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Saying that Bruce Braley has had a tough stretch on the campaign trail is like saying HealthCare.gov didn’t have a smooth rollout. First, Braley criticized an Iowa hog farmer while running for the Senate in Iowa:

“If you help me win this race, you may have someone with your background, your experience, your voice — someone who’s been literally fighting tort reform for 30 years in a visible and public way on the Senate Judiciary” Committee, said Braley. “Or you might have a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school, never practiced law, serving as the next chair of the Senate Judiciary. Because if Democrats lose the majority, Chuck Grassley will be the next chair of the Senate Judiciary.”

Crtiticizing a hog farmer while running for political office in Iowa is as foolish as a candidate for office in Oklahoma to talk about how much he loves Texas football. That’s as big a mistake as Todd Akin made in 2012, which takes some doing. Correct that. Which takes a Herculean effort.

Unfortunately for Braley, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Then, in his attempt to stop the bleeding from the first disaster, he compounded it:

Then Braley sent out a press release touting his farmer credentials and the Des Moines Register found that it misspelled several basic farming terms like “detasseling” and “baling.”

A photo he posted to Facebook is actually a farm in England, NOT Iowa.

Here’s the photo:

Here’s what Buzzfeed wrote about Braley’s brouhaha:

TripAdvisor lists the farm as a fruit farm in England and an employee of the farm named Sonya confirmed to BuzzFeed the photo was of Cammas Fruit Farm.

The first tip Braley should learn from this is that he’s got extremely incompetent people working for his campaign. That type of incompetence is downright frightening. They certainly don’t know that the first rule of holes is to stop digging.

The next lesson Braley should’ve learned in this is that it’s exceptionally stupid to criticize a major voting block in the state you’re running in. That’s because it’ll just piss off the people you need to win elections. Pissing off a huge voting block isn’t the path to victory very often. In Iowa, pissing off hog farmers is foolishness on steroids.

The other lesson Braley should learn is that saying provocative things at fundraisers often return to bite the candidate in the arse.

The biggest question that isn’t settled yet is whether this is a fatal mistake. It might be but it’s too early to tell. It isn’t too early to tell, however, whether it was foolish for Braley to incompetently pander to this huge voting block.

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This article lays out the statistics that Colorado is actually going backwards thanks directly to Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act:

Quite apart from the issue of premium increases, the 84,881 enrollees is far below the number of people who lost their insurance plans because of Obamacare. “Cancellation notices affected 249,199 people,” Jo Donlin, director of external affairs for the state insurance division, wrote in a Nov. 14 email.

That’s the worst of the news on the Obamacare front for Colorado but it isn’t the only bad news on that front. Here’s more:

“With less than a month to go before the enrollment period ends for this year, fewer than 85,000 Coloradans have signed up for health insurance,” The Colorado Observer’s Mark Stricherz reports, noting that state officials projected that they would need 125,000 to 140,000 enrollees.

“Even in the worst-case scenario, insurers would still be expected to earn profits, and would then likely raise premiums in 2015 to make up the difference,” Stricherz quotes Kaiser Family Foundation analyst Larry Leavitt as predicting.

In other words, people aren’t buying what the administration is selling. In fact, they’re getting disgusted by Obamacare’s options.

Based on these statistics, more people in Colorado are uninsured under Obamacare than were uninsured prior to the ACA. That’s called going backwards, which isn’t what President Obama promised.

These statistics shouldn’t be viewed in a vacuum, either, because they’re affecting the Senate race in Colorado:

Udall is clearly worried about how Obamacare affects his re-election prospects. Donlin accused him, in that email, of trying to “trash” the state’s cancellation figures. When CNN’s Dana Bash asked him in January (before Gardner entered the race) if he would campaign with President Obama, Udall repeatedly refused to give a direct answer to the question. “Coloradans are going to re-elect me based on my record, not the president’s record,” Udall told Bash.

That’s rich. I can’t imagine Sen. Udall has voted differently than Harry Reid many times since arriving. Voting with Harry Reid is the same as voting with President Obama.

