• FL-18: Over the weekend, we (the Daily Kos Elections staff) were debating amongst ourselves whether Allen West's new TV spot attacking Patrick Murphy over a teenage arrest for drunkenness was a desperation move or a coffin-nailer. After all, West had just released a poll showing him up 11 points on his Democratic opponent. But that internal had some issues (namely, a huge Romney lead in a district where he shouldn't have one), and that ad isn't typically the kind you put out if you have a double-digit lead in the polls.
Well, now we have a clearer picture of the race thanks to two new surveys, and West's move looks a lot more like it came from weakness rather than strength. First up is a poll from the Murphy-supporting House Majority PAC, courtesy of Garin-Hart-Yang, that features Murphy legging out to a 52-43 lead over West. Obama's beating Romney as well, 52-45, which is a notably wider edge than his three-point win in 2008, but makes sense in the context of the president's recent surge in the state of Florida.
Perhaps more remarkable is a poll from Kimball Political Consulting, which is a Republican firm that mostly works on Massachusetts races. They also see Murphy in front, albeit by a smaller 49-45 edge, though their presidential toplines match GHY's exactly (52-45). One odd thing about this survey, though—which includes full crosstabs, unlike HMP's—is that young voters strongly favor both Romney and West. That seems unlikely, to say the least. But no matter what, these new sets of numbers are very good news for Murphy.
P.S. The award for How Do You Like Them Apples (3Q fundraising edition) goes to none other than... Patrick Murphy, who just announced raising an eye-popping $1.05 million in the quarter. Murphy didn't provide cash-on-hand numbers, but this takes him to a monster $3.3 million raised for the cycle to date. Running against Allen West has its advantages!
• CT-05: But the award for First Candidate to Leak Third Quarter fundraising numbers actually goes to... Democrat Elizabeth Esty, who says she took in $650K in 3Q but doesn't provide cash-on-hand figures.
• FL-Sen: Just a little color from GOP Rep. Connie Mack's time on the campaign trail in sunny Florida:
In the Republican stronghold of Destin on Thursday, Mack greeted about 25 supporters outside the Donut Hole café on Highway 98, and then went inside to introduce himself to customers.Anyone order a kraut dog? By the way, the headline on this piece: Connie Mack battles polls, voter lack of interest in quest to unseat Sen. Bill Nelson." Mmhmm.
"Could you get us menus?'' one elderly couple asked Mack, 45, the four-term congressman from Fort Myers, after he shook their hands. The congressman obliged.
• HI-Sen: Civil Beat's out with a new poll (from their usual pollster, Merriman River), showing Dem Rep. Mazie Hirono beating the stuffing out of Republican ex-Gov. Linda Lingle, 55-39. That's quite a bit different from the picture the last time they were in the field (back in June), when Hirono only led 49-44. Civil Beat also did something pretty interesting and commendable with this poll:
In the last survey before the August primary election, The Civil Beat Poll showed Hirono in a dead heat with Case, but she ended up winning by more than 20 points. In our post-mortem, we hypothesized that the use of a mainland, Caucasian voice could explain some of that disparity.You don't often see pollsters so willing to analyze their own flaws—and take steps to rectify them—so this is a good thing to see. I'm not surprised it had no effect, but it was still worth trying—though in the Lingle campaign's petulant pushback, they actually mock Civil Beat for doing this. The least histrionic (but most telling) line is this, though: "Our own internal polling is showing an incredibly competitive race with significant leads in key parts of the state and key demographics." Of course, no poll is provided.
For this survey, Civil Beat used two voices to test that hypothesis. The same Caucasian woman from Ohio was used for half of the calls, and Civil Beat Assistant Editor Sara Lin, who's of Chinese and Hawaiian ancestry and was born and raised on Oahu, provided the voice for the other half.
There were some differences in the responses to the two voices, and we'll explore those differences throughout the week as we reveal the results for other general election matchups and key local issues. But the Senate race—the starting point for the experiment—showed no difference.
Hirono led 55 percent to 40 percent among those who took the poll with the "mainland" voice and 56 percent to 38 percent among those who took the poll with the "local" voice.
