• IN-Sen: Chris "Count" Chocola, head of the Club for Growth and himself a Hoosier, says his organization may step in to help oust apostate Sen. Dick Lugar. The CFG has already talked to Treasurer Richard Mourdock, and if they get involved, they could make up for his lackluster fundraising so far.
• MA-Sen: Remember when ThinkProgress busted Scott Brown for sucking up to David Koch for donations while he was publicly saying he wasn't even thinking about 2012? His pitch worked, I guess: Koch Industries coughed up a $2,500 donation to Brown's campaign last quarter.
In other MA-Sen news, why does Barney Frank keep doing this? On Monday, he repeated his remarks that he thinks Newton Mayor Setti Warren shouldn't run for Senate, this time to local blog Newton TAB. I honestly think this is a bit embarrassing for Frank, and makes him look like a jackass. It's an admission that his private suggestions to Warren haven't been well-received, and that he's had to take to the press to accomplish what he apparently doesn't have the power to do on his own. It's ugly, and what's more, I don't even see the percentage in it. Why does Frank care so much whether Warren runs? Really, just enough.
• MN-Sen: Former state Sen. and unsuccessful 2010 SoS candidate Dan Severson says he might seek the Republican nod to challenge Amy Klobuchar, who so far has drawn no opponents. Severson says he'll decide by May. Also, attorney Chris Barden, another unsuccessful statewide candidate last year (he ran for AG), says he may attempt a Senate race, too.
• MO-Sen: It's getting' mighty crowded in here... well, maybe. Wealthy businessman John Brunner (who can at least partially self-fund) says he might join the GOP field to take on Sen. Claire McCaskill. Reps. Todd Akin and Blaine Leutekemeyer are also still weighing bids, while former Treasurer Sarah Steelman and teabagger fave Ed Martin are already in the race.
• TX-Sen: This is just weird. Ashwin Madia (who you may remember as the Dem candidate in MN-03 back in 2008) is also chair of the progressive veterans group VoteVets. His organization put out a statement the other day in which he said it was "encouraging" to see Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez considering the Texas Senate race as a Dem. It's strange, as Adam Serwer points out, because Sanchez had a very suspect record on torture during his tenure as US commander in Iraq, while VoteVets has been very critical of torture. Another spokesman for the group hurried to say that VoteVets was not issuing a formal statement of endorsement, just an attaboy for a fellow servicemember.
• VA-Sen: Teabagger Jamie Radtke raised just $55K in Q1 and has only $47K on hand. I'm betting that if George Allen does wind up dealing with a serious speed bump on his way to the GOP nomination, it's going to take the form of Del. Bob Marshall, not Radtke. Still a big if.
• VT-Sen, VT-AL: Sen. Bernie Sanders raised $770K in Q1 (not bad for the 49th-largest state in the nation) and has over a million in the bank. The Burlington Free Press pegs an uptick in donations to Sanders after his now-famous eight-hour speech on the Senate floor in which he blasted tax cuts for the wealthy. Meanwhile, Rep. Peter Welch now has a million on hand.
• NJ-Gov, NJ-Sen: Chris Christie's starting to smell like a plate of scungilli left out in the sun after a July picnic. His job approval has dropped to 47-46, according to Quinnipiac, from 52-40 just a couple of months ago. Sen. Bob Menendez isn't doing so hot either, 42-40, but those sorts of numbers are nothing new for him (and are actually better than what he was getting last year). In news of more immediate importance, Dems improved to 47-39 on the generic legislative ballot, up from 43-41. (Thanks to andgarden for spotting that question, tucked away at the very end of the poll.) Also fun: Q asked respondents for an unprompted, open-ended one-word description of Christie. The number one response, by far? "Bully," with 140 mentions.
• AL-05: This is just odd. Freshman Republican Mo Brooks cancelled a town hall and replaced it with one-on-one meetings with constituents-by appointment only. What makes this extra-weird is that these meetings are scheduled to take place across the state line in... Tennessee. Reminds me of this infamous incident from the classic MS-01 special back in 2008.
• IA-04: Some great number-crunching from G-squared: The new 4th CD went for Terry Branstad 59-37 in 2010, 50-48 for GOP gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle in 2006, and 49-48 for Tom Vilsack in 2002. I'll go one further and tell you that Vilsack lost the new 4th in 1998, 47-52. Greg also says that Rep. Steve King currently represents 47% of new CD.
• IL-03: Politico has a profile of John Atkinson, the Democratic businessman who may challenge Rep. Dan Lipinski from the left. Atkinson, who has already raised a boatload, hasn't formally declared yet (and may be waiting on redistricting), but a main theme for him is Lipinski's vote against healthcare reform.
• NY-13: Ex-Rep. Mike McMahon, recently speaking to the Bay Ridge Democratic Club, definitely sounds like he's leaning toward a comeback. The linked piece from the Brooklyn Eagle contains McMahon's ruminations on why he lost last year, but I'm not sure I understand what he thinks the reasons are. On the one hand, he says "[t]here was a drop-off in progressive voters." On the other hand, he cited a memo from Third Way (ugh, but what do you expect) which polled Obama "switchers" and "dropouts." The memo claims that "[s]witchers were eager to vote in this election, whereas droppers didn't come out for a multitude of reasons, none of them being they were upset with Democrats."
