AR-Sen: Runoffs Look Possible, But Dems in Poor Shape for General

Mason-Dixon (5/3-5, likely voters, 1/18-20 in parens):

Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 44 (52)

Bill Halter (D): 32 (34)

D.C. Morrison (D): 7 (n/a)

Undecided: 17

(MoE: ±5%)

John Boozman (R): 48

Jim Holt (R): 17

Gilbert Baker (R): 11

Kim Hendren (R): 5

Conrad Reynolds (R): 2

Curtis Coleman (R): 1

Other: 1

Undecided: 15

(MoE: ±5%)

Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 35

John Boozman (R): 52

Undecided: 13

Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 39 (39)

Gilbert Baker (R): 47 (43)

Undecided: 14 (18)

Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 40 (43)

Jim Holt (R): 45 (37)

Undecided: 15 (20)

Bill Halter (D): 32

John Boozman (R): 56

Undecided: 12

Bill Halter (D): 34

Gilbert Baker (R): 42

Undecided: 24

Bill Halter (D): 36

Jim Holt (R): 42

Undecided: 22

(MoE: ±4%)

Remember, in Arkansas, if one candidate fails to get 50% on May 18, then we’ll have a run-off on June 8th. The entry of weirdo Paulist D.C. Morrison suggests that this is a possibility on the Dem side, and the fractured GOP field might also yield a run-off, unless John Boozman can seal the deal soon – which he may be close to doing. In light of this, run-off hopeful Gilbert Baker has released his own numbers (PDF) from The Political Firm showing him in second place with 22% (with Boozman at 44 and Jim Holt! in third with just 8). Research 2000 will have a new survey out this week, and I’m sure they won’t be alone.

AR-Sen: Little Change in Arkansas

Research 2000 for Daily Kos (4/12-14, likely voters, 3/22-24 in parentheses):

Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 45 (44)

Bill Halter (D): 33 (31)

Other: 6 (0)

Undecided: 16 (25)

(MoE: ±5%)

Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 43 (42)

John Boozman (R): 50 (49)

Undecided: 7 (9)

Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 41 (41)

Gilbert Baker (R): 48 (49)

Undecided: 11 (10)

Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 42 (43)

Kim Hendren (R): 49 (48)

Undecided: 9 (9)

Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 43 (44)

Curtis Coleman (R): 46 (47)

Undecided: 11 (9)

Bill Halter (D): 41 (40)

John Boozman (R): 48 (48)

Undecided: 11 (12)

Bill Halter (D): 43 (44)

Gilbert Baker (R): 45 (46)

Undecided: 12 (10)

Bill Halter (D): 43 (44)

Kim Hendren (R): 46 (45)

Undecided: 11 (11)

Bill Halter (D): 44 (45)

Curtis Coleman (R): 43 (44)

Undecided: 13 (11)

(MoE: ±4%)

There’s hardly any change here in the topline numbers from the R2K poll of Arkansas released last Friday, either in the primary, or especially in the general. (There were also Tom Cox matchups; I’m leaving them out, as he’s dropped out.) Undecideds are dropping in the primary, but the real gainer here is “other,” probably in the form of previously unknown conservadem D.C. Morrison.

The numbers to note in this poll are the approvals: Blanche Lincoln’s problem is that everyone has an opinion of her, and the majority of that is negative: 43/53. Bill Halter, by contrast, is at 47/30. 23% still haven’t formed an opinion of him, giving him room to grow. Lincoln, by contrast, has hit her ceiling and is upside down — not the conditions that get you re-elected.

AR-Sen: Boozman Up Big in GOP Primary

Zata|3 for Talk Business (4/13, likely voters, no trendlines):

John Boozman (R): 46

Gilbert Baker (R): 14

Jim Holt (R): 8

Curtis Coleman (R): 5

Randy Alexander (R): 3

Kim Hendren (R): 3

Conrad Reynolds (R): 3

Fred Ramey (R): 1

Undecided: 17

(MoE: ±3%)

Talk Business is out with the Republican half of its poll of the Arkansas Senate primaries. Surprisingly, this seems to be the first public poll anyone has taken of the primary on the GOP side… which is fast-approaching on May 18 (which is shaping up as kind of the Super Tuesday of Senate primaries). What’s not surprising: Rep. John Boozman, a late entrant but the race’s lone heavyweight, is firm control of the race.

