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Daily Kos Elections Memorial Day open thread (May 25, 2015, 09:00 AM)


Bear McCreary -- "Wander My Friends"


The perils of trying to define 'an accurate pollster' (May 24, 2015, 12:59 PM)

Democratic Kansas gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis
If the majority of polls in 2014 were accurate, this guy would be Governor of Kansas.

Next week, you can expect to see a piece offering a review of the performances of the polling community from the 2014 cycle. It is the third time I have taken on this particular task?you can see the efforts from 2012 and 2010 by clicking on the appropriate links.

You might note that I changed the formula for the rankings between 2010 and 2012. That's because in 2010, the focus of the study was a bit more specific (the notion of whether there was a left-leaning or right-leaning "bias" among the more prolific pollsters). In 2012, we went for a little more comprehensive rating.

The plan, for 2014, was to try to generate some continuity by employing the same formula.

That is still the plan. But ... whoo boy. Not to give away the ending, but the formula employed in 2012 gave us some folks at the front of the pack who were not only generally acknowledged to be cruddy, but it was nearly a reversal of the 2012 ratings. What's more: a quick look at the criteria from 2012 points to a problem?there is something in each of those parameters that can be critiqued.

When all is said and done, the more I dive into the matter, the quicker I come to a single conclusion: there is no "one best way" to measure accuracy in polling. Follow me across the fold as I explain why.


Daily Kos Elections open thread 5/22 (May 22, 2015, 09:00 AM)


Mystery Science Theater 3000-- "Noh Theater"
Daily Kos Elections is taking this Friday off, as well as this Monday in observance of Memorial Day. We'll be back Tuesday: In the meantime, have a good weekend!


Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Lisa Murkowski may be in for a tough GOP primary. Again. (May 22, 2015, 08:00 AM)

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) (L), with her husband Verne Martell (C), takes part in a ceremonial re-enactment of her swearing-in by Vice President Joe Biden (R) in the Old Senate Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, January 5, 2011. REUTERS/Jo
Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski
Leading Off:

? AK-Sen, AL: Last week, Roll Call reported that state Sen. Mike Dunleavy may be interested in challenging Sen. Lisa Murkowski or Rep. Don Young in the GOP primary. On Tuesday, Dunleavy spoke to the Alaska Dispatch News about his plans: He didn't mention Young at all, but acknowledged that he is looking at facing Murkowski.

Dunleavy conceded that Murkowski has "always treated me decently, and I think vice versa," but he criticized her record in the Senate on national security. Dunleavy also previewed a possible attack line when he accused the federal government of working to "basically strangle the development of the state of Alaska and make us a dependent."

Dunleavy said that he'd start thinking more seriously about a campaign when the legislative session ends, but that may take a little while: Gov. Bill Walker is likely to call another 30-day special session once the current one ends this week. If Dunleavy runs, he could definitely draw some blood from Murkowski. The incumbent has a reputation as a moderate Republican, and she actually lost her 2010 primary to little-known businessman Joe Miller in a complete shocker (Murkowski won the general election with a write-in campaign).

Murkowski is laying the groundwork early to prepare for another challenge, and her new position as chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee gives even skeptical Republicans a good reason to keep her in office. But if well-funded conservative groups decide to take aim at her, we could have a real race. Dunleavy also hails from the Mat-Su Valley, which is full of conservative primary voters. Dunleavy's chances will be a lot better if no other well-known Republicans get in, and he may be in luck. Roll Call previously reported that if Dunleavy opposes Murkowski, Miller is likely to take on Young.

Democrats know that they wouldn't have much of a shot at beating Murkowski but if it looks like she could lose her primary, it's possible that we'll see ex-Sen. Mark Begich try for a comeback. Even if Begich says no, Team Blue will probably try and recruit a respectable candidate if Murkowski looks like she's in trouble, though their bench is thin in the Last Frontier.


Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 5/21 (May 21, 2015, 09:00 AM)

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Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Jay Inslee starts with clear leads in Washington (May 21, 2015, 08:00 AM)

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee
Washington Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee
Leading Off:

? WA-Gov, Sen: Washington's Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee only won a narrow victory when he was first elected in 2012. However, Public Policy Polling suggests he'll have an easier time when he runs for re-election, even if it's a rematch against ex-Attorney General Rob McKenna. Inslee sports a 41-42 job approval, consistent with an uneventful first few years and an improving economy; his strength in head-to-head matchups seems more about the fact that the Republicans don't have any top-tier options who seem interested in challenging him.

? 46-34 vs. Port of Seattle Commissioner Bill Bryant

? 45-31 vs. state Sen. Andy Hill

? 43-38 vs. ex-Attorney General/2012 opponent Rob McKenna

? 45-34 vs. Rep. Dave Reichert

The only potential opponent who comes within single digits is McKenna, who seemed like he was interested in a rematch right after the 2012 election but lately has seemed unenthusiastic in re-emerging from the private sector. The only candidate who has actually declared, Bryant, trails by 11, and that's not purely an artifact of Bryant being almost completely unknown. You can see that Inslee polls at 43 against McKenna but at 46 against Bryant, so McKenna's presence seems to change a few minds.

What's perhaps most surprising is that Dave Reichert, long considered the best option on the GOP's bench for a statewide run (an option he never exercises, preferring to keep his House seat, which got much safer after redistricting), performs closer in line with the nobodies than with McKenna. You can also see that in PPP's poll of Washington's 2016 Senate race, where he's also down by double digits against Patty Murray, who'll be seeking her fifth term. Perhaps some of the novelty of his "tough-guy-who's-also-moderate" shtick has worn off, as he's gotten more entrenched as a part of the national GOP's House.

? 47-37 vs. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler

? 46-41 vs. McKenna

? 48-37 vs. Reichert

? 48-35 vs. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers

While McKenna also comes within single-digits of Murray, Reichert performs about as well as Herrera Beutler. Bear in mind, though, that none of these named opponents have expressed any interest in running. McMorris Rodgers isn't going to give up her House GOP leadership slot for a suicide mission, and party elders would probably discourage Herrera Beutler from running anyway, since an open WA-03 would be at serious risk of flipping in a presidential year. Basically, any Republican with any juice would focus on the potentially-winnable gubernatorial race instead, meaning the person with the thankless task of opposing Murray will probably be either a random rich guy or a state legislator looking to build up some name rec.

Part of the unremarkable-ness of Inslee's tenure is that he and the legislature haven't really done much other than just keep the lights on (nothing big is going to happen as long as Republicans control the state Senate). Instead, the momentous changes have happened through the initiative process -- which is usually the case in the West Coast states anyway, even when one party holds the trifecta. PPP also polled the recently passed initiatives legalizing recreational marijuana, recognizing same-sex marriage, and expanding background checks on gun purchases.

They found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that voters now approve of those choices by wider margins now than the original vote. For instance, while same-sex marriage was approved by an 8-point margin, respondents now approve of it by a 56-36 margin, and 53 percent say it's had no impact on them at all. Interestingly, gun purchase background checks are even more popular than either same-sex marriage or marijuana. Respondents now approve of background checks by a 68-24 margin, and in a sample where 41 percent of respondents own guns, only 18 percent say the measure has had a negative impact on them.


Washington voters like Jay Inslee; like same-sex marriage, marijuana, and background checks more (May 20, 2015, 01:26 PM)

Washington Governor Jay Inslee talks to reporters about ongoing recovery operations for the Oso mudslide, at the Arlington Municipal Airport in Arlington, Washington April 3, 2014. The death toll in the Washington state mudslide that wiped out a rural com
Gov. Jay Inslee (D)
Washington's Democratic Governor Jay Inslee won only a narrow victory when first elected in 2012, but Public Policy Polling suggests he'll have an easier time of it when he runs for re-election, even if it's a rematch against ex-Attorney General Rob McKenna. Inslee sports a 41-42 job approval, consistent with an uneventful first few years and an improving economy; his strength in head-to-head matchups seems more about the fact that the Republicans don't have any top-tier options who seem interested in challenging him.
? 46-34 vs. Port of Seattle Commissioner Bill Bryant

? 45-31 vs. state Sen. Andy Hill

? 43-38 vs. ex-Attorney General/2012 opponent Rob McKenna

? 45-34 vs. Rep. Dave Reichert

The only potential opponent who comes within single digits is McKenna, who seemed like he was interested in a rematch right after the 2012 election but lately has seemed uninterested in re-emerging from the private sector. The only candidate who has actually declared, Bryant, trails by 11, and that's not purely an artifact of Bryant being largely unknown, despite his recent notoriety over his support for allowing Shell drilling equipment to be based in Seattle's port (with only 5-12 favorables): you can see that Inslee polls at 43 vs. McKenna, while at 46 vs. Bryant, so McKenna's presence seems to change a few minds.

What's perhaps most surprising is that Dave Reichert, long considered the best option on the GOP's bench for a statewide run (an option he never exercises, preferring to keep his House seat, which got much safer after redistricting), performs closer in line with the nobodies than with McKenna. You can also see that in PPP's poll of Washington's 2016 Senate race, where he's also down by double digits against Patty Murray, who'll be seeking her fifth term. Perhaps some of the novelty of his "tough-guy-who's-also-moderate" shtick has worn off, as he's gotten more entrenched as a part of the national GOP's House.

? 47-37 vs. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler

? 46-41 vs. McKenna

? 48-37 vs. Reichert

? 48-35 vs. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers

While McKenna also comes within single-digits of Murray, Reichert performs about as well as Herrera Beutler. Bear in mind, though, that none of these named opponents has expressed any interest in running; McMorris Rodgers isn't going to give up her House GOP leadership slot for a suicide mission, and party elders would probably discourage Herrera Beutler from running anyway, since an open WA-03 would be at serious risk of flipping in a presidential year. Basically, any Republican with any juice would focus on the potentially-winnable gubernatorial race instead, meaning the person with the thankless task of opposing Murray will probably be either a random rich guy or a state legislator looking to build up some name rec.

Part of the unremarkable-ness of Inslee's tenure is that he and the legislature haven't really done much other than just keep the lights on (nothing big is going to happen as long as Republicans control the state Senate). Instead, the momentous changes have happened through the initiative process -- which is usually the case in the west coast states anyway, even when one party holds the trifecta. PPP also polled the recently passed initiatives legalizing recreational marijuana and expanding background checks on gun purchases, and same-sex marriage, which was passed by the legislature and survived a 'people's veto' referendum.

They found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that voters now approve of those choices by wider margins now than the original vote. For instance, while same-sex marriage was approved by an 8-point margin, respondents now approve of it by a 56-36 margin, and 53 percent say it's had no impact on them at all. Interestingly, gun purchase background checks are even more popular than either same-sex marriage or marijuana: respondents now approve of background checks by a 68-24 margin, and in a sample where 41 percent of respondents own guns, only 18 percent say the measure has had a negative impact on them.


Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 5/20 (May 20, 2015, 09:00 AM)

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? KY-Gov: We were expecting a tight GOP primary, but not this tight! With all precincts reporting, tea partying businessman Matt Bevin leads state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer by just 83 votes, a 0.04 percent margin. Former Louisville Councilor Hal Heiner took third with 27.1 percent of the vote, while former state Supreme Court Justice Will Scott brought up the rear with just 7.2 percent. Comer says he'll ask to have the results recanvassed, which won't take place until May 28. The Lexington Herald-Leader's Sam Youngman describes the process:
In a recanvass, printed vote totals are checked against figures sent to the state Board of Elections. No individual votes are actually recounted.
It's rare for election outcomes to change after the fact, but you never know what will happen in a race this close. However, Comer says that if he's still behind when all is said and done, he'll back Bevin.

