TPM News

An elections board in Bucks County, Pa., will hear accusations from the local Republican Party tomorrow that the local Dems broke election law by sending out official-looking mailers asking voters to apply for absentee ballots.

According to the Republicans, the mailers purported to come from the fictional "Pennsylvania Voter Assistance Office" and warned voters that they could lose voting privileges if they didn't fill out the absentee ballot request forms. They came with an envelope addressed to a post office box associated with the Democratic Party. At the bottom, the letters note that they were paid for by the party.

More than 100 people called the elections board within two days, confused.

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Polling on the Florida gubernatorial race has been anything but consistent over the last few months. Democratic state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Republican former hospital executive Rick Scott have each found themselves atop a handful of surveys, while neither has been able to maintain an outright advantage for an extended period of time. Today, two new polls on the race have been released, echoing this trend-- a Quinnipiac Poll finds Sink leading Scott 45%-41%, while a Rasmussen survey has the Republican ahead 48%-45%.

When Quinnipiac looked at this on October 10, Scott was found on top of the contest 45%-44%. Rasmussen's last look on October 18 gave him a more significant six-point advantage, 50%-44%.

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If there's an obsession afflicting Democrats and Republicans and pundits, it's a focus on the number 38. If the Democrats lose more than 38 net House seats, they lose the House. If they contain their losses to 38 or less, they keep it.

For almost everybody who covers or participates in politics, this is the number that will determine whether or not Democrats "win" or "lose" on Tuesday.

But the prevailing dynamics don't care about that benchmark, and, indeed, suggest that Democrats can lose the House and still do "well" given the speed of the wind in their face.

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During an interview yesterday with Rachel Maddow, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) offered the liberal TV host an idea for how she could land an interview with his Republican opponent, the very inaccessible Sharron Angle: Dress up like Bill O'Reilly.

Maddow ended the interview on a joke question: "Do you have any suggestions for me on how I can get Sharron Angle to talk to me while I'm here in Vegas?"

"Maybe you should do what she does," said Reid. "Pretend you're somebody else."

Maddow and Reid then talked about the possibility of a disguise. "Maybe you could dress up as Bill O'Reilly," Reid said.

It's possible that Reid might have been referring to the Republican Angle campaign's recent use of decoys for Angle to dodge a crowd of reporters -- one of her more creative means to avoid answering questions from anyone other than conservative media venues that she can use to raise money.

The TPM Poll Average gives Angle a lead of 49.6%-46.6%.

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1||This fall, Republican Meg Whitman became the biggest self-financing candidate ever, dropping over $140 million of her own money into her campaign for governor in California. As Steve Lopez pointed out on the L.A. Times blog Tuesday, that's enough money to buy two medium Domino's pizzas, each with two toppings, for every household in California.

Whitman, who used to be CEO of eBay, is hardly alone in her spending spree. Other candidates from around the country have also spent millions of dollars from their personal fortunes on political campaigns. On top of that, spending by outside political groups has hit an all-time high this year in the wake of the Citizens United ruling.

So, what else could they have bought?

Produced By: Jon Terbush and Evan McMorris-Santoro || Newscom/Zumawire&&

2||Republican Carly Fiorina has spent upwards of $5.5 million of her own money on her Senate campaign in California. That's enough money for the ex-CEO of HP to provide every resident of Salinas, California--hometown of American literary icon John Steinbeck--with an HP 45 black ink cartridge to print their own great American novel. || Carly Fiorina For Senate&&

3||In Connecticut, former WWE CEO Linda McMahon (R) has dropped at least $41.5 million dollars of her fortune into the Senate race. For the same amount of money, McMahon could have bought two faux leather Rey Mysterio replica masks offered on the WWE online store for every man, woman and child in the state's seven largest cities. The black and purple mask is ideal for casual days, while the blue and white mask is more suited for formal events, such as the symphony or Senate inaugurations. || Linda McMahon For Senate&&

4||In Florida, Republican Rick Scott has bankrolled his gubernatorial campaign with about $70 million, enough to buy a personalized Mouseketeer hat for every Florida resident between the ages of 10 and 34, with enough left over for everyone over the age of 85, according to 2000 census data. || flickr.com/scottforflorida&&

