Down-the-ballot: As we wait for the specials, movement in Nevada

Four days from the special election in LA-06 and as the heat is rising in the MS-01 runoff, the congressional committees are continuing to closely monitor developments. The DCCC reported small expenditures over the week-end, including some for field organizing. Turnout is even more important in special elections than in regular contests, and Democrats have had a clear edge in that metric for months now. The nationalization of the MS-01 race could increase Republican energy, but it could also motivate the districts' Democrats; which of these looks to be more true on May 13th will serve as an early clue as to whether Republicans can energize their base with the threat of an Obama presidency.

For now, we can only be amazed at the size of the DCCC's expenses in these upcoming contests. In a pair of very heavily Republican Southern seats, the DCCC has spent more than $1,1 million. This is quite a significant amount, only possible because of the committee's financial dominance, which allows them to take risks they might otherwise not have taken. The DCCC would have been extremely unlikely to devote this level of attention and resources in previous cycle when resources were scarce. Not to mention that the DCCC forced the NRCC to respond despite the fact that the GOP barely has enough money to defend seats that on paper should be even more endangered than LA-06 and MS-01.

Meanwhile, there is movement in NV-03, which is one of the most vulnerable non-open seats this year. Rep. Porter barely survived his 2006 re-election race against a political newcomer and his district has gotten much more Democratic since then, with January's contested caucuses leading to many new Dem registrants (Politico profiles this battleground district here). Boosted by their new-found edge in the district, Democrats believe they had recruited a strong candidate, local prosecutor Robert Daskas. But the highly-touted Daskas withdrew today, citing familial reasons... and leaving Democrats without a candidate.

But the DCCC might already have a candidate to replace Daskas with: Senate Minority Leader and 2006 gubernatorial nominee Dina Titus. As far as I remember from the 2006 campaign, Titus is a progressive Democrat; but her campaign did not live up to its potential then, as she failed to capitalize on scandals involving eventual winner Gibbons. But there is no question that Titus jumping in the race would keep a bright spotlight on the race and keep Porter very much endangered. An added reason Democrats want to defeat Porter this fall is that the representative looks to be one of the most threatening potential challengers to Harry Reid in 2010.

Finally, some news from Indiana's race for governor. The fact that all pollsters are now working in Indiana to survey the presidential primary means that a number of polls of the gubernatorial contest are also being released. The Democratic primary is also being held on May 6th, and underfunded Jill Long Thompson appears to have an edge against architect Jim Schellinger, despite the latter's heavy establishment supporter. In the general election, three surveys show very tight results:

  • Research 2000 finds incumbent Republican Mitch Daniels to be tied with Thompson at 45% and edging out Schellinger 45% to 44%.
  • The Mark Downs Center for Indiana Politics shows Daniels up 1% against both Democrats.
  • The Indianapolis Star has Thompson edging out Daniels 44% to 43%, but the incumbent prevails over Schellinger 45% to 41%.
There are very few competitive gubernatorial races this year so Indiana's is sure to be watched very closely. Among other reasons to follow this race: With Indiana's state House and Senate split between Democrats and Republicans, the governor's mansion could be essential in determining who benefits most in the next round of redistricting.

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