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• NC-Sen: PPP's first post-primary poll in North Carolina tells us we're in for a weird election this year. For the first time, PPP included third-party candidate Sean Haugh, who just won an incredibly rare Libertarian primary over ultra-nutter Tim D'Anunnzio, and they find Haugh taking a huge 11 percent of the vote. Consequently, both major-party nominees are in the 30s, with Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan leading Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis by a 38-36 spread. That's the same as the 2-point edge she sported a month ago, so Tillis hasn't gotten any kind of post-primary bounce.
Of course, as every poll-watcher knows, Haugh is almost certain to earn a smaller share of the vote on Election Day. But Libertarians have been playing a bigger role in recent years, often to the detriment of Republicans, and it's not unreasonable to imagine Haugh could pull down 5 or 6 percent of the vote. In Montana's 2012 Senate race, for instance, a Libertarian took 6.6 percent, far in excess of Jon Tester's 3.7 percent margin of victory. And last year in the Virginia governor's race, Libertarian Robert Sarvis captured 6.5 percent—again, much more than Terry McAullife's final 2.5 percent win.
And PPP's numbers do indeed demonstrate that Haugh is hurting Tillis more than Hagan. When Haugh's supporters are re-allocated based on which candidate they lean towards, Tillis moves into a 41-41 tie with Hagan. That could make all the difference in a close race, as this one seems apt to be. What's more, as Tom Jensen points out, the undecideds actually are a Dem-leaning group. They went 55-37 for Obama, which is unusual in a red state. So Tillis can't simply expect to hoover these voters up—he'll actually have some persuading to do. And given how far he lurched to the right to win the GOP primary, that may not be so easy.
• AK-Sen, -Gov: It looks like Democratic efforts to make Dan Sullivan unpalatable to GOP primary voters have been for naught. According to PPP's new Alaska poll, Sullivan now has a 40-26 lead on Mead Treadwell for the Republican nomination, with Joe Miller at 14, compared to a 30-25 Sullivan edge back in February. Miller took 20 at the time, so his slide into oblivion continues.
Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Mark Begich's position appears precarious. He edges Sullivan 42-37, while a trio of third-party candidates takes 7 percent, virtually unchanged since last time. That small group of disaffected voters appears to be pulling from the major-party options about equally, as they say they prefer Begich 43-39 over Sullivan. For what it's worth, Begich leads Treadwell 41-33 and Miller 43-27, but the common theme is that he's in the low 40s against everyone, even the detested Miller.
The undecideds pose even more trouble. Among this group, Begich sports a terrible 12-54 job approval rating and Barack Obama's is a comically awful 9-71. The only good news is that 42 percent of undecideds claim they voted for neither Kang nor Kodos for president in 2012, so if Begich is lucky, a lot of these third-party devotees won't wind up supporting Sullivan.
Begich, for his part, has a new ad in which he touts his efforts to force the VA to allow rural veterans to seek treatment at local clinics, rather than schlep great distances to the VA's own clinic in Anchorage. And also on the TV front, the main group that's tried to poison the well against Sullivan, Put Alaska First, says it's reserving $4 million in ad time for the final two months of the race—a huge sum by Alaskan standards.
And over in the governor's race, incumbent Republican Sean Parnell pulls a very weak 37 percent. However, he still has a double-digit lead on Democrat Byron Mallot, who's at 27, because of the presence of independent Bill Walker, who takes 17. Walker is a former Republican whose main campaign theme is opposition to last year's oil company tax cuts (that Parnell signed into law), and thanks to this unusual background, the crosstabs suggest he's clawing into both sides. If he were to drop out and endorse Mallot, though, this affair could get interesting. (Walker definitely wouldn't support Parnell, seeing as he started the cycle by trying to primary him.)
• AR-Sen: Republicans keep having a hard time coming up with decent polls to answer the surfeit of good numbers Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor's recently seen, and Tuesday's latest attempt was pretty much a boner. An internal from OnMessage for GOP Rep. Tom Cotton puts him up just 42-40, which isn't a lot but is at least better than all those 10-point Pryor leads. The bigger problem, though, is that this actually represents a drop from last October, when OnMessage had Cotton on top 45-41. So Cotton, just like Karl Rove did, now sees himself performing worse than he was before. Good to know.
• GA-Sen: With the GOP primary bearing down on us, we have three new polls to chew over. An internal for Karen Handel from Rosetta Stone shows her close behind the frontrunner, David Perdue, who had a 22-20 edge, while Jack Kingston takes 18. However, I wouldn't like those trendlines much if I were Handel, seeing as her last poll from a week ago had Perdue ahead 23-21 with Kingston at 15. That means she's flat while Kingston, her only real rival for the second slot, has been moving up, likely thanks to his heavy TV advertising.
And indeed, both SurveyUSA and St. Leo University put Handel out of the money. The former finds Perdue leading Kingston 27-19, with Handel back at 16 (basically all flat compared to late April), while the latter has the race at Perdue 26, Kingston 16, and Handel 15. Handel could still pull it off, but you'd rather be the guy with sufficient resources to close this one out—that is, Kingston.
