The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Carolyn Fiddler, and Matt Booker, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.
● Race Ratings: We’re moving an additional three race ratings just ahead of Election Day. You can find all our Senate, gubernatorial, and House ratings at each link.
● GA-Sen-A (Lean R to Tossup): Late polls have shown momentum for Democrat Jon Ossoff in Georgia's regular Senate election, and he now has a small lead over Republican Sen. David Perdue in the Daily Kos Elections polling average. Those surveys also point to the tantalizing possibility that Ossoff could capture an outright majority of the vote and win without a Jan. 5 runoff.
But even if this race does go to a second round, there are many reasons to think that the turnout problems that have plagued Peach State Democrats in past overtime contests will no longer be an issue. Chief among them, Donald Trump will still be in the White House no matter what happens on Nov. 3, and his destructive behavior will keep intensity high among Democrats. It's also possible control of the Senate could come down to Georgia, in which case all bets are off.
We remain wary, though, given Georgia Republicans' extensive track record of voter suppression. And should Trump carry the state next month, we'll need to revisit our assessment. But as we head down the final stretch, it's anyone's race.
● GA-Sen-B (Lean R to Tossup): Even though Georgia's special Senate election operates under different rules and features a different cast of characters, the same logic driving our ratings change in the regular election also compels us to shift this contest as well. The odds of a runoff are greater here, simply due to the fact that there are 21 candidates on the ballot, though a couple of recent polls do suggest that Democrat Raphael Warnock, the undisputed frontrunner, has a non-zero chance of ending things on Nov. 3.
Again, though, in the likely event of a runoff, a matchup pitting Warnock against either of his two main Republican opponents, Sen. Kelly Loeffler or Rep. Doug Collins, looks like it would start out evenly matched. Warnock is also hoping to be the state's first Black senator, a landmark opportunity that should help keep enthusiasm high among African American voters.
All of the same caveats apply here as well, of course, but a sagging environment for the GOP has put Georgia Democrats on the cusp of realizing their long-deferred dreams.
● NC-09 (Safe R to Likely R): National Democrats haven't targeted freshman Republican Rep. Dan Bishop in North Carolina's 9th District, but he could be vulnerable if Tuesday ends up being a truly terrible night for his party.
Bishop only won a special election last year by a slim 51-49 margin, and court-supervised redistricting has left him with a seat that's about 20% new to him and about a point bluer. The progressive group 314 Action released a Public Policy Polling survey on Tuesday that found Bishop leading his Democratic opponent, financial advisor Cynthia Wallace, just 45-43; Trump also posted only a 50-48 edge in this suburban Charlotte seat that he took 54-43 in 2016. It would take a perfect storm for Wallace to pull off a win, but it's possible she'll get one.
● Election Night: The Finello Countdown: The big night is almost here, and we have a lot of exciting races in store. As Democrats fight to reclaim the White House, they're also engaged in a cross-country battle to win back the Senate. In addition, Team Blue is looking to pad its House majority, as well as hold some important governorships. To help follow along, we have an hour-by-hour guide for the Senate, House, and gubernatorial races to watch on Tuesday. The fireworks start at 6 PM ET, when polls close in most of Indiana and Kentucky.
We'll be liveblogging all the action starting at 6 PM ET Tuesday at Daily Kos Elections. We'll also be tweeting the proceedings. We hope to see you here tonight for what will be a historic evening!
● Prediction Contest: It's the most wonderful time of the year: That's right, Daily Kos Elections' prediction contest is back! We're thrilled to announce that our good friends at the exceptional Green's Bakery have generously donated the prizes for the top three finishers: $50 gift cards for use at the Green's online store! That's right: If you dare, you can think outside the babka. For more details, including contest rules and our submission form, click here.
● MI-Sen: The conservative Senate Leadership Fund announced Friday that it was booking $4.6 million for a last-minute ad campaign.
● MN-Gov: The Star-Tribune's Briana Bierschbach tweeted Thursday that Mike Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow and an ardent Trump supporter, said at a Republican event that evening he would run against Democratic Gov. Tim Walz in 2022. There's no direct quote yet from Lindell, who offered confusing signs about his interest in the 2018 race but never ended up jumping in. We'll have much more about this contest, as well as this Trumpesque pillow company owner, after Tuesday.
● Polls: Second-to-last time more unto the breach, dear friends, second-to-last time more:
- GA-Sen-A: Landmark Communications (R) for WSB-TV: David Perdue (R-inc): 47, Jon Ossoff (D): 47, Shane Hazel (L): 3 (48-47 Trump) (late-Oct.: 50-45 Perdue)
- GA-Sen-B: Landmark Communications (R) for WSB-TV: Raphael Warnock (D): 37, Kelly Loeffler (R-inc): 25, Doug Collins (R): 23, Matt Lieberman (D): 9 (48-47 Trump) (late-Oct.: Warnock: 33, Collins: 27, Loeffler: 24)
- KS-Sen: VCreek/AMG (R) (no client): Roger Marshall (R): 47, Barbara Bollier (D): 43, Jason Buckley (L): 2 (Sept.: 45-42 Bollier)
- MI-Sen: Public Policy Polling (D) for Progress Michigan: Gary Peters (D-inc): 54, John James (R): 44 (54-44 Biden) (late Oct.: 52-43 Peters)
- NC-Sen: Cardinal Point Analytics (R): Thom Tillis (R-inc): 46, Cal Cunningham (D): 41, Shannon Bray (L): 6, Kevin Hayes (C): 2 (48-46 Trump) (July: 43-43 tie)
- NC-Sen: East Carolina University: Cunningham (D): 48, Tillis (R-inc): 47 (50-48 Biden) (mid-Oct.: 49-47 Cunningham)
- NC-Sen: Marist College for NBC: Cunningham (D): 53, Tillis (R-inc): 43 (52-46 Biden) (July: 50-41 Cunningham)
- NC-Sen: Rasmussen Reports: Cunningham (D): 47, Tillis (R-inc): 44 (48-47 Trump) (late-Oct.: 45-45 tie)
- TX-Sen: RMG Research for PoliticalIQ: John Cornyn (R-inc): 48, MJ Hegar (D): 42 (50-46 Trump)
NC-Sen: This set gives Sen. Thom Tillis both his best and worst polls in a while. Indeed, Cardinal Point Analytics, which has been around for some time but has released few polls over the years, gives Tillis his best result against Cal Cunningham ever, though the Republican firm Harper Polling had him ahead by four―in April.
