Monday, August 30, 2010

Will Kurt Schrader lose in Oregon CD 5?

One race I've overlooked is the tight race in the Oregon Fifth Congressional District which pits first-term Democrat Kurt Schrader against Republican state legislator Scott Bruun. This district in northwestern Oregon is almost perfectly purple; it voted for George Bush in 2000 and 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008. The Fifth has sent Democrats to Congress for over a decade and Kurt Schrader cruised to victory 54% to 38% in 2008. He's reliably liberal; voting for the stimulus and, after seriously considering voting against ObamaCare, decided to vote for it.

His challenger is GOP state legislator Scott Bruun, a forty-four year old businessman from Portland who is a lifelong Oregonian. Bruun believes he's got a good shot at winning the seat and is trumpeting a recent poll that puts him up 41%-38%. A photogenic candidate with a young family, Bruun is running a straightforward and simple conservative campaign to contrast himself with the liberal Schrader and I think he's got about an 80% chance of flipping the seat.

It will be hard enough for Democrats to hold on to GOP leaning seats (around 50) but will have to defend purple and light blue districts of which Oregon CD 5 is a typical example.

The Snitch

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Murkowski's defeat is a stunner! This is the year of the anti-incumbent.

There are still a few precincts to be counted in Alaska but it looks as though powerful incumbent Republican Lisa Murkowski will lose to political novice Joe Miller. 2010 continues to surprise as establishment candidates run for their political lives. Besides Murkowski, Bill McCollum, the Attorney General of Florida lost the Republican primary to newcomer Rick Scott. In a normal year, Murkowski and McCollum would have had no problems in their respective primaries on their way to the general election but this year is shaping up to be the year of the challenger.

Sarah Palin endorsed Miller, who ran to the right of Murkowski and was given no chance to win the election. Palin defeated Murkowski's father Frank in the 2006 GOP primary for governor and there's still bad blood between the two Republican heavyweights. Frank Murkowski was a US Senator from 1980-2002 and won the Alaska governor's race that year and then appointed his daughter to his Senate seat. That drew charges of nepotism but Lisa was able to win a full term in 2004. However, her dad's term as Alaska's governor was disatrous which led to the insurgent Sarah Palin challenging and beating him for the 2006 GOP governor's nomination. Many didn't give Palin much of a chance in the general election that year but the rest, as we say, is history.

In 1816, 2/3 of the Congress was thrown out by the voters after they had voted themselves a raise. This year three Senators have already lost their primaries and one safe Democratic seat (Massachusetts) turned over in January. 15 senators are either retiring this year or have already lost their primary and another 7 are in the fight for their lives. It looks as if at least 20% of the Senate will turn over this year. In 2012 I count at least 19 more contested races and we don't know how many others will die or retire as well. It is possible that 40% of the Senate could turnover in the next two elections. In the House this year about 90 seats are being contested (about 20%) and there will be other retirements as well in November and in 2012. In short, the House and Senate will look dramatically different in January 2011 and will probably be unrecognizable in January 2013.
The Snitch

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Seats that are in contention in November

Here's a list of seats that are in play this fall:


Almost Certain Defeat (33)

Arkansas CD 1 (Open)
Arkansas CD 2 (Open)
Boswell IA CD 3
Boyd FL CD 2
Alabama CD 2 (Open)
Childers MS CD 1
Driehaus OH CD 1
Edwards TX CD 17
Indiana CD 8 (Open)
Foster IL CD 14
Tennessee CD 6 (Open)
Grayson FL CD 8
Halvorson IL CD 11
Hill IN CD 9
NH CD 2 (Open)
Kagan WI CD 8
Kosmas FL CD 24
Kratovil MD CD 1
Markey CO CD 4
New York CD 29(Open)
Louisiana CD 3 (Open)
WV CD 1 (Open)
Kansas CD 3 (Open)
Nye VA CD 2
Periello VA CD 5
Pomeroy ND At Large
Peters MI CD 9
Schauer MI CD 7
Penn CD 7 (Open)
NH CD 2 (Open)
Shea NH 1
Teague NM CD 2
Titue NV CD 3

In Great Trouble (32)

Adler NJ CD 3
Altire PA CD 4
Arcmuri NY CD 24
Washington CD 3 (Open)
Bean IL CD 8
Carney PA CD 10
Connolly VA CD 11
Dahlkemper PA CD 3
Mass CD 10 (Open)
Etheridge NC CD 2
Hare IL Cd 17
Giffords AZ CD 8
Kilroy OH CD 15
Kanjorski PA CD 11
Kissell NC CD 8
Klein FL CD 22
Maffei NY CD 25
McIntyre NC CD 7
McNerney CA CD 11
Mitchell AZ CD 5
Murphy PA CD 8
Murphy PA CD 18
Wisconsin CD 7 (Open)
Owens NY CD 23
Rodriguez TX CD 23
Sandlin SD At Large
Schuler NC CD 11
Skelton MO CD 4
Spratt SC CD 5
Michigan CD 1 (Open)
Sutton OH CD 13
Tenn CD 8 (Open)

