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Leading Off:

IN-Sen: I'm going to assume that Richard Mourdock fell for my trap. After he screwed up yet again in a debate last week, I wrote:

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?
Well, in a recent interview, Mourdock took my "advice" and did just that, citing Manchin as an example of someone "he could find common ground with on energy issues." Mourdock really should have hired Admiral Ackbar as a campaign advisor:
"I appreciate Mr. Mourdock mentioning me as a Democrat who he can work with, but as a Senator, you've got to be able to reach out to all 99 of your colleagues — because we must put America first. One person isn't enough," Manchin said in a statement.

"That's why I strongly support Joe Donnelly, who has continually shown that he has the temperament and good judgment to reach across party lines to truly put our country before politics. As someone with a bipartisan approach, I can tell you we need more people like Joe Donnelly if we're going to fix our country for the next generation," he added.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney took some time out of his schedule to try to save Mourdock's ass by recording a TV ad on his behalf. The Republican presidential nominee speaks directly to the camera, praising Mourdock in that warm, authentic style only Romney can convey. Just kidding: This is straight-off-the-factory-floor Romneybot, who probably is actually not the guy you want to help you broaden your appeal to the Rust Belt Dick Lugar supporters you've cheesed off so mightily.

Senate:

GA-Sen: Not only does local political analyst Jim Galloway think that Saxby Chambliss could be the next Republican senator to fall victim to a tea party insurrection, but he says that even Chambliss "has already conceded that he'll have primary opposition" in 2014. Galloway mentions two possible names: 11th District Rep. Phil Gingrey and 6th District Rep. Tom Price, both of whom actually have more cash-on-hand than Chambliss at the moment. But Galloway reports that Gingrey, "through several back-channel paths... has let it be known that he has no interest whatsoever" in challenging the incumbent. Price, however, is a different story, and Galloway outlines several factors that might influence his thinking, including his bid for the No. 4 leadership spot in the House GOP caucus.

MO-Sen: Ah, real nice:

"She goes to Washington, D.C., it's a little bit like one of those dogs, you know 'fetch,'" Akin said. "She goes to Washington, D.C., and get all of these taxes and red tape and bureaucracy and executive orders and agencies and she brings all of this stuff and dumps it on us in Missouri."
Akin's spokesman, clearly pleased with himself for such cleverness, then offered this follow-up:
If Claire McCaskill were a dog, she'd be a "Bullshitsu",@rickwtyler via Twitter for iPhone
ND-Sen: Over the weekend, you might have seen the Fargo Forum's new poll of the North Dakota Senate race from Essman/Research—the one which has GOP Rep. Rick Berg up by a very surprising 50-40 margin. This one deserves special attention, because this race has long been a tossup in all other polling. The most obvious point, which doesn't even touch on any possible flaws in the survey, is that if Berg himself had numbers showing him up 10 points, he'd be screaming them from the rooftops. But he doesn't, so he hasn't. That pretty much tells you all you need to know.

But Essman also has a bad track record polling this race. Back in May, they released a survey that purported to put Berg up 51-44 in the general election—but using a June primary likely voter model. Since there only primaries in ND this year were on the Republican side, that created a manifestly distorted poll—one that should never have been conducted in the first place.

As for Essman's latest poll, if you dig down into the crosstabs, you'll also spot this alarming notice: "Although the polling was conducted through random digit dialing, the poll skewed toward Independents and Republicans." It's probably not a good thing when a pollster puts out a warning that he thinks his own poll is "skewed." (For what it's worth, the D-R-I breakdown here was 19-35-42, versus 28-38-33 in 2008.) And the Heitkamp campaign has also responded with its own internal from the Mellman Group, showing her up 45-42. I'm definitely much more inclined to believe Mark Mellman (who also doesn't have an awkward slash in the middle of his name) than Essman/Research.

NV-Sen (PDF): There are a million caveats that come with this (you can't expect the disparity to continue throughout the early voting period, and you can't predict what percentages of voters are voting the party line), but so far, so good after one week of Nevada early-voting. Votes from registered Dems outstrip GOPers 40K to 27K (and 13K "other"). It's much closer among already-turned-in absentees (10.4K to 9.8K and 3.7K), but it's a good place to start. (David Jarman)

WI-Sen: Oh, Tommy! In a recent meeting with the Wisconsin State Journal editorial board, Republican Tommy Thompson couldn't say whether his plan to reform Medicare (mostly purloined from Paul Ryan) would actually save money, because...

