1:02 PM PT: Race Ratings:
Still making last-minute tweaks!
• NC-08 (Lean R to Likely R): Rep. Larry Kissell was the only Democratic incumbent who was formally triaged by the DCCC, and his chances certainly haven't improved since then. He put out three polls this cycle, each worse than the last, and conservatives decided to hammer the nail in the coffin with high six-figure spending on behalf of Republican Richard Hudson. A Kissell win would be a huge shock.
• MN-06 (Likely R to Lean R): Democrat Jim Graves has offered up multiple internal polls showing him just a couple of points back of GOP Rep. Michelle Bachmann, but his path to 50%+1 has always struck us as mighty hard in this decidedly red district. Indeed, a relatively SurveyUSA poll had the incumbent up about 10. But Bachmann's brand has taken some serious hits, particularly after her quixotic, failed presidential bid, and her particular... quirks... give Graves a better shot at an upset than mere demographics might normally dictate.
• NY-01 (Lean D to Tossup): Our rationale for changing our rating on NY-01 is very similar to what we offered on Monday for KY-06: After a spate of good early polling for Dem Rep. Tim Bishop, the data's stopped flowing. In fact, unlike in Kentucky, we've even seen a couple of Republican polls showing Randy Altschuler in the lead. But like KY-06's Andy Barr, Altschuler only barely lost in 2010, and with Obama's slide appearing to be more pronounced in non-swing states, that downward pressure on Bishop has us concerned.
• WA-10 (Like D to Safe D): Republican Dick Muri did pretty well to hold Dem Rep. Adam Smith to less than double digits in 2010. But he raised little this cycle and had no money left for the stretch run. Democrat Denny Heck has, by contrast, spent plenty, and this brand-new seat seems perfectly suited for him (so much so that no one bothered to challenge him in the primary).
1:13 PM PT: • NM-01 (Likely D to Safe D): Remarkably, Republican Heather Wilson (now making a second Senate run) actually held this 60% Obama seat until 2008. But after putting up two consecutive legitimate challengers the last two cycles, the GOP seemed to give up with Janice Arnold-Jones. She's been outraised 3-to-1 by Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham, and a raft of polls, both independent and internal, have shown MLG beating JAJ handily. The final margin may not be of blowout proportions, but it's basically impossible to see how Arnold-Jones has a path to victory.
1:38 PM PT: Our first liveblog thread will go up at 6pm ET, when polls start to close in Indiana and Kentucky.
2:31 PM PT: Our very last change, snuck in under the wire!
• NY-24 (Lean D to Tossup): NY-24 always struck us as a district that should be comparatively easy pickin's for Democrats, given GOP Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle's flukey, narrow win in 2010. But the polling has never reflected that initial impression, including Siena's last survey, which had the race tied at 44 apiece. A big problem for Maffei is Green Party candidate Ursula Rozum, who is biting into his left flank. While she probably won't take the 8 percent Siena showed her with, Rozum's certainly not what Maffei needs. Also bothersome is that Siena saw Obama's margin dropping from 19 points to just 9, in a district he won by 14 in 2008. Maffei still likely has a small edge: undecideds and faint-hearted Rozum supporters should break in his direction. But the fact that he didn't see any movement from Siena's prior survey (also tied in the low 40s) is a cause for concern.
P.S. You might ask why we're not also moving NY-27 from Lean R to Tossup: It's roughly as red as the 24th is blue, and Siena also showed a jump ball in that race, with Republican Chris Collins at 48 and Dem Rep. Kathy Hochul at 47. What sticks out, though, is that Obama also saw his margin drop here since Siena's last survey, suggesting the top-of-the-ticket tailwinds are weakening for Democrats across upstate New York. Collins also doesn't have to contend with a third-party spoiler from the right, as Maffei does from the left. If we used half-step ratings, we might call NY-24 "Tilt D" and NY-27 "Tilt R," but we don't, so we have to make final calls. Hochul could certainly surprise us and hang on, though, and if she does, it certainly wouldn't be the first time she's done so.
2:50 PM PT: Well, folks, that's it for the 2012 cycle Live Digests! Thank you for participating, and we hope you've enjoyed them. Our first liveblog thread will go up in about 10 minutes!