Watch Over Your Shoulder (33)

Barrow GA CD 12
Bishop NY CD 1
Boucher VA CD 9
Carnahan MO CD 3
Chandler KY CD 6
Tenn CD 5 (Open)
Costello IL CD 12
Courtney CT CD 2
Critz PA CD 12
Donnelly IN CD 2
Doyle PA CD 14
Himes CT CD 4
Holt NJ CD 12
Holden PA CD 17
Israel NY CD 2
Kildee MI CD 5
Kind WI CD 3
Rhode Island CD 1 (Open)
Kirkpatrick CD 1
Kaptur OH CD 9
Larson WA CD 2
Loebsack IA CD 2
Marshall GA CD 8
McMahon NY CD 13
Minnick ID CD 1
Murphy CT CD 5
Murphy NY CD 20
Ross AR CD 4
Ryan OH CD 17
Space OH CD 18
Tsongas MA CD 5
Wilson OH CD 6
Walz MN CD 1

The GOP needs 39 seats to flip the chamber. Clearly they should be able to get over that hurdle. Currently I think 55 seats is quite possible.

GOP Seats in Danger (3)

Cao LA CD 2
Djou HI CD 1
Delaware At Large (Open)

The Snitch

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What the generic ballot tells us this late in the season

Rasmussen Reports is saying this week that the generic ballot, i.e., "Which political party would you vote for?" has the GOP in a 12 point lead (48-36). Rasmussen has never seen this kind of spread before. Generally the Democrats maintain at least a small lead (there are generally more Democrats than Republicans) in most generic ballots but this year is a notable exception. In 1994, the year the GOP took over the Senate and House, their advantage just before election day was about 5% which was very high for the GOP. Gallup isn't reporting a 12% gap but theirs is in the high single digits. This confirms what many are suspecting that if trends continue this way the Republicans will pick up an enormous amount of House and Senate seats along with a truckload of newly elected state offices.

This is being born out in many House races and most of the Senate as well. The GOP Senate candidates in New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Missouri have jumped out to comfortable leads where only a few weeks ago these races were true tossups. Nevada, Illinois, Wisconsin, Washington and California are still neck and neck and there's just no way to get a good read on these seats-they will all probably come down to the last week before we can make a good guess.

In my view the following Democratic seats are going to flip:
North Dakota

These seats are trending to the GOP:

Toss ups:
(See above)

At the very least the GOP will pick up six seats in the Senate but they could max out at twelve if they carry the tossups. Certainly the House will be in GOP hands in January but the Senate is truly up for grabs.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Five strongly Democratic seats that may flip in November

Why is the Democratic party spending so much money to protect seats that are considered safely Democratic? Do they believe that most of the seats that are "purple" are already lost? Perhaps. Perhaps it is because they are worried about certain "safe" districts that aren't so certain. Perhaps it is both. Here's five seats that may flip in November:

California CD 11 (McNerney) Jerry McNerney is in the fight for his political life. McNerney won his first election in 2006 with 53% of the vote and in 2008 got 55% but this year he'll be lucky to get to 50% facing a tough challenge from David Harmer, a politican and lawyer from Pleasanton, CA. Harmer is a tough conservative who is well positioned to win the general election and the national Democratic party is pouring in money to protect McNerney. This district, to the east of San Fransisco mostly based around Stockton is slightly more red than blue and has suffered like most of the rest of the state from high unemployment-the perfect mixture for an insurgent politician to win an election.

Massachusetts CD 5 (Tsongas) Niki Tsongas was first elected in 2007 with 51% of the vote in a special election. Her district to the northwest of Boston is fairly blue and she was unopposed in 2008. This year Republican Sam Maes is her challenger and is is giving her the fight of her life. Maes is a refugee from Cambodia who spent years in a UN refugee camp before being allowed to emigrate to America through a Catholic charity. Most of his family was wiped out in the communist purges in the late 1970s in Cambodia and he doesn't even know how old he is. It is a classic story of someone who came to the US with very little and didn't even know the language but has risen to run for high office. In a district that voted strongly for Scott Brown in the January Senate election I wouldn't be surprised if Maes picks Tsongas off. I fully expect the GOP to pick up Massachusetts CD 10 as well so they have a shot at two seats in the Bay State-something they haven't had for many years.

Michigan CD 5 (Kildee) Dale Kildee was first elected to Congress in 1976 and has rarely had a strong challenger. In 1994 he came close to losing but since then has generally had an easy ride. His district includes Flint which is heavily Democratic and much of the rest of the seat is deep blue. However, John Kupiec, a local Republican will give Kildee a strong challenge this year. Turnout in the Republican primary in Michigan was very high (see the previous post) and Kupiec think he's got a good shot at winning. A life-long resident of the district with strong environmental credentials, Kupiec will be able to spend the rest of the fall campaigning while Kildee will have to race back and forth from Washington. Moreover, Kildee was one of the last holdouts against ObamaCare but folded at the end of the debate and has faced the wrath of the public ever since. Kildee should still win but it is certainly not out of the realm of possiblity that he'll lose.