Most importantly, Sen. Udall voted for Obamacare, aka the ACA, which has led to Colorado’s disaster of having more people uninsured under Obamacare than there were prior to the ACA. That’s a political disaster waiting to happen for Sen. Udall. He’s got to be sweating his decision to vote for the ACA.

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This polling from Michigan shows Democrats might have an impossible task on their hands in keeping control of the Senate:

RCP Average 9/7 – 1/8

Land (R) 39.4, Peters (D) 38.8 Land leads by .6%

Harper (R) 1/7 – 1/8
1004 LV

Land 44%, Peters 36; Land leads by 8%

PPP (D) 12/5 – 12/8
1034 RV

Land 42%, Peters 40%; Land leads by 2%

If Democrats have to fight to hold Carl Levin’s seat in Michigan, they’re in trouble. If they don’t hold Levin’s seat this November, they’ll lose control of the Senate. The national landscape isn’t helping Democrats this year. It doesn’t help Democrats that they’re fighting off the image that they can’t be trusted.

It wasn’t just President Obama who lied about people keeping their health insurance plan if they liked it. Lots of Democratic senators repeated that, too.

Friday’s jobs report hurt Democrats, too, although not for the reason most would think. Having 535,000 people quit looking for a job is the biggest indictment against Obamanomics. All of the Democrats that are up for re-election this year voted for President Obama’s budget blueprint.

If Michigan is in play, what does that say about Montana, Louisiana, West Virginia, New Hampshire, Colorado, South Dakota, Arkansas and Alaska? Is Minnesota in play? It’s already shaping up to be a very pro-GOP election cycle. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

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Yesterday, Prof. Larry Sabato was on Cavuto’s show to talk about the midterm elections. He said at the time that Democrats had all but written off the seats currently held by South Dakota’s Tim Johnson and West Virginia’s Jay Rockefeller. Republicans need to pick up a net of 6 seats in 2014 to regain the majority in the Senate. According to this post, that possibility just got a little more likely:

Popular former Gov. Brian Schweitzer says he will not run for Montana’s open U.S. Senate seat in 2014.The Democrat tells The Associated Press on Saturday he doesn’t want to leave Montana and go to Washington, D.C.

Schweitzer says he felt compelled to consider the race because many in his party said they needed him to run. He was considered the best chance Democrats have to hold onto the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Max Baucus next year.

Schweitzer had led the GOP candidate in early polling. His decision essentially ends the Democrats’ chances of holding Sen. Baucus’s seat. Coupled with the Johnson and Rockefeller seats, the Republicans are half the way to retaking the Senate majority.

In a February poll from Democratic-aligned Public Policy Polling, Schweitzer led Baucus in a potential primary match-up, and while Baucus trailed some of his potential GOP opponents, Schweitzer polled stronger.

Baucus had a difficult time the last time he ran for re-election. After writing a significant portion of the Senate version of the PPACA, Sen. Baucus’s popularity had dropped significantly.

At this point, no other Democrat is positioned to win that statewide race. The only positive that comes out of this news is that the DSCC can focus more of its money and GOTV operations on the other tight races.

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I hadn’t paid any attention to the Akin-McCaskill race recently but this polling suggests I should:

The News 4, St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Kansas City Star poll shows Senator Claire McCaskill with a 2 percent lead over Congressman Todd Akin, at 45 and 43 percent, respectively.

What’s interesting is that Rep. Akin leads Sen. McCaskill amongst independents by a 42%-36% margin. Another thing that’s interesting is that Rep. Akin only got 82% of the GOP votes vs. Sen. McCaskill getting 97% of the Democrats’ votes. Finally, 9% of Republicans and 13% of independents are undecided. It isn’t likely that those votes will break for Sen. McCaskill, especially after they see this video:

In fact, I’m betting that Rep. Akin’s lead with independents grows after they see that ad. Here’s the transcript of that ad:

Todd Akin: “I’m Todd Akin and I approved this message.”

