TPM News

The Illinois Senate race has been close for months. Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Rep. Mark Kirk have attacked each other viciously over their respective scandals, attempting to gain advantage in a tight contest. So who is ahead? Well, it depends which polls you look at. Because while Giannoulias and Kirk are the headliners, two other candidates, the Green Party's LeAlan Jones and Libertarian Mike Labno, are each pulling in enough support to sway the results of this close race.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Stranger Than Fiction? TPM Casts The 2010 Midterms Movie]

One note: support for third-party candidates often comes up much lower on Election Day itself than compared to the pre-election polls. In many cases, voters who were thinking of casting a protest vote ultimately pick one of the two major-party candidates. However, this effect is very hard to predict.

That said, let's break down the numbers:

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A Republican candidate for the U.S. House from Arizona this week claimed that his opponents are busing Mexicans over the border to vote illegally in Arizona.

Jesse Kelly, who is challenging Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) in the eighth district, said on the Mark Levin radio show Wednesday in a response to a question about "dirty tricks" that there are "rumors" of Mexicans being brought into vote.

"There are rumors. People have video of them busing people across from the southern border. We're a border district," Kelly said. "They literally bus people across from Mexico to have them vote at the polls on Election Day, give them a meal and then bus them back. It's been done in the past. So we're really fighting against it down there. But it just means more of us have to vote."

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The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights was unable to reach a quorum today to vote approve a report critical of the Justice Department's handling of the civil voter intimidation case once brought against members of the New Black Panther Party. Democratic Commissioner Michael Yaki, who would have allowed the panel to reached a quorum, walked out of the meeting.

"This process for this entire investigation has been a farce from the beginning and done in a way to diminish the opportunity of those who oppose this investigation to participate," Yaki told reporters.

What one conservative member of the commission did discuss, however, was how TPMMuckraker was able to obtain a draft copy of the report.

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In advance of his March To Keep Fear Alive rally this weekend, Stephen Colbert provided a "refresher course on the five basic fear groups" on his show last night. In a segment called "Stephen Colbert's Fear-For All," Colbert talked to representatives of the five things he fears most: A gay man, a Mexican, a Muslim, a bear project leader at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, or "grizzly coddler," and a researcher on artificial intelligence who "could be a robot."

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At the final Louisiana Senate debate last night, incumbent David Vitter (R) dodged repeated questions about whether he broke the law by soliciting prostitutes in Washington, D.C. and Louisiana.

"[Y]ou can look back, you can continue to write stories in the media about it," Vitter told moderators. "That's your decision. It's a free country. I looked the voters of Louisiana in the eye. I spoke to them sincerely. I think they heard me and I think they understood me. And now I'm looking forward, I'm not looking back."

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On the Daily Show last night, Aasif Mandvi and Larry Wilmore showed up to help Jon Stewart debate negative campaign ads. Larry Wilmore was Team Negative, and, as he described it, "Aasif was supposed to be 'Team Positive,' but clearly my opponent couldn't even handle the simple assignment of picking out the right shirt. Aasif Mandvi: Can we trust him?"

Aasif countered: "Larry Wilmore fucks chickens. Larry Wilmore is a chicken fucker, and from what I understand, the sex is not always consensual."

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Two new polls of the Wisconsin Senate race confirm that Republican businessman Ron Johnson leads three-term Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold. And though the Democrat has gained some ground, Feingold is still stuck in the mid-40s.

The new survey from Public Policy Polling (D): Johnson 53%, Feingold 44%. The survey of likely voters has a ±2.6% margin of error. In the previous poll from mid-September, Johnson led by 52%-41%.

And the We The People survey, a consortium of media interests in Wisconsin: Johnson 48%, Feingold 44%. The survey of likely voters has a ±5% margin of error. In the previous survey from early October, Johnson led by 49%-41%.

The TPM Poll Average gives Johnson a lead of 51.8%-44.6%.

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When President Obama appeared on The Daily Show Wednesday night, he made a claim that may have caused some viewers to take pause. "Most of the jobs that we lost were lost before the economic policies we put in place had any effect," Obama told Jon Stewart.

But Polifact, the St. Petersburg Times's Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking operation, has taken a closer look at the President's statement--and found that it holds up.

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The new Monmouth University poll of the Delaware Senate race has Democrat Chris Coons's lead over Republican activist Christine O'Donnell shrinking, but Coons is still ahead by ten points.

The numbers: Coons 51%, O'Donnell 41%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4% margin of error. In the previous Monmouth poll from just over two weeks ago, Coons led by a wider margin of 57%-38%.

[TPM SLIDESHOW - Christine O'Donnell: Anti-Masturbation Crusader. Witchcraft Dabbler. Republican Senate Nominee]

From the pollster's analysis: "While Coons still has the advantage, it has to be uncomfortable knowing that O'Donnell was able to shave 9 points off his lead in just two weeks. The interesting thing is that while her vote total has risen, the majority of Delaware voters still say she is unqualified for the post."

The TPM Poll Average gives Coons a lead of 55.2%-37.7%.

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Kendrick Meek did talk to Bill Clinton about dropping his Democratic bid to be the next Senator from Florida, a move that supporters of the plan say would have opened up an opportunity for independent Charlie Crist to catch Republican Marco Rubio's rising star before Election Day. But Meek insists he did not agree to drop out of the race, ever, as Clintonistas told Ben Smith at Politico and many, many other reporters yesterday.

That is the takeaway from Meek's round of TV appearances this morning, and it is the story as Meek is telling it. Team Clinton did not respond to my requests for comment on Meek's take last night.

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