• GA-Sen, -Gov: A new PPP poll for the progressive group Better Georgia finds things tightening ahead of next week's GOP runoff for Senate. Rep. Jack Kingston now holds a 47-41 lead on businessman David Perdue, compared to a 46-34 advantage just after the primary in late May. InsiderAdvantage also saw a narrowing race recently, predicated mostly on a Perdue surge, and a Perdue internal a couple of weeks ago even put him 1 point ahead.
Perdue will also get a boost soon from his first cousin, ex-Gov. Sonny Perdue, who's cut an ad for him. (The spot's not available yet, though.) Kingston hasn't offered any contradictory numbers, so this contest may wind up being more exciting than it originally looked.
Democrat Michelle Nunn certainly has to hope so. The same poll gives her a 44-41 edge on Kingston but a wider 48-41 lead on Perdue, who presumably has higher negatives. What's interesting is that the undecideds do not lean Republican in the Kingston matchup, even though Georgia's a red state. They supported Obama by a 45-32 margin, though the smaller group of Nunn-Perdue undecideds preferred Romney 35-24. This suggests that Democrats are theoretically more open to voting for Kingston, though he may not have the easiest time wooing them.
Note, though, that the Senate pairings didn't include any third-party candidates candidate, but Better Georgia also tested the gubernatorial race, and there they did ask about the Libertarian. Andrew Hunt continues to take an outsize 8 percent of the vote, leaving GOP Gov. Nathan Deal with just a 41-40 edge on Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter. That's quite similar to the 43-all tie, with Hunt at 7, that PPP found back in May. And even if Hunt's share drops, these results still suggest that a December runoff remains likely.
• AK-Sen: Few places embrace third parties to the extent Alaska does. The state gave Ross Perot his second-best showing in 1992 (behind only Maine); a right-wing split allowed Democrat Tony Knowles to become governor in 1994 with just 41 percent of the vote; and its last three Senate races have all been won without a majority. There's another interesting three-way race for governor again this year, but the most important third-party candidates are running in the hotly contested race for Senate, where Democrats hope they'll siphon off enough votes from Republicans to give Mark Begich a second term.
With that in mind, Alaska Dispatch News' Nathaniel Herz takes a close look at who exactly these third wheels are. It turns out that a former Republican legislator, Vic Kohring, is running for the line of the right-wing Alaska Independence Party, but not only does he face a primary, he pleaded guilty to charges of bribery in 2011. Meanwhile, there's also a battle for the Libertarian nomination, where a former state party chair who took less than half a percent in a 2004 Senate bid has accused his opponent of being a stalking horse for GOP hopeful Joe Miller. (The other guy denies that he wants to give his spot to Miller after Miller inevitably loses the Republican primary.)
It's also not entirely clear how much these minor candidates will actually benefit Begich. Local pollster Ivan Moore, citing unreleased polling data, says that Begich's lead over Republican frontrunner Dan Sullivan would drop from 6 points to just 1 without all the third-party options included. But a May PPP poll found that supporters of third-party candidates were almost evenly divided when forced to choose between a Republican and a Democrat. Still, Begich's narrow 2008 victory involved an AIP candidate taking a shade over 4 percent of the vote, so he almost certainly hopes to see something like that happen again.
• LA-Sen: State Rep. Paul Hollis, who presented himself as the "true conservative" alternative to Rep. Bill Cassidy but never gained any traction, has dropped out of Louisiana's Senate race. Hollis didn't endorse anyone else, but to the extent his departure matters, it might boost the other tea-flavored candidate, Air Force vet Rob Maness, a little bit. But Maness hasn't done much better in the polls than Hollis, so it's extremely unlikely that he could block Cassidy from making the December runoff.
• AZ-Gov: A group supporting attorney Christine Jones called Conservative Leadership for Arizona has a new poll from Magellan Strategies that they say shows Jones surging into second place in the race for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. State Treasurer Doug Ducey holds a 26-22 lead on Jones, but previously unreleased trendlines from early June had Ducey up 28-12. Mesa Mayor Scott Smith had been in second with 16, but he's now dropped to third with 14; 19 percent are still undecided. Another poll, conducted by HighGround (apparently independently), finds Ducey up just 17-15, with a monster 45 percent unsure. The primary is Aug. 26.
