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9:20 AM PT: OH-Gov: Quinnipiac's new Ohio poll finds Republican Gov. John Kasich leading Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald by a 48-36 margin, which certainly isn't great for Fitz but is actually a small improvement from Kasich's 50-35 advantage. What's so confounding about this race, though, is that while Quinnipiac has generally found Kasich in good shape, PPP keeps seeing a much closer race.

And yes, PPP's surveys have generally been conducted on behalf of the Ohio Democratic Party, but it's not like we're talking about a single rosy internal—PPP's churned out six polls of the race, and things have always been tight. There's very little data from other pollsters, so it's hard to say whether Quinnipiac or PPP is in the right.

10:30 AM PT: GA-Sen: Republican pollster Vox Populi, the firm founded earlier this year by Mary Cheney, says that newly minted GOP nominee David Perdue leads Democrat Michelle Nunn by a gaudy 49-40 margin in Georgia's Senate contest. It's Vox's first poll of the race, and it's also by far the most optimistic finding for Perdue to date. But is it right? Another Republican outfit, Landmark, just found Nunn ahead 47-43, and Vox has almost no track record to evaluate it by.

Oh, well, except for the Eric Cantor race. Vox, you'll recall, had the deposed GOP majority leader up 52-39 on his primary challenger, Dave Brat, only to watch him lose by 11. That 24-point muff would have stood out for a long time had it not been for Cantor's own pollster, McLaughlin & Associates, which missed by an even more epic 45 points. But make no mistake: Vox's results sucked hard, and unless and until they build up more of a resume, this is all we have to judge them by.

11:28 AM PT: KS-01: Now or Never PAC, which just launched an ad attacking GOP Rep. Tim Huelskamp ahead of next week's primary, has also now released a poll of the race from Remington Research Group. It's not particularly optimistic for challenger Alan LaPolice, who trails by a 50-29 margin, but that's at least better than a Huelskamp internal from The Polling Company conducted in June that gave the incumbent a massive 62-12 lead. Unless this race breaks hard and late, though, Huelskamp should be fine—but of course, Eric Cantor thought the same thing.

11:40 AM PT: TN-03: Jessica Taylor at The Hill profiles congressional spawn Weston Wamp, who is once again trying to unseat Rep. Chuck Fleischmann in the GOP primary. Wamp, 27-year-old son of ex-Rep. Zach Wamp, did poorly in trying to reclaim his father's seat in 2012, but Taylor says he's tried to reinvent himself as a centrist—or an "independent-minded conservative," as he calls himself.

But why do such a thing, when the Republican Party has steadily galloped to the right for decades? Because Tennessee has an open primary, and Wamp evidently had a light bulb go off over his head after Thad Cochran's win Mississippi. It's not clear whether Wamp's efforts to capture Democratic crossover votes have been succeeding, since there haven't been any polls—but then again, Republican pollsters have proven themselves spectacularly inept at modeling such phenomena.

And while it's entirely anecdotal, it sounds like some locals think Wamp can pull off the upset this time. He's been outraised by Fleischmann, but a super PAC just spent $170,000 on a late TV ad buy. The primary is next week, on Aug. 7 (a Thursday), and this will be a key race to watch.

11:48 AM PT: IL-Gov: Here's a slightly dusty GOP poll from McKeon & Associates (taken earlier this month) that found Republican Bruce Rauner with a 40-34 lead on Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. Yes, 34 percent is terrible for an incumbent, but obviously there are lots of undecideds—and this survey is a far cry from We Ask America's, which recently gave Rauner a 47-33 lead.

What's more, McKeon was focused on the attorney general's race and asked a battery of axe-grindy questions that claimed Illinois is "deeply in debt" and current Attorney General Lisa Madigan "has rarely pursued political corruption cases." So yeah, not good numbers for Quinn, but a weird poll, and also different from the narrative WAA's crafted.

1:31 PM PT: NY State Senate: Last month, the renegade Democrats who've conspired to hand control of New York's state Senate to the GOP announced with great fanfare that they'd reached a "deal" to rejoin their mainstream colleagues and return to the fold. Most of the media, a lot of labor unions, and even supposed progressive exponents like New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio bought into the hype, but there were plenty of reasons from the get-go to mistrust the Independent Democratic Conference, and now we have full proof of their bad faith.

On Tuesday, IDC member David Valesky complained bitterly about the fact that two Democratic senators, Gustavo Rivera and Liz Krueger, were still supporting Oliver Koppell, who is challenging IDC chief Jeff Klein in September's Democratic primary. But that's not all. Valesky also made up a whole bunch of bullshit about what exactly the IDC's non-deal entailed:

"It's hard to comprehend why there's been a blatant violation" by members of the regular Democratic Conference when their leadership pledged that no one would support Koppell, Valesky said.
Oh yes? When exactly did mainstream Democrats promise that no members would support Koppell? One of the IDC's biggest complaints is that, allegedly, Senate Democrats are dysfunctional, so is Valesky seriously expecting lockstep martial adherence to this purported pledge? Even Darth Vader couldn't successfully perform a Jedi mind trick on Ruben Diaz, Sr. (though he might want to Force-choke him).

But like Vader, Valesky is trying to alter the deal. This "deal," though, was exactly one sentence long:

"Therefore all IDC members are united and agree to work together to form a new majority coalition between the Independent Democratic Conference and the Senate Democratic Conference after the November elections in order to deliver the results that working families across this state still need and deserve."
And as we noted at a time—and this is why I keep putting the word "deal" in scare quotes—this "deal" only involves the members of the IDC agreeing to work amongst themselves to reunite with the mainstream Democrats. It does not involve an actual agreement between the IDC and the Democrats. So not only is Valesky adding ridiculous, impossible, and unenforceable terms to the deal, there was no real deal in the first place!

