Republican Rep. Michael Grimm
• NY-11: There were a ton of polls released over the weekend, but one still managed to stand out from the crowd. Siena finds Republican Rep. Michael Grimm leading Democrat Domenic Recchia 53-34, a huge improvement from Grimm's already remarkable 44-40 lead in September.
When Grimm was indicted in late April for fraud, some Democrats imagined New York's 11th would be an easy pickup, particularly after Grimm's fundraising dried up to almost nothing and national Republicans showed no interest in helping him. It also didn't help that in late January, Grimm had threatened to "break" a reporter "in half" and throw him over the House balcony—all while cameras were rolling. On top of everything, this district went for Obama 52-47, and it looked like Grimm's fate was sealed. Yet here we are, with Grimm posting a 19-point lead on the eve of the election.
As we've noted before, Siena does not have a particularly good record, but Recchia's response to this poll seems to confirm that this time, they're not too far off the fairway. Not only did Recchia fail to release (or even hint at) better internal poll numbers of his own, he dismissed them by saying, "The only poll that counts is the poll on Tuesday."
We've long labeled this kind of language "loserspeak," and for good reason. As Nathan Gonzales wrote in an article on the topic, this declaration "means you are losing the race at the time and have no empirical evidence to the contrary." There is, however, one positive sign for Recchia: Early last week, the House Majority PAC announced a $1.7 million ad buy against Grimm. It's very unlikely they'd spend this much if they thought Grimm had anything resembling the kind of lead Siena just found, though we'll find out soon enough.
So how did Grimm go from looking like electoral roadkill to emerging as the favorite? As we've noted before, plenty of Staten Islanders believe Grimm when he says that the government is out to get him. This is an area that's full of voters who, rightly or wrongly, view themselves as neglected by their city, local, and national governments, and they're perfectly willing to view Grimm as the latest victim. Grimm and many of his constituents share the same chip on their collective shoulders, and the congressman has built a distinct cult of personality by stoking this resentment.
As unusual as this may seem, we saw something similar in Louisiana in 2006, shortly after Hurricane Katrina. Then-Rep. Bill Jefferson, a Democrat, faced a looming indictment on corruption charges, and voters knew it. Yet to many New Orleanians who had watched their government fail them during the storm, it looked like the feds were out to get Jefferson. Like Grimm, Jefferson was able to tap into this resentment, and he defeated a much better funded Democrat in the runoff. He only wound up losing a cycle later in an unusual low-turnout general election that took place in December.
Grimm very well may be about to pull off a similar feat, and it certainly helps him that Recchia is a very flawed candidate. Recchia started the race with a geographical disadvantage, hailing from Brooklyn rather than Staten Island; about 70 percent of voters in the 11th live on Staten Island, and plenty of them would prefer a local congressman over someone from the wrong part of the district—even if he's under indictment.
Recchia has also made a few notable gaffes, and his responses only made things worse. In a different swing district, Grimm's indictment might have rendered these flaws meaningless, but not here. Of course, Grimm could still get convicted and come under severe pressure to resign, but his trial is scheduled for after Election Day, far too late to help Recchia.
At this point, in spite of everything, Grimm has the advantage, so we're changing our race rating here from Tossup to Lean Republican.
• KY-Sen: Wow. This is seriously f*cked:
Mailed in envelopes that blare "ELECTION VIOLATION NOTICE" and state "You are at risk of acting on fraudulent information," the Kentucky Republican Party issued a letter that accuses Grimes of "blatant lies" about McConnell's advocacy for a local coal plant and his support from "anti-coal activists like Michael Bloomberg." The letter also takes Grimes to task for her support among "anti-coal and anti-gun" Hollywood celebrities and accuses her of hypocrisy in her call for an increased minimum wage because a restaurant owned by her family pays employees less than the minimum.
"This document serves as a notification to you, as a resident of Kentucky and a registered voter in the aforementioned Commonwealth, of fraudulent information that is being deliberately spread to voters in your area," the mailer reads.
