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October 30, 2014


Most Americans See Country Off Track

A new USA Today poll finds that two-thirds of Americans say the nation "faces more challenging problems than usual; one in four call them the biggest problems of their lifetimes. And many lack confidence in the government to address them."

"By significant margins, those surveyed prefer congressional Republicans when it comes to dealing with the economy and ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria. By double-digits, they say congressional Democrats would do a better job in handling income inequality and social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage... But the bottom line seems to be that the downbeat mood of the electorate is favoring the GOP, whose backers are more enthusiastic about voting and animated by their opposition to Obama."




Biden's Free Family Vacation

Vice President Joe Biden, his wife and 11 other family members spent four nights on vacation this August at a lakeside log cabin overlooking the snowcapped peaks of Mount Moran in Grand Teton National Park, Time reports.

"The four-bedroom Brinkerhoff Lodge, where they stayed, is owned and operated by the National Park Service... While visiting the park, Biden held no events, kept no public schedule, and his staff initially declined to answer a reporter's question about where he spent the night. Last week, after Time uncovered documents confirming his stay at the lodge, Biden's office said the Vice President planned to personally reimburse the park $1,200 for 'renting the Brinkerhoff' for his family's vacation."





All Tied Up in Colorado

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Colorado finds Sen. Mark Udall (D) and Cory Gardner (R) tied in their U.S. Senate race, 48% to 48%.

In the race for governor, Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) and challenger Bob Beauprez (R) are also tied, 47% to 47%.




Ryan Won't Decide on White House Bid Until Next Year

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) tells the Washington Post he's in no hurry to make a decision on running for president in 2016.

Said Ryan: "I've got all the time in the world. I don't have some calendar with a red circle. I don't feel the pressure to do it any other way. I have my own timeline and I don't let stuff that's happening around me get to my head. That's dangerous."

He added: "I'm not dying to be this or that. I'm more of a cause guy. So I come at this thing from that perspective. I don't have this insatiable political ambition. But I know how to flip the switch. If you flip the switch, you flip the switch. I know how to do it and what I need to do if I choose to flip it. Right now, the switch has tape over it until 2015."





What If No One Challenges Hillary?

Peter Hamby: "Democrats of all stripes, including Clinton allies, have predicted for months that the former Secretary of State -- who was campaigning for midterm candidates in Iowa on Wednesday -- will face some kind challenge in the race for the Democratic nomination if she decides to run. The prospect of a Clinton campaign seems more likely with each passing day."

"But with the presidential race set to lurch into gear after next week's midterm elections and no clear alternative to Clinton emerging, there are questions about whether she will be the sole candidate on the ballot."




Dead Heat in New Hampshire

A new American Research Group poll in New Hampshire finds Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) and Scott Brown (R) are tied at 49% each in the U.S. Senate race.




Bonus Quote of the Day

"The Republican Party brand sucks and so people don't want to be a Republican."

-- Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), quoted by CNN.




Arizona Democrats Promote Libertarian Candidate

Arizona Republic: "Democrats are mailing campaign fliers featuring a Libertarian candidate to conservative voters in a competitive Phoenix congressional race. The effort could help U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) stay in office."




Political Reporters Not a Factor Anymore

Joe Klein: "It may be too much to ask that we journalists stop trying to do what we do worst -- predicting the outcomes of races -- and start doing what we should do best: hounding the candidates into specific answers on difficult questions. My sense this year has been that most politicians now assume that the vexing need to deal with journalists is pretty much over, unless they commit a mouth misdemeanor or something unseemly emerges about their past."




Ad Spending Tops $1 Billion

Wesleyan Media Project: "Spending on television ads in federal and gubernatorial races in the 2013-14 election cycle has now topped $1 billion, with an estimated $1.19 billion spent from January 1, 2013 to October 23, 2014. That spending paid for over 2.2 million ad airings."




Cotton Opens Up Huge Lead in Arkansas

A new University of Arkansas poll finds Tom Cotton (R) leading Sen. Mark Pryor (D) in the U.S. Senate race by a wide margin, 49% to 36%.




Newspaper Endorses Indicted Congressman

Staten Island Advance: "On one side is the sometimes hot-headed Republican incumbent who is facing a 20-count federal indictment. On the other is a career Brooklyn Democratic pol, who, term-limited out of his high-ranking post in the City Council, thought about other city offices before he settled on the idea of the job representing in Congress a borough he knows little about, his claims of deep ties here notwithstanding."

