The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Git-R-Done America vs. Washington


From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Git-R-Done America vs. Washington

You work hard. You pay what you think is more than enough in taxes. The economy hasn’t really felt good since 2008, but you managed to get by. If you’ve got a 401(k), it’s grown in the past few years – but the real estate bubble burned you, and the dot-com bubble burned you before that. You know that nice sum in your 401(k) could plummet without warning. What you would really like is a nice better job, so you could feel better about the amount of income coming in every month.

You’re trying to play all of your roles – worker, parent, sibling, child, friend, neighbor, parishioner, and somehow find time to take care of yourself so you don’t keel over from a heart attack. It’s tough. Time is at a premium. Speaking of which, your insurer announced your premiums are going up again. You’ve been thinking of trading in the old car, but you’re not so sure you could handle new car payments and the higher premiums.

But you get up every day and you take care of everything that needs care, because that’s who you are and what you do. You get it done. You take some pride in that. You look at your loved ones, your friends and neighbors, your colleagues, and you know that they know that they can count on you.

You kind of wonder about everybody else, though.

What’s with the Centers for Disease Control? They keep telling you “we’re going to stop Ebola in its tracks here” and then there are new cases. The NIH director seems to think he’s reassuring us by telling us “the system worked” as we learn about new infections. Then there’s that enterovirus 68 floating around, killing kids. Terrifying, heartbreaking. Hey, guys, maybe a little less time studying gun control and a little more time spent on, you know, disease control? That’s your job.

What’s going on with everybody who’s supposed to be protecting us? First Obama says “We don’t have a strategy yet” – why not? Don’t we spend billions, even trillions, on national security agencies, intelligence agencies and a Department of Defense? Isn’t somebody in those vast, expensive organizations supposed to come up with a strategy? Then he said “they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria” – isn’t that their job? Wasn’t anybody watching?

Now they’re saying the airstrikes over in Iraq and Syria aren’t doing enough, and ISIS is knocking on the door of Baghdad. Sunday morning, National Security Advisor Susan Rice said we’re not reassessing our strategy. Well, shouldn’t somebody? Just in case? Doesn’t anybody over there believe in having a Plan B? Isn’t that the job of a national security advisor?

How the hell did the top guys at the Department of Veterans Affairs not know about the wait lists and that veterans were dying, waiting for care? That’s their job.

How the heck did the federal government AND so many state governments manage to spend so much money and not build insurance-exchange websites that worked? That was their job.

The president keeps insisting that test scores are up and that college attendance is up, when it’s actually been the opposite. Obviously, the public schools aren’t good enough for his kids. He promised the moon when it came to improving schools back in 2008. Wasn’t that his job?

In your life, failure is not an option. If you don’t pick up the kids from school, they’re stuck there. If you don’t go shop for groceries, the kids don’t eat. All around you, every day, you see things that have to get done, and you do them. You don’t tell the kids, “well, our intentions were good. We tried. We had some glitches.” You don’t get to blame your predecessor or the opposition party. You don’t get to tell them, or your spouse, or your boss, that the situation is the same, as normal, and that they’re “just noticing now because of social media.”

Where is this “get it done” attitude in Washington? Every time you turn around, it’s some new excuse. Americans do not accept this kind of incompetence and unaccountability in their personal and professional lives. Why should they accept it from Washington?

Tags: Washington , Barack Obama , Culture , Bureaucrats

Liberal Group’s Ad Blames Congressional GOP for Ebola


Perfect. The tax-exempt “Agenda Project” is airing an ad declaring “Republican cuts kill,” directly blaming congressional Republicans for the Ebola outbreak:

From their even-tempered, fair-minded release:

Today the Agenda Project Action Fund launched “Republican Cuts Kill,” a multi-pronged blitzkrieg attack that lays blame for the Ebola crisis exactly where it belongs — at the feet of the Republican lawmakers. Like rabid dogs in a butcher shop, Republicans have indiscriminately shredded everything in their path, including critical programs that could have dealt with the Ebola crisis before it reached our country. Yesterday, a health worker tested positive for the virus — now, the effects of the GOP’s fanatical hatred for our government may finally be exposed.

. . . In launching this effort, we will be the first major progressive group to directly blame GOP budget cuts for the nearly 4,000 deaths caused by the Ebola crisis.

Our plan is to place a paid buy in Kentucky the week of October 18 with North Carolina, Kansas, and South Dakota to follow provided we complete the financing we need.

