• Poll Explorer: Daily Kos Elections, in connection with Drew Linzer (whose Votamatic site correctly predicted every state's outcome in the 2012 presidential election), is proud to introduce a new poll-aggregating elections model that we call the Poll Explorer. As of Monday, the day we launched the Poll Explorer, the model's expectation is that Democrats have a 47 percent chance of keeping the Senate, with a median result that the party will emerge with 49 seats, a six-seat loss that would hand the chamber to the Republicans. The chart below, known as a histogram, shows the expected distribution of the number of Senate seats based on the most current data:
• GA-Sen, -Gov: After a string of tough polls, Georgia Democrats were treated to some better numbers late on Friday. A new survey from Republican pollsters Landmark Communications and Rosetta Stone Communications, taken on behalf of WSB-TV in Atlanta, found Democrat Michelle Nunn leading Republican David Perdue 47-40 in the Senate contest and Democrat Jason Carter beating GOP Gov. Nathan Deal 44-40. In the firms' previous poll from late July, just after the Republican Senate runoff concluded, Nunn led 47-43, and Carter was up 47-40. It's a bit strange that Nunn apparently picked up 3 points at the same time Carter lost the same amount, but that could just be noise.
That's not the most notable thing about this data, though. Since Perdue won the GOP nomination on July 22, six pollsters have released numbers for the Senate race, including Landmark. Landmark, however, is the only outfit to show Nunn ahead. Polls from a variety of other firms have all found Perdue up anywhere from 6 to 9 points. Almost all of these companies surveyed the gubernatorial race as well, and have usually found Carter performing a bit better than Nunn. However, he, too, has generally been trailing or neck-and-neck with Deal; only Landmark has found him leading by more than a hair.
So Landmark is clearly the odd pollster out on the Senate race and also shows the best numbers for Carter in the gubernatorial contest. The good news for Democrats is that none pollsters who've been in the field here represents any sort of gold standard. Rasmussen has been awful for years; InsiderAdvantage was terrible in 2008 and has produced very few pre-election polls since then; and Vox Populi has only released one pre-election poll in its entire existence, a primary poll for the Eric Cantor race that it blew chunks. HEG does not appear to have any track record at all: We have no polls from them in our 2010 or 2012 pollster databases.
Of this batch, SurveyUSA (the most pessimistic pollster for Democrats this time around) is the only one that does have a decent track record. However, they have demonstrated some erratic behavior in the past, often releasing weird results and unexplained swings in the middle of the cycle, before coming down to earth at the end. Georgia Democrats can take some comfort in knowing that the polls showing them down aren't exactly of the highest quality (and in some cases are awful).
The bad news is that Landmark doesn't have much of a recent track record either. Nate Silver didn't include them in his 2008 pollster ratings, meaning they did not publish any polls within three weeks of the 2008 election (and nor did frequent partner Rosetta Stone). We also can find no late polls from either firm in 2012. Landmark did, however, conduct a few surveys in Georgia in the last week of the 2010 race:
However, we don't have much to go on beyond this 2010 data set. Earlier this year, they polled shortly before the Republican Senate primary runoff, where they gave Rep. Jack Kingston a 48-41 lead over Perdue; Perdue ended up winning 51-49, a miss of nine points. Other firms also found Kingston up a week before the runoff, but by a smaller amount. Republican runoffs are different animals than general elections, but it is worth noting Landmark missed here.
Ultimately, this newest Landmark poll leaves us with more questions than answers. Just as Democrats shouldn't have despaired when they were on the wrong end of the last few polls, they shouldn't celebrate right now. As frustrating as it is, the best thing we can probably do right now is wait for more numbers to see if anyone backs up Landmark or if they continue to be the only ones to show Nunn up. To paraphrase the West Wing's Leo McGarry, with Landmark showing Nunn up 7 and SurveyUSA showing Perdue up 9, we can at least be confident of one thing: A few months from now, at least one of them is going to look pretty stupid. (Jeff Singer)
• HI-Sen: You thought the never-ending Hawaii primary was over? Maybe not. The Hawaii ACLU has filed a new lawsuit asking that residents who were unable to vote in the Aug. 9 primary because of Tropical Storm Iselle be allowed to still cast ballots at this late date. However, similar legal efforts in the wake of the far more severe Hurricane Sandy did not succeed, so it's hard to see this one panning out.
