● KY-01: Uh, wow. Republican Mike Pape just laid claim to the most offensive campaign ad of 2016, and it's not even close. You're really just going to have to watch it:
The ad features three "Mexican" men, complete with bogus mustaches and accents, cutting their way through a fence marked "U.S. Border Do Not Cross" in the middle of the night. They then reveal their dastardly plan (in English, of course):
Man #1: Once through, we'll stop Donald Trump!
Man #2: Si! And Ted Cruz, too!
Man #3: And Señor Mike Pape!
Man #1: Who?
Man #3: Mike Pape!
Man #2: [holding out roll of duct tape] Tape?
Man #3: Pape! Mike Pape! The conservative running for Congress who will help Trump build the wall!
Man #2: Will this Mike Pape help Ted Cruz repeal Obamacare?
Man #3: Si!
Man #2: We must stop Mike Pape!
Man #1: [having cut through fence] Vamonos!
What can we say, except that in a GOP primary, it'll probably work? Pape, a former longtime district director for retiring Rep. Ed Whitfield, faces a better-funded opponent in former state Agriculture Secretary James Comer for this dark red open seat, but an ad like this is maximized to garner attention (it's already received national coverage). There's also a third candidate running here, Hickman County Attorney Jason Batts, and we estimate that Trump carried the 1st District by roughly a 40-35 margin over Ted Cruz in Kentucky's March caucuses. So that means a contender who aligns himself as closely with The Donald as Pape is doing could achieve victory with a similar plurality. Ugh, let's hope not.
● CO-Sen: Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet's second TV ad features a series of Coloradans wearing mortar boards, talking about how they graduated college "long ago" but still face considerable student loan debt. Bennet then appears on screen to say he's "fighting for a law that would allow people to refinance their student loans, just like you can a car loan, or a home loan." While less strictly local in focus than his first ad (which recounted his work to help beer brewers continue selling their spent grain to farmers), Bennet once again is avoiding the truly hot-button national issues in what looks like an effort to sell himself as Mr. Common Sense.
● FL-Sen: Wealthy Republican businessman Carlos Beruff got a late start on his bid for Senate, but he's already spent a bunch of money airing TV ads around the state. However, while the $1.5 million he's reportedly shelled out might sound like a lot, it's not all that much when you consider Florida is now the nation's third most-populous state, and its residents are spread out across 10 different media markets. And while none of the other contenders in the GOP primary is all that well-known, Beruff has never held office before, so he starts with essentially zero name recognition.
That's why Beruff is running yet another ad, which fits in with his previous theme of selling himself as a jerkish, Trumpian outsider. In his latest spot, Beruff recites a few desultory boilerplate lines, then turns to the camera and declares, "The experts want me to read a bunch of political crap off this teleprompter." At that point, he offers what is instead supposedly a heart-felt diatribe against Barack Obama and "worthless" Washington politicians who "make America weaker." But Beruff is no natural, and his delivery comes off entirely scripted … as though he's reading from a teleprompter.
● GA-Sen: If wealthy Democrat Jim Barksdale is going to have the slightest chance against GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson, he's going to need to spend a lot of his own cash. Barksdale got into the race in March and raised almost nothing from donors, but he lent his campaign $1.1 million, and he has that much on-hand. Isakson himself has $5.9 million in the bank. Georgia is still a conservative state and Isakson doesn't appear to have made many enemies during his two terms. If the political climate is good for Democrats this fall and Barksdale is willing to keep writing himself big checks then maybe he can make some headway, but that's a lot of ifs. Daily Kos Elections rates this as Safe Republican.
● MD-Sen: A new independent poll of Maryland's Democratic primary for Senate finds Rep. Chris Van Hollen with the biggest lead he's ever had. The survey, from Monmouth, gives Van Hollen a wide 52-36 lead on Rep. Donna Edwards—bigger than the 42-33 margin PPP showed just the other day, and far bigger than the 45-40 edge Van Hollen had in his own internal a few weeks ago. While Monmouth hasn't polled here previously, the Huffington Post Pollster average now shows Van Hollen with a sizable 47-36 advantage with less than a week until Election Day.
