November 4, 2014
Track the 2014 Races
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2014 Senate Races
Monday, September 15, 2014
|This article was published Tuesday, September 9 on PJMedia.com.
How primary results have affected the parties' general election prospects.
Republicans enjoyed a hurricane force wind at their backs going into the 2010 elections. On Election Day, GOP candidates running for seats in the House realized the full potential of the wave they were riding by earning a massive and historic 63-seat net gain. However, Republican candidates vying for their place in the Senate did not. Sure, they did well, picking up six seats in the upper chamber, but they missed out on several additional opportunities.
Amy Walter, National Editor for CookPolitical.com, points out a major reason why. She writes:
|In 2010, in what was a "wave year" just two of the seven toss-up races went to Republicans, though public polling predicted that four of those seven (57 percent) would flip to the GOP. Terrible GOP candidates like Christine O'Donnell, Sharron Angle, and Ken Buck were the real culprits in the GOP underperformance that year.
Party nominees matter - even in wave elections. So, with the primary season drawing to a close, let's take a look at the candidates from each party who made it past the qualifying round and evaluate how those choices impact their party's prospects for success in Senate and gubernatorial elections this November.
Thirty-six Senate seats are up for grabs this year. Twenty-three of them are non-competitive races which the incumbent party is very likely to retain. The remaining thirteen seats are either competitive or non-competitive projected takeovers (South Dakota, for example). Coincidentally, thirty-six governorships, of which 14 are currently competitive, are also on tap. Looking at the primary lineups for these competitive races, we see that they fall into three different categories.
Seven senators, 6 Democrats and 1 Republican, are seeking reelection in competitive races this year. The Democrats are Mark Begich (AK), Mark Pryor (AR), Mark Udall (CO), Mary Landrieu (LA), Jeanne Shaheen (NH) and Kay Hagan (NC). They are joined by Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY). Eleven incumbent governors are also facing competitive reelection bids in 2014. They consist of 8 Republicans and 3 Democrats.
Thirteen Senate primary contests from eight different states and twelve gubernatorial primaries in eleven states held primaries that were, well, no contest. I won't list them all here, but it is worthy to note that in some cases - Arkansas GOP Senate, Georgia DEM Senate, for example - having a non-competitive primary meant the nominee was the top choice of the party from the outset. In other cases - Michigan GOP Senate, Montana DEM Senate - the absence of primary competition resulted from the best choice deciding against running.
The first two categories are included for completeness. However, these races are not very useful when evaluating the role of primary voters in their parties' prospects. Their impact is gleaned best from races which featured a primary election in doubt.
Let's take a look at several of these primaries race by race and grade primary voters on whether they have improved or impaired their parties' chances by the choice they made.
Alaska Senate (GOP)
Republicans here are salivating at the opportunity to unseat Mark Begich in this conservative state. Three high profile candidates vied for that honor. GOP voters made the right choice by selecting Former Alaska Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan. While Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell would have given Begich a strong challenge, Republicans avoided a concession by not picking lightning rod Joe Miller. GRADE: A
Georgia Senate (GOP)
Businessman David Perdue and Congressman Jack Kingston got the most votes in the primary election. However, since neither was able to eclipse the requisite 50% +1 to avoid a runoff, Georgia Republicans had to return to the ballot box a month later to finalize their pick. They get high marks for picking Perdue, but the prolonged runoff period subjected the nominee to more intra-party conflict and gave Democrat Michelle Nunn a longer grace period. GRADE: B
Iowa Senate (GOP)
The biggest accomplishment by GOP primary voters here was to avoid having the state convention decide their nominee. Joni Ernst, who has an enviable bio well-suited to run for public office, captured more than enough votes to earn the nomination outright. A convention-brokered selection could have resulted in an untenable general election option. GRADE: A
North Carolina Senate (GOP)
Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan is one of the more vulnerable incumbents in the Senate this cycle, and Tarheel Republicans had at least three viable options who were faring well, pre-primary, against her in the polls. Thom Tillis, the GOP establishment candidate, prevailed, avoiding a potentially damaging runoff in the process. While Tea Party fans aren't as keen on the career politician as they would have been with either physician Greg Brannon or Pastor Mark Harris, Tillis is an electable choice in the general election - and avoiding that runoff is a big positive. GRADE: A-
Colorado Governor (GOP)
Primary voters on the Republican side get high marks for not nominating unelectable Tom Tancredo. They settled on Bob Beauprez, 2006 gubernatorial nominee, by just 3 points over Tancredo in a four-way race. And while Beauprez was not impressive in his failed bid for governor 8 years ago, he has seemed a stronger candidate so far this year. GRADE: A-
