Archive: October 24, 2014

McConnell Loans $1.8 Million to His Campaign

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) "plans to counter the influx of Democratic spending aimed at defeating him by writing a big personal check," Politico reports.

"The Republican leader is loaning his campaign $1.8 million out of his own bank account, exceeding a $1.5 million investment by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Senate Majority PAC to bolster the prospects of Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes."

Begich Holds Double-Digit Lead in Alaska

A new Hellenthal Associates (R) poll in Alaska finds Sen. Mark Begich (D) leading challenger Dan Sullivan (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 49% to 39%.

Perdue Signs a Woman's Body

Georgia U.S. Senate candidate David Perdue (R) was caught on video signing a young woman's torso as staffers tried to block the cameras.

Perdue joked: "No pictures on this."

Political Futures Market Sees a GOP Senate

The New York Times reports that over at Betfair, "traders are giving the Republicans an 86% chance of winning the Senate, up from 69% two weeks ago. This market is tied to whether the Republicans will win at least a 51-seat majority, and so to the extent that the Kansas independent Greg Orman might end up voting to give them a majority, it probably understates the odds by a point or two."

New Poll Shows Perdue Ahead in Georgia

A new Atlanta Journal Constitution poll in Georgia finds David Perdue (R) with a two-point edge over Michelle Nunn (D), 44% to 42%.

Most recent polls -- including one from CNN this morning -- have given Nunn a small lead.

In the race for governor, Gov. Nathan Deal (R) leads challenger Jason Carter (D), 46% to 41%.

Ballot Dispute in Georgia Heads to Court

"With an increasingly competitive and closely-watched Senate race on the line, an Atlanta courtroom will be the focus of a key voting rights dispute Friday that could make it harder for Democrats to pick up an open U.S. Senate seat on Election Day," the Washington Post reports.

"At issue is the fate of approximately 40,000 registration applications submitted with the help of a new voter registration group led by the state's Democratic House minority leader. She's joined in her legal battle by the NAACP and other civil rights groups, who are challenging the Republican secretary of state over whether his office has adequately processed ballot applications."

Dead Heat in Maine

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Maine finds Gov. Paul LePage (R) and Mike Michaud (D) locked in a tight battle for governor, 40% to 40%, with Eliot Cutler (I) trailing at 17%.

Ebola Isn't Helping Democrats

First Read: "With now another American testing positive for Ebola -- this time an American doctor in New York who had been treating Ebola patients in Guinea -- it's worth asking: What is the real impact of the political conversation turning, once again, to Ebola? And here's our answer: It gives Republican candidates another opportunity to nationalize their races. Democrats, as we've said before, want to localize their races and paint the portrait that their opponents are too radical... But every day that the conversation is a big national issue -- whether it's Ebola, ISIS, or something else -- Democrats lose an opportunity to make their closing argument."

Charlie Cook says "the concern surrounding Ebola is part of a continuum of problems for the administration--among which have been the Internal Revenue Service investigation of conservative groups, Benghazi, problems at the Veterans Affairs Department, and the problematic launch--rather than a new and distinct issue."

Wonk Wire: Who's to blame for the Ebola hysteria?

Shaheen Up Slightly in New Hampshire

A new UMass-Lowell poll in New Hampshire finds Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) with a narrow lead over Scott Brown (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 49% to 46%.

Senate Control May Hinge on Iowa

"According to FiveThirtyEight's latest Senate forecast, Republicans have at least a 78 percent chance of picking off seven seats. In declining order of likelihood: Montana, West Virginia, South Dakota, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alaska and Colorado. If the GOP loses Georgia and Kansas, they're down to five."

"That's why Iowa is key. If Republicans win it, then they can afford to lose Georgia and Kansas and win the majority without pulling off an unexpected victory in New Hampshire or North Carolina."

Turnout Could Be Much Higher Than Expected in Colorado

New polling data suggests turnout in Colorado's upcoming U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races "could be significantly higher than in past midterms -- approaching the size and composition of a presidential-year electorate," NBC News reports.

Nunn Leads in Georgia

A new CNN/ORC poll in Georgia finds Michelle Nunn (D) has a slight lead over David Perdue (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 47% to 44%.

In a hypothetical runoff if neither reaches 50% on Election Day, Nunn still holds a small margin over Perdue, 51% to 47%.

Caveat: "But the poll's likely voter model can only estimate the November electorate, as a runoff election can draw a smaller and different crowd than the general election."

Are Democrats Losing Their Edge Among Women?

"In a warning flag for Democrats, recent polls suggest the party is failing to draw enough support from women in three key Senate races--in Iowa, Arkansas and Colorado--to offset the strong backing that men are giving to Republicans," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"While the situation remains fluid, an erosion in the Democrats' traditionally large advantage among women would be perilous for the party, especially in an election year in which men, who favor Republicans overall, are showing a greater enthusiasm for voting."

The Fix: "So, what do we make of this? For Democrats, a clear advantage among women in both presidential and midterm elections has just been a fact of life -- and a requirement for winning."

Bonus Quote of the Day

"I'm like the biblical David, and I have at least two Goliaths coming after me. I am armed with a slingshot of idealism."

-- Larry Pressler (I), quoted by the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, as an independent U.S. Senate candidate in last night's debate.

Palin Endorses a Democrat

Former Gov. Sarah Palin (R) is endorsing independent Bill Walker and Democrat Byron Mallott for governor and lieutenant governor of Alaska, The Hill reports.

The endorsement is a snub to the incumbent Gov. Sean Parnell (R), "who served as Palin's lieutenant governor and took over as governor in 2009, after Palin stepped down. But the two have long been at odds over the state's oil tax laws."

Parnell Can't Get TV Air Time

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell (R) "is locked in a late-breaking, competitive challenge to retain the governor's mansion--but you wouldn't know it from the airwaves in Anchorage or Fairbanks, where he barely has a presence," National Journal reports.

"That's because the Senate race between Sen. Mark Begich (D) and challenger Dan Sullivan (R) has eclipsed everything else in Alaska. More than 50,000 Senate ads had aired there by mid-October, compared with a paltry 170 spots for Parnell for the entire cycle. For Parnell and his allies, like the Republican Governors Association, there's almost no ad inventory left to buy (or it comes only at exorbitant rates)."

Archive: October 23, 2014

Baker Surges Into Lead in Massachusetts

A new Boston Globe poll in Massachusetts finds Charlie Baker (R) has opened up a 9-point lead over Martha Coakley (D) in the race for governor, 45% to 36%.

Key finding: "The poll reflects an October surge in independent voters toward Baker's column. It was independents who provided Governor Deval Patrick with his margins of victory in 2006 and 2010."

Another Poll Shows Close Race in New Hampshire

A new American Research Group poll in New Hampshire finds Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) barely ahead of Scott Brown (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 49% to 48%.

Most Expensive Midterm Election Ever

Wall Street Journal: "Nearly $4 billion will have been spent on this year's midterm election, including $2.7 billion spent by candidates and parties and almost $900 million spent by outside groups... That's a stunning figure, making this election by far the most expensive midterm in history--outpacing 2010 by almost $400 million and 2006 by nearly $1.2 billion. It would also outrank the amount of money spent on congressional races in 2012, by about $330 million."

"What's even more startling is that the $4 billion figure--which also includes $315 million spent on operating costs by PACs--doesn't include the full picture of outside spending in this year's races."

All Tied Up in Michigan

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Michigan finds the race for governor is a dead heat with Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and challenger Mark Shauer (D) tied, 48% to 48%.

Anti-Incumbent Mood is Bipartisan

Pew Research: "Voter frustration with members of Congress is currently even higher than it was 2010 or 2006. Fully 68% of registered voters say they do not want to see most members of Congress reelected - 14 points higher than in 2010 and 19 points higher than in 2006. And roughly a third (35%) say they do not want their own representative reelected, compared with 32% four years ago and 26% eight years ago."

"Yet unlike in those elections, when a single party controlled both the House and Senate, anti-incumbent sentiment now crosses party lines. Republican and Democratic voters are about equally likely to oppose the reelection of most representatives and their own member of Congress."

Tillis Inches Ahead in North Carolina

A new Civitas Poll in North Carolina shows Thom Tillis (R) leading Sen. Kay Hagan (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 42% to 41%.

Hagan led in the previous poll by five points.

Nunn Holds Small Lead in Georgia

A new InsiderAdvantage poll in Georgia finds Michelle Nunn (D) leading David Perdue (R) in the U.S. Senate race by two points, 47% to 45%.

The race for governor is tied with Gov. Nathan Deal (R) and Jason Carter (D) both at 44%.

Orman Still Ahead in Kansas

A new Rasmussen survey in Kansas finds Greg Orman (I) still holds a five-point lead over Sen. Pat Roberts (R) in the unexpectedly competitive U.S. Senate race, 49% to 44%.

Burke Has Edge in Wisconsin

A new Rasmussen Reports survey in Wisconsin finds Mary Burke (D) now leading Gov. Scott Walker (R) in the race for governor by one point, 49% to 48%.

Race for Colorado Governor a Toss Up

A new Quinnipiac poll in Colorado finds Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) now leads Bob Beauprez (R) in the race for governor, 45% to 44%.

Hickenlooper trailed by 10 points in a similar poll last month.

Abbott Headed for Landslide in Texas

A new University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll finds Greg Abbott (R) has a 16-point lead over Wendy Davis (D) in the closing days of the race for Texas governor, 54% to 38%.

Said pollster Jim Henson: "The drama of the outcome is not who wins, but what the margin will be. Wendy Davis has not led in a single poll in this race."

Young Says Big Government Causes Suicide

After remarks deemed insensitive to a high school where a student had killed himself, Rep. Don Young (R-AK) doubled-down saying that suicide comes from federal government largesse "saying you are not worth anything but you are going to get something for nothing," the Alaska Dispatch News reports.

He added: "When people had to work and had to provide and had to keep warm by putting participation in cutting wood and catching the fish and killing the animals, we didn't have the suicide problem."

Rauner Jumps Into Lead for Illinois Governor

A new Chicago Tribune poll in Illinois finds Bruce Rauner (R) has surged ahead of Gov. Pat Quinn (D) in the race for governor, 45% to 43%.

"The findings represent a sharp turnaround from a similar survey conducted Sept. 3-12 that found Quinn with an 11 percentage point advantage over Rauner. The governor's race has tightened as voters become more focused on the campaign and both sides bombard the airwaves with tens of millions of dollars' worth of negative attack ads on television, radio and newspaper websites."

New Hampshire Senate Race is Tight

A new CNN/ORC poll in New Hampshire shows Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) barely ahead of Scott Brown (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 49% to 47%.

GOP Still Favored to Win Senate

Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball: "The blunt math: Our present ratings leave Republicans with 49 seats and Democrats with 47 seats, with four Toss-ups: Georgia and Louisiana, which both might be heading to overtime, and Colorado and Kansas, where incumbents Udall and Roberts are in deep trouble -- especially Udall -- but retain a path to victory. To claim a majority, Republicans need to win half of the Toss-up states. Democrats need to win three of them to achieve a Biden Majority (a 50-50 draw with Vice President Joe Biden's tie-breaking vote giving Democrats the edge). Given the playing field, this arithmetic certainly advantages the GOP, but there is at least some chance that Democrats might pull off the unexpected."

Ernst Leads in Iowa

A new Quinnipiac poll in Iowa finds Joni Ernst (R) just ahead of Bruce Braley (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 48% to 46%.

Said pollster Peter Brown: "Throughout the campaign, Sen. Ernst has had an edge on likability. If she makes it across the finish line first that may be the key. Her campaign theme that she is the 'farm girl next door' who made good has taken her from unknown state legislator to a serious shot at the United States Senate."

Kitzhaber Plummets in Oregon

In the wake of a scandal involving Oregon's First Lady Cylvia Hayes, a new SurveyUSA poll in Oregon finds Dennis Richardson (R) now leading Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) in the race for governor by 55% to 39% among those following the story.

Richardson was stunned, telling KXL, "It was just amazing to see that kind of a flip."

The Oregonian has a big caveat: "The methodology notes a weakness. The poll's essential question was asked of the 407 respondents who said they're following the Hayes story -- and those may or may not be likely voters."

Archive: October 22, 2014

Brown Just Ahead in Tight New Hampshire Race

A new New England College poll in New Hampshire finds Scott Brown (R) is slightly in front of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 48% to 47%.

Still Very Close in Wisconsin

A new Wisconsin Public Radio/St. Norbert College poll in Wisconsin finds Gov. Scott Walker (R) has a slight edge over challenger Mary Burke (D), 47% to 46%.

Democrats Get Back Into Kentucky

The DSCC is jumping back into the Kentucky Senate race after stopping its TV ad buy last week, The Hill reports.

A DSCC official confirmed the committee plans to spend another $650,000 on TV to bolster Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) against Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) and the Senate Majority PAC is also poised to go back on the air with a high six-figures TV buy.

"Though McConnell still likely has an edge, Democrats say the race has tightened over the past few days."

Udall Slips Behind in Colorado

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

Said pollster David Paleologos: "As President Obama goes, Mark Udall goes. Obama's unpopularity is significantly affecting Udall's chances for reelection in November, as his opponent has consistently tied him to President Obama. By the looks of both President Obama's and Mark Udall's unfavorability ratings, that message is beginning to stick with Colorado voters."

Crist Has Edge in Tight Florida Race

A new St. Leo University poll in Florida finds Charlie Crist (D) leading Gov. Rick Scott in the race for governor by three points, 43% to 40%.

LePage Can't Think of Anything Nice to Say About Rivals

When Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) was asked to say "a few good things" about his two challengers -- Mike Michaud (D) and Eliot Cutler (I) -- in last night's gubernatorial debate, he was left nearly speechless.

Said LePage: "My opponents? I don't know, I don't follow them."

Iowa Race Remains Tight

A new Monmouth poll in Iowa finds Joni Ernst (R) with a one point lead over Bruce Braley (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 47% to 46%.

Key finding: "Early voters support Braley by a 54% to 41% margin over Ernst. However, Ernst has a 50% to 42% advantage among the two-thirds of the electorate who have yet to vote."

Rounds Knew of Conflict But Did Nothing

"U.S. Senate candidate Mike Rounds (R) as governor knew his Cabinet secretary, Richard Benda, was going to work for an investor in the Northern Beef Packers plant about the time he approved Benda's proposal to give the plant more state aid -- or found out immediately afterwards but was not alarmed," the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports.

A Brutal Attack Ad in Michigan

In Michigan's 11th congressional district, Bobby McKenzie (D) has put out one of the toughest attack ads of the cycle in his uphill race against David Trott (R).

The Fix: "Trott is an attorney who specializes in foreclosures. The premise of the ad is the 2011 eviction of 101-year-old Texana Hollis from her Detroit home after missed payments by her son."

Baker Edges Ahead of Coakley in Massachusetts

For the first time in the WBUR weekly tracking poll, Charlie Baker (R) is leading Martha Coakley (D) in the race to become the next governor of Massachusetts, 43% to 42%.

Said pollster Steve Koczela: "It's one of several polls which over the last week or so have shown a movement toward Baker. Coakley has essentially been treading water while Baker's been climbing."

Not Clear When Senate Control Will Be Decided

Harry Enten estimates that there is a 53% chance we'll be able to project which party controls the U.S. Senate near the November 4 election and a 47% chance the midterms go to overtime.

FBI Agent Campaigns for Pressler

In South Dakota, former FBI agent John Good is joining Larry Pressler (I) on the campaign trail "to highlight the former senator's honesty during the Abscam inquiry in the late 1970s and early 1980s," the Wall Street Journal reports.

Good endorsed Pressler last week, "saying he was the only lawmaker to turn down an offered bribe during the FBI sting in the late 1970s that snagged other members of Congress for accepting bribes from a fake Arab sheik, the basis of the 2013 movie American Hustle."

Nunn Holds Small Lead in Georgia

A new SurveyUSA poll in Georgia finds Michelle Nunn (D) leading David Perdue (R) in the U.S. Senate race by just two points, 46% to 44%.

Key finding: "Support for Perdue has steadily, yet slightly declined over the past six weeks, while Nunn has gained ground, albeit not consistently."

Young Rattles High School Students

In a high school appearance, Rep. Don Young (R-AK) "didn't temper his notoriously abrasive personality for his young audience," the Alaska Dispatch News reports.

"Numerous witnesses say Young, 81, acted in a disrespectful and sometimes offensive manner to some students, used profanity and started talking about bull sex when confronted with a question about same-sex marriage... More concerning, school officials say, Young made what they called hurtful and insensitive statements about suicide just days after a Wasilla student took his own life."

Still a Dead Heat in Florida

A new Quinnipiac poll in Florida finds Gov. Rick Scott (R) and challenger Charlie Crist (D) tied in the race for governor, 42% to 42%, with Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie at 7%.

Malloy Barely Ahead in Connecticut

A new Quinnipiac poll in Connecticut finds Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) is locked in a repeat of the 2010 down-to-the-wire governor's race as he barely leads challenger Tom Foley (R), 43% to 42%, with Joe Visconti (I) at 9%.

Archive: October 21, 2014

GOP Opens Big Generic Ballot Lead

A new AP-GfK poll finds likely voters favor a Republican controlled-Congress by a wide margin, 47% to 39%.

"That's a shift in the GOP's favor since an AP-GfK poll in late September, when the two parties ran about evenly among likely voters."

Walker's Ambitions on the Line

In his third election in four years, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) "is far more worried than he was in previous contests -- less confident that he can fend off a challenge from Democrat Mary Burke, who is running a competitive race by targeting slow job growth during Walker's tenure. Both his gubernatorial record and his potential 2016 presidential aspirations are on the line," the Washington Post reports.

Cotton Paid Nearly $300K to Group That May Not Exist

Arkansas U.S. Senate candidate Tom Cotton (R) disbursed over $131,000 to Right Solutions Partners in March for "fund-raising consulting" and an additional $161,000 to it in August for the same purpose, the New York Times reports.

"But here's the catch: It's not clear that such an entity actually exists. It has no presence on the Internet, it appears that no other campaign is paying it this year, and it has no office at the Washington address listed on the articles of organization filed with the city last year."

Braley Trails in Iowa Battlegrounds

A senior House Democratic official told National Journal that internal polling in Iowa shows Joni Ernst (R) leading Bruce Braley (D) "in all three of the state's battleground seats, making it challenging for downballot House candidates to put away winnable races--even in Iowa's Democratic-leaning districts."

Gardner Leads in Colorado

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Colorado finds Cory Gardner (R) leading Sen. Mark Udall (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 46% to 43%.

In the race for governor, Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) barely edges challenger Bob Beauprez (R), 45% to 44%.

A new Monmouth poll has Gardner ahead 47% to 46%.

Bonus Quote of the Day

"It's not going to be an easy election, it's a close election. Like I said, much closer than I can even understand why. I don't want to say anything about your Wisconsin voters but, some of them might not be as sharp as a knife."

-- RNC co-chair Sharon Day, quoted by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, while campaigning in Wisconsin.

McConnell Pays for Enthusiam

The Kentucky Republican Party is offering volunteers all-expenses-paid trips to join Sen. Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) campaign bus tour and "contribute to an enthusiastic atmosphere" at his events, The Hill reports.

Haley Headed for a Big Win in South Carolina

A new Charleston Post and Courier poll in South Carolina finds Gov. Nikki Haley (R) headed for a landslide victory over Vincent Shaheen (D), 51% to 31%, with Tom Ervin (I) at 11%.

McConnell Has Slight Edge in Kentucky

A new Western Kentucky University poll in Kentucky finds Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) with a three-point lead over challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes (D), 45% to 42%.

Snyder Holds Small Lead in Michigan

A new Mitchell poll in Michigan finds Gov. Rick Snyder (R) edging challenger Mark Schauer (D) in the race for governor, 48% to 46%.

In the U.S. Senate race, Gary Peters (D) leads Terri Lynn Land (R), 51% to 38%.

Archive: October 20, 2014

Cotton Surges Ahead in Arkansas

A new Talk Business & Politics/Hendrix College poll in Arkansas finds Tom Cotton (R) leading Sen. Mark Pryor (D) by eight points in the U.S. Senate race, 49% to 41%.

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

"We've got a tough map. A lot of the states that are contested this time are states that I didn't win. And so some of the candidates there, you know, it is difficult for them to have me in the state because the Republicans will use that to try to fan Republican turn-out. The bottom line is, though, these are all folks who vote with me."

-- President Obama, quoted by the Weekly Standard.

Runoff Increasingly Likely in Louisiana

A new FOX 8 News-Raycom Media Poll in Louisiana finds Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) leads the U.S. Senate race with Bill Cassidy (R), 36% to 32%, with Rob Maness at 6%.

The race is almost certain to head to a runoff. Cassidy leads a two-way race with Landrieu, 43% to 40%.

McConnell Barely Ahead in Kentucky

A new Bluegrass Poll in Kentucky finds Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) barely leading Alison Lundergan Grimes (D), 44% to 43%, with Libertarian candidate David Paterson at 5%.

GOP Strategist, Now and Then

"Is this a joke? It's obviously a stock image used by our digital firm to reflect that Kansas is the Sunflower State. But given the many serious issues facing our country right now, I doubt voters care about this silly line of attack by Greg Orman and his liberal allies."

-- Roberts campaign manager Corry Bliss, quoted by BuzzFeed today, on reports that Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) used stock images of sunflowers from the Ukraine instead of Kansas on his website.

"Our campaign received several phone calls from both workers at Electric Boat and veterans who served on submarines, both of which were amazed that Congressman Murphy would feature a Norwegian sub in a television ad claiming it was from Groton."

-- McMahon campaign manager Corry Bliss, quoted by the Danbury News Times in 2012, when Chris Murphy (D) was caught using stock footage in advertisements in his Senate campaign.

Roberts Passing Off Images from Ukraine as Kansas

The image Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) uses on every page of his campaign website and on his press releases of a sunset on a sunflower field is not in Kansas at all, BuzzFeed reports.

It's actually a stock photo of a field in Ukraine.

Still Tied in Florida

A new Rasmussen survey in Florida shows the race for governor continues to be a dead heat with Gov. Rick Scott (R) tied with challenger Charlie Crist (D), 47% to 47%.

Hagan Maintains Small Lead in North Carolina

A new Public Policy Polling survey in North Carolina poll finds a steady Senate race, with Sen. Kay Hagan (D) leading challenger Thom Tillis (R) by three points, 46% to 43%.

Key takeaway: "It's still a close race but Hagan's lead- though small- has certainly been persistent and something dramatic may need to happen in the final two weeks to allow Tillis to come out on top."

