POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 9/16

Dudley Leads for Oregon Governor

A new SurveyUSA poll in Oregon finds Chris Dudley (R) leading former Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) in the race for governor, 49% to 43%.

In three previous polls, Kitzhaber has never led.

Obama Will Appoint Warren to Interim Post

President Obama will appoint Elizabeth Warren to a special position reporting to both him and to the Treasury Department and tasked with heading the effort to start the new federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, ABC News reports.

Warren “has been seen by many on the Left as a force for greater accountability and transparency, and a check against the forces in the Obama administration more closely allied with the financial sector. Many officials in that sector eye her warily as too anti-business.”

Portman Leads in Ohio Senate Race

A new CNN/Time/Opinion Research poll in Ohio finds Rob Portman (R) leading Lee Fisher (D) in the U.S. Senate race among likely voters, 52% to 41%.

Key finding: Portman has a two-to-one advantage among independent voters.

Murray Maintains Lead in Washington

A new CNN/Time/Opinion Research poll in Washington shows Sen. Patty Murray (D) leading challenger Dino Rossi (R) for U.S. Senate among likely voters, 53% to 44%.

Another Poll Shows Close Nevada Race

A new CNN/Time/Opinion Research poll in Nevada shows Sharron Angle (R) with an edge over Sen. Harry Reid (D) among likely voters, 42% to 41%.

Notes pollster Keating Holland: “The traditional gender gap has always meant that men favor Republicans and women favor Democrats, and it looks like that pattern is emerging in Nevada despite the fact that the Republican is a woman and the Democrat is a man.”

Whitman Breaks Spending Record

Meg Whitman (R) gave her California gubernatorial campaign another $15 million, bringing her total personal spending in the race to $119 million, which shatters the record for most money ever spent by one political candidate on a single election, theLos Angeles Times reports.

That record was held by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Ayotte Holds Small Lead in New Hampshire

A new Public Policy Polling survey in New Hampshire finds Kelly Ayotte (R) barely leading Paul Hodes (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 47% to 43%.

Key point: “The competitiveness of her primary forced Ayotte to do things she might have been able to get away with skipping if she’d had an easier path to the nomination. For instance her Sarah Palin endorsement proved critical in surviving with a small victory last night, but 52% of general election voters say Palin’s support is a turn off with only 18% of them saying it’s a positive. Her having to move to the right in the primary has already hurt her overall image with New Hampshire voters and could prove to become even more of a liability in the general election.”

The Problem With Poll-Centric Punditry

With the steady stream of election upsets this primary season, The Hotline laments the loss of “old-fashioned common sense in evaluating and understanding races. We’ve become beholden to numbers, any numbers, at the expense of states’ and districts’ fundamental characteristics and candidates’ and campaigns’ own unique qualities.”

“Pundits have treated Joe Miller’s upset of Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, last month as a huge shock, but much of that surprise was based on months-old polls giving Murkowski a comfortable edge. Delving into the fundamentals of the contest (with the great benefit of hindsight), all the warning signs were there. Murkowski’s family name had been greatly damaged since her Senate appointment, and Sarah Palin weighed in against her with an assist from Tea Party groups.”

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

“I don’t want the majority back if we don’t believe anything. So I think if we want the numbers, if we want the majority, then we’re going to have to stand on some principles that the American people believe in.”

— Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) quoted by The Hill.

An Uptick in Democratic Enthusiasm?

Marc Ambinder: “Expect an uptick in Democratic enthusiasm and expect several significant races to tighten. People tend to make judgments through the lens of the last major event. If Democrats interpret last night to mean that radical Republicans are threatening to take control, they’re going to be more receptive to the basic party message.”

“The media is going to help the Democratic Party’s national messaging, which is that the GOP is a party full of Christine O’Donnells.”

Rubio Opens Up Clear Lead in Florida

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll in Florida shows Marco Rubio (R) has opened a clear lead in the U.S. Senate race with 40%, followed by Gov. Charlie Crist (I) at 26% and Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) at 21%.

When voters were asked their choice between Rubio and Crist if Meek was not in the race, the contest is essentially tied — Rubio 46% and Crist 45%.

Meanwhile, a new Rasmussen survey shows Rubio at 41%, followed by Crist at 30% and Meek at 23%.

GOP Viewed as Leaderless

A new Pew Research/National Journal survey finds that 54% of Americans do not know who leads the Republican party and 18% volunteer that “nobody” leads the party.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) each are mentioned by 5% of the public, while another 4% mention House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH).