Hawaii Governor (DEM)
Democratic voters in the Aloha state made history this year by handing Neil Abercrombie the largest primary defeat of a sitting governor in U.S. history. Judging from pre-primary polling, they made a great move in doing so. As a result, they have improved their chances of keeping this deeply blue state in the fold. State Senator David Ige still trails Republican nominee Duke Aiona, Jr. in the polls (ed. note: not anymore), but he has the potential of staging the comeback Abercrombie could not. GRADE: A+
Illinois Governor (GOP)
Bruce Rauner has the funds to finance his campaign for governor. That's important in a state that contains the expensive Chicago media market. Also, as a political newcomer, he doesn't have the track record the other Republican contenders have. That's likely a good thing as well in this race against a wily, battle-tested incumbent like Democrat Pat Quinn. GRADE: A
Wisconsin Governor (DEM)
Democrats would like to get rid of Scott Walker perhaps more than any other governor. He survived their recall election in 2012 and has taken steps to undermine their power base in the state. Democratic primary voters selected educator Mary Burke to take him on in 2014. Judging from how she is performing in the polls so far, it looks like they have made a good choice. As of this writing, Election Projection shows Burke defeating Walker by a fraction. GRADE: A
That's a lot of good grades! Unlike the Republican primary disasters noted by Walter, this year's primary results show that voters from both parties have done a good job picking the right nominees to make the most of their general election opportunities.
posted by Scott Elliott at 12:07pm 09/15/14 :: link
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Yesterday, voters went to the polls in the last four primaries of the 2014 Election season (if you don't count Louisiana's open primary on
Election Day). The final four states were Delaware, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire, where Scott Brown won
the GOP nomination to set up his much anticipated battle against Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen. The other
noteworthy result from yesterday was John Tierney's loss in the Democratic primary in Massachusetts' 6th District. Tierney's
defeat marked the first time this election that a Democratic incumbent failed to survive a primary challenge.
I'm always glad when no more primaries remain on the
because that means I can finalize all the races I'm
tracking here at Election Projection. This election, I'm tracking 116 races in all -
. The projection update I'll post later this evening
will include all finalized matchups - no more undetermined
So today we begin the 8-week sprint to the finish line. The year is shaping up to be a good year for Republicans and signs
are starting to indicate it may be "wave-worthy" yet. Regardless, I hope you'll make Election Projection a routine source for your
election news and numbers. I'll be updating the projections with new polls every day, Monday-Saturday, from now until my final
projections on Election Eve. Strap in and hold on - it's going to be an exciting ride!
posted by Scott Elliott at 1:01pm 09/10/14 :: link
Monday, September 8, 2014
A second poll dump from the collaboration between CBS, The New York Times
and YouGov has shaken up the numbers here
at Election Projection, producing a total of eight Senate rating changes. However, despite all the movement, the projected balance of
power in the 2014 Senate elections
remains unchanged at 51-46-3.
The Iowa Senate election
is back in the Democratic fold with Bruce Braley
forging a small lead over Republican Joni Ernst, but Democrat incumbent Mark Begich is now projected to lose the
Alaska Senate election
to Republican Dan Sullivan.
Here is the list of rating changes in today's projection update:
In addition to the eight Senate rating changes - which split evenly between the parties - the list also includes a change in the
Oklahoma governor election
. GOP Governor Mary Fallin moves comfortably ahead of Democratic
challenger Joe Dorman.
posted by Scott Elliott at 6:14pm 09/08/14 :: link
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Last week saw two major developments in the elections this year. In Alaska, Democrats abandoned their frontal assault on
Republican Governor Sean Parnell and merged their nominee, Byron Mallott, into the ticket of Independent Bill Walker. By
engineering a deal where Mallott becomes Walker's lt. governor candidate, Democrats hope to pool the Democratic and other non-GOP
vote to overwhelm Parnell's support and unseat the incumbent.
In a three-way race, Parnell held a large lead
in the polls
but struggled to get to 40% with the combined Mallott/Walker vote edging
into the low 40's. The new two-man race between Parnell and Walker has been polled but once - a prior Public Policy Polling
survey. Parnell's new found challenge is highlighted by the poll which gives him a scant 1-point lead over Walker, 41-40.
has moved from Solid GOP Hold
to a much more competitive Weak GOP Hold
The other significant shift occurred in the Kansas Senate election
where Democratic Chad Taylor announced he was withdrawing from the race. After Kansas Secretary of State Kris Koback (R) ruled Taylor would not be removed from the ballot, the Democrat reiterated that he would not serve if elected. The net of
his decision is that Republicans find themselves with yet another very challenging race in this deep red state.
