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First thoughts: The NRCC makes its move

NRCC makes it move, reserving time in 40 congressional districts… The move copies what Dems did in ’06, but it also means that the GOP will be banking on a wave to take back the House… It’s Primary Day in Washington state (where polls close at 11:00 pm ET) and Wyoming (9:00 pm ET)… Obama is in Washington state, where he raises money for Patty Murray at 3:45 pm ET and 5:35 pm ET… NBC/WSJ poll results on reducing the deficit… Emily’s List vs. Palin… And profiling IA-3.

*** The NRCC makes it move: Earlier this summer, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced it was reserving $49 million in TV airtime in 60 congressional districts across the country, 54 of which are currently held by Democrats. Now, Politico writes, the National Republican Congressional Committee is responding by reserving $22 million in TV airtime in 40 districts, 39 of which are Dem-held seats. Facing a 2-to-1 cash-on-hand disadvantage to its Dem counterpart, the NRCC is concentrating its finite resources on what it considers its top pick-up opportunities, rather than spreading it out among a larger universe of Dem-held districts. In fact, this is exactly what Rahm Emanuel’s DCCC did in 2006 -- focus on a narrow number of districts and hope that outside groups and a wave help elsewhere.

*** 'It's a once in a lifetime opportunity, man! Let me go out there and let me get one wave, just one wave before you take me in': But this also underscores the GOP’s challenge in picking up the net 39 House seats it needs to take back the House in November: Because Republicans likely aren’t going to win in all of these 40 districts, they’re banking on outside groups -- and, more importantly, a wave -- to win control of the House. That said, Republicans tell us this $22 million is only the down payment for its fall advertising blitz. By the way, per Politico, here’s the full list of the 40 districts where the NRCC plans to run its TV ads: AL-2, AR-1, CA-11, CO-4, FL-2, FL-8, FL-24, GA-8, IL-10, IL-11, IN-2, IN-8, IN-9, K-3, KY-6, MD-1, MI-1, MI-7, MS-1, NH-1, NV-3, NM-2, NY-20, NY-24, ND-AL, OH-1, OH-15, OH-16, PA-3, PA-7, PA-11, SC-5, SD-AL, TN-8, TX-17, TX-23, VA-2, VA-5, WV-1, and WI-7.

*** Another Primary Day: President Obama today takes his midsummer campaign tour to Washington state, where he hits two fundraisers for vulnerable Sen. Patty Murray (D) at 3:45 pm ET and 5:35 pm ET. And it just happens to be Primary Day in the state. (A Murray aide tells First Read that the president’s visit on Primary Day is a coincidence.) Interestingly, Washington is a Top-2 primary state, which means that the two candidates who get the most votes -- regardless of party -- advance to the general election. Because of that system, we’ll get an early gauge of Murray’s support (does she get above or below 45%?), as well as the support for the GOP field (which consists of front-runner Dino Rossi, Palin-backed Clint Didier, and Paul Akers). Polls in Washington close at 11:00 pm ET. It’s also Primary Day in Wyoming, where a crowded field of Democrats and Republicans are running to succeed term-limited Gov. Dave Freudenthal (D). The real action is on the GOP side, with state Auditor Rita Meyer (who’s backed by Palin), former U.S. Attorney Matt Mead, state Agriculture Commissioner Ron Micheli, and state House Speaker Colin Simpson (son of former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson). Polls close there at 9:00 pm ET.

*** Two more comments on the mosque story: One, Harry Reid did Democrats (and the White House) no favor when he said yesterday that the mosque shouldn’t be built near Ground Zero; by responding to his opponent, Reid now makes it harder for other Dems to avoid the topic. Two, as former Bush adviser Mark McKinnon said yesterday, how can conservatives claim being protectors of the Constitution if they are going to willingly question aspects of it, like freedom of religion or birthright citizenship?

*** Is the public unwilling to make the tough choices on the deficit? By now, most Americans know that the U.S. budget deficit has ballooned in size. Unfortunately, according to our recent NBC/WSJ poll, Americans aren’t in agreement about the tough choices to reduce it. Just 36% said the general Democratic course of action -- raising taxes on families making over $250,000, raising taxes on multinational corporations, cutting some military spending, and reducing Medicare and Medicaid payments to doctors -- is acceptable. And only 25% said the Republican course -- avoiding tax increases, relying primarily on cutting spending, and slashing Medicare, Medicaid, education, and transportation spending -- is acceptable. What’s more, 71% said they would vote against a ballot measure cutting defense, education, border-control, and environmental spending.

*** Some fixes are more popular than others: Now some individual ways to reduce the deficit are more popular than others. For instance, 74% support making Medicare a more needs-based program; 72% back increasing taxes for multinational corporations; 64% agree to slow the growth of health-provider payments; 58% want to raise the cap on taxable income for Social Security; and 55% support increasing taxes on families who make more than $250,000. On the other hand, 41% want to cut defense weapons systems; 40% support raising Medicare payroll taxes; 36% back raising the Social Security retirement age to 70; 33% want to raise the age for Medicare eligibility; 32% support enacting a new national sales tax (VAT) on consumer goods and services; only 22% support reducing spending on public education; and just 20% back increasing taxes on all Americans.

*** But when you focus on it…: Interestingly, the Wall Street Journal commissioned a focus group in Richmond, VA on ways to reduce the deficit, and its conclusion was that the public IS willing to take drastic steps to fix it. Perhaps this means that the more voters hear about this, the more willing they are to make the tough decisions. “Leonard Anderson, 56 years old, a Richmond, Va., drug-maker engineer and a Republican, said he would be willing to accept a national sales tax to raise revenues. Kimberly Moore, 46, a Richmond Democrat and bank information-technology analyst, said everyone will have to accept budget cuts. And at 67, Paul DesJardins, a Henrico, Va., Republican, said he would accept higher Medicare co-payments and deductibles.”

*** Emily’s List vs. Palin: At 10:30 am ET at the National Press Club in DC, pro-choice Emily’s List is announcing a new campaign called “Sarah Doesn’t Speak For Me,” blasting Sarah Palin and the candidates she’s endorsed this campaign cycle.

*** 75 House races to watch: IA-3: The Democratic nominee is seven-term incumbent Leonard Boswell, and the GOP nominee is state Sen. Brad Zaun. Obama got 54% of the vote in this district in ’08, and Bush beat Kerry here by just 267 votes in ’04. As of June 30, Boswell had $734,000 in the bank, while Zaun had $100,000. Bowell voted yes for the stimulus, cap-and-trade, and health care. Both Cook and Rothenberg rate it Lean Democrat.

*** More midterm news: In Illinois, “Kimberly Vertolli, the ex-wife of Illinois Senate nominee Mark Kirk -- who recently called a top Kirk consultant, Dodie McCracken, a "kind of Svengali figure in his life" -- will begin advising his campaign,” the Chicago Sun-Times writes… And in Iowa, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will endorse 11 new candidates for office in the first-in-the-nation caucus state, Politico reports.

Countdown to WA and WY primaries
Countdown to AK, AZ, FL, and VT primaries: 7 days
Countdown to Election Day 2010: 77 days

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