• AR-Sen: If you've been wondering about Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor's surprising reversal of fortune in his difficult re-election campaign, this new piece from U.S. News probably does as decent a job as anyone can in trying to explain Pryor's return from the dead. There's no hard data here, so the thesis isn't falsifiable, but the authors argue that GOP Rep. Tom Cotton's "wooden and academic" style has made it hard for him to connect in a small state where parochial retail politics is still king.
Cotton's also been hurt, they say, by his lack of deep connections to Arkansas, and the fact that he's had to run ads trying to demonstrate his ties to his ostensible home state only underscores that this is an issue for him. Most interesting, though, is the argument that Pryor's remarks in early March, claiming Cotton has a "sense of entitlement" leading him to feel he should be elevated to the Senate because he served in the military, have actually undermined Cotton and not Pryor.
Originally many observers believed Pryor made an uncouth jab that would hurt him, but one unnamed Democrat suggests the comments actually "planted the necessary seed of doubt" about Cotton, and even thinks Pryor may have been playing a long game, accepting a "short-term hit" in exchange for a "long-term gain." And as he has with his Arkansas roots, Cotton has felt compelled to defend himself in TV advertisements against charges that he's overly ambitious, so perhaps the rebuke actually drew some blood. Again, this is all speculative and anecdotal, but Cotton certainly wouldn't be the first politician to run aground because of a relatability gap.
• AK-Sen: A supposed spat between Democrats Mark Begich and Claire McCaskill may actually just be a particularly crafty bit of Br'er Rabbit-style trickery—and it's not like McCaskill is a stranger to political shenanigans. McCaskill has been pushing legislation that would eliminate the special treatment received by so-called Alaska Native Corporations, which are intended to help native communities reap benefits from the state's oil production efforts. McCaskill claims the ANC's profits are not actually reaching their intended beneficiaries, a charge that Begich has reacted angrily to, going so far as to say that McCaskill "has trouble understanding Alaska history, even with my repeated attempts to reason with her."
If that seems over-the-top by Senate standards, perhaps it was. As TPM's Dylan Scott points out, it certainly doesn't hurt Begich to pick a fight with his Democratic colleagues. And check out McCaskill's latest statement on the dispute:
"I've fought for six years to change the law in regard to Alaska Native Corporations. There has consistently been one problem—Mark Begich. He single-handedly protects Alaska and the ANCs."It's almost as though Begich's own press shop wrote that! If McCaskill is really taking one for the team here by playing the heel, then my hat is well and truly doffed.
Sarah Palin might have called for the impeachment of President Barack Obama Tuesday, but Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst actually beat her to the punch by six months.• KS-Sen: Ha!
At a Montgomery County, Iowa, candidate forum in January, Ernst told a crowd that she believed Obama had "become a dictator" and that he needed to face the consequences for his executive actions, "whether that's removal from office, whether that's impeachment."
Kansas Republican Sen. Pat Roberts is struggling to combat criticism from opponents who say he shouldn't represent a state where he no longer lives permanently.• MS-Sen: Some men just want to watch the world burn, and others merely want to supply the gasoline. The Senate Conservatives Fund just gave legendary sore loser Chris McDaniel $70,000 to keep pursuing his allegations that voter fraud caused him to lose last month's GOP runoff to Sen. Thad Cochran. McDaniel may also use some of the funds to build a hideout deep in the Philippine jungle from which he can continue his fight for decades to come.
Roberts, who owns a property in Dodge City that he currently rents out, didn't help that perception with a verbal slip-up during an interview with KCMO radio. "Every time I get an opponent—I mean, every time I get a chance, I'm home," Roberts said in the interview. "I don't measure my record with regards as a senator as how many times I sleep wherever it is."
• ME-Gov: A PAC backed by the DGA and several labor unions, called Maine Forward, says it plans to spend $2 million this year on ads supporting Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud, who is hoping to unseat GOP Gov. Paul LePage. The group hasn't made any reservations yet, but given LePage's vulnerabilities and Democrats' eagerness to knock him off, the threat is real—and it's not like the DGA messes around.