• KS-Sen: Lately there's been talk that Democrats might try to push Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor out of the Kansas Senate race in favor of wealthy independent Greg Orman, who's a much stronger fundraising and recently polled better against badly damaged Republican Sen. Pat Roberts. But it doesn't seem like Taylor's inclined to go anywhere, since he just released his first ad, a positive introductory spot. Don't expect many people to see it, though: As of July 16, Taylor had just $1,673 in his campaign account.
• MN-Sen, -Gov: A new SurveyUSA poll for KSTP-TV in Minneapolis finds both Sen. Al Franken and Gov. Mark Dayton with 9-point leads on their Republican opponents. Franken leads businessman Mike McFadden 51-42, up a bit from Franken's 48-42 edge in June. Meanwhile, Dayton had a 49-40 advantage over Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, who doesn't seem to have gotten any kind of bounce following his recent primary victory. In fact, it's Dayton who's moved up slightly, from 46-40 last time.
Usually, we would expect Minnesota's Independence Party to pull in an outsize share of the vote given its third-party status. Indeed, when Dayton was first elected governor in 2010, IP nominee Tom Horner took 12 percent and two years earlier, when Franken defeated Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, Dean Barkley cleared 15 percent. This time the IP candidates are barely registering in either of Minnesota's marquee races, taking just 2-3 percent. Democrats are probably glad to see the IP fade-out this year, since conventional wisdom holds that the IP is better at peeling away left-leaning voters that conservative ones.
Community member Dbug offers some helpful elaboration on what's going on with the IP: They've disowned their own Senate nominee! Apparently, the dude is a Todd Akin-defending, anti-Obamacare nutter who thinks George Zimmerman "provided a valuable service" by murdering Trayvon Martin. So, yeah.
• CT-Gov: This would be a lucky break for Gov. Dan Malloy: Former state Rep. Jonathan Pelto, a Democrat who had been planning to run an independent campaign criticizing Malloy for his hostility toward unions, says he likely will fail to qualify for the ballot due to a lack of signatures. Malloy is locked in a very tight race with Republican Tom Foley (we currently rate it a Tossup), so he can ill afford to lose any votes on his left flank.
• MA-Gov: At long last, is the Democratic primary for governor in Massachusetts finally tightening? State Attorney General Martha Coakley has been the frontrunner since day one, thanks to a wide name recognition gulf between her and state Treasurer Steve Grossman. But television advertising only began late, given how expensive airtime is in the Bay State, and it looks like Grossman may be making up the gap. A new poll from Suffolk University finds Coakley up just 42-30, with former Medicare chief Don Berwick at 16. Suffolk's last poll, taken in early June, had Coakley ahead by a much wider 44-12, while Berwick took just 4.
And it's not just Suffolk that sees the race getting closer. SocialSphere, which has been polling weekly at the behest of the Boston Globe, last had Coakley leading 45-24; in early June, she was on top 49-14. The overall polling trendlines show a definite convergence between Coakley and Grossman, but the Sept. 9 primary is now just two weeks away. Enough time for Grossman to pull off the upset? It's certainly possible, but we'll know soon enough.
• MD-Gov: We're now up to our third "Likely D race that a Republican pollster wants to convince people is more competitive" race in the last week or so, and the second that features data from OnMessage. This time, they've polled the Maryland governor's race on behalf of the state Republican Party, finding Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown up just 45-42 on businessman Larry Hogan. Previous efforts came from OnMessage and Moore Information in Oregon, and National Research in New Hampshire, but like those attempts, this latest poll is out of sync with others that show Brown with the race well in hand.
Now, it's not unreasonable to imagine a Republican scoring in the low 40s in Maryland, since that's probably the GOP's floor in the state. Ex-Gov. Bob Ehrlich took 42 percent in his ill-fated 2010 comeback attempt, and no Republican has fared worse than 40 since 1986, when William Schaefer won in an epic landslide. But can Hogan do much better? It seems doubtful. Maryland is a solidly blue state these days, and Republicans have far more enticing opportunities elsewhere.
Brown is taking no chances, though, and has already gone negative on Hogan on economic issues like the minimum wage and college tuition. Brown has a huge fundraising advantage, and there's no reason not to put it to full use cutting off Hogan's oxygen before he can take his first deep breath.
