• House Race Ratings: As we've had time to digest the results from California's primaries on Tuesday, Daily Kos Elections has decided to update five House race ratings. Two are in the Democrats' direction, and three are in the Republicans' direction—one extremely so.
CA-10 from Likely R to Lean R: Democratic astronaut Jose Hernandez's 29% wasn't that imposing on paper, but that was held down by an independent bid from Chad Condit (son of Gary Condit, the former Modesto-area Democratic Rep. whose family name may still have some conservaDem appeal) that racked up 15%. The most important number here, though, is that Republican incumbent Jeff Denham only polled 48%, without any other GOPer on the ballot siphoning votes from him; not a positive sign, especially considering how low Dem turnout was.
CA-21 from Tossup to Likely R: The apparent loss of preferred Democratic candidate Blong Xiong here, and the dominant (57%) performance by Republican state Asm. David Valadao, makes Democratic hopes here pretty slim. Businessman John Hernandez may have a good surname for running in this mostly-Latino swing district, but his fundraising (he finished the primary $8,000 in debt; Xiong had some weaknesses but at least could raise money) and the general indifference to his campaign suggests that Dems aren't likely to make a big play here anymore.
CA-31: I'm not sure I've ever seen a race turn around from Tossup to Safe R in one fell swoop before, but that's what we're left with after the Top 2 primary in California's San Bernardino-based 31st district. Despite this being, on its face, a Dem-leaning district with a Hispanic plurality, the vagaries of the top 2 system wound up giving us two Republicans for the ballot in November: Rep. Gary Miller and state Sen. Bob Dutton. Miller and Dutton finished at 27 and 25 respectively, with Redlands mayor Pete Aguilar, the Dem expected to finish in the top 2, narrowly behind at 23, getting hosed by the presence of three other minor Dems (one of whom, Justin Kim, got 13%). A write-in candidacy isn't possible under the new law, so one of the GOPers will be the new congressman here.
The good news is that this is the only place in California where the Top 2 primary blew up in our faces, but it looks like the DCCC was so focused on preventing this from happening in CA-26 that they let CA-31 fly under the radar, and it doesn't seem like local Dems foresaw this possibility. We can also take some comfort in that this will still be a good pickup opportunity in 2014, when there will presumably be only one Republican (whichever of Miller or Dutton wins the '12 general) on the primary ballot, but for now this counts as a royal Dem screwup.
CA-41 from Lean D to Tossup: On paper, this is the state's best pickup opportunity for the Dems, an open seat with a Latino majority that went 59% for Obama in 2008. However, the GOPer here, Riverside Co. Supervisor John Tavaglione, put up strong numbers in the primary, 45% to Dem Mark Takano's 36% (and it went 55-45 in favor of the GOP, adding up all the minor candidates). Hispanic turnout will probably be better in November, but this isn't looking like much of a slam dunk anymore.
CA-52 from Lean R to Tossup: Republican Rep. Brian Bilbray has seemed a decent bet to retain this San Diego-area seat (despite it having moved from 45% to 55% Obama), but his Tuesday numbers don't look the least bit convincing. He polled at a mere 41%, while the top 2 Dems here, Scott Peters (who'll probably advance) and Lori Saldana combined for 45. There were some minor-league teabaggers eating up some of Bilbray's share, but the overall GOP share was only 50%.
Chris Murphy (D): 46 (52)Democratic primary (MoE: ±4.2%):
Linda McMahon (R): 43 (37)
Undecided: 9 (9)
Chris Murphy (D): 45 (41)
Chris Shays (R): 37 (40)
Undecided: 15 (17)
Susan Bysiewicz (D): 42 (49)
Linda McMahon (R): 46 (39)
Undecided: 9 (9)
Susan Bysiewicz (D): 40 (42)
Chris Shays (R): 44 (43)
Undecided: 11 (13)
Chris Murphy (D): 50 (37)Republican primary (MoE: ±5.0%):
Susan Bysiewicz (D): 20 (25)
William Tong (D):—(4)
Undecided: 24 (29)
Linda McMahon (R): 59 (51)Quinnipiac's new poll of the Connecticut Senate race has some weird quirks about it, but all of them seem to relate to Linda McMahon having somehow completely rehabilitated herself. Nothing seems to have happened in the race in the intervening months other than McMahon (who lost by a pretty wide margin in 2010 to Richard Blumenthal) having run some boilerplate re-introductory ads, so the reasons for this happening are a mystery (considering that her nonstop ad blitz in 2010 just seemed to irritate more and more people as it continued).
Chris Shays (R): 30 (42)
Undecided: 9 (6)
At any rate, McMahon is now beating Chris Shays by a wider margin in the GOP primary, is now coming fairly close to likely Dem nominee Chris Murphy in the general (a complete reversal from March, when Murphy was stomping McMahon but running only slightly ahead of the more moderate Shays), and even above water on her favorables at 45/38, quite the change from 40/44 in March.