The NIH budget has doubled since 2000, allocations to the U.S. National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases rose to $4.3 billion in 2004 from $1.8 billion in 2000, and as Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal notes:

Consider the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a new series of annual mandatory appropriations created by Obamacare. Over the past five years, the CDC has received just under $3 billion in transfers from the fund. Yet only 6 percent — $180 million — of that $3 billion went toward building epidemiology and laboratory capacity.

Hey, could any of that $1 billion spent on been spent on vaccine research?

Tags: Ebola , Republicans , NIH


NIH Director: ‘The System Worked’ in Ebola Infection


The spirit of Janet Napolitano lives on in Washington:

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, said on Sunday the system put into place to slow the spread of Ebola transmission in the United States was working.

“The system worked,” Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week.”

On Sunday, officials in Texas announced that a second person in Dallas had tested positive for the deadly virus — a health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who cared for Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, who died last week.

“She was on voluntary self-monitoring,” he said about the latest victim. “She found she got infected, and she immediately did what she was supposed to have done.”

“So even in this troublesome situation, the system is working,” Fauci said.

Napolitano famously boasted that “the system worked” when a Nigerian bomber got onto a U.S.-bound plane on Christmas 2009.

Tags: NIH , Ebola , Janet Napolitano

Those Darn Dishonest Staff-Written Press Releases!


During a debate in Iowa Saturday, Democratic Senate candidate Bruce Braley declared, “I’ve never met Michael Bloomberg.”

Er, Congressman, either you’re lying now or your office was lying back in 2010:

Today, Congressman Bruce Braley (D-IA) spoke at the No Labels launch event held at Columbia University in New York City. The event was hosted by No Labels, a nonpartisan organization committed to encouraging leaders to move past the political labels placed upon them in an effort to seek common sense solutions to our nation’s problems. Students, citizen leaders and elected officials, on both sides of the political spectrum, gathered today with the hopes of starting a movement where people are able to move past the extreme partisanship and towards a creative, productive dialogue aimed at solving the challenges we face.

Joined by a bipartisan group of current and former elected officials, including Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I), among others, Braley called for politicians on both sides of the aisle to come together and “realize that we are most effective as a nation when we help people, not by abandoning our principles, but by coming together and having a rational, adult conversation about how we solve complex problems.”

Bruce Braley’s backers now insist the press release was the lie, and that Bloomberg was not in attendance of the event:

UPDATE: And now we know the Braley backers are factually incorrect in their categorical denials. Bloomberg was at the event; it may be that Braley and he never crossed paths:

Tags: Michael Bloomberg , Bruce Braley

Wendy Davis Ad: ‘A Tree Fell on Greg Abbott . . . He Sued and Got Millions . . .’


Heck of a closing message, Wendy Davis:

Tags: Wendy Davis , Greg Abbott , Texas


Democrats Giving Up on Mark Udall?


This is potentially huge. Senate Majority PAC — the SuperPAC aiming to help Democrats keep their Senate majority — is cancelling $289,000 worth of broadcast-television advertising next week. 

We’re reaching the time of year where party committees — and now, super PACs and outside groups — must prioritize and reallocate their resources to where they think those resources will do the most good. 

This isn’t the only big cancellation Senate Majority PAC has made recently:

Majority PAC began advertising in Colorado in March, trying to help keep Senator Mark Udall ahead of GOP challenger Cory Gardner. As of today, the group has spent $3 million in Colorado attacking Gardner

Udall led only one of the past five polls, and the only public poll conducted in October so far, by Fox News, found Gardner leading, 43 percent to 37 percent. 

UPDATE: And now… the Denver Post endorses Gardner, and is brutal in its assessment of Udall:

Rather than run on his record, Udall’s campaign has devoted a shocking amount of energy and money trying to convince voters that Gardner seeks to outlaw birth control despite the congressman’s call for over-the-counter sales of contraceptives. Udall is trying to frighten voters rather than inspire them with a hopeful vision. His obnoxious one-issue campaign is an insult to those he seeks to convince.

Democrats will insist that newspaper endorsements rarely move votes, and they’re right. But the endorsement inoculates Gardner on the accusation of extremism and sets him up with a broadly positive, optimistic closing message.

Tags: Mark Udall , Cory Gardner , Colorado , Senate Majority PAC

Obama Repeats His False Boasts About Test Scores Improving


Last night, at the $15,000-per-dinner Democratic fundraiser at Gwyneth Paltrow’s house, President Obama once again said, “Math scores up. Reading scores up. College attendance up.

