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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Dark Horses

In keeping up with polls, I've noticed a few races that deserve a little more love from the pundits.

-North Carolina Senate (Incumbent Sen. Burr vs challenger State Assemblywoman Ross)
While polling has shown a single digit advantage for Burr since January, Elon's poll released on Thursday shows Ross up by one point. Burr is riding the coattails of McCrory, who is not popular. Burr got an easy election year in 2010 when the Democratic party was more interested in mitigating their losses than picking up Rep seats, but 2016 is almost definitely going to be a better year for Democrats than 2010 was, and North Carolina's demographics are quickly shifting toward big cities and non-white voters - two advantages for Democrats. Incumbency and fundraising may yet save Burr, but I don't imagine he's sleeping well at night.

-New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District (Incumbent Frank Guinta vs challenger Carol Shea-Porter)
Round 4 of Guinta v. Shea-Porter (Fun fact, these two went head-to-head in 2010, 2012, and 2014, and each time the challenger won) is looking dim for Guinta. While Guinta's prospects have undoubtedly improved from the bleak 19-point-deficit he faced in late August (the peak of Clinton's polling against Trump), the swing alone probably isn't big enough for him to hold on to his seat. Nevertheless, New Hampshire is both 33% rural (well ahead of the national average) and 93% white (FAR ahead of the national average), the district is also very anti-incumbent (ousting incumbents is routine for NH-1) and has no clear advantage for either party in voter registration.

-Maine and Nebraska Presidential Election (Trump vs Clinton)
Maine and Nebraska are the only two states to award two of their electoral college votes to the winner of the popular vote and the rest by congressional district. Both Maine and Nebraska have a Congressional district that have strong possibility of breaking from the state's popular vote.
-Maine 2nd is nearly 3/4 rural, and all of the most recent polling shows Trump ahead - in the two latest polls, Trump leads by double digits. While the 1st congressional district is quite solidly in Clinton's camp, a wide enough margin in the 2nd could put Maine's two statewide votes in play.
-Nebraska 2nd, unlike the rest of the state, is concentrated in urban Omaha. While Pres. Obama won the 2nd in 2008, 2010 redistricting moved Bellevue, a more liberal South Omaha suburb, into the highly conservative 1st Congressional district in exchange for highly conservative North Omaha suburbs. Despite the redistricting, NE-2 is represented by a Democrat first elected in 2014, a strongly Republican year. Fivethirtyeight gives the edge to Trump, but also notes that neither candidate is likely to obtain 50% of the vote at this point.

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