9:14 AM PT: CA-07: Awesome! It's freshman orientation, Capitol Hill-style, which means all newly-elected soon-to-be members of the House are down in DC, learning the ins and outs of Congress, from an insider's perspective. And just which insider is leading these 80 or so bright-eyed newcomers through their orientation program? None other than GOP Rep. Dan Lungren, chair of the House Administration Committee, who is currently trailing Democrat Ami Bera by 1,779 votes in a race that still hasn't been called. Somehow I'm guessing Lungren might be a little distracted these next few days....
9:20 AM PT: Pres-by-CD: It's that time again! Soon we're going to start crunching the 2012 presidential election results for all 435 congressional districts. But, as always, this is a huge task, and we're going to need your help, which is why we're crowdsourcing the effort once again. So click on over and see how you can get involved. Your assistance is greatly appreciated, and it'll help us produce an important data set for political analysts as quickly as possible.
9:30 AM PT: LA-02: Here's another one of those "closer than expected" House elections, but with a twist. Freshman Dem Rep. Cedric Richmond won re-election with "only" 55 percent of the vote in Louisiana's dark blue 2nd Congressional District... but his nearest opponent took just 25 percent, so it's not like he was in any danger. For one thing, as you know, Louisiana conducts "jungle"-style elections that are very similar to the top-two primaries used in California and Washington: All candidates compete in a single general election (there's no primary), and if no one gets over 50 percent, the two top candidate, regardless of party, proceed to a December runoff. So Richmond was running in a field of five, and indeed, the second-place finisher, Gary Landrieu (a cousin of Sen. Mary Landrieu and NOLA Mayor Mitch Landrieu) is also a Democrat.
The other issue, though, is redistricting. Louisiana lost a seat in reapportionment, and Republicans (who by-and-large controlled the line-drawing process, though LA politics is very weird) sought to pack as many Democrats as possible into a single district, the 2nd. The led them to create a district which stretched 100 miles from New Orleans all the way to Baton Rouge. (The old 2nd used to be entirely NOLA-centric.) It also left Richmond, who after all had served just a single term, with a seat where almost 40% of the constituents were new to him. That kind of phenomenon has played out in many races across the country, leading to lots of incumbents pulling in lower vote shares than you'd otherwise anticipate. I expect, though, that things will "get back to normal" next cycle.
9:40 AM PT: MI-08: This could lead to a potentially interesting special election: The Great Mentioner is, of course, already talking about possible replacements for now-former CIA Director David Petraeus, and one name that's come up is Michigan GOP Rep. Mike Rogers. Rogers is chair of the House Intelligence Committee and is also a former FBI agent himself. If Rogers were to be tapped, that would open up a district which actually went for Barack Obama by a 52-46 margin over John McCain in 2008. (2012 numbers are not yet available.) Any thoughts on possible candidates on both sides who could succeed Rogers?
9:56 AM PT: AZ-02: There's still one uncalled race in Arizona, in the state's 2nd District, where Dem Rep. Ron Barber's lead over Republican Martha McSally now stands at 512 votes. Unlike almost all other overtime races, where one side's lead has steadily grown, Barber's edge has bounced around, and indeed, on election night, he was even trailing. Still, as the total number of outstanding ballots shrinks, you'd always rather be the guy in the lead.
10:00 AM PT: ME-Sen: Even Angus will have to finally make a decision: The Senate's leadership elections for the 113th Congress will be held on Wednesday, and independent Angus King—who has steadfastly refused to say which party he'll caucus with—now says he wants to be able to participate. (Previously he'd said he wouldn't make up his mind until after Thanksgiving, which makes me wonder if he wasn't even aware of when the leadership vote was scheduled for.) Anyhow, if Angus somehow wants to join the demoralized and deep-in-the-minority Republicans, he's welcome to do so: 54 is still greater than 46.
10:45 AM PT: MA-Sen: I'm not really going to get into it at this point, since it's all too speculative, but Aaron Blake runs down what would happen if Sen. John Kerry were tapped as the next Secretary of Defense (or perhaps, Secretary of State). Massachusetts is one of the few states which requires special elections to fill Senate vacancies (as you'll recall from the original Scott Brown debacle), and the law also allows the governor to appoint a temporary replacement pending such an election. Blake has a list of possible candidates, if you're interested.
10:51 AM PT: NE-Gov: As expected, state Sen. Mike Flood has formally declared his candidacy for the Nebraska governor's mansion, which will be open in 2014 because current Gov. Dave Heineman is term-limited. Flood, the Speaker in the state's unicameral legislature, will face (at the very least) Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy—who has Heineman's backing—in the GOP primary, but there are a number of other potential candidates. On the Republican side, the Great Mentioner cites state Sen. Charlie Janssen, Attorney General Jon Bruning, and state Treasurer Don Stenberg. And while this would be an exceptionally tough race for Democrats, a few names are circulating as well, including state Sen. Steve Lathrop, who says he's considering a run; University of Nebraska Regent Chuck Hassebrook and Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler are also possibilities.
