This is the first poll we’ve seen all year of Perdue’s race for a second term, and Cygnal only tested Ossoff, who was Team Blue’s nominee in the ultra-expensive 2017 special for the 6th District, against the incumbent. Two other notable Democrats, 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Sarah Riggs Amico and former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, are also competing with Ossoff in the June 9 primary, but Ossoff ended March with a large cash-on-hand lead over both his rivals. If no one takes a majority of the vote, the Democratic nomination would be decided in an August runoff.
As we noted above, an unnamed third-party candidate takes 4%, and this sort of showing could make a huge difference this fall. That’s because the state has an unusual law that requires candidates competing in the November general election in every race besides president to take a majority to avoid another runoff: Confusingly, the runoff for state-level general elections is set for Dec. 1, while the second round for federal general elections is on Jan. 5, 2021 thanks to requirements in federal law.
In past cycles, Democratic turnout has disproportionately suffered during the second round of voting: In 2008, for example, Democrat Jim Martin trailed in the first round of Georgia’s 2008 Senate race by just 3 points yet lost his runoff by 15. However, there’s no guarantee Democrats would face this kind of disadvantage if this cycle’s Senate contest went into overtime. In 2018, Democrat John Barrow went from a 0.4% deficit in the November contest for secretary of state to a 3.8% defeat the next month—still a clear move in the wrong direction, but not nearly as dramatic as what happened to Martin a decade before.
If there is a runoff here, turnout on both sides may also be affected because the special election for the state’s other seat is all but certain to go to a second round on Jan. 5. Georgia special election rules require all candidates to face off on one ballot, and if no one takes a majority then the two candidates with the most votes, regardless of party, will compete in a second round of voting. Because there are just so many candidates in this special it’s almost impossible for anyone to win outright in November.
However, Cygnal’s special election portion does give Democrats reason for concern. While GOP Rep. Doug Collins is far ahead, there’s essentially a three-way tie for the second spot between appointed GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler and two Democrats, Matt Lieberman and Raphael Warnock. If those results are on target, that means there’s a real chance that both Collins and Loeffler could advance to January, a result that would automatically keep this seat red and also potentially harm Democratic runoff turnout for the other Senate race.
The good news for Loeffler’s detractors on both sides of the aisle is that the appointed senator has attracted the wrong kind of attention ever since the Daily Beast reported in March that she had liquidated a number of assets just before the markets tanked as the coronavirus pandemic worsened. Collins released polls in the following weeks showing her horribly unpopular, and this new Cygnal survey also shows her struggling: The incumbent posts an awful 20-47 favorable rating, while Collins is on positive ground at 32-22. (Numbers were not released for any of the Democratic candidates.) We haven’t seen any data from independent pollsters in months, though.
No one has run TV ads yet attacking Loeffler over her transactions, which she’s insisted were made by “third-party advisors” without her knowledge, but that may change soon. Great America PAC, which backs Collins, recently went up with digital ads attacking Loeffler on the topic, and Fox writes it “plans to release the ad digitally in Georgia in the next few weeks before buying TV spots for the ad as well.” Altogether, the group says it plans to spend seven figures here.
Loeffler, though, does have more than enough personal wealth to fight back and go over both Collins and her Democratic opponents. The incumbent, who has self-funded more than $10 million so far, ended March with a $6.1 million to $2.2 million cash-on-hand lead over Collins, while Warnock had $1.2 million in the bank. The other two Democrats, Lieberman and Tarver, had $309,000 and $41,000 to spend, respectively.
● Georgia: A federal judge has rejected a request by voting rights advocates that Georgia officials be required to provide pre-paid postage for absentee ballots and ballot applications. However, the judge emphasized that her ruling only pertained to the state’s June 9 primary and held out the possibility that she could reach a different conclusion regarding the Aug. 11 runoff or the November general elections.
