Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ben Nelson drops out

Once the most popular Democratic politician in Nebraska (he won reelection in 2006 by 26 points) Ben Nelson was probably headed for a huge loss next year no matter what GOP candidate would have emerged to face him. After being bribed to accept the President's health care plan in 2009, Nelson had a hard time even appearing in public in his home state to even eat dinner (he got booed out of at least one restaurant). It is a remarkable fall for someone once considered a "moderate" Democrat. The last three years have been hard on those Democrats who have tried to portray themselves as moderates or even conseratives. When George Bush was in office they could take positions that would shield them from too much controversy but once President Obama took office their true colors were exposed as Harry Reid in the Senate and Nancy Pelosi in the House demanded, begged, bribed and pleaded for their support. In the end, it will cost the most of the moderate and conservative Democrats who are still in the two chambers their jobs. In the end, Ben Nelson's departure might help the Democrats nationally. While that may see contradictory, it is true. Had Nelson run, the DNC would have been forced to spend a lot of money defending his seat and still probably lose. Now they can simply write it off and spend their cash elsewhere.


The Snitch

Can Bobby Jindal be drafted?

If Rick Perry drops out (which I predict he will do immediately after Iowa) than Governor Jindal might consider it. He's a big Perry supporter so he's have to wait until Perry steps aside. Jindal would be a dream shot for most conservatives and they would flock to him. He would have to accept quickly to try to get on the ballot in several states to fight off Mitt Romney. Jindal has gotten some intense pressure lately to come in. A Jindal/Rubio ticket would be virtually unbeatable. We'll see.


The Snitch

Can Santorum come in 2nd in Iowa?

The short answer is yes. This is the most fluid GOP primary in modern times. Two weeks ago Newt Gingrich was in command but has rapidly fallen out of the first tier of contenders as negative attacks have decimated his campaign. Conservative voters, looking for an alternative other than Mitt Romney, really have only one option left: Rick Santorum. Granted, Santorum has very little organization outside of Iowa and seems like an impossibly long shot but he's in a better position than most think. He's visited every corner of the state and has forged strong bonds that will pay off on the night of the caucus. I think it very possible that Santorum will finish at least 3rd, if not 2nd. Romney and Paul's supporters are pretty much locked in and those two candidates aren't going to move very much-in fact Paul's support will probably go down as his nutty positions become better known throughout the electorate.

If Santorum does make a splash in Iowa can he sustain his momentum. He's invested almost everything he has in the state and knows if he finishes in 4th place or lower he's done. If he does finish 3rd or 2nd his best hope is that the other conservatives who finish behind him quickly drop out and endorse him as a counter to the more liberal Mitt Romney. He'll probably get crushed in New Hampshire but he'll hope to be competitive in much more conservative South Carolina. If he can pull that off he'll have a chance to prevail in later primaries and make it a two-man race between himself and Romney. Santorum has a decent conservative record and most GOP voters would vote for him if they had to choose between him and Mitt Romney. We'll just have to see what happens in the next five days.


The Snitch

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Gingrich in Command?

With a little over three weeks to go until the Iowa caucus, the GOP race is still as fluid as ever. Even though Newt Gingrich seems to be ahead nationally he may have peaked a bit too early as the other Republican candidates continually attack him through the media, especially in Iowa. Either Gingrich or Romney will win in Iowa but Ron Paul may end up with a very surprising chunk of the vote (10-22%)and I do think Rick Santorum will end up with significantly more (5-12%) than our polling is showing. The other candidates will end up in single digits and will be totally knocked out after the New Hampshire primary.

It is simply very difficult to know who will win for three reasons: One, the caucus is three weeks away which is a geological ice age in politics. Two, over 60% of the GOP electorate have indicated that they may still change their minds in the coming days. Three, people can change their minds the night of the caucus as voters discuss in various groups whom they will vote for and then finally make their decision.

I still see Gingrich coming out of Iowa and New Hampshire as the strongest candidate. He's more conservative than Mitt Romney which will appeal to the rank and file of the GOP caucus. Moreover, as other GOP candidates drop out I suspect they will endorse Gingrich as the most conservative and still electable candidate left.


The Snitch

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Romney in Trouble

Mitt Romney is in deep trouble. He's been relying on a weak field of conservatives to divide the vote and leave him as the victor with about a quarter of the GOP primary vote. Moreover, he's always felt that no matter what would happen in Iowa (a probable Romney loss) he would roar to victory in New Hampshire. This weekend, however, the Manchester Union Leader, arguably the most influential conservative newspaper in New Hampshire, endorsed Newt Gingrich. This puts a significant dent in Romney's argument that he will be the inevitable nominee. He'll still probably win in New Hampshire but it is very possible that Gingrich will win in Iowa and come very close in the Granite State. If Gingrich does win one or both of the first two primary contests he'll probably win in South Carolina and Florida. By that time, the other conservatives in the race (Cain, Perry, etc.) will start to drop out and will have to decide whether or not to endorse Romney or Gingrich. I would bet that most or all will endorse Gingrich as he is much more conservative than Romney.