Announcer: “It’s been revealed, Claire McCaskill’s husband was caught cutting business deals in the Senate dining room, selling tax credits tied to Obama’s stimulus money, money Claire McCaskill voted for. McCaskill uses her position and power to cash in. It’s no surprise that McCaskill thinks she’s above the law, she didn’t pay her taxes but voted to raise ours. The arrogance and corruption of Claire McCaskill. Dealing herself in. Selling us out.”

It wasn’t that long ago that Sen. McCaskill was the most vulnerable senator up for re-election, mostly because she’s used her position to benefit her husband’s business and because she’s the most dishonest member of the U.S. Senate this side of Harry Reid.

Those facts haven’t changed. Now that Rep. Akin and Sen. McCaskill are making their closing arguments, voters are getting reminded why they don’t like her.

Six weeks ago, Rep. Akin looked like toast. Things settled down. Sen. McCaskill’s past has been dredged up. Now Sen. McCaskill’s looking like she’s heading for defeat. Good riddance.

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When I saw that Al Hunt had written this article, I thought it would be another screed about the loss of civility in politics, that ‘the right’ was villainizing the word compromise and other familiar complaints whenever Republicans are beating Democrats in a debate.

Instead, I saw an article that’s fairly reasonable, especially considering it’s written by a hard left lefty:

This year, Tea Party activists are winning Republican Senate primaries and are favored to win seats in the fall. They include Ted Cruz in Texas, Deb Fischer in Nebraska and Richard Mourdock in Indiana. Primaries over the next 10 days in Missouri and Wisconsin could catapult others.

Cruz, a former law clerk to the late Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist, handily defeated the Texas lieutenant governor last week. He’s considered a virtual shoo-in in the general election.

Fischer, who won an upset victory against a more established candidate, has been embraced by the Tea Party, as has Mourdock who knocked off six-term Republican Senator Richard Lugar in Indiana. Facing tough Democratic opponents, they are favored in states that are decidedly Republican.

Of the 3 races, Mourdock faces the toughest fight. I’d be surprised if Cruz doesn’t win by at least 15 points. I’d be surprised if Deb Fischer doesn’t win by 12 points or more.

If all these Tea Party-backed Republicans win in November, it means Mitch McConnell, the current Republican Senate leader, will be in the majority. From day one, however, the Kentucky senator will be looking over his shoulder. The real power may be South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, who stood up and supported a number of these Tea Party candidates in the 2010 elections.

Another politician who benefits: Sarah Palin. The former Alaska governor endorsed Mourdock, Fischer and Cruz when they were underdogs.

Hunt is exactly right in saying that Gov. Palin and Sen. DeMint will exert considerable influence on the Senate’s agenda. If Sen. McConnell recognizes that, he could make this a productive Senate.

In fact, McConnell could earn some points with the TEA Party by saying he’d support Jim DeMint over John Cornyn if Sen. DeMint ran for the soon-to-be-open spot created by Jon Kyl’s retirement.

Increasing the number of influential conservative voices in the Senate is the fastest way of righting this nation’s economy. Despite President Obama’s spin, this nation’s economy isn’t headed in the right direction. It won’t improve until President Obama is fired by the voters this November.

Increasing the TEA Party’s influence in the Senate will dramatically hasten the economy’s recovery.

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I’m usually not a big fan of the RCP polling averages because too many junk polls get included in their averages. That said, it’s occasionally a good indicator of the state of specific races.

One of those races is the U.S. Senate race in Florida between Republican Connie Mack and Democrat incumbent Bill Nelson. In a rare instance of a trio of recent polls from highly qualified pollsters that sampled likely voters give us a strong indication of the state of the race.

SurveyUSA puts the race at Mack 48%, Nelson 42%. Mason-Dixon puts the race at Nelson 47%, Mack 42%. Finally, Rasmussen has it at Mack with 46%, Nelson at 37%. Each of these polls were within the past 2 weeks and sampled likely voters.

