Previewing Senate Elections: Illinois

This is the first part of a series of posts analyzing competitive Senate elections in blue states. The second part, which analyzes New York, can be found here.


In November 2010, Democratic State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias will face off against Republican Congressman Mark Kirk, in what looks to be a competitive Senate race. A heavily blue state, Democrats have been hurt by a bad national environment coupled with continuing fall-out from the Rod Blagojevich scandals.

Out of the three states being analyzed (the other two being California and New York), Illinois is the state in which Republicans are strongest. Out of the three, it is also the state with the most competitive forthcoming election. This post will analyze the political contours of the state, and the long and difficult path Mr. Kirk must tread for victory.

Previewing Senate Elections: Illinois

With respect to demographics, Illinois is structured very simply. It has three parts: Chicago, its suburban metropolis, and the mostly rural downstate.

To win, Congressman Mark Kirk will need to run a gauntlet of challenges in each of section of the state. He must capitalize on Republican strength downstate, revive it in the suburbs, and hope that Chicago turn-out is depressed. If done properly, this will result in a close-run, Scott-Brown type victory.

More below.

Downstate Illinois

Mr. Kirk’s easiest task should be here.  Much of downstate Illinois has more in common with Kentucky and Missouri than far-north Chicago. Like these two states, the region has been trending Republican: Bill Clinton did far better than Barack Obama here.

There are several complicating factors. Downstate Illinois has several population centers – but these cities tend to vote less Republican (they all voted for Obama, for instance). Moreover, Mr. Kirk hails from the Chicago metropolis and has a reputation as a moderate congressman; he may not play too well with rural conservatives.

Nevertheless, the region constitutes the Republican base, and Mr. Kirk will need every vote he can get. He should be able to win downstate Illinois quite comfortably. He will have to. After all, President George W. Bush won practically every single county here – and he lost Illinois by double-digits.

Chicago’s Suburbs

The true test of Mark Kirk’s candidacy will come in the Chicago suburbs. His task is doable, but not exactly easy.

There is good news and bad news for Republicans. First the good news: unlike other solidly blue states, the Chicago suburbs still vote Republican. Like Orange County, for years their strength kept Republicans competitive in Illinois. Take a look at suburban DuPage County:

Previewing Senate Elections: Illinois

(Note: A negative margin indicates that Democrats lost Cook County, or that Republicans lost DuPage County.)

Even after Democrats started winning suburbs, during President Bill Clinton’s time, Chicago’s suburbs continued voting Republican. In 2004, for instance, George Bush won DuPage county by a little less than 10%.

The bad news for Republicans is that each election, they win the suburbs by a little less. In 2008 President Barack Obama swept DuPage County and the rest of Chicago’s suburbs by double-digits. This victory constituted the culmulation of decades of leftward movement.

The test for Mr. Kirk is the extent to which he can reverse this trend. He will not just have to win the suburbs, but turn the clock back two decades – back to the glory years in which Republicans won around 70% of the vote in DuPage County. (Mr. Kirk will probably not have to do that well, given rising Republican strength downstate.)

Is this doable? Given that Republicans seem to be winning suburbs everywhere this year, it is certainly possible. Mr. Kirk, moreover, has spent a decade representing a Chicago suburb congressional district; this is why Republicans have nominated him.


43.3% of Illinois residents live in Cook County, home to America’s third-largest city. Of these, half call Chicago home; the other half live in an inner ring of suburbs.

If God decided to create the ideal Democratic stronghold, he would get something like Chicago. The city is heavily populated by black and Latino minorities, mixed together with a dollop of white liberals. As a cherry on top, it is also home to President Barack Obama – and Chicagoans are highly aware of this fact.

Whether he loses or wins by a landslide, Mark Kirk will not win Cook County. He will just have to take the blow, cross his fingers, and pray that minority turn-out is low (as it has been, this year). That is not a good strategy, but it is the best Republicans can do when 89% of them are white, and they are competing in a minority-majority city.


