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Jeff Singer

Republicans are growing anxious about losing a Senate seat in Texas — once again

The final two weeks of the 2020 election are upon us, and with the political climate continuing to favor Democrats overall, Daily Kos Elections is moving our race ratings in 11 more contests—nine shift to the left, while two move towards the GOP. We also now have a total of 11 GOP-held Senate seats rated as Lean Republican or better for Democrats. You can find all our Senate, gubernatorial, and House ratings at each link.

TX-Sen (Likely R to Lean R): Democrat MJ Hegar not only swamped Republican Sen. John Cornyn 2:1 in fundraising over the last quarter, she just got a big vote of confidence from the Senate Majority PAC, which announced it would invest almost $9 million to support her bid—the first time outside Democratic groups have spent money on a Texas Senate race in forever. (Yep, even Beto didn't get that kind of love.)

All polls still have Cornyn ahead, and Texas is still Texas. But the gap has narrowed, and with presidential polling showing a near-tie, the once unthinkable is now a whole lot more thinkable. Cornyn himself also seems to be feeling the heat: After spending four years positioning himself as nothing but an ardent Trump ally, the senator insisted to reporters over the weekend that he'd disagreed with the White House plenty of times but kept his dissent private.

CO-Sen (Lean D to Likely D): With reports that the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and the Senate Leadership Fund have both drastically scaled back their spending in Colorado's Senate race, Republicans have now all but abandoned Cory Gardner. Confirming the development, the top Democratic super PAC, Senate Majority PAC, has also cut seven figures from its planned advertising. Every single poll of this race has shown Gardner trailing Democrat John Hickenlooper, most by double digits. At this point, Colorado is simply too blue for a Republican with no real ability to distance himself from Donald Trump—like Gardner.

VT-Gov (Likely R to Safe R): Despite Vermont's deep blue hue, the state has continued its long history of electing Republican governors, and Phil Scott has remained exceedingly popular, in part because of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Limited polling has shown him crushing his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, and there's been no indication that outside groups plan to get involved here in the final weeks.

CA-21 (Lean D to Tossup): Democrat TJ Cox narrowly unseated Republican Rep. David Valadao in one of the biggest upsets of 2018, and he faces a difficult campaign to stop Valadao from reclaiming California's 21st Congressional District this year.

The only recent poll we've seen out of this southern Central Valley seat was a mid-September American Viewpoint internal for the pro-Republican Congressional Leadership Fund that found Valadao ahead 49-38. It may seem implausible that Valadao could have a huge lead in a district that Trump lost 55-40, but Democrats have not responded with better numbers, and Politico also recently reported that this was one of only a few seats that Team Blue is "growing increasingly nervous" about.

There are some other factors that could complicate Cox's chances even in a good year for his party. National polls show Trump running better with Latino voters than he did four years ago, which could help him make up some ground in this heavily Latino district. And Valadao has always run ahead of the GOP ticket in past years, sometimes quite dramatically. Cox may still be the slight favorite to hang on, but a Valadao win would no longer be a surprise.

FL-18 (Safe R to Likely R): Republican Rep. Brian Mast looked secure after he beat a well-funded opponent by a convincing 54-46 during last cycle's Democratic wave, but he faces another credible challenge this year from Navy veteran Pam Keith in Florida's 18th Congressional District.

A mid-September survey from St. Pete Polls found Mast ahead by a wide—but not insurmountable—50-42 margin even as respondents narrowly favored Biden in a district that had backed Trump 53-44 four years earlier. An early October Keith internal from Clearview Research then showed her ahead 45-43, and Mast's allies haven't responded with alternate numbers. There has been no notable outside spending so far in this seat, which includes the Palm Beach area and the Treasure Coast to the north, but an upset is possible if Nov. 3 is a strong night for Team Blue.

IL-13 (Lean R to Tossup): We had thought that Betsy Dirksen Londrigan's near-miss against Republican Rep. Rodney Davis in 2018 might have been a high-water mark for Democrats in central Illinois' 13th Congressional District, which isn't necessarily the most favorable sort of turf from Team Blue. But a recent survey for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) found her leading Davis by five points in her rematch after prior polls showed the race neck-and-neck, and we haven't seen any sort of GOP response.

