9:07 AM PT: ND-Sen, -AL: Some great news for Democrat Heidi Heitkamp out of infrequently-polled North Dakota: A new Mason-Dixon survey for local media outlet Valley News Live has her tied with GOP Rep. Rick Berg at 47 apiece. That's little different from a June poll that had Heitkamp up 47-46—pretty remarkable, given the volume of GOP attack ads that have flooded the landscape here. I'm not sure how you can say "tossup" better than this. What's more, the headwinds Heitkamp is tacking against are quite something: Romney leads Obama 54-40.
The situation in the state's other open-seat federal race, for House, is very different, though. There, Kevin Cramer (the guy hoping to keep the seat red) is beating Democrat Pam Gulleson 49-37—again, little changed from the 49-35 spread we saw last time. Numbers like these probably explain why the DCCC dropped its planned TV ad buys for ND-AL. I should add, though, that the survey was taked Oct. 3-5, a field period that's yielding lots of ugly numbers for Democrats, thanks to the president's debate performance.
A few weeks after 2nd District congressional candidate Annie Kuster grabbed a camera from a staffer for Charlie Bass, refused to return it and said "f- him," she tried to grab an item from the congressman himself.After the first incident, I facepalmed and prayed that the damage could be contained—maybe Kuster would be forgiven for having a bad day. Of course, though, the video made it into an NRCC ad, and I'm sure I wasn't the only political observer who had flashbacks to the Bob Etheridge disaster. But now, a second similar occurrence? That seems pretty awful to me. Fortunately for Kuster, there's no video of the event (something her campaign insisted on), but there is audio. Oy vey.
At the annual Southern New Hampshire Jewish Men's Club forum in Nashua on Sunday, Kuster grabbed the microphone Bass was holding as he delivered his closing statement.
"You can't just lie to people," Kuster said as she tried to wrangle the microphone from Bass, who said "wait a minute" and held on.
9:34 AM PT: IN-Sen: The first GOP poll we've seen in a while out of Indiana, taken by McLaughlin & Associates for Richard Mourdock, shows him up 45-42 over Democrat Joe Donnelly. That contrasts with a recent independent poll commissioned by local tipsheet Howey Politics that had Donnelly up 40-38, as well as earlier Democratic polling that has tended to show small Donnelly leads. The presidential toplines look a little optimistic for Romney compared to that Howey poll as well: Romney apparently has a lead of 16 points (exact spread not provided), versus 12 according to Howey.
9:40 AM PT: MA-Sen (PDF): Hrm. MassINC's latest poll (on behalf of their usual client, WBUR) now has GOP Sen. Scott Brown up 48-45 over Elizabeth Warren. But just a week earlier, they had Warren up 49-45, and scarcely two weeks before that, they found Warren leading 47-42. So I'm having a hard time with the notion that the race swung seven points in a single week, especially when the prior two polls were consistent. But if you want to subscribe to the "Obama's debate performance screwed everything up" theory, you definitely have some evidence to support your case: The newest survey was in the field shortly after the debate, and the president went from 60-32 to 52-36, a 12-point drop. Ugly.
10:19 AM PT: MN-08: I think there may be a typo in this apparently new polling memo from the Global Strategy Group for the DCCC: It says the survey was taken Aug. 21-23, but those just so happen to be the field dates for their last poll. Therefore, I suspect this one's more recent (it's only now getting shopped around) and someone just errantly copied-and-pasted. In any event, GSG's latest numbers have GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack tied with Democrat Rick Nolan at 42 apiece, suggesting both candidates have had their numbers driven down since that August poll, when Nolan led 45-44. There are no presidential toplines, but Dems lead on the generic congressional ballot, 43-40, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar is destroying Republican Kurt Bills, 58-31. (That's actually up a touch from 56-33 last time.)
10:26 AM PT: And now we have a copy of the memo for Mourdock's poll. This has actual presidential numbers (Romney 55-39), as well as toplines for the gubernatorial race (Republican Mike Pence leads Democrat John Gregg 53-39). And very rare for an internal poll, the demographic breakdown is provided. It looks like the sample's both a bit white and a bit old, something very common to a lot of polling.
