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Leading Off:

WI-Sen: Well, Tommy Thompson's gone straight-up delusional:

Speaking today at an event where he received the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Tommy Thompson said he does not think his son needs to apologize publicly or to the president for joking about sending Barack Obama "back to Kenya" at a GOP fundraiser.

"He has already apologized, and that's enough," Thompson said at a Milwaukee news conference this afternoon. "It was an offhanded remark that somebody mentioned in the audience. If you look at the movie, he didn't say it. Somebody in the audience said it and he repeated it, and I've talked to him about it and he apologized and that's it."

Uh, except:
Jason Thompson spoke to a Kenosha County GOP fundraiser on Sunday when he said, "We have the opportunity to send President Obama back to Chicago... or Kenya."

The comment, referencing the claim that the president was not born in the United States, drew laughs and applause at the Kenosha County GOP Fall Brunch. A woman in the crowd added, "We're taking donations for that Kenya trip."

And of course he's a recidivist. Thanks to a video leaked to the HuffPo, it now turns out Jason Thompson engaged in a little light birther humor once before. And it might help explain Tommy's delusions:
According to video recorded at a "United In Freedom" rally in Fond Du Lac, Wis. on Oct. 6, Jason—an attorney who has been an active campaigner for his father—tells the audience, "We have an opportunity to send President Obama back to Chicago."

The audience then cheers, and a few people yell out, "Back to Kenya!"

"That would even be better," chuckles Jason Thompson.

Maybe this is "the movie" Tommy was referring to, as opposed to film of the incident from this past Sunday? If so, how did his campaign screw up and show him the wrong video? And not seem to realize there were two separate occasions where this came up? And also, HuffPo's version was provided by a Democratic tracker, so does that mean Tommy's own campaign had footage of the Oct. 6 event? If so, then they screwed up even harder—they're keeping video records of Jason Thompson's foot-in-mouth disease but can't figure out which clips to show the boss-man. Absurd.

Unfortunately, though, Marquette Law's newest poll doesn't have very happy news for Democrats: Somehow, Thompson has moved into a 46-45 lead over Baldwin, in contrast with a 48-44 Baldwin edge at the end of September. Perhaps the president is dragging her down, though: Obama's suffered a huge collapse from 53-42 down to just 49-48. Marquette's prior poll seemed perhaps too optimistic, but the POTUS's numbers are actually in line with other recent surveys from PPP and Quinnipiac. But in many other states, we haven't seen Obama's sagging fortunes harm Democratic Senate candidates, or at least, not this much. I guess the silver lining is that Baldwin's drop is only half the size of Obama's.

Baldwin, however, immediately fired back with a well-timed internal of her own. (Marquette makes it easy by telegraphing their polling schedule far in advance.) The Feldman Group has her up 48-44, not too different from her 50-45 mark last month. There are no presidential numbers, though. I have to wonder if Tommy will respond.

Senate:

AZ-, IN-Sen: Indiana and Arizona continue to be big, unanticipated problems for Republicans. To wit: The Club for Growth is now chipping in $600K in the former and $900K in the latter, to boost GOP fortunes in these two seats which are currently—if tenuously—held by Republicans.

CT-Sen (PDF): Siena's new poll of the Connecticut Senate race (their first of the cycle) still indicates the contest is a tossup: Democrat Chris Murphy leads Republican Linda McMahon by a slim 46-44 margin. Obama, though, is beating Romney 53-38, which is not only one of the healthiest leads he's ever had in public polling of the Nutmeg State, but also seems to indicate that he didn't get walloped here post-first debate. However, the field period on this survey is a bit strange: It was conducted over eleven days, stretching from Oct. 4 through 14. Given how much a race can change over that length of time (and on the presidential front, given how much it did change), fielding a poll over that many days can't be regarded as a best practice.

IN-Sen: Just what Richard Mourdock needs: Dick Lugar, via a spokesman, stepped out of the twilight to inform the world that a mailer sent out by a conservative super PAC claiming he's supporting Mourdock in the general election was "clearly unauthorized." For good measure, Lugar also "reiterated" that he won't campaign for Mourdock, either. And I thought Lugar had decided to get over this at that Senate lunch a while back, no? Guess not.

MA-Sen: In addition to their Montana survey (see below), the LCV is out with numbers in Massachusetts, and Elizabeth Warren has to feel very good about these. PPP sees her up 53-44 over GOP Sen. Scott Brown, the biggest lead she's ever had in any poll, and up from 50-44 a week ago. There's also some improvement for Obama, who's at 57-39, versus 55-43 last time. Obviously the POTUS isn't going to lose the Bay State, but his post-debate slide seemed to affect him in almost every type of state—red, blue, or swing. So it's good to see him (hopefully) recovering a bit, regardless of where.

