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The new Rasmussen poll of the Minnesota gubernatorial race shows Republican nominee Tom Emmer taking a narrow lead against Democrat Mark Dayton.

The numbers: Emmer 42%, Dayton 41%, and the Independence Party's Tom Horner at 9%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4% margin of error. In the previous Rasmussen poll from mid-August, which was conducted right after Dayton's narrow win in the Democratic primary, Dayton led Emmer by 45%-36%, with 10% for Horner.

The TPM Poll Average gives Dayton a very narrow lead with 39.5%, Emmer with 38.0%, and Horner at 12.6%.

The pollster's analysis suggests that there is still quite a lot of fluidity to the race: "Fifty-four percent (54%) of Emmer supporters say they are already certain how they will vote in November. Fifty-nine percent (59%) of those who support Dayton are already certain of their vote, as are 53% of Horner voters."

A Field Poll released this morning finds Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer leading Republican former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina 47%-41% in the California Senate race.

In the last Field Poll, from early July, Boxer led Fiorina by three points, 47%-44%. The latest survey is one of a number of polls released this week that have the Democratic nominee out in front-- among them are a SurveyUSA poll out yesterday that produced a six-point lead for Boxer, 49-43%, and a September 20 Rasmussen poll that showed a four-point advantage for the Democrat.

While polls have treated Boxer well over recent weeks, it is worth noting that the new Field Poll saw the incumbent Democratic Senator's job disapproval rating at a historical high-- 47% of California likely voters suggested that they do not approve of her job performance as a US Senator, the highest mark Field has registered through nearly two decades of polling on the Democrat.

The TPM Poll Average shows Boxer leading the contest 47.1%-44.4%. The margin of error of the newest survey is ±4.1 percentage points.

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

Senate Democrats officially scrapped any and all plans for a pre-election vote on middle-income tax cuts yesterday evening. And for the entirety of the tax cut debate, House Dems have said they will take action only after the Senate takes care of business. So that's it, right? No vote, no way.

There's still one way it could happen, and House aides stress that -- as unlikely as a vote may seem right now -- no official final decision has been made. That decision will likely come early next week.

If it does happen, it would proceed mostly as outlined here. Pelosi would put a middle-income-only tax cut bill on the floor under "suspension," which would require a two-thirds majority for passage, but would limit GOP procedural hijinx. If Republicans object, they will be forced to vote down middle-income tax cuts and face the wrath of voters.

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So this is what a three-way Senate race looks like. Charlie Crist, the independent candidate in the Florida race that pits him against Democratic nominee Kendrick Meek and Republican nominee Marco Rubio is up with a negative spot that tries to tear down both of his rivals at the same time.

"Marco Rubio and Kendrick Meek," the ad's dark voiceover intones. "What we don't need in Washington."

In substance, the ad goes after both men on familiar themes. Rubio is the man who's under investigation for "using a Republican party credit card to pay for personal meals, trips and a family reunion." Meek is the guy who "steered government contracts to an indicted developer who then hired Meek's mother."

Both topics have been heavily discussed in the past. Rubio has denied any wrongdoing regarding the credit card accusations, and Meek just shook off the accusations about the developer that were at the center of Jeff Greene's primary campaign against him.

Of Crist's new ad, Meek says the negative attacks will hurt Crist in his quest to win Democratic votes in November. Recent polls have suggested that strategy is falling flat. "The governor is using the most cynical and desperate Republican attacks to stop the bleeding," Meek's campaign said in a press release today.

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It's been 689 days since two men affiliated with a fringe group called the New Black Panther Party, one of them carrying a nightstick, stood outside of the a polling place dressed in military garb in an overwhelmingly African-American community in Philadelphia.

The conservative majority of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights had been prepared today to approve a report that observers expected would blast the Obama administration for the decision to drop the civil case against all but one of defendants, which was brought in the waning days of the Bush administration.

But mid-afternoon Wednesday, the former chief of the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division who signed off on the case, Chris Coates, sent this letter to the commission chairman stating that -- in defiance of the Justice Department's order -- he would like to appear before the panel.

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The new Mason-Dixon poll of the Nevada Senate race shows a dead-even tie between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his Republican opponent Sharron Angle.

