Ellison’s Election Tip Sheet

Senate battleground edition

Ellison Barber election tip sheet
October 24, 2014


After pulling out of the Kentucky Senate race one week ago, the DSCC is back in it with a small ad buy.

Politico reports:

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee plans to go back on the air in Kentucky after the party has been encouraged by new polls suggesting the race against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is within reach.

The party committee is reserving $650,000 in airtime to boost Alison Lundergan Grimes after reviewing recent internal and public polling, a DSCC official told POLITICO. The polling, the source says, suggested that undecided voters are moving in the Democrat’s direction.

The decision comes after the big-spending party committee said last week it had no plans to up its buy on the air in Kentucky until Election Day, a sign many interpreted as meaning that Washington Democrats had given up on the race. But with the new ad buy and ongoing DSCC investment in the Grimes voter turnout effort, Democrats are signaling they believe they can still pull off an upset in one of their few pickup chances.

This is an incredibly modest buy when you think how many ads have been on the air in Kentucky, but last weeks decision to not buy more airtime suggested the Democrats thought the race was over. Jumping back in obviously raises questions about that.

McConnell is ahead by 4.4 points, according to Real Clear Politics, and he’s been ahead in nearly every major poll since August.

I’ve said before that Grimes is a strong candidate and it would be imprudent if Republicans underestimated her, but it seems like this race is done. Sure, anything can happen in the next eleven days, but it seems like this money would be better spent trying to flip places like Kansas, where the Republican incumbent is down by less than a point, or Georgia, where the Democratic nominee is up by .09 points.

Grimes has made too many mistakes of late to seem worth the extra money. Whether it’s her refusal to answer whether she voted for Obama or doubling down on a claim that received four-Pinocchios from fact checkers—Grimes is not the Democrats best chance to flip a seat.


When I spoke to a Republican, who has spent years working Georgia politics, about the race to fill retiring Senator Saxby Chambliss’s seat they didn’t seem particularly optimistic. I said in passing that Perdue isn’t close to having the race locked down. He agreed without pausing and said, "I don’t think anyone believes that," adding that it could easily be one Republicans lose.

Georgia is an incredibly red state. Fifty-eight percent of Georgians disapprove of President Obama and unfortunately for Nunn, Obama tied himself to her in a recent radio interview—but the Perdue campaign is not capitalizing on those things as strongly as one would expect and right now they’re down in the polls.

CNN notes:

Democrat Michelle Nunn has a slight 47%-44% edge over Republican David Perdue in the Georgia race for an open Senate seat, according to a new CNN/ORC International survey released Friday.

The three-point margin falls within the poll's sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points, meaning the two candidates are statistically tied less than two weeks before Election Day.

If neither candidate garners 50% of the vote, the race heads to a January runoff.

The libertarian candidate, Amanda Swafford, is taking about five percent of the vote, and that could be enough to keep Nunn and Perdue from reaching the fifty-percent necessary to avoid a run off.

Perdue is an "establishment" candidate and during the primary runoff most Tea Party groups supported Rep. Jack Kingston (also considered an establishment guy) over Perdue, but this week Perdue received the endorsement of the Tea Party Patriots, and that certainly can help him increase voter enthusiasm and turnout among the right – but this race is increasingly close.


Rep. Tom Cotton appears to be crushing it, for all intents and purposes, in Arkansas.

Yesterday, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a project of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, changed the rating of the Senate race from "leans Republican" to "likely Republican." Pair that rating change with a local poll released Monday night, and the Cotton campaign looks ripe to flip a seat for the Republicans 

The Hill writes:

Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) is well on his way to becoming Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), if a new poll from Arkansas Talk Business and Hendrix College is accurate.

Cotton leads Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) by 49 percent to 41 percent in the poll, released Monday evening, the largest lead he's had in any public polling.

The congressman has grown his lead from two to eight points since the last time Talk Business polled the state in July, and Pryor has trailed by a narrower margin in most recent nonpartisan polling of the state, and while there has not been a lot of live-caller numbers, Republicans have all but declared victory in Arkansas. Pryor hasn't helped himself in recent weeks either, struggling on the campaign trail and tripping up in recent debates against Cotton.