The Fix: Senate races

The Fix’s top 10 Senate races of 2014

The Fix’s top 10 Senate races of 2014

With just under a year until Election Day 2014, the Republican path to a Senate majority still runs mainly through red states currently controlled by Democrats.

The top seven contests on our new list are for Democratic-held seats in states that Mitt Romney carried in 2012. Three of them are open races with no incumbent on the ballot.

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The Fix’s top 10 Senate races of 2014

The Fix’s top 10 Senate races of 2014

With the 2013 election now in the rearview mirror, 2014 is coming into sharper focus. In the battle for the Senate, that means it’s time to take a closer look at the primaries that could shape the landscape and speak volumes even where the outcome doesn’t affect the general election.

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The politics of government shutdown, in two campaign ads

The politics of government shutdown, in two campaign ads

In the Arkansas Senate race, the federal government shutdown — now in its eighth day — has become a focal point, with Sen. Mark Pryor (D) and Rep. Tom Cotton (R) releasing TV ads related to it in recent days.

The commercials are notable because they (1) illustrate ways both parties believe they can cast blame on the other side in a key Senate race and (2) reflect the resonance of the shutdown beyond Washington.

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Scott Brown flirts with New Hampshire, but the feeling might not be mutual

Scott Brown flirts with New Hampshire, but the feeling might not be mutual

Scott Brown has spent a lot of time in New Hampshire this year. With each trip, the big question his presence raises is a simple one: Will he challenge Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) in 2014?

Brown won't say yes. But he won't say no, either. The uncertainty could be doing Granite State Republicans more harm than good.

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The Fix’s top 10 Senate races of 2014

The Fix’s top 10 Senate races of 2014

Welcome to the calm before the storm.

A little more than a year out from the 2014 midterm elections, both Senate Democrats and Republicans believe the majority is within their grasp. And across the map, things have held pretty steady in recent weeks, with not a lot of movement in our ranking of the top 10 races.

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Republicans need to win North Carolina. But so far, they've stumbled.

Republicans need to win North Carolina. But so far, they've stumbled.

Rep. Virginia Foxx became the latest Republican to pass on the North Carolina Senate race Tuesday. "I already have the best job in North Carolina," Foxx said in a statement.

So, why aren't Republicans lining up to run against Sen. Kay Hagan (D), who is among the 2014 cycle's most vulnerable incumbents? Three reasons stand out: the general belief in GOP circles that state House Speaker Thom Tillis is a potentially formidable candidate, even as he's struggled early; the lack of a strong GOP bench; and the state's political tilt and climate, which is not as conservative as it may seem.

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The ho-hum New Jersey Senate race, in 2 front pages

The ho-hum New Jersey Senate race, in 2 front pages

New Jersey voters are voting today!

If you don't live in New Jersey, you almost certainly forgot that the special Senate primaries to replace the late Frank Lautenberg (D) are today. The race has drawn next to no attention -- due in large part to the fact that Newark Mayor Cory Booker is lapping the Democratic field and virtually no one is expects Republicans to seriously contest the seat in the fall. (Make sure to read our take on the 5 reasons Booker is cruising.)

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The most expensive Senate races ever -- and where Kentucky might fit in

The most expensive Senate races ever -- and where Kentucky might fit in

In today's Washington Post newspaper -- yes, they occasionally let the Fix write for that -- we penned a piece on how the 2014 Kentucky race will likely be the most expensive Senate contest in history and could top $100 million in spending.

So, what's Kentucky's competition for the "most expensive Senate race ever" you ask? We've got that for you. Here are the five most expensive races, according to the indispensable Center for Responsive Politics:

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Five reasons Cory Booker is set to cruise to victory Tuesday

Five reasons Cory Booker is set to cruise to victory Tuesday

New Jersey voters will head to the polls Tuesday to choose nominees for the race to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D). And on the Democratic side, the only real question mark is Newark Mayor Cory Booker's margin of victory. Yes, it's been that one-sided.

The obvious question is why — as in why is Booker such a prohibitive front-runner? Here are the five biggest reasons:

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The Fix's top 10 Senate races of 2014

The Fix's top 10 Senate races of 2014

The battle for control of the Senate hasn't slowed down since we last looked in on the most competitive races of the cycle. In recent weeks, Democrats landed big recruits in Kentucky and Georgia, while Republicans got the man they wanted in Arkansas.

Republicans are expected to have to pick up six seats in 2014 to win back the majority. Open races in West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana present golden opportunities to make gains, while vulnerable Democratic incumbents in Arkansas, Alaska, Louisiana and North Carolina represent four more pickup opportunities.

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Why 'holding my nose' is a problem for Mitch McConnell

Why 'holding my nose' is a problem for Mitch McConnell

When Jesse Benton signed up to run the reelection campaign of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), it looked like a political match made in heaven. But on Thursday, it was just a headache, and one that isn't likely to fade quickly.

"Between you and me, I'm sort of holding my nose for two years because what we're doing here is going to be a big benefit to Rand in '16, so that's my long vision," Benton, a loyalist to Ron Paul and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), said earlier this year in a phone call obtained by The Washington Post.

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Does Mitch McConnell's primary challenger have a chance? Watch and decide. (VIDEO)

Does Republican businessman Matt Bevin have a shot against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)?

If Bevin's speech at at Fancy Farm is any indication, he is at least worth watching. The Louisville businessman's remarks Saturday at the church picnic and required campaign stop for political candidates in Kentucky won good reviews in local media.

"I don't intend to run to the right of Mitch McConnell, I don't intend to run to the left of Mitch McConnell, I intend to run straight over the top of Mitch McConnell," Bevin said in his speech.

Now, you decide. Does Bevin have what it takes? The full speech is embedded below. The comments section awaits!

Kentucky's Fancy Farm explained, in 1 cartoon

Kentucky's Fancy Farm explained, in 1 cartoon

Fancy Farm is coming. For the uninitiated, Fancy Farm is an annual gathering of the political class in Kentucky that amounts to a series of roasts. And it is awesome.

This year's Fancy Farm, which happens in Fancy Farm, KY (yes, that place exists) Saturday, will feature Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, wealthy businessman Matt Bevin, who is primarying McConnell, and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, the near-certain Democratic nominee against the Senate leader.

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Tom Cotton sends Mark Pryor's outlook from bad to worse

Tom Cotton sends Mark Pryor's outlook from bad to worse

If there were any doubts that Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) is the most vulnerable senator in the country this election cycle, Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) appears to have put them to rest.

Cotton will reportedly announce his bid against Pryor next week, giving Republicans a top recruit for a race they have been eyeing eagerly.

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Rand Paul is not a Ron Paul Republican

Rand Paul is not a Ron Paul Republican

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is playing nice with the GOP establishment. Kind of.

The Kentucky Republican has offered his support to three Republican incumbents vulnerable to conservative primary challenges, something that would have been unimaginable for his father, but could yield long-term political benefits for the younger Paul.

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Why conservative groups are treading carefully in Mitch McConnell's primary

Why conservative groups are treading carefully in Mitch McConnell's primary

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) officially has a primary challenger, businessman Matt Bevin. It's an open question whether Bevin will have the support of the two groups that have built a reputation meddling with their pocketbooks in GOP primaries.

Why? Simply, going to war with McConnell is no small decision. And if the groups are going to enter the mix, they realize that they better be sure they are doing it with the right army.

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Liz Cheney's biggest challenge: The carpetbagger label

Liz Cheney's biggest challenge: The carpetbagger label

This much we know about the Wyoming Senate race: Liz Cheney will be accused of being a carpetbagger. Probably often.

What we don't know is whether or not it will sink her bid to unseat Sen. Mike Enzi in the Republican primary, or fade into the background. But it's already become a big part of her narrative, and one that she will have to overcome to win.

