Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 4, 2015

October 29, 2012

Minnesota: Chip Cravaack Leading in GOP Poll

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.

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Virginia: Tim Kaine Up 7 in New Poll

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 27, 2012

Rhode Island: GOP Poll Shows Brendan Doherty Leading David Cilcilline

A new GOP poll found Republican Brendan Doherty leading Rep. David Cicilline (D) by 6 points in the hard fought and bitterly nasty race for Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional district.

The respected Republican firm OnMessage conducted a survey of likely voters for Doherty, which found him leading Cicilline 45 percent to 39 percent in a horse race matchup. Six percent of those polled said they would vote for independent candidate David Vogel, while 11 percent remained undecided.

Forty-two percent had a favorable view of Doherty, a retired state police officer, while 33 percent had an unfavorable view. Thirty-nine percent had a favorable view of Cicilline, while 46 percent had an unfavorable view of him.

President Barack Obama received 55 percent to Mitt Romney’s 34 percent in a ballot test in the poll, underscoring the district’s Democratic leanings.

The race appears to have turned significantly more competitive in recent days. The independent expenditure arms of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee have both bought hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of ad time covering the final days of the campaign.

Cicilline campaign manager Eric Hyers said the poll was a distraction.

“Brendan Doherty has run one of nastiest and negative races in recent memory,” he wrote in an email. “He is trying to distract from the fact he is a Romney Republican who has the backing of national Republicans, and will, as President Bill Clinton said today in a robo-call, ‘be just another vote for those Republicans.’  That poll resembles nothing we have seen, and actually every public poll done so far has shown David ahead.”

Roll Call rates the race as Leans Democratic.

The GOP poll, conducted by live telephone interview on Oct. 24 and 25, surveyed 400 likely voters in the district. It had a margin of error of 4.9 points.

Here is the full GOP polling memo:

Competing Polls as Missouri Senate Race Enters Final Week

A poll commissioned by two leading Missouri newspapers indicates the state’s Senate race may be narrowing approaching the final week, but internal polling from Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill’s campaign tells a different story.

The independent poll, released late Friday night, showed McCaskill holding just a 2-point lead over her beleaguered GOP opponent, Rep. Todd Akin. The poll had a 4-point margin of error.

New internal numbers out this morning, however, showed McCaskill up by double digits, 53 percent to 39 percent. Most other polling has also shown McCaskill well ahead of Akin since he made remarks about pregnancies resulting from what he called “legitimate rape.”

“As we plan for the final week of the campaign, Sen. McCaskill is fully in command, and we see no indication that Akin has rebounded.  Quite the contrary; his ratings are now as low as we have ever measured them,” McCaskill’s pollsters from Kiley & Company said in a memo.

The polling firm Mason-Dixon conducted the outside survey of 625 likely voters for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Kansas City Star and St. Louis TV station KMOV. Asked about the new numbers, the McCaskill campaign was quick to remind KMOV that a Mason-Dixon poll released shortly before the Republican primary missed the mark entirely.

That poll showed Akin with 17 percent support, placing a distant third behind former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman and businessman John Brunner. Akin prevailed in the primary with about 36 percent of the vote. A Mason-Dixon poll conducted shortly after the rape comments showed McCaskill ahead by 9 points.

McCaskill’s campaign launched three new ads statewide earlier in the week, continuing an aggressive campaign in spite of the lead.

“I think from a national perspective, Todd is doing what people said couldn’t be done,” Akin senior adviser Rick Tyler told KMOV.

Akin’s campaign has tried to bring the narrative back to economic issues and McCaskill’s job performance and away from his controversial statements, but that’s proved difficult with limited campaign resources. It has also been pushing a variety of allegations against businesses in which McCaskill’s husband is involved.

Akin has caused other trouble for himself, though.

He was forced to amend 10 years of financial disclosures after inexplicably failing to report a pension income he earned as a state employee.  He previously filed an amendment to his disclosure forms because he had neglected to list at least $355,000 in property.

Roll Call rates the race as Leans Democratic.

October 26, 2012

Arizona: Gabrielle Giffords’ Husband Belittles Martha McSally’s Claim

Updated 10:31 a.m. | Col. Mark Kelly, the husband of retired Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D), wrote an email Friday evening that was critical of retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally, the Republican running for the House seat formerly held by his wife.

Kelly has backed McSally’s Democratic opponent, Rep. Ron Barber, since his first run for Congress in a June special election to replace Giffords.

According to an email sent to Barber’s list of supporters, a comment McSally made to the Washington Post sparked Kelly’s ire.

“We are rugged individuals,” she told the Post. “We elect unique people to represent us in this district — Mo Udall, Jim Kolbe, Gabby Giffords. I resemble Gabby Giffords more than the man who worked for her, although I am grateful for his service.”

In an email with the subject line “I cannot believe this,” Kelly proceeded to express outrage at McSally for comparing herself to Giffords.

“Martha McSally is no Gabby Giffords.  Time and time again, she has refused to give a straight answer when asked directly about the most important issues facing Southern Arizona,” he wrote.

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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.

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Marsha Blackburn Calls Obama Ad ‘Offensive, Repulsive’


(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) laced into President Barack Obama in an open letter today, blasting him and his campaign for producing an advertisement that uses a double entendre-laden theme to encourage first-time voting.

The ad was a testimonial from actress Lena Dunham of HBO’s “Girls” fame. In the spot, she quite obviously compares losing one’s virginity to voting for the first time.

