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.
● Governor-by-LD, Senate-by-LD:Daily Kos Elections is out with new data for Pennsylvania, which was crunched for us by elections analyst Bill Coningsby, of the 2018 gubernatorial and U.S. Senate results by state Senate, state House, and congressional district.
We'll start with a look at the state House, which Republicans flipped in 2010 and have held ever since in large part thanks to an aggressive gerrymander. Despite Democrats winning more votes statewide in 2018, Republicans currently enjoy a 110-93 edge (Daily Kos Elections assigns any vacant seats to the party that last held them), so Democrats need to net nine seats this year in order to win their first majority in a decade. Members serve two-year terms, and every seat is up this fall.
Back in 2016, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton 48-47 statewide and took 119 of the 203 districts. Two years later, though, Democratic Sen. Bob Casey was re-elected 56-43 against Republican Lou Barletta and carried all 83 of the Clinton seats plus an additional 36. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who won 58-41 against Republican Scott Wagner in 2018, took a total of 132 House districts, including each of the Clinton/Casey constituencies.
There are six House Republicans in Clinton/Casey/Wolf districts. An additional 25 Republicans represent Trump/Casey/Wolf seats, while 10 more hold Trump/Barletta/Wagner districts. Altogether, there are 41 Republicans in seats that backed at least Wolf, which could give Democrats plenty of targets in a strong year.
On the other side, ten Democrats serve in Trump/Casey/Wolf seats. Another three hold Trump/Barletta/Wolf constituencies, while two are in Trump/Barletta/Wagner districts.
We'll turn now to the Senate, where half of the 50 seats are up in presidential cycles and the rest are on the ballot in midterm years. The Republicans have held the chamber since the 1994 elections, and they got some very welcome news last year when state Sen. John Yudichak announced that he was leaving the Democratic Party and would instead caucus with the GOP as an independent.
The GOP coalition now holds 29 seats, while Democrats control the remaining 21. If Team Blue can net four districts this fall, then Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman would be able to break ties in favor of his party.
Clinton won 23 seats in 2016, while Casey and Wolf carried 31 and 34, respectively. Just like in the House, Casey won all the Clinton districts, while Wolf in turn took all of Casey's seats.
Of the 25 seats that will be on the November ballot, 15 are held by Republicans and the remaining 10 are in Democratic hands. (Yudichak is not up again until 2022.) Two of these Republicans hold Clinton/Casey/Wolf seats, another two are in Trump/Casey/Wolf districts, while an additional pair represent Trump/Barletta/Wolf constituencies.
Two Democrats, meanwhile, are defending Trump/Casey/Wolf seats this fall, while the party's other eight seats each backed Clinton, Casey, and Wolf. One of that pair of Democrats is Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, who faces no GOP opposition. The other is state Sen. Pam Iovino, who flipped her seat 52-48 in a competitive special election that took place last year.
Finally, we'll take a quick look at the 2018 gubernatorial and Senate elections for the state's 18 congressional districts. Casey took Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick's 1st District and Republican Rep. Scott Perry's 10th District, which are both major Democratic targets this fall, as well as the nine Democratic-held seats. Wolf won all those plus Republican Rep. Mike Kelly's 16th District, which so far hasn't attracted too much national attention.
P.S. You can find our master list of statewide election results by congressional and legislative district here, which we'll be updating as we add new states. Additionally, you can find all our data from 2018 and past cycles here.
Race Rating Changes
● Race Ratings: As Donald Trump's numbers continue to drag down his party nationwide, Daily Kos Elections is moving seven contests in the direction of the Democrats. We're also issuing a new rating in an eighth race, the all-Democratic general election for California's 53rd Congressional District. You can find all our Senate, gubernatorial, and House ratings at each link.
● AK-Sen (Safe R to Likely R): While Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan is still the favorite in conservative Alaska, he's not looking as secure as he did only a few months ago.
The first public poll of the race, an early July survey from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, showed Sullivan leading orthopedic surgeon Al Gross, an independent who is seeking the Democratic nomination, just 39-34, and had Trump up 48-45. Local pollster Alaska Survey Research more recently followed with considerably better numbers for Sullivan, putting him ahead 53-40, but that same poll also found Trump in front by a just 49-48 margin. While they differ on the battle for the Senate, both polls portend the closest presidential race in the Last Frontier since 1968.
