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Daily Kos Elections Poll Explorer: Senate odds little worse, but governors looking better (August 28, 2014, 09:30 AM)

Smoothed trendlines for Alaska Senate race
We're back with another look at the Daily Kos Elections Poll Explorer. If you missed our debut on Monday, Daily Kos Elections, in collaboration with Drew Linzer, has developed a model that looks at the odds on whether or not the Democrats can maintain control of the Senate, and also whether they can gain gubernatorial seats.

If you want to know precisely how it works, we have a full explanation, but the short version is that we calculate smoothed trendlines for each race, based on all polls this cycle, and then run Monte Carlo simulations to find how likely various outcomes are. That, unfortunately, means the model is only as accurate as the polls themselves, but the hope is that, by November, there will be enough polls accumulated that their sheer volume will overcome any individual polls' biases or errors.

The overall Senate picture hasn't changed much; in fact, it probably won't ever change much in one half-week interval, given how many moving parts are present in the model. It would take a pretty big game-changing poll to really move the needle in one race, and even if the needle did move a lot in one race (as we'll see shortly, in Alaska), there are still so many races factored into the overall equation that that jump would only have an impact of a few percentage points overall.

The big mover, again, is Alaska, where Mark Begich's odds of victory fell from 82 percent to 58 percent. Frankly, the 58 percent mark feels more right, intuitively; although most analysts would agree that Begich has a slight upper hand here, it's still a red state at the presidential level, one which he barely won in 2008, and he's facing a credible opponent.

What happened here is, in one word, Rasmussen. There's been very little polling of Alaska, compared to the other major Senate races, and the polls have been dominated lately by a good run of PPP polls for Begich and a too-good-to-be-true YouGov poll that put him up by 11. Rasmussen Reports, however, came out with a poll on Monday that put Dan Sullivan up, 47-45, the first public poll to give Sullivan a lead. Add that to the very small pile of polls in Alaska, and that all averages out to a much closer race than before.

No doubt some of you are objecting that that's just more evidence that we should be banning, or at least downweighting, Rasmussen, if they can just barge into a race and skew the whole thing. Well, that's not the way poll aggregating works, especially since Rasmussen can giveth just as much as they taketh away. Case in point is Rasmussen's Wednesday poll in Arkansas, which moved the needle there quite a bit, boosting Democrat Mark Pryor's odds from 37 percent to 49 percent. Rasmussen's poll, giving Pryor a 44-43 edge, is actually the first public poll to give Pryor a lead since May. (The battle in Arkansas has mostly been waged through leaked internal polls, and a number of recent Democratic internals also gave Pryor a lead. Bear in mind, though, that we do downweight polls released by campaigns or their supporters, on both sides of the aisle.)

Iowa is the other Senate race making a move. It's not a big move, from 51 percent to 45 percent odds for Bruce Braley, but it is an important psychological barrier, in that he now has less than a 50 percent shot. In fact, he now has slightly worse odds than either of the endangered red-state incumbents, Pryor and Mary Landrieu?though perhaps that's fitting, since, historically, open seats have proven much easier to flip than beating an incumbent. Interestingly, this small drop happens despite Braley not actually trailing in either of the two polls that came out this week (a PPP poll where he led 41-40, and a Suffolk poll that was tied 40-40), but they're both so close that throwing them on the pile diminished his small previous edge.

In terms of overall odds, this combination pushed the Dems' chances of controlling the 50 seats needed to hold the Senate from 47 percent to 45 percent, as Begich's move down seems to outweigh Pryor's move up. The median number of seats resulting from all those Monte Carlos is still 49, while the modal number of seats is still 50. In other words, Senate control is still a complete and utter coin flip; in the grand scheme of things, a slight flicker between 45 and 47 percent odds does very little to alter the fundamental coin flip-ness of the Senate situation.

The governor's race situation just got noticeably better, though, and we'll discuss that over the fold:


Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 8/28 (August 28, 2014, 09:00 AM)

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Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Mary Burke keeps her lead on Scott Walker, but it's tight (August 28, 2014, 08:00 AM)

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Leading Off:

? WI-Gov: The respected Marquette University Law School poll is out with a new survey, and they find things as close as ever. Among registered voters, Republican Gov. Scott Walker has a small 48-44 lead over Democratic foe Mary Burke. However, among likely voters, it's Burke who's up, by 49-47. In Marquette's July poll, Walker led 46-45 among registered voters, with Burke up 47-46 among likely voters. Other pollsters have shown a very close race, but Marquette is the only one to show any Burke lead.

