WA-Gov: McKenna (R) Leads Inslee in SurveyUSA Poll

SurveyUSA for KING5 (4/27-28, registered voters, no trendlines):

Jay Inslee (D): 41

Rob McKenna (R): 48

Undecided: 11

Jay Inslee (D): 44

Dave Reichert (R): 46

Undecided: 10

Chris Gregoire (D-inc): 40

Rob McKenna (R): 52

Undecided: 7

Chris Gregoire (D-inc): 44

Dave Reichert (R): 48

Undecided: 8

(MoE: ±4%)

No doubt most media outlets are going to run this poll with a “OMG! Rob McKenna beats Chris Gregoire!” headline. Pardon my French, but Give. Me. A. Fucking. Break. While Gregoire is legally entitled to run for a third term, that just isn’t done in Washington (no one has attempted it since Dan Evans back in the 1970s), and she isn’t fundraising, but keeping a vague air of mystery about her plans to ward off lame duck-itis in her dealings with the legislature. Even if she wanted to, her approvals would sensibly preclude her from running (37/61 in this poll), as she’s shed considerable support on her left with recent actions (an annual budget heavy on education cuts, and just last week a partial veto of a medical marijuana dispensary bill). Add all that up, and anyone in Washington with two brain cells to rub together knows she isn’t running.

Well, with that said, the other numbers from this poll confirm my suspicions that this is going to be a difficult hold for the Democrats, as both AG Rob McKenna (who’s been running for this job for about eight years) and Rep. Dave Reichert (who just poked his head up about this job in the last week) have leads over likely Dem nominee Rep. Jay Inslee. I suspect the McKenna/Inslee disparity may be largely because of name rec (although SUSA doesn’t provide approvals on anybody other than Gregoire, so I can’t compare). Inslee also has an avenue of attack that he’s only just started using, concerning the one flagrantly partisan thing that the otherwise blandly non-controversial McKenna has done as AG, which is to sign onto the multi-state lawsuit against health care reform. Even taking those factors into account, though, McKenna is the GOP’s best shot in decades at recapturing the governor’s mansion, given that he’s one of the last of a dying breed: a quasi-moderate from the suburbs of King County. (And, no, although Reichert also meets those criteria too, I just don’t see him running for this; the party establishment wouldn’t stand for it.)

In case you’re wondering about methodology, the usually autodialer-only SurveyUSA did include a cellphone user sample as part of the poll. You may recall that they did this several times in their polling of WA-Sen last year to account for problems with reaching landline-free younger voters, a problem which has seemed particularly pronounced in tech-savvy Washington. It didn’t seem to help much in 2010, though, as SurveyUSA, like the other robo-callers, still saw the Murray/Rossi race as a tied game, while local traditional-method pollsters at UW correctly spotted the 5-point margin.

Weekly Open Thread: What Contentious Ridings Are You Interested In?

Although you wouldn’t know it from Swing State Project (it’s a little outside both our coverage area and our expertise), Canada is poised for a national election on Monday night. The last round of polls has hinted at the real possibility of a late surge by the leftish New Democratic Party. Would that actually translate into a plurality in seats in Parliament for the perpetual third wheels? Given the vagaries of the parliamentary system, non-binary parties, and strategic voting, we have no idea, which isn’t to say that Canadian prognosticators have much more of an idea either.

When faced with parliamentary elections, SSP’s fancies inevitably turn to a slightly different question, though… the system of naming ridings for their cities and/or neighborhoods, rather than just numbering them like we do here. (Case in point: one of the big ridings to watch this cycle is the remarkably cumbersomely-named West Vancouver–Sunshine Coast–Sea to Sky Country.) So here’s a rainy day activity, one that we also explored a bit during last year’s UK elections: suppose we had delightful names for our House constituencies, instead of giving them unimaginative appellations like NY-26. What would they be? You can play the question straight (calling AL-01 Mobile–Prichard, for example), or opt for the silly if you choose. To wit:

AR-01: Oil Trough–Possum Grape

OR-05: Boring–Wankers Corner

PA-16: Blue Ball–Intercourse

WA-06: Sappho–Humptulips

WV-03: Odd–Cucumber–Pie–War

Of course, feel free to discuss actual ongoing U.S. races too, as always.


WV-Gov: Dems Win All Permutations, Tomblin Leads Primary

Public Policy Polling (4/21-24, West Virginia voters, 1/20-23 in parentheses):

Earl Ray Tomblin (D-inc): 51 (49)

Betty Ireland (R): 29 (32)

Undecided: 20 (19)

Earl Ray Tomblin (D-inc): 56

Bill Maloney (R): 23

Undecided: 21

John Perdue (D): 37 (37)

Betty Ireland (R): 32 (37)

Undecided: 30 (26)

John Perdue (D): 38

Bill Maloney (R): 26

Undecided: 36

Natalie Tennant (D): 39 (43)

Betty Ireland (R): 33 (32)

Undecided: 28 (26)

Natalie Tennant (D): 42

Bill Maloney (R): 29

Undecided: 30

Rick Thompson (D): 38 (31)

Betty Ireland (R): 35 (37)

Undecided: 28 (32)

Rick Thompson (D): 38

Bill Maloney (R): 28

Undecided: 34

(MoE: ±3.4%)

The West Virginia gubernatorial special election (which, remember, is being held on Oct. 4, not on Election Day in November) looks like it’s shaping up without much drama: to replace popular conservaDem Joe Manchin, who moved on to the Senate, it looks like fellow popular conservaDem (and Manchin ally) Earl Roy Tomblin has a strong inside track. Tomblin, whose name rec has improved significantly in the months since PPP’s previous (and only other poll) of the race, is now putting up very big margins against the Republican opposition.

Tomblin’s favorables are 49/24, including a plurality, 39/33, among Republicans, and his ‘not sures’ are down to 27%, from 39% in January. His endorsement this week from the NRA ought to only help solidify his standing among right-of-center voters. The other less-known Democratic options (SoS Natalie Tennant’s at 36/29, Treasurer John Perdue is at 27/27, and House speaker Rick Thompson is at 25/24) put up less convincing numbers, but thanks to high Democratic registration advantages, all also win, usually by comfortable margins. That’s a turnaround from January, where Perdue tied Ireland and Thompson lost; only Tennant finds herself in worse position than before. (Bill Maloney, a mining industry businessman without political experience, wasn’t polled by PPP in their January poll, so the trendlines are only partial.)

