MN-03, NV-04, TX-23: A recent poll from Global Strategy Group for the DCCC argued that, regardless of whether Republican House candidates recently unendorsed Donald Trump or if they continue to stand by him, they were in real danger of losing critical votes. The DCCC is now up with ads in three House contests arguing that the Republican incumbents supported Trump for months when they should have denounced him long ago. Their ads are running against Erik Paulsen in Minnesota’s 3rd District, Cresent Hardy in Nevada’s 4th, and Will Hurd in Texas’ 23rd.
Paulsen, who represents an affluent seat in the Twin Cities suburbs, has been a particularly frustrating target for Team Blue. While Barack Obama carried the district just 50-49 in 2012, a recent independent poll from SurveyUSA showed Hillary Clinton dominating 48-35 there. However, the same poll gave Paulsen a huge 49-38 lead over Democrat Terri Bonoff; the D-Trip’s allies at House Majority PAC also recently cut their entire planned ad buy, another sign that Paulsen is doing well.
If the DCCC wants to win this seat, they’ll need far more anti-Trump voters to take their anger out on Paulsen, and their new ad encourages them to do just that. The narrator argues that Paulsen “has had plenty of time to speak up for Minnesota, and speak out about Donald Trump.” It then shows a clip of Paulsen declaring, “I plan on voting for the nominee.” The commercial proceeds to feature some of Trump’s worst clips: Trump is shown saying, “You take a look at her. She’s a slob,” “She ate like a pig,” and agreeing that “[t]here has to be some sort of punishment” for a woman who has an abortion. The narrator then reminds the audience that Paulsen has had 18 months to speak out, before the congressman is shown saying, “That shouldn’t be up to any of us to denounce presidential candidates.”
The D-Trip tries something similar in the other two races. In Texas, they show clips of Trump mocking disabled people, women, and POWs, and the narrator says that Hurd refused to disavow him, and even was open to major cuts to veterans’ care. In Nevada, they go with clips of Trump hypothesizing that “putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing,” and calling for Planned Parenthood to be defunded. The narrator argues that Hardy backed Trump and has similar policies, while Democrat Ruben Kihuen is the exact opposite. We haven’t seen any recent polls of either House contest.
• FL-Sen: In a largely unsurprising move, the DSCC has cancelled the last TV reservation it still had on the books for Rep. Patrick Murphy. The ad time, worth $2 million, was for the final week of the campaign. In total, the DSCC had planned to spend $10 million on Murphy’s behalf in the fall but wound up moving all of those funds elsewhere. Senate Majority PAC alsopulled out of the state weeks ago.
While Murphy suffered both from GOP Sen. Marco Rubio’s unexpected decision to run for re-election and a trumped up story claiming Murphy had lied about his resume, the real issue here was cost. Florida is an enormous, and enormously expensive, state, especially with the presidential contest competing for airtime. As a result, it made more senseto shift money earmarked for the Sunshine State to three other contests that became competitive late: Indiana, Missouri, and North Carolina—a three-for-one trade, in other words.
It’s not completely over for Murphy, since the occasional survey still keeps surfacing that shows him within striking distance (like Marist the other week and now Quinnipiac—see our Polls section below). The Daily Kos Elections polling average has Rubio ahead 46-40, but reportedly, Republican internals have the margin at half that size. Hillary Clinton’s lead also seems to keep growing in Florida, which at least offers some hope for Murphy to cling to. But what was once a promising tossup race is now most decidedly a serious long shot.
• MA-Sen: This is an actual quote from former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling on a 2018 U.S. Senate run against Democratic incumbent Elizabeth Warren:
“I’ve made my decision. I’m going to run. But—but—I haven’t talked to Shonda, my wife. And ultimately it’s going to come down to how her and I feel this would affect our marriage and our kids.”
As you can probably guess, Schilling, a Republican, isn’t exactly preparing a credible campaign in this dark blue state. Indeed, a September MassINC poll found Schilling losing to Warren 54-29, while a UMass Amherst poll from the same month had him down 47-28.
