The Poll That Has Democrats Sweating

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • A 'CRISIS OF CONFIDENCE': Barack Obama and his political party are heading into the midterm elections in trouble. The president's 40 percent job approval rating in a new ABC News-Washington Post poll is the lowest of his career - and the Democratic Party's popularity is its weakest in polling back 30 years, with more than half of Americans seeing the party unfavorably for the first time, according to ABC News Pollster GARY LANGER. The Republican Party is even more unpopular. But benefiting from their supporters' greater likelihood of voting, GOP candidates nonetheless hold a 50-43 percent lead among likely voters for U.S. House seats in the Nov. 4 election. These and other results are informed by an array of public concerns on issues from the economy to international terrorism to the Ebola virus, crashing into a long-running crisis of confidence in the nation's political leadership. Almost two-thirds say the country is headed seriously off on the wrong track.
  • IN CONTEXT: History offers the Democrats cold comfort. Obama's approval rating matches George W. Bush's heading into the 2006 midterms, when the Republicans lost 30 seats, LANGER notes. The only postwar president numerically lower heading into a second midterm was Harry Truman, at 39 percent approval, in 1950; his Democrats lost 28 seats. While race-by-race assessments don't suggest those kinds of losses this year, the comparison adds context to the GOP's upper hand.
  • ON THE STUMP: President Obama holds his first public campaign rally of the cycle today for Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy in Bridgeport, ABC's DEVIN DWYER notes. ABC News has now learned that he will do six more before Election Day - all are for Democratic gubernatorial candidates in blue states. He will stump for only one U.S. Senate candidate, Gary Peters of Michigan, at a joint rally with Mark Schauer.


-LOUISIANA: LANDRIEU GIVES OBAMA A PASSING GRADE: It's not exactly an A+ rating, but when asked to rate President Obama on a scale of 1-10 in the Louisiana Senate big last night, vulnerable incumbent Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu said she'd give Obama "a 6 to a 7." Both of Landrieu's Republican challengers, Rep. Bill Cassidy and Col. Rob Maness, gave Obama a rating of zero. Another notable moment came in the debate's lightning round when Cassidy said he said "yes," he would support legalizing marijuana for medicinal uses. Landrieu said "no," as did Maness. - Jordyn Phelps

-KANSAS: A CHANGE OF HEART. It's been one of his biggest criticisms from disillusioned supporters; that the Pat Roberts of today is different than the Pat Roberts who first ran for U.S. Senate back in 1996. But video from a 1996 debate flagged by a C-SPAN staffer Tuesday is now coming back to haunt the three-term incumbent seeking reelection, where he said "I plan only to serve two terms in the U.S. Senate." It's a statement that his Independent opponent Greg Orman has explicitly pledged to, looking to appeal to the growing number of critics in Kansas who claim Roberts has become too cozy in his Virginia digs. In a statement provided to ABC News, Roberts explained his change of heart, saying, "I did plan to only serve two terms, but I'm a Marine. 9/11 changed everything in my mind. I felt like I had to serve." - Alexander Mallin

-IOWA: IT'S GETTING CLOSER. In a new Quinnipiac University poll released this morning the Iowa Senate race is still tight as can be with 47 percent for Republican Joni Ernst and 45 percent for Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley. Quinnipiac says the tighter margin than their last poll is because of "independent voters likely shift to the Democratic column." Their last poll in a September 17th survey had Ernst up six points. Let's look at the numbers. Independent voters are supporting Braley 48 to 43 percent, " a shift from Ernst's 50 - 43 percent lead among these key voters last month," the poll says. An important and positive sign for Braley: he leads 51 to 37 percent among those who have already voted. As for that all important "mind is made up" question 89 percent of Iowa likely voters say their mind is made up, while ten percent may change their mind. With favorability, 47 to 41 percent of voters have favorable opinion of Ernst, while for Braley he is underwater with a 42 percent favorable and 44 percent voters having an unfavorable opinion. - Shushannah Walshe

-KENTUCKY: GETTING TOUGHER ON THE TRAIL. The Alison Lundergan Grimes campaign may have shattered fundraising records raising nearly $4.9 million in the last quarter, but they got some tough news from national Democrats yesterday. An official with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee confirmed to ABC News they have spent more than $2 million in the hotly contested Senate race, but they currently have no ads on the air. And at least two liberal groups are calling on the Grimes campaign to pull an ad off the air that accuses Mitch McConnell of supporting "amnesty." They are calling the ad both "offensive" and "dehumanizing." When asked if they planned on taking down the ad, the campaign did not say yes or no instead releasing a statement from their campaign manager saying Grimes "favors comprehensive immigration reform" and saying McConnell's "hypocrisy on this issue is breathtaking." When asked again by ABC News if they planned to pull the ad, they sent a release detailing their fundraising numbers. - Shushannah Walshe


ABC's RICK KLEIN: Scary times bring anxious voters. That means they're looking for comfort - and finding it, generally speaking, in the Republican Party. The new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows President Obama at career lows for his handling of terrorism, international affairs, and immigration - a trifecta being exploited in GOP ads and in Senate debates. Other factors where Obama and the Democrats would expect to be in better standing - notably, their handling of the economy - aren't doing enough to provide a counterweight. Growing concerns about the possibility of a terrorist attack or an Ebola outbreak make for a toxic backdrop for Obama's first public campaign rally on behalf of a candidate Wednesday night. Gender breakdowns tell a key piece of the story. Female likely voters who say they're worried about a terrorist attack in the US support Republican candidates 55-39. Welcome back, security moms - just in time for the GOP. The "war on women" might be less effective as an issue if women fear war.

ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Big numbers coming out of the Republican Governors' Association this morning. As chairman since December 2013, Chris Christie has raised $90 million and the group raised $21.5 million in the third quarter. They plan to spend "well over $100 million" before Election Day in less than three weeks. It's a tough year for incumbent governors on both sides of the aisle and the RGA is defending 22 governorships, with 19 incumbents on the ballot, of the 36 races next month. According to the RGA, Christie has campaigned or fundraised in 35 states, including spending many of these last days before November on the road. Last night, though, he cancelled an event with Tom Foley in the tight Connecticut governor's race, one of the closest in the nation. Instead, he attended the opening of Ann Romney's Center for Neurological Diseases in Boston. The RGA says the event with Foley will be rescheduled.


WATCH MICHELLE OBAMA DANCE WITH A TURNIP. Fresh off the fall harvest in her White House garden, first lady Michelle Obama got down with a turnip. Her moves appeared in a Vine video posted to the @FLOTUS Twitter account in response to a question from Iman Crosson, a self-described actor/director who has impersonated her husband in humorous digital short films, ABC's DEVIN DWYER notes. The exchange was part of a Twitter Q&A hosted by the first lady's office Tuesday afternoon. Questions were collected en masse by her staff; later, she answered seven of them in Vine or SnappyTV videos posted to her account.

REPUBLICANS FIND ANOTHER WAY TO MOCK HILLARY CLINTON ONLINE. If you've taken a wrong turn on the GOP's website lately, you may have come across an unusual error message. ABC's KIRSTEN APPLETON reports that the 404 error page reads: "What do Hillary Clinton and this link have in common? They're both 'dead broke.'" The former secretary of state told Diane Sawyer earlier this year that she and President Bill Clinton "came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt" following his presidency. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton reportedly makes an average of $20,000 per individual speaking appearance. The Republican National Committee decided to take advantage of Clinton's choice of words on its website's error page. "Just like Hillary Clinton never misses a chance to charge quarter-million dollar speaking fees, we never miss a chance to hold her accountable for being out-of-touch," RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said.

MITT ROMNEY WRITES A PUBLIC LOVE LETTER TO HIS WIFE. Amid renewed 2016 speculation, Mitt Romney seems to have eyes for only one supporter: his wife, Ann Romney. According to ABC's ERIN DOOLEY, the former Republican presidential nominee praised his wife for her strength following her diagnosis with multiple sclerosis 15 years ago in an open letter posted on his blog. "It's been over fifteen years since we sat in the first neurologist's waiting room … We could handle anything, I said, as long as it wasn't terminal," Romney recalled. "From one of the wounded, you have become one of the warriors." Atop the post is a photo of a suave young Romney sprawled on a French beach next to the message, "I love Ann" written in the sand. "You are attacking not only MS, but also Alzheimer's, ALS, Parkinson's and brain tumors," Mitt Romney wrote in the letter. "I could not be more proud of the 15 year old girl I fell in love with almost 50 years ago."

U.S. RAMPS UP AIRSTRIKES ON ISIS IN KOBANI. U.S. warplanes have ramped up the number of airstrikes against ISIS fighters in the besieged city of Kobani, launching 21 airstrikes since Monday, officials said. It is the highest number of strikes since the start of the air campaign in Syria and is an indicator of how important the U.S. now sees the battle for Kobani, ABC's LUIS MARTINEZ reports. "Indications are that airstrikes have slowed [ISIS] advances," said a statement from U.S. Central Command. "However, the security situation on the ground there remains fluid, with ISIL attempting to gain territory and Kurdish militia continuing to hold out."


ISIS IS THE JV TEAM AND OTHER RISKY ANALOGIES BY POLITICIANS. President Obama made a famous fumble earlier this year when he compared ISIS to a JV team. But he is hardly the first politician to learn the power and perils that come with using analogies. Analogies have been used to both sell and plunder ideas through the ages, as former presidential speechwriter John Pollack details in his new book, "Shortcut: How Analogies Reveal Connections, Spark Innovation, and Sell Our Greatest Ideas." "It's easy to throw off a quick analogy and not think it through and people are so busy that one comes to mind, you say it, and then the horse has left the barn, so to speak," Pollack told "Top Line" during a recent interview. In his book, Pollack preaches about how to properly use analogies and advises analogy users to beware. WATCH:


WATCH HILLARY CLINTON CRACK HERSELF UP OVER POT JOKE. Hillary Clinton got laughs when she took a "pot" shot at Colorado's marijuana laws during a campaign stop at a coffee shop. ABC's LIZ KREUTZ reports that during the former secretary of state's visit to Denver Monday, a barista at the Pigtrain Coffee shop made Clinton a latte with artwork drawn in to the foam, and boy did she get excited. "Oh my god. Oh my god," Clinton said, summoning over Sen. Mark Udall, who she was campaigning for in the state. "Look at this. Look at this." Atop Clinton's latte was an image of a smiling pig, named after the local coffee shop the two politicians stopped by, that Clinton said she liked too much to actually drink. But, it was Udall's latte, topped with one simple leaf, that really sent Clinton cracking. "Look at you," she said to him in wonder as the barista handed the second beverage over. And then it clicked. "Is that a marijuana plant?" she quipped with a wink, the room erupting in laughter.


@HotlineJosh: Timeline: Landrieu runoff would be in DECEMBER. Georgia Senate runoff not until JANUARY 2015.

@zeltdc: NHGOP robocalls to tie Hassan to spending requests #nhpolitics …

@margarettalev: @GovChristie Hauls In Money for GOP Governors #2014 #RGA … via @bpolitics

@davelevinthal: Not all the run-for-president-Hillary PACs out there are flush with millions. Or even thousands. #FECDay

@AliABCNews: Shirtless Tony Abbott vs Shirtless Vladimir Putin is apparently a thing in Australia right now. …