● Nevada: A federal judge has rejected a lawsuit brought by a conservative group that sought to prevent Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske from conducting Nevada’s June 9 primary by mail. The judge ruled that the plaintiffs had failed to show they would be harmed by Cegavske’s plan, but even had they been able to, he concluded that their worries about voter fraud were “without any factual basis.”
● AZ-Sen: GOP Sen. Martha McSally’s newest ad stars one of her constituents praising her on healthcare issues—a constituent who just happens to be McSally’s former campaign manager. The commercial, though, does not mention Kristen Douglas’ time running McSally’s 2014 House race or her subsequent work in her congressional office and on her 2018 Senate campaign.
Douglas tells the audience that she faced massive healthcare bills after a mass was found in her brain, and that her insurance company dropped her. Douglas continues, “Just six weeks after I was given a clean bill of health, my path collided with Martha McSally. Meeting somebody like her after what I had just gone through gave me a new sense of hope.” Politico reports that this commercial is airing on cable for $50,000.
● CO-Sen: On Thursday, Denver District Court Judge Christopher Baumann ordered nonprofit head Lorena Garcia onto the June 30 Democratic primary ballot. Garcia had not been able to turn in the 10,500 signatures required, but Baumann ruled that, in light of disruptions caused by social distancing, she had collected enough to justify her place in the primary. Baumann recently ordered another Democrat, businesswoman Michelle Ferrigno Warren, onto the ballot for the same reason, but Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold is appealing his decision to the state Supreme Court.
However, another Democratic candidate, climate activist Diana Bray, announced Friday that she would not appeal Baumann’s decision keeping her off the ballot.
● KS-Sen: Wealthy businessman Bob Hamilton is up with his first TV spot ahead of the August GOP primary, and Politico reports that it’s running for six figures. The narrator touts Hamilton’s business background and praises him as a “Christian family man and father of 12.” Hamilton also declares he’s a “plumber, not a politician, and I’m asking for your vote.” (Note: If you’re asking for votes, you’re a politician.)
● MI-Sen: The Democratic firm Public Policy Polling is out with another survey for the progressive group Progress Michigan, and it gives Democratic Sen. Gary Peters a 46-37 lead over Republican John James; the sample also supports Joe Biden 50-42. PPP, which is polling monthly for Progress Michigan, gave Peters a similar 45-38 edge at the start of April.
The news isn’t all bad for Republicans, though: Now that the Parks and Recreation Reunion Special is out, maybe someone will finally find the NRSC’s “Jerry Peters” jokes funny.
● MT-Sen: CNN reports that the Democratic group Senate Majority PAC is spending a hefty $700,000 on its opening ad buy against GOP Sen. Steve Daines. The TV spot declares, “Daines gave trillions in tax breaks to big corporations but pushed cuts to Medicare, opposed emergency paid sick leave, and even tried to limit unemployment benefits for those thrown out of work by the coronavirus.”
Daines faces a strong challenge from Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, and the “Battle of the Steves” promises to be an expensive one. Bullock, who entered the race in March, outraised Daines $3.3 million to $1.3 million during the first quarter of 2020, though the incumbent ended March with a $5.6 million to $3.2 million cash-on-hand lead.
The narrator declares, “Thrasher designed a faulty sewage system in our town in Marion County. Thrasher’s negligence resulted in raw sewage flooding our homes for eight years!” The ad continues by declaring that, after Thrasher refused to accept responsibility, a court forced him to pay $4 million. The on-screen text says that this settlement happened in late 2008, eight years before Justice himself brought Thrasher into his administration.
● CA-25: Former Rep. Katie Hill, a Democrat who resigned last year after she was victimized by revenge porn, is starring in a commercial for her new group, HER Time PAC, ahead of the May 12 special election.
Hill, who appears in front of the White House wearing a facemask, does not mention either Democrat Christy Smith or Republican Mike Garcia in her spot. Instead, she tells the audience, “We’re all scared right now, and it’s even more dangerous because of what’s coming out of that building right behind me. But there’s something we can do about it.” Hill then encourages her former constituents to return their mail ballots before May 12 because “[T]his time, we have to vote like our lives depend on it.” The commercial is running for $200,000 on cable TV and online.