Gingrich certainly has a lot of baggage but he does have some great strengths. He is as articulate as Bill Clinton and will have the support of a united party who wants to defeat the President. If he does win the primary whom does he pick to be VP? For lots of reasons he should pick Marco Rubio. But we'll get to that later...


The Snitch

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Senate Scorecard

Right now the Democrats control 53 seats and the GOP holds the other 47. 33 will be up in the next election. Here's how they look.

Solid GOP: (8)

GOP Pickups: (4)

Leaning GOP Pickups: (2)

Toss ups: (3)
-Ohio-I know Sherrod Brown was polling well ahead of Josh Mandel but that will soon change. Brown is the most liberal member of the Upper House and Mandel will make that known in a state that's slightly red.
-North Dakota-I would have assumed the GOP would take this seat but the former Democratic Attorney General of the state has jumped in and she's formidable.

Lean Dem: (9)
-New Mexico
-Minnesota-If the Democratic incumbent doesn't get a strong challenger she'll run away with it.
-Hawaii-This could prove a big surprise. The former GOP governor is mounting a tough challenge.
-California-Diane Feinstein is tough but she's out of campaign money and she hasn't yet announced.
-West Virginia
-Pennsylvania-The GOP has yet to put up a tough challenger against Bob Casey. He's beatable if a good Republican runs.
-New York-The GOP has put a solid Republican in the race against Kirsten Gillibrand but she'll be tough to unseat in this solidly blue state.

Solid Dem: (5)
-New Jersey
-Rhode Island

Possible Dem Pickups: (2)

Right now the GOP is poised to pick up at least six seats. If they lose Massachusetts and Nevada they'll still have a majority (51) but it will be slim. At the same time, if they did get several breaks, they could gain as many as sixteen (certainly unlikely) but if they got thirteen they would have a filibuster-proof majority. In 1980 the GOP picked up twelve Senate seats, including several thought to be out of reach. It is reasonable to assume that the Democrats will take significant losses in the Senate (and the GOP should easily keep the House) even if the President wins reelection. This could very well prove to be the fourth "wave" election in a row. Most of the faces in the House and Senate in the last ten years are new. If the President does win reelection, the Senate class of 2014 will be particularly vulnerable and the GOP will probably end up with more than sixty seats after that cycle.


The Snitch

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Romney vs. Cain for the nomination

Now that Herman Cain seems to have survived the accusations of sexual harassment his polling numbers have leveled out to a basic tie with Mitt Romney. Cain didn't handle the scandal very well and, perhaps even worse, gave a terrible answer about China's nuclear arsenal that seemed to indicate he doesn't know anything about it. However, he seems to have weathered the worst of it and is starting to counterattack his political critics and go back on the offensive.

The primary (and the general election for that matter) is a state-by-state affair and in this scenario Romney prevails (see previous post). Newt Gingrich's rise has been remarkable and he's almost in striking range as the clear man in third place. It is possible if Cain does fade that Gingrich could end up being the conservative's choice against Romney. Like I've said before, Romney's numbers continue to stay about the same (somewhere in the mid-20s) while everyone else in the running continues to rise and fall.

To me it is clear that everyone else is out, including Texas governor Rick Perry. In the end, it will either be Romney or Cain. We're simply too far into the cycle for anyone who has already declared to rise and surpass the top two. Moreover, the filing deadline is passing for the early primary states so any other prospective candidate won't be able to get on the ballot. In the end, Cain or Romney will most likely be nominated unless there is a split convention (if nobody gets the requisite votes) and the delegates decide to go to someone else. We'll have to wait and see.


The Snitch

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Romney now positioned to win the GOP nomination

As strange as it may seem (for any number of reasons), Mitt Romney is on the cusp of winning the GOP Presidential nomination. Of the first five state contests, Romney is assured of winning one easily (New Hampshire) and will be competitive in Nevada and Florida. With conservative votes divided between Cain, Gingrich, Bachmann and Perry, Romney can move along steadily between 25-30% and pick up delegates along the way. As the primaries move to more moderate states (like California and Connecticut) he can take all the delegates in a "winner takes all" scenario in those states no matter what percentage he gets as long as he finishes first. In the end, he wins the nomination unless one solid conservative opponent emerges from the pack and can eclipse Romney. As of this writing that doesn't seem likely and Mitt Romney should be able to steer a straight path to the nomination.


The Snitch

Monday, October 10, 2011

Can Herman Cain win the Presidency?