"This information is provided as a public service," the letter concludes.
And get a load of how official-looking the mailers are!
What makes this extra-pathetic is that Mitch McConnell is leading in the polls, but, like Nixon, he's still resorting to dirty tricks to pad his margin. Disgusting doesn't even begin to describe it.
• Polling: Here's Johnny!
• AK-Sen: Rasmussen: Dan Sullivan (R): 47, Mark Begich (D-inc): 42 (Oct. 14: 48-45 Sullivan)
• AR-Sen: PPP (D): Tom Cotton (R): 49, Mark Pryor (D-inc): 41 (Sept.: 43-38 Cotton)
• GA-Sen: Landmark Communications (R): David Perdue (R): 47, Michelle Nunn (D): 47, Amanda Swafford (Lib): 3 (Oct. 24: 47-47 tie) (conducted for WSB TV)
• GA-Sen: Marist: Perdue: 48, Nunn: 44, Swafford: 3 (May: 45-41 Perdue)
• GA-Sen: Vox Populi (R): Perdue: 48, Nunn: 43, Swafford: 3 (July: 49-40 Perdue)
• IA-Sen: Anderson Robbins (D)/ Shaw & Company (R): Joni Ernst (R): 45, Bruce Braley (D): 44 (Sept: 41-41 tie) (conducted for Fox News)
• IA-Sen: CNN/ORC: Ernst: 49, Braley: 47 (Sept.: 49-48 Braley)
• IA-Sen: Ipsos: Braley: 45, Ernst: 45
• IA-Sen: Rasmussen: Ernst: 48, Braley: 47 (Oct. 13: 48-45 Ernst)
• IA-Sen: Selzer & Co.: Ernst: 51, Braley: 44 (Oct. 12: 47-46 Ernst)
• KS-Sen: Anderson Robbins (D)/ Shaw & Company (R): Greg Orman (I) 44, Pat Roberts (R-inc): 43 (Oct. 8: 44-39 Roberts) (conducted for Fox News)
• KY-Sen: Marist: Mitch McConnell (R-inc): 50, Alison Grimes (D): 41 (Sept.: 47-39 McConnell)
• KY-Sen: PPP (D): McConnell: 50, Grimes: 42 (Aug.: 44-40 McConnell)
• KY-Sen: SurveyUSA: McConnell: 48, Grimes: 43 (Oct. 20: 44-43 McConnell)
• LA-Sen: Marist: Bill Cassidy (R): 50, Mary Landrieu (D-inc): 45
• LA-Sen: PPP (D): Cassidy: 48, Landrieu: 47 (Oct.: 48-45 Cassidy)
• NC-Sen: Anderson Robbins (D)/ Shaw & Company (R): Kay Hagan (D-inc): 43, Thom Tillis (R): 42 (Sept.: 41-36 Hagan) (conducted for Fox News)
• NC-Sen: CNN/ORC: Hagan: 48, Tillis: 46 (Sept.: 46-43 Hagan)
• NH-Sen: Rasmussen: Jeanne Shaheen (D-inc): 52, Scott Brown (R): 45 (Sept.: 48-42 Shaheen)
• NH-Sen: UNH: Shaheen: 50, Brown: 42 (Oct. 8: 47-41 Shaheen)
• NH-Sen: Vox Populi (R): Brown: 49, Shaheen: 45 (Sept.: 47-43 Brown)
• OR-Sen: SurveyUSA: Jeff Merkley (D-inc): 53, Monica Wehby (R): 32 (Oct. 22: 53-32 Merkley)
• VA-Sen: Christoper Newport Univ.: Mark Warner (D-inc): 51, Ed Gillespie (R): 44 (Oct. 7: 51-39 Warner)
• VA-Sen: PPP (D): Warner: 49, Gillespie: 40 (Sept.: 48-35 Warner) (conducted for LCV)
• VA-Sen: Vox Populi (R): Warner: 44, Gillespie: 40 (conducted for the Daily Caller)
I'll say one thing for Vox Populi: One way or the other, they are going to be very easy to grade on everyone's post-election pollster scorecards.
