NH-Sen: Are We Getting Too Complacent?

Just as we were all settling into the idea that former Governor Jeanne Shaheen's victory in the Senate race this fall was a given, along comes a Granite State poll with some sobering news:

Jeanne Shaheen (D): 46 
John Sununu (R, inc): 42
(MoE: ±4.3%)

Why is this happening?  Has Shaheen not been running enough advertisements?  Have donors been loath to give money to Shaheen's campaign, assuming that this would be a repeat of Casey-Santorum '06, already in the bag?  I worry that these numbers may reflect a complacency in the Democratic base, one that could come back to haunt us on Election Day, and not just in New Hampshire.  Your thoughts?

UPDATE (James L.): I think the answer to the question that CC poses in the title is “no”. I think it’s important to take a look at Miss Laura’s analysis of UNH’s shoddy methodology, including their wildly gyrating sample — one that became 1.6% less Democratic and 3.9% more Republican since April. Shaheen is the only candidate in this race who has gone up on the airwaves with advertisements, and her fundraising has been stellar.

ME-Sen: No Wind Shaking the Branches in the Pine Tree State

A new Rasmussen poll shows a static Senate race since last month (June 15 in parens):

Tom Allen (D): 42 (42) 
Susan Collins (R, inc): 49 (49)
(MoE: ±4%)

These numbers are identical to last month's, and, when leaners are included, Collins leads by ten points, 53 to 43.  That concerns me, and I certainly hope Tom Allen is running as many ads as possible tying Collins to the unpopular and mistaken war that she supported from the start.  I know that the conventional wisdom is that voters in Maine only start paying attention to politics after Memorial Day.  Last month, Allen's movement in the poll bore that out . . . but what does this month's stagnation mean?

NJ-Gov, NJ-Sen: Treasury Secretary Corzine?

In the midst of more pressing political developments, a small snippet in a Reuters article caught my attention today; among the names mentioned as potential candidates for Treasury Secretary in an Obama administration, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine's name stuck out.  As we all know, Corzine has years of expertise in the financial world, having led Goldman Sachs before embarking upon his political career, first as a U.S. Senator, and now as Governor.  Frankly, I think he'd be an excellent Treasury Secretary . . . which opens up a slew of possibilities and questions in the horserace of New Jersey politics.

If Corzine ascends to the Cabinet, State Senate President Richard Codey will take over as Acting Governor for the fourth time (he took over when Christine Todd Whitman became the head of the EPA during Bush's first term, when James McGreevey stepped down amidst scandal in 2004, and when Corzine was hospitalized after a severe car accident last year).  Codey is probably the most popular politician in the state; we Jerseyfolk are known to badmouth our politicians and rate them poorly, even as we keep re-electing them, but Dick Codey stands out as the one pol with favorable ratings.   I would venture a guess that an overwhelming majority of voters in the state would be glad to actually elect him as Governor, after he would hypothetically serve out the remainder of Corzine's term.

And, frankly, that's a good thing, what with Chris Christie waiting in the wings on the GOP side, ready to take down a less popular Democratic candidate in the gubernatorial race.   Of course, Codey's name has also been floated out as a possible Senate candidate down the road, if, for example, Lautenberg decides that this coming term will be his last before retiring.  With Codey safely in the Governor's seat, the door would be wide open for such progressives as Congressmen Rush Holt and Frank Pallone, and perhaps even Newark Mayor Cory Booker.  Any one of them could keep the Senate seat safely in Democratic hands (and probably fend off the requisite primary challenge from Rob Andrews).  All of them are young, and could conceivably hold the seat for many years.

What I just outlined was the best case scenario: Treasury Secretary Corzine, Governor Codey, and, eventually, Senator Holt, Pallone, or Booker.  Will the stars align as such?  Discuss away! 

NC-10: A Blue Trend Extends To . . . Charlotte????

Well well, folks . . . methinks we might have a sleeper race on our hands here! According to the latest Public Policy Poll, Democratic challenger Daniel Johnson is only 11 points behind incumbent Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry. 

Daniel Johnson (D): 38 
Patrick McHenry (R, inc): 49
(MoE: ±2.9%)

While a double-digit spread does not seem like good news at first glance, keep in mind that this district, which encompasses some of the Charlotte suburbs and exurbs, has elected McHenry by over twenty points in the past two elections. 

McHenry, who was viewed fairly favorably as recently as last year, has seen his favorables dip below the dreaded 50% mark– yes, below 50%.  Conventional blog wisdom tells me that that spells vulnerability!

A few other interesting findings: in the gubernatorial race, this district definitely favors Pat McCrory over Beverly Perdue, and in the presidential, favors John McCain over Barack Obama.  Seeing as this is a district whose demographics skew older and whiter, I'm not too surprised.

NY-13: GOP Candidate Francis Powers Dies

In a tragic turn of events, Francis H. Powers passed away in his sleep, apparently from natural causes. Powers, 67, a former Wall Street executive, was selected by the GOP to run for the seat of retiring Congressman Vito Fossella.  All politics aside, our thoughts are with Powers' family at this sad time.

