2018 Campaign

Espy and Hyde-Smith Running Even In Mississippi

A new Triumph Campaigns poll in Mississippi finds Mike Espy (D) and Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) neck and neck in the special election to replace Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), 33% to 33%. They are followed by Chris McDaniel (R) at 13% and Jason Shelton (D) at 6%.

The special election will not have party primaries and is likely to go to a runoff.

In head-to-head matchups, Hyde-Smith leads Espy, 42% to 36%, while Espy leads McDaniel, 43% to 24%.

Being the Anti-Clinton Won’t Work In 2018

First Read: “One of the keys to President Trump’s victory in 2016 — and to his overall political survival — has been to claim, essentially: ‘Hey, I’m not Hillary Clinton.’ Indeed, voters who disliked BOTH Clinton and him ended up siding with the Republican in 2016.”

“But that talking point doesn’t work for Trump anymore, even as Clinton remains highly unpopular, according to the latest NBC/WSJ poll… voters who dislike both Hillary and Trump make up 15 percent of voters, and they are more Democratic and prefer the Dems to control Congress.”

“NBC/WSJ co-pollster Bill McInturff (R) says that the bipartisan disapprovers are clearly different voters between 2016 and now, but it’s also clear that they won’t be Republican voters in 2018 – and maybe beyond.”

GOP Candidate Compares McConnell to the Russians

“A brewing fight between West Virginia GOP Senate candidate Don Blankenship and national Republicans spilled into the open Monday when the coal baron compared Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell to Russians interfering in his state’s election,” Politico reports.

Said Blankenship” “McConnell should not be in the U.S. Senate, let alone be the Republican Majority Leader. He is a Swamp captain.”

He added: “The Russians and McConnell should both stop interfering with elections outside their jurisdictions. West Virginians are aware that McConnell cannot vote in their election. They want him to mind his own business and do his job. A job he has not done now for over 30 years. Balance the budget Mitch and stay out of West Virginia.”

Ryan’s PAC Will Spend $50 Million on House Races

“A leading Republican super PAC has booked nearly $50 million in midterm advertising to defend threatened suburban battlegrounds as part of a broader strategy to defend the party’s imperiled House majority,” the Washington Examiner reports.

“Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC affiliated with outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced the advertising commitments on Tuesday, signaling more air cover was on the way as November draws near. The initial investment is directing $38 million in broadcast and cable television to 20 districts threatened with a Democratic takeover, with another $10 million in digital spots flowing to 30 targeted seats.”

Axios: “This is a huge ad spend for an outside group so early on in the election cycle, and the 50 districts targeted reveal which areas across the country that House Republican leadership are most concerned about come November. Most of the targeted districts align with the Cook Political Report’s “Republican Toss-Up” rating.”

Democrats In Good Position to Flip New Jersey House Seats

A new Monmouth poll in New Jersey finds Democrats have a 19 point advantage over Republicans in the generic House ballot, 54% to 35%.

“If this result holds, it would mark a substantially better result for Congressional Democrats in New Jersey than in recent elections. Democrats won the statewide House vote by 8 points (53% to 45%) in 2016 and an even smaller 2 points (50% to 48%) in the 2014 midterm. Moreover, the poll finds that the overall swing is coming mainly from GOP-held seats.”

“In the five House seats currently held by a Republican, voter preference is split nearly evenly at 46% for the GOP candidate and 44% for the Democrat. The aggregate vote from these five districts in the past two House elections averaged a sizable 22 point advantage for the Republicans (59% – 38% in 2016 and 61% – 38% in 2014). On the other hand, the poll’s vote share in the seven seats currently held by Democrats – 59% Dem to 28% GOP – is in line with the average 30 point advantage Democrats held in these districts in both 2016 (65% – 32%) and 2014 (62% – 36%).”

Said pollster Patrick Murray: “This is pretty astounding. Not only are New Jersey Democrats doing better on the generic House ballot statewide, but the shift is coming almost entirely from districts currently held by the GOP. If these results hold, we could be down to just one or two – or maybe even zero – Republican members in the state congressional delegation after November.”

