Louisiana GOP Sen. David Vitter
• LA-Gov: A few weeks ago, Market Research Insight raised plenty of eyebrows when they unveiled a survey showing presumptive gubernatorial frontrunner Sen. David Vitter tied for second place with fellow Republican and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle in the Oct. 24 jungle primary. The top two vote-getters will advance to a November runoff, and it would be utterly shocking if the well-known and well-funded Vitter missed out. And now, the group is doubling down on their surprising findings in a new survey on behalf of GOP lieutenant governor candidate Billy Nungesser.
This poll, which LaPolitic's Jeremy Alford says in his Sept. 1 edition of his Tuesday Tracker was conducted Aug. 24-26, initially found a close three-way fight for the top two spots between Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards, Vitter, and Angelle. However, as they often do, MRI redistributes African Americans voters to reflect their usual Democratic preference. The final number puts Edwards in first with 35 percent, and finds Vitter only leading Angelle 22-19 for the second spot; GOP Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, who hasn't run any ads yet and whose allies have only just gone on the air, lags in fourth with 11. MRI's July poll, conducted for a different client, also found Edwards safely in first once African Americans were redistributed, and had Vitter and Angelle tied 21 to 21.
Surprisingly, another firm reportedly shows similar results. Head below the fold for more.
GOP pollsters MarplePort and Triumph Campaign were also in the field last month, and they found Edwards and Vitter easily taking the top two runoff spots. But Stu Rothenberg says that Harper Polling surveyed the jungle primary in early August and found Edwards and Vitter at 28 and 26 respectively, but had Angelle in striking distance with 18 percent (Dardenne was at 11). Harper never released the poll and its president refused to comment on it, which probably confirms that it exists.
It's unclear why Harper didn't release the poll (if they surveyed this contest for a client, that client probably didn't want the results leaked) but if these numbers are accurate, we could see a more exciting race in October than we bargained for. Louisiana is a very conservative state and any Republican would be favored against Edwards. But if Vitter somehow fails to make the runoff, it would have massive repercussions, especially since the jockeying for his Senate seat has already begun. However, Vitter and his allies only recently took to the airwaves while Angelle has been advertising for months, so it's quite possible that Vitter's poll numbers will rebound once his ads get enough eyeballs.
But Vitter's allied super PAC the Fund for Louisiana's Future isn't wasting any time going after Vitter's two GOP rivals in the first negative TV ad of the campaign. The group's ad isn't online yet, but the commercial depicts Angelle and Dardenne as supporters of higher taxes. By contrast, the group's first spot, which began last week, was all positive for Vitter. Maybe the Fund is just being careful, but their negative spot may very well be a sign that they're seeing polls like Harper and MRI's that show Vitter in danger.
For his part, Vitter has unveiled two positive commercials in recent days. His first spot rails against Common Core education standards, with Vitter promoting his efforts to fight it in the Senate and promising to do the same as governor. However, as the Times-Picayune points out, Vitter said as recently as last August that he "strongly supported" Common Core. His second ad has Vitter decrying legislators' perks and pet projects.
Meanwhile, Edwards picked up an endorsement from 2007 candidate Foster Campbell, who never officially ruled out another bid until now. The filing deadline is Sept. 10 and as long as Edwards is the only major Democrat in the race, it'll be hard to stop him from advancing to November. But insiders tell Rothenberg to keep watching wealthy businessman John Georges until filing closes next week. While Georges says he's not planning to run he's refused to actually rule it out, and those insiders think he's more serious than he lets on.
If Georges gets in and splits the Democratic vote in October, it would almost certainly give Angelle or Dardenne a much better shot at making it to a November runoff with Vitter (though if Vitter is actually in danger right now, he'd also have a better chance of advancing), and anything can happen in a Republican vs. Republican contest. For months, this election looked like a layup for Vitter and it's too early to conclude that this is actually slipping away from him. But if MRI and Harper are right or if another major Democrat gets in soon, we're in for a chaotic contest.
• CO-Sen: National Republicans are making it no secret that they want Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler to challenge Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, but Team Red isn't quite out of options if he declines. Rep. Scott Tipton sounded pretty meh about a Senate run in May, but his office tells Politico's Manu Raju that the congressman "is not going to close the door on any opportunity." Tipton would need to give up his secure House seat so he may need some persuading, but he'd at least give the GOP a viable candidate.
Raju also gives us a new name, businessman Doug Robinson. Robinson is a nephew of Mitt Romney and he chaired his unsuccessful 2012 presidential campaign in the Centennial State, so he would have some connections. Robinson sounds interested, saying that he's been approached and is "thinking whether this would be right for Colorado and right for my family." Robinson also says he's willing to pump some of his own money into his campaign but he's aware he'd need to raise a "lot" of cash from other sources. It's unclear how Brauchler's decision will impact Robinson's.
• FL-Sen: GOP Rep. David Jolly has earned his third endorsement from a fellow member of Florida's congressional delegation as four-term Rep. Gus Bilirakis just offered his support. Bilirakis represents the state's 12th District, which is just north of Jolly's 13th. Previously, Jolly received backing from Reps. Richard Nugent and Dennis Ross.
• VT-Gov: After flirting with a bid as an independent, retired Wall Street executive Bruce Lisman has announced that he'll seek this open seat as a Republican. While Team Red will be happy now that they know Lisman won't be taking votes from them next November, the GOP establishment has been encouraging Lt. Gov. Phil Scott to run. Scott seems to be leaning in that direction but he has yet to make an announcement, and he won't be looking forward to an expensive primary.
