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Third Parties Garnering Support In Key Statewide Races

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A recent report by Gallup indicates muted support for third party candidates thus far in the 2008 presidential race. In an open-ended question asking likely voters for which candidate they would cast their presidential ballot, only 2 percent cited third party candidates (1 percent each for Libertarian candidate Bob Barr and independent candidate Ralph Nader).

Although the candidacies of Barr and Nader may not have gained traction yet nationally, third party candidates in other high profile statewide races are already making their mark.

For example, in Colorado’s open U.S. Senate race, the latest Rocky Mountain News poll (August 11-13) finds left-leaning independent candidate Buddy Moore receiving the support of 5 percent of registered voters and Green Party candidate Bob Kinsey earning another 2 percent. Democrat Mark Udall is favored to win this open seat, but currently holds just a 6-point lead over Republican Bob Schaffer.

In North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race, GOP incumbent and frontrunner Elizabeth Dole holds a mere 5-point lead in SurveyUSA’s August 9-11 poll of likely voters, while Libertarian Chris Cole is pulling down 7 percent. Cole’s candidacy may yet put the race in play for Democrat Kay Hagan.

In North Carolina’s open gubernatorial race, Republican Pat McCrory trails Democrat Beverly Perdue by 3 points, with Libertarian Mike Munger currently polling at 5 percent.

In the highly watched Oregon U.S. Senate race, GOP incumbent Gordon Smith has built a surprising double-digit cushion over Democrat Jeff Merkley according to the latest SurveyUSA poll (August 2-4), despite Constitution Party candidate Dave Brownlow netting an impressive 8 percent of likely voters. Smith was once considered a prized Democratic target, although the moderate Republican Senator has distanced himself early (and often) from President George W. Bush on the War in Iraq, which will earn him points in the Beaver State. Still, Republicans should worry that a strong Brownlow candidacy could tilt the race if it begins to narrow.

Democrats will be particularly interested in the next U.S. Senate poll conducted in Minnesota that includes the name of the Independence Party winner of the September 9th primary. The Independence Party vote is expected to be a drag on the candidacy of DFL-er Al Franken.

Previous post: Obama Support Falls To Lowest Mark Against McCain in Rasmussen’s Minnesota Polling
Next post: Number of Undecided Voters Increasing in Minnesota Senate Race

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Remains of the Data

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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