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: While Nevada's Danny Tarkanian appears to be the first Republican in a competitive House seat who's getting abandoned by the NRCC (see our NV-03, NV-04 item), he's very unlikely to be the last. National Republicans don't appear to be ready to scale back or cancel their TV reservations for any of their House incumbents quite yet, but Politico's Alex Isenstadt names a few who are in danger of being left for dead. The three GOP incumbents who seem to be in the most trouble are Barbara Comstock in Virginia's 10th, Keith Rothfus in Pennsylvania's 17th, and Rod Blum in Iowa's 1st.
Comstock holds a Northern Virginia seat that swung from 50-48 Romney to 52-42 Clinton, and Ralph Northam's 56-43 win here in last year's gubernatorial race doesn't give the GOP much reason to hope it'll move back in their direction anytime soon. A July Monmouth poll found Comstock losing to Democrat Jennifer Wexton 49-39, and Republicans haven't released any contradictory data.
The NRCC reserved $6.4 million here in the spring, but while they don't appear to have canceled any of it, Isenstadt writes that those funds are far from guaranteed for Comstock (though that's true of any ad reservation). Notably, the Congressional Leadership Fund, which is the main super PAC supporting the House GOP, has not invested any money in this race, and a prominent Northern Virginia donor close to Comstock said on the record that he's upset they aren't helping her, adding that the congresswoman "is disappointed about it."
Rothfus seems to be in a similarly leaky boat. His suburban Pittsburgh seat went from 52-47 Romney to just 49-47 Trump, and thanks to redistricting, he's facing Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb. Another July Monmouth poll found Lamb, who pulled off an upset win in the March special for the old 18th District, up 51-39. The NRCC has $3.8 million reserved here, though again, the CLF doesn't appear to have any plans to get involved here. Rothfus did get some better news recently when the pro-Trump America First PAC booked $726,000 here, however.
Finally, Blum's eastern Iowa seat swung hard to the right in 2016, going from 56-43 Obama to 49-45 Trump, but plenty of similar legislative seats in the Midwest have snapped back to form in this cycle's special elections. We haven't seen any polling all summer testing Blum against Democrat Abby Finkenauer, but tellingly, no national GOP groups appear to have reserved TV time here to help Blum. The incumbent's far-right voting record and his own behavior may help explain why Republican insiders don't seem very sanguine about his chances this time around.
Isenstadt also named a few other Republican incumbents who could be in danger of getting cut off, but the evidence is more mixed for their prospects. He writes that the NRCC hasn't been very responsive to David Young's pleas for more help in Iowa's 3rd District in part because they view him as "a sluggish campaigner." So far, the committee doesn't appear to have reserved any ad time to aid him.
In a separate report, however, Politico writes that the CLF is planning a $1.1 million TV buy for Young that will last from Sept. 1 to Oct. 8, a move that comes over a year after the PAC said it was pulling support for him over his (temporary) opposition to the House's bill to repeal Obamacare. A July poll from Democrat Cindy Axne found her leading Young 45-41 in this Des Moines area swing seat, so he doesn't seem to be in nearly as bad shape as his aforementioned counterparts, but those numbers (which went unanswered) are still not good.
Finally, Isenstadt writes that Rep. Kevin Yoder is complaining to his allies that the NRCC isn't doing enough to help him in Kansas 3rd District, a suburban Kansas City seat that swung from 54-44 Romney to 47-46 Clinton. Indeed, this is another seat where the NRCC doesn't seem to have made any reservations. However, the CLF has spent $885,000 so far on commercials against Democrat Sharice Davids since she won her early August primary, so it hardly seems like Yoder's being abandoned. A recent Davids poll gave her a small 46-43 lead, so like Young's, this race does not (yet) appear unsalvageable for Team Red.
Finally, we'll note that, while outside group cancelations give us a good window into which races the parties think are going well or poorly, outside groups can still make decisions they'll later reverse or wish they had reversed. Perhaps most memorably in 2016, both parties scaled back their reservations in Wisconsin's Senate race over the summer and early fall as polls continually showed GOP Sen. Ron Johnson well behind Democrat Russ Feingold. However, both sides rushed back in during the final weeks of the contest as they sensed things were shifting, and Johnson ended up narrowly winning.
That same year, national Democrats canceled all their planned spending for New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District in October, and the GOP did the same thing two weeks ahead of Election Day. Both sides seemed to feel confident that Democrat Carol Shea-Porter would defeat Republican incumbent Frank Guinta, whose campaign was adrift after a campaign finance scandal and a horrible primary showing. Shea-Porter did prevail, but her very narrow 44-43 win was certainly not what either national group expected. So remember, even if someone gets triaged now, in the political world you can always be zapped back to life later.
