● IN-09: Wealthy businessman Trey Hollingsworth's central flaw as a candidate is the fact that he nakedly carpetbagged over from Tennessee just as Indiana's 9th District came open last year, then lucked into the GOP nomination by overwhelming a surprisingly weak field with his family's personal wealth. Ever since, Democrats have hammered Hollingsworth for his lack of ties to the Hoosier State, and this issue is very likely the reason that he's unexpectedly locked in a close race with Democrat Shelli Yoder, despite the fact that this area is very strongly Republican.
So the very last thing Hollingsworth needed was this new AP story, which says that legal papers he filed to serve as a "registered agent" for his real estate business obligate him to simultaneously reside in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Ohio! Amazing that you could have five home states, and none of them are the one you're seeking office in. (Hollingsworth blames it all on a clerical error, of course.) But wait, it gets better:
During an interview with the AP last month, Hollingsworth noted that he lived in South Carolina before moving to Indiana, but refused to say specifically where else he has lived.
"I'd have to go back and look," he told the AP. "We lived in a variety of places. We lived in Louisville, Kentucky, at one time and a variety of places."
This is like John McCain not knowing how many homes he owned—remember that glorious bit of disconnectedness? And Hollingsworth, by the way, is just 33 years old, so no matter how peripatetic he might be, it's not exactly believable that he can't recall where he's lived over the years. There's not much time left before Election Day, but these revelations reinforce what was already a very corrosive narrative for Hollingsworth, and that only hurts his chances further.
● CO-Sen: Read into this what you will: Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, who has for quite some time looked entirely safe for re-election, is airing a late negative ad slamming his opponent, the underfunded and virtually abandoned Darryl Glenn. The spot portrays Glenn as a "fringe Republican" (he is) who "doesn't believe in climate change," supports "eliminating the Department of Education," and wants to "outlaw abortion, even in the cases of rape and incest." The ad concludes with a clip of Glenn declaring, "I'm running against the Democrats. I'm running against evil."
While conventional wisdom holds that candidates don't air attack ads unless they're uncertain of victory, even seemingly secure incumbents do so with some regularity. After all, there are limits to what polling can tell you, and if your campaign is well-funded, why not spend some cash on coffin nails? And we don't even know how much Bennet is spending on this ad—for all we know, it could be very little.
What's more, there are plenty of reasons to think Bennet is still in solid shape. Though a new SurveyMonkey poll finds him ahead just 48-46, he enjoys a much wider 49-39 advantage in the Daily Kos Elections average and has led from the very start of the race. In fact, of the 20 polls in our database, Bennet has only trailed in one, a bonkers September survey from the right-wing Gravis Marketing. And perhaps most importantly of all, Republicans haven't moved a dime into Colorado, suggesting they don't think there's a hidden opportunity here.
● LA-Sen: Late last week, Lucid released a mid-October poll of the Nov. 8 jungle primary:
John Kennedy (R): 18
Foster Campbell (D): 17
Charles Boustany (R): 12
Caroline Fayard (D): 12
John Fleming (R): 10
The sample gives Donald Trump just a 43-40 lead in Louisiana, which seems far too good to have been true at any point in this race.
● WI-Sen: The final 2016 poll of Wisconsin from Marquette Law School came out on Wednesday, and it shows Democrat Russ Feingold leading GOP Sen. Ron Johnson by just a 45-44 margin. Marquette has a well-deserved reputation for accuracy, after nailing both the 2012 and 2014 elections in its home state, so these results, combined with late injections of money on both sides, could be cause for concern from Democrats.
But there are two points worth making: First, Hillary Clinton sports a 46-40 advantage in this same poll, which is very similar to her 47-41 average lead. If Clinton does indeed carry Wisconsin, Johnson will face a serious downdraft. And second, the school's last poll, taken in early October, only found Feingold ahead 46-44. That's not exactly good news, but it's not as though Marquette sees Feingold undergoing a sharp late collapse. And more generally, as spot-on as Marquette has been in recent years, even very good pollsters can miss the mark. While overall polling has grown closer, Feingold still maintains a healthier 48-43 lead in the Daily Kos Elections average.
This is not to sound pollyana-ish, however. If Feingold doesn't win, that would come as a hefty shock, since Johnson looked so doomed all cycle that most Republican groups hadn't even bothered to get involved in the race until the last minute—and yet a Democratic loss is by no means impossible. While we're not at the level of a five-alarm fire, it's definitely gotten a lot sweatier, and the progressive group End Citizens United just became the latest outside organization to pile in, with a $500,000 TV ad campaign.
That takes the late Democratic spending that we're aware of to around $3.1 million, while Republicans are putting in about $3.8 million. That's a fair bit, and on top of that, the main pro-Clinton super PAC, Priorities USA, is starting to spend in Wisconsin for the first time. But Feingold still has the edge, particularly with Clinton leading.
