• AZ-Gov: State Treasurer Doug Ducey decisively won the nasty Aug. 26 Republican primary, but according a recent PPP survey for Progress Now Arizona, the experience left him with a 26-41 favorable rating. What Ducey could definitely use is a nice kumbaya moment with his former rivals, where they say some nice things about him and help him repair his reputation.
Only so far, that's not happening. Former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, former GoDaddy attorney Christine Jones, and Secretary of State Ken Bennett have each declined to endorse Ducey. They all even ducked the state GOP's unity breakfast on Thursday, which is usually where defeated primary candidates are expected to show up and help heal the party's wounds. None of them sound like they're adamantly opposed to endorsing him: All three said things along the lines of "We have some things we want to discuss first." But Democratic nominee Fred DuVal certainly won't complain if they drag things out a while longer.
• MI-Sen, Gov: EPIC-MRA recently released the gubernatorial portion of their survey for the Detroit Free Press, giving Democrat Mark Schauer a 45-43 lead over Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, and now we have the Senate half. They find Democratic Rep. Gary Peters leading Republican Terri Lynn Land 45-39. Peters posted a nine-point lead in EPIC-MRA's July poll, but this movement could very well just be noise. We recently took a look at EPIC-MRA's track record and found that they were decent, but had some notable misses in 2010. In any case, this result doesn't seem unreasonable: The HuffPost Model Estimate (which does not yet include this poll) has Peters up 46-42.
We also have a new survey of both races from Mitchell Communications, and they find things even closer. They give Snyder a 47-46 lead, and find Peters up 46-44. In early August, they found Snyder up 47-42, and Peters up 45-44. Apart from a very strange YouGov poll for the New York Times, Mitchell has consistently shown the Senate race closer than anyone else for the last few months. Given that even Land's campaign privately admitted that their best chance to win was for their candidate to stay out of trouble and hope for a GOP wave, it seems very hard to believe that Land could only be trailing by two points.
We wanted to take a look at Mitchell's pre-election polls, but they don't have many. In mid-October of 2010 they released a survey on behalf of the Detroit News giving Snyder a 52-32 lead over Democratic rival Virg Bernero. Snyder ended up winning 58-40, close to what Mitchell predicted.
In 2012 though, Mitchell stopped polling in late August. It's worth noting that their only 2012 poll from the U.S. Senate race that year, released in late August, found Republican Pete Hoekstra leading Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow 45-44. By that point in the race, almost every other public pollster found Stabenow with at least a high single digit lead: She ended up winning 59-38. Mitchell also constantly found a tight presidential race in the state throughout the summer. They weren't as alone on this one, but considering that during this time neither party made any serious moves in Michigan (and Obama ended up winning by nine points), it looks pretty likely that Mitchell was seeing a much closer race than there actually was.
As community member itskevin reminds us, Mitchell has shown some odd practices in the past. In 2012, the group weighed by demographics, pegging African Americans as only eight percent of the electorate. In the 2008 exit poll they made up 12 percent of voters but Mitchell's chief Steve Mitchell insisted that the exit polls were wrong. Given that Obama ended up winning the state by a much larger amount that Mitchell ever saw, it looks like it was Mitchell who was making the wrong assumption. It's unclear if Mitchell has changed his practices or not this time around.
Both these polls point to a very tight gubernatorial race, something we've been seeing for a while. The Senate race is a bit more uncertain: Both parties are still spending big here, and neither one seems to think that Peters has this locked up yet. Still, it seems likely that whatever lead Peters has is closer to what EPIC-MRA found than Mitchell.
• MS-Sen: On Friday, a judge threw out Chris McDaniel's challenge to the results of the June U.S. Senate Republican primary runoff. Judge Hollis McGehee dismissed the case, stating that McDaniel took 41 days to officially challenge the results, far outside the 20-day window allowed. There is some good news for McDaniel: The ruling does not make it any less likely that he will be sworn in as a U.S. senator in January. Of course, his odds of being declared the Republican nominee have been zero since the primary results came in but hey, it's something.