The short answer is yes but I'm wondering if he's having what I call a "Howard Dean" moment. The former governor of Vermont came out of nowhere in late 2003 seizing on the anti-Iraq fervor in the Democratic party and found himself in first place just before the Iowa caucus. In fact, many felt he was a prohibitive favorite to win the nomination but at the last minute a letter was released (nobody knows who although it was probably Bill Clinton) showing Dean's support for Clinton's unilateral military strikes in Yugoslavia in 1998. This undercut Dean's claim as an antiwar liberal, and, after his disastrous speech the night he lost the Iowa caucus sunk him and allowed John Kerry to seize the nomination.

Right now it certainly seems that Cain is the "stop Romney" candidate. He's conservative fiscally and socially and seems very likeable to most that seem he him in stump speeches. He's gotten his biggest lift from the debates; he seems comfortable and plain spoken. He's got a great life story and he's unapologetic for his political positions. His "9-9-9" plan seems to resonate with a lot of voters but I think this will be his Achilles Heel. If he wins the nomination the Democrats will hit him over and over again with the idea of a 9% sales tax as a "regressive tax" on the poor. That's political dynamite and will be hard to handle.

Having said all that, two months is basically a geological ice age and so much can happen. A month ago the conventional wisdom on the GOP side was that Perry would be the "stop Romney" candidate. Perry has since faded into obscurity, chewed up by his own incomprehensible answers in the debates while Herman Cain shined. Conservative GOP voters will probably have to decide in the next two months whether or not they'll take the more moderate Romney or whether they'll gamble on a untested conservative like Herman Cain. Right now my money is on Cain. If anything, it would be very funny to watch the Left attack him, an African American who, unlike the current President, actually was the victim of racial discrimination who rose from obscurity to be a successful businessman.


The Snitch

Monday, October 3, 2011

If Christie runs he could win the nomination and the Presidency

One thing is for sure: if Chris Christie runs it will be the end of Mitt Romney. Mitt has always been the moderate's choice in the race but the big man from Jersey would overtake him easily. Christie has some baggage (including a large waistline) but he'll be seen by a lot of moderates and some conservatives as a strong leader who can really challenge Obama in the general election.

I believe Christie would actually have an easier time winning the general election than the Republican nomination. If he wins the nomination he puts all the swing states in play (see previous posts) and even a few blue states. If he ran the table in the general election and won the swing states, Christie could end up with an Electoral College vote in the high 300s, easily capturing the Presidency.

This is all assuming he's running. I thought Mitch Daniels and Paul Ryan would run so I'm used to being wrong. Right now in Trenton Governor Christie and his team and considering how to put together a last minute strategy to get on the ballot in several states (like Florida) that have moved up their primaries. We should know by Friday if he's running. Many in the GOP are not at all satisfied with the current crop of candidates and a lot of pressure is being put on the Governor Christie to run. Simply put, the GOP doesn't want to lose an election to a President who is so obviously vulnerable and Chris Christie may be the answer they are looking for. While he may not be Ronald Reagan, he'll be able put together a coalition based on strong leadership that would be very hard to beat.


The Snitch

A Republican will be elected tomorrow in West Virginia

Bill Maloney, the Republican candidate for governor of West Virginia, will defeat Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin in the state's special election tomorrow. I predict Maloney will win 51.5% to 48.5% after being down by as many as 30 points earlier this year. President Obama's approval rating is in the high 20s in the state and any Democrat will suffer because of that large albatross. Six weeks ago Tomblin was ahead by more than 15 points but has seen the race become a dead heat in the last 5 days. Most of late breaking voters are deciding to vote for Maloney, which only makes sense as political independents in the state simply can't stand the national Democratic party right now.

Having said that, Tomblin does have a solid chance of pulling out a win. The Democrats do have a substantial registration edge and control the State Assembly and Senate (and have controlled it since the 1930s). There have only been 2 Republicans elected to the governorship in the state since the Great Depression so it is only natural to think the Democrats have home field advantage. However, George Bush won the state twice and John McCain was victorious in 2008 so Republicans can win statewide and I believe they'll win tomorrow.


The Snitch

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A huge change in the Presidential race may be happening in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania hasn't voted for a GOP Presidential candidate since 1988. With the exception of only two states (Maine and Nebraska), all states have a "winner takes all" rule in giving its Presidential Electors to the person who gets the most votes in his state. For example, Al Gore won the state of Wisconsin by approximately 5,000 votes in 2000 but was granted all ten Electors from the state instead of five or six he may have gotten for splitting the vote.

Article II Section I of the Constitution gives each state broad latitude in how it chooses its Electors, so Pennsylvania's prospective change will almost certainly survive any court challenge (if it comes to that). Right now there are eighteen Electoral votes in Pennsylvania (2 Senate seats and 16 House seats) and what will probably happen under a new plan will be each candidate will be awarded all the congressional districts he carries, and, if he gets the most votes in the entire state, he'll get the two other Senate Electoral votes as well. This has huge implications: even if Obama were to carry the state in 2012 it is very likely he would lose at least ten of the congressional districts which would grant the GOP candidate ten Electoral Votes. Obama's will be overwhelmingly strong in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh but he'd lose in most of the rest of the state which would account for his actually winning less Electoral votes than his GOP opponent.