11:03 AM PT: MI-11: Here's a neat little story on Dave Curson, the Democratic union official who defeated Republican Kerry Bentivolio in the special election for the final two months of ex-Rep. Thad McCotter's term, even as Bentivolio was beating another Democrat, Syed Taj, in the race for the full term that starts in January. One detail I liked: For his seven-week sojourn, Curson will occupy McCotter's "palatial suite in the Rayburn building," and fellow Michigan Rep. John Dingell will lend him some staff members for the duration. Curson also says he "doubts very much" that he'd run against Bentivolio in 2014, but isn't ruling it out.
11:25 AM PT: Incidentally, Curson was sworn in on Tuesday, along with two other special election winners: Democrat Suzan DelBene in WA-01 and Republican Thomas Massie in KY-04. One other special election winner, Democrat Donald Payne, Jr. of NJ-10, will be sworn in later this week.
12:19 PM PT: FL-18: Jesus. So now the state of Florida is getting involved in the Patrick Murphy-Allen West race. The Florida Department of State, which oversees statewide elections, is sending three officials to St. Lucie County, which just conducted an unorthodox partial recount that saw 799 total votes disappear compared to earlier tallies. (Apparently, the proper term for this effort was a "retabulation," not a recount, which is an entirely different matter under state law.) In a statement, a DoS spokesperson said: "We are concerned whenever there is a question about the accuracy of results." Great.
And on top of that, a hundred West supporters have taken to protesting outside the St. Lucie elections board offices, carrying signs accusing god-knows-whom of "voter fraud" and berating elections chief Gertrude Walker as "Dirty Gertie." The Brooks Brothers riot this is not, though (video here).
Fortunately, though, an end might be in sight. On Nov. 20, the state's formal Election Canvassing Commission will meet to certify all election returns. If the election is certified for Murphy, that will narrow West's options. And Politico's Alex Isenstadt reports that some unnamed and unquoted "Republican officials" "privately acknowledge that West has few legal avenues to pursue and that, absent a major shift in the trajectory of the vote count, will soon come under pressure to concede." We need to get clarity on the actual vote, for sure. But there really doesn't seem to be any shot for West, though if anyone will drag this out needlessly, it's him.
12:31 PM PT (David Jarman): Governors: PPP is out with a helpful summary of where incumbent governors facing re-election stand, in terms of approval and matchups against generic opponents. This isn't new data, but it's from their last round of 2012 pre-election polling (where it got little attention in the face of the 2012 races), so it isn't stale either.
They break them down into three categories: the ones in a whole lot of trouble (four GOPers: Pennsylvania's Tom Corbett, Maine's Paul LePage, Florida's Rick Scott, and Ohio's John Kasich), those looking favored for now (Michigan's Rick Snyder, Wisconsin's Scott Walker, and Iowa's Terry Branstad, plus Connecticut Dem Dan Malloy), and those looking pretty safe (Minnesota Dem Mark Dayton, Colorado Dem John Hickenlooper, and Nevada GOPer Brian Sandoval). And if you're jonesing for your next poll injection, they say they'll resume 2013/14 cycle polling after Thanksgiving.
12:39 PM PT (David Jarman): Demographics: There's quite a lot of agreement that Texas is on a trajectory toward being a swing state, simply given the high rate of non-white growth there... we know it's a long-term project, though, but how long? Well, the Houston Chronicle set their numbers-crunchers to figuring that out, and the answer is: not as quickly as we'd like, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel, somewhere around 2024.
That's when their straight-line extrapolation finds that Democratic presidential votes will reach parity with Republican ones, based on expecting current population and political participation trends to continue unimpeded; they see the Democrats getting 5% closer in 2016 and 2020, closing the current 15% gap by 2024. (Of course, any number of variables could change that, such as the GOP making better inroads among Latino voters, or the Dems getting better participation rates out of Latino voters.)
12:38 PM PT: NRCC, NRSC: Looks like the GOP is just about done figuring out who will lead its two federal campaign committees next cycle. Oregon Rep. Greg Walden has circulated a letter asking his colleagues to support him as NRCC chair, which seems like a done deal. The only person who might have thwarted him was current chair Pete Sessions of Texas, who said back in September he might seek a third term on the job. But Sessions and Walden are apparently tight, and so it looks like bossman is clearing the way for his deputy to succeed him.
Meanwhile, on the NRSC front, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman is reportedly pulling his name from consideration. That pretty much leaves Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran as the only Republican who has expressed interest in the job, so he looks like a safe bet to succeed Texas Sen. John Cornyn.