"That's the choice voters have. And that's the choice we have in making an endorsement in a race that could not be much uglier."

"That choice for us is Michael Grimm. Surprisingly, if a choice is to be made, Mr. Grimm should be that choice, even under these circumstances."




Will Joe Biden Run in 2016?

Politico: "Most of the time, it's not so hard to tell what Biden's thinking -- he's just said it. But even his inner circle doesn't seem to know where his head is on 2016 -- whether he is actually going to get in the game or stay on the sidelines, dreaming of his glory days."

"Throughout the midterms, he has been helping out candidates all over the country. It's not clear to anyone, though, that there's been the kind of strategy to help himself he'd need if he were serious about a White House run."




Bad Sign for Democrats

Wonk Wire: Narrow edge in partisanship Is bad election sign for Democrats




Udall Trailing in Colorado

A new Quinnipiac poll in Colorado finds Cory Gardner (R) leading Sen. Mark Udall (D) by seven points in the U.S. Senate race, 46% to 39%.




Lots of Suspense Heading Into Election Day

New York Times: "Washington's bad habit these days is nail-biting as the two parties nervously execute their midterm endgames and try to navigate the path to power. But political players and election watchers might want to take a moment to savor the uncertainty."

"Five days before the 2014 election and after $4 billion in spending, we still don't know for certain what's going to happen next Tuesday - or beyond... At least six states in the struggle for control of the Senate - Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, North Carolina and New Hampshire - remain truly up for grabs with runoffs likely in Georgia and Louisiana. Nearly a dozen governor's races are within the polling margin of error."




Graham Says He'll Help White Men as President

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who is toying with the idea of a presidential bid, joked in a private gathering this month that "white men who are in male-only clubs are going to do great in my presidency," according to an audio recording of his comments provided to CNN.

Graham also cracked wise about Baptists, saying "they're the ones who drink and don't admit it."




Polls May Be Undercounting Democrats

Nate Cohn: "Polls show that the Republicans have an advantage in the fight for control of the Senate. They lead in enough states to win control, and they have additional opportunities in North Carolina and New Hampshire to make up for potential upsets. As Election Day nears, Democratic hopes increasingly hinge on the possibility that the polls will simply prove wrong."

"But that possibility is not far-fetched. The polls have generally underestimated Democrats in recent years, and there are reasons to think it could happen again."




Hagan Keeps Small Lead in North Carolina

A new Elon University Poll finds Sen. Kay Hagan (D) with an edge over challenger Thom Tillis (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 45% to 41%.




Peters Headed for Big Win in Michigan

A new EPIC-MRA poll in Michigan finds Gary Peters (D) opening a wide lead over Terri Lynn Land (R), 50% to 35%.

"It is Peters' best margin in any EPIC-MRA poll to date and, significantly, it shows him not only with a 20-point lead among women voters but a 10-point lead among men, who had been trending toward Land in earlier polls."




Crist Moves Ahead in Florida

A new Quinnipiac University poll in Florida finds Charlie Crist (D) inching in front of his Gov. Rick Scott (R) in the gubernatorial race, 43% to 40%.




Quote of the Day

"It's not so much about what could be passed but setting the agenda and debate for the next presidential race."

-- Rep. Steve King (R-IA), quoted by the Daily Beast, on the advantage of the GOP taking control of the U.S. Senate.




Bet on a GOP Majority

Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball: "While many races remain close, it's just getting harder and harder to envision a plausible path for the Democrats to retain control of the Senate. Ultimately, with just a few days to go before the election, the safe bet would be on Republicans eventually taking control of the upper chamber."

"We say eventually because there's a decent chance we won't know who wins the Senate on Election Night. Louisiana is guaranteed to go to a runoff, and Georgia seems likelier than not to do the same."




Democratic Ads in South Focus on Race

"In the final days before the election, Democrats in the closest Senate races across the South are turning to racially charged messages -- invoking Trayvon Martin's death, the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and Jim Crow-era segregation -- to jolt African-Americans into voting and stop a Republican takeover in Washington," the New York Times reports.

"The images and words they are using are striking for how overtly they play on fears of intimidation and repression. And their source is surprising. The effort is being led by national Democrats and their state party organizations -- not, in most instances, by the shadowy and often untraceable political action committees that typically employ such provocative messages."




Governor's Race Still Close in Michigan

A new EPIC-MRA poll in Michigan finds Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has only a two-point lead over challenger Mark Schauer (D), 45% to 43%.

With undecideds put into the mix, the race is a 46% to 46% tie.




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