TPM News

Two new polls of the Florida Senate race out today show Republican nominee Marco Rubio with a significant lead over independent Gov. Charlie Crist and Democratic Congressman Kendrick Meek.

On the heels of a Fox News poll that showed Rubio with a huge lead, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll and Rasmussen poll also show Rubio way out in front. The Reuters/Ipsos poll has Rubio at 40%, Crist at 26%, and Meek at 21%. The previous Ipsos poll, from August 10, showed Crist leading Rubio and Meek 33%-29%-17%. Tellingly, when the new Ipsos survey asked for respondents' preferential candidate if Meek was not in the race, the Republican only earned a slight 46%-45% advantage over Crist.

Today's Rasmussen poll has Rubio leading 41%-30%-23%. Not much change from an August 25 Rasmussen poll that found Rubio leading the contest 40% to Crist's 30% and Meek's 21%.

The latest Reuters/Ipsos survey is among likely voters and has a margin of error of ±4.6 percentage points. Rasmussen's numbers have a margin of error of ±4.0. The TPM Poll Average of the contest shows Rubio leading 39.1% to Crist's 30.6% and Meek's 21.2%.

For more on the race, check out TPMDC's full coverage here.

Add Rush Limbaugh to the list of prominent conservatives tearing into Karl Rove's hide today. As Rove continued his tour slamming freshly minted Delaware Republican Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell over the considerable number of skeletons in her closet, Rush was almost literally beside himself with frustration at the idea that anyone -- much less The Architect -- would dare violate the 11th Commandment so brazenly.

O'Donnell's nomination has created deep divisions between the Republican Party and right-wing activists. Last night, Rove bashed O'Donnell -- and her chances of being elected -- and insisted that she's said a lot of "nutty things." He was attacked by some right-wingers for those comments. O'Donnell whacked him back in a televised interview this morning. And then Rove responded to O'Donnell and his right-wing critics, daring them to 'prove me wrong'. Then Palin slammed Rove. Now it's Limbaugh's turn.

"If 51 seats was really the objective -- if getting the majority is really that important, then let's go balls to the wall for Christine O'Donnell!" Limbaugh screamed on his radio show today after playing a clip of Rove's already infamous anti-O'Donnell interview on Hannity last night.

"Why not fight for it?" Limbaugh asked. "Why not fight for it? Castle's OK as the 51st vote but this woman isn't?"

Rush seemed in danger of having an aneurysm at the idea that Rove would do something as heretical as point out that O'Donnell has more than a few very serious character flaws and -- as the polls show -- is a serious underdog against her Democratic opponent in November, in a race that Republicans had once thought was theirs for the taking.

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Carl Paladino, the tea party-backed underdog victor in last night's Republican gubernatorial primary in New York, appeared on CNN this afternoon, and spent most of the time explaining his opposition to the proposed Cordoba House Muslim community center near Ground Zero. Host Rick Sanchez grilled Paladino on the legal grounds for his pledge to, if elected, use eminent domain to stop the project. And Paladino ended up defining the area in which he would prohibit projects like Cordoba House. Anywhere where the pulverized remains of 9/11 victims settled, he said, should be off limits to projects like Cordoba House.

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For the first time since Democratic-leaning independent candidate Bud Chiles dropped out of Florida's gubernatorial race, Republican and former hospital executive Rick Scott finds himself atop a general election poll. A Reuters/Ipsos poll out today finds Scott leading state Chief Financial Officer and Democratic nominee Alex Sink, 47%-45%.

There is no previous Reuters/Ipsos poll of the two-way race for direct comparison.

While the results fall within the poll's ±4.6% margin of error, the findings nonetheless mark a shift in polling results. Last week, Republican-leaning polling firm Susquehanna released a poll that suggested Scott was gaining ground on the Democratic nominee. That poll had Scott behind 44%-42%. A CNN/Time poll released earlier in the week had produced a more comfortable seven-point lead for Sink. Polling conducted prior to Chiles' dropout showed the Democratic nominee maintaining a healthy lead in the gubernatorial fight.

