Sunday, September 26, 2010

The latest from Ohio and Pennsylvania

It seems clear now that the GOP will pick up the open Pennsylvania Senate seat and will easily win the Governor's chair in Harrisburg. And unless there is a serious misstep, the Republicans will keep the Ohio Senate seat and will prevail against the sitting Democratic Governor.

It is in the House that the real bloodbath may take place. First, let's look at Ohio:
Democrats Driehaus (CD 1), Kilroy (CD 15), and Boccieri (CD 16) seem certain to lose. In Akron, Betty Sutton (CD 13) is slightly behind her GOP opponent in a slightly blue district. Charlie Wilson of Marietta (CD 6) is also trailing his Republican challenger. Long-time liberal Democrat Marcy Kaptur of Toledo (CD 10), Tim Ryan of Youngstown (CD 17) and Zach Space of Chillicothe (CD 18) are in tough races as well. Kaptur and Ryan should win simply because both districts are deep blue but Space is in a district that is fairly conservative (it gave John McCain an eight point victory in 2008) and will have a hard time retaining his seat. It is very possible that the Democrats will lose at least five seats in the state and the GOP may steal one or two more if the circumstances are just right. Of all the states in the Union, Ohio is perhaps the most crucial in terms of a national bellwether-whomever prevails in 2010 will tell us a lot about the electoral conditions in 2012.
Kathy Dahlkemper (CD 3) is an almost certain loser. The GOP will probably win the open seat that Joe Sestak is vacating in CD 7 and Patrick Murphy (CD 8) is looking at a crushing defeat in his slighly blue district just outside of Philadelphia. Paul Kanjorski, the long-time ethically challenged liberal from the Scraton area (CD 11) looks like he'll finally lose in his bid for a 14th term. Moderate Jason Altmire (CD 4) has about a 50/50 chance to retain his seat outside of Pittsburgh and Chris Carney (CD 10) is in the fight for his life in his rural, conservative, northeastern Pennsylvania district. Mark Critz (CD 12) and Tim Holden (CD 17) are also in competitive races but still have the upper hand in their campaigns. All is all, the Democrats will almost certainly lose at least four seats with a possiblity of eight flipping to the GOP. I'd bet they'll lose at least five on Election Night.

In just two states the GOP could flip enough seats to give them about a quarter of the number they'll need to take control of the House. Since 2006 Democrats have been winning in traditionally red districts but that will come to an abrupt end on Election Night. Many, if not most of those Congressmen will lose and several who represent slightly blue districts will also be defeated. As I've said before, I don't expect the GOP to have any less than 55 seats and, if the electoral weather is right, could pick up as many as 70. In 100 years there have never been three "wave" elections in a row but it looks like 2010 will be the GOP's answer to the massive Democratic success in 2006 and 2008.

The Snitch

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What's going on in Washington State?

Certainly the big race in the Evergreen State pits three-term liberal Democratic Senator Patty Murray against businessman Dino Rossi. The race is razor close and it is hard to say how it will turn out. Rossi and Murray have been exchanging the lead in the last few weeks and that usually helps the challenger as he builds his name ID. Rossi, however, has run for Governor twice and has almost 100% name recognition. For some reason, Republicans in Washington aren't as excited as their GOP compatriots around the country which has kept Rossi from overtaking Murray.

On election night we'll be able to guess how this race will turn out as other contests are decided in the Eastern and Central Time Zones.
In 2000, GOP voters around the country left polling stations without voting as Al Gore was declared the winner in Florida which led to defeats for Republicans across the country as hundreds of thousands of conservative voters failed to cast ballots. That year, Maria Cantwell defeated Slade Gorton in the Washington State Senate race by a bit over 2,200 votes which was a bit of a surprise. It is clear to me that had Gore not been declared the winner in Florida then Gorton would have prevailed. Certainly GOP voters are much more enthusiastic this year than Democrats and if Rossi is to win he'll have to make sure they all show up and vote in November.

In Washington CD 3 Democrat Brian Baird is retiring and the GOP candidate is easily running ahead of his opponent. Strangely enough, Democrats Rick Larson (CD 2) and Adam Smith (CD 9) are in very tough races as well and could both lose. Both districts are blue but not overly so which gives the GOP at least a puncher's chance to win. Larson and Smith are very liberal-much more so than their districts and have been unapologetic supporters of the President's agenda. I wouldn't be terribly surprised if one of them gets sent packing in November.

On a side note, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's sizable lead has shrunk down to single digits and it seems clear that she is in a bit of trouble as the election draws near. With the New York in a terrible fiscal predicament and its state government in chaos it is not out of the question that Gillibrand could lose-even with a very heavy Democratic voter registration advantage. If she does, the GOP could claim that seat immediately for the rump session of Congress in November. Along with Illinois, it would give the GOP 43 seats in the Upper Chamber for the last six weeks of the session. If the GOP were to win all the close Senate races (without, of course, winning the Wiccan seat in Delaware, Oregon or Connecticut) they would end up with 52 for January, 2011. Along with the sixty or so they'll pick up in the House they'll have control for the first time since 2006.

Currently I see the GOP controlling 50 seats in the Senate and winning 240 in the House. The electoral atomosphere continues to deteriorate for the Democrats and, with only a few weeks left, I don't think they can establish much of a defense. In the next post I'll be talking about the impending disasters in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The Snitch

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Can John Raese win in West Virginia?

If you would have asked me three weeks ago I would have said "no" but it seems clear that he's got a real shot at the seat. Governor Manchin is still the clear favorite but the polls have certainly tightened in the last few days.

Manchin is very popular in the Mountaineer State and easily won reelection in 2008. He should be a easy victor in the race to replace the venerable Robert Byrd, but, as we all know, this is not a normal year. The President lost badly in West Virginia and his popularity is under 40% in the state. Raese will try to pin the "liberal" label on Manchin and tie him as much as he can to Obama in hopes of sinking the Democrat.

West Virginia has voted Republican in the last three Presidential elections but it tends to vote Democratic for most statwide and local offices. No Republican candidate has won a Senate election since 1956 (I believe every other state has elected at least one GOP candidate to the Upper Chamber since then) so it will be a tough uphill climb for the conservative challenger.

Raese should have beaten Jay Rockefeller in for the open Senate seat in 1984 but the heir of Standard Oil spent about 12 million dollars (mostly of his own money) to buy the his way in. Raese spent a little over a million bucks and came about four points short. Had the playing field been a bit more level I believe Raese would have won the seat as a young thirty-four year old GOP firebrand.

This will be a early signal on Election Night of how well the GOP is doing. If Raese keeps it close or wins the race you will see massive Democratic losses across the board. If Manchin wins easily then the Republican tide won't be as high as once thought. I give Raese a puncher's chance-if he wins the GOP will control the Senate in 2011.

The Snitch

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The post-Labor Day sprint to the election

All the primaries are over and now the real races begin around the country. It seems clear that in the last two weeks most of the big races have trended a few more points in the GOP's favor. Indiana, Arkansas, and North Dakota were already gone for the Democrats' Senate candidates but now it seems clear that Missouri, Ohio, New Hampshire and Florida are gone as well.

Illinois and Wisconsin are slightly red but in both cases it is probable that the GOP won't win by much. No Republican Senate candidate has won by more than 53% in Wisconsin in more than fifty years and I don't expect that to change much. I feel strongly that Ron Johnson will win the Senate races in Wisconsin as he's well funded and not a traditional politician. Moreover, Scott Walker, the Republican candidate for governor is heading for a substantial win over Tom Barrett and it should help Johnson. In Illinois, Mark Kirk has made a lot of mistakes but I think he'll probably win his race. He may also win the election for the two-month session and if he does he'll be able to take his seat in November for the rump Congress.

Pat Toomey looks like he's going to win easily in Pennsylvania helped along by a Republican wave. The Keystone State is looking more and more like a political bloodbath for Democratic hopefuls. In Colorado, Ken Buck is still marginally ahead and the state's Independent voters should put him over the top.

Nevada is still a true tossup. It is simply hard to say who will win that seat. I would bet the debates have a substantial effect on the race. Delaware should remain Democratic now that Christine O'Donnell has somehow won the GOP nod over Mike Castle. Had Castle won the Republicans would have easily captured a seat (which, like Illinois, can assume the seat in November). Washington State is a tossup as well with Dino Rossi and Patty Murray being about even in most polls. California is a big prize but certainly Carly Fiorina has surged in the last couple of weeks.

Connecticut, West Virginia and New York are still favoring the Democrats but they are not out of reach for the GOP. Ron Wyden looks like he'll win another term easily in Oregon.

Will Lisa Murkowski's write-in campaign effect the Alaska race? Probably not, but this year is shaping up to be the craziest I've ever seen. When people like John Dingell, who has held his seat for 55 years (his dad had it for 22 before that) is barely ahead in his race in Michigan anything is possible.

Many House races are changing rapidly and I'll be commenting on them in the next couple of days. Democrats are facing large losses in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, and Illinois with more damage possible in Florida, North Carolina, Indiana, California, Michigan and Wisconsin.

