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If Michael Warren’s article is accurate, then Republicans will have something extra to smile about next Tuesday:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan has a 5-point lead over Democrat Anthony Brown in a surprisingly close race in Maryland, according to a poll conducted on behalf of the Hogan campaign and obtained by THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

The survey of more than 500 likely Maryland voters finds Hogan with 44 percent support, while Brown, the lieutenant governor, has 39 percent support. Fourteen percent say they remain undecided. That’s a 17-point swing from the campaign’s internal poll in July, when Brown led Hogan by 12 points, 48 percent to 36 percent.

The poll also found Hogan winning self-identified moderate voters by 6 percentage points and independent voters by 27 percentage points. The Republican also has a higher favorability rating (49 percent) than the Democrat (41 percent).

I’m automatically suspicious of private polling done on a candidate’s behalf. I won’t dismiss this because it fits with other polls’ trends.

This ad is effective:

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Kirsten Powers’ latest column apparently was written while she wore rose-colored glasses. Here’s what I’m talking about:

A year ago, few would have expected the GOP would be on the ropes in Kansas, Kentucky and Georgia. Kansas Republicans haven’t lost a Senate race since 1932. Now, Sen. Pat Roberts is nearly tied with businessman Greg Orman, an independent. GOP minority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, who hails from a deep red state, has been in a fierce battle with Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Calling the McConnell-Grimes race as a “fierce battle” is wishful thinking. McConnell hasn’t had a big lead but he’s maintained a steady lead since a little before Labor Day:

As for Georgia, that race is tight but it’s misleadingly so. Noah Rothman’s post provides some interesting late-breaking information on that race:

Compared to a WXIA-TV pre-election tracking poll one week ago, Democrat Michelle Nunn is upside down. One week ago, Nunn led Republican David Perdue by 2 points, 46% to 44%. Today, in a dramatic reversal, Perdue is on top, 48% to 45%, a 5-point right turn in one of the nation’s most high-visibility contests. Polling for Atlanta’s WXIA-TV 11Alive was conducted by SurveyUSA.

That’s a significant change but that’s just part of the story. This is eye-popping information:

Worse for Nunn: among voters who tell SurveyUSA they have already returned a ballot, Perdue leads by 10 points.

That’s terrible news for Michelle Nunn because she’ll have to win a significant majority of votes on Election Day to win. While this race is likely heading for a runoff, the runoff isn’t Michelle Nunn’s friend. This is wishful thinking, too:

Republicans should be alarmed they’ve had to marshal so many resources to win in an environment that so overwhelmingly favors them. The number of baked-in advantages for the GOP this election cycle is remarkable.

There’s the landscape: Democrats are defending 21 seats; the GOP 15. Only one of those GOP states, Maine, went for President Obama in 2012. But the Dems are struggling to hold on to seats in seven states: Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia, that Obama lost.

Democrats gave up on West Virginia and Montana months ago. They thought they had a chance in South Dakota for a brief moment but that moment disappeared quickly. Alaska was competitive but that’s definitely a seat that will flip from blue to red soon after the polls close. Here’s a picture of the last couple of months worth of polling:

Arkansas isn’t that competitive, either:

It’s important to remember that Tom Cotton is a first term congressman and that Mark Pryor inherited his father’s political machine. I’d be stunned if Rep. Cotton opened up a double-digit lead against Sen. Pryor. In fact, I’d be predicting a major Republican sweep if Cotton led Pryor by 10+ points.

While South Dakota, Montana and West Virginia seem to be lost causes for Democrats, the most recent NBC/Marist poll shows Senate races in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Arkansas and North Carolina within three points. In Georgia, recent polls favor Democrat Michelle Nunn, who is fighting Rep. David Perdue. Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu leads her Republican opponent by a point, but is likely headed for a runoff. A Friday poll showed the Alaska Senate race in a tie.

That’s top-rate spin. Colorado and Iowa weren’t on any consultant’s list of potential blue-to-red flips at the start of the year. Treating these races like they were expected to be tight races is a bit disingenuous. Cherrypicking one poll out with the Democrat leading while ignoring the other 4-6 polls showing the Republican leading is a nifty trick but it’s misleading.

While I think Georgia is heading for a runoff, I wouldn’t be totally surprised if Purdue won it outright. If that happens, Republicans will be celebrating by midnight West Coast time.

