Senate Race Analysis 2013-2014 (Archive)

2013-2014 Senate:

General Overview:

Thanks largely to their brilliant performance in the last election, the Republicans are facing the unenviable task of gaining six more seats if they want a majority.  Helping them is a bright red map in which the Republicans could accomplish their goal solely through states in which Mitt Romney cleaned Obama's clock in 2012.  Unfortunately, that didn't work too well last time around (two links).  

Safe DLikely DLeans DTossupLeans RLikely RSafe R
Delaware
Hawaii
Illinois
New Mexico
Rhode Island
Massachusetts
Minnesota
Oregon
Virginia
Iowa
Michigan
New Hampshire
Alaska
Arkansas
Colorado
Louisiana
North Carolina
Georgia
Kentucky
Montana
South Dakota
West Virginia
Alabama
Idaho
Kansas
Maine
Mississippi
Nebraska
Oklahoma 1
Oklahoma 2
South Carolina 1
South Carolina 2
Tennessee
Texas
Wyoming

Alabama Safe R Incumbent Jeff Sessions (R)


This one should be obvious.  It's Alabama.

Alaska Tossup Incumbent Mark Begich (D)


Begich was elected in a fluke by barely defeating a man convicted of a felony just before the election in one of the most Republican states in the union (at least for Senate races).  On paper he should have already lost.  But his popularity's held up pretty well and recent polling has found him significantly leading most potential opponents save unlikely candidate Governor Sean Parnell.  More likely Republican candidates include Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman, Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan, and 2010 nominee Joe Miller.  Republicans can at least take comfort in the fact that Miller is unpopular even with his own party and thus unlikely to win the nomination, which would have disastrous consequences.

(4/15/13) Miller is exploring.  Republicans should keep an eye on this, because if he wins the nomination, it's probably game over.  He has favorability numbers worse than Todd Akin, and Begich is much better positioned than Claire McCaskill.  In a head-to-head match, Begich would approach 60% of the vote, with a near-30% margin over Miller.

(4/29/13) Begich's vote against Toomey-Manchin seems to have at least slightly backfired, and his approval rating is down (scroll down at link).

(5/5/13) Not really surprising, but Parnell will run for reelection as Governor rather than challenge Begich.  Look for Republican to try to get Sullivan or Treadwell in the race.

(5/14/13) Stuart Rothenberg has a good analysis of the new Harper poll commissioned for a Tea Party group backing a draft campaign to run Sarah Palin, and I encourage you to read the whole thing.  Beyond the Palin aspects, Republicans should take heart that Treadwell is 19 points ahead of Miller.

(5/23/13) Sullivan won't run.  Treadwell is now probably Republicans' best option.

(5/24/13) On the case of Begich's Toomey-Manchin vote, I should note that the polling of the issue is pretty divergent.  Despite PPP's findings in the poll referenced on (4/29/13), I believe Begich probably net helped himself with his vote.

(5/28/13) Miller is officially running.

(5/28/13) This Time piece indicates Michael Bloomberg's group Mayors Against Illegal Guns will be opposing Begich over background checks (see Arkansas below for more general implications of this).  The ironic thing is that here MAIG is even more likely to end up inadvertently helping Begich.  Unlike Pryor (again, see below), who has a significant base of African-American voters they can target for demoralization, Begich isn't to my knowledge heavily reliant on an easily-targetable group who can be turned off by opposition to Toomey-Manchin.

(6/12/13) Perhaps more interesting than important, but Treadwell has been photographed (fourth item) with a bottle of wine labeled "No Joe No More' and a picture of Miller (image).

(6/12/13) Bloomberg is trying to dry up Begich's donations.

(6/18/13) Hotline's sources say Treadwell will declare his candidacy today, as Republicans breathe a sigh of relief (or at least I do).  Begich v. Treadwell would start out advantage Begich, but it's a heck of a lot better than Begich v. Miller.  Treadwell will have to get through Miller in the primary first, but that shouldn't be too much trouble, according to the pollling.  State Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan - not the same guy as the other Dan Sullivan mentioned earlier - is also expected to run.

(6/18/13) I wrote the previous entry, went to The Hill's Ballot Box blog, and right there at the top was this piece saying Treadwell had announced.  I don't have much more to say here except to make a personal comment that the DSCC guys are getting really annoying (I've complained about them in other entries further down).

(6/27/13) This is interesting news: A Begich (and Murkowski) donor has set up a SuperPAC planning to spend millions to make the race about "Alaska issues".  In practice it looks more like a big Begich defense fund.  He definitely doesn't like Miller and didn't seem impressed with Treadwell or Sullivan (though if Miller wins the nomination, this guy not liking him is the least of his problems).

(7/9/13) Sarah Palin might run as well.  She's not the force in Alaska politics she used to be, so if she did run - which is still pretty unlikely - she might not make it out of the primary, particularly if she splits the vote with Miller.  If she did win the nomination, she'd be disadvantaged against Begich - not as badly as Miller, but still fairly badly.  PPP and Harper put Palin's net approval at -25 and -26, respectively, and had her trailing by 7 and 16.

(7/30/13) PPP has a new poll out on the race, and it contains both good and bad news for Republicans.  The good: Begich isn't terribly popular, with approve/disapprove numbers at 42/41.  Both Sullivan and Treadwell have net positive favorability and trail by fairly small margins (7 and 4, respectively).  Begich does not get a majority against either, and he gets under 45% against Treadwell.  Miller would still be a disaster, but the chances of his becoming the nominee look pretty low - his unfavorables among Republicans are above 50%, and he trails in all primary matchups by between 9% and 23% - and Treadwell's chances are fairly high - in the most likely matchups, he leads by 8 and 23.  The bad news: If Palin runs she leads Treadwell, Miller, and Sullivan by 10, but has net favorability of -19 (among general election voters) and trails Begich 52/40.

(8/24/13) Palin indicates she won't run but leaves the possibility open.

(9/1/13) The SuperPAC I mentioned in (6/27/13), Alaska First PAC, hasn't been doing so well.

(9/12/13) Sullivan in.  His presence will make it easier for Miller to win, but still quite difficult.  In PPP's last poll, they tested the three candidates in a primary, and Miller still came in (an albeit very close) third.

(9/23/13) Palin still isn't ruling out a run, but says she'll probably endorse someone.

(10/18/13) Begich brought in a decent amount of money last quarter - just over $800,000.  It's less than what a lot of other Democrats took in, but Alaska is a pretty small state, and it looks great next to Treadwell's terrible $196,000.

(11/22/13) Parnell won't be getting involved in the primary between Sullivan and Treadwell.

(11/27/13) Kyle Trygstad of At The Races has an interesting point - Alaska Republicans will have two Dan Sullivans on their primary ballot (one running for Senate, and one - the Anchorage Mayor mentioned in the first few entries of this blog - running for Lieutenant Governor), and occurrence which could end up benefiting both of them.  Read it here.

(1/14/14) Well, Sullivan certainly established himself as an alternative to Treadwell, with $1.25 million in fundraising.

(1/27/14) Meanwhile, Treadwell took in less than a fifth of what Sullivan raised.

(2/5/14) Begich doesn't appear to have suffered much from the Democrats' recent troubles, according to PPP, leading Treadwell by 6 (up from 4 last July), Miller by 20 (down from 23), and Sullivan by 4 (down from 7), and his approval rating is largely unchanged.  That said, there are a couple of things that should have Begich worried.  His lead over Palin is down 8, and he's now well below a majority against Palin and Miller. That doesn't mean Miller is a threat to him (his nomination would still be a disaster), but if Begich can't get over a majority against a guy even a majority of Republicans don't like... Meanwhile, Treadwell's position in the primary has deteriorated, and he now trails Sullivan by 5, which is not a good position considering his financial disadvantage.

(3/4/14) Democrats are already hitting Sullivan.

(3/12/14) Now the Club for Growth is endorsing Sullivan, giving him both establishment and Tea Party support.


Arkansas Tossup Incumbent Mark Pyor (D)


Pryor is in a position similar to Begich, with the added advantage of being considered strong enough in 2008 that no Republicans filed to challenge him (then again, there weren't all that many Republicans in Arkansas elected office then, so we probably shouldn't read too much into this).  There hasn't been any polling yet that I can find, so I'm calling this Leans D out of an abundance of caution.  The most likely Republican candidate appears to be Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, though Rep. Steve Womack and just-elected rising star Rep. Tom Cotton are other possibilities.

(5/12/13) Mayors Against Illegal Guns seem determined to try to make an example of Pryor over the Toomey-Manchin bill vote.  Depending on how they do this, they might end up helping Pryor, though National Journal had a piece a couple months ago about their clever strategy to go about this: use direct calls to Pryor's black base telling them he opposes President Obama's agenda.

(5/19/13) I should note that there was a poll sponsored awhile ago for the Club For Growth that showed Cotton leading Pryor 43-35, but I have doubts about its reliability.  Annoyingly, no one else has to my knowledge done any polling on this race.

(5/24/13) MAIG has $350,000 in ads up and running over the next couple of weeks.  The article doesn't say where they're running, but I think the effectiveness of simply blanketing the state is in doubt; if they try that they might even help Pryor.

(5/24/13) Hotline-On-Call at National Journal has more information about the MAIG ad, including the ad itself.  They come to a similar conclusion.  They also say that the ads are running statewide, and note that $350,000 is a pretty significant amount of money for Arkansas' small, cheap money market.

(5/28/13) Kyle Trygstad at Roll Call Politics has a good piece here.

(5/28/13) Time's Swampland blog has a piece on MAIG's ads here.  According to them, the group is, in fact, deliberately trying to undermine Pryor's crucial support from African-Americans.

(5/29/13) According to Politico, MAIG are explicitly targeting blacks.  Meanwhile, The Senate Conservatives Action PAC is hitting Pryor from the right with a $320,000 ad buy.  The fact that so many are targeting Pryor makes me wonder whether he's a lot more vulnerable than he appears, but I'm keeping this Leans D until I see some polling to back it up.

(5/29/13) Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post argues that some Democratic attacks against Cotton will backfire as well.

(5/31/13) Pryor fires back with an ad buy of his own.  That he's running ads this early, even if in response to attacks, is, I think, another sign of vulnerability. Meanwhile, the polling blackout continues.  PPP did a poll about attitudes about background checks in GA, TN, and AR.  In Arkansas they didn't even ask about approval ratings, even though they did in Georgia and Tennessee.

(6/2/13) Expect this to figure prominently in Republican ads.

(6/8/13) Upon further reflection, I think calling this a Tossup better reflects the state of the race.  Even if the Club for Growth poll overstates Pryor's vulnerability (as it probably does), it still has him down 8 points.  They probably aren't off by the 15+ point margin that would justify Leans D.  Meanwhile, there are other signs of Pryor's vulnerability discussed above.

(6/12/13) Bloomberg is trying to dry up Pryor's donations.

(6/13/13) Pryor, at least temporarily, has the NRA on his side.  I'm not sure they'd get in the middle of a campaign between Pryor and a pro-gun Republican, but it helps him to have them highlighting and rebutting Bloomberg's attacks statewide.

(6/25/13) Darr says he is unlikely to run.  All eyes now on Cotton.

(6/27/13) The Senate Conservatives fund has released a poll showing Pryor leading Cotton by one but with undecideds leaning against him (or at least that's what they say).  I suspect this one, like the Club for Growth poll, overstates Pryor's vulnerability, but with no one else interested in this race, I have to take what I can get.

(7/1/13) Darr says there is a 75% chance of him running for Cotton's House seat if it becomes vacant.

(7/15/13) Finally found a non-internal poll (thanks to Nate Silver).  No head-to-heads, but they do ask Pryor's approval rating - not terrible, but not great either - 41.5% to 35%.

(7/30/13) Cotton is looking like a candidate.

(7/31/13) He's in.

(8/5/13) A new poll from AFSCME has Pryor leading Cotton by 8 (43/35) Pryor's favorability is pretty good (47/34); Cotton's is decent (28/22).  Even if you set aside the fact that as, essentially, an internal poll, it probably overstates Pryor's strength, this isn't necessarily good news for him, as he's pretty far below a majority.

(8/5/13) Cameron Joseph of The Hill points out one result from the poll suggesting a significant Democratic skew: Obama's approval rating is 41%, while he received 37% of the vote in the last election.  It's hard to suggest his approval rating has improved since then.

(8/6/13) There's finally been a non-internal public poll of the race.  Harper finds generally good news for Republicans: Cotton leads by 2, Pryor has -2 net favorability, -10 net job approval, and voters say by 15 points he does not deserve to be reelected.  In the head-to-head, Pryor gets only 41%.  Respondents say by 36 points Pryor generally votes for Obama's policies, and they give the president a -33 net job approval.  Harper tends to lean Republican (at least relative to PPP, but not enough to significantly alter the results of the poll.

(8/8/13) Harry Enten has a very good piece here.  I encourage you to read it.

(8/12/13) Another poll:  An NRSC internal poll has Cotton starting out two points ahead of Pryor, with Pryor only getting 42% of the vote.  Better news for Republicans: Cotton's lead explodes to 22 points (55/33) when respondents are informed of the candidates' respective positions on Obamacare (simply that Pryor voted for it and Cotton voted to repeal it; nothing leading).

(8/12/13) One more: A poll for the Washington Free Beacon has Pryor with 45% of the vote compared to Cotton's 43%.  On the other hand it has the same problems as the AFSCME poll a few entries up; President Obama's approval rating is unrealistically high at 42%, suggesting some poor sampling.  With everything that's been happening the past few days, I think I'll change this to Tossup/Adv. Cotton.

(9/9/13) Pryor performs decently in a new Democratic poll, beating Cotton 43/37, and 47/41 with leaners counted.  Pryor is still formidable, though I still suspect Cotton is advantaged here.

(10/18/13) In this new PPP poll, Pryor leads by 3.  After respondents are asked about the Tea Party and government shutdown, and told Pryor opposed the shutdown and Cotton supported it, Pryor leads by ... 3.  Frankly, I'm just glad they finally did the damn poll.

(10/19/13) Cotton and Pryor effectively tied on fundraising, with just about $1 million each.

(10/23/13) Pryor's approval is 10 points underwater, though the head-to-head is "too close to call".

(10/23/13) A Cotton internal has Pryor down by 4.  Not surprisingly, the poll find Obama and Obamacare hugely unpopular (the memo describes them as "a pair of concrete shoes [for Pryor] to wear to the pool party" - I will definitely be appropriating this phrase for my own use).  60% view Obama unfavorably and 62% view Obamacare unfavorably, and, more importantly, majorities view each 'very unfavorably'.

(10/29/13) Democrats are filing an ethics complaint against Cotton.  I don't know whether it will go anywhere, but you can expect it to be heavily featured regardless.

(12/9/13) Pryor trails by 7 in a poll for Citizens United.

(12/16/13) And ties Cotton 44/44 in a PPP poll.  That's basically it.

(1/23/14) Cotton narrowly outraised Pryor again.

(2/6/14) Rasmussen has Cotton up 5.

(2/20/14) An Impact Management poll has Cotton leading Pryor by 4.

(3/10/14) Hickman Analytics has a new poll out.  With 3rd-party candidates included, Pryor leads by 3 among all respondents, while Cotton leads by 2 among definite voters.  Without 3rd-party candidates, Pryor ties among all respondents and Cotton leads by 9 among definite voters.


Colorado Tossup Incumbent Mark Udall (D)


The Republicans' top candidate here seems to be Rep. Cory Gardner.  Others include Secretary of State Scott Gessler, State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, Attorney General John Suthers, and a couple of former officeholders: ex-Rep. Bob Beauprez and ex-Lt. Gov. Jane Norton.  Regardless whether the Republicans can find a candidate, Udall is a reasonably popular incumbent in a blue-ing state, so the Republicans will have better targets elsewhere.

(4/18/13) Udall's job approval is now +17.  He leads Beauprez by 7 and all other major state Republicans by double digits.  He has to be pleased with these results.  It's also worth noting the Republicans tested are uniformly disliked.

(5/29/13) Gardner won't run.  According to the Denver Post, Suthers and 2010 candidate Ken Buck aren't interested either.

(5/30/13) The Republican search for a candidate continues. State Solicitor General Dan Domenico, Stapleton, and (reportedly) retired general Gene Renaurt have all said no.  Suthers and Beauprez are still possibilities, and the article seems to indicate Beauprez will run.  State Sen. Randy Baumgardner is another possibility.

(6/14/13) Mark Udall has lower reelect numbers than he previously did, according to Quinnipiac.  Voters say 40-33 he deserves to be reelected and approve of him 45-31.  That's still good territory, but under the important 50% mark.

(7/3/13) State Sen. Owen Hill is considering running as a Republican.

(7/3/13) Ken Buck is thinking about it as well.

(7/8/13) Baumgardner is running.  At least the Republicans have a candidate, though I suspect they'll need a stronger one to really threaten Udall.  If nothing else, he'll be at a huge disadvantage in terms of name recognition and fundraising.

(7/9/13) Hill is also running.  I doubt he'll be any stronger than Baumgardner.

(8/7/13) Buck's in.

(9/18/13) I hadn't bothered to say anything about this race after the recalls, but this piece is pretty good.

(10/14/13) State Rep. Amy Stephens is in.  In terms of general election strength, I'd consider he Buck-like (i.e., I think she'd have trouble expanding beyond the conservative base).  In the primary, I'd expect her to derive support from those who would otherwise vote for Buck.

(10/19/13) Buck and Hill raised around $300,000 each, a fairly poor haul, while Udall took in $1.1 million.

(11/20/13) Udall appears to have taken a big hit from the Obamacare troubles.  His net approval is now zero, according to Quinnipiac, and voters say by 6 points he doesn't deserve to be reelected.  He leads (weak) Republican challengers by single digits.  He beats Buck and businessman Jaime McMillan by 3, Baumgardner by 5, Hill by 6, Stephens by 7, and businessman Mark Aspiri by 9.  I'll keep this at Likely D for now because of the weakness of the Republican field and because I don't know how long this is going to last.  If a stronger Republican like Norton, Beauprez, or Gardner gets in, or if this holds up for a few months, I'll change the rating.

(12/6/13) PPP's new results pretty clearly reflect Quinnipiac's.  Buck has a huge lead in the primary.

(2/6/14) Udall is stuck in the mid- and low-forties in Quinnipiac's newest poll, and leads Buck by 3, Baumgardner by 2, Stephens by 2, Hill by 5, and McMillan by 7.  Colorado has been pretty clearly moving right this cycle, and I think Leans D would more accurately reflect the state of the race.  That said, Buck is definitely a suboptimal candidate, and it'd have to take a pretty big Republican wave to win him this race, given his failure in the last one.

(2/11/14) Interesting ... the Tea Party Express is endorsing Hill.

(2/26/14) Big news.  The Republicans are pulling a bit of a candidate switch.  Gardner will run, Buck is out (to run for Gardner's seat), and reports are Stephens is also out.  This is now a Tossup/Adv. Udall.  As I've been saying here, much of what has been keeping Republicans down in this race has been the lack of a decent candidate.  Gardner provides that, while Buck's leaving the race makes it much more likely he'll win the primary.  It's possible Gardner could still be upset in the primary (though I don't think that's too likely as Hill and Baumgardner lack both poll standing and fundraising), but for now, this is a big coup for Colorado Republicans.

(2/28/14) McMillan is also out, but not everyone is happy with Gardner: the Tea Party Express is still backing Hill.

(3/10/14) The first post-Gardner-entrance poll is out.  Rasmussen has him trailing Udall 41-42.

(3/13/14) Another poll - though pre-Gardner - has Udall vulnerable.  Hickman Analytics has him up 4 on Buck among likely voters and up 3 among definite voters.

Delaware Safe D Incumbent Chris Coons (D)


I don't know anything about accidental Senator Chris Coons' popularity, but Delaware is bright blue, so he should be safe unless 76-year-old former Rep. Mike Castle decides to make an improbable comeback.  Also watch out for a potential primary from state AG Beau Biden.

(7/23/13) Christine O'Donnell is thinking about another run.  Meanwhile, I think this race would more accurately be called Safe D.  These two developments are related.

(10/26/13) The headline on this article should have been 'Poll Confirms What Everyone Already Knew'.

(12/8/13) It was always unlikely, but Castle doesn't appear to have any interest in running.  Biden doesn't appear to be interested in running either, though a new University of Delaware / Princeton Survey Research Associates poll finds him to be a lot more popular than Coons (+45 net favorability vs. +25), suggesting he would be a formidable force in the primary.


