New Hampshire GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte
• NH-Sen: The first worthwhile independent poll of New Hampshire's Senate race in many months comes from Marist, which finds GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte leading Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan by a 50-42 margin. That's a big shift from February, when Marist had Hassan up 48-44, but it's also close to where a pair of Republican pollsters (Tarrance and Fabrizio Lee) have recently seen the race.
It's temping to conclude that Hassan's been hurt by her ongoing budget fight with Republicans in the legislature, who are dragging things out as long as possible to dirty up Hassan and keep her out of the Senate game. That's true, but incomplete as explanations go, because Hassan still has a very positive job approval rating of 57-35. That's down from her astronomical 70-24 score in February, but most pols would kill to have a +22. (Ayotte wasn't tested.)
It's also typical for high-profile politicians to suffer when dealing with protracted legislative wars, only to see their numbers rebound once they're over. Thom Tillis in North Carolina is a good example: He had not one but two drawn-out budget battles with his fellow lawmakers over the course of his campaign last cycle but ultimately recovered from both to beat Sen. Kay Hagan.
Hassan still hasn't committed to a bid—she just reiterated that she does not "have a timetable"—and it would be natural if these polls gave her some pause. But if the old saw about public opinion surveys being mere "snapshots in time" ever meant anything, it's in cases like these.
• FL-Sen: Mason-Dixon has polled both primaries in Florida's open Senate race, and there's no frontrunner on either side. Rep. Alan Grayson edges fellow Rep. Patrick Murphy 33-32 for the Democrats, a shift from Murphy's 23-14 lead back in April but right in line with all other recent polling showing a close race. Should Rep. Gwen Graham, who has not ruled out the contest, get in as well, she'd take equally from both: Murphy would be at 26, Grayson at 24, and Graham at 11. While conventional wisdom suggests Graham might hurt Murphy more since they occupy a similar space both ideologically and stylistically, it's too early and everyone is too little-known for those kinds of fine-tuned clashes to play out.
The GOP field is in even greater flux:
• David Jolly: 16
• Carlos Lopez-Cantera: 10
• Ron DeSantis: 9
• Jeff Miller: 8
• Todd Wilcox: 2
Jolly, DeSantis, and Miller are all congressmen, Carlos Lopez-Cantera is Florida's lieutenant governor, and Wilcox is a little-known businessman who may or may not be able to self-fund. The results are fairly similar to a recent survey
from St. Pete Polls, which also had Jolly out in front and everyone else generally in the same positions you see here.
But can Jolly, very much a "moderate" by the standards of today's Republican Party, remain the leader? Right now, he's likely benefitting from his higher name recognition, thanks to the high-profile special election he won last year. But it's very hard to win a GOP primary with a profile like Jolly's, even with a split field. Yet it seems like he's going to try: Not only was Jolly the only Florida Republican (and one of just 18 overall) to vote in favor of lifting travel restrictions to Cuba earlier this year, Adam Smith reports that his wife visited the island earlier this year.
Even though the ground is shifting from under them, traditional Florida Republicans still cling to very reactionary views on Cuba—witness Marco Rubio's presidential campaign rhetoric. Jolly's taking a big risk in defying a tradition that dates back to the day Fidel Castro took power; if he somehow succeeds, it'll truly signal a new day in Sunshine State politics.
• MD-Sen: We're still waiting on a trio of Maryland House Democrats to decide once and for all whether they'll run for the state's open Senate seat, and one of them finally seems to be getting a little closer. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger says he'll make up his mind "by September" and says he's polled the contest recently. But he still sounds very apprehensive, saying "I have the same anxiety I had when I was asked to run for governor." (Ruppersberger's name came up for that office last cycle but he declined to go for it.)
Nevertheless, he'd have a potential geographic edge if he ran, since he's from the Baltimore area while the two candidates already in the race, Reps. Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards, are from suburban D.C. That same regional advantage is what another would-be contender, Rep. Elijah Cummings, would also hope to exploit, while Rep. John Delaney would probably rely on his personal wealth. Former NAACP president Ben Jealous could also run, though he said back in March that he's waiting to see what Cummings does; it's also possible that another former NAACP chief, ex-Rep. Kweisi Mfume, could go for it, though he's never publicly expressed interest. But while everyone waits, Van Hollen has amassed an impressive $3.5 million war chest.
