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Leading Off:

CT-Sen: Linda McMahon didn't just shoot herself in the foot on Monday. She set an AK-47 on full auto and emptied the whole clip into her Pradas. It all starts here, at an interview with the Hartford Courant's editorial board:

Courant: So a rape victim, in a hospital. And it's a hospital that is run by a Catholic institution. Emergency contraception, should that be—should she be sent to another hospital in the middle of the night when she's in dire distress?

McMahon: I don't think that the government should overreach. I mean it's a separation of church and state in my view, and I think that a religious institution has the right to decide what its policies would be in that, in that case.

Courant: Yeah and I respect that, I just wonder if that institution, gets a certain, a majority of it's money from the government, if it's mostly federally funded, does that play a role in your thinking?

McMahon: Well I just think again, that it is an issue of separation of church and state, and that institution should decide what its role would be, and what it's comfortable with doing in that instance.

In other words, exactly the kind of thing McMahon should have the brains not to say in an overwhelmingly pro-choice state like Connecticut. Of course, the damage was instant. But then... wow did she ever dig her hole even deeper in attempting to un-screw herself at Monday night's debate with Chris Murphy:
I do want to clarify one thing that Congressman Murphy had said about this, um, the rape issue and contraception. That was asking the Hartford Courant review board, and it was really an issue about a Catholic church being forced to offer those pills if the person came in in an emergency rape... that was my response to it. I absolutely think that we should avail women who come in with rape victims the opportunity to have those morning after pills or that treatment that they should get."
Whoda thunk that Linda McMahon would join the Todd Akin brigades? I'll have to refer to my Daily Kos colleague Kaili Joy Gray for the exact count (she's an expert at this kind of thing), but the number of different flavors of rape according to Republicans has really reached epic proportions: forcible rape, honest rape, legitimate rape (of course), easy rape, and now emergency rape. For a candidate who has insisted so hard that she's actually pro-choice, this is an extraordinary disaster. As local columnist David Collins opined:
I think Linda McMahon might have done better at Monday night's Senate debate with Chris Murphy if she had simply taken out a cigarette lighter and set hundred-dollar bills on fire.


Polls: Here's a new batch of Senate polling. The most troubling numbers come in Pennsylvania, where Quinnipiac sees Dem Sen. Bob Casey's lead shrinking to just three points over the free-spending Tom Smith, and Barack Obama's 12-point lead collapsing to just four following the fallout over his first debate performance.

FL-Sen (UNF): Bill Nelson (D-inc): 50, Connie Mack (R): 40

MT-Sen (Rasmussen): Jon Tester (D-inc): 48 (43), Denny Rehberg (R): 48 (47)

NJ-Sen (Quinnipiac): Bob Menendez (D-inc): 55 (50), Joe Kyrillos (R): 37 (40); Obama 51-43 (51-44)

PA-Sen (Quinnipiac): Bob Casey (D-inc): 48 (49), Tom Smith: 45 (43); Obama 50-46 (54-42)

HI-Sen: This is so weird. Alaska Rep. Don Young is now endorsing fellow Republican Linda Lingle—after he made headlines when he crossed the aisle to cut an ad for Democrat Mazie Hirono. Apparently, Young's support for Hirono was limited to the primary only. Amusingly, though, when Young backed Hirono, Lingle called him "one of the House of Representative's most controversial members"—something Hirono's people were all too happy to point out after Young's latest switcheroo.

IN-Sen: This headline describing Monday night's debate between Democrat Joe Donnelly and Republican Richard Mourdock sure sounds like a win for Donnelly: "Mourdock tries to distance self from tea party." More amazingly, Mourdock was asked again to name a Democrat in the Senate he could work with—a question he previously flubbed badly—and he still couldn't come up with a single name. I mean, seriously? His campaign staff couldn't prep him on this one? And how hard would it be to give a shout-out to, say, Joe Manchin? Mourdock must be a real idiot if he can't figure out how to answer that one, and the people working for him can't be much better.

OH-Sen: Sherrod Brown (D-inc): $5.4 mil raised

WI-Sen: Tommy Thompson has officially lost it:

"Tammy Baldwin, her whole record is anti-Israel," Thompson said at a press conference in Wauwatosa. "She voted for the first time for the sanctions three months ago because she knew she was running for the U.S. Senate. That is the lamest excuse I've ever heard.

"She's anti-Israel, she's anti-Jewish and she's trying to now somehow obfuscate her views and her intentions," the former governor added.

I mean, in the uglier corners of the Republican Party, insinuations that Democratic politicians are somehow "anti-Israel" are distressingly common. But "anti-Jewish"? Thompson just called Baldwin a full-blown antisemite! All the more extraordinary since Baldwin "had just spoken Sunday morning at the Jewish Community Center in Whitefish Bay."

By the way, this is totally hilarious. After Tommy's son 38-year-old son Jason decided to engage in some birther "humor," his campaign put out a statement claiming, "The Governor has addressed this with his son, just like any father would do." I thought that was some bollocks, but New York Magazine's Dan Amira has really done this justice with a piece titled: "How to Talk to Your 38-Year-Old Son About Birtherism." Sample:

Be firm, but don't shame or chastise your 38-year-old son. Remember, he may very well determine whether or not you end up in a shitty nursing home.

NH-Gov (Suffolk): Maggie Hassan (D): 41, Ovide Lamontagne (R): 38

WA-Gov: The latest installment in SurveyUSA's never-ending polling of the Washington gubernatorial race has the spread a little closer: Dem Jay Inslee leads Republican Rob McKenna 47-44. That's down from a 48-42 Inslee lead six weeks ago. I'd ordinarily chalk that up to mundane float within the margin of error (remember that we have a very reliable benchmark here in the form of August's Top 2 primary, which Inslee "won" 47-43), but the spread in the presidential race is down to "only" 14 instead of 20 like last poll, so maybe there's also a little downward pressure from the top. (David Jarman)


CA-30: It's not clear to me why Kimball Political Consulting, a Republican firm from Massachusetts, is polling an all-Democrat race in California, but I guess they wanted to capitalize on the recent Berman-Sherman debate smackdown and garner a little attention for themselves. In any event, despite Brad Sherman's intemperate arm-around-the-shoulders act of aggression at the debate, Kimball finds him leading Howard Berman 32-26. That's a ton of undecideds, though, so I'm not sure this poll tells us a lot about where this race is headed. Of course, I'd have said Sherman had the clear advantage in this race unless he did something crazy like physically assault Berman, so...

Still, though, it seems like Sherman's the man to beat. As Nathan Gonzalez points out, Berman's campaign emailed this poll around—and when you're touting a survey that has you at 26%, things can't look good. More importantly, Sherman's responded with his own internal from the Feldman Group, and he also finds Berman at 26. The problem is that Sherman's obliterating him, taking 51 percent of the vote. And in a stark admission that what happened at the debate was potentially very damaging, the memo actually notes that the poll was largely conducted after the forum. If this is Berman's high-water mark, then he's pretty hosed.

CA-36: Well hmm. GOP Rep. Mary Bono Mack's out with an internal of her own, from Arthur Finkelstein & Associates, that purports to show her up 55-38 over Democrat Raul Ruiz. Those results come in response to a new Ruiz survey that had him up 46-43, but there are a few odd things about Bono Mack's poll. For one, it has a bare-minimum sample size of 300 (Ruiz's had 406 respondents). More importantly, this is far from the first Democratic internal that's shown a close race: Democracy for America previously released two polls (one on August, one in September) that had the race at 2-3 points each.

So if Bono Mack really had such gaudy leads, why didn't she try to squash Ruiz's momentum back then with numbers like the ones she's publicizing now? What's more, the amount of third-party money being spent here doesn't comport with this being a 17-point race. And the fact that Bono Mack's campaign is trying to discredit Ruiz's poll by pointing out that Lake Research got the Wisconsin recall wrong is weak, weak, weak.

And here's another good reason not to believe Mary Bono Mack's polling: DFA just came out with a third survey (again from PPP), and Ruiz is ahead 47-46. The presidential toplines are very reasonable, too: Obama's up 49-48 (he won 50-47 four years ago). If I were MBM, I would not like the trajectory of this race, not one bit.

FL-26: It looks like Benenson Strategy Group is doing double duty in South Florida. They previously polled for Democrat Joe Garcia, but their latest survey is for the DCCC. Regardless of client, they still find Garcia maintaining a serious lead over GOP Rep. David Rivera, 46-35. Most notable is that the memo says Obama "only leads Romney by 1%" (no actual toplines are provided), a much tighter spread in the presidential race than previous polls have seen. Indeed, in Benenson's August survey, when Garcia led 49-40, Obama was up 50-40. So it's good to see that the president's post-debate collapse apparently hasn't affected candidates downballot, at least in this race.

IL-10: Three new Illinois House polls came out on Tuesday, two Dem and one GOP. First up is a DCCC in-house one-day robopoll in the 10th, which features Democrat Brad Schneider edging GOP Rep. Bob Dold! by a 44-43 margin. Making life tough for Schneider, though, is something we've seen in almost all Illinois House polling to date: Obama sharply underperfoming his 2008 margins. He's beating Romney 54-42, but that's a steep drop from his 63-36 win over McCain under the redrawn lines. (It makes you wonder whether Illinois Dems perhaps got too greedy and should have drawn one more Republican vote sink instead.) Notably, Dold and the D-Trip basically agree about where he stands: A month-old Dold poll had him up 44-37, not the happiest of places for an incumbent.

IL-13: The D-Trip also has a robo special in the 13th, with some nice numbers for David Gill. He's beating Republican Rodney Davis 43-37, once again in spite of a steep Obama decline. (The POTUS leads Romney just 48-43, as opposed to 55-44 in 2008.) That 43% mark is the highest score Gill's ever gotten in any known poll, and the spread is decidedly better than what his own 40-39 internal at the start of October found.