Georgia Leans R Incumbent Saxby Chambliss (R) (Retiring)


Todd Akin looms over this race: one declared candidate (Rep. Phil Gingrey) got caught saying he was partly right, while another (Rep. Paul Broun) is already inviting comparisons.  A Richard Mourdock-like situation could occur here, where an extreme Republican loses out to a moderate Democrat in a winnable race.  Beyond that, the primary looks to be quite messy on the Republican side.  There are already three declared candidates (Broun, Gingrey, and Rep. Jack Kingston), and every 2+-term Republican save one in the state's delegation appears to be taking a look, as well as Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and former state Sec. of State Karen Handel.  Potential Democrats include State Sen. Jason Carter and Rep. John Barrow (the last white Democrat Rep from the Deep South), though their strongest (albeit unlikely) candidate would be popular former Senator Max Cleland.  Democrats haven't won a major statewide race in Georgia for over a decade, but the possibility that the Republicans could nominate a toxic candidate like Broun keeps this as Leans R (I should note, however, that Georgia's runoff law makes this very unlikely, as Broun can't even crack positive favorability among his own party).

(3/19/13) Maybe I jumped the gun a bit in saying Gingrey was declared.  This article indicates he will declare soon, but has not officially done so.

(5/9/13) I can't believe I haven't written anything about this race in almost two months.  A lot's been happening.  Kingston and Gingrey are both official candidates; we can probably expect at least one or two more Republican candidates: either Price or Handel (but probably not both), and maybe businessman David Perdue and/or businesswoman Kelly Loeffler.  On the Democratic side, Barrow will not run, and Democrats are now looking to philanthropist Michelle Nunn.

(5/10/13) Price won't run, so Handel probably will.

(5/17/13) Handel is in the race.

(5/19/13) Nunn recently attended a DSCC fundraiser with President Obama, indicating she will probably run.

(5/21/13) Nunn is expected to decide within a few weeks.

(5/24/13) According to The Hill, Nunn is actively preparing for a race and is expected to announce in early summer.  A poll from the progressive group Better Georgia indicates this would be competitive, though I still think a non-toxic Republican will have a definite advantage.  The Republican primary poll came up with pretty standard results - all four close together between 10 and 20 percent of the vote.  Republicans might be a bit concerned that Broun jumps to 33% and a 13 point lead after reading of short bios; however, I think that's mostly because Broun was identified as "one of the most conservative members of Congress", whereas Handel, Kingston, and Gingrey were identified simply as "conservatives".  That's not going to be the image primary voters will have in their minds when they go to vote, particularly if, as I expect, Broun is significantly outspent.  You can check the bios out at the link to come to your own judgment about whether or not they are leading.

(6/8/13) There is yet another Republican candidate - Derrick Grayson.  He looks like he would appeal to a more libertarian segment of the primary electorate. His prospects look to be pretty minor.  As far as I know, he seems pretty unknown and poorly funded.

(7/12/13) The Democrats have their first candidate - "Dr. Rad" Branko Radulovacki.  Interesting guy, but I doubt he'll take off as he faces many of the same problems as Grayson.  Meanwhile, a judge has ordered the primary to be held a month and a half earlier to allow enough time for military and absentee ballots in the runoff.  The speculation is that a longer runoff might help a guy like Broun - assuming he makes it - with Ted Cruz' performance in the Texas senate race last year cited as an example.  I think that's mistaken.  Cruz was a good candidate whose main problem was that he started the race virtually unknown.  Broun has less of a need to build name recognition as, unlike Cruz, he starts about on par with most of the other candidates, and his main problem is that he spends half the time with his foot in his mouth.  Broun is a guy with less wide appeal to the primary electorate than Cruz, so he'll be hampered by the need to get more than 50% of the vote.

(7/15/13) Another problem for Broun - he's just a terrible fundraiser, bringing in less $400,000, compared to $800,000 for Kingston.

(7/22/13) The big news tonight is that Nunn is in.  Meanwhile, businessman Eugene Yu has jumped in on the Republican, and (I should have mentioned this months ago) businessman David Perdue - brother of the former Governor - has an exploratory committee up.

(7/23/13) If you include Perdue in the field, a Republican candidate could now theoretically advance to the runoff with less than 15% of the vote.

(7/24/13) Perdue in; businesswoman Kelly Loeffler is also considering.  If she gets in as well, I could easily see no candidate get more than 20% of the vote.

(8/4/13) Democrats are rallying around Nunn.

(8/6/13) There's an interesting new poll out from PPP.  The toplines initially are encouraging for Democrats; Nunn ties Gingrey and Perdue, and leads Kingston and Handel by 2, Broun by 5, Grayson by 6, and Yu by 7.  However, Nunn only gets 40-42% of the vote, which hovers around the standard Georgia Democratic percentage of the vote, and the undecideds are much more Republican than the state as a whole.  Most of the Republicans have the fairly standard single-digit-or-low-double-digit negative net favorability that tends to show up for most poorly known candidates in PPP polls (I don't have an explanation for this).  The exceptions are Broun with -14 (for obvious reasons) and Yu and Grayson with -16 and -17 (I'm not sure what's driving this either). Grayson's and Yu's numbers (4/20 and 5/22) are particularly notable.  The primary is a wide-open tossup.  Gingrey gets 25%, Broun 19, Kingston 15, Handel 13, Perdue 5, Grayson 3, and Yu less than 1.  Yu and Perdue should be able to self-fund out of those low numbers.

(8/27/13) The primary has been moved to May 20th, something which could help centrist candidates over someone like Broun, as turnout will probably be higher.

(9/6/13) This article from the Atlanta-Journal Constitution looks interesting (I'm not a subscriber), so subscribers or other interested parties may want to check it out.  Meanwhile, Handel's started the ad war, and Loeffler will announce a decision soon.

(10/8/13) Kingston had another solid fundraising quarter.

(10/8/13) Nunn brought in a very impressive $1.7 million.

(10/10/13) Perdue raised $800,000 and donated another $1 million to his campaign.

(10/14/13) Gingrey had a pretty poor fundraising quarter, with less than $300,000 in receipts, though his $2.5 million cash on hand is a nice cushion.

(10/19/13) Handel and Broun also brought in around $300,000.

(10/21/13) Yu has an interesting new ad out.

(10/26/13) Kingston says there's a 50% chance Loeffler gets in; she's expected to decide by early November.  If she does enter, it is theoretically possible 2 candidates could advance to the runoff with less than 13% of the vote (and that there would be a runoff would be effectively certain).

(11/4/13) Loeffler out.

(11/13/13) Gingrey is running ads saying that he'll retire after one term if he doesn't repeal Obamacare in that time.  This is a bit disingenuous, given that he'd be 79 by the end of his first term and thus likely to retire anyway.  Still, it's a good tactic that will probably help him.

(11/19/13) Gingrey's campaign just got hit with a big staff shakeup.

(11/25/13) Meanwhile, Kingston is taking an interesting tack.

(11/27/13) Perdue has plenty of self-funding capacity.

(11/28/13) There is now an eighth Republican running - engineer and attorney Art Gardner.  Because why not?  Meanwhile, Nunn has drawn a more serious primary opponent than 'Dr. Rad'.  Former State Sen. Steen Miles, who appears to be running to Nunn's left (but not making it explicitly about Nunn).

(1/28/14) I can't believe I haven't written about this is two months.  Anyway, Kingston is making a big ad buy, to the tune of $1.3 million.

(2/3/14) Well, all the quarter four fundraising reports are out.  Nunn blew away all the Republicans, with $1.6 million raised compared to almost $900,000 for the best Republican, Kingston.  Perdue brought in $750,000, including a $500,000 personal loan.  Gingrey brought in the least, at just $137,000, but he still has well over $2 million cash on hand.  Handel and Broun are in the worst position, with low fundraising barely or not even covering fourth quarter spending, and low cash on hand.

(2/4/14) Gingrey is ahead in a new poll for Citizens United (which supports Broun).  The results are Gingrey 19, Handel 14, Broun 13, Kingston 11, and Perdue 8.  Meanwhile, in another headache for the establishment, Broun (and Grayson and Yu) said they would vote to impeach Obama if given the chance, which should be very popular among some of the base.  Even though most of those elements are probably already backing Broun, as I've mentioned before, in a field as big as this one any candidate doesn't need too much support to win a spot in the runoff.  Meanwhile, it looks like some of the more mainstream candidates are ceding the right to Broun - Gingrey recently admitted in an interview that Broun was more conservative than he was.

(2/11/14) Broun has been endorsed by the Madison Project.

(2/24/14) Yu out, to run for the House instead.

(3/4/14) The Susan B. Anthony List is endorsing Handel.

(3/10/14) A new poll by PPP for Better Georgia has Broun leading the Republican primary by 13 points.

Hawaii (special) Safe D Incumbent Brian Schatz (D)


It's a midterm without quasi-native son Obama on the ballot, so things should be marginally easier for the Hawaii GOP.  But their preferred candidate last race lost by 25 points, so they'll need a lot more than "marginally better".  The most prominent potential Republican seems to be former Rep. Charles Djou, who performed quite respectably in three elections against Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.

(4/23/13) Politico this morning is reporting that Hanabusa is planning to run for Senate.  Sit back and watch the show.

(4/23/13) According to this, Hanabusa leads Schatz by 22 with 54% in a primary.  It's worth noting that Djou might run for his old first district seat with Hanabusa out of the way.

(5/26/13) Upon further refelction, I'm moving this to Safe D.

(6/17/13) Schatz has won the support of the important Hawaii Government Employees Association union, continuing a string of victories in the 'invisible primary' for donors and endorsements.

(7/1/2013) Schatz leads Hanabusa by 3 in this new poll.

(7/2/13) EMILY's List counters with one showing Hanabusa up by 11.  Assuming standard internal poll bias (usually about 6 points in favor of your guy), the race (between these two) is still a tossup.

(7/22/13) For what it's worth, Schatz has been endorsed by Al Gore.

(7/29/13) E-mails have surfaced suggesting possible illegal coordination between Hanabusa's campaign and the drug lobby PhRMA.

(8/8/13) Hanabusa's deputy Chief of Staff has resigned in the scandal.

(8/11/13) Posted without comment.

(10/14/13) Schatz has continued a holding a solid fundraising lead over Hanabusa this quarter.

(10/23/13) The polls, however, are extremely close - Hanabusa leads by, and both have support in the 30s.

(11/17/13) Politico says Djou is going to announce soon.

(12/30/13) In his 2014 predictions, Tom Davis thinks Republicans will take this seat.  His argument is fairly convincing: late, bitter Dem primary, split along racial lines that could break to Djou's advantage; Obama not on the ballot.  I could see this happening, particularly if Hanabusa loses.  As far as I know, Hawaii politics is fairly racialized, and I suppose it's possible a white Democrat could lose to an Asian Republican after defeating an Asian Democrat in the primary.  Still it's worth pointing out that something similar has happened before.  In the 2010 governor's race, Neil Abercrombie defeated Mufi Hannemann in the Democratic primary, then beat Republican James Aiona by 17 points in the general.  These examples aren't directly comparable (the primary, I think, was much less hard-fought and Hannemann is of Pacific Islander descent), but I think it suggests that even if everything falls into place, Djou will still have a tough time.

(1/2/14) Here's the Washington Post on the subject.

(2/16/14) The Hawaii poll has Hanabusa leading Schatz by 8, while a Schatz internal has him up by 4.

(2/26/14) Another good WaPo piece on the primary.


Idaho Safe R Incumbent Jim Risch (R)


Another reasonably popular GOP incumbent in a deep red state.  Ho hum.


Illinois Safe D Incumbent Dick Durbin (D)


In absolutely no danger.  The GOP have a number of now-former congresspeople they might run, though many of those could also try to win their old seats back.

(9/26/13) State Sen. and frequent candidate (his Hotline Wake-Up Call description - '08 IL-14 nominee/'08 IL-14 special nominee/'02/'04 SEN candidate/'06 GOV candidate/state Sen./dairy magnate - was by far the longest I have ever seen) Jim Oberweis is thinking about running after an unexpectedly good poll from WeAskAmerica showing him trailing by 11 (as opposed to trailing by 20 or more) with Durbin not getting a majority (at 49.9%, he just barely missed it). This isn't to say Durbin is in any way seriously vulnerable, as he has a huge warchest and Illinois is still a pretty Democratic state.

(10/24/13) Oberweis in.

(11/26/13) In PPP's new poll, Durbin isn't in any trouble in the general, and Oberweis isn't in any trouble in the primary.


Iowa Leans D Incumbent Tom Harkin (D) (Retiring)


Rep. Bruce Braley appears to have the Democratic nomination for the first open Senate seat  in Iowa in forty years.  On the Republican side, the strongest candidate would have been Rep. Tom Latham, who has declined to run.  This basically leaves the nomination open to Rep. Steve King, though Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and state Sec. of Agriculture Bill Northey could also run, and talk radio host Steve Deace has expressed interest.  All four would likely start out as underdogs to one degree or another, while King presents some possibility for an "Akin problem", though perhaps less so than the original.

(4/24/13) Reynolds is out.  Meanwhile, Republicans are guaranteed a candidate; former US Attorney Matt Whitaker has said he'll run if King doesn't.

(5/2/13) Northey is out.  Apparently Latham may be reconsidering.

(5/4/13) King won't run; presumably this means Whitaker will enter soon.  Also, I expect this means Latham will seriously reconsider now, as he'll probably have a relatively clear path to the nomination if he wants it.

(5/5/13) It's worth noting that Latham sent out an e-mail with the subject line "I'm seriously reconsidering...", but it turned out to be about the weather.  Make of that what you will.

(5/9/13) The Des Moines Register has a list of some of the possible remaining Republican candidates.

(5/24/13) New poll out by Quinnipiac.  Braley has a solid +13 favorability, though only 41% name recognition.  The GOP candidates, meanwhile, have generally positive favorability numbers but some of the lowest name recognition I have ever seen.  Whitaker is +4 with 12% name recognition; State Sen. Joni Ernst +2 with 8%; Sec. of State Matt Schultz +4 with 18%; Chuck Grassley Chief of Staff David Young +1 with 5%; and state party chair AJ Spiker -4 with 8%.

(5/24/13) According to theiowarepublican.com, Young has submitted his resignation and plans to enter the race.

(5/24/13) Politico confirms that Young will run; meanwhile, radio host and Morningside College economics professor Sam Clovis has said he's interested, and businessman and philanthropist Mark Jacobs looks like he's testing the waters.

(5/29/13) Schultz won't run.  Also, apparently businessman Ron Langston is another possible candidate.

(6/4/13) Young will not have his old boss' endorsement.  I'm not sure how much influence Grassley has in primary circles, but he's well-liked statewide.  And even if Grassley doesn't have much influence, it'd still help in a field of such unknown candidates.

(6/9/13) The Des Moines Register has a slideshow of possible candidates here.  Ernst is looking more like she'll decide to run, and Clovis will announce his intentions tomorrow.  The also have more results from their most recent Iowa poll out.  Understandably given the candidates' low name recognition, they didn't do any head-to-heads.  The results are mostly the same as the Quinnipiac poll mentioned earlier: generally good net favorability numbers, but very low name recognition.

(6/11/13) Clovis is in.

(6/25/13) Some guy named Jay Williams is running as a Democrat.

(6/26/13) Energy exec and philanthropist Mark Jacobs is forming an exploratory committee to join the race as a Republican.  His ability to self-fund might allow him to break out of the pack.

(6/26/13) Attorney Paul Lunde is also running.

(7/2/13) Making things more difficult for Republicans, Braley is raising plenty of money - $1.25 million last quarter.

(7/5/13) Another concern for Republicans - if no candidate gets more than 35% percent of the primary vote (a distinct possibility in such a big field), the nomination would move to a convention, where all bets are off.

(7/10/13) By PPP, Braley holds fairly solid leads over all Republicans (9-13 points), though this is due in no small part to the Republicans' terrible name recognition (around 20%), overall reinforcing the Leans D rating.

(7/10/13) Ernst is in.

(7/22/13) According to the latest Quinnipiac poll, the GOP candidates are virtually unknown, with 12% name recognition for Whitaker, 8% for Ernst, 6% for Jacobs, and 7% each for Young and Clovis.  Braley's name recognition is fairly low too, at 40%, but he posts an impressive +14 net favorability.

(7/26/13) A few weeks ago I mentioned the possibility of a convention.  According to Bob Costa, there is a big feud going on in the Iowa GOP right now, between Governor Branstad and Ron Paul-affiliated Party cochairs AJ Spiker and David Fischer.  In the event of a convention, Fischer and Spiker would have a lot of power to pick the nominee, who would be the most affiliated with their views, not necessarily the best candidate.  Either Fischer or Spiker might even run themselves - whom the other would presumably try to nominate.

(8/26/13) More feuding.

(9/15/13) Now Bob Vander Plaats says he's thinking about running.  I'd have to consider him a frontrunner in the primary if he ran, but he would be a terrible general election candidate.

(9/21/13) Car salesman Scott Schaben is running.

(9/24/13) The Republicans will hold their convention at the normal date, as opposed to a month later, removing at least one barrier to victory.

(10/10/13) Ernst raised $250,000 this quarter.  That's a decent haul, I guess, for an unknown candidate in a state like Iowa, but it's far from what Braley will probably bring in.

(10/18/13) Young took in a little more than $100,000 last quarter.  Not good.

(10/24/13) Vander Plaats is moving closer to a run.  Meanwhile, Jacobs, Fischer, and state Department of Inspections and Appeals director Rod Roberts could still get in as well.  There was a debate last night, with Lunde, Clovis, Ernst, Whitaker, Young, and Schaben.  I had class until 9:45 and didn't get to watch it, but will try to do so sometime in the next few days. You can find write-ups by Kathie Obradovich of the Des Moines Register and by Kevin Hall of theiowarepublican.com.  The only video I can find quickly is at that last link.  They cut out Lunde.

(11/12/13) Jacobs in.

(12/17/13) Jacobs has put $100,000 into what is, according to Hotline, the first ad buy by a Republican candidate this race.  I can't put it better than Hotline did: "In a crowded field of unknown contenders, Jacobs is putting his financial advantage to good use in Iowa. With a decent-sized TV buy launching on Tuesday, Jacobs is the first GOP candidate on air. The other Republicans have struggled to raise money up to this point, so Jacobs' personal wealth could allow him to build up an early name-ID advantage".  It's hard to tell with the lack of polling (except for this poll with van der Plaats), but Jacobs' ability to self-fund might make him the frontrunner, particularly if the rest of the field continue turning in poor fundraising.

(12/18/13) Congressman Tom Latham's sudden decision to retire yesterday may redirect some of the Senate candidates, most of whom live in his district. Of this time all but Ernst have said they're staying in the Senate race.  Meanwhile, new results from Quinnipiac corroborate earlier findings from Harper that this race is, at least for the time being fairly competitive.  Braley leads Whitaker by 3, van der Plaats by 6, Ernst by 6, Young by 8, Jacobs by 9, and Clovis by 11, while Obama gets a 38/59 job approval.

(12/18/13) Ernst is still in.  I think that's everybody.

(1/2/14) Young out.

(1/28/14) Vander Plaats says he'll decide by Feb. 15th.  Theiowarepublican has a good piece here.

(1/30/14) Vander Plaats says he's leaning towards a run.

(1/30/14) Jacobs raised almost $1 million last quarter.

(2/15/14) Vander Plaats out.  I consider Jacobs the frontrunner by dint of fundraising.

(2/18/14) A Jacobs internal poll has him leading Braley by 1, and leading the primary field by 11.  These numbers are quite believable, given the national climate and the fact that he's been the only Republican so far to put up ads.  If he's ahead at this point, it's hard to see how the rest of the field catches up to him, because, again, fundraising.  As for the general, I'll leave it Leans D for now.  PPP should be out with a poll this week or next.  I wouldn't be surprised to see numbers like this in their results, and if there are, I would probably make this race a Tossup.  Of course, Jacobs doesn't just need to win the primary, he has to get 35% or more of the vote.

(2/25/14) PPP has Jacobs leading the Republican primary with 20%, 7 ahead of Ernst, and trails Braley by 6 points in the general, 41-35.  I'm very close to making this a Tossup, but would like to see Jacobs at least close to avoiding a convention before I do so.

(3/5/14) Mitt Romney is endorsing Ernst.

(3/13/14) Never mind, maybe.  Quinnipiac has Braley leading Jacobs by 9, and Ernst by 13.


Kansas Safe R Incumbent Pat Roberts (R) (Running)


See Idaho.

(9/12/13) Roberts may finally have a primary challenger; radiologist and columnist Milton Wolf, a second cousin once removed of President Obama.  I suspect Roberts would start out with a fairly significant lead, given his earlier leads over such figures as Tim Huelskamp, Todd Tiahrt, and Kris Kobach.

(10/7/13) Wolf has a "major announcement" coming tomorrow.

(10/8/13) Wolf in.

(12/10/13) The Senate Conservatives Fund is backing Wolf.

