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• Special Elections: Legislative specials have been few and far between this year, but Johnny Longtorso never sleeps. Here's his preview of Tuesday's action in Missouri:
Missouri HD-67: This is an open Democratic seat in northern St. Louis County. The candidates are Democrat Alan Green, a college professor; Republican Dwayne Strickland; Libertarian Jeff Coleman; and independent Tony Weaver. Weaver actually ran in the Democratic primary in 2012 but lost to the prior incumbent by a 73-27 margin.

Missouri HD-120: This is an open Republican seat southwest of the St. Louis area, consisting of parts of Crawford and Phelps Counties; the seat has actually been vacant for over a year since Jason Smith, its former occupant, was elected to Congress in a special election himself. The candidates here are the awesomely named Democrat Zech Hockersmith, who is an elementary school teacher, and Republican Shawn Sisco, who owns a trailer park.

Missouri HD-151: This is an open Republican seat in the southeast of the state, taking in Stoddard County and part of Scott County. The candidates for this seat are Democrat Ryan Holder, who ran for this seat in 2012 and lost by a 2-1 margin, and Republican Tila Hubrecht, a nurse.

Republicans were actually one seat shy of having a veto-proof majority in the House, which is likely why Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon delayed the HD-120 special as long as he did.

KY-Gov: As he was long expected to do, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer has joined the GOP primary for next year's open-seat gubernatorial race in the Bluegrass State, making his announcement at the annual Fancy Farm political picnic. Comer, the only Republican statewide elected official outside of the Kentucky's Senate delegation, was first elected in 2011 and will face former Louisville City Councilman Hal Heiner for the Republican nomination.

Comer started off with a direct jab at Heiner, promising that the state's next governor won't be "a millionaire from Louisville." (Heiner's already been self-funding heavily.) The field could also get a lot more crowded. Businessman Matt Bevin, the failed tea party insurgent in this year's Senate primary, cryptically claimed at Fancy Farm that "I'm considering it and I'm not considering it." (Bqhatevwr, dude.) And Cathy Bailey, George W. Bush's ambassador to Latvia, has said that she, too, is thinking about a run.

Democrats, meanwhile, appear to have united around state Attorney General Jack Conway, and despite his own failed Senate bid in 2010, he has the hallmarks of a strong candidate. Polling's been very limited so far, but this should be a hotly contested race.

TN-Sen: Well, someone's going to wind up being very wrong about Thursday's GOP Senate primary in Tennessee. A new poll from PMI, conducted on behalf of the conservative blog Red Racing Horses, has Sen. Lamar! Alexander up just 41-29 on his chief rival, state Rep. Joe Carr, a far cry from the 53-24 margin Alexander's own internal found just last week. That means one outfit's predicting a 12-point margin (and possibly closing), while the other thinks we'll see a 29-point blowout. Not a lot of room for agreement there. Step right up and place your bets.

FL-Gov: Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, who has already started spending on behalf of Democrats in Pennsylvania and Iowa, is apparently getting ready arm the torpedoes in Florida, too. Steyer's NextGen Climate Action will soon open a branch in Miami, and he's funded the group with $750,000 to help defeat GOP Gov. Rick Scott. That may not sound like a lot, given Florida's size and Steyer's wealth, but Steyer claims he plans to spend much more. Exactly how much he won't say, but nameless local Democrats seem to think Steyer could shell out $10 million on behalf of Charlie Crist's campaign, which would be a boatload.

HI-Gov: Hoo boy. We've finally gotten confirmation of those Merriman polls showing Gov. Neil Abercrombie losing to state Sen. David Ige by double digits in Saturday's Democratic primary, and it sure ain't pretty for the incumbent. Ward Research, on behalf of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Hawaii News Now, finds Ige mashing Abercrombie 54-36, an even more dramatic margin than the already considerable 51-41 drubbing Merriman saw Ige dishing out late last week.

As expected, Ige is doing particularly well with Republicans and independents, who can vote in Hawaii's open primary, but he's even beating Abercrombie 51-40 with Democrats, who make up the bulk of the electorate. Ward also tried to gain some insight into the mysterious question of why Abercrombie is faring so poorly, but it doesn't seem they've succeeded. When presented with a broad range of options to describe why they're voting for Ige, fully 46 percent of respondents said they "just do not like the other candidate"; the next-closest reason (Ige's "personality or style") was cited by only 14 percent. It's pretty damn hard to run a winning campaign when people "just don't like you," no further explanation offered.

