Elections 2020: Collins in Maine Tossup; Kansas Senate Seat Up for Grabs?


  • July 13, 2020
  • 3 min read

Focus: Senate

Alaska: Public Policy Polling surveyed the Alaska electorate (7/7-8; 1,081 AK voters via automated response device) and finds Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) to be leading his prospective Democratic opponent, surgeon Al Gross, by only a single-digit margin, 39-34 percent. Close polling in Alaska is not surprising because electoral history reveals that such is typically the case, and not always consistent with the final outcome.

Kansas: A newly formed organization called Plains PAC just launched what appears to be a $3 million negative media buy against Senate Republican candidate Kris Kobach with a hard-hitting ad in a build-up to the August 4th primary election. Democratic strategists believe they have a chance to win what should be a safely Republican seat if Kobach, who lost the Governor’s race in 2018, becomes the nominee and polling suggests they are correct. Western Kansas Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Great Bend) is the most viable candidate with an opportunity to deny Kobach the party nomination.

Maine: Last week, we reported on a Moore Information survey (6/20-24; 600 ME registered voter telephone interviews) that found Sen. Susan Collins (R) leading state House Speaker Sara Gideon (D-Freeport), 45-37%. Now, Public Policy Polling (7/2-3; 1,022 “voters” through interactive response devise) posts Gideon to a 46-42% lead. While phone interviews tend to be more accurate than automated responses, the cumulative effect of the two polls provide support for prognosticators who project this race as a toss-up campaign.

Massachusetts: The Senate Democratic primary race between Massachusetts incumbent Ed Markey and Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Newton) is expected to be close at the polls and even appears to be down to the penny in the political money war. Both men are releasing their 2nd Quarter 2020 financial numbers, and each raised just over $1.9 million during the period. They both have almost the same amount of cash-on-hand, too. Sen. Markey reports $4.8 million in his campaign account versus Rep. Kennedy’s $4.7 million.

This week, the incumbent also received some help from his climate change allies. The Senator has been a leader in environmental issues and causes for decades during his congressional service, and his work is being recognized. The Environment America Action Fund, whose supported independent expenditure PAC United for Massachusetts, announced they will spend over $900,000 on a broadcast and digital ad campaign to promote Sen. Markey. The Massachusetts primary is September 1st.

New Jersey: Sen. Cory Booker was easily re-nominated for a second term I this week’s New Jersey primary capturing over 89% of the projected vote. Who he will face in November remains a question mark, however. Former congressional candidate Hirsch Singh and pharmaceutical executive Rik Mehta are seesawing in counting that is taking days to count. Regardless of who wins the Republican primary, Sen. Booker is the prohibitive re-election favorite for the Fall campaign. As with many other states, the large number of mailed ballots means the tabulation period can be stretched for more than a week.

Tennessee: We’re seeing a number of instances where polling conducted in the same relative time frame is producing differing results. Such is the case again in Tennessee. The open Senate race hasn’t attracted much national attention largely because most analysts believe that former US Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty will easily win the Republican primary and the seat in November. One poll, from the Tarrance Group (6/28-30; 651 TN GOP likely voters over half of whom have voted in the last four Republican primaries), supports such a conclusion. Tarrance finds Mr. Hagerty holding a 46-29% Republican primary advantage over Nashville surgeon Manny Sethi.

Victory Phones, which gained statewide credibility for conducting Gov. Bill Lee’s polling in 2018, sees a different result, however. Their study (6/30-7/1; 800 likely Republican primary voters) foresees a much closer contest. While projecting Mr. Hagerty into the lead, it is only by two points, 33-31%, over Dr. Sethi. Tennessee is the only state in the country to hold its primary on a Thursday, and this year the nomination vote is scheduled for August 6th.

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