● Primary Day: Pressley Your Luck: Massachusetts holds its primary on Tuesday (the day after Labor Day), and as always, we've put together our primary of what to watch.
The contest that's attracting the most attention is the Democratic primary in the safely blue 7th District between Rep. Mike Capuano and Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley. We also have a very crowded and expensive Democratic primary in the Merrimack Valley-based 3rd District, and longtime Democratic Rep. Richard Neal is also trying to fend off a primary foe in the western 1st.
Polls close in Massachusetts at 8 PM ET, and we'll begin our liveblog then. You can also follow us on Twitter, where we'll be live-tweeting the results. And check out our calendar for a look at the remaining primary nights to come.
● FL-Sen: The super PAC New Republican recently launched an ageist attack ad against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, and we now know they're putting $3 million behind it.
● TN-Sen: GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn is the latest red-state Senate candidate to cut an ad featuring just footage of her rally with Donald Trump. This spot shows Trump telling a booing audience that Democrat Phil Bredesen backed "crooked Hillary" and that "Phil whatever the hell his name is, this guy will 100 percent vote against us every single time."
● TX-Sen: So it's come to this: Ted Cruz is sufficiently worried about his re-election chances that he's welcoming a visit from the man who accused his father of palling around with Lee Harvey Oswald, insulted his wife's looks, and beat his ass soundly in the 2016 primaries. Yep, Donald Trump says he's coming to the Lone Star State for a rally with Cruz in October, and he's gonna do it at "the biggest stadium in Texas we can find." Wikipedia says that'd be Kyle Field in College Station, home of the Texas A&M Aggies, by the way. Think they'll fill all 102,733 seats?
● WV-Sen: Polling for MetroNews and the Dominion Post, Research America (formerly known as Repass Research) finds Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin ahead of Republican Patrick Morrisey by a 46-38 margin despite a 60-33 job approval score for Trump. These latest numbers came just a day after a Republican super PAC tried to make a somewhat strained argument that Morrisey is still worthy of an investment by releasing a poll … showing Manchin with a 47-41 lead. Except for a lone Republican survey from several months ago, Manchin has been ahead in every public poll of this race.
● KS-Gov: On Friday, the Kansas chapter of the National Education Association released the first survey of their state's race for governor conducted since the early August primary, courtesy of PPP, and finds a very close race, with Republican Kris Kobach edging Democrat Laura Kelly by just a 39-38 margin, with independent Greg Orman at 9. (The Kansas NEA endorsed Kelly earlier in the week.) That's very similar to a July poll from Republican pollster Remington Research, which had Kelly up 36-35 on Kobach and Orman at 12.
● KY-Gov: Jerry Lundergan, the father of Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, was indicted by federal prosecutors Friday along with another state Democratic strategist for allegedly giving Grimes's 2014 Senate campaign $25,000 in illegal donations and attempting to cover them up. The indictment said that the campaign did not know about the payments. Grimes quickly argued that the charges had been investigated and dismissed years ago by the Federal Election Commission, and predicted that her father would be vindicated.
This story comes at a bad time for Grimes, who is considering entering the 2019 primary to take on GOP Gov. Matt Bevin. Grimes has also been talked about as a potential candidate to replace Attorney General Andy Beshear, who has already kicked off a gubernatorial campaign. Kentucky's candidate filing deadline is in January, and the primary is in May.
● ME-Gov: The Democratic group Priorities USA has launched a $400,000 digital ad buy praising state Attorney General Janet Mills.
● OR-Gov: Oregon Public Media reports that an RGA-affiliated group called State Solutions has spent $300,000 on ads against Democratic Gov. Kate Brown since Aug. 24. Brown is favored to defeat Republican Knute Buehler in this blue state, but this is a sign that national Republicans think this could be interesting. There has been very little polling here, though Morning Consult's survey gave Brown just a 43-39 approval rating for the second quarter of 2018.
● RI-Gov: Gov. Gina Raimondo is going up with her first ad against former Secretary of State Matt Brown ahead of the Sept. 12 Democratic primary, which is certainly not a sign she feels confident this close to Election Day. WPRI's Ted Nesi also reports that the Alliance for a Better RI, which is backed by the DGA and EMILY's List, is spending $350,000 to aid Raimondo in the primary, with EMILY saying the money will go toward mailers promoting the governor and hitting Brown.
Raimondo's commercial hits Brown for the campaign finance scandal that ended his 2006 Senate primary bid and for leaving the state for five years afterwards. As we previously wrote, Brown's Senate campaign had directed donors who had already given the maximum to him allowed by federal law to instead donate further funds to Democratic Party committees in other states, which then gave large contributions to Brown's campaign despite the fact that he was of course running in Rhode Island.
