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October 30, 2012

Illinois: Democrats’ Redistricting Crown Jewel Not as Royal as Expected

Illinois: Democrats Redistricting Crown Jewel Not as Royal as Expected

Rep. Jan Schakowsky campaigns with Democratic House hopefuls Tammy Duckworth and Brad Schneider at Harmony Park in Arlington Heights, Ill. (Shira Toeplitz/CQ Roll Call)

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. — Democratic hopes of winning the House majority have been quashed, but in this northern Chicago suburb’s crowded village hall on a Saturday morning, one can see the glimmer of what might have been.

At this single location, early voters wait an hour to cast ballots in one of three redrawn Congressional districts. The hall serves as a symbol of the extent to which Democrats redrew the lines of the state’s map to their advantage.

Throughout the cycle, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) repeated these words: “The road to the majority runs through Illinois.” But less than week before Election Day, it’s clear that Democrats won’t net the 25 seats needed to regain the Speaker’s gavel, and it’s equally clear they won’t make as many gains in Illinois as they had hoped. Full story

Arizona: Barbs Turn Personal Among Richard Carmona, Jon Kyl and John McCain

The Arizona Senate race has taken a nasty and personal turn in the final days, highlighted by increasingly sharp barbs between GOP Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain and former Surgeon General Richard Carmona (D).

Arizona: Barbs Turn Personal Among Richard Carmona, Jon Kyl and John McCain

The spat caps a tumultuous year for the Arizona delegation and politics in the state, and there is little to indicate relationships will improve in the next Congress — especially if Carmona wins the Tossup race.

Carmona faces Rep. Jeff Flake (R) in the race to replace Kyl, who is retiring. But recently Kyl and McCain have played starring roles in battering Carmona, while Flake is hardly in the fray at all. Full story

October 29, 2012

Wisconsin: More Negative Ads Out to Shape Senate Race

Wisconsin: More Negative Ads Out to Shape Senate Race

Rep. Tammy Baldwin and former Gov. Tommy Thompson are continuing to pursue an advertising strategy, implemented last week, that seeks to spook Wisconsonites. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Welcome to the kitchen sink, Wisconsin.

“Nuclear Iran.” … “Uranium.” … “Big oil.” … “Body armor.”

Feeling scared? Because it seems the Senate campaigns of former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) and Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) hope so, at least if you’re a Wisconsin voter.

With about a week left before Election Day, Baldwin and Thompson are continuing to pursue an advertising strategy, implemented last week, that seeks to spook Wisconsonites with negative spots that deal with 9/11 and the Iranian nuclear threat and bolster the existing themes of the election. Baldwin’s campaign has been running on “Tommy: He’s just not for you anymore,” and Thompson’s campaign has been running on Baldwin being “too extreme for Wisconsin.”

Today, Thompson’s camp unveiled another brutal ad, this one called “Body Armor,” which accused Baldwin of fighting to “block funding that provides body armor for our troops just to make a political point.”

Full story

Minnesota: Chip Cravaack Leading in GOP Poll

Minnesota: Chip Cravaack Leading in GOP Poll

An internal poll conducted by Rep. Chip Cravaack's campaign showed him ahead of his Democratic challenger. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 11:55 a.m. | With a week to go before Election Day, two competing polls from Minnesota’s 8th district show vastly different pictures of the tossup race between Rep. Chip Cravaack (R) and former Rep. Rick Nolan (D).

An internal poll conducted by Cravaack’s campaign showed the Republican incumbent ahead of Nolan by 10 points. The poll of 400 likely voters had Cravaack with 50 percent of the vote to Nolan’s 40 percent. The poll’s margin of error was 4.9 points and it was conducted Oct. 24 and Oct. 25.

At the same time, a Public Policy Polling survey of 1,020 likely voters showed Nolan in the lead with 48 percent to Cravaack’s 44 percent, just slightly outside of the 3.8 point margin of error. The poll was conducted Oct. 25 and Oct. 26.

