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Obama agenda: Gaspard out?

"The skids are greased for the top New Yorker in the White House to be out of a job because of the expected GOP tsunami, the Daily News has learned. Political director Patrick Gaspard has told friends he expects to be the fall guy if Republicans romp in the Nov. 2 election, sources confirmed."

"Vice President Biden headlined a pair of New York cash bashes on Tuesday, gobbling up donors' dollars for Long Island Rep. Tim Bishop and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand," The New York Daily News reports.

The reasons why Dems are on the verge of losing the House… And why Republicans could fall short… Why the anger and high emotions we’re seeing feel different from past cycles… GOP continues to expand the House playing field… Our primer on midterm turnout… Wrapping up the final Crist-Meek-Rubio debate… Matt Lauer’s challenge to Brown and Whitman… And profiling PA-17.


From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Ali Weinberg

FIRST THOUGHTS.

*** Why Dems are on the verge of losing the House: Over the last two days, we’ve explained how Republicans could win control of the House, or how Democrats could be able to hold on to their majority. Today, we turn to the why. Here’s why Democrats are on the verge of losing the House and maybe (though much less likely) the Senate. Part of it would be history (a president's party almost always loses seats in a midterm cycle). Part of it would be the nation's disinclination of one-party control. Much of it would be due to the nation's high unemployment rate (9.6%), and the economic stimulus' inability to reduce it substantially over the past two years. Just those four items in one stew would be enough to put Democrats on the verge of a loss in House control, but it doesn't end there. Another culprit would be Democrats’ inability to sell the public on the health-care law and their inability to fire up their base. Outside GOP money has played a role, too, by expanding the playing field. And there's this: Democrats, after two years in FULL control, were unable to deliver on their biggest thematic promise to change the way the Washington works.

*** Why Republicans could fall short: And if Republicans are unable to win the House and rack up substantial Senate gains? Part of it would be the sheer number of seats they need to gain to win majorities (39 for the House and 10 for the Senate). Part of it would be the Tea Party pushing the GOP too far to the right, especially in non-GOP friendly states and districts. And much of it would be due to the Republican Party's inability to develop new ideas after its defeats in '06 and '08 (after all, our poll shows the GOP with a lower fav/unfav than the Dem Party).

*** Why this cycle feels different: We’ve seen plenty of anger, frustration, and high emotions in past campaigns. But the anger this cycle -- culminating in Monday’s stomping in Kentucky -- feels so much more different. Just think back to the contentious town halls in the summer of 2009, Joe Wilson’s “You lie,” and Newt Gingrich agreeing that the best way to describe the president is as a Kenyan anti-colonialist. More recently, we’ve seen the Carl Paladino phenomenon, a candidate’s security detail handcuffing a reporter, and Frank Caprio telling the president to “shove it.” And then there's all the women candidates (from both parties) aggressively saying, "Man up." Maybe our memories are too short, but the level of anger, disrespect, and incivility seems to be at an all-time high right now.

*** 1992 and 2010: The only comparison to now that comes to mind is 1992 after the congressional check-writing scandal. Folks forget: The reason a Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan had openings was due to distrust of the parties and Washington in general. And 1992 and 1994 were more intertwined than people realize -- just as in some ways 2008 and 2010 are both alike and different in some ways. The same national disappointment in 1992 and 1994 propelled Bill Clinton into the presidency and Republicans into the congressional majority two years later. Is that what's happening here -- hunger for change propels Obama in 2008 and Republicans two years later? But it's also not THAT easy of an explanation. The long-term discontent needs to be factored in as well. The 1992 and 1994 cycles didn't have the long-term frustration; these last two, actually three cycles (toss in 2006) include a worry of LONG term discontent.

