Morning Digest: Pennsylvania Supreme Court sweep gives Democrats legislative redistricting control

Wikimedia Commons photo of the Pennsylvania state capitol building taken by Ad Meskens

Pennsylvania state capitol building


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PA Supreme Court: In what was by far the most important victory of the night, Democrats swept three seats on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, giving them a five to two majority; previously, Republicans had controlled the bench three to two, with two vacancies. This victory isn’t simply about ensuring a more just court, though undoubtedly the cause of fairness will benefit greatly. It will also have an enormous impact on the next round of legislative redistricting.

That’s because the Supreme Court selects the tie-breaking vote for the commission that draws up the maps for Pennsylvania’s state House and Senate. In the prior two rounds of redistricting, the Republican-dominated court chose the tiebreaker, but now Democrats will have that power come 2021 (justices are elected to 10-year terms). As a result, Democrats will have the chance to undo the Republican gerrymanders that

Continue reading “Morning Digest: Pennsylvania Supreme Court sweep gives Democrats legislative redistricting control”

Morning Digest: Pennsylvania Supreme Court sweep gives Democrats legislative redistricting control

Wikimedia Commons photo of the Pennsylvania state capitol building taken by Ad Meskens

Pennsylvania state capitol building


Leading Off:

PA Supreme Court: In what was by far the most important victory of the night, Democrats swept three seats on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, giving them a five to two majority; previously, Republicans had controlled the bench three to two, with two vacancies. This victory isn’t simply about ensuring a more just court, though undoubtedly the cause of fairness will benefit greatly. It will also have an enormous impact on the next round of legislative redistricting.

That’s because the Supreme Court selects the tie-breaking vote for the commission that draws up the maps for Pennsylvania’s state House and Senate. In the prior two rounds of redistricting, the Republican-dominated court chose the tiebreaker, but now Democrats will have that power come 2021 (justices are elected to 10-year terms). As a result, Democrats will have the chance to undo the Republican gerrymanders that

Continue reading “Morning Digest: Pennsylvania Supreme Court sweep gives Democrats legislative redistricting control”

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Colorado Democrat resigns rather than face recall

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CO Recall: In the face of a likely recall election, Democratic state Sen. Evie Hudak has opted to resign, a move that short-circuits the recall effort. A Hudak loss would have handed control of the Senate to Republicans, who are now just one seat shy of the majority following two successful recalls of other Democratic lawmakers earlier this year. Now, however, the recall won’t take place, and Democrats will be able to appoint a replacement (though that person will have to seek re-election in 2014, whereas Hudak would have served until 2016).

Hudak’s decision, while highly unusual, isn’t actually that surprising, and we discussed this very possibility when news of a new recall drive first emerged. Hudak’s seat is only light blue, and she won both of her prior races by very narrow margins, plus she was also term-limited. Given the ugly dropoff in Democratic turnout in the prior recalls, she’d have been looking at steep odds. Instead, she decided to truly take one for the team.

But while Democrats will retain their majority, the gun activists who have forced and threatened all of these recalls can claim another victim. They have reason to feel energized, and they could very well look for a different recall target; given the number of Democrats who occupy marginal seats, conservatives have plenty of other alternatives. As we’ve said repeatedly since the first two recalls, this falloff in Democratic performance in non-presidential races is a deeply disturbing phenomenon, given that it’s now gone so far as to turn lawmakers out of office without even conducting an election! Who out there is working on fixing this?

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Republicans aim to take majority with third Colorado recall

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CO Recall: Ugh. Here we go again. Buoyed by their victories over two Democratic state senators in recall elections last month, Colorado Republicans are pushing ahead with a third such effort. Their latest target is state Sen. Evie Hudak, who represents the 19th District in suburban Denver, though a previous attempt to recall Hudak failed earlier this year for a lack of signatures. Hudak’s district is up during presidential years, which means it sees much greater turnout than seats elected in midterm years, like those that once belonged to former state Sens. John Morse and Angela Giron. Consequently, organizers require about 19,000 signatures to move forward—far more than they needed for the earlier recalls.

But conservatives have energy on their side, and what’s more, Democrats now run the Senate with a bare 18-17 margin. A single victory will hand control over to the GOP, and that should help money flow. Indeed, Hudak’s seat is much less blue than the Giron and Morse districts. According to Daily Kos Elections’ calculations, Barack Obama only carried the 19th by a 52-45 margin, compared to the 58 to 59 percent he earned in the other two seats. That puts Hudak in the fourth-reddest district held by a Democrat in Colorado, making it a legitimate target for Republicans.

