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Category Archive for ‘FL-GOP’ at Campaign Diaries
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Archive for the 'FL-GOP' Category


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Republicans: John McCain marching towards the nomination

The night of Romney’s Michigan victory — exactly two weeks ago — the GOP race looked to be in complete chaos. And the prospect of an all-out brawl for the nomination of both parties — with perhaps even two brokered conventions! — was very exciting for all political junkies. But things ended up very differently. Within two weeks and with a week still to go before Super Tuesday, the GOP almost has settled on its nominee. And what for months was the most unpredictable and wide open contest of modern history is drawing to a close.

McCain, who was already leading in most major Feb. 5th states, will be even harder to stop next week. He is already leading in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Arizona and California, just to mention a few. The first four of these are winner-take-all and by themselves should guarantee that McCain comes out of Super Tuesday with a massive delegate lead. Romney’s hope was to win Florida yesterday and ride that wave to launch a massive advertisement blitz in the big states and overtake McCain. Now, Romney can at best hope to win some Southern or interior states, and even there he probably will have to divide many of the delegates with his rivals as the states in which Romney could be strong are not necessarily winner-take-all.

Let’s take a moment to reflect how implausible it is that McCain came back from the dead to now be the clear favorite to get the nomination. Remember, McCain stabilized his position early in the fall after his disastrous July, but it wasn’t until December — after the huge Huckabee surge of November/early December — that McCain suddenly stormed ahead and took everyone by surprise.

I am aware that I am writing this in the heat of McCain’s victory. If there is anything Romney has done again and again throughout January, it’s turn around moments that were supposed to be fatal and stay alive against all odds. Iowa was supposed to kill him, he lost no ground in New Hampshire; losing the second contest in a row in New Hampshire was really described as the end of him, but Romney stayed alive and prevailed in Michigan. His distant third-place in South Carolina was a disappointment, but Romney closed the gap in Florida’s final week and entered Election Day in a complete toss-up. Yet, this loss is obviously very different, as this is the first time the winning candidate was the one who had the momentum going in, and the momentum going forward. And with the election now going national, Romney cannot duplicate his January strategy.

That does not mean that Romney will not contest the race strongly in the next week. Advisers are saying that he is still likely to spend significant amounts of his own money in a last push to shift numbers, but it is unclear where he can contest McCain’s domination. He will go for the South, but has to deal with Huckabee’s strength there; he could win Western states, but how far can that possibly get him? And to make matters worse Romney will have to deal with the massive deficit in early-voting.

So does Huckabee have anywhere to go? Huckabee is going to contest a Southern strategy, hoping to capitalize on the large share of conservatives and evangelicals. But Huckabee was marginalized on January 19th when he failed to win South Carolina. Not that he really tried to derail McCain, though. He will probably manage to win a few Southern primaries, but these are unlikely to be attributed to anything else than his evangelical base at this point; and Huckabee will be hurt by Romney’s own Southern strategy. Then again, don’t rule out Huckabee staying in the race longer than Romney can, particularly if Huckabee wins Missouri.

And that leaves us with Rudy Giuliani, whose collapse was as dramatic as it was not surprising. Yes, Giuliani was still ahead in all national polls at the end of 2007. But he had no credible paths to the nomination — and frankly, he stopped having one when he decided to concede New Hampshire early in December (as I reported on December 16th). Giuliani’s late-state strategy never made sense, and I said so starting very early in the fall. (Almost) everything that happened in the lead-up to Florida was Rudy’s ideal scenario and he failed to get even half of McCain’s total.

The debate among political pundits now is whether Giuliani would have been better-served if he had contested South Carolina and New Hampshire, with some saying that Giuliani’s road to the nomination was doomed from the start because of his position on social issues and that he ended up being too unpopular among GOP voters. That is very much true, and Giuliani’s December decline in New Hampshire even though he spent millions there speaks to that. But my claim is not that Giuliani would have won the nomination by contesting in the early-states; rather, it is that his reliance on momentum-proof leads made very little sense and that was tragically obvious to most people outside of the campaign.


