● FL-Sen: Late on Tuesday, Politico reported that the DSCC was cancelling the first week's worth of ads it had planned to run on behalf of Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy beginning Sept. 20, but it very quickly became clear that this move was nothing like the committee's pullback in Ohio. That's because the DSCC said its money isn't going anywhere but rather will just get deployed closer to Election Day.
Furthermore, the pro-Democratic Senate Majority PAC is still scheduled to head on to the airwaves starting Sept. 13, and the powerful union AFSCME just announced that it's reserving $1.8 million in TV time for Murphy this month. While the NRSC of course tried to spin the DSCC's action as Democrats "bailing" on Florida, this is not what "bailing" looks like.
That said, the DSCC could certainly have handled this in a smarter way. Given the dismay caused by the Democrats' ongoing departure from Ohio, the committee would have been wise to get out in front of this Florida story by letting reporters know ahead of time that the move was coming, rather than letting them find out from nameless "media-buying sources." That way, you control the message that this is a reshuffling of resources, not a reduction.
The last thing you want is for stakeholders to get a mistaken impression of your commitment to a race as big as this one. The constituency for this sort of inside baseball is very small, but since those same people control some major purse-strings, it's also very influential. If there's one thing Democrats excel at, it's panic, so it's always wise to avoid fraying nerves whenever you can.
● AK-Sen: In 2010, tea partier Joe Miller won a shocking victory over Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the GOP primary, only for Murkowski to pull off a successful write-in campaign in the general election. Miller, who lost the 2014 Senate primary to now-Sen. Dan Sullivan, flirted with challenging Murkowski for renomination, but decided to pass. But this week, Miller was awarded the Libertarian Party nomination after their old nominee dropped out. It's extremely unlikely that the Murkowski's third battle with Miller will be anywhere near as interesting as either of their 2010 bouts, though. In other words, this is the Godfather III of this saga. Daily Kos Elections continues to rate the general as Safe Republican.
● Polls: We've got five new Senate polls for you to peruse today:
FL-Sen: PPP (D): Marco Rubio (R-inc): 40, Patrick Murphy (D) 37, Paul Stanton (Lib): 10 (44-43 Trump)
IA-Sen: PPP (D): Chuck Grassley (R-inc): 49, Patty Judge (D): 43 (45-43 Clinton)
NH-Sen: PPP (D): Maggie Hassan (D): 47, Kelly Ayotte (R-inc): 44 (46-41 Clinton)
NH-Sen: Emerson College Polling Society: Ayotte: 48, Hassan 46 (42-37 Clinton)
PA-Sen: PPP (D): Katie McGinty (D): 44, Pat Toomey (R-inc): 41 (47-42 Clinton)
The PPP surveys were taken on behalf of the Constitutional Responsibility Project's We Need Nine campaign, which is pushing for the confirmation of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, except for the Florida poll.
PPP's Sunshine State survey was conducted in-house, and what's interesting is that it's simultaneously one of the better results Murphy has seen and one of the better results Trump has seen. That's unusual, and it may have something to do with PPP testing the Libertarian candidate in the Senate race. But Stanton supporters don't appear to lean in any particular way, so PPP might simply be finding a more polarized electorate than other pollsters, who have typically seen Rubio winning a fair share of crossover votes. One other thing to note is that this poll was conducted Sunday through Tuesday, just after Hurricane Hermine hit north Florida.
● MO-Gov, MO-Sen: On behalf of the political newsletter Missouri Scout, the GOP pollster Remington Research takes another look at the Show Me State. In the gubernatorial contest, they find Democrat Chris Koster edging Republican Eric Greitens 46-42. That isn't very different from the 45-43 Koster edge they found in early August, even though Donald Trump has gone from a 44-42 lead to a 47-38 advantage since then. There is still very little public polling to work with here. In July, just before the GOP primary, Mason-Dixon gave Koster a monster 52-33 lead, while a mid-August Monmouth poll had him up 51-40.
