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."

Scott Delayed Execution for Fundraiser

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) admitted in a debate against challenger Charlie Crist (D) that he delayed an execution to accommodate the political fundraising schedule of the Attorney General.

Listen In on the Palin Family Brawl

TMZ has police audio from the recent Palin family brawl.

Listen carefully and you can hear Sarah Palin in the background telling daughter Bristol not to cuss during her statement.

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.

GOP Staffer Pleads Guilty to Embezzling $1.8 Million

"Former David Dewhurst (R) campaign manager Kenneth 'Buddy' Barfield is facing up to 28 years in prison and millions in fines and restitution payments after pleading guilty Tuesday to embezzling nearly $1.8 million from the outgoing lieutenant governor's failed 2012 bid for U.S. Senate," the Houston Chronicle 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."

Gary Hart Tapped as Envoy to Northern Ireland

The State Department has named former Sen. Gary Hart (D-CO) to be its newest envoy to Northern Ireland, the AP reports.

Secretary of State John Kerry said Hart "will help smooth negotiations in the new round of power-sharing talks among the government's five-party coalition."

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."

Christie Says He's Tired of Hearing About the Minimum Wage

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said he doesn't want anymore discussion about the minimum wage, TPM reports.

Said Christie: "I gotta tell you the truth, I'm tired of hearing about the minimum wage, I really am."

He added: "I don't think there's a mother or father sitting around a kitchen table tonight in America who are saying, 'You know honey, if my son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my God, all our dreams would be realized," he added. "Is that what parents aspire to for their children?"

'Mr. President, Don't Touch My Girlfriend'

President Obama proved he has a good sense of humor while voting early in Chicago.

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

"I mean, realistically, my political career is probably over."

-- Former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D), quoted by Politico, reflecting on the sexting scandal that forced him to resign from Congress.

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%.

What Is Russia Up To Now?

Foreign Policy: "What first sounded like something straight out of a Tom Clancy novel is turning out to be Moscow's first serious test of Western resolve since the invasion of Crimea earlier this year. While details are patchy and the situation is still unfolding, three separate credible eyewitness accounts and a photo showing a dark structure descending into the shallow waters of the Baltic Sea seem to confirm the presence of a foreign submarine or mini-sub some 30 miles from Stockholm. If so, this would be a major escalation of tensions in the Baltic Sea region."

"Adding to the mystery are other reports of a North Sea-bound Russian container ship sailing under a Liberian flag hovering outside Swedish territorial waters. Defense analysts have speculated that this might be the submarine's mother ship. In response to these chilling developments, the Swedish military has launched one of its biggest military operations in decades, involving some 200 men, a number of stealth ships, minesweepers, and helicopters to locate the suspected sub and its crew."

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%.

Senate Math May Hinge on Kansas and Georgia

Charlie Cook: "The prospects remain very tough for Democrats to hold onto their majority in the Senate, but there is a new scenario emerging--albeit still unlikely--that is turning the majority math a bit on its head."

"As I have said previously, Republicans need a net gain of six seats to take the majority. The question has generally been whether Republicans just need to knock off six Democratic seats to get to 51, or if they will need to gross seven seats in order to net six. Now there appears to be a real question as to whether Republicans may need to gross eight seats in order to net six, covering for the potential loss of not just Sen. Pat Roberts in Kansas but an open seat in Georgia as well."

Obama's Bigger Plan for Klain

Administration insiders tell Mike Allen that Ron Klain, who starts Wednesday as the White House Ebola czar, will be in line to succeed John Podesta as counselor to President Obama when Podesta leaves, likely to chair Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

Said the source: "The president has been talking to Ron about different roles for a long time, and he wouldn't accept the Ebola job unless there was a promise of something bigger."

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%.

Justice Suspended in Email Porn Scandal

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery was suspended with pay by a 4-1 vote of his court colleagues, the Harrisburg Patriot-News reports.

"He becomes the latest in a sad parade of high-ranking state officials, and the first judge, to be forced from office for participating in an apparently longstanding, friends-only pornographic email ring centered in the Tom Corbett-era Attorney General's office."

Obama Doesn't See Himself as a Supreme Court Justice

President Obama told Jeffrey Toobin that he's not very interested in being on the Supreme Court, despite his background in constitutional law.

Said Obama: "I don't think I have the temperament to sit in a chamber and write opinions. I love the law, intellectually. I love nutting out these problems, wrestling with these arguments. I love teaching. I miss the classroom and engaging with students. But I think being a Justice is a little bit too monastic for me. Particularly after having spent six years and what will be eight years in this bubble, I think I need to get outside a little bit more."

McCain Sets Meeting to Discuss Re-Election

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has scheduled a breakfast meeting for Nov. 6 in Arizona where he will discuss with supporters his "thoughts" on seeking re-election in 2016, the Arizona Republic reports.

Earlier this month, McCain told reporters that the odds of him running again in 2016 "are pretty good."

Quote of the Day

"One of the nice things about being home is actually that it's a little bit like a time capsule. Because Michelle and I and the kids, we left so quickly that there's still junk on my desk, including some unpaid bills (laughter) -- I think eventually they got paid -- but they're sort of stacked up. And messages, newspapers and all kinds of stuff."

-- President Obama, quoted by the Weekly Standard, at a fundraiser in Chicago. An official transcript later deleted the reference to unpaid bills.

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%.

Americans Are Self-Segregating by Political Views

John Avlon: "What's changed? Well, the two parties in Congress are more ideologically and geographically polarized than at any time in our recent history. But we've had deep divisions in our politics before. And yes, the Wingnuts seem to have an outsize influence on our politics debates. But we've had extremists in our politics before."

"What's different is the proliferation of partisan media via cable news and the Internet. Amid unprecedented access to information, our fellow citizens are self-segregating themselves into separate political realities. That's the conclusion of a compelling, if depressing, new study by the Pew Research Center on political polarization and media habits."

Spending Already for Hillary

"Hillary Clinton's friendly super-PAC is spending roughly $23,000 a day - nearly as much as it's bringing in - as it builds a database of supporters and donors for a possible 2016 Democratic presidential bid," Bloomberg reports.

"Viewed another way: Getting Ready for Hillary costs her supporters about $2 million per quarter, covering expenses for everything from political consultants to voter databases to Des Moines hotel rooms."

Republicans Using Romney's Email List to Win Senate

Time reports that Mitt Romney's digital operation may have been a generation behind President Obama's effort, "but his email list has proven to be a potent fundraising too for the party as it looks for victory this fall."

"In the past week, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has emailed the list no fewer than 16 times, many times with emails addressed from Romney himself, while the National Republican Congressional Committee, House Republican's campaign arm, has used it at least once."

Republicans Continue to Push Travel Ban

"Republican leaders, conceding the futility of a flight ban from Ebola-afflicted West Africa, are refining their response to the outbreak, pressing to suspend visas for travelers and create 'no boarding' lists," the New York Times reports.

"But a supercharged political atmosphere is making legislative nuance difficult two weeks before midterm elections and days before a hearing on Friday on the Ebola response called by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, a panel riven by partisan division. Republicans on the campaign trail continue to goad Democrats to embrace a broad travel ban, although no direct flights to the United States from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea exist."

GOP Risks Backlash on Immigration

New York Times: "Republicans have long relied on illegal immigration to rally the conservative base, even if the threat seemed more theoretical than tangible in most of the country. But in several of this year's midterm Senate campaigns -- including Arkansas and Kansas, as well as New Hampshire -- Republicans' stance on immigration is posing difficult questions about what the party wants to be in the longer term."

"Some Republicans are questioning the cost of their focus on immigration. Campaigning on possible threats from undocumented immigrants -- similar to claims that President Obama and the Democrats have left the country vulnerable to attacks from Islamic terrorists and the Ebola virus -- may backfire after November. At that point, the party will have to start worrying about its appeal beyond the conservative voters it needs to turn out in midterm elections."

Why House Republicans Alienate the Hispanic Vote

Nate Cohn: "Political analysts keep urging the Republican Party to do more to appeal to Hispanic voters. Yet the party's congressional leaders show little sign of doing so, blocking an immigration overhaul and harshly criticizing President Obama for his plan to defer deportation for undocumented migrants."

"There's a simple reason that congressional Republicans are willing to risk alienating Hispanics: They don't need their votes, at least not this year."

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.

Top Alabama Republican Indicted on Corruption Charges

Mike Hubbard (R), "speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives and a powerful leader in the state Republican Party, has been indicted by a grand jury and charged with 23 counts, including using his office for personal gain and soliciting things of value," the Birmingham News reports.

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%.

Bonus Quote of the Day

"That's not gonna happen."

-- Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), quoted by the AP, on Republicans promising to repeal Obamacare.

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.

GOP Candidate Says Same-Sex Couples are 'Gremlins'

Anthony Culler (R), who is challenging Rep. James Clyburn's (D-SC) for Congress, referred to same-sex couples as "gremlins" and "bullies" in a Facebook post, according to The Hill.

Culler decried same-sex marriage as "a pestilence that has descended on our society, against our will, by those in the courts and government that do not value the traditional family. Same sex couples that seek to destroy our way of life and the institution of marriage are NOT cute and cuddly but rather (for those of you that are old enough to remember the movie), Gremlins that will only destroy our way of life."

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%.

Worst Political Ad of the Year?

In the Michigan U.S. Senate race, Terri Lynn Land (R) hits Gary Peters (D) for ties to loan sharks in a new ad inspired by Sharknado.

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).

The 2016 GOP Field Will Be Huge

The Fix: "New Washington Post-ABC News polling on the 2016 Republican presidential race makes one thing very clear: Every GOPer who has even a hint of ambition for national office is likely to run in two years time. Why? Because the field is remarkably frontrunner-less, meaning that every Ted, John and Rob can make a plausible case to activists and donors that they are going to eventually be the guy."

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."

On Wonk Wire

Some great clicks over at Wonk Wire:

And a bonus click from Working Capital Review:

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%.

Brown Won't Rule Out Running for Mayor Again

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) "has ruled out a run for president in 2016. But he declined to rule out another bid for Oakland mayor," the Los Angeles Times reports.

Said Brown: "I wouldn't mind being mayor of Oakland. But I don't know, when I'm 80 and a half, whether I'll have the same appetite... I don't want to foreclose my options for four years from now."

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."

The Divided States of America

NBC News: "The dominant political story heading into the Nov. 4 midterm elections isn't control of the U.S. Senate, or President Obama's approval ratings, or the party that captures the most governor's mansions across the nation. Instead, it's that this country - long known for its combative politics, especially before an election - is more divided today than it has been in decades. And it's likely to remain that way for the foreseeable future."

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."

People Walk Out on Obama at Campaign Event

President Obama "made a rare appearance on the campaign trail on Sunday with a rally to support the Democratic candidate for governor in Maryland, though the event was marred somewhat by early departures of crowd members and a yelling heckler," Reuters reports.

"Some 8,000 people turned out for the event, held in a noisy school gymnasium. But a steady stream of people walked out while he spoke, and a heckler interrupted his remarks."

