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Leading Off:

GA-Sen, -Gov: The new week brings us a pair of new polls out of Georgia that offer sharply differing results for Democrats. One is from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, taken by Abt-SRBI, and the other is from Marist, which just conducted a trio of Southern state polls for NBC. (See our Arkansas and Kentucky items below for the others.)

The AJC finds a reasonably close race for governor, with GOP Gov. Nathan Deal ahead of Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter 48-44 among registered voters (or 50-46 with "very likely voters"), compared to a 47-38 Deal lead in January. Marist puts Deal up by a much wider 50-40 among registered voters, meaning both polls represent the first time the incumbent has hit 50 percent, the mark he'd need to avoid a runoff.

However, the spread in AJC's survey is much more in line with other recent numbers, and this divide carries over to the Senate side in a similar way. The table below compares the two polls, using registered voters (with leaners) in both cases. Democrat Michelle Nunn's vote share is listed first in each case:

Republican Marist AJC
Paul Broun 42-43 51-38
Phil Gingrey 44-42 52-37
Karen Handel 42-39 49-41
Jack Kingston 43-43 50-40
David Perdue 41-45 46-45
If Marist sees Deal's chances too optimistically, then the AJC does the same for Nunn. Not only is this the first time Nunn's ever crested 50 in any public polling, it's actually the first time she's even been above 45 percent, ever. It's times like these when it makes the most sense to trust in poll aggregators, rather than individual pollsters.

Marist also polled the GOP primary, which is now just one week away. They have the free-spending Perdue leading with 23, Kingston at 18, Handel at 14, and Broun and Gingrey, as per usual, bringing up the rear, with 11. Almost every pollster has found Perdue on top, but there's a difference of opinion as to whether Kingston or Handel will win that all-important second runoff slot.

And the well-funded Kingston is running one more ad to help ensure that he, and not Handel, is the one who makes it to the playoffs. He accuses Barack Obama of "growing government with wasteful spending while drastically cutting our military." Kingston claims that he, by contrast, has "worked to protect Georgia's military installations as a map with a dozen bases highlighted appears on screen.

Senate:

AK-Sen: Republican Dan Sullivan tries to remind voters of his military background in his latest ad, saying that "As a Marine, I learned that talk is cheap, and results are what matter." Sullivan promises to fight for a balanced budget, to repeal Obamacare, and against "EPA's bureaucrats, to protect Alaskan energy production and Alaska jobs." It won't be easy outdoing Democratic Sen. Mark Begich when it comes to taking on the EPA, though.

AR-Sen, -Gov: While Marist's Georgia Senate numbers showed a close race, their simultaneous Arkansas poll features a huge lead for Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor. Marist puts Pryor up 51-40 on GOP Rep. Tom Cotton, the third time since April that the incumbent's been ahead by double digits. By contrast, other surveys conducted in that same timeframe have given Pryor much more modest leads.

What makes this result even more confounding is that in the governor's race, Republican Asa Hutchinson is beating Democrat Mike Ross 49-42. That means there's a net 18-point difference between Ross' performance and Pryor's—or put another way, this poll forecasts a whole lot of Pryor-Hutchinson voters showing up on Election Day. If either Democrat has greater crossover appeal, you'd expect it to be Ross, since he's not running for a federal post and has more daylight between himself and Barack Obama. That just doesn't appear to be the case, however, and may have to do with the fact that Pryor, unlike Ross, was already a statewide figure before this race.

Now, PPP did recently show Ross trailing by 8, but that same poll placed Pryor up a single point. The HuffPo Pollster averages put Pryor ahead by about 4 and Hutchinson ahead 3, which may well be the case. It's just that most results we've seen are falling in a very wide band around those center-points.

CO-Sen: A new PPP survey for the League of Conservation Voters finds Democratic Sen. Mark Udall with a 47-43 edge on GOP Rep. Cory Gardner, Udall's biggest lead in a public poll since Gardner entered the race. A couple of weeks ago, a PPP poll for a different client had Udall ahead 47-45, so the difference here is probably just a bit of noise.

KY-Sen: At least there are no surprises with Marist's final poll, which is of the Kentucky Senate race. GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell edges Democrat Alison Grimes 46-45, while Grimes would beat McConnell's primary opponent, businessman Matt Bevin, 46-37. That's pretty academic at this point, though, as McConnell has a huge 57-25 lead on Bevin for the Republican nomination. That's where pretty much every other pollster has found the race, and with the primary just a week away, Bevin's out of time.

Of course, that's not stopping Bevin from airing one last ad (though who knows how much he's spending on it). The spot features a woman criticizing McConnell strictly on tea party themes, like "cav[ing] to President Obama on the debt ceiling without a single spending cut."

Meanwhile, Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, a super PAC that's backing McConnell, has already turned its sights to November. In a new ad, they attack Grimes for supporting Obama (specifically "Obamacare" and "the war on coal"), featuring a clip of her saying she "I do" in response to a question about whether she "support[s] the national Democratic Party platform."

