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Leading Off:

AR-Sen, -Gov: A long, paywalled article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette says that three Arkansas Republican congressmen and congressmen-elect have not ruled out challenges to Dem Sen. Mark Pryor, who, amazingly enough, didn't even face GOP opposition in 2008. But things have changed dramatically for Democrats in the Razorback State since then: Five of six members of Arkansas' delegation will be Republicans in the 113th Congress. Just two years ago, five of six were Democrats.

Anyhow, Reps. Tim Griffin and Steve Womack, and Rep.-elect Tom Cotton (who just won office last week) are all considering Senate runs, and perhaps gubernatorial bids as well—the D-G has actual on-the-record quotes from each. Only 1st District Rep. Rick Crawford says he has no plans to seek higher office. Griffin, says the article, is "seen by many as the most likely future Pryor opponent," though I'm not seeing any quotes from "many," whoever they may be, as to why this might be so. It may just be that Griffin, a Karl Rove acolyte at the center of the 2006-07 U.S. Attorneys scandal, is the best connected of the bunch.

(Continue reading below the fold.)

Senate:

NV-Sen: Here's some more evidence that Mark Mellman (who just got top marks from Nate Silver) is one of the best pollsters in the business: He reportedly nailed the final result in Nevada, telling the LVRJ that he consistently found Democrat Shelley Berkley down 1 or 2 points in the closing days of the race, which is exactly what she lost by to Sen. Dean Heller. He can't really notch another kill for this one, though—that polling never got released, since he's a partisan pollster and naturally a campaign wouldn't publicly release a poll showing a deficit in a campaign's waning hours. (David Jarman)

Gubernatorial:

MI-Gov: Democratic state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer says she's not ruling out a run for governor in 2014, when first-term Gov. Rick Snyder will be up for re-election. She also says she's considering a bid for attorney general as well, against GOP AG Bill Schuette.

PR-Gov: From a mainland perspective, Puerto Rican politics is intensely complicated—the island just held another referendum on its political relationship with the U.S., and while statehood advocates are claiming success with 54 percent in favor, the undervote was so large that the true results are hard to read. What's more, in PR's gubernatorial election, incumbent Gov. Luis Fortuño, who is a member of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party, narrowly lost re-election to Alejandro García Padilla of the Popular Democratic Party, which favors the current commonwealth status. (The final tally was 48-47.)

There's another angle here, though: In addition to being a member of the NPP, Fortuño is also a Republican, and the RGA spent heavily on his behalf ($2 million, according to the DGA—I'm not sure if the DGA spent anything). García Padilla, meanwhile, "appeared with the president in Florida and had lunch with him when he visited San Juan in 2011." Indeed, Beth Reinhard suggests that Obama's popularity among Latinos helped power García Padilla to victory. Republicans made a big deal out of Fortuño's victory four years ago, the first time in many years the GOP had won the seat, so this is a notable setback for them, particularly in light of their broader collapse among Hispanics nationwide.

House:

AZ-01: Though the race in Arizona's open 1st CD was called days and days ago for Dem ex-Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, it appears that Republican Jonathan Paton still has not conceded. Arizona, as you know, is still counting votes, and perhaps Paton just wants to wait until the bitter end. But a failure to concede in a timely manner never looks good. Just ask Marilyn Musgrave.

AZ-02: There doesn't seem to be a clear update schedule in Arizona, but Dem Rep. Ron Barber's lead over Martha McSally has now grown to 698 votes as of Monday evening, up from 289 on Sunday.

AZ-09: Paint another seat blue: The AP has called the race in AZ-09 for Democratic ex-state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who has defeated former Paradise Valley mayor Vernon Parker. At last count, Sinema, who will become the first openly bisexual member of Congress, was leading Parker by a 48-45 margin in this brand-new seat centered around Tempe in the Phoenix area.

• CA-52: Democrat Scott Peters' lead continues to climb over incumbent Republican Brian Bilbray, now reaching 1,899 votes as of Monday evening, up from 1,334 on Sunday. San Diego County reports 260,000 ballots left countywide, which should translate to about 60,000 ballots in CA-52. Bilbray's magic number has climbed accordingly to 51.6 percent, up from 50.5 percent a day earlier night. The math, however, is working against Bilbray in two ways: The number of votes left uncounted is decreasing, and not only is Peters' raw vote margin increasing, but his share of the vote (now 50.4%) is as well. Bilbray's magic number is now a full two percent higher than the share he's gotten to date (49.6 percent), and late ballots are looking to be slightly more Peters-friendly. This one's loooking very close to done, folks.