Things are much more consistent in the Senate race. Remington has Republican Sen. Roy Blunt leading Democrat Jason Kander 47-40, which is identical to what they found in August. Since July, every poll we've seen has found Blunt with a 3 to 7-point edge. This race hasn't attracted too much attention, though the NRA recently reported a $641,000 TV/ internet buy against Kander; their ads are not available yet. A few weeks ago, the conservative group One Nation also launched a $1 million buy, while the Senate Leadership Fund reserved $2.5 million in fall TV time to support Blunt in June. However, outside spending has been light on the Democratic side so far.
● NH-Gov: With less than a week before the GOP primary, state Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley has endorsed Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas. Polling has been incredibly scarce here, and it's interesting that Bradley is betting on Gatsas instead of Executive Councilor Chris Sununu late in the game. Wealthy state Rep. Frank Edelblut and state Sen. Jeanie Forrester are also competing in the Sept. 13 primary.
Most of this race has been pretty quiet, but things are getting more interesting in the home stretch. Last week, Gatsas launched a negative spot against Sununu, arguing that he was too liberal when it came to Common Core, Planned Parenthood funding, and gas taxes. Sununu is hitting back with a new commercial, where he tells the audience that under Gatsas, taxes and crime are rising in Manchester. Sununu continues by defending his record and proceeds to counter all the arguments from Gatsas' last commercial, arguing that he's a solid conservative when it comes to Common Core, tax-payer funding for abortion, and gas taxes. Sununu wisely doesn't actually repeat Gatsas' attacks, but the whole spot still feels pretty defensive.
● FL-27: Longtime Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen looks safe in her 53-46 Obama Miami seat, even with Donald Trump on the ballot. Still, Ros-Lehtinen is taking Democrat Scott Fuhrman, the owner of a fruit juice company, seriously enough to launch two TV commercials against him. One spot features the father of a woman who was killed by a drunk driver arguing that Fuhrman shouldn't go to Congress "after also being convicted of possessing a firearm while intoxicated." A former police officer delivers a similar message in the other commercial.
As we noted when Fuhrman launched his campaign, he addressed his past right off the bat. In his announcement video, Fuhrman noted that, "When I was younger I made some bad decisions. I drove too fast, I raced cars, and I broke the law. I put myself and other people at risk." Fuhrman has been arrested four times: The most recent and serious incident was in 2009 when he was pulled over and admitted to having two drinks, and police found a loaded handgun in the car.
Fuhrman ended up paying a $1,071 fine and performing 56 hours of community service. When he entered the race, Fuhrman argued that he's changed and that unlike other politicians, he's being transparent about his past. Of course, few voters pay attention to candidate announcement videos, so Ros-Lehtinen's ads will be the first thing most viewers will hear about Fuhrman.
Fuhrman has loaned himself $500,000 so far, and he had a $344,000 warchest in mid-August. Ros-Lehtinen is sitting on $1.8 million, so she can afford to define Fuhrman as a sketchy character before Fuhrman can argue that he's turned his life around. Still, it's worth keeping an eye on this seat to see if outside groups sense that Trump could be endangering Ros-Lehtinen, or if these early ads close the book on this race quickly.
● KS-03: Democrat Jay Sidie has released a new poll of his race against GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder, but despite Donald Trump's apparent collapse in the Kansas City suburbs, Yoder has managed to keep his neck above those roiling orange waters. The survey, from GBA Strategies, finds Yoder leading Sidie 49-37, with Libertarian Steve Hohe taking 8 percent. At the same time, Hillary Clinton beats Trump 45-31, with Gary Johnson pulling in a large 17 percent of the vote.
That's a huge advantage for Clinton, considering that Mitt Romney carried this district 54-44 four years ago. But even a recent Yoder internal found Clinton ahead, albeit by a considerably smaller 44-38 spread. Still, this points to a problem we've seen for Democrats in some other suburban House districts, such as Minnesota's 3rd, where incumbent Republicans simply aren't linked deeply enough with their party's presidential nominee in voters' minds to cause serious downticket damage—at least not yet.