As I pointed out last week, that is false, false, false. Math scores are stagnant and reading scores are slightly worse than previous years, and the number of students attending college has declined the past two years. At the very best, Obama is citing outdated statistics. At worst, he’s just saying what he wants to be true.

This may not win “Lie of the Year” or be the biggest falsehood Obama delivers in his standard fund-raising speech, but it should matter. The president goes around from millionaire’s house to millionaire’s house, insisting that schools are getting better when the evidence suggests otherwise. His casual repeating of the claim, and the widespread acceptance of the assertion, exposes that so many of politicians’ pledges on schools, education, and children are absolute feel-good, substance-free horsepuckey — “I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside.”

If you really care about school performance, you check to see how they’re actually doing. If you really care about whether kids are learning, you acknowledge the problems honestly. If you really care, you admit when the approach isn’t working, or the evidence of success isn’t conclusive.

Barack Obama and Gwyneth Paltrow and all of those wealthy Obama donors don’t really care. They just want to feel good about themselves.

Life always seems cheerier at those high-dollar California fundraisers.

Tags: Barack Obama , Education

No ID at the Ballot Box in Wisconsin and Texas? No Problem!


Oh, hey, no big deal, just judges changing the laws regarding voter identification, 24 days before Election Day:

A federal judge likened Texas’ strict voter ID requirement to a poll tax deliberately meant to suppress minority voter turnout and struck it down less than a month before Election Day, and mere hours after the U.S. Supreme Court blocked a similar Wisconsin measure . . . 

U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi on Texas’ Gulf Coast, an appointee of President Barack Obama, never signaled during a two-week trial in September that she intended to rule on the Texas law before Election Day. But the timing could spare an estimated 13.6 million registered Texas voters from needing photo identification to cast a ballot. . . . 

In the Wisconsin case, the Supreme Court used a one-page order to grant an emergency stay sought by the American Civil Liberties Union and blocked implementation of the state’s voter ID law — overturning a decision by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals three days earlier.

This seems to be quite a shift in the justices’ thinking from just six years ago:

The Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s voter-identification law on Monday, declaring that a requirement to produce photo identification is not unconstitutional and that the state has a “valid interest” in improving election procedures as well as deterring fraud.

In a 6-to-3 ruling in one of the most awaited election-law cases in years, the court rejected arguments that Indiana’s law imposes unjustified burdens on people who are old, poor or members of minority groups and less likely to have driver’s licenses or other acceptable forms of identification. Because Indiana’s law is considered the strictest in the country, similar laws in the other 20 or so states that have photo-identification rules would appear to have a good chance of surviving scrutiny.

Tags: Wisconsin , Texas , Voter ID

The Hardened Cocoon of Entitlement Around Our National Elites


In today’s Morning Jolt:

President Obama Reaches Out to Working Moms like Gwyneth Paltrow

Of course:

[Hollywood star Gwyneth] Paltrow called the president’s push for equal pay “very important to me as a working mother.”

Even Politico couldn’t stifle a chuckle at the irony in her remarks, held at a $1,000 per ticket — $15,000 for dinner — DNC fundraiser at Paltrow’s house:

Gwyneth Paltrow wants President Barack Obama to know: she’s just like everyone else.

She makes $16 million per movie, sure, but that doesn’t mean that she’s not worried about Obama getting equal pay legislation through Congress.

Caleb Howe notes Paltrow’s reference to herself as “a working mother” and adds, “after which the collective guffaw from armies of au pairs and nannies in LA and Manhattan briefly set the planet Earth off its rotational axis.”

Politico helpfully reminded readers of the last time Paltrow discussed her particular difficulties and challenges as a “working mother”, and why they’re so much more difficult for her than non-celebrity moms:

Paltrow took heat earlier this year when, announcing her “conscious uncoupling” from Coldplay singer Chris Martin, she cited the strains on their marriage that she said were “much harder for me” than the average working parent.

“I think it’s different when you have an office job, because it’s routine and, you know, you can do all the stuff in the morning and then you come home in the evening,” Paltrow said then.

There is a hardened cocoon of entitlement, self-absorption, and self-pity around many of our national elites.

Any gender pay disparities at Stark Industries?

