POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 10/21

Paul Maintains Lead in Kentucky

A new Mason-Dixon poll in Kentucky shows Rand Paul (R) leads Jack Conway (D) in the U.S. Senate race by five points, 48% to 43% with 9% undecided.

Brown Opens Up Lead in California

A new Public Policy Institute of California poll shows Jerry Brown (D) has opened an eight point lead over Meg Whitman (R) in the race for governor, 44% to 36%, among likely voters.

In September, the race was effectively tied.

Said pollster Mark Baldassare: “He particularly picked up support among Democrats, women and Latinos since the last survey. It’s been an eventful few weeks. There have been debates. There have been allegations. There have been counter-allegations.”

In the U.S. Senate race, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) leads challenger Carly Fiorina (R) by six points, 43% to 37%.

Palin’s Disclosure

Jay-Newton Small searches Sarah Palin’s financial disclosure filings and discovered that her political action committee recently hired Allison Meyers, the same RNC operative who was fired for arranging a party at a topless, bondage-themed nightclub.

A search of RNC filings from earlier this year confirms that Meyers and the newly-formed Altered States Alliance LLC — which was paid for “fundraising consulting” — use the same mailing address.

U.S. Ranks Low in Female Representation

USA Today: “Eighty-nine is the number of nations that still surpass the U.S. in terms of women’s representation in government. Some nations not known for human rights. Nations such as Rwanda, Uganda, Tajikistan, South Africa and Cuba. Given all its wealth and principle, our country still ranks an embarrassing 90th out of 186 worldwide.”

“And, despite the ‘Grizzly‘ hype, no one is anticipating any real improvement this November. In fact, the total number of female congressional representatives could well decline for the first time in three decades.”

Kirk’s Online Fundraising Haul

leaked memo from Rep. Mark Kirk’s (R) U.S. Senate campaign has many revelations but especially interesting is that an advertisement purchased on theDrudge Report brought in just $50 in contributions.

See more…

Strickland Catches Kasich in Ohio

A new CNN/Time/Opinion Research poll in Ohio finds Gov. Ted Strickland (D) has erased John Kasich’s (R) lead and is now in front by one point, 48% to 47%.

Just a month ago, Kasich held a seven point lead in a similar poll.

Dead Heat in Alaska

A new CNN/Time/Opinion Research poll in Alaska finds Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a write-in candidate, deadlocked with Joe Miller (R) at 37% each in the U.S. Senate race, with Scott McAdams (D) way behind at 23%.

Key finding: Just 80% of Murkowski’s supporters ruled out the possibility of voting for another candidate if they found “the procedure for casting a write-in vote is different or more complicated” than expected.

Said pollster Keating Holland: “But in a close race, that handful of votes that Murkowski may lose due to complicated write-in procedures may be enough to knock her out of first place. If the six percent of Murkowski voters who aren’t very familiar with the write-in procedure cast votes for her that don’t actually count, the poll indicates that she would only get about 34% in the final election tally — probably not enough to win.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I am delighted that the president seems to be so obsessed with me.”

— Karl Rove, in an interview on Fox News, arguing that invoking his name on the campaign trail doesn’t help Democrats.

See more…

Another Poll Points to Big GOP Gains

All signs point to huge Republican victories in two weeks, with the GOP now leading Democrats on virtually every measure in an Associated Press-GfK poll of people likely to vote in next month’s midterm elections.

In the generic congressional ballot, Republicans lead 50% to 43%.

“Republicans get higher marks with likely voters than Democrats on handling the economy, taxes, the deficit, job creation, immigration and national security, and on managing the federal government. Likely voters are evenly split on which party would best handle health care and Social Security.”

Raese Opens Up Lead in West Virginia

A new Rasmussen survey in West Virginia finds John Raese (R) has now opened up a seven-point lead over Gov. Joe Manchin (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 50% to 43%.

It’s Raese’s biggest lead yet.

Condit Writing a Book

Former Rep. Gary Condit (D-CA) has written a book about how his political career imploded after he was romantically linked to 24-year-old intern Chandra Levy, AOL News reports.

