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 »
The national polls, once again, tell very different stories: Clinton leads by just one point in the IBD, Rasmussen, and LA Times tracking polls, while she shows a commanding 12 point lead in the ABC news poll and a smaller but sizable five point lead in the CNN poll. The Republican Remington Research Group released a slew of polls showing Trump up in Ohio, Nevada, and North Carolina, a tie in Florida, and Clinton leads in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Virginia. However, an independent Siena poll shows Clinton up 7 in North Carolina, while a Monmouth poll shows Trump up one in Arizona
If you need a marker for how confident Hillary Clinton is at this point of the race, here's one: CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports "she's been talking to Republican senators, old allies and new, saying that she is willing to work with them and govern."
Sources tell CNN that longtime Democratic operative Ron Klain, who has been Vice President Biden's chief of staff, is "high on the list of prospects" to be chief of staff in a Clinton White House. "John Podesta, the campaign chairman, has signaled his interest in joining the Cabinet, perhaps as Energy secretary."