In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) is hanging onto a small but significant lead against former state Rep. Mike Braun (R), according to a new poll, good news for Democrats in a top GOP Senate target.

Donnelly leads Braun by 44 percent to 41 percent with 8 percent of voters backing Libertarian Lucy Brenton, according to a new poll of likely voters conducted by Marist University for NBC news.

In a head-to-head matchup, Donnelly’s lead grows to 49 percent to 43 percent over Braun.

The poll is the first reliable public one in months, partly because Indiana has banned automated polling. It shows Donnelly in better shape than many GOP strategists had hoped he’d be in at this point in the election. The numbers also closely track where Democrats believe the race currently stands, with Donnelly holding a small but real lead in private numbers.

Donnelly is one of four Democrats running for reelection in states Trump won that Democrats have been deeply concerned about this election cycle, and Republicans have been confident they can beat, along with Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Bill Nelson (D-FL). Democrats concede that Heitkamp has an uphill battle for reelection, but have insisted that Donnelly is ahead, McCaskill is neck-and-neck with her GOP opponent and Nelson actually has a slight lead over Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R). Polls in recent days show have found both McCaskill and Nelson tied with their opponents.

If three of these four Democrats win, their party has a serious shot at winning Senate control, a scenario that was almost unthinkable a year ago since there are ten Democrats running for reelection in states Trump one and just one Republican running in a state he lost. If they lose only one incumbent and win Nevada and Arizona, where they’re viewed as slight favorites, that gets them to within one seat. Both sides also see a tied race in Tennessee, which could put them over the top.

Marist’s polling has been a bit more favorable to Democrats than some other public pollsters, and Donnelly’s lead is well within the poll’s five-point margin of error. But this is the latest public post-Labor Day poll that has some real good news for Democrats as they head into the campaign’s home stretch.

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Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Wednesday refused to say whether a president could be subpoenaed — a critical issue in the ongoing special counsel probe of Russian election interference — calling the question “hypothetical.” But he said he had an “open mind” on the question of whether presidents can be sued.

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Boston City Council member Ayana Pressley (D) has knocked off 10-term Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA), becoming the latest progressive insurgent to topple an establishment favorite in a primary this election cycle.

Pressley easily bested Capuano, who conceded not long after polls closed Tuesday evening.

Pressley is the first woman of color ever to serve on Boston’s City Council, and is set to break another barrier, becoming the first woman of color to serve in its congressional delegation.

Her victory marks the latest win for the progressive wing of the Democratic Party this election cycle, and the latest win for a minority and female candidate over an incumbent or establishment favorite, following Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s shocking win over Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) earlier this summer and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum’s (D) recent gubernatorial primary upset of former Rep. Gwen Graham (D-FL).

Her background is more similar to Gillum’s than to Ocasio-Cortez’s: She has a long career in Boston politics. And while national progressives including Ocasio-Cortez rallied to her side, she had some strong local institutional support as well, including an endorsement from the Boston Globe.

Pressley conceded throughout the race that there was little policy daylight between her and Capuano, though she did go further than him by calling for the abolishment of the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency. But she made her background a major part of the race, highlighting the importance of boosting diversity in the Democratic Party, talking about her own experience with sexual assault, and regularly calling for more “bold, activist leadership.”

Her campaign refrain: “The people closest to the pain should be closest to the power.”

Pressley will now represent the seat that in earlier forms was held by John F. Kennedy and Tip O’Neill.

“I’m sorry it didn’t work out, but this is life and this is okay. America is going to be okay,” Capuano said in his concession speech. “Ayanna Pressley is going to be a good congresswoman and Massachusetts will be well served.”

Republicans didn’t run a candidate in the heavily Democratic Boston-based district, and Pressley is all but guaranteed to join the next Congress.

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