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Leading Off:

WI-Gov: A brand-new Marquette Law School poll has GOP Gov. Scott Walker up just 48-47 over Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett among likely voters, though former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk trails by a wider margin, 49-43. Barrett also leads Falk 38-21 in the Democratic primary. What's particularly interesting is that the race has actually tightened since Marquette's last poll, in spite of the fact that Walker has spent $8.6 million since January (not counting what his allies have forked out)—vastly more than Democrats have. However, Democrats actually perform slightly better among registered voters, suggesting there may be a small but important enthusiasm gap favoring the other side. Click through for all the numbers and our full analysis at Daily Kos Elections.

Senate:

CT-Sen: Zillionaire wrestling impresario Linda McMahon is digging into her bottomless pockets to air her first ad of the election, a 60-second biographical spot in which she discusses her humble roots and tries to explain why they give her empathy for "people who are struggling." (McMahon, as you know, is attempting a second consecutive Senate bid, after her first attempt in 2010 ended in double-digit failure despite the year's strong Republican tide and the $50 million she spent on her own behalf.) You can watch the ad at the link.

FL-Sen: If Herman Cain endorses George LeMieux and Michele Bachmann endorses Connie Mack, does that sort of cancel each other out, or does it cause some kind of horrible matter/anti-matter explosion that breaches the warp core of the USS Wingnut? I guess we're due for a report from main engineering soon enough, because this odd turn of events did, in fact, just happen. What strikes me most, though, is that Mack actually wants Bachmann's backing. She's an anvil around his neck for the general election, and at best only helps him in the Republican primary. Mack's been under siege for a while, but does he actually need assistance in locking down the GOP nod? That would be... (* raises eyebrow *) fascinating.

IN-Sen: Conventional wisdom at this point has pretty much written Richard Lugar off, but here's a new poll of the race that has him not looking quite dead yet. Take it with a grain of salt, though: it's taken on behalf of a PAC called Lunch Pail Republicans, who "announced its support for Lugar" at the same time as unveiling the poll. The poll, a one-day sample taken by Republican-linked pollster Magellan, gives Lugar a 2-point lead over Richard Mourdock in the Senate primary, 44-42. (Magellan typically does robo-polls, but because this is Indiana, they used live callers.) (David Jarman)

MA-Sen: Democrat Elizabeth Warren has a new ad out, which mostly features President Obama praising her and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau she was instrumental in creating. Warren speaks directly to the camera at the end, saying the bureau's creation shows "We can take on the big guys and win." You can watch the ad at the link.

MO-Sen: Dem Sen. Claire McCaskill's new ad goes after "secret money" spent by "big oil and insurance companies" to attack her. McCaskill turns it around and attacks these special interests, saying they want to "end Medicare as we know it, cut student loans for college, and keep giving taxpayer subsidies to the big oil companies" and promises to fight them. You can watch the ad at the link.

NE-Sen: The Club for Growth, which is supporting Treasurer Don Stenberg in the GOP primary, is out with a new ad (their third of the race), attacking AG Jon Bruning for his various conservative apostasies, including (so they claim) supporting "a national government-run healthcare plan." Meanwhile, Sen. Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund (another pro-Stenberg group) is also running a new TV spot that is about as pure pabulum as you can get, merely saying that Stenberg is "different" from other politicians. This piece of garbage is backed by a hefty $250K buy. You can watch both ads at their respective links.

TX-Sen: Ted Cruz may have tons of conservative enthusiasm behind his bid for Senate, but that energy hasn't quite been matched by equal sums of money. So yeah, he's throwing half a mil behind two new ads on broadcast TV, but in a state the size of Texas, that's not really a whole lot. One of the spots (you can watch both at the link) tries to go on the offensive against frontrunner David Dewhurst, who's been busy attacking Cruz, basically calling him a closet liberal; the other (featuring the same set of actors each speaking in half-size, quick-cut sound-bites) touts Cruz's right-wing bonafides.

