● CA-49: Back in June, retired Marine Col. Doug Applegate shocked the political world by holding veteran GOP Rep. Darrell Issa to a feeble 51-45 margin California's top-two primary. A few weeks later, the DCCC released an in-house poll showing the general election tied at 43 apiece, and Issa never responded with contradictory numbers of his own. Now we have further confirmation that this race is for real, thanks to a new internal poll from Applegate that gives Issa just a slim 45-42 lead.
In fact, the survey, which was conducted by Strategies 360, portends even more trouble for the incumbent. That's because Hillary Clinton is currently beating Donald Trump 46-41, which should really scare the bejebus out of Republicans given that Mitt Romney won here by a 52-46 margin in 2012. That's an 11-point swing in favor of Democrats at the top of the ticket, which, if accurate, is enormous, given that Hillary Clinton is "only" doing about 2 to 3 points better on a national basis than Barack Obama did four years ago.
On top of that, the undecided voters in this poll are also trouble for Issa. Thirty-seven percent identify as Democrats while only 27 percent are Republicans. The remainder are independents, and according to the poll, this segment of the electorate favors Applegate as well, so Issa's going to have a hard time persuading voters who haven't yet made up their minds to vote for him.
So what explains Issa's woes? A stubby-fingered, Cheeto-hued blowhard whose name rhymes with Ronald Rump. Trump's legendary unpopularity runs deep in affluent, well-educated areas, and California's 49th District, located in the San Diego suburbs, is both. Indeed, a new piece in the New York Times cites unnamed Democratic strategists who are looking to expand the House battlefield into this type of turf, and they specifically cited this seat as a new target.
But Issa, who infuriated Democrats for years with his vexatious "investigations" when he chaired the House oversight committee, still has one huge advantage: money. Not only does he have $3.8 million in his campaign account, he's also the richest member of Congress, with a net worth of at least $250 million. Applegate, meanwhile, got off to a late start and had just $136,000 banked at the end of June. He'll need more than that—plus a healthy dose of outside help—to pull off an upset, but Issa's vulnerable position makes him exactly the sort of congressman who could fall if the Trumpocalypse is sufficiently Trumpocalyptic.
● IN-Sen: Such loyalty! Even though Evan Bayh spent years shilling for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as a lobbyist in D.C. after he left the Senate, both the powerful business federation and its Indiana affiliate are endorsing Bayh's GOP rival, Rep. Todd Young. Not only did Bayh compile one of the most business-friendly voting records in among congressional Democrats during his time in office, he went to work directly for the Chamber to fight against government regulation, even teaming up with former George W. Bush chief of staff Andy Card for a cross-country anti-regulatory "road show."
But alas, try as he might, Bayh could not bend over backwards for big business as far as Young could, and thus the Chamber has sided with the Republican. Not only that, they're running a new ad on Young's behalf, slamming Bayh as the alleged "deciding vote" to pass Obamacare. The spot claims that "as a result of Bayh's vote, over a hundred thousand Hoosiers had their policies dropped, and thousands more could see their premiums spike as much as 41 percent." But Young, says the narrator, is "fighting Obamacare," in the same way he "fought for his country as a Marine." The buy is for a reported seven figures, and when it comes to the Chamber, you can believe they'll spend big. Evan Bayh certainly ought to know.
● MO-Sen: Heartland Resurgence, a group set up by an ally of Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, is out with a $120,000 TV buy in central Missouri. The commercial is not online, but the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says it portrays Democrat Jason Kander as "just another liberal politician" who is too close to Hillary Clinton. (Also, "Heartland Resurgence," sounds like a really bad movie about two farmers on a quest to hunt down and kill the Kansas City businessmen who burned down their crops, or a documentary that Sarah Palin would star in.)
● NH-Sen: Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte's newest spot features a constituent identified as Barbara Moussette. Moussette describes how she and her husband had their identities stolen, and she praises Ayotte for helping them get the refund from the IRS that saved their home.
● NV-Sen: Nevada viewers have all the Senate commercials they could possibly want, and it's not even September. Republican Joe Heck's spot emphasizes his military background and support for the armed forces, while Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto once again goes after Heck's votes against Planned Parenthood and opposition to abortion. Meanwhile, the NRSC is launching a commercial arguing that as attorney general, Cortez Masto approved the early release of drunk drivers, even ones who caused fatal accidents. According to the committee's FEC report, the size of the buy is at least $481,000.
