After a quiet weekend edition of the Wrap, the Monday edition explodes with stories a-plenty about candidates getting into races, out of races, and mounds of data to mine, as well.
The Ras-a-Poll-ooza sets down in North Dakota, and looks at a Senate race that is on absolutely no one's radar. How very Ras-sy of them (in fairness, they also hit the potentially competitive gubernatorial race in Georgia).
All that and more as the Wrap kicks off a brand new week in the political arena...
CA-Sen: Fiorina way up in SUSA poll, but....
This one comes with a pretty big caveat, but SurveyUSA has polled the Golden State for a bunch of local media outlets, and finds Carly Fiorina up big in the Senate primary to challenge Barbara Boxer. The poll has Fiorina at 46%, followed by Tom Campbell (23%) and Chuck DeVore (14%). The big caveat: absolutely no one has polled a result similar to this one. Absent someone else confirming it, this has the faint whiff of an outlier, especially when paired with a gubernatorial primary poll with similarly counter-intuitive results (more on this later).
CO-Sen: GOP primary field shrinks, as Wiens stands down
Ken Buck's path to what would have been seen six months ago as an improbable insurgent victory just became immeasurably easier, as former state senator Tom Wiens shuttered his Senate campaign and endorsed the tea partier in the race (Buck). This might lead some to conclude that Wiens was far from having the signatures necessary to petition his way onto the ballot. Meanwhile, NRSC fave Jane Norton, the former state Lt. Governor, did not bother to contest this weekend's state convention, easily won by Buck. Buck has also improved his poll position in the GOP primary markedly. Watch this race closely. Meanwhile, during the weekend conventions, Andrew Romanoff parlayed his advantage with the state's activist base to a 60-40 win over incumbent Michael Bennet, although both met the threshold to remain on the primary ballot.
FL-Sen: Crist leads tight vote, with raft of undecided voters
A new poll out over the weekend from Ipsos (on behalf of a consortium of Florida media outlets) has GOP-turned-Independent Charlie Crist leading by three points in his bid to be the next Senator from Florida. Crist leads with just 30% of the vote, narrowly ahead of Republican Marco Rubio (27%). Democrat Kendrick Meek is a distant third with 15% of the vote, all but confirming that a significant share of the Democratic vote is heading to Crist. That said, there is still a lot of fluidity in this race, with nearly a third of voters still undecided.
IL-Sen: Jackson picking bad time for bipartisanship?
It is entirely possible, of course, that nothing will come from this. But Politico is reporting a pretty amazing rumor out of the Land of Lincoln: that longtime Chicago Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is considering an endorsement of Republican nominee Mark Kirk over Democratic nominee Alexi Giannoulias. When pressed on the issue by Politico, Jackson equivocated a tad, having nice things to say of both candidates.
KS-Sen: Moran pulling away, has big lead for GOP nod
As they have done often in the 2010 election cycle, the crew at SurveyUSA heads back to the Sunflower State to poll the competitive GOP primary for U.S. Senator (current Senator Sam Brownback is leaving DC to run for Governor). This month? This competitive race is looking...well...a great deal less competitive. Western Kansas Congressman Jerry Moran, once locked in a tight battle with Wichita Congressman Todd Tiahrt, now holds a 23-point lead over his fellow House mate.
NV-Sen: Nevada election officials crack down on...chicken garb?
The endless gratitude of Democrats (and...well...anyone who prizes political entertainment) should flow to election officials in the state of Nevada for keeping one of the greatest election oddities of 2010 alive. They felt the need to clarify Nevada election law, reminding people not to wear chicken costumes inside polling places. This, of course, is a reference to Nevada GOP Senate frontrunner (well, perhaps...former frontrunner) Sue Lowden, and her brilliant bartering scheme to save health care.
NY-Sen: Gillibrand leads, amid a whale of a conspiracy theory
The latest incarnation of the monthly poll conducted by Siena College shows what has been generally the state of the race for several months--Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand with huge leads (PDF file) over the trio of relatively minor GOP candidates in the field. She leads Joe DioGuardi (51-25), Bruce Blakeman (51-24), and David Malpass (53-22) by two-to-one margins or better. Given the inability of the GOP to find the fairway against Senator Gillibrand, it was perhaps only a matter of time before the grumbling began. But this particular breed of grumbling is pretty awesome. There is now a sweet conspiracy theory being peddled by some Republicans. The theory: NY GOP Chairman Edward Cox is basically conceding this 2010 race, because Gillibrand will be back up for re-election in 2012. And that will open a window of opportunity for...Cox's thirty-something son, Chris. Check out this quote from the Daily News:
"It's the most winnable race, but Ed hasn't come up with anybody who can beat Gillibrand," a Cox adversary tells us. "I think he's taking a dive for Chris. It's the only explanation."
