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Weekly Political Update -- November 4, 2017



The new Hillary Clinton email revelation has ushered in a sense of doubt surrounding the final week of this unique presidential campaign.  In fact, the latest four polls taken between the October 30-November 3 period find the race reverting back to within the polling margin of error.

Both Rasmussen Reports (11/1-3; 1,500 US likely voters) and the Investors Business Daily/TIPP poll (10/30-11/3; 898 US likely voters) project a flat tie, 44-44%.  The ABC News/Washington Post rolling tracking survey (10/30-11/2; 1,151 US likely voters) reports a Clinton lead of 47-44%.  Finally, the Lucid/New Orleans Times Picayune (10/31-11/2; 860 US likely voters) forecasts a five-point Clinton spread, 44-39%.  This portends quite a different scene from just one week ago.

Trends seem to be moving Trump’s way now in Ohio, Iowa, Nevada, and even New Hampshire.  In this latter state, though he’s been behind for months, four separate polls see the Republican nominee advancing into a tie or better.  He’s also getting back into range in North Carolina.  

Ms. Clinton has the edge in all-important Florida, however, as two polls, Opinion Savvy (11/1-2; 603 FL likely voters; 55% responded as early voters) and Gravis Marketing (10/31; 1,195 FL likely voters via interactive voice response system and online cell phone users) see her holding 49-45 and 49-46% leads, respectively.  

Though these polls all suggest that each particular state is within Trump’s grasp, all must fall his way in order to declare final victory next week, assuming he retains the 23 normally Republican entities.  In this latter group, Utah, Arizona, and now Georgia (NBC/WSJ/Marist; 10/30-11/1; 707 GA likely voters; Trump 45-44-8%) are still tight.  While Trump is closer to achieving all of this, the national map still favors Ms. Clinton even with her record low favorability rating (38:60% positive to negative according to the ABC/Washington Post survey).

Trump’s fundamental problem is that he must carry all of the marginal states, while Ms. Clinton needs only one to stop his final electoral push.  The odds still favor a Clinton victory on Tuesday night.


Entering the final week of campaigning, we still do not have a sense as to which party will control the Senate majority next year.  Right now, it appears that Democrats look secure in 48 seats, counting holdovers, and Republicans’ 47.  Five contests remain as toss-ups.  The Democratic 48 number includes converting Republican seats in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, though the latter two states are again tightening.

If Democrats hold the Nevada Senate race (Democratic former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson)), it means they would only have to win one of the remaining four seats to re-gain the majority assuming Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine are successfully elected President and Vice President.  Right now, the Silver State race continues to seesaw between the two Senate candidates.  The latest survey, from the Emerson College Polling Society (10/26-27; 550 NV likely voters), gives Republican Heck a 48-44% advantage.

North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) continues to hold a small edge over Democratic challenger Deborah Ross.  The latest released survey, from local Elon University (10/23-27; 710 NC likely voters), gives the Senator a three-point advantage, 45-42%.

Monmouth University (10/28-31; 405 MO likely voters) finds Sen. Roy Blunt (R) clinging only to a 47-46% edge over Secretary of State Jason Kander (D).  While this poll is consistent with several others, the same respondent sample gives Donald Trump a whopping 52-38% lead over Hillary Clinton.  If true, and the Emerson College Polling Society (10/28-31; 650 MO likely voters) agrees (Trump leading 52-37%), then Sen. Blunt should be ahead by a much greater margin.

Democrats appear to be forging ahead in Pennsylvania (Sen. Pat Toomey (R) opposing Katie McGinty (D)), but New Hampshire (Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) vs. Gov. Maggie Hassan (D)) continues to sway back and forth.  All of these races have been volatile for months and could easily snap back to produce a Republican victory next Tuesday, but odds still favor the Democrats landing at 50-50 or 51-49.


The latest Clinton email development and the tightening presidential contest will likely help down ballot Republicans.  This is so because Republican turnout will likely be better than feared when it appeared Ms. Clinton had virtually clinched the national campaign.

Democrats still appear poised to make some gains but should the 20 toss-up seats split 50/50, then overall GOP losses will likely fall in the 9-15 seat range.  This type of result would give the Republicans a majority around the 232-38 mark, which is exactly in the typical range since Republicans began winning House control back in 1994.  In the last eleven congressional terms, House Republicans have been in charge for all but four years. 

With a combination of a better Republican voter turnout model and congressional district maps that favor them, the GOP will retain House control for another term.  If Ms. Clinton does become President and Democrats re-gain a small Senate majority, then divided government will continue into the next congressional session.


Twelve Governors’ races are on tap for Tuesday night, counting the Oregon special election.

Today, it appears Democrats have strong chances of defeating North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) and taking the open Republican Governor’s chair in Indiana. 

Republicans have a shot at taking the open Democratic state houses in New Hampshire, and surprisingly, Vermont.  The open Democratic Missouri Governor’s race is heading to toss-up status as we turn toward the final days.

Democratic gubernatorial incumbents in Montana, Oregon, and Washington look to be in secure positions, as do Republican Governors in North Dakota and Utah.  Democrats will hold their open seats in Delaware and West Virginia.

When the dust settles, it appears the 31-18-1 Republican edge will hold or change by a seat, but the gubernatorial faces will be a bit different.

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