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• OR-Sen: In the wake of McLaughlin & Associates' epic debacle in the Eric Cantor race, anyone thinking about releasing any internal polling from any GOP pollster right now should consider his or her decision very carefully—especially if your numbers cut against the bulk of data already out there. Even Republican pollster Frank Luntz acknowledged this reality and shredded his own party:
"Right now there are 230 House Republicans who are waking up praying that they do not have Eric Cantor's pollster. Honestly, and I'm one of them, we Republican pollsters suck. We have no ability to be able to analyze the electorate."
Now, Monica Wehby may think it's unfair—after all, she's using Tarrance, not McLaughlin—but she doesn't seem to have realized the credibility problem she's facing in publishing a poll
that shows her trailing Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley by just a 41-39 margin. Just a few weeks ago, after all, the much more reliable PPP found Merkley up 50-36
But Wehby's timing could not have been worse, because a brand-new independent poll from SurveyUSA for KATU-TV in Portland dropped just hours later. What did SUSA find?
Next time, listen to Frank Luntz.
P.S. Here was Tarrance on Oct. 25, 2012:
In that snapshot of today's vote model, Mitt Romney leads Barack Obama by five-points—52% to 47%. While that gap can certainly be closed by the ground game of the Democrats, reports from the field would indicate that not to be the case, and Mitt Romney may well be heading to a decisive victory.
• AR-Sen: You may want to go and read our KY-Sen bullet just below first, but here's another Magellan poll (again for the National Mining Association), this one showing GOP Rep. Tom Cotton beating Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor 49-45. An April Magellan survey for a different client had Cotton up 46-43. We could really use a non-partisan or Democratic poll down in Arkansas, though.
• GA-Sen: Rep. Jack Kingston may be scooping up lots of endorsements from the GOP establishment, but one guy who isn't taking sides in the runoff is also-ran Rep. Paul Broun. Then again, Broun is pretty much the antonym of however you define "establishment."
• KY-Sen: Now's definitely not the time to go around believing Republican pollsters, especially dodgy ones like Magellan Strategies, even if their results cut against their own interests. But man, it sure is entertaining to see Magellan crank out a poll—for the conservative National Mining Association, no less—showing Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes beating Mitch McConnell 49-46. That's by far the highest vote share Grimes has ever earned in a public poll, and if she's really at 49, then McConnell's in a lot of trouble.
Of course, again, GOP pollster, Magellan, etc. But Obama's job approval numbers are certainly believable (33-60), and what's more, McConnell's pushback didn't take the form of a contrary poll but rather bogus complaints about this survey's sample composition. (Turns out Magellan was spot-on in terms of voter registration by party.) So when you have a Republican campaign falsely attacking a Republican poll, maybe you can actually believe the latter.
And while we're talking about things that go against type, here's one more: Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is coming to Kentucky to campaign with Grimes at some unspecified date in the future. Clearly the Grimes campaign thought carefully about this move, because obviously conservatives gleefully imagine that Caricature Sen. Warren is some crazy communist who wants to collectivize the means of production and eat our freedom for brunch. But Real Sen. Warren offers a very appealing populist message that resonates just about everywhere outside of a few suburban 1-percenter enclaves, which explains why Grimes has embraced Warren and is looking forward to her arrival.
• MI-Sen, -Gov: A poll from Mitchell Research for the newsletter MIRS finds Democrats improving in both of Michigan's statewide races. In the Senate contest, Democratic Rep. Gary Peters is now beating Republican former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land 45-42, reversing the 44-38 advantage Land held in April. Meanwhile, on the gubernatorial side, GOP Gov. Rick Snyder now leads Democratic ex-Rep. Mark Schauer 46-41, compared to 49-37 last time.
• MS-Sen: The Club for Growth is back for the Republican primary runoff. Their new spot portrays Sen. Thad Cochran as someone who's been in the Senate too long and lost touch with Mississippi and its values. Perhaps understanding that Cochran himself is personally liked, the narrator states that Cochran has served well and deserves respect, but not a lifetime seat.