Public Policy Polling (4/21-24, West Virginia voters, no trendlines):

Earl Ray Tomblin (D-inc): 32

John Perdue (D): 17

Natalie Tennant (D): 16

Rick Thompson (D): 15

Jeff Kessler (D): 5

Arne Moltis (D): 1

Undecided: 14

(MoE: ±4.0%)

Betty Ireland (R): 31

Bill Maloney (R): 17

Clark Barnes (R): 8

Mitch Carmichael (R): 8

Mark Sorsaia (R): 4

Ralph William Clark (R): 2

Larry Faircloth (R): 2

Cliff Ellis (R): 1

Undecided: 28

(MoE: ±5.9%)

The more important story for now, though, is the primaries, which will take place on May 14 (a Saturday, three weeks away). Unlike with the generals, this is PPP’s first look at the primaries and assumedly will be their last; it’s also our only primary poll outside of candidates’ internals. Again, name rec carries the day: Tomblin has a sizable advantage. In fact, as Tom Jensen points out, despite the clutter in the Democratic field, Tomblin actually has a bigger lead there than does ex-SoS Betty Ireland on the GOP side (although watch out for that giant MoE in the GOP poll!). Maloney has set the pace on advertising on the GOP side, leaving Ireland playing catch-up. Maloney’s latest ad, in fact, plays his ace in the hole: his firm’s connections to the rescue of the Chilean miners earlier this year. (One other ad of note: John Perdue’s newest ad actually features a jingle! That’s such a throwback it’s almost a little charming.)

For more on where the Dem candidates fit on the left-right spectrum, check out this excellent primer. This poses an interesting question for Democratic armchair quarterbacks, in terms of who to pull for (which is probably just a question of rooting, as this race certainly isn’t much of a magnet for netroots dollars). Is it better to hope for the slam-dunk candidacy of Tomblin, or to go with a bit more of a roll-of-the-dice in the general to get someone, like Thompson or Tennant, who’s a bit more to the left?

Arkansas Redistricting: New Pres Numbers by CD

Arkansas rounds out the first batch (along with Iowa and Louisiana) of states finishing their redistricting tasks, so we’ve crunched the data to see how the last few elections went in the newly-designed districts. (If you’re unfamiliar with the new map, which wound up without the infamous “Fayetteville Finger,” you can take a gander here.)

District Obama # McCain # Obama % McCain % Beebe % Keet % Lincoln % Boozman %
AR-01 102,670 151,918 39.17 57.96 67.68 30.32 42.29 52.34
AR-02 129,888 157,732 44.29 53.79 66.06 32.28 42.02 53.77
AR-03 85,866 161,902 33.86 63.85 57.84 39.93 26.01 68.32
AR-04 103,886 166,465 37.41 59.95 65.54 32.52 36.49 58.07

Unlike last decade’s map (which placed in Arkansas in the company of only Iowa and West Virginia in keeping every county intact), the new Arkansas map splits several counties down the middle, making this a more difficult task than Iowa (and more difficult than Louisiana, which seems to have more useful data). Jeffmd’s data crunching involved not only some estimation of how to allocate absentee ballots, but also some approximation of Sebastian County (i.e Fort Smith, now split between the 3rd and 4th) votes, which aren’t listed by precinct but rather by polling location, meaning rather tediously mapping the county and pinpointing polling places. (You can check out the full spreadsheet here.)

Despite controlling the redistricting trifecta here (the Gov. plus both legislative chambers), it doesn’t seem like Arkansas Dems did much to advance their cause here, leaving the numbers pretty much as is, despite shifting around a lot of counties (especially in the dark-red northwest, where there’s now an unsightly bulge of the 4th into the former 3rd). The old districts were 38 Obama/59 McCain in AR-01, 44/54 in AR-02, 34/64 in AR-03, and 39/58 in AR-04… hardly any change at all, although the 1st improved very slightly at the expense of the 4th. If there was any consideration given to either improving Dem chances at picking up the 2nd or strengthening the 4th in the event of a Mike Ross retirement, it didn’t pan out.

Know Your Caucuses: Parsing the Budget Votes

Last Thursday and Friday were a busy couple of days in the House, with the passage of Paul Ryan’s Medicare-eviscerating budget and the defeat of a panoply of other budget options, including Democratic alternatives and a seriously dystopian proposal from the Republican Study Committee (the ideological caucus that once was the House Republicans’ extreme-right vanguard but now, with 179 members – including almost all of the freshman class, even the ostensibly moderate ones – pretty much overlaps with the House Republicans as a whole, encompassing nearly three-quarters of them). The week before that came the appropriations vote, which was more or less a vote on whether to keep the government running or shut it down. These particular roll call votes gave some definition to fissures within the Republican caucus that we’ve instinctively known are there; there’s a lot of overlap between the members voting ‘yes’ on the alternative RSC budget and those voting ‘no’ on the CR (i.e. voting in favor of a shutdown), providing the basic outline of mainstream vs. teabagger in the House, and also cluing us in on where the multitudes of new GOP freshmen fall on that spectrum.

As you can see with the chart below, the ones voting ‘no’ on the RSC budget and voting ‘yes’ on continued government operations are the party’s establishment: leadership, Appropriations Committee members, the remaining rump of moderates and assorted other conservatives who still fall into the ‘sane’ camp, and various swing-district freshmen watching their own backs. The ones voting ‘yes’ on the RSC budget and ‘no’ on the CR are, by contrast, the really nasty pieces of work, the ones who tend to get the most media attention for their bomb-throwing comments and don’t seem to have much interest in the consequences, given their (mostly) safe districts. There are a few glaring exceptions, and those are the freshmen in Obama districts who seem content to go down with the ship in 2012: Allen West and Joe Walsh… and one very strange third member of the group, in the form of VA-02’s Scott Rigell, who seems eager to recast himself after being on the defensive in 2010’s primary for having contributed to Obama and other RINO-ish offenses.

The ones in the middle, voting ‘yes’ on the RSC budget but also ‘yes’ on the CR, are the ones who in previous decades would have been the House’s far-right but are just sort of business-as-usual these days; they tend to make up the RSC’s rank-and-file, in favor of total austerity but not outright monkey-wrenching the economy. Maybe the most interesting collection is the ones voting ‘no’ on both the RSC budget and the CR (in other words, they’re against the RSC’s every-man-for-himself budget but also in favor of a shutdown). Most of these confused folks seem to be freshmen who are still figuring out their ideological identities in terms of what’ll get them re-elected next time (see Chip Cravaack as a main case in point, as well as, say, Robert Hurt and Scott Tipton). However, a few are veterans seeking a promotion — Dean Heller and Denny Rehberg – and seemingly trying to work an angle, not letting themselves on record as having voted in favor of anything unpopular. (Rehberg, in fact, took this even further, as one of only the four GOPers who voted against the Ryan budget, along with sorta-moderate Walter Jones, vulnerable freshman David McKinley, and Ron Paul, who voted against it from the right.)

