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Leading Off:

KS-Gov, -Sen: Whoa! We knew GOP Gov. Sam Brownback was unpopular, but this unpopular? A new SurveyUSA poll finds Democrat Paul Davis, the state House minority leader, beating Brownback 47-41 (with Libertarian Keen Umbehr at 5), an improvement from Davis' already-remarkable 43-39 edge last October. A pair of PPP polls taken in between also placed Davis on top, and the only contradictory numbers have come from a Republican pollster (which had Brownback at just 42) and Rasmussen, which, well, Rasmussen.

What's more, Brownback has a weak 55-37 lead in the GOP primary against his Some Dude opponent, Jennifer Winn, the mother of a man charged with felony murder after a drug deal turned deadly. Winn has now become an advocate for marijuana reform (as well as hemp legalization) and says she has no specific beef with Brownback. In other words, she's a classic non-serious candidate who should be polling in single digits at best, but here she is nearly cracking 40. Ya think Kansans are sick of Brownback? (If you want to know more about why, click here.)

In fact, Kansas voters don't seem to be too thrilled with Republican office-holders in general. In the Senate race, veteran GOP Sen. Pat Roberts only manages a blechy 43-33 advantage on Democrat Chad Taylor, his most likely general election opponent. A Taylor upset seems almost impossible on paper, but for an inoffensive incumbent like Roberts to be mired in the low 40s in a state like Kansas is really remarkable. Roberts does seem to be keeping his tea-fueled primary challenger at bay, though, with a 56-23 lead on physician Milton Wolf. Given that Wolf has actually gotten some attention and is at least running a traditional outsider's campaign, that makes Brownback's primary showing look even worse.

But while Brownback could definitely lose, can he take the rest of the ship down with him? Again, Roberts would be very hard to dislodge, but perhaps a few more marginal state legislators could find themselves anvil'd to the bottom of Brownback Bay. But even if "only" Brownback goes down, that would still be an amazing result for Sunflower State Democrats.


GA-Sen: There's finally a ray of light for wealthy businessman David Perdue as he trundles toward next month's GOP runoff, but of course, it's from his own internal poll. Perdue's survey, from WPA Research, finds him nosing ahead of Rep. Jack Kingston, 45-44, but every other poll has shown Kingston closing in or eclipsing the 50 percent mark, with wide leads to boot. Then again, we've now seen two races so far there year (Eric Cantor's and Thad Cochran's) where all the polling was wrong, plus Terry McAuliffe's win in Virginia last year. So increased skepticism is warranted pretty much everywhere.

KY-Sen: A new PPP poll for Americans for Tax Fairness, a progressive group, finds Democratic Alison Grimes leading GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell 48-46. This is now the second poll in a row showing Grimes both ahead of McConnell and awfully close to 50, though the previous survey that had her up 49-46 was from a Republican pollster, Magellan Strategies. Maybe she can really do this thing.

MS-Sen: If you're still hungry for more information about Mississippi's Republican primary, we've got more. If you haven't gotten your fill of cartography yet, Mississippi State University's Stennis Center is out with a lengthy analysis, and it has some cool maps that, while they don't add any new data to the pile, visualize it in an interesting way, using 3-D mapping techniques instead of cartograms.

And if you're interested in how Chris McDaniel is going to keep fighting his Lost Cause, he's trying to get the state GOP's chair to compel county clerks to open their books so his supporters can look for voters who might have impermissibly voted in the Democratic primary and then the GOP runoff. (The state party chair, of course, has no authority to do so.)

Finally, the mea culpa memo from the pollster who messed up is rapidly becoming an honored tradition this cycle. This time, it's Chism Strategies left holding the bag and saying (just as McLaughlin did in Virginia) that their likely voter model had no way of encompassing all those unlikely voters who showed up. (David Jarman)

NC-Sen: Conservative think tank Civitas is still asking that absurd "would you rather elect a Republican who will be a check and balance to President Obama" question before getting to its horserace matchups, but in spite of that finger on the scale, Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan sports a 42-36 lead on Republican Thom Tillis, with Libertarian Sean Haugh taking a hefty 9 percent, as per usual.

What doesn't make sense, though, is that Civitas' prior poll (also conducted by National Research) had Tillis ahead 41-37. A 10-point swing is obviously unreasonable, though the earlier survey was taken a couple of weeks after Tillis won the GOP primary, so perhaps he received a temporary bump. But as Tom Jensen points out, the legislature is back in session, and that always seems to hurt Tillis, who's the state House speaker. What's more, PPP's last poll is pretty close to Civitas' current numbers, so we have something of a consensus here.

