Presidential Race Tightening

June 17, 2019

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

Key Takeaways

  • Presidential Polls: CA; IA; MA; NV; TX; US - race tightening
  • AL-Sen: Coach Tommy Tuberville releases Senate poll showing him with slight lead in GOP primary
  • NC-Sen: Rep. Mark Walker (R) Won't Challenge Sen. Tillis
  • MI-3: Rep. Justin Amash (R) trailing primary opponent badly in new poll
  • TX-28: Rep. Henry Cuellar draws Dem primary opponent
  • UT-Gov: Jon Huntsman (R) may return from diplomatic post as Ambassador to Russia, to run for Governor again


California Poll:  The University of California at Berkeley and the Los Angeles Times conducted a survey of the California Democratic electorate (6/4-10; 2,131 CA likely Democratic primary voters from a pool of 4,435 registered voters) and found a surprisingly tight contest. Former Vice President Joe Biden placed first with 22%, while a surging Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) follows closely behind with 18%. Sen. Bernie Sanders had 16%, and home state Sen. Kamala Harris was next with 13%. California, with its 416 first ballot delegates spread at-large and over 53 congressional districts, is clearly the top prize on the nomination circuit.

Iowa Poll:  Selzer & Company released their latest Iowa poll (6/2-5; 600 IA likely Caucus attenders from a universe of 3,776 active registered voters) and finds former Vice President Joe Biden leading Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, 24-16-15-14% with California Sen. Kamala Harris dropping well behind at 7% support. In this poll, Mr. Biden's support level has dropped below a quarter of the vote, and the combined Sanders-Warren-Buttigieg total of 45% is close to a 2:1 ratio over the top individual percentage.

Nevada Poll:  In what is becoming a familiar pattern across the country, former Vice President Joe Biden now leads the Nevada Caucus according to a new Monmouth University survey (6/6-11; 370 NV likely Democratic Caucus attenders). Monmouth projects Mr. Biden placing first with 36% over Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) who has surged to 19% as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who had trouble in Nevada back in 2016, drops to 13 percent. All other candidates are in single digits led by Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 7% and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) with 6%. If Sen. Harris is going to become a factor before the important California primary on March 3rd, Nevada is one place where she will need to finish strongly.

Quinnipiac Poll:  The new Quinnipiac University national poll (6/6-10; 1,214 US registered voters; 503 likely Democratic primary voters) returns a poll that delivers particularly negative numbers for President Trump. The survey shows all major Democratic candidates leading the President in isolated ballot test questions, with anywhere from 13 (Joe Biden) to five (Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Cory Booker) point margins. It also projects Independents breaking away from Mr. Trump in the Biden pairing by a whopping 58-28% margin. These results are more extreme than any other poll recently seen, however.

Suffolk U Poll:  Boston-based Suffolk University just completed their new survey of the Massachusetts electorate (6/5-9; 370 likely MA Democratic primary voters) and finds former Vice President Joe Biden, somewhat surprisingly, holding a very comfortable lead over home state Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D). According to Suffolk, Mr. Biden holds a 22-10% lead over Sen. Warren, with Mayor Pete Buttigieg following with 8%, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) dropping to 6% preference, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) holding at just 5% support. All others are at 1% or less. The major surprise is not that Mr. Biden is leading, but that Sen. Warren, in her own state, can muster no more than 10% support.

Texas Poll:  On the heels of Quinnipiac University's survey last week (5/29-6/4; 1,159 TX registered voters) that found former Vice President Joe Biden leading Ex-Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-El Paso) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) 30-16-15%, Change Research, from their latest Texas survey, has a different take. Their poll (5/30-6/3; 1,218 TX likely voters) significantly contrasts the Quinnipiac findings. According to Change, it is Mr. O'Rourke, the Texas favorite son, with the advantage: 27-24-13-12% over Mr. Biden, Sen. Sanders, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), respectively.


Alabama:  Former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville made public his Moore Information survey (6/10-11; 650 AL likely Republican primary voters) and it reveals, somewhat surprisingly, that the first-time candidate is jumping out to a slight lead. Moore Info reports that Mr. Tuberville posts 23% preference, five points ahead of former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, while Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) trails at 16 percent. Secretary of State John Merrill, a potential candidate, recorded 7% support, and state Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Shelby County) was last at 2 percent.

Maine:  After a series of turndowns from Democrats who the party leadership was attempting to recruit into the 2020 Senate race to oppose Republican incumbent Susan Collins (R), two individuals appear to be surfacing. State House Speaker Sara Gideon (D-Freeport) is indicating she will announce her candidacy when the Maine legislative session ends at the end of next week. Activist lobbyist Betsy Sweet, who finished fourth in the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial primary, is also expected to soon become a Senatorial candidate.

