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Swing State Project

Scott Brown runs on border security, after having missed every Senate hearing about it (October 1, 2014, 11:43 AM)

Goal ThermometerThat's one of several attack ads Scott Brown is running against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire focused on "border security." Brown is now completely against "amnesty" and is all about security our borders against the brown hordes. Which is apparently a brand-new interest of his. Because when he was in the Senate, and in the committee that has jurisdiction, he couldn't have cared less.
[A]s a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, he missed all six hearings on border security that he was eligible to attend, records suggest.

Brown was absent from five hearings in 2011 and one in 2010, according to a review of public records and congressional transcripts and video. Of the six, four were full committee hearings and two were meetings of the subcommittee on Disaster Recovery and Intergovernmental Affairs, to which he belonged.

A review of all Homeland Security Committee hearings during the time Brown was senator shows those were the six he could have attended, based on his subcommittee membership.

Lots of senators miss hearings, because there are a lot of hearings and meetings with various rich people (in Brown's case, perhaps he was meeting with kings and queens and prime ministers). But Brown missed every hearing on exactly this one issue that he is making a centerpiece of his campaign. The hearings were "mainly centered around assessing and building progress on border security at the local and federal levels. Brown also apparently missed an April 2010 meeting titled "Border Security: Moving beyond the virtual fence."

So when Brown had the opportunity to actually learn about border security and to maybe do something about it as a senator, he couldn't be bothered. But now it's the thing that matters most. Just like how it used to be all about how he was just a Massachusetts guy with a pickup truck looking out for Massachusetts' blue collar families, while he was voting for Wall Street every time. So why should New Hampshire voters believe he's actually going to be looking out for them?

Help elect more and better Democrats this November! Please give $3 to Daily Kos' endorsed candidates and strike a blow against Republicans.

Shelter director calls out Tom Cotton on Violence Against Women Act vote (October 1, 2014, 10:57 AM)

Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor has a powerful new ad highlighting his Republican opponent's vote against the Violence Against Women Act. The ad hits Rep. Tom Cotton hard?deservedly so?but the tone, coming from domestic violence shelter director Paulette Hill, is much more in sorrow than in anger:
I'm the director of a 24-hour emergency domestic violence shelter. We've got to do something to break this cycle of violence, and Tom Cotton is not doing anything to help.

Congressman Cotton voted against protecting women and children from domestic violence. He was the only Republican or Democrat from the state of Arkansas to vote this way. He voted to cut the funding to shelters.

There's a big difference between Mark Pryor and Tom Cotton. One wants to protect women and children. The other doesn't.

Cotton has already been running ads lying about the farm bill to explain his unpopular vote against that. It will be interesting to see if he comes up with a new set of lies to explain his vote against the Violence Against Women Act.

Help fight back against the Republican war on women by supporting Daily Kos' list of strong Democratic women.

No, Thom Tillis isn't popular, and the polling data prove it (October 1, 2014, 10:12 AM)

North Carolina state House Speaker Thom Tillis
Thom Tillis (R)
We all know that you should never cherry-pick a single piece of polling data to make an argument, and here's an object lesson as to why. In a new piece, the New York Times' Nate Cohn claims that a new CNN/ORC survey showing North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis with a 47-40 favorability rating ought to undermine the narrative that Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan remains persistently ahead thanks to Tillis' own flaws. "[I]n the absence of more evidence to the contrary," says Cohn, we "should at least be open to the possibility that Mr. Tillis is more popular than was thought."

Here's the problem: There's a ton of evidence to the contrary. In fact, pollsters have asked voters for their views on Tillis over 20 times in 2014 alone. Here's what his net favorability rating looks like in all of those polls:

Chart of Thom Tillis' favorability ratings (2014)
In September alone, five other pollsters found Tillis underwater. In fact, all year, only one outfit other than CNN?the ever-dodgy Rasmussen?has ever shown Tillis with higher positives than negatives. But even Rasmussen has now joined the herd, as you can see in that light purple trendline.

