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House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) speaks at the Faith & Freedom Conference and Strategy Briefing in Washington, June 3, 2011. REUTERS/Molly Riley (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR2N91F
Leading Off:

VA-07: In one of the most shocking upsets of all time, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the second-ranking Republican in the House, lost his bid for renomination to economics professor Dave Brat, a political unknown who was outspent heavily. Cantor ran multiple ads attacking Brat, but Brat successfully used non-traditional media to make his extreme hostility to immigration reform the centerpiece of the campaign, accusing Cantor of supporting "amnesty" and putting him on the defensive. Brat prevailed decisively, 56 to 44, making Cantor the first majority leader in U.S. history to go down to defeat in a primary.

What makes this result even more stunning is that a pair of late polls showed Cantor with considerable leads: An independent survey from Vox Populi had him up 52-39, while Cantor's own internal from McLaughlin & Associates gave him an even wider 62-28 advantage. But as we noted, McLaughlin is one of the worst pollsters in the business, and boy did they cement that reputation Tuesday night.

So what happens next? Virginia law forbids Cantor from pursuing an independent bid, though a write-in campaign might be technically possible. That would be an incredibly humiliating second act, though, and it's the one move that could throw this seat to the Democrats. Virginia's 7th District voted 57-42 for Mitt Romney, so without Cantor, Brat will be heavily favored against Democrat Jack Trammell, who, like Brat, is a professor at Randolph-Macon College.

Beyond that, Cantor's loss will reverberate throughout his party. Republicans had already deep-sixed any immigration legislation; now, they'll blast it into outer space and compete Hunger Games-style to see who can be the most anti-immigrant loudmouth of them all. Tea partiers everywhere will also crow, and undoubtedly the Beltway press will write tons of stories about their resurgence.

But an upset, however extraordinary, is still an upset, and just because Cantor lost doesn't mean other Republican incumbents are sure to follow—though they very well might. After all, immigration reform advocate Lindsey Graham handily won his primary the very same night. Still, though: Holy crap!


AK-Sen: Republican Dan Sullivan once again uses an ad on behalf Mark Begich to attack the senator. This time Sullivan argues that Begich's allies are lying about Sullivan and guns, while claiming Begich is more independent of Obama than he actually is. Sullivan then talks up his own credentials on guns. With all these instances of pro-Begich and pro-Sullivan commercials winding up in their opponents' spots, I wonder how long it'll be until Sullivan just airs one of Begich's ads and provides his own commentary, Mystery Science Theater 3000-style. (Jeff Singer)

GA-Sen: Rep. Jack Kingston is now touting his own internal (from the crummy McLaughlin & Associates—see above!), though it's actually a couple of weeks old. But it's very similar to the other surveys we've seen, giving him a 49-35 lead on businessman David Perdue in the GOP runoff. SurveyUSA had Kingston up 11 and PPP put him up 12, so it's certainly not looking good for Perdue.

And it's only getting worse. A super PAC called the Southern Conservatives Fund is airing a new ad that hammers Perdue over comments he made shortly before the primary calling for the federal government to increase revenuesi.e., raise taxes, which is pretty much the gravest sin imaginable for a Republican. The buy is for $200,000.

Also, in case anyone still cares about Newt Gingrich, he endorsed Kingston on Tuesday. The two served together in the House back in the 1990s, and Newt, of course, is also from Georgia.

NC-Sen: There have been a ton of ads in this race, but until now none of them have come from Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan. That just changed, as Hagan has just gone up with two positive spots. The first praises her work in saving local textile jobs. The second features Jerry Ensminger, a retired marine who lost his daughter to leukemia. Ensminger describes how the drinking water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated, and how Hagan helped pass a bipartisan law to get justice for his daughter's death. The spots are reportedly airing as part of a small $108,000 buy.

Hagan will also have some backup soon. Planned Parenthood has announced a $3 million mobilization drive in the state. (Jeff Singer)

OR-Sen: Oh my:

The Republican nominee in Oregon's U.S. Senate race said Monday that disagreements with former partners that resulted in calls to the police show that she stands up for her beliefs and "will fight for Oregonians with very strong conviction."

After three weeks staying largely out of the public eye, Monica Wehby held a meet-and-greet with supporters in Oregon City and took questions from reporters. Police reports made public days before the May 20 primary showed that an ex-husband and a former boyfriend both called police on Wehby as their relationships were deteriorating, reporting that she was harassing them.

"I think that the thing to learn from that is that I am a person who will stand up for what I believe in," Wehby said of the police reports. "I'm a person who doesn't easily back down. I will fight for Oregonians with very strong conviction. I'm a very committed, determined person."