• LA-05: Freshman Republican Rep. Vance McAllister is not out of the danger zone, but with candidate filing closed, it's looking like things may be breaking his way after all. A few months ago, McAllister's brief career in the House was kaput, after the married congressman was caught on tape making out with a (now former) staffer. Under pressure from fellow Republicans, especially then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor, McAllister announced he would not run for re-election. However, a few months later, McAllister changed his mind and decided to seek another term after all, and now he's definitely in position to win.
Under Louisiana's funky election laws, all candidates run on the same ballot. In the (very likely) event that no one gets 50 percent in the November general election, the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, will advance to a December runoff. Including McAllister, seven Republicans are running; Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo is the only Democrat on the ballot. McAllister's best-case scenario is if he faces Mayo in the second round, rather than a fellow Republican. Romney won this north Louisiana seat 61-38, and Mayo is a pretty weak candidate, though even the strongest of Democrats would have little hope here.
But while Mayo is no great shakes, as the only Democrat on the ballot, he should be able consolidate the Democratic vote. With seven Republicans splitting up the larger pool of GOP voters, that put Mayo in a good position to take at least enough support to get second place in November. Assuming this happens, the trick for McAllister will be to win enough Republicans to join Mayo.
The good news for McAllister is that with six Republican foes, the anti-McAllister vote is likely to be very split, and all McAllister needs is to take a plurality to advance. Many of McAllister's foes all look strong enough to take some of the vote, but not strong enough to consolidate enough of it to pass McAllister, who still starts with a name recognition advantage in spite of (or perhaps because of his) his scandaliciousness.
But just who exactly are these other Republicans? There's Ralph Abraham, a physician who has been able to raise a decent amount; Zach Dasher, a relative of the locally prominent Robertson family of Duck Dynasty fame; Jeff Guerriero, who narrowly lost a race for state Senate in 2011; Public Service Commissioner Clyde Holloway, a former congressman who has made four previous attempts to return to the House; and Ed Tarpley, a former district attorney in Grant Parish in the 1990s.
Dasher's famous family and reasonably good fundraising makes him a bit of a wildcard, and if anyone can edge McAllister out, it's probably him. Still, with so many other opponents, McAllister looks like a good bet to skate into the runoff. While McAllister's imbroglio almost certainly cost him a good deal of votes it doesn't appear to have left him so radioactive that all his supporters have abandoned him. (And just take a look at Scott DesJarlais' return from the dead after a much worse series of personal scandals in Tennessee.) This is a very unpredictable race, but it looks like McAllister may have lucked his way back to Congress. (Jeff Singer)
• TN-04: With the vote finally certified in Tennessee's Aug. 7 primary, state Sen. Jim Tracy has now conceded to Rep. Scott DesJarlais, who prevailed by a miniscule 38-vote margin. For most of the cycle, it looked like Tracy was the overwhelming favorite to terminate DesJarlais' political career, but somehow DesJarlais managed to secure just enough forgiveness from Republican primary voters to carry himself to another full term. DesJarlais faces Democrat Lenda Sherrell in November, but in this overwhelmingly red district, he's a lock to win despite the serious stains on his record.
• Primaries: On Tuesday we have our penultimate primary night of the cycle, with races in Arizona, Florida and Oklahoma. You can check out our primary preview here: There will be a lot to watch, including the finale to a very long and nasty Republican gubernatorial primary in Arizona. (Jeff Singer)
• Secretaries of State: This year, both parties will spend millions to try and win secretary of state posts in critical swing states. Secretaries of State often have a good deal of influence over the voter roles, early vote times and locations, and the enforcement of laws such as voter ID. As we've seen in states like Ohio in the past, a secretary of state can make it easier or harder for people to vote, and can play a major role in determining what party has an advantage going into election day. In 2014, both parties will be pulling out all the stops to make sure that the other side doesn't have this powerful job for the next four years. In a new post, we analyze the key secretary of state battles this year. (Jeff Singer)
• Demographics: If you remember the newest version of the Pew typologies that came out in June, you might have noticed that they eliminated their "Libertarian" category altogether, subsuming it primarily into the new "Young Outsiders" category. Well, Pew has released some new data on the "libertarian" label, which may explain why they decided to yank the term. Only 11 percent of respondents not only identified as libertarian but could correctly identify what the term means.
