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Leading Off:

MI-Gov: The Michigan gubernatorial race took on much greater significance Tuesday, with Republican incumbent Rick Snyder's signing of rushed-through right-to-work legislation. Before this, it seemed like the usually non-controversial Snyder was one of the less vulnerable members of the gubernatorial class of 2010, but he may have vaulted himself up the list, in this very union-centric state.

With that in mind, the Detroit Free Press took a look at their picks for the six likeliest Democratic contenders. Their top two are names you already probably know: state Senate minority leader Gretchen Whitmer and Rep. Gary Peters (they put Whitmer at the top of the list, for whatever that's worth). Lansing mayor Virg Bernero is also on the list, though he seems like kind of a non-starter after faring poorly against Snyder in 2010. Rounding out the list are ex-Rep. Mark Schauer (who's been co-chairing the Jobs21 program of the Blue Green Alliance of environmentalists and unionists), Denise Ilitch (rich person and Univ. of Michigan regent, whom you might remember briefly testing the MI-Gov waters in 2010), and a name I hadn't heard before, Macomb Co. Executive Mark Hackel (who seems like he'd be on the right flank of the Dem field).

Also, there's the open question of whether the right-to-work legislation can be overturned via more direct means (merely electing a Democrat governor alone wouldn't do it; it would also require electing a Democratic state legislature, using the currently gerrymandered map). One solution that labor is already pushing is challenging the law through the courts on open meeting law grounds, seeing as how the bill was accomplished without requisite public hearings.

Failing that, Michigan does have the initiative process (a $1 million appropriation was attached to make it "referendum-proof," but it could still be challenged by an initiative originating with the voters). It'd require 285,000 signatures, a fairly high bar, but one that union canvassers ought to be able to meet. Hopefully they'll learn from Wisconsin's experience and avoid the temptation of recalls, though; patience seems a better approach when the Gov. and entire legislature are up in 2014 anyway.

Senate:

KY-Sen '16: Public Policy Polling cleared the decks of all the miscellany from their Kentucky poll; one number that is especially eye-catching is that current Dem. Gov Steve Beshear actually tops Rand Paul, 46-44, in a hypothetical 2016 matchup. Termed-out Beshear -- the state's most popular politician, with a 51/34 approval -- will be looking for a new job in 2015, or more likely thinking about retirement; he's already ruled out a Senate run in 2014. Ashley Judd, who was surprisingly viable against Mitch McConnell, fares about the same against Paul, down 47-44.

Also noteworthy: Hillary Clinton fares well here in 2016, indicative that the Clintons still maintain some unique appeal in Appalachia that other Dems don't; she leads Paul by 5 and Marco Rubio by 8. (PPP also has some North Carolina miscellany, not much worth reporting from that other than that Pat McCrory enters office with 53/25 favorables while Bev Perdue leaves with 35/52 approvals.)

SC-Sen-A, SC-Sen-B: Rep. Mick Mulvaney got taken down a peg or three when he wasn't included on Nikki Haley's "short list" of Senate replacements (despite his previous expression of confidence); now he's saying that he'd be fully behind fellow House members Tim Scott or Trey Gowdy for the job (both of whom were on the short list). As for one of the other picks, though, he didn't rule out challenging them in the a special election primary in 2014 -- especially Jenny Sanford, about whom he said "I'm not really sure why she's on the list."

Maybe more significantly, he also took himself out of contention for a GOP primary challenge to Lindsey Graham in the regularly-scheduled election; last week, state Sen. Tom Davis, who'd been treated as the likeliest primary challenger to Graham, said that he "probably wouldn't" run but that he hoped that Mulvaney would take on Graham.

Gubernatorial:

IL-Gov: Joe Walsh continuing to run his mouth, despite getting badly beaten for re-election, is not in itself newsworthy. If it involves a run for higher office, though, I suppose it's at least worth a mention. At his final town meeting over the weekend, he refused to rule out a run for something else, and specifically said, "This Republican Party needs a Scott Walker to run for governor, and I haven't seen or heard that candidate."

On the Democratic side, one other potential Illinois gubernatorial candidate has bubbled up too. It's John Atkinson, a wealthy insurance exec who could self-fund; he's floating his name for a primary challenge to unpopular incumbent governor Pat Quinn. If Atkinson's name sounds vaguely familiar, he'd been planning to primary Dan Lipiniski in IL-03 from the left in 2012, up until redistricting saved Lipinski (by placing Atkinson's house in the 11th, and giving Lipinski a swingier, more-suburban district better suited for his conservaDem leanings).

NY-Gov: Popular culture would have you believe that New Yorkers hate everyone and everything, but they're apparently a bunch of shiny happy people right now, according to Quinnipiac's new poll of approvals-only. They like Barack Obama (62/35), they like Charles Schumer (63/23), they really like Kirsten Gillibrand (61/18), and they looooove Andrew Cuomo (74/13). While they don't exactly like the legislature (35/46), they do approve of the coalition in charge of the Senate, which they favor at 48% to 31% for Democratic control and 17% for Republican control.

House:

IL-02: It was an idea that seemed very apparently unwise from a branding perspective (in much the same way that we didn't see Jeb Bush run for president in 2008). And Sandi Jackson -- Chicago alderwoman, but more significantly, wife of recently-resigned Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. -- seems to have realized that, confirming that she won't be a candidate in the special election to replace her husband. (She also says she won't be resigning as alderwoman unless "something catastrophic" happens.)