Cochran also has his own ad out, starring former Senate colleague Trent Lott. This new spot continues to emphasize all that Cochran has done for the state and can continue to do. Lott issues a warning that without Cochran, Mississippi could lose several important facilities and the jobs that come with them. Cochran and Lott did not have the easiest relationship in the Senate: In 1996, Lott beat him 44 votes to 8 in the race to replace Bob Dole as majority leader. Evidently, they've set aside whatever differences remain. (Jeff Singer)
• MT-Sen: Rasmussen: Steve Daines (R): 53, John Walsh (D-inc): 35 (March: 51-37 Daines).
• OK-Sen-B: Senate Conservatives Fund continues to frame the Republican primary fight between Rep. James Lankford and former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon as a Washington insider versus outsider battle.
Interestingly, before he ran for office, Lankford was a definite political outsider: He resigned as director of a large Christian summer camp to run for Congress and took advantage of grassroots support to beat a state representative in the 2010 primary. Lankford did join the House leadership after winning his second term, so it's not unfair to paint him as an insider, but it's still worth noting how different his political profile was not long ago. (Jeff Singer)
• CO-Gov: It's no secret that national Democrats are meddling in the Republican primary: A DGA-aligned group is running ads designed to make former Rep. Bob Beauprez unappealing to conservatives while "attacking" former Rep. Tom Tancredo in a way that actually makes him look good to Republican primary voters. This kind of practice has, of course, been implemented by Democratic campaigns (with varying degrees of success) over the last few years as a way to convince Republicans to nominate a less electable candidate—in this case Tancredo.
While it's usually very clear to political observers what's going on, most Republican primary voters just don't pay enough attention enough to notice. However, a pro-Beauprez group called "Republicans Want to Win" (subtle) is hoping to change that. In their spot, the narrator asks why Democrats are trying to elect Tancredo. The answer: because they know Tancredo can't beat Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper while Beauprez potentially could. Most voters don't think about political strategy much, so there's no guarantee that an entire ad about political machinations will resonate. Still, this is definitely something interesting to watch ahead of the June 24 primary. (Jeff Singer)
• FL-Gov: St. Leo University's new poll finds GOP Gov. Rick Scott leading Democrat Charlie Crist 43-41. Their March poll had Crist up 43-39.
• IL-Gov: A new We Ask America poll for the allegedly non-partisan website Reboot Illinois finds Republican zillionaire Bruce Rauner beating Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn 47-37. WAA's last poll in late April actually had the race tied at 44, but a poll taken a week earlier—which that survey's sponsor admitted was borked—had Rauner up 49-38, so it's hard to get a proper read on whatever's going on here. It's also unclear what Reboot Illinois is all about. The site is financed by "Chicago billionaires" (including a hedge fund manager), and while it claims to be editorially independent, some labor union folks think they have an anti-worker agenda.
• MD-Gov: Doug Gansler just always seems to have his asshole chip switched on, doesn't he?
"People are starting to learn about all of us," Gansler said. "I literally ran into a woman at the subway this morning that didn't know that Delegate Mizeur didn't graduate from college or was a lobbyist for her living and was paying herself out of campaign funds to her lobbying company, which is she and her wife."
Man, he sounds just like David Perdue
! Heather Mizeur's campaign fired right back, calling Gansler's comments "insulting to the 64% of Marylanders without a bachelor's degree" and "out-of-touch and elitist."
What's most interesting, though, is that Gansler is even aiming any fire at Mizeur to begin with, considering that Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown has a wide lead in the Democratic primary, which is less than two weeks away. Gansler may be worried that Mizeur will catch him in the polls, but there are no awards for second place, and if anything, his stupid attacks will only increase her name recognition.
• NM-Gov: Democratic Attorney General Gary King's new spot portrays Republican Susana Martinez as mismanaging the state's economy while promising to "demand that women are paid the same as men when doing the same work."