Tuesday's vote brings an end to an incredibly nasty primary. A few weeks ago, Comer's college girlfriend came forward and accused him of abusing her two decades ago and taking her to get an abortion, and her former roommates confirmed parts of her story. Comer denied everything and in turn accused Heiner of paying her to lie. Comer also claimed that a blogger connected to Heiner threatened his running mate's children, a charge local prosecutors are investigating. Bevin managed to stay out of the slugfest, though Heiner ran a last-minute spot that sought to drag him into the muck with Comer.

Bevin's apparent victory comes just one year after his primary challenge against now-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell went down in flames. When Bevin entered the gubernatorial race at the last minute, he appeared to have a better shot of winning than he did in his prior attempt, but he was still the underdog. However, Bevin had the personal resources to join Heiner and Comer on television, and while McConnell was able to portray Bevin as a big-spending hypocrite, Bevin benefited from having the spotlight trained on his two major rivals. Heiner's allies ran ads against Bevin that rehashed some of McConnell's old attacks, but they weren't quite enough this time. However, if he proceeds to the general election, he can expect Team Blue to zero in on his many flaws.

The eventual Republican nominee will face Attorney General Jack Conway, who easily won the Democratic primary. While Kentucky is a conservative state, voters there have been much more willing to elect Democrats at the state level even as they've spurned them federally. A recent SurveyUSA poll gave Conway a hefty 48-37 lead against Bevin, though things may get closer once the wounds from this primary start to heal. At the very least, Conway won't mind if his would-be Republican foes spend a little extra time fighting with one another. (Jeff Singer)

? Jacksonville Mayor: Voters went to the polls in the mayoral runoff in Florida's largest city, and Republican businessman Lenny Curry narrowly unseated Democratic incumbent Alvin Brown by a 51-49 margin. Brown was always in for a tough campaign in this conservative city, and the state GOP made winning city hall back a major priority. Brown did his best to appeal to crossover voters even though he was always at risk of jeopardizing his popularity with his party's base; in the end, he simply came up short. (Jeff Singer)

? Philadelphia Mayor: Former City Councilor Jim Kenney won a decisive victory in Tuesday's Democratic primary, defeating state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams 56-26. Williams' pro-charter school allies heavily outspent Kenney's labor backers, but Kenney was able to win over key endorsements from notable African-American politicians, even though Kenney is white and Williams is black.

Kenney also benefited from ex-District Attorney Lynne Abraham's steep drop in support. While Abraham started the contest with high name recognition, she didn't have much money or any high-spending super PACs on her side, and in the end, she only took 8 percent of the vote.

A late gaffe by Williams also appears to have contributed to his defeat. Williams called for the dismissal of Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, arguing that he was the architect of Philadelphia's stop-and-frisk policies. However, Ramsey was incredibly popular across racial lines, and Williams had no time to recover from this misstep. Philadelphia hasn't elected a non-Democratic mayor since the 1940s, and Kenney will be the heavy favorite in November. (Jeff Singer)

8:08 AM PT (Jeff Singer): Special Elections: Via Johnny Longtorso:

New Hampshire House, Rockingam-32: This was a Republican hold; Yvonne Dean-Bailey defeated Democrat Maureen Mann by a 52-48 margin.

Pennsylvania SD-05: Democrats easily held this seat, no doubt due in part to the mayoral primary occurring at the same time. Democrat John Sabatina Jr. defeated Republican Tim Dailey by a 76-24 margin.

The New Hampshire contest would have attracted little attention if it was held in almost any other state, but GOP presidential candidates couldn't resist the chance to wave the red flag for party activists. Rick Perry and Carly Fiorina stumped for Dean-Bailey, a 19-year old attending college in Massachusetts. Americans for Prosperity also got involved in get-out-the-vote efforts. Romney won this seat 54-45 so Dean-Bailey's win wasn't a huge surprise in the end.

