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Leading Off:

WI-Sen: Two different polls have good news in the Wisconsin Senate race, where previous polls following the GOP primary have all given Republican ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson a lead. Both of the polls giving Dem Tammy Baldwin the lead are Democratic-sponsored polls, though, so keep that caveat in mind. One is a poll from the Feldman Group for the Baldwin campaign; they give her a 50-45 lead. (They also give us trendlines by way of reference to an August poll which, naturally, they didn't release, seeing it had Baldwin trailing 50-44.)

I'd be a little skeptical, but we've got confirmation from a good second source: PPP, though here it's on behalf of DFA, rather than on their own accord. This poll puts Baldwin ahead of Thompson 48-45, though it has one very surprising result: Baldwin is actually running ahead of Barack Obama, who's leading Mitt Romney 49-48. (I'm having trouble visualizing what a Romney/Baldwin voter looks like.) This poll gives Thompson terrible 40/53 favorables, so more so than a convention bounce, this may reflect that steady ads hitting Thompson on his DC-insider-ness by third-party groups may be taking a toll. At any rate, we'll get some more confirmation later this week, from both PPP again (this time on their own) and from Marquette Law.

Also a potential explanation for Thompson's sudden reversal of fortune: his campaign has been unusually quiet for the last few weeks, while Baldwin's has been highly active. The Wisconsin State Journal calculates that Thompson has only had three public appearances since he won the nomination, while Baldwin has had at least 24 in the same period. You might think the septuagenarian Thompson needs some time to physically recuperate after the bitter primary, but according to observers, it sounds more like he's trying to fix financial damage from the primary, focusing on refilling his coffers. (In the pre-primary FEC report, Thompson had only about 10% as much cash on hand as Baldwin.)

Intro

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Senate:

DE-Sen: If you're like me, you're sitting there thinking "Today's Senate races just aren't hilarious enough." Well, if you can sit tight until 2014, your problems will be fixed, because Christine O'Donnell says she's considering a rematch with Dem incumbent Chris Coons in 2014. (If you're wondering why that's happening after just four years, remember the delightful 2010 DE-Sen election was a special election caused by Joe Biden's resignation.)

FL-Sen, OH-Sen, VA-Sen: I know I'm not alone in the impression that Rasmussen seems to stalk other pollsters, popping up shortly in a state shortly after PPP or Quinnipiac has just polled there. This time, looks like he's following Marist, hot on the heels of their trio of polls in this year's Big 3 swing states. Nevertheless, Rasmussen finds good results in all three Senate races, including a result that's even better for Dem Tim Kaine (who Marist found tied in VA-Sen).

FL: Bill Nelson 47 (47), Connie Mack IV 40 (40)

OH: Sherrod Brown 49 (44), Josh Mandel 41 (44)

VA: Tim Kaine 47 (45), George Allen 45 (45)

HI-Sen: Linda Lingle's newest ad (running, no doubt, nonstop on Lingle's cable channel) is a bunch of quick snippets of various average-looking people endorsing Lingle. Some of them even say they're Democrats. That kind of pitch -- especially in a race where a candidate from the state's out-party needs to tout bipartisanship in order to have a hope -- is not unusual at all, but Talking Points Memo did a quick fact check and found that several of the self-described Democrats, well, aren't. Two of the endorsers, in fact, ran for the state legislature as Republicans in 2004, and a third one is a retired judge who was appointed by a Republican. (Ooops.)

IN-Sen: A new poll for the campaign of Democratic nominee Joe Donnelly spots him a narrow lead over Republican Richard Mourdock in the open-seat race to replace veteran Republican Dick Lugar, who was dispatched by Mourdock in the GOP primary in May.

The poll, conducted by Global Strategy Group, gave Donnelly a 45-42 lead over Mourdock. The polling memo also noted that they took the temperature of the presidential race, giving Mitt Romney a six-point lead over Barack Obama. That lends some credibility to the Senate numbers, as that kind of lead for Romney hints that the poll does not appear to be the product of Democratic oversampling.

