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Swing State Project

Daily Kos Elections Idaho, Nebraska and Oregon primary preview (May 15, 2012, 12:52 PM)

Three states are holding primaries today: Idaho, Nebraska and Oregon. Here's a look at the key races in each of them, in order of poll closing times:

? NE-Sen (R): Out of nowhere, it seems, the Nebraska GOP Senate primary became a competitive race at the very last possible moment. State AG Jon Bruning had been the front-runner from day one, though right-wing meddlers like Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund and the Club for Growth did their best to boost Treasurer Don Stenberg. A few polls a while back suggested Stenberg might be gaining on Bruning, but he never came close to sealing the deal and it looked like Bruning would cruise to the nomination.

Then, a very strange thing happened with barely two weeks left to go: The race's third wheel, state Sen. Deb Fischer, started picking up steam, judging by a final spate of polls. Fischer's fundraising had been extremely weak, and she was also caught between two poles: the establishment, which was backing Bruning, and the tea party types, who had rallied around Stenberg. But after a long campaign season of Stenberg and Bruning bashing each other over the head, Fischer had the chance to sneak through, in a move reminiscent of Creigh Deeds' unexpected surge in the 2009 Democratic gubernatorial primary in Virginia.

Indeed, that's the very analogy PPP's Tom Jensen also relies on in characterizing this race; PPP conducted a last-minute poll which confirms Fischer's rise, finding her at 37 with Bruning close behind at 33 and Stenberg off the radar at 17. While this out-of-nowhere race could still go either way, Fischer has all the momentum and appears to be on the verge of a major upset.

Head below the fold for the rest of our writeups.

Daily Kos/SEIU State of the Nation Poll: After gay marriage decision, Obama's standing unchanged (May 15, 2012, 12:20 PM)

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There was a ton of hand-wringing?and uninformed speculation by the Beltway punditry?about what effect Barack Obama's decision to support same-sex marriage would have on the 2012 presidential election. The answer so far?

Public Policy Polling for Daily Kos & SEIU. Registered voters. MoE: 3.1% (5/3-6 results):

Barack Obama: 48 (48)
Mitt Romney: 46 (45)
Undecided: 6 (7)
In a word: none. It was impossible to miss last week's announcement by the president, so knowledge of his new position is most certainly "baked in" to these results. And all we see is that Obama's standing remains unchanged at 48%, while Romney's ticked up a single point?hardly anything worth writing home about (or even worth writing a blog post about).

There may be subtler effects buried in the cross-tabs, the issue may be felt in down-ballot races in a different way, and who knows?it's even possible things could change over the next few months, though that seems unlikely given Romney's unwillingness to make the president's support of same-sex marriage an issue. And the bottom line is that it isn't going to be one, at least if our polling is anything to go by.

9:47 AM PT: Links to new poll & trendlines fixed.

Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 5/15 (May 15, 2012, 11:00 AM)

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8:09 AM PT: LA-03: In case you missed it last night, GOP freshman Jeff Landry, the last member of the House who hadn't yet announced re-election plans, will?as long expected?run against fellow Republican Rep. Charles Boustany. Louisiana was actually the first state (along with Arkansas) to complete the congressional redistricting process last year, so Landry's been inexplicably dragging his heels for over a year. There'd been many tells, though, that he had no intention of hanging up his spurs after just a single term, and now it's officially game on.

On paper, the new 3rd District heavily favors Boustany, who's in his fourth term and already represents 76% of the district's constituents. Indeed, Louisiana's Republican establishment quite deliberately intended to force Landry over the edge of the iceberg when they drew their new map?someone had to go, since the state was dropping from seven seats to six. But Landry has tea party enthusiasm on his side and his credentials as a movement conservative are impeccable, whereas Boustany is decidedly an insider. And last cycle, Landry not only beat but obliterated the establishment pick in the GOP primary, former state House Speaker Hunt Downer, so I most certainly would not discount his chances.

