Monthly Archives: July 2012

Texas-Sized Upset in the Making?

Yesterday, we covered the races being decided in today’s run-off (Texas) and primary elections (Georgia) and mentioned that former Texas solicitor general Ted Cruz has a legitimate chance of upsetting Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the Lone Star State’s US Senate Republican run-off. The release of the new Public Policy Polling data for Texas underscores that the trends are supporting an upset result. According to their survey (July 28-29; 665 Texas GOP likely run-off voters) Cruz has a 52-42 percent lead over the lieutenant governor. The Dewhurst campaign countered with their internal Baselice & Associates poll showing their candidate with a 48-44 percent lead, but these results appear out of line with the other publicly presented trends.

Perhaps most disconcerting for the Dewhurst camp, the PPP numbers report Cruz to be leading 63-33 percent among those who are most excited about voting in the run-off election. Additionally, the ex-solicitor general leads the veteran statewide office holder among those considering themselves as Tea Party voters by a huge 75-22 percent split. In a low turnout election where 70 percent identify themselves to be somewhat or very conservative, this type of spread could well be the defining factor.

Typically, Texas primary and run-off elections record very low turnouts. More than 1.4 million people voted in the May 29 primary election, but a considerable smaller number will vote in the secondary election. The likely turnout projection suggests a participation rate of less than one million voters.

Latourette

Ohio’s LaTourette to Retire

Latourette

Nine-term Ohio Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-14) abruptly scheduled a news conference for later today to announce that he will not seek re-election in November, despite winning renomination in March. Reports indicate he experienced a falling out with the majority leadership in relation to future committee assignments.

The 14th District, politically marginal in nature, is located in the northeastern corner of the state between Cleveland and the Pennsylvania border. Both President Obama and John McCain received 49 percent of the vote here in 2008.

Local Republican Party officials throughout the district will subsequently meet and choose a replacement candidate. Democrats have accountant Dale Blanchard as their nominee. Blanchard has twice lost to LaTourette and he has yet to even file a 2012 FEC financial disclosure report meaning he has yet to raise $5,000 for the campaign. Unless the Democrats can get Blanchard to withdraw from the ballot, they will be left with a sub-standard nominee in a competitive district.

OH-14 now becomes the 61st open seat in the current election cycle. Much more will be forthcoming from here in the next few days.

Eyes on Georgia’s 9th CD

In Georgia, only of a few of the state’s 14 districts are in contested situations tomorrow. The biggest news will be what happens in the newly created 9th Congressional District in the northeastern sector of the state. The seat, awarded to Georgia in reapportionment because of the state’s robust growth rate during the past decade, is drawn to elect a Republican. It is likely that state Rep. Doug Collins and radio talk show host Martha Zoller will head to a run-off contest on Aug. 21.

In the Augusta-based 12th District, in what is likely to be the most hotly contested general election race in the state, four Republicans battle for the opportunity to challenge veteran Rep. John Barrow (D) in a re-configured district. Barrow, seeking his fifth term in the House, only represents 53 percent of the new 12th CD’s constituency. A run-off is probable, most likely between state Rep. Lee Anderson and businessman Rick Allen. Much more will be heard from this campaign before the final votes are cast later this year.

In Atlanta, veteran Rep. John Lewis faces a Democratic primary foe but is expected to easily win renomination. Former judge Michael Johnson is a credible candidate, but no match for the 13-term congressman and former Civil Rights leader.

Dewhurst | Cruz

Texas Run-off Tomorrow

Dewhurst | Cruz

Voters go to the polls in Texas tomorrow to choose US Senate as well as several congressional nominees. The big Senate battle is on the Republican side, where three-term Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst fights to save his political credibility against former state solicitor general Ted Cruz. In the May 29 primary, Dewhurst placed first with 44.7 percent of the vote versus Cruz’s 34.1 percent.

The primary results place Dewhurst in a gray area as to whether he can develop a winning run-off coalition in a two-way race. Most often, a well-known candidate who fails to secure a majority of his own party’s vote in the primary election loses the subsequent run-off because the majority opposition only has one choice. Turnout and the candidate who has the most energized base tend to be the determining factors.

Internal polls released from both camps show their own candidate leading in the high single-digit range. The Cruz polling was conducted just among May 29 primary voters while the Dewhurst samples are from a likely voter model. The methodology difference lends more credence to the Cruz polls. The chances of seeing an upset win here are at least 50/50.