*** Expanding the House playing field: Those of us who live in the DC area are seeing just how wide the House field is expanding, with the DCCC now running TV ads to protect Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly, who represents a district Obama won with 57% of the vote in 2008. As Hotline reports, the DCCC has purchased “$21.6 million worth of air time in 66 districts… Among those 66 districts, many were once considered safe Democratic seats, including those held by Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) and Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.). Only three of the seats in which Democrats are advertising are held by Republicans.” Bottom line: Democrats are doing what they can -- just so they might be able to get their congressional majority back in 2012. And the reason Dems are having to go into these once-safe seats is largely due to outside GOP groups. Democrats aren’t going to win or lose the House because of these groups. But these groups are impacting the size of the wave that’s coming… Any gain over 52 seats may be directly attributable to the GOP outside groups. By the way, if Democrats had this kind of extra money in 2006, they would have gained the extra 20 seats in 2006 that they eventually picked up two years later. http://bit.ly/9oht8u

*** Midterm turnout: In yet another effort to turn out younger voters, President Obama this afternoon tapes an appearance for Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show,” which will air later tonight. With so much focus on turnout, it’s important to offer this reminder: Historically, fewer people turn out to vote in midterm elections than in presidential contests -- about 30% less, on average, since 1980. For instance, in 2006, the turnout was 86 million (more than 40% of the eligible voting population). In 2008, however, it was 133 million (almost 62% of the eligible voting population). Also, don’t miss MSNBC.com’s Carrie Dann’s preview of Saturday’s Stewart/Colbert rally. http://bit.ly/cBx57g

*** The final Crist-Meek-Rubio debate: For “TODAY” this morning, here's how NBC's Kelly O'Donnell reported on last night's final Florida Senate debate, which was moderated by NBC’s David Gregory: "All three candidates knocked the Republican Party, including the Republican, Marco Rubio... 'Now, I think the Republican Party is to blame for much of what's happened in Washington.'" Here’s the Miami Herald’s write-up: “In Crist's last chance to chip away at front-runner Marco Rubio, with only one week left before the election, the governor frequently found himself playing defense in response to tough questions from moderator David Gregory… In three separate lines of questioning, Gregory pressed Crist to explain his defection from the Republican Party, unwillingness to say which party he would caucus with in Congress if elected and his changed positions on issues like adoption by same-sex couples, which he now favors.” http://bit.ly/bXr5cj

*** Tear down these negative ads: “Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman were pressed by NBC's Matt Lauer to end their negative advertising for the final week of the gubernatorial campaign,” the L.A. Times reports. “Lauer, who moderated a discussion involving the two candidates and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, asked each of the candidates to take down their negative ads until Election Day. Brown flinched at first, saying ‘negativity is in the eye of the beholder,’ but came around when the crowd began to articulate its disapproval.” More: “Whitman said she would continue to air ads that show where Brown stands on the issues. ‘I will take down any ads that can be construed as a negative attack. But I don't think we can take down the ads that talk about where Gov. Brown is on the issues,’ Whitman said.” http://lat.ms/b2t5BW

*** 75 House races to watch: PA-17: The Democratic nominee is Rep. Tim Holden, who was first elected in 1992. The GOP nominee is state Sen. Dave Argall. In 2008, McCain won 51% in this district, while Bush won 58% in 2004. As of Oct. 13, Murphy had about $163,000 cash on hand, versus Argall’s $55,000. Holden voted for the stimulus, but against both cap-and-trade and health care. Cook rates the race as Likely Democratic; Rothenberg rates it Democrat Favored.