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How Wyoming became the center of the Republican universe

How Wyoming became the center of the Republican universe

Forget the jockeying of the 2016 Republican wannabes. Put aside the splits within the House GOP. It's all about Wyoming right now.

That's because Liz Cheney, the daughter of the former vice president, announced on Tuesday that she will primary Wyoming Republican Sen. Mike Enzi in 2014. Cheney's decision immediately turns the Wyoming race into the highest profile intraparty fight on the ballot heading into next year.

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Not paying attention to the Georgia Senate race? You should.

Not paying attention to the Georgia Senate race? You should.

A judge recently moved up Georgia's Senate primary date. It might seem like a minor housekeeping adjustment, but it has the potential to leave a mark in the battle for the Senate.

Why? Because it could alter the way the Georgia Senate campaigns are run, change turnout models, and in the eyes of some Democrats, boost their chances of pulling an upset in the Peach State -- all against the backdrop of a shrinking Senate map and a race for the majority that looks increasingly close.

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The post-Schweitzer landscape in Montana

The post-Schweitzer landscape in Montana

Former Montana governor Brian Schweitzer's surprising decision not to make a Senate bid leaves Democrats scrambling to find a candidate from a bench without a clear standout. And on the Republican side, the big question is whether Rep. Steve Daines will run in what has to look to him like a more intriguing race with Schweitzer out of the picture.

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The business of being Sarah Palin -- and why she isn't running for Senate

The business of being Sarah Palin -- and why she isn't running for Senate

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's opening of the door to a 2014 race against Sen. Mark Begich (D) has fueled hours of debate and discussion about whether she might actually do it and whether she would win if she did.

News flash: Palin isn't going to run. Or, if she does, it would be a break from all of her other actions from the time she emerged in political life when she was elected governor in 2006.

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5 reasons why Ed Markey will (almost certainly) win

5 reasons why Ed Markey will (almost certainly) win

On the eve of the Massachusetts Senate special election, it's good to be Rep. Ed Markey. The longtime Democratic congressman is favored over former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez (R), with poll after poll showing him up comfortably.

How did Markey seemingly -- it ain't over until it's over! -- avoid the fate of 2010 Democratic special election loser Martha Coakley? Here are the five biggest reasons:

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The Fix's top 5 races of 2013

The Fix's top 5 races of 2013

There are three Democrats in the New Jersey Senate race positioning themselves as alternatives to Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D).

That's not the worst thing in the world for the Senate front-runner.

On the one hand, being the leader of the pack exposes Booker to attacks from all sides. But on the other, if the "not Booker" vote is split anywhere near evenly among his opponents, it ups the likelihood the Newark mayor will win because it would mean his opposition isn't lining up in one corner.

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Scott Brown's light (and late) footprint in the Mass. Senate race

Scott Brown's light (and late) footprint in the Mass. Senate race

For weeks, he has been likened to Scott Brown. Next week, the day before a special Senate election in which he is an underdog against Rep. Ed Markey (D), Gabriel Gomez (R) will get campaign support from the former Republican senator in the flesh -- for the first time.

The fact that Brown will not make an appearance with the former Navy SEAL until literally the final day of the campaign is very notable. While Democrats like to beat up on Brown, he is still the buzziest and most popular Republican in Massachusetts.

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Rush Holt is no Cory Booker. And he's just fine with that.

Rush Holt is no Cory Booker. And he's just fine with that.

Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), in his own words, is no Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D).

"I'll be the first to admit, I'm no Cory Booker," Holt says in an introductory campaign video released Wednesday. "I don't have a million Twitter followers, I've never run into a burning building, and I'm not friends with Mark Zuckerberg, though I did like him on Facebook."

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Gabriel Gomez and the chicken-and-egg question

Gabriel Gomez and the chicken-and-egg question

Which came first? The underdog candidate who took the race by storm, or the allied groups who swooped in with reinforcements?

A good venue to examine to the question is the Massachusetts Senate race, where neither has arrived.

For months, Republican Gabriel Gomez has been trying to break through in the deep blue state. He's been compared to Scott Brown, who defied the odds in 2010 by winning a Senate seat that seemed nearly impossible to pry from Democratic hands. And his unique profile (Gomez is a Hispanic former Navy SEAL who has never run for office) seems tailor-made for a political campaign.

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The Fix's top 10 Senate races

The Fix's top 10 Senate races

The pieces are beginning to fall into place in the 2014 Senate landscape. But both parties still face some outstanding recruiting questions that will determine how much each side can expand the map. And the key to answering two of the biggest ones will lie in whether would-be candidates are willing to give up a lot to run. To wit:

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The lackluster Massachusetts Senate race (VIDEO)

Despite polling suggesting that the Massachusetts special election to replace Secretary of State John Kerry is competitive, there seems to be very little energy or interest nationally for the race.

NBC's Chuck Todd, The Fix, Cook Political Report's Amy Walter and The Grio's Perry Bacon Jr. tried to figure out why today. The clip is below.

What we know about the New Jersey Senate race (and what we don't)

What we know about the New Jersey Senate race (and what we don't)

It's been a busy week in New Jersey politics. Sen. Frank Lautenberg's death set into motion a series of events culminating in an August primary and October special election to fill his seat.

So, who has the upper hand? And what are the most important variables to keep an eye on as the race moves forward? Below we run down the biggest knowns and unknowns. Agree/disagree? The comments section awaits your input!

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Christie faces key decision over appointment to Lautenberg seat

Christie faces key decision over appointment to Lautenberg seat

Appointing a replacement following the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and setting a special election for his seat will be up to Gov. Chris Christie (R).

For Christie, the decision is more difficult than it may seem. Deciding on an appointment won't be easy. And opaque special election laws offer little clarity on what comes next.

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A reset in the Nebraska Senate race

A reset in the Nebraska Senate race

Nebraska Republican Gov. Dave Heineman's recent decision not to run for the Senate means two things. First, the race for the GOP nomination to replace retiring Sen. Mike Johanns (R) is more wide open. Second, Nebraska Republican pols looking to move up the ladder have two marquee statewide races to aim at in 2014.

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Ted Cruz vs. John McCain: Welcome to the new normal in the Senate

Ted Cruz vs. John McCain: Welcome to the new normal in the Senate

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) feuded this week. Then they feuded some more. It wasn't the first time tensions between the longtime senator and the freshman tea party favorite flared up. And it's a pretty safe bet that it won't be the last.

The dispute between McCain and his allies and Cruz and his cohort lays bare a new fault line in the Senate GOP Conference -- one that threatens to further stall movement in a legislative chamber already seized by partisan gridlock.

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Four things to watch in the Massachusetts Senate race

Four things to watch in the Massachusetts Senate race

In five-and-a-half weeks, Massachusetts voters will elect their next senator. The special election for the seat once held by Secretary of State John Kerry is so far shaping up to be a competitive contest between Rep. Ed Markey (D) and businessman and former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez (R). Wondering what to watch during the remainder of the race? Below are four big things keep an eye on.

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Steve King is out. The next phase of the Iowa Senate race starts now.

Steve King is out. The next phase of the Iowa Senate race starts now.

Welcome to the next phase of the Iowa Senate race.

The first phase ended late Friday night when Rep. Steve King (R) King that he would not run, citing battles in Congress that require his undivided attention.

King, a conservative icon in some segments of the party, would have been a heavy favorite to claim the GOP nomination, but the general election would have been a different story. King's outspoken brand of conservatism and knack for controversy would have made him a poor fit against the Democratic Party's near certain nominee Rep. Bruce Braley.