Tennessee Lawmaker Arrested Three Times in One Month

Tennessee state Sen. Jim Summerville (R) "was arrested twice this weekend -- just one month after he was arrested for public intoxication," the New York Daily News reports.

Summerville "has been charged with stalking and assault in separate incidents involving his neighbor."

McConnell Seeks to Clear the Decks

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) "wants to get all must-pass legislation completed in the lame-duck session so Senate Republicans will have a clean slate at the start of 2015 if they control the upper chamber," The Hill reports.

"Senate GOP aides say that's the message from the leader, who could face opposition from conservative lawmakers who want to block any non-emergency measures in the window between Election Day and the start of the new Congress in January."

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.

Grayson's Divorce Gets Messier

Rep. Alan Grayson's (D-FL) "messy divorce is getting messier, at least when it comes to his house," the AP reports.

"Court papers filed by his estranged wife, Lolita, claim that the Democratic congressman failed to pay for repairs for the 5,300-square-foot Orlando house where she is living with their four children. The roof is leaking, broken windows are allowing rain to get inside and the house has a significant mold problem because of the moisture, Lolita Grayson said in the papers filed at the Orange County Courthouse. She also said the congressman cut off her credit cards, even though he has been the sole financial provider during their 24 years of marriage."

Archive: October 19, 2014

Where Are the Polls?

Harry Enten: "Two weeks and two days before Election Day, and we received just two polls over the weekend. The polls, both taken in Colorado by left-leaning groups, had little impact on the FiveThirtyEight Senate forecast -- Republicans have a 62 percent chance of taking the Senate. Indeed, we were more interested in the small number of polls than what those two surveys said."

"The FiveThirtyEight model relies mostly on polls, and without polls, the forecast's accuracy could suffer. So we looked into it. Fortunately, this weekend was an aberration. We're getting fewer polls than we did in 2010, but we're not getting way fewer polls."

Obama Seeks Iran Deal That Would Avoid Congress

New York Times: "No one knows if the Obama administration will manage in the next five weeks to strike what many in the White House consider the most important foreign policy deal of his presidency: an accord with Iran that would forestall its ability to make a nuclear weapon. But the White House has made one significant decision: If agreement is reached, President Obama will do everything in his power to avoid letting Congress vote on it."

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."

Quote of the Day

"The game is rigged, and the Republicans rigged it."

-- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), quoted by the Washington Post.

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."

Romney Leads GOP Field for President

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that 21% of Republican voters back Mitt Romney for president.

"When Romney is excluded from the race, his supporters scatter, adding no clarity to the GOP free-for-all. In that scenario former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul have 12 or 13 percent support from leaned Republicans who are registered to vote. All others have support in the single digits."

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton holds a commanding lead with 64% support.

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.

Quote of the Day

"I love her. That's easy to understand. She loves me. That's hard to understand."

-- Edwin Edwards, quoted by the Financial Times, on his wife who is 51 years younger than him.

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."

Supreme Court Allows Texas to Use Voter ID Law

"The Supreme Court on Saturday allowed Texas to use its strict voter identification law in the November election. The court's order was unsigned and contained no reasoning," the New York Times reports.

"The law, enacted in 2011, requires voters seeking to cast their ballots at the polls to present photo identification like a Texas driver's or gun license, a military ID or a passport."

Midterm Polling Error is Much Larger

Sam Wang: "Yesterday, Nate Silver and I both examined Senate polling errors. He saw no overall bias; I pointed out that recent bias has been unusually large. Both statements are true. But neither of us pointed out that the biases follow a significant pattern: midterm-year polling is far less accurate than Presidential-year polling."

"From a practical standpoint, this is good news for those of you who don't like where things have headed lately: in midterms, Senate polling errors are five times larger than in Presidential years. There is bad news too: the error can go in either direction, and a GOP blowout is also possible."

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."

Clinton Tests Campaign Themes

Hillary Clinton "is back on the campaign trail after a six-year hiatus, aiming to rouse Democratic voters who don't typically show up for midterm elections. In the course of trying to help her party's candidates, she is also testing themes that would likely surface in her own potential run for office and giving clues to the political profile she might adopt in a presidential campaign," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"Lately, Mrs. Clinton has spiced her campaign-trail speeches with targeted criticism of business--notable given that some liberals are suspicious of the Clinton family for accepting hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate donations and speaking fees. Those concerns could prompt a primary challenge from the political left."

Archive: October 17, 2014

Clinton Aides Halted Investigation Into Sexual Misconduct

"A State Department investigation has found that aides to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton contributed to the 'appearance of undue influence and favoritism' in three departmental investigations related to alleged sexual conduct by officials in the field," Time reports.

"In the highest-level case, the department's inspector general found that senior State Department officials declared an allegation that the U.S. Ambassador to Belgium had solicited a prostitute in a public park as a 'management issue.' The move effectively halted an investigation by the department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security."

Christie's Wife Earned $500K at Part Time Job

According to new tax filings, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) wife, Mary Pat, who works part-time on Wall Street, earned $475,854 for her job as a director at Angelo, Gordon & Co. and $34,698 from Cantor Fitzgerald, the AP reports.

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

"It certainly is a liability. It is not a killing liability. My opponents all have liabilities, too."

-- Edwin Edwards (D), quoted by the Wall Street Journal, on serving eight years in prison for racketeering.

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."

GOP Lawmaker Says Hamas Could Use Ebola as a Weapon

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) said that terrorists from Hamas could purposely infect themselves with the Ebola virus and then travel to America, BuzzFeed reports.

Said Wilson: "I'm very concerned. We had people who, I'll repeat it, the creed of Hamas: We value death more than you value life. What? That's their creed. Okay, well, part of their creed would be to bring persons who have Ebola into our country. It would promote their creed. And all this could be avoided by sealing the border, thoroughly. C'mon, this is the 21st century."

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%.

Bonus Quote of the Day

"I went to a restaurant up in New York when I was - during the U.N. General Assembly, and my credit card was rejected. It turned out I guess I don't use it enough. They were - they thought there was some fraud going on. Fortunately, Michelle had hers."

-- President Obama, quoted by the Washington Post.

The Willie Horton Ad of 2014

"The National Republican Congressional Committee went up with an ad Friday tying the Democratic nominee in a competitive Nebraska House race to Nikko Jenkins, a former inmate convicted of murdering four people after his early release from jail," Roll Call reports.

"It's an ad reminiscent of the Willie Horton spot former President George H.W. Bush ran in 1988, tying his Democratic opponent to a convicted murderer who raped a woman while on a weekend pass from prison."

Obama Names 'Ebola Czar'

President Obama will appoint Ron Klain as his "Ebola czar," sources tell CNN.

Wonk Wire: Fox News gets it right about Ebola

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?

Paul Says He Could Win a Third of Black Vote

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told Politico "that the Republican presidential candidate in 2016 could capture one-third or more of the African-American vote by pushing criminal-justice reform, school choice and economic empowerment."

Said Paul: "If Republicans have a clue and do this and go out and ask every African American for their vote, I think we can transform an election in one cycle."

The Myth of the Romney Resurgence

Amy Walter compares speculation about Mitt Romney running for president again to the pain of childbirth.

Paul Has Been to 32 States This Year

In his third trip to New Hampshire this year, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) "continued building a network of support - with a heavy focus on young votes - for a possible 2016 presidential run," the AP reports.

"Paul spoke to mostly high school and college students in Concord about the need to elect Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate and addressed a packed auditorium at Plymouth State University. As Paul travels the country this year - he has been to 32 states - he is working to expand the Republican Party's base to include young people and minorities, constituencies that Republicans have had trouble attracting."

Perry Puts His Focus on Iowa

Texas Gov. Rick Perry's (R) "newly created federal political committee gave 13 contributions in the past two months, all to Republican candidates running in Iowa, the first state to vote for a GOP presidential nominee in 2016," the Dallas Morning News reports.

Older Voters Are America's Fastest Growing Demographic

Stuart Stevens: "In the 2012 election, those 65 years or older were 17 percent of the total vote. But by 2030 those numbers will nearly double, and over 30 percent of the electorate will be over 65. To put this in perspective, the Hispanic vote will probably be only about 15 percent of the electorate by 2030. Yet the potential impact of older voters seems lost in the current political discussion."

Biden's Son Discharged After Failing Cocaine Test

"Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter was discharged from the Navy Reserve this year after testing positive for cocaine," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"Hunter Biden, a lawyer by training who is now a managing partner at an investment company, had been commissioned as an ensign in the Navy Reserve, a part-time position. But after failing a drug test last year, his brief military career ended."

"Mr. Biden, 44 years old, decided to pursue military service relatively late, beginning the direct-commission process to become a public-affairs officer in the Navy Reserve in 2012. Because of his age--43 when he was to be commissioned--he needed a waiver to join the Navy. He received a second Navy waiver because of a drug-related incident when he was a young man... Military officials say such drug waivers aren't uncommon."

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%.

Nunn Barely Ahead in Georgia

A new GA Pundit poll in Georgia finds Michelle Nunn (D) just ahead of David Perdue (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 46% to 45%, with Libertarian Amanda Swafford at 6%.

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%.

The Rise of the Oligarchs

New York Times: "In 2010, the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court effectively blew apart the McCain-Feingold restrictions on outside groups and their use of corporate and labor money in elections. That same year, a related ruling from a lower court made it easier for wealthy individuals to finance those groups to the bottom of their bank accounts if they so chose. What followed has been the most unbridled spending in elections since before Watergate."

"The result was a massive power shift, from the party bosses to the rich individuals who ran the super PACs (as most of these new organizations came to be called)... With the advent of Citizens United, any players with the wherewithal, and there are surprisingly many of them, can start what are in essence their own political parties, built around pet causes or industries and backing politicians uniquely answerable to them. No longer do they have to buy into the system. Instead, they buy their own pieces of it outright, to use as they see fit."

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.

Bonus Quote of the Day

"By the way, one of the biggest motivating factors for me actually considering this is to have 24-hour surveillance on my daughter. It would be great."

-- Gov. Chris Christie, quoted by Business Insider, on why he might want to run for president.

Quote of the Day

"I have said and I will continue to say that we shouldn't cut one penny from the safety net until we eliminate every penny of corporate welfare."

-- Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), in a Time profile.

Ebola Panic Doesn't Match the Crisis

First Read: "But here is something else we need to say about the Ebola story: The level of panic doesn't match the crisis, at least not yet. So far in the United States, one man (from Liberia) has died, and two nurses have been infected from caring for him. And at this rate, it's possible another health-care worker (or two or three) might get infected, too. But compare this with the thousands who have died from the disease in West Africa, plus the thousands who die from the flu and car accidents each year."

Wonk Wire: Public hysteria is worse than Ebola

Conversation with Charlie Cook

Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report joins us on the Political Wire podcast for a great look at the 2014 midterm elections and why he thinks Republicans are favored to take control of the U.S. Senate.

Listen here:

Subscribe via iTunes or RSS to get episodes automatically downloaded.

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."

Ready for Hillary Raises More

"The pro-Hillary Clinton low-dollar super PAC 'Ready for Hillary' raised more than $2 million in the third fund-raising quarter of this year... The amount means the group has raised more than $10.25 million overall, primarily through small donations," Politico reports.

