D) staked to large early leads. Against former state House Minority Leader Themis Klarides (R), the Governor leads 52-32%. If businessman Bob Stefanowski was the GOP nominee, Mr. Lamont would claim a similar 52-36% advantage. Gov. Lamont is rated a prohibitive favorite for re-election.

Georgia: Reports are surfacing from Georgia that former Senator David Perdue is seriously considering launching a Republican primary challenge against Gov. Brian Kemp. With the Governor still reeling in popularity within the GOP base over the post-election handling of the voter fraud accusations, there is no doubt that Mr. Kemp is vulnerable in a Republican primary. Expect to see polling released on this proposed race shortly. 

Massachusetts: Though most people believe that Gov. Charlie Baker (R) is seeking a third term, such is not necessarily the case. The Governor has not confirmed he is running, and said in a Boston Public Radio interview this week that running again is “…a complicated issue, for all kinds of reasons.”

New Jersey: Heading into the last week of campaigning before the November 2nd election, Emerson College just released their latest Garden State gubernatorial poll (10/15-18; 600 NJ likely voters; combination live interview, text, and interactive voice response system) and it finds challenger Jack Ciattarelli (R), a former state Assemblyman from Somerset County, pulling to within upset range of Gov. Phil Murphy (D). The Emerson ballot test finds the Governor’s lead falling to 50-44%, and an even closer 48-45% among those most likely to vote. 

Two other closing surveys, however, find Gov. Murphy in stronger shape. Stockton University (10/17-26; 522 NJ likely voters) sees a nine point spread, 50-41%. Monmouth University (10/21-25; 1,000 NJ registered voters) posts the Murphy advantage back to 50-39%.

New York: The City online site covering New York City news is running a story saying that Attorney General Letitia James is actively preparing to launch a Democratic primary challenge to new Gov. Kathy Hochul. It was AG James who brought the sexual harassment charges against Gov. Andrew Cuomo that finally forced him to resign. The City reporters say Ms. James is already filming ads and her political staff is calling state Democratic leaders to recruit support for her gubernatorial bid. 

New Mexico: Albuquerque television weatherman and 2020 Republican US Senate nominee yesterday officially announced his challenge to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D). Though an underdog, Mr. Ronchetti should have little trouble uniting the Republican base around his candidacy based upon his closer-than-expected 52-46% result against now-Senator Ben Ray Lujan (D) in a race that national Republicans did not target. A negative against Gov. Grisham is her recent sexual harassment settlement of $150,000 with a male former aide.

Virginia: It appears that the Virginia Governor’s race is going down to the wire in a dead heat. Five closing polls for next Tuesday’s election find the contest between former Governor and ex-Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe and ex-hedge fund CEO Glenn Youngkin (R) lapsing into a virtual tie.

The five surveys were conducted by KA Consulting, Cygnal, Emerson College, Suffolk University, and Christopher Newport University. All were sampled between October 18-25, with respondent universes between 500 and 944 Virginia likely voters. KA gave Youngkin a two-point, 43-41% edge; Cygnal found the two candidates tied with a support factor of 49%; Emerson saw Mr. McAuliffe holding a one-point 49-48% tight edge; Suffolk, too, produced a flat tie; and Christopher Newport also gives McAuliffe a 49-48% edge. This race will be decided by whichever side best turns out its voters.

At week’s end, Fox News released a new poll that reverses their study of two weeks previous. In the earlier poll, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) held a 51-46% lead over former hedge fund CEO Glenn Youngkin (R). Their new release, conducted over the October 24-27 period (1,212 VA registered voters; 1,015 individuals identified as likely VA gubernatorial election voters; live interview), finds Mr. Youngkin now pulling ahead of the former Governor and race favorite, 53-45%. A Republican skew appears in that the GOP has a four-point advantage on the self-identified partisan division, well beyond Old Dominion political reality. Therefore, the Youngkin lead may be several points less.

Localities

Buffalo: As we have previously covered, four-term Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown was defeated for re-nomination in June and is trying to win the general election as a write-in candidate. He lost to self-proclaimed socialist India Walton in the Democratic primary, but polling shows him way ahead in the general election. 

Emerson College confirmed Mayor Brown’s lead in their latest survey (10/22-23; 539 Buffalo likely voters; live interview, online, and interactive voice response system). The result finds a whopping 54-36% lead for the Mayor, but does this support translate into a write-in victory? The overwhelming majority in surveys say they have never written in a candidate. This will be another interesting race to watch on election night, November 2nd.

Minneapolis: ALG Research released a survey of 600 Minneapolis likely voters regarding the upcoming Mayoral election on November 2nd. According to the survey, conducted during the October 16-19 period, Mayor Jacob Frey leads the ranked choice voting system with a 44-25% margin over community organizer Sheila Nezhad, who pledges to end “violent policing.” Carried through to a hypothetical third ranked choice ballot, the Mayor’s margin expands slightly to 47-27%.