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Leading Off:

FL-18: So even though GOP Rep. Allen West trails Patrick Murphy by 0.8%—more than the half-a-percent margin which would enable him to seek a recount—and even though the remaining absentee ballots look very unlikely to change that picture, this is what he's doing:

West has filed an injunction against Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties supervisor of elections to impound their voting machines and paper ballots. West also is demanding a hand recount in St. Lucie County.
Allen West doing something crazy and contrary to the law? Unheard of! Anyhow, a court hearing was set to take place in Palm Beach late Thursday afternoon but was rescheduled for Friday; a hearing in St. Lucie may also happen Friday. While their position looks solid, Murphy's campaign has issued a fundraising appeal to help defray the legal bills they've suddenly started running up. (I don't know if it's happening in this case, but Republican law firms are notorious for deploying their associates pro bono to help candidates in need. More like faux bono, amirite?) We will of course keep following all developments here closely, so stay tuned.


KY-Sen: The Great Mentioner—in particular, Dem Rep. John Yarmuth—has already cranked into high gear in Kentucky, where Republican very-much-the-Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is up for re-election. McConnell may be the only GOP senator potentially vulnerable in 2014, and the KY Democratic Party is a lot more robust than its counterparts in most Southern states. (Dems just hung on to the state House on Tuesday, for instance.) Yarmuth cited several possible names, the sexiest of which belongs to actress Ashley Judd, but I suspect she made the lede because she's famous, not necessarily because anyone actually expects her to run.

Other names are more plausible (and some will be familiar to political junkies, even if they aren't as well-known as Judd): Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson, and Obama chief fundraiser Matthew Barzun. Abramson is quoted on the record in the piece as not ruling anything out. Judd responded to her name getting circulated in remarks to another publication, offering a very non-committal statement that definitely doesn't close the door. And Grimes has previously also indicated an open mind.

McConnell, though, already has a $6.8 million warchest and will be very formidable, so I wouldn't be surprised if Dems were not able to land a top-tier recruit.

NV-Sen: Fuck this, I'm already bored of the 2014 elections. Thankfully, we can move on to 2016, because Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he's "planning on running for reelection" four years hence. Okay, done with 2016. Anyone talk to Heidi Heitkamp yet to see if she plans to seek a second term in '18?

Back to the already-ancient 2012 races for a moment, though. Reid Wilson points out that Nevada's unique "none of the above" ballot option took 45,000 votes in the Senate contest, while GOP Sen. Dean Heller beat Democrat Shelley Berkley by only 12,000. It's hard to say whom NOTA might have helped, but you'll recall that Republicans launched an unsuccessful lawsuit earlier this year to overturn the institution. It's also the first time in quite a while that NOTA (which is only used in statewide races) drew more votes than the winner's margin.


IL-Gov: Hahahahah! Soon-to-be-ex-Rep. Joe Walsh, who just got turned out of his seat by Democrat Tammy Duckworth, is refusing to rule out a gubernatorial bid in 2014! Comedy:

Q. What about a bid for governor for you? A possibility?

A. You know that I believe fervently in that vision. I don't know of many other candidates who articulate that vision. Am I going to do something? Oh gosh, I don't know. People approach me every day and ask, "Walsh, are you going to run for the governor? Are you going to run for Senate?" I want to do my part to lead a movement to present a vision to this. I'd rather go down fighting. Democrats have ruined this state but they've been able to do it because the Republicans have allowed them to.

Meanwhile, another Republican, state Sen. Kirk Dillard, sounds like he's gearing up to run for governor himself. You'll recall that Dillard, who just won re-election to the legislature on Tuesday, very narrowly lost the 2010 GOP primary fellow state Sen. Bill Brady (who in turn went on to narrowly lose to Dem Gov. Pat Quinn). Speaking of Quinn, as we've mentioned before, his terrible approval ratings have painted a big target on his back, and now at least one Democrat is explicitly holding open the door to a possible primary challenge: former White House chief of staff Bill Daley.

MN-Gov: Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, a Republican, says he's "thinking about" running for governor in 2014, when Dem Gov. Mark Dayton will be up for re-election. (Jeff Johnson—it's the name you know!)