5||The $4.3 million that Republican Ron Johnson has spent out of pocket so far in his bid to swipe Russ Feingold's Senate seat in Wisconsin is enough to buy two and a half pounds of Widemar's Cheese Cellars' American Cheese Society 2010 award-winning eight-year-old cheddar -- at $16.99 per pound -- for every single person in Green Bay. || flickr.com/ronjohnson2010&&

6||As for spending by outside groups, one of the biggest players has been the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The $75 million dropped so far by the Chamber on various races could have instead bought two cigars per day for every Fortune 500 CEO ... for eight years. And not just any cigars, but Cigar Aficionado's top ranked cigar of 2009, the $25 imported Nicaraguan, Padron Family Reserve No. 45 Maduro. || store.tobaccolocker.com&&

7||The Karl Rove-backed American Crossroads and Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies have spent at least a combined $65 million this year. Though some of the groups' donors insist on remaining unknown, what is known is that all that cash could be spent on American Flag lapel pins for the nation's estimated 11 million illegal immigrants and 1 million immigrants who legally entered the country last year, with enough pins left over to outfit all legal immigrants to the U.S. through 2032. || Newscom/Zumawire&&

8||Unions are spending big this year too.

The American Federation of State and County Municipal Employees has spent more than any other outside group this cycle, dropping a total of about $87.5 million. Based on 2008 statistics, that money could have bought "Paid" rubber stamps for nearly every full time federal employee. || Wikimedia&&

9||The SEIU has spent at least $44 million, or enough to buy 3.7 million pairs of Dr. Scholl's gel insoles. Just think: right now, all 2.2 million SEIU members could be gellin, with enough pairs left over for almost everyone to line a second pair of shoes as well. ||walgreens.com/store&&

10||The National Education Association has spent about $40 million, enough to buy about 194 million apples at an average going rate of $0.66 per pound. ||Wikimedia&&

11||John Raese, the West Virginia businessman, has put at least $2.4 million of his own money into his bid for the Senate seat once held by the late Sen. Robert Byrd. Raese, who warned that the U.S. must build 1,000 space lasers to protect itself against missile attacks, could have instead purchased a totally awesome $400 Lego Death Star kit for all but 300 people between the ages of 10 and 19 in Charleston, West Virginia. || flickr.com/JohnRaese4SSenate

Stephen Colbert talked to Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA) last night about his tough re-election campaign, and called him "a rare breed" of Democrat because "you're actually campaigning on the Democrats' record. Why are you trying to hurt yourself like this? Is it a cry for help?"

Colbert had pointed out earlier in the show that most Democrats are running away from President Obama and the Democratic Party's record. "Last time I saw that many people run away from their party was when I called the cops on some high school kids," Colbert said.

Perriello, Colbert said, is one Democrat "who has the guts to stand by what the Democrats have achieved," but is having a tough time in the campaign as a result. So Colbert asked him why he's been "throwing around these esoteric concepts like education and jobs. Why not run on a universal message: Muslims freak me out."

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African-American voters have historically been a predominantly strong base for the Democratic party, but a Houston based group called Raging Elephants is looking to change that with a "GOP Is The New Black" campaign. The new billboard depicts a number of well-heeled African-American actors while trumpeting the new slogan. Its also likely to spark a debate that may include allegations of race-baiting, as well as a certain inquiry into where the funds initially came from...coming to a basic cable news program near you!

"____is the new black" is a common locution to express the sudden popularity or versatility of an idea at the expense of a second idea. It's origins are in the NY fashion scene, initially based on black clothing not race. Watch the local news report and debate that follows below. (H/T The Blaze)

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Democratic Senate candidate Joe Manchin has an amazing set of new Web videos in the West Virginia Senate race -- possibly the best Web-based campaign spots of the whole cycle. Remember that fun moment when Republican nominee John Raese said that the country needs "1,000 laser systems put in the sky, and we need it right now," and said it would only cost $20 billion? Well, now Manchin's campaign is connecting that to Raese's other positions -- and also to the Death Star and those white-armored storm troopers.

"We need 1,000 laser systems put int he sky, and we need it right now," Raese is shown saying in the video clip.

Then in comes that John Williams Darth Vader theme music, images of people in storm trooper costumes on parade, and laser beams from the sky wiping out a public school, clean drinking water and a Social Security card. The final image: John Raese's head on a storm trooper body, with laser beams raining down upon Earth in the background.

"John Raese's ideas aren't just crazy -- they're downright dangerous," the announcer says.

And there are more, too.

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