FL-18: While we wait for the next updates to come out of Florida's overtime 18th District race (not expected until Tuesday), here's an interesting theory to consider, and one I admit I'd wondered about myself. In the closing days of the campaign, Democrat Patrick Murphy secured the endorsement of Martin County Sheriff Robert Crowder—something notable enough to make the Digest because Crowder is not only a Republican, but he even ran against Allen West in the GOP primary. Now, Crowder's challenge, rather improbably, came from the left, and he certainly doesn't seem like he's a good fit for today's Republican Party. (He predictably got crushed in the primary.)

But West ran four points behind Mitt Romney in dark-red Martin County, taking 57 percent versus Romney's 61. That's about 3,000 votes—or more than Murphy's current margin of victory. Indeed, even the Martin County GOP chair thinks Crowder cost West. Of course, we'll have to see how what the Romney minus West margin is in the 18th's two other counties (Palm Beach and St. Lucie) before we can draw any real conclusions, but it's still a delicious thought.

IL-02: Local station CBS 2 Chicago is reporting that Dem Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. is negotiating a plea deal with federal authorities over alleged misuse of campaign funds. The deal would apparently include both Jackson's resignation from Congress and "some jail time." If JJJ vacated his seat, of course, that would trigger a special election in this heavily Democratic district.

KY-06: One of the toughest Dem losses last Tuesday came in Kentucky's 6th Congressional District, where Rep. Ben Chandler was defeated by attorney Andy Barr. Chandler, 53, obviously wants to take some time to think about his future, but he isn't ruling out a rematch next cycle, or a gubernatorial bid in 2015. However, he says he won't run for Senate in 2014. Meanwhile, former Lexington Mayor Teresa Isaac is already saying she's "looking at" a possible challenge to Barr on behalf of the Democrats. Isaac served as mayor from 2003-06 and once ran in the Democratic primary in KY-06 in 1998, coming in third in a seven-candidate field with just 16 percent.

Other Races:

AL-Sup. Ct.: Ten Commandments judge Roy Moore has indeed won back his post as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, but only with a much narrower-than-expected margin, considering the race was expected to be a walk for Republicans. Over the summer, Democrats were able to replace their Some Dude candidate after he made some offensive statements with Jefferson County Circuit Judge Bob Vance, who offered a much more respectable profile. Vance actually managed to outraise Moore despite his extremely late start, $1 million to $600K, but the state's deep conservative roots allowed the odious Moore to hang on with just 52% of the vote. A Vance upset would have been amazing, but it's still quire remarkable that he was able to keep it this close in the first place.

NH-St. Sen: While Democrats did indeed take back the New Hampshire state House, it doesn't look like the Senate will also fall to Team Blue. As things stand now, the GOP has a 13-11 margin in the chamber, a huge improvement for Dems from the prior 18-5 edge (with one vacancy) before election day. Two recounts are still pending, but Democrats trail widely in both, so it seems that Republicans will narrowly retain control. There are also 20 House recounts scheduled, but since Dems now hold a 222-178 edge in the body, control is not in doubt.

Grab Bag:

House: We here at Daily Kos Elections had been wondering how much "churn" there'd been in the House—that is, how many seats changed hands, not merely what the size of the Democrats' net gain was. We felt that the number seemed high, but of course, we wanted to be able to make a historical comparison, so we calculated the numbers for both 2012 and 2002, the last cycle where redistricting was conducted nationwide. The results?

Assuming current leads hold in the handful of House races that remain uncalled, Democrats will turn 20 red seats blue while Republicans will move 10 seats from the blue column to the red. This doesn't count new districts created through reapportionment, and it also doesn't count districts where one R and one D were mashed up thanks to redistricting (namely, IA-03 and OH-16). In 2002, by contrast, there was far less churn: Only seven seats went R->D while nine went D->R. So that's a total churn this year of 30, versus 16 a decade ago, or almost double.

