Our race ratings: Senate | Governor | House
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.
● House: With less than two weeks to go before Election Day, the House playing field appears to be expanding deeper into Republican turf as the GOP scrambles to defend seats that hadn't previously been at the top of Democratic target lists. In the last day alone, there've been notable developments in at least four Republican-held districts spread across the country.
● FL-15: Talking Points Memo reports that the Congressional Leadership Fund, which has the deepest pockets of any group on the Right, is swooping in with a $500,000 ad buy to help Republican Ross Spano ward off Democrat Kristen Carlson in Florida's open 15th District. The move comes just a couple of days after the DCCC jumped into the race with a reported $400,000 expenditure. So far, the committee has filed reports with the FEC showing it’s spent $150,000 on airtime. A recent pair of independent polls have the race for this 53-43 Trump seat neck and neck.
● NC-09: For the first time, the NRCC is moving into North Carolina's 9th District, where Democrat Dan McCready is putting up a stiff fight for this open 54-43 Trump seat. The committee is reportedly devoting $800,000 to ads here, though the CLF had already spent heavily in this district—at least $1.2 million. The DCCC and House Majority PAC have together spent about $1 million, but McCready himself has made up the gap by outraising Republican Mark Harris by a wide margin.
An early-October Siena poll put Harris ahead 47-42, but a SurveyUSA poll that was in the field simultaneously had McCready up 45-41.
● WA-03: In another, even bigger first, the NRCC is reportedly parachuting into Washington's 3rd District with a hefty $800,000 buy to protect GOP Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler. What makes this particularly notable is that this is the first serious outside spending from any of the "big four" House groups (on both sides). The House Majority PAC has, so far, spent only $52,000 here, though EMILY's List has put in $406,000 to help Democrat Carolyn Long.
A recent Siena poll gave Herrera Beutler a 48-41 lead, but a Democratic internal taken just days earlier had Long up 45-43. This seat went for Trump 50-43.
● WI-06: Glenn Grothman is panicking. On a recent conference call with party leaders, Politico reports, the Republican congressman begged for help in responding to harsh ads from Democrat Dan Kohl attacking Grothman for voting to eliminate protections from people with pre-existing conditions. "You're on your own," Grothman was told. Unnamed Democrats tell Politico that, thanks in part to these attacks, the race is "tightening," though there's been not a single public poll of this contest.
However, in a first, the House Majority PAC recently announced it would devote $294,000 to this race and has reported spending $137,000 on TV ads so far. Its spot, unsurprisingly, also goes after Grothman on health care. Despite Grothman's flop sweat, Republicans may have concluded his position is secure, but we'll soon see if they're forced to change their minds. This seat, which includes Fond du Lac and Sheboygan, went for Trump 56-39.
● NJ-Sen: Senate Majority PAC is spending another $2.8 million on a new ad against Republican Bob Hugin, which takes its total investment here to $5.8 million.
Democrats certainly can't be enthusiastic that they're spending so much money in blue New Jersey when so many other Senate seats are in play, but Hugin's enormous self-funding (he's given his campaign $25 million) may have them feeling like they need to help prevent Democratic incumbent Bob Menendez from being outspent too much. The Daily Kos Elections polling average gives Menendez a 49-41 lead, though it's possible SMP is seeing polls showing things closer.
- CA-Sen: PPIC: Dianne Feinstein (D-inc): 43, Kevin de Leon (D): 27 (Sept.: 40-29 Feinstein)
- FL-Sen: Strategic Research Associates for Gray Television: Bill Nelson (D-inc): 46, Rick Scott (R): 45 (Sept.: 45-44 Nelson)
- MI-Sen: EPIC-MRA for the Detroit Free Press: Debbie Stabenow (D-inc): 49, John James (R): 42 (Sept.: 56-33 Stabenow)
EPIC-MRA's Michigan poll is similar to a recent James internal from the Tarrance Group that gave Stabenow a 48-41 lead. However, a Marketing Resource Group poll from this week gave Stabenow a large 53-37, and major GOP groups still aren't spending money here.
● GA-Gov: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution takes a look at general election TV spending and writes that Brian Kemp and GOP allies have outspent Democrat Stacey Abrams and her allies $6.7 million to $5.2 million.
● MD-Gov: The DGA-backed group Democratic Action has launched a TV spot against GOP Gov. Larry Hogan in what it’s calling a "significant six-figure buy." Hogan and the RGA have dramatically outspent Democrat Ben Jealous since the summer. Until now, the only outside group aiding Jealous on TV was the super PAC Maryland Together We Rise, which said last month that it planned to spend $1 million overall. The Daily Kos Elections polling average gives Hogan a 54-35 lead.
● MI-Gov: The RGA and the state Republican Party announced that they'll launch a joint $1.2 million TV buy in support of Bill Schuette in the final two weeks of the race.