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Florida results thread: McCain wins and is close to the nomination, Clinton prevails, Giuliani could endorse McCain

12:30am: Full analysis will come soon, but here are the almost final results from Florida. Among Republicans, John McCain gets 36% to Romney’s 31.1. Giuliani barely hangs on to third place with 14.6% with Mike Huckabee at 13.5%. As predicted, Romney won Jacksonville County big (41% to 27%) but did not do well in the I-4 corridor, losing Tampa’s Hillsborough County 47% to 40%. McCain also outperformed Romney in the conservative panhandle, where Huckabee drew a lot of votes (and won a few counties). But it is Miami-Dade County that did Romney in, as McCain got 49% there to Romney’s 16%.
Among Democrats, Hillary Clinton finished barely below 50%, at 49.7%, with Obama at 33%. Edwards got 14.4% and won a few counties in the North.

9:35pm: Rudy Giuliani’s concession speech went through the main elements of his stump speech… using past tense to talk about his campaign: “We ran a campaign that was uplifting.” He did not announce his intentions, and then CNN (and presumably other networks) interrupted his speech, as Romney had started speaking. Romney’s concession speech took many shots at Washington DC and how they “haven’t” done anything, as an upbeat Romney and a raucous crowd vowed to press on. A preview of next week’s campaigning. Meanwhile with two-thirds of precincts reporting, Clinton is at 50% while McCain is ahead by 60,000 votes, 36% to 32%.

9:15pm: The election is called for John McCain. A huge victory for the Arizona Senator who gets all of the state’s 57 delegates. This could be the end of the fight for the Republican nomination. With Giuliani perhaps getting behind McCain within 24 hours and McCain already ahead in states like California, New York, it’s going to be very hard for Romney to stop him.

9:10pm: With Rudy Giuliani a distant third, the discussion tonight is when he withdraws — and when he endorses McCain, with whom he is close. CNN is reporting that there are “ongoing conversations” that Giuliani could endorse McCain as early as tomorrow, something Time is reporting with a bit more certainty. Meanwhile, Huckabe gave a speech that pledged to press forward to Super Tuesday. And this could create a situation in which Giuliani’s votes go to McCain but Romney is deprived of Huckabee’s.
With 51% reporting, McCain is looking stronger, now up 36% to 31% which is a 50,000 margin. Romney is running weaker than he wanted to in the I-4 Corridor, particularly in the Tampa area and in Orlando’s, where McCain and Romney are tied. That’s a county Romney had to do well in And to make matters worse, McCain is looking good in the Panhandle and… Palm Beach hasn’t even started reporting. Things are looking very good for McCain.

8:55pm: Clinton is ahead with 51% and she just gave a fiery victory speech. The networks carried 5 minutes of her speech before interrupting, despite Clinton’s very large victory. Also noteworthy is that Clinton carried.the Latino vote big and that her big lead indicates that she did not lose any votes in the past week despite the awful week-end she had.
With 46% of the vote in, McCain is building up his lead. He is slowly climbing up and is now leading by 37,000 votes — 35% to 32%. 31% of Miami Dade is in, and McCain is leading 46% to 13% for Romney (Giuliani gets 32%). There are still thousands and thousands of votes to come in in Miami, so McCain’s lead will still grow thanks to Miami. Marc Ambinder is quoting a Romney adviser acknowledging that this is heading towards a McCain victory.

8:30pm: John King on CNN is going through the vote county by county and shows McCain performing well in areas he has to do well; and Romney is doing more poorly in counties he has to do well in. Miami Dade has started reporting and Romney is way behind, 44% to 12% for now. The Panhandle is still mostly out.

8:15pm: With 30% reporting, Romney surged and is behind only 8,000 votes — 34% to 33%. This is obviously not very significant, but it should serve as a reminder that we are waiting for votes from some of the biggest counties in the state. But exit polls are now showing that Romney is running third among Hispanics, behind McCain and Giuliani. And the Southern part of the state (and Dade County) with the highest proportion of Hispanics is not really reporting yet.

