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Weekly Political Update -- September 9, 2016

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President

There appears to be a decided shift toward Donald Trump in the polls conducted during the period beginning August 30th.  Ten surveys, from ten different pollsters, were conducted and the split between the two major party candidates averages only 1.2%.  The range stretches from Hillary Clinton +4 to Donald Trump +2.

Of the ten, six find Clinton leading (Fox News, George Washington University/ Battleground, Morning Consult, NBC/Survey Monkey, Franklin Pierce University/ Boston Herald, and The Economist/YouGov), two show Trump up (Rasmussen Reports, CNN/ORC), and a pair projects the two falling into a flat tie (Investors Business Daily/TIPP, and Los Angeles Times/University of Southern California).

The Washington Post joined with the Survey Monkey organization to produce our first full 50-state poll.  While looking at the four-candidate splits – those including Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein – most of the individual state findings are consistent with other published polls and vote history, but several are not.

Colorado, Georgia, Mississippi, Nevada, Texas, and Wisconsin appear to have produced results that should be considered anomalies. 

Colorado showing a 37-37% tie between Clinton and Trump deviates from all other data that project the former Secretary of State to be clearly ahead.  Wisconsin being considered a toss-up also flies in the face of all other surveys that consistently have produced Clinton leads.

Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas are southern states where Republicans typically perform better than they poll.  It is likely that the same pattern will hold true this year and Trump will win comfortable victories in each place.

Nevada has been routinely polling either as a toss-up or leaning toward Trump.  The Washington Post/Survey Monkey data, however, forecasts it as leaning toward Ms. Clinton. 

Overall, these state-by-state results could reasonably give Clinton as many as 261 votes as compared to Trump’s 186, with the remaining ten states being considered toss-ups.  Therefore, the best reasonable Trump finish still looks to break 273-265 in Clinton’s favor.

Senate

Several new polls are out, which portray a national Senate picture that continues toward absolute political party parity.  It appears that three Republican states are likely to switch allegiance: Illinois (Sen. Mark Kirk), Indiana (Open – Sen. Dan Coats), and Wisconsin (Sen. Ron Johnson). 

This means the pure toss-up states of New Hampshire (Sen. Kelly Ayotte-R vs. Gov. Maggie Hassan-D), Pennsylvania (Sen. Pat Toomey-R vs. Katie McGinty-D), and the open Nevada seat of retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (Rep. Joe Heck-R vs. former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto-D) will probably determine majority status.  The party winning two of these three contests will likely hold nominal control.  It now appears the Senate will split either 51-49 or 50-50, with each party having a chance to reach the 51 number.

Several polls each see the New Hampshire and Pennsylvania races falling within the margin of error and the party nominees exchanging leads.  More North Carolina results again find two-term Sen. Richard Burr (R) and former state Rep. Deborah Ross (D) landing in the toss-up category.  Other multiple polls within the individual state post Sens. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) to advantages beyond the polling margin of error. 

House

Major House news occurred as absentee and provisional vote counting concluded in Arizona.  Surprisingly, the final counting in the open 5th District potentially produced a different winner than we saw on election night.

On August 30th, former GoDaddy.com executive Christine Jones appeared to have won the Republican primary.  She led state Senate President Andy Biggs by 876 votes with all Election Day and early votes counted.  The revised final count found her lead dropping to 578, which still looked like enough to sustain the nomination victory when considering the number of outstanding ballots that remained.

As the Labor Day holiday weekend concluded, however, Biggs actually surpassed Jones by the slimmest of margins: just nine votes.  The unofficial final tally shows both candidates garnering 29% of the vote, or a raw total of 25,228 to 25,219.  Candidates Don Shapely, a former Maricopa County Supervisor, and state Representative Justin Olson took 21 and 20%, respectively.

The official precinct canvass is now underway, which could again change this outcome since the two are separated by such a thin margin.  Arizona election law requires the post-election canvass to be completed no later than September 12th.  Once the official vote totals are tabulated, a re-count will begin.  It is safe to say that resolving this virtually tied contest will likely take several weeks before re-counting and legal challenges culminate in a final decision.  The eventual Republican primary winner will claim the seat in November, since this district is safe for the GOP. 

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