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There’s Still A Senate Race In Louisiana, And It’s Getting Ugly

Democrats had a miserable Election Day, but they still have a chance to salvage one more win from the midterms. Because no candidate won over 50 percent of the vote in Louisiana’s Senate election, the race has advanced to a December 6 runoff between Democratic senator Mary Landrieu and Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy. And, with nothing left to lose, Landrieu is pulling out all the stops.

On Sunday, Landrieu’s campaign released a new ad featuring footage of an awkward Cassidy struggling through a speech to the Repbulican Leadership Conference in May.

Although the ad does note Cassidy’s support for the Ryan budget, it mainly focuses on his poor speaking skills, which the narrator slams as “nearly incoherent.”

“We’d lose Mary Landrieu’s clout for this?” the narrator asks, as an onscreen graphic invites viewers to watch the entire speech.

The ad follows one of the central themes of Landrieu’s re-election campaign. The three-term incumbent has argued that, as the top Democrat on the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Louisiana needs her experience more than it needs to rebuke President Obama by sending a Republican to Washington. Ironically, after Democrats’ lack of enthusiasm doomed many of their candidates on Election Day, Landrieu is hoping that Republicans will see voting for Cassidy again as a less urgent task now that a Republican Senate majority is assured.

Landrieu’s odds appear to be long. Although Landrieu’s campaign is still running ads like the one above, the Democratic Sentaorial Campaign Committee pulled the plug on its planned ad spending on her behalf. By contrast, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has reserved $2.3 million worth of ad time between now and the runoff election, and conservative outside groups are spending millions more to put Cassidy over the top.

Cassidy is a strong favorite to win on December 6. After splitting the conservative vote with fellow Republican Rob Maness on Nov. 4 — Cassidy won 42 percent of the state, while Manness won 14 percent — Cassidy is consolidating GOP support. No polling on the runoff has been released since the first round of voting, but the Real Clear Politics average of pre-election polls finds Cassidy leading Landrieu by 4.8 percent in a head-to-head matchup.

Screenshot: YouTube

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WATCH: GOP Fearmongering Jumps The Shark

For most of the buildup to the midterm elections, Republicans planned to focus their campaigns around a single talking point: Obamacare is a disaster. That didn’t work out. But in the final days of the race, the GOP has rallied around another unifying theme: Vote Republican, or you’re going to die.

That’s the basic message that many Republican candidates are pitching, to varying degrees of ridiculousness.

On Monday, the Republican National Committee joined in on the fun with the following closing argument:

“ISIS gaining ground. Terrorists committing mass murder. Ebola inside the U.S. Americans alarmed about national security. What’s President Obama doing? Making plans to bring terrorists from Guantánamo to our country. Ignoring the Constitution, Congress, and the American people,” the narrator darkly warns over dramatic music. “November 4th, Obama’s policies are on the ballot. Vote to keep terrorists off U.S. soil. Vote Republican.”

According to the RNC, the ad will run in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Louisiana, and Virginia — almost every swing state that will decide which party controls the 114th Senate.

The 30-second spot plays like someone spliced footage of a George W. Bush ad from 2004 with a second-tier Michael Bay movie. Substantively, it’s a mess. Republican leadership has explained few substantive policy differences with President Obama on the fight against ISIS, and has tried to vote on none of them. President Obama can hardly be blamed for the Ebola emergency (nor should Republicans, although GOP-backed budget cuts have certainly not helped the response). And the president is certainly capable of confronting these issues while considering options to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay, a fatally flawed boondoggle that actual fiscal conservatives should reject on principle.

But for all of those flaws, the ad very well may work. Scaring voters into thinking that the federal government is dangerously incompetent and convincing them that the elections are a pure referendum on President Obama are key weapons for the GOP going into Election Day. If the RNC’s new ad doesn’t insult voters’ intelligence too badly, it could be just what Republican candidates need.

Screenshot: GOP/YouTube

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WATCH: GOP Candidate Hit With Brutal Attack Ad In North Carolina

Last week, Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) released a campaign ad pushing the embattled incumbent’s record as a moderate who’s “not too far left, not too far right — just like North Carolina.”

On Tuesday, the Democratic group Forward North Carolina came out with an ad completing the argument that Hagan began: While she is in the middle of the road politically, her Republican opponent Thom Tillis is a far-right extremist.

The two-minute long web ad, titled “Shadow,” takes direct aim at Tillis’ record as Speaker of North Carolina’s extremely conservative House of Representatives. Among other attacks, the ad highlights Tillis’ support for tax cuts for the wealthy, deep cuts to North Carolina’s education budget, and restrictive voting laws, in addition to his suggestion that Republicans “divide and conquer” those on public assistance.

There is reason to believe that the attacks could resonate with North Carolina voters. Although polls suggest that Hagan is unpopular in the Tar Heel State (most surveys have her approval rating around 40 percent or below), the state legislature is downright despised. One recent poll, from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling, found the legislature’s approval at just 19 percent, with 57 percent disapproving. Furthermore, Tillis’ poll numbers actually dip while the legislature is in session.

According to The Huffington Post’s polling average, Hagan holds a narrow lead as the race turns towards the home stretch. Establishing Tillis as too extreme for North Carolina will be essential if she hopes to maintain that narrow advantage through November.

H/t: Greg Sargent, The Washington Post

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WATCH: Scott Brown Uses Border Crisis For New Attack Ad

New Hampshire Senate candidate Scott Brown released a new attack ad on Monday, accusing incumbent senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and President Barack Obama of causing the border crisis with their “pro-amnesty policies.”

The ad, titled “Secure Borders,” is the first by a 2014 Senate candidate to politicize the huge numbers of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Americans go through security before they get on a plane, enter a government building, or attend a ballgame,” Brown says in the ad. “But folks who come here illegally? They just walk across the border. That’s wrong.”

“Thanks to the pro-amnesty policies of President Obama and Senator Shaheen, we have an immigration crisis on our hands,” he continues. “We respond with compassion. But it’s time for us to secure the border once and for all. And tell people who try to come here illegally that we intend to enforce the law.”

In a memo accompanying the ad, the Brown campaign specifies Senator Shaheen’s votes for the DREAM Act and the Senate’s 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill as the “pro-amnesty policies” in question. Brown voted against the DREAM Act while he represented Massachusetts in the Senate in 2012, and has criticized the “gang of eight” bill.

New Hampshire’s other senator, Republican Kelly Ayotte, also voted in favor of that 2013 legislation. Although Brown has accepted Ayotte’s enthusiastic endorsement, he has repeatedly criticized votes that she and Shaheen made in tandem.

According to a recent NBC News/Marist poll, New Hampshire voters favor immigration reform that would create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who currently have jobs, by 50 to 46 percent. That margin is closer than some past polls, perhaps giving the Brown campaign reason to hope that the issue could resonate for him.

But that same poll shows Shaheen leading Brown by 8 percent, a finding that is mirrored in other surveys of the race. While respondents viewed Shaheen favorably by a 52 to 39 percent margin, Brown’s favorability sat at just 40 to 39 percent. That number is far too low for him to knock off a popular incumbent, and Brown’s negative ad campaign seems unlikely to help it rise.

Brown may not have any other choice, however. Although Republicans initially hoped that his entrance into the race could expand the November battleground, the former Massachusetts senator has struggled to gain traction — leaving even his members of his own party concerned that his candidacy may be a bust.

Screenshot: Scott Brown/YouTube

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