There are two possibilities here: either her staffers spent the better part of a month racking their brains for a response to the whole stalking mess and this was the best they came up with, or Wehby thought this was a great bit of jiu-jitsu on her own and decided to freelance. Either way, what a disaster. No wonder she went to ground. She should have stayed there.


CA-Gov: Rasmussen: Jerry Brown (D-inc): 52, Neel Kashkari (R): 33.

FL-Gov: At this point, you'd be hard-pressed to argue that Rick Scott's massive negative ad campaign targeting Charlie Crist hasn't had an impact. Scott has dumped an astounding $13 million on to the airwaves, and he's succeeded in driving Crist's poll numbers down, as this chart shows:

Chart of all FL-Gov polls
The latest to confirm this trend is PPP, who finds Scott and Crist tied at 42 apiece; in early April, Crist led 49-42. What's notable, though, is that Scott has not managed to improve his own standing with voters. Crist is now quite unpopular, with a 32-48 favorability rating, but Scott's own job approvals remain underwater at 39-48. Back in January (the last time PPP asked these questions), Scott stood at 34-51 and Crist at 36-46, so the incumbent has recovered somewhat and his challenger has slipped.

But Scott still sits at 42 percent in the horserace matchup, in spite of everything, and as Tom Jensen observes, the undecideds pose a real problem for him:

If there's a silver lining for Crist it's that the 16% of voters who remain undecided are not very big on Scott—he has just a 23% approval rating with them to 51% who disapprove. The undecideds also skew female, Hispanic, and younger and they voted for Barack Obama 43/39 in 2012.
SurveyUSA also shows somewhat similar new numbers, with Crist just ahead of Scott at 44-40. The difference here is that this represents a slight bump for Crist, who trailed Scott 42-40 in late May. But the shift is small enough that it's likely just noise; even a Crist spokesman quipped, "Must be all of our $0 on TV vs. RS's $15 mil."

Regardless of which poll is right, Crist's strategy, much like California Gov. Jerry Brown's in 2010, is to wait out the Scott assault and go on the offensive later in the game. It's not like Crist has much choice, seeing as how the ultra-wealthy Scott has limitless funds to spend and Crist does not. Crist simply has to bide his time and hope that Scott can only do so much damage to his reputation. Meg Whitman ultimately ran into the law of diminishing returns against Brown, and Scott may as well.

The question now is whether Scott can elevate his own numbers. If he can, Crist is in serious trouble, but if not, it'll be a real grind for that last pocket of undecided voters.

GA-Gov: The RGA is running a second ad attacking Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter, and once again, they're spending big—a reported $500,000. In the spot, the narrator calls Carter a "liberal trial lawyer" who "supports taxpayer funding for abortions" and sued to overturn voter ID laws that "prevent illegal immigrants from voting." (My word, American politics is idiotic.) There's also a jab about Carter supporting "expanding Obamacare," which is a reference to the fact that he wants the state to get the Medicaid money its owed, something he explicitly called for at a campaign stop this week.

IA-Gov: Democratic state Sen. Jack Hatch takes a page out of the Jon Tester playbook and sets his first spot (which has "six figures" behind it) at a barbershop.

As Hatch undergoes a trimming, the narrator contrasts him with Republican Gov. Terry Branstad. The narrator ends by saying, "There's only one thing that Branstad and Jack Hatch have in common, and for Jack, that's one thing too many." The camera then reveals that Hatch has now parted ways with his mustache, setting himself apart from the famously mustachioed Branstad once and for all. I guess the American Mustache Institute's endorsement process just got a lot easier. (Jeff Singer)

MD-Gov: Abt-SRBI has a new survey of both parties' primaries in Maryland, on behalf of the Washington Post. On the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown leads Attorney General Doug Gansler 46-23, with Del. Heather Mizeur at 16. The results are very similar to a recent OpinionWorks poll for the Baltimore Sun that gave Brown a 41-20 edge over Gansler. With the June 26 primary just around the corner, Gansler has been hitting Brown on the air, but it looks like his ads just aren't harming Brown in any meaningful way.

Both Brown and Gansler each have several million dollars left to spend, and with Gansler's position looking dire it's a good bet Marylanders can look forward to a lot more ads. Mizeur has saved her much more limited resources for the end, and she's airing a spot positioning herself above the fray (and once again calling for the legalization and taxation of marijuana). A Mizeur upset would almost certainly require Gansler dragging Brown's numbers down while leaving her unscathed, but so far that doesn't seem to be happening.

Abt-SRBI also takes a look at the Republican field. They find businessman Larry Hogan ahead with 35, Harford County Executive David Craig at 19, and businessman Charles Lollar at 13. OpinionWorks gave Hogan 27 percent, with Craig and Lollar at 12 each. There are a lot of undecideds in both polls, but Craig and Lollar don't have much time.