The D-Trip has backed up its data with hard dollars: Along with the House Majority PAC, they've matched spending with the big outside Republican groups. This one is looking very close once again.

MI-03 (Likely R to Lean R): Michigan's 3rd Congressional District hasn't been competitive in a general election in some time, but outside groups from both parties are spending serious amounts of money in the contest to succeed Republican-turned-independent-turned-Libertarian Rep. Justin Amash, who is retiring after a tumultuous career.

The few polls we've seen have shown an unsettled contest in this Grand Rapids-based seat between Democrat Hillary Scholten, an immigration attorney, and Republican Peter Meijer, whose family owns an eponymous retail chain with almost 200 locations. A mid-September internal from Global Strategy Group for Scholten's allies at House Majority PAC showed a 41-41 tie as Biden led 49-41 in a district that backed Trump 52-42 in 2016; weeks later, the Democratic nominee released numbers from ALG Research that had her ahead 44-42. Meijer did get better news, though, when a late September survey from the conservative firm We Ask America had him leading 48-41 as Biden and Trump deadlocked 47-47.

This seat is still red enough that Meijer remains the frontrunner, but Scholten's chances are as strong as they've ever been.

NC-08 (Likely R to Lean R): While Republican Rep. Richard Hudson is still the favorite against Democrat Pat Timmons-Goodson, a former justice on the state Supreme Court, major outside groups on both sides have begun spending serious amounts of money late in the contest for North Carolina's 8th Congressional District.

The only two polls we've seen in recent weeks have both come from Democrats, and they've each shown a close race. A late September internal from Brilliant Corners for Timmons-Goodson showed Hudson up 44-42 as Trump led only 47-44 in a seat he took 53-44 four years ago. An early October DCCC Analytics poll was even more favorable: It found Timmons-Goodson and Biden up 42-39 and 47-43, respectively. Republicans have yet to release contradictory numbers.

There's also one other factor that could complicate Hudson's path in this seat, which includes Fayetteville and some of Charlotte's suburbs: Because of court-supervised redistricting, the Republican is seeking reelection in a seat where a quarter of all residents are new to him, which could prevent him from enjoying the full benefits of incumbency.

SC-01 (Tossup to Lean D): Freshman Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham won South Carolina's coastal 1st Congressional District in one of the bigger upsets of 2018, but he's the frontrunner going into the final weeks of his bid for reelection.

An early October DCCC internal from GQR found Cunningham leading GOP state Rep. Nancy Mace by a wide 55-42 margin as respondents backed Biden 48-47 in a district that Trump took 53-40 last time. Mace responded the following week with a Strategic National survey that showed her ahead 47-45 as Trump led 47-44, but even fellow Republicans don't seem to believe she's actually doing that well: Last week, Politico recently reported that Republicans privately believe Mace's prospects are "dimming."

Major outside groups on both sides are still spending heavily here, and a Mace win is still very possible, but Cunningham, for perhaps the first time in his political career, is the favorite.

TX-32 (Lean D to Likely D): Freshman Democratic Rep. Colin Allred flipped Texas' 32nd District after a very expensive 2018 battle, but it will be hard for businesswoman Genevieve Collins to reclaim it for her party.

This historically red suburban North Dallas seat swung from 57-41 Romney to 49-47 Clinton, and diverse and well-educated constituencies like this have only become more hostile to the GOP over the last four years. Major outside groups also aren't acting like this will be close: While both parties are pouring millions into the neighboring 24th District, they've steered clear of this race so far. Collins still has the resources to run a credible campaign on her own, but it would be a big surprise if she emerged victorious.

WA-03 (Likely R to Lean R): Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler is still the frontrunner against Democrat Carolyn Long, whom she defeated 53-47 in 2018, but their rematch for southern Washington's 3rd Congressional District has been looking more competitive recently.

