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As summer keeps rolling along, we make it to the middle of another busy week. This week, perhaps, busier than most, as Congress steams towards a summer break, and most of us are still unpacking from NN10.

Some highlights for this Wednesday:

  • Rasmussen is apparently no longer able to prop up the train wreck that is the Sharron Angle for Senate campaign.
  • One Democratic incumbent apparently isn't afraid to release internal polling (probably because it is really good news for said incumbent).
  • Even as the DCCC widens their defensive posture, they also look ready to play some offense. Find out where the DCCC sees an opportunity to carve into the GOP territory.

All that (and more!) in this midweek edition of the Wrap...

THE U.S. SENATE

NH-Sen: Ayotte big primary lead, shrinking general election lead
The endorsement of "mama grizzly" Sarah Palin might be a total albatross around the neck of state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, but there is one place it is paying huge dividends: the Republican Primary. Ayotte now has a commanding lead in the GOP primary, scheduled to be held on September 14th. Ayotte leads with 47% of the vote, well ahead of also-rans Bill Binnie (14%), Ovide Lamontagne (8%) and Jim Bender (6%).

Meanwhile, a second pollster confirms PPP's finding that Kelly Ayotte's once solid lead over Democrat Paul Hodes is dissipating. The WMUR poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire, finds that Ayotte's lead over Hodes has been cut almost in half. Ayotte still leads (45-37), but that is a far cry from the fifteen-point edge that UNH had her staked to as recently as April. Hodes also trails free-spending businessman Bill Binnie (41-38), but now leads both Jim Bender (39-36) and Ovide Lamontagne (42-36). This poll, like the PPP poll earlier in the week, shows a sharp change in the favorabilities for Ayotte. At an exceptionally good 38/13 favorability spread just three months ago, Ayotte now finds herself at a 36/27 spread in her favorabilities.

NY-Sen: Gillibrand maintains solid edge in Senate race
Over time, there has been virtually no movement in the Empire State, as freshman Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand continues to easily lead her Republican challengers. Such is the finding of a new Quinnipiac poll, which has the Democrat staked to 20+ point leads over either prospective GOP contender. She leads Bruce Blakeman by a 48-27 margin, and enjoys a slightly wider edge against David Malpass (49-24). Part of what continues to propel Gillibrand is the fact that her challengers remain essentially unknown. Indeed, in the GOP primary to select Gillibrand's opponent, more than two-thirds of Republicans remain undecided (Blakeman leads 19-11 among the handful of voters who have gotten off the fence).

WI-Sen: A real reason for Johnson's dithering on the BP stock?
Followers of the Wrap know that we have been keeping an eye on the on again/off again vacillations of GOP Senate candidate Ron Johnson, who owns a heaping helping of BP stock and has been pressured to dump it. Some of the time, Johnson says he will put it into a blind trust. Other times, he says he'll sell it to finance his campaign (the ads write themselves, don't they?). Still other times, he implies that he'll just hold onto it. Now, we might have a better explanation for why he is not sticking with a single plan: Monday at a luncheon for Wispolitics, he said he was basing his decision to sell on "market conditions." In other words, if he dumps BP stock at any point in the campaign, it will not be based on any moral decisions not to yield financial gain from the scandal-ridden company, nor will it be in an expression of protest for what BP has wrought to the Gulf Coast. It will be because he can make the most money to funnel into his campaign. Touching.

THE U.S. HOUSE

CO-04: Is imploded Gubernatorial race Markey's salvation?
An interesting take today from Kasie Hunt over at Politico, who wonders aloud if Tom Tancredo's gubernatorial bid, still in its infancy, could be a death blow to the fortunes of GOP House contender Cory Gardner. It so happens that the party welcoming Tancredo into the fold (the American Constitution Party) already has a candidate running in the 4th district, farmer Doug Aden. Aden is a old-school John Bircher, and any exposure to the American Constitution Party could have some downstream benefit for Aden, which could make all the difference in a close race.

IN-03: Open seat race in NE Indiana no contest, according to GOP poll
In 2006, Democrat Tom Hayhurst came shockingly close to knocking off longtime Republican incumbent Mark Souder in the heavily-GOP 3rd district of Indiana. If a new internal poll by American Viewpoint for state Senator Marlin Stutzman is to be believed, the open seat race will not be nearly as competitive. Stutzman is claiming a two-to-one lead over Hayhurst (56-29), according to the survey. The open seat election was created when Souder resigned in the wake of the revelations that he had enjoyed an extramarital affair with a female staffer.

