In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Whole categories of political attacks proliferate every cycle that no one truly thinks matters, if they were honest with themselves. Not the political operatives who push them. Not the political reporters who cover them. Certainly not the candidates themselves. As for the voters, it's just white noise.

After a while, some of these attacks -- how many votes has so-and-so missed, for example -- start to seem like they're generated by some primitive computer programmed 40 years ago that no one bothered to unplug. Does anyone really care?

Every cycle has its own wrinkle on the theme: the political attack that everyone goes through the motions of treating half-seriously, even though no one anywhere gives half a damn.

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Everybody, even Republicans, seems to agree that Obamacare is not the electoral juggernaut it was supposed to be heading into the final weeks of the 2014 campaign. It still makes its obligatory appearances in stump speeches and debates, as well as some passing references in television ads, but the law has undoubtedly faded as other issues command the national debate.

But the last week suggests that Obamacare might still have a little life as a campaign issue in the Alaska Senate race -- meaning it could still play a role in swinging control of the Senate. The problem for incumbent Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) is that while Republican doomsaying about skyrocketing 2015 premiums has been hugely overstated for the most part, Alaska is actually facing much higher premiums that make for easy attack ads. And big-money outside groups are seizing on it as they back Republican challenger Dan Sullivan.

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Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is sustaining political punches — locally and nationally — for ducking repeated questions on Thursday about whether she voted for President Barack Obama in 2008 or 2012.

Quizzed by the Louisville Courier-Journal editorial board, the U.S. Senate candidate seeking to oust Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) responded by calling herself a "Clinton Democrat, through and through," and said, "I don't think the president is on the ballot, as much as Mitch McConnell might want him to be."

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Control of the U.S. Senate could be swung by a humble police officer in a Kentucky town of fewer than 10,000 who says he makes $35,000 a year, shares a car with his wife and is "just a guy."

Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate David Patterson clocks in at 3 percent in the latest Bluegrass Poll, which may be enough to tilt the potentially decisive — and hotly contested — Kentucky race between Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) and Alison Lundergan Grimes (D), who are 2 points apart.

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The Supreme Court put North Carolina's restrictive voting law back into effect on Wednesday.

The justices reversed a move last week by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to block provisions of the law — which scrapped same-day registration amid early voting periods and invalidated votes cast outside an assigned precinct — from taking effect. A divided appeals court panel had determined that the provisions would "adversely" affect African-American and minority voters.

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Republican senators are calling on House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to attach spending limits to an Obamacare program in a bill that must pass in the lame-duck session to keep the federal government open.

The strategy carries echoes of the 2013 government shutdown fight waged by the GOP over defunding Obamacare, although with smaller ambitions this time.

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