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Leading Off:

KY-Sen: We often talk about how it seems as though Republican Senate Minority Leader has "worn out his welcome" with Kentucky voters, after his long, tumultuous, and often feeble tenure in office. But Daily Kos Elections' dreaminonempty has dug deep into the polling archives to show just how true this really is:

Click through for a full exploration of what these numbers mean, and what recent history says about whether incumbents can come back from such ugly depths.

1Q Fundraising:

SD-Sen: Mike Rounds (R): $730,000 raised, "over" $1 million cash-on-hand

CA-17: Ro Khanna (D): $460,000 raised, $2 mil cash-on-hand (this means that, for the first time, Mike Honda outraised Khanna in a given quarter)

CA-33: Matt Miller (D): $517,000 raised (in 45 days, with no self-funding). We've usually described the top-two primary as a race between state Sen. Ted Lieu, the front-runner, and former Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel, but Greuel may have a problem on her hands if Miller comes on strong.

CA-52: Carl DeMaio (R) $410,000 raised, $1.2 million cash-on-hand

IL-13: Rodney Davis (R-inc): $600,000 raised, $940,000 cash-on-hand

WV-02: Nick Casey (D): $170,000 raised, $651,000 cash-on-hand


GA-Sen: The new Landmark/Rosetta poll out of Georgia also has Senate data, showing Democrat Michelle Nunn competitive with the GOP field—albeit with a lot of undecideds:

33-38 vs. businessman David Perdue

38-40 vs. Rep. Phil Gingrey

38-39 vs. Rep. Paul Broun

37-38 vs. Rep. Jack Kingston

38-37 vs. ex-Secretary of State Karen Handel

In response to a newly launched conservative attack ad, Nunn is also releasing her first commercial of the race. The spot is narrated by Nunn herself, who explains that she's running for Senate despite "all the dysfunction in Washington" because she's an "optimist." As a photo of Nunn with Bush Sr. appears on screen, she cites her work "leading President Bush's Points of Light Foundation," which she helped grow "into the world's largest organization dedicated to volunteer service."

Nunn's service with Points of Light is her chief résumé item, and it's smart, of course, to emphasize it. As the very first in-depth profile of Nunn detailed, she earned many plaudits for her work with the charity—and also developed a lot of relationships across partisan lines, including with Neil Bush, a son of the first President Bush. Translating all this into some crossover electoral support will be key to Nunn's chances.

KY-Sen: Republican businessman Matt Bevin has bravely taken a stand in support of ... cockfighting. I kid thee not.

MN-Sen: Koch front group American Encore, which has been running a strange ad attacking Democratic Sen. Al Franken, is now touting a private poll from Magellan Strategies showing—lo and behold!—a close race. Magellan finds Franken edging state Sen. Julianne Ortman just 44-41 and businessman Mike McFadden by a slightly larger 44-38 spread.

However, as Politico warns, the poll "asked the ballot tests after a battery of questions about Franken, his main GOP challengers and President Obama." We don't know what those questions looked like, but if they broached anything more than simple job approvals or favorability scores, then that's a serious no-no that would have likely primed the pump against Franken. In any event, a recent SurveyUSA poll had Franken up 8 on Ortman and 10 on McFadden.

MS-Sen: The Mississippi Conservatives PAC, a group supporting Sen. Thad Cochran, has a new ad attacking Cochran's primary challenge, state Sen. Chris McDaniel. The narrator brands McDaniel as a "personal injury lawyer" who talks out of both sides of his mouth on tort reform, the Common Core education standards, and most especially earmarks. (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame bad, apparently, but Grammy Museum—which is opening a branch in Mississippi—good.)

NC-Sen: Mark Binker of WRAL dives deep into the issues behind that strange new Koch brothers ad attacking Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan (among others) over a plan to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It's complicated, but here's the essence: Thanks to the financial crisis of 2008, investors in the two mortgage giants were mostly wiped out. Fannie and Freddie were then taken over by the federal government, and big hedge funds swept in to scoop up the companies' depressed stock, "essentially placing a bet that the companies would rebound under federal protection," as Binker puts it.

The proposed reform legislation (which his bipartisan support and the backing of the White House) would let the courts decide what should happen to those current investors, and their bet may not pay off. The Koch ad makes it seem like ordinary folks with their modest pension funds would be at risk, but as Binker explains, those sorts of people no longer have any exposure. They took a serious hit in 2007 and 2008, when Fannie and Freddie collapsed, but their investment funds have long since sold off that stock. The current owners are now those large institutional investors who, again, made a speculative play when the two companies hit rock bottom.

