Congressional diary: Clinton-Obama isn't the only race today

It's Election Day... and Clinton-Obama are not the only races on the ballot today. In fact, there is a whole series of competitive congressional primaries that we will be following more or less closely, starting with statewide races in both North Carolina and Indiana.

In North Carolina, the most high-profile election opposes Beverly Perdue and Richard Moore for the Democratic Party's gubernatorial nomination. Perdue, the Lieutenant Governor, started with a significant lead that Richard Moore was never able to overtake despite running increasingly negative ads. The winner of the primary will be favored in the general though the fall campaign would become very competitive if the GOP nominates Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory.

Also in North Carolina, Democrats will decide who -- Kay Hagan or Jim Neal -- will face Elizabeth Dole in the fall. Neither candidate is first-tier or well-known, as the DCCC suffered from a rare series of recruitment failures here. On paper, Hagan should be the strongest in the general though polls taken so far put the two Democrats roughly at the same level against Dole; Neal is also reputed to be much more progressive than Hagan, though his career as an investment banker undermine those credentials.

Finally, the last competitive statewide race is Indiana's gubernatorial race, where two Democrats are facing off to face vulnerable Governor Mitch Daniels in the general: architect Jim Schellinger and former Rep. Jill Long Thompson. The former was favored by the establishment and raised much more money, but Thompson appears to have transformed higher name recognition into a lead in the polls. There is no sign that either would be particularly stronger in the general.

In non-May 6th congressional news, all eyes are of course on the special election in MS-01 -- just in a week! The DCCC has dumped $100,000 again, bringing its total to $1,4 million! This is an awfully high tab for a race that the Democrat was so close to winning in the first round on April 22nd. Those 400 votes are forcing the Democratic party to spend more than a million dollars to live up to the first round's potential. It's also forcing them to defend themselves against attempts to nationalize the election by linking Childers to Barack Obama.

Last week, Childers actually denied having been endorsed by Obama (a strange claim to make considering the contrary evidence). That was enough for Republican candidate Greg Davis to produce another ad (watch it here), hitting Childers for lying about not receiving Obama's endorsement. What's so strange about this ad (like the previous ones) is that it takes Obama to be so toxic that it doesn't even bother making any attacks on the Illinois Senator; there is even a montage of Obama's website and talk of Childers there, as if we were talking about the website of Fidel Castro or even -- gasp -- of Ted Kennedy. I remain unconvinced that Obama is defined enough to be this much of a drag even in this staunchly conservative a district. He might be unpopular but that does not necessarily lead to toxicity.

Finally, the University of New Hampshire released a wave of polls yesterday:

  • In the Senate race, Jeanne Shaheen is -- as always -- running ahead of Sununu, 52% to 40%. That's a 5% tightening since the last UNH poll but that doesn't obscure the fact that it's bad news for an incumbent to be under 50% -- let alone to trail by double-digits.
  • In NH-01, however, Democratic Rep. Shea Porter is in trouble. She won her race in one of the most unexpected upsets in 2006, and the incumbent she beat, Jeb Bradley, is back for a rematch... and leads her 45% to 39%. She even struggles against another Republican, John Stephen 43% to 35%.
  • However, Democrats are in better shape in NH-02, which they also picked-up in 2006. Rep. Hordes is leading both his challengers by close to 30%.
NH-01 is one of the 11 Democratic seats I have listed as a toss-up in my latest ratings. This first poll of the race confirms that assessment; Democrats are going to need to recapture their 2006 momentum (NH was probably the state that colored itself blue the most dramatically) to keep this seat.

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  • Thanks for giving some attention to the down-ballot races. We've also got a few interesting congressional primaries in Indiana - Carson v. Myers especially - to keep an eye on.

    I know everything's tied up with Democratic nomination race, but when are you going to update the House rankings again?

    By Blogger Joe, At 06 May, 2008 13:56  

  • Indeed, indeed... I haven't done Senate rankings either since January. I apologize for being so slow at those! Look for a full update to both House and Senate rankings some time between the 15th and 25th of May.

    By Blogger Taniel, At 06 May, 2008 14:04  

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