“What could you possibly have been thinking?” Blackburn writes in her letter. “The ad you have launched featuring a young actress equating voting for you to a sexual act is offensive to me, to millions of women and to the stature of the office you hold. As a father of two beautiful girls, how could you possibly have allowed this to be aired?”

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Maine: NRSC Pulls Out, Outside Groups Stay In

With fewer than two weeks before Election Day, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has stopped running ads in Maine against front-running Independent Angus King, sources confirm.

Outside groups, including Crossroads GPS, are still engaged in the ad war in the Senate contest, however. Most operatives say the race is slipping out of reach for Republican Charlie Summers, but that’s not the only motivation for the NRSC, which also pays attention to where outside groups are committed to spending, allowing the party committee to allocate resources elsewhere.

Crossroads GPS went up with a $330,000 one-week buy against King beginning Tuesday in the only truly three-way race in the country.

Outside involvement on the part of the NRSC and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has been tricky throughout the race, given that King has not declared which party he will caucus with if elected. The NRSC decided to go up with negative ads, while the DSCC never officially endorsed Democratic candidate Cynthia Dill.

Though the NRSC pulling out of the state is not a death knell for Summer’s bid, it certainly is a sign that the group believes its money is better spent elsewhere, especially with so many close races across the country and control of the Senate up for grabs.

The news of the NRSC backing out of Maine media was first reported by Politico.


NRSC Investing in Pennsylvania Senate Race

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is investing $500,000 of coordinated funds to assist GOP nominee Tom Smith in his challenge to Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey (D).

The move indicates national Republicans view an opportunity to widen their path to the majority, even if the incumbent here remains favored.

CNN first reported the news.

The NRSC’s investment is about how much the Democratic-aligned Majority PAC expended this week for a television advertisement in the state, which had not broached the competitive landscape until recently. Thanks in part to the $10 million personal loan to his campaign, Smith outspent Casey, $6.8 million to $2.5 million, in the third quarter.

Casey and Smith debated for the first time today, as recent polls have shown the race pulling close. Pennsylvania is not among the states that allows for early voting, so there is truly another week and a half left.

Paul Ryan Rallies House Candidates

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.), the Republican vice presidential nominee, was scheduled this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. to hold a conference call with top GOP House candidates to give them an update on the state of the presidential race.

The call includes candidates in the National Republican Congressional Committee’s Young Guns and Vanguard programs, the committee’s recruitment and candidate support initiatives for top candidates.

The race between Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama remains very close less than two weeks before Election Day. Republicans are almost certain to retain control of the House, and Democrats have the edge in their effort to hold the Senate majority.

DSCC Outraises NRSC in Pre-General Fundraising Period

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee outraised its Republican counterpart by some $1.3 million in the first two and a half weeks of October.

According to pre-general reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, the DSCC raised $7.3 million Oct. 1-17. The National Republican Senatorial Committee raised $6 million during the same period, including about $800,000 from a joint fundraising committee with GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

The DSCC has not received any money from joint fundraising committees with Obama for America or the Democratic National Committee.

Both parties are pushing for a majority in the Senate, which Democrats currently control 53-47.

Daily Ad Track

Here’s what cut through the clutter today:

Illinois 8

One of the most common Republican ad trends this cycle is featuring elderly relatives — usually parents — defending the candidate’s Medicare credentials. Rep. Joe Walsh (R) is taking another tack: In his newest ad, his son Joey defends his honor in light of a new ad from veteran Tammy Duckworth’s (D) campaign about child support problems.

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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.

Barack Obama Continues to Win With Text Message Donors

President Barack Obama appears to have raised more than $1 million via text since August. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama appears to have raised upward of $1 million from text message donations this cycle.

Financial reports for the first 17 days of October show that his campaign paid $39,514 in fees to m-Qube Group’s payvia mobile payment service, which manages text-to-donate programs for both presidential campaigns. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney paid the firm nothing in the same time frame.

The fees — a percentage of the total amount raised via text — suggest that the president raised more than $1 million via text since he launched a text-to-donate program in August.

Campaigns & Elections magazine estimated in August that donation aggregators such as payvia would charge 5 percent to 15 percent of the total raised.  It costs “less than $1,000” to launch a text-to-donate program with m-Qube, the company said. Assuming the campaigns paid about $1,000 in startup costs and the fee is 10 percent, the Obama campaign raised about $1.2 million from text donors as of Oct. 17. By the same math, Romney raised about $1,520 from text-message donations.

A Pew Internet & American Life Project study released Thursday found that 10 percent of 2012 presidential campaign donors have contributed using text messages or a cellphone application. The study also found that Democrats were more likely to contribute online or from a mobile phone.

Both candidates launched text-to-donate programs in late August, heralding the newly approved technology as a way to empower small-dollar donors in the post-Citizens United era. Under Federal Election Commission rules approved this summer, text contributions from individuals are limited to $50 per month and $200 total per candidate, but operatives in both parties say the biggest benefit is looping in new partisans and collecting their cellphone numbers.

Even fellow Republicans fear that Romney has missed a crucial opportunity to engage thousands of new donors.

“I wouldn’t disregard a million dollars on any campaign no matter how large or small,” said Peter Pasi, a Republican consultant at the digital strategy firm emotive. “Think about if you’re an insurgent candidate and you have 1,000 people at your rally and you tell them to pull out your phone and give.”

Ohio: Jim Renacci Releases Poll Amid Questions on Ad Strategy

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.

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