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Leading Off:

IN-Sen: In case you somehow haven't seen this yet, well, it was Wednesday's the story of the day. Hell, it may even be the story of the week. Republican Senate nominee Richard Mourdock, at Tuesday night's debate:

I believe life begins at conception. The only exception I have for to have an abortion is in the case of the life of the mother. I struggled with myself for a long time but I came to realize life is that gift from God, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape. It is something that God intended to happen.
The political world exploded upon hearing these remarks, with everyone with a conscience condemning Mourdock for suggesting that there's some supreme being who "intends" rape to happen. Predictably, Mourdock furiously tried to backpedal in his post-debate remarks:
"What I said was, in answering the question form my position of faith, I said I believe that God creates life. I believe that as wholly and as fully as I can believe it. That God creates life," Mourdock said. "Are you trying to suggest that somehow I think that God pre-ordained rape? No, I don't think that. That's sick. Twisted. That's not even close to what I said. What I said is that God creates life."
But that's not what Mourdock said, and that's not what anyone heard. Hell, even Mitt Romney didn't want to have anything to do with Mourdock:
"Gov. Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock's comments, and they do not reflect his views," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement.
Oh! But there's a wee problem, Governor! Just check out this video. If you're not able to watch, Romney (as you may know) just cut an ad on behalf of Mourdock. American Bridge has helpfully mashed up some of Mourdock's greatest hits (including, of course, the new rape remarks you read just above), sandwiched between Romney's words of endorsement from that new spot. Just brutal. Kind of like Mourdock's entire campaign.

Of course, the Mourdock fallout (and you knew there would be plenty) continued throughout the day on Wednesday:

"I strongly disagree with the statement made by Richard Mourdock during last night's Senate debate. I urge him to apologize," U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, the Republican candidate in Indiana's race for governor, said in a statement Wednesday morning.
Pence is almost a lock to win his race, so it's interesting that he's taking no chances and disavowing Mourdock. But NRSC chair John Cornyn is digging in:
"Richard and I, along with millions of Americans – including even Joe Donnelly – believe that life is a gift from God. To try and construe his words as anything other than a restatement of that belief is irresponsible and ridiculous," Cornyn said.
Needless to say, Cornyn's truly up against a wall. After watching Todd Akin brutally undermine one of the GOP's best pickup opportunities in Missouri, Cornyn can't afford to abandon yet another Senate candidate. He must want to strangle Mourdock, though, who turned what was an almost certain Republican hold into a very vulnerable tossup. For that alone, Democrats everywhere should send Mourdock Christmas cards.

Now, you don't really get any points for guessing that Scott Brown wants out:

"Scott Brown is pro-choice and does not agree with the views expressed by Richard Mourdock," Alleigh Marre said in a statement. "They do not reflect his thinking at all."
New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte going to ground is a little more interesting, though:
Ayotte's spokesman, Jeff Grappone, said Wednesday that the senator disagrees with Mourdock's comments, which do not represent her views. Ayotte was scheduled to campaign with Mourdock on Wednesday, but canceled her trip and is in New Hampshire instead.
Hilariously, Mourdock's campaign is claiming that they asked Ayotte not to come!

For good measure, IL-17 GOP Rep. Bobby Schilling, locked in a very tough re-election battle, also decided to call on Mourdock to apologize. For Republicans who can do a convincing job of acting non-insane, this is kind of a freebie—they get an opportunity to distance themselves from the crazies. But for Mitt Romney and every Republican who's publicly taken Mourdock's side, this is all still a very big problem.

And for what it's worth, Mourdock predictably refused to apologize for his beliefs, only offering an "I'm sorry if you understood" no-pology. I'm starting to think that Richard Mourdock losing may, in fact, be something that God intended to happen.

Senate:

AZ-Sen: Just as Indiana's remaining hot, so is Arizona. The NRSC is spending at least $2.3 million in the final two weeks of the campaign on both broadcast and cable TV in Phoenix and Tucson, to help shore up GOP Rep. Jeff Flake against Rich Carmona's surprise insurgent campaign. And for the Dems, AFSCME just jumped in with a $1.2 million anti-Flake buy.

