• FL-Gov: A new survey from Republican pollster Cherry Communications, taken on behalf of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, finds GOP Gov. Rick Scott leading Democrat Charlie Crist 41-35, with Libertarian Adrian Wyllie taking four percent. That might sound bad for Crist, but it's actually disappointing for Scott, who had a 41-38 lead in June. Yes, Crist's dropped a few points, but Scott hasn't seen his numbers improve despite a massive advertising campaign, so releasing these numbers is a bit of a bonehead move by the Florida Chamber, which has endorsed Scott.
What makes the choice even stranger is that the agreggated trendlines for all pollsters have in fact shown Scott ticking up around 4 points since March. Cherry's obviously does not show any upward movement, so the Chamber is no doubt banking that most media coverage will ignore their prior poll. They're going to have to try a lot harder to get one past us.
• AK-Sen: It took her long enough: Just days before Tuesday's GOP primary, former Gov. Sarah Palin finally endorsed her kindred spirit, tea partier Joe Miller. It seems pretty pointless, though. If Palin had any hope of influencing the race on Miller's behalf, she should have gotten in long ago. Then again, Mama Grizzly's political instincts have never been as sharp as her claws.
• AR-Gov: Even though Democrat Mike Ross has outraised Republican Asa Hutchinson dramatically, he nevertheless trails in the polls. Perhaps Ross will finally get the chance to turn things around, though, as he recently reserved $1.1 million in fall advertising time. As for Hutchinson, only an unspecified "portion" of the $485,000 he spent in July went toward TV reservations, so Ross has a bigger flight planned and probably locked in cheaper rates. However, Hutchinson has more cash left over, $829,000 to $344,000.
• AZ-Gov: With a week to go before Arizona's GOP primary, a new poll for the
American Autoduel Association Arizona Automobile Dealers Association (presumably conducted by Magellan, once again) finds state Treasurer Doug Ducey moving out to a 31-23 lead on former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, with attorney Christine Jones continuing her fade into third place with 16 percent. A couple of weeks ago, Ducey was up just 23-21 on Smith, while Jones was at 13, but earlier polling had shown her neck-and-neck with Ducey. Negative ads have been flying fast and furious in all directions, but if Magellan is to be believed, Jones has been victim no. 1.
Incidentally, if you're wondering why a group like the AADA is conducting election polling, they haven't actually endorsed in the race, but one of their top members, Jim Click, is a huge Ducey supporter and has given $100,000 to a group running an independent expenditure campaign on Ducey's behalf.
• ME-Gov: True to form, Sen. Angus King endorsed fellow independent Eliot Cutler for governor on Monday morning, in an effort to make it harder for Democrats to defeat maniac GOP Gov. Paul LePage. King also backed Cutler in 2010, when he narrowly came in second to LePage, but this time, polls have show Cutler a distant third—and eating into Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud's base of support. Cutler has no path to victory and can only play the spoiler, and getting a seal of approval from King (who, after all, caucuses with Democrats in the Senate), only makes him more likely to spoil things. Thanks a lot, Angus.
• NM-Gov, Sen: Research & Polling, working on behalf of the Albuquerque Journal, takes their first look at the general election in their home state of New Mexico. In the gubernatorial race, they give Republican Gov. Susana Martinez a 50-41 lead over Democratic Attorney General Gary King, but there haven't been many polls here, so it's hard to get a read on how accurate these numbers might be.
However, an early June King internal from Lake Research put him at a 45-39 deficit, so it's probably a safe assumption that he's trailing. Martinez and her allies have been spending heavily here to define King before he can afford to properly hit back, while Democratic groups haven't done much here yet.
R&P also took a look at the U.S. Senate race, but unsurprisingly, there isn't much to see here. Freshman Democratic Sen. Tom Udall leads former state GOP party chair Allen Weh (who lost to Martinez in the 2010 gubernatorial primary) by a 53-35 margin. Udall has run a few positive ads here but he has been almost universally viewed as safe, and these numbers only confirms that perception.
There are a few big caveats regarding this poll, however. The survey only samples voters who turned out in 2010 and said they would likely vote again, which reflects a worst-case scenario for Democrats. The poll also weighs by "known distribution of age, gender, and party affiliation, based on the 2010 election." This is problematic for the same reasons. While it's very likely 2014 turnout will look more like 2010 than 2012, it's still a lot to assume this year will be a repeat of the last midterm. Longtime observers also know that weighting by party is a risky proposition, since political affiliation is much more fluid than gender or age.
