• SD-Sen: A new PPP poll conducted for Democrat Rick Weiland's campaign confirms what we've been saying for a while: This is a deeply unusual race. PPP finds GOP ex-Gov. Mike Rounds leading Weiland 38-28, with 15 percent saying they support Republican-turned-independent ex-Sen. Larry Pressler and 4 percent backing former state Sen. Gordon Howie, who is also a Republican running as an independent.
But Pressler and Howie couldn't be more different. Pressler, who's been out of office almost two decades, twice endorse Barack Obama and even served on a presidential commission. Howie, meanwhile, is a conservative true believer who is disgusted at the prospect of Rounds winning the GOP primary and wants to give fellow travelers an alternative in the general election. So while it's safe to say Howie is probably pulling from the right, it's a lot trickier to determine whom Pressler is hurting more, especially because we don't have crosstabs.
What's more, 15 percent is a very high share for a third-party candidate, and it'll be hard for Pressler to sustain that, especially since he's not raising real money. But regardless of what happens with Pressler, something will need to change for Weiland, because even a weak plurality win for Rounds is still a win.
• AK-Sen: Put Alaska First is expanding its attack on the Koch brothers (and by extension, Republican Senate hopeful Dan Sullivan, whom the Kochs are backing) in its latest ad. We'd previously heard about the oil refinery in North Pole that the Kochs are closing down; now, a woman also accuses the operation of "poisoning the water—and our homes." It's a reference to this lawsuit the state of Alaska recently filed against the refinery's owners, accusing them of leeching chemicals into the surrounding soil and groundwater.
• LA-Sen: Nate Cohn is back with more of his extrapolating-white-voters project, this time looking specifically at Louisiana's 2002 and 2008 Senate races. As you'd expect (given the overall trajectory of the southern white vote in the '90s and '00s), Mary Landrieu's percentage among the white vote went down between the two elections, despite the fact that she won by a wider margin in 2008, presumably thanks to higher African-American turnout. In a nutshell, Landrieu's going to be even more reliant on black turnout this year, a task made harder by midterm turnout dynamics.
Interestingly, the decline in Landrieu's fortunes among white voters occurs in rural and, to a lesser extent, suburban counties; she actually improved her percentage of the white vote in New Orleans. That jibes with bigger-picture trends we've been seeing in recent decades, with cities in general becoming more Dem-friendly. And even though that's in part because urban areas are becoming more racially diverse, it's also because white voters who have other characteristics that make them more inclined to vote Democratic are increasingly concentrated in our cities as well.
All this, of course, assumes that Cohn's extrapolation technique is reliable. It overlays race data from statewide exit polls against county-level results (seeing as how there aren't county-level exit polls), but that runs the risk that white percentages in certain counties—college towns naturally spring to mind—might deviate from the statewide average, with white residents in those counties disproportionately more or less likely to vote Democratic than at the overall statewide rate. (David Jarman)
• MI-Sen: No wonder why Terri Lynn Land put out that dopey ad insisting it was impossible for her to be anti-woman because she's, you know, a woman. We'll see if that offers any prophylactic cover, because the Senate Majority PAC has now opened fire on her. In their newest ad, SMP accuses Land of wanting to "outlaw" "common forms of birth control," allow insurance companies to charge women more than men, and ban abortion, "even for victims of rape and incest." The size of the buy is $600,000.
• MT-Sen: Both Democratic Sen. John Walsh and Rep. Steve Daines are out with new ads in Montana's Senate race. Walsh claims there's "no graver threat than the exploding national debt." (Sigh. If only that were true.) He insists he's "brand new to the Senate" but is already trying to curtail spending, including "cutting skyrocketing costs in Obamacare." (Sigh again. Does John Walsh really want to give Republicans an opening to say, "Even John Walsh admits Obamacare's costs are out of control!"?)
In Daines' spot, meanwhile, a woman who says she's had diabetes since age 13 claims that "when Obamacare kicked in, our plan didn't qualify" and so she "lost" her insurance and is "back trying to pay for my insulin again." She then adds that she's glad Daines "is against Obamacare." What makes this ad so sad is that the woman in question is exactly the sort of person the ACA can help most, since she can no longer be denied coverage due to her pre-existing condition.