• IN-, NV-Sen: The Senate contests in Indiana and Nevada keep getting hotter: Politico reports that the DSCC has added another $439K in airtime for the first week of October in the Hoosier State, with the NRSC apparently following suit for an unspecified sum. Out west, Dems have re-upped for another $587K.
• MA-Sen: Two new polls have popped up in the Massachusetts Senate race, both giving Democrat Elizabeth Warren the lead. In UNH's survey for the Boston Globe, Warren edges GOP Sen. Scott Brown 43-38, as opposed to a 39-37 Brown advantage back in May, the last time UNH went into the field here. The other survey is from MassINC on behalf of WBUR, but be wary of the station's own writeup. They're calling it a 46-44 lead for Warren, but that ignores leaners—something every analyst will tell you is a mistake. Including leaners (PDF) puts Warren up 49-45, little different from her 47-42 lead a couple of weeks ago—but, importantly, even closer to the 50% mark.
• ME-Sen, -01, -02: MaineToday Media, a consortium of local newspapers, has a new poll from Critical Insights on all of the state's big races coming up next month. As every other pollster has, they, too, show a drop for independent Angus King in the Senate contest: King's fallen from a 55-27 lead over Republican Charlie Summers back in June to a 50-28 edge now, with Democrat Cynthia Dill at 12. (The poll was actually conducted mid-September, but for some reason it's only being released now. It's also worth noting that the prior survey tested registered voters, while this one polled likely voters.)
Meanwhile, Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney 52-36 statewide, though by just 46-41 in the more conservative ME-02. Maine splits its electoral votes by congressional district, so Romney fans have to be praying for that single EV, but even these numbers suggest he's miles away from that possibility. Speaking of the 2nd, there are also numbers on the House race. Dem Rep. Mike Michaud holds a healthy 54-39 lead over Republican Kevin Raye, which is up from 47-35 last time. (The contest in the 1st is a snoozer, with Dem Rep. Chellie Pingree crushing GOPer Jon Courtney 60-29.)
Lastly, Critical Insights tested the state's pro-gay marriage ballot measure (called Question 1) and finds it passing 57-36. That's more favorable than a recent MPRC survey which found Mainers in favor by a 53-43 margin.
• ND-Sen: Doesn't seem like GOP Rep. Rick Berg's fitting in too well on the campaign trail, especially compared with Heidi Heitkamp. From the New York Times' page A1 cover story on the North Dakota Senate contest:
The contest—the state's first competitive one since 1986 and probably its nastiest in modern history—features two very different politicians with very different styles: the rumpled Democrat against the well-turned-out Republican, the longtime denizen of state government against the affluent businessman. Ms. Heitkamp hugs her way through a room. Mr. Berg approached a table of women in Fargo on Wednesday and then sheepishly backed off, saying: "We won't bug you. We'll just keep going." [...]The headline makes it even more poignant: " 'North Dakota Nice' Plays Well in Senate Race." Maybe for Heitkamp, because Berg sure sounds frustrated by the concept of "likability" in general.
"Everyone's pretty likable," Mr. Berg said with a shrug. "The issue is not about a personality contest. This whole thing kind of boils down to, do you want someone who's going to fight against President Obama."
• NM-Sen: Rasmussen: Martin Heinrich (D): 52 (48), Heather Wilson (R): 39 (42).
• MO-Sen: Dem Sen. Claire McCaskill's touting a new internal from Kiley & Company which has her beating GOP Rep. Todd Akin 50-41. A previously unreleased trendline from early in September had McCaskill winning 48-42, though you can understand why those numbers weren't publicized at the time (seeing as Akin still had the chance to drop off the ballot back then). The survey didn't include presidential toplines, but honestly, the polling has been all over the place in this absolutely bizarre race, so it's just hard to know what to believe at this point.
