9:22 AM PT: VA-Gov: Christopher Newport University's final poll shows Democrat Terry McAuliffe maintaining his 7-point lead. McAuliffe's at 45, while Republican Ken Cuccinelli is at 38 and Libertarian Robert Sarvis at 10. Last month, CNU had the race at an almost identical 46-39-11. In the LG contest, Democrat Ralph Northam is beating Republican E.W. Jackson by a punishing 51-35 margin, while Republican Mark Obenshain edges Democrat Mark Herring 45-43 in the battle for AG.
It's that last race which has been the hardest to get a read on, as some pollsters have found Obenshain ahead and some have seen Herring leading. That tightness and uncertainty helps explain why Republicans are treating the AG post as their firewall, their one real hope to avoid a sweep on Tuesday. But if McAuliffe and Northam are busy crushing their opponents on election night, I'd rather be Herring than Obenshain, simply based on the notion that my ticket-mates would drag me over the proverbial finish line.
10:04 AM PT: NJ-Sen: For what it's worth, Republican ex-Sen. Jeff Chiesa, Gov. Chris Christie's temporary replacement for the late Frank Lautenberg, says he won't run next year against the man who just succeeded him in the Senate, Cory Booker. Chiesa did say he might run for office in the future, when his kids are older, but I can't see him having any success with a statewide bid. House, maybe.
10:24 AM PT: IL-11: Yet another Republican candidate is reportedly eyeing a bid in IL-11, even though the field is already quite crowded, and even though Dem Rep. Bill Foster looks to be in strong shape for re-election. The latest name belongs to businessman Bert Miller, who would join state Rep. Darlene Senger, Grundy County Board member Chris Balkema, radio host Ian Bayne, and Afghanistan vet Craig Robbins in the GOP primary.
10:43 AM PT: AL-05: Parker Griffith can lose—again! If Griffith's name is somehow unfamiliar to you, just let it be known that he's about the stupidest man to get elected to Congress in the last decade. (And yeah, we're even counting Louie Gohmert.) Griffith won an open-seat race in 2008 as a Democrat, then had the genius idea to switch parties a year later, thinking he'd have a better shot at winning re-election in his red district that way.
Only Republican voters, it turned out, weren't that interested in supporting a guy who had donated to Howard Dean and voted for Nancy Pelosi as speaker. (Surprise!) So he got his ass turfed, very badly, in the 2010 GOP primary, as Mo Brooks beat him 51-33. Hilariously, Griffith tried to come back the following cycle but got absolutely pounded by Brooks a second time, 71-29, despite spending half a million of his own money on the race.
Now Griffith, who clearly can't let go, is reportedly circulating petitions for one more bid—this time as an independent. Alabama makes it very tough for indies to get on the ballot, but if Griffith somehow succeeds, it'll be fun to watch him lose a third time.
11:21 AM PT (David Jarman): PA-Gov: State treasurer Rob McCord hasn't caught fire in the polls of the Democratic gubernatorial primary yet, but he is building the union-based groundwork for a surge later. On Friday, McCord got the backing of one of the state's largest unions, the AFSCME, which has 65,000 members statewide. It's McCord's third union endorsement of the week (following backing from the Philadelphia-area UFCW and the Pittsburgh-area IBEW locals).
12:41 PM PT (David Jarman): The polling frontrunner, Rep. Allyson Schwartz, didn't emerge totally empty-handed from the week, though; she got the endorsement of the Philadelphia Democratic Committee (though that shouldn't be a surprise, as she already got the personal endorsement of the city's party boss, Bob Brady, a while ago).
12:46 PM PT: MT-Sen: Republican Rep. Steve Daines will hold a "special event" in his hometown of Bozeman next week, and according to The Hill's unnamed sources, he'll announce his long-awaited bid for Montana's open Senate seat. Considering how long Daines has dragged things out, though—not to mention the fact that he recently said he wouldn't declare his plans until next year—I'm gonna wait to see this one before I believe it.
12:57 PM PT (David Jarman): Redistricting: Gerrymandering is a bit like pornography: you know it when you see it, in the immortal words of Potter Stewart. There are some quantitative approaches to truly knowing when you see it, though, and GIS analysis firm Azavea has released an interesting study (pdf) that synthesizes other analysts' various methods for determining "least compact" districts. (As they rightly point out, though, "gerrymandering" doesn't necessarily equal a map full of non-compact districts.)
So, what's the least compact district in the country, under the new maps? There are four different methods of assessing "least compact," but by averaging them out, NC-12 (the black-majority worm that stretches from Charlotte to Winston-Salem) is worst. (It's #1 on only one of the four methods, but #2 on the other three. The two other districts that lay claim to at least one #1 are Baltimore-area splatter of MD-03 and the lakefront OH-09.)
