A new daily blog, updated often, covering news and controversy across a wide range of races and issues. As author of three books about influential campaigns, I also bring historical perspective to this. You can bookmark the daily blog by going here

7:40  MASS APPEAL  New polls puts Elizabeth Warren in front in key Senate race: Scott Brown (R) 38% / Elizabeth Warren (D) 40% / Other, unsure 22% (MassINC Polling Group, 7/19-22)

4:30 WHEN LBJ LINKED GOLDWATER TO THE KKK You have probably heard of the famous “Daisy” ad for Lyndon Johnson in 1964 suggesting that his opponent, Barry Goldwater, might blow the world to bits if elected in a nuclear holocaust. But you may not know about this ad from the same year: linking Goldwater to the Ku Klux Klan. This actually got passing mention on Mad Men. And you think attack ads are a fairly recent phenomenon? But like the “Daisy” ad, this one was either not aired at all or pulled quickly.

3:50 CALLING BULLSHIT ON ‘BUILD’ The stodgy Associated Press the latest to fact check and find the Romney camp and GOP main issue of the campaign so far—that Obama claimed those nice business folks and other Americans—did not “build that” is a total crock, though they stop short of using the proper word, “lie.” But Obama scared enough about GOP meme that he just released this ad:

2:30 SPOILER ALERT Could Gary Johnson be a spoiler in prez race? Joe Trippi thinks so. “The 2012 election isn’t really a two person race. There’s a third party candidate out there—and he could derail either one of the two major party candidates’ shot at the White House. His name is Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico and the Libertarian Party candidate. If that seems doubtful, remember that Ralph Nader didn’t crack 3 percent of the popular vote in 2000—yet he completely changed the outcome of that race. Johnson, meanwhile, is currently polling at 5.3 percent in the latest Zogby national poll.” Note: third-party candidates always poll better before November, then much of support drifts away.

2:20 AFTERNOON UPDATES GOP says Obama should actually thank them for taking the “build that” quote out of context… TPM’s Josh Marshall: “Entirety of PA voter ID law is abt cutting down black voting in Philly. Nothing more, nothing less. Most of ‘vote fraud’ bamboozle tied to belief there MUST be fraud involved in black and Hispanic voting”… Blue America just endorsed Nate Shinagawa for Congress in NY-23, the district Democrats lost after Eric Massa’s breakdown and resignation. “The GOP extremist who took over, Tom Reed, is a backbencher who has an unblemished record as a proponent of greed & selfishness.”

12:50 OBAMA FACES UNION PICKETS AT FUNDRAISER And there’s a claim that this is first time. Mike Elk: “Today in Portland, Ore., for the first time in Barack Obama’s presidency, a union plans to picket one of his fundraisers. The 5,000 member-strong Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers (AWPPW) will picket the luncheon fundraiser because of their disgust with Obama’s handling of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free-trade agreement, which they feel will cost them jobs if ratified.”

12:40 pm BIG I.D. FAILS New from our own Ari Berman on that Pennsylvania voter ID scandal: “Tomorrow the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania will hear a challenge to the state’s new voter ID law from the ACLU and other voting rights groups.… Recent developments in Pennsylvania have transformed the debate over voter ID laws locally and nationally.”

11:45 STRIPPERS READY FOR GOP Tampa newspaper reveals that local strip clubs gearing up for arrival of GOP delegates next month for convention—including the hiring of a pole-dancing Sarah Palin lookalike (see video). “Thee Doll House, on North West Shore Boulevard, doesn’t have webcams but its dancers are also planning to cash in during the convention. Thee Doll House recently underwent a $1 million renovation and plans to bring in a Palin impersonator to entertain customers. Neither club would predict how much money they would make during the convention but both expect business to more than quadruple.”

11:20 PUBLIC CONFUSION As usual, polls find voters expressing contradictory of confused feelings on the candidates. This new one from USA Today/Gallup finds that folks by double-digit margins say Obama understands their problems better than Romney. Yet in same poll, by better than 2-1, they say that his experience at Bain gives him edge in dealing with economy (to benefit people like them—and few of these respondents, we assume, are wealthy). Susan Page suggests this proves anti-Bain ads not working, though far from certain.

10:55 OBAMA: OUR STALIN? Very telling that sane feels need to tweet re wacko wingers claiming Obama will try to stay in power if loses—then wackos rip him

9:55 AD SPOT LINKS CANDIDATE TO DEATH This could be the roughest attack of year so far, as Conservative PAC in Texas has mother pointing to candidate in US Senate race, Ted Cruz, as backing steps that allegedly led her son to commit suicide—a “bullet in the heart.”

9:40 am MR. LESSIG GOES TO WASHINGTON Transcript of Lawrence “Root Striker” Lessig’s testimony to Congress today on Citizens United, which has “further shifted the sources of campaign funding toward an ever shrinking few. This, Senators, is corruption. Not “corruption” in the criminal sense.… It is instead ‘corruption’ in a sense that our Framers would certainly and easily have recognized: They architected a government that in this branch at least was to be, as Federalist 52 puts it, “dependent upon the People alone.” You have evolved a government that is not dependent upon the People alone, but that is also dependent upon the Funders.”

BEST OBAMA AD YET? Many (including Joe Scarborough) calling this his most effective ad yet, even “seminal,” as it draws clearest, simplest distinctions with maximum eye contact. Full analysis of it here.

PUNDIT NONSENSE ON TAX RETURNS Veteran campaign reporter Adam Clymer (once famously on the receiving end of an infamous Dick Cheney expletive) suggests in op-ed that it’s “unimaginable” that Romney has not released his tax returns because this could not possibly be more damaging than the harm in not doing so. This is a popular, but nonsensical, pundit view, since they have no idea what’s in the returns. It’s easy to imagine many things in the returns that could cause far worse fallout than the so-so backlash so far.

SHERROD BROWN DRIVES HIS CHEVY TO LEVEE? Fun new campaign spot in Ohio, as Democrat embraces key issue of auto bailout.

QUOTE OF THE DAY From Brit novelist Martin Amis, now living in the USA: “I’ve had the great pleasure of watching the incredible convulsions of the Republican Party. They’ve been pathetic. And I do think it’s a reaction to having a black president—despite everything they say, it’s been killing them.” More here, including his wish the GOP had gone whole hog and nominating ticket of Sarah the Pit Bull and Joe the Plumber… And humorist Andy Borowitz today: “It would be nice to spend billions on schools and roads, but right now that money is desperately needed for political ads.”

STILL NO SHIFT FROM CANDIDATES ON GUNS NYT updates its earlier coverage with new overview, including fresh Romney statement refusing to bend on guns laws, and Obama also promising to do nothing. The far from balanced story ends with lengthy Rep. Peter King quotes that go unchallenged claiming issue is “settled” and Americans just love their guns—even polls show a split with majority for new assault weapon ban. Mayor Michael Bloomberg made strong call for ban on such weapons and armor-piercing bullets on CNN’s Piers Morgan show last night. But Sen. Scott Brown in key Mass. race says: Leave it to the states.”

In a major online-only section, the Times pits six writers (including joan Walsh, Larry Sabato and Norm Ornstein) in a debate on whether the candidates should risk taking a strong stand. Bravery needed. Walsh: “But courage isn’t part of the Romney brand. It is something we once expected from Obama.” Stephen Colbert weighs in here on media coverage—and campaigns brriefly halting attack ads.

There are whispers now after her latest bit of McCartyism that Michele Bachmann could be in trouble in getting another term in Congress. Probably not yet true, but here’s Frank Bruni on how the Divine Miss M is maybe not so divine, as “she presents herself as a godly woman, humbly devoted to her Christian faith. I’d like to meet that god, and I’d like to understand that Christianity.”

MORNING SHORTS Daily Kos notes polls showing Democratic Senators Nelson in FL, Casey in PA, Feinstein in CA and Klobuchar in MN. still comfortably ahead… How George McGovern’s bungled pick of Tom Eagleton in 1972 has haunted VP selection process since… Conspiracy loving GOPer (and he called for Obama’s impeachment) may be headed to Congress from Texas… Economists say GOP job plans actually won’t create—jobs…

from late Monday

STAT OF THE DAY That’s what Chris Cillizza of the Wash Post calls this: “American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS have spent $94 million on TV ads so far in the general election.”

CANDIDATE SITE OF THE DAY Young New Yorker running in state race named MIndy Meyer has pinkish site and, uh, special music. Folks have had fun with this all day but she says she is not joking.

HILLARY TAKES LEAD FOR 2016! This tests the notion that it’s-never-too-early but here’s report on the first polling on the next race for the White House—naturally, in Iowa—with Hillary Clinton leading (even older by then) Joe Biden 60-18, with Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Cuomo drawing 3 percent. GOP leaders: Huckabee and Santorum.

DOJ PROBES BAD ID We earlier cited claims about 1 million voters imperiled in Pennsylvania and now there’s a new report that the DOJ is looking into state’s effort targets minorities.

MORE ON ‘BUILD THAT’ DISTORTION I’ve covered the blowback on Romney camp manipulation of now infamous Obama (non-)quote, and as noted below, even Glenn Kessler at Wash Post today hit the GOP spin as “ridiculous.” Here’s a new overview from Campaign for America’s Future.

MEDIA ‘LAPDOGS’ NOT ‘WATCHDOGS’ New blast just now from the First Amendment Center on recently exposed widespread practice of reporters allowing campaign operatives, and others, to “edit their quotes.” Excerpt: “The reason for the system is not even a laudable if misguided desire for accuracy. Rather, it’s a self-serving, hat-in-hand posture of trading independence for access. It’s a complete reversal—no, it’s an abandonment—of the free press’ obligation to report to the public. It’s liberty sold outright in return for an interview that presumably otherwise would be withheld.”

Greg Mitchell is author of more than a dozen books, including three on highly significant campaigns of the past century (Upton Sinclair 1934, Nixon-Douglas 1950, Obama 2008).