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The Paul campaign was embroiled in another embarrassment months ago after GQ magazine reported details of the candidate’s membership in a Baylor University secret society while a student in the early 1980s. The magazine cited an anonymous woman’s allegations that Mr. Paul and a friend tied her up, tried to force her to use marijuana and made her bow to a “god” called “Aqua Buddha.”
Mr. Paul denied the accusation, and the woman later clarified that she wasn’t kidnapped and went along with the prank. But his Democratic opponent, Jack Conway, later highlighted the “Aqua Buddha” scenario in a TV ad.
Also this week, a West Virginia newspaper reported that an ongoing federal investigation into the administration of Gov. Joe Manchin III, the Democratic Senate nominee, took a new turn. The Charleston Gazette said that federal subpoenas have been issued for the state aviation division director and for records maintained by the aviation division.
The Justice Department investigators first issued subpoenas in 2009 seeking records from the state Division of Highways’ Right-of-Way Division. That sparked speculation that the investigation might have something to do with Mr. Manchin’s chief of staff at the time, Larry Puccio, the paper said.
Although the exact details are unclear, the investigation is an unwelcome distraction for the governor, who holds a slight poll lead over Republican nominee John Raese.
In California, Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina resumed campaigning Thursday after spending two days in a hospital because of an infection stemming from reconstructive surgery she underwent after a bout with breast cancer. Polls show Democrat Sen. Barbara Boxer with a slight edge in the race.
While the hospitalization of a candidate a week before an election is rare, two Democratic Senate candidates in the past decade have died in the final weeks of their campaigns: Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan in 2000 and Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone two years later.
“Trust me, it does not get weirder than that,” Ms. Duffy said.
While other Senate elections have had comparable numbers of seats still in play this late in the campaign season, voter angst and incivility between candidates are at unusually high levels, analysts say.
“You had a reasonable expectation in previous years that if you throw the bums out that you may very well get some replacements that were worth it - a fresh start, new ideas, perhaps even a notion of consensus to make policy,” Mr. Zogby said. “Now you have a huge number of seats in play, but [there is] really very little confidence on the part of the public that we’ll be moving in the right direction afterward.”
Voter frustrations and impatience have resulted in an unusually large number of Senate incumbents in danger of losing. They include Democrats Mr. Feingold, Mrs. Boxer, Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Sens. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Patty Murray of Washington and Michael Bennet of Colorado, and Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
“I think in many ways it’s a normal protest election,” said pollster Scott Rasmussen. “Most Senate elections are team sports. It’s not a choice between two independent contractors who happen to be running for office, so a lot of supporters may vote for someone from their party even if they’re not thrilled with the candidate.”
c Stephen Dinan contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.
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About the Author
Sean Lengell covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at email@example.com.
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