● FL-Sen: Earlier this fall, major Democratic groups like the DSCC and the Senate Majority PAC faced a difficult decision: Polling in Florida wasn't looking very good, and maintaining a presence on the airwaves in the third-largest state in the nation would be a very expensive prospect. Instead, they could spend that same money on a trio of races in much cheaper states—Missouri, Indiana, and North Carolina—in effect putting three races into play for the price of one.
That's exactly what they did, and Democrats indeed have a real shot at winning all three of those states. But now, with early voting underway and just two weeks left until Election Day, several recent Florida polls have shown Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy with a much-improved chance of defeating Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, and even Rubio's internal polling reportedly only has him up 4 to 5 points. And according to a new piece in Politico, Murphy's fans—including Harry Reid, Bill Clinton, and Florida Sen. Bill Nelson—all want to see a few million dollars sent back to the Sunshine State to help make a late gambit for this seat.
The problem is that the DSCC and SMP are almost certainly tapped out, so where could that money come from? The 18th paragraph of Politico's piece might actually be what reporters call the "nut graf": The story notes that former DSCC chair Chuck Schumer is sitting on a massive $20 million war chest, and that—stunningly—he's airing ads in New York City for his own completely uncompetitive re-election bid. Schumer could easily afford to send, say, $5 million to the DSCC and earmark it for Florida. So why isn't he? There are no good answers.
One other savior could be Priorities USA, the main super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton, which recently started airing ads against Republican senators in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania and could do the same further south. (Clinton might also have a vested interest in kneecapping Rubio, a possible 2020 White House challenger.) Another possibility is that Murphy's father, wealthy developer Tom Murphy, could possibly step in, though he's already donated millions to support his son (both to SMP and a separate super PAC).
But Schumer is the obvious choice, particularly since a Murphy victory could spell the difference between Schumer becoming his party's majority—rather than minority—leader next year when he succeeds Reid.
3Q Fundraising: Our third-quarter Senate fundraising chart is complete!
● AZ-Sen: Ann Kirkpatrick (D): $3 million raised, $1.5 million cash-on-hand
● FL-Sen: Marco Rubio (R-inc): $9 million raised, $5.5 million cash-on-hand; Patrick Murphy (D): $3 million raised, $2.8 million cash-on-hand
● GA-Sen: Johnny Isakson (R-inc): $1.2 million raised, $2.3 million cash-on-hand; Jim Barksdale (D): $322,000 raised, $400,000 loaned, $837,000 million cash-on-hand
● KY-Sen: Jim Gray (D): $1.3 million raised, $500,000 loaned, $1.3 million cash-on-hand
● LA-Sen: David Duke (R): $100,000 raised, $100,000 loaned, $38,000 cash-on-hand; John Kennedy (R): $782,000 raised, $1.3 million cash-on-hand
● PA-Sen: Katie McGinty (D): $5.4 million raised, $2.4 million cash-on-hand
● WI-Sen: Russ Feingold (D): $5.2 million raised, $4.8 million cash-on-hand
● FL-Sen: We have three polls of the Florida Senate race, and one of these things is not like the other:
● SurveyUSA: Marco Rubio (R-inc): 45, Patrick Murphy (D): 41 (48-45 Clinton) (June: 43-43 Senate tie)
● Selzer & Company: Rubio (R-inc): 51, Murphy (D): 41 (45-43 Trump)
● Florida Atlantic University: Rubio (R-inc): 46, Murphy (D): 42 (Clinton 46-43)
Two Republican pollsters privately told CNBC' John Harwood that no, they don't believe Trump has a small lead here, and local CBS reporter Jim DeFede tweets that, "Even Rubio's people have his lead around 4-5 points - not 10." The Daily Kos Elections polling average gives Rubio a 46-42 lead, about what SurveyUSA and FAU, as well as Rubio's seekret pollz, find.
● LA-Sen: Southern Media & Opinion Research is out with their second jungle primary poll for their "private subscribers," and they show early frontrunner John Kennedy, the GOP state treasurer, improving his position a bit since their September survey:
State Treasurer John Kennedy (R): 22 (17)
Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D): 16 (9)
Rep. Charles Boustany (R): 14 (15)
Attorney Caroline Fayard (D): 12 (11)
Rep. John Fleming (R): 9 (8)
A recent independent poll from Mason-Dixon also showed Kennedy and Democrat Foster Campbell taking the two spots that would send them to a December runoff. However, that poll found them both far ahead of their many rivals, with Campbell leading fellow Democrat Caroline Fayard 19-12 for the second-place spot, while SMOR has GOP Rep. Charles Boustany running very close to Campbell. Louisiana has become a reliably red state in federal elections, and Kennedy would certainly prefer to face a Democrat in December than a fellow Republican.