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The Fix's top 5 races of 2013

The Fix's top 5 races of 2013

This week was a reminder of the importance of a state or congressional district's political lean when gauging whether an upset there is possible:

* In South Carolina, former governor Mark Sanford has been fighting for his political life after a string of bad headlines that would have sunk most other candidates' hopes weeks ago. This week, the state's two U.S. senators and Republican Gov. Nikki Haley rallied to his side, something they would not have done if he did not stand a reasonable chance of winning. Why does Sanford still have a chance? A big reason is the conservative lean of his district, which gave presidential candidate Mitt Romney nearly 60 percent of the vote in 2012.

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Homeland security clashes define final week of Mass. Senate race

Homeland security clashes define final week of Mass. Senate race

It started last Monday.

A week after the deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon, Democratic Reps. Ed Markey and Stephen Lynch resumed their Massachusetts Senate campaigns in earnest. There was a debate that night, and the first question was about the attack.

And since that time, the stretch run of the Democratic race has been consumed by a back-and-forth over homeland security that has persisted for a week.

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All eyes on Brian Schweitzer in wake of Max Baucus retirement

All eyes on Brian Schweitzer in wake of Max Baucus retirement

The decision by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to retire rather than run for reelection in 2014 casts a spotlight squarely on former Democratic governor Brian Schweitzer, a colorful and popular politcian who sports a bolo tie and often speaks of Washington in very unflattering terms. Schweitzer unquestionably represents Democrats' best chance of holding the Senate seat in conservative-leaning Montana.

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Mass. Senate campaigns left with limited window after bombings freeze race

Mass. Senate campaigns left with limited window after bombings freeze race

After the Boston Marathon bombings froze the Massachusetts Senate campaign in place for a week, the candidates are set to resume their activities in earnest with the election just eight days away. They are left with little time to alter the outcome of a race that had attracted limited attention even before the attack.

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Can Sen. Kay Hagan can get away with what other red state Democrats can't?

Can Sen. Kay Hagan can get away with what other red state Democrats can't?

Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina is one of five Senate Democrats running for reelection next year in a state Mitt Romney won in 2012. Yet she's flashed something of a blue streak lately, coming out in support of gay marriage, and pledging to vote for a bipartisan measure to expand background checks on gun purchases.

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The Fix's top 10 Senate races of 2014

The Fix's top 10 Senate races of 2014

Is Scott Brown about to hatch a political comeback in New Hampshire?

"I'm not going to rule out anything right now," the former Massachusetts Republican senator said Thursday when asked whether he was interested in running against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) in 2014.

While Brown's political profile fits the mold of the state nicely, there are several reasons to believe it simply won't happen.

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Johnson's retirement turns attention to son and Herseth Sandlin

Johnson's retirement turns attention to son and Herseth Sandlin

South Dakota Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson's decision to retire will shine the spotlight on two Democrats who have long been been viewed as the likeliest bets to run in his place: Brendan Johnson and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.

Brendan Johnson, a U.S. attorney, is Johnson's son. In the lead-up to his father's retirement, the younger Johnson had been viewed by most observers as a possible successor. He's a fresh face with a familiar name who doesn't have the baggage of congressional voting record. But he's also inexperienced.

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The Fix's top 10 Senate races of 2014

The Fix's top 10 Senate races of 2014

There are at least two ways of looking at what Senate Republicans are trying to do this cycle. One is simple math: Pick up six seats and win back the majority in the upper chamber. More broadly, they are trying to snatch the Senate from the party that also controls the White House in the president's second midterm election.

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Thin benches in Michigan mean many question marks in race to replace Levin

Thin benches in Michigan mean many question marks in race to replace Levin

Michigan Democratic Sen. Carl Levin's decision not to run for reelection in 2014 opens the door slightly for Republicans in a race that Democrats would have been heavily favored to win had Levin run for reelection.

That said, it's not yet obvious who will run -- on either side. In fact, for a such a populous state, the GOP and Democratic statewide benches are relatively thin in Michigan.

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West Virginia: A Senate GOP model that's difficult to replicate

West Virginia: A Senate GOP model that's difficult to replicate

In a perfect world for Senate Republicans, all of the races in which they are trying to pick up seats would resemble West Virginia, where it's been smooth sailing so far.

Trouble is, they don't live in a perfect world.

Before delving into the rest of the map, let's first take a look at the state of play in the Mountain State, where it's hard to imagine events unfolding more smoothly for the GOP. First, Shelley Moore Capito, the Republican congresswoman with a well-known last name, announces very early in the cycle that she is running. Then, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D) says he will retire. And last week, Rep. David McKinley (R) told the Charleston Daily Mail that he won't challenge Capito, sparing the congresswoman a potentially nasty intra-delegation primary.

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The top 10 Senate races of 2014

The top 10 Senate races of 2014

Some of this cycle's most pivotal open-seat Senate races could be heavily influenced by what members of the House decide to do:

* In Iowa, where Rep. Bruce Braley (D) is already a Senate candidate, Republican strategists have a close eye on what Reps. Steve King and Tom Latham will decide to do. King's outspoken and controversial style has already stoked some Republican worry that he'd doom GOP chances of picking up retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin's seat.

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Why Paul Broun is a problem for Senate Republicans, but one they can solve

Why Paul Broun is a problem for Senate Republicans, but one they can solve

One state that could well test the GOP's approach to nominating Senate candidates this cycle may sound surprising.

We're talking about Georgia.

Yes, the predominantly red state of Georgia, where Rep. Paul Broun (R) announced his Senate campaign on Wednesday. For several reasons, Broun would be a problematic nominee for his party. The good news for Republicans fearful of Broun winning the nod, though, is that there are a lot of reasons why it probably won't happen.

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4 reasons Scott Brown should pass on the Senate special election and run for governor

4 reasons Scott Brown should pass on the Senate special election and run for governor

A date has been set and the Democratic primary is active, but the most important question about the upcoming Massachusetts Senate special election has yet to be answered: Will Scott Brown run?

A report indicated this week that Brown is leaning toward running — and The Fix's own reporting suggests that he may well jump in. But there's a strong case to be made that the former Republican senator would be better served to pass on the Senate race and instead run for governor in 2014.

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Field for Chambliss seat could grow crowded

Field for Chambliss seat could grow crowded

Even before Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) decided to retire at the end of his current term, a handful of conservative names were already being bandied about as possible challengers.

And that could mean potentially crowded field to replace him.

Former presidential candidate and restaurateur Herman Cain would likely be an early frontrunner, polling has showed. But Cain said Friday that he would not run. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also said he won't make a bid.

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Democratic field to replace Rockefeller could be crowded

Democratic field to replace Rockefeller could be crowded

The Democratic race to succeed retiring West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D) could be pretty crowded.

While Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) is the early frontrunner on the GOP side, the state's Democratic bench doesn't have a clear standout. Below is a closer look at some of the potential Democratic candidates watch, in alphabetical order. (Also check out West Virginia radio host and political expert Hoppy Kercheval's recent rundown.)

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Why Cory Booker could run into roadblocks in New Jersey

Why Cory Booker could run into roadblocks in New Jersey

Two and a half weeks ago, Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) made two things clear: He's not challenging Gov. Chris Christie (R) this year, and he's seriously exploring a run for the Senate in 2014.

What's become less clear in the short time since Booker addressed his political future is how he fits into the 2014 Senate picture. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) has left the prospect of another campaign on the table while a well-funded member of the House also has reportedly expressed interest in the seat.

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What Senate Democrats' support for Ed Markey means

What Senate Democrats' support for Ed Markey means

Veteran Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Ed Markey's announcement Thursday that he will run in the likely 2013 special election for Democratic Sen. John Kerry's seat made him the first major candidate to throw his hat in the ring. A day later, Kerry, the Senate Democrats' campaign arm and the late senator Ted Kennedy's widow, Vicki Kennedy, all offered him their support.

