Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.
● PA-18 (special): On Tuesday night, Democrat Conor Lamb pulled off a stunning victory in the special election for Pennsylvania’s dark red 18th Congressional District, narrowly edging out Republican Rick Saccone by a 49.8 to 49.6 margin when we put the Digest to bed. While absentee ballots in two of the district’s four counties, as well as a small number of overseas and provisional ballots, had yet to be tallied, the gap was all but impossible for Saccone to make up, and Lamb declared victory in the wee hours Wednesday morning, though Saccone did not concede.
Lamb’s path toward his improbable win began when longtime GOP Rep. Tim Murphy’s career imploded in a stunning sex scandal last fall. In a classic tale of Republican hypocrisy, the married Murphy had carried on an affair with a woman named Shannon Edwards whom, it emerged, he’d encouraged to have an abortion when she experienced a pregnancy scare—despite his lengthy history of voting to restrict reproductive rights. At the same time, Murphy was also accused of treating his staff with extreme abuse for years. He soon resigned, triggering a special election for the remainder of his term.
Under any normal set of circumstances, Republicans shouldn’t have had to spare a single thought about holding on to Murphy’s seat, a conservative district in southwestern Pennsylvania that, thanks to a careful GOP gerrymander, had voted for Donald Trump by an imposing 58-39 margin. But as Digest readers well know, ever since Trump’s election, Democrats have run very competitive races on red turf like this, and have even flipped some seats very much like this one.
Republicans, meanwhile, have developed a nasty habit of nominating lousy candidates in special elections, though they might have outdone themselves here. Local leaders tapped Saccone, a state representative, even though he’d been running a desultory (and hopeless) campaign for U.S. Senate all last year and had proven himself to be an abysmal fundraiser. Democrats, meanwhile, picked Lamb, a former federal prosecutor and Marine veteran with deep ties to the area. (His uncle, Michael Lamb, is the city controller for Pittsburgh, which the 18th District is nestled around.)
GOP operatives began to fret about the race as long ago as December, and Lamb, a prolific fundraiser and energetic campaigner, would go on to validate their worst fears. In January, polling began to show a tightening contest, and outside Republican groups ultimately dumped in over $10 million to try to prop up their hapless candidate. They even sent in Trump himself—twice!—to campaign for Saccone, who liked to claim that he “was Trump before Trump was Trump.” None of it worked.
While Saccone could conceivably seek a recount, it would be extremely unlikely to change the outcome, since most of the district uses electronic touchscreen voting machines, meaning there’s little to review beyond checking that tallies were downloaded correctly. Saccone also faces a major time pressure: The deadline to file for the regularly scheduled November general elections is on March 20, and Saccone reportedly still plans to run in the new 14th District (created by court-ordered redistricting), which he previously said he’d do if he won.
But Saccone would have to gather 1,000 valid signatures in just a week, something that won’t be very easy to do with a dejected base of supporters—and especially if his attention is divided contesting the outcome of the special election. Lamb, meanwhile, will almost certainly seek the new 17th District. Though it’s home to GOP Rep. Keith Rothfus, it voted for Trump by just a 49-47 margin, making it a much more enticing target than the dark red 14th. Indeed, it’s not inconceivable that Rothfus, whose old district went 59-38 for Trump, might want to bail for the 14th himself.
Whatever happens, Tuesday marks an enormous victory for Democrats: Not only did Lamb overcome an enormous natural advantage for the GOP, the number of seats Democrats now need to pick up in order to take back the House has shrunk from 24 to 23. And the win may pay yet a further dividend, as anxious Republicans taking stock of these results may decide to tack on a few more to their already record-setting number of retirements this cycle.
● FL-Sen: Republican Gov. Rick Scott is widely seen as a likely challenger to Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, and he said on Sunday that he’ll “think about [his] future in the next few weeks.” Scott has signaled for some time now that he was likely to wait to announce a decision until after the 2018 legislative session concluded, which it recently did. The filing period lasts from April 30 until May 4, so we’ll know soon enough what Scott plans to do.
