• LA-Gov: The early voting period for Louisiana's runoff election ended on Saturday, and 257,021 people have voted early, a 9.5 percent increase compared to October's jungle primary. Notably, the state's official early voting statistics, released Sunday, showed that early voting rose disproportionately in parishes in which Democrat John Bel Edwards is expected to do well.
Turnout also went up among registered Democrats and among African-Americans. The share of the early voting electorate who are registered Democrats is 52.6 percent. That's significantly higher from early voting in both the primary (50.6 percent) and in the 2014 Senate runoff (49 percent). Meanwhile, the share of the black vote stands at 29.7 percent, up from 27.7 percent in the primary and 28 percent in the 2014 runoff. (However, the share of the black vote in the early voting electorate for the November 2014 Senate jungle primary was 33 percent.)
But these numbers all come with a big warning label attached: early voting statistics should not be used to predict results. For one thing, we don't know how many early voters would have just voted on Election Day, and we also don't know how many are showing up now when they stayed home last time.
More importantly, they shed absolutely no light on whether Edwards is getting enough crossover support from Republicans, or whether he's improving on Democrat Mary Landrieu's performance among white voters last year-two things, among many, he will need to do to win the runoff. That said, early voting statistics can at least warn a party that it is facing a turnout problem, and based on these numbers, there is good reason for Democrats to believe that their voters are not staying home. For a detailed look at all the data, check out Taniel's comprehensive analysis.
• LA-Sen: If David Vitter loses his bid for governor on Saturday, he could still conceivably seek re-election to the Senate next year, though he'd be in terribly weak shape. In the Democrats' dream scenario, Vitter would somehow once again limp to a spot in the runoff against a credible Democratic opponent-much like he did this year. That's probably why New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who had been the party's most sought-after gubernatorial candidate this year, wouldn't rule out a Senate campaign next year, though he says he wants to wait until the current election is over before he even considers the idea.
Still, it's a triple bank shot: Vitter would have to lose this week, then decide he wants to stay in the Senate after all, and then emerge as the top Republican in the primary in order for Democrats to even have a chance. Under any other set of circumstances, the GOP would be heavily favored to retain this seat.
• DE-Gov: Delaware hasn't elected a Republican governor since 1988, and it doesn't look like 2016 will be Team Red's lucky year. State Sen. Colin Bonini confirms that his internal poll shows him losing to likely Democratic nominee John Carney 46-25, and admits that he's considering moving to the lieutenant governor's race. Bonini is the only credible Republican running for governor, and it's unlikely that the GOP will find anyone better if he bails.
• LA-Gov: Two new polls of Saturday's runoff don't disagree much with the bulk of the data that's already out there. In a disastrously formatted PDF that makes the National Weather Service's emergency alerts look well-designed, Market Research Insight finds Democrat John Bel Edwards up 53-38 over Republican David Vitter. JMC Analytics, meanwhile, offers a very similar 54-38 margin for Edwards.
We've talked repeatedly about how we're having a hard time trusting Louisiana polls, and MRI's survey illustrates our discomfort. It might seem like a small thing to pick on, but the firm's release is just so shoddily put together that it's hard to believe any serious outfit could be behind it. More substantively, MRI bizarrely also included three sets of horserace numbers: 1) an unweighted version, where black voters are just 8 percent of the sample; 2) an "adjusted" model, where they constitute 20 percent; and 3) a further adjusted version, where they're at 26 percent. This is not only overkill, it's also almost certainly wrong, as 26 percent African American turnout would be unusually low, and also isn't forecast by the early voting numbers.
So again we say, we would not be surprised in the least if all the public polling turns out to be wrong, perhaps very badly so.
For his part, Vitter is doubling down on his "I'm not a complete asshole!" ad strategy for the final week of the campaign. Vitter's new ad stars his young son Jack, who tells the viewer that Vitter is a great dad and will be "an awesome governor." We also learn the name of Jack's dog and disappointingly, it's not Checkers.
The pro-charter school group the Louisiana Federation for Children is also wading in for Team Red. Their spot stars an African American mother who tells Edwards, "Shame on you for taking away my kids' chance at a bright future." Edwards himself goes positive, focusing on oil and gas. The GOP has been trying to link Edwards with Obama by hitting him on the 2010 oil-drilling moratorium that the Obama administration temporally put in place during the BP oil spill. The narrator pushes back by reminding viewers that Edwards "voted to end the drilling moratorium."
