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Leading Off:

OR-Sen, OR-Gov: Public Policy Polling's new look at Oregon indicates that the 2014 Senate and gubernatorial races aren't on track to become competitive, unless the GOP can scrape up either of the state's two top-tier options: Gordon Smith or Greg Walden. (And they won't: Smith is ensconced on K Street, while Walden was just tapped to run the NRCC and isn't about to give that up.) Freshman Sen. Jeff Merkley and three-term Gov. John Kitzhaber both have solid approvals (44/29 and 50/41 respectively), though the state's most popular politician remains Dem Sen. Ron Wyden (at 57/24). Here are the head-to-heads. First Merkley:

• 47-43 vs. ex-Sen. Gordon Smith
• 47-42 vs. Rep. Greg Walden
• 53-36 vs. state GOP chair & loser of '10 gubernatorial primary Allen Alley
• 52-34 vs. state House co-speaker Bruce Hanna
• 52-32 vs. state Sen. & loser of '12 Labor Comm. race Bruce Starr

And Kitzhaber looks much the same:

• 47-42 vs. Smith
• 49-40 vs. Walden
• 52-37 vs. Alley
• 52-33 vs. Hanna
• 53-31 vs. Starr

Oregonians also looked poised to move forward on a potential initiative to approve same-sex marriage: They favor the idea 54-40, including 68-30 among voters under age 45. Perhaps the most shocking number from the sample is that respondents approve of the Oregon Ducks' quirky football uniforms—which have often resembled an explosion at the Mountain Dew factory—by a 43-13 margin.


MA-Sen: It's not as big as the $25 million that Mitt Romney had left over, but Scott Brown finds himself with a fair amount of money still in his pockets after his losing effort: $464,000, though he says after remaining bills are settled up, it'll be more like $150-$200K.

Bear in mind, though, that that money could be applied toward his next Senate run, if John Kerry's seat becomes vacant and there's another special election. (Of course, $200K is barely a down payment on a Senate race, and some of the state's current or former Democratic House members he might run against are sitting on more than that.) The more interesting question, though (and one I haven't found an answer for yet), is whether Massachusetts law would allow him to transfer those federal dollars over to a 2014 gubernatorial race.

MO-Sen: Busted! After all its loud pronouncements that it wouldn't give one penny more to Todd Akin after his "legitimate rape" implosion, now it turns out that the NRSC did, in fact, slip a fair amount of last-minute money to Akin in the campaign's waning weeks. Records released on Thursday reveal that the NRSC sent $760K to the Missouri state Republican Party in early November, as the state party was trying to salvage the race with a flight of pro-Akin ads.

Not only does this open up the NRSC to all sorts of charges of hypocrisy, though (and it has to leave future GOP candidates wondering even more than before how much they can trust them), it doesn't even make much sense from a tactical standpoint. Sure, the NRSC was in a pickle at that point watching various races slip away from them, but this one had (unless you wanted to go by Mason-Dixon and Wenzel polling) already fallen off the chart long before, and another $760K wasn't going to make a difference. So think how much more damage that money could have done in North Dakota or Montana, where the races were much closer (and the airtime cheaper). Of course, the airwaves in all the more competitive states may have already been booked solid by that point, but just banking the money toward 2014 may have been a more sound tactical decision by then.

SC-Sen-B: If you were worried that the race to find a replacement for the recently-resigned Jim DeMint might not be as hilarious as it could be, don't worry. Ex-Gov. Mark Sanford—thanks to whom we'll never be able to look at the "Appalachian Trail" the same way again—has just expressed his sort-of interest in the job (saying "it's not a 'no,' but it's not a 'yes'").


GA-Gov: The Georgia governor's race in 2014 is getting short shrift with most of the attention going to the Senate race (which could involve a cat fud-flavored primary on the Republican side), but Public Policy Polling finds that Dems shouldn't necessarily write it off. First-term GOP Gov. Nathan Deal has only middling popularity—37/40 approvals—and he leads potential Democratic challengers by only single digits. That includes Rep. John Barrow at 44-40, Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed at 47-40, and state Sen. Jason Carter at 46-38. Contrast that with the Senate race, which would likely require a bank shot (the loss of Saxby Chambliss to a more conservative Republican in the primary) to be competitive.