McDaniel is reportedly considering his options and will announce whether he will appeal or not on Tuesday. If he does press on, the case will go straight to the state Supreme Court. Regardless of what McDaniel does though, it looks like we're finally reaching the end here.
• NH-Sen: A new PPP survey on behalf on the League of Conservation Voters finds Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen with a 50-44 edge over Republican rival Scott Brown. Encouragingly for Team Blue, Shaheen is far more popular than Brown: She posts a 52-42 job approval rating while he's underwater with a 42-49 favorable rating. The undecideds did vote for Romney by a huge amount so Brown should have a bit of room to grow. However if this poll is right, Sheheen is already at the 50 percent threshold she needs to win.
While this poll is a bit better than the University of New Hampshire poll from a little while ago that showed Brown only down two points, it does indicate this race isn't a lock for Democrats. Both parties are continuing to air plenty of ads in this contest: New Hampshire is an expensive state to advertise in (most of its residents live in the very pricey Boston media market), so advertising here isn't a small commitment. Brown hasn't led in any publicly released poll since March, and it looks pretty clear that Sheheen has the edge. However, this poll only reinforces the idea that while Democrats are favored to keep this seat, the contest isn't over.
• SD-Sen: A few weeks ago, Democratic nominee Rick Weiland released a survey from PPP showing him losing to Republican Mike Rounds by only 39-31, a relatively small spread in a race that's largely been viewed as a guaranteed Republican pickup. Weiland was likely hoping that he could convince national Democrats to invest in this contest, but so far neither side has spent any real money here. For his part Rounds released his own poll in response, showing him up 49-25.
Weiland's trying again with another PPP poll, this time showing Rounds up only 39-33; Former Republican Sen. Larry Pressler, who is running as an independent, is at 17 percent. The memo argues that if Pressler's support collapses like many independent candidates do, Weiland will benefit. In a two-person race, Rounds only leads 45-42.
It's hard to believe that national Democrats wouldn't spend here if they were also seeing numbers like Weiland's. South Dakota is a pretty cheap state to advertise in and they would probably make some sort of investment if they thought Weiland had any shot. If Republicans felt that Rounds was in any trouble, they'd also likely get involved. We'll see if that changes, but so far it looks like the polls the DSCC and NRSC are seeing look a lot more like Rounds' than Weiland's.
• WV-Sen: Here's something you don't see very often: A poll of West Virginia Senate race! Unfortunately for Democrats, things still look bad here. The R. L. Repass & Partners poll, conducted on behalf of the Charleston Daily Mail, finds Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito leading Democrat Natalie Tennant 54-37. Their last survey from May found Capito up 49-38.
R. L. Repass & Partners doesn't have much of a track record: As far as we can tell, they never released a poll within a month of the election in 2010, 2011, or 2012. Still, what few polls there have been here have consistently shown Capito with a clear lead. There hasn't been much action in this race from outside groups either. In late July Senate Majority PAC spent $200,000 against Capito, which isn't an inconsiderate amount in a relatively inexpensive state like this. However, since then there hasn't been any real outside group spending here for either side. Conventional wisdom has long held that this race is a likely Republican pickup, and this poll and both parties' actions only reinforce that idea.
• MA-Gov: SocialSphere has been polling this race weekly on behalf of the Boston Globe and this time they've found something new: Republican Charlie Baker is leading likely Democratic nominee Martha Coakley. They have Baker up by one point at 38-37, an eight-point swing from the 41-34 Coakley lead they found a week ago.
So is Baker surging or is this just a bad sample? It's hard to tell. SocialSphere has shown some big swings before. In late July they had Coakley up only 39-36, before giving her a 38-33 lead the next week and a 42-32 edge a week after. A RGA front group called "Commonwealth Future PAC" has been spending a considerable sum of money on positive spots for Baker for the last few weeks, but they only began attacking Coakley days before this poll was finished. It's unlikely that the RGA's spending could suddenly cause a major swing after weeks of stasis.