Tags: Barack Obama , Gwyneth Paltrow

Joni Ernst Completes Monster Fundraising Quarter


Day by day, you can feel the momentum and conventional wisdom shift in the Iowa Senate race:

Today, the Joni Ernst for Senate campaign announced that it raised approximately $6 million in the third quarter, more than doubling the total raised by her opponent, Congressman Bruce Braley, and setting an all-time Iowa record for the amount raised by a statewide candidate in one quarter.

A campaign’s fundraising isn’t the end-all and be-all of campaigns anymore, with the explosion of outside groups running their own television ads and get-out-the-vote operations.

But it is revealing that someone like Andrea Mitchell would say flatly, “Bruce Braley has turned out to be a terrible candidate.” As the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza added, “In many ways, it is the candidate that is hurting Democrats. Joni Ernst, to her credit, has turned out to be a suprisingly good candidate, much more average Joe or Jane than Braley has come across.”

The Des Moines Register will release a new poll of this race tomorrow.

Is Joni Ernst the biggest GOP star of the cycle?

Tags: Joni Ernst , Bruce Braley

‘While ISIS Grew, Obama Did Nothing. Hagan Did Cocktails.’


Over on the Corner, our Joel Gehrke details how Senator Kay Hagan, North Carolina Democrat, admitted after a debate earlier this week that she attended a fundraiser rather than a classified hearing on the threat of ISIS.

But not just any fundraiser. A cocktail party. If this happened in a novel, you would roll your eyes at the cliché.

Earlier, we examined Thom Tillis’s folksy, quasi-biographical ads that had run through late September, and wondered aloud if they were tough enough.

Take a look at Thom Tillis’s tough ad: “Cocktail party.”

“Hagan admits she prioritized a cocktail party to benefit her campaign. While ISIS grew, Obama did nothing. Hagan did cocktails. To change policies, change your senator.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Thom Tillis , Kay Hagan , ISIS

Obama May Simply Ignore Congress on Guantanamo Bay


President Obama prepares for impending Republican control of Congress by taking an additional step to ensure Congress no longer has a role in writing national policy.

The White House is drafting options that would allow President Barack Obama to close the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by overriding a congressional ban on bringing detainees to the U.S., senior administration officials said.

Such a move would be the latest and potentially most dramatic use of executive power by the president in his second term. It would likely provoke a sharp reaction from lawmakers, who have repeatedly barred the transfer of detainees to the U.S.

There is no wiggle room on this one; the position of a strong majority of Congress is exceedingly clear. Back in 2009, the Democrat-controlled Senate voted 90 to 6 to remove funding for the transfer of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to U.S. facilities. Every defense authorization bill since then has included language banning the transfer of the prisoners to the United States.

Nor is Congress defying the public’s will on this issue:

Twenty-nine percent of Americans support closing the terrorist detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and moving its prisoners to U.S. prisons, while two in three (66%) oppose the idea. . . . Despite the president’s continued commitment to its closure, Americans’ views have not changed much in the four times Gallup has asked them about this issue.

But a second-term president in his final two years, who’s already suffered losses in the midterms, can’t be punished any further at the ballot box after Louisiana’s runoff. After that, he’ll just do what he pleases, regardless of Congress or public opinion, certain that history will judge him as the right one.

Those Greek columns at the 2008 Denver Democratic National Convention really were fit for a king, weren’t they?

Tags: Barack Obama , Guantanamo Bay

Chuck Todd on Grimes: ‘I Think She Disqualified Herself.’


The gang at MSNBC’s Morning Joe rips into Democratic Senate candidate Allison Lundergan Grimes for refusing to say whether she voted for Barack Obama or not:

Chuck Todd:

Kentuckians expect her to cast a tough vote on anything? Is she ever going to answer a tough question on anything? You want to be a U.S. senator? If you can’t say, if you can’t find a way to stand behind your party’s president — you can disagree with him — but you can’t answer that basic question? And you come across looking that ridiculous? I think she disqualified herself. I really do.

By the way, this is a good example of how Chuck Todd, while by no means a conservative, is enough of a straight shooter that conservatives ought to applaud him, or at least give him a chance as the new host of Meet the Press. When a Democrat flops and looks silly, Todd says the Democrat flopped and looked silly.

Could anyone picture David Gregory saying that one of the Democrats’ biggest hopes for the cycle “disqualified herself” in the final weeks of an election?

