8:49 AM PT: House: Daily Kos Elections featured writer dreaminonempty, who provided a great deal of in-depth polling analysis last year, is back with his first piece on the 2014 elections. Based on the changes in the House popular vote from one election to the next in elections since 1932, his simple regression model suggests current generic ballot numbers would yield a 50/50 chance of Democrats winning the House back if the election were held today. Of course, generic ballot numbers can and do change, so stay tuned.
11:00 AM PT: WI-Gov: While there have been hints that some other Democrats (namely state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout) might yet get into the race against Gov. Scott Walker, former Sen. Russ Feingold's advocacy group Progressives United isn't waiting. They've gone ahead and endorsed Madison school board member Mary Burke, after 3,000 of the organization's members voted to back her by a 75-25 spread. Some Wisconsin progressives and labor organizations have been reluctant to get behind Burke given her refusal to support a repeal of Walker's controversial law that eliminated collective bargaining rights for public employees, but Progressives United's move will make it harder for any latecomers to stake out territory to her left.
11:11 AM PT: NY-01: The GOP establishment (mostly, anyway) continues to rally around state Sen. Lee Zeldin in his bid to take on Rep. Tim Bishop, with former Sen. Al D'Amato endorsing Zeldin over attorney George Demos in the primary.
11:26 AM PT: MA-Gov: State Sen. Dan Wolf's on-again, off-again candidacy for governor is off again—and it looks like this time, it's permanent. Wolf has been wrangling with the State Ethics Commission, which ruled him ineligible to run for governor due to contracts his small regional airline has with the state that allows the company to fly in and out of Boston's Logan Airport.
The commission had recently suggested it might adopt an exemption for Wolf, but it's moved rather slowly—too slow, Wolf says, for him to have time to mount a serious campaign even if they ultimately rule his way. Wolf had barely registered in polls of the Democratic primary, though, so his departure is not likely to shake up the race much.
11:51 AM PT: SC-Gov: It looks like we finally have some horserace numbers on next year's rematch for governor in South Carolina, courtesy the DGA, which commissioned a survey from Clarity Campaigns. And the numbers (since the DGA is releasing them) are positive for Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, who trails Gov. Nikki Haley just 44-40. More important than the spread is that Haley is in the mid-40s, a weak place for an any incumbent but an unsurprising one for her, given her soft 40-35 approval rating.
The memo doesn't include favorability numbers for Sheheen, whose name recognition is probably low despite his prior gubernatorial bid. However, the writeup does detail the poll's partisan breakdown, which at 46 percent Republican, 39 percent Democrat, and 15 percent independent has a similar R-D spread as the 2010 electorate (43 R, 35 D, 23 I). Back then, despite the brutal year for Democrats, Sheheen only lost by about 4.5 percent.
It's hard to imagine next year's playing field once again being so harsh, so if Sheheen's keeping it close despite some very conservative assumptions, this could be a real race. Indeed, that's been our expectation all along, which is why we've rated this race in the competitive category of Lean Republican. Sheheen will have a lot of work to do to pull off an upset, but he definitely could.
12:04 PM PT: ME-Gov: Because it worked so well for Mitt Romney, GOP Gov. Paul LePage is trying it out, too. At a recent gathering of conservatives, LePage declared: "About 47 percent of able-bodied people in the state of Maine don't work." Idiot.
12:16 PM PT: KS-Gov: State House Minority Leader Paul Davis has tapped investment advisor Jill Docking as his running mate in his bid to unseat GOP Gov. Sam Brownback. Docking ran against Brownback herself once before, losing 54-43 in the 1996 race to fill Bob Dold's old seat, and her husband, Tom, once served as lieutenant governor, the same post she's seeking now.
2:35 PM PT (Steve Singiser): VA-Gov: Two polls of very different flavors, by very different pollsters, yield the same basic result: really crappy news for Republican gubernatorial hopeful Ken Cuccinelli.
Start the banquet of disastrous Cooch numbers with a new survey out today from the House of Rasmussen, which claims a gaudy (if not absurd) 17-point lead for Terry McAuliffe over Cooch. The raw nums: McAuliffe 50, Cuccinelli 33, Sarvis (the Libertarian) 8.
Add a dollop of PPP, who worked with the League of Conservation Voters to take a look at how the early voters in the race have cast their ballots. The outcome: McAuliffe +18 (57-39-3). Now, it is worth noting that last year, the early vote in Virginia also trended Democratic (the poll shows that this pool of early voters were 57-41 Obama last year). However, it is hard not to look at this data and conclude that Cuccinelli is hurting. Especially so, since he seems to yield little to no benefit from the collapse of support for Libertarian Robert Sarvis, who is polling around 10 percent yet has only commanded the support of just 3 percent of the early voters.