The Snitch

Monday, September 13, 2010

What to expect in tomorrow's primaries

Delaware has a very interesting GOP Senate primary tomorrow. Mike Castle has been around for years and wins all the time. If he succeeds tomorrow he'll win the November primary in a walk. That's also important because he'll be able to take his seat as soon as the Delaware Secretary of State certifies his election within days of his victory. He's only got one problem: Christine O'Donnell, a 40 year old conservative activist who may beat him tomorrow. Two weeks ago I would have said she didn't have much of a chance but in this environment she may prevail. If she does then the Democrats will be in position to win the seat as she is so conservative that she'll be unsuitable for most voters. Delaware hasn't elected a Republican to the Senate since 1994 and hasn't voted for a GOP President since 1988. It has gone from a slightly red state to a fairly blue one in twenty short years. That's why Castle is so important-he's a moderate and has been shown to win. His candidacy has kept Democrats from being able to field a major candidate for they knew it would just be a waste of time against such a formidable opponent. If he loses, they'll get a gift of a Senate seat ripe for the taking.

In Wisconsin, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker is poised for a dramatic victory against businessman Mark Neumann. Walker should win by twenty-five or more points and is the odds-on favorite to beat Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett in November. Generally Milwaukee County gives 2/3 of its votes to Democrats in statewide races but Walker should be able to get a bunch of those votes and negate the Democratic advantage. After two terms of the unpopular Democrat Jim Doyle Wisconsinites seem to be ready to put a Republican back in the governor's mansion. Walker should win the general election 54-46 and will have the potential to bring the State Senate and perhaps the State Assembly to return to the GOP as well.

I'll be curious to see what happens in the GOP primary for the New York Senate seat. The incumbent, Kirsten Gillibrand, hasn't polled 50% yet and seems surprisingly weak in a state that has a 2-1 Democratic registration advantage. It is not out of the question that she could lose the general election and this is one race that people aren't paying that much attention to. Expect the polls to tighten in New York and the race in the Empire State to get pretty exciting. There are also five House seats that the GOP will contest and could win them all. They'll probably get at least two of them but I wouldn't be surprised if they flip them all.

The Snitch

Who is going to run for President iin 2012?

Here's the latest:

Mitt Romney-Almost certainly running for President. He's willing to spend quite a bit of money and has extensive contacts throughout the country who are willing to support him. He'll get plenty of primary votes but he'll have to deal with the albatross of the Massachusetts state health care system that he helped put in place in 2006. As it continues to produce horror stories and high rates, Republican primary voters are going to turn away from a man who presents himself as a conservative. Moreover, his Mormonism will cause a lot of evangelical GOP voters to look for an alternative.

Sarah Palin-The hero of conservatives nationwide, she'll get a lot of primary votes and in a winner-take-all set of primaries (if you get the most votes you get all the delegates in that state-the Democrats have a much different system) she'll do well. Especially if there are a lot of people who run against her will probably help her candidacy as they'll split the remaining votes. She'll get a big block of votes (probably at least 35%) which would be a formidable obstacle to any other Republican in the race. I don't know if she could beat the President but if the economy continues to go south she'd have a strong shot.

Newt Gingrich-He certainly sounds like he's running. He's been around a long time and has accumulated a lot of debts from Republicans around the country. Thoughtful, articulate and fairly conservative, he would probably get a large bloc of votes. He's got personal and political skeletons that will haunt him. His divorce while his wife had cancer will, I'm sure, be brought up in a contestable primary. Moroever, a lot of Republicans and Democrats just don't like him-especially with a public that is in such an anti-incumbent mood.

Heley Barbour-The governor of Mississippi will be the choice of some social conservatives. As the former head of the national party he's got contacts throughout the nation but I doubt he can run on a national stage. The pudgy southerner doesn't translate well on camera and would have a hard time finding enough votes in what promises to be a very crowded primary.

Mitch Daniels-If Mitch runs he'll probably win the primary and the presidency. He's done well in Indiana and is acceptable to most voters in the GOP. He'd put the Midwest in play and might be able to carry states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. I don't think he really wants to run and his wife certainly doesn't want to go through a national campaign. They actually got divorced and then remarried so they've had a bit of a tough time. He looks like a nerd which I think could actually help him in a year that doesn't like slick politicians. Again, if he decided to run I think many of the players in the GOP would instantly side with him to try to clear the field so he could have straight path to the prsidency.

John Thune-The junior Senator from South Dakota is a telegenic, articulate conservative who will win his reelection this year by 30 points or more. I don't think he can muscle his way in to a crowded primary and he comes from a state that doesn't help the GOP much but he wouldn't be a bad choice for VP.

Tim Pawlenty-The governor of Minnesota is almost a lock to run. He's had two fairly successful terms as governor of a blue state. He calls himself a "WalMart conservative" and has fairly humble roots. He and his wife would make a formidable pair as she is an experienced attorney and, I believe, wants him to jump into the race. Smart and very funny he would have a shot at winning the primary and would put Minnesota and Wisconsin in play-two states that haven't voted for a Republican president in a long time.