Not only that, but many self-described libertarians weren't consistent, often supporting a number of non-libertarian agenda items (like greater regulation of businesses, stricter environmental laws, and greater involvement in foreign affairs. The most consistent concepts holding libertarians together are all ones that most people here at Daily Kos would agree with: less government invasion of privacy (82 percent of all libertarians agree), acceptance of homosexuality (67 percent), and legalization of marijuana (65 percent). In fact, they're issues that a majority of all respondents agree with (74, 62, and 54 percent, respectively). (David Jarman)
• Louisiana: Filing closed in the Pelican State on Friday. Louisiana had the last candidate-filing deadline in the nation so barring any major surprises, the 2014 field is set nationwide. The state has a list of candidates here. Note that in Louisiana all candidates will run on one ballot in November: In races where no one takes more than 50 percent, the top-two candidates regardless of party will advance to a December 6 runoff.
The marquee race in the state will be the contest for U.S. Senate. Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu will face eight opponents as she seeks to hold her seat. Her main foe is Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy; Tea partying veteran Rob Maness is also in the mix but is a serious longshot to advance to a runoff, much less win. A surprise is certainly possible, but the Landrieu-Cassidy race is expected to continue until December. Daily Kos Elections rates this as a Tossup.
There's a crowded race to succeed Cassidy in his very red Baton Rouge-area Sixth District. On the Republican side nine candidates are running. The main candidates look like state Sen. Dan Claitor; businessman Paul Dietzel; former Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Chairman Garret Graves; and state Rep. Lenar Whitney. On the Democratic side three candidates are running, but the best known is easily legendary former Gov. and ex-con Edwin Edwards. The most likely outcome is probably that a Republican and Edwards advance to December, but this packed race is unpredictable. Romney won 66-32 here and while Edwards is far better known than just about anyone else the Democrats could run, he'll have a tough time here. We rate this as Safe Republican.
The state's other five House members (four Republicans and one Democrat) are all running again. In the 5th District, Republican Rep. Vance McAllister will face a very packed field of opponents (see our LA-05 bullet above). However, the rest of the delegation should have little trouble returning to Washington. (Jeff Singer)
• Maps: Here's another very cool map from the New York Times' Upshot, once again delving into the topic of state-to-state migration. This map shows what percentage of each state's population is native-born, compared to the portion that came from each region of the country, as well as those born outside the U.S. The state with the smallest locally born population, you won't be surprised to learn, is Nevada, where just a quarter of the citizenry was born and raised. Florida is second at 36 percent. On the other end of the spectrum, full 79 percent of Louisianans were born there, followed by Ohio, with 75 percent native-born. You can also dial the map back to see what things looked like in 1900 and 1950.
• Radio: Joe Sudbay once again had me on as a guest on the Michelangelo Signorile Show last week to talk about this year's Senate races, and we had a great time as always. You can listen to the segment here.
Ads & Independent Expenditures (Jeff Singer):
Cotton's new spot shows clips of Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor saying nice things about Obamacare. The ad doesn't even try to scare the viewer with the program's supposed doomsday effects (You know, "Obamacare will cost you your healthcare, raise the retirement age, and ensure that Jar-Jar Binks is the star of every new Star Wars movie). The ad just assumes the viewer hates Obamacare enough already to hate Pryor for supporting it. The Cotton campaign may be correct that just saying "Pryor" and "Obamacare" in the same sentence is enough, but it's still interesting that this type of spot is airing at a time other Republicans are emphasizing the law a lot less.
• NC-Sen: Crossroads GPS portrays Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan of wasteful spending, and accuses her of supporting a radical plan to "raise the retirement age, reduces the home mortgage deduction and increases out-of-pocket medicare costs." As The News Observer points out, this insane plan is Bowles-Simpson, which Republicans love (except when they don't). The size of the buy is $1.12 million.
• NH-Sen: Lawrence Lessig's Mayday PAC continues to throw good money after bad (or maybe bad money after more bad money), spending another $461,000 on former state Sen. Jim Rubens. Rubens is very much a longshot in the Sept. 9 GOP primary against Scott Brown.
• VA-Sen: Democratic Sen. Mark Warner may be heavily favored against Republican Ed Gillespie, but his allies aren't taking any chances. The pro-Warner "Virginia Progress" sets to work portraying Gillespie as a shady creature of Washington.
