Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Arkansas, Hawaii election day thread

Conventional wisdom says Senator Arlen Specter needs relatively high turnout today to prevail against his Democratic challenger Joe Sestak, who has gained a lot of support in the last month and has a narrow lead in the polling average. It's been rainy today in the Philadelphia area, which isn't good for turnout, but many people may vote after work if it clears up a little. I learned from Michael McAuliff that there's a large ethnic Slovak population in the Pittsburgh area, which could give an edge to Sestak if turnout is high. I hope Sestak will win, but I don't feel confident about that at all.

Swing State Project previews the other Pennsylvania races here. The special election to fill Jack Murtha's seat in PA-12 will attract the most attention. it's the only House district in the country that voted for John Kerry in 2004 and John McCain in 2008. Jeffmd posted pretty district maps and analysis here.

In Kentucky's Senate race, it looks like the Republican primary will end with a humiliating defeat for the establishment candidate, Trey Grayson. Rand Paul is the very likely winner there. In the Democratic primary, the more progressive and probably more electable Jack Conway has been gaining on Dan Mongiardo in the polls, but it looks too close to call.

In Arkansas, Senator Blanche Lincoln had to fill out a provisional ballot at her polling station, because she had requested an absentee ballot and not returned it. Oops! Unfortunately, she seems to have a comfortable lead over Bill Halter. The main question today is whether she will be kept under 50 percent of the vote, forcing a runoff election. Also unfortunately, Congressman John Boozman, the strongest potential Republican candidate, looks set to win the GOP primary easily.

The special election in Hawaii's first district is just a disaster. Ed Case should not have jumped into this race when most of the locals had already backed Colleen Hannabusa. As a result, those two are going to split the Democratic vote, and Republican Charles Djou will win a plurality. DavidNYC is also right; Neil Abercrombie should not have resigned from this seat, which forced the special election. He should have either held the seat while running for governor or declined to seek re-election in 2008. Let's hope we can win this seat back in November with the Democratic vote united behind one candidate.

Post any comments, predictions or tips on election results sites in this thread.

CORRECTION: Ballots for the Hawaii special election will count if they arrive in the mail by Saturday, May 22.

UPDATE: Conway leads in Kentucky with more than two-thirds of the precincts in, but his strongest areas appear to have reported already. The number crunchers at Swing State Project predict he will win narrowly, but it's too early to know.

UPDATE: Politico is continually updating results here. Conway leads by about 20,000 votes (46 percent to 41 percent) with nearly 80 percent of precincts reporting. Rand Paul easily won the Republican primary with nearly 60 percent of the votes that have been counted.

UPDATE: The Kentucky Democratic primary has been called for Jack Conway, who leads by about 5,500 votes. It's been a while since Democrats won a U.S. Senate election in Kentucky, but the Conway/Paul matchup is the most favorable one we could have hoped for.

The Pennsylvania Democratic primary has been called for Joe Sestak, who leads 53 percent to 47 percent (about 44,000 votes) with 74 percent of precincts reporting. Specker didn't get the turnout he needed in Philadelphia.

With about 21 percent of precincts reporting in Arkansas, Lincoln leads Halter 45 percent to 41 percent. If those numbers hold, the race is headed to a runoff. I have no idea what part of the state has already reported.

UPDATE: Conservative Democrat Mark Critz has beaten Tim Burns in the special election to serve out the remainder of Murtha's term in PA-12. The same two candidates won their parties' respective primaries, so will face off in November. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will be very pleased to have won this one, especially given the likely outcome in HI-01.

MORNING UPDATE: With almost all the votes counted in Arkansas, Lincoln leads Halter by 44.5 percent to 42.5 percent, with D.C. Morrison taking in 13 percent. (Boozman avoided a runoff on the Republican side.) The next three weeks will be tricky for Lincoln to navigate. I also have to wonder whether the president will cut more ads for her or make a campaign visit. Toward the end of the Pennsylvania race Obama didn't do much for Arlen Specter despite earlier promises from the White House.

Critz's margin over Burns was 53 percent to 45 percent in an R+1 district where Obama's approval is only around 33 percent. I have to agree with Matt Lewis, who said last night, "Republicans should be very concerned about the margin of defeat in PA-12. NRCC has major questions to confront." I also think we'll see President Bill Clinton campaigning for Democratic candidates in a lot of rural and/or working-class districts this fall. Stumping for Critz on Sunday, Clinton told the crowd, "Maybe [Burns] should move to California, if he wants to run against Nancy Pelosi."

Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Arkansas, Hawaii election day thread

Conventional wisdom says Senator Arlen Specter needs relatively high turnout today to prevail against his Democratic challenger Joe Sestak, who has gained a lot of support in the last month and has a narrow lead in the polling average. It's been rainy today in the Philadelphia area, which isn't good for turnout, but many people may vote after work if it clears up a little. I learned from Michael McAuliff that there's a large ethnic Slovak population in the Pittsburgh area, which could give an edge to Sestak if turnout is high. I hope Sestak will win, but I don't feel confident about that at all.