Personally, I think Dewhurst's ad (which came out a couple of weeks ago) is stronger: He goes after Cruz for representing a Chinese company found liable by a jury for stealing trade secrets from an American inventor. (In an amusing bit of "disclosure," I used to work at the same law firm Cruz did, albeit in a different office. I guess you could call us former colleagues!) This is a difficulty lawyers often have when they run for office: You can believe in the adversarial system all you want, but in the political arena, a shady client list can drag you down—so you can see why Cruz wants to change the topic of conversation.

VA-Sen: As Tom Jensen puts it: "Things that have gotten really boring by this point in the cycle: writing up the results of Virginia Senate polls." No kidding. Here are PPP's latest numbers (4/26-29, MoE: ±3.8%, 12/10-12 results):

Tim Kaine (D): 46 (47)
George Allen (R): 45 (42)
Undecided: 9 (11)
While it's unsurprising to see a VA-Sen poll showing the race deadlocked, it is, however, a bit notable that Kaine's five-point lead in December—one of the largest he's ever sported—has been whittled back down to just one point. It's all the more notable since Barack Obama's six-point margin over Mitt Romney in that earlier survey has now increased to eight. Tom points out, though, that Romney's favorables (a disastrous 38-52) are far worse than Allen's (38-38). But if Obama does prevail by eight percent in November, it's hard see Allen prevailing against that headwind, just as it's also hard to imagine Kaine only scoring 68-21 among black voters, as he does in this poll.

Gubernatorial:

NC-Gov: Another poll finds Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton in the lead in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, this one from SurveyUSA. Dalton's at 32 while ex-Rep. Bob Etheridge is at 23, fairly similar to PPP's recent numbers. There's also polling on a whole bunch of other races at the link, including the lt. gov. primary and the anti-gay marriage/anti-civil unions Amendment 1, which unfortunately is passing by a 57-37 margin.

Over on the Republican side, it's easy to forget that Pat McCrory faces a primary before being the GOP's gubernatorial nominee in North Carolina. Based on PPP's newest poll, McCrory may have forgotten that himself; he's at 66% with none of his Some Dude-level opponents above 4%. With the exception of Stephen Troxler, the Ag Commissioner and only GOP incumbent running statewide, it looks like every other downballot race is headed for a runoff in order to pick a Republican nominee. Unless you're a close student of North Carolina politics, PPP's writeup is a blur of names you've never heard of. (David Jarman)

House:

CA-15: Dem Rep. Pete Stark is at it again: In a Tuesday meeting with the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board, he wrongfully accused Debra Saunders, a Republican who writes the paper's "Token Conservative" blog, of having donated to the campaign of his primary opponent, Eric Swalwell. When asked to provide evidence for his claim, Stark paged through a pile of research materials (which he oddly said had been prepared by "a 16-year-old investigative reporter"—his own son) before admitting he had incorrectly named Saunders. He then tried to point to former Dublin City Councilwoman Claudia McCormick and claimed she worked for the Chronicle, but that was wrong, too. You can watch the entire awkward exchange below:

CA-52, San Diego Mayor: Now this is an interesting development. In the previous digest, we noted that Rep. Bob Filner, who is running for mayor of San Diego, endorsed port commissioner Scott Peters, who in turn is running against Republican Rep. Brian Bilbray. Peters' chief rival for the privilege of taking on Bilbray is former Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, whose campaign responded rather intemperately to the news of Filner's support for Peters, saying: "This is one failing campaign trying to prop up another failing campaign."

That earned Saldana a rebuke from labor leaders and others supporting Filner's campaign, but in a clever bit of jiu-jitsu, she's now turned around and endorsed Filner herself, in spite of some past history between them. That move boxed Peters in rather neatly, because he's actually refusing to return the favor for Filner, claiming he's "friends with three of the top candidates" and won't pick between them. This is a bit of a problem, though, because Filner is the only Democrat running for mayor—the other two that Peters is referring to are a Republican (Bonnie Dumanis) and a Republican-recently-turned-independent (Nathan Fletcher). So now Saldana gets to look like the good Democrat and team player, while Peters is seen as privileging his personal relationships—and a desire to appear tri-partisan—over supporting his own party.