The one possible roadblock to Boozman: Arkansas is one of the handful of southern states that uses a runoff system (the runoff would be June 8). Boozman is closing in on the 50% mark, but if he falls short, he’d be forced into a two-man race. And against state Sen. Gilbert Baker, that could be competitive if Baker consolidated all the other non-Boozman votes (which are presumably from the anti-establishment, anti-DC, religious right and/or teabagger side of things). Baker’s not counting himself out, clearly seeing that path with his switch to anti-insider rhetoric lately… and saying today that “No one gave Marco Rubio a chance when he challenged Charlie Crist.”

SSP Daily Digest: 3/2

AR-Sen: That didn’t take long; Lt. Gov. Bill Halter is already hitting the TV airwaves in his freshly-launched primary challenge to Blanche Lincoln. Now, you may be wondering how he’s paying for that, considering that he’s starting almost from scratch. Turns out he’s coming into this with promises of huge financial backing from organized labor; three unions under the AFL-CIO umbrella are committing $3 million to independent expenditures in the race, which in the cheap Arkansas media markets will allow him to get on a solid footing against Lincoln’s $5 mil. That’s on top of $600K that poured in from the netroots (from MoveOn and the PCCC). See what happens when you piss off your base?

Rasmussen also snapped into action, putting out some further Arkansas numbers, and oddly, they aren’t anywhere near as catastrophic for Lincoln as last month. They still don’t have her in salvageable shape, though: Lincoln loses to Rep. John Boozman 48-39 (compared with 54-35 last month), state Sen. Gilbert Baker 45-40 (compared with 52-33 last month), state Sen. Jim Holt 45-38, state Sen. Kim Hendren 43-38, and businessman Curtis Coleman 43-41. This is Rasmussen’s first time testing Bill Halter, and for now, he’s performing about the same or somewhat worse than Lincoln. Halter trails Boozman 52-33, Baker 44-37, Holt 42-38, Hendren 42-35, and Coleman 38-35.

CA-Sen: DavidNYC’s description of this development pretty much speaks for itself: “The lord taketh away Harold Ford, but may grace us with — I know it’s hard to imagine — an even BIGGER douchebag.” Mickey Kaus, the contrarian, Conservadem blogger, is apparently considering a run for Senate in California, taking out (though not yet filing) the appropriate candidate paperwork. Interestingly, I see no discussion of whether he plans to run in the Democratic primary against Barbara Boxer, or as an indie or a GOPer — not that he’s likely to provide much more than comic relief in any of the three categories.

GA-Sen: Democrats may be kicking themselves for dropping the recruitment ball this year on a challenger to Johnny Isakson for his first re-election bid to the Senate. Rasmussen found him leading Generic D by a not-overwhelming 49-36 last week, and now PPP finds him with a similar but even less convincing win over Generic D, 46-37. Isakson’s approvals are a rather Richard Burr-ish 36/38. However, as seen in North Carolina, Generic D overperforms Real D: in case AG Thurbert Baker was considering jumping over from the gubernatorial race (where he badly lags ex-Gov. Roy Barnes in the primary), he trails Isakson 49-31. Jim Martin, who performed fairly well in the 2008 Senate election, does a little better, losing 47-35.

KY-Sen: As Jim Bunning keeps up his Bizzaro-world Mr. Smith Goes to Washington impression (filibustering to cut off Boy Scouts’ dads’ unemployment compensation), he’s drawing the attention of two of his would-be successors. Democratic Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo has called for a rally at Bunning’s Lexington office to protest Bunning’s crazy last stand, while Rand Paul’s campaign in now responding with its own counter-rally in support Bunning’s efforts. (Paul won’t be there himself, and it’s not clear if Mongiardo will either.)

NY-Sen-B: There’s speculation that Harold Ford Jr.’s decision to abandon his Senate plans may have a lot to do with the likelihood of a Mort Zuckerman run on the Republican side — and that a lot of Ford’s moneybags donors were telling him they were with Zuckerman instead if he got in. Or, maybe Ford just got wind of his poll numbers in today’s Marist poll (pdf), giving him little shot at pulling the upset. In the Dem primary, Ford trailed Kirsten Gillibrand 50-19 (with 3 for Jonathan Tasini). Considering that Ford collapsed from an already-bad 44-27 in late January’s Marist poll as he gained notoriety all last month, that seems like plenty of incentive to get out. Gillibrand trails the unlikely-to-run George Pataki in the general 48-45, but demolishes Zuckerman, 59-26, as well as the already-running Bruce Blakeman, 58-28. In the other Senate race, undeclared candidate Larry Kudlow might want to save his money; Charles Schumer leads Kudlow 69-24.