The Journal has worked with Research & Polling for quite some time, so we have a number of older polls we can analyze. Here are their late numbers from 2010:
• NM-Gov: R&P: Martinez (R) 52-42; actual: Martinez (R) 53-47; error +4 RAnd 2012:
• NM-01: R&P: Barela (R) 49-46; actual: Heinrich (D) 52-48; error +7 R
• NM-02: R&P: Pearce (R) 48-45; actual: Pearce (R); 55-45; error +7 D
• NM-Pres: R&P: Obama (D) 51-45; actual: Obama (D) 53-43; +4 ROverall, this is a pretty decent track record. R&P had some larger misses of 7 and 8 points in a few of the House races, but they were generally fairly on-target in the statewide contests. However, they have been more prone to lean toward the GOP rather than the Democrats, and even in 2010, they found Martinez leading by more than her eventual margin of victory. So, particularly since R&P is still relying on a 2010 model, they may well be overstating where Martinez stands today. (Jeff Singer)
• NM-Sen: R&P: Heinrich (D) 50-42; actual: Heinrich (D) 51-45; error +2 D
• NM-01: R&P: Grisham (D) 51-36; actual: Grisham (D) 59-41; error +3 R
• NM-02: R&P: Pearce (R) 56-38; actual: Pearce (R) 59-41; error: 0
• NM-03: R&P: Lujan (D) 53-35; actual Lujan (D) 63-37; error +8 R
• CA-17: Former Obama Administration official Ro Khanna has just picked up the endorsement of San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed in his general election fight against Rep. Mike Honda, a fellow Democrat. San Jose is mainly located in the nearby 19th District (represented by longtime Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren), but a good chunk is in this district.
Khanna's strategy in a general election with Honda has always relied on carrying the district's small Republican base overwhelmingly and doing well among independents while winning a good portion of Democrats, and Reed may be able to help him there. Reed considers himself a Democrat and has easily won twice in an overwhelmingly blue city, but he is quite conservative. Reed spearheaded a successful ballot measure in 2012 to change the city's pension policies, infuriating labor. Reed has also endorsed Republican Ashley Swearengin in the state controller's race over Democrat Betty Yee. It's hard to call this a game changer, but Reed is probably the type of surrogate Khanna wants. (Jeff Singer)
• WI-06: Local election boards are still recanvassing their vote totals from last week's tight Republican primary between state Sens. Glen Grothman and Joe Leibham, and they won't provide final tallies to the state until Friday. At that point, Leibham says, he'll decide whether to seek a recount. Leibham currently trails by 215 votes out of more than 46,000 cast.
• Special Elections: Some mid-August special election action in Virginia, brought to you by (who else?) Johnny Longtorso:
Virginia SD-38: This is the southwestern Virginia seat vacated by Democrat Phil Puckett in his aborted attempt to receive a sinecure while giving the Republicans an opportunity at winning his district. The candidates here are Democrat Mike Hymes, a member of the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors; Republican Ben Chafin, a freshman in the House of Delegates; and independent Rick Mullins, a funeral director.(David Nir & Johnny Longtorso)
The district's numbers are brutal for Democrats: It gave Mitt Romney 67 percent of the vote in 2012 and Ken Cuccinelli 64 percent in 2013. However, Democrats believe that there is still hope here, and Republicans aren't taking the race for granted, as the candidates combined have spent over $1 million. Mullins is running to Hymes' left on Medicaid expansion, but has raised next to nothing, so he's unlikely to make a major impact.
Virginia HD-48: This is an open Democratic seat consisting of parts of Arlington and McLean-area Fairfax County. The candidates here are Democrat Rip Sullivan, an attorney, and David Foster, a former member of the Arlington County Board of Education. Sullivan ran in the neighboring HD-34 in 2007, when it included all of McLean, and lost the primary 52-48. This is a Democratic district, having gone 62-37 Obama in 2012 and 65-28 McAuliffe in 2013, but Republicans believe Foster has a shot here. If he were to win, he'd be the first Republican to win an election in Arlington since a special election to the county board in 1999 (which the Republican then lost in the general election).
Virginia HD-90: This is an open Democratic seat consisting of parts of Norfolk and Virginia Beach. The candidates are Democrat Joe Lindsey, an attorney, and Republican Marcus Calabrese, a public relations consultant who ran for the Norfolk City Council in 2012 and came in last with 4 percent of the vote. This is a majority-black district that went 79-20 for Obama in 2012 and 76-20 McAuliffe in 2013.
• OR Ballot: Organizers behind Oregon's ballot measure to legalize marijuana aren't going to make the same mistakes their predecessors did last cycle. In 2012, a similar measure failed by a narrow 53-47 margin, even though almost no money was behind the effort. This time, weed legalization advocates say they're planning to spend at least $2.3 million promoting their campaign, and they say they're going to launch an ad this week featuring Richard Harris, a retired head of the state's addictions and mental health division. The video is a weird 54 seconds long, though, and isn't crisply edited (Harris actually says "um" when introducing himself), so hopefully they have something more professional in the works.
