NY-20: Murphy Back 12 Points

Siena College (2/18-19, likely voters):

Scott Murphy (D): 34

Jim Tedisco (R): 46

(MoE: ±3.7%)

Here is the first public poll of the special election in NY-20 to replace Kirsten Gillibrand; compared with the Tedisco internal released a few weeks ago (which had Tedisco up 50-29), it shows Scott Murphy in a better position, although still in a pretty deep hole.

The good news is that Murphy, who has never held office before, is still little-known, giving him room to grow (his favorable/unfavorable is 29/10 with 61% undecided); Tedisco, by comparison, is much better known, although he’s viewed pretty favorably (47/20, with 34% with no opinion). The poll also asks an interesting question: whose endorsement will matter the most to you? The most common answer is Kirsten Gillibrand, who still maintains a stratospheric 75/15 favorability rating in the district. Gillibrand stumping in the district will go a long way toward helping Murphy here. Discussion is already underway in DTM,B!‘s diary.

NY-20: Tedisco Leads By 12 Points

From the Siena Research Institute today (whoever the hell they are):

Scott Murphy (D): 34

Jim Tedisco (R): 46

Slightly better than the internal poll provided by Tedisco’s minions at POS a few weeks ago, but still a double digit lead. To me, it’s a bit of an anomaly since Tedisco’s been absolutely inconsistent about his stance on the stimulus package while Murphy has been the polar opposite, championing it every step of the way.

The plus side is the Siena poll also revealed that Murphy has a much better job at securing support from his base, earning 70% of Democrats’ support as opposed to Tedisco’s 63% of Republicans. Although, considering NY-20 doesn’t have a majority of Democrats, where registered Republicans outnumber them by 15 points, this number is somewhat redundant.

Considering Gillibrand’s endorsement from the NRA, please don’t tell me Murphy seriously needs to go out and say, “I love guns and I love using ’em,” in order to clinch it with voters. That to me is just plain ass kissing at its worst.

Proposal For 2012 Primaries

From December 2007 to March 2008, I wrote various drafts of a proposal on how our political parties — starting in 2012 — might adopt primary election procedures that would better serve our country in selecting presidential candidates. I originally drafted a hypothetical calendar for 2008, based on general election results from 2004. Now that we have the results for 2008, I can now propose a calendar specific to 2012.

The system by which our parties choose their presidential candidates has proven itself to be, at best, highly questionable — at worst, severely flawed.

The primary calendar we need most is one that is built on an orderly and rational plan — one that is based on mathematics and on recent historical outcomes — and not on an arbitrary, publicity-driven, system of one-upsmanship. The change I propose would provide for a more effective, equitable process than the one we have now.

The following factors are the key ones to consider:

Margin of Victory

– The state primaries would be placed in order according to the leading candidates’ margins of victory in the preceding general election — with the states registering the closest margins of victory going first.

For example, John McCain won Missouri by 0.1% and Barack Obama won North Carolina by 0.4%; conversely, McCain won Wyoming by 33%, and Obama won Hawaii by 45%. Therefore, the primary calendar I propose would commence with primaries being held in states such as Missouri and North Carolina — and would close with such states as Wyoming and Hawaii.

– The purpose of ordering the states according to the margin of victory is to help the parties determine which candidates can appeal to those states that have found themselves most recently on the Electoral Divide. A narrow margin in the general election is reflective of an evenly divided electorate. In this scenario, a candidate who appeals to, say, Florida and Montana is more likely to appeal to a greater number of Americans on the whole.

Iowa, New Hampshire, and Fairness

– Iowa and New Hampshire might object to this new system, given their longstanding tradition of being the first states to cast their ballots. However, so long as Iowa and New Hampshire retain their record of being fairly bipartisan states, they’ll maintain their position towards the front of the primary schedule.

– Just because a state should have its primary later in the season does not mean that that state will prove invaluable to the process. Indiana and North Carolina weren’t held until May 6th, but those two states might have very well decided the fate of the 2008 Democratic nomination.