Countdown to Election Day 2010: 6 days


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THE MIDTERMS: House playing field expands

USA Today: “The battle for control of the Senate focused on a handful of tossup races Tuesday, even as the fight for the House expanded into more Democratic districts.” http://usat.ly/cqSw3P

Hotline adds, “The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is making a last ditch effort to survive a GOP wave by blanketing the airwaves in more than 60 districts in the final week of the campaign. According to FEC filings late Tuesday, the DCCC purchased $21.6 million worth of air time in 66 districts. The ad buys represent the breadth of the GOP 's momentum. Among those 66 districts, many were once considered safe Democratic seats, including those held by Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) and Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.). Only three of the seats in which Democrats are advertising are held by Republicans.” http://bit.ly/9oht8u

Based on its latest round of district polls, The Hill has this headline: "Midterm blowout: 50 or more Dem seats set to fall in the election." From its story: "Of the 42 districts polled for The Hill, all but two of which are currently Democratic, 31 had Republicans in the lead. Democrats were up in just seven, and four were tied. In addition, there are some 15 Democratic districts that are so far into the GOP win column that they weren’t polled. That would suggest at least 46 GOP pickups, plus whatever the party gets out of another 40 or 50 seats that some experts believe are in play." http://bit.ly/aHkEA4

And it finds: "Longtime Democratic incumbents are a seriously endangered species. ... Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt (D-S.C.) is down 10 percentage points, while Reps. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.) and Chet Edwards (D-Texas) are each losing by 12. Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.), who is serving his 13th term, is trailing by five." http://bit.ly/c6eJjf

Despite the GOP’s outside-group advantage, the New York Times reminds us that Democratic candidates have the spending edge over their GOP counterparts. “Even with a recent surge in fund-raising for Republican candidates, Democratic candidates have outraised their opponents over all by more than 30 percent in the 109 House races The New York Times has identified as in play. And Democratic candidates have significantly outspent their Republican counterparts over the last few months in those contests, $119 million to $79 million.” http://nyti.ms/c00Eh7

ALASKA: "Alaska GOP Senate hopeful Joe Miller was suspended for three days and referred to an employee assistance program after admitting to improperly using three government computers, then cleaning the caches to cover up the activities, according to personnel records released Tuesday under court order. The personnel records were obtained by The Associated Press, the Alaska Dispatch, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner and the Anchorage Daily News, under open records requests and a subsequent lawsuit. Miller had until Tuesday afternoon to appeal the release, but chose not to." http://bit.ly/b2b87L

"The Alaska Division of Elections has come under fire for providing a list of certified write-in candidates to voters at polling places, an unprecedented move that critics suggest was done to aid Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who is running as a write-in," Roll Call reports. "The state Republican and Democratic parties have joined to sue the Division of Elections to force the agency to stop providing the list, the Anchorage Daily News reported Tuesday." http://bit.ly/a3VRKq

CONNECTICUT: The AP looks at state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's wealth. His wife's family is part owner of the Empire State Building. Their fortune is estimated to be between $55.3 million and $107 million. (Blumenthal's opponent, Linda McMahon has already spent more than $40 million of her own money on the Senate bid and has vowed to give $50 million. http://bit.ly/8Z0d29

KENTUCKY: Is that an apology? Rand Paul supporter Tim Profitt, who stomped on the neck and head of a MoveOn.org supporter said of his actions: “I’m sorry that it came to that, and I apologize if it appeared overly forceful, but I was concerned about Rand’s safety,” Profitt told the AP. And, per Roll Call: "He said the video made the confrontation appear worse than it was." The man has been banned from future Paul events. http://bit.ly/bTdeHt

NEVADA: Angle's using decoys now? "Sharron Angle used a decoy to dupe a pack of reporters who were waiting for the Senate candidate outside a campaign event in Nevada on Monday," The New York Daily News writes. "As Angle wrapped up a closed-to-the-press appearance at the Microsoft Licensing office in Reno, a campaign staffer in a car near a group of assembled reporters was overheard saying loudly into a phone, 'She’s ready? She’s coming out now?' the Las Vegas Sun reported. Two women then got into the car while Angle apparently slipped away through another exit, avoiding the reporters, The Sun reported." http://bit.ly/d1L6Ev

WEST VIRGINIA: The Boston Globe sums it up: "Governor Joe Manchin is running what seems to be a classic Republican campaign for the US Senate in West Virginia." http://bit.ly/99dF8A

YESTERDAY’S DEBATES: Last rumble in Florida

“The portable fan that Gov. Charlie Crist insists on at every public appearance could be seen and even heard during Tuesday's televised debate, but it didn't keep the independent U.S. Senate candidate out of the hot seat,” the Miami Herald writes. “In Crist's last chance to chip away at front-runner Marco Rubio, with only one week left before the election, the governor frequently found himself playing defense in response to tough questions from moderator David Gregory of NBC`s Meet the Press.”

