Via Hillary Clinton's running mate, a timely reminder of the stakes of both the presidential election and the fight for control of the US Senate -- which remains as tight as ever, with the clock winding down to Tuesday. If Hillary wins (and she's still the favorite, despite clear movement in Trump's direction) and Chuck Schumer is elevated to the position of majority leader, Senate Democrats are prepared to further erase the filibuster in order to ram through President Clinton's judicial appointments. While I'm generally opposed to excessive obstruction on this front -- based on the reasoning that elections have consequences, and presidents should have fairly broad latitude to make selections -- retaining the ability to block truly radical nominees from being rubber-stamped for lifetime appointments is a worthwhile tool of the minority. After using that tool to stall and defeat Republican appointees for years, Democrats blew up that precedent in the name of advancing President Obama's agenda. Now Kaine says they'll go even further if given the chance. Voters in a handful of states featuring major Senate races will determine whether Schumer and friends get that chance. So where do things stand as these contests sprint toward the finish line? Virtually all of this analysis from Tuesday remains more or less intact, with a few notable shifts to flag. As a reminder, Democrats must net at least four seats to assume control of the upper chamber; five, if Trump is elected. Updates:
Florida: Marco Rubio leads by six points and four points in two new surveys, hitting 50 percent in each of them. The Cook Political Report has shifted this race to "lean Republican," a calculation perhaps impacted the development that a top Democrat Patrick Murphy donor is now under FBI investigation for allegedly operating an illegal straw donor scheme benefiting Murphy's campaign.
Wisconsin: Ron Johnson's campaign got a shot in the arm this week with a Marquette University survey showing this race as a one-point dead heat, with the political winds blowing in favor of the Republican incumbent. This will still be a tough one, but the Cook prognostication team has moved the contest to a "toss-up." Not bad for a race that was written off as cooked just a few weeks ago. Here are Johnson's closing messages, both negative and positive:
New Hampshire: With Donald Trump surging, prospects for Kelly Ayotte's re-election are looking brighter. She has now led in four of the last five public polls -- and the only one in which she's she's trailing (by two) represents a seven-point positive swing since the previous installment of that polling series (UPDATE: Another fresh poll shows a one-point race. Nailbiter). In the final debate of the cycle, Ayotte took her Democratic challenger to task over cyber security, smartly using the topic to tie her to Hillary Clinton's email scandal:
Indiana: It wouldn't be a day in the course of this race without another damaging story about Evan Bayh emerging. Having labeled offshoring US corporations as"unpatriotic" when he was a US Senator, Evan Bayh retired from the Senate (using taxpayer money to fund a job-hunting trip to New York while still "serving") and invested seven figures in...an offshoring company based in Bermuda. The Indianapolis Star has the details. Bayh is an almost cartoonishly terrible candidate, buoyed almost entirely by his family name at this point. The race is a tie and still trending towards Todd Young...who still hasn't led in a reputable statewide poll, it must be said. (UPDATE: Bayh also violated Senate rules by using taxpayer dollars to fund hotel stays close to his condo that he rarely used).
Pennsylvania: Pat Toomey got a small ray of hope in the latest Quinnipiac poll, in which he only trails by one point. But that's still the ninth straight Keystone survey in which he's down, suggesting that the race has shifted away from him. As I mentioned on Wednesday, this one is now leans Democrat. That said, if Pennsylvania is really the Democratic lock it's supposed to be, why is the Clinton campaign deploying the entire all star team to Philadelphia on Monday?
Hillary Clinton will be joined by Bill, Chelsea, President Obama and Michelle Obama at rally in Pennsylvania the night before election— Jamie Roberton (@jamierobITV) November 3, 2016
Yes, the state doesn't have early voting, so the goal there is to have your enthusiasm wave crest at the very last minute -- but all four of them? Maybe they're just nailing things down. Or maybe they're seeing something that makes them nervous.
North Carolina: Republican Richard Burr was looking like a relatively stable bet until a new Q-poll dropped yesterday showing ACLU liberal Deborah Ross jumping out to a four-point lead. This race has stayed extremely close for weeks, with Burr's underwhelming campaigning style dueling with Ross' leftism. Burr's RCP average lead has been sliced to less than one point. North Carolina may be the single most important state to watch on election night. The NRSC is up with a new TV spot hammering at Ross' extreme ideology:
Missouri: This is a rare safe red state race in which the GOP incumbent is facing a difficult re-election struggle, but two polls out this week show Roy Blunt ahead by several points in a state where Donald Trump is expected to win comfortably.
Nevada: The left-wing New York Times has seen fit to intervene in another non-New York area Senate race, endorsing Harry Reid's hand-picked successor over Republican Joe Heck. Shocking, right? The paper's cloistered elitist editors lecture Nevadans that they "deserve better" than Heck -- a military veteran, medical doctor, and job-creating small business owner. The RCP average gives Heck a small lead, but I view that statistic (and Trump's edge there) with some skepticism. Nevada voters picked Obama (comfortably) and a Republican Senator (barely) in 2012, so we shall see.
Bottom line: With four days left, my scenarios show a Democratic gain of six seats sits at the one edge of the plausible spectrum (a 52/48 blue majority), and a Democratic gain of just two seats at the other (52/48 red majority). Perhaps the likeliest outcome is a 50/50 split. How would we get there? Dems pick up IL, WI and PA, the GOP holds IN, OH and FL, and Democrats win two of four in NC/MO/NH/NV.