Missouri CD 3 (Carnahan) Russ Carnahan has spent two unremarkable terms in the House of Representatives. The Carnahan family name is strong in Missouri and Russ was the beneficiary of the name recongition to succeed Dick Gephardt in 2006. However, ObamaCare is very unpopular in the state (see previous posts) and Carnahan eagerly voted for it. He'll face a strong challenger this year in Ed Martin who may be able to knock him off. This race will depend on turnout; how many Republicans and Independents will come out to vote for Martin as part of a protest vote against Carnahan and ObamaCare. The district is blue (areas of St. Louis and counties southeast of the city) but not as deep as Kildee's in Michigan and Carnahan is simply not that talented a politican. If he loses the four scheduled debates and Martin's team can get a good grassroots organization going Carnahan may be sent packing.

Texas CD 23 (Rodriguez) Ciro Rodriguez is a very liberal Democratic politician who has been in and out of Congress for over a dozen years. After losing a primary battle because of redistricting in 2002 he was able to pull off an upset win in 2006 over popular GOP incumbent Henry Bonilla. His district is slightly red and he'll face San Antonio businessman Francisco Canseco in the general election. Rodriguez is vulnerable and he's got a temper-he lost his composure at a recent town hall meeting trying to defend ObamaCare and it was captured on tape. This district covers a large section of the border between El Paso and Laredo and includes San Antonio with about 2/3rds of the residents being from Hispanic backgrounds who tend to vote Democratic. However, this is a very socially conservative section of the country and Rodriquez is very liberal and out of step with most of his constituents. This district is under a lot of people's radar but don't be surprised on Election Night if Ciro is sent home.

If these five do lose than the House Democrats will be in danger of losing over 70 seats-no that's not a misprint.

What the numbers in last week's Michigan and Missouri primaries tell us

In St. Louis, the most liberal area of the Missouri the Republican candidate got more votes than his Democratic rival. That should simply never happen-it should not even be close. Republican turnout in both states was enormous and energetic. In Michigan, a fairly blue state with high Democratic voter registration, about a million people voted in the Republican primary and about 500,000 voted in the Democratic primary. I've never seen numbers like this before. In Missouri you could make the case that the ObamaCare proposition brought additional conservative votes out but that would only be a part of the explanation since a large segment of Democrats in the state voted for the referendum. Michigan in many ways should be an even greater warning. Both parties had contested races for governor and, if this was a normal year, would have brought out similar numbers. It is simply unbelievable that in a Democratic state like Michigan Republicans can outnumber Democrats in a primary by a ratio of 2 to 1.

Of course this is bad news for Democratic candidates who are running in statwide and congressional races but it is also terrible for those who are running in marginal districts for state assembly and senate seats. I suspect several state legislatures will change from Democratic to Republican control. That, along with a lot of winning GOP candidates winning governor's races will have long-term effects because it will be in the next term that state legislatures and their governors will be redrawing congressional district lines as well as their own state assembly and senate seats.

I've said for many weeks that the GOP will take control of the House in November. I suspect strongly that they will gain at least 55 seats. It is quite possible that they will get 60 or even 70. With Independents fleeing and Republicans coming out in droves to vote along with an anemic economy the Democrats are heading for a real beating in November.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What the anti-ObamaCare referendum in Missouri means for the country

Tonight the voters of Missouri voted overwhelmingly (around 73%) for a referendum nullifying the new health care law passed last spring. What this basically means is that Missouri is telling Washington that they will not force its state's citizens to buy health insurance if they don't want to. While this idea of "nullification" may shock you, local and state governments have actually done this for most of our nation's history when they view a law from the federal government as clearly unconstitutional and therefore void.

This kind of argument takes us back to what the ratifying conventions debated in 1787-1788 when the new Constitution was being considered as a replacement for the Articles of Confederation. Is the federal judiciary the final arbiter of the what is lawful and what is not? Liberals and "progressives" may tell you that it is but that is clearly false-the people themselves decide what is lawful and what is not and are obliged to resist laws that are clearly unconstitutional and therefore void. Throughout history this has been done by states-Wisconsin would not let its citizens be harassed by Federal marshalls in the 1850s when the marshalls tried to arrest abolitionists who were assisting runaway slaves. They state government declared that those who helped runaway slaves would not be prosecuted because the Fugitive Slave Act was clearly wrong. The Real-ID Act of a few years ago that was passed by the federal government that created national standards for state IDs has basically been nullified by most localities as an abidgement of their rights under the 9th and 10th Amendments. And, of course, the federal government says that marijuana is illegal in every state but California openly supports the use of the drug by those who are ill. If you travel to the Golden State you'll see shops in most major localities in open defiance of federal law.

I would bet that in the next four years you'll see twenty to thirty more states put laws on their respective books to nullify this law. In the end, more than half the states will say that their citizens will not have to be compelled to buy insurance and there won't be much the federal government will be able to do about it even if the Congress doesn't repeal the law.