What to Watch on the Final 2014 Primary Night

Image: Supporters cheer for New York Governor Cuomo as he speaks during a re-election campaign stop a day ahead of the Democratic primary in New York
Supporters cheer for New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo as he speaks during a re-election campaign stop at the New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council a day ahead of the Democratic primary in Midtown, New York on September 8, 2014. REUTERS/Adrees Latif (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)ADREES LATIF / Reuters

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With just eight weeks to go until the November midterm elections, we have reached the FINAL Primary Day of the cycle, with five states holding nominating contests -- Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island. And the story to watch tonight isn’t the results, but rather the margins. In New York, how big (or small) will Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) margin over primary opponent Zephyr Teachout be, especially with liberals in revolt over the one-time Democratic star? (Also don’t miss the Dem lieutenant governor matchup between Cuomo running mate Kathy Hochul and Teachout running mate Timothy Wu.) In Massachusetts, can favored gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley -- who famously lost to Scott Brown in 2010 -- distance herself from the other two Democrats running? And speaking of Scott Brown, can he run up the score against a crowded field in the New Hampshire GOP Senate primary, which includes former Sen. Bob Smith and former state Sen. Jim Rubens? Winning primaries by large or small margins doesn’t predict success in the general election, but it will tell us how the bases regard Cuomo (who was once mentioned as a possible 2016 candidate), Coakley (who likely will face a competitive Charlie Baker in the fall), and Brown (who moved from Massachusetts to New Hampshire) heading into the general election.

Two other primaries to watch

There are two other primaries on our radar screen tonight. First is the most competitive race of the day -- the Democratic gubernatorial primary in Rhode Island featuring state Treasurer Gina Raimondo, Providence Mayor Angel Tavarez, and Clay Pell (grandson to the late Sen. Claiborne Pell). And second is the Democratic primary challenge that Rep. John Tierney (D-MA) is facing from a handful of opponents, including Seth Moulton, a Marine veteran who served as a top aide to Gen. David Petraeus. The winner faces Republican Richard Tisei in what will be one of the top congressional races in the fall.

The ISIS fear is real

The ISIS fear, spurred by the beheadings of two American journalists, has seeped into public opinion. And it raises the stakes for President Obama’s speech tomorrow outlining his plan to combat the Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria. A new Washington Post/ABC poll finds that nine in 10 Americans view the ISIS militants as a threat to U.S. interests, and close to 60% believe they’re a serious threat. More: “Today, 71 percent of all Americans say they support airstrikes in Iraq — up from 54 percent three weeks ago and from 45 percent in June... Nearly as many Americans — 65 percent — say they support the potentially more controversial action of launching airstrikes in Syria, which Obama has not done. That is more than double the level of support a year ago for launching airstrikes to punish the Syrian regime for using chemical weapons.” Also in the poll, President Obama’s approval rating is 42%, and just 38% give him good marks for his handling of foreign affairs

It’s NBC/WSJ Poll Day!!!

And that poll above isn’t the only survey being released in advance of Obama’s speech tomorrow. At 6:30 pm ET, we’ll be releasing our national NBC/WSJ poll. Be on the lookout for data on ISIS and foreign affairs, on Obama, and on the midterms.

Obama meets with congressional leaders

Meanwhile, President Obama is scheduled to meet with House Speaker John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell at 3:15 pm ET to discuss ISIS, per NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell.

First Read’s Race of the Day

CT-GOV: Malloy vs. Foley: Incumbent Gov. Dan Malloy and Republican Tom Foley are ready for a rematch from their original 2010 contest, when Malloy BARELY beat Foley, 50%-49%. Once again, the political handicappers rate the contest as a pure Toss-Up.

Countdown to Election Day: 56 days

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