MO-Sen: Dem Sen. Claire McCaskill's out with yet another internal (from Kiley & Company once more), and now she's out to a hefty 52-38 lead over Todd Akin. That's up from 50-41 at the end of last month and 48-42 at the beginning of September.

MT-Sen (PPP for LCV): Jon Tester (D-inc): 46 (45), Denny Rehberg (R): 44 (43), Dan Cox (L): 7 (8); Romney 53-43 (52-41).

VA-Sen: I'm not gonna get too excited about this one: The NRSC is cutting back its media buys in Virginia on behalf of George Allen, but only on radio, and for an unspecified sum.

Gubernatorial:

IL-Gov: Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle says she won't run for governor in 2014 and will seek re-election to her current post. Though the sitting governor, Pat Quinn, is, like Preckwinkle, also a Democrat, his weak standing in the polls and his narrow wins in both the 2010 primary and general (following his ascension to office thanks to Rod Blagojevich's impeachment) have made him a potential target for rivals from his own party.

NJ-Gov: We interrupt all this 2012 polling to bring you... a 2013 poll. These days, Quinnipiac is testing GOP Gov. Chris Christie, who's up for re-election next year, against actual possible Democratic candidates, rather than just Generic Ds. The strongest performance comes from Newark mayor Cory Booker, who trails just 46-42—a bit tighter than the 47-40 spread Quinnipiac saw last month, when they first began asking head-to-heads. They've also tossed a few new names into the mix: Christie leads state Sen. Richard Codey 47-41, state Sen. Barbara Buono 49-33, and Assemblyman Lou Greenwald 50-31.

Codey has some name rec, since he's served as governor a few times, though he's never been directly elected to the job. (New Jersey only recently instituted the position of lieutenant governor, meaning that a number of different people, Codey included, have served as acting governor for various reasons over the years.) Buono and Greenwald are essentially unknown. But this is by no means the entire potential field: There are still a number of other Democrats whose names have been circulated by the Great Mentioner, including EPA chief Lisa Jackson.

WA-Gov: We haven't seen a poll since July that put Republican Rob McKenna in the lead in the Washington gubernatorial race, but the RGA still seems to think they can flip this one. (Also, they have tens of millions in cash on hand and not a lot of competitive races this year, so they've gotta spend somewhere.) So they've just announced another $4.25 million in spending on the contest, in two installments. That brings their total here up to $11.4 mil, now far ahead of the $7.9 mil for the DGA-funded Our Washington PAC, breaking the parity that the two groups have maintained all cycle. (David Jarman)

House:

AZ-09: Republican Vernon Parker says he's got a poll (looks like a one-day job) from the Summit Group that has him up 44-42 over Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. There are no presidential toplines, but you know this poll is accurate because the head-to-heads are reported to the hundredths of a percent. (In case you aren't familiar with this hobby-horse of mine, I'm being deeply sarcastic. Pollsters should not report anything in decimals—it just conveys a false sense of precision.)

CA-21: Republican Assemblyman David Valadao lucked out when Democrats nominated third-stringer John Hernandez in the race for this swingish open seat, but did he get a little too complacent over his good fortune? Though most analysts had written this seat off for Team Blue, in recent weeks, word came out that two different outside conservative groups were unexpectedly going to spend money to shore up their guy. Indeed, Crossroads has already shelled out $185K to run ads, while Valadao himself has finally gone up on the air as well.

And now, trying to push back against this burgeoning narrative that this seat's somehow become competitive, Valadao's also out with an internal poll from Moore Information which shows him leading Hernandez 53-33. However, no presidential toplines or demographic breakdowns are included in the memo, so there's no way to judge the nature of the sample Moore tested. But given Hernandez's shoestring campaign and general lack of interest in this race by national Dems, I'd be surprised if we saw a responsive poll here.

CA-30: Well, you had to figure Howard Berman would go there. Trailing badly in the polls to fellow Dem Rep. Brad Sherman, he's now released a new TV spot featuring Sherm's now-infamous outburst at recent debate. Among many other problems, though, Berman doesn't have a whole lot of cash left ($394K vs. $1.8 mil for his opponent), and that doesn't go very far in the expensive Los Angeles media market.

FL-22: We have two competing polls in Florida's brand-new 22nd District, but interestingly, both are from Democratic sources (with a caveat). The first is a DCCC in-house robo, pegging Democrat Lois Frankel with a 49-39 lead over Republican Adam Hasner. Obama, predictably, is slightly underperforming his 2008 numbers, with a 53-43 advantage compared to 57-43 four years ago.

