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The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.
● CA-45, IL-06, PA-07: Unnamed GOP strategists tell the New York Times that there are "several" Republican House members in bad shape who "must recover quickly or risk losing funding," and they specifically name California Rep. Mimi Walters and Illinois Rep. Peter Roskam as two potential triage victims. Additionally, these operatives say they may soon redirect money from Pennsylvania's open 7th District to instead defend two nearby incumbents, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania's 1st and Tom MacArthur of New Jersey's 3rd.
We'll start with a look at Walters' race. Major outside groups are still spending heavily in this Irvine-based seat, which swung from 55-43 Romney to 50-44 Clinton, and the NRCC even added $600,000 to their buy a few weeks ago. However, there have been signs that Walters is not in good shape. Ominously, she recently released an internal poll but only shared selective parts of it, indicating she didn't like the overall numbers. At the same time, two independent polls taken in September showed Democrat Katie Porter ahead, though interestingly, the Democratic polls we've seen have given Porter a smaller edge.
Things look less bad for Roskam in Illinois, but that may only be because we have less data to work with. An early September Siena poll gave the incumbent a narrow 45-44 edge over Democrat Sean Casten in a suburban Chicago seat that swung from 53-45 Romney to 50-43 Clinton. However, Casten recently released his own poll giving himself a 49-44 edge, and this Times story makes it sound like the GOP doesn't have great numbers to counter with. The NRCC still is spending here for now at least, and Roll Call reports that they just launched a joint $700,000 buy with Roskam.
Finally, this report provides the latest sign that national Republicans are feeling queasy about Marty Nothstein's campaign for Pennsylvania's 7th, an open Lehigh Valley seat that voted 53-46 Obama and 49-48 Clinton. The NRCC recently said they'd reserved $1.5 million to aid him against Democrat Susan Wild, but they notably declined to even say when those ads would run. Bloomberg recently reported that the spots were scheduled to start on Oct. 2 but have yet to air, and this Times piece makes it sound like Nothstein will be lucky if they ever do.
Speaking of triage, Daily Kos has been tracking the House races where the big-money players have decided to reduce their ad reservations or stop them altogether—either because they feel supremely confident, or because they've concluded their candidate is doomed (though sometimes such moves can be ambiguous, as we explain here). We've now made one small but important change to our tracker whereby we've separated the moves that are favorable for Democrats from those that are positive for Republicans.
For instance, the NRCC recently canceled its ad reservations in Arizona's 2nd and Texas' 23rd, but for very different reasons. In Arizona, Republican Lea Marquez Peterson, who was already facing a tough battle for a GOP-held seat that Clinton won, badly trailed in the only poll that's been released, so we've classified this move as favoring Democrats. However, Texas Rep. Will Hurd has polled very well in his contest, and with major Democratic groups so far not advertising here, we've categorized this as a move that's good news for the GOP.
You can keep track of all the $1 million-plus House fundraising quarters announced so far right here. Quarterly House and Senate fundraising reports are due by Oct. 15.
● NJ-Sen: Patients For Affordable Drugs Action's newest spot against Republican Bob Hugin, which is part of their overall $3.2 million ad campaign, compares him to perhaps the most infamous pharmaceutical businessman alive.
The commercial begins with footage of Martin Shkreli walking past the courthouse as the narrator introduces him as "Pharma Bro, best known for raising the price of a life-saving drug." The narrator then declares that Hugin "raised the price of a life-saving drug, too, charging more than $600 for a pill that costs around $1 to make, which helped make him more than $100 million richer."
● TN-Sen: Democrat Phil Bredesen is up with a response ad to a recent commercial from Republican Marsha Blackburn arguing that he turned a blind eye to sexual harassment as governor. The spot features several women who worked with Bredesen declaring that Blackburn is lying about him and that he's "always had a zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment." They briefly address Blackburn's charge that he shredded documents to keep things quiet, with one woman declaring, "The only shredding was to protect the privacy of the victims of sexual harassment."
● Polls: Today's Senate polls:
In Missouri, 1st Tuesday is a brand-new outfit that describes itself as "a new bipartisan firm focused on state and international ballot referendums and initiatives" (most of their release is devoted to polling three different measures legalizing medical marijuana, all of which are favored by wide margins). The Senate numbers are very close to the Daily Kos Elections polling average, which you can access by clicking the race tag above. The poll was conducted online, and 1st Tuesday says it is "not involved with any of the candidates or ballot measures."
In Texas, Quinnipiac has tended to be among the most bearish pollsters for O'Rourke. That's a bit surprising since their first poll of the race—which was in fact the first-ever public survey of this contest—set the political world abuzz when it showed Cruz up just 47-44 back in April. Ever since, though, Quinnipiac's numbers have grown more pessimistic, which could be explained by their shift to likely voters from registered voters. Our average (not including this poll) has Cruz 49-44.
Finally, in West Virginia, the NRSC's poll is one of the best that Morrisey has ever seen, but even here he still trails. An internal from Morrisey last month had the race tied at 45, but all other polls over the last few months have shown Manchin with fairly comfortable leads. Without this poll, our average has the Democrat up 46-39, though that will narrow once these latest numbers are included.
● CT-Gov: Campaign finance reports for the third quarter are now in, and Democrat Ned Lamont ended September with a massive $5.5 million to $748,000 cash-on-hand advantage over Republican Bob Stefanowski. Lamont self-funded $8.2 million during this period and raised another $258,000 from donors. By contrast, Stefanowski raised $1.5 million from donors and only loaned himself another $400,000. Stefanowski's allies at the RGA have been spending here to help him avoid getting utterly swamped, and national Republicans recently sent another $1 million to their state affiliate.
