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10:51 AM PT: IA-Sen: Woe to Republican establishmentarians who wish to stop the mighty gale that is Steve King! So says PPP, who finds the ultraconservative congressman beating fellow Rep. Tom Latham every which way from Sunday in various hypothetical GOP primary matchups:

We tested three different iterations of the GOP candidate field for next year, and King leads by at least 19 points in each one of them. In a four candidate scenario he gets 41% to 22% for Tom Latham, 10% for Kim Reynolds, and 9% for Bob Vander Plaats. In a three candidate field that doesn't include Reynolds he gets 42% to 23% for Latham and 19% for Vander Plaats. And in a head to head with Latham he leads 50/27.
This is the second poll in a row showing King with clear leads no matter the scenario; We Ask America released similar results just a day earlier. And another conservative pollster, Wenzel Strategies, agrees as well: In an eight-car pileup, King strides atop with 34 percent, versus 19 for Latham, 10 for Reynolds, 9 for Vander Plaats and basically bupkes for a whole bunch of Yugos crushed together at the bottom.

The general election news is also good for Democrats, particularly in light of the above:

The problem for Republicans is that King would start out at a significant disadvantage in a general election. The most likely Democratic candidate, Bruce Braley, would start out 11 points ahead of King at 49/38. The three other Democrats we looked at lead King by substantial margins as well- Tom Vilsack would lead King 49/39, Chet Culver would lead 48/41, and Dave Loebsack would lead 47/40.

We tested 16 different possible general election match ups for the Senate- Braley, Vilsack, Culver, and Loebsack on the Democratic side against King, Latham, Reynolds, and Vander Plaats on the Republican side. The Democratic candidate leads in 14 of the 16 possible match ups, with the only exceptions being leads for Latham over Culver and Loebsack.

Sixteen matchups! I'm not going to reconstruct Tom Jensen's kitchen sink (you'll have to dive into his PDF for that), but the most salient additional matchup is Braley beating Latham 44-41. That's a lot closer that the 49-38 edge Braley holds over King, which shows you just how dangerous Steve King is to the GOP. But King is a beast of their own creation, which is why the likes of Karl Rove are trying to drive a stake in this monster's heart. I really don't know that they'll be successful: It might be better, in fact, to compare the movement King represents to a zombie rather than a vampire—try to kill it and it'll just rise from the dead once again.

P.S. Latham has finally acknowledged he's interested in the race, and of course he professes to be unworried about a primary against King. You know what, yegg? I believe you!

12:26 PM PT: NY-19: Damn that was quick! Investor and activist Sean Eldridge has filed paperwork with the FEC to establish a campaign committee for the purposes of challenging GOP Rep. Chris Gibson next year. Just last week, a report emerged that Eldridge, the husband of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, was contemplating the race, so it's good to see him moving ahead. However, this is just a formal step toward running, and Eldridge hasn't made any public comments yet, so he may be in more of an "exploratory" mode. Hopefully we'll learn more soon.

1:01 PM PT: IL-02: Well, well, well. This is why, if you have damaging documents in your possession you should get that material out there first, and on your own terms, rather than letting the media discover it and bang you for it. As you may know, state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, who is running in the IL-02 special Democratic primary, has in the past earned "A" ratings from the NRA—grades she's now eager to run away from, seeing as gun violence has become issue no. 1 in this urban district. But how did she score such high marks in the first place?

Like most candidates who lack long legislative records, she filled out the NRA's questionnaire... and told the group what they wanted to hear. Only, in this primary, she didn't want voters to hear the same message, which is why ex-state Rep. Robin Kelly has insisted Hutchinson (and ex-Rep. Debbie Halvorson, who also has "A"s from the NRA) to release those questionnaires. Hutchinson refused, but the Chicago Tribune got a hold of it anyway—something, as I say, Hutchinson should have anticipated and defused beforehand. But sorry, too late:

Though Hutchinson said she has "definitely moderated" her positions against gun control, her newfound positions represent a vast change in thought from her answers in a 2010 NRA candidate questionnaire obtained by the Tribune.

The questionnaire shows Hutchinson was asked if she would support "state legislation restricting the private possession, ownership, purchase, sale and/or transfer of any semi-automatic firearms." She responded, "No, I would oppose such legislation." The question also included the issue of large-capacity ammunition magazines.

Additionally, when asked by the NRA if Hutchinson would support "legislation making it a crime to fail to report the loss or theft of a firearm," she replied: "No, I would oppose such legislation because it has no demonstrated affect on crime and creates an unwarranted legal presumption that gun owners should answer to the police for their own victimization or misfortune."

Wow. Nothing says "classic insincere politician" like expediently flip-flopping and then trying to cover it up. Hutchinson seems genuinely confused, though, as to why she should have to answer for her past views and why she's not getting a free pass to change them at will:
Hutchinson maintained that Kelly was running "a single-issue campaign" and trying to score "more political points" marketing the state senator's gun-rights positions "as though they're the positions that I have right now. And, I'm saying very clearly I'm moderating my positions."
It's amazing how delusional some office-seekers can be. Does Toi Hutchinson think she can just shake the Etch A Sketch and start over?

