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Election Day
November 8, 2016
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2014 Election News

Today we are exactly 120 days from Election Day, 2014.  With Independence Day behind us, the buildup toward November 4 should be steady from here on in.  I hope everyone had a meaningful and safe July 4 holiday celebrating what is still the greatest country on earth, our United States of America.

As we kick off this post-holiday summer stretch, I thought it would be a good time to assess the status of the electoral landscape.  Despite the likelihood of strong Republican gains in the Senate, the political waters remain relatively calm.  Democrats still hold a slight advantage in generic Congressional polling, making a wave election in the House of Representatives highly unlikely at this point.  Even in the Senate, where Republicans hope to pick up enough seats to take the majority, Election Projection's summary of the 2014 Senate elections currently has them falling just short.

Senate Review
All year, three states have been looking like certain Republican pickups, and nothing in West Virginia, Montana or South Dakota indicates any change in that assessment.  Republicans should gain all three and raise their seat count in the Senate to 48.  But though opportunities abound for additional takeovers, their prospects of getting to 51 - based on recent polling data - is shaky at best.

Arkansas and Louisiana sport a red shade on EP's Senate projection map, indicating a Republican gain, but neither is a sure thing.  In Arkansas, Republican nominee Tom Cotton is enjoying the benefit of a partisan Magellan poll and a Rasmussen poll to claim a narrow lead over Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor.  A Magellan poll is also the impetus for Bill Cassidy's current lead against Mary Landrieu in Louisiana.

Two other juicy targets for the GOP, Mark Begich in Alaska and Kay Hagan in North Carolina lead their respective Republican opponents. Without a less likely victory in a state like Colorado, Iowa or Michigan, Republicans must win these two to reach that coveted 51-seat mark.  But it might take even more than that given the rumblings of a certain southern belle.

Down in Georgia, it looks like Congressman Jack Kingston should win the runoff for the GOP nomination against David Purdue.  Trouble is, Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn is polling ahead of Kingston right now, and this race is looking more and more like one Nunn could win.

House Review
Not much has changed on the House front over the last several weeks.  Come to think of it, that'll probably be the story all year long - even after the votes have been counted.  With the GOP holding the upper hand by a 234-201 tally, Democrats appear likely to withstand the dreaded 6-year itch without substantial losses in the lower chamber.  I've said this before, but it bears repeating.   Legitimate pickup opportunities for either party just aren't that plentiful this year.

The current 2014 House election projections here at EP have the GOP gaining 3 seats - California CD-52, North Carolina CD-7 and Utah CD-4.  Democrats are projected to add four GOP seats to their numbers - California CD-31, Colorado CD-6, Iowa CD-3 and New York CD-11. Taken together, these gains represent a net improvement of one seat for the blue team.  Don't be surprised to see a similar projection here on November 4.

Historically speaking, this should be a very good election for the GOP. However, unless Republicans can do a better job of connecting Democrats to President Obama's dismal job approval and articulating a better alternative, it looks like this year might be a golden opportunity largely squandered.

Governors Review
Statehouse races are traditionally less partisan than Senate or House contests.  It is much more likely in today's polarized political world to see a governor than a senator or representative from the minority party.  EP's 2014 governor election projections serve to illustrate that point.  Of the three projected Republican pickups, two are in deep blue states - Illinois and Hawaii.

On the other hand, Arkansas' increasingly Republican lean is a major factor in that state's projected switch to red team.  Democrats will have a very difficult time holding the governorship without an incumbent running.

Two positives are there for Democrats, however. It looks like Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is on his way out.  Struggling against approval ratings even worse than President Obama, Corbett is a heavy underdog at this point to Democrat Tom Wolf.  And in Maine, Republican incumbent Paul LePage isn't in nearly as bad a shape as Corbett, but he's locked in a very tough battle, nonetheless. Congressman Mike Michaud leads three-way polling over LePage by a small margin with Independent Eliot Cutler pulling a strong 15% of the vote.

As I mentioned above, Republicans at the present time are projected to win the statehouse in Illinois and Hawaii.  However, this is only July and both those states are heavily Democratic.  I know I claimed that gubernatorial races are less partisan, but party ID still matters.  I have my doubts, especially in Hawaii, that the Republican candidate will maintain the lead until voting starts.

I took the week off last week for the most part.   God willing, it will be the last break for me between now and Election Day.  So look for lots of election coverage here at EP for the duration.  Even if this year turns out to be indeed a status-quo election, there is still plenty of excitement to be had.  And, who knows, a lot of time remains for the political winds to muster a howl.

Look for the next update of the numbers this evening.

posted by Scott Elliott at 12:51am 07/07/14 :: link
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