• CA-07: That's a wrap, folks! The AP has now called CA-07 for Democrat Ami Bera, who defeats GOP Rep. Dan Lungren. Thursday evenining's update from Sacramento County put Bera up 5,696 votes over Lungren, meaning he captured more than 54.7 percent of the almost 20,000 votes counted since Wednesday. That brings the number of ballots outstanding to the 20,000-25,000 range; even assuming (generously) 25,000 votes left to be counted, Lungren would need more than 61% of them. That's not going to happen, which is why the AP made it's call. Congratulations, Congressman-elect Ami Bera!
• KY-Sen: Ordinarily, I wouldn't care much about the head of EMILY's List saying she likes the idea of an Ashley Judd candidacy in Kentucky, but I was a little surprised to see Stephanie Schriock reveal that she'd "had some initial conversations" with Judd about running against GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell. I doubt anything will come of it, but this at least is a bit further along than the usual celebrity speculation. (Tommy Lee Jones for TX-Sen, anyone?) Still, I suspect the idea of a Judd run is likely still-born, given her opposition to mountain-top coal-mining and the fact that she currently lives in Tennessee.
• MD-Gov: State Del. Heather Mizeur says she's "taking a very serious look" at a run for governor in 2014, when Gov. Martin O'Malley will be term-limited out. Given the other big Democratic names looking to succeed MO'M, though, Mizeur may actually be making a play for LG—something she denies. But Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown is an almost sure bet to run (he already has O'Malley's support), and he's term-limited as well anyway, so his seat will be open. Other big names who might run include AG Doug Gansler, state Comptroller Peter Franchot, and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman.
• PA-Gov: Quinnipiac's new poll of Pennsylvania unfortunately doesn't test any head-to-heads against GOP Gov. Tom Corbett, who's up for re-election in 2014, but they do have new job approval numbers for him. His ratings have shot up to 40-38, from a miserable 35-50 (his all-time low) over the summer. Quinnipiac thinks that Corbett's response to Hurricane Sandy (which earns him positive marks on a separate question) may have helped his overall ratings. But Sandy didn't have nearly the impact in PA as it did in NY and NJ, so I have to wonder if that bump will fade.
There's also a new Democratic name in the mix: John Hanger, who served as head of ex-Gov. Ed Rendell's Dept. of Environmental Protection, says he's "seriously looking at running." Hanger says he wouldn't take the plunge, though, if Rendell (who was termed out in 2010) wanted to take another go at things, or if newly-reelected Sen. Bob Casey decides to seek his dad's old job.
Oh, and for the sake of completeness, there's one other person who gets constantly mentioned but whose intentions, as ever, remain a mystery: ex-Rep. Joe Sestak, the honey badger of Pennsylvania politics. PoliticsPA also goes through the Great Mentioner routine and handicaps just about every conceivable name, both Democrat and Republican, who could go up against Corbett.
• AZ-02: As you know if you've been following the overtime race in Arizona's 2nd District, Dem Rep. Ron Barber's lead over Republican Martha McSally has been bouncing around—it now stands at 923, as of Thursday evening. But the more important point, as Taniel observes, is that conservative Cochise County has finished counting. That means any remaining ballots are in blue-tilting Pima (which accounts for over 80 percent of the district's population). And that means things are looking particularly hopeless for McSally.
• CA-52: As of Thursday evening, Democrat Scott Peters now leads incumbent GOPer Brian Bilbray by 3,877 votes, an increase of 929 votes from before. These late-counted ballots have been particularly friendly to Peters, who got 54.3 percent of the 11,000 just added in the last batch. The San Diego County Registrar is estimating 120,000 ballots outstanding countywide, which means about 30,000 in CA-52. Under that assumption, Bilbray's magic number is now 56.4 percent. For reference, Mary Bono Mack's magic number in CA-36 was almost 59 percent when she conceded to Raul Ruiz. Peters isn't sitting as pretty as Ruiz was just yet, but if the trend continues, another update or two will get him there.
• FL-18: A judge in St. Lucie County has scheduled a hearing for Friday afternoon regarding GOP Rep. Allen West's insistence that all early eight days of early voting in the county be counted a second time, not just the partial set of three days that was already retabulated. The county must certify its results on Sunday, and the state will do the same on Tuesday, so time is running short (though presumably the judge could extend the deadlines if need be).
