Let's start with the good news, at least from a purely partisan perspective: Republican Mark Sanford appears to be riding a wave of momentum heading into tomorrow's special election in South Carolina's first Congressional District, reversing his fortunes over the last two weeks. Via Democratic pollster PPP:
PPP's final poll of the special election in South Carolina's 1st Congressional District finds a race that's too close to call, with Republican Mark Sanford leading Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch 47-46. The 1 point lead for Sanford represents a 10 point reversal from PPP's poll of the race two weeks ago, when Colbert Busch led by 9 points at 50-41...A plurality of voters in the district- 47%- say they think Colbert Busch is a liberal compared to 43% who characterize her as ideologically 'about right.' Colbert Busch's favorability rating has dropped a net 19 points compared to 2 weeks ago, from +25 then at 56/31 to +6 now at 50/44.
Despite being cut loose by national Republicans, Team Sanford nationalized the race, essentially arguing that a vote for Colbert-Busch is a vote for the Obama/Pelosi agenda (see: the cardboard cut-out). This is a valid attack. Though Colbert-Busch is talking a decent game these days -- when she's talking at all, that is -- there's ample reason to suspect that she'd be a reliable partisan Democrat in the House of Representatives. So Sanford's got a real shot at winning this thing. The bad news is self-evident. It's still Mark Sanford, his favorability ratings are underwater by double-digits, and the race is tied in a district that Mitt Romney carried by 18 points seven months ago. Jump ball going into tomorrow. Will the district's voters prioritize national policy, or focus on Sanford's awful and erratic personal conduct? And with that, let's take a spin around the three other major electoral races of 2013:
Cuccinelli vs. McAuliffe (Virginia Governor) - Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has opened up a slight lead over Democrat Terry McAuliffe, according to a new Washington Post poll. The presumptive GOP nominee leads by five points overall, and holds a ten-point edge among those who are certain to vote. McAuliffe continues to be dogged by stories about his failed business dealings, and has served up a pile of opposition research on himself, courtesy of his autobiography. We've already highlighted his unseemly behavior during the birth of three of his children; why not try his reaction to 9/11 on for size?
"If not for September 11, Bush would have been gone politically. His approval ratings were sinking and his policies were hurting the country and the American people. He had nothing going for him after the attacks we knew he was going to get a huge bounce and it soon became clear that the press would come to see its role as making him look good and downplaying any criticism of his administration's fixation on being fast and loose with the facts. I was one of our party's most visible spokesmen and I had to keep a low profile after the attacks. I was like a caged rat. I couldn't travel. I couldn't make political calls. I couldn't make money calls. I couldn't do anything. I went to my office and worked with my staff to prepare for when we could finally come back out again that made me feel a little better, but basically there was nothing for us to do in the immediate aftermath."
The nation had just suffered the worst terrorist attack in its history, and Terry's big take-away was frustration over his inability to conduct overtly political fundraising. But hey, he's just your average Virginian. The Virginia GOP is also rolling out a new tagline against McAuliffe, noting that the Democrat "won't release his taxes, but he will raise yours." Question: Did McAuliffe narrate his own audio book? Oh, he sure did:
Christie vs. Buono (New Jersey Governor) - Christie's still enjoying extremely strong approval ratings and is winning big. That's old news. What people may not know is what an impotent mess Democrat Barbara Buono's campaign is. The Star-Ledger reports that she's on the brink of making history:
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono’s campaign war chest is so skimpy she may not generate enough contributions to secure all of her public matching funds for the primary or general election. State election finance records show that if the senator from Middlesex County wants to get the maximum public matching funds before the June 4 primary, she would need to raise about $250,000 a week, or about eight times her current $30,000-a-week clip...Buono is on pace to become the first major party nominee in state history who fails to raise enough money in the primary to qualify for maximum public financing.
Click through to read details of a shady power play her friends in the state assembly pulled to try to drag her over the fundraising finish line.
Gomez vs. Markey (Massachusetts Senate) - The Sanford race isn't the only special election on our radar screen. Former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez is challenging career politician Ed Markey to fill Secretary of State John Kerry's vacated US Senate seat. Early polling is surprisingly tight, given the state's lefty politics. Gomez will never be mistaken for a hard-line conservative, but he's several leaps to the right of Markey -- a leading carbon tax crusader. Markey's first attack ad of the cycle raised eyebrows for juxtaposing a photo of the Republican nominee with one of Osama bin Laden (here's why OBL is an issue in the campaign). Gomez has opened with a much more positive message:
Massachusetts voters go to the polls on June 25.