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Leading Off:

OR-Sen, OR-Gov: Public Policy Polling's new look at Oregon indicates that the 2014 Senate and gubernatorial races aren't on track to become competitive, unless the GOP can scrape up either of the state's two top-tier options: Gordon Smith or Greg Walden. (And they won't: Smith is ensconced on K Street, while Walden was just tapped to run the NRCC and isn't about to give that up.) Freshman Sen. Jeff Merkley and three-term Gov. John Kitzhaber both have solid approvals (44/29 and 50/41 respectively), though the state's most popular politician remains Dem Sen. Ron Wyden (at 57/24). Here are the head-to-heads. First Merkley:

• 47-43 vs. ex-Sen. Gordon Smith
• 47-42 vs. Rep. Greg Walden
• 53-36 vs. state GOP chair & loser of '10 gubernatorial primary Allen Alley
• 52-34 vs. state House co-speaker Bruce Hanna
• 52-32 vs. state Sen. & loser of '12 Labor Comm. race Bruce Starr

And Kitzhaber looks much the same:

• 47-42 vs. Smith
• 49-40 vs. Walden
• 52-37 vs. Alley
• 52-33 vs. Hanna
• 53-31 vs. Starr

Oregonians also looked poised to move forward on a potential initiative to approve same-sex marriage: They favor the idea 54-40, including 68-30 among voters under age 45. Perhaps the most shocking number from the sample is that respondents approve of the Oregon Ducks' quirky football uniforms—which have often resembled an explosion at the Mountain Dew factory—by a 43-13 margin.


MA-Sen: It's not as big as the $25 million that Mitt Romney had left over, but Scott Brown finds himself with a fair amount of money still in his pockets after his losing effort: $464,000, though he says after remaining bills are settled up, it'll be more like $150-$200K.

Bear in mind, though, that that money could be applied toward his next Senate run, if John Kerry's seat becomes vacant and there's another special election. (Of course, $200K is barely a down payment on a Senate race, and some of the state's current or former Democratic House members he might run against are sitting on more than that.) The more interesting question, though (and one I haven't found an answer for yet), is whether Massachusetts law would allow him to transfer those federal dollars over to a 2014 gubernatorial race.

MO-Sen: Busted! After all its loud pronouncements that it wouldn't give one penny more to Todd Akin after his "legitimate rape" implosion, now it turns out that the NRSC did, in fact, slip a fair amount of last-minute money to Akin in the campaign's waning weeks. Records released on Thursday reveal that the NRSC sent $760K to the Missouri state Republican Party in early November, as the state party was trying to salvage the race with a flight of pro-Akin ads.

Not only does this open up the NRSC to all sorts of charges of hypocrisy, though (and it has to leave future GOP candidates wondering even more than before how much they can trust them), it doesn't even make much sense from a tactical standpoint. Sure, the NRSC was in a pickle at that point watching various races slip away from them, but this one had (unless you wanted to go by Mason-Dixon and Wenzel polling) already fallen off the chart long before, and another $760K wasn't going to make a difference. So think how much more damage that money could have done in North Dakota or Montana, where the races were much closer (and the airtime cheaper). Of course, the airwaves in all the more competitive states may have already been booked solid by that point, but just banking the money toward 2014 may have been a more sound tactical decision by then.

SC-Sen-B: If you were worried that the race to find a replacement for the recently-resigned Jim DeMint might not be as hilarious as it could be, don't worry. Ex-Gov. Mark Sanford—thanks to whom we'll never be able to look at the "Appalachian Trail" the same way again—has just expressed his sort-of interest in the job (saying "it's not a 'no,' but it's not a 'yes'").


GA-Gov: The Georgia governor's race in 2014 is getting short shrift with most of the attention going to the Senate race (which could involve a cat fud-flavored primary on the Republican side), but Public Policy Polling finds that Dems shouldn't necessarily write it off. First-term GOP Gov. Nathan Deal has only middling popularity—37/40 approvals—and he leads potential Democratic challengers by only single digits. That includes Rep. John Barrow at 44-40, Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed at 47-40, and state Sen. Jason Carter at 46-38. Contrast that with the Senate race, which would likely require a bank shot (the loss of Saxby Chambliss to a more conservative Republican in the primary) to be competitive.

MA-Gov: This is well short of formally passing the torch to her or even throwing some elbows to clear a path, but it sounds like Deval Patrick may have a successor in mind as Massachusetts governor: He's been talking up U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz with legislative insiders for the job. It's not the first time we've seen her name mentioned for the job (we first took note of her in March, for instance), but this indicates she may be something more than a dark horse.