However, Edwards' number one ally, EMILY's List, is not giving up the fight. EMILY's closing spot returns to positive themes, following weeks in which the race had turned sourly negative. In a message very similar to that used in EMILY's first introductory ad for Edwards, a narrator says the congresswoman "knows what it's like to struggle," saying she was "without a place to live" after divorcing and went "without health insurance to put food on the table." But, says the narrator, Edwards "persevered" and "put that strength to work for us" by tackling domestic violence and the NRA. The final tagline is a good one: "Powerful interests don't want Democrat Donna Edwards. That's a powerful reason why we do." According to Baltimore Sun reporter John Fritze, the buy is for $500,000. That would take EMILY's total investment in the race to just about $3 million.
● NH-Sen: The notoriously unreliable University of New Hampshire has a new poll of the Granite State's Senate race, but at least this time, their new numbers look a lot like all the other data we've seen so far, including UNH's prior survey from February. UNH finds GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte edging Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan by just a 43-42 margin, just a small change from Ayotte's 45-41 advantage in the school's previous poll. And in the very unlikely event that Ayotte loses her primary to little-known challenger Jim Rubens, Hassan would beat him 46-30.
● PA-Sen: On Thursday, Franklin & Marshall released a new poll of Pennsylvania's Democratic Senate primary that sharply contradicts a Monmouth survey from just a day earlier that found the contest tied at 39 apiece. Instead, F&M continues to see ex-Rep. Joe Sestak leading former state cabinet secretary Katie McGinty, by a margin of 38-29 among likely voters.
In response, McGinty shared an internal poll with Politico Pro, but since it's behind their paywall, all we know are the supposed toplines, which have McGinty ahead 37-34. (We've asked the campaign for the name of the pollster, the field dates, and the sample size but have not heard back.) A super PAC supporting Sestak called Accountable Leadership fired back in turn with a poll of its own from Prism Surveys that looks a lot like F&M's, giving Sestak a 38-31 lead.
F&M, though, is a notoriously balky pollster. Their most frequent failing is their huge numbers of undecideds. Indeed, in their last poll, taken just a month ago, they had Sestak in front 31-14, with fully 46 percent of respondents saying they hadn't made up their minds, a much higher proportion than other outfits have ever found in this race. F&M's latest numbers don't suffer from quite the same issue (here, "only" 25 percent are undecided), but Nate Cohn notes another problem: The sample appears to be far too old.
That might explain why F&M shows Hillary Clinton leading Bernie Sanders, who has done very well with younger voters, by a 58-31 spread in the presidential race, whereas Monmouth, which had a more balanced sample age-wise, had Clinton up by a smaller 52-39 margin. It's hard to say which school is right, though, since there hasn't been much fresh polling out of Pennsylvania, and presidential numbers weren't included with either of the two internal polls. But we'll finally have our answers soon enough.
● FL-02, Gov: After redistricting transformed Democratic freshman Gwen Graham's competitive seat into a safely red district, she didn't have many good options for 2016. A federal court recently upheld the new district lines and fellow Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown announced that she would run for the nearby 5th District. Graham had previously committed not to run against Brown, so it was no surprise that on Thursday, Graham announced that she would not seek re-election to the House.
However, we probably will see Graham's name on a ballot very soon. Graham has been talked up as a potential 2018 gubernatorial candidate for a while and Graham acknowledged on Thursday for the first time that she is "seriously considering" doing it. Graham only represents a small portion of the state but she's the daughter of ex-Sen. Bob Graham (himself a former governor), which should help her get her name out.
Graham's House account has a hefty $1.78 million in her House account as well. As we've noted before, it's not clear whether she could directly transfer that money to a state account. Graham could set up a super PAC and send her federal money there, though she wouldn't have any control over the PAC. Graham could also follow the lead of Republican Adam Putnam, who donated large sums to the Florida GOP in 2010 when he sought a promotion from the House to state agriculture commissioner.
