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Leading Off:

VA Redistricting: The second diabolical Virginia GOP scheme to aggrandize electoral power to themselves has gone down in flames in as many weeks. First, their electoral college-rigging shenanigans died in committee. And now, as expected, Republican leaders in the state House nuked a plan promulgated by their Senate colleagues in the shadiest of fashions, a plan which would have re-drawn the district lines for the upper chamber so as to maximize GOP chances and disenfranchise Democratic voters.

If you've been following this sordid affair, then you know that the new map was passed on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, when an African American senator and civil rights leader, Henry Marsh, was in Washington, DC to attend Barack Obama's second inauguration. That allowed the GOP to sneak their legislation through on a 20-19 vote in the evenly-divided body, a move that a number of Republicans decried, including Gov. Bob McDonnell. Indeed, McDonnell repeatedly made clear his distaste for the manner in which the measure passed, and numerous reports over the past several weeks made it sound like Republican leaders outside the Senate wanted this thing to die.

The only question was how: Would it make it through the House, where the GOP dominates by a wide majority, only to be vetoed by McDonnell? Or would the House itself do the plan in? In the end, Republicans opted for the latter, a decidedly lower-profile move, using procedural means to send the map to a watery grave. (In practical terms, House Speaker William Howell ruled that the Senate, which had unexpectedly amended an entirely different bill and grafted its new map into the shell of that gutted piece of legislation, had added material that was "not germane" to the original bill.)

So Democrats can definitely breathe a sigh of relief, though don't imagine for a moment that the Virginia GOP has suddenly reformed itself. But there's also something we can do here: This fall, the lieutenant governor's seat will be open, and Democrats can win it back. That means we'd earn the tiebreaking vote in the Senate. If we can reclaim the governor's mansion as well (and we have a strong shot at that), we'll be able to keep a lid on the GOP's worst excesses. And if the past few weeks have taught us anything, it's that we certainly need to, because next time, don't expect Republicans in the Old Dominion to show any restraint.

Senate:

GA-Sen, GA-10: GOP Rep. Paul Broun, Democrats' best hope for making the open Georgia Senate race competitive, formally launched his campaign on Wednesday afternoon, as expected. But while he's the first notable Republican to enter the race, he definitely won't be the last: Several other congressmen are also considering and are likely to join the field as well. Beyond that, the GOP establishment badly needs someone who can beat Broun in the primary, since his the strain of crazy he's infected with is particularly virulent.

Sean Sullivan notes one important fact, though: Candidates need to clear 50 percent of the vote in order to secure their party's nomination in the Peach State, or else they face a runoff, so Broun can't slip through with a mere plurality. That said, tea partier Ted Cruz handily defeated "mainstream" conservative David Dewhurst in Senate runoff in Texas last year, so I certainly wouldn't count Broun out no matter who else gets in.

Meanwhile, Broun's move also opens up his House seat, Georgia's ultra-conservative 10th Congressional District. GA-10 is punishingly red: Not only did it go for Mitt Romney by a 63-36 margin, no Democrat even filed to run against Broun last year (who originally won in a 2007 special election). That led to progressives in the liberal college town of Athens (stranded in the northern end of this district) to write in 4,000 votes for Charles Darwin, thanks to Broun call evolution "lies straight from the pit of hell."

That also tells you that all the action here will be on the GOP side. So who might wanna play ball? In an aside, Roll Call mentions two possible Republicans who could seek to replace Broun: state Sen. Bill Cowsert and ex-Rep. Mac Collins. Collins actually considered a challenge to Broun last cycle, but the Club for Growth warned him off; with an open seat, he may be eager to jump back in.

MN-Sen: Man. GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen really is a piece of work, particularly for a candidate Minnesota Republicans like to view as "serious." Last month, he told Minnesota Public Radio that "no," he wouldn't run for Senate against Al Franken, then turned around the next day, claimed he'd been taken out of context (he wasn't—I listened to the complete audio), and insisted that he wasn't ruling out a bid for higher office.