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Predictably, South Dakota is rounding into shape:

Republican attacks on Democrat Rick Weiland and Independent Larry Pressler appear to have worked, making it more likely that the GOP will pick up the seat of retiring Democratic Senator Tim Johnson, as long expected. Republican Mike Rounds, a former two-term GOP governor, found himself in shockingly uncomfortable position earlier this month, but his standing has improved in the eyes of both strong and weak Republican voters, as well as among Independents.

Support for Pressler, a one-time GOP senator who has said that he would be a friend of Obama if elected to the Senate and has acknowledged that he voted for Obama, has melted away over the past few weeks.

Rounds’ improved position in the race, assuming that the trend holds, means GOP strategists will now have to worry primarily about only a couple of their own seats, in Kansas and Georgia, two red states where Republican nominees have handed ammunition to their opponents.

This was predictable, especially after this stunt:

Weiland never was a serious candidate. Pressler was a challenger…until he said that a) he’d vote to keep Harry Reid as majority leader, b) he supports Obamacare and c) he’s a personal friend of President Obama’s. It was downhill after that.

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If Salena Zito’s theory is right, which I’m betting it is, DC elites will badly misread the American people:

Late this summer, along the edges of this Mountain State town, a homemade sign jutted from the edge of a country road. It read, simply: “Change is coming.” A few miles west, toward Coopers Rock State Forest, another sign almost hidden by a cornfield read, “Change is in the air.”

DC elites have tried holding onto tired incumbents or tried running candidates that sound like the Washington insiders that created this mess. That’s why Joni Ernst’s campaign is doing well in Iowa. That’s why Cory Gardner’s campaign is going well in Colorado. That’s why Tom Cotton’s campaign is going well in Arkansas.

Colorado’s Senate race is just stunning: Congressman Cory Gardner is the best candidate the Republicans have in the field, despite being pounded for nine months by incumbent Democrat Mark Udall. In fact, Gardner’s image has only gotten better — he lifts people up, he’s an optimist and happy to be a conservative; in contrast, Udall’s campaign is malpractice.

Joni Ernst in Iowa is a strong candidate for Republicans. Yes, she’s conservative, but her personal strength is what independents like most; she is proof that the GOP can fix its problems with female candidates and voters. Tom Cotton in Arkansas is serious, smart, disciplined, and part of the next generation of Republicans who run on what they have done, not on shrill ideology.

Democrats have spent their money on shrill-sounding ads attacking their opponents as a) shills of the Koch Brothers, b) waging a war against women or c) both. They’ll turn out their progressive base but they won’t win a majority of independent voters.

It is a sign that has been waving in the weeds for more than a year, since the 2013 scandals involving the IRS, the Department of Justice and the Department of Veterans Affairs started rolling out. But it appears that this administration, Democrats in general and Washington’s political class kept driving past those signs and missing them.

This isn’t just about Democrats, though they’ll get hit the worst this November. I wouldn’t say that people hate Republicans but I’d say that they want to see Republicans become the party of sane-sounding solutions.

They want a political party that respects the rule of law. They want a political party that limits government’s authority to reach inside their lives. (Just ask Catherine Engelbrecht on that. Just ask Andy Johnson and his wife about overly intrusive government that doesn’t respect private property rights.)

The general sense is that Washington exists to serve itself, not the people back in their districts or their states. Obamacare is the perfect example of that. The Democrats wanted it so badly that some progressive politicians were willing to vote for it even if it cost them their jobs.

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Byron York’s reporting from the campaign trail has been fantastic all month long. Still, this article might be York’s best work. Here’s why:

DENVER, Colo. — There is a gender gap in the Senate race here in Colorado, and, contrary to popular perception, it is Mark Udall’s problem.

The race between the incumbent Democratic senator and his Republican challenger, Rep. Cory Gardner, has at times been a mire of gender politics. For months, Udall attacked Gardner incessantly on the issues of abortion and birth control, in an effort to run up an advantage among women voters so large that it would ensure victory on November 4.

But that’s not how things are working out. According to a variety of public and private polling, while Udall enjoys a lead among Colorado women, Gardner has a far bigger advantage among men. The difference is so pronounced that if it continues through election day, Gardner will win.

Udall’s mistake apparently is that he thinks women are the only voters that show up at the polls. If he’d thought this through and if he had a positive agenda to run on, he would’ve noticed that guys are seriously unhappy with Colorado’s Democrats over passing gun control legislation.

Though this has been a tight race throughout the summer, Sen. Udall never got out of his pre-planned approach of relying on the now tired ‘War on women’ storyline. He didn’t notice that lots of people love their new jobs at fracking sites. He didn’t notice the people that got laid off when gun manufacturers left the state because Gov. Hickenlooper signed the Democrats’ strict gun control bills into law.