On the Democrat side, former state Rep. Paul Sadler and retired educator Grady Yarbrough battle for a ticket to the general election. Realistically, the winner of the Dewhurst-Cruz contest easily defeats the Dem winner in November, so tomorrow’s GOP run-off is likely race-determining.

On the congressional level, run-off voters in several districts will effectively choose House members. In the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, the 33rd Congressional District is one of four new seats awarded the state. A Democratic battle between Ft. Worth state Rep. Marc Veasey and former state representative and Dallas City Councilman Domingo Garcia is peaking. The race has become a rivalry contest between the two Metroplex cities. With more of the Ft. Worth area included in the new 33rd and placing first with a 37-25 percent margin, Veasey is viewed to be the favorite tomorrow. The Democrat winner claims the seat in November.

In the Rio Grande Valley, the new 34th Congressional District is anchored in the city of Brownsville and travels along the Gulf of Mexico coastline. Filemon Vela will likely win the Democratic nomination tomorrow against former congressional aide Denise Saenz Blanchard. Vela, an attorney, is the son of ex-federal judge Filemon B. Vela and former Brownsville mayor Blanca Sanchez Vela. His wife, a Republican, is a sitting district judge. Vela placed first in May with 40 percent of the vote against only 13 percent for Blanchard. The large spread suggests Vela is in strong run-off and general election position.

For the Republicans, in the district stretching from the southern tip of Tarrant County (Ft. Worth) into western Travis County (Austin), former Secretary of State Roger Williams, assuming that financial wherewithal is a determining factor, is poised to score a run-off victory against Tea Party activist and college professor Wes Riddle. Williams is projected to outspend Riddle by an 8:1 margin, but the latter should have a grassroots advantage. In a low turnout election, that could be significant but it is unlikely he can overcome Williams’ many advantages.

In the state’s fourth new district, the 36th CD to the north and east of Houston, first-place finisher Mark Takach, a financial advisor who placed just 350 votes ahead of former Rep. Steve Stockman in the primary, face each other tomorrow. The outcome here is difficult to predict. Takach is an unknown and Stockman served only one term back in 1995-97 in an adjoining area. The winner, however, becomes the prohibitive favorite for November.

In the open 14th District, the seat veteran congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul is vacating, two strong Republicans, state Rep. Randy Weber and Pearland City Councilwoman Felicia Harris, are fighting for the right to face ex-Rep. Nick Lampson (D) in the general election. The district clearly favors Republicans, but Lampson represented the Beaumont-Galveston region for four terms until his defeat in the redistricted 2nd CD that took him out of his regional base.

From the expansive district that stretches from San Antonio all the way to El Paso, another defeated congressman, Ciro Rodriguez, is attempting yet another comeback. He placed first in the May 29 Democrat primary and now faces state Rep. Pete Gallego in tomorrow’s run-off. The Democrat establishment is clearly behind Gallego, who most believe will be the stronger opponent to freshman Republican Rep. Quico Canseco, but the San Antonio base still appears to be a Rodriguez asset. The general election will be a toss-up in what is Texas’ only real marginal congressional district.

Sherman Up 17 Points in CA-30

In California, a just-released Feldman Group poll (July 14-19; 503 registered CA-30 voters) for Rep. Brad Sherman’s (D-CA-27) campaign gives their client a 46-29 percent advantage over fellow Democratic Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA-28) in this much-publicized general election incumbent pairing.

The new 30th District is a western San Fernando Valley congressional seat anchored in the cities of Sherman Oaks, Encino, Woodland Hills, and Northridge. Sherman represents 58 percent of the new constituency, while Berman only sees a 20 percent carry-over from his present district. The seat is heavily Democratic. Both men have spent a combined $6.8 million through June 30. The campaign has the potential of becoming the most expensive race in the history of the House of Representatives.

Under California’s new primary system, the top two candidates advance to the general election regardless of political party affiliation. The results yielded six Democrat vs. Democrat campaigns, of which CA-30 is one, and two Republican on Republican.

Brown | Warren

Mass. Senate Race Still Up for Grabs

Brown | Warren

The widely watched Massachusetts U.S. Senate race continues to be one of the country’s top campaigns and, as polling released this past week reveals, the contest remains too close to call. It has grown ever tighter over the past four months.