● AZ-Sen: CNN/ORC: 54-41 McCain (R-inc) (49-44 Trump)
● AZ-Sen: Data Orbital: 50-40 McCain (R-inc) (45-41 Trump)
● AZ-Sen: Lucid: 52-40 McCain (R-inc) (42-41 Trump)
● CO-Sen: Lucid: 49-41 Bennet (D-inc) (44-37 Clinton)
● FL-Sen: CNN/ORC: 49-48 Rubio (R-inc) (49-47 Clinton)
● FL-Sen: TargetSmart: 49-43 Rubio (R-inc) (48-40 Clinton)
● MO-Sen: DFM Research (D) for SMART Transportation Division: 41-41 Senate tie (47-38 Trump)
● MO-Gov: DFM Research (D) for SMART Transportation Division: 45-39 Koster (D) (47-38 Trump)
● MO-Gov: PPP (D) for Protect Missouri Families: 47-44 Koster (D) (50-37 Trump)
● NV-Sen: CNN/ORC: 49-47 Heck (R) (49-43 Trump)
● NV-Sen: Lucid: 47-41 Cortez Masto (D) (45-38 Clinton)
● PA-Sen: CNN/ORC: 51-46 McGinty (D) (48-44 Clinton)
● PA-Sen: Monmouth: 47-44 McGinty (D) (48-44 Clinton)
● PA-Sen: Susquehanna Research (R): 47-41 McGinty (D) (45-43 Clinton)
This recent batch of polling has good news for John McCain, and sadly not the tongue-in-cheek kind, seeing as he leads by 10 points or more in three new surveys. But while Arizona always looked like a tough nut for Democrats to crack, Team Blue can take solace from the three new polls showing Democrat Katie McGinty narrowly defeating Republican Sen. Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, with even Republican pollster Susquehanna showing her prevailing. McGinty has recently built up a modest 45-42 edge in the Daily Kos Elections polling average, likely giving Democrats more reason to feel good about their chances here than in most of the other races rated as Tossups.
Two pollsters continue to find Republican Sen. Marco Rubio ahead in Florida, but like several recent polls, they disagree about whether it's particularly close or not. CNN gives Rubio a bare 49-48 lead, closely tied to the presidential race, while TargetSmart argues that the senator runs far ahead of Trump and beats Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy by a more comfortable 49-43, which is closer to Rubio's 47-42 polling average advantage.
Nevada Senate polling again lets you choose your own adventure: CNN/ORC says Republican Rep. Joe Heck leads 49-47, while Lucid counters that Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto leads by a relatively gaudy 47-41. Both pollsters indicate the presidential and Senate races could swing together, with CNN finding Trump up by 6 points, while Lucid strongly disagrees and says Clinton wins by 7 percent. That large discrepancy could explain how they found such divergent results for Senate, considering the polling averages show Clinton and Cortez Masto similarly leading by 1 percent each. (For what it's worth, Nevada reporter Jon Ralston said he thinks the CNN results are bunk.)
In addition, SurveyMonkey is out with a huge batch of new polls for all the major presidential, Senate, and gubernatorial contests, and there are plenty of eyebrow raising results. For instance, in the Colorado Senate race, Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet posts just a 49-47 lead over Republican Darryl Glenn, which would seem to foreshadow an utterly awful night for Team Blue. However, New Hampshire Democrat Maggie Hassan leads GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte 50-38, which would seem to foreshadow an utterly awesome night for Team Blue.
We have a lot of respect for Mark Blumenthal, SurveyMonkey's head of polling and the former chief of Huffington Post Pollster, so we don't want to pre-emptively declare these polls wrong, even though many of them are tough to reconcile with our polling averages. Luckily, we won't need to wait long to see how accurate SurveyMonkey is.
● FL-13: St. Pete Polls finds Democrat Charlie Crist leading GOP Rep. David Jolly by a 48-45 margin, exactly the same as in their last poll. And once again, they have Donald Trump doing surprisingly well in this seat that Barack Obama won 55-44, this time edging Hillary Clinton 47-46 (he trailed 48-46 a week ago). One possible theory as to Trump's seeming success here: This district has a sizable black population, and early voting statistics indicate that black voters are turning out in lower proportions than they did when Obama was on the ballot.
But Crist, at least, is still continuing to run ahead of the top of the ticket, and all recent polling has him winning. What's more, the NRCC hasn't spent a penny for Jolly, and according to our latest data, they've made no last-minute moves on his behalf. Meanwhile, though the DCCC and House Majority PAC had previously spent over $2.5 million combined for Crist, they have no TV time booked for the final two weeks of the race, which suggests they're feeling good about their chances here.
● IA-01: The conservative group Ending Spending is coming in with a late $300,000 buy on behalf of freshman GOP Rep. Rod Blum. Surprisingly, they're running a positive spot that mostly offers vague platitudes about how Blum will "clean up Washington." This probably comes in response to the pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC Priorities USA upping its own spending in the district on behalf of Democrat Monica Vernon: Initially, they were only putting in $60,000 but now have invested about $275,000. However, this is the only House race we're aware of that Priorities has taken an interest in.
● NY-19: SurveyUSA brings good news for Democrat Zephyr Teachout, who leads Republican John Faso 45-42 for this open seat even as Donald Trump holds a 45-42 edge on Hillary Clinton. That's very similar to a recent PPP survey for End Citizens United, a group that's backing Teachout, which found the Democrat ahead 44-41 and the presidential race tied at 46. Meanwhile, it appears that the DCCC has increased its paid media for the final week of the race by about $400,000, while total GOP spending looks to be flat. In total, though, Republicans are outspending Democrats for the stretch run.