What’s more, Hudak’s own victories have both been very narrow. In her first campaign in 2008, she won by just a 51-49 spread; last year, things got even tighter, with a mere 584-vote victory that a represented a margin of less than 0.8 percent. She’s also stumbled publicly this year on the hot-button issue of guns, telling a rape victim who testified before a Senate committee that “statistics are not on your side even if you had a gun.” Correct or not, Hudak received a lot of grief for her remarks and later apologized.

Hudak is term-limited, and she could conceivably resign, which would annul the recall and allow Democrats to appoint a replacement. But her seat doesn’t go before voters until 2016, so Republicans could very well try to recall her successor. As we said after the earlier recalls, the bottom line here for Democrats is that they’ve evolved into a party capable of awesome voter turnout when there’s a presidential election, but one that sucks in off years. If Republicans can force a recall here, this will be a very difficult hold for Team Blue, but this is a problem that goes much deeper than just this race or this state. It’s the biggest electoral issue that Democrats have to address going forward, and the time to do so was yesterday.

With control of the Colorado Senate in the balance, Republicans start pushing another recall

Official portrait of Colorado state Sen. Evie Hudak (D)

State Sen. Evie Hudak (D)

Ugh. Here we go again. Buoyed by their victories over two Democratic state senators in recall elections last month, Colorado Republicans are pushing ahead with a third such effort. Their latest target is state Sen. Evie Hudak, who represents the 19th District in suburban Denver, though a previous attempt to recall Hudak failed in May of this year for a lack of signatures. Hudak’s district is up during presidential years, which means it sees much greater turnout than seats elected in midterm years, like those that once belonged to former state Sens. John Morse and Angela Giron. Consequently, organizers require about 19,000 signatures to move forward—far more than they needed for the earlier recalls.

But conservatives have energy on their side, and what’s more, Democrats now run the Senate with a bare 18-17 margin. A single victory will hand control over to the GOP, and that should help money flow. Indeed, Hudak’s seat is much less blue than the Giron and Morse districts. According to Daily Kos Elections’ calculations, Barack Obama only carried the 19th by a 52-45 margin, compared to the 58 to 59 percent he earned in the other two seats. That puts Hudak in the fourth-reddest district held by a Democrat in Colorado, making it a legitimate target for Republicans.

What’s more, Hudak’s own victories have both been very narrow. In her first campaign in 2008, she won by just a 51-49 spread; last year, things got even tighter, with a mere 584-vote victory that a represented a margin of less than 0.8 percent. She’s also stumbled publicly this year on the hot-button issue of guns—the very topic that drove the previous recalls—telling a rape victim who testified before a Senate committee that “statistics are not on your side even if you had a gun.” Correct or not, Hudak received a lot of grief for her remarks and later apologized.

Hudak is term-limited, and she could conceivably resign, which would annul the recall and allow Democrats to appoint a replacement. But her seat doesn’t go before voters until 2016, so Republicans could very well try to recall her successor. As we said after the earlier recalls, the bottom line here for Democrats is that they’ve evolved into a party capable of awesome voter turnout when there’s a presidential election, but one that sucks in off years. If Republicans can force a recall here, this will be a very difficult hold for Team Blue, but this is a problem that goes much deeper than just this race or this state. Off-year falloff is the biggest electoral issue that Democrats have to address going forward, and the time to do so was yesterday.

11:42 AM PT (Darth Jeff): With control of the Colorado Senate hinging on the potential Hudak recall, it’s tempting for Democrats to use the recall to go after some vulnerable Senate Republicans. Unfortunately, the targets are slim. Apart from the two GOP victors in last month’s recalls, no Republicans sit in any districts won by Obama. The Republican with the most marginal district is Scott Renfroe, whose Weld County district went for Romney 50-48. Next up is Randy Baumgardner, a candidate for US Senate and the incumbent in a Western Slope district that went red 50-47.

The short list gets even less favorable after that. David Balmer’s suburban Denver district went for Romney 51-47, and Larry Crowder’s large rural district is 52-46 Romney. All four of these districts are redder than any state House or Senate seat held by Team Blue and we would face the same challenges of off-year turnout as we faced last month and would have to deal with again in the event of a Hudak recall.