Full story

Virginia: Tim Kaine Up 7 in New Poll

Virginia: Tim Kaine Up 7 in New Poll

Tim Kaine (left) led in the latest Washington Post poll of the Virginia Senate race. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A new poll from the Washington Post found that former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine led by 7 points in the open-seat Senate race.

The Democrat and fellow former Gov. George Allen (R) are battling in one of the most competitive contests of the cycle in a state that could go either way in the presidential race. And after a year of running even, polling results over the past six months have been as mixed as they once were steady.

However, the Post’s polling has not changed over the past month. In the latest survey, Kaine led 51 percent to 44 percent, a nearly identical result from the Post’s September poll. Full story

October 26, 2012

Wisconsin: Feisty Senate Debate Boils Over on 9/11 Exchange

Wisconsin: Feisty Senate Debate Boils Over on 9/11 Exchange

(Bill Clark CQ/Roll Call File Photo)

By the end of the night in Wisconsin, the exchanges between former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson and Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin seemed less like a debate than a fight between two candidates desperate to beat one another and exhausted from the battle.

The blows have become personal in the Badger State, where the Senate race has devolved from big issues such as the economy and health care to the candidate’s responses to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

That Senate candidates in Wisconsin are re-litigating a dark period from more than a decade ago, through both television ads and verbal sparring sessions, reveals a stark reality: The effort by each campaign to make the other candidate seem less appealing in the election’s closing days knows few bounds and is deemed essential to capture the open seat.

“I believe you should never politicize 9/11,” Baldwin said during a charged moment in the debate.

Full story

The Sandy Effect on the Elections

The Sandy Effect on the Elections

(NOAA/Getty Images)

Updated 6:03 p.m. | Hurricane Sandy looks to pose a serious threat to life and property in the eastern United States, but the storm’s timing means it is also likely to have an effect on the last week of the 2012 campaigns.

Prolonged power outages could cause some changes in the way that people cast their ballots come Election Day.

“No matter what happens, we will proceed with the election. If polling places need to be moved or consolidated there are legal ways to do that and we will be in constant touch with local election officials to coordinate that,” Av Harris, a spokesman for the Connecticut Secretary of the State, said in an email.

Harris said that in Connecticut, the office has good coordination with the local power company.

“Worst case scenario if there is no power and power cannot be restored, the optical scan machines can run on battery power or else under a truly worst case scenario where the battery power for the optical scanners was depleted, we could have voters fill out paper ballots, drop them in the secure boxes, and election officials can count them all by hand,” Harris said. “Not an ideal situation by far, but we can do it if we need to.”

Sandy is still days away from landfall, but the storm is already having direct effects on the presidential race.

The Obama campaign has canceled a planned appearance by Vice President Joseph Biden in Virginia Beach on Saturday. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is scratching a Sunday appearance at the Farm Bureau Live amphitheater in Virginia Beach, Va. But the Associated Press is reporting that a Romney event scheduled for Sunday in Prince William County is still on. President Barack Obama is scheduled to appear at a campaign event Monday with President Bill Clinton in Prince William County, Va.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) are among those who have already declared states of emergency as Sandy approaches.

“Due to the track of this storm, and the fact that it will be a hurricane transitioning into a more nor’easter like system, we could see severe weather lasting for 48 hours or more in the state. In that scenario, saturated soil coupled with high winds could lead to major tree damage and extensive power outages,” McDonnell said. “Now is the time for all Virginians to prepare for those possible power outages and disruptions to public services.”

Virginia is the closest presidential battleground state likely to be affected by Hurricane Sandy’s landfall, but the storm appears poised to wreak havoc along the eastern seaboard north into New England. New Hampshire is another presidential battleground state, and there are several Northeastern states with close House and Senate races that will face storm impact.

Utility companies up and down the East Coast have announced they are bringing in extra crews from out of the area to prepare for what they expect may be a lengthy effort to restore power to customers after the storm rips through with tropical-storm-force winds. Some of the power companies, including Connecticut Light & Power, have faced ridicule from lawmakers for their past efforts to get power back.

