• Polltopia: I'm not sure whether to frame this as a case of how good Barack Obama's internal polling was in 2012, or how bad Gallup was! Bloomberg's Joshua Green got his hands on the trendline from the Obama camp's own polls for June through November of 2012, and they're astonishingly stable, clocking in at the approximately 52 percent he eventually received the whole way through, except for a point-or-so boost in the period between the Democratic convention and the first debate. (I've always felt like Mitt Romney didn't get his convention boost until the first debate, his first real time at the center of the national stage... seeing as he made such a non-impression at the RNC, between the hurricane and Clint Eastwood's chair interrogation.)
• AR-Sen: As we predicted (almost word for word), Sen. Mark Pryor has gone straight up Pace Picante in response to the new ad Mayors Against Illegal Guns has been running that targets his opposition to expanded background checks. Here's his own spot, featuring Pryor talking directly to the camera:
The mayor of New York City is running ads against me because I oppose President Obama's gun control legislation. Nothing in the Obama plan would have prevented tragedies like Newtown, Aurora, Tucson or even Jonesboro. I'm committed to finding real solutions to gun violence while protecting our Second Amendment rights. I'm Mark Pryor, and I approve this message because no one from New York or Washington tells me what to do. I listen to Arkansas.The difficulty here for Pryor is that enhanced background checks are actually quite popular in Arkansas. A new PPP poll shows voters there favor the policy by a 60-31 margin, and 40 percent say they'd be more likely to vote for Pryor if he supported expanded checks, versus 34 percent who would be less likely to. So Pryor has to convince Arkansans that they dislike meddling coastal elites more than they like the idea of increased background checks.
• NC-Sen: In a long-expected move, state House Speaker Thom Tillis said on Thursday that he'll launch a bid against Sen. Kay Hagan next year, making him the first prominent Republican to enter the race. Tillis, who is more of your typical business/establishment-type, has seemed eager to run for a long time, but he's barely registered in PPP's regular kitchen-sink primary polls, notching just 6 percent support in May. Yet despite Tillis's inroads among social conservatives (he helped pass more abortion restriction and ban same-sex marriage—hooray), it's hard for me to imagine that someone who fancies themself a purer strain of wingnut won't be interested in trying their luck as well.
• FL-Gov: Not that I ever imagined he would primary Gov. Rick Scott, but former state AG Bill McCollum certainly has more reasons to do so than anyone else. McCollum, the establishment choice in 2010's gubernatorial race, unexpectedly found himself on the receiving end of an unthinkably massive attack ad barrage from Scott in that year's GOP primary, one which left him so bitter that he refused to endorse his rival after narrowly losing the nomination. I'm sure he wouldn't want to face all that again, so it's no surprise that McCollum now says he's "not planning" to challenge Scott, but he does think such a challenge might materialize. Not hard to guess what he must be rooting for....
• CA-31: There goes another one. Rep. Tim Walz just became the third member of Congress to rescind his endorsement of ex-Rep. Joe Baca, claiming (as did Terri Sewell and Jim Clyburn) that he didn't intend to get involved in a contested primary. Baca's not buying this explanation, saying he thinks that the DCCC has been pressuring House Democrats to back off their support of him because the D-Trip has endorsed Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar, but at this point, it's hard to know what to believe, and both things could certainly be true. No matter what, though, this whole thing has been a mess.
• MN-06: Well, there we go. Democrat Jim Graves, who launched a second effort to unseat Michele Bachmann back in April, announced on Friday that he would "suspend" his campaign "indefinitely." That's merely code for "dropping out," since Graves evidently reached the same conclusion almost every horserace analyst did: that no Democrat could win a seat this red without someone as uniquely damaged as Bachmann running for re-election. Now that she's announced her retirement, someone much closer to Generic R will take her place, thus boxing Graves out.