Is it possible that Tillis has gotten somewhat more popular of late? He may well have, particularly if you look at the yellow line, which shows how PPP's numbers have shifted. (A disastrous legislative session Tillis presided over as speaker of the state House finally concluded last month, stemming the tide of ugly headlines.)

But is he actually popular? No. As Cohn himself said, "If there were more surveys showing Mr. Tillis as unpopular as the conventional view, then perhaps we could discount the CNN/ORC poll as an outlier." Indeed there are many such surveys, and the chart above makes CNN's distance from the pack glaringly obvious. In fact, one of the polls showing Tillis with negative favorables was his own internal poll! So evidently, even Thom Tillis doesn't agree with Nate Cohn.

Cohn began his piece with an intelligent observation. He said it's "not usually wise to focus too much on individual polls." That's something we would all do well to remember as election season heats up.

Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 10/1 (October 1, 2014, 09:00 AM)

Daily Kos Elections Live Digest banner
Want the scoop on hot races around the country? Get the digest emailed to you each weekday morning. Sign up here.

7:37 AM PT: NC-Sen: No, Thom Tillis isn't popular, and the polling data prove it.

8:05 AM PT: TX-Gov: A new poll from Texas Lyceum finds Republican Greg Abbott with a 49-40 lead on Democrat Wendy Davis, with Election Day now less than five weeks away. That's not terribly different from a Davis internal released early last month that had Abbott up 46-38, but it's also not very optimistic for Democrats, given how little Abbott needs to do to ensure he crests 50. Indeed, the HuffPo Pollster average (which doesn't yet include this latest survey) already has him at 51-38.

8:31 AM PT: VA-10: Our first hard data out of Virginia's hotly contested 10th Congressional District comes with dueling internals. The pro-Democratic House Majority PAC fired first, with numbers from Victoria Research that have Republican Barbara Comstock up 41-39 on Democrat John Foust, while minor candidates gobble up 4-5 percent. The Congressional Leadership Fund (an outfit run by Saudi lobbyist Norm Coleman) shot back with a survey from the Tarrance Group finding Comstock ahead 46-34, with various third parties taking 7 percent.

Tarrance points out that Comstock is far better-known than Foust, with 87 percent of respondents able to identify her compared to just 59 percent for Foust. I don't understand why pollsters tout this sort of thing because it's not good news for the more recognized candidate. Virginia's 10th, swallowed up entirely by the Washington, DC media market, is an expensive place to advertise, but Foust still has proverbial room to grow.

Indeed, Republican groups have already spent almost $1 million on the race while Democrats have put in just $140,000. Given how few pickup opportunities Democrats have nationwide, it would be surprising if spending didn't even out here. Even if CLF's poll is right, this is a very swingy district (Mitt Romney carried it by a single point), so Comstock doesn't have much if any advantage when it comes to scooping up enough undecided voters to secure victory. Daily Kos Elections currently rates this race Lean Republican, but it may well be headed to tossup status if Democrats play hardball here.

8:48 AM PT: ME-02: Well, Sen. Angus King (I-ME) has finally managed to do something non-douchey. After endorsing Republican Sen. Susan Collins and independent Eliot Cutler, the spoiler candidate for governor, he's actually backing a Democrat in his home state of Maine: Emily Cain, who's running for the open 2nd Congressional District against Republican Bruce Poliquin.

8:51 AM PT (Jeff Singer): AR-AG: The open seat race for attorney general of Arkansas has attracted a good deal of attention from both parties. Democrats have held this post since Reconstruction and it's been a good launching pad for higher office: Notable alumni include Bill Clinton, Gov. Mike Beebe, and Sen. Mark Pryor. Team Blue has had a rough few cycles in the Razorback State but if state Rep. Nate Steel can take the office, he can give the Democratic bench some fresh blood. The GOP has nominated Leslie Rutledge, who served as an aide to former Gov. Mike Huckabee. It's looked like we're in for a competitive contest: A recent PPP poll gave Rutledge a 41-35 lead, while Suffolk had the two tied at 36 each.

