• Race Ratings: Daily Kos Elections is pleased to announce our initial Senate race ratings for the 2013-14 cycle. Of the 35 seats up for election, we've given competitive ratings to 17, with four in the most competitive "Tossup" category. As a reflection of how much the playing field favors Republicans heading into next year, only three of these 17 seat are currently held by the GOP.
A full chart of all our ratings can be found at the link, along with an explanation for each. Courtesy of Stephen Wolf, a map summarizing all our ratings is below (with lighter colors representing more competitive contests):
• AK-Sen: Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, who is not up for re-election until 2016, just became the third Republican senator to come out in favor of marriage equality, joining Rob Portman (OH) and Mark Kirk (IL). At this point, there are almost as many GOP senators who support same-sex marriage as Democratic senators who oppose it (four).
• MA-Sen: Biden Alert! The VPOTUS is headed up to Massachusetts this Saturday for a final-weekend rally with Rep. Ed Markey ahead of Tuesday's special election. Biden previously headlined a DC fundraiser for Markey, though Markey himself was not in attendance due to a debate scheduled for the same night.
• CT-Gov: Quinnipiac's first poll of the governor's race in their home state of Connecticut does not offer particularly warm news for Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy. His job approval rating sits at an even 47-47 (down from 48-39 in March), and only 44 percent say they'd like to see him re-elected, versus 46 who would not. On top of that, he trails his likeliest opponent in a head-to-head matchup, and doesn't otherwise break out of the mid-40s:
• 40-43 vs. 2010 nominee Tom FoleyFoley lost to Malloy by less than 1 percent in 2010, though of course he had a strong wind at his back thanks to that year's GOP tidal wave, so you'd expect a rematch in a more neutral year, particularly against an incumbent in a blue state, wouldn't favor him. Malloy's faced a number of difficulties as governor, though, particularly a large budget deficit left to him by his Republican predecessor that required unpopular tax hikes.
• 43-36 vs. Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton
• 44-37 vs. state Senate Minority Leader John McKinney
• 44-37 vs. state House Minority Leader Larry Cafero
As you can see, though, Malloy—like Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper last week—somehow fares worse than his re-elects when paired with Foley, which is just an odd result. Quinnipiac also had a bit of weirdness back in March, when for some reason, they conducted two separate Connecticut polls a week apart; as noted above, the second one gave Malloy a +9 job approval score, but the first one had him at 43-43. So maybe the middle poll was the fluky one, but still, it was sort of strange to see such different numbers in back-to-back surveys.
Regardless, it's important to note that Quinnipiac is the only pollster to check in on this race so far this year, so we have nothing to compare their numbers to. As is always our wont, we'll wait until we see other data before coming to any firm conclusions about this race.
• MN-Gov: New polling from the Star Tribune finds a big jump in approval ratings for Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, who is up for re-election next year. Dayton's approvals now stand at 57-31, up from 45-34 in February. That's a big spike, and it seems like it may be a shade on the "too good to be true" side, but Dayton seems to be enjoying some good press these days thanks to the completion of a successful session of the legislature. Perhaps most notably, a pair of tax increases Dayton pushed for are also scoring high marks: An income tax increase on the wealthy earns the support of 58 percent of voters, compared to 36 opposed, while a $1.60 per pack tax hike on cigarettes clocks in even better, at 64-32.
• PA-Gov: Rough stuff. The Philadelphia City Paper managed to get its hands on a private poll from Republican pollster Public Opinion Strategies, taken for self-described "school reform" organization PennCAN. Most of the poll, which was conducted at the start of May, focuses on various ways GOP Gov. Tom Corbett might pick a fight with the Philadelphia teachers' union to try to save his bacon for re-election. And what's most notable is Corbett does indeed need saving: POS finds Corbett trailing Dem Rep. Allyson Schwartz 46-34, confirming other independent polling.
The key thing here is that this was not an internal poll deliberately leaked for public consumption. These findings were never meant to see the light of day, meaning they are probably more trustworthy than most selectively shared internals you typically see. Indeed, PennCAN, a pro-voucher group, has refused to even comment. (It was actually POS who confirmed their client's identity, after the City Paper published the poll.) So if even Republican pollsters think that Corbett is mired in the mid-30s, you know he's truly in trouble.