MA-Gov: This is well short of formally passing the torch to her or even throwing some elbows to clear a path, but it sounds like Deval Patrick may have a successor in mind as Massachusetts governor: He's been talking up U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz with legislative insiders for the job. It's not the first time we've seen her name mentioned for the job (we first took note of her in March, for instance), but this indicates she may be something more than a dark horse.

NJ-Gov: I still can't see Newark Mayor Cory Booker getting into the New Jersey gubernatorial race, when the 2014 Senate race (which seems likely to be an open seat) presents a more tempting target. But he isn't explicitly ruling it out yet; he says he'll make a formal decision by mid-December (which, presumably, would be in the next couple weeks).

PA-Gov, PA-13: I'd kind of mentally ruled-out Rep. Allyson Schwartz from a gubernatorial run; if she were to go for a promotion, it's always seemed like it'd be on the Senate side, especially with Pat Toomey offering a huge target in 2016. But we now have some anecdotal evidence that she's gearing up for something bigger: She just hired key insider Aubrey Montgomery, who has headed fundraising for the state Democratic Party, for her own operation. I still would have thought that meant prepping for '16, but the article contains off-the-record quotes from unnamed Democrats that she's "considering" a gubernatorial run. Given how hard Gov. Tom Corbett's approvals have dropped in the wake of his education cuts, it's not unreasonable; he might actually be more vulnerable than Toomey.


CA-15: The defeat of twenty-term veteran Pete Stark by 31-year-old Eric Swalwell in California's 15th tends to get left off the year's "biggest upset" lists (probably because the seat stayed in Democratic hands), but you may be left wondering how he did it. The New Republic has a good profile of the new congressman, looking back at his flair for showmanship while in college student government, and his low-budget but nimble campaign.

Grab Bag:

Ads: The troika of the AFSCME, SEIU, and NEA is back with another round of ads warning four congresscritters to keep their hands off Medicare and Medicaid benefits. Their targeting is kind of unusual: On the Senate side, they're going after two centrist Dems, Claire McCaskill and Mark Warner. On the House side, they're aiming at two conservative-but-not-steeped-in-tea Republicans, including one who won't even be around starting next month: Pat Tiberi and Denny Rehberg, who is retiring after losing the Montana Senate race to Jon Tester.

Demographics: In case you missed it, our own dreaminonempty is out with another deep dive into the exit polls, looking at how much different generations have comported with the old saw that voters get more conservative as they get older.

PACs: You're probably well aware of the now-resigned Jim DeMint's track record as "kingmaker" in the Senate, thanks to his Senate Conservatives Fund PAC and its meddling in GOP primaries, but just how successful was he at moving the numbers? NBC's First Read has calculated the damage, and it shows that he may have been most successful at moving numbers for... the Democrats.

They found that of the 20 races where his PAC spent money, his preferred candidate won the primary election 15 times... but his preferred candidate won the general election only 7 times. His success stories were Ron Johnson, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Pat Toomey, Ted Cruz, and Jeff Flake, but on the other side of the balance sheet are Sharron Angle, Ken Buck, Joe Miller, Christine O'Donnell, John Raese, Dino Rossi, Josh Mandel, and Richard Mourdock.

That may still be a better bang-for-the-buck record, though, than Marco Rubio's comparable Reclaim America PAC (a "leadership PAC," separate from his own campaign fund). Recent data suggests it's mostly just a slush fund, with only 4.6% of the money its spends being spent on other candidates (the industry-wide average on leadership PACs is 46% spent on other candidates). Only $75K of the fund's $1.6 million spent went to other candidates; by contrast, $478K went to consultants.

Pres-by-CD: We added one state (Colorado) and one county today (San Diego CA), for a another 12 congressional districts with presidential election results:

California (CA-49 through CA-53)

Colorado (Statewide)

The swing in Colorado was more uniform than in most, which each district having given Obama between 1 and 3 points lesser than it did in 2008. (Obama carried CO-06 by about 5, further evidence that GOP Rep. Mike Coffman will likely stay on Democratic target lists.) Obama's wild improvement in minority-heavy districts continues, having raised his share by several points in the heavily Hispanic CA-51.

