● FL-Sen, OH-Sen, PA-Sen: Quinnipiac's new presidential results presaged unpleasant Senate numbers for Democrats, and indeed, that's exactly what we got. But the important thing to note is that in every case, the findings are far more favorable for Republicans than the aggregate of all available polls, which is a much better metric to rely on. (As usual, we're relying on the HuffPost Pollster averages.) Here's what we mean:
FL: Marco Rubio (R-inc): 50, Patrick Murphy (D): 37; avg.: Rubio 43-39
FL: Marco Rubio (R-inc): 50, Alan Grayson (D): 38; avg.: Rubio 44-38
OH: Rob Portman (R-inc): 47, Ted Strickland (D): 40; avg.: Portman 42-40
PA: Pat Toomey (R-inc): 49, Katie McGinty (D): 39; avg.: Toomey 44-39
Is it possible that Quinnipiac is right and the bulk of pollsters are wrong? Certainly. But if that's the case, then you'd also have to accept, for instance, that Donald Trump leads Hillary Clinton 43-41 in Pennsylvania, even though every other poll taken this year has shown Clinton ahead. Maybe that's true, too, but that's an awfully precarious limb to climb out on.
There's another issue as well, and one we've raised before: Quinnipiac's extremely long field periods. All three surveys were conducted from June 30 through July 11, a stretch of 12 days. More typically, a horserace poll will go into the field for only three days, and with good reason. As the well-known maxim has it, a poll is a snapshot in time, and as with a camera, the longer your exposure, the blurrier your image gets.
And when you keep your lens open for nearly two weeks, breaking news developments can cloud the picture. That's especially so in this case, since FBI Director James Comey's decision not to recommend charges against Clinton over her handling of classified materials came right in the middle of Quinnipiac's field period. Did that announcement have an impact on the race? It's particularly difficult to say here, since respondents were queried for several days both before and after the story broke.
There's a reason why pollsters keep surveys in the field longer, and that's to make sure they secure a large enough sample to yield meaningful results. But the longer that takes, the more clarity you sacrifice. Quinnipiac isn't the only outfit to produce polls with long field periods, but it's uncommon, and it's always something you should be aware of when analyzing any results.
2Q Fundraising: In addition to the fresh numbers below, be sure to check out our complete chart of all Senate fundraising numbers to date. A House chart will follow after the quarterly reporting deadline on July 15.
● IA-Sen: Chuck Grassley (R-inc): $2 million raised, $6 million cash-on-hand
● LA-Sen: Charles Boustany (R): $1.08 million raised, $2.5 million cash-on-hand; Rob Maness (R): $163,000 raised, $207,000 raised; Abhay Patel (R): $300,000 raised
● OH-Sen: Ted Strickland (D): $1.9 million raised, $4 million cash-on-hand
● AZ-Sen: On Thursday, Gov. Doug Ducey endorsed Sen. John McCain ahead of the Aug. 30 GOP primary.
● CO-Sen: Come now Fox News with glorious polls for thy Democratic Party! Look, we don't get it either, but Fox, courtesy of Democratic pollster Anderson Robbins and Republican pollster Shaw & Company, finds Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet crushing his GOP challenger, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, by a hefty 51-36 margin, which is even bigger than the 48-35 lead Monmouth gave the incumbent earlier in the week. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, beats Donald Trump 44-34, which is slightly smaller than Monmouth's 48-35 margin, making this survey even harder to figure out. Unfortunately, Colorado's been polled very infrequently, so we have little data to compare any of this to. Guess we'll just have to wait a bit.
● IL-Sen: GOP Sen. Mark Kirk recently went up with an ad, which Politico says is "backed by a major six-figure buy," arguing that Democratic opponent Tammy Duckworth did a shoddy job running the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, and punished two employees who blew the whistle on what was happening. Kirk's spot refers to a long-running lawsuit brought by two former VA employees that Duckworth settled last month for just $26,000, an amount that the state attorney general's office called a "nuisance value." However, Duckworth's campaign seems to be taking Kirk's commercial seriously enough to spend $600,000 on a response ad.