Selzer's Iowa poll giving Ernst a 7-point lead made a huge splash when it was released on Saturday. As we've noted in the past, Selzer has a very good record in Iowa, though like any pollster they have had some missteps along the way. The good news for Democrats is that this poll is the only one to give Ernst a sizable lead in a long time. The bad news is that most independent polls give Ernst a consistent lead. Even a recent Democratic poll from Garin-Hart-Yang could only find a tie for Braley.
And Braley's reaction to this new Selzer survey also did not inspire much confidence. His camp released a memo critiquing the poll but didn't release any numbers of their own. Instead, they argued that the race was close but Braley's early vote lead and Democrats superior ground game would carry them to victory. However, as Taniel has noted, the Democrats' early vote lead is not as large as it usually is. Even if Selzer is completely wrong, Ernst does look to be in a better position.
SurveyUSA's last few polls have been much better for Grimes than pretty much anyone else's, showing her within striking distance or even winning. However, this new poll is more like what we've been seeing from other sources, giving McConnell a mid-single digit lead. Indeed, PPP and Marist are showing even more pessimistic numbers for her.
Note that both Louisiana polls are for the December runoff between Landrieu and Cassidy. Both pollsters tested the Tuesday jungle primary between those two candidates, plus tea partier Republican Rob Maness and a few minor candidates, and they found the same result everyone else has been finding for months: No candidate is anywhere close to taking the 50-percent-plus-one-vote mark they would need to win outright, so a Landrieu-Cassidy runoff is all but assured.
As for Pryor: Either he's a goner or we're about to see one of the biggest polling fails ever. Sadly, I'm not betting on option two.
• Polling: David Letterman!
• AK-Gov: Rasmussen: Bill Walker (I) 50, Sean Parnell (R-inc): 43 (Sept.: 47-42 Walker)
• AR-Gov: PPP (D): Asa Hutchinson (R): 51, Mike Ross (D): 41 (Sept.: 44-38 Hutchinson)
• CT-Gov: PPP (D): Dan Malloy (D-inc): 44, Tom Foley (R): 41, Joe Visconti (I) 6 (Oct. 6: 43-35 Malloy)
• FL-Gov: SEA Polling & Strategic Design (D): Rick Scott (R-inc): 46, Charlie Crist (D): 44, Adrian Wyllie (Lib): 4 (Oct. 29: 45-43 Scott) (conducted for unidentified businesses)
• FL-Gov: Univ. of Florida: Crist: 36, Scott: 36, Wyllie (Lib): (Oct. 15: 40-40 tie)
• GA-Gov: Landmark Communications (R): Nathan Deal (R-inc): 48, Jason Carter (D): 46, Andrew Hunt (Lib): 4 (Oct. 24: 48-45 Deal)
• GA-Gov: Marist: Deal: 48, Carter: 43, Hunt: 3 (May: 50-40 Deal)
• GA-Gov: Vox Populi (R): Deal: 49, Carter: 42, Hunt: 3
• KS-Gov: Anderson Robbins (D)/ Shaw & Company (R): Paul Davis (D): 48, Sam Brownback (R): 42 (Sept.: 45-41 Davis) (conducted for Fox News)
• ID-Gov: PPP (D): Butch Otter (R-inc): 49, A.J. Balukoff (D): 37, others candidates: 10 (Oct. 14: 39-35 Otter)
• IL-Gov: We Ask America (R): Pat Quinn (D-inc): 50, Bruce Rauner (R): 45 (Oct. 12: 44-41 Quinn) (conducted for the Illinois Observer
• MA-Gov: PPP (D): Charlie Baker (R): 46, Martha Coakley (D): 42 (Sept. 2013: 51-38 Coakley)
• MA-Gov: SocialSphere: Baker: 44, Coakley: 37 (Oct. 24: 44-35 Baker)
• MA-Gov: Western New England Univ.: Baker: 46, Coakley: 41 (Sept.: 44-43 Baker)
• MA-Gov: YouGov: Coakley: 47, Baker: 44 (Oct. 6: 48-44 Coakley) (conducted for UMass Amherst)
• NH-Gov: Vox Populi (R): Walt Havenstein (R): 47, Maggie Hassan (D-inc): 44 (Sept.: 47-43 Hassan)
• NH-Gov: Rasmussen: Hassan: 51, Havenstein: 42 (Sept.: 51-40 Hassan)
• OK-Gov: SoonerPoll.Com: Mary Fallin (R-inc): 48, Joe Dorman (D): 40 (Oct. 6: 50-36 Fallin)