In addition, the Washington SoS office graced us with its own spreadsheet of pres-by-CD calculations, saving us the trouble. Much as with Colorado, the movement was a uniform swing of 1-2 points in Romney's direction in each CD. (The one slightly-worse outlier was Vancouver-based WA-03, dropping from 51-47 to 48-50.)

Redistricting Roundup:

KS Redistricting: Yes, you read that right, and no, we're not getting an early start on the 2020 cycle. Kansas, you might recall, had its redistricting process fall into disarray despite a Republican trifecta because of infighting between moderates and conservatives and wound up having a federal court draw its map. Well, now that conservatives have firm control over the state Senate after last year's primaries, they're interested in going back and drawing their own map and are currently researching as to whether state law would let them do so. Despite their dominance in the chamber, it sounds like conservatives want to gild the lily and deploy their dream maps on the legislative level. (With a 4-0 Republican House delegation in Washington, it's harder to imagine any changes to the federal lines.)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  For voters to approve of the Oregon Ducks' unis (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bear83, progdog, blueoregon

    the polls must be skewed! #justsaying


    -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

    by dopper0189 on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 05:10:23 AM PST

  •  Senator Merkley. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    progdog, blueoregon, stevenaxelrod

    I am not sure where the assumption of his unpopularity came from, but it's nice to see that PPP finds him quite popular if not invulnerable. Keep on keeping on, Senator Awesome!
  Students for a New American Politics!

    by redrelic17 on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 05:24:20 AM PST

  •  John Cornyn. (0+ / 0-)

    His idiocy in matters of political strategy mirrors his idiocy in legislative policy. Discuss. Students for a New American Politics!

    by redrelic17 on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 05:28:48 AM PST

  •  Do DeMint's successes have staying power? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    His success stories were Ron Johnson, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Pat Toomey, Ted Cruz, and Jeff Flake,
    While Mike Lee and Rand Paul are safe bets for the long term in red states, you would think Ron Johnson, Marco Rubio, and Pat Toomey will have major battles on their hands in 2016 in Obama blue states. Demographic changes in TX & AZ will also make Cruz and Flake increasingly vulnerable - if not in 2018, then certainly by 2024.

    DeMint's efforts to elect rabid right wingers is not a winning long-term strategy across most of the country.

    Filibuster reform now. No more Gentleman's agreements.

    by bear83 on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 05:31:44 AM PST

    •  Paul is a decent bet (0+ / 0-)

      but he, too, will face a challenge.

      ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

      by James Allen on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 05:37:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Toomey - here in PA, depends on opponent (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Would be nice if the nearly dead moderate wing of the PA GOP primaried him, but I doubt it will happen.  The Hugh Scott / John Heinz / Arlen Specter wing of the PA GOP is dead.  No life signs anywhere.  In the general, it will depend on the quality and "politics" of the Democratic nominee.  Someone too far left would appeal to Phila, Pittsburgh and much of the 4 Phila ring suburban counties' Democratic primary voters but could be too far from middle to win statewide in the general election against Toomey.  PA does not have a history of electing progressives.  Fast Eddie Rendell did not run as a progressive (and did not govern as one - to many Dems' disappointment).  Toomey should be beatable, but he is no more right wing than Rick Santorum and the party was unable to beat little Ricky until Bob Casey came along with his unique pedigree (white Catholic male not from Philadelphia with a golden last name, good resume of prior statewide elections, anti-choice (but often pro-birth control - except for the Blount Amendment), hugely pro-labor, generally supportive of LBGT issues (tho not on marriage equality) - a good mix for the middle-of-the-road PA general election electorate).  We Dems could nominate someone too far left or someone with other attributes that the general electorate would not embrace.  

