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Daily Kos Elections Polling Wrap: A clear leader in the AZ-08 special election on Tuesday evening? (June 11, 2012, 08:00 PM)

A relatively quiet opening to the week on the political polling front, but a big headline first thing in the morning kicks off our coverage this week.

Last week, in our elections panel at Netroots Nation in Providence, I noted that the dearth of polling being released by the campaigns in the special election to replace the retiring Gabby Giffords in AZ-08 led me to conclude that the race was a coin flip. PPP, this morning, hints that I may be wrong. Propelled by a mammoth lead with early/absentee voters, PPP has Democrat Ron Barber staked to a double-digit lead over Republican Jesse Kelly. But there is not an undisputed conclusion.

More on that later. First, the numbers:


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

NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking): Romney d. Obama (47-44)

NATIONAL (TIPP for Christian Science Monitor and Investors Business Daily): Obama d. Romney (46-42)

NORTH DAKOTA (Mason Dixon): Romney d. Obama (52-39)

AZ-08 (PPP): Ron Barber (D) 53, Jesse Kelly (R) 41, Charlie Manolakis (G) 4

ND-AL (Mason Dixon): Kevin Cramer (R) 49, Pam Gulleson (D) 35, Eric Olsen (L) 4

ND-AL?R (Mason Dixon): Kevin Cramer 60, Brian Kalk 21

NY-SEN (Siena College): Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) 63, Bob Turner (R) 25; Gillibrand 65, George Maragos (R) 23; Gillibrand 65, Wendy Long (R) 22

NY-SEN?R (Siena College): Bob Turner 16, Wendy Long 11, George Maragos 3

SD-MAYOR (SurveyUSA): Bob Filner (D) 46, Carl DeMaio (R) 43

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

New PPP poll of Arizona special election shows Democrat Ron Barber up 12 points (June 11, 2012, 11:37 AM)

Ron Barber portrait
Ron Barber
Public Policy Polling (PDF). 6/9-10. Likely voters. MoE: 3.0% (no trendlines):
Ron Barber (D): 53
Jesse Kelly (R): 41
Charlie Manolakis (G): 4
Undecided: 3
Tomorrow is the special election to replace ex-Rep. Gabby Giffords, who resigned from Congress in January to focus on recovering from the injuries she suffered during the shocking Tucson shooting last year. Conventional wisdom on the race to succeed her has suggested a very close contest: Neither side has released any polling, both camps have spent heavily, and both candidates have tended to act cautiously, lest they offend the small group of persuadable voters occupying the political middle in this swing district.

But PPP's survey upends that CW, showing Barber, a former Giffords aide, crushing Kelly, the 2010 GOP nominee who nearly beat Barber's old boss, by double digits?and that's even with Green Party candidate Charlie Manolakis (whom you'd expect to pull from left-leaning voters) drawing four percent of the vote. The favorability numbers tell the tale here: Barber, perhaps still drawing on residual goodwill toward Giffords, stands at 54-38 approvals, while Kelly, who's been hammered over his stated desire to end Medicare and Social Security, is at a miserable 37-59.

There's another, more fundamental reason for Barber's lead, though: PPP's respondents lean heavily Democratic, something pollster Tom Jensen acknowledges. Respondents say they voted for Barack Obama over John McCain by a 50-44 margin; in reality, the vote went the other way, 52-46 for McCain. That's a 12-point shift, which either suggests a massive Democratic enthusiasm gap or a wonky sample. The former is definitely possible: Jensen points to last year's NY-26 special election, where PPP correctly called (PDF) the final margin while finding an electorate that was 11 points more pro-Obama than the 2008 results.

But so is the latter. Roll Call's Abby Livingston tweets:

Re: the PPP poll on #AZ08 source: "It does not match Democrats' private polling which has the race considerably closer."
? @RollCallAbby via web
But if PPP is right, then Kelly's already in a very deep whole. Over half (57%) of the sample says they've already voted via early voting, and that cohort went for Barber by a 58-37 margin. We'll just have to see tomorrow.

Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 6/11 (June 11, 2012, 10:58 AM)

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7:58 AM PT: KS Redistricting: The dysfunctional Kansas legislature couldn't get it done, so the task of redrawing Kansas's four congressional districts got left to a federal court, which produced new lines on Friday. In addition to ripping the lege over its failure to act, the court also provided some (relative) sanity, by eschewing a mashup between Kansas City (on the state's eastern border) and the rural western half of the state that we'd seen in some Republican maps. In the end, though, the GOP is favored to keep all four districts:

? Tim Huelskamp's 1st remains strongly GOP at 33% Obama. It's a tad bluer due to the inclusion of all of Manhattan (Kansas, not New York, of course) and the removal of several rural counties west of Wichita.