8:05pm: Networks call it for Hillary Clinton, who is flirting with the 50% threshold. And the Republican side is staying way to close to call, with McCain up 21,000 votes 34% to 31% with 24% in. And the exit polls are now being released, and they show McCain up 2% on Romney (though I don’t think that includes early-voting).

7:55pm: 12% of precincts now reporting (apparently Florida did not learn to not release results before all polls are closed) and McCain is up 34% to 31%, with most of the important counties still outstanding. The Panhandle, of course, but also Miami, Tampa and Jacksonville’s areas. A troubling sign for the Romney campaign: He was supposed to do well for Saratosa County. But with almost all the county in, McCain is leading there 39% to 33%. Among Democrats, Clinton is up with 52% also with 12% precincts counted. Hillary would obviously love to break 50%.

7:40pm: With 3% in, Romney and McCain and Romney are a hundred votes apart at 31%, with Giuliani at 17% and Huckabee at 14%. (These are MSNBC’s numbers, the SOS website has Romney up 35-31 with as many precincts reporting). Numbers could fluctuate more than in other states as different parts of the state favor different candidates, and they are also different voting techniques which mean that the different regions will report at different rhythms.

7:10pm: Rumors of exit polls are circulating more today than in prior elections. The National Review hears that McCain is up 2% in the second wave of exit polls (i.e. to close to call), but that Romney is up by 6% among absentee/early-voters which make up about a third of voters. And Time Magazine actually is releasing early exit poll hints that have McCain leading big among senior citizens and Hispanics. Remember these are all early exit polls — and we all know how wrong those can be.

Original Post: The polls in most of the state close at 7pm but the Panhandle — which is on Central Time — will close one hour late. The first hard results should not come to us before then, but exit polls could start being leaked within the next hour.

This results thread could be the one in which the GOP goes a long towards determining its nominee. It will be very hard for Mitt Romney to wrestle the nomination away from John McCain if the latter wins Florida tonight. But we aren’t there yet at all. This is the first Republican contest in which no one has any idea what will happen. We went in IA, NH, MI, NV and SC with polls generally in agreement about the winner; but Florida surveys have consistently shown a toss-up with Romney and McCain swapping leads and staying within the margin of error. To make matters more complicated, a significant portion of the electorate (possibly about 40%) will have voted absentee and in early-voting, which will complicate our reading of exit polls and will also make some of the results unpredictable because immune to last minute momentum.


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Was it really too much to ask for a Florida election with no irregularities?

Florida still has a lot of work to do to clean up its electoral process. In fact, there is anecdotal evidence that independents are being allowed to vote in the GOP primary. And if that is a widespread phenomenon, it could lift John McCain to victory in today’s results.

Florida’s primary is closed. That means that only registered Republicans can vote in the GOP primary (and registered Democrats in their party’s). Independents cannot participate in primaries in this state. This is obviously a huge disadvantage for John McCain, who won independents in New Hampshire and South Carolina by wide margins whereas he had trouble pulling ahead among registered Republicans, tying Romney in NH and Huckabee in SC among that group. So the fact that Florida is the first closed primary (there are many more on February 5th) is a major test for McCain’s appeal.

But also on the ballot today is a referendum on property taxes. The campaign for that has been raging for months, with Governor Crist, labor unions and many other groups duking it out on the airwaves and in a multi-million campaign effort. Independents are naturally allowed to participate in this referendum, so many of them went to the polls today to do just that.

Now, it appears that some of these independents ended up voting in the presidential primaries as well, presumably because their polling place only had Democratic and Republican types of ballots. And if that is confirmed to have happened at many places and to involve many people, expect McCain to receive many votes he shouldn’t be receiving. Two separate incidents were described in the Sun-Sentinel today. The first involved “Robin Garrett, a registered independent:”

She signed in and was handed a voting slip. She then handed it to a poll worker, who asked which ballot style she needed: “Democrat or Republican?”
“I was taken aback by the question,” said Garrett, who made a trip to the polls to vote on the property tax amendment. But she said she played ignorant and blurted out, “Republican.”
She then put her card in the screen and the Republican field popped up. She cast a ballot and went on her way.