However, Putnam faced no credible primary opposition when he sought statewide office, so it wasn't much trouble for the state GOP to spend the money to help him. Graham probably won't have a clear path to the Democratic nod though. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine, and state Sen. Jeremy Ring have all made noises about getting in, and there's still plenty of time for other ambitious Democrats to test the waters. Republican Gov. Rick Scott is termed-out and Putnam is emerging as the consensus Republican pick to succeed him.
● FL-04: While wealthy state Rep. Jay Fant was reportedly interested in running for this safely red seat, he's announced that he won't do it. Ex-Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford continues to look like the clear favorite.
● MI-01: Filing closed last week for Michigan's Aug. 2 primary, and the state has a list of candidates available here.
Republican Rep. Dan Benishek is leaving this competitive northern Michigan seat after three terms, and he's endorsed state Sen. Tom Casperson's campaign to succeed him. However, ex-state Sen. Jason Allen, who almost beat Benishek in the 2010 open seat primary, is running again. Neither candidate has emerged as a particularly strong fundraiser so far: At the end of March, Casperson held only a small $193,000 to $154,000 cash-on-hand lead even though he'd been in the race several months longer than Allen. Former Lt. Gen. Jack Bergman is also running and while he reportedly has some connections to conservative activists, he's reported raising no money so far.
Romney carried this seat 54-45, but Democrats are targeting it. National and state Democrats have consolidated behind ex-state party chair Lon Johnson, who has been a formidable fundraiser: At the end of March, he had a hefty $609,000 in the bank. 2014 nominee Jerry Cannon is running again, but he has very little party support and just north of $7,000 on-hand (and no, I didn't leave out a zero). Daily Kos Elections rates the general as Lean Republican.
● MI-06: Republican Rep. Fred Upton has represented the Kalamazoo area since 1987 and until last cycle, he never had much trouble winning re-election. However, Democrat Paul Clements, a college professor, attracted the attention of the group Mayday PAC, which spent big on his behalf in late 2014. Upton won 56-40, but Clements is running again. Romney only narrowly carried this seat and Clements has a notable $311,000 in the bank at the end of March. However, Upton has $1.3 million to spend, and the House Energy Committee chairman is capable of hauling in a whole lot more. If there's a Democratic wave things could get interesting, but for now, Daily Kos Elections rates this as Safe Republican.
● MI-07: Republican Rep. Tim Walberg sits in a 51-48 Romney seat that Democrats want to flip, and the national party sounds excited about state Rep. Gretchen Driskell. Driskell has proven to be strong fundraiser, and she outraised Walberg $316,000 to $227,000 during the first three months of the year, though the incumbent still holds a $1.2 million to $816,000 cash-on-hand edge. The DCCC added Driskell to their "Red to Blue" list a few months ago, a sign that they plan to make this race a top priority. Daily Kos Elections rates the general as Lean Republican.
● MI-08: Team Blue wants to target freshman Rep. Mike Bishop before he can become entrenched in this 51-48 Romney seat, but national Democrats don't sound as excited about this race as they do about the battle for the nearby 7th District. Former Screen Actor's Guild President Melissa Gilbert, who is best known for her role on the show "Little House on the Prairie," faces only minor competition in the Democratic primary.
Gilbert outraised Bishop $312,000 to $221,000 in the first three months of 2016, though Bishop has a $722,000 to $414,000 cash-on-hand edge. The DCCC added Gilbert to their "Emerging Races" list in February, an indication that, while they think she has potential, this isn't a top-tier contest yet. Bishop also has some ready-made attack lines to use against Gilbert. In recent years, she was hit with a pair of six-figure tax liens, and she defended Roman Polanski in 2009. Daily Kos Elections rates this as Likely Republican.
● MI-10: Republican Rep. Candice Miller is leaving behind this 55-44 Romney seat, and five Republicans are running to succeed her. Thanks to some generous self-funding, businessman Paul Mitchell's $1.45 million warchest is far larger than all his primary foes' put together. However, Mitchell only moved to this suburban Detroit state from Central Michigan just before he launched his bid, which probably won't play well. Mitchell ran for the 4th District last cycle and he dramatically outspent his primary opponents then too. However, he lost to now-Rep. John Moolenaar 52-36, and that was before anyone was accusing him of being a carpetbagger.
