The Democratic nominee is unpopular, the Republican nominee is unpopular, and polls show voters taking a look at the Libertarian. Flash back or flash forward: Two marquee 2014 campaigns are looking a lot like the 2013 Virginia governor’s race right now, and that campaign provided some useful guidance for how to watch them. — Quinnipiac’s latest Florida poll confirmed its previous ones: More people view Gov. Rick Scott (R) and ex-Gov. Charlie Crist (D) unfavorably than favorably. The numbers have been even worse for Sen. Kay Hagan (D) and state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) in North Carolina, where national Democrats and state Republicans also plumb the depths of popularity. And recent surveys in both states show Libertarian candidates pulling 9% or higher. — Polls usually overstate third-party support, and they’re likely to do so again in North Carolina and Florida this year. That’s the same story we saw in Virginia in 2013, when the two unloved major party contenders pushed Robert Sarvis (L) higher than usual in the polls — and his actual vote share underperformed 19 of the 20 final public polls of his race. — But in races where voters aren’t in love with either nominee, Libertarians can still catch on more than usual at the ballot box. (Sarvis still pulled in 6.5% of Virginians’ votes in 2013.) There’s plenty of campaign left, and Tillis especially may have an opportunity to change voters’ minds about him once the Legislature’s damaging special session is over. But on the other hand, most of the money flowing into these races is negative. It would be very unlikely for Libertarians to do as well in November as they’re doing at the polls now. But the same surveys also show why they could keep the eventual winners from getting a majority vote all the same.— Scott Bland
What We're Following See More »
"Senate GOP leaders picked up support Wednesday for their plan to pass a scaled-back bill to repeal a handful of elements in the current health law, and then open negotiations with House Republicans to try to bring together their two very different bills."
"Paul Manafort, who served as a top aide to President Trump’s 2016 campaign, on Tuesday provided congressional investigators notes he took during a Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer that has emerged as a focus in the investigation of Russian interference in the election. Manafort’s submission, which came as he was interviewed in a closed session by staff members for the Senate Intelligence Committee, could offer a key contemporaneous account of the June 2016 session."
By the narrowest of margins, the Senate voted 51-50 this afternoon to begin debate on the House's legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins defected from the GOP, but Vice President Pence broke a tie. Sen. John McCain returned from brain surgery to cast his vote.