With 26 days left until Election Day, the Democrats are still precariously close to losing the Senate, and the House is still looking like a Republican takeover. Democrats are denying that the enthusiasm gap will be an issue while at the same time setting exceptionally high expectations for the GOP, and the Republicans continue to pound away on the sputtering economy. Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, a congressional candidate can't shake a notorious strip-search incident from 1991.
National Polls and Projections
The Daily Beast's Election Oracle: Senate 51-49 Dems; House 221-214 GOP
CQ Politics: Senate 48-44 Dems (8 toss-up); House 211-190 (34 toss-ups)
Real Clear Politics: Senate 48-46 Dems (6 Toss-ups); House 210-186 GOP (39 toss-ups)
Five Thirty Eight: Senate 51.7-48.1 Dems; House 224.3-210.7 GOP
According to the Times, "Democrats are working hard in the closing weeks of the campaign to convince voters that a conservative social agenda is waiting in the wings ... should Republicans be elected in large numbers." Specifically, that abortion rights are in danger. Take this ad from NARAL Pro-Choice New York against Carl Paladino, for example. The Democrats hope that fears of abortion restrictions will distract voters from the lousy economy.
Robert Gibbs said in his daily briefing today that the enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans is closing.
And despite talk of a late Democratic surge, Obama adviser David Plouffe is attempting to raise expectations for the GOP today to basically unreachable heights. "By their definition, success is winning back the House, winning back the Senate and winning every major governor's race," he said. "When you've got winds this strong in your favor, that's the kind of election you need to have — or it should be considered a colossal failure." In other words, the Democrats will have "won" even if they lose the House and see their majority in the Senate drastically reduced. Okay ...
House Minority Leader John Boehner is touting a poll that shows President Obama's approval rating on the economy dropping to only 38 percent, and tweets about Gallup's finding that unemployment shot up to 10.1 percent in September. The NRSC linked to a poll in the Hill that showed that Republicans are more "passionate" about voting this year.
Eye on ...
Jeff Perry, a former police officer running as the Republican nominee for this Cape Cod seat, is the target of a new ad by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that calls into question his role in two pervy strip searches of teenage girls by another officer years ago, which has been an issue throughout the campaign. Perry is accused of ignoring and/or trying to cover up the incidents, which took place in 1991 and 1992. Partially because of this stain on his reputation, the race in the most conservative district in Massachusetts is leaning toward the Democrat, Bill Keating.
Apparently Republicans are already "speculating about what comes next" for Ben Quayle, the son of former vice-president Dan Quayle who creeps us out with his calm, quiet rage and hasn't even won his first race yet (although he probably will soon). Quayle denies that the House is a stepping stone to larger ambitions, though, telling Politico that he's not a "lifer" and would like to return to the private sector at some point.
In a three-way debate last night, Democrat Kendrick Meek and Republican turned Independent Charlie Crist ganged up on Republican Marco Rubio in an attempt to cast him as too far-right for Florida. Crist alleged that Rubio has been "drinking too much tea — and it's wrong," while Meek alleged that Rubio wants "to take us back to Dick Cheney days." Rubio just announced a big $5 million fund-raising haul in the third quarter and has a stable and comfortable lead in the race, with Crist and Meek splitting the liberal and moderate vote between them.