In late September, Long released an internal from GQR that found Herrera Beutler up 49-47 as Trump led just 48-47 in a district he took 50-43 in 2016. That's the only survey we've seen here in some time, but major outside groups are acting like this seat is very much in play. The National Republican Congressional Committee and Congressional Leadership Fund went on the air on Oct. 13 to aid the congresswoman, the very same day the DCCC released its first anti-Herrera Beutler ads. Altogether, national GOP groups spent almost $900,000 during the week of Oct. 12, while the DCCC dropped $470,000 during that time.

Herrera Beutler still has the advantage, though, in this conservative seat. The incumbent pulled off a healthy win last cycle, and even Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell narrowly lost the 3rd District 51-49 that year while she was winning statewide in a 58-42 landslide. However, if 2020 turns out to be a stronger year for Team Blue than 2018 was, Long will have an opportunity to notch an upset.

Major Democratic super PAC cancels TV ads in Colorado GOP senator's path to re-election collapses

The Democratic group Senate Majority PAC announced Friday that it was canceling its remaining $1.2 million TV reservation in Colorado, a move that's only the latest sign that Republican Sen. Cory Gardner is in dire shape against Democrat John Hickenlooper.

While SMP is the first group that has stopped spending here altogether, Gardner's allies have also largely directed their resources elsewhere. The Denver Post's Justin Wingerter reported on Friday that the NRSC, the committee that Gardner himself chaired just two years ago, had spent $145,000 during the first half of October, a negligible sum for the final weeks of a Senate race.

The Senate Leadership Fund has spent $2 million from the start of October through Friday, which, while a lot more than the NRSC, still is much less than its directed elsewhere. SLF is still running spots here and told Politico that it would continue doing so, but it's clear the super PAC doesn't see this race as a major priority in a cycle where it has so many seats to defend in far more conservative states.

The Gardner campaign responded to SMP's announcement by arguing, "It's clear the Democrats also know John Hickenlooper has no chance of winning," but few fell for that truly uninspired spin. Four surveys have been released so far in October, and they've all shown Hickenlooper ahead by at least 9 points. Every recent poll has also shown Joe Biden far ahead in what a swing state only a few years ago, which makes Gardner's task even tougher.

Republican district in Pennsylvania Trump easily won is now a tossup: analysis

Daily Kos Elections is changing our race ratings in five more contests—four shift in the direction of the Democrats, while one moves to the right. We also now have a total of 10 GOP-held seats rated as Lean Republican or better for Democrats. You can find all our Senate, gubernatorial, and House ratings at each link.

PA-10 (Lean R to Tossup): Republican Rep. Scott Perry narrowly held Pennsylvania's 10th District 51-49 last cycle, but he faces an even tougher challenge next month from state Auditor Eugene DePasquale. National Democrats have released several polls showing DePasquale leading Perry, and they've simultaneously found Joe Biden out front in this Harrisburg-area seat that supported Donald Trump 52-43 in 2016. Perry's allies, meanwhile, have yet to release contradictory numbers. This district is red enough that Trump could still carry it even if he loses Pennsylvania and help get Perry across the finish line, but the incumbent no longer looks like the favorite to hang on.

AK-Sen (Likely R to Lean R): Republican incumbent Dan Sullivan began the year looking like a lock for reelection, but his standing has continually eroded the closer we get to November. We've seen only a few polls of Alaska's Senate race, but they've all shown Sullivan in a tight race against orthopedic surgeon Al Gross, an independent who won the Democratic nomination in August.

Importantly, major outside groups on both sides are behaving like this seat is quite competitive and have continued to spend millions as Election Day draws nearer. Gross has also proven to be a very strong fundraiser, and the senator's campaign has reportedly said it expects to be badly outspent. Sullivan still has the advantage in Alaska, which has long been a reliably red state, but the possibility of an upset looms large.

KS-03 (Lean D to Likely D): Democrat Sharice Davids won an expensive race two years ago to flip Kansas' 3rd Congressional District, but her first reelection campaign in the Kansas City area is looking considerably less eventful. This constituency backed Hillary Clinton 47-46 after supporting Mitt Romney 54-44, and well-educated suburban areas like this have moved even further to the left since then: Democrat Laura Kelly, for instance, romped to a 56-37 win in the 3rd District in her successful bid for governor two years ago.