What this misses out on, of course, is that Democratic organizations who were pissed with McMahon's vote against healthcare reform were less inclined to bust their asses for him and drag apathetic voters to the polls on his behalf-something members and officials of the Bay Ridge club made plain to him. (The article says some attendees used "harsher language," so since this is Brooklyn we're talking about, enjoy a moment or two imagining what this sounded like.) I'm not sure what McMahon thinks the solution is for next year, if he runs again, but it doesn't sound like he's ready to take back his anti-HCR vote. I think he'd be wise to do so.
• RI-01: Former Republican state Rep. John Loughlin, who lost by six points to now-Rep. David Cicilline last year, says he's considering a rematch, but first he's serving another tour of duty in Iraq. I wonder if Cicilline's self-inflicted wounds regarding the financial woes of Providence (the city of which he used to be mayor) will make him vulnerable-if not next year (which of course is a presidential year), then at some point in the near future... or in a primary.
• WI Recall: Republicans say they will file recall petitions against three Democrats today: Dave Hansen, Jim Holperin, and Robert Wirch. Meanwhile, Greg Sargent says that Dems will file petitions against a fifth Republican, Alberta Darling, also today.
• WI Sup. Ct.: Yesterday, JoAnne Kloppenburg asked for a recount, which will come at state expense since the final margin of 7,316 votes was less than 0.5%. I'm pretty surprised at the decision, since overturning that kind of result seems almost inconceivable.
• Alaska (PDF): Dave Dittman, a pollster and former aide to the late Sen. Ted Stevens, tested Alaskans' feelings about local pols last month. Sen. Mark Begich, up for re-election in 2014, has a 57-33 job approval rating, while Sen. Lisa Murkowski is at 71-27 and Rep. Don Young is at 63-32. Joe Miller, who says he might run against Young next year or against Begich next cycle, has a hilariously awful favorability rating of 18-73. (FWIW, Sarah Palin is at 36-61.) Note that the poll had oddly long field dates: March 3 through March 17.
• Demographics: Aaron Blake has another good piece looking at the changing demographics of majority-black districts.
• House Majority PAC: The new Dem "super PAC" is out with its first-ever media buy (which they claim is "substantial"-you better be telling the truth), hitting ten GOP freshmen who voted for Paul Ryan's budget plan with radio ad. You can listen to a sample spot against Sean Duffy here. Click the first link for the other nine names.
• DCCC: Speaking of ad buys, props to Dave Catanese for busting what turned out to be a comically bullshit media "blitz" by the DCCC. I groused about this one yesterday, complaining that the size of the buy was sure to be "quite small," but I had no idea that it would be this comically small: The total purchase was just $6,000 across twenty-five districts, with just $40 (yes, $40!) spent against Larry Buchson in IN-08. Of course, it was the NRCC which provided this info to Catanese, which I'm not sure is such a smart move, since they play this stupid game, too. But my bigger concern is whether local reporters who wrote about these ads will be insulted by the joke dollar values and ignore the D-Trip in the future. I sure as hell would.
• Colorado: After instantly descending into a whole bunch of acrimony (mostly, it seemed to me, from the GOP side) after the first batch of maps were produced, both parties agreed to go back to the drawing board and start with a clean slate. Republicans sound a lot more excited about the prospect than Dems, but we'll see if this actually produces any kind of agreement... or if a stalemate eventually leads to court-drawn maps.
• Pennsylvania: No surprise here: The Republican majority on the PA Supreme Court picked a Republican superior court judge to serve as a tiebreaker on the panel which will re-draw Pennsylvania's state legislative maps. This is a direct consequence of a shameful loss of an open Dem-held seat on the court in 2009.
• Texas: A new plan for the Texas state House passed a House committee yesterday. The map increases the number of Latino districts from 28 to 30, but Democrats seem convinced that there are serious VRA issues with it.
The time has come for many in the Republican Party to begin seriously considering the 2012 presidential election. By this time last year, President Barack Obama had just announced his candidacy. Soon the shadow campaign will begin in earnest, and then the real campaign several months after that, just before the Iowa primary.
Here are three of the strongest Republicans who could challenge Mr. Obama:
• FL-Sen: Meg Whitman seems like a strange place to start talking about the Florida Senate race, but hear me out. She's in the news today for the outrageously large sums of money she paid to her top campaign staff (although, to be fair, in her particular frame of reference, I'm sure those seemed like outrageously small sums of money), including $948K paid to her campaign manager, Jill Hasner. If that name sounds vaguely familiar, she's the wife of former Florida state House majority leader Adam Hasner, currently making trips to DC to lay groundwork for a run in the GOP primary. If that $948K gets plowed straight into Hasner's bid, that's a pretty significant nut to start out with. Money is also the reason you keep hearing Rep. Vern Buchanan's name associated with this race, even if he hasn't said anything publicly indicating his interest for 2012; he has $956K in his House account, second most of all the Florida House delegation, which would give him a head start if he transferred that over to a Senate bid.
