POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 8/10

Republican Prospects Much Improved Since 2006

A new Pew Research survey finds Democrats have the edge in the generic congressional ballot over Republicans, 45% to 44%. Four years ago, however, Democrats held an 11 point lead.

“Major shifts in sentiment among key voting blocs account for the improved GOP standing in 2010. Republicans now enjoy advantages among typically loyal voting blocs that wavered in 2006, notably men and whites. The GOP is also now running better than four years ago among three key swing groups in recent elections — independents, white Catholics and seniors.”

“Republicans also continue to enjoy an engagement advantage over the Democrats, which at least in part reflects the greater disposition to vote among these voting blocs that have swung their way.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“If I was you I might want me to go away too. But I’m not going away. I’m here.”

— Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), in a speech on the House floor, vowing to fight ethics charges filed against him.

See more…

American Taliban

Just published: American Taliban: How War, Sex, Sin, and Power Bind Jihadists and the Radical Right by Markos Moulitsas.

“Moulitsas pulls no punches as he compares how the Republican Party and Islamic radicals maintain similar worldviews and tactics. Moutlitsas also challenges the media, fellow progressives, and our elected officials to call the radical right on their jihadist tactics more forcefully for the good of our nation and safety of all citizens.”

Stevens Killed in Plane Crash

A friend and former aide tells KTUU-TV that former Sen. Ted Stevens (R) was killed in a plane crash in Alaska.

Stevens, the longest serving Republican senator in history, was 86 years old.

Bennet Would Be Stronger Democrat in Colorado

If he can win his primary today, a new Public Policy Polling survey finds Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) will begin the general election as the favorite to win the U.S. Senate seat to which he was appointed last year.

Bennet leads Jane Norton (R), 46% to 40%, and beats Ken Buck (R), 46% to 43%.

In contrast, Andrew Romanoff will mean the race starts out as a tossup. Romanoff edges Buck, 43% to 42%, but trails Norton 43% to 42%.

Castle Has Solid Lead in Delaware

A new DailyKos/Public Policy Polling survey in Delaware finds Rep. Mike Castle (R) leading Chris Coons (D) in the race for U.S. Senate, 48% to 35%.

Fewer Than Half Approve of Bloomberg

For the first time in five years, a new Marist Poll finds fewer than half of New York City voters approve of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s job performance. Just 49% think Bloomberg is doing either an excellent or good job in office.

Liberals Still Overwhelmingly Back Obama

With the White House slamming liberal critics in an interview, a forthcoming Public Policy Polling survey shows that 85% of liberals actually approve of the job President Obama is doing with just 12% disapproving. In addition, 88% support his health care plan with only 7% opposed.

“Not only are those numbers good, but they’re steady. Obama’s favor with liberals hasn’t been on the decline. In May his approval with liberals was 87/10. In February it was 81/15. In November it was 87/4. Even as his ratings have declined overall he’s stayed in that sort of mid-80s range with liberal voters.”

Parties Pour Money Into Races for Governor

With the next round of redistricting coming up, the New York Times notes both major political parties are spending a lot of money on the 37 races for governor this year.

“The Republican Governors Association has already poured $11 million into these campaigns, and halfway through the year had raised $28 million — more than its entire budget for the 2006 election season — bringing its current reserves to $40 million.”

“The Democratic Governors Association says it intends to devote $50 million to these races, nearly three times as much as ever, and the Democratic National Committee has dedicated as much direct financing to governors’ races as it has to Senate and House campaigns.”

Photo Finish Likely in Georgia

A final Landmark Communications poll in Georgia shows Nathan Deal (R) with a small lead over Karen Handel (R) in the Republican gubernatorial run off.

The race has possible implications for the 2012 presidential race as Mike Huckabee has endorsed Deal, while Sarah Palin has backed Handel.

Polls close tonight at 7 pm ET.

Tight Primaries for Connecticut Governor

Connecticut voters head to the polls today “to decide some of the most hotly contested state primary battles in years, including Republican and Democratic races for governor that have tightened to single-digit margins,” the Hartford Courantreports.

Time notes Democrats “haven’t had a governor in Hartford since Bill Clinton was president and they believe they have a shot this year. Greenwich millionaire (and netroots hero) Ned Lamont faces former Stamford mayor Dannel Malloy in what may be the most closely fought race of the day. Lamont ran for Senate in 2006, and though he beat Senator Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary, he lost once Lieberman ran as an independent. Back then, the hot topic was Iraq, but Connecticut is now focused on the economy.”

On the Republican side, former Bush ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley (R) looks to fend off a surging Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele (R).

Polls close at 8:00 pm ET.

A Test for Emily’s List

The Minneapolis Star Tribune forecasts low turnout — “after all, it’s August” — in Minnesota’s Democratic gubernatorial primary today featuring former Sen. Mark Dayton (D) and Margaret Anderson Kelliher (D).

First Read notes it’s “a big test for the new leadership at Emily’s List, which is backing Kelliher. The organization under its previous leadership had a terrible track record in primaries, but a wholesale change in staff and philosophy has since taken place. A Kelliher victory would be a BIG feather in the cap of the new team. That said, Dayton has spent an ENORMOUS amount of his own money so it won’t be easy for Kelliher.”

The winner of the primary faces presumptive GOP nominee Tom Emmer (R) in the general election.

Three Great Races in Colorado

The most interesting primaries are in Colorado tonight, where both parties are staging competitive primary contests for U.S. Senate.