R: Republican Study Committee

T: Tea Party Caucus

M: Main Street Partnership

F: Freshman

O: Obama district

Y on CR
N on RSC
N on CR
N on RSC
Y on CR
Y on RSC
N on CR
Y on RSC
Aderholt (R, T)

Alexander (R, T)

Barletta (F, O)

Bass (M, ‘F,’ O)

Benishek (R, F, O)

Berg (R, F)

Biggert (M, O)

Bilbray (R, M, O)

Bilirakis (R, T)

Black (R, T, F)

Bonner (R)

Bono Mack (M, O)


Buchanan (R)

Bucshon (R, F)

Camp (R, M, O)

Canseco (R, F, O)

Cantor (R)

Capito (M)

Crawford (R, F)

Crenshaw (T)

Davis (R)

Dent (M, O)

Des Jarlais (R, F)

Diaz-Balart (M)

Dold (M, F, O)

Dreier (M, O)

Duffy (R, F, O)

Ellmers (R, F, O)

Emerson (M)

Farenthold (R, T, F, O)

Fincher (R, T, F)

Fitzpatrick (M, ‘F,’ O)

Fortenberry (R, M)

Frelinghuysen (M)

Gerlach (M, O)

Gibbs (R, F)

Gibson (R, M, F, O)

Graves (MO) (R)

Griffin (R, F)

Grimm (R, F)

Guthrie (R)

Hanna (R, M, F, O)


Hayworth (R, M, F, O)

Heck (F, O)

Herrera (R, F, O)

Hultgren (R, F, O)

Jenkins (R, M, T)

Johnson (OH) (M, F)


King (NY)

Kinzinger (R, M, F, O)

Latham (O)

La Tourette (M)

Lewis (M)

Lo Biondo (M, O)

Lucas (R)

Luetkemeyer (R, T)

Lungren (R, O)

Marino (F)


McKeon (R)

McKinley (R, M, F)

McMorris Rodgers (R)

Meehan (M, F, O)

Murphy (M)

Noem (R, F)

Nugent (R, T, F)


Paulsen (M, O)

Petri (M, O)

Pitts (R)

Platts (M)

Reed (R, M, F)

Renacci (R, M, F)

Rivera (F)

Roby (R, F)

Rogers (AL) (R)

Rogers (KY)

Rogers (MI) (O)

Rooney (R)

Ros-Lehtinen (O)

Roskam (R, O)

Runyan (M, F, O)

Ryan (R, O)

Schilling (R, F, O)

Schock (R, M)




Smith (NJ)

Stivers (R, M, F, O)

Thompson (R)

Tiberi (M, O)

Turner (R, M)

Upton (M, O)

Walden (M)

Webster (R, F, O)

Whitfield (M)

Wittman (R)

Wolf (M, O)

Womack (R, F)

Young (AK)

Young (FL) (O)

Young (IN) (R, F)
Adams (R, T, F)

Cravaack (F, O)

Forbes (R, O)

Gardner (R, F)


Hurt (R, F)

McCotter (R, M, O)

Miller (MI)

Pearce (R, T, ‘F’)

Rehberg (R, T)

Scott (SC) (R, F)

Tipton (F)

Yoder (R, F, O)
Akin (R, T)

Austria (R, M)

Bachus (R)

Bishop (R, T)

Brady (R)

Brooks (R, F)

Buerkle (R, F, O)

Burgess (R, T)

Burton (R, T)

Calvert (M, O)

Campbell (R, O)

Carter (R, T)

Cassidy (R, T)

Coble (R, T)

Coffman (R, T)

Cole (R)

Conaway (R)

Culberson (R, T)

Denham (R, F)

Fleischmann (R, F)

Flores (R, F)

Foxx (R)

Gallegly (O)

Goodlatte (R)

Gosar (R, F)

Granger (R)

Guinta (R, F, O)

Hall (R)

Harper (R)

Hartzler (R, T, F)

Hensarling (R)

Herger (R, T)

Hunter (R)

Issa (R)

Johnson (TX) (R)

Kelly (R, F)

Kline (R)

Lance (M, O)

Landry (R, T, F)

Lankford (R, F)

Latta (R)

Lummis (R)

Manzullo (R, O)

Marchant (R)


Miller (CA) (R)

Miller (FL) (R)

Myrick (R)

Nunnelee (R, F)

Olson (R)

Palazzo (R, F)

Pompeo (R, F)

Posey (R)

Price (R, T)

Ribble (R, F)

Roe (R, T)


Rokita (R, F)

Royce (R, T)

Scalise (R, T)

Scott (GA) (R, F)

Sessions (R, T)

Shimkus (R)

Smith (NE) (T)

Smith (TX) (R, T)

Stearns (T)

Sullivan (R)

Terry (M, O)

Thornberry (R)

Walberg (R, T, ‘F,’ O)

Westmoreland (R, T)

Woodall (R, F)
Amash (R, F)

Bachmann (R, T)

Bartlett (R, M, T)

Barton (R, T)

Blackburn (R)

Broun (R, T)

Chabot (R, ‘F,’ O)

Chaffetz (R)

Duncan (SC) (R, T, F)

Duncan (TN)

Flake (R)

Fleming (R, T)

Franks (R, T)

Garrett (R)

Gingrey (R, T)

Gowdy (R, F)

Graves (GA) (R)

Griffith (R, F)

Harris (R, F)

Huelskamp (R, T, F)

Huizenga (R, F)

Johnson (IL)

Jordan (R)

King (IA) (R, T)

Kingston (R)

Labrador (R, F)

Lamborn (R, T)

Long (R, F)

Mack (R)

McClintock (R)

McHenry (R)

Mulvaney (R)

Neugebauer (R)


Pence (R, T)

Poe (R, T)

Quayle (R, F)

Rigell (R, F, O)

Ross (R, T, F)

Schmidt (R)

Schweikert (R, F)

Southerland (R, F)

Stutzman (R, F)

Walsh (R, T, F, O)

West (R, T, F, O)

Wilson (R, T)

One interesting post-script: the vote on the RSC budget was subject to some last-minute monkey business, as Democrats switched their votes en masse to ‘present,’ leaving the RSC budget too dangerously close to passage for leadership’s tastes. TPM reports that at least four key Republicans switched their votes at the very last second to keep it from passing, although it’s still not exactly clear who the switchers were:

After a few minutes of panic and pandemonium, GOP leaders convinced Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-CA), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), as well as Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), to switch and save the day.

