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Leading Off:

UT-04: Utah-based pollster Dan Jones & Associates has a new survey out showing Dem Rep. Jim Matheson with solid leads over all of his declared Republican opponents—Carl Wimmer, Stephen Sandstrom, Mia Love and Jay Cobb—in the new 4th District:

Dan Jones poll results
Perhaps even more impressively, Matheson has an astounding 64-26 favorability rating, which would be enviable anywhere, let alone in dark-red Utah.

One note of caution is that the poll has a rather small sample size, just 341. For some reason, the poll's sponsors, Deseret News & KSL-TV, say it has a margin of error of 5 percent, but it's actually more like 5.3%.That also means you should view the GOP primary results very skeptically, since the Republican sub-sample is much smaller still. What's more, the numbers are framed pretty oddly in that graphic (they don't appear to be reported in the article): The "primary" breakdown includes 41% who say they don't even plan to vote in the Republican primary, period, so I'm really not sure what to make of this.

Also, tietack reminds us of this observation by twohundertseventy: Dan Jones's polling of the last three competitive races Utah has seen has been way off. Needless to say, Jim Matheson and the DCCC clearly hope that's not the case here.

House:

AZ-09: Former Tempe Mayor Neil Giuliano, who first floated his name as a potential Democratic candidate in the new 9th CD back in November, announced last week in a blog post that he would not run, saying "the timing is not right." Giuliano is CEO of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, though he still lives in Tempe. When he was first elected in 1994, he was the youngest mayor in the city's history; now in his mid-50s, he's still holding the door open to a possible return to office in the future.

NJ-05, NJ-09: With New Jersey's new congressional map in place, the big question is, what will Dem Rep. Steve Rothman do? If he plans to seek re-election, he has two choices: run against GOP Rep. Scott Garrett in a decidedly unfriendly 5th, or face off against fellow Dem Rep. Bill Pascrell in the 9th, where he already represents a little more than half of the constituents in the redrawn district. To make matters more complicated, the revised 5th contains Rothman's current hometown of Fair Lawn, but the new 9th includes the city of Englewood, where he served as mayor in the 1980s.

At age 74, it's also possible that Pascrell might step down, but he put out a statement on Friday saying that he intends to run for another term. Meanwhile, Rothman (who is only 59) is still weighing his options, saying only that he'll have an announcement "in the near future." [EDIT: This item originally referred to the new district where Pascrell and Rothman might face off as the 8th. The 8th is Pascrell's current district, but his home is in the new 9th, which is also the site of a potential primary with Rothman.]

Other Races:

NY-St. Sen.: Colin Campbell, as he always does, has a good link roundup for the SD-27 special election in New York's closely-divided state Senate, a race necessitated by the resignation of Sen. Carl Kruger after he pled guilty to charges of corruption. One noteworthy development: NYC Councilman Lew Fidler all but confirmed his plans to run on Facebook, and Brooklyn party leader Vito Lopez likewise said Fidler is going to be the Democrats' choice.

Grab Bag:

WATN?: NPR caught up with former South Carolina Rep. Bob Inglis, who lost in the Republican primary last year. He spent the past semester at Harvard University's Institute of Politics, trying to get conservatives to take climate change seriously (a key reason why he got bounced from office). He also offered this amusing take on his electoral fortunes:

I mean, if you look at it, I'm chairman of the local losers club. And there are not many of us in the fraternity. There's only two of us in the House that weren't re-elected that wanted to be re-elected. So, it is a small fraternity. And so, it makes you feel a little bit like a moron.

I think the "club" he's referring to is House Republicans who weren't renominated in 2010, so I guess this makes Alabama turncoat Parker Griffith sergeant-at-arms of this distinguished organization.

Redistricting Roundup:

CA Redistricting: I strongly recommend this new piece by Calitics' Robert Cruickshank, who eviscerates ProPublica's truly feeble "Q&A" response to critics of its new California redistricting report with aplomb. Here's an example of how lame ProPublica's pushback is:

If California Democrats actually succeeded in manipulating the redistricting commission, then why did some Democratic incumbents lose?

