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Leading Off:

ME-Sen: Critical Insights for the Portland Press Herald. 6/20-25. Registered voters. MoE: ±4% (no trendlines):

Cynthia Dill (D): 7
Charlie Summers (R): 27
Angus King (I): 55
Undecided: 9
This is the second poll we've seen of the Maine Senate race since the state held its primaries, and the results are very similar to those MassInc published earlier in June. The bottom line is that former Gov. Angus King is not only crushing, but he's become the de facto Democrat in the race, as you can see from Cynthia Dill's painfully low share of the vote. Yet King still retains sufficient crossover support to suppress Republican Charlie Summers' performance, putting him in a commanding position for November.

This contest feels like an enantiomer of the 2006 Connecticut Senate battle; here, Dill's playing the role of Alan "Gold" Schlesinger, who simply couldn't peel enough Republican votes away from the newly-independent Joe Lieberman to give Democrat Ned Lamont a fighting chance in the general election. Given this serious structural obstacle that Summers faces—not to mention King's dominance in the toplines—Daily Kos Elections is changing our rating on this race from Lean I to Likely I.

2Q Fundraising:

AZ-01: Ann Kirkpatrick (D): $357K raised, $837K cash-on-hand

FL-Sen: Sen. Bill Nelson (D): $1.8 mil raised, $11 mil cash-on-hand

FL-09: Alan Grayson (D): $820K raised, $1.2 mil cash-on-hand

IA-03: Rep. Leonard Boswell (D): $300K raised, $470K cash-on-hand; Rep. Tom Latham (R): $500K raised, $2.14 mil cash-on-hand

IL-10: Rep. Bob Dold (R): $717K raised, $2.1 mil cash-on-hand

IL-11: Bill Foster (D): $475K raised, $1.3 mil cash-on-hand

IL-17: Cheri Bustos (D): $470K raised

MA-Sen: Sen. Scott Brown (R): $5 mil raised, $15.5 mil cash-on-hand

MI-11: Nancy Cassis (R): $254K raised (in two weeks), $235K cash-on-hand

MT-Gov (6/21-7/5): Steve Bullock (D): $52K raised, $773K cash-on-hand; Rick Hill (R): $54K raised, $146K cash-on-hand

NV-04: Steven Horsford (D): $269K raised, $591K cash-on-hand

NY-19: Rep. Chris Gibson (R): $406K raised, $1.2 mil cash-on-hand; Julian Schreibman (D): $320K raised

VA-Sen: Tim Kaine (D): $3 mil raised, $2.7 mil cash-on-hand; George Allen (R): $2 mil raised, $3.3 mil cash-on-hand. Hotline: "Kaine has purchased $3.5 million worth of fall airtime. Allen has reserved—but not purchased—about $3 million worth of fall ad time."


FL-Sen: Throughout this election cycle, I've paid almost no attention to Rasmussen polls. I post them here with just the toplines and no comment, simply because I know people enjoy ripping them apart in comments. But I'm starting to wonder if I should even bother anymore, because their new Florida poll is just psycho. At the end of April, they had Dem Sen. Bill Nelson up 46-37 over GOP Rep. Connie Mack. Now they have Mack up... 46-37! That's an eighteen-point shift in ten weeks! How is that even remotely possible? Just a joke.

IN-Sen: Dem Rep. Joe Donnelly has some decent material to work with here, but I think this new spot (his second) could be better. Donnelly talks about how, as a basketball coach, he's taught kids the value of teamwork (something they could use more of in Washington, natch), and his little ballers even come in a charming mix of red and blue jerseys. But the guy in the stands meant to represent the stereotypical obnoxious helicopter parent/Richard Mourdock... it's a bit forced. Plus, shouting in a gym = lousy audio, though that might be an artifact of YouTube compression.

MA-Sen: This is the season for engaged voters to hurl questions at politicians as they walk down parade routes. It's also the season for politicians to say some very, very dumb things in response. From GOP Sen. Scott Brown:

Oil companies don't get subsidies. [...] I'm positive. They're able to take deduction like every other business. If we're going to reform the tax code, we should do that.
The ultra-profitable oil industry gets $7 billion in taxpayer subsidies each year—and Brown has even voted to preserve them.

MO-Sen: I think my colleague David Jarman once described tax liens as the common cold of electoral politics—a nagging problem that pops up everywhere and never seems to go away. A nifty illustration comes to us from the Missouri Senate GOP primary, where almost immediately after being nailed for late tax payments on a corporate jet, businessman John Brunner dished on his two opponents for similar foibles:

In 2011, says Brunner's campaign, "Sarah Steelman was twice penalized for delinquent property taxes from 2010 on her home and vehicles… including a luxury, 2008 Infiniti QX56."

