● FL-Sen: National Democrats gradually canceled all of their TV reservations in the Florida Senate race over the last month, leaving Democrat Patrick Murphy to fend for himself against Republican incumbent Marco Rubio. However, while the polls consistently show Rubio ahead, his 46-41 edge in the Daily Kos Elections polling average isn't insurmountable. Politico recently reported that Harry Reid, Bill Clinton, and Florida Sen. Bill Nelson all were trying to convince incoming Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer to divert resources back to Murphy, and Team Blue seems to be listening.
On Thursday, the Democratic group Senate Majority PAC announced that they had transferred "seven figure[s]" to Floridians for a Strong Middle Class, a super PAC supporting Murphy. It's unclear how much money SMP is sending over to help Murphy, or if they plan to get involved in other ways. At the very least, their move signals to other Democratic groups and donors that they believe Murphy can unseat Rubio. Murphy himself also recently loaned his campaign $1 million. SMP's move is a good start, but with early voting well underway, the clock is ticking, and Murphy is going to need a lot more support if he's going to defeat Rubio.
● AZ-Sen: Some people apparently have nothing better to do than lose Senate races. Ex-state Sen. Kelli Ward challenged Sen. John McCain in the August GOP primary and lost 51-40. Even though McCain is utterly despised by plenty of Republicans nationwide, Ward raised very little money from his detractors, nor did she attract much outside support. But Ward announced on Thursday that she would try to unseat Sen. Jeff Flake in the 2018 primary. Flake has made some enemies in the GOP for his refusal to back Donald Trump, and maybe someone can beat him in two years, but that someone almost certainly isn't Kelli Ward.
● LA-Sen: Market Research Insight is out with a new poll of November's jungle primary. The Advocate has the trendlines for a September poll we hadn't seen until now; no MRI client was identified.
State Treasurer John Kennedy (R): 17 (18)
Rep. Charles Boustany (R): 16 (12)
Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D): 14 (10)
Attorney Caroline Fayard (D): 12 (11)
Rep. John Fleming (R): 7 (10)
We also have one of the most scummy ads of the year, courtesy of Democrat Caroline Fayard. Fayard's spot, which is not online, accuses fellow Democrat Foster Campbell of "gladly chat[ing] with David Duke. In a recent forum, Campbell even sided with Duke." The audience then hears Campbell say, "I might be like Mr. Duke," before the narrator declares that both Campbell and Duke are the past, and Fayard is the future. David Duke is the notorious former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, and he's running for Senate as a Republican.
So what horrible thing did Campbell say that has Fayard comparing the two men? The Times-Picayune has the summary:
But the ad provides no context to Campbell's statement. It doesn't tell viewers that Campbell was answering a moderator's question that asked him to name two tax exemptions he'd like to eliminate if elected senator. Duke, who also attended that Aug. 9 forum, had answered that question a few moments before.
"Oh yeah, you know I can name, I may be like Mr. Duke , I might be able to name like 10" tax exemptions, Campbell said.
So because Campbell offhandedly said that, like David Duke, he wants to name more than two tax expeditions he's like to eliminate, Fayard is declaring that he sided with one of the most prominent racists and anti-Semites in America. That's nothing short of disgusting.
Luckily, Fayard's team seems to have partially been done in by their own incompetence. The forum where the exchange took place banned audio and video recording (though that didn't stop Fayard from getting this snippet into their ad). However, while the Campbell campaign gave the Times-Picayune the transcript of the event, the paper also found a copy of the exchange on Fayard's own site.
● NC-Sen: Chutzpah, thy name is Richard Burr. The Republican senator is out with a spot accusing Democrat Deborah Ross of using "$267,000 in tax credits she championed to remodel her luxury homes," with the narrator saying Ross refuses to release her tax returns. Burr's wife Brooke appears and decries what she calls Ross' false attacks, with Brooke Burr insisting that she's built a small business, "and our tax returns prove it." It really wouldn't be an interesting ad, except that, as McClatchy recently noted, Richard Burr has never released his own tax returns during his 22 years in Congress. Also, Burr still backs Donald Trump, who also refuses to release his tax returns.
