GOP Senate Strategy Bedeviled by Texas Troubles: Election Wrap

(Bloomberg) -- Texas has even more media markets than Florida (20 vs. 10), so it’s an expensive and complex place to run a statewide campaign. Republicans are being reminded of that as the surprisingly competitive U.S. Senate race there threatens to draw resources away from other battleground states.

Republican forces are mobilizing to try to provide some cover for Senator Ted Cruz, who leads Democratic Representative Beto O’Rourke by 3.2 percentage points in a RealClearPolitics polling average, a much narrower margin than might be expected in the predominantly Republican state. Already, the Club for Growth announced last week it plans for a 7-figure ad buy, and more aid is on the way.

GOP Senate Strategy Bedeviled by Texas Troubles: Election Wrap

Every dollar spent in Texas is one not spent elsewhere. And some Republican strategists are warning the close race between Cruz and O’Rourke will have a potential impact on other races, even if the incumbent wins.

More help is coming, too. Americans for Prosperity, the flagship political entity in the Koch network, will host a Wednesday evening conference call about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh that will also showcase Cruz. A Senate Leadership Fund spokesman told Dallas Morning News if Cruz needs reinforcements "we’ll be there."

GOP Senate Strategy Bedeviled by Texas Troubles: Election Wrap

All that comes with a cost. Rick Tyler, a former spokesman for Cruz who was among those this weekend sounding alarms that O’Rourke could actually win, told MSNBC he still thinks Cruz will emerge with a victory. However, the defensive move to pour cash into the Lone Star State "keeps the Republican Party from competing in other states" as aggressively.

BALANCE OF POWER

  • Majority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged the situation facing Senate Republicans; McConnell told reporters in Louisville, Ky., that the November midterms will be "very challenging," and races in several states are "dead even," NBC reports.
    • Even states held by Republicans: Arizona, Nevada, Tennessee
    • Even states held by Democrats: North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana, Montana, West Virginia, Florida
    • Says Texas is competitive; still expects Cruz to win
  • President Trump canceled two rallies this week, in Missouri and Mississippi, citing Hurricane Florence, which is churning toward the North Carolina coast and expected to make landfall later this week
  • The news for Senate Republicans isn’t all bad. FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver: "We’re still refining this calculation, but it looks like Democrats would need to win the generic ballot/House popular vote by around *11* points to be favored to take the *Senate*. (For the House itself, we show the breakeven point as being more like 6 points.)"
  • Three polls out this week so far show President Trump’s approval rating at or below 40%, unpopularity weighing on the president’s allies in swing House districts, especially in the suburbs
    • CNN: 36%
    • Quinnipiac: 38%
    • Gallup: 40%
    • Worth noting: Rasmussen, which has been better for Trump (and which the president often cites), has Trump’s approval rating at 47%

PRIMARY NIGHT

New Hampshire voters head to the polls in the penultimate congressional primaries. Here’s a look at what we’re watching:

  • NH-01: Democrats and Republicans choose their candidates today for the race to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter
    • Shea-Porter endorsed former chief of staff Naomi Andrews; Among other Democrats seeking the seat, Maura Sullivan, a Marine Corps veteran and former Veterans Affairs Dept official, and Chris Pappas, an elected member of the state’s Executive Council, have dominated fundraising and endorsements
    • Bernie Sanders’ son, Levi Sanders, is also among Democratic candidates in the race; Washington Post reports the elder Sanders hasn’t endorsed his son
    • The five active Republican candidates include state Sen. Andy Sanborn and Eddie Edwards, a Navy veteran and former police chief
  • NH-02: Republicans pick a challenger to Democratic incumbent Annie Kuster from a field of seven
  • Read more on N.H. from Bloomberg Government’s Greg Giroux

SENATE

  • IN-SEN: A Super PAC tied to McConnell is spending $1.4m on ad campaign for Republican Mike Braun in his bid to unseat Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly, AP reported
    • Ad features Trump praising Braun on stage at a rally
  • NV-SEN: Suffolk poll shows tight race in top Democratic pickup opportunity: Democrat Jacky Rosen 42%-41% incumbent Republican Dean Heller
    • Survey of 500 likely voters Sept. 5-10 has error margin +/- 4.4 ppts
  • WV-SEN: Remember Senator Joe Manchin’s ad a few years back where he literally shot a cap-and-trade bill? The sequel, released yesterday, features him shooting a copy of a lawsuit against Obamacare
    • Suit backed by Republican Patrick Morrisey would overturn pre-existing condition health insurance coverage requirements, Manchin says
    • NRA backs Morrisey over Manchin, with the group saying the Republican had earned an "A+" rating while Manchin received a "D"