Swing State Project previews the other Pennsylvania races here. The special election to fill Jack Murtha's seat in PA-12 will attract the most attention. it's the only House district in the country that voted for John Kerry in 2004 and John McCain in 2008. Jeffmd posted pretty district maps and analysis here.

In Kentucky's Senate race, it looks like the Republican primary will end with a humiliating defeat for the establishment candidate, Trey Grayson. Rand Paul is the very likely winner there. In the Democratic primary, the more progressive and probably more electable Jack Conway has been gaining on Dan Mongiardo in the polls, but it looks too close to call.

In Arkansas, Senator Blanche Lincoln had to fill out a provisional ballot at her polling station, because she had requested an absentee ballot and not returned it. Oops! Unfortunately, she seems to have a comfortable lead over Bill Halter. The main question today is whether she will be kept under 50 percent of the vote, forcing a runoff election. Also unfortunately, Congressman John Boozman, the strongest potential Republican candidate, looks set to win the GOP primary easily.

The special election in Hawaii's first district is just a disaster. Ed Case should not have jumped into this race when most of the locals had already backed Colleen Hannabusa. As a result, those two are going to split the Democratic vote, and Republican Charles Djou will win a plurality. DavidNYC is also right; Neil Abercrombie should not have resigned from this seat, which forced the special election. He should have either held the seat while running for governor or declined to seek re-election in 2008. Let's hope we can win this seat back in November with the Democratic vote united behind one candidate.

Post any comments, predictions or tips on election results sites in this thread.

CORRECTION: Ballots for the Hawaii special election will count if they arrive in the mail by Saturday, May 22.

UPDATE: Conway leads in Kentucky with more than two-thirds of the precincts in, but his strongest areas appear to have reported already. The number crunchers at Swing State Project predict he will win narrowly, but it's too early to know.

UPDATE: Politico is continually updating results here. Conway leads by about 20,000 votes (46 percent to 41 percent) with nearly 80 percent of precincts reporting. Rand Paul easily won the Republican primary with nearly 60 percent of the votes that have been counted.

UPDATE: The Kentucky Democratic primary has been called for Jack Conway, who leads by about 5,500 votes. It's been a while since Democrats won a U.S. Senate election in Kentucky, but the Conway/Paul matchup is the most favorable one we could have hoped for.

The Pennsylvania Democratic primary has been called for Joe Sestak, who leads 53 percent to 47 percent (about 44,000 votes) with 74 percent of precincts reporting. Specker didn't get the turnout he needed in Philadelphia.

With about 21 percent of precincts reporting in Arkansas, Lincoln leads Halter 45 percent to 41 percent. If those numbers hold, the race is headed to a runoff. I have no idea what part of the state has already reported.

UPDATE: Conservative Democrat Mark Critz has beaten Tim Burns in the special election to serve out the remainder of Murtha's term in PA-12. The same two candidates won their parties' respective primaries, so will face off in November. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will be very pleased to have won this one, especially given the likely outcome in HI-01.

MORNING UPDATE: With almost all the votes counted in Arkansas, Lincoln leads Halter by 44.5 percent to 42.5 percent, with D.C. Morrison taking in 13 percent. (Boozman avoided a runoff on the Republican side.) The next three weeks will be tricky for Lincoln to navigate. I also have to wonder whether the president will cut more ads for her or make a campaign visit. Toward the end of the Pennsylvania race Obama didn't do much for Arlen Specter despite earlier promises from the White House.

Critz's margin over Burns was 53 percent to 45 percent in an R+1 district where Obama's approval is only around 33 percent. I have to agree with Matt Lewis, who said last night, "Republicans should be very concerned about the margin of defeat in PA-12. NRCC has major questions to confront." I also think we'll see President Bill Clinton campaigning for Democratic candidates in a lot of rural and/or working-class districts this fall. Stumping for Critz on Sunday, Clinton told the crowd, "Maybe [Burns] should move to California, if he wants to run against Nancy Pelosi."

Progressive Senate Candidates Make Closing Arguments

They’re calling it Super Senate Tuesday. Next week on May 18, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Arkansas will all hold competitive primaries for the U.S. Senate. All three races offer the progressive movement the chance to defeat lackluster conserva-Dems. (Also Tuesday, the special election to replace the late Rep. Jack Murtha in PA-12 and the non-competitive OR-SEN primary.)

In both Kentucky and Pennsylvania, progressive candidates down roughly 20 points just a month or two ago are now in dead heats against inferior opponents. In Kentucky, state Attorney General Jack Conway is squaring off against Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo. Mongiardo is un-electable in a general, conservative (he agrees with Mitch McConnell on health care!), and possibly corrupt. Conway is none of those things, and yet a new Daily Kos poll has Mongiardo winning 39-36. SurveyUSA has it virtually tied at Mongiardo 38, Conway 37.

