• CA-52: A new SurveyUSA poll finds Democratic Rep. Scott Peters trailing former San Diego City Councilor Carl DeMaio by a 51-44 spread, which certainly looks bad for Peters. A year ago, SUSA put DeMaio up 48-39, so while the margin has narrowed, DeMaio's now crested the 50 percent mark.
However, there are a few issues here. In California's recently concluded primary, Peters took 42 percent of the vote. If he only performs 2 points better in November, that would be a remarkably small increase compared to the kinds of jumps in Democratic performance we saw between the primary and the general in 2012. Yes, the fall surge will be smaller for Democrats in a midterm year, but the smallish 5-point bump in CA-52 last time was at least partly due to the heavily contested fight between Peters and fellow Democrat Lori Saldana, something we didn't have this time.
What's more, at least 90 percent of SUSA's respondents said they voted in the June 3 primary, which is just way too tight a screen. Last cycle, by contrast, primary turnout was just 51 percent of general election turnout. That ratio will likely be higher this year, but not as high as SUSA imagines. Again, since the fall electorate will almost certainly be more friendly toward Democrats than the primary electorate was, a sample like this is going to be too tilted toward Republicans.
Finally, there's SurveyUSA's well-known odd behavior, where a lot of their mid-cycle polls look weird but often come into line shortly before election day. Indeed, we just saw this happen in this very same area late last year and early this year during the special election for San Diego mayor. SUSA's polling bounced back and forth wildly, repeatedly alternating between a tight race and big leads for Republican (and eventual winner) Kevin Faulconer. So their track record is one to be wary of.
All that said, the best way for Scott Peters to push back against this poll is with one of his own, just as we've seen Democrats do in vulnerable districts like WV-03 or AZ-02. Let's see if he does.
• IA-Sen: How much phony outrage can one campaign ad hold? Republican Joni Ernst and her team put that question to the test. In Ernst's newest spot the narrator criticizes Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley for running a negative campaign, right before going hard negative on him. The spot attacks Braley several times for his infamous "farmer from Iowa" gaffe, with the narrator also decrying a recent Braley ad as sexist. (The commercial in question briefly compared Ernst to a chick—as in, a baby chicken.) Ernst appears at the end stating she may not have a law degree but she has "Iowa values." (Jeff Singer)
• MN-Sen, -Gov: SurveyUSA's Minnesota poll from late last week also included some numbers on the GOP's two big statewide primaries. Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson may have secured the official Republican endorsement for governor at the party's recent convention, but he's locked in a tie for first with former state House Speaker Kurt Zellers at just 23 apiece. Former state House Minority Leader Marty Seifert is at 14 and businessman Scott Honour takes 9, so with 22 percent undecided, this race looks pretty wide open.
The Senate contest, by contrast, seems pretty settled. Businessman Mike McFadden, who also earned the GOP seal of approval, has a wide 44-16 lead on state Rep. Jim Abeler.
• MS-Sen: A new poll from Chism Strategies now puts Sen. Thad Cochran ahead of state Sen. Chris McDaniel 48-47 in the GOP primary runoff, after the firm's prior survey 10 days ago had McDaniel up 51-48. However, this was a one-day robopoll taken on a Friday night and included no cell phones. What's more, even pollster Brad Chism sounds skeptical of his own results, saying it's "hard for me to believe this is a trend." Chism also pointed out how strange it is for Trent Lott to be urging folks to vote for Cochran because they need more government in their lives and opined that this kind of messaging might only fire up McDaniel supporters further.
Meanwhile, a separate poll for Citizens United (which is backing McDaniel), taken by The Polling Company, finds McDaniel up by a huge 52-40 spread, the widest to date.
Cochran, for his part, is going up with a new negative ad. The spot features several clips from McDaniel's old radio show, where the candidate says a number of things he may wish he could unsay. Cochran isn't using any selective editing either. McDaniel really did utter such gems as "It's so interesting to see this woman basically using her boobies to—I shouldn't have said that—using her breasts to run for office," and "Really, with you libertarians, and I think the platform is, I've said this before, free hookers and blow for everybody."
McDaniel's campaign has survived a lot, and we'll see soon enough if these comments can make him unacceptable to runoff voters.
• NC-Sen: EMILY's List says it plans to go big on behalf of Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, and indeed they are. They're rolling out a new TV ad that's backed by a $656,000 buy and is the first salvo in a broader $3 million campaign. The spot features a pregnant teacher who explains that "with a baby on the way, I don't have a lot of extra money." Still, she says, "I have to buy supplies for my classroom. And my classroom is getting a lot more crowded." A narrator then chimes in to attack Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis for cutting $500 million from education, "causing crowded classrooms, and forcing teachers to pay more out-of-pocket for school supplies, while Tillis protected tax breaks for yachts and jets."