Democratic hopeful Elizabeth Warren is challenging incumbent and first-term Sen. Scott Brown. The Commonwealth, normally considered bedrock blue in a political context, chose Brown in early 2010 during a hard-fought special election campaign after veteran Sen. Ted Kennedy (D) passed away. Brown became a national name after becoming the first elected Republican senator in Massachusetts since 1972.

According to a poll released this past Tuesday from the MassINC research group for WBUR, the Boston National Public Radio station, Warren was shown to be leading with 40 percent support, while Brown registered 38 percent. The study, taken during the July 19-22 period, had a sample size of 503 registered voters. While the survey projects Warren to a two-point advantage, the margin of error factor is 4.4 percent; therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that the race remains a dead heat. In June, Public Policy Polling also released a survey putting the two in a virtual tie, with Sen. Brown running well among Independents.

Voters in Massachusetts appear to be warming to both Warren and Brown. This week’s poll reveals that Warren’s favorability rating stands at 47 percent, which is a 13-point jump from the last MassINC poll conducted in April. Brown’s positive index increased, too, reaching 50 percent, which is up from 46 percent as measured three months ago.

One category to watch here is the undecided vote. Historically in Massachusetts, the undecideds tend to move back toward their party’s incumbent as the election draws near. Should the undecided Democrats return to support Barack Obama over Mitt Romney in November, Warren could also benefit. If this current undecided model projection is correct, it will be Warren who has the greater room to grow, mostly because there are so many more Massachusetts Democrats than Republicans.

Sen. Brown is formerly a member of the Massachusetts State House of Representatives (1998-2004), and then the state Senate (2004-2010). He is also a practicing attorney and considered to be a moderate Republican, voting with his party approximately 80 percent of the time. Warren, a Harvard Law School professor, is considered to be an American bankruptcy law expert who provided oversight to the 2008 bailout program and oversaw the establishment of the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau.

Both candidates bring unique qualities to the race and, as polling has consistently indicated over a period of months, this battle appears to be too close to call. It is certainly a race to watch over the next 102 days.

Interesting Michigan Polls

With the Michigan primary fast approaching on Aug. 7, some new numbers suggest a tightening of the US Senate race while a separate poll provides a clue as to how a reapportionment-created incumbent pairing might end.

Rasmussen Reports (July 23; 500 likely Michigan voters) delivers findings that are much different from other previously published polls. Incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) has been consistently running substantially ahead of former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI-2). Looking at four polls conducted since May 1, including an earlier one from Rasmussen, Stabenow has led Hoekstra by an average of 12 points. In the latest RR July survey, her lead has shrunk to just six, 46-40 percent. When paired with Hoekstra’s Republican primary opponent, attorney and charter schools advocate Clark Durant, the senator’s advantage is 47-39 percent.

Durant has been trailing badly in polling but is now making a serious stretch drive effort, spending the more than $2 million he has raised for the race and benefiting from at least one $400,000 Super PAC expenditure. Hoekstra, however, is still the heavy favorite for the party nomination.

Turning to Detroit, two-term Rep. Gary Peters’ (D-MI-9) move to the 14th District in order to challenge his Democratic colleague, freshman Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-MI-13), may yet pay dividends. Despite the large African-American population in the 14th, Peters’ strategy of splitting the black vote among several candidates appears to be working. According to an automated 685 likely Democratic voter survey for local Fox 2 News, Peters has a 45-27 percent lead over Clarke, with the three second-tier candidates dividing the remaining votes.

Photo: The White House

Presidential Popular Vote is Even

President Obama. / Photo: The White House

A series of new presidential election polls reveals a further tightening of the campaign on the national level, though President Obama maintains a lead over Mitt Romney in the most competitive states.

The two daily tracking pollsters, Gallup and Rasmussen Reports, both give the president only a one-point national lead, 46-45 percent and 45-44 percent, respectively. Looking at an actual benchmark survey, Public Policy Polling, conducting their study (July 19-22; 1,000 registered voters) for the Daily Kos national liberal blog and the Service Employees International Union, projects a flat 46-46 percent tie.

