• TN-04: Oh. My.
A pro-life, family-values congressman who worked as a doctor before winning election as a Tea Party-backed Republican had an affair with a patient and later pressured her to get an abortion, according to a phone call transcript obtained by The Huffington Post.In addition, DesJarlais did not deny the contents of the call, excerpts of which are produced in the HuffPo's article, such as this:
The congressman, Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee, was trying to save his marriage at the time, according to his remarks on the call, made in September of 2000. And, according to three independent sources familiar with the call and the recording, he made the tape himself.
"You told me you'd have an abortion, and now we're getting too far along without one," DesJarlais tells the woman at one point in the call while negotiating with her over whether he'll reveal her identity to his wife. They then discuss whether he will accompany her to a procedure to end the sort of life the congressman now describes as "sacred."Wow. Much more at the link. After the news broke, DesJarlais's Democratic opponent, state Sen. Eric Stewart, held a press conference, going right after DesJarlais as a hypocrite who broke his oath both as a husband and a physician.
"You told me you would have time to go with me and everything," the woman complains.
"I said, if I could, I would, didn't I? And I will try," DesJarlais says. "If I can [find] time, you're saying you still will?"
"Yeah," the woman answers.
• FL-Sen: Bill Nelson (D-inc): $2.3 mil raised, $6.5 mil cash-on-hand; Connie Mack (R): $2.7 mil raised
• IN-Sen: Richard Mourdock (R): $3 mil raised, $1.3 mil cash-on-hand
• CA-26: Julia Brownley (D): $740K raised
• IL-08: Tammy Duckworth (D): $1.5 mil raised
• IL-10: Bob Dold! (R-inc): $1 mil raised
• NY-25: Louise Slaughter (D-inc): $730K raised
• AZ-Sen: Look out! A brand-new DSCC poll from Harstad Research has Democrat Rich Carmona up 47-43 over Republican Jeff Flake, not too different from the 45-43 edge PPP saw for Carmona earlier this month (though closer to that magical 50% mark). The polling memo doesn't contain a lot of detail (there are no Obama-Romney numbers, for instance), but it does note that Carmona has a 39-24 favorability rating—considerably better than Flake's underwater 36-38 mark. Unusually, the pollster offers their partisan breakdown: 39 R vs. 30 D, compared with a 36-30 registration advantage for the GOP statewide.
Very shortly after these numbers leaked, the Flake campaign came out with its own responsive internal (courtesy the Tarrance Group), showing him ahead of Carmona 49-43. The polls were in the field at the exact same time (Oct. 7-9), but the DSCC survey had more respondents (602 vs. 453). Flake, however, did not provide any further details about his poll.
• IN-Sen: If, during the trench run at the end of Star Wars, a few more ships popped out of the Death Star to help Vader instead of the Millennium Falcon whooshing in on Luke's side... well, that's what this new ad buy in Indiana from Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Action group is like. Obviously, they're trying to help Richard Mourdock ward off an upset by Democrat Joe Donnelly, with $435K in broadcast and cable TV time. Those imperial pilots tended to suck, though, so this thing's still anyone's game, extra TIE fighters or no. Knock `em out the box, Luke!
• ME-Sen: It's been pretty hard to get a clean read on the Senate race in Maine, with several polls showing independent Angus King's position looking precarious, and others finding him with still-comfortable leads. Slot the latest, the so-called "Omnibus Poll" from local consulting from Pan Atlantic Group SMS Group, in the latter category: They show King leading Republican Charlie Summers 50-24, with Democrat Cynthia Dill back at 12. There are also numbers for the state's two House districts, but since the total sample size on the poll is just 400, that means that Pan Atlantic only canvassed about 200 respondents in each seat, which is well below acceptable standards. (The results are positive for Democrats, for what it's worth.)
Pan Atlantic also asked about the state's pro-gay marriage ballot measure, finding 55 percent in support and 39 opposed. Unfortunately, we don't have access to the complete question wording, which I mention because the pollster himself cautioned that "support for gay marriage might be 'inflated' because of the way respondents answered more general questions about their level of support for same-sex marriage." Hmm.
• MO-Sen: Dem Sen. Claire McCaskill lowers the boom on Todd Akin with three new ads, all of which feature sexual assault survivors (two of whom identify as "pro-life) castigating Akin for his beliefs. In particular, they hammer Akin for opposing emergency contraception—something one woman even says she declined while in the hospital following her assault, but she adds that she doesn't want that choice taken from others.