And, for a little bit of garnish, add a dash of Bloomberg. The gazillionaire mayor of New York's Independence USA PAC is throwing down a seven-figure ad buy ($1.1 million) on McAuliffe's behalf. This is on top of the other third-party buys on T-Mac's behalf, including a new one from Planned Parenthood spanking Cuccinelli on the abortion issue.
2:43 PM PT (Steve Singiser): AR-02: The dominoes in central Arkansas are starting to fall in the wake of the retirement of Republican Rep. Tim Griffin. Democrats have lured in one of their top recruits, as North Little Rock Mayor Pat Hays launched his bid (the speed of that launch, by the way, seems to confirm recent rumors that he was making a go of it with or without Griffin in the mix). Alas, the news is not universally positive for the Democrats. Caustic Republican state senator Jason Rapert (yup...this guy) declined to run. If past is prologue, Rapert seemed like the perfect dude to win a GOP primary, and then tank the general.
3:43 PM PT: OR-05: You take the good, you take the bad, you take 'em both and there you have... a possible Republican challenger to Rep. Kurt Schrader. Clackamas County Commissioner Tootie Smith says she's creating an exploratory committee in preparation for a possible bid for Congress. Oregon's 5th is a swingy district that went for Obama 51-47 last year, so on paper it could host a competitive race. But after Schrader survived the plague year of 2010, Republicans didn't bother contesting this seat last cycle. However, he's never won with more than 54 percent of the vote, so it's worth keeping an eye on this one.
3:46 PM PT: NE-Sen: The Senate Conservatives Fund has now issued their third endorsement in the last week or so. This time they're backing Midland University President Ben Sasse in the GOP primary for Nebraska's open Senate seat.
3:53 PM PT: HI-Sen: Honolulu Civil Beat's new poll of Hawaii's Democratic primary for Senate (courtesy their usual pollster, Merriman River) finds Sen. Brian Schatz narrowly edging Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, 38-36. That's very similar to Merriman's June numbers, when they had Schatz up 36-33.
4:00 PM PT: NM-01: Former Albuquerque City Councilman Mike McEntee says he'll run for the GOP against freshman Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham in New Mexico's 1st Congressional District. While this seat was held by a Republican until 2009, Lujan Grisham ran several points ahead of Barack Obama and crushed ex-state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones 59-41 when this seat became open last year. What's more, McEntee has been out of office since 2001, so it's hard to see him making this race competitive.
4:53 PM PT: FL-26: Jeffrey Garcia, the former chief of staff to Dem Rep. Joe Garcia (no relation), has pleaded guilty to an absolutely moronic voter fraud scheme he perpetrated last year and will serve 90 days in jail. Garcia resigned last summer after law enforcement exposed the plot, which involved the fraudulent submission of absentee voters applications, all of which were denied. Rep. Garcia has not been implicated in any of this.
4:58 PM PT: NC-02: Keith Crisco, a former state commerce secretary under ex-Gov. Bev Perdue, says he's considering a bid against Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers. At 57-42 Romney, this seat is the kind that might not fall even in a huge blue wave, but Crisco would at least be a cut above the kind of candidate the Democratic Party could ordinarily expect here.
5:01 PM PT: NH-02: Republican state Rep. Marilinda Garcia is reportedly gearing up to run against Rep. Annie Kuster, though when asked directly about her intentions, she was non-committal. If she does get in, she'd face ex-state Sen. Gary Lambert in the GOP primary. As I like to remind folks, "state representative" doesn't mean much in New Hampshire: If the U.S. Congress had the same population-to-representation ratio as the Granite State, it would have 99,000 members. Garcia was, however, labeled a "rising star" by the RNC earlier this year, so take that for whatever it's worth.
5:06 PM PT: NH-Sen: UNH also released some home-state Senate numbers to go along with the new House polling they just published. Dem Sen. Jeanne Shaheen leads ex-Rep. Charlie Bass 51-34 and ex-state Sen. Jim Rubens 53-28. Note that UNH polled likely voters, which is a strange choice a year out from an election, especially when one of the candidates they tested (Bass) hasn't even declared his intentions yet.
5:18 PM PT: Westchester Exec: We've written a bunch about the race for county executive in Nassau County, but there's another important contest in another big suburban New York City county, Westchester. There, Democrat Noam Bramson, the mayor of New Rochelle, is challenging incumbent Rob Astorino, and he just released an internal poll from Momentum Analysis showing Astorino with just a 47-43 lead. That's big news, because a month ago, Astorino was up 52-38 according to Momentum, which says that the shutdown caused the "Republican brand in Westchester" to "plummet."
And in a sign that Democrats are taking this race very seriously indeed, Bill Clinton—who, of course, lives in the Westchester town of Chappaqua—headlined a fundraiser for Bramson on Monday night. Astorino, meanwhile, claimed that he has a much wider edge in his own polling, but tellingly refused to share any details.