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Uncertainty Reigns With Less Than a Week Until Midterms

No one is exactly sure which way the election is going to break.

We’re now less than a week away from Decision Day 2014, and here’s what we know: Republicans feel good -- but not great -- about their chances on Tuesday, while Democrats are nervous but still see a path to keeping the U.S. Senate. Bottom line: No one is exactly sure which way the election is going to break. We’d rather be in the GOP’s shoes, of course. If this were a game of Texas Hold’em, Republicans are sitting on a pair of Jacks, and Democrats have a pair of 6s. So the smart money is that the GOP will win this hand. We’re now just waiting for the flop (the first states with early poll-closing times on Tuesday), the turn (the late states), and the river (the runoffs and recounts). As the New York Times’ Nate Cohn wrote earlier this month, this is shaping to be a great election, despite all the apathy about politics right now. “I think this is a great election. It’s way better than 2012. All around, it might be the best general election in a decade,” he said. The reasons why: There are so many great races, and we have no idea how they’ll turn out.

More close races than we’ve seen in a decade?

To quantify all of this uncertainty, Princeton’s Sam Wang notes that the current polling shows that 18 total races -- 11 gubernatorial contests and seven Senate ones -- are within three points or less. Putting those numbers in perspective, Wang adds that just five races in 2012, 12 in 2010, three in 2008, six in 2006, and another five in 2004 were ultimately decided by a similar margin. Hat tip: NBC’s Lauren McCulloch.

Chuck’s takeaways from Georgia

Chuck Todd’s “Meet the Voters” bus tour today heads to Arkansas. And tomorrow, it goes to Louisiana. But here are the takeaways from yesterday’s stop in Georgia: 1) It's impossible to overstate how much the disappointing economy matters in this Senate race; 2) The Senate candidates are actually both impressive -- but they're both hoping for a quick resolution to what could be a long race; 3) Georgia is on its way to battleground status, but it's not clear that this is Democrats' year.

A trio of new Quinnipiac polls

In Iowa, Joni Ernst leads Bruce Braley, 49%-45% (A Loras College poll yesterday had Braley up one)... In Connecticut, Dan Malloy and Tom Foley are tied at 43%-43%... And in Colorado, Bob Beauprez is leading Gov. John Hickenlooper, 45%-40%. (Our most recent NBC/Marist poll that was released on Sunday showed Hickenlooper with a five-point lead.)

McConnell backs away from full health-care repeal

On Fox News yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell -- who is hoping to become Majority Leader Mitch McConnell -- admitted that full repeal of the Affordable Care Act isn’t in the cards if the GOP takes control of the Senate. “Well, it`s the top of my list, but remember who`s in the White House for two more years. Obviously, he`s not going to sign a full repeal… [I]t would take 60 votes in the Senate. No one thinks we`re going to have 60 Republicans. And it would take a president -- presidential signature. And no one thinks we`re going to get that.” Instead, McConnell said, he would push to make piecemeal changes. “I would like to put the Senate Democrats in the position of voting on the most unpopular parts of this law and see if we can put it on the president`s desk and make him take real ownership of this highly destructive Obamacare.” But he added, “[Obama] the president of the United States until January of 2017, and people need to understand that that constrains our ability to do for this law what we`d like to do, which is to get rid of it.”

About that Boehner lawsuit

It’s still sitting on someone’s desk: Remember House Speaker John Boehner’s lawsuit against President Obama -- over the White House’s delay of the employer mandate in the health-care law? Well, we’re a bit late to this, but the lawsuit has yet to be filed. Republicans say it’s still coming, and one of the issues is that their first lawyer backed out due to pressure from his firm.

"We will hold the president accountable for unilaterally re-writing the law, and the lawsuit will be filed soon,” Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith tells First Read. But in a piece for the Washington Monthly, attorneys Simon Lazarus and Elisabeth Stein argue there’s another reason why the lawsuit hasn’t gone anywhere yet: A Congressional Research Service report, dated Sept. 4., concluded that the delay wasn’t out of the ordinary, they write. “Indeed, [the CRS] authors note, such delays are anything but unique to the Obama administration’s implementation of the ACA. On the contrary: ‘Often the agency has simply not been able to accomplish the required action within the time provided by Congress.’” Smith from Boehner’s office rejects that suggestion, calling it an “inaccurate” conclusion from the CRS report.

Countdown to Election Day: 6 days

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