MN-Sen: Coleman Fading Fast in New SUSA Poll

From SurveyUSA (registered voters; 07/30/07, 02/14/07 in parens):

Norm Coleman (R): 49 (57)
Al Franken (DFL): 42 (35)
Undecided: 9

Norm Coleman (R): 48 (57)
Mike Ciresi (DFL): 42 (34)
Undecided: 11

Norm Coleman (R): 49
Jim Cohen (DFL): 37
Undecided: 14
MoE: ±4%

What a tumble for Smilin’ Norm since February.  Coleman, who has enjoyed strong (but hardly stellar) approval ratings for much of the past two years, now has a net negative approval rating for the first time in 27 months of SUSA’s tracking history (48% disapprove, 43% approve).  The key here is that he can’t crack 50% against a candidate with very little name recognition: activist Jim Cohen.  (Seriously: who?)

There’s been quite a bit of skepticism (from myself included, I’ll admit), that Norm Coleman may be able to shape-shift his way out of the jaws of defeat while not facing a “top tier” Democratic challenger.  With voters still feeling frustrated over the Iraq debacle, even Smilin’ Norm may not be able to escape the anvil of the thoroughly disastrous Bush legacy.

(Hat tip: Taegan Goddard)

Are You Going to YearlyKos?

(Bumped – promoted by DavidNYC)

I’m curious to know which SSP readers (if any) are headed to the YearlyKos Convention this week. I’ll be going, so I should also take this opportunity to pimp the panels on local blogging I’ve organized. There seemed to be quite a bit of enthusiasm for the topic, so we wound up creating three roundtables:

Panel No. 1 (Friday, 1pm) features bloggers Mark Nickolas (formerly of Bluegrass Report and now of Rocky Mountain Report), Matt Lockshin (of Say No To Pombo) and Michelle Leder (of Take 19). SSP alum and local blogger extraordinaire Tim Tagaris will moderate.

Panel No. 2 (Friday, 2:30pm) features Mike Caulfield of Blue Hampshire, Philip Anderson of The Albany Project, and Wendy Norris of Colorado Confidential. I’ll be moderating this panel.

Panel No. 3 (Friday, 4pm) features David Kravitz of Blue Mass. Group, Karl-Thomas Musselman (of the Burnt Orange Report), and Matt Singer (of Left in the West). Kossack and Blue Hampshirite Laura Clawson (aka MissLaura) will moderate.

If you’ll be at the convention, please drop by one (or all!) of these panels. They’ll be informal, low-key affairs and undoubtedly we’ll discuss topics of interest to many SSP readers – stories from the campaign trail, what worked (and what didn’t), where the future of local blogging is headed, etc.

And if you’re attending YearlyKos, let us know in comments!

MI-09: Better Know a District…Michigan’s 9th!

By: Jordan Wells and Kevin Hrit – (Disclosure: Jordan worked as Nancy Skinner’s Online Outreach Organizer in 2006. Kevin worked as Nancy Skinner’s Field Director in 2006, and crunched numbers for Practical Political Consulting in Lansing.)

Michigan’s 9th Congressional District will be one of the top targeted races for 2008. The DCCC has already aired ads exposing Knollenberg’s awful record on veterans. Knollenberg is under fire from citizen action groups, and has been constantly bashed in letters to the editor throughout the district. Knollenberg is beatable. He narrowly won the ’06 election with 51% of the vote, and has 15% less money now than he did this time that cycle.

It appears the 9th District has undergone a sudden blue trend. However the Democratic base in the district has been growing steadily for the last eight years. Despite the growing Democratic base, Joe Knollenberg continues to cruise to electoral success versus weak challengers.

Jump below the fold for an extremely detailed analysis of the numbers from the 9th District.

In 2002 David Fink performed 2.21% below the Democratic base, with 39.89% of the vote, despite raising 1.2 million and contributing 1.2 million of his own.  In 2004 Steve Reifman performed 6.80% below the Democratic base, with 39.54% of the vote. In 2006 Nancy Skinner performed 4.28% below the Democratic base, with 46.21% of the vote. The Democratic base in 2006 was 50.49% (in ’02 it was 42.19%, in ’04 46.34%).

Clearly the 9th District is more competitive than the election results make it appear, which is great news given Knollenberg’s low vote totals in 2006. Democratic candidates in the 9th have failed to win over independent voters and even win over all Democratic voters. This has been due to a lack of fundraising, lack of connection with voters in the district, and lack of clear understanding of the 9th district.

