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Leading Off:

PA-Sen: Ruh-roh. PoliticsPA has the transcript of Republican Senate nominee Tom Smith's talk with reporters at a Monday luncheon at the Pennsylvania Press Club:

Mark Scolforo, Associated Press: How would you tell a daughter or a granddaughter who, God forbid, would be the victim of a rape, to keep the child against her own will? Do you have a way to explain that?

Smith: I lived something similar to that with my own family. She chose life, and I commend her for that. She knew my views. But, fortunately for me, I didn't have to.. she chose they way I thought. No don't get me wrong, it wasn't rape.

Scolforo: Similar how?

Smith: Uh, having a baby out of wedlock.

Scolforo: That's similar to rape?

Smith: No, no, no, but… put yourself in a father's situation, yes. It is similar. But, back to the original, I'm pro-life, period.

And just when the GOP thought it might finally be getting past Todd Akin....


HI-Sen: Funny: Mazie Hirono's campaign just busted Republican Linda Lingle for copycatting her latest ad from... insurer John Hancock? Yep, she did alright. It's not uncommon to see candidates plagiarize other politicians, but this may be the first time I've ever seen anyone try to rip off an insurance company. (Click through for both ads and a full explanation from Salon's Alex Seitz-Wald.) Meanwhile, Hirono's also out with a new ad of her own, a mostly positive spot in which she touts her support for "President Obama's jobs bill" and "more affordable renewable energy."

IN-Sen: Dem Rep. Joe Donnelly's wife touts his work across party lines while Donnelly's shown struggling with various home improvement tasks. (I think it's meant to show him as a frugal Hoosier unafraid to roll up his sleeves and get messy... even if his enthusiasm outstrips his skill.)

MA-Sen (PDF): Kimball Political Consulting, a Republican firm, is out with a new poll of the Massachusetts Senate race, finding GOP Sen. Scott Brown beating Democrat Elizabeth Warren 49-43. A couple of odd things: Not only was this a one-day poll, but it was conducted "using automated telephone interviews of landline and cell phone users." As modern poll junkies know, federal law generally prohibits automated calls to cell phones, so how did KPC accomplish this? They also have Obama leading Romney by 52-41 in the same sample, a margin which is considerably closer than what most pollsters have seen.

Meanwhile, Warren goes after Republicans for pursuing their war against women in her latest ad.

ME-Sen: This is cute, I guess, but it's only backed by a reported $72K buy: A Republican group called Maine Freedom is running ads trying to convince left-leaning voters that state Sen. Cynthia Dill, mired in the single digits in the polls, is "a Democrat you can feel good about." That's obviously an effort to siphon votes away from independent ex-Gov. Angus King, but unless there's a lot more scrilla behind this campaign, it's not gonna amount to anything. (Though the total may actually be somewhat higher than reported: An IE report indicates a $138K buy.)

MI-Sen (PDF): Mitchell Research also came out over the weekend with a poll that looks a bit too good to be true for Team Red (see that OH-Sen poll item below). Their survey, which also had the presidential race tied in Michigan, gave Republican Pete Hoekstra a lead (albeit a very narrow one) over incumbent Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, 45-44.

Only one other pollster of recent vintage had Hoekstra tied or leading, and that was last week's poll by Foster McCollum White/Baydoun. Their recent polls in Michigan and Florida, you may recall, raised eyebrows not only for their overly-robust numbers for the GOP but for their rather interesting age demographics in both states. (Steve Singiser)

MO-Sen: Nuts to that! A new Mason-Dixon poll conducted for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has Dem Sen. Claire McCaskill beating Todd Akin 50-41. And unlike Rasmussen's garbage numbers, the M-D presidential toplines make a reasonable amount of sense, with Romney beating Obama 50-43. The only good news is that the P-D released this poll into the wild late on Friday afternoon, after Akin already sucked up plenty of Akin-related oxygen by holding a press conference in which he announced, for the manyeth time, that he was staying in the race.

NJ-Sen: Republican Joe Kyrillos is out with his first spot, a super-cheeseball introductory ad in which he explains he's running for Senate because "I believe in the promise of America." It's like a sappy version of the undertaker's opening speech in "The Godfather." For justice, we must go to Don Corleone!

OH-Sen: Get a load of this:

In their first head-to-head meeting of this election season, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel described Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown as "un-American."

"I don't toss around the word un-American very often—it's a dangerous word to use. But stripping... Delphi employees of their pensions with that vote—that is un-American," Mandel said during a sit-down with Brown and editors and reporters of The Dispatch.