The only other poll we've seen this month was an internal poll for GOP Rep. John Fleming that showed Campbell easily taking first place with 25 and Fleming, Boustany, and Kennedy tied for the second slot with 16 percent each.
● Senate: The conservative Senate Leadership Fund is pouring more money into key Senate races. Politico reports that they'll drop an additional $4 million into Indiana, $2.6 million for New Hampshire, and $5.2 million for Pennsylvania. They're also investing in Missouri, North Carolina, and Nevada, though Politico and a recent article in The Hill disagree about how much they're sending in. Politico has $2.3 million going to Missouri while The Hill put the total at just $800,000. In North Carolina, Politico says the new reservation is for $3.2 million, while The Hill had $2.5 million. In Nevada, Politico has an additional $7.5 million, while The Hill said it's $8.3 million.
As Politico notes, TV time is very expensive now, so the SLF is getting less bang for their buck than groups that reserved earlier. Of course, in tight races, diminishing returns are better than no returns. The pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC Priorities USA recently ran spots in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, and BuzzFeed reports that they'll "likely" get involved in Nevada, North Carolina, and possibly Florida, though Indiana and Missouri are "unlikely" targets. Of course, Election Day is less than two weeks away and early voting is well underway, so if Priorities wants to act, the time for preparation is over. Or to quote Dark Helmet from Spaceballs: "What are you preparing? You're always preparing! Just go!"
● MT-Gov, MT-AL: We have our second independent poll of Montana for this cycle… but it's quite stale. Montana State University Billings was in the field Oct. 3 to Oct. 10, but they only released their numbers on Tuesday. To put that in perspective, if you finished a poll now and held it as long as MSU Billings did, the election would be over before you released it.
In any case, they give Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock a 44-32 lead over Republican Greg Gianforte, while Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke leads Democrat Denise Juneau 50-31, and Donald Trump leads 43-27. A recent Mason-Dixon poll showed Bullock up just 47-45, while Zinke and Trump led 53-40 and 46-36, respectively. The Democratic group House Majority PAC recently launched a $451,000 buy for Juneau, so they're almost certainly seeing much better numbers for Juneau than either MSU Billings or Mason-Dixon.
● NH-Gov, NH-Sen: Monmouth is out with another poll of New Hampshire. They show GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Democrat Maggie Hassan deadlocked 46-46, which is about par for the course here: The Daily Kos Elections polling average has Hassan ahead 46-44. They also have Hillary Clinton up 46-42, which is a bit smaller than her 46-39 average in the Granite State. However, their gubernatorial numbers are a bit more interesting. One month ago, Monmouth found Chris Sununu, a member of New Hampshire's powerful GOP political family, leading Democrat Colin Van Ostern by a 49-43 margin. Now, Monmouth has Van Ostern up 48-43, an almost complete reversal.
The last Monmouth poll was finished just after both Sununu and Van Ostern won their primaries, and neither was particularly well-known. The gubernatorial race has attracted far less money and attention than the presidential or Senate contests, and we wondered if Sununu, the son of former Gov. John Sununu and the brother of an ex-U.S. senator, could just coast to victory on the strength of his last name. And indeed, September polling consistently showed Sununu ahead.
However, both parties have been running commercials here, and they seem to have helped Van Ostern spring into the lead. The last public poll to show Sununu in the lead was a UMass Lowell survey from two weeks ago that had him up just 41-39. However, a MassInc poll from around that time showed Van Ostern ahead 47-44. In the last week, SurveyMonkey and the University of New Hampshire has Van Ostern ahead 53-43 and 44-38, respectively, while on Tuesday, YouGov dropped a poll showing him narrowly leading 44-43. We still have relatively few polls to work with, and they show everything from a 10-point Van Ostern victory to almost a tie. However, at the very least, it seems clear that Sununu's early lead has vanished as the candidates have become better known.
While the Senate race continues to dwarf the gubernatorial contest when it comes to outside spending, Sununu's allies at the Republican Governors Association are continuing to air ads. The RGA's latest spot, which comes from their "Live Free PAC," contrasts the two candidates. After the narrator argues that Sununu is a strong leader who "won't raise taxes," he declares that Van Ostern is an Obamacare lover who wants to bring Syrian refugees to New Hampshire and "won't rule out higher taxes." It's a pretty bland offering compared to the more-focused Democratic spots that have portrayed Sununu as a heartless CEO who cut his employees' benefits.
