4:15 p.m. ET: More polls, more bad news for Sarah Palin as she gets ready for her closeup at tomorrow night's debate. First the Pew poll showed that 51 percent of respondents don't think she's qualified to be president, and now a batch of state-specific surveys from Quinnipiac paint a similarly gloomy picture.
The Q-poll found that Palin's favorability rating in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania has gone down by 11, 6, and 5 points respectively in the last three weeks. Joe Biden's numbers have stayed steady, except in Florida, where his favorable rating went up 9 points. Barack Obama leads John McCain in all three states, according to the surveys, though they could well have been thrown off by the intense focus on the rescue bill (if Obama's really up 8 points in Florida and 15 in Pennsylvania, then the race might be over).
On the Hill, the Senate will vote sometime after 7:30 tonight on the ballooning financial rescue bill, while the House is now expected to vote Friday amid optimism that this crazy plan just might work. What do the markets think? The Dow is down 20 points, after rebounding from a much larger initial decline. What will stocks do tomorrow? If this blogger knew, he would be getting paid a lot more money, and he wouldn't be a blogger.
12:45 p.m. ET: The World's Greatest Deliberative Body is moving with all deliberate speed toward expected passage tonight of the financial rescue bill, albeit on a version of the measure that may attract House Republicans and repel House Democrats in equal numbers.
In advance of tonight's vote -- which Joe Biden, John McCain and Barack Obama are all expected to attend -- McCain spoke this morning in Missouri and emphasized the importance of getting a bill passed to avert "disaster." McCain played up bipartisanship and didn't even mention Obama, a shift from his strategy earlier this week of blaming Obama and his "allies" for the bill's failure in the House.
As for Debate Watch, Sarah Palin is busily prepping for tomorrow night's battle, even as a new Pew poll shows some alarming numbers for the GOP ticket: The percentage of respondents saying that Palin is not qualified to be president jumped from 39 to 51 in just the last two weeks. What can she do to halt that trend in St. Louis?
Downballot, all eyes are on the Senate vote and the coming second House vote to see how the most vulnerable incumbent lawmakers cast their ballots. New survey data suggests a handful of key Senate races have gotten more difficult for the GOP in recent days. Is this just a rescue bill-related blip, or an early warning that Democrats are in position to snag a host of seats in November? Either way, Republicans are itching to get out of Washington and back onto the campaign trail to find out.
8 a.m. ET: There may be no second acts in American lives, but the "rescue" package is getting a reprieve today with an expected Senate vote.
John McCain and Barack Obama will also get the chance to play a more constructive role in determining the bill's fate than they did last week -- they can show up today and vote for it. Both men have also been calling House members of their respective parties to encourage them to vote yes next time around. Why, you might be wondering, didn't they do this BEFORE Monday's meltdown? Let's not look backwards. As McCain would say, now is not the time to affix blame.
Meanwhile, it's T-Minus 37 hours until Joe Biden and Sarah Palin meet in St. Louis. Part XLII of Palin's interview with Katie Couric aired last night (does Palin only do marathon interviews?), with Palin making a few noteworthy comments on experience, abortion, homosexuality, global warming and even the media. Expectations are low for the Alaska governor, but anticipation is high for great political theater.
Before they head back to the Senate to do their day jobs, Republican McCain will be speaking in Missouri and Democrat Obama will be in Wisconsin, while Bill Clinton -- who has been off-message a bit lately -- will stump for the Democratic ticket in Florida.
October 1, 2008; 8:00 AM ET
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