Bonus Quote of the Day

“When you get here, the pressure by the two caucuses to kind of go along with ‘the team’ is pretty constant. And it’s gotten more so over the years… Any deviancy from party orthodoxy is viewed as an act of betrayal or a lack of moral fiber.”

— Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), in an “exit interview” with NBC News.

How Did the Wealthy Candidates Fare?

With the primary season nearly complete, the Wall Street Journal notes that “of the 10 top self-funders who competed for the House, only three made it through the primaries, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit research group. It’s the same story in the race for the Senate: Of the 10 biggest self-donors, only three are still running.”

National Republicans Embrace O’Donnell

It’s a day late, but NSCC Chairman John Cornyn (R-TX) issued a statement backing Christine O’Donnell (R) after her victory in Delaware’s Republican U.S. Senate primary last night — and sends a check for $42,000 as well.

Ben Smith: “It’s a remarkable reversal, and a vivid illustration that the base is in charge and has the leadership running scared.”

Coons Begins With Big Lead in Delaware

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Delaware shows Chris Coons (D) begins with a solid lead over Christine O’Donnell (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 50% to 34%.

If Rep. Mike Castle (R) were the GOP nominee, he would have led Coons by a 45% to 35% margin.

Voters Support Democrats on Tax Cuts

A new Democracy Corps survey shows Democrats holding the popular position, 55% to 38%, in the debate on extending the Bush tax cuts for everyone earning less than $250,000 but letting them lapse for the wealthiest Americans.

While the GOP edge in the generic congressional ballot is seven points in the survey, the lead is cut to just five points after those surveyed understand the Republican position on tax cuts.

O’Donnell Said “Evidence” Supported Creationism

Delaware U.S. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell’s (R) years of television appearances as a Christian activist will likely provide considerable material for campaign ads.

Well, New York magazine has already started digging and notes that she once “debated the merits of evolution on CNN, and she was not a fan.”

Key quote from O’Donnell: “Well, creationism, in essence, is believing that the world began as the Bible in Genesis says, that God created the Earth in six days, six 24-hour periods. And there is just as much, if not more, evidence supporting that.”

Will Republicans be Pushed to the Right in 2012?

First Read notes the purge going on inside the Republican party “isn’t out of the ordinary. It’s what political parties do after they lose, and what has happened within the GOP — after 2006 and 2008 — is that those who value ideological purity the most are beating those who value winning the most; in fact, the Democrats went through this in the ’70s… One thing is certainly clear, however: This temporary evolution within the Republican Party will end up pushing the 2012 GOP presidential field more to the right.”

However, Joe Scarborough says “the opposite is true, because you have elections like Clinton in ’92; Obama in 2008. They fire up the base, and what happens is you have a mid-term that corrects by going too far left [to] too far right. And then, two years after that, you expect establishment Republicans like Nixon in ’68. If you look at ’66, the Republican Revolution gives us an establishment candidate, Nixon in ’68. You can look at Gingrich in ’94, gives us Bob Dole in ’96. There is always this back-and-forth.”

Castle Will Not Back O’Donnell

A source close to Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE) tells The Hill that the longtime congressman will not be endorsing Christine O’Donnell (R), who beat him in yesterday’s U.S. Senate primary.

Meanwhile, Stu Rothenberg moves the race to “Lean Democrat” and Charlie Cookmoves it to “Likely Democrat.”

Hoffman Trails in NY-23 Primary

Political newcomer Matt Doheny (R) “clung to a narrow lead this morning of more than 600 votes over Doug Hoffman (R) in a tightly-contested Republican primary for the 23rd Congressional District seat,” the Syracuse Post-Standard reports.

No matter what happens, Hoffman will still have the Conservative Party line in the November election. If Doheny wins, it would set up another three-way race for the 23rd District seat, now held by Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY).

Clinton Says New GOP Makes Bush Look Liberal

Former President Bill Clinton said the Republican Party is embracing “ideology over evidence” and even questioned whether former President George W. Bush would fit in among the party’s candidates this year, the AP reports.

Said Clinton: “A lot of their candidates today, they make him look like a liberal.”

Malloy Leads in Connecticut

A new Quinnipiac poll in Connecticut finds Dan Malloy (D) leads Tom Foley (R) among likely voters in the race for governor, 50% to 41%.

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