Mandel (who practically defines the word "chutzpah") is referring to the auto bailout, which Sherrod Brown points out the entire auto industry, from corporate HQs to union halls, wanted, of course. The staff of the Dispatch didn't seem particularly happy to chat with Mandel, and the paper's writeup comes as close as a straight-news item can to calling him a bloviating ideologue with no ability or willingness to actually answer serious questions:
When Mandel was asked by The Dispatch what he would have done differently at the time the federal loans were offered to the auto companies, as well as what health-care alternative he would offer to "Obamacare," Mandel offered a five-minute response about the free-enterprise system, government regulations and Greece before steering to an environmental regulation he has criticized Brown for supporting.

When he was asked again to answer the initial question, Mandel offered general remarks on regulations, energy production and the U.S. tax code. Twelve minutes after Mandel was asked what he would have done differently during the time of the bailout—and it had been suggested to him that he either did not have or was not offering an alternative—Mandel said: "You can write, 'Josh's plan would've been, and Josh's plan continues to be, to reform regulations and create a better economic environment for auto manufacturing and manufacturing in general.'  "

I'm sure they loved getting instructions from Mandel on what to write.

OH-Sen: The new Columbus Dispatch poll, issued over the weekend, had some fairly curious numbers on both the Senate campaign and the top-of-the-ballot presidential race. The survey had both races deadlocked, with Obama and Romney tied at 45 percent, and Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown and Republican Josh Mandel knotted up at 44 percent. Compared to other polls of recent vintage in the Buckeye State, this seems perhaps a bit optimistic for the GOP.

Worth noting: the Dispatch poll is a mail-in poll, which deviates pretty substantially from commonly-accepted practice. Their track record close to Election Day hasn't been too lousy (they hit the '10 gubernatorial race down to the margin, and were close on the '08 presidential race), but they've also thrown some curveballs over the years with their polls earlier in the cycle. (Steve Singiser)

PA-Sen: Another day, another boring PA-Sen poll. This time it's from the Philadelphia Inquirer, which commissioned one Democratic firm (Global Strategy Group) and one Republican outfit (National Research) to collaborate on the paper's first survey of the cycle. They find Dem Sen. Bob Casey beating Republican Tom Smith handily, 53-34. They also tested the attorney general's race, where Democrat Kathleen Kane leads Republican David Freed 40-29. The same poll also showed Obama with a sizable (but not implausible) 51-42 edge over Romney.

Also, the AFL-CIO is out with a generic positive spot buffing Casey, touting his work on job creation.


FL-Gov: Just a few weeks after endorsing Dem Sen. Bill Nelson for re-election, former Gov. Charlie Crist has taken the next logical step and is now backing President Obama, too. Shortly thereafter, Crist was also just announced as a speaker at next week's Democratic National Convention. Hard to believe Crist was still a Republican just a couple of years ago. Seems like it's only a matter of time before he makes the full switch to Team Blue... and then runs for governor once more.


CA-30: Dem Rep. Howard Berman released two new television ads late last week, but I've resisted watching them because his commercials before the primary were just so annoying and weird. These spots are better, at least. The first touts a variety of legislative accomplishments, including one that's news to me ("Howard stood with students to keep college affordable"—since when has college been affordable for a normal person?). The second is a minute long and features a dad whose son was killed in Iraq; the two were working on a book together, and the father decided to finish it, but not without help from Berman, who arranged to have him sent to overseas to interview the members of son's combat unit.

CA-39: A new super PAC called America Shining has popped in California's 39th District, and they're spending $32K on mailers to help Hacienda-La Puente School Board member Jay Chen. Chen, who is also a Navy vet, faces an uphill battle against veteran GOP Rep. Ed Royce. The district went for McCain by a 49-47 margin, which actually makes it the 10th-reddest in California.

FL-03: Politico's Kate Nocera has a good profile of Ted Yoho, the guy who upset Rep. Cliff Stearns a couple of weeks ago in the Republican primary. She certainly came up with an enviable lede:

Ted Yoho is one of the best-known large-animal veterinarians in Central Florida. So in May, when an old friend needed help castrating several miniature horses, Yoho rushed off in between radio interviews he was doing to talk about his underdog congressional campaign and lent his friend some scissors and a hand.

After the deed was done, Yoho held up the horse's testicles and proclaimed: "Washington needs a few more of these."

Nocera also notes that Yoho "seem to know everyone" in the district, which reinforces a point Jeff Smith made after Yoho's victory that "everyone knows and loves" large animal vets in rural areas. Not a bad profile to have if you're running for office. Anyhow, there's more great stuff at the link, including Yoho's wife saying: "He's not going to go be the brightest guy on the Hill; he's not coming up with the Ryan budget."