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%.

Obama Cancels Campaign Trip to Deal with Ebola Crisis

President Obama "canceled his travel to a fund-raiser and a campaign rally so he could convene a meeting of several top cabinet members to coordinate the government's response to the Ebola outbreak," the New York Times reports.

"The decision comes as a second health care worker in Dallas tested positive for Ebola, raising new concerns about the protocols for containing the spread of the deadly virus and heightening fears among the public."

Bush Says Mother Is 'Neutral' on White House Bid

Jeb Bush told the AP that his mother, the former first lady who declared last year there had been "enough Bushes" in the White House, was now "neutral, trending in a different direction."

His wife, Columba, is "supportive" of a potential presidential campaign.

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.

On Wonk Wire

Some great clicks over at Wonk Wire:

And a bonus click from Working Capital Review:

Walker Won't Run for President if Ryan Does

If Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) decides to run for president, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that "you can pretty much count him out."

Said Walker: "It would be hard to do if you're the president of the fan club."

He added that anyone wanting to run for president has to be "a little crazy," adding that he doesn't "want to be classified as crazy."

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."

Kasich Seeks to Remake the GOP

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) "is coasting toward a second term in a state that long has been one of the nation's presidential battlegrounds, campaigning on policies he believes can put a more empathetic face on the national Republican Party," the Washington Post reports.

"His economic philosophy is Republican orthodoxy, drawn from supply-side theory and coupled with a reformist streak. But what sets Kasich apart from some others in his party is his willingness to use the levers of government and the zeal with which he has embraced his own version of compassionate conservatism, with strong religious overtones."

Said Kasich: "My party is me. I have a right to shape my party. I have a right to have an opinion about what my party ought to be. Who's defining for me what my party is? I'm trying to define what I think the party is."

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%.

Quote of the Day

"I'm doing everything right now as if I'm running. So we're moving forward and trying to line up supporters -- both grassroots and donors."

-- Rick Santorum, quoted by Real Clear Politics, on his 2016 presidential plans.

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."

Ruemmler is Leading Choice for Attorney General

Former White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler has emerged as President Obama's preferred candidate as the next attorney general, though he hasn't decided on a nominee and is still weighing other choices, Bloomberg reports.

"Advisers have told Obama that Ruemmler would encounter tough questioning in confirmation hearings about advice she gave the president during episodes of his presidency that have drawn Republican scrutiny, including the handling of lapses by the Secret Service, they said."

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."

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

"This is not your father's Republican Party. This is a different breed of cat, man. I am not making a moral judgment, but I will tell you that they have no judgment."

-- Vice President Joe Biden, quoted by CNN.

The 9 Biggest Candidate Flameouts

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

Oregon First Lady Planned Pot Operation

"Just four months after she married an Ethiopian man solely to help him become a US citizen," Oregon First Lady Cylvia Hayes "was involved with a property she admits was intended to be an illegal marijuana grow operation," the Oregonian reports.

Said Hayes: "I am not proud of that brief period of time. I was involved in an abusive relationship with a dangerous man. We lived together for several months on the property in Okanogan that was intended to be the site of a marijuana grow operation that never materialized."

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."

The GOP Faces a Disaster If They Don't Take the Senate

Stu Rothenberg says that "if the GOP fails to capture the Senate this year, 2016 could turn into an unmitigated disaster for the party."

"As one Republican strategist admitted to me recently, if his party fails to take back the Senate next month it will only lead observers to conclude Democratic campaign operatives are far superior to the GOP's, and Republicans don't have a chance of winning the White House in 2016. It isn't hard to imagine what that would do to the party leading up to the 2016 presidential contest."

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."

Quote of the Day

"Done. Completely. Not only Mitt and I are done, but the kids are done. Done. Done. Done."

-- Ann Romney, quoted by the Los Angeles Times, ruling out another presidential campaign by her husband.

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."

Crossroads Will Not Run Ads in 2016 Primaries

"The American Crossroads super PAC and and its nonprofit arm are unlikely to engage in the GOP presidential primaries in 2016, opening the door for another chaotic fight akin to what happened in 2012," the Washington Post reports.

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."

Emanuel Foe Has Brain Cancer

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, who just pulled out of a possible run against Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanual, "is suffering from a cancerous brain tumor that was diagnosed shortly after she experienced a severe headache last week," the Chicago Sun Times reports.

Archive: October 13, 2014

Bonus Quote of the Day

"I would rather die than be in the United States Senate. Okay? I would be bored to death. Could you imagine me banging around that chamber with 99 other people -- asking for a motion on the amendment in the subcommittee? Forget it."

-- Gov. Chris Christie (R), quoted by Business Insider.

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%.

Quote of the Day

"We're in a very dangerous period and I think it's more threatening than the period before 9/11. I think 9/11 will turn out to be not nearly as bad as the next mass casualty attack against the United States -- which, if and when it comes, will be with something far deadlier than with airline tickets and box cutters."

-- Dick Cheney, in an interview with the Weekly Standard.

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."

Romney Tells an Obama Joke

National Journal notes that while campaigning in Iowa, Mitt Romney told a joke about President Obama:

"President Obama went to the bank to cash a check and he didn't have his ID. And the teller said you've got to prove who you are."

"He said, 'How should I do that?' She said the other day Phil Mickelson came in, he didn't have his ID but he set up a little cup on the ground, took a golf ball, putted it right into that cup so they knew it was Phil Mickelson. They cashed his check. And then Andre Agassi came in. And Andre Agassi didn't have his ID either. He put a little target on the wall, took a tennis ball and racquet- hit it onto that target time. We knew that was Andre Agassi so we cashed his check."

"And she said to him, 'Is there anything you can do to prove who you are?' And [Obama] said, 'I don't have a clue.'"

"And she said, 'Well, Mr. President, do you want your money in small bills or large bills.'"

Judge Strikes Down Gay Marriage Ban in Alaska

"A federal judge ruled Sunday that Alaska's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, paving the way for same-sex couples to begin marrying in the state for the first time. The state quickly said it would appeal the decision by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Burgess, despite recent higher court rulings striking down similar bans around the country," the Alaska Dispatch News reports.

Democratic Losses May Force Clinton to Announce Earlier

Hillary Clinton "may not have the luxury of waiting until early next year to declare her intentions to run for president in 2016," the New York Times reports.

"If Democrats lose control of the Senate in the midterm elections, the party may need to quickly pivot to the presidential campaign, several people close to Mrs. Clinton said. The Democratic Party would look to Mrs. Clinton 'as its Noah's ark,' a vessel on which voters and donors could channel their enthusiasm and frustration, said one of these people, who could discuss the internal deliberations only on the condition of anonymity."

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."

Official Says Budget Cuts Prevented Ebola Vaccine

"As the federal government frantically works to combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and as it responds to a second diagnosis of the disease at home, one of the country's top health officials says a vaccine likely would have already been discovered were it not for budget cuts," the Huffington Post reports.

"Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, said that a decade of stagnant spending has 'slowed down' research on all items, including vaccinations for infectious diseases. As a result, he said, the international community has been left playing catch-up on a potentially avoidable humanitarian catastrophe."

GOP Money Pours Into Judicial Races

"A national Republican group is spending heavily on judicial elections in some states, prompting judges to get more involved in their campaigns as they seek to hold on to their seats," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"The effort to influence judicial elections is largely Republican--for now, no Democratic group is systematically contributing to such races... The money pouring in from out-of-state groups is upsetting genteel traditions under which judges in some states faced little opposition and avoided the ethically tricky process of soliciting big money and stumping for votes from constituents they might face in court. The attention is an acknowledgment of the role that state supreme courts play in shaping the business climate and social and government policies."

Conservatives Still Don't Trust Christie

New York Times: "With the contretemps over lane closings on the George Washington Bridge on the back burner for now and Mr. Christie laying groundwork for a Republican presidential run, the persistent skepticism, unease and, in some cases, distrust that he faces from social and religious conservatives may be the biggest and least understood obstacle in his path."

"Yet Mr. Christie, who prides himself on his defiance of political convention, refuses to communicate the kind of emphatic, crowd-pleasing message that would leave him unassailable with that crucial constituency, and he has shown little enthusiasm for befriending its self-appointed leadership, elements of which are turning on him with speed and vigor."

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."

Warren Says Obama Protected Wall Street

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) told Salon that the Obama administration has been too cozy with Wall Street.

Said Warren: "He picked his economic team and when the going got tough, his economic team picked Wall Street. They protected Wall Street. Not families who were losing their homes. Not people who lost their jobs. Not young people who were struggling to get an education. And it happened over and over and over."

Chevron Spends Big to Influence Local California Election

"Chevron has funneled nearly $3 million into a trio of campaign committees to influence the Nov. 4 Richmond city election, including a nearly $1.3 million contribution on Aug. 8," the Contra Costa Times reports.

Rick Hasen: "I know that there have been some hefty sums spent by for-profit corporations on ballot initiatives. But what's the largest sum that we know of so far given by a for-profit corporation to advocate for the election or defeat of municipal candidates?"

Bonus Quote of the Day

"We don't have a jobs problem in this state. We have a work problem."

-- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), quoted by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

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%."

Campaigns Looking for Prime Spots on the Web

"It turns out that the Internet does not have infinite capacity. At least not for political ads," the New York Times reports.

"As an increasing number of campaigns and outside groups are finding out, premium space on the web has long been booked. Digital advertising is maturing much in the way television did, as targeting becomes more sophisticated and the definition of a viewer expands drastically... The more savvy players in the coming midterm elections made pre-emptive strikes to ensure ad placement when it matters most."

McCain Says U.S. Is Losing Fight Against ISIS

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) asserted that the United States and its allies are not winning in the conflict against the Islamic State, Politico reports.

Said McCain: "They're winning, and we're not."

"McCain said more American troops need to be on the ground in the form of forward air controllers and special forces to help assist in airstrikes. He also called for a no-fly zone over both Syria and Iraq."

McCain Wants an 'Ebola Czar'

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called for President Obama to nominate an "Ebola czar" to coordinate the administration's response to the deadly virus, The Hill reports.

Said McCain: "I'd like to know who's in charge."

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.

Morris Says Clinton Orchestrated Panetta Book

"Political strategist Dick Morris accused Hillary Clinton of conspiring with former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in his stinging critique of President Obama's foreign policy," The Hill reports.

Said Morris: "I think Hillary put him up to it."

He added: "What Panetta is doing is a hit - a contract killing - for Hillary. Panetta at core is a Clinton person, not an Obama person. By accurately and truthfully describing the deliberations in the [Obama] cabinet, he makes Hillary look better, and he makes Obama look worse... And I think he'll get his reward in heaven."

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."

The Muzzled Center

Will Marshall: "Not so long ago, U.S. politicians who robotically toed the party line were considered shameless hacks. And ideologues were seen as wingnuts--self-righteous cranks unable to cope with life's complexities. Today, such people dominate our national politics."