The TPM Poll Average for the contest still has Sink on top of Scott, 46.5%-43.0%. For more on the race, check out TPMDC's full coverage here.

Some new poll numbers for the New Hampshire Senate race from Public Policy Polling (D), conducted over the weekend before yesterday's primary, show Republican former state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte starting the general election with a small lead over Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes.

The numbers: Ayotte 47%, Hodes 43%. The survey of likely voters has a ±2.2% margin of error. In the previous PPP survey from mid-July -- which used a more permissive and Dem-friendly registered voter screen -- Ayotte led Hodes by a similar 45%-42% margin. The TPM Poll Average gives Ayotte a lead of 48.0%-40.0%.

Interestingly, the poll also shows that Ayotte's opponent that she very narrowly defeated in the Republican primary, Ovide Lamontagne, would not have had any significant difference in electability against Hodes. In this survey, Lamontagne leads Hodes by 47%-44%.

The Senate Republicans are down one vote if they want to block a Democratic attempt to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for just those making $250,000 or less. Retiring Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) told The Hill he's not interested in extending them for either the middle class or for both the middle class and the rich, the policy his fellow GOPers say they prefer.

"My gut is probably no," Voinovich told The Hill. "I think I would probably not vote, period, for it."

Voinovich stressed he isn't 100 percent sure, but said his take is that broad tax reform is more important and that extending the tax cuts as President Obama wants would only "kick the can down the road."

Christine O'Donnell, Republican nominee for senate in Delaware and anti-masturbation crusader, thought Barack Obama was anti-American before it was cool to think Barack Obama is anti-American.

Long before the Democratic presidential primary in 2008, O'Donnell said on Fox News that Republicans would rather run against Obama in the general election because "he's soooo liberal. He's anti-American."

h/t MediaMatters.

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The White House has added an event to today's schedule for President Obama. An administration source tells TPM that Obama should be expected to mention the tax cuts debate raging on Capitol Hill.

His 4:30 p.m. Rose Garden speech is expected to happen after his afternoon Cabinet meeting.

As we reported this week, the administration doesn't want to miss an opportunity to hammer Obama's point home about the tax cuts, and his plan to keep them for the middle class.

A White House aide also sent reporters a Business Week story showcasing Republican divisions on this topic. More on that here.

It turns out that surprise Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell (R-DE), in addition to her long career in anti-sex and anti-masturbation activism, has also pursued another field of religious right work: Promoting creationism, and questioning the validity of science that says fossils are millions of years old.

As Dan Amira at New York magazine dug up, O'Donnell appeared in March 1996 on a CNN panel discussion with Dr. Michael McKinney, a professor of evolutionary biology from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.

At one point, O'Donnell provided this definition: "Well, creationism, in essence, is believing that the world began as the Bible in Genesis says, that God created the Earth in six days, six 24-hour periods. And there is just as much, if not more, evidence supporting that."

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A potentially brutal poll for incumbents yesterday suggests most Americans aren't buying the hype that the economy is improving. The Gallup poll of national "economic confidence" shows a steep drop in the number of respondents who say they think things are going to get better anytime soon.

The poll found 63% of Americans say the economy is getting worse -- a jump of 10% over the number who said the same thing in September 2009. That figure, however, is not a huge increase over the number who were saying things are getting worse at the beginning of August, when 60% of Americans told Gallup things are heading in the wrong direction. But where Americans' feelings about the economy were on the upswing last year, now they're feeling worse and worse about things as the election draws nearer.

That's not the direction you want to see the line go if you're an incumbent politician (or, ahem, an incumbent party controlling three branches of government). Rather than convert real gains in job creation and unemployment reduction -- however slight -- into confidence in the economy, the Gallup poll numbers seem to show Democrats are running in an environment where confidence is eroding.

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