• IL-Gov: A new survey from conservative pollster We Ask America finds Republican businessman Bruce Rauner leading Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn 51-39. It sure would be nice if we could get some numbers from a reliable firm here, though, because WAA's Illinois polling was terrible in 2012, and they also badly blew the GOP gubernatorial primary this year, repeatedly predicting a blowout when Rauner's final margin was just 3 points.
• OH-Gov: The Ohio Democratic Party keeps churning out internal polls from PPP, and their newest survey finds GOP Gov. John Kasich edging Democrat Ed FitzGerald by just a 45-44 margin. That's a bit better than May's numbers, when Kasich moved out to a 47-43 lead. Now the question is, who's going to take credit for LeBron coming home? Somehow, I don't think it'll be Kasich.
• GA-10: When we last saw Rep. Paul Broun, he was refusing to take sides in the GOP runoff to succeed him. Now, though, with the election a week away, he's decided to endorse pastor Jody Hice over businessman Mike Collins. As you might expect given Broun's choice, Collins, the son of ex-Rep. Mac Collins, has establishment backing while Hice is more of a free-range conservative.
• Chicago Mayor: The Windy City will not hold its mayoral election until February of 2015, but another poll indicates Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel is in trouble. On behalf of The Chicago Sun-Times, We Ask America pitted Rahm against several potential foes. The poll finds Hizzoner trailing Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis 45-36 and losing to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle 55-31. Preckwinkle has sent mixed signals about her level of interest, but Lewis is seriously considering a run. Rahm does far better against several lesser-known challengers.
There are some caveats, though. WAA does not have a good track record, and they've weirdly sampled "likely voters," not the best move so far away from Election Day. Still, other polls have shown Rahm in the danger zone, and unless something changes, it's looking like he won't have a smooth path to re-election. (Jeff Singer)
Ads (Jeff Singer):
• IA-Sen: American Crossroads contrasts Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley with their candidate, Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst. Once again Braley's "farmer from Iowa" gaffe makes it to the airwaves. It's still unclear if any persuadable voters actually care, or if this is the most over-hyped flub since "You didn't build that."
• MI-04: Republican primary opponents businessman Paul Mitchell and state Sen. John Moolenaar are each out with a new spot. Moolenaar's ad is the usual "Look at me, I'm a conservative!" fare, while Mitchell's piece is the usual "Look at him, he's not a conservative!" stuff.
• TN-03: Republican Weston Wamp has a new spot out featuring several senior citizens. They decry the problems in Washington, with one of them vaguely calling for "new blood and new ideas." Shockingly, the source of this fresh-idea blood bank is Wamp, the son of a former congressman. The ad does its best to connect Wamp to the World War II-era Greatest Generation without going overboard, though it still doesn't really fit. For some reason, the camera is aimed really close to many of its subjects' faces, which creates a (presumably unintended) sense of claustrophobia at times. (Jeff Singer)
• FL Redistricting: Despite last week's potentially big judicial ruling that threw out Florida's congressional map, it'll be a while before we actually see what any remedies actually look like. But in the meantime, Daily Kos Elections' Stephen Wolf, who thinks the decision's impact is not likely to be especially large, has come up with a few hypothetical maps that might satisfy the judge's complaints. And plaintiffs take note: There's some good material in there for use on appeal. Meanwhile, Matthew Isbell takes a more expansive view of what the ruling might mean and offers his own alternatives.
• Primaries: Primary season returns on Tuesday, with Republican primary runoffs in dark red AL-06 and NC-06. We preview both races here. We also have a look at the Alabama GOP runoff for state auditor, which features the return of the one and only Dale Peterson. A must-watch race, whether or not you give a rip about Alabama!
We also offer a preview of the rest of 2014's primaries to watch here. There are plenty of exciting races to look forward to from now until the final primaries on Sept. 9, and we'll likely see some surprises. (Jeff Singer)