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Leading Off:

SC-01: It's going to be former Charleston County Councilor Curtis Bostic against ex-Gov. Mark Sanford in the April 2 GOP runoff. On Tuesday night, after all precincts had reported, state Sen. Larry Grooms trailed Bostic by fewer than 500 votes for the second spot, putting him inside the 1 percent margin for an automatic recount. Grooms initially indicated he planned to wait for the recount to take place, but overnight he changed his mind and basically conceded to Bostic. (Weirdly, a Grooms spokesman later tried to insist his boss hadn't really conceded, but barring some amazing development, round one is over.)

Now the question is whether Bostic, who raised comparatively little money but relied on evangelical fervor to give him just enough of an edge, can rally the anti-Sanford forces around him. It seems like a tall order: He only took 13 percent of the vote (versus 37 for Sanford), and he has just two weeks in which to make up the difference. What the also-rans (including Grooms) decide to do will offer one clue. If they endorse Bostic en masse, that might offer him some hope. It certainly wouldn't be unheard of for the runoff to take an unexpected turn, particularly with a figure as polarizing as Sanford leading the way, but Bostic has his work cut out for him.

P.S. Sean Sullivan examines the history of the last 11 House runoffs in the Palmetto State, dating back to 1998. Over that period of time, the winner in the first round went on to secure his or her party's nomination seven times, so that offers some hope for Bostic.


MI-Sen: Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, the Democrats' 2010 nominee for governor, has pretty much taken himself out of the running for the state's newly open Senate seat. Bernero "pegged his interest in the U.S. Senate seat opening in 2014 at 1 or 2" on a scale of 1 to 10, which sounds pretty definitive, plus he's also running for re-election as mayor this year.

WV-Sen: The National Journal's Sarah Mimms reports that Democrats are talking up a new name for West Virginia's open Senate seat: attorney Nick Preservati. Preservati is an attorney who looks to be in his early 40s; most notably, says Mimms, he comes from a wealthy family that has "long been involved in the coal mining industry," and he also helped Joe Manchin get elected to the Senate in 2010. He's never held office before, so that means there's no voting record to tie him to, plus he could self-fund and hold himself out as being unequivocally pro-coal. Sounds good on paper (for West Virginia), so it makes sense that he's reportedly been talking to the DSCC. Whether a first-timer like Preservati has actual chops on the campaign trail is always a separate question, of course.


FL-Gov: For the second week in a row, Quinnipiac has released a poll of the same state and the same race as PPP, just one day later. This time it's Florida, only the difference here is that Quinnipiac's numbers are even worse for Republicans than PPP's, whereas last week, the roles were reversed. Here, ex-Gov. Charlie Crist beats the man who succeeded him, Republican Rick Scott, 50-34, while Scott's 2010 opponent, Alex Sink, also has a sizable edge, 45-34. PPP, by contrast, had Crist up 52-40 and Sink ahead 45-40. Either way, life still sucks for Rick Scott.

Interestingly, though, Quinnipiac found almost identical results in a hypothetical GOP primary between Scott and state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. Scott's ahead 47-24 in that matchup versus 48-24 in PPP's test. On one level, those numbers might seem heartening for Scott's renomination chances, but Putnam is absolutely unknown, with 80 percent of respondents expressing no opinion of him. That also explains why he fares worse than Scott when paired with the two Democrats: He loses 49-30 to Crist and 37-29 to Sink.

Those results are instructive. The well-known Crist performs similarly in either scenario, but Sink's toplines drop from 45 against Scott to 37 against Putnam. That indicates that Sink (about whom 58 percent say they "haven't heard enough" to say whether they like her or not) is the beneficiary of a whole bunch of "Anybody But Scott" sentiment. It's why Democrats should probably hope for a messy Republican primary that Scott nevertheless wins.

IL-Gov: It's pretty rare that we'd mention a non-endorsement in these pages, but when a state's senior senator declines to support the re-election campaign of his own governor, that strikes me as a bit newsy. That's exactly what Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, just did at recent reporters' round table, refusing to offer his backing to embattled Gov. Pat Quinn. Durbin did, however, talk up state AG Lisa Madigan, who seems likely to challenge Quinn in the primary—and if you read between the lines, it sounds like he also tried to gently dissuade former White House chief of staff Bill Daley from getting in as well. That would give Madigan a clear shot at Quinn, and polls show she'd house him.


