TPM News

The new survey of Nevada by Public Policy Polling (D) has a startling result about Republican Sen. John Ensign: Despite the sex scandal that obliterated his presidential ambitions last year, and has raised questions about payments made by Ensign's parents to the family of his ex-mistress, Ensign could still get reelected in 2012.

Only 38% of Nevada voters approve of Ensign's job performance, with 44% disapproving. However, he still leads three Democrats in hypothetical match-ups. He leads Rep. Shelly Berkley by 49%-40%. He leads Secretary of State Ross Miller by 47%-36%. And he edges out Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman by 43%-41%, within the ±3.6% margin of error.

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In a winning campaign every move is brilliant, and in a losing campaign every move is a blunder. But Democrats caught off guard by the tight race in Massachusetts to replace liberal icon Sen. Ted Kennedy insist that the problem lies in large part with their candidate, Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Some of the Coakley criticism is specific: Scott Brown was up on the television airwaves with positive, defining ads earlier, and he held more campaign events in December after winning the nomination. But some of the complaints center on Coakley's personality and speaking style, which convey insufficient enthusiasm.

"She is not someone who is likely to go the pub and buy everyone a round, but neither is John Kerry," said Coakley supporter Lawrence DiCara, a former Boston city council member and veteran of Democratic politics in the Bay State.

"She's much more like John Kerry than she is like Ted Kennedy," he said.

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Congressional leaders and the White House struck a major deal on the excise tax yesterday, clearing the way for a final health care deal.

Now House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told CNBC that "general agreement" between the two chambers could be ready within "24, 48 or 72 hours." He said negotiators will be working through the weekend.

Watch:

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President Obama has recorded a robocall for Democratic candidate Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts special Senate election, imploring recipients to get and out for Coakley, and make sure everyone else will know there's an election, too.

"We know where Martha Coakley stands," Obama says. "As your attorney general, Martha has taken on Wall Street's schemes, insurance company abuses and big polluters on your behalf. She represents the best progressive values of Massachusetts. She'll be your voice and my ally."

"But a lot of people don't even realize there is an election on Tuesday to fill the unexpired term of Ted Kennedy. They don't realize why it's so important. So please, come out to vote for Martha Coakley. And make sure everyone you know understands the stakes for their families, Massachusetts and our country."

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A new Marist poll on the New York Senate race has good news for both Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and the man actively considering challenging her for the Democratic nomination this year, former Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford, Jr.

Among Democratic voters surveyed, Gillibrand leads Ford in a hypothetical matchup 43-24. It's a sizable lead for the less-than-popular Gillibrand, who Marist found has just a 31% approval rating among Democrats in New York. A full third of surveyed Democrats are undecided in the race, however, leaving Ford a lot of room to move up should he decide to run for the nomination.

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Republican candidate and state Sen. Scott Brown doesn't want President Obama to come to Massachusetts to campaign for his opponent, state Attorney General Martha Coakley.

"He should stay away and let Martha and I discuss the issues one on one," Brown told the Boston Herald this week. "The machine is coming out of the woodwork to get her elected. They're bringing in outsiders, and we don't need them."

The White House has said Obama will not campaign for Coakley in the Bay State, but he did cut a web ad and send an email to supporters urging them to get out and support the Democrat.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has a new TV ad in the Massachusetts special election, attacking Republican candidate Scott Brown for opposing President Obama's proposed fees on major financial institutions, and tying him to Wall Street.

"Republican Scott Brown opposes President Obama's plan to reform Wall Street," the announcer says. "That's right, Scott Brown actually opposes the plan to crack down on the greed and corruption that nearly destroyed our economy."

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The two-man team of Florida political activists who are claiming the rights to the "Tea Party" name have been accused in the past of engaging in political trickery for profit, including allegedly pressing opposing candidates to pay for the endorsement of their candidate.

In August, Orlando lawyer Fred O'Neal registered the "Tea Party of Florida" (TPOF) as an official political party. Since then, as we reported yesterday, he and his close ally, GOP political consultant Doug Guetzloe, have asserted rights to the Tea Party name, and tried to strong-arm some local groups to drop the well-known moniker.

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National Security Council Spokesman Mike Hammer issued a statement today on the conclusion of National Security Advisor Jim Jones' week-long trip through the Middle East. Read the full text after the jump.

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