Top of the ballot

As national Democrats feared, former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff defeated Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) in Tuesday’s precinct caucuses in Colorado. But it may not be the only setback for the political establishment; former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton also trailed narrowly in the GOP primary with insurgent candidate Ken Buck. The caucus straw polls have long been an activist-driven event, and they shouldn’t be overestimated as far as their effect on what happens in the primaries. But Romanoff now has two things he can point to – his 51-42 caucus win and a poll this week showing him trailing just 40-34 in the primary – to show donors that he is a serious candidate. If he can turn those two things into campaign funds, he’s got a good shot at beating an appointee with an untested political track record and so-so numbers. The showing wasn't resounding for either side, but it does reinforce that this race has potential. Norton’s showing was a little less surprising, given that Buck has been beating her in straw polls around the state and had locked up the support of several Tea Party groups. But it still proves that Buck will be a nuisance for her going forward. Like Romanoff, he needs to raise more money.

McMahon up, but GOP still down big

Republicans still have a lot of work to do in the general election, but the primary in Connecticut is starting to take shape. A Quinnipiac poll this morning shows former WWE CEO Linda McMahon taking a 44-34 lead over former Rep. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.) in the primary, after Simmons led by 10 in January. Over that span, the number of undecided voters has dropped from 38 percent to 22 percent. Meanwhile, state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal still holds a 30-plus point lead over both in the general election, taking more than 60 percent against McMahon and Simmons. His approval rating is a sterling 79 percent. Republicans need to spend a few months taking Blumenthal down a peg (or five) if they want to have a shot here; right now, their own pitched primary is preventing them from doing that.

Kirkpatrick to vote ‘yes’ again

Continuing to update you on the vulnerables and their health care votes: Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) said Tuesday that she will remain a ‘yes’ vote. Kirkpatrick faces dentist Paul Gosar in a second-tier GOP target district. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), who isn’t really vulnerable outside of a possible primary, will announce his intentions this morning at 10 a.m. eastern time.

The post was updated at 9:30 a.m. to reflect the unsettled nature of the Norton-Buck race.

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