8:40 AM PT: KS-Gov: Let's not beat around the bush: A new SurveyUSA poll finds Republican Gov. Sam Brownback trailing Democratic state House Minority Leader Paul Davis by a brutal 48-40, with a Libertarian taking five. SurveyUSA found similar numbers a month ago, when they found Davis up by six points. Brownback has posted some bad numbers before, but never quite this bad.
There are many reasons why Brownback has become so toxic in this very red state. In short, the governor and his conservative allies in the legislature have made brutal service cuts, especially to education. Brownback cut taxes without any idea of how to make up for the lost revenue, and Kansans are feeling the effects. It takes a lot to go from a 63-32 victory to a deficit in the polls in only four years, but Brownback has more than earned the dubious distinction of being the country's most vulnerable red state governor.
One small good piece of news for Brownback is that he doesn't appear to be in any primary danger. SurveyUSA finds him leading unheralded primary challenger Jennifer Winn 60-30. Not an impressive result, but it does indicate that at least some people can still stand Sam Brownback.
9:11 AM PT: KS-Sen: Voters are clearly frustrated with Sen. Pat Roberts, but it looks like he'll win renomination for being the lesser of two evils. SurveyUSA finds Roberts leading tea partying physician Milton Wolf 50-30 in the August 5 Republican primary. A month ago Roberts was up 56-23: While Wolf appears to be gaining, he has a lot of ground to make up in a very short time. Roberts has been battling revelations about his lack of a real residency in what is nominally his home state. However, Wolf got some bad news recently when the Kansas Board of Healing Arts announced that they would investigate Wolf's habit of posting grotesque pictures of dead and injured people on Facebook.
SurveyUSA took a look at several hypothetical matchups, and they are a lot closer than you'd expect. In the most likely contest, Roberts leads Democratic Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor by only 38-33. Unheralded independent Greg Orman takes out a monster 14 percent, with a Libertarian at 4. Orman's only previous run for office was a brief campaign as a Democrat against Roberts in 2008. The cross-tabs indicate that Orman is taking 13 percent of Republicans, 6 percent of Democrats, and a slight plurality of independents at 30 percent. We've raised concerns about SurveyUSA's crosstabs before, but this is still notable.
However, Orman has fundraiser shockingly well. In the second fundraising quarter of the year Orman brought in $632,000, compared to Taylor's more paltry sum of $42,000. Orman self-funded only a small portion of his haul, and still has $552,000 on hand. It's very hard to explain what is going on here. By contrast, Roberts had $2,053,000 on hand as of the end of June. It's still hard to see Orman taking enough support to throw the election to Taylor, much less win, but this very strange race appears to be getting even stranger.
If by some miraculous set of circumstances Wolf gets through the primary, Taylor starts out with a 34-33 lead, with Orman still taking 14. The Republicans do better if Patrick Wiesner, Taylor's little known primary challenger, gets to the general, but that's very unlikely: SurveyUSA gave Taylor a 48-17 lead in the primary.
9:56 AM PT (David Jarman): NY-21: New York's use of fusion voting and minor parties has previously created some quirky results in the 21st; in fact, that's a large part of why Democrat Bill Owens was able to win this seat in the first place in 2009 (thanks to Conservative Party Doug Hoffman's run). Unfortunately, his would-be successor, Aaron Woolf, won't have the full advantage of that. Matt Doheny lost the Republican primary but has the Independence Party line, and there was an open question as to whether Doheny would forge on, which would split the GOP vote and give Woolf a better shot here.
Unfortuntely, Doheny announced on Friday that he was standing down and wouldn't continue to campaign on the IP line, instead endorsing GOP nominee Elise Stefanik. There's still one hopeful angle here, though: Doheny's name will continue to remain on the ballot, meaning he'll stick pick off a few votes, which could make all the difference in a close race. As New York politics devotees know, to truly get off the ballot, Doheny would have to be nominated for a judgeship, move entirely out of state, or die, and he doesn't seem to be planning to do any of those.
10:05 AM PT (David Jarman): NE-02: Republican Rep. Lee Terry keeps finding new ways to squeak by in this Omaha-area district, narrowly winning both primaries and generals, and now he seems to dodged one of the biggest bullets he's faced yet. Chip Maxwell, a former Republican state Senator, had previously threatened to run an independent bid from Terry's right, which would split the GOP vote in this swingy district and potentially hand the seat to the Democratic candidate, state Sen. Brad Ashford.