Currently the two potential contenders for the 9th District nomination are Nancy Skinner and Gary Peters. Nancy ran for the 9th in 2006. Gary’s last election was 2002 when he ran for Attorney General.

In the 2002 Attorney General race, Gary Peters performed at or above the Democratic base in 72% of 9th district precincts (234 out of 325). This certainly puts the candidate’s performance in perspective. While losing by 4,677 votes in Bloomfield Township, Peters actually performed above base in all 36 precincts of the township. In his former home city of Rochester Hills, he outperformed base by 4.66%, in 30 of 32 precincts.  Despite losing the AG race Peters out performed the Democratic base in 72% of the 9th District. Consider that this is a statewide election, and each candidate did not necessarily concentrate on persuading 9th District voters. Peters was above base in 19 of 22 jurisdictions, and just slightly under base in the other 3 (within 2.2%).

Let’s look at Peters’ 1998 State Senate campaign, where he could campaign locally. In this election Peters performed at or above base in 99% of the precincts (155 of 156 precincts).  It is worth noting that in his run for State Senate in 1994, he won a five way primary with 51% of the votes, despite facing formidable challenges from Democratic contenders in a district stretching from Pontiac down through Southfield.  Then went on to win his first term in the Senate.

In 2004 Steve Reifman performed 6.80% below the Democratic base, taking 39.54% of the vote. These results have negatively effected the perception of our district and promoted the idea that no Democrat could win there.

In 2006 Nancy Skinner performed 4.28% below the Democratic base, with 46.21% of the vote. She only performed over base in 18 precincts out of 319 precincts (over base in 5.64%) and only 1 jurisdiction.

In 2004 Nancy also ran for Senate in Illinois. She lost in the primary (to Barack Obama), and as Kevin can tell you, being a first time candidate is really tough.

In Royal Oak City, where Nancy grew up, she performed 4.00% below base. In Birmingham, where the campaign office was located, where her dad coached high school football and where she lived during the campaign, she still performed 0.38% below base.

Gary Peters strong performances are due to the stances he has taken. He was a leader in the fight to protect Great Lakes water, earning him the Sierra Club's Environmentalist of the Year Award. Peters was the Democratic Caucus Chair in the State Senate, and ranking member on more policy committees than any other Senator. You can read more about Gary's biography at this profile article about him in the Michigan Bar Journal.

Nancy Skinner's support comes from her time on a radio talk show in the district. She promoted sustainable living, and worked on the Chicago Climate Exchange. She won a medal from working with the Clinton administration in 1993 for her efforts in rebuilding flood ravaged communities with sustainable building techniques on the Mississippi river delta. You can read more about Nancy on her bio page from her campaign website.

Neither candidate has filed with the FEC. Nancy Skinner's federal committee from 2006 remains open with $18,000+…although she has not filed any of the required reports for 2007. Gary Peters maintains a State Leadership PAC with $20,000+ (as of July '07) which can not be spent on a federal campaign, although he has been supportive of the State and County Party and candidates.



98 Base 14SD : 61.08% 

98 Peters :.65.48% 

98 Peters Performance v. Base : +4.40

02 Base : 42.19% 

02 Fink : 39.89%

02 Fink Performance v. Base : -2.29%

02 Peters : 45.52%

02 Peters Performance v. Base : +3.33%

04 Base : 46.34%

04 Reifman : 39.54%

04 Reifman Performance v. Base : -6.80%

06 Base : 50.49% 

06 Skinner : 46.21%

06 Skinner Performance v. Base : -4.28%


Here are the numbers and facts, please draw your own conclusions.

AK-AL: Another Challenger Emerges

From the Anchorage Daily News:

Jake Metcalfe, former Anchorage School Board president and former head of the state Democratic Party, announced late Sunday that he plans to run against Don Young in the 2008 congressional election.

“All this stuff has been coming out, there's been a barrage of new information about the corruption and the ethics violations, and I thought, 'You know, somebody's got to run against him,' ” he said.

“I just figured I'd do it.”

Metcalfe, an attorney for IBEW, grew up in Southeast Alaska in a large, well-known Juneau family. He worked previously as a prosecutor in Bethel. He said by cell phone from Washington, D.C., Sunday night that he plans to file the paperwork today.