8:23 AM PT: CT-05: State House Speaker Chris Donovan solidified his position as the frontrunner in the primary on Monday with a big win at the 5th District Democratic Convention. Donovan scored 64%, making him the party's official endorsee. (That gets him the first spot on the ballot in the Aug. 14 primary.) His two main rivals, Elizabeth Esty and Dan Roberti, were far off the pace: Esty took 19% and Roberti 16%. That does mean that both of them will get to appear on the primary ballot without having to petition their way on (the threshold for that is 15% of the delegate vote), but Donovan is definitely in the driver's seat.

8:50 AM PT: I should also add that Donovan also just secured the endorsement of the Connecticut State Police Union.

8:59 AM PT (James L): IN-Sen: Don't expect the "great healing" between Richard Mourdock and Dick Lugar to begin anytime soon. When asked by Politico's Manu Raju if he would lend his support on the campaign trail or raise money for Mourdock, Lugar's reply was simply: "Once again, no comment."

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Late polls portend upset in Nebraska Republican Senate primary (May 15, 2012, 08:00 AM)

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? NE-Sen: If Republican-affiliated pollster We Ask America's new numbers are right, we're in for a remarkable upset in the Nebraska Senate GOP primary. AG Jon Bruning, who pretty much led this race wire-to-wire, all of a sudden finds himself in second place to state Sen. Deb Fischer, 39-34 (Treasurer Don Stenberg's faded to 18). That's an almost hard-to-believe turnaround from WAA's poll just a week ago, which had Bruning up 42-26 over Fischer, with Stenberg at 23?a monster 21-point shift. Note, though, that the poll was in the field for just one day (Mother's Day?a Sunday, of course), and once again, WAA didn't allow respondents to say they were "undecided," which is a discouraged practice.

But if there's any possible explanation for this, it's that zillionaire Joe Ricketts (whose family owns the Chicago Cubs, who's a founder of brokerage TD Ameritrade, and who's also the dad of failed 2006 GOP Senate nominee Pete Ricketts) dumped $200K on to the airwaves at the last minute. Ricketts' group, called "Ending Spending," has two spots out, one trying to knock down Bruning and the other aiming to buff up Fischer.

Ricketts also paid for a poll of his own, from right-wing pollster Wenzel Strategies. The numbers aren't quite as favorable for Fischer as WAA's, though Wenzel did offer respondents the option to say they were "undecided." Like WAA's survey, it was also a Sunday-only affair. In any event, they find Bruning with a narrow 38-35 lead over Fischer, with Stenberg relegated to obscurity at just 16%. Jair Herbstman (aka jmartin4s) reminds me that Wenzel also conducted a poll of NE-Sen back in February for a pro-Bruning group and found Bruning at 48, Stenberg at 19, and Fischer at 10. Ouch!

Daily Kos Elections Polling Wrap: Eyepopping downballot numbers kick off the week (May 14, 2012, 08:00 PM)

While more attention will undoubtedly get paid to the presidential numbers today (including nearly a half-dozen new state polls that broke over the weekend), there are two sets of numbers downballot that ought to command quite a bit of attention, both with real implications for the battle for the balance of power in the United States Senate.

If it is true that Claire McCaskill has dug herself out of a hole in Missouri, and it is true that little-known state legislator Deb Fischer is about to teabag her way to the GOP Senate nomination in Nebraska, those would potentially be two additional blows for the GOP in their quest for a Senate majority. And, as anyone who reads this Wrap and the other offerings at Daily Kos Elections already knows, the GOP has taken plenty of blows on that front in the past few weeks.

First, the numbers:


NATIONAL (CBS News): Romney d. Obama (46-43)

NATIONAL (Gallup Tracking): Obama d. Romney (46-45)

NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking): Romney d. Obama (48-44)

GEORGIA (Landmark/Rosetta Stone): Romney d. Obama (51-40)

MAINE (Critical Insights): Obama d. Romney (50-42)

MICHIGAN (Glengariff Group): Obama d. Romney (45-40)

MINNESOTA (SurveyUSA): Obama d. Romney (52-38)

NEW YORK (Siena): Obama d. Romney (57-37)

AR-04--D (Talk Business/Hendrix College): Q. Byrum Hurst 23, Gene Jeffress 22, D.C. Morrison 11

AR-04--R (Talk Business/Hendrix College): Tom Cotton 51, Beth Anne Rankin 33, John Cowart 6

IN-SEN (Global Strategy Group for Donnelly): Joe Donnelly (D) 40, Richard Mourdock (R) 40

MO-SEN (Mellman Group for Majority PAC): Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) 44, Todd Akin (R) 39; McCaskill 46, John Brunner (R) 38; McCaskill 45, Sarah Steelman (R) 36

NE-SEN--R (We Ask America): Deb Fischer 39, Jon Bruning 34, Don Stenberg 18, Sharyn Elander 4, Pat Flynn 3, Spencer Zimmerman 2

NY-SEN (Siena): Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) 59, Bob Turner (R) 25; Gillibrand 60, Wendy Long (R) 26; Gillibrand 60, George Maragos (R) 25

NY-SEN--R (Siena): Bob Turner 15, Wendy Long 12, George Maragos 6

WI-GOV (We Ask America): Gov. Scott Walker (R) 52, Tom Barrett (D) 43

A few thoughts, as always, await you just past the jump ...

5:08 PM PT: The Polling Wrap was updated shortly after it published to Daily Kos Elections to reflect the new CBS national poll. Please note that this is a "panel-back" poll. Simply put, this is a re-interview of folks who were already surveyed in April by CBS. It also has one hugely curious underlying stat: a one-point gender gap. According to this sample, women favor Romney, albeit by just two points. That should invite, one would think, some pretty hefty skepticism.

Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 5/14 (May 14, 2012, 11:31 AM)

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8:57 AM PT: CT-Sen: I had long expected that Rep. Chris Murphy would do quite well at the statewide Democratic convention, but he seriously kicked some ass this past weekend. Murphy won 76% of the delegates' votes, compared to 24% for his rival, ex-SoS Susan Bysiewicz. Because Bysiewicz cleared 15%, that means her name will automatically appear on the August primary ballot (otherwise, she'd have had to petition her way on), and she's previously said she plans to forge ahead regardless of the convention results, despite pressure to reconsider.

But Murphy's huge win means he's the party's official endorsee, and he also gets the top ballot line for the primary. He also has all the momentum in the race, and his establishment support is firmer than ever. I always prefer primaries to conventions, but given these recent developments, combined with all the polling we've seen to date, I really just don't see how Bysiewicz has a hope here.

9:05 AM PT: NY-Sen: The numbers in this new Siena poll of both the GOP primary and the general election in the New York Senate race are simply too boring for me to write up.

9:23 AM PT: NE-Sen: If Republican-affiliated pollster We Ask America's new numbers are right, we're in for a remarkable upset in the Nebraska Senate GOP primary. AG Jon Bruning, who pretty much led this race wire-to-wire, all of a sudden finds himself in second place to state Sen. Deb Fischer, 39-34 (Treasurer Don Stenberg's faded to 18). That's an almost hard-to-believe turnaround from WAA's poll just a week ago, which had Bruning up 42-26 over Fischer, with Stenberg at 23?a monster 21-point shift.

But if there's any possible explanation for this, it's that zillionaire Joe Ricketts (whose family owns the Chicago Cubs, who's a founder of brokerage TD Ameritrade, and who's also the dad of failed 2006 GOP Senate nominee Pete Ricketts) dumped $200K on to the airwaves at the last minute, with spots trying to knock down Bruning and buff up Fischer. Fischer had the softest numbers of any Republican candidate in PPP's February poll, so nominally her rise is a good thing, but that was almost entirely a function of her lower name rec. Still, any measure of chaos in Tuesday's primary will probably be welcomed by Democrats.

9:36 AM PT: AZ-04: I'm not sure why they'd bother making shit up at this point, but state Sen. Ron Gould's campaign is claiming that they just polled the GOP primary last week and found their former rival, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, in third place?a rather different position than the first-place showing Babeu saw in his own internal back in January. If Babeu was seeing the same things in his own polling, that would help explain why he just dropped out of the race. Gould's being cagey about the rest of their survey, though, refusing to release any real details; his spokesman is only saying that Gould is "within single digits" of Rep. Paul Gosar.

10:10 AM PT: WI-Gov: Republican pollster We Ask America had another survey in the field over the weekend, along with their NE-Sen poll (see above), this one in Wisconsin. They find GOP Gov. Scott Walker up 52-43 over Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett, but there are are a number of red flags. First, like that Nebraska poll, this was a single-day sample taken on Mother's Day?not a methodologically auspicious way to gather data. Second, WAA doesn't offer any cross-tabs, so there's no way to peek under the hood and really see what's going on.

But third, and perhaps most importantly, local news site WisPolitics reports that the poll was conducted on behalf of "a subsidiary of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association"?a pro-Republican group with a definite agenda. If WisPolitics is right, that makes WAA's writeup extremely sketchy, since they don't mention any clients as paying for this poll. (The writeup also claims that "Wisconsin?s loopy election laws make it comparatively easy to recall a governor"?an utterly eye-rolling bit of editorializing that also happens to be wrong.) In any event, Daily Kos will be releasing new (and entirely transparent) recall polling on Tuesday, so you'll want to wait for that.

10:42 AM PT: MN-08: GOP freshman Chip Cravaack certainly accomplished something over the weekend: He made sure media outlets would roll their eyes if he ever promised a "major announcement" again. After making exactly that claim on Friday, Cravaack's big declarationg on Saturday was that he would... retire? Run for Senate? Nothing so picayune! Why, Cravaack is going to do no less than "seek to end federal authority over some outdoors activities on Minnesota?s Mille Lacs Lake." I wonder if these activities include fake-wolf hunting. What a schmuck.

11:02 AM PT: WI-Gov: So I actually misunderstood the point that WisPolitics was making about We Ask America's poll, because I forgot that WAA itself is an arm of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, as spiderdem detailed in this 2010 post at the Swing State Project.

11:15 AM PT: WA-01: The special election to fill out the final part of ex-Rep. Jay Inslee's term has become quite the odd duck indeed. If you've followed this strange saga, you know that Inslee, who is running for governor, timed his resignation so that the special would be held the same day as the November general election. This kind of double election happens on occasion, but what's weird here is that the special would be held under the old district lines while the general would use the new map that the legislature adopted earlier this year. So the potential for confusion is high, and it seems like none of the candidates who were already running to succeed Inslee are especially interested in waging an extra battle to fill out a one-month stub term, particularly since a majority of the new 1st covers different territory than the old 1st.

But local Democrats have managed to recruit someone to run who isn't involved in the regular election: Snohomish County Councilman Brian Sullivan, who says it's his "lifetime dream to serve in Congress, albeit even for a month." Party officials are hoping to dissuade any of the five candidates running for the full term from getting into the special (unappealing as it may be) so that their focus remains on beating GOPer John Koster, who also doesn't look likely to waste his time on the special. As yet, no Republicans have declared for the special election.

11:21 AM PT: WI-Sen: Wisconsin Republicans failed to give any Senate candidates the party's official endorsement at their convention this weekend, with no one clearing the necessary 60% threshold. It's not clear that getting this atta-boy would have mean a whole lot anyway, though, since the guy who wound up with the highest vote share, Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, is also the least likely to win the primary, according to polling. For what it's worth, in the final round, Fitzgerald beat ex-Rep. Mark Neumann 51.5% to 48.5%. Ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson, unloved by movement conservatives, got bounced in the second round after tallying just 18%, and wealthy businessman Eric Hovde exited after the first round with a mere 16% showing.

12:13 PM PT: IN-Sen: It looks like we have a real race on our hands: A new poll from Global Strategy Group for Dem Rep. Joe Donnelly has his race with newly-crowned GOP nominee Richard Mourdock all tied at 40 apiece. Donnelly's PDF is worth checking out, since it's not written up as a typical, anodyne polling memo but appears to contain actual questions from the original poll instrument and therefore is a lot more detailed than usual. You'll see, for instance, that Mourdock's favorability rating is a mediocre 36-37?and that his negatives have steadily marched upward in lockstep with his positives. Meanwhile, Donnelly's at 28-12?brighter numbers, and he has room to grow.

GSG also polled this race back in March, but the trendlines aren't perfectly comparable. Back then, they included libertarian Andrew Horning, who took a very high 8%, helping to put Donnelly up 34-28 over Mourdock. In these new head-to-heads that were just released, Horning wasn't mentioned.