The second is even more problematic, as the independent voter actually told the poll workers that he was not supposed to vote but they told him it was the only way he could participate in the initiative:

David Nirenberg… said poll workers insisted he choose a party ballot. “He said to me, ‘Are you Democrat or Republican?’ I said, ‘Neither, I am independent.’ He said, ‘Well, you have to pick one,”’ Nirenberg said… Nirenberg said he tried to explain to the poll worker that he should not vote on a party ballot because of his “no party affiliation” status…
Nirenberg said a second poll worker was called over who agreed that independents should not use party ballots, but said they had received instructions to the contrary. “He said, ‘Ya know, that is kind of funny, but it was what we were told.’ … I was shocked when they told me that.” Nirenberg said he went ahead and voted for John McCain.

If Romney loses by a few points tonight, he could question where those “instructions to the contrary” came from, and whether there is a deliberate effort to push independents to vote in the primary here. The problem does not appear for now to be widespread enough to be considered a massive irregularity, but with Florida’s history you would expect state officials to be a little more careful with such elementary problems. A closed primary is a closed primary, after all.

Naturally, there also were complaints of machines malfunctioning, the most remarkable of which involves Rush Limbaugh, the arch-conservative radio host. Limbaugh told the Palm Beach Post that he might have voted twice because the machine was not functioning correctly.


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Final Florida trends: Polls, spending and early-voting

The polls have opened in Florida , so all the agitation has now ceased as the (Republican) campaigns anxiously await the results. Will the week leading to Super Tuesday be suspenseful and chaotic? Or will McCain pretty much have wrapped up the nomination? The final round of polling released last night and this morning tells us very little about where this is going to end up:

  • Despite having released a poll yesterday afternoon, SUSA did a final check on the results polling through Monday night and found no late movement, with McCain at 31.6% and Romney at 31.2% (!). Giuliani is at 15% and Huckabee at 13%.
  • Among Democrats, Clinton has held firm and is up 52% to 28%, with 13% for Edwards. I will talk more tomorrow about how much this vote might matter.
  • ARG also came out with its final poll which shows Romney continuing to pick up steam, but the race is still a toss-up — 34% Romney to 32% McCain — with Huckabee at 12% and Giuliani at 11%. In the 4 polls taken this week by ARG, Romney gets 22%, 26%, 33% and 34% while McCain only rose from 29% to 32%. Late-deciders moving to Romney was confirmed by yesterday’s PPP survey.
  • Yet, Zogby is showing momentum for McCain, who is now up 35% to 31%, up from a tie at 30% two days ago. Huckabee and Giuliani are tied at 13%.

The Romney campaign is confident that its vastly superior organization will help boost its results by a few points which could be the difference between losing and winning. Remember that McCain heavily concentrated on New Hampshire and to some extent on South Carolina and did not have the money to compete anywhere else, which puts him at a slight disadvantage in a large state like Florida. From last night’s New York Times article: “[Romney's] Florida field staff, in the midst of an enormous get-out-the-vote operation, telephoned more than 100,000 voters in 30 counties over the weekend… Mr. Romney built a sophisticated grass-roots and fund-raising operation in the state over the last year, while Mr. McCain has had virtually no Florida infrastructure since his campaign stalled over the summer.”

To get an idea of the magnitude of this discrepancy, consider that Romney outspent McCain on ads 8:1. That’s taking into account all ads that have aired since September, when Romney started running ads, whereas McCain only launched his first in January. The spending totals in Iowa and New Hampshire were similarly disproportionate. To be fair to Romney, he did start with a significant name recognition disadvantage and he had to correct that. But the fact that he is failing to pull off victories with this kind of spending is stunning.

Finally, keep in mind that more than almost 600,000 Floridians have already voted and will not be going to the polls today. More than half of that total has cast their vote absentee. That will not only limit any last minute momentum shifts but will also mean that exit polls have to be read with great caution. Florida is one of the only states where early voting does not benefit McCain as in the other large states of Super Tuesday since Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney have had a much larger effort to push people to lock in their votes than McCain did until recently.