• OR-Sen: This is a chilling story, though there's no telling how it might play out. Last month, a mother in Portland named Katherine Parker was indicted on 43 counts of child abuse and related charges, centered around allegations that she forced her kids into unnecessary surgeries. One of the surgeons who performed several of the operations was Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby. Wehby has played up her medical expertise in ads, but as you'd expect, she's refusing to comment on the case.
However, as the Oregonian observes, her work may receive scrutiny if the case proceeds to trial, though it's not scheduled to begin until May 19. That's a day before the primary, and since all ballots are cast by mail in Oregon, any testimony is unlikely to have an impact on the race. However, if Wehby wins the GOP nomination, the Parker case may become a factor.
Of more immediate concern to Wehby is a new super PAC called the American Principles Fund, which is running a new TV ad attacking her and boosting her chief primary rival, state Rep. Jason Conger. In the ad, the narrator refers to Wehby as "pro-abortion" and chastises her for saying it would be "impractical" to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Conger, meanwhile, is "the candidate we can trust to repeal Obamacare." The buy is for $175,000.
• SC-Sen-A: Republican businessman Richard Cash's new ad is set in a prison cell, where he's photographed getting mug shots as he explains, "I've been here 10 times—arrested for peaceful protests at abortion clinics, standing up for what is right."
• IL-Gov: Capitol Fax's Rich Miller commissioned a survey from conservative pollster We Ask America, but when he got "bizarre" results back, he commissioned another—with an important tweak—and got very different answers. The first time out, WAA founds Republican businessman Bruce Rauner beating Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn 49-38, a results I could have actually believed. But Miller was concerned about the crosstabs, which showed, for instance, GOP Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka carrying Democrats 55-30 in her race while crushing 56-29 overall.
So the next time, Miller included party labels with each candidate's name, which is the more common practice (particularly since voters usually have that information right in front of them in the voting booth). This time, Rauner and Quinn wound up tied at 44 apiece, and Topinka's lead slimmed down to what Miller calls a "more believable" 51-38 spread. If anything, these numbers might be a bit optimistic for Quinn, though there's been so little polling, it's hard to judge.
• MA-Gov: Monthly fundraising numbers are out in the Bay State and there are some interesting nuggets here. Attorney General Martha Coakley got into the race relatively late and while she quickly became the Democratic primary frontrunner, she initially struggled with fundraising. In recent months, though, Coakley appears to have righted the ship: As of the end of April she has $520,000 on hand. However, Coakley's main opponent for the Democratic nomination, state Treasurer Steven Grossman, still leads the field with $939,000 in his war chest. The remaining three Democratic candidates each have less than $200,000 in the bank. The primary will be held September 9.
Republican candidate Charlie Baker has an uphill climb ahead of him in the general but one thing he will not lack is money. As of the end of April Baker has $855,000 on hand. Baker also does not have a competitive primary ahead of him so he can conserve his resources.
On a related note, candidate filing in Massachusetts also ended Tuesday. However, it could take as long as a month to verify signatures, so it will be a while before we have an official candidate list. (Jeff Singer)
• NE-Gov: With the GOP primary less than a week away, term-limited Gov. Dave Heineman has decided to endorse state Attorney General Jon Bruning as his preferred successor. There's been almost no polling of the race, but Bruning, despite his late entry, has looked like the frontrunner, thanks to his name recognition (some of it earned via his unsuccessful Senate bid in 2012). The fact that Bruning called on Heineman at the 11th hour, though, may indicate he's locked in a tight race with his chief competitor, businessman Pete Ricketts. State Auditor Mike Foley and state Sen. Beau McCoy are also running. The winner will face Democrat Chuck Hassebrook in November.
• PA-Gov: Rob McCord keeps up the assault on Democratic frontrunner Tom Wolf with a new ad that likens Wolf to GOP Gov. Tom Corbett. Wolf, claims the ad, "terminated" his company's pension plan, while Corbett allegedly wants to do the same thing to Pennsylvania's pension fund. McCord also says the state lost money investing in Wolf's business.
