Louisiana GOP Sen. David Vitter
• LA-Gov: While state Rep. John Bel Edwards looks like a longshot to win this fall's gubernatorial contest in dark red Louisiana, a new poll is arguing that he has what it takes to turn the governor's mansion blue. On behalf of Gumbo PAC, PPP takes a look at a hypothetical Nov. 21 runoff between Edwards and GOP Sen. David Vitter and gives Edwards a shockingly strong 50-38 lead. Vitter posts a horrible 34-51 favorable rating while Edwards is on positive ground at 35-27.
PPP also finds Edwards competitive against two other Republicans, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle: Edwards is tied 40-40 with Angelle and trails Dardenne just 42-40. But according to this survey, a Vitter-Edwards runoff is the most likely outcome. In the Oct. 24 jungle primary, PPP sees Edwards and Vitter taking the first and second place spots with 28 and 27 percent of the vote respectively, while Angelle and Dardenne are far behind with 15 and 14 percent. Most other polls concur, showing Vitter and Edwards easily advancing to the runoff, but a few have seen Angelle within striking distance of denying one of them a spot in November.
An Edwards victory would be nothing short of miraculous: Louisiana booted three-term Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu 56-44 just last year, and Edwards hasn't been raising nearly as much money as any of his GOP foes. But as with any surprise poll, there are a lot of caveats. We haven't seen many runoff polls here in a long time, so there's not much to compare to. In fact, you have to go all the back to June to find such a survey, when Republican pollster MarblePort gave Vitter a 50-38 advantage on Edwards. Gumbo PAC markets itself as a non-partisan anti-Vitter group, but it's run by a former state Democratic Party executive director, so they have an incentive to show that Team Blue is still alive and kicking on the bayou.
One other problem for Edwards is that his positive image with voters is due to the fact that no one's bothered to attack him yet. Right now, Vitter is blasting his two Republican rivals and they've hit back, but the GOP has left Edwards alone. Team Red's contenders believe that they'll have a better shot in a runoff against Edwards than against a fellow Republican, so it's in their collective interest to leave Edwards be for now. But in a November runoff, we can count on the GOP spending big to link Edwards to Obama, who has never been popular in the Pelican State.
One other thing worth looking at is the contrast between the jungle primary numbers and the hypothetical runoffs. In the primary, the three Republicans take a combined 56 percent of the vote while Edwards only reaches 28. But in the head-to-head runoff matchups, Edwards manages to takes at least 40 percent against both Angelle and Dardenne, and, of course, 50 against Vitter. Why would so many voters express support for Republicans in the primary but go soft in the runoff? There's no good explanation for that. Put another way, if Vitter makes it to the second round, Edwards will need Angelle and Dardenne backers to switch to him instead of staying with the GOP. That'll be extremely difficult.
If Democrats are going to score a win in November, they'll need Edwards to face a damaged Republican. The last few weeks have been dominated by questions about Vitter's 2007 prostitution scandal, so Team Blue may very well get their wish. But Edwards is also going to need to prove that he can do what even the once-formidable Landrieu couldn't do and hold on after the GOP tries to turn the contest into a referendum on national politics. PPP's survey offers a ray of hope, but even if it's accurate now, a lot will change by the runoff.
• NC-Sen: Former state Rep. Deborah Ross, who's been publicly mulling a Senate bid since last month, just quit her job as in-house counsel to the regional transit agency in the Raleigh-Durham area in order to focus on whether or not to run for office. That's a pretty extreme step to take if you're not going to go through with it, but Ross didn't offer any sort of timetable as to when she expects to make up her mind. If Ross does go for it, she'd be the second Democrat in the race, after Spring Lake Mayor Chris Rey, who recently announced his candidacy against GOP Sen. Richard Burr.
• KY-Gov: Democrat Jack Conway is out with six 15-second spots and they have one common theme: Republican Matt Bevin is a lying liar who lies. The first three commercials feature Bevin taking contradictory stances on education, the farm bill, and healthcare, with the narrator concluding at the end of each, "[t]hat's why Republicans call Matt Bevin a 'pathological liar.'" The next three hit Bevin on his taxes, his resume, and his presence at a 2014 rally to legalize cock fighting. Kentucky Democrats have been portraying Bevin as dishonest all summer, while the GOP has been tying Conway to the Obama administration. Unfortunately, there have been very few polls here, so we don't know which line of attack is gaining traction.
• NC-Gov: Elon University takes another look at this contest and gives GOP incumbent Pat McCrory a 43-42 lead against Democrat Roy Cooper, almost the same as what they found in April. PPP has been regularly polling here and they also see a tight contest.
• UT-Gov: It's hard to see how rich guy Jonathan Johnson topples Gov. Gary Herbert in next year's GOP primary, and Dan Jones & Associates doesn't give Johnson any reason for optimism. They give Herbert a 59 to 15 edge with Utahans; that's not the same as GOP primary voters, though Herbert has a wider 74 to 11 lead with just voters who identify as Republicans.
• VT-Gov: The left-wing Vermont Progressive Party has made it no secret that they're not very happy with the Democratic field, and they've threatened to run their own candidate in the general. The Progressive's most formidable contender would likely be state Sen. Anthony Pollina, who took 22 percent of the vote in 2008. Pollina initially appeared interested in running in the Democratic primary, but it sounds like if he runs statewide next year, it will be as a Progressive.