IL-17: The final Illinois survey comes from the campaign of GOP Rep. Bobby Schilling and the NRCC, courtesy Public Opinion Strategies. Schilling is up 51-44 over Democrat Cheri Bustos, which actually represents more of an improvement for his opponent than for him. Back in an August POS poll, Schilling was up 50-37. Since that poll came out, two Democratic surveys painted the race as a tossup, so obviously we're at a bit of a loggerheads here. This new Republican poll has some really dismal numbers for Obama, who's at just 50-44 over Romney. That would be an epic plummet from the POTUS's 60-38 mark here in 2008. Believable? Well, not inconceivable.

ME-02: We have dueling internals out of Maine's 2nd Congressional District, but at least they both agree that Dem Rep. Mike Michaud is leading. Republican hopeful Kevin Raye says that Michaud is "only" up 47-40, in a survey from never-heard-of-`em Eaton River (with "results... processed by Scientific Marketing," whatever that means). Michaud responded with numbers from his usual pollster, Normington Petts, that instead have him dominating 58-33. (That's actually "down" from a 62-30 lead in Michaud's last internal.) Neither side offers presidential toplines, but as the linked article notes, several independent surveys have shown Michaud up 15-20 points.

MN-06: We have a pair of polls out on MN-06, one independent and one internal. SurveyUSA (for KSTP-TV) finds GOP queen of crazy Michele Bachmann leading Democrat Jim Graves 50-41, a pretty daunting margin—if you believe it. They also have Romney beating Obama 53-36, which is a fair bit worse for the president than McCain's 55-43 margin here in 2008. But Graves has responded with his own survey from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, the third such poll he's released. Taken at the start of the month, GQR has Bachmann leading just 47-45, little changed from her 48-46 edge in August. Graves says he's ahead with independents 53-36, a very different picture from SUSA, which has Bachman on top 43-31 with that group.

TN-04: I don't usually pay a lot of attentions when people file various sorts of complaints in the political world—FEC complaints, ethics committee complaints, what have you. After all, anyone can file a grievance, and it doesn't have to be substantiated, so usually I prefer to wait until there's some actual action or corroboration that suggests "this thing is real." But a medical ethics complaint? That's not something you see every day, so I'll guess the folks at CREW had to do some research a little outside their usual scope in order to submit a complaint to the Tennessee Dept. of Health against GOP Rep. Scott DesJarlais.

Of course, you know that DesJarlais, a physician, admitted to having an affair with a patient (and rather infamously tried to pressure her to have an abortion). That's an extraordinary breach of medical ethics, and one which other doctors in the state have been sanctioned for in the recent past. The health board is declining to comment (and complaints remain confidential unless disciplinary action is taken), so there's no word on if or when DesJarlais might be called to account. But the facts speak for themselves, and DesJarlais has denied nothing.

Other Races:

San Diego Mayor: SurveyUSA's latest poll of the San Diego mayoral race continues to show that retiring Democratic Rep. Bob Filner is still the favorite here, leading Republican city councilor Carl DeMaio 47-40 in the ostensibly nonpartisan race. That's a bit tighter than last month's poll, where Filner led 50-38. Considering that he's one of the most progressive members of the House, Filner is doing surprisingly well among moderate Republicans, as seen in that he's up by 13 points among people who voted for Nathan Fletcher and by 14 among those who voted for Bonnie Dumanis. (David Jarman)

Grab Bag:

AFSCME/SEIU: The two big Dem-supporting unions are pumping a bunch of dough into several different races all over the map: $600K in WI-Sen, $1.3 mil in NH-Gov, $650K in CA-52, and $160K on radio in FL-26. Links to all the ads and more details on the buys are at the link.

Crossroads: Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS is launching a $5 million ad spree in seven Senate races. Roll Call has breakdowns on the buys and copies of six of the ads. Most notable are continued purchases in Indiana (almost $1 mil) and Maine (around $300K).

Fundraising: In case you missed it, we posted our gigantic third quarter House fundraising chart on Tuesday. Click through to find out how much every candidate in every competitive House race—all 94 of them—raised and spent during the last fundraising period, and how much cash they have left for the stretch run.

Ohio: Big (and positive) news out of Ohio on the voter suppression front: The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected Secretary of State Jon Husted's request for an emergency stay of a lower court ruling that required the state to restore early voting hours on the weekend before election day. As a result of the unanimous, unsigned, one-sentence decision, voters throughout the Buckeye State will be able to cast their ballots early on the following dates and times:

Saturday, November 3, 2012 – 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Sunday, November 4, 2012 – 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Monday, November 5, 2012 – 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Passings: Democrat John Durkin, who served in the Senate for one term and was party to possibly the craziest-ever recount battle following the 1974 election, has died at the age of 76. If you aren't familiar with it, the entire story is worth a read—eventually, a do-over special election was declared! According to the AP, Durkin once said "that he wouldn't wish the experience on his worst enemy" and added ''I'd much rather have read about it than have lived it."

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Wed Oct 17, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Rape and Domestic Violence and Daily Kos.

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