– This new system allows other states to play a greater role in how the parties select their candidates. For example, Missouri and North Carolina would be two of the states to get the limelight in 2012. Likewise, based on the results to come in November of 2012, a still-different slate of states could have a more significant role come 2016. A rotating system will be healthier and fairer.

Groupings of Five, and Timing & Spacing

– By placing states into groupings of five, no one state will be overly emphasized on any given date.

– Candidates will still need to address the concerns of individual states, whilst having to maintain an overall national platform. For example, a candidate will be less able to campaign against NAFTA in Ohio whilst campaigning for it in Florida.

– Given that each state has its own system for electing its delegates, these groupings of five states will act as an overall balancer. Ideally, caucuses will be done away with altogether by 2012. However — should that not happen — states with caucuses, states with open primaries, and states with closed primaries can all coexist within a grouping, therefore no one system will hold too much influence on any given date.

– Racial and geographic diversity in this process has been a great concern for many. The narrowest margins of victory in 2008 were in a wide variety of regions — the Midwest, the Great Lakes, the Mid-Atlantic, the South, and the West.

– All parties would have an interest in addressing these narrow-margined states early on. The incumbent will want to win over those states that were most in doubt of him in the previous election, and opposing parties will want to put forth candidates who have the best chance of winning over those very same states.

– Primaries will be held biweekly, giving candidates and the media enough time to process and respond to the outcomes of each wave of primaries.

– Washington DC will be placed in the same grouping as whichever state — Virginia or Maryland — is closer to its own margin of victory.

– American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Americans Abroad — not having Electoral votes of their own — will determine their own primary dates, so long as they occur between the first grouping and the last grouping.

Under these guidelines, the proposed calendar for the 2012 primary season is:

January 2012

Tue, 1/10


North Carolina




Tue, 1/24





South Dakota

Tue, 2/7

North Dakota


South Carolina


New Hampshire

Tue, 2/21





West Virginia

Tue, 2/26



New Jersey

New Mexico


Tue, 3/6






Tue, 3/20






Tue, 4/3






Washington DC

Tue, 4/17



New York


Rhode Island

Tue, 5/1






TX-Sen, TX-Gov: Republicans Post Early Leads in Senate Race; Hutchison Steamrolling Perry

Our friends at Public Policy Polling have a pair of new Texas polls out this week. Let’s have a look.

First, the presumably open seat Senate race (2/18-20, registered voters):

John Sharp (D): 36

David Dewhurst (R): 42

Undecided: 22

John Sharp (D): 36

Greg Abbott (R): 44

Undecided: 19

John Sharp (D): 37

Florence Shapiro (R): 36

Undecided: 29

Bill White (D): 37

David Dewhurst (R): 42

Undecided: 21

Bill White (D): 36

Greg Abbott (R): 42

Undecided: 22

Bill White (D): 36

Florence Shapiro (R): 37

Undecided: 27

(MoE: ±2.6%)

Need a scorecard? Here you go:

Former state Comptroller John Sharp

Houston Mayor Bill White

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst

Attorney General Greg Abbott

State Senator Florence Shapiro (Dallas/Fort Worth area)

Lots of numbers here, but unfortunately, all of this information may not be of much use to us at this point for a number of reasons: 1) Neither Abbott nor Dewhurst have announced their intentions to run, but also; 2) Assuming Hutchison resigns and a special election occurs, we’ll be first have to deal with a massive jungle-type primary with potentially dozens of candidates (Democrat, Republican, and freakazoid alike) throwing their ten-gallon hats into the pen. The top two will then advance to a run-off, so the events that lead us there could easily throw us all for a loop.

However, the immediate takeaway is that White and Sharp start off on nearly equal footing — their favorability ratings are a rough match (33-25 for Sharp and 31-26 for White), but both also have the most room to grow in this field in terms of name recognition — a little over 40% of voters don’t know diddly about either man, while Abbott and Dewhurst are known to 68% and 73% of respondents, respectively. (Unsurprisingly, though, Shapiro leads on this score with a 48% “not sure” rating.)