Most telling, as it has been since Mourdock clinched the Republican nomination, is the relative dearth of GOP polling in the race. The lone GOP contribution was an early August poll by Market Research Institute showing Mourdock up just 41-39. (Steve Singiser)

Get ready to see a lot of advertising in the Indiana Senate race, too. You may remember that late last week the DSCC bought $516K in airtime in Indiana; well, the ante is upped, with the NRSC buying $650K in response to boost their nominee Richard Mourdock.

And what's that meaty smell wafting out of Indiana? Why, it's a fresh tin of post-facto cat fud: while Richard Lugar isn't actively trying to knife Richard Mourdock in the back any more (in the wake of Mourdock's GOP primary victory over Lugar), he did just announce that he won't publicly campaign for Mourdock in the closing months. (And if the polling is right, every vote Lugar does or doesn't move is going to count for a lot.)

MA-Sen (pdf): Cue up the "Elizabeth Warren comeback" narratives in the Beltway media! Two different polls released in the last day give the Democratic challenger a lead, after a brief dry spell in August where Scott Brown seemed to be taking command of the race. No doubt there will be a "convention bounce" angle to many of the stories, since Warren had a high-profile speech there and the convention seems to have generally boosted Dem polling fortunes -- but considering the stability of the race (which has almost always averaged out to a tie for the last year, even amidst Warren's Native American ancestry flap), it seems just as probable that the two August polls that got everyone in a tizzy were coincidentally off a bit, and everything has reverted back to the usual mean.

One of the polls is from Public Policy Polling, who gave us one of those August polls (with Brown leading Warren 49-44). In today's sample, Warren leads 48-46. That's thanks to improved consolidation among Democrats (up 81-13 among Dems, instead of 73-20 like last time), and improved favorables (51/43, instead of 46/43). Warren seems to doing better on getting people to understand the stakes of electing another Republican, even a likeable one -- but the shakeup in her media team and change in tenor to more anti-Brown ads is very recent (last week, really), so I'd be surprised if that moved the numbers that quickly.

On top of that, there's also a poll from Western New England University (on behalf of MassLive), which puts Warren up by a more substantial 50-44 among LVs, and a crazy 53-41 among RVs. This poll has her up an even better 89-6 among Dems. This one doesn't change the polling calculus as much, because WNEU's last poll also had Warren in the lead (though that poll, where she led by 2, was back in May).

MO-Sen: Everyone has been focused on Sep. 25 as the absolute drop-dead date for Todd Akin to pull the ripcord on his flailing candidacy (in order to let the state GOP pick somebody else to replace him). However, according to the state's Secretary of State, Robin Carnahan, the practical deadline is a few days sooner. Ballots to overseas military voters must be in the mail by Sep. 22, thanks to federal law, and since that's a Saturday, ballots will drop on Sep. 21. So, his de facto deadline if he wants to go to court and get a judge to sign off on any hypothetical dropout would be this week.

Meanwhile, as Akin scrambles for small-donor cash to replace the national committee money he won't be getting, he's biting some familiar Republican hands (though perhaps one that his constituents aren't familiar with). Case in point his fundraising e-mail from last Friday, which bashed ex-Mississippi Gov. and ex-RNC head Haley Barbour as "the Godfather of DC party bosses." The pushback has been even stronger from Akin's wife, who's also one of the key players in his campaign staff; in comparing Akin's plight to that of the Founders, she somehow managed to bring the whole thing full-circle, inexplicably bringing the subject back to rape somehow:

She cited colonists who “rose up and said, ‘Not in my home, you don’t come and rape my daughters and my … wife. But that is where we are again.
Finally, the Akin campaign is out with a new ad, which ties together Claire McCaskill with Barack Obama, mostly stitched together with footage of her from her own town halls. Despite Akin's earlier setbacks with not being able to pay for TV time, this ad has apparently run at least in the Springfield media market starting this weekend (though of course bear in mind that Springfield's market is only a small part of the state, which is dominated by St. Louis and Kansas City).