The special election to succeed Hill in this competitive seat has been a very competitive race, and it’s one where both candidates have raised and spent a comparable amount of money. The only poll we’ve seen here at all, though, was a mid-March survey for Garcia from 1892 Polling that gave him a small 43-39 edge.
● FL-19, IN-05: Wealthy businessman Casey Askar and Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi are the latest candidates to run commercials in GOP primaries attacking China and pledging to get tough on the world’s largest country and America’s largest trading partner.
Askar, who is competing for a safely red Florida seat, also uses the racist term “Wuhan pandemic” in his ad declaring that “China must pay.” Brizzi, who is running in a competitive Indiana seat, argues that China has been “infiltrating our southern border,” an accusation he doesn’t bother to explain.
● GA-14: Former state School Superintendent John Barge uses his new ad in the June 9 GOP primary to grade both Donald Trump and “Nancy Pelosi and the socialist squad.” You can probably guess who gets awarded the A+ and who gets flunked on Bargehouse Rock.
● KS-02: On Friday, the Kansas Farm Bureau endorsed state Treasurer Jake LaTurner over freshman Rep. Steve Watkins in the August GOP primary. The Kansas City Star’s Bryan Lowry notes that, while the Farm Bureau didn’t support Watkins during his first race, it’s rare to see it oppose an incumbent. The group, which is a force in rural Kansas, did support Roger Marshall in his successful 2016 primary campaign against Rep. Tim Huelskamp in the neighboring 1st District, though.
● MI-03: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy endorsed Peter Meijer, an Army veteran and wealthy businessman, on Friday in the August GOP primary to succeed Libertarian presidential candidate Justin Amash.
Amash, who left the GOP in July to become an independent, announced on Tuesday that he was giving up this Grand Rapids district to mount a White House bid, and he formally notified the House clerk on Thursday that he was now a Libertarian. Amash’s move not only gives the Libertarian Party its first-ever member of Congress, it also makes him the first member House member in decades to officially identify as anything other than a Democrat, a Republican, or an independent.
How many decades, though, isn’t quite clear. William Carney was elected to a Long Island seat as a member of New York’s Conservative Party back in 1978, but he was also able to run and win the GOP nomination under New York’s fusion voting rules. Carney, who caucused with the GOP during his tenure, only left the Conservatives to become a Republican in 1986, a move that came a few months before he decided not to seek re-election. The House’s website, though, lists Carney as a Republican for each of the four Congresses he served in.
The House does identify one “Independent Democrat” serving in both the 86th and 88th Congresses in the first half of the 1960s, but the last Congress that seemed to contain a member of full-fledged third-party was the 81st, which convened during the Truman administration from 1949 to 1951. That member was Rep. Vito Marcantonio, a New Yorker who represented East Harlem as a member of the left-wing American Labor Party and a favorite national GOP target: None other than California Rep. Richard Nixon won his 1950 Senate race on the other side of the country with a campaign tying his opponent, Democratic Rep. Helen Gahagan Douglas, to Marcantonio.
Like Amash, Marcantonio was originally elected to the House as a Republican. But while Marcantonio also bolted the GOP, he won his third term in 1938 as a member of his new party. Marcantonio would occasionally compete in and sometimes win both Democratic and Republican primaries over the next decade, but he earned his final term in 1948 by defeating both parties in the general election. Two years later, at the same time that Nixon was using Marcantonio to win a Senate seat, the congressman finally lost the general election to a Democratic rival.
● NY-01: 314 Action, a group that works to elect Democrats with scientific backgrounds, has announced a “six-figure” cable TV buy backing Stony Brook University professor Nancy Goroff in the June 23 Democratic primary to face GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin. The commercial argues that Goroff “will use evidence for coronavirus recovery to fix our broken healthcare system and fight climate change.”