Now, it's the same damn thing all over again. A local polisci prof who visited Paulsen in Washington with a group of students tweeted after the meeting that Paulsen told them he wasn't running, and MPR ran the story as an item. But lo and behold, Paulsen's campaign manager emailed the station to insist, yet again, that his boss "has not ruled anything out related to 2014." As we might say in Brooklyn, "This fuckin' guy!"

MT-Sen: Looks like Max Baucus's first Republican challenger is decently legit: ex-state Sen. Corey Stapleton just announced on Wednesday that he'll take on the longtime senator next year—that is, if he gets the chance. Stapleton ran in last year's extremely crowded GOP primary for governor, finishing a distant second in a seven-candidate race with 18.1 percent of the vote to Rick Hill's 34, and the field to take on Baucus could be similarly super-sized. And with any luck, it will be, as I'm convinced the nasty gubernatorial primary (in which Stapleton was a key player) helped weaken Hill, the eventual nominee, allowing Democrat Steve Bullock to pull off a narrow win in the general. I'd imagine Baucus is rooting for the same thing to happen once more.

NM-Sen: Phew! Barack Obama isn't raiding the Senate yet again for someone to head up the Department of the Interior. There had been talk he might tap Sen. Tom Udall, but instead, he's nominated Sally Jewell, the CEO of sporting goods company REI. Jewell is known as a conservationist, which is interesting given that she worked for many years at Mobil Oil, but the real news here for horserace purposes is that Udall, who is up for re-election next year, isn't going anywhere.

Gubernatorial:

FL-Gov: If detested Republican Gov. Rick Scott is to have any chance at re-election, there's probably only one reason: money. A new Politico report says that the ultra-wealthy Scott plans to budget $100 million in an anticipated showdown with the man who held the governor's mansion right before him, Charlie Crist. Scott spent $73 million of his own funds in 2010, but as the piece alludes, a large portion of that went to nuking establishment choice Bill McCollum in the GOP primary, which Scott won by only three points. So now we're talking 25 percent more cash, all directed toward the general election. I'd say "yikes," but given how damaged Scott is, even that may not be enough.

IA-Gov: PPP's also out with the gubernatorial portion of their new Iowa poll, and it looks like GOP Gov. Terry Branstad is in pretty decent, but definitely not dominant, shape for re-election—if he chooses to run again. Branstad's job approvals are a mediocre 45-44, but he hasn't announced whether he'll seek another four years in office, which would be his sixth (non-consecutive) term. Here's how he fares against an array of potential contenders, some plausible, some very unlikely:

• 50-40 vs. ex-Gov. Chet Culver

• 48-33 vs. state Sen. Jack Hatch

• 47-31 vs. state Rep. Tyler Olson

• 47-46 vs. ex-Gov. Tom Vilsack

• 47-41 vs. Rep. Bruce Braley

• 48-38 vs. Rep. Dave Loebsack

Only the first three names on this list really appear to be possible candidates, but the one thing that gives me hope is that Branstad clocks in at 47-48 percent against everyone but Culver, whose favorability rating is a very poor 34-36. Culver's been talking comeback against the guy who beat him two years ago, but I suspect Democrats would be better off with someone else. If some, and if Team Blue's standard-bearer can actually raise some money, this race could be competitive—though Dems' best hope is almost certainly for Branstad to retire a second time.

MA-Gov: My first reaction was "meh," but I suppose this would preclude a gubernatorial run if true: Ex-Sen. Scott Brown, who recently turned down another Senate bid, is reportedly in talks with FOX News to land a job as a talking head. In any other state, you could imagine a one-year gig as a prelude to a statewide bid, but even if the governor's race is the easier play for Brown, associating himself with FOX is not really the right way to burnish his "moderate" profile in liberal Massachusetts.

House:

GA-12: In a piece that's mostly about whether Dem Rep. John Barrow might run for Senate, Roll Call's Joshua Miller also briefly runs through the names a few potential Republicans who could challenge Barrow for re-election next year (or make a bid for his seat if it's open). Miller mentions 2010 candidates Rick Allen and Wright McLeod, as well as state Sen. Tommie Williams, but adds that August Mayor Deke Copenhaver says he has no interest in running.