● FL-07: The NRCC is out with their first ad, where it accuses Democrat Stephanie Murphy of being a protégé of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. The spot itself isn't very remarkable, but it's interesting that national Republicans are still using Pelosi as their boogeyman six years after she left the speaker's chair in this contest, and in several others.
It may be that, with Barack Obama popular nationally and Hillary Clinton polling well in the presidential contest, Republicans have decided that neither of them makes a good punching bag outside of areas that Donald Trump is likely to win. Pelosi does still poll poorly nationally, so maybe Republicans can still score points by contrasting themselves with her. Still, it's unclear if enough persuadable voters actually care strongly enough about the former speaker after all this time to respond to these ads, or if Team Red just doesn't have anyone better to use as a villain right now.
● IA-01: The pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC Priorities USA is playing in their first House race, with a spot aimed at Iowa GOP Rep. Rod Blum. Their spot features several unflattering clips of Donald Trump, including a portion of the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape, before Blum is shown declaring, "Send me back to Congress, and you send Donald Trump to the White House." The narrator then reminds viewers that Blum still backs Trump. There is no word on the size of the buy, nor word what other House races Priorities plans to get involved in.
Obama won this eastern Iowa seat 56-43, but Blum has proven to be surprisingly resilient in his match with Democrat Monica Vernon. A recent poll for the DCCC found Clinton carrying Iowa's 1st 46-39, but had Vernon up only 48-47.
● NE-02: The conservative Congressional Leadership Fund is out with a poll from North Star Opinion Research that gives Republican Don Bacon a 48-44 lead over Democratic Rep. Brad Ashford, while Donald Trump leads 44-40 here. Roll Call says that an unreleased poll from late August had Bacon down 47-41. A month ago, Ashford released a poll showing him ahead 50-40, but we haven't seen any other polls here since then. Both parties are spending heavily in this Omaha seat, which Romney carried 53-46 but Hillary Clinton is contesting.
● NH-01: The presence of Shawn O'Connor, a wealthy Democrat-turned-independent, has complicated the contest between GOP Rep. Frank Guinta and Democrat Carol Shea-Porter a bit. Guinta is out with a commercial that targets both of his opponents: The narrator argues that both "liberal Carol Shea-Porter" and "[P]rogressive Shawn O'Connor" will just be rubber stamps for Hillary Clinton. He goes on to say they'll push an agenda full of higher taxes, more spending, and a weaker national defense.
Guinta doesn't seem to be trying to encourage liberal voters to jump from Shea-Porter to O'Connor, since he attacks them both using almost the exact same language. The incumbent may instead be worried that too many conservatives are backing his two opponents, and he's hoping to push them back towards him.
O'Connor is also out with a new commercial. It's a pretty dull biographical ad, though his language about helping working families will probably appeal more to Democrats than Republicans. It's unclear how much money O'Connor is putting into his spots: He had only $24,000 in the bank at the end of September, but he recently contributed another $150,000 to his campaign. National Democrats have canceled their spending here, so they don't seem to think the independent will be a problem for Shea-Porter.
● NY-19: End Citizens United, a group that is supporting Democrat Zephyr Teachout, is out with a PPP survey giving her a small 44-41 lead against Republican John Faso, while the presidential race is tied 46-46 in this Hudson Valley seat. In late September, a Siena poll gave Faso a 43-42 edge. Teachout has decisively outraised Faso, but national Republicans are heavily outspending Democratic groups in this contest.
● VA-05: On Tuesday, the conservative Congressional Leadership Fund announced that they were doubling their investment in Virginia's 5th Congressional District, taking their TV reservation from $400,000 to $800,000. That's pretty surprising since, in the last few days, both candidates have dropped polls showing Team Red ahead in the race for this 53-46 Romney seat. Republican Tom Garrett's survey has him up 50-39, while Democrat Jane Dittmar gives Garrett a smaller, but still clear, 47-41 edge. Maybe CLF is just playing it safe, but their move at least suggests that they're a bit worried about this district.
● FL-Sen: Florida First Project (R); $1.1 million buy.
● IN-Sen: More NRA (R); $500,000 buy. Ending Spending (R); $1 million buy. VoteVets (D).
● LA-Sen: It's a testament to how off-the-wall the ads from Republican John Kennedy have been that this one might be his most normal spot yet. Kennedy starts off saying, "Congressmen are like throat lozenges … soothing words, but they never solve the underlying problems," before going on to bemoan foreign trade deals that cost Louisiana jobs.