However, Pollina doesn't seem very excited about another campaign. While he tells VTDigger that he hasn't ruled out a run, he says he's happy in the legislature: Pollina even suggested Burlington Councilor Jane Knodell could run for the Progressives instead (she quickly declined). Pollina does sound more attuned to political realities than many third-party contenders, noting that a Progressive bid could hand the governor's mansion to Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, and that the party should only run "someone who has a good chance of winning," rather than just fielding "a candidate to fill a slot." If Pollina declines to go for it, the Progressives don't have many other viable options.
• WI-Gov: Normally, we wouldn't spend time on a race that's over three years away, but these are some special circumstances. Wisconsin, it turns out, is one of the few states without gubernatorial term limits, which means that Scott Walker, who just concluded one of the shortest presidential campaigns in modern history, could very well choose to run for a third term in 2018. Given how far off that is, Walker unsurprisingly hasn't made any public decision yet, but he's not ruling it out. It's possible Walker's abortive White House bid might have tainted him in the eyes of some Badger State voters, but it could also be long forgotten by the time the next election rolls around.
• CA-07: The GOP is still searching for a viable candidate to take on Democratic Rep. Ami Bera in this swing seat, and an interesting new name has emerged. Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones told the Elk Grove News that unidentified people have approached him, and he didn't rule anything out. The 7th is entirely contained within Sacramento County, so Jones wouldn't need to worry about name recognition if he gets in. Ex-Rep. Doug Ose, who narrowly lost to Bera last year, also hasn't ruled out anther try.
• DE-AL: State Rep. Bryon Short has been looking at this seat for a while, and he kicked off his bid on Thursday. Short joins state Sen. Bryan Townsend in the Democratic primary for this open seat, and several other First State Democrats are considering jumping in as well.
• IA-01: Cedar Rapids City Councilwoman Monica Vernon just earned her fifth union endorsement, and this time, it comes from the regional branch of the Laborers' International Union, which backed her top primary rival, former state House Speaker Pat Murphy, two years ago. Vernon, Murphy, and a third Democrat, ad exec Gary Kroeger, are vying for the right to take on freshman GOP Rep. Rod Blum.
• PA-02: That didn't take long: Lower Merion Township Commissioner Brian Gordon has announced that he will oppose indicted Rep. Chaka Fattah in the Democratic primary. One big issue for Commissioner Gordon is that his small white Montgomery County constituency is quite different from the rest of this predominantly African American Philadelphia seat. Gordon joins Philadelphia ward leader Dan Muroff in the race, and there's a real chance that both men could split the anti-Fattah vote enough to secure victory for the incumbent.
There may also be another challenger before too long: NewsWorks notes that there's increasing speculation that state Rep. Dwight Evans will get in, and Evans didn't respond to questions about his plans. Evans, who has run for mayor before, is well-known especially in Northwestern Philadelphia, and unlike Muroff and Gordon, Evans is black. State Rep. Brian Sims has also been mentioned as a possible candidate, and he hasn't said anything about his plans.
• TX-19: It's been about a week since Rep. Randy Neugebauer announced his retirement, and things are slowly taking shape in this safely red seat. Col. Michael Bob Starr, who is stationed at the local Dyess Air Force Base, says he plans to retire Nov. 1 "with the intent of running for Congress." Attorney Allen Adkins is also expressing interest, telling the Texas Tribune that he's "looking at it hard, leaning toward doing it."
Tom Sell, who is business partners with former local Rep. Larry Combest, has also confirmed that he's "actively exploring" a run. Lubbock County GOP Chairman Carl Tepper and Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson also said on Tuesday that they'll need about two weeks to decide, while former George W. Bush aide and ex-Texas Tech Vice Chancellor Jodey Arrington has promised to announce his plans soon.
A few other Republicans have taken their name out of contention. State Rep. John Frullo and businesswoman Cathy Landtroop both said no, while Susan King doesn't sound interested in halting her planned state Senate campaign to run here instead.
• Indianapolis, IN Mayor: It's been a while since we've checked in on this fall's open seat race, and a Democratic pickup looks as likely as ever. Democrat Joe Hogsett is out with his eighth TV ad, while underfunded Republican Chuck Brewer is only planning to go on the air this week. Brewer has the support of popular outgoing Mayor Greg Ballard, but it doesn't look like it'll be enough in what's usually a reliably Democratic city.
• Demographics: It's kind of iffy whether the trend of millennials moving to the cities is panning out (it seemed real in the years immediately after the financial crisis, but has tapered off, apparently). But the Washington Post's Wonkblog looks at the newest round of 2014 Census data and finds that the trend of whites moving to cities is certainly happening, with the large majority of major cities seeing growth among white residents. The media tend to visualize "millennials" as white hipsters, but bear in mind that the millennial generation is the least-white adult generation the nation has ever seen, and non-white millennials are increasingly living in the suburbs. Also, "whites" encompasses another trend, of empty-nester baby boomers ditching their now-too-large suburban houses and heading back to the city.
The article focuses on Detroit (the pipeline of creative-class refugees moving from Brooklyn to Detroit has become so well-known that even the New York Times is on it). Detroit, however, still lags a number of other cities in terms of number of new white residents between 2010 and 2014; high-tech hubs like Austin and Seattle lead the way, but they're followed by a number of smaller regional powerhouses like Nashville and Omaha. There are only five major cities that lost significant white population during that time: two old-school cities that may still be losing population overall (Philadelphia and Cleveland), and three Sun Belt cities with limited appeal to the creative class (Tulsa, Tucson, and Sacramento).
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir and Jeff Singer, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, and Stephen Wolf.