That means the competitive playing field was actually a lot bigger this year, though most of the GOP pickups came on very friendly turf for them—only two were Tossups and one was Lean R, according to our rankings (the rest were all Likely or Safe R). Democrats had a much tougher situation, with only four races to the left of the Tossup column (and one pickup that we even had Lean R). What's more, Democrats lost about as many seats in '02 as they gained in '12, so despite the broad and challenging playing field, Team Blue actually did quite well. Of course, there's still a long way to go, but this is a good start.

And while we're on the subject of the House more broadly, diarist KevinP43 has performed a terrific dissection of the national House vote. Kevin used the AP's raw XML file to run a number of fascinating comparisons, including a state-by-state look at how the House vote compared to actual seat outcomes. In Pennsylvania, for instance, Democrats actually won a majority of votes cast in all House races, but GOP gerrymandering allowed Republicans to carve out a 13-5 advantage in the state's delegation. Amazing.

Outside Money: The Sunlight Foundation has compiled some fascinating data on how much money each outside-money entity poured into independent expenditures this election, and what their "return on investment" was—in other words, what percentage of their money was actually recouped, in the form of having been spent on a winning candidate. (We'd call it "Dark money" ordinarily, but this includes the DCCC, DSCC, and other committees too, who perform all of their operations in the open.)

The headline numbers that are getting all the attention is the miserable percentages put up by the two Crossroads organizations, because they played primarily in the Senate races (where the GOP had a lousy track record) and also heavily in the presidential race (obviously where they went 0-for-1). Compare that with the Senate-based, Dem-side Majority PAC, who had a nearly-perfect ROI. Conversely, GOP dark money spent in the House races almost broke even (John Boehner's CLF got at a 54% ROI, not much different from the Dem House Majority PAC), confirming that the House battle, unlike the presidential and Senate sides, was pretty much a wash.

Using the Sunlight Foundation's data, we've put together a chart ordered by ROI, which the committees' relative effectiveness in much clearer relief than their writeup:

(David Jarman)

Polltopia: I know this must be one of the year's most eagerly anticipated articles among Daily Kos Elections: the Nate Silver rundown of which pollsters got it right in 2012. The results are quite different from those that we've seen so far (like the much-cited Fordham study that put PPP on top), largely because Nate didn't limit himself to the last round of polls that came out before the election but did a composite average of all polls taken by pollsters in the last 21 days.

For pollsters that released at least five polls in that period, the one with the lowest average error is one of the low-profile ones: TIPP, on behalf of Investors' Business Daily. Interestingly, it's a Democratic pollster who finishes with the least bias (no bias at all, in fact: an average of 0.0): Mellman. Also interesting: Some of the unusual-methodology pollsters who got left out of a lot of aggregators' lists, like Google Consumer and the RAND Corporation (on behalf of the reverse vampires), also finished near the top. And while I know you're cheering for Rasmussen to show up at the bottom, they aren't. They finished fourth from the bottom, ahead of a rogue's gallery of ARG, Mason-Dixon, and at the very bottom... Gallup. (Can we stop pretending that Gallup is doing anything other than coasting on their historic reputation any more?)

Silver also broke out a separate chart of everyone who provided even one poll in that period, which is a much longer list. Bafflingly, the top performer of all is the one using the most anachronistic method: the snail-mail pollsters at the Columbus Dispatch. As for who gets the all-time booby prize, it's not Roanoke College, and it's not the Michigan-based weirdos at Baydoun, though they're both very close: It is, once again, Merriman River Group, whose average error is a no-better-than-throwing-darts 15.7.

Finally, there's also the wee matter of those Republican internal pollsters in the downballot races, many of whom didn't end up on the 538 ratings (although some partisan pollsters, like Mellman, show up, Silver's cutoff appears to exclude polls done specifically for campaigns), for which they should be grateful. Politico's Alexander Burns has a fascinating post-mortem talking to a number of them. Some of them are offering their own version of the "shellshocked" story, similar to the Romney camp's: As much as they may have been aware of the competing numbers available from the public sector, they seem to have gotten drunk on their own special sauce. (David Jarman)

Senate: Here's a great observation from Greg Giroux: The Democrats' 2012 Senate performance, in which they held 22 of 23 seats, was the best defensive effort by either party since 1964, when Dems managed to retain 25 of 26 seats during the LBJ landslide. Given how much more polarized the nation is today, and how much smaller Obama's margin of victory was than Johnson's, I'm inclined to think '12 was even more remarkable than '64 on the Senate front.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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