NM-Sen: Some things are better left to the imagination. One of them is internal polling... when you're losing the race. Nevertheless, for some reason, Heather Wilson just released an internal poll (taken by POS) showing her trailing Dem Martin Heinrich by 5 points, 46-41. Apparently it's an attempt to show large donors that she's still not quite dead yet, even if the NRSC has given up on the race... but I'm not sure even the most loose-walleted donor would show much interest in the race if that's the best she can come up with.

Ads:

MI-Sen: Debbie Stabenow's first ad goes down the same road as opponent Pete Hoekstra's most notorious ad: going after China. Stabenow avoids racist stereotyping in favor of talking about her role in legislation targeting Chinese trade violations, and gets the CEO of a local auto parts company to speak on her behalf.

MT-Sen: The DSCC's latest ad in the ad-saturated Montana race is an anti-Dennis Rehberg ad, using some damning words he spoke at a speech to the American League of Lobbyists.

NV-Sen: The DSCC is also out with its first salvo in Nevada, where the tag line is "Nevadans are going to need a bigger piggy bank." The anti-Dean Heller ad is health care-themed, focusing on the $6,400 in increased out-of-pocket Medicare costs associated with the Ryan budget.

VA-Sen: Tim Kaine is out with his second ad in Spanish, featuring some man-on-the-street folks touting his positions on immigration reform and education. The Kaine camp is also out with a 60-second radio ad, comparing & contrasting with George Allen on reproductive health issues.

WV-Sen: Joe Manchin's newest ad, a speak-to-the-camera spot, is short on specifics, but long on declarations of how much he loves the country and the promise that it offers.

Gubernatorial:

NJ-Gov: It'll be a while till we find out whether Chris Christie will run for a second term as Governor in 2013, or whether he wants to pull a Mitt Romney. (Which is to say, to decide not to blunt his 2016 momentum by risking a loss in a hotly-contested blue-state gubernatorial re-election. Presumably he wouldn't want to replicate anything else Romney has done lately.) He says he won't make a decision on that until after Election Day in November, though the subtext of a lot of his recent statements points toward another run.

NC-Gov: One more Rasmussen poll: it's from the same North Carolina sample that found Mitt Romney ahead of Barack Obama by 6.

Pat McCrory (R) 51 (46), Walter Dalton (D) 38 (41)

WA-Gov: Dem Jay Inslee got a big cash infusion thanks to a Seattle fundraising visit from Bill Clinton, who spoke at an event that drew 3,000 people... and around $750,000 from those people. The state and national parties have tended to kick in what's needed to keep the financial side of the race at parity, so it may be the RGA's turn to pony up this time.

Ads:

MT-Gov: The RGA is out with an ad attacking Dem Steve Bullock (the state's AG, going for the promotion to Governor) for filing lawsuits against companies that "create jobs" (because, of course, if a company creates jobs, everything else they do must also be legal as well, QED) and for giving contract work to law firms that donate to his campaign.

WA-Gov: Someone at GOPer Rob McKenna's campaign must have noticed how poorly he's doing with women in the polls, because his new ad might as well have a pink bow glued on top of it; over soft-focus photographs, a female narrator touts his work working to stop domestic violence and sexual predators.

House:

IN-08, TX-23: The Congressional Leadership Fund (which is John Boehner's PAC) and the American Action Network (one of the main dark money groups, though one with a close relationship with House leadership) are out with new ads in a total of six districts. Two of the AAN ads aren't available yet, in TX-23 and IN-08. The 8th is good news because this is the first ad from a third-party group (though GOP incumbent Larry Buchson and Dem challenger Dave Crooks have traded a few campaign ads back and forth); this was one where, in absence of any polls, it didn't look clear whether it would become competitive, but clearly it has, lately. The TX-23 buy is for $300K; the IN-08 buy is for $80K, though remember that's a super-cheap district for paid media. The other ads are summarized in our ad wrapup, though we'll give you the SOTB here: $1 mil in OH-16, $510K in MN-08, $540K in CA-10, and $320K in IL-13.

