POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 5/18

Norton Fades in Colorado

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Colorado finds Jane Norton (R) could be the next in what’s becoming a long line of NRSC supported Senate candidates to not even make it past the primary.

Norton leads Ken Buck (R) in the Republican Senate primary by just five points, 31% to 26%, a 12 point drop in her lead from two months ago.

In the Democratic primary, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) has now opened up a 15 point lead, 46% to 31%, over Andrew Romanoff (D).

Quote of the Day

“We all know when to get into this business, or you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t. I think very few know when to get out.”

— Retiring Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT), in an interview with The Hill.

Democrats Try to Use Their “Political Brain”

The Democratic Party has hired Drew Westen, author of The Political Brain, to help them sell their policies more effectively to voters, the Washington Post reports.

Westen argues that Democrats typically try to sell policies to voters through reason and facts, ignoring research showing that people respond more to emotional appeals.

So instead of talking about “the environment,” they should talk about “the air we breathe and the water we drink.” Instead of referring to “the unemployed,” they should use “people who’ve lost their jobs.”

Said Westen: “There are a few things if you know about the brain, they change the way you think about politics. If you understand we evolved the capacity to feel long before we evolved the capacity to think, instead of barraging people with facts (the standard Democratic way of talking to voters) you speak to people’s core values and concerns.”

Souder Made Abstinence Video with His Mistress

This is priceless: Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) — who just resigned after admitting to an extramarital affair with a staffer — recorded a video with the same woman praising abstinence education, according to TPM.

See more…

Close Generic Ballot Gives Advantage to Republicans

The latest Gallup tracking poll finds the two major political parties essentially tied in the congressional voting preferences of registered voters nationally.

However, Republicans historically “have had a significant turnout advantage in midterm elections, shifting the gap in voter support for the two parties by five percentage points, on average, in their direction. This means that if Republican and Democratic candidates still enjoy equal support from all registered voters by Election Day, Republican candidates would most likely receive a higher percentage of the actual votes cast.”

Bristol Palin Hits Speaking Circuit

Bristol Palin “is hitting the speakers’ circuit and will command between $15,000 and $30,000 for each appearance,” the AP reports.

“Palin was thrust into the spotlight as a pregnant teen during her mother’s unsuccessful campaign for vice president in 2008. She had son Tripp that year and has since spoken about abstinence and the challenges of life as a young single mother.”

Candidate’s Record as Police Officer Examined

Jeffrey Perry (R), who is running for the seat of retiring Rep. William Delahunt (D-MA), was involved, as a police sergeant in the early-1990s, “in two instances in which an officer under his command conducted illegal strip searches of teenage girls,” the Boston Globe reports.

Souder Will Step Down Over Extramarital Affair

Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) will announce his resignation “after it came to light that he was conducting an affair with a female staffer who worked in his district office,” Fox News reports.

“Elected as a family values conservative as part of the Republican revolution in 1994, Souder survived a tough re-election challenge in 2008 and survived a contested primary two weeks ago.”

Blumenthal Invents a War Record

At a ceremony honoring military veterans, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D), who is running for U.S. Senate, recalled his own service, the New York Times reports.

Said Blumenthal: “We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam. And you exemplify it. Whatever we think about the war, whatever we call it — Afghanistan or Iraq — we owe our military men and women unconditional support.”

“There was one problem: Mr. Blumenthal… never served in Vietnam. He obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970 and took repeated steps that enabled him to avoid going to war, according to records.”

Ben Smith: “That Connecticut Senate seat just got less safe for Democrats.”

Blumenthal is expected to be nominated at the Connecticut Democratic convention on Friday.


Can Blumenthal Hang On?

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) will hold a news conference later this morning to discuss the blockbuster story last night that documented how he exaggerates his military service.

Poizner Slams Whitman Over Internet Porn

With polls showing him closing in on Meg Whitman (R) in the GOP race for governor in California, Steve Poizner (R) released a tough new ad accusing his opponent of peddling pornography on the Internet.

The primary is in three weeks.

See more…

Bad Weather Helps Sestak?

The weather forecast tomorrow in PhiladelphiaPittsburgh and most of the rest of Pennsylvania is for rain during voting hours.

Conventional wisdom suggests this may dampen turnout for all but the most enthusiastic voters and will give an edge to Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) in his effort to defeat Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary.

Nate Silver notes that other intangibles seem to favor Sestak as well.

Pawlenty Plays Hardball with State Budget

If you’re not sure Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) is running for president, theMinneapolis Star Tribune‘s coverage of his refusal to give in on the state budget should convince you.

Pawlenty insisted on closing a $3 billion shortfall without raising taxes and ultimately forced the legislature into special session.

Said one angry lawmaker: “I’ve served with six governors, and five of them know what democracy is about. You compromise.”

McCain Shakes Up Campaign Staff

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) “is shaking up his campaign leadership team as the Arizona Republican readies for an all-out ground fight in his closely watched GOP primary battle against former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R),” the Arizona Republic reports.

The Hotline: “In a year in which incumbent senators are in danger of losing their party’s nominations, McCain has already shown himself to be extra cautious, advertising against Hayworth long before Hayworth got in the race. McCain’s reliance on a more professional, more experienced set of campaign staffers indicates he is still taking pains to be cautious.”