• FL-13: Informed ballot tests may be useful for the purposes of crafting internal campaign strategy. They are not, however, useful for demonstrating where a race stands today, particularly when you don't share the initial ballot results. So I don't know whom the DCCC is trying to convince with this, because it's certainly not me.
• NC-02: The only uncalled race remaining from Tuesday night's primaries is the Democratic contest in North Carolina's 2nd District. There, according to the state elections board, singer Clay Aiken has a narrow 40.8 to 39.5 lead on businessman Keith Crisco, or 369 votes. (The AP has very similar but slightly higher totals, showing a difference of 372 votes.) That narrowly puts Aiken both above the mark necessary to avoid a runoff (40 percent) and outside the margin for Crisco to request a recount (1 percent of all votes cast, so 285 or 286 votes, depending on which tally you use).
But as election officials review the votes, Aiken could conceivably dip back below either threshold, though that seems unlikely given the relatively large numbers involved. Still, Crisco is not yet conceding, and it will be at least a few days before we have certainty here.
• NY-22: As is their wont, the NRA endorsed GOP Rep. Richard Hanna, even though he has a somewhat moderate reputation and is receiving a primary challenge from the right from Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney. But Hanna's the incumbent, and he has an "A" rating from the group, so that's what matters most to the NRA.
• TX-04: Both Rep. Ralph Hall and his GOP runoff opponent, former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliffe, are out with new ads. Hall, apparently for the first time, goes negative on Ratcliffe in a compare-and-contrast spot, calling Ratcliffe a "corporate trial lawyer" and would-be tax-hiker, while holding himself up as a "true Texas conservative." Ratcliffe, meanwhile, smiles as he shivs Hall, saying: "At 91, Ralph Hall has served admirably. But after four decades in Washington, the problems are getting worse, not better."
• WV-03: The House Majority PAC is still at it supporting Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall. In their newest ad, HMP reiterates that Republican Evan Jenkins has the support of the "New York billionaire Koch brothers," but this time adds that he "collected thousands of dollars from lawyers who fight black lung benefits, and from executives at Massey Energy, where 29 died at Upper Big Branch." That's a reference to this terrible mining disaster in 2010.
• Chamber: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce just released a huge new round of ads supporting Republicans in a variety of Senate and House races, their second big blitz in as many weeks. Here they all are:
|CO-Sen: Cory Gardner
|KY-Sen: Mitch McConnell||MT-Sen: Steve Daines|
|CA-07: Doug Ose||CA-21: David Valadao||CO-06: Mike Coffman|
|IL-10: Bob Dold!||KY-06: Andy Barr||MI-01: Dan Benishek|
|MN-08: Stewart Mills||NY-19: Chris Gibson||NV-03: Joe Heck|
• Polls: The Consumer Energy Alliance, an industry front group that supports building the Keystone XL pipeline, has churned out another batch of surveys from Hickman Analytics, which (you may be surprised to learn) is actually a Democratic pollster. CEA polled a different batch of states this time, compared to last, but you won't be surprised to learn the group claims its results show that delaying the pipeline will "hurt" Senate Democrats. At least asked their horserace questions before their KXL questions, though, so the numbers are worth a glance:
IA-Sen: Bruce Braley (D): 43, Mark Jacobs (R): 42; Braley: 44, Joni Ernst (R): 40There's nothing startling here—in fact, these head-to-heads are all very close to the current HuffPo Pollster averages, though perhaps Branstad and Snyder look a little stronger here than they typically have elsewhere.
IA-Gov: Jack Hatch (D): 40, Terry Branstad (R-inc): 50
KY-Sen: Alison Grimes (D): 45, Mitch McConnell (R-inc): 46
MI-Sen: Gary Peters (D): 42, Terri Lynn Land (R): 37
MI-Gov: Mark Schauer (D): 37, Rick Snyder (R-inc): 48
MT-Sen: John Walsh (D-inc): 37, Steve Daines (R): 49
NH-Sen: Jeanne Shaheen (D-inc): 49, Scott Brown (R): 43
NH-Gov: Maggie Hassan (D-inc): 50, Andrew Hemingway (R): 28