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Leading Off:

NH-Gov: University of New Hampshire (PDF) for WMUR. 8/1-12. Likely voters. MoE: ±4.2% (4/9-20 results):

Hassan-Lamontagne: 31-33 (34-29)
Hassan-Smith: 31-29 (29-24)

Cilley-Lamontagne: 31-35 (31-30)
Cilley-Smith: 31-28 (30-23)

Kennedy-Smith: 27-29
Kennedy-Lamontagne: 29-35

Public Policy Polling. 8/9-12. Likely voters. MoE: ±3.0%, ±4.9 for Democratic primary, ±3.8 for Republican primary (5/10-13 results):
Hassan-Lamontagne: 45-43 (39-40)
Hassan-Smith: 42-39 (37-31)

Cilley-Lamontagne: 42-42 (38-38)
Cilley-Smith: 39-38 (37-32)

(D) primary:
Hassan-Cilley: 30-24 (23-20)

(R) primary:
Lamontagne-Smith: 49-21 (53-13)

We have two new polls of the New Hampshire governor's race, and even though UNH has far more undecideds than PPP, the two firms see the contest as a tossup pretty much no matter who gets nominated. On the Republican side, that's almost certain to be attorney Ovide Lamontagne; even though conservative activist Kevin Smith has made up a little ground, the primary is only a month away. The Democratic contest, though, is much more up for grabs, according to PPP. Thanks to being the first to hit the airwaves, ex-state Sen. Maggie Hassan has pulled out to a small lead over fellow former Sen. Jackie Cilley, but almost half of all voters have yet to make up their minds. Cilley's trailed in fundraising, but once she gets on the air, too, I'd say this could be anybody's game.

P.S. Hassan is out with her third ad, a positive spot in which the narrator touts various legislative accomplishments, like creating job retraining programs and helping to "end discrimination against sick workers."

Senate:

CT-Sen: Hah, check out Chris Shays' I-guess-you-could-sorta-call-it-an-endorsement of Linda McMahon, who just won Tuesday's GOP primary: He said he'd vote for her in the general election but added "I do not withdraw any comment that I made" during the campaign, which included gems like "I think she is a terrible candidate and I think she would make a terrible senator."

IN-Sen: This is pretty darn entertaining. Earlier this week, Politico reported (albeit in somewhat sketchy detail) that the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity would shortly be going on the air with new ads in Wisconsin and Indiana. I'd been looking for those ads and wondering how big a bomb AFP would drop. But then, this:

Americans for Prosperity, a group largely funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, confirmed Tuesday that it had bought airtime in Indianapolis and five other Indiana TV markets but canceled the buys just an hour later.

A source told RTV6's Norman Cox that the anti-Donnelly ads were canceled because of creative differences about the content, but that they will probably be remade and will air soon.

I'm sure AFP will make a display of their firepower soon enough, but it is heartening to know that their battle station is not fully armed and operational.

FL-, OH-Sen: The 60 Plus Association (aka the bizarro world AARP) is back out with a pair of identical new ads hitting Democratic Sens. Bill Nelson and Sherrod Brown. The spots look very similar to commercials they've aired previously, featuring a decrepit Pat Boone fronting for the usual lies about the Affordable Care Act. The Florida buy is reportedly for $276K, Ohio for $232K.

ME-Sen: In politics, we could play a game called, "You know you're in deep trouble when...". Here's my first entry: You know you're in deep trouble when you release an internal poll showing your own side down 18 points in a Senate race. GOP pollster Moore Consulting (on behalf of whom, it's not clear) shared numbers with the Bangor Daily News showing independent ex-Gov. Angus King leading Republican Secretary of State Charlie Summers 46-28, with Democrat Cynthia Dill taking just 8. I'd certainly take those numbers if I were Angus!

The writeup, though, makes the unfortunate mistake of directly trying to compare these numbers to a July Critical Insights poll, saying that King's edge has "dropped" 10 points compared to that earlier survey. That's a real no-no in the political world, since you can't try to create trendlines from different polls using different methodologies. What's more, since Summers and Dill both performed identically in both polls, I'd say the answer is simpler: Moore's methodology produced more undecided voters. The BDN does point to some negative Chamber of Commerce attack ads run against King, but if a $400K TV buy could drop someone 10 whole points, then why not make it $800K and knock him down 20? (In case it isn't obvious, I'm not in the least bit serious.) Anyway, no matter how you dice it, these results aren't good for Summers.

