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, 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

    SSP Daily Digest: 11/6

    House: Congratulations to Rep. John Garamendi, who was sworn in yesterday, and Rep. Bill Owens, who was sworn in today. Garamendi and Owens are joining the Democratic caucus as quickly as possible so that they can be eligible to vote on healthcare reform this weekend. (D)

    AR-Sen: Remember how yesterday NRSC chair John Cornyn caved to the party’s right flank, and said that he wouldn’t spend money in primaries or endorse in the future? Well, that lasted about a day: turns out that state Sen. Gilbert Baker, the GOP’s best shot in Arkansas, will be having a fundraiser in Washington DC on the 19th… at the NRSC. (The NRSC did announce that it still didn’t amount to endorsement, and that other Arkansas candidates were still welcome to have fundraisers at the NRSC. Uh, call me when there’s actually a fundraiser for head teabagger Tom Cox at the NRSC building.) More generally, CQ has a nice overview of the tightrope Cornyn is walking as he tries to make some inroads in swing states in 2010.

    CA-Sen: Perhaps in an attempt to give some cover to Cornyn (whose hand-picked candidate, Carly Fiorina, is raising the ire of the Chuck DeVore-supporting right wing), eight GOP Senators all endorsed Fiorina yesterday: a couple from leadership (McConnell, Kyl), the moderate women (Snowe, Collins, and Murkowski), some chit-cashing from last year (McCain and Graham), and one from total right field (Coburn). Tom Coburn’s endorsement is especially surprising in view of fellow wackadoodle Jim DeMint’s endorsement of DeVore. DeMint, for his part, is still attacking John Cornyn’s recruitment efforts today, perfectly encapsulating the right-wing mentality while saying “He’s trying to find candidates who can win. I’m trying to find people who can help me change the Senate.”

    FL-Sen: After Charlie Crist’s bizarre denials that he ever supported the Obama stimulus package, the White House left Crist out to dry yesterday, saying that, yes, in fact, he did support the stimulus.

    KS-Sen: This may fall under the “endorsement you don’t want to tout too loudly” category, although with most of the big-name endorsements so far going to Rep. Jerry Moran in the Kansas Senate race, Rep. Todd Tiahrt will probaly take what he can get. Former AG and Senator John Ashcroft endorsed Tiahrt.

    MT-Sen: Here’s what has the potential to be one of 2012’s hottest Senate races, already shaping up. Rep. Denny Rehberg, the state’s lone at-large Congressperson, met with the NRSC concerning a possible run at Jon Tester.

    CA-Gov: With ex-Gov. Jerry Brown suddenly finding himself with the gubernatorial primary field to himself for now, a familiar face has popped up yet again. Dianne Feinstein, who all year has alternately expressed interest and dismissed rumors of her interest, is now back to saying that she still hasn’t ruled out a gubernatorial run. She’ll wait to see what proposals for fixing the badly-broken state the various candidates put out before deciding whether or not to get in herself.

    IL-Gov: Somehow this got lost in all the shuffle surrounding Election Day, but it’s kind of important: after a short period of being the subject of speculation, Jim Ryan made it official that he’s running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in Illinois. He probably becomes the frontrunner in the GOP field, by virtue of name rec: he was the state’s Attorney General from 1994-2002, and lost the 2002 governor’s race to Rod Blagojevich. The rest of the GOP field is a hodge-podge of state Senators and county-level officials, with state GOP chair Andy McKenna maybe the best known of the rest. Ryan’s biggest problem may be hoping people don’t confuse him with imprisoned ex-Gov. George Ryan or weird-sex-fan and 2004 Senate candidate Jack Ryan.

    MN-Gov: Another gubernatorial entry that seemed to fly below the radar this week is also a big one: Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak filed to run for governor yesterday. The well-liked Rybak seems like one of the likeliest candidates to prevail in the very crowded Democratic field.

    NJ-Gov: There are going to be a lot of coulda-shoulda-wouldas in the next few weeks in New Jersey, and here’s a big one already. State Senate leader (and former acting Governor) Richard Codey says that the White House contacted him repeatedly over the summer about taking over for Corzine on the ticket, and that Corzine and Codey even discussed it. Codey deferred to Corzine’s decision to stay in — although Corzine nearly decided to pack it in. Reportedly, internal polls over the summer showed Codey beating Chris Christie by double digits.