WA-Sen: Murray leads Rossi by 4, approval solid, says WA Poll
On what appears to be the eve of the announcement from two-time gubernatorial candidate (and loser) Dino Rossi that he will seek the GOP nod for the U.S. Senate, a new Washington Poll shows him trailing the incumbent, Democratic incumbent Patty Murray. According to the poll (PDF file), Murray holds a four-point advantage (44-40) over Rossi. Furthermore, when the numbers are limited to just those who are certain of their selection, the lead for Patty Murray doubles (36-28), suggesting some degree of soft support for Rossi. Murray is sitting on a fairly decent approval rating, as well, with a 51/34 job approval spread. Rossi cannot count much on Obama fatigue in the Evergreen State, either. The President enjoys a 58/39 approval spread in the state.
WI-Sen: A battered Leinenkugel drops Senate bid, endorses Johnson
After only a month in the Republican field challenging Democratic incumbent, businessman Dick Leinenkugel made the surprise decision to back away from a bid. On the way out the door, he endorsed businessman Ron Johnson, who jumped into the race a couple of weeks after Leinenkugel. Leinenkugel cited the desire not to split the Republican Party in his decision. In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, however, another reason became evident: the beating Leinenkugel had taken from both his opponents and conservative talk radio for having worked in the administration of Democratic Governor Jim Doyle. He referred to conservative talk radio for being fueled by "hatred, not anger," and suggested that the GOP could not be successfully so narrowly defined.
HI-01: Did NRCC pull an "Operation Chaos" in special election?
As Markos wrote about this morning, Republican Charles Djou rode a split Democratic vote to a narrow special election victory on Saturday night in Hawaii's 1st Congressional district. His 39.4% of the vote was far less than the combined vote share (which topped out over 58%) for Democratic frontrunners Colleen Hanabusa and Ed Case. Alex Isenstadt of Politico uncovers an interesting joint effort from the Djou campaign and the NRCC. According to Isenstadt, the two entities worked together to foment some intraparty anger. They constructed ads designed to inflame progressive anger towards Ed Case, who they concluded was the Democrat more likely to compete with Djou in the special. In other HI-01 news, it now looks like everyone is in the boat for September--Ed Case confirmed today that he will continue to run for Congress in the wake of his disappointing third-place finish.
ID-01: Lots of undecideds add uncertainty to tomorrow's primary
Tomorrow's primary slate (Idaho is alone on the calendar tomorrow) lacks the excitement to require its own preview, but there is at least one race to keep an eye on tomorrow. It is the Republican primary to determine the opponent for potentially vulnerable Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick in the conservative 1st district of Idaho. And...lo and behold...we have new data in that race, courtesy of Mason Dixon. The poll shows that over a third of voters are still undecided in a race that looks to be a toss-up. Vaughn Ward leads the field with 31% of the vote, but state legislator Raul Labrador is within the margin of error, polling at 28% of the vote.
IN-03: GOP governor leaning towards November special election
You might recall the avalanche of righteous indignation from Republicans upon hearing the news several weeks ago that New York's Democratic Governor, David Paterson, was planning to wait until the November general elections to fill the seat of departed (via resignation) Democratic Rep. Eric Massa. As it turns out, the Republican Governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels, is seriously contemplating the same move in Indiana's 3rd Congressional district. Mark Souder, of course, resigned the seat in disgrace last week when it was learned that he had pursued an extramarital affair with a staffer. Now, Daniels, citing budgetary constraints, is considering having the special election coincide with the November general elections, at a savings of upwards of a million dollars. Budgetary realities is what also motivated Paterson's decision, as well as that of Pennsylvania's Ed Rendell to hold the PA-12 special election on the state's primary day.
NC-08: Is labor hunting for a Indie bid against Kissell?
Can't fault the motivation in this case, but the timing is less than desirable. According to the always-excellent Greg Sargent, the SEIU is lobbing a bomb at the feet of anti-HCR Democratic freshman Larry Kissell, in the form of a possible Independent challenger. According to Sargent, the union is in discussions with Wendell Fant, an Iraqi War veteran and former Kissell staffer who would go after his old boss from the left. A primary challenge is out of the question, of course, since North Carolina already held their primaries on May 4th. This could, of course, become a boon for the area's GOP if the Fant campaign materializes and gains any kind of traction. Kissell, who represents a swing district east of Charlotte, is one of the many incumbent Dems being targeted by the GOP. There is a runoff next month between former television broadcaster Harold Johnson and businessman Tim D'Annunzio (a candidate deep enough on the fringe that his own state party is rising up against him) to determine the GOP nominee.