After initial reports that Connie Mack had also switched were squelched, those later turned to rumors of Buck McKeon as #4. I’m not exactly sure why Dreier, Bono Mack, and McKeon (all in Obama districts that could morph into something even bluer thanks to California’s new redistricting commission) were willing to go on record in favor of the RSC budget in the first place; they might be secretly happy to be ‘no’s at this point.

One other observation: notice who’s not anywhere on the list? Dave Reichert, possibly one of the most vulnerable long-time House GOPers in 2012 unless redistricting saves his bacon; he was a non-voter on both bills. It’s not clear whether he’s ill again, or whether his electoral strategy for 2012 involves hiding under a pile of coats for the next two years. [UPDATE: Several commenters point out that Reichert’s mother passed away last week; our condolences to him and his family.]

That’s not all! We still have all the Dems to talk about, over the flip…

Democrats were unanimous against the Ryan budget, and the vast majority of them voted ‘present’ on the RSC budget in order to better expose that intra-caucus cleavage within the GOP. However, 16 Dems did wind up voting ‘no’ instead (Altmire, Barrow, Boswell, Braley, Courtney, Donnelly, Heinrich, Kildee, Loebsack, Matheson, McIntyre, Murphy, Schrader, Shuler, Smith, and Watt); while at first, it seems to be a list of sometimes-uncooperative Blue Dogs, it also includes a few guys who are seeking promotions and probably don’t want to be seen as playing games (Martin Heinrich, Chris Murphy), and maybe a few guys who just didn’t get the message about switching (Mel Watt?).

However, there were some fissures within the Democratic caucus that become evident when comparing two of the alternative budgets offered by Democrats: one from the Progressive Caucus and one from the Congressional Black Caucus. Those who voted either ‘yes’ on both or ‘no’ on both pretty clearly delineate the left and right flanks of the Democratic caucus. (I can’t say there are many surprises here, with only one notable New Dem and potentially-difficult-district denizen voting ‘yes’ twice — Rush Holt – and several well-known Progressives (DeFazio, Waxman) voting ‘no’ twice for some irascible reason.) The ones who split the difference, voting for the CBC budget but not for the more aggressive Progressive budget, tend to be leadership and its allies, or else veteran Dems who tend to alternate back and forth between the two camps. There were two members against the CBC budget and for the Progressive budget; fittingly, given the decidedly counterintuitive nature of that pairing, the two were Dennis Kucinich and David Wu.

P: Progressive Caucus

N: New Democrats

B: Blue Dogs

F: Freshman

M: McCain district

Y on Prog
Y on CBC
Y on Prog
N on CBC
N on Prog
Y on CBC
N on Prog
N on CBC
Baca (B)

Baldwin (P)

Bass (P, F)

Becerra (P)

Blumenauer (P)

Brady (P)

Brown (P)


Capuano (P)

Carson (P, N)

Chu (P)

Cicilline (P, F)

Clarke (MI) (F)

Clarke (NY) (P)

Cleaver (P)


Cohen (P)

Conyers (P)

Cummings (P)

Davis (IL) (P)


Edwards (P)

Ellison (P)

Farr (P)

Fattah (P)

Filner (P)

Frank (P)

Fudge (P)

Grijalva (P)

Gutierrez (P)

Hastings (P)

Hirono (P)

Holt (N)

Honda (P)

Jackson (IL) (P)

Jackson Lee (P)

Johnson (TX) (P)

Lee (P)

Lewis (P)


McDermott (P)

McGovern (P)

Miller (CA) (P)

Moore (P)

Nadler (P)


Pallone (P)

Pastor (P)

Payne (P)

Pingree (P)

Rangel (P)

Richardson (P)

Richmond (F)

Roybal-Allard (P)

Rush (P)

Sanchez, Li. (P)


Schakowsky (P)

Serrano (P)

Slaughter (P)

Thompson (MS) (P)

Tierney (P)



Velazquez (P)

Waters (P)

Watt (P)

Welch (P)

Wilson (FL) (P, F)

Woolsey (P)
Kucinich (P)

Wu (N)



Carnahan (N)


Crowley (N)

DeLauro (P)


Engel (N)


Green, Al

Hanabusa (F)


Kaptur (P)


Larson (CT) (N)

Lujan (P)


Miller (NC)






Scott (GA) (N, B)

Scott (VA)



Van Hollen

Wasserman Schultz (N)

Altmire (N, B, M)

Barrow (N, B)

Bishop (NY)

Boren (B, M)

Boswell (B)


Capps (N)

Cardoza (B)

Carney (F)

Chandler (B, M)

Connolly (N)

Cooper (B)

Costa (B)


Courtney (N)

Critz (M)

Cuellar (B)

Davis (CA) (N)

DeFazio (P)

DeGette (N)




Donnelly (B)


Green, Gene

Heinrich (N)

Higgins (N)

Himes (N)

Holden (B, M)

Inslee (N)

Israel (N)

Kind (N)


Larsen (WA) (N)



Loebsack (P)


Matheson (B, M)


McCarthy (N)

McIntyre (N, B, M)


Michaud (B)

Moran (P, N)

Murphy (CT) (N)


Perlmutter (N)

Peters (N)

Peterson (B, M)

Polis (P, N)



Ross (B, M)


Ryan (OH)

Sanchez, Lo. (N, B)

Schiff (N, B)

Schrader (N, B)

Schwartz (N)


Shuler (B, M)

Smith (WA) (N)


Thompson (CA) (B)




Waxman (P)


(You might notice 18 names missing from this chart of Dems; it excludes anyone who missed one or both votes. Maybe most significantly, that includes new Senate candidate Shelley Berkley.)

Louisiana Redistricting: New Pres Numbers by CD

With the Louisiana redistricting map one of the first to emerge intact from the sausage-making process, it’s time to crunch the numbers and see just what kind of districts we wound up with. (Notice that I’m not saying the map is a done deal… the Obama DOJ might still weigh in and shake things up, as they could conceivably push for a second African-American plurality district under the VRA.) Our resident data guru, jeffmd, has sliced and diced the shapefiles on the state House’s website, overlaid that onto the VTDs available from the Census Bureau, matched the VTDs to 2008 and 2010 election results available from the Louisiana SoS website, and voila:

District Obama # McCain # Obama % McCain % Fayard % Dardenne % Melancon % Vitter %
LA-01 81,515 233,789 25.34 72.68 25.30 74.70 24.89 69.79
LA-02 235,554 81,703 73.36 25.44 73.01 26.99 70.38 24.72
LA-03 111,831 210,951 34.06 64.25 39.36 60.64 31.40 62.55
LA-04 126,899 187,020 39.94 58.86 45.78 54.22 36.29 57.54
LA-05 124,119 209,705 36.69 61.98 40.04 59.96 32.98 60.31
LA-06 103,071 225,094 30.90 67.49 33.04 66.96 32.45 62.02

The full precinct-by-precinct dataset, courtesy of Google Docs, is available here.

