• OK-Gov: A new survey from Republican pollster Cole Hargrave Snodgrass finds GOP Gov. Mary Fallin with a rather soft 44-31 lead on her Democratic challenger, state Rep. Joe Dorman. While this might look like your typical didn't-push-leaners poll with lots of undecideds, back in April, Fallin was up 52-37, much more the sort of margin you'd expect. And this follows a YouGov poll that had Fallin ahead 49-40 and a Rasmussen poll that put her on top just 45-40.
Dorman also claims to have an internal that had him back just 6, after his own January polling had him down 20, though he didn't provide any details (not even the name of the pollster). But according to SoonerPoll.com, Fallin's job approvals have also sunk, from 73 percent in September to 52 percent in June. That drop may be due to unhappiness among conservatives over her lack of enthusiasm for repealing the Common Core education standards—a program she expressed support for last year before signing a bill repealing it two months ago.
But even if she's cheesed off the base, could Fallin really lose in a state as red as Oklahoma? Seems crazy, right? But like they say about baseball, this is why they play the games—and why we keep watching 'em.
• HI-Sen, -01: In addition to their gubernatorial written up below, Civil Beat also has some Merriman polls for Hawaii's two big federal primaries. In the Senate race, incumbent Brian Schatz has widened his lead on his challenger, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, legging out to a 49-41 advantage, compared to 44-39 in late May. That's four polls in a row now that have shown Schatz ahead, and Hanabusa hasn't offered any contradictory information.
But the bigger news comes in the open race for Hanabusa's House seat, where state Rep. Mark Takai has surged into the lead over one-time frontrunner Donna Mercado Kim, the president of the state Senate. Takai has a 30-23 edge on Kim, with Honolulu City Councilman Stanley Chang in third at 15. In May, their positions were reversed, with Kim ahead of Takai 30 to 24. A Takai win would be a big relief for progressives, given that Kim opposes same-sex marriage. And given the dark blue nature of this district, he'd be the heavy favorite in November, though GOP ex-Rep. Charles Djou is once again trying to reclaim his old seat.
• IL-Sen: Ordinarily we wouldn't bother to mention a poll of a Safe D or Safe R race, but in case that YouGov survey showing Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin with a weaker-than-expected 48-41 lead on Republican Jim Oberweis had you concerned, here's a We Ask America poll that gives Durbin a much healthier 53-38 advantage. Of course, WAA isn't a very trustworthy pollster in its own right, so I just wouldn't pay too much attention to any of this stuff either way.
• HI-Gov: At this point, if state Sen. David Ige beats Gov. Neil Abercrombie in Saturday's Democratic primary, we can't really call it an upset, because Abercrombie's been in the danger zone quite a while now. But it would still be pretty damn incredible if an unknown state legislator with little money knocked off an incumbent who should, in theory, have every advantage and hasn't made any major screw-ups. Yet here we are, with another Merriman River poll for Civil Beat that has Ige up double digits, 51-41.
Back in June, Merriman had Ige up by a similar 48-37 margin, a result that was so shocking at the time, Civil Beat sent their pollster back into the field to make sure the numbers weren't borked. Turns out they were not. Of course, at this point we have to toss in the usual caveats that Hawaii's super-difficult to poll and that Merriman has a poor track record: They performed atrociously in 2010 and were even publicly smacked down by the DSCC in 2012 for releasing dodgy data on behalf of conservaDem Ed Case.
And one other complicating factor is that Abercrombie's performing so poorly because Republican and right-leaning independent voters, who can cast ballots in Hawaii's open primaries, are undoubtedly taking out their frustrations on him. But as Eric Cantor and Chris McDaniel can tell you, it's not always so easy to model primaries where there are lots of crossover votes. Will these folks actually show up for Ige? We'll see on Saturday. But at this point, I'd be very reluctant to bet on Abercrombie.
• MA-Gov: Don't like the poll you've got? Just wait another week and you'll probably get one you like better, especially when it's Massachusetts and the Boston Globe insists on polling the gubernatorial race every seven days. After several weeks where Democratic frontrunner Martha Coakley's edge over Republican Charlie Baker dwindled down into the mid-single-digits, the latest Globe poll (from SocialSphere, as per usual) finds her bouncing up to a 42-32 lead. The Democratic primary looks a little closer, though still not close: Coakley leads Steve Grossman 45-20, with Don Berwick at 5. (David Jarman)
• OH-Gov: Friday afternoon was a bit of a whirlwind in the Buckeye State, where the day began with some odd insinuations leveled against Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ed FitzGerald. The basics are as follows: In October of 2012, at 4:30 in the morning, a police car came upon a parked red Ford, owned by FitzGerald. There, the officer found FitzGerald and a woman, identified as Joanne Grehan. The officer was following up on a call from an electrician working in the neighborhood, who claimed the car had been parked for a while and speculating that something untoward was taking place within. The officer in question found nothing of consequence, and FitzGerald was neither cited nor charged.
Republicans pushed the story out to the press, with the implication, of course, that FitzGerald was engaged in inappropriate behavior, but he fired back hard in a press conference. After explaining the incident (the woman in question was a member of a trade delegation from Ireland, and they were trying to map a path back to her hotel after a group outing), FitzGerald charged both Gov. John Kasich and the RGA with scandal mongering.
Subsequently, both the investigating officer and Grehan corroborated FitzGerald's version of events, and notably, neither Kasich nor the RGA offered any comment. You'd think that if there were anything real here, they'd seek to press they're advantage. And if they've overreached here, it's possible this whole episode could backfire. (Steve Singiser)
• RI-Gov: Rhode Island's competitive Sept. 9 primary is not too far away, and we have updated campaign finance reports from all the candidates. On the Democratic side, Treasurer Gina Raimondo holds a $2.97 million to $1.3 million cash-on-hand edge over Providence Mayor Angel Taveras. Former Obama Administration official Clay Pell didn't raise too much but has loaned himself over $3 million.