While Schilling is well-known for helping the Red Sox break their long World Series losing streak in 2004, his post-baseball career has not gone so well. In 2010, his video game company 38 Studios collapsed after receiving $75 million in taxpayer loans in Rhode Island, and Schilling stillrefuses to accept any responsibility for the debacle. Schilling is also a prominent supporter of Donald Trump, which is unlikely to be an asset.
• Polling Roundup: Here are the latest Senate and gubernatorial polls:
• AZ-Sen: SurveyMonkey: John McCain (R-inc): 48, Ann Kirkpatrick (D): 45 (44-41 Trump)
• CA-Sen: SurveyUSA: Kamala Harris (D): 45, Loretta Sanchez (D): 24 (56-30 Clinton) (Sept.: 40-29 Harris)
• FL-Sen: Quinnipiac: Marco Rubio (R-inc): 49, Patrick Murphy (D): 47 (48-44 Clinton) (Oct. 5: 48-44 Rubio)
• FL-Sen: SurveyMonkey: Rubio (R-inc): 51, Murphy (D): 45 (45-43 Trump)
• GA-Sen: SurveyMonkey: Johnny Isakson (R-inc): 50, Jim Barksdale (D): 46 (45-41 Clinton)
• NH-Sen: SurveyMonkey: Maggie Hassan (D): 47, Kelly Ayotte (R-inc): 42 (47-36 Clinton)
• NH-Gov: SurveyMonkey: Colin Van Ostern (D): 53, Chris Sununu (R): 43 (47-36 Clinton)
• NC-Sen: SurveyMonkey: Deborah Ross (D): 48, Richard Burr (R-inc): 42 (51-43 Clinton)
• NC-Gov: SurveyMonkey: Roy Cooper (D): 54, Pat McCrory (R-inc): 42 (51-43 Clinton)
• NV-Sen: Monmouth: Joe Heck (R): 45, Catherine Cortez Masto (D): 42 (47-40 Clinton) (Sept.: 46-43 Heck)
• NV-Sen: SurveyMonkey: Heck (R): 48, Cortez Masto (D): 47 (47-46 Clinton)
• PA-Sen: Quinnipiac: Pat Toomey (R-inc): 49, Katie McGinty (D): 45 (47-41 Clinton) (Oct. 5: 50-42 Toomey)
• PA-Sen: SurveyMonkey: Toomey (R-inc): 47, McGinty (D): 47 (46-40 Clinton)
• WI-Sen: St. Norbert College: Russ Feingold (D): 52, Ron Johnson (R-inc): 40 (47-39 Clinton) (April: 51-41 Feingold)
• WI-Sen: SurveyMonkey: Feingold (D): 51, Johnson (R-inc): 46 (43-38 Clinton)
We have a ton of new polls to feast upon thanks to SurveyMonkey, but many of their results contain some truly funky numbers in a few states that are out of line with the Daily Kos Elections polling averages. They find Democrats doing much better up and down the ballot than other pollsters have in Georgia, New Hampshire, and North Carolina, while they also give Arizona Sen. John McCain one of his lowest recent leads at just 48-45. Note that the presidential numbers for Nevada and North Carolina exclude minor parties, since SurveyMonkey unfortunately included Jill Stein in those polls, even though she isn’t on the ballot in those two states. (The rest all reflect four-way matchups.)
SurveyUSA gives us another infrequent look at the California Senate race, and Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris maintains a wide 45-24 lead on Rep. Loretta Sanchez, a fellow Democrat. Sanchez has thus far tried and failed to cobble together a winning coalition consisting of Republicans and more moderate Democrats, since Harris even leads with self-identified Republicans and conservatives.