OK-Sen-B: Roll Call's Alexis Livingston offers a helpful post-mortem explaining Rep. James Lankford's big win in Tuesday night GOP Senate primary in Oklahoma. Outside groups overwhelmingly came in for former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon, but Lankford managed to cut that deficit by raising and spending more than his opponent. He also earned some critical support from retiring Sen. Tom Coburn, who had pledged to stay out of the race but offered a statement late in the game praising Lankford and decrying the negative attacks against him. (Lankford ran ads featuring Coburn's remarks.)

Most interestingly, and probably most importantly, Lankford had built up a tremendous network among social conservatives thanks to the years he spent running the Falls Creek Baptist Youth Camp, which bills itself as the largest Christian camp in the country and says 50,000 kids attend each summer. It was those connections that allowed Lankford, a true outsider, to first win his seat in Congress in 2010, and they powered him to victory again this year.


KY-Gov: State Attorney General Jack Conway, the lone Democrat running in next year's race for governor, just rolled out a trio of big endorsements that suggests he'll continue to have the primary to himself. Conway picked up the support of former state Auditor Crit Luallen (who had considered her own bid), Rep. John Yarmuth (the only Democrat in Kentucky's congressional delegation), and former Sen. and Gov. Wendell Ford, who at 89 is the godfather of Kentucky Democratic politics and apparently rarely gets involved in primaries. If anyone else were to get in at this point, they'd be bumping up what looks like a pretty united establishment.

SC-Gov: A new PPP poll for the South Carolina Democratic Party gives Gov. Nikki Haley a small 49-46 lead on Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, which is an improvement from PPP's December survey, where Sheheen was up 46-45. The results may not be perfectly comparable, though, as PPP used a different rubric this time, asking respondents if their level of support for their preferred candidate was "strong" or "weak." (These toplines combine both answers.) However, Haley's awfully close to 50 here, and this sample is also much bluer than before (39-36 Republican, versus 42-31), so these numbers actually look kind of tough for Sheheen.


CA-31: After paying for just a single day of a recount, Republican Lesli Gooch has pulled the plug. Gooch trailed Democrat Pete Aguilar by 209 votes for second place in the top-two primary, and the recount wasn't going to budge things (nor did it). So now Aguilar can concentrate on beating Republican Paul Chabot in the fall, in a race where Aguilar should be heavily favored.

NJ-02: This is gross. The local branches of the United Auto Workers recently endorsed Democrat Bill Hughes, then rescinded the endorsement a week later. Hughes claims the move was made as a result of pressure from the AFL-CIO, which previously complained to DCCC chair Steve Israel over the fact that his committee is targeting Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo, Hughes' opponent. Ugly.

Grab Bag:


AK-Sen: American Crossroads launches a pretty disorganized attack on Democratic Sen. Mark Begich.

IA-Sen: VoteVets thanks Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley for supporting local energy, ensuring that less oil money goes overseas to terrorists. Interestingly, the ad favorably ties Braley to Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, a man Democrats would rather see lose this year.

MI-Sen: VoteVets has another ad with a local veteran thanking Democratic Rep. Gary Peters for fighting to free America from dependence on foreign oil.

NM-Gov: After bearing the brunt of a ton of Republican attack ads over the last month, Democratic Attorney General Gary King is going on the offensive. King portrays Republican Gov. Susana Martinez as mismanaging the state.

RI-Gov: Democratic Providence Mayor Angel Taveras emphasizes education.

WI-Gov: Democrat Mary Burke seizes on recent news that Republican Gov. Scott Walker has been accused by prosecutors of standing at the center of campaign finance wrongdoing. The ad also hits Walker on the state's economic problems.

CO-06: VoteVets goes after Republican Rep. Mike Coffman, accusing him of voting against troop pay raises while supporting tax breaks for oil companies.

FL-02: An environmental group called Ocean Champions spends $46,000 portraying Republican Rep. Steve Southerland of embracing Washington while leaving behind his constituents.

(Jeff Singer)

Deaths: Former Tennessee Sen. Howard Baker, who served as Senate majority leader in the early 1980s when Republicans held the chamber, has died at the age of 88. Baker's list of accomplishments is long, but he's best known for his immortal question during the Senate's Watergate hearings, asking of Richard Nixon, "What did the President know, and when did he know it?"

President-by-LD: Today we go big and visit Alaska and Texas. As always, you can find our master list of data here.

Alaska implemented interim districts for the 2012 elections but, after lengthy court battles, will elect legislators under new lines from 2014 until 2020. We have the state House and Senate calculated by both the 2012 interim lines and the 2014 permanent boundaries. Note that the district numbers (or in the state Senate's case, letters) usually did not stay consistent between the two maps.