Tags: Alison Lundergan Grimes , Kentucky , Mitch McConnell

Mark Udall Encounters War-on-Women Jiu-Jitsu


Why do Democrats oppose over-the-counter contraception? Why does this possibility — which confounds their “Republicans want to take away your birth control” narrative — discombobulate them so thoroughly?

Things got rowdy last night in Colorado, when Representative Cory Gardner, Republican, asked Senator Mark Udall whether he supports making contraception available over the counter.

Udall attempted to begin with a counter-question, spurring the audience to hoot and laugh.

“The way you proposed to have access to over-the-counter coverage is the wrong way to approach the —”

“So do you support over-the-counter contraception?”

“It’s the wrong way to proceed! It’s the wrong way to proceed! I wouldn’t proceed by removing the coverage that women now have so they’re supported equally!”

“So you would support over-the-counter contraception?”

“I answered your question.”

“No, you didn’t.”

Tags: Cory Gardner , Mark Udall

The DCCC Gives Up on Stopping Barbara Comstock


We have reached the time of year where the party committees have to prioritize, and the longer-shot challengers and competitors suddenly feel the rug pulled out from under them. Tough luck, John Foust. She’s not quite congresswoman-elect Barbara Comstock . . . but it’s a great indicator of momentum:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has canceled its television advertising in a competitive northern Virginia House district and will shift most of that money to help an incumbent in northern California, according to a Democrat who monitors media buys.

The sum of the DCCC’s cancellation in Virginia’s 10th District was $2.8 million, according to the source. Democrats were on the offensive in the open-seat race to replace retiring Rep. Frank R. Wolf, R-Va.

The editors of NRO wrote:

It is not often that National Review expressly encourages donations to a candidate, but we urge you to support Barbara Comstock. You can contribute to her campaign here. It will be one of your best investments of the 2014 midterms.

It now looks like a safer investment as well!

Tags: Barbara Comstock , DCCC

Do Conservatives Fear Winning Elections Won’t Make a Real Difference?


Republicans are on the verge of taking the Senate and are expected to gain some more seats in the House, and reelect most of their governors.

So why do so many conservatives feel disgruntled, disappointed, bored, or frustrated with politics at the moment?

Republicans look around, see a country and world in chaos, and don’t understand why they’re not seeing a broad, angry reaction to President Obama and his allies in Congress. As far as we’re concerned, we’ve been vindicated by events. Leaving no troops in Iraq — “combat forces” or not — left a vacuum for ISIS. The prospects for Afghanistan aren’t much more promising. Far from being “on the run,” the Islamist threat is spreading and intensifying.

Forget that 5.9 percent unemployment rate; most Americans are gripped by deep, far-reaching, deeply embedded economic pessimism. Wages are stagnant. There’s a strange lack of hiring even as posted job openings increase. The biggest incentive for private industry is to pay sufficient tribute to the political class; lobbying Washington remains a $3 billion–a–year industry, as the incentives for crony capitalism and favor-seeking remain as strong as ever. A budget deficit of $486 billion is considered a good sign.

Democrats will boast that Obamacare has reduced the number of Americans without insurance — without providing affordable insurance for everyone, as it promised — and ignore the fact that this has mostly been done by expanding Medicaid. (The issue of entitlements will be kicked down the road, once again.) The promises about keeping plans and doctors were, as skeptics charged, cynical happy talk; ill-informed liberals are shocked to learn their premiums are going up.

Most conservatives have been calling for tougher and more-thorough border security for years. This summer we saw the humanitarian crisis of tens of thousands of children crossing the border. Now there are persistent rumors of ISIS trying to come across the border from Mexico; even if the rumors don’t pan out, we’ve been hearing for months about the number of ISIS fighters with Western passports who could easily slip into the country.

In a highly symbolic symbol of rot at the top, a series of stories in the Washington Post revealed embarrassing mistakes and cover-ups at the U.S. Secret Service. Now a new allegation claims investigators were pressured “to remove information that could have been embarrassing to [the Department of Homeland Security] and/or to the Obama Administration in an election year.” Allegedly not even a 25-year-old aide can be held accountable for unacceptable behavior, if his father is a major Democratic donor.

The president asserts that test scores and college enrollment are up and his audiences applaud, oblivious to the fact that the most recent figures indicate the opposite.

Take your pick; there’s no shortage of things to be outraged about. Hundreds of millions wasted on state insurance exchanges that don’t work. The IRS abuses. Lois Lerner, refusing to answer questions from Congress. No one at the State Department getting fired over the security decisions leading up to Benghazi. Assurances about Ebola that don’t pan out.