• MA-Sen: Not content to rest on his already-tops-in-the-2012-class $7 million cash stash, Scott Brown has set a fundraising target of $25 million for his Senate race. Whether he actually can hit that is an open question, but the fact that he can even credibly lay down a marker like this is a reminder that this race is no gimmee for the Dems. Also, here's a neat story that's more about the meta of reporting on campaigns in their formative stages, and how, in the absence of useful information, we're all pretty much just talking in circles about rumors that quickly become unclear where they started. It's a piece from a central Massachusetts blog that investigates where the heck the idea of Fitchburg mayor Lisa Wong running for Senate came from and how that bubbled up to the national level, despite her having done nothing to indicate any interest in the race... and today, closing the circle of meta, Politico, the main purveyor of such campaign-rumor grist, reported on the story. I don't know whether to be ashamed or pleased that Swing State Project is cited as one of the key players in this particular game of telephone; either way, clearly we've hit the big time.
• MI-Sen: Buried in a Roll Call article that does a lot of pointless Debbie Stabenow/Russ Feingold comparing are two names from potential GOP candidates I'd never heard of, although, without knowing more about their self-financing abilities, they seem to be at the Some Dude end of the spectrum. They cite businessman Al Pease, and former juvenile court judge Randy Hekman (who seems to be working a social con angle).
• NE-Sen: Ben Nelson's most recent statement on the Senate race was only that he was "leaning toward" another run, which isn't very confidence-inspiring considering that he'd previously said that he was running. But here's a more clear tell that he is running; he just re-hired his 2006 CM, Paul Johnson, as campaign manager.
• NJ-Sen, NJ-Gov: Quinnipiac is out with some New Jersey numbers, although it's approvals only... and, in what seems like an unusual departure from tradition, they actually find New Jerseyites, dare I say, liking their politicians?!? Is the giant nationwide wave of bile actually starting to ebb as the economy improves? At any rate, Bob Menendez (44/36), Frank Lautenberg (45/40), and Chris Christie (52/40) all sport positive approvals.
• SC-Sen: PPP fleshes out the 2014 Lindsey Graham situation with some more detailed numbers among Republicans, which they already hinted at with how his approvals broke down in their general electorate sample. His approvals among that group are 42/40, but he also has re-elects of only 37/52. He beats ex-Gov. Mark Sanford easily in a hypothetical primary (52-34), but against a non-Appalachian-Trail-hiking opponent, Rep. Joe Wilson, he trails 43-41.
• NC-Gov: It hadn't occurred to me that Republican former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory might not seek a rematch against Bev Perdue in next year's gubernatorial race; when asked about whether he'd run at an appearance Friday, his answer was just "I hope to."
• CA-36: Los Angeles city councilor Janice Hahn rolled out more endorsements today, most notably former NBA player Magic Johnson, whom I understand may have some goodwill of some sort in the LA area. She also boasts the endorsement of Assemblyman Warren Furutani (a rumored candidate for a day or two) and ex-Asm. George Nakano, as well as a slew of other city councilors in LA and its southern suburbs. The big question is whether Hahn will get the endorsement of Jane Harman herself; recall that Hahn was Harman's guest at the State of the Union last month, for what that's worth. There's also one other GOPer to add to the list: Redondo Beach city attorney Mike Webb.
• IN-06: With Mike Pence likely to run for Governor and leaving behind an open red district, look for this crowd to grow. Republican Henry County Councilor Nate LaMar is now actively telling local party chairs that he intends to run.
• NY-26: I'd file this more under general "schadenfreude" than a definite Congressional career-killer, but this little indiscretion can't make things any better for sophomore GOP Rep. (and possible redistricting truncation victim) Chris Lee.
• Chicago mayor: The big story here may not be that Rahm Emanuel keeps gaining in the polls -- he's at 54% in the new poll from Richard Day Research, taken for ABC-7, which is enough to avoid a runoff -- but that Carol Mosely Braun is in complete free-fall. In the wake of calling a minor opponent in the race a crackhead and various other lesser gaffes, she's down to 6%! While there aren't trendlines from this pollster, based on where other polls have been, Emanuel seems to be the main beneficiary of this flight, as Gery Chico and Miguel del Valle are still hanging far back, at 14 and 8 respectively.
• Votes: Here's an interesting bit of left/right convergence against the middle, on one of those rare common-ground issues: the Patriot Act. The House failed to renew the Patriot Act by a 277-147 margin, with 26 GOP nays joining 122 Dems. (For some reason, the leadership was doing this under suspension of rules, which means they needed 2/3rds to pass it. It looks like they'll simply do it again and pass it under normal rules.) Knee-jerk pundits have been presenting this as a triumph of the tea partiers newly elected to Congress, but a more detailed look between the lines finds less than half of the Tea Party Caucus voting against it, and only eight of the GOP freshmen voting against it. Interestingly, two GOP House members more on the establishment end of things who are likely to be running for Senate in 2012, Connie Mack IV and Dean Heller, voted against it, showing the amazing progress in the Patriot Act's transition from legislative slam-dunk ten years ago to a potential electoral liability now.
• VRA: The Dept. of Justice seems to have kicked things into high gear with redistricting and off-year elections approaching. They just granted VRA preclearance to California to proceed with its nonpartisan citizen redistricting panels (not a controversial proposal, certainly, but still requiring preclearance because of four California counties), and to Louisiana to restore its jungle-style primary at the federal level in addition to the state level.