On Thursday, though, Maxwell reversed direction and said he won't run, instead preferring to focus on a 2016 GOP primary challenge to Terry. Even without Maxwell in the race, it's hardly a lost cause for Ashford: an early June internal poll from Ashford's camp had the race tied 41-41 even without factoring in a Maxwell candidacy. Thanks to turnout fluctuations, Terry tends to fare much better in off years than presidential years, though, so Ashford still faces an uphill climb.
10:56 AM PT (David Jarman): WA St. House: This won't affect the balance of power in Washington's state House (Democrats are in control of the chamber 55-43, and he was already retiring in November, creating a potential pickup in a swingy district), but it's one more addition to the "if Republicans are the ones always freaking out about voter fraud, why are they the ones always getting caught committing it?" pantheon. Republican state Rep. (and aspiring beefcake model) Mike Hope suddenly resigned on Friday after it was revealed that he's registered to vote in both Washington and Ohio.
11:19 AM PT (David Jarman): GA-Sen: We've got our first post-runoff poll of the newly-solidified Georgia Senate race, and given that the runoff was just a few days ago, it's gotta be a pollster that uses robocalls and short sample periods ... meaning it's Rasmussen. They find Republican David Perdue leading Democrat Michelle Nunn 46-40, which they'd probably attribute to a post-primary bounce. (For trendlines, you've got to go back to late May, where they had Nunn up 45-42.)
Nate Cohn (whose employer apparently pays the fee to see Rasmussen's crosstabs) has an important observation: the sample is only 25 percent African-American. Unbelievably, it doesn't look like there were any 2012 exit polls in Georgia, but in 2008, the vote was 30 percent. So factor in: a)non-presidential-year (and thus lower) African-American turnout, but also b) six years of a growing African-American population since then.
11:32 AM PT (David Jarman): OK-Gov: Ordinarily, when a candidate vaguely refers to an internal poll without providing topline numbers or the pollster's name, we don't bite. In this case, though, we will, because it provides some possible confirmation to last week's most 'wtf?' poll: a Rasmussen poll showing Republican incumbent Mary Fallin leading Democratic state Rep. Joe Dorman only 45-40 in a previously uncompetitive race. In an introductory piece about Dorman in the Oklahoma Gazette, though, Dorman says that his most recent internal poll showed "a six point lead for Fallin," an improvement from a more-than-20-point gap in January.
11:39 AM PT: SC-Gov: With independent third party and independent candidates, there's always a real risk that they won't qualify for the ballot. In most races it doesn't matter, but in South Carolina's gubernatorial contest there has always been a real risk that former Republican-turned-independent Tom Ervin could take votes from Republican Gov. Nikki Haley.
With Haley generally leading Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen by far from safe margins, Team Red would have preferred for Ervin to miss the ballot, but they won't get their wish this time: The state Election Commission has confirmed that Ervin will make the general election ballot. Ervin, a former state representative and judge, isn't incredibly well known, but he does have the ability to self-fund.
11:44 AM PT (David Jarman): MA-Gov: If I could pick one race this year to get a weekly tracking poll ... well, let's just say it certainly wouldn't be the Massachusetts gubernatorial race. The Boston Globe's poll, taken by SocialSphere, is at least somewhat interesting though, since it's seen the general election race between Dem Martha Coakley and GOPer Charlie Baker getting closer this month, down to mid-single digits. This week's installment has Coakley up 38-33 against Baker, and leading Steve Grossman 46-18 in the Democratic primary.
11:45 AM PT: WV-Sen: This seat has usually been viewed as a likely Republican pickup, with Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito clearly leading Democratic Secretary of State Natalie Tennant in what limited polling there is. Team Blue evidently isn't ready to write this one off though: Senate Majority PAC is spending $200,000 to blast Capito. The ads are playing in the fairly inexpensive Beckley, Charleston, and Clarksburg media markets, so SMP's spots should get more eyeballs than most buys of that size might in other states.
11:56 AM PT: SC-Sen-A: Most of the interest in this race ended when Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham won renomination in mid-June, but Voter Survey Service on behalf of local media decided to survey voters on it anyway. The Palmetto Poll gives Graham a 46-33 lead over Democratic state Sen. Brad Hutto, with Libertarian Victor Kocher at 9.
When former Republican state Treasurer-turned convict-turned reality TV show star-turned independent Thomas Ravenel is added to the mix, things don't change much: Graham leads 45-33, with Ravenel taking 10 and Kocher down to 4. Graham is not popular, sporting a 39/44 approval. But in this conservative and quite polarized state, that's probably enough to win as a Republican incumbent.