The new sample is a bit more Republican at the presidential level, but nowhere near the 12-point swing seen in the Murphy/McMahon matchup, going from a 53-37 Obama lead in March to a 50-38 lead now. There's one spot of good news, though: Murphy has also expanded his lead on ex-SoS Susan Bysiewicz in the Dem primary, which isn't looking competitive at all.
• FL-Sen: John Ellis Bush endorses Cornelius Harvey McGillicudy IV. (Shorter version: Jeb! backs Mack.) That's the latest news from Florida, where Connie Mack's sputtering bid could use some shoring up from the Republican establishment. Meanwhile, he 60 Plus Association (the "conservative alternative to AARP") is going up on the air with a new ad that attacks Dem Sen. Bill Nelson with a litany of familiar lies and distortions. Size of the buy: a hefty $1.1 million. (James L)
• OH-Sen: The 60 Plus-ers are also on the prowl in Ohio, with an ad similar to their FL-Sen spot attacking Democrat Sherrod Brown. (Although, it does feature some notable variances – including the fact that it attempts to tie Brown to Obama and George W. Bush!) Size of the buy: A million freakin' dollars. (James L)
• PA-Sen (PDF): Franklin & Marshall is out with one of their patented more-undecideds-than-you-can-shake-a-stick-at polls of the Keystone State, but it's good news for Dems, and more fuel for the frequent conversation topic of the last week: that Pennsylvania's not looking like much of a swing state this year. The topline is that Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney 48-36, but it also includes a Pennsylvania Senate portion, and they find that Dem incumbent Bob Casey Jr. leads wealthy Republican collier Tom Smith 42-21. Smith is still languishing at 77% unknowns.
• UT-Sen: Dan Liljenquist, the Republican ex-state senator running an insurgent primary campaign against veteran Sen. Orrin Hatch, is out with a new ad that features Liljenquist leaning against a retro TV that looks a lot like the one my parents had in our basement way back in the day. Liljenquist criticizes Hatch for voting to raise the debt ceiling "16 times." Meanwhile, Freedom Path, a pro-Hatch PAC, is out with a new ad that criticizes Liljenquist for missing 24% of the votes in the state senate. (Size of the buy: $53K.) For a Republican primary audience, though, I think Liljenquist's attack has more bite. (James L)
Tim Kaine (D): 44 (47)I'm not sure we really need another poll showing Tim Kaine with a within-the-margin-of-error lead over George Allen in the Virginia Senate race, but here we are. Now, it's Quinnipiac's turn; they give Kaine a 1-point lead, down from a 3-point lead in March. They're about matched on favorables: Kaine's at 44/28 and Allen's at 41/27. This one looks like it'll come down to who has the presidential coattails in November.
George Allen (R): 43 (44)
Undecided: 10 (9)
Quinnipiac has also started looking ahead to 2013's gubernatorial race; they don't have general election numbers, but they do look at the GOP primary, where they find AG Ken Cuccinelli with a big 51-15 lead over Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling. That might be good news for Dems in that Cuccinelli's a more polarizing figure than Bolling... but Virginia tends to be consistent in electing a member of whatever party didn't win the White House the year earlier, so a Barack Obama victory in November could, in its own way, boost Cuccinelli's odds.
• NH-Gov: This trend of booking early ad reservations for the run-up to November really seems to be taking hold... and, perhaps already learning from the mistakes in Wisconsin, where they were on the losing end of a 7:1 advertising ratio, Democratic allies in key gubernatorial races suddenly seem to be getting eagerly on that bandwagon. The DGA just reserved $1.4 million in airtime for October, all on WMUR, the lone TV station in New Hampshire, showing they'll be making a major push for whichever of Maggie Hassan or Jackie Cilley wins the primary. Similarly, in WA-Gov, labor-backed PAC Our Washington just reserved $2.8 million statewide ($2.2 mil in Seattle, the remainder in smaller markets) for October. The DGA is Our Washington's second-biggest donor, so there's a clear pattern here.
• California: We're going to forego a full writeup of every single competitive race from Tuesday night, but here's a recap of still-outstanding races where there was no AP call or only a partial call as of late Wednesday afternoon; all of them are in California. In all cases, that's with 100% reporting, so any changes would have to come about through recounting, litigation, or other post-facto procedures:
CA-02: Dem state Asm. Jared Huffman has already been called; the question is whether Republican Dan Roberts faces him (and gets flattened in this dark-blue district), or Dem activist Norman Solomon (which could be an interesting race one-on-one, though Huffman looks pretty dominant). It's 37% for Huffman, 15% for Roberts, and 14% for Solomon (with 10% for Democratic businesswoman Stacey Lawson and 8% for Democratic Marin Co. Supervisor Susan Adams). 1,379 votes separate Roberts and Solomon.• CO-06: Just as Mike Coffman's last round of gaffes—questioning Barack Obama's "American-ness" and then bungling his apology—seems to be sliding down the memory hole, here comes another inflammatory moment from the Congressman, who still seems to be struggling to adapt with the switch from dark-red seat to swing district. His opponent, Joe Miklosi, is touting video from a recent Republican event where Coffman gave props to fellow GOP Rep. Joe Wilson (of "you lie!" fame).