If you aren’t familiar with the contours of the new map, you can take a look here. In a nutshell, the 1st remains the New Orleans suburbs, the 2nd remains New Orleans proper (although now it reaches into Baton Rouge’s African-American neighborhoods as well), the 4th is still centered on Shreveport, the 5th is still Monroe and Alexandria, and the 6th is still centered on Baton Rouge (even if its core is now missing). The big difference is the 3rd, which now mostly occupies what used to be the 7th, across Lake Charles and Lafayette; the old 3rd, in Cajun country south of New Orleans, has been parceled out to the 1st, new 3rd/former 7th, and also the 6th and 2nd.

As you can see, the redistricting result is very, very likely to result in a 5-1 map. The friendliest district for Dems, after the 2nd, is now the Shreveport-based 4th, but even it didn’t even see Barack Obama hit 40%. That’s not much different from the current setup (where he did hit 40%); the old 6th was the friendliest for Dems, but barely more so (with 41% for Obama).

Greg Giroux has some other interesting tidbits available on how the 3rd district (which is now poised to become a battleground between incumbent GOPers Charles Boustany and Jeff Landry) got neatly dismantled: Boustany represents 575K of the 3rd’s residents, while Landry represents only 180K of them, a nearly 3:1 advantage for Boustany. Of the old 3rd, 29% of it wound up in LA-01, 28% in new LA-03, 24% in LA-06, and 18% in LA-02. (The Daily Kingfish has picked up on this, and speculates that Landry might be better off challenging Steve Scalise in the 1st instead.)  

OR-01: Brad Avakian Will Primary David Wu

It seemed more a question of when, rather than if, one of the deep bench of Democrats in OR-01 would step forward to launch a primary against the badly damaged David Wu. The answer is: today… and the “who” may be the one of the most high-profile elected officials from the district, state Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian.

Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian is expected at 10 a.m. Monday to step into the Democratic primary against Wu in Oregon’s 1st Congressional District.  Wu issued his own press release early Monday morning announcing he would later this month hold his first open town hall meetings since he ran into a buzzsaw of controversy regarding his personal problems.

Avakian’s new website can be seen here. The battle-within-the-battle at this stage in the game will be for fundraising; for Avakian, the challenge will be to consolidate enough early support that he’s the only top-tier challenger, as a split non-Wu vote would probably let Wu slip through the primary (a la the many escapes of Indiana’s Dan Burton). For Wu, it’s retaining the sense of continued viability; to that end, he just announced a pretty viable $219K raised for the first quarter. While contributions from K Street and other Beltway pros seem to have dwindled, he’s still getting continued strong support from Asian-American donors.

Racial Composition Change by CD

With the Census Bureau having released 2010 data for all 435 congressional districts, I started slicing ‘n’ dicing the data last week, looking at population change in the fastest growing and shrinking districts. Today, as promised, we’re moving on to how the racial composition of the congressional districts has changed.

You might remember that I did this same project a year and a half ago based on 2008 estimated data, and that was a good template for today’s work, as the lists haven’t changed that much. Where the lists have changed, it seems to be more likely because of strange sample issues in 2008 (like the rapid appearance and subsequent disappearance of a big Asian population in NY-06) than rapid changes in the trend over the last two years. As with last time, the most remarkable chart is the one showing biggest declines, percentage-wise in districts’ non-Hispanic white populations. (Because this is the key chart, I’m extending this list to 25 places.) As you’ll no doubt notice, many of these districts also had some of the biggest moves in the Democratic direction over the years from 2000 to 2008.

District Rep. 2000
GA-07 Woodall (R) 476,346 630,511 75.5 486,673 903,191 53.9 – 21.7 31/69 39/60
GA-13 Scott (D) 295,107 629,403 46.9 202,053 784,445 25.8 – 21.1 57/43 71/28
TX-24 Marchant (R) 415,842 651,137 63.9 368,645 792,319 46.5 – 17.3 32/68 44/55
TX-22 Olson (R) 394,651 651,657 60.6 405,645 910,877 44.5 – 16.0 33/67 41/58
FL-19 Deutch (D) 494,890 638,503 77.5 456,060 736,419 61.9 – 15.5 73/27 65/34
CA-25 McKeon (R) 363,792 638,768 57.0 352,189 844,320 41.7 – 15.2 42/56 49/48
FL-20 Wasserman Schultz (D) 426,891 639,795 66.7 358,470 691,727 51.8 – 14.9 69/31 63/36
TX-07 Culberson (R) 439,217 651,682 67.4 411,276 780,611 52.7 – 14.7 31/69 41/58
NV-03 Heck (R) 459,756 665,345 69.1 568,343 1,043,855 54.4 – 14.7 49/48 55/43
TX-10 McCaul (R) 431,992 651,523 66.3 513,811 981,367 52.4 – 13.9 34/67 44/55
IL-03 Lipinski (D) 445,179 653,292 68.1 361,581 663,381 54.5 – 13.6 58/40 64/35
CA-11 McNerney (D) 408,785 639,625 63.9 400,825 796,753 50.3 – 13.6 45/53 54/44
VA-10 Wolf (R) 495,611 643,714 77.0 554,054 869,437 63.7 – 13.3 41/56 53/46
TX-02 Poe (R) 418,476, 651,605 64.2 399,454 782,375 51.1 – 13.2 37/63 40/60
FL-08 Webster (R) 447,266 639,026 70.0 459,529 805,608 57.0 – 13.0 46/54 53/47
CA-41 Lewis (R) 405,790 639,935 63.4 404,103 797,133 50.7 – 12.7 41/56 44/54
FL-12 Ross (R) 461,239 640,096 72.1 500,066 842,199 59.4 – 12.7 45/55 49/50
CA-10 Garamendi (D) 417,008, 638,238 65.3 377,698 714,750 52.8 – 12.5 55/41 65/33
CA-22 McCarthy (R) 426,192 638,514 66.7 432,482 797,084 54.3 – 12.5 33/64 38/60
MD-05 Hoyer (D) 400,668 662,203 60.5 368,667 767,369 48.0 – 12.4 57/41 65/33
NV-01 Berkley (D) 342,987 666,442 51.5 322,853 820,134 39.4 – 12.1 56/41 64/34
CA-13 Stark (D) 244,693 638,708 38.3 174,998 665,318 26.3 – 12.0 67/30 74/24
VA-11 Connelly (D) 430,091 643,582 66.8 434,526 792,095 54.9 – 12.0 45/52 57/42
CA-03 Lungren (R) 474,940 639,374 74.3 488,421 783,317 62.4 – 11.9 41/55 49/49
FL-15 Posey (R) 497,676 639,133 77.9 539,194 813,570 66.3 – 11.6 46/54 48/51

Districts appearing in the 2010 data’s top 25 that weren’t present in 2008 are VA-10, TX-02, FL-08, CA-41, and NV-01; while the other four are driven mostly by Latino growth, the growth in VA-10 (in Washington DC suburbs, more and more centered on once-exurban, now-suburban Loudoun County) is more Asian. These five replace TX-05, AZ-03, TX-06, TX-03, and NJ-07.