(2/9/14) Bad news for Roberts: the New York Times is reporting that Roberts doesn't have a home in Kansas - his voting address is owned by a couple of longtime donors who let him stay in their house when he's in the state.  Wolf is already making an issue of this.  The comparisons to Richard Lugar are already coming out.  I think those are a little premature - there were plenty of things about Lugar for Tea Partiers to take issue with, aside from residency issues - but I do think this is definitely a big deal.

(2/21/14) Some good and bad news for Roberts in PPP's new poll.  The good news is that for now he has a fairly solid lead over Wolf, 49-23.  The bad news for him is that it looks like there's room for Wolf to improve his standing.  His name recognition is low at 24%, and Roberts appears vulnerable over residency; respondents said - albeit by a small margin - that Roberts didn't spend enough time in Kansas and was more interested in being a DC insider than representing Kansas.

(2/23/14) I think this outweighs the Roberts residency issue.

(2/26/14) Now Wolf is dealing with allegations of price-fixing against his employer.

(2/28/14) Democrat Shawnee County DA Chad Taylor is running; meanwhile, the Tea Party Express is endorsing Wolf.


Kentucky Leans R Incumbent Mitch McConnell (R) (Running)


It seems increasingly likely the Democrats will nominate Ashley Judd.  She'd make the race interesting, but has massive liabilities that don't really fit with Kentucky (nicely played out in this American Crossroads ad), and McConnell certainly has the cash to go after her.  That said, he's quite unpopular; every poll I've seen has his approval rating negative.

(3/29/13) Turns out Judd's not interested.  As most of the other strong Democrats have passed, the focus is now on 34-year-old, newly-elected Sec. of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.  Whether she wants to take the risk of a run is another matter.  If she runs a good campaign she could easily make herself the frontrunner for the Dem. nomination fro Gov. in 2015, but if she goes down in flames (which is a distinct possibility;  Politico wrote about McConnell's scorched-earth strategy today; if she has any skeletons in her closet every Kentuckian will know about them by Election Day) it might end a promising political career.  If she won, she would go through a six-year tug-of-war between her constituents and the party leadership for the privilege of becoming a top Republican 2020 target.

(4/9/13) PPP has their new poll out (here) and find McConnell's approval at an astounding -18.  He only leads Grimes by 4, former Rep. Ben Chandler by 5, and businessman Ed Marksberry by 9.  I'm going to keep this as Likely R for the moment because Grimes and Chandler aren't in. but if either joins, it will probably move to Leans R.  Keep in mind, however, McConnell has a lot of money to burn in what will probably be his last campaign.

(5/22/13) Some Democrats are now talking about Heather French Henry, a former Miss America and the wife of former Lt. Gov. Steve Henry.  She's also done some charitable work and is a dress designer.

(5/28/13) I'm not quite sure what to make of this new PPP poll (link now fixed - sorry about that. I'm not sure how it happened) for the Senate Majority PAC.  Despite the fact that McConnell has improved his net favorability by 15 points and Grimes only by 6, Grimes ties him.  Also, a number of the questions are patently leading.  The race is staying Likely R.

(5/28/13) Cameron Joseph at The Hill argues that the PPP poll sample may be skewed significantly Democratic.  I can't comment on the validity of his argument except to note that their other two recent polls of the state have similar partisan balances (or skews).  At any rate, take this poll with the largest grain of salt you have available.  Also, Grimes may not decide until late summer, though some are pressuring her to decide faster.

(5/29/13) Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post's The Fix blog, while pushing back against the notion that the PPP poll is a push poll, agrees that it overstates McConnell's vulnerability.

(5/29/13) I'd like to address the issue questions the poll asked about after doing approvals and head-to-head (link here if you'd like to review them).  Most were quite openly leading (One, for example, said: "Mitch McConnell has voted to cut taxes for millionaires like himself, while supporting cuts to Social Security and Medicare for hardworking Kentucky seniors").  PPP's memo says "There are strong indications within the poll results that McConnell’s record on key issues will give him trouble getting reelected".  First of all, they were practically begging respondents to say they were less likely to vote for him.  One could say that Lundergan Grimes (or whoever the Democratic nominee is) will run ads with this message.  Fine.  Fair point.  First, there's some debate over the effect of ads, but one would expect an ad from a campaign to be less credibly received than something treated as a statement of fact from a polling firm.  Second, research indicates that the effect of ads diminishes quickly after being aired.  Respondents were responding to the question immediately, so the circumstances are not the same.  Third, the respondents were given no countervailing positive message.  There will be plenty of those in the actual election, during which I expect McConnell to substantially outspend any opponent. (He has $8.5 million cash on hand, and is an extremely prolific fundraiser).

(6/4/13) New poll out by GOP firm Wenzel Strategies has McConnell with a decent advantage.  He leads Grimes by 7, Henry by 6, and environmental lawyer Tom FitzGerald - who is exploring - by 17 (this large number seems to be more based on low name recognition).  Also, musician Bennie Smith is running, for what that's worth, and former state party chair Bill Garner is considering a run if Grimes passes.  The Wenzel poll had a similar partisan balance as the PPP poll did.

(6/7/13) Grimes, though not declared, is looking like she plans to run.

(7/1/13) Somehow, I doubt this is what those Republicans calling for McConnell to be primaried had in mind.

(7/1/13) Grimes will announce her decision at 3.

(7/1/13) So, Grimes is running.  I said earlier I would probably move this to Leans R if she got in, but I won't.  There are a number of reasons why.  1) During the time Grimes dithered, McConnell has been rehabilitating his image, and his net approval has climbed significantly to just below 0.  He still doesn't have a majority of Kentuckians like him, but he no longer has a majority disliking.  2) Grimes' victory for Sec. of State, though impressive, is minor.  It's not a major race, and she outspent her opponent more than 6-to-1.  3) On that same point, she will most likely be significantly outspent (I expect a multi-million-dollar disparity).  4) Grimes is attempting something that has only successfully happened once in recent political history - defeating an incumbent not of the president's party during a sixth-year midterm - out of sixty-three attempts (that was John Edwards' defeat of Republican Lauch Faircloth in very different circumstances - Clinton was much more popular then than Obama is, the seat had a history of switching parties every election, and North Carolina was much less Republican than Kentucky). 5) Kentucky is very Republican.  It went 23 points for Romney-Ryan, and hasn't voted Democratic for the Senate in over 20 years.

(7/2/13) I urge you to read Nate Cohn's piece in the New Republic.

(7/2/13) At this point, Adrian Gray's model gives McConnell an 83% chance of winning.

(7/22/13) It looks like McConnell will have a primary challenger, in the form of businessman Matt Bevin.  McConnell is still the heavy favorite in the primary, but this will tie up time and money he could be using against Grimes.

(7/25/13) A Wenzel Strategies poll has McConnell leading Grimes by 8, though I'm told they lean fairly significantly Republican.  More importantly, McConnell leads Bevin by 39.  As I've said before, even if a poll has bias, it's hard to be so wrong that the overall result (huge McConnell lead) is incorrect.

(8/1/13) A new PPP poll has Grimes leading by 1.  I still think it's doubtful she'd actually win, but this, combined with Bevin's primary, make me lean towards Leans R.

(8/5/13) Nate Cohn makes the case more persuasively than I could that the polls overstate Grimes' strength.

(8/22/13) A McConnell internal poll has him leading Bevin by 47% with 68%.

(8/26/13) There's now a Libertarian candidate in the race - police officer David Patterson.  Usually Libertarians don't have too much of an effect unless the race is very close.  In such cases there are numerous examples of Libertarians receiving more votes than the margin between the Democrat and the Republican, making it possible the Libertarian could have cost the Republican the race (establishing causality is difficult).  I don't expect the race will ultimately be close enough for that to happen, but there is a possibility that, if the primary is very nasty, some diehard Bevinites could vote Libertarian instead of Republican, potentially splitting the vote (though I very much doubt this will happen to the degree necessary to flip the election).

(8/27/13) The Senate Conservatives Fund is now hitting McConnell over defunding Obamacare.

(8/29/13) Bevin has won the endorsement of the chair of the Louisville Tea Party.

(9/23/13) Liberal Democratic candidate Ed Marksberry will be running as an Independent to Grimes' left.  I wish him well, but doubt he'll have much of an effect unless the race turns out to be extremely close.  Quite apart from all the other challenges facing third party candidates who are neither rich nor well established, his natural constituency (liberals who think Grimes is too far to the right) are also likely to be the group most likely to detest McConnell and thus have the most incetive to vote strategically.

(9/30/13) The Senate Conservatives Fund is holding a vote among their members whether to support Bevin, but it's pretty clear from the accompanying memo which result the group would prefer.

(10/4/13) Sarah Mimms has a good piece in National Journal's Hotline-on-Call about Gov. Steve Beshear's Obamacare advocacy.  This affects the race because Grimes, obviously, would like to just avoid the issue, and has basically done so.  But Beshear's open advocacy for the law, and his role as one of her top surrogates, could force her to take a clearer stand, which will either put her at odds with him and the national party or give McConnell a huge issue to run ads on (or try to avoid the issue all the way to Election Day, which will become increasingly difficult, and is problematic in its own way).

(10/11/13) McConnell raised $2.27 million and has just under $10 million cash-on-hand.

(10/11/13) Bevin raised $822,000 last quarter, but most of that was from a $600,000 loan he made his campaign.

(10/18/13) Well, SCF is endorsing Bevin.  This is definitely a help to him, but I still consider McConnell a solid frontrunner, particularly since Bevin's poor fundraising ($222,000) suggests he isn't exactly setting the race on fire.

(10/19/13) McConnell helped himself in the general by helping end the government shutdown, but provided ammo for Bevin, particularly with the inclusion of an earmark for a project he supported.

(10/20/13) On the other hand, McConnell has Marco Rubio's support.  After the immigration push earlier this year, Rubio isn't the conservative force he used to be, but I still have to think this would help McConnell.

(12/17/13) There isn't too much new in PPP's new poll.  McConnell is horribly unpopular (disliked slightly less than President Obama) but leads Grimes (who isn't particularly well-liked herself) by one point.  The difficulty for Grimes in getting to 50% plus 1 keeps this Leans R.  A Bevin primary victory isn't likely, though primary voters aren't really enamored of McConnell.

(1/22/14) FreedomWorks is backing Bevin.

(1/31/14) Both McConnell and Grimes took in more than $2 million last quarter.

(2/13/14) Wenzel Strategies has McConnell leading Grimes by a little over a point.

(3/13/14) Nate Cohn has a good piece in the New York Times on this race - I encourage you to read it.

Louisiana Tossup Incumbent Mary Landrieu (D) (Running)


This promises to be one of the marquee races of 2014.  Virtually every GOP congressman, plus former Rep. Jeff Landry and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, is being talked about as a potential candidate.  The strongest candidate might be Dardenne, with Rep. Charles Boustany and Rep. Bill Cassidy, who nearly matches Landrieu's cash-on-hand, as close seconds.  The Tea Party-backed Landry would have more difficulty, though he might try for his old congressional seat if Boustany runs (they were redistricted together).

(3/8/13) Boustany out.

(3/15/13) Dardenne out.  All eyes now on Cassidy.

(4/2/13) Cassidy is in.  The question now is whether Landry or Rep. John Fleming (who has refused to rule out a run) try to run an insurgency-style campaign in the primary.

(4/4/13) Fleming will not run.  This race will probably be set once Landry makes his decision.

(5/17/13) Maybe not.  Former Air Force Colonel Rob Maness is now challenging Cassidy for the nomination.  I think Cassidy is probably still favored to win, though it's interesting to note Maness may be supported by the Senate Conservatives Fund, the Club for Growth, or both.

(6/26/13) Though it's pretty unlikely, there's still some speculation that Bobby Jindal would challenge Landrieu, though he's not the electoral force he was a couple years ago.

(6/27/13) Here, by the way, is the piece that sparked all this speculation.

(7/9/13) Both Cassidy and Landrieu pulled in a good amount of money this quarter; Landrieu $1.7 million, Cassidy $1.1 million.

(8/2/13) A new Magellan Strategies (Republican) poll finds that 39% of Louisianans believe Landrieu deserves to be reelected, while 51% say it's time for someone new.  This isn't as bad for Landrieu as the topline numbers would suggest - if Republicans nominate a bad candidate voters could end up saying "time for someone new ... just not that someone" and vote for Landrieu.  After all, Missouri voters were perfectly willing to throw Claire McCaskill out last year, but when Todd Akin became the only alternative, they kept her in.

(8/20/13) Three conflicting polls out recently: PPP has Landrieu up 10, OnMessage has her up 4, and Harper has Cassidy up 2.  On the whole, I suspect the correct result is closest to OnMessage's results.  PPP's approval for President Obama seems higher than realistic, and Harper's seems lower.  Harper's favorability for Cassidy is also oddly high.  Meanwhile, Landrieu may be in a worse position than PPP's or OnMessage's toplines suggest.  The undecideds in PPP's poll lean conservative and strongly dislike Obama (78% disapprove of him).  According to PPP, if the undecideds voted according to their opinion on the President, Landrieu would lead by 4.  Meanwhile, in the OnMessage poll, Cassidy leads by 11 among voters who had an opinion on both. Meanwhile, Cassidy looks pretty solid as the GOP nominee.  In a jungle primary with Landrieu, himself, Maness, and State Sen. Elbert Guillory Cassidy takes second by 14.  Without Guillory, Cassidy tops Maness by 19.

(9/20/13) There's been a minor controversy over Cassidy's donation of $500 to Landrieu's 2002 reelection (a few years before he entered politics himself). Obviously, there's some amusing irony there, though given that many prominent Louisiana Republicans were Democrats just a decade or two ago, I doubt it'll be too much out of place.  Cassidy might actually be able to turn this to his advantage, and use it to argue that Landrieu's gone leftward since being elected (this is the strategy he appears to be using).  It does give Maness a nice attack line, which he's been using, though Cassidy's far ahead enough I don't think it will be decisive.

(10/14/13) Landrieu outraised Cassidy again this quarter, but he's keeping a decent pace with her.

(10/18/13) Interesting results out of a PPP shutdown poll, which actually shows good news for Cassidy.  In the basic head-to-head, he actually does better against Landrieu than in their previous polls - trailing by 7 as opposed to 10.  After being asked directly about the Tea Party, the shutdown, and told Landrieu opposed the shutdown and Cassidy supported it, Landrieu's lead jumps back up to 10, right where it was in PPP's past two polls.

(10/25/13) Larry Sabato has decided to switch this race to Leans D.  You can read the analysis here.  They point to Cassidy's relatively poor fundraising and his vote against reopening the government.  I'm willing to call this 'Advantage Landrieu', but I'll keep it as a Tossup for now.  This is for a number of reasons, most notably the lack of movement towards Landrieu in the PPP poll I discussed above (and some possible movement towards Cassidy).

(10/25/13) Meanwhile, State Rep. Paul Hollis says he's thinking about taking on Cassidy from the right.

(10/28/13) SCF is endorsing Maness.

(10/29/13) Americans for Prosperity is putting up a $500,000 ad buy against Landrieu.

(11/4/13) Cassidy's dodged one potential conservative challenger - State Rep. Alan Seabaugh is endorsing him and won't run.

(11/18/13) On the other hand, Maness probably isn't going anywhere anytime soon - now the Madison Project is endorsing him.

(11/22/13) There's some bad news for Landrieu in a new poll from Southern Media & Opinion Research.  She's only at 41% and trails the combined GOP candidates by 3, which is a difficult position to start the runoff in.  On the other hand, the poll might have been affected by the wording of the questions, which was more favorable to Maness and Cassidy than Landrieu (h/t Hotline).

(12/2/13) Guillory won't run, and is endorsing Cassidy.  I'm not sure this is as important as Seabaugh's decision not to run, as his decision more suggested Tea Party acceptance of Cassidy than Guillory's.  On the other hand, I expect Guillory is more influential than Seabaugh, and could be an important surrogate for Cassidy.

(1/9/14) Landrieu again led in fundraising, but Cassidy is keeping up reasonably well.

(1/23/14) FRC President Tony Perkins is also considering running.

(1/30/14) Rasmussen has Cassidy leading Landrieu by 4, with Landrieu at 40%.  On the one hand, Rasmussen numbers should always be taken with a grain of salt.  On the other hand, these results are pretty similar to the results from the SMOR poll mentioned a few entries above.

(2/6/14) Big-spending green businessman Tom Steyer has named Landrieu one of his potential next targets over her support for the Keystone XL pipeline. Apparently he thinks this will hurt her.

(2/11/14) PPP has Landrieu down to leading by Cassidy by 1 point, 45-44.  More worrying for her, Landrieu's approval is badly underwater (indeed her net approval of -15 is similar to Obama's of -17, and her approval is actually lower than his).  Meanwhile, Cassidy isn't in much danger in the jungle primary; he leads Hollis by 20, while Maness takes 3%.

(2/13/14) Alexandra Jaffe and Laura Barron-Lopez have a good piece on E2 Wire about Landrieu's recent ascension to chair of the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee.  Particularly given this, I want to revisit my earlier remarks on Steyer.  Despite my snark (although I do think attacking Landrieu on Keystone XL will very likely be counterproductive from his perspective), there are ways he could make the attacks damage her, by, for example, microtargeting them to more receptive groups, as Mayors Against Illegal Guns tried to do to Mark Pryor, or by making more general attacks (say, "Mary Landrieu supports destroying our environment because she's in the pockets of oil lobbyists", or whatever, instead of "Mary Landrieu supports the Keystone XL pipeline.").

(3/13/14) Well, Hickman Analytics has Cassidy leading by 4 among likely voters and 9 among definite voters, with much lower name recognition than Landrieu.  Still a Tossup, but /Adv. Cassidy.


Maine Safe R Incumbent Susan Collins (R) (Running)


Collins is on the retirement watch list, though most consider it a slim possibility.  She'd be very difficult to beat if she ran, as she defeated Congressman Tom Allen in 2008 by a larger margin than Obama beat McCain in Maine, and she's one of very few Senators to have achieved the trifecta of positive approval among Republicans, independents, and Democrats.  If she retires, 2012 candidate Charlie Summers might run again, and the Democrats would likely nominate one of the state's two Reps.

(4/7/13) Democrats just lost any theoretical possibility they ever had of winning this seat: Collins will run and Mike Michaud won't.

(7/1/13) Collins is being targeted by the Senate Conservatives Fund.  I doubt she'd actually lose a primary, but this might push her to retirement, which would be disastrous for GOP efforts to hold the seat.  Then, of course, there is that caveat that the "strong, conservative challenger" has to come forward first.

(7/13/13) Another thing to watch out for: some are suggesting Collins should be nominated by President Obama to be DHS Secretary.  This is still pretty unlikely, but would make it very difficult for the GOP to hold the seat, particularly since Governor LePage would presumably pick her replacement.

(7/17/13) Collins has taken herself out of contention for DHS Secretary, and is "fully committed" to seeking reelection.

(8/20/13) In this new poll for the League of Conservation Voters, Collins has favorability and approval numbers near 80% in the (more Democratic) southern region of the state.  Take this with a huge grain of salt.  First, the numbers themselves are just a tad unbelievable.  Second, take a look at the memo in the link.  The first questions they list ask about Collins' positions on a number of environmental issues.  They could perhaps describe her more favorably if they said she cured cancer.  The memo doesn't say which questions they asked first, but if they asked the issues questions before the favorability ones, no wonder she got 80%.

(8/28/13) Collins is pretty safe in PPP's new poll.  She leads Independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler, Rep. Chellie Pingree, and author Stephen King by 20, 23, and 23 respectively, with 53, 57, and 54% of the vote.  She might be more vulnerable in a primary, at least in theory, as she trails a hypothetical 'more conservative challenger' by 1 and Republicans say by 9 points she belongs as an Independent or Democrat rather than a Republican.  But there doesn't appear to be anyone who can beat her; she leads former State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin by 40 with 64%.

(10/9/13) Former Maine ACLU executive director Shenna Bellows has become Collins' first opponent.

(10/11/13) Collins gets an excellent 69/20 job approval rating in a new Critical Insights poll.

(11/13/13) PPP's new poll has Collins in little danger from Bellows.  She leads by 39 points, and even beat Bellows by by 14 points among Democrats.  A lot of that is probably due to Bellows' poor name recognition, but a near-majority of Democrats is still a very impressive showing.  She again might be more vulnerable in a primary, where voters only favor her over a 'more conservative challenger' by four points, and only 38% think she belongs most in the Republican Party.  Again, however, these probably overstate her vulnerability (for one thing, losing an election requires an actual challenger), and even if she does get an opponent, they will probably fall far behind the theoretical, idealized 'more conservative challenger'.

(12/11/13) Well, Collins does have a primary challenger, though he doesn't seem particularly strong.  Meanwhile, Collins' favorability rating is near 80% in the new Pan Atlantic SMS poll.