? Lynn Jenkins' 2nd becomes several points bluer as well, with the inclusion of the entirety of Douglas County (Lawrence), which previously had been split between the 2nd and 3rd. Democrat Nancy Boyda did represent the district for two years after 2006, but a retaking is a tall order.

? The 3rd still contains the entirety of Wyandotte and Johnson Counties, but the removal of Douglas County and subsequent replacement by exurban Miami County shift the seat several points rightward to the benefit of Kevin Yoder, transforming the seat into a narrow McCain district. This seat, the state's bluest, had been held by Democrat Dennis Moore for over a decade until his retirement last cycle, so the fact that it was made redder is a major disappointment for Democrats.

? The 4th remains strongly GOP, especially with the addition of rural counties west of Wichita. If Dems are to win here, the key remains the same as before?major idiocy from incumbent Mike Pompeo.

We've also put together our usual suite of redistricting resources: a Google Maps overlay, our patented redistribution analysis, and as always, a detailed breakdown of the Obama-McCain vote according to the new congressional district lines.

7:59 AM PT: AZ-08: PPP's brand-new poll of tomorrow's special election defies the CW that this is a tight race and has Democrat Ron Barber up 53-41 over Republican Jesse Kelly.

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Independent poll shows North Dakota Senate race a tossup (June 11, 2012, 08:00 AM)

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Leading Off:

? ND-Sen: Mason-Dixon for KVLY and KFYR. 6/4-6. Likely voters. MoE: 4.0% (no trendlines):

Heidi Heitkamp (D): 47
Rick Berg (R): 46
Undecided: 7

Heidi Heitkamp (D): 46
Duane Sand (R): 38
Undecided: 16

Republican primary (Likely voters, MoE: 4.5%):
Rick Berg (R): 73
Duane Sand (R): 16
Undecided: 11
At this point, there shouldn't be any doubt that the open seat North Dakota Senate race, between Dem ex-AG Heidi Heitkamp and GOP Rep. Rick Berg, is legitimately competitive. We've seen two DSCC internal polls showing Heitkamp up five each (which got no rebuttal from the Berg camp) and one nonpartisan poll that gave Berg a seven-point lead but was rife with methological problems.

And now we've gotten another public poll, but this one shows Heitkamp with a narrow lead over Berg. Moreover, it's from Mason-Dixon, a reputable pollster but one who've had a frequent GOP bias in recent years (case in point, they got dropped as the Las Vegas Review-Journal's pollster after consistently overstating Sharron Angle's support in 2010). Maybe the most important number here is the Heitkamp is up 51-36 among independents, which is her only path to victory given the generic Republican edge in this red state. Heitkamp also puts up a wide lead against the other GOPer in the race, tea partier/perpetual candidate Duane Sand, but unfortunately Sand looks DOA in the Republican primary against Berg. (David Jarman)

Daily Kos Elections Weekly Open Thread (June 9, 2012, 12:33 PM)

In case you missed it, here's the recording of our Panel:

Daily Kos Elections Polling Wrap: A mixed bag of data to close out the week (June 8, 2012, 08:00 PM)

Much like the array of polling which dropped on Thursday, Friday brings a poll to suit every meme. GOPers can embrace the Fox News national poll, while Democrats can embrace, of all things, the movement for Obama in both tracking polls.

Yes, you read that right, Democrats can cite Gallup. And Rasmussen.

They can also cite a little-known Democratic state senator (though she is in the leadership) leading Governor Rick Scott in Florida. By double digits.

On to the numbers!


NATIONAL (Fox News): Obama tied with Romney (43-43)

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

NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking): Obama d. Romney (47-45)

MISSOURI (Rasmussen): Romney d. Obama (49-42)

(2014) FL-GOV: Nan Rich (D) 47, Gov. Rick Scott (R) 35

IL-13 (We Ask America): Rodney Davis (R) 47, David Gill (D) 38

MI-14?D (Practical Political Consulting for Clarke): Rep. Hansen Clarke 49, Gary Peters 33, Brenda Lawrence 13, Mary Waters 4, Bob Costello 2

MN-SEN (PPP): Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) 55, Kurt Bills (R) 29; Klobuchar 56, Joe Arwood (R) 29; Klobuchar 56, Pete Hegseth (R) 28; Klobuchar 55, Doc Severson (R) 27

(2014) MN-SEN (PPP): Sen. Al Franken (D) 51, Norm Coleman (R) 41; Franken 52, Tim Pawlenty (R) 41; Franken 57, Michele Bachmann (R) 35