OK-Sen: Rasmussen keeps polling everything that’s pollable, and today that includes the Oklahoma Senate race. No Democrat of note has stepped up to challenge Tom Coburn, and that may be just as well, as the Dems’ best possible candidate, the state’s popular, termed-out Democratic Governor  Brad Henry, still finds himself losing a hypothetical battle to Coburn, 52-40.

TX-Sen: Kay Bailey Hutchison is still insisting that she’s going to resign from the Senate at some point this year, despite the very very very very high likelihood of not winning the Texas gubernatorial primary which looked like hers for the taking a year ago. She still isn’t sure about a date, although it’s pegged to the legislative calendar, as before resigning she plans to, in her words, “stay and fight health care.” PPP’s Tom Jensen sees some interesting possible winners in Hutchison’s fall: Robin Carnahan and Lee Fisher. The scope of Hutchison’s loss tonight may give some insight into just how much this year’s discontent is an anti-Beltway insider, rather than anti-Democratic, bubble. The former, of course, would be a boost to statehouse vets Carnahan and Fisher (ahem, or Jennifer Brunner) as they fight DC hacks Roy Blunt and Rob Portman.

CA-Gov: Apparently, after having spent months meditating away whatever bad vibes he may have felt about the role thrust upon his shoulders as the only man who can save California, Jerry Brown has emerged from his Fortress of Solitude and officially declared his candidacy for Governor. Unfortunately, while he was away, Ursa and Non have had uncontested months to rampage around the city destroying things… although thanks to Brown’s super-powers of bafflement and misdirection, they’ve gotten bamboozled into slugging it out viciously with each other instead. (Meanwhile, General Zod has already left town for the more interesting Senate race.)

GA-Gov: Insider Advantage has polls of both primaries in the Georgia gubernatorial race, although no general election head-to-heads. No surprises on either side: on the Dem side, Roy Barnes is cruising at 36, followed by Thurbert Baker at 7, DuBose Porter at 3, and David Poythress at 2. On the GOP side, John Oxendine leads at 27, followed by Karen Handel at 13, Nathan Deal at 9, Eric Johnson at 7, and Other at 8. While Nathan Deal’s resignation is being spun as allowing him to focus full-time on his seemingly tractionless bid, there’s a darker side to it, too: TPM reports on how he was getting out one step ahead of the Ethics Committee, which was starting to look into allegations of Deal pressuring state officials to intervene on behalf of an auto inspection business that Deal co-owns. With Deal out of the House, the case is closed, at least at the federal level.

MI-Gov: May the Schwarz be with us! It may be the only way we can salvage the Michigan gubernatorial race. Joe Schwarz, the ticked-off moderate ex-Rep. from MI-07 (who got teabagged by Tim Walberg in a GOP primary before getting teabagged was fashionable), is launching an exploratory committee for a gubernatorial run as an independent. This could be a big break for Dems in the gubernatorial race — especially if obnoxious Rep. Peter Hoekstra is the GOP nominee, as Schwarz seems poised to soak up a fair number of moderate votes unenthused by Hoekstra’s right-wing grandstanding. Schwarz seems more likely to be Chris Daggett than Jesse Ventura, though, and if things get really scrambled — for instance, an all-centrist three-way between Andy Dillon, Rick Snyder, and Schwarz — he could potentially harm the Dems as much as the GOP.

NY-Gov (pdf): Marist also takes a look at the Governor’s race. Seeing as how this is their first poll after David Paterson’s announcement that he wouldn’t run for re-election, it’s also the first poll in a long time to contain any good news for Paterson: only 28% of respondents want him to resign, as opposed to 66% who say finish his term. And only 18% think Paterson has done anything illegal, as opposed to a mere 40% who think he merely did something unethical, not illegal. (The bad news: his approval is down to 23/71, which has to be a new low.) With the participants in November’s election now pretty much locked in, they find AG Andrew Cuomo beating ex-Rep. Rick Lazio 64-28. Cuomo’s halo may be shining even brighter as his office begins investigating Paterson; Cuomo’s approval is 67/28.

RI-Gov: One more Rasmussen poll to add to the pile, and they’re seeing more or less what Brown Univ. saw last week, regarding the Rhode Island gubernatorial race. Independent ex-Sen. Lincoln Chafee is definitely in the driver’s seat, although Dem state Treasurer Frank Caprio polls better against him than does AG Patrick Lynch. Only difference here: Rasmussen sees Republican John Robitaille performing much better, although he’s still deep in third place. Chafee wins the Caprio race 37-27-19, while he wins the Lynch race 38-24-22.