(12/31/13) Yeah, Bennett isn't a threat.


Massachusetts (2013 special) Likely D Incumbent Mo Cowan (D) (Not running)


Republicans are hoping for another miracle, while the Democratic primary will be a fairly nasty battle between Reps. Ed Markey and Stephen Lynch.  The fact that the conditions under which Scott Brown scored his victory no longer exist and that the race is occurring the state known in some circles as the People's Republic of Massachusetts make this likely D.

(3/31/13) Markey has a moderate and consistent lead in the Dem primary.  He appears to be the weaker candidate, but would still start out ahead well into double digits.  The Republicans seem likely to nominate former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan.

(4/29/13) The primary is tomorrow.  Teresa Mull looks at the Republican candidates in the American Spectator here.  I should note that businessman and former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez has pulled ahead of Sullivan.  Meanwhile, Markey looks set to win the Democratic primary.  He is definitely weaker than Lynch in the general (though both lead by double digits, so it's a bit like saying an ogre is weaker than Godzilla).  I should note that both Democrats are above 50% in the last poll.

(4/30/13) Politico has a good piece here.

(4/30/13) Okay, so it's Markey v. Gomez.  Against Markey, Gomez has the theoretical possibility of victory, but only if he plays everything near perfectly and Markey really screws up.  PPP will have a poll out in a couple days.  Based on the latest poll, Gomez is 15 points behind.

(5/3/13) A couple of polls are showing this to be competitive: Emerson College has Gomez down by only 6, PPP by 4.  This definitely isn't in the bag for Markey, though the undecided voters lean liberal and Markey will probably get a lot of outside money - for example, the League of Conservation Voters spent half a million helping him beat Lynch.  Leans D.

(5/9/13) Suffolk University has Markey up 17, but another pollster had him up 8 (here), so I think the Suffolk poll is a bit of an outlier, even if it does illustrate that things may be shifting in Markey's direction.

(5/13/13) A new poll for the Gomez campaign has Markey leading by 3.  This is still reasonably competitive.

(5/16/13) A PPP poll for the LCV has Markey up 7.  Still Leans D.

(5/24/13) Billionaire Tom Steyer has decided to bring his super-PAC into the race, opposing Gomez' stance on the Keysonte XL pipeline in general and Gomez in particular.  Steyer also supported Markey in the primary, but doesn't seem to have had much of an effect.  Politico reported on his efforts April 3rd. There isn't really a significant difference between the polling before and polling after or the polling before and result.

(5/24/13) Things are already starting to get nasty ...

(5/25/13) Gomez' chances of victory are slipping badly: a new poll from Emerson College has him down by twelve.  Importantly, Gomez' net favorability is way down.  The PPP poll referenced in (5/16/13), whose internals I've just found, has him at parity with Markey at +8, down from their earlier poll with Gomez at +14 and Markey +3.  In the Emerson poll his net favorability has decreased by 14.  Likely D.

(5/28/13) Stu Rothenberg offers an optimistic (for Gomez) take on the PPP/LCV survey.

(5/30/13) Rothenberg has a good piece here.

(5/31/13) The Cook Political Report is now calling this a tossup.  Here's a basic explanation of their reasoning, but you need to be a subscriber to get the full report.  Their argument is reasonably persuasive, but this will stay Likely D in my ratings for the present time.

(6/1/13) Markey is trying to tie Gomez to the national GOP, and Mitch McConnell in particular.

(6/2/13) The NRSC says their internal polling finds finds Gomez to be 6 to 3 points behind.

(6/4/13) New England College poll has Markey leading by 12 with 52% of the vote.  Gomez simply isn't getting the landslide among Independents he needs to win (he leads by 3 among that group).  I wonder if this poll overstates Markey's support somewhat given other polls that have shown Gomez leading by double digits among Independents.  Still, things are not looking good for him.

(6/5/13) The League of Conservation Voters will be spending $400,000 in mailers to oppose Gomez, adding to his serious spending disadvantage.

(6/6/13) More bad news for Gomez: The DSCC is putting ads up against him.  I suppose this could be interpreted as good news in that, even with a consistent poll lead and spending advantage these groups still fell they need to come in a prop Markey up.  There's also a rather odd poll out from PPP which shows Gomez with a net favorability of -1 (Markey's is +5) and losing by one point among Independents but only losing by 8.  The partisan identification seems kind of screwy with 41% Democrat, 36% Independent, and 23% Republican.

(6/6/13) Democratic-affiliated Senate Majority PAC is putting money in the race as well - meanwhile the DSCC ad buy is $700,000.  Maybe these groups know something we don't.

(6/7/13) McLaughlin & Associates has Gomez down by 1 - according to Kyle Kondik this means he's actually down by 7-9.  Apparently McLaughlin leans Republican.

(6/10/13) Suffolk has Gomez down 7.  Gomez has closed the gap a bit but he's running out of time.  This will stay Likely D.  If one looks at the polls from the 2010 race, at about this point Brown hit a period of really explosive growth in the polls.  That isn't happening, and, looking at the conditions in place in 2010 compared to today, probably won't.  Right now I'd say the most likely scenario is a fairly narrow Gomez loss.

(6/11/13) Another day, another poll, another 7-point Markey lead.

(6/11/13) Hotline speculates about the possibility of Gomez expanding his vote among primary supporters of Stephen Lynch, noting his much higher net favorability among them than Markey.  It's possible, but Markey's attacks on Gomez' tax credit claim and private-equity business and comparisons of him to Mitt Romney might make that difficult.  On the other hand, if they were having an effect, it should show up in the favorability rating.

(6/12/13) The PAC Americans for Progressive Action is at least evening out the money war, spending, according to different reports, between $500,000 and $700,000 in pro-Gomez ads.

(6/13/13) Harper has Markey up by 12.  Definitely not looking good for Gomez, particularly since they lean Republican.  Gomez' trouble, as other polls have found, is that he ties Markey among Independents.  To win, he needs a landslide among that demographic.  His net favorability among Independents is significantly better than Markey's so he might have some room to grow, but this is limited by the fact that the higher net comes from low disapproval not high approval.  He's also running out of time, but at least he'll come out of this reasonably well-liked, which, as I've argued over in Massachusetts Governor 2014, keeps him available for a run for some statewide office for which Massachusettsans are actually willing to vote Republican in more than extreme cases.

(6/15/13) Alexandra Jaffe for The Hill looks at the state of the race with ten days to go.

(6/16/13) A new poll for the Boston Globe has Gomez down 13 among decided voters and 11 when leaning voters are included.  In both cases, Markey gets 54%, putting him in a good position to win.  The most likely occurrence is a fairly narrow Gomez loss (for a Republican in Massachusetts not named Scott Brown) which leaves his reputation intact for future runs.

(6/18/13) Gomez' internals show him down 7 - it's not a good sign when you're touting results like that. The memo makes comparisons to 2010, but I'm pretty skeptical.  Unlike 2010, this race has been remarkably stable.  Even with recent dips in Obama's approval ratings, conditions favor Markey much more than they favored Coakley in 2010.

(6/20/13) McLaughlin has Gomez down three, but I'm told they lean significantly Republican.  They had Gomez down 1 while almost everyone else had him down by 7 or more.

(6/20/13) Gomez is finally getting Brown to come out for him.  Too little, too late, I expect.

(6/20/13) Well, this is a bit out of left field: U-Mass/Boston Herald has Gomez down 20 points.  I suspect this is an outlier, similar to the Suffolk poll a month ago that had Gomez down by 17.

(6/23/13) Final polling roundup: Western New England University has Gomez down 8New England College has him down 20, and Emerson College has him down 10.  I'll give my predictions and run the mode late tomorrow night.

(6/24/13) One more for the list: Suffolk has Gomez down 10.

(6/24/13) Final Prediction: The model predicts Markey by 13.9633 points.  I'll say Markey by 9-15 points.


Massachusetts (2014) Likely D Incumbent Ed Markey (D)


Obviously, we'll know more once we figure out in June who will actually hold this seat.  If the Republicans somehow manage to make lightning strike twice, expect a competitive race between the incumbent and Gov. Deval Patrick or one of the state's nine Dem representatives.  If, as seems likely, it becomes Ed Markey's or Stephen Lynch's, the race should be fairly boring unless Scott Brown gets in, though there could be some action in the Dem primary, as Massachusetts Senators tend to stay awhile.

(5/3/2013) As readers of the previous entry will now, this race is now competitive and there is a decent - but still significantly less than 50% - chance Gomez will win.  If he does, this race will immediately be the Democrats' best pickup opportunity.  Lynch might run, and would probably start out with an advantage. If Markey wins, he should probably be reasonably secure, though his favorability rating (for a Dem in Massachusetts) isn't great.

(6/23/13) Keep an eye on the returns for the special election.  If Gomez does well (45%+), and runs again, he might get more help from national Republicans, though if he can't beat Markey now he probably won't be able to beat him in 2014 either.

(6/24/13) Gomez is considering another run if he loses.

(6/26/13) I wrote about the implications for 2014 of the results of the special in the last couple paragraphs here.  Bottom line: Markey is pretty safe.  I'd call this Safe D against any Republican other than Gomez or Brown.  Gomez did well enough to make this Likely D if he runs again, and if Brown runs he's popular enough to make it Leans D.

(7/24/13) Markey starts 5 points ahead of Brown in a 2014 poll.  It's looking more and more like his (Brown's) only option if he wants to stay in politics is to run for Governor.

(9/18/13) Gomez is thinking about taking another go at it.

(9/24/13) Markey looks pretty safe unless Brown (or possibly former Governor William Weld) gets in.  He has an 18-point lead over Gomez and a 27-point lead over former State Senator Richard Tisei (he leads Brown by one and Weld by 6), with 53 and 54%, respectively.

(1/9/14) Gomez out.


Michigan Leans D Incumbent Carl Levin (D) (Retiring)


The question here is whether 6-term incumbent Levin wants another term.  If he does, it's his.  If he does retire, the most likely Democratic candidate seems to be Rep. Gary Peters, who is a well-regarded campaigner and would probably start out with a solid lead (we'll know more when PPP comes out with their weekend poll of this race sometime next week).  Another candidate mentioned in progressive circles is former Governor Jennifer Granholm, though it's worth noting she left office with with an approval rating south of -30, and probably contributed to Rick Snyder's 18-point blowout over Virg Bernero.  On the Republican side, both State Senator Roger Kahn and Rep. Justin Amash have indicated interest; other mentioned possibilities include Rep. Candice Miller and state AG Bill Schuette.

(3/7/13)  Levin out.

(3/8/13) The race has had a bit of time to take shape.  Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, AG Bill Schuette, Rep. Candice Miller, and former AG Mike Cox are out on the Republican side, while former state party chair Saul Anuzis is considering (interestingly, the only successful Republican Senate candidate in the last forty years also served in that position).  PPP finally came out with their poll, though it doesn't tell us much as they only tested Levin, and two of the Republicans already declined.  The bad news for Republicans is that the favorability numbers for Khan and Amash are fairly bad (though over 70% are 'Not sure' for both).  Another possible candidate is Rep. Mike Rogers, who would probably be stronger (he's at -3, Amash and Khan -11 and -10, respectively).

(3/9/13) One Republican I forgot to mention is former Sec. of State Terri Lynn Land, who is still quite popular and may now be their best shot.

(3/17/13) New Harper poll out (can't find a link at the moment).  Though I'm still not sure if I trust these guys, it's enough for me to tentatively put this in Leans D.  Some highlights:  Granholm has sort of rehabilitated her image (she's now at about -7), and would be dominant in a Democratic primary.  The Republican primary is fairly wide open - Rogers is the frontrunner among those tested and not declining, but only has 17%.  Granholm might actually be the strongest Democratic candidate.  She leads the Republicans by 3-8 points.  Amash is definitely one of the weaker Republican candidates.  Land and Rogers start out ahead of Peters (don't read too much into this, however; no one tested with Peters cracks 30%, and the pollster may have used the wrong name for Peters).

(4/4/13) A new poll out of Mitchell Research contains both good and bad news for Republicans.  The good: they have a strong potential candidate in Land, who leads both Democrats tested (Gary Peters and Debbie Dingell) by 1 and 4 respectively.  The bad news?  She's dead last in a four way primary with her, Amash, Rogers, and Romney family member Ronna Romney McDaniel (11/18/21/19).  Rogers, McDaniel, and Amash trail Peters and Dingell by 5, 7, and 10 points, respectively.  Another interesting finding is that Peters seems to be a lot weaker than was first though - he trails Dingell by 5 in a primary.

(4/29/13) Dingell is out; Peters will run.  Republicans are still trying to get Mike Rogers.

(5/15/13) According to this piece by David Hawkings at Roll Call, Rogers is expected to run.

(5/15/13) On the other hand, Rogers is also in the running to be FBI Director.

(5/21/13) Rogers will announce his decision "next month"; Land on June 1st.  Peters leads Rogers by 7, though with a large number of undecideds.  Holland Mayor Kurt Dykstra may be planning to run as a Republican; AT&T Michigan President Jim Murray may be as well.  Meanwhile, Rogers leads a Murray Communications Republican primary poll with 35%; Land has 28%; Amash and Dykstra 10% each.

(5/22/13) According to John Gizzi of Newsmax on Twitter, Land will run if Rogers does not.

(5/30/13) Obama will nominate former US Attorney and Bush Justice Department official James Comey to head the FBI.

(6/2/13) As far as I can tell, Land is in.  I will tentatively move this to Leans D based on the balance between polling and fundamentals.  PPP will have a poll out next week so we'll know more then.

(6/3/13) Confirmation here.

(6/4/13) Tim Alberta of National Journal has a good piece on the choice facing Rogers - stay in a safe district with a very influential committee chairmanship or give it all up to run in a primary you might not win for the right to compete in an election in which you would start as an underdog; this all for a seat in an institution where you have no seniority and will most likely be in the minority.  With that choice, what would you pick?

(6/5/13) Lots in PPP's new poll.  Land is the best Republican candidate, trailing Peters by 5 (whether her strength is due to higher name recognition or higher favorability is unknown).  Rogers trails by 10, Amash and Dave Camp by 12.  Those four are also the frontrunners in the primary, getting 15%, 18%, 16%, and 21% respectively.  As expected, Amash draws disproportionately from the 'very conservative' vote.  The presence of Rogers and Camp are holding Land down - both draw more from the moderate and somewhat conservative voters who are much more likely to support Land over Amash.

(6/10/13) Weird polling news of the day: Amash would lose to the LOLGOP guy.

(6/11/13) Rogers will make an announcement Friday.  About time.

(6/13/13) If, as expected, Rogers declines to run, Amash might not either.  Apparently they just really don't like each other, so a possible part of Amash' motivation to run might have just been to take on Rogers.  If Amash and Rogers both pass, Land should have a relatively clear field (I don't think there's anyone who seriously expects Camp to run, and most of the other candidates are pretty minor).

(6/14/13) Surprising absolutely no one, Rogers declines to run.  Read down the article to see really stupid political spin.

(7/8/13) Peters brought in a pretty solid $1 million this quarter.

(7/15/13) The NRCS is meeting with Oakland County District Court judge Kimberly Small about running.  Maybe they know something I don't, but I don't see her being more formidable than Land.  Small has little name recognition and trails Peters by 16 compared to Land's 5 (According to PPP).  It may not matter, as Land looks a lot stronger in primary polling.

(7/30/13) Apparently Camp is taking the possibility of a run more seriously than I expected.  I'm a bit mixed on his prospects.  On the one hand, he loses to Peters by 7 points more than Land does in polling, and his entry would create a divisive primary.  On the other hand, he would start out with a significant CoH advantage over Peters and would probably be a stronger fundraiser than Land.

(7/31/13) Amash isn't out either.

(8/1/13) A new poll has Land and Peters tied, though the pollster has a history of leaning Republican.  The 5 point or so Peters lead found by PPP earlier is probably more accurate.

(8/6/13) Land does have the ability to self-fund.

(8/15/13) This article discusses Land v. Camp.  Also, Dykstra is expected to declare next month.

(8/16/13) Camp out.

(8/20/13) Land has the endorsement of Rep. Candice Miller, a Rep. who preceded Land as Sec. of State.

(8/26/13) One of Jim Geraghty's Michigan sources tells him Small will decide whether to run by September 1st, and that the decision will probably be yes. Then again, one of the many things I've learned blogging these last few months is that a surprisingly large number of politicians will announce a date they'll decide, then not decide by that date (often without explanation).

(9/5/13) It's past the first, and no decision from Small.  At least no one official ever said anything about announcing.  Meanwhile, Harper has a new primary poll out about the race.  Land leads potential competitors by a large margin, getting 45% to 16% for Dykstra, 4% for 2010 congressional candidate Rob Steele, and 2% for Small.  She gets 50% in a head-to-head with Steele, who takes 13%.

(9/14/13) Land trails Peters by 1 in the new EPIC-MRA poll, a pretty good showing, though neither candidate hits 40%, and Peters has a much more obvious path for growth.

(9/16/13) Small out.

(9/18/13) Amash out.  Land now has a pretty clear path to the nomination.

(10/7/13) Land raised a million dollars and lent her campaign another million from her own assets; pretty solid numbers.

(10/11/13) Peters took in another $1 million.

(11/12/13) About time.

(11/21/13) Land is still down by 1 in a new poll, with a large number of undecideds.

(12/10/13) Well, PPP has Land leading by 2.  Still Leans D.

(1/13/14) A rather surprising poll: Harper has Land leading Peters by 8.  I'm skeptical the poll is accurate - it also puts Obama's approval at 35/55, which is far worse than his approval nationally, in a state where it should be better.  I'm still going to keep this Leans D, but I'm open to making it a Tossup.

(1/14/14) Land did have another pretty good fundraising quarter - $1.66 million.

(1/18/14) Rasmussen has Land up 2, but with only 37% of the vote, still well within the expected Republican share of the vote.  Still Leans D, but just barely.

(1/23/14) Another quarter, another million for Peters.

(2/15/14) EPIC-MRA has Land up three in Peters, which means she has now lead in the last four (or, depending on what you count, five) polls, though she still can't get out of the low forties.

Minnesota Likely D Incumbent Al Franken (D)


After all the drama accompanying this seat in 2008, it could be fairly quiet this year, as Franken has boosted his credentials by lying low and proving a serious legislator.  A Bachmann-Franken match would be spectacular, if a foregone conclusion.  A stronger Republican candidate would Rep. John Kline, though he would also start as an underdog.

(4/27/13) Kline will not run.  Rep. Erik Paulsen has not ruled out a candidacy.  Twin Cities businessman Mike McFadden, meanwhile, is a possible alternative in the event Paulsen does not run, leaving the Republicans a choice between Bachmann or a no-name state legislator.

(5/15/13) Paulsen is out.  McFadden is probably the GOP's best option now, particularly since he can self-fund.  I'm told the Minnesota state GOP isn't really up to putting too much money into this race.

(5/21/13) Franken leads all Republicans by 15 points or more in a new poll, though aside from the highly disliked Michele Bachmann, they're very poorly known.  Only 14% of voters have an opinion on McFadden.

(5/24/13) Given that most of the likely GOP candidates have low name recognition, Franken's lead should shrink, though he's fairly safe since he gets over 50% against all comers.

(5/29/13) Michele Bachmann's sudden and unexpected decision not to run for reelection indicates she probably won't run for Senate either.

(529/13) McFadden makes it official.

(6/18/13) Well, this is a bit out of left field. State Rep. Jim Abeler has decided to challenge Franken.  I can't imagine he'd start off too strong in a primary, but, then again, neither does McFadden.

(6/24/13) Franken's approval rating is pretty good, according to a new Star-Tribune poll: 55-29, for a net of +26.

(7/2/13) McFadden brought in a pretty good haul of $700,000.

(8/1/13) State Sen. Julianne Ortman is expected to jump in.

(8/2/13) Meanwhile, McFadden gets the endorsements of Rod Grams and Norm Coleman.

(10/10/13) McFadden took in another $700,000.

(10/19/13) Franken did excellently in fundraising last quarter - $2.1 million.

(10/31/13) There's actually some reasonably good news for Republicans in the new PPP poll.  Franken leads by ten or a little more against all GOP opponents, but he's just under 50% and all the Republicans have name recognition around 20%, suggesting room for growth.  This isn't to say Franken isn't formidable - his fundraising last quarter was third-best in the country for a Senate candidate, and his job approval is still solid, and Minnesota is still a Democratic state - but he may be weaker than originally thought.  He was, after all, one of the weakest-performing Democratic candidates in 2008 (as measured by vote share relative to presidential vote share), and running against Norm Coleman, whose campaign, I'm told, was less than stellar. Republicans shouldn't get too excited, particularly since the poll was taken right in the middle of a big controversy over the troubled Obamacare implementation.