Raimondo's ad comes after she spent several months and plenty of money running positive commercials for herself. By contrast, Brown doesn't have access to much cash, so it would be pretty remarkable if he's even within striking distance. No one has released any primary polling here, so this is the clearest sign yet that Raimondo is having trouble against Brown, who is hoping to take advantage of her missteps during her tenure and her long and turbulent relationship with progressives.
● FL-07: St. Pete Polls' survey for Florida Politics gives Democratic freshman Rep. Stephanie Murphy a surprisingly slim 47-46 lead against state Rep. Mike Miller, who won the GOP nod on Tuesday.
This suburban Orlando seat moved from a very small Obama win in 2012 all the way to 51-44 Clinton, so this doesn't seem like the type of district that should be in serious danger in a bad year for the GOP. National Republicans also don't appear to have booked any airtime here to go after the well-funded Murphy, though House Majority PAC reserved close to $2 million in the Orlando market back in March.
● MI-06: Democrat Matt Longjohn has released the first poll we've seen of the race for Michigan's 6th Congressional District in the southwest corner of the state, where he's hoping to unseat GOP Rep. Fred Upton. Longjohn's poll, from Global Strategy Group, finds Upton with a 47-41 lead, though the longtime congressman's favorability rating is a middling 42-40. Longjohn, by contrast, is barely known, posting just a 22-8 favorability score. Trump, meanwhile, is quite unpopular, with favorables of just 43-52; he carried the district by a 51-43 margin, though it was much closer four years earlier, when Mitt Romney won it just 50-49. Daily Kos Elections rates this race as Likely Republican.
● NV-03, NV-04: One of the most unwelcome duties for outside groups is deciding which candidates are in such bad shape that they need to be sacrificed so that more winnable races can get the money they'll need. Jon Ralston of the Nevada Independent, citing an unnamed "senior" GOP source, reports that the first victim of the 2018 purge is Danny Tarkanian in Nevada's 3rd Congressional District, and that all of the reported $3.6 million the NRCC has reserved in the Las Vegas media market will instead go towards aiding former Rep. Cresent Hardy in the neighboring 4th District.
Ralston writes that he's been told that, while NRCC polling finds both races tight, they seem to have decided to go all-in on Hardy. Nevada's 3rd District very narrowly went for Obama and Trump while the 4th went 50-45 Clinton and 54-44 Obama, so on paper, Tarkanian's race should be the more competitive. Tarkanian is a notorious perennial candidate who has lost five pervious campaigns, however, and he has plenty of flaws that Team Blue has exploited before and that Democrat Susie Lee and her allies are undoubtedly planning to rip into again.
By contrast, Republicans feel that Hardy is a strong candidate who has a better shot against former-Rep. Steven Horsford, whom he narrowly unseated in the 2014 GOP wave (before losing himself two years later). While no one has released any polls in the Tarkanian-Lee race, the NRCC and Hardy dropped a poll a few weeks ago showing Hardy and Horsford tied 41-41; Horsford quickly responded with his own poll giving himself a 42-32 edge.
● NY-19: A new poll from Siena finds GOP Rep. John Faso with a 45-40 lead on Democrat Antonio Delgado, the same margin that a Republican firm found in a poll for a pro-net neutrality group last month that had Faso ahead 49-45. However, Delgado is less well-known than the incumbent, suggesting he has more room to grow, and despite a barrage of recent GOP attack ads still has a positive 34-22 favorability rating. Faso, meanwhile, is at 37-38 while Trump has a 45-47 job approval score.
● Data: Daily Kos Elections is pleased to announce our newest data set—and our newest team member, Matt Booker! Matt and contributing editor James Lambert have assembled a new chart designed to answer a common question: "When was the last time that a Democrat (or a Republican) won statewide in a particular state?" With this chart, you can see the last time major-party candidates were elected to the Senate, to the governorship, or to statewide partisan office in all 50 states.
Some unusual streaks pop out. The longest such streak for Republicans is in Kansas, where Democrats haven't won a Senate seat since 1932; conversely, the GOP hasn't won a Senate race in Hawaii since 1970. For governors, South Dakota hasn't elected a Democrat since 1974, while Washington holds the opposite record: It hasn't elected a Republican governor since 1980. But the most eye-popping streak can be found in Maryland, where Republicans haven't won a downballot statewide office in literally a century, dating back to the 1918 race for state attorney general.
You can check out all the data right here, and please give Matt a warm welcome—plus a follow on Twitter!