And if the primary weren't crazy enough, the general election also has the possibility to go seriously sideways, albeit for entirely different reasons. Ward finds Republican Duke Aiona, who badly lost to Abercrombie four years ago, leading Ige 41-34 and Abercrombie 45-30. Either of these would be truly stunning outcomes, but they're only possible because former Democrat Mufi Hannemann, who lost in the 2010 primary, is running as an independent and takes 14-15 percent in both three-way matchups. Aiona also does unusually well with Democrats (a possible red flag), taking 25 percent against Ige and 31 percent against Abercrombie—both huge figures.

But with the Democratic nomination so unsettled, that probably makes it hard to get an accurate read on November. And the primary, fortunately, has not turned ugly, so hopefully the party will rally around the eventual winner. Indeed, Democrats may be better off if Ige prevails, simply because Abercrombie is so unpopular: His favorability rating is an awful 38-58, while Ige's is a stellar 57-15. Aiona's well-liked, too, though, at 63-24, but at least Mufi is under water at 39-49.

All in all, a nutty year in Hawaii politics is likely only to get nuttier. And given the oft-mentioned difficulties in polling the Aloha State, who even knows what the future holds. We always say that a hallmark of loserspeak is declaring that "the only poll that matters is the one on Election Day." But as Stephen Wolf wryly observes, if there's one state where that's actually true, it's Hawaii—so hang on to your butts, because we've got a long way to go yet.

• AZ-Gov: Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose extremist brand of anti-immigrant zealotry is as popular with the conservative base as it is detested by liberals, has endorsed state Treasurer Doug Ducey in the GOP primary to succeed retiring Gov. Jan Brewer. Ducey's the nominal frontrunner for the Republican nomination, but his leads in the polls on attorney Christine Jones have always been small, so he's doubtless pleased to have a conservative folk hero like Arpaio on his side; indeed, Jones attempted to court Arpaio as well. The primary is Aug. 26.

9:18 AM PT: HI-Sen: And just when you thought Hawaii couldn't get any crazier this year, here comes the Senate portion of Ward Research's new poll, finding underdog Colleen Hanabusa enjoying a 50-42 lead against Sen. Brian Schatz in the Democratic primary. Ward, though, has always been friendlier to the challenger. Schatz has led or tied in every poll this year except for Ward's prior survey in February, when the firm also gave Hanabusa an 8-point lead, 48-40.

As a consequence, you can't quite say Hanabusa is surging, and even the crosstabs look very similar to last time's. If all the other polling is off base, though, what could account for her showing? Schatz has outraised Hanabusa, has enjoyed top-to-bottom establishment support, is the more progressive candidate, and simply hasn't made any mistakes.

So does Ward have a way of connecting to famously reticent Japanese-American women (who favor Hanabusa) that other pollsters lack? Have more Hawaii voters seen Hanabusa ads lately? Is Schatz being punished for his association with unpopular Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who appointed him over Hanabusa in the first place? Or is Ward simply wrong? Any attempts to answer these questions would be purely speculative and probably futile. We're just going to have to wait until Saturday night.

9:36 AM PT: HI-01: Finally, Ward also has some numbers on the 1st District Democratic primary to replace Colleen Hanabusa. State Rep. Mark Takai and state Senate President Donna Mercado Kim are tied at 28 apiece, with Honolulu City Councilor Stanley Chang a distant third with just 12 percent. That's a big jump for Takai, who trailed Kim 31-21 back in February, but it's not as optimistic for him as Merriman's recent survey, which gave him a 30-23 lead. Still, the movement is in the right direction, and Takai looks poised to knock off Kim, who'd led from the moment she entered until the stretch run.

9:48 AM PT (Jeff Singer): Primaries: Tuesday brings us primary contests in Kansas, Michigan, and Washington. We have our primary preview here. There are quite a few races to watch, and a lot is up in the air.

9:53 AM PT (Jeff Singer): Washington: On Tuesday, Washington primary voters go to the polls in several key state Senate races. A Republican led coalition holds a 25-24 majority in the chamber and while no seats will change hands on Tuesday, we'll have a better idea of whether or not Democrats can flip the chamber. Unlike its counterpart in California, Washington's top-two primary has proven to be very good at forecasting how races will turn out in November. In a new piece we example the Washington top-two's record and what races are worth watching on Tuesday for clues about November.

