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Midterm Roundup: Joni Ernst’s Flip-Flop-Flip

Here are some interesting stories on the midterm campaigns that you may have missed on Thursday, October 16:

• As other Republican candidates try to distance themselves as far as possible from their past support for fetal personhood bills, Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst is making the opposite play. On Wednesday, she told the Sioux City Journal editorial board that “I will continue to stand by” a pledge to support a personhood bill if she is elected to the Senate. As MSNBC’s Steve Benen points out, this amounts to a flip-flop-flip on the issue (although Benen suspects that Ernst may not fully understand the controversial policy). Ernst continues to lead Democrat Bruce Braley by 2 percent in the Real Clear Politics poll average.

• Colorado Senate candidate Cory Gardner is also struggling with his past support for personhood. Democratic incumbent Mark Udall’s campaign has been circulating this brutal clip from the candidates’ last debate, in which the moderator tells the Republican congressman that “a charitable interpretation would be that you have a difficult time admitting when you’re wrong, and a less charitable interpretation would be that you’re not telling us the truth.” Still, polls continue to show Gardner building on his narrow lead, and he now holds a 3 percent advantage in the poll average.

• Another poll suggests that Democrats have a real chance in Georgia’s tight gubernatorial and senatorial elections. The new survey from WRBL finds Republican governor Nathan Deal tied with Democratic challenger Jason Carter at 44 percent. In the Senate contest, Democrat Michelle Nunn leads Republican David Perdue 46 to 45 percent, within the poll’s margin of error. Deal and Perdue’s leads in the poll average are down to 2 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively, and a runoff appears increasingly likely in both races.

• Mayday PAC, the outside group that seeks to limit the influence of money in politics, released a new ad touting South Dakota Senate candidate Rick Weiland’s support for expanding Social Security. The ad is likely meant to contrast the Democrat with Independent candidate Larry Pressler, who is struggling with his past support for cutting Social Security benefits.

• And new polling suggests that Democrats may have an ace in the hole to save them in several tight races: raising the federal minimum wage.

Photo: Monica de Argentina via Flickr

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Midterm Roundup: Deadlocked In Georgia

Here are some interesting stories on the midterm campaigns that you may have missed on Monday, October 13:

• As early voting begins in Georgia, a new poll has the Peach State’s top races dead even. The Landmark Communications poll finds Democrat Michelle Nunn and Republican David Perdue tied at 46 percent in the state’s contentious Senate election. In the gubernatorial race, Democrat James Carter and Republican incumbent Nathan Deal are tied at 45 percent. Perdue leads by 2.7 percent and Deal leads by 3.2 percent in the Real Clear Politics poll averages, but it appears increasingly likely that both races could be headed for a January runoff.

• Another poll has found South Dakota’s Senate race getting tighter. The new survey, from GOP firm Harper Polling, shows Republican Mike Rounds hanging on to the lead with 37 percent of the vote, followed by Democrat Rick Weiland at 33 percent, and Independent Larry Pressler at 23 percent. Rounds’ lead has dipped into single digits in the poll average, and given the unpredictable nature of three-way races, it’s still anybody’s game.

• Polls of North Carolina’s Senate race have consistently shown Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan with a narrow lead, but the National Republican Senatorial Committee clearly believes that Republican challenger Thom Tillis still has a chance. On Monday, the group announced that it is buying an additional $6 million in airtime on his behalf.

• Republican Joni Ernst is clinging to a narrow lead in Iowa’s Senate race, according to a Rasmussen poll released Monday. It finds her ahead of Democrat Bruce Braley, 48 to 46 percent, with 5 percent still undecided. Ernst leads by just 1.2 percent in the poll average.

• And Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) may not be finished yet in Kansas’ wild Senate race. He trails Independent Greg Orman by just 3 percent in the latest Public Policy Polling survey, down from 10 points in the group’s previous poll. Orman now leads by less than 1 percent in the poll average.

Photo: Heather Kennedy via Flickr

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Jimmy Carter Campaigns For His Grandson

By Greg Bluestein, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ALBANY, Ga. — Democrat Jason Carter’s campaign for George governor has unleashed a weapon that’s long been waiting in the wings: his grandfather, Jimmy Carter.

The 90-year-old former president has helped Jason Carter raise millions of dollars, and has provided him behind-the-scenes counsel. But his appearance Sunday morning at a black church in Albany was his debut on the campaign trail for his grandson’s bid to oust Gov. Nathan Deal.

The elder Carter urged congregants to cast their ballots — early voting starts Monday — to help his grandson “make Martin Luther King’s dream come true.” And he accused Republicans of seeking to deny them voting rights.

