Primary night brought a boatload of surprises, and sets the stage for next week's "Super Tuesday" electoral madness, with contests in close to a dozen states.
Enjoy this breakfast edition of the Polling and Political Wrap...
THE U.S. SENATE
AL-Sen: Yes, there were Senate primaries in Alabama, too...
Lost in all of the high-profile races was a pair of primaries to determine the party nominees for the U.S. Senate in November in the state of Alabama. Both went according to form. On the Republican side, longtime incumbent Richard Shelby and his eight-figure (yes...eight-figure) warchest easily avoided a teabagging, beating Clint Moser 84-16. On the Democratic side, attorney William Barnes easily beat back the challenge of Simone de Moore (61-39).
CA-Sen: Campbell goes dark in final week of campaign
Time will tell if this strategy was the white flag of surrender, or a savvy use of resources. The air war in California for the U.S. Senate has been conceded, as Tom Campbell has gone off the air in the campaign's final week. Campbell had already been headed that direction, having seriously curtailed his ad buys over a week ago. Campbell has fallen into a rather distant second place behind Carly Fiorina (who is a continuous presence on the air, like her businessperson-turned-politico pal, Meg Whitman).
FL-Sen: Interesting donations from self-funding Senate "Democrat"
Nice catch by DavidNYC over at SSP, it seems that wealthy Democratic newcomer Jeff Greene has been politically active as of late, just not in any way that would be lauded by Democrats. One of the recipients of his largesse just last year? None other than California Republican Meg Whitman. That also shows a lack of fiscal responsiblity. I mean, for God's sake, Greene...if you are throwing down campaign cash, what is your five grand going to add to the nearly $70 million she is gonna drop out of her own checkbook?
PA-Sen: Dem poll gives Sestak sizeable lead to hold Keystone seat
What once looked like a possible Republican flip in the U.S. Senate is at least a toss-up now, and quite possibly a Democratic hold. Yet another poll, this one from Dem pollsters Garin-Hart-Yang, confirms that Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak has moved into the lead over Republican Patrick Toomey in the battle to replace Senator Arlen Specter. Sestak leads, according to G-H-Y poll, by seven points (47-40).
THE U.S. HOUSE
AL-02: Roby cannot avoid runoff, must return in three weeks
Democrat Bobby Bright will have to wait three more weeks to learn the identity of his GOP opponent for November. In all likelihood, it will be Montgomery city council member Martha Roby, but she failed to make it to 50%, and thus must return on June 22nd to battle tea party devotee Rick Barber. Roby led the first round of balloting with 49%, to 29% for Barber.
AL-05: Parker Griffith's career as a GOP Congressman cut short
A number of political junkies (myself included) thought this could happen, but most probably did not think it would happen before a runoff. That said, the Congressional career of Parker Griffith is over. He received just 33% in the primary of his newly-selected party, losing to Mo Brooks, who cleared the runoff bar by snagging 51% of the vote. Brooks will take on well-funded Democrat Steve Raby, who has one of the more impressive performances of the night by easily avoiding a runoff by taking 62% of the vote.
MS-01: Nunnelee earns November slot, avoids the runoff
Aside from Susana Martinez's easy win in New Mexico, this is liable to be the only result last night that national Republicans are smiling over. Their establishment pick, state senator Alan Nunnelee, managed to avoid a near-teabagging, barely clearing the bar to avoid a runoff with just 52% of the vote. Local mayor and tea party advocate Henry Ross ran second with 33% of the vote, while much hyped Fox News contributor (and the recipient of a somewhat bizarre and truly botched endorsement from none other than Sarah Palin) Angela McGlowan ran a distant third (15%).
NY-03: Dems might be coalescing around a challenger to King
It looks like Democrats have found a challenger to bombastic Republican Congressman Peter King on Long Island's 3rd Congressional District. The candidate in question is educator Howard Kudler, who lost a 2008 bid for the state assembly by twenty-four points.
