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Leading Off:

WV-Sen, WV-Gov: We've finally gotten some new numbers in the downballot races in West Virginia, races which on paper seem competitive given the state's distinctly red hue at the presidential level. If the numbers from local pollster R.L. Repass (on behalf of the Daily Mail) are to be believed, though, the local version of the Democratic Party is still very healthy. Repass has Sen. Joe Manchin punishing John Raese 66-27, and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin manhandling Bill Maloney 56-35. If you think those numbers seem inflated, those are actually down sharply from Repass's May numbers, the last time anybody has polled these races (when they had the Senate race at 74-22 and the gubernatorial contest at 60-32). Also supporting the idea that it's not too Dem-friendly a sample: Mitt Romney unsurprisingly leads Barack Obama 52-38.

Repass also has incumbent Dems up in two races further downballot—Darrell McGraw leads Patrick Morrisey 57-33 in the AG contest, and John Perdue leads Mike Hall 53-34 for Treasurer—but there is one spot of bad news on the distant horizon. Jay Rockefeller, who's more liberal than the average West Virginia Dem and isn't as obsequious to King Coal, trails Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito 48-44 in a hypothetical 2014 matchup. (This may not come to pass anyway, as the septuagenarian Rockefeller is a could very well retire.) (David Jarman)

Race Ratings:

We're making two changes to our Senate race ratings and one to our House ratings. We expect to make some more changes soon (particularly as we wait to see if certain campaigns respond to recent internal polling), but for now, here are our moves:

CT-Sen (Lean D to Tossup): Despite her disastrous 2010 run for Senate, Republican Linda McMahon has managed to give herself a makeover as far as Connecticut voters are concerned, thanks to her virtually bottomless wealth. She's also started hammering Democrat Chris Murphy hard on the airwaves (including expensive NYC broadcast TV), driving up his negatives. That's led to a round of recent polling, undisputed by the Murphy campaign, which has show the race to be neck-and-neck. Murphy's allies, including the DSCC, will spend here if they have to, and the Nutmeg State may yet return to form, so there's a very good chance this won't be the last time we change our rating on this race. In the meantime, though, we're slotting this race into a more competitive category.

NM-Sen (Tossup to Lean D): New Mexico's Senate race has moved in the exact opposite direction from Connecticut's. The biggest development came just days ago, when the NRSC openly admitted it was triaging this race in favor of other opportunities and started cancelling ad buys. Democrat Martin Heinrich's edge has grown in recent polls, and indeed, Republican Heather Wilson's never led in a single public survey. Needless to say, if the winds shift, national Republicans could always return. But for now, we don't need a weatherman.

CA-03 (Lean D to Likely D): Redistricting, we admit, made us nervous with regard to California's 3rd. For one, it meant Dem Rep. John Garamendi would have to shift from a seat Obama won by 32 points to one where he prevailed by just 13. For another, a mere 23% of the constituents in the new 3rd would be familiar to Garamendi—it would be practically like running in a brand-new district. On top of that, the GOP seemed to score a pretty decent recruit in the form of Colusa County supervisor Kim Vann. But Vann's fundraising hasn't been spectacular, and more importantly, two consecutive polls giving Garamendi 15-point leads (and placing him over the 50% mark) have gone unanswered by Republicans. So all that has us feeling a lot better about Democratic chances here.


MI-Sen: EPIC-MRA (which had already released presidential numbers showing Obama up three points in the state) has now followed through with the Senate portion of that survey. Given the handful of recent tossup-ish polls (some of questionable provenance), these numbers look better for Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, seeing as  she leads Republican Pete Hoekstra 51-44. However, that's a lot closer than EPIC's last survey from late July, which put the incumbent up 49-35. (Steve Singiser)


CA-10: You may recall that progressive grassroots group Democracy for America commissioned PPP to conduct a round of House race polling in the first half of August, and here's one more survey from that batch which just percolated up. They found Republican freshman Jeff Denham leading Democrat Jose Hernandez by a 48-41 margin—but it's worth pointing out that this survey was in the field after Denham went up on the air. Hernandez still has not aired any TV ads, so these numbers, which I'd say give him some reason for optimism, may change once he does. The survey also included presidential toplines, which have Obama tied with Romney at 47 apiece. That's a very realistic-looking sample, since Obama actually won this district by three points in 2008.