I haven't scored it out, I have no capabilities. [...] When I'm elected to the United States Senate, I have a chance to use the computers and have the access to CBO and I'll be able to make the necessary things.
You can just imagine Tommy Thompson sweating over one of these things, can't you?

Polls

FL-Sen (SurveyUSA): Bill Nelson (D-inc): 48 (47), Connie Mack (R): 40 (36); Obama 47-46 (48-44).

FL-Sen (Rasmussen): Bill Nelson (D-inc): 48 (46), Connie Mack (R): 46 (45); Romney 51-46 (51-47).

MA-Sen (KPC): Elizabeth Warren (D): 48 (47), Scott Brown (R-inc): 46 (48). Obama 55-39. Note this is the first time that Kimball, a Republican firm, has ever shown Warren leading.

MO-Sen (PPP): Claire McCaskill (D-inc): 46 (46), Todd Akin (R): 40 (40); Jonathan Dine (L): 6 (9); Romney 52-46 (51-45).

NJ-Sen (Stockton): Bob Menendez (D-inc): 52, Joe Kyrillos (R): 30; Obama 53-38.

NJ-Sen (SurveyUSA): Bob Menendez (D-inc): 53, Joe Kyrillos (R): 33; Obama 54-40.

OH-Sen (PPP): Sherrod Brown (D-inc): 49 (49), Josh Mandel (R): 44 (42); Obama 49-48 (51-46).

OH-Sen (Quinnipiac): Sherrod Brown (D-inc): 51 (50), Josh Mandel (R): 42 (40); Obama 50-45 (53-43).

OH-Sen (Rasmussen): Sherrod Brown (D-inc): 49 (47), Josh Mandel (R): 44 (46); Obama 49-48 (48-47).

OH-Sen (Suffolk): Sherrod Brown (D-inc): 46 , Josh Mandel (R): 39; Obama-Romney 47-47.

OH-Sen (POS for Mandel): Sherrod Brown (D-inc): 43 (47), Josh Mandel (R): 44 (44).

PA-Sen (Muhlenberg): Bob Casey (D-inc): 45 (41), Tom Smith (R): 37 (39); Obama 50-45 (49-45).

VA-Sen (Rasmussen): Tim Kaine (D): 49 (48), George Allen (R): 48 (47); Romney 50-47 (49-47).

VA-Sen (Wenzel for CU): "Timothy" Kaine (D): 49, George Allen (R): 46 ; Romney 49-47.

VA-Sen (GHY for DSCC): Tim Kaine (D): 48, George Allen (R): 44.

WI-Sen (Feldman for Baldwin): Tammy Baldwin (D) 49 (48), Tommy Thompson (R): 44 (44).

WI-Sen (Rasmussen): Tammy Baldwin (D): 46 (51), Tommy Thompson (R): 48 (47); Obama 50-48 (51-49).

Gubernatorial:

FL-Gov: Florida Democratic Party chair Rod Smith, a former state senator and prosecutor whose name had often come up as a possible gubernatorial candidate, says he won't run in 2014, citing his 25-year-old son's battle with cancer. The Tampa Bay Times channels the Great Mentioner and offers these names as potential challengers to GOP Gov. Rick Scott: 2010 nominee Alex Sink, state Sen. Nan Rich, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jimmy Morales, and former Gov. Charlie Crist (who still hasn't formally joined the Democratic Party).

MO-Gov: PPP's last gubernatorial poll of Missouri seemed a bit gaudy for Dem Gov. Jay Nixon, giving him a whopping 54-35 lead. Nixon's still well ahead in PPP's latest, but things have tightened, and now he's ahead of Republican businessman Dave Spence 51-40. The LG race has tightened, with Democrat Susan Montee pulling into a 43-43 tie with incumbent Peter Kinder, versus a 42-38 Kinder lead in early October. However, the AG battle has gone in the same direction as the governor's contest, with Dem incumbent Chris Koster's 52-34 advantage over Ed Martin slipping to 48-38.

WA-Gov, Ballot (PDF): Local consulting firm Strategies360 is out with a poll that shows the Washington gubernatorial race closer than other pollsters have shown lately: They see a 46-46 tie between Dem Jay Inslee and GOPer Rob McKenna (although it's a 43-40 Inslee lead without leaners pushed). McKenna led 43-39 in their previous poll, though that was way back in May. In addition, they've got Barack Obama leading 52-39, same-sex marriage passing 55-38, marijuana legalization passing 54-38, charter schools passing 51-34, and as for the Washington Senate race... well, they couldn't even be bothered to poll that one. (David Jarman)

House:

CA-21: I can't say I was expecting this—in fact, I said I wasn't expecting this! Democrat John Hernandez, in the running for one of the unlikeliest stories of the entire election cycle, has indeed responded to Republican David Valadao's poll with one of his own. Hernandez's internal, from FM3, has him trailing just 41-37, a far cry from the 53-33 margin Valadao trumpeted last week. Unlike Valadao's survey, Hernandez's includes presidential toplines: Obama leads 50-39, which is a fair bit wider than his 52-46 mark in 2008, but it's not impossible to believe given the trends in the Latino vote. But also ask yourself this: Would Crossroads GPS be spending $600K here if they thought Valadao was a lock?

CA-26/36/41/47/52: Big Dog Alert! Earlier this month, Bill Clinton did a swing through northern California to endorse a whole bunch of Democrats in competitive races; on Tuesday, he'll do the same in SoCal. The explainer-in-chief will appear at a rally at the University of California Irvine's Bren Events Center at 5pm, along with Julia Brownley, Raul Ruiz, Mark Takano, Alan Lowenthal, and Scott Peters.

CA-52: How do you know when a public poll is too optimistic for an incumbent? When he releases his own internals showing the race closer. That's what we have in CA-52, where the U-T San Diego (formerly known as the Union-Tribune) and the University of San Diego have put out a poll from the Glover Park Group showing GOP Rep. Brian Bilbray up 47-38 over Democrat Scott Peters. Weirdly, they released Obama-Romney toplines for the city of San Diego, rather than the 52nd District; the two overlap considerably, but they're not identical. That said, they have Obama winning SD 54-38, pretty close to his 55-43 tally in 2008.

But the fact still remains that just a couple of days earlier, Bilbray himself touted much less gaudy numbers. Clownishly, his press release didn't mention the pollster's name, but Bilbray says he's up only 48-44. (And of course there's no presidential data.) So if you were looking for a reason to be skeptical of the U-T's poll, there you have it.

CO-06: Apparently, symptoms of Coffman's Disease may also include moderate to severe plagiarism:

A pair of columns published by Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora within the past year contain passages of previously published work by other House members but did not attribute the source of the information or writing.

The op-ed columns on different subjects were published beneath Coffman's byline in The Denver Post and the Denver Business Journal.

The Post op-ed contains unattributed material from a budget proposal crafted by Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, while the Business Journal op-ed contains material earlier published by U.S. Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri.

If symptoms persist, retire from Congress.

FL-18: Now this is what I like to see: Democrat Patrick Murphy letting Allen West just speak for himself. In his new TV spot, Murphy just runs a highlight reel of West's greatest hits (interspersed with some talking heads mocking the congressman). If you're running against an opponent as crazy as West, you've gotta let voters hear it for themselves, and that's exactly what this ad does.

IA-04: Republican Rep. Steve King doesn't know a lot of things, it seems. From a new interview over the weekend:

In a follow-up question, Bachman asked King whether he believed the conspiracy theories himself, that President Obama would have been born, not in Hawaii, but in Kenya.

"I don't know where he was born, but I don't see the indication that he was born anywhere else. And I've said that consistently."

IL-02: Dem Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. is returning to the Mayo Clinic to undergo further treatment for bipolar disorder, according to his father, Rev. Jesse Jackson.

