● Senate: The conservative group Senate Leadership Fund, which is close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has announced about $40 million in fall TV reservations. New Hampshire is getting the most cash, with $15.8 million going to boost Sen. Kelly Ayotte. As Andrea Drusch points out, the Koch brothers have refused to help Ayotte, so SLF is likely trying to fill the void.
The group has also announced that they've reserved $8.1 million in Ohio, $6 million in Nevada (the only Democratic-held seat on the list), $6.2 million in Pennsylvania, and $2.5 million in Missouri. While Florida was not included, SLF says they'll be spending heavily to help GOP incumbent Marco Rubio.
The Missouri investment is particularly notable. There haven't been many polls here, but GOP incumbent Roy Blunt looks like the clear favorite against Secretary of State Jason Kander in this conservative state. However, the GOP group One Nation recently spent $1.5 million on ads for Blunt, so this move doesn't come completely out of nowhere. But Democratic Senate groups haven't included the Show Me State in their fall reservations, and Hillary Clinton and her allies haven't shown much of an interest in targeting Missouri's 10 electoral votes yet. That may change, but it's interesting that the GOP is signaling that they're taking this race seriously, while Team Blue isn't yet.
● AR-Sen: While Donald Trump threatens to wreak havoc on the GOP in several Senate races, he's unlikely to be much of a drag in Arkansas. And sure enough, a new Talk Business/Hendrix College poll gives GOP incumbent John Boozman a 51-29 lead over Democrat Conner Eldridge. Back in February, Hendrix gave Boozman a much-stronger 68-23 edge, but he still has a lot of room for error in this conservative state. The same sample gave Trump a 47-36 lead over Hillary Clinton, so it's unlikely this poll is dramatically overestimating Boozman's standing.
● FL-Sen: The Republican firm Data Targeting takes a look at the August GOP primary, and they give Sen. Marco Rubio a massive 73-6 lead against businessman Carlos Beruff. Data Targeting, which did not identify a client, is a pollster we almost never hear from. The only other primary poll we've seen since Rubio entered the race was a Vox Populi survey for the pro-Rubio Senate Leadership Fund that gave the incumbent a 57-5 edge. Hopefully, we'll see some other numbers that'll give us a better indication if Rubio really has this lofty a standing with primary voters even after his 46-27 drubbing at the hands of Donald Trump in March. Beruff is very wealthy and he'll have the resources to get his name out and to attack Rubio. But Beruff will have a very tough task if Florida Republicans aren't actually open to replacing Rubio.
● Senate: On behalf of the liberal groups Americans United for Change and the Constitutional Responsibility Project, PPP surveys six Senate races. We've collected all the toplines below, along with PPP's most recent previous numbers for each race in parentheses:
AZ-Sen: Ann Kirkpatrick (D): 40, John McCain (R-inc): 42 (June: Kirkpatrick 43-41)
IA-Sen: Patty Judge (D): 39, Chuck Grassley (R-inc): 46 (June: Grassley 48-41)
NH-Sen: Maggie Hassan (D): 44, Kelly Ayotte (R-inc): 42 (June: Hassan 47-44)
OH-Sen: Ted Strickland (D): 39, Rob Portman (R-inc): 40 (June: Portman 46-42)
PA-Sen: Katie McGinty (D): 39, Pat Toomey (R-inc): 40 (June: Toomey 45-42)
WI-Sen: Russ Feingold (D): 50, Ron Johnson (R-inc): 37 (June: Feingold 51-41)
There haven't been any clear shifts in any of these six seats in the last few weeks, which isn't much of a surprise.
Other pollsters agree that the contests in New Hampshire and Ohio are currently very tight, while Democrats have a clear lead in Wisconsin. A recent Pennsylvania poll from Quinnipiac gave GOP Sen. Pat Toomey a strong 49-40 edge, while the Behavior Research Center recently had GOP Sen. John McCain up 40-31 in Arizona. No other groups have released numbers in months, so right now it's just PPP's polls against their polls. However, as we've noted before, both BRC and Quinnipiac kept their polls in the field for absurdly long periods of time, which can make it difficult to get an accurate reading.