• MT-Sen, MT-AL (PDF): PPP has new Montana numbers out, and it's safe to say that their Senate numbers come as a relief, even though they basically held steady in fairly precarious position: Democratic incumbent Jon Tester leads GOP Rep. Denny Rehberg 45-43, with Libertarian Dan Cox clocking in at 8. Those are the exact same numbers as PPP's poll last month.
On the whole, that's good news for Tester. This comes after last week's debate, and at the top of the ticket, Barack Obama has seen some erosion, down to a 52-41 deficit from 50-45 a month ago. That means Tester's at least holding his own. On the other hand, there are two red flags for him: the undecideds, and the Libertarian. The undecideds prefer Romney over Obama 71-8, and Cox voters also prefer Romney 70-6, so it seems like if they decide not to waste their votes, they're likelier to break in Rehberg's direction.
Finally, PPP has numbers in Montana's open, at-large House race, where Republican Steve Daines leads Dem Kim Gillan 43-34 with 10 going to Libertarian Dave Kaiser. Last month, the race was much closer, at 40-37-9, so it seems like the House race (where the players are kind of Generic R and Generic D) is being hurt by Obama's decline while Tester has a strong-enough brand that he's surviving on his own. (David Jarman)
• NV-Sen: Rasmussen: Shelley Berkley (D): 45 (41), Dean Heller (R-inc): 48 (42).
• OH-Sen: SurveyUSA's first poll of Ohio all cycle finds Dem Sen. Sherrod Brown up 42-38 over Republican Josh Mandel—a smaller lead than he's seen in most recent polling, and also a spread with far more undecideds than any public poll has ever found. (Indeed, Brown's never clocked in at 42.) Andrew Sullivan will also love the presidential numbers, which show Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney by just a hair's-breadth 45-44 margin. But our old buddy Taniel makes a good point: Among the 11% of respondents who say they have already voted, both Obama and Brown have twenty-point leads. Yeah, that sub-sample is small, but would you rather be the guy +20 or -20?
• PA-Sen: Susquehanna has produced most of the polls that have shown the Pennsylvania Senate race to be close (meaning low-single-digits; a number of other pollsters have seen it move to within the high-single-digits), and now they're doing it again. The Republican-friendly pollster (who have done polling both on behalf of GOP candidates and the notoriously right-leaning Pittsburgh Tribune-Review—though this poll doesn't seem to be on anyone's behalf) finds Dem Sen. Bob Casey leading GOPer Tom Smith 46-44, not much different from their previous 45-42 in September. Suspicious crosstab du jour: Smith leads 54-44 in decidedly blue Allegheny County. (David Jarman)
• MO-Gov: The bronies down at the RGA are providing another hot cash infusion for Dave Spence, sending him $950K for his uphill fight against Dem Gov. Jay Nixon. That's on top of a $1.1 million gift last month. Some time ago, the DGA gave $2.5 million to its Missouri affiliate, which in turn forked over a mil to Nixon, but it's been a while since they've felt the need to get directly involved here.
• WA-Gov: I guess I'll give GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna—perhaps the least funky person to have ever walked the earth—some goofy good-sport credit for dancing along with "Gangnam Style" at a local Korean cultural celebration... the ensuing video has a vaguely Dukakis-in-a-tank whiff to it, though. (David Jarman)
• MI-06: Though GOP Rep. Fred Upton occupies a district that went for Obama by eight points in 2008, the race in MI-06 hasn't gotten a lot of attention this year. Despite facing down an unsuccessful Club for Growth-fueled primary challenge, Upton still has a huge campaign warchest, while his opponent, Marine vet Mike O'Brien, had only raised about $100K as of mid-July. But sometimes background factors matter more than candidate dynamics, and that appears to be what O'Brien's trying to demonstrate with a new internal from Myers Research that shows Upton leading by just a 47-42 margin, with Libertarian Christie Gelineau taking 7 percent. That's still quite a climb for O'Brien, but what's most notable is how unfriendly this sample is: Obama actually trails Mitt Romney 48-47. The generic congressional ballot is also tight, with a 47-46 GOP edge. O'Brien, however, isn't even on the DCCC's "Emerging Races" list and would need outside help to overcome Upton's advantages.
• NV-04: We haven't seen Barack Obama endorse a lot of downballot candidates this year, and most of those involved him supporting veteran Congressional Black Caucus members who faced potentially competitive primaries. But on Wednesday, he officially threw his support behind state Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, who has been running behind Republican Danny Tarkanian in the polls in Nevada's new 4th District. That suggests he's running behind Obama, too, and presumably the idea here is that earning the POTUS's imprimatur will boost Horsford (who is African-American) with black voters. However, there's no word on whether Obama will cut any ads for Horsford (something he's even stingier about), or whether this is just for press release and "sticking a photo on a mailer" purposes.