Suffice to say, it's a bit surprising that a Democrat is doing better among likely voters than registered voters, especially when conventional wisdom says that the midterm will disproportionately favor the Republicans. That said, Scott Walker is a very uniquely polarizing figure who seems to attract about as much devotion from one side as utter hatred from the other. It's not unreasonable that Democrats are enthusiastic enough about the idea of ousting Walker that the usual turnout gap could have disappeared.

Indeed, Walker sits on a 48-48 approval rating. Walker's approvals have barely budged during his tenure: In each Marquette poll since early 2012, Walker has never had an approval rating higher than 51 percent or lower than 46. The ongoing allegations about Walker's ethics don't seem to have changed anything. Most voters appear to have decided whether they love or hate Walker long ago. In 2012 Democrats ran into trouble when they tried to recall Walker from voters who didn't like the governor, but felt that a recall was a step too far. However, many of those voters don't seem to have the same qualms against voting against the governor in a regular election.

Marquette has polled exclusively in its home state and had a solid track record in 2012:

? WI-Gov: Marquette: Walker (R) 52-45; Actual: Walker (R) 53-46; error: +0

? WI-Pres: Marquette: Obama (D) 51-43; Actual: Obama (D) 53-46; error: +1 D

? WI-Sen: Marquette: Baldwin (D) 47-43; Actual: Baldwin (D) 51-46; error: +1 R

While that's not a huge sample size, Marquette absolutely nailed three critical races, giving them a record any pollster would kill for. Additionally, Marquette is headed by Charles Franklin, one of the most respected names in polling.

At the beginning of the cycle it looked like Democrats were too dispirited by the failed recall to mount a serious challenge, but that has not been the case. This race is incredibly close, and it's expected to remain so. Walker has tons of money at his disposal and this race is likely to be decided by a small group of persuadable voters. Walker and his allies are going to do whatever it takes to hold this seat, and Democrats are going to need to keep working very hard here. (Jeff Singer)


Daily Kos Elections ad roundup: DSCC puts an awesome spin on Terri Lynn Land's awful ad (August 27, 2014, 05:28 PM)

Leading Off:

? MI-Sen: The DSCC hits Republican Terri Lynn Land, and it's a pretty great ad. The spot has a clip of Land's now-legendary "Really?" ad, with Land declaring at the end, "Because as a woman, I may know more about women than [Democratic rival] Gary Peters." The DSCC then features several women declaring no, Land's agenda actually hurts women. And of course, the clip keeps coming back.

If you haven't watched Land's original "Really" ad, you should absolutely check it out: It's one of those so-bad-it's-good ads, though it's not good in any way that actually helps Land. How bad is it? Republican pollster Frank Luntz went on Fox and called it "the worst ad of the political process," and concluded with, "that ad should be off the air." I'll bet the DSCC wishes they could just buy the rights to the Land ad and air it unedited, but their spot is pretty fun too.


Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 8/27 (August 27, 2014, 09:00 AM)

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Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: PPP pegs Iowa Senate race as a deadlock (August 27, 2014, 08:00 AM)

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Leading Off:

? IA-Sen, Gov: Several recent polls have shown a close race in the U.S. Senate contest in the Hawkeye State, and Public Policy Polling adds another one. The firms finds Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley leads Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst 42-41 in their contest to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, with third-party candidates taking a combined 5 percent. Back in May, before Ernst won the Republican nomination, Braley led 45-39. The undecideds lean Democratic, voting for Obama by 13 points and self-identifying as Democrats by an 11-point margin.

As PPP points out, neither candidate is particularly popular. Braley spots a 37-41 favorable rating, a bit better than Ernst's 36-46 score. While Braley has made some missteps on the campaign trail (most infamously referring to would-be Republican Senate colleague Chuck Grassley as a "farmer from Iowa"), his unfavorables have risen about as much as Ernst's have during this time. Both parties are advertising heavily here, and it looks like they've both been roughly equally successful at savaging their opponents.

