• LA-Sen: So not only has the partisan split in the early vote gone very much against Mary Landrieu (fewer Democrats and more Republicans have cast ballots ahead of Saturday's runoff, compared with the November primary), but the state of Louisiana also collects demographic information about who's voted as well. As Philip Bump visualizes (working off data compiled by Scott Bland), the runoff electorate is also whiter and more male—exactly what Landrieu doesn't want to see.
The DSCC long ago wrote off this race, cancelling their ad reservations, and the NRSC quickly followed suit. All the polling we've seen has put Bill Cassidy up by double digits, and though it's been entirely Republican or Rasmussen-flavored, considering GOP polls undershot this year, is that fact really going to give anyone hope? All of this leads us to conclude that we have no choice but to induct Landrieu as a member of the Tom Corbett Club for Dead-Duck Incumbents. As such, we're moving our rating on this race from Likely Republican to Safe Republican.
• NC-Sen, VA-Sen: An interesting post from math-blogger Brian Hayes looks specifically at the North Carolina and Virginia Senate races, but really, it's more generally applicable to all aspects of the gerrymandering debate and the role polarization and geographical self-sorting play. He created histograms showing the percentage of Republican votes in all precincts, and it's certainly not a normal-looking Gaussian distribution (and it's even further away from being a standard bimodal distribution).
Instead, in both states, Hayes finds lopsided curves that top out with the modal (or most frequent) number leaning toward the GOP side of the graph, with a fat tail leading off onto the Democratic side of the graph. In other words, even though these are states that are near 50-50 when considered as a whole, the majority of precincts have a significant Republican majority (with the mode around the 60-65 percent Republican mark), while the Democratic population is sequestered in a smaller number of dark-blue precincts with just 20 or 30 percent Republican shares.
Remember, we aren't talking about gerrymandered districts here, but about precincts, the most fundamental building block ... which means that any map starts out tilted in the Republicans' favor, even before any gerrymandering further consolidates their position. Click through to see the fascinating graphics.
• OH-Sen: On Tuesday, Sen. Rob Portman became the first notable would-be Republican contender to say no to a presidential bid. He will, however, run for re-election to the Senate in 2016, meaning that slim Democratic hopes for an open seat in Ohio will be dashed. But while Portman looks very strong to win a second term, it would be foolish to write this race off early, especially since Democrats have carried the Buckeye State in the last two presidential elections.
What's more, as community member Avenginggecko observes, Mark Warner was an "indomitable titan" in Virginia politics yet barely survived last month, while Joni Ernst, a "crazy, paranoid conspiracy theorist tea partier" whom no one had heard of at this point in 2012, will soon represent Iowa in the Senate. A lot can change between now and Nov. 2016, and some things definitely will.
• Chicago Mayor: A new poll of Chicago's February mayoral race conducted by David Binder Research (on behalf of a "national labor organization") finds incumbent Rahm Emanuel at 44 while Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia takes 16 and Alderman Bob Fioretti 15. That lead's a good bit wider for Rahm than the 33-18 advantage he had over Garcia in a recent Lake Research poll sponsored by a pro-Garcia union, but these latest results still show the race headed to an April runoff since Emanuel can't clear 50 percent.
In a hypothetical second round, though, Rahm would start off ahead of Garcia by a 49-37 margin, though the race has scarcely begun and Emanuel only started advertising on TV within the last week or so (all positive so far). Still, that's awfully close to the 50 percent mark. (Lake, by contrast, had Emanuel ahead just 36-31.) But both Garcia and Fioretti have little name recognition, whereas everybody knows Rahm. He has $10 million in his coffers, but these kinds of numbers don't reflect any sort of broad popularity. It'll take a lot for Garcia, who is the better-positioned challenger, to knock Emanuel off, but it's not out of the question.
• PA State Senate: One legislative chamber where Democrats were playing some offense but wound up losing seats this year was the Pennsylvania's Senate, where they lost a couple districts in the exurban counties that ring Pittsburgh (one incumbent, one open seat). Louis Jacobson, moonlighting for PoliticsPA, takes an in-depth look at what happened in southwest Pennsylvania (even as Pittsburgh itself keeps getting bluer).
Really, it's not a surprising story, similar to what's happening in white working-class areas around the nation. However, the trends seem amplified here simply because SW PA, similar to next-door West Virginia, used to be so blue as recently as the 1980s. A lot of it revolves around cultural issues, as well as energy-sector growth in the area with Marcellus Shale drilling, but it also has to do with labor's declining strength here (not just in terms of numbers of members, but also in terms of how the remaining unions have gotten less one-sidedly Democratic in orientation).
• 2014 & 2016: Over the weekend, David Jarman offered two retrospective pieces on the midterm elections, one focusing on the biggest electoral themes of the cycle, and the other looking at some of the most interesting races and why they turned out the way they did. Meanwhile, Steve Singiser turned his gaze ahead to 2016 and compiled an early list of Democratic targets in both the Senate and House. The most vulnerable GOP freshman in the lower chamber? Steve picks Nevada Rep.-elect Cresent Hardy. Click through to find out why.
• WATN?: You might know Harris Wofford for his brief time as Pennsylvania's Senator in the 1990s, including his special election surprise victory over Dick Thornburgh that presaged Democratic strengths in 1992 (and his equally zeitgeist-y loss to Rick Santorum in 1994). Well, Jason Zengerle has an interesting profile of Wofford's peripatetic life before that, turning up Zelig-style at world-changing events, sometimes in the company of figures like John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir and Jeff Singer, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Taniel, and Dreaminonempty.
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