    NY-Gov: David Paterson is going on the air with two different TV spots (including one where he admits to “lots of mistakes”), apparently trying to bring up his approvals before deciding whether or not to run again in 2010. Paterson is still looking to move forward on the contentious issue of gay marriage, though, planning to put it on the agenda for next week’s special session. It may not have the votes to clear the Senate, but it hasn’t really been put to the test yet. (The worry is that moderate Republicans in the Senate who might have been on board earlier may be leerier now, afraid of getting Scozzafavaed by the right.)

    NY-23: A rare bit of history was made on Tuesday, in that a seat flipping to the president’s party in a House special election (as opposed to a tough retention, as in NY-20) is highly unusual. The most recent case was in VA-04 in 2001, when Republican Randy Forbes picked up a swing district left open by the death of Dem Norman Sisisky. (Subsequent gerrymandering turned the 4th into a safe GOP seat.) The previous instances before that were in 1989, 1988, and 1983.

    TX-32: Pete Sessions Deathwatch, Vol. 3? One more article piles on the “loser” meme regarding Sessions’ series of NY-23 screwups — and it comes from his hometown paper in Dallas. Meanwhile at home, Sessions is now facing a primary challenge from the right, from financial analyst David Smith. Smith is upset about the Scozzafava thing, but mostly focusing on Sessions’ TARP vote. Still, a primary challenge from the right against one of the House’s most conservative members? Seems like that’d be like going after Tammy Baldwin from the left.

    WI-02: Oh, wait. But that’s exactly what some guy is doing. And he’s not just a rube who fell off the biodiesel-fueled organic turnip truck while reaching for his bong: it’s an actual member of the Board of Supervisors of Dane County (where Madison is). David de Felice is upset that Baldwin hasn’t pushed harder for single-payer health care.

    WI-08: Two different new entries in the Green Bay-based 8th. Physician and Air Force vet Marc Trager got into the Republican field to go against Democratic sophomore Rep. Steve Kagen, where businessman Reid Ribble seems to have the inside track based on fundraising and NRCC-touting so far. And yet another random right-winger is imagining his own head superimposed on Doug Hoffman’s body: former Niagara mayor Joe Stern will run as a grassroots conservative independent in 2010.

    NY Comptroller: A piece on New York 1 speculates that NYC Comptroller Bill Thompson, fresh off a much narrower-than-expected loss to Mayor Mike Bloomberg, could challenge New York State Comptroller Bill DiNapoli in the Democratic primary next year. DiNapoli, you may recall, was appointed to the seat after Alan Hevesi resigned. Thompson said he’s not currently looking at the race, but says that nothing is off the table. (D)

    WA-Init: Referendum 71 was finally called by the press (for the side of equality). Although more votes remain to be counted in the currently 52-48 race, it would require a bizarre turnaround in King County (where it’s currently at 70% approval) to change the result. Meanwhile, Seattle‘s mayoral race is still up in the air; Mike McGinn leads by a 515-vote margin (out of 130,000 counted so far).

    Census: As expected, the Vitter amendment requiring the Census to include a question on citizenship was blocked by Democrats. Conservatives don’t want undocumented immigrants to count for apportionment, and there’s an added incentive for David Vitter, as Louisiana might be able to salvage its 7th seat if such legislation were passed.

    Primaries: MoveOn and DFA are allocating millions of dollars to potential primary challenges against any Democrats who join a Republican filibuster on health care. (The only one who’s on the fence about that and actually up in 2010 is Blanche Lincoln, and nobody of consequence has stepped up to primary her from the left yet, although Lt. Gov. Bill Halter has alluded to the idea.)

    Polling: Mark Blumenthal has a good wrapup of how the various pollsters did on Tuesday. As others have pointed out, IVR polls outperformed live pollsters, at least in the two gubernatorial races (even though they still got weird results in the crosstabs, especially on race). Blumenthal also analyzes what went wrong in NY-23 polling. Also on the polling front, it looks like Nate Silver may have succeeded in scaring off Strategic Vision LLC. As he reports today, not only did they never get around to suing him, but they haven’t released any polls since the imbroglio began, despite that this week’s election would be the prime time to do so.

    WATN?: Finally, we have sad news to report: the Mumpower has finally been contained. Republican Carl Mumpower, the out-of-the-box thinker who lost spectacularly to Rep. Heath Shuler in 2008, got bounced out of his position as Asheville City Councilor on Tuesday.