NY-24: I guess the D-Trip is trying to convince its Republican counterpart to give up on defending freshman Ann Marie Buerkle. The NRCC has already started attacking Democrat Dan Maffei on TV, but a new DCCC poll from Grove Insight has him up 48-42 over the incumbent. There are no presidential toplines here, but it's not hard to believe that Buerkle is in a lot of trouble: She was exceedingly lucky to win by an ultra-narrow margin in 2010 and has made absolutely zero effort to moderate her extremely conservative profile since taking office. That also probably helps explain her awful 37-55 job approval rating as well. But it's not just about Buerkle, because Democrats hold a similar 49-42 lead on the generic congressional ballot. This is simply Democratic turf, and if I were the GOP, I'd be thinking about crying uncle here.

MN-08: I'll be very curious to see if Republicans respond to this new pair of Democratic internal polls out of Minnesota's 8th District, the first since the August 14 primary. First up, House Majority PAC (via GBA Strategies) finds Democrat Rick Nolan beating GOP freshman Chip Cravaack 47-44. There's not a whole lot of detail (no presidential toplines, for instance), but the memo does note that Cravaack's name recognition far outstrips Nolan's, 86% to 59%. That suggests Nolan is operating in a fairly friendly environment, if he's already ahead of the incumbent despite being less well-know.

Meanwhile, the DCCC has its own fresh set of numbers courtesy Global Strategy Group, and the findings are very similar: Nolan's up 45-44 over Cravaack. The only additional piece of information is that Dem Sen. Amy Klobuchar is beating Paulist weirdo Kurt Bills in the Senate race by a 56-33 margin, which I certainly believe. And I'm actually gonna guess we won't be seeing any polling from the Cravaack camp—just check out his feeble pushback, in which the best he can do is complain that Democrats have released "incomplete" data. Mmhm.

Other Races:

Special Elections: Once more from Johnny Longtorso:

The specialest special of them all! Not really, but it is one final hurrah before November. Tuesday brings us this one:

Virginia HD-45: This is a seat centered in Alexandria, left open by the resignation of Democratic Del. David Englin. The candidates are Alexandria City Councilman Rob Krupicka for the Democrats, last year's SD-30 loser Tim McGhee for the Republicans (he lost 65-35), and credit analyst Justin Malkin on the Libertarian ticket. If Krupicka's name sounds familiar, it's because he narrowly lost the primary for SD-30 last year to Adam Ebbin. This district shouldn't cause any heartburn for the Democrats, as it's safely Democratic at 68-31 Obama and 63-37 Deeds, and thanks to some self-funding, Malkin has actually spent more money than McGhee.

Also occurring on Tuesday in Virginia is an election in SD-05 (which is a majority-black district which is comprised of parts of Norfolk and Chesapeake) to replace the late Sen. Yvonne Miller, but as Del. Kenny Alexander is the only candidate on the ballot, it's just a formality.

Grab Bag:

Ohio: Another big—and pretty positive—ruling on the voter suppression front: A federal judge in Ohio just restored early voting for the weekend prior to election day, something Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted had tried to eliminate. Conservatives ought to especially enjoy the fact that a key underpinning of the court's decision is the equal protection doctrine laid out in none other than Bush v. Gore, which says that voters can't be treated disparately. (Military voters were still entitled to cast ballots early on that final weekend, which the judge said was unfair to other voters.) Rick Hasen has much more analysis at the link, and he thinks an appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals is all but certain.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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