Oct. 25

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New Senate: DEM 48     Ties 2     GOP 50

New polls: CO GA IL
Dem pickups: GA

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Republican Pollster Gives Begich Massive Lead in Alaska

Republican pollster Hellenthal & Associates has just released a poll of the Alaska Senate race showing Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) at 49% and Dan Sullivan (R) at 39%. If This were from a Democratic outfit, the poll would go directly into the circular file with no intermediate processing. But from a Republican firm, it is hard to make any sense of it. Other recent polls have shown Sullivan with a small lead. Could Alaska have moved 15% in since the last poll? It stretches the imagination to the breaking point and beyond. Because Hellenthal is a partisan firm, the poll won't go into our database. Most likely, the company has a dreadful sample that is not representative at all, but you never know.

Joni Ernst Skips Meeting with the Des Moines Register

Once upon a time, candidates gladly met with editorial boards of newspapers in the hope of getting their endorsement. That is much less true now. A case in point: Republican senatorial candidate Joni Ernst just refused to talk to the board of the Des Moines Register, the most influential newspaper in Iowa. There are probably two reasons for candidates' lack of interest in having these meetings. First, the media is increasingly fragmented, so no one outlet is so important any more. Candidates can easily make an end run around an important newspaper by talking to TV stations, key Websites and bloggers, for example. Second, when boards record the interviews, even a small fragment taken out of context can mean trouble as opponents feast on it. For example, Alison Lundergan Grimes refused to say who she voted for in 2012, and the lack of an answer to that one question became a big story in itself. Ultimately, when a candidate skips an interview, he or she is making the calculation that losing the endorsement doesn't mean much.

Could Michelle Nunn Actually Win in Georgia?

Ever since it came out that Georgia Senate candidate David Perdue (R) said he outsourced American jobs to Asia and was proud of it (because be was trying to sell his company's outsourcing services to apparel manufacturers), he has been dropping in the polls. He once held a substantial lead, but most rcent polls show it as a tie or her with a lead. But even if Nunn gets the most votes, she is not home free. If nobody gets 50% of the votes, there will be runoff on Jan. 6. Unfortunately for her, there may also be a runoff in the closely fought gubernatorial race, and that one is on Dec. 2. Motivating Democrats to vote in midterms is never easy, and getting them to the polls a third time in 2 months may be impossible. So Nunn's only hope realistically, is to clear 50% on Nov. 4. How likely is that?

Nunn's problem is the Libertarian Party candidate, Amanda Swafford, who is polling around 4-5% now. Of course in a very tight right, some of those voters might decide not to make a symbolic protest vote, but to choose between the candidates who might win, Nunn and Perdue. Nate Cohn has an analysis of the race, and in Senate races in Georgia since 2002, minor parties have gotten 2.7%, 3.4%, 2.1%, and 1.4%. Cohn thinks Swafford is more likely to end up in this range than in the 4-5% range, making an outright win by Nunn or Perdue on Nov. 4, a small, but real, possibility.

Angus King Might Switch Parties

Sen. Angus King (I-ME) currently caucuses with the Democrats. However, he has just endorsed Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) for reelection. King may have done this for various reasons. He might be a personal friend of Alexander, who is in no danger whatsoever of losing. Maybe this is a warning to the Democrats: "Don't take me for granted." He might be throwing this out as a harmless way of demonstrating his independence. Or perhaps it is a signal that he might jump ship and caucus with the Republicans in January if they get the majority. If he were the deciding vote determining which party were to control the Senate, he would demand a King's ransom for his vote and probably get it. If he and Greg Orman of Kansas, another independent, were the deciding votes, they could make a real effort to change the way the Senate works.

Conservative Group Tries to Get North Carolina Democrats to Vote for Libertarian

The conservative American Future Fund has created a digital ad to try to convince North Carolina Democrats to abandon Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) and vote for pizza deliveryman Sean Haugh, the Libertarian Party candidate. However, the ad does not ring true and is not likely to sway many votes. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws says that 60% of its support come from people who do not use marijuana themselves. What they care about is wasting tax dollars on enforcing prohibition and all the crime prohibition causes and the expense of dealing with it. The ad tells people to get high, but if most of the supporters of legalization have no interest in getting high, the ad is not going to have any effect.

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Colorado Mark Udall* 41% Cory Gardner 46%     Oct 15 Oct 21 Quinnipiac U.
Georgia Michelle Nunn 42% David Perdue 44%     Oct 16 Oct 23 Abt SRBI
Georgia Michelle Nunn 47% David Perdue 44%     Oct 19 Oct 22 ORC International
Georgia Michelle Nunn 47% David Perdue 47%     Oct 20 Oct 21 Landmark Communications
Illinois Dick Durbin* 50% Jim Oberweis 36%     Oct 16 Oct 21 APC Research

* Denotes incumbent

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