• AK-Sen: To quote Troy McClure, "here's an appealing fellow... in fact, they're a-peeling him off the sidewalk." Yes, Joe Miller didn't even wait until today to make his decision about whether or not to appeal to Alaska's Supreme Court; he already pulled the trigger on his appeal (despite the fact that everyone but him knows that he's, at this point, roadkill). Arguments are set for Friday, so (since he can't introduce new evidence, which the trial judge found sorely lacking, at the appellate level) this should get resolved pretty quickly.
• CT-Sen: Linda McMahon is sounding very much like she's ready to run again in 2012 against Joe Lieberman and a Dem to be named (maybe she found another $40 million under the couch cushions). She has a meeting planned with the NRSC's John Cornyn, presumably to discuss her next move. Meanwhile, Joe Lieberman (who lost control of his own vanity party, the CfL) is seeming likelier to run again, thanks to encouragement from both sides of the aisle, and he may even have a useful vehicle to do it with: the new "No Labels" party-type thing courtesy of Michael Bloomberg. Meanwhile, there's more follow-up from yesterday that, yes, Rep. Joe Courtney is considering a run for the Dem nomination (which could set up a primary against fellow Rep. Chris Murphy); he says he's "looking at it" and, if he runs, will announce soon. That pretty much leaves Rosa DeLauro as the lone Dem House member in the state who hasn't said yes or no, and today, as you'd expect, she said a loud "no."
• ME-Sen: Roll Call seems to have read the same article as everybody else yesterday that had that baffling interview with Andrew Ian Dodge -- the tea party impresario who claims to be in contact with a killer-app candidate who will unite the teabaggers and defeat Olympia Snowe -- and just flat-out concluded that Dodge is the mystery candidate himself (meaning that he's spent the last few months talking to himself?). As added evidence, Dodge doesn't dispute a local blog's reports that he plans to run.
• MI-Sen: Despite his strong name-rec-fueled showing in a PPP poll last week of the GOP Senate primary (or perhaps because of it), ex-Gov. John Engler is now saying that he has no plans to run for Senate, and will be staying in his role as head of the National Manufacturers Association. Strangely, the biggest-name candidate beyond Engler associated with the race, soon-to-be-ex-Rep. and gubernatorial primary loser Peter Hoekstra, sounded pretty indifferent about it when asked by a reporter yesterday, saying "We'll see. I'm not sitting around yearning to get back into office."
• MN-Sen: PPP is out with GOP Senate primary numbers, and it's a familiar story: the GOP base is irretrievably enamored with a female politician who's poison in the general election. Rep. Michele Bachmann (who loses the general 56-39 to Klobuchar) leads the field at 36, far ahead of more establishment figures like outgoing Gov. Tim Pawlenty (20) and ex-Sen. Norm Coleman (14). They're followed by new Rep. Chip Cravaack at 7, Tom Emmer at 6, John Kline at 5, Laura Brod at 4, and Erik Paulsen at 2. There's not much indication that Bachmann is interested in a Senate run -- in fact, she's currently sending out fundraising appeals based on the threat of a rematch with Tarryl Clark -- but there's also word that Amy Klobuchar's camp is most worried about facing Bachmann of any of the possible opponents, probably because of her national fundraising capacity (although it may also be a bit of public don't-throw-me-in-that-briar-patch posturing).
• NV-Sen: Need some evidence that Rep. Shelly Berkley is planning a Senate run? National Journal looks at her repositioning, as one of the key members of the party's liberal wing in the House to break away and support the tax compromise, suggesting that she's trying to tack toward the center to play better in the 2nd and 3rd districts. (Of course, it's worth noting that she wasn't that liberal to begin with, as a member of the New Dems, not the Progressives, and with a National Journal score usually putting her around the 60th percentile in the House.)
• IN-Gov: Evansville mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel isn't in a hurry to declare whether or not he's going to run for Governor, although with Evan Bayh's recent demurral, the iron would be hot. The key indicator, though, will be whether Weinzapfel runs for another term as mayor; the election is in 2011, and it's assumed that if he does run for re-election a gubernatorial run is unlikely. He'll need to make a mayoral decision by Feb. 18.
• MT-Gov: The Dems have lined up a real candidate for the governor's race, maybe the best they can do if AG Steve Bullock doesn't make the race. Dave Wanzenreid, if nothing else, has a long resume: currently a state Senator, he served previously as a state Rep., as both minority and majority leader in that body. He was also chief of staff to ex-Gov. Ted Schwinden and then state labor commissioner in the 80s.
