New web ad puts focus on guns in Florida governor's race

WASHINGTON — A new web ad from Democratic Florida gubernatorial hopeful Gwen Graham is keeping the focus on gun control in the aftermath of February's tragic Parkland shooting.

In the video, provided first to NBC News, Graham calls the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School "every parent's worst nightmare," visibly emotional as the mother of three talks about the tragedy that left 17 people dead.

“My heart breaks as a mom. That’s how this issue resonates with me, not as someone running for office, but as a mom that never wants any parent to face what those parents faced," she says, promising to be a steadfast advocate for gun control in the Sunshine State and to buck the National Rifle Association if elected governor this fall.

The campaign tells NBC it will put a paid push behind the video online, but did not detail the amount. The ad's release comes days before Florida Democratic hopefuls gather in Tampa for a debate Wednesday.

Graham is one in a crowded field of Democrats and Republicans vying to succeed current Florida Governor Rick Scott, who announced last week he'd challenge incumbent Senator Bill Nelson for his seat in November.

Gun control is likely to remain a central issue in Florida's upcoming elections this year. After the Parkland shooting, Governor Scott signed legislation into law that raised the age limit for would-be gun purchasers to 21 — riling the NRA — while also putting in place a provision that allows trained teachers to arm themselves in school.

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Vulnerable GOP lawmaker in hot water after being tricked by Sacha Baron Cohen on plan to arm toddlers

Longtime Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) is getting hammered by his Democratic opponent after he was tricked into participating in a satirical interview in which politicians supported arming young children to fight back during school shootings.

Rohrabacher made the comments on comedian Sacha Baron Cohen’s new Showtime show, “Who is America,” excerpts of which were released over the weekend. The interviews with Rohrabacher and other politicians were an apparent ruse to convince the lawmakers to back arming pre-school aged children under the guise it was a popular strategy in Israel.

“Maybe having many young people trained and understanding how to defend themselves and their school might actually make us safer here,” Rohrabacher said in the interview.

A handful of other lawmakers went further to endorse the plan offered by Baron Cohen, who was pretending to be an Israeli soldier. The politicians thought they were giving an interview to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding.

Harley Rouda, Rohrabacher’s Democratic opponent, took aim at those comments in a new statement Tuesday.

"Arming children in response to an epidemic of gun violence sounds like a good idea to Dana Rohrabacher, which can only mean one thing: Dana Rohrabacher is completely out of good ideas,” he said.

"Dana can try to walk back his comments or call them fake news, but that's just a sad, cynical move.”

Rohrabacher has pushed back in a statement of his own, arguing he was only speaking “broadly” and never backed explicitly backed arming “toddlers.” He went on to pan the segment as a “sick fraud” meant to “deceive the American people for political purposes. “ 

All of this is coming as Rohrabacher faces a perilous path to reelection—a new Monmouth University poll found his race with Rouda within the margin of error.

Watch Rohrabacher’s comments here.

Mark Murray

Alabama's runoff presents odd choice for GOP voters

Tuesday’s congressional Republican runoff primary in Alabama is a choice between an incumbent Republican congresswoman — Martha Roby — who said she couldn’t support Donald Trump after the 2016 “Access Hollywood” video, and a former Democratic congressman — Bobby Bright — who once voted for Nancy Pelosi for speaker.

President Trump said he backed Roby after she failed to surpass the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff in the June 5 primary; she got 39 percent of the vote, versus Bright’s 28 percent.

“Congresswoman Martha Roby of Alabama has been a consistent and reliable vote for our Make America Great Again Agenda,” Trump tweeted last month. “She is in a Republican Primary run-off against a recent Nancy Pelosi voting Democrat. I fully endorse Martha for Alabama 2nd Congressional District!”

Despite that endorsement, Bright has aired a TV ad calling Roby a Never-Trumper. “2016 — Martha Roby made a name for herself as one of the loudest ‘Never-Trumpers’ in the country,” the Bright ad goes.

And Roby has fired back with this message: “In the Republican runoff, the choice is clear — lifelong Republican Martha Roby or Democrat Bobby Bright.” 

Carrie Dann

Democrats outraise Republicans in top House contests

Democrats outraised Republicans in all but FOUR of 40 of some of the most competitive House general election races in the second quarter of 2018.

NBC News reviewed FEC reports for a list of 40 races which are ranked as “Lean” or “Toss Up” by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report and which have their nominees set after March-June primary contests.

Some of the widest gaps in Democrats’ favor include fundraising hauls for New Jersey’s Mikie Sherill (who outraised Republican newcomer Jay Webber $1.4 million to $172,000), California’s Harley Rouda (who outraised incumbent Dana Rohrabacher by $994,000 to $192,000) and California’s Katie Hill (who outraised incumbent Steve Knight by about $1 million to $319,000).

