• MO-Sen, Gov: PPP's new poll of Missouri is interesting for a whole bunch of reasons. For starters, it finds Republican Sen. Roy Blunt with a startlingly poor 30-47 job approval rating, making the freshman one of the least popular senators in the country. That's a remarkable finding given that the last time PPP poll here (almost three years ago), the generally inoffensive Blunt sported a 35-34 score, and earlier this year, a survey from Republican pollster Remington Research gave him a 39-31 favorability rating.
These numbers have translated into a similarly weak performance in the horserace, with Blunt leading his Democratic opponent, little-known Secretary of State Jason Kander, by just a 40-35 spread. That's some serious weakness for an incumbent, particularly one who hasn't made any mistakes. But Remington, by contrast, had Blunt ahead 49-36, so you have to ask, is PPP's poll simply too good to be true?
It doesn't appear that way. For starters, Barack Obama's job approvals are a miserable 36-59, which is about what you'd expect in a place like Missouri. Even once-popular Gov. Jay Nixon, the term-limited Democratic incumbent, is now in the pits with a 36-48 score. And in the open gubernatorial race, all of the matchups between Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster and the entire Republican field make sense, too. Here's how Koster stacks up:
37-40 vs. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder
39-35 vs. state Sen. Bob Dixon
40-36 vs. former U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway
40-35 vs. former state Rep. Randy Asbury
41-36 vs. businessman John Brunner
40-34 vs. former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens
39-31 vs. Bart Korman
Kinder is the best-known candidate in the race, with positive 30-24 favorables despite his well-publicized travails
. Koster, meanwhile, is know by about half the state and has a 24-23 rating. Otherwise, the rest of this bunch ranges from fairly obscure (Hanaway, 58 percent unknown) to utterly obscure (Korman, 80 percent unknown—and he doesn't even seem to actually be running
If anything, these results are pretty good for Kinder, since he and Koster have similar room for growth, but given Missouri's conservative nature, the remaining undecided voters should be more amenable to a Republican pitch.
And thanks to his name recognition, Kinder also has inside track for the GOP nomination:
What Koster has going for him, though, is the already vicious Republican primary: Even if Kinder emerges victorious, he won't escape unscathed. That could alter the calculus come next year.
But the person who really needs to be thinking about changing the equation is Roy Blunt. The usual "this is just one poll" caveats apply, though Blunt's collapse can't be chalked up to unhappiness with just one group—he's suffered with folks of every ideological stripe. Maybe PPP's off-base, and maybe future polling will confirm that. But right now, we just don't know. And if they're right, Missouri could wind up being more of a pickup opportunity than even optimists had expected.
• AR-Sen: So maybe this really is happening: Conner Eldridge, the youngest U.S. attorney in the nation, just announced that he's stepping down from his post later this month, a move that would allow him to run against GOP Sen. John Boozman next year. There'd been some recent chatter that he might do so, and Eldridge isn't disputing those reports, saying only, "I'll start seriously thinking about what I'm going to do next the day after I leave." (That's also probably the only kind of comment he actually can offer, though, since U.S. attorneys are forbidden from engaging in politics.)
But will Eldridge actually go for it? As we've noted, this would be a very tough race for any Democrat, but the fact that Eldridge is quitting such a plum gig while he still has at least a year and a half left to go is suggestive. Maybe he's just eager to strike it rich in the private sector, but maybe he really thinks he has a path to victory against Boozman. Hopefully he'll tell us more soon.
• IA-Sen: The only way Democrats are going to pick up Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley's seat is if (a) he gets summoned back to Vulcan for Pon Farr or (b) he retires. In a new PPP poll, Grassley leads a trio of little-known Democrats by more than 20 points apiece, and he's over 50 in every matchup, so he's going to stick around on planet Earth.
• KY-Sen: With Sen. Rand Paul's presidential bid stinking like poo these days—a new Suffolk poll puts him in 10th place in Iowa—Kentucky Republicans are growing disenchanted with the idea of changing the party's rules so that Paul can run for two offices at once. Kentucky law forbids such a thing, but Paul thinks he can get around that little problem if the GOP holds a presidential caucus that's separate from the regularly scheduled May primary, when he wants to seek renomination as senator.
Months ago, a state party committee gave the go-ahead to precisely this plan, but lately, some power-brokers have been balking. Politico reports that Paul had promised to raise money to pay for the caucus (which would cost somewhere around half a million bucks, maybe more), but so far, he hasn't ponied up.
Given Paul's own fundraising problems, that's no surprise, but if he can't wrangle this special caucus, he either has to abandon the Senate or his presidential hopes. State Republicans will make up their minds in a meeting on Aug. 22; depending on what they decide, they might make up Rand's mind for him.