If you assume 206 Electoral votes are certain for the GOP and 60 more are leaning in the GOP's direction, they would only need four more to win the needed 270-they would come from Pennsylvania.


The Snitch

Monday, September 12, 2011

Look for two big GOP wins tomorrow

Look for a big win by the GOP tomorrow in the special election in New York's Ninth Congressional District, vacated by Anthony Weiner who resigned in June after an exploding sex scandal doomed a once very powerful liberal Democrat. The district has not gone Republican since the 1920s but dissatisfaction with the President in domestic policy as well as his apparent anti-Israel positions in a district that has a high percentage of observant Jews has put the seat in play. Democratic politicians have crossed the aisle to support Bob Turner, a Catholic businessman who is the GOP's choice to run and is getting the overwhelming support of political independents in the district. Tomorrow in NY CD 9 you'll see the following result:
Bob Turner (R) 51%
David Weprin (D) 42%
Others 8%

In Nevada CD 2, Republican Mark Amodei will crush Democrat Kate Marshall in tomorrow's special election in this traditionally GOP district. The seat covers most of Nevada except the area around Las Vegas and is reliably conservative. Marshall looked to have a shot a few weeks ago (actually the Democrats tried to have the Secretary of State declare a "winner takes all election" without a primary to split the GOP vote among Republican rivals but was shot down by the courts which demanded a primary for both parties) but now looks like she'll get hammered tomorrow. Her attacks on Amodei, saying he'll "take away Medicare" don't seem to be resonating and he'll cruise to victory. I believe he'll win by 17 points tomorrow.

The New York election is particularly important as it shows the President's weakness with political independents. In 2008 he won 52% of the Independent vote but is not polling more than 38% of that block now. In some polling in NY CD9 he's getting less than 30% support within this all-important voting cohort. If Turner cruises to victory tomorrow in a district that hasn't voted for a Republican congressman in eighty years, alarm bells should go off all over Washington.


The Snitch

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The latest Electoral College Count

Right now the President's national approval rating is hovering right around 40%. That's always a bit deceptive in that the 2012 election is state by state contest where his approval rating can vary greatly. It really doesn't matter that Obama is under 50% in New York, odds are he's going to win there next November. And it doesn't matter that his approval rating is around 25% in Oklahoma; he's not going to even come close in the Sooner State.

It is much more important that his number is around 50% in states like Iowa, Wisconsin, Florida and Virginia (to name a few). There are really nine states that will decide this election: Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Of the states he won in 2008 two of them (Indiana and North Carolina) are already out of reach. He can afford to lose Virginia and Florida as well but he has to win most of the rest to be reelected. There's almost no chance he can pick up states he lost to John McCain in 2008 so he must create a "firewall" of states that will get him to 270 Electoral Votes.

Right now I think it is very likely (if the election were held today) he'd probably lose Virginia, Florida and Ohio. If that happened the Republican candidate (now probably Rick Perry) could win without winning any other states. Obama will certainly concentrate a lot of effort in those three states knowing that if he can win at least one of them he'll have a puncher's chance of winning by an eyelash.

He's got another problem: there are several other states that he won in 2008 that are in danger of falling into the GOP column. The biggest one in Pennsylvania. The Keystone State has not voted Republican since 1988 but Obama's numbers are terrible there. If he loses here it really doesn't matter-he loses the election. At the same time he'll have to hold on to Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and Wisconsin which will not be an easy task. If the GOP cracks this part of the firewall the Republicans will place one of their own in the White House in 2012.

Here's a look at the current vote count:

Safe Republican (24 states, 206 EVs)
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming

Leaning Republican (3 states, 60 EVs)
Florida, Ohio, Virginia

Even (6 states, 55 EVs)
Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin

Leaning Democrat (5 states, 42 EVs)
Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon

Safe Democrat (12 states and the District of Columbia, 175 EVs)
California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, District of Columbia

The President clearly has a high bar to meet to be reelected. It will be tough but it can be done. The Independents that no longer support him are not coming back any time soon so we'll see what he does in the coming weeks and months to try to stabilize his approval rating and salvage his Presidency.


The Snitch

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Presidential race changes and may change again

Rick Perry's entrance into the GOP Presidential primary will certainly shake up the race. Right now only Perry and Mitt Romney have a shot at securing the nomination. While my friends at Powerline blog think Romney will win the nomination I completely disagree. Perry will probably win or come close in Iowa (he was Agriculture Comissioner in Texas and he's an evangelical) and that will siphon Michele Bachmann's votes. Certainly Romney wins in New Hampshire but Perry will crush him in South Carolina by at least ten and probably fifteen points.