This presents a very different picture than the districts ordered according to the actual raw number of white residents lost. That list starts with GA-13 in first, which fell from 295,107 white residents in 2000 to 202,053 in 2010. This is the southern tier of Atlanta’s suburbs and exurbs, which is increasingly becoming a magnet for both Atlanta African-Americans moving outward and northern blacks moving south – in turn driving a lot of white flight, much of which seems to be rearranging itself north of Atlanta, especially in the 9th. The fast-growing 13th is unusual on this list, though; most of the remaining top 10 losers are districts where the overall population is stagnant or going down: MI-12, IL-03, PA-14, OH-10, IN-07, IL-02, CA-13, FL-20, and MO-01. As you’ll see in upcoming charts, blacks are replacing whites in MI-12, Hispanics are replacing whites in IL-03 and FL-20, Asians are replacing whites in CA-13, while in PA-14, OH-10, IN-07, IL-02, and MO-01, everyone is leaving, with whites are leaving the fastest.

Much, much more over the flip…

Here are the districts with the biggest gains among non-Hispanic whites:

District Rep. 2000
IL-07 Davis (D) 178,144 653,521 27.3 204,780 638,105 32.1 4.8 83/16 88/12
NY-15 Rangel (D) 106,664 654,355 16.3 133,839 639,873 20.9 4.6 87/7 93/6
NY-11 Clarke (D) 140,595 654,134 21.5 161,819 632,408 25.6 4.1 83/9 91/9
NY-12 Velazquez (D) 150,673 653,346 23.1 180,232 672,358 26.8 3.7 77/15 86/13
GA-05 Lewis (D) 216,674 629,438 34.4 232,507 630,462 36.9 2.4 73/27 79/20
NY-10 Towns (D) 106,746 665,668 16.0 124,232 677,721 18.3 2.3 88/8 91/9
MI-14 Conyers (D) 213,120 662,468 32.2 187,516 550,465 34.1 1.9 81/18 86/14
CA-33 Bass (D) 126,488 638,655 19.8 137,720 637,122 21.6 1.8 83/14 87/12
CA-31 Becerra (D) 62,177 639,248 9.7 69,321 611,336 11.3 1.6 77/19 80/18
SC-06 Clyburn (D) 269,215 669,362 40.2 280,474 682,410 41.1 0.9 58/40 64/35

While you might expect the biggest white gains to be in the exurbs, that’s not the case at all (as suburbs and even exurbs are often becoming a first stopping-point for new immigrants). Instead, most of this list shows regentrification at work, especially in the parts of the outer boroughs of New York City currently under invasion by hipster armies (and also new additions CA-31 and CA-33, evidence of the very recent momentum in the revival of downtown Los Angeles). Similarly, Atlanta is becoming whiter even as its suburbs become much more African-American (which we got a preview of with last year’s mayoral race, where a white candidate nearly won). The odd district out is Detroit-based MI-14, where whites seem to be fleeing at a slower rate than everyone else. Only five additional districts had a percentage gain in white residents, for a total of 15 of all 435: LA-02, HI-02, CA-29, PA-02, and IL-04. (HI-02, NY-14, and CA-29 fall off the top 10 list from 2008, replaced by CA-33, CA-31, and SC-06.)

If you’re wondering which districts had the biggest numeric gains of white residents, rather than changes in the white percentage, here’s where the exurbs come in; the list looks a lot like the list of the biggest gainers altogether, or at least the whiter districts among the biggest gainers. AZ-06 in the Phoenix suburbs (with a large Mormon core in Mesa) had the biggest gain, from 490,359 to 673,881, followed by FL-05, AZ-02, ID-01, UT-03, GA-09, CO-06, SC-01, TX-26, and TX-31.

Now let’s turn to African-American populations:

District Rep. 2000
GA-13 Scott (D) 255,455 629,403 40.6 439,119 784,445 56.0 15.4 57/43 71/28
GA-07 Woodall (R) 72,962 630,511 11.6 196,955 903,191 21.8 10.2 31/69 39/60
MI-12 Levin (D) 77,403 662,559 11.7 133,766 636,601 21.0 9.3 61/37 65/33
IL-02 Jackson (D) 403,522 654,078 61.7 414,414 602,758 68.8 7.1 83/17 90/10
MD-05 Hoyer (D) 198,420 662,203 30.0 281,862 767,639 36.7 6.8 57/41 65/33
FL-19 Deutch (D) 37,821 638,503 5.9 91,391 736,419 12.4 6.5 73/27 65/34
MD-02 Ruppersberger (D) 178,860 661,945 27.0 232,194 700,893 33.1 6.1 57/41 60/38
MO-01 Clay (D) 307,715 621,497 49.5 324,711 587,069 55.3 5.8 72/26 80/19
MI-11 McCotter (R) 23,456 662,505 3.5 64,239 695,888 9.2 5.7 47/51 54/45
GA-03 Westmoreland (R) 119,766 630,052 19.0 198,089 817,247 24.2 5.2 33/67 35/64

The list of the top 10 districts in terms of percentage gains among African-Americans is the same 10 as 2008, although with a few changes in the order. The story continues to be African-Americans moving from the cities to the suburbs, especially in the Atlanta area but also Detroit (with Detroiters moving north into the 12th), Chicago (with the metaphorical South Side now starting to extend south well below the city limits and even below I-80), and Washington DC (with Prince George’s County now largely black outside the Beltway, into the 5th, as well as inside in MD-04).

The top 10 gainers by raw numbers has many of the same districts, although also some of the suburban districts that gained a lot of everybody (like TX-22 and NC-09). It starts with GA-13 (from 439K to 629K), followed by GA-07, MD-05, GA-03, TX-22, NC-09, MI-12, FL-19, MD-02, and TX-24.