The only poll we've seen was a late September survey from the Republican firm VCreek/AMG, and it showed Davis beating former state Republican Party chair Amanda Adkins 56-36. Importantly, major outside groups haven't spent anything here this cycle.

NY-24 (Lean R to Tossup): Republican Rep. John Katko held off Democrat Dana Balter 53-47 last cycle, but their rematch in New York's 24th Congressional District looks like it will be even more competitive. A late September poll from Siena showed Balter ahead 42-40, while Joe Biden led 53-34 in a Syracuse-based seat that Hillary Clinton carried just 49-45. Outside groups from both parties have also already spent considerably more money here than they deployed during the entire 2018 contest.

Katko is a strong campaigner who ran dramatically ahead of Trump in 2016 and managed to survive the midterm blue wave. However, political conditions look even worse for the GOP this time than they did two years ago, and Katko will have a tougher time holding on in November.

OR-04 (Safe D to Likely D): Veteran Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio has always won reelection in Oregon's 4th Congressional District with ease, but 2020 is shaping up to be his toughest contest yet. DeFazio faces a credible challenge from former Oregon National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, who attracted international attention in 2015 when he helped stop a terrorist attack on a Paris-bound train. And while there has been next to no outside spending here in decades, both parties have been airing ads in recent weeks.

This seat, which includes the southern Willamette Valley and Oregon's southern coast, backed Hillary Clinton by a tiny 46.1-46.0 spread, and it's possible that Donald Trump could carry it this year even if Nov. 3 is otherwise a bad night for the GOP. DeFazio has never had trouble winning votes from ticket-splitting Republican voters before, and he's still the front-runner, but this is one to keep an eye on.

Both parties pour millions more into Alaska's surprisingly competitive Senate race

While Alaska's U.S. Senate race looked like just an afterthought for both parties as recently as a few months ago, major outside groups on each side are continuing to book millions here just weeks ahead of Election Day.

Politico's James Arkin reports that a newly established Democratic group called North Star has launched a $4 million ad buy in support of Al Gross, an independent who is running as the Democratic nominee. The first ad stars a local breast cancer survivor, and she takes Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan to task for voting to let insurance companies deny coverage due to preexisting conditions. Arkin also reports that the conservative Senate Leadership Fund will spend $3.7 million here to protect Sullivan, which would bring the super PAC's total planned spending for this race to $5.3 million.

While SLF's investment gives Sullivan's side more firepower, the incumbent is still being very badly outspent. OpenSecrets reports that Gross' allies have already spent $6.6 million in this race, a figure that doesn't yet account for North Star's new offensive, while the only major pro-Sullivan spending was the aforementioned $1.5 million buy from SLF.

Gross also announced that he raised a massive $9 million during the third quarter of 2020—over $1 million more that Sullivan brought in during his entire 2014 campaign. Sullivan hasn't announced his own haul, but Arkin writes that his campaign "has said they expect to be outraised and outspent by a staggering, five-to-one margin."

All of this spending comes despite the fact that very few polls have been released here over the last month, though the few numbers we've seen have shown a close race. In late September, a Harstad Research poll for Al Gross' allies at Independent Alaska showed Sullivan up just 46-45. Donald Trump also led only 47-46, which is not only a big drop from his 51-37 victory here in 2016, it would be the closest presidential contest ever in the Last Frontier state, narrowly topping Richard Nixon's 51-49 win over John F. Kennedy in 1960.

The local firm Alaska Survey Research also released its own poll recently that showed Sullivan and Trump up 48-44 and 50-46, respectively.

Three more House race ratings move in the Democrats' direction — including Darrell Issa's

Donald Trump is continuing to harm his party downballot, which is why Daily Kos Elections is moving three more contests in the direction of the Democrats. You can find all of our Senate, gubernatorial, and House ratings at each link.