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Tennant reportedly set to enter Senate race on Tuesday

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WV-Sen: Local analyst Hoppy Kerchaval reported on Friday that Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, who has been considering a Senate bid ever since Sen. Jay Rockefeller announce his retirement, will indeed run next year. Shortly afterward, the Washington Post confirmed Kerchaval’s tweet with a report of their own saying that Tennant will announce Tuesday, though like Kerchaval, they’re relying on unnamed sources.

Pretty much ever other notable Democrat in West Virginia has declined to run, so Tennant would constitute a pretty good get, all things considered. However, she brings some negatives with her. For one, she is one of the more liberal politicians in the state, though in fairness, she won re-election last year with 62 percent of the vote. For another, she did not fare well the last time she sought a promotion, finishing third in the special gubernatorial primary in 2011 with just 17 percent. However, Tennant could probably attract national money to her cause, seeing as EMILY’s List endorsed her when she ran for governor.

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Thompson vows to press on, but pressure mounts to concede

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NYC Mayor: Whether you went to bed early or late on Tuesday night, you went to sleep not knowing whether Public Advocate Bill de Blasio had officially cleared the crucial 40 percent mark in the Democratic primary, which would allow him to avoid a runoff with the second-place finisher, 2009 nominee Bill Thompson. And as of Wednesday evening… we still don’t know what’s going to happen. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, de Blasio sits at 40.33 percent, but of course, there are more votes left to count.

The Board of Elections says it will re-canvass voting machine tallies starting on Friday, but they won’t begin opening paper ballots (which would include absentee and provisional ballots) until Monday. Given how soon a runoff would be held—Oct. 1—this lethargy would be remarkable if it were anyone other than the notoriously incompetent New York City BoE.

De Blasio declared victory, but Thompson is promising to continue his campaign, even though powerful Democratic interests are pushing him to concede. In any event, Thompson thinks the final vote won’t be resolved until the end of next week, so for now, we wait.

Looking back at the election, the New York Times has put together an exceptional interactive map of Tuesday night’s results in New York City, which allows you to filter returns by race, income, or home ownership. As you’d expect, Comptroller John Liu did well in heavily Asian areas, while City Council Speaker Christine Quinn performed best on Manhattan’s wealthy (and white) East Side. And ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner’s top precincts were… pretty much non-existent.

But the real story unfolds when you click the link to highlight “black areas,” which shows that de Blasio dominated Thompson in the most heavily African-American precincts. Indeed, in areas that are at least 50 percent black by population, de Blasio won 47-34, about the same as his citywide margin. If Thompson was counting on racial affinity to power his campaign, he evidently miscalculated, but he should have known better, because this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a more liberal white candidate perform better with black voters than a more centrist black candidate. (A good example would be Ron Sparks’s win over Artur Davis in the AL-Gov Democratic primary in 2010.)

The Times‘s Michael Barbaro also has a very good post-mortem on the campaign strategy that led to de Blasio’s surge. Interestingly, de Blasio did not send a single mailer but rather devoted all his resources to television, where he outspent his rivals by $200,000, despite every candidate abiding by a spending cap. Given the massive success the ad featuring his son Dante enjoyed—and, you know, the election results—it certainly seems like this was the right move.

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Democrats lose two Colorado recalls; de Blasio nears primary win

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CO Recall: In a devastating result for Democrats, two legislators who supported new gun safety laws, state Senate President John Morse and state Sen. Angela Giron, both lost in recall elections spurred by the NRA and gun activists on Tuesday night, Morse by less than 2 percent, Giron by 12. Morse will be replaced by Republican Bernie Herpin; Giron’s seat, meanwhile, will be taken over by another Republican, George Rivera. Both Herpin and Rivera have to go before voters next year, and both seats gave Barack Obama about 58 to 59 percent of the vote in 2012, so they won’t be easy holds for the GOP. But last night’s results show just how badly Democratic turnout dropped in these unusually timed, off-off-year elections.

For now, Democrats’ 20-15 edge in the Senate has been whittled down to a precarious 18-17—and the NRA and their allies will crow about what this means for proponents of gun regulations. Conservatives have talked about ushering in a “wave of fear” among Democratic lawmakers nationwide, but more immediately, they might attempt another recall to try to take control of the chamber, since Republicans clearly benefit when holding elections in non-presidential years. This falloff in enthusiasm in years not divisible by four is probably the biggest electoral challenge Democrats face nationwide right now, and these recalls, if any good is to come of them, should spur the party to seriously address this major problem.

