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Off to the races: The final Jersey, Virginia polls

NBC’s Tom Curry: “In his Meet the Press interview, when asked about potential GOP presidential contenders for 2016, Romney spoke highly of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who seems headed for re-election on Tuesday. ‘He’s a very popular governor in a very blue state – that’s the kind of popularity and the kind of track record that the Republican Party needs if we’re going to take back the White House.’ Romney also praised his 2012 running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, as well as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. But he omitted Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas from his impromptu list of 2016 GOP hopefuls. Asked about that omission, Romney said, ‘I’m not going to disqualify anybody but I think I’ve indicated some of the names I think are most effective in becoming elected….’”

Politico: “Democratic senators have a warning for the White House: Fix Obamacare’s problems or put Senate seats at risk next year. In interviews, Democratic senators running in 2014, party elders and Senate leaders said the Obama administration must rescue the law from its rocky start before it emerges as a bigger political liability next year.”

NBC News: "Hillary Clinton hinted at a possible rationale for another presidential bid on Friday, telling a major women’s conference that cracking glass ceilings is 'the great unfinished business of the 21st Century.'"

Roll Call's Shira Center and Emily Cahn write that "Democrats have taken a few pages from Rahm Emanuel’s playbook in hopes of boosting their difficult quest to win the House majority in 2014.....To accomplish this, DCCC Chairman Steve Israel has sought to emulate his former mentor with relentless recruitment, an incessant focus on messaging and Emanuel’s aggressive style — minus a few four-letter expletives."

Politico: "Moderate House Republicans say they’re fed up. The next time around, they won’t stand for the ill-fated defund Obamacare strategy that ended up paralyzing the federal government for 16 days and crippling their party’s approval numbers. And unlike their fellow Republicans sitting in conservative districts, it’s moderates who will be on the front lines in the 2014 elections."

ALABAMA:Politico: “Tuesday’s special primary runoff for an Alabama congressional seat is heading toward a photo finish — and emerging as a potential black eye for the Republican establishment forces that have converged on the race. Despite a fierce, last-minute push from House GOP leaders and the business community to supply cash and endorsements to Bradley Byrne, public polling shows the former state senator in a tight race with Dean Young, a flame-throwing tea party contender with a penchant for controversial remarks.”

FLORIDA: Orlando Sentinel: "Former Republican Florida Gov. Charlie Crist wants his old job back. Crist, now a Democrat, filed paperwork Friday with the Florida Division of elections to run for governor in 2014. Crist, 57, plans to formally announce his candidacy Monday morning in his hometown of St. Petersburg, authorities said."

Tampa Bay Times: "Popular former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker announced Saturday he will not run for Pinellas County's open congressional seat, setting the stage for an intense battle among a handful of contenders for the Republican nomination....Almost immediately after Baker's announcement, Young's former general counsel David Jolly announced he would run, saying,'It's something that I think I'm uniquely qualified for and I say that very humbly.' Young's widow, Beverly, who considered running herself, endorsed Jolly instead, saying she was behind him '200 percent because it's important to us that we try not to skip a beat in Pinellas County.'"

MAINE: Portland Press Herald: "Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud announced Monday that he’s gay, ending years of speculation and potentially sharply changing the dynamic of the 2014 gubernatorial race....He said he was making the announcement in response to 'the whisper campaigns, insinuations and push polls' that unidentified people have been using to raise questions about his personal life since he declared his candidacy."

NEW JERSEY: Gov. Chris Christie (R) leads Democrat Barbara Buono, 61-33%, in a Quinnipiac poll.

A Fairleigh Dickinson poll has it 59-40.

NBC's Mike O'Brien: "Don’t expect Chris Christie to glide toward 2016 without challenges, even if he achieves the rare accomplishment of winning a second term as the Republican governor of deep-blue New Jersey in Tuesday's election against Democratic nominee Barbara Buono. As he pivots toward a possible bid for the presidency, Christie will have to decide: Should he firmly embrace the relatively-centrist persona he worked so hard to burnish during his first term, or move toward the right in hopes of winning over conservative activists who weigh heavily upon presidential nominating contests?"

TEXAS:National Journal: “Just how tough are new voter identification requirements in Texas? Apparently tough enough that former U.S. House speaker Jim Wright reportedly was denied a voter ID card on Saturday. ‘Nobody was ugly to us, but they insisted that they wouldn't give me an ID’  Wright, a Democrat who resigned from Congress in 1989, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in a story about his experience at a Texas Department of Public Safety office. The 90-year-old told the newspaper he realized last week that he didn't have a valid ID to vote in Tuesday's elections. He said he was refused a voter ID card because his driver's license expired in 2010 and his faculty identification from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, where he teaches, doesn't meet requirements under the state law enacted in 2011.”

A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll has Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) up 40-34% over Democrat Wendy Davis.

VIRGINIA: Terry McAuliffe (D) leads Republican Ken Cuccinelli, 46-40%, in the race for governor, according to Quinnipiac. McAuliffe leads 50-36% with women. Libertarian Robert Sarvis gets 8%.

NBC's Jessica Taylor: "Democrats appear poised for another big electoral victory in Virginia on Tuesday as conservative and Tea Party Republicans face real questions about whether they can win again in this fast-changing state. The gubernatorial race between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli has remained unchanged for weeks, with McAuliffe holding a steady and sizable lead in most polls.  Those surveys tell a stark story: The GOP is losing not because the party failed to nominate the most conservative candidate -- but because they did."

Richmond Times Dispatch: "President Barack Obama on Sunday weighed into perhaps the nation’s marquee contest this year, campaigning for Democrat Terry McAuliffe near the end of a race that has been buffeted by national dynamics, from the partial government shutdown to the health care law. In this Washington suburb, McAuliffe tried to link Republican Ken Cuccinelli to the shutdown, accusing him of siding with the tea party over Virginia families, and referred to the 'tea party' ticket and his 'mainstream' ticket."

“Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli are both looking to make Tuesday’s election for governor into a referendum on President Barack Obama’s health overhaul,” AP writes. “McAuliffe planned to campaign Monday with Vice President Joe Biden a day after Obama weighed in, throwing national Democrats’ full backing into the race. Cuccinelli, meanwhile, would be campaigning with Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and planned his final campaign rally with former Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, a hero of the libertarian wing of the GOP.”

James Hohmann: In politics, it is generally not a good omen when a candidate’s supporters argue that he still has a chance of victory — if the opponent’s supporters neglect to vote. But this was Virginia Republican Party Chairman Pat Mullins’s version of the power of positive thinking in an interview this weekend. The path for star-crossed GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, Mullins said, looks like this: ‘If turnout is in the 30s, the low 30s, we’re gonna win. If it gets higher up in Fairfax [in Democratic-leaning Northern Virginia], say like 40, it’s likely we won’t. I don’t think it’s going to hit 40 anywhere. I’m looking at 32.’”