Independent Oz Griebel took 11 percent of the vote in a Quinnipiac poll released this week that gave Lamont a 47-39 lead, but he may have a tough time maintaining that kind of support. Griebel loaned his campaign another $76,000, and he had $39,000 left to spend.
● LA-Gov: On Wednesday, businessman Eddie Rispone became the first noteworthy Republican to announce a bid against Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards in next year's contest. Rispone, the founder of an industrial contracting company, said he would set aside $5 million of his own money "to get started," which is about the same amount that Edwards has in the bank. Rispone added that he'll also be fundraising.
Rispone is a longtime GOP donor who has spent years involved in a campaign to separate several Baton Rouge neighborhoods from the city and incorporate them into a new community to be called St. George. Rispone's allies say this is a good way to address crime and inefficient government in the city, while critics argue this is simply an attempt by wealthy white residents to secede from predominantly black Baton Rouge and its public schools.
While Rispone is the first declared Republican candidate, he's very unlikely to be the last. Sen. John Kennedy has been flirting with a bid, and state Attorney General Jeff Landry and Rep. Ralph Abraham have also expressed interest. The filing deadline isn't until August.
● Polls: Today's gubernatorial polls:
- MI-Gov: Mitchell Research for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce: Gretchen Whitmer (D): 46, Bill Schuette (R): 38 (Sept.: 48-38 Whitmer)
- MN-Gov: Marist for NBC: Tim Walz (D): 51, Jeff Johnson (R): 36, Josh Welter (L): 6
- NV-Gov: Siena for the New York Times: Adam Laxalt (R): 46, Steve Sisolak (D): 45
Jon Ralston notes that Siena's Nevada poll did not include independent Ryan Bundy, the right-wing militiaman infamous for his family's armed standoffs with federal agents, whom Ralston says "is at 4-6 in every poll I know of." Ralton must be referring to private polling, because in the limited public polling available, Bundy hasn't been tested at all. However, some recent polls have asked about Libertarian Jared Lord, who has taken about 5 or 6 percent, but Siena did not include him.
● CA-50: Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar is up with a response spot to indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter's bigoted commercial where the Republican argued that Campa-Najjar was part of a terrorist plot to "infiltrate Congress." The commercial begins by reminding voters that Hunter "has been indicted on 60 counts of fraud and embezzlement," and blamed his wife for it. The narrator then cites the San Diego Union-Tribune calling Hunter's attacks on Campa-Najjar "pathetic" and "despicable."
● FL-15: The Club for Growth has announced a $300,000 ad campaign in support of Republican Ross Spano in what we believe is the first major outside spending for the general election. The Club recently released a poll showing Spano leading Democrat Kristen Carlson 46-39 in a central Florida seat that went from 52-47 Romney to 53-43 Trump.
● FL-18: Advertising Analytics reports that the DCCC is launching a $340,000 TV buy here next week against GOP Rep. Brian Mast. This will be the first major party spending on either side, though With Honor Fund has aired ads in support of Mast. In September we saw two Democratic polls giving Mast a 3-point edge over Democrat Lauren Baer in a coastal seat that went from 51-48 Romney to 53-44 Trump.
● ME-02, NC-09: The Democratic group Patriot Majority is spending another $532,000 on TV ads against Maine Rep. Bruce Poliquin, as well as $639,000 against Mark Harris in North Carolina.
● NH-01: While most Republican candidates are pretending that they want to save Social Security and that Democrats are the real threat, Eddie Edwards just said what so many conservatives are thinking but don't want to tell voters. At a Wednesday debate, the Republican declared that "we have a responsibility to make sure that we stabilize Social Security" before he immediately said, "But moving forward, we have to look at the way to start weaning people off of Social Security as well, in the future."
● NJ-11: House Majority PAC is out with its first TV spots against Republican Jay Webber (here and here), which it says are part of an $870,000 buy. Yahoo! News recently reported that no other national party groups from either side have booked any ad time here yet.
A previously unreleased July poll for End Citizens United has Bost up 50-41. In September, a Siena poll and a survey from the DCCC also gave Bost a 1-point edge in a downstate seat that swung from 50-48 Obama to 55-42 Trump.
The CLF released its poll of Illinois’ 13th days after Dirksen Londrigan released a poll giving Davis a narrow 49-48 lead.
This is the first poll we've seen from New York's 27th, where Democrats are hoping that Collins’ indictment will give them an opening in a Buffalo-area seat that went for Trump 60-35.
Elway's poll of Washington's 8th District is very different from the 46-45 Schrier edge in Siena's late-September poll. It's also worth noting that in the early August top-two primary, Democratic candidates took a total of 50 percent of the vote compared to 47 percent for Rossi and some minor Republican candidates. Washington's general election results usually track pretty closely to the top-two primary results, so it would be a very big swing if Rossi ended up prevailing by anything like 10 points.
Pollster Stuart Elway attributes Rossi’s strong showing to the Brett Kavanaugh hearings and confirmation. However, we're skeptical that could have helped the GOP this much, if at all, in a seat that narrowly backed both Obama and Clinton. Maybe Elway is on to something here, and the Supreme Court has given Rossi a big lift, but right now we suspect that it's more likely this sample is just a bit too conservative.