Now, in addition to trying to save embattled
Governor Sam Brownback
, Sunflower State Republicans must also fret over a two-way
race between their incumbent, Senator Pat Roberts, and upstart Independent Greg Orman. As in the race for Alaska governor,
I could find but one poll
testing the new matchup.
It isn't good news for the red team. I'm doubtful the poll's findings will be confirmed by subsequent polling, but for now, Orman
takes a commanding 10-point lead in the 2014 Kansas Senate election
Until we have further polling data, this race moves from a Mod GOP Hold
Strong IND Gain
, our first Independent pick-up. The projected tally in the Senate now stands at
, 46 Democrats
. As you can see, Republicans are still projected to take the majority, but
Kansas' sudden competitiveness complicates their efforts to make that quest a reality.
posted by Scott Elliott at 11:09am 09/06/14 :: link
Thursday, September 4, 2014
This week's news has been full of stories concerning Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and her
dubious Louisiana residency
. This new scandal comes on the heels of last month's revelation of her
dubious use of taxpayer money
. Even before these damaging reports hit the airways, Landrieu was numbered among the most vulnerable
incumbent senators in 2014.
Rasmussen released a poll today that provides an indication that the scandals are having a negative effect on her already
teetering re-election chances. The poll
finds her 3 points behind
Republican Bill Cassidy, 44% to 41%. That's a six-point swing in Cassidy's favor from Rasmussen's July survey which had
Landrieu up by a 46-43 count.
As a result of this new poll, the calculations here at Election Projection move Cassidy into the lead in the
2014 Louisiana Senate election
, shifting the projection from
Weak DEM Hold
to Weak GOP Gain
. The Republicans are now
projected to earn seven takeovers in the Senate
and take a 52-46-2
posted by Scott Elliott at 7:53pm 09/04/14 :: link
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
The Battleground Poll, a collaboration between the Republican Tarrance Group and the Democratic Lake Research pollsters, released
its latest findings this week. The topline generic congressional ballot poll gives Republicans a 4-point edge over Democrats,
46-42. That is positive news for the red team to be sure, but it doesn't necessarily herald a coming GOP wave.
For Republicans looking to reclaim the Senate, however, a deeper look into the poll seems to offer
more substantial encouragement
. Ed Goeas, representing The Tarrance Group, points out how the GOP
advantages go beyond the 4-point topline lead.
|In states with a competitive US Senate race, Republicans hold a
sixteen point advantage (52%-36%) on this generic ballot. Not only are Republicans
getting stronger support on the generic ballot from "hard" Republicans (93%) than
Democrats are getting from "hard" Democrats (89%), "soft" Republicans are voting a
net sixteen-points stronger for the generic Republican on the ballot than "soft"
Democrats are voting for the generic Democrat. By any measure, Republicans are fired
up and ready to deliver victories to their candidates in November, with of the strong
backing of Independent (+15-points) and middle class voters (+11-points).
The 16-point lead in states where competitive Senate races are being held is a bit misleading considering the preponderance of red states
in that group, but I see two positives for the GOP, nonetheless. First, the data confirm that Republicans should have little
problem keeping control of the House. Second, the GOP is poised to take the lion's share of these Senate races, and, in doing so,
stand a great chance of winning the Senate, perhaps by a good margin.
With the 2016 Senate election slate looking like a very difficult climate for Republicans in the upper chamber, it probably will take a
cushion of 3 or 4 seats to avoid having that majority turn into a one-hit wonder. Election Projection currently projects
, 47 Democrats
and 2 Independents
. That's a net Republican gain of six seats in the
2014 Senate elections
posted by Scott Elliott at 7:05pm 09/03/14 :: link
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
With Labor Day, summer break's symbolic end, behind us, the 2014 election season is underway in earnest. The next 9 weeks
will witness ever-increasing interest in the upcoming elections as part-time political observers start turning their attention to who is
running for office - and who's projected to win.