● PA-Sen: The Democratic group Senate Majority PAC is out with another commercial arguing that, while Democrat Katie McGinty has liberal views on clean energy, abortion, and guns, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey is on the wrong side of the issues; SMP is putting at least $825,000 behind the ad. The League of Conservation Voters is also spending $425,000 to re-air a spot connecting Toomey to big oil.
On the other side, the NRSC takes a page directly from the Donald Trump campaign. Their ad describes how an undocumented immigrant was arrested for assault, but says that, because Philadelphia is a sanctuary city, it wouldn't allow the federal government to detain him. The narrator says that the same man then raped a child, and accuses McGinty of still supporting sanctuary city policies. The commercial has at least $452,000 behind it.
● WI-Sen: With public polls looking bleak for Republican Sen. Ron Johnson and few conservative groups airing ads for him, the senator's allies at Let America Work are out with a survey… that also shows him down. Their Aug. 21-22 poll gives Democrat Russ Feingold a 50-47 lead; an unreleased July 31 to Aug. 1 poll found Feingold up 50-44, and LAW is arguing that the trend shows that Johnson is surging. However, both polls were conducted by the infamous McLaughlin and Associates, aka the group that Donald Trump hired to poll New York for the general election.
● ID-Gov: In 2014, then-state Sen. Russ Fulcher challenged Gov. Butch Otter in the GOP primary and lost by a surprisingly close 51-44 margin. Last week, Fulcher announced that he would run again in 2018, joining Lt. Gov. Brad Little in the contest to succeed Otter.
● IN-Gov: Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb has been the GOP's nominee for a month, and he's now up with his first commercial. The minute-long spot features Holcomb talking about his decision to join the Navy and what he learned in the service. There's no word on the size of the buy.
● NC-Gov: Democrat Roy Cooper's newest commercial stars a teacher identified as "Adelle B." As she is shown packing up her house, she says that North Carolina has fallen behind in teacher pay and school spending. Adelle goes on to accuse Republican Gov. Pat McCrory of claiming that he raised teacher pay (as he did in a recent commercial), but actually trying to cut education funding. She finishes by saying that, like 2,000 other teachers, she needs to move to another state so she can keep doing what she loves.
● VA-Gov: Last year, the Virginia Republican Party announced that they would nominate their 2017 statewide candidates through a convention rather than a primary, but that all changed this weekend. On Saturday, by a 41-40 vote, the GOP's State Central Committee voted to conduct a primary instead, a move that is already shaking up the race to succeed termed-out Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
As we've noted in the past, GOP nominating conventions tend to be dominated by ultra-conservative activists who prize purity over electability even more than your standard crop of primary voters. The best example is E.W. Jackson, the GOP's disastrous 2013 lieutenant governor nominee. In the 2012 primary for Senate, Jackson took less than 5 percent of the vote. But one year later, a well-received speech to convention delegates helped the little-known Jackson defeat several better-known and more formidable opponents to win the GOP nod. (Jackson badly lost the general election 55-45.) As ex-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor can attest, primaries don't always favor establishment candidates either, but they're still less likely to result in victories for completely unknown and unpredictable contenders.
On Sunday, state Sen. Frank Wagner, who represents a competitive Hampton Roads seat, announced that he would run for governor; Wagner said that the switch to a primary made all the difference for him. Wagner joins ex-RNC Chair Ed Gillespie, who came close to winning the 2014 Senate race; Rep. Rob Wittman; and Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, who is currently serving as Donald Trump's state campaign chair, in the 2017 GOP primary. It's also possible that the switch to a primary could encourage other Republicans to get in.
At the end of June, Gillespie had about $1 million in the bank, while Wittman, who is also seeking re-election this year in his safely red seat, had just $56,000 on-hand. Stewart has brought in nothing, and says he won't start fundraising until October. Wagner spent almost $2 million to win re-election in 2015, so he may have the financial support he'll need. The switch to a primary likely helps Gillespie the most, though. In 2014, Gillespie won just 60 percent of the convention vote against a field of utter Some Dudes, and the establishment candidate may have had trouble against a stronger set of opponents. And as the guy with the most cash, Gillespie will benefit from a primary where TV advertising will play a huge part. On the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam faces no credible primary opposition.
● AZ-04: A super PAC called Right Way has spent at least $280,000 against Rep. Paul Gosar ahead of Tuesday's primary for this safely red northern Arizona seat. Gosar has insisted that DC insiders, including the House leadership, are targeting him, but it turns out his real enemies may be closer to home. The Western Growers Association is Right Way's biggest contributor, and they say that they're going after the Freedom Caucus member because "Mr. Gosar chose to denigrate our members and dismiss their legitimate concerns. We find that unacceptable." Gosar faces underfunded pastor Ray Strauss on Tuesday.
● CA-25: Attorney Bryan Caforio is out with his first commercial in his campaign against freshman GOP Rep. Steve Knight in this northern Los Angeles County seat. Caforio tells the audience that his parents, who were both public school teachers, taught him to "work hard and stand up to bullies." A picture of Donald Trump goes up as Caforio talks about bullies, and a red x flashes by. Caforio then lays out several liberal policies he'll fight for in Congress.
Romney won this Antelope Valley seat 50-48, and it's another well-off area where Team Blue hopes that Trump will wreck the GOP ticket. A month ago, the DCCC released a poll showing Knight up 46-40, but Hillary Clinton carrying the district 41-36, and the GOP never released contradictory numbers. However, national Democrats don't appear to have made any fall TV reservations in the expensive Los Angeles media market yet.
● FL-19: GOP pollster Remington Research is out with a poll of Tuesday's primary for this safely red Fort Myers seat, and they give wealthy ex-Ambassador Francis Rooney a 46-31 lead over Chauncey Goss, the son of ex-Rep. Porter Goss; former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino grabs 16. These numbers are very similar to a Remington Poll released two weeks ago. Remington did not identify a client, though the group's founder also runs a consulting firm that works for Rooney's campaign. Of course, we're going to know exactly where this primary stands very soon.
● MN-02: Democrat Angie Craig is out with her second commercial, and she once again talks about her business background and how she worked to give veterans good jobs. It's a good message, but as David Montgomery points out, neither this ad nor her first actually mentions that Craig is running for Congress, or even for office for that matter. At the very end of her first ad she does say she "did good by doing what's right. Time to make Congress do the same," and she also concludes her new spot by saying that Washington needs common sense. Still, it would help if Craig made it much more clear what exactly she's advertising, especially since she's relying on spots to get her name out in this swingy seat. The most compelling commercial in the world isn't very useful if viewers don't know what they're supposed to do after seeing it.
● MN-08, MN-02, MN-03: The NRCC seems to enjoy making it difficult to figure out where they're making fall TV reservations, but the Duluth News Tribune has the goods on their activity in three Minnesota seats. The GOP has reserved $527,000 in the Duluth media market, which covers the 8th District. Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan is facing a rematch with wealthy Republican Stewart Mills, and the Democratic group House Majority PAC recently launched an early $350,000 ad campaign at Mills. HMP has another $227,000 reserved here for the fall.
The News Tribune also reports that NRCC has also reserved a total of $4.2 million in the Twin Cities. That media market covers part of the 8th as well as the open 2nd District and the 3rd, where Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen faces Democratic state Sen. Terri Bonoff. It's not clear how the NRCC plans to divide the money between those three seats. Democratic groups have also made major reservations in the Twin Cities. As always, we're tracking all the House reservations from both parties in our continuously updated spreadsheet.
● Primaries: Tuesday brings us one of our biggest primary nights of the cycle in Arizona and Florida, and as always, Jeff Singer previews the contests to watch here.
Perhaps the biggest race to watch will be John McCain's GOP Senate primary against Kelli Ward. A recent poll gives McCain a clear edge, but McCain and his allies are still airing ads against Ward, a sign that they don't think this is over yet. Both states will also host several House primaries, including a few in some critical swing seats. The first polls will close at 7 PM ET in most of Florida, and as always, we'll be liveblogging all the results at Daily Kos Elections and tweeting as well.
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.