NYC Mayor, Comptroller: As we put the Digest to bed late on Tuesday night, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio had just edged past the 40 percent mark he needed in order to avoid a runoff in the Democratic primary for mayor, with former city Comptroller Bill Thompson in second place at 26. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the one-time frontrunner, was a distant third with 15, while ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner fell all the way to fifth, with less than 5 percent, behind Comptroller John Liu, who took just 7.

De Blasio, who successfully portrayed himself as the most progressive option in the race, was just a micron over 40 with a handful of precincts still left to report, so the outcome may have changed by the time you read this. In addition, paper ballots (such as absentees and provisional ballots) still need to be counted, and the Board of Elections was reportedly preparing for a recount. If a second round is necessary, de Blasio and Thompson will face off on Oct. 1. Whoever the nominee is will go up against former MTA chief Joe Lhota, the winner of the Republican primary, in November.

Meanwhile, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s comeback bid fell short (though less abysmally than Weiner’s). He lost the Democratic primary for comptroller to Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer by a 52-48 margin. Republicans haven’t held the comptroller’s office since 1945, and Stringer will be the heavy favorite in the fall.

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: De Blasio flirts with outright win in New York mayoral primary

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NYC Mayor: We have three final polls of today’s Democratic primary for New York City mayor, and the chief question they all pose is, will Public Advocate Bill de Blasio hit 40 percent and avoid a runoff with either former Comptroller Bill Thompson or City Council Speaker Christine Quinn? Here are all the numbers, in the order in which they were released (with trendlines in parentheses):

Marist (9/3-6): de Blasio 36, Thompson 20, Quinn 20 (8/12-14: de Blasio 20, Quinn 20, Thompson 18)

PPP (9/7-8): de Blasio 39, Thompson 19, Quinn 13

Quinnipiac (9/6-8): de Blasio 39, Thompson 25, Quinn 18 (8/28-9/1: de Blasio 43, Thompson 20, Quinn 18)

Quinnipiac is the first pollster to actually show de Blasio cresting after his August surge, though Marist (whose prior poll was a few weeks older) still has him moving upward. If de Blasio still has forward momentum, he may well surpass the magic 40 mark; if not, he might fall just short.

And if there is a runoff, it looks like it’ll be de Blasio vs. Thompson. PPP’s last-minute entry, their first of the race, aligns with Quinnipiac in seeing Quinn fall to third, and Marist’s trendline is no good for her, either. It’s not terribly surprising: According to PPP, Quinn has a remarkably terrible 34-48 favorability rating—and remember, we’re talking about Democratic primary voters here. De Blasio (62-18) and Thompson (57-18), meanwhile, are both quite popular.

But this is a good example of favorables only telling you so much. De Blasio’s support evidently runs deeper and more fervently, since PPP has him crushing Thompson 53-33 in a hypothetical second round. Marist shows a tighter runoff, but de Blasio still has a solid lead, 50-38. (Quinnipiac didn’t ask about runoffs this time, but their prior poll gave de Blasio a 56-36 edge, similar to PPP’s.)

This may all be moot, though, if de Blasio can cap his extraordinary month-long run with a final burst of energy at the finish. We’ll have our answers on tonight, so be sure to come back to Daily Kos Elections for our liveblog.

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: E.W. Jackson stiff-arms the Virginia GOP

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VA-LG: We always knew that a guy like E.W. Jackson could never be silenced. But the incendiary minister (and GOP lieutenant governor nominee) isn’t just determined to preach his own message at all costs. According to a new report in the Washington Post, he’s insisted on keeping his campaign totally independent from the state Republican Party, spurning all offers of assistance as though they were radioactive plague bacteria:

Jackson has refused the party’s nuts-and-bolts logistical help, choosing not to tap into resources that include the GOP’s trove of voter data and more than 40 field offices around the state, according to four Republican operatives. […]

Jackson has taken a pass on all of that, according to the four strategists. When Jackson volunteers call voters or canvass neighborhoods, the strategists said, they work off the campaign’s own compilation of names, numbers and addresses instead of the party’s expansive database of likely Republicans, independents and Democrats.

It’s a virtually unheard-of forfeiture of resources for a statewide candidate. Jackson’s team does not coordinate with the party, which has its own army of volunteers knocking and dialing on behalf of the entire ticket, which can lead to duplication of effort, the strategists said. Instead of using phone banks set up in the party’s “victory offices” around the state, Jackson callers ring voters from home phones.