So what does Mr. Kirk have to do? Say that he gets 35% of the vote in Cook County – propelled by inner-ring suburban strength and minority apathy – and wins a landslide everywhere else in the state (for instance, a 3:2 margin). This gives him 50.3% of the vote in the 2008 Illinois electorate. If white Republicans downstate turn out, and minorities in Chicago do not, Mr. Kirk may get bumped up to a 2-3% victory.

Previewing Senate Elections: Illinois

As we will see, this task is easier compared to the challenges Republicans face in California and New York. In Illinois they can (barely) get away with a white-only coalition. In California Republicans absolutely must win minorities – a novel challenge. As for New York – it is similar to Illinois, except that New York City is double the size of Chicago. And upstate New York is trending Democratic.


AL-02: Bright’s Big Lead

Anzalone-Liszt for Bobby Bright (2/8-11, likely voters):

Bobby Bright (D-inc): 54

Martha Roby (R): 30

Bobby Bright (D-inc): 55

Stephanie Bell (R): 29

Bobby Bright (D-inc): 58

Rick Barber (R): 26

(MoE: ±4.4%)

Very, very good numbers for Bobby Bright — especially when you consider that Bright sits at the top of SSP’s House Vulnerability Index for Democratic-held seats. Bright hasn’t made it easy for Republicans, toeing a very conservative line on almost every major vote and touting that style in his outreach. He enjoys a solid 68-25 favorability rating and a 67% job approval rating.

On paper, Bright should be one of the easiest Dems to knock off this year, but so far, it seems that he’s beating the odds.

UPDATE: Here’s something I glazed over the first time around — and something that the “But it’s an internal poll!” crowd may want to consider. Straight from the mouth of Republican Stephanie Bell:

Bell, who has served on the school board since 1995, said the numbers are similar to other polls she has heard about, but have not been released. She also said she respected polling from Anzalone-Liszt.

RaceTracker Wiki: AL-02

KS-03: Moore’s Wife May Run

At the very least, she’s considering it:

Prominent Kansas Democrats talked up retiring U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore’s wife Saturday as a potential successor for him in the state’s 3rd Congressional District.

Stephene Moore was among a handful of candidates or potential congressional candidates to emerge during the Kansas Democratic Party’s annual Washington Days convention. […]

[Dennis Moore] strongly hinted during a luncheon speech that his wife is considering a run, telling about 400 fellow Democrats, “Stay tuned.”

And state party Chairman Larry Gates said, “I think she’s possibly on the list.”

But Stephene Moore, 56, a registered nurse, declined to comment about her plans after Saturday’s party luncheon.

“I’ve not made any decisions on anything,” she said.

I don’t think anyone expected this turn of events, but it seems that Moore may be attempting to recruit his own wife to run for his seat after several prominent local Democrats took a pass on the race. If nothing else, she should be able to salvage Moore’s yard sign supply with the use of a few strategically-placed stickers…

(Hat-tip: Charlie M)

RaceTracker Wiki: KS-03

Another way to Use Dave’s Redistricting: Partisan Data for Maryland


So, hi, I’m Josh, this is my first diary.  I’m 17, and I got bored one day, so I decided, why not redistrict Maryland solely by 08 Vote.  In simpler terms, let’s use Dave’s, but instead, color-code into Very Dem (>70%), Dem (60-69%), Mod (49-59%), Rep (39-48%), and Very Rep (< 39% using Dark Blue, Light Blue, Purple, Light Red, and Red.  I have done that here, and I will do a county-by-county description of Maryland (I will post New York soon as well).  This will also help those who plan on trying redistricting with these states.  I will talk about each county, sorted by population

Montgomery-DC Suburbs

 One of the most liberal counties in the state.  The area bordering DC (Takoma Park, Chevy Chase, etc) is very, very liberal.  However, as one moves outward, the area gets more swingy, particularly along the Virginia border, such as in Poolesville.  However, further into the state, a line of dark blue runs through Gaithersburg and Rockville.The very North of the County, areas like Laytonville, are even somewhat conservative

Prince George’s-DC Suburbs

 A highly Black liberal area near DC, containing Univ. of Maryland and Bowie, it is almost entirely Very Dem, with exceptions in some of Bowie and Berwyn Heights.

