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Leading Off:

ND-Sen: Mason-Dixon for KVLY and KFYR. 6/4-6. Likely voters. MoE: ±4.0% (no trendlines):

Heidi Heitkamp (D): 47
Rick Berg (R): 46
Undecided: 7

Heidi Heitkamp (D): 46
Duane Sand (R): 38
Undecided: 16

Republican primary (Likely voters, MoE: ±4.5%):
Rick Berg (R): 73
Duane Sand (R): 16
Undecided: 11
At this point, there shouldn't be any doubt that the open seat North Dakota Senate race, between Dem ex-AG Heidi Heitkamp and GOP Rep. Rick Berg, is legitimately competitive. We've seen two DSCC internal polls showing Heitkamp up five each (which got no rebuttal from the Berg camp) and one nonpartisan poll that gave Berg a seven-point lead but was rife with methological problems.

And now we've gotten another public poll, but this one shows Heitkamp with a narrow lead over Berg. Moreover, it's from Mason-Dixon, a reputable pollster but one who've had a frequent GOP bias in recent years (case in point, they got dropped as the Las Vegas Review-Journal's pollster after consistently overstating Sharron Angle's support in 2010). Maybe the most important number here is the Heitkamp is up 51-36 among independents, which is her only path to victory given the generic Republican edge in this red state. Heitkamp also puts up a wide lead against the other GOPer in the race, tea partier/perpetual candidate Duane Sand, but unfortunately Sand looks DOA in the Republican primary against Berg. (David Jarman)


MI-Sen: You probably saw that EPIC/MRA poll which actually showed Mitt Romney rather implausibly leading Barack Obama by a single point in Michigan. Indeed, every other pollster except EPIC has seen leads for Obama, dating back to last year. So the fact that Dem Sen. Debbie Stabenow is beating her likeliest Republican opponent despite the pronounced GOP lean of this poll is a very heartening sign. She tops Pete Hoekstra by 49-38 margin, up from 48-42 all the way back in November, the last time EPIC looked at this race. (And then, they had Romney +5.)

MN-Sen: Please, friends, next time PPP asks where to poll, don't choose Minnesota:

The 2012 Minnesota Senate race may be up there for the most boring one we've polled on this cycle. Amy Klobuchar's one of the most popular Senators in the country, her opponents are all no names, and the main suspense from poll to poll is whether her leads over the GOP field will be closer to 20 points or 30.

They're closer to 30 this time around. Klobuchar has a 26 point lead over Kurt Bills (55-29), a 27 point one over Joe Arwood (56-29), and advantages of 28 points over Doc Severson (55-27) and Pete Hegseth (56-28).

Bills in fact is already the nominee, since all the other candidates dropped out after he won at the state GOP convention. But it hardly makes a difference who the Republicans put up, and Tom Jensen knew in advance that this race was an ultra-snoozer, so he tossed in some questions about Minnesota's next Senate contest:
Since the 2012 Senate race looks so boring, we took a look ahead to the 2014 contest. Al Franken's proven to be a stronger than might have been expected Senator. 50% of voters approve of him to 36% who disapprove. Democrats have ended up being pretty universally happy with him (85/4) and he's strong with independents as well (48/33).

Franken leads hypothetical contests with Minnesota's three leading Republicans. He has a 51-41 advantage over Norm Coleman, a 52-41 one over Tim Pawlenty, and a 57-35 advantage on Michele Bachmann. It's impossible to say what the political climate will look like in 2014, but at least for now Franken finds himself in a strong position.

Those Franken leads are wider than PPP found in January, when he was up 49-43 over T-Paw and 54-39 over Crazy Eyes. So maybe this race will wind up being less exciting than previously thought, too.

PA-Sen: This week in violent Republican eliminationist rhetoric:

Pennsylvania Democrats are attacking the Republican U.S. Senate nominee over comments he made at a primary campaign forum where he indicated he wanted to "hang" U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D), a remark the Republican said was taken out of context.

Democrats are using a video clip of Republican Tom Smith at a forum during the March primary campaign where he used the word "hang" after talking about Casey's policies. Smith quickly dialed back from the comment at the time.

"We will hang him," Smith said. "I should not say that."

No, that's not called "taking it out of context." That's called "saying what you believe out loud."


FL-Gov: PPP is out with a hot batch of Florida miscellany, including numbers on gay marriage (voters are still narrowly against it, 42-45, but that's much improved from last time they asked) and the Miami Heat. But most significantly, they take a look at a matchup between Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Scott and Dem state Sen. Nan Rich, who'd be a likely gubernatorial nominee in 2014 if Charlie Crist doesn't do the full 180 on his party status and run again. Despite only 14% of voters having heard of her, she still leads Scott (whose approvals are now 31/56) by a 47-35 margin. (David Jarman)

MI-Gov: Michigan Rising, a group that was seeking to recall Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, has done an about-face and dropped their efforts to get a recall on the ballot. Looming large over the decision were the results on Tuesday in Wisconsin, but the anti-Snyder efforts had never seemed to have the urgency of the Wisconsin movement. Crucially, they also said they were also short on their targets for signature collection. (David Jarman)


AZ-08: Wow. Apparently someone didn't get the memo that, in a race to replace a sitting congresswoman who nearly succumbed to gunshot wounds, hyping the military background of a candidate with a photo of him holding an assault rifle, isn't a very cool move. But that's precisely what a PAC supporting Republican special election candidate Jesse Kelly did this last week, in an email fundraising appeal. It's worth clicking the link to see the weak-tea reply to NPR offered by the Kelly campaign. (Steve Singiser)