Oh, and speaking of that brewing gubernatorial primary battle… Hutchison is creaming Perry (2/18-20, likely GOP primary voters):

Kay Bailey Hutchison (R): 56

Rick Perry (R-inc): 31

Undecided: 13

(MoE: ±3.5%)

Things are looking pretty grim for Perr-Perr, though who knows how nasty this primary could get. Discussion already well underway in DTM,B!’s diary.

LA-Sen: Circus Adds One More Ring

At this point, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Tom McClintock and Gary Coleman show up to run in the Republican senate primary in Louisiana. So far, we have a potential challenge to David Vitter, a man who allegedly paid for sex, from Stormy Daniels, a woman whose career is based around being paid for sex. (If Mary Carey’s candidacy for governor of California is any indication, the Daniels candidacy shouldn’t be expected to get any serious traction, if it even becomes official. As a marketing ploy it might not even pencil out for her, if the anticipated revenues from increased sales of DVDs to curious constituents interested in learning more about her positions are exceeded by lost residuals from campaign advertising laws preventing her cinematic works from being shown on Louisiana cable systems.)

As of today, add a more legitimate potential challenger: Tony Perkins, prominent religious right talking head and current head of the Family Research Council. This is what Vitter was trying to head off with his recent moves to the hard right (taking on Clinton for SoS, for instance), but Perkins apparently still smells blood, today telling Politico that he’s “considering” the race.

“I don’t think he needs to say anything else about it, but I don’t think he can do anything else about it,” Perkins said. “Can people feel a sense of trust in him to publicly stand with him and support him and help him? Maybe he has [gotten to that point]. I know I still get some questions. I think he is certainly vulnerable [to] a challenge from the right – a candidate without issues.”

Perkins does have a background in elective politics: he lost the 2002 Senate primary and prior to that was a state representative in Louisiana, where he helped pass the state’s “covenant marriage” law which allows couples to opt into a marriage where divorce becomes more difficult. He also managed the failed 1996 Senate campaign for Woody Jenkins (last seen losing the LA-06 special to Don Cazayoux).

This is an extremely difficult race to handicap, since it’s still unclear who will be running (no Dems have stepped forward yet). It’s also unclear how the Republican base would split in the case of one of the nation’s most right-wing senators being challenged from the right: the breakdown may not be ideological as much as based on religion and region, as Vitter is a Catholic who used to represent New Orleans suburbs, while Perkins is from Baton Rouge and will play better among evangelical Protestants in the state’s north. (And don’t forget that while Louisiana threw out its traditional jungle primary for federal races, it still uses runoffs for primary races where no one hits 50%, and if there’s a third candidate a runoff may result.)

It’s tempting to say that a Democrat would have a better shot against the ostensibly more polarizing Perkins (with his links to the Council of Conservative Citizens and, via the Jenkins campaign, David Duke) than Vitter, but with Vitter’s travails, maybe not. And with Louisiana one of the few states trending away from the Democrats, they might not have much of a shot against either one.

DC-AL? UT-AL? UT-04? DC Voting Rights Bill Clears Cloture

A fascinating – and long overdue – development today:

The District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act overcame a major hurdle Tuesday, passing a Senate cloture vote by 62-34. …

The bill would give the Democratic-heavy District a voting Representative in the House and Republican-leaning Utah an extra seat that it just barely missed adding in the 2000 census. …

If the House and Senate versions pass each chamber as is, the bill would have to go to conference in order to iron out some differences – mainly, the fact that the Senate bill gives Utah a new district seat, while the House gives the state an at-large seat.

In practical terms, if this bill passes and survives constitutional scrutiny, DC will undoubtedly elect a Democrat. As for the Utah “sweetener” (necessary to ensure Republican votes), the question is whether the state legislature would use the opportunity to screw Jim Matheson out of his seat. The House solution neatly avoids this problem and would be my preferred outcome. Note that while no state with more than one representative utilizes at-large districts, there’s nothing forbidding it, and many states have done so in the past.