CT-Sen (Mason-Dixon): Chris Murphy (D): 44, Linda McMahon (R): 44; Obama 49-42.

CT-Sen (Quinnipiac): Chris Murphy (D): 49 (47), Linda McMahon (R): 43 (48); Obama 55-41 (54-42). And it sure looks like someone totally set McMahon up with regard to this poll. From a press release late on Tuesday:

If tomorrow morning's release of new poll numbers from Quinnipiac University in Connecticut's U.S. Senate race hold true to recent polling trends, momentum will definitively be behind Linda McMahon.
Whoops! Turns out Quinnipiac saw a seven-point shift in Murphy's favor. So where does that leave Linda & Co.? Why, unskewing, of course! Unskewing, and, I should add, and dreaming up conspiracy theories:
I'm sure you've seen the new Q Poll in the news this morning. It's made quite the splash, but it's misleading. The model the pollsters used underestimates how many Republicans are in Connecticut by six points—in 2008, 27 percent of Connecticut's voters were Republicans, but only 21 percent of the voters sampled in this morning's Quinnipiac poll were Republicans. That six-point gap accounts for the six points they say Linda is "behind." Did Quinnipiac intentionally undersample Republicans to help Congressman Murphy? Only Quinnipiac knows for sure.
Emphasis, I must note, in the original. And wanna know something hilarious? Democrats were 43% of the electorate four years ago—but they represent just 35% of respondents in Quinnipiac's poll. So that's an eight-point gap—even bigger! Obviously it shows you just how pathetically misleading McMahon's attempts to unskew are, since the D minus R gap in this survey is only 14 net points, while according to the 2008 exit polls, it was 16.

So she's howling about a sample that's more favorable to her than the one she's citing as the proper standard. Oh, and the fact that she's accusing Quinnipiac of being in the tank for Murphy—an extraordinary charge backed by no evidence whatsoever—is just the icing.

P.S. Big Dog Alert! Bill Clinton is coming up to Waterbury, CT on Sunday to headline a rally for Murphy. If you'd like tickets, you can sign up at the link.

MA-Sen (MassINC): Elizabeth Warren (D): 50 (45), Scott Brown (R-inc): 44 (48); Obama 56-36 (52-36).

ME-Sen (Pre-General): Angus King (I): $387K raised.

MO-Sen: Turns out Todd Akin is a repeat offender:

Congressman Todd Akin was arrested at least three times in the 1980s during anti-abortion protests, not just the one time he has publicly acknowledged.

Akin's previously undisclosed arrests, in 1985, were for criminal trespass and resisting arrest at abortion clinic protests in St. Louis and Illinois.

And that one arrest Akin did disclose?
He said at that time that the campaign would later release more information about the arrest. But a campaign official later told reporters that no more information would be forthcoming.
What ever happened to those "three strikes and you're out" laws that Republicans are so fond of?

ND-Sen, -AL: Never-heard-of-`em-before pollster Pharos Research has a new survey out on all the statewide races in North Dakota. (The Hill describes Pharos's principle, Steve Leuchtman—misspelled as "Lachtman"—as a "former Gallup pollster.") Pharos suffers from the terrible tick of reporting numbers in decimals places (all the way to the hundredths, sigh), but if you can get past that, Democrat Heidi Heitkamp is up 49-48 in the Senate race over Rick Berg. Obama trails by a somewhat optimistic 49-39 margin, though the president's number is probably more important than Romney's. For the state's open at-large House seat, Democrat Pam Gulleson trails Kevin Cramer 54-42. The governor's race is not competitive in the slightest.

Wanna see something weird, though? Trolling through Pharos's website, I found half a dozen other quasi-unreleased polls, of FL, IN, MT, NE, ND, OH, PA, and San Diego, plus a national poll, too. Check out my colleague Steve Singiser's Wednesday night Polling Wrap for a full run-down of all these numbers.

NV-Sen (PPP): Shelley Berkley (D): 44 (44), Dean Heller (R-inc): 44 (47), David VanderBeek (L): 7 (4); Obama 51-47 (51-47).

OH-Sen (SurveyUSA): Sherrod Brown (D-inc): 43 (43), Josh Mandel (R): 42 (38); Obama 47-43 (45-42).

WI-Sen: Tammy Baldwin didn't waste any time in responding to Republican Tommy Thompson's desperate 9/11-themed attack ad. Baldwin's new spot is quite good, and I think Tommy's going to regret opening up this door. The narrator begins by pointing to all the Congressional roll calls where Baldwin did, in fact, vote to honor 9/11 victims, then lays Tommy out with a serious body blow:

"And Tommy Thompson? He got a government contract to provide health care to 9/11 first responders. But Tommy took advantage, leaving them without the care they were promised. Tommy Thompson personally made over $3 million off the deal. Tommy Thompson should be ashamed."
Gubernatorial:

WA-Gov: This is pretty unexpected: the first poll in many months to have Republican Rob McKenna leading the Washington gubernatorial race, and it's from Elway Research, who've been pretty volatile this cycle but were the first pollster to find Jay Inslee leading this summer. Elway puts McKenna up 47-45 (down from a 3-point Inslee lead in September). On the one hand, there does seem to be a general tightening in the race according to other pollsters... but on the other hand, this sample also finds much more conservative numbers on the ballot measures and other downballot races than other pollsters have been finding, too, which suggests a GOP-friendly sample.

To be specific, same-sex marriage is passing only 49-45 in this sample, while marijuana legalization is passing only 48-44. (Other recent polls have given these topics double-digit support.) In the statewide races, Dem Bob Ferguson leads the AG race 38-36, Dem Brad Owen leads the LG race 42-32, Dem Troy Kelley (whom the memo spells "Kelly") leads the Auditor race 34-29, and the SoS race is a flat-out tie at 34-34. (David Jarman)

House:

CA-36: How not to win elections:

Bono Mack: Latino voter outreach to come after election
"I pledge that after November, I will try my hardest to speak to Latino voters," Bono Mack said. "This election, I'm a little bit hamstrung. But I will do my best. Because I think that they deserve the attention that we need to give them."
And here's another vote of confidence in Democrat Raul Ruiz, following the release of his remarks about Leonard Peltier: The DCCC is airing a new ad attacking GOP Rep. Mary Bono Mack, saying she "voted to end the Medicare guarantee." I think the treadmill imagery ("saving for retirement is like running on a treadmill") is pretty good.

FL-02: Florida's 2nd continues to surprise. House Majority PAC is airing a new ad attacking GOP Rep. Steve Southerland (on cutting education and Medicare), which they say will "run for a week in both Panama City and Tallahassee as part of a $275,000 buy." The D-Trip is also back with another spot, also going after Southerland on Medicare. And Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform is coming in large here, too, with a $504K buy targeting Democrat Al Lawson.

FL-10: Looks like Dems definitely aren't giving up on Val Demings, despite certain claims about secret GOP polls looking good in this district. The DCCC is out with a new ad attacking GOP Rep. Daniel Webster (for being "too cozy with lobbyists"), on the heels of a new poll we cited the other day that had Webster up just 2 points. And as we also mentioned, John Boehner's third-party spending groups are shelling out a monster $1.2 million here. Perhaps Webster's in need of a bailout?

FL-18 (FrederickPolls for Murphy): Patrick Murphy (D): 47 (45), Allen West (R-inc): 47 (45); Obama-Romney 48-48 (Romney 49-46). Note that the trendlines date back to May. Despite the millions that have been aired on attack ads—or perhaps because of them—I wouldn't be surprised to see this remain a game of inches.

FL-26: Funny, GOP Rep. David Rivera's ethical woes are back in the news, but this time, it's got nothing to do with the whole Justin Lamar Sternad scandal. Instead, the Florida Commission on Ethics is charging Rivera "with 11 counts for allegedly violating state rules during his tenure in the Florida legislature." Politico summarizes the allegations:

The Florida ethics commission probe into Rivera's personal finances covered a wide range of issues including: a $510,000 payment from a dog track to a company owned by his mother and godmother while he was still in the state legislature; use of campaign funds for personal expenses; and failure to disclose income in his state financial disclosure reports.
There's much more detail at the link, including Rivera's hilarious claims that the ethics commission is engaged in a conspiracy against him (driven by Democrat Joe Garcia, of course).

