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8:39 AM PT: UT-04: At long last, vote counting has concluded in Utah, and Dem Rep. Jim Matheson has been certified as the winner by 768 votes over Mia Love, who conceded on election night. Interestingly, the final margin wound up tighter than even the closest projection that analyst Robert Gehrke offered, which suggested a best-case scenario might be a 1,350-vote victory for Matheson. Now the question is whether Matty can hang on in 2014. There's one difference that'll definitely be in his favor: no Mitt Romney at the top of the ticket, driving up the "favorite son" and Mormon vote on behalf of Republicans.
10:47 AM PT: NYC Mayor: Quinnipiac has some fresh numbers on the New York City mayoral primary, and unsurprisingly, they find City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in the lead with 32 percent, up a bit from her 29 percent share in August and her 26 percent take in May, suggesting steady advancement. Former Comptroller Bill Thompson and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio are both holding steady at 10 and 9 respectively, but current Comptroller John Liu has seen his share from 9 to 5. I'd say that's due to his serious ethics woes, but those issues have been in play since well before Quinnipiac's last poll, so I'm not sure what's going on here. The poll was also in the field before Scott Stringer dropped out to run for Liu's job, and you can understand why he bailed, seeing as he was at just 4 percent.
Quinnipiac also tested a couple of actual Republican names against Generic D, and the results are pretty amusing. MTA chief Joe Lhota (who received a fair amount of visibility in the wake of Hurricane Sandy) trails 60-9, while former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion loses 62-11. While you might be tempted to laugh, I'd point out that NYC has had Republican mayors continuously since Rudy Giuliani was first elected in 1993. That depressing 20-year-long streak makes me take nothing for granted.
11:36 AM PT: Gay Marriage: Fresh off our successes on the marriage equality front in four states this year, BeloitDem asks, "Where next?" Dividing the nation up into three tiers—top targets, reach targets, and long-term targets—he discusses 17 states where same-sex marriage could one day become law, and what electoral changes progressives will have to push for to make it happen.
11:44 AM PT: IL-02: For anyone following this story, this comes as no surprise:
Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is resigning from Congress today, CBS 2 has learned.
He notified staff, supporters and some lawmakers this afternoon, citing health reasons. His resignation letter has been sent to House Speaker John Boehner.
The decision came following two weeks of mounting calls for him to come clean with voters, following revelations that former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb was involved in plea bargaining with authorities who’d been investigating Jackson’s alleged misuse of campaign funds.
Jackson, of course, had also disappeared from public view earlier this year and received treatment for an unspecified medical condition that was the subject of many conflicting and sketchy reports. He never addressed the matter publicly, but still won re-election, albeit by the smallest margin of his career. Now, in addition to leaving Congress, jail time looks increasingly likely.
A special election will soon follow this announcement, though in this dark blue district, the Democratic primary is the only race that matters. Some possible candidates include: ex-Rep. Debbie Halvorson, who got trounced by Jackson earlier this year in a comeback attempt; state Sen. Emil Jones III (though his father, the former State Senate president of the same name, was very unpopular); and state Sen. Toi Hutchison, who was Halvorson's old chief of staff when she served in the state Senate. Illinois' 2nd is also heavily black (and the Dem primary electorate even moreso), but if a bunch of African-American politicians were to enter the race and split the vote, that could allow Halvorson, who is white, to sneak through with a plurality.
In any event, many more names are likely to emerge from the woodwork, and as always, we'll be following future developments closely.
12:17 PM PT: GA-Sen: We've already mentioned Rep. Tom Price as a possible GOP primary challenger to Sen. Saxby Chambliss a couple of times, but Roll Call's Joshua Miller runs through a whole bunch of other potential contenders in Georgia's congressional delegation as well. Paul Broun isn't ruling out a run, and Tom Graves declined to comment, but Lynn Westmoreland, Jack Kingston, and Phil Gingrey are all basically saying no (though Gingrey had previously looked unlikely).
Also intriguing is a new report in the Weekly Standard which says that former Secretary of State Karen Handel might make a bid as well. Election junkies will recall Handel from her 2010 gubernatorial bid, when she narrowly lost the Republican nomination to ex-Rep. Nathan Deal in a runoff by four tenths of a percent (after taking first place in the opening round).