Meanwhile, West is saying nope, he won't move back to his home state of Georgia to run for office there, after the state Republican chair invited him to do so. West said he's moved around too much as a military guy and that his wife wanted to retire to Florida, so that's where he'll stay.
• NC-07: We finally have an updated vote count in NC-07, where Dem Rep. Mike McIntyre now reportedly has a 483-vote lead over Republican David Rouzer, up from 420 previously. The SBOE still shows a 420-vote edge, but counties have been completing their individual canvasses and this new total reflects those final numbers from two jurisdictions. The remaining counties will complete their official counts on Thursday, and results are expected to be certified Friday. At that point, Rouzer (who will very likely still be trailing by then) will have to decide whether to seek a recount. The law allows for one, but four or five hundred votes are a lot to make up.
• NY-27: Hahah!
• TN-04: I have no words:
A decade before calling himself "a consistent supporter of pro-life values," Tennessee physician and Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais supported his ex-wife's decision to get two abortions before their marriage, according to the congressman's sworn testimony during his divorce trial.Man. If this stuff had come out before election day, Eric Stewart might have pulled off an extraordinary upset. As it was, he widely outperformed the 4th District's incredibly conservative lean and lost by "only" 11 points. (The seat probably went for Mitt Romney by over 30.) But while that's all in the past, DesJarlais certainly has his future to worry about—a future which is now sure to include a serious challenge in the GOP primary. I wouldn't be surprised at all if DesJarlais didn't seek a third term, and I wouldn't even be surprised if he resigned over this.
Obtained by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the couple's 2001 trial transcript also confirms DesJarlais had sexual relationships with at least two patients, three coworkers and a drug representative while he was chief of staff at Grandview Medical Center in Jasper, Tenn. During one affair with a female patient, DesJarlais prescribed her drugs, gave her an $875 watch and bought her a plane ticket to Las Vegas, records show.
Oh, and there's much more at the link. And wow, you can also find the entire 679-page transcript here. Much, much, much more there as well.
• TX-15: Dem Rep. Ruben Hinojosa was just elected to take over the Congressional Hispanic Caucus from fellow Texan Charlie Gonzalez, who is retiring from Congress. We mention this because there had been some retirement speculation last cycle regarding the 72-year-old Hinojosa, mostly because his family has been mired in financial troubles. He also experienced a disconcerting moment a few weeks ago when, at a debate, he said: "I’m drawing a blank on the Second Amendment, but I think it's the weapons, isn't it? The NRA?" Presumably, though, his ascension to the top of the CHC means he plans to stick around.
• CA-St. Asm: Gentlemen, start your taxing! It took more than a week of counting, but the Democratic supermajorities in the California legislature are finally a done deal. The last two close races in the California Assembly, necessary to get over the 2/3rds mark, were finally called in the last few days. First was AD-32 in the Central Valley, where Dem Rudy Salas defeated GOPer Pedro Rios; this was followed on Thursday by the call in Orange County's AD-65, where Dem Sharon Quirk-Silva defeated incumbent GOPer Chris Norby (the latest count put her ahead by 3,348 votes). (David Jarman)
• NC-LG: Probably the highest-level uncalled race left in the land is for lieutenant governor in North Carolina, where Democrat Linda Coleman trails Republican Dan Forest by 10,300 votes. As with NC-07 (see above), results should be finalized on Friday. A key difference, though: Coleman needs to get that margin down to 10,000 in order to seek a recount, since state law allows for one only if the spread is 0.5 percent or 10K—whichever is less. In this case, Coleman is behind by about a quarter of a percent, so it's the 10K threshold which is the sticking point. She's engaged in some legal wrangling over uncounted ballots to try to alter the calculus, but even if she somehow does get into recount territory, it's hard to imagine altering the result when the margin is that large.