GA-12: Dem Rep. John Barrow could put on a clinic for Republicans on how to make an effective ad complaining about earmarks. The visuals are good throughout (and Barrow has just the right sense of humor), plus you know I'm always a sucker for anti-NYC rhetoric in campaign commercials: As ballerinas pirouette down an open road, Barrow says he "voted to get rid of funding for the ballet in New York City, too. Georgia tax dollars for that?" He also says that he voted against something called "the Perfect Christmas Tree Project" because (pointing to a stubby little shrub with a smile) "all Christmas trees are perfect."

On the merits, though, it sounds like Barrow's just being a dick, because it looks like the "Home of the Perfect Christmas Tree" is actually an effort to help economically depressed Mitchell County in of western North Carolina by promoting small businesses which make handmade Christmas products. Indeed, GOP Rep. Patrick McHenry (whose old district included Mitchell) supported the cause, and even former First Lady Laura Bush invited these artisans to decorate two White House Christmas trees back in 2006.

IL-10: Democrat Brad Schneider is taking a very interesting tack in his latest ad: It features nothing but clips of President Lyndon Johnson praising Medicare, back when it was first signed into law in 1965. Said LBJ:

"No longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine. No longer will illness crush and destroy the savings that they have so carefully put away over a lifetime so that they might enjoy dignity in their later years. There are men and women in pain who will now find ease—who will now look up to see the light of hope."
Toward the end, titles appear on screen which read: "Bob Dold and the Republicans / Voted to end the Medicare Guarantee / Costing seniors $6,400 a year." I suspect this could be a very effective spot, since older voters who rely on Medicare may remember Johnson fondly over this signature achievement.

OH-16: Holy smokes. This is amazing news, but somewhat hard to interpret. GOP Rep. Jim Renacci, locked in a tight member-vs.-member re-election battle with Dem Rep. Betty Sutton in a district hand-carved for him, is cancelling all of his remaining broadcast television ad reservations—worth <$850K—and will instead "maintain a small amount of commercials on cable channels." Renacci is making the unlikely argument that voters have reached a saturation point in terms of ads and that further advertising won't be effective, but as a Sutton spokesman says, "By that logic, Mitt Romney would pull his ads, too." A good point, but is it really possible that the D-Trip's claim that Renacci's "given up" is accurate? That would be an extraordinary admission of defeat with two weeks still on the calendar.

Grab Bag:

ATR: Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform just dropped an eye-popping IE report, detailing over $3 million worth of expenditures targeting Democrats in just seven House races: CA-52 ($484K), CO-03 ($392K), FL-02 ($504K), GA-12 ($404K), NY-21 ($264K), OH-06 ($1 mil) & PA-12 ($457K). (There're also some mailers against ND-Sen's Heidi Heitkamp.)

Majority PAC: The Dem-aligned Majority PAC is out with four new Senate ads, including that expected spot in Pennsylvania, where they are unexpectedly coming to Dem Sen. Bob Casey's aid. (The commercial attacks Republican Tom Smith for wanting to get rid of the Dept. of Education.) The other three are in IN, ND, and NV. Click through for links to all the ads.

Polltopia: Simon Jackman, the behind-the-scenes numbers guy for HuffPo's Pollster, is out with a newly updated graph of all the various major pollsters' "house effects." While this doesn't look backward and assess how well they've predicted previous elections, this looks at how far from the overall averages the pollsters are operating this cycle. Who's the most pro-Dem? Well, you have to dig down four slots to find a really credible pollster (Marist); the top 3 are Zogby, Suffolk (despite that not squaring with David Paleologos's knuckle-headed public pronouncements), and wildly-volatile UNH. Who's the most pro-GOP? Rasmussen, Gravis, and at the very bottom... yes, the one-time-most-respected name in American polling, Gallup. Who's closest to the arbitrary middle? Fox News, of all people, with PPP a few slots behind. (David Jarman)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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