Seven Democrats out of the 40 competitive races reported raising more than $1 million during the quarter, while no Republican campaign boasted a seven-figure haul in the same amount of time.

While the majority of Republicans in these races – most of them incumbents – have a cash-on-hand advantage over their Democratic rivals, Democrats in 16 of the 40 races are also besting their GOP counterparts when it comes to money in the bank as well.

Overall, Democrats in these races outraised Republican by nearly a 2-1 margin over the last 3 months, about $31 million to 15.8 million.

Here’s a full chart:


Mark Murray

Here are the top midterm ad markets and most expensive races

Here are the Top 10 markets — in terms of total TV and radio advertising — in the 2017-2018 midterm season, according to ad-spending data from Advertising Analytics. The numbers are through July 9.

  1. Chicago: $50.3 million
  2. Los Angeles: $32.3 million
  3. Orlando/Daytona Beach/Melbourne, FL: $19.9 million
  4. Tampa/St. Pete/Sarasota, FL: $18.0 million
  5. Pittsburgh, PA: $16.6 million
  6. San Diego, CA: $13.4 million
  7. Las Vegas, NV: $12.9 million
  8. St. Louis, MO: $11.6 million
  9. Satellite: $11.5 million
  10. Denver, CO: $10.8 million

The 10 most expensive Senate races

Meanwhile, here are the most expensive Senate races in terms of ad spending, per Advertising Analytics. The numbers are for both the primaries and general election.

  1. FL SEN: $26.2 million
  2. IN SEN: $21.4 million
  3. WI SEN: $17.1 million
  4. MO SEN: $15.0 million
  5. WV SEN: $12.6 million
  6. MT SEN: $9.2 million
  7. OH SEN: $5.3 million
  8. NV SEN: $5.2 million
  9. AZ SEN: $5.2 million
  10. CA SEN: $4.2 million

The 10 most expensive House races

Here are the most expensive House races in terms of ad spending, per Advertising Analytics. The numbers are for both the primaries and general election.

  1. PA-18 special: $11.9 million
  2. CA-49: $9.0 million
  3. CA-48: $5.0 million
  4. OH-12 special: $4.3 million
  5. TX-2: $4.0 million
  6. CA-39: $3.7 million
  7. MD-6: $3.7 million
  8. PA-1: $2.9 million
  9. NM-1: $2.6 million
  10. AZ-8 special: $2.5 million

The nine most expensive gubernatorial races

Here are the most expensive gubernatorial races in terms of ad spending, per Advertising Analytics. The numbers are for both the primaries and general election.

  1. IL GOV: $76.0 million
  2. FL GOV: $41.8 million
  3. TN GOV: $21.2 million
  4. GA GOV: $16.0 million
  5. MI GOV: $13.7 million
  6. NV GOV: $13.6 million
  7. OH GOV: $12.9 million
  8. PA GOV: $11.0 million
  9. ID GOV: $6.1 million
Carrie Dann

Poll: A record low 47 percent in the U.S. say they're "extremely proud" to be American

Just 47 percent of adults in the U.S. say they are "extremely proud" to be American, the lowest share since polling organization Gallup first started asking that question nearly two decades ago. 

And that's down ten points in just the last five years, from 57 percent in 2013. 

The decline has largely been among Democrats. Only 32 percent of Democrats told pollsters they are "extremely proud" to be American — down from 56 percent in 2013. 

About four-in-ten independents (42 percent) express the highest level of pride in their American identity, down from 50 percent five years ago. 

The opposite trend is true among Republicans. Now, nearly three-quarters of Republicans (74 percent) say they're extremely proud to be Americans, up slightly from 71 percent in 2013.

Dann, Caroline (206104031)

Dem poll: Democratic voters more engaged by issues than opposition to Trump

Democratic voters — especially those who are African-American and millennials — are more motivated by activism on specific issues rather than on generic protests of President Donald Trump, according to polling data from the Democratic group Navigator Research.

Overall, 68 percent of Democrats say they were engaged by the anti-gun-violence March for Our Lives, versus 40 percent of Democrats who said they were engaged by generic anti-Trump protests.

Among African-American Democrats, 69 percent feel engaged with Black Lives Matter, and 59 percent with the debate over the future of health care.  

In the era of Trump, Democrats also are paying more attention to politics: 58 percent of millennial Democrats say they are more tuned in to political issues, compared with 42 percent of non-Democratic millennials who say the same thing.

While 72 percent of Democrats say they feel angry about politics since Trump was elected, 43 percent of Republicans say they are excited. However, both Democrats (76 percent) and Republicans (53 percent) say President Trump’s Twitter usage exhausts them. 

