• MI-Gov: A new EPIC-MRA survey on behalf of the Detroit Free Press gives Democrat Mark Schauer a 45-43 lead over Republican Gov. Rick Snyder; in July, they had Snyder up 46-43. Without this poll included, Huffpost Pollster gives Snyder a 46-43 average edge, so this result isn't unreasonable at all. Schauer has posted a few small leads in the past, but they've been rare and haven't lasted very long.
EPIC-MRA also gives Snyder a rather dire 41-57 job approval rating, while Schauer posts a 26-21 favorability score. Schauer may still not be well known, but he may not need to be to win. If this poll is right, things are liable to get much worse for Snyder: It's very hard to see a governor that unpopular winning in a state that clearly leans against his party unless his challenger is utterly hated.
We have, however, raised many concerns about the quality of Michigan's various pollsters over the years, though it turns out that EPIC-MRA has actually been one of the better ones. Looking at their final polls from October on, here's how they performed in 2010:
• GA-Sen: Here's an interesting piece from the National Journal's Scott Bland comparing Democrat Michelle Nunn's new ad attacking David Perdue for shutting down a textile mill with a famous and very similar spot that Priorities USA ran against Mitt Romney to devastating effect. Research firm Ace Metrix rated the Priorities ad the most effective of 2012 because it compelled viewers to research Romney's record further. Nunn's spot hasn't yet inspired the same kind of response, though a likely reason is that Nunn has only just begun portraying Perdue as a vulture capitalist whereas Obama's allies laid lots of groundwork before their seminal TV spot aired.
• LA-Sen: Blergh. As a Democratic seeking re-election in a state trending hard toward the GOP, Sen. Mary Landrieu really can't afford to make any mistakes. Now, though, it looks like the Washington Post just uncovered a serious problem for (perhaps with the help of Republican opposition researchers). It turns out that Landrieu doesn't have a home of her own in Louisiana; rather, she lists the address of the house where her parents live, which is jointly owned by Landrieu's mother and her nine children, including Mary.
We've seen this story many times before, most recently with Pat Roberts in Kansas (who had a time-share in a La-Z-Boy) and Dick Lugar in Indiana (who ultimately registered to vote on a family farm that was too "rustic" for human habitation). Like her two colleagues, Landrieu does own a home in D.C., and the Post's piece is filled with the kind of "we don't see her around here much" remarks from neighbors that always accompany articles like this. And unhelpfully, Landrieu also said a couple of years ago that she really appreciates "the life that we live" on Capitol Hill, which she called a "special neighborhood."
If Republicans can make an issue out of this, we all know just how potent an attack it can be. It turns out that a lot of voters really don't like it when their senators "go Washington." Landrieu is going to have to do a lot of work to convince her state otherwise.
• FL-Gov: A lot of people learned about Dixiecrats the hard way in 2000, during the Bush/Gore recount, when they noticed a bunch of small counties in the Panhandle with huge Dem registration advantages that went solidly for Bush, and leapt to the conclusion that the fix was in. It looks like some of those lessons have been forgotten, judging by the confusion over why ex-state Sen. Nan Rich, Charlie Crist's liberal opponent from south Florida, performed the strongest in last week's Democratic primary in those Dixiecrat-filled Panhandle counties.
Miami Herald reporter Marc Caputo explains: these voters are so revolted by the party that they still belong to that they pretty much vote against Democratic frontrunners reflexively, even if it's someone who's even more liberal. It was the exact same pattern in 2010, where Alex Sink's unfunded, no-name opponent (Brian Moore) similarly overperformed in those counties, despite the fact that Sink had more of a southern accent and more north Florida connections than Crist. If you'd like a visual representation, Matthew Isbell created some startling county-level maps of the phenomenon, tacked on to a pre-election post in which he predicted this very outcome. (David Jarman)
• IA-Gov, SoS: On behalf of USA Today, Suffolk University takes a look at the gubernatorial race and finds pretty much the same thing everyone else has found. Republican Gov. Terry Branstad leads Democratic rival Jack Hatch 47-35, almost exactly what PPP found just days ago.