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Romney and McCain going all out in the Sunshine State

With Huckabee voluntary giving up on the nomination and Giuliani fading into irrelevance, the race is more than ever an all-out showdown between John McCain and Mitt Romney. And while seven polls out this morning showing a Romney-McCain toss-up in the Sunshine State, there were some hints of McCain pulling ahead in the wake of Crist’s endorsement.

Well, think again. Two new polls have good news for Romney — and both were taken exclusively on Sunday, so after what was supposed to be a good news cycle for the Arizona Senator:

  • PPP has Romney pulling ahead 35% to 28% with Huckabee at 13% and Giuliani at 12%. Among those who made up their mind in the past week, Romney leads by an outstanding 47% to 28% and he is also ahead among those who have already voted, 39% to 30%. This could very well be an outlier, but keep in mind that a Datamar poll out yesterday also had Romney up big. Nonetheless, given that nearly all other polls show the two front-runners separated by one or two points don’t put too much stock on a clear Romney lead.
  • The second poll is SUSA’s survey that has Romney slightly up 32% to 31%, much more in line with other surveys. Giuliani is at 16% and Huckabee at 13%. Three days ago, McCain was up 30% to 28% so Romney has picked up some support. And among those who have already voted, Romney is up 36% to 31% — which confirms PPP’s number and bodes well for Romney.

Considering McCain has long detested Romney and that their New Hampshire race was particularly vicious, it is not surprising that the two candidates are at each other’s throats in Florida. McCain’s decision to twist Romney’s words on a withdrawal timetable upped the rhetoric, and Romney is now striking back.

The former Massachusetts Governor is no Huckabee; he wants to win, and he knows what he needs to do to hurt McCain: Remind conservatives of why they’ve always distrusted their new front-runner. This might all be too little and weeks too late, but Romney’s new strategy is to hammer McCain for everything in his record that has given him a maverick reputation.

Romney’s exhibit A is McCain’s parading around Florida with Joe Lieberman, who endorsed his Senate colleague despite still being a Democrat and has been stumping for him in the state in the past few days. I am actually at a loss to explain why McCain would think this is a good idea. His big problem has always been the conservative vote and he has the moderate vote pretty much locked up at this point; not only that, but if there is one state in which Lieberman’s image is probably more closely associated with that of a partisan Democrat than a centrist almost-Republican, it’s probably in Florida where memories of the 2000 recount are still vivid. In any case, Romney used this association on Fox News this morning. Asked about McCain’s economic record, Romney answered among other things: “In particular, McCain–Lieberman, this is a bill that would add a $1,000 to people’s gasoline bill every year, a gas tax if you will.”

And Romney is broadening this attack by reminding voters of McCain’s flirtation with all sorts of Democrats, for example the rumors of his becoming John Kerry’s running-mate back in 2004. Romney is now blasting away with a robo-call reminding voters of McCain’s supposedly Democratic leanings:

You can learn a lot about a candidate by looking at their friends. John McCain and Ted Kennedy wrote an amnesty bill. And McCain teamed with another liberal Democrat to write campaign finance reform. John McCain also joined with Democrats to vote against the Bush tax cuts. And listen to what Bill Clinton said about John McCain just last week. Bill Clinton audio: ‘She and John McCain are very close.’

In response, McCain went after Romney’s flip-flops (”He has consistently taken both sides of any major issue. He has consistently flip-flopped on every issue”) and he brought up Romney’s electability (or lack thereof). He also went out with a new radio ad blasting Romney’s Massachusetts record.

Remember how this week was meant to be Giuliani’s last stand? The media was supposed to spend 7 days covering Giuliani who was not going to suffer at all, claimed the campaign, from his skipping the early-states. As I have been repeating since early September, Giuliani’s strategy simply made no sense: Even if there was no clear front-runner by Florida, there were going to be candidates who had won previous candidates who would come in as prior victors. In other words, Giuliani was hoping that the race would remain muddied and that he would benefit, but even in that scenario it was unclear how he could possibly recover — and that is exactly how it has played out over the past month. The first five contests made the race into a McCain-Romney showdown, and Giuliani has been unable to fit in.

