Spotlight

Who’s Afraid of Steve Stockman?

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 14: U.S. Senate Minority Whip Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) walks through the Capitol Building on October 14, 2013 in Washington, DC. As Democratic and Republican leaders negotiate an end to the shutdown and a way to raise the debt limit, the White House postponed a planned Monday afternoon meeting with Boehner and other Congressional leaders. The government shutdown is currently in its 14th day. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
National Journal
Steven Shepard
See more stories about...
Steven Shepard
Jan. 10, 2014, 6:50 a.m.

It’s no secret that we haven’t con­sidered Rep. Steve Stock­man (R) to be a ser­i­ous threat to Sen. John Cornyn (R) in their March 4 Lone Star State Sen­ate primary. The reas­ons are as much struc­tur­al as they are Texas-spe­cif­ic: For all the ink spilled over con­gres­sion­al primar­ies (and Texas, spe­cific­ally, on A1 of the Wash­ing­ton Post this past Sunday), schol­ar­ship shows they aren’t more com­mon (or more suc­cess­ful) now than in re­cent dec­ades. And Stock­man doesn’t fit the pro­file of a suc­cess­ful chal­lenger.

— Re­cent de­vel­op­ments — an anti-Stock­man TV ad launched this week by a pro-Cornyn su­per PAC and a new TV ad out Fri­day from Cornyn’s camp — would seem to in­dic­ate that the in­cum­bent is tak­ing the threat more ser­i­ously. But with just 7 weeks un­til the primary, these moves seem more due di­li­gence than pan­ic but­ton. Team Cornyn has been pre­par­ing for a primary chal­lenger (one more cred­ible than Stock­man) for two years, as evid­enced by his nearly-$7 mil­lion bank ac­count at the end of the third quarter. And without a ser­i­ous Demo­crat in the race, not spend­ing in the primary would be mal­prac­tice.

— Clark Uni­versity pro­fess­or Robert Boat­right ex­amined the past 40 years of con­gres­sion­al primar­ies in his 2013 book “Get­ting Primar­ied: The Chan­ging Polit­ics of Con­gres­sion­al Primary Chal­lenges,” find­ing that they aren’t more com­mon now; their fre­quency waxes and wanes with over­all polit­ic­al po­lar­iz­a­tion. There’s more out­side money than ever boost­ing primary chal­lengers, but that cuts both ways: In­cum­bent-aligned su­per PACs are pop­ping up, too, like the Mc­Con­nell-back­ing Ken­tucki­ans for Strong Lead­er­ship and the Cornyn-aligned Tex­ans for a Con­ser­vat­ive Ma­jor­ity.

— Texas is just the first primary on the cal­en­dar in 2014. Hot­line seni­or Sen­ate ana­lyst Ju­lie So­bel took a look at the top Sen­ate primar­ies at the end of last year, rank­ing Sen. Thad Co­chran (R-MS) as the most vul­ner­able to los­ing re­nom­in­a­tion. Mis­sis­sippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) has the sup­port of key out­side groups (Stock­man does not). Bey­ond Mis­sis­sippi, which some auto­mated sur­veys show might be a coin-flip, the in­cum­bent is favored in each of the oth­er “com­pet­it­ive” Sen­ate primar­ies. (Wyom­ing has since dropped off the map al­to­geth­er.) We’d set the over/un­der on Sen­ate in­cum­bents los­ing re­nom­in­a­tion at 0.5.

We spend a lot of time on Sen­ate primar­ies, but few Sen­ate in­cum­bents ac­tu­ally end up los­ing. Just be­cause John Cornyn is step­ping up his cam­paign doesn’t mean he’s any closer to be­com­ing the next Dick Lugar or Bob Ben­nett.

What We're Following See More »
WILL APPEAR TOGETHER TOMORROW
As Expected, Clinton Goes with Kaine
18 hours ago
THE LATEST
SO MUCH FOR THE RATINGS BUMP
Convention Ratings Same as 2012
1 days ago
THE LATEST
8,000 DOCUMENTS
Wikileaks Releases Trove of DNC Docs
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

"Wikileaks published more than 8,000 documents purportedly taken from the Democratic National Committee Friday, just days before the start of the party's convention in Philadelphia. The documents included briefings on off-the-record fundraisers and candid photographs."

Source:
YES, WE KAINE?
Clinton Announcing VP Pick Today
1 days ago
THE LATEST

Hillary Clinton "is widely expected to announce her choice" of vice president "in an email to supporters while on a campaign swing in Florida on Friday afternoon." The consensus: it'll be Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, although Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are also said to be in the running.

Source:
EARLY BUMP FOR TRUMP?
New Round of Polls Show a Tight Race
1 days ago
THE LATEST
  • A Rasmussen Reports poll shows Donald Trump ahead of Hillary Clinton, 43%-42%, the fourth week in a row he's led the poll (one of the few poll in which he's led consistently of late).
  • A Reuters/Ipsos survey shows Clinton leading 40%-36%. In a four-way race, she maintains her four-point lead, 39%-35%, with Gary Johnson and Jill Stein pulling 7% and 3%, respectively.
  • And the LA Times/USC daily tracking poll shows a dead heat, with Trump ahead by about half a percentage point.
×