Mark Murray

NBC/Marist polls: Independents break away from Trump, GOP

For all of the attention on polls showing President Trump retaining clear support from Republican voters, there’s maybe a more important set of numbers to watch heading in November’s midterm elections – Trump and the GOP’s standing with independents.

And according to a trio of state polls released by NBC News and Marist College, these independent voters are breaking away from the president and the Republican Party.

In Arizona’s poll — which shows Democrat Kyrsten Sinema ahead of her possible GOP opponents by double digits – Sinema leads Republican Martha McSally by 17 points among independent voters, 49 percent to 32 percent.

In Ohio – where Democrat Sherrod Brown is up 13 points — the Democratic senator enjoys a whopping 21-point lead over Republican Jim Renacci among indies, 51 percent to 30 percent.

And in Florida — where Democrat Bill Nelson is ahead by just 4 points (which is within the poll’s margin of error – the Democrat’s lead over Republican Rick Scott among independents is 9 points, 50 percent to 41 percent.

And it’s not just the horserace numbers. Trump’s job rating among independent adults is below 40 percent in Arizona (36 percent), Ohio (37 percent) and Florida (39 percent).

Independent voters also prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress in these three states — D+2 in Arizona, D+6 in Ohio and D+8 in Florida.

Additionally, fewer than one-in-three indie adults say Trump deserves re-election — 29 percent in Arizona, 31 percent in Florida and 32 percent in Ohio.

And maybe most significantly of all, independent voters by double-digit margins — 14 points in Florida, 21 points in Arizona and 29 points in Ohio — say their vote in November will be a message to check and balance Trump rather than to pass his agenda.




Carrie Dann

Some SCOTUS numbers to keep in mind

With news of Justice Anthony Kennedy's departure from the Supreme Court, here are a few data points to keep in mind about politics and court appointments. 

Per 2016 exit polls: In 2016, 21% of voters said that appointments to the Supreme Court were the NUMBER ONE factor motivating their presidential vote.  They broke for Trump 56 percent to Clinton’s 41 percent.

And via Pew: Republican views of the Supreme Court have jumped since Trump’s election and since his appointment of Neil Gorsuch to join the court. In March 2018, 71 percent of Republicans reported a positive view of the court, compared with 51 percent in August 2016 and just 33 percent in 2015 after the court’s rulings on gay marriage and Obamacare.

Carrie Dann

How voters in three key swing states view the Mueller probe

President Donald Trump has frequently dismissed the investigation into Trump’s campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election as a “witch hunt,” but polls of three battleground states show that most voters aren’t buying that characterization.

New NBC News/Marist polls of Arizona, Florida and Ohio find that more voters in those states believe special counsel Robert Mueller is running a “fair investigation,” with fewer than four-in-ten agreeing with the president’s language.

In Arizona, 36 percent call the probe a “witch hunt,” while 40 percent of Florida voters and 34 percent of Ohio voters agree.

That’s compared with 52 percent of voters in Arizona, 46 percent in Florida and 50 percent in Ohio who believe the investigation is fair and above board. 

Unsurprisingly, it's primarily Republicans in each state who agree with the president's view of Mueller's work. About two-thirds of Republicans in Arizona (67 percent), Florida (71 percent) and Ohio (67 percent) call the probe a "witch hunt," compared to only seven percent of Arizona Democrats, 14 percent of Florida Dems and eight percent of Ohio Democrats who agree. 

More independents call the probe fair in each state than use the "witch hunt" terminology, too. 

In Arizona, it's 52 percent of independents who see the probe as fair, versus 35 percent who take the president's point of view. In Florida, it's 35 percent to 44 percent and among Ohio independents, it's 29 percent to 51 percent. 

Carrie Dann

Poll: High Dem enthusiasm gives Mikie Sherrill an edge in NJ-11

A new poll from Monmouth University shows Democrat Mikie Sherrill running competitively against Republican Jay Webber in New Jersey's 11th district, with a Democratic enthusiasm gap that could push her ahead. 

The survey shows Sherrill with 40 percent compared with Webber's 38 percent among all potential voters. But under a voter turnout model that anticipates a Democratic surge, she leads 45 percent to 39 percent. 

Sherrill, a former pilot in the Navy, was one of Democrats' top recruits for this affluent and highly educated district, which is currently represented by retiring Republican Rep. Rodney Freylinghuysen. Donald Trump only barely won the district in 2016, raising Democratic hopes to turn the area blue. 

The poll shows that Democrats are indeed energized, with 67 percent of self-identified Democrats saying they have a lot of interest in the election, while just 48 percent of Republicans say the same. 

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from June 22 to 25 and has a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percentage points.