Baltimore County-Baltimore Suburbs

 A county with extreme variance and quite a bit of polarization.  The area southwest of Baltimore is mainly Rep, and the area North of that (West of Baltimore) is much larger and Very Dem.  North of Baltimore is more Mod and Rep areas, while more North of that, near Pennsylvania, is a Very Rep area.  To the Northeast of Baltimore is a mixture of Rep and Very Rep areas, and to the East of Baltimore, along the Bay, is some highly conservative areas.  However, overall, this county is Moderate.

Baltimore, the City

 Enough said.  Highly liberal, sparsely populated southeast is Moderate. rest is very dem.

Anne Arundel-Annapolis

 Relatively Republican suburbs of Baltimore. The parts closer to the bay are more conservative than the inland areas, with Annapolis being an exception.  Some highly Republican areas in central county.

Howard-In between DC,Baltimore

A Democratic area, not as much as DC Suburbs or Baltimore, however.  The Eastern half ranges from moderate to Very Dem, while the Western half is more similar to the Panhandle.


 Except Brunswick (Moderate) and Frederick (Dem), this county is conservative near Virginia and very conservative further in-state.

Harford-Balt. Suburbs

 Our most Republican turf yet, very, very conservative.  More moderate along the water.  Contains conservative Bel Air Area.

Carroll-Balt. Suburbs

 Harford’s twin county.  Same comments, no areas along water, Westminster is less conservative, but still much more conservative than the state itself.


 Frederick’s Western twin.  Conservative near Virginia, moderate to liberal in Hagerstown, very conservative in panhandle.


 From the looks of it, it wouldn’t appear to be a Democratic county, but it has been for the past few elections. One of few counties Gore won while Clinton didn’t.  Northern half is very liberal, 1/3 Black.  Southern part, more conservative.  La Plata in middle is moderate.


 Balt. Exurbs and some of the E. Shore.  Elkton is moderate, the rest is Rep or Very Rep.


Mainly Moderate Republican.  I don’t know enough about it to say any more.

St. Mary’s

 Southwest Peninsula.  Republican, nothing too much of interest.


 An awesome name, contains Democratic Salisbury, moderate Fruitland.  Rest is very Republican.

Panhandle (Allegany, Garrett)

 You didn’t think I would list every county individuall, did you?  These two are identical, except population and the fact that Allegany has some Republican territory in Cumberland rather than solely Very Republican.

E. Shore (Worcester, Queen Anne’s, Talbot, Dorchester, Garrett, Caroline, Somerset, Kent)

 Almost all Rep or Very Rep, no clear trends.  Some of Southern end more Dem, probably due to Black vote?

Please comment if you find this interesting so I know if I can continue this.  

IN-Sen: Hill Won’t Run, Will Endorse Ellsworth

Not surprising, but still good news:

“I took some needed time this week to thoughtfully reflect upon what had transpired,” Hill said in a statement. ” I would like to thank all those whose honest input I sought, including members of the Indiana Democratic Party’s Central Committee and folks from the Ninth District.”

Hill also offered support for Ellsworth, who faces a couple of little-known Democrats in his quest to become the party’s nominee. The state party’s central committee will ultimately pick their candidate after the state’s May 4 primary.

“I believe my friend and colleague, Congressman Brad Ellsworth, is the right man to fulfill the task of ensuring a Democrat is elected to succeed Senator Bayh,” Hill said.

Hill, like the rest of us, was totally blindsided by Evan Bayh’s retirement decision, but suffered one crucial disadvantage over Brad Ellsworth: he was in Afghanistan and incommunicado for security reasons at the time of Bayh’s announcement. For many strategists, that was probably just as well — they both preferred Ellsworth as a candidate, and his open seat would be slightly easier to defend over Hill’s. Still, Hill seemed upset that he had been passed over so quickly, which probably inspired his brief exploration of the race. And now we return to our regularly scheduled program.

