OFF TO THE RACES: McAuliffe is ahead

Charlie Cook: “Something that might be of concern to Democrats, however, is that in this year’s data, independents are tilting Republican by 18 points, 43 percent to 25 percent. This is even more than the 14-point edge that the GOP had in the 2010 polling (40 percent to 26 percent) and dramatically different from the 1-point Democratic edge in 2012 (35 percent to 34 percent). While independents tend to vote in smaller numbers than they do in presidential years, so do some of the strongest Democratic groups, namely minorities, youths, and, in particular, young women. These are the voters who made a huge difference for the Democrats in the 2008 and 2012 elections. This turnout disparity between midterm and presidential years spells trouble for Democrats. They overcame that obstacle in 2006 by running strongly among those independents who had turned on President Bush over the war in Iraq, among other things. The forces at work are considerably different this time around.”

Bill Clinton to Judy Woodruff of PBS: “We’re not nearly as political as everyone thinks we are. We don’t sit around all the time talking about this. We swim in the late afternoon every day. And if either one of us even mentions a political topic we will stop the other one and just talk about the weather or whatever.”

Maggie Haberman: “Hillary Clinton heads into one of the most significant weeks of her post-State Department life, the annual Clinton Global Initiative conference, buffeted by dueling magazine covers about her husband’s nonprofit work and her own future interests.”

KENTUCKY:  Louisville Courier Journal: "Ed Marksberry, who said last spring that he planned to run in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, announced Monday that he will file to run as an independent. He has been displeased with the state Democratic Party for what he contends is its support of Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes in the race. But his primary reason for the change, he said, is so he can run an independent campaign in which he doesn’t have to worry about what the party or corporate interests want." 

MAINE: Independent Eliot Cutler is expected to announce he’s getting into the race for governor today. "To call me a spoiler now when I got twice the votes that the Democrat got in 2010?" National Journal says Cutler asks when probed about comments made about his candidacy by Democratic Governors Association chairman Peter Shumlin and other Democrats. "This is just babble. It's meaningless babble."

MASSACHUSETTS: Boston Globe: "Voters are flocking to the polls today in chilly, bright weather to cast ballots in a preliminary election that will winnow the field of 12 mayoral candidates to two hopefuls who will face off in a final election on Nov. 5. The election is the first wide-open mayoral race in a generation because of the decision by long-time Mayor Thomas M. Menino" to not run for a sixth term. "Political observers say that none of the candidates has had a break-through moment that captured the imagination of masses of voters and that the race is likely to come down to a house-by-house fight in which 20,000 to 25,000 votes could earn someone a spot in the final."

NEW JERSEY: The race for New Jersey Senate has tightened with Cory Booker leading 53%-41% among likely voters, according to aQuinnipiac poll.

NORTH CAROLINA:  Raleigh News & Observer: "State Senate leader Phil Berger will not seek the Republican Party nomination for U.S. Senate. His decision leaves House Speaker Thom Tillis as the most prominent Republican candidate seeking to challenge Kay Hagan." 

VIRGINIA: Terry McAuliffe (D) leads Ken Cuccinelli by 5 points in the race for Virginia governor, 43-38% in an NBC4/NBC News/Marist poll. That’s mostly because he leads with women by 18 points and has better favorability ratings. He’s in positive territory (41/34) while Cuccinelli is negative (34/37).

AP's Bob Lewis previews Wednesday's debate, moderated by NBC's Chuck Todd and sponsored by NBC4. "Of all the debates that statewide candidates can’t neglect this fall, Wednesday’s Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce showdown tops the list. You don’t say no to the captains of the most esteemed, politically attuned, wealthy and influential business demographic in Virginia’s most populous and prosperous region — the Washington, D.C., suburbs. The Fairfax debate — televised live in prime time for the first time this year — has become an autumnal fixture that’s produced at least three memorable moments in the past eight years."

NBC's Mark Murray writes that "the Nov. 5 contest: It largely will come down – as most statewide and presidential elections do – to which candidate can win the growing suburbs and exurbs. This battle for the ‘burbs is all the more noteworthy because both candidates hail from the crucial and vote-rich Northern Virginia suburbs – Cuccinelli from Prince William County and McAuliffe from McLean, both outside of Washington, D.C."

Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli will take questions from the University of Richmond president Oct. 10 beginning at 7:00 pm ET. Cuccinelli goes first, followed by McAuliffe at 7:30 pm ET.

WYOMING: Casper Star Tribune: "Lynne Cheney, wife of former Vice President Dick Cheney and mother of U.S. Senate candidate Liz Cheney, on Saturday night told former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson 'shut your mouth' about his support for her daughter’s opponent, according to an online account by Simpson’s daughter-in-law."