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More midterms: The Tea Party caucus

The New York Times finds that “33 Tea Party-backed candidates are in tossup races or running in House districts that are solidly or leaning Republican, and 8 stand a good or better chance of winning Senate seats. While the numbers are relatively small, they could exert outsize influence, putting pressure on Republican leaders to carry out promises to significantly cut spending and taxes, to repeal health care legislation and financial regulations passed this year, and to phase out Social Security and Medicare in favor of personal savings accounts.”

(But could the Tea Party cost Republicans in some places they should have had a better shot at winning? Examples: AZ-8, FL-12, ID-1. What if the GOP comes up a seat or two short of control? Most would say that’s not likely, but just sayin’…)

"With only 18 days left until Election Day, an NPR survey of likely voters in battleground districts found that while the overall field still tilts to the GOP, Democrats are closing the gap in some places. The good news for Democrats is that they have improved their position in 58 of the battleground districts. In June, Democratic candidates trailed their Republican opponents in these districts by 8 points. Now, the GOP advantage is only 3 points. But, says Republican pollster Glen Bolger, the bad news for Democrats is that there are now more of their seats at risk. The battleground has expanded."

ALASKA: Yesterday, we wrote that the Alaska Senate race could be tighter than most thought, and here's a poll backing that up. The conservative Club for Growth had a poll out yesterday showing Joe Miller up just 33%-31%-27% over Lisa Murkowski and Scott McAdams.

ARKANSAS: "Republican Senate hopeful John Boozman on Thursday fought back against Sen. Blanche Lincoln's criticism of his military record, calling the Arkansas Democrat's charge that he's voted against veterans' programs a sign that her campaign's become desperate," the AP writes.

CALIFORNIA: "In an impromptu conversation with a follower on Twitter on Thursday, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) commented that the term 'whore' — used by a member of Jerry Brown's campaign about Republican opponent Meg Whitman — was 'unacceptable,'" The Hill reports.

CONNECTICUT: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie campaigned for Republican gubernatorial nominee Tom Foley yesterday, as Christie’s “cross-country barnstorming has only stoked speculation” about his 2012 aspirations, the Star Ledger writes.

FLORIDA: Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will campaign for Senate nominee Marco Rubio on Saturday, the St. Petersburg Times political blog writes.

GEORGIA: "Rep. Sanford Bishop’s campaign released a survey Thursday that showed the Georgia Democrat with a double-digit lead, one day after Republican Mike Keown circulated a two-week-old poll that showed the race to be a dead heat. Bishop led Keown 50 percent to 40 percent with 10 percent undecided," Roll Call reports.

In GA-8, "A day after making headlines by announcing he would not support Nancy Pelosi for another term as Speaker, Rep. Jim Marshall said he hopes more Democratic Members will join him in calling for new leadership in the party," Roll Call reports.

ILLINOIS: “Republican Bill Brady has opened up almost a nine-point lead over Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn in the statewide race for Illinois governor, according to a new poll of likely voters conducted by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.” The Marion Daily Republican writes, adding that the Senate race between Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Alexi Giannoulias “is a dead heat.”

PENNSYLVANIA: The Boston Globe looks at the runnin' rebels of the Pennsylvania Senate race: "Once painted as a renegade in moderate Pennsylvania, Toomey is finding that his once-spurned conservative message is now resonating across the heartland of the Keystone State. As a result, the Republican nominee is leading in the polls and imperiling the Democrats’ hold on the US Senate. His opponent is a rebel himself. US Representative Joseph Sestak has rebuked fellow Democrats, bucked White House requests that he not run for Senate, and bumped the party favorite, Senator Arlen Specter, from the race in the Democratic primary."