Republicans are ‘blah’ about the midterms because they’ve lost faith that winning them will make a difference. Obama’s contempt for Congress, and lack of interest in working with it on his true priorities, is obvious. He’s pledged to unilaterally rewrite immigration enforcement to suit his needs. Large chunks of Obamacare are adjusted, nullified, improvised, and revised on the fly with no change to the written law. The president begins wars without waiting for any authorization for the use of military force. The U.S. attorney general is held in contempt of Congress with no real consequence.

No one can blame conservatives for being frustrated to the point of fury. But if American rank-and-file conservatives and Republicans conclude that the game is rigged, that it’s not worth playing, and withdraw from political life . . . then that will be the ultimate triumph of this president.

Tags: Conservatism

A Tiny Bit of Law-Breaking by Iowa Democrats


Also in today’s Jolt:

A Tiny Bit of Law-Breaking by Iowa Democrats

Out in Iowa, the state Democratic party released a web video of Senator Tom Harkin filling out his early-vote ballot:

Macintosh HD:Users:jimgeraghty:Desktop:Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 7.27.59 AM.png

According to this news report in Iowa, “taking photos or video of your own marked ballot is illegal in Iowa.”

The law declares: “The use of cameras, cellular telephones, pagers, or other electronic communications devices in the voting booth is prohibited.” The Iowa Democratic party may argue that because Harkin isn’t inside a voting booth, they’re in the clear. But if the law aims to prevent taking pictures of completed ballots, and it’s illegal to take picture of the ballot in the booth on Election Day . . . why is it okay to take a picture of the completed ballot for absentee voting?

Tags: Tom Harkin , Iowa , Democrats

A Cause for Cautious Optimism about the GOP’s Midterm Prospects


Over at Hot Air, Guy Benson is cheerier about the GOP’s midterm prospects.

The CNN poll of Alaska out this morning, putting Republican Dan Sullivan up 6 among likely voters (and hitting 50 percent!) is a good sign. Despite all the discussion about the southern-state races, Mark Begich might be the most vulnerable Senate Democratic incumbent. He’s trailed in every poll since the beginning of August. Polling in Alaska is allegedly more difficult than in other states, but you figure if Begich was leading, at least one of the past five polls would show him with more than 44 percent. One wrinkle to keep an eye on: “The Begich ground game — which the senator and his campaign detailed for the first time to The Washington Post — is on a scale far beyond anything that has been tried here before.”

In Arkansas, Mark Pryor has led only two of the last 15 polls. As in Alaska, Democrats are pulling out all the stops (and trying some new ones) in their get-out-the-vote effort here. While you can’t quite write off Pryor, an incumbent polling in the mid-to-low 40s — and sometimes high 30s! — in early October is in deep trouble.

In Georgia’s Senate race, David Purdue continues to enjoy a consistent, small lead. Peach State Republicans probably ought to take the close polls earlier this year as a warning shot — thanks to changing demographics, Georgia is no longer an ironclad, take-it-to-the-bank red state.

The two polls in Kansas showing GOP incumbent senator Pat Roberts ahead are the best news for the GOP in a long time. This may reflect the “all hands on deck” campaign effort from Republicans, including everyone from Jeb Bush to Ted Cruz to Sarah Palin to Bob Dole — or simply political reality catching up to so-called “independent” Greg Orman, who refuses to say which party he’ll caucus with if elected. Voters may claim to love “independence,” but they may not be so enamored of a candidate who refuses to say where he stands or what he believes is best for the state.

Keep in mind — if the GOP keeps Kansas, sweeps the easy three (Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia) and wins Alaska and Arkansas, they will have 50 Senate seats. So they’ll need one more to win control of the Senate.

Perhaps most intriguingly, incumbent Democrat Mark Udall has led only one of the past five polls in Colorado. Only one of those polls was conducted in October, though, a Fox News poll putting Republican Cory Gardner up by 6 points.

The Suffolk poll in North Carolina is one of the best for Thom Tillis in a long while. Forget the headlines saying the poll has Hagan ahead by 2; the raw response totals are 227 responses for incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan, 225 for Tillis. Note that of the 27 who answered “undecided,” 2 said they were leaning to Tillis, 7 for Hagan. Tillis’s inability to overtake Hagan, in a state where Obama is so unpopular, represents one of the great frustrations for Republicans this cycle. This might be closing up, but if Tillis wins on Election Day, it doesn’t look like it will be by many percentage points.