• CA-52: A new investigative report from KPBS and inewsource about Republican Carl DeMaio's sketchy fundraising activities also offers a number of details about his connections to Americans for Prosperity, the conservative front group funded by the billionaire Koch brothers. Neither aspect of the story paints DeMaio in a flattering light, and overall, the piece undermines his claims to be a "new generation Republican" who is somehow different from the rest of his party. So do DeMaio's own words from a January fundraiser that have now come to light:
DeMaio rallied the audience, calling them "the loyal opposition." Tell your friends, he said, that they don't have to "live in socialism."Paranoid fantasies about socialism causing the collapse of America: Yep, that's a "new generation Republican," alright.
"Our role is to be ready when San Diegans turn to us to pick up the pieces and lead," DeMaio said. "And that day, my friends, will come."
• IN-02: Even though Republican legislators made Indiana's 2nd Congressional District significantly redder in redistricting last cycle, prompting then-Rep. Joe Donnelly to run for Senate instead, Iraq vet Brendan Mullen came very close to holding off Republican Jackie Walorski. Democrats would like Mullen, who lost by just 1.4 percent, to seek a rematch, but if he takes a pass, Roll Call's Abby Livingston reports in her latest Farm Team installment that state Rep. Ryan Dvorak might be an alternative. She also points out an amazing fact: Except for veteran Dem Rep. Pete Visclosky, Indiana's entire congressional delegation, including both senators, was elected in the last five years.
• NC-06: Veteran GOP Rep. Howard Coble, who is 82 years old and has suffered from health issues, still isn't saying for sure whether he'll seek another term. But he does have a fundraiser scheduled for September, so it sounds like he's at least preparing for the possibility of one more run. Several local Republicans who are interested in Coble's seat have said they'll only go for it if he retires, but one person, Baptist pastor Mark Walker, is going ahead with a challenge anyway. Walker says he raised $60,000 at a recent fundraiser, which seems like a lot for a guy with a Some Dude-type profile.
• CO Recall: The Colorado secretary of state has certified a recall election for Democratic state Senate President John Morse, though Morse is filing a protest over the sufficiency of the language used on the petitions circulated by organizers. Joshua Spivak also flags another issue: Almost 38 percent of the signatures filed against Morse turned out to be invalid. Recall supporters submitted double the amount needed, so (barring other issues) this isn't a problem with regard to Morse. However, far fewer signatures were gathered to force a recall of state Sen. Angela Giron, another Democrat. If that batch has a similar invalidity rate, then the Giron recall effort would automatically fail.
• Abortion: The GOP continued its efforts to reinvent itself on Tuesday, by shifting its focus from contentious social issues to really contentious social issues. In a move sure to win over moderate voters, the House passed a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Given the fact that it's unconstitutional, would never make it through the Senate, and would never be signed into law by President Obama, you can see why this was a particularly good use of time.
It also helpfully showed how few Republicans are actually pro-choice, given that just six voted against the measure: Rob Woodall (GA-07), Paul Broun (GA-10), Jon Runyan (NJ-03), Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ-11), Richard Hanna (NY-22), and Charlie Dent (PA-15). (And note that Woodall and Broun were opposed because the bill didn't go far enough.) Where the hell were supposedly pro-choice congressmen like Chris Gibson (NY-19)?
Anyhow, six Democrats voted in favor of the law, all very predictable: Dan Lipinski (IL-03), Collin Peterson (MN-07), Mike McIntyre (NC-07), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Jim Matheson (UT-04), and Nick Rahall (WV-03). All hail from red districts except for Cuellar and Lipinski, both of whom represent seats Obama won comfortably.
• Maps: Here's a set of maps that may have only tangentially to do with politics—it has more to do with psychographics (the realm where demographics, identity, and consumption intersect)—but it's too interesting for us to pass up. Atlantic Cities has compiled maps of U.S. major metropolitan areas, using geotagged tweets to map what type of mobile devices are in use. Their findings show a stark iPhone vs. Android divide along remarkably clear race and class lines. The map of the New York City area is a case in point (iPhone is red, Android is green, and the woeful Blackberry contingent is purple):