● NJ-Sen: Quinnipiac has ventured into the Garden State to give us a rare poll of New Jersey’s 2018 Senate race, and they have relatively good news for embattled Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez. He leads wealthy businessman Bob Hugin, a Republican, by a 49-32 margin, but that’s unsurprising given how 83 percent of respondents had no opinion of the relatively unknown Hugin. What makes this poll decent news for Menendez is that he has a 46 percent approval rating and 39 percent disapproval rating, which is a huge turnaround from their survey from last October, where only 31 percent approved of Menendez and 49 percent disapproved.
New Jersey is still a strongly blue state at the federal level, and Hugin’s only realistic path to victory likely involves self-funding his millions to drive up Menendez’s negatives over the latter’s corruption issues, which ended in a mistrial. If Menendez’s approval rating remains above water, it’s hard to see voters deciding to toss him in favor of a Republican in such a blue state in a midterm with an unpopular Republican in the White House.
● FL-Gov: Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is out with another ad on stopping gun violence, continuing his $1.3 million ad buy on the subject. This latest spot features shots of Levine speaking to the camera interspersed with protests for gun-safety reform. Levine advocates for universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons to help make schools safer for children.
● GA-Gov: Candidate filing closed last week in Georgia for the state’s May 22 primary, and the state has a list of candidates available here. Note that there will be a July 24 runoff in contests where no one takes a majority of the vote. Also note that Georgia also requires a runoff for general election contests where no one takes a majority of the vote in November. The runoff for state level-contests is set for Dec. 4, while the runoff for federal races is Jan. 8. (Georgia does not make things simple, do they?)
The GOP won the governor’s office in 2002 for the first time since Reconstruction, and it has stayed red ever since. But Gov. Nathan Deal is termed-out, and Democrats are planning to make a major play here. Former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams and former state Rep. Stacey Evans (both resigned from the legislature to focus on their campaigns) are competing in the primary, and because no other Democrats filed to run, the nomination will be decided in May.
Either Abrams or Evans would be the first woman to serve as governor of Georgia, while Abrams would be the state’s first black governor, as well as the first black woman to serve as governor of any state. Abrams has the endorsement of a number of progressive organizations, including Daily Kos and EMILY’s List; she also has the backing of all three of the Atlanta area’s Democratic congressmen, including Civil Rights legend John Lewis. Evans has the support of Roy Barnes, who is the state’s most recent Democratic governor. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and her predecessor, Kasim Reed, have also made it clear that they favor Evans, though neither has officially endorsed her yet.
A February poll from Mason-Dixon gave Abrams a 29-17 lead, but found that most primary voters still didn’t have an opinion about either candidate. Abrams could have an edge if race plays a role in the primary. In recent years, black voters have made up a larger proportion of the Democratic primary electorate: In the 2016 presidential primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, 51 percent of voters were black and 38 percent white, according to exit polls.
The contest has also divided state and national Democrats over tactics. Abrams and her allies argue that the key to victory for Georgia Democrats is registering and turning out African American and Hispanic voters, while Evans has pitched herself as a candidate who can win voters, especially in the suburbs, who have supported Republicans in the past.
Things are more crowded on the GOP side. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle is the favorite of the establishment and he’s led in every poll, though he’s still far from the majority he’d need to win outright. It’s far from clear who will emerge as Cagle’s main opponent, though. Secretary of State Brian Kemp is the only other statewide elected official in the race, and he’s wasted no time running ads arguing he’ll be the candidate who will “secure the border and end sanctuary cities” (how Kemp will secure Georgia’s nonexistent international borders is left as an exercise to the viewer).
Former state Sen. Hunter Hill, who represented Atlanta’s ultra-wealthy Buckhead neighborhood until he resigned to focus on his bid, is focusing on his military background and framing himself as an alternative to “career politicians.” Clay Tippins, a retired Navy SEAL and tech businessman, has adopted a similar strategy. State Sen. Michael Williams, who represents part of the conservative Atlanta suburbs, has self-funded most of his campaign. Williams is doing his best to embrace the far-right, and in October, he appeared with heavily armed-members of an anti-government group in a “March Against Sharia.” The recent Mason-Dixon poll gave Cagle the lead with 27 percent of the vote, while Kemp, Tippins, and Hill were in a tight race for second with about 12 percent each, and Williams trailed with just 5.