12:59 PM PT: NE-Sen: According to Dave Catanese, Jon Bruning's campaign says that five Nebraska TV stations have yanked that last-minute negative ad attacking him that was produced by Joe Ricketts' group, Ending Spending. It's not clear what Bruning's basis is for getting the spot pulled, but presumably they've pointed out a factual error which has made these station managers nervous about getting sued.

1:03 PM PT (David Jarman): Portland Mayor: One of Tuesday night's main electoral events for the Portland, Oregon mayoral primary, which takes place tomorrow. City councilor Charlie Hales and state Rep. Jefferson Smith are in the top 2 slots, poised to advance to the general, leaving businesswoman Eileen Brady the odd person out, according to the newest poll. The poll from DHM Research -- which seems to be the new name that top-notch local pollster Tim Hibbitts operates as -- finds Hales at 32, Smith at 24, and Brady at 16.

1:05 PM PT: Speaking of Joe Ricketts, he paid for a poll of his own, from right-wing pollster Wenzel Strategies. The numbers aren't as favorable for Fischer, and we don't know the field dates, but at least Wenzel offered respondents the option to say they were "undecided," something We Ask America's pushy poll didn't do. In any event, they find Bruning with a narrow 38-35 lead over Fischer, with Stenberg relegated to obscurity at just 16%.

1:11 PM PT: CA-52: We missed this when it first came out, but we'll always sweep out the crumbs from old polls whenever we find them. Late last month, Democrat Lori Saldana released an internal from Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates showing GOP Rep. Brian Bilbray with 32%, while, importantly, she was in second with 18% and her Democratic rival, Scott Peters, was at 10%. Saldana and Peters are both vying for that second spot in the June top-two primary, but with 43% undecided, even Saldana's own poll suggests it's still anyone's game.

1:14 PM PT: MO-Sen: The Dem-aligned super PAC known as Majority PAC is out with a poll of the Missouri Senate race, conducted by the Mellman Group. McCaskill of course has the lead over all comers (otherwise Majority PAC wouldn't be releasing it): 45-36 over Sarah Steelman, 46-38 over John Brunner, and 44-39 over Todd Akin. That's similar to most of the other polling we've seen of this contest: McCaskill on top but under 50%.

1:28 PM PT (James L): AR-Gov: Democratic Rep. Mike Ross has just announced that he will not, in fact, run to succeed Mike Beebe as governor in 2014. Ross cites his appreciation of the relaxed pace of life that he's enjoyed after announcing his retirement from Congress last year as a major factor influencing his decision. In his statement, Ross says that he will join "Little Rock based Southwest Power Pool as its senior vice president for government affairs and public relations".

The news leaves current state Attorney General Dustin McDaniel as the likeliest Democratic candidate for the office.

1:33 PM PT: CA-07: This story looks like a very serious black eye for California Republicans?and for GOP Rep. Dan Lungren in particular:

The owner and an employee of a company accused of fraudulent voter registration drives in Sacramento County have been convicted of crimes of deception in the past.

The owner of Momentum Political Services, Monica Harris, has an extensive criminal history, including a prison sentence for stealing from a family she befriended and buying a van with funds stolen from a youth agency, court records show. Two of her victims called Harris a "professional con artist." [...]

Jill LaVine, Sacramento County's registrar of voters, has turned over evidence of what she called registration fraud to the California Secretary of State's Office. She said that at least one-fourth of the 31,000 registration cards submitted by Harris and her circulators since September have been rejected for inaccuracies.

Momentum Political Services was hired by the Republican Party of Sacramento County to conduct voter registration drives. LaVine said her office found numerous examples of people of having their political party affiliation switched to Republican against their wishes.

I do so love it when the party that constantly bleats phony cries of "VOTER FRAUD!!!!!!!!!!!!11" is actually guilty of it themselves. In any event, as the article notes, one of Harris's recent assignments was to register voters on behalf of Rep. Lungren, who is locked in an intense fight for his political life with physician Ami Bera. As one Democratic consultant said, it was "political malpractice" not to vet Harris before hiring her, and now Lungren has a well-nigh unfixable problem on his hands, since local voter registration records are now tainted on account of work done to benefit him. He smashed a bunch of eggs on the ground and how has to figure out how to make an omelet. Good luck.