Giuliani surprisingly declared today, “The winner of Florida will win the nomination” (via the LA Times). He might not be entirely right (a Romney win would in no way ensure a Romney nomination) but he has at least finally realized that Florida is indeed his first and last stand. Does this mean he will drop out prior to Super Tuesday if things don’t go well tomorrow? That could totally scramble the field in states like New York and New Jersey.


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In tight Florida race, some (small) evidence of a Crist boost for McCain

We are 24 hours from what is potentially the most important race in the GOP nomination, and whatever small edge Romney might have been building after a week of discussion of the economy has probably been erased by the deluge of good news McCain received over the week-end. Not only did he manage to switch the subject to national security and draw lots of praise from Mike Huckabee, but the headlines throughout the state were focusing on the endorsement of Governor Crist.

With that, let’s get to the (many) polls released from Florida today, starting with those that were not taken post-Crist:

  • Quinnipiac shows John McCain barely edging Romney 32% to 31%, with Giuliani at 14% and Huckabee at 13%. This poll was on the field Thursday to Sunday, so not very useful to determine any last-minute shifts.
  • Among Democrats, Clinton is up 50% to 30% on Obama.
  • ARG was in the field Friday-Saturday and shows a significant Romney improvement: Mitt edges McCain 33% to 32%, with Huckabee at 14% and Giuliani at 11%. Two days ago, Romney was only at 26%. Notice that ARG is including 4% of “independents” in the poll which is strange given that Florida is a closed primary!
  • Strategy Vision, whose field dates are still unclear. They show McCain edging out Romney 27% to 26%, with Giuliani at 17% and Huckabee at 15%.
  • And with that we get to Datamar, which was in the field Friday to Sunday and which is a complete outlier compared to anything else, showing Romney at 36% ahead of McCain at 23%!

Finally, we have two polls that explicitly measure the Crist effect and find a noticeable McCain boost following the endorsement:

  • Zogby’s tracking poll first of all has McCain bumped 3%, now leading 33% to 30% with Giuliani at 14% and Huckabee at 11%. Zogby adds that Sunday was a big day for McCain, who led 38% to 31% on Sunday alone.
  • The worst news for Romney comes from Rasmussen, whose survey was entirely in the field on Sunday. In a poll released just yesterday, Romney was ahead 33% to 27%. 24 hours later, it’s tied at 31% with Giuliani at 16% and Huckabee at 11%.
  • Update: A seventh poll was now released, this one from Suffolk in the field Friday-Sunday. McCain is ahead 30% to 27% with Giuliani at 14% and Huckabee at 11%. The press release emphasizes the potential importance of Saturday’s night endorsement, does that mean that their numbers show gains on Sunday for McCain?

Of all the GOP primaries, Florida’s is the first one which has no favorite going in. And that will give that much of a bigger boost to the victor. If the race was indeed tied going into this week-end, it is indeed probable that McCain is now coming out with a small edge, however, and the Politico’s Jonathan Martin thinks that Crist’s support pretty much sealed the deal for the Arizona Senator. And it’s hard not to notice that it is McCain who edges out Romney by 1% in most polls, though that is way within the margin of error.

On the Democratic side, it is worth watching the margin between Clinton and Obama. The stakes are much lower, but Clinton could get some revenge from Saturday’s humiliation. And depending on how many voters do turn out (all indications are that Democratic turn out will be strong) Clinton could get some positive buzz out of a large victory.

We also got an interesting poll of the Colorado caucuses this morning, taken by Mason-Dixon. Colorado is a February 5th state, so we will hear a lot about it in the coming week:

  • On the Republican side, Mitt Romney has a wide lead over John McCain, 43% to 24%, with Huckabee at 17%, Ron Paul at 5% and Giuliani at 4%.
  • Among Democrats, Barack Obama edges out Hillary Clinton 34% to 32% with Edwards running strong at 17%.

Colorado is one of the state Obama has put the most effort in, and his organization there is strong. Given that the contest is a caucus, organization is especially important and could help Obama build on those 2%. His campaign wants to win the states on the interior to be able to make the argument that Hillary Clinton is strong only on the coasts (which is why the Missouri contest is particularly important).


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All eyes are now on Florida, where McCain picks up the support of Governor Crist and… Mike Huckabee?!

The Democrats dominated the news over the past few days, but the attention now shifts to the Republican race and their Florida primary. If McCain wins on Tuesday, he will be very close to clinching the nomination. The two new polls released this morning show a very tight race with Romney making up his deficit of the past few days:

  • Zogby’s tracking poll has McCain and Romney tied at 30%, an improvement for Mitt who trailed 31-28 yesterday. There is also some movement behind, as Huckabee has surged from 10% to 14% and Giuliani has fallen to fourth place at 13%. Among very conservative voters, Romney leads 40% to McCain’s 19%, with Huckabee at 20%. Among moderates, it’s 42% for McCain and 17% for Romney.
  • Next, the Rasmussen poll continues to show Romney up, this time 33% to 27% with Giuliani at 18% and Huckabee at 12%. Earlier in the week, Romney was up 4%.
  • Update: A third poll has Romney opening up a small lead, as Insider Advantage shows him ahead 26% to 24%. The previous numbers were tied at 23%. (Second update: In the comments, Steve points out that those were yesterday’s number and that today’s have Romney and McCain back in a tie, at 25%.)

But new developments since these polls were taken could help McCain (though with about a third of the electorate having already voted absentee or early, last-minute shifts will be harder to discern than usual). In particular, McCain got two significant endorsements over the past few days. First, Senator Mel Martinez announced he would back his colleague which should help McCain in the Cuban community. More importantly, Governor Crist announced yesterday that he was endorsing McCain and would stump with the Senator. Crist, first elected in 2006, is very popular in the state though he is distrusted by some conservative activists (a group that McCain has arguably already lost).

Crist’s choice is a blow to Rudy Giuliani who had been courting the Governor. Crist was reportedly on supporting Giuliani in the fall but McCain’s camp got him to wait and see if McCain could recover. Indeed, McCain had campaigned for Crist in 2006 and was hoping that the newly-elected governor would return the favor. Now, Crist’s endorsement at such a critical time has led to speculation that McCain could tap Crist for VP.

Perhaps worried that his own VP spot is still very fragile, Mike Huckabee has decided to throw off all pretense and openly run to be McCain’s running mate. You might remember that Huckabee held back from attacking McCain in South Carolina and that most of his statements about the Arizona Senator were complimentary — including at last Thursday’s debate. And two days from McCain potentially clinching the nomination, Huckabee is now rushing to McCain’s defense and attacking Romney.

In an interview this morning, Huckabee backed McCain’s claim that Romney had supported a withdrawal timetable: “There are published reports that I’ve seen in which Mitt Romney did in fact talk about support for – not a public timetable – but a secret timetable that would be held by administration officials and members of Congress.” That claim is emerging as the dominant issue in the run-up to Florida, with McCain using a Romney interview from April 2007 in which the former Governor talks of a “private timetable.” McCain declared, “If we surrender and wave a white flag, like Senator Clinton wants to do, and withdraw, as Governor Romney wanted to do, then there will be chaos, genocide, and the cost of American blood and treasure would be dramatically higher.” To which an angry Romney replied that McCain’s statement is “simply wrong and it’s dishonest, and he should apologize.”

The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder convincingly explains why McCain (and now Huckabee)’s attack is misleading. And despite all the criticism Romney has received for being too eager to go negative, he has been on the receiving end of far more personal and insulting attacks, whether at the ABC debate or in McCain’s New Hampshire ads. Now McCain is stepping up the attacks by making Romney’s supposed weakness on national security a central part of his campaign. This is also an attempt to drive the discussion back towards national security and away from the economy, where McCain knows many conservatives distrust him and view him as too far from conservative orthodoxy. McCain is hoping to get conservatives to also distrust Romney to neutralize his advantage among that voting group.