Quinnipiac also published a couple of new surveys that show vulnerable Republican incumbents narrowly ahead in Florida and Pennsylvania, outrunning Trump by several points each. However, they paradoxically show Democrats with a better shot in Florida than in Pennsylvania, something most polls and national Democrats’ recent ad spending patternscertainly do not seem to indicate
• OR-Gov: DHM Research takes a look at next month’s gubernatorial race for Oregon Public Broadcasting, and gives Democratic Gov. Kate Brown a 46-33 lead over Republican Bud Pierce, up from her 43-35 edge in September. The sample gives Hillary Clinton a 43-36 lead in the state. The only other poll we’ve seen here in the last month was from SurveyUSA, which had Brown up just 46-42 last week. Neither national party has shown any interest in running ads here, which suggests that DHM’s numbers are closer to what the DGA and RGA are seeing.
• WA-Gov: We have over our first major outside spending in what’s been a pretty dull race. A Democratic group called Our Washington, which springs up every four years for the state’s gubernatorial election, is out with a spothitting Republican Bill Bryant for taking money from industries with business before Seattle’s port commission, on which he used to serve. There is no word on the size of the buy, though Our Washington reportedly has raised $1.3 million so far.
The only recent poll we’ve seen shows Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee up 50-40, and Bryant’s team says they’re having trouble raising enough money to run their commercials. National Republicans haven’t spent anything on Bryant’s behalf, and there’s no indication that this will change. While it’s possible that Our Washington’s leaders are spending out of caution, it’s more likely that they’re just trying to run up the score.
• CA-49: Well whaddya know? Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, who spent years styling himself as the chief inquisitor of the Obama administration, is now so desperately worried about his re-election chances that he’s sending out a mailer touting his cooperation on a piece of legislation with none other than Barack Obama himself! The entire back of the flyer, in fact, is devoted to a large photo of the president sitting at a desk and, presumably, signing the Survivors’ Bill of Rights, which Issa co-sponsored (and was passed unanimously).
While it’s not unheard of for politicians to try to tie themselves to popular office-holders of the opposite party, it’s extremely unusual to see it happen in a red district like California’s 49th. A rare example came in Nebraska’s 2nd District back in 2008, when then-GOP Rep. Lee Terry was on the hunt for “Obama-Terry” voters. But that year, Obama succeeded in turning Terry’s seat blue, and thanks to Donald Trump’s poisonous unpopularity, Hillary Clinton may do the same in Issa’s district. Terry narrowly survived, but Issa may not be so lucky.
• IL-10: Obama Alert! Brad Schneider has the honor of being the first Democrat in the nation to air a 2016 general election ad starring the president. (Obama appeared in a few spots in primaries.) Obama speaks to the camera and tells the audience that “[t]his is not your typical election. It’s not just a choice between parties or policies. It’s about who we are as a people.”
The president goes on to ask the viewer to vote for Schneider and the Democrats to help “keep America’s promise to our seniors, protect our kids and our cops from gun violence, and preserve a woman’s right to choose.” Obama concludes by imploring the audience to “reject cynicism and fear.” The spot was partially paid for by the DCCC, which explains why Obama asks people to back “Schneider and the Democrats,” rather than just the candidate. Schneider faces Republican Rep. Bob Dold! in a suburban Chicago seat that Obama carried 58-41 in 2012.
• MI-08: National Democrats have lately shown an interest in this Lansing seat, and the DCCC recently released a poll showing Republican Rep. Mike Bishop leading Democrat Suzanna Shkreli by a not-insurmountable 47-41 margin, on the basis that the undecideds favor Hillary Clinton. The NRCC has now dropped their own poll from Public Opinion Strategiesgiving Bishop a very different 49-31 lead, not too different from the 53-34 Bishop edge POS found a month before. Team Red did not release presidential numbers. Romney carried this seat 51-48, and the D-Trip had Clinton up 44-37.
So far, neither the DCCC nor the NRCC appear to have reserved any money for this seat. However, the NRCC’s allies at the Congressional Leadership Fund recently reserved $700,000 here, making this one of 12 new districts that they’ve recently committed money to. CLF’s leaders recently told Politico that some of their investments were going to seats that aren’t currently competitive, and that they were only spending as an “insurance policy” in case the national climate got worse for Team Red. This is spin, of course, but even spin can be true. But the problem is that even if CLF is being honest, we can’t know if Michigan’s 8th is a seat they’re genuinely worried about, or if they’re just playing it safe. We’ll also find out soon if Democrats act on their own poll and spend here.