On Tuesday, this race took a turn for the weird. Pulaski County Clerk Larry Crane, a Democrat, canceled Rutledge's voter registration after he learned she was registered in multiple states. One telling detail is that Rutledge registered to vote in Washington in July of 2008, but voted absentee in Arkansas that November.

If this decision stands it's not only embarrassing for Rutledge, it could make her ineligible to serve as attorney general. Article 19, section 3 of the Arkansas Constitution states, "No persons shall be elected to, or appointed to fill a vacancy in, any office who does not possess the qualifications of an elector." Rutledge's campaign is pushing back and arguing that Crane's actions were politically motivated: Rutledge says she registered in Pulaski County in May of 2013 and has been voting there ever since. There are a lot of questions left to be answered and it's very likely that this is going to court. But one way or another, this low-key but important contest has just gotten a whole lot more exciting.

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Are Republicans really worried about Oklahoma? They may well be (October 1, 2014, 08:00 AM)

Oklahoma Democratic gubernatorial nominee Joe Dorman
Oklahoma Democratic gubernatorial nominee Joe Dorman
Leading Off:

? OK-Gov: Polling out of Oklahoma this year has been spotty but nevertheless quite alluring. Over the summer, a trio of polls found GOP Gov. Mary Fallin under 50 percent?including one from a GOP pollster?despite the Sooner State's strong Republican bent. Was there a chance for an extraordinary Democratic upset?

A post-Labor Day survey from seemed to put the kibosh on that notion, with Fallin leading Democrat Joe Dorman by a healthier 50-32 spread, her largest lead to date. But now a new internal poll from Dorman's campaign, conducted by Clarity Campaign Labs, presents a totally different picture, with Fallin ahead just 47-45. The governor has an underwater 42-46 job approval rating while Dorman remains in positive territory at 39-25.

And that's in spite of RGA attack ads predictably tying Dorman to Obama (and even accusing him of voting to give tuition breaks to "illegals"?seriously). But the very fact these ads exist is another data point suggesting this race is more interesting than you'd otherwise expect. In fact, it turns out the RGA has now shelled out more than $200,000 hammering Dorman, money they'd probably prefer not to be spending in dark red Oklahoma.

Dorman's poll may be on the optimistic side, but let's see if Fallin responses with any contradictory numbers of her own. Whether she does or doesn't, though, there's enough here to merit putting this race up on the big board, so we're moving the contest from Safe Republican to Likely Republican. It's been a strange cycle. It might just get stranger still.

Daily Kos Elections ad roundup: In Kansas, the GOP plays the strip club card against Paul Davis (September 30, 2014, 04:27 PM)

Leading Off:

? KS-Gov: It was only a matter of time before Republicans hit Democrat Paul Davis over this embarrassing story from his past that recently came to light. About a week ago, the Coffeyville Journal reported that Davis was at a strip club in 1998 when police were raiding it. Davis was unmarried at the time and says his boss brought him there. With Republican Gov. Sam Brownback trailing in the polls, it's no surprise that the GOP would use this to try and disqualify Davis.

The RGA spot starts with a clip of Davis saying that "the best example of future behavior is past behavior," then cuts to clips of news reports about the strip club story. The narrator then accuses Davis of voting against a bill that would prevent sexually oriented businesses from opening near homes, churches, and day cares. This is a decent line of attack given how socially conservative Kansas is, though after watching this spot it doesn't feel like the GOP has enough material to really destroy Davis' chances.

The NRA also goes up for Brownback. For his part Davis himself has a new spot, blaming Brownback for the poor condition of Kansas' education system.

Head below the fold for more ads in contests from around the country.