(12/2/13) Franken's approval rating is relatively poor in this new St. Cloud State University poll.

(2/16/14) The Star-Tribune's Minnesota poll has Obama's approval rating underwater, 43-50.  The conditions for a competitive race definitely exist here.

(2/17/14) Although Franken's approval is still pretty good.

(3/5/14) SurveyUSA has Franken leading McFadden by 10 and Ortman by 8.  Meanwhile, a poll for Citizens United gives Ortman a weak lead in the primary, with 16%.


Mississippi Safe R Incumbent Thad Cochran (R)


Cochran is on most retirement watch lists.  The general consensus if he retires is that Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann would be the frontrunner for the Republican nomination.  Rep. Gregg Harper, State Auditor Stacey Pickering, and State Senator Chris McDaniel have also been mentioned as potential Republican candidates.  State Attorney General Jim Hood would probably be the strongest Democratic candidate.

(5/20/13) Cochran says he hopes to decide by June 14th.

(9/20/13) Cochran hasn't decided anything officially, but he's making moves to suggest he wants another term.

(9/26/13) McDaniel may make a run for it anyway.

(10/18/13) McDaniel's in, and he's got backers: the Senate Conservatives Fund, the Club for Growth, and the Madison Project are all supporting him. Mississippi, despite its Republican leanings, is not a state terribly friendly to the Tea Party, and, like many primary challengers, McDaniel should start out at a strong disadvantage.  Of course, it's also worth considering that this may end up driving Cochran to retirement.

(10/21/13) It turns out the Club for Growth is pretty serious about this - they already have an ad up for McDaniel.

(10/25/13) Of course, the support may quickly die off, amid charges McDaniel attended a neoconfederate conference.

(10/29/13) Or, perhaps not.  FreedomWorks is endorsing.

(11/4/13) The Madison Project is putting up ads for McDaniel.

(11/12/13) Cochran will announce his plans at the end of November.

(11/13/13) There's a rather messy controversy going on right now.  Voting records have been released (on Hosemann's orders, claim McDaniel's campaign) that show McDaniel voted in the 2003 Democratic primary.  Ordinarily this wouldn't be much of a problem, given the Democratic origins of many Southern Republican politicians, but McDaniel has been running as a 'lifelong Republican', which this undercuts.

(11/18/13) Former Rep. Travis Childers is thinking about running.  I don't think he'd be as strong as Hood, but he's still one of the Democrats' better options here.

(11/19/13) There's a lot to unpack in PPP's new poll.  First, Cochran is in a very precarious position as far as the primary goes.  His net approval among primary voters is barely positive, and he only leads McDaniel by 6 despite McDaniel only having 50% name recognition.  Among those who have an opinion on both candidates, McDaniel leads by more than 2:1, and Cochran trails the generic 'more conservative challenger' by 20.  If Cochran retires, the primary would be wide open.  The results in a McDaniel/Hosemann/Harper/Rep. Steven Palazzo/Rep. Alan Nunnelee/Pickering/LG Tate Reeves field would be 25/23/15/13/8/5/3.  McDaniel is the weakest candidate in the general election, but not prohibitively so.  He leads Childers and former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove by 3, and trails Hood by 2.  All three Democrats (in all matches) are at roughly the Democratic floor in Mississippi, so their early position relative to McDaniel doesn't suggest this race is a tossup.  Both Hosemann and Cochran would be significantly stronger than McDaniel.

(11/26/13) Well, Pickering says he's in if Cochran retires.

(12/2/13) Cochran missed another deadline to decide whether to seek another term.  Meanwhile, Childers is in if Cochran is out.

(12/6/13) Cochran's finally decided: he's in.  I'm guessing most other candidates will stay out, setting up Cochran v. McDaniel.  In that matchup I would only be able to give Cochran a small advantage; I actually think the primary would be better considered a tossup, or maybe even leaning McDaniel.

(12/9/13) Cochran will be getting primary help from the NRSC.

(1/23/14) McDaniel had a pretty solid partial fundraising quarter - $500,000.

(1/31/14) Cochran has a new SuperPAC backing him.

(2/20/14) Politico has a good write-up of the race here.

(2/28/14) Childers in.  I'll keep this Safe R, but if McDaniel wins the primary this could become 'more' competitive, though I don't think Childers has much of a chance even in that case.

(3/13/14) Sarah Palin is endorsing McDaniel.


Montana Leans R Incumbent Max Baucus (D) (Retiring)

Baucus is definitely vulnerable thanks to his role in Obamacare, and has suffered upside-down approval ratings for the last few years, though they've recovered some from their lows.  A strong Republican like Rep. Steve Daines or former Gov. Marc Racicot might put this in the Leans R colmun, but polling finds Baucus leading already-declared candidate former State Sen. Corey Stapleton  and potential candidates state Rep. Champ Edmunds and state AG Tim Fox by 7, 10, and 3, respectively.  A wild card is popular former Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who's sent mixed messages about his intentions (He's said he's not senile enough to serve in the Senate, but posted a poll showing him leading Baucus in a primary on his Facebook page; he may also have a bid for President in mind), but would most likely beat Baucus in a primary and be a stronger candidate in the general election.

(4/23/13) The big story today is that Baucus will retire, and that Schweitzer is considering running.  If Schweitzer gets in this will straddle the line between Leans and Likely D, as Schweitzer leads Stapleton and Edmunds (the only two declared candidates) by double digits.  Steve Daines or Marc Racicot could still make this a tossup, but Schweitzer will be formidable.  If Schweitzer doesn't run, the Democrats won't lack for candidates, as they hold most statewide elected offices.  Former NARAL president Nancy Keenan is another Democratic possibility.  A Democrat not named Schweitzer would make this a tossup at best, but only if stronger Republicans like Fox, Daines, or Racicot decline.

(5/5/13) Interesting results from this Harper poll, which tends to support what I've already written.  Schweitzer might well be a dominant candidate.  He leads Daines by 10, Racicot by 4, and blows Stapleton away by 25.  If Schweitzer passes, Democrats would have a decent candidate in State Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau - with a +16 approval rating, she defeats Stapleton by 11, loses to Daines by a relatively close 6 points, but to Racicot by 15.  Bottom line: Democrats should pray they get Schweitzer and Republicans should pray they get a stronger candidate.  The likelihood of the latter occurring is probably inversely correlated with the likelihood of the former occurring.

(5/12/13) I should note that 2012 Republican candidate Denny Rehberg is also taking a look at the race.  He is an interesting possibility.  Absent any polling of him post-2012, I decided to take a look at the polls of his 2012 race to look for favorability numbers.  The results were unedifying thanks to massive disagreement between polling firms.  A late October poll from Mason-Dixon had him at +2.  Pharos Research had him around +15/+17 in mid-to-late October.  PPP had him consistently around -10/-12 in October and their pre-election November poll had him at -17 (all can be found here).  Interestingly, both the Pharos and PPP polls roughly agreed on the outcome.

(5/24/13) Along with Juneau, some non-Schweitzer Democratic possibilities include EMILY's List President Stephanie Schriock, State Auditor Monica Lindeen, State Rep. Franke Wilmer, and former state Superintendent of Public Instruction and former NARAL President Nancy Keenan.

(6/8/13) Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans for Congress is trying to draft State Senator Ryan Zinke to run.  He is considering.  I'd guess Zinke would be more along the lines of a Stapleton or an Edmunds in terms of candidate strength, at least initially.

(6/17/13) The Missoulian's Democratic sources expect Schweitzer to run.  He says he will decide and announce soon.

(6/18/13) Schweitzer is avoiding a decision as only he can.

(6/25/13) There's a lot in PPP's new poll.  Their write-up describes the results pretty well.  Both sides have first- and second-tier candidates among those tested.  For Republicans, Daines and Racicot are first-tier, Edmunds and Stapleton second.  For Democrats, Schweitzer's first and Juneau and Lindeen are second.  In the case of first-tier vs. first tier or second-tier vs. second-tier, the race would basically be a tossup, with perhaps a small advantage for Democrats, but in any first-tier vs. second-tier race the first-tier candidate will be solidly favored.  I'll keep this Leans D for the time being because as far as I can tell Democrats are more likely to get Schweitzer than Republicans are to get Racicot or Daines, but this is the race most likely to become a Tossup.

(7/9/13) Looks like Daines is pretty seriously considering - he's ramped up his fundraising and is hosting a fundraiser with NRSC Vice Chairman Rob Portman.  I suppose I might as well just make this a Tossup.

(7/11/13) Portman isn't the only national Republican who has been helping Daines - John Thune and Mitch McConnel have as well.

(7/13/13) Schweitzer won't run.  Things to keep an eye on in the coming weeks: whether Daines or Racicot get in, and who the Dems put up in Schweitzer's place, as Lindeen or Juneau would both still be fairly strong.  As it stands, this will stay a Tossup until the Republican Big Two make their decisions (a yes from either would propel this into Leans R) or unless the Dem second-tier bench declines.

(7/15/13) Lindeen and Juneau are both considering.

(7/15/13) If Daines runs, he'll have one less bit of primary trouble - Edmunds would drop out and run for Daines' house seat.  Interestingly, this is how Daines himself ended up in the House; he was running against Jon Tester when (now former) Rep. Denny Rehberg entered the race, at which point Daines ran for Rehberg's vacated seat.

(7/16/13) Lindeen won't run.  Juneau is still considering, while Lt. Gov. John Walsh would probably be a solid Dem candidate.

(7/17/13) 77-year-old Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger - a moderate Republican elected on a ticket with Schweitzer - is thinking about running as a Democrat or Independent.  He might also be a strong candidate, if only because of his association with Schweitzer (though he does have bipartisan credentials).

(7/26/13) Daines seems to be taking his time on a decision.  In the meantime, I think the state of the race more accurately reflects a Leans R rating.

(7/30/13) Schriock won't run.  This isn't too much of a blow, as I don't think she would have been that much of a strong candidate (Schweitzer was the first tier, Bohlinger, Juneau, Lindeen, and Walsh the second).  Another thing to keep in mind is that if Daines runs some of the Democrats might find his open House seat a more attractive option.

(8/2/13) Baucus' state director John Lewis has resigned to explore a run, either for Senate or House, Daines says he's seriously thinking about a run, and David Axelrod is touting Obama campaign adviser Jim Messina as a possible candidate (though Messina will be quite tied up for the next few years).  I half wonder if this indicates the Dems aren't going to get the second-tier candidates mentioned above.  Lewis and Axelrod are both important Democratic figures, so they have to be at least partially in the loop about this.  It's rather odd to see them preempting the three Democrats this way.

(8/2/13) It is possible I'm overreading this.  Lewis didn't commit to exploring only the Senate race - the House race was also a possibility.  Axelrod touted Messina in a Tweet.

(8/5/13) Walsh doesn't sound too enthusiastic about running.

(8/5/13) Juneau out.

(8/26/13) Lewis appears to be making a House bid.

(9/4/13) Stapleton has decided to run for Daines' House seat instead.  Two important developments: 1) This basically clears the field for Daines, and 2) Stapleton didn't qualify his statement of candidacy with "If Steve runs for the Senate" etc., he simply declared he'd run, indicating that either he knows Daines' decision behind the scenes and Daines will run for Senate, or that Stapleton is just really confident it'll happen.

(9/4/13) Democrats have their first minor candidate: rancher Dirk Adams.

(9/5/13) On the other hand, Stapleton says he'd bet the farm on Daines running.  This is not a comment with a good track record in this race, as Sen. Jon Tester bet his farm on Schweitzer running a couple weeks before Schweitzer decided not to.

(9/6/14) Politico discusses Adams' history as a banker in the financial crisis.  This is more of a problem given the state, which tends to lean populist.  It's worth remembering that Obama came this close to winning it in 2008, much closer than it usually is, and probably a result of the financial crisis.

(9/9/13) Roll Call has a long profile of Walsh, possibly the last remaining Democratic possibility above the third tier.  He also appears to be looking more closely than I originally expected.

(9/12/13) Probably more interesting than important, but Walsh is engaged in a minor and possibly accidental (he claims) sex scandal.

(9/16/13) This isn't much of a surprise, but former Governor Racicot won't run for Baucus' seat, and "strongly encourage[s]" Daines to run.

(10/3/13) Well, Walsh is in.  I'll keep this Leans R for now.  There's no polling I could find on Walsh, but I consider him comparable at this point to Juneau or Lindeen, who both trailed Daines by double digits.  That said, Walsh is very formidable, and this is in no way in the bag for Republicans.

(10/19/13) Daines had another quarter of very high fundraising for a House candidate.

(10/24/13) Daines will decide by the end of the year.

(11/1/13) Well, we finally have a decision.  Daines looks like he's in.

(11/6/13) In one of the worst-timed announcements in history (it was completely overshadowed by the close governor and AG races in Virginia), Bohlinger says he will run for the Senate as a Democrat.  He should be a solid contender for the Democratic nomination at the start, given his ties to Schweitzer and his general popularity (admittedly, that is an old poll, so things may have changed).  His advanced age and establishment support for Walsh work against him, but his entry does put Schweitzer in a interesting bind, given that he served under Schweitzer as Lieutenant Governor, and was picked by Schweitzer for that job.

(11/7/13) Daines is officially in.  Meanwhile, Bohlinger's started his campaign off with a bang.

(11/12/13) Bohlinger's trying to run a populist campaign, but is having trouble explaining his earlier votes on abortion as a Republican.  My guess is this won't be the last time.

(11/13/13) Schweitzer's keeping out of the primary, saying that he picked both Walsh and Bohlinger for important jobs and likes both of them.

(11/19/13) Daines is in a pretty good position thus far, according to PPP.  He leads Bohlinger by 15 and Walsh by 17.  Montanans disapprove of President Obama by 29 points and Obamacare by 27 points, and by 68 points say the ACA rollout has been unsuccessful (63% say very unsuccessful).  He leads Edmunds by 59 points in the primary.  That said, there are some caveats I should mention.  Daines' name recognition is much higher than Walsh's or Bohlinger's, and most of the undecideds are Democrats or Independents.  This poll was, of course, taken at a very good time for the GOP.  And finally, Daines does appear to have been damaged by the shutdown - his net approval is down 13 points since their last poll.  It hasn't shown up in the head-to-heads yet, but if (when?) Obamacare fades as an issue, Daines should be vulnerable over the shutdown.

(12/7/13) Not that it's really a big deal, given his massive lead over Edmunds (who is recasting himself as a Tea Party insurgent), but Daines has been endorsed by the Tea Party Express.

(12/18/13) Big news: Baucus will be appointed as Ambassador to China, creating a vacancy.  Like most analysts, I see this a a generally good thing for Democrats; they get the unpopular Baucus out of the picture, boost Walsh's name recognition and fundraising (most people see him as the most likely appointment), and help solidify his position against Bohlinger (of course, he does get tarred by Washington, and may have to make unpopular votes). Schweitzer and Messina are the the other two possible appointments I've seen mentioned.  Both would presumably be placeholders (though appointing Schweitzer and getting him to run would be a huge coup).

(12/31/13) Walsh is dealing with another relatively minor scandal (at least that's what it seems to me) about improper use of authority while he was in the National Guard.

(1/2/14) Walsh will ask Bullock to appoint him once Baucus resigns.

(1/23/14) Well, that's one Democratic headache probably over.  Bohlinger's says he'll consider leaving the primary if Walsh is appointed.

(1/28/14) Daines raised over $1 million last quarter.

(2/3/14) Walsh brought in almost $600,000 last quarter, decent but well behind Daines.  Bohlinger's fundraising, meanwhile, was nearly nonexistent (just $20,000).  I suspect he very seriously is considering dropping out.

(2/6/14) Baucus was confirmed as Ambassador to China today.  Reports are that Gov. Bullock may take some time to choose a replacement, and that Walsh isn't a lock to get it.

(2/8/14) Never mind, Walsh it is.  Now the big question is whether Bohlinger actually does drop out.

(2/21/14) The Washington Post's Monkey Cage blog points out what I've suspected for a while: appointed Senators don't get most of the electoral benefits of incumbency elected incumbents do.

(3/10/14) No, Bohlinger is staying in the race.

Nebraska Safe R Incumbent Mike Johanns (R) (Retiring)


Where does an 800-pound gorilla sit?  Anywhere it wants, including, apparently, the U.S. Senate.  Bad joke, I know, but I just had to do it since that became pundits' favorite descriptor for Gov. Dave Heineman  after Johanns' surprise retirement.  Heineman hasn't declared his intentions yet, but, with two 3:1 statewide routs under his belt, he would be a heavy favorite if he decided to run.  If he doesn't, a wide field could quickly develop, potentially including all three Reps. (Lee Terry, Jeff Fortenberry, and Adrian Smith), and a bevy of current and former state officials (AG Jon Bruning, Treasurer and four-time candidate Don Stenberg, former Treasurer Shane Osborne, and Auditor Mark Foley).  Whatever happens, the Democratic Party will not figure prominently - they ran their strongest candidate last year, and he lost to a weak Republican by 17 points.

(5/15/13) According to this piece by David Hawkings at Roll Call, Heineman is expected to run.

(5/20/13) Journal-Star political columnist Don Walton also thinks he will go for it.

(5/25/13) Larry Sabato is reporting that Heineman is out.  Still Safe R for now.

(5/28/13) Here's Hotline's take on the race post-Heineman.  Osborn says he'll make a decision soon; Terry is trying to convince Heineman to reconsider.  We can probably expect a contested primary.  Bruning won't run.  Watch out for Midlands University president Ben Sasse, who has the backing of some in the party including former chairman Mark Fahleson.

(5/28/13) Stuart Rothenberg's sources think Osborn's running.

(5/29/13) The Senate Conservatives Fund will oppose Fortenberry if he runs.  Also, keep in mind that there's an open governor's race occurring concurrently, which could draw of some candidates.  Third, businessman and 2006 nominee Pete Ricketts is considering a run.

(5/29/13) Fortenberry won't run.

(5/30/13) Sasse is testing the waters.

(6/2/13) Osborn is in.  Smith won't run; possible Democrats include State Sen. Steve Lathrop (who appears to be leaning towards running for Governor), Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler, and former Lt. Gov. Kim Robak.  Retiring Senator Johanns had an interesting point - namely, that Republican primary winners in Nebraska tend to be underdogs who come from behind.  The Journal-Star has a photogallery of 10 possibilities here.

(6/7/13) New Harper Poll out.  It isn't terribly useful except for broad generalizations because of their weird (yes, I know I've said that about a lot of polls lately) method of testing candidates - i.e., testing two candidates against each other, then two separate candidates, and so on, so it's difficult to make comparisons.  The Republicans lead the Democrats by margins of 9 to 18.  In a general, Beutler and Robak look to be the strongest Democrats, and Osborn and Foley to be the strongest Republicans.  Declined candidate Bruning leads the Republican primary with 29%; Osborn follows with 18, Ricketts gets 12, Foley 9, and Sasse 3.  In a Democratic primary Robak leads with 19, Beutler and Lathrop get 13, and Meister takes 6 (Second-placer Chuck Hassebrook isn't running).  Sasse has very low name recognition; only 17%.  Watch for a possible Independent bid by State Senator Brad Ashford, who appears to be a conservative.

(7/23/13) Sasse is in.  Meanwhile, it looks like Ricketts will run for Governor instead.

(8/26/13) Lawyer Bart McLeay is in, and banker Sid Dinsdale will soon follow.

(9/12/13) Osborn has a pretty wide primary lead, with 41% to 7% for Dinsdale, 5% for Sasse, and 2% for McLeay.  The last three have terrible name recognition (it's also possible some respondents confused Osborn with popular former Congressman Tom Osborne).  It's also worth remembering that solid leads this early out don't really mean much in Nebraska.

(9/16/13) Dinsdale in.

(9/30/13) Sasse pulled in a huge amount of money last quarter - $750,000, which is apparently a state record, and is 3 times Osborn's fundraising.  I still consider Osborn the favorite, but Sasse has shown he's competitive.

(10/22/13) Meanwhile, the Senate Conservatives Fund has endorsed Sasse.

(11/1/13) An Osborn internal poll has him at 39%, with 7% each for Sasse and Dinsdale, and 1% for McLeay.

(11/7/13) Sasse won the endorsement of the Club for Growth.

(11/11/13) The conservative outside groups are split.  FreedomWorks is for Osborn.

(11/20/13) Paul Ryan is backing Sasse.

(1/9/14) National Review has a cover story on Sasse.  I'm increasingly beginning to think he'll be this year's Ted Cruz.

(1/30/14) Dinsdale led in fundraising this time, taking $685,000 to $570,000 for Sasse, $369,000 for Osborn, and $134,000 for McLeay, though Sasse still leads in cash on hand.