Grab Bag:

Ads: We've already seen some anecdotal evidence of this, like that analysis of the Omaha media market a few weeks ago. But now we're seeing it on a more-thorough, national scale: a full analysis of ad spending by the Obama and Romney campaigns finds that the Obama campaign spent less overall on advertising and yet managed to air more ads and have more visibility in key markets, thanks to a focus on finding the most efficient ad slots. Especially worth seeing, the Washinton Post's story comes with a cool graphic showing the week-by-week tide of pro-Romney vs. anti-Romney ads sloshing back and forth.

Census: If there are any Republican strategists going around with pants still unsoiled after reading this year's exit polls and county-level results, well, that should change, after reading the Census Bureau's newest population projections. They're projecting that the U.S. will no longer have a non-Hispanic white majority by the year 2043, and by 2060, minorities will comprise 57% of the population. The non-Hispanic white population is expected to peak in 2024 and start falling (not just on a percentage basis but in terms of raw numbers), falling from 199 million in 2024 to 179 million in 2060. (The country's total population is expected to be a whopping 420 million in 2060.)

Dark money: It's only going to apply at the state level (and not, say, U.S. House races in New York), but New York's Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, is pushing new rules that would shake up the dark money system, going well beyond anything happening at the federal level. Tax-exempt "charitable" groups doing business in New York would have to disclose what percentage of their spending goes to political activities, and any group spending more than $10,000 on elections in New York would need to disclose the name of any donor giving $100 or more. (This is all at the regulatory level, rather than being legislation that would have to survive the state's Republican-quasi-controlled Senate.)

DCCC: The DCCC is hitting 21 House Republicans over the fiscal "cliff" negotiations with radio ads and web videos. We don't usually get up and dance every time the DCCC blasts out another press release about their latest round of web videos, but this is moderately interesting since it's early in the cycle and this gives some insight into where they think they might be playing offense in two years' time. (Here's a sample of the web video, targeting Gary Miller in CA-31.)

In addition to CA-31, they're also doing web videos in FL-10, IA-03, MN-02, NY-19, and WA-03, while doing radio in AR-01, AR-02, CA-10, CA-25, FL-02, LA-04, MN-03, NE-02, NV-03, NY-23, OH-06, PA-08, SD-AL, VA-10, and WV-01. (OK, so LA-04? Maybe they're hoping that becomes an open seat if John Fleming runs for Senate.)

Pres-by-CD: Another day, another 18 districts. Today, we cover the remaining districts in California and Illinois, as well as all of Maryland.

California (CA-01 through CA-05, CA-16, CA-21, CA-22)

Illinois (IL-13, IL-16, and IL-18)

Maryland (statewide)

Reps. Gary Miller and Jeff Denham get another friend in the club of California Republicans representing Obama districts: incoming freshman Rep. David Valadao, whose CA-21 gave Obama 54.6 percent of the vote. (Dem nominee John Hernandez lagged Obama by more than 10 points.) The results that people have sent in have allowed us to finish our calculations before the Secretary of State has even formally certified the election. Accordingly, we're not closing the books on this one entirely yet; we'll revisit on Friday, when the state certifies, to ensure that our totals cross-check against the certified ones.

My colleague David Jarman described the Madiganmander in Illinois as "precise", and indeed it is. In addition to the 57-58 percent Obama districts designed to be Dem pickups upstate, the swingy IL-13 was, well, swingy: the 900-vote margin between Obama and Romney is the closest one we've calculated to date.

Finally, in Maryland, the Democratic gerrymander not only held up nicely, but was also buoyed by the slight swing towards Obama across the state. Obama saw only a slight drop-off in the designed-pickup 6th, but Dem John Delaney beat incumbent Roscoe Bartlett anyway (by a not-close 20 points). Maryland, like North Carolina, also has an early-vote allocation problem; as with NC, we'll update should we get more detailed information.

As a bonus, we also ran some quick numbers on how Question 6 (which affirmed marriage equality in the state) performed across the districts: 'Yes' (for marriage equality) was blown out in MD-01 (losing by 14) and lost narrowly in MD-04 and MD-05 (by about 400 votes in the former, 4 points in the latter). The good guys won narrowly in 3 other districts: MD-02 (by a point), MD-06 (by 5 points), MD-07 (by 8 points), and utterly romped in MD-03 (Yes +18) and as expected, MD-08 (Yes +25). (jeffmd)

Special elections: Can you believe we're already having our first legislative special elections of the cycle? Here's Johnny Longtorso with last night's results (from two GOP-held seats that the Dems weren't expected to pick up):

Alabama HD-30 - This one ended up being surprisingly close. Republican Mack Butler defeated Democrat Beth McGlaughn by a 53-47 margin. This district isn't one that just flipped to the Republicans in 2010, either -- the previous incumbent had been in office since 1994.

Iowa SD-22 - Nothing to see here. Republican Charles Schneider defeated Democrat Desmund Adams 57-43 to hold the seat for his party.

Trendspotting: Our Dreaminonempty is out with a piece looking at the very slow but definitely perceptible trend in the Democrats' direction at the presidential level over the last three decades, accompanied by some historical evidence reminding us that a trend is a trend up until, well, it isn't a trend anymore.

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

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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