President Obama, uniter (of Republicans)
1. Just eight percent of Republicans approve of the job President Barack Obama is doing in office, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News national poll, a stark indication of the hyper-partisan climate heading into the Nov. 2 election.
Obama is only the second president to hit single-digit job approval with the opposition party in the history of Post/ABC polling. (It will come as no surprise to political junkies to learn that George W. Bush was the first.) Ninety percent of self identified Republicans disapprove of how he is handling his office; roughly three quarters of all self identified GOPers "strongly" disapprove.
Despite that near-unified opposition from Republicans, a majority -- 50 percent -- of voters overall approve of the jobs Obama is doing, numbers buoyed by some gains among independents (49 percent approve/49 percent disapprove) since the last Post/ABC survey. (Eight in ten Democrats approve of the job Obama is doing.)
The story is the same when voters are asked about Obama's handling of the economy. A meager seven percent of Republicans offered their approval while a whopping 79 percent (!) strongly disapproved.
Much of the enthusiasm gap that Republicans still enjoy with four weeks left before the midterms can be ascribed to this unified distaste for the sitting president. In that regard, the 2010 election is beginning to look just like the 2006 midterms when Democrats were united in their disapproval of Bush's presidency and determined to send the president a message.
It remains to be seen how and whether this opposition will fade or evolve if Republicans take back control of one or both legislative chambers heading into the 2012 presidential election but at the moment a shared dislike for President Obama has united a party that less than two years ago looked fractious beyond all reckoning.
2. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) has an 11-point lead over former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon (R) in a new Democratic poll obtained by The Fix.
Blumenthal led 52 percent to 41 percent in the Hamilton Campaigns survey, which was conducted for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
The DSCC result echoes another poll released Monday, from Democratic-leaning automated pollster Public Policy Polling, that showed an almost identical result: Blumenthal 53 percent, McMahon 41 percent.
Both polls comes as the race has taken on new life with McMahon's campaign releasing a hard-hitting new ad rehashing Blumenthal's misstatements about his service during the Vietnam War and the two candidates facing off in a debate last night.
For now, McMahon is the one drawing much more negative reactions from voters. The DSCC poll shows her with a 47 percent favorable rating and a 50 percent unfavorable rating -- both far worse than Blumenthal's 58 percent favorable rating and 39 percent unfavorable.
President Obama maintains solid ratings in the state, at 56 percent favorable and 44 percent unfavorable in the DSCC poll. A recent Quinnipiac University poll showed an electorate less predisposed to supporting Obama; his approval rating stood at 49 percent while 48 percent disapproved.
3. Attorney Joe Miller (R) is going up with a new TV ad in the Alaska Senate race in coordination with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, a positive spot that highlights Miller's bio.
"West Point graduate. Husband. Dad. He chose Alaska as his home," the narrator of the 30-second ad says, adding that Miller served as a tank commander for the U.S. Army in Iraq and was awarded the bronze star.
The spot concludes with Miller promising to "fight the incumbents' endless spending and tax hikes" and "work to free our natural resources, to lower energy costs and to create jobs for all Alaskans."
The new ad comes as the Tea Party Express, which spent heavily in support of Miller's primary defeat of Sen. Lisa Murkowski, is launching a new one-minute ad blitz against the incumbent.
The Tea Party Express spot slams Murkowski for having been appointed to the Senate by her father, former Gov. Frank Murkowski (R), and claims that Murkowski "tried to manipulate" the Libertarian Party into giving her a spot on its ticket.
"She didn't earn it," the narrator of the ad says of Murkowski's appointment to the Senate. "Lisa promised she would respect the will of the electorate in this year's election and support the winner of the Republican primary. But Lisa wasn't really willing to give up the gift her daddy gave her."
The ad concludes with the narrator saying, "You lost, Lisa. And it's time you respect that this Senate seat doesn't belong to you."
Murkowski's camp denounced the Tea Party Express ad and sent a letter to Alaska broadcasters calling on them to take down the spot. "Alaskans deserve a better political discourse than this," Murkowski said. "This ad is vile. Accusing me of influencing the absentee voter count is dirty politics at it worst."
Polls show Miller and Murkowski vying for the top spot in the three-way race. Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams is the Democratic nominee.
4. Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D) has cut into the lead of former Rep. John Kasich (R) but still trails by nine points in a new Quinnipiac University poll.
Kasich takes 50 percent to 41 percent for Strickland, down from a massive 17-point bulge that the challenger enjoyed in a Q poll conducted last month.
While Strickland and Kasich each win roughly 90 percent of their own partisans, the Republican challenger has a massive 62 percent to 29 percent edge among independent voters.
And, neither Strickland nor President Obama get glowing reviews of their job performance by Buckeye State voters. Forty percent approved of the job Strickland is doing as governor while 39 percent approved of how Obama is handling the presidency.
Democrats have insisted for the better part of the last month that the race is closing as Strickland outspends Kasich on the airwaves. The governor's allies have also argued that the Q poll is nowhere close to reality, noting that a series of recent pollls show the race tighter. (The Real Clear Politics average of polling in the contest gives Kasich a 5-point edge.)
Both national parties have spent heavily in the state, a recognition of its political importance going forward. Ohio will be a major battleground in the 2012 election and, before that, will be at the epicenter of the nationwide redistricting fight as it is slated to lose two congressional districts before the next election.
5. New independent polling in Illinois shows Democrats leading in the gubernatorial race while the race for President Obama's former Senate seat is a dead heat.
Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn leads former state Sen. Bill Brady (R) 43 percent to 37 percent in the Suffolk University poll, which surveyed 500 likely voters.
Three other candidates combined to take 11 percent. The survey marks an uptick for Quinn from a Chicago Tribune poll released last Friday in which the governor took 39 percent to Brady's 38 percent among likely voters.
Despite leading overall, the new Suffolk poll shows Quinn trailing Brady when it comes to consolidating support among members of his own party. Quinn takes 69 percent of Democrats while Brady takes 83 percent of Republicans, and the two are statistically tied among voters describing their party affiliation as "other." It's a sign of how strongly Democratic the state is that Quinn leads despite winning the support of less than seven in ten members of his own party.
Quinn has been struggling to stay above water in the race -- suffering under a series of staff departures -- and has come under blistering attacks from Brady, who released a harsh new TV ad late last week charging that Quinn "sold out" the state's voters.
Meanwhile, in the Senate race, Rep. Mark Kirk (R) takes 42 percent to 41 percent for state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D) among likely voters in the Suffolk survey.
Giannoulias is looking forward to a campaign visit by Obama this Thursday, during which the president will headline a fundraiser for his basketball-playing buddy. Obama last hosted a fundraiser for Giannoulias in August.
The Suffolk poll showed that voters' opinions of Obama in the state are generally favorable; 52 percent of likely voters view the president favorably while 41 percent view him unfavorably.
With Felicia Sonmez and Aaron Blake