Mike Huckabee-The former governor of Arkansas is probably going to run. He's a strict social conservative but a tax raiser and he'll be attacked as soft on crime. His approval to release a hardened felon years ago has led to some violent killings on the West Coast and you can be sure that will be brought up in a primary. If I were the President I'd want to face Huckabee, Romney or Palin as they all have subtantial and visible weaknesses.

Rick Santorum-The ultimate of long shots, this former Pennsylvania senator is already working hard in Iowa to get a higher name ID. He served in the House and Senate and was a dependable conservative and served in the GOP Senate leadership while he was there. A devout Catholic, he's an articulate and conscientious politician. Nobody is looking at him but I actually think he'd be a very good candidate-and certainly one for VP.

For all of you hoping Paul Ryan is running don't get your hopes up. He's only 40 and has little kids. I actually spoke to him and he's focused on taking over the Budget Committee when the GOP takes over the House next January. Certainly he'll be in the mix later on and certainly he should consider taking the VP slot in 2012-there's very few people that can defend the GOP like he can. There are only a handful of transparent politicians who can can make complex issues understandable as he can and would be a tremendous asset to whomever wins the GOP nod in 2012.

What about President Obama? The first thing he'll have to do is kick Joe Biden off his team before he does any additional damage to the Administration. If Obama is smart, he'd ask Hillary to come aboard as VP to try to save his Presidency and get reelected. If he doesn't and the economy continues to tank he'll probably get beaten badly (and his party will take a pounding in Congress) if the GOP puts up an acceptable candidate. If he isn't careful, Hillary may just run for the Democratic nomination herself and challenge him directly, especially if she and her husband determine that he's probably not going to win. It would probably be her last shot as she's getting older and she'll take it if she thinks the timing is right. That would be a primary to watch!

The Snitch

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The generic ballot continues to amaze

Rasmussen is reporting that the generic ballot has the GOP ahead between 10-12 points. Gallup has reported similar results but they tend to have very wild fluctuations in their daily tracks. The Holy Trinity of political prognosticators (Larry Sabato, Charlie Cook and Mike Barone) are all saying that the GOP will take the House in November and have a puncher's chance of pulling even in the Senate or even getting a majority.

Barbara Boxer and Patty Murray have fallen a bit behind in their respective races and Russ Feingold is in a statistical tie. If the GOP wins these three races (along with tossups in Illinois and Nevada) they would end up with 52 seats in the Senate. It looks like Connecticut, West Virginia and Oregon will be retained by the Democrats. Alaska and Florida could throw a monkey wrench in everyone's plans as nobody really knows which party Charlie Christ will caucus with if he wins in Florida and Lisa Murkowski is talking about running as a write-in candidate in Alaska. If she did that it would give the Democrats a strong shot at picking off a once safe GOP seat.

The House continues to deteriorate for the Democrats. There are at least six seats in Ohio that may flip-I suspect the GOP will now pick up at least five. If trends continue it is very likely that they will lose over sixty seats nationally.

There's still about eight weeks to go for the President and his party to turn the tide but the continuing negative economic data, the controversies over the Arizona immigration law and the building of the mosque in New York, along with a frightening deficit have pushed voters back to the GOP. If there was a third option many voters would go in that direction but in most cases they don't so the GOP will win many races because they are the only alternative

The Snitch

Monday, September 6, 2010

What's going on in Colorado?

Colorado is a state full of political Independents so the GOP is poised to make significant gains there this year with one notable exception: the governorship. Dan Maes, the GOP's choice for governor, is a terribly flawed candidate (both in his personal history and in his mysterious politics) and that, combined with Independent candidate Tom Tancredo running for the post should end any chance the Republicans have for retaking the post. If Maes were to drop out and Tancredo to end his bid then the GOP would have a shot but right now it certainly seems that they will stubbornly stay in the race and lose.

Ken Buck, the GOP candidate for Senate is up a few points over the incumbent Democrat and he should win. Again, the Independent vote should put him over the top.

There are three Democratic House members who are in trouble. Betsy Markey (CD 4) will lose, John Salazar (CD 3), the brother of the Interior Secretary, will probably lose, and Earl Perlmutter (CD 7) is in deep trouble. All three seats were held by Republicans within the last six years and have fairly conservative voters.

In 2004 George Bush carried the state but the GOP's Senate candidate Pete Coors lost narrowly to Ken Salazar and the Democrats captured the State Senate and Assembly. I'm not sure if the GOP can retake both chambers but they'll get a bunch of seats back. If ever there was a year to be a "downballot" Republican this is it.

The Snitch