District Rep. 2000
IL-07 Davis (D) 402,714 653,521 61.6 322,730 638,105 50.6 – 11.0 83/16 88/12
GA-05 Lewis (D) 350,940 629,438 55.8 313,302 630,462 49.7 – 6.1 73/27 79/20
LA-02 Richmond (D) 407,138 639,048 63.7 287,077 493,352 58.2 – 5.5 76/22 74/25
CA-09 Lee (D) 164,903 639,426 25.8 131,574 648,766 20.3 – 5.5 79/13 88/10
CA-35 Waters (D) 216,467 638,851 33.9 188,365 662,413 28.4 – 5.4 82/17 84/14
CA-33 Bass (D) 189,855 638,655 29.7 156,406 637,122 24.5 – 5.2 83/14 87/12
NY-11 Clarke (D) 379,017 654,134 57.9 335,828 632,408 53.1 – 4.8 83/9 91/9
PA-02 Fattah (D) 392,293 647,350 60.6 355,849 630,277 56.5 – 4.1 87/12 90/10
NY-15 Rangel (D) 198,915 654,355 30.4 169,460 639,873 26.5 – 3.9 87/7 93/6
TX-18 Jackson-Lee (D) 260,850 651,789 40.0 260,585 720,991 36.1 – 3.9 72/28 77/22

The list of districts with the biggest percentage losses among African-Americans mostly parallels the list of districts with the biggest white gains, where regentrification is changing the complexion (and that it includes the catastrophic regentrification of New Orleans). It also includes several traditionally black districts where the blacks are being replaced mostly by Hispanics: CA-09, CA-35, and TX-18. IL-01 and MD-04 have fallen off the list from 2008, replaced by PA-02 and TX-18.

The top 10 by raw numbers of losses among African-Americans is led (perhaps no surprise) by LA-02, which went from 407K to 287K, followed by MI-13, IL-07, MI-14, IL-01, NY-11, GA-05, PA-02, CA-33, CA-09. Interestingly, because New Orleans in general lost so many people, the 2nd still significantly trails IL-07 in terms of the percentage loss.

Now let’s look at Asian-American populations:

District Rep. 2000
NY-05 Ackerman (D) 159,491 654,253 24.4 218,275 670,130 32.3 8.2 67/30 63/36
CA-13 Stark (D) 179,681 638,708 28.1 239,434 665,318 36.0 7.9 67/30 74/24
CA-15 Honda (D) 187,198 639,090 29.3 246,832 677,605 36.4 7.1 60/36 68/30
CA-48 Campbell (R) 80,095 638,848 12.5 137,094 727,833 18.8 6.3 40/58 49/49
NJ-12 Holt (D) 58,748 647,253 9.1 104,996 701,881 15.0 5.9 56/40 58/41
VA-10 Wolf (R) 41,846 643,714 6.5 107,583 869,437 12.4 5.9 41/56 53/46
WA-08 Reichert (R) 50,745 655,029 7.7 108,807 810,754 13.4 5.7 49/47 57/42
CA-11 McNerney (D) 55,895 639,625 8.7 114,217 796,753 14.3 5.6 45/53 54/44
CA-14 Eshoo (D) 102,430 639,953 16.0 140,789 653,935 21.5 5.5 62/34 73/25
CA-03 Lungren (R) 36,970 639,374 5.8 84,384 783,317 10.8 5.0 41/55 49/49

The Asian gains, percentagewise, are concentrated in the Bay Area, although the #1 gainer is NY-05, where the majority of the population is in NE Queens. Flushing is now thoroughly Asian, and that’s starting to spill over into Bayside (of Archie Bunker and Jerky Boys fame). That’s followed by the East Bay’s CA-13, the first non-Hawaiian district to have an Asian plurality. The rest of the list is mostly affluent suburban areas which are starting to become light-blue at the presidential level even as they keep Republicans in the House; will declining white populations in these districts be enough to push them over the edge?

NY-06, NJ-07, and TX-22 have fallen off the list from 2008, replaced by NJ-12, WA-08, and CA-03. If you’re curious about the top 10 by raw numbers gain, it mostly overlaps the above list, although with some of the all-purpose growth engines (like NV-03) on there too: NV-03, VA-10, TX-22, CA-13, CA-15, NY-05, CA-11, WA-08, CA-48, and VA-11.

Only twelve districts have experienced any drops in the Asian population by percentage, and most of the drops are small, so there’s not much need for a chart for them; HI-02 (28.0% to 24.9%) had the most significant change, partly because of an influx of white retirees but more so because the big rise in “Two or more” as a common choice in Hawaii. That’s followed mostly by districts with rapidly growing Latino populations:  HI-01, CA-20, CA-18, IL-02, TX-29, FL-17, CA-51, TX-30, CA-35, NY-16, and TX-16. Only six districts had drops in raw numbers of Asians: IL-02, MI-13, TX-29, FL-17, IL-05, and IL-01.

Finally, let’s look at Hispanics:

District Rep. 2000
IL-03 Lipinski (D) 139,268 653,292 21.3 225,298 663,381 34.0 12.6 58/40 64/35
CA-25 McKeon (R) 174,193 638,768 27.3 330,711 844,320 39.2 11.9 42/56 49/48
CA-41 Lewis (R) 150,076 639,935 23.5 277,907 797,133 34.9 11.4 41/56 44/54
CA-43 Baca (D) 371,501 637,764 58.3 510,693 735,581 69.4 11.2 64/34 68/30
CA-22 McCarthy (R) 133,571 638,514 20.9 255,209 797,084 32.0 11.1 33/64 38/60
CA-18 Cardoza (D) 268,586 639,004 42.0 381,039 723,607 52.7 10.6 53/44 59/39
FL-20 Wasserman Schultz (D) 132,575 639,795 20.7 216,352 691,727 31.2 10.6 69/31 63/36
TX-10 McCaul (R) 122,894 651,523 18.9 282,641 981,367 28.8 9.9 34/67 44/55
TX-29 Green (D) 430,980 651,405 66.2 514,861 677,032 76.0 9.9 57/43 62/38
TX-02 Poe (R) 82,578 651,605 12.7 176,196 782,375 22.5 9.8 37/63 40/60

As in 2008, the biggest gainer is IL-03, covering Chicago’s Southwest Side. (I’m truly not sure if people are moving from the depopulating, closer-in IL-04 to the slightly more spacious 3rd, or if the 3rd is becoming the destination of choice for new émigrés; maybe Chicagoans in the comments might shed some insight into that.) And in second place continues to be CA-25, a Republican-held district linking LA suburbs like Santa Clarita with high desert outposts like Lancaster. Interestingly, the list is pretty evenly divided by Democratic-held districts that already were substantially Hispanic and just got much more so (like TX-29 and CA-43), and Republican-held suburban districts where voting patterns haven’t caught up with the Hispanic population (and given the number of kids and non-citizens among those numbers, where it’ll take many more years for that catching up to happen).