One of these anonymous operatives thinks that Jackson is “laying the groundwork actively to blame somebody else—the establishment—for losing.” That wouldn’t surprise me in the least, but then again, outsider candidates always blame “the establishment,” rather than their inability to connect with voters, for their failure.

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: E.W. Jackson stiff-arms the Virginia GOP

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Leading Off:

VA-LG: We always knew that a guy like E.W. Jackson could never be silenced. But the incendiary minister (and GOP lieutenant governor nominee) isn’t just determined to preach his own message at all costs. According to a new report in the Washington Post, he’s insisted on keeping his campaign totally independent from the state Republican Party, spurning all offers of assistance as though they were radioactive plague bacteria:

Jackson has refused the party’s nuts-and-bolts logistical help, choosing not to tap into resources that include the GOP’s trove of voter data and more than 40 field offices around the state, according to four Republican operatives. […]

Jackson has taken a pass on all of that, according to the four strategists. When Jackson volunteers call voters or canvass neighborhoods, the strategists said, they work off the campaign’s own compilation of names, numbers and addresses instead of the party’s expansive database of likely Republicans, independents and Democrats.

It’s a virtually unheard-of forfeiture of resources for a statewide candidate. Jackson’s team does not coordinate with the party, which has its own army of volunteers knocking and dialing on behalf of the entire ticket, which can lead to duplication of effort, the strategists said. Instead of using phone banks set up in the party’s “victory offices” around the state, Jackson callers ring voters from home phones.

One of these anonymous operatives thinks that Jackson is “laying the groundwork actively to blame somebody else—the establishment—for losing.” That wouldn’t surprise me in the least, but then again, outsider candidates always blame “the establishment,” rather than their inability to connect with voters, for their failure.

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Quinnipiac suggests de Blasio might avoid runoff in mayor’s race

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NYC Mayor: Well, here we are: Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is out of runoff territory, according to Quinnipiac’s newest survey—the first public poll of any kind to show any candidate clearing the magic 40 percent mark in next week’s Democratic primary for mayor. De Blasio now sits at 43 percent, up from 36 a week ago, while former Comptroller Bill Thompson remains at 20 and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn slips to 18 from 21, moving her into third place.

While de Blasio would avoid a runoff with results like these, even if one took place, Quinnipiac shows him with outsize margins against both of his potential foes. De Blasio leads Quinn 66-25 (up from 59-30) and Thompson 56-36 (up from 52-36). If you want proof that de Blasio would almost certainly prefer to face the former rather than the latter if a second round of voting were required, take note of this: Thompson also crushes Quinn in a one-on-one scenario, 59-33.

De Blasio is also out with what is probably his final TV ad, a stridently progressive spot in which he addresses a diner full of people saying, “If you live on Park Avenue, you got everything you need. Nannies and housekeepers….” then chastising Mike Bloomberg for “tak[ing] care of Wall Street, not middle class people, working class people, poor people.” The second half features a narrator describing de Blasio’s priorities, such as taxing “the wealthy to fund pre-K and after-school.” It appears that Quinn and Thompson have not released any new ads in over a week.

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Potential challenger emerges for renegade New York Democrat

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NY-St. Sen: This is potentially very big news. New York City Councilman Oliver Koppell, who also once briefly served as state attorney general, says he isn’t ruling out a primary challenge to state Sen. Jeff Klein, the renegade Democrat who leads the breakaway faction that handed control of the Senate to the GOP this year, even though Democrats won a majority of seats in the chamber last November. Klein would be hard to beat, but Koppell has the profile (and liberal bona fides) to pull it off, especially if labor were to get behind him.

Koppell is term-limited, so next year, he’ll be out of office and perhaps looking for something to do. He’s also reportedly met with the state-level DSCC about a potential bid, and he openly has negative things to say about Klein’s betrayal. However, Koppell is 72 years old and cautions that “at the moment I have no plans” to run. But if he does make a go of it, this could be one of the most exciting legislative primaries for progressives in the nation.

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Michaud catapults into first in Maine governor’s race

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ME-Gov: Confirming recent Democratic internal polls, PPP’s new survey of Maine finds Rep. Mike Michaud shooting into the lead in next year’s gubernatorial race. In a three-way matchup, Michaud holds a 39-35 edge over GOP Gov. Paul LePage, with independent Eliot Cutler at 18. Cutler’s fade has coincided with Michaud’s surge: In January, PPP saw the race at 34 LePage, 30 Michaud, and 26 Cutler.