• Voter suppression: Welcome Tennessee to the growing club of states with Republican-controlled legislatures who are getting on the bandwagon of requiring voter IDs. The proposal cleared a state Senate committee yesterday.
Bob Menendez (D-inc): 44
Tom Kean Jr. (R): 34
Bob Menendez (D-inc): 40
Michael Doherty (R): 30
Bob Menendez (D-inc): 47
Kim Guadagno (R): 26
Bob Menendez (D-inc): 41
Joe Kyrillos (R): 29
Bob Menendez (D-inc): 44
John Crowley (R): 30
Bob Menendez (D-inc): 42
Jennifer Beck (R): 29
Local pollster Fairleigh Dickinson's first look at the 2012 Senate race finds Bob Menendez leading his little-known Republican potential rivals by double digits, ranging from margins of 10 (against his 2006 opponent, Tom Kean Jr., and also against state Sen. Michael Doherty, who's apparently a particular fave to the tea party types) to 19 (against current Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who may be at a low point right now since most people's current impression of her involves her being out-of-state during the nor'easter cleanup). FDU doesn't offer an approval rating for Menendez for some reason, but he's polling not out of the danger zone, in the mid-40s and, as they point out, his fortunes are probably deeply tied to those of Barack Obama (who's at 47/41) and those of the broader economy.
Bob Menendez (D-inc): 41
Tom Kean Jr. (R): 39
Bob Menendez (D-inc): 47
Lou Dobbs (R): 35
Bob Menendez (D-inc): 45
Kim Guadgano (R): 30
FDU's numbers contrast a bit with those from PPP, who find a much closer race between Menendez and Kean (although they find a similar blowout against Guadagno as with FDU). I'd commented a few weeks ago that Menendez's approval numbers (which are 37/38 in this poll) reminded me a bit of Richard Burr's at this point two years ago -- a surprisingly large number of people don't know him, and those who do know him feel prety "meh" about him -- and I think that's still the case here. In fact, I'll predict the whole cycle here may parallel NC-Sen '10, with polls continuing to show definite incumbent weakness but the state's lean (plus a likely underfunded opponent) probably giving the incumbent a decent win in the end.
As a throw-in, PPP also looks at the 2013 gubernatorial race (it's only two and three-quarters years away!). While if you read only the rightosphere, you'd think that Chris Christie was ready to not only graduate from being governor right now but even to skip that whole Presidency business and move straight on to running for Galactic Emperor, here in the real world, things are a little less clear-cut. The blustery and mass-transit-destroying Christie only manages a tie with Cory Booker, the attention-grabbing Democratic mayor of Newark. Christie's still above water with 48/45 approvals, but it's a Dem-leaning state and Booker has nothing but upside at this point with 46/16 favorables.
AR-Sen: While offering a commencement address at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Michelle Obama gave a shout-out to all the Democratic bigwigs sharing the dais with her: Gov. Mike Beebe, his wife Ginger, Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Sen. Mark Pryor and even state AG Bobby Dustin McDaniel. Everyone, that is, except for Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who was also on stage. Stay classy, Michelle.
KS-Sen: The not-particularly pleasant GOP race to succeed Sam Brownback has gotten even uglier, with Rep. Todd Tiahrt accusing frontrunner Rep. Jerry Moran of pulling "a John Kerry" flip-flop on tax cuts. Moran, leading in the polls, has largely been sticking to a Rose Garden strategy and refusing to respond to Tiahrt's provocations.
NV-Sen: Sue Lowden's mom must have taught her as a child that if you pick at a scab repeatedly, it will heal faster. That can be the only explanation for Lowden's newest TV ad, in which she brings up the damn chicken business yet again!
PA-Sen: Joe Sestak now has a four-point lead over Arlen Specter in Muhlenberg's tracking poll, 46-42. A day earlier, Sestak took his first-ever lead in public polling in the tracker. Also, here's a good observation: Specter voted against Elana Kagan when she was nominated to be Solicitor General. Now that it looks like she's going to be tapped for the Supreme Court, he'll have to very publicly flip-flop on this one barely a week before the primary.
UT-Sen: As you probably saw by now, longtime Utah Sen. Bob Bennett was denied renomination at the GOP convention this past Saturday. Instead, businessman Tim Bridgewater and attorney Mike Lee will duke it out in a June 22nd primary. Lee seems to be the teabagger fave, as he immediately garnered Jim DeMint's endorsement once he made it past the third and final round of voting.
Meanwhile, Bennett is still holding out the possibility of waging a write-in campaign - which is not out of the question given that Utahns in general like him a lot more than Republican convention delegates. My understanding, though, is that he could only run as a write-in in the general election, not the primary.
Anyhow, while Bennett's never self-funded before (so far as I know), he is actually extremely wealthy, with assets potentially in excess of $30 million. If turnout is about 600K voters and a Dem can get a third of that, then Bennett only needs 200K to win a squeaker. On the flipside, John Cornyn is pledging to support the GOP nominee, and in modern times, I think only Strom Thurmond has gotten elected to the Senate via write-in. But nevermind all that - do it, Bob... for America!