IL-02: If former state Rep. Robin Kelly's fresh batch of internal polling from GBA Strategies is accurate, then it looks like we've got an entirely new race on our hands in the special election to succeed ex-Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. The survey, of 400 likely Democratic primary voters, was conducted on Feb. 4-5, but importantly, take note of the trendlines from early January:

Robin Kelly: 26 (15)
Debbie Halvorson: 22 (25)
Toi Hutchinson: 20 (16)
Anthony Beale: 10 (10)
Mel Reynolds: 5 (8)
Joyce Washington: 2 (2)

That's a serious surge for Kelly, and there can be no doubt about the reason: Halvorson's gotten absolutely pummeled over her stubborn support for the NRA and the "A" ratings she's earned from the group in the past. Kelly, meanwhile, has repeatedly touted the "F" grade the group has awarded her, saying she "could not be more proud" of it. Indeed, in a poor district stricken by gun violence, it's the only sane message.

But despite Kelly's advance in the polls, it's still an incredibly competitive race, with the top three candidates all bunched together. In particular, Kelly's memo notes that while Halvorson has gotten beaten up on badly for her relationship with the NRA, Hutchinson has avoided similar scrutiny. Hutchinson, says GBA, "is currently benefitting from relatively low awareness of her A-rating from the NRA and her efforts to keep her questionnaire responses from the public."

That means job number one for Kelly now is to focus on Hutchinson. She can afford to do so because NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg's PAC, Independence USA, is keeping its boot pressed firmly on Halvorson's neck. On Wednesday, they just filed a new report with the FEC detailing another $382,000 in television ad purchases targeting Halvorson, doubling their previous buy which powered this spot.

Right now, the thing I'm watching for most closely is whether Halvorson or Hutchinson (her former chief of staff, incidentally) release their own numbers to counter these. If they don't, that'll be "the dog that didn't bark." But as I say, there are only a few weeks left until the Feb. 26 primary—and this is still anyone's race.

Other Races:

NYC Mayor: Jesus, Dean Skelos is full of it. Begged by New York City election officials to move the city's primaries from September to June to give them more time to prepare for inevitable runoffs and the general, the GOP's state Senate leader has told them to bugger off. Amazingly, Skelos claims that a June primary would "negatively impact the end of the legislative session" (in the Daily News's phrasing), which is an insane lump of bullshit seeing as we're talking about primaries for municipal office, not the legislature. What a crock.

Special Elections: Johnny Longtorso wraps up Tuesday night's action:

Georgia HD-71: The lone Democrat in the race, Cynthia Bennett, was shut out of the runoff; of the five Republicans in the race, David Stover came in first with 43% of the vote, followed by Thomas Crymes with 20%. Bennett and Darryl Marmon both pulled in 17%, with Marmon getting two more votes than Bennett. Michael Farbo, Jr. and Richard Weisser pulled up the rear with 3% and 1%, respectively.

Mississippi SD-28: This one turned out to be a close race for the two runoff slots. Marshand Crisler came in first with 25% of the vote; Crisler previously ran unsuccessfully for Transportation Commissioner and Mayor of Jackson. Second place appears to have gone to Sollie Norwood, a former member of the Jackson school board. He pulled in 23% of the vote. In third place was Tamarra Grace Butler (the niece of the previous incumbent, the late Sen. Alice Harden), with 22% of the vote, but turnout was so low, the difference between the two candidates was only 11 votes. None of the other candidates broke 10% of the vote.

Grab Bag:

Pres-by-CD: We're adding the nine remaining Pennsylvania districts (seven provisionally), as well as updates to all 13 North Carolina districts.