Path to Holding Senate Narrows for Democrats

Greg Sargent: "If Democrats can hold on in just one of the four following toss-up states in which they are currently trailing -- Colorado, Iowa, Arkansas, or Alaska -- their hopes of holding the Senate remain alive. That is plausible. But a lot has to go their way after that."

"Let's give Republicans West Virgina, Montana, and South Dakota up front, while giving Democrats North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Michigan -- outcomes that are consistent with the polling averages. If Dems can limit Republicans to wins in three of these four (CO, IA, AR, AK), that puts the GOP at 51 seats. That would probably send us into overtime, with Louisiana and Georgia likely to head to run-offs due to election rules."

Deadlocked in Kansas

A new Monmouth University poll in Kansas finds Sen. Pat Roberts (R) locked in a dead heat with challenger Greg Orman (I) in the U.S. Senate race, 46% to 46%.

Quote of the Day

"The president has done a good job of helping refocus this race for us. Thank you, Mr. President."

-- GOP strategist Paul Shumaker, quoted by the Washington Post, on how President Obama's handling of the Ebola crisis has helped North Carolina Senate candidate Thom Tillis (R).

Brown Closes the Gap in New Hampshire

A new Boston Herald/Suffolk University poll in New Hampshire finds Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) just three points ahead of Scott Brown (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 49% to 46%.

"The margin is hardly comforting to Democrats since it shows Shaheen's support has remained stagnant over the last few months. In the last Suffolk-Herald poll in June, Shaheen held the exact same level of support - 49 percent - among likely voters. Brown's support has increased by 7 points since June."

Democrats Running Away from Obama Won't Work

First Read: "Our latest NBC/WSJ/Annenberg poll is the latest survey to show Republicans with an advantage (49%-44% among likely voters) heading into the Nov. 4 midterms. And once again, the GOP holds the enthusiasm edge: 42% of all Republican voters say they're more enthusiastic than usual, versus just 34% for Democrats. And if Republicans run the table in the all the close races - similar to how Democrats ran the table in all of the toss-up contests in 2006 - there is going to be a tremendous amount of second-guessing about the Democratic candidates keeping their distance from Obama."

"We've said it before, and we'll say it again: A party running away from a president never works. One, because the party already owns the president. And two, because that running away alienates many of the voters who elected -- and then re-elected -- him. In other words, if the Democratic Party wants to energize its voters, is treating the head of the party like a pariah the best way to do that? Bottom line: It's just demoralizing, and it creates a negative feedback loop."

Still a Tight Race in Illinois

A new Southern Illinois University Carbondale poll in Illinois finds Bruce Rauner (R) edging Gov. Pat Quinn (D) in the race for governor, 42% to 41%.

Abbott Pulling Away in Texas

A new KHOU-TV/Houston Public Media poll in Texas finds Greg Abbott (R) leading Wendy Davis (D) in the race for governor by 15 points, 47% to 32%.

North Carolina Showdown Could Be Most Expensive Ever

"From the Koch brothers and Art Pope to George Soros and Michael Bloomberg, wealthy donors are making North Carolina's U.S. Senate race one of America's first $100 million contests," the Charlotte Observer reports.

"Outside groups continue to flood the state with ads and accusations, forcing Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican Thom Tillis to keep scrambling for dollars in the campaign's final two weeks. Money spent or committed in the race is poised to top $103 million, according to public records and interviews with donors. Three-quarters of it comes from party and interest groups. More than $22 million is dark money from groups that don't disclose their donors."

Democrats Back Long-Shot Candidates

"Democrats, worried as polls show their chances of retaining control of the Senate dwindling, are plowing money into long-shot races in unexpected states as embattled incumbents elsewhere seem to be slipping behind," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"The party last week put $1 million into the contest for a GOP-held seat in Georgia, attempting to capitalize on polls now shifting in its favor, as it also makes a play against long odds to hold its own seat in South Dakota with another $1 million in spending."

Most Feel U.S. Has Lost Control

A new Politico poll finds "an overwhelming majority of voters in the most competitive 2014 elections say it feels as if events in the United States are "out of control" and expressed mounting alarm about terrorism, anxiety about Ebola and harsh skepticism of both political parties only three weeks before the Nov. 4 midterms."

Key fidings: Two-thirds of likely voters said they feel that the United States has lost control of its major challenges. Only 36 percent said the country is "in a good position to meet its economic and national security" hurdles.

Archive: October 19, 2014

Likely Voters Favor GOP Led Congress

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Annenberg survey finds likely voters favor a Republican-led Congress over a Democratic one, 49% to 44%.

"The survey is yet more evidence that Democratic voters are tuning out the midterms. Democrats carried a 10-point lead among low-interest voters, who the party is trying to reach and motivate with vigorous turnout operations across the country. Republicans carried a 10-point lead in the new survey among voters who said they were highly interested in the election."

Black Voters Key to Democrats Holding Senate

"The confidential memo from a former pollster for President Obama contained a blunt warning for Democrats. Written this month with an eye toward Election Day, it predicted 'crushing Democratic losses across the country' if the party did not do more to get black voters to the polls," the New York Times reports.

Wrote pollster Cornell Belcher: "African-American surge voters came out in force in 2008 and 2012, but they are not well positioned to do so again in 2014. In fact, over half aren't even sure when the midterm elections are taking place."

Archive: October 18, 2014

Investigation Uncovers Candidate's Medals for Valor

"The American political graveyard has more than a few monuments to politicians and public officials who embellished details of their military service, in some cases laying claim to medals for heroism or other military honors they never received," the Boston Globe reports.

"And then, uniquely, there is Seth W. Moulton, the Democratic nominee for Congress in the Sixth Congressional District, a former Marine who saw fierce combat for months and months in Iraq. But Moulton chose not to publicly disclose that he was twice decorated for heroism until pressed by the Globe."

Bonus Quote of the Day

"This is as close as we've gotten to a presidential-style campaign in those states. We're assuming that the 2014 electorate is going to look more like 2012 than 2010."

-- GOP pollster Neil Newhouse, quoted by the New York Times, on the battleground states.

Black Woman Standing Next to Corbett Was Photoshopped

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's (R) re-election campaign "found an African-American woman to stand next to the governor on his website photos," the Philadelphia Daily News reports.

"Not an actual woman. According to Buzzfeed, the black woman who gazes at Corbett was Photoshopped from a stock picture."

Gillespie Gives Up in Virginia

"Ed Gillespie, one of the Republican establishment's most respected advisers and powerful fundraisers, badly trails in the race for campaign cash and has asked television stations to stop running his ads for Senate with just three weeks left before Election Day," CBS News reports.

"Reports filed with the Federal Communications Commission show Gillespie's campaign cancelling or drastically reducing the amount of money it plans to spend on television ads in coming days. At the same time, political operatives who track television advertising said Thursday that Gillespie does not have ads reserved in the final push toward the Nov. 4 elections."

Archive: October 17, 2014

A Great Election for Political Junkies

Nate Cohn: "I have a confession: I think this is a great election. It's way better than 2012. All around, it might be the best general election in a decade."

"There are a dozen competitive and close Senate contests and, for good measure, there are another dozen competitive governors' contests. Better still, these close Senate races add up to something meaningful and important: control of the Senate. These contests might lack the drama of a presidential election -- and there are plenty of signs of voter apathy in this cycle -- but they make up for it with their diversity, collectively addressing some of the most important and analytically compelling questions in electoral politics."

Braley Inches Ahead in Iowa

A new Public Policy Polling survey finds Bruce Braley (D) leading Joni Ernst (R) by one point in the race for U.S. Senate, 48% to 47%.

Republicans Recover in Kansas

"Just weeks ago, Democrats in Kansas were salivating over the possibility that Paul Davis would be the next governor in the state and independent Greg Orman would be a new U.S. senator. Not any longer," the Kansas City Star reports.

"In fact, rather suddenly, Republicans are thinking they are going to have an enjoyable Nov. 4 night of watching election returns. That's because they now have growing reasons to think Gov. Sam Brownback is going to defeat Davis and win re-election. That would be unfortunate, given just how badly Brownback's economic policies have hurt the state. And they are giddy over the reversal in the Senate race, where incumbent Pat Roberts could slip by Orman."

Quote of the Day

"I'm really quite comfortable being here to campaign for women and taking orders. It's like being at home."

-- Bill Clinton, quoted by the Washington Post, while campaigning in New Hampshire.

Harkin Sits on Millions Despite Close Senate Races

"Despite direct appeals from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and other top Democrats," Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) "has refused to transfer money from his $2.4 million campaign account to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee," Politico reports.

"Instead, the retiring Iowa senator has informed party leaders that he plans to use the campaign funds for a charitable contribution to an entity that bears his name: The Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement at Drake University in Des Moines."

GOP Tries to Make a Wave

"Republicans are taking their most aggressive steps yet to parlay a favorable national climate and growing cash advantage into a historic House majority," Politico reports.

"Aiming to stretch the political map, two prominent conservative groups, American Action Network and Congressional Leadership Fund, on Friday will announce a joint $3 million investment in seven House races, including contests in deep blue districts that are just now starting to be seen as realistic targets for Republicans."

Jon Stewart on Fangate

You didn't think Jon Stewart would ignore the recent Florida gubernatorial debate?

Cassidy Would Win Runoff in Louisiana

A Vox Populi Polling survey in Louisiana finds Bill Cassidy (R) leads Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) in a head to head match up, 48% to 44%.

Cotton Leads in Arkansas

A new Rasmussen survey in Arkansas finds Tom Cotton (R) leading Sen. Mark Pryor (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 47% to 44%.

Archive: October 16, 2014

Brown Writes Off 'Stumbling' FitzGerald

In his most frank assessment of Ohio gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald (D), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) calls him a "stumbling" candidate for governor, WBNS-TV reports.

Laxalt Family Endorses Opponent

The family of Adam Laxalt (R), grandson of former Sen. Paul Laxalt (R), endorsed his opponent for Nevada Attorney General in a letter to the Las Vegas Sun.

Gardner Holds Steady Lead in Colorado

A new Quinnipiac poll in Colorado finds Cory Gardner (R) leading Sen. Mark Udall (D) by six points in the U.S. Senate race, 47% to 41%.

Deadlocked in Florida

A new Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/UF Bob Graham Center poll in Florida finds Gov. Rick Scott (R) and Charlie Crist (D) locked in a dead heat for governor, 40% to 40%, with Libertarian nominee Adrian Wyllie at 6%.

Coakley Clings to Small Lead in Massachusetts

A new MassINC survey in Massachusetts shows Martha Coakley (D) just ahead of Charlie Baker (R) in the race for governor, 42% to 39%.

Raimondo Leads in Rhode Island

A new WPRI 12/Providence Journal poll in Rhode Island finds Gina Raimondo (D) has a slim lead over Allan Fung (R) in the race for governor, 42% to 36%, with Robert Healey (I) at 6%.

Backhanded Praise from Roberts

A the end of last night's U.S. Senate debate in Kansas, Sen. Pat Roberts (R) and Greg Orman (I) were asked to say something nice about each other, the Kansas City Star reports.

Orman went first and praised Roberts' service as a Marine: "Every time I've had an opportunity to talk privately with the senator, he's been a gentleman with a great sense of humor."

Roberts wasn't as gracious: "I would say that you are a very well-dressed opponent. I admire your accumulation of wealth. I have a little question about how you got there from here, but that's the American dream."

Could the Minimum Wage be a Decisive Issue for 2014?

New Public Policy Polling surveys in 6 states with highly competitive races either for the Senate or Governor this fall -- Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Wisconsin -- find strong support for increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, and that Republican candidates could face backlash for their opposition to the raise.

Republicans Get Late Surge of Cash

"Republican candidates for the Senate have overcome the sizable fund-raising edge held by their Democratic opponents for most of the 2014 election cycle... outraising or matching Democrats in races that will decide control of the Senate and entering the final weeks of the campaign with ample cash," the New York Times reports.

"Republican candidates and "super PACs" are now splurging on expensive last-minute advertising, at a time when polling shows Republicans increasingly more likely to win control of the Senate. The question is whether the last-minute money, raised in the three months ending Sept. 30, is coming too late."

Democrats Find a Message That Works

National Journal: "Of all the negative campaign messages that Democrats have used this midterm election, the most effective one is a time-tested line of attack: hitting Republican businessmen for being exorbitantly wealthy while outsourcing jobs overseas and laying off employees. It was President Obama's central argument in his reelection campaign against Mitt Romney, and it is being put to devastating use again in a handful of close gubernatorial and congressional races this year."

"More than any of the other well-worn Democratic arguments--Republicans want to restrict access to abortion, they're beholden to the agenda of the Koch brothers, and so on--this argument is successfully persuading undecided voters in close races."

A Tale of Two Elections

Larry Sabato and Kyle Kondik: "As we approach the home stretch, 2014 has turned into a tale of two elections. On the one hand, this is a classic sixth-year itch election where the incumbent president's party is going to suffer losses in both houses of Congress. We're just arguing about exactly how many. Overall, it is indisputable that Republicans will have more critical victories to celebrate than Democrats when all the ballots are counted, and they have a strong and increasing chance to control the next Senate."

"On the other hand, there are unusual and even a few bizarre features on the landscape. Some Democratic incumbent senators have been hanging tough in heavily Republican territory; months ago, many observers thought they'd be quickly swept out to sea in a red tide. The GOP is having a difficult time making inroads in competitive "purple" states and districts, and very little progress at all has been seen in Democratic blue areas."

Archive: October 15, 2014

Dispute Over Fan Upstages Florida Debate

"In the weirdest start of a gubernatorial debate, Florida Gov. Rick Scott initially refused to take the stage Wednesday night because Democrat Charlie Crist insisted on using a fan to keep him cool," the Miami Herald reports.

"The Republican governor finally emerged at least six minutes late as flummoxed moderators struggled on live TV to figure out what to do with a bemused Crist standing solo on stage at Broward College."

Said Crist: "Are we really going to debate about a fan? Or are we going to talk about education and the environment and the future of our state? I mean, really."

Arkansas Court Strikes Down Voter ID Law

"Arkansas' highest court on Wednesday struck down a state law that requires voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot, ruling the requirement unconstitutional just days before early voting begins," the AP reports.

"In a decision that could have major implications in the Nov. 4 election, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that determined the law unconstitutionally added a requirement for voting."

Is Ebola the October Surprise?

The Fix: Add it all up and you are left with this conclusion: Ebola is the October surprise of the 2014 midterms. That is, an unexpected event that has the potential to roil the electorate in all sorts of unpredictable ways."

Ernst Maintains Lead in Iowa

A new USA Today/Suffolk University poll in Iowa finds Joni Ernst (R) leading Bruce Braley (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 47% to 43% among likely voters.

Bonus Quote of the Day

"The first thing I see every morning when my eyes flutter open is 29 -- which is the average loss to a president's party in a second midterm. We never assumed the best, we prepared for the worst."

-- Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, managing midterm election expectations in a NBC News interview.

Deadlocked in Wisconsin

A new Marquette University Law School poll in Wisconsin finds Gov. Scott Walker (R) and challenger Mary Burke (D) in a dead heat for governor, 47% to 47%.

GOP Chances Reach a New High

Josh Katz: "Republican chances of taking control of the Senate have risen to 72%, the highest level yet in the almost six months that The Upshot's forecasting model has been tracking the race. The odds rose from 68% on Monday and from a low of 50% last month."

"The main cause of the latest shift is new polling in Kansas, which suggests the race is now a true tossup rather than a race in which the Republican, Senator Pat Roberts, is a slight underdog."

There's also a useful chart to compare other forecasts.

3 Senate Scenarios

Roll Call: "So much for a predictable midterm cycle. The past month has left multiple possible outcomes for control of the Senate."

Democratic Hopes Begin to Fade

New York Times: "The midterm elections have been maddeningly unpredictable, but now, with three weeks to go, Democrats may be preparing for an electoral apocalypse."

Are the Polls Wrong?

Nate Silver says "we've reached a stage in campaign season when Democrats have begun to complain that the polls are biased against them. There's a long tradition of this sort of 'unskewing.' The trailing party will say that its internal polls tell a different story or that its turnout operation will save it. It will critique each poll's demographic cross-tabs. (Because most polls report breakouts for a dozen or more demographic groups, all with small sample sizes, there's almost always something to argue about.) The party will point toward previous instances when it outperformed its polls. As a last resort, it'll claim that this election will be different somehow."

"Usually this doesn't end well for the unskewers."

Gardner Leads in Colorado

A new CNN/ORC poll in Colorado finds Cory Gardner (R) leading Sen. Mark Udall (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 50% to 46%.

Obama Drags Down Democrats

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds President Obama and his party "are heading into the midterm elections in trouble. The president's 40 percent job approval rating is the lowest of his career - and the Democratic Party's popularity is its weakest in polling back 30 years, with more than half of Americans seeing the party unfavorably for the first time."

"The Republican Party is even more unpopular. But benefitting from their supporters' greater likelihood of voting, GOP candidates nonetheless hold a 50-43 percent lead among likely voters for U.S. House seats in the Nov. 4 election."

Republicans Have Clear Edge Heading Into Midterms

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds Republicans "remain in a favorable position heading into the midterm election, but the outlook is unsettled amid unusually low voter interest, high dissatisfaction with leaders in Washington and a reordering of issues on voters' minds."

Key findings: "Voters' excitement about the campaign hasn't increased as Election Day approaches, defying the trend in recent years. The share of voters who see the country on the wrong track has reached the highest level ever in a midterm-election year."

"Pollsters for both parties who conducted the survey predict Republican gains in the House and Senate, as the poll found that likely voters prefer a GOP-controlled Congress over a Democratic one, 46% to 44%. But they also said the unusually volatile environment, combined with the large number of close races for control of the Senate and governors' offices, raised the potential for unexpected results."

Obama Will Campaign in Seven States

"In the final days of the midterm elections, President Barack Obama is planning a major campaign push in seven governor's races across the country, where Democrats' prospects are looking up, while largely avoiding the party's tougher challenges in the Senate," the AP reports.

Ernst Holds Small Lead in Iowa

A new Quinnipiac poll in Iowa finds Joni Ernst (R) leading Bruce Braley (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 47% to 45%. 

Nunn Grabs Lead in Georgia

A new SurveyUSA poll in Georgia shows Michelle Nunn (D) has overtaken David Perdue (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 48% to 45%.

The race for governor is tied with Jason Carter (D) and Gov. Nathan Deal (R) both locked at 45% to 45%.

Democrats Likely to Lose Ground in House

"After countless dire emails and months of fading bravado, national Democrats in recent days have signaled with their money what they have been loath to acknowledge out loud: They will not win back the House and they will most likely lose additional seats in November," the New York Times reports.

"Since last week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has essentially given up efforts to unseat Republicans in several races, pulling advertising money from a dozen campaigns in Republican-held districts to focus on protecting its embattled incumbents."

Brown Pulls Ahead in New Hampshire

A new New England College poll in New Hampshire finds Scott Brown (R) has moved ahead of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 48% to 47%.

Archive: October 14, 2014

Iowa Senate Candidate Killed in Plane Crash

Doug Butzier, who was running as the Libertarian Party of Iowa's candidate for U.S. Senate, died when the single-engine plane he was piloting crashed near Dubuque Regional Airport, the Des Moines Register reports.

Pressler Shows How Far Right the GOP Has Moved

The New Republic looks at the U.S. Senate campaign of Larry Pressler (I) in South Dakota.

"At first blush, it may seem like Pressler is living up to his independent candidacy. And technically that is true: On some issues, he supports the GOP. On others, he's closer to the Democrats. But this is only the case because the Republican Party has swung so far to the right. With the exception of supporting same-sex marriage and a pathway to citizenship, Pressler's Democratic positions--slightly more revenue in return for significant spending cuts, a moderate increase in the minimum wage, and reforming Obamacare--aren't very Democratic. In fact, Pressler's platform is mostly a mix of centrist and Republican positions. In years past, that would make him a Republican, not an Independent."

Democrats Pull Ads in Kentucky

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has gone dark in Kentucky, where the party is targeting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Roll Call reports.

After a significant investment in support of Alison Lundergan Grimes (D), the DSCC "had not reserved time for the final three weeks of the race and, as of today, is no longer on the air."

The Fix: "The DSCC's decision to pull out of Kentucky, a race in which they had spent months insisting was closer than most public polls showed it, is a recognition that in a year in which the Senate map and the national political climate are tilted against them, the party's best chances to hold the majority now rests in trying to hold onto their endangered incumbents."

The 9 Biggest Candidate Flameouts

Roll Call lists the congressional hopefuls who just didn't live up to their hype.

McConnell Slightly Ahead in Kentucky

A new Gravis Marketing poll in Kentucky finds Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) leading challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) by just three points, 50% to 47%.

Still Tight in Florida

A new CNN poll in Florida finds Charlie Crist (D) and Gov. Rick Scott (R) tied in the race for governor, 44% to 44%.

A new 0ptimus poll finds Crist with a two-point lead, 41% to 39%.

A new McLaughlin poll finds Scott ahead, 43% to 42%.

A new Gravis Marketing poll finds Scott leading, 44% to 42%.

Another Poll Shows Begich Trailing in Alaska

A new Rasmussen Reports survey in Alaska finds Dan Sullivan (R) with a three-point lead over Sen. Mark Begich (D) in their U.S. Senate race, 48% to 45%.

Michaud Leads in New Maine Poll

A new Bangor Daily News poll in Maine finds Mike Michaud (D) leading Gov. Paul LePage (R) in the governor's race by six points, 42% to 36%, with Eliot Cutler (I) at 16%.

Lawmaker Predicts Kuster Will Lose Because She is 'Ugly as Sin'

New Hampshire State Rep. Steve Vaillancourt (R) wrote a long blog post predicting the outcome of the race in the state's 2nd congressional district on one factor: Rep. Ann McLane Kuster's (D-NH) looks, CBS News reports.

Said Vaillancourt: "Let's be honest. Does anyone not believe that Congressman Annie Kuster is as ugly as sin? And I hope I haven't offended sin."

By contrast, he wrote, Kuster's challenger, State Rep. Marilinda Garcia (R), is "one of the most attractive women on the political scene anywhere, not so attractive as to be intimindating [sic], but truly attractive."

Why Alison Lundergan Grimes Got It Wrong

The following is a guest post from Jeff Greenfield.

