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Hotline Sort: Hawkeye State of Mind

6) Washington Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna's July fundraising numbers are out: He raised over $340,000 during the month and ended with $659,000 cash on hand. 5) Marine Corps veteran Courtney Lynch, announced Wednesday that she will run for the Senate in Virginia, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, joining clear front-runner Tim Kaine, the former governor and past Democratic National Committee Chairman, and brain injury advocate Julien Modica. 4) It's debate day in Iowa, where the Republican candidates will square off at 9 p.m. ET on Fox News. The debate kicks off an important weekend in the Hawkeye State, that includes the Ames Straw Poll on Saturday. Despite all of the fanfare and hype surrounding the poll, National Journal's Beth Reinhard reminds us that while the straw poll inevitably shapes the road to the White House -- by determining who gets to stay the course -- history shows that it's not the most reliable harbinger of future success: only two of the past five straw poll winners have gone on to become the party nominee. 3) Is Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., faltering in the race for the GOP presidential nomination? A new CNN/ORC International poll out early Thursday shows (with unlikely candidates Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani filtered out) Bachmann (9 percent) in fourth place, trailing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (23 percent), Texas Gov. Rick Perry (18 percent) and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tex. (14 percent). But a win in the Iowa straw poll this weekend could help Bachmann reclaim any lost momentum. 2) A new poll conducted for the GOP-aligned American Action Network portends trouble for President Obama in the Hawkeye State. A majority of likely voters in the state (52 percent) disapproves of the job Obama is doing as president, and that number is much worse among independents (61 percent). Obama carried 56 percent of the independent vote in 2008, according to exit polls. One area where Obama is overperforming, relative to his overall approval rating, is among seniors. The Tarrance Group included an oversample of seniors, finding them split on the president (48 percent approve, 47 percent disapprove). That closely resembles the 49-to-48-percent margin by which Obama won among voters over 65 in 2008. Results of the poll, conducted early this month and obtained by Hotline On Call, are slated to be released later Thursday. 1) Obama's path to re-election in 2012 is narrower than his initial election campaign, according to an analysis of state-level Gallup poll data from the first half of this year, Ron Brownstein writes for NationalJournal.com. Brownstein points out that Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida "appear to be evolving into critical battlegrounds on the campaign map." New party-identification data from Gallup released Thursday morning underscores the extent to which those states will be contested: Republicans have a one-point party ID advantage in Colorado. Virginia is split evenly between the parties, while Democrats enjoy slight advantages in North Carolina and Florida. Party ID isn't the best measure of potential 2012 competitiveness, however: The other state in which the two parties are tied is Mississippi, which Obama lost by 13 points in 2008.

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