PA-03 and PA-05 are "official"; the remaining seven districts are provisional, pending our receipt of better information. All these results confirm our notion that Pennsylvania Republicans really did a number on the state: the previously Dem-held seats of PA-03, PA-10, and PA-11 are now all just out of reach at 43.0, 38.4, and 44.5 percent Obama respectively. On the flipside, PA-01 (82.3 percent Obama) and PA-17 (55.4 percent Obama) are obvious Dem vote sinks, though his relatively weak showing in the latter does show the extent to which Obama's numbers softened in the state. The only "swingy" district, PA-07, may be in reach at 50.3-48.5 Romney, but we'd need to step up our recruiting game here.

North Carolina has finished allocating absentee, early, one-stop, and provisional votes by precinct, and put them all in a nice statewide file. This allocation process has reduced what had been 907,975 unallocated votes (in the 40 split counties) to a mere 7,636; the incidence of unallocable early votes affecting our calculations has dropped from a whopping 20.36 percent of all votes cast to just 0.17 percent. (The number of votes cast in split precincts has increased, from 78,041 to 131,480, but split precincts are substantially less problematic.) Unallocable votes had accounted for more than 70 percent of votes in some counties (Durham was especially problematic at 73 percent), but now, unallocable votes are always 2.5 percent of a county's total votes or fewer. (Mecklenburg makes up 6,371 of the 7,636 left unallocable.)

Armed with this new information, we're making the following changes to vote counts and percentages:

District Obama Romney Total Obama% Romney%
NC-01 +1,531 +686 +2,212 -0.01% +0.02%
NC-02 -1,985 +734 -1,253 -0.45% +0.45%
NC-03 -2,717 +1,022 -1,667 -0.64% +0.62%
NC-04 +8,797 +1,376 +10,258 +0.42% -0.41%
NC-05 +8 +183 +192 -0.02% +0.02%
NC-06 +419 -945 -535 +0.17% -0.17%
NC-07 -598 -328 -920 -0.07% +0.06%
NC-08 +746 +144 +879 +0.13% -0.12%
NC-09 +9,428 +16,239 +25,869 -0.46% +0.47%
NC-10 -942 -1,842 -2,816 +0.06% -0.06%
NC-11 +965 +1,783 +2,781 -0.03% +0.03%
NC-12 +5,723 +2,899 +8,685 -0.36% +0.35%
NC-13 -8,292 -3,870 -12,263 -0.73% +0.73%

All in all, I'd been fairly pessimistic about our early vote allocation formula, but they held up fairly well under this fairly extreme circumstance. As you can see from the following table, three districts changed less than 0.05 percent, another 2 less than 0.1 percent, and all but two districts less than 0.5 percent. The two districts that were adjusted by more than that, NC-03 and NC-13, each yielded a revised Obama percentage lower than previously estimated.

Initial Revised
District Obama Romney Obama Romney Swing
NC-01 71.2% 28.2% 71.2% 28.2% -0.02%
NC-02 42.2% 56.8% 41.7% 57.3% -0.45%
NC-03 41.6% 57.4% 41.0% 58.0% -0.63%
NC-04 71.0% 27.8% 71.4% 27.4% +0.41%
NC-05 39.8% 59.0% 39.8% 59.1% -0.02%
NC-06 41.2% 57.8% 41.3% 57.7% +0.17%
NC-07 39.9% 59.2% 39.9% 59.2% -0.07%
NC-08 40.9% 58.2% 41.0% 58.1% +0.12%
NC-09 43.3% 55.7% 42.8% 56.2% -0.47%
NC-10 40.8% 58.1% 40.9% 58.0% +0.06%
NC-11 37.8% 60.9% 37.8% 60.9% -0.03%
NC-12 78.9% 20.4% 78.5% 20.8% -0.35%
NC-13 44.4% 54.5% 43.7% 55.3% -0.73%

All in all, I'm fairly satisfied with the robustness of our early vote formulas, at least when it comes to calculating percentages. (It performs less well when it comes to raw vote totals.) I'm working on an alternative method that works better, but the going is a bit slow on that front.