Mitchell's main primary foe looks like state Sen. Phil Pavlov. Pavlov represents a third of this seat in the legislature, which gives him a base to work with. Pavlov's $135,000 warchest isn't impressive, but it's a lot better than the $27,000 that state Rep. Tony Forlini has at his disposal. Ex-state Sen. Alan Sanborn, who left the legislature in 2010, is also in, but he has just $19,000 in the bank; we also have one Some Dude. Democrats are running ex-state Rep. Frank Accavitti, but Accavitti's political base is outside the district and he badly lost his 2012 primary campaign for Macomb County Commission. Daily Kos Elections rates this as Safe Republican.
● MI-11: Democrats haven't signaled that they plan to target Republican freshman Dave Trott in this 52-47 Romney suburban Detroit seat, but Team Blue has a candidate capable of some self-funding. Physician Anil Kumar, who narrowly lost the 2014 primary, has loaned his campaign $360,000 so far, and he has $342,000 on-hand. Trott has $592,000 in the bank but he's very wealthy can self-fund if he feels like it. Daily Kos Elections rates the general as Safe Republican.
● MI-13: Rep. John Conyers has represented Detroit since 1965, and it's tough to see him losing his primary in this safely blue seat. Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey is giving it a shot but she has just $20,000 in the bank. Conyers' $62,000 isn't massive either, but he definitely doesn't need to worry about getting his name out.
● NH-02: Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster hasn't emerged as much of a GOP target and at this rate, she never will. Ex-state House Majority Leader Jack Flanagan raised just north of $5,000 over the last three months, a very pathetic haul indeed. Businessman Jim Lawrence tells WMUR that he's thinking about getting in, but he doesn't look like he'll be a huge upgrade. Flanagan raised a total of $42,000 during his 2014 campaign and took only 19 percent in the primary. The filing deadline is June 10 so the GOP has a bit longer to look for a viable candidate but if they fail, this 55-45 Obama seat won't be anything more than an afterthought in the fall.
● NY-01: Filing closed last in New York for the June 28 primary. Democrats are planning to go after freshman Lee Zeldin in this eastern Long Island swing seat, but they have an expensive primary ahead of them first. Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst holds a $1.1 million to $907,000 cash-on-hand edge against venture capitalist David Calone. Throne-Holst also has the support of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and neighboring Rep. Steve Israel, while Calone has won over more local power players. Zeldin has the luxury of not needing to spend anything on his primary, and he's stockpiled $1.7 million so far. Daily Kos Elections rates this seat as Lean Republican.
● NY-03: Former DCCC head Steve Israel took everyone by surprise when he announced his retirement in January, and both parties are going to work hard to win his 51-48 Obama Long Island seat. Local GOP leaders helped clear the field for state Sen. Jack Martins, and he faces only minor opposition in the primary. Martins has $242,000 in the bank which is smaller than most of his potential Democratic foes, but he won't need to spend much of it to get the GOP nod.
The Democratic side is a lot messier, with four notable candidates duking it out. Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern hired several of Israel's old campaign staffers, which helps explain how his $445,000 warchest is larger than any of his opponents. Suffolk only makes up about a third of this seat, while half the population lives in Nassau County. However, if Stern can run the table in Suffolk while the three Nassau candidates split their county's vote, he'll have a good chance to win.
The best-known candidate right now is likely ex-Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, who boasts a $374,000 warchest. Suozzi has the support of Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, which could help him make inroads in the Queens part of the seat. However, there are plenty of Democrats who would rather not see Suozzi as their standard bearer. Suozzi lost re-election in 2009 in a complete surprise, and his 2013 comeback bid failed 59-41. North Hempstead Town Board member Anna Kaplan has $345,000 in the bank, while ex-North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman has a relatively modest $189,000 available. Daily Kos Elections rates the general as a Tossup.