FL-22: This is extremely unusual: The DCCC is openly taking sides in the Democratic primary in Florida's redrawn 22nd District, on behalf of former West Palm Beach mayor Lois Frankel over Broward County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs. Frankel's been running here for almost the entire cycle and has been a monster fundraiser; Jacobs only got in late, after the seat was made bluer and GOP Rep. Allen West fled northward to an easier district. But the rationale for Jacobs' candidacy was never clear, and Frankel continued to swamp her on the money front and in polling (an internal had her up 46-16).

So now the D-Trip is naming Frankel one of their "Majority Makers," a category they usually reserve for districts they expect to win handily, and DCCC chair Steve Israel is even doing a fundraiser for her. I do have to wonder why they're interceding, though. Are they concerned about Frankel having to waste resources on a primary that would be better off directed at Republican Adam Hasner in the general election? Or do they think that Jacobs is somehow less electable but worry that she might be able to pull an upset and win the nomination? Or perhaps they're just getting Frankel's back to reward for a solid year of hard work. It's just impossible to know.

IN-05: That was quick: Just a day after announcing their support for ex-Rep. David McIntosh in the GOP primary, the Campaign for Primary Accountability is up with $64K in mailers and web ads on his behalf.

MI-03: Democrat Steve Pestka, who had earned a "0" from Planned Parenthood during the second of his two terms in the state legislature a decade ago, says that his views have evolved since that time and that while he considers himself "personally pro-life," he does not "believe in making abortion illegal." He also adds that he does not support de-funding Planned Parenthood, and cites his experience on the bench (he served as a family court judge after leaving office) as a reason for his changed stance. Pestka's been criticized for his legislative record on abortion by his primary opponent, Trevor Thomas. The two are vying to take on GOP freshman Justin Amash.

NJ-10: Progressive activist organization Democracy for America just endorsed Newark city councilman Ron Rice in his bid to fill the seat of the late Donald Payne. Rice is running in the Democratic primary against several other contenders, and in this solid blue seat, winning the Dem nomination is tantamount to winning the entire election.

NY-18: A good get for attorney Sean Maloney as he seeks the Democratic nod in the 18th District: The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund just announced that they're endorsing him.

PA-12: Many people seemed caught off guard by Mark Critz's narrow victory over Jason Altmire in the Democratic primary last week, so here's some helpful background from Keystone Politics on just what organized labor did to juice turnout for Critz. It shows the sheer scope of the manpower involved in unions' on-the-ground and phonebanking efforts, but it also shows there's some upside to Citizens United, which allows unions, not just corporations, to get into the Super PAC business. And that's just what the AFL-CIO did here, with the creation of the Workers' Voice PAC, although it's one super PAC that's more oriented toward voter information gathering and GOTV than barnstorming the airwaves with attack ads. (David Jarman)

Grab Bag:

Connecticut: Here's hoping! A bill that would allow election-day voter registration just passed the Connecticut state House, and while similar bills have advanced to various stages before, the situation looks better than it ever has before. The Senate also needs to sign off on the bill, but if they do, Gov. Dan Malloy has promised to sign it. (Prior efforts ran aground in large part due to the 16-year string of Republican governors the state endured until Malloy's election last cycle.)

Nevada: I'm not sure how Nevada's registration statistics became some sort of swing state bellwether that pundits follow eagerly... maybe it's just because they get released so frequently and diligently... but the Democratic registration edge in the rapidly-bluening state is continuing to grow apace as we ramp up toward November. In the last month, Dems gained 3,915 new voters, while the GOP gained 2,277; the overall Dem advantage is about 36,000. (David Jarman)

NRCC: Those of you who were with us for the Swing State Project days may remember the fun we had with Tom Cole's constant woes as head of the NRCC during the 2008 cycle. As speculation turns to who'll head the NRCC next cycle (with Pete Sessions stepping down after having led it for two cycles), interestingly, Cole's name is near the top of the list. Apparently he's repaired his relationship with John Boehner (and distance from 2008 may have helped people realize that there wasn't much Cole could have done to stop that wave). Oregon's Greg Walden seems to be at the very top of the list, though. (David Jarman)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu May 03, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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