8:51 AM PT: AZ-Sen: Rich Carmona fans, your wait is over: Multiple media outlets are reporting that the DSCC is going up with their first ad buy on his behalf starting this week, for a total of $526K. Carmona, of course, is the Bush-era surgeon general who was recruited by Democrats in an attempt to pick up this GOP-held seat left open by the retiring Jon Kyl. There hasn't been a ton of polling here, but of late, it's tended to show Carmona in a surprisingly close race with Republican Rep. Jeff Flake. And based on this move, you have to figure the DSCC's own internals look at least as good. Of course, this is only a single week's worth of ads (and we haven't seen the spot yet), but a pickup here for Team Blue would be amazing.
8:59 AM PT: SC Redistricting: Not too surprisingly, the Supreme Court summarily affirmed a lower court ruling on Monday which upheld the validity of South Carolina's new congressional lines. Plaintiffs had argued that the new map discriminated against minorities under the Voting Rights Act but met with no success in the courts. The SCOTUS also affirmed an Illinois decision upholding that state's map; opponents claims there, however, rested on arguments about partisan unfairness, an argument the high court has never accepted.
9:14 AM PT: AZ-02: I thought the writing was on the wall after this summer's special election, but just to be sure, the DCCC is now trying to trace over it in permanent ink. Their new poll, from Grove Insight, shows Rep. Ron Barber beating Republican Martha McSally by a score of 54-40, putting the GOP in an impossible place. Since the special, there's been zero outside spending here, and that makes sense: Barber won by seven points in the old 8th District, a seat about five points redder than the redrawn 2nd. If the GOP couldn't beat him then... well, you catch my drift. Speaking of which, the polling memo says that Obama "leads by seven points." Grove doesn't provide the actual numbers, but that margin is actually considerably more optimistic that Obama's one-point loss here in 2008. Then again, John McCain's not on the ballot and, of late, Democrats appear to be doing better in Arizona this cycle.
9:47 AM PT: FL-26: According to a new report in the Miami Herald, local Republicans are now pegging Rep. David Rivera as a goner and are already discussing possible 2014 candidates who could take on Democrat Joe Garcia. Here's the early, early list, courtesy the Great Mentioner:
Jeb Bush Jr., son and namesake of the popular former governor, and state Sen. Anitere Flores. Other names include Marili Cancio, a lawyer who challenged Rivera in the 2010 GOP primary; former state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, who's running for state House, and Miami-Dade School Board Member Carlos Curbelo.How excited would Democrats be to run against a Bush? Also remarkable are the comments from Dario Moreno, the poli sci professor who just conducted a poll for Rivera claiming to show him up by six, in the face of a ton of polling showing the opposite. Now Moreno is furiously back-pedaling from his garbage numbers, in amazing fashion:
"David faces a real Herculean task to keep his campaign together," said Dario Moreno, a Florida International University political science professor who polls for Rivera. [...]I've never seen one pollster genuflect before another like that (McLaughlin is the GOP firm which put out numbers the other day showing Garcia up 10). And an early version of the story (since edited) even quoted Moreno as saying "It's bad at this point." No kidding! But it's also bad for Dario Moreno, who really has no business in this business.
"McLaughlin is the pollster for the Republican Party and is very well-known and respected," Moreno said....
10:03 AM PT: IN-Sen: A new super-team of Majority PAC, Center Forward, and AFSCME are join powers to summon Captain Planet and... uh, I mean, they're going in on a joint $1 million buy to boost Dem Rep. Joe Donnelly in the now-tossup Indiana Senate race. The ad hits hard, and I think it's a good one. The spot starts by citing a deadly Richard Mourdock quote—"I didn’t take a pledge that I would support every job in Indiana"—then tars him for "hiring a New York law firm" to "stop the Chrysler rescue that saved a hundred thousand Indiana jobs." Various shots of the city are accompanied by the narrator accusing Mourdock of "costing taxpayers over two million in fancy meals, cabs, and legal fees."