Martinez's campaign wasted little time in hitting back on the airwaves. The governor has run a mostly positive campaign so far, but her response ad goes after King hard. The narrator first praises Martinez's record before alleging that "King was sued for gender discrimination. Sued for paying women less than men. King tried to belittle the women, saying they were only of 'average capabilities.' But King had to pay up." The New Mexico Telegram explains:
The ad criticizes King for lawsuits by three women alleging that the attorney general's office, under King, paid them less because they were women.
King settled with two of the women but admitted no fault. A third woman went to trial and lost.
The ad also echoes an RGA spot
that called King the state's "worst attorney general ever." Sadly, neither the RGA or Martinez were able to book Comic Book Guy
for a cameo. Martinez has been viewed as the clear favorite to win, so it remains to be seen if the governor and her allies just want to take King out early—or if they think he can make a race out of this. (Jeff Singer)
• OR-Gov: SurveyUSA also has some numbers on the governor's race that are pretty similar to their Senate findings. Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber leads Republican state Rep. Dennis Richardson by a 48-35 margin. PPP had Kitz up 49-36.
• TX-Gov: A new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll finds state Attorney General Greg Abbott leading Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis 44-32 in the governor's race. That's similar to the 47-36 spread UT found in February, albeit with more undecideds now, which is sort of strange.
• AZ-07: Wow is this ever a load of bullshit. A supporter of Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox has filed a lawsuit demanding that state Rep. Ruben Gallego either be forced to appear on the ballot with a surname he discarded years ago, or get kicked off altogether. Gallego, who faces Wilcox in the Democratic primary, has been known as "Gallego" for his entire political career and legally dropped the name "Marinelarena" in 2008. Why? Because it belonged to his father, who abandoned his family when he and his three siblings were young.
Now, it'd be one thing if this were just some crackpot legal case that the campaigns were ignoring, but oh no. Wilcox herself expressed complete approval for the suit:
"I am not trying to push anyone off the ballot, and I am not hiding behind lawsuits filed by others," she continued. "I am openly calling for Mr. Marinelarena or Mr. Marinelarena Gallego to put his legal surname, including his given name Marinelarena, on the ballot, so everyone has the chance to learn about his experiences and who he really is."
She's making it sound like Gallego is trying to hide some shady past, and that's just wrong. But it's a double blunder, because now she's giving Gallego the chance to tell his very sympathetic life story about his hard-working single mother who raised a family under extremely difficult circumstances—and about how he honored her by taking her last name as his own.
The whole story gets much more humiliating for Wilcox, though. No sooner than the suit was filed, it was withdrawn. Wilcox claimed that the legal record of Gallego's name change "was hidden from public view" because it contained an alleged misspelling, but man, what a shabby excuse to bring a lawsuit in the first place! She even keeps referring to him as "Ruben Marinelarena Gallego" in her latest press release, even though that's not his name—and deliberately mis-naming someone when you know better is a deep insult.
But all of this only makes Wilcox look awful. She's done herself no favors here, though she certainly's done one for Gallego.
• FL-26: How many McLaughlins can dance on the head of a robodialler? Reporters everywhere seem fascinated by McLaughlin & Associates one-of-a-kind train wreck, and it seems that any Republican who's ever used the firm is coming under scrutiny (as well they should). Case in point: The Miami Herald just asked Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo, who is running against Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia, about his choice of pollster. Curbelo's response? His polling is being handled by company CEO Jim McLaughlin, not president John McLaughlin. Ohhh! Glad we have that cleared up!
• HI-01: If a more progressive alternative to state Senate President Donna Mercado Kim emerges in the Democratic primary, it might just be state Rep. Mark Takai. Takai's been a close second to Kim in the limited polling we've seen, and now he's secured the endorsement of the Sierra Club, in a state where environmental issues always loom large. The real question is whether Sierra actually spends any money on Takai's behalf, but they've shown a willingness to put up real dollars in other races.
