In a sign national Democrats no longer believe Alison Lundergan Grimes can defeat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is going off the air.
“The DSCC has now spent more than $2 million in Kentucky and continues to make targeted investments in the ground game while monitoring the race for future investments, but is currently not on the air in the state,” CQ Roll Call quoted a DSCC official as saying.
Grimes has kept the race competitive by selling herself to voters as an energetic independent, but she has trailed in most public surveys against McConnell, who leads by an average of 3 points, according to RealClearPolitics.
Grimes has endured a string of bad press recently after refusing to tell an editorial board whether or not she voted for President Obama despite serving as a delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention. But she also turned in a solid performance on Monday against McConnell in their only matchup of the general election.
A Democratic strategist in Kentucky who has worked on the race told msnbc the DSCC’s decision was shocking, pointing to a recent internal poll showing Grimes leading the race by 2 points, in line with a public poll this month by SurveyUSA. The internal survey was conducted by Mark Mellman, a Democratic pollster best known for accurately forecasting Harry Reid’s comfortable win over Sharron Angle in 2010 despite polls showing her with a lead in the final stretch.
“There’s nothing on the ground that would validate this foolish decision,” the strategist said.
With three weeks left and control of the Senate in jeopardy, however, Democrats need to pick their spots. The DSCC recently has taken out ad buys in Georgia and South Dakota, two red states where Democrats are also competitive but still trailing in most polls, signaling that they may see better opportunities to expand the map elsewhere.
In Georgia, Democrats believe there’s an opening to drag down Republican nominee David Perdue after an old court deposition surfaced in which he discussed his work on outsourcing in detail. In South Dakota, Republican nominee Mike Rounds has been hurt by a scandal from his time as governor over immigration visas and is fending off challenges from Democrat Rick Weiland, independent Larry Pressler, and a potential spoiler in social conservative Gordon Howie.