IL-08: It's sort of surprising to me that Democrat Tammy Duckworth's waited this long to make an issue of Joe Walsh's $100,000 worth of missed child support payments—the very thing which made him (in)famous in the first place. Perhaps Duckworth had hoped to run a "clean hands" campaign, or perhaps her polling showed the possibility of blowback on this topic—sort of a high risk/high reward proposition. In any event, these aren't the kind of TV ads and mailers you run if you feel you've got this one in the bag, but at least Duckworth has some heavy ammunition in her camp.

IL-11 (GHY for HMP): Bill Foster (D): 49, Judy Biggert (R-inc): 45; Obama 51-46. Note: Obama won this district 61-37 four years ago. That the president is underperforming his 2008 numbers in his home state is nothing new; that he's fallen off this badly—19 points—is news. The fact that Foster's still ahead in spite of that is probably the most important thing of all.

IL-17 (GBA for Bustos): Cheri Bustos (D): 49 (45), Bobby Schilling (R-inc): 45 (47); Obama 53-41 (54-41). This is the first time Bustos has led in her own polling.

MI-03: A new Glengariff poll for the Detroit News has Democrat Steve Pestka leading GOP Rep. Justin Amash, but with a ton of undecideds. Pestka's narrowly ahead by a 35-34 margin, but that sure is a lot of people who haven't made up their mind with just two weeks left before election day. The presidential toplines seem somewhat optimistic to me: Obama's ahead 44-42, and yeah, he won here by 50-49 in 2008, but it's important to remember that John Kerry lost here by something like 15 points four years earlier, meaning Obama's score against McCain was probably a high-water mark.

In response, Amash put out an internal (really, just a press release), saying Public Opinion Strategies has him up 50-36. The prez numbers are very different here, with Romney leading "by 11%" (exact toplines not provided). For what it's worth, a recent Peskta internal from GQR had Amash ahead just 48-44.

MN-06, MN-08: The Minneapolis Star-Tribune commissioned two new House polls, both from Pulse Opinion Research, unfortunately—the for-hire arm of Rasmussen Reports. In the 6th, they have GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann leading Democrat Jim Graves 51-45, while Romney edges Obama 54-39, a little better than John McCain's 55-43 mark four years ago. Meanwhile, in the 8th, Democrat Rick Nolan is beating GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack 50-43. Obama's up just 47-46, compared to his 53-45 victory in 2008, so either this sample is actually unfavorable to Nolan, or Obama's fortunes have seriously soured here.

NH-01: New Hampshire's two congressional races are odd ducks in that they've seen quite a lot of independent polling (much of it sketchy, from UNH) but virtually no internal polling—the situation is usually flipped for House races. But here we have a private poll for Democrat Carol Shea-Porter in the 1st, taken by Global Strategy Group, which finds her ahead of GOP Rep. Frank Guinta 46-43. Libertarian Brendan Kelly, who generally hasn't been included in surveys, takes 6 percent. No presidential toplines are provided, but the memo says the sample identified as 27% Dem, 36% GOP, and 37% independent.

NY-21: Okay, so this new spot from Dem Rep. Bill Owens isn't exactly Tom Feeney/John Tierney-level, but I always cringe a bit watching quasi-apology ads. It's all a response to this new ad from Republican Matt Doheny, who's attacking Owens over a lobbyist-funded trip to Taiwan which Owens said he'd reimburse the federal government for almost immediately after ProPublica broke the story in May. (Charmingly, Doheny's spot features Chinese violin music playing in the background the whole while.) Here's what really stands out to me, though: Doheny released his ad on Monday—and so did Owens, just a little while later. That means Owens had his spot in the can, knowing that Doheny was going to hit him on this Taiwan junket and concerned enough about the attack's effectiveness that he felt instant pushback was necessary. That doesn't make me feel very good.

NY-24: I'm surprised that the Syracuse Post-Standard labeled the super PAC Friends of Democracy as "non-partisan" since all of their spending since inception has targeted Republicans—but be that as it may, the group just released a new survey of NY-24 from Dem pollster Lake Research. Okay, there's still something odd here, since the writeup calls it an "automated poll" and Lake (so far as I know) typically uses live callers. Oh, you probably want the toplines, right? Well, Democrat Dan Maffei leads GOP Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle 46-44, but there are no presidential numbers.