12:01 PM PT (David Jarman): GA-Sen: And now we have a duel going on in Georgia, though there's no fiddle or devil involved. Landmark Communications, on behalf of WSB-TV, is out with a poll that puts Michelle Nunn ahead of David Perdue, 47-43, which, unlike Rasmussen, would mean no particular bump for Perdue; their poll of the general from last week had Nunn beating Perdue 48-42. Of course, that same poll's GOP runoff subsample pretty much whiffed, with Jack Kingston beating Perdue 48-41 (Perdue wound up winning 51-49), so take it all with a grain of salt.
12:27 PM PT (David Jarman): AK-Sen: Mark Begich and Dan Sullivan dutifully leaked their Senate fundraising numbers ahead of the deadline several weeks ago, as is expected of serious candidates. But if you're paying close attention, you might have noticed we never saw numbers from the second and third wheels in the GOP primary, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and 2010 nominee Joe Miller. Well, that's because their numbers are hilariously bad, and not indicative of serious challenges to Sullivan: Treadwell raised $164,000 and has $167,000 in the bank plus $240,500 in debts; Miller raised $130,000 and has $300,000 on hand.
The Anchorage Daily News also explores the ongoing problem of Dan Sullivan vs. Dan Sullivan. (One, the ex-AG, is the Republican Senate candidate; the other, the mayor of Anchorage, is the Republican Lt. Gov. candidate.) "Problem" might be a bit of an overstatement, though; thanks to tons of outside spending in the Senate race, Alaskans now seem pretty clear on which Sullivan is which, as confirmed in their unscientific man-on-the-street polling on the topic.
12:58 PM PT: MS-Sen: It's been a month since the votes are cast, but state Sen. Chris McDaniel has still not given up in his attempt to have the Republican primary runoff results thrown out and get a new election. McDaniel, who narrowly lost to Sen. Thad Cochran, has a long plan to accomplish his longshot goal. The Washington Post has a great article explaining everything, as well as an excellent flow chart by Matt Steffey of the Mississippi College School of Law exploring how things may go from here.
2:04 PM PT: Senate ads:
• IA-Sen: The Koch-backed ConcernedVets hits Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley for missing Veterans Affair Committee hearings to attend fundraisers.
• KS-Sen: Sen. Pat Roberts goes after Republican primary challenger Milton Wolf over his history of posting and mocking gruesome pictures on Facebook, with the narrator mentioning that a medical board is investigating Wolf.
• MI-Sen: Republican former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land talks about adopting better trade deals that will better serve Michigan.
2:17 PM PT: Gubernatorial ads:
• AZ-Gov: Republican State Treasurer Doug Ducey's newest spot features a woman whose brother was murdered by drug cartels. She blames the Obama Administration's policies and touts Ducey as someone who will secure the border with Mexico.
• HI-Gov: With the August 9 primary approaching, both Democratic candidates have new spots out. In Gov. Neil Abercrombie's first ad, a constituent touts how Abercrombie helped people get their money back after Manoa Finance collapsed. The governor's second commercial touts Obama's support for Abercrombie.
State Sen. David Ige has trailed Abercrombie badly in the race for cash, but he's now airing his first TV ad. It's a biographical spot narrated by the candidate's wife, and does not mention Abercrombie.
2:21 PM PT: House ads:
• AZ-02: Republican Air Force veteran Martha McSally has a minute long spot with her friends and family praising her as someone who helps others in their time of need.
• MN-08: House Majority PAC and AFSCME team up on a $150,000 buy hitting Republican Stewart Mills as an out of touch rich guy. The narrator criticizes Mills as someone who inherited his wealth but opposes paying taxes on it or raising the minimum wage.
2:35 PM PT: MT-Sen: This does not fill me with confidence. After it emerged that appointed Democratic Sen. John Walsh plagiarized large sections of his final war college paper in 2007, Walsh appeared to blame his behavior on combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder. Walsh stated at the time, "I don’t want to blame my mistake on PTSD, but I do want to say it may have been a factor. My head was not in a place very conducive to a classroom and an academic environment."
However, on Friday, he backtracked in a radio interview. Walsh now says, "I am in no way, no way, tying what I did to any type of PTSD. That had nothing to do with the mistake that I made. … I may have said that, if that was the thought of that, that’s not at all in any way what I meant or said." At a time when people are questioning his honesty and integrity, one of the worst things Walsh could do is change his story. It's very hard to see this matter ending well for him.