• Freshmen: Newly-elected members of the 113th Congress are in Washington, DC this week for their first orientation program. That includes the biannual tradition of the class photo:
• Libertarians: As we've perused last week's election returns, we'd noticed a number of races where Libertarian candidates appear to have played spoiler for Republicans—certainly, more than we're accustomed to. While we haven't run a comparison with prior cycles, we've identified no fewer than nine contests in 2012 where the Libertarian received more votes than the difference between the Democratic and Republican candidates. What's more, none of these involved the typical 1 or maybe 2 percent you ordinarily expect a Lib to garner: Looking at the three-way vote, all but one were over 3 percent, and three took 6 percent or more, with a high of 6.5 percent in the Montana Senate race. These definitely seem like unusually high figures.
So what's going on here? I wouldn't want to speculate too much based on this limited data set. But I could easily believe that a growing proportion of conservative-leaning voters are too disgusted with the GOP to pull the Republican lever, but who won't vote for Democrats either, are choosing a third option and going Libertarian instead. This thesis dovetails with something else we saw this year: independents generally leaning more rightward simply because at least some former Republicans are now refusing to identify with their old party. It's not much of a stretch to imagine that some folks like that don't want to vote for their old party either.
The chart below summarizes our findings. (Note that MI-11 refers to the unexpired term for ex-Rep. Thad McCotter's seat, not the full-two year term that starts in January.) It's too facile to say that without the Lib, every Democrat would have lost. But some very likely would have, so it's reasonable to conclude that the Libertarian Party gifted quite a few seats to Team Blue this year. Thanks, friends!
|Race||Dem||Votes||GOP||Votes||Lib||Votes||(L) %||(D) - (R)||Margin|
AZ-Sen: LibertarianAnd Democratic wins:
NV-Sen: "None of the above" and Independent American Party
CO-06: Libertarian and an independent
IL-13: An independent
MI-01: Libertarian and Green
MI-11: U.S. Taxpayers (in addition to Libertarian in chart above)It's hard to imagine the Libertarians helping Republicans in IN-Gov, CO-06, IN-02, and MI-01, just like it's hard to imagine the Green Party helping Democrats in NY-24. However, it's not inconceivable that the Green hurt Dems in MI-01, though that may have been balanced out by the Lib (who got more votes). Something similar may have happened in CO-06 as well. IL-13 is harder to read, and Nevada's unique "none of the above" option is a real scrambler, though the IAP is decidedly right-wing. So is the U.S. Taxpayers party in MI-11, but as we noted, there was also a Libertarian there as well.
• Models: Polling averages often don't predict the election margin correctly, even if they do predict the winner. Usually, they underestimate the Democrat's performance in blue states, and underestimate the Republican's performance in red states. We can attempt to correct for this by simply adding a number to the polling average margin in each state based on how "red" or "blue" each state is. This simple model, developed by Daily Kos Elections' dreaminonempty, was successful: It resulted in predictions that, on average, were indeed more accurate than the polling averages alone—and, surprisingly, more accurate than Nate Silver's predictions as well. Click through for dreamin's full explanation of the results.
• Pres-by-CD: Virginia appears to be one of the few states in the nation which actually makes presidential results by congressional district available from an official source, which you can find at the link. I will caution, though, that pres-by-CD data published by the legislature following redistricting turned out to be wrong. This data should hopefully be more accurate (and it comes from a different source, the State Board of Elections). Note, though, that there are still a few precincts outstanding in most CDs, but if these numbers are correct, they should be very close to the final tallies. (Hat-tip: telephasic and Johnny Longtorso)
• Polltopia: If you want to check out a bunch of amusing, half-hearted mea culpas from pollsters whose numbers and/or prejudices this year were far too friendly toward Republicans, check out the quotes gathered up by NPR at the link. There's some good stuff there, from the likes of known problem children such as David Paleologos (Suffolk) and Brad Coker (Mason-Dixon), as well as Harry Wilson, from the less-scrutinized but just-as-culpable Roanoke College. Wilson makes the most fulsome admission, saying: "I was drinking that Republican Kool-Aid."
• WATN?: You may recall Annette Taddeo from her run against GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in the old FL-18 in 2008, and you might all remember she was mentioned as a possible candidate against soon-to-be-ex-Rep. David Rivera, who just lost to Joe Garcia in the new FL-26. Now Taddeo's seeking to become chair of the Florida Democratic Party, since outgoing chair Rod Smith (whose term ends in January) is not standing for re-election.