Said his lawyer: “He is in the process of finishing the book and it will talk about everything that happened. Right now we’re not showing the book to anyone. No publisher has seen it. He feels strongly the book should not come out while this trial is pending. It’s very frank.”

Condit will almost certainly be a witness at the trial of Levy’s accused killer. Jury selection starts this week.

Kirk Holds Small Edge in Illinois

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Illinois finds Rep. Mark Kirk (R) leading Alexi Giannoulias (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 42% to 40%.

Key finding: “The competitiveness of this race is completely predicated on paltry Democratic turnout. If that proves to be the case it’s about 50-50 as to who will win on election day with perhaps a small advantage for Kirk. If Democratic turnout exceeds current expectations there’s almost no doubt Giannoulias ends up as the winner.”

A new Rasmussen survey has Kirk leading by four points, 44% to 40%.

The Rise of Dark Money

Sunlight Foundation: “Of the $189 million spent so far by Super PACs, non-profits and labor unions to influence the 2010 mid-term elections, $97.5 million has come from groups that do not disclose any donors, an analysis of Federal Election Commission contribution records shows. That is, about 52 percent of the money spent so far on everything from political ads to phone banks to fliers promoting or opposing federal candidates has come from groups that don’t disclose the sources of their funds.”

Spitzer Rejected from Harvard Club

Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer was denied membership in the Harvard Club of New York City — “a rare snub by the club — because officials there did not want to be associated with Mr. Spitzer and the prostitution scandal that forced him from the governorship of New York in 2008, according to a person told of the decision by Harvard officials,” the New York Times reports.

Secret Service Almost Shot LBJ

The Daily Beast highlights an interesting anecdote from the new book, The Kennedy Detail: JFK’s Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence.

“Secret Service agent Gerald Blaine claims he almost shot President Lyndon Johnson, just hours after President John Kennedy was assassinated. Assigned to protect Johnson the night after Kennedy’s death, Blaine wrote that he heard footsteps approaching the vice-president’s mansion so he ‘firmly pushed the stock into his shoulder, ready to fire.’ The intruder was Johnson himself — and Blaine had the gun pointed directly at his chest.”

Frank Lends Campaign Money

Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), “in a scrap for his political life, has lent his campaign $200,000,” the Boston Herald reports.

The loan comes even as Frank’s campaign released an internal poll which has him leading challenger Sean Bielat (R) by 19 points.

Candidate Confuses Markeys

A new ad from House candidate Cory Gardner (R) attacks Rep. Betsy Markey (D-CO) for voting for the Obama administration’s budget — except that she didn’t. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) is the Markey in Congress who voted for the budget.

Colorado Pols: “We’ll be honest, we were expecting this mistake — but we thought one of the innumerable 527s glomming onto this race would have made it, not Cory Gardner’s campaign itself. It is kind of sloppy; two weeks from the election, this can’t be the first time they’ve run afoul of the wrong Markey.”

Federal Budget Reality Check

New York Times: “The parties share blame for the current fiscal situation, but federal budget statistics show that Republican policies over the last decade, and the cost of the two wars, added far more to the deficit than initiatives approved by the Democratic Congress since 2006, giving voters reason to be skeptical of campaign promises.”

“Calculations by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and other independent fiscal experts show that the $1.1 trillion cost over the next 10 years of the Medicare prescription drug program, which the Republican-controlled Congress adopted in 2003, by itself would add more to the deficit than the combined costs of the bailout, the stimulus and the health care law.”

Tea Party Cruises

The Tea Party Express, which backed under-funded tea party candidates in GOP Senate primaries — including Joe Miller in Alaska, Christine O’Donnell in Delaware and Sharron Angle in Nevada — paid Holland America Line a total of $103,000 to send six of its staffers on four consecutive cruises.

Politico: “The payments to the cruise line, which appeared on a campaign finance report filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission, have started drawing attention from critics of the Tea Party Express, who have alleged that the committee is a front for Republican consultants seeking to use the populist movement to make a buck and live the high life.”