During last night's Kentucky Senate debate, Alison Lundergan Grimes again refused to say how she voted in the Presidential elections of 2008 and 2012--elevating this to "a matter of principle", meaning the sanctity of the ballot box. When I tweeted that this answer was "breathtakingly stupid" on the merits and politically, I was hit with a blizzard of Tweets. Some were versions of "who cares?" or "you morons in the media always make a big deal of out nothing." Some were versions of 'what about McConnell's answers on Omamacare or the minimum wage?" Some were variations on the invective that makes Twitter the perfect forum for folks who used to write angry letters in crayon, covering the envelope with colorful phrases.

On further review, as they say in the NFL, it's worth trying to explain why Grimes' answer was dead wrong on the merits. And no, it isn't the key issue in the campaign, and it doesn't mean, as Chuck Todd said, that she has "disqualified herself" from the office, and it doesn't mean that McConnell is exempt from explaining, for instance, how you can abolish Obamacare "root and branch" and keep Kentucky's highly successful health care program. (Hint: you can't).

Midterm Odds Continue to Favor Republicans

Charlie Cook: "Since March, I have been saying that Republicans had at least a 50 percent chance of retaking a Senate majority this year, and since July, I have upped that chance to 60 percent. There has been the normal ebb and flow of candidates' fortunes in many individual races since then, but the general direction of this election has remained pretty much the same. While the political environment is bad for Democrats, this is not a wave election. It is simply an election being fought on terrain that is, at the moment, highly favorable to Republicans."

Christie Sinks to New Low in New Jersey

A new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll in New Jersey finds a majority of voters now have an unfavorable impression of Gov. Chris Christie (R).

The survey found just 42% had a favorable impression of him - the lowest ever recorded by the poll.

Roberts Skipped Most Agriculture Committee Meetings

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) attended just one-third of Senate Agriculture Committee meetings during the past 15 years of his political career in Washington, D.C, the Topeka Capital Journal reports.

Bonus Quote of the Day

"My reaction is that if she wants to attack a guy in a wheelchair, that's her prerogative."

-- Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbot (R), quoted by the Washington Post, on the controversial ad released by rival Wendy Davis (D).

GOP Path to Senate Control Gets Clearer

Nate Cohn says that "with three weeks to go, the Senate race might be on the verge of becoming a lot clearer."

"The polls have shown Republicans faring quite well over the last couple of weeks, and they now appear to lead in the polls in enough contests to win 52 seats, with Iowa, Colorado and the six Democratic-held states won by John McCain in the 2008 presidential election and Mitt Romney in 2012."

National Journal: "Three weeks before Election Day, Republicans are on the brink of winning the Senate. But their advantage is so slight that a morale-sapping defeat is still very much possible."

Grimes Refuses Again to Say She Voted for Obama

Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) "again refused to cede ground on her controversial refusal to reveal whether she voted for President Obama," The Hill reports.

"The refusal echoed her controversial interview last week with the Louisville Courier Journal where she also dodged three times whether or not she voted for President Obama."

Jason Zengerle: "Grimes's gaffe does reveal something genuinely disturbing about her--or at least her candidacy. And that's why it's so politically damaging. Grimes's refusal to say who she voted for is emblematic of her entire campaign, which, for the last 15 months, has been waged in a defensive crouch--evading and obfuscating at every turn."

Gardner Has Edge in Colorado

A new Survey USA poll in Colordao finds Cory Gardner (R) with a small lead over Sen. Mark Udall (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 45% to 43%,

Said pollster Jay Leve: "There has been movement to Gardner that is unmistakable and what had been nominal advantage for Udall has been erased."

Archive: October 13, 2014

Shaheen Holds Small Lead in New Hampshire

A new Survey USA poll in New Hampshire finds Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) just ahead of Scott Brown (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 48% to 46%.

Deadlocked in North Carolina

A new Survey USA poll in North Carolina finds Sen. Kay Hagan (D) and Thom Tillis (R) locked in a dead heat, 40% to 40%, with Libertarian Sean Haugh (L) at 7%.

Gardner Has Edge in Colorado

A new Survey USA poll in Colorado finds Cory Gardner (R) leading Sen. Mark Udall (D) in the U.S. Senate race by three points, 46% to 42%.

Orman Maintains Lead in Kansas

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Kansas finds Greg Orman (I) leads Sen. Pat Roberts (R) in the U.S. Senate race by three points, 44% to 41%, with Libertarian Randall Batson at 5%.

In a head to head match up without Batson, Orman has a 46% to 43% advantage.

Still Very Close in Florida

A new St. Pete Polls survey in Florida finds Gov. Rick Scott (R) holds a one-point lead over Charlie Crist (D) in the race for governor, 44% to 43%.

Will LePage Be the First 30/30 Governor?

Smart Politics examined the results of approximately 3,000 gubernatorial elections conducted in post-colonial times and found that no governor has been popularly elected with less than 40 percent of the vote in back-to-back elections in U.S. history. Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) could become the first: elected with 38.1 percent of the vote in 2010 and frequently polling in the high 30s - sometimes with the lead - in 2014.

Republicans Make Big Push in North Carolina

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is planning to reserve more than $6 million in additional North Carolina airtime Monday, Politico reports.

"Seeing overnight tracking numbers that show the race tightening and Republican Thom Tillis in striking distance, NRSC strategists have authorized their independent-expenditure arm to spend an extra $6 million to $6.5 million -- on top of the $3 million or so that was already planned."

New Poll Gives Ernst the Edge in Iowa

A new Rasmussen survey in Iowa finds Joni Ernst (R) leading Bruce Braley (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 48% to 45%.

Rounds Holds Small Lead in South Dakota

A new Harper Polling survey in South Dakota finds Mike Rounds (R) leading a four-way race for U.S. Senate with 37%, followed by Rick Weiland (D) at 33%, Larry Pressler (I) at 23% and Gordon Howie (I) at 5%.

Futures Market Gives GOP Midterm Advantage

The New York Times reports that although Intrade was shut down last year, a similar futures market called Betfair in Britain gives Republicans a 69% chance of winning the U.S. Senate.

"Even though markets are prone to their own failures, they have amassed a better record of accuracy than even the most sophisticated models that are based on fundamentals and polling. The point is that while markets aren't perfect, in practice they're less imperfect than the other election forecasters."

GOP Donors Finally Open Their Checkbooks

"Republican allies are pumping millions of dollars into a final swarm of television ads in the run-up to Election Day, hoping to blunt Democratic attacks and tip the Senate back to GOP control," the Washington Post reports.

"But much of the advertising by outside groups is coming later -- and at a much steeper cost -- than many on the right had hoped, largely because top conservative donors were slow to open their checkbooks. That foot-dragging has forced super PACs and politically active nonprofit groups to pay a huge premium for last-minute ad buys, and it shows the extent to which their top financiers have dictated the timing and strategy of outside groups this year."

Archive: October 12, 2014

Billionaires Back Orman in Kansas

"A small group of free-spending wildcard donors, including investment tycoons Peter Ackerman and John Burbank, are rallying to support Greg Orman's independent Senate campaign in Kansas. Michael Bloomberg and a Jonathan Soros-backed group are also considering entering the campaign on Orman's behalf," Politico reports.

"It's a dramatic twist for a candidate who staunchly opposes big money in politics but has been badly outspent on the airwaves after surging to a surprise lead over Republican Sen. Pat Roberts."

Another Poll Shows Quinn Taking the Lead

A new We Ask America poll in Illinois finds Gov. Pat Quinn (D) leading challenger Bruce Rauner (R) in the race for governor, 45% to 41%.

Carter Hits the Campaign Trail for His Grandson

Former President Jimmy Carter, "hoping to increase the black turnout his grandson will need to win Georgia's governor's race, jumped directly into the political fray Sunday," the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

"The 90-year-old former governor already has helped Jason Carter raise millions of dollars and provided him counsel. But the Georgia native's appearance Sunday morning at an African-American church in Albany marked his official debut on the campaign trail for his grandson's bid to oust Republican Gov. Nathan Deal."

Senator or Sheriff?

Sioux Falls Argus Leader: "The political world outside of South Dakota learned some stunning news last week: Mike Rounds, the guy everybody assumed would be the next senator from South Dakota, actually has been running a campaign more suited for sheriff of Mayberry County than U.S. Senate."

Democrats Much Less Interested in Midterms

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Annenberg survey finds that among all registered voters, 48% say they'd like the midterm elections to produce a Democratic-led Congress, compared to just 43% who want the Republicans to be in control.

"But Republicans have a substantial advantage among those who are most interested in the 2014 election, leading 51% to 44%. Lower-interest voters favor Democrats, 52% to 37%."

Model Says GOP Almost Certain to Take Senate

The Washington Post's Election Lab now gives Republicans a 95% chance of taking control of the U.S. Senate after the midterm elections.

Hogan Within Striking Distance in Maryland

A new Baltimore Sun poll in Maryland finds Anthony Brown (D) with a 7-point lead over Larry Hogan (R) in the race for governor, 49% to 42%.

Key finding: "Though Brown has a 7-point lead, the poll found his backers are less solid in their conviction than Hogan supporters. And many in Brown's camp are younger voters, a bloc that historically is less likely to vote."

Archive: October 11, 2014

Iowa Senate Race Tightens

A new Des Moines Register poll in Iowa finds the U.S. Senate race is now a 1-point contest: Joni Ernst (R) is barely ahead of Bruce Braley (D), 47% to 46%.

Most interesting: "The Democrats' aggressive early voting push is aiding Braley, an eight-year congressman from Waterloo. They're rounding up ballots from Iowans who would not otherwise have voted."

Dead Heat in Georgia

A new Landmark Communications poll in Georgia finds the Senate race between David Perdue (R) and Michelle Nunn (D) is tied at 46% to 46%.

The same is true in the Georgia governor's race, where Gov. Nathan Deal (R) is locked in a tie with Jason Carter (D) at 45% to 45%.

Both races would head to a January runoff if the winner does not break 50%.

GOP Pours Money Into South Dakota

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is in the process of reserving $1 million in South Dakota television time, Politico reports.

"The independent expenditure matches a million-dollar effort announced by its Democratic counterpart earlier in the week to put the state back on the map."

Races Tighten in Michigan

A new Fox Detroit/Mitchell Poll in Michigan finds Gov. Rick Snyder (R) just one point ahead of challenger Mark Schauer (D), 47% to 46%.

In the U.S. Senate race, Gary Peters (D) leads Terri Lynn Land (R) by five points, 48% to 43%.

Michelle Obama Gets Candidate Wrong 7 Times

Michelle Obama repeatedly mispronounced U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Braley's (D) name during her speech in Iowa, the Des Moines Register reports.

She referred to the Iowa congressman as "Bruce Bailey" seven times before people in the crowd pointed out the mistake.

Said Mrs. Obama: "Braley. What did I say? I am losing it. I am getting old. I have been traveling too much."

Turnout Fears Mount for Democrats

"The Democratic Party's worst fears about the midterm election look to be coming true," The Hill reports.

"Polling in recent weeks suggests turnout on Election Day could be very low, even by the standards of recent midterms. That's bad news for Democrats because core groups in the liberal base are more likely to stay home than are people in the demographic segments that lean Republican."

Archive: October 10, 2014

Staffer Says Candidate Masturbated in Front of Him

CNN says new accusations by a former campaign aide could derail the career of "up-and-coming" congressional candidate Carl DeMaio (R).

"DeMaio's former campaign policy director is accusing the candidate of sexual harassment, even saying DeMaio masturbated in front of him. DeMaio vehemently denies the allegations, saying they're the cover story of a plagiarist and suspected criminal."

"This is not the first time DeMaio has been accused of sexually inappropriate behavior. Last year, a fellow city councilman said he twice caught DeMaio masturbating in a city hall restroom -- an allegation DeMaio denied."

Nastiest Ad of the Year?

The Fix: "Wendy Davis is almost certainly not going to be the next governor of Texas. Apparently, though, she's willing to try just about anything to alter that reality."

Her new ad is among the most vicious you'll ever see.

David Perdue's 'Money Grab'

The New York Times digs deeper into the bankruptcy document that has roiled Georgia U.S. Senate candidate David Perdue's (R) campaign in recent days.

"Though most of the attention -- and the attacks from his opponent, Michelle Nunn -- have focused on comments he made about outsourcing, a close reading of the 186-page deposition... paints Mr. Perdue as a hard-charging hired gun who was so aggressive in claiming his compensation perks from his failing textile company that other executives accused him of a 'money grab'... In page after page, Mr. Perdue... expresses more concern with his own financial security than with the tanking business and the 7,600 jobs that were going down with it."

Pressler's Home is in Washington, DC

Larry Pressler (I), who is running for Senate in South Dakota, has his principal residence in Washington, DC, according District of Columbia tax records, Politico reports.

Pressler, who served as a Republican in Congress from 1975 to 1997, and his wife receive the homestead deduction, a generous tax break meant for people who use their D.C. home as their "principle residence."

Democrats Make Gains in Governor's Races

A new set of New York Times/CBS News/YouGov polls finds there are 11 governor's races within five percentage points, and 16 races within 10 percentage points.

"It appears the Democrats have made slight gains over the last month. They now lead in three states held by Republicans: Pennsylvania, Michigan and Maine. An independent candidate, Bill Walker, leads the Republican Sean Parnell in Alaska."

Bonus Quote of the Day

"Listen, I'm the one running for governor."

-- Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf (D), quoted by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, after the crowd erupted with cheers after he mentioned Hillary Clinton.

GOP Tries to Make Election About Fear

First Read: "Less than a month out before November's midterm elections, the Republican Party has had a simple message on the campaign trail and in TV ads: fear."

"And frankly, they come when there's no evidence of ISIS coming across the border and when (remarkably) there's still been just one confirmed case of Ebola in the United States. Now we understand why Republicans are picking up this theme -- they want to nationalize the election, and they have every incentive to. (The more they get voters going into the voting booth upset at Washington, the more likely they are to get Republicans defeating Democratic incumbents in Senate races.) But some of these candidates are walking a fine line; there is a Chicken Little aspect here regarding Ebola and it can border on the irresponsible."

New York Times: "Darkness is enveloping American politics."

Still a Toss Up in Iowa

A new Lukens Company poll in Iowa finds Bruce Braley (D) barely ahead of Joni Ernst (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 39% to 38%.

Grimes Won't Say If She Voted for Obama

Alison Lundergan Grimes (D), who is running against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) this fall, refused to tell the Louisville Courier-Journal if she voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012. It's a painful exchange.

Chuck Todd on Morning Joe: "I think she disqualified herself. I really do."

Challenger Closes On Booker in New Jersey

A new Richard Stockton College poll in New Jersey finds Sen. Cory Booker (D) leads challenger Jeff Bell (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 48% to 39%.

LePage Leads in New Maine Poll

A new Pan Atlantic SMS poll in Maine finds Gov. Paul LePage (R) leads challenger Mike Michaud (D) in the race for governor, 39% to 34%, with Eliot Cutler (I) at 20%.

A new Rasmussen survey shows LePage leading Michaud, 41% to 40%, with Cutler at 16%.

Archive: October 09, 2014

Roberts Says Orman is Lying

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) told David Brody that challenger Greg Orman (I) is lying about how he'll vote in the Senate but says he'll be exposed "when we get through with him."

Said Roberts: "Not when we get through with him. This is a person who by donation and by his stand on the issues is a liberal Democrat."

Meanwhile, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus told KSHB-TV that Orman will not be allowed to caucus with Republicans if he wins: "He's not gonna do that. It is an impossibility. It is not possible."

Both Sides Begin to Panic

CNN: "Four weeks away from the 2014 midterm elections and even some Democratic operatives struggle to imagine a scenario where they retain control of the U.S. Senate. The terrain and current momentum seem all but overwhelming and against them."

Washington Post: "For months, the 2014 midterm election has looked like a deck stacked in favor of Republicans. But as campaign season heads into its final weeks, some wild cards are now on the table in states where the GOP had been expecting easy victories on its way to gaining six seats for control of the Senate."

Pressler Suggests He'll Caucus With Democrats

Larry Pressler (I) told The Hill that he won't say who he'd caucus with if he wins his independent U.S. Senate race in South Dakota but said that if elected, he'd be a "friend of Obama."

He also confirmed voting for Obama twice: "I don't regret those votes, 'cause on that day, that's how I felt."

Giffords Speaks Out for Barber

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), who left Congress after being shot in the head by a gunman at a constituent event, put out a powerful new ad for Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ).

Still Tight in Georgia

A new SurveyUSA poll in Georgia finds David Perdue (R) can't manage to pull away from Michelle Nunn (D) in the race for Senate and leads by just one point, 46% to 45%.

Key finding: "Nunn holds an exceptionally high 87% of the Democratic base. That is the only way she can remain competitive in a contest where, today, independents break nearly 5:3 for her Republican opponent."

In the race for governor, Gov. Nathan Deal (R) leads challenger Jason Carter (D) by just two points, 46% to 44%

Shaheen Still Beating Scott in New Hampshire

A new WMUR Granite State Poll in New Hampshire shows Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (R) leading challenger Scott Brown (R) by six points among likely voters, 47% to 41%.

Begich Trails in Alaska

A new CNN/ORC International poll in Alaska finds Dan Sullivan (R) leading Sen. Mark Begich (D) by six points in the U.S. Senate race, 50% to 44%.

Crist Up in Florida

A new University of North Florida poll finds Charlie Crist (D) with a 5 percentage point lead over Gov. Rick Scott in the race for Florida governor, 47% to 42%.

Landrieu Replaces Campaign Manager

"In what appears to be a significant October campaign shakeup, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) is replacing her campaign manager and bringing on her former chief of staff as a senior adviser," Politico reports.

Conspiracy Theories Abound as Midterms Approach

Joe Klein: "Democrats are swimming against the prevailing cynicism as they attempt to retain the Senate this year. Across the South, their candidates are placing a heavy bet on women's issues, especially equal pay, and education. In some places, like North Carolina, where a traditional emphasis on education spending has been violated by the Republican state legislature, they have a chance to win....The hurdle is Barack Obama, about whom the crazy rumors are--still!--thick, and the ads are constant..."

"There is also an undercurrent of fear--about ISIS and Ebola--that does not help the Democrats. Most of the people I talked with don't think this federal government is competent to handle anything. And there is an undercurrent of exhaustion, especially among Democrats who have talked themselves silly trying to dispel the rumor fog that has engulfed political discourse. These are stories that stick in the mind and rot the body politic. They are a dominant political currency, and not just in the South."

Voter Engagement Much Lower This Year

Gallup: "Turnout in the midterm elections this fall could be lower than in the past two midterm elections, based on current voter engagement. On each of three indicators of voter engagement in midterm elections -- how much thought Americans have given to them, their expressed motivation to vote, and their enthusiasm about voting compared with past elections -- 2014 looks more like lower-turnout years 1998 and 2002 than higher-turnout years 2006 and 2010."

Is Crist the Frontrunner in Florida?

Adam Smith: "For most of the past year, my gut has told me that Rick Scott would likely win a second term and that there was a reasonable likelihood it wouldn't even be close... Now I'm thinking Crist may have become the clear frontrunner."

"I have just seen an internal poll of likely voters in Florida House 36, the west Pasco County district currently represented by Democrat Amanda Murphy and formerly represented by Republican Mike Fasano. District 36, loaded with working class Floridians and retirees may be the single best bellwether state House district in Florida. Barack Obama narrowly won it in 2008 and 2012, and Rick Scott narrowly won it in 2010. The telephone poll was taken Monday and Tuesday by the Democratic firm SEA Polling & Strategic Design (which nailed it on Murphy's special election win in 2013) and found 45 percent planning to vote for Crist, 37 percent for Scott, and 14 percent for Libertarian Adrian Wyllie. In August, the firm showed Scott leading by five points, with 43 percent support to 38 percent for Crist and 10 percent for Wyllie."

DeMaio Denies Harrassment and Bribery Claims

California congressional candidate Carl DeMaio (R) said "a former staffer who is the suspect in a May burglary at his campaign office has accused DeMaio of sexually harassing him," the San Diego Union Tribune reports.

DeMaio called the the claim "an outrageous lie."

Politico: "DeMaio was peppered with questions from reporters about whether he had sexually harassed and then intimidated and attempted to bribe a former campaign staffer."

Archive: October 08, 2014

Fox News Polls Show Races Trending to GOP

Fox News released new polls in five key U.S. Senate battleground states:

Kansas: Sen. Pat Roberts (R) leads Greg Orman (I), 44% to 39%.

Alaska: Dan Sullivan (R) leads Sen. Mark Begich (D), 44% to 40%.

Arkansas: Tom Cotton (R) leads Sen. Mark Pryor (R), 46% to 39%.

Colorado: Cory Gardner (R) leads Sen. Mark Udall (D), 43% to 37%.

Kentucky: Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) leads Alison Lundergan Grimes (D), 45% to 41%.

Harry Enten: "Fox News polls throughout this election cycle have had a fairly strong pro-Republican 'house effect,' a measure of how a pollster's results compare to other polls."

Roberts Rebounds in Kansas

A new CNN/ORC poll in Kansas finds Sen. Pat Roberts (R) has galvanized rank-and-file Republican voters to close the gap with challenger Greg Orman (I) and now leads by one point, 49% to 48%.

Most other recent polls show Orman with a lead.

Democrats Spending Money in South Dakota

"The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will spend $1 million in South Dakota -- mostly on television and the rest on field operations -- in a last-minute attempt to hold a U.S. Senate seat they now view as winnable," Bloomberg reports.

"A DSCC official said advertising will likely be on the air by Monday. As in the Kansas Senate race, Democrats believe they now have a chance to offset inevitable losses elsewhere and maintain control of the Senate."

Hagan Barely Ahead in North Carolina

A new USA Today/Suffolk University poll in North Carolina finds Sen. Kay Hagan (D) just ahead Thom Tillis (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 47% to 45%.

A new Rasmussen poll finds Hagan leads 48% to 46%.

As Colorado Goes, So Goes the Nation?

Joshua Green: "Colorado's Senate race has become a presidential campaign in miniature, with two strong candidates who are both career politicians facing off over mainly national issues, as billionaires on the left (Steyer) and the right (the Koch brothers) saturate the airwaves with tens of millions of dollars' worth of attack ads."

"Politically, Colorado is a slightly ­exaggerated version of America. Because the state makes it so easy to place initiatives on the ballot, it's a testing ground for highly charged national issues."

Perdue Barely Ahead in Georgia

A new SurveyUSA poll in Georgia shows David Perdue (R) leading Michelle Nunn (D) by just one point in the U.S. Senate race, 46% to 45%.