A Wednesday dinner and candidate forum featuring the six Republicans running for the Palm Beach-Treasure Coast seat of freshman Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, has been scrubbed after only 22 people signed up to attend.The best part is that tickets were only $20 a person and included a meal!
• KS-04: Koch Industries, which is headquartered locally in Wichita, has endorsed Rep. Mike Pompeo, who faces a challenge in the GOP primary from the man he succeeded, ex-Rep. Todd Tiahrt. Both Republicans have received backing from the Kochs in the past, but Pompeo's voting record aligns more closely with the dystopian outlook the Kochs favor. Note, though, that this endorsement comes from the petrochemical company that made the Kochs their fortune and not from the many-limbed Kochtopus that terrorizes the political scene (with arms like Freedom Partners, Americans for Prosperity, the 60 Plus Association, etc.), so it remains to be seen if real money will get spent on this race.
• VA-07: Hrm. A Politico story says that soon-to-be-ex-Rep. Eric Cantor is busy trying to raise as much as $150,000 in order to wind down his campaign committee, and one reason the piece gives is that Cantor may have already spent money designated for the general election and would need to refund those contributors. However, it's strictly non-kosher to spend general election-only funds on a primary, as we saw with Marjorie Margolies in Pennsylvania. So either Politico got something wrong (there's a vague update at the bottom of the article suggesting as much), or Cantor did something seriously not okay.
• NY State Senate: We're officially living in bizarro world: New York's Working Families Party endorsed Gov. Andrew Cuomo for re-election in May and has now withdrawn their endorsements from two Democrats challenging members of the Senate's IDC: Oliver Koppell and John Liu. The WFP is obviously buying into the bogus non-promise by renegade Democrats to return to the fold next year, but it's pretty messed up when a supposedly left-wing political party aimed at pushing the Democrats in a more liberal direction backs a reactionary like Cuomo yet spurns progressives like Koppell and Liu.
This is politics at its transactional worst, but the WFP has even endorsed Republicans in the past in exchange for action on their legislative priorities, so this really isn't too surprising. Still, what the WFP's done here should not be forgotten. They had a chance to help take out two renegade Democrats, Jeff Klein and Tony Avella, and they've simply opted to abandon the candidates who stuck their necks to try and make New York a better place.
Even grosser, supposed progressive champion Bill de Blasio, elected mayor of New York on a landslide of liberal support last year, has now endorsed Klein and Avella. De Blasio even had the chutzpah to claim that the pair has "worked tirelessly on behalf of the residents of New York City and helped make progress on issues that had been stalled for far too long." What barf.
• Demographics: You're probably familiar with the theory that different generations have different voting patterns, based on what was happening in politics during their formative years. That theory has a lot more statistical oomph behind it now, thanks to Andrew Gelman's analysis of individual-level age and party preference data from Catalist. The underlying principle is that events at age 18 have a much stronger impact on forming one's political identity than events that take place at, say, age 40.
It sounds pretty abstract, but the New York Times writeup makes it tangible with a great interactive graphic, where you can manipulate a slider based on a person's birth year to see how each generation has evolved politically over the decades. You can see succeeding waves, with the Silent Generation (those born before or during WWII) and Gen X'ers showing up as more Republican than average, while Baby Boomers and especially Millennials are more Democratic than average.
It doesn't really delve into the causation, though, which poses a bunch of interesting questions. For instance, what's stronger, positive association with the party in charge when things are going well during one's formative years (e.g., the Silent Generation and Eisenhower), or negative association with who's in power when things are going poorly (e.g., Millennials and George W. Bush)? Or is parenting, not political events, what's really driving the ebb and flow? In other words, are Gen X'ers shaped by their Silent Generation parents, and Millennials shaped by their Boomer parents? No one can say for sure. (David Jarman)