As for the Republicans, businessmen Ken Block holds a $585,000 to $364,000 cash-on-hand advantage over Cranston Mayor Allan Fung. Block has done some self funding, but nowhere near Pell's levels. (Jeff Singer)
• AR-01: Rick Crawford (R-inc): 48, Jackie McPherson (D): 33Unsurprisingly, the closest race is in the open 2nd District, which takes in Little Rock and is the state's bluest. It's still decidedly Republican-leaning, though, and supported Mitt Romney by a 55-43 margin. But Arkansas Democrats have still shown an ability to be competitive even on seemingly unfriendly turf, and Hays, a former mayor of North Little Rock, is keeping it close with Hill, a wealthy, well-connected banker and one-time George W. Bush aide.
• AR-02: French Hill (R): 44, Pat Hays (D): 43
• AR-04: Bruce Westerman (R): 48, James Lee Witt (D): 34
Witt, though, isn't faring quite so well. He's Bill Clinton's legendary former FEMA director and has raised good money (with some help from the Big Dog himself), but this district is much redder than the 2nd, at 62-36 Romney. Democrats managed to hold it as recently as 2010, when gubernatorial nominee Mike Ross hung on despite the fierce GOP wave. But the seat's natural tilt may just be too much for Witt to stop Westerman, the state House majority leader.
The 1st, meanwhile, isn't really on anyone's radar screen. While Crawford may not look dominant, he's close enough to the 50 percent mark that he should be just fine against McPherson, the mayor of Heber Springs (pop. 7,165), as long as this poll is accurate. However, as Nate Cohn pointed out, Hendrix's statewide polls were not weighted for race and wound up under-representing black voters. If the same is true here, that could be dragging down Democrats' numbers in all of these race, but particularly in the 2nd, which is 22 percent African-American. So Hays, at least, might be doing better than he appears.
• FL-26: Here's a head-scratcher from Republican ex-Rep. David Rivera, who launched an unexpected comeback bid for his seat, raised no money, and then just as unexpectedly said "um, never mind" in early July. Rivera never formally withdrew his name from the ballot, though, and now district residents have reported receiving Spanish-language robocalls from Rivera urging them to vote for him in the Aug. 26 primary. Is Rivera so scattered that he forgot to rescind his earlier robocall order ... or is he operating in a David Wu-style state of denial about no longer being in the House? (David Jarman)
• KS-01: A late-breaking GOP primary challenge in Kansas' very conservative 1st District has Rep. Tim Huelskamp unexpectedly looking over his shoulder at Some Dude Alan LaPolice, who's gotten $260,000 worth of help from Now or Never PAC. But this race isn't your typical tea partier-versus-establishment setup—in fact, it's the exact opposite. LaPolice, a Gulf War vet who grew up on a farm, is taking aim at Huelskamp for co-sponsoring a bill that would cut federal ethanol subsidies, a critical piece of the economy in rural Kansas.
And while LaPolice has no money, a wide array of industry heavy hitters, including the Kansas Corn Growers Association, the Kansas Farm Bureau, and the Kansas Association of Ethanol Processors all recently issued a joint statement lambasting Huelskamp over his proposed legislation. In other words, this is a clear-cut case of big business trying to reassert control over radical dystopians who want to cut the federal budget to the bone, then cut the bone. The ag kingpins didn't exactly recruit a stellar candidate, and Huelskamp still has a huge spending advantage, but this should be an interesting test-case in the fight over the GOP's future come Tuesday.
• VA-07: Nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey hey hey, goo-oodbye. In an entirely unsurprising move, GOP Rep. Eric Cantor announced on Thursday—the same day he stepped down as majority leader—that he'll resign from Congress early. Cantor plans to quit on Aug. 18 and says he's asked Gov. Terry McAuliffe to call a special election that will coincide with this fall's general election. That'll give Dave Brat, the man who defeated him in June's epic primary and the all-but-certain winner in November, a small measure of seniority over other incoming freshmen. But more importantly, it'll start the clock ticking on Cantor's one-year ban from becoming a lobbyist, allowing him to cash out on K Street that much earlier. See ya!
• FL Redistricting: So the judge hearing the redistricting lawsuit in Florida has ordered the legislature to submit a new map rectifying the unconstitutional infirmities of the current map by Aug. 15. He also ordered the secretary of state to produce a special election schedule for dealing with the revised districts, under the assumption that "a revised map will be in place no later than Aug. 21."
The whole decision isn't exactly a model of clarity, with the judge admitting in several places he's not sure what to do, or even what he can do. It seems like we're veering toward a classic case of haste making bad law. And of course, plaintiffs will have the right to challenge both the new map and schedule, and if they do, whatever small chance there is of conducting elections under new lines instead of the old ones will utterly vanish. It would make a lot more sense to take the time to get things right.
• Tennessee: One of the great mysteries of politics is why Tennessee holds its primaries on Thursdays, but unfortunately, there really is no answer to this riddle. Governing actually investigated this back in 2010 and found that the state's constitution has required elections be held on Thursday as far back as 1796, rather than the more traditional Tuesday. But it's unclear why Thursday, though it may just come down to "Why not Thursday?"
Changing the primary date to Tuesday would require a constitutional amendment, and there's really no political will to start a long and complicated process to fix something few people see as a problem. In the meantime, we can look forward to the state's primary this Thursday, Aug. 7. (Jeff Singer)
Ads (Jeff Singer):
• MN-Gov: Republican businessman Scott Honour's new spot features his wife, who touts how he's the only candidate in the race who's not a politician. I guess that's true: Plenty of non-politicians run campaign ads about how great they are, right?