At this point, I wouldn’t count this as a GOP gain but I’d certainly put it in the leans GOP gain column. If a former astronaut like Bill Nelson is having difficulty winning re-election in Florida, think what that says for President Obama’s chances of winning Florida again.

At this point, Sen. Nelson is in trouble. It wouldn’t surprise me if President Obama is, too.

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Chip Cravaack laid the wood to the DFL in this fiery speech at the 2012 MNGOP Convention:

Here’s a transcript of the hardest-hitting part of the speech:

I have to be blunt. Our opponents don’t have the guts to do what’s right or what needs to be done. If they have any courage, they’re not showing it right now. Go ahead and ask them “Show us the tough decisions you’ve made. Show us where you’ve been at odds with the President. Show us where you have been an independent voice in the decisions in the best interests of this country.”

They can’t. The fact is that they haven’t made the tough decisions that the country needs now. They talk about leadership but that’s all it is. It’s all talk.

Under Harry Reid’s ‘leadership’, the Senate hasn’t passed a budget in over 3 years. They’ve sabotaged House legislation that would’ve jumpstarted the economy. Reid’s Senate filibustered the Keystone XL Pipeline to death, preventing job creation and energy independence.

On the House side, the Democrats haven’t proposed anything constructive since the 2006 disaster. We’re still paying the price for their ill-advised legislative ‘accomplishments’.

The Democrats in DC were clearly the target of Chip’s speech. Chip exposed Sen. Klobuchar’s less-than-moderate voting record. Chip fed the faithful one hunk of red meat after another. The impressive part was watching him do it while making a strong case for conservatism and without sounding mean-spirited.

If the NRSC and NRCC were wise, they’d mimic Chip’s speech, especially in terms of hitting the Democrats over the head with accusations that they’re the do-nothings in DC. The NRSC and NRCC should highlight how Democrats are devoid of leadership. Similarly, the NRSC and NRCC should highlight the fact that Democrats are the party that won’t fight against Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi when they have the opportunity to do what’s right for America.

If the NRSC and NRCC follow Chip’s lead, this will be a great year for Republicans.

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During the contentious Rules Committee debate, the Kurt Bills/Ron Paul delegates repeatedly attempted to amend the rules. They lost each of their motions, meaning the Pauligates comprise less than 50% of the delegation.

I actually suspect that they make up significantly less than 50%.

The reason why that’s important is that it’ll impact the U.S. Senate endorsing convention. This puts Bills’ endorsement at risk because he needs a strong start to the endorsement process.

If this poll is accurate, then Sen. Sherrod Brown, (D-OH), is in trouble. First, here’s the poll’s screening:

From May 2 – 7, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,069 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.

Polls using registered voters are friendlier than likely voters. Now for the bad news for Sen. Brown:

If the election for United States Senator were being held today and the candidates were Sherrod Brown the Democrat and Josh Mandel the Republican, for whom would you vote?

Brown — 46%
Mandel — 40%

This trend isn’t heading in the right direction for Sen. Brown. On Oct. 26, 2011, Sherrod Brown led by a 49-34% margin. On Jan. 19, 2012, Brown led 47%-32%. Now Brown leads 46%-40%.

At this point, I’d rate this as a leans GOP pickup seat.

Things aren’t better for President Obama, either:

If the election for President were being held today, and the candidates were Barack Obama the Democrat and Mitt Romney the Republican, for whom would you vote?
President Obama 45%
Mitt Romney 44%

If this poll is accurate, it’s telling us that Mitt’s actually ahead. (Remember the registered voter factor.) If President Obama loses Ohio, which I think is likely, though I think it will be a tight race, President Obama’s path to 270 EVs gets significantly trickier.

Combining these figures with the polling from Michigan and Wisconsin leaves the Democrats with a challenging map for 2012. Of the 2004 red states that flipped blue in 2008, North Carolina is out of reach for President Obama, as is Indiana. Ohio is likely to return to red state status, as is Virginia.

If Wisconsin or Michigan flips from blue to red, that would seal President Obama’s fate as a one-term president.

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