• WV-Sen: West Virginia is one of the most woefully underpolled states most cycles, but this year, we've been especially starved for data. At least now we finally have some fresh numbers in hand, courtesy of the Charleston Daily Mail, which commissioned local pollster R.L. Repass to take a survey of the state's open-seat Senate race. Repass finds Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito with just a 45-40 edge over Democratic Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, a much closer result for Capito than the few polls we saw earlier this year.
Of course, there are a few caveats. One, Tennant is still only considering a bid; she hasn't actually decided to run. For another, even if these figures are accurate, getting from 40 to 50 for any Democrat other than Joe Manchin seeking federal office in West Virginia wouldn't be an easy slog. Then there's also the matter of the sample composition, as a Republican operative points out:
Cornelius said the poll included an overly large sample of college graduates, 53 percent compared to the 17 percent identified by the U.S. Census Bureau, and people making more than $50,000. While only 26 percent of state residents made more than $50,000 or more per year according to the 2010 Census, 54 percent of respondents to the West Virginia Poll made $50,000 or more.
As commenter DCCyclone observes in response
, though, according to the 2008 and 2010 exit polls, Democrats typically performed better among lower-educated and lower-income groups or there was no clear difference, so a wealthier, better-educated sample might not have helped Tennant.
Repass's recent track record, however, is a bit thin. They only released two public polls in 2012, the latest of which came in August, and those results weren't good. They pegged Mitt Romney's margin at 14 (he won by 27); Manchin's at 39 (won by 24); and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's at 21 (won by 5). Now, that poll was taken more than two months before Election Day, and it was only one survey. But they did miss widely in the Democratic direction in all three races, so it's just something to bear in mind as you integrate this latest poll into your thinking.
• IA-Gov: State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald, who had promised a decision by Labor Day, says he will not run for governor next year. Several other Democrats are interested, though, and the field will likely include state Rep. Tyler Olson, state Sen. Jack Hatch, and former state Rep. Bob Krause.
• IL-Gov: It looks like it's gonna be a Quinn-Daley slugfest after all. State Sen. Kwame Raoul has announced that he won't seek the Democratic nomination for governor, leaving just incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn and former White House chief of staff Bill Daley in the race. With Illinois's primary very early (March of next year), the window for a third option to get in has just about closed.
• WI-Gov: Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris, one of very few Democrats actively considering a bid for governor, has decided against running. Madison school board member Mary Burke, a potential self-funder, seems like the most likely Democratic candidate at this point, though she has yet to announce her plans.
• ME-02: Former state Senate President Kevin Raye, who waged unsuccessful bids for Congress twice before, says he's going to try for Maine's 2nd District a third time. Raye ran against Dem Rep. Mike Michaud (who is now running for governor) last year and lost by a wide 58-42 margin; a decade earlier, when the seat was last open, Michaud beat Raye by a tighter 52-48 spread. This time, because the 2nd is once again open, he'll face a competitive GOP primary first: Former state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin just jumped into the race, and several other Republicans are still considering bids.
• OH-10: Less than two months after launching his campaign against GOP Rep. Mike Turner, businessman Russ Gottesman is dropping out. On paper, this is a swingy district that Mitt Romney carried by just a 50-48 margin, but Turner is a tough opponent, making Democratic recruitment here difficult. (Hat-tip: emops)
• Nassau Exec: One of the biggest under-the-radar upsets of 2009—one that presaged the disastrous Dem losses of 2010—came in Nassau County, Long Island's ur-suburbia just to the east of New York City. Nassau had long been a Republican stronghold, but shifting demographics and GOP corruption began yielding results for Democrats around a decade ago, leading to the election of Tom Suozzi as the county's first Democratic executive since the early `70s in 2001.
But as national sentiment began to curdle against Democrats, Suozzi's bid for a third term was shockingly derailed in 2009, when underdog Ed Mangano defeated him in a major come-from-behind victory by just 386 votes. Mangano's tenure has been marked by incompetence, leading to a state takeover of the county's finances in 2011, and now Suozzi is seeking a comeback.
A new Siena poll (PDF), though, shows a tossup between the two, with Suozzi at 42 and Mangano at 41. And despite the incumbent's failings, he maintains positive ratings, with 57 percent expressing a favorable view of him versus 27 who have an unfavorable opinion. Suozzi is also broadly popular, at 53-31, and unlike 2009, when he was caught napping (and wound up with $1 million left in the bank), he'll wage an aggressive race.
First, though, Suozzi has to win the Democratic primary, but Siena shows him faring well there, with a 58-25 lead over businessman Adam Haber.
• NYC Comptroller: Siena's mayoral poll for the New York Times also included a section about the Democratic primary for comptroller (PDF), but in this case, unlike Quinnipiac and Penn Schoen Berland, they still see ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer with a big lead over Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. Siena has Spitzer up 50-35, an increase from his 44-35 edge in early August; Quinnipiac, of course, saw things move in the opposite direction.
So what could account for the difference? Well, Siena was in the field for a very extended period, polling from Aug. 19 through 28. That's probably about twice as long as you really want, especially when you're this close to Election Day (Sept. 10). Though the Times defended the lengthy exposure as necessary for "good work," this sort of methodology can blur late movement, especially since Stringer only started airing TV ads just a few days before Siena began polling. (HuffPo Pollster explains why it likely took Siena so long.)
On the other hand, most earlier polling (including from Quinnipiac) has given Spitzer wide leads. In the previous Digest, I was ready to conclude that Quinnipiac's mid-August poll that had Spitzer up by 19 was the outlier, but perhaps it's the other way around.
• NYC Mayor: The Bill de Blasio surge continues, with two more polls showing the public advocate on top in the Sept. 10 Democratic primary—and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn floating down to third place. Siena (PDF), on behalf of the New York Times, finds de Blasio at 32, with former Comptroller Bill Thompson at 18 and Quinn just behind at 17. At the beginning of August, the picture was reversed: Quinn 25, Thompson 16, de Blasio 14.
Meanwhile, Penn Schoen Berland (for amNewYork and News 12) also puts de Blasio in the lead, though by a smaller margin. He beats Thompson 29-24, with Quinn all the way back at 17. This is PSB's first poll of the race, though, so we don't have trendlines. Also note the different field periods: PSB conducted its poll from Aug. 22-27, while Siena (as discussed above) took 10 days to finish, surveying from Aug. 19 to 28.
• Demographics: Pew Research has released a thorough new project called "Mapping the Latino Population," which is full of data on where the nation's Latinos currently live. Primarily it's in Mexican border states, and especially in Los Angeles County, which contains 9 percent of the nation's Latino population.
Pew also looks at where the fastest growth is happening, which is mainly in the southeast, although that's shaped by how few Latinos lived there in the 20th century. In addition, Atlantic Cities has some infographics that weren't part of the original Pew report, including some neat animated GIFs of county-level Latino growth by decade since 1980. (David Jarman)
• Immigration Reform: While it's looking like immigration reform is stalled, verging on dead, in the Republican-controlled House, Benjy Sarlin (now at MSNBC) offers a helpful look at those Republicans who have come out in favor of the plan. And instead of just your usual whip count, Sarlin tries to get at the "why" behind each decision and attempts to assign lawmakers into different camps: those worried about re-election in heavily-Latino districts; establishment players interested in moving upward in states with Latino populations; fans of cheap labor; and those arguing in favor from an evangelical point of view. (David Jarman)