4. Democrats are now turning downright bullish about their prospects in North Dakota, at least according to a poll commissioned by the DSCC that shows former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp with a 47 to 42 percent lead over Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D. Roll Call reports on the Mellman Group poll, which shows Heitkamp sporting strong favorables (54 percent favorable/25 percent unfavorable), while Berg's favorables aren't nearly as good (42 percent favorable/39 percent unfavorable). The polling memo suggests Berg's time in the House isn't helping his image. Keep in mind Berg is one year out from a competitive election, while Heitkamp's favorables will likely dip once the race gets underway and mud is thrown. Populist Democrats have, in the recent past, thrived in North Dakota (in 2008, the state's Congressional delegation was all-Democrat). But Heitkamp will have to take stands on hot-button federal issues - and Democrats are on much shakier ground on that front. 3. Brand new Quinnipiac poll out with several interesting nuggets from the presidential election. President Obama and Mitt Romney are running neck-and-neck, with Obama holding a 45 to 44 percent lead. Among independents, Obama also is in a statistical dead heat with Romney, leading 43 to 42 percent. Obama holds a larger nine-point lead over former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Despite Congress' unpopularity, Obama barely holds an edge over Congressional Republicans when it comes to who's best-equipped to handle the economy. In the poll, 44 percent preferred Obama, and 41 percent preferred Republicans in Congress. On that same question, Romney holds the edge over Obama, 46 to 41 percent. 2. With the supercommittee failing to reach an agreement, automatic spending cuts will be triggered after 2013, including deep cuts in defense. Roll Call's David Drucker reports that the issue of preserving defense spending could be a rallying cry for Republican presidential candidates - and also could be an issue in states and competitive Congressional districts with high military populations (think Florida Senate race, Virginia Senate race, VA-02, FL-13). 1. Mitt Romney is out with his first paid television advertisement of the presidential campaign in New Hampshire, which he previewed to Fox News' Sean Hannity Monday night. The ad, which blasts Obama's handling of the economy, illustrates how much Romney is running a general election campaign well over a month before the first nominating contests. In the ad, the words "he failed" flash across the screen as footage of Obama speaking about the economy on the 2008 campaign trail is played. In the ad, Romney also introduces himself as a candidate who will bring fiscal responsibility to Washington. "I'll make sure that America is a job-creating machine like it has been in the past," Romney says in the ad. The New York Times reports the buy cost the campaign $134,000 and will be running on WMUR-TV in New Hampshire through Sunday.
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