NC-Sen: Marshall wins runoff, will face Burr

North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall has won today's runoff Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. With most of the votes counted, Marshall leads Cal Cunningham by 60 percent to 40 percent. Marshall will face first-term incumbent Richard Burr, whose approval ratings have long been anemic.

I'll never understand why the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee intervened on behalf of Cunningham in this race. Since the campaign began, Marshall has polled better against Burr than Cunningham. In fact, Tom Jensen, director of North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling, noted today,

Marshall is looking considerably more competitive against Richard Burr at this point in the election cycle than Kay Hagan did against Elizabeth Dole two years ago. Our most recent poll found Marshall down 46-39 to Burr. In late June of 2008 Dole led Hagan 51-37 in our polling. Certainly the 2010 election cycle is not shaping up as positively for Democrats as the 2008 one did. But Burr's approval numbers are weaker than Dole's were, his lead in the race at this point is smaller than Dole's was, and the fact that he is easily the most endangered Republican incumbent in the country should ensure this race gets a lot of national money poured into it. Burr is favored to win but it will be close, and Democratic voters ensured that today with their votes for Marshall.

A win for Democrats in North Carolina would virtually eliminate any chance the GOP has of retaking the Senate this November. At the very least, the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee will now have to spend precious resources on defense here.

UPDATE: Ed Kilgore reports on the other North Carolina primary election results.

NC-Sen: Ken Lewis endorses Elaine Marshall

Elaine Marshall picked up a big endorsement yesterday in her campaign for the U.S. Senate from Ken Lewis:

Lewis said he was particularly impressed with the conviction and courage shown by Marshall, North Carolina's secretary of state, even as Democratic officials in Washington put their support behind the other remaining candidate, Cal Cunningham. He praised Marshall for her ability to organize grass roots support and to appeal to a broad range of voters.

"I believe that to win this fall, Democrats will have to do both," Lewis said, as Marshall and her supporters stood nearby. "And Secretary Marshall provides us with a demonstrably stronger opportunity to do just that." [...]

Lewis said during Wednesday's news conference that he has since [March] had more conversations with Marshall and believes she will be able to lead in Washington. He continued to pound on a message of insider politics by questioning the role the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee played in recruiting Cunningham instead of letting North Carolina voters choose a candidate, declaring that they had been "trying to exercise undue influence in our nominating process."

In the May 4 primary, Marshall won about 36 percent of the vote to 27 percent for Cunningham and 17 percent for Lewis. She was already favored going into the June 22 runoff election, and Lewis' support makes her the prohibitive favorite. The winner of the runoff will face first-term incumbent Senator Richard Burr, whose approval numbers are anemic. This isn't our best pickup opportunity in the Senate, but the race is winnable with a strong campaign and GOTV.

Of all the questionable moves made by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee under Bob Menendez's leadership, meddling in the North Carolina primary looks like the worst. It's bad enough for the DSCC to blow money on Blanche Lincoln and Arlen Specter against challengers from the left, but you'd expect the committee to support incumbents. I see no reason for the DSCC to take sides in North Carolina. Cunningham doesn't poll better against Burr than Marshall does; in fact, Marshall does better in some polling. Most progressives in North Carolina favor Marshall over Cunningham (though Cunningham did get the Sierra Club's endorsement).

Without the DSCC's spending for Cunningham, Marshall might have won the primary outright on May 4. It's not as if we won't need the DSCC's money in at least 10 other Senate races this fall.

Any thoughts on this campaign or North Carolina politics generally are welcome in this thread.

Money and the 2010 Midterms

A bit of cold water for those who think the outcome of the 2010 midterms has already been decided, with the Republicans set to retake one or both Houses of the Congress.

The top 3 Dem campaign committees have outraised their GOP rivals, adding to a financial gap that some on the GOP side believe could rob them of opportunities come Nov.

The DSCC will report having raised $6M in March, barely higher than the NRSC's $5.14M raised. The DSCC also has a narrow cash on hand advantage, with $17M in the bank versus the NRSC's $15M.

Also this month, the DNC outraised the RNC by a $13M to $11M margin. Earlier today, the DCCC announced it would file reports showing it had outraised the NRCC, $9.77M to $8M.

Both the DCCC and the DSCC have paid off all their debt. The DNC still had $3.7M in obligations at the end of last month, though they have yet to report a debt figure this month. None of the GOP committees have showed a debt for months.

Looking deeper into the numbers, specifically into those relating to the House of Representatives, which is viewed as more tenuously in the hands of the Democrats than the Senate, the party in power now holds a $26 million to $10 million cash-on-hand advantage over the challenging Republicans. What does this mean? The national Democrats now have the capability to play in 2 1/2 times more seats than the national Republicans. While this financial disparity isn't assured to remain through November, the fact that the Democrats continue to raise more than their Republican counterparts suggests that all of the talk of the House already having been all but lost for the Democrats might be a bit overblown.

Dem Committees Have 75% More in Bank than GOP

If the Republicans think they have a shot at retaking either the House or the Senate in 2010, their current bank accounts strongly disagree.

According to Hotline on Call, the Republican National Committee under Michael Steele has been hemorrhaging money -- from $22.8 million in the bank at the beginning of the year to just $8.75 million on hand as of the end of November, the point through which the present reports are current. The Democratic National Committee holds a similar $8.3 million in the bank after debt.

But while the RNC has still been able to hold on to a small edge over its Democratic counterpart (albeit a rapidly narrowing one), the GOP's congressional campaign committees have not been so lucky. (For more on this, check out desmoinesdem's post from yesterday.)

In the race for the House in 2010, which the Republicans are thought to have a relatively better shot at, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee holds a $13 million to $2 million cash-on-hand advantage. On the Senate side, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee leads the National Republican Senatorial Committee $10.2 million to $7.3 million in available money.

All told, the Democratic campaign committees have a net $31.5 million in the bank, as compared with the $18.05 million held by the GOP committees -- a 75% advantage for the Democrats. Yet unclear is an explanation of how this deficit is supposed to augur well for Republican hopes of reclaiming one or both chambers of Congress in 2010.

There's more...

DCCC outraises NRCC again in November

Josh Kraushaar reported for the Politico on Friday that the "National Republican Congressional Committee is getting clobbered by their Democratic counterparts on the fundraising front":

The DCCC raised $3.65 million for the month, and ended November with $15.35 million cash-on-hand. It still holds $2.66 million in debt from last election cycle.

The NRCC only raised $2.34 million in November, and spent $2.16 million, hardly adding to their overall cash total. The committee now has $4.35 million in its account, while still owing $2 million in debt.

I am feeling rather pessimistic about next year's House races, but if the NRCC can't build up a decent war chest now, with unemployment high and support for health care reform sinking, I don't see them putting together a huge wave. They're talking about targeting dozens of seats, but they're a long way from having the money to fund that many challengers.

On the other hand, they do seem to have a more enthusiastic base.  

The National Republican Senatorial Committee did somewhat better last month, raising $3.3 million while the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised $3.0 million. The DSCC still has more cash on hand than the NRSC, but not nearly as big an advantage as the House Democrats have over the House Republicans.

I suspect that the repeated Democratic concessions on the health care bill have hurt the DSCC's fundraising this fall.

Update [2009-12-20 18:23:20 by desmoinesdem]: Swing State Project posted a chart with the November numbers, including the RNC and the DNC. The RNC raised more than the DNC last month but spent more than they raised.

There's more...

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