• IL-Gov: Oof. There's simply no good news for Gov. Pat Quinn in PPP's new poll—the first anyone's conducted of the Land of Lincoln in a solid year. We've known for a long time that Quinn is deeply unpopular, but his performance against the Republican field is just disastrous, especially in a state this blue. Here's the ugly (like we say, there's no good, and there isn't even any bad), with those year-ago trendlines in parens:
• 41-38 vs. businessman Bruce RaunerRemarkably, Quinn is actually doing a touch better than he was in November of 2012, thanks to a slightly improved job approval rating. Don't get any ideas, though: He's still at a disastrous 34-60, as opposed to an apocalyptic 25-64. What's even more troubling is that other, less radioactive Democrats don't fare much better—though of course, none of these alternatives are actually running, and the state's filing deadline is on Monday. State Attorney General Lisa Madigan leads Rutherford, the strongest GOPer, 45-40; Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is up 40-38; and former state Comptroller Dan Hynes ties at 34. A year earlier, Madigan was up 46-37, so the atmosphere has curdled toward Democrats generally.
• 41-41 vs. state Sen. Bill Brady
• 39-39 vs. state Sen. Kirk Dillard (37-44)
• 39-41 vs. state Treasurer Dan Rutherford (39-43)
That's most painfully exemplified by Barack Obama's job approval score, which stands at just 50-46 in his home state; this time a year ago, he was at 57-41. The poll's sample has also become noticeably redder. Respondents say they voted for Obama over Mitt Romney by just a 51-42 margin, even though the president won here 58-41. (PPP's prior survey was very close to reality, at 56-39.) That's a very bad sign for Democrats heading into 2014.
You add together the ongoing Obamacare screwups, a still-pretty-crummy economy for non-one-percenters, and Quinn's tax increases and feuds with the legislature, and you have a really lousy environment for the Democratic Party. You also have a serious chance at a Republican pickup, which is why we're changing our rating on this race from Lean Democrat to Tossup. Honestly, Lean D was probably generous, but we lacked recent polling. Now, Tossup may be generous to Quinn, too, since he'll really need things to turn around if he's to survive. But right now, it's hard to see what he can do to brighten his prospects.
P.S. The Republican primary isn't far off—March 18. We've actually seen a number of surveys of this race, though, and unlike in other polls, PPP has the free-spending, uber-wealthy Rauner leading, with 24 percent. Brady takes 17, Rutherford 14, and Dillard 10. Democrats are probably rooting for Brady, whom Quinn narrowly defeated in 2010, to emerge as the GOP nominee again, while Republicans would be smart to put forth Rutherford. But there are still a lot of undecideds, and Rauner's lead is small, so it's probably still anybody's race.
• IA-Sen: We have a pair of different polls of Iowa's open seat Senate race, one of the GOP primary and one of the general. The former, conducted by The Polling Company on behalf of Citizens United, seems designed to lure conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats into the race; he leads with 28 percent, while no one else cracks double digits. Vander Plaats has been looking at a bid since September and has promised a decision by year's end.
As for the latter, it's from Republican pollster Harper Polling, on behalf of the website Conservative Intelligence Briefing, a frequent client. Dem Rep. Bruce Braley, who is still not that well known, beats all comers:
• 41-38 vs. former U.S. Attorney Matt WhitakerCompared to a July PPP poll, things are a lot tighter. Back then, Braley led each Republican by around a dozen points; here, he's only up 3 to 6. Barack Obama's approvals are an awful 34-56, though that's considerably worse than his national average of 42-53 according to HuffPo Pollster. Considering Obama won Iowa by 6, this sample may be excessively bearish for Democrats. But even with those numbers, Braley's ahead and has a positive 33-28 favorability score of his own.
• 41-37 vs. businessman Mark Jacobs
• 40-35 vs. radio host Sam Clovis
• 41-35 vs. former Chuck Grassley chief of staff David Young
• 42-36 vs. state Sen. Joni Ernst
• IL-Sen: Well, there actually was one bright spot in PPP's new Illinois survey—it just wasn't in the governor's race. Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin leads Republican state Sen. (and perennial candidate) Jim Oberweis 51-36 and a couple of Some Dudes by similar margins. Durbin's approvals are a non-awesome 46-40, but hey, those are a damn sight better than Pat Quinn's.
