TPM News

They say all politics is local, and it seems that in the race for the Republican nomination for New York governor, candidates Carl Paladino and Rick Lazio are taking that quite literally. As the September 14 primary approaches, Paladino and Lazio are devoting a whole lot of their attention to opposing the Cordoba House Muslim community center, which was cleared for construction a few blocks from Ground Zero last week.

So if this is a central issue of the Republican primary, the question then becomes: Who hates the "Ground Zero mosque" more? Let's look at the evidence...

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A new Rasmussen poll of the New Hampshire Senate race finds Republican Kelly Ayotte -- the front runner in the Republican primary -- with a 13-point lead over Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes, 51%-38%. The latest numbers show Hodes down six points to GOP hopeful Bill Binnie, 46%-40%.

Ayotte has held an advantage in the polls through the duration of the campaign. The last Rasmussen poll, conducted on July 12, showed her leading Hodes 49%-37%. In late July, a University of New Hampshire survey found similar results, with Ayotte on top 45%-37%. A PPP poll from July 25 showed a much closer contest, with the GOPer holding a slight 3-point lead -- a statistical tie, given the survey's ±3.26 margin of error -- but no other poll in the last few months has produced a similar result.

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In yet another sign of how Gov. Charlie Crist (I-FL) is mopping up Democratic support in the Florida Senate race, the ex-Republican is now getting some fundraising help from none other than Mark Penn.

The former top pollster and campaign strategist for Hillary Clinton will be hosting a $4,800-per-person fundraising reception for Crist this Wednesday, the St. Petersburg Times reports. This development shows the further marginalization of Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek and Dem businessman Jeff Greene. In the TPM Poll Averages, Crist leads Rubio and Meek by 37.8%-33.2%-14.7%, and Crist leads Rubio and Greene by 37.5%-32.9%-16.4%.

Memo to Crist: By all means, take Penn's money. But whatever you do besides that, do not let him give you any advice about micro-targeting Dem voters.

It looks like Connecticut's Democratic gubernatorial primary will go right down to the wire. A new Quinnipiac survey of the race shows Ned Lamont edging Dan Malloy 45%-42% -- a statistical tie, given the poll's ±4.6-point margin of error. The primary is tomorrow.

While Lamont's support has hovered around 45% in the past month, Malloy's has jumped five points since July 13, when a Quinnipiac poll pegged his support at 37%. The TPM Poll Average shows Lamont leading 43.2%-33.0%.

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Minnesota state Rep. Tom Emmer, the presumptive Republican nominee for governor, is now reorganizing his campaign in the wake of some recent setbacks and bad poll numbers.

Emmer has named as his new campaign manger Cullen Sheehan, who previously served as campaign manager for then-Sen. Norm Coleman's re-election campaign and recount fight in 2008. Emmer has also brought on a new team of senior advisers, chaired by former state GOP chair Chris Georgacas.

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The recent firestorm over the Target Corporation's support for Tom Emmer in the Minnesota gubernatorial race illustrates a major pitfall for companies in the post-Citizens United world: They are now free to spend money on political races -- but are at risk of being identified with a candidate's whole agenda, and not just the key issues they might like.

The lesson here is obvious: If you want to keep your brand clean of politics, keep your wallet out of the whole enterprise, too.

As we'd previously reported, Target gave $150,000 to MN Forward, a pro-business group backed by the state Chamber of Commerce, which is running TV ads supporting Emmer. However, this triggered a backlash from gay rights activists and some consumers in this liberal state, due to Emmer's support for a proposed state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and his close associations with the religious right.

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Transocean, the largest offshore drilling contractor in the Gulf of Mexico, told shareholders last week that it's keeping all of its employees on the payroll pending the lifting of a deepwater drilling moratorium.

Those who oppose the moratorium -- Gulf Coast politicians, for example -- have cited the loss of jobs in arguing against the six-month ban.

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A new Quinnipiac poll shows Linda McMahon -- the former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO -- maintaining her considerable lead over former Rep. Rob Simmons and financial commentator Peter Schiff going into tomorrow's Connecticut Republican Senate primary. The poll gives McMahon 50%, Simmons 28%, and Schiff 15%.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Bringing The Smackdown: Linda McMahon's Campaign For Senate, And Her Colorful Pro-Wrestling Past]

McMahon's 22-point lead in the latest poll is bigger than her 17-point lead in last week's Quinnipiac survey, although the difference is just outside the poll's ±3.8-point margin of error. Quinnipiac, in fact, is the only public pollster to have looked at this race so far, and their numbers have been more or less consistent since June. McMahon has been polling between 45% and 52%, Simmons between 25% and 30%, and Schiff between 13% and 15%.

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