Last night, I explained that the bailout package has the potential of rocking congressional races over the next few weeks, as challengers from both parties are likely to campaign against any deal that is struck. While most of the opposition is coming from House Republicans right now, it is a Democrat - Jeff Merkley - who aired the first ad bringing up the bailout.
But it is another Democrat, Rep. Kanjorski (PA-11) who could be the most endangered if there is any voter backlash against the bailout. Kanjorski is a chairman of the subcommittee on capital markets, and is heavily involved in the Capitol Hill negotiations. A Politico piece about the race specifies that Republican Lou Barletta is “cautiously supporting” a bailout, but he will not have to cast a vote on it and he is looking to attack Kanjorski on related topics - for instance campaign contributions he received from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In Florida, it is a Democratic challenger who is using the exact same argument - questioning how much oversight Rep. Feeney (FL-24) could have exercised when he was taking contributions from the mortgage industry.
Meanwhile, the ad wars are heating up in the final stretch before the election - so much so that some are now starting to hurt those that are airing them. In KY-02, the DCCC’s decision to invest in the race in this conservative district was viewed as a major development a few days ago. But a local TV station has decided to pull the ad off the air after advice from its counsel. The ads charged that the company GOP candidate Guthrie works for shipped jobs to Mexico, something the Guthrie campaign denied, threatening legal action. Anytime a TV station is moved to pull an ad, it is obviously a major victory for the candidate who was under attack as it allows him to complain about their opponent’s negativity and put him on the defensive.
Meanwhile, Wayne Parker, the Republican candidate in AL-05 is airing an ad against Democrat Parker Griffith, a former radiation oncologist. The ad uses an internal peer review that Parker obtained that charges that Griffith under-radiated patients at his cancer treatment center in order to generate more future revenues. The ad suggests that such allegations led Griffith to leave the hospital:
Meanwhile, let’s take a look at some polls from down-the-ballot races - starting with statewide votes:
- SUSA finds that California’s Proposition 8 could still pass, as the yes vote is trailing only 49% to 44%.
- Merkley leads 45% to 40% in a Research 2000 poll of Oregon’s Senate race. This is the second poll in a row to find the Democrat taking a lead, the first to have him ahead outside of the MoE.
- Shaheen leads 50% to 41% in a Research 2000 poll of New Hampshire’s Senate race.
- Shaheen only leads 41% to 40% in a Suffolk poll of New Hampshire’s Senate race.
- Wicker leads 48% to 43% in an Insider Advantage poll of Mississippi’s Senate race.
The conventional wisdom appears to be that Prop 8 banning gay marriage is heading to defeat, but polling data has suggested that the contest could go either way, with the no (the pro-gay marriage position) only holding a narrow advantage. One reassuring thought for “no” proponents is that the “no” tends to gain as Election Day approaches as undecideds usually break towards that vote - but that might be more applicable in the case of confusing proposals.
The four Senate polls find results that are very interesting - though not surprising. In the MS Senate race, Wicker does appear to hold a narrow advantage - something we could not have said a few months ago. In Oregon, however, I believe this is the largest lead Merkley has ever held, and it comes in the heels of a SUSA survey in which Merkley picked up 14% and took a narrow 2% lead. The economic crisis appears to be boosting Democrats in Oregon, and Gordon Smith’s hard hitting crime ads don’t appear to have done him much good.
The most puzzling poll numbers these days are coming from New Hampshire. Sununu seized a 7% lead ever in a Rasmussen poll earlier this week, but that does seem to be an outlier as no other survey is finding Sununu with any sort of lead - let alone one outside of the margin of error. That said, Shaheen does look to be losing ground. Not only is her lead down to single-digits now, but a number of surveys have her leading only within the MoE. The recent ad campaign by the NRSC and by Sununu could be having an effect, as is McCain’s apparently improving the GOP brand in the Granite State.
- In NY-26, Alice Kryzan trails Republican Chris Lee 48% to 37% in a new SUSA poll. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Kryzan’s primary opponent Jon Powers takes 5% on the Working Families party line, while the candidate on the Independent Party line gets 3% despite the fact that he will not be on the ballot and Lee’s name will be on the IP ballot line. Certainly a tough poll for Democrats in a district they have been looking at for months.
- In WY-AL, Research 2000 finds a tie at 42% between Democrat Trauner and Republican Lummis. Trauner led by 3% in a poll taken in May. One potential problem for Trauer: Most undecided are Republican voters, which underscores how difficult it will be for him to raise from the low 40s to the high 40s.
- In NH-01, Rep. Shea-Porter is up 44% to 43% to former Rep. Bradley in the Research 2000 poll. (In NH-02, Rep. Hodes leads 47% to 34%.) The margin of error is a very large 6%, however.
- In NV-03, Dina Titus released an internal poll showing her leading 46% to 37% against GOP Rep. Porter. A July survey had her up by 4%.
- In NM-01, an internal poll for the Heinrich campaign finds the Democrat leading Darren White 48% to 42%, up from a 3% lead in June.
- In KY-02, Brett Guthrie leads 49% to 43% in a new SUSA poll. Democrat David Boswell led by 3% in a June poll, so this is a bounce for the Republican in what is a conservative district.
All six of these districts are highly competitive, and the DCCC has started pouring money in all of them but WY-AL. These polls suggest that all four justify those investments - except perhaps in NY-26, a district many expected to be a strong pick-up opportunity but where Chris Lee starts with a clear lead. Note that a DCCC poll had Kryzan leading by 10%, but it also had a lot of undecided. Meanwhile, Shea-Porter and Bradley are engaged in a heated battle that will likely go down the wire - and the presidential race could have a big impact on who wins this House race.
In NM-01, Heinrich is slightly favored but Democrats were looking to be more secure in this open seat by this point. When looking at these NM-01 and NV-03 surveys, keep in mind that internal polls might need to be taken with a grain of salt, but that trendlines are nevertheless useful - and here they both favor the Democrats. As for KY-02, this is the district in which the DCCC ad was pulled; Republican Guthrie had been trailing in the previous polls, as well as in Boswell internals, so the GOP should be relieved that he appears to be gaining in this conservative district. Guthrie should be further helped by McCain’s coattails. Furthermore, Guthrie has been airing ads for far longer, helping him improve his position.