"In this Manichean hothouse, the battle lines are clear and everyone knows their place. To break ranks on any major issue is treason, to see merit in the other side's point of view is heresy, to compromise is to sell out and to engage in political horse-trading is corrupt. Finding common ground? That's so 20th century. Don't bore us with intellectual honesty, nuance or shades of grey--just pick a side, slug it out and let the best team win."

Quote of the Day

"As governor, I had the Majority Leader and, potentially, the Speaker of the United States of America as a member of my congressional delegation. Personally, I was disappointed that Eric lost."

-- Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), quoted by The Hill, on former Rep. Eric Cantor's (R-VA) primary defeat earlier this year.

Good Buddy, Bad Buddy

Mike Stanton: "The biggest story in Rhode Island this fall isn't the potential election on Nov. 4 of the state's first female governor, Gina M. Raimondo, a Democrat, or its first Asian-American governor, Allan Fung, a Republican. Instead it's the improbable comeback of Buddy Cianci, the felonious former mayor of Providence, who spent two decades in City Hall and is now running for yet another term."

"As Buddy's unauthorized biographer, I have long been fascinated by his enduring appeal, and what it says about American politics. Elected in 1974 as the anti-corruption candidate, Mr. Cianci was forced to resign in 1984 after a felony assault conviction for that incident with the cigarette, came back in 1991 and was forced to resign again in 2002 after another felony conviction, for racketeering conspiracy. He belongs to that great American pantheon of rogues whose corruption was tolerated because of their populist appeal to voters and the perception that they "got things done" -- Boss Tweed, Huey Long, James Michael Curley, Edwin Edwards."

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."

Details of Bush 'Drinking Duel' Finally Surface

"John Newcombe, an Australian former tennis champion, has finally revealed the details of an infamous 'drinking duel' with George W Bush that nearly cost the young Texan the presidency," the Telegraph reports.

"The drinking bout near the Bush family's Kennebunkport summer home in Maine, in which the two matched each other beer for beer, ended with Bush's arrest for drink-driving, which he then kept secret for 24 years. But five days before winning his first presidential election in 2000, the story of the arrest broke on United States television, prompting Bush to confess to the traveling press pack that he had been arrested for drink-driving during his 'party boy' days. "

5 Big Revelations in New Clinton Documents

The Daily Beast sifted through the latest document dump from the Clinton Library to find the most interesting items.

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.

Walsh's Master's Degree Voided

The Army War College revoked Sen. John Walsh's (D-MT) status as a graduate, citing plagiarism in his final paper submitted for a master's degree, the Missoulian reports.

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

"You know at this point, I think we're past that... I think at this stage what we should do is a number of bills that would fix flaws in Obamacare. I think we're past the point of being able to repeal the bill altogether."

-- Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), in an interview with WCSH-TV, on GOP efforts to repeal Obamacare.

What is a Wave Election?

From the political dictionary: "wave election"

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."

Clinton Library Releases Final Batch of Files

"The last batch in a series of previously-undisclosed Clinton White House records went public Friday, spilling secrets on the creation of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, high-profile controversies involving Whitewater and the White House Travel Office, and then-First Lady Hillary Clinton's unsuccessful health care reform drive," Politico reports.

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."

The Impact of Voter ID

Wonk Wire: New study finds voter ID laws reduce turnout among blacks, young people and college students.

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."

Candidate Would Have Defended Interacial Marriage Ban

Wisconsin Attorney General nominee Brad Schimel (R) said he would have reluctantly defended a ban on interracial marriage had he been attorney general in the 1950s, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Said Schumel: "It might be distasteful to me ...but I've got to stay consistent with that -- as the state's lawyer, it's not my job to pick and choose."

Huckabee Threatens to Quit GOP Over Gay Marriage

Mike Huckabee said that he'd quit the Republican party if it raised "the white flag of surrender" and "abdicated" on same sex marriage, Newsmax reports.

Said Huckabee: "I'll become an independent. I'll start finding people that have guts to stand. I'm tired of this."

Oregon First Lady Apologizes for Illegal Marriage

"Less than 24 hours after news broke of a secret marriage, Oregon first lady Cylvia Hayes tearfully apologized to Oregonians and to her fiancé, Gov. John Kitzhaber, for accepting $5,000 to illegally marry an 18-year-old Ethiopian in need of a green card," the Oregonian reports.

Quote of the Day

"You can shoot me, but listen to me first. I want education for your sons and daughters. Now I have spoken, so do whatever you want."

-- Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, quoted by the Washington Post, on what she would have said to the Pakistani Taliban extremist who shot her if she had the chance.

Supreme Court Blocks Wisconsin Voter ID Law

"A divided U.S. Supreme Court blocked Wisconsin's voter ID law late Thursday, issuing a terse yet dramatic one-page ruling less than four weeks before the Nov. 4 election," the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

"The 6-3 vote means in all likelihood the requirement to show ID at the polls will not be in effect for the election. But Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said he would seek ways to reinstate the law within the month."

"Gov. Scott Walker and his fellow Republicans approved the law in 2011, but it was quickly blocked by a series of court decisions in four lawsuits. It was reinstated by a federal appeals court in recent weeks, but Thursday's ruling again put the law on hold."

More on Wonk Wire

Obama Weighs Closing Guantanamo

"The White House is drafting options that would allow President Barack Obama to close the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by overriding a congressional ban on bringing detainees to the U.S.," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"Such a move would be the latest and potentially most dramatic use of executive power by the president in his second term. It would likely provoke a sharp reaction from lawmakers, who have repeatedly barred the transfer of detainees to the U.S."

"The discussions underscore the president's determination to follow through on an early campaign promise before he leaves the White House, officials said, despite the formidable domestic and international obstacles in the way."

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."

The Best and Worst of Congress

The Washingtonian released their annual survey of congressional staffers.

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."

Palin Family Brawl Detailed in Police Report

Anchorage police released a report regarding a brawl involving about 20 people -- including members of Sarah Palin's family -- that occurred last month, the Alaska Dispatch News reports.

"Police said they arrived to find Track Palin, shirtless, bloody and heavily intoxicated, getting into a white limousine to leave the party. Witnesses described a large fight involving at least 20 people that included members of the Palin family. Several witnesses said they watched Bristol Palin repeatedly punch homeowner Korey Klingenmeyer in the face."

Read the entire police report online.

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).

Sanders Schedules Trips to New Hampshire

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) "will be spending at least five days in the New Hampshire in October alone," WMUR reports.

"For the most part Sanders seems to be doing the college town circuit this month. He is hoping to both get Democratic voters excited to vote on Nov. 4 and introduce himself at the same time... Sanders has already been to the state four times exploring a run for president."

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%.

An Uneven Recovery

This is fascinating: An Enormous Divide on Economic Recovery

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."

Supreme Court Backs Voter Restrictions

The Supreme Court "reversed a federal appeals court's decision that would have allowed same-day registration and counted votes cast mistakenly in the wrong precincts. Those were among several other procedures eliminated by the state Legislature last year in what critics called the most restrictive voting law in the nation," USA Today reports.

Morning Line: "This comes a week after the Supreme Court ruled against voting rights groups in Ohio, curtailing early voting days, reducing evening hours and eliminating Sunday voting, when many churches with predominantly black congregants run 'souls to the polls' voting programs."

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."

Beware of Polling

First Read: "Between now and Election Day, you're going to see a lot of divergent poll numbers. And the reason why is that not all likely voter models are created the same, even among good pollsters. We're seeing more money being spent on turnout than ever before in a midterm cycle, but we're also seeing American voters more turned off from the midterms than before. Those two things make polling more unpredictable. No one is confident who will be showing up to vote."

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."

Cuomo Reflects in New Memoir

New York Times: "Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo learned about his divorce from a journalist. He blames himself for his father's political demise. As for his own political near-death experience, a gaffe that ultimately led him to quit the 2002 governor's race in disgrace: His mistake was 'stupid,' but reporters made it seem even worse."

"Those are among the more potent revelations included in Mr. Cuomo's 517-page memoir, All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics and Life, which is to be released by HarperCollins's Harper imprint on Tuesday, just three weeks before Election Day as the governor seeks a second term. "

Archive: October 08, 2014

White House Aide Linked to Prostitution Scandal

"As nearly two dozen Secret Service agents and members of the military were punished or fired following a 2012 prostitution scandal in Colombia, Obama administration officials repeatedly denied that anyone from the White House was involved," the Washington Post reports.

"But new details drawn from government documents and interviews show that senior White House aides were given information at the time suggesting that a prostitute was an overnight guest in the hotel room of a presidential advance-team member -- yet that information was never thoroughly investigated or publicly acknowledged."

"The information that the Secret Service shared with the White House included hotel records and firsthand accounts -- the same types of evidence the agency and military relied on to determine who in their ranks was involved."

Conversation with Stan Greenberg

Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg joins us on the Political Wire podcast for a look at the midterm elections, one in which he sees now Democrats "more likely to hold control of the U.S. Senate than not."

Listen here:

Subscribe via iTunes or RSS to get episodes automatically downloaded.

Special thanks to the Cook Political Report for sponsoring this episode. If you haven't subscribed yet, you really need to.

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."

Republicans Plan Obamacare Showdown in Lame Duck

"A group of Senate Republicans have their eye on another Obamacare showdown in the lame-duck session," according to Roll Call.

"The 14 Republicans, led by Marco Rubio of Florida, wrote a letter urging Speaker John A. Boehner to "prohibit the Obama administration" from spending money on an 'Obamacare taxpayer bailout.' They point to a legal opinion from the Government Accountability Office that said additional funding authority would be needed to make payments to insurance companies under the risk-corridor component of the Obamacare health care exchanges. The Republicans say taxpayers could be on the hook for bailing out insurance companies that suffer losses."

NBC Wanted Jon Stewart for 'Meet the Press'

Before choosing Chuck Todd, NBC News president Deborah Turness held negotiations with Jon Stewart about hosting "Meet the Press," three senior television sources tell New York magazine.

One source explained that NBC was prepared to offer Stewart virtually "anything" to bring him over.

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."

Bonus Quote of the Day

"The great thing about not being president anymore is you can say whatever you want -- unless your wife might run for something."

-- Bill Clinton, quoted by NBC News.

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%.

Carter Blasts Obama Foreign Policy

Former President Jimmy Carter criticized President Obama saying it was hard to figure our exactly what his policy is in the Middle East, the Fort Worth Star Telegram reports.

Said Carter: "It changes from time to time. I noticed that two of his secretaries of defense, after they got out of office, were very critical of the lack of positive action on the part of the president."

He also said the U.S. waited to long to respond to the Islamic State: "We let the Islamic state build up its money, capability and strength and weapons while it was still in Syria. Then when [ISIS] moved into Iraq, the Sunni Muslims didn't object to their being there and about a third of the territory in Iraq was abandoned."

On Wonk Wire

Some great clicks over at Wonk Wire:

Sarah Silverman Fills the Gap

Sarah Silverman released a very funny but probably not safe for work video on pay equity.

Flashback Quote of the Day

"I cannot predict precisely what the rate would be at the end of one year. I can tell you that over a period of four years, by a virtue of the polices that we put in place, we get the unemployment rate down to 6 percent, perhaps a little lower."