● Polling Roundup: Today's Senate and gubernatorial polls:
● FL-Sen: University of North Florida: Marco Rubio (R-inc): 49, Patrick Murphy (D): 43 (43-39 Clinton) (Oct.: 47-41 Rubio)
● FL-Sen: Dixie Strategies (R): Rubio (R-inc): 49, Murphy (D): 43 (46-42 Trump)
● MO-Gov: Remington Research (R) for the Missouri Times: Chris Koster (D): 47, Eric Greitens (R): 45 (50-39 Trump) (Oct.: 48-39 Koster)
● NH-Sen: Marist: Kelly Ayotte (R-inc): 48, Maggie Hassan (D): 47 (45-36 Clinton) (Sept.: 52-44 Ayotte)
● NH-Gov: Marist: Colin Van Ostern (D): 47, Chris Sununu (R): 46 (45-36 Clinton)
● NV-Sen: Marist: Joe Heck (R): 49, Catherine Cortez Masto (D): 42 (43-43 presidential tie) (Sept.: 47-45 Heck)
● OR-Gov: Clout Research (R): Kate Brown (D-inc): 45, Bud Pierce (R): 43 (July: 43-42 Brown)
● PA-Sen: Siena: Katie McGinty (D): 47, Pat Toomey (R-inc): 44 (46-39 Clinton)
● WA-Gov: University of Washington: Jay Inslee (D-inc): 51, Bill Bryant (R): 45 (53-39 Clinton)
Both the University of North Florida and Republican pollster Dixie Strategies capture Republican Sen. Marco Rubio leading by 49-43, but they strongly disagree over the presidential race there. Needless to say, Democrats would much rather prefer Hillary Clinton wins the state by 4 points instead of losing it by that margin, since Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy wouldn't need as many split-ticket voters to win if she prevails.
Marist finds both of New Hampshire's Senate and gubernatorial races tight as a tick, which is about what other pollsters have found, while their Pennsylvania Senate matchup placing Democrat Katie McGinty ahead 47-44 isn't out of line with what we should expect when the Daily Kos Elections polling average shows a 43-43 tie. Unfortunately, Marist's Nevada Senate results are just outright ugly for Democrats, with Republican Rep. Joe Heck spotting his biggest lead in any public poll there in three months at 49-42. Like Pennsylvania, our polling average finds Nevada roughly tied 43-43, so for now this poll looks like it might be a bit too good to be true for Republicans.
Two Republican polls find Democrats leading for governor in a pair of states. Remington Research has frequently surveyed Missouri's gubernatorial race, and while their result showing Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster leading 47-45 seems reasonably in line with other polling placing him ahead, Koster's victory margin keeps bouncing around wildly in the firm's polls, which makes their numbers somewhat less reliable. Clout Research again finds Oregon quite close, but both parties certainly aren't acting like they think this race is competitive, and other surveys indicate a more substantial lead for Democratic Gov. Kate Brown.
● KS-03: Bet Kansas Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder wishes he could unsay this:
"Well, I'm a Republican, so I'm going to be supporting the Republican nominee… no matter what crazy things he says."
That video of Yoder addressing a group of local Cub Scouts, which was posted by the Washington Post on Thursday, is from Oct. 11, days after the infamous Donald Trump "Access Hollywood" tape broke.
This cycle, Yoder faces Democrat Jay Sidie, and national Democrats recently began running commercials here. While Romney carried this suburban Kansas City seat 54-44, Trump is not an asset in this area. Even an August poll from Yoder's campaign showed Clinton ahead 44-38 in Kansas' 3rd Congressional District, and Democratic surveys have found The Donald in worse shape here.
Sidie and his allies have mostly focused on tying Yoder to Gov. Sam Brownback, who is even more unpopular than Trump here. But if Team Blue is looking to run some commercials connecting Yoder to Trump, expect this clip to wind up in a their spots.
● NH-01: A few weeks ago, national Democrats completely canceled their planned TV spending for New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District. One of those groups, House Majority PAC, released a poll shortly before it pulled out showing Democrat Carol Shea-Porter leading scandal-tarred GOP Rep. Frank Guinta 44-34, so Team Blue was certainly acting like they believed Shea-Porter was well-positioned to win. However, Guinta's allies at the NRCC still had millions of their own reserved here, so they still seemed to believe that Guinta had a good chance to keep his seat. But that's now changed.
According to a Democratic source who tracks media buys, the NRCC has now canceled all their remaining TV reservations as well—$2 million worth for the final two weeks of the campaign—and no conservative groups have swooped in to fill the void. Guinta himself doesn't have much money left, so he's not in a good position to carry on against Shea-Porter without any outside help. And independent polling also shows Guinta trailing, so it's very unlikely that Team Red is making this move because they're confident he's ahead.