There’s been a lot of churn among districts since 2008, perhaps a result of the difficulty of estimating Hispanic populations: districts falling off the top 10 list since 2008 are TX-32, TX-05, AZ-04, and CA-52. These have been replaced by CA-43, CA-18, TX-10, and TX-02.

The top 10 in raw numbers gain doesn’t correlate directly with districts that had biggest white percentage drops or Hispanic percentage gains. Instead, the list pretty thoroughly overlaps with the list of the top population gainers overall; while the Hispanic percentage went upwards in all of those districts, many of these districts were ones with a large Hispanic share already: case in point, the biggest gainer, FL-25 in Miami’s westernmost suburbs (which went from 398,986 to 577,998). That’s followed by CA-45 (which I certainly would have expected to see in the top 10 Hispanic percentage changes, but where the share increased “only” by 7.2%), TX-28, TX-10, CA-25, AZ-07, TX-15, CA-44, TX-23, and CA-43.

One remarkable thing about Hispanic growth is that it’s present almost everywhere. Only six districts experienced any drops in the Hispanic percentage whatsoever, all in urban districts where regentrification is occurring: starting with NY-12 (48.7% to 44.6%), followed by CA-31, NY-15, CA-29, IL-04, and NY-14. Those same six districts were the only ones to report drops in raw numbers, either: IL-04 had the biggest loss (from 486,839 to 442,018), CA-31, NY-12, NY-15, CA-29, and NY-14.

WI-Supreme Court: Prosser Re-takes Lead By 40

Don’t get too comfortable with Tuesday’s results, because now they’ve changed thanks to another discrepancy between one county’s results and the AP’s. Of course, don’t get comfortable with the new numbers either, as more changes are likely as recanvassing occurs and the inevitable recounting and litigation begins!

A tally compiled by The Associated Press Wednesday and used by news organizations statewide, including the Journal Sentinel, indicated Kloppenburg was leading the race by 204 votes. Figures on Winnebago County’s website are now different from those collected by the AP.

Winnebago County’s numbers say Prosser received 20,701 votes to Kloppenburg’s 18,887. The AP has 19,991 for Prosser to Kloppenburg’s 18,421.

The new numbers would give Prosser 244 more votes, or a 40-vote lead statewide….

The latest numbers for Winnebago County are not official.

The news service is working to reach the Winnebago County clerk, but the clerk is participating in the canvass of the vote and has not returned a message.

UPDATE: High drama! More lead changes! In the last couple hours, Prosser added to his lead further with new numbers in Waukesha County. But now Talking Points Memo is reporting that Kloppenburg has added votes in a number of rural counties, enough to draw about even. Suffice it to say we have no idea who’s going to win this thing.

Late Update: Prosser has reportedly picked up another 200 votes from the correction of a clerical error in New Berlin, located in the Republican stronghold of Waukesha County in the Milwaukee suburbs….

Late Late Update: TPM has just confirmed with the local clerk’s offices that Kloppenburg has gained some net votes in some other counties: +113 in Grant County, +30 in Iowa County, and +91 in Portage County. She has also gained +24 in Vernon County.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Now there’s word of a much bigger discrepancy out there in Waukesha County that would favor Prosser. Nothing official yet, though:

Reports that Waukesha missed entire city (!) of Brookfield in counting Tuesday vote. Could be 7K vote gain for Prosser.

UPDATE #4: Waukesha is indeed adding about 14,000 votes, adding about 7,000 to Prosser’s margin.

Madison – In a political bombshell, the clerk in a Republican stronghold is set to release new vote totals giving 7,500 votes in the state Supreme Court race back toward Justice David Prosser, swinging the race significantly in his favor.

MA-Sen: Brown Posts Leads Big Enough to Drive a Truck-Shaped Prop Through

Suffolk (4/3-5, likely voters, no trendlines)

Deval Patrick (D): 37

Scott Brown (R-inc): 52

Undecided: 11

Mike Capuano (D): 26

Scott Brown (R-inc): 52

Undecided: 19

Tim Murray (D): 23

Scott Brown (R-inc): 51

Undecided: 22

Joe Kennedy (D): 40

Scott Brown (R-inc): 45

Undecided: 13

Setti Warren (D): 9

Scott Brown (R-inc): 52

Undecided: 32

Ed Markey (D): 26

Scott Brown (R-inc): 53

Undecided: 19

Vicki Kennedy (D): 30

Scott Brown (R-inc): 52

Undecided: 16

(MoE: ±4.4%)

Here’s one more splash of cold water for anyone who thinks that Massachusetts, what with its dark blue hue, will be an easy Senate pickup in 2012. Local pollster Suffolk (who correctly predicted that Brown would win by 4 in the Jan. 2011 special election) find him leading by mostly large margins, ranging anywhere from 5 (against former Rep. Joe Kennedy, who hasn’t expressed any interest in the race) to 43 (against currently unknown Newton mayor Setti Warren, who seems like the likeliest of these seven to actually run).

They aren’t the first pollster to find these kinds of numbers lately, although these are the worst of the batch; for comparison’s sake, PPP found Brown leading MA-08 Rep. Mike Capuano by 16 in December, while WNEC in March gave him a 13-point lead. (Today’s poll has Capuano, the only Dem sampled in all three polls, down by 26.) That WNEC poll raised some eyebrows for its sample composition (34 D, 12 R, and 47 I, compared with 2008 exit poll numbers of 43 D, 17 R, 40 I), and today’s Suffolk poll is in that same territory, with a breakdown of 37 D, 12 R, 48 I.

If there’s good news to be found here, it’s that the Democrats tested (with the exceptions of Gov. Deval Patrick, and the Kennedys, all of whom have said they won’t run) are pretty poorly known, and their share of the vote is only likely to go up once somebody’s actually in the race and making the case in the local media against Brown’s mostly party-line voting record. In the meantime, though, through personal charisma (he has 58/22 favorables) and skill at building his brand as a moderate through frequent ritual invocations of his independence (based on the 56/24 ‘yes’ response to the question of whether he has kept his promise to be an independent voice), Brown’s starting in unexpectedly strong position. Add in the more-appealing possibility of another open seat in 2013 (if, as some expect, John Kerry resigns to become the next Secretary of State), and it’s no wonder the DSCC is having recruitment problems with this seat.