Oklahoma governor’s race not a done deal

Oklahoma governor’s race not a done deal

By Hastings Wyman – Oklahoma is just about the Reddest state in the Union. The Sooner State hasn’t given its electoral votes to a Democrat since Lyndon Johnson was elected in 1964. And in 2016, Hillary Clinton lost every one of the state’s 77 counties to Donald Trump. But that’s not the whole story. Since Trump won the presidency in 2016, Democrats have won at least four special elections for legislative seats vacated by Republicans. Term-limited Republican Gov. Mary Fallin is leaving office with low approval ratings, due to budget cuts that hurt schools. Moreover, with just 15 days till Election Day, the GOP nominee Kevin Stitt, a very successful and wealthy businessman, has still not managed to top 50% in a single voter survey, and Democratic nominee Drew Edmondson, four times elected Oklahoma’s attorney general, remains in striking distance. Still, despite some pessimistic signs, the GOP has some strong factors in its favor. Stitt is a political outsider in a year when insiders haven’t fared well at the polls. “He is one Republican who could run against Mary Fallin and Edmondson,” says Keith Gaddie, a political scientist at the University of Oklahoma. Fallin endorsed Stitt, but his campaign down-played her endorsement. Moreover, “There’s no anti-Trump pull” hurting Republicans.” Indeed, Vice President Mike Pence headlined a rally in Tulsa last Thursday. He praised the Trump Administration as “a foreshadowing of what you’re going to see here in Oklahoma” under a Stitt governorship. The audience of some 3,500 “roared its approval of just about everything Trump,” reported the Tulsa World. Moreover, Republicans aren’t pessimistic. “In Oklahoma, you would always want...
Tennessee: Senate race shifts right

Tennessee: Senate race shifts right

By Hastings Wyman – Last month Democrats became optimistic that a US Senate seat in Tennessee most observers had seen as staying in the Republican column might cross the aisle and provide an unexpected pickup. In mid-September a CNN poll showed the Democratic nominee, moderate former Gov. Phil Bredesen, leading the hard-right Republican standard bearer, US Rep. Marsha Blackburn, by 50% to 45%. This was after Blackburn, 66, had hammered away at Bredesen, 74, contending that a vote for the Democrat was a vote for “Chuck” Schumer (D-NY), the Senate’s Minority Leader, and his leftwing policies. During their one debate, Blackburn mentioned Schumer’s name twelve times, reported The Tennessee Journal. But folks outside of the nation’s capital don’t give national politics the scrutiny that is the daily fare of political junkies. Most Tennessee voters are probably barely aware of Schumer’s name, much less what he stands for. All of that changed, however, in the first week of October during the contentious and unseemly battle over the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court. That was the week the “race got turned upside down,” says Deb Wooley, former executive with the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce. It was also the week that President Trump, who is popular in the state, came to Johnson City, Tennessee to boost Blackburn. He attended a high-end fundraiser for her, then spoke to a larger crowd outside open to the public. Then after weeks of ducking and weaving, Bredesen announced on Oct. 6, the day the US Senate confirmed Kavanaugh, that if he were in the Senate, he would he would have voted...
A black woman governor of Georgia? Maybe.

A black woman governor of Georgia? Maybe.

By Hastings Wyman – In an era when political norms are no longer sacrosanct, it is probably not too much of a shock that Florida, with its multicultural electorate, including lots of Yankees who have moved there, could be on the brink of electing an African American governor. But Georgia? In the Deep South? A state not known for racial tolerance? Well, yes, the Peach State has a toss-up contest for governor between Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican, who is white, and former state House Minority Leader Stacy Abrams, a Democrat and an African American. The most recent poll, taken late last month by Landmark, showed Kemp with 48% to Abrams’ 46%. Abrams’ internal poll gave her a 48-42% lead, still a close race. Several factors have made Abrams a strong contender, despite earlier assumptions she faced near-certain defeat. For starters, Democrats have been running stronger than in 2016 in virtually every election since Trump’s victory. In addition, Georgia has a sizable black electorate which is expected to respond positively to Abram’s candidacy. Moreover, the state’s population continues to grow more diverse, with Latinos, Asians and out-of-staters moving in in significant numbers. Abrams has moderated in her emphasis somewhat. For example, earlier she advocated a $15 minimum wage, but the issue does not appear on her campaign website. She also emphasizes her work in the legislature with Republicans. But her strategy is not based on appealing to moderate Republicans. “Abrams is not interested in bringing over Republican voters,” says former state GOP chairman “Chuck” Clay, “but in bringing in new voters… If she could turn out...
Is Florida flipping?

Is Florida flipping?

By Hastings Wyman – Florida is the largest swing state in the nation, and it usually anoints the winner by a narrow margin, be it George W. Bush, Barack Obama or Donald Trump. The state is a mainstay of the GOP’s strong base in the South, with its 29 electoral votes second only to Texas’ 38. Thus both parties have a major stake in statewide and congressional victories in the Sunshine State on Nov. 6. The Democrats, in short, want to turn Florida Blue. The GOP hopes to hold on to the all-important governor’s mansion and to gain a US Senate seat by defeating 18-year incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson. Moreover, several congressional districts currently in Republican hands may or may not look promising for Democrats, who hope to gain control of the US House of Representatives. But the best-laid plans of both parties can easily go astray. Polls show Democrat Andrew Gillum, the African-American mayor of Tallahassee, not only ahead of the GOP’s nominee, US Rep. Ron DeSantis, but increasing his lead with each voter survey. They also show that Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s challenge to Nelson is getting weaker in polls. Looking first at the governor’s race, the latest Real Clear Politics (RCP) average of recent polls shows Democrat Gillum ahead of Republican DeSantis (R) by 47% to 43%. The most recent survey, taken by Quinnipiac, shows Gillum with 54% to DeSantis’ 45%. Gillum has some high-profile support on the left. He’s been endorsed by Bernie Sanders and is receiving financial support from liberal California billionaire Tom Steyer. Later this month, he will be campaigning with Hillary Clinton....
What the September polls tell us

What the September polls tell us

By Hastings Wyman –   Some six weeks before the election on November 6 opinion polls are more predictive than earlier in the campaign season. In a nutshell, these surveys, reported on Realclearpolitics.com, show that in these contests, Democrats are poised to win two or maybe three new governorship’s (FL, GA & OK), at least one new US Senator (TN) and as many as five new members of Congress (FL 26, KY 6, NC 2, TX 7 & VA 7). The GOP, however, has a good chance of picking up a US Senate seat (FL), holding on to a hotly contested US Senate seat (TX) and a competitive congressional seat (TX 23). In some of these contests, Republican incumbents are ahead by a few points, but are under 50%, suggesting a serious challenge for the GOPers. Two takeaways of note: African-American candidates could get elected in numbers not seen since Reconstruction, including in bailiwicks with large white majorities. And a record number of Southern women are likely to be elected. Of course, polls can be wrong, campaigns could change minds, and new issues could take center stage. For now, however, here is a good snapshot of where the 2018 mid-term elections stand in September polling. In contests for governor, all four polls taken in September in Florida show Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) ahead of US Rep. Ron DeSantis. The most recent, taken by Rasmussen, shows Gillum with 48% to DeSantis’ 42%. DeSantis has been hurt by allegations that he has been associated with a white nationalist group. Should Gillum win, his election as an African-American campaigning as an...