So, if you're looking for a good time to take a baseline measurement, today's
numbers here at Election Projection provide a useful starting point. Will this cycle fulfill its current promise of a
or will Republicans start to see a wave building as interest builds and likely voter models become better defined? As they say, only
time will tell, but I hope you'll make Election Projection a daily stop as we keep our finger on the pulse of the American electorate, 2014 edition.
posted by Scott Elliott at 2:39pm 09/02/14 :: link
Saturday, August 30, 2014
Democrat Michelle Nunn and Republican David Perdue have held the title CEO, but in very different circumstances. In their
race for the open seat Georgia Senate election
, both are trying to cast
the other in a bad light because of their former executive position. The Telegraph from Macon, GA notes their
|Both candidates are political newcomers who see their business backgrounds as key to wooing independent voters in a race
that has garnered national attention as Republicans seek control of the Senate. The candidates also see an opportunity in
attacking their opponent's business record as they look to the general election.
Nunn highlights her position's philanthropic efforts.
|"David and I do have different real world experiences," Nunn said at a recent candidate forum. "I have an experience that has been about lifting people up over the last 26 years, building and growing organizations and getting things done for the people of Georgia in a collaborative way, a proven way of working across differences and party lines."
While Perdue touts his past experience dealing with the practical issues involved in running a private sector business and improving
|"My issue isn't so much how she ran that organization," Perdue said. "It's just that that leadership does not prepare you, in my mind, to deal with issues we have in a free-enterprise system. I want to focus on why my background is more appropriate to lead in the Senate in regard to bringing economic and free-enterprise solutions to fix the problems that we have with the economy today."
This race continues to be a close battle - one of just two featuring seats currently held by Republicans (the Kentucky Senate race is the
other). Election Projection rates the contest a Weak GOP Hold
with Perdue ahead at the moment
by 2.8 points.
posted by Scott Elliott at 3:29pm 08/30/14 :: link
Friday, August 29, 2014
|This actually makes sense
|Republican U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown is calling on Congress to "immediately" pass legislation that would strip homegrown terrorists of their American citizenship.
Brown's request comes following a Washington Times report indicating that as many as 300 Americans are fighting alongside ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
"One of the greatest threats facing the homeland today is the mayhem that will happen when hundreds of American ISIS fighters return to the United States to spread their terror here," Brown said. "Their goal is to march down Pennsylvania Avenue and plant a flag at the White House, and mass killing is their means for achieving that goal... We need to keep our country safe by stopping these American ISIS fighters from re-entering the country."
Throwing your lot in with a group who has openly vowed to
shed the blood of Americans
should absolutely render your U.S. citizenship null and void.
posted by Scott Elliott at 8:45pm 08/29/14 :: link
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen
to Scott Brown's answer to a question on climate change at the
GOP primary forum in New Hampshire on Saturday. Brown is the likely GOP primary winner and thus Shaheen's likely general
|At a debate over the weekend, New Hampshire US Senate hopeful Scott Brown weighed in on climate change, later prompting
a sharp response from Jeanne Shaheen, the senator he is hoping to unseat.
During the lightning round of a GOP primary forum on Saturday, the moderator asked: "Do you believe that the theory of manmade climate change has been scientifically proven?"
 Brown said, "uh, no."
On Monday, Shaheen responded to a news story about Brown’s answer. "Scott Brown is wrong. Climate change is
very real, and here in New Hampshire we are already seeing consequences," she said in a statement.
At this point, 2 weeks away from New Hampshire's September 9 primary, Shaheen is projected to keep the seat in Democratic
hands. The preliminary rating here at Election Projection is Strong DEM Hold
. That will likely
change after the primaries are over and the official, poll-driven numbers are calculated.
posted by Scott Elliott at 8:07pm 08/26/14 :: link
Last summer, the House passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in an attempt to ban nationwide abortions after 20 weeks
of pregnancy. The Democratic-led Senate has yet to bring the measure to a vote. Pro-life groups have trained their
criticism for the lack of a Senate vote on vulnerable Senate Democrats in Arkansas, Colorado and North Carolina.
|The Susan B. Anthony List, Students for Life of America, Family Research Council Action, and Concerned Women for America
are launching a multi-state "Summer of life" tour this week that will take aim at Sens. Mark Udall of Colorado, Kay Hagan of North Carolina
and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and aim to bring awareness to the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would curb abortions after 5 months.
All three are locked in tough re-election battles. Election Projection currently numbers the
North Carolina Senate
elections among six projected GOP takeovers
on the 2014 Senate map
Colorado Senate election
is a close one as well, currently listed as a
Weak DEM Hold
posted by Scott Elliott at 5:44pm 08/26/14 :: link