POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 10/29

Republicans Lead in Wisconsin

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Wisconsin shows Republicans are headed for comfortable wins in races for both Senator and Governor.

In the U.S. Senate race, Ron Johnson (R) leads Sen. Russ Feingold (D) by nine points, 53% to 44%.

Meanwhle, Scott Walker (R) leads by an identical margin against Tom Barrett (D) in the race for governor.

Robopolls Tend to Favor Republicans

With more than 4,000 polls in his database this year, Nate Silver concludes that on average, automated polling firms — that conduct the so-called robopolls — “have a 2-point Republican-leaning house effect, whereas the live interviewer polls have a 0.7-point Democratic-leaning house effect. The difference between the two, then, is 2.7 points.”

LePage Still Leading for Maine Governor

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Maine finds Paul LePage (R) leading independent Eliot Cutler (I), 40% to 28%, with Libby Mitchell (D) at 24%.

Key finding: “What’s most remarkable about LePage’s likely victory is that it comes despite the fact that a majority of Maine voters don’t like him. 51% of them have an unfavorable opinion of him to only 42% who see him in a positive light. But because he has a relatively unified conservative base while Democratic leaning voters are splitting almost evenly between Mitchell and Cutler he’s in a position to win without coming anywhere close to 50% of the vote.”

Johnson Maintains Lead in Close Race with Feingold

We the People poll in Wisconsin shows Ron Johnson (R) continues to lead Sen. Russ Feingold (D) for U.S. Senate race, 48% to 44%, but the contest shows some signs of tightening.

Paul Headed for Big Win in Kentucky

A new SurveyUSA poll in Kentucky finds Rand Paul (R) has opened up a wide lead over Jack Conway (D) in the U.S. Senate race and now leads by nine points, 52% to 43%.

“Paul leads in all but a few demographic groups, and his margin puts him in position to win in a landslide, which is generally considered to be 10 percentage points or more, if voters continue the trend in his direction.”

Clinton Tried to Push Meek Out of Race

“Bill Clinton sought to persuade Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) to drop out of the race for Senate during a trip to Florida last week — and nearly succeeded,” Politico reports.

“Meek agreed — twice — to drop out and endorse Gov. Charlie Crist’s independent bid in a last-ditch effort to stop Marco Rubio, the Republican nominee who stands on the cusp of national stardom.”

“The Crist, Meek and Clinton camps even set a date for an endorsement rally: the following Tuesday, Oct. 26. Meek was to give Crist his blessing and explain to his disappointed supporters — many of whom deeply distrust the governor, who was elected as a Republican — that their votes could save the Senate for the Democrats and save America from the rise of Rubio, who is viewed both as a hard-line conservative and a potential national figure.”

Another Poll Shows Chafee in the Lead

A new WPRI poll in Rhode Island confirms what an earlier poll found: Lincoln Chafee (I) now leads the race for governor with 33%, followed by John Robitaille (R) and Frank Caprio (D) tied at 26% with 11% still undecided.

Said pollster Joe Fleming: “We’re seeing a real shift in the governor’s race. As a result of all this, Lincoln Chafee now has a lead – for the first time in this governor’s race, somebody has a lead.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I think Jon Stewart is as good an interviewer as there is in the public domain right now.” 

— White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, at a briefing, on President Obama’sappearance on the Daily Show last night.

Voters Like Everyone Less

YouGov/Polimetrix: “The shine has come off Barack Obama. His approval ratings are falling, fewer people would vote for him today than voted for him in 2008, and pundits interpret all of this as a bad sign for Democrats in Tuesday’s midterm elections.”

“But, the shine is coming off the Republicans, too — and in equal magnitudes. It turns out, that in the worse economic climate since the Depression, American voters are disillusioned with candidates from both parties. And, if anything, the deflation of potential Republican presidential candidates is ever-so-slightly more precipitous than for President Obama.”

Playing the Ex-Wife Card

Just before Rep. Michael McMahon (D-NY) and challenger Michael Grimm (R) took the stage for their debate, the Staten Island Advance notes “there was high drama unfolding in the audience: The sudden presence of Grimm’s former wife in a front-row seat — courtesy of the McMahon campaign.”

“Also, Grimm’s former father-in-law, businessman Jhong Uhk Kim, better known as ‘Master Kim,’ and two of his former brothers-in-law… The apparent goal: To psych out Grimm.”

But it didn’t work as Grimm later told reporters, “She looked as beautiful as the day I met her. It was a pleasure to see them.”

Sorensen Hospitalized

President Kennedy’s famed speechwriter, Ted Sorensen, has been hospitalized after suffering a severe stroke, the AP reports.

“Some of Kennedy’s most memorable speeches resulted from such close collaborations with Sorensen that scholars have debated who wrote what. Sorensen said that the most famous line from Kennedy’s inaugural address, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,’ was written by the president himself. Others say it was Sorensen.”

Highly recommended: Sorensen’s memoir, Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History.

O’Donnell’s One Night Stand

Gawker: “Three years ago this week, an intoxicated Christine O’Donnell showed up at the apartment of a 25-year-old Philadelphian and ended up spending the night in his bed. Here’s his story — and photos — of his escapade with the would-be Delaware senator.”

Democrats Catch Republicans in Generic Ballot?

A new McClatchy-Marist survey finds Democrats and Republicans tied among likely voters in the generic congressional ballot at 46% each.

Among registered voters, Democrats actually lead by six points, 47% to 41%.

Jonathan Singer: “Digging a little deeper into the survey, an extremely interesting and important number comes out: The Democrats’ strength among registered voters comes directly from the cell-only population… This data buttresses the findings published earlier this month by Pew that if pollsters are skipping cell-only voters — exactly the type of voters who are more likely to vote Democratic — their results may simply be too favorable for the GOP.”

Hickenlooper Leads in Colorado

A new RBI Strategies & Research poll in Colorado finds John Hickenlooper (D) leading the race for governor with 48%, followed by American Constitution Party candidate Tom Tancredo (C) at 34% and Dan Maes (R) at just 10%.

Several recent surveys have found Tancredo just a few points behind Hickenlooper.

Democratic Insiders Split on Key Senate Races

The latest Political Insiders poll finds Democratic operatives split over who will win in four key Senate races — Kentucky, Illinois, Nevada and Pennsylvania.

Key findings: 64% think Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) would pull out his race in Nevada, but 83% also thought that Jack Conway (D) would fall short in Kentucky. In Illinois, 52% thought Alexi Giannoulias (D) would win and 53% thought Joe Sestak (D) would prevail in Pennsylvania.

In contrast, solid majorities of GOP insiders thought their candidates would win all four races.

First Glimpse of Bush’s Memoir

Daily Beast: “Jimmy Carter’s White House Diary looks like a page turner by comparison. Matt Drudge appears to have scored an early copy of George W. Bush’s memoir, Decision Points, though if his preview is any indication, the book’s a snooze: Sections that Drudge highlights include a bone about how Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia almost walked out of Bush’s ranch because he was so angry about Israel, until he saw a turkey and took it as a good omen. Drudge also says Bush reveals he gave an order to shoot down planes on September 11 and thought the plane in Pennsylvania had been shot down. Drudge adds that Bush rarely addresses his critics and steers clear of President Obama entirely.”

Sinks Leads Close Race for Florida Governor

A new Mason-Dixon poll in Florida shows Alex Sink leading Rick Scott (R) in the race for governor by three points, 46% to 43% with 7% still undecided and 4% supporting another candidate.

Said pollster Brad Coker: “Without a doubt, the major reason that Scott is running behind other strong GOP candidates this cycle is that a majority of Florida voters have a negative opinion of him. If Scott wins, it will be one of the very, very rare instances where a candidate with a negative rating above 50 percent was able to prevail.”

A Quinnipiac poll released earlier today found Sink with a four point lead.

An interesting side note: NBC News reports Scott has already spent $60 million of his own money on the campaign.

Schmidt Talks to Kids About Abortion

The New York Daily News reports that Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) “shocked teachers and students alike this month when she decided to talk about abortion to a classroom of 6-year-olds.”

In a letter to parents, the principal of the school wrote: “Your children may come home with questions, especially if this is a topic that has not been broached in your home… She indicated that abortion involves the killing of a child before it is born.”

Coons Widens Lead Over O’Donnell

A new Fairleigh Dickinson PublicMind survey in Delaware shows Chris Coons (D) holding a commanding 21-point lead over Christine O’Donnell (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 57% to 36%.

A similar survey earlier this month found Coons with a 17 point lead.

Said pollster Dan Cassino: “It would be an historic comeback for her to win on Tuesday.”

The Anti-Obama Book Club

John Avlon: “Hating President Obama has become its own industry — and here’s a new stat to prove it: To date, there have been at least 46 anti-Obama books published. I’m not talking about thoughtful criticisms of his policies, but detailed demonizations of the president.”

The Barely True Campaign

Politifact: “After rating hundreds of claims in the 2010 election — from TV ads, debates, interviews and mailings — we’re giving an overall Truth-O-Meter rating to the campaign. We rate it ‘Barely True.’ In a majority of claims checked this fall by PolitiFact and our eight state partners, we found a grain of truth, but it was exaggerated, twisted or distorted.”

In Search of the Perfect Political Ad

For eight months, Frank Luntz conducted national polls and instant-response focus groups in 20 states in pursuit of the perfect political ad. His conclusions as to what works best — and what is backfiring badly:

Rule No. 1: Because Americans loathe most politicians, they love a candidate who hates the game.

Rule No. 2: Being anti-Establishment is important, but being anti-Washington is essential.

Rule No. 3: Straight talk works best.

Rule No. 4: “If I have to sacrifice, so should my representatives.”

Rule No. 5: Fake doesn’t sell.

Rule No. 6: Be serious.

Quote of the Day

“I’ll come down and cuss you if you need me to.”

— President Obama offering to help Georgia gubernatorial candidate Roy Barnes (D) in any way, as recounted by Barnes to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Toomey Still Ahead in Pennsylvania

The latest Morning Call/Muhlenberg College tracking poll in Pennsylvania shows Pat Toomey (R) with an eight point lead over Rep. Joe Sestak (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 48% to 40% with 12% still undecided.

Obama vs. Stewart

President Obama appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night and the video clip is definitely worth watching.

First Read: “The most striking part of President Obama’s appearance on The Daily Show wasn’t his pitch to younger voters (though that was the purpose of the interview) or saying that outgoing economic adviser Larry Summers did a ‘heck of a job’ (which was an unfortunate choice of words, given what Bush said about Michael Brown after Katrina). Rather, what was remarkable was that it served as the president’s most vigorous defense of his agenda, particularly health care — against his liberal critics.”

Jonathan Cohn: “I thought he was convincing, particularly when he talked about the ways health care reform was already helping millions of Americans. Then again, I’ve been making the same argument for a while, so others may not react the same way.”

Palin Will Run if No One Else Does

In an interview to air tonight on Entertainment Tonight, Sarah Palin said she will run for president in 2012 saying, “if there’s nobody else to do it, then of course I would believe that we should do this.”

Said Palin: “It’s going to entail a discussion with my family [and] a real close look at the lay of the land, to consider whether there are those with that common sense, conservative, pro-Constitution passion, whether there are already candidates out there who can do the job … or whether there’s nobody willing to do it, to make the tough choices and not care what the critics are going to say about you, just going forward according to what I think the priorities should be.”

Kasich Still Ahead in Ohio

A new SurveyUSA poll in Ohio finds challenger John Kasich (R) leading Gov. Ted Strickland (D) in the race for governor by five points, 49% to 44%.