We also have our first look at the general election in a very long while. Brown leads Hogan 51 to 33 (no other pairs were tested), seeming to confirm the conventional wisdom that the Democratic nominee will be heavily favored to win in November.  (Jeff Singer)


MI-11: Mitt Romney mostly seems to have endorsed incumbents this cycle, but now he's given the nod to attorney Dave Trott, who is challenging Rep. Kerry Bentivolio in the August GOP primary. Looks like it's just a press release, though.

Grab Bag:


MS-Sen: State Sen. Chris McDaniel urges voters to go to the polls June 24 in the Republican primary runoff to "make history." Personally, I think the rest of the ad just makes him sound like a generic conservative rather than a historic figure in waiting but whatever. Maybe in years to come, June 24 will be immortalized as "Chris McDaniel Victory Day."

VA-Sen: Democratic Sen. Mark Warner highlights his efforts to stop jobs from being outsourced to China.

AR-Gov: Former Democratic Rep. Mike Ross defends his conservative credentials in the face of outside groups spending against him.

NY-21: American Crossroads continues to attack Matt Doheny as insufficiently conservative and as a two-time-loser. Doheny faces former Bush aide Elise Stefanik in the June 24 Republican primary.

(Jeff Singer)

California: The frustratingly slow vote-by-mail train chugs along, with about new 100,000 votes added on Monday. In the controller's race, our updated vote totals show Democrat Betty Yee leading fellow Democrat John Perez by 1,768 votes, and Republican David Evans by 5,749.

The rest of the ballots outstanding should be rather Democrat-friendly: More than 30 percent are from L.A. County, and another quarter are from the Bay Area. Indeed, on average (weighted by the number of ballots outstanding), counties with ballots remaining gave Yee and Perez each a more than 3.5-point margin over Evans, who will need some serious improvement in the leftover ballots to have a chance at getting back into second. (Republican Ashley Swearengin remains in first by a wide margin, now up to more than 114,000 votes.)

In the Congressional races:

In CA-15, Republican Hugh Bussell continues to sport a 721-vote lead over Democrat Ellen Corbett for second. Alameda likely has about 30,000 votes left county-wide (it reported having 72,000 on June 4th, but has added about 40,000 ballots since then), about 37 percent of which, or about 11,000 ballots, are likely to be added to the CA-15 count. Contra Costa County likely has about 10,000 ballots left county-wide (it reported having 50,000 on June 4th, but has added about 40,000 ballots since then), but only about 6 percent of them, or around 625 votes, will be added to the CA-15 count. With about 12,000 ballots left, Corbett could pull this out, especially since she's edged out Bussell thus far in Alameda County. Incumbent Democrat Eric Swalwell is leaps and bounds ahead, with 49.3 percent of the vote.

In CA-24, Republican Chris Mitchum has a 498-vote lead over fellow Republican Justin Fareed. San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara have updated unprocessed ballot counts (there are 3,700 ballots left to count, but only 3,600 are likely to be added to the CA-24 count, once undervoting is taken into account), and Ventura should have about 5,000 ballots left (they reported 16,000 unprocessed on June 4 and added 11,000 votes since then), but only about 50 are likely to be in the district (since CA-24 makes up such a small part of the county). Given this, and that about 70 percent of votes will go to other candidates, a 500-vote lead is not insubstantial and may very well hold. Incumbent Democrat Lois Capps has the first slot, with 43.7 percent of the vote.

In CA-31, Democrat Pete Aguilar has a 181-vote lead over Republican Lesli Gooch. Though Gooch has not conceded, Aguilar has already declared victory, and for good reason. San Bernardino has 3,900 votes left to process, only about one-third of those will be cast in CA-31 (again, the district contains only a portion of the county, and there will be some undervoting), or about 1,300 votes. But, given that 65 percent of the vote is going to candidates other than Aguilar and Gooch, it's unlikely that more than 500 votes will be split between those two. Gooch would have to take 68 percent of the new Gooch-plus-Aguilar ballots, but she's won less than half so far. Aguilar will likely clinch the second slot and face Republican Paul Chabot in the general.


DSCC/NRSC: Roll Call's Kyle Trygstad sums up all of the known fall ad reservations for the two big Senate committees, and a few of them are new to us. Democrats have booked $3.8 million in Alaska and $1.4 million in Louisiana, as well as $5 million in Michigan (an earlier report indicated just a $1.2 million booking here). Republicans, meanwhile, have reserved $2.6 million in North Carolina, and if Trygstad is correct, they've upped their planned purchases in Alaska and Arkansas by around three-quarters of a million each. We're keeping track of all reservations in this spreadsheet.

NRCC: The NRCC just announced 11 additions to its Young Guns program, around half of whom are Republicans running in California who just emerged successfully from last week's top-two primary.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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