I don't know if pictures showing Perry wearing a pistol while he jogs will resonate with soccer moms (probably not) but he can claim his state created more jobs than all the others combined in the last ten years. In a time when 3,000,000 less people are working than when Obama took office that will be a powerful talking point. He will certainly run an aggressive campaign (unlike John McCain). He's won five times in Texas statewide and is a proven fundraiser and bareknuckle brawler. Just last year he crushed Kay Bailey Hutchinson in the GOP primary for Governor. Up to that time KBH was the most popular politician in Texas and Perry came from behind to beat her by 21 points.

Certainly a national election is not like Texas and he'll take a beating from the media which will do everything it can to paint him as an extremist in the hope that they can help reelect the President. Being from Texas in 2012 is probably a drawback as this century has already had a Texan be President and that albatross will hang over his head. There are also terrible rumors of his private life that are floating out of Travis County. If there is substance to the rumors his candidacy will almost certainly be finished.

In the end I don't think Perry, Romney or Obama will win the Presidential election of 2012. I believe by Labor Day Paul Ryan will jump in and will create a stampede that will crush his rivals and pose a serious challenge to the President. In the next post I'll look at the Electoral College problem the President faces next year.


The Snitch

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Thoughts on the Wisconsin recalls

Despite spending around twenty million dollars to recall six Republican State Senators, the Democrats (or more precisely their union and PAC allies) came up short in last Tuesday's elections. Two seats did switch: Dan Kapanke lost in LaCrosse in a district that is probably around D+5 and Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac lost. His district is at least R+3 but he had severe personal problems came up two percent short. The Democrats thought he was particularly vulnerable as he had won his first term in 2008 by just 200 votes. Luther Olsen of Ripon survived with 52% and Alberta Darling, a particular target for the Democrats, won with 54% of the vote. We won't know for a while but estimates are that three million dollars was spent against her. That's simply an amazing sum that's several times the average. She's close to the governor and she is the Chairperson of the Finance Committee. If the Democrats could have knocked off Olsen or Darling they'd control the chamber but it simply wasn't meant to be.

Next week there will be two Democrats on the recall ballot: Jim Holperin in the northeast section of Wisconsin and Robert Wirch, who sits in a district in the far southeastern part of the state. In my opinion, Holperin is very vulnerable. He squeaked by in 2008 to win his first term but he's facing an aggressive GOP challnger. There haven't been many polls on the races so it is hard to know where they stand. I do expect a poll or two to be released Monday.

If anything, these elections show the raw power of the unions and especially of organizations like the ProgressNow network, which is a sixteen member liberal umbrella organization funded by unions and megarich liberals. They poured everything they had into these recalls. How can they spend so much money legally? As long as they don't cooperate with the campaigns of the respective candidates they can pretty much do whatever they want. Wisconsin was saturated with commercials, mailings, and paid workers who flooded the state. The President is planning to raise 1 billion dollars for his campaign next year. Unions will fund about 400 million and will expect a large return politically. The automatic deducations of union workers (especially public sector workers) fund a robust Demcoratic machine that can renew itself every month as more donations pour in. In states like Wisconsin, public workers can now choose to withhold their donations which can do great damage to the Democrats effort in 2012 and beyond. As union dues dry up their influence will continue to wane. That explains part of the great hysteria in Madison; many intrinsically knew that union power and their symbiosis with the Democratic Party was on the line.

This election was to serve as a warning for any GOP or other public officials who wanted to take on the unions. Instead, it has heartened conservatives that they can win elections even when they are outspent (in this case probably around 2 to 1) and in a purple state (like Wisconsin). 89% of Americans are not in unions and, in the end, I believe their hysterical tactics they used in Madison along with consistently negative advertising proved to be their undoing. The GOP was energized and fought back hard; they put in a lot of resources and squeaked by with a victory just as they had in the April Supreme Court election.

Ironically, the issue that set the recalls going was never mentioned in the campaign advertisements. Governor Walker's bid to end collective barganing was not mentioned, only allusions to how he had "cut the education budget." There was also a lot of time spent on senior scare tactics as each GOP State Senator apparently wanted to "end Medicare as we know it," whatever that means (that will be a preview of next year's Presidential campaign). It really shows that collective barganing is a losing issue. The people it motivates aren't going to vote Republican anyway and political independents don't have the work protections that union people do and for the most part pay a lot more for their insurance and pensions and so the issue doesn't resonate with them.

Perhaps the funniest thing about this whole mess is that Wisconsin's budget is now in surplus and several school districts are not going to have to fire teachers because they are not as constrained by collective bargaining. As this trend continues and more people see the success of the Governor's plan he'll end up gtting at least partial credit for what he pushed through and put everything on the line for. While very vulnerable next year he won't go down without a fight and the Democrats should think long and hard about trying to recall him and face the prospect of him winning yet again.