• CT-Gov: Connecticut Forward, a DGA affiliated group, is spending a hefty $1.25 million against Tom Foley and they aren't messing around in their spot. The ad uses footage of Foley's infamous late July press conference, where his attempts to blame Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy for the closure of a paper goods plants. Foley ended up telling workers that the plant's shuttering was their fault, declaring (probably to his everlasting regret), "Listen, you have failed, because you have lost these jobs."
The spot uses the incident as a way to portray Foley as a guy who gets rich off his own business failures, while ordinary people pay the price. This is a tactic Barack Obama used extensively against Mitt Romney, and Georgia Democrat Michelle Nunn is currently using against Republican David Perdue in this year's Senate race. However, their opponents didn't supply them such a devastating sound bite.
Malloy himself is already using the "You have failed" clip in his own spots, and Connecticut voters should expect to see even more on their TV sets between now and November. However, Team Red won't be ceding the airwaves here: The RGA has invested another $250,000 into their allied "Grow Connecticut" group, bringing their total investment here so far to $500,000.
• FL-Gov: NextGen Climate once again goes after Republican Rick Scott and portrays him as an ally of sketchy energy interests. Democrat Charlie Crist also is up with a new spot, hitting Scott on education cuts.
• IL-Gov: With nostalgic for the 1990s higher than ever, Republican Bruce Rauner evidently decided to indulge voters by plucking out an issue that was huge two decades ago: term limits. Rauner states that the people of Illinois overwhelmingly want term-limits, but Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and his legislative allies won't allow them. It's a bit of an odd tactic: I'm sure if you asked pretty much any group of voters they'd say they want term-limits, but nowadays it's hard to see many people basing their vote on it.
• KS-Gov: The RGA does what I never thought they'd do: run an entire ad attacking Democrat Paul Davis without mentioning Obama once! Granted, portraying Davis as a tax-loving liberal is pretty predictable, but still, wow!
• MA-Gov: Democrat Martha Coakley highlights her career as attorney general. The narrator declares at the end "The political insiders, the big money Super PACs, the old boys club, they're all against her," which is kind of an interesting (and almost certainly unintentional) echo of the ads Allyson Schwartz ran in her unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania governor. Schwartz's long career in politics probably helped make this an unconvincing line, but we'll see if Coakley can make it work better.
• ME-Gov: Two major groups are on the air here. For Team Blue, the League of Conservation Voters' Maine branch spends $400,000 contrasting Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud and Republican Gov. Paul LePage's position on water safety.
On the Republican side, the RGA praises LePage on the state economy. The spot is the second RGA ad to try and portray LePage as blunt and honest, depicting him as a real person rather than a politician. I know this won't happen, but I kind of wish the RGA ran a spot just declaring, "Paul LePage: He's a complete asshole, but he's our complete asshole."
• NM-Gov: Republican Gov. Susana Martinez continues to hit Democrat Gary King, portraying his as someone who wants more taxes and plans cut vital education programs. The second half is all positive, with Martinez stressing bipartisanship.
Usually these ads are pretty formulaic: They briefly accuse their opponent of being a negative lying liar, before going extra-negative on said opponent. This one is a bit different: Raimondo briefly addresses Taveras' charge that she did pension reform to help Wall Street, before describing how her father lost his job. Raimondo then says she saved pensions and helped keep cities out of bankruptcy. She only mentions Taveras once at the beginning.
• TX-Gov: Democrat Wendy Davis once again has a very hard-hitting ad against Republican Greg Abbott. This one features a cancer survivor accusing Abbott of allowing his wealthy friends taking money away from cancer research. Davis' last spot went after Abbott for voting against a rape survivor's lawsuit during his time on the state supreme court.
• IL-10: Crossroads GPS hits Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider, blaming his for Obamacare's supposed Medicare cuts. It's a little weird Crossroads is savaging Obamacare in this blue district: Obama won 58-41 here in 2012. This kind of spot wouldn't be out of place in a red state or district where people are already inclined to district anything with Obama's name on it (see the AR-Sen, item above for an example) but we'll see if Karl Rove and friends can sell this in much more Obama-friendly turf.
• NY-21: Republican Elise Stefanik is out with her first general election ad, with her doing farm work as she says boring bipartisan-sounding things. At the end Stefanik declares she'll work with anyone, with the cow she's milking suddenly mooing; Stefanik then declares "Well, almost anyone." I'm not sure what she's going for at all: Maybe sapelcovits is right, and she means she won't work with future Michigan Republican Rep. John Moolenaar.