FL-Gov: Surely by now you've heard about anti-gay activist George Rekers' European escapades with a young man he hired from a site called Rentboy. If not, read this now. The story just got a lot better, though, with word that Florida AG Bill McCollum once paid Rekers at least $60,000 to serve as an expert witness for the state's attempt to ban gay adoptions. Rekers' testimony was rejected by the judge as not credible, and the ban was found unconstitutional. All in a day's work!
KY-Gov: Kentucky's gubernatorial seat isn't up until 2011, but a trio of media outlets commissioned a poll from Research 2000 nonetheless. It finds Gov. Steve Beshear leading House Speaker Greg Stumbo in a hypothetical primary, 55-28. In the general election, it shows Beshear up 44-37 over GOP Ag. Comm'r Richie Farmer. Beshear's job approval is 46-43 and he has $1.9 million in the bank.
NY-Gov: Ordinarily, you need 25% of the weighted delegate vote at a state convention to qualify for the ballot in New York. But because Steve Levy is not yet a registered Republican, GOP rules require him to get 50%. It sounds, though, like there may be some movement afoot to more or less knock that requirement back down to 25%.
CT-05: Some Dude Kie Westby is dropping out of the crowded GOP race to take on Rep. Chris Murphy. Westby endorsed state Sen. Sam Caligiuri on his way out. Quite a few Republicans remain in this primary.
MD-04: State Del. Herman Taylor says he's challenging Rep. Donna Edwards in the Democratic primary. It sounds like Taylor might be taking Edwards on from the right, saying she's "out of touch with the business community" (those are the Maryland Gazette's words, not necessarily his). Meanwhile, it sure sounds like Edwards herself has gone native: Despite the fact that she owes her seat to a primary challenge, she now says "it would be 'very hard' for her to support a primary challenger like herself," according to The Nation. It never changes.
MI-09: Former state Rep. Rocky Raczkowski put out an internal poll showing him up 26-15 over businessman Paul Welday, with a whole lotta people undecided.
NY-23: Like some kind of Archie Comics love triangle involving Betty, Veronica, and Jughead, newcomer Matt Doheny is wooing the Club for Growth away from their former not-so-golden boy, Doug Hoffman. (The Club now says it's "hard to say" whom they will endorse, if anyone.) Maybe toss in Moose, too, since the Conservative Party is making it extra-interesting by sticking with Hoffman.
PA-12: This ain't good news for Team Blue: Dem Mark Critz reported having just $73K in the bank in his pre-election FEC report, while GOPer Tim Burns has $308K. I don't feel too good about this one.
UT-02: In case you missed it, Dem Rep. Jim Matheson is being forced into his first-ever primary come June 22nd, thanks to the vote taken at the state's Democratic convention this past weekend. Retired teacher Claudia Wright nabbed 45% of the delegates on Saturday, clearing the 40% hurdle to get her name on the primary ballot. The winner will take on ex-state Rep. Morgan Philpot, who has raised just $27K so far. Wright has raised $9K, while Matheson has taken in a million bucks and has $1.4 mil on hand.
WV-01: I was wondering when this was going to happen: The DCCC has finally sent some help to Rep. Alan Mollohan, who faces a stiff primary challenge from the right in the form of state Sen. Mike Oliverio. The election is tomorrow, though, so I wonder if, Coakley-style, this assistance is going to be too little, too late. While I carry no brief for Mollohan, he is almost certainly better than Oliverio, who is buddy-buddy with the state GOP.
Meanwhile, on the GOP side, the cat fud is flying fast and furious. Attorney Mac Warner says he won't support ex-state Rep. David McKinley if he wins the nomination, claiming McKinley's "gone way over the line in personal attacks and distortions of the truth." (Welcome to politics, bub.) In general, the primary has been very negative, with much of the fire aimed at McKinley.
New Jersey: A New Jersey appellate court dinged Chris Christie's attempt to unilaterally restrict campaign contributions by unions, saying that legislation would instead be required.
Polling: Tom Jensen, who has penned many dour but accurate notes about the rough shape Dems find themselves in this cycle, draws together some surprising threads and finds recent good polling news for Team Blue in five senate races.
New York: In NY-23, we lost, apparently because the conservatives won, because in their brave new world winning no longer means earning more votes than the other candidates, but rather defeating the candidate that will vote with you most of the time in order to pave the way for the candidate who would theoretically vote with you all the time but has no chance of getting elected in your swing district. I quake in fear of next November, when conservatives will enjoy the mightiest of all glorious historic victories, with the crushing general election losses of Marco Rubio, Chuck DeVore, Rand Paul, Ovide Lamontagne, Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell, Peter Schiff, Chuck Purgason, Ken Buck, and Patrick Hughes, thus purifying the soil for decades to come.
Uh, more specifically, in NY-23, Bill Owens (D) defeated Doug Hoffman (C) and Dede Scozzafava (R), 49-45-6, with about a 6,000 vote margin (out of 131,000) separating Owens and Hoffman.
Elsewhere in New York, two powerful incumbents got scares. New York City's I/R mayor Michael Bloomberg beat Democratic comptroller William Thompson by a much narrower-than-expected margin: 51-46. And Democratic Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi is barely leading Republican Ed Mangano, 48-48 (with a 237-vote margin, which may change as absentees are counted). Republicans picked up two open New York City council seats in Queens (including the one vacated by new comptroller John Liu), bringing the Democrats' control of that body down to a perilous 46-5.