In any event, an at-large seat would probably only be temporary, as Utah is almost assured of gaining a new seat after the 2010 census. The enlargement of the House to 437 seats, however, would be permanent. And, bizarrely enough, this would mean the likely end of potential ties in the electoral college:

[T]he Constitution says that each state gets the same number of electoral votes as it has seats in Congress (in both the House and the Senate). So, you’d think that two more members of Congress would mean two more electoral votes, increasing the Electoral College from 538 members to 540.

However, the 23th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which granted the District voting rights in presidential elections, stipulates that the District only gets as many electoral votes as the state with the fewest. Even if this legislation is enacted (and upheld by the courts), Washington, D.C. will still only have three electoral votes.

As a result, the Electoral College will only increase by one vote, not two. That means that the Electoral College’s members would add up to 539, which, tragically, is an odd number. When you have an odd number of voters, it’s always tricky to end up with a tie vote. Unless a third-party candidate took some electoral votes, one candidate would have a majority.

Incidentally, Election Data Services’ latest study (PDF, p. 14) variously shows CA, NC, OR, and WA in the 436th and 437th slots, meaning one of those states would likely pick up an extra seat (or in the case of California, not lose a seat) in 2012.

UPDATE: A CRS report (PDF) suggests that Congress might have outlawed at-large districts – but because Congress has the power to set such rules (under the Constitution), it can do as it pleases vis-a-vis Utah. The same report also says that such a district would not violate one person, one vote jurisprudence.

CA-32: Hilda Solis Confirmed as Labor Secretary

Congresswoman Hilda Solis (D-CA) is now officially Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, and that now opens up CA-32.


Representative Hilda Solis, the daughter of two union members, was confirmed by a Senate vote today as the nation’s 25th labor secretary.

The nomination was approved with bipartisan support after Republicans ended efforts to delay a vote over questions about her ties to union groups and tax liens on her husband’s business. The vote was 80-17.

List of confirmed/possible candidates

Board of Equalization Chair Judy Chu (http://www.judychu.net)

State Senator Gil Cedillo (http://www.gilcedillo.com)

Emanuel Pleitez (http://www.pleitezforuscongress.com)

State Senator Ron Calderon

State Assemblyman Charles Calderon

Water District Director/Ex-State Assemblyman Ed Chavez

State Assemblyman Ed Hernandez

Baldwin Park U.S.D. President Blanca Rubio

Here’s some political and demographic info on CA-32:

2008 Presidential Vote:

Obama (D) 68.2%

McCain (R) 29.8%

Others 2.0%

2008 House Election Results:

Solis (D) (unopposed)

Voter Registration:

Democratic: 126,111 (52.0%)

Republican: 55,373 (22.8%)

Decline-to-State: 51,474 (21.2%)

Other: 9,621 (4.0%)

Ethnicity (2000):

62.3% Hispanic

18.4% Asian

14.8% White

2.6% Black

0.3% Native American

0.1% other

DCCC Unveils Frontline Program For Defense

Yesterday the DCCC introduced its Frontline program for the 2010 electoral cycle. These are the 40 incumbents considered to be most vulnerable, who are targeted for independent expenditures as needed to keep their seats in the D column.

Not all of these incumbents will stay vulnerable; in the previous cycle, between solid Dem fundraising out of the gate and an auspicious political landscape, only 10 of the initial 34 wound up needing funding. This cycle may be a little different, though; we’re playing more defense in more Republican-leaning seats, and fighting the usual midterm tendencies to recoil against the party in power.

Here’s the list of 40; rather than listing them alphabetically, I’m listing them according to the difficulty of the district’s estimated presidential lean in 2008 (and also including each rep’s margin of victory in 2008):

