Ballot Box

2 polls show Mack gaining on Nelson

Two new polls released Thursday showed Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) gaining ground in match-ups with Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D).

An NBC-Marist poll showed Nelson 4 points ahead of Mack, beating out the front-running Republican 46-42.

And a Quinnipiac University poll put the race in a dead heat, with Mack leading Nelson 42-41 — within the margin of error.

That poll also showed Mack maintaining a dominant lead in the primary, where he takes 40 percent to 7 for former Sen. George LeMieux (R-Fla.) and 8 for Tea Party favorite Mike McCalister.

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Poll: Kaine leads Allen by 6

Former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D) leads former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) by 6 percentage points, according to a new poll from NBC News.

The poll has Kaine leading Allen by 49 percent to 43, his largest lead in any survey for months, although NBC's last poll of the race, in early March, had him up 9 points while others showed it much closer. The two are locked in a tight battle for retiring Sen. Jim Webb's (D-Va.) open seat.

The same poll had President Obama leading Mitt Romney by 48 percent to 44. Virginia is a crucial swing state for both the presidential race and control of the Senate, and since Kaine and Allen are so well-known there it is unlikely to see much movement in the polls without a major event between now and Election Day.

Kaine will have some big help Thursday: Vice President Joe Biden will head to northern Virginia to headline a fundraiser for him.

The poll was conducted from May 17-20 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

This post was updated at 11:50 a.m.

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Ted Cruz loans his campaign $400K

Former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz (R) has loaned his campaign $400,000 for the stretch run of his Senate primary campaign, according to the Dallas Morning News, a sign that he's worried he needs to spend to ensure he makes the runoff election against Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R).

The multimillionaire Dewhurst and a super-PAC backing him have spent more than $10 million on the race, approximately five times more than Cruz and his allies have raised and spent. Cruz, a Tea Party favorite, hopes that if he can force a runoff and get a clear one-on-one shot against Dewhurst he can catch up with him in the second round of voting.

There have been no recent credible public polls, but Dewhurst's internal polls show he's close to the 50 percent mark needed to avoid a runoff, while both Cruz and Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert contend Dewhurst is far below that mark.

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OVERNIGHT CAMPAIGN: 6 percent

TOP STORY: 6 percent

Mitt Romney predicted unemployment would be 6 percent or lower by the end of his first term on Wednesday.

"I can tell you that over a period of four years, by virtue of the policies that we'd put in place, we'd get the unemployment rate down to 6 percent, and perhaps a little lower," Romney told Time magazine's Mark Halperin.

The number gives a concrete figure Romney can sell on the campaign trail — but if he’s elected and doesn't achieve 6 percent unemployment he's unlikely to hear the end of it. Just ask President Obama, who famously predicted the Stimulus Act would keep unemployment rate below 8 percent.

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Sherman, campaign give conflicting reasons for editing his mother out of mailer

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) told a local television show that editing his mother out of a campaign photo sent to non-Jewish voters after sending the original in a mailer to Jewish voters was a "clever idea" to draw media attention to the matter, a response that directly conflicts with what his campaign told The Hill when the photo was first revealed.

"We were almost desperate to try to get the press to publish pictures of my family. We sent them every kind of picture, they didn't publish any. Then for a while we scraped around to buy an ad in the Jewish Journal, so we could run — because if people see my family they'll vote for me …

"We came to a clever idea: We'll publish the same picture in two different versions and so [the press will] think they caught something and then they'll ... publish the picture in both versions, and by God, we now have, without us paying for it, copies of the picture of myself and my family in the Jewish Journal and we hope in other publications as well."

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