However, recent events may impact both the GOP primary and the general. After Atlanta-based Delta Airlines cut ties with the NRA after the Parkland school shooting, Cagle tweeted that he would block a proposed tax break for Delta “unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with the NRA.” Until then, there wasn’t much talk in the GOP-led legislature about retaliating against Delta, but the proposed tax break was stripped from the tax bill. While GOP Gov. Nathan Deal said he was opposed to the move, he ended up signing it anyway. All of this may allow Cagle to appear as a hero to the GOP base rather than as a creature of the dreaded establishment. However, Democrats hope that the GOP’s war against the state’s largest private employer will hurt Team Red in the general.
Finally, Libertarian Ted Metz and independent Larry Odom also filed for the general election. Neither stands much of a chance of winning, but they could get enough support in November to throw this race to a December runoff.
● IL-Gov: Businessman Chris Kennedy is out with another ad that emphasizes the legacy of his father, the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and how the younger Kennedy is fighting to promote those same ideals. The spot features footage of RFK campaigning for president in 1968, while
former President Jed Bartlett actor Martin Sheen narrates the commercial. Sheen says, “Chris Kennedy’s father fought for civil rights, equality, and fairness,” before the ad transitions to show the younger Kennedy on the campaign trail in 2018. In a similar pitch as Kennedy’s previous ad, Sheen argues Chris Kennedy will uphold his father’s legacy and be an “anti-establishment progressive” governor. What’s next?
● MI-Gov: Kyle Melinn of MIRS News has graciously shared some new polling of Michigan’s August Democratic primary for governor with us conducted for MIRS by Target-Insyght. They give former state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer a 34-20 lead over wealthy businessman Shri Thanedar, while former Detroit Health Commissioner Abdul El-Sayed takes just 6. The numbers are similar to a recent EPIC-MRA survey for Thanedar that found him trailing Whitmer 34-24, while El-Sayed was at 8. A November Target-Insyght poll for MIRS had Whitmer leading El-Sayed 45-13, while Thanedar only had 2 percent of the vote.
Thanedar has been spending heavily on ads for months, and this poll indicates it’s very much helping him get his name out. Thanedar posts a 47-17 favorable rating, with only 35 percent saying they have no opinion of him. Whitmer has a 46-4 favorable score, while El-Sayed has a 24-18 favorable rating. Whitmer had $1.87 million in the bank at the end of 2017 to El-Sayed’s $838,000, so she may have a much easier time getting her name out.
● MN-Gov: In another sign that he’s likely running for his old job again, former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty has quietly begun fundraising for a potential comeback bid. Pawlenty has 14 days to formally create a campaign committee after he raises more than $750, so he’ll have to make more public moves in short order. Pawlenty previously quit his high-paying Wall Street lobbying gig, so at this point it would be surprising if he doesn’t jump into the race.
Meanwhile on the Democratic side, Rep. Rick Nolan has endorsed fellow Rep. Tim Walz for Team Blue’s nomination. Walz is increasingly looking like the front-runner against state Auditor Rebecca Otto and state Rep. Erin Murphy.
● PA-Gov: State Sen. Scott Wagner’s latest Republican primary ad attacks businessman Paul Mango for being a “phony.” The narrator claims “no real Republicans support Mango,” because he was allegedly the “leading advocate” for Obamacare. He then hammers Mango for supposedly outsourcing jobs to Mexico and India, and claims Mango’s company got a no-bid $2 million contract from Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration.
● SC-Gov: With three months to go before the June 12 GOP primary, the American Future Fund is beginning a $250,000 TV buy for former state cabinet member Catherine Templeton. Their spot promotes Templeton as a “businesswoman and a reformer,” and as a shot of Gov. Henry McMaster flashes by, the narrator proclaims he’s “not a good ol’ boy.” The rest of the ad plays her up as a “buzz saw” who took on labor and Obama and “cracked down on illegal immigration.”