• NY-19: After a new Democratic internal showed a two-point race, the NRCC is out with a ten-day-old internal (courtesy OnMessage) which has GOP Rep. Chris Gibson up 47-39 over Democrat Julian Schreibman. That 47% mark doesn't strike me as particularly awesome for Gibson, I've gotta say. As to which poll you should believe, well, the DCCC's had Obama up 7 while this one has him up 3; he won by 8 four years ago. And as it happens, Roll Call's Joshua Miller was able to squeeze out the sample demographics from both sides:
The breakdown of those surveyed in the Republican poll: 36 percent Republican, 36 percent Democratic and 25 percent other. The breakdown of those surveyed in the Democratic poll: 32 percent Democratic; 35 percent Republican; 33 percent other.So as you can see, the D-Trip's survey was actually a touch more Republican. And here's another little tell that I like a lot: The Dem poll was in the field last week, while the Republican poll was conducted the week before that. That likely means that the GOP didn't intend to publicize those numbers (knowing they weren't so great) and only did so because they felt they had to.
• OH-06: The NRCC and GOP Rep. Bill Johnson are dusting off this two-week-old internal poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies showing that the incumbent is up 48-39 over Democrat Charlie Wilson. But the presidential toplines paint what seem to be an overly optimistic picture for Johnson: Romney leads Obama 53-39, which is six points better than John McCain's 53-45 victory here in 2008. What's more, this survey was in the field before the debate debacle, at a point when Obama looked poised to do better in the Buckeye State than he did four years ago, so this sample might well be too favorable for Republicans. (A Wilson internal last month had the race tied at 46.)
• TX-23: It's been a while since we've heard much from the Blue Dog Coalition PAC, but they've gone and named their tenth endorsement of the cycle: state Rep. Pete Gallego, who is challenging GOP freshman Quico Canseco. The move seems a bit surprising to me: This is a swingish district, sure, but Gallego never struck me as particularly conservative, and he's been supported to the hilt by environmental organizations, who often don't see eye-to-eye with Blue Dogs. And Canseco's predecessor, Ciro Rodriguez, never joined the BDs... though he did compile a kind of wankerish voting record that might make you think he was, in fact, a member. For a full list of all Blue Dog endorsements for 2012, click here.
• Reshuffling Roundup:
• IL-08, -10, 11: The Hotline reports that the DCCC is cutting back on its TV ad buys for Oct. 23-29 in the Chicago area to the tune of $740K, leaving it with $297K for that timeframe. Don't fret, though: The D-Trip is probably just getting out of the way of the House Majority PAC, which as we mentioned in the previous Digest is dumping $2.4 million into a new blitz targeting all three of these Chicagoland seats.
• PA-08, NJ-03: Oh well. It looks like the DCCC is giving up on Kathy Boockvar, our best hope in the Philly 'burbs this cycle. According to PoliticsPA's Keegan Gibson, the D-Trip is cancelling $585K worth of ad time for the last week of October that had been earmarked for PA-08, though he does note that there's still $722K reserved for the final week before the election. The Fix's Aaron Blake adds that the total cancellation in the Philadelphia market is actually $1.1 million for the week, which means the balance was probably slated for NJ-03, where Shelley Adler's previously been the victim of cutbacks. The NRCC must be feeling good, too, since they also ditched $788K in Philly airtime for the same time period.
• Campaign Finance: As Rick Hasen predicted, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has blocked a lower judge's ruling from a week ago that eliminated all limits on campaign contributions in Montana. The judge had failed to provide a full decision explaining his ruling (something Hasen identified as a serious no-no), and so the appeals court has ordered him to provide one. In the meantime, the donation caps have been reinstated. However, for a week, those restrictions simply didn't exist, so it's possible some candidates went hog wild during that period, taking in unlimited gifts. We won't know, though, until fundraising reports are filed.
• Polltopia: This week's Daily Kos poll shows similar excitement levels for both Obama voters and Romney voters—essentially no change in the excitement levels of Obama voters, despite the debate, and a 7-point increase in the percent of Romney voters saying they're Very Excited. Excitement levels have, in general, increased since the spring, as is to be expected, including excitement levels of minority Obama voters. Daily Kos Elections featured writer dreaminonempty takes a closer look at the data, so click through for dreamin's analysis.