9:53 AM PT: FL Redistricting: The GOP-led Florida legislature has convened for a special session this week, in order to pass a new congressional map that passes constitutional muster, after the existing lines were ruled invalid by a state court judge. Lawmakers have until Aug. 15 to submit their proposal to the judge, at which point plaintiffs will have three days to file any objections.

9:58 AM PT: WI-Gov: Gravis Marketing: Scott Walker (R-inc): 47, Mary Burke (D): 47 (March: 49-44 Walker).

11:34 AM PT: KS-Sen: A new poll from Daily Kos, conducted using Google Consumer Surveys, finds Sen. Pat Roberts holding a 53-39 lead on challenger Milton Wolf in Tuesday's Republican primary in Kansas. The poll of 1,002 likely voters was conducted entirely online on Aug. 4. If you click through the link, you can experiment with Google's excellent interactive system that can instantly show you any demographic crosstab you care to explore—sex, age, income and more.

And even cooler, true junkies can hit the "Export" button in the top-right corner and download a spreadsheet containing all of the poll's individual responses. That is, you can see exactly how each respondent answered each question and what his or her individual demographic characteristics are. This is a level of transparency few outfits offer, but it reflects Daily Kos' continuing commitment to sharing as much data as we possibly can.

An intense debate still rages over the merits of online polling, recently fueled by the New York Times' decision to commission a large nationwide poll from another Internet pollster, YouGov. But while some hidebound institutions refuse to accept that the polling industry must change, innovators continue to forge ahead. Traditional phone polling is dying—getting people to answer phone calls from strangers is just getting harder and harder.

Online polling has its own challenges, but as this astute piece from Andrew Gelman and David Rothschild observes, phone pollsters have to address many of the same issues. As they say, it is time to embrace the future—and at Daily Kos, we'll always do so rigorously, and constantly analyze what works and what doesn't.

That's why we're working with Google. We've commissioned polling from them in the past, and you can expect to see more polls emerge from this collaboration this cycle. And it's worth noting that Pew Research, one of the most rigorous and trusted polling outfits in the nation, used Google Consumer Surveys to validate one another's data. It checked out.

And we'll know very soon how well this particular poll checks out, too. Roberts' 14-point advantage is actually one of the closest results any pollster has found of the race, but with Election Day upon us, it looks like time has run out for Wolf.

As we've seen in countless GOP primaries, the incumbent sports a very conservative voting record, but restless tea partiers are always deft at piling on new objections. In Roberts' case, those revolve around claims that he's abandoned his home state and gone Washington—claims that Roberts himself repeatedly helped stoke. Back in February, Roberts admitted that his only Kansas residence was a timeshare in a La-Z-Boy, then refused to say how many days he'd actually showed up in the Sunflower State before finally admitting he'd spent less than a third of his free time there.

More recently, Roberts slipped up in a radio interview and tellingly said he comes home "every time I get an opponent." But indeed he has this year, and he hasn't taken Wolf lightly. Roberts has lacerated Wolf with attack ads, focusing on a particularly ghoulish pattern of behavior where Wolf, a physician, posted patients' X-rays on Facebook and made offensive comments about them. That led to the Kansas medical ethics board opening an investigation into Wolf, just weeks before the primary.

And in the end, that's how these kinds of challenges often go: An unproven, first-time candidate (Wolf's greatest claim to fame was that he's a distant cousin of Barack Obama) demonstrates that he's his own worst enemy and fails to gain traction. Indeed, the tea party establishment groups that love to punish crusty old incumbents like Roberts all but spurned Wolf, and as this new poll shows, he'll likely go down to defeat. But he has inflicted a few wounds, and if nothing else, he forced Roberts to show up in the one place he never seems to go: Kansas.

1:40 PM PT: IL-Gov: Here's the thing about really rich guys: Odds are, they've done a thing or two along the way to becoming really rich that ordinary folks probably wouldn't approve of. Balzac may have been exaggerating when he said that behind every great fortune lies a great crime, but a little offshore tax evasion, the likes of which little people would never be able to take advantage of? You bet!