• MN-02: SurveyUSA continues its tour of Minnesota’s competitive congressional districts on behalf of TV station KSTP, and they give Team Blue some good news in the state’s suburban 2nd District. Democrat Angie Craig leads Republican Jason Lewis 46-41, while Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump 44-36. Obama won this seat by only about 0.1 percent in 2012, but this is the type of affluent and well-educated district where Trump is bad news for his party. Note that the poll did not test Independence Party nominee Paula Overby, a left-leaning congressional candidate who took 5 percent here in 2014.
Craig and her allies have badly outspent Team Red here, and they’ve aired several ads using recordings of Lewis’ many racist and sexist commentsagainst him. One sample quote from Lewis that’s made it to a Democratic ad: “You’ve got a vast majority of young single women who couldn’t explain to you what GDP means. You know what they care about? They care about abortion. They care about abortion and gay marriage. They care about ‘The View.’ They are non-thinking.” While the DCCC has continued to advertise here, their allies at House Majority PAC recently cut much of their planned ad campaign, a strong sign that they felt good about Craig’s chances.
However, while this poll gives Craig a lead, it indicates that this contest is far from over. Indeed, the NRCC recently released a poll showing Lewis up 36-33, while Craig dropped a survey in response giving her a 46-42 edge. (Craig’s poll was done in early October, before the tape of Trump bragging about sexual assault was released.) The NRCC recently began running commercials against Craig, and they’re now out with a new one that aims to use Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton’s words against her.
The narrator first insists that Craig is just using Lewis’ words out of context in her spots. (No, Lewis’ words aren’t any less vile in context.) They quickly transition to a clip of Craig saying she would expand the Affordable Care Act. The commercial then shows Dayton saying, “The Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable.” Dayton called for actually doing more to improve the program, but of course the GOP doesn’t mention that part. You’ll be shocked, shocked! to learn that the NRCC doesn’t actually care about putting people’s quotes in context. The group recently allocated $535,000 to this race, though they have another $2.9 million reserved that they could send here or to another competitive Minnesota seat.
• MT-AL: On Tuesday, Politico reported that the House Majority PAC would invest $451,000 in Montana’s House race on behalf of Democrat Denise Juneau, signaling they think she has a shot against GOP Rep. Ryan Zinke. While Montana is a red state, Juneau’s proven to be a strong fundraiser, and her own polling from earlier this month found Zinke ahead just 45-42. Of course, Zinke’s internals had him ahead by a much wider 49-38 margin, but evidently, HMP either believes Juneau’s numbers are closer to the mark—or Donald Trump’s deterioration has reached into Big Sky Country in the two weeks since those campaign polls (conducted before the “Access Hollywood” tapes came out) were made public.
No outside groups have yet come to Zinke’s aid, so we’ll have to see if anyone steps in to help him, or if D.C. Republicans are confident enough to let him rise or fall on his own.
• NY-03: The NRCC recently canceled almost their entire $1.8 million ad reservation for this Long Island seat just before Siena released a poll showing Democrat Tom Suozzi leading Republican Jack Martins by a wide 50-34 margin. Martins is now out with a poll showing him and Suozzi tied 43-43 to try and make the case that he’s still worth spending on, but it is not convincing.
To begin, the survey comes from Clout Research, which is run by the former team that brought us Wenzel Strategies, a Republican group that was one of the worst polling firms in the business. Clout did not help their reputation with a late July Oregon poll that showed Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump just 43-40. That memo strangely mused that Trump could improve on past GOP performances “because the last two Republicans to run with the GOP nomination have been less than a ‘man’s man’,” and speculated that The Donald could “motivate non-traditional male voters” to turn out for him.
