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Senate Republicans seek to link Michael Bennet to Obama, Pelosi

1. The National Republican Senatorial Committee is going up with a new ad in Colorado that casts appointed Sen. Michael Bennet (D) as the "deciding vote" for Democrats on the health care law and the economic stimulus package and aims to link the incumbent to President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.).

"One vote makes a difference," says the ad's narrator before hitting Bennet for supporting "Obama's stimulus that wasted billions" and the "the trillion dollar health care bill that slashed Medicare, hurting seniors".

As an image of a smiling Obama and Pelosi is shown on screen, the narrator says of Bennet: "He's been their vote, not Colorado's."

The ad, the NRSC's second in the pivotal swing state, is a sign of the times. Obama carried Colorado by nine points in 2008, a sweeping victory that punctuated across-the-board gains for Democrats in the state over the last four years.

But, Republicans always insisted that the state was not as Democratic as it voted in 2006 and 2008, and in the last 20 months, the pendulum has swung back to their side somewhat.

In a poll conducted late last month for the NRSC by Whit Ayres, 44 percent approved of the job Obama was doing while 51 percent disapproved; that same survey showed Buck with a 50 percent to 42 percent lead over Bennet.

That poll is slightly more optimistic for Republicans than most other data out there; the Real Clear Politics average of polls in the race puts Buck up four points.

Bennet, since winning a surprisingly strong primary victory in August, has attacked Buck relentlessly as out of step with the state's voters -- highlighting Buck's past statements raising questions about Social Security and the Department of Education among other things.

Both sides are competing for the moderate and independent voters who make the critical difference in Colorado elections. Will those voters be swayed by talk of Buck's extremism or by Bennet's ties to Obama? It's a dynamic playing out in a number of contested Senate races across the country.

2. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has extended its television buy in Connecticut, adding $1.2 million for the final three weeks of the campaign, according to buyers who monitor ad traffic in the state.

The expenditure comes on top of $250,000 the committee has already spent on the race even as a series of polls show state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) opening with a double-digit lead on former WWE CEO Linda McMahon (R).

It might seem unusual for a committee to up its investment in a state that's looking solidly on their side but Democrats aren't taking any chances in Connecticut -- one of their firewall states to keep their majority -- and there are some special circumstances there.

Blumenthal will be severely outspent down the stretch, thanks to McMahon's tens of millions in personal wealth. No matter how much Blumenthal can raise, he will be swamped on the airwaves, and the DSCC buy should help offset that somewhat.

The airwaves in the Nutmeg State are also filling up fast thanks to the bevy of competitive races there. Putting money down early guarantees the committee will be able to fight back down the stretch, should McMahon regain some momentum.

After a Quinnipiac University poll showed Blumenthal's lead shrinking to three points last month, three subsequent surveys have shown him with a much more comfortable margin.

3. A new independent poll shows former Rep. Pat Toomey (R) holding a seven-point lead on Rep. Joe Sestak (D) in the open seat Pennsylvania Senate race.

The Allentown Morning Call poll, conducted by Muhlenberg College, shows Toomey at 45 percent and Sestak at 38.

Just about every recent poll has shown Toomey's lead in the mid-to-high single digits. He led Sestak 46 percent to 39 percent in a Muhlenberg poll released two weeks ago.

National Democrats have spent heavily on ads hitting Toomey for his connections to Wall Street and insist the race has tightened.

In the state's governor's race, Attorney General Tom Corbett (R) leads Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato (D) 47 percent to 36 percent in the Morning Call survey.

Democrats' problems, according to the poll, are centered on a poor politicsl environment. Fully 52 percent of respondents disapprove of the job President Obama is doing in the Morning Call poll -- a stunning turnaround in a state that he won easily in 2008.

4. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D) is up with a new TV ad in which he touts his record of working on behalf of the state and directly takes on his Republican rival -- controversial businessman Carl Paladino.

"As attorney general, Andrew Cuomo has taken on the tough fights and won," the ad's narrator says. "Now, he has a detailed plan to bring real fiscal discipline to New York, cut agencies and authorities by 20 percent, eliminate the deficit. No new taxes. That will create jobs, and Andrew Cuomo can get it done."

The ad then turns to Paladino, a tea party favorite who upset former Rep. Rick Lazio last month to win the GOP nod.

"Carl Paladino has no plan, no experience, and his 'anger is not a governing strategy,'" the narrator says, a reference to a Buffalo News editorial last month. (New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg also used the phrase when he endorsed Cuomo last month.)

The ad comes as a new Siena University poll shows Cuomo leading Paladino 56 percent to 32 percent among likely voters.

Sixty-one percent of those polled by Siena said they agreed with the statement that Paladino "is a loose cannon who doesn't have the temperament to be a governor," while only 42 percent said they agree with the statement that Cuomo "is too much of an Albany insider to effectively reform state government."

Cuomo is a clear favorite in November.

5. New independent polling in California shows Democrats leading in the Golden State's gubernatorial and Senate contests.

The Reuters/Ipsos survey shows state Attorney General Jerry Brown (D) ahead of former eBay CEO Meg Whitman (R) 50 percent to 43 percent among likely voters. Worth noting: the poll is one of few that shows an enthusiasm gap that favors the Democratic candidate. (Among registered voters, Brown takes 48 percent to Whitman's 42 percent.)

The poll shows Brown taking 38 percent of registered independents - a key voting bloc in the state -- while Whitman takes 32 percent and 14 percent are undecided.

Whitman's camp released an internal poll Tuesday showing Brown taking 43 percent to Whitman's 41 percent (among voters considered most likely to vote, the poll showed the two tied at 44 percent). The internal poll also shows Whitman taking 30 percent among Latino voters to Brown's 45 percent. Those numbers indicate that Whitman remains broadly competitive with Brown among Latinos despite the recent controversy surrounding the immigrations status of a former personal employee.

In the Senate race, the Reuters/Ipsos poll shows Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) takes 49 percent to former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina's (R) 45 percent among likely voters.

In contrast to the gubernatorial race, the enthusiasm gap in the Senate race favors Republicans: when registered voters are surveyed, Boxer leads 48 percent to 42 percent.

Fiorina went up with her latest TV ad in the race Tuesday in coordination with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, a 30-second spot claiming that "California cannot afford Boxer for six more long years."

Boxer, meanwhile, made an appearance on ABC's "The View" earlier this week in which she said that Fiorina "is not rising" in the polls. "I'm rising in the polls at the moment," Boxer said. "This is a hard and tough race."

With Aaron Blake and Felicia Sonmez

By Chris Cillizza  | October 6, 2010; 7:45 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Fix  
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