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The most expensive votes of 2012, in one chart

The most expensive votes of 2012, in one chart

Running a campaign is expensive. In some cases, it's very expensive.

Thanks to a handy new chart from the Sunlight Foundation, it's easy to see exactly how pricey the election was for the congressional candidates who spent the most money per eligible voter and vote during the 2012 cycle.

The chart features 20 congressional candidates who spent at least $35 per vote and includes the amount each one spent per eligible voter:

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The Fix's nastiest campaign of 2012

The Fix's nastiest campaign of 2012

Campaigns can be nasty. Really nasty. A sharp debate jab here, an opposition research hit there, and all of a sudden even the most cordial contests can turn ugly.

Today, we look back at the 2012 campaigns with the most combative tones and searing attacks as we award the Fixy the coveted political awards that we, well, made up — for the nastiest contest of 2012.

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How Senate Republicans could get tripped up again in 2014 (and how they are trying not to)

How Senate Republicans could get tripped up again in 2014 (and how they are trying not to)

Just three weeks after sufferingdebilitating lossesacross the map, the 2014 election cycle is quickly beginning toresemblethe previous two for Senate Republicans, with the possibility of new intra-party spats already emerging.

When Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) announced her 2014 Senate bid Monday, it was a cause for both Republican celebration and angst. For some, Capito's decision was an early recruiting coup that gave her party a real pickup shot in a state that hasn't been represented by a Republican senator since the 1950s.

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The best candidate of 2012

The best candidate of 2012

Campaigns are made up ofconsultants, pollsters and various other strategists, butit's the candidate thatultimatelymatters most. And the great ones make their supporting cast look very smart.

Today we are handing out The Fixy the coveted political awards that we, well, made up for the best candidate of the 2012 election. On Monday, we gave out The Fixy for the worst candidate of 2012, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R). (Don't miss our picks for thebest and worst ads of the election!)

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Republican Rick Berg concedes to Democrat Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota Senate race

Republican Rick Berg concedes to Democrat Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota Senate race

Republican Rep. Rick Berg has conceded the North Dakota Senate race to Democratic former state attorney general Heidi Heitkamp, completing Democrats' virtual sweep of key Senate races.

Heitkamp's win means the Democrats expanded their majority by two seats on Tuesday. There will be 53 Democrats, 45 Republicans and two Independents in the next Senate. Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders has long caucused with the Democrats. Newly elected Maine Independent Angus King has not yet announced with whom he will caucus but is widely assumed to be planning to caucus with Democrats, as well, raising the Democrats effective strength to 55.

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Republican Deb Fischer wins Nebraska Senate race

Republican Deb Fischer wins Nebraska Senate race

State Sen. Deb Fischer (R) won the Nebraska Senate race Tuesday and willsucceedretiring Sen. Ben Nelson (D) in the upper chamber. Fischer defeated Democrat Bob Kerrey, a former Cornhusker State senator and governor.

Fischer led Kerrey 58 percent to 42 percent, with 70 percent ofprecinctsreporting. The Associated Press has called the race for her.

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Democrat Claire McCaskill defeats Republican Todd Akin in Missouri Senate race

Democrat Claire McCaskill defeats Republican Todd Akin in Missouri Senate race

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) won reelection Tuesday, turning back a challenge from Rep. Todd Akin (R), whosecontroversialremarks about rape and pregnancy badly damaged his political standing.

McCaskill led Akin 51 percent to 42 percent, with 39 percent ofprecinctsreporting. The Washington Post has called the race for her.

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Democrat Joe Donnelly wins Indiana Senate race

Democrat Joe Donnelly wins Indiana Senate race

Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) won the Indiana Senate race Tuesday, defeating state Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) in the contest to replace outgoing Sen. Richard Lugar (R).

Donnelly led Mourdock 49 percent to 45 percent, with 85 percent of precincts reporting. TheWashingtonPost has called the race for Donnelly.

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Democrat Chris Murphy wins Connecticut Senate race

Democrat Chris Murphy wins Connecticut Senate race

Rep. Chris Murphy (D) wonthe race to replace retiring Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I) in Connecticut on Tuesday, turning back a strong challenge from Republican Linda McMahon.

Murphy led McMahon 55 percent to 43 percent with 14 percent of precincts reporting, accordingto theAssociatedPress. The Washington Post has called the race for Murphy.

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Donnelly leads Mourdock by 11 in Indiana Senate race, bipartisan poll shows

Donnelly leads Mourdock by 11 in Indiana Senate race, bipartisan poll shows

Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) has opened up an 11-point lead over state Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) in the Indiana Senate race, a bipartisan poll released Friday showed.

Donnelly leads Mourdock 47 percent to 36 percent in the Howey/Depauw poll conducted by Democratic pollster Fred Yang and Republican pollster Christine Matthews. Libertarian Party candidate Andy Horning claims 6 percent support in the poll, while roughly one-in-10 voters (11 percent) remain undecided.

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Brown ties Warren in new Boston Globe poll

Brown ties Warren in new Boston Globe poll

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Elizabeth Warren (D) are tied, according to a new Boston Globe poll released Monday. The survey stands in contrast to several other recent polls showing Warren holding a slight lead.

Brown and Warren are tied at 47 percent apiece among those likeliest to vote in Massachusetts, according the poll, which was conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center from Wednesday through Sunday. In the previous survey, conducted in late September, Warren held a slight, 43 percent to 38 percent advantage

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New Claire McCaskill ad shows clip of Todd Akin’s ‘legitimate rape’ remark

New Claire McCaskill ad shows clip of Todd Akin’s ‘legitimate rape’ remark

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is going after Rep. Todd Akin (R) in a new TV ad that includes footage of Akin’s controversial August interview, in which he argued that “legitimate rape” rarely causes pregnancy.

The new McCaskill ad includes a clip from that interview showing Akin saying: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

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DSCC slams Mourdocks comments on rape and pregnancy in new TV ad

DSCC slams Mourdocks comments on rape and pregnancy in new TV ad

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FIRST ON THE FIX:

* The Democratic super PAC House Majority PAC raised $6.7 millionduringthe first half of October. During the entire month of September, the group raised about $6 million.

EARLIER ON THE FIX:

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Brutal 9/11 ad takes center stage in Wisconsin Senate race

Brutal 9/11 ad takes center stage in Wisconsin Senate race

Eleven years after Sept. 11, 2001, that day’s terrorist attacks are rearing their head in a major way in one of the hottest Senate races in the country.

Former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson’s (R) campaign today launched a brutal new ad attacking Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) for voting against a 2006 bill commemorating the fifth anniversary of 9/11.

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Mitt Romney TV ad plugs Richard Mourdock in Indiana Senate race

Mitt Romney TV ad plugs Richard Mourdock in Indiana Senate race

Mitt Romney is appearing in a TV ad for Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R), marking the first time the Republican presidential nominee has made a direct appeal for a U.S. Senate candidate over the airwaves this election cycle. 

“As Senator, Richard will be the 51st vote to repeal and replace government-run health care,” Romney says in the 30-second commercial. “Richard will help stop the liberal Reid-Pelosi agenda.”

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Lugar’s sour grapes straining Mourdock’s Indiana Senate bid

Lugar’s sour grapes straining Mourdock’s Indiana Senate bid

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) won’t be returning to the Senate next year, but he’s not a forgotten man in the race to replace him. With 18 days left until Election Day, Lugar’s cold shoulder is complicating GOP candidate Richard Mourdock’s bid against Rep. Joe Donnelly (D).

The latest development in an ongoing saga is a direct mail piece from a super PAC supporting Mourdock. The Indiana political news Web site Howey Politics Indiana reported Wednesday that USA Super PAC sent mail pieces indicating that “Indiana’s Lugar Backs Mourdock in Senate Run.” Lugar’s office said it didn’t authorize the ads.  “It was clearly unauthorized and done without consultation with us. Lugar clearly stated on September 17 that he would not campaign for Mourdock in the general election for Senator from Indiana,” Lugar spokesman Andy Fisher told Howey Politics.