If you look at which states, in general, have the least compact districts on average, the winner (or loser) is Maryland, which #1 according to three of the methods (the other #1, bafflingly, is New Hampshire, probably a consequence of the long, skinny shape of the entire state). North Carolina and Louisiana follow in second and third place. They also find that, under all four methods, legislatively-drawn states have less compactness than those drawn by courts or independent commissions; states drawn by Democrats have less compactness than those drawn by Republicans (though there are fewer Democratic-drawn states, and Maryland may throw off the curve). They also look specifically at Florida and California -- both of which were drawn under fairer conditions most recently -- and find significant improvements on the compactness front in both of those states, compared with the previous decade.
1:04 PM PT: FL-Gov: Well, it's what I would do if I were him. Republican Gov. Rick Scott, whose poll numbers have shown him extremely vulnerable next year, will reportedly launch a $525,000 ad buy attacking his likely opponent, ex-Gov. Charlie Crist, timed to coincide with Crist's expected campaign kickoff on Monday. The spot isn't available yet, but it's apparently titled "Opportunist," so you can imagine the kinds of themes it will hit. (Crist, of course, was elected as a Republican, became an independent in 2010 when it grew clear he couldn't win the GOP primary for Senate against Marco Rubio, and finally joined the Democratic Party late last year.)
1:13 PM PT: Meanwhile, the student-run Emerson College Polling Society has put its (limited) credibility on the line in a big way: Their final poll predicts McAuliffe to win by just 2 points, 42-40. Considering that Roanoke has McAuliffe ahead 15, and a bunch of different pollsters all have other numbers in between these extremes, someone's going to be right, and a lot of people are going to be very wrong.
1:18 PM PT: RI-Gov: Third quarter fundraising totals are now available for the Rhode Island gubernatorial race. Democratic state Treasurer Gina Raimondo continues to lead the field, even though she hasn't officially entered the contest yet.
1:31 PM PT: FL-13: Bill Young II, son of the late Rep. Bill Young, says he won't seek his father's seat in next year's special election. That leaves ex-state Rep. Larry Crow and political consultant Nick Zoller as the only Republicans running so far.
Also interesting: these excerpts from Mark Halperin and John Heilemann's new book on the 2012 elections, which include revelations that Christie failed to submit sufficient information about his health and his business dealings to Mitt Romney's vetters when they were considering him for veep. What could Christie be hiding? As Jed Lewison says, if he runs for president, we're going to find out—soon.
1:46 PM PT: NE-Sen: Former state Treasurer Shane Osborn has released an internal from Public Opinion Strategies showing him with a wide lead in the Republican primary for Nebraska's open Senate seat. Osborn takes 39 percent of the vote, while Midland University President Ben Sasse and wealthy banker Sid Dinsdale are both at 7. Attorney Bart McLeay brings up the rear with just 1 percent.
1:57 PM PT: NRSC: Talk about Republicans in disarray. The NRSC has warned Republican advertising firm Jamestown Associates that they won't get any more business from the committee because of the work it's done on behalf of the Senate Conservatives Fund, which has targeted Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell in next year's GOP primary. What's more, the NRSC is also asking other campaigns and party organizations to boycott Jamestown as well, accusing the company of engaging in "purity for profit."
Not only is it hilarious to see Republicans attacking other Republicans for wanting to make money, but predictably, at least one conservative has leapt to Jamestown's defense: Rep. Mark Sanford. (Too good, right?) SCF, of course, isn't backing down, and even if Jamestown were to cave, someone else will take their money. You really should click through for some of the delicious, juicy quotes, though, like SCF calling McConnell "a power-hungry bully who isn't getting his way" and McConnell's camp firing back that the SCF "has been wandering around the country destroying the Republican Party like a drunk who tears up every bar they walk into." Good times!
2:24 PM PT (Darth Jeff): Boston Mayor: Suffolk University returns to the field and they have good news for state Rep. Marty Walsh. They find him leading City Councilor John Connolly 46 to 43, a big change from the 41-34 Connolly lead they found in early October. This compares to Wednesday’s UMass Amherst poll that showed Walsh up by a wider 47 to 40.
But wait! Connolly’s allies at Democrats for Education Reform (which sadly does not quite abbreviate to DERP like it should) still say their man is up. They have an Anzalone Liszt Grove Research poll that shows Connolly leading Walsh 43 to 36. One campaign is leaking its own numbers contradicting this wide Connolly lead, but surprisingly it’s not the Walsh camp. In a radio interview Connolly claimed his own numbers show the race tied 42 to 42 (no accompanying memo was released).
It’s rarely a good sign for a campaign when it’s claiming its numbers are showing a tight race after a month of leads. This race remains murky but Connolly’s own actions as well as the recent independent polls suggest that Walsh has edge in the last days of the race.