Of course, everyone's still battling for position, which is why Kingston and Handel have both cranked out last-minute ads (Gingrey, too). Kingston features a whole bunch offering a million reasons for why they "back Jack." Handel plays up the resentment card in a spot very similar to prior efforts, asking, "Are you tired of millionaire elitists and career politicians telling us we're not smart enough to fix the problems they created?" And Gingrey tries one last desperate conservative gasp, blasting Perdue, Handel, and Kingston as moderates. (The best attack: "But will we condone Karen Handel's vote for Youth Pride, that promotes teenage sexuality?")
• HI-Sen: After an early advertising burst by Sen. Brian Schatz, it looks like the Democratic primary has finally busted open. A new poll from Public Policy Polling, commissioned by Democracy for America, finds Schatz with a 49-34 lead over Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. (DFA has endorsed Schatz.) Most previous polling has shown a pretty tight race, but Schatz has outraised Hanabusa two-to-one and has consequently had the airwaves to himself.
• IA-Sen: A couple of new endorsements just came in for state Sen. Joni Ernst, with the GOP primary now three weeks away. Both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the NRA are backing her play, though as ever, the question is whether they'll actually spend money to help her get nominated.
• LA-Sen: Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu has released a pair of new ads, both featuring playful back-and-forth banter with her father, former New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu. Pops was an accomplished politician in his own right, and he spends his time on screen praising/embarrassing his daughter for a variety of things, mostly having to do with her efforts on behalf of the energy industry—but also, interestingly, for taking on BP after the disastrous 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.
• NH-Sen: Another weird moment from Scott Brown—no, not the part about his retirement from the National Guard. Scroll down for the bit about how he appeared unannounced at a candidate forum, then immediately disappeared without saying a word. What the what?
• SC-Sen-A: In his newest ad, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham touts his efforts to support construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
• SD-Sen: Supposedly ordinary South Dakotans offer platitudes in praise of GOP ex-Gov. Mike Rounds in his newest ad.
• FL-Gov: A new SurveyUSA poll of the Florida governor's race finds Democrat Charlie Crist edging GOP Gov. Rick Scott 44-41, down a touch from Crist's 46-41 lead a month ago.
• GA-Gov: Both SurveyUSA and St. Leo also have polls of Georgia's governor's race. SUSA puts GOP Gov. Nathan Deal ahead of Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter 43-37, little changed from his 41-37 edge late last month. St. Leo, meanwhile, in their first poll finds Deal up just 38-35, though obviously they've got a lot more undecideds. Both firms, however, put Libertarian Andrew Hunt at 7, showing just how hard the fight to 50 percent will be.
• MD-Gov: Republican businessman Larry Hogan has a new internal from WPA Opinion Research which finds Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown leading with 34 percent in "the Democrat primary," while state Attorney General Doug Gansler takes 20 and Del. Heather Mizeur 7. Seriously, even GOP pollsters can't restrain themselves from using "Democrat" as an adjective in a freakin' polling memo designed for public consumption? What a sad tic.
Still, those numbers are largely in line with those we've seen elsewhere. But Hogan also offers some of the first general election results as well. He says he's only trailing Brown 42-35, compared to a 46-32 Brown lead in a previously unreleased September poll. I guess that's nice for him, but good luck making the case that this means he has any shot this fall. Oh, and while you're at it, check out the ridiculously unbalanced blind bios WPA read for Hogan and Brown—and even despite the bias, Hogan still only manages a 1-point lead! Whatever.
• NM-Gov: Despite polling showing her less-than-dominant, GOP Gov. Susana Martinez continues to crush her opposition in fundraising, showing one of the difficulties Democrats will face in mounting an effective challenge against her. Between April 8 and May 5, Martinez raised $562,000 and has $4.2 million stockpiled; her nearest Democratic rival, businessman Alan Webber, took in $116,000 and has $456,000 in the bank. However, things are apt to change after the primary, and if Webber's the nominee, he can self-fund (and already has contributed $450,000 to his own efforts, though nothing in the last month).
Meanwhile, businessman Lawrence Rael (who was second among Democrats in fundraising in April after Webber) is out with his second ad. The first 10 seconds of the spot are devoted to bashing Martinez because, says Rael, New Mexico has one of the worst records in the nation on child welfare and job creation. The final two thirds of the ad goes back to positive messages.
• FL-13: Less than two weeks after entering the race at the behest of the DCCC, and just a day after the Tampa Bay Times exposed him for résumé inflation. Marine veteran and former cop Ed Jany has given up. Remarkably, Jany claimed that he was unable to simultaneously run for Congress ... and manage security operations for the World Cup in Brazil! If this excuse is even just a little bit true, he's nuts to have ever thought he could do both at once.
Because Jany was a recent convert from the Republican Party, he wasn't actually going to be able to run on the Democratic line and instead would have had to proceed as an independent. For that reason, thuggish local power brokers berated an actual Democrat, pastor Manuel Sykes, into quitting the race, to ensure that the left-leaning vote wouldn't get split. But that means it's not possible to substitute anyone else for Jany, since the Democratic Party failed to qualify a nominee. Well, at least the vote definitely won't get split now! Nice work, geniuses.