• Crossroads: American Crossroads, after its avalanche of late-cycle ads a few months ago, is already getting back in the TV game. The Karl Rove-linked dark money vehicle is spending $400K on radio advertising in the districts of 12 Dems who won by narrow margins, urging them to vote in favor of the tax compromise package. Tim Bishop, Jim Costa, Gabrielle Giffords, Gerry Connolly, Ben Chandler, Jason Altmire, Bill Owens, Maurice Hinchey, Heath Shuler, Gary Peters, Joe Donnelly, and Sanford Bishop are all on the target list.
• Votes: There's a strange array of "no" votes on the tax compromise that passed the Senate 83-15. The Dems have a few votes from the left (Bernie Sanders, Sherrod Brown, Pat Leahy, Russ Feingold (although it's gotten kind of hard to tell if he's doing anything from the left or not anymore)), but also some votes from some pretty avowed centrists (Jeff Bingaman, Kay Hagan, Mark Udall) too, of which Bingaman is the only one up in 2012. John Ensign was one of the few GOP "no" votes, although you've gotta wonder whether it's because he's trying to save himself in a primary by appealing to the far-right or if he's just given up and voting his conscience.
• Census: While you wait for the main course on Dec. 21 (the day for reapportionment hard numbers), the Census Bureau is out with a gigantic appetizer. They're rolling out their first-ever 5-year estimates from the American Community Survey (their one-year samples aren't that reliable, but over five, they are). The ACS covers a lot of the deeper demographic information that used to covered by the Census "long form," covering stuff like poverty, housing values, commute times, and education. Information is available all the way down to the block level, but here's an array of county-level maps to start with.
The new numbers in the North Carolina Senate race, I'm surprised to say, don't look half bad. While Richard Burr was looking like his lot had been improving in recent months, today's PPP poll shows Burr leading his best-known Democratic opponent, SoS Elaine Marshall, by only 5 points, and the elusive "Generic Democrat" by only 1. In fact, I'd be inclined to think that PPP got a lucky bounce with a favorable sample here, if we didn't have separate confirmation from Civitas with similar numbers. They find Marshall a little further back, but with a similar positive trend, and they find a 1-point gap in favor of Generic D over Generic R in their first attempt at a generic ballot.
So is there an easing in the anti-Democratic sentiment here, perhaps as we start to show tangible signs of economic rebound? I wouldn't generalize that, based on how little the same sample likes Kay Hagan (36/44 approvals) or Bev Perdue (a dire 27/53). Instead, I think we're seeing an electorate so surly they hate all incumbents, regardless of their stripes: Burr's not much better, at 35/37 (at least he can take some comfort in that he's gotten 70% of the electorate to know who he is). Elaine Marshall's the only person they've tested who's in the net positives, at 19/12 -- and that low name rec points to room to grow.
Two separate sources have informed the Swing State Project that former state Sen. Cal Cunningham has reconsidered his earlier decision and will enter the Democratic primary for the 2010 North Carolina senate race. This is reminiscent of the situation two years ago, when state Sen. Kay Hagan got into the race against Elizabeth Dole after initially saying she would not run. We hope to hear more from Cunningham soon.
Also, our condolences to Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, whose husband passed away this past weekend.
UPDATE: Another source writes in to tell us that Cunningham will be delaying his announcement out of respect for Marshall.
Along the lines of our New Hampshire compendium of polls, there's so much new North Carolina material out today that we're just going to give it to you in condensed form. What are the takeaways? The governor's race is still too close to call but may be shading toward Perdue, while on the Senate side, it's time for the Republicans to start practicing saying "Senator Godless."
Research 2000 for Daily Kos:
Hagan 50 (49), Dole 45 (45)
Perdue 49 (48), McCrory 44 (43)
Kay Hagan (D): 52 (49)
Elizabeth Dole (R-inc): 46 (44)
Rasmussen looks very good for Kay Hagan in the North Carolina senate race: six is the biggest lead she's had in a Rasmussen poll, and there aren't enough undecideds left for Dole to close the gap. Hagan's favorables continue to climb (53-42) while Dole's slide (46-50). The sample was taken yesterday, so it's unclear whether the flap over the 'godless' ad had an effect one way or the other.