GA-07: Linder Will Retire

Another Republican decides that it’s quitting time:

Rep. John Linder (R-GA) will retire at the end of this term, according to local media reports, finishing an 18-year career notable for a rough stint as chair of the NRCC.

Linder, who represents a solidly GOP district on the northeastern outskirts of Atlanta, has served in public office since winning a seat in the GA House in ’74. After winning his House seat in ’92 by narrow 51%-49% margin, he never faced a serious challenge again.

A longtime ally of ex-Speaker Newt Gingrich, Linder took over the NRCC in during the ’98 cycle, when Gingrich was speaker. But the public sided with Bill Clinton after the GOP Congress impeached him, and GOPers lost 5 sets. Shortly after the election, Gingrich resgned, and Linder lost the NRCC chairmanship to then-Rep. Tom Davis.

Linder’s district, based in rapidly-diversifying Gwinnett County, saw a pretty substantial shift towards the Democrats over the last two Presidential cycles. While Bush cleaned up in this CD, winning the district by 70-30 in 2004, Barack Obama closed that margin to 60-39 four years later. However, those demographic shifts won’t be enough to put this open seat in the competitive column this year. We’ll have to wait and see what configuration this district will have after the next round of redistricting.

(Hat-tips: Rural Dem and SSP user TheUnknown285, who has long guessed in the comments that Linder was nearing retirement.)

RaceTracker Wiki: GA-07

DE-SEN: Castle Leads R2K Poll by 18

This hasn’t been posted anywhere, for some reason, so I decided to make it the subject of my first diary. R2K polled the Delaware Senate Race and the results were pretty ugly for team blue:

Mike Castle (R) 53 (51)

Chris Coons (D) 35 (39)

Note the really bad news here for Coons (which is ignored by Daily Kos commentator Adam B. – don’t know why he wrote about this instead of Steve Singiser, the usual polling guru): Coons is actually down and Castle is up from the last time they did this poll.

Adam B. tries to spin this as not being all bad news for Coons, but his reasoning seems a bit specious to me. Mainly, he suggests that this is like the Carper-Roth race in 2000 in that you have two popular incumbents, one of whom is much younger than the other and is running as the representative of the more popular party in the state. For those of you who don’t know that race, Carper, then the Delaware Governor and a Democrat, ousted the Republican Senator Bill Roth, although both were popular at the time, by a substantial margin.

Here’s why I don’t buy it: 2000 was a presidential year, which drove Dem turnout in Delaware that year, and it was a Democratic year over all (I think five Republican Senators lost that year). This year won’t be either. Also, I think Roth had some pretty severe health issues which I don’t believe Castle has (I know he’s had a stroke in the past, but he seems to have recovered from that pretty well). Also, Carper had been elected to some pretty heavy statewide offices – I know Coons represents two-thirds of the state as an executive, but that’s still not the whole state and still not governor.

Feel free to tell me I’m wrong about this. The Dem lean of the state means I wouldn’t write off Coons chances completely, but this poll does not give me a lot of hope.  

SSP Daily Digest: 2/26

AZ-Sen: It’s getting to the point where the real question is, is there any key establishment Republican left who hasn’t endorsed John McCain in his GOP primary duel with J.D. Hayworth. Apparently, the specter of teabagger revolt over snubbing Hayworth isn’t too intimidating to anybody. Today, it was Minnesota governor and likely presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty who gave McCain the thumbs-up.

CA-Sen: There was a Senate component to that poll of Republican primary voters by M4 Strategies on behalf of the Small Business Action Committee, too. They find ex-Rep. Tom Campbell in the lead at 32, with Carly Fiorina following at 19 and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore at 11.

FL-Sen: You’ve probably already seen these rumors, but in case you hadn’t, Jack Furnari, a conservative activist and a regular contributor to the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel’s political blog, says that multiple sources have told him that Charlie Crist is preparing to cast off his scarlet “R” and run for the Senate as an indie. Crist‘s communications director, however, says this is a “patently false rumor.”