CA-30: Rep. Howard Berman is out with his second endorsement from a Republican colleague, this time from Elton Gallegly, who retired rather than face a reconstructed Dem-leaning CA-26. (Rep. Darrell Issa previously gave Berman a pat on the back, something which even appeared in a third-party ad on Berman's behalf.) That may seem kind of a strange for a Democrat to tout, but it makes sense since there's no Republican on the ballot in November, thanks to California's top-two primary, and the decisive votes for Berman and fellow -erman Brad Sherman will be coming from the district's few Republicans. (David Jarman)

CA-31, CA-02, CA-21: Looks like the Golden State, which just switched to a top-two primary, is taking another cue from Washington... dragging the counting on for days afterwards. The Secretary of State's office reports there are still nearly one million ballots that remain to be counted (mostly vote-by-mail but also provisional ballots), meaning that they're only halfway done tallying up the vote. A county-by-county list of remaining ballots is available at the link; unsurprisingly, gigantic Los Angeles County has the most. If you're hoping that more counting in San Bernardino undoes the Dems' screwup in CA-31, though, that's not likely: only 5,000 remain uncounted there. Nearly 24,000 remain uncounted in Marin County, though, so it's possible that Norman Solomon could still squeak into 2nd in CA-02; likewise, 31,000 outstanding ballots in Fresno County may mean the book's not closed on Blong Xiong just yet in CA-21. (David Jarman)

CA-51: Here's another example of California's awful new top-two primary leading to consequences that the goo-goos who pushed this system on voters I'm  sure never intended. State Sen. Juan Vargas, wanting to avoid a general election fight against fellow Democrat Denise Moreno Ducheny in November in this strongly blue district, spent some $40 to $50K on misleading mailers boosting the candidacy of Republican Michael Crimmins. That helped Crimmins to finish in second with 20%, versus just 15% for Ducheny. Now Vargas is likely to cruise into Congress, since Crimmins has virtually no chance of winning a seat like this.

P.S. Just before the primary, we also noted that a mysterious super PAC with the Orwellian name of "Citizens for Prosperity and Good Government" also dropped $12K on flyers promoting Crimmins. As with most of these shadowy dark money groups, it's very hard to figure out who's behind them, but the CPGG also spent $100K on radio ads back in May to boost the candidacy of Republican Doug LaMalfa in CA-01.

IL-12: Adjutant General William Enyart, the Illinois National Guard chief who recently expressed interest in running as a replacement candidate for Democrat Brad Harriman, just resigned from his post. I have to believe local Dem leaders, who will be picking a substitute for Harriman, must have given Enyart a good indication that he's a top contender—or even the top contender—because when Enyart's name first came up, he described his current gig with the National Guard as "the best job in the world." You don't quit the best job in the world in order to not get picked as the Democratic nominee.

IL-13: Republican-affiliated pollster We Ask America (last seen badly overestimating Scott Walker's support, though their 2010 polling of Illinois House races was commendable) is out with the first poll of the open seat race in the 13th (a 55% Obama district downstate) since the GOP selected Hill aide Rodney Davis to replace the abruptly-retired Tim Johnson. They find Davis leading Democratic nominee David Gill by nine points, 47-38. That contrasts with an internal from Gill that had Gill up 10 over Davis, though that was taken before Davis's selection was finalized. (David Jarman)

MI-14: After a day of rumors about its existence, Rep. Hansen Clarke finally released his new internal poll of the Democratic primary... eh, but not really. There's no polling memo, no margin of error listed, no number of respondents provided, no discussion of the methodology—nothing but some toplines which purport to show Clarke at 49, fellow Rep. Gary Peters at 33, and Southfield mayor Brenda Lawrence at 13, with a couple of other people in low single digits. You know what else is missing? Undecided voters. Plus, the poll (conducted by "Practical Political Consulting") was in the field May 31, June 1 and then June 4, so it skipped a weekend, which is just weird. This whole poll is a mess and a joke, and Clarke really shouldn't have released it, especially in this manner.

NY-18: Two big endorsements for attorney Sean Maloney as he seeks the Democratic nomination to take on freshman GOPer Nan Hayworth: The New York AFL-CIO and the New York State United Teachers, two large and important unions, just gave him their backing.

Grab Bag:

Netroots Nation: In case you missed our Netroots Nation panel (where we took Q&A on congressional races from the audience for over an hour on Thursday), you can watch it at the link or below:

Redistricting Roundup:

KS Redistricting: In record time, the federal court responsible for cleaning up the redistricting mess left by Kansas's legislature has released new maps for the state, including both legislative and congressional plans. You can find PDFs of all the maps at the link; a copy of the new congressional lines is below:

Map of new Kansas congressional districts
Black lines represent old districts
We'll bring you a full analysis later today. In the meantime, here's a link to the court's opinion (PDF) explaining its rulings.

VA Redistricting: While we've crunched most of the 2008 presidential election numbers for the country's new congressional districts ourselves, a number of state legislatures have helpfully provided the data for us. We'd happily relied on this information for quite some time in places like Texas and Florida, but an unresolved question—namely, did Barack Obama or John McCain win the apparently "50-50" VA-10?—prompted us to take a second look at the stats the Virginia lege published. Remarkably, it turns out the VA numbers we'd been relying on were wrong—just flat-out miscalculated.

Indeed, jeffmd took a deep dive back into the data and found that Republicans appeared to be conning themselves by leaving out a substantial portion of the early vote—and note that in 2008, Obama fared much better in the early vote than on election day. Calculated properly, the Obama share of the vote went up in all 11 Virginia congressional districts, and one (VA-02) flipped from a McCain seat to an Obama seat (narrowly). As for VA-10, it's not 50-50 at all, but rather 51-48 in favor of Obama. Click through for a detailed explanation of our methodology. We're convinced you'll agree that our data set is the one that should be relied on, not the legislature's.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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