Jim Mowrer within three points of toppling House anti-immigration leader Steve King (September 30, 2014, 03:40 PM)

Democratic candidate for IA-04, Jim Mowrer
Afghanistan and Iraq War vet Jim Mowrer
Could it be happening? Could Iowans be tiring of the antics of official House ranter-against-the-immigrants Steve King?
And if the election was held today for U.S. House, for whom would you vote, Jim Mowrer the Democrat or Steve King the Republican? (very likely/certain to vote; N=375, MoE +5.1%pts)

    Jim Mowrer ...................................................................................... 43%
    Steve King ........................................................................................ 46
    (VOL) Unsure ................................................................................... 11

Goal Thermometer

So Steve King has only a three point lead over Daily Kos endorsed Democratic challenger Jim Mowrer, within the margin of error?and this is a district Romney won by eight points in 2012. There's no way any non-crackpot Republican should be struggling this much.

[H]ere's something else to consider: Republican Joni Ernst is leading Democrat Bruce Braley 48-38 in the 4th. With statewide polls showing the Senate race a tossup, this result is pretty plausible, given Romney's performance. That in turn makes the House numbers more believable, too, particularly because the only other poll of the race, from Loras College, had King at a similar 47 percent. Mowrer was further back at 36, but the key point is that King is a few points under 50, despite holding down a district that should be a gimme for any normal Republican.
To add insult to that injury Mowrer, who has deep roots in the district himself, has even outraised King.

The catch is going to be getting those anti-King voters into the voting booths come election day, given the historically dismal performance of our voters compared to the sort of hard-righties that still think Steve King is doing a fine and upstanding job. But the poll above is of self-described "very likely" voters, so it's possible. It's especially possible if Steve King continues his pattern of being Steve King between now and November. (Mowrer has risen seven points from the previous district poll to this one, so it's clear his campaign is getting his own message out.)

Be still my heart, there is actually a chance that one of the meanest anti-immigrant, anti-everything-else voices in Congress could get shown the door. That would be worth, at minimum, a celebratory cake.

Click here to chip in $3 to help Jim Mowrer topple the anti-immigrant Steve King. Do it! Do it now!

Poll finds tight race for Iowa secretary of state (September 30, 2014, 01:31 PM)

Iowa secretary of state candidate Brad Anderson with children in front of a sign saying voting rights express.
Brad Anderson
The race for Iowa secretary of state remains wide open. According to a new Public Policy Polling poll, Republican Paul Pate has a narrow lead over Democrat Brad Anderson, 36 percent to 33 percent, with 25 percent of voters undecided. As a reminder of what's at stake:
Outgoing Republican Secretary of State Matt Schultz is famous for trying to scare immigrants into not voting, though GOP candidate Paul Pate likes to praise Schultz's "good stewardship." So, of course, Pate's been endorsed by GOP neanderthal Rep. Steve King, who thinks Democrats are just going to start stealing elections if they win the SOS race this fall.
The 25 percent of voters who remain undecided highlight why it's important to be sure that Anderson has the money he needs to mount a serious campaign. Voters often don't have much information about down-ballot races like secretary of state, making direct voter contact and GOTV crucial. That means even relatively small contributions can have an outsize impact.

Please give $3 to help Brad Anderson win this tight race for Iowa secretary of state.

PPP gives Republican Joni Ernst a two-point lead for U.S. Senate (September 30, 2014, 12:23 PM)

Democratic Senate nominee Bruce Braley with Sen. Tom Harkin
Democratic nominee Bruce Braley (right) with Sen. Tom Harkin
On Saturday night Democrats got some bad news when the respected Selzer poll gave Republican Joni Ernst a 44-38 lead over Democrat Bruce Braley. Democrats released a response poll showing a tie, all but confirming that what had once looked Braley's race to lose had turned into a tough fight. On Tuesday PPP released their own poll and while it was better for Democrats than Selzer, things still aren't looking good in the Hawkeye State. PPP gives Ernst a small 44-42 lead: The group's last independent poll from a month ago found Braley up by 1 point. A more recent late August PPP poll for Americans for Tax Fairness had Ernst up 45-43.

