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Leading Off:

VA-Sen: PPP now confirms what you already knew about freshman Dem Sen. Mark Warner: He's looking good for 2014. In fact, I'd even say "very good," seeing as his 52-31 job approval rating makes him the most popular politician in Virginia. And here's how Warner fares against the biggest Republican names, none of whom have actually expressed even the slightest interest in challenging him:

• 52-42 vs. Gov. Bob McDonnell

• 53-35 vs. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling

• 56-37 vs. Rep. Eric Cantor

• 57-36 vs. AG Ken Cuccinelli

We should probably come up with a term for this, but the standard guess says that the GOP will have to rely on random rich guy or unknown state legislator, though I can't imagine them getting much traction either way. (Just imagine if Harris Miller had been the Democratic nominee in 2006 instead of Jim Webb.) After three straight Senate failures in a row in Virginia for Republicans, hopefully they'll just leave this one alone.

P.S. A couple of other tidbits: Newly elected Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine starts off with a 42-36 job approval rating (even though he'd been on the job all of one day when PPP went into the field!). President Obama's approvals are pretty hale, at 53-43—a good sign, given that he won here by only four points in November. Democrats also hold a four-point lead on the generic legislative ballot; all 100 seats in the state House are up for re-election this fall.


MA-Sen: Add one more big name to the roster of people endorsing Rep. Ed Markey for Senate: Barney Frank, who of course is angling for a temporary appointment to the seat Markey would like to win outright. And in classic Frank fashion, he also tried to nudge Rep. Mike Capuano away from the Democratic primary, saying he's supporting Markey because he thinks "Capuano is probably not running."

One notable aspect of Frank's move that hasn't been remarked on much so far is that Frank blamed unhappiness over redistricting as a reason for his retirement last year—and even went as far to accuse Markey of getting preferential treatment. So by swallowing his anger here and rallying around the anointed candidate, it looks like Frank is continuing his efforts to please the establishment and convince Gov. Deval Patrick that he's the right man for the interim job.

NJ-Sen: To go along with their gubernatorial numbers, FDU also has a look at a potential Democratic primary (PDF) between Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Newark Mayor Cory Booker. In the pollster's parlance, "among self-identified Democrats and Democratic leaners," Booker leads Lautenberg 42-20. Booker has a much higher favorability rating: 66-13 vs. 45-29 for Lautenberg, but those numbers represent all voters, not just Democrats. (The crosstabs don't include party breakdowns for those particular questions, for some reason.) As for the head-to-heads, that's not a bad place for Booker to be in, and I'm not sure I'd like seeing that "20" if I were the incumbent. But it's a lot closer than the 59-22 margin PPP recently found in favor of Booker.


IL-Gov: Republican state Treasurer Dan Rutherford gets his obligatory mention in the Digest: He's now all but confirmed that he's running for governor this cycle, though he's still refusing to say the magic words. Rutherford says he'll make a formal announcement after President Obama is sworn in for a second term on Jan. 21, so until then, seeya!

MA-Gov: The Massachusetts Democratic gubernatorial primary could get quite crowded indeed. State AG Martha Coakley on Wednesday didn't even bother with a classic politician's dodge, instead merely saying "no comment" in response to a question about whether she'd run for governor in 2014. (Seriously, though, "no comment"? That's really weak. You've got to be able to do better than that.)

MN-Gov: Though he just ruled out a Senate comeback in 2014, Republican Norm Coleman now tells the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune that he isn't closing the door on a possible gubernatorial bid. We'll check back in with ol' Norm when he's got something more definitive for us. Also, in an odd detail, Coleman refused to tell the Strib whether or not he'd spoken to GOP Reps. Erik Paulsen and John Kline about running against Sen. Al Franken. What does that mean? Why be so cagey? Weird.

VA-Gov: Whaddya know. I'd have thought polls showing me scoring in the teens as an independent candidate in a race for governor would be pretty depressing, but Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling has a much more optimistic take:

"The bottom line is on a first poll, without even declaring an independent candidacy, I'm getting a higher percentage of the vote than any independent candidate has ever gotten in the history of the state," he said. "So that's actually fairly encouraging to me."
That's definitely one way to look at it! It also happens to be shockingly wrong, considering that former Sen. Harry Byrd, Jr. won two terms as an independent after leaving the Democratic Party in 1970. Maybe Bolling only meant gubernatorial races, but that isn't what he said. Anyhow, if he wants to run, that still sounds pretty good to me, though I have to wonder why he just met privately with... Terry McAuliffe, the likely Democratic nominee. Neither man is revealing any details about their get-together, but hmm....


IL-03: This would an awesome way to get rid of conservaDem Dan Lipinski, who has proved stubbornly resistant to any kind of primary challenge: Make him ambassador to the Vatican. According to the Chicago Tribune, Lipinski is indeed being considered for the post by the president, and his anti-choice views would probably make him a comfortable fit in that role. Most importantly, it would give progressives a chance to elect someone much more palatable in this 56-43 Obama district: If a special election were needed to fill the seat, there would also be a special primary, just like we're seeing right now in the Jesse Jackson, Jr. district. So if Lipinski gets this ambassadorship, this'll be a huge race for us to focus on.