You’re seeing more confidence among Republicans as they discuss Joni Ernst in Iowa . . . Chris Matthews declared after her debate, “She’s no lightweight” and David Axelrod said, “She’s got momentum, she’s got charisma.”

Overall, the “voter engagement” measurement appears to favor Republicans . . . 

Usually, Republicans vote at higher rates than Democrats, and this is evident in higher scores for Republicans than for Democrats on the voter engagement questions, including this year. In fact, the Republican advantages on each of the three turnout measures at this point approach what Gallup measured in the strong GOP year of 2010 rather than in other midterm election years. As a result, even if overall turnout is depressed compared with prior years, Republicans appear poised to turn out in greater numbers than Democrats . . . 

But keep in mind that Gallup is polling nationally, and the highest-stakes fights of 2014 are in those key Senate races (and maybe some of those governor’s races).

Tags: Midterms , Polling

Is There an ISIS Threat on the Texas-Mexico Border or Not?


From the Thursday Morning Jolt:

Is There an ISIS Threat on the Texas-Mexico Border or Not?

Yesterday we noted the surprising statement from Representative Duncan Hunter, Republican of California, that “at least ten ISIS fighters have been caught coming across the border in Texas” by the U.S. Border Patrol.

That statement generated a pretty firm denial from DHS Wednesday:

“The suggestion that individuals who have ties to ISIL have been apprehended at the Southwest border is categorically false, and not supported by any credible intelligence or the facts on the ground,” a DHS spokesman said in a statement today. “DHS continues to have no credible intelligence to suggest terrorist organizations are actively plotting to cross the southwest border.”

But then a few hours later, the government watchdog group Judicial Watch released a shocking statement with some more specific claims about ISIS members being caught — but with no named sources attached to it:

Islamic terrorists have entered the United States through the Mexican border and Homeland Security sources tell Judicial Watch that four have been apprehended in the last 36 hours by federal authorities and the Texas Department of Public Safety in McAllen and Pharr.

Judicial Watch’s release also noted:

In late August JW reported that Islamic terrorist groups are operating in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez and planning to attack the United States with car bombs or other vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED). High-level federal law enforcement, intelligence and other sources confirmed to JW that a warning bulletin for an imminent terrorist attack on the border has been issued. Agents across a number of Homeland Security, Justice and Defense agencies have all been placed on alert and instructed to aggressively work all possible leads and sources concerning this imminent terrorist threat.

Because we haven’t heard about any car bombs in cities near the U.S.-Mexican border, one might conclude this is merely chatter and rumors.

But then there’s this wrinkle, from KVIA, the ABC affiliate in El Paso, Texas, August 31, 2014:

Fort Bliss officials announced Sunday morning that several recent security concerns have forced them to increase security at the entry gates.

Officials told ABC-7 that their concern for safety will affect vehicle, motorcycle, bicycle and pedestrian access to the installation through 5 a.m. Tuesday morning.

ABC-7 asked Fort Bliss spokesperson Lt. Col. Lee Peters if this was related to the alleged Islamic State threat in Juarez.

He said, “Based on [Department of Defense] guidance from recent nationwide incidents, and our own internal assessments coupled with recent media reporting, we decided to implement increased security measures on Bliss. These changes are not as a result of a specific threat but rather to simply get prudent security measures in place to protect our military, employees and visitors.”

Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, is directly across the border from Ciudad Juarez:

So apparently someone in our government was indeed on alert about “several recent security concerns” in late summer.

UPDATE: In today’s Washington Post, another embarrassing scandal story for the U.S. Secret Service:

“We were directed at the time . . . to delay the report of the investigation until after the 2012 election,” David Nieland, the lead investigator on the Colombia case for the DHS inspector general’s office, told Senate staffers, according to three people with knowledge of his statement.

So the Department of Homeland Security wants us to trust them when they say there’s no evidence for a congressman’s claim of a dangerous threat at the border . . . the day before we learn that the same DHS told its inspector general to delay an investigation for political reasons. Rather difficult to take them at their word, hmm?

Tags: ISIS , Mexico

‘Mark Udall and Barack Obama Golf Together . . .’


“Freedom Partners Action Fund” unveils a new ad hitting Senator Mark Udall; they’ll be spending $1.5 million to show this in Colorado:

Tags: Mark Udall , Barack Obama , Colorado


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