ME-Sen: Collins’ Lead Shrinks to Seven

(This topic deserves more analysis– as far as I’m concerned, it’s the biggest news of the day . . . and of the week, so far! – promoted by The Caped Composer)

Just as we were starting to give up on the Pine Tree State, a new Rasmussen poll shows incumbent Republican Susan Collins' lead shrinking (5/14 in parens):

Tom Allen (D): 42 (42) 
Susan Collins (R, inc): 49 (52)
(MoE: ±4%)

The poll found that Collins' favorability, while still high, has fallen from since last month, and her unfavorables have risen slightly.  Allen's numbers, by contrast, have remained static.  The most surprising finding here is the fact that Collins has a double-digit lead among men, but leads by only two points among women.  Discuss.

This race may still be an uphill battle, but, let's just say it's akin to climbing Cadillac, more than Katahdin.

VA-Sen: A Sigh of Relief

In every ranking of the Senate races, the open seat in Virginia always comes out on top of the heap in terms of those seats most likely to change hands. Former Gov. Mark Warner (D) practically walks on water, and maintains a consistently large lead over his opponent, former Gov. Jim Gilmore (R), as they compete for the seat currently held by retiring Republican Sen. John Warner (no relation to Mark). Beneath the confident chorus declaring Mark Warner's lead, however, there has been a faint hum of discordant worry, as Warner's name has been tossed about as a potential VP for Barack Obama. If Warner were taken out of the Senate race, our hold on that seat would be much, much more precarious, as there is no Democrat with the popularity and stature statewide to assure us of victory.

Well, I am pleased to report that we can all breathe a sigh of relief.  At the State Democratic Convention in Richmond today, Mark Warner officially ruled out running for Vice President, stating that he is “110%” committed to winning the Senate seat.  

That is not only good news for us this year; it also means that Democrats who have great potential but need time to build their statewide support, such as State Sen. Creigh Deeds, Delegate Brian Moran, and former Lt. Gov. Don Beyer, can save up their energies for the Gubernatorial election next year, rather than worry about having to jump into the Senate race in Warner's absence.

UPDATE:  The Virginia State Democratic Convention took place in Hampton Roads, not Richmond.  (The Richmond Times-Dispatch article I cited above did not mention as much– h/t Johnny Longtorso).

NY-13: CQ Changes Rating from “Leans Republican” to “No Clear Favorite”

With the Democratic Party coalescing behind City Councilman Michael McMahon, and the GOP similarly backing former Wall Street executive Frank Powers, the race for what was once a safe Republican seat has now been rated a toss-up, according to Congressional Quarterly. 

The semi-suburban nature of the district gives it a stronger Republican lean than any other part of New York City, but that advantage is countered by the fact that McMahon is an elected official, representing the northern third of the district on the City Council, while Powers has never held elective office. 

Further complicating matters is the fact that Powers still has time to make himself known to voters before November, and McMahon faces a primary challenge from lawyer Stephen Harrison, who ran against the now-scandal-plagued retiring Republican Rep. Vito Fossella in 2006.  The district has consistently voted for Fossella over the past few elections, but has split its presidential votes; in 2000, Al Gore won the district with 53% of the vote, but George W. Bush defeated John Kerry there in 2004, with 55%.

AK-AL, AK-Sen: The North Polls

According to some new polls from Hellenthal (5/6-10), we've got some mixed news coming to us out of Alaska.  First, the good news:


Mark Begich (D): 51  

Ted Stevens (R-inc):

(MoE: ±6%)

      Now, the tricky stuff:


Sean Parnell (R): 37

Don Young (R-inc): 34

Gabrielle LeDoux (R): 8


Sean Parnell (R): 43

Ethan Berkowitz (D): 38


Ethan Berkowitz (D): 58

Don Young (R-inc): 38

So apparently, it's not the GOP "brand" itself that is suffering in Alaska; it's the corruption of two particular elected officials.  Luckily, Stevens has no primary challenge (thus far!). [UPDATE: See below.]  As far as Young is concerned . . . I guess we've got to hope he beats Parnell in the primary, or else our chances of taking that House seat are significantly diminished.

UPDATE (James): While the article doesn’t offer any head-to-heads, the same poll tested Stevens’ strength against his GOP primary challenger, Dave Cuddy, and found Stevens ahead by 15%. Weak.

KY-Sen: Could This Actually Be True?

An eye-popping Rasmussen poll (5/22, likely voters) this morning shows Democratic senate candidate Bruce Lunsford leading Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell– yes, you read that right, leading McConnell:

Bruce Lunsford (D): 49

Mitch McConnell (R-inc): 44

(MoE: ±4.5)

Granted, it's a long way from here to election day, and McConnell is already tying Lunsford to Barack Obama, who, as we all know, is not especially popular in Kentucky.  Still, the fact that a Democratic candidate is polling this well against the senate minority leader, in a blood-red state, is a heartening development.  I'm just hoping that Tom Daschle's iPod includes James Brown's "The Big Payback" . . .

Update (James): It’s worth noting that earlier this month, Lunsford trailed McConnell by 36% to 48% in a poll commissioned by the Lexington Herald-Leader. Rasmussen’s been giving us an awful lot of good news lately. Maybe too much good news.

Update II (James): Like clockwork, the McConnell campaign has released an internal poll conducted around the same time showing the Senator leading Lunsford by 50%-39%.