Metcalfe joins 2006 nominee Diane Benson in the primary for the Democratic nomination.  And I suspect that those two won't have the race to themselves, considering that the DCCC and DSCC have been courting the likes of former state Rep. (and 2006 Lt.-Gov. nominee) Ethan Berkowitz and Anchorage mayor Mark Begich to take on the embattled Young and Senator Ted Stevens (who had his home raided today by the FBI and the IRS, incidentally).  If there are Democrats who ever wanted to move on up in Alaska and aim for statewide federal office, 2008 could very well be their best shot in decades, with corruption investigations heating up against the once-popular incumbents and the Club For Growth making suggestions that it might finance a primary or two in the state.

Metcalfe, for his part, seems to have gotten tired of watching the courted candidates wait as Stevens and Young implode:

Metcalfe said that former state Rep. Ethan Berkowitz and Mayor Mark Begich have also been considering a run against Young. Neither could be reached.

Young has a large campaign war chest and any candidate who runs against him needs to start early raising money and making connections across the state, Metcalfe said.

“People have to quit waiting for other people to make up their minds,” he said.

“The Democrats are in the majority, and we've got a back-bencher for an incumbent,” he said. “He's no longer powerful. …We need someone that's in the majority.”

With Republicans mired in scandal upon scandal, Berkowitz and Begich would be utterly insane not to run in 2008.  Perhaps Metcalfe's entry in the race will bump up the timeline for one of them.

NE-Sen: Hey, Why Not One More Candidate?


Pat Flynn, a Republican from Schuyler, NE, has entered the U.S. Senate race.

So, who is he? Here's his website bio:

For the past 13 years, Pat has been a volunteer youth minister with high school teens. This has been one of his most rewarding challenges in his life because of the amount of time involved and the humbling experience of sharing his faith. The Schuyler youth group has been one of the most prolific in the state of Nebraska and has received numerous international, national, and local awards and recognition for its outstanding work.


Pat has not always led an exemplary life. He had some encounters with the law regarding alcohol and marijuana when he was in his twenties. Thankfully, the law won these battles and today these experiences are looked upon as an asset because of the life-change that occurred. With the help of God, a recovery program and the love of friends and family, Pat’s life has changed and he has been able to help effect change in other’s lives because of this experience. Pat is not proud of this part of his past but has taken full responsibility for his actions and understands well the concerns and challenges of many others who are dealing with these issues in their own lives.


 I'm guessing this guy's hovering around Dave Nabity/David Kramer territory in terms of the votes he's going to get in the primary. Maybe even less. But it's been a while since we had any news in this race, so there it is.

Weekly Open Thread: What Races Are You Interested In?

Big news for the Swing State Project: we now have an AJAX-enabled comments section.  Now, like on DailyKos, you won't have to endure a full page refresh everytime you want to post a comment.  I hope that you find this feature as cool as I do.

In order to get the party started, you may need to do a hard refresh of the site for the feature to register in your browser.  On Firefox and Internet explorer, hold the Control key and press F5.  For other browser instructions, see this complete list.

Once you're good to go, feel free to take the new comment feature out for a test drive in this thread!

IL-18: LaHood Will Retire

Weeks after failing in his bid to become the next President of Bradley University, Republican Rep. Ray LaHood of Illinois' 18th District has announced tonight that he will retire after seven terms in the House, according to the Associated Press.

LaHood's retirement will create an open seat in the 2008 elections, and provide Democrats an opportunity (if only a tough one) of picking up another seat in the House.  With a PVI of R+5.5, the 18th District supported Bush by a 54-44 margin in 2000, and by a wider 58-42 margin in 2004.  It would certainly be a tough district for any Democrat to win next year, but House Democrats have proven to be more able campaigners in red territory than Republicans are in bluer turf.  Indeed, seven of last year's 30 Democratic pick-ups in the House came in even redder districts than LaHood's.

So who might run for the Democrats?  DailyKos diarist MrLiberal suggests State Senator John Sullivan, a credible campaigner in the district, or Kevin Lyons, State's Attorney for Peoria County.

Keep your eyes peeled on this race.  It may be a tough nut to crack, but the NRCC can ill-afford too many more retirements like this one. 