ND-Sen: Democrat Heidi Heitkamp hits back against various bogus charges in ads from third-party groups in her newest spot, with the narrator specifically pointing out that Crossroads GPS had to yank its latest ad for factual inaccuracies. And unlike a lot of other pushback-type ads which merely decry negative spots, this one actually gets into specifics. Crossroads amazingly accused Heitkamp of supporting a tax on out-of-state coal that Rick Berg voted in favor of in the legislature, in an attempt to protect local jobs, so Heitkamp of course calls bullshit on that. And she also hits the whole "private plane" thing which, as we've mentioned, was in fact a free plane the Dept. of Defense gave the state to pursue drug traffickers.

Gubernatorial:

WA-Gov: Fresh off their successful social media outreach campaign to Asians and the elderly, Republican Rob McKenna's campaign is now moving on to another key demographic: the ladies. The campaign is letting Facebook fans choose a new campaign button, and one of them is "Chicks for Rob!" The button is hot pink and features a cartoon chick (baby chicken, that is) on it. In explaining their choice, their site says "Washington State has a long history of empowering its female leaders." (I think he may have meant to say "infantilizing" instead, but whatever.) (David Jarman)

House:

CA-15: Here's another big endorsement for Dublin city councilor Eric Swalwell, who faces a rematch from the primary against incumbent Dem. Pete Stark in November. It comes from Don Perata, not someone with a national reputation but a big name locally; he's the former state Senate president pro tem and a major player in East Bay politics. While Perata didn't specifically cite Stark's increasingly strange and hostile behavior as a motivating factor, he did mention the need for "new energy and true leadership." (David Jarman)

CA-36: DFA is out with two more House polls this week, to go along with their previously-released numbers in NH-01 & -02. The first is in CA-36, which shows a surprisingly close contest in a race that hasn't gotten a lot of national attention. GOP Rep. Mary Bono Mack actually saw her district get slightly redder, not bluer, but she's only beating physician Raul Ruiz by a 45-43 margin. The Obama-Romney toplines make sense, with the POTUS holding a narrow 49-48 edge—quite similar to his 2008 number (50-47 over McCain). Mack's already spent a lot—$860K—on her re-election campaign, and Ruiz is not far behind in the cash-on-hand department ($625K vs. $848K). He's also on the DCCC's Red to Blue list. We currently have the race rated as Likely R, though I'll be very curious to see if Bono Mack releases contradictory numbers. If she doesn't, it might mean this race is more competitive than previously thought.

CO-06: Here's DFA's other poll, of CO-06, where Democratic state Rep. Joe Miklosi, a guy liked by a lot of progressive organizations, is looking to unseat GOP sophomore Mike Coffman in a seat that was made significantly bluer during redistricting (from McCain +7 to Obama +9). The numbers, again from PPP, show Coffman edging Miklosi 40-36, though a sizable chunk of the vote is taken up by two third-party candidates: independent Kathy Polhemus (5%) and Libertarian Patrick Provost (4%). The presidential toplines show Obama at exactly his 2008 margin, beating Mitt Romney 52-43. PPP's statewide Colorado polling has shown Obama fairly close to his 2008 performance, so those district-level figures seem plausible.

FL-03: Headline of the day: "Cliff Stearns concedes in GOP primary." In case you missed Tuesday's night's shocking development, Stearns, a veteran congressman, sleepwalked through his bid for renomination, losing in a monster upset to large animal veterinarian Ted Yoho. Amazingly, Stearns had over $2 million in his campaign warchest at last count, which meant he definitely didn't take this race seriously. Progressives will of course recall Stearns as the leader in the Planned Parenthood witch-hunt, a bogus congressional investigation that of course yielded no results but, in retrospect, serves as further proof that he simply took his eye off the ball—or more like both eyes.

