● MO-Gov: On behalf of the Missouri Times, the GOP pollster Remington Research takes another look at the gubernatorial race, and they give Democrat Chris Koster some very good news. Remington has Koster beating Republican Eric Greitens by a massive 51-36 margin, even as Donald Trump leads 49-39. (The Senate race was not tested this time.)
A week before, Remington also polled the Show Me State for the Missouri Times and they gave Koster a 47-38 lead. It's unclear what, if anything, caused such a large swing in such a short amount of time. (Half of this most recent Remington poll was conducted before the presidential debate and half was done the day after, so that probably wasn't it.) At the beginning of September, Remington surveyed Missouri for a different publication, the political newsletter Missouri Scout, and they had Koster up just 46-42.
Aside from some earlier Gravis Marketing surveys the Missouri Times commissioned (here and here) that also gave Koster the lead, we haven't seen any other public polls in September. However, Greitens himself released a poll on Wednesday that also shows him trailing. The Tarrance Group's survey gives Koster a 45-42 lead, while Trump takes Missouri 46-38. Greitens is certainly not in a good position when he has to drop polls that show him down "just" 3 points to reassure donors that he's a worthy investment. Maybe Greitens should have instead held that survey and just insisted that if an awful pollster like Gravis shows him losing, he's probably actually winning big.
Missouri is a red state, but some powerful conservative groups have sided with Koster over Greitens. In early August, Koster became the first Democratic statewide candidate to ever earn the Missouri Farm Bureau's endorsement. The NRA even chose the attorney general over Greitens, a retired Navy seal who ran several primary commercials that featured him firing guns. Koster has not at all been shy about running ads in rural Missouri informing voters that he has these two organizations on his side.
P.S.: One of the most frustrating things about Missouri politics is that the state has no campaign finance donation limits, but that may be about to change. The new Remington poll gives Amendment 2, which would limit contributions to state candidates to $2,600, a 64-24 lead.
● CA-Sen: SurveyUSA: Kamala Harris (D) 40, Loretta Sanchez (D) 29 (Sept.: 44-27 Harris). Note that this poll did not give voters the option to say that they'd skip this contest; other surveys have shown that a high proportion of conservatives are planning not to vote in this race.
● IL-Sen: Obama Alert! The president will hold a fundraiser for Democrat Tammy Duckworth in Chicago on Oct. 9.
● NH-Sen: The Democratic group GBA Strategies, polling for End Citizens United, gives Democrat Maggie Hassan a 47-44 lead over Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, while Hillary Clinton leads 43-37. An unreleased July poll found the two Senate candidates deadlocked 47-47. This poll was conducted Sept. 25-27, with the presidential debate taking place on the night of Sept. 26.
● WI-Sen: The DSCC originally planned to start advertising here at the beginning of October, but they've announced that they've canceled their commercials for the first week of the month. Democrat Russ Feingold has consistently led in the polls in his rematch with Republican incumbent Ron Johnson, so it makes sense that the DSCC has decided to send the money to other races where they can make more of a difference. Two months ago, the NRSC also decided to only air commercials during the final three weeks of the race.
● Polls: On behalf of the Democratic group VoteVets, PPP is out with surveys of the Senate races in Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. All these polls were conducted Sept. 27-28, just after the first presidential debate:
● CO-Sen: Michael Bennet (D-inc) 44, Darryl Glenn (R) 34 (46-40 Clinton)
● FL-Sen: Marco Rubio (R-inc) 42, Patrick Murphy (D) 35, Paul Stanton (Libertarian) 9 (45-43 Clinton) (Sept.: 40-37 Rubio)
● NC-Sen: Richard Burr (R-inc) 41, Deborah Ross (D) 39, Sean Haugh (Libertarian) 6 (44-42 Clinton) (Sept.: 41-41 Senate tie)
● PA-Sen: Katie McGinty (D) 45, Pat Toomey (R-inc) 40, Edward Clifford (Libertarian) 9 (45-39 Clinton)
Note that this is the first time that PPP has tested Libertarian Edward Clifford in their Pennsylvania poll, so we do not have a proper trendline. PPP's last poll, which was conducted at the end of August for the Democratic group the Constitutional Responsibility Project, gave McGinty a similar 44-41 lead against Toomey. In North Carolina, there has been very little change since PPP surveyed the state a week ago. Unfortunately, the news is bad in Florida, where Rubio has expanded his lead over the last month.
● Senate: Stephen Wolf takes a detailed look at two important factors in this year's most hotly contested Senate races: TV advertising levels and polling errors. Even though Democrats are on offense this year, Republicans have actually aired more television ads in key states this year, as Stephen shows. But that's far from the only metric worth considering when judging the competitiveness of a race. Polls, of course, also play a big role, if not the biggest. But even when you average polls together, they can still be off-base. Stephen takes a look at recent history to see whether there's any pattern to the misses in Tossup Senate contests. The answer? A definite "maybe."
● NC-Gov: On behalf of the Democratic group VoteVets, PPP takes another look at North Carolina's gubernatorial contest. They give Democrat Roy Cooper a 45-42 lead against Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, with Libertarian Lon Cecil taking 4. This sample, which was conducted in the days after the first presidential debate, has Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump 44-42.
A week ago, PPP gave Cooper a slightly larger 46-41 lead. The unrest in Charlotte that followed the death of Keith Scott at the hands of police occurred between the two surveys, but despite the intense media coverage it garnered, this latest poll suggests that the reaction to Scott's death has had little if any impact on the race. But as always, we should wait for more data before making any conclusions here.
● VA-Gov: While GOP businessman Pete Snyder flirted with running for governor next year, he announced on Thursday that he would back 2014 Senate nominee Ed Gillespie instead. The 2017 GOP primary remains a four-way race between Gillespie, Rep. Rob Wittman, Prince William County Supervisor Corey Stewart, and state Sen. Frank Wagner. The winner is almost certain to face Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, who has no serious Democratic primary opposition.
● CA-49: The DCCC's in-house polling arm is out with a new survey giving Republican Rep. Darrell Issa a small 48-46 lead over Democrat Doug Applegate and also showing Hillary Clinton beating Donald Trump 47-41 in this suburban San Diego seat. While Mitt Romney won 52-46 here, this district is full of affluent and well-educated voters who are likely to reject Trump. Back in June, the DCCC released a poll showing the two congressional candidates tied 43-43, so this survey actually has Issa winning over more undecided voters than Applegate has. Applegate also released a poll a month ago giving Issa a similar 45-42 edge. Issa eventually responded by dropping his own survey, which gave him a strong 52-38 lead.
After all three of those polls were released, Politico reported that Applegate was accused of stalking and harassment by his ex-wife, Priscilla Greco, who twice obtained restraining orders against him amidst their divorce over a decade ago. Greco quickly released a statement denouncing "disrespectful and uninformed personal attacks against our family" and stating unequivocally that she was endorsing her former spouse. The DCCC's poll was conducted almost two weeks after that news broke, so it's possible the committee released it in part to reassure outside groups and Applegate donors that the story hasn't done damage and that he's still within striking distance of Issa.
The D-Trip has also put a little bit of financial support behind Applegate. According to the newest version of our House ad reservations chart, the DCCC and Applegate jointly put in $153,000 to air his first TV ad last week (the exact breakdown between each organization isn't available), while the Applegate campaign also chipped in another $40,000 on its own. That's not a ton of money, but it's a positive sign. Meanwhile, Issa recently started running an ad attacking Applegate, which is not something a safe incumbent normally does. But if national Democrats are serious about defeating Issa, they'll want to get involved soon to prevent the wealthy congressman from drowning Applegate in negative commercials.
● NY-03: On behalf of Democrat Tom Suozzi, GBA Strategies is out with a poll giving him a huge 55-38 lead over Republican Jack Martins in this open Long Island seat. Via email, GBA tells us that Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump 44-39; Obama won by a similar 51-48 margin four years ago. This suburban district is one of the most affluent seats in the country and it has a very high proportion of college graduates, so it would be a surprise if Trump did much better than Romney.
One month ago, Suozzi's allies at the DCCC released a poll giving him a similar 52-36 lead, though they had Clinton up by a very different 51-35 spread. Republicans have yet to respond with any contradictory numbers, but at least for now, Team Red is acting like this seat is winnable. According to our House reservations chart, the NRCC has reserved $1.1 million for this seat. By contrast, the DCCC and House Majority PAC don't seem to have committed a cent to this race, a good indication that they believe Suozzi is in good shape.
● NY-22: Siena is out with the first independent poll of this three-way race. They give Republican Claudia Tenney a 35-30 lead over Democrat Kim Myers, while wealthy independent Martin Babinec takes 24. This sample has Donald Trump leading 46-35 in a Utica seat that Romney carried 49.2-48.8. This district has a lower median income and proportion of college graduates than the nation as a whole so it makes sense that Trump is doing better than Romney, though that's still a huge swing towards Team Red. Interestingly, while Tenney is ahead, this poll says she is the most disliked of the three congressional candidates. Tenney, who survived a nasty primary in late June, sports an underwater 36-46 favorable rating, while Myers and Babinec are at 31-26 and 29-24, respectively.
It's unclear what effect Babinec is having on this race. According to Siena, he's taking almost an equal proportion of Democratic, Republican, and independent voters. A DCCC poll from a few weeks ago also argued that if Babinec weren't in the race, his supporters would split evenly between Tenney and Myers. However, Babinec has said that he'll caucus with the GOP if he wins, and Team Red is acting like he's taking more votes from Tenney than from Myers.
Both Tenney and the NRCC have run ads attacking him, while the Democratic group House Majority PAC has just trained their fire on Tenney. In fact, HMP is out with another commercial arguing that Tenney has missed too many votes in the legislature, and the votes she did take favored New York City over upstate.
● Ad Reservations: We've just published this week's installment of our House ad reservations chart, which tracks TV and radio bookings by the four biggest outside groups (the DCCC, House Majority PAC, NRCC, and Congressional Leadership Fund) involved in House races. You'll see that we've now added a second set of columns to the right that show you the changes from the previous week, and there are a number worth taking note of. One small note: Our data lags slightly, so there've been some further developments that have taken place since the numbers in our chart were compiled, which we'll note below.
The biggest new move for Democrats comes in NJ-05, where the DCCC has thrown down a cool million bucks to support Democrat Josh Gottheimer in his bid to unseat Republican Rep. Scott Garrett, a race HMP has long been a believer in. CLF matched just $350,000 for the GOP. The D-Trip also added $569,000 for the three-way battle in NY-22, and HMP has added another $483,000 there as well. For its part, the NRCC tacked on another $457,000.
There were also two races in California where, for the first time, the DCCC put up funds. These came in CA-25 and CA-49, two tougher potential pickups, where the committee and each campaign together spent $85,000 and $153,000 respectively. We don't know how much came from the DCCC, but whatever the exact split, the total amount was small. Still, these both bear watching to see if more outside money comes in later.
On the flipside, the DCCC reduced its overall Twin Cities reservation by about $600,000. It's possible this represents a pullback from MN-03: HMP abandoned this race the other day (something not yet reflected on our chart), though the D-Trip said it was still a believer. It could also reflect growing confidence in MN-02, a sentiment reportedly expressed by HMP. It's hard to say, though, since this money could be used for either district, as well as MN-08. The NRCC, meanwhile, sliced its Minneapolis/St. Paul reservations by about $450,000, but CLF added nearly $1 million, so that's a net increase of approximately $500,000 for the GOP.
The DCCC also shrank its reservations in Las Vegas, which covers both NV-03 and NV-04 by about $800,000, while the NRCC cut theirs by around $500,000. CLF, however, added $220,000. It's not clear why any of these moves were made. Also interesting is a $288,000 DCCC reduction in AZ-01, though they still have $1.5 million reserved. However, Republicans have yet to book any time at all here. It may just be that they have no faith in their badly damaged candidate, Paul Babeu, who was shown trailing 45-38 in a poll put out by Democrat Tom O'Halleran just the other day.
HMP also drew down its presence in NH-01 by a sizable $700,000. Again, we don't know why, but subsequent to our chart's compilation, the Hotline reported that the NRCC was also cutting $500,000. Despite the reductions, both sides have around $3 million booked here apiece, and HMP recently released a poll finding Democrat Carol Shea-Porter up 44-34, so it's doubtful they've suddenly experienced a loss of faith.
The only other NRCC move that really stands out is a $500,000 addition in IL-10, while at the same time, the DCCC cut about $540,000. But according to Roll Call (which says the reduction was $800,000—this kind of data's always a moving target), the D-Trip is simply moving that money from its independent expenditure arm to its "coordinated" side, which, as the name implies, is permitted to work directly with Democrat Brad Schneider. Normally, coordinated expenditures are restricted to just $48,000 per cycle, but Schneider and the DCCC are making use of so-called "hybrid" ads, which attack both Bob Dold! and "the Republicans" as a way to get around normal limits.
Finally, the CLF has been quite busy, piling on an addition $3.8 million, mostly in existing reservations. (Overall, the other three groups saw small net reductions of less than $1 million each.) Their largest single-district add-on comes in FL-18, where Democrats have self-funder Randy Perkins running. They've also put money into NY-01 for the first time, placing a $500,000 reservation there, and they've added another $481,000 in NY-19. And according to Politico, CLF is also booking $500,000 in ME-02, though that one's not yet reflected on our chart.
There are also some additional developments that also haven't made it into our chart yet. Republican operatives cited by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel say that the DCCC has cancelled a week's worth of airtime valued at $240,000 on behalf of Democrat Tom Nelson in WI-08, where he faces Republican Mike Gallagher. Last month, the GOP released a poll showing Nelson badly trailing; not only have Democrats not released any better data, the Cook Political Report's Dave Wasserman writes that unseen Democratic polls are apparently saying similar things. The D-Trip would only say that "[a]d reservations are changing every week." That they are!
And lastly, it appears that GOP Rep. David Jolly might finally be getting some assistance down in FL-13. The NRCC openly despises Jolly and hasn't stepped in to help him in his difficult race against Democrat Charlie Crist, but the deep-pocketed U.S. Chamber of Commerce just endorsed the congressman, and they're very likely to actually spend money here. In addition, a total mystery super PAC called People for Pinellas County recently booked about $240,000 in ad time here on Jolly's behalf, but good luck Googling them.