“We’re closely monitoring weather forecasts and preparing for high winds and heavy rain that can devastate the electric system and cause power outages,” said Bill Quinlan, a senior vice president with CL & P. “The past year has been all about improving storm response, and we stand ready to respond as quickly and safely as possible. While we hope for the best, we all need to prepare for the worst.”

The National Weather Service guidance is warning of a storm with the potential for a historic impact.

“The deterministic guidance … show pressure solutions well beyond what has ever been observed near the New Jersey/New York coast (even exceeding the 1938 Long Island Express hurricane) early in the medium range period,” the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center said today. That hurricane is a reminder of the history that the northeastern United States has with hurricanes.

It would seem to be difficult, if not impossible, to have active Congressional campaigns, even in states with Tossup Senate races such as Connecticut and Massachusetts, during massive power outages. Nor, of course, would people without electricity see all the campaign ads being run by campaigns, political action committees and other outside groups.

Ohio: Jim Renacci Releases Poll Amid Questions on Ad Strategy

Ohio: Jim Renacci Releases Poll Amid Questions on Ad Strategy

Rep. Betty Sutton makes a campaign stop at an Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters meeting at the Knights of Columbus in Avon, Ohio. Sutton is in a tight campaign for Ohio's 16th district against her Republican rival, Rep. Jim Renacci. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

CHICAGO — Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) today released a poll that showed him with a 10-point lead over his opponent, Rep. Betty Sutton (D).

Renacci led Sutton, 51 percent to 41 percent, in a survey conducted for the freshman Republican’s campaign. Seven percent of voters said they were undecided.

The survey results come just after Renacci stopped airing advertisements in the Cleveland broadcast market through Election Day. His strategy puzzled Democrats and, privately, some Republicans too. Both parties view the race as highly competitive, and Roll Call rates it as a Tossup.

Full story

North Dakota: Heidi Heitkamp Leads in Internal Poll

North Dakota: Heidi Heitkamp Leads in Internal Poll

Rep. Rick Berg is running for Senate. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A new internal poll conducted for former North Dakota Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp found the Democrat with a 4-point lead in the state’s open-seat Senate contest.

Heitkamp led Rep. Rick Berg (R) 48 percent to 44 percent with 7 percent undecided. The edge, according to a polling memo from the Mellman Group, stems from Heitkamp’s 23-point lead among independents. Full story

Indiana: Mourdock’s Post-Debate Poll Shows Tied Race

CHICAGO — Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock’s (R) campaign released a poll this morning showing a tied Senate race after his Tuesday night debate, when he called pregnancy from rape something that “God intended.”

Mourdock and his opponent, Rep. Joe Donnelly (D), are tied at 44 percent in the survey paid for by the GOP nominee’s campaign. A libertarian candidate, Andrew Horning, received 6 percent in the poll.

Four percent of voters said they were undecided.

The new numbers serve as damage control for Mourdock after his highly publicized remarks in the final debate of his race. Democrats seized on his comments, airing a new advertisement featuring his words throughout the state. Even some Republicans, including presidential nominee Mitt Romney, distanced themselves from Mourdock’s words by stating their disagreement. Full story

Illinois: Poll Gives Tammy Duckworth a 10-Point Lead Over Joe Walsh

Illinois: Poll Gives Tammy Duckworth a 10 Point Lead Over Joe Walsh

Democratic House candidate Tammy Duckworth led Republican Rep. Joe Walsh in a new poll. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill. — Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth (D) had a 10-point advantage over freshman Rep. Joe Walsh (R) in the most recent poll of the suburban Chicago 8th district.

Duckworth led Walsh, 50 percent to 40 percent, in the Chicago Tribune poll of 600 likely voters. Notably, Duckworth led Walsh among female voters, 54 percent to 34 percent.

The new numbers come one day after Duckworth hosted Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) to discuss Walsh’s comments on abortion. Speier opened up about her own medically necessary abortion on the House floor last February.