NJ-Gov: I still can't see Newark Mayor Cory Booker getting into the New Jersey gubernatorial race, when the 2014 Senate race (which seems likely to be an open seat) presents a more tempting target. But he isn't explicitly ruling it out yet; he says he'll make a formal decision by mid-December (which, presumably, would be in the next couple weeks).

PA-Gov, PA-13: I'd kind of mentally ruled-out Rep. Allyson Schwartz from a gubernatorial run; if she were to go for a promotion, it's always seemed like it'd be on the Senate side, especially with Pat Toomey offering a huge target in 2016. But we now have some anecdotal evidence that she's gearing up for something bigger: She just hired key insider Aubrey Montgomery, who has headed fundraising for the state Democratic Party, for her own operation. I still would have thought that meant prepping for '16, but the article contains off-the-record quotes from unnamed Democrats that she's "considering" a gubernatorial run. Given how hard Gov. Tom Corbett's approvals have dropped in the wake of his education cuts, it's not unreasonable; he might actually be more vulnerable than Toomey.


CA-15: The defeat of twenty-term veteran Pete Stark by 31-year-old Eric Swalwell in California's 15th tends to get left off the year's "biggest upset" lists (probably because the seat stayed in Democratic hands), but you may be left wondering how he did it. The New Republic has a good profile of the new congressman, looking back at his flair for showmanship while in college student government, and his low-budget but nimble campaign.

Grab Bag:

Ads: The troika of the AFSCME, SEIU, and NEA is back with another round of ads warning four congresscritters to keep their hands off Medicare and Medicaid benefits. Their targeting is kind of unusual: On the Senate side, they're going after two centrist Dems, Claire McCaskill and Mark Warner. On the House side, they're aiming at two conservative-but-not-steeped-in-tea Republicans, including one who won't even be around starting next month: Pat Tiberi and Denny Rehberg, who is retiring after losing the Montana Senate race to Jon Tester.

Demographics: In case you missed it, our own dreaminonempty is out with another deep dive into the exit polls, looking at how much different generations have comported with the old saw that voters get more conservative as they get older.

PACs: You're probably well aware of the now-resigned Jim DeMint's track record as "kingmaker" in the Senate, thanks to his Senate Conservatives Fund PAC and its meddling in GOP primaries, but just how successful was he at moving the numbers? NBC's First Read has calculated the damage, and it shows that he may have been most successful at moving numbers for... the Democrats.

They found that of the 20 races where his PAC spent money, his preferred candidate won the primary election 15 times... but his preferred candidate won the general election only 7 times. His success stories were Ron Johnson, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Pat Toomey, Ted Cruz, and Jeff Flake, but on the other side of the balance sheet are Sharron Angle, Ken Buck, Joe Miller, Christine O'Donnell, John Raese, Dino Rossi, Josh Mandel, and Richard Mourdock.

That may still be a better bang-for-the-buck record, though, than Marco Rubio's comparable Reclaim America PAC (a "leadership PAC," separate from his own campaign fund). Recent data suggests it's mostly just a slush fund, with only 4.6% of the money its spends being spent on other candidates (the industry-wide average on leadership PACs is 46% spent on other candidates). Only $75K of the fund's $1.6 million spent went to other candidates; by contrast, $478K went to consultants.

Pres-by-CD: We added one state (Colorado) and one county today (San Diego CA), for a another 12 congressional districts with presidential election results:

California (CA-49 through CA-53)

Colorado (Statewide)

The swing in Colorado was more uniform than in most, which each district having given Obama between 1 and 3 points lesser than it did in 2008. (Obama carried CO-06 by about 5, further evidence that GOP Rep. Mike Coffman will likely stay on Democratic target lists.) Obama's wild improvement in minority-heavy districts continues, having raised his share by several points in the heavily Hispanic CA-51.

In addition, the Washington SoS office graced us with its own spreadsheet of pres-by-CD calculations, saving us the trouble. Much as with Colorado, the movement was a uniform swing of 1-2 points in Romney's direction in each CD. (The one slightly-worse outlier was Vancouver-based WA-03, dropping from 51-47 to 48-50.)

Redistricting Roundup:

KS Redistricting: Yes, you read that right, and no, we're not getting an early start on the 2020 cycle. Kansas, you might recall, had its redistricting process fall into disarray despite a Republican trifecta because of infighting between moderates and conservatives and wound up having a federal court draw its map. Well, now that conservatives have firm control over the state Senate after last year's primaries, they're interested in going back and drawing their own map and are currently researching as to whether state law would let them do so. Despite their dominance in the chamber, it sounds like conservatives want to gild the lily and deploy their dream maps on the legislative level. (With a 4-0 Republican House delegation in Washington, it's harder to imagine any changes to the federal lines.)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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