A Midterm Election About Nothing

Wall Street Journal: "The backdrop of this fall's voting is a mood of voter anger over the status quo, polls suggest. Just one month before the Nov. 4 election, it isn't even clear what exactly the midterm contests are about. No single issue dominates, except unhappiness with the established order."

Pressler Surges in South Dakota

A new Survey USA poll in South Dakota finds Mike Rounds (R) barely leading a three-way Senate race with 35%, followed by Larry Pressler (I) at 32% and Rick Weiland (D) at 28%.

Obama Benched by Democrats

New York Times: "When he soared to victory by almost 10 million votes in 2008, President Obama won in states like Virginia that Democratic candidates had not captured since 1964. He was trumpeted as a transformational leader who remade American politics by creating a new electoral map and a diverse voter coalition to shape the Democratic Party for the 21st century."

"But for now he has been reduced to something else: an isolated political figure who is viewed as a liability to Democrats in the very states where voters by the thousands had once stood to cheer him."

Georgia is Bluer Than It Appears

Nate Cohn: "No other plausibly competitive state has seen a more favorable shift for Democrats in the racial composition of eligible voters over the last decade. The pace of demographic change is so fast that Michelle Nunn, a Democrat, is locked in a tight race against the Republican David Perdue for an open Senate seat -- even with an off-year electorate that is favorable for the G.O.P."

"The pace of demographic change might even be fast enough to outpace the polls."

Orman Continues in the Lead in Kansas

A new SurveyUSA poll in Kansas finds Greg Orman (I) leads Pat Roberts (R) in the U.S. Senate race by five points, 47% to 42%.

In the race for governor, Paul Davis (D) tops Gov. Sam Brownback (R) by five points, 47% to 42%.

Dead Heat in Connecticut

A new Quinnipiac poll in Connecticut finds Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) is tied with challenger Tom Foley (R) in the race for governor, 43% to 43%.

Archive: October 07, 2014

Quote of the Day

"Defend it? I'm proud of it. This is a part of American business, part of any business."

-- Georgia U.S. Senate candidate David Perdue (R), quoted by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, when asked about a statement that he "spent most of my career" outsourcing.

4 Reasons We May Not Know On Election Night

It's increasingly likely that we won't know which party controls the U.S. Senate on Election Night:

  1. The Louisiana Senate race may go to a December runoff.
  2. The Georgia Senate race may go to a January runoff.
  3. It may take time to count all the votes in Alaska.
  4. If Greg Orman (I) wins in Kansas, he may wait for the best offer before deciding which party he'll caucus with.

GOP Pulls Plug on Michigan

"Republicans are canceling TV ad spending planned for the final two weeks of Michigan's U.S. Senate race, signaling that the GOP is investing in other races in its drive for the Senate majority," the AP reports.

"Other outside groups, too, are bailing on Michigan, suggesting it's fallen out of reach" for Terri Lynn Land (R) in her race against Gary Peters (D).

Nunn Keeps Race Close in Georgia

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Georgia finds David Perdue (R) just ahead of Michelle Nunn (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 45% to 43%.

Key finding: "Libertarian Amanda Swafford is polling at 5%, which would be enough to send the contest into a January runoff if it remains this close. Swafford's support could reflect residual unhappiness among voters who supported one of Perdue's opponents in the Republican nomination contest- 70% of them voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 compared to only 16% of them who voted for Barack Obama. They say they would support Perdue over Nunn 43/12 if they had to choose between the two, which would push Perdue's overall lead to 48/45."

Crist Holds Small Edge in Florida

A new 0ptimus poll in Florida finds Charlie Crist (D) edging Gov. Rick Scott (R) in the race for governor, 40% to 39%.

A new Public Policy Polling survey shows Crist leading 45% to 43%.

A new SurveyUSA poll shows Crist ahead 44% to 42%.

Pryor Flubs Question on Ebola Crisis

Huffington Post: "A reporter on Monday asked Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) whether President Barack Obama was doing enough to contain the spread of Ebola. It, um, did not go well."

Quinn Leads in Illinois

A new We Ask America poll in Illinois finds Gov. Pat Quinn (D) leading challenger Bruce Rauner (R) by four points in the race for governor, 44% to 40%.

Franken Pulls Away in Minnesota

A new SurveyUSA poll in Minnesota finds Sen. Al Franken (D) has doubled his lead in his race against challenger Mike McFadden (R) and now leads 55% to 37%.

Early Voting Underway

Morning Line: "Increasingly, more and more states are moving toward some form of early voting. In all, 43 states have some form of early voting, and Connecticut, one of the seven states that still does not allow it, has an initiative on the ballot this year to change that. As of today, early in-person voting is already underway in 10 states, including Iowa with its all-important Senate race, which began last week, Sept. 25. Two more states begin voting today -- Ohio and Indiana. Arizona -- with its key House races -- and Georgia -- with its closely watched Senate race -- will begin voting within the next week."

Obama Likely to be a Factor in Midterms

Gallup: "Registered voters are more likely to view their choice of candidate in this year's midterm elections as a message of opposition (32%) rather than support (20%) for President Obama. That 12-percentage-point margin is similar to what Gallup measured for Obama in 2010 and George W. Bush in 2006, years in which their parties performed poorly in the midterm elections."

How Democrats Can Hang On to the Senate

Stu Rothenberg expects Republicans to flip seven Senate seats but he says there's still a chance in the final weeks for Democrats to retain control.

"First, Democrats still may be able to localize elections in a few states -- the most likely prospects are North Carolina and Alaska, which were carried by Romney, and two swing states won by Obama, Iowa and Colorado. Doing so would inoculate the Democratic nominees (three incumbents and one open seat hopeful) from Obama's near-toxic political standing."

"Second, Democrats may be able to register and turn out additional voters, who could change the arithmetic of the elections."

How Losing the Senate Could Help Obama

Wall Street Journal: "A look back shows that eras of evenly divided power--Congress fully controlled by one party, the presidency by the other--have turned out to be among the most productive. And if you are a president yearning for elusive legislative achievements in the final two years of your term, anything that makes Washington more productive would be welcome, even if attaining some of that productivity required trimming your ideological sails."

"When power is evenly split in Washington, both parties have to temper their policies. They can worry less about fully satisfying their ideological bases... When the two parties have an equal share of power, they also have an equal share of responsibility for what does and doesn't get done--and have to worry about taking the blame in the even more important 2016 election if things don't get done. For Mr. Obama, in particular, full GOP control of Congress might well shift Republicans' focus from stopping him to making things happen."

Five Senate Debates Tonight

"It's Super Tuesday for Senate debates, with candidates in Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia set to square off," the New York Times reports.

"These late-in-the-game debates can carry a lot of weight because many voters are just now beginning to pay attention to the midterm elections. A slip-up can be significant."

Wolf Maintains Solid Advantage in Pennsylvania

A new Quinnipiac poll in Pennsylvania finds Tom Wolf (D) way ahead of Gov. Tom Corbett (R) in the race for governor, 55% to 38%.

Snyder Holds Solid Lead in New Michigan Poll

A new Glengariff Group poll in Michigan finds Gov. Rick Snyder (R) leading challenger Mark Schauer (D) by eight points, 45% to 37%.

Warner Headed for Re-Election in Virginia

A new Christopher Newport University poll in Virginia finds Sen. Mark Warner (D) running way ahead of challenger Ed Gillespie (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 51% to 39%.

Archive: October 06, 2014

Brown Holds Solid Lead in Maryland

A new Washington Post/University of Maryland poll finds Anthony Brown (D) holds a nine-point lead over Larry Hogan (R) in the race for Maryland governor, 47% to 38%.

Tight Race for Michigan Governor

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Michigan finds Gov. Rick Snyder (R) barely ahead of challenger Mark Schauer (D), 47% to 46%.

In the U.S. Senate race, Gary Peters (D) leads Terri Lynn Land (R) by seven points, 49% to 42%.

New Poll Suggests Democrats May Hold Senate

A new Democracy Corps (D) poll finds "a consistent move toward the Democrats across a broad range of indicators that suggest the Democrats are more likely to hold control of the U.S. Senate than not."

"This election is still on a knife-edge; the overall vote remains unchanged and many states are within a couple of points. But the underlying dynamics and key metrics have all moved away from the Republicans. Some of these changes are dramatic, though the context remains a battleground that Romney won by 8 points. However, Democrats are poised to hold on."

Some results from key races:

North Carolina: Kay Hagan (D) 45%, Thom Tillis (R) 41%
Iowa: Joni Ernst (R) 45%, Bruce Braley (D) 44%
Colorado: Mark Udall (D) 45%, Cory Gardner (R), 45%
Georgia: David Perdue (R) 46%, Michelle Nunn (D) 41%

Orman Says He Could Switch Back and Forth

Kansas U.S. Senate candidate Greg Orman (I) told NBC News that he could change parties even after he has allied himself with Democrats or Republicans if he wins the election in November.

Orman says he would initially caucus with whichever party has majority control but he said could switch again, especially if the Senate is evenly split.

Said Orman: "If four or five months goes by, and it's clear they're engaged in the same old partisan politics, we'll be able to change our allegiances and work with the other side. And I think that's a really strong and important tool, to hold the Senate accountable for actually getting something done."

Malloy Leads in Connecticut

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Connecticut finds Gov. Dan Malloy (D) with an 8 point lead for reelection over challenger Tom Foley (R), 43% to 35%.

Dead Heat in Iowa

A new Loras College poll in Iowa finds Joni Ernst (R) deadlocked with Bruce Braley (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 42% to 42%.

Grimes Takes Lead Over McConnell in Kentucky

A new Bluegrass Poll in Kentucky finds Alison Lundergran Grimes (D) just ahead of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 46% to 44%.

Key finding: "While that advantage is within the poll's margin of error, it represents a 6-point swing to the Democrat since the last survey in late August."

Voter Suppresion as a Political Strategy

New Republic: "For every unit of energy and resources Democrats devote to reduce the difference between their midterm and general electorates, Republicans are responding--not with turnout-boosting strategies of their own, but by making it harder for the pool of voters who make up that difference to vote, even if they want to. In a way, the story of the 2014 elections can be boiled down to two counterposed strategies, with Democrats on one side trying to mitigate their midterm drop off and Republicans trying to exacerbate it."

How Many Voters Will Decide the U.S. Senate?

Bloomberg Politics: "The number of people who'll decide this election will likely be smaller than the population of Florida."

Quote of the Day

"Yeah, I spent most of my career doing that."

-- Georgia U.S. Senate candidate David Perdue (R), quoted by Politico, when asked about his "experience with outsourcing" in a 2005 deposition.

Democrats Start to Point Fingers

"Democrats are starting to play the blame game as they face the possibility of losing the Senate in November," The Hill reports.

"Tempers are running high a month out from Election Day, with polls showing Democratic candidates trailing in the crucial battleground states that will decide whether the Congress flips to Republican control."

Branstad Buys Illinois TV Time to Win Elusive County

In five statewide elections, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) has never carried Lee County, in the state's southeast corner. Seeking his sixth term next month, Branstad wants that to change that, the AP reports.

"Branstad, having swamped Democrat Jack Hatch in fundraising, has bought television advertising time on WGEM in neighboring Quincy, Illinois, the only local television station that covers all of Lee County, as well as west central Illinois and northeast Missouri. The move is part of the 67-year-old Branstad's personal political goals, which also include scoring big in his opponent's home county and leaving the party stronger, should 2014 be his last campaign."

Southern Democrats Need Black Voters to Win

Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Kay Hagan (D-NC) "are trying to distance themselves from a president who is deeply unpopular among white voters. But if they have any hopes of winning, they also must try to lock down the voters most loyal to Mr. Obama : African-Americans," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"How Southern Democrats walk this tightrope will help determine whether their party maintains control of the Senate. Sens. Landrieu, Hagan and Pryor are among the party's last lines of defense in a region that has become a Republican stronghold."

Archive: October 05, 2014

New Senate Polls Give GOP the Edge

The latest New York Times/CBS News/YouGov polls of key Senate races show that Republicans "lead by at least four percentage points in enough races to finish with 50 seats -- just one short of the 51 seats they need to overcome Joe Biden's tiebreaking vote and take the Senate."

"The Republicans' likely gains include six seats currently held by the Democrats: in South Dakota, Montana, West Virginia, Arkansas, Louisiana and Alaska. If those leads hold up, Republicans have four opportunities to capture the 51st seat they need in Colorado, North Carolina, Iowa and Kansas."

"Nonetheless, the data suggests that the Democrats retain a clear, if difficult, path to victory. Perhaps most notable, the data offers reason to question the conventional wisdom that Republicans have recently made substantial gains in Colorado and Iowa."

Ernst Barely Ahead in Iowa

A new NBC News/Marist Poll in Iowa finds Joni Ernst (R) edging Bruce Braley (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 46% to 44%.

Orman Leads in Kansas

A new NBC News/Marist poll in Kansas finds Greg Orman (I) is leading Sen. Pat Roberts (R) by 10 points in the U.S. Senate race, 48% to 38%.

Hagan Maintains Edge in North Carolina

A new NBC News/Marist Poll in North Carolina finds Sen. Kay Hagan (D) has a slight advantage over challenger Thom Tillis (R), 44% to 40%.

Democrats Rely on Super PACs in Senate Fight

"With the battle for the Senate tilting toward Republicans and President Obama's approval ratings hovering near his all-time low, Democrats are more reliant than they have ever been on the very kind of big-money groups they have spent years trying to outlaw," the New York Times reports.

"They are countering the Republican Party's expansive and formidable outside spending network this fall with a smaller but more tightly knit alliance of groups that share donors, closely coordinate their advertising and hit harder than their conservative counterparts."

Archive: October 04, 2014

Backstage Flare Up Before Alaska Debate

Forrest Dunbar (D) told the Alaska Dispatch News he had a backstage altercation with Rep. Don Young (R-AK) before their debate Friday night.

When the two were walking near each other, Young said angrily, "You're not from Cordova any more than I'm from Fort Yukon. I had you looked into."

Dunbar said he was puzzled and touched Young on his arm lightly and asked: "What are you talking about?"

Then Dunbar said Young, "freaked out. There is no other way to describe it. He kind of snarled at me and said, 'Don't you ever touch me. Don't ever touch me. The last guy who touched me ended up on the ground dead.'"

Orman Solidly Ahead in Kansas

A new Gravis Marketing poll in Kansas finds Greg Orman (I) leading Sen. Pat Roberts (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 47% to 40%.

In the race for governor, Paul Davis (D) leads Gov. Sam Brownback (R), 48% to 40%.

Archive: October 03, 2014

Hillary Clinton Readies Midterm Blitz

Hillary Clinton "has mapped out much of her political schedule through Election Day, an itinerary that focuses on helping Senate candidates and includes trips to a half-dozen states, including Kentucky and presidential early states Iowa and New Hampshire," Politico reports.

"The final stretch of the midterms will mark Clinton's most extensive political activity since she left the State Department early last year and requests for her to appear began pouring in from all corners of the country."

Parties Gear Up for Possible Runoffs in Georgia and Louisiana

The possibility of runoffs in the Senate races in Georgia and Louisiana "has prompted big election spenders, including the National Rifle Association's political wing and Senate Republicans' campaign arm, to begin snapping up television advertising time for the period after Nov. 4 and making other plans for what could be weeks of additional frantic campaigning--possibly with control of the Senate hanging in the balance," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"If runoffs are needed, Louisiana would hold one on Dec. 6 and Georgia on Jan. 6."

GOP Ad Spending Surges

"Republicans have come surging back in the ad wars after a weak September, when Democrats seemed to dominate the airwaves. Heading into the final month before Election Day, Republican outside groups are helping even the score with big media buys," the New York Times reports.

"Republicans lead the spending in Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Hampshire and Oregon. Democrats are spending more in just two states, Alaska and Colorado."

Are 3 Big Senate Races Slipping Away from Democrats?

Politico: "It's been the most remarkably enduring story line of Election 2014: three Democratic senators defying their states' deep red complexion and their president's abysmal approval ratings to stay competitive in races that should have, on paper, been lost long ago. The question all along has been, Could it possibly last?"

"Now, a month out from the election, Republicans are seeing subtle but perceptible signs that contests in Alaska, Arkansas and Louisiana -- all three pivotal in the battle for the Senate -- are finally breaking their way."

Another Poll Shows Ernst Leading in Iowa

A new Gravis Marketing survey in Iowa finds Joni Ernst (R) well ahead of Bruce Braley (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 50% to 41%.

Archive: October 02, 2014

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

"I am not on the ballot this fall. Michelle's pretty happy about that. But make no mistake: these policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them."

-- President Obama, quoted by the Washington Post.

Nunn Says Reid Wanted His Daughter Out of Race

Former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA) said his daughter, U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn (D), "has little obligation to support Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) should Democrats maintain the chamber in November - given that Reid, in the spring of 2013, asked her not to run for Sam Nunn's old seat," the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

Said Nunn: "They said they had their eye on another candidate."

Childers Makes Play for McDaniel Voters

Mississippi Senate candidate Travis Childers (D) "signed an anti-amnesty pledge a conservative organization is pushing, a move that could endear him to disgruntled supporters of former tea party candidate Chris McDaniel (R), the runner-up to Sen. Thad Cochran (R) in the GOP primary," the Washington Post reports.

GOP Likely to Pick Up House Seats

Roll Call's new list of most the 10 most vulnerable House members shows Republicans "are poised to add at least a handful of seats to their majority in the midterms."

Senate Race in South Dakota Tightens

A new Public Policy Polling survey in South Dakota finds Mike Rounds (R) leading the U.S. Senate race with 35%, followed by Rick Weiland (D) at 28% and Larry Pressler (I) at 24%.

Gender Gap Widens as Democrats Press Their Advantage

"The gender gap -- the difference between Republicans' usual margin of victory among men and Democrats' usual margin of victory among women -- is nothing new. It has been evident for years in almost every election up and down the ballot. But a National Journal analysis of public polls, and interviews with strategists from both parties, suggests that the gap has ballooned to historic proportions across 2014's battleground states. Democrats are running campaigns designed to press an advantage among women that is helping the party compete in a number of races despite an unfriendly political climate and steep GOP advantages among men. Meanwhile, Republicans are searching for issues to combat the trend with female voters."

Broken Government Narrative Could Impact Midterms

First Read: "In a different year, the series of security breaches - and misinformation about them - that led to Secret Service director Julia Pierson's resignation Wednesday would get plenty of news coverage, but it probably wouldn't move the needle all that much politically. But this year, it's just the latest and most dramatic example of the government failing at its most basic responsibilities. Think about it: A year ago, was crashing spectacularly and the federal government was shut down. Since then, the Veterans Affairs Department, the NSA and the IRS all have been caught up in abuse and mismanagement scandals. Now, the tough and supposedly elite forces that the president himself entrusts with his own life failed (in epic fashion, at least three times!) to carry out the basic mission. And the White House was largely in the dark about it."

"It sure looks to the public like every part of government -- even the ones supposedly free from the partisanship that usually gets the blame for dysfunction -- is falling down on the job. And this comes at a time that the CDC is trying to reassure Americans about Ebola. With this accumulation of stories backing the narrative of utterly incompetent government, it makes sense that voters want a change -- any change -- to fix it."

Odds Favor Republicans in Senate Battle

Larry Sabato and Kyle Kondik: "The race for the Senate is perceptively moving in the Republicans' direction, but not so dramatically that we're ready to call the race definitively for them."

"While we've long said the 2014 map and midterm dynamics make a GOP takeover of the Senate a probable outcome, there are just too many close races left and more than a month to go, when big gaffes, unexpected legal actions, and national events can potentially flip a Senate seat or two."

"But right now, Democrats are behind the eight-ball (as well as the Crystal Ball). So many undecided contests are winnable for the GOP that the party would have to have a string of bad luck -- combined with a truly exceptional Democratic get-out-the-vote program -- to snatch defeat from the wide-open jaws of victory. Or Republicans would have to truly shoot themselves in the foot in at least one race, which has become a clear possibility over the last few weeks in Kansas."

Sheheen Calls for Removal of Confederate Flag

South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Vincent Sheheen (D) said it is time for the Confederate flag to be removed from the State House grounds and replaced with the U.S. flag, the Columbia State reports.

Said Sheheen: "We are a state that is too often divided, too often separated by race, by region, by party. We know that state leaders in South Carolina keep us entrenched in these divisions so they can stay entrenched in South Carolina."

Obama Delay on Immigration Hurting Democrats

"Less than a month after President Obama announced he would delay using his executive authority to reform immigration laws, there is evidence that the decision is doing exactly what he hoped to avoid: hurting Democrats," the Washington Post reports.

"Activists in key states say it is increasingly difficult to register would-be Latino voters who would vote for Democrats because of unhappiness over the decision. Poll numbers for Obama and Democrats have also dropped farther among Hispanics than the population at large. One group has even launched a campaign against four Democratic senators who backed a GOP proposal to bar Obama from taking any executive action on immigration."

Snyder Inches Away in Michigan

A new EPIC-MRA poll in Michigan shows Gov. Rick Snyder (R) leading challenger Mark Schauer (D) in the race for governor, 45% to 39%.

Judges Declare Two-Way Race in Kansas

"The clouds surrounding the U.S. Senate race in Kansas cleared Wednesday: The odds of a Democrat on the ballot disappeared, while an expected brawl between the remaining contenders moved closer to reality," the Kansas City Star reports.

"The end of the ballot dispute means Kansas voters now know their major choices in November: incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Roberts and independent Greg Orman."

Coakley Hurting for Cash

"The 11 members of the all-Democratic Massachusetts congressional delegation have been asked to pony up at least $25,000 each from their political funds for the party's financially struggling gubernatorial nominee, Martha Coakley (D)," the Boston Globe reports.

"At least three of them have initially balked at the idea, however, exposing some of the problems Coakley faces in getting full support from the Democratic establishment as she and the party struggle to close a fund-raising gap with GOP rival Charlie Baker and the state Republican Party."

Abbott Sits On Huge War Chest

The Dallas Morning News reports Greg Abbott (R) has $30 million left in the bank with about a month to go before the election for Texas governor.

"The totals aren't due to be reported for another five days, but the campaign was anxious to get the information out."

Archive: October 01, 2014

Very Close for Maryland Governor

A new Gonzales Research poll in Maryland finds Anthony Brown (D) with a small lead over Larry Hogan (R) in the race for governor, 47% to 43%.