8:25 AM PT (Jeff Singer): CA State Senate: Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer pulled off a 55-45 win over Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla in the special election to succeed Rep. Mark DeSaulnier. While both candidates are Democrats, this contest attracted $7 million worth of spending. While Glazer has served a close advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown, he has a terrible relationship with labor groups.

One major issue in the contest was whether Bay Area Rapid Transportation (BART) union workers should be allowed to strike. Glazer came down strongly against it, and he struck a chord with voters in this East Bay seat. A recent SurveyUSA poll, which gave Glazer a 45-35 lead just days before the vote, found that respondents said that BART workers should not be allowed to strike by a 60-30 margin. Two 2013 BART walkouts caused problems for local commuters, and the issue helped Republican Catherine Baker win a local Obama 58-40 Assembly seat last year. Glazer's reputation as am moderate also helped him make inroads with the seat's Republican minority, which appears to have overwhelmingly backed him against Bonilla.

8:39 AM PT (Jeff Singer): Charlotte Mayor: Republican ex-Councilor Edwin Peacock lost the 2013 race to Democrat Patrick Cannon by a respectable 53-47 margin, and he announced on Tuesday that he's trying again. Peacock should be favored against 2011 nominee Scott Stone in the GOP primary, and he may have a good chance to prevail here in November. Charlotte is a Democratic-leaning city, but Peacock's last race proved that city hall isn't out of reach for Republicans.

Peacock may not learn the identity of his opponent for a while though. Interim Mayor Dan Clodfelter, who replaced Cannon after his arrest and resignation last year, will face Councilors Michael Barnes and David Howard and former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jennifer Roberts in the Sept. 15 Democratic primary, and an Oct. 6 runoff will be held if no one takes more than 40 percent of the vote.

8:49 AM PT (Jeff Singer): Colorado Springs Mayor: Voters in Colorado's second-largest city went to the polls in Tuesday's runoff and to no one's surprise, former state Attorney General John Suthers defeated ex-Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace by a 68-32 margin. Suthers outpaced the moderate Makepeace by a 46-24 margin in the primary and with two conservative candidates taking most of the remaining vote, she didn't have much room to expand. Over the years, the GOP has attempted to convince Suthers to run for Senate or for governor but he's always declined, and it seems he's now found his dream job.

9:02 AM PT (Jeff Singer): Toledo Mayor: The special election to fill the final two years of the late Mayor Michael Collins' term is getting interesting. On Wednesday, his widow Sandy Drabik Collins announced that she would run as an independent, pledging to carry out his agenda.

Interim Democratic Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson is already running and she appears to have consolidated her party's support, but she could face another well-known Democrat. Former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner said this week that he's seriously thinking about another campaign, and he'll make a decision by the late summer. Finkbeiner voluntarily left office in 2009 and love him or hate him, he's not a boring guy. There will be no primary for this special election, and all the candidates will run together on one non-partisan ballot in November: The filing deadline is Sept. 4.


Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Matt Bevin ekes out an 83-vote win, but recanvass looms (May 20, 2015, 08:00 AM)

U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin (R-KY) speaks to a gathering at FreePAC Kentucky in Louisville, Kentucky, April 5, 2014.  Picture taken April 5, 2014. The conservative Tea Party movement is supporting Bevin, but they face a tough campaigner in Republican
Matt Bevin holds an 83-vote lead with all precincts reporting
Leading Off:

? KY-Gov: We were expecting a tight GOP primary, but not this tight! With all precincts reporting, tea partying businessman Matt Bevin leads state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer by just 83 votes, a 0.04 percent margin. Former Louisville Councilor Hal Heiner was about 6 points behind with 27.1 percent of the vote, while former state Supreme Court Justice Will Scott brought up the rear with just 7.2 percent. Comer says he'll ask to have the results recanvassed, which won't take place until May 28. The Lexington Herald-Leader's Sam Youngman describes the process:

In a recanvass, printed vote totals are checked against figures sent to the state Board of Elections. No individual votes are actually recounted.
It's rare for election outcomes to change after the fact, but you never know what will happen in a race this close. However, Comer says that if he's still behind when all is said and done, he'll back Bevin.