GA-07: One of the guys considered a heavyweight in the GOP field in this newly-opened-up seat in the R+16 7th has decided against a run. State Sen. David Shafer announced he’ll take a pass. Fellow state Sen. Don Balfour is already in the running, with state Rep. Clay Cox and Gwinnett Co. Commissioner Mike Beaudreau also expected to join him soon.

MA-10: Maybe I spoke too soon in thinking that Joe Kennedy III’s decision not to run next year was an indication of another term of William Delahunt. It turns out Delahunt has been on a bit of a grotesque spending spree, burning through $560K of his campaign cash last year (including campaign staff salaries for a number of family members). This cuts his war chest in half, and he only raised $42K last year — all actions of a man eyeing the exits. If Delahunt needs something to do with his money, I can think of a certain “DCCC” that could really use help right now, probably much more so than his family members. (H/t Adam B.)

MI-03: State Sen. Bill Hardiman (termed-out from his current job) announced that he’ll run for the open seat in the 3rd, left behind by retiring Vern Ehlers. Hardiman faces state Rep. Justin Amash, already coronated as frontrunner by western Michigan GOP power brokers Dick and Betsy DeVos. If the former Kentwood mayor survives his primary, he’s on his way to returning the Republicans back to having at least one African-American in Congress.

NY-St. Sen.: Give Hiram Monserrate credit for persistence, I guess. Having become the first sitting New York state Senator to get expelled in decades after an assault conviction, Monserrate promptly picked himself up, dusted himself off, and began running in the special election to replace himself. This time, Monserrate is running as an independent, against Democratic Assemblyman Jose Peralta. Peralta has the advantage of the support of the entire Democratic establishment, but Monserrate has one thing on his side: name recognition (not necessarily for good PR, but still…).

Ads: 501(c)(4) League of American Voters is running anti-health care reform TV ads against a whole slew of swing-district Democrats, hoping to sway a few wobblies in the run-up to the next House vote: Mike Arcuri, Dan Maffei, Chris Carney, Paul Kanjorski, Kathy Dahlkemper, Baron Hill, Steve Kagen, Alan Mollohan, Nick Rahall, Tom Perriello, Mark Schauer, Zach Space, and Harry Teague.

Special elections: And you thought the Texas primary was all that was on tap tonight? No, there are two special elections for state Houses, both of which look pretty competitive. The Dems are trying to hold a seat in Virginia in HD-41 in a swingy part of Fairfax County, recently vacated by Dave Marsden’s promotion to the state Senate. The Democratic candidate, Eileen Filler-Corn, may have the edge, in that she has a 3-to-1 fundraising edge over Kerry Bolognese, and the district went for Obama with 57%. On the other hand, Bolognese came within 50-49 of Marsden last fall, and Bob McDonnell won the district with 55%. (Both candidates, unappealingly enough, are lobbyists by day.) The GOP has the edge in the House of Delegates, 59-38-2. And in Connecticut, Democrats are gunning for a pickup in the Stratford-based HD-120, which was vacated by Republican John Harkins becoming Stratford mayor. Democrat Janice Anderson lost against Republican state Sen. Dan Debicella in 2008, although she beat Debicella in the portion of that district that comprises the 120th. She faces off against GOPer Laura Hoydick; the stakes are a little lower here, as the Dems control the state House 114-36.

AR-Sen, IL-Gov: Ratings Changes

  • AR-Sen (Lincoln): Tossup to Lean R
  • Rep. John Boozman officially entered the Arkansas Senate race this weekend. While he had telegraphed this for weeks, his official entry means that there’s finally a top-tier candidate for the Republicans. This race was a tossup even with a grab-bag of state legislators and self-funders, thanks to the Democratic brand’s decay in Arkansas and Blanche Lincoln’s play-it-down-the-middle-and-appeal-to-nobody approach. Two polls this week gave Boozman a lead over Lincoln in the 20-point ballpark, though, indicating that a stronger Republican probably pushes this one out of Lincoln’s grasp.

    Boozman will still have to fight his way out of the crowded GOP primary — state Sen. Gilbert Baker and businessman Curtis Coleman aren’t getting out of the way (although some of the lesser opposition, like Tom Cox and Buddy Rogers, have bailed out), and Boozman’s long House tenure may be a liability in an anti-incumbent, anti-establishment year. His base in the state’s dark-red northwest will probably see him through the primary, though.