The Duckworth spot features a veteran who tells the audience that the candidate "chooses to get her healthcare at the VA, like us." Another veteran says that Duckworth knows how important the VA is, and argues that Kirk "flat out lied repeatedly about his own military service. Now, he has the gall to attack Tammy Duckworth on the VA?" The narrator ends by saying that Duckworth "made fighting for veterans her life's work, and she'll never stop." The ad doesn't mention that Duckworth lost her legs in Iraq, but it features two photos of her receiving care at hospitals.
If this whole ad exchange feels a bit familiar, it's because a similar thing happened back in May. Kirk released a different spot then also arguing that Duckworth had been negligent and vengeful when running the state VA, and Duckworth also quickly responded with a commercial that highlighted her work at the agency and accused Kirk of lying about his own military record, a controversy we explained back in May.
● IN-Sen: Ex-Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh is making use of his massive warchest to start his TV ad campaign immediately. Bayh begins his first commercial by addressing why he's trying to return to the Senate six years after retiring, saying at the time he was "fed up with the gridlock and wanting to spend more time with my boys as they grow up."
Bayh goes on to bemoan that things in DC have just gotten worse, and that he's now looked "at my grown sons, Hoosier families, and America, and can't sit on the sidelines." Bayh concludes by insisting that "[w]e all know what needs to be done: put country ahead of party, and work together to solve America's challenges." Bayh's campaign says the commercial is running for six figures and will air for a week. The GOP will almost certainly run commercials arguing that Bayh left Congress to cash out and become a lobbyist, and Bayh's wise to get ahead of their attacks by framing his decision as about his family.
● WA-Gov: Republican Bill Bryant recently launched his first TV spot, and Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee is now joining him on the airwaves. Inslee tells the camera that he said he would focus on jobs, before various people praise his record.
● AZ-05: The powerful anti-tax group the Club for Growth is taking sides in another primary for a safely red House seat, and they're throwing their support behind state Senate President Andy Biggs. Biggs faces former GoDaddy executive Christine Jones, state Rep. Justin Olsen, and ex-Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley on Aug. 30, and two recent polls gave him the edge.
● CA-07: Back in May, in what the Sacramento Bee described as a "stunning" verdict, a jury awarded $3.6 million in damages to four female employees of the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department who'd charged that their superiors had retaliated against them for complaining about discriminatory behavior. Overseeing the department during the period in question was Sheriff Scott Jones, a Republican who is currently running for Congress against Democratic Rep. Ami Bera in California's swingy 7th Congressional District.
Now Jones, who testified at the six-week trial, not only faces questions about his management skills but also his own behavior. Newly disclosed court documents from the lawsuit have revealed deposition testimony from a former subordinate of Jones', Tosca Olives, who alleged that Jones had made unwanted sexual advances over a period of two years, from 2003 to 2005. Olives said that Jones touched her inappropriately and that the two had kissed, explaining that "because I was young. I felt embarrassed, or like I had brought it on myself and that I needed to engage in that activity because that was what was expected of me." She added: "I felt like because he was my supervisor that he was more in control and in charge of the situation than I was."
Jones denied the accusations in a sworn statement, though in an odd aside in the Bee's writeup, he apparently said he “never had any physical contact” with Olives “of an intimate nature” ... “except once.” (The first two quoted remarks are from Jones’ statement; the latter is the paper’s wording.) The issue never became part of the trial because the plaintiffs were limited to presenting evidence of retaliation and were not permitted to make a case that they'd been subject to a hostile workplace environment or sexual harassment. (Olives was not one of the plaintiffs.)
Jones, who has been married for 20 years, has refused to comment so far, and the county is appealing the lawsuit. But you have to wonder why Jones let himself get submarined by this now. Was he hoping it would stay under wraps through November? Or was the material perhaps under seal by court order? Whatever the case, he'll have to address it sooner rather than later.
