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The midterms: To surge or not to surge?

“The NRCC has shelled out at least a quarter-million dollars in 22 districts, bringing its total IE general election spending to just more than $11.3 million. That number represents about 45 percent of the $25.6 million that the NRCC had on hand on Aug. 31,” Roll Call reports. “The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee continues to hold back on spending its larger bank roll. The committee had spent about $4.1 million on independent expenditures in 29 districts as of Oct. 1, according to the latest report available from the Federal Election Commission. That total represents about 11 percent of the $39 million that the DCCC had on hand on Aug. 31.”

Stu Rothenberg’s skeptical of any Democrats claiming a “surge” in polling if they’re under 50%. “Most Democratic incumbents who are going to lose in November will get at least 45 percent of the vote. Many will get much more, losing by only 2 or 3 points. That’s what happens in elections. The Democratic base in most competitive districts is at least in the low to mid-40s. Given that, it isn’t surprising Democratic Members are even or slightly ahead at this point in some races. They aren’t going to get much of the undecided vote, so they need to be up near the 50 percent mark on Election Day to win.”

CALIFORNIA: “Trailing Sen. Barbara Boxer in fundraising and in polls, Carly Fiorina's Senate campaign has received a $2 million boost from the national Republican Party and is using the money for a statewide TV ad blaming Boxer for the country's economic woes,” the Silicon Valley Mercury News reports.

“A new TV ad from Democrat Ami Bera slams Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) for using a loophole to attend a lobbyist event in Hawaii. The spot features a shirtless Lungren putting on sunscreen poolside at a high-end resort.”

CONNECTICUT: So sorry… “Connecticut Democratic senatorial candidate Richard Blumenthal apologized last night during a debate for misleading voters about his military record during the Vietnam War -- after Republican rival Linda McMahon, in a hard-hitting TV ad, accused him of lying,” the New York Post writes.

The Hartford Courant: “In the high-stakes televised debate, neither candidate committed any major gaffes. Blumenthal, a Democrat, once again apologized for misstating his military record. McMahon, a Republican, acknowledged that the firm she once ran, World Wrestling Entertainment, had hired D.C. lobbyists. But there was scant mention of steroids, ‘Girls Gone Wild’ or any of the other controversies surrounding WWE.” And: “At one point, the candidates were asked to view and respond to a clip of their opponent's TV ad. Blumenthal's ad accused McMahon of "talking about lowering the minimum wage," an assertion she called a lie.”

Yet, McMahon did say, per The Day newspaper, "We have got minimum wages in states, we have got minimum wages in the (federal) government, and I think we ought to look at all of those issues in terms of what mandates are being placed on businesses and can they afford them. I think we should get input from our business community.”

DELAWARE: “In her first ad of the general election in Delaware, Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell plays off her notorious foray into witchcraft to make the case that she is within the mainstream,” Roll Call writes. She says in the opening of the ad: “I’m not a witch. I’m nothing you’ve heard. I’m you.”

The Washington Post: "O'Donnell (R) takes her negative public image on directly."

But being a witch is old news… There's always this: “Republican Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell of Delaware said in a 2006 debate that China was plotting to take over America and claimed to have classified information about the country that she couldn't divulge,” the AP writes. “She said China had a ‘carefully thought out and strategic plan to take over America’ and accused one opponent of appeasement for suggesting that the two countries were economically dependent and should find a way to be allies.”

ILLINOIS: “With barely four weeks left in the 2010 election cycle, Democrat Pat Quinn (43 percent) has opened up a six point lead over Republican Bill Brady (37 percent) in the Illinois race for governor,” according to a new Suffolk University poll. “Meanwhile, it’s nearly a dead heat in the race for the U.S. Senate. Republican Mark Kirk (42 percent) edges Democrat Alexi Giannoulias (41 percent), though the race is well within the statistical margin of error.”

INDIANA: “Indiana Democratic Senate candidate Brad Ellsworth is expected to finally climb back on the air Tuesday with an ad that singes Republican Dan Coats for his lobbyist ties and votes that ‘shipped jobs overseas,’ Politico reports. “The commercial hitting Coats is widely viewed as Ellsworth's last-ditch chance to show some movement against the former senator who left the upper chamber in 1999 to become a lobbyist for King & Spalding.”

IOWA: New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie last night was the keynote speaker –- and somewhat of a rock star -- at a West Des Moines fundraiser for GOP gubernatorial nominee Terry Branstad, NBC’s Shawna Thomas notes. The crowd laughed at his stories of fighting with the New Jersey state legislature and his self-deprecating jokes. Christie also helped bring in a wad of cash for Branstad, who told the crowd of about 800 people that this was, “the biggest and most successful fundraising event” he’d ever had in all his races for governor.

TEXAS: “Gov. Rick Perry and his Democratic opponent, Bill White, offered conflicting views Monday of reports that some of the governor’s biggest campaign donors were investors in companies that received awards from a state technology fund,” the Dallas Morning News wrote. “The News reported Sunday that at least eight large donors to Perry were investors in startup companies that received more than $16 million in awards from the technology fund. Perry’s office has oversight of the fund, and he must approve all awards.”

WISCONSIN: The Boston Globe goes to Madison, WI: “With the economy sour and voters complaining that leaders in Washington don’t listen, Wisconsinites are flirting with dumping their iconoclastic liberal senator in favor of a politically untested Republican businessman, Ron Johnson. The race is a strong indicator of the nation’s anti-incumbent mood, with a three-term senator struggling to win an election against someone whose biggest asset is that he’s not a politician.”