Paladino Implodes in New York

A new Siena poll in New York finds Andrew Cuomo (D) has extended his lead over Carl Paladino (R) to an overwhelming 37 points, 63% to 26%, among likely voters.

Key finding: Paladino is now viewed unfavorably by 69% of likely voters.

Quote of the Day

“I believe this country is engaged in an ideological struggle of a kind we have never seen before.”

— Former President George W. Bush, quoted by the Tyler Morning Telegraph.

Murray Barely Ahead in Washington

A new McClatchy-Marist Poll in Washington finds Sen. Patty Murray (D) with a one point lead over Dino Rossi (R) for U.S. Senate, 48% to 47%, among likely voters.

Said pollster Lee Miringoff: “This is indeed a cliffhanger, any way you carve up the numbers. The road to a Republican majority in the Senate could go through Washington state.”

Clinton Campaign Blitz Helps Democrats

Former President Bill Clinton has been on the trail aggressively stumping for Democrats across the country and just did his 90th event of the election season,CNN reports.

A new Gallup poll shows that Clinton has a greater potential to do more good on the campaign trail for Democratic candidates than President Obama. His net positive impact among registered Democrats is plus-48 points, while it’s plus-42 points for Obama.

“While Clinton does modestly better than Obama among Democrats, his net positive impact becomes comparatively larger compared with Obama’s among independents and Republicans.”

Obama Will Skip Visit Over Headgear

“On an upcoming trip to India, President Obama will skip visiting one of the country’s most sacred shrines out of fear that wearing the requisite headgear might make him appear Muslim,” Jake Tapper reports.

New York Times: “The United States has ruled out a Golden Temple visit, according to an American official involved in planning. Temple officials said that American advance teams had gone to Amritsar, the holy city that is the site of the temple, to discuss a possible visit. But the plan appears to have foundered on the thorny question of how Mr. Obama would cover his head, as Sikh tradition requires, while visiting the temple.”

Bank Bailout Earned 8.2% Profit

The federal government’s bailout of financial firms “provided taxpayers with higher returns than they could have made buying 30-year Treasury bonds — enough money to fund the Securities and Exchange Commission for the next two decades,”Bloomberg reports.

“The government has earned $25.2 billion on its investment of $309 billion in banks and insurance companies, an 8.2 percent return over two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That beat U.S. Treasuries, high-yield savings accounts, money-market funds and certificates of deposit. Investing in the stock market or gold would have paid off better.”

Sestak Grabs Lead in Pennsylvania

A new Muhlenberg College/Allentown Morning Call poll in Pennsylvania shows Rep. Joe Sestak (D) leading Pat Toomey (R) for U.S. Senate, 44% to 41%, with 15% still undecided.

“It wouldn’t be the first time Sestak surged with the finish line in sight. In two previous elections, when political pundits had counted him out, Sestak came from behind with just weeks to go and emerged victorious.”

PPP survey yesterday also found Sestak taking the lead.

Democrats Still Lead in California

A new SurveyUSA poll in California finds Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) leading challenger Carly Fiorina (R) by two points, 46% to 44%.

Interesting finding: Boxer nominally trails Fiorina among likely voters interviewed on their home telephones, but, among voters who do not have a home telephone and who were interviewed on their cellphone, Boxer leads 2:1.

In the race for governor, Jerry Brown (D) leads Meg Whitman (R) by seven points, 47% to 40%.

Portman Maintains Huge Lead

A new Quinnipiac poll in Ohio finds Rob Portman (R) with a huge lead among likely voters over Lee Fisher (D), 55% to 34%.

Said pollster Peter Brown: “Given that Fisher has been trailing Portman by roughly 20 points since the fall campaign got underway, there’s not much reason to think he can close that gap appreciably in the final two weeks of the campaign. Other than self-identified Democrats, it is hard to find a demographic group that supports Fisher.”

Haley’s Lead Shrinks in South Carolina

A new Crantford & Associates (D) poll in South Carolina shows Nikki Haley (R) leading Vincent Sheheen (D) in the race for governor by just two points, 43% to 41%

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