● Ad Reservations: Thanks to a Democratic source who tracks media buys, we've put together a comprehensive new chart of all ad reservations for the four biggest groups that work on House races: the DCCC and House Majority PAC for Democrats, and the NRCC and Congressional Leadership Fund for Republicans. (HMP and CLF both have close ties to their respective party leadership and can be thought of as the "official unofficial" House super PACs for each side.)
Until now, we'd been relying on media reports and press releases to keep track of these reservations, but our information has been incomplete and sometimes contradictory. That's because its availability depends on the skill of reporters and the forthcomingness of PACs and party organizations—qualities that are often in short supply. This has been especially true on the Republican side, which has generally been very reticent to share information about its ad buying choices, making it difficult to know exactly what's going on. (Democrats, at least, have been much more transparent.)
Much better data is available, however, if you have access to it, and now, fortunately, we do. We discuss what this information means and how it's organized at much greater length in this post, but for Digest readers, we want to get right down to the numbers. One important note, though: Our chart does not include reservations made by candidates themselves or by smaller groups, so the total amount of TV time booked in all of these races is almost always going to be larger than the numbers you’ll see on our table.
Now, to the chart! The first thing that jumps out is just how small both parties consider the House playing field to be: There are only 33 districts on the entire list, 26 of which are held by Republicans and just seven by Democrats. So even if Democrats were to run the table, they'd still fall short of the 30 seats they'd need to take back the House, meaning that either other races will have to come online or that Team Blue would need to pull off some out-of-the-blue upsets in order to put the chamber in play.
Democrats currently plan to spend about $84 million, which is quite a bit larger than the $73 million the GOP is expecting to laid out. Team Blue likewise has bookings in many more districts than Republicans. There's just one race the GOP has reserved time in that Democrats haven't, NY-03, a swingy open seat on Long Island. By contrast, seats on the Democratic target list that aren't on the GOP's include AZ-01, CO-03, FL-07, FL-13, IL-12, MI-07/MI-08, NJ-05, NY-23, and UT-04.
The biggest surprise on this list is IL-12, which is one of just two seats where we were previously unaware that reservations had been made. (The other was NJ-05, but HMP has long been advertising there, so its inclusion is expected.) That's a seat in downstate Illinois held by freshman GOP Rep. Mike Bost. Recruiting fell short of Democratic hopes, but recently, the DCCC added attorney C.J. Baricevic to their "Emerging Races" list, signaling they think there's at least some shot at a pickup here. And while HMP could always cancel its $325,000 reservation, the fact that they have booked any time at all is a vote of confidence.
Overall, there are 29 distinct media markets or districts on this list. (Sometimes we have specific information about individual seats that share media markets, and sometimes we do not.) Of these, Democrats are set to spend more in 16 of them, Republicans in 13. You can see these total spending differences in the column furthest to the right on our spreadsheet.
The biggest gap by far is in the Twin Cities, where Democrats stand ready to spend $12 million to defend MN-08 and pick up MN-02 and MN-03; Republicans have only committed $7 million to this trio of seats. A possible reason for the split: The GOP nominee in the 8th District, Stewart Mills, is personally worth over $200 million. The largest spread in the other direction is in the open FL-18, where Republicans are on track to shell out $1.8 million more than Democrats in an effort to grab this seat. Here, the Democratic nominee, Randy Perkins, is also wealthy and has been self-funding his bid.
We plan to update this chart weekly, and we'll take note of races that either get added or dropped, or reservations that shrink or grow. But there's much, much more to be gleaned right now, so dive right in.
● CA-Sen: The Field Poll takes another look at the all-Democratic general election, and they give Attorney General Kamala Harris a 42-20 lead over Rep. Loretta Sanchez, with another 12 percent of respondents saying they'll skip this race altogether. In July, Harris led 39-24, with 15 percent saying they wouldn't vote. A separate survey, from Insights West, finds Harris ahead 42-28. In fact, every poll of the race has given Harris, who has more money and the backing of the state and national Democratic establishment, double-digit leads.