  •  Paul's advantage comes from his father (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aquarius40, OGGoldy

    the faithful will throw gobs of cash at him hoping for a Ron Paul R3volution redux

    •  Yep. (0+ / 0-)

      My Ron Paul friend, who had basically done a "dead to me" with Rand Paul after he endorsed Romney a few months ago, has now changed his tune and is back supporting Rand Paul, because he says it's better to support someone you agree with "90% of the time".

      Even though he also disagrees with Rand on the whole "corporations are people, my friend" line, plus his tacit agreement to impose additional sanctions on Iran.  (This guy's Iranian.)

  •  Re the Ducks' uniforms... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    progdog, blueoregon, Odysseus

    "...respondents approve of the Oregon Ducks' quirky football uniforms—which have often resembled an explosion at the Mountain Dew factory..."

    :  )

  •  Oregon Rs didn't run candidates for AG and state (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wwmiv, blueoregon, stevenaxelrod

    treasurer, which are two of the seven state-wide offices.  AG in particular is viewed as a potential jump-off point for the governor's office.

    Walden has a safe district in eastern Oregon, he has never won a state-wide race, and in fact there is no statewide Republican office holder.

    What happened in Oregon was that the Republican party, which used to dominate the state's politics, purged itself of the moderate and liberals such as Mark Hatfield, and began nominating no-name wingnuts.

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 05:48:27 AM PST

    •  Actually, they nominated moderate images (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cartoon Peril, Aviate

      who did not identify with their parties.

      The attacks on them were, in essence:

      "Did you know that so and so is an R"?

      "Remember, Rs say"

      And the moderate images (Buehler, Starr) were toast.

      (While I think Walden would be a difficult candidate to defeat statewide, he has not shown any interest in running statewide -- and his current positions in the House suggest that's where he'll stay.)

      I hope; therefore, I can live.

      by tietack on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 06:29:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, I'm thinking about a few years back, they (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        had that grifter Sizemore who ran for governor and lost, part of a long chain of losses that began when the last decent nominee they had, David Frohnmayer, was dragged down in 1990 (I think) when the conservatives ran a third party nominee who siphoned off his margin of victory.  

        You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

        by Cartoon Peril on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 06:53:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Walden's too conservative. (0+ / 0-)

        ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

        by James Allen on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 07:28:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Buehler really went out of his way (0+ / 0-)

        To hide his party affiliation. I remember having to dig around to find it. He got endorsements from practically all the local papers (even liberal Willamette Week if I recall). Fat lot of good it did him.

  •  After seeing some of those past uniforms... (0+ / 0-)

    ...I definitely approve of the current ones. :D

    Then again, I am a Beaver.

    "...we can all shut-up and go back to our caves." - Leonard Bernstein

    by progdog on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 05:49:34 AM PST

  •  Go Oregon Go! (0+ / 0-)

    "Let us never forget that doing the impossible is the history of this nation....It's how we are as Americans...It's how this country was built"- Michelle Obama

    by blueoregon on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 06:00:12 AM PST

  •  Brown's Federal Money (3+ / 0-)

    cannot be used fora run for Governor.  Massachusetts donation restrictions are much stronger than the Federal ones -- $500 max -- so the money is not transferable.  As former treasurer of the Massachusetts Libertarian Party -- a point I would elsewise never discuss here -- one of my critical tasks was reminding people of what could only be done with state funds and what could only be done with Federal Funds.

    We can have change for the better.

    by phillies on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 06:09:22 AM PST

  •  Oregon - no Dudley? (0+ / 0-)

    I'm surprised that PPP didn't poll 2010 Republican Gubernatorial candidate Chris Dudley versus Kitzhaber or Merkley. Is it because the Oregon GOP now sees him for the empty suit he is?

    ‎"Masculinity is not something given to you, but something you gain. And you gain it by winning small battles with honor." - Norman Mailer
    My Blog
    My wife's woodblock prints

    by maxomai on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 06:22:04 AM PST

    •  he moved to California, IIRC. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

      by James Allen on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 06:25:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Of course, proving that he (0+ / 0-)

        really was the empty suit they propped up in hopes of fooling people into voting Republican.  It was his own 47% moment, approving of sub-minimum wages for food servers that finished him off.  There are lot of highly educated food servers in Portland.