-- Mitt Romney, quoted by MSNBC in May 2012, noting the unemployment rate is already down to 5.9% without Romney's policies.

Democratic Pollster Says Hispanic Voters Will Stay Home

Democratic pollster Celinda Lake told The Hill that her party "will have a tough time getting out the Hispanic vote, because President Obama did not take executive action on deportations affecting millions of workers in the U.S. illegally."

Said Lake: "It was a real disappointment to the Latino voters -- rightly so. I think if we'd done something, it would have energized the Latino vote and drawn a clear distinction with the Republicans."

She added that it will be "a big uphill battle for the Latino turnout, and that's going to affect our candidates."

Quote of the Day

"I don't need a semi-automatic rifle to shoot a duck. Maybe you do. Maybe you should spend more time on your shooting range."

-- Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN), quoted by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, to challenger Stewart Mills (R) in a debate.

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 Needs a Catchy Slogan

Wall Street Journal: "The Obama presidency is littered with catch phrases and rhetorical devices, enthusiastically embraced and summarily discarded as tastes and political needs change. None has piqued the public's imagination. Six years into his tenure, Mr. Obama is still casting about for a slogan as punchy and enduring as FDR's 'New Deal,' Lyndon Johnson's 'Great Society' -- or even his own 2008 campaign mantra: 'Yes We Can.'"

White House Shake Up Coming?

David Ignatius: "Presidents often need new energy and talent to refurbish their second terms. George W. Bush opted for such a shake-up in 2006, and it arguably saved his presidency. Barack Obama is now facing a similar moment, and there are signs he's looking to make some personnel changes after the November congressional elections."

Huntsman Not Running in 2016

Jon Huntsman told Politico that he would not run in 2016 and has no plans to run for governor again.

Said Huntsman: "I can't describe a pathway through the early primary states up to Super Tuesday, and if you can't find that pathway or describe what that pathway is, then you had [better] not be in the race."

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

Former GOP Official Suggests Executing Ebola Victims

Todd Kincannon, the former executive director of the South Carolina Republican party, said that people infected with the Ebola virus "need to be humanely put down immediately." WPIX reports.

Said Kincannon: "The protocol for a positive Ebola test should be immediate execution and sanitation of the whole area. That will save lives."

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.

Supreme Court Will Review Arizona Redistricting

The Supreme Court said it will "consider a challenge by Arizona Republicans to the state's congressional districting map," the AP reports.

"Arizona voters created an independent redistricting commission in 2000 in an effort to take politics out of the process. But the GOP-led state legislature complained in a lawsuit that the Constitution exclusively gives power to draw maps for congressional districts to elected state lawmakers. A divided panel of federal judges dismissed the lawsuit, but justices said they will review the lower court ruling."

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."

Who is Joe Biden?

Jimmy Kimmel asks Americans on the street.

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%.

Tweet of the Day

Panetta Details Frustrations with Obama

The New York Times reviews Leon Panetta's new memoir, Worthy Fights.

"Typically frank, occasionally feisty and finally free of the constraints of clearing opinions with the White House, Mr. Panetta is re-emerging with a blunt account of his time in the Obama administration. In a new memoir to be published on Tuesday, Mr. Panetta draws a largely respectful portrait of a president who made important progress and follows a 'well-reasoned vision for the country' but too often 'avoids the battle, complains, and misses opportunities.'"

Very interesting: "Obama grew more reticent, in Mr. Panetta's view, because his legitimacy has been challenged more than any of his predecessors by accusations like the unsubstantiated claim that he was not born in the United States."

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%.

Republicans Mostly Silent on Gay Marriage

First Read: "After the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday decided not to review gay-marriage cases, effectively making it legal in a handful of additional states, Republicans were mostly silent... We're now four weeks out from a national election and this isn't going to be an issue anywhere. Can anyone find a single race where same-sex marriage will be a decider?"

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."

Republicans Brace for Another Primary Free-for-All

Politico: "The message from Republican officials has been crystal clear for two years: The 2016 Republican primary cannot be another prolonged pummeling of the eventual nominee. Only one person ultimately benefited from that last time -- Barack Obama -- and Republicans know they can't afford to send a hobbled nominee up against Hillary Clinton."

"Yet interviews with more than a dozen party strategists, elected officials and potential candidates a month out from the unofficial start of the 2016 election lay bare a stark reality: Despite the national party's best efforts, the likelihood of a bloody primary process remains as strong as ever."

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."

All But 14 States Will Allow Gay Marriage

"The number of states still prohibiting same-sex marriage probably will dwindle to 14 within a few weeks as a result of the Supreme Court's refusal to take up the issue Monday, a legal and political reversal of nearly unprecedented proportions," the Los Angeles Times reports.

"Just over 10 years ago it was impossible for a same-sex couple to get married anywhere in the U.S. But by Monday more than half of Americans lived in a state with the immediate prospect of what supporters refer to as 'marriage equality.'"

Wall Street Journal: "The Supreme Court's action surprised both sides, especially because antigay-marriage states and gay-rights advocates alike had urged the court to step in. Observers had expected a same-sex marriage case to be the marquee decision of the court's 2014-15 term, which began Monday."

Bloomberg: "By passing on five cases involving same-sex marriage, the high court left the issue in the hands of the states and in the process revived its currency as a political issue just a month before the midterm elections."

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%.

Same Sex Marriage Now Legal for Majority of Americans

Nate Silver: "The U.S. Supreme Court's decision Monday to decline hearing a series of appeals cases on same-sex marriage will have the effect of immediately legalizing gay marriage in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. When combined with the 19 states (and the District of Columbia) that had previously legalized same-sex marriage, these states have a collective population of roughly 165 million, according to 2013 census figures."

"That means for the first time, same-sex marriage is legal for the majority of the U.S. population. The 26 states where the practice is not legal have a total population of about 151 million."

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."

On Wonk Wire

Some great clicks over at Wonk Wire:

Supreme Court Will Not Rule on Same-Sex Marriage

"The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to consider whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, a surprise action that leaves the issue unresolved nationwide," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"Seven appeals on the issue involving same-sex marriage bans in five states had landed on the court's doorstep while the justices were away on their summer break. State officials defending same-sex marriage bans, as well as gay couples challenging them, had urged the Supreme Court to intervene, citing the need for nationwide clarity."

"But the justices rejected those appeals in a brief written order. The court, as is its custom, offered no explanation for why it decided not to get involved."

Rick Hasen: "The fact that the Supreme Court, without saying a peep, is letting court-ordered same sex marriages go forward in Utah is a huge deal."

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."

Unwilling to Criticize Hillary Clinton

First Read: "NBC's 'Meet the Press' has now interviewed two potential Democratic challengers to Hillary Clinton -- first Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), then former Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) yesterday -- and both have been unwilling to criticize her, let alone distinguish themselves from her."

"If you're really going to challenge Hillary, you have to take her on -- to show to donors and supporters that any potentially run is to actually win. It's going to take guts to take on the Clintons. And if you're going to do it, you've got to show it. It's amazing to us how few Dems who want to run for president want to actually take her on. For now, all these potential anti-Hillary Dems look like they are running for the attention rather than the nomination."

Sam Wang Factchecks Nate Silver

Last week, Nate Silver wrote a lengthy critique of Sam Wang's midterm election forecast for Political Wire.

Wang responds below.

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.

Polling the Pollsters

FiveThirtyEight asks pollsters for their thoughts on the midterm elections and the accuracy of polling.

"In their responses, most pollsters predict Republicans will win the Senate by a narrow margin. Many say fewer people are responding to polls this year, compared to 2012, and more expect greater polling error -- that is, the difference between what the latest pre-election polls show and actual vote margins -- in the upcoming election, than expect less error. And yet, the results also show how little the pollsters agree on."

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."

12 Families Who Have Always Supported the Clintons

Bloomberg Politics finds twelve couples have supported Bill and Hillary Clinton "by giving more than two hundred dollars to the five national campaigns, the PAC, the Clinton Foundation, and Ready for Hillary--the outside group promoting a second Clinton presidential run."

"These few devotees--the very innermost circle of the Clinton cult--have supported Bill and Hillary since at least 1992, through epochal triumphs and bimbo eruptions and the slow bleed of Whitewater culminating in the Monica scandal, which caused the faith of the most devoted to be tested--after which, of course, Bill could be once again taken out of the closet."

Politico: Rogue donors not ready for Hillary?

Jeb Hasn't Decided Yet

Mark Halperin: "Here's the reality, distilled from over a dozen discussions with those who know Bush really well: Jeb himself still hasn't decided."

"There is no doubt that Bush is significantly closer to running for President than he was four years ago. He isn't showing some leg to sell books or raise his speaking fees. He isn't worried about the mechanics of the race, such as who might be his New Hampshire campaign manager, or how best to deal with straw polls. His decision-making process is less about consultation than, as is typical for the former Florida governor, about introspection. Jeb Bush is grappling with the hardest of questions: Is he the right person to bring the Republican Party toward the center and govern a country that has proven stubbornly difficult to lead? In other words, is this, finally, his time?"

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."

Kaine vs. Obama on War Powers

"In June, after he had written a scorching opinion article seeking to constrain the president's unilateral power to make war, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), one of Barack Obama's earliest supporters, buttonholed the commander in chief at the White House for what he called 'a spirited discussion,'" the New York Times reports.

"The militants of the Islamic State were pouring across the Syrian border into Iraq, and seizing cities where so much American blood and treasure had been spilled. But Mr. Kaine said he told the president in no uncertain terms that if he intended to go to war, he would have to ask Congress's permission. President Obama politely but firmly disagreed. They have been battling ever since."

Archive: October 05, 2014

Only Bill Clinton Can Help on Campaign Trail

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Annenberg survey finds Bill Clinton is the politicians who can give candidates the biggest boost by campaigning with them.

"An endorsement from Mr. Clinton would make 38% of people look at the candidate more favorably, compared to 24% who would take a less favorable view. No other politician in the survey had a net positive more than one percentage point, the mark earned by Mrs. Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama."

Biden Has to Apologize Again

Vice President Joe Biden "apologized to the United Arab Emirates Sunday for charging that the oil-rich ally had been supporting al Qaida and other jihadi groups in Syria's internal war, his second apology in as many days to a key participant in the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State extremists," McClatchy reports.

Brazil's Presidential Election Heads to Runoff

Wall Street Journal: "Brazil's presidential race is headed to a second round after President Dilma Rousseff won the most votes on Sunday but failed to clinch the majority she needed to win a second term outright. The leftist Ms. Rousseff will face the more conservative Aécio Neves in a runoff on Oct. 26,"

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%.

A New and Improved Bobby Jindal

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) "is working to show voters he's more than a wooden wonk by loosening up on the campaign trail," The Hill reports.

"Now, with a new and improved, more relaxed demeanor, some conservatives are taking a second look at the Louisiana governor for 2016 after largely writing him off as a major contender for the White House. Jindal surprised many last week when he gave a strong speech at the Values Voters Summit in Washington. The half-hour address drew both laughs and strong applause from the social conservatives gathered, and Jindal showed a dynamic style as he paced across the stage."

