July 15, 2014
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After his narrow victory in last month's very divisive Republican primary runoff, Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran is on track to win his re-election this November. However, the actual shape of the electorate now looks very odd, to say the least, as Mississippi is a state where party politics are often drawn sharply along racial lines.

In the new survey from Democratic-aligned firm Public Policy Polling, Cochran leads for the general election with 40 percent of the vote, followed by former Democratic Rep. Travis Childers with 24 percent, and Reform Party candidate Shawn O'Hara with 5 percent — leaving an immense 31 percent of voters saying they are undecided. The poll was conducted from July 10-13, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent.

Quite notably, the poll even shows Cochran with a one-point edge among African-American voters, who typically vote Democratic: Cochran has 37 percent support, and Childers has 36 percent. Among white voters, Cochran has 42 percent, and Childers has 17 percent. Among all voters, Cochran's approval rating is 47 percent, with disapproval at 37 percent; among white voters he is underwater at 40 percent to 46 percent, while black voters now approve of the Republican incumbent by a whopping margin of 59 percent to 20 percent.

Cochran won his GOP runoff with 51 percent of the vote due to an unorthodox strategy of reaching out to the state's African-American community and encouraging them to cross over into the Republican primary in order to defeat his Tea Party-backed challenger Chris McDaniel. Since then, McDaniel has been attempting to contest the outcome, alleging that voter fraud was involved. Among all voters, though, this poll shows 58 percent of respondents saying that Cochran was the rightful winner, compared to 29 percent who are still holding out for McDaniel. Eric Kleefeld

11:25 a.m. ET

Russia's Ministry of Defense said Wednesday in a Facebook post that one of its airstrikes killed Islamic State spokesman Mohammad al-Adnani in the Syrian province of Aleppo on Tuesday. The strike also reportedly killed "up to" 40 ISIS militants, the ministry's statement on Facebook said.

ISIS announced al-Adnani's death Tuesday via its Amaq news outlet. The post said that al-Adnani, who was considered the terrorist group's second-in-command, had been killed in Aleppo while he was inspecting military operations. Aleppo has been the target of airstrikes led by Turkey, the U.S., and Russia, and it has been under attack by American-backed Syrian and Kurdish rebels.

ISIS has yet to comment on the exact cause of al-Adnani's death, though the group has promised it would "seek revenge." Becca Stanek

10:53 a.m. ET

Donald Trump is going to Mexico and nobody wants him there — except perhaps President Enrique Peña Nieto, who invited the Republican candidate for a private meeting. (Of course, Peña Nieto himself has likened Trump to Hitler.)

With the U.S. embassy in Mexico City having cautioned Trump not to come to Mexico and the threat of demonstrations looming, things were already rumbling on Wednesday before Trump even landed in the Mexican capital. But never exactly one to just put out the fire, Trump started the day off by tweeting at former Mexican President Vicente Fox:

To which Fox shot back:

Meanwhile, the wife of former President Felipe Calderón tweeted that Trump is "not welcome" in the country. "Mexicans have dignity and repudiate his hate speech," she said. Jeva Lange

10:35 a.m. ET

An Irish Wolfhound made history recently when she delivered a litter of puppies that contained the first-ever confirmed set of identical twins. The puppies, both attached by individual umbilical cords to the same placenta, were delivered via a Caesarean section in South Africa's Rant en Dal Animal Hospital in Mogale City by veterinarian Kurt de Cramer.

After the puppies' delivery, de Cramer had reproductive specialists confirm that the dogs were, indeed, twins. "When I realized that the puppies were of the same gender and that they had very similar markings, I also immediately suspected that they might be identical twins having originated from the splitting of an embryo," de Cramer told BBC.

While this is the first time a pair of canine identical twins has been confirmed, identical twin puppies isn't necessarily a rare occurrence, researchers say: "There have been rumors about twins in dogs before," Carolynne Joone, one of the reproductive specialists working on the case, told BBC. "We just happened to be lucky enough to be able to confirm it genetically."