OH-Gov: I think I love former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland as much as I hate the man who beat him two years ago, Republican John Kasich, and I fervently hope that Teddy Ballgame decides on a rematch for 2014. He's always kept the door open to the possibility, but he's 71 and there are other up-and-coming Dems (like Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald) who need Strickland to decide so that they can move forward with their own plans. But for now, we're still reading tea leaves, and here are dregs from the latest cuppa:

"Am I the candidate that is going to run against him? I'm certainly not prepared to say that," Strickland told The Plain Dealer just hours after both Obama and Brown were re-elected. "But I will be fully participating in efforts to get a Democrat in the governor's office. And I think there (are) strong possibilities other than myself that could do that. I haven't closed any doors but I haven't made any plans either."
VA-Gov: Hmm. Former DNC chair Terry McAuliffe, who lost in the 2009 Democratic gubernatorial primary, sent an email to supporters on Thursday saying "I plan on running for Governor of Virginia in 2013" and is reportedly calling supporters and major players to inform them of his plans. That's not the "hmm" part, though, since a repeat bid always seemed likely.

Rather, one such McAuliffe backer, Hampton mayor Molly Ward, says that T-Mac told her that Dem Sen. Mark Warner had "given him the green light" to proceed. Warner, a former governor himself, is also a potential 2013 candidate, and he recently told reporters that he'd decide by Thanksgiving. Warner's also said that other hopefuls shouldn't wait on him to decide, but I wonder if McAuliffe is maneuvering now to try to keep Warner out.

WA-Gov: The numbers tightened a tiny bit with Wednesday's count in the Washington gubernatorial race, where, as is Evergreen State tradition, we may be a few more days before we get a call. Dem Jay Inslee now leads GOPer Rob McKenna 51.1-48.9. King County, however, has at least 400,000 ballots yet to count. The Inslee camp estimates that McKenna would need to pull 45% in the remaining King County ballots to win (and 60% in the remaining non-King County ballots); however, he's currently pulling 37.3% in King County. For a more detailed analysis, you might check out the spreadsheet put together by our own dgb. (The "d" is for Dave, as in Dave's Redistricting App.) His straight-line extrapolation points to a 52.2% win for Inslee in the end.

As for why it takes so long to count all of Washington's ballots, it's always a convenient explanation to blame the state's vote-by-mail system, which only requires ballots to be postmarked by Election Day (as opposed to Oregon, which requires them to be received by Election Day). David Goldstein argues, though, that Oregon manages to get its count done much faster by virtue of putting more resources into the counting process, and by virtue of starting the count earlier (allowing ballots received early to be processed early). King County has a current processing capacity of only 75,000 ballots per day, so as long as that continues, it's going to take more than a week to count regardless of when the ballot deadline is. (David Jarman)


AZ-02, -09: We're still waiting for the remaining votes to be counted in Arizona's 2nd and 9th, but here's an update . In the 2nd, Republican Martha McSally's lead over Rep. Ron Barber has shrunk down to just 81 votes; given the trajectory (the initial gap was much wider), Barber may still have a shot at hanging on. Meanwhile, in the 9th, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema's edge over Vernon Parker continues to grow and now stands at 3,842 votes, making her look like a good bet to win.

California: There are still three Congressional races outstanding in California, each of which features a Democrat narrowly leading the incumbent Republican. The closeness of these races is reminding us of the protracted statewide count in the Attorney General race between Kamala Harris and Steve Cooley in 2010, but fortunately, each of our outstanding races are each contained in one county.

CA-07: In suburban Sacramento, Democrat Ami Bera narrowly leads Dan Lungren. The Sacramento elections board estimated 193,000 ballots left as of Wednesday evening (no further data became available Thursday), about half of which will be in CA-07. It's always better to be up than down, but Ami Bera's 184-vote margin still has some more trials to endure with likely more than 95,000 votes left to count.

CA-36: As of Thursday evening, Riverside County reports approximately 164,000 ballots outstanding countywide; that would translate to about 50-55K or so votes out there specifically in CA-36. Democrat Raul Ruiz added 122 votes to his margin over GOP Rep. Mary Bono Mack, which now stands at 4,679. As a result, assuming 55K ballots left, MBM's magic number (the percentage she needs of ballots remaining) has climbed to more than 54%, more than 6% higher than the 48.6% she's earned to date.

CA-52: Also as of Thursday evening, San Diego reports that there are about 375,000 ballots outstanding countywide which should be about 80-90K in CA-51. GOP Rep. Brian Bilbray now trails Democrat Scott Peters by 814 votes, which is 129 votes further back than he was a day earlier. Since Peters' margin is much narrower, Bilbray's magic number is about 50.5%, 0.7% higher than the 49.8% he's claimed to this point.

IL-02: I don't particularly care for Michael Sneed's third-person writing style, which makes his her writing sound somewhat gossipy ("Sneed has learned," "a top Sneed source," and the like), but his her past stories on Dem Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. have by-and-large panned out, so I'll mention this one: Sneed reports that Jackson "is in the midst of plea discussions with the feds probing his alleged misuse of campaign funds." We'll see where this one goes. Jackson, by the way, was just re-elected with 63% of the vote in his solid blue district—by far the weakest haul of his long career.