NC-07: It was the closest House race in the nation in 2012, in a district tailor-made to elect a Republican. But former state Sen. David Rouzer fell 654 improbable votes short of unseating Dem Rep. Mike McIntyre, making McIntyre one of the most remarkable survivors of the cycle. Given the closeness of the race, though, it's no surprise that Rouzer is already thinking about a rematch—and says that if he does go for it, he'll start campaigning in February. Rouzer now blames his "late" start on his loss, though it's not like he got in that late (he filed formal paperwork with the FEC in August of 2011). I'd guess his bigger hurdle was having to deal with a serious primary, so I wonder if he's trying to clear the field by getting in early. As for McIntyre, he might need a miracle to survive lower Democratic turnout in the mid-term year, but if anyone could pull it off, he could.

NJ-05: Looks like ex-Rep. Steve Rothman, who lost a bruising member-vs.-member primary last year to fellow Dem Rep. Bill Pascrell, will be cashing in. He's joining the local law firm of Sills Cummis to lead their new defense industry lobbying group, and for once, a former politician is being forthright about exactly what he's up to. Explains Rothman:

My experience with defense issues and my familiarity with how to get one's foot in the door for consideration at the Pentagon stems from my eight years as a member of the House appropriations subcommittee on defense—a 25-person subcommittee that recommends all of the military spending for the U.S.
Yep, that's about the long and short of it! Anyhow, we're filing this one under NJ-05, the home of GOP Rep. Scott Garrett, because that's the most plausible place Rothman could have staged a comeback, but the upshot of this announcement is that Rothman, age 60, is very unlikely to make another run for office.

Grab Bag:

Pres-by-CD: In the previous Digest, I lamented our lack of precinct-level results from New York City—but less than a day later, we scored a complete set. (For the record, I'm also lamenting my lack of a BMW 7-Series.) Today's update is one of the largest since we had to go county dumpster-diving for results. With NYC, as well as Lebanon County and the city of Philadelphia from Pennsylvania, we can add 15 districts to our total:

New York (NY-06 through NY-16)

Pennsylvania (PA-02, PA-06, PA-13, PA-15)

There isn't all that much to say about the Pennsylvania results, as they are consistent with what we've already seen from the state. The Democratic districts are extremely so (PA-02 is 91 percent Obama; PA-13 is 66 percent), while the Republican districts are only narrowly so (PA-06 and PA-15 are both 51-48 Romney districts.)

The New York results, though, crack open a whole new box of candy. Starting in Staten Island, Rep. Mike Grimm joins the small club of Republicans who inhabit districts won by Barack Obama: His NY-11 swung from a 51-48 McCain victory in 2008 to a 52-47 Obama seat last year. (It's possible there was something of a Hurricane Sandy effect here, something we'll explore in the future.) This also makes NY-11 only the third confirmed CD to go from McCain to Obama, along with FL-26 and FL-27.

NY-08 and NY-09, the two Brooklyn-based Black-majority districts (NY-08 also includes Howard Beach/Ozone Park in Queens), are strongly Democratic as expected. NY-07, Nydia Velazquez's BK-Manhattan-Queens amalgam is also strongly Democratic. All are above 85 percent Obama, with the difference likely attributable to the size of Republican-leaning communities within those districts. (Yvette Clarke's NY-09 takes in the most, with a large swath of Ocean Parkway and Sheepshead Bay, as well as Crown Heights. NY-07 takes in the Hasidic side of Williamsburg in addition to the hipster side, while Hakeem Jeffries' NY-08 covers Brighton Beach and Bergen Beach.)

Moving north, we come to the two city districts where Obama's numbers fell somewhat, the Manhattan-based NY-10 (Jerrold Nadler) and NY-12 (Carolyn Maloney). Perhaps unsurprisingly, these are also the city districts with the highest White population share. Both districts are strongly Democratic still (74-76 percent Obama, respectively), though the Republican votes come from different places here. Nadler's district also includes heavily Orthodox Borough Park in Brooklyn (home to the most Republican precincts in NYC, even more so than the South Shore of Staten Island), and Maloney's district includes the affluent Upper East Side, where Obama's numbers saw the greatest drop.

In contrast to NY-12, the two other districts covering Queens (for which we have complete data) did show substantial improvement for Obama. Grace Meng's Asian-plurality NY-06 swung 5 points in our direction to 68 percent Obama, while Joe Crowley's NY-14 (which also covers parts of the Bronx) swung 4 points to 81 percent Obama. The president's numbers also improved in Eliot Engel's NY-16, which extends from impoverished parts of the Bronx (e.g., Williamsbridge and Eastchester) to some of the very wealthy parts of lower Westchester (Mamaroneck, Scarsdale, etc.).

Finally, we can conclude with another study in contrast. Yesterday, we ended with a discussion of the most Republican district in the country (TX-13); today, we'll conclude with what will likely be the two most Democratic, the Upper Manhattan-based NY-13 (Charlie Rangel) and South Bronx-based NY-15 (Jose Serrano). Obama got upwards of 94 percent here, but that doesn't hold a candle to his 96.7 percent performance in NY-15 (to Romney's 3.0 percent)! Romney received 5,315 votes here, meaning he received only slightly more than half the votes McCain received in 2008! The whopping 95 percent margin renders NY-15, surely, the most Democratic district in the nation. (jeffmd)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Virginia Kos and Daily Kos.

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