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Election 2010 Morning Memo: Tightening Senate Races and 6 Other Campaign Storylines

Kentucky Senate: Rand Paul (R) vs. Jack Conway (D)

From now through Election Day, CBS News chief political consultant Marc Ambinder will provide his keys to understanding the state of the campaign:

Rand Paul, at left, and Jack Conway
1. Virtually all the competitive Senate races appear to be tightening, with Dems touting non-partisan polls out of Colorado and Pennsylvania. Good news, bad news for them, though: when the House flips, the Senate usually does, and Republican challengers like Dino Rossi in Washington are also getting traction.

More competitive seats could mean that Democrats do better than expected, but more likely it means that Republicans have a better shot to pick up more Senate seats. In Kentucky, Jack Conway continues to question Rand Paul's college flirtation with religious hijinks, and Dems say it appears to be working, leading to a softening of Paul's support among hard-line evangelicals.

In Missouri, several newspapers have bitten on a story that the DSCC has long been shopping about Roy Blunt and an illegal immigrant. It's an old story, but there's new coverage of it. I don't think it'll be enough to help Robin Carnahan.

2. Despite the influx of money from the Chamber of Commerce and outside Republican groups, Democrats have enough money to keep enough House seats in play through November 2. The DNC has raised more than $11 million through the start of the year, and the DCCC has about $30 million to play with.

3. The Dems are going to HEAVILY push a story about rich conservatives plotting strategies at a retreat in California this weekend. Dems don't have clean hands -- their rich donors have been meeting for years under a variety of names.

4. Early voting returns from the two major population centers in Nevada are positive for Sharron Angle. It's very early, but she's doing better than expected in Clark County and running away with them in Reno. Democrats are excited about early numbers they're seeing from Iowa and Ohio. In Ohio, the gubernatorial race is especially important for the party to win, as are seats on the reapportionment board, which helps draw the district lines.

5. Interesting story in The Hill notes something obvious: President Obama's leaving for a major overseas trip almost immediately after the election, leaving the country to... triumphant Republicans, probably, and their efforts to define the way the election is looked at. Also: since when does the president of the United States submit to be a warm-act for a comedian? Next Wednesday. Comparisons to Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck aren't apt.

6. This race is over, but John McCain's ad against his opponent Rodney Glassman is one of the funniest I've seen: it's worth viewing. Glassman is an actual opera singer, for those who wonder.

7. Coming December 2: "The Kennedy Detail," by one of the agents who guarded Kennedy on 11/22/1963.

The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder is CBS News' chief political consultant. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here. You can also follow him on Twitter.