CA-08: This overcrowded race in the High Desert is the most convoluted, with four candidates all piled up at 15%, and nobody having been called. Republican state Asm. Paul Cook and Minutemen-linked Republican Some Dude Gregg Imus are poised to advance, with 10,682 votes and 10,353 votes respectively. Close behind are the leading Dem, Jackie Conaway (at 10,163) and self-funding teabagger Republican Phil Liberatore (at 10,144), so anything could still happen here in the post-game. Other Republican establishment figures (Brad Mitzelfelt at 10%, Angela Valles at 6, Ryan McEachron at 4, and GOP-turned-indie ex-state Asm. Anthony Adams at 3) lagged.
CA-21: Republican state Asm. David Valadao seems to have the clear advantage in this Central Valley open seat, getting 57% of the vote; he's already been called. The second slot hasn't been called, but it's pretty clear it'll be Dem businessman John Hernandez, who's at 23%, rather than the DCCC's preferred candidate, Fresno city councilor Blong Xiong, who's at 20%. 1,046 votes separate Hernandez and Xiong.
CA-31: The Dems' titanic fuckup here seems like a done deal, but it's worth noting that none of the slots in this race have been called. Republican Rep. Gary Miller is at 27%, Republican state Sen. Bob Dutton is at 25%, and Democratic Redlands mayor Pete Aguilar is at 23%. 1,072 votes separate Dutton from Aguilar.
CA-52: Republican Rep. Brian Bilbray has gotten the AP call, though his 41% is looking very underwhelming. His Democratic opponent remains to be seen, though; currently, city councilor Scott Peters leads ex-state Asm. Lori Saldana 23 to 22, with Peters up by 645 votes.
• CT-05: It's still full speed ahead for Democratic state House speaker Chris Donovan, whose campaign in the 5th got seriously rocked last week with the arrest of his finance director and the firing of his campaign manager. Donovan is proceeding with a previously-scheduled big fundraiser with '06 Senate candidate Ned Lamont as the featured guest.
• NY-13: State Sen. Adriano Espaillat has some tangible advantages in his primary challenge to long-time Rep. Charles Rangel—the district now has a Latino plurality, and he doesn't have an ethical cloud hanging overhead—but Rangel has still gotten most of the establishment and labor backing in the race. Espaillat's managed to get a foothold, though, with his first major labor endorsement, from the Transport Workers Union Local 100 (a heavily African-American group).
• WA-Init: As expected, opponents of Washington's same-sex marriage law filed signatures on Wednesday for a people's-veto referendum in November. The law was passed by the state legislature several months ago; further marriages are, as a result, blocked until the matter clears the voters. Opponents, organized by the National Organization for Marriage, submitted 200,000 signatures, well more than the 150,000 required; polls, however, have shown the measure likely to fail in November (meaning that same-sex marriage would stay legal).
• California: Our Steve Singiser has a smart take on turnout in California's primaries, where a number of Dem House candidates looked more vulnerable than previously supposed. Based on the rates at which people cast presidential primary ballots, the primary electorate was 51% Democratic and 47% Republican. I don't think anybody in the punditocracy would actually expect Barack Obama to win California by 4 points, meaning the primary electorate is quite different looking than the probable November one.
• Census: The Census Bureau mostly steers clear of collecting political data, but they've just released a treasure trove of information on voter registration and self-reported voting, drawn from ACS samples in even-numbered years. That includes information on which states turn out the highest (Minnesota, as you might have guessed), and participation rates according to race. Check out some of the visualizations here.
• DCCC: Here's one more big announcement on the early media reservation front. The DCCC, which had previously committed to $32 million in early reservations, has made another $19 million in ad reservations for the post-Labor Day period, locking in cheaper slots. The biggest buy, interestingly, is the Sacramento market, suggesting they're going to heavily focus on Ami Bera in CA-07 (and maybe CA-10 too). They also have big buys in Boston (presumably backing up John Tierney, though possibly also for the New Hampshire races) and in Chicago, where there are multiple pickup opportunities.
• CA Redistricting: The various state legislators who found themselves out a job thanks to the serious reshuffle of the state's maps may have gotten the last laugh: they neglected to provide any further funding for the recently-created California Redistricting Commission, meaning that it's going to have to shut down its operations at the end of June. Presumably, they'll find a way to restart it in another eight or nine years; in the meantime, they're looking for a host agency to shepherd their resources till then.
• NH Redistricting: You could be forgiven if you'd forgotten that New Hampshire was one of the few states with an outstanding question mark on the redistricting front, because their legislative maps still hadn't been precleared by the Department of Justice. (In fact, you could be forgiven if you'd forgotten that New Hampshire is subject to preclearance under the VRA, one of the few northern states that is.) At any rate, NH received the DOJ's thumbs-up, but the new congressional map still hasn't been cleared (though it's impossible to imagine it won't be, given how minimal the changes were).