Gibbons Seen as an Absentee Governor

The Las Vegas Sun runs a brutal profile of Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons (R) whose “whereabouts were often unknown — even to his senior staff.”

Because of his frequent absense, aides would regularly use an automatic pen to put his signature on official documents. Joked one staffer: “The autopen was the busiest employee in the state.”

“For them, the autopen became a symbol of Gibbons’ tenure. As Nevada endured the worst crisis in its history, he was for months — perhaps years — disengaged from the day-to-day duties of governing, uninterested in public policy and often absent. That is the portrait that emerged in interviews with more than a dozen current and former aides, legislators and lobbyists. Many former staff members would not comment, even when granted anonymity.”

First Read: “Behind the scenes, the Blumenthal campaign will point to the thousands of times Blumenthal referred to his service correctly so that they can paint the picture of a candidate who misspoke. Bottom line: It’s fingernail time for Democrats in Washington and Connecticut. They need to hope two things: 1) that the reservoir of goodwill he’s built up with Connecticut voters is real; and 2) that Blumenthal’s campaign is right and the only times he misspoke about his Vietnam service are those cited by the Times. Any other revelations… and then?”

The next 24 hours will be critical as to whether Blumenthal survives as his party’s U.S. Senate nominee. Interestingly, the Democratic nominating convention is on Friday.

What to Watch in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) faces a tough primary challenge from Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) for the Democratic Senate nomination. Polls close at 8 pm ET.

1. The early returns will come from Philadelphia where Specter is widely seen as having an advantage. Specter started his political career as Philly’s district attorney and is counting on a large turnout among African-Americans. While polling differs on how well Specter and Sestak are doing in Philadelphia, Specter better jump out to a large lead early or his night will likely be a long one.

2. Speaking of the black vote, Specter’s fate may be tied to Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Anthony Williams. Williams, who is African-American, has, like Specter, been endorsed by most of the major politicians and political organizations in Philadelphia. While Williams is likely to lose to front-runner Dan Onorato, a strong Williams performance (20%+ statewide) probably indicates a high African-American turnout and is good for Specter.

3. Suffolk University pollsters have pegged York County as the “bellwether” county. That is, the county most likely to predict the results statewide. While Suffolk University does not always get the results right, the winner of their chosen bellwether county almost always wins statewide.

— Guest contributor Harry Enten writes Margin of Error and is an intern forPollster.com.

What to Watch in Arkansas

In Arkansas, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) faces a primary challenge from Bill Halter (D) for the Democratic Senate nomination. Polls close at 8:30 pm ET.

1. Most experts believe that Blanche Lincoln will win the most votes on Tuesday, but will she get the 50%+1 to avoid a runoff? A key factor will be whether conservative Democrat D.C. Morrison can garner anywhere near the mid to high single digits he has in recent polls. If Morrison voters do no show up, Lincoln chances of getting to the 50% benchmark go significantly higher.

2. The early returns from past Arkansas elections have typically been from liberal areas, which are Bill Halter’s constituencies. If Blanche Lincoln’s vote is north of 45% when the first 10% of precincts report, she will probably be able to garner the extra 5% needed to put her over the top.

3. Much of Halter’s liberal base is concentrated in Arkansas 2nd congressional district, home to Little Rock and a large African-American population. Polls indicate that Halter’s campaign, as it did in the 2006 Democratic Lt. Gubernatorial primary, will benefit from large African-American turnout in Little Rock. Luckily for Halter, many contested primaries are being held in the second district, including for the House of Representatives where one of the top candidates, Joyce Elliott, is African-American and liberal. If Elliott makes it into a runoff with second district front-runner Robbie Wills, it probably means African-American turnout is high.

— Guest contributor Harry Enten writes Margin of Error and is an intern forPollster.com.

What to Watch in Kentucky

In Kentucky, Jack Conway (D) and Dan Mongiardo (D) face off in what has turned out to be a very close Democratic Senate primary. Polls close across the state by 7 pm ET.

1. Jack Conway is from Louisville and is expected to do quite well there. Louisville has a tendency to report its results earlier in the evening, and Conway should lead early in the count. Dan Mongiardo is counting on a strong performance in the rural areas of Kentucky and should be able to close the gap with Conway as those results come in. If Mongiardo leads with 50% of the precincts reporting, he’ll likely win.

2. Will voters actually pull the lever for Darlene Price? This former US customs drug agent and Democratic candidate for US Senate has been pulling about 5% in recent polls. In polls, her vote tends to be among Conway’s constituency of liberals and females. If the support Price falters at the polls, Conway is likely to be the beneficiary and it may put him over the top.

3. Does anybody actually show-up? Most of the media attention in Kentucky (and nationally) has been focused on the Republican Senatorial primary between likely winner Rand Paul and Trey Grayson. The Secretary of State, who happens to be Trey Grayson, predicts only a 30% turnout statewide. Conway has vastly outspent Mongiardo on television and is likely to benefit from a large turnout. If more than 500,000 votes are cast statewide in the Democratic primary, Conway is likely to win.

— Guest contributor Harry Enten writes Margin of Error and is an intern forPollster.com.


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