PA-07: We at Daily Kos Elections keep wondering what it is the DCCC keeps seeing behind-the-scenes in Pennsylvania's 7th, because from our vantage point, we keep not seeing it. Democrat George Badey (who's taking on GOP frosh Pat Meehan) has a nastily-redistricted district, tolerable six-digit fundraising, and an internal from May showing him down by 20. Nevertheless, the DCCC has regularly included his district in their mass-robocall waves, and now they've give him the ultimate Seal of Approval: they've added him to their Red to Blue program.

Ads:

CA-10: This has to be considered good news, that Jose Hernandez has risen far enough for dark-money wizards AAN to start taking whacks at him. After lobbing some carpetbagging charges at him, they also try tying him to the stimulus and health care reform.

FL-09: Alan Grayson moves to general election mode with a nice intro spot hitting the various ways he's stood up for the little guy over his career.

IL-13: AAN goes after David Gill for, OMG, supporting single-payer health care, "a plan more radical than Obamacare!" (To which he'd say, "Um, guilty as charged?")

KY-06: Andy Barr tries to do some Medicare jujitsu with his chaotic new anti-Ben Chandler ad, seeing Chandler's $6,400 figure (of increased Medicare costs under the Ryan plan) and raising it $700 million (the GOP's obfuscating claim of Democratic "cuts" to Medicare).

MN-08: AAN is out with two different anti-Rick Nolan ads, one for the Minneapolis market and a different one for Duluth. The MSP ad goes back to the 70s to hit Nolan for his attempts to replace Medicare with a single-payer system, while the Duluth ad is more job-o-centric and focuses on the EPA's denial of mining permits.

NV-03: The NRCC hits Dem candidate John Oceguera for various offenses during his time in the legislature, leading off with the expensive legislators' gym that was built under Oceguera's watch.

NV-04: The NRCC takes the same approach with their new IE ad next door in the 4th, hitting Steven Horsford over 'pay for play' allegations. (The NRCC also released IE ads in seven other districts on Monday -- IA-01, IA-04, IL-12, MI-01, NY-21, PA-12, and WI-07 -- but the links don't seem available for those yet.)

NY-18: GOP freshman Nan Hayworth's campaign's newest ad mostly focuses on Sean Maloney's carpetbagging out of Manhattan and into the Hudson Valley, while throwing in a little Eliot Spitzer linkage for good measure.

NY-19: Republican freshman Chris Gibson's first ad is a one-minute-long bio spot, focusing on his military service.

OH-16: The Congressional Leadership Fund throws the kitchen sink at Dem Betty Sutton in her member-on-member battle, hitting her with cap and trade, Obamacare, the stimulus, and general Pelosi-lapdog-ism.

TX-14: Dem Nick Lampson, going for his second comeback to Congress in the open 14th, does the speak-to-the-camera thing for his first ad, talking about bipartisanship and past legislative successes.

WV-03: Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall, flanked by some random grandmotherly types, vows to the camera not to let the Republicans make any cuts to Medicare.

Grab bag:

OR-St. Sen.: An unexpected resignation by one of the state's key moderate Republicans has big implications for the narrowly-divided Oregon State Senate (where Dems currently have a 16-14 edge). Frank Morse is resigning his seat, as of Monday, in the Dem-leaning SD-08, balanced between light-red Albany and dark-blue Corvallis. Morse's term wasn't going to be up until 2014; there's not likely to be enough time to have a November special election, so instead there's likely to be a GOP appointee in the seat for a year, but it'll be hard for a GOPer other than the well-liked Morse to hold the seat.

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Sep 18, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Badger State Progressive, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, Progressive Hippie, and Daily Kos.

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