MO-SEN (Rasmussen): Sarah Steelman (R) 51, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) 39; John Brunner (R) 51, McCaskill 41; Todd Akin (R) 50, McCaskill 42

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

Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 6/8 (June 8, 2012, 10:56 AM)

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8:02 AM PT: Netroots Nation: In case you missed our Netroots Nation panel (where we took Q&A on congressional races from the audience for over an hour on Thursday), you can watch it at the link or below:

8:11 AM PT: KS Redistricting: In record time, the federal court responsible for cleaning up the redistricting mess left by Kansas's legislature has released new maps for the state, including both legislative and congressional plans. You can find PDFs of all the maps at the link; a copy of the new congressional lines is below:

Map of new Kansas congressional districts
Black lines represent old districts

We'll bring you a full analysis later today. In the meantime, here's a link to the court's 206-page opinion (PDF) explaining their rulings.

8:23 AM PT: VA Redistricting: While we've crunched most of the 2008 presidential election numbers for the country's new congressional districts ourselves, a number of state legislatures have helpfully provided the data for us. We'd happily relied on this information for quite some time in places like Texas and Florida, but an unresolved question?namely, did Barack Obama or John McCain win the apparently "50-50" VA-10??prompted us to take a second look at the stats the Virginia lege published. Remarkably, it turns out the VA numbers we'd been relying on were wrong?just flat-out miscalculated.

Indeed, jeffmd took a deep dive back into the data and found that Republicans appeared to be conning themselves by leaving out a substantial portion of the early vote?and note that in 2008, Obama fared much better in the early vote than on election day. Calculated properly, the Obama share of the vote went up in all 11 Virginia congressional districts, and one (VA-02) flipped from a McCain seat to an Obama seat (narrowly). As for VA-10, it's not 50-50 at all, but rather 51-48 in favor of Obama. Click through for a detailed explanation of our methodology. We're convinced you'll agree that our data set is the one that should be relied on, not the legislature's.

8:31 AM PT: IL-12: Adjutant General William Enyart, the Illinois National Guard chief who recently expressed interest in running as a replacement candidate for Democrat Brad Harriman, just resigned from his post. I have to believe local Dem leaders, who will be picking a substitute for Harriman, must have given Enyart a good indication that he's a top contender?or even the top contender?because when Enyart's name first came up, he described his current gig with the National Guard as "the best job in the world." You don't quit the best job in the world in order to not get picked as the Democratic nominee.

The importance of early votes & absentees: Virginia's presidential results by congressional district (June 8, 2012, 10:00 AM)

At Daily Kos Elections, we try hard to verify the accuracy of the Pres-by-CD numbers we give you by calculating the numbers ourselves. We didn?t do this in a few states where the legislature provided these numbers for us. Apparently, we should have?at least in Virginia.

In its calculations, the Virginia legislature, in addition to providing too few significant figures, apparently also failed to include absentee votes in its calculations. (As a humorous sidenote, this all came about because David Nir and I were looking into the Virginia results, which showed VA-10 being ?50% - 50%? and us wondering who actually won the district.) From their perspective, it could be reasonable to exclude early votes?not much research has been done into how early votes can be allocated to a given precinct (or area) when early votes/absentees are presented in aggregate across the jurisdiction (this doesn?t excuse, of course, their exclusion of absentee votes even when an entire county is contained within a given district). We?ve ran into a similar difficult preparing data for the DRA, and of course several years back in the 2008 Pres-by-CD project.

At DKE, though, we are fairly adamant about splitting absentees and early votes properly?after all, an early or absentee voter votes for Congress, just like everyone else. We?ve been applying a fairly consistent set of methodologies, depending on how detailed early voting data is presented (or, for that matter, not presented; over the flip, we detail the exact methods that we?ve used). In Virginia, absentee votes are certainly important?there were about 500,000 such votes, and Barack Obama won 62 percent of them. (Put differently, without absentees, Obama won the state by 3.4 percent; he actually carried the state with a 6.3 percent margin.) We used both methods here to compare to the legislature?s numbers (and our attempt to reproduce the legislature?s numbers). At the district level, the impacts were as follows:

A comparison of Virginia's election totals by CD, by method.
(The results for the subdivision method, which we're adopting moving forward, are available here.) Based on the similarity of our calculations with no absentees and the legislature?s numbers, we?re fairly confident that that is indeed the exclusion in how the legislature performed its calculations. Further, there are substantial differences once absentees are added into the mix?for example, Scott Rigell is actually in an Obama district. (It does turn out that Obama won VA-10, even without absentees allocated.)