1:36 PM PT: My bad: That Wenzel NE-Sen poll was also a one-day Sunday-only affair.

1:40 PM PT (David Jarman): San Diego mayor: Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher may have gotten himself a temporary bump in the polls with his showy decision to ditch the Republican party and become an independent as a way of standing out from the pack in San Diego's mayoral race, but that glow seems to have faded a bit according to SurveyUSA's newest poll of the race. Republican city councilor Carl DeMaio is still in the lead at 31, but with Fletcher tied with Democratic U.S. Rep. Bob Filner at 21. San Diego county DA Bonnie Dumanis rounds out the field at 13. That's a drop of 5 for Fletcher from their poll one month ago. The top 2 advance to the November general; the primary's coming up fast, on June 5.

2:28 PM PT: WI-Gov: A nameless "top Wisconsin Democratic Party official" groused to The Washington Post's Greg Sargent about the supposed "lack of support from the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Governors Association" for the effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker. This was obviously an attempt to goad a response from national Democrats, but so far the only comment on the record is from Wisconsin Dem chair Mike Tate, who sought to clarify that his organization has "received absolute support" from the DGA and are "in conversation" with the DNC. Hard to know whether this whole thing was calculated or if someone wildcatted.

2:36 PM PT (James L): NV-03: Oof. In case you missed it, state Assembly Speaker John Oceguera (D) is just coming off a rather brutal week in local media coverage, stemming mainly from what sounds like a set of extremely unimpressive appearances on a pair of local political TV shows (Jon Ralston's "Face to Face" and a competitor, "The Agenda"). Ralston himself summarizes Oceguera's appearance on "Face to Face" last Monday as "arguably one of the worst, most vacuous performances" in the program's history, citing Oceguera's refusal to give meaningful positions on issues such as the Affordable Care Act and the 2009 stimulus package. Needless to say, Oceguera will have to seriously tune up his media skills for his general election campaign against frosh GOP Rep. Joe Heck.

3:04 PM PT: WA-06: While Republicans failed to land anyone of stature in the open-seat race to replace retiring Dem Rep. Norm Dicks, they did manage to recruit wealthy businessman Bill Driscoll, who works in the "forest products industry." (I'm guess that means paper-making, but possibly also armored bear-fighting suits.) And Driscoll, who got into the race at the very end of April, promised to immediately seed his campaign with half a million of his own money.

The consensus Democratic candidate, state Sen. Derek Kilmer, raised a boatload in a very compressed first quarter and he looks to be in a strong position in this decidedly blue district. But out of an abundance of caution, we're putting this race on the big board as Likely D, just thanks to Driscoll's hefty cash infusion.

3:15 PM PT: NJ-10: The Communications Workers of America, a statewide union that reportedly represents "70,000 working families in New Jersey," just came out for Newark city councilor Ron Rice in the Democratic primary.

3:37 PM PT: LA-03: Looks like GOP Rep. Jeff Landry is in some hot water for the exact same thing his Florida colleague, Connie Mack, just got busted for: using government money to target voters who don't live in his district. Franking rules require that lawmakers only spend taxpayer dollars on communications with actual constituents, but Landry blew $30K on radio ads to promote meetings outside of the soon-to-be-extinguished old version of Louisiana's 3rd Congressional District.

There's another angle here, though. Alone among members of the House of Representatives, Landry still hasn't declared his re-election plans, a product of Louisiana's last-in-the-nation filing deadline (Aug. 17) and the anachronistic tendency toward late announcements by many politicians in the state. Ironically, Louisiana was the first state (along with Arkansas) to pass a new congressional map following the census, meaning that Landry's been dragging his heels for over a year. That entire time, he's been expected to wage war with fellow Republican Rep. Charles Boustany in the new 3rd?and the events Landry's ads touted were indeed on Boustany's turf.

But I'm not sure how much of a tell this really is, since the meetings took place all the way back in August, and we knew about them at the time. I'd still be pretty surprised if Landry just retired outright without at least putting up his dukes, but the net-net of this particular story may just be the ethical violation.

3:40 PM PT: Jair Herbstman (aka jmartin4s) reminds me that Wenzel conducted a poll of NE-Sen back in February and found Bruning at 48, Stenberg at 19, and Fischer at 10. Ouch!