● LA-Sen: Southern Media & Opinion Research is out with their first poll of the November jungle primary since May, and they find that things have gotten quite a bit more chaotic since then. State Treasurer John Kennedy, a Republican, still takes first place, but his lead is not nearly as robust as it was a few months ago. All the candidates will run on one ballot, and if no one takes a majority, the top two vote-getters will advance to a December runoff:
State Treasurer John Kennedy (R): 17
Rep. Charles Boustany (R): 15
Attorney Caroline Fayard (D): 11
Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D): 9
Rep. John Fleming (R): 8
2014 Senate candidate Rob Maness (R): 3
Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke (R): 3
In May, SMOR had Kennedy taking 32, with Boustany leading Campbell 10 points to 9 for second place. That earlier poll was conducted for conservative businessman Lane Grigsby, while SMOR says that they did this poll for their subscribers, whom the Times-Picayune describes as "business people, companies, lobbyists, and interested parties from around the state who were simply interested in the results."
This poll was conducted days after an investigative journalist named Ethan Brown released a book that, citing anonymous sources, claimed that Charles Boustany was the client of several prostitutes who were later murdered. (Brown does not allege that Boustany had anything to do with their deaths.) After Kennedy unsubtly called attention to Brown's book via a Facebook post, Boustany's camp labeled the allegations "completely false," and there've been no new developments since. This poll indicates that, at least so far, the story isn't causing Boustany problems at the ballot box.
We've only seen two other polls since June. In late August, a Remington Research poll for the conservative blog The Hayride found Kennedy taking the first runoff spot with 27 percent of the vote, with Foster Campbell edging Boustany 16-13 for the other slot. However, earlier this month, Anzalone Liszt Grove had Kennedy taking just 18, with Fayard and Boustany tied 13-13 for the other runoff spot. (That poll was taken for a pro-charter schools group called Democrats for Education Reform, which is backing Fayard.)
At this point, we just don't have enough data to know if Kennedy is still the clear favorite to make it to a runoff, or if someone else is within striking distance of knocking him into third place. The ads have only just started running here, and with so many candidates, we may just have no idea where things really stand until November. Luckily, all three recent polls agree that David Duke has very little support, though any votes for the former KKK leader are too many votes.
● Polls: Here are today's Senate and gubernatorial polls:
● AZ-Sen: Insights West: John McCain (R-inc): 53, Ann Kirkpatrick (D): 35 (37-33 Trump)
● NC-Sen: PPP (D): Richard Burr (R-inc): 41, Deborah Ross (D): 41 (Aug.: 46-43 Burr) (45-43 Trump)
● NC-Gov: PPP (D): Roy Cooper (D): 46, Pat McCrory (R-inc): 41 (Aug.: 43-42 Cooper)
● NV-Sen: Insights West: Joe Heck (R): 43, Catherine Cortez Masto (D): 39 (42-40 Trump)
● NV-Sen: Rasmussen: Heck: 44, Cortez Masto: 40 (July: 42-41 Heck) (42-39 Trump)
● WI-Sen: Marquette Law: Russ Feingold (D): 44, Ron Johnson (R-inc): 39, Phil Anderson (Lib): 7 (Aug.: 45-42-7 Feingold) (41-38 Clinton)
Insights West is a Canadian outfit that hadn't polled any U.S. elections this cycle until now, though they were pretty accurate in calling Alberta's historic provincial elections last year. PPP's new North Carolina poll, meanwhile, is pretty interesting: Even though a 1-point Clinton lead has turned into a 2-point Trump edge since the firm's last survey, this poll managed to produce the best numbers PPP has ever seen for Cooper and Ross. In fact, in 17 polls going back to Feb. 2015, Cooper had never led by more than 3 points. The average margin from PPP over that timespan? An amazing 0 percent—that's how close this race has always been. But with McCrory taking a renewed beating over HB2, that may have finally changed.
As for the Senate race, Ross had always trailed Burr in a dozen prior PPP surveys. She started the year 10 points behind but has steadily closed the gap and is now tied. Some other pollsters have shown her with a slight edge of late, and the HuffPo average has her down just 46-44, so this is looking like a real race.
● NH-Gov, NH-Sen: Monmouth takes their first look at New Hampshire's statewide races, which also happens to offer us our first look at the gubernatorial race between Democrat Colin Van Ostern and Republican Chris Sununu since they won their nominations last week. Sununu starts with a 49-43 lead, but this is in fact the first poll we've seen pitting the two executive councilors against one another since January, so we really don't have any other data to fall back on. Monmouth finds that a significant number of voters don't have an opinion of either candidate: Sununu posts a 36-22 favorable rating, while Van Ostern is even more anonymous at 28-6.
There's a good chance that Sununu, who is the son of former Gov. John H. Sununu and the brother of ex-Sen. John E. Sununu, is leading due to his family's prominence, but again, we don't have any other information here. The gubernatorial contest is going to draw far less money and voter interest than the presidential or Senate races, so if Sununu is indeed ahead because of his last name, he may be able to coast to the finish line.
