According to the long-held media consensus, buttressed by Democrats' repetition of their preferred narrative, Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada was supposed to be the most vulnerable incumbent in Congress' upper chamber this cycle. There's no question that he's in a tight race, and both parties are pouring resources into the Silver State battle; President Trump was just in town, as was former president Barack Obama. Heller may well lose if Nevada's blue-ish hue asserts itself, with an assist from Harry Reid's in famous political machine. But as of this writing, the GOP Senator holds a slim lead in the RealClearPolitics polling average, edging his challenger by a slim 1.7 percentage point margin. He could win this race. He is certainly not the most endangered US Senator fighting to retain his or her seat.
In North Dakota, Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp started to fall behind Republican Kevin Cramer months ago in private polling. Then she voted against Justice Kavanaugh, offering an exceedingly weak explanation for ignoring the overwhelming will of her constituents. Then, in a disastrous attempt to tag Cramer as insensitive to abuse victims, Heitkamp ran an ad that both outed a number of assault survivors without their consent (putting some in danger), and wrongly identified a group of other women as victims. It was a genuinely stunning screw-up, prompting a round of abject apologies, then subsequent misleading spin. The race, some observers speculated, was over. A new poll suggests...pretty much, yeah:
That's the third consecutive survey showing Heitkamp trailing by double digits. Meanwhile, in a recent analysis, I mentioned that my sources said that the Indiana Senate race was starting to trend red, too. A pair of new polls (one internal, one public) appear to confirm that intel. Mike Braun's campaign released their own data showing him leading Sen. Joe Donnelly (also a Kavanaugh "no") by four points (44/40), along with a detailed memo about how the contours of the contest favor their candidate. Then this poll dropped:
In each of these last two data points, the incumbent is mired in the low-40's, which isn't a healthy spot. National Journal's Josh Kraushaar looks at emerging, if very modest, Republican leads in Arizona and Missouri and assesses the lay of the land two weeks out from election day:
North Dakota, Missouri and now Indiana look like they're breaking the GOP's way.— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) October 23, 2018
Arizona also looking a bit more favorable for GOP.
If Rs win those four states -- and hang on in Texas and Tennessee -- would be a two-seat pickup. 53 seats.
(Would give Ds: NV. MT, FL and WV) https://t.co/RHBkimOcIG
Arizona still looks like a pure toss-up, but internal numbers show Josh Hawley in a (relatively) safer position against Claire McCaskill. Incidentally, the averages in Texas and Tennessee have the Republicans up seven and six-and-a-half points, respectively -- and it doesn't look like Democrats have much of a shot at all in Mississippi, in case anyone was curious:
Mississippi, not surprisingly, remains a VERY Republican state:— Mark Murray (@mmurraypolitics) October 23, 2018
- Trump approval at 60% among likely voters in the state
- R+20 in congressional preference
- By a 2-to-1 margin, likely voters are more likely to support a candidate who backed Kavanaugh
By the way, why would Kraushaar imply that Democrats are favored in Florida and Montana? A duo of new Sunshine State polls give Democrat Bill Nelson a decent lead, exceeding 50 percent support in each. Republicans insist their numbers are much better, with Rick Scott's campaign releasing an internal showing him at 51 percent and ahead by five points. But it's not terribly reassuring when a candidate feels compelled to release his own data to contradict multiple public polls -- although one fresh survey has Scott ahead by one point. And the latter race remains very close, with incumbent Jon Tester clinging to a small advantage, within the margin of error. The GOP still believes Montana is eminiently winnable, as evidenced by scheduled campaign stops and a hefty new ad buy from the Senate Leadership Fund out there:
I'll leave you with Ted Cruz rallying a huge crowd in Houston with President Trump last night, both of whom hammered on the economy, judges (Kavanaugh mentions elicited major reactions) and immigration in firing up conservative voters: