TPM News

Over the last four weeks, The Hill and pollster Penn Schoen Berland have polled 42 toss-up congressional districts across the country, in an attempt to predict the magnitude of the upcoming election's congressional shakeup. The latest poll foresees a tough election day for the Democrats.

The survey's numbers suggest that Republicans are poised to win more than enough seats to take control away from the Democrats in the House next year. With the party needing to pick up 39 seats for majority control, The Hill's data suggests they are likely to take 50 or more.

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The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has a new ad in the Nevada Senate race, making an odd sell in the effort to save Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The ad briefly re-employs the motif from their previous spot, using the metaphor of the frustrated voter as a woman boxing against a punching bag. "It's frustrating," the announcer says. "You want to send a message to Washington -- but Sharron Angle?

"Sharron Angle says it's not a Senator's job to help create jobs. Sharron Angle says the unemployed are 'spoiled.' She wants to phase out Social Security and Medicare. Two candidates: Harry Reid will fight for Nevada jobs and defend Social Security and Medicare. Sharron Angle will cost us, and hurt our economy. Vote 'No' on Sharron Angle."

The TPM Poll Average gives Angle a lead of 49.3%-46.9%.

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In Wake County, N.C., elections officials have received a couple dozen complaints about intimidating Republican poll watchers at early voting locations.

The offending observers have reportedly stood behind the registration table (where they're not allowed) and taken pictures of the license plates of voters using curbside voting (also illegal), according to the director of the Wake County elections board. In other cases, director Cherie Poucher said, it's been a matter of voters finding normal, legal observing activities intimidating.

The observers who've caused problems are all Republicans, Poucher said; the Democratic Party hasn't submitted a list of registered poll watchers yet, but is expected to do so today.

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A new Charlie Melancon radio ad running in Louisiana highlights Sen. David Vitter's (R-LA) opposition to legislation that would have barred the government from contracting with companies that prevent victims from taking cases of assault, discrimination, rape, and other forms of abuse to court.

The segment is narrated by Jennie Waldrop, a rape victim who confronted Vitter at a town hall last year over his vote on that.

"I asked him how could you support a law that denies victims like me the right to defend myself," she says in the ad. "He told me I didn't know what I was talking about ... and then he walked away. I never thought I'd get involved in politics, but David Vitter is a man unfit to be my Senator."

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Errors on applications sent by the Illinois Democratic Coordinated Campaign to wannabe absentee voters could mean that thousands of voters in the state won't receive their ballots before election day.

This year for the first time, Illinois voters are allowed to vote by mail without giving a reason for their absence from the polls on Election Day. The IDCC hired a company to send out applications to make it easier for voters to receive such ballots. But because the applications are first being routed through the Democratic Party, they might not make it to the Lake County clerk in time for Thursday's deadline.

An Illinois county election official told Chicago's ABC 7 that thousands, and potentially hundreds of thousands, of voters who anticipate receiving a ballot in the mail may not get them in time.

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Yet another poll of California, this one from SurveyUSA, has Democrats Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer continuing to lead in their respective gubernatorial and Senate races.

In the gubernatorial race, Brown leads Republican Meg Whitman by 46%-38%. In the previous poll from last week, Brown led by 47%-40%. The TPM Poll Average gives Brown a lead of 48.7%-40.8%.

In the Senate race, the incumbent Senator Boxer leads Republican Carly Fiorina by 45%-40%. In the previous poll from last week, Boxer had a narrower lead of 46%-44%. The TPM Poll Average has Boxer ahead by 47.2%-43.1%.

The survey of likely voters has a ±4.1% margin of error.

The buttons that Minnesota conservative groups want their supporters to wear to tell poll watchers to ask them for their I.D. won't be allowing in polling stations, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman tells TPMMuckraker.

"You can't wear campaign buttons in a polling place, state law says you can't. And election judges can't even wear, you know, 'Stamp Out Election Fraud.' So that's going to be interesting in the next few days," Freeman said.

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The candidates for Governor of California had a fun moment at a joint appearance yesterday, when they were cajoled by Matt Lauer, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), and a very energetic audience to drop their negative ads. Republican nominee Meg Whitman agreed that she would indeed stop her ads attacking Democratic nominee Jerry Brown -- but only any ads attacking him personally, and not the ones hitting him on the issues.

At the state's annual Women's Conference, Lauer challenged the candidates to drop their negatives ads, with the audience enthusiastically applauding and even Schwarzenegger, who was on stage between the candidates, joining in on the clapping.

Brown briefly said there can be argument over what constitutes a negative ad, but ultimately agreed on the condition that it be done through a bilateral agreement: "Well, there's a spectrum. But I'll be glad. If Meg wants to do that, I'll be glad to do that. We could have a little discussion, and I"m sure we could work something out.

Whitman, who has faced intense attacks in the press and from her political opponents over a story involving her having hired an illegal immigrant housekeeper, gave a more equivocal answer, differentiating personal attacks from issue-based ones.

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In Kentucky, one Republican is standing firm against the concept of gender discrimination. Todd Lally, insurgent GOP nominee for Congress in the state's 3rd Congressional District, says he's never personally seen women be discriminated against -- and therefore, he says, gender discrimination may not exist at all.

Even in this so-called Year Of The Woman in politics, the vast majority of women casting ballots this year will find themselves choosing between two men to represent them in elected office. And in Kentucky, the choice includes one man who seems to base his entire knowledge of women's professional lives on the experience of his very successful wife and his own workplace observations.

The Democrat in the race, incumbent Rep. John Yarmuth, is making hay out of Tally's position, recently calling him out at a televised debate with facts and figures about women in Kentucky workplaces. Lally's response at the debate was essentially to shrug his shoulders and again say he doesn't know from gender discrimination.

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Stephen Colbert was skeptical last night about Glenn Beck's advocacy of Food Insurance survival kits, which Colbert said provide "a bag of food to keep around just in case the world comes to an end, but will be all better in a couple of weeks."

The Food Insurance website advertises that "while your neighbors are struggling to find food, you will be dining on lasagna, beef stroganoff, and a variety of other delicious entrees." But Colbert was still not convinced: "Even the best food insurance cant truly makes you safe. What if it turns out the virus that wipes out mankind is transmitted via stroganoff?"

So Colbert himself recommended that you buy his "Food Insurance Insurance," which will "cover any damage to your Food Insurance." He added: "With Glenn Beck's Food Insurance and Stephen Colbert's Food Insurance Insurance, America as we know it will end, but at least Americans as we know it will still be fat."

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