This isn’t good news for Sen. Udall:

There are a lot of competing numbers on the gender gap, and none of them are good for Udall. A recent Quinnipiac poll found Udall leading by four points among women, but Gardner leading by 13 points among men. Another recent poll, by the Democratic firm PPP, also found Udall up by four points among women, with Gardner leading by 11 points among men. A CNN poll more than a week ago found Udall leading by nine points among women, but Gardner leading by an astonishing 20 points among men. Any of those scenarios would be disastrous for the Democrat.

Gardner’s mission through Election Day should be to keep following the game plan. What he’s been doing is working. Keep connecting with Coloradans. That’ll help inspire them to show up at their polling station and vote to elect Gardner.

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Ed Morrissey’s post about Hillary’s intellectually dishonest statements about who creates jobs is statistically enlightening. Here’s what I’m talking about:

In June 2007, the Household Survey of the BLS showed that the US economy had 146.063 million jobs in June 2007, just before the increase took place. Last month’s data showed that the US economy had 146.6 million jobs, an increase of less than 500,000 in over 7 years, not “millions of jobs” as Hillary claims here. In fact, the 146.6 million is the highest it’s ever gotten since the passage of that law. In the same period, the civilian workforce participation rate has gone from 66% to 62.7%. On a population basis, there are a lot fewer people working after the last minimum wage hike, not more, and wages are actually down, not up.

Compare this to the “trickle-down” era of the Reagan presidency. When Reagan took office in January 1981, the US economy had 99.995 million jobs and the participation rate was 63.9%. By the end of his presidency in January 1989, the US economy had grown more than 16 million jobs (116.708 million total) and the participation rate had leaped to 66.5%. That covers nearly the same length of time since the last minimum wage hike (96 months vs. 89 months), but both include about five years of technical economic recovery.

At the end of the article, Ed made this statement:

At some point, Democrats are going to have to come to grips with the fact that their front-runner is not just a lousy campaigner, but perhaps just as incompetent as the President from which they’re all attempting to run away at the moment.

There’s no doubt that Hillary is a terrible campaigner. That’s a subjective opinion, though. The job creation and labor force participation rates earlier are objective, quantifiable statistics.

Another part of that last commentary is that Democrats will “have to come to grips with the fact that” their frontrunner is just “as incompetent as the President” that they’re running away from. I suspect that they already know that. I’m betting that they simply don’t care whether she’s competent or not. I’m betting that their support for her will be based totally on whether she can win in November, 2016. If the answer to that is yes, they’ll support her. If the answer to that question is no, they’ll try finding a better alternative.

The point I’m making is that today’s Democratic Party is based almost entirely on fulfilling their ideological checklist, not on doing what’s best for America. It certainly isn’t about creating jobs or making life better for the average American.

Republicans everywhere need to repeatedly remind themselves that Democrats are almost totally about gaining, then maintaining control of the levers of government. Public policy is a distant priority that they generally don’t get to.

Here’s the video of Hillary’s boneheaded statements:

It’s terrifying to say but Hillary and Obama are no Bill Clinton. That’s a frightening thought.

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Catherine Richert’s article suggests a significant anti-DCCC backlash forming against Rick Nolan:

In the end, life-long Democrat Andy Larson’s decision to vote for Republican Stewart Mills over DFL incumbent Rick Nolan came down to the ads he’s seeing every day on television. “I’m very disappointed in my fellow party members in the types of advertisements just attacking Mr. Mills for his wealth,” Larson said. “It’s completely unwarranted. It’s really turned me off.”

Larson isn’t the only Democrat disgusted with the DCCC’s ads:

Paul Lemenager, a video producer in Duluth, feels the same way about the ads, which are coming from outside groups, not Nolan’s campaign. But he also says Mills’ business experience is attractive.

“The fact that his family owns a business and understands what it takes to develop a business and jobs and to put a business into the black,” Lemenager said. “Nolan has taken on the tone of a career politician. We have so much of that in Washington. We really need someone who understands what it takes to pull out of the slump economically.”

The Obama economy is the weakest economic recovery since the end of World War II. President Obama’s policies have contributed directly to this current stagnation. There isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between President Obama’s economic plan and Rick Nolan’s voting record. Whatever President Obama wants, Rick Nolan votes for.

