Election News

Two Polls Show Single Digit Lead for Republican in Montana Special Election

Two recent polls of Montana's upcoming U.S. House special election show a single digit lead for the Republican. The seat became vacant after Ryan Zinke resigned March 1 to become Secretary of the Interior.  

The most recent poll, from Gravis Marketing, gives Republican Greg Gianforte an 8 point lead over his Democratic challenger Rob Quist. A late April poll from Democratic pollster Garin-Hart-Yang showed a similar 6 point Gianforte lead. 

This is a statewide race, as Montana has a single congressional district. The seat has been in Republican hands since 1997. Zinke won re-election by 16% last November, while Trump did even better, outpacing Hillary Clinton by 20%. 

A Long List of Possible Democratic Challengers to Trump in 2020

The Hill notes that "The 2020 presidential election could feature the most crowded Democratic primary in decades, with scores of Democrats rumored as potential contenders." They've come up with a list of 43 possible candidates, including many from outside the political sphere, as Trump's success essentially opens the playing field to just about anyone with name recognition and money.

Georgia Special Election Breaks Spending Record; New Poll Finds Handel Slightly Ahead

The special election in Georgia's 6th congressional district will be the most expensive House race in U.S. history. Meanwhile, a new poll finds a very competitive battle for the June 20th runoff.

Nearly $30 million has been spent on television ads for the battle between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel. That, in and of itself, breaks the previous record for money spent on a House race*. However, the record is shattered when adding in the millions more being spent on mailers, radio, etc. So much money is coming into this race that the Atlanta NBC station has added an additional news broadcast to enable them to run all the ads that have been purchased. 

A new poll from Landmark Communications gives Handel 49.1% to Ossoff's 46.5%, with slightly under 5% undecided. This result is well within the poll's 4% margin of error. The Republican vote, split across multiple candidates in the April 18th special election, has consolidated behind Handel. While she has a small lead, the poll found that "nearly 6 in 10 independents – a crucial voting bloc in Georgia that typically breaks for the GOP – backs Ossoff’s campaign." The survey included 611 likely voters.

Health Care Passes House on Party Line Vote; Bill Repeals, Replaces Obamacare

From the New York Times: "The House on Thursday narrowly approved a bill to repeal and replace major parts of the Affordable Care Act, as Republicans recovered from their earlier failures and moved a step closer to delivering their promise to reshape American health care without mandated insurance coverage.

The vote, 217-213, on President Trump’s 105th day in office, keeps alive the Republican dream to unwind the signature legislative achievement of former President Barack Obama. The House measure faces profound uncertainty in the Senate, where the legislation’s steep spending cuts will almost certainly be moderated. Any legislation that can get through the Senate will again have to clear the House and its conservative majority."

The measure needed 216 votes to pass (not 218, as there are 4 vacant seats), and it achieved that via a straight party-line vote. Of the 193 'no' votes, 20 were from Republicans.

Republican Ros-Lehtinen to Retire From Congress; 2018 Race Shifts to Favor Democrats

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27) is retiring at the end of the current term, according to the Miami Herald. The Republican is in her fifteenth term, making her the longest-standing member of Florida's congressional delegation. (Democrat Alcee Hastings (FL-20) is next; he is in his 13th term.

The retirement makes the seat much more likely to flip Democratic in the 2018 midterm elections.  Per the Herald: "Ros-Lehtinen, 64, was elected last November to Florida’s redrawn 27th district, a stretch of Southeast Miami-Dade County that leans so Democratic that Hillary Clinton won it over Donald Trump by 20 percentage points. It was Clinton's biggest margin of any Republican-held seat in the country." 

Jason Chaffetz Not Running for Reelection

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (UT-03), chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee has announced he will not seek a 6th term in the 2018 midterm elections. The congressman made the announcement on his Facebook page, stating "Since late 2003 I have been fully engaged with politics as a campaign manager, a chief of staff, a candidate and as a Member of Congress. I have long advocated public service should be for a limited time and not a lifetime or full career. Many of you have heard me advocate, “Get in, serve, and get out.” After more than 1,500 nights away from my home, it is time. I may run again for public office, but not in 2018."

Chaffetz went on to say that he has no ulterior motives here. However, in his Oversight role, he is now in the uncomfortable position of leading possible investigations against a Republican president. Additionally, Chaffetz had already gotten a primary challenge for 2018. Looking beyond that, he may have been up against a Democratic opponent in the general election that has significantly outpaced him in fundraising thus far in 2017. Some consideration might also have been given to the fact that Republican control over the House may be in jeopardy next year.

Chaffetz is the 9th House member (5th Republican) to pass on a reelection campaign. 

Ossoff, Handel Advance to Runoff for Georgia Congressional Seat

From the New York Times: "Jon Ossoff, a Democrat, and Karen Handel, a Republican, advanced to a June 20 runoff in the special election for the [Georgia 6th Congressional District] U.S. House seat vacated by Tom Price, the new health and human services secretary." Ossoff received 48% of the vote, just short of the 50% threshold to avoid the runoff. Handel came in 2nd, her 20% tally outpacing a large group of Republicans on the nonpartisan primary ballot.

 

The election was seen as an early referendum on Donald Trump's presidency, thus drawing national attention. Democrats pinned their hopes on Ossoff, a filmmaker and former congressional staff member. He raised over $8 million, far above anyone else in the race. In the end, all that money and energy helped Ossoff slightly outperform Hillary Clinton in each of the three counties making up the district (see Vote by County in above graphic). However, it was not enough to avoid the June runoff. 

Alabama U.S. Senate Special Election Moved to 2017

Alabama has moved up the date for its U.S. Senate special election to December 12, 2017, following a primary on August 15th, Politico reports. The special election was previously scheduled for November 6, 2018, to coincide with the midterm general elections. The winner of the special election will serve out the six-year term of this seat, next up for election in 2020.

The Senate seat became open when Jeff Sessions resigned after being confirmed as U.S. Attorney General in February. Then governor Robert Bentley, appointed Luther Strange to the seat. Bentley subsequently resigned on April 10th to avoid felony charges and likely impeachment. The Lt. Governor at the time, Kay Ivey, took over for Bentley that day. She pursued the date change after discussions with state officials.

Ossoff 45%, Handel 17% in Latest Georgia Special Election Poll

Democrat Jon Ossoff is polling at 45% in a poll released late Friday for the Georgia's 6th congressional district special election. This is slightly better than recent polling having him in the low 40s, but he remains several points shy of the 50% threshold to avoid a runoff.

The Republican vote is split among several candidates. However, this latest poll has former Ga. Secretary of State Karen Handel pulling away from her main competition.  Handel comes in at 17%, while Bob Gray, Dan Moody and Judson Hill are congregated between 8-9%.

If these results play out in Tuesday's election, Ossoff and Handel will meet in a top-two runoff on June 20th.

GOP Retains Kansas District in Unexpectedly Competitive Special Election

Republican Ron Estes is the projected winner of the special election in Kansas' 4th congressional district, edging Democratic nominee James Thompson in a much closer than expected race. With 94% of the vote in, Estes leads by just 5.8%.