Deadlocked in New Hampshire

A new New England College Poll in New Hampshire finds the U.S. Senate race a dead heat between Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) and challenger Scott Brown (R), 47% to 47%.

Orman Has Lead in Kansas

A new USA Today/Suffolk University poll in Kansas finds Greg Orman (I) leading Sen. Pat Roberts (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 46% to 41%.

In the race for governor, Paul Davis (D) leads Gov. Sam Brownback (R), 46% to 42%.

Walker Holds Lead in Wisconsin

A new Marquette University Law School poll in Wisconsin finds Gov. Scott Walker (R) leading challenger Mary Burke (D) in the race for governor among likely voters, 50% to 45%.

Crist Grabs Back Lead in Florida

A new SurveyUSA poll in Florida finds Charlie Crist (D) leading Gov. Rick Scott (R) in the race for governor, 46% to 40%.

Half Right

Kansas U.S. Senate candidate Greg Orman (I) slams both Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in the same ad.

Abbott Holds Solid Lead in Texas

A new Texas Lyceum poll finds Greg Abbott (R) leading Wendy Davis (D) in the race for Texas governor by nine points, 49% to 40%.

Republicans Seek Big Gains in House

"House Republicans have been destined for modest gains in the midterms despite a favorable political environment. Now, just five weeks until Election Day, the party is raising its ambitions, jumping into Democratic strongholds long thought to be beyond the GOP's reach," Politico reports.

"The goal: Achieve their biggest House majority since Harry Truman's presidency."

Haley Holds Big Lead in South Carolina

A new Winthrop University poll in South Carolina finds Gov. Nikki Haley (R) holds a 10-point lead over rival Vincent Sheheen (D), 44% to 34%.

Christie Approval Crashing in New Jersey

A new Quinnipiac poll in New Jersey finds voters give Gov. Chris Christie (R) one of his lowest job approval ratings ever, as 46% approve and 45% disapprove.

Just 11 months ago Christie won re-election with 60% of the vote.

Kasich Headed for Landslide

A new Quinnipiac poll in Ohio finds Gov. John Kasich (R) leading challenger Ed FitzGerald (D) by 22 points, 57% to 35%.

Said pollster Peter Brown: "Not only is Gov. Kasich getting a healthy share of Democrats, but he also has a double- digit lead among women, something almost unheard of in this era of the gender gap."

Quinn Tops Rauner in Illinois

A new Rasmussen poll in Illinois shows Gov. Pat Quinn (D) has overtaken challenger Bruce Rauner (R) in the race for govenror, 44% to 42%.

Archive: September 30, 2014

Hagan Still Up in North Carolina

A new Civitas poll in North Carolina finds Sen. Kay Hagan (D) leading challenger Thom Tillis (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 46% to 41%, when leaners are allocated to each candidate.

Do We Elect a Governor Who May End Up in Jail?

New York gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino (R) has one of the strangest and most desperate ads of the year.

Shaheen Leads by Double-Digits in New Hampshire

A new American Research Group poll in New Hampshire finds Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) leads challenger Scott Brown (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 53% to 43%.

Ernst Ahead in Iowa

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Iowa finds Joni Ernst (R) slightly ahead of Bruce Braley (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 44% to 42%.

Key finding: "Even though the horse race numbers haven't changed much, this is the first time we've found Ernst with a better net favorability rating than Braley."

Burke Leads Walker in Wisconsin

A new Gravis Marketing survey in Wisconsin finds Mary Burke (D) leading Gov. Scott Walker (R) in the race for governor by five points, 50% to 45%.

Kassebaum Baker Refused to Cut Ad for Roberts

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) asked former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker (R-KS), his "colleague and friend of more than 30 years," to tape a TV commercial for him but she refused, the Kansas City Star reports.

Said Kassebaum Baker: "There's just disappointment around the state. They feel they don't know him now."

Cassidy Holds Small Lead in Louisiana

A new Public Policy Polling survey finds Bill Cassidy (R) with a slight lead over Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) in a possible December runoff election, 48% to 45%.

Key finding: "Neither candidate is very popular with voters. 37% of voters have a favorable opinion of Cassidy to 41% with an unfavorable opinion, numbers that while poor are actually slightly improved from a -8 net favorability rating on the previous poll at 28/36. Landrieu's approval numbers are worse though- 42% give her good marks to 52% who disapprove."

Where is Terri Lynn Land?

NPR reports that Michigan U.S. Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land's (R) "last public appearance was at a Republican dinner in Macomb County last Tuesday. Since then, nothing."

Incumbent Governors Fear Wipeout

"As many as a dozen incumbent governors are fighting for their political lives five weeks out from Election Day -- a list that includes the chief executives of states as red as Kansas and as blue as Connecticut as well as several top presidential battlegrounds," Politico reports.

"The unsettled gubernatorial landscape has drawn a fraction of the attention of the seesawing battle for the Senate. Yet the state of play is dramatic in its own right: The fate of big-name Republicans such as Wisconsin's Scott Walker, Florida's Rick Scott and Michigan's Rick Snyder are all on the line, and Democrats such as Colorado's John Hickenlooper and Illinois' Pat Quinn are locked in tough reelection races that could go either way."

Assessing the Battle for the Senate

Reid Wilson: "Here's the rough consensus on Democratic seats (the higher the rank, the more likely a seat is to change control): Montana will flip by the widest margin. West Virginia. South Dakota. Louisiana. Arkansas. Alaska. Iowa. Colorado. Michigan. North Carolina. Minnesota. Oregon (Some Democrats say North Carolina should come before Iowa and Colorado). The consensus among Republican seats: Kansas is the most likely to change control. Then Georgia. Then Kentucky."

"The shorthand takeaway: Alaska is the Republicans' 51st seat. If Kansas flips, it's all about Iowa."

Charlie Cook: "My hunch is that this is not a year when Democrats are likely to get a disproportionate share of the breaks. I'm sticking with the 60 percent chance of a Senate turnover that I've held for several months."

Democrats Spend Big on Ground Game

"With a strong possibility that Democrats could lose control of the Senate in the midterm elections, they are investing heavily in voter turnout efforts," the New York Times reports.

"In states too close to call like Alaska, Colorado, Iowa and North Carolina, Democrats are making much greater investments in the ground game than Republicans."

Race for Michigan Governor Deadlocked

A new Target Insyght Poll in Michigan shows Gov. Rick Snyder (R) barely ahead of challenger Mark Schauer (D) in the race for governor, 41% to 40%, with 16% still undecided.

In the U.S. Senate race, Gary Peters (D) holds a double-digit lead over Terri Lynn Land (R), 48% to 38%.

Louisiana Tilts Towards Democrats

A new Gallup poll finds more Louisianans identify themselves as or lean Democratic (45%) than Republican (41%), a shift from the slight edge Republicans have held for past three years. The shift is likely a welcome indicator for Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) as she attempts to win her fourth term in one of this year's most highly watched U.S. Senate races.

Clinton Heads Home to Campaign

"Former President Bill Clinton will headline a series of rallies for Arkansas Democrats next week, lending a hand in the party's efforts to fend off a Republican takeover of his home state's top offices in the November election," the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports.

Reid and Daschle Feud Over Senate Seat

"Simmering tensions between Harry Reid and Tom Daschle are erupting into an all-out feud," The Hill reports.

"Daschle is expressing frustration with the Senate majority leader (D-Nev.) for refusing to endorse Rick Weiland, a former Daschle aide who is running for the South Dakota seat held by retiring Sen. Tim Johnson (D)."

Archive: September 29, 2014

Supreme Court Blocks Extension of Ohio Early Voting

"The Supreme Court's conservatives cleared the way Monday for Ohio to restrict early voting in the state, on the eve of the day it was to start," the Washington Post reports.

"The court granted the state's request to stay decisions of lower courts that threw out the state's new plan, passed by the Republican-led legislature. But the court's four liberal justices said they would have stayed out of the case and left those decisions in place."

Rick Hasen: "I think it was a mistake to bring this Ohio case. I am not convinced that it is a significant burden on voters to cut back a week off early voting including the last Sunday. Really, if 28 days is too little early voting, what does this say about New York, with NO period of early voting?"

No Ruling on Kansas Democrats Picking Candidate

A three-judge panel "did not decide Monday whether Kansas Democrats should be required to pick a replacement for Chad Taylor (D), who dropped out of the closely contested U.S. Senate campaign against longtime incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), the Topeka Capital Journal reports.

"The court challenge seeking to force Democrats to fill the vacancy hit a stumbling block Monday when the man who filed the suit failed to show up for his day in court."

Senate Race in Kansas is a Toss Up

The Cook Political Report has moved the U.S. Senate race in Kansas to a "toss up."

"This contest has become the Rubik's Cube of Senate races. At the end of the day, it will be solved, but no one really knows how long it will take or how many different ways to solve the puzzle there really are. As a result, this race defies traditional analyses. Given what has become a complicated two-way race, polling is of little use."

Dead Heat for Massachusetts Governor

A new Suffolk University poll in Massachusetts finds the race for governor is a dead heat, with Martha Coakley (D)tied with Charlie Baker (R), 43% to 43%.

A new Western New England University poll finds Baker ahead 44% to 43%.

A forthcoming University of Massachusetts at Amherst poll is also expected to show a dead heat.

Pressler Gains in South Dakota

A new Nielson Brothers survey in South Dakota finds Mike Rounds (R) leading Rick Weiland (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 39% to 26%, with Larry Pressler (I) at 24%.

If Weiland were not in the race, Rounds would be in a dead heat with Pressler, 40% to 39%.

Ohio Democrats Move to Contain Damage

"With a wounded candidate at the top of their ticket, Democrats in Ohio have been forced to adopt a Plan B as they seek to avoid a disastrous shutout in elections for governor and other statewide offices," the New York Times reports.

"Democrats here and nationally had high hopes of ousting Gov. John Kasich, whose job approval was below 50 percent among voters in Quinnipiac University polls taken early this year. But that was before the challenger, Ed FitzGerald, suffered self-inflicted wounds and his campaign all but imploded. With donors fleeing, top aides to Mr. FitzGerald quit last month as it became clear there was not enough money for a hard-fought race."

Democrats Crushing Republicans in Small Donations

National Journal: "Democratic candidates for Congress are crushing their Republican counterparts in small-dollar donations -- outraising their GOP foes by an average of more than $100,000 per candidate in the nation's top races. That's the finding of a new National Journal analysis of federal records in the most competitive House contests in the country. In those, the average Democrat has collected $179,300 in donations under $200; the average Republican has brought in only $78,535."

Time for Democrats to Panic?

Nate Silver looks at the implications of a new poll showing Joni Ernst (R) with a solid lead over Bruce Braley (D) in the Iowa U.S. Senate race.

"If Republicans are favored there also, they have a path to a Senate majority without having to worry about the crazy race in Kansas. Nor is Iowa their only option. Polls have also moved toward Republicans in Colorado, where their candidate Cory Gardner is now a slight favorite."

"This is an awfully flexible set of outcomes for Republicans. Win the six 'path of least resistance' states that I mentioned before, avoid surprises in races like Kentucky, and all Republicans need to do is win either Iowa or Colorado to guarantee a Senate majority. Or they could have Roberts hold on in Kansas. Or Orman could win that race, but the GOP could persuade him to caucus with them."

Braley Fails to Do Damage in Iowa Debate

Bruce Braley (D) and Joni Ernst (R) "squared off in a lively U.S. Senate debate Sunday evening, marked by heated exchanges on abortion, contraceptives, climate change and environmental regulations -- and by biting attacks and comebacks, especially in the final few minutes," the Des Moines Register reports.

"Braley went on the attack against a rival who is ahead by 6 points in the new Iowa Poll on the race, but front-runner Ernst responded in kind in their first face-to-face match-up."

Braley "needed to land some blows against his Republican competitor" but "he didn't deliver," Bloomberg reports.

Orman Won't Say Which Party He'll Support

Kansas U.S. Senate candidate Greg Orman (I) refuses to say whether he would he caucus with Democrats or Republicans if he defeats Sen. Pat Roberts (R), the Washington Post reports.

Said Orman: "It's not in the best interests for us to say that."

GOP Hopefuls Push Farther Right

New York Times: "Congressional Republicans successfully ended their primary season with minimal damage, but in at least a dozen safe or largely safe Republican House districts where more mild-mannered Republicans are exiting, their likely replacements will pull the party to the right, a move likely to increase division in an already polarized Congress."

Party Bosses Place Their Bets

The Hill: "Five weeks before the midterm elections, party leaders are peering into their campaign bank accounts, doing their math and trying to figure out where to put their money -- and where to abandon hope."

"While it is unclear which party will be running the upper chamber in 2015, the states that will decide the race are now apparent. The decisions by D.C. power brokers are sure to be a disappointment for some candidates who will be left to the wayside."

Michaud Just Ahead in Maine

A new Portland Press Herald poll in Maine finds Mike Michaud (D) edging Gov. Paul LePage (R) in the race for governor, 41% to 39%, with Eliot Cutler (I) at 14%.

Archive: September 28, 2014

Landrieu Leads But Not By Enough to Avoid Runoff

A new CNN/ORC International poll in Louisiana finds Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) with a small lead over Bill Cassidy (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 43% to 40%.

"But this is Louisiana, and the election system can be complicated. There are nine candidates -- Republicans, Democrats, and a Libertarian -- on the ballot this November, and if no candidate crosses the 50% threshold, the race moves into a December runoff between the top two contenders."

Hagan Maintains Lead in North Carolina

A new CNN/ORC International survey in North Carolina finds Sen. Kay Hagan (D) just ahead of challenger Thom Tillis (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 46% to 43%, with Libertarian Sean Haugh at 7%.

Archive: September 27, 2014

Ernst Pulls Ahead in Iowa

A new Des Moines Register poll in Iowa finds Joni Ernst (R) leads Bruce Braley (D) in the U.S. Senate race by six points, 44% to 38%.

"Just seven months ago, political analysts considered Braley almost a shoo-in for a seat held for 30 years by liberal Democrat Tom Harkin. Still, the 6-point deficit isn't insurmountable with 37 days left until the Nov. 4 election, political analysts say. Twelve percent of likely voters remain undecided."

Senate Odds Tilt Back Towards Republicans

"If the polls of early September were a reminder that the Democratic path to 50 seats remains open, then the last two weeks were a reminder of how quickly that path could close," the New York Times reports.

"Recent polls in Iowa, Colorado and Alaska have offered better news for Republicans. As a result, the Republicans are again slight favorites to retake the Senate, according to Leo, The Upshot's Senate model. They have a 61 percent chance of retaking the chamber, up from 50 percent in the middle of last week."

Interestingly, FiveThirtyEight gives Republicans a 60% chance and Sam Wang gives Republicans a 61% chance.

Third Parties May Tip Battle for Senate

"In an election year shaped by voter anger toward the political establishment, the outcome of an unusually large number of close Senate and governor's races could be determined by the outsize role of third-party candidates," the New York Times reports.

"The potential spoilers include a quixotic former three-term senator, a pizza delivery man and an Alaskan whose name, Fish, summons a favored native food. They represent independents, Libertarians and other parties that have suddenly become relevant -- and could affect the balance of power in Congress and decide who runs the governor's offices in several states."

Archive: September 26, 2014

Cotton Holds Seven Point Lead in Arkansas

A new Rasmussen survey in Arkansas finds Tom Cotton (R) with a solid lead over Sen. Mark Pryor (D) in the state's closely-watched U.S. Senate race, 47% to 40%.

Coakley Loses Lead in Massachusetts

A new Boston Globe poll in Massachusetts finds Charlie Baker (R) leading Martha Coakley (D) in the race for governors, 40% to 38%.

"Coakley may be suffering from the souring national mood toward her party's leader, President Obama. Even in predominantly Democratic Massachusetts, more voters, 48 percent, disapprove of the president's job performance, than approve, 46 percent."

Democrats Surprising Strength in North Carolina

Nate Cohn: "This spring, North Carolina looked like the obvious sixth pickup state for the Republicans, just enough to take the Senate. The state is competitive only in presidential elections when turnout rises, especially among young and nonwhite voters. The Democratic incumbent, Kay Hagan, needed to compensate with big inroads among conservative white voters. But the polls showed her poorly positioned to do so. Her approval ratings were low; she was stuck in the low 40s among registered voters against Republican candidates who had yet to win their party's nomination."

"It couldn't look more different today. If the Democrats assemble a firewall in defense of the Senate, the polling suggests North Carolina will be its bulwark. Ms. Hagan leads her Republican challenger, Thom Tillis, in nearly every survey over the last month by an average of more than three percentage points."

Wolf Mulls Endorsement of Orman

"Milton Wolf, the tea party candidate who battled Sen. Pat Roberts in a bitter Republican primary fight, is considering some political payback: Endorsing Kansas independent Greg Orman," Politico reports.

"But there's a big catch: To win Wolf's endorsement, Orman must first agree to caucus with the Senate GOP if he were to defeat Roberts in the general election."

Archive: September 25, 2014

Two Polls Find Begich Trailing

A new Rasmussen survey in Alaska finds Dan Sullivan (R) leading Sen. Mark Begich (D) in the U.S. Senate race by five points, 48% to 43%.

A new Dittman Research survey finds Sullivan ahead by six points, 49% to 43%.

Udall Trails in Colorado

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Colorado finds Cory Gardner (R) just ahead of Sen. Mark Udall (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 47% to 45%.

Kobach Tries to Force Democrats to Name a Candidate

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) jumped into a lawsuit "filed by a disgruntled voter seeking to force Kansas Democrats to name a new U.S. Senate nominee in hopes of speeding the resolution of a legal dispute shadowing a race with possible national implications," the Kansas City Star reports.

"Kobach, like the voter, argues that a state election law requires Democrats to replace ex-nominee Chad Taylor, who earlier this month dropped out of the race against three-term Republican Sen. Pat Roberts."

Little Movement in House Races

Kyle Kondik: "The national numbers indicate that Republicans should be on the verge of big House gains. But a district-by-district analysis suggests a different story."

"The GOP is already at close to a high-water mark in the House, and their list of truly appetizing targets is limited. Meanwhile, Democrats do not have nearly the broad playing field they had to defend in 2010, and their national third-party groups, like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and House Majority PAC (the shadow DCCC), have a distinct dollar edge over their GOP rivals. That doesn't mean the Democrats can overcome a poor national environment and capture the House -- or even net a seat or two -- but it does mean that the Democrats are decently positioned to limit their losses even if the national environment gets worse."

Warner Holds Solid Lead in Virginia

A new Quinnipiac poll in Virginia finds Sen. Mark Warner (D) leading challenger Ed Gillespie (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 48T to 39% among likely voters, with Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis at 6%.

Archive: September 24, 2014

Corbett Still Trails in Pennsylvania

A new Keystone Report/Magellan Strategies poll in Pennsylvania finds Tom Wolf (D) leading Gov. Tom Corbett (R) by nine points, 49% to 40%.

Other recent polls have shown Wolf leading by a much larger margin.

Brown Still Headed for a Landslide in California

A new Public Policy Institute of California poll finds Gov. Jerry Brown (D) holding a commanding 54% to 33% lead among likely voters over challenger Neel Kashkari (R).

Coakley Leads By Double-Digits in Massachusetts

A new WBUR poll in Massachusetts finds Martha Coakley (D) maintains "a stable lead" in the five-way race for governor, beating out Charlie Baker (R) by 10 points, 46% to 36%.

Pryor Has Slight Edge in Arkansas

A new USA Today/Suffolk University poll shows Sen. Mark Pryor (D) just ahead of challenger Tom Cotton (R), 45% to 43%, with 7% undecided.

Very interesting: "Among voters who consider health care their top issue, Pryor leads Cotton 50% to 39%"

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

"He's basically furniture in the Senate, and the people in Kansas know that. You could give the average Kansan 24 hours to come up with something Pat Roberts has done in the Senate, and after 24 hours, even the crickets would be standing there befuddled."

-- GOP strategist John Weaver, quoted by the Washington Post.

GOP Keeps Election Nationalized with Terror Talk

First Read: "If it feels like 2002-2004 all over again due to ISIS and the U.S. military campaign against it, well, that's also reflected on the campaign trail and in the TV ads, especially on the Republican side..."

"There are two reasons why these anti-terror messages from Republicans are beginning to pop up on the campaign trail. The first: It's embedded in the party's DNA. Since the beginning of the Cold War, the GOP's first instinct has always been to assert how it's tougher and stronger on communism/terrorism than the Democratic Party is... The second reason: Republicans want to keep the midterms a nationalized election. And so when the national conversation turns away from health care and the economy to national security, the GOP's TV ads and campaign messages will follow. Why do they want it nationalized? Take one look at the right track/wrong track poll numbers coupled with the president's job rating. The more local this campaign is, the less likely the GOP wins the Senate or adds to their House majority."

Warner Headed for Big Win in Virginia

A new Roanoke College poll in Virginia finds Sen. Mark Warner (D) holds a 19-point lead over challenger Ed Gillespie (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 46% to 27%.

Bonus Quote of the Day

"Can I say that without getting in trouble like Gov. Romney. The 47 percent is true. It's bigger now."

-- Nevada congressional candidate Crescent Hardy (R), quoted by TPM.

Still Tight in Georgia

A new Survey USA poll in Georgia finds David Perdue (R) barely leading Michelle Nunn (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 46% to 45%.

In the race for governor, Jason Carter (D) edges Gov. Nathan Deal (R), 45% to 44%.

Tracking the Early Vote

Elect Project has a very useful early voting tracker.

Scott Just Ahead in Florida

A new Quinnipiac poll in Florida finds Gov. Rick Scott (R) edging challenger Charlie Crist (D) in the race for governor, 44% to 42%.

"Quinnipiac's survey shows the relentlessly negative tone of the campaign is having an effect on the mood of voters as fewer than four out of 10 voters say Scott or Crist is honest and trustworthy. However, Scott outpaces Crist on leadership qualities by 58% to 46%, and Scott performs better among independent voters than Crist, 44% to 37%."

A new SurveyUSA poll has Scott ahead 43% to 42%.

Archive: September 23, 2014

Cianci Leads in Race for Providence Mayor

A new WPRI 12/Providence Journal poll finds former Providence Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci Jr. has a small lead over Jorge Elorza six weeks ahead of the election, 38% to 32%.

Cianci was mayor from 1974 to 1984 and again from 1990 to 2002, but was twice forced from office both times after felony convictions.

Cotton Still Leads in Arkansas

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Arkansas finds Tom Cotton (R) leading Sen. Mark Pryor (D) by five points, 43% to 38%.

