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The midterms: The Dems' Big 10 problems

"With polls showing Republicans well-positioned to win the Senate and gubernatorial contests in both Ohio and Pennsylvania, House Democratic strategists are increasingly worried about the down-ballot drag the top of the ticket could have in the two battleground states," Roll Call writes.

Stu Rothenberg notes states where Democrats will be hurt because of the top of the ticket: "[A]n unusual dynamic also seems to be working against Democrats this year that could add to the party’s woes: the weakness of both Democratic Senate and gubernatorial candidates in some key states." Some states that are tough: Illinois, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and the worst of all: Ohio. He also argues that California helps Republicans and Nevada's effect is unclear at this point.

The AP notes the sleeper issue of abortion: "An unusually large contingent of female Republican candidates with strong anti-abortion views is heating up debate on the issue and could change the political equation in the next Congress. In California, Nevada, Delaware and New Hampshire, the GOP nominees for seats in the U.S. Senate are women who favor outlawing most abortions. All have been endorsed by Sarah Palin, who calls herself a 'pro-life feminist.' A win by any one of them would fill a void. All 17 women now in the Senate, including four Republicans, support relatively broad abortion rights."

CALIFORNIA: “California First Lady Maria Shriver has managed to put together the ‘must-see’ event of the campaign season: an unscripted converstion between California gubernatorial candidates Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman, who'll join Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on stage in conversation about governing California at her upcoming Women’s Conference in Long Beach,” the San Francisco Chronicle writes.

COLORADO: Ken Buck leads Michael Bennet 49%-44% in a CNN/Time poll. And in the governor's race, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper leads Constitution Party candidate and former Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo, 47%-29% with Republican Dan Maes pulling 21%. http://bit.ly/a7SM3m and http://bit.ly/cYPc7c

DELAWARE: Chris Coons leads Christine O'Donnell 55%-39% in a CNN/Time poll. http://bit.ly/cYPc7c

KENTUCKY: "Lawyer Andy Barr (R) is within 7 points of Rep. Ben Chandler (D) in the Lexington-based 6th district, according to a new internal Barr campaign polling memo obtained by Roll Call. The poll, which was in the field Monday and Tuesday, showed the Congressman ahead 49 percent to 42 percent, with 9 percent undecided. Barr’s poll is not only significant because it showed the Congressman under the all-important 50 percent mark, but it also pushes back against a Chandler poll from earlier this week that showed the Congressman with a 20-point lead. A Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee survey from earlier this month put Chandler up by 14 points."

MASSACHUSETTS: "The Republican Governors Association will launch an advertising blitz today aimed directly at Governor Deval Patrick, training its fire on the Democratic incumbent after spending much of the spring and summer wounding state Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill’s independent bid for the corner office," the Boston Globe reports. "The estimated $1.8 million ad campaign appears to be modeled on a strategy the association used successfully last."

NEW HAMPSHIRE: “Attorney Ovide Lamontagne, who came within 1,667 votes of defeating former state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte in the GOP primary for Senate, is headlining a fundraiser for the new nominee next week,” Politico writes.

NEW YORK: The Daily News' Daly: "Hey, Carl, you don't have to become Gov. Paladino to give taxpayers a break and cut the state budget. You can do it right now. Just cut the $5,251,415 in rent you collect each year on 28 leases with 17 state agencies."

The New York Times front-pages Dem worries about the new Quinnipiac poll, which shows Paladino just six points behind Andrew Cuomo. Andrew M. Cuomo’s painstakingly constructed veneer of political invincibility began to crack on Wednesday, as he and his advisers struggled with how to handle his combative opponent in the race for New York governor, Carl P. Paladino, whom a new poll showed with unexpected strength.”

OHIO: National Journal writes that the Buckeye State contains “the voters Obama is losing -- white-collar managers in Columbus, blue-collar union workers in Youngstown, pro-life independents around Cincinnati,” which are “are exactly the types he needs to win re-election in 2012, and they're backing away from his party in droves.”

PENNSYLVANIA: Pat Toomey (R) leads Joe Sestak (D) in the CNN/Time poll.

In PA-3, Kathy Dahlkemper trails 42%-38% against lawyer Mike Kelly in a Franklin & Marshall poll.

VIRGINIA: "A local ABC television affiliate in Lynchburg, Va., this week pulled an ad run by the conservative third-party group Americans for Job Security after Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) said the ads were false and misleading. AJS references the study when it says, 'Rick Boucher supports Nancy Pelosi 96 percent of the time' in its ad, which went on the air Sept. 9," Roll Call reports. "But after Boucher’s complaint, WSET-TV President Randy Smith reviewed the ad and found that the Washington Post study “does not appear to compare votes by Congressman Boucher with those by Ms. Pelosi nor does it equate Ms. Pelosi with the Democratic Party. Hence the ad appears to be misleading.”

WISCONSIN: Ron Johnson (R) leads Russ Feingold (D) 51%-45% in the CNN/Time poll.