And billionaire venture capitalist Bruce Rauner, the Republican nominee for governor in Illinois, has turned out to be no different than the Mitt Romneys of the world. According to a new report in the Chicago Sun-Times, Rauner's stashed some unknown part of his fortune in the Cayman Islands, where their zeal for secrecy is matched only by their aversion to income taxes (they have none).

Of course, Rauner's refused to release his tax returns, so it's impossible to know just how much offshore money he's got parked in the Caribbean. Rauner, as these zillionaires always do, swears that everything is above board, but as ever, the crime is what's legal. And compliance with the letter of the law is hardly insulation against devastating political attacks. Remember this?

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who's been well behind in the polls and could really use a break, has already issued a couple of press releases slamming Rauner, and attack ads can't be far behind. After all, Rauner wants to become governor of a state whose taxes he tried to avoid paying. For 99 percent of us, that's no winning message.

2:04 PM PT: ME-Gov: A new poll from the Maine People's Resource Center shows Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud's lead over GOP Gov. Paul LePage narrowing to just 43-41, though the good news is that independent attorney Eliot Cutler's support has shrunk down to 13 percent. MPRC hasn't been in the field for quite some time, but last September, they found Michaud up 40-34, with Cutler at 17.

Note also that this is the first poll ever to feature LePage breaking 40 percent. LePage has done absolutely nothing in his four years as governor to reach out beyond the 38 percent of the electorate that supported him in 2010, so this may very well be a somewhat optimistic read for him. However, Michaud's have never been very large thanks to Cutler's presence on the ballot, so this will be a close race no matter what, even if LePage is bumping up against a hard ceiling.

2:35 PM PT: MS-Sen: You can read this basic story about Chris McDaniel's legal challenge to June's GOP Senate runoff in Mississippi, but you might as well skip straight to Rick Hasen's explanation of why it'll fail. A key concept Hasen invokes is "laches," a fancy lawyer term for "unreasonable delay." Definitely not enough discussion of laches around these parts.

2:44 PM PT: KY-Sen: Though Republicans have, predictably, tried to portray Democrat Alison Grimes as a corporal in the alleged libruhl "war on coal," she just secured the endorsement of the United Mine Workers of America in her attempt to knock off GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell. However, unlike the coal barons who sit atop the industry, the UMWA has seldom been friendly to Republicans: They also backed McConnell's Democratic opponent in 2008, Bruce Lunsford, and typically support the blue team.

3:08 PM PT (Jeff Singer): Ads and independent expenditures:

AK-Sen: The League of Conservation Voters spends a hefty $760,000 for Democratic Sen. Mark Begich. American Salmon PAC lays out another $380,000 for Begich, while Put Alaska First drops another $512,000 against Republican former state Attorney General Dan Sullivan. The Alaska First buy likely includes their recent spot against Sullivan.

AR-Sen: Republican Rep. Tom Cotton attacks Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor on the border crisis. The narrator states that "it's time to retire Pryor," which I guess is mildly funny the first time you hear it.

KY-Sen: Senate Majority PAC goes after Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell over Kentucky's poor job performance during his time in office. The spot is part of a new $315,000 buy.

HI-Sen: The League of Conservation Voters praises Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz on expanding state National Parks. Meanwhile EMILY's List spends a combined $117,000 for primary rival Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.

IA-Sen: Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst once again emphasizes her local roots.

OR-Sen: Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley ties Republican rival Monica Wehby to the Koch brothers.

AZ-Gov: Three of the four major Republican candidates have a new spot out. Former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith stresses his accomplishments. State Treasurer Doug Ducey's spot stars Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Corporate lawyer Christine Jones talks about how her background in forensic accounting will help "it" get done. It's not clear from the spot if "it" means border security or economic growth. The candidate without a new ad is Secretary of State Ken Bennett.

CT-Gov: Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy highlights the tough decisions he's made. Malloy's main Republican rival Tom Foley talks about his proposed "new direction".

ME-Gov: Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud outlines his biography.

OH-Gov: Democratic Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald talks about fighting corruption and about job creation.

RI-Gov: Democratic former Obama Administration official Clay Pell again talks infrastructure.

AZ-01: Hometown Freedom Action Network spends $75,000 on behalf of local idiot Adam Kwasman, who also moonlights as a Republican state representative.  

CO-06: Democratic former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff talks about his record of balancing the budget.  