In the interim, Michaud has started to consolidate Democratic support, upping his share among members of his own party from 47 percent to 63 percent. Michaud wasn’t a candidate the last time PPP went into the field, so his increased visibility has likely played a big role here. And while both Michaud and Cutler have seen their favorability ratings drop about a dozen points, but the former remains broadly popular at 53-30 while the latter is now underwater at 32-35.

There’s also no doubt that Cutler is taking votes almost entirely from Michaud: In a direct head-to-head with LePage, Michaud beats him soundly, 54-39 (though that’s actually down some from Michaud’s earlier 57-36 advantage). Cutler’s presence on the ballot is the only reason LePage has any shot at victory, but if Cutler can only reach the teens, as Tom Jensen suggests, that’s not likely enough to save LePage’s bacon. And obviously, it also means Cutler can’t win. If he has any sense, he’ll recognize that “at best” he’d be a spoiler and drop out instead.

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: New York mayor’s race turns negative on the airwaves

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NYC Mayor: Former Comptroller Bill Thompson has launched the first negative ad of the Democratic mayoral primary, with a spot attacking Public Advocate Bill de Blasio for telling “lies” about Thompson’s position on stop-and-frisk. In a recent ad, De Blasio claimed he was the “only” candidate who would “end a stop-and-frisk era that targets minorities,” something Thompson has angrily disputed.

But Thompson isn’t arguing from a position of strength. In May, he told the New York Times that there’d been “overreaction to stop and frisk,” and the paper reported that he was “pledging to keep stop-and-frisk operations as a crime-fighting tool.” De Blasio isn’t exactly promising to eliminate stop-and-frisk altogether, either, but he supports two bills just passed by the city council that would increase police oversight. Thompson opposes the legislation, which de Blasio has used as the basis for his claim that his own views on stop-and-frisk stand apart.

Meanwhile, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s latest ad touts her endorsements from New York’s three biggest papers: the Times, the Post, and the Daily News. Mostly it focuses on the NYT, since winning over the troglodytes at Rupert Murdoch’s rag doesn’t exactly count as a major victory in a Democratic primary. But don’t forget that in his two re-election campaigns, the Grey Lady endorsed Mike Bloomberg, the man Quinn is eager to emulate.

The primary is on Sept. 10—just two weeks away—with a runoff between the top two vote-getters on Oct. 1 if no candidate clears 40 percent.

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Why you should be very skeptical of Mitch McConnell’s new poll

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KY-Sen: Sen. Mitch McConnell has released the toplines of a new internal poll from Voter/Consumer Research showing him with a 68-21 lead over his GOP primary challenger, businessman Matt Bevin. Of course, the release doesn’t include name recognition numbers, but Bevin’s are surely quite low and will undoubtedly grow. So the question is, how confident is McConnell that his supporters will stick with him as Bevin becomes better known?

And that’s assuming this survey is accurate in the first place, something I wouldn’t recommend doing. VCR conducted a survey for Republican Linda Lingle in October of last year, showing her trailing Democrat Mazie Hirono in the Hawaii Senate race by just 4 percent. Hirono went on to win by 25 points. Earlier that year, they found Hirono beating Ed Case in the primary by only 1. Hirono crushed there, too, by 16.

It’s not just tricky-to-poll Hawaii where VCR has misfired egregiously. As Reid Wilson reminds us, they’ve also been wildly off the mark in… Kentucky. Just ahead of the GOP Senate primary in 2010, VCR claimed the race between Rand Paul and Trey Grayson stood at a 40-40 tie, in a poll they did for Grayson. The following day, McConnell endorsed Grayson.

Two weeks later, Paul demolished Grayson by 23 points. So if anyone knows how wrong VCR can be in the Bluegrass State, it’s definitely Mitch.

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Mike Grimm fundraiser pleads guilty to visa fraud

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NY-11: Ofer Biton, an Israeli citizen who had helped raise money for GOP Rep. Mike Grimm, pleaded guilty on Friday to charges that he provided false information on a visa application. Biton had tried to secure a permanent visa by investing $500,000 in a U.S. business but admitted to lying about the source of those funds.