One last thought; who is to blame for the end of collective barganing in Wisconsin? Is it Scott Walker? The GOP legislature? The answer is Barack Obama-the biggest union ally in the history of the Presidency. Had he not overreached and gone so far to the left in the first two years of his Presidency GOP gains would have not been so great at the national and state levels. And, if he somehow gets himself reelected, collective bargaining will be dead for several cycles in Wisconsin and other states as GOP majorities in many stathouses will endure for years to come.

In the end, Wisconsin had a choice to be like Illinois or Indiana. Illinois is in a state of political and economic chaos. The public pension system is terribly underfunded (in Cook County alone there are over 100 billion of unfunded liabilities) and taxation is very high. Indiana on the other hand, is solvent and growing. Even though it was very painful politically, Wisconsin has chosen to be Indiana and hopefully will continue to grow and proper in the years to come.


The Snitch

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Snitch is back!

Sorry for the long wait but, as Bill Murray said so eloquently in Caddyshack, "I was unavoidably detained." There's certainly a lot to talk about and I'll try to get an issue up every day.

A few quick Senate notes: Pete Hoekstra's entry into the Michigan Senate race makes it quite winnable for the GOP. Debbie Stabenow's positive/negative numbers are clearly underwater and she'll need help from Obama's GOTV efforts. A key for Hoekstra will be the Republican presidential nominee. If he's strong (a clear unknown at this point) it will help downballot candidates. It will take a lot of heavy lifting to get a GOP Senate winner in Michigan but I believe it will happen.

Pennsylvania doesn't look as good for the GOP. There's been no strong GOP challenger to Bob Casey who is clearly vulnerable. His numbers are much better than Stabenow's but the GOP is stronger in the Keystone State and just won the other Senate seat and the Governor's chair.

Sherrod Brown will lose in Ohio. Ben Nelson (NE), Claire McCaskill (MO) and Jon Tester (MT) all are gone. Along with open seats bound to fall in North Dakota and Virginia that gives the GOP 52. The Republicans have solid chances in the already mentioned Michigan, Wisconsin, and Florida. With some luck they can pick off a couple more in New Mexico, Minnesota, and West Virginia. New Jersey and New York are possiblities but they'd need just the right candidate. If they were to run the table right now they could get about 58 but I think a more reasonable number is about 55. They'll clearly have a majority, it will just be a question whether or not it will be a workable one to pass their legislative agenda (provided a Repubican is elected President).

Redistricting should give a marginal edge to the GOP. They'll pick up seats in Utah, Nevada, Texas, South Carolina, North Carolina and perhaps a couple other places but that will be offset by Democratic gains primarily in California and Illinois. Right now the GOP has 240 seats and I believe they'll gain about 5 in the next election. At any rate, the House GOP caucus will be able to pass any legislation they would like to in 2013. It will be the US Senate where the fight will really take place.

Tomorrow we'll talk about the President's lowsy approval numbers and how he could be the first person reelected with an approval rating of 45%.


The Snitch

Thursday, March 10, 2011

If the Presidential election were held today...

This is what it would probably look like in terms of Electoral Votes:
EV needed to win: 270

Pawlenty/Daniels (GOP) 312 EV
Alabama 9
Alaska 3
Arizona 11
Arkansas 6
Florida 29
Georgia 16
Idaho 4
Indiana 11
Iowa 6
Kansas 6
Kentucky 8
Louisiana 8
Mississippi 6
Missouri 10
Montana 3
Nebraska 5
Nevada 6
New Hampshire 4
North Carolina 15
North Dakota 3
Oklahoma 7
Ohio 18
Pennsylvania 20
South Carolina 9
South Dakota 3
Tennessee 11
Texas 38
Utah 6
Virginia 13
West Virginia 5
Wisconsin 10
Wyoming 3

Obama/Clinton (Dem) 226 EV

California 55
Colorado 9
Connecticut 7
Delaware 3
DC 3
Hawaii 4
Illinois 20
Maine 4
Maryland 10
Massachsetts 11
Michigan 16
Minnesota 10
New Jersey 14
New Mexico 5
New York 29
Oregon 7
Rhode Island 4
Vermont 3
Washington 12

In this scenario, the GOP wins. This assumes wins in Ohio (Likely), Pennsylvania (Somewhat Likely), Wisconsin (Somewhat Likely), Iowa (Likely), Nevada (Somewhat Likely), and New Hamshire (Likely). Of the states in play I rate them the most likely to fall to the GOP to the least likely:
-New Hampshire
-New Mexico