Pending Gay Marriage Decision Could Define Supreme Court

"The 10th edition of the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. begins work Monday with the prospect of a monumental ruling for gay rights that could serve as a surprising legacy of an otherwise increasingly conservative court," the Washington Post reports.

"Whether the justices will decide that the Constitution protects the right of same-sex couples to marry dominates expectations of the coming term; such a ruling would impart landmark status on a docket that so far lacks a blockbuster case. And some say it would be a defining moment for a closely divided court that bears the chief justice's name but is most heavily influenced by the justice in the middle: Anthony M. Kennedy, who has written the court's most important decisions affording protection to gay Americans."

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."

Biden Gaffe Angers Turkish President

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan "is not known as the kind of leader who readily admits mistakes, and Vice President Biden is well known for his capacity to make them," the Washington Post reports.

"So after Biden claimed that Erdogan had acknowledged fault in enabling the flow of foreign fighters across the Turkish border, it was inevitable that a firestorm would ensue. Biden swiftly responded Saturday to a demand by Erdogan for an apology, saying he regretted the criticism of Turkey and also a suggestion that other U.S. allies had helped facilitate the rise of the extremist Islamic State group in Syria."

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.'"

Quote of the Day

"I'm just sad I'm not able to be there either. I'd like to be in the White House."

-- Mitt Romney, quoted by the Marietta Daily Journal.

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."

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

"I feel comfortable, and I feel free. I feel completely liberated. But, you know... I was a lot better senator after I ran for president because I had done it. I had run. I came within 59,000 votes in one state, so for three hours I was president."

-- Secretary of State John Kerry, quoted by Vogue.

Paul Suggests GOP Could Rethink Gay Marriage

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told CNN that he favors traditional marriage, but has said states should determine their own laws.

Said Paul: "I don't want my guns registered in Washington or my marriage. Founding Fathers all got married by going down to the local courthouse. It is a local issue and always has been."

He added: "Society's changing. I mean, people change their minds all the time on this issue, and even within the Republican Party, there are people whose child turns out to be gay and they're like, oh well maybe I want to rethink this issue. So it's been rethought. The President's rethought the issue. So I mean, a lot of people have rethought the issue."

Bonus Quote of the Day

"He's a good guy, but after doing immigration with him -- we don't need another young guy not quite ready. He's no Obama by any means, but he's so afraid of the right, and I've let that go."

-- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), quoted by Politico, on Sen. Marcio Rubio's (R-FL) possible presidential aspirations.

Conversation with Jules Witcover

Jules Witcover, author of The American Vice Presidency: From Irrelevance to Power, joins us on the Political Wire podcast for a discussion of the person "just a heartbeat away" from the most powerful job in the world.

Listen here:

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Special thanks the Cook Political Report for sponsoring this episode. If you don't read it, you should.

Graham Says He'll Consider White House Bid

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told the Weekly Standard that if he is reelected to the U.S. Senate in November, he will begin exploring a bid for the presidency.

Fake Congressman Allowed Backstage at Obama Event

"An unidentified man posing as a member of Congress made it into a secure area backstage at President Barack Obama's appearance at a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation awards dinner in Washington Sept. 27," Bloomberg reports.

Romney Mistakenly Leaves the Republican Party

Salt Lake Tribune: "Mitt Romney, whose name keeps popping up as a possible three-time presidential candidate, would be wise to read legally binding documents before signing them, as demonstrated by a Utah voter-registration gaffe that appeared to have him shunning his Republican Party for independent status and using a home address he couldn't legally claim since 2009."

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."

Unemployment Rate Sinks Below 6%

The U.S. economy added 248,000 jobs added in September while the unemployment rate fell to 5.9%, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Can Obama Keep America Safe?

"The Secret Service's public humiliation and the country's first Ebola diagnosis--topics that would appear at least one step removed from partisan warfare--aren't ready-made issues for the campaign trail. But in roughly 24 hours, one candidate has managed to insert both into his own race," National Journal reports.

"Thom Tillis, the Republican Senate nominee from North Carolina, on Thursday called on President Obama to ban travel from Ebola-stricken countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, arguing that people from those countries could be vectors for the deadly disease. Just a day earlier, Tillis chided his opponent, Sen. Kay Hagan, and Obama for the Secret Service's litany of recent mistakes."

"In both instances, the criticism made essentially the same point: The president can't keep America safe."

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."

Pennsylvania Officials Resign Over Email Porn

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Christopher Abruzzo and a top aide resigned "over revelations that they were among dozens of state officials who sent or received pornographic e-mails over state computers," the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

"Their resignations made them the first high-ranking casualties of a scandal that has coursed through the capital as Gov. Tom Corbett (R) vies for a second term and one that widened Thursday to touch one of the state's most prominent judges, Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery."

Quote of the Day

"Isn't it a bitch, I mean... that vice president thing?"

-- Vice President Joe Biden, quoted by Roll Call, quickly adding, "I'm joking. I'm joking. I'm joking. The best decision I ever made."

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%.

McAuliffe Aide Offered Job to Senator's Daughter

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe's (D) chief of staff "left a voice-mail message for a Democrat who was on the verge of quitting the General Assembly in June, saying that the senator's daughter might get a top state job if he stayed to support the governor's push to expand Medicaid, according to descriptions from three people who heard the recording," the Washington Post reports.

"Then-Sen. Phillip P. Puckett wound up resigning, flipping control of the chamber to Republicans and thwarting McAuliffe's signature goal of expanding health coverage under the Affordable Care Act."

Archive: October 02, 2014

Nate Silver Rebuts Sam Wang

Exclusive to Political Wire, Nate Silver defends his critique of Sam Wang's election forecast. It's definitely worth reading.

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%.

On Wonk Wire

Some great clicks over at Wonk Wire:

Bonus Quote of the Day

"I would definitely vote for him, I think it's safe to say, otherwise I may not be invited back home for Thanksgiving."

-- George P. Bush (R), quoted by the Wall Street Journal, on whether he would support a White House bid for his father Jeb. He had previously said he was "staying out of the race."

Rise of the Independents?

A Smart Politics analysis finds that if Greg Orman is elected in 2014 he would join Vermont's Bernie Sanders and Maine's Angus King as the first trio of independents ever to serve in the U.S. Senate at the same time.

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."

Why Boehner Wants Bush to Run

"For the past year, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has been wooing his longtime friend Jeb Bush to jump into the 2016 presidential race, even as he has shunned potential Tea Party rivals like Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky," The Hill reports.

"The Speaker's preference for yet another Bush White House run is partly political, partly personal. He sees Bush as undeniably the strongest, most viable candidate who could pull the party together after a bruising primary and take on a formidable Hillary Clinton, sources said. And the two men are aligned politically, hailing from the same centrist strand of the GOP."

Quote of the Day

"I think he wants to be president."

-- George W. Bush, quoted by Politico, on his brother Jeb's intentions in 2016.

Secret Service Agent Leaked Obama's Campaign Schedule

"As scandal continues to envelop the Secret Service, InsideSources has learned of a security failure leading up to the 2012 election. Multiple sources inside the Romney presidential campaign confirm that a Secret Service agent provided details of President Obama's schedule several days prior to the President's campaign stops becoming public."

Panetta Says Obama is to Blame for Iraq Problems

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta blames the White House for much of the current chaos in Iraq in his new memoir, Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace.

Panetta writes that "our side viewed the White House as so eager to rid itself of Iraq that it was willing to withdraw rather than lock in arrangements that would preserve our influence and interests."

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."

Sam Wang Rebuts Nate Silver

For those interested in what has become an epic battle of election forecasters, Sam Wang responds to Nate Silver's extensive criticism of his midterm election forecasting model.

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."

Opposition Research Takes Center Stage

Politico: "Gotcha stories -- ranging from those tangentially related to issues of the day to the completely ephemeral and even absurd -- have been front and center in an abnormally large number of top races this year. And many of the most memorable hits bear the hallmarks of opposition research -- the unglamorous grunt work of combing through public records and, increasingly, tracking candidates in search of a compromising vote, court filing, financial transaction or quote."

"In an election in which candidates have mostly dodged the big issues facing the country, the dark art known as 'oppo' seems to be filling the void. And the trend lines suggest oppo's golden age may just be beginning."

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%.

Secret Service Chief Resigns

Julia Pierson, the director of the Secret Service, is resigning in the wake of several security breaches, the New York Times reports.

"The resignation came less than a day after lawmakers from both parties assailed Ms. Pierson's leadership and said they feared for the lives of the president and others in the protection of the agency."

Washington Post: "Support for Julia Pierson rapidly declined on Capitol Hill just hours after a congressional hearing where she avoided answering direct questions and gave conflicting accounts of a incident in which a man jumped the White House fence and ran inside the executive residence."

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%.

Bonus Quote of the Day

"I could have wiped Iran off the map with the weapons that we had, but in the process a lot of innocent people would have been killed, probably including the hostages."

-- Jimmy Carter, in an interview with CNBC, defending his decisions even if it meant he didn't show "that I was strong and resolute and, um, manly."

On Wonk Wire

Some great clicks over at Wonk Wire:

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.

Arkansas Candidate May Be Disqualified

Officials have cancelled the voter registration of Arkansas candidate for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R) for being registered to vote in multiple places, according to the Blue Hog Report.

The implications: "First, for the AG candidate of the party who likes to scream about voter fraud to be registered in two (or three) places at once is ironic and amusing on its own. However, the bigger implication is Article 19, section 3, of the Arkansas Constitution, which states: 'No persons shall be elected to, or appointed to fill a vacancy in, any office who does not possess the qualifications of an elector.'"

"The qualifications of an elector" include this that the person must be "Lawfully registered to vote in the election."

Quote of the Day

"I've not talked to him since he's been elected."

-- Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), in an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer, on Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

Romney is Still Buying Houses

New York Times: "Despite being dinged for conspicuous real estate consumption in 2012, he's building a not-at-all-humble mansion in Utah, with 5,900 square feet of living space, an outdoor gazebo, fire pit and spa. (Another 1 Percent touch: a 'secret door' leading to a storage room.) It will be Mr. Romney's fifth home - or his fourth - details, details - if he manages to sell his $12 million waterfront estate in La Jolla, Calif. (of car-elevator fame)"

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%.

Bathroom Sex Sting Continues to Cost Craig

Former Sen. Larry Craig's (R-IS) 2007 arrest in a Minnesota airport bathroom sex sting continues to cost the former senator, Roll Call reports.

"A federal judge in the District of Columbia has ordered the Idaho Republican to pay $242,535 to the Department of the Treasury... Federal Election Commission officials filed the complaint against Craig in 2012, alleging he illegally converted campaign money for personal use because the legal expenditures were not 'made in connection with Mr. Craig's campaign for federal office and were not ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in connection with his duties as a Senator.'"

Events Have Controlled Obama

First Read: "Every news cycle introduces the American public to another unbelievable -- and usually negative -- story. Over the summer, it was the rise of ISIS and the surface-to-air missile that destroyed a jetliner over Eastern Ukraine. Then there was the flood of unaccompanied Central American minors coming to the U.S.-Mexico border. After that, the beheadings of the American journalists in Syria. And now? On Tuesday, we learned about the first confirmed Ebola case diagnosed in the United States, and we also found about the U.S. Secret Service's latest misstep -- an armed contractor with a criminal record was allowed on an elevator next to the president of the United States."