What's particularly concerning is that the DCCC is also adding $460,000 here, per Politico, on top of the $1.5 million already reserved by HMP. After this district was made considerably bluer in redistricting, Crist looked like a strong bet to win. But this isn't the kind of move you make if you're feel a race is a lock. Lots of folks have suggested "Crist fatigue" might be a factor, but there's been little hard data to back up that claim. However, it could very well be real.
● State Legislatures: After another wipeout in 2014, Democrats have nearly hit rock bottom when it comes to the number of state legislatures they control, so there's really nowhere to go but up. Stephen Wolf investigates which legislative chambers Team Blue could pick up in 2016, focusing on key opportunities in Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, and New York. There's also a great hexmap courtesy of Daniel Donner showing every potential target for both parties. All told, Democrats could flip up to a dozen Republican-held chambers if November favors the party downballot.
● MO-Sen: Majority Forward and AFSCME are spending a combined $1.3 million on a spot against GOP Sen. Roy Blunt, and they do not pull any punches. The commercial starts with a shot of the wreckage of the World Trade Center as the narrator declares, "After 9/11, both parties came together to pass a bill creating the Department of Homeland Security." The spot goes on to accuse Blunt of using "that moment of unity" to "try and sneak in a provision to help tobacco giant Philip Morris. He got caught, and it got worse." The narrator then notes that Blunt's wife and son were lobbyists for the company, and that Blunt got donations from Philip Morris' executives just before the vote.
Democrats ran a similar ad during Blunt's 2010 race, though this spot focuses much more explicitly on how the vote took place in the aftermath of September 11. (The vote was in 2003.) Team Blue has aired several commercials reminding voters that Blunt's wife and children are lobbyists, and contrasting Blunt's posh DC life with Democrat Jason Kander's service in Afghanistan. While this spot does not mention Kander, it fits right into the Democratic argument that Blunt is part of a corrupt Washington establishment.
● NH-Sen: Americans for Responsible Solutions, which is Gabby Gifford's super PAC, is spending $1 million on a new ad against Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte. The narrator mentions several recent mass shootings and tells the audience, "We all agree background checks will make us safer, but Kelly Ayotte puts the Washington gun lobby first so nothing gets done."
● NV-Sen: The DSCC features several women arguing that Republican Joe Heck wants to criminalize abortion and "was willing to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood funding.
● MT-Gov: Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock talks about working with both partiers to establish a state rainy day fund, and argues that Republican Greg Gianforte (whom he just calls "my opponent"), would just spend that for "out of state corporations and millionaires like himself." The RGA says that, despite Bullock's talk of fiscal responsibility, "a state financial audit revealed 125 financial errors, a mess, totaling over one billion dollars." The commercial begins with a clip of Hillary Clinton declaring, "I did not send or receive any emails," which the narrator insists sounds like Bullock. That's a pretty lazy way to tie the two Democrats together.
● CA-44: In her first general election ad for this all-Democratic race, ex-Hermosa Beach Mayor Nanette Barragán highlights her immigrant parents' hard work providing for their large family, and how she's worked for children and immigrant families. The spot is also running in Spanish.
● CO-03: Republican Rep. Scott Tipton goes negative and portrays Democrat Gail Schwartz as a "radical environmentalist" who killed jobs and voted for higher taxes. This appears to be Tipton's first ad of the race.
● MN-08: Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan argues that Republican Stewart Mills is a rich guy who favors tax breaks for other millionaires but wants to cut Social Security and Medicare and raise the retirement age.
● NE-02: Democratic Rep. Brad Ashford features a local clothing store owner bemoaning that "Obamacare isn't helping small businesses likes ours," and praising Ashford for working with both parties to fix the program.
● NY-22: Democrat Kim Myers promotes her work helping to run her family's business, Dick's Sporting Goods.
● NY-24: The DCCC argues that Republican Rep. John Katko is in the pocket of special interests.
● UT-04: Both Republican Rep. Mia Love and Democrat Doug Owens are up with a negative spot. Love argues that Owens has donated to both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as "Henry Owens." (Henry is legally Owens' first name, but the candidate says he's gone by Doug since he was a child.) It's no surprise that Love would tie Owens to national Democrats in this conservative seat, but this is still a strange way to go about attacking him.
Owens' spot argues that Love spent twice as much as all of Utah's other three House members on taxpayer-funded mailers. The second half of the ad mentions a story from last year where Love was forced to reimburse the treasury for travel expenses improperly billed to taxpayers; Love made things worse at the time by providing a confusing explanation for what she was doing. That incident's a bit more interesting than the mailers' stuff, but the ad only has 15 more seconds to focus in it.
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.