The 'Inside Politics' Forecast: Up To 30% of Midterm Votes Could Be Cast Early

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- CNN's John King and other top political reporters empty out their notebooks each Sunday on "Inside Politics" to reveal five things that will be in the headlines in the days, weeks and months ahead.

Fallout from Attorney General Eric Holder's resignation, an intriguing new GOP 2016 trial balloon and two key 2014 crunch-time calculations made for a lively trip around the "Inside Politics" table Sunday.

1. Election day is 37 days away, unless it was yesterday

If you live in a 2014 battleground state and are getting inundated with campaign calls and door knocks, there may be a solution: Vote early.

Early balloting began this past week in Iowa and Minnesota, two states with Senate races being closely watched this year, and it's coming soon in other states with key contests. When it is all said and done, some strategists keeping track of things this year suggest as much as 30% of the vote could come from early and absentee balloting.

Democrats in recent cycles have bragged they have a more sophisticated -- and successful -- system to identify voters who might not show up on Election Day and to push them to vote early. And some Democrats have suggested their technological and organizational prowess will again prove decisive in some key places this year.

But Republicans insist 2014 will be different, and with so many key Senate races so close, the performance in the early voting arena could be a big battleground within the battlegrounds.

And remember -- campaigns see the lists of those who vote early, and in most cases you will be crossed off the phone bank list!

2. Crunch time means tough $$ decisions

Some candidates and campaigns are about to realize they have fewer friends than they thought.

With so many close races, and the battle for control of the Senate so tight, the political parties and their super PAC supporters are beginning to make some tough calls on spending priorities.

Politico's Manu Raju, for example, reports Republicans are starting to hold back spending in Michigan's Senate race because the Democrat is leading and the GOP has urgent needs elsewhere. (Kansas, for example.)

And as Democrats look to hone their final-weeks spending, Raju reports that Kentucky is getting a skeptical look -- even though Democrats would LOVE to knock off the GOP incumbent, Sen. Mitch McConnell.

"These are key decisions that are being made, not just for the race for the Senate, but also as we mentioned before, the runoffs in Georgia and Louisiana," said Raju. "Republicans are already setting aside millions of dollars to spend in Louisiana and Democrats are going to have to make that decision too, soon."

3. The next attorney general -- an LGBT trailblazer?

As President Obama searches for a new attorney general, gay rights organizations are suggesting it is time for a bold, historic stroke.

Julie Pace of The Associated Press says a former U.S. attorney, Jenny Durkan, is being pushed by some liberals. She is a lesbian, and if nominated and confirmed would be the first openly gay Cabinet member.

"The president's LGBT supporters feel like nominating an openly gay Cabinet secretary would really round out his record on gay rights," said Pace.

"There's also politics involved, if you have Republicans in a position where they may have to weigh how tough they go after a gay woman in the lead-up to a presidential year where they're trying to look more inclusive -- that could be all kinds of headaches for the GOP."

4. Holder's post-administration plans

The Washington Post's Nia Malika Henderson told us back in August that Holder was plotting his exit strategy and had shared his early thinking with Obama.

Now, Henderson has some insights into Holder's next chapter.

"Once he's gone, I hear he's interested in writing a book, perhaps teaching, but also maybe some sort of foundation work to really give back to his roots and his legacy, which is around civil rights," said Henderson.

5. Is Fiorina the GOP's answer to Clinton?

Carly Fiorina's 2010 California Senate campaign didn't turn out so well. But the former Hewlett-Packard CEO is apparently dipping her toes into the 2016 presidential waters anyway.

Maeve Reston of the Los Angeles Times tells us there is plenty of skepticism, but also notes that Fiorina recently made some political rounds in New Hampshire and made it clear she was thinking about it.

"It's just going to be really fascinating to watch just how much the Republicans want a strong female face in that mix," said Reston.

The-CNN-Wire
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