● NY-13: Longtime Rep. Charlie Rangel's retirement has set off a crowded primary for this safely blue seat. Rangel hasn't publicly endorsed anyone, but there's little doubt that he favors Assemblyman Keith Wright, who also serves as Manhattan Democratic Party chair. At the end of March, Wright had $270,000 in the bank. Wright is also backed by state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a former Bronx Democratic Party leader.
State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who came close to beating Rangel in 2012 and 2014, is running again. Most of Espaillat's rivals are black, and Espaillat is hoping that he can win if he consolidates the district's large Dominican-American vote. However, Espaillat's longtime political rival Assemblyman Guillermo Linares is also running. Espaillat holds a large $244,000 to $77,000 cash-on-hand edge and represents a much larger constituency, but Linares also hails from the Dominican community and could cost him some critical support there.
Former DNC Political Director Clyde Williams has $252,000 in the bank, but he only took 10 percent in 2012 when he tried to unseat Rangel. Rangel himself recently blasted Williams as an outsider. Ex-Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV, the son of ex-Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., is making another bid for this seat as well; Powell challenged Rangel in 1994 and 2010, but the two have since become friendlier. Powell holds a smaller $107,000 warchest. Ex-diplomat Suzan Cook is the only woman in the field, but she has just $52,000 to spend.
● NY-18: Democratic Rep. Sean Maloney narrowly won re-election last cycle in this 51-47 Obama seat, but things are looking a lot better for him this year. Phil Oliva, a former top aide to Westchester County Rob Astorino, has the support of a number of Hudson Valley GOP power players, but that hasn't translated well into fundraising. At the end of March, Maloney held a $1.6 million to $65,000 cash-on-hand edge. Daily Kos Elections currently rates this seat as Likely Democratic.
● NY-19: Republican Chris Gibson is retiring to prepare for a likely 2018 gubernatorial bid, and both parties are hosting primaries for this competitive Hudson Valley seat. On the GOP side, ex-Assembly Minority Leader John Faso (who was Team Red's 2006 gubernatorial nominee) is mixing it up with businessman Andrew Heaney. Both candidates have plenty of money: At the end of March, Faso had a small $619,000 to $577,000 cash-on-hand edge.
The Democratic side is a duel between law professor Zephyr Teachout and Livingston Town Councilor Will Yandik. Teachout waged a quixotic primary campaign against Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2014 and did surprisingly well, and she decisively carried this area. This time around, Teachout seems to be that rare candidate who has the support from both powerful insiders like Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and outsider figures like Bernie Sanders.
As of the end of March, Teachout held a big $468,000 to $203,000 cash-on-hand edge; earlier this month, Sanders sent out a fundraising email to his massive email list for Teachout, and that likely has helped her widen the cash gap even more. However, Teachout only recently moved into this area full-time. Yandik is likely to work hard to make this a battle between a local and a New York City outsider, and if Teachout makes it past the primary, her GOP foe will almost certainly pick up where Yandik left off. Obama carried this seat 52-46, but Republicans still perform well here downballot. Daily Kos Elections rates this as Lean Republican.
● NY-21: While Obama carried this rural North Country seat 52-46, this area remains friendly to Republicans downballot. National Democrats are hoping to give freshman Republican Elise Stefanik a real challenge, and the DCCC recently added retired Col. Mike Derrick to their "Emerging Races" list. Stefanik, a former Bush White House aide, is well-connected, and she holds a strong $1.1 million to $225,000 cash-on-hand lead. Daily Kos Elections rates the general as Likely Republican.
● NY-22: Businessman Steve Wells is out with his first spot ahead of the GOP primary, and it looks like it was shot on location at Dunder Mifflin. The narrator characterizes Wells as a businessman outsider, as footage of Wells in an office building and a warehouse plays in the background. At the 17-second mark there's an interesting shot of the camera quickly zooming in on Wells as he gives a presentation in a conference room, which is a lot more dramatic than most things that ever happen in conference rooms. Sadly, the commercial does not actually end with Wells airing his innermost thoughts to the camera in the style of The Office.