And yes, those guys could get screwed (oh, the humanity!), but teachers and firefighters are not among their numbers, despite what the Koch ad claims. When the spot first came out, we didn't have the benefit of Binker's detailed analysis, but we did say "it's a safe bet" that the Koch brothers' "personal financial interests are at stake." Now we know that that's almost certainly the case. When it comes to the Kochs, it's almost always a sure thing that they're peddling b.s. in furtherance of their own private agenda.

SC-Sen-A: In yet another ad, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham slams Barack Obama over "if you like it, you can keep it," then touts a go-nowhere bill he's introduced in Congress that would allow states to "opt-out" of Obamacare.

SD-Sen: South Dakota's seemingly staid Senate race is actually starting to look a bit wild. Former Republican state Sen. Gordon Howie says he's going to run in the general election as an independent to give voters "a true conservative choice"—but only if a fellow traveler like state Rep. Stace Nelson fails to win the GOP primary against ex-Gov. Mike Rounds, which is very likely. So we could wind up with a four-way general election between the far-right Howie, the RINO squish Rounds, Republican-turned-Obama-supporting-independent ex-Sen. Larry Pressler, and avowedly progressive Democrat Rick Weiland. A plurality win may very well be in the offing.


MI-Gov: Democratic ex-Rep. Mark Schauer, who is running against Rick Snyder this fall, tapped Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown as his running mate on Thursday.

NH-Gov: Republican businessman Walt Havenstein, who'd reportedly been considering a run for governor since February, announced on Thursday that he would in fact go ahead with his bid. Havenstein will compete with activist Andrew Hemingway for the right to take on popular first-term Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan. A bit awkwardly for Havenstein, Democrats are already slamming him for declaring his home in Bethesda, Maryland as his "principal residence" in order to claim a state tax credit.

PA-Gov: Franklin & Marshall's new poll of the Democratic primary for governor finds self-funding businessman Tom Wolf maintaining his lead, far out in front of the rest of the field. Wolf holds a 40-9 edge over Rep. Allyson Schwartz, with state Treasurer Rob McCord at 8 and former state environmental chief Katie McGinty at 6. In February, Wolf had a 36-9 advantage against Schwartz, with McCord and McGinty in the low single digits.


AZ-01, -02: The LIBRE Initiative, a Koch brothers front group that bills itself as an organization promoting conservative Hispanic interests, is running new ads in two competitive Arizona House races. In a spot targeting Democratic Rep. Ron Barber in the 2nd District, a Spanish-dominant narrator speaking heavily accented English claims that "a 27 year-old Hispanic could have their insurance premium more than double" because of "this Obamacare mess."

Meanwhile, in the 1st District, a different narrator (with a similarly strong accent) attacks Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick and claims, "Many Hispanics are concerned about Obamacare. It was supposed to help, but instead over two million fewer jobs because of Obamacare." That's a repeat a classic lie based on a willful misreading of the February CBO report, of course. LIBRE says it's spending $700,000, though it's not clear if that's just for this run or some sort of broader plan.

GA-01: In an awkward new ad, a Barack Obama impersonator leaves a voicemail for GOP Rep. Jack Kingston, who begs him to "back off Obamacare" and says "I do not want you in the Senate"—but still asks him to "call me back." The punch line is delivered by Kingston: "A call to stop fighting Obamacare is one call I'll never answer." Seriously labored.

HI-01: What is it with conservative Hawaii politicians who can't resist the lure of ill-fated comeback attempts? Ed Case (a million times), Duke Aiona, Charles Djou, Mufi Hannemann (probably), Linda Lingle ... and now Charles Djou again. After a solid year of speculation, Djou, a Republican who briefly represented Hawaii's 1st District thanks to a 2010 special election, will take a third stab now that the seat is open again.

The 1st is solidly blue, though, and Djou only won that special because two Democrats (one of them Case) split the vote in a rare all-party race. This contest will proceed normally, just like the November 2010 general election—which Djou lost. He also fell short in a 2012 comeback attempt. Why he thinks he'll fare any better this time is unclear.

MA-06: The DCCC has released an internal robopoll of the Democratic primary in Massachusetts' 6th Congressional District, showing Rep. John Tierney handily turning back his chief foe, Iraq vet Seth Moulton, by a 64-17 margin. Since 20 percent were undecided, that means this particular ballot question (the only matchup the D-Trip released) didn't include attorney Marisa DeFranco, who is also running. Prior in-house DCCC polls have typically been of general elections, so in this case, the committee is almost certainly trying to send a signal to Moulton—or his would-be supporters—not to bother.