KY-Sen: Rand Paul is already making a strong push for the finish line in the May 18 Senate GOP primary. He’s begun reserving $332K in airtime for the weeks before the primary. So far, the moneybomb-propelled Paul has already spent $291K on TV ads while Trey Grayson is just getting started, with a $17K buy, which may explain some of the disparity between the two in the polls right now.

NC-Sen: Lots of numbers out of North Carolina to look at this morning. Most notably, Rasmussen looks at the general election, finding Richard Burr with a sizable edge over both Democratic challengers; Burr leads SoS Elaine Marshall 50-34 and leads ex-state Sen. Cal Cunningham 51-29. Civitas doesn’t have general election numbers, but looks at the Democratic primary, where they find a whole lotta undecideds: Marshall leads Cunningham 14-4, with Cunningham actually being outpaced by attorney Kenneth Lewis at 5. (PPP, who polled the primary last week, seems to have pushed leaners harder, with Marshall at a whopping 29, followed by Cunningham at 12 and 5 for Lewis.) Finally, Elon (pdf) doesn’t have any head-to-heads at all, but has some approval numbers: Richard Burr is generates a whole lot of indifference, with favorables that work out to 30/23, with 29 for “don’t know” and 19 for “neither favorable/unfavorable” (which is interesting — I’d like to see more pollsters include “meh” as an option). Burr also has an ominous 24% re-elect (with a 51% “time for someone new”). Elaine Marshall’s favorables are at 19/8.

WI-Sen: Republican real estate developer Terrence Wall, thanks to his own money, is the most imposing candidate currently in the race against Russ Feingold in Wisconsin, and he has his own internal poll out courtesy of POS. It suggests that Feingold shouldn’t take his re-election campaign for granted even if Tommy Thompson doesn’t make a surprise re-entry into the political arena; Feingold leads Wall by a 46-39 margin.

AR-Gov: Looks like the Republicans have found someone willing to take one for the team and run against Democratic incumbent Gov. Mike Beebe, who usually polls as the nation’s most popular governor. Former state Sen. Jim Keet says he’s “90% certain” he’ll run. Keet (who’s a personal friend of Beebe) offers a rationale for his candidacy that seems in line with his chances of winning: “If we don’t have candidates that are willing to stand up despite the odds in both parties, then we’ll never have the best possible government. It’s good to have competing views and candidates on both sides of the aisle.”

MD-Gov: Rasmussen takes its first look at the Governor’s race in Maryland, where incumbent Dem Martin O’Malley may face a rematch with ex-Gov. Bob Ehrlich (who hasn’t declared anything, but is starting to act candidate-ish). Their results are right in line with most other pollsters, who’ve seen an O’Malley lead in the high single-digits over Ehrlich; Rasmussen says it’s 49-43.

NH-Gov: With a late entry, it looks like the Republicans are getting an uprgrade in their race against Democratic Gov. John Lynch, another incumbent considered mostly unassailable. The state’s former health and human services commissioner, and loser of the 2002 and 2008 NH-01 GOP primaries, John Stephen, says he’ll give it a whack. (Ex-Rep. Jeb Bradley, who won both those primaries, is chairing Stephen’s campaign.) Social conservative activist Karen Testerman is probably the best-known GOPer in the race so far.

SD-Gov: Rasmussen had good news for Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin yesterday, and they have some more positive data for the Dems, this time in the gubernatorial race. State Sen. minority leader Scott Heidepriem actually leads against two out of three Republican opponents; he leads state Sen. majority leader Dave Knudson 34-31, and teabagging state Sen. Gordon Howie 37-29. Unfortunately, Heidepriem trails the Republican field’s most likely frontrunner, Lt. Governor Dennis Daugaard, 41-32.