HOUSE

  • AR-02: Republican incumbent French Hill has a clear lead over his Democratic opponent, according to a new poll from Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College
    • Hill leads Democrat Clarke Tucker 49.5%-40.5%, with an error margin of 4.7 ppts
    • GOP has wider leads in the state’s other 3 congressional districts
  • IA-01: Democrat Abby Finkenauernarrowly leads incumbent Republican Rep. Rod Blum in what may be the only competitive House race in the state, per Emerson poll
    • Poll shows Finkenauer up 5 ppts, though two cautions: Sample size low (250) and error margin high (+/- 6.4 ppts)
    • Every other House race in the state sees incumbents with leads 10 ppts or higher
  • MD-06: A day before undergoing surgery for cancer, Total Wine & More co-founder David Trone, the Potomac Democrat vying to succeed outgoing Rep. John Delaney, said Monday he would return to the campaign trail after recuperating for two weeks; he brushed aside questions about whether his health would hurt his quest for the House seat, Washington Post reported
    • Trone said he has lost about 15 pounds since June 25, the day before winning the Democratic nomination in Md.’s 6th District, when doctors confirmed he had a tumor in his urinary tract; he is considered the favorite to win over GOP nominee Amie Hoeber, a former Pentagon official, in the race to replace Delaney, a Democrat who is making a 2020 run for the White House
  • MN-03: Incumbent Republican Erik Paulsen trails Democrat Dean Phillips, per an NYT/Siena survey
    • Phillips 51%-42% Paulsen; Survey of 500 voters; error margin +/- 4.6 ppts
    • NOTE: NYT/Siena are trying new publication strategy whereby they update surveys online as they call respondents; this is first of their real-time surveys in swing districts to show a statistically significant lead
  • MN-08: Democrat Joe Radinovich, Republican Peter Stauber effectively tied 44%-43% in NYT/Siena poll with +/- 4.6ppt error margin; Democratic-held open seat is one of GOP’s best House pickup opportunities
  • TX-23: NYT/Siena poll ongoing in GOP Rep. Will Hurd’s border district
  • UT-04: Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, will either refund or redesignate less than half of more than $1m the FEC says was improperly collected, CNN reported
  • VA-07: The U.S. Postal Service inspector general has begun an investigation into the release of former CIA officer and Democratic U.S. House candidate Abigail Spanberger’s full, unredacted official personnel file, including a top secret national security form known as Standard Form 86, Roll Call reported Monday
    • Spanberger is challenging Republican Rep. Dave Brat
  • WI-01: NYT/Siena poll ongoing in Speaker Paul Ryan’s congressional district
  • WV-03: NYT/Siena poll shows Republican Carol Miller leading Democrat Richard Ojeda, 48%-40%, in a coal country district Democrats have on their radar; district backed Trump by 49ppts in 2016

GOVERNORS

  • FL-GOV: Rep. Ron DeSantis, the Republican candidate running for governor with President Trump’s endorsement, resigned from Congress to focus on the race
  • IA-GOV: Democrat Fred Hubbell leads incumbent GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds 36%-31% in Emerson poll
    • Survey of 1,000 voters Sept. 6-8 has error margin +/- 3.2ppts
  • MI-GOV: Democrat Gretchen Whitmer may have best pickup opportunity in the nation as far as governorships go; she holds a 50%-36% lead over Republican Attorney Gen. Bill Schuette, per a Detroit News/WDIV-TV poll
    • “We’re seeing across the state that independents are harshly viewing Bill Schuette, and you can’t win (a competitive race) if independents don’t like you in Michigan,” pollster Richard Czuba of the Lansing-based Glengariff Group says
  • NY-GOV: Incumbent Andrew Cuomo holds a wide polling lead over challenger Cynthia Nixon just days before their showdown Democratic primary
    • Siena College poll: Cuomo 63%-22% Nixon

BALLOT INITIATIVES/STATE RACES

  • NY-AG: In an election year in which women have already shattered the stereotype of a female politician, a candidate for New York attorney general may have just notched another first
    • Law professor Zephyr Teachout, who is due to give birth in October and has racked up a number of high-profile endorsements heading into Thursday’s Democratic primary, released a campaign ad on Twitter on Monday afternoon featuring an ultrasound of her unborn child
  • NC: North Carolina Republicans have selected veteran operative Adam Kincaid to head the National Republican Redistricting Trust, their data and legal hub for the next round of redistricting, Politico reported
    • The group plans to raise $35m by 2020 to fight Democratic-drawn maps in court and defend Republican ones
  • Four states -- Michigan, Missouri, Colorado, Utah -- will decide whether to entrust redistricting to independent commissions rather than state legislatures when they vote on ballot initiatives, according to the Hill, which has a roundup of the efforts

OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE
  • Former President Barack Obama is hitting the campaign trail for the first time since leaving office, urging Democrats to get out the vote in their bid to win the net 23 seats they need to regain control of the House
  • Hollywood is revved up by this year’s midterm elections; donations from the entertainment industry in the Los Angeles metro area to House candidate committees have reached $2.4m so far this election, according to the Washington Post, which relied on data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics
    • Donations nearly $1m more than during 2016 elections; vast majority going to support Democrats
    • Some Democratic strategies concerned that money is going to individual candidates and outside groups rather than majority party committees and PACs
  • Americans for Prosperity, part of the Koch political and policy network, must disclose its biggest donors in confidential tax filings in California, a U.S. appeals court ruled.
    • The ruling Tuesday opens the door to the state attorney general’s potential scrutiny of the brothers’ nonprofit organization’s major contributors; full story
  • A group opposed to confirming Trump’s latest Supreme Court nominee has raised more than $990k to pressure Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to break from fellow Republicans and vote against confirming Kavanaugh to the high court
    • If Collins casts a “yes” vote, seed money will go into an escrow account, waiting for whoever runs against her in 2020

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