GA-12: Buried at the end of this item (which discusses an email from Dem Rep. John Barrow to his supporters that raises the possibility he might run for Senate) is a note about Barrow's current district, GA-12. Jim Galloway reports that former state Senate President pro tem Tommie Williams, who received Great Mentioner treatment earlier this year, was in DC earlier this week for recruitment talks with the NRCC. Williams, however, declined to run against Barrow last cycle.

WI-01: Democrat Rob Zerban, who lost to Rep. Paul Ryan last year by a 55-43 margin, announced on Wednesday that he's exploring a rematch. Though Zerban didn't receive much love from DC Dems in 2012, he actually performed almost identically to two much more heavily touted candidates in Wisconsin's 7th and 8th Districts. Part of his difficulty, of course, was due to Ryan getting tapped as Mitt Romney's running-mate, which gave Ryan a level of prominence few House candidates ever achieve.

But ultimately, the 1st is a traditionally Republican district, and it reverted to form after Barack Obama narrowly won it in 2008, this time going for Mitt Romney by a 52-47 margin. Those results also show that Ryan, running on his own, was more popular than the presidential ticket. While that's embarrassing for Romney (what else is new?), it also means that Ryan has a pretty decent cushion to fall back on in future election campaigns. And with his celebrity status, he'll always be able to raise tons of money, making any chance of unseating him pretty difficult.

Other Races:

Special Elections: The SC-01 primary wasn't the only race on tap on Tuesday. It turns out that New Hampshire special election we mentioned previously wasn't on Saturday (as we'd originally thought) but instead took place on Tuesday night. Johnny has a brief recap:

NH HD-Hillsborough 9: Bill O'Neil holds the seat for the Democrats, beating Republican Win Hutchinson by a 297-260 vote margin.
More here.

Grab Bag:

DSCC/NRSC: The DSCC outraised the NRSC for the second month in a row, and by a wide margin: $4.3 million to $2.2 million. That brings the Senate Dems to $8.5 million on the year, versus $3.7 million for Republicans. We'll bring you a full party committee fundraising chart in the next Digest.

Florida: PPP's Florida miscellany writeup didn't really have anything that caught my eye, but in the PDF, you'll find Democrats ahead on the generic congressional ballot, 46-43. That inspired me to look back at PPP's final 2012 question (PDF) on the topic, and in late October, Dems also had a 3 point edge, 48-45. So how did PPP do?

Well, it's kind of a loaded question. Republicans actually won the overall House vote in the Sunshine State 51-45, but the district lines are so badly gerrymandered to favor the GOP that you can't really make a reasonable comparison between those numbers and a generic ballot test. To put this in context, Republicans hold 17 Florida House seats versus just 10 for Democrats¬—in an evenly-divided state that Barack Obama won.

Instead, I'd look at it this way: The voter universe that PPP saw in November (with Democrats ahead 3) led to Dems winning all the seats they were "supposed to," plus one "extra" seat that should be viewed as a major bonus, FL-18 (where Patrick Murphy upset Allen West in a district that voted for Romney). Since PPP is still seeing D+3, that ought to be good news for Murphy if that type of environment holds for the next couple of years, though that's naturally a huge "if." Conversely, it may not be enough for Democrats to flip other targets, like FL-02 and FL-10, though I think other factors, such as candidate quality and the lack of a presidential race, may play a bigger role.

Pres-by-CD: With results from Monmouth County, we can bring you results for the last two New Jersey districts outstanding, NJ-04 and NJ-06. These results fit the general trend that we've been seeing: the Republican-leaning NJ-04 swung against Obama by about 0.6 percent (to 54.2 percent Romney), while Democratic-leaning NJ-06 swung towards Obama by about 3 percent (to 61.4 percent Obama). The swing in NJ-06 makes sense given how the district is laid out: The less Democratic-leaning Monmouth County portion saw a sharper turnout drop (likely due to Superstorm Sandy), while the more Democratic Middlesex County portion saw a sharp swing towards Obama (about 4 percent), likely due to the sizable Hispanic and Asian populations in that jurisdiction.

In terms of new results, this leaves just the four Nassau County, NY districts left, NY-02 through NY-05. It's likely that they all voted for Obama, though Peter King's NY-02 is somewhat of a question mark. We'll know for certain when we get Nassau's results ... which will happen eventually, we hope!

There are also a few districts we've updated thanks to finally receiving official results from LaSalle County, TX and Somerset County, PA. Somerset's handwritten results are especially hilarious, which you can see for yourself here (PDF). None of the changes swing more than 20 votes in any direction, so none of the percentages that we'd previously calculated are affected either. (jeffmd)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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