TX-Gov: It looks like the DGA is seeing the same polls that we’re seeing. Feeling bullish on ex-Houston mayor Bill White’s chances in the gubernatorial race, they’ve pumped $500K into White’s campaign. White, at $5.4 million, already has doubled up on cash against his likely opponent, incumbent GOP Gov. Rick Perry (who’s at $2.5 million, and may get further drained if he doesn’t avoid a runoff in his primary).

FL-25: A name recognition poll of possible Republican replacements for Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (by Republican pollster Hill Research) seems to give a name rec edge to potential candidate state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, with 39/9 favorables. State Rep. David Rivera, who’s already made his candidacy official, is a bit less known, at 24/5. The best-known person polled is Miami-Dade Co. Commissioner Joe Martinez (at 34/17), who hasn’t really expressed much interest yet.

KS-04: SurveyUSA has another poll in Kansas, where there’s a competitive GOP primary in three different open House seats. Today, they focused on the Wichita-based 4th. I’m wondering if businessman Wink Hartman has been advertising while everyone else has been silent, because that’s the only explanation I can think of for his big lead. Hartman is at 36, beating all his insider opponents: state Sen. Dick Kelsey is at 11, with state Sen. Jean Schodorf and former RNC committeeman Mike Pompeo both at 10. (Either that, or people think they’re voting for Wink Martindale.)

NY-15: With Rep. Charlie Rangel having been on the wrong end of an Ethics Committee ruling yesterday, names are starting to trickle in from fellow House members who want him to put down his Ways and Means gavel. Paul Hodes (running for Senate in NH) was the loudest, along with Bobby Bright and Gene Taylor. Newly-elected Mike Quigley is the only safe-seat Dem to chime in, at least so far.

PA-12: One more big development in the “race” in the 12th, where candidates are jostling to get picked by committee to run in the May 18 special election. Former Lt. Governor Mark Singel suddenly pulled his name out of consideration, which may suggest that there’s a lot of insider movement toward John Murtha’s former district director, Mark Critz. Singel threw his support to Critz, who previously got the endorsements of two other possible candidates, Joyce Murtha and moneybags businessman Mark Pasquerilla. With Westmoreland Co. Commissioner Tom Cesaro also withdrawing his name, it looks like it’s heading down to a choice between Critz and former state Treasurer Barbara Hafer for the Dem nomination. (Hafer, in fact, is now saying she’s likely to run in the primary for Nov. even if she doesn’t get the special election nod.)

RI-01: It looks like the fight for the Democratic nomination in the open seat in the 1st is going to be a mostly two-way fight between Providence mayor David Cicciline and former state party chair William Lynch. Two other Dems who had a shot at making the race interesting, long-ago ex-Rep. Robert Weygand and investment banker Nicholas Pell (grandson of Sen. Claiborne Pell), have said no.

SC-02: No lie: GOP loudmouth Joe Wilson is actually getting a primary challenge. Businessman Joe Grimaud, who lost the 2001 special election primary to Wilson, said he’ll try again in 2010. Grimaud, who can self-fund, said he’s sympathetic to the teabaggers but admits there isn’t much ideological daylight between him and Wilson.

GA-LG: It’s a family affair: Carol Porter, the wife of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dubose Porter, declared her candidacy for the Democratic Lt. Governor nomination. Considering that Dubose Porter is polling only in the single digits in the gubernatorial primary, though, it doesn’t seem like a husband-and-wife team in charge is that likely regardless of how Carol Porter does.

TX-Board of Educ.: Josh Goodman points out how the real drama in next Tuesday’s primary election won’t be the gubernatorial primary but rather the Republican fights for a number of seats on the Texas Board of Education between moderates and conservatives. Social conservatives are close to a majority on the board, but it sounds like moderates may be able to pick up a few seats, swinging the board (crucial for the tenor of school textbooks not just in Texas but nationwide, given how many students are in Texas) away from its love of creationism.

