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Ballotpedia AG Race Tracker - Toss-ups down to 3, GOP likely to pick up AZ, GA, KS, and OH

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October 1, 2010

2010 AG Elections
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General Election Results

By Joseph Kastner

In Ballotpedia's coverage of the 2010 State Attorney General elections, this is our second race-tracking prediction of predicted outcomes.

Out of the 30 State Attorney General positions up for election this year, four are guaranteed at this point in time to remain with the political party that currently occupies it; this is down from six as stated in the last report published in September. Two Democratic AGs (in Delaware and Maryland) and two Republican AGs (in Idaho and Nebraska) remain as incumbents who face no major party competition this November.

The two contests that have been dropped from the safe category both belong to the Democratic PartyArkansas and Massachusetts. Dustin McDaniel, Democratic incumbent from Arkansas, will face off against Green Party candidate Rebekah Kennedy and Marc Rosson, who is campaigning as a conservative write-in challenger. Nothing McDaniel likely can’t fend off, though.

Here is a breakdown of which states have been placed in the five other categories. (R and D and indicate party of current officeholder.)

Altogether, 13 races are in the Lean-Safe Democratic category and 14 races are in the Lean-Safe Republican category. Without factoring in the three toss-up contests, the Republican Party appears likely to pick up at the very least four seats from the Democrats in November.

California, Massachusetts New Mexico, New York, Ohio

The state AG races in California, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, and Ohio merit attention heading into the final month of the 2010 election cycle.

California:

As reported in the last Ballotpedia Race Tracker report, the contest between Republican Steve Cooley, the former District Attorney of Los Angeles, and Democratic San Francisco D.A. Kamala Harris was a tight one with poll numbers suggesting Cooley had a slight advantage over his opponent; very little has changed in a month’s time.

[[File:Cooley small.jpg|thumb|Steve Cooley, the Republican nominee in the California race represents one of the possible GOP pick ups in the AG sweepstakes of 2010

The latest ‘Field Research’ poll conducted in mid-September shows that Cooley ever so slowly has inched up his lead over Harris to four percentage points.[1] And while the number of undecided likely voters increased from twenty-nine percent to thirty-four percent, this can likely be attributed to the two hundred person difference in the number of individuals surveyed in the two polls. What can be deciphered from the results is that among voters who intend to mail in their ballots in advance of November 2, Cooley holds a solid ten percentage point advantage; Harris, on the other hand, maintains a very slim one percentage point lead with precinct voters.

Party turn-out on Election Day, particularly for “top of the ticket” races such as the gubernatorial contest between Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman as well as the U.S. Senate match-up between Carla Fiorina and Barbara Boxer may be the deciding factor as to who ultimately wins the attorney general seat; both are near dead heats. Support among two high-profile state ballot measures could also play a significant role. Though both candidates have come out against Proposition 19, which would legalize various marijuana-related activities, allow local governments to regulate these activities, permit local governments to impose and collect marijuana-related fees and taxes, and authorize various criminal and civil penalties, it seems as though supporters this measure would be more inclined to vote Democratic. On the other hand, Proposition 23, which would suspend AB 32 "until the state's unemployment rate drops significantly for a year-long period," could lend tremendous weight toward Cooley, though the Republican candidate has not taken an official stance on it; Harris, however, has actively opposed it.[2] The latest polling data that a near majority back Proposition 19, but support for Proposition 23 is behind by double-digits.[3]

Massachusetts:

Less then a month ago, failed senatorial candidate Martha Coakley appeared poised for a second term as Massachusetts Attorney General. The State Republican Party had failed to name a candidate by the May 4th signature deadline to run against her, this in spite of Coakley’s political vulnerability following her surprising loss to Scott Brown last January. But then a Millsbury attorney names James P. McKenna launched a write-in campaign that required 10,000 votes be cast for him in the state's September 14th primary if his name were to appear on the general election ballot.[4] Quite surprisingly, McKenna received 27,711 write-in votes, nearly three times the number he needed.[5]

While McKenna certainly has momentum on his side with only five weeks left until the general election, he lags far behind in terms of financial contributions; the latest reports from the Massachusetts Office of Political and Campaign Finance shows Coakley ahead with over fifty-grand to McKenna’s four-thousand dollars. Although his chances at pulling off an upset against Coakley appear slim, they are not at all impossible. The State Democratic Party certainly gives off the feeling as if they perceive him as a serious threat, particularly when they file a complaint against him for supposedly violating state campaign finance laws, an issue he has since resolved.[6]

New Mexico:

A second term in office for Gary King is all but guaranteed. That pretty much sums up the situation in New Mexico after examining the results from the two surveys – one from Lake Research Partners and the other from the Albuquerque Journal – both of which put Matthew Chandler, District Attorney of the Ninth Judicial District of New Mexico and King’s Republican challenger, behind by nearly twenty percentage points. This seems quite remarkable given the atmosphere of corruption that has plagued the AG’s office lately, but it appears as though voters in the state are simply choosing to look the other way. Polling data suggests that name recognition is a serious issue, as only seventeen percent of those surveyed knew who the young D.A. was as opposed to King, with whom 2/3 of voters interviewed were familiar with.

New York:

In spite of being in the local spotlight far more than his Republican opponent due to the hotly contested five-way Democratic primary, State Senator Eric Schneiderman finds himself with only a slim one percentage point advantage over Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan in the race for State Attorney General according to a survey from Quinnipiac University.[7] Perhaps a bit more troubling for the Democratic nominee is that his Republican challenger leads 33% to 25% among independent state voters. With five weeks until the general election, the fight between the two major party candidates has already become quite bitter and it isn’t likely to let up.[8][9]

Ohio:

With rumors suggesting that the situation in Ohio is so grim that national Democratic campaign committees are weighing their options in terms of committee, the state attorney general race, along with all other statewide contests, appears locked.[10] And while the latest poll from Survey USA shows that Democratic incumbent Richard Cordray appears to have tightened the gap with his Republican opponent, Mike DeWine still maintains a seven percentage point advantage with only four percent of likely voters interviewed still undecided.[11]

Background

Thirty attorney general elections are scheduled for November 2, 2010. Of the 30 seats up for election, 20 are currently held by a Democrat and 10 by a Republican.

In three of the seats up for election, the incumbent cannot run again because of term limits. Of the three incumbent but limited-out attorneys general, two are Democrats and one is Republican:

Several incumbent attorneys general have chosen not to run for re-election, in most cases because they are running for a different office. As of mid-April 2010, it is known that seven incumbent attorneys general who could run again (five are Democrats and two are Republicans) are voluntarily choosing not to seek re-election.

At this point in the 2010 election cycle, all signature-filling deadlines in each of the respective 30 states with attorney general elections have lapsed. There remain five states who still have yet to hold a primary election; these states include Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin.

For each of the 30 State Attorney General races in 2010, I have placed the expected outcome in one of 7 classifications. The 7 classifications are Safe Democrat, Likely Democrat, Leans Democrat, Toss-up, Leans Republican, Likely Republican and Safe Republican. These are the standard 7 classifications typically used by organizations such as Congressional Quarterly when assessing the likely outcomes of races for U.S. Congress and governor.

For the methodology of this racetracking analysis, see State Attorneys General/Election Racetracking
Month Safe D Likely D Lean D Tossup Lean R Likely R Safe R
September 2 7 4 3 7 5 2

Joe Kastner does the race-tracking analysis for State Attorney General elections, and for the 2010 Secretary of State elections. E-mail him (kastner.joseph@gmail.com) with any questions or concerns.

References