And what accounts for Yoho's surprising success? I'm sure plenty will get written about this, but my friend Jeff Smith's explanation is as satisfying as any: "People in rural areas fucking love large animal vets. Love 'em. Trust me on this. We had a couple in the Missouri legislature and they're so beloved in rural areas. They don't even need signs or mail because everyone knows and loves them. It's uncanny. Definitely the best profession to run in a rural district. I know, because I spent a year driving around Missouri scouring counties for Dem large animal vets."

FL-18: Democrat Patrick Murphy has a compare-and-contrast spot that chiefly hits GOP freshman Allen West for twice voting "to end Medicare as we know it."

NY-01: Politico seems pretty insistent that they've got some sort of quid pro quo scandal on their hands in this new article about Dem Rep. Tim Bishop, but rather problematically, they bury denials both from Bishop and the guy who allegedly benefited from Bishop's help. There also isn't a clear linkage between the aid Bishop offered and the donation his constituent, hedge fund manager Eric Semler, wound up making.

In any event, here's the story, as best I understand it: Semler needed assistance in obtaining permits for a fireworks display for his son's bar mitzvah, so he reached out to Bishop in his capacity as a congressman. A few days later (before the permits were granted), Semler received an email from Bishop's campaign asking him for a contribution. Bishop says Semler offered to make the donation of his own accord and that his staff was merely following up; Semler says he was solicited.

Either way, Semler isn't complaining, but you have to get all the way down to the third page of a three-page article to find that out:

"Tim never said anything to me about a donation. I didn't know he was running for reelection," Semler said of Bishop. "After the fact, after I got the permit, I did receive a request for a donation. He didn't tell me, one of his campaign people told me, that he was in a hot race and needed a lot of support. I would love to support a guy like that."

"There was never a discussion of a contribution while he was trying to help me," Semler added. "He never asked me for money. It was someone with his campaign."

Semler does appear to have gotten the timing mixed up, since (at least according to Politico), the Bishop campaign did email him before the permits came through. But he's obviously not upset about the request. So what is Politico hanging its hat on? This:
As for Semler, a few days after the party he complained in an email to employees of Grucci Firework that Bishop "didn't hestitate [sic] to solicit me in the heat of battle" and called the request, for up to $10,000, "really gross."
Sounds bad, right? Well, there's one word that ought to stand out to seasoned political observers there: Grucci. Bishop first won office in a bitter 2002 race by defeating none other than GOP Rep. Felix Grucci, a scion of the legendary fireworks family who is now a top executive there. As it turns out, Semler was seeking a refund from the Grucci company because, he says, their show damaged a neighbor's car. So when you read Bishop's and Semler's explanation for this email, I can understand why Semler would rag on Bishop to the Gruccis, in a play for sympathy.

It didn't work, in the end (frankly, a hedge fund manager saying "I had to pay $7,500 to repair my neighbor's Bentley" is not exactly the most heart-warming tale), but the bottom line is that both Semler and Bishop are calling this, in Politico's words, a "nonstory." Of course, while the article doesn't say so, it seems pretty evident that someone at Grucci shared this email in an attempt to damage Bishop, so the lesson here is, don't freakin' talk smack about a congressman to his enemies, especially if you don't mean it. Maybe I'm wrong and this story will grow legs; maybe Semler was actually incensed at Bishop when he sent the email to Grucci & co. We'll have to see. But the protagonists' version of events shouldn't have been relegated to the bottom of a lengthy article.

By the way, Bishop is also out with his first two ads of the season. They're both very similar, attacking Republican Randy Altschuler for co-founding a company called OfficeTiger that, remarkably, is specifically devoted to outsourcing jobs to India. (No chance for a Romney-esque dodge over this charge, not like those were ever convincing anyway.) Amazingly, Altschuler once even said, "In India, you get a much higher standard of person," a quote repeated in both spots.

NY-27: I could believe that freshman Dem Kathy Hochul would be trailing in a poll of the redrawn (and considerably redder) 27th District, but not by this margin. Republican pollster National Research, working on behalf of the conservative American Action Network, has former Erie County exec Chris Collins beating Hochul by a 47-34 spread. And indeed, AAN refused to release any further details beyond sample size and field dates, so we don't have access to the best checksum—namely, the presidential head-to-heads—or the partisan composition of the sample. And also, stay on the lookout for the first independent poll of the race, which Siena will be releasing on Sunday.