"Take all of these stories together, and what you get is news-cycle whiplash, where it's one bad or scary story after another. The Ebola and Secret Service stories, in particular, underscore a feeling of insecurity for the country... Politically, it's difficult to dismiss how these negative storylines have defined Obama's sixth year in office and have highlighted a, well, lack of control over events. As we've said before, events have controlled Obama's second term more than the other way around."

Florida Had Longest Voting Lines

"Voters in Florida waited far longer than those in other states to cast their votes in the 2012 election, hampered by long ballots and cutbacks in early voting options," McClatchy reports.

"Voters in the state stood in line more than 34 minutes on average, significantly longer than ballot-casters did in any other state reviewed by the Government Accountability Office, Congress' watchdog. The shortest waits? Alaska, at just 1.4 minutes."

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%.

Ryan Would Not Run If Romney Does

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) told HuffPost Live he definitely won't mount a presidential campaign if his former running mate Mitt Romney decides to give it another try.

Said Ryan: "I wouldn't if he were. I would support Mitt. If he were to run, I would not."

GOP Balances Showing Concern While Blasting Obama

"President Obama must be touched by all the concern Republicans are showing him these days. As Congress examines security breaches at the White House, even opposition lawmakers who have spent the last six years fighting his every initiative have expressed deep worry for his security," the New York Times reports.

"Yet it would not be all that surprising if Mr. Obama were a little wary of all the professed sympathy. Although the target of the legislative scrutiny is the Secret Service, not the president, the furor over security has left the White House on the defensive. At Tuesday's Capitol Hill hearing and at the daily White House news briefing, the questions fueled an air of scandal: Who knew what when, and was there a cover-up?"

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."

Armed Man Rode Elevator With Obama

"A security contractor with a gun and three convictions for assault and battery was allowed on an elevator with President Obama during a Sept. 16 trip to Atlanta, violating Secret Service protocols," the Washington Post reports.

"Obama was not told about the lapse in his security."

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.

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

"My mistake was that I was speaking in a way that reflected back to the man. If I had been able to see the camera, I would have remembered that I was talking to the whole world, not just the man."

-- Mitt Romney, quoted by the New York Times, recognizing the potential of hidden cameras to wreck a presidential campaign.

Pataki Again Flirts With White House Bid

Former New York Gov. George Pataki (R) "is reportedly considering running for president in 2016, though a former aide says talk of a campaign is premature," the AP reports.

The New York Post says Pataki "is privately gearing up for a 2016 presidential run, according to sources, and was spotted meeting GOP kingmaker David Koch last week."

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."

Citizens of the Green Room

Coming this fall: Citizens of the Green Room: Profiles in Courage and Self-Delusion by Mark Leibovich.

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."

Assessing Obamacare

Wonk Wire: Obamacare's First Anniversary Report Card

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."

Ugly Fight Awaits Obama's Attorney General Nominee

Byron York: "President Obama has a pretty obvious deadline for nominating a successor to departing Attorney General Eric Holder. If Democrats lose control of the Senate in November, they'll still run things until newly-elected members arrive in January. So just to be safe, if the president wants guaranteed confirmation of a new attorney general, he'll need to pick one soon. That way, even if Republicans win the Senate, and even if Obama's choice is unpopular with the GOP, lame-duck Democrats will still be able to steamroll the opposition and confirm a new Attorney General."

"But it could be very, very ugly."

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."

Bonus Quote of the Day

"I was talking to one of my political advisers and I said: 'If I had to do this again, I'd insist that you literally had a camera on me at all times. I want to be reminded that this is not off the cuff."

-- Mitt Romney, quoted by the New York Times, on running for president.

Is Huckabee Gearing Up for Presidential Bid?

Longtime GOP consultant Ed Rollins told the Washington Post that former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee could be a formidable presidential candidate.

Said Rollins: "Mike has always thought 2016 would be his cycle. I think he's getting ready to go. Every sign out there is that he's thinking hard about it."

Quote of the Day

"As commander in chief, you're accountable. You're the one who is responsible whether the good ship of state is doing it right. The administration failed, and the president is the captain of the ship and should assume accountability."

-- Former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), quoted by National Journal, on President Obama claiming the CIA had "underestimated what had been taking place in Syria."

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.

Five States to Watch for 2016

"As the 2014 midterm campaigns enter the homestretch, the Republican Party needs a net gain of six seats in Senate to take back control -- and of course, it doesn't particularly matter which ones, as long as the party gets to 51. But looking down the road toward the White House race, the outcomes in specific states will be a strong indicator of the national political mood -- and Republicans' prospects -- heading into 2016," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"With that in mind, here are the five states that bear the most watching: Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire and North Carolina."

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)."

Romney's Campaign Memories

New York Times: "When you run for president twice, you tend to accumulate huge amounts of campaign souvenirs, gifts and other detritus. However elusive the ultimate prize, the trunkloads of consolation trophies endure: There are the plaques, the awards and the occasional engraved glass eagle ('I got it for a speech or something'). Then there are the homemade portraits of the candidate, sent in by supporters. The Romneys have also saved 22 of each campaign T-shirt, button and poster -- one for each of their grandchildren. From Ann's $1,000-a-plate birthday luncheon in April 2012, they have saved the cake topping of her on horseback that was commissioned by Donald Trump."

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."

Intruder Made It Deeper Into White House

Washington Post: "The man who jumped the White House fence this month and sprinted through the front door made it much farther into the building than previously known, overpowering one Secret Service officer and running through much of the main floor, according to three people familiar with the incident."

New York Times: "It is unheard of in recent decades for an intruder to make it in the White House, even a few steps inside one of the most secure buildings in the world."

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.

Astrologers Predict Future for Clinton Grandchild

"Leading astrologers say that Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky is destined for a future working on social justice and will enjoy a strong relationship with her proud grandparents, Hillary and Bill," Politico reports.

Cruz's Advisers Say He's Running for President

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) "is running for president. The only thing left for him to do is say so," National Journal reports.

"According to sources close to the Texas senator, Cruz could be preparing for an end-of-year announcement and is now dedicating considerable time and effort to cultivating a foreign-policy foundation that might help his candidacy stand out in what is guaranteed to be a crowded field."

Said one adviser: "At this point it's 90/10 he's in. And honestly, 90 is lowballing it."

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%.

You Can Be Fired for Running for Office

Businessweek: "A political candidate's firing in Florida offers a reminder of a little-understood fact of American life: Companies have sweeping discretion to effectively regulate what their workers do outside of work, including running for elected office."

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

"You women don't understand -- guns are for men what jewelry is for women."

-- Rep. Steve King (R-IA), quoted by TPM.

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."

Bonus Quote of the Day

"It would be an uphill fight, almost like climbing a wall. He would be running against someone who simultaneously has two television shows based on her. She is a political figure with such remarkable strength ahead of the campaign, unlike anything I've seen in my lifetime."

-- Former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE), quoted by the Washington Post, on the possibility of former Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) challenging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The Good Old Days

Annabelle Monaghan: "People seem to really like to talk about the good old days. Remember when kids played outside and could shake your hand because they weren't playing Angry Birds? I remember those days too, but here's what I also remember about growing up in the 70's..."

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."

Quote of the Day

"I've seen him grow and I've seen him mature and I've seen him become more centrist. I know that if he were President or a nominee I could influence him, particularly some of his views and positions on national security. He trusts me particularly on the military side of things, so I could easily work with him. It wouldn't be a problem."

-- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), quoted by the New Yorker, saying he would support Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) if he were the Republican nominee for president.

The Iron Man of American Politics

New York Times: "Twenty-two years after he won the White House and six years after his wife's near miss for the Democratic nomination, former President Bill Clinton again stands in the thick of the competition for the nation's highest office."

"That makes Mr. Clinton, who addressed his first national convention at age 33 and on Friday became a grandfather at 68, the most durable high-stakes player ever in American presidential politics."

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."

Rand Paul Goes Mainstream

Ryan Lizza: "In some respects, Paul is to Republicans in 2014 what Barack Obama was to Democrats in 2006: the Party's most prized fund-raiser and its most discussed senator, willing to express opinions unpopular within his party, and capable of energizing younger voters. The Republican National Committee, which in 2008 refused to allow his father, Ron Paul, to speak at its Convention, recently solicited donations by offering supporters a chance to have lunch with Rand Paul. The only potential obstacle to a Paul Presidential candidacy in 2016 is his wife, Kelley."

Said adviser Douglas Stafford: "Unless Kelley says no, he's running."

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

Quote of the Day

"At some point somebody's boots have to be on the ground."

-- House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), quoted Business Insider, on ISIS.

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%.

Most Think Ground Troops Will Be Used Against ISIS

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Annenberg poll finds that 72% of Americans say the United States will end up using its own combat troops against ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria, despite President Obama's assertion that U.S. combat troops won't be on the ground there.

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."

Traficant is Dead

Former Rep. James Traficant Jr. (D-OH), "whose career as a colorfully combative congressional gadfly ended in 2002 when he became the fifth House member ever expelled, died Saturday at a hospital in his native Youngstown," Roll Call reports.

The Vindicator first reported the news just days after Traficant was critically injured when the tractor he was driving at his family farm flipped over.

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."

How Campaigns Can Poison Governing

Amy Walter: "There's a reason why the people who run campaigns are rarely the people responsible for implementing policy. The job of a campaign operative is to work in absolutes - you win or you lose, there's no gray area. The job of a policy operative, of course, is to look for the gray, to look for solutions within the increasingly narrowing options of our polarized political system."

"However, the way one wins a campaign ultimately determines how an incumbent and his/her party can (or cannot) legislate. And, the way that both sides have boxed themselves in on tough issues like immigration, entitlements, and climate change on the campaign trail ultimately leaves little room for any meaningful compromise in a 2015 Congress."

New Players Flood Opposition Research

Wall Street Journal: "The craft of opposition research--finding information that might put an opponent in a negative light--has long been a staple of political campaigns. This year, independent groups are taking a leading role, adding to the research done by candidates and party committees."

"Like other parts of electioneering, such as buying TV airtime and soliciting donations by phone, opposition research is becoming a specialty of third-party groups. Two of the most prominent are America Rising, a 67-employee group that takes aim at Democrats, and American Bridge, whose 80-plus-staff targets Republicans. Both are backed by prominent donors--investor and money-manager George Soros, for example, has backed Democratic-aligned American Bridge, while hedge-fund founder Ken Griffin has given to America Rising."

Archive: September 26, 2014

Bonus Quote of the Day

"I think it is a compliment but I also think Republicans need to realize that if we're going to win national elections again the same old same old that has been losing will not win again."

-- Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), in an interview with David Brody, on the White House saying he was the most interesting Republican.

Former Senator Accused of Shakedown

"Defense attorneys for a Chicago businessman accused of illegal lobbying want to bring out at his trial next week allegations that then-Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) offered to try to get U.S. military contracts for a business in return for a job as a $250,000-a-year financial consultant after he left office," the Chicago Sun Times reports.

