If you are one of those people given to rending your garments when confronted with bad polling data, the Wrap has one piece of advice: come back in a half hour when the Diary Rescue gets posted.
Yes, friends, today was a buffet of ugly, from the release of the second set of Ayers McHenry (GOP) polls of competitive House races to yucky numbers from SurveyUSA on an open Democratic House seat. Even Rasmussen was giving us the full Ras today.
Properly warned, feel free to trudge forward into a decidedly pessimistic Thursday edition of the Wrap...
THE U.S. SENATE
AK-Sen: Primary fallout continues in the wake of Miller-Murkowski
James L. over at Swing State Project opened the day with an excellent synopsis of the most recent events in Alaska in the wake of the improbable defeat of incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski. Senator Mark Begich has effectively slammed the door on the "Democratic Switcheroo" thing by backing the man who won the Democratic nomination Tuesday night: Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams. Profiles of McAdams are starting to pop up, and it is hard not to like what you see. Meanwhile, the state's Libertarian Party is not slamming the door on the notion of Murkowski replacing their nominee and running under the Libertarian banner in November. Miller's lead of under 1700 votes now goes to the absentees, which Murkowski would have to win by a sizeable margin to overturn the apparent result.
CO-Sen: Bennet rebuts Ipsos poll, Buck caught being a hypocrite
Two news items out of the state of Colorado today. In the wake of a seriously ugly Ipsos poll out yesterday (which gave GOPer Ken Buck a nine-point lead over Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet), Bennet decided to release an internal poll which stood in pretty stark contrast to the Ipsos poll. Bennet's poll, conducted late last week by Harstad Research, gave the Democrat a four point lead (44-40) over Ken Buck.
Buck, for his part, is joining fellow anti-government conservative Ron Johnson of Wisconsin in the club of hypocrites who, in their pasts, have had their hands outstretched before the government coffers. In Buck's case, it is more recent: as recently as 2007, he sought millions of dollars in earmarks via his then-local congresswoman (the infamous Marilyn Musgrave).
CT-Sen: WWE combatant's death refuses to go away as father speaks up
The most stringent criticism of Connecticut GOP Senate nominee Linda McMahon comes today from the father of the former WWE wrestler who passed away earlier in the month at the age of 29. Harley McNaught, whose son Lance Cade worked for the McMahons for most of the past decade, had particularly harsh words for how the couple conducted their business:
"[Cade] would have cut his arm off for Vince McMahon, but it wasn't there in return," his father said. "He don't care any more than the man in the moon for them, other than as dollar signs."
McNaught was planning to grieve in silence, but was driven to speak after Linda McMahon coldly dismissed Cade's passing by noting that she "might have met him once", and insisting that the company was not responsible for his death, or the deaths of any other ex-employees.
KY-Sen: Mongiardo offers backhanded endorsement of Conway
Apparently, three months has not been long enough for Democratic Lt. Governor Dan Mongiardo to get over his narrow defeat at the hands of Democratic Senate nominee Jack Conway. In a local media interview, Mongiardo reiterated that he would be supporting Conway, but his rationale was, to say the least, strained: "I don’t think that Jack is the best in the state, but he’s a heck of lot better than who he’s running against. That’s why I have to support him."
LA-Sen: Vitter a lock to win GOP primary on Saturday, says PPP
Geez, has any candidate in the 2010 cycle entered the fray with more hype, and been a bigger underachiever, than former state judge Chet Traylor in Louisiana? According to a new poll by PPP, the man who was expected to give incumbent Republican David Vitter a serious fight is sitting at a whopping 5% of the vote, exactly one percent ahead of totally unheralded perennial candidate Nick Accardo. Vitter, for what it is worth, is sitting on 81% of the GOP primary vote.
Meanwhile, Vitter did get some unwanted media attention today, when the New Orleans Times-Picayune uncovered a nearly five-digit expenditure by Vitter's campaign for "strategy" to his first cousin, who, as it happens, is deeply underwater financially. Vitter's crew is pooh-poohing the timing, arguing that his cousin did legit work handling the direct mail for this Saturday's primary. Recall, however, that the somewhat hyped House campaign of Oregon Republican Sid Leiken was upended by a similar charge late last year.