• OR-Gov: SurveyUSA: John Kitzhaber (D-inc): 50, Dennis Richardson (R): 40 (Oct. 22: 51-38 Kitzhaber)
• PA-Gov: Magellan (R): Tom Wolf (D): 50, Tom Corbett (R-inc): 43 (Oct. 17: 49-42 Wolf)
• PA-Gov: Muhlenberg College: Wolf: 51, Corbett: 39 (Sept.: 54-33 Wolf)
• WI-Gov: PPP (D): Scott Walker (R-inc): 48, Mary Burke (D): 47 (Oct. 21: 47-46 Walker) (conducted for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin)
On Sunday, the conservative Visconti dropped out of Connecticut's gubernatorial race and endorsed Foley, though his name will remain on the ballot
. However, PPP found that Malloy would maintain his 3-point edge even without Visconti. On the other hand, a recent Quinnipiac poll found the race going from a tie to a 1-point Foley lead
if Visconti dropped out. With Visconti backing Foley, his small group of supporters could break to the GOP at a greater rate than either poll indicates, and that could make all the difference in this tight contest.
Idaho was fun while it lasted, but it looks like the Gem State's red hue will carry Otter to another term. The last PPP poll gave the governor only a 4-point edge but found Otter with more room to grow than Balukoff, and indeed, in the last few weeks, undecided voters appear to have overwhelmingly broken for the incumbent. The one good sign for Democrats is that the RGA was still airing ads here as late as last week, which may indicate that they don't think Otter has this race locked up. Even so, it would be a massive shock if Otter goes down.
Overall, this batch of polling doesn't bring much good news for Democrats, but one diamond in the rough comes from Illinois, where WAA finds Quinn up by 5. WAA has traditionally favored Republicans, sometimes to the point of absurdity, so it is a good sign that even they give Quinn a tangible edge. (Note, however, that WAA did not allow respondents to say they were undecided, something the firm typically does with their final polls.) Over the summer WAA was incredibly bullish for Rauner, finding him with a double-digit lead as late as August.
Over the past few months, however, Quinn has closed the gap, with recent polls showing him often in the lead (and at most down 2 points). In fact, this is Quinn's best poll since an APC Research survey showed him up 11 in mid-September (that poll was almost certainly an outlier, especially since their most recent one gave Rauner a 2-point edge). We'll see how things go Tuesday but it looks like Quinn could pull this off after being left for dead over the summer.
After several turbulent weeks, SocialSphere's final poll lands on a 7-point margin for Baker, about what their last survey showed. While most other pollsters haven't been quite as bullish for Baker, he seems to have opened up a consistent lead against Coakley. Aside from a Democratic internal, YouGov has been the only pollster to show Coakley ahead recently.
The Oregon gubernatorial race is ending where it started: With Kitzhaber easily ahead. A few weeks ago, news broke that Kitzhaber's fiancée was once involved in a sham green card marriage, earning the governor some bad headlines. On behalf of KATU-TV, SurveyUSA conducted a poll that seemed to show little-known Republican state Rep. Dennis Richardson surging into a double-digit lead. But there was a twist: SurveyUSA only polled people who were closely following the story (see Steve Singiser for more).
Unfortunately for Beaver State Republicans, just because a few people follow a story does not automatically grant you more votes. This new poll takes a look at a much more representative sample and finds Kitzhaber's numbers have not moved in any meaningful way, and he's still poised to win without much trouble.