As we've pointed out in the past, Democrats have largely shied away from going after Ernst's crazier views. And Ernst has plenty: She's called for impeaching Obama, wants to nullify federal laws she doesn't like, opposed the farm bill, attacked the Clean Water Act, decried the idea of a federal minimum wage, called for the privatization of young workers' Social Security accounts, and displayed a disturbing familiarity with fringe conspiracy theories about the United Nations.

Braley has begun attacking Ernst over the minimum wage and has recently started criticizing her for seeking an end to student loan programs even though she once benefitted from them herself. However, it still feels like Braley's been ignoring some of her most glaring flaws. Ernst should be a Democrat's dream opponent, but while her unpopularity is encouraging, it's nowhere near as low as it should be.

Maybe Braley and his allies are waiting until later to go after Ernst on the juicier stuff, but it's worth noting that Harry Reid was hitting his nutty foe Sharron Angle as early as June of 2010. There's plenty of time left, but we'll see if Democrats are willing to do what it takes to stop Ernst, or if they leave the best material they have on the table until it's too late.

PPP also took a look at the gubernatorial contest but there isn't much to see there. Back in May, Republican Gov. Terry Branstad led Democratic state Sen. Jack Hatch by only a 48-40 margin, but Hatch has gone backwards and now Branstad's up 48-35. Recent polls have shown the incumbent up by similar margins. Outside groups like the RGA have spent here a bit, but it looks like this one will get left by the wayside. Branstad sports a 50-38 favorable rating, and as long as he's that far above water, he'll be hard to stop. (Jeff Singer)


Daily Kos Elections Arizona, Florida, and Oklahoma primary liveblog #6 (August 27, 2014, 01:44 AM)

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Tonight voters in Arizona and Florida go to the polls in their party primary, and Oklahoma will hold a runoff in races where no candidate cleared 50 percent in June (Vermont is also up, but there are no notable federal or statewide races to watch). Our guide to the key races can be found here. Polls start to close in most of Florida at 7:00 PM ET and we'll be bringing you tonight's results as they come in. You can keep track of the winners just below.
Results & Poll Closing Times (all times Eastern):

Arizona (10 PM) | Florida (7 PM for Eastern timezone, 8 PM for Central timezone) | Oklahoma (8 PM) | Vermont (7 PM)

Tue Aug 26, 2014 at 10:46 PM PT: AZ-01: Reposting from the last thread, here is where we find ourselves:

Tue Aug 26, 2014 at 10:42 PM PT: AZ-01: Via once again AOSHQ, Tobin's lead is once again 93 votes. The SoS is mostly caught up with them, but small Yavapai is not online yet.

At this point 19 precincts are left in pro-Kiehne Apache County, 22 precincts out of almost evenly divided Navajo, 15 precincts in Pima (where the two frontrunners are also deadlocked), and 36 precincts out of Pinal, another very tight county. At this point we have one pro-Kiehne county and three tight counties left. This is still very up in the air.

Tue Aug 26, 2014 at 10:55 PM PT: AZ-01: For Kiehne to win, he can afford for things to look the same as they do now. He needs a boost in Apache, where there's a bit out and he's doing well. He'll also need to keep things close in Navajo, Pima, and Pinal. In Apache, Kiehne has a 744 vote lead; In the other three counties, Tobin is up by a combined 112 votes.

Tue Aug 26, 2014 at 11:00 PM PT: AZ-01: Right now the AP is caught up to where we are. The SoS is still a little behind.

Tue Aug 26, 2014 at 11:08 PM PT: AZ-01: About 16 Pinal precincts came in, leaving Tobin with a larger 110 total vote lead.

Still, Kiehne has a real shot here. Significant bits of Apache, Navajo, Pima, and Pinal are still out. In Apache Kiehne is netting 744 votes right now; In the other three Tobin nets 136 votes. If Tobin can expand his lead in those latter three counties he can do this, but Apache gives Kiehne potentially a lot of room to grow. Still, since we don't know how many votes are left in any of the remaining counties, we'll need to wait and see.

Tue Aug 26, 2014 at 11:31 PM PT: AZ-01: Not cool. Not cool at all.