The numbers: Reid 43%, Angle 43%, plus two additional conservative candidates -- Tea Party candidate Scott Ashjian, and Independent American Party candidate Tim Fasano -- at 1% each. The survey of likely voters has a ±4% margin of error. The previous Mason-Dixon poll from two weeks ago, which did not include Ashjian and Fasano, gave Reid an edge of 46%-44%.

The TPM Poll Average currently puts Reid ahead by 47.2%-44.9%.

From the internals, independents are going to Angle by a 20-point margin. "The independents have shifted to her by the biggest margin since the primary," Brad Coker of Mason-Dixon told the Las Vegas Review Journal, which commissioned the poll. "If she goes on to win this, maybe this is the first sign that at the end of the day Angle might nose it out."

Jon Stewart took a look at the House Republicans' "Pledge To America" last night, which the GOP said would be full of bold new governing ideas. "Who are these fresh-faced young guns and their bold new ideas?" Stewart asked after hearing some of the agenda. "Wait a minute, that's the same shit we heard before."

He continued:

Just to get this straight: Two years ago America broke up with you because you had badly mistreated her. And so you disappear, do some soul searching, get your head together. And you come back rapping on our door, hat in hand, and you say: 'Baby, I know you left me, but if we get back together, I pledge to you, I promise you, I will still try to fuck your sister. Every chance I get. It's who I am.'

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You've heard of the RINOs, right? The so-called Republicans In Name Only who some on the right want to replace with real conservatives? Perhaps you've heard of their oh-so-cleverly coined counterpart slur on the left, DINO. Turns out neither is as important to 2010 as some might believe. The real action, according to a new poll, is on the IINOS -- extraordinarily motivated independent voters who are, more often than not, driven to vote for the GOP.

The survey of 1,069 independent voters conducted by Pew last month found that "political independents now favor Republican candidates by about as large a margin as they backed Barack Obama in 2008 and congressional Democratic candidates four years ago." Independents will swing -- after all, they put Obama in the White House and Peolsi in the speaker's chair -- but this year's independent voter is swinging Republican.

Normally, independent voters don't get too excited about midterm elections. The off-year vote is usually left largely to partisans who battle for the winning margin in a relatively low turnout cycle. That appears not to be the case this year.

Pew finds that in 2010, "independent voters, who typically are not highly engaged by midterm elections, are now more likely than Democrats to say they are giving a lot of thought to this one." And "the relatively high level of independent engagement this year has come among those who plan to vote Republican."

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Dems: We'll Run On Our Record The Hill reports: "Congressional Democrats on Thursday declared they would run on their legislative record this fall, rejecting former President Clinton's advice to counter a new Republican policy agenda with one of their own...House and Senate Democratic leaders on Thursday ridiculed the Republicans' 'Pledge to America,' a manifesto designed as a sequel to the 'Contract With America' that helped the GOP win control of Congress in 1994. Democrats dubbed the document a 'pledge to special interests' and said they have no plans to release their own governing white paper."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will spend the day in New York City. He will meet at 11:15 a.m. ET with President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, and will meet at 12:15 p.m. ET with President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón of Colombia. He will attend a 1 p.m. ET working luncheon with ASEAN leaders. He will attend a 3:15 p.m. ET Ministerial Meeting on Sudan. He will meet at 5 p.m. ET with President Roza Otunbayeva of Kyrgyzstan. He will depart from New York at 6:55 p.m. ET, arrive at 7:45 p.m. ET at Andrews Air Force Base, and arrive back at the White House at 8 p.m. ET.

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Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) is continuing his plan to seemingly repeat Sen. Kay Hagan's (D-NC) successful ad blitz that won her the 2008 election over Elizabeth Dole. Using the same two actors Hagan did in her old-men-rocking-on-a-porch spots, Burr is turning their elderly frustration against the Democratic nominee, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, this year.

The new ad focuses on the standard GOP bogeymen of the cycle -- rising deficits, spending and cap-and-trade.

"Six!" one old man yells from his rocking chair.

"Nope, a little before five," the other deapans from his rocking chair.

The two then begin to banter about the "six trillion dollars in new government spending" the pair say Marshall wants to bring to Washington.

The TPM Poll Average shows Burr leading Marshall 53.3-35.4.

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