MO-Gov: Nixon, (D) Crushing Blunt

In the Missouri Governorship race that is set to heat up soon, it appears that despite a recent upturn in highly unpopular Matt Blunt's approval ratings, (they're in the forties instead of the thirties), he's still crushed by highly popular Democratic Attorney General Jay Nixon. It looks like this about to be a likely pick up, and a very sweet at that, as Blunt beat McCaskill by barely 3 percentage points in 2004, and it seemed to top off the Republuican trend in Missouri, (the MO-GOP having just come off a narrow, narrow victory over Sen. Jean Carnahan in the 2002 special election). Winning this would oddly reverse the situation, and having a popular Democrat at the helm of the Missouri Government would probably greatly help the State Democratic Party. Democrats are on a roll as it is, they took two state Senate seats in 2006, and six state house seats as well, (though they still have hearty defecits in both houses). We easily held the position of State Auditor against a strong GOP candidate and a slightly less than superb Democrat, and in a collosal victory, we took Sen. Jim Talent, one of the best funded GOP incumbents and savvy campaigner by the standards of media pundits.

The one thing we need to do to cap it off is to win back the Governorship and hold the position of Attorney General, which I feel Robin Carnahan would likely run for. The only tricky part would holding the position of Secretay of State, which in Missouri holds slightly more power than it does in other states.

Blunt is highly unpopular, for many reasons. The best way to characterize it is that he just hasn't hit it off. He was slammed unmercifully in the beginning of his term when he tried to balance the state budget without raising taxes by eliminating the states First Steps program, and slashing Medicaid, (after heavy pressure the Legislature reinstated First Steps). Slightly less controversial were his reforms to the state tort system, and worker compensation laws in order to make the state a more “business friendly environment”, which is Republican for going along with what the corporate business interests want. Not only that but he's faced a two pronged sword, and been hurt from both ends of the political spectrum. His rather laudable refusal to let the Missouri State Legislature, controlled by the wingnut faction of the Republican party, completely ban all stem cell research in the state, and his tactit support of  minimum wage balot inniative, have hurt him with the far right. Not only that, but Democrats have a strong, united position against him. So his approval ratings have flatlined around the low forties, and his disapproval ratings are averaging around 56-59 percent. hardly a popular guy.

But, I still figured that his support level would around 45-48 percent in early polling, him being an incumbent, and with the far right of the Republican always falling into line in close elections, (especially when their opponent is a strong Demcrat like Attorney General Jay Nixon). I'll also admit, I was thinking Missouri's large fundamental faction and small Republican lean would help him as well. But, in a recent Survey USA Poll, (and I tell you these guys are good, some of the top notch pollsters in the industry), he lost 57-38, (http://www.surveyusa… 1544). That's some news. We're crushing governors in comebacks that are so sweet in states with Republican leans, (I'm talking about the SUSA polls on Fletcher and Beasher in KY), comebacks in places where most us want to win the most.

However, I think the biggest part of this lead has to do wit the likely Democratic candidate, Jay Nixon, who would truly be an almost perfect candidate. Jay Nixon is the four term incumbent Attorney General, the only person ever to be elected to four consecutive elections. He's won his last three elections with sixty percent or so of the vote. He's had 23 three percnetage point victories each time, defeating his opponents by 550,000-600,000 votes. He's also quite young, having first been elected to the position at age 36, and would be 52 when inaugerated. On an interesting note he won his initial election by defeating then current State House Minority Leader Dan Steelman, husband of current State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, in a narrow race. He's a pretty straightforward, standard Demcorat. He's pro-choice, has labor sympathies, and conversationalist ideas. He's a highly experienced, and qualified candidate who I feel could be a great, highly popular Governor who could help finish pulling the State Democratic party out of a very big rut, (as Dean described it after the 2004 elections, the State party was like a car with four flat tires, and if not for the DNC's generous help to boost it we might not have won the MO-Sen race in 2006).

He's actually been a champion of the environment through his position as AG. and he's worked hard on health care issues, per a non partisan source,

Nixon’s victory in the U.S. Supreme Court in Nixon v. Shrink reinstated Missouri’s campaign contribution limits and cleared the way nationally for campaign finance reform. In two other cases of significance, Nixon’s work in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the Health Midwest cases have resulted in the formation of the state’s two largest health care foundations, which will use more than $1.5 billion to help provide health care services to underserved populations of the state. Litigation by Nixon against tobacco companies for illegally marketing cigarettes to young people resulted in the largest settlement in the history of the state.

