Intensity Edge: GOP Holds Advantage With High-Interest Voters

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Our latest NBC/WSJ/Annenberg poll presents some scary turnout numbers for Democrats. It shows them with a five-point advantage in congressional preference, with 48% of registered voters wanting a Democratic-controlled Congress and 43% wanting Republicans in charge. But those numbers flip among the highest-interest voters -- 51% prefer a GOP Congress and 44% want Democrats in control. Here is where we stand three weeks until Election Day: Democrats have put themselves in a position to survive this season and retain Senate control, especially with the Roberts-vs.-Orman race in Kansas. Meanwhile, Republicans have put themselves in a position to catch a wave to big Senate gains (eight to nine perhaps). We just don’t know who will be turning out and deciding whether Democrats survive or if Republicans make big gains. But this NBC/WSJ/Annenberg poll suggests that Republicans have the intensity advantage here. But a little caution: It’s a national poll and might not reflect everything that’s happening in the most competitive Senate races, particularly where Democrats are investing a tremendous amount of money to turn out their voters. Indeed, a new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll released over the weekend shows Democrat Bruce Braley performing well among early voters (more on that poll below).

Following all the surrogates on the campaign trail

Speaking of turning out the vote, it’s a big week for high-profile surrogates in the top races across the country. Yesterday, Mitt Romney campaigned for Joni Ernst in Iowa. Today, Vice President Biden stumps for Charlie Crist in Florida and heads to South Carolina on Tuesday. President Obama travels to Connecticut on Wednesday for Gov. Dan Malloy. Also this week, Hillary Clinton campaigns for Mark Udall in Colorado (today), Alison Grimes in Kentucky (on Wednesday), and Gary Peters in Michigan (on Thursday). And on Thursday, Bill Clinton heads to Massachusetts on Thursday to stump for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Martha Coakley.

Susan Rice: U.S. isn’t reassessing strategy against ISIS

Last week, we pointed out the limits -- so far -- to the U.S. airstrikes against ISIS. But on “Meet the Press” yesterday, National Security Adviser Susan Rice stressed that the Obama administration isn’t reassessing its strategy. “This is very early days of the strategy. Strategy's very clear,” she said. “We'll do what we can from the air. We will support the Iraqi security forces, the Kurds, and ultimately over time, the moderate opposition in Syria to be able to control territory and take the fight to ISIL. We'll do our part from the air and in many other respects in terms of building up the capacity of the Iraqis and the Syrian opposition, the moderates.” More from Rice: “But we are not going to be in a ground war again in Iraq. It's not what is required by the circumstances that we face and even if one were to take that step, which the president has made clear we're not going to do, it wouldn't be sustainable. We've got to do this in a sustainable way.”

“Inadvertent breach in protocol” in newest Ebola case

Also on “Meet” yesterday, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health attributed to the new confirmed case of Ebola in Dallas to an “inadvertent breach in protocol” by a health-care worker. “What obviously happened unfortunately is that there was an inadvertent breach in protocol,” he said. “I think the important thing to do is to emphasize the difference between the confidence that there won't be an outbreak, which is fundamentally prevented by putting the patient in isolation and doing contact tracing to kind of get an umbrella around them, versus the unfortunate inadvertent breach of a protocol that would get a health care worker. We're still quite confident because of our ability to reach out, do the contact tracing, and isolate people who are infected, that we won't have a public outbreak. That's a different thing than an individual healthcare worker unfortunately getting infected.”

Here’s the Democrats’ anti-Rounds TV ad in South Dakota

Last week, we confirmed that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee was going to dump $1 million into the three-way Mike Rounds (R)-vs.-Rick Weiland (D)-vs.-Larry Pressler (I) Senate race in South Dakota. Well, here is the TV ad the DSCC is airing against Rounds. “Mike Rounds. Schemes. Special Favors. Investigations,” the ad concludes.

Heading for a photo finish in Iowa?

Remember when we told you last week that as Iowa goes, so goes (most likely) control of the U.S. Senate? Well, here’s the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll of Iowa that was released on Saturday: Joni Ernst 47%, Democrat Bruce Braley 46%. Two weeks ago, Ernst had a six-point lead over Braley. While Ernst has run the better campaign, Braley is benefitting from early voters, the poll finds. The Des Moines Register: “The Democrats' aggressive early voting push is aiding Braley, an eight-year congressman from Waterloo. They're rounding up ballots from Iowans who would not otherwise have voted.”

Wendy Davis’ tough TV ad against Greg Abbott

Over the weekend, Texas Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis released a new TV ad pointing out that her GOP opponent, state Attorney General Greg Abbott, was awarded millions when a tree fell, putting him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. But the ad goes on to recount how Abbott opposed similar lawsuit windfalls for others. “Abbott argued that a woman whose leg was amputated was not disabled because she had an artificial limb. He ruled against a rape victim who sued a corporation for failing to do a background check on a sexual predator.” There are two ways to look at the ad. One, it’s a desperation move by a candidate who’s trailing -- and it unfairly brings Abbott’s paralysis into the public debate. Two, it’s legitimate because it points out decisions that Abbott made as a public servant -- ones that run contrary to the kind of monetary relief he received after his accident. But make no mistake: This is the kind of ad a candidate airs when he/she is behind.

Two surprising revelations (or accusations) out West

Talk about October SURPRISES for two candidates out on the West Coast. Republican Carl DeMaio, who is openly gay is challenging Democratic Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA). But a former campaign policy director is accusing DeMaio “of sexual harassment, even saying DeMaio masturbated in front of him. DeMaio vehemently denies the allegations, saying they're the cover story of a plagiarist and suspected criminal,” CNN reported. And then there’s the story: The fiancé to Gov. John Kitzhahber, who is up for re-election this year, “apologized Thursday as she admitted to making a ‘serious mistake by committing an illegal act’ when she married an 18-year-old Ethiopian national to help him secure residency in the United States. Hayes married Abraham B. Abraham in July 1997, when he was 18 and she was 29, she said in an emailed statement Thursday afternoon. They were introduced by mutual acquaintances, met only a handful of times and never lived together, she wrote,” per the Oregonian.

First Read’s Race of the Day: NY-23: Tom Reed vs. Martha Robertson

Remember Eric Massa? The “tickling congressman” resigned in disgrace in 2010, passing the seat along to former Corning mayor Republican Tom Reed. Reed managed a narrow win again in 2012, and Democrats would love to take him down for good in 2014 -- especially after the Buffalo News reported last year that he’d been late on his property taxes 38 times in 8 years. Tompkins County Legislator Martha Robertson is Democrats’ pick to challenge him. But Robertson may be too liberal for this very swingy district.

Countdown to Election Day: 22 days

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