Marist, by contrast, has Tillis in bad shape at a time when most other firms show him with a much smaller deficit. Cunningham did post a 10-point lead in mid-October polls by SurveyUSA and RMG Group, though both pollsters found things closer in more recent releases.
● NC-Gov: We have four new polls of the nation's most polled gubernatorial race:
- Cardinal Point Analytics (R): Roy Cooper (D-inc): 47, Dan Forest (R): 45, Al Pisano (C): 3, Steven DiFiore (L): 1 (48-46 Trump) (July: 46-46 tie)
- East Carolina University: Cooper (D-inc): 54, Forest (R): 43 (50-48 Biden) (mid-Oct.: 55-43 Cooper)
- Marist College for NBC: Cooper (D-inc): 59, Forest (R): 40 (52-46 Biden) (July: 58-38 Cooper)
- SurveyUSA for local media: Cooper (D-inc): 53, Forest (R): 42 (48-48 presidential tie) (mid-Oct.: 52-39 Cooper)
Cardinal Point's two July surveys gave Dan Forest two of his three best polls of the year (a mid-June offering from the unreliable Gravis Marketing found a tie), and the firm continues to be very bullish for him in the final days. By contrast, while Gov. Roy Cooper has enjoyed a clear lead in most surveys, Marist still finds him in better shape than almost any other pollster.
● TX-06: The Texas Tribune reports that the far-right Club for Growth launched a late $189,000 buy to support freshman Republican Rep. Ron Wright in a contest that hasn't attracted much outside spending.
NH-01, NH-02: UNH's polling operation has a long history of finding wild, unexplained swings, and we got two just before Election Day. After repeatedly showing 1st District Rep. Chris Pappas in strong shape as his colleague, Rep. Annie Kuster, struggled in the more-Democratic 2nd District, the school now has the precise opposite outcome.
So, could UNH now be right about Pappas being in trouble in a seat both Obama and Trump narrowly carried? It's possible, but there's one big reason to be skeptical. Tellingly, none of the big four House outside groups spent anything through Friday (well, unless you count $22 from the DCCC), so no one is acting like Matt Mowers is in striking distance, much less ahead. The 1st District will probably never be safe for either party and Mowers could still end up prevailing, but if he does, it would come as a huge shock to both parties.
NJ-02: This is the first poll we've seen of this coastal South Jersey seat since the start of October when another New Jersey school, Monmouth, found Amy Kennedy leading 49-44. Both universities also showed Biden ahead by three points in a district Trump took 51-46 four years ago.
● MI Supreme Court: Two new polls Democrats find ahead in the contest for the Michigan Supreme Court, where Team Blue needs to win both seats on the ballot to flip the body and take a 4-3 majority. Each party nominates two candidates, who all compete on the same officially nonpartisan ballot. Voters may select up to two choices, and the two contenders with the most votes win.
First is the Glengariff Group for the Detroit News and WDIV:
Bridget Mary McCormack (D-inc): 23
Elizabeth Welch (D): 19
Mary Kelly (R): 15
Brock Swartzle (R): 5
The Democratic firm Public Policy Polling's survey for Progress Michigan also sampled voters, but went about things a little differently. The poll asked respondents who their first choice was, then inquired about their second pick. Once first and second choices were combined, it showed:
McCormack (D-inc): 39
Welch (D): 29
Kelly (R): 18
Swartzle (R): 14
This race has been overshadowed by the competitive races for president and Senate (the Detroit News article about the Glengariff poll says that "even among those who had already cast their ballots, 62% of respondents said they didn't know for whom they voted”), but the stakes are enormous. Republicans have used their 4-3 majority on the bench to thwart Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's attempts to protect Michiganders during the pandemic: Infamously, it struck down a 75-year-old law in early October because Whitmer had used it to declare a state of emergency to combat the outbreak.
The state Supreme Court, as we've written before, could also play a major role in the upcoming round of redistricting. In 2018, Michigan voters passed a ballot measure that takes the power to draw new lines out of the hands of the legislature and gives it to a new independent redistricting commission. However, the members of the commission could deadlock, which would require judges to step in and craft new boundaries. And anyone who has a grievance against the new lines could wind up suing in state court.
There's also the possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court's conservative supermajority could overturn its 2015 decision that upheld a similar commission in Arizona. Should that happen, Michigan will need its own supreme court to serve as a backstop and ensure the state's next set of maps are fairly drawn.
● FL Ballot: Monmouth's latest Florida poll finds Amendment 3, which would establish a top-two primary system in state-level races starting in 2024, leading 53-30, which is below the 60% it needs in order to pass. That's a shift from late September, when Monmouth had it up 63-21.
● County Benchmarks: For the third and final installment of our deep dive into the key counties of the battlegrounds, we head to the heartland. Maybe at the start of the cycle nobody had Iowa on their lists of critical swing states, but that is precisely what it has become. Where can Democrats run up the score? Where can they minimize the damage? And what key counties could propel them to victory? Click here and find out!