• OK-Sen-B: Rep. James Lankford has released a new internal poll from the Tarrance Group that gives him a 41-34 lead on his chief GOP primary rival, former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon. That actually represents a slight tightening, though, from Lankford's prior poll in mid-May, where he was up 43-33. And Tarrance, of course, was also responsible for that impossible-to-believe survey Oregon Senate candidate Monica Wehby churned out last week, as well as a few doozies in 2012.
Tarrance also tried to unskew their own presidential poll taken shortly before the last election. Though their topline numbers found Barack Obama up 49-48, their private "vote election model" transmogrified that into a 52-47 lead for Mitt Romney, and they used that to argue Romney "may well be heading to a decisive victory." Instead, Tarrance missed the presidential race by 9 points.
Shannon isn't just going to sit back and wait for another conservative pollster to screw up, though. His newest TV spot features former Rep. J.C. Watts, whom he once worked for, praising Shannon's conservative credentials. (David Nir & Jeff Singer)
• MA-Gov: As expected, state Treasurer Steve Grossman won first place at the Massachusetts Democratic convention over the weekend, taking 35 percent to 23 percent for state Attorney General Martha Coakley and 22 for former Medicare director Don Berwick. Two other candidates, pharmaceutical executive Joe Avellone and former homeland security official Juliette Kayyem, failed to meet the 15 percent threshold necessary to make the September primary ballot and are now out of the race. (Neither has issued any endorsements so far.)
Grossman had made an explicit play for party insiders, who believe that Coakley remains popular with voters only because her name recognition, and who fear a reprise of her disastrous 2010 Senate bid, so his success at the convention was no surprise. But voters still get to decide, and Coakley holds daunting leads in all the polling, so prevailing among a handful of activists would prove a hollow victory unless Grossman can turn things around in the primary.
He's certainly well-funded, though, and once he goes on the air, the shape of the race could very well change, which has to be what Grossman is counting on.
• MD-Gov: With about a week to go before the June 24 Democratic primary, Attorney General Doug Gansler is trailing Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown badly in the polls. His campaign may need a miracle to pull ahead, but until then they have ads.
In the first spot, Gansler's running mate Del. Jolene Ivey goes mostly positive. She ends by noting that both she Gansler and endorsed Obama when he first ran for president, while Brown "worked to defeat him. That's an important difference." Apparently Gansler's campaign hopes voters are idiots and confuse Brown's support for Hillary Clinton with an endorsement of John McCain. The second spot portrays Brown as a shady corporate lawyer who wastes taxpayer money. (Jeff Singer)
• NY-Gov: Siena's new poll of New York's gubernatorial race finds Gov. Andrew Cuomo still crushing Republican Rob Astorino, 57-21. However, there's no mention of a possible Democratic primary between Cuomo and law professor Zephyr Teachout.
• LA-05: As scandal-tarred Rep. Vance McAllister continues to contemplate running for re-election, two fellow Republicans have made their decisions. State Sen. Neil Riser, who lost to McAllister in a massive upset last year, has decided against a rematch. Riser never seemed enthusiastic about another campaign for this seat, and given what happened last time, it's hard to blame him.
However, businessman Zach Dasher has decided to go for it. Dasher is a member of the Robertson family, a very prominent local clan that somehow finds the time to star on the reality show "Duck Dynasty." Last time around, McAllister had the energetic backing of family patriarch Phil Robertson, which probably played a role in his victory. However, Dasher says he has the support of the whole family, including his uncle Phil. McAllister stood by Robertson after the duck hunter had his own controversy, but it looks like blood is thicker than saliva. (Jeff Singer)
• MA-06: It's not a surprise, but it's still welcome for an incumbent who faces a potentially tough renomination fight: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who doesn't often get involved in Democratic primaries, has endorsed Rep. John Tierney for re-election. Tierney, Warren's fellow Bay Stater, is being challenged by Iraq vet Seth Moulton and attorney Marisa DeFranco.
• MI-14: A new Lake Research poll for Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence finds her leading ex-Rep. Hansen Clarke in the Democratic primary by a 35-27 margin. That runs counter to a poll from last month by Target-Insyght that gave a 32-22 advantage to Clarke, who used to represent part of this district.
• VA-07: Still high on a mix of adrenalin and schadenfreude from Eric Cantor's defeat last week, and craving more maps and charts about how it happened? Daily Kos Elections' Dreaminonempty gives us a top-notch two-fer: a set of precinct maps (including cartograms) that really emphasize the importance of exurban Hanover County in the outcome, and a deeper dive into the question of just how much of Dave Brat's victory was thanks to crossover from Democratic voters. (David Jarman)
• CO-Gov: Republican Bob Beauprez's new ad portrays Democrats as meddling in the GOP primary (true) because Beauprez's the "true conservative" (debatable) "who will defeat John Hickenlooper" (unlikely). The narrator reassures the audience "Democrats can't fool Republican voters," and we'll know June 24 if he's right.
• Demographics: Richard Florida takes an interesting new look at where people are moving to, mashing up Census migration data and education data in an innovative way. He finds that the metro areas that attract highly-educated people are very different than the ones that attract people with less formal education; as you'd probably expect, the more affluent and larger metro areas on the coasts attract the well-educated, while Sun Belt metro areas attract the less-educated.