• KY-05: Veteran GOP Rep. Hal Rogers occupies a plum post as head of the House Appropriations Committee, but thanks to Republican rules that limit chairmanships to three terms, he'll have to step down if he's re-elected to a 19th term in Congress next year. The 77-year-old Rogers recently told Roll Call that he won't seek a waiver that would give him one more term at the gavel, and when asked if he'd be satisfied with serving instead as a subcommittee chair, he answered "Sure."
That doesn't sound like a very enthusiastic response, and his own spokesperson wasn't much more emphatic, saying only that Rogers "is not considering retiring." That might as well read that he is considering retiring, since if you're not gonna bail, you can just say, "I'm seeking re-election" and put to rest all doubts. But Rogers hasn't done that, so keep him on your retirement watch list for now. If he does quit, though, all the action to replace him will be on the GOP side: This coal country seat went for Mitt Romney by a lopsided 75-23 margin.
• NY-24: Syracuse University professor Eric Kingson filed with the FEC a little while ago, and he's now announced that he'll challenge freshman Republican John Katko. Kingston has been active in national campaigns to protect Social Security so he may have some connections, but national Democrats aren't particularly excited about him. However, no other Democrats have made any noises about taking on Katko yet.
• PA-08: This is a bit unexpected. According to an unnamed "Democratic aide with close ties to the DCCC," PoliticsPA says that local and national Democrats are trying to urge state Rep. Steve Santarsiero to drop out of the primary for Pennsylvania's open 8th Congressional District. Santarsiero faces a battle with businesswoman Shaughnessy Naughton, but if you'd expect the D-Trip to try to shove anyone out of the race, you'd figure it would be Naughton, seeing as the committee supported her primary opponent when she first ran for this seat last year.
But Naughton outraised Santarsiero last quarter, $179,000 to just $116,000, and PoliticsPA says that Santarsiero's fundraising is the DCCC's chief cause of concern. However, Pennsylvania Democrats haven't had much luck in trying to arrange primaries to their liking this cycle, seeing how their attempts to shove Joe Sestak's Senate bid off the face of the earth only hardened his resolve.
What's more, assuming this was at least a semi-authorized link and that PoliticsPA's source isn't simply cracking out of turn, it means that whatever pressure Democratic power-brokers have brought to bear on Santarsiero so far has failed to achieve its desired effect. In other words, if you have to go public with this kind of thing, it means your private efforts aren't working. Of course, this could just be someone freelancing, but it's noteworthy that the DCCC has declined to comment.
• FL State Senate: While the recent state Supreme Court ruling that struck down Florida's congressional map for failing to comply with the state's Fair Districts amendments applies to that map only, the precedent it set could impact an upcoming trial over the current lines for the state Senate. The case, brought by several of the same plaintiffs (including the League of Women Voters and Common Cause), will be heard starting on Sept. 28, and in light of the decision on the federal map, the judge overseeing the Senate dispute sounds inclined toward a redraw. ("Both dishes," he said at a recent hearing, "came into the same kitchen.")
That would, as Mary Ellen Klas explains, throw things into chaos. Not only could a majority of the Senate's 40 districts get revamped, but every single seat might get put up for re-election next year, even though half the body was just elected to four-year terms last fall. Democrats are in a deep 26-14 minority, so they'd relish the chance for fresh elections for the entire chamber in a presidential year.
• Nashville Mayor: Well, this is different. Until now, we've only seen polls from various candidates running in the Aug. 6 non-partisan primary, and they've almost always shown real estate tycoon Bill Freeman easily taking first place. However, a GBA Strategies survey for Tennessee Laborers PAC shows a tight three-way battle for the two runoff spots:
• Councilor Megan Barry: 20
• Former Metro Nashville School Board Chairman David Fox: 19
• Real estate executive Bill Freeman: 18
• Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk Howard Gentry: 11
• Attorney Charles Robert Bone: 9
• Businesswoman Linda Eskind Rebrovick: 7
• Charter school founder Jeremy Kane: 3
Tennessee Laborers PAC hasn't endorsed a candidate, but they've backed Megan Barry in the past. The Tennessean
's Joey Garrison notes that this survey was conducted before voters found out that David Fox's brother was financing a super PAC that produced a nasty ad against
Linda Eskind Rebrovick. Fox apologized for the spot and claimed he had no idea who was behind the super PAC.