• MS-Sen: State Auditor Stacey Pickering says that if Sen. Thad Cochran retires, he'll run for his Senate seat, though he definitely won't be the only Republican to do so. A boatload of potential GOP candidates, including Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, awaits Cochran's decision, which he's promised by the end of the month. State Sen. Chris McDaniel is already running in the GOP primary. No Democrats have entered the race, but ex-Rep. Travis Childers says he's considering a bid.
• SD-Sen: Rick Weiland's been spurned by the DSCC, but a whole of people the group is beholden to—you know, Democratic senators—are holding a D.C. fundraiser for Weiland next month. In fact, over 30 are on the list, with Sen. Tim Johnson, the man Weiland is hoping to succeed, leading the charge. Sen. Michael Bennet, the chair of the DSCC, is not on the list, but some other well-connected leaders are, like Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin.
• NY-Gov: Two new polls have Dem Gov. Andrew Cuomo cruising to re-election, just as you'd expect. Quinnipiac finds Cuomo up 56-25 over Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, while Marist has Cuomo punishing Astorino by an even wider 65-23 margin. Marist also tested a few other names. Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin gets crushed 64-24; 2010 GOP nominee Carl Paladino gets rocked 67-24; and noted reality show jerkass Donald Trump gets obliterated 70-24. None of these potential candidates are actually running.
• OH-Gov: Quinnipiac's new Ohio poll suggests the governor's race might be tightening, but they definitely don't see it quite as tight as PPP recently did. Quinnipiac finds GOP Gov. John Kasich lead over Democrat Ed FitzGerald at 44-37, sliced in half from 47-33 back in June. PPP, meanwhile, had the race deadlocked at 41 apiece in a survey conducted for the Ohio Democratic Party earlier this month.
So Fitz might have a shot here, but as we've seen elsewhere, there are several oddities in Quinnipiac's numbers, as DCCyclone points out. Kasich job approvals are a strong 52-33, for instance, and his re-elects stand at 48-39. It's strange to see such a big gap between those numbers and the 44 percent he takes in the horserace, though we've noted similar disparities in other Quinnipiac polls, like in Colorado. If Quinnipiac is right, then Kasich's head-to-heads ought to improve. But PPP had the incumbent's approvals at a weak 37-42, so it's hard to get a read on where things actually stand.
• PA-Gov: Despite a darkening national environment for Democrats of late, things have only gotten worse for Pennsylvania's Republican governor, Tom Corbett. PPP's new poll shows him getting hammered by all comers, even more badly than in March:
• 30-50 vs. Jack Wagner"Ouch" doesn't begin to cover it. Corbett's the most unpopular governor in the nation, per PPP, with a horrifying 34-65 job approval rating. And as he did in Illinois, Tom Jensen tested a couple of alternatives against the nominal Democratic frontrunner, Schwartz, and found them doing considerably better, albeit not well. Reps. Jim Gerlach and Mike Kelly both trail Schwartz, the former 39-31 and the latter 41-33. What stands out is how polarizing Corbett is: His presence on the ballot alone causes Schwartz to do 7 to 9 points better.
• 32-51 vs. John Hanger (34-41)
• 31-50 vs. Rob McCord (34-45)
• 33-48 vs. Allyson Schwartz (34-45)
• 32-47 vs. Katie McGinty
• 33-45 vs. Ed Pawloski
• 32-44 vs. Tom Wolf (33-42)
Unfortunately for the GOP, neither Gerlach nor Kelly (or anyone else, for that matter) has expressed interest in challenging the incumbent. But in hypothetical matchups, Corbett leads both congressmen by a very soft 42-31 spread, thanks to his lousy 41-45 job approval among Republican primary voters. He'd be very beatable, if only someone would try.
Democrats have to hope no one does, and in the meantime, they have to figure out who their standard-bearer will be. In the congested primary field, Schwartz takes 21 percent while Wagner is close behind at 17, McCord at 10, McGinty 9, Hanger 8, Pawloski 4, and Wolf sharing the caboose with two nobodies at 2. Given the large number of candidates, only 27 percent are undecided, but that's more than enough to give everyone a shot. And with Corbett looking so doomed, you can understand why everyone wants one.
• CA-26: Looks like the GOP is changing horses in its efforts to unseat freshman Rep. Julia Brownley next year. Assemblyman Jeff Gorell just announced plans to run in the 26th District, and he's already been endorsed by ex-state Sen. Tony Strickland, who had taken steps toward a rematch with Brownley. But Strickland had long been rumored to be more interested in GOP Rep. Buck McKeon's neighboring 25th District, a redder seat that McKeon might vacate next year. McKeon still hasn't announced whether he'll retire or seek re-election, so Strickland either knows something we don't, or he's content to wait until McKeon does hang it up.