4:33 PM PT: Ad Watch:

? IN-Sen: Some random new GOP super PAC called USA Super PAC is putting out radio ads which feature a lousy Obama impersonator "thanking" Dem Rep. Joe Donnelly for being such a loyal rubber stamp. Size of the buy: $25K.

? MT-Sen: In a minute-long spot, Dem Sen. Jon Tester and his wife Sharla talk about their upbringing in Montana and their values: "protecting Social Security and Medicare," "protecting our way of life" (cue people holding shotguns), etc. Size of the buy: $60K.

? ND-Sen: Democrat Heidi Heitkamp praises her state as an "energy leader" and mentions her service as "a director of the Great Plains Synfuels Plant," saying the state needs "more innovation like this" (gestures to gigantic plant in background).

? NE-Sen: The "Ending Spending Action Fund" goes harsh negative on Republican AG Jon Bruning in one spot, attacking him as a self-dealer, and then tries to go positive in a less successful spot that aims to burnish Deb Fischer, Bruning's chief rival in the GOP primary. Size of the buy: $199K.

? TX-Sen: The Texas Conservatives Fund tries to mock the notion that Republican Ted Cruz is a conservative. One very dumb attack: They say "his law firm contributed over $200,000 to elect Barack Obama"?referring, of course, to donations made by individual employees, which in 2008 would have included me! Meanwhile, in a separate spot, the Conservative Renewal PAC touts Republican David Dewhurst for promoting "lower taxes" and "less government." See our IE roundup for details on the size of the buys.

? NV-04: Businessman Dan Schwartz mostly attacks fellow Republican Danny Tarkanian and then offers a few positive notes about himself. (Who is Dan Schwartz? Some guy who loaned his campaign a quarter mil.)

4:36 PM PT (James L): Independent Expenditures:

? NE-Sen: As mentioned above, Ending Spending Action Fund, a PAC setup by moneybags Joe Ricketts, filed a $200K expenditure report on ad buys backing late-charging Republican Deb Fischer and torching the former front-runner, Jon Bruning. Bruning isn't seeing much in the way of late money on his behalf, with only $20K in radio ads filed over the weekend by something called the Trust In Small Business PAC. Meanwhile, the Senate Conservatives Fund is keeping hope alive with $25K in GOTV calls targeting the state's far-right base on behalf of Don Stenberg.

? TX-Sen: Ka-boom. The David Dewhurst-aligned Texas Conservatives Fund has shelled out a cool $1 million for a TV buy targeting Ted "Calgary" Cruz in the Republican primary. Meanwhile, another Dewhurst shell org, the Conservative Renewal PAC, has filed another $113K buy on cable ads boosting Dewhurst. (Both ads are available for viewing in our roundup above.)

? TX-04: Hah! I truly didn't expect the nihilists at the Campaign for Primary Accountability to shell out cash against the likes of crusty GOP Rep. Ralph Hall, given the fact that his primary opposition appears to be extremely weak, but the group has shelled out $10K over the weekend for internet ads against Hall. That's pretty small ball stuff, all things considered, but it'll be interesting to see if there will be more where that came from.

? TX-25: Conservatives Acting Together PAC (CATPAC!) is spending $98K on radio ads in support of former Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams in his primary against former Secretary of State Roger Williams.

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: The DCCC takes aim at Linda Parks in CA-26 (May 14, 2012, 08:00 AM)

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? CA-26: The DCCC hasn't filed any independent expenditure reports in CA-26 yet, but Republican-turned-independent Linda "Rocky Road" Parks has posted copies of a flyer attacking her that lists the D-Trip as the payer. (Scroll down to no. 7 on that page. No. 8 is also allegedly from the DCCC.) This is an interesting development, because this would only be the second primary in the nation where the DCCC has openly stepped in (FL-22 being the other). (Other outside groups, though, like the House Majority PAC and EMILY's List, have already gotten involved here on behalf of Dem Assemblywoman Julia Brownley.)