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Robert Casey’s $17 million problem

Robert Casey’s $17 million problem

With 19 days left until Election Day, Sen. Robert Casey (D-Pa.) has a real race on his hands against a well-funded Republican opponent who has blanketed the airwaves with ads propelling himself into competition. Democrats are not panicking, but for the senator with the well-known last name, it’s going to take more than family ties to pull out a win.

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Crossroads GPS hits Angus King with first ad in Maine Senate race

Crossroads GPS hits Angus King with first ad in Maine Senate race

The conservative 501(c)(4) nonprofit Crossroads GPS is hitting the airwaves for the first time in the Maine Senate race, with a spot targeting independent candidate Angus King.

The airwaves have grown increasingly crowded in recent weeks, as King’s onetime firm grasp on the three-way race appears to have loosened. The Crossroads ad exclusively targets the former governor. 

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Report: Feds investigating Jesse Jackson Jr.’s finances

Report: Feds investigating Jesse Jackson Jr.’s finances

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FIRST ON THE FIX: 

* Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) holds a slight, 42 percent to 39 percent lead over Sen. Dean Heller (R), according to a poll conducted for her Senate campaign by Mark Mellman. The survey of 600 likely voters was conducted Oct. 8-10. 

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Why Senate debates matter — and our latest rankings!

Why Senate debates matter — and our latest rankings!

Senate candidates are debating one another with increasing frequency as Election Day nears, giving voters more chances to compare their options alongside one another. While the debates have proven unique opportunities for candidates to pitch their politics, policies, and personalities, the set-tos haven’t dramatically shifted momentum to one side or the other. 

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Democrats ahead or tied in four of five battleground Senate races, polls show

Democrats ahead or tied in four of five battleground Senate races, polls show

Democratic Senate contenders hold clear leads in two states their party is defending, but face tighter contests in two others Republicans are hoping to flip, a new round of polls released Thursday shows. 

In Ohio and Florida, Democratic incumbents lead by double-digits, while in Virginia and Wisconsin — both open races to replace retiring Democrats — the margins are close. Finally, a poll in Nevada, where Sen. Dean Heller (R) is trying to hold his seat, shows a close race that tilts slight toward the Republican. Here’s a complete rundown of Thursday’s Senate polls: 

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Arizona’s Jeff Flake hits rival Richard Carmona with ad alleging issues with anger, women

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) unleashed his hardest-hitting TV ad yet against his Democratic Senate opponent Richard Carmona on Thursday morning, a 30-second spot in which Carmona’s former boss sharply criticizes his temperament and interaction with women.

“Carmona is not who he seems,” former acting assistant secretary of health and human services Cristina Beato says in the commercial. “He has issues with anger, with ethics, and with women. I have testified to this under oath to Congress. Richard Carmona should never, ever be in the U.S. Senate.”

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The third Brown-Warren debate: Four takeaways

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Democrat Elizabeth Warren squared off Wednesday night in their third of four debates – a showdown which was more notable for what it didn’t contain (a discussion of Warren’s heritage, many heated exchanges, and a bounty of one-liners) than anything else. Here is our list of the four biggest takeaways from the debate in Springfield, which was sponsored by a Massachusetts media consortium:

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NRCC raises $12.4 million in September

NRCC raises $12.4 million in September

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FIRST ON THE FIX: 

* The National Republican Congressional Committee raised $12.4 million in September and has $29.5 million cash on hand, a committee aide tells The Fix. The committee spent heavily during the month — about $20 million — while it went after more than a dozen Democratic seats and attempted to define Democratic challengers early. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has yet to release its fundraising totals.

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The ads Senate Republicans have dreaded in Missouri are here

The ads Senate Republicans have dreaded in Missouri are here

Sen. Claire McCaskill’s (D-Mo.) campaign has unleashed a series of brutal new TV ads hitting Rep. Todd Akin (R) squarely where it hurts the most: the issue of rape.

Each spot features a woman who says she has survived a sexual assault. Two of the woman also identify as being “pro-life” on the issue of abortion. 

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Why Republicans are spending so much money to defeat Sherrod Brown

Why Republicans are spending so much money to defeat Sherrod Brown

If there’s one senator Republicans are itching to send packing more than any other in November, it’s first-term Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown.

At least that’s the conclusion one draws when looking at how much money the GOP has spent to take him down.

But when it comes to the race for the majority, there are a handful of other contests that are closer, and could arguably use the cash more. So why Ohio? Part of it has to do with the nature of the state, and part of it involves Brown.

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Can Democrat Richard Carmona win the Arizona Senate race?

Can Democrat Richard Carmona win the Arizona Senate race?

It’s been almost 18 years since there was a Democrat in the Senate from Arizona. Hoping to reverse the trend in November, Richard Carmona (D) has moved himself into a close competition against Rep. Jeff Flake (R) with about four weeks left until Election Day. But he faces glaring challenges: the Republican tilt of the state, and the consistency of the GOP advantage there in recent years.

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Elizabeth Warren holds slight lead over Scott Brown, poll shows

Elizabeth Warren holds slight lead over Scott Brown, poll shows

Democrat Elizabeth Warren holds a slight lead over Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), with about four weeks left until Election Day in the cycle’s marquee Senate showdown, according to a new survey released Sunday.

Warren leads Brown 50 percent to 45 percent among likely voters in a Western New England University poll conducted for the Springfield Republican newspaper and Masslive.com. The Democrat’s lead is mostly unchanged from an early September poll showing her leading Brown 50 percent to 44 percent. Other recent polls have mostly shown Warren with a single-digit lead over Brown.

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NRCC cancels ad reservations in four districts

NRCC cancels ad reservations in four districts

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FIRST ON THE FIX: 

* The National Republican Congressional Committee has canceled ad reservations in four districts, according to a GOP ad buyer. The NRCC has canceled the remainder of its buys in districts held by Reps. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) and Reid Ribble (R-Wis.), both of whom are favored to win reelection. The committee has also pulled reservations in two districts in Iowa — the 3rd, where Reps. Leonard Boswell (D) and Tom Latham (R) face one another, and in the 4th, where Rep. Steve King (R) faces former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack. Both races are competitive but also have gotten significant investments from the Congressional Leadership Fund, another Republican outside group. The NRCC has not yet canceled its reservation for the final week in King’s district.

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Why Linda McMahon has a fighting chance in Connecticut

Why Linda McMahon has a fighting chance in Connecticut

Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon has a shot at a very unlikely proposition: winning a Senate race in a blue state in a presidential year, after voters rejected her there two years ago in the midst of a GOP wave. 

So how did McMahon get to the point at which polls show a close race with Rep. Chris Murphy (D)? A confluence of factors, including increased support from women, a flawed opponent and, until recently, a dearth of paid media attacks against her. To be clear, Connecticut’s Democratic lean and President Obama’s expected double-digit victory there suggest the fundamentals still favor Murphy. But McMahon is hanging around. It’s worth looking at why.

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Tim Kaine raises $4.5 million in the third quarter, outpacing George Allen

Former Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine hauled $4.5 million during the third quarter of 2012, about $1 million more than former senator George Allen (R), who brought in about $3.5 million. 

Both Kaine and Allen enjoyed their most productive fundraising quarter of the cycle. Both spent big, too. Kaine finished the period with $1 million in the bank while Allen ended with about $2.6 million in the bank, meaning they both spent more than they took in during July, August, and September. 

Kaine’s campaign has invested heavily on airtime for ads, dedicating $7.5 million so far, including a recent $3 million purchase.

Kaine and Allen are both former governors and, as a result, very well-known figures in Virginia. Polls have shown a competitive race, but Kaine appears to have more momentum of late. The most recent Washington Post survey shows Kaine leading Allen 51 percent to 43 percent, after the previous two polls showed a tie. 

Updated at 10:55 a.m.

Claire McCaskill raises nearly $6 million in the third quarter

Claire McCaskill raises nearly $6 million in the third quarter

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) raised a whopping $5.8 million dollars during the third quarter, a huge haul that is more than double what she brought in during the previous three-month period. 

McCaskill’s impressive number adds to the woes of embattled Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), who has struggled to raise money in his bid against the first-term Democrat. Akin has not  released his third quarter total.

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Angus King’s lead in Maine shrinks to single digits, Republican poll shows

Angus King’s lead in Maine shrinks to single digits, Republican poll shows

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FIRST ON THE FIX: 

* Independent former governor Angus King’s lead in the Maine Senate race has shrunk to a slight four-point advantage among likely voters over Republican nominee Charlie Summers, according to a GS Strategy Group poll conducted last week for the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s independent expenditure arm. The poll shows King leading Summers 37 percent to 33.5 percent, with Democratic nominee Cynthia Dill running third at 17 percent. Twelve percent are undecided. In the previous poll, conducted in early September, King led Summers 44 percent to 33 percent, while Dill was at 11 percent. The NRSC has been hammering King on the airwaves in recent weeks, and the attack is having an effect. 

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DSCC has ‘not endorsed’ in Maine Senate race, Patty Murray says

The Senate Democrats’ campaign arm is spending money in the Maine Senate race, but it still isn’t making an endorsement there.

“We have not endorsed in that race,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chair Patty Murray (Wash.) told reporters on a Tuesday conference call designed to discuss developments in Monday night’s Massachusetts Senate debate.

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The Massachusetts Senate race’s 2016 implications

There are 33 Senate seats up for re-election in five weeks time. But, none has come close to equaling the amount of national media coverage (and money) that the race between Sen. Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts has already drawn.  

There’s a good reason for that: The Massachusetts race has major implications for the 2016 presidential field. What, you say?  2016? Let’s get through 2012 first.  Fair enough. But, there is a relatively clear case to be made that what happens in 35 days time could have a major impact on the 2016 Democratic presidential race.  

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6 takeaways from the second Brown-Warren debate

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Democrat Elizabeth Warren squared off in their second debate Monday night at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. The 60-minute debate  hosted by NBC’s David Gregory wasn’t short on heated exchanges on many of the issues the candidates have been sparring over for months. Here are six takeaways from debate number 2: 

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National Democrats spending money on Arizona Senate race

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* The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has made a $526,000 ad buy in the Arizona Senate race for the week of Oct. 2-8. It’s the first independent expenditure the DSCC has made in the contest. The group has so far spent about $500,000 worth of coordinated money with Democratic nominee Richard Carmona. 

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Why the Native American heritage fight isn’t hurting Elizabeth Warren

Why the Native American heritage fight isn’t hurting Elizabeth Warren

Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren’s claim to Native American heritage has been the focus of three recent TV ads, the first ten minutes of a debate and countless headlines. And yet, roughly 70 percent of likely voters familiar with the story simply aren’t moved by it one way or the other, suggesting the heritage issue may be, well, not much of an issue, after all. 

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Elizabeth Warren holds slight lead over Scott Brown in Boston Globe poll

Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren holds a slight lead over Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) in a new Boston Globe poll released Sunday, as nearly one-in-five voters remain up for grabs with about five weeks left until Election Day.

Warren leads Brown 43 percent to 38 percent in the survey. Eighteen percent remain undecided about the two candidates, suggesting it’s still very much worth it for both to focus on the uncommitted portion of the electorate. The Globe’s May poll showed Brown up by two. 

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Roy Blunt: Todd Akin ‘very well may win’ Missouri Senate race

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) sought Sunday to portray the Missouri Senate race as more a key part of the larger battle for the Senate majority than a referendum on embattled Rep. Todd Akin’s candidacy, and said Akin could defeat Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) in November. 

“I think anybody else would have been a candidate that clearly would have won, and Todd very well may win,” Blunt said on CNN’s “State Of The Union.”

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Indiana Senate race moves to ‘tossup’

A bipartisan survey released Thursday — as well as a handful of Democratic internal polls — show that the Indiana Senate race between state Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) and Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) is very close and, as a result,  we are moving the contest from “lean Republican” to “tossup.”

Howey Politics Indiana/DePauw poll released Tuesday shows the race is even — with Donnelly at 40 percent and Mourdock at 38 percent. (The Howey survey was conducted by pollsters who know Indiana well — Democratic pollster Fred Yang and Republican pollster Christine Matthews.) Recent Democratic polls from Donnelly’s campaign and a super PAC supporting him tell a similar story.  

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The fight over Elizabeth Warren’s heritage, explained

The fight over Elizabeth Warren’s heritage, explained

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren have spent the last six days trading blows over an issue that first emerged in the campaign nearly six months ago: Warren’s heritage.

If you’re just tuning in, here’s a summary of the spat: Warren claims she has Native American ancestry. She’s never substantiated her claim with documentation, saying she learned of her background from her family. Warren insists she has never sought to gain a professional advantage because of her heritage. Brown isn’t satisfied. He wants Warren to release personnel records backing her assertion.

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Washington Post poll: Brown leads Mandel in Ohio Senate race

Washington Post poll: Brown leads Mandel in Ohio Senate race

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) holds a substantial lead over Republican challenger Josh Mandel with six weeks left until Election Day, according to a new Washington Post poll released Tuesday, giving Democrats some breathing room in a race where outside groups have put nearly $20 million toward defeating the incumbent.

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Elizabeth Warren in new TV ad: I ‘never got any benefit because of my heritage’

Elizabeth Warren in new TV ad: I ‘never got any benefit because of my heritage’

Elizabeth Warren never asked for nor received an advantage from employers in connection with her heritage, the Democratic Senate candidate says in a new TV ad released late Monday afternoon. The ad is a direct response to a commercial Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) released earlier Monday that hits Warren over her claim to Native American lineage.

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Scott Walker to keynote New Hampshire GOP convention

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* The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has canceled another week of its ad reservation in Rep. Larry Kissell’s (D-N.C.) district, according to an aide who tracks media buys — another sign that Kissell faces tough odds in his reelection campaign. Republicans re-drew Kissell’s district to be significantly more conservative in the once-in-a-decade redistricting process. Democrats had already canceled one week of their reservations in the district, and now they have also canceled the following week — Oct. 9-Oct. 16. They still have time reserved for the final three weeks of the campaign. “Larry Kissell is battle-tested and has won tough fights by gaining the support of Independents and Republicans,” DCCC spokesman Jesse Ferguson said. “Kissell is leading in his polling and can win against Washington insider Richard Hudson, who is running a lackluster campaign and supports an agenda to end Medicare.”

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Todd Akin relying on help from conservative rebels

Todd Akin relying on help from conservative rebels

Embattled Rep. Todd Akin (R) is walking down a lonely road in the Missouri Senate race, with much of his own party not supporting him. Facing that reality, he’s enlisting the help of a handful of conservative figures in the hopes of defying long odds in his campaign against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D).

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RNC chairman says he is ‘very confident’ Republicans can win Senate majority

RNC chairman says he is ‘very confident’ Republicans can win Senate majority

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus expressed confidence Sunday morning that Republicans can win control of the Senate this November, even as polling shows Democrats have recently seized momentum in some key races.  

“I’m very confident we can take the Senate,” Priebus said on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.” He added that the marquee race in his home state of Wisconsin favors the GOP nominee, former governor Tommy Thompson.