  • IL-Gov (Quinn): Likely D to Tossup
  • It’s a bit of a surprise that Pat Quinn survived the primary election, as the primary campaign revealed he had something of a glass jaw, and the last few polls of the race showed him with terrible approval ratings and getting edged by challenger Dan Hynes. It’s never a good sign to have a bloody, depleted victor staggering out of a barely-won primary, and his problems are compounded by general anti-incumbent fervor and bad economic conditions in the Rust Belt, which is enough for us to move this race all the way up to Tossup.

    Still, there are a few things that Quinn has in his favor: he has an extremely long period (nine months) to rehabilitate himself, while the Republicans won’t even have a nominee for a while, and most likely it’ll be Bill Brady — while Illinois throughout the 80s and 90s was happy to elect moderate, suburban Republicans to statewide office, it remains to be seen whether a socially conservative downstate resident can get over the hump. Finally, the Scott Lee Cohen sideshow quickly and suitably resolved itself this weekend, leaving the state party to pick a more appealing running mate… although, after some initial lukewarm interest, Hynes has now taken his name out of consideration for a unity ticket.

    You can find our complete ratings here: Sen | Gov.

    RaceTracker Wiki: AR-Sen | IL-Gov

    AR-Sen: Boozman Demolishes Lincoln (If He Runs)

    PPP (pdf) (1/29-31, likely voters, 8/21-24 in parentheses)

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 33

    John Boozman (R): 56

    Undecided: 11

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 35 (40)

    Gilbert Baker (R): 50 (42)

    Undecided: 15 (18)

    Bill Halter (D): 30

    John Boozman (R): 53

    Undecided: 17

    Bill Halter (D): 34

    Gilbert Baker (R): 45

    Undecided: 21

    Wesley Clark (D): 36

    John Boozman (R): 51

    Undecided: 13

    Wesley Clark (D): 39

    Gilbert Baker (R): 45

    Undecided: 16

    Mike Ross (D): 37

    John Boozman (R): 48

    Undecided: 15

    Mike Ross (D): 39

    Gilbert Baker (R): 39

    Undecided: 22

    Mike Beebe (D): 43

    John Boozman (R): 44

    Undecided: 13

    Mike Beebe (D): 46

    Gilbert Baker (R): 38

    Undecided: 15

    (MoE: ±3.4%)

    Looks like Blanche Lincoln picked the wrong year to be a Democrat in Arkansas. Basically, Blanche Lincoln has become something of a Generic Congressional Democrat to the Arkansas electorate: 55% think that Congressional Democrats are too liberal (compared with 12% too conservative and 32% about right), and a very similar 52% think Lincoln is too liberal (with 14% too conservative and 28% about right). Clocking in at 27/62 approvals, she loses badly not only to the sort-of-known Rep. John Boozman (32/25 favorables) — who’s currently in a “I’m running but I’m not running yet” limbo — but the barely-known state Sen. Gilbert Baker (9/16, with 75% not sure).

    Substitute Democrats in the race fare little better, in case Lincoln gets the message and opts for a nice health insurance industry lobbyist job instead. The problem isn’t one of personalities (seeing as Dems have a strong bench here, including a freakin’ war hero) but the statewide brand, or more specifically, the state’s perception of the national party. This is best seen with the puzzling case of Gov. Mike Beebe, here with a 59/22 approval (not astounding, but probably still one of the best among all governors) but with a walking-on-water 82/9 in a different poll last month. Even Beebe, easily the most popular man in Arkansas, still loses to Boozman and is the only Dem to get past unknown Baker. Highly suggestive that Arkansas is happy to keep its Dems in-state, but currently very unenthused about sending them to the Senate. (See also conspiracy‘s diary.)

    Rasmussen (2-1, likely voters, 1/5 in parentheses)

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 35

    John Boozman (R): 54

    Some other: 4

    Not sure: 7

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 33 (39)

    Gilbert Baker (R): 52 (51)

    Some other: 6 (3)

    Not sure: 8 (7)

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 35 (39)

    Kim Hendren (R): 51 (47)

    Some other: 7 (4)

    Not sure: 7 (10)

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 34 (38)

    Curtis Coleman (R): 50 (48)

    Some other: 7 (4)

    Not sure: 9 (9)

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 36 (38)

    Tom Cox (R): 50 (48)

    Some other: 6 (5)

    Not sure: 9 (9)

    (MoE: ±4.5%)

    It’s not every day that you see Rasmussen having a more optimistic view of a race than PPP, although here it may simply be a less catastrophic view. Boozman here leads by a mere 19. More alarming here, perhaps, are the trendlines on the races against the miscellaneous Republican parts and pieces here: they aren’t gaining ground so much as Lincoln is further losing ground, sinking down into the mid-30s regardless of opponent.

    RaceTracker Wiki: AR-Sen

    AR-Sen: Lincoln Still Lagging, But Says She Won’t Retire

    Mason-Dixon (1/18-20, likely voters):

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 39

    Gilbert Baker (R): 43

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 43

    Jim Holt (R): 37

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 40

    Curtis Coleman (R): 39

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 41

    Conrad Reynolds (R): 38

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 43

    Kim Hendren (R): 38

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 41

    Tom Cox (R): 38

    (MoE: ±4%)

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 52

    Bill Halter (D): 34

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 63

    Bob Johnson (D): 22

    (MoE: ±6%)

    Mason-Dixon takes a first look at the Arkansas Senate race (on behalf of the Arkansas News Bureau), and while the results are still pretty ugly, they’re not as bad as some other pollsters have seen it — to the extent that there’s actually a path to victory for Lincoln. Not that it’s really in her control: she just needs to hope that the GOP manages to nominate one of the seven dwarves populating the GOP field, instead of the somewhat more appealing state Sen. Gilbert Baker (who leads her by 4)… or more ominously, that Rep. John Boozman doesn’t decide to get into the race, at which point the game would likely be over. Mason-Dixon also find her currently surviving potential Democratic primary challenges (from the left from Lt. Gov. Bill Halter or from the right from state Sen. President Bob Johnson — both of which have been rumored, but nothing tangible has happened yet).

    With Lincoln’s stock palpably sinking, there have been persistent rumors that the DSCC is telling Lincoln behind-the-scenes that she might want to consider getting out of the way, Chris Dodd-style. Unfortunately, there’s no Richard Blumenthal waiting in the wings in the Wonder State, making this rumor seem unlikely — although there was a whiff of a rumor of a Wesley Clark run in her place (or a run by Rep. Mike Ross, which would probably generate much less netroots enthusiasm than a Clark run — although that could create a New Mexico-2008 type scenario where every House seat in the state is open). Lincoln herself acted this morning to bat down these rumors, saying she’s under no pressure to retire and doesn’t plan to do so, despite consistently polling in the 40% range.

    RaceTracker Wiki: AR-Sen

    SSP Daily Digest: 12/7

    AR-Sen: State Sen. Gilbert Baker has generally been treated as the frontrunner in the Arkansas GOP’s Senate field, and that became a little clearer over the weekend with the state party’s straw poll. It was a close race, though: Baker got 35% (out of 700 votes), followed closely by businessman and Huckabee crony Curtis Coleman at 33. The biggest surprise may be who finished 3rd: former Army colonel and “Christian identity” enthusiast Conrad Reynolds, at 23, followed by head teabagger Tom Cox at 4, state Sen. Kim Hendren an embarrassing 2, and some dudes Fred Ramey and Buddy Rogers at 2 and 1 apiece.

    LA-Sen: Republican SoS Jay Dardenne isn’t seeming to take any steps to gear up for a primary challenge to Sen. David Vitter, but he keeps not doing anything to make the rumors go away, either. Dardenne recently said he’s considering polling the race soon, which would require setting up an exploratory committee. The only poll of a Vitter/Dardenne matchup, from R2K in March, gave Vitter an 11-pt edge.

    MT-Sen: If Max Baucus is running again in 2014, this is the kind of publicity he doesn’t need in the meantime. It turns out that Baucus, who separated from his wife last year, then began an affair with his office director Melodee Hanes — and then nominated her to be Montana’s new US Attorney. She didn’t get the position, although she does now work in a different role for the DOJ.

    NC-Sen: After a lot of back and forth, former state Sen. Cal Cunningham made his campaign for the Democratic Senate nomination official today. You can see his launch video at the above link. However, Chapel Hill mayor Kevin Foy, who’d floated his name out there for the Democratic nod, confirmed that he won’t be getting in the race.

    NY-Sen-B, NY-Gov: After trumpeting the rumors a few weeks ago that Rudy Giuliani was poised to enter the Senate race against Kirsten Gillibrand, now the Daily News is assessing Rudy’s decision to take on a long-term, high-profile consulting gig as security expert for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and concluding that he’s not looking so likely as a candidate for anything now. Meanwhile, over on the Dem side of the aisle, Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer, who briefly planned a primary challenge to Kirsten Gillibrand, has now finally offered an endorsement to her.