• Deaths: Former Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords passed away Monday at the age of 80. Jeffords represented Vermont in the Senate from 1988 to 2006, in addition to serving in the House from 1974 to 1988. Jeffords, a moderate Republican for most of his time in the Senate, is best known for his becoming a Democratic-caucusing independent in 2001 against the backdrop of a 50-50 Senate that briefly returned the Senate to Democratic control; the Washington Post's Paul Kane details the backstory behind the momentous switch.
A look of Jeffords' DW-Nominate scores over the years shows that even when he first entered the Senate, he was by far the least conservative member of the Republican caucus. In his first term in the 101st Congress, he had a -.133 score (a negative number implies a left-of-center voting record), not only the least conservative but also to the left of two Democrats (Richard Shelby and Howell Heflin). He was still the least conservative Republican when he made the switch during the 107th Congress and continued to move left, finishing his term with a -.340 score, putting him near the middle of the Dem caucus. (David Jarman)
• Demographics: You may have already seen the demographic factoid that, starting with the 2014 school year, the majority of public school students throughout the country will be minorities. There's an interesting wrinkle to that, though, thanks to the segregated nature of where people live (not necessarily because of overt discrimination, but because of economic segregation caused by housing costs, as well as the social tendency for immigrant communities to cluster together anyway).
Despite the growing minority population overall, a majority of schools will have still white majorities, with minorities disproportionately concentrated in a minority of school districts. If you're looking for more overtly political implications to that factoid, it's that it's the same problem as the structural disadvantage that Democrats face in Congress and the state legislatures: even before taking the effects of gerrymandering into account, too many of their supporters are concentrated in too few districts. (David Jarman)
• Fundraising: As the party committees finally prepare to spend down their huge bank accounts on fall campaign advertising, the DCCC has—for the infinityeth time—swamped the NRCC. In July, House Democrats raised $11.5 million, with $7 million of that online. The Internet portion of the DCCC's haul nearly beat the NRCC's entire take of $8 million. Democrats also have far more cash available, $56.7 million to $47.5 million.
The NRSC, meanwhile, raised $5 million last month and has $27 million cash-on-hand. The DSCC hasn't reported its totals yet.
Ads & Independent Expenditures (Jeff Singer):
• AK-Sen: With the Aug. 19 primary here, Put Alaska First spends $232,000 hitting all three Republican contenders. On the other side of the aisle, Crossroads GPS reserves $1.25 million in TV time for the next few weeks.
• IA-Sen: Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley has not had an easy campaign, but hopefully this very effective ad is a sign he's turned the corner. A veteran of the Iowa National Guard describes how his unit had its deployment in Iraq extended, but the soldiers were not paid. He praises Braley for helping fix the problem.
Some of Braley's past spots have been weak: After the primary he launched a very bland attack on Republican Joni Ernst that made it very easy for Ernst and her allies to call Braley sexist. Braley has since gotten a new media consultant. Hopefully, this new spot is a sign Braley's team has gotten things under control. Now if they can find a way to properly go after Ernst's insane views, they'll be golden.
Speaking of Ernst's insane views, the DSCC starts to bring them up in their new commercial. They spend a lot of time tying Ernst to Sarah Palin, who was a big Ernst supporter in the primary. The narrator then describes some of Ernst's proposed ideas. It's a decent spot, but you have to wonder if swing voters really care that much about Sarah Palin almost six years after her vice presidential bid ended. The narrator also quickly cycles through some of Ernst's plans (eliminate the national minimum wage, cut taxes for millionaires, and privatizing social security), so it's hard for them to really sink in.
• NC-Sen: Democrats have been heavily attacking Republican Thom Tillis on education, and Tillis' allies have finally responded. A group called Carolina Rising praises Tillis for helping increase teacher pay. The spot, which is running for $1.5 million, also praises Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who is not up for re-election until 2016.
Tillis for his part is out with his first spot, touting how hard he's worked, stating the Senate could use more people who "had to sweat for a living". The DSCC for their part spends $483,000 against Tillis.
• NM-Gov: Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and Democratic rival Gary King each have a new spot. The narrator in Martinez's spot goes after King on taxes, while touting Martinez as someone who balanced the budget without raising taxes. King emphasizes education and promises to undo Martinez's cuts.
• GA-12: Both party committees are going up here. The NRCC spends $190,000 against Democratic Rep. John Barrow, likely in support of this ad. The DCCC spends $101,000 hitting Republican Rick Allen in return.
• WV-02: Democrat Nick Casey is up with his first spot. It's another one of those "Look how cheap this guy is, he's fiscally responsible!" ads, but it's still pretty cute. It features Casey's family's exasperation with how Casey won't buy a new car and even resoled his shoes four times.