Welcome! Lots of stuff to cover, so let's get to it.
1. Washington and Wisconsin Senate. Control of the United States Senate is in play this year, and it will likely come down to a handful of races -- notably California, Washington, and Wisconsin. While the Boxer-Fiorina debate in California grabbed headlines yesterday, and a new SurveyUSA poll shows Fiorina in the lead, there were developments in the other states.
Rasmussen has a new poll that shows Dino Rossi outpacing Patty Murray, 50-47 percent, when leaners are included. This is roughly in line with his recent results, as well as SurveyUSA's recent showing of a 52-45 Rossi edge.
What's going on here? Is this a fluke? Republicans in Washington? It can't be!
Sure it can!
Washington voted roughly in line with national trends in 1992 and 1996 -- giving Clinton 43 percent and 50 percent of the vote, respectively. Gore did about two points better in Washington than he did nationwide. Kerry and Obama did about five points better than their nationwide hauls. So, it stands to reason that, in an R+5-10 year, which is what this is shaping up to be, Washington would be in play. And remember, the Evergreen State was the site of the worst Democratic debacle of 1994, as the party lost 6 House seats from Washington alone that year. The GOP has a great challenger with Dino Rossi, so this pickup could happen.
Ditto the Badger State. Russ Feingold can trace an ideological line back to the state's progressive roots, but Wisconsin has been a swing state in recent cycles. Gore and Kerry won it by the narrowest of margins. Before that, the state showed some partiality to Ross Perot, who did better there than he did nationwide. The GOP has found a self-funder (not to mention a great fundraiser) in candidate Ron Johnson. He's already pouring in millions of his own dollars.
Johnson has spent $4 million on broadcast TV in the state compared to $1.4 million for Feingold, according to figures obtained from CMAG, a northern Virginia firm that tracks television advertising.
The numbers refer to ads aired this year in the state’s five TV markets: Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, La Crosse/Eau Claire and Wausau/Rhinelander. They do not include radio or cable television spots.
This helps explain the dead heat in the polling, as well as why Feingold has taken to calling himself the underdog.
2. House Polls. Here are the details on a slew of polls of Democratic-held districts in the West, conducted for the conservative American Action Forum. Leaders in italics. All Democrats are incumbents.
AZ-1: Gosar (R) 47, Kirkpatrick (D) 41
AZ-5: Schweikert (R) 50, Mitchell (D) 44
AZ-8: Kelly (R) 46, Giffords (D) 46
CA-11: Harmer (R) 45, McNerney (D) 44
CA-47: Tran (R) 43, Sanchez (D) 45
CO-3: Tipton (R) 51, Salazar (D) 43
CO-4: Gardner (R) 50, Markey (D) 39
NM-1: Barela (R) 42, Heinrich (D) 49
NV-3: Heck (R) 48, Titus (D) 45
OR-5: Brunn (R) 36, Schrader (D) 44
Note the numbers in California's 47th district. They help explain why the vice president is hosting a fundraiser for Loretta Sanchez.
These are miserable numbers for all the Democrats, even the ones in the lead.
Partisan polling like this should always be taken with a grain of salt, but one way to figure out if the numbers are reasonable is if the opposing side releases its own numbers shortly thereafter. So far this cycle, I've seen very few Democratic numbers coming out. I'll let you know if any of these Democrats respond.
New polling on VA-5, where Democrat Tom Perriello barely edged by Democrat-turned-Independent-turned-Republican Virgil Goode in 2008, shows the incumbent Democrat in big trouble. SurveyUSA has him down 26 points. Jamelle Bouie of The American Prospect suspects its because he is too liberal for his district.
3. Labor Hedges? This is from Politico:
Facing an angry and skeptical electorate, the AFL-CIO plans to scale back its political advertising budget for the midterm elections, convinced that its members can more effectively reach voters than the usual raft of TV spots in support of Democratic candidates.
“We think this election requires more face-to-face contact,” Richard Trumka, the union’s president, told POLITICO Wednesday, acknowledging a tough environment in which Republicans are seeking to take advantage of voter frustrations about the economy.
No details as to why face-to-face communicating is better this year, or why amping up one requires cutting back the other. Per Bloomberg, it appears as though their cutbacks will not be randomly distributed. Instead, health care defectors will be the ones to get the cold shoulder.
Leaders of organized labor helped Democrats win the White House and expand their control of Congress two years ago, only to find some candidates they supported didn’t return the favor with votes for the health-care measure that passed or a union- organizing bill that stalled. Now, unions say they may spend $88 million on campaigns in the November election, and certain Democrats shouldn’t count on getting a share.
“Each union should have the right to support whoever they want to support based on the issues they care about,” Karen Ackerman, political director of the 11 million-member AFL-CIO, the largest U.S. labor federation, said in an interview.
The piece singles out Zack Space, one of the few House Democrats to vote for health care in November then against it in March. That is a tough spot for the southeastern Ohio sophomore, as I'm betting his constituents will hold him accountable for his first vote while labor holds him accountable for his second.
Not only have Democrats alienated the independents and swing voters who swept them into office in 2006 and 2008, they apparently have disgruntled their base supporters. That's quite a feat.
Still, I wonder if this AFL-CIO pullback will actually happen, or if it's a bluff of some kind. After all, a Democratic party without the AFL-CIO is like a Mick Jagger solo album without Keith Richards. It just doesn't work.
4. Wha? I just about fell out of my chair when I read this:
Veteran Rep. John Dingell is telling donors he could be in trouble in November.
"This year I need your maximum financial contribution to my campaign," the Michigan Democrat wrote to supporters in a fundraising letter Thursday.
"Come November 2nd I intend to make sure he is sorely disappointed," Dingell tells his donors.
"My opponent is running with the tea party and he claims he will invest his quite substantial personal fortune in his effort to defeat me. He is running around with a poll showing that I am vulnerable."
That poll, an internal survey for Republican Rob Steele's campaign, puts the challenger in striking distance, down just 51 percent to 42 percent, in a matchup against the longest-serving member of the House.
Dingell?!5. Ranking Changes. Big changes from Charlie Cook and Larry Sabato. Cook updated his forecast a few days ago to predict a GOP pickup of the House. He's now downgraded Democratic prospects in 10 more House seats. Moving to "Toss-Up" status are AZ-1, AZ-5, CO-3, TX-23, and WI-8. Moving to "Lean Democrat" status are FL-22, IL-17, MI-9, NC-11, and WA-2. Larry Sabato, meanwhile, is now calling for a Republican pickup of 47 seats in the House.
Keep in mind that these rankings often yield progressively worse results for the endangered party as the bad year rolls on. That's why the numbers keep changing, but only in one direction. My hunch is that by the time we get to November, Cook and Sabato will both have estimates of 50+.