Looking ahead, what's left? Well, we're still waiting on several jurisdictions in Alabama, New York, Ohio, and Texas, which account for 14 of the 26 districts currently with no estimates. The remaining 12 are New Jersey, which we'll try to bring you sometime over the next few days. (jeffmd)

Senate: Handy: Roll Call has a chart of Senate fundraising numbers from the fourth quarter of 2012, for all senators and possible candidates in potentially competitive seats that are up for re-election next year. The Republican with the most cash-on-hand is, by a country mile, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, with $7.4 million in the bank. For Democrats, Virginia's Mark Warner has $3.7 mil, though I don't expect that race to be particularly contested. Montana Sen. Max Baucus is next in line with $3.6 mil, though.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Virginia Kos and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  New Keystone Poll: What's that smell? (10+ / 0-)

    It's Tom Corbett's approval ratings:

    Governor Corbett’s job approval ratings are the lowest of his tenure with only one in four (26%) registered voters believing he is doing an “excellent” or “good” job. Only two in five (41%) Republicans, one in four (26%) independents, and one in six (16%) Democrats rate his performance as “excellent” or “good.” Figure 1 displays the Governor’s job performance ratings compared to Governors Tom Ridge and Ed Rendell. Governor Corbett’s job performance ratings are the lowest for a sitting governor in the history of the Franklin and Marshall College Poll.
    •  Corbett is governor of PA for those (like me) that (0+ / 0-)

      don't know. Lot's of good election news by David Nir but to paraphrase if you have an off-year (no presidential election) will they come?

      Here in MA, I'm really pleased Scott Brown didn't run for senate.  Hope he gets a multi-year contract with Fox as would like him to go away. He's a wolf in sheep clothing.

      Getting the snow shovels lubed and chloride ready for possible "blizzard of the century." Just came back from week in Az.
      Timing is everything.

    •  Thanks for that (0+ / 0-)

      Rick Scott and Corbett are both on my list of GOPers I want to see get crushed in a final so badly I can taste it.

      I am from the Elizabeth Warren and Darcy Burner wing of the Democratic Party

      by LeftHandedMan on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 06:38:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Even in an offyear a Corbett loss is quite (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Adam B, Swamp Cat

        possible. Possibly an omen, despite gerrymandering the Pa. senate (which seems like it's been a Republican fief forever) is currently only 27R-23D (from 29R-20D-1 vacancy before).

        The lieutenant governor gets the tiebreaker vote, so if Democrats won governor and lt. gov., and two more seats (granted an epic achievement) they'd control at least two branches of gov.

        State House not so good:
        R110 D93.

        "They will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy. The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip."

        by TofG on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 08:04:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Now, will the Virginia Lege please come talk (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Notreadytobenice

    to the Texas Lege?  

    Oh, wait, it's working out so well for them here...

    I'm part of the "bedwetting bunch of website Democrat base people (DKos)." - Rush Limbaugh, 10/16/2012 Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

    by tom 47 on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 06:31:54 AM PST

  •  The VA General Assembly is bizarre theater (4+ / 0-)

    Yes, the House shot down the Senate redistricting plan, very sensible.  And, uranium mining is pretty much dead, and most of the voter registration restrictions were killed or at least diluted/delayed.

    And on the same day, they approved a resolution condemning Agenda 21 as a radical plan designed to eliminate VA's sovereignty. This from Rep Ligamfelter who is an announced candidate for Lt. Gov.

    They also approved a resolution asserting states rights, condemning the assault on the 10th amendment, and a resolution to spend $17.5K on developing a new metallic-based coinage in case the US monetary system fails.

    In other VA news - LT Gov Bolling says he will have a major announcement on March 14. Oooh, the anticipation.

    Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

    by absdoggy on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 06:34:26 AM PST

    •  I'm disappointed (0+ / 0-)

      We here in NC are getting a front row look at overreach and shameless power grabs, I was hoping VA reps would light themselves on fire with that MLK Jr Day disaster, you know, really go for it. Oh well.

