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9:03 AM PT: KS-04: With Kansas' August 5 primary drawing ever closer, SurveyUSA takes another look at the Republican match between sophomore Rep. Mike Pompeo and his predecessor Todd Tiahrt. They find that while Pompeo is still ahead, things are much tighter than they were a few weeks ago. Pompeo now leads 46-39, down from 51-34 in June. It's unclear what's caused things to tighten so quickly, assuming one of the polls isn't just off. Pompeo has some wealthy allies-he's backed by Koch industries- and we'll see if they spend big to get him across the finish line.

10:55 AM PT: NM-Gov: Rasmussen: Republican Gov. Susana Martinez ties Democratic Attorney General Gary King 43-43.

11:15 AM PT: CA-52: Freshman Democrat Scott Peters has been facing some ugly poll numbers, but Team Blue has finally produced some better ones. GBA, on behalf of Patriot Majority, was in the field July 20-22. They find Peters with a 48-43 lead over Republican Carl DeMaio, a former San Diego city councilor and 2012 mayoral runner-up.

There aren't many GBA polls from within a month of the election, but the firm did have a good performance in 2012.

NM-Sen: GBA: Heinrich (D) 51-41; actual: Heinrich (D) 51-45; error: +4 D

IL-17: GBA: Bustos (D) 49-45; actual: Bustos (D)

53-47; error +2 R

NY-25: GBA: Slaughter (D) 53-43; actual: Slaughter (D) 57-43; error +4 R

This is going to be a hard fought race, but this is a good sign that Democrats think Peters still has what it takes to pull off a win.  

11:47 AM PT (David Jarman): CA-Gov: If you can say one thing about the polling of California's gubernatorial race since the June 3 primary (where sorta-moderate Neel Kashkari made a last-minute surge past ultra-conservative Tim Donnelly to grab the second slot), it's been consistent. Today's poll from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) has Dem incumbent Jerry Brown leading Kashkari 52-33 among likely voters. Compare that to the late June Field Poll, where Brown led 52-32, and the early June Rasmussen poll, where Brown led 52-33. Well, if nothing else, Kashkari can at least tout how much he's shot up since PPIC's previous poll in April: there, Brown led Kashkari 46-2!

11:53 AM PT (David Jarman): Demographics: With an eye toward the influx of child refugees from Central America, the Wall Street Journal has some interesting maps of where there are the heaviest concentrations of persons from the three countries most affected (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras). The implication, apparently, is that these areas may see a population influx among refugees who are granted asylum and move to where relatives already live.

While Salvadorans have become the dominant ethnicity among Hispanics in the Washington, DC area, there are even larger numbers of them in the Los Angeles area; similarly, Guatemalans are particularly concentrated in the L.A. area. Hondurans, however, are heavily concentrated in the south: in the Miami area, particularly, but also New Orleans and Houston.

12:04 PM PT (David Jarman): Senate: One trend that we've been observing this cycle at Daily Kos Elections is how hard it's been for state legislators to advance to the House, which has been the usual route in the past but happens less as 'outsiders' develop more of an advantage. However, the opposite seems to be happening in the Senate: as the Washington Post's Paul Kane demonstrates, we're at a near-record level of ex-House members in the Senate (51, just short of the record of 52).

And moreover, with eight House members still in the hunt for Senate seats, it's likely we'll crash through that record this year. That disparity probably has something to do with the fundamental differences between House and Senate races, where House members' already-established Beltway connections enable the fundraising and field-clearing that helps them in these higher-dollar, higher-profile races.

12:22 PM PT (David Jarman): State legislatures: Political scientists Boris Shor and Nolan McCarty made some waves a few years ago with the creation of a giant database extending DW-Nominate-type analysis to the nation's state legislators. That's been around long enough that now it's time for the first major update. In terms of polarization, things haven't changed much: California still has by far the nation's most polarized legislature, followed by Colorado, while Louisiana and Rhode Island are still among the least polarized. Arkansas, interestingly, fell from being fairly middling in terms of polarization to one of the least polarized, probably due to the Republicans taking control of both chambers in 2012.

They also include a graph scaling the nation's legislatures from most to least conservative, and it contains a shocker: New York's legislature, despite Republicans having quasi-control of the state Senate, clocks in as the most liberal, even more so than the newly-cleansed California legislature. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, Oklahoma is most conservative.) Compare that to Washington, another blue state where coalition-related chicanery has given the Republicans one hand on the steering wheel, which is much closer to the median (although still more liberal than several other states where the Dems control both chambers, especially West Virginia but even New Mexico). Another mild surprise is Arizona which, despite GOP control of both chambers and a track record of crazy right-wing legislation, still manages to be slightly left of the national median.

1:26 PM PT: MT-Sen: On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that appointed Democratic Sen. John Walsh had plagiarized large parts of his final war college paper in 2007, and things are not looking good for him right now. Walsh has confirmed that he did not properly cite these sections, and has stated that he had combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder when he wrote the thesis.  