District Rep. 2008 Pres.
2008 House
AL-02 Bright – 27 1
ID-01 Minnick – 26 1
MS-01 Childers – 24 11
AL-05 Griffith – 23 4
MD-01 Kratovil – 18 1
AZ-01 Kirkpatrick – 10 17
PA-10 Carney – 9 13
AZ-08 Giffords – 6 12
AZ-05 Mitchell – 5 10
VA-05 Perriello – 3 0
NY-29 Massa – 3 2
OH-16 Boccieri – 2 11
FL-24 Kosmas – 2 16
NY-13 McMahon – 2 28
CO-04 Markey – 1 12
NM-02 Teague – 1 12
IN-09 Hill – 1 19
PA-03 Dahlkemper 0 2
VA-02 Nye 2 5
NY-24 Arcuri 3 4
TX-23 Rodriguez 3 14
NJ-03 Adler 5 4
NH-01 Shea-Porter 6 6
MI-07 Schauer 6 2
NC-08 Kissell 6 11
FL-08 Grayson 6 4
IL-11 Halvorson 8 24
OH-15 Kilroy 9 1
CA-11 McNerney 9 11
WI-08 Kagen 9 8
IA-03 Boswell 10 14
OR-05 Schrader 11 16
OH-01 Driehaus 11 5
IL-14 Foster 11 15
NV-03 Titus 12 5
NY-25 Maffei 13 13
MI-09 Peters 13 10
VA-11 Connolly 15 12
CT-04 Himes 20 4
NM-01 Heinrich 20 11

Take a moment to compare this with the House Vulnerability Index that we compiled last month. Pretty solid overlap: 18 of the 20 on the Index are also in the Frontline program. The two who aren’t are Chet Edwards, who’s well ensconced in his bright-red district, and Jim Marshall, who seems to finally be getting settled after a number of rocky cycles.

Note, also, the large number of sophomores who quickly locked down their iffy districts and have already graduated from their training wheels: Brad Ellsworth, Heath Shuler, Jason Altmire, John Yarmuth, John Hall, and Zack Space, among others. (Also observe who got the training wheels slapped back on: Mike Arcuri and the perpetually tottering Leonard Boswell.)

Who’s in the reddest districts without needing Frontline help? It’s all long-time representatives from the Blue Doggish end of the party, starting with Gene Taylor (36-pt McCain margin) and Chet Edwards (35). The rest of the top 10 includes some Tennessee and Arkansas reps who watched their previously safe districts fall out from under them, at least at the presidential level:  Dan Boren (32), Lincoln Davis (30), Bart Gordon (25), Charlie Melancon (24), Ike Skelton (23), Marion Berry (21), Mike Ross (19), and Rick Boucher (19).

And who had the narrowest margins in their own House races, without requiring Frontline help? Top of the list is Paul Kanjorski, who most people seemed to have left for dead and who escaped with a 3-point victory; apparently, the consensus seems to be that he was uniquely vulnerable to Lou Barletta and there aren’t any other threats on PA-11’s GOP bench. Following him are Chet Edwards (8), Ron Klein (9), Chellie Pingree (10), Jason Altmire (12), Jim Marshall (14), Paul Hodes (15), John Murtha (16), Dennis Moore (17), and Tim Bishop (17).

Finally, not to be outdone, the NRCC is about to roll out its counterpart, the “Patriots” program. (Apparently they don’t feel so sanguine as to call it ROMP, or Regain our Majority Program, any more.) No word on who the recipients are yet. One key difference seems to be while Frontline offers a lot of carrots, the Patriots program seems to involve a whole lot of stick:

As one Republican source put it Monday, the effort is also designed to “end the welfare state that the NRCC has become over the past six to eight years” by setting strict benchmarks for Members and adding one big stick to the process. Namely, those candidates who aren’t working to help themselves will be cut off from NRCC financial assistance.

TX-Gov: Kay Bailey Pwns Rick Perry

Sorry couldn’t resist the little rhyme, but it was the catchiest thing I could come up with after learning of this latest poll from our friends at Public Policy Polling.

Sad thing is, Perry is actually getting favorable ratings from within the Republican base, with 60% of GOP primary voters giving him the thumbs up. That would probably be the case if Perry was matched up with anyone BUT Kay Bailey.

It would give me great satisfaction to see Rick Perry’s career ended. He runs one of the biggest states in America and yet he’s turning down the stimulus money that could go help thousands, if not millions, of unemployed Texans. Jackass.