Per our contact in Apache County, final dump will come in 90 minutes. IF it is as solid as previous, may push Kiehne ahead.
? @AOSHQDD

Tue Aug 26, 2014 at 11:32 PM PT (David Jarman): AZ-01: Put on an extra pot of coffee, because, per AOS, the final (and probably decisive) Apache County vote dump won't happen for another 90 minutes.

Tue Aug 26, 2014 at 11:42 PM PT: AZ-01: It's pretty clear that regardless of how the rest of the votes go, this isn't going to be resolved for a while.

With that, we're calling it a night. Check back at Daily Kos Elections Wednesday as we see where both Kiehne and Tobin stand. Thanks for reading and we'll see you back Sept. 9 for our final primary night of 2014!

Tue Aug 26, 2014 at 11:54 PM PT: AZ-01: Oh, what's one more update between friends? Most of Pima is in, and Tobin now leads by 143 votes. It's probably smaller than what he wanted here, but a lot depends on how many votes are left in Apache.

And now we're really calling it a night.


Daily Kos Elections Arizona, Florida, and Oklahoma primary liveblog #5 (August 27, 2014, 12:00 AM)

Daily Kos Elections Liveblog Banner
Tonight voters in Arizona and Florida go to the polls in their party primary, and Oklahoma will hold a runoff in races where no candidate cleared 50 percent in June (Vermont is also up, but there are no notable federal or statewide races to watch). Our guide to the key races can be found here. Polls start to close in most of Florida at 7:00 PM ET and we'll be bringing you tonight's results as they come in. You can keep track of the winners just below.
Results & Poll Closing Times (all times Eastern):

Arizona (10 PM) | Florida (7 PM for Eastern timezone, 8 PM for Central timezone) | Oklahoma (8 PM) | Vermont (7 PM)

Tue Aug 26, 2014 at  9:05 PM PT: AZ-SoS: Here's a blast from the past. In 2012's Republican primary for Senate, businessman Wil Cardon hoped he could harness tea party support against then-Rep. Jeff Flake. It didn't work then, and Cardon's not having much electoral luck this year. In the GOP primary for secretary of state, Cardon is in a distant third place with 22 percent; The leader is out front with 44.

Tue Aug 26, 2014 at  9:06 PM PT: AZ-01: Yikes: Tobin leads Kiehne by eight votes in the Secretary of State's count. Kwasman looks like he's just too far behind to pull ahead.  

Tue Aug 26, 2014 at  9:08 PM PT: AZ-01: Now the SoS has Tobin up a mighty 47 votes.


Daily Kos Elections Arizona, Florida, and Oklahoma primary liveblog #4 (August 26, 2014, 11:33 PM)

Daily Kos Elections Liveblog Banner
Tonight voters in Arizona and Florida go to the polls in their party primary, and Oklahoma will hold a runoff in races where no candidate cleared 50 percent in June (Vermont is also up, but there are no notable federal or statewide races to watch). Our guide to the key races can be found here. Polls start to close in most of Florida at 7:00 PM ET and we'll be bringing you tonight's results as they come in. You can keep track of the winners just below.
Results & Poll Closing Times (all times Eastern):

Arizona (10 PM) | Florida (7 PM for Eastern timezone, 8 PM for Central timezone) | Oklahoma (8 PM) | Vermont (7 PM)

8:37 PM PT: AZ-AG: The AP has results for other counties, and Horne is winning most places outside Maricopa. In his home county of Pima, where Tucson is, he's up 56-44. But via the Maricopa recorder, he's losing that massive county 60-40. Hard to him to recover from a loss that huge in what is by far the state's largest county.

8:40 PM PT: AZ-Gov: Correction: Horne is from the Phoenix area.

8:42 PM PT: AZ-01: Tobin now leads Kiehne by 447 votes. Kwasman is 1,161 votes behind Kiehne.

8:45 PM PT: AZ-Gov: The AP has called this for Ducey. He'll start out the favorite against Democrat Fred DuVal, but no shoo-in.

8:47 PM PT: AZ-AG: With the Maricopa results finally incorporated, Brnovich is smashing Horne 55-45 statewide. As long as Brnovich is running away with this in Maricopa, hard for Horne to make up ground elsewhere.

8:48 PM PT: AZ-07:

.@MaryRoseWilcox just called @RubenGallego to concede. @RubenGallego about to take the stage #az07
? @ralonzo

8:51 PM PT: AZ-01: Tobin now leads Kiehne by 479 votes. Hang on: This one could get turbulent.

8:53 PM PT: AZ-07:

Congratulations @RubenGallego on your victory. I wish you the best of luck. #AZ07
? @MaryRoseWilcox

8:56 PM PT: AZ-09: The AP has called this for veteran Wendy Rogers. Rogers currently leads Andrew Walter 59-41. Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema is favored to keep this light blue seat, but no sure thing.

8:59 PM PT: AZ-07: Ruben Gallego, who has won the Democratic primary in a dark blue seat, currently leads 48-37. Daily Kos endorsed him last month.

9:01 PM PT (David Nir): The liveblog continues here.


Daily Kos Elections: Arizona, Florida, and Oklahoma primary liveblog #3 (August 26, 2014, 09:12 PM)

Daily Kos Elections Liveblog Banner
Tonight voters in Arizona and Florida go to the polls in their party primary, and Oklahoma will hold a runoff in races where no candidate cleared 50 percent in June (Vermont is also up, but there are no notable federal or statewide races to watch). Our guide to the key races can be found here. Polls start to close in most of Florida at 7:00 PM ET and we'll be bringing you tonight's results as they come in. You can keep track of the winners just below.
Results & Poll Closing Times (all times Eastern):

Arizona (10 PM) | Florida (7 PM for Eastern timezone, 8 PM for Central timezone) | Oklahoma (8 PM) | Vermont (7 PM)

6:15 PM PT: OK-05: The AP has called this for former state Sen. Russell, who leads 59-41. Unlike with Saddam Hussein, he didn't need to go into a spider-hole to capture the Republican nomination. Russell will be the heavy favorite in November.

6:18 PM PT: Polls close in Arizona at 10 PM ET and we'll be back then. The Arizona portion of the night has a lot to watch and we'll be back here to cover it!

7:01 PM PT: Polls have closed in Arizona. We'll be bringing you the results as they come in.

7:10 PM PT: AZ-Gov: Well, one group isn't waiting for the primary results to come in before moving on to the general. On behalf of Arizona Progress, PPP finds Democrat Fred DuVal ties with Republican state Treasurer Doug Ducey 35-35. Polls indicate Ducey is the favorite to emerge from the GOP primary tonight, but given how unpredictable Republican primaries have been this year we won't know for sure until results start to roll in.

7:47 PM PT: Arizona vote delays are unfortunately nothing new. In the 2012 liveblog we got our first results at 8:15 PM PT, an hour and fifteen minutes after the polls closed. Doesn't mean it will take that long again, but worth keeping in mind.

8:07 PM PT: AZ-Gov: We have votes!!!!!! Via Maricopa County (the dominant county in the state), Treasurer Doug Ducey leads former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith 35-26. About 200,000 early votes are in.

8:10 PM PT: AZ-07: In the Democratic primary in this safely blue seat, state Rep. Ruben Gallego (whom Daily Kos endorsed) leads former Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox 48-37. 21,000 early votes are in.

8:12 PM PT: AZ-AG: Ouch. Scandal-tarred Republican Attorney General Tom Horne is losing renomination 61-39 to Mark Brnovich in Maricopa County.

8:13 PM PT: AZ-09: In the GOP primary for this light blue seat, veteran Wendy Rogers is beating former ASU football great Andrew Walter 58-42, with 30,000 votes in.

8:20 PM PT: AZ-01: Via the Secretary of State, we have a tight race in the GOP primary here. Speaker Andy Tobin, the establishment favorite, leads rancher Gary Kiehne 38-35. Local idiot and state Rep. Adam Kwasman is at 27.

8:30 PM PT: AZ-Gov: Getting some election day votes in for Maricopa, and Ducey still leads Scott 35-26 in the county. Maricopa is massive, and it's hard to win statewide if you're getting killed there.

8:32 PM PT: AZ-01: Things are even closer here than before. Tobin leads Kiehne 35-33, with Kwasman at 31. Looks like we have the most suspenseful race of the night.

8:33 PM PT (David Nir): The liveblog continues here.


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