MO-Sen: MSU poll says Carnahan within striking distance of Blunt
Missouri State University is out with new data in the Show Me State, and their numbers certainly go against the grain. The pollster, in conjunction with KY3, polled the race and found Republican Congressman Roy Blunt only up 49-48 against Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan. Most recent polling, including our own survey conducted by PPP, put Blunt ahead by a wider margin, usually in the upper single-digits. One reason to wonder about the partisan makeup of the sample: President Obama's approval in the state (47%) is higher than most pollsters nationally, which has certainly not been mimicked by other pollsters who have come into Missouri.
NC-Sen: Dem challenger calls for Simpson ouster
I am more than willing to be corrected, but this has to be one of the first top-tier 2010 candidates calling for Alan Simpson's head in the wake of his "310 million tits" tirade. Elaine Marshall, who is locked in a tight battle with Republican incumbent Richard Burr in the Tar Heel State, called for Simpson to resign during an address celebrating Women's Equality Day (today is the 90th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment). Marshall sharply criticized Simpson, saying his remarks were demeaning to women as well as Social Security recipients.
PA-Sen: Another poll gives Toomey modest lead...but there's a catch
The outcome of the U.S. Senate race in the Keystone State may well depend on how good the polling crew at Franklin and Marshall College (PDF file) is at constructing a likely voter screen. The pollster gives Republican Patrick Toomey a nine-point edge over Democrat Joe Sestak (40-31) among those voters identified as "likely voters." Among all registered voters, however, that margin whittles down to just three points (31-28). Another thing long evident in F&M polls, they sure as all Hell aren't pushing leaners very hard. That, or the good people of Pennsylvania are just chronically indecisive.
THE U.S. HOUSE
MA-09: Heard of speed dating? How about speed debating?
Good grief: Stephen Lynch, the Massachusetts Democrat who was one of the most shocking "nay" votes for HCR back in the Spring, had promised his primary rival, Mac D'Alessandro, that he would participate in a primary debate. And so he will...for fifteen minutes. The two will participate in a debate consisting of a single segment on a weekend news program on WBZ-TV. Talk about respecting the letter, but not the spirit, of the promise...
MO-03: Carnahan office attack not motivated by ideology
News that ought to come as a bit of a relief: Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan revealed today that the firebombing of his campaign office last week appears to be the work of a disgruntled ex-employee, and not motivated by any other cause. The attack occurred on August 17th, and the suspect apparently had just been fired from his job with the Carnahan campaign, where he had worked for only a week.
MO-04/MO-07/MO-08: Everyone holds their own in new public poll
The Missouri State crew (referenced earlier in their surprisingly optimistic poll of the Senate race) also polled a trio of House races in the Show-Me state. Before I get to the numbers, a word of caution: the sample sizes here are unbelievably tiny (ranging from 171-198 respondents), therefore the margin of error on these subsamples is quite lofty. In the most anticipated battle among these three districts (MO-04), the MSU poll sees Democratic incumbent Ike Skelton hanging on versus Republican Vicky Hartzler by a fairly solid margin (47-35). In the southeastern-based 8th district, well-funded Democrat Tommy Sowers hasn't apparently made much of a dent in this uber-red district, as GOP incumbent Jo Ann Emerson has a huge advantage (64-17). And, in the open seat race in the 7th district to replace Roy Blunt, the GOP looks likely to hold, as Republican Billy Long leads Democrat Scott Eckersley by a better than two-to-one ratio (51-23).
NC-08: Kissell releases poll with a double-digit edge
One prominent exception to the "crappy polls today for Democrats" theme comes from North Carolina freshman Congressman Larry Kissell. The rookie Democrat offers up an internal poll from Anzalone-Liszt Research showing him with a seventeen-point edge (49-32) over Republican challenger Harold Johnson. Kissell easily knocked Rep. Robin Hayes out of office in 2008 after narrowly missing victory in 2006.
OH-17: Traficant's comeback gets a reprieve...for the moment
His resurrection is not yet complete, but former Congressman (and prisoner) Jim Traficant got some unexpected good news yesterday, when Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner broke a local canvassing board deadlock and allowed Traficant the opportunity to prove that he had collected enough signatures to be accepted onto the November ballot. Traficant had been filing to appear in his former home district (currently held by Democrat Tim Ryan) as an Independent.
