On Tuesday, several hard-fought primaries (and one runoff election) are set to be resolved in four states; the most closely watched are the gubernatorial and Senate primaries in Connecticut, Colorado, Minnesota and Georgia. C&E presents previews and predictions in Tuesday’s primaries.
For the sake of brevity, only those polling close to their opponents are being considered as contenders in Tuesday’s primaries.
Colorado Governor (Republican): Dan Maes v. Scott McInnis
Before Scott McInnis’ plagiarism scandal broke early in the summer and Dan Maes came from behind to win the Republican Party’s backing at the state convention, this race looked like a yawner. While Maes is no Boy Scout (he has his own ethics issues), he maintains a close lead over McInnis. McInnis lost his nearly 30-point lead in June and now faces a 4-point deficit. However, McInnis is still within the 4.3-percent margin of error and November-oriented voters may still give McInnis the benefit of the doubt; he polls much better against Democratic gubernatorial nominee John Hickenlooper.
Projected winner: Toss Up – Dan Maes
Colorado Senate (Republican): Ken Buck v. Jane Norton
Tea Party favorite and Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck has been steadily gaining on former Lt. Governor Jane Norton since May. The last poll shows Buck with a 9-point lead over Norton. However, misogynistic and anti-Tea Party gaffs by Buck recorded by those most odious of modern contrivances, the campaign tracker, have exploded like a bombshell over the Centennial State. These scandals have had a serious impact on the Tea Party support that buoyed Buck in the past few months. That tape and this one have significantly impacted the trajectory of this race.
Projected winner: Toss Up - Jane Norton
Colorado Senate (Democratic) Michael Bennet v. Andrew Romanoff
When Bill Clinton came out in favor of former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff against appointed Sen. Michael Bennet in June, it was regarded as a political slap in the face to President Obama. After all, Romanoff was polling between 15 and 17 points behind Bennet; what could President Clinton have to gain from this endorsement besides political points? Well, predictions (of the kind we are engaging in right now) are often proven false. Romanoff closed that lead quickly and as of August held an upset 3-point lead over Bennet. As the polls tightened, the rhetoric became more vicious. PPP has a poll out Tuesday with Bennet reclaiming his mid-summer lead and just escaping the margin of error.
Projected winner: Toss Up - Michael Bennet
Connecticut Governor (Democratic): Ned Lamont v. Daniel Malloy
This race has tightened to a dead heat. Greenwich businessman and former Senate candidate Ned Lamont has been leading former Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy for months. The most recent Quinnipiac poll shows Lamont leading Malloy with 45 to 42 points. While the two were outwardly civil during a televised debate last week, both candidates are hitting hard in their TV ads, even some parodying the other’s attack ads (Bad singer. Messy desk. Would you vote for this man?). Both candidates are waging close campaigns, but this last-minute surge is not likely to offset the year’s momentum and the Democrats desire to give Lamont the spotlight he was denied in his race against Sen. Joe Lieberman in 2006.
Projected winner: Solid - Ned Lamont
Connecticut Governor (Republican): Tom Foley v. Michael Fedele
The August 10 primaries this year are plagued by the same, familiar story: front runner enjoys a large lead in the summer polls only to see that lead erased weeks before the primary. Such is the story of former Ambassador Tom Foley. His lead over Lt. Governor Mike Fedele in July was a full 35 points. Today it has shrunk to a manageable but disconcerting 8 points. Fedele’s camp released a poll of likely voters Sunday that shows him taking a 4-point lead over Foley. This race has become uniquely fluid and Quinnipiac Poll Director Doug Schwartz described Connecticut Democrats this year as being “unusually squishy.” While we believe he is referring to voter’s lack of conviction for one candidate or the other, we at C&E decline to speculate further as to his meaning.
Projected winner: Toss Up - Tom Foley
Connecticut Senate (Republican): Linda McMahon v. Rob Simmons
In one of the most watched Senate primaries this year, WWE CEO Linda McMahon faces former Congressman Rob Simmons for the GOP nomination to face Attorney Richard Blumenthal in the race to replace retiring Sen. Chris Dodd. Linda McMahon has been polling well ahead of Simmons even before she announced her candidacy. The latest Quinnipiac poll has McMahon’s lead up to 22 points over Simmons.
Projected winner: Solid - Linda McMahon
Minnesota Governor (Democratic): Mark Dayton v. Margaret Anderson Kelliher
Former Minnesota Sen. Mark Dayton has enjoyed a steady lead in this three-way race between himself, House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and former House minority leader Matt Entenza. Some have speculated that Kelliher underperformed during a debate on Sunday which will push Dayton over the top. It is debatable how much of a push over the top Dayton needs. The latest SurveyUSA poll has Dayton up 16 points over both Kelliher and Entenza.
Projected winner: Solid - Mark Dayton
Georgia Governor Runoff (Republican): Nathan Deal v. Karen Handel
The latest Mason-Dixon poll surveying the Georgia runoff has former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel winning with 5 points. However, an Insider Advantage poll from last Friday has this race tied at 46 to 46. Advantage reports that Deal is closing in on Handel, despite her lead with most age groups, in the coveted suburbs of Atlanta and the northern part of the state. On Monday, Sarah Palin parachuted in to campaign for Handel, one of her “Mama Grizzlies.” Handel would be the state’s first female governor, a trend that would be mirrored in South Carolina should Nikki Haley win in November.
Mr. Deal is not without his GOP backers though, Republican heavyweight and FOX News host Mike Huckabee endorsed Deal, who has been running to the right of Handle on issues like tax reform and abortion. Huckabee won Georgia during the 2008 GOP primaries with 34 percent of the vote.
Handel won the July 20th primary with 34 percent, but with Eric Johnson and John Oxendine out of the race, this runoff feels like it is poised for an upset.
Projected winner: Toss Up - Nathan Deal
Noah Rothman is the online editor at C&E. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org