Meanwhile, Charles Robert Bone hasn't gotten too much good news during this campaign, but he got a useful endorsement on Monday as Al Gore made a rare foray into local politics. Early voting has been going on for a while so Gore's backing may not move many voters, especially since most polls find Bone trailing badly.
• Philadelphia Mayor: In a city as blue as Philadelphia, the winner of the Democratic primary usually has little trouble winning the general election, and it doesn't look like this year will be any different. Former Democratic Councilor Bill Green had made some noises about running for mayor as an independent, but Philadelphia Magazine tells us that Green is now eyeing a return to the city council instead. In any case, it's almost impossible to see anyone giving Democratic nominee Jim Kenney a hard time in November.
• Democrats: In a welcome move, the state Democratic Parties in both Georgia and Connecticut recently decided to drop Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson from their namesake "Jefferson-Jackson" fundraising dinners. Those events have long been a staple of the Democratic circuit across the country, but since both men were slaveholders—and Jackson was the author of the notorious Trail of Tears—they're pretty problematic to hold up as totems. What's more, it's hard to find much kinship between the ideology of today's Democratic Party and either Jefferson or Jackson.
A Georgia spokeswoman says that about three-quarters of the states no longer use the Jefferson-Jackson moniker. Some, like Missouri, are reverting to local heroes (Harry Truman in the Show Me State's case), while others, such as Florida, are going with anodyne names like "Leadership Blue." It's difficult if not impossible to find an ideal standard-bearer, but Democrats can do better than J-J, and it's good to see that they are.
• Demographics: You've probably seen stories recently on the state of financial disarray in Puerto Rico, both within its government and its private sector. One side-effect is that an increasing number of Puerto Ricans are moving to the mainland to seek better-paying, more-stable employment. While around 11,000 Puerto Ricans moved to the mainland per year in the 1990s, since 2010 that number has accelerated to 48,000 per year. (Pew Research wrote on this topic last month, with various charts showing accelerating migration to the U.S. along with declining fertility rates.)
The Washington Post delves into the political implications of that increased migration with a new article. With much of the migration now heading into Florida, especially Osceola County in Orlando's suburbs -- rather than traditional destinations for previous generations of Puerto Ricans like New York City and Chicago -- the implication is that this could push Florida in a more Democratic direction. Although their numbers are still only a small percentage of Florida's huge population, Florida is a closely divided swing state, so they could be determinative in not just the 2016 presidential race but also its Senate race.
Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, although ones who don't have a vote in presidential or congressional general elections. Once they've moved to the mainland, though, voter registration is simple, just a matter of proving residency, no different than if you moved from another state. It's worth noting, though, that Puerto Ricans do participate in presidential primaries, and the territory sends delegates to the nominating conventions.
While the WaPo article refers in several places to Puerto Rican arrivals as being "up for grabs" for the Democrats and Republicans (in part because Puerto Rican politics is fought between parties that don't have a D/R analogue), and likely to vote "person not party," that's not really borne out by actual voting patterns. A 2012 Latino Decisions poll of stateside voters of Puerto Rican ancestry found them breaking for Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by a 83-14 margin, and a 2013 Suffolk poll of voters living in Puerto Rico gave Obama an 83 percent favorable rating.
• Demographics: A common mistake when talking about religion and politics is to think of "evangelicals" as being a uniformly white group (and, more specifically, a southern white working-class group), but some new data from Pew Research on the diversity of various religions and denominations shows there's a lot of missing nuance there.
A number of denominations that would be categorized as "evangelical" show a surprising amount of diversity. Seventh-Day Adventists, for instance, turn out to be the most racially balanced of all (at 37 percent white, 32 percent black, 8 percent Asian, and 15 percent Latino). That's followed by several Pentecostal denominations with large numbers of Latino adherents, like Assemblies of God (25 percent Latino) and the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) (28 percent Latino). Bear in mind, though, that the most numerous and perhaps most stereotypical evangelical group -- the Southern Baptist Convention -- is still 85 percent white.
Other faiths that are among the most diverse include Muslims, at 38 percent white, 28 percent black, and 28 percent Asian (the "white" numbers may seem surprising, but that mostly represents people of Arabic or Middle Eastern descent, who usually identify as "white" for Census purposes, without having a better option), and Buddhists (44 percent white, 33 percent Asian). Least diverse tend to be the historically black Protestant denominations, and the (very white) mainline Protestant faiths.
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir and Jeff Singer, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, and Daniel Donner.