The good thing about SocialSphere's weekly poll is that it's... well, weekly. We won't need to wait very long to see if Baker is making real gains or if this poll is just an outlier. With the Sept. 9 Democratic primary on the horizon, it's also a good bet we'll see some other pollsters in the field before not too long, and hopefully they'll ask about the general election. Massachusetts has certainly been willing to elect Republican governors in the past, and it's not at all inconceivable that Baker can make a race out of this. Still, we've said it before and we'll say it again: When a poll produces an eye popping result, the best thing to do is to wait for further confirmation before concluding that the race has shifted.
SocialSphere also took a look at the Sept. 9 Democratic primary, but there is no real change there. Coakley leads state Treasurer Steve Grossman 46-24, almost identical to her lead a week before. A recent Suffolk University poll had things much tighter with a 42-30 lead. With the primary almost here Grossman will undoubtedly start spending heavily, and we'll know soon enough if he can pull off a surge at the last-minute.
• WI-Gov: It's hard to call this a game changer, but this is not a good headline for Republican Gov. Scott Walker in his tight re-election contest: Wisconsin is expected to fall $281 million short of its revenue projections. One of the major points of contention in Wisconsin's tight gubernatorial race is the condition of the state economy. Walker has been arguing that things have been booming under his watch, while Democratic opponent Mary Burke is attacking Walker for disappointing job growth. It looks like Burke will have an easier time arguing that the governor has mismanaged the economy.
• NY-24: Republicans acknowledge that they'll have a hard time beating Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei in this 57 percent Obama district, but Team Red has been encouraged by former federal prosecutor John Katko's fundraising. Katko just aired his first ad highlighting his background.
One less savory part of Katko's career is a 2000 incident where his gun was stolen from his car and later used in a crime that left two people dead. Katko didn't break any laws, but a Justice Department review found that he had likely failed to store his gun safely, in possible violation of federal policies. For his part Katko is saying he has no regrets about his role in the matter. In any case, this is probably not the type of story Republicans want in a race where they need everything to go right to win.
Ads & Independent Expenditures (Jeff Singer):
• IA-Sen: Democrats have largely been ignoring some of Republican Joni Ernst's more extreme or utterly insane ideas, or just danced around them a bit. But this is a very good spot from the DSCC that goes after Ernst on one of her biggest potential vulnerabilities: Medicare.
The spot stars an Iowa senior accusing Ernst of wanting to cut Medicare and ending its guarantee. Ernst recently ran a spot where she promised to protect Social Security and Medicare for seniors, so she evidently saw this coming. We'll find out soon enough if Democrats are willing to keep zeroing in on her long list of insane ideas.
• KY-Sen: Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes stresses her accomplishments as secretary of state and as a volunteer lawyer for victims of domestic violence. It seems like it's part of a pushback against a recent spot from Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, where he argued that she had no accomplishments.
Senate Majority PAC is up with another negative spot against McConnell. There's no narration, just text attacking McConnell on outsourcing as a very slow version of "My Old Kentucky Home" plays. The message is fine but these "no narration spots" are often hard to pull off: Viewers are often barely paying attention while commercials are playing, and it's a lot to ask for them to sit are read along. The pro-GOP Kentucky Opportunity Coalition also drops another $118,000 here.
• MN-Sen: Republican Mike McFadden decides prove how frugal he is by recycling an old spot where his adult son describes how cheap the candidate is. The younger McFadden tells how when he needed his stitches taken out, his father was so horrified by the cost that he took scissors and did it himself. Apparently, that story is supposed to make McFadden more likable.
• NH-Sen: Ending Spending's recent ad against Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen was recently pulled from a Boston TV station for being... not exactly true. The spot cost the group $532,000. Mayday PAC also continues to throw money into the incinerator supporting long-shot GOP primary candidate Jim Rubens, laying down another $547,000 (here and here).
• MA-Gov: Don Berwick has largely been an afterthought in the expensive Democratic primary between frontrunner Martha Coakley and Steve Grossman. Berwick tries to change that by positioning himself above the fray in his new spot.