Templeton appears to be McMaster’s main primary foe, and she’s matched his fundraising all cycle. However, businessman John Warren recently jumped in, and like Templeton, he’s branding himself as a conservative outsider. Warren says he’s “committed to making the necessary financial commitment” to get his name out, and while he didn’t say how much that would be, GOP insiders tell the Charleston Post and Courier that he has “more than enough resources at their disposal to put himself on level footing with McMaster and Templeton in the money race.”
Warren also recently took a shot at Templeton for backing Democrat Vincent Sheheen in the 2010 contest against Republican Nikki Haley, her future boss. Templeton says she was friends with Sheheen and didn’t know Haley back then, but expect to hear a lot more about this. Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant is also in, but he’s had a tough time raising money. If no one takes a majority in the primary, there will be a runoff two weeks later on June 26.
● CA-39: Mt. San Antonio College trustee Jay Chen has taken one for Team Blue and dropped out of the race for the swingy Orange County-based 39th District to reduce the risk of several Democratic candidates splitting the vote badly enough to let two Republicans advance to the top-two general election. Chen was the 2012 Democratic nominee against GOP Rep. Ed Royce and lost that race by 58-42, but he had raised a respectable $794,000 that year for what was always going to be a tough race against a popular incumbent in this ancestrally GOP seat. When Royce announced his retirement in early January, Chen decided to mount another attempt, but with six notable Democrats in the race compared to just four prominent Republicans, Democrats were rightly worried about getting locked out thanks to top-two.
While Chen’s decision to put the good of the party first is laudable, it’s just another sign of how screwed up the top-two system is because it punishes parties for having too many relatively viable candidates instead of letting that party’s primary voters sort things out to produce a nominee. Nevertheless, there are still five notable Democrats in the running: Navy veteran and lottery winner Gil Cisneros, wealthy businessman Andy Thorburn, pediatrician Mai Khanh Tran, former Commerce Department official Sam Jammal, and education consultant Phil Janowicz. However, Cisneros has picked up the lion’s share of endorsements from the state’s Democratic congressional delegation, and he earned another one on Monday when neighboring 46th District Rep. Lou Correa unveiled his support.
● CA-48: Last week, former Orange County GOP Chair Scott Baugh launched a surprise bid against his former friend Rep. Dana Rohrabacher just as candidate filing was about to close. Normally, Democrats wouldn’t mind it if a vulnerable incumbent went through a bruising primary before the general election, but the June top-two primary complicates things.
Baugh is well-funded, and more than a few Democrats are worried that he and Rohrabacher will take the two general election spots and cost Team Blue a chance at a coastal Orange County seat that went from 55-43 Romney to 48-46 Clinton. And the Democratic group Fight Back CA is out with an early March poll from Change Research arguing that Team Blue very much needs to be careful to avoid a lockout:
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-inc): 35
Architect Laura Oatman (D): 10
Real estate company owner Harley Rouda (D): 10
Former Orange County GOP Chair Scott Baugh (R): 7
Biologist Hans Keirstead (D): 7
Tech executive Rachel Payne (D): 4
Nestlé executive Michael Kotick (D): 3
Business Operations Manager Brandon Reiser (Libertarian): 4
Businessman Stelian Onufrei (R): 3
A number of other candidates from both parties took 3 percent or less.
If Fight Back CA was hoping to convince some of these Democrats to drop out before the Friday deadline and give Team Blue a better shot to advance, not many took heed. The only Democrat who planned to run but decided not to late in the race was Boyd Roberts, who took just 1 percent in this poll and had little money or support. According to the Los Angeles Times, a grand total of six Republicans, eight Democrats, and two others will be on the ballot.
No matter what happens, this will be a considerably tougher race for Rohrabacher than he’s used to. Democrats began eyeing this seat after it swung hard against Trump, and Rohrabacher has earned negative press for being a transparent shill for Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin. Baugh kicked off his bid by arguing that the congressman “has lost focus on what’s important and does not seem to understand that the middle-class families in our district care more about their jobs, the economy and taxes than about Vladimir Putin, Julian Assange and marijuana.”
However, Baugh may also be motivated by personal animosity. Baugh, who served in the state Assembly until 2000, began raising money for a congressional bid back in early 2016. Rohrabacher said at the time that Baugh wasn’t campaigning against him, and was instead “just laying the foundation for a race for Congress when I am no longer a member… but I don’t know when that’s going to be.” Baugh himself initially seemed to confirm this, but things got tense after he later said he wasn’t “going to engage in speculation” when they asked if he might run against Rohrabacher if he doesn’t retire.”
Rohrabacher was pissed, and he publicly claimed that his longtime pal had “represented to me and many of my supporters/donors that he would never run against me and was only raising money for when I retire. Baugh now seems to be evolving out of that commitment,” and told him to return the donations. Baugh stopped raising money but held onto his war chest, and at the end of December, the congressman had a modest $713,000 to $545,000 cash-on-hand lead. One other Republican candidate with some money is Onufrei, who threw down about $250,000 of his own money before the end of the year and has said he’ll spend a total of $500,000.
As this poll indicates, things are even more chaotic on the Democratic side. National Democrats showed an early interest in Keirstead, a prominent stem cell scientist who received a donation from DCCC chair Ben Ray Lujan last year, though the national committee hasn’t taken sides publicly. Keirstead did recently pick up a useful endorsement from the state party, and he had a credible $490,000 in the bank at the end of 2017. But it’s very surprising that this poll shows Oatman, who only had $72,000 in the bank, going so well, though she may have a tough time holding onto any lead with so little money.
Rouda entered the race early, and thanks to some serious self-funding, he had a large $834,000 war chest. Payne had just $81,000 on-hand, but she’s since picked up an endorsement from EMILY’s List. Siddiqui is a self-described Reagan Democrat who lives outside this seat, and while he barely registered in the poll, the wealthy candidate had a large $540,000 war chest. Finally, Kotick had just $163,000 on-hand, and he doesn’t seem to have much outside support. With so many Democrats fighting over the blue slice of the pie in the June top-two primary, there’s just no telling what will happen.
● GA-06: GOP Rep. Karen Handel won the most expensive House race in American history last year by a 52-48 margin against Jon Ossoff. This suburban Atlanta seat went from 61-37 Romney to 48-47 Trump, and Democrats will want to put it into play again. No third-party candidates filed to run here before the deadline.
Former local TV news anchor Bobby Kaple, who anchored the morning and noon shows on Atlanta’s local CBS affiliate from 2015 until September, entered the race months before Ossoff announced he wouldn’t seek a rematch. Businessman Kevin Abel also jumped in the Democratic primary months ago. Both candidates have been doing some self-funding, and Kaple had a $232,000 to $154,000 cash-on-hand edge at the end of December.
Prominent gun-safety activist Lucy McBath entered the race last week in a surprise after she had originally planned to run against a GOP state representative. McBath got involved in gun safety efforts in 2012, the year her 17-year-old son was murdered by a gunman, and she was invited to the Obama White House and spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. McBath raised $100,000 during her brief legislative campaign, so she seems to have some good connections. McBath is the only major black candidate and woman running in the primary, which could help her stand out in the primary.
● GA-07: This suburban Atlanta seat moved from 60-38 Romney to 51-45 Trump, not as dramatic as the shift in the neighboring 6th District, but it might be enough to give Democrats an opening against GOP Rep. Rob Woodall. It remains to be seen how seriously national Democrats will target this seat.
Six Democrats have filed to run here. Test-prep company founder David Kim, who has done some self-funding, ended December with $222,000 on-hand, but his fundraising has slowed quite a bit after his opening fundraising quarter in June. Businessman Ethan Pham, who has also contributed some of his money to his race, had $166,000 in the bank, while Georgia State University Professor Carolyn Bourdeaux had $138,000 on-hand. Three other Democrats are in, but none of them had many resources at the end of 2017. No third-party candidates have filed here.
● IL-03: Well what do you know: It turns out the mysterious super PAC called United for Progress, which has spent at least $740,000 to help conservative Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski in his primary against progressive challenger Marie Newman, received much of its funding from the aggressively centrist group No Labels and billionaire mega-donor Jerry Reinsdorf, who is chairman of both the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Bulls. No Labels promotes the same sort of naive #bothsides mentality that plagues the world of cable news punditry, and even went so far as to moronically label Donald Trump a “problem solver” during his presidential campaign.
