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Leading Off:

ND-Sen: The DSCC is touting a fresh internal poll taken by the Mellman Group which shows newly-minted Democratic candidate Heidi Heitkamp leading freshman GOP Rep. Rick Berg 47-42 for the state's open Senate seat. Heitkamp also has much better favorables: 54-25 to Berg's 42-39—impressive numbers in their own right, but even more notable is Heitkamp's high name recognition, given that she hasn't held public office in over a decade. Obviously you expect a positive outlook for Democrats from a Democratic poll, but one thing which makes me inclined to credit this survey is that they included Obama numbers, something few internal polling memos bother to share. And they find the president trailing Mitt Romney by a 14-point margin, a plausible five points worse than his 2008 performance in the state. So I think these results merit some consideration.

Senate:

AZ-Sen: PPP's new Arizona Republican Senate primary poll looks very similar to the one we saw a day earlier from Magellan. They find Rep. Jeff Flake crushing with 53%, while businessman Wil Cardon is at 7, former Youngstown Mayor Bryan Hackbarth at 5, radio host Clair Van Steenwyk at 2, and businessman Douglas McKee at 1. Cardon's gonna have to dig deep into his own pockets to have any hope here—and even then, I'd be skeptical.

PA-Sen: PPP also has Republican Senate primary numbers for Pennsylvania:

Sam Rohrer: 25 (former state Rep.)
Tim Burns: 15 (businessman & two-time 2010 PA-12 GOP nominee)
Tom Smith: 3 (former coal company owner)
Laureen Cummings: 2 (Tea Party activist)
John Vernon: 1 (retired Army colonel)
Steve Welch: 1 (businessman)
Marc Scaringi: 0 (attorney and former Rick Santorum aide)
Someone else: 8 (keep dreaming)
Undecided: 43

House:

AL-02, AL Redistricting: In a short piece focused on news that the Justice Department has, as expected, granted pre-clearance to Alabama's new congressional map, Joshua Miller mentions in passing that Democrats "hope" state Rep. Joe Hubbard will challenge freshman GOPer Martha Roby next year… though man is that a tough district. While researching this possibility further, I also came across this USA Today piece which suggested that Roby "may face a rematch" from Bobby Bright, the man she unseated in 2010. That's the first I've heard about a possible Bright comeback bid, though this is about as thinly sourced as it gets.

AZ-04: We still don't know, of course, whether the redistricting commission's proposed congressional maps will become law, but it's starting to look like the giant red 4th district, which runs across almost the entire western border of the state before plunging deep into Arizona's mid-section, could feature a pretty serious Republican primary. GOP state Sen. Ron Gould (check out the 'stache) is the latest to show an interest in making the race; Greg Giroux noticed that he just filed papers with the FEC. As we've mentioned before, Rep. Paul Gosar could choose to seek re-election here rather than in the swingier 1st CD, and Pinal County Sherriff Paul Babeau is already raising some non-trivial cash.

IL-02: A Democratic firm out of Illinois called Fako & Associates is out with an interesting pair of polls on the 2nd CD Dem primary. Calling them "an internal test, not commissioned by any campaign or third party organization," Fako ran one survey via IVR and one survey using live interviewers. The robopoll found Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. leading ex-Rep. Debbie Halvorson by a 39-22 margin, while the live poll found JJJ up 35-18—an identical margin, just different levels of undecideds. Jackson also gets much higher favorability and job approval marks with live callers, while Halvorson's favorability is pretty much the same in both cases. Could there be social pressure toward telling another human being that you like Jesse Jackson?

MI-01 (PDF): The League of Conservation Voters commissioned PPP to take a poll of Michigan's 1st CD, and they find GOP freshman Dan Benishek leading a generic Democrat 44-42. (The LCV has also been running ads against Benishek.) Two non-generic Dems are already in the race: 2010 opponent Gary McDowell, a former state representative, and Derek Bailey, chairman of the Grand Traverse Bay Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.

NV-04: As expected, state Sen. John Lee will not run in the Democratic primary for Nevada's brand-new House seat and will instead seek re-election to his current post. (Just last week, Lee's campaign publicly suggested he might bail, which was a pretty obvious precursor to actually bailing.) That leaves state Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford with basically a free shot at Democratic nomination, though he'll face Republican state Sen. Barbara Cegavske in the general—or possibly Danny Tarkanian, a three-time unsuccessful candidate for office whose wife was elected state GOP chair earlier this year. (A Tarkanian run is still just at rumor level.)

Other Races:

LA Lege: Louisiana held legislative runoff elections this past Saturday and the net result was… nothin'. Though Republicans far outspent Democrats in the hopes of padding their relatively recent majorities, they didn't gain any seats, either in the general or the runoff, leaving them with a 24-15 edge in the Senate and a 58-45 margin (with two independents) in the House. This actually counts as a big victory of sorts for Democrats (especially white Democratic elected officials), whose future in the Pelican State has looked very dicey for quite some time. Not that I'd expect any serious inroads into GOP turf any time soon, but if this winds up being the Democratic floor in Louisiana, then that's less bad than many had feared.

But the fact that the overall numbers didn't change shouldn't obscure that there were nonetheless some big wins and losses in Saturday's runoff. KingofSpades points us to Democrat Stephen Ortego, who beat Republican Don Menard 55-45, after Menard led the first round 45-35. Ortego, who at just 27 will become the youngest member of the state House, won in spite of endorsements for Menard by Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. David Vitter. And I loved this closing bit from The Ind's writeup:

As for what’s to come, Ortego’s answer echoes from one of his biggest campaign platforms — preservation of French and Cajun culture.