Last Wednesday, a survey from the respected Marquette Law School's polling operation found Scott Walker opening up a surprisingly strong 7-point lead against Mary Burke. State Democrats are pushing back, with a PPP poll giving Walker only a 1-point edge. Taken at face value, this isn't bad at all for Burke: PPP is a good pollster and a 1-point deficit is far from irreversible. But as we've noted before, it's never a good sign when the best poll partisans release still shows their side down this close to the election.
And the crosstabs don't have the most encouraging news for Team Blue, either. Walker posts a 49-47 approval rating, while Burke has a 45-48 favorable score. Neither candidate is exactly beloved or reviled by the whole state, but in a race as polarizing as this, Walker's slightly better rating could make all the difference.
• AZ-02: Here's a funky-smelling tea leaf from southern Arizona: The state GOP is sending out last-minute Halloween-themed mailers attacking Democratic Rep. Ron Barber for allegedly supporting Paul Ryan. Yeah, you read that right. The text claims that Barber voted for the "terrifying Ryan budget" that cut veterans' pensions and food stamps, but Barber never voted for the infamous Ryan plan. Rather, the mailer refers to a bipartisan bill authored by Ryan and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray that rolled back some of the more egregious cuts of the absurd budget "sequestration."
As Vox explains, the deal did have some unpleasant cuts and the mailer's specifics are actually correct. However, to see Republicans attacking one of their leading lights (and their most recent vice-presidential nominee!) in this way smells of desperation. Ever since his narrow victory over Martha McSally in 2012, Barber's looked very vulnerable in his re-election rematch. But a recent Republican poll found up him 2 points, and perhaps this Hail Mary is confirmation that the GOP no longer thinks this seat is as sure a pickup as it once appeared to be.
• Polling: I'm Mike Wallace, I'm Morley Safer, and I'm Ed Bradley. All this and Andy Rooney tonight on 60 Minutes!
• GA-12: Landmark Communications (R): Rick Allen (R): 48, John Barrow (D-inc): 44
• MA-06: Øptimus (R): Richard Tisei (R): 42, Seth Moulton (D): 41, Chris Stockwell (I): 12 (Oct. 29: 38-36 Tisei) (conducted for New Majority for Massachusetts)
• NY-01: Siena: Lee Zeldin (R): 50, Tim Bishop (D-inc): 45 (Sept.: 51-41 Bishop)
• NY-11: Siena: Mike Grimm (R-inc): 53, Domenic Recchia (D): 34 (Sept.: 44-40 Grimm)
• NY-18: Siena: Sean Maloney (D-inc): 49, Nan Hayworth (R): 44 (Sept.: 50-42 Maloney)
• NY-21: Harper (R): Elise Stefanik (R): 47, Aaron Woolf (D): 33, Matt Funiciello (G): 14 (Oct. 1: 45-37 Stefanik) (conducted for Stefanik)
MA-06 continues to baffle. On the one hand, Democrats aren't acting like it's competitive: They've pulled out of the district and have released polls showing Moulton easily winning
. However, GOP polls like this Øptimus survey show Tisei narrowly ahead, and well-funded Republican groups have been spending of Tisei's behalf. The only unaffiliated pollster to take a look here has been the Emerson College Polling Society, and they've shown Tisei with a small lead. It looks like come Tuesday, one side is going to be wide of the mark.
The trendlines in NY-01 are very disturbing for Bishop, who looked surprisingly hale in Siena's first poll. But Siena's numbers have gone south for congressional Democrats (or contenders) across New York, and give how swingy the 1st District is, it's very possible the bottom has finally dropped out for Bishop. However, give his campaign some credit: In responding to the poll, they didn't offer alternative numbers but simply said that Bishop "has a history of winning close races," which is certainly true and at least doesn't sound like loserspeak.