NE-Sen, -Gov: A last-minute poll from Republican firm Magellan Strategies finds that banker Sid Dinsdale has probably run out of time in the GOP primary, though note that the survey appears to have been taken for the Legacy Foundation Action Fund, a group that's backing Midland University President Ben Sasse. But in any event, Sasse leads Dinsdale 38-24, while former state Treasurer Shane Osborn, who started off as the frontrunner, trails with just 20.

By contrast, Magellan sees a serious tossup in the Republican primary for governor. Businessman Pete Ricketts has just a 25-24 edge on state Attorney General Jon Bruning, with state Auditor Mike Foley at 18 and state Sen. Beau McCoy with 16. Like Osborn, Bruning was at one point the favorite, but now it's anyone's race, which is why Bruning slapped together a last-minute ad featuring clips of Gov. Dave Heinemann's 11th-hour endorsement. (Heinemann sure is a scintillating speaker. Not.)

Ricketts' final spot, meanwhile, is a minute-long paean to his various beliefs that feels much longer. And in McCoy's last ad, he whines about negative advertising from Bruning and Ricketts, though he was never the target of a single commercial—and undoubtedly he wishes he were important enough to have been one.

NH-Sen: In a new ad for Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Adria Bagshaw, an executive at a family-owned company that manufactures textile pins, praises Shaheen for supporting small businesses. One thing in particular Bagshaw cites are Shaheen's efforts to help "train the high-skill workers we need," which is very similar to a line that a business owner used in a recent Al Franken spot. Keep an eye out to see if this phrase appears in other ads.

OR-Sen, NY-01: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce just issued two endorsements in GOP primaries on opposite ends of the country. In Oregon's Senate race, they're backing physician Monica Wehby over state Rep. Jason Conger, while in New York's 1st Congressional District, they're supporting state Sen. Lee Zeldin against attorney George Demos. The Chamber is capable of spending real money, and indeed, they recently launched a couple of broad-spectrum ad buys recently, but there's no word yet if Zeldin or Wehby will benefit from this largesse.

Gubernatorial:

FL-Gov: An internal poll for the American Future Fund from the absolutely awful McLaughlin & Associates finds GOP Gov. Rick Scott leading Democrat Charlie Crist 42-38. Crist, however, currently has a 4-point edge in the Pollster average.

MA-Gov: It looks like Charlie Baker will probably have a primary after all. Baker's tea party opponent, Mark Fisher, sued after Republican officials allegedly changed their method of counting ballots at the state convention in March, a move that narrowly denied Fisher the right to appear on the ballot. During the course of the lawsuit, state GOP ultimately caved and agreed to certify Fisher for the Sept. 9 primary. However, Fisher seems to be a bit of a nut, claiming without evidence that Republican power brokers had offered him $1 million to drop his fight. Dude, why didn't you take the money?!?

OH-Gov: Rasmussen: Ed FitzGerald (D): 38, John Kasich (R): 45.

PA-Gov: Ahead of next week's contest for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, pre-primary fundraising reports are now available for all candidates for the period from April 1 through May 5. Allyson Schwartz led the way with almost $750,000 raised, while Tom Wolf spent the most, over $6 million. (Rob McCord did self-fund for a million bucks, but he still trailed in spending.) However, GOP Gov. Tom Corbett has a lot of money stockpiled away for the general election—some $6.3 million, far more than what his opponent well emerge with after the primary.

House:

CA-07: Former congressional aide Igor Birman's second ad attacks ex-Rep. Doug Ose as "one of the most liberal Republicans in Congress" because he voted for "over a trillion dollars in new debt increases" and "backed a scheme to give Social Security benefits reserved for America's seniors to illegal immigrants."

FL-13: In a strange new survey, St. Pete Polls finds GOP Rep. David Jolly leading Democrat Ed Jany (who is running as an independent) 50-21, with Libertarian Lucas Overby taking 10 percent. But St. Pete didn't bother to include the candidates' party affiliations, which can only boost the incumbent. Then, they asked a couple of questions about Obamacare before asking another horserace question, this time including everyone's party labels (and calling Jany a "Democrat no-party-affiliate"). The results didn't change a whole lot, with Jolly still winning 50-30-9.

There are also some new concerns about how well the DCCC vetted Jany, whom they recruited into the race right at the filing deadline. According to a new report in the Tampa Bay Times, Jany claims to possess a degree from a school called Madison University, which is a diploma mill that has no campus and offers no classes. Jany says he completed "significant amount of papers and course work," but one expert calls the school "completely fake."

GA-12: Republican businessman Eugene Yu is definitely in the running for some of the shadiest campaign finance shenanigans of the cycle. Yu, who is running for the right to take on Democratic Rep. John Barrow, reported loaning his campaign $736,000 but his personal financial disclosures indicate that his liquid assets and investment income fall far short of that figure—and he's refusing to answer any questions about it.