    PA-Sen: Rep. Joe Sestak pulled in his first endorsement from a fellow Congressperson in his primary campaign against Arlen Specter. Rep. Barney Frank offered his support today, saying that he considers Sestak one of the most valuable members of Congress.

    NV-Gov: With a recent Mason-Dixon poll showing Democratic Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman with a small lead as an independent in various gubernatorial race permutations, Goodman is now publicly weighing the race. He says he’ll have an answer “real soon,” but that his wife has already given him the green light on a run.

    AL-02: Can teabagging save Bobby Bright next year? Not by him doing it (or we can only hope)… instead, Montgomery city counilor Martha Roby, the NRCC’s pick in the race, is going to face a primary challenge from the ultra-right. Businessman Rick Barber, who’s been active in local tea parties and the 9/12 Washington march, is planning to take on Roby. He has to be encouraged by an interesting new poll from Rasmussen, which suggests that, given a choice between a Democrat, a Republican, and a Tea Party member in the upcoming election, the Tea Partier would beat the Republican, 23-18 (with the Democrat prevailing at 36%).

    PA-06: Wealthy pharma executive Steven Welch, who fled from the race in the 7th to the 6th when Patrick Meehan appeared, is now earning “RINO” labels and the enmity of the RedStaters. Welch not only gave Joe Sestak $300 in 2006, but also was a registered Democrat from 2006 through 2008. Also, another GOPer is sniffing out the race (as the possible fifth entrant in the GOP field): Scott Zelov, commissioner of very wealthy and moderate Lower Merion Township on the Main Line.

    TN-08: State Sen. Roy Herron is fighting back against the wide-ranging attacks leveled against him by the NRCC, as his candidacy for the 8th enters its second week. (Recall from last week that the NRCC has been gay-baiting Herron.) Herron called the NRCC’s attacks “ridiculous and desperate,” to which the NRCC said Herron was “foaming at the mouth” and “hurling ‘Yo mama’-style insults.” As much as the NRCC is transparently guilty of what they accuse Herron of, they at least win some points for evocative language here. An article from the Tennessean lists a few other Dems who may be interested in the seat, despite Herron’s quick entry, one of whom is a big name: former state House speaker Jimmy Naifeh (who had considered a run in 1988, when John Tanner took over the seat). They also list state Sen. Doug Jackson as a possibility.

    NY-St. Sen.: State Sen. Hiram Monserrate is managing to escape his misdemeanor assault conviction with no jail time, leaving his colleagues wondering what to do with him (including censure, suspension, or expulsion). Also, good news for the Dems as they look for ways to expand their narrow majority: one of the last Republicans left in the Senate within the New York City limits, Frank Padavan, may get a top-tier challenge next year from former city councilor Tony Avella (last seen losing the mayoral primary to William Thompson).

    Mayors: Kasim Reed has been certified as elected as the new mayor of Atlanta. His opponent, city councilor Mary Norwood, still plans to request a recount of the election, decided by a margin of less than one thousand votes. In New York City, guess who finished fourth in the mayoral race: fictional character C. Montgomery Burns, who got more write-in votes than any other candidate. Why just vote for a billionaire buying the office who’s only a little bit creepy and evil, when instead you can go the Full Monty?

    History: Here’s an interesting piece of trivia: a woman was not elected to the U.S. Senate, without having been the wife or daughter of a previous Senator, until 1980. That woman was Republican Paula Hawkins, who served as Florida’s Senator for one term, and in her outspoken self-proclaimed averageness, telegenic ultra-conservatism, and resentments of liberal media elites, was something of a Sarah Palin prototype. Hawkins died over the weekend at age 82.

    Polltopia: Here’s another thoughtful article at on what’s driving Rasmussen’s perceptibly pro-Republican house effects, from professor Alan Abramowitz. He says that there’s more going on than just their use of a likely voter model; he sees a major difference between Rasmussen and other pollsters in terms of the Democratic advantage in party identification. Meanwhile, PPP is asking for your help yet again: they’d like your input on which House district to poll next. Should it be CO-03, CO-04, ID-01, NH-01, NM-01, NM-02, or SD-AL?