Redistricting: Illinois may be following the lead of a number of other states in trying to make the redistricting process a bit less partisan. Legislative Democrats are pushing a plan to have maps drawn by a special master appointed by two Supreme Court justices in case the legislature deadlocks on maps. The current plan, believe it or not, lets one party (if there’s a deadlock) have the final say on redistricting based on which party’s name gets drawn at random. Republicans (who can probably see they aren’t going to control either chamber of the legislature any time soon) would like to go further than that, all the way to an independent redistricting commission.

Votes: National Journal has released its annual vote ratings on who’s most liberal and most conservative, based on key votes. In the House, most liberal is a tie between Rush Holt, Gwen Moore, John Olver, Linda Sanchez, Jan Schakowsky, Louise Slaughter, Mel Watt, and Henry Waxman, while most conservative is a tie between Trent Franks, Doug Lamborn, Randy Neugebauer, Pete Olson, John Shadegg, and Mac Thornberry. (Worst Dem honors go to Bobby Bright, to the right of 11 Republicans.) In the Senate, Sherrod Brown, Roland Burris, Ben Cardin, Jack Reed, and Sheldon Whitehouse share liberal honors, while Jim Inhofe stands alone in crazy-town. And here’s why Evan Bayh won’t be missed: he earns the Senate’s worst Dem nod, worse than Joe Lieberman and Olympia Snowe while tied with his own freakin’ colleague Richard freakin’ Lugar. (DW-Nominate scores for 2009, more comprehensive although much less user-friendly, also came out a few weeks ago.)

MA-Gov: Baker Moves Up, Although Patrick Still Leads

Suffolk (pdf) (2/21-24, registered voters, 11/4-8 in parentheses):

Deval Patrick (D-inc): 33 (36)

Charlie Baker (R): 25 (15)

Tim Cahill (I): 23 (26)

Jill Stein (G): 3 (NA)

Undecided: 16 (NA)

Deval Patrick (D-inc): 34 (38)

Christy Mihos (R): 19 (20)

Tim Cahill (I): 26 (26)

Jill Stein (G): 3 (NA)

Undecided: 18 (NA)

(MoE: ±4.4%)

Deval Patrick (D-inc): 59

Grace Ross (D): 15

Undecided: 26

Charlie Baker (R): 47

Christy Mihos (R): 17

Undecided: 36

(MoE: ±?%)

There’s a whole lot of ZOMG! going on today associated with the new Suffolk poll of the Massachusetts’ governor’s race, most of it focused on Republican businessman Charlie Baker’s 10-point leap in the last few months as people become more familiar with the previously-little-known CEO (as his gain fits in conveniently with the narrative of the zillion Republicans-resurgent-in-Massachusetts stories spawned by Scott Brown’s surprise victory). Much of the ZOMGing is coming directly from Suffolk head David Paleologos, who’s been telling the press that it’s now a race “between [Republican] Charlie Baker and [Dem-turned-indie] Tim Cahill,” despite the fact that, y’know, Deval Patrick is leading by 8 points. Paleologos says “Whoever emerges from the Baker-Cahill race is likely to be the winner.”

Now I assume that’s just inartfully phrased and that Paleologos doesn’t think that Baker and Cahill are going to face off in some sort of weird primary, and that what he means is that there’s a race-within-a-race where Baker and Cahill try to box each other out and become the dominant non-Patrick candidate. If one of Baker and Cahill somehow does severely damage the other, then, yes, I agree, Patrick’s in deep doo-doo. But if they don’t, and the current holding pattern continues, then there is no winner of the Baker-Cahill “race,” only two losers, as they split the anti-Patrick majority right down the middle. Which is precisely how Patrick is currently leading the race, despite his unappealing 38/50 favorables and 35/54 approvals. Considering, though, that many of the I-hate-Patrick voters are specifically anti-Patrick Democrats or Dem-leaning indies who would never vote for a Republican (for whom Cahill is a safety valve), and that many of Baker’s voters are the state’s small but diehard Republican minority who’d never vote for what’s essentially a moderate Dem (again, Cahill), I suspect the consolidation of the anti-Patrick vote behind one person is easier said than done.

RaceTracker Wiki: MA-Gov