The only national poll not showing a dead heat, taken over virtually the same time frame as PPP’s survey with an identical sample size (July 18-22; 1,000 registered voters) from Republican pollster Bill McInturff and his Democratic counterpart Peter Hart, actually stakes the president to a 49-43 percent advantage. Based upon the available data, though the polling methodology appears sound, the McInturff/Hart result appears to be an outlier.

National Public Radio released their poll of the 12 commonly viewed battleground states (conducted by the Resurgent Republic and Democracy Corps organizations, July 7-12; 1,000 voters nationwide with an oversample of 462 from the battleground states) but its aggregate result is of little consequence. Though this poll, too, shows an Obama-Romney tie at 46 percent, such a figure is virtually useless because the combined popular vote in the most hotly contested states doesn’t translate into specific electoral votes.

What is valuable are battleground voters’ perceptions and attitudes about the candidates. As we have seen for months, there is severe polarization between the two major parties. By almost a 9:1 majority, Democrats believe the president has performed well in office. Conversely, the same virtual ratio of Republicans believes he has not. Independents tend to fall more on the Republican side, slightly rating Obama’s job performance more negative than positive. Also, Independents in these states generally oppose the Obama healthcare law and, by a slight margin, believe that the Supreme Court decision upholding the law is incorrect. This could prove significant as the campaign continues to evolve.

One thing that does deviate somewhat from at least the conventional wisdom, the NPR battleground state poll does show that both candidates have a strong base. Especially for Romney, this is a change. Before, most data indicated weakness among Republicans for their presumptive nominee, but the NPR data gives both contenders right around 90 percent support within their own party voter cell sample. This finding is good news for both men.

New individual key state surveys stack up relatively well for the president in the fact that he leads in most, but in no case is his advantage more than mid-level single-digit numbers.

Rasmussen Reports gives the President a six-point, 48-42 percent advantage in Michigan. Survey USA finds a similar five-point, 48-43 percent margin for Obama in all-important Florida; and We Ask America returns similar 49-42 percent and 49-43 percent spreads (in Obama’s favor) in Wisconsin and Nevada, respectively. Magellan Strategies produced a much closer 50-46 percent Nevada model. Quinnipiac University shows a tie in Virginia, and the Civitas Institute projects Romney to a one point, 49-48 percent razor-thin edge in North Carolina. Though it’s not a battleground state, Survey USA detects only a 46-40 percent advantage for the president in liberal Minnesota, which is a surprise.

The cumulative effect of the most recent survey data makes the president and his advisers uncomfortable. These are not the type of results strong incumbents would be seeing at this point in the election cycle. It’s going to be quite a remainder of the year.

Is a Serious Race Developing in PA?

Yesterday, we mentioned two Senate races bridging the gap toward competitiveness, Florida and Ohio, but is a third campaign on the cusp of becoming a serious? A new Rasmussen Reports survey suggests that the Pennsylvania Senate contest, despite incumbent Bob Casey Jr. (D) holding a comfortable lead, is not yet clinched. Though Sen. Casey has had a controversy-free first term, he still does not exceed 50 percent support in various statewide polls. Rasmussen Reports (July 18; 500 likely Pennsylvania voters) gives Casey a 49-38 percent lead over the Republican nominee, businessman Tom Smith.

Casey destroyed former senator Rick Santorum 59-41 percent in 2006, but the 2012 political climate may be different. If this year is anything like 2010, when Republicans captured the other Senate seat, the governorship, gained five congressional seats, and won both houses of the state legislature, the Senate campaign could be headed toward battle status.

With President Obama running ahead in the Keystone State, but lagging behind where most Democrats begin in the state, Smith could become the beneficiary of a hard-fought, polarizing national campaign. Having enough personal money to become relevant, Smith may just seize the opportunity of putting this state in play. The period between now and Sept. 1 is a critical positioning time for the challenger. If he proves his viability during the current segment, then count on a wild finish.

Rep. Connie Mack IV

Several Races Tighten: Fla., Ohio, Calif.

Rep. Connie Mack IV

Four new polls were released on Friday and each showed developing races that are becoming close. In yet another study that depicts Rep. Connie Mack IV
(R-FL-14) performing very well against two-term Sen. Bill Nelson (D), Survey USA produces numbers reflecting a hot Florida Senate race. According to S-USA (July 17-19; 647 likely Florida voters), Mack actually leads the incumbent Democrat 48-42 percent. The same sample gives President Obama a 48-43 percent lead over Mitt Romney, telling us there is no Republican skew in the respondent sample.