While support from No Labels itself should be a mark of shame for any Democrat running in a safely blue district like this one, the mailer they’ve been funding is even more disgraceful. It takes the guise of an ominous fake-but-official-looking letter from “Illinois Restaurant Enforcement” that claims the restaurant Newman once owned was guilty of health code violations, then proceeds to outright lie about the economic impact of the single-payer healthcare plan Newman supports. Ugly stuff—the kind you might expect to see a Republican’s supporters throw at a Democrat.
● NY-11: The June GOP primary for this Staten Island-based seat pits Rep. Dan Donovan against former Rep. Mike Grimm, who resigned in 2015 on tax evasion charges and served seven months in jail. Grimm, who among other things once threatened a reporter on camera, has built up a cult of personality by arguing that the government that so many Staten Islanders distrusted was out to get him, and he won re-election in 2014 while under indictment. However, it’s not clear how much support he has in his comeback bid against the low-key Donovan, and both sides are out with internal polls that paint very different pictures of the contest.
Grimm’s survey, which comes from a group called Big Dog Strategies (and of course Mike Grimm would hire a firm with that name) finds him leading Donovan 35-34. They give Donovan a 66-24 favorable rating with primary voters, while Grimm has a nearly identical 66-27 score. However, a Barry Zeplowitz & Associates poll for Donovan gives the incumbent a mighty 60-21 lead. They give Donovan a 63-13 favorable rating, but they have Grimm far underwater at 30-46.
There’s just no way to reconcile both of these two very dramatically different views on the race. The polls were even taken at about the same time: The Grimm survey was done March 4-5, while the Staten Island Advance’s Clifford Michel tells us the Donovan poll was in the field March 2-5. However, if Donovan is in a close race, he will at least have the resources to get his message out. Donovan outraised Grimm $379,000 to $176,000 during Grimm’s opening quarter, and the incumbent had a $719,000 to $171,000 cash-on-hand lead at the end of December.
This seat backed Obama 52-47 after Hurricane Sandy hit the area hard, but Trump won it 54-44 four years later. However, national Democrats are excited about Army veteran Max Rose, who earned a Purple Heart and Bronze Star in Afghanistan, and the DCCC added him to their Red to Blue list in January. Rose has been a strong fundraiser and he ended December with $493,000 in the bank.
● NY-19: The June Democratic primary to take on GOP Rep. John Faso is a very crowded and expensive affair, and it’s surprising anyone else is jumping in this late. But U.S. Agency for International Development official Erin Collier announced this week with an interview in PEOPLE Magazine, which is a pretty unusual venue for a House candidate, especially one running for the first time. Collier, who says she’ll stay at her post during her campaign, is the only woman who has jumped into the primary, which could give her an edge.
● PA-04: State Rep. Madeleine Dean has picked up an endorsement from Rep. Matt Cartwright in the May Democratic primary for this new 59-39 Clinton seat in Montgomery County.
● PA-09: On Monday, Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage announced he was seeking the GOP nomination for this new coal country seat. Schuylkill makes up about 20 percent of this district, so it’s not a bad place to launch a campaign from. Former state Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser had been running for Congress before court-ordered redistricting redrew the map, and he had a formidable $471,000 war chest at the end of December. So far, Meuser and Halcovage largely have the May primary to themselves in this 65-31 Trump seat, though there’s still time for that to change.
● PA-10: Nonprofit consultant Christina Hartman announced a few weeks ago that she would seek the Democratic nomination to challenge GOP Rep. Scott Perry in the new 10th District, a Harrisburg-based seat that backed Trump 52-43. Public Health scientist Eric Ding also announced at the end of February that he was in, and while we didn’t write about him back then, Ding says he raised $50,000 during his first week in the race.
● San Francisco, CA Mayor: We have our first poll in a while of the June special election for the final year-and-a-half of the late Ed Lee’s term as mayor. The city firefighters union, which supports Board of Supervisors President and former Acting Mayor London Breed, is out with a poll from FM3 that gives her a 29-26 lead over Supervisor Jane Kim; former state Sen. Mark Leno is at 19, while former Supervisor Angela Alioto takes 8.
