Yesterday, we touched on the Arizona Senate race, wondering if a new poll showing Republican Martha McSally bouncing out to a six-point lead is an outlier or a trend. The GOP has sought to highlight Democrat Kyrsten Sinema's past radicalism -- she protested the Afghanistan war in a pink tutu, and her organization portrayed American soldiers as murderous skeletons inflicting "US terror" -- as well as her biographical...shall we say, enhancements. But in a blue-tinted year, with Democrats highly motivated, Sinema has held onto a modest lead. It will be fascinating to see whether she will maintain that lead post-Kavanaugh, and after this clip makes its way into the bloodstream, via news coverage and inevitable attack ads:
The "crazy" lines aren't helpful, especially when she attributes her state's supposed insanity to one factor: "They're called Republicans," eliciting laughter and applause from a leftist crowd. Remember, she's trying to run as a moderate, cross-partisan uniter. Part of her potential victory coalition must include a chunk of Republican voters. But the most brutal line is this one, delivered in an out-of-state speech to liberal activists:
"I want to talk to you about some of the things that I think that you can do to stop your state from becoming Arizona.”
Sinema is asking Arizonans to elect her to represent them. She thinks they're crazy people and that other states should go out of their way to avoid being like her own constituents. And this speech was delivered well after she undertook her ideological makeover project. If Arizona Republican and right-leaning voters are ever going to coalesce around McSally, the Kavanaugh fight should be a clarifying catalyst; both Arizona Senators cast crucial confirmation votes. And now, here's the Democrat in the race insulting both them specifically, and their state generally. Talk about motivating factors. Bigger picture, if Republicans can lock down either Arizona or Nevada -- the two states in which Democrats have the best shot at Senate gains -- it's game over. The GOP will retain control of the upper chamber. They can do so even if they lose both, mind you, but either outcome would truly seal it. If Republicans somehow hold both the Flake and Heller seats, they stand to increase their majority in a meaningful way. So how are things looking over in the Silver State?
Dean Heller has never lost an election. https://t.co/IhzYcTrasy— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) October 11, 2018
A red incumbent sitting shy of 50 percent in a state that has gone blue in the last several presidential cycles isn't safe. Period. But Heller would rather be up two than down, obviously. And despite the Democrat-favoring internals about the remaining undecideds, Heller's flawed opponent is significantly underwater on personal favorability. He has a real shot at surviving this thing. If he does, and/or McSally pulls it off, Mitch McConnell will very likely have some more breathing room in future confirmation votes. I'll leave you with three more 2018 Senate updates: (1) Could the Kavanaugh mess have hurt the Democratic brand so badly in West Virginia that voters are willing to punish Joe Manchin, despite his lonely 'aye' vote on confirmation? Manchin's lead has evapprated in one new survey. It's possible, but I'd echo this analysis. Proceed with skepticism, barring additional confirming data. I think he's probably safe. (2) With the Bredesen campaign in an apparent Tennessee tailspin, this footage of his campaign staffers privately admitting that the candidate's 'blue dog' assurances are just a vote-getting ploy aren't exactly helpful:
Maria Amalla and Will Stewart, staffers in Bredesen’s campaign, both say on hidden camera that if he were in the Senate, Bredesen would not actually have voted to confirm then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh. They explained that the statement Bredesen issued in support of Kavanaugh was a political ploy to gain the support of moderate voters in Tennessee. … When asked to clarify that Bredesen is only saying he’d vote for Kavanaugh to “get the Republican vote,” Amalla, a field organizer for Bredesen’s campaign, affirmed, “Yes.” Amalla reiterated, “[Bredesen] thought that like by coming out in support [of Justice Kavanaugh] that it would get more republicans on his side. He wasn’t doing as well in the rural parts.”
(3) Indiana Democrat Joe Donnelly already had an outsourcing hypocrisy problem vis-a-vis Mexico. Does he also have a China problem on this front? This Associated Press report is headlined, "Donnelly family business uses import practice he criticizes." Oops:
In the high-stakes battle for a pivotal Indiana Senate seat, Democrat Joe Donnelly has repeatedly attacked his opponent, multimillionaire auto-parts magnate Mike Braun, for importing the products he sells from China. It’s a potent issue for the incumbent senator in a manufacturing powerhouse state where “made in America” is an identity — not just a slogan — and railing against foreign outsourcing helped President Donald Trump rack up a win by 19 percentage points. Yet for Donnelly, whose neck-and-neck race with Braun could help determine which party controls the Senate, it ignores one inconvenient detail. Stewart Superior Corp., a family business that he owned stock in, has also received repeated shipments of goods from China for much of this decade, records reviewed by The Associated Press show. That makes Donnelly susceptible to charges of hypocrisy while undercutting one of his main attacks on Braun before an election in which working-class support will be crucial. It’s also likely to ratchet up a GOP onslaught that was already intensifying after Donnelly cast a “no” vote against Trump’s second Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh.