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More midterm mania

In a two-parter, USA Today analyzes Census data and finds that "House districts held by Republicans are full of married people.  Democratic districts are stacked with people who have never married...  Most serious Democratic challenges this fall are in Republican-controlled House districts that have lower marriage rates."  A second story says Democratic districts also contain fewer children than GOP districts, and that this "'fertility gap' is crucial to understanding the differences between liberals and conservatives...  These childbearing patterns shape divisions over issues such as welfare, education and child tax credits." 

The New York Times says that Democrats and Republicans began running at least 30 new campaign ads yesterday in House and Senate contests -- and just three of them were positive.  "The result of the dueling accusations has been what both sides described on Tuesday as the most toxic midterm campaign environment in memory."  (But don't we always say that?) 

Roll Call reports that the RNC has devoted nearly a third of its advertising budget to just three Senate races -- Missouri, Ohio, and Tennessee -- "with all indications that the committee hopes to build a firewall around those states to ensure the chamber's GOP majority." 

"House Democrats are making an intense final push to raise inside-the-Beltway money before Congress adjourns, collecting most of it from the lobbying industry they have distanced themselves from this election cycle," The Hill reports. 

Former national party committee chairs Ed Gillespie (R) and Terry McAuliffe (D) speak at the National Press Club today.

While CALIFORNIA Democrats are discouraged about Phil Angelides' chances of defeating Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), Democratic presidential contenders are flocking to help him: "former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina and Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and John F. Kerry of Massachusetts.  Due in soon are New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Sen. Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut and retired Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark."  Why are they trekking to California?  Because that's where the money is.    

Two new polls show Schwarzenegger widening his lead over Angelides.  "Schwarzenegger has jumped to a 17 percentage-point advantage over the state treasurer, according to a survey from the Public Policy Institute of California," the San Francisco Chronicle says.  Similarly, a new Field Poll shows Schwarzenegger with a 10-point lead among likely voters. The Angelides camp insists they have time to build momentum before the election, and credit the new multi-million dollar campaign led by a coalition of unions. 

Current RNC chair Ken Mehlman raises money for COLORADO gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez in Washington today. 
The AP summarizes the problems that have plagued Beauprez in a contest that was expected to be more competitive than it's proving to be. 

Behind in the polls, FLORIDA Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jim Davis is campaigning with former rival Rod Smith.  "Smith said no details have been worked out," but that "he may be helpful in counties that Davis lost" in the primary, reports the Miami Herald

The Democratic Senate campaign committee (DSCC) and MARYLAND GOP Senate nominee Michael Steele's campaign are in a tête-à-tête ad race.  The Washington Times writes up a new ad released by the DSCC that says Steele "loves" Bush.  Steele "responded by releasing an ad that criticizes his Democratic opponent, Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, for taking money from drug companies and voting against the importation of prescription drugs from Canada." 

After being upstaged in her first debate of the general election by independent candidate Christy Mihos, Republican Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, who's running for governor in MASSACHUSETTS, is challenging Democrat Deval Patrick to a one-on-one debate. 

Making his most "extensive comments" on the race to date, Gov. Mitt Romney (R) defended Healey against the attacks launched at her during the recent debate.  But "Romney's pointed rebuttal also served to defend his legacy as he readies for a possible run for president in 2008." 

The Hill gets some MISSOURI Democrats to complain that Senate nominee Claire McCaskill is failing to capitalize on the state's minimum wage and stem-cell ballot initiatives to help turn out the vote in November. 

In TEXAS, the Houston Chronicle reports, syndicated gossip columnist Liz Smith created an uproar when she implied that the late Gov. Ann Richards (D) had supported independent Kinky Friedman's gubernatorial campaign.  But she later recanted that comment. 

As VIRGINIA Sen. George Allen (R) prepares to meet with the Iraqi President today, Allen's Democratic opponent Jim Webb is attacking him in a TV ad for supporting the war in Iraq.  Allen's campaign also continues to grapple with charges that he used racial epithets in his younger days.  Top Allen supporter and former RNC chair Ed Gillespie went at it with MSNBC's Chris Matthews over the latter on Hardball yesterday while the Allen campaign continued to try to discredit the chief source of the new allegations.