This election will be done under an instant-runoff voting system, where voters are allowed to rank their choices. If no one takes a majority of first-place votes, then second and third choices are redistributed from the candidates with the fewest votes to those still remaining. The poll tries to simulate this system in order to project who will win in the end by taking voters’ second and third choices into account, and they conclude with Breed beating Kim 56-44.
All the major candidates in this nonpartisan race identify as Democrats, and would be considered quite liberal almost anywhere else. However, Breed is identified with the city’s moderate faction, while Leno and Kim are progressives; Alioto, somewhat confusingly, calls herself a “moderate liberal.”
● IL-AG: Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan shocked the political world last year when she decided not to seek a fifth term, and a crowded primary to succeed her quickly developed. We’ve seen two polls ahead of the March 20 Democratic contest, and while they agree that former Gov. Pat Quinn and state Sen. Kwame Raoul are far ahead of their rivals, they don’t agree on who is ahead.
Late last month, Southern Illinois University found Raoul leading Quinn 22-18, with Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering a distant third with just 5 percent. However, a We Ask America poll for Capitol Fax released this week shows Quinn leading Raoul 23-15, while Rotering was again a distant third with 6 percent.
Quinn, who lost to GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner 50-46 in 2014 after six tough years in office, has made his share of enemies in public life, and Raoul is out with a new spot hitting him over one early conflict. The commercial features a clip of Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, who died in 1987, declaring that he “would never appoint Pat Quinn to do anything. Pat Quinn is a totally and completely undisciplined individual,” and regretting he hired him and kept him for too long.
Washington hired Quinn as city revenue director and fired him in 1986 after seen months (the background of their conflict is a bit more complicated than the ad makes it seem), and this is footage has been used against Quinn many, many times over the years. Back in 2010, then-state Comptroller Dan Hynes deployed it against the governor in the primary, a contest Quinn won 50.5-49.5. Quinn said at the time that Hynes’ commercial was aired in poor taste and declared that the mayor told him the last time they talked, “Quinn, you’re my friend today, you’re my friend tomorrow, someday we’ll have a drink together.” That didn’t stop Rauner from using that very same clip against Quinn in an ad four years later. However, once difference between then and now is that like Washington, Raoul is black, while Quinn and his past foes are white.
Another group is also going up against Quinn in the final days of the race. Capitol Fax reports that Fight Back for a Better Tomorrow, which is primarily funded by Operating Engineers Union Local 150, has deployed $675,000 for a commercial. The spot argues that as governor, Quinn used money from an anti-violence program that resulted in a criminal probe. The commercial also uses a portion of that clip of Washington denouncing Quinn. Whoever emerges from all this will likely be the favorite in November in this very blue state.
● Polling: In an extremely exciting development for data lovers everywhere, Kos Media, the parent company of Daily Kos, announced a new venture on Tuesday called Civiqs, an online polling firm providing daily tracking data to the public on a variety of issues. Civiqs is separate from Daily Kos and has its own team, led by data scientist Drew Linzer, who is well-known for his election forecasting models. In an introductory post, Linzer explains exactly how Civiqs scientifically samples its opt-in panel of a million respondents and models its data to achieve representative—and accurate—results.
But the really cool thing you’ll want to check out (and bookmark) is the Civiqs dashboard. There you’ll find trendlines for topics such as Paul Ryan’s favorability rating, the generic congressional ballot, or gun control—an issue where attitudes have shifted dramatically over the last month. For each question, you can then drill down to see what individual sub-groups think. For instance, white, non-college graduates now say they support stricter gun control laws by a 48-44 margin; just before the Parkland shooting, they opposed the idea 52-39.
It’s incredible stuff, with results in many cases going back several years, and you can currently view data on over two dozen questions. Also awesome: the “Share This Chart” button that allows you to embed interactive Civiqs trendlines anywhere, even custom versions. And if you want to get a sense for how the entire operation works, you can join the panel yourself. Give it a look—you’ll dig it for sure.