CA-50 (Safe R to Likely R): Republican Darrell Issa looked like a sure bet to return to the House after he narrowly prevailed in the March top-two primary for California's 50th Congressional District, but two polls taken over the summer have shown him locked in a surprisingly tight race with Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar.

A late July Campa-Najjar internal from Strategies 360 had Issa ahead 47-43, while an early September SurveyUSA poll showed the Republican up just 46-45. And while Campa-Najjar's team did not disclose the presidential results, SurveyUSA showed Joe Biden ahead 48-45 in an ancestrally Republican seat in inland San Diego County that backed Donald Trump 55-40 in 2016.

Issa, who infamously decided to run here two years after he retired as the congressman from the neighboring—and much bluer—49th District just ahead of the 2018 blue wave, is still favored to prevail here. Despite those numbers from SurveyUSA, it would be a big surprise if Trump lost a seat where Republicans have done well across the ballot for decades. Indeed, it was only two years ago that then-Rep. Duncan Hunter managed to fend off Campa-Najjar 52-48 even though Hunter was under indictment at the time for misusing campaign money.

Still, Campa-Najjar has the resources to run another strong campaign, and these polls give us a good reason to watch this contest.

ME-02 (Tossup to Lean D): Democrat Jared Golden narrowly flipped Maine's 2nd Congressional District following an instant runoff two years ago, but he's run well ahead of former Republican state Rep. Dale Crafts in every poll that's been released in 2020.

Golden also got some encouraging news on Sept. 21 when the Republican ad-tracking firm Medium Buying reported that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) was scaling back its TV reservation here in an apparent sign of confidence, though Daily Kos Elections has not been able to confirm the specifics. But while Crafts faces a major cash deficit, the conservative Congressional Leadership Fund reportedly has $2.35 million booked to aid Crafts, so Team Red is hardly acting like he's doomed.

And while Golden may have the edge now, his victory is not a foregone conclusion. Though polls show that Donald Trump is running well behind his 51-41 victory here from four years ago, he could still carry this district—and its electoral vote—again. Both presidential campaigns are targeting the 2nd, and Trump's spending could end up giving the entire Republican ticket, including Crafts, a boost.

MT-AL (Likely R to Lean R): We've seen an unusually large number of polls of the contest for Montana's At-Large Congressional District, and they almost all show a competitive race. As of Sept. 24, the Daily Kos Elections polling average gives 2018 Democratic nominee Kathleen Williams a 46-44 edge over Republican state Auditor Matt Rosendale, who was the party's losing candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2018.

Williams is still the underdog in Montana, which hasn't given its electoral votes to a Democrat since Bill Clinton narrowly won it in 1992. However, as Rosendale found out the hard way last cycle, voters are still open to backing Democrats for downballot contests. Multiple polls have also found that, while Donald Trump is still ahead in the state, he's coming nowhere close to matching his 56-36 showing from four years ago, which reduces the number of crossover voters that Williams would need to win in order to prevail.

A new poll finds a tight special election contest for Georgia Senate seat

Monmouth’s newest poll of Georgia’s special election for U.S. Senate finds a very tight race to advance to the all-but-certain January runoff, a result that’s very similar to what several other firms have found in recent weeks.

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Here's how to keep track of which House races are hemorrhaging support — but there are several caveats

The Texas Tribune reported Friday that the NRCC had canceled $2 million in ad time for the Houston media market—apparently the committee's entire reservation—and would instead direct that money to other parts of the state.

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Democrats book ad time to defeat the Alaska Republican who has served in House since 1973

The Washington Post reported this week that the DCCC had reserved $10 million in TV time in markets across the country, and a source with knowledge of Democratic media buys has broken down the amounts for us. We've assembled this new data into a spreadsheet and added it to our reservations tracker.

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Scandal-plagued Florida congressman becomes 8th House Republican incumbent to lose primary in 2020

Republican primary voters in Florida’s 15th Congressional District on Tuesday denied renomination for freshman Rep. Ross Spano, who has been under investigation by the Justice Department since last year due to a campaign finance scandal, and instead gave the GOP nod to Lakeland City Commissioner Scott Franklin.

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