This is one race where third-party candidates aren't having much of an impact: When voters are asked to only choose between Ernst and Braley, the GOP keeps their 2-point lead. The undecideds report voting for Obama over Romney 10-6 and they could give Braley a small boost, but far from enough to let him break open a real lead. Neither candidate is popular at all. Ernst spots a 42-46 favorable rating, while Braley is at 37-44. However, while the favorability gap between the two isn't large, it's been moving in the wrong direction. Back in August PPP found Braley with a 37-41 rating while Ernst was at 36-46. If Ernst has been getting less unpopular while Braley has been absorbing more blows, that's bad news for Team Blue.

It's possible that the GOP's recent spending blitz has something to do with this and Democrats will be able to seize the imitative in the next few weeks: Democrats have more ads reserved for the final stretch of the race. The good news is that Ernst gives Democrats plenty of material to use against her, but Braley has his own flaws that the GOP is more than happy to keep exploiting. Either side can pull off a win here, but Braley and his allies can't afford to allow Ernst to keep recovering.

PPP also took a look at the gubernatorial contest and finds what basically everyone has found: Republican Gov. Terry Branstad is looking very good to win another term. A few months ago Branstad's numbers looked a bit weak, and Democrats had some hope that Jack Hatch could pull off a surprise. But PPP now finds Branstad up 50-36, and neither party has gotten involved here recently. Selzer recently found Branstad up by a similar 48-34. The governor has a strong 53-38 approval rating, while opinions of Hatch are very mixed. Branstad, who served from 1983 to 1999 before returning in 2011, is already the longest serving governor in American history, and it looks like Iowans are happy to keep him around for another four years.

Please chip in $3 to help great Iowa candidates win.

Kansas still has the worst secretary of state in the nation and he just had another really bad day (September 30, 2014, 11:39 AM)

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach head shot
Goal Thermometer

Within minutes of the Kansas Supreme Court's decision to leave Democrat Chad Taylor off the Kansas ballot for U.S. Senate (dealing a blow to Kris Kobach?worst secretary of state in the nation) a Kansas City-area Democrat named David Orel filed a challenge trying to force Democrats to name a new candidate. David Orel also happens to be the father of a Alexander Orel, regional director for ultra-conservative Sam Brownback's re-election campaign.

Kris Kobach once again tried to intervene by joining the lawsuit, but the district court ruled against him and refused to let him join the suit.

Kris Kobach's week was about to get worse. Yesterday, David Orel was set to have his day in court, but his case took a serious hit after he failed to appear before the Shawnee County District Court:

?With all due respect to Mr. Orel, he filed a lawsuit against my clients, drug them into court in the middle of a heated campaign season, then thumbs his nose at this court and refuses to show up," said Randy Rathbun, a former U.S. attorney from Wichita who represented the party.
Judge Franklin Theis was not amused:
"Without him here, it kind of turns this into political theater," Theis said.
Presiding Judge Larry Hendricks also had some serious questions about the military ballots that have already been sent (per federal law):
Democrats also argued that the petition should be dismissed because the secretary of state's office has already mailed out ballots to overseas military personnel, and some of those ballots have already been returned. An order to name another Democratic candidate, Rathbun said, would require invalidating votes that have already been cast and requiring those voters to cast new ballots.

Hendricks, the presiding judge on the panel, also raised the question of how officials would handle such a case if a soldier deployed in a combat zone were to die in action before he or she was able to cast a second ballot.

The judges indicated they would issue a decision no later than 1:00pm on Thursday so the ballot printing won't be delayed any further.

So, now we wait for yet another court to hand Kansas Republicans and the worst secretary of state in the nation another loss. In the meantime, can you contribute $5 to help elect Jean Schodorf and send Kris Kobach packing?

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