Since May 1, eight public polls of this Florida race have been released from six different pollsters (Quinnipiac University conducted three of the surveys as part of their monthly polling program). In five of the eight Nelson leads. In the other three, challenger Mack has the advantage. The swing goes all the way from 49-36 percent in the senator’s favor (Public Policy Polling; May 31-June 3) to Mack leading 46-37 percent (Rasmussen Reports, July 9). This provides us a net curve of 22 points. Such a large polling variance often reveals an extremely volatile campaign with an electorate willing to change course on a dime. There has been enough polling to tell us that the Florida Senate race features true competition and the thought that Sen. Nelson would have a relatively easy ride to re-election has now been firmly dispelled.

Staying in the Senate, Rasmussen Reports (July 18; 500 likely Ohio voters) projects that the Ohio race is continuing upon a competitive path. The latest RR data gives first-term Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) a 46-42 percent lead over GOP state Treasurer Josh Mandel. The senator has maintained at least a small lead for most of the previous 12-month period. In the presidential race, this Rasmussen sample returned a 47-46 percent spread in the president’s favor.

Other polls have shown much stronger leads for Sen. Brown. Seven surveys have been taken of the Ohio Senate race since the beginning of May, from four different pollsters. All show Brown ahead. His advantage ranges from the four-point lead in the current Rasmussen poll all the way to sixteen (50-34 percent; Quinnipiac University, June 19-25).

Polling also indicates that two southern California congressional campaigns are very close. In the new 24th Congressional District, in what appears to be a pure 50/50 toss-up seat for incumbent Rep. Lois Capps (D), Public Opinion Strategies, polling for Republican Abel Maldonado’s campaign (June 26-28; 400 registered CA-24 voters just now released), projects a two-point race with the incumbent leading 48-46 percent. In the jungle primary, Capps received 46.4 percent, Maldonado obtained 29.7 percent, and Republican Chris Mitchum, son of late actor Robert Mitchum, garnered 21.5 percent. With the combined Republican primary vote exceeding a majority of the ballots cast (51.2 percent), the general election battle is clearly becoming a toss-up.

To the southeast in Long Beach, another survey indicates a close race developing in a newly created open seat, numbered District 47. Here, Democratic state Sen. Alan Lowenthal and Republican Long Beach City Councilman Gary DeLong qualified for the general election with the former scoring 33.8 percent to the latter’s 29.4 percent in a field of eight candidates.

Though this district sets up well for the Democrats, a Probolsky Research survey for the DeLong campaign (June 28-July 3, 400 registered CA-47 voters – released just now) gives Lowenthal only a 44-41 percent advantage as the general election campaign begins in earnest.

This race merits attention and should be considered a lower-level upset opportunity for Republicans. Lowenthal has been underwhelming on the fundraising front, raising just over $511,000, which pales in comparison to DeLong’s $862,908. Gov. Jerry Brown carried this seat 50-41 percent; Sen. Barbara Boxer won it 49-41 percent; and Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris lost the district 39-45 percent. The Democrats’ voter registration advantage is a little over 10 percent more than Republicans. This campaign carries a Lean Democratic rating with movement toward the toss-up column.

House Challengers Outraising Incumbents

The second quarter campaign fundraising totals are being released into the public domain, revealing a number of House challengers actually raising a greater amount of money than their incumbent opponents. Today we take a look at a few of those stand-out candidates.

In California, Independent Bill Bloomfield posted an impressive second quarter total of $1.299 million, most of it from himself, as compared to the $180,000 raised by his opponent, 37-year congressional veteran Henry Waxman (D). Bloomfield spent heavily to top a slate of six other candidates in the June 5 jungle primary for the right to challenge Rep. Waxman in the newly drawn 33rd congressional district. Bloomfield, a former Republican who turned Independent after co-founding the “No Labels” business, has self-contributed more than $1 million to his own campaign, but the move is apparently making him somewhat viable against Waxman.

As we all know, the amount of money one spends on his campaign is not always commensurate with victory. Such is likely to occur in the new 33rd, as the Democratic voting patterns in a presidential election year will, of course, favor the Democratic congressional candidate. Though we are likely to see Bloomfield wage a spirited battle, Waxman is still the decided favorite to win a 20th term in the House later this year even though he currently represents just less than half of the new CA-33.

