Four Races Appear Done

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 5, 2016 — The two political parties continue to make financial decisions with regard to Senate race funding. More became public at the beginning of this week, as both the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) canceled major ad buys in several states, again telling us how the respective party organization leaders believe several key campaigns will end on Nov. 8th.

In two instances, according to the Daily Kos Elections page, the DSCC reduced media buys in states where their candidates are challengers. Most of the time, such a move would suggest that prospects are yielding favorable conclusions for the Republican incumbents. In Wisconsin and Illinois, however, the opposite appears true.

The moves suggest that leadership in both parties believes that former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) will unseat GOP Sen. Ron Johnson. Last week the DSCC released a major part of their final electronic media reservation ironically saying that Feingold is secure because he continues to hold an uncontested polling lead.

It further became known that the NRSC is following suit by canceling their entire $1.1 million remaining television buy for Wisconsin. This clearly means the NRSC decision makers feel Johnson is finished, and though their spokesman indicated the party organization is continuing with coordinated expenditures for Wisconsin, the allowable legal spending limit in such a category is well under half of the canceled amount.

Also coming to public attention is the Democrats’ media cutback in Illinois. Here, the party organization nixed a $600,000 reserved buy for mid-October. Usually, such a move would suggest the party is giving up on their candidate, but not so in this case. With polling showing challenger Tammy Duckworth (D) ahead across the board, the move communicates the Democrats’ belief that the race is won. In a way, the Republicans’ announced re-positioning last week confirms this supposition. Though the NRSC bought $750,000 in media time to back Sen. Mark Kirk (R), the amount is far under what would be needed to propel a lagging incumbent in a big state where the party presidential nominee is not competitive.

On the other hand, another major Democratic media cancellation provides very good news for a competitive Republican incumbent. It is now clear that Democratic survey data agrees with published polls in Florida finding Sen. Marco Rubio (R) securing his advantage over Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Jupiter). After last week reducing their expensive Florida advertising budget by $4 million, yesterday it became known that the DSCC is now pulling an additional $1.9 million from their final buy. Here, the move is a clear indication that they don’t believe such spending would propel Murphy over Rubio.

Last week, as we reported, the Democrats also basically conceded Ohio, as they took the millions of dollars earmarked to back former Gov. Ted Strickland’s (D) challenge to Sen. Rob Portman (R) and instead increased buys in other states.

Both parties’ strategic media moves suggests that Democrats are clearly headed for conversion victories in Wisconsin and Illinois, while Republican incumbents are now in strong position to hold Florida and Ohio.

If these trends prove true, and the lack of resources going to support trailing incumbents and challengers tells us that little will change in these four states irrespective of how the presidential campaign ends, we can now project a net increase of two seats for the Democrats.

This further means that the races in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Missouri and North Carolina are going to get even hotter as campaign time and resources continue to elapse.

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