In a first, we’re not updating any of our Presidential, Senate, or Gubernatorial ratings for this week. While there will certainly be changes to come, the last week hasn’t brought definite evidence needed to shift our ratings in these races. However, that doesn’t mean we aren’t paying attention to races, and this article will update you on those races.
The presidential contest has seemingly widened in the last week. What was once a low to mid single-digit race has now become high-single or even a double-digit one. With that comes an environment that seems worse for Republicans overall, but not one that requires a landslide. We’re fairly confident in most of our ratings, but some states are shifting.
In Maine, the 2nd congressional district was one of the best examples of an Obama-Trump seat. In 2012, Obama won this seat by 9 percentage points. However, in 2016 Trump won it by 10 percentage points. Many had assumed this seat was mostly out of reach for Democrats, and most recent polls show Biden with a small but fairly stable lead in the 2nd. However, with polling so tight and the state itself very elastic, we’re not confident enough to shift this electoral vote from the Tossup column yet. The state itself remains in the Safe Democratic column.
Georgia has also had some polling, much of it indicating a small lead for Biden. In fact, Biden has overtaken Trump in the state on the 538 average. We’ve had Georgia as a Tossup state for some time now, and we don’t anticipate moving it soon. However, Democrats have to feel optimistic about their odds down the home stretch. As we’ve written about before, Georgia is a state that could potentially flip sooner rather than later.
We are not making any changes to our current Senate ratings. However, we do want to keep an eye on North Carolina and Montana.
In North Carolina, Democrat Cal Cunningham has long held a lead over Republican Tom Tillis. But that may be changing. Cunningham, who is married, admitted to sexual texting with a campaign strategist that isn’t his wife. The scandal made front page news in the Charlotte Observer and the News & Observer. However, given the pace of the current news cycle, we’re going to wait on polling to make any concrete shift. The race remains at Leans Democratic for now.
In Montana, news broke that incumbent Republican Steve Daines may be ethically challenged. Specifically, he is accused of receiving kickbacks for voting to extend a visa program. Again, we feel comfortable with our Leans Republican rating for now in the absence of polling. However, both these races are worth keeping an eye on.
Our Gubernatorial races have remained stable this cycle, and this week is no exception. However, we’re keeping an eye on three races here.
In Missouri, polls have tightened somewhat, correlating with a fairly close Presidential race. We’re confident with a Likely Republican rating for now, however. Incumbent Governor Michael Parson has led every poll, most by nearly double-digits. On the Democratic side, Nicole Galloway is holding her own hasn’t shown the crossover appeal needed to win a state that will likely back President Trump. Missouri is simply a hard state for Democrats to compete in nowadays, especially in a presidential year.
In North Carolina, we’re holding our Likely Democratic rating. Roy Cooper has led all but a handful of polls in this race. Republican Dan Forest isn’t running on par with the President, who has a good shot at winning the state. However, some polling indicates a tightening race. Particularly concerning for Democrats are recent polls from The New York Times, which gave Cooper a five-point edge (47-42), and Civitas, which gave him a seven-point edge (46-39). Both polls show Cooper below 50 – a rarity in this race.
Finally, we’re confident with Indiana at Safe Republican. Incumbent Governor Eric Holcomb remains the decisive favorite to win here. As of July, he had an astonishing $8 million cash on hand compared to $72,300 for Democrat Woody Myers. What little polling there is indicates a landslide for Holcomb, with Myers stuck in the 20s.
Some have suggested this as a sleeper race due to a Change Research poll from early September that had Libertarian Donald Rainwater at 24%. Rainwater has received some support from fringe conservatives. State Rep. Jim Lucas, who has been ostracized following his publication of racist Facebook posts, has endorsed Rainwater. However, this poll, to put it bluntly, is a massive outlier; no other major outlet, save for Politico, has this race as anything less than Safe. An Election Twitter crowdfunding effort to poll the state seems to have been successful. However, Indiana is notoriously difficult to poll due to its prohibition on automatic polling.