        Gay marriage should pass soon - 1. because it's embarrassing being the only blue Left Coast State that has a constitutional amendment banning it, and 2. of the men behind passing that loathsome amendment, Lon Mabon went to jail and Scott Lively left the state to spew his hatred after losing several court cases.

        Oregonians know Merkley - he is more popular with the left than Wyden or Kitz.

  •  The money Brown has left over is chump change... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    redrelic17, Marcus Graly, Odysseus

    It's certainly not going to be any deciding factor in which race he chooses.  Now if it was seven figures one could read into it that he purposefully saved money when the writing was on the wall in the Warren race but having 400K left over when he spent $20M+ means he probably got in late money that he didn't budget forecast perfectly for.  

    They have the billionaires, We have the Big Dog!

    by Jacoby Jonze on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 06:24:17 AM PST

  •  NJ-Gov Don’t validate Booker’s path of least (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marcus Graly, xcave, WilliamE

    Don’t validate Booker’s path of least resistance

    In order for Booker to re-establish his profile as somebody deserving support from Progressive Democrats, after his nauseating TV undercutting of Obama’s successful targeting of Bain, Booker needs to help the Democratic Party by challenging Christie. (Yes, Bill Clinton said something similar at the time, and look what Bill did to redeem himself during Obama’s re-election home stretch).

    It appears that Booker is best placed to give Christie a serious challenge, which should pressure Christie to take moderate positions that would disqualify him in the eyes of Republican primary voters. A weak gubernatorial challenger would allow Christie to be vaguer, which would ease his path onto the Republican ticket, where he would probably have more chance of winning than anybody else on the horizon.

    Softening up Christie in this way would do Booker’s future career a lot more good than pushing aside Frank Lautenberg to get into the Senate in 2014.  A strong (even if losing) gubernatorial race against Christie in 2013 should leave Booker as the natural successor to the governorship in 2017 (or earlier if Christie departs for a national office or appointment).  If Booker wants to run for President, the best way to get there is not to hang around the Senate for the six years to 2020 or the ten years to 2024.  Instead, he should make his Presidential run either directly from the governor’s position, or (like Obama) quickly after joining the Senate.

    Even if Booker wants to keep open the option of challenging Lautenberg in the 2014 primary, the best way to prepare for that would be to run against Christie in the mean time.

    •  Very well thought out argument (0+ / 0-)

      You've convinced me, for what that's worth

      "Every daring attempt to make a great change in existing conditions, every lofty vision of new possibilities for the human race, has been labeled Utopian."

      by xcave on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 07:20:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I actually (0+ / 0-)

      have been wondering, if Booker runs for governor, if that means Lautenberg plans on running again if Christie loses.  After all, it'd be better to have Booker there to appoint a replacement should Lautenberg die in office than Christie.

  •  54-40 or Fight! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    uclabruin18, aamail6, jncca

    I saw the polling numbers favoring marriage equality 54-40 and I thought of the Oregon boundary dispute.

    The turmoil gave rise to slogans like "Fifty-four Forty or Fight!" and the catchphrase "Manifest Destiny".
    Maybe I'm the only one who thought this.

    “If you misspell some words, it’s not plagiarism.” – Some Writer

    by Dbug on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 08:21:45 AM PST

  •  PA-Gov: Schwartz vs. Sestak (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Since Sestak oddly helped Rep. Schwartz's Dem primary opponent I am guessing any decision by her to jump into the Gov race does not mean Sestak will yield to her decision. Wonder if there is a bit more to her potential decision here.

  •  Will Kitzhaber run again? (0+ / 0-)

    I seem to recall hints that he would only serve one term, since this is his third term (non-consecutive) as governor. By 2014, there could be a lot of Kitz fatigue, especially if he pushes through pension reform.

    As for the Ducks uniforms, that strikes me as the ultimate poorly-worded poll question. Which uniforms are they talking about? The Ducks never seem to wear the same ones twice!

  •  no need to get catty (0+ / 0-)

    about the Duck's uni's
    by the way, Bruce Starr is just the latest wingnut-bagger-Bircher from the notorious Starr family---which has blighted Oregon politics for decades now...

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