New Jersey: Republican former US Attorney Chris Christie defeated Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine in the Republicans' big score of the night, beating Corzine and independent Chris Daggett 49-44-6. The big story here may be the unexpected collapse in Daggett's numbers (he had been polling near 20% several weeks ago); I'd guess that a swath of moderate but fervently anti-Corzine voters realized that they were planning to waste their votes on a spoiler (Daggett) and in the end held their noses and voted for Christie. The other big story: the robo-pollsters (PPP, SurveyUSA) not only getting the result right but coming close on the spread, while some of the more traditional pollsters saw a Corzine victory. Christie's amply-cut jacket didn't have much in the way of coattails, though: Republicans picked up a total of only one seat in the Assembly, with Domenick DiCicco poised to pick up an open seat in Gloucester County in Philly's suburbs, leaving Dems in control of the chamber, 47-33.
Virginia: Here's where the Democrats really stunk it up, although the handwriting on the wall could be clearly seen from months away. In the gubernatorial race, Republican Bob McDonnell defeated Creigh Deeds by a substantial margin, 59-41. Further down the ticket, Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling was re-elected over Jody Wagner, 56-44, and Republican Ken Cuccinelli won the AG's race over Steve Shannon, 58-42. Democrats also took some damage in the House of Delegates, although they seemed to stave off total wipeout: Republicans netted five seats, to move the total from 53 (and 2 GOP-caucusing indies)-45 (with 2 formerly Dem vacancies) to 58 (plus the 2 indies)-39 (with one Dem incumbent-held seat, the 21st, going to recount).
Maine: In what seemed to be the night's biggest heartbreak for many in the netroots, Question 1, a vote to repeal gay marriage, passed by a 53-47 margin. Nevertheless, Mainers defeated an anti-tax initiative (Question 4, 40-60) and expanded medical marijuana access (Question 5, 59-41).
Washington: In the nation's other corner, Referendum 71, a vote to approve legislation creating "marriage in all but name" expanded domestic partnerships, is passing 51-49. (Assuming it passes, this would be, by my reckoning, the first time gay rights have been expanded through statewide vote; since King County has reported disproportionately few of the state's ballots, that margin is likely to grow.) Washington also rejected anti-tax I-1033, 44-56, and King County elected Dow Constantine as County Executive by a comfortable 57-43 over Susan Hutchison (in the first time this has been run as a nonpartisan race -- unfortunately for Hutchison, somewhere in the last few weeks her Republican cover got blown). The Seattle mayor's race will probably be the last race in the country to get resolved: with less than half reporting, anti-establishment progressive Mike McGinn leads establishment progressive Joe Mallahan 50-49.
California: In the night's other House election, Democratic Lt. Gov. John Garamendi defeated Republican attorney David Harmer in CA-10, 53-43 (with the balance going to Green and Peace & Freedom candidates). That's a bit underwhelming in a district where Barack Obama won 65-33, but in a low-turnout special, it's not remarkable.
North Carolina: Charlotte got only its second African-American mayor and its first Democratic mayor in 22 years, as 38-year-old Anthony Foxx beat the polls en route to a 51-49 over Republican Andy Lassiter. Democrats also now have an 8-3 edge on the city council. College town Chapel Hill now has an openly gay mayor: Mark Kleinschmidt, who narrowly defeated conservative Matt Czajkowski, 49-47.
Ohio: Somehow I can't see Cleveland becoming the next Las Vegas (maybe $pringfield, Ohio will), but Ohio voters just opted to legalize casino gambling in Issue 3, 53-47.
Pennsylvania: Republicans picked up a seat on the state Supreme Court; Jane Orie Melvin defeated Democrat Jack Panella 53-47. The GOP now controls the court 4-3, which has bad implications for state legislative redistricting next year.
Michigan: Another Dem screw-up that may bury the prospect of a pro-Democratic gerrymander in Michigan next year is a loss in the one hotly contested state Senate seat anywhere last night. In SD-19, Republican Mike Nofs won 61-34, picking up a seat formerly held by Democratic now-Rep. Mark Schauer. Republicans now control the Senate 22-16 (all seats are up in 2010, meaning Dems now need to flip four for control -- of course, they'd also need to hold the gubernatorial race, which may not happen either). In Detroit, incumbent Dave Bing held on to win the mayor's race, 58-42.
Georgia: We're headed to a runoff in Atlanta, where city councilor Mary Norwood and state Senator Kasim Reed finished 1 and 2, with 46% and 36% respectively. Reed may be able to pull it out, though, if he consolidates African-American votes in the general (the 3rd place finisher, Lisa Borders with 14%, is also African-American). The most interesting legislative race seems to be the previously Dem-held HD-141, where it's unclear whether Dem Darrell Black or GOPer Angela Gheesling-McCommon (each of whom got 23%, although Black has a 16-vote edge) will face off against independent Rusty Kidd (who got 44%) in the runoff.
Got any other races you want to share results from, or want to talk about? Let us know in the comments!
Has anybody heard anything about there being an election of some sort today? I'll look into it, but this is the first I've heard. In the meantime...