MI-04: Republican businessman Paul Mitchell has one last spot ahead of the August 5 primary, with a woman touting how his business has helped people like her. Meanwhile Campaign for Jobs and Opportunity spends a combined $89,000 for primary rival state Sen. John Moolenar.

MN-08: The AFL-CIO and House Majority PAC spend a combined $140,000 against Republican rich guy Stewart Mills, likely as part of their recent ad campaign against him.

NH-02: A craft brewer talks about how Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster is helping small businesses. Update: The size of the buy is a tiny $16,000 on WMUR-TV, though it's also airing on cable.

TN-03: Character Counts spends $85,000 for Republican venture capitalist Weston Wamp ahead of the August 7 primary.

3:11 PM PT: AK-Sen: Could Democrats potentially catch a big break up in the Last Frontier? While former state Natural Resources Director Dan Sullivan has generally held decent leads on Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell in the GOP primary, a couple of local polls have shown the race closer. That includes a month-old poll from Hellenthal & Associates we hadn't previously seen, which put Sullivan up just 35-31, with 2010 nominee Joe Miller at 21.

But in the absence of more recent, clear-cut empirical confirmation, here's another tea leaf: Sullivan is sending out mailers attacking Treadwell for serving on the board of a company that once accepted stimulus money, which might be the most tainted cash in economic history, according to conservative voters. Sullivan is the runaway establishment favorite and is a far better fundraiser than the other Republicans, so if somehow Treadwell could pull off the upset, Democratic Sen. Mark Begich would have to be pleased.

3:19 PM PT: NRCC: Has the real campaign season finally begun? The National Republican Congressional Committee just filed its first independent expenditure report since the March special election in Florida's 13th District, but it may just be a tease. The filing includes payments for polls and unspecified "media" in 10 different seats (AZ-01, AZ-02, CA-21, CA-52, CO-06, FL-02, GA-12, IL-12, NY-19, WV-03), but the "media" buys are all for exactly $2,500 apiece, which is too low and too uniform to represent TV ad production costs. Last cycle, the NRCC's first real report came on Aug. 17, so that's still a couple of weeks off, but then again, things keep getting earlier and earlier.

3:35 PM PT: NY-24: A new Public Opinion Strategies poll for Republican John Katko finds Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei with a soft 45-40 lead on his challenger. Katko only has 36 percent name recognition, so it's not a positive sign for Maffei that, as an incumbent, he's sitting at just 45 percent.

But that's if this poll's accurate. GOP pollsters have been having an awful cycle, and POS's numbers here may just be too bearish. New York's 24th went for Obama by a 57-41 margin, but POS says that voters there now disapprove of the president by an almost inverse spread, 41-56. Nationwide, Obama's approvals stand at an average of 43-53, or around 14 points worse than his margin of victory in 2012. If POS is right, that would mean that voters in the 24th have soured on Obama at twice the rate of the country as a whole. It's not impossible, but it's a red flag that something may be off.

3:56 PM PT: CO Ballot: Ugh. After spearheading an effort to put two measures on the ballot to curtail fracking in Colorado, wealthy Democratic Rep. Jared Polis has pulled the plug at the last second. Local organizers had gathered over 200,000 signatures and were set to submit them on Monday, but Polis negotiated some weaksauce arrangement with Gov. John Hickenlooper, a fellow Democrat who had opposed the measures. Polis, the movement's chief financial backer, earned a few sops in exchange for declining to file his petitions, but this lame deal doesn't even include an agreement by the energy industry to drop two pro-fracking measures that were already on the ballot.

So what gives? Well, it's easy to say that Hickenlooper and Sen. Mark Udall, another Democrat, were unhappy with Polis' anti-fracking activism—both had already come out against the measures—so if you want to be charitable, you could call Polis some kind of team player (albeit on the industry-friendly side). But FOX31, citing unnamed sources, reports that the League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club also wanted Polis to back down. Perhaps they feared a loss, but some internal polling from May indicated that both measures would pass by wide margins.

There's another angle here, though, one that The Hill explores: Polis, thanks to his wealth, connections, and ambitious nature, has long been interested in serving as the next chair of the DCCC, something he's acknowledged openly. Nameless insiders had recently savaged Polis in the pages of Politico, so standing down now allows him to demonstrate he's a go-along, get-along kind of guy who won't be too hostile to big business. This is all very sad and pathetic, but this is the way we live now.

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