PA-12: The YG Network (the non-profit arm of Eric Cantor's YG Action Fund) attacks Dem Rep. Mark Critz using an excerpt of Barack Obama's infamous remarks caught on tape at a 2008 fundraiser in San Francisco: "You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania.... [T]hey cling to guns or religion, or antipathy toward people who aren't like them...."

TN-04: Democrat Eric Stewart "goes there" with his new ad, splashing a few newspaper headlines on the screen over GOP Rep. Scott DesJarlais's patient/mistress abortion scandal. But the announcer doesn't elaborate, only saying that DesJarlais "let us down," and the bulk of the ad is devoted to featuring Stewart and his priorities (protect Medicare/Social Security, oppose "bad trade deals"). Stewart has to take risks here and go strong with just two weeks left and little money in the bank. I'd hammer DesJarlais as hard and explicitly as I could if I were him.

Reshuffling Roundup:

CA-36: Mary Bono Mack is evidently still vulnerable: Crossroads GPS has just jumped into the race for the first time with a spot attacking Democrat Raul Ruiz. No appearances for Subcommandante Marcos (yet)—it's just the same phoropter ad they've used elsewhere. (Oh, a phoropter is that steampunk-y device eye doctors use to test your vision.) Crossroads is also up with new ads in two other familiar battlegrounds (IL-12 and NY-25), and they're re-upping their buys in several other districts (IA-03, IN-02, CA-21, MI-01, NV-04, and NY-01).

CA-39: America Shining, a super PAC boosting Democrat Jay Chen (mostly funded by his friends and family) in his uphill bid against GOP Rep. Ed Royce, has now spent a pretty hefty $600K to date. The absence of any polling here, though, makes me wonder how wise of an investment this has been.

FL-10, NJ-03: Hmm. Stuart Rothenberg was recently talking down Dem chances in FL-10 (citing secret polls), and the DCCC had long since seemed to give up on Shelley Adler's hopes in NJ-03. But two linked conservative groups, the Congressional Leadership Fund and the American Action Network, are advertising in both races. The Florida buy is for a hefty $1.2 million and the New Jersey buy is for $730K. If those are "merely" insurance policies, then they're awfully expensive. (CLF is also spending $450K in the still-hotly-contested IA-03.) Links to all the ads are at the link.

FL-16: National Democrats seemed to write off this race some time ago, so it's pretty surprising to see the House Majority PAC pop into FL-16 with a $50K buy targeting GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan. As far as I can tell, they didn't send out a press release mentioning the expenditure (they typically do), and I don't see a copy of the ad on their YouTube account. So does Keith Fitzgerald still have a shot? Or was this some earlier iron-clad reservation that HMP couldn't get out of?

NY-27: Speaking of HMP, it looks like they've added another $150K to their buys in NY-27, bringing them to a total of $650K. Their new spot directly goes after Republican Chris Collins for his wealth as such (noting that he's worth over $100 million) and then attacks him for a well-known incident where, right after he purchased a factory, the company laid off workers and slashed salaries for those who remained.

NRCC: The NRCC is out with 13 new TV ads and three new radio spots; The Hotline's Scott Bland has the full list at the link. Perhaps most notable are spots in AZ-02, where Dem Rep. Ron Barber seemed to be in strong shape after his convincing special election win in a tougher district, and UT-04, where I guess the GOP must not be quite as convinced as they like to claim they are that Dem Rep. Jim Matheson is a goner.

Other Races:

OH Ballot: As ever, the numbers for Ohio's proposed independent redistricting commission look bad. PPP finds the measure failing by a 48-35 margin, which represents a drop from 44-37 opposed mid-month.

Grab Bag:

WATN?: Remember Randy Hopper? You will once you click the link:

Former Republican senator from Fond du Lac Randal Hopper spent Sunday night in jail following a report of a fight late Sunday at his ex-wife's home.

Hopper, 46, of Fond du Lac, was cited for drunken driving and taken into custody on charges of disorderly conduct — domestic abuse, criminal trespass to dwelling and unlawful use of telephone, according to a Fond du Lac County Sheriff's Office press release.

Okay, if the first three words don't ring the right bells, he's a "former" senator because he was successfully recalled by Democrats during the summer of 2011.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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