This NY-03 poll also only contacted voters with landlines, meaning cellphone-only households were completely ignored, a practice almost every reputable pollster has abandoned. The memo also claims that an unreleased poll from early October had Suozzi up by 10 points. However, nothing seems to have happened that would have caused such a shift in Martins’ direction. Indeed, the national political climate has gotten worse for the GOP since early October thanks to “man’s man” Donald Trump. The memo also notably left out any presidential results. This seat is located in the ultra-expensive New York City media market and national Republicans aren’t going to spend here unless they think they can win, and this poll probably didn’t convince anyone in D.C.
The one good sign for Martins in the last few weeks is that the Democratic group House Majority PAC recently ran an ad against him, an indication that Team Blue doesn’t quite think this contest is over. However, HMP’s commercial aired on TV rather than on pricey broadcast TV, and their FEC filing says that they put just $250,000 behind it. If HMP keeps spending money then something probably is up, but right now, it doesn’t look as though they think this race is very competitive.
• NY-22: On Tuesday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced that they were endorsing Martin Babinec, a wealthy independent. Babinec has pledged to caucus with the GOP if he wins, but that’s cold comfort for national Republicans who fear he’ll just take votes away from Claudia Tenney and hand this seat to the Democrats. The Chamber hasn’t spent much in the general election this cycle compared to previous years, so it’s far from clear if they’ll air ads for Babinec in this Utica district. But if this endorsement only helps Babinec take a few extra conservative voters from Tenney, Democrat Kim Myers and her allies won’t mind.
Indeed, the Democratic group House Majority PAC is up with another adthat aims to move some Republicans from Tenney to Babinec. The commercial features two elephants butting heads, as the narrator says that two Republicans are “fighting it out for Congress.” Just like in another recent HMP ad, the narrator argues that Tenney backed policies that gave New York City billions in housing subsidies, while Babinec “wants to eliminate Obamacare. And Babinec will caucus with Republicans in Washington.” He sums up the two candidates by insisting that Tenney is dirty and Babinec is “too conservative.” Once again, HMP is pretending to attack both candidates equally, but they’re hoping to convince Republican voters that Tenney is bad news while Babinec is worthy of their support.
• PA-16: A new poll for Democrat Christina Hartman finds her in an unexpectedly tight race with Republican Lloyd Smucker—and Smucker’s confirmed that he doesn’t have things locked up since he just started airing his first negative ad. We’ll start with the poll. Hartman’s survey, from GBA Strategies, has Smucker ahead just 45-42 in this open seat race, with the Libertarian candidate taking 9 percent; at the same time, Hillary Clinton is beating Donald Trump 47-43. The poll also shows Hartman making significant gains, since unreleased July numbers has Smucker in front 44-34.
What makes these numbers so noteworthy is that Pennsylvania’s 16th District definitely tilts to the right: Mitt Romney carried it 52-46 four years ago. But they aren’t implausible, since Barack Obama actually narrowly beat John McCain 50-49 back in 2008. And it appears Trump has suffered here lately, since Hartman’s memo says that Clinton’s current 4-point lead is a “reversal” of her position in July, when she was presumably trailing by 4.
That’s still something of a surprise, though, since this district, located in the western Philadelphia suburbs, isn’t especially affluent or well-educated—it’s roughly in the middle of the pack on both metrics. But it may well be that Trump’s malign campaign is experiencing rejection in suburbs like these, too. Hartman certainly seems to believe so, since she recently launched an ad tying Smucker to Trump’s “grab them by the pussy” vulgarities.
And while Smucker hasn’t yet commented on Hartman’s poll or provided contradictory numbers of his own, his decision to start running attack ads is an answer in and of itself. (His spot slams Hartman for wanting to accept refugees and for supporting the Iran nuclear deal.) Smucker’s also getting some outside help from the pro-GOP Congressional Leadership Fund, which just the other day said it would spend $400,000 on TV time here. It’s not clear whether CLF is genuinely concerned or just playing it safe, but even if they’re only taking out an insurance policy against a further collapse, that’s still saying something.
But what will say even more is whether outside Democratic groups like the DCCC decide they believe in Hartman and start shelling out some bucks for the stretch run.
