The Senate map is much less fluid, yet this is the time when some races begin to fade in terms of their competitiveness and others become more so. In recent weeks we’ve seen the New Mexico Senate contest move to the less competitive category, while Connecticut and Indiana are now fully in play. We are still monitoring developments in Connecticut (and could make another ratings change there soon), but new polling in Indiana confirmed for us that a ratings change was due. Full story
Here are the most noteworthy television ads we have seen today.
EMILY’s List and the Service Employees International Union have combined for an ad campaign against Rep. Todd Akin (R). It hits the usual criticisms that have been leveled at Akin since he made his “legitimate rape” comment in August. But it goes a step further, with one of the most vicious, perennial accusations that can be made against a politician — not taking a hard line against pedophilia. It is part of a $1 million ad buy.
A new poll showed Rep. Joe Donnelly ahead of Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock by 2 points. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) led state Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) by 2 points — a stastical dead heat — in a new bipartisan poll of the Indiana Senate race released today.
Donnelly led Mourdock 40 percent to 38 percent in the Howey/DePauw University Indiana Battleground Poll. Libertarian candidate Andrew Horning received 7 percent in the survey.
The results mirror several Democratic internal polls released over the past several months. Sensing an opportunity, Democratic groups spent heavily to boost Donnelly’s campaign over the summer. Full story
National Republicans are reserving TV airtime to help freshman Rep. Joe Walsh. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
So much for the National Republican Congressional Committee leaving Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) out to dry.
The committee reserved about $457,800 on cable stations in Illinois’ 8th district for spots to run Oct. 5 through Election Day, multiple sources confirmed to Roll Call. It’s a significant buy, but it doesn’t reach saturation level.
For months, national GOP operatives privately conceded Walsh would lose his re-election bid against Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth (D) in the suburban Chicago, Democratic-leaning district. Duckworth is still favored to win, but there are signs the race has become more competitive. Full story
House Democrats shifted resources away from six races as the party continues to move money to more promising targets.
According to two sources who monitor ad buys, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee cut its reservations in the following GOP-leaning House districts during the week of Oct. 9:
Florida’s 16th district, where the DCCC originally reserved $229,800 in the Tampa market. Roll Call rates this race as Leans Republican.
Indiana’s 2nd district, where the DCCC originally booked $56,300 in the South Bend market. Roll Call rates this race as Leans Republican.
North Dakota’s at-large open seat, where the DCCC originally reserved $76,600 in the Fargo market. Roll Call rates this race as Likely Republican.
Ohio’s 10th district, where the DCCC originally reserved $66,100 in the Dayton market. This is the committee’s second cancellation in this market in as many weeks. Roll Call rates this race as Safe Republican.
Virginia’s 2nd district, where the DCCC originally reserved $77,700 in the Norfolk market. Roll Call rates this race as Leans Republican.
The DCCC trimmed — but did not cancel — in Pennsylvania’s 12th district, where Rep. Mark Critz (D) is in a tough race. The committee plans to continue with $160,000 worth of advertisements that week. Roll Call rates this race as a Tossup. Full story
A newly surfaced tracker video shows attorney Ann McLane Kuster (D) verbally and physically engaging with a staffer to the campaign of her rival for New Hampshire’s 2nd district, Rep. Charles Bass (R).
As has been increasingly common in recent cycles, the context of the video is an annoyed Congressional candidate and a persistent videographer. For 30 seconds, Kuster and the videographer tussle over the camera, and the clip concludes with Kuster saying, “Eff him.”
The video first surfaced Tuesday on the New Hampshire Journal, a conservative website. The incident took place on Friday in Concord at an event with Vice President Joseph Biden.
The New Hampshire Union Leader confirmed that the tracker was Bryan Klepacki, a staffer for the Bass campaign. Kuster campaign manager Garrick Delzell described Klepacki as an “aggressive tracker.” He said there were several minutes in which Klepacki had pestered Kuster leading up to that point in the video.
A “great wall” of ads continues to slam voters in competitive districts, especially on the topic of China.
But the biggest news today in political ads is that Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) is no longer keeping her powder dry in the Missouri Senate race. She went right for the jugular with a new statewide television ad almost as soon as it was certain Rep. Todd Akin (R) was her general election opponent. On the House front, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has canceled a week of airtime in Florida’s 18th district, where Rep. Allen West (R) is seeking re-election. Officials said they were shifting resources to other races because House Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC, has reserved ad time in West’s district. House Majority PAC is also shifting resources, as the House battleground map continues to come into sharper focus.
Here are the other best TV ads and trends we saw today:
Parents of the Deceased
Two Senate campaigns put up ads offering testimonials from the parents of someone who is deceased. In each, the parent vouched for the character of the candidate.
A father of a deceased young man described the work Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) did to increase bus safety. The ad is on Ohio airwaves, which includes some of the most saturated markets in the country.