That close fight at the top of the ticket complicates matters for Sullivan, and while Gross begins with little name recognition, he does have the resources to get his name out in this inexpensive state. The challenger outraised Sullivan $1.5 million to $1.2 million during the second quarter of 2020, and though Sullivan still ended June with a $5.4 million to $3.2 million cash-on-hand lead, Gross has the funds needed to run a credible campaign. A Gross victory would be a major upset, but there's enough uncertainty to put this one on the big board.
● MO-Gov (Safe R to Likely R): While every poll we've seen has found Republican Gov. Mike Parson leading Democratic state Auditor Nicole Galloway, a trio of recent surveys suggest the contest has grown closer. A mid-June poll from the Republican firm Remington Research for the Missouri Scout newsletter showed Parson up 50-41, while a Galloway internal from Garin-Hart-Yang conducted two weeks later had the governor ahead 47-40. An early July poll from YouGov for St. Louis University, meanwhile, had the incumbent leading by a tiny 41-39.
Missouri has shifted hard to the right over the last two decades, but recent polls show Trump only narrowly ahead—or even losing—in a state he took 56-38 four years ago. Parson has also earned poor marks for his handling of the coronavirus crisis, with 48% of respondents approving and an equal proportion disapproving in YouGov's poll. (By contrast, most governors have seen their ratings soar.) That view seems unlikely to change soon: As cases have spiked in his state, Parson has scoffed at mask wearing and insisted that kids who contract the disease would "get over it."
It would still be a huge shock if Democrats win in the Show Me State, but thanks in part to her opponent's stumbles, the electoral math now appears to offer a path for Galloway in a way it simply did not just a few months ago.
● AR-02 (Safe R to Likely R): Republican Rep. French Hill turned back a credible challenger by a fairly modest 52-46 margin last year, and he once again faces well-funded opposition in this 52-42 Trump seat in the Little Rock area.
State Sen. Joyce Elliott raised $600,000 during the second quarter of the year, which was more than her total haul over the previous two quarters, while Hill took in only $270,000. The incumbent still enjoys a wide $1.5 million to $719,000 cash-on-hand lead, but Elliott, who would be the first Black person to represent Arkansas in Congress, has the resources to get her message out.
● CA-53: (Safe D: No Favorite): In past cycles, we've issued ratings for general elections that feature two members of the same party, and we're doing that again for the all-Democratic contest for this seat in the San Diego area. Right now, though, there's no obvious frontrunner in the contest between former State Department official Sara Jacobs and San Diego City Council President Georgette Gómez.
Jacobs, who unsuccessfully ran in the nearby 49th District last cycle, took 29% of the vote in the early March top-two primary, while Gómez beat out a Republican 20-13 to earn the second place spot. There hasn't been any polling since then, though. Gómez, who identifies as "a queer Latinx" and would be the first LGBTQ Latina to serve in Congress, has the backing of a number of local elected officials and unions, and she ended June with a $265,000 to $138,000 cash-on-hand lead. The wealthy Jacobs, though, has already self-funded close to $3 million, so it's very unlikely she'll be outspent in the fall.
● CO-03 (Likely R to Lean R): Republicans have decisively won every contest in this western Colorado seat over the last decade, but businesswoman Lauren Boebert's shock primary win over Rep. Scott Tipton complicates things for Team Red.
Boebert has made news by expressing sympathy for the bonkers QAnon conspiracy theory, which should give Democrats more of an opening than they would have had against the relatively conventional Tipton. Boebert has also been a weak fundraiser so far, trailing Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush in cash-on-hand $202,000 to $10,000 on June 30 (the fundraising quarter ended the night both women won their primaries.)
However, thanks to the district's lean, even Boebert begins the general election with the advantage. Trump carried it 52-40 in 2016, and two years later, Republican Walker Stapleton took it 50-46 even as he was losing his bid for governor 53-43 statewide. However, Boebert's upset win introduces a whole lot more unpredictability into the race, and that's not a good thing at all for Republicans.
● PA-01 (Likely R to Lean R): Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick looked like the heavy favorite to hold this 49-47 Clinton seat in the Philadelphia suburbs after the two most prominent Democrats dropped out of the primary, but that's begun to change. In June, Democrat Christina Finello and her allies at House Majority PAC each released surveys that showed her in a tight race with Fitzpatrick, with Joe Biden far ahead in this suburban Philadelphia district despite Clinton's narrow margin here four years ago.
The incumbent finally responded last week with a poll of his own that had him ahead 53-39—though it, too, showed a big swing towards Biden. On Tuesday, Fitzpatrick's allies at the Congressional Leadership Fund also released their own survey from the American Viewpoint that showed him ahead 50-35. That poll memo didn't include presidential numbers, though, which can only mean they were not good for Republicans.
Fitzpatrick ran well ahead of the GOP ticket in both his 2016 and 2018 races, though if Trump bombs here in the fall, as he looks wont to do given the district's college-educated voters, that could finally spell the end for the congressman. And while the incumbent still has a massive financial edge, Finello's $328,000 haul during the second quarter suggests her fundraising may at last be on the upswing. Fitzpatrick still has the edge, but the headwinds are blowing straight at him.
● TX-22 (Lean R to Tossup): This historically red open seat in Houston's southern suburbs has been trending sharply to the left during the Trump era, and Trump's weak position in Texas means that this shift is likely to continue this fall.
Team Blue is fielding a strong candidate in Sri Preston Kulkarni, who ended June with a hefty $1.2 million on-hand, while Republican Troy Nehls has struggled with fundraising and found himself almost penniless after a costly runoff. Still, Nehls' position as sheriff of Fort Bend County, which makes up over 60% of this district, does give him a solid geographic base that could help him run ahead of Trump—something he'll almost certainly need to do to win.
● TX-24 (Lean R to Tossup): This open seat, which is located in the suburbs north of Dallas and Fort Worth, is another ancestrally Republican district that has become competitive turf over the last few years. And with Trump in especially bad shape in well-educated and diverse constituencies like this, Republicans are going to need to work hard to stop their slide here.
The only poll we've seen here was a mid-June DCCC survey that showed Candace Valenzuela, who won the Democratic nomination last week, ahead of Republican Beth Van Duyne 45-39 as Biden led by the same margin. Just as notably, Republicans haven't countered with contradictory numbers. However, this area remains home to many voters who still back Republicans down the ballot, which could help Van Duyne prevail even if Trump loses the seat. Van Duyne and Valenzuela have also raised a similar amount of money so far, and we see this race as anyone's to win.
● AK-Sen: Alaska Survey Research released a survey on Friday that gives Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan a 53-40 lead over orthopedic surgeon Al Gross, an independent who is seeking the Democratic nomination; the sample also shows Donald Trump leading just 49-48 here. The firm is run by Ivan Moore, who has worked for Democrat Ethan Berkowitz in the past.
The only other poll we've seen of this race was from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling in early July, and it showed Sullivan and Trump ahead 39-34 and 48-45, respectively.
● KS-Sen: The well-funded outside group Plains PAC has launched another attack ad against former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach ahead of the Aug. 4 Republican primary. This spot begins by asking why Democrats are getting involved to boost Kobach and answers, "Because they know they can beat him." The narrator continues, "As a state senate candidate, Kobach said, 'I support a woman's right to choose an abortion in most circumstances.'"
● NH-Sen: Retired Army Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc has publicized a late June Remington Research poll that shows him trailing wealthy attorney Corky Messner 17-8 in the September Republican primary to face Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen. Earlier this week, Messner unveiled a survey from the Tarrance Group that had him ahead 39-27.
While Bolduc is also behind in his own poll, he's arguing that he can pull ahead once voters learn more about him. The problem for Bolduc, though, is that he trailed Messner in cash-on-hand by an enormous $3.2 million to $179,000 margin at the end of June, which makes it very difficult for him to get his message out. Shaheen, by contrast, had $8.7 million in the bank.
● TN-Sen: The Republican pollster JMC Analytics finds former Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty leading orthopedic surgeon Manny Sethi 36-32 in the increasingly nasty Aug. 6 GOP primary. JMC says this survey was done independently of any client. These numbers are similar to a recent survey from another Republican firm, the Trafalgar Group, which showed Hagerty up 42-39.
Meanwhile, both contenders and their allies are running new ads that portray the other candidate as a Republican heretic. A newly formed outside group called Standing With Conservatives has launched a $513,000 media buy, and its opening TV ad goes after Sethi for using the Democratic fundraising powerhouse ActBlue to donate $50 to Virginia Democrat Tom Perriello's successful U.S. House campaign in 2008.
The spot doesn't actually mention those details, though, and instead pretends that ActBlue is actually some sort of super PAC. The narrator charges that Sethi "donated to a Democrat PAC that supports progressives like Bernie Sanders." She continues, "That's right, Manny Sethi supported a liberal group that advocates for abortion, gun control, taxpayer funded healthcare for illegal immigrants." Hagerty has also aired commercials using Sethi's long ago contribution to link him to causes that fundraise through ActBlue.
Hagerty himself is also running a new commercial that goes after Sethi for having once served on the Massachusetts Medical Society, which the narrator calls "an organization that supported Obamacare!" He continues, "So liberal, Massachusetts Manny applied for a job in Barack Obama's White House!" As the Tennessee Journal's Erik Schelzig notes, Sethi applied for a White House Fellowship during Obama's presidency.
Speaking of things once from Massachusetts, a pro-Sethi group called Conservative Outsider PAC is running its own spot hitting Hagerty for his old ties to the most hated man in the Trump-era GOP, Mitt Romney. The narrator charges, "Romney even picked his buddy Bill to be his national finance chair."
● IA-03: Republican David Young's new poll from the Tarrance Group gives him a 44-43 edge over Democratic Rep. Cynthia Axne, while Libertarian Bryan Jack Holder takes another 6% of the vote; the release did not include presidential numbers in this swing seat. We have not seen any other polls here, though Tarrance's memo says that an unreleased March survey, which did not include Holder, found a 48-48 tie.
One contest that is not close, though, is the fundraising battle. Axne outpaced Young $832,000 to $538,000 during the second quarter, and she ended June with a $3.1 million to $1.4 million cash-on-hand lead.
● KS-02: With just two weeks to go before the Aug. 4 Republican primary, state Treasurer Jake LaTurner has released a Battleground Connect poll that shows him in weak shape in a hypothetical general election … just not nearly as weak as indicted Rep. Steve Watkins.
The survey finds LaTurner ahead of his would-be Democratic foe, Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla, just 42-41 in a seat that Donald Trump carried 56-37 four years ago. That's still considerably better for Team Red, though, than De La Isla's 50-37 lead over Watkins, and LaTurner is arguing that this means he's the more electable nominee. The memo did not include numbers for the primary or for the presidential race.
● ME-02: Former state Rep. Dale Crafts clinched the Republican nomination to take on Democratic Rep. Jared Golden on Tuesday after election officials finished tabulations from the July 14 instant runoff primary.
Crafts led real estate agent Adrienne Bennett 45-32, while 2018 Senate nominee Eric Brakey took 23%. Both Bennett and Brakey conceded to Crafts, but because he didn't take a majority of the vote, his victory wasn't final until the secretary of state's office conducted their instant-runoff tabulations. Ultimately, Crafts beat Bennett 58.5-41.5; Brakey's supporters listed Crafts as their second choice by a 37-29 margin, while the remaining 34% opted not to choose between either of Brakey's rivals.
This northern Maine seat swung from 53-44 Obama to 51-41 Trump, and Golden won a very expensive contest here two years ago. However, the incumbent begins this general election with a massive fundraising lead: Golden outraised Crafts $674,000 to $63,000 during the second quarter of 2020 (Crafts self-funded an additional $48,000), and the Democrat ended June with a $2.2 million to $32,000 cash-on-hand lead. Crafts may be able to haul in a credible amount of money, though, now that he's the party's nominee in a seat Team Red badly wants to win back.
● MN-05: Americans for Tomorrow’s Future, which partially funded a super PAC that aided New York Rep. Eliot Engel in his unsuccessful Democratic primary campaign last month, is now running a TV spot attacking Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar ahead of her Aug. 11 primary. The PAC hasn't yet said what it's spending to air the ad, but it previously reported putting $228,000 into mailers critical of Omar.
● NY-22: Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi uses his first TV spot to talk about working across party lines to pass a bill called the “SPOONSS Act,” which he explains “requires the Defense Department to buy flatware made here in upstate New York.”
● PA-01: The conservative Congressional Leadership Fund has publicized a survey from American Viewpoint that shows Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick leading Democrat Christina Finello by a wide 50-35 margin; the memo did not include the results of the presidential contest in this seat.
This is the fourth poll we've seen of this Bucks County-based seat, which backed Hillary Clinton 49-47 in 2016, over the last month. In June, a Public Policy Polling survey for Finello's campaign had her ahead 40-38, while Victoria Research's numbers for the Democratic group House Majority PAC had them tied 46-46. Last week, though, Fitzpatrick's campaign responded with a Public Opinion Strategies poll that found him up 53-39, which is similar to what American Viewpoint shows.
● VA-07: In her opening TV spot, freshman Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger tells the audience how she joined the CIA in order to serve the country, and she says that’s what she’s doing in Congress. Spanberger goes on say, “The best way forward is working together regardless of party, standing up to lobbyists and corporate PACs, solving problems.”