Sidie has to forge that link in order to pull off an upset, though another anvil may weigh even more heavily. GOP Gov. Sam Brownback's favorability rating is a brutal 18-70 in this district, after years of radical cuts to the state budget, and he could be more toxic than Trump: GBA's memo says that after respondents heard negative information about both candidates, "including attacks tying Sidie to Nancy Pelosi and linking Yoder to Gov. Brownback," Sidie moves into a 44-40 lead.
Of course, those kind of informed ballot tests represent an ideal-world scenario, where a candidate is able to spread his preferred message among the entire voter universe and doesn't face any unexpected stumbles or attacks. That's extremely unlikely to happen, especially given Yoder's huge financial advantage: The congressman has $2.2 million in the bank, versus just $73,000 for his challenger. Sidie would need some outside help to balance out this disparity, and this poll may be a signal to deep-pocketed Democrats in D.C. that they should take a flyer on him, but the contest is still very much a long-shot.
● NH-01: On Wednesday, ex-Sen. John Sununu (who will forever be known in our hearts as Bununu), endorsed businessman Rich Ashooh's primary challenge against GOP Rep. Frank Guinta. Surprisingly few other prominent New Hampshire Republicans have taken sides in this contest. A year ago, several Granite State GOP leaders called for Guinta to resign after he was fined by the FEC for an illegal 2010 six-figure donation from his parents. However, they haven't done much to help Ashooh topple Guinta in next week's primary for this swing seat.
● NY-22: A few days ago, the DCCC released a poll showing Republican Claudia Tenney and Democrat Kim Myers deadlocked 35-35, with wealthy independent Martin Babinec grabbing a hefty 21 percent. Team Red didn't waste much time releasing a Public Opinion Strategies poll conducted for Tenney and the NRCC giving her a 33-27 lead over Myers, with Babinec close behind at 23.
Romney carried this Utica-area seat just 49.2-48.8, but POS has Donald Trump beating Hillary Clinton 43-34 here. This seat has a lower proportion of college graduates and a smaller median income that the nation as a whole, so it's plausible that Trump could improve on Romney's performance, though that's still a large swing to the GOP. However, the DCCC notably did not include presidential numbers in their release, which suggests that Clinton isn't doing particularly well here.
● WA-07: State Sen. Pramila Jayapal has released a new poll from GBA Strategies showing her with a 43-29 lead on state Rep. Brady Walkinshaw, a fellow Democrat, in this November's general election for Seattle's open 7th Congressional District. That's a commanding advantage, but Walkinshaw's campaign pointed out the same thing that occurred to us: Jayapal took 42 percent of the vote in August's top-two primary while Walkinshaw finished second with 21 percent, so according to Jayapal's own poll, her opponent has made gains while she really hasn't.
Of course, Walkinshaw's team didn't provide any contradictory data, so they agree that Jayapal is ahead, though obviously they're rooting for this trend to continue. However, Jayapal is much closer to the 50 percent mark, and she also has more money for the stretch run, so Walkinshaw remains the underdog in this dark blue seat.
● AZ-Sen: Republican Sen. John McCain continues to attack Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick on Obamacare.
● FL-Sen: On his first general election ad, Democrat Patrick Murphy attacks Republican incumbent Marco Rubio's weak Senate attendance while highlighting his record protecting women's healthcare and Medicare. The NRSC argues that Murphy embellished his resume. The Koch brothers' LIBRE Initiative is putting $700,000 behind a spot in English and Spanish that says that Murphy voted for laws that helped his family's company and his allies, while Rubio stands up for the state.
● IA-Sen: At the end of an otherwise unmemorable ad from Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley promoting his work on local wind energy, Grassley himself appears at the top of a wind turbine.
● IN-Sen: Democrat Evan Bayh describes how he worked with then-GOP Sen. Richard Lugar to save Indiana auto jobs during the Great Recession, and says that Republican Todd Young opposed the plan. The narrator argues that Young called saving the jobs a waste, and the commercial then features a clip of Young declaring, "What a waste. All the more reason to let it go belly up."