The thing that hasn’t gotten talked about, though, is that Stewart Mills isn’t a trust fund baby who’s never worked a day in his life. That’s just the propaganda that the DCCC and Nancy Pelosi’s superPAC have spread since the start of the campaign. Unlike our governor, Stewart Mills has had professional, private sector responsibilities for which he’s been rewarded financially. He’s made things work. He’s grown the Mills Fleet Farm chain. Lots of people are employed through that retail chain.

If it isn’t Stewart’s way to talk about his successes, then I’ll tout them. Stewart Mills is obviously doing things right. Mills Fleet Farm is growing, partially because they self-insure their employees. That means they don’t have to deal with the ACA’s regulations and taxes. Their stores are growing more profitable because they’re the ultimate blue collar retail chain. People in the Eighth District like the Mills chain because it’s got the types of things people use frequently.

It’s hard to characterize Stewart Mills as an out-of-touch rich kid when the retail chain he runs specializes in selling things that middle class families want.

Frankly, I’ve thought that the DCCC’s ads and the ads from Pelosi’s superPAC were way over the top. They aren’t substantive ads, which is what many voters are looking for. These voters aren’t looking for the Democrats’ negativity. They’re looking for solutions and common sense.

If voters elect Stewart Mills, that’s exactly what they’ll get. That’s why the DCCC’s ads are backfiring.

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I’ve believed that John Chisholm, the Milwaukee County District Attorney, was a vindictive partisan prosecutor long before George Will wrote this column. Will’s column chief contribution is that it focuses attention on several key points that should receive additional highlighting. Here’s one such point:

The early-morning paramilitary-style raids on citizens’ homes were conducted by law enforcement officers, sometimes wearing bulletproof vests and lugging battering rams, pounding on doors and issuing threats. Spouses were separated as the police seized computers, including those of children still in pajamas. Clothes drawers, including the children’s, were ransacked, cellphones were confiscated and the citizens were told that it would be a crime to tell anyone of the raids.

Some raids were precursors of, others were parts of, the nastiest episode of this unlovely political season, an episode that has occurred in an unlikely place. This attempted criminalization of politics to silence people occupying just one portion of the political spectrum has happened in Wisconsin, which often has conducted robust political arguments with Midwestern civility.

That’s what the threats and intimidation wing of the Democratic Party looks like. John Chisholm is a thug with institutionalized authority to ruin innocent people’s lives. He’s the ‘leader’ of the Wisconsin chapter of the Democratic Party’s threats and intimidation wing.

In collaboration with Wisconsin’s misbegotten Government Accountability Board, which exists to regulate political speech, Chisholm has misinterpreted Wisconsin campaign law in a way that looks willful. He has done so to justify a “John Doe” process that has searched for evidence of “coordination” between Walker’s campaign and conservative issue advocacy groups.

On Oct. 14, much too late in the campaign season to rescue the political-participation rights of conservative groups, a federal judge affirmed what Chisholm surely has known all along: Since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling 38 years ago, the only coordination that is forbidden is between candidates and independent groups that go beyond issue advocacy to “express advocacy”, explicitly advocating the election or defeat of a particular candidate.

Why Wisconsin ever passed these John Doe laws is inexplicable. It’s authority to start a fishing expedition, something that’s contrary to the principles of probable cause and the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. Chisholm’s goal might’ve already been achieved:

But Chisholm’s aim, to have a chilling effect on conservative speech, has been achieved by bombarding Walker supporters with raids and subpoenas: Instead of raising money to disseminate their political speech, conservative individuals and groups, harassed and intimidated, have gone into a defensive crouch, raising little money and spending much money on defensive litigation. Liberal groups have not been targeted for their activities that are indistinguishable from those of their conservative counterparts.

I’ve written before about weaponized government. Chisholm’s investigation (I hate using that term in this context) fits that description perfectly. It’s the personification of weaponized government.

It’s worth noting this sentence:

Liberal groups have not been targeted for their activities that are indistinguishable from those of their conservative counterparts.

I’ve seen nasty forms of weaponized government but this is the nastiest form of it. Law enforcement officials participating in this should be investigated, too. Their actions furthered this unconstitutional exercise of abusive government. Hans Spakovsky’s op-ed nails it:

Oral arguments were heard Tuesday before the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in O’Keefe vs. Chisholm, the so-called John Doe investigation in which local prosecutors in Wisconsin tried to criminalize political speech and activity on public issues. The 7th Circuit should uphold the lower court decision halting this Star Chamber investigation that violated basic First Amendment rights.

The fact that such a secret persecution of citizen advocacy organizations even occurred ought to be an embarrassment to a state that prides itself on being a progressive bastion of individual freedom. It is more reminiscent of a banana republic than the world’s foremost democracy.