10:33 AM PT: MI-Sen: Here's one race, though, where the presidential and Senate numbers have gone in exact opposite directions following the debate (so go figure). Dem Sen. Debbie Stabenow now has a punishing 55-35 lead over Pete Hoekstra in EPIC-MRA's latest, a somewhat hard-to-believe extension of her 49-38 advantage a month ago. (The only other time Stabenow had a margin this big was in a Marist poll taken right after Hoekstra's legendary Super Bowl ad debacle.) But Barack Obama, who held a 47-37 edge in September, now stands at just 48-45 over Mitt Romney. (And yeah, the poll went into the field the day after the debate.)
As an aside, I gotta say: I honestly never thought I'd ever devote this much ink at Daily Kos Elections to something like a presidential debate. But something serious happened last week. Whether it stays or goes, who knows—but that's why we need to keep watching.
10:58 AM PT: NY-18: Alright, here's some happier news: two polls in two adjacent districts along the mid-Hudson Valley showing Democratic challengers competitive against Republican incumbents. The first is in NY-18, where Sean Maloney's internal (from GSG) shows him trailing GOP Rep. Nan Hayworth by just a 44-42 margin. The sample is definitely sober: Obama's trailing Romney 48-46, in a seat the president won 52-47 four years ago. On the generic congressional ballot, Dems lead 43-41. The Maloney-Hayworth numbers are similar to a PPP poll from last month that had the race tied at 43.
11:20 AM PT (David Jarman): PA-12: We've still got a competitive race in Pennsylvania's 12th, where the conventional wisdom is that Dem incumbent Mark Critz has a bit of an upper hand, but GOP challenger Keith Rothfus and his friends can come up with polls showing a deadlock. Now Rothfus can point to the first poll of the race giving him a lead, which is a POS poll on behalf of Eric Cantor's YG Action Network; Rothfus leads 42-40 over the Sep. 30-Oct. 1 period, up from a 46-39 deficit in an obviously unreleased August poll.
We'll have to wait and see if Critz can whip out a contrasting internal, but he does have one other new prize to point to: an endorsement from the National Rifle Association. NRA-PVF backing for a conservaDem isn't that unusual, but it's critical in the hills of SW Pennsylvania, where deer season is a big part of the local fabric of life.
11:23 AM PT: NY-19: The second such poll (see NY-18 just above) is from Grove Insight for the DCCC, finding GOP Rep. Chris Gibson with just a 43-41 lead over Democrat Julian Schreibman. When the D-Trip started advertising her a few weeks back, we were a bit surprised, but evidently they had polling which showed promise—and now we have confirmation. Exact presidential toplines aren't provided, but the memo says that Obama is winning by seven points (he won in 2008 by eight).
11:34 AM PT (David Jarman): PA-Sen (pdf): Pennsylvania keeps hanging around on the cusp of being competitive, though more so at the presidential level than the Senate level. Siena polled over the period Oct. 1-5, and found the presidential race looking closer than usual, with Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney 43-40, but also finding the Senate race -- which other pollsters had seen tightening -- with a pretty comfortable margin, with Bob Casey Jr. leading Tom Smith 44-35. However, we don't have trendlines from this particular pollster (in fact, I'm not sure Siena has polled Pennsylvania before, ever), so there's no basis for conclusions about which direction these two races are headed.
11:48 AM PT: MN Ballot, MN-Sen: Some good news from PPP out of Minnesota, where their latest poll shows the state's anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment now failing 49-46, as opposed to last month, when it was passing 48-47. Interesting, Tom Jensen also sees improvement for opponents of the state's voter ID ballot measure, which is now passing by just 51-43—in June, it was up by a much bigger 58-34 spread. This poll in general seems to be hugely positive for Democrats, who have suddenly stretched out to a monster 52-40 lead on the generic legislative ballot, up from 47-43 a month ago.
And speaking of, Obama's actually improved his standing here, from +7 to +10—not the kind of movement we're seeing a lot of for the POTUS this week. Meanwhile, Dem Sen. Amy Klobuchar continues to crush Kurt Bills, 57-31.