Chafee Grabs Lead as Caprio Sinks

A new Quest Research poll in Rhode Island shows Lincoln Chafee (I) leading John Robitaille (R) in the race for governor by seven points, 35% to 28%, with Frank Caprio (D) falling back in third place at 25%.

Caprio lost 12 points since a mid-October poll after saying earlier this week that President Obama can “shove it” after learning he would not get the president’s endorsement.

Brown Takes Double-Digit Lead in California

A new Field Poll in California shows Jerry Brown (D) has amassed a 10-point lead over Meg Whitman (R) in the California governor’s race, 49% to 39%. Just last month a similar poll showed the race tied.

Whitman’s negative ratings “have reached record levels despite her spending $162 million in the largest self-funded campaign in American history.”

Said pollster Mark DiCamillo: “I don’t think voters have warmed up to Meg Whitman. That’s not effective advertising. With all that money, she’s never been able to increase the number of voters who view her favorably. She didn’t make the sale.”

Miller Plummets in Alaska

A new Hays Research poll in Alaska shows Scott McAdams (D) surging ahead of Joe Miller (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 29% to 23%, allowing the unnamed write-in candidate — most of which are presumably for Sen. Lisa Murkowski — to lead the contest with 34%, with undecided voters still at 13%.

“With a 68% disapproval rating, and Miller’s trend line looking like the flight of the Hindenberg even before the latest scandal hit the news, the chances of him actually pulling it off and winning this election are slim.”

Meanwhile, the Anchorage Daily News reports Murkowski got a big win when the Alaska Supreme Court ruled yesterday that voters can look at a list of certified write-in candidates when they go to the polls.

Republicans Set to Win But with No Mandate

A new Bloomberg poll finds Republicans are poised to retake the House of Representatives next week but “without a mandate from voters to carry out their policies.”

“The minority party, whose supporters are more motivated and enthusiastic, leads 47% to 44% when likely voters are asked how they plan to vote in their congressional election… The margin is wide enough that if it holds over the next five days it likely would give Republicans the net 39-seat gain needed to capture the House.”

“At the same time, voters either are divided about or opposed to the policies and approach that Republicans have said they would offer once in control, particularly on cutting spending; voters also want the parties to work together.”

Sinks Holds Small Lead in Florida

A new Quinnipiac poll in Florida finds Alex Sink (D) leads Rick Scott (R) by four points in the very tight race for governor, 45% to 41%.

Said pollster Peter Brown: “Sink has had a good week. But with one in eight voters still in play and Scott’s supporters slightly more solid in support, this race looks like it will go to the finish line as a dead heat.”

Dayton Widens Lead in Minnesota

The latest MPR News-Humphrey Institute Poll in Minnesota shows Mark Dayton (D) with a 12-point lead over Tom Emmer (R) in the race for Minnesota governor, 41% to 29%, with independent candidate Tom Horner (I) at 11%.

Key finding: “Although Republicans around the country appear far more inclined to vote in the 2010 elections than dispirited Democrats, the story is quite different in Minnesota. Among those who are extremely or very enthusiastic about the election, Democrats are matching Republicans — 50 percent of those who say they are extremely or very enthusiastic about the election are Democrats and 46 percent are Republicans.”

Crist Narrows the Gap in Florida

A new Quinnipiac poll in Florida shows Marco Rubio (R) leads Gov. Charlie Crist (I) in the U.S. Senate race, 42% to 35%, with Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) at just 15%.

Said pollster Peter Brown: “Crist has cut into Rubio’s margin, but the former state House speaker remains the clear favorite to become Florida’s next U.S. senator. With his supporters less likely to change their minds than those of his two opponents, Rubio is in the driver’s seat with only five days to go until Election Day. Most of the closure came not from Rubio voters deserting him, but from Meek’s voters moving to Crist.”

Sabato’s Final Calls

Larry Sabato issues his final midterm election forecast and sees Republicans picking up 55 House seats, 8 Senate seats and 8-9 governorships.


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