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A memo leaked today to ABC News, which was circulated to the Martha Coakley campaign and national Democrats in December, outlines some of the problems that Coakley -- then with a 51%-32% lead over Scott Brown -- might face come Election Day. Namely, conservative independents who don't like President Obama.

The memo says Coakley has a "strength of support," but warns that independent voters "look pretty conservative, and the national political context is not helping us much."

It was written by Daniel R. Gotoff of Lake Research Partners after conducting an internal poll and reportedly circulated all the way to the White House.

"Obama, whose job performance is already just barely net positive, is rated solidly negatively by a majority of independents," Gotoff wrote.

"Over the next weeks, our task is to consolidate Democrats and break even among independents. We do pretty well at that right now, but there are about a quarter of Democrats who aren't yet voting for us. And while we have a marginal lead among independents, they will be a battleground throughout this race," the memo reads.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are meeting at the White House this evening with Vice President Joe Biden.

An administration official told TPM the meeting was about President Obama's 2010 fiscal responsibility push.

"As part of the fiscal year 2011 budget process, the administration has been discussing, with members of Congress and others, a range of ideas about how to put the nation back on a sustainableiscal path. That is the subject of the meeting the vice president is holding this afternoon with lawmakers and administration officials," the official said.

The Martha Coakley campaign just sent out a media advisory, announcing a press conference at 5:30 p.m. ET, alleging irregularities in the special Senate election.

The press conference will involve reports of voters who received ballots that were already marked for Republican candidate Scott Brown.

It should be noted that the Coakley campaign will have on hand as an attorney one Marc Elias, who was previously the head recount lawyer for Al Franken in Minnesota, a legal drama that lasted for eight months after election day 2008. Elias also worked on another high-profile recount before that, the Washington state gubernatorial race in 2004. So clearly, the Coakley campaign was fully prepared for a super-close election by having Elias already on hand in Boston.

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The profile of al-Qaeda operations in Yemen has risen substantially since the failed terror plot on Christmas day. Today, the U.S. State Department showed how seriously they are taking this threat. In an important procedural step, Secretary of State Clinton officially classified the Yemeni based organization, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), as a "Foreign Terrorist Organization."

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In seeming violation of the "fair and balanced" edict they usually adhere to, Fox and Friends had a rather dubious segment this morning advancing the notion that a victory for Republican Scott Brown in today's special election in Massachusetts could provide a boost to your 401(k).

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Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) today said health care reform will pass no matter the outcome of today's special election in Massachusetts.

He told Minnesota Public Radio that reform will pass "one way or the other." (Franken also posted a link to the story on his Senate site.)

If the Republican candidate for Senate wins today, Democrats will lose their 60-seat super-majority. Some say that loss will kill health care reform for good.

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In preparation for what they expect to be Republican Scott Brown's victory in the Massachusetts Senate special election tonight, conservatives and Republicans have unearthed a novel and ironic precedent, which they're using to argue that, if he wins, Brown should be seated right away as the 41st vote against health care reform.

Senate rules require that all newly-elected Senators be certified as winners by their home states before they can be sworn in. But on November 6, 1962, none other than Ted Kennedy himself won a special election to fill his own brother's Senate seat in Massachusetts, and was sworn in the very next day--two full weeks before his victory was certified, and three weeks before that certification arrived in Washington.

1962 is a long way back, and according to Senate historian Don Ritchie, the relevant rule has been in place since well before then.

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Google's public ultimatum that it will halt operations in China unless it is allowed to stop censoring Google.cn got us wondering: what does a large multinational like Google have in the way of bargaining chips in its showdown with the Asian superpower?

According to a pair of experts we spoke to, the answer is: very few, if any. Let us explain:

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