• UT-04: Democrat Doug Owens is out with an Anzalone Liszt Grove Research poll showing him losing to Republican Rep. Mia Love 50-40, with Constitution Party nominee Collin Simonsen at 6. What would convince Owens to release such an awful poll this close to Election Day? Owens’ team argues that he’s “shown significant movement in the last two weeks,” though they didn’t allude to any earlier internals. Two weeks ago a Love poll showed her leading 55-35 while two weeks before that, an independent poll had her up by a similar margin. While trailing by 10 is certainly better than trailing by 20, it’s still not at all good.
Several recent polls show that Donald Trump is actually in danger of losing Utah, and there’s little doubt that he’ll at least do much worse than any other GOP presidential nominee in recent memory. However, even Owens’ poll shows Love surviving the devastation, though they did not release presidential numbers here. Owens’ team insists that their poll found him down by a similar margin around this time in the 2014 cycle, but he only lost 51-46. Even if that’s true, Love does have incumbency on her side this time, and that’s still a ton of ground to make up in a short amount of time.
The Democratic group House Majority PAC reserved $403,000 heremonths ago, but the DCCC has yet to engage. The good news for Owens is that the Congressional Leadership Fund recently reserved $500,000 for this seat, so Team Red isn’t quite doing a victory dance yet. But if Democrats have a winning argument for why conservative voters should ditch Love, they’re almost out of time to make it.
• IN-Sen: GOP Rep. Todd Young celebrates the life of a deceased fellow Marine who “made the ultimate sacrifice” and contrasts him to “career politicians.”
• LA-Sen: Democrat Foster Campbell deploys his biggest gun in the jungle primary: Gov. John Bel Edwards, who reminds viewers that he endorsed Campbell months ago and wants to see him elected so that they can work together to “raise the minimum wage,” “pay women the same that we pay men,” and “continue to make health care available and affordable for everybody.”
• MO-Sen: In another very effective spot, Democrat Jason Kander once again features the owner of a family business castigating GOP Sen. Roy Blunt for his family business: lobbying. It also features an audio clip of Blunt addressing the topic and cluelessly saying, “I don’t even understand why that would be a question. Everybody’s family does something.” The businesswoman narrating the ad throws some more jabs at Blunt, saying “He doesn’t even live in Missourah anymore”—and yes, she definitely pronounces it “Missourah.” The NRSC, meanwhile, calls Kander a politician and trial lawyer who voted to make it easier to sue the businesses he’s litigated against.
• NH-Sen: The DSCC says that GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte likes to give tax breaks to the wealthy while screwing over regular folks.
• NV-Sen: The League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club hit GOP Rep. Joe Heck for voting against the interests of Nevada’s solar energy industry and for supporting tax breaks for big oil instead. The spot is the second in a joint $1.85 million TV and digital buy.
• PA-Sen: Great spot—you’ll want to watch this one. For VoteVets, an Afghanistan veteran slams “for-profit colleges” for trying to “scam us when we returned home,” then trains his fire on GOP Sen. Pat Toomey, who served on the board of one such school and “tried to turn our military benefits into his financial gain.” But, spits the veteran, “Toomey’s bogus school was stripped of its accreditation.” He finishes, “Ripping off our military to make a profit? Pat Toomey—he’s Washington at its worst.” The ad is part of a $550,000 buy.
Senate Majority PAC hammers Toomey for supporting NAFTA, voting for trade deals “that sent our jobs overseas,” and backing “special trade status for China.” Senate Leadership Fund scaremongers over the Iran nuclear deal to attack Democrat Katie McGinty. (The narrator repeatedly pronounces it “Eye-ran,” for some reason.)
• WI-Sen: Democrat Russ Feingold says he’ll “work with both parties” to lower premiums and healthcare taxes, then attacks GOP Sen. Ron Johnson for “voting to make Medicare a voucher program.” Johnson goes positive with a painfully awkward ad featuring his daughters talking about how their dad is the right guy to clean up Washington as he changes a diaper on one of his grandkids. Amazingly, we actually see the baby take a whiz on gramps. Seriously, WTF?