● CA-17: Former Commerce Department official Ro Khanna has released a late June poll from FM3 that gives him a 42-36 edge over Rep. Mike Honda, a fellow Democrat, in the general election. Honda beat Khanna 52-48 in 2014, but since then, Honda has dealt with some bad headlines about an ethics investigation looking at whether he improperly commingled campaign work with government business. We'll see if Honda releases contradictory numbers, but this poll feels plausible. Daily Kos Elections rates the all-Democratic general election as Lean Khanna.
● FL-01: Politico reports that the super PAC North Florida Neighbors has reserved $232,000 in TV time to help state Rep. Matt Gaetz in the Aug. 30 primary for this safely red seat. Their first spot, backed by $75,000, is currently airing, and it promotes Gaetz as a reliable conservative who has delivered on his promises in the legislature. Gaetz's main foe next month is state Sen. Greg Evers.
● FL-18: Martin County School Board member Rebecca Negron, one of the many Republicans seeking this competitive seat, is out with a new TV spot. Negron highlights the recent outbreak of algae along Florida's Treasure Coast that has threatened public health and could damage the local tourism economy. The commercial features an aerial view of the algae along the coast as Negron says that Washington has ignored them. Negron then calls for the completion of several programs to "send the water south as God intended."
● MI-10: Rich guy Paul Mitchell is airing yet another commercial ahead of the Aug. 2 primary for this safely red seat. The narrator reminds the audience that they need to be scared shitless of ISIS and criticizes DC politicians for not doing anything about it, as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama appear on screen. The narrator then insists that "[a]s a hard-charging businessman, Paul Mitchell knows the only way to conquer adversity is to tackle it head-on," as Mitchell is seen at what looks like an office building.
As dramatic music swells and shots of a fighter plane soaring and something blowing up flash by, the narrator pledges that Mitchell will defend the borders, crush America's enemies, and take care of veterans. The whole ad almost feels like a parody: Mitchell's time in boardrooms is supposed to give him insight into battlefields? The final shot of Mitchell sitting behind his office desk also doesn't help sell him as Mr. Macho.
● NY-22: The Democratic group House Majority PAC has made fall TV ad reservations in three upstate New York media markets: $455,000 for Binghamton, $554,000 for Syracuse, and $177,000 for Utica. Together, the reservation totals $1.19 million. All three markets overlap with at least one other competitive House seat, but all of these reservations are earmarked for the open 22nd District, a Utica-area seat that Romney narrowly won. We've added these reservations to our tracker, which you'll want to keep bookmarked, since the House landscape is only getting busier and busier.
Democrats are fielding Broome County Legislator Kim Myers, while the GOP has nominated Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney. National Republicans were not happy when the ultra-conservative Tenney won the primary last month, and the NRCC notably snubbed her by leaving her off their Young Guns list for top candidates. Wealthy businessman Martin Babinec is also running as an independent under the banner of his Upstate Jobs Party.
● NY-23: GOP Rep. Tom Reed featured his sister Mary in several positive spots during his 2014 re-election campaign, and she stars in his first TV ad of the cycle. The two siblings act like they're just joking around and don't think the camera is rolling, before Mary asks Tom if Congress is as tough as having eight sisters. (No.) Mary then praises Reed for the work he does and says that's why "we" sent him to DC, adding that, "[y]ou will answer to me," before they exchange some more friendly sibling rivalry banter. Reed faces Democratic veteran John Plumb in this 52-48 Romney seat.
● WA-07: State Sen. Pramila Jayapal, one of the three main Democrats competing in the Aug. 2 top-two primary for this safely blue seat, is up with another spot. Her commercial is not online, but according to Bloomberg, Jayapal takes aim at Donald Trump. The ad shows black women being shoved at a Trump rally and features a clip of Trump saying that there "has to be some form of punishment" for women who have abortions. Jayapal also calls for equal pay and Social Security expansion.
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.