KY-03: Yarmuth internal claims enormous Democratic lead
While it seems inevitable that several freshman and sophomore Democrats from the wave elections of 2006 and 2008 are in deep trouble, one who is apparently not imperiled is Louisville Democrat John Yarmuth. According to an internal poll from Cooper and Secrest, Yarmuth has a twenty-six point edge (58-32) over Republican Todd Lally. Yarmuth's district is certainly the bluest in Kentucky, but was held by Republican Anne Northup from 1996-2006.

NH-02: Sparks fly in competitive Dem primary
In one of the few truly competitive Democratic primaries remaining on the primary election calendar, Orange-to-Blue candidate Ann McLane Kuster is taking dead aim at rival (and Lieberman admirer) Katrina Swett over the issue of the Bush tax cuts. At issue is Swett's statement that she would have voted against the tax cuts, which flies in the face of her history of support for the cuts, which dates back to 2002.

PA-06: Is Gerlach safer than usual in swing 6th district?
Actions sometimes speak louder than words, so Democrats have to be wondering about the rather startling degree of confidence which perpetually embattled GOP incumbent Jim Gerlach is showing. Gerlach is sending money along to the NRCC to the tune of roughly $100K over the course of the cycle. He is also touting internal polling numbers from Wilson Research showing him with a two-to-one edge (54-29) over Democratic challenger Manan Trivedi. The polling numbers, in particular, are a bit hard to believe, given that Gerlach survived by only two points in 2008 against a dramatically outfunded and outgunned Democratic challenger that received little national assistance.

RACE FOR THE HOUSE: The DCCC ad buys continue to pile up
In addition to the sixty or so districts that had already been identified as locations where the DCCC would be reserving advertising time, the D-Trip added another twenty seats to the shopping list. The good news for fans of an aggressive Democratic campaign is the fact that a half-dozen of those districts are Republican-held seats where the DCCC is planning on playing some offense. This includes three open seats (DE-AL, FL-25, and IL-10), as well as a trio of GOP incumbents (Djou in HI-01, Cao in LA-02, and Dent in PA-15). There are also a couple of defensive buys that might make folks a bit concerned, as they are seats that no one necessarily thought of as pure toss-ups. Fitting that bill are incumbent Kurt Schrader (OR-05) as well as the open seat in MA-10, where Bill Delahunt is retiring.

THE GUBERNATORIAL RACES

GA-Gov: Deal the subject of federal grand jury investigation?
This is the kind of thing that has a funny tendency to blow up successful election ventures: the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported late last night that a federal grand jury sought both documents and interviews related to the business practices of former Congressman (and current GOP gubernatorial candidate) Nathan Deal. Deal, you will recall, got into ethics problems in the final days of his House career by possibly using his power as a Congressman to preserve an obscure government program that was filling the coffers of his private auto-salvage business to the tune of over a quarter of a million dollars per year. He resigned from the House (obstensibly to focus on his gubernatorial bid) before the ethics committee could complete their investigation of him.

MI-Gov: New EPIC-MRA poll confirms Bernero primary surge
With less than a week to go until primary day, it looks like the late surge by Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero is legit. A new poll out today from respected local pollsters EPIC-MRA puts Bernero at an eight-point lead over state House Speaker Andy Dillon. As might be expected, the pollster notes that Bernero, almost universally considered to be the more progressive of the two candidates, is moving into a solid advantage with core Democratic constituencies.

NY-Gov: Cuomo (still) lapping the field, according to Q Poll
Quinnipiac is the latest pollster to confirm one of the most stubborn trends of the 2010 cycle, as they are about the 40th straight poll to put Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo at roughly a two-to-one advantage over the pair of Republicans trying to claim the seat. The Q poll puts Cuomo up 56-26 over former GOP Congressman Rick Lazio, and gives Cuomo an equivalent 55-25 lead over businessman Carl Paladino. As for which Republican will earn the right to get smacked around by Cuomo, Lazio has a sixteen point lead (39-23) over Paladino. This represents a tightening of the race for Paladino, who trailed by 29 points one month ago.

THE RAS-A-POLL-OOZA

How dark a day it must be for conservatives when even their most favored pollster abandons them. Even the House of Ras cannot prop up the featherweight candidacy of Sharron Angle, nor can they market a Mark Kirk surge in the wake of the beating he has taken in the press over the last few months. They can't even keep Ron Wyden under 50% anymore, it would seem. That's OK, hard core righties, the House of Ras hasn't totally abandoned you. You still have Alabama...

AL-Gov: Robert Bentley (R) 55%, Ron Sparks (D) 35%
IL-Sen: Alexi Giannoulias (D) 43%, Mark Kirk (R) 41%
NV-Sen: Sen. Harry Reid (D) 45%, Sharron Angle (R) 43%
OR-Sen: Sen. Ron Wyden (D) 51%, Jim Huffman (R) 35%

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Wed Jul 28, 2010 at 07:30 PM PDT.

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