(2/6/14) Sasse is coming on strong.  Harper now has him just over 1 point behind Osborn.

(2/21/14) The Family Research Council is supporting Sasse.

(3/4/14) Phyllis Schlafly is endorsing Osborn, but Sasse probably comes out ahead with the support of Mike Lee.

(3/13/14) Sasse gets Sarah Palin's endorsement.  Meanwhile, a new poll has him trailing Osborn by 11.


New Hampshire Leans D Incumbent Jeanne Shaheen (D)


It's hard to predict much politically in New Hampshire these days.  In 2008, it voted for two Dems for Congress, put Shaheen in the Senate, went 10 points for Obama, and returned Democratic Governor John Lynch by more than 40.  Two years later, it replaced the two Dems with Republicans, voted Republican Kelly Ayotte for Senate by more than 20 points, held Lynch to 7 points, and produced a huge landslide for the GOP in the legislature.  Two years after that, it went for Obama, put Dem Maggie Hassan in the governor's office by a solid margin, threw out the two Republican Reps. it had just installed, and returned the state house to the Democrats.  This is just a roundabout way of saying that, given New Hampshire's recent political history, anything can happen.  That said, it's been trending blue and Shaheen is strong enough in early polls to earn a Leans D.

(4/7/13) Rumors have been swirling about a possible Scott Brown candidacy.  There are some definite advantages.  New Hampshire is probably a better fit for Brown than Massachusetts, and voters there will know him quite a bit thanks to shared media markets.  The opportunistic carpetbagger charges, however, will be vicious, and it's still probably much less likely than not.

(4/23/13) Shaheen leads all Republicans by double digits according to Politico, and has a +14 approval rating.  I'm moving this to Likely D for now.

(7/23/13) According to Hotline, State Sen. Majority Leader and former Rep. Jeb Bradley is leaning towards a run and probably won't face too much trouble in the primary.  Shaheen leads Bradley by 22 in a poll from the Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth.  Meanwhile, in case Scott Brown is still thinking about running here, Shaheen leads him by 15 in the Rockefeller poll and 19 in a New England College poll.

(7/24/13) On the other hand, there's this: former Sen. Bob Smith is looking at reclaiming his old seat.  I'm not sure he'd be as strong as one might expect in the primary.  He actually lost this seat in one 12 years ago, and since then he's moved to Florida and tried to revive his political career there, without much success.

(8/5/13) Shaheen has very solid favorability ratings in this new poll.

(8/6/13) Bradley told Peter King "all the rumors are true" about a Senate bid, but later walked it backed.

(8/12/13) Conservative activist Karen Testerman and State Sen. Jim Rubens are exploring candidacies.

(9/3/13) Bradley out.  Meanwhile, Republicans are looking at a possible candidacy by University of New Hampshire business and economics school dean Dan Innis.

(9/6/13) Former Rep. Charlie Bass is considering a run.  I'm a bit surprised, as he seemed the defeated former Republican congressman least likely to go for it.  He doesn't really change things much, though I expect he'd be stronger than Rubens or Testerman.

(9/17/13) There's a lot in PPP's new poll.  Shaheen is in a bit more precarious situation than earlier polls suggest, but still not in too much trouble yet.  She leads Brown by 4, Bass by 10, Innis by 22, Rubens by 17, Smith by 16, and Testerman by 19, and gets a solid-but-not-great +7 net approval rating.  The good news for Republicans is that if they have a decent candidate with good name recognition, they should be able to make it reasonably close.  Neither Innis, nor Rubens, nor Testerman have name recognition above 30%, and they trail by around twenty.  Bass has 75% name recognition, but his disapproval outweighs his approval by almost twenty points.  He trails by 10.  Brown's net favorability is 0, name recognition 80%, and he trails by 4.  This doesn't suggest they will win if they do that.  Shaheen is at or very close to a majority in all head-to-heads.  I'm somewhat skeptical of Innis', Testerman's, or Rubens' ability to threaten Shaheen, but I wouldn't be too surprised if this was fairly close; after all, that's what happened last time around.  I'm not going to put this back to Leans D, but it may go there again at some point.

(9/19/13) Innis appears to be running for the HouseRubens is in.

(9/30/13) Brown's put his Massachusetts house on the market.

(10/10/13) Smith out.

(10/11/13) Testerman in.

(10/19/13) Shaheen took in nearly $1 million last quarter - a pretty good haul.

(10/22/13) In the Granite State Poll, Shaheen leads Rubens by 25 and Bass by 18.

(10/28/13) Now Brown's creating a SuperPAC from his old campaign apparatus, registered in New Hampshire.

(10/31/13) Bass is meeting with some prominent Republicans.

(11/1/13) On the other hand, Brown's been been making some interesting moves too.

(11/4/13) Bass out.

(11/8/13) Well, national Republicans are trying to get Brown to run.  Meanwhile, there's a story on Roll Call headlined 'Scott Brown Steps Up Flirtation With NH Senate Run'.  For some reason, I can't access it, but here's the link anyway.

(12/1/13) Well, Smith is back in.  The possibility of Brown running has been declining for a while with time, and I think this will probably put him out of the race.  The last thing he needs is to move to another state and end up losing the primary.  Smith isn't nearly as formidable as his biography would suggest, but it's still a chance to take.  In the existing primary I would have to give him frontrunner status, given his name recognition and long history in the state, but I wouldn't be terribly surprised if Rubens or Testerman upset him.  After all, he lost the last Republican primary he ran in in NH, and spent the last decade flirting with third parties and failing in runs for Senate in Florida.

(12/2/13) Then again, Brown may not be quite out yet.

(12/3/13) Brown is still dropping hints about running and may not make a decision before January.  Recently, he dropped 'MA' from his Twitter handle, wrote an op-ed about Obamacare in the state; he will be keynoting the state party's Christmas celebration.

(12/10/13) State party officials are cautiously optimistic Brown will run.

(12/16/13) He is now moving to New Hampshire.

(12/18/13) Shaheen leads Brown by 10 and Smith by 18, according to the American Research Group.

(1/18/14) Little has changed in the general election between PPP's two polls of this race.  More interesting, albeit expected, findings: Brown has a 30-point lead in the primary, but might be vulnerable on abortion, assault weapons, and carpetbagging.  If Brown doesn't run, Smith leads the primary, but with an unimpressive 26% of the vote.

(1/30/14) Brown ties Shaheen 44/44 in a Purple Strategies poll.  If he runs, this will be Leans D at least, maybe Tossup.

(2/3/14) On the other hand, UNH has Shaheen up 10.

(2/5/14) LCV is already spending against Brown.

(3/9/14) Boston Herald has Shaheen with 52% against Brown, leading by 13.

(3/13/14) Well, looks like Brown may be in (he's setting up an exploratory committee).  Back to Leans D.

New Jersey (2013 special) Safe D Incumbent Frank Lautenberg (D) (Retiring)


Cory Booker probably has the Democratic nomination sewed up, though his first few months in the race haven't been particularly well done, and the degree to which his popularity is superficial is unknown.  Reps. Frank Pallone and Rush Holt have both indicated interest.  That all said, Booker does lead a possible primary field by about 5 times the support of the next-closest challenger in polling.  The most talked about Republican is Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, while Geraldo Rivera is openly considering.  I suppose he would at least make it entertaining.  Republicans haven't won a Senate race in over forty years here, and there's no indication this race will break that trend.

(5/15/13) According to this piece by David Hawkings at Roll Call, Pallone is expected to run.

(6/3/13) Rest in peace, Senator Lautenberg.  I will address the political implications tomorrow.

(6/4/13) Most people didn't wait a day to begin writing about politics - understandable, I suppose.  Here's a number of pieces that have been written (all separate links).  To sum: Christie gets to pick a replacement, and also probably when the special election will occur.  He and those involved face various incentives that shake up the race.  Christie will be advantaged if he sets the special to occur in November 2014 - his appointee will have more time to gain seniority, and the election will not occur on the same day as the Governor's race.  Democrats, meanwhile, will be advantaged if it occurs on Election Day 2013, as Cory Booker (who would presumably run) would be able to turn out Democrats and African-Americans gubernatorial nominee Buono couldn't, creating problems for Christie.  Christie's incentives also affect who he will appoint - a conservative Republican would shore up support among conservatives, making a 2016 presidential run easier, but will also hurt the bipartisan image he's worked hard to build up recently, also negatively affecting his reelection.  A moderate pick or placeholder would further wreck his 2016 support among conservatives, but a moderate would not affect his reelection too adversely and might have an easier time holding the seat.  Cory Booker will presumably run in the special as well as general election - a 2013 special makes a primary with Frank Pallone more likely as Pallone wouldn't have to give up his seat - they could also choose a convention.  This will, at least temporarily, give Republicans one more seat in the Senate, though the Democrats will have a pretty good chance of taking it back in the special or general, particularly if Booker is their candidate.  We can say more once Christie announces his pick and sets the date of the special.

(6/4/13) The special election will occur on October 16 with primaries on August 13.  Rumor is that Christie is looking for a placeholder.  If that's true, he'll probably pick former Gov. Tom Kean Sr., who was very popular.  If it's a placeholder (or even if it's not, given the timeline) Democrats have a very good chance of retaking the seat.  meanwhile, Booker has a very good chance of winning the Democratic primary - he starts out on top, so the quicker he can get it sewn up, the more likely it is to happen.  It is, at the very least, a tall order to expect Pallone, Rob Andrews, or Rush Holt to introduce themselves to the electorate and erase a 40+ point deficit in the polls against the popular Booker at short notice in the space of two months.

(6/4/13) Politico is reporting that Pallone and Holt are planning to run.  Have fun, guys, I guess.  I suppose they don't really have too much to lose since they can keep their seats.

(6/4/13) Politico has a good piece here.  I'd assumed that since Booker was the only one who had been in the race before Lautenberg's death, he would have an advantage in a quick primary because he had an apparatus and everything set up.  That's partly true, but Pallone has significantly more money than Booker, who was apparently caught flat-footed.  Andrews may also be considering.

(6/5/13) Conservative activist Steve Lonegan is likely to run as a Republican.  He might be a force to watch in the primary - he got 42% of the vote against Christie in 2009 - but I have serious doubts about his general election viability.

(6/5/13) Rep. Bill Pascrell is thinking about running, while Pallone's long career will help him with organization.

(6/6/13) Contrary to the desperate scramble to run on the Democratic side, there is a desperate scramble not to run on Republican side.  State Senators Tom Kean Jr., Michael Doherty, Kevin O'Toole, and Joe Kyrillos have all officially declined or are leaning towards doing so.  Assemblyman Jay Bramnick might still run.  Meanwhile, Lonegan is collecting signatures and has already been compared to Christine O'Donnell.

(6/6/13) Holt and Booker are both running.

(6/6/13) Businessman Joe Plumeri is also considering.

(6/6/13) For what it's worth, Christie is appointing AG Jeff Chiesa to the seat.  He will not run in the special.

(6/6/13) Bramnick out.

(6/7/13) Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and Hoboken City Councilwoman are both thinking about candidacies.

(6/7/13) According to blogger Bill Pascoe, Lonegan is a candidate Republicans should be concerned about.  Best line of the post: "The difference between Todd Akin and Steve Lonegan is that Todd Akin stepped on himself inadvertently".  I'd just note - and this is not the main thrust of the post (for that head over to New Jersey Governor 2013) - that Republicans would have a difficult time taking this seat regardless.  I've said it before elsewhere that Republican chances to hold the seat only went from low to lower.  It is important that, given the short deadline for ballot access, Lonegan may be the only Republican running.

(6/7/13) Geraldo Rivera is not running.

(6/10/13) Oliver is planning to run.  I don't think she'll have too much of an effect of in the primary, but she could end up drawing black votes from Booker.  The new Quinnipiac poll released today has some good information on the Democratic primary.  Booker maintains the 40+ point lead I noted earlier, getting 53% to 10% for Holt and 9% Pallone.  Even if the two other factors mentioned in the release - Oliver and organization - break against Booker, he's still the very clear frontrunner.  Part of Holt's and Pallone's problems are low name recognition, but both of their favorability ratings among Democrats significantly outperform their primary vote.  Lonegan loses to Booker by 27, Pallone by 10, and Holt by 5.  The fact that the last two don't crush Lonegan is, I'd suggest, primarily a function of their low name recognition.

(6/10/13) Former President of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons Alieta Eck is running as a Republican.

(6/10/13) The filing deadline is past and the candidates are set (I suppose it's possible one of them could get kicked off the ballot for having invalid signatures, but it's a remote possibility since everyone turned in more than twice the required amount.  On the Republican side, it's Eck v. Lonegan; Oliver, Holt, Pallone, and Booker all met the deadline for the Democratic primary.  I've already written extensively about the Democratic primary.  In the Republican primary I suspect Lonegan will have a significant advantage over Eck, given his proven strength among significant elements of the primary electorate and the fact that those he is most appealing to are also those who are most likely to turn out.

(6/11/13) Another poll puts Booker well on top and over 50% in the Democratic primary.  Unfortunately, Oliver and Eck weren't in the race at the time, so they aren't included.  Oliver would probably draw votes mostly from Booker, but at 55% and with Holt and Pallone running equal, he can lose a lot before he runs into danger.  Meanwhile, Booker has won primary endorsements from two big-time state power brokers - Joe DiVincenzo and George Norcross.

(6/12/13) Things are just getting better for Booker.  Reports are that neither of the two most powerful state unions - who like Holt and Pallone, have frosty relations with Booker, and are very influential - will endorse in the race, making it harder for Pallone or Holt to break out of their low poll numbers.

(6/13/13) New poll out of Monmouth - including Oliver - has Booker with a 53-point lead.  Booker gets 63%, Holt gets 10%, Pallone 8%, and Oliver 6%.  Low name recognition continues to be a problem for the latter three, but it's also bigger than that.  All three have name recognition above 40% and total favorable ratings just under 40% among Democrats - yet they're still stuck in single digits (yes, I know Holt is technically in double digits, the point is that he's down at the bottom with the others).  Other results are that Lonegan might not be as weak as I previously thought.  We'll have to see what happens in the campaign, but even considering low name recognition he does fairly well in head-to-heads, trailing Oliver by 2, Holt by 3, Pallone by 5, and Booker by 16, every time getting near or above 40% of the vote.  His net favorability rating is pretty good: +14 in general, +18 among Independents, and +62 among Republicans.  Eck at this point doesn't look to be much of an influential candidate.  She has only 11% name recognition and only 3% favorability, and she has name recognition of 15% and net favorability of -6 among Republicans (they didn't even bother to test the primary).

(6/14/13) Lonegan is trying to get Eck thrown off the ballot.  I must say I don't see the logic of his actions.  Eck isn't a threat to him (see previous entry), and this takes up time he needs to prepare for the general, and embroils him in controversy.  I also find it amusing that they are asking a woman they are accusing of committing electoral fraud to join forces with them.

(6/16/13) Challenges to the date set by Christie have failed in a unanimous ruling by an appellate panel of judges.  This may move to the state Supreme Court.

(6/18/13) Kyle Trygstad writes here that Booker may not be as strong as the polls suggest.  I encourage you to read it.

(6/19/13) Yet another poll shows Booker with a heavy lead.

(6/27/13) Booker and Lonegan both lead their respective primaries by large margins.

(7/3/13) Pallone says he expects Booker to have wiped out his lead in cash-on-hand when the fundraising reports start coming out.  This is looking more and more like a walk for Booker.  Pallone's CoH advantage was the only big thing he had going for him.  And, if Booker's caught up to Pallone, he's left Holt and Oliver in the dust.

(7/8/13) Pallone has the endorsement of Lautenberg's family.  I expect it will help him somewhat, but he needs a lot more than that to overcome his deficit in the polls.

(7/9/13) Quinnipiac released a new poll today.  It shows basically what most of the other polls have: New Jerseyans love Booker, don't really know any of the other candidates, Booker leads Lonegan easily, Lonegan runs roughly even with the other three Democrats thanks to name recognition, Republicans love Lonegan, Eck is a nonentity in this race, Lonegan shows surprising strength among Independents, and Booker and Lonegan look to have an easy time in their respective primaries.

(7/11/13) Booker brought in $4.6 million this quarter, making it ever less likely he will lose the primary.  Meanwhile, I might as well upgrade the general to Safe D.

(7/16/13) Ho hum - another big Booker lead.  Meanwhile, in contrast to Booker's millions, Lonegan raised less than $200,000.

(7/25/13) Booker raised $2 million in less than a month since the last filing deadline.

(8/7/13) Quinnipiac finds that Booker has maintained his huge lead but Pallone and Holt have consolidated support to the point where they're at least in the high teens.  Lonegan is set to win the Republican primary even more overwhelmingly but, as expected, get steamrollered in the general.

(8/14/13) Booker and Lonegan won their respective primaries by, as expected, huge margins.  Despite some recently-broken scandals, I still see the election as safe for Booker.  Why?  Booker starts out with a huge cushion lead of 25 points in the last Quinnipiac poll.  In attempting to knock that out, Lonegan's going to be heavily outgunned - Booker has $4 million cash-on-hand and has raised $8.6 million since the election started,  Lonegan has $150,000 cash-on-hand and has raised $325,000 - and Chris Christie won't be helping him with any more than an endorsement.

(8/20/13) In the first post-primary poll, Booker leads by 16 with 54%.

(8/27/13) Plus, Lonegan isn't exactly providing an appealing alternative.

(8/27/13) Booker gets 50% and a 28% lead over Lonegan.

(9/11/13) Booker leads Lonegan 64% to 29% according to a Rutgers-Eagleton poll.  Booker's position hasn't changed much with a +44 net favorability rating, but Lonegan has hurt himself, as his net favorability, which had been in the low double digits, is now zero.  The only thing keeping it from being negative is that fewer Democrats than Republicans recognize his name.

(9/17/13) Lonegan will be getting help from Christie after all; they'll be doing a fundraiser together.  Not that it really matters.

(9/18/13) Jim Geraghty joked on Twitter this morning that NR intern Eliana Johnson was by herself causing more trouble for Booker than the NRSC and the entire Lonegan campaign combined.  I think that's probably accurate.

(9/24/13) Quinnipiac has a rather surprising result in their new poll of the race: Booker only leads by 12 with 53%.  Part of this can probably be explained by their moving to likely voters, but not all of it.  Booker's net approval has taken a significant hit: +23, down from the forties/upper thirties, while Lonegan's back in positive territory at +13.  I still can't see any way Lonegan wins, but this may not be quite the blowout that once might have been expected.  On the other hand, Stockton has Booker leading by 26.

(9/26/13) Now Booker has been caught exchanging flirtatious messages with a stripper in Oregon over Twitter.  Ultimately, this is probably insignificant, as Booker is unmarried and the messages are relatively innocuous.

(9/27/13) The Quinnipiac poll mentioned above and the recent scandals bedeviling Booker have led some speculate that Lonegan might actually manage to pull off an upset - see, for example, this piece by Peter Roff on US News Opinion.  I've said before I think it will probably be closer than originally expected, however Lonegan still has immense obstacles to overcome.  First, that Quinnipiac poll is a bit of an outlier.  Kean University just released a poll that had Lonegan in the low thirties and trailing by 19.  The RCP Average has Booker taking 55% and Lonegan 32%.  Second, even if we take the Quinnipiac numbers alone, Lonegan still has a while to go.  Booker still has a majority, and the 41%, while a nice improvement, isn't necessarily as impressive as it seems.  Last cycle, Joe Kyrillos managed just under 40% despite having only 33% name recognition in the last poll before Election Day.  Third, there's the money disparity I mentioned earlier.  Anytime he wants to, Booker can start pounding Lonegan with ads that Lonegan won't be able to counter (because he has no money), and Lonegan's provided plenty of targets by, for example, questioning Booker's sexuality. So, this is staying Safe D for the time being.  Final point: the GOP has not won a Senate seat here in forty years, and it's just really difficult to see that trend being broken by Steve Lonegan against Cory Booker (unscientific, I know, but still).

(9/28/13) Booker's getting annoyed.  Meanwhile, the New York Post is having a field day with this.

(10/1/13) It does appear the Quinnipiac poll was accurate: Monmouth has Booker up 13 (53/40), while Lonegan's internal polling has Booker up 6 (48/42). The internals almost certainly lean towards Lonegan (which usually happens), but correcting for the standard bias (which I'm told is about 6 points) would support the Quinnipiac and Monmouth results.  Either way, it probably doesn't matter; Booker is starting to fight back.

(10/2/13) Lonegan's latest fundrasing haul - $1 million - is respectable, but he only has $241,000 left in the bank.

(10/3/13) Booker pulled in almost $3 million, and has $2.6 million cash on hand; much less CoH than I expected, given his strong fundraising throughout the race.