● Governors: The recent Mason-Dixon poll in South Dakota showing a tie between Democratic candidate Billie Sutton and Republican candidate Kristi Noem was great news from the perspective of confirming that this is a real race in a dark-red state, but it also pushed South Dakota down from a Sutton lead in our polling averages to a tie. Remarkably, there are currently four different races in Republican-held states that are tied in our averages (also Georgia, Kansas, and Ohio), in addition to seven more races where a Democratic candidate leads in a Republican-held state, meaning this could be a historically large gubernatorial haul if the numbers hold.
Well, it finally happened: An independent poll gave Ron DeSantis a lead in Florida. Oddly, his own campaign also released a survey on Thursday that gave him a smaller edge than Strategic Research Associates found.
EPIC-MRA's poll is the smallest lead for Whitmer that anyone has found since June. It's also very different from a Marketing Resource Group survey released earlier this week that gave her a 50-36 edge. Whitmer's campaign also released an internal on Thursday that showed her up by a healthy 11 points, and it also had the trendlines from three unreleased polls going back to mid-September. FiveThirtyEight has the sample size and field dates for each of those polls.
● CA-21: A super PAC called Protect Our Kids & Our Healthcare has launched a number of TV and radio buys in support of Democrats in California House seats. Most of them are in battlegrounds that are attracting plenty of money, but it’s also spending $364,000 in media against GOP Rep. David Valadao in a contest where the incumbent looks strong and both national parties have cut their buys.
● CA-25, CA-48, VA-10, WA-08: Mike Bloomberg's super PAC Independence USA reports huge buys for Democrats in four House seats:
- CA-25: $4.5 million
- CA-48: $4 million
- VA-10: $1.2 million
- WA-08: $2.1 million
Advertising Analytics reported Thursday that the group has a total of $28 million booked for the final two weeks of the election, and "more is coming every day."
● CA-39: We haven't seen too many Democratic candidates use footage of Barack Obama in their general election TV spots, but Gil Cisneros utilizes footage of the former president praising him at a recent rally. Obama declares that Cisneros has "more Navy medals for his service than he has years in politics," and that he "spent those years since he was in the Navy fighting for our veterans, for our kids and public schools. We could not be prouder of Gil."
● MI-06: The super PAC Change Now has launched a new $537,000 TV buy against GOP Rep. Fred Upton, taking its total investment in this race to nearly $1.4 million.
● MT-AL: The attorney representing Ben Jacobs, the Guardian reporter whom Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte assaulted on the eve of last year's special election, has warned the congressman that Jacobs might seek to rescind their settlement agreement if Gianforte continues to lie about the incident. That could in turn expose Gianforte to legal liability for the attack.
This move came after Gianforte told the Missoulian that the statement he had given to the police the night of the attack "was my recollection of what occurred and I also am bound by my settlement agreement with Ben Jacobs to not talk about the incident." In that statement, Gianforte had told the cops back then that Jacobs had provoked the attack—an utter lie, and a particularly shameful one, since several witnesses were present and the incident was also captured on audiotape.
However, Jacobs and Gianforte later reached a settlement in which Gianforte accepted responsibility for his actions and agreed to donate $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists, heading off a lawsuit by Jacobs. And despite what Gianforte now says, that settlement didn't have any sort of confidentiality provision requiring the parties not to talk about the assault.
In response to Gianforte's new remarks, Jacobs' attorney sent a letter to Gianforte's lawyer on Thursday demanding that Gianforte "immediately cease and desist from further false and/or defamatory statements" about Jacobs and his interactions with him. The letter noted that not only were the congressman and his spokespersons "telling lies about the assault, [and] about their own prior lies," but Gianforte's new claims about a non-existent confidentiality agreement were also false.
Democrat Kathleen Williams, who is challenging Gianforte this year, recently began airing ads attacking her opponent over his appalling assault of Jacobs. Gianforte's own self-serving commentary only threatens to give the issue even more traction.
● NY-27: While indicted Rep. Chris Collins has put plenty of effort toward running xenophobic ads since he unsuspended his campaign last month, the Wall Street Journal's Jimmy Vielkind reports that the Republican incumbent himself hasn't been on the campaign trail much, if at all. Collins has skipped debates and isn't publicizing his campaign appearances, and he even missed a recent rally held for him by former Trump advisor and white nationalist guru Steve Bannon. Erie County GOP Chair Nick Langworthy, whose county is the largest in the district, also says he hasn't seen or spoken to Collins since September.
Democrat Nate McMurray, by contrast, has very much been actively campaigning, and he's out with a new spot starring several local Republican voters. The group begins by telling the audience that they're loyal Republicans, but can't vote for Collins because he was arrested and indicted for insider trading and "only looks out for himself." They then declare they're for McMurray.
● PA-01: Planned Parenthood has added another $730,000 to its digital ad buy against GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, taking its total investment to $1.1 million.