Our story did not assert that every Democrat got what they wanted from the Commission. Indeed, we noted that Democrats faced a particularly difficult challenge getting what they wanted in densely populated, ethnically diverse Southern California.

Still, fewer Democrats might have lost than it seems.

Some have argued, for instance, that the high-profile retirement of Rep. Lynn Woolsey, in Northern California, was a result of redistricting.

But as it turns out, Woolsey announced her retirement before the lines were completed, and has said redistricting had nothing to do with her decision.

For example, some uninformed people believed something that manifestly wasn't true. Since it's not true, this criticism is without merit! Cruickshank shreds them much more deftly, though, so definitely read him. He also has a piece on ProPublica reportedly ignoring expert advice they were given about demographic gains among Democrats (something they studiously ignored in their original report), and a general backgrounder on the flaws in PP's original analysis, all good links.

GA Redistricting: The Justice Department granted preclearance to Georgia's new congressional and legislative maps on Friday, but Democrats are nevertheless likely to sue to have that decision overturned. The state had also intended to seek to have Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (the provision which requires preclearance in the first place) declared unconstitutional in a parallel preclearance suit, but the DOJ's ruling short-circuits that attempt for now. Of course, if Democrats do indeed bring a case, Georgia will once again have a chance to make constitutional arguments.

MD Redistricting: Unsurprisingly, a three-judge panel in Maryland upheld the state's new congressional map against a challenge by a group of African-American voters who were funded by a conservative front group called the Legacy Foundation. The court was unmoved by plaintiffs' argument that the legislature should have drawn a third majority-black district, and also turned back claims that the map constituted an unconstitutional political gerrymander—a type of claim which the Supreme Court has said can't be properly ruled upon because there is no way to articulate a standard about what is and isn't permissible.

Judge Roger Titus, though, while agreeing with the court's decision, nonetheless complained about this state of affairs in a concurring opinion, calling the map "a blatant political gerrymander" and adding that if he legally could have, he "would not have hesitated to strike down the Maryland plan." Titus, a George W. Bush appointee, then launched into a tirade about the new 6th CD that makes him sound like the embittered spawn of Jeff Foxworthy and David Brooks:

Those who have an interest in farming, mining, tourism, paper production, and the hunting of bears, are paired with voters who abhor the hunting of bears and do not know what a coal mine or paper mill even looks like.

In a separate (and much smarter) concurrence, Judge Alexander Williams (a Clinton appointee, natch) dismantles Titus's kvetching about political gerrymandering claims, and also delicately points out how absurd it is for a bunch of Democrats to complain about a plan which benefits their own party.

One of the most striking aspects of Plaintiffs‘ partisan gerrymander claim is its strange alliance between African- American voters and Republican officials. […]Although Plaintiffs never specify their political affiliation, the pleadings, briefs, and record contain all the trappings that would lead one to plausibly conclude that Plaintiffs are Democrats. […] This atypical dynamic—where the plaintiffs argue a plan benefiting their party constitutes unconstitutional political gerrymandering—differs from other partisan gerrymander claims.

I believe "atypical dynamic" is polite judge-speak for "you've gotta be kidding me."

The link to the Maryland opinion is here (PDF).

MS Redistricting: As expected, none of the parties to Mississippi's congressional redistricting suit filed objections to the map proposed by the court, which means the plan will likely soon get finalized. (Incidentally, when a court draws a map for a jurisdiction covered by Section 5 of the VRA—which Mississippi is—it does not need to obtain preclearance via the DOJ.)

NJ Redistricting: Once again, Jeff has been working hard, and he's produced a fancy Google Maps version of New Jersey's new congressional redistricting plan:

And, to go along with the map, we have our usual population distribution analysis:
Bookmark this link for all of our Google Maps and this link for all of our distribution analyses.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Dec 27, 2011 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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