And those of you who follow developments in the war on women certainly haven't forgotten Handel's notorious role in cutting off funding for Planned Parenthood as vice president for public policy at Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Of course, the very actions which made her a demon in the eyes of those who value the kinds of services PP provides (like breast cancer screenings) will only help to burnish her conservative credentials if she makes another run for office.
12:29 PM PT: NJ-Gov: Unsurprisingly, GOP Gov. Chris Christie has seen his standing in the polls soar in the wake of his handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. He now has a 67-25 favorability rating in the latest Rutgers-Eagleton poll, up dramatically from 48-42 at the end of September and by far his highest marks ever. That even includes 49 percent of Democrats. But will it last? It may not matter. Candidates thinking about taking on Christie in next year's gubernatorial election have to make up their minds pretty soon, and the big names might be newly reluctant to jump in, just given where things stand now. Of course, I hope that's not the case, but I'm starting to feel a bit pessimistic.
1:00 PM PT: CO-Gov, -Sen: Eli Stokols of local news outlet KDVR talks to three Republican who may seek statewide office in 2014: Both ex-Rep. (and two-time failed Senate candidate) Bob Schaffer and state Sen. Greg Brophy aren't ruling out challenges to Gov. John Hickenlooper, while ex-Rep. Bob Beauprez says he may run against Sen. Mark Udall. Stokols also mentions a bunch of other names: Former state Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp could make a gov bid, while Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman could also look to move up, as could SoS Scott Gessler and state Treasurer Walker Stapleton. Gardner, though, already has that "rising star" label attached to him and may prefer to stay in the House.
One unnamed "former Republican lawmaker" went even deeper into the weeds with his own list of alternatives to this standard list of names and proposed state Rep. Cheri Gerou, former congressional candidate Lang Sias, state Sen. Ellen Roberts, and Jennifer George, who lost a legislative race this fall. Also, there's one entertaining line from Schaffer, who really seems quite delusional at this point:
"[Mitt Romney's] campaign rhetoric was quite good, but it didn't precisely align with his proven record as a governor," Schaffer said. "Obama campaigned as a committed socialist and his record supports that."
1:16 PM PT: MD-Gov: Oh good: We haven't seen an internal poll in weeks, so I was starting to get worried that politics had ended. But not to fear! Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown is already out with a Democratic primary survey (from GHY) for the 2014 governor's race. Of course, it being so early and the field being so unformed, Brown has a few different trial heats, though he leads in all of them.
In a four-way contest, Brown takes 31 percent to 19 for AG Doug Gansler, 14 for Comptroller Peter Franchot, and just 4 for Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. Without Franchot, it goes Brown 37, Gansler 23, and Ulman 5, and it's 41-25 Brown when he's paired up against just Gansler. (It's not clear why Brown seems to think Franchot is the least likely to make the race.) Note that the primary is not until June 24, 2014.
1:41 PM PT (David Jarman): Senate: Senate Democrats managed to win in Montana and North Dakota this year even as those states were solid red at the presidential level -- but somehow that doesn't come as a surprise. Whether it's prairie populism, personally-compelling candidates, or both, Democrats have usually managed to retain their Senate seats in this part of the country despite the presidential leans.
University of Minnesota's Smart Politics takes a look at this phenomenon, and finds that indeed these two states are the likeliest ticket splitters, splitting their presidential/Senate votes more than half the time over the last century (for instance, Montana going GOP for Prez and Dem for Senate 10 out of 18 times in the last century). The average state rate for ticket-splitting has been 29% of the time over the last century; every state has done it at least once, but it's a tie between Kansas and Wyoming for the least (each has done it only once).
1:51 PM PT (David Jarman): Polltopia: You've probably gorged on Republican-internal-polling-sucked in the last few weeks to the extent that they're starting to make you sick, so here's a nice change of pace: a story from HuffPo's Mark Blumenthal on how the Obama campaign's internal pollsters got it right. What did they do right? For starters, they leaned entirely on voter registration lists (instead of random-number dialing) to pull their samples. In addition to frequent swing state samples (which turned into state-level tracking polling in the closing months), they also ran constant parallel polls oriented toward "voter identification," oriented toward fleshing out their LV model as well as helping with microtargeting strategies. On top of that, to assess their chances, they fed all of their data through a Nate Silver/Sam Wang-style Monte Carlo simulation every day.