MI-08: After playing footsie with the prospect of a congressional bid for the last few days, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero now says he's out. Just in case you're wondering if he's still using slippery language, his exact words were: "I will not seek the open 8th District congressional seat this year." One other prominent Democrat, Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum, is still considering, and she's in D.C. this week meeting with the DCCC and EMILY's List.

NC-03: The so-called "Emergency Committee for Israel" is a group whose very name is designed to invoke panic—"What? There's an emergency? In Israel? Oy gevalt!"—and that's pretty much exactly what they traffic in. A new ad they're running attacks GOP Rep. Walter Jones because he supposedly "preaches American decline" and slurs the progressive pro-Israel group J Street, which has endorsed Jones, as, well, "an anti-Israel group," while video footage of people burning an American flag rolls. For more background on the Emergency Committee, check out this piece last year from the New Republic, which details the group's poor 2012 track record.

NY-01: State Sen. Lee Zeldin, who's already faced a bunch of ad spending from his GOP primary rival, attorney George Demos, is now on the air with his own spot. The narrator says that in Albany, Zeldin "led the fight to repeal the MTA payroll tax" and insists he's "never supported Obamacare and never will." She also adds that, in Washington, he'll "repeal and replace Obamacare," which is his biggest soft spot, as Demos keeps attacking Zeldin as an Obamacare supporter.

WI-06: When we last checked in on veteran Republican Rep. Tom Petri, state Rep. Duey Stroebel was considering a primary challenge, and apparently, he still is. But while Stroebel sits in quiet contemplation, another conservative legislator, state Sen. Glenn Grothman, has decided to take the plunge. Grothman has a well-earned reputation as an extremist (he's even anti-weekend!), so there's no question that he'll be opposing the more moderate Petri from the right.

For Grothman, whose seat isn't up until 2016, this is a free shot. And as WisJohn points out, it's not the first time he's taken on an entrenched incumbent for being insufficiently conservative. In 2004, Grothman challenged sitting state Senate Majority Leader Mary Panzer and absolutely demolished her, 79-21. If Stroebel or Scott Walker campaign treasurer John Hiller were to also get in, though, that could create a clown-car effect and give Petri some breathing room. But in a one-on-one matchup, Grothman has a real chance to pull an upset.

Other Races:

WA State Legislature: If you remember ex-state Sen. Nathan Schlicher, who was endorsed by Daily Kos in last year's special election in the 26th Senate District but lost narrowly to Republican Jan Angel, you'll be glad to hear he's making a comeback attempt. It's not for a rematch, though: Schlicher's running for the state House seat vacated by Angel, currently held by her appointed replacement, Republican Jesse Young.

The only thing (barely) elevating Young above Some Dude status is that he ran unsuccessfully in the 6th Congressional District primary in 2012, so this is an easier way for the up-and-coming Schlicher to get his foot back in the legislative door than another race against Angel. But that still doesn't help Democrats much with their quest to win back a functioning majority in the Senate; instead, Judy Arbogast, the former president of the teachers' union in the South Kitsap School District, will run against Angel. (David Jarman)

Grab Bag:

Demographics: We have some new data about two different poles in the Democrats' big tent: one that's numerous but not reliable at turnout, one that's reliable but not numerous enough to make a big difference. The former is Hispanic voters, who are the subject of a new analysis by Pew Research (based on Census data, not polling). They find that Hispanic turnout, among citizen voting age population (or CVAP), in midterm elections lags the rest of the population and is just getting worse.

Hispanic turnout in 2010 was 31.2 percent, compared with 44 percent turnout among blacks and 48.6 percent among whites; in 1986, it was 38.0 percent (though that was with a much smaller overall Hispanic population). The good news, though, is sheer growth: Hispanic CVAP nationwide will reach 24.8 million in 2014, compared to 21.3 million in 2010, and 31 percent of all eligible Hispanic voters in 2010 were under 30, compared with 19 percent among whites and 26 percent among blacks.

The latter, meanwhile, is the population in wealthy northeastern suburbs, not a growing slice of the population but one that's definitely moving in the Democratic direction. One bit of trivia calling this group into focus was unearthed by the Monkey Cage, who've found a decided increase in the number of mentions of the word "Democrat" in New York Times wedding announcements (and corresponding dropoff of "Republican" appearances) in the last few decades.

Despite this growth, the relatively small number of Democrats falling into this category latter category is the subject of an interesting new piece filled with granular data from Dave Wasserman, writing for FiveThirtyEight. While so-called Super ZIPs in Northern Virginia were a difference-maker in that state's gubernatorial election last year, there just aren't enough places like that around the country to tip the larger balance ... and at any rate, they tend to be more supportive of generic country club Republicans than they are of Ken Cuccinelli types. (David Jarman)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Fri Apr 04, 2014 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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