OR-05: Schrader fights Bruun internal polling with data of his own
Wish I was seeing this more often in this particular election cycle. Just one day after Republican rival Scott Bruun released internal polling claiming he enjoyed a lead over Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader, Schrader provided some evidence to the contrary. Schrader's poll (which was done in late July by Lake Research) had the incumbent up double digits on Bruun (46-35). The district is a swingy district that slightly preferred GW Bush in 2004, and then went by a far clearer margin for Barack Obama in 2008.
PA-08: GOP poll claims Patrick Murphy latest Democrat to be behind
The usual caveats apply with internal polls, but the campaign of former Republican Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick is claiming that the GOP nominee is on his way to getting his old job back. The poll, from Public Opinion Strategies, gives Fitzpatrick a 48-41 lead over sophomore Democrat Patrick Murphy. Murphy defeated Fitzpatrick for the right to represent the 8th Congressional District in 2006.
WA-03: SUSA poll says GOP pickup likely in southwestern Washington
This is another in a series of painfully pessimistic polls for House Democrats courtesy of the polling crew at SurveyUSA. SUSA heads to the southwestern corner of Washington State, where Democrats are defending a tough open seat with the retirement of Brian Baird. According to the poll, the defense is going poorly: GOP nominee Jaime Herrera is staked to a 54-41 lead over Democrat Denny Heck.
BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE: Midwest leaning GOP, at least according to GOP
Republican pollsters Ayers McHenry, at the best of the GOP think tank American Action Forum, is back with their second round of House polling, and it is every bit as ugly as the first round of polling early last week. However, there is a caveat that goes beyond the usual "hey, it is a partisan poll" caveat. If you look at the actual scripts employed by the pollster, you will see (PDF file) that the topline question is not asked until question #12. Among the questions asked before are issue questions, which the National Council on Public Polls has noted can skew results.
With that mega-caveat out of the way, here are the numbers from the GOP polls:
IA-03: Brad Zaun (R) 51%, Rep. Leonard Boswell (D) 41%
IN-02: Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) 46%, Jackie Walorski (R) 44%
MI-07: Tim Walberg (R) 50%, Mark Schauer (D) 40%
MO-03: Rep. Russ Carnahan (D) 54%, Ed Martin (R) 38%
OH-01: Steve Chabot (R) 47%, Rep. Steve Driehaus (D) 45%
OH-13: Rep. Betty Sutton (D) 43%, Tom Ganley (R) 41%
OH-15: Steve Stivers (R) 49%, Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D) 44%
OH-16: Jim Renacci (R) 49%, John Boccieri (D) 35%
WI-08: Reid Ribble (R) 49%, Rep. Steve Kagen (D) 39%
THE GUBERNATORIAL RACES
PA-Gov: F&M poll shows same GOP lead and wide RV/LV gap
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the Franklin and Marshall poll in the gubernatorial race is somewhat of a carbon copy (PDF) of the Senate race. A big lead for the Republican nominee (in this case, state AG Tom Corbett) among likely voters, but one within the margin of error with registered voters. And, as in the Senate race, a metric ton of undecideds. This poll puts Corbett up by eleven points (39-28) among likely voters, but by just a single point (29-28) with registered voters.
VT-Gov: Super-tight Democratic primary to be certified next week
Herein lies one of the advantages to being one of the lesser populated states of the Union. We will almost certainly know by this time on Tuesday who will be the Democratic nominee for Governor in Vermont. That is the word from Secretary of State Deb Markowitz, who is in the somewhat awkward position of certifying a brutally close election in which she appears to have run in third place, but less than 1000 points behind the winner. That apparent winner, state legislator Peter Shumlin, is declaring victory, which brought a slight amount of tension to the Unity Rally held there yesterday at the behest of respected senior Senator Patrick Leahy. Shumlin's declaration and expressions of confidence were declared "inappropriate" by the campaign manager for Doug Racine, the apparent runner-up.
Rasmussen is giving the GOP no small amount of love today. They hit the Florida Senate race, where they become the first pollster in forever to give Marco Rubio a double-digit edge. They also give Meg Whitman her biggest lead of the campaign, as well.
CA-Gov: Meg Whitman (R) 48%, Jerry Brown (D) 40%
FL-Sen: Marco Rubio (R) 40%, Charlie Crist (I) 30%, Kendrick Meek (D) 21%
NM-Gov: Susana Martinez (R) 48%, Diane Denish (D) 43%
UT-Sen: Mike Lee (R) 54%, Sam Granato (D) 29%