Chisholm should be disbarred for intentionally violating private citizens’ civil rights. Then he should be tried and, hopefully, be convicted, then incarcerated for many years. He’s a nasty person helping the Democratic Party chill political speech. Saying that his actions are intimidating and that his tactics are the type that would be approved of by Joe McCarthy is understatement.

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Friday night, Collin Peterson collided with Torrey Westrom in a debate. Here’s the video for the entire debate:

Saying that it was contentious is understatement. It was also inspirational and infuriating. This clip fits into the infuriating category:

Here’s what Collin Peterson said in defending his decision not to vote for Obamacare:

PETERSON: I didn’t vote for this bill. The reason I didn’t vote for it — the reason I didn’t vote for it is because I actually read the bill, which a lot of people didn’t.

That’s the first time Peterson said he’d read the bill prior to passing it. That runs contrary to what then-Speaker Pelosi said:

Here are her infamous words:

But we have to pass the bill so you can find out what’s in it.

The key point in all this is that, if it’s true, Collin Peterson knew what was in the bill but didn’t criticize the ACA. It’s one thing to stay silent on a bill you mildly disagree with. It’s almost justifiable if you think it might work. There was nothing in the ACA that suggested it would work.

For instance, if Peterson actually read the bill, he would’ve known that people couldn’t keep the plans they liked. Sitting silent while that abomination hits the American people is despicable. Edmund Burke got it right with this famous quote:

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Collin Peterson did nothing. As a result, people in the Seventh District are getting bad news. Torrey Westrom is definitely speaking up about it:

“All you need to do is travel the district and talk to the small business owners that are getting renewal notices from their employees,” Westrom responded. “They’re seeing 40, 50, 60, 80% increases. I just talked to a person in my home county two weeks ago at the coffee shop, and they said they’re seeing a 100 percent increase because of Obamacare. That is a critical, a big concern, and why I am pushing that we need to repeal Obamacare, different from the congressman.”

Torrey Westrom’s closing statement was inspirational. Here’s that closing statement:

Saying that he returned to bailing hay on the family farm just a year after permanently losing his sight is inspirational. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that I appreciated Westrom’s statement that “even I can see that Washington is broken.”

Torrey’s sense of humor, combined with Torrey’s can-do attitude speak to one thing: that Torrey will be a positive, powerful force in Washington, DC.

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Campaigning with Rick Nolan in the Eighth District, the gaffemeister made another appearance:

It was appropriate that Vice President Joe Biden spoke at an Iron Range community college during a campaign rally for 8th District U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan Thursday afternoon. The vice president’s speech was professorial at times, citing data from several studies that he said proved the rich are getting richer at the expense of the country’s middle class, which he said “is getting crushed.”

Vice President Biden’s speech is an unintentional indictment of the President Obama’s administration. The policies in place affect job creation, wage growth and other important economic realities. By saying that the nation’s middle class “is getting crushed”, Biden was indicting President Obama’s policies, starting with Obamacare.

President Obama can’t claim to be the man that saved the economy one minute, then say that someone else’s policies are crushing the middle class the next minute. Either his policies work or they don’t. Though he and Vice President Biden won’t admit it, they’ve gotten the policies they’ve pushed for. Their policies are the ones in place that are hurting middle class families. The Obama-Biden policies haven’t worked. Their policies have prevented the Keystone XL Pipeline from getting built.

Thanks to that Obama-Biden policy, Minnesota farmers can’t get their crops to market and Minnesota miners can’t get their ore to port before Lake Superior freezes over.

Vice President Biden is the gift that keeps giving. It’s one thing when Biden does something like this:

Everyone chuckled when they saw that video. It’s a boneheaded mistake made by a bonehead. It’s another Bidenism.

Saying that the middle class is “getting crushed”, however, is different. That isn’t a boneheaded mistake. It’s a truth that Iron Rangers know altogether too well. The percentage of Minnesotans living below the poverty line is 11.2%. In St. Louis County, though, that percentage shoots up to 16.1%. By comparison, 8% of people living in Sherburne County live below the poverty line. St. Louis County, which has the biggest number of votes in Nolan’s district, has 50% more people living under the poverty line than the statewide average. The percentage of people living below the poverty line in Sherburne County is half that of St. Louis County.

The truth be told, there isn’t much of a middle class in Hibbing, where Thursday’s rally was held. Income disparity is the rule, not the exception. Thanks to Vice President Biden, Rick Nolan is faced with the challenge of running against a top tier opponent while defending the Obama administration’s economic policies.

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