In Akin's case, "late taxes were paid on property Todd Akin fully or partially owned in 2003 and 2010 and the 2004 personal property taxes on his vehicles were paid late as well."

But there was some additional tax delinquency blowback for Brunner, too:
But Brunner's family also was late paying property taxes on their family home in 2000 and 2001, and on a vehicle in 2007 and 2008, his campaign acknowledged.
These kinds of blemishes are generally not disqualifiers, but they do make it much harder for any of these three Republicans to ding Sen. Claire McCaskill over her late tax payment issues.

MT-Sen: Dem Sen. Jon Tester lands a hard blow on GOP Rep. Denny Rehberg in this spot narrated by a breast cancer survivor. Lisa Jones savages Rehberg for "vot[ing] to eliminate funding for breast cancer screenings—even from the clinic that saved my life." She concludes: "If he got his way, I don't want to think about what I would have missed." Damn.

Oh, and the LCV filed an IE report noting a contribution to the Montana Hunters and Anglers Leadership Fund for that anti-Rehberg ad we mentioned in the previous Digest. The numbers make it pretty clear that Hunters and Anglers is purely a front group: The LCV gave them $410K, but the size of the buy was only reported as $350K.

NM-Sen: Two polls of the Senate race are out in the Land of Enchantment, and here's a weird bit of data: the one from the Republican pollster is better than the one from the Democratic pollster. We Ask America finds that Dem Martin Heinrich has a 51-42 lead over GOPer Heather Wilson, one of his best performances so far in the race. (They also give Barack Obama a 51-40 lead here, which gives some insight into why the campaigns seem to be relegating the state to the blue pile this year.)

On the other hand, Fairbanks Maslin Maulin Metz (aka FM3) finds it only a 4-point race, at 49-45. The poll was on behalf of various unnamed environmental groups and apparently was intended to show that the ads they've been running hitting Wilson on environmental issues have been effective in moving votes, but I'm a little puzzled that they'd put the numbers out there when the toplines are a smidge closer than most polls have shown the race. (David Jarman)

NV-Sen: To all the national pundits who immediately decided to write off Dem Rep. Shelley Berkley's chances in the wake of the House Ethics Committee deciding to continue an investigation into her efforts to save Nevada's only kidney transplant center, I can tell you that the DSCC didn't just reserve $2.3 million in fall ad time in order to make you look foolish. But it does mean they think you are very wrong in your assessment.

Republican Sen. Dean Heller immediately pounced, though, with a new ad attacking Berkley over these ethics issues. But as commenter DCCyclone astutely observes, the spot is more notable for what it doesn't say. Heller doesn't utter a word about the actual underlying issue—it just vaguely tosses around a claim of corruption—because the transplant center is popular, and rescuing it is a positive for Berkley, even if her nephrologist husband did happen to benefit. As DCCyclone says, "Heller's own ad implicitly admits you can't talk about the issue itself without disarming the attack." What's more, Heller himself tried to save the program, too, so he's not well-situated to make an issue of this.

PA-Sen: We Ask America also hit Pennsylvania this week, and their sample had a Senate portion. Dem incumbent Bob Casey is flattening Republican Tom Smith, 53-39, though that's actually a bit closer than most pollsters have seen it (who've usually had it in the 20-point range). Probably more importantly, Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney 47-40. (David Jarman)

TX-Sen: You knew that David Dewhurst could not led Ted Cruz's poll of the GOP runoff go unanswered. So of course he's out with his own survey, from Baselice & Associates, which has him up 50-42. You'll recall that last week, Cruz had almost the exact opposite numbers that showed him with a 49-40 edge. Only one of you guys can be correct!

To try to make sure he's the one in the right, Cruz is out with with a new ad that starts with a killer (and carefully edited) clip of Dewhurst forcefully insisting in a debate that "I never supported a wage tax and I never supported a payroll tax"—after which he drops a very awkward "um." Cruz uses that to segue into the second half of the spot in which he splashes claims on-screen that Dewhurst in fact supported both such taxes. The problem is that you have to be paying close attention to the text that appears, because the audio keeps repeating Dewhurst's claims. I always think it's a mistake to expect viewers to read and understand any written words in campaign ads—if you have a point to make, make it verbally.

VA-Sen: If you've been waiting for a Virginia Senate poll that shows something different than every other Virginia Senate poll this cycle... keep waiting. PPP's latest has Democratic ex-Gov. Tim Kaine beating Republican ex-Sen. (and ex-Gov.) George Allen 46-44. In April, Kaine was up 45-44.

Meanwhile, Allen's out with another vapid ad. Former Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources Kay Cole James, who served when Allen was governor back in the `90s, says some nice things about him, like that he "he worked diligently across party lines." Sure.

