For a sense on how the national environment is shaping up for Senate Democrats, look no further than the Montana Senate campaign to fill the seat of retiring Sen. Max Baucus (D).
— It’s a race featuring a Democratic outsider with a compelling biography against a House Republican. It’s taking place in a Republican state — but one where Democrats have won 19 of the last 23 Senate races. And it’s emerging as an early test for how badly Obamacare will hurt Democrats, even those who didn’t vote for the law.
— Republicans landed their top recruit Wednesday in freshman Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT). After failing to get former Gov. Brian Schweitzer in the race, Dems settled on Lt. Gov. John Walsh, who led the state National Guard and boasts outsider credentials, without a voting record to scrutinize. Last month, in the wake of the government shutdown, being a House Republican was a problematic part of a resume. Now, given the president’s falling numbers, being a Democrat in a red state could be more problematic.
— Unlike incumbent senators who voted for the law, Walsh will have the freedom to distance himself from the White House as much as he needs to. But in an unexpected challenge, he’s facing some friendly fire from his own party. Schweitzer’s 77-year-old Lt. Gov., John Bohlinger, is challenging Walsh in the primary, and the former governor told Hotline that Walsh starts the primary at a disadvantage. There’s clearly no love lost between the former governor and Washington Democrats.
It’s appropriate that Montana is shaping up as an early bellwether, given that Baucus drew headlines for suggesting — in April 2013! — that the health care law’s implementation was becoming a train wreck. His successor will be determined by how badly that “train wreck” costs Senate Democrats next November.
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After keeping the information private for most of the lead-up to the debate on Monday, it has been revealed that longtime Clinton aide Philippe Reines has been playing the role of Donald Trump in her debate prep. Reines knows Clinton better than most, able to identify both her strengths and weaknesses, and his selection for a sparring partner shows that Clinton is preparing for the brash and confrontational Donald Trump many have come to expect.
- A national Washington Post/ABC News poll shows Clinton leading Trump by just two points among likely voters, 46% to 44%.
- A national Bloomberg poll out Monday morning by Selzer & Co. has Clinton and Trump tied at 46% in a two-way race, and Trump ahead 43% to 41% in a four-way race.
- A CNN/ORC poll in Colorado shows likely voters’ support for Trump at 42%, 41% for Clinton, and a CNN/ORC poll in Pennsylvania has Clinton at 45% and Trump at 44%.
- A Portland Press Herald/UNH survey in Maine has Clinton leading Trump in ME-01 and Trump ahead in ME-02.
More than 30 times, in the case of some donors. Long before Cruz endorsed Trump—and before he even snubbed the nominee at the Republican National Convention—"the senator quietly began renting his vast donor email file to his former rival, pocketing at least tens of thousands of dollars, and more likely hundreds of thousands, that can be used to bankroll the Texan’s own political future."