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THE RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE
NATIONAL POLLS: Normally, the Weekend Wrap treats the GOP primary polling as a bit of an afterthought, but since that seems to be the predominant data set this week, let's jump into the...er...shallow end of the pool with both feet.
The new mass of numbers does paint a very specific picture: Mitt Romney is consolidating a bit of a lead, and he becomes the first in the GOP field to break out of the teens.
Lest anyone think this was a result of a sparkling debate performance: virtually all of the polls in question were conducted in the days before the debate. One, from Fairleigh Dickinson University, had Romney lapping the field with 26% of the vote. Aside from possible non-candidate Sarah Palin (11%), no one else cracked double digits: though Herman Cain (9%) came closest. Notably, FDU left the still undecided Sarah Palin out of the mix. Meanwhile, Gallup offered their own pre-debate take on the race, and they also find Romney well ahead. Romney has 24%, with Palin at 16%. Again, Cain wins the bronze medal (9%).
NBC/WSJ put Romney in an even more exalted position: 30%. That took Romney well ahead of Palin (14%) and Cain (12%), who once again finds himself having to pray for twin implosions to move into the driver's seat. But, the Hermanator can take solace: one pollster was busy raising Cain: all the way up to second place. It is our friends at PPP, where Cain (17%) trailed Romney (22%) by five points. Palin ran third (15%) in the PPP poll.
In the lone survey conducted entirely post-debate, the House of Ras saw a surge for Michele Bachmann. Their poll (one of their only ones of the cycle) had Romney still well out in front with 33%. But they had Bachmann actually running at 19%, with the Hermanator in his familiar third place (10%).
Two of these pollsters (alas, Rassie not among them) also did some general election trial heats. The NBC/WSJ poll tested President Obama against both Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty. The better known Romney, predictably, polled better, trailing the President by six points (49-43). Pawlenty, meanwhile, still languished behind by thirteen points (50-37). Meanwhile, the PPP crew runs all the GOP contenders. As with every other pollster, they had Romney the closest. Indeed, team PPP had Romney disturbing close (47-45). Double digit deficits were the order of the day for the rest of the GOP team, with margins ranging from 10-14 points. The only soft spot for the President was a Gallup poll which had him down five (44-39) to the always fearsome "Generic Republican".
IN THE STATES: Three states offer polling this week, although in reality Connecticut's poll is that always tense matchup between the President and the vaunted "Generic Republican". In North Carolina, President Obama did, at a minimum, as well as he did in 2008 against the GOP field. Romney was the only one to hold him to his '08 margin of a single point, while the balance of the GOP field was considerably worse (7-14 points). As with all of these polls, that is almost certainly owed partially to name recognition. Nevertheless, Obama seems in decent position to keep those critical 15 EVs in the Democratic column.
The same is true for another blue state where President Obama's numbers to-date have been decidedly soft. The state is Pennsylvania. In the Keystone State, the President's job approval numbers still weren't too savory, but his trial heat numbers were decent, in a new Quinnipiac poll. The President was at parity on job approval (48/48), which is actually an improvement. As for trial heats, the Q-sters only polled homestater Rick Santorum (who gets crushed 49-38) and Mitt Romney (who also loses pretty cleanly at 47-40).
Meanwhile, the President also dropped a double-digit beatdown on the oft-feared Generic Republican in the state of Connecticut, according to the Q poll. The margin here was eleven points (46-35), which is a bit less than the 2008 margin, but far from the zone of concern. The President's job approval sat at a halfway decent 53-44 split.
As mentioned earlier, we get a couple of GOP primary polls this week. Mitt Romney, predictably, leads with sizeable vote totals in his "home states" of Massachusetts (with 49%), as well as New Hampshire (where he draws 41%). He also leads local boy Rick Santorum by a 25-16 margin in Pennsylvania, which is a clear sign of the weakness of the Santorum campaign. Finally, Romney leads by a considerably narrower margin in North Carolina, where he leads a three-Republican logjam with 20%. That narrowly edges out Herman Cain (18%) and Sarah Palin (17%).
BATTLE FOR THE U.S. SENATE
THE POLLS: It isn't always an accurate rule, but the "if the other guy had something better, he'd show his cards" rule means that there might be something telling about the release of another internal poll out of Nevada. The Mellman Group dropped another poll on the Senate race there, and found Democratic Congresswoman Shelley Berkley leading newly-anointed GOP Senator Dean Heller by five points (42-37). This is the second Dem-sponsored poll showing Heller trailing Berkley. Notably, there haven't been any GOP polls of the race released as of yet.
Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, the key number to remember for Democratic Sen. Bob Casey is: 47. His job approval is 47% (with only 26% disapproval). His re-elect is at 47% (with 31% wanting someone else), and, when paired against a generic Republican, he leads 47-32. This includes an impressive eighteen-point edge among Indie voters.
Meanwhile, Scott Brown looks insulated from a teabagging in Massachusetts. Only 25% of GOP primary voters are hunting for a more conservative alternative, with 70% content with Brownie ideologically.
ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL:
- Everyone loves puzzles, and election junkies got a pretty fun one early in the week out of the state of Michigan. So, the scuttlebutt from the right is that a conservative former NHL star with the locally beloved Red Wings was planning a GOP bid against Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow. The only problem: the only clues were that it was a former Red Wing who was a Canadian-born U.S. citizen. As far as I know (and I am sure if I am wrong, one of our intrepid readers will know it), the mystery remains unsolved.
- Speaking of candidate recruitment, the announcements and semi-announcements continue as the summer heats up. Example #1 from New Jersey: Bob Menendez might be getting another GOP challenger as state Senator Joe Kyrillos is looking at setting up an exploratory committee. Example #2 comes from Connecticut, where GOP Ex-Rep. Chris Shays is sounding out a bid. A complicating factor: he moved from the Nutmeg State to Maryland after his defeat in 2008. Example #3 is far from a lock, but could be damned interesting: in Utah, Dem congressman Jim Matheson is making it clear that he may run for the Senate if his House seat gets torn up in redistricting.
- Here's a quick, easy rule of campaigning: don't compound stupid with a greater degree of stupid. Someone, evidently, has not shared that rule with Todd Akin of Missouri. The GOP Congressman, and co-frontrunner for his party's nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, got nailed a while back for voting in a different locale than he has lived in, for the past couple of years. Then, tipping his hand that he recognized the severity of the offense, he switched his voter registration the day the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported the offense. What's worse, there's this previously missed tidbit: Akin compared himself to soldiers voting back home while serving in Iraq. Sure, because serving in combat is just like...umm...moving from one big house to another one?!
BATTLE FOR THE U.S. HOUSE
THE POLLS: Only one poll at the House level this week, and it is a pretty interesting one. Individual House district polling this early in the cycle is decidedly rare, all the more so with so few districts having gone through the redistricting process. But, courtesy of PPP, we have one: in the Oklahoma 2nd abandoned last week by conservaDem Dan Boren. If the Democratic nominee is former Rep. Brad Carson, he starts with a 8-point edge (43-35) over Republican state legislator George Faught. If longtime state Senator Ken Corn is the Democratic standard bearer, it is a one point race in the Democrat's favor (37-36).
ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL:
- Another big, multi-district state has put a map out there for the perusal of all. This time, it is the state of Michigan. As expected, the newly-drawn Michigan map puts Democrats Sander Levin and Gary Peters into the same district (Michigan had to compress down to 14 districts due to lack of population growth). A couple of other Republicans were made marginally more secure, while the machinations surrounding freshman Justin Amash's district makes us here at Daily Kos Elections wonder who he's pissed off in his own party.
- We may have another open seat to contend with, but not for the usual reason. In this case it is in MN-06, where Michele Bachmann may be leaving the House...to run for President. It's been a (long) while since that was done successfully, but Bachmann filed with the FEC this week, a precursor to a possible White House bid. Of course, this does not preclude another House run: if the presidential thing goes south fast, she can bag it and still run for President (see: Paul, Ron).
- We did get one open seat which we will certainly contend with, and sooner rather than later. With the resignation of Anthony Weiner on Thursday, his seat in the Empire State becomes subject to a special election. David Nir offered a whale of a take on what comes next in NY-09.
THE BATTLE FOR THE STATE HOUSE
THE POLLS: Only one gubernatorial poll today, and it is a 2012 race that has looked bleak for Democrats since...well...right around 2009: North Carolina. Republican Pat McCrory has been dominating Democratic Governor Bev Perdue in polling for this rematch of a 2008 open-seat contest for this governor's mansion. Now, McCrory still holds a lead, according to PPP, but it is a declining lead. Perdue, in this poll, trailed McCrory by six points (45-39), meaning that she has made up more than half of the gap that she suffered from just three months ago. Perdue might be aided by her resistance to, and subsequent veto of, an unpopular GOP budget in the Tar Heel State.
ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL:
- In Washington, one of the most open secrets in election junkie-land all year was finally unmasked, as Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire confirmed that she would not seek a third term as Governor. That opens the seat for next year, with frontrunners already in place in the form of Democratic Congressman Jay Inslee and Republican AG Rob McKenna. One other rumored Dem candidate quickly extinguished rumors this week, as recently-departed HUD official and former King County Executive Ron Sims made clear that he would not run on his own, and would instead support Inslee.
- We close the week looking ahead...way ahead...to 2013. It's a little early to speculate on possible candidates in Virginia, but we already have a potentially interested Democratic candidate. The name is familiar: Terry McAuliffe. The former DNC chairman lost his '09 bid to Creigh Deeds, but is apparently interested in another shot at it.