Walsh was already the underdog before this broke, not leading in a single released poll. Over at FiveThirtyEight, Harry Enten analyzes Senate candidates who came back from a large polling deficit at this point in the election to win. He finds that there's only one example in the last 10 years: Virginia Democrat Jim Webb in 2006. With Walsh already facing an uphill climb against Republican Rep. Steve Daines he needed almost everything to go right, and it's hard to see how this doesn't make that climb even steeper.

1:55 PM PT: IL-Gov: It's one thing to make the news, but Republican businessman Bruce Rauner has decided to go one step further and make up the news. Rauner has been running an ad against Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn featuring a string of negative headlines about Quinn's tenure from various independent news sources. And while some of them are real headlines, other... aren't. Rick Pearson of the Chicago Tribune explains:

In one case, the ad displays the words “Quinn education cuts lead to teacher layoffs and larger class sizes,” which the Rauner campaign attributes to an April 11 Associated Press report that appeared on the Washington Times web site.

But the actual headline was “Quinn, Rauner spar on education in 1st 2014 event” from a story about a joint appearance by the two candidates before the Illinois Education Association.

...

Another quoted “headline” says “Pat Quinn. Pay to Play,” citing a June 20 AP story. The actual headline in the source material provided by Rauner’s campaign was another Washington Times web headline: “Event honoring Quinn raises ‘pay to play’ issues.” It ran over a story about the fundraisers behind a Democratic Governors Association event honoring Quinn. Again, the phrase quoted in the ad did not appear in the story.

If Quinn is looking for some negative stories about Rauner, I can confirm that "New Rauner attack ad relies on made-up headlines," is in fact a real headline.  

2:13 PM PT: MI-11: It's always been clear that accidental Rep. Kerry Bentivolio would need to fight hard to hold his seat in the August 5 Republican primary against wealthy foreclosure kingpin Dave Trott. Well Bentivolio is proving he's ready to wage the fight of his life by... doing pretty much nothing.

Local Republicans report that that they've seen very little of Bentivolio during the campaign, and the congressman has not raised much money. Bentivolio largely got elected in 2012 by default after then Rep. Thad McCotter was thrown off the ballot, but this time fate is not conspiring to help the congressman. Trott isn't taking things for granted and is describing Bentivolio's efforts as a "stealth campaign". But unless Bentivolio has a fleet of cloaked Romulan Warbirds parked in orbit over Livonia, it's looking very unlikely that this strategy is going to take him very far.

Bentivolio did resurface on Thursday a bit though, returning a US Chamber of Commerce award. The Chamber has endorsed Trott and Bentivolio is letting them have it, saying in a statement, "The US Chamber is in the pocket of Communist China and big companies seeking cheap labor in the United States." Yeah, that'll show em.

2:21 PM PT: Senate ads:

NC-Sen: Crossroads GPS goes after Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan for voting to raise the debt ceiling and not supporting a balanced budget amendment.

2:30 PM PT: Gubernatorial ads:

AZ-Gov: The 60 Plus Association, a member of the Koch Super Friends, hits Republican primary contender and former GoDaddy executive Christine Jones. They portray her as lying about serving in the Air Force, with the narrator claiming official records say she never joined.

HI-Gov: Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie emphasizes education once again.  

PA-Gov: Republican Gov. Tom Corbett continues to portray Democratic rival Tom Wolf as a guy who tried to raise everyone's taxes but his own.

RI-Gov: Former Obama Administration official Clay Pell continues his ad barrage ahead of the September 9 Democratic primary. His newest spot features his more famous wife, world-champion figure skater Michelle Kwan, explaining how Pell's policies will help women in business and strength protection for women.  

2:41 PM PT: House ads:

MI-03: Businessman Brian Ellis pulls out the big guns in his Republican primary challenge against Rep. Justin Amash and unveils... Pete Hoekstra. The former representative has not been seen much since his 59-39 loss to Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow in 2012, but he appears here to say what a great conservative Ellis is. He also accuses Amash for running false ads and voting against both a balanced budget and veterans. To be fair, Hoekstra used to represent almost a quarter of this district so maybe he has some pull among primary voters.

TN-03: Republican Rep. Chuck Fleischmann turns to former primary rival and dairy magnate Scottie Mayfield in his new spot. Mayfield, who ran against Fleischmann in the 2012 primary, spends most of the spot trashing Fleischmann's primary rival Weston Wamp, who also ran in 2012. Mayfield recounts how Wamp met with him and secretly recorded the conversation, which is still creepy months later.

2:54 PM PT: AK-Sen: The Guardian has a good look at how Democratic Sen. Mark Begich is staying in the fight despite the odds being seemingly stacked against him. One interesting detail is about the emergence of a new PAC, Alaska's Energy, America's Values, who recently ran a spot for Republican rival former state Attorney General Dan Sullivan.

The group is run by veteran Alaska Republican strategist Art Hackney, who persuaded Sullivan to run in the first place. Hackney founded the group due to his frustration with national Republicans. Alaska's Energy, America's Values will hit Begich's tenure as mayor of Anchorage, which has been mostly ignored so far; The PAC will also try something completely original and tie Begich to Obama.

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