• OH-Sen: I've never been a fan of the Columbus Dispatch's mail-in polls—the fact that they're just about the only news organization to conduct surveys this way ought to say something. And while it would be easy, if you're a Democrat, to like their new Senate toplines, the trendlines should make you wary. Just over a month ago, the Dispatch improbably had Sen. Sherrod Brown improbably tied with Republican Josh Mandel at 44 apiece. Now, Brown leads 49-39. That latest spread is in line with some other recent polls (from Quinnipiac and the Washington Post), but the earlier numbers were really out-of-whack. (And for what it's worth, Obama leads Romney 51-42 in the same poll.)
• WI-Sen: Looks like Tommy Thompson could use some more rest. Amazingly enough, it's the National Review which decided to give Tommy room to hang himself with several unflattering quotes, including these gems:
"I was exhausted," Thompson says of the post-primary period. "I used to box in school, and there's an old adage that when you get so tired that you can't hold your arms up, you just drop them, and you hope that the other guy gets tired and stops hitting you." [...]Thanks for dropping your arms, Tommy!
"We should end the quarter with north of a million dollars, plus having paid for our TV through the 1st of October," Thompson says. "It's not nearly enough, but I'm out there raising money every day."
For weeks, Thompson says, his money woes were real. "In order to get to the finish line on the primary, I had to borrow $600,000," he says. "The campaign doesn't want me to say that, but I did." By late August, "We were hurt, but we won."
• IN-Sen: Richard Mourdock (R)
• MA-Sen: Elizabeth Warren (D)
• ME-SenAngus King (I)
• MI-Sen: Debbie Stabenow (D)
• MI-Sen: Debbie Stabenow (D)
• MO-Sen: Todd Akin (R)
• MT-Sen: Denny Rehberg (R)
• NJ-Sen: Joe Kyrillos (R)
• NM-SenHeather Wilson (R)
• NV-Sen: Shelley Berkley (D)
• PA-Sen: Bob Casey (D)
• VA-Sen: Tim Kaine (D)
• WV-Gov: While we have to wait until Oct. 15 for federal third-quarter fundraising reports, West Virginia just required its gubernatorial candidates to file their campaign finance numbers for the period of May 21 to Sept. 23. During that time, Dem Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin swamped Republican Bill Maloney, $1.2 mil to $469K, though Maloney did also loan himself a quarter mil. Tomblin nevertheless has much more cash-on-hand, $618K to $264K.
• NC-Gov: Pat McCrory (R)
• NH-Gov: RGA (R)
• WA-Gov: Rob McKenna (R)
• WV-Gov: Bill Maloney (R)
• FL-26: Oddly enough, here's another Republican poll out of South Florida showing... the Republican getting whooped. The Miami Herald got its hands on a survey from GOP pollster McLaughlin & Associates and says that Democrat Joe Garcia is beating Rep. David Rivera by 10 points. Garcia is up 44-33, with independent candidate Jose Peixoto taking 5%. That leaves a rather high 19% undecided, and Rivera at an almost absurdly low total for an incumbent. Also, McLaughlin confirms the big Obama leads we've been seeing in other polling, with the POTUS on top 51-43.
P.S. McLaughlin wouldn't say who commissioned the poll, but the NRCC wouldn't be a bad guess, since they use his firm a fair bit. However, I haven't yet found any public filings which show recent payments to McLaughlin specifically for an FL-26 poll.
• GA-12: This McLaughlin internal from Republican Lee Anderson is pretty dusty—it was taken in late August, but we're only seeing it for the first time now. Still, we felt it was worth noting since there really hasn't been any public polling on the race and since the numbers—Anderson leads 44-43—actually seem better for Dem Rep. John Barrow than I'd have expected, accounting for the fact that this is, of course, a poll taken for his opponent. The presidential toplines do seem to be pretty spot-on, though, with Romney beating Obama 53-40 (the president lost here 56-44 four years ago). However, since this poll was in the field, both sides have been advertising heavily, so the situation may very well have changed a great deal.