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Claire McCaskill calls Todd Akin’s views ‘extreme’ at first debate

Claire McCaskill calls Todd Akin’s views ‘extreme’ at first debate

With a deadline to remove his name from the Missouri ballot fast approaching, Rep. Todd Akin (R) squared off against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) at their first debate Friday morning. The Democrat cast the Republican as “extreme” while Akin sought to draw attention to the senator’s voting record.

Akin, who stoked national controversy last month when he said in an interview that “legitimate rape” rarely causes pregnancy, was asked by the debate’s moderator how much the comment should matter in the campaign. He responded that the contest should center on action, not talk.

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The first Scott Brown-Elizabeth Warren debate: four takeaways

The first Scott Brown-Elizabeth Warren debate: four takeaways

The first of four debates between Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Elizabeth Warren is in the books, after a spirited one-hour session hosted by WBZ-TV in Boston Thursday night. The debate was animated, and chock full of memorable barbs. Here are our four biggest takeaways (Did we overlook anything? The comments section awaits):

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Can Tommy Thompson rebound in Wisconsin?

Can Tommy Thompson rebound in Wisconsin?

If the 2012 election cycle has felt like a roller coaster ride for anyone, it’s former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson (R). Since declaring his Senate candidacy, Thompson has been a top target of conservative groups, a Senate frontrunner, and now, an apparent underdog.

Does Thompson have another surge in him? His supporters aren’t panicking yet, because it’s very possible he does.

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Lindsey Graham, 2014 target?

Lindsey Graham, 2014 target?

Voters will head to the polls in 47 days, but off in the distance, the 2014 election is already beginning to work its way into the consciousnesses of political strategists. And the head of a prominent fiscal conservative group named Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) as a potential primary target in two years’ time.

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Democrats well-positioned for fall campaign stretch run in Virginia

Democrats well-positioned for fall campaign stretch run in Virginia

Virginia is both a key presidential battleground and the site of an ultra-competitive Senate race that could well decide which party wins the upper chamber majority. In both contests, Democrats appear to hold the high ground with just under seven weeks to go until Election Day.

Beginning with the presidential race, recent polling shows that President Obama is well positioned for the fall stretch run. He leads Mitt Romney 52 percent to 44 percent in a Washington Post poll released Tuesday, and 50 percent to 46 percent in a Quinnipiac University/New York Times/ CBS News poll released on Wednesday. The Real Clear Politics average of recent polling in the state shows Obama with a three-point advantage over Romney.

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Can Democrat Joe Donnelly win the Indiana Senate race?

Can Democrat Joe Donnelly win the Indiana Senate race?

At the beginning of this election cycle, the Indiana Senate race wasn’t viewed widely as a pickup opportunity for Democrats. But with just 49 days to go until the election, it’s certainly shaping up as a contest to watch in the larger battle for the Senate majority.

If that sounds surprising, it’s because it should. Indiana is a state with two Republican senators and a popular Republican governor. And both Democrats and Republicans agree that President Obama is less popular there than he was in 2008, when he carried the state by a point over Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). This time, no one is talking about a repeat victory.

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A post-convention bounce for Elizabeth Warren?

A post-convention bounce for Elizabeth Warren?

Elizabeth Warren is back. And she may have the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte to thank for shoring up support among Democrats and supporters of President Obama.

A Suffolk University poll released late Monday night was the third survey in as many days that showed the Democratic Senate candidate either leading slightly or running neck and neck with Sen. Scott Brown (R) after a summer in which the Republican appeared to have most of the momentum in the race.

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What the Wisconsin collective bargaining ruling means

What the Wisconsin collective bargaining ruling means

A Wisconsin’s judge’s Friday decision to strike down Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) signature legislation that curbed collective bargaining for most public employees could leave a mark on the political sphere, as it comes just over seven weeks before Election Day.

Walker says he is confident the state will successfully appeal the ruling, but regardless of the ultimate fate of the law — known more commonly as Act 10 — here are a few quick takeaways of what Friday’s development could mean on the campaign trail in a state that is being contested at the presidential and Senate levels:

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What a Todd Akin win would say about politics

What a Todd Akin win would say about politics

If Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) continues his campaign against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) all the way to November, he’ll face very long odds. Yet he continues to run, driven by an apparent belief that victory isn’t completely beyond his reach.

Is he right?

For Akin, winning would be very difficult, but not impossible. The most reliable live-caller polling shows support for Akin has dropped sharply since his comments about “legitimate rape” drew widespread scrutiny and derision. Yet recent polls conducted by automated Democratic pollster PPP and automated Republican-leaning pollster Rasmussen Reports have shown single-digit margins separating McCaskill and Akin. (Democrats, meanwhile, are conscious that if Akin stays in the race, it would help their chances. So they haven’t hit hit him over his comments all that much lately, which could explain his better-than-expected standing in some polling)

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Are Elizabeth Warren’s ads not working?

Are Elizabeth Warren’s ads not working?

Democrat Elizabeth Warren has hit her share of bumpsagainstSen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) during the past few months. As she tries to make a course correction, the fate of her campaign could hinge on her ability tore-calibrate a TV ad campaign which has left some Democrats aching for a shift in tone and message.

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Election Day in Massachusetts: Four things to watch

Election Day in Massachusetts: Four things to watch

While Democrats gather in Charlotte for the final day of their national convention, it’s also Election Day in Massachusetts.

There isn’t much high-profile action, but a pair of congressional incumbents face primaries worth keeping an eye on, while Joe Kennedy III tries to take the next step toward the House, and Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Scott Brown (R) are already in general election mode. Here are four things to watch when the polls close Thursday evening:

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Elizabeth Warren’s all-or-nothing moment

Elizabeth Warren’s all-or-nothing moment

Elizabeth Warren will take the stage in Charlotte on Wednesday night as a rising star in the Democratic Party, a favorite of liberals, and a leading voice in the party when it comes to Wall Street regulation.

For Warren, Wednesday nights convention address could be the first of many such high-profile speeches, but theres also a chance it could be among the last. Warren is challenging Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) in a race that could well determine whether she cements her status at the top of the Democratic pecking order or fades into the background.

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New Mexico Senate race moves toward Democrats

New Mexico Senate race moves toward Democrats

Momentum in Senate the race in New Mexico between Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and formerRepublicancongresswoman Heather Wilson has swung to and fro, but lately, there are have been some emerging signs that Heinrich has the upper hand.

After a review of the most important factors in the race, The Fix has moved the New Mexico Senate race out of the tossup category and into the collection of races that leans toward the Democrats.

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Jeff Flake wins GOP Senate nomination in Arizona

Jeff Flake wins GOP Senate nomination in Arizona

Rep. Jeff Flake won Arizonas Republican Senate primary Tuesday, easily defeating self-funded businessman Wil Cardon. He will face former surgeon general Richard Carmona in the general election.

In other important races held Tuesday, Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) defeated fellow freshman Republican Rep. Ben Quayle whileRepublican Rep. Paul Gosar turned back a challenge from Ron Gould, a state legislator backed by the Washington based anti-tax group Club For Growth.

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Primary day: Five things to watch for in Arizona and Oklahoma

Primary day: Five things to watch for in Arizona and Oklahoma

Voters head to the polls in Alaska, Arizona, Oklahoma and Vermont today. Whats on tap: Another member-versus-member primary, a runoff to decide who the nominees to replace Oklahomas only congressional Democrat will be, and a Senate primary that was once potentially competitive, but no longer looks that way.

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McCain says Todd Akin’s comments ‘a problem’ for GOP

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Sunday that Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-Mo.) recent controversial comments about rape and pregancy are problematic for the GOP, and that the congressman “would not be welcome by Republicans in the United States Senate.”