WI-Sen (PDF): Marquette Law School. 7/5-8. Likely voters. MoE: ±3.5% (±4.8% for Republican primary sample) (6/13-16 results, registered voters):

Tammy Baldwin (D): 41 (41)
Tommy Thompson (R): 45 (49)
Undecided: 8 (10)

Tammy Baldwin (D): 43 (44)
Mark Neumann (R): 40 (44)
Undecided: 9 (12)

Tammy Baldwin (D): 43 (45)
Jeff Fitzgerald (R): 37 (39)
Undecided: 12 (16)

Tammy Baldwin (D): 44 (45)
Eric Hovde (R): 38 (36)
Undecided: 13 (19)

Tommy Thompson (R): 35 (34)
Eric Hovde (R): 23 (14)
Mark Neumann (R): 10 (16)
Jeff Fitzgerald (R): 6 (10)
Undecided: 20 (25)
The second Wisconsin Senate poll in as many days is out—PPP put one out on Tuesday—and this one, from Marquette University, couldn't be more different. As you'll recall, PPP showed wealthy outsider Eric Hovde surging into a small lead over Tommy Thompson in the GOP primary, and performing a smidge better than Thompson vis-a-vis Dem Tammy Baldwin (a 1-point lead, instead of a tie for Thompson). Marquette's poll is much more in line with the conventional wisdom concerning this race, which is that Thompson is faltering but still winning the primary, and that the more crossover-friendly Thompson has a wide electability advantage over the other more conservative Republicans.

Here, while it's clear that Hovde's self-funded air war has gotten him a bigger share in the GOP primary (at the expense of the other two right-wingers, Mark Neumann and Jeff Fitzgerald), it's not clear whether his upward trajectory will get caught up with Thompson by next month's primary. And according to Marquette, Hovde seems to perform the worst against Baldwin, rather than the best, losing by 6 while Thompson wins by 4. (Which is still quite a noticeable decline for Thompson since their previous poll last month.) This poll's also a bit better at the top of the ticket than last month's poll: Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney by 51-43, up from a 6-point lead last time. (David Jarman)


NC-Gov: PPP shows a steady state in the North Carolina governor's race, with Republican Pat McCrory leading Democrat Walter Dalton 43-36—exactly the same margin they saw in June, when McCrory was up 47-40. Why the slippage for both candidates? PPP started including Libertarian Barbara Howe, who pulls a surprisingly strong 9 percent. That confirms a Civitas/SurveyUSA poll which had Howe at 7, though the spread between the two major-party candidates was much tighter, with McCrory up just 2.

NH-Gov: Is there any group which stands out like the firefighters do? Their distinctive black-and-yellow color scheme is always visible when they make their presence felt, as they did on Wednesday when the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire endorsed ex-state Sen. Jackie Cilley in the Democratic primary. (You may recall their deep support for John Kerry in 2004 and Chris Dodd in 2008.)

NM-Gov: State Attorney General Gary King just became the first Democrat to announce that he plans to take on GOP Gov. Susan Martinez in 2014. King was first elected AG in 2006 and won a second term in 2010 (when Martinez first captured the governor's mansion and Republicans were romping nationwide) with 54% of the vote. King sought to make gubernatorial bid in 2002 but ultimately deferred to fellow Dem Bill Richardson, who went on to win twice.

VA-Gov: PPP also took another early look at the 2013 governor's race. For kicks, they included Tareq Salahi, the infamous White House party crasher, along with the more plausible candidates. This is what they found:

Terry McAuliffe (D) 33, Bill Bolling (R) 36
Terry McAuliffe (D) 41, Ken Cuccinelli (R) 37
Terry McAuliffe (D) 38, Tareq Salahi (R) 24

Tom Perriello (D) 32, Bill Bolling (R) 38
Tom Perriello (D) 38, Ken Cuccinelli (R) 39
Tom Perriello (D) 40, Tareq Salahi (R) 23

Mark Warner (D) 49, Bill Bolling (R) 35
Mark Warner (D) 51, Ken Cuccinelli (R) 37
Mark Warner (D) 54, Tareq Salahi (R) 24


CT-05: Democrat Elizabeth Esty is out with her first ad, an introductory spot in which the announcer says she's "worn a lot of shoes" and then goes on to talk about her various accomplishments. The visuals keep flipping to her shoes, though, which I find distracting... and it turns out it's all a setup for Esty's last line: "It may take combat boots, but I'll do whatever it takes to get things done for the middle class" in Congress.

IL-13: A good catch by Roll Call's Shira Toeplitz: An invitation to a Chicago fundraiser this Friday (collected by the Sunlight Foundation's excellent Political Party Time site) hosted by the DCCC includes five Democrats running in contested races in Illinois this year... but leaves one off. Bill Foster (IL-14), Brad Schneider (IL-10), Cheri Bustos (IL-17), Tammy Duckworth (IL-08), and Bill Enyart (IL-12) are all being feted at Wrigley Field (the lowly Cubs face the Arizona Diamondbacks), but David Gill (IL-13) isn't included, so read into that what you will. As Topelitz notes, though, Gill is not without some establishment support: Rep. Mike Quigley (the host of the baseball outing) and Gov. Pat Quinn helped fundraise for him last month.

