Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How a foolish federal judge destroyed the Arizona Democratic party

If it wasn't bad enough for Democrats this year it just got worse for Arizona Democrats as Susan Bolton, a federal judge appointed by Bill Clinton, wrote a preposterous decision today invalidating most of the state's new immigration law.

Without getting into specifics of the ruling, it is clear that a vast majority of Arizonans approve of the law. Moreover, when the law is explained in detail, the approval rating only goes up. The clear winner is Republican governor Jan Brewer, who looked as though she might lose her race this year will now probably win in a blowout. To many voters, she looks like the defender of her state against an out of control President and a foolish federal judge.

The other losers are Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick (CD1), Harry Mitchell (CD5), and Gabrielle Giffords (CD8). These three Democrats were already looking at very tough races and now all three will be held accountable by the voters of the state. I would say now that they will all lose in November, largely a result of what happened today.

It also puts Arizona Democrats running for statewide offices as well as their senate and assembly in a terrible position and they will face substantial losses as well.

On another note, Rasmussen Reports has come out with Harry Reid in a slight lead against Sharron Angle. Many Republicans are already writing her obituary and are upset with her as she is not a smooth candidate. To write her off is premature. With an unemployment rate over 14% in Nevada and 50% of voters in the state saying they will never vote for Reid he really can't get more than about 45% of the vote. Certainly Angle is in a tough spot but she can certainly win the race.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pennsylvania and Ohio-Key battleground states in 2010

This year Pennsylvania and Ohio will be key to the GOP strategy and it is here that the Democrats will try to hold on to enough House seats to keep control of the Lower Chamber. Both also have competitive races for governor and senator as well.
Pennsylvania is bluer than Ohio. A Republican president hasn't carried the state since 1988. George W. Bush made huge efforts (especially in 2004) to carry the state but still came up short. Ohio is much more red but Obama was able to carry the state in 2008.

Pennsylvania's governor's race should end up being an easy victory for Tom Corbett, the Republican Attorney General. He's been running ten points ahead of his Democratic opponent all year and seems to be cruising to victory. In Ohio the race is much closer. The incumbent, Democrat Ted Strickland, is facing a tough challenge from John Kasich-a long time conservative politician who served several terms in the House before retiring a few years back. Considering Ohio's high unemployment rate it would seem that Kasich should have more of a lead than he does but he's about tied with Strickland in most polls. I suspect strongly that Kasich will win the seat by about four points as the ecconomy continues to struggle and is not producing the jobs Strickland needs to keep his seat.

Pennsylvania's senate race is a classic conservative/liberal matchup. Republican Pat Toomey is slightly ahead of Joe Sestak in the race to replace the legendary Arlen Spector. Toomey has been ahead in most polls and should win this race as Pennsylvania has been turning much more red in the last twelve months.
Ohio also has an open senate seat and Lt Governor Fisher is facing Republican Rob Portman. Fisher's prospects are certainly tied to Strickland which puts him on the defensive. Portman is well known, has a pile of cash and a solid GOP organization in Ohio. Fisher could still win this race but he'd have to run a nearly perfect campaign to get across the finish line. He's going to have to find a way to get the first-time voters that won the Presidency for Obama to come out again. If he can't get them into the game he can't win.

I have a feeling the Democrats are going to lose several House seats in these two states.
Sure losers:
Dahlkemper PA CD3
Driehaus OH CD1
Kilory OH CD15
Boccieri OH CD16

In deep trouble:
Altmire PA CD4
Open PA CD7
Murphy PA CD8
Carney PA CD10
Kanjorski PA CD11
Holden PA CD17
Wilson OH CD2
Sutton OH CD13

If the GOP ran the table in these House races they would be more than a quarter of the way to control. I suspect strongly they will pick up at least six or seven of these seats in what could be a long night for Democrats in these two large industrial states.

Friday, July 16, 2010

What do Senate polling numbers tell us?

The short answer is: not much. What is undisputed is that if an incumbent who has nearly universal name recognition in a state is still stuck somewhere in the 40's while his opponent is still introducting himself to the electorate is a dangerous thing. Harry Reid must be jumping for joy now that one poll has him ahead of Sharron Angle. Interestingly, Harry has been remarkably consistent for the last year-he's usually gotten between 39-44% support in polling and doesn't move much. Even with millions spent by his campaign and by independent groups, (unions, big pharma, trial lawyers) he still can't and probably won't climb much higher. The basic fact is that half of Nevadans won't vote for him under any circumstance-and that's simply not going to change. The key will be to see if Sharron Angle can stand on her own two feet and look attractive enough to the electorate to win. Reid has succeeded in framing the narrative that Angle is way to conservative for the state and she'll have to counter that. She'll have the money to do it and she'll spend the entire fall in the state campaigning.

Senate polls rise and fall pretty quickly in primaries and in general elections. Sue Lowden was way ahead of Angle for months in the Republican primary and ended up getting clobbered. In 1984 in Kentucky Mitch McConnell overcame a twenty point deficit in the last few weeks to beat incumbent Walter Huddleston. Debbie Stabenow surged in the last few days to beat Spencer Abraham in Michigan in 2000. In McConnell's case, he had to introduce himself and potray Huddleston as the liberal he was. Certainly he was helped by Ronald Reagan's huge victory in the state that year. Stabenow got a huge boost from the collapse of the Bush campaign in Michigan in the last days of the 2000 campaign with a solid GOTV effort by the Al Gore people to put her over the top.

