POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 10/5

Mondale’s Advice: Lose the Idiot Boards

In an interview with CNN, former Vice President Walter Mondale said President Obama is having a problems connecting with the American people because he relies on teleprompters too much.

Said Mondale: “The American people have to feel that the president senses the suffering they’re going through and wants to be a part of the solution…. He uses these idiot boards to read speeches on television and I think he loses the connection.”

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

“I’m not a witch.”

— Delaware U.S. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell (R), in a new advertisement.

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Bonus Quote of the Day

“I’m the one who usually offers it up, going ‘Man, I wish I could just kick his butt’, but no, we bite our tongue.”

— Sarah Palin, in an interview with Mark Levin, on how she and her husband react to criticism.

Massive GOP Lead Among Likely Voters

The latest Gallup generic ballot test finds Republicans leading Democrats among registered voters, 46% to 43%.

However, in Gallup’s first estimates among likely voters, Republicans have a double-digit advantage under two different turnout scenarios: 56% to 38%, and 53% to 40%.

Interestingly, these findings are in stark contrast to the most recent Rasmussen survey.

Republicans Lead in Florida

A new Florida Chamber of Commerce poll shows Marco Rubio (R) leading Gov. Charlie Crist (I) in the race for U.S. Senate, 40% to 33%, with Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) at 16%.

In the race for governor, Rick Scott (R) leads Alex Sink (D), 46% to 42%.

Update: A Miami-Dade College poll shows Rubio leading Crist, 46% to 27%, followed by Meek at 26%.

Dirty Campaigning

Politico: “After finishing his opening round of casual meet-and-greets, Emanuel hopped into a Dodge Caravan, in which he could be seen vigorously sanitizing his hands in plain view of television cameras and reporters.”

Blumenthal Leads by Double-Digits

With their first debate scheduled for tonight, a new Public Policy Polling survey in Connecticut shows Richard Blumenthal (D) leading Linda McMahon (R) in the U.S. Senate race by 12 points, 53% to 41%.

Blumenthal’s favorability rating is 53/39, while McMahon’s is the opposite, 39/59.

The only Republican Senate candidates with worse favorability numbers than McMahon were Joe Miller, Sharron Angle, and Christine O’Donnell.

Democrats Close the Gap

A new Rasmussen survey shows Republicans leading Democrats in the generic congressional ballot by just three points, 45% to 42% — the smallest gap between parties in roughly a year.

Clinton Gets Higher Ratings in Obama’s Home State

An interesting finding from the new Suffolk poll in Illinois: Voters regard President Obama favorably by a 52% to 41% margin, but they have an even higher opinion of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 61% to 32%.

Of course, Clinton was born and raised in Illinois.

Quinn Opens Up Lead for Illinois Governor

A new Suffolk poll in Illinois finds Gov. Pat Quinn (D) has opened up a 6 point lead over challenger Bill Brady (R), 43% to 37%, Scott Lee Cohen (I) pulling 7% support and 8% still undecided.

Said pollster David Paleologos: “Pat Quinn’s TV ads have put Bill Brady under a microscope and are shifting voters’ focus away from Quinn’s slow progress in dealing with the mess he inherited from Governor Rod Blagojevich. Quinn’s efforts to focus voters on Brady’s negatives are designed to make Quinn look better in comparison, while solidifying his base of support.”

In the U.S. Senate race, Rep. Mark Kirk (R) barely edges Alexi Giannoulias (D), 42% to 41%.

O’Donnell Claimed China Plotting to Take Over U.S.

The AP uncovers more interesting statements made by Delaware U.S. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell (R), these from a debate during her previous run for Senate in 2006.

Some highlights: “She said China had a ‘carefully thought out and strategic plan to take over America’ and accused one opponent of appeasement for suggesting that the two countries were economically dependent and should find a way to be allies.”

O’Donnell claimed to have secret information proving her claims, stating, “There’s much I want to say. I wish I wasn’t privy to some of the classified information that I am privy to.

McMahon Hits Blumenthal Hard

With a month to go until the U.S. Senate election in Connecticut, Linda McMahon (R) pounds Richard Blumenthal (D) on his military record in a devastating new ad.

The first debate of the race is tonight which guarantees Blumenthal’s military service will an issue.

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Justice Brennan

Just published: Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion by Seth Stern and Stephen Wermiel.

New York Times: “The book is brisk, accessible, fair-minded and studded with surprises. Among them, Mr. Stern said, was how often Justice Brennan’s votes in cases like Roe v. Wade, which established a constitutional right to abortion, were in tension with his personal views.”

Are Polls Getting Worse?

Nate Silver says there are some legitimate reasons to be concerned about the polls we get for political races.

Key points: “For a variety of reasons, response rates are declining throughout the survey industry. This has the potential to create problems, including both reduced accuracy and the introduction of bias. These problems are made worse by firms that take various other types of shortcuts, usually in the name of cost containment.”

In addition, there “is some evidence that pollsters do not behave independently from one another — that the results obtained by one may influence others.”

Rahm’s Residency Questioned

Rahm Emanuel kicked off his Chicago mayoral campaign with a video, in which he notes, “I was born here and my wife Amy and I raised our three children here. I’m glad to be home.”

However, an Emanuel spokeswoman tells Ben Smith the video itself was actually filmed in Washington, D.C., in the offices of AKPD media, the firm founded by David Axelrod.

It seems like a small thing, except that election lawyers tell Lynn Sweet that “the state’s municipal code is crystal clear that a candidate for mayor must reside in the town for a year before the election. That doesn’t mean they must simply own a home in the city that they rent out to someone else. They must have a place they can walk into, keep a toothbrush, hang up their jacket and occasionally sleep.”

Emanuel’s residency will almost certainly be challenged in court by likely competitors.

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Obama Approval Suggests Big Midterm Losses

The Gallup tracking poll finds President Obama’s job approval ratings averaged 45% in September.

“Presidents’ approval ratings at the beginning of October in their first midterm election year are generally similar to what they will be at the time of the election. Richard Nixon is the only president whose rating improved significantly (from 51% to 58%) in the final weeks leading up to his first midterm election. If Obama’s approval rating does not improve in the coming weeks, his support will be similar to that of Ronald Reagan (42% in 1982) and Bill Clinton (45% in 1994), both of whose parties suffered substantial congressional losses in the midterm election.”

Client 9

Pre-theatrical release: Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer reveals the untold story of the former New York governor’s downfall featuring interviews with Spitzer, his powerful enemies and the Emperors Club escorts that took him down.

The movie is not even in theaters yet but you can watch it now via Amazon Video On Demand or iTunes.

White House Revamps Legislative Strategy

President Obama, “facing at best narrower Democratic majorities in Congress next year, is likely to break up his remaining legislative priorities into smaller bites in hope of securing at least some piecemeal proposals on energy, climate change, immigration and terrorism policy,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“In a series of recent campaign appearances, Mr. Obama has talked up the stakes in the November election as he seeks to energize supporters and retain Democratic control of Congress. At the same time, White House officials have begun revamping their legislative strategies.”

Lincoln Still Way Behind

The good news for Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) is that a new Rasmussen survey shows she closed the gap with Rep. John Boozman (R) in the Arkansas U.S. Senate race by 20 points since August.

The bad news is she still trails by a whopping 18 points, 55% to 37%.

Trump Says He Wasn’t Behind Poll

Donald Trump told CNN that he’s not behind the mysterious poll in New Hampshire testing his name for a possible presidential run in 2012, but added, “I’m anxious to find out what it says.”

Paladino Switches Gears

New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino (R) is trying to “put a muzzle on personal attacks and concentrate his campaign…around policy ideas,” the Wall Street Journal reports, after a string of gaffes, including accusing his opponent Andrew Cuomo (D) of having an affair and threatening to “take out” New York Postreporter Fred Dicker.

According to Maggie Haberman, “the move comes…as Paladino is hearing from jittery Republican supporters of the nominee that his off-the-cuff style, which has helped him corral voter anger at the state of the state, is muting his policy message.”

Don’t Count Democrats Out Yet

“Republicans carry substantial advantages as they move into the final month of the fall campaign, but the resilience of vulnerable Democrats is complicating Republican efforts to lock down enough seats to capture the House and take control of the unsettled electoral battleground,” the New York Times reports.

“By now, Republicans had hoped to put away a first layer of Democrats and set their sights on a second tier of incumbents. But the fight for control of Congress is more fluid than it seemed at Labor Day, with Democrats mounting strong resistance in some parts of the country as they try to hold off a potential Republican wave in November.”

The Fix notes Democrats raised $16 million in September alone, “a startlingly strong month of fundraising that party operatives insist is a sign of momentum for their side with roughly one month remaining before the November midterms.”

Politico: “Once-despondent Democrats now believe that they may be able to avert a total midterm wipeout, as a series of important states now appears to be trending in their direction or growing more competitive. The bad news: In a sign of how hostile the election environment remains for the party, the cautious optimism is largely due to the view that the impending political hurricane could be downgraded from category 5 to category 4.”

October Matters

They don’t call it an October surprise for nothing.

First Read: “One month out before Election Day, it’s worth reminding everyone that Octobers matter in American politics. It’s the time in the cycle when campaigns start feeling the heat; front-runners see their leads shrink; debates take place; gaffes get magnified; and voters really begin to tune in. Indeed, something unexpected is bound to happen — it almost always does. Remember: Although it first broke in late September, Mark Foley’s Page-gate was an October story that certainly had an impact on the ’06 midterms. And already in the last few days, we’ve seen a housekeeper come out of nowhere (CA GOV) and a father who was once Bozo the Clown (DE SEN). What’s next? It’s October, folks…”

Gibbs Eyed for DNC Chairman

Democratic insiders are “taking the temperature of some top party donors” about the possibility of naming White House press secretary Robert Gibbs as chairman of the DNC heading into President Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012, Politico reports.

“Under the scenario being tested, Tim Kaine, the current DNC chairman and former governor of Virginia, would be named to a top administration post, perhaps in the Cabinet.”

First Read says the possible move is “about a couple of things: (1) With the GOP presidential campaign heating up, having a strong spokesperson, who is comfortable on camera, may be the No. 1 pre-requisite in 2011. It’s one way to both connect the White House to the politics of the coming cycle and separate it at the same time. (2) Gibbs is probably the president’s best advocate on TV and moving to the DNC would give him more latitude to do just that.”

Iowa Democrats Headed for a Bloodbath

With Iowa Gov. Chet Culver (D) running way behind in the polls in his re-election race, Iowa Democrats are bracing for a bad year. But in many cases they’re not even trying.

Smart Politics notes that Democrats failed to field a candidate in 25 of 100 Iowa House contests — the most by any major party since the lower chamber became a 100-member body in 1970.

“The inability of Democrats to come anywhere close to fielding a full slate of candidates this November comes just two years after filling the ballot in 94 of 100 House district contests in 2008 – their best showing since 1976 when the Democratic Party also ran 94 candidates. “

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