● LA-Sen: Rep. John Fleming, one of several Republicans competing in the November jungle primary, is launching a "seven-figure" ad campaign. The commercial is very similar to a biographical ad that Fleming ran in April that promotes his humble origins, military and medical careers, and conservative record. This time, he doesn't brag that he helped force John Boehner out of the speakership. Fleming doesn't appear to have run any commercials between April and now.
● NC-Sen: Democrat Deborah Ross argues that Republican Sen. Richard Burr wants to privatize Medicare, a plan that she says will help his donors and hurt seniors.
● NH-Sen: Democrat Maggie Hassan links Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte to special interests, saying the incumbent puts their agenda over New Hampshire.
● NV-Sen: In a Spanish ad, Senate Majority PAC links Republican Joe Heck to Donald Trump.
● PA-Sen: Democrat Katie McGinty argues that Republican incumbent Pat Toomey voted against closing a loophole that makes it easier for terrorists to buy guns. The League of Conservation Voters adds another $1 million to an ad campaign tying Toomey to big oil, bringing the total size of the buy to $1.4 million.
● NC-Gov: Republican Gov. Pat McCrory continues to dig in and defend HB2, the state's notorious anti-LGBT law that requires individuals to use restrooms in government buildings that correspond with the sex shown on their birth certificates rather than the gender they identify with. This time, McCrory argues that "other folks were actually pushing to make our schools allow boys to use the girls' locker rooms and showers." McCrory tells the audience that privacy and safety comes before political correctness. The RGA says that Democrat Roy Cooper did a poor job as state attorney general.
● CA-07: Both candidates are out with their first spots. Democratic Rep. Ami Bera argues that he's fought for healthcare in Congress. Republican Scott Jones, the Sacramento County sheriff, describes how a deported man came back to the US and killed two of his deputies, and pledges to close the "end the revolving door to our borders."
● CA-36: In his first general election ad, Democratic Rep. Raul Ruiz references ads from past cycles. Ruiz shows an old clip where he told the audience that he still drives the car he got in medical school because he didn't become a doctor to get a fancy vehicle, and that he isn't running for Congress to get a tax-payer funded ride. Present-day Ruiz says he still has that car and the only thing that's changed is he has two young children now.
● CO-06: In her first spot, Democrat Morgan Carroll pledges to fight to make college more affordable and notes how she worked to put herself through school.
● IN-02: Democrat Lynn Coleman talks about his time on the South Bend police force and calls for sending more regular people to DC.
● MN-08: The NRCC argues that Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan repeatedly voted against pay raises for soldiers while voting to raise his own salary. The spot has an actor portraying Nolan falling asleep in front of the TV as the narrator describes how "comfortable" he is in Congress, which is slightly more subtle that yelling, "Rick Nolan is old!"
● NE-02: Democratic Rep. Brad Ashford has two new spots (here and here). His first commercial highlights Ashford's record on national security, noting he "stood up to my own party" to oppose the Iran nuclear deal and closing the Guantanamo Bay prison. In his second spot, Ashford says that he donates ten percent of his congressional salary to pay for scholarships.
● NV-03: In his first general election ad, Republican Danny Tarkanian highlights his family's record helping Nevada's youth. There's a picture of what looks like a younger Tarkanian with his father, the late UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, and the spot ends with the candidate standing in front of several kids on a basketball court.
● NY-03: Republican Jack Martins is out with his first two ads (here and here). The first spots feature Martins with his daughters where he calls for equal pay and tax cuts. The second ad also features Martins and his daughters as he talks about equal pay for women.
● NY-22: Democrat Kim Myers is out with her first three commercials (here, here, and here). Myers promotes her work growing her family's company, Dick's Sporting Goods, local roots, and work in the community.
● NY-24: Democrat Colleen Deacon talks about her work helping local businesses while working for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and pledges to close tax loopholes.
● PA-08: In his first general election ad, Democrat Steve Santarsiero promotes his record in the legislature and refusal to take perks.
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir and Jeff Singer, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, and Stephen Wolf.