Other Races:

MI-Init: Groan. Democracy rarely seems to work right in Michigan these days. The latest: The State Board of Canvassers refused to certify for the ballot a proposed amendment to the state constitution which would enshrine collective bargaining rights permanently into law. The panel deadlocked two-to-two, with Democrats supporting the measure and Republicans opposing it.

Though the linked article doesn't offer the board's reasoning, I'm guessing the GOP members bought into opponents' claims that the amendment would impermissibly alter "anywhere from 80 to 170 laws that are now on the books." That's certainly a cute dodge: If the legislature wants to prevent citizens from voting new rights for themselves, all they have to do is pass a couple of laws that might some day be affected by a potential constitutional amendment and presto, they've made that impossible. Anyway, the issue is sure to wind up in court, but you shouldn't have any faith in Michigan's Republican-nominated judiciary.

NV-St. Sen: It's not every day you see an internal poll of a state Senate race making the rounds, but that underscores how important the race in Nevada's SD-15 is. The Dems control the Senate by a 12-11 margin, and this swingy part (57% Obama) of the Reno area is one of the pivotal races. In fact, if you remember the backstory, this is the race where Democratic Sen. Sheila Leslie resigned her safer seat in order to move and run in this one against Republican Sen. Greg Brower, in the ultimate act of taking one for the team to preserve the majority. At any rate, the Brower camp is out with a poll from the Tarrance Group, giving him a 45-42 lead over Leslie. This may be one of those instances where the fine print calls the toplines into question, though: The poll has Mitt Romney leading Barack Obama 52-43 in the district, a none-too-believable 14% dropoff over four years. (David Jarman)

NYC Mayor: I'm almost getting to the point where I'm ready to start caring about next year's mayoral race here in my home town of New York City, where for the first time since I was 20 years old, Mike Bloomberg won't be on the ballot. (I just became eligible to run for president earlier this year.) I probably won't really start focusing until after the November elections, but in any event, we might as well get moving.

So, to that end, Quinnipiac's out with their second poll of the Democratic primary, which looks a lot like their first, from May. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a Bloomberg clone who happens to be a registered Dem, still leads the way with 29, while former city comptroller and 2009 nominee Bill Thompson is at 10. (They were 26-13 previously.) Everyone else is in single digits: Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Comptroller John Liu are both at 9, while Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer is at 4 and newspaper publisher Tom Allon at 1. Thanks to some serious campaign finance scandals, Liu seems unlikely to make the race, so it'll be interesting to see where his support goes. At this point, I'd personally favor de Blasio, who will likely have the backing of the Working Families Party, simply because I'd prefer anyone but Quinn, which would be tantamount to giving Bloombo a fourth term.

Grab Bag:

Crossroads: Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, the worst charity in the world™, is out with yet another round of ads targeting Democrats in half a dozen Senate races: Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin. I really don't think I can sit here and watch all seven spots (Tim Kaine gets hit twice) and summarize them for you, but mercifully, The Hill's Cameron Joseph has a roundup at the link. In addition to brief descriptions, he has the reported size of the buy in each case.

Ohio: PPP's bucket of Ohio miscellany leads off with some unwelcome news: Republican Gov. John Kasich seems to have dug himself out of the basement. He's up to 41/41 approvals (up from 36/53 a year ago), and perhaps for the first time ever, he's leading Generic Dem in a 2014 gubernatorial contest, 43-39. One inevitable flipside of the vaguely-improving economy and the benefits that confers upon Barack Obama's hopes is that it also lifts the boats of the Republican governors of previously-struggling states (as seen in Rick Scott's parallel improvement lately). GOP Sen. Rob Portman's approvals are also up, probably thanks to his raised profile from the veepstakes; he's at 38/31 now. Maybe most importantly, though, PPP finds that the initiative to create an independent redistricting commission is passing, 37-24 (though with 39% undecided, that's hardly conclusive). (David Jarman)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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