Assuming all the GOP states are safe that would give the Republican candidate 248 Electoral Votes; just 22 short of victory. If he simply carries Ohio and New Hampshire that would give him the Presidency. As you can see I've put quite a few states up that have voted Democratic for years but I do believe they are all in play. The GOP won Ohio in 2000 and 2004. They won New Hampshire in 2000. They carried Nevada in 2000 and 2004. Colorado voted Republican in 2000 and 2004. Iowa went for the GOP in 2004. Wisconsin hasn't voted Republican since 1984 but in 2000 and 2004 George Bush basically tied his Democratic opponents but came up a bit short. Pennsylvania hasn't voted Republican since 1988 but G.W. came within 2.5% of winning in 2004. New Mexico was basically a tie in 2000 and a GOP win in 2004. Minnesota hasn't voted Republican since 1972 but G.W. came within 2.4% of winning in 2000. Oregon was bascially a tie in 2000. Michigan has been a disaster for the GOP for several elections but the state's GOP governor won in 2010 with 59% of the vote in a deep blue state. You can bet the Republicans will put resources in the state. Maine splits its votes by congressional district so if you win one of the two districts you can collect at least one Electoral Vote. Right now I would say the President has a high hill to climb. He can still win but he needs a stronger economy, low gas prices and a weak GOP opponent. Otherwise he will probably be a one-term President.


The Snitch

Monday, February 21, 2011

Open seats in the Senate point to large GOP gains in 2012

The Democratic exodus continues: Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico is retiring in 2012. He probably would have won reelection easily but his departure gives the GOP a real chance to win the seat. I wouldn't doubt if you see more Democratic defections from the Upper Chamber in the next couple of months. I have a sneaking suspicion that Herb Kohl will not run again and Diane Feinstein will also call it quits. Here's the list of vulnerable Democratic seats in 2012:
6)North Dakota-Open
10)New Mexico-Open
12)West Virginia-Manchin

The GOP could pick up all 14 of these seats (unlikely yes but they did pick up 12 in 1946 and 1980 so it is possible in a wave election)-providing that the GOP is able to defend its seats (especially in Massachusetts) it could end up with around 60. At the very least they will pick up 7 and, with a GOP President, would roll back ObamaCare using the reconciliation process for most of its provisions. Time will tell.


The Snitch

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What is Joe Manchin's future in West Virginia?

Joe Manchin, the very popular former governor, now newly-elected Senator from West Virginia has turned his back on the main issue of his campaign. Finding himself behind his GOP challenger, he decided to put together a commercial literally shooting a rifle round through the new health care law and vowing to repeal it-making it the signature issue of the campaign. He immediately recovered in the polls and ended up with a nine point victory over his Republican opponent.

Last week the GOP minority in the Senate forced a vote on repeal and Manchin voted to sustain the health care legislation. There's simply no other way to spin it-he went back on his signature issue. ObamaCare is almost universally despised in the Mountaineer State and the GOP will probably carry the state in the 2012 Presidential election by twenty points or more. It should be a serious problem for Manchin who will have to run for the full term that fall. The trouncing the Democrats get at the top of the ticket should affect the down-ballot races (including Manchin's). The problem for the GOP is that there simply isn't a deep bench in the state. There aren't many Republicans who have name recognition and a positive approval rating to take on Manchin. In the age of New Media an unknown insurgent could win a campaign (like Ron Johnson in Wisconsin in 2010) but we'll have to simply wait and see.

Again here are the seats that will certainly or probably flip from the Dems to the GOP in 2012:
North Dakota

Right now the GOP should pick up at least 8 seats (with several more possible: Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Washington, New York and New Jersey) either very possible or at least somewhat possible). As I've mentioned before I suspect strongly that a lot of Democratic bulls will announce their retirement in the next few months.


The Snitch

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Nebraska and Montana both losses for Dems in 2012

Ben Nelson used to be the most popular Democrat in Nebraska. Considered a moderate until 2009, he's almost universally despised in the Cornhusker State after voting for the Administration's health care bill. He's already trailing prominent Republicans and his negative ratings are sky high. Quite simply, Nelson will end up like Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas-losing by 15 points or more. Nebraska will probably give a 60/40 advantage to the GOP Presidential candidate which will only help all the down-ballot Republicans. If I were Ben Nelson, I would retire and save myself the time and embarrasment of such a momumental defeat.

In Montana, the GOP's dream candidate, Dennis Rehberg, has decided to run against Jon Tester. Rehberg is the very popular at-large Congressman from the state and routinely wins elections by huge margins. Much like Nebraska, Montana will turn out liberal Democrats who pose as moderates in 2012. While the Rehberg/Tester race will be closer than the Nebraska contest, Rehberg will win by at least 10 percentage points.


The Snitch

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Will Webb and Bingaman follow Conrad into retirement?

2012 is shaping up to see major changes in the US Senate. Just as 2006, 2008 and 2010 brought a lot of new faces through retirements and defeats of incumbents, 2012 will probably be very similar. North Dakota's Kent Conrad is hanging it up after 24 years in the Senate and Texas' Kay Bay Hutchinson is also going to leave after 19 years in the Upper Chamber. Facing high negatives in Connecticut, Joe Lieberman is also hanging it up after 24 years in the Senate.