Key finding: "Cotton's lead is up slightly from 41/39 on our previous poll. Voters aren't in love with him- 40% see him favorably to 41% with an unfavorable opinion. But Pryor continues to have tough approval ratings, with 36% giving him good marks to 51% who disapprove."

Down to Four Races

Sam Wang says that "only four uncertain races remain: Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, and Arkansas. In each of these contests, the candidates are within two percentage points of one another. Power in the Senate will almost certainly depend on what happens in these states."

Sullivan Grabs Lead in Alaska

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Alaska finds Dan Sullivan (R) just ahead of Sen. Mark Begich (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 43% to 41%.

Key finding: "Sullivan has gained 6 points since our last poll in early August, while Begich has dropped 2. Sullivan's gain has come largely due to consolidating his support among Republican leaning voters since winning the primary last month. He now leads 75/9 among folks who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, compared to 70/11 on the last survey."

Democrats Seek to Drive Up Female Vote

Greg Sargent: "Here's one way to understand the battle for the female vote. It's often discussed in terms of the 'gender gap,' i.e., the margin any given Democratic candidate enjoys among women. That's important, but Dems are also eying another key goal: How to drive up the share of the 2014 electorate that women represent."

"Democratic strategists familiar with the hardest fought and probably most critical Senate races -- in Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, and Arkansas -- all tend to gravitate towards citing 53 percent as an important, if approximate, threshold. That is, they privately say that if the electorates in their states approach 53 percent women, and their candidates enjoy a reasonable advantage among them (as some polls suggest they do already), then their chances of winning improve."

GOP Moves to Scorched Earth Campaign in Kansas

"Control of the Senate is potentially at stake in Kansas, and the GOP is beginning to double down," The Hill reports.

"With a two-man race now looking all but certain, national Republicans are planning a scorched-earth offensive to frame Sen. Pat Roberts's (R-Kan.) independent opponent, Greg Orman, as a shady businessman.... Kansas Republicans say to expect more information on his business dealings to come out in the coming weeks -- likely as a systematic drip-drip of information, to keep the issue alive throughout the race."

Family Funnels Donations Through Independent Group

"The family of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan has given another $300,000 to an independent group supporting Sullivan's campaign, after donating more than $350,000 in advance of the Aug. 19 Republican Party primary," the Alaska Dispatch News reports.

Hagan Holds Edge in North Carolina

A new High Point University poll in North Carolina finds Sen. Kay Hagan (D) just ahead of challenger Thom Tillis (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 42% to 40%, with Libertarian Sean Haugh at 6%.

Peters Up in Michigan

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Michigan finds Gary Peters (D) leading Terri Lynn Land (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 47% to 40%.

In the race for governor, Gov. Rick Snyder (R) edges challenger Mark Schauer (D), 46% to 44%.

Archive: September 22, 2014

Bush, Palin to Stump for Roberts

Jeb Bush (R) will come to Wichita on Sept. 29 to stump for Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) in a tight Senate race that has drawn national attention, the Wichita Eagle reports.

On Thursday Roberts will be joined by a special guest. A source close to the campaign confirmed that guest is Sarah Palin.

Kissing Congressman's New Ad Features His Wife

Rep. Vance McAllister (R-LA), the married lawmaker who was caught on camera earlier this year kissing a congressional staffer, is airing a new forgiveness-themed TV ad featuring his wife, NBC News reports.

In the 30-second spot, the McAllisters sit side by side as the congressman's wife Kelly says that she is "blessed to have a husband who owns up to his mistakes."

Outside Spending Sets New Midterm Record

Morning Line: "Back in April, we wrote that outside spending was on a record-breaking pace. Well, on this first day of fall -- and with 43 days still to go until Election Day -- outside spending has now surpassed the mark for most money ever spent in a midterm election. In fact, the $228 million (and climbing) spent by outside interest groups is not only the most ever spent in a midterm, but it's also more spent in any election except the 2012 presidential election... The fact is: this is a whole new world. There should be a red line drawn on anyone's timeline when reporting on election spending to signify Jan. 21, 2010, the date the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling was handed down, opening up unlimited money to flow into elections from unions and corporations."

Predict the Senate

Democratic polling firm Hickman Analystics has a useful Senate prediction tool to test your assumptions about some of the closer races.

Trippi Says It Would Be a 'Miracle' if Democrats Hold Senate

Democratic strategist Joe Trippi told Fox News that it would be a "miracle" in the current political environment for Democrats to hold on to the Senate.

Said Trippi: "I would gauge that Republicans are likely to pick up between five and eight seats."

Kansas Candidate Admits Strip Club Incident

"In the late 1990s the Democratic candidate for governor of Kansas was getting a lap dance at a strip club when cops raided it in search of drugs, a situation Paul Davis (D) on Saturday described as being 'in the wrong place at the wrong time,'" Politico reports.

"Davis was not charged with any crime, but a police chief involved in the raid wrote afterward that he had been drinking and was found 'in a somewhat compromising position ... in a back room of the club.'"

GOP Holds Intensity Edge

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Annenberg poll shows that 54% of Republicans say they're highly interested in the upcoming elections, compared to 44% of Democrats who say the same.

Another way to look at the GOP intensity advantage: Democrats hold a four-point lead on the generic ballot, 46% to 42%. But among high-interest voters, Republicans have the edge, 51% to 43%.

Giffords Unleashes Attacks on GOP Candidates

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), "whose recovery from a gunshot wound to the head captivated the country, has unleashed some of the nastiest ads of the campaign season, going after GOP candidates in Arizona and New Hampshire with attacks even some left-leaning commentators say go too far," Politico reports.

"And Republicans on the receiving end are largely helpless to hit back, knowing a fight with the much-admired survivor is not one they're likely to win."

Rove Says Democrats Have Money Edge

Karl Rove points to Democrats' cash edge "as the main advantage the party has in keeping the GOP from taking control of the Senate," Politico reports.

Said Rove: "The dynamics are good for Republicans -- enthusiasm is high, Obama is low. The one advantage Democrats have had is a big cash advantage. They've already booked between Labor Day and election day $107 million in television advertising. The Republicans -- $25 million less."

Coakley Holds Slim Lead in Massachusetts

A new Boston Globe poll in Massachusetts finds Martha Coakley (D) barely leads Charlie Baker in the race for governor, 39% to 36% with 19% of likely voters undecided.

Orman's Link to Jailed Investor Questioned

U.S. Senate front-runner Greg Orman (I) "plans to make public Monday a financial disclosure report required of U.S. Senate candidates outlining the footprint of his vast financial empire amid escalating interest in the independent's bid for office," the Topeka Capital Journal reports.

"The federal disclosure report could fill voids left by Orman's remarks during a Topeka campaign stop indicating he had threadbare financial connections to former Wall Street mogul Rajat Gupta, a one-time Goldman Sachs board member sent to prison this year for securities fraud. Gupta's criminal and civil fines exceeded $18 million."

Dead Heat in Michigan

A new We Ask America poll in Michigan finds a dead heat in the race for governor with Gov. Rick Snyder (R) tied with challenger Mark Schauer (D), 43% to 43%.

In the U.S. Senate race, Gary Peters (D) leads Terri Lynn Land (R), 42% to 39%.

Rauner Slightly Ahead in Illinois

A new We Ask America poll in Illinois finds Bruce Rauner (R) just ahead of Gov. Pat Quinn (D) in the governor's race, 44% to 41%.

Archive: September 20, 2014

Focus Turns to Kansas

New York Times: "At the beginning of the year, no one thought that Kansas -- which has sent only Republicans to the Senate since 1938 -- would be critical in determining the balance of the Senate. But a Kansas Supreme Court ruling on Thursday that allowed the Democratic nominee to withdraw his name from the ballot made that prospect real."

"Democrats are celebrating the ruling. Their candidate may be off the ballot, but his departure benefits the investor, Greg Orman, who is running as an independent, and hurts the longtime Republican incumbent, Senator Pat Roberts, who had already been tripped up in his expected waltz to re-election."

Two Wild Cards in the Battle for the Senate

Nate Cohn: "If all of the candidates currently leading in the polls go on to win, which is not at all assured with so many close races and still 45 days to go, then the party that wins two from the list of Iowa, Alaska and Kansas will win the Senate. But Alaska and Kansas pose unusual challenges for election analysts and forecasters. It's possible that one party has a clear advantage in the fight for the Senate, and that we just don't know it yet."

Super PACs Keep Democrats Competitive in Key Senate Races

"Strong fundraising by Democrats and their allies--including a formidable super PAC run by people close to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid --is helping the party remain competitive in Senate races where many other factors favor Republican candidates," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"The Democratic fundraising has allowed the party and its allies to run more TV advertisements than Republicans in the first two weeks of September in nine of the 10 top Senate races this fall... The Democrats' edge in TV ads of late is due partly to a string of super PACs that have ramped up their efforts in the past two months."

Will 'Crazy' be the October Surprise?

Dean Obeidallah: "I have to give the Republicans credit for one thing in this election cycle. They've been able to keep their crazies quiet. But the big question is: Will some GOP crazy talk seep out between now November 4? In the words of Sarah Palin, I'd have to say, 'You betcha.'"

Archive: September 19, 2014

Orman Lead in Kansas

A new Rasmussen survey in Kansas finds Greg Orman (I) leading Sen. Pat Roberts (R) for U.S. Senate, 45% to 40%.

The survey shows the head-to-head match up now possible when Chad Taylor (D) is kept off the ballot.

Toss Up in Iowa

A new Rasmussen survey in Iowa finds Joni Ernst (R) and Bruce Braley (D) deadlocked in the U.S. Senate race, 43% to 43%.

GOP Candidate Suggests War with Mexico

North Carolina congressional candidate Mark Walker (R) suggested war with Mexico might be a way to stop immigrants coming across the border, TPM reports.

Said Walker: "I will tell you if you have foreigners who are sneaking in with drug cartels to me that is a national threat. And if we got to go laser or blitz somebody with a couple of fighter jets for a little while to make our point, I don't have a problem with that either. So yeah, whatever we need to do."

Bonus Quote of the Day

"The battleground for control of the Senate is now Kansas."

-- Former Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS), quoted by ABC News, on news the Democratic candidate will be allowed to drop off the ballot to force a two-way race.

Quote of the Day

"Let's see if you can write this whole story without mentioning how fat I've gotten."

-- North Carolina congressional candidate Clay Aiken (D), quoted by the Washington Post.

Burke Plagiarized Jobs Plan

Large portions of Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke's (D) jobs plan "appear to be copied directly from the plans of three Democratic candidates who ran for governor in previous election cycles," BuzzFeed reports.

"Burke's economic plan Invest for Success copies nearly-verbatim sections from the jobs plans of Ward Cammack, who ran for Tennessee governor in 2009 before withdrawing from the race, a 2008 plan from Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, and John Gregg who ran for governor of Indiana in 2012 and lost to Mike Pence."

If Republicans Win the Senate

"Senate Republicans are planning aggressive action to intensify oversight of the Obama administration and move conservative legislation long stymied by the Democrats if they win control of the upper chamber in the midterm elections," the Washington Examiner reports.

"Republican leaders are promising a complete makeover of the chamber that goes beyond changes in legislative priorities... Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, expected to become the next majority leader as long as he wins re-election on Nov. 4, plans to return power to the committees and promote a freewheeling debate process that allows members to shape legislation through a vigorous amendment process."

GOP Pushes Early Voting Efforts

"Republicans are trying to boost their early-voting efforts after lagging behind Democrats in the past two election cycles, spending unprecedented sums at the state level and launching a national campaign to get GOP voters to cast ballots before Election Day," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"With early voting beginning Friday in three states, the GOP's efforts have the potential to affect the outcome of close races. Campaigns that bank early votes can then spend their resources chasing supporters with less reliable voting histories, who may need a push to the polls."

Archive: September 18, 2014

Taylor Allowed Off Kansas Ballot

"The Kansas Supreme Court issued a decision laden with political intrigue Thursday that overruled the state's top elections officer and declared Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Chad Taylor could pull himself from the November ballot," the Topeka Capital Journal reports.

"In the middle of a wild campaign for the seat held by three-term Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, the high court's opinion thwarted the decision of Secretary of State Kris Kobach to prohibit Taylor's exit from race."

Rick Hasen: "The big unanswered question is what happens to the other statute which appears to require Democrats to replace a withdrawn candidate on the ballot."

Perdue Maintains Lead in Georgia

A new Rasmussen survey in Georgia finds David Perdue (R) leading Michelle Nunn (D) by five points in the U.S. Senate race, 46% to 41%.

Democrats Losing Support of Women Voters

American Interest: "The most interesting finding of a recent NYT poll on voter preferences before the midterms: The Democrats have lost their edge with women. Though the NYT write-up of the poll doesn't mention the change, it shows up in the accompanying graph. When asked "If the 2014 election for United States House of Representatives seats were being held today, would you vote for the Republican candidate or the Democratic candidate in your district?" women favor Democrats over Republicans by one point only, 43 to 42 percent."

Midterm Polling is Volatile

First Read: "It's really hard to get a handle on this year's race because the likely-voter modeling is so divergent, even among good pollsters with good reputations. It's ironic: In the past two weeks, we've seen a tremendous amount of polling, and it's created more uncertainty that anything else."

"That said, this year should be a reminder as to why to be leery of any political handicapping site only using released polls as their basis for prediction. These aggregation and regression analysis sites are trying to find accuracy with incredibly inaccurate data. That's not exactly scientific."

Senate Control May Not Be Decided on Election Day

Kyle Kondik: "There are all sorts of reasons why you shouldn't, unless in the next seven weeks one side or the other -- probably the Republicans -- starts opening up a clear lead in enough races to give them a clear majority. If neither side does, control of the Senate could remain up in the air -- for a while."

GOP Senate Majority Still In Doubt

Karl Rove: "The president's job approval numbers are lousy, no Democrat in a competitive Senate race polls regularly above 50%, GOP enthusiasm is high, and independents are trending Republican. The midterm environment is terrible for Democrats--yet each passing day provides evidence as to why a GOP Senate majority is still in doubt."

Udall Trails in Colorado

A new Quinnipiac poll in Colorado finds Cory Gardner (R) leading Sen. Mark Udall (D) by eight points in the U.S. Senate race among likely voters, 48% to 40%.

Wehby Admits Plagiarism Problem

Monica Wehby's (R) U.S. Senate campaign "acknowledged problems with plagiarism in some of her issue documents and removed them from her website," the Oregonian reports.

"Her campaign blamed a former staffer, and it was clear from the context that Wehby and her aides were referring to her former campaign manager, Charlie Pearce, who is now running Dennis Richardson's campaign for governor."

Archive: September 17, 2014

Peters Maintains Lead in Michigan

A new Denno Research poll in Michigan finds that Gary Peters (D) had a solid lead over Terri Lynn Land (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 45% to 38%.

In the race for governor, Mark Shauer (D) edges Gov. Rick Snyder (R), 43% to 40%.

Wehby Plagiarized Her Economic Plan Too

Large portions of an economic plan released by Oregon Senate candidate Monica Wehby (R) "appear to be heavily plagiarized from multiple sources, including one section that copies word-for-word from a plan put out" by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), BuzzFeed reports.

"Likewise, portions of Wehby's plan also copy sections nearly-verbatim from the economic growth plan of a 2012 congressional candidate named Gary DeLong and a survey from Karl Rove's group, Crossroads."

Earlier, it was reported that Wehby's health care plan was also lifted from Crossroads.

Fox News Polls Key Senate Races

Fox News released several polls in key U.S. Senate races:

Kansas: Sen. Pat Roberts (R) 40%, Greg Orman (I) 38%, Chad Taylor (D) 11%

Iowa: Bruce Braley (D) 41%, Joni Ernst (R) 41%

Louisiana: Bill Cassidy (R) 51%, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) 38%

North Carolina: Sen. Kay Hagan (D) 41%, Thom Tillis (R) 36%

Average of the Forecasts Shows a 50-50 Senate

With so many new election forecasts this year, Vox just averages them and finds they predict an evenly divided U.S. Senate.

Gardner Grabs Lead in Colorado

A new USA Today/Suffolk University Poll in Colorado finds Cory Gardner (R) just ahead of Sen. Mark Udall (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 43% to 42%.

In the race for governor, Gov. John Hickenlooper is slightly ahead of challenger Bob Beauprez (R), 43% to 41%.

Walker Pulls Ahead in Wisconsin

A new Marquette University Law School poll in Wisconsin finds that Gov. Scott Walker (R) is slightly ahead of challenger Mary Burke (D among likely voters, 49% to 46%.

Begich Maintains Lead Over Sullivan

A new Hays Research poll in Alaska finds Sen. Mark Begich (D) leading Dan Sullivan by five points, 39% to 34%, with 22% still undecided.

Hays warns that the "race has been quite volatile with each candidate taking the lead at various times throughout the past few weeks."

In the race for governor, Bill Walker (I) leads Gov. Sean Parnell (R) by eight points, 33% to 25%, with 31% undecided.

Begich Attacked as Pretend Snowmobiler

Dan Sullivan (R) accused Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) of "pretending to ride" a snowmobile in a new ad.

Wall Street Journal: "It's not the first time Republicans have launched accusations that Mr. Begich needed a stunt double for his TV ads. A super PAC backing Mr. Sullivan called Alaska's Energy, America's Values suggested it wasn't Begich in the snowmobile ad in an April radio message."

Democrats Running More Ads in Key Senate Races

The Wesleyan Media Project finds that Democrats have run more ads than Republicans in Kentucky, North Carolina, Michigan, Iowa, Louisiana, Colorado, Arkansas, Georgia and Virginia over the last two weeks.

Republicans have only been on the air more than Democrats in Alaska.

Wehby Plagiarized Health Care Plan

Oregon Senate candidate Monica Wehby's (R) health care plan appears to have been plagiarized from a survey done for Crossroads GPS, BuzzFeed reports.

Said a campaign spokesman: "The suggestion that a pediatric neurosurgeon needs to copy a health care plan from American Crossroads is absurd. Dr. Wehby is too busy performing brain surgery on sick children to respond, sorry."

Coakley Ahead in Massachusetts

A new WBUR-FM/MassINC Polling Group poll in Massachusetts finds Martha Coakley (D) leads Charlie Baker (R) in the race for governor by seven points, 41% to 34%.

Potential warning sign for Coakley: The Boston Globe reports Baker "enjoys a huge, nearly 11-to-1 cash advantage over the Democratic nominee."

Where are Democrats in Ohio?

Rick Klein: "An announcement out of Ohio that political junkies should take note of: There will be no debate in the Ohio governor's race this year. That's not a total surprise, given the fade of Democratic candidate Ed FitzGerald in his race against incumbent Gov. John Kasich. But it underlines the fact that we're seeing an uncommonly lame political year in a state that always seems to find a way to capture the nation's Election Night attention. Here's guessing voters aren't complaining about getting a break. But Democrats may come to mourn the fact that they didn't field a serious challenge against Kasich, a possible 2016er, when the time comes to start organizing anew in Ohio. The GOP's decision to convene in Cleveland in two years looks smarter by the week."

Shaheen Up Big in New Poll

A new New England College poll in New Hampshire finds Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) leads Scott Brown (R) by double-digits, 51% to 40%.

Ernst Opens Up Lead in Iowa

A new Quinnipiac poll in Iowa finds Joni Ernst (R) leading Bruce Braley (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 50% to 44%.

Said pollster Peter Brown: "The tale of independent voters tells you all you need to know about the Iowa Senate race. These independents are perhaps the most important voter bloc in the electorate and Ernst is ahead 7 percentage points among them, just about her overall lead. The key to any comeback by Braley will be chipping away at her lead among independents."

The RCP polling average shows the race is a toss up.

Hickenlooper Trails in Colorado

A new Quinnipiac poll in Colorado shows Bob Beauprez (R) with a double-digit lead over Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) in the race for governor, 50% to 40%.

GOP Holds Big Lead in Generic Ballot

A new CBS News/New York Times poll finds Republicans hold a six-point edge in the generic congressional ballot among likely voters, 45% to 39%.

World Events Overwhelm Democratic Message

New York Times: "Events overseas have undermined Democrats' strategy to tie their midterm prospects to an economic theme that includes calls for a higher minimum wage, reducing income inequality, pay equity for women and help with college tuition. Instead, the public and Congress have been overwhelmed this summer by a border crisis, an Ebola outbreak in Africa and, most notably, the terrorist threat from the Islamic State, also known by the acronym ISIS."

"Democrats, pointing to President Obama's effectiveness in drawing an economic contrast with the Republican Mitt Romney in 2012 and to the 2006 midterm races in which they took over the House and the Senate, still believe the strategy is sound."

Archive: September 16, 2014

Grimm Leads in Re-Election Bid

A new Sienna College poll in New York's 11th congressional district finds Rep. Michael Grimm (R), despite being under federal indictment, is locked in a tight battle against challenger Domenic Recchia (D), 44% to 40%.

Democrats Build a Big Money Firewall

"If Democrats cling to their Senate majority this fall, it will be in large part because of a well-funded group connected to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that has helped build a formidable firewall around vulnerable incumbents," the Washington Post reports.

"Senate Majority PAC, fueled by billionaires and labor unions, has been the biggest-spending super PAC of the 2014 midterm contests. Together with an allied tax-exempt group, Patriot Majority, the pro-Democratic effort has poured at least $36 million into ads and voter outreach... The groups' early, aggressive presence in pivotal Senate races spotlights how, four years after being dramatically outgunned in the outside money game, Democrats are now some of its most adept players."

Princeton Professor Sees Democrats Holding Senate

Daily Beast: "The list of pundits, political analysts, and numbers-crunchers who are predicting Republicans will win control of the Senate in November is long, including Nate Silver of Five Thirty Eight. The folks at The New York Times' The Upshot are saying it could be a tie. But Sam Wang of Princeton stands almost alone in forecasting that the Democrats will just barely hold their Senate majority."

Wang's latest forecast finds Democrats have a 78% chance of holding control of the Senate.

Women Haul in the Big Bucks

Patricia Murphy: "One of the most persistent myths in politics -- that women shy away from campaigns because they don't 'have the stomach' for fundraising --is taking a beating this election cycle as women have emerged as top money makers, both for their own campaigns and on behalf of other candidates and national campaign committees."

Hagan Maintains Edge in North Carolina

A new Public Policy Polling survey in North Carolina finds Sen. Kay Hagan (D) leading challenger Thom Tillis (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 44% to 40%.