Tuesday's vote brings an end to an incredibly nasty primary. A few weeks ago, Comer's college girlfriend came forward and accused him of abusing her two decades ago and taking her to get an abortion, and her former roommates confirmed parts of her story. Comer denied everything and in turn accused Heiner of paying her to lie. Comer also claimed that a blogger connected to Heiner threatened his running mate's children, a charge local prosecutors are investigating. Bevin managed to stay out of the slugfest, though Heiner ran a last-minute spot that sought to drag him into the muck with Comer.

Bevin's apparent victory comes just one year after his primary challenge against now-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell went down in flames. When Bevin entered the gubernatorial race at the last minute, he appeared to have a better shot of winning than he did in his prior attempt, but he was still the underdog. However, Bevin had the personal resources to join Heiner and Comer on television, and while McConnell was able to portray Bevin as a big-spending hypocrite, Bevin benefited from having the spotlight trained on his two major rivals. Heiner's allies ran ads against Bevin that rehashed some of McConnell's old attacks, but they weren't quite enough this time. However, if he proceeds to the general election, he can expect Team Blue to zero in on his many flaws.

The eventual Republican nominee will face Attorney General Jack Conway, who easily won the Democratic primary. While Kentucky is a conservative state, voters there have been much more willing to elect Democrats at the state level even as they've spurned them federally. A recent SurveyUSA poll gave Conway a hefty 48-37 lead against Bevin, though things may get closer once the wounds from this primary start to heal. At the very least, Conway won't mind if his would-be Republican foes spend a little extra time fighting with one another.


Daily Kos Elections Kentucky, Philly, and Jacksonville liveblog #5 (May 19, 2015, 09:34 PM)

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Tonight, voters go to to the polls in party primaries Kentucky and Philadelphia, and for a mayoral runoff in Jacksonville, Florida. Our guide to the key races can be found here. Polls start to close in the Eastern time zone portion of Kentucky at 6 PM ET, and we'll be bringing you tonight's results as they come in.

Results & Poll Closing Times (all times Eastern):

Kentucky (6 PM & 7 PM) | Jacksonville (7 PM) | Philadelphia (8 PM)

Tue May 19, 2015 at 6:36 PM PT: KY-Gov: With 99.7 percent reporting, Bevin leads Comer by 83 votes. We're looking at what's left now.

Tue May 19, 2015 at 6:38 PM PT: KY-Gov: According to the AP, the final 12 precincts come from Jefferson County. Heiner dominated there but Bevin beat Comer 31-13 for second. If Bevin has a narrow edge, those 12 precincts should seal it.

Tue May 19, 2015 at 6:47 PM PT: KY-Gov: We've verified the AP's totals with the SoS site. Aside from the SoS not including Ballard County, the totals match up. Those 12 Jefferson precincts should decide who ends the night with a lead, but there's no way this doesn't go to a recount. Under state law, any candidate can ask for one if he pays, and you can bet either Comer or Bevin will pay.

Tue May 19, 2015 at 6:52 PM PT: KY-Gov:

No automatic recanvass trigger in Kentucky. Candidate can make a written request to SOS's office. Recanvass would be 9 am 5/28
? @samyoungman

Tue May 19, 2015 at 6:55 PM PT: KY-Gov: The AP says all precincts are in, and Bevin ends the night with a 83-vote lead over Comer. Hello recount!

Tue May 19, 2015 at 7:02 PM PT: It's clear we're not going to know the winner tonight. We're all-but-certain to see a recount in the upcoming weeks, and Democratic nominee Jack Conway won't be complaining if this drags out. Check back to Daily Kos Elections as this unfolds. Have a good night and thanks for reading!

Tue May 19, 2015 at 7:04 PM PT: And sure enough, Comer asking for a recanvass.


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