• NJ-Gov: Hmm. That Quinnipiac poll showing Cory Booker's lead dropping to just 12 points in the Senate race prompted some eyebrow-raising, and now their new gubernatorial numbers add a further question mark. As in the Senate race, Quinnipiac is using a likely voter screen for the first time, and in so doing, GOP Gov. Chris Christie has shot up to monster 64-30 edge over Democrat Barbara Buono. Their prior survey, which relied on registered voters, had Christie up 28 points, so the two can't be directly compared, but this is one of the largest leads Christie's had in a while. Is he really going to win by that much?
I'm also concerned that there's some weird cross-pollination taking place between the two races. Quinnipiac indicates they relied on a smaller sample for what will be a lower-turnout October special election for Senate versus the traditional November contest for governor, 948 voters versus 1,249. But the field dates for both polls were the same, so the Senate data is piggybacking on the gubernatorial data, and it's hard to say how this might affect the results. It goes without saying that back-to-back statewide elections like this are extremely unusual, and it may be hard to get an accurate read on each race when polling both at once.
At least Quinnipiac is using different screens for each race, though, as have Monmouth and Rutgers, two other schools that have released likely voters numbers. But it appears that Stockton College relied on the same sample for both contests in their recent poll, as did Kean University in their new survey, for which they relied on Pulse Opinion Research (aka Rasmussen-for-hire). Like Stockton, Kean/POR seems to have used a single sample with a single screen, finding Christie up 52-34 and Booker ahead 52-32 over Republican Steve Lonegan. This is really no way to poll.
• IL-Sen: A new poll from conservative pollster We Ask America finds Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin leading state Sen. Jim Oberweis 50-39, and the wealthy Oberweis now says he's considering a bid. (The poll was apparently not conducted for him.) We've noted We Ask America's poor Illinois track record in the past—they consistently over-estimated GOP performance there in 2012. But if Oberweis wants to draw encouragement from a friendly poll showing him down 11 and the incumbent at 50, well, considering how many races he's lost, that would be fitting.
• VA-Gov: Rasmussen Reports: Terry McAuliffe (D): 44 (45), Ken Cuccinelli (R): 38 (38).
• AL-01: As expected, Tuesday night's GOP primary in the special election to fill ex-Rep. Jo Bonner's seat was inconclusive, and a runoff will be held on Nov. 5 between ex-state Sen. Bradley Byrne and businessman Dean Young. Byrne finished first with 35 percent while Young took 23 for the second slot. (State Rep. Chad Fincher was third with 16.)
The matchup in this dark red district is about as classic as they come for the modern GOP. Byrne is an establishment fixture who believes in bringing home federal bacon for his constituents; Young is a tea partying religious fundamentalist who wants to impeach Barack Obama and said during the campaign, "I'm against homosexuals pretending like they're married."
After his win Tuesday, Byrne was immediately endorsed by conservative columnist Quin Hillyer, the fourth-place finisher, and local analyst George Talbot thinks Byrne is likely to garner more support from backers of the other also-rans. But Young has enthusiasm on his side, as well as the endorsement of Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, a potent figure in the conservative movement. Byrne has all the traditional advantages, but a tea party upset is very much a possibility here.
• MA-05: State Sen. Karen Spilka has released another internal poll from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, once again showing her neck-and-neck with fellow state Sen. Karen Spilka in the Democratic primary. Compared to her July numbers, though, there's mostly been very little relative movement in the special election to fill Ed Markey's seat:
Katherine Clark: 19 (15)Sciortino, a state representative, has seen the greatest improvement, which makes sense, since this poll went into the field after his popular "tea party dad" ad started circulating. But given the low vote shares for each candidate, the tight spread between first and last, and the still-sizable portion of undecideds out there, this race seems very much up for grabs.
Karen Spilka: 18 (14)
Peter Koutoujian: 15 (12)
Will Brownsberger: 11 (11)
Carl Sciortino: 11 (4)
Undecided: 26 (43)
• NY-24: I'd figured that GOP ex-Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle wasn't going to make a comeback bid after President Obama nominated her for a seat on the Consumer Products Safety Commission. But now she's made it official that she won't challenge Rep. Dan Maffei in this blue-leaning district in upstate New York next year.