IA-04: I said a little prayer for myself when I realized that not only was I going to have to watch Steve King's first ad of the campaign, but that it was also a full minute long. Evidently, no one was listening, because the ad is about as sappy and painful as you can imagine. Sample line as the Republican congressman strolls through a field of corn: "Steve King's life has been blood, sweat, and—well—ears." (I'm also waiting for someone to tell me, "Hey, city boy, that's not corn, you idjit!" Well it had better be, because otherwise that horrible joke DOESN'T EVEN WORK.)

IL-10: I'd call this pushback very unconvincing. About a week-and-a-half ago, House Majority PAC and SEIU released a poll showing IL-10 tied at 46 apiece for GOP Rep. Bob Dold! and Democrat Brad Schneider. Now Dold's camp is touting their own dusty internal from late June (conducted by McLaughlin & Associates) which had the incumbent at just 42 and the challenger at 32. This is a spin on the "releasing numbers that have you trailing," but it still doesn't look great for Dold to have a lower raw total in his own poll than in HMP/SEIU's. What's more, Schneider at 32 is meaningless; it goes without saying that no Democrat will score that low in this district on election day, so Dold's 10-point margin is worth nothing. But as with the Democratic poll, though, we don't have presidential toplines from Dold's survey either.

IL-17: Democrat Cheri Bustos's first ad is a positive introductory spot, set in a pizza parlor, touting her middle class roots. (Her husband is "a cop," they "worked opposite shifts to make ends meet," and after two decades, they "still live in the same house.")

NC-07, NY-24, MI-01: The NRCC is still being annoyingly cagey about posting its new round of ads on YouTube. They've issued press releases for all of them (which you can read at the link), but they're not posting them to their normal YouTube page, and they're sneakily marking them all as unavailable on their separate independent expenditure account. Roll Call managed to hunt down their NC-07 spot, but then the NRCC went and disabled embedding! You can still find it here, though. In any event, the ad tries to do some Medicare ju jitsu, accusing Dem Rep. Mike McIntyre of voting "against every plan to save Medicare from going bankrupt." What plans are those? Ah, the various Ryan budgets, of course!

Meanwhile, Capitol Tonight got its hands on the NRCC's new NY-24 ad attacking ex-Rep. Dan Maffei, but lord only knows how, since they're using some off-brand media player. This spot, by contrast, hits Maffei for sticking with the Democratic Party ("96% of the time") and for voting for the stimulus. Is this a fight the GOP really wants to have, though, seeing as freshman Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle votes with her party... 95% of the time?

Finally, I haven't seen hide nor hair of the NRCC's new MI-01 spot, which uses a clip of Democrat Gary McDowell once saying, "We're not going to be able to provide for all the other things we need to do first as a society because we are taking so much money for health care at the end of life." Given our political culture, remarks like that are going to open you up to all kinds of attacks.

PA-06: GOP Rep. Jim Gerlach's released another internal poll... and this time, it's good news for Manan Trivedi! Yeah, Gerlach says he leads by a 54-30 margin (according to WPA Opinion Research), but that's tightened from 55-23 in March. And Gerlach has a long history of releasing polls that show him with vastly inflated margins. I'll be curious to see if Trivedi's camp responds with alternate numbers, which they did last time (their internal had it 45-33 in May—Gerlach sat on his earlier survey for a couple of months).

Other Races:

NH-Init: Here's an interesting AP story on a proposed amendment to the New Hampshire constitution which goes before voters this fall and would permanently prohibit the state from enacting any kind of income tax. Polling has shown the issue to be a tossup so far, but the most salient political point is that if it the amendment were to become law, it would rob the GOP of a decades-old method of attack in the form of the "pledge"—the promise never to impose an income or sales tax, one that candidates for office are constantly browbeaten into making. Passage could also just wind up re-focusing pledge talk purely on sales taxes, though that may rob the pledge of some potency.

Grab Bag:

Massachusetts: We're pretty dutiful about linking to every batch of polling PPP does, including the odds-n-ends they toss on for every state poll, but I can't really think of anything to say about their latest bits of Bay State miscellany.

VoteVets: The Democratic veterans group VoteVets, which has gotten a lot of financial backing from environmental groups, is now getting some seed money from the American Federation of Government Employees. The AFGE is earmarking $50K for the Montana Senate race and the same amount for Missouri's Senate contest, with both sums ostensibly in support of media buys.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by DKos Pennsylvania and Daily Kos.

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