TPM News

The University of New Hampshire is out with some new polling (PDF) of the state's Senate race, and the numbers still don't look all that good for Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes. The new poll shows Republican Kelly Ayotte -- the frontrunner in the GOP primary -- leading Hodes 45%-37% among likely voters. Bill Binnie, another possible contender for the Republican nomination, also leads Hodes 41%-38%.

Still, there is some good news here for the Democrat -- the poll does show Hodes gaining ground on his likely Republican opponent. The university's last survey -- from April -- showed Ayotte leading Hodes 47%-32%.

A PPP poll released yesterday showed an even tighter race, with Hodes down only three points against Ayotte.

The TPM Poll Average of the race shows Ayotte with a 47.2%-37.9% lead over Hodes. The TPM Poll Average shows Binnie ahead of Hodes 45.2%-39.1%. The margin of error for the latest University of New Hampshire is ±4.6 percentage points. The primary is September 14.

The Democratic National Committee has transferred piles of cash from its campaign account to the Senate and House campaign committees and several states, investing big in hopes of retaining the party's seats and majorities during the November elections.

The DNC gave $833,333 to the Senate campaign arm the DSCC and $833,333 to the House campaign arm the DCCC. The DNC also gave $100,000 to the Maryland Democratic Party, $400,000 to the Florida Democratic Party and $333,333 to the Pennsylvania Democratic Party.

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The men running for the Tennessee Republican nomination for Governor don't seem particularly interested in discussing Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey's recent remarks that freedom of religion might not apply to Islam because, maybe, it's a cult. The campaign of Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, the frontrunner in the contest, offered only a terse response to a question about Ramsey's quote from the Tennessean this morning. Ramsey's remarks have drawn fire from Tennessee Muslims, but so far his fellow Republicans have let the matter lie.

"The mayor's faith is very important to him, and he respects the right of others to practice their faith, so long as they are respectful of the communities in which they live and the laws of the land," a Haslam spokesperson told the paper.

Rep. Zack Wamp -- the man running just ahead of Ramsey in the primary fight, according to polls -- didn't respond to my request for comment on Ramsey's line at all.

The lone Democrat running for governor, businessman Mike McWherter, was a bit more forthcoming when I asked his campaign about Ramsey's remark.

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The Senate's second highest ranking Democrat lent his support today to a growing effort, spearheaded by more junior members, to eliminate or diminish the power of the minority to enforce a 60 vote requirement on Senate business.

"I think there is a high level of frustration and a feeling that we missed many opportunities," Durbin told reporters this afternoon, in response to a question from TPMDC. "And also a lot of us have been completely worn down by a requirement of 60 votes on everything. This was rare when I got here 14 years ago and now it is rare otherwise".

Durbin used as an example one of his own initiatives, which was nearly killed by the supermajority requirement.

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Polling on Proposition 19 -- a California ballot initiative that would legalize marijuana -- has started to pick up. Three polls from July, including a PPP poll (PDF) released Monday, bring the total number of Prop 19 polls up to six. So, what's the verdict thus far? Will California be the first state to legalize non-medicinal weed?

At the moment, it's still anyone's guess -- the polling is enough to make anyone dazed and confused. Monday's PPP survey found voters supporting the initiative 52%-36%, and a SurveyUSA poll from two weeks ago showed support outweighing opposition by 10 points. But a Field Poll released earlier this month showed support lagging 44%-48%, while a Reuters/Ipsos poll from late June found support statistically tied with opposition, 48%-50%. What gives?

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Sharron Angle has made some new pronouncements in the Nevada Senate race, this time on campaign finance regulations. She first approved of the failure of the DISCLOSE Act to pass through the Senate -- and then later said that we already have the DISCLOSE Act in place and on the books. Here's the only problem: The DISCLOSE Act, which Senate Dems were attempting to pass but failed to overcome a Republican filibuster, is, in fact, not yet a law.

As Jon Ralston reports, Angle was asked her position during an appearance on the Heidi Harris talk radio show today.

"Well I think that the Supreme Court has really made their decision on this, they found that we have a First Amendment right across the board that was violated by the McCain-Feingold Act. And that's what they threw out, was those violations," said Angle, referring to the Citizens United case. "The McCain-Feingold Act is still in place. The DISCLOSE Act is still in place. It's just that certain provisions within that they found to be definitely violating the First Amendment. If we didn't have the DISCLOSE Act there would be a lot of different things that people wouldn't be able to find out. And certainly you can go to and see where Harry Reid is getting most of his money from special interests."

The TPM Poll Average currently has Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ahead of Angle by 44.5%-42.8%.

On a conference call with reporters today, Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL) said that national support from Democrats will help him defeat the advertising onslaught from billionaire candidate Jeff Greene in the Democratic primary for Senate. Meek said that despite his tough poll numbers and Greene's seemingly limitless spending, Meek still has the support of the national party and that that could be the difference maker on Aug. 24 when voters head to the polls to choose which Democrat will go up against Gov. Charlie Crist (I) and Marco Rubio (R) in November.

Meek said White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel will be in Florida Aug. 2 to help raise money for his campaign, and he said that "we've also heard that there may very well be members of the administration coming down before the primary."

He'll need some help from the Democratic party's big guns if he wants to keep up with Greene's ad spending, which has gone essentially unchecked since Greene got in the primary race on April 30. Meek just went up with his first TV ad of the campaign this week, attempting to blunt Greene's push with a negative attack on Greene's past as a Wall Street trader who cashed in on the collapse of the housing market.

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The campaign of businessman Jeff Greene, who is running for the Democratic Senate nomination in Florida, is shaking up its operation heading into the August 24 primary.

As the St. Petersburg Times reports, Greene's campaign manager Josh Morrow has left the team, replaced by Jessica Vanden Berg. He also has a new media consultant, the firm of Devine/Mulvey.

The little polling that exists of this primary shows Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek just barely edging Greene, but with "undecided" as the faraway winner against both of these relatively unknown candidates. In the general election, both of them run in a distant third place, behind ex-Republican and now independent Gov. Charlie Crist and Republican Marco Rubio.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) has pledged to appeal the judge's ruling against portions of her new immigration law, telling reporters today that it was "a little bump in the road."

Brewer said "the federal government got relief from the courts to not do their job." She said the federal government must "step up ... and do the job that they have the responsibility to do for the people of America and the people of Arizona."

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Rick Lazio, the Republican frontrunner in the primary for New York governor, has thrown down the gauntlet and challenged Democratic nominee and state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to a debate...a debate that focuses solely on the controversial plans to build a Muslim community center near Ground Zero.

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