Corker Won’t Campaign Against Bredesen

While retiring Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) announced that he’s contributed to expected GOP Senate nominee Marsha Blackburn (R), he also said that he won’t be out campaigning against her opponent, former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D), the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.

Said Corker: “I certainly do not plan to be working against somebody who is a friend and who has served our state ably. We’ve worked together to build a great state.”

Republicans Struggle to Make Tax Cuts a Winning Issue

Bloomberg: “Some recent polls show that the majority of Americans still don’t support the tax law, despite an uptick in sentiment since the end of 2017. And a special House election in a conservative district of Pennsylvania in March delivered an upset victory to the Democratic candidate, who’d framed the tax cuts as a giveaway to the wealthy.”

“After most individual taxpayers finish up their returns this week, all eyes will turn to what the tax code revamp means for next year’s filings and beyond. Part of the Republican party’s problem in selling the tax cuts is that the answer is murky for many. Variables like dependents and itemized deductions can complicate the picture, even though most — 65 percent — will see a tax cut in 2018. And even for voters who do see a cut, whether it’s enough to sway their decisions at the ballot box is far from clear.”

Democratic Lead In Midterms Slips

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds the Democratic advantage in the upcoming midterm elections has narrowed to 10 points among all adults, 4 points among registered voters and 5 points among those who say they’re both registered and certain to vote.

“In January, by contrast, Democrats held similar margins in all three groups – 13, 12 and 15 points, respectively.”

Key findings: “Factors at play include a slide in self-reported registration among Democrats, which is a sign of waning engagement; consolidation among Republicans of their base; and better results for the GOP among less-educated Americans generally, and non-college-educated white women in particular.”

GOP Launches Secret Group to Attack Blankenship

“The Republican establishment has launched an emergency intervention in the West Virginia Senate primary aimed at stopping recently imprisoned coal baron Don Blankenship from winning the party’s nomination,” Politico reports.

“Late last week, a newly-formed super PAC generically dubbed the ‘Mountain Families PAC’ began airing TV ads targeting Blankenship, who spent one year behind bars following a deadly 2010 explosion at his Upper Big Branch Mine. The national party isn’t promoting its role in the group but its fingerprints are all over it.”

Big GOP Donor Now Backing Democrats

“Boston hedge fund billionaire Seth Klarman lavished more than $7 million on Republican candidates and political committees during the Obama administration, using his fortune to help underwrite a GOP takeover of the federal government,” the Boston Globe reports.

“But the rise of Donald Trump shocked and dismayed Klarman, as did the timid response from the Republican-controlled House and Senate, which have acquiesced rather than challenge the president’s erratic and divisive ways. So, in an astonishing flip, Klarman, at one point New England’s most generous donor to Republicans, is taking his money elsewhere: He’s heaping cash on Democrats.”

RNC Will Spend $250 Million on Midterm Strategy

The RNC “has committed $250 million to a midterm election strategy that has one goal above all else: Preserve the party’s House majority for the rest of President Trump’s first term,” the AP reports.

“Facing the prospect of a blue wave this fall, the White House’s political arm is devoting unprecedented resources to building an army of paid staff and trained volunteers across more than two dozen states. The RNC is taking the fight to Senate Democrats in Republican-leaning states, but much of the national GOP’s resources are focused on protecting Republican-held House seats in states including Florida, California and New York.”

Republicans Lose Their Favorite Campaign Issue

Washington Post: “For the first time in nearly a decade, Republican candidates across the country find themselves bereft of what was once their favorite talking point: repealing and replacing President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act — and all the havoc they alleged it has wreaked.”

“That’s because the GOP failed dramatically in its efforts last year to roll back the ACA as its first big legislative delivery on the promise of single-party control of Washington from Congress to the White House. That defeat has quickly turned attacks on Obamacare from centerpiece into pariah on the campaign trail, a sudden disappearing act that Democrats are looking to exploit as they seek to regain power in the midterms.”