Looking at the newly re-drawn 7th district of Colorado, incumbent Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D) may also be looking at a more formidable challenge than originally expected from Joseph Coors Jr., the great-grandson of brewer and Coors Beer Company founder, Adolph Coors. Mr. Coors reported taking in $787,000 in Q2 compared to Perlmutter’s $505,000. Reports indicate, however, that Coors made a personal contribution of $397,000 to his campaign during the quarter but, regardless of the source of his funding, the beer fortune heir and former CEO of different Coors Corporation-related businesses has spendable dollars in his campaign treasury.

Turning to Illinois, former US Veterans Affairs Assistant Secretary Tammy Duckworth (D) raised $889,000 in the second quarter as compared to Tea Party-backed incumbent Rep. Joe Walsh’s $318,000. Duckworth out-raised the freshman congressman by a better than 2:1 ratio. This race is sure to garner significant national attention come Election Day, and is one to watch. Arguably, IL-8 is the best Democratic conversion opportunity in the nation, and Duckworth’s candidate and fundraising abilities are putting her in position to take strong advantage of her political situation.

Finally, we take a look at the Sunshine State and a key race in Florida’s 10th Congressional district. Orlando former Police Chief, Val Demings (D) raised $292,000 in Q2 compared to freshman incumbent, Rep. Daniel Webster’s (R) $191,000. Demings has shown strong fundraising prowess with this being her fourth consecutive quarter bringing in more money than her incumbent opponent. The district, previously represented by Democrat Alan Grayson, switched from blue to red with Webster’s win in 2010 and became significantly more Republican in the GOP redistricting plan, by a net of nine points on the Obama-McCain 2008 presidential scale.

Additionally, the following candidates all raised more than their incumbent opponents during the 2nd quarter, meaning that we will likely hear from all of them before this election cycle concludes.

Democratic challengers raising more than their incumbent opponents:

  • Ami Bera – CA-7 – against Rep. Dan Lungren (R)
  • Eric Swalwell – CA-15 – paired with fellow Democratic Rep. Pete Stark
  • John Delaney – MD-6 – opposing Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R)
  • Bill Foster – IL-11 – challenging Rep. Judy Biggert (R)
  • Cheri Bustos – IL-17 – opposing Rep. Bobby Schilling (R)
  • Dave Crooks – IN-8 – against Rep. Larry Bucshon (R)
  • Ann McLane Kuster – NH-2 – challenging Rep. Charlie Bass (R)
  • Shelley Adler – NJ-3 – opposing Rep. Jon Runyan (R)
  • Uprenda Chivukula – NJ-7 – against Rep. Leonard Lance (R)

Only two Republican challengers forged passed their incumbent opponents in terms of cash raised in the 2nd Quarter:

  • Ricky Gill – CA-9 – challenging Rep. Jerry McNerney (D)
  • Richard Tisei – MA-6 – opposing Rep. John Tierney (D)
Laura Ruderman

Mother to the Rescue?

Candidate Laura Ruderman

In a unique twist of the new Super PAC phenomenon, it has now become public that a major funder of a certain six-figure independent negative campaign expenditure is the cancer-stricken mother of one of the many Democratic contenders in the open Washington 1st congressional district campaign. Candidate Laura Ruderman’s mother, Margaret Rothschild, is a principal contributor to Progress for Washington, an organization that is running attack ads against Democratic candidate Suzan DelBene. Ruderman claims to be unaware of her mother’s involvement with the group.

A new poll of the field, however, suggests that the outside effort is having little positive effect on Ruderman’s prospects. The survey, from DMA Market Research (June 29-July 2; 300 registered WA-1 voters) for the Steve Hobbs campaign, shows Ruderman trailing the rest of the field. Washington is a state that uses the “jungle” primary format where the top two candidates regardless of political party affiliation advance to the general election. According to the poll results, it is Republican John Koster who leads the pack with 30 percent, uniting the base GOP vote. In second place is two-time congressional candidate Darcy Burner with 13 percent, state Sen. Hobbs is third at 12 percent, DelBene, herself a former congressional nominee, follows posting 11 percent, and Ruderman, a former state representative, brings up the rear with just 5 percent of the projected vote.

The Washington primary is Aug. 7. The new 1st District is a Democratic seat, but has competitive potential during the 2012 general election. Incumbent Rep. Jay Inslee (D) resigned mid-term in order to concentrate on his campaign for governor.

Analyzing the North Carolina Run-off Elections

Yesterday’s North Carolina congressional run-off elections concluded with three districts producing Republican nominees, all with strong chances of winning the general election in November.

In the 8th District, occupying the area to the north and east of Charlotte and around Fayetteville, business consultant and former congressional aide Richard Hudson won a landslide 64-36 percent win over dentist and ex-Iredell County Commissioner Scott Keadle. Only 16,078 votes were cast in the secondary election, just under 4 percent of the entire universe of registered voters. It was a decisive win for Hudson, who built a coalition comprised of conservatives, Washington insiders, and North Carolina establishment individuals and entities. Some national conservative organizations, such as the Club for Growth, supported Keadle’s unsuccessful candidacy.

Hudson now challenges two-term Rep. Larry Kissell (D) in a district that has been radically re-configured. With the new 8th being 21 points better for Republicans based upon the Obama-McCain 2008 presidential election scale, and Kissell only currently representing 54 percent of the new territory, it is arguable that Hudson is now the favorite here even against the incumbent. Republican map architects designed this seat to be one of the best GOP conversion opportunities in the country, and Hudson is proving worthy of the task of unseating an incumbent. We will hear much more from this campaign in the coming weeks.

To the west, encompassing most of Charlotte proper and stretching northward more than half-way toward Winston-Salem, the 9th District also has a new Republican nominee. For all intents and purposes, last night’s vote actually selected the new congressman here because this seat trends safe Republican. With Rep. Sue Myrick (R) retiring after nine terms, 11 candidates ran in the original primary and the field whittled down to former state Sen. Robert Pittenger
and Mecklenburg County Commissioner and ex-sheriff Jim Pendergraph. As was the case in the primary, the result ended in relatively close fashion.

Mr. Pittenger, who spent more than $2 million of his own money and was the self-proclaimed most conservative candidate in the race, clinched a 53-47 percent win last night. The former state senator is now the prohibitive favorite to defeat Democratic Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jennifer Roberts in the general election.

The new 9th went for John McCain in 2008 by a 54-45 percent count, one point under the margin from the current 9th CD. Three-quarters of the territory remains constant in the new district. More than 35,000 people voted, the largest congressional turnout in the state. Though Pendergraph took Mecklenburg County by a 51-49 percent margin, Pittenger’s strong performance in Iredell (70-30 percent) and Union (57-43 percent) counties was enough to offset him losing the most populous area.

Moving to far western North Carolina, in the Asheville area seat being vacated by retiring three-term Democratic Rep. Heath Shuler, businessman Mark Meadows becomes the 2012 Republican nominee for the new 11th Congressional District. He swamped entrepreneur Vance Patterson 76-24 percent in a run-off race that was never close. Almost 23,000 votes were cast in this run-off, the second highest of the three congressional contests decided last evening.

Meadows will now face Democratic nominee Hayden Rogers, Shuler’s chief of staff. The Republican businessman has the inside track to victory in the general election because the post-redistricting 11th has swung hard toward the GOP. On the Obama-McCain scale, the new NC-11 is now the most Republican district in the state, moving a net 13 partisan points.

Because North Carolina figures to be the Republicans’ best state countrywide during these elections, and will neutralize a similar Democratic performance in Illinois, it is likely that all three men nominated last night will win their respective general elections. So, despite a statewide voter turnout of only 3.58 percent, this North Carolina run-off election will prove significant when painting the 2012 national political picture.

Photo: The White House

State Presidential Polling Tightens

Photo: The White House

Polling in the presidential race is interesting because the national numbers have been projecting a very tight race, but not particularly so for the key states. Several surveys released yesterday now show a pattern similar to the tight nationwide margins in the core states of Florida, Ohio and Virginia, and second-tier swing state, Colorado.

Nationally, Gallup, Marist College for the McClatchy Newspapers, and the Purple Strategies organizations all give President Obama a two-point lead over presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney. But, Rasmussen Reports projects Mr. Romney to be holding the same two-point lead. All of the polls were conducted during the July 9-15 period, though the Rasmussen data is derived from daily tracking surveys.

While the president’s numbers in Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Colorado have exceeded his national performance, such is not the case in the latest wave of studies.