Wells faces Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney and ex-Broome County Legislator George Phillips in the primary. The Democratic nominee is likely to be Broome County Legislator Kim Myers, though wealthy Independence Party nominee Martin Babinec could make things interesting in November. Romney narrowly carried this seat, and Daily Kos Elections rates it as a Tossup.
● NY-23: Republican Rep. Tom Reed came surprisingly close to losing in 2012 as Romney was carrying his upstate seat 50-48, though he easily won during the 2014 GOP wave. This time, Democrats are fielding John Plumb, a former member of the National Security Council whom the DCCC included on their "Emerging Races" list. Reed currently holds a $1.03 million to $367,000 cash lead. Reed is so far the only House Republican in a potentially competitive general election to endorse Donald Trump, which could cause him trouble if Trump drags down the GOP ticket in the fall. Daily Kos Elections rates the general as Likely Republican.
● NY-24: While Obama carried this Syracuse-area seat by a strong 57-41 margin, freshman Republican John Katko pulled off a strong 60-40 win during the 2014 GOP wave. This district should be a major Democratic target, and three candidates are running. Colleen Deacon, who ran Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's local office, has the support of her old boss and Sen. Chuck Schumer, while attorney Steve Williams is backed by ex-DCCC chair Steve Israel; college professor Eric Kingson is also in the mix.
However, none of the Democratic candidates are exactly rolling in money. At the end of March, Deacon led Williams $146,000 to $110,000 in cash-on-hand, while Nelson had just $44,000. By contrast, Katko has a strong $1.1 million banked. Hopefully, Democratic donors are just waiting for the primary to sort itself out before opening their wallets. Daily Kos Elections rates this as a Tossup.
● NY-25: In 2014, longtime Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter came within 583 votes of losing to little-known Republican Mark Assini in a Rochester seat that Obama carried 59-39. Assini is trying again, but GOP donors don't seem to think he'll be able to pull it off in a presidential cycle. Assini has just $47,000, which is only a bit more than he had at this point in 2014. Slaughter appears to be taking her close shave to heart though. She has $891,000 in the bank, a lot more than the $445,000 she had two years ago. Daily Kos Elections rates the general as Likely Democratic.
● PA-08: With just a few days left before Pennsylvania's Democratic primary in this swing seat, businesswoman Shaughnessy Naughton is now airing a negative TV ad against her opponent, state Rep. Steve Santarsiero, who recently began running his own attack ad going after Naughton. Naughton's spot brands Santarsiero an untrustworthy "Harrisburg politician" who admitted to falsely taking credit for helping to pass universal background checks for gun buyers and in fact never passed a single bill into law during his time in the legislature. It's a harder hit than Santarsiero's ad, which made only a vague process-based charge that it didn't bother to explain.
● Demographics: The rapidly-increasing Hispanic share of the electorate is one of the most important transformations happening in political demography, but it's a change that doesn't just explode into being one day (which seems to be what everyone keeps hoping for, and being disappointed by, with Texas). Instead, it shifts a little more each year as more Hispanics age into the electorate (and elderly whites, um, age out of the electorate).
Pew Research delves deeper into the overlap between race and age, and provides some interesting details about why it feels like it's taking so long: much of the "rising electorate" hasn't hit voting age yet! They find that nearly half (47 percent) of U.S. born Latinos aren't 18 years old yet. Overall, 33 percent of the total Latino population is under 18, but that reflects that immigrant Latinos tend to be quite a bit older. The median age of foreign-born Latinos is 41, but the median age of U.S.-born Latinos is 19.
They're also the youngest racial group in the U.S.; Latinos as a whole have a median age of 28, compared with 33 for blacks, 36 for Asians, and 43 for whites. Other fascinating details from Pew's study are that the vast majority of under-18 Latinos are proficient in English (87 percent speak it "very well," and 37 percent speak only English at home) … a sign of increasing mainstreaming into the broader culture, which is an important aspect of predicting voting behavior … and that the under-18 population is disproportionately more Mexican (69 percent) than previous generations of Hispanics (52 percent in the Silent Generation, which has a much larger Cuban share).
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir and Jeff Singer, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, and Stephen Wolf.