Separately, Biton has also been accused of squeezing congregants of a prominent Israeli rabbi based in New York for donations for Grimm, allegedly including improper cash contributions and money from non-citizens—a matter which is also under federal investigation. (Grimm has continually denied any wrongdoing, of course.)

It’s not clear whether Biton’s plea deal means he’s cooperating with the Grimm fundraising inquiry, though Biton was released from house arrest, likely won’t receive jail time, and was not charged with extortion or money laundering, as prosecutors had previously suggested he might be. So it’s possible this relatively lenient treatment might mean Biton’s working with the authorities, though the Daily News reports that he’s still likely to face deportation proceedings.

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: De Blasio rockets into first in new Quinnipiac poll

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NYC Mayor: Look out! Quinnpiac’s new poll of the NYC mayoral Democratic primary shows Public Advocate Bill de Blasio surging into the lead for the first time, taking 30 percent among likely voters, with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn at 24, former Comptroller Bill Thompson at 22, and ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner descending to also-ran status at just 10. Two weeks ago, Quinn had a 27-21 lead over de Blasio, with Thompson close behind at 21 and Weiner already faded to 16.

Since then, though, de Blasio’s gone up with a compelling first spot about stop-and-frisk featuring his 15-year-old son. De Blasio’s also received a lot of glowing press coverage lately (including a profile on the front page of the New York Times) highlighting his progressive credentials. But whether it’s the TV ads or the positive media treatment (or both), de Blasio’s gotten real a bounce; Quinn, on the other hand, did not see the same thing after going on the air, despite spending similar sums. (Her first ad was pretty generic and boring.)

And based on his recent performance, Quinnipiac has started including de Blasio in their hypothetical runoff scenarios, where he also wrecks shop. He leads Quinn 54-38 and Thompson 50-41 (and, comically, Weiner as well, by a 72-22 spread). While it might be tempting to chalk up de Blasio’s bigger margin over Quinn versus Thompson to the first pair’s wide ideological gulf, Thompson also beats Quinn, 51-41, which suggests to me that we may be looking at more of a likeability gap. Quinnipiac unfortunately doesn’t ask for candidates’ favorables, so it’s hard to say for sure, but Quinn even manages to do worse in a runoff with Weiner (winning by “only” 60-31), so it just seems that she’s not very well-liked in general.

Of course, there’s still a month to the primary, and as this poll shows, things can change fast. Thompson, for instance, might earn his own bump once he finally goes on the air, and even Weiner could scrape together a few more votes when he starts advertising, too. But for the moment at least, Bill de Blasio gets to feel very good.

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Weiner’s downward trend continues

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NYC Mayor, Comptroller: Ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner’s fade continues, with Siena confirming his slide into fourth place in their latest poll for the New York Times. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn leads the way in the Democratic primary with 25 percent, followed by former Comptroller Bill Thompson at 16, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio at 14, and Weiner at 10. Last month, Quinn had a 27-18 advantage over Weiner, with de Blasio and Thompson tied at 11, and at the time, Siena offered a rare bit of good polling news for Quinn, since everyone else showed Weiner surging. Ah, how times have changed.

There are also some numbers on the Democratic primary for comptroller, where ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer is beating Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer 44-35. If you’re wondering about the high numbers of undecideds in both contests, note that Siena is still, for some reason, testing only registered voters rather than likely voters, even though the election is little over a month away.

P.S. The New York Times has a good interactive chart comparing the results of every mayoral poll taken this year, from all pollsters. You can also narrow down the numbers by sex or race.

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: PPP’s newest poll says Democrats could have a shot in Georgia

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GA-Sen: PPP is out with the first poll of the Georgia Senate contest since nonprofit executive Michelle Nunn announced her entry last month, and the numbers offer Democrats reason to be cautiously optimistic about their pickup chances in this blue-trending state. Nunn sports a 20-19 favorability rating out the gate, which is not bad, given the notoriously low favorables PPP typically finds for little-known candidates. Perhaps more importantly, her famous father, ex-Sen. Sam Nunn, is still well-known and well-liked, with a 56-12 favorability score—and he actually does better with Republicans than Democrats. If the younger Nunn can trade a bit on the elder’s crossover appeal, that could provide a real boost for her campaign.

But the race still has quite a ways to develop, as you can see from the high numbers of undecideds in every matchup between Nunn and the various members of the GOP field. Head below the fold to see how share fares against each, with the Republicans’ favorables in parentheses: