● MO-Sen, MO-Gov: There have been lots of rumors floating around of internal polls showing Democratic Secretary of State Jason Kander defeating Republican Sen. Roy Blunt in Missouri's Senate race, but no public poll had shown that, and that's still the case—but that doesn't mean Republicans should relax. On Wednesday, Monmouth returned to the Show Me State, and they find Blunt leading 46-44 against Kander. But while Blunt still has the edge, Kander's getting closer, as Monmouth saw a 48-43 Blunt advantage in August. In fact, this is the closest we've ever seen the race in a reliable public poll.
On the other hand, the gubernatorial race has grown tighter since the summer. Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster led Republican Eric Greitens 51-40 at the time, but now Monmouth sees Koster leading by only 46-43. Missouri Democrats have had some success at retaining the governor's chair over the last few decades even as Missouri has lost its bellwether status at the presidential level and gotten redder, but the state's red enough now that it'd be a surprise if Koster were able to keep this a double-digit race the whole way through.
But the poll's presidential numbers look encouraging enough, with Donald Trump leading Hillary Clinton 46-41; that might be close enough that Clinton considers spending some money and time on Missouri in the closing weeks as she seeks to expand the map into light-red states. However, keep in mind that Monmouth actually had Trump leading by only 1 in August (44-43), so the trendlines are actually negative! Still, that's a positive sign for Kander in that he's going up even when the rest of the sample was redder than Monmouth's August poll.
Be sure to check out our third quarter Senate fundraising chart, which we're updating as new numbers come in.
● IN-Sen: Evan Bayh (D): $2.5 million raised, $5 million cash-on-hand; Todd Young (R): $3.4 million raised, $1.6 million cash-on-hand
● MO-Sen: Roy Blunt (R-inc): $1.8 million raised, $4 million cash-on-hand; Jason Kander (D): $3 million raised, $3.5 million cash-on-hand
● ME-02: Emily Cain (D): $1.1 million raised
● MN-03: Erik Paulsen (R-inc): $1.2 million raised, $2.8 million cash-on-hand
● NE-02: Brad Ashford (D-inc): $480,000 raised, $200,000 cash-on-hand; Don Bacon (R): $525,000 raised
● AK-Sen: Ordinarily, we don't spend much time on polls in "Safe Republican" races, but the latest Senate poll in Alaska is weird enough to merit a mention, since it puts to rest any notions as to whether the Libertarian might take enough votes away from the Republican for the Democrat to win with a small plurality. The answer is no: Alaska Survey Research for Alaska Dispatch News finds Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski at 50,with Libertarian candidate Joe Miller (who defeated Murkowski from the far-right in the 2010 GOP primary) at 18, the Democratic candidate, Ray Metcalfe, at 12, and centrist independent candidate Margaret Stock at 7. If former Democratic Sen. Mark Begich had piled into that clown car with a write-in bid (as he'd considered), he'd probably have just fragmented the non-Murkowski half even further.
● FL-Sen: Two different polls in Florida have Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy in a tricky place, in terms of triage decisions: He's down by enough that it doesn't look like he'd win if his trajectory stays the same, but he's still close enough that he could squeak by on coattails if Donald Trump's death spiral intensifies. For now, OpinionSavvy has Republican Sen. Marco Rubio leading 48-44 (Rubio also led by 4 in Opinion Savvy's last poll in late September), while the University of North Florida's first look at the Senate race has Rubio ahead 47-41. Taken together, that's very close to the Daily Kos Elections polling average, which has Rubio up 46-41.
The corresponding presidential numbers, however, have Hillary Clinton leading by 3 in the Opinion Savvy poll and 7 in UNF's survey. So, if the Clinton/Murphy gap stays where it is, Clinton would possibly need to get her lead in Florida up near 10 before she could pull Murphy over the line, too.
● NV-Sen: Here's something we haven't seen in a while: a poll of the Nevada Senate race with Catherine Cortez Masto in front. The Democrat leads 43-39 against Republican Rep. Joe Heck according to Public Policy Polling, in a poll taken for her campaign. In fact, we haven't seen a poll with Cortez Masto on top for over a month, and the last pollster to find her in the lead in early September was also PPP (that time on behalf of Project New America).
The most interesting crux of the poll, though, may be that Cortez Masto has drawn even with Hillary Clinton, who leads in the presidential race, 47-43. PPP's angle is that Heck's disavowal of Donald Trump in wake of Friday's leaked video is dragging him down with Republicans: They say Heck was winning 76-13 among Republicans in an unreleased poll last wee but is now down to a 70-15 spread, with 48 percent of Republicans saying Heck's distancing makes them less likely to vote for him.
● OH-Sen: If you're hoping that Hillary Clinton pulling back into the lead in Ohio polls would have a salutary effect on the Senate race there, well, it's not to be. Baldwin Wallace University released their first poll of the general election, and they found Clinton leading Donald Trump by a startling 48-38 margin in a two-way race, the first time in the entire cycle that her lead has hit double-digits in Ohio. Her advantage is 43-34 in a four-way matchup. Clinton has led in about half a dozen Buckeye State polls released in October; only Quinnipiac found her behind this month. That follows on the heels of a tough September, where she trailed in a majority of Ohio polls.
Baldwin Wallace, however, finds Democratic ex-Gov. Ted Strickland trailing 48-36 against GOP incumbent Rob Portman. That's slightly better than our polling average (which gives Portman a 50-36 overall edge), but we've never seen anything like a 22-point Clinton/Strickland gap before.
● PA-Sen: Susquehanna Polling and Research finds that Republican Sen. Pat Toomey leads 42-38 against Democratic challenger Katie McGinty in the Pennsylvania Senate race. That's against the backdrop of a smaller-than-usual Hillary Clinton advantage in the presidential race, "only" 44-40. Susquehanna, a Republican pollster, was very prolific in Pennsylvania in 2010 and 2012, but we haven't heard anything from them this year until now. (Another consideration: The field period was Oct. 4-9, so much of that was before Friday's bombshell video.)
● WI-Sen: A new poll from Marquette Law has a strangely close race between Democratic ex-Sen. Russ Feingold and Republican incumbent Ron Johnson; Feingold is leading 46-44 with 4 for the Libertarian candidate, Phil Anderson. That's a little tighter than their September poll saw the race, where Feingold led 44-39. It's also one of the closer polls we've seen of the race: To put things in context, the Daily Kos Elections average gives Feingold an aggregate 48-42 lead. Hot on the heels of a CBS/YouGov poll finding Feingold up by 3 and a Loras College poll that actually had Johnson leading by 5 (the only poll we've seen that has ever had Johnson leading), the data would lead one to conclude the race has tightened lately, perhaps thanks to Johnson's campaign having rolled out some positive ads.
The campaign behavior by the national committees and outside groups, however, doesn't tell us that the race has tightened, at least not to the extent that they're rushing back to engage the race; indeed, Johnson still seems to be lying on both parties' triage heap. And Johnson can't count on the presidential race to help him out here. Marquette finds it going the totally opposite direction, with Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump 44-37 in the 4-way formulation, up from 41-38 among likely voters in September.
Perhaps most ominous for Trump (and thus Johnson, unless he can better establish some separation) is the trend simply over the four days of the poll's field date; Trump actually led 41-40 on Thursday, but trailed 44-38 on Friday and then got hammered by a punishing 49-30 on Saturday and Sunday, after the tape with his remarks on sexual assault had been released.
● Maricopa County, AZ Sheriff: This is turning into the week from hell for Maricopa County's long-time Republican sheriff Joe Arpaio. Tuesday revealed that Arpaio will face criminal contempt of court charges for failing to abide by an agreement to curtail racial profiling, and now a poll from Sherpa Public Affairs finds Arpaio trailing 51-41 against his Democratic opponent, Paul Penzone. While earlier Democratic polls have given Penzone a lead, this is the first independent poll showing Penzone ahead.
● Demographics: Here's a fascinating set of maps from Dave Wasserman and the data crew at FiveThirtyEight, showing Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have the most upside (or downside), demographically. In other words, the analysis looks for counties where Democrats have been overperforming demographically (namely, in blue counties that are mostly white and poorly-educated), and where the GOP has been similarly overperforming (red counties that are diverse and well-educated). As the U.S. continuously realigns based on changing demographics and changing alliances within the parties, these places are on the front lines.
States that show up with big concentrations of red (because the Democrats have been overperforming among white, working-class voters) include Iowa, Maine, and Ohio. States with big concentrations of blue (where the GOP was overperforming where there are lots of diverse and/or college-educated voters) include Georgia, Texas, and Utah. (Sounds kind of familiar in view of this year's polling, doesn't it?) The red parts of the map uncannily resemble both the Ross Perot coalition from 1992 (minus his strengths in, say, Utah and Wyoming) and Sean Trende's "missing white voters" from 2012. If you mentally overlay congressional districts, it also dovetails with particular trouble spots for the Dems this year, like ME-02 and MN-08.
Wasserman & co. also delve into which counties we might see flip this year, if the trends hold. High-value targets for the Dems include Orange County, California, Fort Bend County, Texas, and Gwinnett County, Georgia. GOP targets include Macomb County, Michigan (original home of the "Reagan Democrats," most of whom are dead by now), and Vigo County, Indiana, which is in danger of surrendering its long-running bellwether status.
● Demographics: BuzzFeed News came up with an interesting new poll question that often gets ignored but that sheds some light on the white vote in a way that gets beyond education or religion: They asked about ancestry, which is to say, they asked white respondents which of the five most common national origin categories that the Census uses best applies to them. Piggybacking on the Morning Consult national poll, they found that the most Trump-friendly ancestry is German, at 51 Trump-33 Clinton; Irish is the most Clinton-friendly ancestry with a 40 Trump-39 Clinton. "American" ancestry is close behind German, at 50 Trump-33 Clinton. That's one more thing to take into consideration when thinking about how the map might shift this year.