    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

    SSP Daily Digest: 6/16

    AR-Sen: The leader of Arkansas teabaggers’ movement, Tom Cox, has decided that he’ll run for the GOP nomination for Senate to run against Blanche Lincoln. Cox is the owner of Aloha Pontoon Boats, where he had a little trouble last year with a federal raid turned up 13 illegal immigrants working for him… which doesn’t sound like it’ll play well with his ideal base voters. In the primary, he’ll face off against an anti-semitic state senator and some Huckabee buddy who owns a food safety company.

    FL-Sen: The movement conservatives continue to square off against the establishment in the GOP Florida Senate primary. Jim DeMint, probably the most conservative senator by most metrics and with a sizable grass roots following, just endorsed Marco Rubio.

    IL-Sen: Rep. Mark Kirk still refuses to say what exactly he’s doing, but he promises that he’s raising money “for a big campaign.” (His last few House races have been big-money affairs, so who knows what that means?)

    KS-Sen: Dems seem to be moving closer to actually having a candidate in the Kansas Senate race: former newspaper editor Charles Schollenberger, who formed an exploratory committee.

    KY-Sen: State Senate President David Williams had publicly contemplated getting into the GOP primary against Jim Bunning, even meeting with the NRSC, but he said yesterday that he won’t run. He refused to officially endorse anybody, but said he was most excited about philanthropist and former ambassador Cathy Bailey among the possible candidates.

    NY-Sen-B: Rep. Carolyn Maloney has set a July 4th deadline for deciding whether or not to run in the Senate primary. Meanwhile, Kirsten Gillibrand picked up two endorsement from groups with a lot of on-the-ground firepower: New York State United Teachers and (cue the Phase 5 wingnut freakout) ACORN. Rep. Peter King, on the GOP side, set his own deadline, saying he’ll decide whether or not to run by Labor Day. Also today is word that Barack Obama had King in his sights as he cut a swath through Northeast Republicans by offering him a job — in his case, ambassador to Ireland, which King declined.

    PA-Sen: Looks like that Act of God never happened, because Rep. Joe Sestak is actively staffing up for a Senate primary challenge to Arlen Specter.

    WV-Sen: With 91-year-old Robert Byrd having been in the hospital for nearly a month now and not planning an immediate return to the Senate, there have been some behind-the-scenes discussions of what happens if he can’t return to office. West Virginia state Democratic party chair Nick Casey is seen as the consensus choice to serve as placeholder until the 2010 election, if need be.

    AZ-Gov: This can’t be helping Jan Brewer (the Republican SoS who ascended to the governor’s mansion to replace Janet Napolitano) as she considers whether or not to run for a full term: she’s in a standoff with her Republican-controlled legislature over the budget, almost single-handedly leaving the state on track to a government shutdown.

    FL-Gov: David Hill, a top GOP pollster in Florida, is leery about the chances for AG Bill McCollum (who’s already lost statewide twice, and now is trying to transparently reboot himself as a Charlie Crist-style moderate) in the gubernatorial election. He says he’s been actively encouraging state Senator Paula Dockery to follow through on jumping into the primary.

    KS-Gov: Sen. Sam Brownback got some good news: SoS Ron Thornburgh decided to get out of the GOP primary, leaving Brownback a clear path. (Not that Thornburgh was going to pose much of a threat, which is why he got out.) And finally a Democratic state Senator, Chris Steineger, seems to be getting into the race for Team Blue — although he sounds like a bit of a loose cannon, having pissed off most of the state party establishment at various points.

    MI-Gov: George Perles, the 75-year-old former football coach at Michigan State and currently an MSU trustee (which is a statewide elected position) announced that he’s running for the Democratic nomination. He joins Lt. Gov. John Cherry in the field, who seems to have most of the establishment backing so far.

    MN-Gov: Contrary to earlier reports, Rep. Michele Bachmann hasn’t quite ruled out a bid for Governor in 2010, what with Tim Pawlenty stepping down. She expresses her ambivalence with some nice Harlequin romance novel phrasing: “If my heart moved in the other direction and I had the tug, I’d do it. I wouldn’t be afraid to run for office. I just don’t feel the tug.”

    NV-Gov: Another GOPer is sniffing out the governor’s race (kind of a no-brainer, given the world of shit Jim Gibbons is in): Reno mayor Bob Cashell, who was last seen endorsing Harry Reid a few weeks ago. Of course, there’s the risk that if too many credible GOP challengers get in, Gibbons has a better shot at surviving the primary via a badly split vote… although facing a wounded Gibbons in the general would probably be the best scenario for the Dems.