10:20 AM PT: RI-01: WPRI's new poll of the RI-01 congressional race (from Fleming & Associates) is more bearish for Dem Rep. David Cicilline than the recent trio of Democratic internals—but it's also plagued by a problem that WPRI often seems to suffer from. In particular, WPRI tries to conduct its polls on the cheap, sampling a mere 250 likely voters, which is less than the 300 most reputable shops consider the absolute minimum for a legitimate survey. (And honestly, even 300 is pretty weaksauce, though mostly I'm surprised that Fleming is willing to go below that number.) In any event, the trendlines, if you're willing to go all the way back to February, actually are quite positive for Cicilline, who now leads Republican Brendan Doherty 44-38, as opposed to trailing 49-34 last time. Still, I'm not keen on this poll's methodology.
10:22 AM PT: Oh yeah, and independent David Vogel is taking 6 percent.
10:42 AM PT: FL-18: Personally, I think this is the fight Democrats want: Now that Allen West has re-opened the door to discussing what exactly he was up to back in 2003, Democrat Patrick Murphy is going at him—and hard. You'll recall that last week, West started airing a nasty ad comparing Murphy's arrest for public intoxication in 2003 (when Murphy was just 19) to West's deployment into Iraq around the same time. But that year also saw the end of West's military career. Jennifer Bendery summarizes what happened:
West was a U.S. Army Lt. Colonel when, in 2003, he shot his gun next to the head of an Iraqi detainee to try to scare him into giving information about a plot to attack West and his troops. He was later charged with assault in a military court and faced up to 11 years in prison and a dishonorable discharge. Ultimately, he was fined $5,000 and retired with full benefits.Murphy's new spot leaves out any mention of the underlying act but describes the charges West faced, quoting a "final Army report" that said West "performed illegal acts... merited court martial... faced 11 years in prison." Other than whining about Murphy, I'll be very curious to see how West responds.
10:56 AM PT: NC-Gov: Yep, it's pretty much over for Walter Dalton. PPP finds Republican Pat McCrory with his biggest lead—47-37—since Dalton won the Democratic nomination in May. That confirms recent polling from other outfits which have also seen double-digit McCrory leads. Seeing as Obama's tied with Romney at the top of the ticket, Dalton is evidently suffering from an insurmountable association with outgoing Gov. Bev Perdue, who remains extremely unpopular. (McCrory is also viewed less negatively than Romney.) Fortunately, Democrats are doing well in other statewide races (such as Secretary of State), though their 46-44 edge on the generic legislative ballot won't be enough to overcome the extreme gerrymander wrought by Republicans.
10:58 AM PT (David Jarman): WA-Gov: Back in the spring or even the early summer, a poll with Dem Jay Inslee leading Republican Rob McKenna by 6 would have been nothing short of astonishing; nowadays, it's getting kind of mundane. SurveyUSA's newest poll of the race finds Inslee leading 48-42 (up slightly from their previous poll one month ago, where Inslee led 49-44 -- and it's also improved from the super-duper-poll that is the August Top 2 primary, which Inslee "won" 47-43). As with other recent polls, Inslee is crushing McKenna on the likeability question, leading that one by a 14-point margin.
11:30 AM PT: UT-04: Ruh-roh. Local pollster Dan Jones, surveying on behalf of some local media outfits, does not have good news for Dem Rep. Jim Matheson. Jones now has Republican Mia Love beating the incumbent 49-43, a major turnaround from his June numbers, where Matheson led 53-38. That's actually a bit better than a recent Love internal showing her up 51-36, but not by much. There are no presidential toplines included with the new Dan Jones poll, but with the peripatetic Mitt Romney at the top of the ticket in what's his closest thing to a home state, it's hard to compare this year's race for the White House with 2008 results.
12:03 PM PT: OH-Sen: There's no real change in PPP's latest OH-Sen poll, and that's good news for incumbent Dem Sherrod Brown, who leads Republican Josh Mandel 49-41. Early in September, Brown also led by eight points (48-40), so as we get closer to election day, it's Mandel who needs things to change. It's also just amazing to sit back and think about the insane amount of cash third-party groups have shelled out on attack ads against Brown for well over a year now—latest reports place the total at more than $19 million, almost all of it from the Chamber of Commerce and Crossroads GPS. Money well spent!
Unfortunately, on the redistricting front, the numbers are pretty discouraging. The measure to institute an independent redistricting commission is now failing by a terrible 26-49 margin, a drop from an already bad 33-38 mark a month ago. Republican groups have been airing misleading ads for a few weeks now, and unlike in the Senate race, it appears that they've been having an effect. As far as I know, the coalition supporting the measure, Voters First Ohio, isn't on the airwaves.