Ordinarily, I'm an advocate of challengers jumping in as early in the cycle as possible—there's never enough time to raise money, build an organization, and earn support. And after his 2-point loss in 2012, I can understand why Graves would have been eager to get started again quickly, especially since he got in late last time. But perhaps in this case, a stealth approach was needed. Rumors had surfaced that Bachmann might retire, and given all the various ethics investigations into her failed presidential campaign, it certainly seemed like a real possibility.
Ensuring that she stayed in the race would have meant helping to convince her that she'd win again, and an aggressive rematch obviously sends the exact opposite message. Graves may also be wishing that he hadn't released that internal poll from PPP a few weeks ago that showed him leading Bachmann 47-45. Bachmann surely has conducted her own polling, but in retrospect, handing her yet another reason to call it quits was probably unhelpful. Of course, if she had simply waited to bail later in the cycle, Graves would still have been up the junction, so perhaps he's glad he found out now.
And in any event, the decision was still entirely Bachmann's; a different approach by Graves might have made a small difference in her thinking, but probably wouldn't have changed her mind. But even after her departure, there was the slim hope that the GOP would nominate someone in her mold, someone who could turn enough Republican voters off to make the race competitive, just like Bachmann had. (Ex-state Sen. Amy Koch would fit the bill.) After all, Minnesota uses a caucus system, which often favors crazier nominees. But even in that scenario, you'd need someone with Graves's resources and chops for a Democrat to have even a small chance. Now, though, this seat will come off the big board entirely, and Team Blue will have to look for pickup opportunities elsewhere.
• VA-LG: I'm sure Ken Cuccinelli is thrilled to hear E.W. Jackson say this:
"We are in fundamental agreement. I've heard that this ticket is probably more homogeneous than almost any ticket ever in the history of Virginia. So there's no stark disagreement between us."Hey, I've heard that, too!
• VA-St. House: Here's a big get for Air Force vet Evandra Thompson, the political newcomer who is challenging wayward Democratic Delegate Rosalyn Dance in the primary in Virginia's 63rd state House District. State Sen. Henry Marsh, whose momentary absence from the legislature in January allowed Republicans to ram through a blatant redistricting power grab, is endorsing Thompson, making him the most prominent elected official so far to join her cause. Dance, of course, was one of just two Democrats who expressed a willingness to vote for the GOP's redistricting scheme, so one can only imagine that this unpleasant fact helped spur Marsh into action.
• Congress: This is weird enough that I guess we have to give it a mention: The University of Minnesota's Smart Politics blog reports that starting in 1858, 23 sitting or former members of Congress have either died on trains or been killed by them. I'd love to know how they came up with the idea to research this, but it does seems to be a bit of a, ahem, dead letter, since no congressman has suffered a train-related death since 1957. All aboard!
• House: Here's a good piece from Cook's David Wasserman on the treacherous demographic picture Democrats face in the 2014 midterms. Team Blue faces a set of mirror-image problems, which Wasserman illustrates with a few charts. On the one hand, while older voters have always turned out in greater proportion than younger voters in non-presidential years, they used to divide their vote pretty evenly between the parties. In recent years, though, the 65+ set has tilted heavily toward the GOP, creating a double-digit "age gap." (It's gotten up to 16 percent, both in 2010 and 2012.)
On the other hand, there hasn't really been any change in the "race gap" in the last two decades of American politics: Non-white voters have consistently supported Democrats by around 30-40 points more than white voters over the last two decades. What has changed is that the minority share of the vote has dipped notably in the past two midterms, compared with the previous presidential year; from 1992 to 2002, it either increased or held steady with every election. So fewer non-white votes and more hostile older voters has put Democrats in a very tough spot when it comes to modern midterm elections.
One important point to add, though, per DCCyclone, is that the proportion of minority voters has steadily kept growing over time, even in midterm years. It has only "dipped" relative to minority performance in recent presidential years—or, you could say, there's been a non-white spike in presidential years. Put another way, the minority share in 2014 will almost certainly be greater than it was in 2004, and it won't be long before it hits 2008 levels.