While we had been using the old set of numbers in our judgments of the race, these revised numbers will be in our information set moving forward. Further, we will also be verifying that a similar issue does not exist in the other states. This yields us two benefits?first, we can confirm or question the accuracy of numbers presented in other states, but second (and perhaps more importantly), we can show actual vote totals (and not just percentages), as well as breakouts by county. As always, any redistricting-related work that we do is available from our consolidated redistricting resources page.

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: How to find a treasure trove of opposition research on the GOP (June 8, 2012, 08:00 AM)

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Leading Off:

? DCCC/DSCC: Roll Call's Nathan Gonzales has an interesting piece on how the major campaign committees, which have to calve off separate arms to handle "independent expenditures" that aren't coordinated either with the campaigns they're trying to help or the motherships which spawned them, get around these anti-coordination rules. One method has led to some interesting consequences: The DCCC has started posting extensive opposition research briefing books and video clips of Republican targets. (The DSCC is doing something similar.) Nathan explains how anyone can find the goods:

From the group's main page, go to "2012 races," click on a state and click on a district that features a Republican candidate's name. In many cases, you'll find downloadable clipbooks, research books, links to raw video footage, and sometimes bulleted talking points. For example, anyone can access the 85-page research book on Arizona Republican Jesse Kelly or the 135-page file on California candidate Abel Maldonado (R).

Similarly, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has research attainable through a handful of clicks. From the committee's home page, click on the Races tab, then "Read More" about a particular state, then "See what Republicans are doing in Ohio" (for example) and you'll find a multipage PDF file with quotes and clips.

Here's the DCCC's Kelly page Nathan mentions; just scroll to the bottom and you'll see links to all the dirt they have on him. (Republicans tend to use a somewhat different method, usually creating race-specific micro-sites. But the NRCC does have a kind of weaksauce hub at "Democrat Facts.") This stuff is a serious treasure trove that could make for a lot of good blogging fodder.

Daily Kos Elections Polling Wrap: New presidential state polling presents mixed view of race (June 7, 2012, 08:00 PM)

One theme that has marked this week thus far, and a theme most Democrats will find amenable, has been one in which Barack Obama has done marginally better in trial heats with Mitt Romney than he had done for most of the month of May.

Quite a bit of today's data (a new independent poll in Virginia, coupled with a GOP-sponsored poll in Wisconsin) buttresses that theme. But there was also a new poll out of Michigan (by local pollsters EPIC-MRA) that went in a dramatically different direction, while the Gallup tracker also headed in a red direction. And then, later in the day, Purple Strategies dropped their latest set of battleground polls which included an Ohio poll which recalls the old song "One of These Ones is Not Like the Others."

Ultimately, today was (yet again!) one of those days where either side could cherry-pick to their heart's content.

On to the numbers:


NATIONAL (Gallup Tracking): Romney d. Obama (47-45)

NATIONAL (Monmouth): Obama d. Romney (46-42)

NATIONAL (Purple Strategies): Obama d. Romney (48-46)

NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking): Obama tied with Romney (46-46)

COLORADO (Purple Strategies): Obama d. Romney (48-46)

COLORADO (Rasmussen): Obama tied with Romney (45-45)

FLORIDA (Purple Strategies): Romney d. Obama (49-45)

MICHIGAN (EPIC-MRA): Romney d. Obama (46-45)

MINNESOTA (PPP): Obama d. Romney (54-39)

OHIO (Purple Strategies): Romney d. Obama (48-45)

VIRGINIA (Purple Strategies): Obama d. Romney (49-46)

VIRGINIA (Quinnipiac): Obama d. Romney (47-42)

WISCONSIN (We Ask America): Obama d. Romney (48-43)

FL-SEN (PPP): Sen. Bill Nelson (D) 49, Connie Mack IV (R) 36; Nelson 48, George LeMieux (R) 35; Nelson 47, Mike McCallister (R) 33; Nelson 47, Dave Weldon (R) 31

FL-SEN?R (PPP): Connie Mack IV 34, George LeMieux 13, Mike McCallister 10, Dave Weldon 6

MI-SEN (EPIC-MRA): Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) 49, Pete Hoekstra (R) 38

ND-SEN (Mason Dixon): Heidi Heitkamp (D) 47, Rick Berg (R) 46; Heitkamp 46, Duane Sand (R) 38

ND-SEN?R (Mason Dixon): Rick Berg 73, Duane Sand 16

PA-07 (GBA Strategies for Badey): Rep. Pat Meehan (R) 50, George Badey (D) 30

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

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