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The midterms: No RNC boots on the ground?

“The Republican National Committee has decided against sending Congressional staffers out on the campaign trail for traditional get-out-the-vote efforts, focusing its resources instead on mailings and other last-minute pre-election efforts, the committee confirmed Tuesday,” Roll Call reports. “The RNC traditionally runs the GOTV operation for Capitol Hill, which includes recruiting and registering staff that want to help the GOP at the state level… Doug Heye, a spokesman for the RNC, said the money would instead be used to fund other parts of its ‘72-hour program,’ such as paid mail. Heye said the RNC made the decision after a review of deployments during the 2009 elections in New Jersey and Virginia. After the review, the committee determined that the program was not cost-effective.”

(Paid mail?? Are they mailing it in?)

Here’s our take on the new NBC/WSJ poll: "With Election Day exactly five weeks away, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows that the battle for control of Congress has tightened, as key Democratic-leaning demographic groups are expressing more enthusiasm about the upcoming midterms... Despite what the NBC/WSJ pollsters say is natural tightening, however, the overall dynamics heading into the election remain the same: Nearly six in 10 think the country is headed in the wrong direction; just a third believe the economy will improve in the next year; President Barack Obama’s approval rating is stuck in the mid 40s; and political independents are favoring the GOP."

Here’s the Journal’s: "The tea party has emerged as a potent force in American politics and a center of gravity within the Republican Party, with a large majority of Republicans showing an affinity for the movement that has repeatedly bucked the GOP leadership this year, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll has found... In the survey, 71% of Republicans described themselves as tea-party supporters, saying they had a favorable image of the movement or hoped tea- party candidates would do well in the Nov. 2 elections."

“House Democrats are going to bat for some of their longest-serving members in new advertisements, a recognition that longevity in DC has put veteran committee chairmen in serious danger of losing their seats,” the Hotline writes of new ads on behalf of Reps. Ike Skelton (D-MO), John Spratt (D-SC) and Paul Kanjorski (D-PA).

“As of Tuesday, early voting was open in 26 states, including the battlegrounds of Ohio, Kentucky, Florida, Missouri and West Virginia,” The Hill writes, adding, “Given the large enthusiasm gap between the Republican and Democratic bases, GOP operatives think early voting will work in their party’s favor in the majority of competitive states this fall, giving Republican campaigns the ability to bank votes, Obama-style, with conservative voters chomping at the bit.”

CALIFORNIA: “In a blustery and vigorous first debate, gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown dueled Tuesday over their differing solutions to California's dire problems, with Whitman slighting Brown as a tool of labor unions and Brown excoriating her as a billionaire running for office to benefit the rich,” the L.A. Times recaps. “From start to finish, the one-hour debate was a distillation of the months of the general election race, its tone set by an early question about how each would grapple with the state's $19-billion budget deficit.”

“U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias tells voters he was gone from his troubled family bank by late 2005, but that's not what he told the Internal Revenue Service,” the Chicago Tribune reports. “Giannoulias was able to take a $2.7 million tax deduction last year because he reported working hundreds of hours at Broadway Bank in 2006. Giannoulias says there's no contradiction, and in fact there is no suggestion the Democratic state treasurer took a tax break he didn't deserve. Rather, the issue highlights the fine line Giannoulias walks on the campaign trail in explaining exactly what he did at Broadway and when he did it. The bank was at the top of his résumé when he was a 30-year-old first-time statewide candidate in 2006 with few professional highlights. But in his tight Senate race against Republican Mark Kirk, his tenure as a senior loan officer at Broadway is a bull's-eye for critics who hit him for the bank's loans to mob figures as well as troubled lending that contributed to Broadway's collapse earlier this year.”

A Tea Party group says that Republican House candidate Robert Dold asked “that he not be rated highly” by the group’s voter guide, which the group wrote indicates “that he wishes to be viewed as a moderate.” Wrote the Chicago Daily Herald, “Dold acknowledged someone with his campaign told the group he is a moderate, but he denied asking for a low ranking.” (hat tip: Hotline)

MARYLAND: A Washington Post poll has incumbent Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley leading Republican challenger and former Gov. Bob Ehrlich 52%-41%.

MASSACHUSETTS: The Boston Globe looks at Republican gubernatorial candidate Charles Baker’s stewardship of health-care company Harvard Pilgrim and the controversial decision to pull the company out of Rhode Island, which forced “1,200 physicians and other employees to search for new jobs. Thousands of patients suddenly had to find new doctors, and about 128,000 subscribers scrambled for other health insurance.”

MISSOURI: Politico writes that chances of a Democratic Senate victory are diminishing, as nominee Robin Carnahan’s “strategy of rendering Blunt the virtual incumbent and highlighting his longtime ties to the unseemly side of Beltway politics may not be enough in a battleground state that voted against Barack Obama at the peak of his popularity in 2008.”

NEVADA: “Comedian Dennis Miller plans to headline a fundraiser for U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle this Saturday night in Las Vegas,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal writes.

NEW YORK: “The more New Yorkers get to know Carl Paladino, the less they like him, an exclusive Daily News/Marist Poll found,” the New York Daily News reports. “Nearly half of likely voters initially said Paladino is unfit to be governor. That figure jumped to nearly 60% once voters were told of Paladino's rants, such as his plan to bring a baseball bat to Albany and house welfare recipients in converted prisons.”

“Republican Carl Paladino ripped Democrat Andrew Cuomo's new jobs plan ‘as more empty promises’ yesterday, while the attorney general slammed the Buffalo builder as ‘extreme’ on his home turf,” The New York Post writes. “The gubernatorial candidates traded blows as Cuomo visited the Buffalo waterfront to propose a series of tax credits, regulatory changes and business-development programs, part of a 181-page job-creation plan. A dozen Paladino supporters, including one costumed duck hired by Paladino to mock Cuomo's efforts to evade the Republican's questions, turned out to picket the event.”

PENNSYLVANIA: “’The reports of the death of the Democratic Party are premature,’ Vice President Joe Biden assured a Penn State University campus crowd Tuesday. ‘We're going to do just fine,’ the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. “The Biden rally was a long-distance opening act to a coast-to-coast administration push to rekindle student enthusiasm for its goals and for the election of enough Democratic candidates to ward off Republican takeovers of one or both houses of Congress.”