• VA-07: There's still lots more being written about Eric Cantor's surprising defeat, and, maybe more importantly, there's another poll that asked actual voters in the district what they thought. It's from GOP pollster Basswood Research, on behalf of apparently pro-immigration-reform group Americans for a Conservative Direction, so take it with salt as needed. But it largely confirms what PPP found on Tuesday and sheds some additional light on what really drove Cantor's loss.
They find a similar level of support for immigration reform, using almost the same description of the Senate plan as PPP did (which kind of front-loads the "secure the borders" element to make it more palatable for conservative voters): 73 percent favor it, while 19 percent oppose. Even among Dave Brat voters, support runs 69-22. Moreover, only 22 percent of respondents who voted for Brat cited immigration as their main reason for doing so. On what was apparently an open-ended question, the most common responses revolved around notions that Cantor was "too focused on national politics instead of local needs" and had "lost touch with voters," which certainly echoes what our analysis of the race.
FiveThirtyEight's Harry Enten also has a fascinating, much wonkier analysis of the role immigration played, in that it's a good proxy for viewing where a candidate falls on the establishment/anti-establishment axis. It may simply be a quirk related to the small sample Enten explores (he only uses two dozen recent GOP Senate primaries), but he finds that immigration reform support correlates with a less-conservative DW-Nominate first dimension score. And maybe more importantly, it also correlates with a more-establishment-friendly DW-Nominate second dimension score, which in turn correlates with how well Republicans senators have faired in their recent primaries. (The more "establishment" you are, the worse you're likely to fare.)
Cartographic whiz Matthew Isbell also adds some weight to the argument that redistricting isn't what led to Cantor's demise. He updates his post from Wednesday to include an important data point: In the newly-added areas of VA-07 post-redistricting, Cantor got 46 percent, compared to his 44.5 percent score district-wide. In other words, Cantor did better in the new areas than the ones that he also represented in the 2000s.
We've also rounded up some of the more thoughtful reactions to Cantor's loss that came out later on Wednesday, now that the initial rush of deadline-driven "omg!" pieces had faded away. Articles we recommend include those from:
• Sean Trende
, who says that Cantor lost sight of step 1 (get re-elected) in his fixations on steps 2 (get power) and 3 (enact policy);
• Matt Bai, who contrasts Brat's real-talking with Cantor's dry platitudes;
• Sam Stein, who cites Cantor's perception of coziness with big money interests more so than any single ideological heresy;
• Ryan Lizza, who goes even further than Stein, citing Brat's populist, anti-crony-capitalism stance as determinative, going so far as to draw an Elizabeth Warren analogy; and
• Kyle Kondik, who looks at historical examples of greater national exposure eroding politicians' standing back home.
Finally, we're also ready to start looking ahead, and ss Emily Cahn puts it, assuming Brat wins this fall (which he should easily), he'll "start his congressional career with a bull's-eye on his back from fellow Richmond-area Republicans." That means it's already time to start playing Great Mentioner, and Cahn tosses out a trio of names: state Sen. Steve Martin, Del. Peter Farrell, and former Del. Bill Janis. Of course, we're two years off from the next GOP primary, and this list is only likely to grow, but Brat will almost certainly face some kind of opposition the next time he heads before Republican voters. (David Jarman & David Nir)
: American Crossroads continues to try and hang the problems at the VA around vulnerable Democrats. This time they're spending $441,000
in a spot featuring veterans accusing
Democratic Sen. Mark Begich of doing nothing from his perch on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee as veterans suffered.
• MI-Sen: AFSCME ties Republican Terri Lynn Land to the Koch brothers. They go beyond the "New York billionaires suck" attack to actually mention some of the Koch's harmful actions. Most notably, the narrator accuses them of dumping toxic chemicals, threatening the Great Lakes and contaminating homes.