“In three separate lines of questioning, Gregory pressed Crist to explain his defection from the Republican Party, unwillingness to say which party he would caucus with in Congress if elected and his changed positions on issues like adoption by same-sex couples, which he now favors. Holding up a copy of the Republican platform, Gregory asked, `’Were you unaware that was an entrenched part of the Republican Party, or did somehow you change for political expediency?’” http://bit.ly/bXr5cj

GOP WATCH: Enter the lobbyists

The New York Times writes how Washington lobbyists are raising money for Dave Camp, Republican congressman who would assume the powerful Ways and Means Committee if Republicans take back the House. “Across Washington, lobbyists have been working behind the scenes now for months to prepare for this possible power shift. Former aides to Mr. Camp, who now work as lobbyists, are checking in with their onetime boss, chatting with him and his aides about staff appointments he might make when he takes over the Ways and Means Committee, and what tax or health care issues will be at the top of his agenda. Other lobbyists have gone to his staff to try to get to the head of the line in presenting proposed tax changes that will benefit their clients.” http://nyti.ms/bOqkXW

White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer blogs, “This should come as no surprise given the track record of Congressional Republicans over the past two years. Rather than listen to the American people, Congressional Republicans have repeatedly shown their loyalty to these special interests by retreating behind closed doors to strategize with their lobbyists on the most critical issues for the American people.” http://bit.ly/aVEUjZ

The Washington Post runs a front-page profile of the man who might be the next House speaker. John Boehner’s “rise is partly the result of a tireless fundraising operation that has poured money into fellow Republicans' campaigns, and partly a reward for his willingness to fashion himself into the uncompromising leader of the opposition to President Obama... Yet he insists he will be a very different kind of politician if the GOP wins Congress and he is elected speaker. He'll help bring the animosity between the two sides under control, he says, by allowing Democrats greater freedom to have their say on the floor of the House and letting them bring their proposals to a vote.” http://wapo.st/cdiQrq

Who needs 2010? "Leading GOP candidates for president are getting an early start on 2012 in the last days of the 2010 campaign season," The Hill writes. "Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R), for instance, plans campaign stops this week on behalf of Republican candidates in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, which just happen to host the first three contests for nominating a Republican presidential candidate. But the perceived GOP front-runner for 2012 is hardly alone. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, will all make stops this week in Iowa, which hosts the first-in-the-nation caucuses in January 2012." http://bit.ly/dzILez

Today, Barbour, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal are in Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois.

Source watch: Former Rep. Susan Molinari has left Bracewell Giuliani to start her own lobbying firm. http://bit.ly/aNyVd2

CONGRESS: Rangel likely to represent himself

When does this ever turn out well? "Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) will likely represent himself at his mid-November ethics trial, setting up a potential spectacle less than two weeks after what’s expected to be a disappointing -- if not devastating -- election for Democrats," The Hill says. http://bit.ly/bSVSWf

OBAMA AGENDA: Gaspard out?

"The skids are greased for the top New Yorker in the White House to be out of a job because of the expected GOP tsunami, the Daily News has learned. Political director Patrick Gaspard has told friends he expects to be the fall guy if Republicans romp in the Nov. 2 election, sources confirmed." http://bit.ly/avIgg1

"Vice President Biden headlined a pair of New York cash bashes on Tuesday, gobbling up donors' dollars for Long Island Rep. Tim Bishop and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand," The New York Daily News reports. http://bit.ly/9omCab