As for Iowa, PPP is the only pollster that's released horserace numbers for this contest all cycle. This poll, like their last, finds longtime Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley with a lead, but not safely ahead of ex-Lt. Gov. Patty Judge. This survey gives Grassley just a 43-40 approval rating, which would give Democrats a huge opening here; back in December, PPP gave him a strong 53-33 rating. Grassley has never won re-election with anything less than 64 percent of the vote, so it's pretty notable if his edge is even down to the high single digits.
However, there hasn't been much outside spending here yet on either side, so both parties may have numbers that show Grassley in a stronger position. In any case, as we always caution, you should wait for other pollsters to confirm a surprising result rather than relying on one group. Still, if either party starts spending a credible amount of cash in Iowa, we'll know that they're taking this contest seriously.
● MT-Gov: The National Journal rounds up the financial reports for both candidates from the last month, and Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock holds a large lead over businessman Greg Gianforte. From May 28 and June 22, Bullock outraised Gianforte $1 million to $236,000, and he holds a $1.4 million to $132,000 cash-on-hand lead. Gianforte is wealthy but so far, he's poured just $379,000 of his own money into his campaign.
● VT-Gov: Ex-state Sen. Matt Dunne is out with his second spot ahead of the August Democratic primary. Dunne once again invokes Bernie Sanders, who hasn't actually endorsed any of the three candidates, and pledges to make Sanders' "vision a reality right here in Vermont." Dunne then calls for taking corporate money out of politics, raising the minimum wage, and getting "back on the path to universal health care." Dunne's campaign says the commercial is part of a six-figure buy, and it will air until Election Day.
● FL-01: State Rep. Matt Gaetz is launching a $170,000 ad buy ahead of the August primary for this safely red seat, and he's out with his first commercial. The spot takes footage of a Gaetz rally where he tells the assembled that he's running "because we can't trust Washington." As dramatic music plays, Gaetz goes on to denounce "spineless politicians" and "lawless bureaucrats," before the narrator pledges that Gaetz "will pass open carry, kill Muslim terrorists, and build the wall."
● FL-19: Ex-Secret Service agent and former Maryland congressional candidate Dan Bongino is out with his first TV spot in this safely red seat, and guess which part of his biography he focuses on? Bongino is seen driving a black car dressed in sunglasses and a suit, as some pictures from his time in the agency pass by. Bongino tells the audience that America's real threats are from "a weakened national security, amnesty, Obamacare," and he continues by proclaiming how "gutless politicians have stolen our money and our liberty, and I'm coming to take them back." Bongino delivers his message in a voiceover, so at least he's showing more regard for public safety than those candidates who talk to the camera while driving.
Bongino ends by stepping out of the car, dramatically taking off his sunglasses, and opening the passenger seat as a little girl (presumably his daughter), gets out, as Bongino says "it's not about me, it's about this." As Bongino walks her to school, the narrator closes by referring to Bongino as a "renegade Republican for Congress." "Renegade Republican" just sounds like an awful movie or a weird band. Bongino faces wealthy ex-Ambassador Francis Rooney and
attorney former Paul Ryan aide Chauncey Goss in the August primary.
● Los Angeles, CA Mayor: Mayor Eric Garcetti, a rising star in California Democratic politics, faces re-election next year. Garcetti doesn't appear to have done anything to alienate voters and he should be heavily favored, but he still will still face a notable opponent. Steve Barr, who founded a high-profile chain of local charter schools, filed to run this week, and he plans to make the condition of Los Angeles' public schools a major part of his campaign. As the Los Angeles Times points out, the mayor doesn't actually have any authority over the Los Angeles Unified School District, but that hasn't stopped other successful mayoral candidates from running on platforms to improve public education.
Barr joins Mitchell Schwartz, who ran Obama's primary and general election campaigns in California, in the March contest. If no one takes a majority, there will be a runoff in May. This will be the last time Los Angeles will elect a mayor in an odd-number year. In 2015, voters decided to move city elections to midterm cycles starting in 2022 and whoever wins in 2017 will serve a special five-and-a-half year term.
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir and Jeff Singer, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, and Stephen Wolf.