Kansas Justices to Decide Whether to Remove Taylor

Based on oral arguments, Rick Hasen thinks it is likely the Kansas Supreme Court will quickly issue an order removing Chad Taylor's (D) name from the ballot. The decision would be a big blow to Sen. Pat Roberts (R) who is fighting a challenge from Greg Orman (I).

A new poll shows Taylor still receiving 6% of the vote in the Kansas U.S. Senate race even though he's no longer campaigning and wants off the ballot.

Scott Ahead in Florida

A new SurveyUSA poll in Florida finds Gov. Rick Scott (R) with a 5 point lead over challenger Charlie Crist (D), 44% to 39%, with Libertarian Adrian Wyllie at 7% and 9% still undecided.

Bonus Quote of the Day

"Pat Quinn is not the folksy, bumbling fool he'd like us to think he is. He knows what he's doing. He knows what he's done."

-- Illinois gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner (R), quoted by the Chicago Sun Times.

Obama Stays Out of the Campaign

First Read: "Looking at the president's schedule this week, you'd be hard pressed to know that a major national election is just seven weeks away. It's painfully obvious that the White House has concluded that the best political assistance they can provide Democrats is for the president to go be president. And so this week, he's clearly embracing the commander-in-chief title, even when it comes to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa."

"So with exactly seven weeks until the midterm elections and with the president's approval ratings stuck in the low 40s (mid- to high 30s in many of the battlegrounds), Obama brandishing his commander-in-chief credentials also might be the best way for the White House to assist Democrats this fall."

Begich Still Leads in Alaska

A new Harstad Strategic Research poll in Alaska finds Sen. Mark Begich (D) leading challenger Dan Sullivan (R) in the U.S. Senate race by five points, 45% to 40%.

Shaheen Maintains Edge in New Hampshire

A new American Research Group poll in New Hampshire finds Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) leads challenger Scott Brown (R) in the U.S. Senate among likely voters, 50% to 45%.

Roberts Trails in Kansas

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Kansas finds Greg Orman (I) leading Sen. Pat Roberts (R) in the Senate race, 41% to 34%, with another 6% still choosing Chad Taylor (D) even though he's ended his campaign.

What Could Go Wrong for Republicans?

Charlie Cook: "Two things may be keeping Republican strategists up at night: money and the Democratic ground game. Perhaps the biggest untold story of this election is how so many Republican and conservative donors, at least those whose last name isn't Koch, have kept their checkbooks relatively closed... Many Republican and conservative donors appear to be somewhat demoralized after 2012. They feel that they were misled about the GOP's chances in both the presidential and senatorial races that year, and/or their money was not well spent. In short, they are giving less if at all, and it has put Republican candidates in a bind in a number of places."

"Another reason things might not turn out for Republicans is if the highly touted Democratic Senate ground game comes together. Clearly the Obama campaign and Democratic allies had a superior voter-identification and get-out-the-vote operation two years ago... In midterm elections, if Democrats can crank up the turnout among young, female, and minority voters, then their chances of success this year increase."

Democrats Rebound Slightly in Senate Forecast

Nate Silver says his Senate forecast "is pretty darned close."

"As you can see, there hasn't been an across-the-board shift. Republicans' odds have improved in several important races since the launch of our model. Democrats' odds have improved in several others. But the two states with the largest shifts have been Colorado and North Carolina -- in both cases, the movement has been in Democrats' direction. That accounts for most of the difference in the forecast."

Election Lab now shows Democrats with a 51% chance of retaining the Senate.

Scandal-Plagued Lawmakers Bounce Back

"For the bad boys of Congress, 2014 is shaping up to be an awfully good year," Politico reports.

"As they endure humiliating headlines, damaging federal investigations and tough scrutiny of their personal lives, scandal-tarred lawmakers aren't just surviving this midterm year. In many cases, they're thriving. By any traditional standard of acceptable behavior for politicians, they should be dead men walking."

Pryor Holds Lead in Arkansas

A new Answers Unlimited poll in Arkansas finds Sen. Mark Pryor (D) leads challenger Tom Cotton (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 46% to 42%.

Archive: September 15, 2014

Iowa is a True Toss Up

According to a Smart Politics analysis of U.S. Senate race ratings, the odds of a pick-up in Iowa's contest between Rep. Bruce Braley (D) and Joni Ernst (R) are closer to 50-50 than any other contest in the country, with Alaska close behind.

Obamacare Critic Won't Say How She's Covered

New Hampshire congressional candidate Marilinda Garcia (R), one of the most avid critics of Obamacare, declined to tell New Hampshire Public Radio to say how she gets her own health insurance coverage.

Dead Heat in New Hampshire

A new CNN poll shows New Hampshire's U.S. Senate contest in a dead heat with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and challenger Scott Brown (R) tied, 48% to 48%.

Democrats also released an internal poll claiming Shaheen had an eight point lead, 51% to 43%.

Kasich Headed for Landslide Win in Ohio

A new Columbus Dispatch poll in Ohio finds Gov. John Kasich (R) leading challenger Ed FitzGerald (D) in the race for governor by a 2-to-1 ratio, 59% to 29%.

Grimes Shoots

Alison Lundergran Grimes (D) has a new ad out featuring her skeet shooting and chastising Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) by saying, "Mitch, that's not how you hold a gun."

Hagan Widens Lead in North Carolina

A new American Insights poll in North Carolina finds Sen. Kay Hagan (D) with a nine point lead over challenger Thom Tillis (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 43% to 34%.

A new Elon University poll shows Hagan ahead by four points, 45% to 41%.

Bayh Will Not Run for Indiana Governor

Former Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh (D) told the Indianapolis Star that he won't try to win back his old job in 2016 was a "governing decision, not a political decision."

Said Bayh: "I didn't want to be a symbolic governor. I didn't want to just have the job for the title or for my ego. If I was going to run for governor and be governor, it was going to be because I had a realistic belief that I could get big, good things done for the people of Indiana. In the current political and legislative climate that was going to be problematic."

Revolt in Kansas Over Conservative Experiment

"Although every statewide elected official in Kansas is a Republican and President Obama lost the state by more than 20 points in the last election," Gov. Sam Brownback's (R) "proudly conservative policies have turned out to be so divisive and his tax cuts have generated such a drop in state revenue that they have caused even many Republicans to revolt," the New York Times reports.

"Projections put state budget shortfalls in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually, raising questions of whether the state can adequately fund education in particular."

"This has boosted the hopes of the Democratic candidate, Paul Davis, the State House minority leader, who has shot up in the polls even though he has offered few specifics about how he would run the state. Many disaffected Republicans might give Mr. Davis their vote because, if nothing else, he is not Mr. Brownback."

Martinez Looks Safe in New Mexico

A new Albuquerque Journal in New Mexico finds Gov. Susana Martinez (R) leading challenger Dave King (D) by a wide margin, 54% to 36%.

Voters Split on Generic Ballot

A new Politico poll finds the two parties "were closely matched on the 2014 ballot, with 42% of likely voters planning to vote Democratic and 41% picking Republicans."

"That's a slight shift in the Democratic direction since July, when a Politico poll showed Republicans with a 2-point edge. But the movement can largely be explained by a shift in the polling sample: Since the poll tests only states and congressional districts that are the most competitive in the country, that list now includes more Democratic-leaning seats."

Archive: September 14, 2014

Battle for the Senate is a Toss Up

Just as some prominent election prognosticators seem ready to give Republicans the Senate, two forecasting models show the battle is essentially a toss up.

The Upshot now gives Republicans a 52% chance of winning control of the upper chamber, while Election Lab gives the GOP a 50% chance. The Votemaster also has the race as a toss up.

For comparison, FiveThirtyEight gives Republicans a 58% chance of taking the Senate.

New Poll Finds Quinn Leading in Illinois

A new Chicago Tribune poll in Illinois finds Gov. Pat Quinn (D) leading challenger Bruce Rauner (R) in the race for governor by double-digits, 48% to 37%.

Nearly every other recent poll has shown Rauner leading this race.

Archive: September 13, 2014

Maher Picks Unlikely Target to Defeat

Comedian Bill Maher named Rep. John Kline (R-MN) "as the viewer-nominated GOP lawmaker the funnyman wants to oust from Congress in his 'Flip a District' challenge," The Hill reports. "But Maher will have a tough time trying to defeat Kline, who's not a top Democratic target and is expected to cruise to a seventh term."

The Fix: "As it happens, Kline faces a rematch this year with the same guy he beat by eight points in 2012, former state Rep. Mike Obermueller (D). Except Obermueller this time is dealing with a much less favorable environment. And the Cook Political Report, which has rated 29 Republican seats as being potentially in play in the 2014 election, doesn't even include Kline among the least-vulnerable on that list."

Archive: September 12, 2014

Democrats Solidify Leads in Must-Hold Senate Races

Nate Cohn: "A few months ago, the Democratic path to a Senate majority looked long and arduous... But today the Democratic path to victory looks as clear as it has at any point this year. That path remains narrow, to be sure. The Democrats will probably still need to sweep those five fairly close races. Yet with just two months to go, the Democrats appear to have an advantage in four of them. And the Democrats have other opportunities that might give them more breathing room."

"If Colorado and Michigan are penciled into the Democratic column, the Democrats would then need three more states to get to a majority. The Democrats have a fairly broad set of options for those states, but the likeliest possibility is that the election comes down to three states: Alaska, Iowa and North Carolina."

GOP Now Leads in the Generic Ballot

The HuffPost Pollster average shows Republicans have taken the lead in the generic congressional ballot for the first time this year.

GOP Lawmaker Dismisses Criticism for Male-Only Fundraiser

Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL) was criticized by challenger Gwen Graham (D) "for organizing a men only fund-raiser," the Tampa Bay Times reports.

The event included this on the invitations: "Tell the Misses not to wait up because the after dinner whiskey and cigars will be smooth & the issues to discuss are many."

Southerland laughed at the criticism: "I live with five women. That's all I'm saying. I live with five women. Listen: Has Gwen Graham ever been to a lingerie shower? Ask her. And how many men were there?"

GOP Voters Continue to be More Engaged

Pew Research: "Republican voters are 15 points more likely than Democrats to say they've given a lot of thought to the election, and 12 points more likely to say they definitely will vote. GOP voters also express more enthusiasm about voting in the upcoming midterm."

"As a result, while the so-called generic ballot among registered voters slightly favors the Democrats (47% plan to vote for the Democratic candidate, while 42% plan to vote Republican), the likely electorate is more favorable to the GOP than the overall electorate. When the generic ballot is narrowed to a subset of voters most likely to cast votes in November, the result is more divided: 47% support the Republican candidate, while 44% favor the Democrat."

Close Races in Georgia

A new Atlanta Journal Constitution poll in Georgia finds the race for governor is in a dead heat with Gov. Nathan Deal (R) barely ahead of challenger Jason Carter (D), 43% to 42%.

In the race for Senate, David Perdue (R) holds a slightly bigger lead over Michelle Nunn (D), 45% to 41%.

However, a new InsiderAdvantage poll finds Deal with a four point lead in the governor's race, 44% to 40%, and gives Perdue a 10 point lead in the Senate race, 50% to 40%.

Udall Leads in Colorado

A new Denver Post poll in Colorado finds Sen. Mark Udall (D) leads challenger Cory Gardner (R) by 4 percentage points in the U.S. Senate race, 46% to 42%.

GOP Holds Big Advantage in Midterms

A new Fox News poll finds likely voters prefer a Republican for Congress over a Democrats by a 47% to 40% margin.

"Recent Fox News polls of registered voters have shown a narrow Democratic advantage, although the lead bounced back and forth between the two parties for most of the spring and summer. Almost all Republicans and Democrats plan to vote for their party's candidate. Independents are twice as likely to say they would back the Republican over the Democrat, yet the largest number say they would vote for a third-party candidate or are still undecided."

In states with active U.S. Senate races, likely voters would back the Republican candidate in that race by a 48% to 39% margin. And when looking at the results in just the 14 Fox News battleground states, that GOP edge widens to 53% to 35% among likely voters.

Kansas Supreme Court Will Hear Senate Ballot Dispute

The Kansas Supreme Court said that it will hear the case of Chad Taylor (D), "a former Senate candidate who has filed a lawsuit seeking to be removed from the ballot. The outcome of the case could carry substantial implications in the battle for the Senate majority," the Washington Post reports.

"In a two-page order, Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss said the court will hear oral arguments on Tuesday morning. It will not be heard by a district court, as requested by Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R)."

GOP Leads Most Governor's Races

Nate Cohn: "Republicans hold a narrow but broad advantage across this year's governor's contests, according to the newest round of data from The New York Times/CBS News/YouGov online panel of more than 100,000 respondents. They hold at least a nominal lead in 22 of this year's 35 governor's races."

"The sizable Republican advantage is mainly a reflection of incumbency. The Republicans won 23 of 37 states in 2010, and all but three of those Republicans are running for re-election this year. The three retiring Republicans are all from red states."

Archive: September 11, 2014

Hickenlooper in Tight Re-Election Race

A new Denver Post poll in Colorado finds Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) barely ahead of challenger Bob Beauprez (R) in the race for governor, 45% to 43%.

Hagan Up in North Carolina

A new Civtas poll in North Carolina finds that Sen. Kay Hagan (D) leads challenger Thom Tillis (R) in their race for the U.S. Senate, 46% to 43%.

A new Rasmussen survey finds Hagan ahead by six points, 45% to 39%.

Peters Holds Wide Lead in Michigan

A new Suffolk University poll in Michigan finds Gary Peters (D) leading Terri Lynn Land (R) in the U.S. Senate race by nine points, 46% to 37%.

Said pollster David Paleologos: "Recent independent ads linking Terri Lynn Land to the Koch brothers appear to be working. Land's favorability is upside-down, with a higher unfavorable rating."

Meanwhile, the race for the governor is much tighter, with Mark Schauer (D) leading Gov. Rick Snyder (R) by two points, 45% to 43%.

Big Gender Gap Keeps Democrats in the Game

First Read: "In our latest survey, women preferred a Democratic-controlled Congress by seven points, 47%-40%. Although that's down from our previous polls and although Republicans have an ever bigger lead among men (12 points), do note that our Sept. 2010 NBC/WSJ poll showed Democrats with just a three-point edge among female voters, 46%-43%. Bottom line: Democrats holding on to the Senate will largely come down to whether they win women by double digits in November."

GOP Mobilizes to Save Roberts

"The GOP's political machine is kicking into overdrive to save a Senate seat in Kansas that's suddenly complicating its path to the majority," Politico reports.

"With polls showing Sen. Pat Roberts in serious trouble against independent Greg Orman, top Senate Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, are leaning on big-ticket donors to fill the long-time Kansas senator's campaign coffers. Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and John McCain of Arizona are planning to barnstorm the state on Roberts' behalf. And in a bid to boost the senator's sagging poll numbers, the Roberts campaign is planning an ad blitz to cast his long record and seniority in Washington in a more positive light."

GOP Senate Increasingly Likely

Larry Sabato: "For several months, we've held steady on our range of expected gains for Republicans in the Senate: a net of four to eight seats. With Labor Day in the rearview mirror and with less than 55 days to go until the midterms, we're giving Republicans a slight bump: Our new range is a Republican net of five to eight Senate seats."

"This means that the best-case scenario we can now envision for Democrats is a 50-50 tie in the Senate, with Vice President Joe Biden's tiebreaking vote narrowly keeping Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) as majority leader."

"The likeliest outcome remains a Republican gain of six or seven seats, which we noted before Labor Day and stand by now. That would be good for a narrow 51-49 or 52-48 Republican Senate majority."

The Hill: "Senate Republicans are brimming with confidence they will be in the majority next year -- and say Democrats are beginning to acknowledge privately that harsh political reality."

McConnell Holds Solid Lead in Kentucky

A new Magellan Strategies poll in Kentucky finds Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) leads Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) in the U.S. Senate race by eight points, 50% to 42%, with Libertarian David Patterson at 6%

Ernst Just Ahead in Iowa

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Iowa finds Joni Ernst (R) with a slight lead over Bruce Braley (D) in the race for Senate, 45% to 43%.

Wolf Headed for Landslide

A new Quinnipiac poll in Pennsylvania finds Tom Wolf (D) has a commanding 24-point lead over Gov. Tom Corbett (R) among likely Pennsylvania voters with a little more than seven weeks until the election, 59% to 35%.

Archive: September 10, 2014

The Midterm Tipping Point?

First Read: "The other major headline from our new NBC/WSJ poll is how Republicans have the clear advantage heading into November's midterms. Two-thirds of voters believe the country is headed in the wrong direction -- a higher percentage than at this point in the 2006 and 2010 midterm elections. Obama's overall approval rating stands at 40%, tied for his all-time low in the poll. And Republicans hold a two-point advantage, 45%-43%, on which party should control Congress. That margin expands to 10 points - 50%-40% - in the states holding this year's most-competitive Senate contests."

Scott Brown's Lady Problems

Stephen Colbert absolutely skewered Scott Brown on his show last night. It's hilarious.

Quote of the Day

"Someone came up and said, 'Hey, you know, I'd love to meet Scott.' ... He said, 'I always thought Scott was kind of a phony from Massachusetts.' And I said, you gotta sit down with him, because -- he sat down, they had their little conversation, he walked away. You know what he said? He goes, 'That guy was -- he's not a -- he's a phony from New Hampshire that just happened to live in Massachusetts for a little while. He's more New Hampshire than most people we have in New Hampshire.'"

-- New Hampshire GOP official Chris Sununu, quoted by the Washington Post, introducing New Hampshire U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown (R).

Snyder Clings to Narrow Lead in Michigan

A new Detroit News-WDIV poll in Mihchigan shows Gov. Rick Snyder (R) leading challenger Mark Schauer (D), 44% to 42%.

Said pollster Richard Czuba: "The dynamics are not the same as they were four years ago. This is a true toss-up."

Nunn Closes the Gap with Perdue

A new SurveyUSA poll in Georgia finds David Perdue's (R) lead over Michelle Nunn (D) went from 9 points to 3 in he last three weeks ago, 57% to 44%.

In the race for governor, Jason Carter (D) edges Gov. Nathan Deal (R), 45% to 44%.

GOP Uses Middle East Crisis in Midterms

Politico: "In campaigns across the country, Republicans are seizing on what they call the Obama administration's feckless response to Islamic State militants as part of a broader case to voters to turn against Democrats in November. Their argument: Barack Obama is a disengaged figure whose power needs to be checked."

Foley Leads in Connecticut

A new Quinnipiac poll in Connecticut finds Tom Foley (R) leads Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) by 6 percentage points, 46% to 40%.

Rounds Well Ahead in South Dakota

A new Survey USA poll in South Dakota finds Mike Rounds (R) comfortably ahead of Rick Weiland (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 39% to 28%, with Larry Pressler (I) at 25%.

Archive: September 09, 2014

Tierney Ousted in Massachusetts Primary

Rep. John Tierney (D-MA) "has conceded in his Democratic primary race against upstart Seth Moulton (D), an Iraq War veteran who waged a strong campaign against his fellow Democrat," the Boston Globe reports.

"Moulton, a Harvard University graduate and Marine veteran, went after Tierney with negative advertising that claimed he'd passed just one bill in his 18 years in Washington, D.C."

Crist Slightly Ahead in Florida

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Florida finds Charlie Crist (D) leading Gov. Rick Scott (R) in the race for governor, 42% to 39%.

Heidemann Abruptly Quits in Nebraska

Nebraska Lt. Gov. LaVon Heidemann (R) has resigned, the Omaha World-Herald reports.

Heidemann also quit as running mate for Pete Ricketts (R), just one day "after a court issued a protection order to his sister, who alleged that he grabbed her wrist and pushed her in a quarrel over their elderly mother."

Peters Widens Lead in Michigan

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Michigan finds Gary Peters (D) matching his largest lead ever over Terri Lynn Land (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 43% to 36%, with third party candidates combining for 7%.

Key finding: "The story of the race is Land's continually declining favorability. She has dropped a net 28 points since December, from starting out at +11 (34/23) to falling all the way down now to -17 (32/49). Michigan is a Democratic state to begin with, and Peters is getting 12% of the Republican vote, while only 5% of Democrats say they're going to vote for Land."

In the race for governor, Gov. Rick Snyder (R) is barely ahead of Mark Schauer (D), 43% to 42%.

Kasich Holds Big Lead in Ohio

A new Akron Buckeye Poll in Ohio finds Gov. John Kasich (R) with a solid lead over challenger Ed Fitzgerald (D), 40% to 21%, with a large 39% still undecided.

An Ugly Election Ahead for Democrats

Charlie Cook: "The Democrats whom I have talked and emailed with in recent weeks seem increasingly resigned to an ugly midterm election. Of course, it's not likely to be the wipeout that 2010 was--after all, in the House, the best news for Democrats is that you can't lose seats you don't have. After losing 63 seats in 2010 and getting only eight back in 2012, Democrats don't have that many more they can lose."

"While the contest for the majority in the Senate has many facets, none is more important than whether Democrats can hold onto any of their six most vulnerable seats: those that are up in states that Mitt Romney carried in 2012. Three of them--the open seats in Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia--look pretty hopeless for Democrats. The remaining three incumbents--Mark Begich in Alaska, where Romney won by 14 points; Mark Pryor in Arkansas, which Romney carried by 24 points; and Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, where Romney won by 17 points--all look increasingly problematic for Democrats... If Democrats get wiped out in red states, that could be the whole ball game when it comes to Senate control."

Republicans Move to the Middle

"With primary season over, the GOP is beginning to inch back to the center," The Hill reports.

"Republican Senate and House candidates have begun to loudly embrace more moderate policies such as an increase in the minimum wage and over-the-counter birth control in an effort to win over swing voters and soften their image. GOP strategists say the battle between now and Election Day to decide control of the Senate and the size of Republicans' House majority will focus on that sliver of voters in the middle."

Archive: September 08, 2014

Orman Leads Roberts in Kansas

A new SurveyUSA poll in Kansas finds Greg Orman (I) leading Sen. Pat Roberts (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 37% to 36%.

Chad Taylor (D), who dropped out of the race but may remain on the ballot, would get 10%.

Congressional Approval at Just 14%

"With less than two months to go before the midterm congressional elections, 14% of Americans approve of how Congress is handling its job. This rating is one of the lowest Gallup has measured in the fall before a midterm election since 1974."

Republicans Set to Gain at Least 7 Senate Seats

Stu Rothenberg: "While the current Rothenberg Political Report ratings don't show it, I am now expecting a substantial Republican Senate wave in November, with a net gain of at least seven seats. But I wouldn't be shocked by a larger gain."

