TPM News

Rumors of Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland's political demise may have been greatly exaggerated. A new Fox News poll conducted by a Rasmussen firm over the weekend shows Strickland just two points behind Republican nominee John Kasich among likely voters.

Kasich leads 45-43 in the poll. Though Democrats generally shy away from both Fox News and Rasmussen, the combination of both seemed to please Strickland's camp, which sent out links to the poll earlier today. That's probably because the poll is the second to shoot down the truly awful poll numbers Strickland was facing just a couple weeks ago. Kasich seemed to be running away with the race. No longer, says Fox.

"Kasich's lead of six points last week was cut down to 2 points," the pollster reports, adding that Kasich "has run into some bumps."

Yesterday, a University of Cincinnati poll showed Strickland was down by just four points.

The TPM Poll Average shows Kasich leading the race 49.9-41.1.

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Here's another fun wrinkle in the Nevada Senate race, where Republican nominee Sharron Angle supports privatizing Social Security and all the major federal health care programs: She and her husband receive their own health care and a pension through the federal government.

Granted, Angle's husband Ted Angle receives his pension and health care as a former federal employee -- not directly through a social welfare program. Then again, Angle's proposals to slash government aren't all that friendly to federal employees, either.

Angle spokeswoman Ciara Matthews said in a statement:

"Mr. Ted Angle receives his pension through the (federal) Civil Service Retirement System. While it is not supplemented by the federal government, current civil servants pay into the program to pay the schedule of those already retired - much like how the Social Security Program works today. Mr. Angle does not qualify - nor does he receive Social Security benefits. His health insurance plan (the Federal Employee Health Program), which also covers Sharron, is a continuation of what he was receiving while he worked for the federal government."

The TPM Poll Average currently gives Harry Reid a lead of 47.2%-44.9%.

(Via Politico and Think Progress.)

Ron Johnson, the Republican nominee against Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold in the Wisconsin Senate race, has a new ad that pretty much sums up his campaign pitch, presenting himself as a political outsider and businessman in the middle of a seemingly anti-incumbent environment.

"There are 100 members of the U.S. Senate. Fifty-seven of them -- including Russ Feingold -- are lawyers," says Johnson, standing in front of a large whiteboard and writing out the figures with a marker. "That'd be fine, if we had a lawsuit to settle. But we have an economy to fix. There are zero manufacturers and one accountant. It's no wonder we're losing jobs and piling up debt. I'm not a politician. I'm an accountant and a manufacturer. I know how to balance a budget, and I do know how to create jobs. Now that's something we could really use."

The TPM Poll Average gives Johnson a lead of 52.2%-43.6%.

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The opponents of a proposed mosque near Murfreesboro, Tenn., have brought in prominent Sharia law fearmonger Frank Gaffney to help them stop the project in court.

Gaffney, who has been warning about the supposed threat to the Constitution from Sharia for years, was the only witness in the first day of hearings in a lawsuit filed by a handful of opponents to the mosque. They're trying to convince a judge to file an injunction against the mosque's construction, on the grounds the public officials violated open meeting law when approving the project.

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While Bristol Palin's inaugural appearance on "Dancing With The Stars" last week featured a tear-away business suit, a red fringed dress, the song "Mama Told Me Not To Come" and a hip-shaking, shoulder-shimmying cha-cha, one thing it did not feature was any reaction from Bristol's mother, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.

That was rectified this week.

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The new Fox News poll of the Illinois Senate race gives Republican Mark Kirk a narrow lead over Democrat Alexi Giannoulias -- with quite a few protest votes for the Green Party candidate LeAlan Jones.

The numbers: Kirk 42%, Giannoulias 40%, and Jones 7%. The survey of likely voters has a ±3% margin of error. There is no previous Fox News poll of this race. However, this poll was conducted through a Rasmussen offshoot, Pulse Opinion Research, which performs made-to-order robopolls. In the previous Rasmussen poll from last week, Kirk had 44%, Giannoulias 41%, and Jones 4%.

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At his weekly press conference this morning, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer was at the center of a fusillade of questions about middle class tax cuts: Why haven't House Democrats held a vote? Is a vote before the midterm elections still possible? Why not put Republicans on the spot?

His response suggests that Democrats are still undecided about whether to force a tax cut vote this week. But though they may still surprise everybody and push ahead tomorrow or Thursday, they're running out of time to decide.

"If we thought we could get it through the Senate absolutely we would act," Hoyer told reporters, "and we may well act anyhow."

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Vice President Joe Biden told Democrats that it's "time to focus" on winning in November, scolding dispirited members of his party for saying they might not vote in the midterm elections.

"Those who didn't get anything they wanted, it's time to just buck up here, understand that we can make things better, continue to move forward, but not yield the playing field to those folks who are against everything that we stand for in terms of the initiatives we put forward," Biden said last night when appearing on the debut of Lawrence O'Donnell's new show on MSNBC.

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is running a new television ad in California targeting Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) as doing little in her nearly three decades of service. Boxer faces a competitive race against former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, one of several Republican candidates the chamber is spending big bucks to boost this fall.

The ad focuses on a theme Fiorina hit in her first television ad and during their first debate, that Boxer has few accomplishments to show for her 28 years in Washington.

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