• NC-Sen: Former state Rep. Deborah Ross, who served as House majority whip back when Democrats were in power, says she's being recruited to run for Senate by the ever-mysterious "some people," and she hasn't said anything to disavow her interest in the idea. In fact, local reporter Tim Boyum says that, according to unnamed "media consultants," Ross has already told the DSCC "she intends to run" against GOP Sen. Richard Burr. If true, that would be good news for Democrats, who currently lack a candidate, though ex-Rep. Heath Shuler is reportedly considering a bid and state Rep. Duane Hall has formed an exploratory committee.
• KY-Gov: A Democratic super PAC called Kentucky Family Values, which in the past has been funded by labor groups and the DGA, is airing a new TV ad that goes after Republican nominee Matt Bevin. The spot re-uses attacks deployed by Sen. Mitch McConnell in his primary against Bevin last year: It features a clip of Bevin saying "I have no tax delinquency problem, nor have I ever," followed by accusations that his bell-making company in Connecticut was hit with tax liens, as was his "million-dollar vacation home in Maine." It's a pretty good hit: tax delinquent, liar, and carpetbagger all rolled into one. There's no word on the size of the buy.
• CA-46: Former Democratic state Sen. Joe Dunn, who reportedly has been looking at a bid for Rep. Loretta Sanchez's open House seat, has now submitted a statement of candidacy to the FEC. He hasn't made any kind of formal announcement, but this is something we've been seeing a lot of lately: candidates filing paperwork without so much as a press release. It's a wasted opportunity, though, since you get a better press hit if you charge in to a race guns blazing, rather than in dribs and drabs. Several other Democrats are also either running or considering doing so in this solidly blue district.
• IL-07: Rumors are once against circulating that Democratic Rep. Danny Davis, who is 73 and has served in the House for 18 years, might finally retire. Davis has unsuccessfully been searching for an escape hatch for nearly a decade: In 2006, he was passed over when Democratic leaders chose Todd Stroger to replace his father, John, who suffered a stroke while seeking re-election as president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. In 2008, after Barack Obama was elected president, Gov. Rod Blagojevich reportedly offered to appoint Davis to Obama's Senate seat, but Davis said he turned it down to avoid getting tainted by Blago's growing aura of corruption.
Davis then considered a Senate bid himself but ultimately chose not to run. Instead, he filed for the job he'd missed out on a few years earlier, Cook County president, before abandoning the idea and seeking re-election in 2010. Then he ran for mayor of Chicago ... but dropped out in favor of none other than ex-Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun, who got torched by Rahm Emanuel and came in fourth with just 9 percent of the vote.
So yeah, it's safe to say he wants out, but at this point in his career, retirement is probably the only option left to Davis. If he goes, though, plenty of ambitious politicians will be interested in his safely blue House seat, and some are already floating their names. Alderman Brendan Reilly says he's considering, while Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin's unexpected recent interest in next year's Senate race might actually be a stalking horse for a more realistic desire to succeed Davis, whom he used to work for.
Illinois has an earlier filing deadline and an early primary, so we may see some action soon—if, that is, Davis can actually find it in his heart to quit.
• NY-19: Former state Assembly Minority Leader John Faso, a Republican who said he was forming an "exploratory committee" last month, seems to have quietly gone ahead and actually launched a bid for New York's open 19th Congressional District—or at least the website he just put up, especially the "About" page, certainly makes it sound that way. But, once again (see our CA-46 item above), we have a candidate who hasn't made any kind of formal announcement. No reporters seem to have caught wind of the move either. So strange.
• Demographics: There's a variety of places where you can find religion-based demographic data at the state level (Pew and Gallup, for starters), but the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) has also been heavily involved in polling for religious demographics and now they go a layer deeper: down to the metropolitan area-level. Their new chart may be a little hard to follow because it only gives you the top three traditions in each metro area, but they've organized it helpfully into categories for metro areas with Catholic, evangelical, and unaffiliated pluralities.
Boston, New York City, and Pittsburgh are tied for the most Catholic metropolitan areas (at 36 percent); Portland, Oregon is far in the lead for most unaffiliated (at 42) followed by San Francisco and Seattle. Nashville is the most evangelical metro area (38 percent) followed by Charlotte and (a little surprisingly, since it's not in the South, though it does border Kentucky) Cincinnati. The overall low number of metro areas with evangelical pluralities may also surprise with you, but bear in mind that the highest evangelical concentrations are in the rural, non-metropolitan parts of the South. Atlanta, meanwhile, is the lone large metro with a black Protestant plurality at 24 percent. Finally, there isn't a mainline Protestant plurality anywhere, though Minneapolis (with a lot of Lutherans) seems to come closest at 23 percent.
• Site News: Daily Kos is hiring for a new editorial position focused on covering district attorneys and prosecutorial misconduct nationwide. From the job description:
With increased focus on the inequities in the criminal justice system, one of the key places where average citizens can put pressure needs to be highlighted: Voters can elect, and throw out of office, district attorneys and prosecutors. But they need information and explanation to cast that vote, and they need to have enough motivation to show up at the polls.
to learn more about the job and how to apply. (If you apply after first reading of this opportunity in the Daily Kos Elections Digest, please note that in your cover letter.)
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.