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Leading Off:

Overtime: Since Friday, we've gotten a lot more clarity on the few remaining uncalled House races. Democrats have now officially won three of them (AZ-02, CA-52, and NC-07), though a recount is still possible in North Carolina. But while Democrat Patrick Murphy still leads in FL-18, the picture there is quite a bit murkier... just read on:

AZ-02: The writing had been on the wall for several days, so it's no surprise that Republican challenger Martha McSally conceded to Dem Rep. Ron Barber on Saturday. At last count, Barber was leading McSally by 2,371 votes, or about 0.8 percent—a much closer tally than we expected, given both Barber's strong performance in this summer's special election and the fact that the new 2nd is slightly bluer than the old 8th, where Barber first won. That result definitely suggests a possible future in politics for McSally, but she's refusing to say whether she'd run again.

CA-52: It's done! GOP Rep. Brian Bilbray has finally conceded to Democrat Scott Peters, who currently leads by almost two percent, though some additional ballots may still remain to be counted. That closes out the books on California, where Democrats have defeated three incumbent Republicans: Bilbray, Mary Bono Mack in the 36th, and Dan Lungren in the 7th.

FL-18: As befits a race involving Allen West, things have been fairly crazy in Florida's 18th. On Friday, a judge denied West's request that St. Lucie County recount all early ballots cast there, rather than just the partial recount they'd done previously. But later that same day, St. Lucie decided on its own to engage in a full recount—though it was a classic case of being careful what you wish for, on both sides. Murphy went to court to try to halt the re-recount (unsuccessfully), but then Murphy wound up gaining 242 votes as a result of this full retabulation, which was conducted over the weekend.

That upped Murphy's lead from 1,907 votes to 2,149, but before those numbers were even announced, Murphy once again declared victory, citing a state law which says that if a jurisdiction fails to send official returns to the Secretary of State by Sunday at noon, any "results on file at that time shall be certified." (Interestingly, local media seems to be accepting Murphy's view of how the law operates here.) Either way, though, Murphy is ahead, and outside the 0.5 percent margin that would allow West to seek a recount. It seems the main thing we're waiting for now is whether the state will declare Murphy the winner on Tuesday morning when the SoS's Election Canvassing Commission meets to certify the returns in all federal races—and whether West will make a further legal push to overturn the results if the commission does so.

NC-07: After clinging to a 420-vote lead for most of the post-election period, Dem Rep. Mike McIntyre wound up finishing 655 votes ahead of Republican David Rouzer as the vote tally became finalized in North Carolina. Rouzer can ask for a recount, since the final margin is under the 1 percent threshold the law allows, and my understanding is that he has until the close of business on Monday to do so. However, in the absence of any reports of widespread voting problems, 655 votes is quite a lot to make up.


IA-Sen: This isn't much of a story until we hear something affirmative from Tom Latham, but Republican Gov. Terry Branstad is already meddling in the 2014 Senate race, trying to dissuade Steve King (who's already made some rumbling noises) by publicly saying that he thinks the less conservative and abrasive Latham would be a better statewide candidate. (David Jarman)


MA-Gov: The Boston Phoenix has a Great Mentioner piece on the election we know we'll have in Massachusetts, for a new Governor in 2014. (The hypothetical Senate special election, in case John Kerry becomes SoS, seems to get all the ink these days, but a lot of the same players for that are also potential gubernatorial candidates.) The article seems to place state Treasurer Steve Grossman, LG Tim Murray, and state Sen. Dan Wolf as being closest to making an announcement; there's also about a dozen other names mentioned, if you click through. (David Jarman)

MD-Gov: This just shows you how screwed Maryland Republicans are: Daniel Bongino, the former Secret Service agent who took just 27 percent in a suicide run against Dem Sen. Ben Cardin this fall, says he's considering a run for the open governor's seat in 2014... and no one can think of a single other name who might do so. Says one local poli sci prof: "Off the top of my head, I don't have another name. The fact no name comes to mind suggests there's a very short bench if any bench at all for the Republican Party." Ayup.

WA-Gov: I'm surprised no one caught this earlier, but a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter just notice that one of the anti-Jay Inslee ads that the RGA was running in the closing weeks of the Washington governor's race has a major flaw in it: it shows Inslee against a backdrop of the Pennsylvania state capitol. (She suspects the ad is the work of Pennsylvania media shop Brabender Cox, partly because it also recycles some old stock footage from a Tom Corbett ad.) (David Jarman)


CA-30: Brad Sherman may be getting more familiar with the term "pyrrhic victory," where winning ugly isn't much better than not winning at all. Politico reports that Sherman is on the receiving end of a lot of wrath from much of the rest of the California delegation, most of whom backed Howard Berman in their member-on-member race, and now many of whom (especially delegation dean George Miller) are ticked at Sherman's play for GOP votes by linking Berman to Dem boogeymen like Barney Frank and Maxine Waters.