      Citizen #6 on Moon Base Callista

      by Mike E on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 11:16:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think Scott Brown is in for a rude awakening (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aquarius40

    if he thinks he has a future as a wingnut welfare talking head.

    He's pretty much 'the Coward' now.

    If the Rove Hate wasn't red hot, more people might be noticing how much Scott Brown is getting blamed for the embarassment of the GOP not being able to find a candidate for that seat.

    Roger Ailes is going to figure out pretty quickly that the two minute hate crowd aren't fans of Scott Brown skipping that Massachusetts Senate seat race. The Republicans in the Senate gave John Kerry a red carpet for a fight, and the Teahadi were fine with that for a Republican seat in the Senate, not a bow-out coronation of Ed Markey. Oops.

    The Teahadi are pissed off. Not just in Massachusetts, but around the country.

    That's no pathway to either the Massachusetts Governor's office (my friends back in the Baystate tell me that Brown is really looking like shit for how he put his stooge in place at the State GOP, only to bow out afterwards. She doesn't get that job if the rubes know Brown is out of that Senate race), or wingnut welfare jackpots.

    If those Deficit Fetishists want to float a Useful Idiot for their Third Way Party, I wouldn't be shocked if the Very Serious People Who Worship Simpson and Bowles floated Brown as the perfect face of their movement as the GOP turns its back on Brown.

    Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren as a Tag Team is going to drive the Freak-outs crazy.

    I am from the Elizabeth Warren and Darcy Burner wing of the Democratic Party

    by LeftHandedMan on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 06:37:22 AM PST

    •  Fox wants moderate Brown (0+ / 0-)

      If Brown goes to Fox it will be as a moderate trying to present republicans as not crazy. I think Fox wants to destroy the tea party image of republicans and are going to try to present a more moderate image while at the same time
      doing their usual pummeling of Obama and Clinton.
      Still to be realistic no one but conservatives watch Fox and I think they are just preaching to the choir.

    •  Teabaggers are also again helpful in Iowa and (0+ / 0-)

      Geor5gia. Iowa (with King running?) looks safer then it might seem, and even Georgia is an Indiana type of possible pick up with Broun running.

      "They will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy. The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip."

      by TofG on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 08:08:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  NC Question (0+ / 0-)

    How do they go about allocating an early vote ballot to its proper precinct?

    I'm just curious because knowing how a specific precinct voted is important in voting return analysis and the partial returns by precinct we get right after Election Day doesn't give the full view that this process does.

    It's also really cool to now see that my precinct gave President Obama 78% of its vote!

    “I believe all Southern liberals come from the same starting point--race. Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything.” ― Molly Ivins

    by RoIn on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 07:55:23 AM PST

  •  Braley's running for Iowa Sen. (0+ / 0-)

    And if you look at the cross-tabs, Branstad's drawing significantly from Obama voters and self-described liberals.  That won't hold, especially if he blocks Medicaid expansion.

    Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

    by Loge on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 08:23:18 AM PST

  •  Montgomery county, AL02, AL03, AL07 (0+ / 0-)

    Last night post:

    Montgomery County AL has precinct level results for the November election.  

    Unfortunately, the precincts themselves are split for the congressional districts.

    About half of the split precincts are virtually, or actually, null votes in one or the other congressional district.

    Leaving 10 split precincts which I made an estimate of vote by the proportion of vote in the congressional election.

    Unfortunately this method probably minimizes the actual partisan difference in votes in each portion of the precinct.

    But anyway:

    Montgomery County

                 obama      romney    total
    2nd       33975       31668      66047
    3rd         3727         6280      10060
    7th        24478       1148        25672

    State[ plugging in kos pres by cd figures

    2nd     106137      186921     296086
                35.85%      63.13%
    3rd      100917      171000     274317
                36.79%       61.97%
    7th      229069       85133      315681
                72.56%       26.97%

    by Joe Cooper on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 08:05:43 PM PST

    The number of votes in the 10 split precincts is almost 30000.  While I did the above percentages to the hundreth,It might be considered to be more appropiate to have eliminated the hundreths and the tenths.

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