TPM News

Opposition to health care reform continues to fall, though opponents are increasingly of the view that the bill should be repealed, according to a new poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

A survey of 1504 adults, including 406 Medicare-eligible seniors finds that 50 percent hold favorable views of the new health care law, while only 35 hold unfavorable views. Back in June, the same poll found that 41 percent viewed the law unfavorably, and going back two more months, the unfavorable numbers were never below 40.

Those surveyed were asked:

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TPM reported this week on Tennessee Republican gubernatorial candidate and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, who described Islam as a "cult" that may not count when it comes to religious freedom.

On his show last night, Stephen Colbert took a look at the Tennessee Republican primary race, and was taken aback by Ramsey's comments: "Yes. He just called Islam, the world's second largest religion, 1.5 billion people, a cult."

"Him, not me," Colbert was careful to clarify. "I believe Islam is the one great and true cult, praise be to Allah and the Nikes he wears. All glory and honor to the comet that hides his spaceship."

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Last night, Jon Stewart had a tough time remembering John Kerry's name: "Remember the guy who the Democrats ran for president before the guy who won?" You know the guy, "if you squint he kind of looks like his own driftwood totem poll?"

Well, Stewart explained, Kerry is taking some heat for avoiding paying state sales taxes on his $7 million yacht by keeping it in another state. He's just trying to save a little money, Stewart said. It's the "same reason he buys his boat's christening champagne at the famed New Hampshire Don Perignon's factory outlet."

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Republican Roy Blunt still leads Democrat Robin Carnahan in the Missouri Senate race, according to the latest Rasmussen survey, which puts his lead at six points. Rep. Blunt -- the frontrunner in next Tuesday's GOP primary and the preferred Republican candidate of Michele Bachmann and Joe the Plumber -- leads Carnahan 49%-43% in the general election.

Those numbers are more favorable to Blunt than Rasmussen's last poll, which showed the Republican up only two points, but they're comparable to a Mason-Dixon poll from July 21, which showed Blunt ahead 48%-42%.

The TPM Poll Average for the race shows Blunt leading Carnahan 48.1%-43.2%. The margin of error for the latest Rasmussen survey is ±4.0 percentage points.

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A new poll from Zata3 shows a tight race in the Colorado Democratic Senate primary, with appointed incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet having only a narrow lead over former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff.

The numbers: Bennet 44%, Romanoff 40%. The survey of likely voters has a ±3.6% margin of error, and there is no prior Zata3 poll for direct comparison. The TPM Poll Average gives Bennet a lead of 45.7%-35.3%. The primary will be held on August 10.

There is a caveat here. As the Colorado Pols blog points out, Zata3 has not normally been a polling firm: "You hire Zata3 to do persuasion phone calls or text messaging -- not polling -- just like you wouldn't normally hire a polling firm to do your direct mail. This is no knock on Zata3, it's just that it seems odd that you wouldn't use a professional polling firm if you wanted real polling results."

That said, they sure do seem to be branching out, with surveys such as this one and a recent poll of the Arkansas Senate race.

In a wide-ranging profile due out in next month's issue of Details, Kentucky's Republican nominee for Senate, Rand Paul, stands up for all the good things the controversial practice of mountain top-removal mining can do for the environment. Despite warnings from conservationists that blowing the tops off of mountains to get the precious, precious coal underneath can have a seriously negative impact on the surrounding land, Paul says that when you really stop to think about it, losing those mountain tops is actually a net positive.

From the lengthy article, which was reported before Paul shunned the national press:

Paul believes mountaintop removal just needs a little rebranding. "I think they should name it something better," he says. "The top ends up flatter, but we're not talking about Mount Everest. We're talking about these little knobby hills that are everywhere out here. And I've seen the reclaimed lands. One of them is 800 acres, with a sports complex on it, elk roaming, covered in grass." Most people, he continues, "would say the land is of enhanced value, because now you can build on it."

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Life insurers -- including Prudential, which provides life insurance for the Department of Veterans Affairs -- keep payouts to families in their own corporate accounts, earning more interest on the money than they give to the beneficiaries.

Bloomberg reports that many life insurance companies send beneficiaries a "checkbook" when they opt to get their money in a lump sum. The companies assure families that the money is safe with them until they need it.

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Quinnipiac's out with new numbers from the Florida Democratic Senate primary, and they show businessman Jeff Greene taking the lead. Although "undecided" beat out all three candidates vying for the nomination -- something that isn't new for this race -- Greene leads the pack with 33%. Rep. Kendrick Meek is at 23%, and former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre trails with 4%.

These Quinnipiac numbers are the first to show a clear leader in the race. A PPP poll from July 18 put Meek just ahead of Greene 28%-25%, and a Quinnipiac survey from June similarly showed Meek edging Green 29%-27%.

Both Greene and Meek are polling well behind the race's other two big-name candidates: Gov. Charlie Crist (I) and tea party favorite Marco Rubio (R).

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House Republicans are attempting to nationalize the fall elections in hopes of winning back control of the chamber, with a new effort to raise money called Boehner for Speaker. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) has a lot at stake in November, and he's going all-in.

Donors giving big bucks or helping to raise at least $100,000 for the National Republican Congressional Committee will get "meetings with Boehner, calls from senior aides with updates on the campaign and 'VIP access to all events, including roundtables, briefings, breakout discussions and interactive panel discussions," according to Politico, which obtained some materials Boehner's office was shopping around for the new campaign.

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