As befits Florida's focus on the rise of the "creative class," the well-educated migration growth is happening in places like Seattle, San Francisco, Washington, and Austin (Denver is the only city that seems somewhat out of place). Riverside, California leads the way among migration in people with less than a high school education. The overall results are pretty similar to my piece of several months ago looking at county-level net change in educated residents over the last two decades, but Florida's work is much more precise, focusing only on movers (parsing out births and deaths) and breaking education levels down into more categories.
There's also been a lot of discussion regarding a New York Times piece by Ashley Parker and Jonathan Martin about how migration may or may not be at work in recent GOP primary upheavals. They look in particular at De Soto County, Mississippi, and Henrico County, Virginia—generic and newly-built middle-class 'burbs where many residents have moved in from elsewhere, viewing local politicians through a nationalized ideological lens and not being particular aware of what they have (in Thad Cochran's case) or haven't (in Eric Cantor's case) done to shape the local landscape.
The article, though, doesn't seem to grapple with why this looks like a new phenomenon when overall mobility is actually near historic lows right now, but nevertheless, it does offer some good explanatory power for what's happening specifically in MS-Sen and VA-07. (David Jarman)
• Filings: Three New England states had their candidate filing deadlines pass in recent days. Here's our wrapup:
Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy has not had an easy tenure, and several Republicans are lining up to face him. The frontrunner looks like 2010 nominee Tom Foley, who lost to Malloy 50-49 last time. Foley's main opponents for the GOP nomination look like Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and state Senate Minority Leader John McKinney. Also running are Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti and former West Hartford Councilor Joe Visconti. Daily Kos Elections rates the general election as Lean Democratic. Democratic incumbents are also running for re-election for the other statewide posts.
All five of Connecticut's all-Democratic House delegation are seeking re-election. In the 4th District, Rep. Jim Himes faces a rematch with former state Sen. Dan Debicella. The two ran against each other in 2010, with Himes winning 53-47. We rate the general as Likely Democratic. Over in the 5th District, freshman Rep. Elizabeth Esty faces businessman Mark Greenberg, who ran in the primary in 2010 and 2012. Esty won her first term narrowly and Greenberg is capable of some self-funding. We rate the general as Lean Democratic.
• New Hampshire: The Granite State will hold its primary September 9. A list of candidates is available here. As far as we know, reporters are not planning to stake out Dixville Notch or Hart's Location this year.
Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan is running for a second two-year term. Four Republicans are running, with the main two contenders looking like businessman Walt Havenstein and conservative activist Andrew Hemingway. New Hampshire has a long history of reelecting its freshman governors: Since 1926, only Republican Craig Benson has been tossed from office after only one term. It doesn't look like Hassan will be joining him, and we rate the general as Likely Democratic.
Freshman Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is seeking another term. Her most prominent Republican opponent is former Sen. Scott Brown, who notably represented a state that is not New Hampshire until early last year. Also running is former Sen. Bob Smith, who at least did represent the Granite State but last ran for office in Florida, and former state Sen. Jim Rubens. We rate the general as Likely Democratic, also known as Unlikely Bqhatevwr.
Both of the state's Democratic House members are seeking reelection. In the 1st District, Rep. Carol Shea-Porter once again faces former Republican Rep. Frank Guinta. In the 2010 red wave Guinta unseated Shea-Porter, but she returned the favor in 2012. Three other Republicans are running and the most notable looks like Dan Innis, who is the former dean of the University of New Hampshire Business School. We rate the general election as a Tossup.
Over in the more Democratic 2nd District, Rep. Annie Kuster faces three Republicans: state Rep. Marilinda Garcia; former state Sen. Gary Lambert; and former state Rep. Jim Lawrence. We rate the general as Likely Democratic.
• Vermont: Finally, tiny Vermont will hold its primary August 26. A list of candidates is available here. Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin is seeking a third two-year term. We rate this as Safe Democratic. Every statewide incumbent is running again, and none of them have any major party opposition or notable primary opponents. With the exception of Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, all are Democrats. Democratic Rep. Peter Welch, who represents the entire state in the House, is also safe.
• President-by-LD: Stephen Wolf brings us another set of interactive maps visualizing the results of the 2012 presidential election by state legislative district. This time we have Kentucky and Tennessee.
While both states vote similarly at the top of the ticket, the maps show how their legislative chambers have diverged. In Kentucky, especially in the state House, there are a ton of Romney seats still held by Democrats; in Tennessee, Democrats in conservative seats are an increasingly rare breed. Stephen's earlier maps are all collected here. (Jeff Singer)
• Senate: Freedom Partners, the "secret bank" atop the Koch empire pyramid, has reportedly reserved $30 million in ad time across seven different Senate races for this fall. The individual breakdowns are not available, but the list of states is pretty unsurprising: Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, and Oregon. That last one is a bit of an odd duck, though, and note that Alaska's not included for some reason.