Unfortunately, compared to the Census, this new poll seems to have gotten the ratios wrong. In Morning Consult's sample, 17 percent identified themselves as having American ancestry, 10 percent said English, 8 percent German, 6 percent Irish, and 4 percent Italian. In the Census Bureau's most recent data set, however, German ancestry was by far the most common at 14 percent, followed by Irish at 10, English at 8, American at 7, and Italian at 5. It's possible the pollsters cast too wide a net for American" ancestry somehow and got a number of people who aren't American ancestry for Census purposes. That's because American ancestry is heavily concentrated in the mostly-white portions of the South, especially Appalachia, and it's one of the single-strongest correlations with Republican voting behavior.
For example, the highest levels of American ancestry statewide are in Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee, West Virginia, and North Carolina. German ancestry, by contrast, is pretty neutral when you correlate it with presidential election results at the county level: The most German states are North Dakota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa. Bear in mind, though, that there are few people in the Dakotas, and in terms of raw numbers, there are way more Germans in, say, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
● CA-Sen: Democrat Kamala Harris is out with her first two general election ads (here and here). She touts her efforts to make college affordable and her work as attorney general looking out for California's children. The second spot is in Spanish and also features endorsements from Obama and prominent Latinos.
● IN-Sen: The NRSC hits Democratic ex-Sen. Evan Bayh for selling out his influence to special interests. Senate Majority PAC and the National Education Association Advocacy Fund put a hefty $1.4 million behind an attack on Republican Todd Young for supporting outsourcing.
● MO-Sen: Republican Sen. Roy Blunt touts his efforts to support small businesses.
● NH-Sen: Democrat Maggie Hassan promises she will take on special interests if elected. VoteVets hits Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte for missing half of her committee hearings on homeland security, often to attend fundraisers.
● NV-Sen: Planned Parenthood puts seven figures behind a spot with shots of women with various messages displayed on the screen showing the services they rely on the organization for, such as cancer screenings. They then note that Republican Rep. Joe Heck repeatedly voted to defund Planned Parenthood. Aside from the disclaimer at the end, this ad is completely devoid of narration, which might have helped their message stand out more if viewers could have heard the content instead of just reading it. Meanwhile, the Senate Leadership Fund attacks Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto for being weak on sex traffickers while attorney general.
● CA-07: Democratic Rep. Ami Bera highlights his efforts to help veterans.
● CA-49: Republican Rep. Darrell Issa features Rudy Giuliani praising the congressman for his role in helping law enforcement and first responders after 9/11. He slams Democrat Doug Applegate over his recent attacks on Issa on the issue. Applegate links Issa to Trump and repeatedly plays a clip of Trump's infamous "Grab them by the [expletive deleted]" comment. Meanwhile, the DCCC's first ad similarly hits Issa for standing by Trump even after the explosive tape surfaced and also highlights Issa calling Trump "the obvious choice."
● CO-06: The NRCC attacks Democrat Morgan Carroll for wasting money by supposedly wanting to let welfare recipients spend their money on strip clubs and marijuana.
● FL-18: The NRCC slams Democrat Randy Perkins for overbilling taxpayers through his disaster relief company.
● IA-01: The NRCC scaremongers against Democrat Monica Vernon over supporting the Iran deal.
● IA-03: The NRCC hits Democrat Jim Mowrer over the Iran deal.
● ME-02: The NRCC goes after Democrat Emily Cain for supporting a carbon tax.
● MI-01: NRCC attacks Democrat Lon Johnson in two spots (here and here). The first one is about as subtle as a jackhammer and repeatedly plays a clip of Johnson saying "not one of us" to ding him on Obamacare, guns, and giving himself a raise. The use of that clip is the very definition of taking something out of context, since it comes from a Johnson ad where he attacked his Republican opponent, Jack Bergman, for being "not one of us!" The NRCC's second spot hits back at Democrats over their recent attacks against Bergman for owning a home in New Orleans and wanting to retire there, arguing Bergman had been stationed in Louisiana during his military service.
● NJ-05: Democrat Josh Gottheimer slams Republican Rep. Scott Garrett for sending New Jersey's tax dollars to other states, claiming he'll fight for a bigger share of the pie so that New Jersey can lower its local taxes.
● NV-03: House Majority PAC attacks Republican Danny Tarkanian with a spot that shows a crook digging a hole in the desert to bury evidence—in this case Tarkanian yard signs—but says the candidate can't do the same with his record. They call him out for failing to pay taxes and a $17 million judgment against him over a real estate deal, labeling him a "con man."
● PA-08: Republican Brian Fitzpatrick highlights his work as a prosecutor and FBI agent to argue Congress needs someone who knows a thing or two about keeping people safe.
● WI-08: The NRCC attacks Democrat Tom Nelson for raising taxes and increasing his own salary while in office.