(10/4/13) Now Lonegan's pollster is claiming he's only three points behind (47/44).  Stuart Rothenburg has a good piece here explaining why these results shouldn't be taken seriously that goes beyond the unrealistic nature of the results and a general suspicion of internal polls.  And, of course, as I've alluded to before, regardless of whether these numbers are accurate, this is probably the high-water mark of the Lonegan campaign, now that Booker's figured out he can't just sleepwalk to the Senate.

(10/7/13) As if Booker needed any more advantages: now Michael Bloomberg's dumping a million dollars into ads to help him.

(10/8/13) Rasmussen has Booker up 12.

(10/14/13) Monmouth has Booker up 10.


New Mexico Safe D Incumbent Tom Udall (D)


Udall is a popular incumbent in what could now probably be called a blue state, and should have little trouble.  Potential Republicans include Lt. Gov. John Sanchez and Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry.

(7/26/13) I doubt Berry will be a candidate, as he's running for reelection as Mayor this year, and thus would have to start a campaign right after being reelected (which seems like the most likely outcome right now).

(10/19/13) Las Cruces Assistant District Attorney and Dona Ana County GOP Chairman David Clements is Republicans' first candidate, and no threat to Udall.

(1/9/14) Former state Republican Party Chair Allen Weh is running.


North Carolina Tossup Incumbent Kay Hagan (D)


Hagan's approval is only middling, and incumbency barely means anything in North Carolina, a more-red-than-not state.  That said, she leads all potential opponents to varying degrees at this point.  The three strongest Republicans are Reps. Virginia Foxx and Patrick McHenry, and Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry.

(4/17/13) In PPP's new poll, Berry "leads" the Republican field with 18%.  She's 5 points behind Hagan at 46-41.  Hagan should probably be slightly worried that Berry has achieved the trifecta (favorable ratings from Dems, Independents, and Republicans), though it's a bit tenuous and may not hold.  Other potential candidates, including Foxx, State Senate President Phil Berger, State House Speaker Thom Tillis, and Rep. Renee Ellmers, trail by 9, 9, 10, and 8, respectively.  Minor declared candidates Greg Brannon and Terry Embler trail by 13 and 10.  Also, Patrick McHenry won't run.

(5/15/13) According to this piece by David Hawkings at Roll Call, Ellmers is expected to run.  Also, Embler is out.

(5/22/13) Attorney and former Ambassador to Denmark James Cain is also thinking about challenging Hagan.  Also, Tillis is expected to declare at some point.

(5/22/13) The GOP primary is in a fairly meaningless tie between Berry and Foxx, with Ellmers and Berger not far behind.  No candidate gets more than 15%.  In the general, Hagan ties Berry and leads all others.  Berry has maintained wide popularity, with (albeit small) net positives from every ideological position and partisan affiliation, and leads by 20 points among Independents.  Interestingly, Hagan does slightly worse in head-to-head matchups despite a small improvement in her approval rating to +6.

(5/28/13) Tillis supporters have formed their own super PAC, Grow NC Strong.

(5/29/13) Republicans just lost their best candidate now that Berry won't run.

(5/31/13) Tillis is in.  The polling shows him to be a little under middle of the pack as far as challengers go.

(6/17/13) Alex Roarty for National Journal writes up the race.

(6/18/13) PPP has a new poll out today.  With Berry out of the way, Hagan is back to leading the entire field, though with a fairly low percentage of the vote hovering around 45%, while the low name recognition of the GOP field (Foxx is the only one who hits 50%) indicates some room to grow.  Oddly, Berger and Brannon do best, holding Hagan to 44% and trailing her by 4.  Foxx is consolidating some support among the primay, with 23% to 11% for Berger and 9% each for Tillis and Ellmers.

(6/28/13) Ellmers says she'll decide in two weeks.

(7/11/13) Hagan brought in an excellent haul of $2 million.

(7/15/13) Roll Call says Ellmers is not expected to run.

(7/17/13) PPP's monthly poll now has Hagan up by double digits against all opponents.  This can partially be explained by name recognition, though Hagan gets close to a majority (an extremely consistent 49% of the vote in each despite having only 43% job approval).  This race will stay Tossup for now, as they've had a poll like this before, after which the race reverted back to the standard single digit Hagan lead.  So the first possibility is that this is another outlier.  The other possibility is, as they suggest, that the unpopularity of the state government they found yesterday is having an effect on the Senate race.  If this persists over the next couple of monthly polls I may change the rating.  The other important finding is that Tillis does better in a smaller primary field.

(7/30/13) Ellmers out.  Berger says he'll have his decision out by tomorrow.

(8/13/13) The most recent PPP poll sort of splits the difference between last month's poll and the usual result.  Hagan leads by 7-11 points and gets 46-48% of the vote.  Tossup/Adv. Hagan.  Tillis and Berger continue to be extremely unpopular.

(8/20/13) Foxx out.

(9/9/13) Berger's made the unusual move of taking out a statewide ad touting his support for voter ID and attacking Obama and Hagan.  If you look up a couple entries you'll notice he missed the deadline he said he'd announce by by more than a month, but these actions suggest he is at least seriously considering a run.

(9/10/13) Another good poll for Hagan from PPP.  She leads all by double digitds and gets 50% or above against all but nurse Heather Grant and and former Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Lynn Wheeler.  I'm not ready to call this Leans D yet, as all the Republicans have poor name recognition, and Hagan's approval rating isn't really something for her to cheer about.  That said, the race has shifted to Hagan's benefit in the last few months, and I'm becoming increasingly less confident Republicans will win this one.  They also might want to try running someone outside the legislature.

(9/12/13) Rev. Mark Harris is expected to jump in.  He's not really a top recruit either.

(9/22/13) Berger says he'll announce his decision Monday.  Meanwhile, Tillis is getting help from Senator Burr.

(9/23/13) Berger out.

(9/27/13) Berger ally State Sen. Pete Brunstetter won't run either, but Berger could still throw his influence behind Brannon or Harris.

(10/1/13) Odd and surprising poll results out of High Point University.  Their poll finds that only 19% of respondents say Hagan deserves to be reelected, while 56% say it's time to give a new person a chance.  I'll admit I'm really not sure what to make of this.  The rest of the results - Obama, McCrory net approval negative, Hagan around zero - are much more in line with the usual, and, I suspect, much more accurate (or, I should say, if the reelect numbers are indeed correct - as far as I can tell no one else has tested this question so I have nothing to compare these results to - all results from other polls indicate the approval numbers tell us much more about the state of the race than the reelect numbers).

(10/18/13) Rand Paul is backing Brannon.  It's obviously a huge help to his campaign.

(10/19/13) Hagan had another very strong fundraising quarter, taking in $1.8 million.

(10/29/13) Americans for Prosperity is putting up $1.7 million in ads against Hagan.

(11/11/13) Another Republican: radio broadcaster Bill Flynn.  Tillis is still the frontrunner.

(11/12/13) Some excellent results for Republicans in PPP's new poll.  Hagan's net job approval is -5, while Obama's is -10.  Hagan's average lead over the four Republicans - Tillis, Brannon, Harris, and nurse Heather Grant - has dropped from 13.25 to 1.5, and for the first time this race, she actually trails one opponent (Brannon).  The Obamacare rollout seems to be a huge contributing factor to this - more North Carolinians view it as 'very unsuccessful' than every other option combined.  We'll have to see if this holds up over the next couple of months, but for now, this is a pure Tossup.

(11/13/13) Ann Coulter is endorsing Brannon.

(12/10/13) PPP's newest poll has basically the same results as the last one.  The Republicans do a little bit better, Hagan and Obama's net approvals are a little bit worse, and the Obamacare rollout does slightly less disastrously.  The Republican primary is now wide open, with Tillis taking 13% to 12% for Harris, 11% for Grant and Brannon, and 8% for Flynn.

(1/14/14) Still more continuity in PPP's polling.  Hagan's approval is a little down, and at -10 net approaching a bit of a danger zone.  She now trails all the Republicans, though still only by 1 and 2 points.  Tillis now has a bigger lead in the Republican primary, though he only has 19%.

(1/14/14) Meanwhile, former Republican Mayor of Shelby Ted Alexander is running.

(1/25/14) Tillis raised $700,000 last quarter.  I consider it decent but not great; I wouldn't call it 'mediocre', but particularly with the amount of money Hagan has been bringing in, he needs to do better.

(1/27/14) Meanwhile, Rasmussen has Tillis up 7 - 47% to 40%.

(1/28/14) Of course, it's always good to remember this when dealing with Rasmussen.

(1/31/14) Flynn out.  Meanwhile, Brannon raised $250,000 last quarter.

(2/4/14) Good and bad news for Brannon, and bad news for Hagan: Brannon was endorsed by FreedomWorks, but at the same time it came out he's being sued for allegedly misleading investors.  Meanwhile, two bad polls for Hagan came out.  Both Civitas and High Point University have her approval in the thirties and significantly net negative - 38 ad -7, and 32 and -12, respectively - and 56% percent of respondents in the Civitas poll want someone new.

(2/20/14) A jury ruled against Brannon.  He is appealing.

(2/24/14) High Point has Hagan's approval 11 points underwater.

(3/3/14) Elon University has Hagan's approval 15 points underwater.

(3/9/14) Mike Lee is endorsing Brannon.

(3/11/14) PPP's new poll is out.  Not much has changed in the general - Hagan does marginally better than in the last few polls - while the Republican primary has gotten closer, with Brannon now tying Tillis.


Oklahoma Safe R Incumbent Jim Inhofe (R)


Inhofe has never been as popular as his colleague Tom Coburn, but Oklahoma isn't really fertile territory for the Democratic Party in the age of Obama.  That said, a popular, moderate Democrat like former Gov. Brad Henry or former Rep. Dan Boren might make things interesting.

(8/6/13) Inhofe should announce his final plans soon.  Most indications are he'll run for reelection.  Meanwhile, he has an opponent - businessman Matt Silverstein, who may be running to Inhofe's right.

(8/8/13) Not really surprising, but Inhofe's running.

Oklahoma (special) Safe R Incumbent Tom Coburn (R) (Resigning)


Coburn announced he'd resign early at the end of 2014, and so there should be a special election this year to choose his replacement.  Potential Republican candidates include state AG Scott Pruitt, state House Speaker TW Shannon, and Reps. Tom Cole, James Lankford, and Jim Bridenstine.  You can read more about them here.  Democrats might, might be a factor only if they nominate former Rep. Dan Boren or former Gov. Brad Henry.

(1/18/14) The Hill reports that Lankford and Pruitt are considered the most likely to run, followed by Bridenstine, then Cole.  Meanwhile, former Rep. JC Watts and former Gov. Frank Keating are also considering a run.  Coburn is expected to back Lankford.

(1/19/14) Reports are Lankford's running.

(1/19/14) Cole and Pruitt out.

(1/20/14) Lankford's officially announced, but neither SCF and the Club for Growth are happy with him.  SCF even came out and recommended Bridenstine run.

(1/21/14) Shannon has formed an exploratory committee.

(1/23/14) Not too surprising, but Boren out.

(1/27/14) Keating out.

(1/28/14) Shannon inBridenstine out.

(1/30/14) With Bridenstine out, conservative outside groups may avoid this one.  Apparently they like Shannon little more than Lankford.

(1/30/14) Of course, there could still be more candidates.  Former state Senator Randy Brogdon may switch from primarying Governor Mary Fallin to this race.

(2/3/14) Harper has Lankford up 36 against Shannon, 54-18.  Lankford's name recognition is higher than Shannon's but it's not a relatively big disparity. Watts could shake up the race if he runs -  his favorability is higher than Lankford's and he leads by three over Lankford and Shannon.  Absent that, he could be an important surrogate for Shannon.

(2/17/14) Brogdon in.

(3/12/14) A Lankford internal has him up 30 against Shannon 47-17, which is actually a bit of a worse showing than in last month's Harper poll.  One big caveat: the poll didn't include Brogdon, who won almost 40% running for Governor four years ago and could have a big effect on the race.

(3/12/14) Sarah Palin is endorsing Shannon.


Oregon Likely D Incumbent Jeff Merkley (D)


Merkley's only middlingy popular, but even if Republicans get a decent candidate like former Senator Gordon Smith, they'll have better opportunities elsewhere.

(8/20/13) Republicans have a candidate in former Linn County party chair Jo Rae Perkins.  I expect they'll need someone stronger to seriously threaten Merkley, but with Smith and Rep. Greg Walden presumably both out, they don't have many options.

(9/6/13) State Rep. James Conger is considering a run.  I have doubts about his strength, but, like I said above, there aren't really any options that much better left for the Republicans.

(10/30/13) Neurosurgeon Monica Wehby has joined the Republican primary, along with 5 others, including Conger.


Rhode Island Safe D Incumbent Jack Reed (D)


Jack Reed may be the safest Senator this cycle.  He's popular, Rhode Island's blue, and any sane Republican will be aiming straight at Lincoln Chafee or David Ciciline rather than him.


South Carolina Safe R Incumbent Lindsey Graham (R)


There was talk for a long time of the Tea Party taking on Graham in a primary.  As Graham covers his right flank this seems less and less likely to be successful, and the Democratic Party won't pose a threat.

(4/22/13) As it looks increasingly likely that Elizabeth Colbert-Busch will win the 1st district special election, she might be tempted to dive for statewide office a la Bob Turner in New York (admittedly, those circumstances aren't exactly the same; Turner didn't really have a district after the New York legislature got through with it).

(5/28/13) I should have mentioned this a while ago, but Colbert Busch's larger-than-expected 9-point loss means she probably won't be running statewide this cycle.

(6/25/13) Laura Ingraham has said she'll look into moving to South Carolina and primarying Graham if no one else will.  She also threatened to do this to Jeff Flake.

(7/1/13) A serious Graham challenger will have outside help.  Whether opponent Richard Cash will get that is an open question.

(7/29/13) The Daily Beast is reporting that two more primary challengers, State Sen. Lee Bright and businesswoman Nancy Mace, may emerge soon.  I expect either of them would be significantly disadvantaged against Graham alone, but splitting the vote would make defeating him even harder.

(8/1/13) Mace in.

(8/6/13) Bright in.

(8/27/13) Not terribly surprising, but Graham won't have Rand Paul's backing.  Paul had been offering support to other incumbents facing possible primary challenges, including Mitch McConnell and Lamar Alexander.

(9/6/13) A new poll (downloadable at link) shows Graham possibly vulnerable to his challengers.  He leads Bright, the closest, by 30 points, but with only 42%.  Mace and Cash get 10% and 7%.  He does better in the runoff polling, nearly getting to a majority, with 48.% against Mace, 49.3% against Cash, and 49.4% against Bright.  These are a major departure from PPP's last poll, which had him getting in the 50's and 60's against much more formidable figures like Tim Scott, Mark Sanford, Trey Gowdy, and Mick Mulvaney, though that was before he became a major figure in the immigration and Syria fights. Graham's electoral history suggests these numbers might be reliable, as he got 67% of the vote in his last primary campaign, before the rise of the anti-establishment Tea Party wing.

(9/16/13) Stamper's past is quite checkered and he can be easily hit as a carpetbagger, having moved down just this year; something he admitted he did to run for the seat.  He also has no money or staff.  I don't think anyone ever thought he would be a serious threat, but that the Alvin Greene comparisons are already coming out is not good news for Democrats.

(9/28/13) Another poll has Graham possibly vulnerable.  Clemson University found Graham's net favorability among primary voters much lower than other prominent Republicans (+17, compared to +52 for Gov. Nikki Haley, and +63 for Sen. Tim Scott).  19 percent of respondents said they'd vote against Graham in the primary no matter what, while 31% said they'd definitely vote for Graham, and 39% said it depended on the opponent.

(10/30/13) A runoff is definitely a possibility.  Graham takes 51% in a new Harper poll, while Bright leads the other challengers with 15%.

(10/31/13) According to Winthrop University, Graham's approval among primary voters is way down, with 40% disapproving to 45% who approve.

(11/11/13) Graham gets a fourth primary opponent: this time, for LG candidate Bill Connor.

(11/21/13) Scott isn't endorsing Graham.

(12/8/13) Something I missed in the Harper poll: Graham leads Stamper by 17, and Mace leads him by 7.

(1/14/14) More on Stamper.

(2/5/14) Another Graham primaryer - pastor Det Bowers.

(2/26/14) Winthrop has Graham at 45%, though there are enough undecideds to put him over 50 easily.  More importantly, none of the primary challengers are in a great position to take advantage of the runoff.

South Carolina (special) Safe R Incumbent Tim Scott (R) (Appointed)


As an appointed Senator Scott might be considered more vulnerable to a primary challenge, but he's something of a Tea Party star and thus probably pretty safe.  The Democrats are about as much of a threat to Scott as they are to Graham.

(9/16/13) Two Democrats are thinking about running against Scott: former Obama adviser and Commerce official Rick Wade, and State Sen. Jon Scott.

(12/8/13) Wade is in; Richland County Councilmember Joyce Dickerson is running as well.


South Dakota Likely R Incumbent Tim Johnson (D) (Retiring)


This race almost seems set.  Popular former Governor Mike Rounds is already running on the Republican side.  It's now up to Johnson, who is a classic survivor in Red territory but has health problems, to decide whether he wants to face what would almost certainly be a brutal reelection fight.  If he retires, this race may well be over, though Democrats could keep it a possibility by recruiting popular former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.  If she passes as well, they might turn to Johnson's son, U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson.

(3/21/13) In light of this poll, I'm moving this into Leans R.  If Johnson retires, Democrats better hope Herseth Sandlin gets in; otherwise they'll have a West Virginia-style situation on their hands.

(3/25/13) Today's big news is that Johnson's out.  Expect Democrats to heavily recruit Sandlin.  The article at the link thinks Brendan Johnson would be a good candidate, but it's worth noting he would start an incredible 21 points behind Rounds.  Also watch out for a potential primary challenge to Rounds, especially by Rep. Kristi Noem.

(5/9/13)  Businessman and former Tom Daschle aide Rick Weiland is in, and it looks like Brendan Johnson will probably pass on the race.  Herseth Sandlin is still undecided, but there's some evidence that many of the liberal base don't really like her moderate record, though this does not seem to extend to the primary electorate as a whole.

(5/13/13) Herseth Sandlin will not run, and it's looking increasingly likely that Brendan Johnson won't either.  Definitely Likely R.

(6/4/13) If there is a primary, Rounds will have at least the implicit backing of the NRSC.

(6/11/13) Noem's decision to pass has removed Rounds' most serious possible primary opposition.  I'd say he now has pretty good odds to be the next Senator.  Others could still challenge him in the primary, but without Noem's stature they will be at a definite disadvantage.  One can infer from the Rounds v. Johnson polling and Weiland's weak electoral record (one general loss and one primary loss) that Weiland won't be much of a threat.

(6/11/13) Some are still looking for a Rounds primary opponent.

(6/17/13) State Sen. Larry Rhoden is considering running.  Rounds would presumably start as a clear frontrunner in the primary, but given South Dakota's small size and cheap media market he could come from behind.

(7/9/13) Rhoden in.

(7/10/13) More Rounds challengers: State Rep. Stace Nelson is exploring, and physician Annette Bosworth is considering.  This makes it even easier for Rounds to win - if Rhoden (or Nelson or Bosworth) is going to beat Rounds, they'll need every anti-Rounds vote they can get, so any splits are going to make it much more difficult for them to win.

(7/15/13) Bosworth in.

(8/14/13) Nelson in.

(9/10/13) A poll by Harper gives Rounds a decent start.  He leads Weiland by 14 with 52% of the vote, which is actually kind of surprisingly low.  Things might be closer if Rhoden, Bosworth, or Nelson were to somehow beat Rounds, as they lead by 6, trail by 2, and lead by 2, respectively, though I expect most of this is just a function of name recognition.

(10/18/13) In an internal poll for the Weiland campaign, PPP finds Rounds leading only by 6, with Libertarian Kurt Evans at 11%.  Rounds' net favorability is down to +2.  Aside from the general concerns about internal polls, I don't think this is something Democrats should get too excited about.  It was, after all, taken during the shutdown, which will be far from voters' minds on Election Day (I may have a piece up about this soon).  They also shouldn't get too excited about the finding that 58% of voters are concerned Rounds will be too beholden to special interests (is there such a thing as being not beholden enough?). That was asked right after getting 68% to say the government has been taken over by big money interests; they also said Rounds intended to raise double what Johnson spent in 2008, without mentioning that Johnson was in an effectively uncontested race.  In other words, the most appropriate reaction to that finding is to say, "Well, if you ask it that way, what the heck did you expect to get back?".  A simpler way to put it would be to say that the question is leading to the point of uselessness.  Also, I seriously doubt even 5% had an opinion on it before they asked.