• NC-Sen: American Crossroads attacks Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan over a certain something. I'll give you a hint: if you reverse it, it spells out eracamabo.
• AZ-02: Republican Martha McSally emphasizes her military background in her first ad and argues she is "ready to lead." There is also a Spanish edition of the same ad with a narrator delivering the message rather than McSally. For anyone looking to learn Spanish from House campaign ads, this is your lucky day.
• MI-07: The Sierra Club targets Republican Rep. Tim Walberg over his opposition to a wind production tax credit. The narrator frames this as a vote against creating Michigan jobs rather than a vote against the environment, which is probably the correct strategy in this Republican leaning seat. The narrator also makes two wind puns, neither of which are funny. There's no word on the size of the buy, but Sierra says the ad "will air more than 5,000 times throughout June on broadcast and cable channels."
• NY-22: Republican Rep. Richard Hanna is one of the very few genuine moderates in the House Republican caucus. With Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney challenging him from the right in the June 24 primary, it's no surprise Hanna is trying to shore up his weak spots before it's too late. In a new ad, Hanna extolls his conservative virtues by emphasizing the national debt, his support for a balanced budget amendment, and his opposition to Obamacare.
• President-by-LD: Today we roll out presidential election results by legislative district for Tennessee and Kentucky. While the two states are demographically similar and have both become reliably red in presidential elections, their state legislatures look quite different. (As always, you can find our master list of data here.)
We have Tennessee's 2012 statewide results broken down by state House, state Senate, and congressional district. Tennessee Democrats won a majority in the House as recently as 2006, and were still able to stay in power after 2008 when they made renegade Republican Kent Williams the speaker.
However, the 2010 red wave turned a nominal Republican edge into a hefty majority, and redistricting has only strengthened their hold. Republicans currently hold a 71-27 supermajority, with former Speaker Williams serving as an independent. Mitt Romney's 59-39 statewide win gave him 78 of the House's 99 districts. Six Democrats are left in Romney seats: John Windle represents the most conservative one, at 66-32 Romney. No Tennessee Republicans sit in Obama seats, but it's not like they need to.
The state Senate elected a tiny Republican majority after 2006, but, as in the House, it's ballooned into a 26-7 supermajority. Two Democrats are left in Romney seats but both are retiring and will be very tough holds.
We also have the results calculated by the 2012 U.S. Senate race. Republican Sen. Bob Corker was never in any real danger but Democrats were still embarrassed when conservative activist Mark Clayton won the nomination. Corker won 65-35, carrying 82 House seats, 28 Senate seats, and eight of the state's nine Congressional districts.
Kentucky offers a stark contrast. The state redrew its state House and Senate seats in 2013 after the two chambers could not agree on a map for the 2012 elections. We have the results calculated for the new state House and state Senate districts. Because no one has been elected under the new map, we haven't assigned any seats to any sitting legislators.
Democrats have controlled the Kentucky House since the early 1920s. Their majority has been declining over the last few years, and they currently have a small 54-46 edge. On paper the chamber should be ripe for a Republican takeover this year: Romney's 60-38 statewide win netted him 82 of the chamber's 100 districts. However, that won't necessarily translate into a Republican majority. Team Red managed to leave 17 Democratic incumbents unopposed in Romney districts. The reddest seat that Republicans won't contest is HD-84, which Romney carried by an insane 80-19 margin. Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear's popularity may also be able to keep his party in power a bit longer.
The state Senate is another story. Republicans took control in 2000 and currently hold a 23-14 majority. Beshear made a serious effort to flip the chamber by appointing several Republican senators to state jobs, giving Democrats the chance to take their seats in a series of special elections several years ago. While Democrats got close to their goal, the 2010 elections wiped out their gains. Romney won 33 of the 38 new Senate seats. While Kentucky Democrats have proven to be a resilient bunch, it's hard to see them making another serious run at the Senate anytime soon. (Jeff Singer)