What does appear to be rare, however, is that both puppies survived and are healthy; cases of identical twins have been reported in horses, for example, but none of those fetuses have survived. Becca Stanek

9:15 a.m. ET

Donald Trump is going to Mexico, and Mexicans are ... not pleased.

Trump plans to meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Wednesday for a closed-door meeting ahead of his scheduled immigration speech in Arizona. But Trump's favorability rating in Mexico is even lower than it is in the U.S.: Only 2 percent of Mexicans like Trump, with 75 percent feeling unfavorable about him and the rest either not caring or not knowing who he is.

Many reporters in the region are surprised by Peña Nieto's extension of an invitation to Trump, especially since the Mexican president struggles with low ratings:

Demonstrations against Trump's visit are already being planned in Mexico City:

Because the meeting between Trump and Peña Nieto is private, it will be hard to know for certain what is actually said, discussed, or agreed upon. As Politico notes: "We'll have to rely on Trump and the Mexican press to give us a readout. Will Peña Nieto reverse himself and say he'll pay for the wall? Probably not, but who knows what Trump will say?" Jeva Lange

9:08 a.m. ET

Netflix confirmed Wednesday that there will be a second season of Stranger Things via this short, spooky trailer:

The second season, set to premiere next year, picks up in the fall of 1984, about a year after the first season ends. Details are scarce, but back in July, the creators of the Netflix original series, Matt and Ross Duffer, spoke to Variety about what they envisioned for a second season. "We leave these dangling threads at the end," Ross Duffer said. "If people respond to this show and we get to continue this story — we had those initial discussions of where we might go with it. If there was going to be a season two, we would reveal more of [the parallel dimension the "Upside Down"], but we'd still want to keep it from the point of view of our original characters."

There will be nine episodes to the show's sophomore offering, up from the eight of its inaugural season. It will debut sometime in 2017. Becca Stanek

8:29 a.m. ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Never in Hillary Clinton's decades in the public eye has her favorability rating been as low as it is now. That's according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll out Wednesday. While 41 percent of Americans view Clinton favorably, a striking 56 percent view her negatively, which, The Washington Post reported, marks "the worst image Clinton has had in her quarter-century in national public life."

Prior to these numbers, Clinton's lowest favorability rating was in July, at 42 percent. Her highest unfavorable rating was in June, at 55 percent.

At first glance, Clinton's favorability rating might at least look better than Donald Trump's. But, The Washington Post noted, when only registered voters are taken into consideration, "Clinton's image is about as bad as Trump's." While Clinton sees a split of 38 percent favorable and 59 percent unfavorable, Trump's split is 37 percent favorable and 60 percent unfavorable.

The poll, conducted among 1,020 adults from Aug. 24 to Aug. 28, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Becca Stanek

8:26 a.m. ET
Kirk Irwin/Getty Images for SiriusXM

Steve Bannon, Donald Trump's new campaign CEO, is reportedly the subject of a voter registration investigation, NBC News reported Wednesday. Election officials in Miami-Dade County in Florida confirmed that a local state attorney's office requested Bannon's voter records last week, when reports surfaced that Bannon had registered to vote using an address to a now vacant Florida home that he never lived in. Bannon reportedly rented the home for his ex-wife, Diane Clohesy.

Miami-Dade state attorney's spokesman, Ed Griffith, declined to either confirm or deny the investigation, though he did note that the office is able to investigate any potential violation that is brought to light. But the executive assistant to the county's election supervisor did not think "there was anything obvious in Bannon's voter record that suggested fraud," NBC News reported, especially because Bannon never voted in the county after registering there. "There is nothing here that I see that he did wrong," Rosy Pastrana told NBC News.

Prior to registering in Miami-Dade County in April 2014, Bannon was registered to vote in California, which is where his primary residence is reported to be. Within the last few weeks, Bannon reportedly sent in a change of registration form with a new address listed in Florida's Sarasota County. Becca Stanek

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