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The closely-watched race for Senate in Kentucky is now "a statistical dead heat," according to a new poll sponsored by one of the the state's largest papers. The Bluegrass Poll was conducted by automated phone call pollster SurveyUSA for the Louisville Courier-Journal last week and shows Republican nominee Rand Paul leading Democratic nominee Jack Conway 49-47.

The last Bluegrass Poll, conducted in late August showed Paul ahead 55-40. In the ensuing weeks, the Courier-Journal reports, Conway has built momentum among women and those wary of Paul's extreme conservative views.

"The poll shows that Conway, the state's attorney general, is now appealing to voters who say they are neutral on the tea party -- Paul's base of support," the paper reports. "And Conway is building a significant lead among women, who earlier were almost evenly split between the two candidates."

As the paper reports, Paul's miniscule lead in the new poll "is well within the poll's 4 percentage point margin of error," making the result basically a tie.

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A significant number of FBI employees cheated on an exam intended to assess their skills on criminal investigations, national security investigations and foreign intelligence collection, according to a Justice Department Inspector General report released Monday.

When taking the computerized 51-question Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG), some consulted with others while taking the exam, others used or distributed answers sheets or study guides that provided answers to the test and some employees "exploited a programming flaw to reveal the answers to the exam on their computers."

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The new Star Tribune poll of the Minnesota gubernatorial race gives Democratic former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton a nine-point lead over Republican Tom Emmer.

The numbers: Dayton 39%, Emmer 30%, and Independence Party nominee Tom Horner 18%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4.1% margin of error. In the previous Star Tribune poll from late July, Dayton led Emmer and Horner by 40%-30%-13%. The TPM Poll Average gives Dayton a lead of 39.3%-35.7% over Emmer, plus 14.2% for Horner.

The poll also finds Dayton's favorable rating at 51%, with 38% unfavorable. By contrast, Emmer is further behind at 40%-41%, and Horner is at 38%-28%.

Last week the GOP released its 'Pledge to America' to a mostly lukewarm reception.  A number of pundits immediately speculated that the Pledge was so detailed the GOP would soon find itself hemmed in by what the Pledge contained (and what it didn't).  Well they didn't have to wait long.

On Fox News Sunday yesterday morning Chris Wallace grilled Minority House Leader John Boehner on why there was no mention in the Pledge of doing away with earmarks entirely.  Boehner says it is because the Pledge is about now(!), and there is already a moratorium on earmarks, and that come November if the GOP takes the House rest assured it will "not be business as usual."  Indeed.  Not satisfied with that response Wallace pressed Boehner to "pledge right now" that if the GOP takes the House he will do away with earmarks forever.  Boehner, apparently not fast and loose with his pledges, would not.   Later in the segment, though, he did suggest it would be in everyone's best interest for the House and President to work together.  Watch below.

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Rep. Chris Van Hollen may think a vote this week is still possible on extending the Bush tax cuts for the middle class, but the No. 2 Democrat in the House splashed icy cold water on the idea Sunday.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said on Fox News Sunday that he does not think a vote will happen before members adjourn for the midterm elections, even though Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday it still was possible. Hoyer blamed the Senate for opting to punt the vote to a lame-duck session, telling host Chris Wallace that it would be "a specious act" to hold a vote just for political optics before heading home.

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The new Los Angeles Times/Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (D) poll of the California Senate race shows Dem Sen. Barbara Boxer with a strong lead over Republican nominee Carly Fiorina.

The numbers: Boxer 51%, Fiorina 43%. The survey of likely voters has a ±3.3% margin of error. In the previous LAT/GQR poll from back in late May, Boxer led Fiorina by 44%-38%.

The TPM Poll Average gives Boxer a lead of 47.5%-44.3%.

Yet another poll, this one from the Los Angeles Times and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (D), shows Democrat Jerry Brown with the lead in the California gubernatorial race against Republican Meg Whitman.

The numbers: Brown 49%, Whitman 44%. The survey of likely voters has a ±3.3% margin of error. The previous LAT/GQR survey from all the way back in late May put Brown ahead by 44%-38%. However, there have been a lot of polls since then showing Whitman ahead, after she put in so much of her own money that she has become the biggest self-financing candidate ever. As such, the TPM Poll Average shows Whitman still ahead, but only by a slim margin of 45.9%-44.8%.

However, other recent polls have also shown Brown pulling ahead or in a tied race.

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Stephen Colbert's testimony on Friday before the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration has received some mixed reviews. Not because it wasn't funny -- Colbert was very funny, and very sharp -- but because he stayed in character the entire time and some people (not including Nancy Pelosi) felt that was inappropriate.

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A tough new ad by Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) has his Republican opponent Daniel Webster on the defense just weeks before the election. The segment focuses on Webster's extremely conservative religious views, and concludes by calling him "Taliban Dan Webster."

"Religious fanatics try to take away our freedom: In Afghanistan, In Iran, and right here in Central Florida," the narrator begins.

Though reporters and partisans argue about dubbing a Congressional candidate a member of the Taliban, perhaps the most damning portion of the ad comes from multiple pieces of footage Grayson has unearthed of Webster referencing and endorsing parts of the bible that instruct women to be submissive to their husbands.

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Gov. David Paterson (D) popped up on Saturday Night Live this weekend to confront Fred Armisen, who's been playing a version of the New York Governor. Paterson chided Armisen for making fun of his blindness: "You have poked so much fun at me for being blind that I forgot I was black!"

Paterson added that "working in Albany is a lot like watching Saturday Night Live: There's a lot of characters, it's funny for ten minutes, and then you just want it to go away."

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