“It’s a problem. There is no doubt about that,” McCain said on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” when asked about theimpact ofAkin’s remarks on the Republican presidential ticket. “Mr. Akin shouldrecognize having the nomination of your party is aprivilege and if you abuse that thenyou arenot eligible to keep it. What he said was unacceptable.”

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McCaskill leads Akin in Missouri Senate race, new poll shows

McCaskill leads Akin in Missouri Senate race, new poll shows

A new poll shows that support for Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-Mo.) Senate candidacy has sharply declined since he remarked in an interviewbroadcastSunday that “legitimate rape” rarely causes pregnancy. Akin now trails Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) 50 percent to 41 percent in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch/News 4 poll, which showed him leading the Democrat by 5 points in late July.

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Mike Huckabee vouches for Todd Akin

Updated at 6:05 p.m. with more from Ralph Reed

Mike Huckabee vouches for Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.),CrossroadsGPS spends $4 million more on Senate races and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) has a laugh.

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Why the ‘none of these candidates’ option matters in Nevada (and why it doesn’t)

Why the ‘none of these candidates’ option matters in Nevada (and why it doesn’t)

If there’s a state where the electoral process most resembles a standardized test, it’s Nevada. For years, voters casting statewide ballots have been given the unique option of choosing “none of these candidates.”

Until now.

A judge struck the option from the ballot Wednesday with a ruling that, at first glance, looks like good news for Republicans who pressed for the choice to be shelved. But history shows the “none of these candidates” variable wouldn’t likely swing the outcome of the presidential race in the Silver State unless it is very, very close.

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Who is standing by Todd Akin?

Who is standing by Todd Akin?

National Republicans won’t be assisting Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-Mo.) Senate campaign. Missouri’s most influential Republicans have called on him to end his bid. And the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee wants him to outof the race.

Who does that leave in Akin’s corner?

At the moment, hardly anyone with a proven ability to influence voters in Missouri is lining up behind Akin. And that’s a large part of the reason it will be so difficult for the embattled congressman to keep campaigning.

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New poll shows Obama, Romney running neck-and-neck in Wisconsin

The presidential race is statistically tied in Wisconsin, Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) loses more support, and Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) says Elizabeth Warren must be confused.

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What the books we buy says about our politics, in one map

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Scott Brown presses Republicans to be ‘more inclusive’ on abortion

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) urges his party to be “more inclusive” onabortion, Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) won’t end his Senate campaign, and Vice President Biden will be in Tampa next week when Republicans are holdingtheirconvention.

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A history of campaign apology ads

A history of campaign apology ads

Regret and apology are not themes candidates typically choose to underscore in campaign ads. But that’s exactly what Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) did Tuesday when he released a 30-second spotinwhichhe apologizes for saying in a Sunday interview that “legitimaterape” rarely causes pregnancy.

Akin’s not the first politician to take to the airwaves to say he or she is sorry. Here is a look back at who else has used a similar tactic in recent (and not-so-recent) years:

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Could Todd Akin’s gaffe actually help the GOP in Missouri?

Could Todd Akin’s gaffe actually help the GOP in Missouri?

With a single interview that aired Sunday, Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) created a giant political headache for his entire party. But if he ends his Senate bid soon (a big if, considering his apparent willingness to press ahead the last couple of days), he will deliver a huge dose of political aspirin to the entire GOP. And his controversial comments might well end up as a net positive for his party’s chances to reclaim the Senate majority.

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Could Todd Akin’s gaffe actually help the GOP in Missouri?

Could Todd Akin’s gaffe actually help the GOP in Missouri?

With a single interview that aired Sunday, Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) created a giant political headache for his entire party. But if he ends his Senate bid soon (a big if, considering his apparent willingness to press ahead the last couple of days), hewill deliver a huge dose of political aspirin to the entire GOP.And hiscontroversialcomments might well end up as a net positive for his party’s chances to reclaim the Senate majority.

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Todd Akin asks for forgiveness in new TV ad

Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) offers Missouri voters his apology and asks for their forgiveness in a new television ad released two days after an interview aired in which Akin said that “legitimate rape” rarely causes pregnancy.

“Rape is an evil act,” Akin says in the 30-second spot in which he looks directly into the camera. “I used the wrong words in the wrong way, and for that I apologize.” Akin adds that he has “a compassionate heart for the victims of sexualassault” and acknowledges that “rape can lead to pregnancy.”

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Jim Talent says he won’t replace Todd Akin in Missouri

Rep. Todd Akin says he will stay in the Missouri Senate race and former senator Jim Talent does not want toreplacehim, President Obama holds a press conference, and the DSCC raises $5.84 million in July.

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Todd Akin’s biggest problem: GOP critics

Todd Akin’s biggest problem: GOP critics

Updated at 1:20 p.m.

When Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) remarked in a Sunday interview thatlegitimate rape rarely causes pregnancy,Democrats promptlydenounced the comment. But for Akin, the larger concern right now might be that Republicans — both inside and outside of Missouri — are sharplycondemningthe GOP Senate nominee’s comments, and even calling for him to end his campaign.

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Democrats keep up tax attacks against Romney

Democrats keep up tax attacks against Romney

Democrats are not satisfied with Mitt Romney’s tax information, Elizabeth Warren releases a new ad, and Ed Case wants to know why he lost in Hawaii.  

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The state of state legislatures — in 1 map

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New poll shows Obama holds slim lead over Romney in Wisconsin

New poll shows Obama holds slim lead over Romney in Wisconsin

A new poll shows a close presidential race in Wisconsin, Harry Reid isn’t satisfied by Mitt Romney’s tax talk, and Paul Ryan is headed to Florida this weekend. 

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What we think about the 50 states — in 1 map

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Self-funded candidates struggle in Senate races

Self-funded candidates struggle in Senate races

Being a government outsider with the ability to rely on personal money to finance a campaign isn’t proving to be a silver bullet this election cycle.

Across the country, self-funding political newcomers from the private sector have struggled in Senate races. Two have lost in less than two weeks in Missouri and Wisconsin, while a third appears likely to lose in Arizona later this month.

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Can Connie Mack defeat Bill Nelson in Florida?

Can Connie Mack defeat Bill Nelson in Florida?

Rep. Connie Mack IV cruised to victory on Tuesday in Florida’s Republican Senate primary, winning nearly 60 percent of the vote against nominal competition he barely acknowledged during the campaign.

But toppling Sen. Bill Nelson, a likable second-term Democrat with a nearly $9 million campaign account is a considerably more demanding task. Mack begins the race as an underdog, but not one without a path to victory. To pull an upset, he’ll need to tighten up a shaky campaign.

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Thompson wins Republican Senate nomination in Wisconsin

Thompson wins Republican Senate nomination in Wisconsin

Former governor Tommy Thompson won the Republican Senate primary in Wisconsin on Tuesday, edging out self-funding businessman Eric Hovde. Thompson will face Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin in the general election.

The  AP called the race for Thompson, who led Hovde 35 percent to 30 percent, with 81 percent of precincts reporting.

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Democrats get their woman in Massachusetts. Now what?

After months of searching for a top-tier candidate to take on Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) in 2012, national Democrats — finally — landed their pick in the form of former Obama Administration official Elizabeth Warren.


Elizabeth Warren speaks with voters as she campaigns after announcing her candidacy for the U.S. Senate in Framingham, Massachusetts, September 14, 2011. REUTERS/Adam Hunger

Now that Warren is in the race, the question is what kind of candidate will she be?

Democrats insist early returns are promising, noting that Warren was at a “T” stop in Boston at 7 am on the first day of her campaign and kept at it until late at night.

One day, of course, does not a campaign make. And Republicans will work very hard to paint Warren as an out-of-touch Harvard elitist — Warren is on staff at Harvard Law School — who can’t win over the blue-collar Democrats who will likely be the swing vote of this election.

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