• IN-Sen, IN-Gov: Howey feelin' today, Joe Donnelly? We feelin' good? I should think so, considering that Howey Politics' new poll (conducted by GOP firm Bellwether Research and Democratic outfit Garin-Hart-Yang) has the Dem congressman up an eye-popping 47-36 over Republican Richard Mourdock, with Libertarian Andrew Horning at 6. That's up from a narrow 40-38 Donnelly edge in mid-September, and while the 11-point margin is by far the biggest we've seen, the trendlines mirror the same disastrous slide for Mourdock we've seen in Donnelly's own internals.
Mourdock claims to have yet another internal poll (again from McLaughlin), showing him ahead 46-44. But the cheese stands alone on this one: In Howey's new survey, Romney leads 51-41, hardly changed from his 52-40 edge in their prior poll, proving that Mourdock's slide is unique to him. But even Rasmussen has now managed to find a lead for Donnelly, putting him ahead 45-42. In mid-October, Ras had Mourdock up 47-42.
If Donnelly nevertheless loses, he'll still have succeeded in drawing a huge amount of financial fire away from other Democrats in the election's closing weeks. Politico totes up the outside-group spending in Indiana for the final week, and find that American Crossroads, the Club for Growth, the NRSC, and groups linked to Sen. Rand Paul and conservative rich guy Joe Ricketts are combining to spend $4 million on the last week. (Of course, that means Democrats are spending there too, though I'm sure they're glad to be on the offense; the DSCC and Majority PAC are shelling out $3 million in the same timeframe.) (David Jarman)
Also interesting are the numbers for the governor's race, where GOP Rep. Mike Pence remains stuck at 47, while Democrat John Gregg improved to 40 percent, up from 34. It's still very much a longshot for Gregg, but Pence hasn't been able to clear 50% even in his own internals despite having every advantage, which makes you wonder if Mourdock is screwing things up for the rest of the GOP ticket. For that reason, we're slotting the race back in at Likely R, since the Mourdock factor's unpredictably now makes us loathe to rule out a gubernatorial upset as well. (David Nir & David Jarman)
We're only making three changes today (you'll find our IN-Gov writeup in the "Leading Off" section of the Digest, just above). But we plan to keep monitoring all potentially competitive races right down to the wire, and we expect to make other last-minute adjustments on Monday and Tuesday.
• MI-Sen (Likely D to Safe D): GOP ex-Rep. Pete Hoekstra simply has no path to victory. He's never led in any reputable polling, he's gotten outraised almost 3-to-1, and the NRSC hasn't spent a dime on him. The DSCC hasn't spent anything on Sen. Debbie Stabenow, either, which pretty much tells you all you need to know.
• RI-01 (Lean D to Tossup): For a while, it looked like Dem Rep. David Cicilline's decision to apologize for his poor stewardship of (and lack of forthrightness about) Providence's finances when he served as mayor had saved his bacon, as a series of unanswered Democratic polls showed some daylight between himself and Republican Brendan Doherty. But Doherty managed to somehow pull back into contention, possibly because of this nasty NRCC ad which paints Cicilline as a monster for having had the temerity to represent unsavory defendants as a criminal defense attorney. Unjust as that attack may be, Republicans have since released their own unanswered poll showing Doherty up 6, and an independent survey had the race tied. The DCCC has had to step in here, too, which they wouldn't do if Cicilline weren't vulnerable.
• HI-Sen: We're a little shy on details behind this—and also a little short on a rationale why—but Hotline's Reid Wilson tweets that Majority PAC is going on the air in the Hawaii Senate race, which almost all polling has shown Dem Mazie Hirono to have locked down. Hawaii's a very inexpensive media market, so maybe it's just cheap insurance... but it's been a race that really hasn't merited insurance at all. (David Jarman)
• MA-Sen (Kimball): Elizabeth Warren (D): 47 (48), Scott Brown (R-inc): 49 (46); Obama 54-41 (55-39). Kimball, just as a reminder, is a Republican pollster, and he offers what might charitably be called a "Manchurian Candidate" explanation as to why his poll numbers are so divergent:
The Pollster, Spencer Kimball, believes the sleeper effect, which is when voters forget the messenger and remember the message is what has turned things around for Brown. The theory suggests that Brown’s blistering attacks on Warren’s heritage and her legal representation took time to have the intended effect but voters may now be showing doubt about the Democrat nominee. Warren’s unfavorable opinion has risen to 45%.• MI-Sen (PPP for LCV): Debbie Stabenow (D-inc): 53 (50), Pete Hoekstra (R): 40 (41); Obama 52-46 (51-44).