“C’est pas fini,” he says.

Or as Ed Rooney might say, "Les jeux sont faits!"

Portland Mayor: It's a strange about-face from Portland, OR police chief Mike Reese, who after several weeks of acting like he was about to get into next year's mayoral race, just declared yesterday that he wouldn't be a candidate. Blue Oregon's Kari Chisholm wonders if the police department's troubles in dealing with the Occupy movement may have taken some of the bloom of Reese's nascent law 'n' order candidacy. (David Jarman)

Grab Bag:

Pennsylvania: That Republican plan to change Pennsylvania from a winner-take-all system for its electoral votes to a scheme which would divvy them up by congressional district looks nearly dead. GOP Gov. Tom Corbett says: "I see no movement on it. I'm not going to push for movement, but I still support it." Meanwhile, the bill's sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, adds: "I do not believe there will be sufficient time to advance it this year." Pretty much the entire Republican House delegation expressed opposition to the plan, so its future had long been in doubt regardless.

VA-St. Sen.: I'm pretty skeptical that this has any chance, but Virginia Democrats say they plan to file suit over the extent of GOP Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling's tie-breaking powers in the newly-divided state Senate. Sen. Donald McEachin and Democratic Leader Dick Saslaw explain their thinking:

McEachin said Virginia's Constitution is unclear whether the lieutenant governor, an official of the executive branch of government who presides over the Senate, can vote on Senate organizational matters because he's not a senator.

While the right of lieutenant governors to break Senate ties on general legislation is unchallenged, Saslaw said lieutenant governors in the past have declined to vote on the state budget and judicial elections. In those cases, Saslaw said, the Constitution specifies a vote only "by a majority of those elected" for passage. They contend the same is true in organizing the Senate.

"This lieutenant governor says there's nothing he can't vote on. So it's not just a matter of this year; it ought to get settled for all time, and that's the purpose behind this," Saslaw said in a telephone news conference Monday morning.

This seems like the kind of issue, though, that the courts would be very likely to put on the grounds that it represents a "political question" not suitable for judicial intervention.

Voter Suppression: Rick Hasen inducts Artur Davis into the "Fraudulent Fraud Squad" for this latest load of b.s.:

“What I have seen in my state, in my region, is the the most aggressive practitioners of voter-fraud are local machines who are tied lock, stock and barrel to the special interests in their communities — the landfills, the casino operators — and they’re cooking the [ballot] boxes on election day, they’re manufacturing absentee ballots, they’re voting [in the names of] people named Donald Duck, because they want to control politics and thwart progress.”

Hasen nails him:

Let’s see some proof, or at least some names, Mr. Davis, as to voter fraud actually happening today in significant numbers aside from absentee voter fraud, which is the main source of voter fraud but one about which voter identification laws do nothing.

In fact, I’d like to see proof of a single vote in his region of someone voting in the name of “Donald Duck” (not to mention proof that doing so will allow “them” to “control politics and thwart progress”).

Redistricting Roundup:

AZ Redistricting, AZ-Gov: Do you remember how Jabba (via C-3PO) promised that Han, Luke & Co. would find a "a new definition of pain and suffering" as they were digested in the belly of the sarlacc? Well, I think Jan Brewer is coming up with some new definitions of chutzpah as she blazes forward with an attempt to re-impeach redistricting commissioner Colleen Mathis. She's now asking the Arizona Supreme Court to stay its reinstatement of Mathis pending the court's issuance of a full opinion on the matter—so that Brewer and her minions can be better-armed as they try to remove Mathis a second time. In response, the organizers of the successful effort to recall GOP state Senate President Russell Pearce are starting to gear up for a recall of Brewer herself. Click the link for our full post on all of these developments at Daily Kos Elections.

Related to all this, PPP has a bunch of new findings about Brewer, the redistricting debacle, and a potential recall. First, the good news (for us—it's bad news for Brewer):

Only 31% of voters support Brewer removing Colleen Mathis as chair of the Redistricting Commission, to 43% who oppose her move. Republicans agree with what Brewer did by a 54/16 margin but Democrats are even more unified in their displeasure with her action, 13/72. Independents think Brewer did the wrong thing by a 19/41 margin as well. […]

Brewer's approval rating has sunk to 42% with 49% of voters disapproving of her. The last time PPP found her with numbers that bad was in April of 2010, shortly before the signing of Senate Bill 1070, when she was at 35/46. There are two things helping to drive Brewer's poor ratings: Democrats (77%) are more unified in their disapproval of her than Republicans (69%) are in their approval and independents split against her by a 34/51 margin as well.

And then the not-so-good news:

The unhappiness with Brewer's actions shouldn't be taken as an endorsement by the Arizona electorate of the Congressional maps that the Commission proposed. Only 25% of voters express support for the proposed lines with 34% opposed to them and an unsurprising 42% holding no opinion on this decidedly insider baseball issue. Voters don't necessarily disagree with Brewer that the House map was flawed, they just disagree with the action she took to deal with the problem. […]

Despite Brewer's declining poll numbers there's little support for a recall of her. Only 32% of voters would support such a move to 58% who are opposed. There are a lot of voters [who] don't like Brewer, but don't think she should be removed from office either. This is particularly clear with independents who oppose a recall 25/59, even as they simultaneously give Brewer poor marks for her job performance.


Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Wed Nov 23, 2011 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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