Why is Alaska Polling So Bad?

Sam Wang notes that "in any given year, approximately 10% of Alaska's population has just arrived or is about to move away."

"This is reminiscent of Nevada, which has very similar statistics. Nevada is also the site of a spectacularly wrong polling error. In fall of 2010, surveys unanimously showed Republican Sharron Angle favored to unseat Democratic Senator (and Majority Leader) Harry Reid, by a median of four percentage points. Every data-based prognosticator, including me, expected Angle to win. Yet Reid won the election by 5 points, outperforming polls by 9 points. I regard this as the worst miss of Senate polling in the last three election cycles."

"Based on the extreme mobility of Alaska residents, I suggest a problem of potentially far larger impact. Like Nevada, telephone-based surveys in both states simply fail to capture a sample that is fully representative of voters. In other words, I suggest that ideologically diverse states with lots of recent arrivals are subject to inaccuracy."

Kansas State Government Sells Sex Toys

"Kansas state government is on the verge of a financial windfall with the auctioning of thousands of sex toys seized by the revenue department for nonpayment of income, withholding and sales taxes," the Topeka Capital Journal reports.

Corbett Wants More Info on Porn Emails

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) "said today that he has asked state Attorney General Kathleen Kane for more information regarding old email accounts of top current and former Pennsylvania officials, including members of his own administration, that contained sexual images and videos," the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

Said Corbett: "I need the facts. I just can't have the opinion of one person as to whether an email was ever read or deleted. I don't know that to be the case."

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%.

Quote of the Day

"We should insist that ABC, NBC, CBS, they refer to the visitor according to the term that is politically correct: an undocumented White House visitor."

-- Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), quoted by TPM, on the man who jumped the fence at the White House.

On Wonk Wire

Some great clicks over at Wonk Wire:

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."

The Secret Goldman Sachs Tapes

Wonk Wire looks at newly-released secret recordings that Michael Lewis dubs the "Ray Rice video for the financial sector."

Cruz Will Fight Attempt to Replace Holder in Lame Duck

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) issued a political call to arms for conservatives, saying that outgoing senators should not vote on a new Attorney General nominee during the post-election lame-duck session, the Washington Post reports.

Said Cruz: "Allowing Democratic senators, many of whom will likely have just been defeated at the polls, to confirm Holder's successor would be an abuse of power that should not be countenanced."

Fiorina Apparently Serious About Exploring Presidential Bid

Carly Fiorina (R) "is hitting the campaign trail in the lead-up to Election Day for her new super PAC, teaching activists and politicians how to talk to female voters--and building herself a grassroots base in a half-dozen electorally important states in the process," National Journal reports.

"While her efforts are focused on helping the GOP win control of the Senate in November, political strategists say Fiorina is doing all the right things to prep for a 2016 bid. And the message she's touting is a preview of the kind of role she could play, if she runs."

Brady Will Challenge Ryan for Gavel

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) said that he "will seek the chairmanship of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, scrambling what was expected to be a smooth ascension to the post by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the 2012 GOP vice-presidential nominee and the party's architect of fiscal policy in the House," the Washington Post reports.

"Brady said in an interview that after months of weighing his options, he has decided to battle Ryan for the gavel. The move could force Ryan's hand on a 2016 presidential run."

Christie Ramps Up Travel Schedule

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) "has already spent more than a third of his second term outside of New Jersey, mostly stumping and raising money for fellow Republicans. As the midterm elections draw near, the prospective White House candidate is planning even more time on the road," the AP reports.

Bush Prepares for Possible Run

Politico: "Friends say Jeb Bush's father is eager for his son to run, even telling a visitor at a recent family gathering in Kennebunkport, Maine, that a presidential campaign and a return of the family dynasty to power was a near certainty. Wall Street financiers and Main Street CEOs eager for a centrist champion are longing for a Bush candidacy."

"But people who have met in recent weeks with Jeb Bush in New York, Washington and Florida say they are far less certain that a campaign will ultimately materialize. Some described Bush as deeply engaged on issues beyond his usual focus on immigration and education, suggesting he was very much preparing for a national race. Others said it seemed like concerns over how a run would impact his family ultimately might keep Bush on the sidelines."

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."

450K Virginia Voters May Lack ID

About 450,000 registered voters in Virginia may lack the proper identification needed to cast a ballot in the November midterm elections, the Washington Post reports.

Archive: September 25, 2014

Mitt Romney is Weighing Another Presidential Bid

Byron York reports that despite his denials, Mitt Romney "is talking with advisers, consulting with his family, keeping a close eye on the emerging '16 Republican field, and carefully weighing the pluses and minuses of another run. That doesn't mean he will decide to do it, but it does mean that Mitt 2016 is a real possibility."

"Nearly all of Romney's 2012 circle of advisers, finance people, and close aides remains intact. Many developed an extraordinary loyalty to Romney, who, in turn, has kept in close touch with them. Romney talks to some of them quite frequently in conversations that cover daily news, foreign and domestic policy, Hillary Clinton, the Republican field -- everything that might touch on a 2016 campaign."

Said one adviser: "Virtually the entire advisory group that surrounded Mitt in 2012 are eager for him to run, almost to a man and a woman."

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%.

Quote of the Day

"I think it's deliberate. I think he has a world view, and increasingly what he's found is that it isn't consistent with reality."

-- Dick Cheney, quoted by the Huffington Post, on why he thinks President Obama has been so wrong in response to the terrorist threat to the United States.

FBI Has Identified Terrorist Who Beheaded Journalists

"The U.S. believes it has identified the British-accented masked man in the videos depicting the beheadings of two American journalists and a British aid worker," the AP reports.

"FBI Director James Comey told reporters at the bureau's headquarters he would not reveal the man's name or nationality."

Colorado is a Perfect Purple

A Gallup poll finds that 42% of Coloradans in the first half of 2014 identified as or leaned Republican and 42% identified as or leaned Democratic.

Holder Will Resign as Attorney General

Attorney General Eric Holder "is resigning, the Justice Department said Thursday, but plans to remain in office until a successor is confirmed," the New York Times reports.

"Mr. Holder, the 82nd attorney general and the first African-American to serve in that position, had previously said he planned to leave office by the end of this year. Particularly in President Obama's second term, Mr. Holder has been the most prominent liberal voice of the administration, leading its push for same-sex marriage and voting rights."

The Hill reports that some Republicans "are warning President Obama against using a lame-duck session of Congress to push through Holder's replacement, even as the White House signals its intention to fill the post quickly."

Ugly Politics Stays on TV

Joe Klein: "It sounded to me, at first, like the Republicans had wised up in 2014. They were serving up smoked brisket, not red meat. There was a rationale for this: white women are likely to be the swing group in the North Carolina and Georgia elections. Women tend not to respond to rhetorical violence. Walker, the minister running for Congress, mentioned neither gay rights nor abortion. It was, I thought, grounds for optimism about the growing climate threat of political overheating. But after I saw the Perdue ad in Georgia, I realized that I--like the lovely folks who set up my road-trip ­meetings--was living in a community-­oriented past, where speeches and rallies meant something. Nowadays, a candidate can be all smiles and more-in-sadness-than-in-anger on the stump, and run ads that are sicker than swamp gas on television, where it really counts."

On Wonk Wire

Some great clicks over at Wonk Wire:

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."

Bush Gets Rough Welcome Back on Campaign Trail

"In one of his first public appearances of the 2014 campaign, former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida had a vivid preview Wednesday of the challenges he would face with his party's conservative base should he seek the Republican nomination for president in 2016," the New York Times reports.

"Standing alongside Thom Tillis, the North Carolina House speaker and Republican Senate candidate, Mr. Bush outlined his views on two of the issues he cares most passionately about: immigration policy and education standards. But as Mr. Bush made the case for an immigration overhaul and the Common Core standards, Mr. Tillis gently put distance between himself and his guest of honor, who had flown here from Florida on a dreary day to offer his endorsement in a race that could decide which party controls the Senate."

Roberts Declared Virginia Home His Residence

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) "put a signature to documents associated with the mortgage on a Virginia residence that identify the Fairfax County home as 'principal residence' of the three-term incumbent Republican," the Topeka Capital Journal reports.

"The re-election campaign of the Kansan has been awash in controversy about whether his ownership of a duplex in Dodge City, which is rented out, and his payment of about $300 a month for a room in a Dodge City supporter's home satisfied legal requirements for public office."

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."

Iraq Looms Large Again for Clinton

Washington Post: "War in Iraq is a subject that won't go away for Clinton, whose Senate vote in 2002 to authorize the last war in that Middle Eastern country put her out of step with the Democratic base six years later. She lost her bid for president to a challenger who, as an obscure Illinois state senator, had come down on the antiwar side."

"Now weighing another White House run, Clinton is faced again with the problems in Iraq and her role in shaping U.S. policy in the region. The airstrikes on the Islamic State group have inflamed the Democratic left, adding another potential line of attack against her if she decides to run for the White House."

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

Conversation with Sam Wang

Sam Wang, founder of the Princeton Election Consortium, joins us on the Political Wire podcast for a discussion of his midterm election forecasting model which has consistently shown Democrats likely to retain control of the Senate.

Listen here:

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Special thanks to the Cook Political Report for sponsoring this episode. If you aren't reading it, you're missing a lot.

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.

How Conservatives View Liberals

The Heritage Foundation -- "which prides itself as being the intellectual backbone of the conservative movement" -- held a conference on the future of liberalism, MSNBC reports.

Heritage's David Azerrad set the tone by describing the philosophy of the left: "Give up your economic freedom, give up your political freedom, and you will be rewarded with license. It's all sex all the time. It's not just the sex itself -- it's the permission to indulge."

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%.

Candidate Says He's Being 'Ambushed' by Media

Embattled Laguna Beach City Council candidate Jon Madison says he is being "ambushed" over evidence that he falsified his age, educational and work histories on his campaign website, the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot reports.

Said Madison: "I am who I am. I don't think my educational history or my age or voter registration has anything to do with what I'm trying to do in this city."

He added: "This is my first rodeo, and I'm disappointed that the media are bringing me down."

GOP Accidently Reveals Secret Donor List

An error by the Republican Governors Association "recently resulted in the disclosure of exactly the kind of information that political committees given tax-exempt status normally keep secret, namely their corporate donors and the size of their checks," the New York Times reports.

"The trove of documents... sheds light on the secretive world of 501(c)(4) political groups, just as the battle over their future intensifies. Unlike the Republican Governors Association, the tax-exempt Republican Governors Public Policy Committee is not required to disclose anything, even as donors hit the links, rub shoulders and trade policy talk with governors and their top staff members."

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 Candidate Voted in Two States

Illinois state representative candidate Kathy Myalls (R) "has voted in both Illinois and Wisconsin in recent years," the Chicago Sun Times reports.

"In one case, she cast a vote in a primary election in Illinois. Then just three months later, records show she voted in Wisconsin to cast a ballot in the state's recall election... Myalls then voted in Wisconsin's presidential general election in 2012 before returning to Illinois to vote the following spring. "


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