Kay Hagan (D): 42
Elizabeth Dole (R-inc): 46
Mason-Dixon also gives Dole 46, but that's where the similarity stops. They say Hagan trails by 4, with lots of undecideds still on the table. Note the dates on this poll... this is part of the same plate of stale cookies as that Georgia poll that Mason-Dixon apparently sat on for a week. Oddly, despite Mason-Dixon's focus on the south, this is their first poll of this race, and it's the first poll by anyone in almost a month to give the edge to Dole.
UPDATE: One more North Carolina poll to throw on the heap, this time from National Journal. This one seems to confirm Rasmussen, right down to the 6-point spread.
Kay Hagan (D): 48 (49)
Elizabeth Dole (R-inc): 45 (42)
Christopher Cole (L): 4 (4)
This week's PPP poll of the North Carolina senate race shows Kay Hagan dropping from a 7-point lead to a 3-point lead. Considering that Hagan led by only 2 points two weeks ago, last week's lead was probably on the optimistic side, rather than this drop being suggestive of a major trend. Still, it's an indicator that this race can't be taken for granted and needs to be fought to the end.
The presidential race also sees slightly tighter numbers this week, with Obama up over McCain 49-48. Governor's race numbers will be out tomorrow.
PPP (10/18-19, likely voters, 10/11-12 in parentheses):
Kay Hagan (D): 49 (46)
Elizabeth Dole (R-inc): 42 (44)
Usually you don't see public pollsters use phrases like "annihilating" in their poll write-ups, but PPP just went there ("Hagan is annihilating Dole among suburban voters, 56-38."). It's hard to tell if last week's sample was a statistical blip or not (Hagan led +9 and +8 in the two weeks before); the fact that her lead among African-Americans dipped to 78-12 last week (and is now back up to 84-7) suggests that it probably was.
I'm glad to see PPP so relentlessly polling their home state (especially with such gigantic sample sizes), as North Carolina is probably the hottest state in this election, with not just NC-Sen but also the close governor's race and presidential swing state status. At the top of the ticket, Obama leads McCain 51-44 (with McCain now leading among white voters by only 55-39). Governor's race numbers will come out tomorrow.
Two new polls give more bad news for Bev Perdue, who seems to be slipping in her quest to hold the open North Carolina gubernatorial seat for the Dems. Rasmussen shows a big reversal from mid-August, when Perdue seemed to be at her peak. Elon University also shows Perdue losing a little ground from several weeks ago.
Kay Hagan (D): 37 (35)
Elizabeth Dole (R-inc): 35 (35)
On the plus side, the same Elon University poll sees Kay Hagan gaining ground in the Senate race. (Bear in mind that the Elon poll is rife with methodological problems: it's a sample only of residents, and respondents are only asked for each race whether they're supporting the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. Nevertheless, their margins seem generally in line with numbers we're seeing elsewhere, with the presidential race in NC tied at 39-39.)
Rasmussen (9/23, likely voters, 9/18 in parentheses)
Kay Hagan (D): 48 (51)
Elizabeth Dole (R-inc): 45 (45)
I try not to single out particular pollsters for ridicule, but Rasmussen has had one mixed-up crazy week. Nevertheless, their newest poll of the North Carolina Senate race is very much in line with their poll last week of the same race, and other pollsters as well: Hagan is showing a small but sustained lead. Somewhat miraculously, both candidates have favorable ratings over 50%: Dole at 52% and Hagan at 51%.
This is the same sample that gave Obama a 49-47 lead. Obama's organizing and advertising push in North Carolina seems to be paying off not just for him (as NC is starting to move into undeniable swing-state territory) but downticket as well.
Former Raleigh Mayor Tom Fetzer and fellow Republican strategist Mark Stephens plan to seek new ventures after the November election, Fetzer said Tuesday.
"We don't want to do campaigns anymore," said Fetzer. "We're old men, and this is a young man's game."
Both men are 53 years old. Fetzer and Stephens are both veterans of a host of Republican campaigns in North Carolina and are currently consultants to U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole's re-election effort. Fetzer served three terms as Raleigh's mayor in the 1990s.
Stephens was executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which helps orchestrate Republican senate races across the country, during the 2005-2006 election cycle, when Dole was the committee's chairwoman. Republicans lost their majority in the Senate in 2006.
After helping Liddy Dole fritter away the GOP's Senate majority two years ago and seeing Liddy's own numbers take a dive in recent weeks, I couldn't blame these gents for feeling a bit dispirited lately.