by David Nir
• PA-Sen (Likely D to Lean D): Barack Obama’s swooning fortunes have, in most cases, actually not involved concomitant drops for Democratic Senate candidates, but Pennsylvania seems to be an exception. Though a lot of the polling is from sketchy, unreliable firms, some better pollsters (like Quinnipiac) also agree that Dem Sen. Bob Casey’s seen his race with Tom Smith tighten considerably. Casey also faces a problem beyond just top-of-the-ticket woes: Smith loaned his campaign a massive $10 million in the last quarter, and he seems intent on spending all of it. Casey still has the edge—he’s got money, his family name, and PA’s blue tilt. But it won’t be as easy as it looked all cycle.
• MA-06 (Tossup to Lean R): Fairly or not (and I don’t think it’s fair, but that doesn’t matter), Dem Rep. John Tierney’s been tarred by an ugly scandal related to illegal gambling and tax evasion that’s ensnared his brothers-in-law and sent his wife (briefly) to jail. That’s been a game-changer in this otherwise blue-leaning seat, though Democrats in the Massachusetts legislature didn’t help Tierney any by redistricting him into the reddest seat in the state. Tierney also drew top-shelf opposition in the former of ex-state Sen. Richard Tisei, who is gay and has long cultivated a “moderate” image, making him the kind of Republican whom LGBT groups are excited about supporting. Tierney and the DCCC have been drawing down their ad efforts and no one bothered responding to a Tisei poll that had him up by a punishing 17 points.
• NY-11 (Lean R to Likely R): Democratic recruitment fell short in this district, with a ton of local elected officials (as well as ex-Rep. Mike McMahon) declining to run. That left Team Blue with Mark Murphy, son of a former congressman but lacking in a lot of political skills. The hope here, though, had long been that GOP Rep. Mike Grimm’s various scandals (mostly related to campaign finance) would come home to roost and would open up an opportunity in this Republican-leaning seat. While serious investigations are still pending, it doesn’t sound like any shoes are going to drop before election day. Outside groups haven’t shown any interest in helping out in this, the most expensive media market in the nation, and it’s hard to imagine Murphy having a shot, but the slim possibility of an indictment has us keeping the race on the big board, just to be safe.
• PA-18 (Likely R to Safe R): Larry Maggi, a local official with a background in law enforcement, looked like a solid, against-type recruit for Democrats. But this race, against veteran Rep. Tim Murphy, was always going to be a stretch, especially given how conservative the district is. The DCCC recently cancelled all of its ad reservations here, an acknowledgement that they’re giving up.
• TN-04 (Safe R to Likely R): Though we were lonely in doing so, we kept TN-04 at Likely R for a long time. A few weeks ago, however, we concluded that there just weren’t any signs that Democrat Eric Stewart, decent recruit though he was, could pull off an upset, so we moved it to the Safe column. Well, a funny thing happened, as you undoubtedly know: The transcript of a phone call made by GOP Rep. Scott DesJarlais to his mistress—who also happened to be a patient of his—was made public, in which he (a supposedly “pro-life” Republican) pressured her to have an abortion. Needless to say, that’s the kind of unexpected bombshell that can change the calculus, even in a dark-red district like this.
That alone wouldn’t have been enough for us, though, but now we have additional evidence of movement here: A Stewart poll putting him back just 5 points, the DCCC adding him to Red to Blue, and a brand-new $100K ad buy from House Majority PAC (see the TN-04 item below in our “House” section). Given how conservative this seat is (McCain won 63-36), a Stewart win is still an incredible longshot, but this is why they play the games….