CA-Gov: Call it Meg-mentum (or an outlier)?
The same SUSA poll that showed Carly Fiorina rocketing to the front of the Senate primary also showed a Meg Whitman surge that has not been seen by any other pollsters. SUSA has Whitman doubling up Steve Poizner by a 54-27 margin. Virtually every other pollster that has been in on this primary had Poizner right around ten points behind the free-spending frontrunner.
KS-Gov: A window of opportunity for Democrats?
SurveyUSA went into the field in Kansas as part of their regular rotation of states where they measure job approval. In so doing, they uncovered a stat that, conceivably, could point to an interesting race for Governor, if some enterprising Democrat can marshall some resources. Sam Brownback, one of the state's two U.S. Senators and the odds-on favorite to snag the GOP gubernatorial nomination, is sitting on mediocre job approval numbers. Currently, Brownback is sitting on 48% job approval, with 42% disapproving of his job performance.
FL-Gov: New Florida poll has gubernatorial election as a toss-up
The Florida poll cited above did not just look at the U.S. Senate race between Crist, Rubio, and Meek. It also looked at a potential gubernatorial general election trial heat between Republican Bill McCollum and Democrat Alex Sink. Keeping with current trends, the poll shows a definite tightening of this matchup. The poll, conducted by Ipsos for a consortium of Florida media outlets, had McCollum leading Sink by just two points (34-32). Of course, neither McCollum nor Sink are foregone conclusions for their party's nominations. Democrat Alex Sink could be facing a pair of challengers (including, potentially, the progeny of the last Democratic governor of the state: Lawton Chiles III), while hospital magnate Rick Scott is giving McCollum fits on the GOP side.
NY-Gov: Cuomo, now officially in, enjoys wide lead in Siena poll
Finally a declared candidate, Democratic state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is well out in front of the field to become the next Governor of New York, according to a new poll out from Siena College (PDF file). Cuomo holds a huge lead (66-24) over GOP primary frontrunner Rick Lazio, and holds similar leads over Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy (65-22) and businessman Carl Paladino (65-22). Interestingly, despite the hype over Democrat-turned-Republican Steve Levy, the GOP primary field has essentially frozen for the past month, with Levy (14%) running third behind both Lazio (41%) and Paladino (16%).
TX-Gov: Non-Ras poll has gubernatorial race within single digits
Less than a week after Rasmussen had Republican Governor Rick Perry with a double-digit lead and with a majority of the vote already in pocket, a new poll out today by the University of Texas paints a decidedly different picture of the race. The poll has Rick Perry out in front, but only by nine points, and well under the 50% threshold (44-35). This poll had more than double the undecided vote of that Rasmussen poll, as well.
WI-Gov: GOP frontrunner returns funds in campaign finance scandal
In a close election, these are the kind of headlines that presumably do not prove to be helpful. Scott Walker, the Milwaukee County Executive who is generally considered to be the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for Governor, was compelled to return nearly $44,000 in campaign donations. The reason? The donations came from the employees of railroad executive William Gardner, who had reimbursed those employees with company funds. This was a violation of Wisconsin state law, which bans donations from corporations.
As often happens, the House of Ras starts the week quietly. The only results released today (besides an eight-point GOP lead on their generic Congressional ballot test) were some potentially competitive numbers out of Georgia, plus a not-unexpected massive lead for GOP Governor John Hoeven in his bid to replace North Dakota Democrat Byron Dorgan in the United States Senate. It is the surest pickup of the 2010 election cycle, quite clearly.
GA-Gov: Nathan Deal (R) 47%, Roy Barnes (D) 40%
GA-Gov: John Oxendine (R) 43%, Roy Barnes (D) 39%
GA-Gov: Karen Handel (R) 42%, Roy Barnes (D) 39%
GA-Gov: Roy Barnes (D) 42%, Eric Johnson (D) 38%
GA-Gov: Nathan Deal (R) 47%, Thurbert Baker (D) 30%
GA-Gov: John Oxendine (R) 50%, Thurbert Baker (D) 29%
GA-Gov: Karen Handel (R) 43%, Thurbert Baker (D) 32%
GA-Gov: Eric Johnson (R) 42%, Thurbert Baker (D) 30%
ND-Sen: John Hoeven (R) 72%, Tracy Potter (D) 23%