ME-01, -02: That Critical Insights poll also tested both of Maine's House races; presumably, their 615-voter sample was half in the 1st District and half in the 2nd, so that means there's a pretty sizable margin of error (around ±5.6%). In ME-01, though, that's not really a big deal, because Dem Rep. Chellie Pingree is walloping Republican state Senate Majority Leader Jon Courtney, 57-31.

ME-02, however, is considerably tighter. Dem Rep. Mike Michaud leads Republican state Senate President Kevin Raye by a 47-35 spread. The rural 2nd, which went for Barack Obama in 2008 by 12 points, is decidedly redder than the 1st, which Obama won by 23, so it's not surprising to see Michaud in a tougher race. (His numbers are also a bit softer than an early April poll from the Maine People's Resource Center which put him up 53-37—but then again, so are Pingree's.)

No matter what, though, Raye still faces a serious headwind, since Obama is favored to once again carry the state. He leads Mitt Romney 49-35 in this survey; that's weaker than his 2008 margin, but only by about four points. With that kind of background (plus with a likely Angus King victory in the Senate race demoralizing Republicans), it's hard to see a path to victory for Raye.

MI-03: In his first ad, a month ahead of the Democratic primary, ex-state Rep. Steve Pestka touts his work on behalf of seniors and also says he voted to increase funding for Planned Parenthood. There are no little chyrons with citations, though, so it's not clear what legislation he's actually referring to.

OH-06: This doesn't seem to have been picked up by the local press yet, but the media tracking firm Smart Media Group says Dem ex-Rep. Charlie Wilson has made a serious $718K broadcast buy for the final two months of the campaign. Wilson is trying to reclaim his seat from GOP freshman Bill Johnson, the man who beat him in 2010.

WA-01: Progress for Washington keeps spending more money on those mailers which accuse Democrat Suzan DelBene of running Microsoft into the ground: another $21K on the barbie, for $64K in total.

Other Races:

ME-Init: That extensive Portland Press Herald/Critical Insights poll had one final component, a question on the same-sex marriage ballot proposal that will go before voters in the fall. The wording isn't final—Republican SoS Charlie Summers (the same guy who's running for Senate) is trying to remove some text that organizers want included about protections for members of the clergy—but this is what the poll asked:

In the upcoming November election, there will be a question on the ballot that reads: "Do you want to allow same-sex couples to marry?" If the election were tomorrow, how would you vote on this ballot initiative?
The answers were very positive: 57% say yes and only 35% say no. That's considerably more optimistic than an early March PPP poll (PDF), however, which found:
A majority of Maine voters say same-sex marriage should be legal, by a 54-41 margin. A plurality of voters (47-32) favor a law that would allow "marriage licenses for same-sex couples that protects religious freedom by ensuring that no religion or clergy be required to perform such a marriage in violation of their religious beliefs."
And of course, in 2009, a "people's veto" of a new law allowing gay marriage succeeded by a 53-47 margin. But attitudes have changed fast on this issue, and 2012 certainly won't look much like 2009.

Grab Bag:

ACA: Depending upon whom you ask, House Republicans just voted for the 31st or 33rd time to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Doesn't matter exactly how many—it's a lot. This time, five Democrats sided with the GOP: Dan Boren (OK-02), Larry Kissell (NC-08), Jim Matheson (UT-04), Mike McIntyre (NC-07), and Mike Ross (AR-04). Both Ross and Boren are retiring, while the other three are in serious fights for their political lives.

The problem for Kissell and Matheson, as we've discussed, is that they both voted against repeal when Republicans first pushed through a vote back in January 2011, right after they re-took control of the House. I really don't know how they're suppose to spin this double flip-flop (they also both voted against the ACA in the first place), but I figured Kissell, who isn't the sharpest pol in the world, was just being dim. I'm more surprised to see Matheson jump into this leaking ship.

Dark Money: Roll Call reports that super PAC American Crossroads and its "charity" arm, Crossroads GPS, "have reserved $23.5 million in fall television advertising in six states and will have invested $10 million on targeted Senate contests by mid-August." The article also points out that Crossroads is able to keep its overhead costs low—I'm guessing by using its sheer size—including the fact that they pay only a 3% commission to media buyers.

UT-03: An exceptional find by (who else?) Xenocrypt. Longtime Swing State Project/Daily Kos Elections fans will understand why the Democrat who took on the thankless task of running in Utah's 3rd Congressional District back in 2004 is my new favorite candidate: Say hello to Beau Babka!

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu Jul 12, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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