More compellingly, though, Democrat Brad Anderson, who was Barack Obama's state director in 2012, is tied at 31 apiece with Republican Paul Pate in the race for secretary of state. The post is open because the current incumbent, Republican Matt Schultz, made a failed run for the House earlier this year. Pate actually served a term as SoS back in the 1990s, so the fact that this race is so wide open is very positive for Anderson. (Jeff Singer & David Nir)
• PA-Gov: Nothing in elections is ever a sure thing, but the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race is about as close to a locked-down pickup as you can have at this point. Local pollster Franklin & Marshall finds Democratic challenger Tom Wolf is actually doubled up on GOP incumbent Tom Corbett, though that's probably only because it's F&M and, as usual, their undecideds are much higher than other pollsters; the toplines are 49-24. That's very little change from F&M's previous poll in late June, which was 47-25.
Corbett's trying to get back in the game with a new ad, narrated by a manic blue-collar-looking guy who gives people the shocking news that Wolf is not only linked to ex-Gov. Ed Rendell (whose Revenue Dept. Wolf headed) but also Barack Obama (for whom Wolf was a bundler)!!1! That doesn't seem likely to move too many undecided swing voters, considering that Pennsylvania is a state that voted for both Rendell and Obama twice ... but a look at F&M's crosstabs shows who Corbett might be trying to really reach with this ad. Corbett is leading only 48-24 among Republicans, so his first task is to try and stop the bleeding among, y'know, members of his own party.
Corbett's doing one other thing to try and increase his appeal outside the Republican base, though: he's finally assented to Medicaid expansion in his state, which the federal government approved on Thursday, though without some of the limitations Corbett had hoped to impose. The fact that he's doing this now, after all his political obituaries have already been written, is just one more sign of how politically clueless Corbett is. If he'd done this, say, a year ago, then maybe he could have taken at least some of the edge off the broad opposition to him (though that seems largely rooted in his education cuts and the PSU football scandal, so even that probably wouldn't have saved his skin). (David Jarman)
• AZ-01: All precincts are in for this northern Arizona seat, and state House Speaker Andy Tobin maintains a 469 vote lead over rancher Gary Kiehne in the Republican primary. There are reportedly "thousands" of provisional and early ballots left to count, but it's hard to see them breaking for Kiehne enough to erase Tobin's lead. The winner will take on Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick is what is expected to be a highly targeted race. (Jeff Singer)
Ads & Independent Expenditures (Jeff Singer):
• AK-Sen: VoteVets goes after Republican Dan Sullivan: The spot features a Navy veteran-turned-fisherman arguing that Pebble Mine, which Sullivan supports, would hurt state fishermen. The ad is for a hefty $675,000. We also have a total of $658,000 spent on the Democratic side from Patriot Majority, the League of Conservation Voters, and Alaska Salmon PAC.
• IA-Sen: NextGen Climate ties Republican Joni Ernst to big oil, at the expense of state jobs. It's worth mentioning that while the group's first spot here a little while ago was really weird, all their stuff after that has been good. MoveOn also ties Ernst to rich interests who want to jeopardize Social Security.
• LA-Sen: Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu features an oil rig worker, who praises her for expanding drilling. He ends by noting she's chairman of the Energy Committee and that "we'd be crazy to lose her."
• NE-Gov: This is unexpected. The Nebraska gubernatorial race hasn't gotten much attention since Republican Pete Ricketts narrowly won his primary back in May. Democratic nominee Chuck Hassebrook is a good candidate but he hasn't been given much of a chance in this very red state. There has been very little polling here and while a June PPP poll for Hassebrook showed him only down four, national groups have largely ignored the race.
Until now that is. The RGA just released a spot tying Hassebrook to Obamacare as closely as they can, with some other shots at Obama thrown in. It's possible the group just wants to nuke Hassebrook now, rather than taking the chance he'll become a threat later. Team Blue has had some luck in recent U.S. Senate contests here, but they haven't won the governorship since Ben Nelson's landslide re-election in 1994 of all years. It's worth watching to see if Democratic groups think they have a chance and start spending here.