Meanwhile, NY-21 hasn't looked good for Democrats since Rep. Bill Owens called it quits, and this new survey isn't any better. Harper and Siena are the only two groups to release numbers and even if you aren't inclined to trust either, it's telling that neither Woolf nor his allies have leaked anything to counter their ugly findings. National Republicans went after Woolf for a while but seem to have already declared victory; Democrats, conversely, haven't spent much defending him. Barring a massive surprise Tuesday, it's hard not to see this swingy but ancestrally red seat returning to the GOP fold after five years of Democratic control.
• Ads: It's no secret that television viewers in battleground states can expect to be bombarded with campaign ads. However, the National Journal takes a look at the group that's really suffering: local companies that can't afford to advertise during election season. Campaigns and outside groups are willing to pay top dollar to get as many spots on the air as they can, and that's left little time left for businesses to reserve airtime.
Campaigns can also fall victim to being frozen out. In Alaska, both sides were expecting a competitive Senate race from day one, and they devoured all the ad time they could get. However, Republican Gov. Sean Parnell was not prepared for a real race, but since September, he's been fighting for his political life against independent Bill Walker. By the time Parnell wanted to purchase the ads he needed, he found that there just weren't many slots available. Sometimes, it just pays to plan ahead.
• Babka: Do you want babka? You want babka. Enter the Daily Kos Elections 2014 prediction contest and match your prognostication skills against the entire community's. The winner, of course, will receive delicious babka from Green's Bakery, so get guessin'!
• Polltopia: One thing is certain about election day: A fair number of pollsters will have egg all over their faces. But how will the polling averages do? A look back at close Senate and governor election results compared to polling averages over the past 10 years shows us where the errors are most likely to occur: Generally, polling averages were more likely to underestimate Democratic performance, and errors were higher when there were too few polls in the polling average. What's more, the direction of the errors was related to the partisan lean of the state. But most importantly for this year, errors were much higher when third party candidates took more than a sliver of votes—and polls indicate that will happen a lot this year.
• Senate: The New York Times' Upshot has been aggregating Senate projections from a number of modelers and prognosticators, and they've added a cool new tool based on all the data they've collected. Now you can see each forecaster's trendlines, including those from the Daily Kos Election Outlook, for the 11 most interesting races.
For the most part, there's a general consensus about these contests, but one where Daily Kos differs is Georgia. That's because, as we've explained in the past, we're currently giving Democrat Michelle Nunn a zero percent chance of winning any possible runoff. However, if there is a runoff, we'll re-launch our model with any new polling data that emerges.
Ads & Independent Expenditures:
Once more unto the breach, dear friends.
• AR-Sen: The National Organization for Marriage goes after Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, accusing him of secretly supporting same-sex marriage.
• GA-Sen: Republican David Perdue is the latest Republican to invoke Ebola in his ads.
• CA-21: The Latino Victory Project highlights Democratic Amanda Renteria's humble origins.
• MA-09: American Unity PAC seems serious about giving Republican John Chapman a last-minute boost in his longshot race against Democratic Rep. Bill Keating. They're spending $307,000 on his behalf—not a monster sum, but not nothing.
• NV-04: Normally we don't pay much attention to radio spots, but this is a weird story. With weak Democratic early vote turnout putting Rep. Steven Horsford at risk in this 55-44 Obama seat, the president just recorded a radio ad to help. In an odd twist, Republican Cresent Hardy is paying to play that exact same message, but only in rural areas of the district. Most of the 4th District is located around suburban Las Vegas, with Clark County casting 88 percent of the vote in 2012. Hardy is hoping he can use this spot to juice turnout among the other 12 percent of the district, where Obama has never been popular.
• NY-04: It's been a long time since anyone paid any attention to this open Democratic district, where Kathleen Rice is the heavy favorite against Republican Bruce Blakeman. However, a Republican group called Independent Majority Group is stepping up at the last minute though, and spending $450,000 for Blakeman. That's not very much in the New York market, but it's something.
• WI-Gov: Bill Clinton speaks to the camera and vouches for Democrat Mary Burke.
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, with additional contributions from Jeff Singer, David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Taniel, and Dreaminonempty