● NC-Sen: Democrat Deborah Ross once more features former state Sen. Fountain Odom to push back against the endless attacks against her over the state's sex offender registry. Odom, one of the registry law's primary sponsors, again emphasizes that he has worked with Ross to strengthen it, contrary to Republican claims that Ross opposed it entirely.
Meanwhile, the NRSC continues to hammer Ross for "trying to free" rapist Andre Green, with the shameful implication that accused criminals shouldn't have the right to legal counsel. What's worse, this ad is just outright misleading, because Ross was never Green's lawyer, but merely filed a friend-of-the-court brief asking that Green, a "borderline retarded" 13-year-old, be tried as a juvenile instead of face a mandatory life sentence as an adult, which is a crucial bit of context the NRSC of course totally ignores.
● NC-Sen: NRA (R); End Citizens United (D)
● NH-Sen: Democrat Maggie Hassan features her daughter Meg and her disabled son Ben, with Meg noting her mother is always looking out for how to overcome challenges, and that's why she got into public service.
● NH-Sen: Senate Majority PAC (D).
● NV-Sen: Republican Joe Heck features ex-Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki's daughter Kate accusing Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto of indicting her father in 2008 while attorney general solely to prevent him from running against then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in 2010.
● NV-Sen: DSCC.
● PA-Sen: Republican Sen. Pat Toomey uses an image of a literal blank check to say that Democrat Katie McGinty will enable whatever Hillary Clinton wants, instead arguing he will fight Clinton's "liberal agenda," which is an odd phrase to use in a long-time blue state where Clinton is easily winning.
● WI-Sen: Reform America Fund rips off Lyndon Johnson's famous 1964 "Daisy" ad to argue that Democratic ex-Sen. Russ Feingold's positions endanger America, showing several kids counting down from 10 before a giant mushroom cloud fills the screen, while they scaremonger about the Iran nuclear deal. What this group doesn't seem to get is that LBJ's ad wasn't effective just because of a giant nuclear explosion, but because Americans during the Cold War really were terrified of the threat of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, his opponent Sen. Barry Goldwater had openly suggested using offensive nuclear weapons in Vietnam. That message just lacks the same punch today.
● NC-Gov: RGA.
● AZ-02: The Congressional Leadership Fund must feel compelled to shore up this seat, because even though national Democrats don't appear to have spent any serious money against Rep. Martha McSally, CLF is still attacking Democrat Matt Heinz. The ad hits him over Obamacare and the Iran nuclear deal, calling Heinz a rubber stamp for Nancy Pelosi.
● CA-10: Democrat Michael Eggman's well-produced ad links Republican Rep. Jeff Denham to Trump, noting how Denham bragged about directing taxpayer money to one of Trump's hotels, while Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women. The spot smartly uses clips of Trump's own words from the infamous groping tape and when he falsely claimed "there is no drought" in the Central Valley to skewer Denham for continuing to support Trump in spite of everything. A Spanish version of this spot hits on the same themes and also plays audio of Trump's disparaging remarks about Mexicans.
● FL-13: Charlie Crist (D).
● IA-01: American Action Network (R).
● KS-03: Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder is out with two spots (here and here). The first one features baseball legend George Brett of the Kansas City Royals praising Yoder for standing up for the community and turning down government job perks, with Brett rhyming and calling himself a proud "Yoder voter."
The second ad slams Democrat Jay Sidie for supposedly lying about running an investment advice business and breaking the law by not being registered to do so. However, just like in his previous ad, Yoder ignores that the law provides for an exemption, which Sidie says he qualifies for, and that no legal action has been taken on Republicans' ethics complaint against Sidie.
● ME-02: House Majority PAC (D). League of Conservation Voters (D); $230,000 buy.
● MI-08: American Action Network feels the need to attack Democrat Suzanna Shkreli, utilizing the "checks and balances" argument against her and claiming she will be a stooge for Nancy Pelosi.
● MN-02: Angie Craig (D).
● NE-02: Don Bacon (R).
● NY-22: NRCC.
● WA-07: Democrat Pramila Jayapal starts with an image of Trump insulting Clinton to call out the negative attacks against her by fellow Democrat Brady Walkinshaw, insinuating that they demean women. However, there really isn't much merit to her claim in this instance. Walkinshaw's recent attack ad merely stuck to Jayapal's record as a legislator and certainly didn't resort to ugly sexist name-calling like Trump has done. Meanwhile, EMILY's List praises Jayapal for fighting for women's interests.
● WI-08: Mike Gallagher (R).
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.