Democrats lost control of the Alaska House in the 1994 elections and have been in the minority ever since. That's not likely to change for a while: Mitt Romney carried the state 55-41, and won 27 of the 40 new districts. Republicans currently hold a 26 to 14 edge, with four Democrats serving with the GOP's the majority coalition.

Because no one has been elected under the new lines, we haven't assigned any legislators to districts. However, three Democrats are running for re-election in districts carried by Romney, while only one Republican is running in an Obama seat. The most conservative seat that features a Democratic incumbent is Fairbanks' HD-01, which backed Romney 53-43; the old version of this seat was about the same. All four Democrats in the GOP-led coalition sit in blue seats (the reddest went for Obama 56-41) and only Rep. Benjamin Nageak faces a primary challenger.

Alaska's state Senate seats are made up of two House districts. Romney carried 15 of the 20 new Senate seats but this chamber has been much more competitive in recent years. The Senate was tied from 2006 to 2012, and was run by a Democratic-led coalition. Republicans retook control in 2012 and currently hold a 13-7 majority, with two Democrats now in the majority coalition. Only half the Senate is up this year, and no legislators are running for reelection in a seat carried by the opposite party's nominee. Both Democratic senators who sit with the Republicans represent blue districts, and neither faces a primary challenge this year.

We also have both chambers calculated by the 2012 U.S. House race. Longtime Republican Rep. Don Young had a close call in 2008 but won an easy 64-29 victory in 2012. Young took 37 of 40 state House districts and 19 of 20 state Senate seats. There was some massive splitting among Democratic voters: The rural HD-39 in particular went 69-29 Obama while also going 75-22 Young.

We also have Texas' 2012 statewide results calculated by the state House, state Senate, and Congressional district. Note that the state legislature made some minor changes to a few state House districts in Dallas, Harris, Tarrant, and Webb counties following the 2012 elections. We have the results calculated by the districts that will be used from 2014 on, but all the differences are very small.

Republicans won their first post-Reconstruction majority in the House in 2002 and have held it ever since. Democrats won 74 of the state's 150 House seats as recently as 2008, and allied with several Republicans to install a more moderate speaker. However, the 2010 red wave cost Team Blue dearly. 2012 went better for Texas Democrats, but Republicans currently have a 95-55 majority.

Romney won the state 57-41 and took 96 of the 150 seats. Only retiring Democratic state Rep. Craig Eiland sits in a seat won by the other party's presidential candidate; his Galveston-area district went for Romney 55-44. Wily Texas Republicans ensured there'd be few swing seats: Only four districts went for Obama or Romney by fewer than five points, and only three more were decided by under ten points.

Team Red flipped the state Senate in 1996 and has kept it ever since. Romney won 20 of the 31 seats, and Republicans hold a 19 to 12 majority. Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis is the only member of the chamber to hold a seat won by the opposite party's presidential nominee. Her Fort Worth seat went for Romney 53-45, and it's the most competitive district in the chamber. Davis is leaving her seat behind to run for governor.

We also have the results calculated by the 2012 U.S. Senate race and railroad commissioner contest. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz won a 56-41 statewide victory and carried the same House, Senate, and congressional districts that Romney carried. Republican Christi Craddick's 56-40 statewide win in the railroad commissioner's race also netted her the same set of districts. (Jeff Singer)

Rhode Island: Filing closed Wednesday in the Ocean State, and the state has a list of candidates here.

Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democratic Gov. Lincoln Chafee is calling it quits after one term. On the Democratic side, we have a three-way race between Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, Treasurer Gina Raimondo, and former Obama administration official Clay Pell (grandson of the late Sen. Claiborne Pell). The Republicans have a duel between businessman Ken Block and Cranston Mayor Allan Fung. Daily Kos Elections rates the general election as Likely Democratic.

Both parties have a contested primary for lieutenant governor, and Democrats also have primaries in the open races for secretary of state and treasurer. The latter race features former Treasurer Frank Caprio trying to reclaim his old job. Caprio was the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2010 and placed third that November, after he infamously ranted that President Obama, who remained neutral in the contest, could "take his endorsement and really shove it." Democratic Attorney General Peter Kilmartin faces Republican state Sen. Dawson Hodgson for re-election.

Both Democratic Sen. Jack Reed and both of the state's Democratic House members face little opposition. However, we have an interesting open seat race to replace Taveras as mayor of Providence. Six Democrats are running in the primary; the winner will go on to face the one and only Buddy Cianci, the legendary former mayor (and ex-con) who is trying to reclaim his old job as an independent. (Jeff Singer)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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