• IA-01: Were we a little too quick on the trigger in moving this race from Likely D to Lean D on Friday? The Hotline reports that the NRCC is going dark in Iowa's 1st, with no new ad runs planned on behalf of Republican Ben Lange. This shift comes after the group already spent $400K (the DCCC hasn't intervened), suggesting that Dem Rep. Bruce Braley's poll numbers are probably holding up. And here's another positive sign for Braley: The American Hospital Association, which tends to overwhelmingly support Republicans, just showed up with a $268K ad buy on his behalf.
• IL-10: Buried deep in this Politico piece on Illinois House races is a mention of a mid-September poll for GOP Rep. Bob Dold! from McLaughlin & Associates pegging him to a 44-37 lead over Democrat Brad Schneider. (The sample size, not mentioned at the link, was 400.) For one thing, that's an awful lot of undecideds for this late in the game. And for another, compared to a late June Dold poll that had him up 42-32, these numbers represent a bigger improvement for the challenger than the incumbent—so I'm not sure I'd be too thrilled right now if I were Bob Dold!.
• IL-11: Grr. Why is GOP Rep. Judy Biggert the favorite Republican incumbent of groups desperate to appear bipartisan? First it was a "pro"-gay GOP super PAC pouring in half a million worth of TV ads on her behalf, and now the National Education Association is jumping in with $546K for "television and on-line advertising." Seriously, there are unions—teachers unions, no less—willing and eager to help Republicans in this day and age? Biggert's record on labor issues doesn't matter—John Boehner's does. This is America, and this is how politics works, and anyone who pretends otherwise is a fool.
• IL-13: A new poll for Democrat David Gill seems to confirm the tossup-ish nature of the race: Victoria Research gives him a 40-39 edge over Republican Rodney Davis, with independent John Hartman taking a very high 8 percent. Unfortunately, there are no presidential toplines, but the memo notes that Gill's already been subject to over $1 million worth of attack ads. In fact, it's already more like $1.2 mil, with the Chamber of Commerce, the NRCC, and the American Action Network all throwing down. The DCCC (the only Dem group really involved here) has spent just half that sum going after Davis.
• MA-06: Why has all the recent polling out of Massachusetts' 6th District been so weird? First we had two successive Republican polls that showed GOPer Richard Tisei on top—but which both showed absolutely implausible presidential toplines. Now we have a survey from UNH (for the Boston Globe) which has an absurd number of undecided—30%, in fact, giving Tisei a strange-looking lead of 37-31 over Dem Rep. John Tierney. I'm also not sure I really like the methodology here. Not only was the Tierney-Tisei head-to-head buried after a huge battery of questions, but the MA-06 numbers were part of UNH's new statewide poll (see MA-Sen bullet above), apparently obtained via special oversample. That doesn't seem like the best way to poll a House race.
• NC-08: Looks like the NRCC has its own chain-gang of polling robots whirring away in the cellar, too. In an attempt to reinforce the message that Democrats are abandoning the 8th District, they conducted a one-day IVR poll last week, showing Republican Richard Hudson beating Dem Rep. Larry Kissell 50-41. Romney also beats Obama 59-38, which is about six points wider than John McCain's 57-42 win here in 2008. It sounds like the NRCC committed a bit of a no-no, though, because it appears they weighted by party ID (they say the "survey was weighted to a 2008-2010 hybrid turnout model"). Some pollsters do this, but you really shouldn't, since party preference is a very fluid thing.
• PA-12: Big Dog Alert! Bill Clinton is coming to Beaver, PA to headline a rally for Dem Rep. Mark Critz on Thursday. (No word if a fundraiser is also involved.) Clinton's long been a booster of Critz's, and endorsed him in his primary against fellow Rep. Jason Altmire earlier this year. (And if you want to amuse yourself, click through to read the reaction to this news from the campaign of Republican Keith Rothfus.)
• TX-23: Took him long enough. GOP Rep. Quico Canseco seemed to go silent in the face of an LCV internal poll conducted in the middle of last month that showed Pete Gallego, his Democratic opponent, leading 43-38. Now Canseco finally has some numbers of his own (from OnMessage) that purport to show him ahead 47-37, with 8% picking "other"—even though "other" won't be on the ballot. A "source in the Gallego campaign" disputed the findings to Roll Call, citing the LCV results, but wouldn't provide their own internal polling.
• WI-07: The House polls are coming hot and heavy now, and here's one more: Democrat Pat Kreitlow's new internal from FM3 has him close behind GOP Rep. Sean Duffy, with Duffy leading 44-41. That's very similar to the four-point margin PPP found on behalf of CREDO last week, though FM3 obviously thinks there are still more undecided voters, which probably augurs in Kreitlow's favor. The memo doesn't mention the presidential toplines, but the Kreitlow campaign graciously provided them to me: Obama's up 52-41 over Romney, not too far off his eight-point margin in 2008. If those numbers hold up, then Duffy will be facing some serious headwinds in his attempt to claw his way to 50%+1.
• CA-07: Dan Lungren (R)
• CA-09: Jerry McNerney (D)
• CA-10: DCCC (D)
• CA-24: NRCC (R)
• CA-26: Julia Brownley (D)
• CA-52: DCCC (D)
• CA-52: NRCC (R)
• CO-03: Sal Pace (D)
• GA-12: John Barrow (R)
• GA-12: NRCC (R)
• IA-03: DCCC (D)
• IA-04: NRCC (R)
• IL-12: NRCC (R)
• IL-13: Rodney Davis (R)
• IL-17: Cheri Bustos (D)
• IL-17: DCCC (D)
• KY-06: Andy Barr (R)
• KY-06: NRCC (R)
• MA-06: Richard Tisei (R)
• MN-01: Allen Quist (R)
• MN-08: NRCC (R)
• NC-07: Mike McIntyre (R)
• NC-07: NRCC (R)
• ND-AL: Kevin Cramer (R)
• NH-02: Annie Kuster (D)
• NH-02: NRCC (R)
• NV-03: DCCC (D)
• NV-03: NRCC (R)
• NV-04: NRCC (R)
• NY-19: DCCC (D)
• NY-19: Chris Gibson (R)
• NY-24: Dan Maffei (D)
• NY-24: DCCC (D)
• PA-18: Larry Maggi (D)
• RI-01: Brendan Doherty (R)
• TX-23: CWA (D)
• TX-23: Quico Canseco (R)
• MD Ballot: A new OpinionWorks survey for the Baltimore Sun has good news for supporters of marriage equality: The state's ballot measure to repeal Maryland's new same-sex marriage law is currently failing 49-39. That's a big turnaround from a March poll which actually saw the repeal effort succeeding, 43-40. What's changed since then are attitudes among African American voters: Whereas less than a third favored the law in the prior poll, now black voters support it by more than two-to-one. Obviously President Obama's announcement in May that he supports gay marriage was a critical development. (Also, in case you care, the POTUS leads Romney 57-34.)
• DCCC: The Hotline's Kevin Brennan does an admirable job trying to keep track of some serious ad time reshuffling by the DCCC; our trick is to figure out what's genuinely new. The one-week cancellations in two GOP-held seats, MN-08 and IA-04, are definitely news; the other cancellations are also, strictly speaking, "new," but they're in races that had previously seen reductions, so none are surprising. There are also a bunch of seats where the D-Trip is adding to their existing buys, but again, they've already been playing in all of these seats. (Click through for both lists.) But one brand-new district the DCCC's getting involved in is WA-01, a Dem-held open seat where they're helping out Suzan DelBene with a $500K television buy.
I've said this before, but I'll repeat this note of caution when interpreting these moves: It's a mistake to see an ad cancellation and instantly think a race is being triaged. That's because, thanks to the rise of super PACs like House Majority for the Dems and American Action Network for the GOP, when one group steps aside, another often fills in. We don't know that that's necessarily the case for any of these seats in particular, but following ad time reservations is a very difficult task and the information available is always less than perfect (often far from it). So just bear that in mind whenever analyzing this sort of reshuffling.
• Radio: Last week, I went on SiriusXM's POTUS station to discussion Senate races with hosts Lee Brenner and Slade Sohmer on their show "Politics Powered By Twitter." You can listen to a clip at the link.