It was only last week that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sent shockwaves throughout the political community and deeply dispirited Democrats when they pulled advertising from Kentucky, conceding that the only opportunity Democrats had to unseat a sitting GOP senator in 2014 was all but lost.
As Allahpundit observed at the time, despite spending $2 million in Kentucky in support of Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, the DSCC was right to cut their losses. Though she was only down by about 4 percent in most public polls, as Real Clear Politics analyst noted, candidates down by four with three weeks to go before an election only end up winning about 10 percent of the time.
Whether it is a smart investment or not, the Democrats cheered on Wednesday when the DSCC revealed that it was jumping back into the Kentucky race after a public poll found Sen. Mitch McConnell up by just one point over his Democratic challenger. Citing their polling which they claimed showed undecided voters breaking for Grimes, the DSCC revealed it had reserved $650,000 in airtime to support the Democratic standard-bearer.
McConnell’s campaign did not inspire much confidence when they responded to this development by releasing their internal polling.
— Jessica Taylor (@JessicaTaylor) October 22, 2014
Now, it’s not a hard-and-fast rule, but poll-watchers and pundits are trained to view a candidate’s decision to release their internal polling skeptically. McConnell’s lead is, according to him, a massive 7 points. According to the average of all public surveys in the field since early October, McConnell enjoys an average lead of just 4 points over the challenger.
In South Dakota where former Republican Gov. Mike Rounds faced a surprisingly volatile landscape campaigning against two candidates to his left, the DSCC has also invested to keep the 2014 competitive. According to Politico’s Manu Raju, Rounds has also released his internal polling to the press which purportedly shows him up big over his two challengers. Raju reported that the GOP believes Rounds has “stabilized” the race.
But Rounds began to sink in the polls as a scandal involving his appointees abusing state funds became central to the race for Senate in South Dakota. The federal investigation into that incident is still ongoing and, as The Hill warned on Thursday, the final shoe could still drop on Rounds before voters head to the polls.
“Former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds (R) was aware that a member of his Cabinet had a potential conflict of interest between his role overseeing a controversial state investment program and his next job, working for an investor profiting from the program. The FBI investigation into the EB-5 program is still underway,” The Hill reported.
It is a Republican year, and there are still avenues for the GOP to retake the Senate even if they lose an incumbent or fall short in open races in states like South Dakota or Georgia. It becomes far more difficult if the GOP falls short in two states like Kentucky and South Dakota.
An earlier version of this post included a dated tweet about McConnell’s internal polling numbers. A relevant tweet has since been added.