TPM News

Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter outraised Sen. Blanche Lincoln in the most recent fundraising period as they battle for the Democratic primary runoff, but started the second phase of the election with far less in the bank than the incumbent senator.

Halter raised more than $777,000 to Lincoln's just over $552,000. But while she has $2 million in the bank, he had $494,549 according to the Federal Election Commission paperwork the campaign filed today covering April 29 through May 19. The primary election, which had Lincoln at 45 percent, Halter at 43 percent and a conservative Democrat earning 13 percent, was held May 18. That means these most recent figures don't reveal much about whether Halter received a boost from forcing a runoff. Team Halter portrayed today's figures as Lincoln being in "dire trouble," touting a new poll showing him leading the senator by 3 points. They also noted that nearly half of her fundraising haul came from political action committees, while his money came from individuals with an average contribution of less than $40.

After today's poll, the TPM Poll Average for the first time has Halter leading Lincoln 47.3%-44.7%. As I reported earlier this week, it's gotten nastier between the two Democrats in the final two weeks.

When it comes to making environmental policy in the wake of the massive oil spill in the Gulf, Americans appear ready to embrace that old political adage, "let no crisis go to waste."

According to a new poll from Gallup out this afternoon, "preferences for prioritizing between environmental protection and energy production have shifted from a somewhat pro-energy stance to an even stronger pro-environment stance" during the period of the oil spill.

In the new poll, 55% of respondents say "protection of the environment" should be given priority over energy production. Thirty-nine percent say the opposite. Back in March, the split went the other way -- 50% prioritized energy production while 43% said environmental protection should come first.

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The new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll of the Kentucky Senate race gives Republican nominee Rand Paul only a narrow lead over Democratic state Attorney General Jack Conway -- but it doesn't immediately appear that Paul's comments about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are hurting him.

The numbers: Paul 44%, Conway 41%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4% margin of error. It might be tempting to think that Paul is having a fallout from his controversial statements opposing laws against racial discrimination by private businesses -- but on the other hand, this result is essentially unchanged from the pre-primary R2K poll that gave Paul a lead of 42%-39%. The TPM Poll Average gives Paul a lead of 47.5%-38.2%.

Kos writes: "This race's big battleground will be independent voters -- Paul is currently winning them 42-31, with 27 percent undecided, and Democrats, where Conway is only getting 75 percent to Paul's 7 Percent, with 18 percent undecided. Remember, this is Kentucky, where a significant number of voters who vote Dem in statewide elections vote GOP for federal races. Paul has already consolidated GOP support, winning them 86-6, with just 8 percent undecided."

Late Update: This post has been edited from the original, after a correction to the post at Daily Kos.

This afternoon conservative commentator Erick Erickson of RedState, a strong supporter of South Carolina gubernatorial candidate NIkki Haley, accused blogger Will Folks of receiving a payoff to push the story of an alleged affair between Folks and Haley -- a charge Folks is strenuously denying.

In a post titled "BREAKING: We Know Who Did It," which features a Drudge siren, Erickson writes: "Who paid Will Folks? He was alleged offered money. A LOT of money. In fact, RedState now confirms through a whole heap of sources that he's been trying to sell this story for a year."

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President Obama is doubling down on the rhetoric when it comes to the crisis in the Gulf this weekend, but it's not yet clear if that will be enough to stop the slide in public support for the way he's handled the worst oil spill in American history.

Yesterday, USA Today made a splash with its new poll, conducted in conjunction with Gallup (margin of error: 4%), showing 53% of Americans gave Obama a "poor" rating when it comes to handling the oil spill. But that poll is just one of many showing public trust in the White House's ability to handle the crisis has declined since the spill first began in late April.

Most of the polls show slight majorities disapprove of the way the President has run things since the oil spill began. When put in contrast with the epically terrible ratings given to BP by the public in the same polls, the Obama slide may seem slight. But for a White House trying to shake accusations -- however ridiculous -- that the spill has become a new Katrina the numbers show that the administration has work to do before it regains public confidence.

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In an afternoon press conference today, President Obama addressed the federal government's response to the Gulf oil spill, which has become the biggest oil spill in U.S. history.

Obama made clear that the government and not BP, which is financially responsible for the cleanup, is making the calls in the Gulf.

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President Obama told reporters this afternoon that the White House soon will release an official response to a claim the administration offered Rep. Joe Sestak a job in exchange for him dropping a primary challenge against Sen. Arlen Specter.

Sestak (D-PA) said this spring that he was offered a quid pro quo, but has refused to give any details despite repeated questions from the press since he defeated Specter in the May 18 primary. Obama was asked about the dust-up, which the GOP is using for political benefit, during a press conference today about the Gulf Coast oil spill.

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The new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll of the Arkansas Democratic Senate primary runoff shows incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln narrowly trailing her more liberal challenger, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter.

The numbers: Halter 47%, Lincoln 44%. The survey of likely voters has a 5% margin of error. A previous overnight snap poll that Research 2000 did for Democracy For America, conducted the night of the May 18 first-round primary, gave Halter an edge of 48%-46%.

The TPM Poll Average shows Halter ahead by 47.3%-44.7%.

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