Elizabeth Warren (D): 44 (46)The first PPP poll of the Massachusetts Senate race since they switched over to their likely voter model shows a marked drop for Elizabeth Warren, who had previously been tied with Scott Brown and had led in the polls before that. The main story here may simply be the change in composition, though the 2008 presidential sample isn't particularly odd at 58-33 Obama; the actual vote was 62-36. But another story is that Brown's approvals do seem to be rebounding from earlier in the year while Warren isn't winning undecided voters over as they come off the fence. Brown's approval rating now stands at 53/36, up from 45/42 in March (when it was his turn to trail by 5). Warren, by contrast, has 46/43 favorables, compared with 46/33 in March.
Scott Brown (R-inc): 49 (46)
Undecided: 8 (8)
It doesn't seem like Warren is on track to win this purely on likeability grounds, but PPP's Tom Jensen sees Brown's Achilles heel here: Even while 54% of voters think he's "about right" ideologically, 56% also think that the GOP in general is "too conservative," and more importantly, 53% of voters would like Democrats to be in charge of the Senate, compared with 36% who would like Republicans to control the chamber. Warren's problem is that only 76% of those voters who want Democrats to be in charge are in powers planning to vote for her. The roadmap here is to follow the same path as Sheldon Whitehouse vs. Lincoln Chafee in 2006, another case of taking down a likeable moderate by tying him at every turn to the national party and educating voters about how the Senate as a whole functions... a lesson which hasn't seemed to sink in with a large enough share of Massachusetts voters yet.
P.S. Brown is also out with a new ad that's largely content-free, touting his humble upbringing. Maybe there are some YouTube compression issues going on, but the footage of him inside his truck (of course) looks awfully low-quality. (David Jarman & David Nir)
• CT-Sen: In his new spot, Dem Rep. Chris Murphy pushes back against negative ads from Linda McMahon which have attacked his attendance record in Congress. Murphy says his "voting record is 97%," then pivots to talk about how he's helped created jobs in Connecticut. I love Murphy, but I think he comes off a little too dark and serious in this one (maybe it's the musical accompaniment).
• MO-Sen: After two days of unthinkably intense pressure, Republican Rep. Todd Akin is still in this thing. A 5pm deadline came and went on Tuesday with Akin defiantly refusing to succumb to his own party's demands that he drop out; while he can still quit, now it would require a court order to get his name off the ballot. Foolishly, the NRSC and Crossroads have backed themselves into a corner, with new threats not to spend a dime on Akin if he remains the nominee—but as I've been saying, if anyone had any leverage over the guy, there'd be no need for this to play out in such a public and unpleasant fashion. Of course, it's fantastic news for Democrats either way so long as Akin does hang on, because these outside money groups will have to eat their words rather painfully—or Akin will have to go without. Ah, the Republican Party: They never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
• NY-Sen (PDF): Boring.
• VA-Sen: Democrat Tim Kaine was one of many candidates who rolled out their first television ads on Tuesday. Kaine speaks to the camera for the full 30 seconds, talking about the fiscal responsibility he demonstrated as Virginia's governor. There's no word on the size of the buy, but Kaine long ago reserved a giant $4.5 million in TV time for the fall, so this is almost assuredly just a taste of what's to come.
• CA-41: Democrat Mark Takano is out with an internal poll from EMC Research which supports the notion that this race is a tossup despite the 41st's blue lean. Takano leads Republican John Tavaglione 42-38 in the first numbers we've seen here, though unfortunately, no other details are available about the survey, such as presidential toplines.
• IA-04: Todd Akin isn't the only guy having issues on the subject of "how is babby formed." Check out Iowa Republican Steve King's new interview:
REPORTER: You support the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act that would provide federal funding for abortions to a person that has been forcefully raped. But what if someone isn't forcibly raped and for example, a 12-year-old who gets pregnant? Should she have to bring this baby to term?King also praised Akin as a "strong Christian man, with a wonderful family."
KING: Well I just haven't heard of that being a circumstance that's been brought to me in any personal way and I'd be open to hearing discussion about that subject matter.
• MD-06: Who knew that GOP Rep. Roscoe Bartlett was such a dedicated Mad Max fan?
Deep in the West Virginia woods, in a small cabin powered by the sun and the wind, a bespectacled, white-haired man is giving a video tour of his basement, describing techniques for the long-term preservation of food in case of "an emergency."Even more impressive, Bartlett is 86! Of course, instead of worrying about sci-fi scenarios of dystopian doom, he could actually focus on the real survival threat we face, global climate change. But I'm sure Bartlett wouldn't find that nearly as fun as fantasizing about EMP blasts.
"We don't really think of those today, because it's so convenient to go to the supermarket," he cautions. "But you know, you're planning because the supermarket may not always be there."
The electrical grid could fail tomorrow, he frequently warns. Food would disappear from the shelves. Water would no longer flow from the pipes. Money might become worthless. People could turn on each other, and millions would die.
Such concerns are typical among "survivalists," a loose national movement of individuals who advocate self-sufficiency in the face of natural or man-made disasters, gathering online or in person to discuss the best ways to prepare for the worst.
What is atypical is that the owner of this cabin is Roscoe G. Bartlett, the longtime Republican congressman from Maryland. Over the past two decades, he has developed a following as one of the country's premier proponents of preparedness against impending doom, even urging the more than 80 percent of Americans who live in urban areas to relocate.