1:35 PM PT: MA-Sen: It looks like the GOP may indeed have found someone to run in Scott Brown's seat for the Massachusetts Senate special election: state Rep. Dan Winslow, who says he is "99 percent" certain that he'll make a bid. But he really has precious little time left. As Nathan Gonzales points out, Winslow (or any other Republican) only has until Feb. 27 to collect signatures from 10,000 registered GOP or independent voters in order to get on the ballot. But as Nathan explains, it's actually much more complicated than that. While Democrats can concentrate on voters in Boston and a few other larger cities, Republicans have a much tougher task:

Since they have to get either registered Republicans or independent voters, GOP candidates must cast a wider net to smaller cities and towns outside the population hubs. That starts a carousel around the state of gathering signatures, submitting to local election officials (who can often have irregular office hours), waiting for local election officials to certify the signatures by March 4, go back to each city and town to get the papers and deliver them back to Boston by March 6.
Sounds pretty brutal. Indeed, Nathan reminds us of Jim Ogonowski, who ran a creditable race in the 2007 special in MA-05, then tried to run against John Kerry for Senate in 2008. But he failed to submit a sufficient number of signatures, something that could well befall Massachusetts Republicans once more.

2:05 PM PT: Demographics: It came out a few weeks ago, but it's still very interesting: The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) has released the results of a huge multilingual exit poll it conducted for last November's presidential election, gathering data on over 9,000 Asian American voters. The large sample size allowed AALDEF to break down voting patterns by country of origin, which shows you that lumping all "Asian" voters together can obscure how diverse this group is. Here's the real meat:

In the Presidential Election, three-quarters (77%) of Asian Americans polled voted for Barack Obama for President and 21% voted for Mitt Romney. Support for each candidate varied by ethnic group, with a high of 54% of Vietnamese Americans voting for Romney, compared to 3% of Bangladeshi Americans.

The percentage of Asian Americans who voted for Obama by ethnic group are as follows (from highest to lowest): Bangladeshi American (96%); Pakistani American (91%); Indian American (84%); Chinese American (81%); Korean American (78%); Filipino American (65%); and Vietnamese American (44%).

The demographic breakdowns are interesting as well:
The largest Asian ethnic groups in the exit poll were Chinese (31%), Asian Indian (13%), Bangladeshi (12%), Vietnamese (12%), Korean (11%), Filipino (9%), Pakistani (3%), Arab (2%), Indo-Caribbean (1%), and Cambodian (1%).
There's much more detail at the link, but Indian American (and Daily Kos writer) Arjun Jaikumar sums it up nicely:
Poll: Bangladeshi Americans voted 96% for Obama, Pakistanis 91%, Indians 84%. THAT'S what BROWN can do for you. http://t.co/...
@ArjunJaikumar via web

2:55 PM PT: Dark Money: Heh. The blowback to Karl Rove's new plan to thwart lunatic conservatives in Republican primaries has been predictably instant. Republican ex-Rep. Joe Walsh says he plans to create a Super PAC that will "support freedom-loving conservative alternatives" to Rove's preferred candidates. It remains to be seen whether Walsh can actually raise any money (or even follows through on his plans at all), but something about his particularly angry brand of crazy seems to appeal to certain right-wing moneybags: Outside groups spent over $6 million on his behalf last year, even though he lost by 10 points in a pretty hopeless race against Tammy Duckworth. Let's hope he can recreate the magic!

3:15 PM PT: NJ-Gov: The good news is that Democrat Barbara Buono has now qualified for matching funds under New Jersey law, which entitle her to received $2 from the state for every $1 she raises. The bad news is that the threshold amount you need to raise on your own in order to start receiving such funds is only $380,000—and Buono's campaign isn't even saying how much she's taken in so far, leaving me to conclude it isn't a whole lot more than that. GOP Gov. Chris Christie, meanwhile, has already raised more than $2 million.

3:35 PM PT: MT-Sen: Not only is this a big buy by Montana standards, but it's damn early, too: A new mystery group called the Stronger Montana Fund (which describes itself as an "issue advocacy organization") is running ads on behalf of Dem Sen. Max Baucus, who is up for re-election next year. The spot, reportedly backed by a $275,000 buy, praises Baucus for "protect[ing] family farmers and ranchers from the estate tax." Sigh, sad to see Democratic interest groups buying into right-wing framing about the estate tax, but no progressive was ever going to love this campaign.

Also, as to the extremely early start, I wonder if this is an attempt to push up Baucus's numbers in the off-year, much like the DSCC tried to do unsuccessfully for Ben Nelson in Nebraska last cycle and Chris Dodd in Connecticut the cycle before that. Baucus hasn't given any indication that he'd like to retire, but his poll ratings took a bad hit thanks to the fact that he foolishly dragged out negotiations over the Affordable Care Act several years ago and he may want to see what kind of shape he can get into before formally committing to another run.

4:58 PM PT: The Hotline's Steve Shepard absolutely ripped Wenzel's abysmal 2012 track record.

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