The blowback from him in-state colleagues, in fact, has gotten so deep that Sherman just had to withdraw his bid to become ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. With Berman's defeat, that leaves Sherman next in seniority, unless you count American Samoa delegate Eni Faleomavaega. A delegate has never been ranking member of a committee before, so if Democrats look to a regular representative, the slot would fall to New York's Eliot Engel. (For what it's worth, Sherman threw his support behind Engel.) (David Jarman)

UT-04: Roll Call has a thorough post-mortem on how Blue Dog Jim Matheson dodged yet another bullet on election night, but the most interesting detail comes at the very end of the piece: In particular, Matheson says his final internal poll from Anzalone Liszt gave him a one-point lead over Republican Mia Love. But why didn't Matheson release that poll, we've wondered, especially when it would contradict those (evidently quite wrong) public polls showing him losing? Well, at that late date, he didn't need to roust out any more donors, and he may have thought a sneak attack would be better going into election day. (David Jarman)

Other Races:

WA-St. Sen: When we last looked in on the Washington state Senate, two conservaDem dissidents were threatening to cast their lot with the GOP to the extent that a power-sharing agreement would be formed where Republicans could chair certain committees. Well, they've changed their tune in the last few days, perhaps realizing they don't need to stop there: Now, the rumor is that, even though the Dems already elected Ed Murray as majority leader, the GOP + 2 Ds might order a re-do in January and install Rodney Tom, one of the two rebel Dems, as majority leader instead. (David Jarman)

Grab Bag:

Data: If you haven't seen this L.A. Times story on Obama's data analytics team, it's worth a read. The activities of this Moneyball-esque crew have always been kept tightly under wraps, though with the election over, OFA finally allowed a little sunlight to creep in. Reading this, though, you'll definitely wish they'd pulled the curtain back a little more.

Media: Conventional wisdom is that you target specific voting demographics by buying ads particularly on the shows they're likeliest to watch. An interesting retrospective in the Washington Post on the Obama campaign's ad-buying strategy turns some of that on its head, with them relying more heavily on simply on channel and time of day, without putting too much weight on what show was actually on. The strategy boiled down to more bang-for-the-buck by buying lots of time on smaller, cheaper cable networks to piece together a lot of different niche audiences into one big blanket. They're claiming a 10-20% more efficient use of their money thanks to this practice, so watch for this to become more of a thing in the future. (David Jarman)

NRCC: It turns out the D-Trip wasn't the only party committee taking out big loans this fall: The NRCC reportedly borrowed $12 million in late October for the stretch run. Now, the DCCC's loan was bigger ($17 million), but it's good to know, at least, that the GOP will also be in the hole as we start the new cycle. (Though as I always say, being able to go into debt is a good thing. You can spend more than you have and hey, lucky you! you get to pay it back later. Certainly Dems going +8 on the cycle is worth a big fat loan.)

Polltopia: The News & Observer has a good interview with PPP's Tom Jensen, with various question's about the firm's methods and successes (and failures) this year. This might be the most interesting detail, though, about PPP's plans going forward:

Q: PPP does automated polls and doesn't call cell phones. Will this system work in 2016?

Our top order of business for 2013 is figuring out ways to integrate cell phones into our polls. It's just too large a percentage of the population now to just ignore cell phones. The days when you could reach everyone in the population by just one form of communication is probably over. In the '50s and '60s people went and interviewed people in their homes. And really for 30 or 40 years now you could just call someone on the telephone and that's how you did polling. I think we are going to get to a situation in the next four to eight years where older people you still need to contact by telephone, but that lots of other segments of the population you might reach online, you might send them a poll through a text.

Also amusing is Jensen's explanation of why he lost the race for student body president at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2005. Says Tom:
I had a very insider-oriented campaign, I won all the endorsements, I won the debates and then I got 18 percent of the vote in the actual election.

And what that taught me is the average voter—and when you're polling that's who you really need to worried about—didn't care about any of the stuff I was talking about. They voted for the guy who promised to bring a Wendy's to campus.

Once again, it all gets back to giving gifts!

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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