In it, but not of it. TPM DC

With a week to go before the election and polls showing the race slipping away from him, the Democratic nominee for Senate in South Dakota unleashed a tirade against national Democrats Monday, claiming that they had intentionally sabotaged his campaign in favor of the independent in the race, former Republican Sen. Larry Pressler.

"I can't attribute this to (DSCC executive director) Guy Cecil or (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid or any of those other folks, but I know the chatter out there was they didn't care if Weiland or Pressler won, and I think they felt like Pressler had a better path to victory," Rick Weiland told TPM in a phone interview following a press conference in South Dakota where he unloaded on the DSCC. "They had a disclaimer, bought and paid for by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Who do you think that's going to affect?"

Weiland's theory is that the DSCC is running negative TV ads against Republican nominee Mike Rounds in order to hurt Rounds and Weiland's images and therefore boost Pressler, who has said he is open to caucusing with either party.

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Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor narrowly leads Republican Tom Cotton in an internal poll of the Arkansas Senate race, a sign that the vulnerable incumbent has a fighting chance in the tough contest.

The survey by Opinion Research Associates, given to TPM first by an Arkansas Democratic official on Monday, shows the Democrat leading by 1 point, well within the margin of error of plus-or-minus 5 percentage points.

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If anything is clear from the reporting of the nurse who was quarantined in a New Jersey hospital over Ebola fears, it's that the actual quarantine itself was handled miserably.

Nurse Kaci Hickox, who returned to the U.S. via Newark airport Friday after treating Ebola patients for Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone, described her treatment as "a frenzy of disorganization." She was so flustered that a forehead reading showed her with a fever -- which was then used as reason to quarantine her. Later, they took her temperature again and no fever registered. She was kept in quarantine anyway.

Further reported details of Hickox's predicament made clear that, although New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo were anxious to show resolve and order the quarantine, their local health officials weren't ready to carry out the order in any way that resembled humane treatment.

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An Oct. 7 poll threw the South Dakota Senate race, at least momentarily, into the forefront of the national political conversation. Former GOP Sen. Larry Pressler, running as an independent, was polling at 32 percent, making it an almost even three-way race between Pressler, Republican Mike Rounds and Democrat Rick Weiland.

Democrats and allied outside groups started pouring money into what was supposed to be an easy GOP pick-up, and national Republicans got involved, too, a sign they were actually concerned. But now, some three weeks later, Pressler is fading and with him, hopes of Democrats stealing a seat they were never expected to compete for.

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Political scientists from two of the nation's most highly respected universities, usually impartial observers of political firestorms, now find themselves at the center of an electoral drama with tens of thousands of dollars and the election of two state supreme court justices at stake.

Their research experiment, which involved sending official-looking flyers to 100,000 Montana voters just weeks before Election Day, is now the subject of an official state inquiry that could lead to substantial fines against them or their schools. Their peers in the field have ripped their social science experiment as a "misjudgment" or -- stronger still -- "malpractice."

What went so wrong?

Last Thursday, the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices started receiving complaints from voters who had received an election mailer (see below) bearing the state seal and describing the ideological standing of non-partisan candidates for the Montana Supreme Court. The fine print said that it had been sent by researchers from Dartmouth College and Stanford University, part of their research into voter participation. But that wasn't satisfactory for the voters who received the flyers or the state officials to whom they complained.

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