• AR-Sen (pdf): Talk Business Quarterly had a strange poll earlier in the year where they had a huge disparity between Blanche Lincoln's favorables (mediocre) and her re-elect (terrible), and now they're back with another poll showing pretty much the same thing. Her favorable is 42/46, but she gets a 25/61 on the oddly worded question "Would you vote to re-elect Blanche Lincoln as your United States Senator no matter who ran against her?" Gov. Mike Beebe doesn't have much to worry about, though; he may be the nation's most popular politico these days, with a favorable of 71/15.
• NC-Sen: Research 2000 did another poll on behalf of Change Congress, this time looking at North Carolina. They see the same pattern as PPP and most other pollsters: tepid re-elect numbers for Burr (21 re-elect/45 someone new, with 39/46 favorables), but a decent lead for Burr against SoS Elaine Marshall (42-35) and Rep. Bobby Etheridge (43-35).
• NJ-Gov (pdf): One last poll straggled across the finish line yesterday afternoon, from Fairleigh Dickinson University. They give Jon Corzine a 43-41-8 edge over Chris Christie and Chris Daggett, but it's a very large timeframe (Oct. 22 to Nov. 1). Unusually, this incorporates the smaller sample that was the basis for the standalone poll that FDU released over the weekend (which was in the field from Oct. 22 to Oct. 28) had a topline of 41-39-14 for Christie)... which is good news, I suppose, as it showed either movement to Corzine in the last few days or just that more Corzine voters were picking up their phones over the weekend, but a strange technique (why not release the Oct. 29-Nov. 1 data as a separate poll?). Because of the sample overlap, Pollster.com didn't add this one to the pile, leaving their final regression line total at a remarkable 42.0-42.0.
Meanwhile, this being Jersey, both parties are engaged in some last-minute chicanery: the Democrats are reportedly robocalling Republicans to encourage them to vote for Daggett, while Republicans are seeing what we're all seeing -- a race that's within a percentage or two, and one that's possibly to be decided in the post-game of recounts and even litigation -- and are getting a jump on the post-election framing by leveling allegations of 'election fraud' (without proof, or even specifics, of course).
• TX-Gov, TX-Sen: The first Univ. of Texas/Texas Tribune poll of the GOP gubernatorial primary gives a bigger edge to incumbent Rick Perry than other pollsters have; he leads Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison 42-30, with a surprisingly large 7% going to Debra Medina from the party's Paulist contingent. (Rasmussen has the most recent poll of the race, from September, and actually found KBH ahead, 40-38.) On the Democratic side, they find only chaos, with Kinky Friedman actually in the lead with 19, followed by Tom Schieffer at 10, Ronnie Earle at 5, and Hank Gilbert at 3. In the general, Perry is surprisingly vulnerable to Generic D (34-33, with 8 going to "Generic third party"), while Hutchison performs better (36-25, with 9 to third party) against Generic D. Against actual human Democrats, though, Perry seems safe (beating Friedman 38-23 and Schieffer 36-25).
They also look at the Senate race that may or may not ever happen and get more inconclusive results; polling all participants together in one pool, they find Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Democratic Houston mayor Bill White tied at 13 each, followed by Democrat John Sharp at 10 and a gaggle of other Republicans, none of whom break 3. Here's the poll's one heartening tidbit: Barack Obama actually has a better favorable (41/52) than either Perry (36/44) or Hutchison (39/27).
• MD-04: Here's one more potential challenge to Rep. Donna Edwards in the safely Democratic 4th. (Delegate Herman Taylor is already scoping out the primary.) Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn Ivey, a former senior staffer on the Hill, is now considering a run in the Dem primary too. The bulk of the district's votes are in mostly-black Prince George's County in the DC suburbs. It sounds like members of the local business community are looking for a more establishment challenge to the fiercely progressive Edwards.
• NY-23: New York State, the last state in the nation to comply with the Help America Vote Act, is finally switching over to optical scan machines from its ancient (but awesome) lever machines. The 2009 election is just a "pilot" run, so the entire state hasn't adopted the new machines yet, but most of the counties which make up the 23rd CD have. This means one of two things: results will come in more quickly than usual thanks to speedier and more reliable equipment... or results will come in more slowly that usual, thanks to the inevitable learning curve. (D)
Meanwhile, this seemed inevitable: overzealous electioneering by revved-up teabaggers. Police have been called to several locations in the North Country for violations of the 100-foot polling barrier by rabid Doug Hoffman fans.
• SC-05: Republican State Sen. Mick Mulvaney today made official his race against veteran Democratic Rep. John Spratt. Mulvaney is one of Mark Sanford's closest allies, so in the next year expect to see lots of the photo that's at this link.
• Mayors: One last mayoral poll out, in a close race between two different flavors of progressive. Joe Mallahan leads Mike McGinn 45-43 in the Seattle mayoral race, according to SurveyUSA. SurveyUSA also finds Democrat Dow Constantine surging into a comfortable lead over stealth Republican Susan Hutchison in the King County Executive race, 53-43. Previous SUSA polls had given a small edge to Hutchison, suggesting that a lot of voters weren't paying much attention yet and hadn't found out that she was a Republican.