I welcome the move, though, because as you know, California no longer has proper party primaries; instead, the top-two vote-getters in June, regardless of party, advance to the November ballot. As we've mentioned repeatedly, Democrats are in danger of not having anyone to carry their banner forward in the general election because Parks and Republican state Sen. Tony Strickland could both make it to the second round, benefitting from a field that features four Dems potentially splitting the vote. That means Democrats need to tear town Parks?and bolster Brownley, unquestionably our strongest candidate. Interestingly, it looks like one of the mailers hits Parks from the left and another from the right, which seems like a clever squeeze play.

By the way, before you decide that you could conceivably live with a Rep. Linda Parks, be aware that?just like Angus King?she's refused to say which party she'd caucus with if she's elected to Congress. Given that she was a registered Republican until just a few months ago, I don't doubt for a minute that she'd side with the GOP if it meant being in the majority. With Brownley, we know where her loyalties lie.

Daily Kos Elections Weekend Digest: May 8 primaries bring another jolt to the 2012 cycle (May 12, 2012, 05:00 PM)

Our status as political junkies, to say nothing of the 24-hour news cycle, has a tendency to desensitize us to major election-related news events. This week was an excellent case-in-point. By the time Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar conceded defeat on Tuesday night, the outcome was such a foregone conclusion that it barely registered on our radar. Amazing, isn't it, that the defeat of a six-term incumbent senator (and by 22 points, no less!) was seen as an "as-expected" result.

Especially when you consider that it had not happened in 62 years.

Indiana was the latest twist in an election year where expectations and assumptions seem to be challenged on a daily basis. Democrats, once thought deeply imperiled in their bid to retain the Senate, now look like they can stitch together a plausible case for continued majority status. Indeed, one can see a sliver of daylight where they could actually pick up seats, though that prospect remains quite remote.

At the top of the ballot, we saw the continuation of a consistent theme since the end of the GOP primary: the daily trackers on an island, Mitt Romney showing some competitiveness in key battlegrounds, but needing a lot of help to craft a coalition of states that will get him to 270.

On top of all that, it is officially on and cracking in Wisconsin, where the breakneck pace of the recall elections heads into a four-week sprint.

All that (and more!) in the Mother's Day edition of the Weekend Digest.

Daily Kos Elections House race ratings (2012) (May 12, 2012, 04:30 PM)

Last updated: May 14, 2012 at 6:00 PM ET

A note on the color scheme: Blue and red seats are held by Democrats and Republicans respectively. Purple seats feature matchups between a Democratic incumbent and a Republican incumbent. Green seats are new seats created by decennial reapportionment pursuant to the census and are controlled by neither party.

Republicans currently control 242 of 435 seats in the House, Democrats 190. Three seats (all formerly held by Democrats) are vacant. 218 seats are needed for control of the chamber, meaning Democrats need a net gain of 28 seats to retake the House. All seats not listed on this chart are considered "Safe" for the party which currently controls them.

AZ-08 is asterisked because our rating applies to the June 12 special election to fill the remainder of ex-Rep. Gabby Giffords' term. The district number for this seat will change to AZ-02 for the regular November election.

Daily Kos Elections Polling Wrap: Rasmussen versus the world (May 11, 2012, 08:00 PM)

Rasmussen's status as an infallible pollster to the right, and a inevitable source of derision to the left, has been well established for years. But, looking at some of their recent polling (most notably, their daily tracking poll of the presidential race), it becomes difficult not to ask some serious questions about their data. When you are on an island as often as they have been lately, they are either prescient, or completely full of shit.

And while we have to wait till November to find out which one of those polar-opposite descriptions match the House of Ras, it is worth exploring today how far on the island they are, in a number of races.

Before that, though, the numbers:


NATIONAL (Gallup Tracking): Romney d. Obama (46-45)

NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking): Romney d. Obama (50-43)

OREGON (SurveyUSA): Obama d. Romney (47-43)

WISCONSIN (Rasmussen): Obama d. Romney (49-45)

WA-GOV (SurveyUSA): Rob McKenna (R) 40, Jay Inslee (D) 38

WI-SEN (Rasmussen): Tommy Thompson (R) 50, Tammy Baldwin (D) 38; Mark Neumann (R) 44, Baldwin 42; Baldwin 45, Jeff Fitzgerald (R) 41

A few thoughts, as always, await you after the jump ...

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