More concerning, though, is this new PPP survey, which was taken for a couple of local media outfits owned by Scripps. (PPP of course is a Democratic firm, but media companies hire them from time to time as well.) Here, Frankel has a mere 47-44 edge over Hasner, while Obama's at just 51-44. As you may recall, we recently mentioned that the conservative YG Action Fund was reportedly abandoning Hasner, but perhaps national Republicans will reconsider. That said, it's hard to imagine Obama doing much worse than what PPP's seeing, so this may well represent a floor for Democratic fortunes in this district.

GA-12: Dem Rep. John Barrow, trying to capitalize on his recent endorsement by the NRA, features not one but two guns in his latest ad: a revolver he says his grandfather used to "help stop a lynching" and a rifle his father kept "handy, just to keep us safe." Concludes Barrow: "These are my guns now, and ain't nobody gonna take `em away."

IL-10: What a clown: GOP Rep. Bob Dold! told a local reporter that he had a poll purportedly showing him up 46-36 over Democrat Brad Schneider... but he wouldn't even share the name of the pollster! Whatever.

MI-06: Looks like Rep. Fred Upton is trying to nip this one in the bud—with a chainsaw. Following an internal from Democrat Mike O'Brien showing the race unexpectedly close, Upton's come out with his own poll (from Hill Research) that's got him up by a punishing 58-27 margin. O'Brien's survey was enough to get him added to the DCCC's bottom-rung "Emerging Races" list; Upton's will probably keep him there.

NE-02: This is certainly unexpected: The DCCC is out with a one-day in-house robopoll of Nebraska's 2nd, a district that isn't even on its "Emerging Races" list. They find GOP Rep. Lee Terry leading Democrat John Ewing by a slim 48-44 margin. Terry's actually spent a ton trying to lock down this seat (about $1.9 million), running a lot of negative ads against the underfunded Ewing, so if NE-02 is actually in play, that would be quite something. The difficulty for Ewing is that he doesn't have a lot of cash (though Terry doesn't have a ton left either, at this point)—as well as the fact that Obama doesn't appear to be competing for the Omaha-area's lone electoral vote.

So I sort of wonder if the D-Trip is releasing a cheapo poll to head-fake Republicans into thinking the map is bigger than it really is, even if a Ewing win remains very unlikely. That said, we've steadfastly kept a Likely R rating on this seat for precisely this kind of eventuality: Terry's never had a strong grip on this swingish turf, and the presidential race still makes everything a wildcard.

NM-01: The Albuquerque Journal's new statewide poll (from Research & Polling) also had House components (though disregard the numbers for the uncompetitive 2nd and 3rd Districts as the sample sizes are absurdly small). In the open 1st, though, they have Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham beating Republican Janice-Arnold Jones by a 51-37 spread, up from 46-34 in September. That's not too far off a recent MLG internal that had her up 55-40.

NV-04: Well ugh. Republican Danny Tarkanian is touting a new internal from the Tarrance Group that puts him on top by a scary-looking 50-40 over Democrat Steven Horsford in Nevada's brand-new 4th District. That's also an improvement for Tark from a 47-41 edge he sported in his own polling back in July. No presidential toplines, though. Let's see if Dems respond.

TN-04: In an effort to capitalize on the explosive revelations that supposedly "pro-life" GOP Rep. Scott DesJarlais carried on an affair with a patient and then later tried to pressure her to have an abortion, Democrat Eric Stewart is out with a new internal poll showing the race a lot closer than I'm sure it ever was before. The survey, from Myers Research, has DesJarlais up just 49-44 (though the memo insists on calling the spread a "statistical dead heat," which it ain't). This is a brutally tough district: Romney leads Obama 56-38, which is actually somewhat better than the 63-36 drubbing Obama received here in 2008. The generic congressional ballot's a challenge, too, with Republicans leading 52-39, though it's interesting that Romney's running ahead of Generic R (while DesJarlais, of course, is running behind).

While prior toplines aren't provided, the memo also says that DesJarlais's favorables have fallen since a June "baseline survey." Personally, I'd release those head-to-heads, too: I'm sure they look "bad" for Stewart, but that just makes the newer numbers look even better by comparison. Make no mistake, though: Even with the amazing and unexpected turn this race took, Tennessee's 4th is a very red district and Stewart, who doesn't have much money left, would need quite a bit of help to pull off the epic upset. Will the DCCC take notice? Even 49-44 might not be enough, so we'll have to see.

