Shifting Voter Preferences Could Spell Trouble for Armed Services Incumbents

Shifting Voter Preferences Could Spell Trouble for Armed Services Incumbents

An analysis of polling data and past voting trends suggests tight races could spell trouble for several incumbents on two defense committees.

When the new Congress is seated in early January, the House and Senate Armed Services committees’ rank-and-file members largely will remain the same. Still, a handful of members are in tight races, meaning some new faces could show up on the panels.

Real Clear Politics, an independent organization that averages multiple public opinion polls for House and Senate races, lists three races involving an incumbent members of the House and Senate Armed Services committees as toss ups.

One pits HASC member Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz., against GOP challenger, Martha McSally, a long time A-10 pilot and squadron commander during her Air Force tenure.

Another fits SASC member Kay Hagan, D-N.C., in a close fight with former GOP state House Speaker Thom Tillis. And in the third, current SASC member Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., is in a toss up against GOP challenger Scott Brown, who was a member of the panel when a senator from Massachusetts.

In 2012, Barber’s Arizona district went to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and the Democratic incumbent has failed to distance himself from McSally in the polls. That suggests trouble for Barber in a possible Republican wave election.

The same is true for Hagan and Shaheen.

Romney captured North Carolina in 2012, and Tillis is running neck-and-neck with Hagan in the Tar Heel State, where voters have installed a GOP governor and legislature.

Obama took New Hampshire in the last presidential election, but the Republican Brown is running only 1.8 percent —well within the margin of error — behind Shaheen, according to a RCP average of several polls. That suggests a rightward turn in the Granite State.

Several other HASC incumbents are in tight races: Reps. John Garamendi, D-Calif., Mike Coffman, R-Colo., Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., Joe Heck, R-Nev., and Chris Gibson, R-N.Y.

Each one is leading in the polls, with RCP and other analysts saying they are likely to be reelected.

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