Ultimately, we can't say we're surprised at this state of affairs. Guinta has been in political hot water since May of last year, when the FEC ruled that he'd illegally accepted a $355,000 campaign donation from his parents in 2010, during his first bid for Congress. Prominent New Hampshire Republicans excoriated Guinta and demanded he resign, but he decided to seek another term despite the near-universal opprobrium.
Guinta should have taken that advice. His war chest took a huge hit after he paid a fine to the FEC and repaid his parents, and donors were reluctant to help him replenish it, leaving him without much money to forge ahead. Guinta got extremely lucky in September's GOP primary, as businessman Rich Ashooh wasn't quite strong enough to defeat him, but the incumbent's narrow 649-vote win left the him with even less money or and little time to prepare for his general election rematch with Shea-Porter.
With both parties acting like Guinta is history, Daily Kos Elections is moving this contest from Tossup to Lean Democratic. This race may shift even further in the Democratic direction before Election Day, but there are still a few things to give Guinta some hope. Obama only carried this Manchester seat 50-49, so there are still quite a few conservative voters here. Wealthy independent Shawn O'Connor also complicates things a bit: O'Connor is a former Democrat, and his ads have been aimed more at liberal voters than Republicans, so he could end of taking some critical votes from Shea-Porter. It's also possible that a well-funded conservative group like the Congressional Leadership Fund could step in and fill the void that the NRCC has left.
But right now, Guinta's own party is triaging this race. He's going to need a lot of luck if hopes to win his fourth straight battle with Shea-Porter, but with just two weeks left, Fortuna is not smiling down upon him.
● IN-Sen: VoteVets (D).
● NH-Sen: Senate Majority PAC (D).
● NV-Sen: Joe Heck (R). Ending Spending spends $1 million arguing that Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto and retiring Sen. Harry Reid are both corrupt. EMILY's List (D).
● WI-Sen: Ron Johnson (R). Russ Feingold (D).
● MO-Gov: Eric Greitens (R).
● NC-Gov: If GOP Gov. Pat McCrory gets re-elected next month, it will almost certainly be in spite of HB2, North Carolina's infamous anti-LGBT law. Still, that's not keeping N.C. Values Coalition from recycling an ad an allied group ran last year in a successful campaign against Houston's nondiscrimination ordinance. The commercial doesn't directly reference HB2, but instead argues that Democrat Roy Cooper's plan will endanger women in bathrooms.
● NH-Gov: The DGA's "Put New Hampshire First."
● WV-Gov: Republicans have recently begun attacking Democrat Jim Justice over reports that he and his companies owe $15 million in taxes. Justice responds in a commercial, arguing that he "bought a number of failing businesses along with their bad debts," and unlike other coal companies, he's paying of the debts rather than taking the easy way out and declaring bankruptcy. Justice then tells the audience that "no one will ever make me feel bad about keeping hardworking West Virginians working."
● WV-Gov: Bill Cole (R).
● CO-03: Scott Tipton (R).
● FL-13: The conservative group People for Pinellas tries an interesting tactic where they portray GOP Rep. David Jolly as against both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The commercial starts with unflattering photos of Clinton and Trump, as the narrator characterizes them as, "These politicians. Making it about them, not us." He characterizes Democrat Charlie Crist as a longtime politician who has accomplished nothing, while praising Jolly for standing against Washington insiders. At the end it shows Trump, Clinton, and Crist on one side of the screen and Jolly on the other, and asks the audience to choose between "them" or "us."
● FL-18: Randy Perkins (D).
● KS-03: Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder's wife argues that, despite what Democrats say, Yoder cares about public schools and fights for them. For some reason, the copy of the ad the Yoder campaign uploaded to YouTube keeps flashing to black, creating an annoying strobe-like effect for the viewer.
● MI-01: Democrat Lon Johnson rolls out Bart Stupak, a conservative Democrat who represented this area from 1993 and 2011. Stupak tells the audience that he tries to stay out of politics, but "when [Republican] Jack Bergman said he wanted to privatize Social Security, I knew we had to talk."
● NV-03: The NRCC has a rare mostly-positive ad. After hitting Democrat Jacky Rosen as a rubber stamp for Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, the narrator praises Republican Danny Tarkanian. The spot argues that Tark says no to Obamacare, is against federal control of education, and will stand up to Hillary Clinton's tax increases.
● NY-22: Republican Claudia Tenney argues that, unlike her opponents, she'll stand up to special interests and push a conservative agenda. The screen also awkwardly displays a "96% Attendance in State Assembly" caption, which is a really half-assed effort to defend Tenney from months of ads arguing that Tenney barely showed up for work.
● TX-23: House Majority PAC (D).
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.