    AR-Sen: Polls Show Serious Lincoln Vulnerability – in General & Primary

    Research 2000 for Daily Kos (11/30-12/02, likely voters, 9/8-10 in parens):

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 42 (44)

    Gilbert Baker (R): 41 (37)

    Undecided: 17 (19)

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 44 (45)

    Curtis Coleman (R): 39 (37)

    Undecided: 17 (18)

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 45 (46)

    Tom Cox (R): 31 (29)

    Undecided: 24 (25)

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 46 (47)

    Kim Hendren (R): 30 (28)

    Undecided: 24 (25)

    (MoE: ±4%)

    Rasmussen (12/1, likely voters, 9/28 in parens):

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 39 (39)

    Gilbert Baker (R): 46 (47)

    Undecided: 9 (8)

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 40 (41)

    Curtis Coleman (R): 44 (43)

    Undecided: 9 (11)

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 40 (40)

    Tom Cox (R): 43 (43)

    Undecided: 10 (11)

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 39 (41)

    Kim Hendren (R): 46 (44)

    Undecided: 9 (10)

    (MoE: ±4.4%)

    These are Moe Szyslak numbers – plug-fugly. In fact, Tom Jensen says things are actually worse than they appear: In PPP’s recent poll of AR-02, undecided voters in that district gave Lincoln wretched 11-58 favorables (yeah, you read that right). It’s starting to make me wonder how Lincoln can survive, especially if Baker winds up being the GOP nominee – and it makes these other numbers from R2K all the more interesting:

    Bill Halter (D): 34

    Gilbert Baker (R): 42

    Undecided: 24

    Bill Halter (D): 35

    Curtis Coleman (R): 40

    Undecided: 25

    Bill Halter (D): 36

    Tom Cox (R): 32

    Undecided: 32

    Bill Halter (D): 36

    Kim Hendren (R): 31

    Undecided: 33

    (MoE: ±4%)

    Lt. Gov. Bill Halter is mooting a primary challenge to Lincoln, and as you can see, all of the Republican candidates fare identically against him as they do against the incumbent. The big difference, though, is that Lincoln’s overall favorables are underwater at 41-50, while Halter is in positive territory at 36-25 – and two-fifths of the state doesn’t even know him yet. On account of that, I have to believe Halter would do better than Lincoln once he’s better-known. But the first question is, can he win a primary?

    Blance Lincoln (D-inc): 42

    Bill Halter (D): 26

    Undecided: 32

    (MoE: ±5%)

    Forty-two percent is not where an incumbent wants to be in a potential primary matchup, especially against a guy who’s unknown to a third of Democrats. Lincoln’s numbers among members of her own party are fairly decent, 62-32. But among Dems, Halter clocks in at a nifty 55-11, and he clearly has room to grow

    I’d also like to point out that Halter is hardly some unelectable left-wing gadfly. To the contrary: He won statewide office in 2006 with a higher share of the vote than even super-popular Gov. Mike Beebe. And while I certainly wouldn’t expect Halter to be a progressive standard-bearer, there’s little question he’d be better on healthcare than Lincoln, given that’s how he’s hoping to get traction against her.

    In the end, I don’t see how we wouldn’t be better off with Halter, whose negatives almost surely wouldn’t wind up as awful as Lincoln’s, and who can’t be tied to DC in quite the same way. It wouldn’t be an easy fight – waging war against an incumbent seldom is. But I’d like to see him try.

    (Note: According to the SSP calendar, Arkansas’s filing deadline is March 8th and the primary is May 18th.)

    RaceTracker Wiki: AR-Sen

    AR-Sen: Lincoln Leads, But Under 50%

    Research 2000 for Daily Kos (9/8-10, likely voters):

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 44

    Gilbert Baker (R): 37

    Undecided: 19

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 45

    Curtis Coleman (R): 37

    Undecided: 18

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 46

    Tom Cox (R): 29

    Undecided: 25

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 47

    Kim Hendren (R): 28

    Undecided: 25

    (MoE: ±4%)

    Blanche Lincoln fares a little better in R2K’s first look at the Arkansas Senate race than she did in the recent PPP poll, which had her trailing state Sen. Gilbert Baker by 2 points. Here, she has a 7-point lead on Baker, and also beats her goofier GOP opponents by margins ranging from 8 to 19 (in the case of state Sen. Kim “That Jew” Hendren).

    Still, Lincoln shouldn’t be resting on her laurels. She’s polling well below the 50% mark, and her approvals are a net negative: 43/49 (with only 17% “very favorable”). Her opponents remain largely unknown, with “no opinion” ranging from 73% for Baker and 75% for Curtis “Shots and Visa” Coleman, to 85% for Cox and Hendren. One finding that might give her a little breathing room, though, is that Arkansans support creation of the public option, 55-38 (when the interviewer fully explains it and doesn’t just say “public option”)… assuming, of course, that she’s actually interested in what her constituents think about the matter.

    RaceTracker Wiki: AR-Sen