4. North Dakota will be a Senate battleground, but a new poll shows Republicans have the early edge in picking up the seat held by retiring Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D. The first independent poll of the Senate campaign shows Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., with a 51 to 44 percent lead over former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp. Republicans have long been favored in the Republican-friendly state, but Democrats have spent money in North Dakota to hold onto the seat. Democratic Senate operatives take issue with the poll's methodology, noting that the poll only tests likely primary voters, and they don't believe it matches up with the anticipated November general electorate. 3. A new study released by the Brookings Institution argues that Romney's Mormon religion is unlikely to hurt him at the polls in November," the New York Times reports. From the Times: "The researchers based the conclusion on an experiment in which people were asked whether they planned to vote for Mr. Romney or Mr. Obama. Some of the respondents were first given information about Mr. Romney's religion - and in some cases, quite detailed information - while others were given none. Those who received the information first were no less likely to support Mr. Romney." 2. A blockbuster from the New York Times' Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg, who report that a group of high-profile GOP strategists have been planning an advertising blitz designed to tie President Obama to his controversial former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. The plan was designed by Republican ad man Fred Davis (of Christine O'Donnell "I am not a witch" fame) and wealthy businessman Joe Ricketts, who has increasingly been involved in funding conservative causes. "The world is about to see Jeremiah Wright and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way," the proposal reads. It made the case for connecting Obama to Wright's "black liberation theology." A cringe-worthy part of the $10 million plan: The group suggested hiring as a spokesman an "extremely literate conservative African-American" who can argue that Obama misled the nation by presenting himself as what the proposal calls a "metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln." (Ricketts, by the way, is the same guy who helped fund last-minute ads for Nebraska state Sen. Deb Fischer, ads that some credit with pushing her over the top in her long-shot bid to win the Senate nomination earlier this week.) 1. It doesn't seem like Republicans have to be concerned about donor enthusiasm, with money pouring into Romney's campaign coffers after he wrapped up the GOP nomination. The Romney campaign, along with the Republican National Committee, came close to outraising the April haul of President Obama's campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Romney and the RNC raised $40.1 million for the month, just short of the Obama/DNC $43.6 million monthly total. The Romney campaign ended April with $61.4 million in the bank. About $20 million of that is likely to come from the RNC, which had stockpiled the cash it could hand over to the party's eventual nominee, as allowed by campaign finance law.
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