Gorell, meanwhile, is a decent get for Republicans. He's a Navy vet who recently served in Afghanistan, and he holds a 52-46 Obama district in the Assembly. But he only beat a Some Dude opponent, who didn't even appear to file any fundraising reports, by a 53-47 margin last year.
• FL-19: Finally, here we go! While a few scattered Republicans had said Rep. Trey Radel should resign after his conviction for possession of cocaine, now Radel's local GOP organizations are calling on him to quit immediately, with the blessing of the state party. The Republican executive committees in Lee and Collier Counties issued a joint statement saying that Radel should step down right away, and that if he doesn't, he "would not enjoy our support" for re-election, sentiments that were echoed by state GOP chair Lenny Curry—and Gov. Rick Scott, who just so happens to be represented by Radel.
Radel is defiant, though, saying through a spokesman that he intends to "return to work as soon as possible" after completing his in-patient treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. But some nameless Republicans claim that Radel's rehab is bogus, and that he's been spending time on the phone plotting his political future rather than focusing on getting healthy. Those might just be unverifiable rumors designed to sabotage Radel, but I suspect it'll take a strong primary opponent to actually deter him from seeking a second term. And even then, that might not be enough. You just never know with guys like this.
It looks like Radel might indeed draw a serious challenger, though: ex-Rep. Connie Mack, who held this seat until last year, when he lost a bid for Senate. Mack has reportedly been putting out feelers about a possible return to office, and one nameless GOP operative claims he's "made his intention known." Another unnamed source tells Politico, though, that Mack hasn't made up his mind. A Mack vs. Radel primary could result in a very entertaining bro-down between two hardcore party boys.
• NJ-03: Republicans have their first confirmed candidate in New Jersey's unexpectedly open 3rd District, Assemblyman David Wolfe. But it sounds like the local GOP establishment hasn't settled on anyone in particular yet, with some Republicans hoping former Burlington County Freeholder Bruce Garganio will enter the race. There's also the possibility, as we mentioned the other day, that 2013 Senate nominee Steve Lonegan could carpetbag to South Jersey to run here as well. Democrats, meanwhile, seem to be rallying around Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard.
• WV Legislature: Despite telling Democratic leadership that he wouldn't do so just a few weeks ago, Delegate Ryan Ferns flipped his allegiance to the Republican Party on Monday. That reduces the Democratic majority in the state House to an even narrower 53-47, and Republicans will definitely be gunning to take control of the chamber next year. However, Ferns won't really help them. He announced that he's running for the state Senate, where the GOP faces a much wider 24-10 deficit.
That gives Dems a chance to win back Ferns' seat, and they have a good shot at holding him off in the Senate race as well. (He's not exactly a great get: After an ugly DUI last year, Ferns announced he'd resign, then later reversed course.) But his switch is definitely a sign of where things are headed in West Virginia politics.
• House: At this point last cycle (just before Thanksgiving), six members of the House had announced their retirements. That's the same as this cycle, except there's one big difference: In 2011, all six were Democrats. This year, they're all Republicans. We've put together a chart comparing the two cycles so that you can see who announced and when. It doesn't necessarily portend anything, since a lot of Republicans started calling it quits just as 2012 rolled around, but it's still interesting to see where things stand. And here's hoping no one retires the day after the holiday (like Charlie Gonzalez did two years ago... grr!).
• Media Markets: Daily Kos Elections has taken some occasional looks at the nation's media markets—both at their demographics, and at how best to leverage the different costs, to get the most "bang for the buck" in allocating political contributions—but now the analytics firm Civis is out with an interactive map that condenses all that information into one place and makes it easily clickable.
Data about media markets is proprietary and usually guarded zealously, so this may be the most information about them that's ever been publicly made available in one place. If you've ever wanted to spend the day pretending to be a campaign's media buyer, here's your chance to go nuts! (David Jarman)
• WATN?: This is certainly not your usual post-Congress career move: Former Democratic Rep. Bill Delahunt has filed applications to open medical marijuana dispensaries in his home state of Massachusetts, pursuant to a new ballot measure passed last year that legalizes pot for ill patients. Delahunt will find out whether his bids are accepted on Jan. 31.