Anyhow, as a result of this depressing debacle, GOP Rep. David Jolly, who was just elected in a brutal special election earlier this year, will now waltz into a full term virtually unopposed. Consequently, we're moving this race from Lean Republican to Safe Republican. Oy.
• ID-02: With Idaho's GOP primary coming up in a week, the Club for Growth may have given up on Bryan Smith, but he isn't. In a new ad, Smith claims that "Washington special interests" are "spending millions to prop up Mike Simpson" because "he supports a scheme to give amnesty to illegal aliens."
• LA-05: Heh. Looks like Rep. Vance McAllister can't quite convince himself to let go. Despite declaring that he wouldn't seek re-election a couple of weeks ago, McAllister now says, "I can tell you my intent is not to run for re-election. To say I'm 100 percent sure, I would never box myself in like that." Louisiana has the latest filing deadline in the country—Aug. 22—so McAllister could mess with his fellow Republicans for many months more if he feels like. And we all know he's pretty good at messing around.
• MI-11: In a new ad for Republican attorney Dave Trott, a whole bunch of people claim that Trott saved their jobs, but no one offers any details about what exactly he did. If I had to guess, Trott, whose law firm specializes in foreclosures, helped these companies to reorganize after declaring bankruptcy.
• MI-13: As expected, Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett formally ruled that Rep. John Conyers failed to submit enough signatures to appear on the ballot in the August Democratic primary. However, in a statement, Garrett all but begged Conyers to challenge the laws that require petition circulators to be registered voters, the crux of the issue in this case. (The ACLU has already filed such a suit, and it looks like this requirement may well be unconstitutional.) Conyers has many legal options open to him, and he's made it clear that he'll pursue them, but in the worst-case scenario, he can always run as a write-in.
• NC-02: Election officials have completed their recanvass of the vote in North Carolina's 2nd District Democratic primary, increasing singer Clay Aiken's lead by 21 votes. That gives Aiken a 40.9 to 39.5 win over businessman Keith Crisco, who shockingly died on Monday after falling in his home. Aiken will now face GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers in the general election.
• NV-03: In a somewhat strange move, Democrat Erin Bilbray has released a poll from the Mellman Group showing her down 8 points to GOP Rep. Joe Heck, 39-31. The idea here is obviously to argue that Heck's "only" at 39, despite being the incumbent, and that Bilbray has more room to grow (she's winning 68 percent of Democrats versus Heck's 83 percent support from Republicans). But undecideds are really high (30 percent), meaning leaners were barely nudged, and Heck's only a sophomore, so he's not going to be all that well-known.
Mellman, of course, is a highly regarded outfit, and they've done very well in Nevada in the past. (They polled for Harry Reid in 2010 and famously were the only firm to call the race accurately.) But even if Mellman is dead-on accurate here, this just means that unless Heck's seemingly low vote share is a signifier of some grave but largely hidden flaw, Bilbray has a very challenging race ahead of her.
• NV-04: An impressively crappy ad from a new super PAC called New America (backed by a guy Jon Ralston refers to as a Sheldon Adelson "crony") attacks state Rep. Cresent Hardy as an Obamacare supporter who ran his own business into the ground. The group is trying to help Niger Innis in the GOP primary.
• NY-21: New York's primary isn't until June 24, but businessman Matt Doheny, who faces a competitive fight for the GOP nomination with former Bush aide Elise Stefanik, is already headed on the air with his first TV ad. The spot tries to push back against two Doheny weaknesses by featuring his wife and his infant son, whom he says was "born right here in the North Country": Doheny's weak ties to the district (he's a former Wall Street executive) and his kissyface incident with another woman two years ago, when he was already engaged.
• PA-08: Here's an interesting piece on a legal campaign finance practice that might nevertheless raise a few eyebrows—and one that's only likely to grow in the wake of the Supreme Court invalidating overall contribution caps for wealthy donors. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Democrat Kevin Strouse's mother and father made large donations to four other Democratic candidates (as much as $10,400, the maximum for spouses), while the parents of those candidates (Ami Bera, Patrick Murphy, Ann Callis, and Andrew Romanoff) repaid the favor with similarly sized contributions back to Strouse.
This allows all of these well-to-do moms and dads to get around individual donation limits while also supporting other Democrats, but it all appears to be kosher. As one election law expert says, "Even if there was an agreement, I have a hard time figuring out what law would be broken there."
Meanwhile, Strouse's rival, businesswoman Shaughnessy Naughton has decided to go negative in the final week of the Democratic primary with a new ad. A narrator says that Naughton "knows the importance of protecting the Delaware" River, while Strouse has "taken thousands from the gas industry, and backs Corbett's drilling plan, threatening our water."
• VA-08: One of the more notable names in the crowded primary to succeed retiring Rep. Jim Moran has dropped out of the race: Del. Charniele Herring, who had been chair of the Virginia Democratic Party and was also one of just two women in the race. Herring simply acknowledged that her polling didn't show her with a realistic path to victory. Eight candidates still remain in this crowded race, with ex-Lt. Gov. Don Beyer likely the most prominent among them.