“His most recent commentary about women accessing abortion in late-term pregnancies for medical reasons being unnecessary” Speier said on her day trip to the Chicago area. “I’m living proof it is necessary. He continues to spew out horrific misinformation.”

Full story

October 25, 2012

Nevada: DCCC Launches First IE in New District

Nevada: DCCC Launches First IE in New District

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting Republican Danny Tarkanian in a new ad in Nevada's 4th district. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched its first independent expenditure advertisement in Nevada’s new 4th district, where a surprisingly competitive race has developed in what had been considered a Democratic-favored seat.

The ad targets Republican nominee Danny Tarkanian’s support for Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget plan and says he supports privatizing Social Security and eliminating the Department of Education. Tarkanian is battling Nevada Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford (D) for the seat. Full story

Indiana: DSCC Ad Hits Richard Mourdock on Controversial Comments

Updated 6:18 p.m. | The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee today released a hard-hitting response ad to Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock’s controversial comment that pregnancies resulting from rape are “something that God intended to happen.”

The committee is spending $1.1 million to air the ad through Election Day.

The spot reminds viewers of the comment and also shows statements indicating that Republicans Mitt Romney and gubernatorial candidate Rep. Mike Pence distanced themselves from the remark.

But the toughest part of the ad is that it splices together Mourdock’s comments on rape with an older clip in which Mourdock says, “To me, the highlight of politics, frankly, is to inflict my opinion on someone else.”

Roll Call rates this race as a Tossup.

Updated 6:18 p.m.

Mourdock’s campaign charged that Donnelly broke a rule that forbids the use of debate footage in television commercials. The footage is copywrited by the state’s debate commission, according to a Mourdock aide.

“Hoosiers are calling Joe Donnelly’s attacks sleazy, and it’s no wonder why,” Mourdock spokesman Brose McVey said. “Now Donnelly and his liberal Washington allies are attacking Richard Mourdock’s faith and beliefs.”

Shira Toeplitz contributed to this report. 

Wisconsin: Will Dueling 9/11 Ads Affect Senate Race?

Wisconsin: Will Dueling 9/11 Ads Affect Senate Race?

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson released an ad this week knocking his Democratic opponent over the 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Bill Clark CQ/Roll Call File Photo)

In a Senate race that has been defined by negative ads, where both candidates are more disliked by voters than they are liked, Wisconsin might be on the verge of discovering whether there is such a thing as too negative.

And in 2012, a cycle in which nastiness and pettiness has reigned supreme nationwide, that’s saying something.

The mudslinging in the Badger State reached a new level this week with the roll-out of dueling 9/11 ads, featuring former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) accusing Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) of being unpatriotic and Baldwin, in turn, accusing Thompson of profiting off of 9/11 victims. And while it remains to be seen whether Wisconsin voters will find the ads distasteful, it is clear they find their options on the ballot so. In the most recent Marquette University Law School poll, 50 percent of voters held an unfavorable view of Thompson and 47 percent of voters had an unfavorable view of Baldwin.

Thompson has told voters that Baldwin is “too extreme” for Wisconsin and Baldwin has said that “Tommy isn’t for us anymore.” The 9/11 ads, replete with images of charred buildings, American flags and ominous voice overs, are just an extension of what’s already out there, albeit one that some sources speculate could backfire on Thompson, who started the fight.

Full story

Montana: Looking For an Edge in the Senate Race

Montana: Looking For an Edge in the Senate Race

Sen. Jon Tester (above) is in a tossup race with Rep. Denny Rehberg. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Montana Senate race is expected to be among the closest in the country, and both parties are looking for any edge possible.

Democrats hope to gain some traction with the release of an investigative report into the 2009 boat crash that injured Rep. Denny Rehberg (R), who is now challenging Sen. Jon Tester (D).

A district judge on Wednesday issued an order for the records to be released as early as today, as soon as the court’s clerk redacts the personal information of others involved in the crash. Former state Sen. Greg Barkus was convicted of criminal endangerment for driving the boat after a night of drinking, which ended with a crash on the shores of Flathead Lake that left all five on board injured. Full story

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