Bang for buck in the Senate

Yesterday, I listened to a Flip the West webinar with Ben Tulchin, a pollster who was working for Bernie and who is now concentrating on Senate races. He not only discussed polls (not much new there: AZ, CO, ME, and NC as the Dems’ Big Four, anticipating a loss in AL, where Jones is 10 behind), but also who has enough money and who doesn’t.

  • Mark Kelly (AZ) is swimming in money; he has outraised McSally by $12MM; he is up 7–12 in the polls, and there will be National spending because the Biden-Trump contest is close. No need.
  • John Hickenlooper (CO) still has a primary, but he is up double-digits on his more liberal opponent. Because of his late start, he is behind on funds compared to Cory Gardner, but he is well ahead in the general election polls.
  • Sara Gideon (ME) has raised $14 million, only a little more than Collins, but she is approaching the maximum amount she can sensibly spend in a small state with inexpensive media. There is likely to be some national money coming into Maine to fight for the single Electoral Vote of ME-02.
  • Cal Cunningham (NC) is being outraised in a state that looks to be competitive at every level, top of the ballot down. Flip the West, which doesn’t have deep cash resources, will be doing volunteering for Cunningham. This looks to be where to donate in the top four.
  • Montana is still seen as a second-tier race because polling is thin and hasn’t yet assimilated the entrance of Steve Bullock into the race. The most recent poll has Bullock ahead. Bullock, like Hickenlooper, is playing catch-up on funds because of delay during their quixotic Presidential campaigns.
  • Both the regular and special elections in Georgia have moved into the second tier. The Democratic primaries are competitive, and whoever wins the primaries will be far back in cash. (The special election is also subject to a run-off condition that works against Democrats.)
  • Iowa has moved into the second tier. Theresa Greenfield looks like the likely winner of the primary. She is polling very slightly behind Jodi Ernst. Tulchin seems convinced that Ernst is an extreme, and therefore weak, candidate. He didn’t explain why that is more true today than when she came from behind to win in 2014. In any case, Greenfield is also being outraised.
  • Tulchin showed the polls from Texas, where the Democratic primary is contested. There was a lot of interest in contributing to Texas, but the Senatorial polls are very challenging. Chances seem far better in Georgia.
  • I asked about Alaska. Tulchin described it as almost impossible to poll owing to difficulty in getting responses, especially in the season of 20-hour daylight.
  • Not Tulchin, but Daily Kos, had an interesting analysis of the South Carolina race. Yes, all those text messages asking for money that tell you Jaime Harrison is polling more-or-less even with Lindsey Graham are correct. What they don’t tell you is that the undecided voters are overwhelmingly Republican. Probably more of these feel Graham’s (late) conversion and utter abjection to the Church of the Orange Emperor is still inadequate, compared to the number considering defection to the Democrats. Expect them to go home to the Republican candidate in the end.

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