• MT-, WI-Sen: I couldn't possibly be so cynical as to say that Friday was the day when narrative-setting Rasmussen goes to sleep, its work for the cycle done, and sort-of-accurate Rasmussen wakes up and goes to work for its requisite half-a-week out of every two years, could I?
• WI-Sen: Tammy Baldwin (D): 48 (47), Tommy Thompson (R): 48 (48).
And see IN-Sen above as well. (David Jarman)
• NV-Sen: Let me start with a wheelbarrow full of caveats: any amount of ticket-splitting could be going on, and more generally, past performance is no guarantee of future results (in terms of how the actual election day votes go). But the Dems are killing it in Nevada in the early vote this year, perhaps to the extent that Dem coattails might pull NV-Sen's Shelley Berkley (and NV-04's Steven Horsford) over the line. Friday's early-vote tally has Dems leading the GOP in early votes, 45-36 (with 19% "other"), with a margin of 45K votes separating them. In addition to a dominant total in Clark Co. (a 60K Dem advantage there), the Dems have nosed ahead (by 600 votes) in the critical swing county of Washoe (David Jarman)
• IL-Gov: It looks like those Aaron Schock rumors have resurfaced—the gubernatorial ones, of course. Reid Wilson reports that Schock, whose supporters have previously pooh-poohed the notion that he might run for governor in 2014, met with top RGA officials to discuss exactly that possibility. (Both the RGA and Schock are not commenting.) Is the world ready for a governor born in the 1980s?
• MT-Gov: Two polls suggest that Montana's gubernatorial race—much like its Senate race—is still anyone's game. Mason-Dixon, on behalf of Lee Newspapers, finds Republican ex-Rep. Rick Hill leading Democratic AG Steve Bullock, 49-46 (with the Libertarian at 2); that's reversed from a 44-43 Bullock lead in their previous poll in September. Given the state's GOP lean, Bullock needs to win among indies, but they find Hill leading among independents, 46-41.
Mason-Dixon has been generating fairly strong GOP house effects this cycle, so you might mentally adjust that poll a smidge... but on the other side of the coin, there's also a new Dem internal (probably intended to push back against the M-D poll) that seems a bit on the optimistic side. A poll for the DGA from the Mellman Group puts Bullock ahead 47-40, with the Libertarian at 3. They find Bullock winning indies by 10, and maybe more importantly, up 20 among early voters. If you throw them on the pile to get averaged out, well, you've still got a pure Tossup, which is basically how the race has been all cycle. (David Jarman)
• GA-12: A poll from Democratic pollster 20/20 Insight, on behalf of a group called Better Georgia, finds Dem Rep. John Barrow with a 50-44 lead over Republican Lee Anderson, including leaners. That's a remarkable position for Barrow to find himself in, given how badly his seat was jacked in redistricting, but it buttresses other evidence we've seen lately (and evidence we haven't seen, like any fresh Anderson internals) that he's got a legitimate shot at surviving into the 113th Congress. (By the way, Better Georgia is officially non-partisan, but it's an affiliate of the leftyish group ProgressNow, whose other state-level partners include organizations like the Courage Campaign in California and One Wisconsin Now.)
• NH-01, NH-02: Does every small northeastern college need its own polling operation? Now New England College (not to be confused with Massachusetts's Western New England University) is getting into the game with a poll of its home state. They deliver a split verdict on the state's two Tossup House races: they find GOP incumbent Frank Guinta leading Carol Shea-Porter in their rematch, 48-41. However, they find Dem challenger Annie Kuster leading GOP incumbent Charlie Bass in the 2nd district, 47-41. Top of the ticket, they have Barack Obama leading statewide 50-44. (David Jarman)
• OK-02: Data has been very sparse out of Oklahoma's 2nd Congressional District, where Team Blue faces a very difficult job of retaining retiring Rep. Dan Boren's open seat in this classic "Demosaur" area. But we finally have our first poll, from Soonerpoll.com, which unsurprisingly puts Republican plumbing company owner Markwayne Mullin ahead of Democratic former prosecutor Rob Wallace, 45-33. The high undecideds with just days to go are a bit odd, but given how conservative this region is (McCain won it 66-34), that's of no help to Wallace.
• SD-AL: One last poll of South Dakota from Neilson Brothers shows (as with most of their previous polls) the state's at-large House race within single digits, but without much of a path to victory for Dem challenger Matt Varilek. Varilek trails GOP frosh Kristi Noem 50-44, little changed from Noem's prior 49-44 edge. Top of the ticket, Barack Obama trails Mitt Romney 50-42, but there's an interesting number at the bottom of the ticket: Matt McGovern (the grandson of the recently-deceased former presidential nominee and senator George McGovern, whom you might remember was floated as a potential Democratic SD-Sen candidate in 2010) is leading Republican incumbent Public Services Commissioner Kristi Fiegen, 45-39. (David Jarman)
• UT-04: Too much pizza seems to have done in Jim Matheson's chances. (I'm referring to the state GOP's decision to roll the dice on a "pizza" map that tried to dislodge Matheson, the state's lone House Dem, rather than the "donut" map that would concede him a seat.) Mason-Dixon, on behalf of the Salt Lake Tribune, finds Republican challenger Mia Love leading Matheson 52-40 in their first poll of this race. Matheson has traditionally relied on a lot of Republican crossover to keep him in place, but the poll finds he's only getting 9% of the Republicans in the sample. The article mentions some vague pushback from Matheson's camp in the form of an internal claiming a 2-point lead for the incumbent; there's no link to the poll in the article, though, and at any rate, the disparity between a 2-point lead in an internal and a 12-point deficit in a public poll shouldn't be much comfort to Matheson fans. (David Jarman)
• NY-St. Sen: Siena has another trio of state Senate polls, and the results are quite interesting. Democrats have apparently been unable to capitalize on the strange situation in SD-43 (there are always strange situations in New York senate races), where GOP Sen. Roy McDonald lost his primary because of his support for gay marriage but remains on the Independence Party's line. But Republican nominee Kathy Marchione is out in front with 40 percent, while McDonald (who isn't campaigning) still takes 29 and Democrat Robin Andrews is mired in third at 25 in this upper Hudson Valley seat.
But SD-46 is more compelling. This is the brand-new 63rd seat that Republican cartographers controversially added to the Senate map in the Albany area, which was expected to be a lock for them to pick up. However, Republican Assemblyman George Amedore leads Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk by just a 47-44 margin. It's still a longshot for Dems, but that the race is so close is still something. One possible reason it is: George Soros's PAC has been spending big here, with $250K worth of ads mostly backing the idea of public campaign financing.
Finally, Democratic fortunes have improved greatly in SD-55, based mostly in upstate Monroe County.) Democrat Ted O'Brien is now beating Republican Assemblyman Sean Hanna 50-39, whereas just a month ago, Hanna led 47-39. (This seat is open because GOP Sen. Jim Alessi decided to retire after voting in favor of same-sex marriage.) If you're inclined to mistrust that big swing, here's a good reason why you should favor the new numbers rather than the old: Deputy Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous, a Republican who heads his party's campaign efforts, just went on record saying that he "would concede that we are not winning that seat."
One more detail: Libous also says that Hurricane Sandy has made things a lot more difficult for Republican NYC Councilman Eric Ulrich, who is trying to unseat Dem state Sen. Joseph Addabbo in the GOP's lone realistic pickup opportunity in SD-15. The areas hardest hit by the storm in the Rockaways are more Republican-leaning (thanks, ironically, to a GOP gerrymander which moved Democratic precincts in the Rockaways into a different district), and Ulrich's wife also just gave birth. It sounds like Libous is ready to write this one off, too, as CapTon notes he said "he's proud the Senate GOP has managed to run a competitive race in the New York City district." A real moral victory, huh? Addabbo also says he's stopped campaigning due to the destruction, but on balance, that probably favors the incumbent.
• State Legislatures: I was a little too hasty in saying that Governing's Louis Jacobsen was the only handicapper in town when it comes to the oft-neglected realm of state legislatures; the always-comprehensive Ballotpedia also has ratings charts (and they, like Jacobsen, see the likely results as something of a wash for the two parties).
There's also a good piece about the battle for legislatures from state-level wonk Josh Goodman, writing for Pew's Stateline these days. It focuses on some of the neglected states where control of the chamber isn't at stake, but whether or not the in-power party can get over the hump to a supermajority. The biggest example of that, of course, is California, where getting over the 2/3rds mark in both chambers would help the Democrats break through decades of being stymied by an obstinate Republican minority. (David Jarman)