• NY-11: I swear on Monday that when I was reading about Animal House on the Galilee (which took place in Israel, of course), and then later about the arrest of GOP Rep. Mike Grimm's top fundraiser (an Israeli citizen, as it so happens), I momentarily wondered at the synchronicity. After all, the FBI was apparently investigating the Galilean hijinks, which seemed weird, and they also were the same folks who had arrested the fundraiser, Ofer Biton. But, I told myself, it was clearly just a coincidence.
I was wrong:
A Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into New York Rep. Michael Grimm and his supporters led investigators to learn details of an incident on a 2011 congressional trip to Israel in which a different lawmaker went skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee, according to a person familiar with the matter. [...]I can't even imagine how furious Grimm's colleagues must be at him right now. Their clothing-optional, drunken romp in the Sea of Galilee would never have come to light were it not for the fact that the Feds have been hot on Grimm's tail. Right now, Grimm needs friends more than anything, but it looks like he just made himself about 30 enemies.
Numerous congressional ethics-law experts interviewed Monday said the FBI does not care if lawmakers swim naked and that the investigation must be a matter under the agency's jurisdiction. "Last time I checked, skinny dipping anywhere, including a foreign country, is not a federal crime," said Jan Baran, head of the election law group at Wiley Rein LLP.
The person familiar with the investigation said the FBI came across details of the swimming incident while examining the Israel trip and a trip Rep. Grimm made afterward to Cyprus, but that the swimming incident wasn't relevant to the probe.
• NY-21: Republican businessman Matt Doheny is going up with his first TV ad of the election, a bland introductory spot in which he says he wants to "create jobs here in the capital district and to put an end to Washington's out of control spending." I also notice he makes reference to "my wife Mary," which is perhaps his way of shoring up his image in the wake of this story.
• NY-24: Here's another first ad in an upstate New York race, from Dem ex-Rep. Dan Maffei. The narrator explains that though the one-term Maffei "wasn't there long, he saw what's wrong with Washington," which is why he "opposed the Wall Street bailout." It's an interesting way to inoculate yourself against charges that you're a DC insider while also taking a few whacks at the beltway.
• PA-08: Democrat Kathy Boockvar just released her first ad, which PoliticsPA says is backed by a $38K buy. It's a standard positive introductory spot in which she uses some household visuals (turning off lights, turning down the thermostat) to underscore her message that "we need more common sense in Washington."
• AZ-St. Lege: The AP has a preview of some of Arizona's more interesting state legislative races in the upcoming primary (set for Aug. 28). Redistricting in the suburbs seems to have really scrambled things for prominent Republicans, including ex-state Sen. President Russell Pearce, who notoriously got recalled last year and is now attempting a comeback. Thanks to redistricting, Pearce is running in an safely Republican open seat (SD-25) against businessman Bob Worsley; the guy who took out Pearce, Jerry Lewis, is running in a different district. Also, state House speaker Andy Tobin finds himself in a redistricting-induced battle with two other Republican incumbents, meaning there are three members trying to squeeze into two seats. (David Jarman)
• NV-St. Sen: Polling in state legislative races is rare enough, and you might recall that we felt lucky when we saw a poll last week in one of the most pivotal races in one of the most closely-divided chambers in the nation (the Nevada State Senate, where Democrats are defending a 12-11 edge). Well, now we've gotten an avalanche of internal polls from Nevada Senate races, to the extent that we may well have a more complete picture at this point about the state of play in the Nevada Senate than in the U.S. House.
Republican pollster POS has polled five of the most competitive races on behalf of the RSLC (the GOP equivalent of the DLCC); the GOPer leads in 3, the Dem in 1, and one is tied. In the Dem-held open seat, Henderson-area, 56% Obama SD-05, ex-Henderson city councilor Steve Kirk leads ex-state Sen. Joyce Woodhouse 44-37. In the Dem-held open seat, NW Las Vegas, 55% Obama SD-06, Mark Hutchison leads Benny Yerushalmi 40-33. In the GOP-held open seat, Enterprise-area, 58% Obama SD-09, Democrat Justin Jones is in the lead over GOP Mari St. Martin 38-34. In the west Reno, 57% Obama SD-15, appointed incumbent Greg Brower is tied with district-switching ex-state Sen. Sheila Leslie 42-42. And in the newly-created, NW Las Vegas, 50% Obama SD-18, state Asm. Scott Hammond leads Kelli Ross 44-29.
But wait! There are also three Dem polls, by Myers Research and Strategic Services, all with Dems in the lead instead. They have Woodhouse leading 47-43 in SD-05, Jones leading 49-39 in SD-09, and Leslie leading 46-41 in pivotal SD-15. For more information on these races (and for more statistics about all of these districts, as well as some initial handicapping), check out atdnext's personal blog. (David Jarman)
• Congress: The Hill rounds up the 50 wealthiest members of Congress, and tops is still Texas GOP Rep. Mike McCaul, who married into the Clear Channel radio family and is worth a minimum of $291 million.
• Majority PAC: The Dem-aligned Majority PAC (sort of the "official unofficial" super PAC of the DSCC) is launching a new, four-state ad blast worth $1.6 million in all. They're targeting Indiana (Richard Mourdock), North Dakota (Rick Berg), Montana (Denny Rehberg), and Ohio (Josh Mandel); you can find all of the ads at the link, along with helpful summaries of each if you can't watch.
• NFIB: The conservative National Federation of Independent Business is launching a $2 million ad campaign to support Republicans in eight house districts—click through for the full list. A Senate component will reportedly follow.