On the Democratic side, Sen. Michael Bennet (D) faces challenger Andrew Romanoff (D). Time notes the race “is an unlikely toss-up. With the help of President Barack Obama and the Senate Democratic leadership, Bennet outraised Romanoff $7.7 million to $2 million — a big enough margin in most places to win. But Romanoff sold his house two weeks ago and liquidated his savings on the belief that he’s surging.”

But as First Read notes, the even more competitive Senate primary is the GOP race between establishment favorite Jane Norton and challenger Ken Buck. “The C.W. is that the race is now even, after a series of gaffes by Buck (like saying that Coloradoans should vote for him because he doesn’t wear high heels). The party in DC wants Norton and sees her as the more electable candidate and the one most prepared for the fall campaign. Buck, like Romanoff, is playing the role of the insurgent.”

Of course, the other interesting race is the Republican gubernatorial contest between Scott McInnis (R), who’s been plagued by a plagiarism scandal, and Dan Maes (R). Establishment Republicans hope McInnis wins so that they could possibly find a new, stronger candidate in smoke-filled backroom deal.

Most voting in Colorado is done by mail, and those ballots must be turned in by 9:00 pm ET.

Barbour Sends Mailing to Iowa Voters

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) “insists he won’t think about a possible 2012 presidential bid until after this year’s election, but he’s already taking steps to build support in first-in-the-nation Iowa,” Politico reports.

“Barbour sent a mail piece to Iowa Republicans last week introducing himself to likely caucus-goers.”

Meanwhile, The Fix looks at Barbour’s inner circle.

White House Blasts Liberal Criticism

In an interview with The Hill, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was “simmering with anger at criticism from liberals who say President Obama is more concerned with deal-making than ideological purity.”

Said Gibbs: “I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested. I mean, it’s crazy.”

We can file this one under “gaffe.”

Update: Gibbs sends out a statement calling his comments “inartful.”

Daniels Flip Flops on Stimulus

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) “says he is opposed to more federal stimulus money for Indiana, but six months ago he asked for just that,” the Indianapolis Star reports.

“On a national television show Sunday, Daniels denounced a new $26 billion stimulus bill shortly after the program’s host introduced him as a ‘prime contender; for president. But in February, Daniels signed onto a letter seeking additional stimulus funds to run the state’s Medicaid program, which is the bulk of the money in the new stimulus bill Congress is expected to pass today.”

Quote of the Day

“It doesn’t matter what I do. People need to hear what I have to say. There’s no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn’t matter what I live.”

— Newt Gingrich, quoted in an Esquire profile, on the hypocrisy of his extra-marital affairs and his family values rhetoric.

Rand Paul and the Aqua Buddha

In a must-read piece, GQ looks at Kentucky U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul’s (R) college years.

“The strangest episode of Paul’s time at Baylor occurred one afternoon in 1983 (although memories about all of these events are understandably a bit hazy, so the date might be slightly off), when he and a NoZe brother paid a visit to a female student who was one of Paul’s teammates on the Baylor swim team. According to this woman, who requested anonymity because of her current job as a clinical psychologist, ‘He and Randy came to my house, they knocked on my door, and then they blindfolded me, tied me up, and put me in their car. They took me to their apartment and tried to force me to take bong hits. They’d been smoking pot.’ After the woman refused to smoke with them, Paul and his friend put her back in their car and drove to the countryside outside of Waco, where they stopped near a creek.”

Recalled the woman: “They told me their god was ‘Aqua Buddha’ and that I needed to bow down and worship him. They blindfolded me and made me bow down to ‘Aqua Buddha’ in the creek. I had to say, ‘I worship you Aqua Buddha, I worship you.'”

Senate Up for Grabs?

Karl Rove sponored a poll for his new American Crossroads group that shows Republican U.S. Senate candidates averaging a high single-digit lead over their Democratic opponents in 13 states with close races — suggesting Democrats might lose control of the chamber in this fall’s elections.

Politico: “It’s a hope so audacious that few Republicans will even acknowledge it out loud: the possibility that the balance of power in the Senate might be up for grabs in November. The GOP would have to take 10 seats, knocking off virtually every targeted Democratic incumbent and sweeping the open seats held by both parties.”

Levi Johnston on the Stump

Levi Johnston is shopping a new reality-television show in which he will attempt to become the next Mayor of Wasilla, Variety reports.

The show’s name: Loving Levi: The Road to the Mayor’s Office.

“He will give us a real inside look into who he is as a father, a skilled hunter, an avid dirt biker and his journey down the road of small-town politics… right after he gets his high school diploma.”

Why Endorsements Don’t Matter

Time notes that the two sets of competing primary endorsements in tomorrow’s elections are “interesting – but not fascinating,” despite the media hype.

In Colorado, President Obama has endorsed Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) against Andrew Romanoff (D), Bill Clinton’s pick in the Democratic primary.

In Georgia, Sarah Palin endorsed “Mama Grizzly” Karen Handel in the Republican primary against Nathan Deal, who was endorsed by Newt Gingrich.

“Why isn’t this fascinating? Because endorsements are peripheral; voters rarely make their judgments based on such stuff. Indeed, politicians endorse for three reasons: rewarding loyalty (Nathan Deal was a Gingrich ally in the House, Romanoff was a Clinton supporter, Bennett is an incumbent Democrat), picking a winner or picking someone with ideological affinity (Handel is a Mama Grizzly).”

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