I suspect strongly that Jim Webb and Jeff Bingaman will also decide not to run again which will put both states in play for the GOP. The Republicans will be the odds-on favorite to win in Virginia whether Webb stays in or not; they'll be a lock to flip the seat if he does leave. If Bingaman does decide to retire the GOP will have a 50/50 chance to pick up another seat. If he stays in the Republicans will have almost no shot at winning.

Conrad's retirement puts the GOP in the driver's seat in North Dakota. The Republicans have plenty of politicians will statewide name recognition who will jump at the chance to win the seat. The Democrat's bench in the state is very slim and I suspect we'll see the GOP flip the seat.

Will Herb Kohl retire? After 24 years of doing very little in the Senate I suspect he'll hang up his cleats and head back to Milwaukee. Especially now that national health care has passed I don't think Kohl and several of the other liberal old timers will stay to go through yet another grueling reelection campaign. Right now I see the GOP picking up at least 7 Senate seats with a possiblity of matching their 1980 total of 12.


The Snitch

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Which Senators are in trouble in 2012

Those with potentially competitive races: (The higher the rank the more competitive it will be)

Those almost certain to lose:

-Nelson and McCaskill have virtually no chance unless their GOP opponent implodes. Brown, Stabenow and Tester are in a bit better shape but all should have decent opponents (especially Stabenow) and Ohio and Montana should roll to the GOP in the Presidential election which will help down-ballot Republicans.

Those in great trouble:

-Klobuchar will be helped by Minnesota's record of voting for Democrats in Presidential elections (they haven't voted Republican since 1972) and the GOP will have to come up with a good opponent. The Gopher State has elected two Republicans to the Senate since 1994 so it is quite possible they'll elect another one. Webb hasn't decided if he'll retire but even if he doesn't he'll be a long shot to win again. If he does retire that seat becomes a solid GOP pickup. Nelson is in great danger. It is not out of the realm of possiblity that Obama will lose the state by 15 points which would sink any down-ballot candidate. Nelson's a liberal who pretends he's a moderate and this will be fully exposed in the campaign. Bob Casey is a bit more moderate and the state is blue when it comes to Presidential elections. It hasn't voted for a GOP candidate since George H.W. Bush in 1988 (although his son came close in 2004). This will be ground zero for the Presidential race. If Obama can't hold the Keystone State his chances of reelection are virtually zero so he'll pour money and volunteers into the area which should help Casey. If the economy continues to fizzle and the GOP can come up with a strong opponent it won't matter what the Administration does, Casey will lose.

Those who could be in trouble:
10)Conrad-North Dakota
11)Menendez-New Jersey
14)Manchin-West Virginia
16)Gillibrand-New York

-There's no reason to think Kent Conrad couldn't face a tough election. North Dakota will easily fall to the GOP candidate for President. And, like Nelson of Florida he's a liberal who pretends to be conservative. Byron Dorgan, his fellow Democrat from the state bowed out of the election last year when he faced an almost certain defeat. Menendez is in a stronger position because New Jersey is so blue. Moreover, the GOP has yet to find someone who will be willing to run such an expensive campaign. Maria Cantwell and Ben Cardin are in similar positions; they would only lose in their blue states if the GOP put up strong candidates. The GOP has a better chance in Washington; after all Cantwell barely won her first election in 2000, winning by a little over 2,000 votes. Moreover, Patty Murray won her last election by only 2% last November after winning handily in 2004. If Murray can be put on the ropes Cantwell is vulnerable too. Maryland is so deep blue it would be hard to beat Ben Cardin but Mike Steele gave him a tough run in 2006. However, the GOP bench is small. I don't know if Steele would be willing to run again. The only other alternative is the former governor, Bob Erlich. Joe Manchin faces an interesting dilemma: should he run as a Republican in 2012? West Virginia will give between 60-65% of its votes to whomever the GOP Presidential candidate is. Would any Democrat want to run down-ballot in that environment? We'll see. Herb Kohl hasn't had a tough race since he was first elected in 1988 but his negatives are high this year. I think he may retire. He hasn't done anything in the Senate of note and I don't know if he really cares to be there anymore. Gillibrand will benefit from being in New York but would have a serious challenge if George Pataki, Rudy Guiliani or Peter King ran against her. If any of these three men jumped in I would immediately make him the favorite to win the full six-year term.

Those who are safe:
18)Whitehouse-Rhode Island
21)Bingaman-New Mexico

-Tom Carper is in good shape in Delaware. There's no GOP candidate who can match him-he's just too tough. Sheldon Whitehouse will run for reelection in one of the bluest states in the Union. The same goes for Dan Akaka and Diane Feistein. The only way the GOP could compete in California (or New Mexico, Vermont and maybe Hawaii) would be if the Democratic incumbent decides to retire-which they may do.

Who knows?

-It is simply hard to say what he'll do. Certainly the Democrats want to elect someone else. Will he become a Republican? Will he run as an Independent? Will he retire? His negatives are much higher than they were in 2006 so he's in a tough spot. We'll just have to wait and see.


The Snitch