12:44 PM PT: And here's a dispiriting development: Republican attorneys in AZ-02 are going to court to try to prevent 130 provisional ballots cast in a heavily Latino precinct in Cochise County from being counted.
1:24 PM PT: AK-Sen: It's hard not to feel like freshman Sen. Mark Begich is the Democrat with the biggest target painted on his back as we head into the 2014 election cycle: He won office in 2008 against an incredibly damaged incumbent in a very red state, which means his re-election chances probably start off at Tossup at best. So of course, Republicans are already lining up to run against him, and one GOP consultant even said to Roll Call that "it might be easier to ask which Republicans aren't considering taking on Begich." Indeed, at Netroots Nation in 2011, I asked Begich whom he might face and the list of names he rattled off was so long that I can scarcely remember a single one!
But fortunately, Kyle Trygstad's got a new list handy. He reports that Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and 2010 Senate nominee Joe Miller are already trying to line up support for potential bids, and adds that former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman, Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan, and even Gov. Sean Parnell might be interested. All that said, Begich is an excellent campaigner who, like Montana's Jon Tester, appears to have done a good job carving out a distinct profile for himself back home. What's more, Begich won't face the pressure of the presidential race bearing down on him from the top of the ticket; indeed, in 2008, he had to deal with Sarah Palin. And one positive note is that Barack Obama appears to have taken a higher share of the vote in Alaska last week than any Democrat since Hubert Humphrey. This will definitely be a hard-fought race.
1:40 PM PT: DSCC: While Republicans seem to already know who's going to lead their Senate campaign committee (see NRSC item below), Democrats are still casting about for a successor to Washington Sen. Patty Murray, who led the DSCC during its victorious 2012 cycle. Of course, 2014 will be an utter bear: With Democrats almost entirely on defense, it'll make 2012 look like Super Mario Bros. hacked to give you unlimited lives and permanent fireballs. So yeah, there probably aren't a lot of eager takers for the job, though Politico's Maggie Haberman reports that Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet "was offered the post" and is apparently considering it. (Bennet turned down the same opportunity last cycle, though.)
Other possibles include Sens. Amy Klobuchar (MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), all of whom just won their second elections by resounding margins. Whoever gets the gig will mostly have to focus on fundraising, though recruiting may be important depending on whether certain members retire, like West Virginia's Jay Rockefeller and South Dakota's Tim Johnson. The good news is that expectations have to be very low for whomever takes the job, so a tough showing next cycle probably won't damage anyone's career.
2:09 PM PT: AZ-Gov: We've written about this nonsense before, but I'm not surprised to see it coming up again now, with the elections behind us: GOP Gov. Jan Brewer is claiming once more that she might try to challenge Arizona's laws which forbid her from running for a third term. This notion is based on some alleged ambiguity over whether the rules apply to her, since was first elevated to her current post in 2009 when then-Gov. Janet Napolitano left to become head of the Department of Homeland Security and has only been elected governor once. But mostly it seems like a way for Brewer to stave off lame-duck-ness, if legislators think she might actually serve another term.
Assuming, though, that this fever-dream won't become reality, a lot of names are already surfacing for possible 2014 bids. For Republicans, the Arizona Republic's early list includes Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, Secretary of State Ken Bennett, state Treasurer Doug Ducey, Attorney General Tom Horne, state Sen. Steve Pierce, and Mesa businessman Wil Cardon (who got whomped in the GOP Senate primary earlier this year by Jeff Flake).
For Democrats, some top possibilities are state Rep. Chad Campbell, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, former Arizona Board of Regents Chairman Fred Duval, and attorney Felecia Rotellini (who ran against Horne for AG in 2010). One other longshot possibility for Team Blue: Rich Carmona, who just lost the Senate race. Everyone except Ducey and Duval is quoted in some manner, either not ruling out a run or saying they're "considering," though a Carmona spokesman says he wants to wait until all ballots are counted in this election before considering the next.
3:28 PM PT: CA-07: Democrat Ami Bera continues to expand his lead over incumbent Republican (and freshman orientation leader) Dan Lungren in suburban Sacramento. As of Tuesday evening, Bera's more than doubled his lead—now 3,824 votes—from the previous update. Around 80,000 votes remain to be counted across the county, slightly more than half of which should be in CA-07. (Sacto estimated about 130K on Friday, and approximately 50K were counted in this latest batch, leaving some 80K remaining in total.)
Assuming there are 50,000 votes left to be split between Bera and Lungren, Lungren's magic number is 53.8 percent. And the same math that is hurting GOP Rep. Brian Bilbray in San Diego is affecting Lungren, too. The number of votes left to be counted continues to drop, and the newly counted votes seem to be more Bera-friendly: The last batch of votes broke for Bera 54-46! Given this, we can all turn our attention to a new race: Who will concede first, Lungren or Bilbray?