North Carolina:  While thanking President Trump for his encouragement, Rep. Mark Walker (R-Greensboro) announced yesterday that he will not challenge Sen. Thom Tillis in next year's Tar Heel State Republican primary, and instead announced his re-election campaign for a fourth term in the House. Sen. Tillis still has GOP opposition, however. Wealthy business owner Garland Tucker is an announced candidate and expected to run a competitive campaign.

West Virginia:  First-term Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R) now sees her first Democratic opponent come forward. Yesterday, Paula Jean Swearengin, who bills herself as a "Coal Country environmentalist" announced that she will enter the Democratic Senatorial primary. Ms. Swearengin ran before, last year in a primary challenge to Sen. Joe Manchin. She fared poorly, attracting only 30% of the vote and raising slightly more than $200,000. Sen. Capito should have an easy re-election run if Ms. Swearengin becomes the Democratic nominee.


CA-15:  Recently, state Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) announced that he would run for Congress directly after incumbent Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin/Hayward) declared for President. Late last week, however, Sen. Wieckowski did an about-face and pulled out of the congressional race on the heels of Rep. Swalwell making comments conceding that it is conceivable he will return to the House race before the California candidate filing deadline on December 6th. Remaining in the Democratic primary with a possible Rep. Swalwell return is Hayward City Councilwoman Aisha Wahab, insurance agent and frequent candidate Peter Liu, and Democratic activist Sam Campbell.

GA-7:  State Rep. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), lead sponsor of the Georgia's heart beat pro-life legislation, announced that she will enter the open Republican primary in the 7th Congressional District. Sen. Unterman is the eighth Republican to announce, but the first elected official. She is vying to replace retiring Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville). The 2018 race ended in only a 419-vote victory for Rep. Woodall, as he defeated former state Senate Budget Committee staff director Carolyn Bourdeaux (D). She is running again but has already drawn four Democratic primary opponents including state Rep. Brenda Lopez Romero (D-Gwinnett) and former Fulton County Commission chairman John Eaves.

MI-3:  The Michigan Information & Research Service published a new congressional poll from the Practical Political Consultants firm (6/5-9; 335 MI-3 likely Republican primary voters) testing Rep. Justin Amash (R-Cascade Township/Grand Rapids) after his call for President Trump to be impeached. The results find the Congressman now trailing badly, which will likely enhance calls for him to run for the Libertarian presidential nomination. According to this latest data, state Rep. James Lower (R-Greenville), an announced congressional candidate, would lead Mr. Amash by a whopping 49-33% among the likely primary voters.

NY-10:  More activity appears to be brewing in Manhattan's 10th Congressional District. In addition to former Andrew Cuomo economic advisor Lindsey Boylan entering the Democratic primary against Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan), now we see ex-Hillary Clinton campaign digital aide Peter Daou coming forward to say he is considering a challenge to the 14-term Congressman. Reasoning: Mr. Daou says that Judiciary Committee chairman Nadler is moving too slowly toward filing articles of impeachment against President Trump.

TX-28:  Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo), originally elected in 2004 and who has won with super majorities ever since, was rated early in the year as the leftward Justice Democrats organization's top target. The group claims Mr. Cuellar votes with President Trump more than any other Democrat in the House. Now, they have a candidate. Jessica Cisneros, an immigration attorney and former intern to Mr. Cuellar, yesterday announced her candidacy and indicates she will run an ideological primary campaign against the eight-term congressional veteran.


Montana:  At-large Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman) is expected to announce his candidacy for Governor at the Montana State Republican Party convention this weekend. Mr. Gianforte lost the 2016 Governor's race to incumbent Steve Bullock (D), 50-46%, but then turned around and won the at-large special election to replace Rep. Ryan Zinke (R) when the latter man became Interior Secretary in the Trump Administration. Attorney General Tim Fox and Secretary of State Corey Stapleton are both already in the Republican gubernatorial primary.

Up until this week, no Democrat had yet announced. Now, state House Minority Leader Casey Schreiner (D-Great Falls) is an official candidate as is former state Rep. Reilly Neill (D-Livingston). Incumbent Governor Steve Bullock (D), an announced presidential candidate, is ineligible to seek a third term.

Utah:  Jon Huntsman (R) served as Utah Governor from 2005-2009, leaving to become US Ambassador to China in the Obama Administration. He then became a Republican presidential candidate in 2012. Currently, Mr. Huntsman serves in the Trump Administration as US Ambassador to Russia, and before his election as Governor was US Ambassador to Singapore in the George W. Bush Administration. Now, there is mounting evidence that he will soon resign his current diplomatic post and again seek the Governorship of his home state.

A Huntsman entry would drastically change the Republican primary. In the race is Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, whom retiring Gov. Gary Herbert (R) has already endorsed, and state House Speaker Greg Hughes (R) said he plans to announce his own campaign sometime during the summer. Retiring US Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Brigham City) also confirmed this week that he is contemplating entering the open 2020 Governor's race and will decide by September. The Utah state primary is scheduled for June 23, 2020, with a candidate filing deadline of March 19. Therefore, much time remains for this race to develop.