However, Democrats are trying to make sure that this contest doesn't slip too far below the radar. The New Hampshire Democratic Party reserved $2.1 million in ad time back in May (perhaps with an assist from the Democratic Governors Association), and they're now up with their first ad. The spot features a clip of Van Ostern talking about the importance of a college education, while the narrator talks about the candidate's career in business and education while noting that he went to college on student loans. The Republican Governors Association also reserved $3 million months ago, though they haven't aired any ads yet.
As for the Senate contest, Republican incumbent Kelly Ayotte posts a 47-45 edge over Democrat Maggie Hassan. The HuffPost Pollster average has the two deadlocked 44-44, so this poll fits in with everything we already know. However, Hillary Clinton leads 47-38 according to the same sample, meaning that Ayotte is running far ahead of Donald Trump. Other polls have found a gap in Ayotte's favor, but it hasn't usually been this large. (Clinton has an average lead of 43-37 in the state.)
● CA-24: Republican Justin Fareed is out with a poll from the Tarrance Group that gives him a 46-43 lead over Democrat Salud Carbajal, very similar to what his July poll showed. Then as now, Fareed did not release presidential numbers. (Obama carried this Santa Barbara seat 54-43.)
A few months ago, the DCCC quickly dropped a response survey showing Carbajal up 49-39, and we'll see if Team Blue releases contradictory numbers again. However, even if Fareed's poll is overestimating his chances, both parties are acting like this open seat is competitive. The pro-Democratic House Majority PAC recently launched a $328,000 buy, and the NRCC has reserved $763,000 here.
● FL-07: All the way back in June, the DCCC signaled it was a believer in Democrat Stephanie Murphy's chances against veteran GOP Rep. John Mica when it made a a whopping $3 million reservation in this swingy suburban Orlando seat. Now they're aiming to make believers out of everyone else, with a new poll, conducted by Global Strategy Group and Lester & Associates, giving Mica a small 48-45 lead
A previously unreleased August poll had the incumbent up 54-36, according to the poll's memo, and Murphy has started advertising since then. However, she only went on the air recently, so it's hard to believe that this could account for such a massive swing in her direction. House Majority PAC also only began their ad campaign for Murphy days ago. Still, the topline numbers are good news, and we'll see if Republicans respond.
In another positive, the poll also gives Hillary Clinton a 47-41 lead here; Obama, by contrast, carried this district by a very narrow margin (our numbers say he took the seat by less than 0.1 percent). But if Republicans are worried, they aren't showing it yet, since no outside groups have yet to book any TV time on Mica's behalf.
However, Mica's response to this poll came in the form of pure bluster. Said a spokesman, "It's the oldest trick in the book to use a deceitful and misleading push poll." Actually, the oldest trick in the book is smearing an ordinary poll as a "push poll"—and refusing to provide your own contradictory data. Numbers speak far louder than words.
● FL-13: Rep. David Jolly is one of the most endangered Republicans in the House, but a new survey for St. Pete Polls for the blog Florida Politics gives him a small 46-43 lead over Democrat Charlie Crist. Back in June, just before Jolly officially announced that he would drop his Senate bid and run for re-election in Florida's 13th Congressional District, St. Pete Polls showed the two tied 44-44. This sample gives Hillary Clinton a 47-40 lead in this St. Petersburg seat, which would represent a drop fromObama's 55-44 victory here four years ago.
But there are a few reasons to be skeptical of this poll. Just days ago, Jolly's own campaign released a survey showing himtied with Crist 46-46; it's always good to be wary when an independent pollster shows a candidate doing better than his own internal polls do. St. Pete has also had some problematic results in the past. Most recently, the firm took a look at the Democratic primary in Florida's 9th District a few days before the Aug. 30 vote, and they did not distinguish themselves. They gave eventual winner Darren Soto just 19 percent of the vote, while Dena Grayson and Susannah Randolph took 33 and 27 percent, respectively.
At the time, St. Pete admitted on Twitter that they evenbelieved their Hispanic sample size was "too small," noting that just 13 percent of their respondents were Hispanic even though member of this group made up around 23 percent of the electorate in past primaries. And sure enough, Soto (the only viable Hispanic candidate in the contest) did far better than St. Pete Polls predicted, taking 36 percent of the vote; the other two candidates grabbed 28 each. House primaries are tough to poll, but it's not great that St. Pete released a survey that even they didn't think provided a realistic snapshot.
However, while Jolly is likely still the underdog, he can't be counted out. Back in July, Crist released an internal poll giving himself a 50-38 lead, but his campaign had dropped a survey from a different pollster a month before showing him up just 46-43. And while the NRCC, which has a horrible relationship with Jolly, sounds reluctant to spend on his behalf, the pro-Democratic House Majority PAC has reserved $1.6 million to help Crist, a good indication that they don't think this is an automatic pickup. Daily Kos Elections rates this seats Lean Democratic.
● NE-02: Democratic Rep. Brad Ashford has released a new poll from Global Strategy Group showing him leading Republican Don Bacon by a 50-40 margin. Romney carried this Omaha district 53-46 and this seat is one of Democrats' toughest holds, but Ashford sports a 65-19 approval rating. If those numbers are anywhere near accurate, he should have a good chance of holding this Republican-leaning seat. Fortunately for Ashford, Hillary Clinton is also contesting this seat because Nebraska splits its electoral votes by congressional district, which should give him some crucial support.
● NH-01: On behalf of the NRCC, North Star Opinion Research takes a look at the fourth consecutive battle between Republican Frank Guinta (who is the incumbent this time around), and Democrat Carol Shea-Porter, and they give Guinta a 41-38 lead. Independent Shawn O'Connor, a former Democrat, takes 8, while Libertarian Brendan Kelly grabs 4.
This sample also gives Donald Trump a 43-39 lead. Obama carried this seat 50-49 while he was winning statewide 52-46. Polling averages give Hillary Clinton a similar 43-37 margin in the Granite State so this sample may be a little red, but we don't have enough data to say. However, Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte's 55-41 lead in this district doesn't seem likely, since most Senate polls show that race very close. No one else has released any polls of NH-01 aside from the University of New Hampshire, but their tiny House sample sizes—their last poll had just 211 likely voters—make their surveys utterly unreliable.
Guinta has been in weak shape ever since he paid back an illegal six-figure donation from his parents last year, but neither national party is acting like he's a dead man walking. The NRCC has reserved $3.2 million to defend him, while the DCCC and House Majority PAC have booked a total of $3.7 million to support Shea-Porter.
● UT-04: On behalf of the Salt Lake Tribune and the University of Utah, Dan Jones & Associates gives Republican Rep. Mia Love a huge 53-35 lead over Democrat Doug Owens. (Presidential results were not included in this release.) Last month, a Dan Jones poll for UtahPolicy.com showed Love with a fairly 51-38 edge. We had issues with that survey since it was taken over a massive 22-day period that include both party's national conventions; this new poll was in the field for eight days, which is also long, but not insane.
In June, a SurveyUSA poll gave Owens a 51-45 lead, but the next month, Love released her own survey showing her up 51-36, and no one has dropped good numbers for Team Blue in a while. And if Owens has any, he's not sharing them: His team responded by saying, "We're right where we expected to be." Hopefully they don't mean they expected to be down by 18 points with less than seven weeks to go.
The Democratic group House Majority PAC reserved $383,000 in fall TV time in July, but there's been no word about any other spending by outside groups on either side. Love only beat Owens 51-45 during the 2014 GOP wave, but she may do better in this conservative Salt Lake City area seat now that she's the incumbent. Daily Kos Elections rates the general as Lean Republican.
● Polling: Daniel Donner has a look at a fantastic experiment from The Upshot at the New York Times: They took the raw data from their recent poll of Florida and sent it to four different pollsters to let them process their data as they best saw fit. The outcome? They got back four different results. It's a stark illustration of the variability that post-interview data crunching produces, or, as we call it in these poll-addicted parts, catnip.
● Site News: We're pleased to announced the launch of our brand-new House outlook page as part of our ongoing rollout of our new elections portal. The main feature of this page, as you'll see when you click, is a large interactive version of the amazing hexmap of all 435 congressional districts, designed by Daniel Donner and implemented by Andy Thornton. Mouse over any seat and you'll see its number and how competitively Daily Kos Elections has rated it. In its default mode, the map only shows potentially competitive races, which shows you just how small the playing field is this year; use the toggle at the top and you'll see every race. Below the map you'll find a table of all those race ratings, and beneath that, there's a summary of our recent changes.
And if you haven't seen it yet, you should also check out our outlook pages for the presidency and the Senate. Both feature Drew Linzer's poll-based forecast model, and our Senate page also showcases our traditional race ratings.
● FL-Sen: The NRSC is out with a Spanish version of their spot accusing Democrat Patrick Murphy of lying about his resume.
● IN-Sen: The NRA is spending $644,000 arguing that Democrat Evan Bayh voted to ban hunting rifles and ammunition the last time he was in the Senate, and that he voted for two anti-gun Supreme Court justices. The narrator warns that if he goes back, "You can kiss your gun rights Bayh Bayh."
● MO-Sen: The NRA is out with a response commercial to the already-famous spot from Democrat Jason Kander that showed him assembling a rifle while blindfolded. The NRA features footage from that Kander ad, and the narrator immediately declares, "Jason Kander has a blindfold. And he has a good trick with his gun. But he's not telling the truth about your gun."
After arguing that Kander voted against gun rights in the state legislature, the narrator implores the audience not to let Kander "put a blindfold on you." Using Kander's own imagery against him is certainly a lot more clever than Republican Sen. Roy Blunt's somewhat-chaotic response ad. Also for Team Red, the Senate Leadership Fund argues that Kander is a liberal on taxes, immigration, and Obamacare.
On the other side, End Citizens United is out with their second commercial in a $770,000 ad campaign. They continue a theme from a recent DSCC ad, noting that Blunt's wife and three kids are lobbyists, and they say he's voted against lobbying reform. AFSCME and VoteVets are also spending another $782,000 to keep airing a commercial arguing that, while Kander served in Afghanistan, Blunt has voted against helping veterans.
● NV-Sen: Freedom Partners spends $1.2 million arguing that Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto didn't do enough to stop a guardianship program that actually exploited seniors when she was state attorney general. Senate Majority PAC spends $500,000 saying that Republican Joe Heck backs policies that help the Koch brothers, and in return, they fund his campaign.
● OH-Sen: Democrat Ted Strickland features a veteran arguing that Republican Sen. Rob Portman voted against laws that make it harder for terrorists to get guns.
● PA-Sen: The NRSC continues to portray Democrat Katie McGinty as a corrupt bureaucrat who went to work for a company that she gave taxpayer money to. Freedom Partners spends $1 million arguing that McGinty backed a massive tax increase.
● WI-Sen: Republican Sen. Ron Johnson goes positive and highlights his work on a project to help train people and lift them out of poverty.
● IL-10: Democratic ex-Rep. Brad Schneider says he'll stand up to both the big money and the hatred in our politics, while promising to fight for a litany of policies in the mainstream Democratic platform. Schneider's ad makes a point of noting his party affiliation, which isn't surprising given that this district voted 58-41 for Obama.
● LA-03: Republican businessman Gus Rantz touts his conservative bona fides and background as a non-politician in an ad that features a very bro-tastic soundtrack and vibe.
● MN-08: Republican Stewart Mills appears in hunting garb and criticizes Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan for supposedly "voting to take away our rights" when it comes to guns, bringing up Nolan's "F" rating from the NRA.
● NY-19: Republican John Faso highlights his work to get health insurance providers to cover autism treatments.
● NE-02: Republican Don Bacon's wife introduces him in a new ad that mentions his military service and emphasizes that he "doesn't do anything half way" by showing him meticulously performing household chores.
● NY-22: Democrat Kim Meyers has her character vouched for in a rather content-free ad, which could have used some real-life accomplishments instead of supporters speaking in generalities.
● NY-24: Republican Rep. John Katko attacks his Democratic challenger Colleen Deacon over an awkward answer she gave during a radio interview where she said, "Um, fighting ISIS, obviously, I don't know what the answer is," while the ad uses scaremongering pictures of extremists and also excoriates her for supporting Obama's Iran deal. This ad is an overt example of subtextual Islamophobia, seeing as Sunni-dominated ISIS and Shia-majority Iran are mortal enemies. During that interview, Deacon also did go into much more detail about her plans for combatting terrorism, though it's not surprising that Katko used a moment where she sounded unsure of herself.
● PA-08: The NRCC attacks Democrat Steve Santarsiero over what they allege is the misuse of state funds during his time in office, while simultaneously voting for higher taxes.
● WI-08: Democrat Tom Nelson speaks directly to the camera and draws a contrast between himself and Republican Mike Gallagher. Nelson says he wants to raise the minimum wage, end tax breaks for big corporations, and preserve Social Security, all of which he says Gallagher opposes.
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, and James Lambert.