"I've witnessed 17 general elections from my perch in D.C., including eight midterms, and I sometimes develop a sense of where the cycle is going before survey data lead me there. Since my expectations constitute little more than an informed guess, I generally keep them to myself. This year is different. I am sharing them with you."

Roberts Has Only Been Home 7 Times This Year

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) said he's "damn proud" to live in Dodge City, KS but added he's only been home "about seven times" this year, BuzzFeed reports.

Baseball Could Decide the Midterm Elections

Roll Call: "For most of the country, this October's television airwaves are filled with two things -- baseball and politics -- and the two rarely mix. But the mid-autumn climax of Major League Baseball could impact the Senate playing field in key states where teams are primed to make the playoffs. Televised sports make for a desirable market for political advertisers because viewers are less likely to record and fast-forward through commercials."

Braley Has Lead in Iowa

A new Loras College poll in Iowa finds Bruce Braley (D) leading Joni Ernst (R) in the U.S. Senate race by four points, 45% to 41%.

Why the Battle for the Senate Matters

Morning Line: "It's easy to dismiss this election and say it doesn't matter all that much, because there will be continued gridlock. And in a lot of ways, because of the 60 vote threshold to pass almost any legislation, that's true. But here are two reasons why the election does matter: (1) this is an obvious one, but it's about tone and power positioning. For the first two years of the Obama presidency, Washington was dominated by Democrats. Then one piece shifted to Republicans with their taking the House after the 2010 midterms. Obama was re-elected in 2012 and Democrats held the Senate but now that is threatened. If Republicans take the Senate, it will be a further erosion of this president's leverage in his last two years. (2) A more practical and overlooked area is judges. When Majority Leader Harry Reid changed the rules to require just just a simple majority to fill lower court vacancies, this president has been able to fast track his nominees. If Republicans control the chamber, it will be much harder for this president to get them through."

Said Jeff Greenfield: "With control over the Senate machinery and all committees, I'm not sure Obama could put a single federal judge on the bench-not to mention the end of whatever domestic agenda he might have."

Tierney in Tight Primary Fight

Three new polls -- from Emerson College, Public Policy Polling and Remington Research -- find Rep. John Tierney (D-MA) in an unexpectedly tight primary race with challenger Seth Moulton (D).

Reed Will Raise Money for Carter

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (D) "says he will host a fundraiser for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter later this month. Reed divulged the plan exclusively to 11Alive News, ending an impasse in one of the year's most unlikely political dramas."

Said Reed: "I said that I was going to support the nominee of the party and I'm getting ready to do more for Jason Carter more than he ever did for me."

Politics of Terror Returns

"The politics of terrorism have returned with a vengeance for the midterm elections," The Hill reports.

"National security dominated the first election cycles after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, with Democrats fearful of being labeled unpatriotic if they criticized then-President George W. Bush. The Republican advantage eroded years later as public opinion soured against the Iraq War. By the time President Obama sought reelection in 2012, he was able to tout the killing of Osama bin Laden to portray Democrats as the party of strength in foreign policy."

"But now, with the 13th anniversary of 9/11 just days away, Obama and the Democrats are back on the defensive."

How the GOP Can Win the Senate

The AP lists five ways the GOP can win control of the U.S. Senate in the midterm elections.

Archive: September 07, 2014

Clear Path to Senate Majority Opens for Republicans

Nate Silver: "Pollsters are picking up the pace after a slow start in this midterm election season... The bottom line is not much has changed. The FiveThirtyEight forecast model gives Republicans a 65.1% chance of winning the Senate with the new polling added, similar to the 63.5% chance that our previous forecast gave them on Friday."

"But the path to a Republican majority is becoming a little clearer -- and the problem for Democrats is that it runs through six deeply red states."

Meanwhile, The Upshot gives Republicans a 61% chance of taking the Senate.

McConnell Opens Up Lead in Kentucky

A new NBC/Marist poll in Kentucky finds Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) has opened up an eight point lead over challenger Alison Grimes (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 47% to 39%.

Cotton Leads in Arkansas

A new NBC/Marist poll in Arkansas finds Tom Cotton (R) leads Mark Pryor (D) by five points in the U.S. Senate race, 45% to 40%.

Udall Holds Lead in Colorado

A new NBC/Marist poll in Colorado finds Sen. Mark Udall (D) leads challenger Cory Gardner (R) by six points in the U.S. Senate race, 48% to 42%.

Archive: September 06, 2014

Scott Holds Slight Edge in Florida

A new Mason-Dixon poll in Florida shows Gov. Rick Scott (R) leading challenger Charlie Crist (D) in the governor's race, 43% to 41%.

Cuomo Briefly Campaigns

Three days before the Democratic primary on Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) "lurched into re-election mode on Saturday with a pair of campaign stops in Manhattan and Queens," the New York Times reports.

"It was his first political outing of the campaign season, and a modest one at that. But it also offered a preview of how Mr. Cuomo, who is seeking a second term, plans to frame his case for re-election as the general election in November approaches."

Obama Will Delay Immigration Action Until After Elections

President Obama "will delay executive action on immigration until after the midterm elections, White House officials said Saturday, a bow to political pressure from Democrats in tough Senate races who had complained the expected action could hurt their campaigns," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"The delay breaks Mr. Obama's promise, broadcast from the Rose Garden in June, that he would act on his own by summer's end to set new policy on immigration. It was widely expected that Mr. Obama would act without Congress to scale back deportations of illegal immigrants and possibly offer work permits to many people in the U.S. illegally. Now, the White House is saying that the president will act by year's end."

Roberts Set to Debate Independent Challenger

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) "is preparing for his first debate with a surprisingly strong independent campaign challenger in a race that has become an unexpected battleground in the broader fight for control of the Senate," the AP reports.

"The race was upended this week. Democrat Chad Taylor ended his campaign, presumably boosting Orman's chances. Meanwhile, Roberts overhauled his struggling campaign."

Archive: September 05, 2014

Quote of the Day

"Mr. Brown, tear up those talking points. For heaven's sake, you vote with President Obama more than you vote with the Republican Party."

-- Bob Smith (R), quoted by the Concord Monitor, in a GOP Senate debate with Scott Brown (R).

Parnell Campaign Mistakenly Sent Political Email

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell's (R) "re-election campaign mistakenly sent a fundraising email to an unknown number of state employee inboxes, prompting the state Department of Administration to quickly notify all 18,000 employees that using state resources for 'partisan political purposes' is illegal," the Alaska Dispatch News reports.

The Clinton Factor

Morning Line: "While everyone is focused on what Hillary Clinton will do in 2016, don't look beyond this election so quickly and what Bill Clinton is doing. Friday, for example, he's in Florida stumping in Miami for Charlie Crist, the once critical former Republican governor trying to win again as governor -- this time as a Democrat. Flying below the radar, Clinton has been to Kentucky twice for Alison Lundergan Grimes and will be in Iowa next week for the Harkin Steak Fry."

Politico notes that Clinton has done "more than 20 events for Democratic hopefuls from Florida to Kentucky to Rhode Island as the party's most sought-after surrogate and rainmaker... It's President Barack Obama whom many campaigns are steering clear of, and Bill Clinton who is in high demand."

A Non-Wave Election

Charlie Cook: "Now that Labor Day is behind us, the most remarkable thing about this midterm election is how little has changed since Memorial Day. In the closest and most crucial contest, for control of the U.S. Senate, only the race in Kansas looks fundamentally different than it did three months ago."

"One question has become more pressing as Election Day nears: Where is the Republican wave? For Democrats, the good news is that there doesn't appear to be an overwhelming Republican tide this year; the bad news is that Democrats could well lose the Senate even without such a wave. Six of the most competitive races are Democratic-held seats in states that Mitt Romney carried by 14 points or more. With a map like that, Republicans don't need to dominate the country; they just have to win some select states."

Cotton Has Edge in Arkansas

A new CNN/ORC International poll in Arkansas finds Tom Cotton (R) leading Sen. Mark Pryor (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 49% to 47%.

Cassidy Has Edge in Louisiana

A new Rasmussen poll in Louisiana finds Bill Cassidy (R) leading Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) in the U.S. Senate, 44% to 41%.

Rauner Maintains Lead in Illinois

A new We Ask America poll in Illinois finds Bruce Rauner (R) topping Gov. Pat Quinn (D) in the race for governor, 46% to 37%, with Libertarian Chad Grimm at 7%.

Brown Way Ahead in California

A new Field poll in California finds Gov. Jerry Brown (D) crushing challenger Neel Kashkari (R) in the race for governor, 50% to 34%.

Burke Leads in Wisconsin

A new We Ask America poll in Wisconsin finds Mary Burke (D) leading Gov. Scott Walker (R) in the race for governor, 48% to 44%.

Archive: September 04, 2014

Taylor Will Remain on Ballot in Kansas

Chad Taylor (D), who attempted to withdraw his U.S. Senate bid in Kansas yesterday, will remain on the general election ballot, Secretary of State Kris Kobach ruled, the Kansas City Star reports.

Taylor did not properly declare that he was incapable of fulfilling his duties if elected as state law requires.

This will almost certainly end up in court.

GOP Takes Over Roberts Senate Campaign

National Republicans "moved to take control of the campaign" of Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), "a day after his hopes for re-election and those of his party for taking control of the Senate were threatened by the sudden withdrawal of the Democrat in the race," the New York Times reports.

The NRSC "is sending a longtime party strategist to Kansas to advise Mr. Roberts and will seek to hire a local lawyer to challenge the move by the Democrat, Chad Taylor, to get off the ballot on the last day candidates were allowed to do so."

Markell Apologizes for Sexy Model Photo

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) "is creating a stir on Twitter this morning after a suggestive photo was included in a tweet from his account," the Wilmington News Journal reports.

"Markell apologized via twitter, saying his staff was attempting to determine how the photo of a scantily clad adult female was included in a tweet promoting an education initiative to assist the state's most disadvantaged students."

Democrat Could Remain on Ballot in Kansas

Despite filing papers with the Kansas secretary of State to withdraw from the U.S. Senate race, Chad Taylor (D) could be stuck on the ballot this fall, The Hill reports.

"Two election law statutes have raised questions about whether Taylor gave sufficient cause to remove himself from the ballot, and, if so, whether Democrats must ultimately choose a candidate to replace him."

Rick Hasen: "This could well end up in court, and I don't have a good sense for how the courts would rule on this question."

Roberts Stopped Campaigning After Primary

The Rothenberg Political Report says that Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) "has not been actively campaigning for about a month now."

"The lack of a strong campaign infrastructure is one of the fundamental reasons why Roberts is in severe danger. He can't count on the the traditionally red hue of Kansas in federal races to bail him out. Senate Minority Mitch McConnell is a long-time incumbent with deep negatives, but the sheer past performance of Kentucky would not be enough to pull him to victory in this environment. He has been running one of the most aggressive campaigns in the country for years. The same cannot be said for Roberts."

Quote of the Day

"If we can't build a fence high enough... we ought to go to China and see how they built a wall."

-- Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R), quoted by the Bangor Daily News, on illegal immigration.

Actor Accused in Sex Crime Appears in Campaign Ad

The actor featured in a campaign ad for Kansas gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis (D) "was previously suspended from a teaching job in connection with inappropriate conduct with a student and had been arrested in connection with solicitation of sodomy in a law enforcement sting," the Topeka Capital-Journal reports.

Davis's campaign pulled the commercial and apologized for including the actor in the spot.

Will Senate Control Hinge on Kansas?

Sam Wang looks at the stunning news that Chad Taylor (D) dropped his Senate bid in Kansas allowing Greg Orman (I) to have a clear shot at taking down Sen. Pat Roberts (R).

"An Orman win could have a seismic effect on who controls the Senate. Orman says that he would caucus with the Senate's two other independents, Bernie Sanders and Angus King. Both Sanders and King currently caucus with the Democrats. To be fair, Orman is not just a Democrat in disguise-he has promised to vote out Democrat Harry Reid as Majority Leader if he gets the chance. But Orman says that he wants to break the current gridlock in the Senate, and Senate Republicans have been gumming up the works on legislation and judicial appointments. So while Orman would be far from a shoo-in to vote for every Democratic position, he would certainly not be involved in any alliances with the Republicans."

First Read: "The Republican Party in Kansas is bitterly divided. Roberts has his own set of problems, thanks to missteps that only reinforce the image that he's gone too Washington. And in this political environment, it's a big problem. Couple the two issues together -- a divided state GOP and a bitter electorate at all things Washington -- and suddenly you see a true bipartisan populist uprising of sorts that could start shaking more than just Kansas."

10 Midterm Races That May Impact 2016

National Journal: "With just 62 days to go until Election Day, the focus of the political world is on the 2014 midterms. Senate control hangs in the balance, and a number of highly competitive, currently neck-and-neck races will help determine who comes out on top."

"But what happens on November 4 has a big impact for the 2016 election as well. There are many pivotal Senate, gubernatorial, and even down-ballot contests that carry implications for the next presidential race, some involving future White House prospects and others from parties testing future messages."

Presidential Approval or Generic Ballot?

Nate Cohn: "Usually, election watchers can get a good read on the mood of the electorate by looking at presidential approval ratings or at the generic ballot, which asks voters which party they would prefer to control Congress. Historically, they're fairly interchangeable. Leo happens to use the generic ballot; the Washington Post's Monkey Cage blog uses the president's approval rating."

"This year, the two metrics are not so interchangeable. Mr. Obama's approval ratings are stuck in the low 40s -- around 42 percent... That's lower than at this time in 2010, so it's easy to see why so many have taken the president's ratings as a sign of an impending catastrophe for Democrats.... The generic ballot, on the other hand, puts the Democrats ahead by about 2 points among registered voters. That's nothing like 2010, when the Republicans had opened a 3-point lead on the generic ballot by early September after making steady gains over the summer."

Archive: September 03, 2014

Democrat Drops Senate Bid in Kansas

The race for U.S. Senate in Kansas "no longer has a Democrat," the Wichita Eagle reports.

Chad Taylor (D) "dropped out of the race Wednesday, opening up room for independent candidate Greg Orman to face Sen. Pat Roberts (R) head-on in November... Taylor's decision to drop out comes on the same day that Orman was endorsed by more than 70 former Republican lawmakers."

DNC Chief Says Walker's Policies are Like Domestic Violence

DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz ripped Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) policies by comparing them to acts of domestic violence against women, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Said Schultz: "Scott Walker has given women the back of his hand. I know that is stark. I know that is direct. But that is reality. What Republican Tea Party extremists like Scott Walker are doing is they are grabbing us by the hair and pulling us back. It is not going to happen on our watch."

GOP Favored to Take Control of Senate

The latest FiveThirtyEight forecast gives Republicans a 64% chance of winning control of the U.S. Senate.

Key takeaway: "An equally important theme is the high degree of uncertainty around that outcome. A large number of states remain competitive, and Democrats could easily retain the Senate. It's also possible that the landscape could shift further in Republicans' direction. Our model regards a true Republican wave as possible: It gives the party almost a 25 percent chance of finishing with 54 or more Senate seats once all the votes are counted."

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

"I am not going to create one job, it is not my job to create jobs. It's yours."

-- Scott Brown (R), quoted by TPM, at a campaign stop in New Hampshire.

McConnell Leads in Kentucky

A new CNN/ORC International poll in Kentucky finds Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) holds a slim four point edge over challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes (D), 50% to 46%.

Key finding: "What might be a troubling data point for Grimes is the number of Democrats -- 16% -- who said they are supporting or leaning towards supporting McConnell."

A new Rasmussen survey has McConnell ahead by five points, 46% to 41%.

What If Republicans Don't Win the Senate?

First Read: "The GOP got all of its desired candidates in the top Senate races -- meaning there isn't a flawed Christine O'Donnell, Todd Akin, or Sharron Angle... Republicans not winning back the Senate and not picking up double-digit House seats could be a nightmare for the party. For one thing, it will hurt recruiting in 2016 (which expects to be a tougher year map- and electorate-wise). It could spark leadership fights. And it would rekindle the central ideological debate inside the party -- should it be more conservative or more pragmatic? (Conservatives will argue if the party comes up short, that the compromise candidates didn't fire up the base; the establishment wing will argue that the brand damage done by the conservative wing was to blame.)"

"Currently, there are two schools of thought among Republicans. One school (those focused on the Senate races) is that winning back the Senate is the end-all, be all. But the other school of thought (especially those with an eye on 2016) is that they'd prefer coming JUST short of Senate control, because a GOP in charge of both the House and Senate could potentially help Hillary Clinton. But don't underestimate the negative consequences of a Republican Party coming up short with this map and in this political climate."

Democrats Have Ground Game Advantage

GOP sources tell Politico "that an ambitious Democratic turnout initiative will give the party a potentially significant 1- or 2-percentage point boost in some key states."

Senate Forecast Barely Gives Republicans the Edge

The Washington Post's forecasting model now suggests Republicans have only a 52% chance of winning control of the U.S. Senate -- down from an 86% chance in July.

"It's not that races have narrowed, but that the model has begun weighting information differently -- mainly by (a) incorporating polling data (where possible) after the relevant primaries, and by (b) increasing the weight that polls have in the forecast. What this suggests is that in several states, Democrats are arguably 'out-performing' the fundamentals."

Rauner Belongs to $100K Wine Club

Despite flaunting his $18 watch in campaign ads, the Chicago Sun Times reports that Illinois gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner (R) disclosed that he belongs to a an "exclusive wine club that cost upward of $100,000 to join."

Coakley Has Solid Lead in New Massachusetts Poll

A new University of Massachusetts at Lowell poll finds Martha Coakley (D) leading Charlie Baker (R) in the race for governor by nine points, 41% to 32%, with venture capitalist Jeff McCormick (I) at 7%.

GOP Leads in Generic Ballot as Most See Nation Off Track

A new George Washington University Battleground Poll finds that 70% of likely voters nationwide feel that the country is on the wrong track. Just 21% say that the nation is headed in the right direction.

Republicans hold an edge on a generic congressional ballot, 46% to 42%. In states with a competitive U.S. Senate race, the GOP has a 16-point advantage on this generic ballot, 52% to 36%.

Said pollster Ed Goeas: "All of these measures exceed where the GOP was at this point in the 2010 cycle."

Cuomo Avoids Talk of Campaign

Next Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (D) name "will appear on the Democratic primary ballot across New York State. But in the meantime, he seems determined to avoid discussing his re-election much at all," the New York Times reports.

"For months, Mr. Cuomo, who is heavily favored to win a second term, has seldom discussed his candidacy. During the legislative session, which ended in June, he responded to questions about politics by imploring reporters to wait until the political season."

Durbin Holds Small Lead in Illinois

A new Harper Polling survey in Illinois finds Sen. Dick Durbin (D) with a six point lead over challenger Jim Oberweis (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 44% to 38%.

Scott Holds Lead in Florida

A new Tampa Bay Times poll in Florida finds Gov. Rick Scott (R) leading challenger Charlie Crist (D) in the race for governor, 41% to 36%, with Libertarian Adrian Wyllie at 6%.

A new Gravis Marketing survey shows the race tied, 37% to 37%, with 26% still undecided.

Archive: September 02, 2014

Nunn Holds Slight Edge in Georgia

A new WRBL/Ledger-Enquirer/PMB poll in Georgia finds Michelle Nunn (D) holds a slight lead over David Perdue (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 45% to 43%.

In the race for governor, Gov. Nathan Deal (R) leads challenger Jason Carter (D), 44% to 42%.

Wolf Maintains Huge Lead in Pennsylvania

A new Robert Morris University Polling Institute poll in Pennsylvania finds Tom Wolf (D) leads Gov. Tom Corbett (R) by a wide margin, 56% to 25%, among likely voters.

Quote of the Day

"Well they can come over and do same-day registration and say they want to come down and vote. So if they feel compelled to do so, come on down."

-- Scott Brown (R), quoted by, encouraging out-of-state voters to vote for him in New Hampshire.

Power of Incumbency Could Save Democrats

Morning Line: "Incumbents traditionally have an advantage because voters in those states have already elected them statewide, giving them natural bases -- and fundraising networks and turnout operations -- to get 50 percent. What's more, the candidates Democrats have in some of these red states are legacy candidates. In other words, not only are they personally well known, their families are too. The Landrieus, Pryors, Begiches, and Udalls are near political royalty in their respective states. But will their personal dynasties pay the dividends needed this fall and be enough to overcome the national environment? It could be for some but not for others. How many survive could be the difference between a Democratic and Republican Senate for the last two years of Obama's presidency."

Kentuckians Don't Want Paul Running for Two Offices

A new SurveyUSA poll in Kentucky finds that two-thirds of registered voters in the state -- including a majority of Republicans -- oppose changing the law to it easier for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to run for president and re-election at the same time.

Landrieu Attacked for Representing Washington, DC

A new American Crossroads ad attacking Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) is just brutal and very effective.

Alaska Democrats Back Independent for Governor

"The Alaska Democratic Party broke with long tradition Monday when its central committee voted 89-2 to not field a gubernatorial ticket and instead put its weight behind the independent campaign of Bill Walker and Byron Mallott," the Alaska Dispatch News reports.

"The vote to support the fusion ticket was contingent on Walker dropping his Republican Party affiliation. Mallott will quit as the Democratic Party's nominee for governor, as will his running mate, state Sen. Hollis French. But Mallott will remain a Democrat, executive director Kay Brown said after the vote at party headquarters in a Spenard bungalow."

Why Republicans Hold an Midterm Edge

Morning Line: "First, with primary season all but wrapped up -- Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island hold the last primaries next Tuesday -- Republicans have done all they can structurally to prevent problematic candidates from emerging, unlike in years past. But most importantly, it's where these races are taking place -- largely in conservative-leaning states. In fact, of the 12 states with competitive Senate races that are likely to decide the outcome of control of the Senate, Republican Mitt Romney won nine of them in the 2012 presidential election by an average of 16 points. And that's in a year when Republicans lost the Electoral College by 126 votes. (Republicans need to net six states seats to wrest control.)"

"What's more, if you add in the three states won by President Obama, Republicans still have an 11-point advantage. Democrats are defending more states -- 10 of the 12 are seats held by Democrats. And the two Democratic targets are in states Romney won by an average of 15 points. Plus, the demographics of who shows up in midterm elections favor Republicans. The electorate in midterms is generally whiter, older, more likely to be married and have better paying jobs."

The 10 Most Vulnerable Senators

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) tops the Roll Call list of the most vulnerable senators.


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