The Legislative and Political Newsletter of the 
MN Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers Association

November 4, 2014
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Today's midterm elections will put to rest much of the campaign hyperbole and negative ads that have saturated the airwaves for more than a year.  Political pundits widely agree that the President and his low approval rating (42%) will negatively impact U.S. Senate and House races throughout the country.

In the U.S. Senate, pundits agree that Republicans stand to gain a net of 5-9 seats.  6 seats would give them the majority, with any extra gains helping to defend their potential majority in 2016, which stands to be a very difficult environment (Republicans defending as many as 10 competitive seats versus 2 competitive Democratic seats).  In the U.S. House, pundits agree that Republicans will gain a net of 6-14 seats, adding to their majority.  The Republican Party has targeted a net gain of 11 seats (the "Drive to 245"), which would give them their largest majority in Congress since 1949.

Below is a summary of highly competitive Senate races, as well as a listing of competitive House races.  Competitive House races where insurance agents are running include brief summaries.

7:00pm EST - Polls close in GA, IN, KY, SC, VA & VT

GA Senate - Michelle Nunn (D) v. David Perdue (R):  Perdue has the late momentum with combined polling giving him a 46-44% advantage, but a Libertarian candidate will likely take enough votes to force this into a January 6th runoff with no candidate eclipsing the 50% mark.  If either Perdue or Nunn are above the 50% mark early in the evening it could signal that there is something larger going on for either party on a national level - that either Republican turnout is exceeding expectations or that Democratic candidates are successfully bucking a deeply unpopular President.

KY Senate - Alison Grimes (D) v. Mitch McConnell (R-Incumbent):  In what has been one of the most hyped matchups for the past year, McConnell appears to be pulling away and stands to become Senate Majority Leader if his party can capture control of the upper chamber.

Highly Competitive House Races:
GA 12th District - John Barrow (D-Incumbent) v. Rick Allen (R)

7:30pm EST - Polls close in NC, OH & WV

NC Senate - Kay Hagan (D-Incumbent) v. Thom Tillis (R):  The Incumbent Kay Hagan holds a small advantage in combined polling 44-43%, but remains very vulnerable with close to 10% of the electorate still undecided.  The Libertarian candidate in this race consistently polls around 5%, which could be Hagan's saving grace at the end of the day.  Registered Democrats in the state have out-voted registered Republicans by close to 16% through Sunday so look for Republicans to close that gap with their ground game on Election Day.  If Republicans score an upset here, their net gain in the Senate will be closer to the 9 seat mark.

WV Senate - Shelley Moore Capito (R) v. Natalie Tennant (D):  In this open Democrat seat, Capito will cruise to a victory giving Republicans their first pick-up of the night.

Highly Competitive House Races:
WV 2nd District - Nick Casey (D) v. Alex Mooney (R)
WV 3rd District - Evan Jenkins (R) v. Nick Rahall (D-Incumbent)

8:00pm EST - Polls close in AL, CT, DE, DC, FL, IL, MA, MD, ME, MO, MS, NH, NJ, OK, PA, RI & TN

NH Senate - Scott Brown (R) v. Jeanne Shaheen (D-Incumbent):  Brown, the former Massachusetts Senator who took the late Edward Kennedy's seat, has the momentum on his side.  He has closed the gap from about 10 points down two months ago to being within 1 point in recent combined polling 49-48%.  There remain very few undecided voters in this contest so whoever can appeal to those independents and turn out their base will come out on top.  Showing its independent streak, New Hampshire has sent more incumbents packing since 2006 than it has reelected.

IL 12th District - Bill Enyart (D-Incumbent) v. Mike Bost (R):  Bost is a licensed independent insurance agent and current State House member.  This seat is a true toss up with a highly competitive gubernatorial race that should help boost Republican turnout for Bost in this rural district at the southernmost part of the state.

MA 6th District - Seth Moulton (D) v. Richard Tisei (R):  Tisei, a licensed insurance agent, had been slightly favored to knock off incumbent Democrat Congressman John Tierney.  But with Tierney losing his primary, this race is now anybody's to win.  Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker needs to put up big numbers in this district to win statewide, which could help Tisei with turnout.

Highly Competitive House Races:
FL 2nd District - Gwen Graham (D) v. Steve Southerland (R-Incumbent)
FL 26th District - Carlos Curbelo (R) v. Joe Garcia (D-Incumbent)
IL 10th District - Bob Dold (R) v. Brad Schneider (D-Incumbent)
ME 2nd District - Emily Cain (D) v. Bruce Poliquin (R)
NH 1st District - Frank Guinta (R) v. Carol Shea-Porter (D-Incumbent)

8:30pm EST - Polls close in AR

AR Senate - Tom Cotton (R) v. Mark Pryor (D-Incumbent):  Perhaps no senator has tried to distance himself more from Democratic Party leaders than Mark Pryor.  At the end of the day, however, it appears the President and his low approval (29%) in Arkansas will doom Pryor's reelection and help Cotton secure a victory in this seat.

Highly Competitive House Races:
AR 2nd District - Patrick Henry Hays (D) v. French Hill (R)

9:00pm EST - Polls close in AZ, CO, KS, LA, MI, MN, NE, NM, NY, SD, TX, WI & WY

CO Senate - Cory Gardner (R) v. Mark Udall (D-Incumbent): Gardner has run perhaps the strongest campaign of any Republican challenger this cycle.  Polling average puts his lead over the incumbent at 46-44%.  Republicans have the early edge on mail-in ballots, but Democrats have been closing the gap a bit.  This is the first year that the state has used a 100% mail-in ballot option so that is a bit of unknown.  Will lower propensity voters, which tend to be more Democratic in Colorado, return those ballots and close the Republican advantage?

KS Senate - Greg Orman (I) v. Pat Roberts (R-Incumbent):  Having survived a tough Republican primary challenge, many felt that Roberts would cruise to reelection in a three way race.  However, the Democratic challenger withdrew from the race and threw his support behind Independent Greg Orman.  Polls show Orman with a slight lead over Roberts, who is mired in the low-40s, a very dangerous place to be as an incumbent.  Republicans are trying to make this race a referendum on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid since it is widely speculated that Orman would caucus with the Democratic Party if elected.

LA Senate - Bill Cassidy (R) v. Mary Landrieu (D-Incumbent):  With a third party candidate in this race, look for Landrieu to secure the largest percentage of the vote on election night, but fall short of the 50% needed to avoid a December 6th runoff.  Cassidy would enter the runoff with an advantage, given the Republican bent of the state in a low turnout runoff.

SD Senate - Larry Pressler (I) v. Mike Rounds (R) v. Rick Weiland (D):  After a slow start to the campaign, Mike Rounds stands poised to pick up this open Democrat seat, adding to the Republican net gain and becoming the first independent insurance agent in the U.S. Senate in nearly two decades.

AZ 1st District - Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Incumbent) v. Andy Tobin (R):  Tobin has been a licensed insurance agent for more than 20 years.  This is a true swing seat in which he has a great shot at knocking off the incumbent.

Highly Competitive House Races:
AZ 2nd District - Ron Barber (D-Incumbent) v. Martha McSally (R)
MN 8th District - Stewart Mills (R) v. Rick Nolan (D-Incumbent)
NE 2nd District - Brad Ashford (D) v. Lee Terry (R-Incumbent)
NY 1st District - Tim Bishop (D-Incumbent) v. Lee Zeldin (R)
NY 11th District - Michael Grimm (R-Incumbent) v. Domenic Recchia (D)
NY 18th District - Nan Hayworth (R) v. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-Incumbent)
NY 24th District - John Katko (R) v. Dan Maffei (D-Incumbent)

10:00pm EST - Polls close in IA, MT, NV, & UT

IA Senate - Bruce Braley (D) v. Joni Ernst (R):  Ernst has run perhaps the best campaign of any open seat candidate this cycle.  That combined with a poorly run campaign by Braley, gives her the advantage in this Democrat open seat.  Early voting has been surprisingly good for Republicans here.  While Democrats have closed that edge, the turnout on Election Day has historically favored Republicans.

MT Senate - Steve Daines (R) v. Amanda Curtis (D):  Daines will secure this open Democrat seat handily, adding to the Republican net gain.

Highly Competitive House Races:
IA 1st District - Rod Blum (R) v. Pat Murphy (D)
IA 3rd District - Staci Appel (D) v. David Young (R)

11:00pm EST - Polls close in CA, HI, ID, ND, OR & WA

Highly Competitive House Races:
CA 7th District - Ami Bera (D-Incumbent) v. Doug Ose (R)
CA 26th District - Julia Brownley (D-Incumbent) v. Jeff Gorrell (R)
CA 52nd District - Carl DeMaio (R) v. Scott Peters (D-Incumbent)

12:00pm EST - Polls close in AK

AK Senate - Mark Begich (D-Incumbent) v. Dan Sullivan (R):  In a state that is notoriously difficult to predict, Sullivan has led in 10 of the 11 most recent polls, but Democrats point to a better ground game and get out the vote operation.  Look for the outcome of this truly competitive race to be undetermined well into the morning or even for several days, as ballot returns tend to come in slowly.


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