A mother described former Sen. George Allen’s (R) sympathetic reaction to the death of her son, who died was serving in the Marine Corps in Iraq. Ad spending is saturating Virginia airwaves, and this new ad is part of ongoing statewide ad buys.
China, China, China
At least there is one thing the two parties can agree on — that China is an issue to use against the other side. It is a way to attack one’s opponent on the outsourcing and deficit fronts. China was similarly prominent in 2010 general election ads. China has been raised as an issue in the presidential campaign as well.
Republicans continued to circle the wagons behind Rep. Todd Akin (Mo.) in his bid to unseat Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill Tuesday, but it remained unclear if they would reverse course and put money behind his candidacy.
“There is no question that for Missourians who believe we need to stop the reckless Washington spending, rein in the role of government in people’s lives, and finally focus on growing jobs in this country that Todd Akin is a far more preferable candidate than liberal Senator Claire McCaskill,” NRSC Executive Director Rob Jesmer said.
Polls continued to shift strongly in President Barack Obama’s favor today, with the president opening up a 6-point lead in the Gallup tracking poll. He has even bigger leads in some polls in key swing states, including in Ohio, where both he and GOP challenger Mitt Romney campaigned today.
Obama jumped to a lead of 50 percent to 44 percent in the seven-day Gallup tracking poll, up from 48 percent to 45 percent Tuesday and a 47-percent tie just a few days ago. The results came as the Obama campaign tried to guard against overconfidence, and the Romney campaign has argued in recent days that most public polls are flawed.
The Romney campaign in the past week had taken solace in the relative closeness of the Gallup poll. Full story
House Majority PAC has canceled airtime aimed at House races in the pricey Miami, Boston and St. Louis markets.
In the past 24 hours, the Democratic super PAC pulled a $510,000 week-long buy in Miami for Oct. 9, $439,000 in St. Louis during the same week, and has canceled $637,500 for a two-week buy in the Boston market, according to sources in both parties who tracks ad buys.
The Miami market covers embattled Rep. David Rivera’s (R) district, which the super PAC planned to target. The St. Louis market covers two competitive open-seat races in Illinois: the the 12th and 13th districts. There are three Members in competitive races covered by the Boston media market: Reps. John Tierney (D-Mass.), Frank Guinta (R-N.H.) and Charles Bass (R-N.H.).
Mia Love is much better known in Utah after her GOP convention speech. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)
A Public Opinion Strategies poll released last night by Mia Love’s campaign showed the Republican pulling out to a double-digit lead over Rep. Jim Matheson (D) in Utah’s 4th district.
The Saratoga Springs mayor led 51 percent to 36 percent, with 13 percent undecided. Love’s pollster had found Matheson ahead in July with 51 percent, so the new poll indicates a dramatic shift in the race. Previous public polling had also shown Matheson with a signficant lead. Full story
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is making its first foray into the Virginia Senate race with an ad accusing Republican George Allen of supporting the privatization of Social Security.
The ad, launched today, is part of the committee’s $8 million reservation of TV time in the state on behalf of Democrat Tim Kaine. Kaine has also received significant support from the Democratic-aligned Majority PAC.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee has not yet made any independent expenditures in the state but has reserved about $5.5 million of TV time. Republican-aligned groups American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS have spent significant resources to help Allen.
Allen also released a TV ad today featuring a 60-second testimonial from the mother of a Marine killed in Iraq.
The Tossup race between the two former governors is likely to go down to the wire in one of the top presidential and Senate battleground states.
House Majority PAC, a third-party group supporting Democrats in Congressional races, today released an attack ad against Republican Congressional candidate Chris Collins, who is taking on Rep. Kathy Hochul (D) in New York’s 27th district.
The 30-second spot hits Collins, the former Erie County executive, for his tenure. “As county executive, Collins gave jobs to his friends,” a male narrator says. “Collins awarded his own company a lucrative county contract and had products manufactured overseas, creating jobs in Korea and China. Jobs we could really use in Western New York.”
A new internal poll released Tuesday night by the Senate campaign of former Surgeon General Richard Carmona showed the Arizona race to be in a statistical tie. Rep. Jeff Flake is the Republican nominee and has, until recent weeks, been considered a likely bet to replace retiring Sen. Jon Kyl (R).
Flake led Carmona by 1 point in the poll. Forty-four percent of those surveyed said they backed Flake, while 43 percent backed Carmona. Three percent said they supported a libertarian candidate.
Flake and Carmona have net positive ratings. Thirty-eight percent of respondents had a favorable impression of Flake, while 32 percent had an unfavorable impression of him. As for Carmona, 34 percent viewed him positively, while 15 percent had a negative view of him.
The poll was conducted by Anzalone Lizst Research from Sept. 18-23. The live-interview survey included 600 likely voters. The margin of error was 4 points.