Fortunately, Conway has the momentum. In the past week, he’s picked up endorsements from the Lexington Herald Leader, state auditor Crit Luallen, and former Senator Wendell Ford, who is spending the final four days of the primary campaign barnstorming the state with Conway. Here’s a new video from Conway’s campaign:

Another close race is PA-SEN between retired admiral Rep. Joe Sestak and former Repub Arlen Specter. This race is also tied; Kos calls it 45-43 for Sestak, Muhlenberg tracking says 43-45 for Specter, and Quinnipiac says 44-42 for Specter. Here’s the closing argument from Sestak, a new ad comparing his voting record to Specter’s:

I’ve been very impressed with the last two ads I’ve seen from Sestak’s campaign – this and the one highlighting Specter’s party switch and close ties to Dubya and Palin. The latest news on that ad is that Specter cited a local newscast as proof that Sestak was splicing his words and taking them out of context – and yet himself spliced the newscast and took it out of context to make that point.

I used to support Arlen Specter, but then he tried to smear Admiral Sestak’s military record, making up false charges against a decorated veteran for political gain. There’s little worse in my book. Kentucky’s Daniel Mongiardo isn’t much better than Rand Paul, and we’ll be better off with even a liberal Arlen Specter, so please, support Jack Conway and Joe Sestak today. They’re both close, but need a final push – especially in Sestak’s case, where a tie favors Specter’s organizational advantage.

Also happening, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter is still well behind incumbent Senator Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas. I still think she’ll get 50% of the vote, but he is catching up, so maybe show him some love too and we can knock out several conservative obstructionists at once.

Three More Blows For Specter

Today is not a good day to be former Repub Arlen Specter. First, a second polling firm now shows him well behind retired Admiral Rep. Joe Sestak in the PA-SEN Democratic primary. Second, Specter has fallen well behind Sestak in both state-wide favorability ratings and general election matchups, giving Sestak all the electability cards. Third, you just know Specter had to be rooting against Obama nominating Kagan for the Supreme Court, and that's going to hurt him.

Reflecting the same results as the Muhlenberg tracking poll, Rasmussen now shows Sestak in the lead. Both polls show a 47-42 race, right at the 5% MOE. This is the third day in a row Sestak has led the Muhlenberg poll and his largest lead yet; it is the first time he has led in a new Rasmussen poll. Muhlenberg has 11% undecided; Rasmussen 8%. (Rasmussen included "some other candidate" among the choices, which grabbed the other 3%.) These polls used different methodologies to find virtually the same results.

Another new Rasmussen poll shows that Sestak is surging almost as much with the general public as he is the Democratic electorate. Sestak's favorable rating is now 50%, tied with Toomey's 51% and far ahead of Specter's 41. If the general election were held today, Specter would lose to Toomey 50-38, whereas Sestak is virtually tied at 42-40. In February, both trailed 47-38. It's clear where the momentum lies.

Also, this nugget from NBC's First Read sugests the President's new nominee to the Supreme Court may have an impact on the PA-SEN race:

As we predicted in First Thoughts, Joe Sestak's campaign is seizing on Arlen Specter's vote against Elena Kagan in 2009, when the Senate was confirming her to be U.S. solicitor general. Specter voted against her before his switch to the Democratic Party...

But he added: "My opponent, Sen. Specter, has already made his views about the president's nominee clear by voting against her confirmation to be Solicitor General, even as seven of his fellow Republicans approved her nomination. I expect Sen. Specter may backtrack from his earlier vote on Ms. Kagan this week in order to help himself in the upcoming primary election, but the people of Pennsylvania have no way of knowing where he will stand after May 18.

PA-SEN: Sestak’s Lead Expands, Favorables Rise

Friday’s Muhlenberg tracking poll showed retired Admiral Rep. Joe Sestak taking the lead over recent Republican Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic primary. Saturday’s poll, released a few minutes ago, shows that lead growing.

From May 5-8, Sestak lead Specter 46-42 with 12% undecided, almost outside the 5% MOE. From May 4-7, Sestak lead Specter 44-42 with 14% undecided. Just as importantly, in the past week Sestak’s approval has risen 7 points from 45 to 52 while Specter’s has plummeted even more, from 58 to 50.

Regarding the general election, 35% have no opinion of Sestak, compared to just 14% for Specter. Specter had slightly better numbers than Sestak in the last general election poll, but if indie numbers are anything like Democratic numbers, then the undecideds suggest he’s at a November ceiling whereas Sestak still has room to grow. Pollster’s Harry Enten thinks that’s exactly the case, writing on his personal blog Friday that while “it is true that Specter only trails [Repub Toomey] by 6.9% (while Sestak trails by 9.1%), the Sestak vs. Toomey matchup also has a larger pool of undecided voters. Thus, Sestak would have a greater opportunity to pick up voters and close any gap between Toomey and himself.”

Enten’s analysis is of April polls, conducted well before Specter’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week. Since then, his popularity has only fallen while Sestak’s has grown. Sestak’s new ad on Specter’s self-serving party switch as well as Specter’s own counterproductive attacks on Sestak’s military service have clearly taken their toll, so one can only assume that the numbers are even worse for Specter now. If another poll validates Sestak’s lead before the May 18 primary, we’ll know the race has a new favorite. There are 3-4 polls in the field now, so we should find out soon.

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