• WV-Gov: A new poll from Global Strategy Group finds Democrat Jim Justice, a coal company billionaire, beating the Republican president of the state Senate, Bill Cole, by a 36-30 margin in next year's open race for governor in West Virginia. That means that a whopping 34 percent are undecided, so this isn't necessarily the most useful poll. And it's not clear who paid for it, though it was probably Justice, since GSG is a Democratic outfit.
It's also not certain that Justice will actually be his party's nominee. While Cole has the GOP primary all to himself, Justice faces a showdown with state Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler, who recently released an internal poll showing Justice ahead just 28-26 for the Democratic nod. It's notable that Justice's own survey didn't include data on the primary, but again, it's so early, so the numbers don't mean too much. And if he wants to, Justice can certainly swamp Kessler in terms of spending—though that's certainly not always dispositive.
• FL-06: Navy vet Brandon Patty had reportedly been considering an entry into the GOP primary for Florida's open 6th Congressional District, and now he's confirmed his interest on the record. Patty is young (he's in his early 30s), but he seems to be reasonably well-connected, having worked for former Gov. Jeb Bush and one-time RNC chief Ed Gillespie. However, he'd face some legitimate opponents for the Republican nomination (including ex-Rep. Sandy Adams and former New Smyrna Beach Mayor Adam Barringer), though redistricting could shuffle the deck.
• IL-08: Ordinarily, it's not news when an out-of-state congressman issues an endorsement in a House race, but New York Rep. Steve Israel is not just some random lawmaker. He's the most recent past chair of the DCCC and he has plenty of juice, so the fact that he just gave his backing to businessman Raja Krishnamoorthi in the Democratic primary for Rep. Tammy Duckworth's open seat is at least a little bit notable. It may in fact be a bit of a warning shot to EMILY's List, which is considering getting behind Villa Park Mayor Deb Bullwinkel—a reminder than Raja has powerful friends and may not be worth opposing.
• President-by-LD: Today we venture to New Hampshire, but unlike so many other visitors, we're not running for president. Instead, we have the results of the Granite State's 2014 U.S. Senate and governor races calculated by state House, state Senate, and congressional district. We also have the 2012 presidential and U.S. Senate calculated. You can find our master list of states here. Also be sure to check out Stephen Wolf's interactive state legislative maps.
New Hampshire has a reputation as one of the swingiest states in the nation, but both Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Gov. Maggie Hassan managed to hold on during last year's GOP wave. However, Team Red retook the state House and held onto the state Senate. The state House in particular is the most volatile legislative chamber in the nation. Democrats held this chamber in 2006 and 2008, only to see the GOP transform the Democratic majority into a GOP supermajority in 2010. Democrats flipped the state House back in 2012, but the GOP now holds a 239-160 majority.
The state isn't actually divided into 400 microscopic seats though: New Hampshire has 204 state House districts that elect anywhere between one and 11 members. To make things even more complicated, 43 of these seats are floterial districts that overlap with other state House seats. Because there are so many candidates running in tiny districts, it's pretty hard for state representatives to establish enough personal popularity to hold on when things go wrong for their party. Since the state House is so massive and is only part time, plenty of fairly random people get elected when it's their party on the upswing, and it's pretty common for some of them to resign to do other things.
The good news for Team Blue is that they have a good shot to retake this massive chamber the next time the political winds are blowing their way. While the GOP had supermajorities in both houses when the new lines were drawn for the 2012 round of redistricting, there was only so much they could do to gerrymander a chamber as complex as the state House.
Shaheen carried the median seat in the state House 51.7-48.3, actually a little better than her 51.6-48.4 statewide performance against Republican Scott Brown. (The median seat is useful for calculating the theoretical half-way point in the chamber. If Democrats held every seat bluer, or Republicans held every seat redder, they'd control a majority of seats in that body.) Things aren't that different in the gubernatorial contest: Hassan took the median seat 52.0-48.0, a little worst than her 52.5-47.5 margin statewide against Walt Havenstein.
New Hampshire wasn't immune to last year's GOP wave: Because Shaheen drew a flawed opponent like Brown (who had just moved to the state from Massachusetts challenge her) and Hassan also had a meh foe and plenty of popularity, they were able to win, but voters angry with the Obama Administration still voted GOP downballot. However, if 2016 is a good Democratic year and Team Blue carries New Hampshire again, Democrats should have a great shot at retaking the state House.
The 24-member state Senate is another story. The GOP was able to gerrymander the chamber, and they narrowly held it in 2012 and now have a 14 to 10 majority. Shaheen took 14 districts but only carried the median seat 50.7 to 49.4 (because of rounding, this adds up to a little more than 100 percent), a bit to the right of her statewide win. Hassan also captured 14 districts but only narrowly won the median seat 51.0 to 49. By contrast, Obama only carried half the chamber in 2012 and took the median seat 50.1 to 48.7 even as he was winning New Hampshire 52.2 to 46.6. The GOP doesn't have a lock on the state Senate, but Democrats are going to need some luck if they're going to take a narrow majority.
New Hampshire only has two congressional districts, and they voted quite differently last year. The 1st, which includes Manchester, is held by Republican Frank Guinta, who unseated Democratic incumbent Carol Shea-Porter 51.7 to 48.1. The 2nd, which includes Nashua and the northern tip of the state, is held by Democrat Annie Kuster, who won a second term 54.9 to 44.9. Hassan carried both seats, but the difference is striking: While the 2nd went for her 54.1 to 45.9, she only took the 1st 50.9 to 49.1. Shaheen lost the 1st 50.7 to 49.3, but her 53.9 to 46.1 win in the 2nd more than made up the difference. Democrats were already planning to target Guinta before he was sworn in, but a campaign finance scandal has made him incredibly vulnerable.
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.