(11/12/13) The Native American Times is reporting that former Republican Senator Larry Pressler, who lost the seat to Johnson in 1996, is exploring running as an Independent (under the banner of the state's Independent Party).  His past party affiliation suggests he would hurt Rounds more, but his recent move to the left (according to The Hill, he endorsed Obama in 2008 and 2012) would push more towards the 'hurting Weiland' side, particularly if, as I suspect, he adopts a populist campaign platform.  Of course, he could simply decide not to run (I half expect this move falls under the category of "Hey, pay attention to me. I'm still relevant!").

(11/26/13) The Democratic establishment is warming to (or becoming resigned to) Weiland's candidacy, but the DSCC isn't yet.

(1/2/14) Pressler is in.  I'm still holding to my position that he won't hurt Rounds much more than he will Weiland until I see some polling to the contrary, so I'm keeping this Likely R.

(3/2/14) Rasmussen has Rounds up 20 over Weiland, though they didn't include Pressler as one of the options.

Tennessee Safe R Incumbent Lamar Alexander (R)


See Kansas.

(8/15/13) Some groups want Alexander to retire.

(8/20/13) State Rep. Joe Carr has moved over from taking on scandal-tainted Rep. Scott DesJarlais to taking on Alexander.  I consider Alexander to be the heavy favorite at this point.

(8/26/13) A new poll has Alexander trailing a "credible conservative challenger" by 5 points, and the hypothetical challenger almost gets a majority.  Harry Enten has a good discussion of the leading aspects of the head-to-head question and other measures of Alexander's vulnerability here.  I'll pick up where he left off on some of the problematic aspects of the poll.  Much is made of the finding that only 27% of primary voters view Alexander as a conservative, while 655 view his as a moderate or liberal.  But that question came after four leading questions on issues like Obamacare, illegal immigration, and the Internet Sales Tax, and thus can't be trusted to be accurate.  The other problem is with the question itself; more specifically, the use of the phrase "credible conservative challenger" (for problems with this phrase see the Enten piece).  Simply put, it allows voters to imagine their ideal candidate and throw their support behind that imaginary person.  The trouble, of course, is that you can't run a fiction, and when you put up an actual person, they do significantly worse - see herehereherehere, and here (on the last two, open the 'Hypothetical Polling' box).

(8/28/13) This Alexander internal poll corroborates what I said above.  Alexander gets above 60% of the vote against actual and potential primary challengers (Carr, 2012 candidate Brenda Lenard, activist Kevin Kookogey, and Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett) and leads by 42, 53, 54, and 39, respectively.

(9/3/13) Kookogey is saying he'll run.

(9/4/13) Kookogey will not run.

(9/8/13) So far the Democrats have only managed to rustle up a couple of the minor candidates from last time around.  With extremely formidable former Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen not interested, Alexander shouldn't have too much trouble in the general.

(12/14/13) There is an interesting poll conducted for Democrat Terry Adams' campaign  by PPP (probably, though Adams Adams isn't on their client list, so I'm not sure; it's very possible they simply haven't updated it yet), with some topline results out.  Alexander's approval is underwater, and he leads Carr by only 6 points, 46-40.  He leads Adams by 13.  The general election results don't change my mind at all on this race.  The primary results are more interesting.  To say the least, I'm very skeptical, though with just the topline numbers all I do is point to the previous polls.

(2/15/14) MTSU has Alexander up 40, and one of his internals has him up 45.


Texas Safe R Incumbent John Cornyn (R)


Texas isn't purpling fast enough to cause any threat to Cornyn, though former Houston Mayor Bill White might be able to hold him in single digits.  Another potential Democrat is State Senator Wendy Davis.

(7/3/13) Cornyn isn't in much danger by this new poll.

(8/23/13) Cornyn won't have the endorsement of the state's top Tea Partier - fellow Senator Cruz - but it doesn't look like an opponent will have it either.

(10/9/13) There may not end up being even a semi-serious primary challenger to Cornyn.  That's not to say Cornyn isn't taking the possibility seriously - his ads are all over YouTube (and probably TV as well).  In the last couple of weeks I've seen - or, rather, skipped - dozens of them - though I think I probably watch (or listen to) more YouTube videos than the average Texan.  Meanwhile, Cornyn pulled in a nice $1.8 million this quarter.

(10/24/13) Well, Cornyn does have a primary challenger; immigration lawyer Linda Vega.  This is a rather interesting challenge that doesn't seem to fit the normal Tea Party ones seen all over the country this year.  Vega takes standard conservative positions on most issues, but doesn't mention either Cruz or Cornyn.  Meanwhile, she's on the opposite side of a lot of Tea Partiers on immigration.

(10/31/13) Cornyn has two more primary challengers - businessman Dwayne Stovall and veteran Erick Wyatt - and may soon have a fourth; controversial evangelical and historian David Barton is seriously considering a run.  Wyatt, interestingly, isn't a typical Tea Party challenger either.  He says he's aligned with the Tea Party, but that that wasn't his motivation to run.

(11/6/13) Barton out.

(11/7/13) Hm.  This new PPP poll suggests Cornyn could be in some danger of losing a primary if a serious opponent can be found.  That said, he appears relatively safe for now.  I consider Barton to have been a much stronger potential candidate than any in the field now, and he loses by 33 points.  The sentiment is still there, so it's possible one of the three could come from behind like Cruz did; however, that road for them is significantly harder than it was for Cruz, given Cornyn's money and incumbency, among other things.

(12/3/13) Well, Democrats have a candidate who at least will be able to self-fund.

(12/5/13) Of course, as Nathan Gonzales points out, Alameel needs a lot more than his personal fortune and a 'money no object' attitude.

(12/9/13) Well.  Cornyn's position just got a lot more precarious, with the sudden, unexpected, deadline-day entrance of Rep. Steve Stockman.  Cornyn's poor poll numbers mean he has to take this race seriously, though Stockman has his own difficulties.  He's a more divisive figure than Ted Cruz (comparisons between the two races are inevitable) was, at least initially; will have only four months until the primary; and starts with very little money in one of the nation's most expensive states.  It is possible He could buy himself a little more time, as Cruz did, with a runoff.  That doesn't look terribly likely, however, at this point.  The 2012 race wasn't just Cruz v. Dewhurst - it included other decent candidates, including a former football player and a self-funding former Mayor of Dallas - and the weaker candidates took over 20% of the vote, making it harder for anyone to get a majority (and probably drawing disproportionately from Dewhurst).  The other candidates in this primary are all much weaker, and are unlikely to take nearly as much of the vote, meaning Stockman would need a higher base of votes than Cruz to force a runoff.

(12/10/13) Stockman's path just got a little harder - the Club for Growth isn't getting involved in this race.  There are other conservative outside groups, and I think he'll get help from a few of them.  Still, he needs all the outside money he can get to make it to the runoff, given his own serious lack of funds.

(12/10/13) At The Races has an excellent list of '6 Texas-Sized Primary Hurdles for Steve Stockman'.  Some I've already discussed; others, like campaign and personal finance controversies, I haven't.

(12/11/13) National Review reports that Stockman is having trouble attracting state and local Tea Party / very conservative groups, as well as national ones.

(12/13/13) A poll by Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research has Stockman at 6% in a possible primary, and Cornyn at 50%.

(1/24/14) Meanwhile, Stockman hasn't been campaigning much.

(2/18/14) Gravis Marketing has Cornyn leading Stockman by 15, 43-28.  These results are, I suppose, fairly consistent with PPP's earlier numbers. Cornyn should, I suppose, be concerned about the fact that he's below the fifty percent needed for a runoff, and about Stockman's higher levels of support.  That said, what I said before about the runoff still holds, and Stockman has a lot farther to go before he can secure a spot.

(2/24/14) The UT/Texas Tribune poll has Cornyn at 60% among primary voters who have an opinion (note that: it's an important methodological point), to 16% for Stockman and 25% for the rest of the field. Meanwhile, LaRouche-ite Kesha Rogers (you can read more about her here and here) leads the Democratic primary outside the margin of error (by 8 points among likely voters, though once you count respondents without an opinion (above point), the lead drops to two points, 9-7.

(3/4/14) So Cornyn flattened Stockman.  Meanwhile, Alameel is just under a majority for the Democratic nomination, with Rogers a distant second.  He shouldn't have trouble in a runoff, but as I've said before, Democrats have little chance here even if they nominate a sane, self-funding candidate.


Virginia Likely D Incumbent Mark Warner (D)


Ordinarily, Warner, being from a swing state, might be considered vulnerable.  Unfortunately for Republicans, he's also the most popular politician in the state.  Outgoing Republican Governor Bob McDonnell is talked about as a challenger, but it's doubtful he'd risk his presumed presidential ambitions on an uphill fight.

(5/21/13) Virginia Republicans plan to use a convention to pick their nominee; because it worked so well last time.  The decision is not final.

(5/30/13) This new poll confirms Warner's safety.

(6/24/13) Virginia Republicans now at least have a candidate, though one who appears to be pretty minor: former 10th District party chairman Howie Lind.

(7/19/13) Warner has a +20 net favorability rating in this new poll, and leads all comers in the upper teens (and with 50%+).  McDonnell trails by 15, Del. Bob Marshall and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by 16, and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling by 18.

(8/22/13) Warner gets a net job approval of +36 in the new Quinnipiac poll.

(9/18/13) I seriously doubt this will actually happen, but some want Newt Gingrich to run against Warner.  I suppose at least it would be entertaining.

(9/18/13) Well, that didn't take long.  Gingrich out.

(11/16/13) Now some are saying that 2013 Republican gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli should run.  If he ran, I suppose he'd be the strongest candidate in the race, but that's almost entirely due to the weakness of the current candidates rather than his strengths.  You can head over to the Virginia entry on Gubernatorial Race Analysis 2013-2014 for more analysis on Cuccinelli's strengths and weakness; I won't rehash it all here.  Of course, there isn't much indication he'll run.  He just finished a brutal statewide campaign - and may be looking at running for Congress when Frank Wolf retires.

(11/19/13) Cuccinelli isn't shutting down the speculation.

(12/2/13) The Washington Post speculates that both 2013 AG nominee State Sen. Mark Obenshain (who is currently trailing in vote count, but could end up winning in a recount) and 2013 LG nominee EW Jackson could run (he's leaving his options open) could run.  Obviously, if Obenshain ends up winning the AG race, he won't be running.  If he loses, he'd be a decent candidate.  He did overperform Cuccinelli, though I think that has more to do with Cuccinelli's weaknesses than Obenshain's strengths, and I suspect the AG's race represents a generic R vs. generic D race more than anything.  And he has some other reasons to not run.  I've already seen speculation that, even if he loses, he'd be the Republican frontrunner in the 2017 governor's race.  That might be a harder case to make with two statewide losses, unless he does a lot better than expected.  On Jackson, all I'll say is that I suppose if Republicans are going to lose, they might as well do it with a bang, so long as there's no collateral damage (which there probably would be).

(12/7/13) A lot of news came out on this race today.  Cuccinelli is out, and former RNC chair Ed Gillespie is looking at running.  Meanwhile, there's a new poll out from the Washington Free Beacon suggesting that maybe - maybe - Warner might be vulnerable to a strong Republican (in case you didn't get the emphasis, this is something I still have significant doubts on, and would like more information to come out before making a rating change).  Warner handily beats the unknown and disliked Republicans (former Virginia First Lady Susan Allen, State Del. Barbara Comstock, conservative commentator Bill Kristol, Cuccinelli, Lind, and Gillespie) by solid double-digit margins but beats the well-known and generally well-liked Obenshain by 7, while his reelect numbers are down to reelect by 5 points.  That said, Republicans shouldn't get too excited.  Warner is much more formidable than Mark Herring, the man Obenshain probably lost the AG race to.  His job approval is very solid.  The current good Republican position nationally may be fleeting.  There's no guarantee they will get a good candidate.

(12/8/13) Jackson is keeping himself in the public eye.

(1/9/14) Gillespie is in.  As many have noted, with his political connections, he should be very well-funded, and the fact that he decided to run suggests he has some reason to believe Warner is vulnerable.  Given that and the Free Beacon poll, I'm switching this to Likely D.  That said, I'm still not sure Warner has much to worry about, for several reasons: 1) While Terry McAuliffe's victory in the governor's race last year proved Virginians are willing to vote for a semi-carpetbagger former party boss, he was elected under extreme circumstances (see Virginia Governor 2013) that aren't close to being replicated here, and even then only 48% of voters voted for the semi-carpetbagger former party boss. 2) On the money front, one huge factor working against Gillespie is that as things stand this race is still a pretty peripheral pickup opportunity.  In order to compete with Warner's millions, Gillespie will have to convince a lot of people to give a lot of money to a campaign that's a real longshot.  That's a tall order for anyone, even someone with a lot of good relationships with big donors.

(1/24/14) Christopher Newport University has Warner up 20, and Rasmussen has him up 14.

(1/27/14) Lind out, which might be helpful for Gillespie to get the nomination at a convention.

(1/28/14) Former Senator John Warner (a Republican) is endorsing Mark Warner, though it's not exactly a ringing endorsement.

(1/30/14) Former Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Robert Sarvis is running.  I suppose now we get to see how many of the 6% who supported him just hated Cuccinelli and McAuliffe.

(2/4/13) The candidate fields are set, and Gillespie has three minor challengers - Hill, former congressional staffer Tony DeTora, and businessman Chuck Moss.

(2/15/14) Harper has Gillespie only trailing Warner by 6, 44-38.  If accurate, Warner would be in a much more precarious position than previously expected, and I would move this to Leans D or Tossup.  These results deviate so much from even very recent polling, however, that I'd have to see two or three more polls like this before I switch the rating.

(3/5/14) For what it's worth, Roanoke has Warner leading Gillespie 56-29.


West Virginia Likely R Incumbent Jay Rockefeller (D) (Retiring)


Easily the best Republican pickup opportunity thus far.  By a Harper Polling poll (not yet tested, but they seem to fairly consistently lean about five points more Republican than PPP), declared Republican candidate Rep. Shelley Moore Capito leads Rep. Nick Rahall, State Supreme Court of Appeals Justice Robin Davis, and former appointed Senator Carte Goodwin by between 19 and 31 points, and all potential primary opposition by even greater.  The Club for Growth and Senate Conservatives Fund have already declared their opposition to Capito, though whether that will matter is unclear.  Other potential Republican candidates include state AG Patrick Morrisey and businessmen Bill Maloney and John Raese.  Beyond the three polled, the Democrats have a wide bench including State Senate President Jeff Kessler, State Treasurer John Perdue, and state Secretary of State Natalie Tennant.

(3/29/13) Democrats are increasingly talking up attorney Nick Preservati as the sort of pro-gun, pro-coal, moderate Democrat that can hold off Moore Capito.  I'm skeptical.  Remember that Manchin had previously served a couple of decades in political office building up popularity.

(5/9/13) Moore Capito has a primary challenger in former state Del. Pat McGeehan.  It probably won't amount to much, but keep an eye on it.  The NRSC has said it'd be willing to spend money to help Moore Captio in the primary, but if it gets to the point where she needs the help, it'd probably be counterproductive, as the last thing a lot of Tea Partiers want is for the party to boost a candidate.  On the Democratic side, a poll found Tennant the solid frontrunner in a primary, with 40% of the vote, compared to 12% for Davis and 1% for Preservati.  Oddly, the poll only tested Davis v. Capito, who has maintained her roughly 20 point lead.  Preservati's poor showing in the primary also lends credence to my skepticism expressed earlier; regardless of policy prescriptions, he simply doesn't have the pool of good will and favorability Manchin spent years building up.

(6/3/13) MetoNews columnist Hoppy Kercheval says Democrats are bleeding possibilities fast.  According to his sources, Preservati won't run.  Rahall and attorney Ralph Baxter have already taken themselves out of contention, and neither Davis nor Tennant are expected to run.  I do doubt his contention that national Democrats will put much money into this race.  Kercheval probably knows more than I do, but given the early polling I wonder if they'll just conclude it's not worth fighting for.

(7/1/13) McGeehan will have the endorsement of the National Republican Liberty Caucus.  I'm not sure they'll have much influence in West Virginia, and he has very, very far to climb.  Capito remains the prohibitive favorite in the primary.  Meanwhile, in contravention to the last point of my previous entry, Senate Democrats do have a reputation for defending each and every seat they hold, even when circumstances are pretty unfavorable (the only exception I can think of was in North Dakota in 2010 when Byron Dorgan retired and insanely, absurdly popular Republican Governor John Hoeven decided to run; a good idea given Hoeven's 54-point win).  Still, that may be tested here this cycle.

(7/17/13) Davis out.  If Tennant declines, I may follow Nate Silver and just call it Safe R.

(7/18/13) Democrats do have another possible solid candidate - retired Major General Allen Tackett.

(8/6/13) Tackett out.

(8/12/13) Reid says Democrats will have a candidate soon.

(8/13/13) Hotline is probably right in speculating that Tennant is the candidate Reid mentioned, as she would be a solid recruiting victory.  I would consider her definitely the strongest remaining potential candidate.  Hotline also notes that she outperformed both McCain and Romney in her reelection bids, though Romney just barely (this, by the way, is all from their daily Wake-Up Call e-mail, which you should really be getting if you're not). I'm somewhat more skeptical.  It's always worth remembering that victories for lower statewide offices don't necessarily mean much, something Tennant's relatively poor performance in the 2011 governor race (third place in the Democratic primary) tends to support.

(8/30/13) The West Virginia poll from the Charleston Daily Mail finds Capito leading Tennant by 5, 45% to 40%.  If Tennant does get in the race will be much more competitive, though I think Capito should still have a distinct advantage.  I should note that there are some sampling problems (geography, income, education level, etc.) that mean the results should be taken with a grain of salt.

(9/6/13) A group has formed to oppose Captio from the right, though as it's in its infancy now, it's difficult to tell whether it will cause her trouble in the future. For now, I don't consider her threatened.

(9/13/13) Tennant in.  This is back to Leans R for now.

(9/24/13) Capito does pretty well out of the gate, taking 50% to Tennant's 36% in PPP's new poll.  Obama's approval rating in the state is horrific: 28% compared 67% disapproval.  Just under a majority of Democrats disapprove of his performance.

(9/24/13) Full release is out.  Neither Capito nor Tennant look like they'll be seeing much trouble in the primary.  Meanwhile, it should be noted that Capito only leads by 3 among those who have an opinion on Tennant, so she does have room to grow as she gets more well known (on the other hand, those who don't have an opinion on Tennant are far more Republican than those who do).

(10/11/13) Capito raised $770,000 last quarter, and now has more than $3 million cash-on-hand.

(1/28/14) Capito outraised Tennant last quarter.

(2/4/14) I'm switching this back to Likely D.  Capito's well ahead of Tennant in fundraising, and Obama's approval rating here is absolutely terrible.  With the current talk of Republicans expanding the map to Virginia, New Hampshire, and Oregon, and of Democrats abandoning the House to save the Senate, I can't see them putting too much into this seat.


Wyoming Safe R Incumbent Mike Enzi (R)


May retire; doesn't matter.  Liz Cheney's often-discussed as a possible successor.

(5/20/13) "Soldier of fortune" Thomas Bleming is running.  It's worth noting he only got 6% of the vote against John Barrasso in 2012.

(7/6/13) More worrying for Enzi, reports are Cheney is seriously thinking about a primary challenge.  Alan Simpson seems to think this would be a disaster. I frankly don't see how it could be a disaster - the Wyoming Republican Party is so dominant.  Even if Dave Freudenthal runs I don't see Democrats have a great chance here.

(7/16/13) Cheney in.  Now we see if disaster actually does strike.

(7/19/13) Harper's first out with a poll on the primary - and it's not good for Cheney.  Only 6% of primary voters dislike Enzi, and his net favorability among this group is +70.  Cheney's net favorability is +30, and 40 of primary voters have no opinion.  Enzi leads 55 to 21.  PPP will have a poll out next week.

(7/19/13) The Guardian's Harry Enten does a good job summarizing Cheney's troubles.

(7/23/13) More trouble for Cheney in a new PPP poll.  Enzi leads her in the primary by 28, and has a +42 net approval from primary voters compared to her +6.  Even if Enzi decided to pull out, Cheney would trail Rep. Cynthia Lummis by 7.  She's also much weaker in the general election - while Cheney has a net favorability of -10 among general election voters, Enzi has a net approval of +30.  Enzi leads former Gov. Freudenthal by 23 and businessman Gary Trauner by 47, while Cheney trails Freudenthal by 3 and leads Trauner by 18.  Half of respondents don't consider her a Wyomingite and think she should have run in Virginia instead, and even primary voters believe so by margins of 8 and 12, respectively.

(9/9/13) Enzi now has a super-PAC backing him.

(1/6/14) Cheney out.  This race should be pretty clear from here on out.  I wouldn't be surprised if this is my last entry here until Election Day predictions.

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