● House: Democrats could win the national popular vote by a wide margin yet still fail to retake the House. In an extensive new post, Stephen Wolf looks at why that is, along with some of the various estimates analysts have put forth for just what specific margin is sufficient for the barest of majorities. Thanks largely to widespread Republican gerrymandering, districts give Republicans a sizable advantage, which is reinforced by historically low levels of voters preferring a different party for House than they do for president.
However, factors that didn't hold true in previous cycles, like the GOP's historic number of open seats, give Democrats many opportunities where they won't have to face entrenched incumbents. Furthermore, Team Blue's record-shattering fundraising gives it the resources to run effective campaigns in scores of Republican-held seats, and not just the few dozen that are considered to be the most competitive, giving Democrats numerous chances of upsets against rusty Republican incumbents who could get caught napping.
Analysts vary widely in their assessments of what popular vote margin is necessary for a majority, with estimates ranging from as few as 4 points to a huge 11 points, which would be bigger than either party has won in more than three decades. However, our analysis of the relevant factors suggests Democrats likely need a 6- to 7-point margin to flip the House, and with national polls that ask which party voters plan to vote for giving Democrats a 9-point average lead, Team Blue is likely favored to regain control. However, don't be surprised if the threshold ends up being lower or higher than that or if the polls are wrong; the possibility that Democrats win more votes yet fewer seats like they did in 2012 is a real risk.
- CA-04: Clarity Campaign Labs (D) for Jessica Morse: Tom McClintock (R-inc): 49, Jessica Morse (D): 45
- CA-22: Change Research (D) for Fight Back CA: Devin Nunes (R-inc): 51, Andrew Janz (D): 46 (Sept.: 51-40 Nunes)
- CA-49: Siena for the New York Times: Mike Levin (D): 53, Diane Harkey (R): 39 (Sept.: 51-41 Levin)
- FL-26: Siena for the New York Times: Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D): 45, Carlos Curbelo (R-inc): 44 (Sept.: 47-44 Curbelo)
- GA-06: Thirty-Ninth Street Strategies for Lucy McBath: Karen Handel (R-inc): 48, Lucy McBath (D): 47 (Aug.: 49-47 Handel)
- NJ-03: Monmouth: Andy Kim (D): 48, Tom MacArthur (R-inc): 46 (Aug. 41-40 MacArthur)
- NY-22: Siena for Spectrum News: Anthony Brindisi (D): 46, Claudia Tenney (R-inc): 45 (Aug.: 46-44 Brindisi)
- OH-01: Siena for the New York Times: Steve Chabot (R-inc): 50, Aftab Pureval (D): 41 (early Oct.: 50-41 Chabot)
- OR-02: Patinkin Research (D) for Jamie McLeod-Skinner: Greg Walden (R-inc): 49, Jamie McLeod-Skinner (D): 40
- VA-10: George Mason University for the Washington Post: Jennifer Wexton (D): 56, Barbara Comstock (R-inc): 43
This is the first poll we've seen out of California's 4th, a 54-39 Trump seat that stretches from the Sacramento suburbs south to the Yosemite area. Major outside groups haven't advertised here, but Morse has been a strong fundraiser.
A previously unreleased Change Research poll of California's 22nd District gave Nunes a 51-40 edge; FiveThirtyEight has the sample size and field dates.
A late-September poll from UC Berkeley gave Levin a similar 55-41 lead in California's 49th. Major GOP groups still haven't spent anything here, and we'd be surprised if they ever do.
While a DCCC poll showed Curbelo up 48-41 back in July, three Democratic internals from September and the start of October had Mucarsel-Powell up by 1 or 2 points. An independent poll from Mason-Dixon taken earlier this week gave Curbelo a 46-45 edge, very similar to what Siena finds now.
McBath's internal is comparable to a recent survey from a bipartisan pair of pollsters that gave Handel a 49-45 edge.
Most polls of New Jersey's 3rd, including internals from both sides, have showed a tight race. The one exception was a late-September Siena poll that had Kim up 49-39, but that seemed too good to be true even at the time. Siena is finishing up a new poll here, so we'll have another data point very soon.
The only other poll we've seen of New York's 22nd since Siena's last survey in late August was a mid-October survey from the GOP firm The Polling Company that had Tenney up 50-42. Both sides are continuing to spend plenty of money in this upstate seat.
Siena indeed found the very same 50-41 lead for Chabot this week that it found at the start of the month. We haven't seen any other polls in the intervening weeks.
This is the first poll we've seen from Oregon's 2nd, a 57-36 Trump seat in eastern Oregon that we rate as Safe Republican. We're told the sample size was 400 registered voters, and the field dates were Oct. 11-12.
If Comstock wins, we're all in for a big surprise. While GOP firms gave Comstock a 1-point lead and a tie in October, every independent poll has found her down by at least 6 points.