• Illinois Filings: Yesterday was the filing deadline in Illinois, and lots more names trickled in after yesterday's digest. For starters, we actually did get a Dem on the ballot in IL-06 (and all the other GOP-held House districts), although it really seems to be Some Dude: the heretofore unknown Benjamin Lowe. In IL-07, more electeds eventually showed up, in addition to state Sen. Rickey Hendon. So too did alderwoman Sharon Dixon, alderman Bob Fioretti, and former state Rep. Annazette Collins. And I'm left wondering about the weird saga of Patrick Hughes, the great wingnut hope in the Senate race; after rumors of not having enough signatures, he withdrew around 10 am yesterday, but then filed again after 4 pm. Most likely that was a ploy to get the last line on the ballot (which was why Cheryle Jackson waited so long to file on the Democratic side) -- but I'm preferring to envision a scenario where he had to hold a benefit show to scrape together those last few signatures, then rush back to Chicago along Lower Wacker Drive, trashing about 80 police cars while trying to get to the Cook County Assessor's Office Board of Elections before it closed.
• Teabaggers: Could it be that the legacy media are finally noticing that the rise of the teabaggers, as seen in their decapitation of the Republican establishment candidate in NY-23, could spell only deeper trouble for Republicans in 2010? Politico and Roll Call both take notice today, that this dynamic is poised to repeat itself in the crucial Senate race in Florida... and, for that matter, Connecticut, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Nevada, Missouri, Arkansas, Colorado, and Illinois. In fact, the real question may be: where are the Senate races where there won't be a hot establishment/movement Republican primary? (Weirdly, Pennsylvania may be that place, where running the teabagger that nobody loved may actually turn out to be an asset for the GOP.)
• Babka: Hey! Do you want not just bragging rights among your fellow electoral junkies, but also a delicious chocolate babka? Don't forget to submit your entries in the SSP elections prediction contest! Do it in the prediction thread, though, not in the digest, at least if you want it to count.
The polls have been coming hot and heavy in New Jersey, and this race is nothing but a pure tossup, with just as many polls giving a Corzine lead as a Christie lead. Last time we had anything to say about New Jersey, we were feeling a little cocky after Quinnipiac had given Jon Corzine a 5-point lead last Wednesday. Rather than go into extreme detail about every bump and dip in the roller coaster ride since then, let's just recap everything that's been released in the last half a week, from oldest to newest:
Rather than try to convince you there's a pattern here, I'll merely direct you to the Pollster.com regression lines, which, as of this minute, pegs the race at precisely 42.0% Corzine, 42.0% Christie, and 10.1% Daggett (with a notable downtick in Daggett's trendline, as many recent polls have him falling back into the single-digits, and a somewhat less noticeable Christie uptick -- his red line gets overlapped by Corzine's blue line). There initially seemed to be a bit of a Corzine swoon over the weekend (as seen in the Corzine drops in Quinnipiac and SurveyUSA), but the Monmouth and Democracy Corps polls that just rolled in don't seem to be bear that out. And SurveyUSA's writeup of their most recent poll points to what you may be thinking: there may be a weekend sample selection bias thing going on here, with last weekend being a particularly busy one for younger people, between Halloween and the state being torn apart, brother against brother, by the World Series (I'm sure you remember that Barack Obama's polling numbers used to fall off over the weekend as we were racing to the end a year ago). Bottom line: this race is as tossuppy as a tossup has ever been tossed.
Governor Corzine and his campaign have done a terrific job in getting this far. Indeed, at the end of August it looked all over with Christie consistently hitting 50 percent. But even then there was always the nagging feeling that you never say never with regard to a Democrat in New Jersey.
The basis for this is the positive numbers for Republicans throughout this decade in the state - the 2004 Presidential race, the 2006 Senate race, the 2008 Senate and Presidential races. In each case of course the Democrat went on to win comfortably.
Further, and what I was particularly interested in here, there is the belief that the final polls will favor Republicans by at least a couple points. A hidden Democratic vote if you will. So, is this fact or merely wishful thinking?
Here are the final polls in each case mentioned earlier. I've included the 2005 gubernatorial race for obvious reasons.
Final Polls -
(Strategic Vision) TIE
(Quinnipiac) Kerry +5
(Star-Ledger) Kerry +4
(Survey USA) Kerry +12
(Rasmussen) Kerry +12
(FDU Public Mind) Kerry +7
Jon Corzine (D): 43 (40)
Chris Christie (R): 38 (41)
Chris Daggett (I): 13 (14)
Don't know: 5 (5)
Yet another twist in the roller coaster ride that the New Jersey gubernatorial race has become as it races through the final stretch. Yesterday was a stomach-clenching drop as PPP and Rasmussen gave a small edge to Chris Christie, helped along by Chris Daggett losing momentum. But today Quinnipiac finds a 5-point Jon Corzine lead (even with Daggett pulling in the same 13 that PPP saw yesterday), the first time they've seen Corzine on top. 38% of Daggett supporters say they might change their mind, with 43% saying Christie is their 2nd choice and 27% saying it's Corzine.
Corzine seems to have made a bit of improvement on his still-lousy favorables as well: he's up to 41/52, while Christie has sunk to his lowest marks, 37/42. This points to a race that couldn't be more of a tossup; if there's any doubt, Pollster.com's regression line today (with the new Quinnipiac included -- and, unfortunately, that Suffolk outlier too) averages it all out at a 41-39 Corzine lead.