The Note

The Wall Street Journal's Robert Block, Jonathan Karp and Joann Lublin report on the $10 billion contract -- "one of the largest federal technology contracts in history," awarded to Accenture by the Department of Homeland Security to help manage the screening program for foreign visitors coming to or leaving the U.S. We expect to see Democrats jump all over this story today, from criticizing the handover of security money for an untested technology to pointing out where the offshore headquarters of the company resides.

The Washington Post's Dan Eggen lays out the U.S.' case against Jose Padilla. LINK

Jennifer Harper of the Washington Times writes up a new Harris poll that shows 56 percent of Americans say that their personal situation has improved over the last five years, and wraps in Gallup poll from Tuesday in which 75 percent of Americans expressed confidence in the armed forces and 64 percent expressed confidence in law enforcement. LINK

The Washington Post continues its Faces of the Fallen series. LINK

The economy:

Consumer confidence has dipped to a 14-month low this week in the face of rising gasoline prices, following an unusually steep drop in overall consumer confidence last week, according to a new ABC News/Money magazine poll.

The ABC News/Money magazine Consumer Comfort Index stands at -18 on its scale of +100 to -100. It was at -16 last week after a 5-point fall, and is now well below its long-term average, -9 in weekly polls since late 1985.

"With gasoline reaching $2.06 a gallon and oil at an inflation-adjusted 14-year high, just 34 percent of Americans say it's a good time to buy things. That's down six points in May to its lowest since March 30, 2003, shortly after the start of the Iraq war. Views of the buying climate have been similarly sensitive to rising fuel prices in the past," reports ABC News' Dalia Sussman.

In addition, 34 percent of Americans say the economy is in good shape, and 55 percent rate their own finances positively.

South Dakota special election:

Democrat Stephanie Herseth defeated Republican Larry Diedrich 51 percent to 49 percent -- by a total of 132, 066 votes to 128,990 in the special election to replace Rep. Bill Janklow. The AP reports that "South Dakotans went to the polls in record numbers" with just over 56% of registered voters casting ballots. LINK

The AP's Joe Kafka writes, "Democrats looking ahead to November got a bounce with the victory of Stephanie Herseth in a special election, marking the party's second straight congressional triumph and snatching a House seat in a heavily GOP-leaning state." LINK

KELOLAND TV reports, "It took until well into the morning before [Herseth] could celebrate her special election win with 51 percent of the vote. Herseth becomes South Dakota's first congresswoman." LINK

Herseth will run again for re-election in November, and one has to wonder if presidential coattails are worth 3 points.

ABC New Vote 2004: the House:

Roll Call's Erin Billings reports, "Adopting a tactic their party bashed as a stunt in the watershed 1994 elections, House Democrats plan to unveil their election-year themes by rolling out a "Contract with America"-style legislative blueprint in September."

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