Reshuffling Roundup:

FL-02: One of the most unexpected races of the cycle just keeps getting unexpecteder. The conservative National Federation of Independent Business is tossing in $279K for ads attacking Democrat Al Lawson. Previously, both major party committees had gotten into the act here, and notably, Republicans never responded to a poll showing the race tied.

FL-26: The Miami Herald's Marc Caputo says that the DCCC "has decided not to help [Joe Garcia] anymore" because he's "got the race in hand." For some reason, Caputo offers some douchetastic spin on the move, snarking "Way to go, DCCC" and "No wonder John Boehner's still House speaker and will likely remain so." Of course, to the extent there's any chance Democrats might retake the House, it's because they make smart decisions based on empirical evidence and move on toward pursuing other seats while leaving strong candidates like Garcia to stand on their own.

IN-02: I'm starting to think we really may need to reconsider our Likely R rating on this race. The House Majority PAC is now the latest to get involved in trying to hold this tough seat for Democrats, with a $175K television buy (ad at the link). They're also pouring more money into three familiar races: CA-07, CO-06, and MI-01.

IN-08: Holy smokes. Citizens for a Working America, Inc.—a shadowy conservative group that should never, ever be mistaken for Working America, the community arm of the AFL-CIO—is jumping into Indiana's 8th with an enormous $850K buy attacking Democrat Dave Crooks. The DCCC jumped in here with a much smaller buy barely a week ago, so perhaps Republicans are getting really worried about freshman Rep. Larry Buchson all of a sudden.

NC-08: Well, at least Larry Kissell's good for something: The YG Action Network is plowing a monster $841K in attack ads into his hide, even though he's the only Democratic incumbent to have been affirmatively triaged by the DCCC. What I'd guess is going on here is that YG is just making extra-sure their paisan, Richard Hudson, gets his seat in Congress—they spent a ton of money on securing the nomination for him against Club for Growth fave Scott Keadle. (Also, YG's instincts may not be the sharpest. Remember the Kinzinger-Manzullo debacle?)

NY-25, -27: The DCCC is firing off ads in seven districts, two of which it's spending in for the first time. That's a positive in NY-27, where Rep. Kathy Hochul must be displaying signs of life if the D-Trip's interested in trying to save her. But it's very much the opposite in NY-25, where Rep. Louise Slaughter recently saw her numbers trend southward into the danger zone in a new Siena poll. Both buys are for $260K.

PA-08, NJ-03: No surprise: The NRCC has "pulled its remaining reservations" in the Philadelphia media market, following a couple of prior rounds of cancellations. It also comes just a couple of days after the D-Trip yanked whatever Philly buys they had left. That means both sides basically agree that Reps. Mike Fitzpatrick and Jon Runyan are as good as safe.

Grab Bag:

Bloombo: Ugh. Even when Mike Bloomberg's long reign as mayor of my hometown finally comes to an end next year, he'll still be able to make his influence felt on politics nationwide, thanks to his immense personal wealth. Actually, he's been doing so for quite some time, but now he's gearing up with a new super PAC. So who's he trying to help?

Among those Mr. Bloomberg will support are former Gov. Angus King, an independent running for the United States Senate in Maine; State Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod, who is challenging a fellow Democrat, Representative Joe Baca of California, who the mayor believes has been weak on gun-control; and Representative Bob Dold, a Republican from Illinois who has backed gun-control measures.
We already knew about his aid to Angus, and the race in CA-35 is a Dem-on-Dem affair that few people are particularly worked up about (though I wouldn't be sad to see Baca lose). But Bob Dold!? Seriously? What a pain in the ass.

Majority PAC: The Dem-aligned Majority PAC is going on an $8.4 million spending spree in nine Senate races:  Arizona, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Virginia, Ohio, Connecticut, and Nevada. Copies of all the ads are at the link.

Polltopia: If you're a regular Daily Kos Elections reader, you're probably also a regular 538 reader, but Wednesday's Nate Silver update seems like a particularly important one... not because of the numbers, but because he floats a new idea that potentially has a lot of explanatory value for the recent turn in the polls. It's the concept of "nonresponse bias," where external events (i.e., a depressing debate) affect enthusiasm rates which in turn affect respondents' willingness to participate when a pollster calls. That magnifies the effect of bounces driven by external events.

As a counterexample, he contrasts the results of what I'll call "one-off" pollsters vs. polls compiled by YouGov's sprawling online survey, where the same respondents are prompted to respond again at different points in the campaign. YouGov's numbers, released Tuesday, show very little mind-changing during the pre- and post-debate periods, suggesting a stabler race than the national trackers would indicate. (David Jarman)

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

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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