As Attorney General, Nixon has created the Environmental Protection Division to enforce Missouri’s environmental laws. Attorneys in this division take legal action to stop the pollution of the state’s air, water and soil and to look after Missouri’s agricultural interests. Successful litigation by the division has resulted in the cleanup of polluted sites and millions of dollars awarded to the state. Nixon also has led the fight to protect the state’s interests in the management of the Missouri River as well as to preserve some of the state’s most valuable natural resources, such as Church Mountain and the waterways of the White River basin.

In fact he's been so dedicated to the environment that he has been recognized Conservation Federation of Missouri for his environmental works as a State Senator. This is definitely needed in a state like Missouri, which has some of the worst environmental ratings in the country. It's per-person carbon emissions are among the fastest growing in the country, partly due to the state's dependance on coal for energy, something which it's governors have not addressed. The best things about is taht there's little doubt he will won. He filed the necceassry paperwork almost two years ago, on November 10, 2005, only eight months after Blunt got into office. He's been raising early money and setting up a possible early foundation to jump into the race with a strong start.

This has the beginnings of a great race for Democrats, so lets hope it stays this way. I'm going to keep falling developments in this race very, very closely, and try to keep posting on it, and MO-07, (a hot congressional race where have former Kansas City Mayor runing against conservative four term incubment Sam Graves in a district McCaksill won 50-47), occassionally. Thanks for reading up on it, hope you liked, and I hope it gets some attention, becuase this is going to be one of the two major Gubernatorial races in the upcoming cycle.

P.S. Please vote in the poll. I use it as an indicator of how many people have read this, and I just really like to know that for curiousity's sake.

Update: I'd just like to say that a Misouran has clarified for me. Nixon is definitely running and other major Demopcrats are already vyign for the AGship. Republicans meanwhile have a primary on their hands. Links:

By what margin will Bob Shamansky win?

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MO-Gov: Despite Climbing Favorability, Blunt Lags Badly in New Poll

Since taking office in 2005, Republican Governor Matt Blunt of Missouri has had a bumpy ride in his first term.  He started off with a thud by cutting Medicare coverage to nearly 90,000 people, decimating a crucial service to many of his state's most vulnerable citizens.  Things were slow to improve for the boy Governor, but the startlingly high disapproval ratings that he attracted throughout 2005 and 2006 have begun to subside a bit, and, for the first time in the last two years of SurveyUSA's monthly polling, he has a net positive approval rating of +2 (48% approve, 46% disapprove).

If Democrats are getting anxious that Blunt may be rehabilitating himself into a second term, they should take comfort by today's SUSA poll gaging support for Blunt's re-election against his likely Democratic challenger, Attorney General Jay Nixon (registered voters; 07/24-07/25):

Jay Nixon (D): 57%
Matt Blunt (R-inc.): 38%
MoE: ±4.4%

So maybe Missouri voters don’t despise Blunt with the same intensity that they did two years ago, but they’re still primed to return the Governor’s office to Democratic control.

OH-16: “Tired of Theatrics” and “Legislation by Exhaustion”, Regula Fuels Retirement Rumors

Speaking to WKSU Radio, Republican Rep. Ralph Regula offered a self-portrait roughly in line with the common perception of the 18-term House veteran: a man discontent with being in the minority for the remainder of his career, tired of the House GOP's stalling tactics, and alarmed by the surging Democratic trend of his home state as of late:

“My chance to be chairman has probably past me by because we are in the minority and I don't think we are going to be in the majority in the foreseeable future,” he told WKSU.

“It's more fun to be in the majority, because when you're in the majority you're in charge and you can make decisions. You know, given a choice I'd prefer the majority.” […]

The massive electoral losses the GOP suffered in Ohio last year could also lead Regula to call it a career.

Ohio is “moving towards more of a blue state, and it's probably going to be reflected in the legislative races in the future,” Regula told the station. “Look, the Republicans had all the state offices. Now we only have one.”

Regula concluded that 2008 could be as bad for the GOP as 2006 was.

It will be “a challenging year, particularly if we don't have some degree of success in Iraq.”

On top of Regula's lackluster second quarter, where he was outraised by both his Democratic challenger John Boccieri and his potential Republican successor, Regula's wistful reflections are perhaps the strongest indicator yet that he'll hang up the saddle in 2008.

(H/T: As Ohio Goes