• CA-17: One of the most worrying signs for Democratic Rep. Mike Honda's re-election chances is the string of elected officials who either backed him or stayed neutral in last year's race but have now sided with the man who's waging a rematch against the incumbent, fellow Democrat Ro Khanna. The latest is California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who endorsed Honda in 2014 but just gave his support to Khanna. No one's said it out loud, but it seems that the ongoing House Ethics Committee inquiry into whether Honda improperly used government resources for political work may be undermining his standing with the establishment. Honda's narrow 52-48 escape in 2014 might also have people questioning his political strength. Whatever the cause, though, Honda's campaign is not looking hale.
• OH-08: While West Chester Twp. Trustee Lee Wong started assembling a team for a possible bid last month, Wong has announced that he won't run. Wong indicated that if he ran, he'd focus on undocumented immigration: We'll see if another Republican picks up the baton now that he's out. The filing deadline for this safely red seat is Dec. 16.
• PA-07: Democrats didn't field any strong candidates against Republican Rep. Pat Meehan during the last two cycles, but Team Blue hopes that this time will be different. Pastor Bill Golderer recently kicked off his bid for this 50-49 Romney seat, and he has an interesting story. Golderer founded a church that he says emphasizes on helping the needy. Golderer also helped revitalize another congregation that had fallen on hard times: The church now has a pre-school that serves both families that can pay and ones that can't.
The Philadelphia Inquirer says that the DCCC recruited Golderer, though they haven't endorsed him. Golderer will face 24-year old Lindy Li in the primary, and Li has a non-trivial $249,000 on hand. But Meehan has $2 million in the bank, and he won't be easy to beat in an area where Republicans are strong downballot.
• TX-15: Potential Democratic candidates are starting to express interest in this open Rio Grande Valley seat. Hidalgo County Commissioner Joseph Palacios, Hidalgo County Democratic Party Chair Ricardo Godinez, and Edinburg City Manager Ramiro Garza all are keeping their names in contention. Garza ran in the neighboring 34th District in 2012 and took third place with 12 percent, narrowly missing the runoff. Godinez also says that Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez and ex-Hidalgo County Commissioner Joel Quintanilla have also talked about running, though neither of them has said anything publicly.
A number of other Democrats could also run here, including ex-state Rep. Veronica Gonzales; state Rep. state Mando Martinez; District Court Judge Rose Guerra Reyna; and Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez. Obama won this seat 57-42, so it should stay blue with presidential turnout. The filing deadline is Dec. 14, so things will take shape soon.
• Census: It's a shame the Census gets treated as a political football, but that's what happens with anything that requires a lot of governmental spending. That's especially true when more spending means the discovery of more people of color and/or people living in poverty, which in turn means the areas where those people live get a fairer share of the nation's economic development funds, and get a larger slice of the pie during the next redistricting process as well. Racial minorities and people in poverty can be harder to track down and less responsive to mail inquiries, though, which requires more face-to-face contacts … which requires more enumerators, who cost more money to employ.
Gary Bass and Adrien Schless-Meier, writing for the American Prospect, outline activists' worries about proposed cuts to the Census in House appropriations bills. The Census Bureau isn't fighting the cuts, though, as much as they're trying to implement new technologies to cut costs, moving more toward a mostly-electronic, online Census in 2020. Skeptics doubt, however, whether the Census will have the time in the remaining five years to successfully transition to the new model, especially since budget cuts are already hampering their efforts to test the new field models. And although enumerators will hopefully have better tools on their smartphones that let fewer door-to-door workers accomplish more, one additional worry is that the new computerized system, which may be laboring under eight times the volume of input as Healthcare.gov, won't be able to handle the influx of data.
This all leads to concerns that 2020 will see much larger undercounts than we had in 2000 and 2010, which saw significant improvement toward counting everyone, compared with previous generations of censuses. Even in 2010, probably the most thorough Census ever, there are still estimates that they missed 2.1 percent of African Americans and 1.5 percent of Latinos (compared with a likely overcount of whites, largely because of people who own multiple homes submitting multiple forms).
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.