• MO-Sen, Gov: PPP’s new poll of Missouri is interesting for a whole bunch of reasons. For starters, it finds Republican Sen. Roy Blunt with a startlingly poor 30-47 job approval rating, making the freshman one of the least popular senators in the country. That’s a remarkable finding given that the last time PPP poll here (almost three years ago), the generally inoffensive Blunt sported a 35-34 score, and earlier this year, a survey from Republican pollster Remington Research gave him a 39-31 favorability rating.
These numbers have translated into a similarly weak performance in the horserace, with Blunt leading his Democratic opponent, little-known Secretary of State Jason Kander, by just a 40-35 spread. That’s some serious weakness for an incumbent, particularly one who hasn’t made any mistakes. But Remington, by contrast, had Blunt ahead 49-36, so you have to ask, is PPP’s poll simply too good to be true?
It doesn’t appear that way. For starters, Barack Obama’s job approvals are a miserable 36-59, which is about what you’d expect in a place like Missouri. Even once-popular Gov. Jay Nixon, the term-limited Democratic incumbent, is now in the pits with a 36-48 score. And in the open gubernatorial race, all of the matchups between Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster and the entire Republican field make sense, too. Here’s how Koster stacks up:
37-40 vs. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder39-35 vs. state Sen. Bob Dixon
40-36 vs. former U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway
40-35 vs. former state Rep. Randy Asbury
41-36 vs. businessman John Brunner
40-34 vs. former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens
39-31 vs. Bart Korman
Kinder is the best-known candidate in the race, with positive 30-24 favorables despite his well-publicized travails. Koster, meanwhile, is know by about half the state and has a 24-23 rating. Otherwise, the rest of this bunch ranges from fairly obscure (Hanaway, 58 percent unknown) to utterly obscure (Korman, 80 percent unknown—and he doesn’t even seem to actually be running).If anything, these results are pretty good for Kinder, since he and Koster have similar room for growth, but given Missouri’s conservative nature, the remaining undecided voters should be more amenable to a Republican pitch….
• AR-Sen: So maybe this really is happening: Conner Eldridge, the youngest U.S. attorney in the nation, just announced that he’s stepping down from his post later this month, a move that would allow him to run against GOP Sen. John Boozman next year. There’d been some recent chatter that he might do so, and Eldridge isn’t disputing those reports, saying only, “I’ll start seriously thinking about what I’m going to do next the day after I leave.” (That’s also probably the only kind of comment he actually can offer, though, since U.S. attorneys are forbidden from engaging in politics.)
But will Eldridge actually go for it? As we’ve noted, this would be a very tough race for any Democrat, but the fact that Eldridge is quitting such a plum gig while he still has at least a year and a half left to go is suggestive. Maybe he’s just eager to strike it rich in the private sector, but maybe he really thinks he has a path to victory against Boozman. Hopefully he’ll tell us more soon.
• IA-Sen: The only way Democrats are going to pick up Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley’s seat is if (a) he gets summoned back to Vulcan for Pon Farr or (b) he retires. In a new PPP poll, Grassley leads a trio of little-known Democrats by more than 20 points apiece, and he’s over 50 in every matchup, so he’s going to stick around on planet Earth.
• KY-Sen: With Sen. Rand Paul’s presidential bid stinking like poo these days—a new Suffolk poll puts him in 10th place in Iowa—Kentucky Republicans are growing disenchanted with the idea of changing the party’s rules so that Paul can run for two offices at once. Kentucky law forbids such a thing, but Paul thinks he can get around that little problem if the GOP holds a presidential caucus that’s separate from the regularly scheduled May primary, when he wants to seek renomination as senator.
Months ago, a state party committee gave the go-ahead to precisely this plan, but lately, some power-brokers have been balking. Politico reports that Paul had promised to raise money to pay for the caucus (which would cost somewhere around half a million bucks, maybe more), but so far, he hasn’t ponied up.
Given Paul’s own fundraising problems, that’s no surprise, but if he can’t wrangle this special caucus, he either has to abandon the Senate or his presidential hopes. State Republicans will make up their minds in a meeting on Aug. 22; depending on what they decide, they might make up Rand’s mind for him.
• NC-Sen: Former state Rep. Deborah Ross, who served as House majority whip back when Democrats were in power, says she’s being recruited to run for Senate by the ever-mysterious “some people,” and she hasn’t said anything to disavow her interest in the idea. In fact, local reporter Tim Boyum says that, according to unnamed “media consultants,” Ross has already told the DSCC “she intends to run” against GOP Sen. Richard Burr. If true, that would be good news for Democrats, who currently lack a candidate, though ex-Rep. Heath Shuler is reportedly considering a bid and state Rep. Duane Hall has formed an exploratory committee….