THE GUBERNATORIAL RACES
AL-Gov: Davis thumped, while GOP side might result in recount
More than twelve hours after the polls closed, it is apparent that there will be a GOP runoff in Alabama's hotly contested Governor's race. However, the identity of the combatants remains to be seen. That is because, right along the Alabama-Georgia border, heavily Republican Cleburne County (only 18% for Obama in 2008!) has yet to report its 17 precincts. Even without them, it looks like a recount between state legislator Robert Bentley and "We Speak English" Tim James is inevitable. Bradley Byrne has made the runoff with 28% of the votes, while just 140 votes (out of over 490,000 cast) separate Bentley and James. Roy Moore finished a distant and disappointing fourth. On the Democratic side, it was a surprise landslide. Most polls showed Artur Davis leading, but it is hard to win a primary betting against your own party, and Davis learned that lesson decisively on Tuesday night. State Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks wins the Democratic primary with a shocking 62-38 margin.
AZ-Gov: GOP field in Arizona shrinks with Munger exit
The right-wing resurgence of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer claimed a casualty on Tuesday, as former state Chairman John Munger withdrew from the campaign. He placed the blame on the state's public campaign finance system, which he said doomed his chances of being financially competitive (he was running without public finance support). Munger had a boomlet early in the campaign, but seemed to be one of the bigger casualties of Brewer's resurgence.
IA-Gov: PPP poll shows some degree of peril for Branstad next week
This is one of those polling results that requires a double-take. The popular assumption out of the Hawkeye State is that former longtime Governor Terry Branstad would face little challenge in his own primary, and maybe not that much in the general, either. Not so fast. Branstad is under 50% in his primary bid against conservative insurgent candidate Bob Vander Platts (46-31). What's worse for the establishment pick--he actually trails Vander Platts among those who know both candidates. It would seem that Branstad has one week to hold onto this nomination, but this poll ensures that next week's primary just flew onto everyone's radar screens, if it wasn't there already.
MI-Gov: Bernero, Snyder lead for gubernatorial nods
New data out on Tuesday from PPP shows that there might be a pair of new faces atop the leaderboard in the state of Michigan's open-seat battle for Governor. After months of polling showing state House speaker Andy Dillon leading on the Dem side (with tons of undecided voters), that result is reversed in the PPP poll. Now, it is Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero narrowly out in front, with the same throng of undeclared voters still present (26-23). Meanwhile, over on the GOP side, it is as tight as they come, with four candidates separated by just a total of five points. Businessman Rick Snyder leads the field at 20%, followed by right-wing Congressman Pete Hoekstra at 19%. State Attorney General Mike Cox (17%) and Oakland County Sheriff Mike
Cox Bouchard (15%) are just behind. General election numbers are due later today.
NM-Gov: Martinez wins landslide in GOP primary--will face Denish
One of the few sources of joy for national Republicans on this election night emanated from the Land of Enchantment, where they got their preferred candidate, and in landslide fashion. Dona Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez easily won the Republican Primary for Governor, beating former state chair Allen Weh by over twenty points (51-28). While Martinez cleaned house in her own backyard (nearly hitting 70% in her home county, one of the most populous in the state), she also had a broad victory, winning all but two counties. She will face Democratic Lt. Governor Diane Denish, who was unopposed Tuesday evening.
Tuesday was a surprisingly quiet day for Team Ras. Following with recent traditions, the House of Ras polls a general election (favorably for the GOP) that is five months away rather than the primary that is seven days away. They also check in on Rhode Island.
RI-Gov: Lincoln Chafee (I) 35%, Frank Caprio (D) 32%, John Robataille (R) 25%
RI-Gov: Lincoln Chafee (I) 37%, John Robataille (R) 29%, Patrick Lynch (D) 19%
RI-Gov: Frank Caprio (D) 35%, Lincoln Chafee (I) 33%, Victor Moffitt (R) 22%
RI-Gov: Lincoln Chafee (I) 35%, Victor Moffitt (R) 28%, Patrick Lynch (D) 24%
SD-AL: Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D) 46%, Kristi Noem (R) 43%
SD-AL: Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D) 47%, Chris Nelson (R) 43%
SD-AL: Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D) 48%, Blake Curd (R) 41%