• OH-16, -Sen: Does the name Benjamin Suarez ring a bell? He's the wealthy GOP donor and businessman whose employees started making suspiciously large donations, seemingly in concert, to two Ohio Republicans, state Treasurer (2012 Senate nominee) Josh Mandel and 16th District Rep. Jim Renacci. The Toledo Blade uncovered the story in 2011, and though Suarez denied reimbursing his workers—which is illegal—the New Republic reported last year that the FBI was investigating the matter.
On Wednesday, Suarez and a business partner were indicted in federal court on charges that they "recruited company employees and spouses to contribute to the two Republicans' campaigns, then reimbursed them through payments disguised first as 'salary' and later 'profit sharing.' " Mandel and Renacci gave back all the tainted money last year (which amounted to six figures each), and neither were mentioned in the indictments, but a press release from the U.S. Attorney's office notes that the investigation is "ongoing."
• Boston Mayor: Tuesday night's primary in Beantown added some clarity to this chaotic race by mercifully winnowing the candidates left in the running from twelve to two. Taking first with 18.5 percent was state Rep. Marty Walsh; his November 5 general election opponent will be City Councilor (and fellow Democrat) John Connolly, who won 17.2 percent. Close behind but not close enough was non-profit exec Charlotte Golar Richie at 13.8 percent.
Walsh's first place finish was a pretty big surprise: The three polls released last week agreed Connolly would win the most votes with Walsh in a heated battle for second place with several other candidates. It appears either the polls were a bit off when it came to Walsh's final percentage, or he enjoyed a very late surge.
Turning to the general, those same polls suggest Connolly has a significant advantage over Walsh. MassINC, the University of New Hampshire, and Suffolk University each show Connolly with a significantly better net favorability ratings than Walsh, while Suffolk released a (now no-longer hypothetical) head-to-head matchup in which Connolly easily defeated Walsh 44 to 29. However, these polls underestimated Walsh before and now that there are only two candidates left, a lot can change. (Darth Jeff)
• NC State Sen: PPP has conducted a ton of generic legislative polling in North Carolina, and thanks to Republican over-reach, the numbers have consistently looked good for Democrats. The problem, of course, is that thanks to the GOP's devilish gerrymanders, a lead on the generic ballot doesn't necessarily translate into gains in actual districts. But PPP's now shedding more light on the situation with polls of eight separate state Senate seats, and the results are positive for Democrats.
Two Republican senators, when paired against a generic Dem, trail by sizable margins: Thom Goolsby in the 9th by 12 points, and Wesley Meredith in the 19th by 7. Meredith is the only GOP senator to hold a district won by Barack Obama last year, which actually makes the other six polls all the more notable. Those races are all quite close, ranging from D+4 to R+3 in head-to-heads, despite the fact that Obama earned an average of just 43 percent in those six seats.
One note of caution here, though, is that except against Goolsby, generic D is in the low 40s in every race. (Goolsby trails by a pretty terrible 50-38.) Even if Democrats land strong candidates in each of these, the climb to 50 percent won't be easy, since none of these seats offer friendly turf.
• Special Elections: Some "yikes" results from Johnny Longtorso:
California AD-52: This one was a close one, but it appears that Democrat Freddie Rodriguez has won. He currently has a 51-49 lead over independent Paul Leon, and since the ballots that come in after Election Day usually favor the Democrat, it seems likely that his 365-vote margin will expand.What's weird is that Democratic candidates took 61 percent of the overall vote in the first round of voting back in July, so this result can't be blamed on classic Democratic dropoff. (And that wasn't even too bad a decline from 2012, since this is a 65 percent Obama district.) Perhaps Leon was aided by his party switch: He used to be a Republican but dropped the label earlier this year after getting crushed in another special election for the state Senate. Leon is also mayor of Ontario, a decently sized city of 164,000.