“Twelve years ago in Georgia, we had a change in governmental attitude toward the Voting Rights Act, and the right of all people to vote,” Carter said. He noted that when he was Georgia governor in the 1970s, he signed a law that designated all high school principals as voter registrars.

“We were blessed by the fact that there were very few Republicans,” he said to laughter from the crowd at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, a mostly black congregation. “The point is, 12 years ago that trend was changed. And since then, the Legislature and the governor have been determined to put every obstacle in the way for African-Americans, mentally retarded people and elderly people to vote.”

He was referring to Voter ID requirements supported by Deal and his predecessor, Sonny Perdue, that supporters said would prevent fraud but opponents feared would lead to disenfranchisement. Deal and other Republicans applauded the June 2013 Supreme Court ruling that struck down a section of the 1965 law that required Georgia to clear voting changes with federal authorities. Deal said the law had “outlived its usefulness.”

Jason Carter, an Atlanta state senator, said he would work to expand ways to register voters should he be elected in November.

“I believe in maximizing participation,” he said. “I believe that’s what democracy is all about — getting more and more people access to the ballot. We have to make sure we’re doing that and not put obstacles in the way.”

Jason Carter’s strategists have long planned to enlist the elder president in the race’s final weeks, but finding the right role for him has been challenging. A high-profile splash on the campaign trail earlier in the race could have distracted attention from his grandson — and given Deal’s camp additional ammunition.

“When he asks us to do something, we’ll make every effort to do so,” Jimmy Carter said in an interview. “I think it’s better — this is my own opinion — when he presents himself to groups in Georgia, to be there without me and Rosalynn. We’re not part of his campaign, and when we’re there, some of the news reporters pay more attention to us than they do to Jason.”

The former president acknowledges he can be a double-edged sword. Polls show the majority of Georgians give him high favorability ratings, and his famous name gave his grandson’s campaign instant fundraising heft and national attention.

But his one-term presidency remains divisive in Georgia, and Republicans are eager to tie his views on hot-button issues, such as the Middle East conflict or global warming, to his grandson’s campaign for governor.

Deal said voters aren’t going to be “unduly swayed” by the president either way.

“We can respect his opinion. But we are not a state nor a nation in which titles such as governor are inherited by virtue of your legacy,” he said at a recent campaign stop. “It is a position that’s voted on by the people of this state, and I don’t think we’re going to see that kind of influence have a significant difference.”

The former president said he’s confident he’ll help his grandson on the campaign trail far more than he may hurt him.

“I think that in balance, Georgians are still proud I was a governor who performed well and that I was a president who represented our state,” said the elder Carter. “But the only way to answer that question definitively when the returns come in in November.”

Photo: Talk Radio News Service via Flickr

Midterm Roundup: Could Democrats Win In South Dakota?

Here are some interesting stories on the midterm campaigns that you may have missed on Wednesday, October 8:

• The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is spending $1 million to support Democrat Rick Weiland in South Dakota’s suddenly competitive Senate race. The news comes one day after Mayday PAC also committed to spend $1 million on Weiland’s behalf. Although Republican Mike Rounds still leads by 11.7 percent in the Real Clear Politics poll average, a recent SurveyUSA poll found Rounds 7 percent up on Weiland, and just 3 percent ahead of Independent candidate Larry Pressler. Pressler is a former Republican, but Democrats reportedly believe that he would caucus with them if he wins election to the Senate.

• A new SurveyUSA poll of Georgia’s Senate race finds Republican David Perdue clinging to a 1-point lead over Democrat Michelle Nunn. Perdue has 46 percent of the vote, followed by Nunn at 45 percent, and Libertarian Amanda Swafford at 3 percent. If no candidate wins a majority on Election Day, then the race would advance to a January runoff — with control of the Senate possibly hanging in the balance. Perdue leads by 3.2 percent in the poll average.

• Meanwhile, Nunn’s campaign is up on the airwaves with a new ad hammering Perdue for admitting that he outsourced jobs overseas throughout his business career.

• The DSCC released a new attack ad accusing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) of using his three decades in office to enrich himself. The move suggests that the Democrats still view Kentucky’s Senate race as winnable, despite McConnell’s 4 percent lead in the poll average.

• And a new CNN/ORC poll finds that embattled Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) has recovered enough Republican support to reclaim a 1-point lead over Independent candidate Greg Orman. Every other recent public poll has found Orman ahead, and he leads by 4 percent in the poll average.

Photo: Total due via Flickr

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