That makes it pretty easy for the IDC to walk away from this fake deal, and Valesky's already laying the groundwork to do so. Why is he doing so? Any answers would only be speculative. But we do know that Jeff Klein is an utter snake, and Valesky just one segment of his long tail. If the IDC winds up not rejoining the Democrats next year, no one will have any reason to be surprised.

1:50 PM PT: NY-11: Indicted GOP Rep. Mike Grimm's fundraising efforts these days appear oriented entirely toward his legal defense fund. He managed to raise just $23,000 in the entire second quarter for his campaign, but he pulled in a somewhat better $67,000 for his legal fund in just the month of June alone. Still, at the rates New York lawyers bill, that won't last very long.

2:19 PM PT: MN-Gov: Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton continues to sit on a comparatively large pile of cash as Republicans bleed themselves dry ahead of the Aug. 12 primary. Dayton has $850,000 on hand after spending around $1 million to date, while on the GOP side, only self-funding businessman Scott Honour has real money left (around $500,000). The other three Republicans—Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, state Rep. Kurt Zellers, and former state Rep. Marty Seifert—all have in the low six figures or less. Johnson earned the GOP's formal endorsement earlier this year, but there hasn't been any polling in almost two months, so it's hard to know where things stand.

2:51 PM PT (Jeff Singer): Ads:

AK-Sen: Republican former state Attorney General Dan Sullivan's minute-long spot features a man whose son died in combat.

AR-Sen: Americans For Prosperity against Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, and ConcernedVets for Republican Rep. Tom Cotton.

IA-Sen: NextGen Climate spends $2.6 million against Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst. The ad itself is... interesting.

KY-Sen: Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

NH-Sen: Americans For Prosperity against Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

WV-Sen: Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito.

AZ-Gov: Better Leaders for Arizona against Republican state Treasurer Doug Ducey.  

AZ-09: Republican Air Force veteran Wendy Rogers.

MI-04: Two spots from Republican businessman Paul Mitchell.  

NH-02: Americans for Prosperity against Democratic Rep. Ann Kuster.

TN-03: Republican venture capitalist Weston Wamp.

TN-04: Republican state Sen. Jim Tracy.

WI-06: Republican Assemblyman Duey Stroebel.

2:55 PM PT: LA-06: Cook Political Report analyst Dave Wasserman caused a minor stir on Wednesday when he penned an op-ed in the Washington Post calling Louisiana state Rep. Lenar! Whitney the most "frightening or fact-averse" candidate he'd ever interviewed in seven years on the job. Wasserman said Whitney refused to explain why she believed the earth is getting colder, not warmer, then bolted the meeting after hedging on whether Barack Obama was, in fact, born in the United States.

Whitney later posted her version of events on Facebook, saying, "It was obvious, from the onset of the interview, that Wasserman had planned to jump me simply because I am a Conservative Woman and liberal shills like Dave Wasserman want to destroy us." Later, Whitney's campaign clarified her views on Obama's birthplace and dished out a good line: "Of course she thinks Obama was born in America. She just wishes he would act like it." When you're playing to the base, that kind of rhetoric can be very effective. And odds are, Wasserman has only helped Lenar do just that.

3:25 PM PT: MN-08: Late last week, the pro-Democratic House Majority PAC and the labor group AFSCME released an ad targeting Republican businessman Stewart Mills, who's challenging freshman Rep. Rick Nolan. The spot features edited clips of Mills saying he finds it "personally offensive" when people say "the wealthy are not paying their fair share," then castigates him as a wealthy heir who opposes raising the minimum wage but wants tax breaks for the rich.

Pretty standard fare, really, but Republicans managed to get the spot taken down from two local TV stations by complaining that the ad's footage was misleadingly spliced together. It's a pretty bogus claim, since Mills' full quote expressed the exact same sentiment: "To be singled out as a deadbeat is personally offensive."

And Democrats are saying the takedown is bogus, too, because the stations' owner, Stanley Hubbard, is a huge Koch supporter and big-time Republican donor. Of course, the stations deny anything out of the ordinary has taken place, but this is the sort of problem than can probably be fixed with a few more edits. Lets see if HMP tries to get the spot back on the air—and if the stations let 'em.

4:13 PM PT: AR-Sen, -Gov: After two contradictory Arkansas polls emerged on Tuesday, one more set of numbers dropped on to the pile Wednesday. A new survey from Anzalone Liszt Grove finds Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor ahead of GOP Rep. Tom Cotton 48-46; that's tighter than the 45-39 spread Pryor had in his own poll, but it also puts the incumbent several crucial points closer to the 50 percent mark. The Libertarian and Green Party candidates weren't included in the matchup, but Anzalone's memo did note that Pryor's favorability rating with the few remaining undecideds was higher than Cotton's.

One thing we don't know, though, is who commissioned this poll, though Roll Call notes that Mike Ross, the Democratic candidate for governor, is an Anzalone client. However, no data on that race was made public (if it even exists). But Talk Business and Hendrix College did release the gubernatorial portion of their new poll, finding Ross trailing Republican Asa Hutchinson 46-41. As with the Senate half, which also saw Democratic fortunes declining, that's a drop for Ross, who led 44-43 back in April.


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