What's more, he also took in a $15,000 contribution from a company run by his campaign chair, which is strictly illegal, as corporations are not permitted to donate to candidates. (The amount is also much higher than individual limits in any case.) And that's not to mention his 2007 personal bankruptcy declaration. So while Yu's spending might seem competitive in the GOP primary, it looks like he's running a very hollow and sketchy campaign.

ID-02: It looks like the Club for Growth is throwing in the towel in Idaho's 2nd Congressional District, where their preferred candidate, attorney Bryan Smith, simply hasn't caught fire—or perhaps never managed to get Rep. Mike Simpson's boot off his neck. Simpson and his allies have been portraying Smith as a greedy trial lawyer for months, while over the last two weeks, the Club simply stopped advertising on Smith's behalf. What's more, they have no spending planned for the final week of the race ahead of next Tuesday's GOP primary, and the group itself isn't even denying that they've pulled out in favor of boosting Ben Sasse in Nebraska.

ME-02: In an unusual move, the League of Conservation Voters is launching a $150,000 mail campaign against state Sen. Troy Jackson, whom they've named to their "Dirty Dozen" list for his "anti-environmental voting record." What makes this notable is that last cycle, everyone 11 of the 12 candidates on the LCV's target list were Republicans, while Jackson is a Democrat. But the group says he's earned just a 64 percent lifetime rating on their scorecard, while fellow state Sen. Emily Cain, whom they previously endorsed in this open-seat race, has a 90 percent score. You can see one of the negative mailers here.

NC-02: Businessman Keith Crisco, who had been seeking the Democratic nomination in North Carolina's 2nd Congressional District, died suddenly at home on Monday at the age of 70. Crisco narrowly trailed singer Clay Aiken, 40.8 to 39.5, on election night, and had been waiting for election officials to certify the results before re-evaluating his options. However, following his death, one reporter says that according to an unnamed advisor, Crisco was planning to concede on Tuesday.

NJ-03: With New Jersey's primary now just three weeks away, former Randolph Mayor Tom MacArthur is touting an internal poll from National Research showing him with a 37-28 over former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan in the fight for the GOP nomination. MacArthur claims that previously unreleased trendlines had Lonegan up 39-28 (and before that, 50-7!), but MacArthur's freely spent his own money on TV ads. The winner will face Democrat Aimee Belgard in the fall for this open seat.

Other Races:

Chicago Mayor: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel doesn't face the voters again until late February of next year, but it looks like he may have a real fight on his hands. A new poll from McKeon & Associates on behalf of the Chicago Sun-Times shows Hizzoner only narrowly leading County Board President and fellow Democrat Toni Preckwinkle 29-26 in a hypothetical matchup. Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis takes in 10 percent, with two others taking in a combined 8 percent. A March poll from Strive Strategies also showed Rahm in trouble, trailing Preckwinkle 40-32.

It's far from clear that Preckwinkle will run, though she has refused to rule it out. One advantage Rahm would have over her or any opponent is money: He has $7.4 million on hand compared to Preckwinkle's $697,000. Still, we could have a very interesting race to look forward to next year. (Jeff Singer)

Grab Bag:

NRCC: The NRCC just named the first batch of candidates to the top level of its Young Guns program, 10 in all. None of these are new names, but the designation represents the group's highest seal of approval. Most are pretty expected, too, though a few races stand out as offering seemingly weaker options for the GOP, including IL-12, MN-07, and MN-08. We rate almost all of the rest as Tossups or better for the Republicans.

Patriot Majority: The Democratic super PAC Patriot Majority USA just announced plans to spend $700,000 on ads supporting five different House Democrats over the next two weeks. The odd thing is that while three of their targets are vulnerable—Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-01), Patrick Murphy (FL-18), and Joe Garcia (FL-26)—two decidedly are not: Adam Smith (WA-09) and Ron Kind (WI-03). Indeed, it's very hard to figure why anyone would want to spend money in either of those districts, seeing as Kind as Kind has $1.3 million in the bank versus $12,000 for his leading Republican opponent, while no one has even filed against Smith in the first place.

In any event, you can watch all the ads here. They all center around the exact same themes: There's a lot of economic worry out there, but these members of Congress are trying to mitigate that uncertainty by opposing "the radical plan that would end the Medicare guarantee," pushing to "reduce the cost of student loans for working families," and keeping "prescription drugs affordable for seniors." Sometimes the phrase "tea party" is thrown in, too. The buys range from $83,000 for Kind to $235,000 for Kirkpatrick.

Primaries: Voters in Nebraska and West Virginia go to the polls Tuesday, and we have our preview of what to watch for here. It's looking like it'll be one of the most unpredictable primary nights we've seen in a while, with the GOP nominations for NE-Gov, NE-Sen, and WV-02 all up in the air. For a look at which states are on the horizon, please check out our calendar here. (Jeff Singer)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue May 13, 2014 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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