Republicans Ron Johnson and Dino Rossi could certainly be giant killers this year. Both are taking on three-term incumbents (Russ Feingold and Patty Murray)and are in a strong position to win. All four candidates are in the mid-forties which tells you about the Democrats than their challengers. Both Feingold and Murray won easily in 2004 and were way ahead throughout their respective campaigns. If its this close on election day it will be likely that both Johnson and Rossi will win. Voter enthusiasm is on their side, they will win the Independent vote and they'll both have enough money to compete throughout the fall. If Murray and Rossi fall (along with Reid) the GOP will control the Senate in 2011. If the Democrats can hold two or all three seats they will retain slim control of the chamber.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Senate is in play

In November the House will flip to the GOP but how many seats will the Democrats lose in the Senate? Let's take a look:

Seats certain to flip to the GOP:
North Dakota

Seats leaning hard to the GOP:

Seats leaning to the GOP:

True toss ups:

Wild cards:
West Virginia

Seats that may flip to the Dems:

It is quite reasonable to think the GOP will pick up at least seven seats but they could get ten or more if they ran the table. It is not impossible-wave elections (1936, 1946, 1958, 1974, 1980, 1994, 2006) produced that kind of result.

Harry Reid looks to be almost finished in Nevada. His state continues to struggle in the recession with one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. He'll need a lot of help to survive-nobody has ever been reelected to the Senate with his kind of negative ratings. If Reid does lose look for Chuck Schumer to try to jump over Dick Durbin for leadership of the Democratic caucus.

Barbara Boxer is tied in her race to win a fourth term. California, much like Nevada, is suffering terribly from the recession and many are blaming Boxer as she is so close to the Administration. There is a heavy Democratic advantage voter registration and that should help her but she is certainly floundering and may lose in November.

There's been a poll in Maryland that shows a competitive race for Barbara Mikulski. I haven't mentioned the race on the blog before because I haven't considered it possible that any Republican can beat her. She has never had a close election since she came to the Senate in 1986 so if this one is a real race in November than a true nightmare scenario will play out for the Democrats.

Ron Wyden is still about ten points ahead in his race in Oregon but he still hasn't reached 50%. He's still in a better than most Democrats this cycle but he shouldn't get too comfortable.

In West Virginia it looks like there will be a special election for the remaining two years of Bob Byrd's seat. If the governor jumps in then the Democrats should hold the seat. The real battle will be in 2012 (New York has the same scenario) when the they will have to have another election for a full term.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Administration's serious summer mistakes

This week President Obama named Dr. Donald Berwick to run the Medicare and Medicaid program. As a "recess appointment" he didn't need Senate approval although to stay on past this Congressional session Berwick will have to be approved by the next Congress. Berwick is, to say the least, highly controversial. He loves the British one-payer system, especially their rationing board which is ironically called the NICE board. This only plays into the hands of the GOP as they continue to hammer away at the albatross of Obamacare. This appointment shows the ideological purity of Obama; he doesn't seem to care how much people complain about far-left appointments-he's simply going to do it to transform the country even if it's a political loser.

The Democratics are hoping and perhaps praying that the economy picks up so their electoral prospects will pick up. There's only three unemployment reports left before the election and I don't think that will help them much. When the Republicans took over in 1994 the unemployment rate had actually dropped two points to 5.5% but the GOP still picked up over 50 seats in the House and took over the Senate. Why? Many of the Indpendent voters had already made up their minds about the Clinton Administration well before voting began and were determined to vote against his agenda. That's almost certainly what will happen this year. With the economy in much worse shape than it was in 1994 we'll see a big shift in the fall. Combine that with the continuing ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and the average nonpartisan voter gets a daily picture of the President not as a competent administrator but one that seems more and more to be over his head trying to deal with multiple problems at once.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Independents leaning heavily Republican

Gallup and Rasmussen are both reporting large shifts towards the GOP in the Independent vote in almost every electoral group. With the exception of African-Americans, the President and the Democratic-controlled Congress lost significant ground with every major group. Gallup reports that in their history of reporting they have never seen such bad reelect numbers for the current Congress. Their approval rating is under 20%, and, with tough votes coming in the fall it doesn't promise to get much better. In states where Independents rule (like Colorado) this will have a huge impact especially when combined with Republican voter enthusiasm. In Ohio in 2008 Barack Obama spent a lot more time and money than John Kerry did in 2004 and did only marginally better in his vote total but he easily turned the state blue. Why? Several hundred thousand Republican voters simply stayed home-tired of George Bush, large budgets, the war and the financial crisis. Conversely, the Democratic turnout was heavy and very enthusiastic. This year in Ohio the GOP has the enthusiasm and will easily win the Independent vote. This should put John Kasich over the top in the governor's race and Rob Portman into the US Senate as well as at least two (if not more) GOP members into the House of Representatives. This senario should play out in most states which will translate into Republican wins up and down the ballot. You'll see a lot more GOP members in their respective states' assemblies and senates as well as offices like Attorney General. All in all, it should be a wave election much like 2006 and 2008. Three waves in a row; very uncommon but understandable considering all of the upheaval we've experiened in the last few years.