In all-important Florida, Mason-Dixon Polling & Research gives Obama only a one-point, 46-45 percent razor-thin edge, but Purple Strategies (PS) actually detects a three-point Romney lead, 48-45 percent.

Ohio, where the president’s margins have typically been in the high single digits, now brandishes only a three-point Obama lead, 48-45 percent, again according to Purple Strategies.

To the west in Colorado, a state that Obama carried 54-45% in 2008, PS sees the president’s advantage dwindling to just one point, 45-44 percent.

Finally, in Virginia, where the Obama edge has been consistent and relatively strong, Purple Strategies forecasts that his Old Dominion lead is now down to just two points, 46-44 percent.

NC Run-offs Tomorrow

There are only two federal elections of any kind in July, and tomorrow’s North Carolina run-off vote will decide three GOP nominations. All Tar Heel State Democratic nominees and the other Republican standard bearers were chosen outright in the May 8 primary.

The 8th Congressional District occupies the area east and north of Charlotte on the way to Fayetteville. The post-redistricting NC-8, represented by two-term Democratic Rep. Larry Kissell, moves a net 21 points toward Republicans on the presidential scale. The new draw adds more than 45 percent new territory for Kissell, forcing him to move right in order to survive politically. He was one of five Democrats to vote to repeal Obamacare care last week after opposing previous such attempts. He originally voted against the legislation when it was first passed, and then fought repeal only to reverse course again, so his inconsistency on the subject could become a campaign issue.

Fighting for the Republican nomination are business consultant and former congressional aide Richard Hudson and dentist and ex-Iredell county commissioner Scott Keadle (pronounced Kay-dle). Hudson placed first in the five-candidate Republican primary, capturing 32.1 percent of the vote versus Keadle’s 22.0 percent. Both men are conservatives, but Hudson enjoys North Carolina Republican establishment support, House GOP leadership backing (Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s leadership PAC), and even landed the liberal Charlotte Observer newspaper’s endorsement.

The two candidates are about even in financial resources and each has invested six figures into his own campaign, though Keadle has loaned himself more than three times Hudson’s personal contribution amount. Because of its new partisan configuration, the winner of tomorrow’s run-off will likely become the 8th District’s new congressman.

Perched on the western side of Charlotte and then driving due north half-way to Winston-Salem is the new 9th Congressional District, open because nine-term Rep. Sue Myrick (R) is retiring. The GOP battle here, tantamount to victory in November, is between former state senator Robert Pittenger and Mecklenburg County Commissioner and former sheriff Jim Pendergraph. As in the 8th District, both men are running as conservatives. Myrick has endorsed Pendergraph, but Pittenger, because of a huge $2 million self-donation, has a major financial advantage. Pittenger placed first in the primary of eleven candidates, capturing 32.4 percent of the vote as compared to Pendergraph’s 25.3 percent. Tomorrow’s winner will claim the general election and keep the reliable GOP seat in the Republican column.

Farther to the west in the Asheville area, encompassing the entire western tail of the state, lies the 11th District. This seat, like both the 7th and 8th CDs, was changed heavily to the Republicans’ benefit. Eliminating most of the city of Asheville, with its Democratic voting base, from the 11th is the main reason that three-term Rep. Heath Shuler (D) decided not to seek re-election. Shuler’s chief of staff, Hayden Rogers, is the new Democratic nominee, but the 13-point GOP redistricting adjustment will give tomorrow’s Republican nominee the inside track to victory in November.

The two 11th District run-off participants are businessmen, each in their first political campaign. Real estate investor Mark Meadows, who captured 37.8 percent of the vote and missed winning outright by just over two percentage points (North Carolina’s run-off law requires only 40 percent of the vote to win a partisan nomination as opposed to 50 percent in all other states that use a two-tiered primary system), is favored over Vance Patterson who posted 23.6 percent in the field of nine candidates. Originally, it appeared that local District Attorney Jeff Hunt was the presumed favorite, but he performed poorly and both Meadows and Patterson blew past him to secure their run-off positions.

Through the end of June, Meadows held a healthy fundraising advantage, though about half of his campaign treasury is self-contributed. Patterson is his campaign’s virtual sole source of funds and pledges to donate all of his congressional salary to local western North Carolina charities, if elected. Look for a Mark Meadows victory tomorrow and in November.