MI-01: Here's another candidate who isn't conceding even though his race was called by the AP: Democrat Gary McDowell, who currently trails GOP Rep. Dan Benishek by 2,297 votes. There are an unknown number of absentee and provisional ballots that remain uncounted, but more intriguing is this statement from McDowell, whose campaign says it is "looking to resolve discrepancies between AP-reported numbers and tallying errors in some counties." If this is in fact the case, it certainly wouldn't be the first time the AP has screwed up the vote count.

NE-02: Here's one more under-the-radar race that wound up shockingly close: GOP Rep. Lee Terry turned back underfunded Dem challenger John Ewing by just a 51-49 margin, meaning Ewing almost certainly ran ahead of Barack Obama. I will say we always thought an upset was possible and kept this one at "Likely R" the whole way through, though, precisely because we thought Obama could keep it close, because Terry's often underperformed, and because we believe enthusiasm among African-American voters would be unusually high, given that Ewing is one the area's most prominent black elected officials.

With some more money and a better-run campaign, Ewing might have pulled it off; if I were him, though, I'd think about waiting until 2016 to try again. However, he doesn't sound all that enthused, saying: "My initial thought is no, to be perfectly honest. But I don't know if I can give you a complete answer on that." Hopefully he'll change his mind.

UT-04: The AP is being ridiculous and has still refused to call the race in UT-04, where Dem Rep. Jim Matheson has a 2,646-vote lead over Mia Love, who in any event has conceded. So why are they holding off? Probably because there are some 43,000 provisional and mail ballots still left uncounted in Salt Lake County. But as explains, there's no way for them to change the outcome: Love would need 63% of those ballots in order to win, but among votes already tallied in SLCo., she's only taken 44%. That's an impossible hurdle, which explains why Love conceded the race. But it doesn't explain why the AP is being so obstinate.

On a related note, the Salt Lake Tribune has a lengthy look inside Matheson's exceptionally improbable win. One important detail: Libertarian Jim Vein took over 5,700 votes—more than the margin between Matheson and Love. A Democratic group called UTE PAC spent $10K on calls to Republican voters, trying to convince them to support Vein instead of Love. It looks like that ratfucking paid off handsomely.

Other Races:

State Leges: While some races are still undecided, the DLCC has done some preliminary math and they've concluded that Democrats have picked up a net of 170 state legislative seats nationwide. And if you haven't seen it yet, you'll also want to see their list of which chambers changed hands on Tuesday night.

And since we're on the subject, here's a new category to add to the DLCC's list: supermajorities broken. While Florida Democrats are still deep in the minority in both houses of the state legislature, they saw important gains on Tuesday night, and quite critically, those gains have erased the GOP's two-thirds majorities in both chambers. Also of note: Chris Dorworth, who was expected to become the next House speaker, appears to be on the verge of losing to an unheralded and underfunded Democratic challenger. While it would be an understatement to say there's an extremely long way to go before Democrats can even think about taking back power, at least this will put a few brakes on Republican extremism.

WA Ballot: Great news! The AP has now called the contest for Washington state's same-sex marriage ballot measure for the good guys. Though there are votes still remaining to be counted, opponents have thrown in the towel. This means gay marriage supporters went an amazing four-for-four this cycle, approving marriage equality in Maryland and Maine as well, and also rejecting a ban in Minnesota.

Grab Bag:

Polltopia: We're sensing a new trend: newspapers hanging their own pollsters out to dry. One is the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, which published a story about how the pollsters basically got Pennsylvania right ... except for their very own pollster, Susquehanna (who almost single-handedly got susceptible people thinking that the Keystone State was competitive). That seems like basic CYA more than a stark callout, though, as Susquehanna is a Republican polling firm and the Tribune-Review is an explicitly right-wing paper.

The second incident seems more important, though: A much bigger and more serious paper, the Miami Herald, published a story giving its own much higher-profile and more seriously-regarded pollster, Mason-Dixon, the opportunity to address its final poll that gave Mitt Romney a 6-point lead in Florida on election eve. M-D's director, Brad Coker, goes ahead and blames Hurricane Sandy for screwing up his sample (which, of course, had nothing to do with Florida). Given the skepticism with which the Herald's article treats Coker's excuses, you've got to wonder whether Mason-Dixon (who were already sacked by the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2010 after their woeful NV-Sen polling) will still be working for the paper next time. (David Jarman)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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