That did not prevent Huckabee from attacking Romney for being overly negative today when asked if McCain’s attacks on Romney’s Iraq record were dishonest: “Dishonest? I’ve never seen John McCain say something that is just blatantly untrue… We have a civil approach to presidential process. Neither of us has sought the office by cracking the kneecaps of the other.”

With enemies like Huckabee and Giuliani (who is also holding back), McCain really needs no friends.


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The South Carolina expectations are set, and McCain keeps a small Florida lead

Polls have opened in South Carolina, so it is time to review the state’s final polls released this morning and last night. And let’s start with Zogby’s tracking poll that looked so puzzling yesterday:

  • Obama is back to a wide 41% to 26% lead, with Edwards at 19%. Yesterday, it had tightening to 38% for Obama, 25% for Clinton and 21% for Edwards, so it does look like Edwards is losing ground in his race to second.
  • SUSA’s final survey shows similar results. Obama is up 43% to 30% — a slight tightening, with Edwards higher than he has been at 24%. Obama gets 73% of the black vote, while Edwards and Clinton tieat 38%.
  • And then comes the ARG poll that is off what we have seen with other pollsters: Obama is down to a 39% to 36% lead, with Edwards at 22%. That’s a 6% drop for Obama in one day at the expense of Edwards who picks up 10%. Not to hit ARG here, but don’t forget they showed just as wild swings the night before South Carolina’s GOP primary and it didn’t really come to pass. Clinton’s lead among whites is 45% to 33% for Edwards while Obama ‘only’ gets 61% among blacks.

The polls look to have stabilized after the flux they looked to be in yesterday. And this is important because it sets the expectations for tonight and will determine the media’s coverage both before and after the results are announced. But the extent of the racial polarization means that a small change in the composition of the electorate could have huge repercussions on the results as a whole, so don’t think some sort of surprise couldn’t happen, especially when it comes to margins.

And with that, on to the Florida Republican primary where Zogby released its first tracking poll today:

  • McCain is up 31% to 28% for Romney with Giuliani far behind at 15% and Huckabee at 10%. Zogby tells us “it was a big one-day result yesterday for McCain,” which raises the possibility that McCain is the beneficiary of Thursday’s debate after all.

This is the third poll in a row that has McCain with a small lead and above the 30% threshold. I said two days ago that the test for him in Florida is whether he can get out of the 24-25% range in which he was stuck in most polls for a week and whether he could get a big enough plurality in this closed primary — and he appears to be taking care of that worry. Romney better find a way to stop McCain in the next 3 days for McCain looks very strong already in February 5th states.

Speaking of Super Tuesday, we got a poll from Missouri today released by Rasmussen. This is one of the states that Obama is putting the most hope in:

  • Clinton leads 43% to 24% with Edwards at 18%, a disappointing showing for the Illinois Senator 10 days from the contest.
  • The GOP results are also interesting, as Huckabee gets 27% and McCain 26%, with Romney at 18% and Giuliani at 7%.

It does look like there is room for only one conservative alternative to McCain, and Huckabee and Romney are dividing up that electorate. If McCain wins Florida and sets himself up for 02/05 battles against Romney in some state (CA), Huckabee in others (the South) and Giuliani in the Northeast it’s hard to see how he does not come out of that with a big enough delegate lead to proclaim himself the presumptive nominee.


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Primary polls: South Carolina looks to be in flux and Florida stays too close to call

It is getting hard to know what is happening in South Carolina. Is Clinton on the verge of sinking to third-place? Or is she rather recovering from an awful week in the state and is she now in sight of Barack Obama? There is no question that there would be tremendous shock if the order of arrival is anything but Obama-Clinton-Edwards. If Clinton comes in third, expect a whole new round of stories about her negative campaigning, Bill Clinton crossing the line and that could hurt her terribly with 10 days to go before Super Tuesday. And if Clinton somehow pulls this off or gets within a few points of Obama, the momentum she might get out of it could very well prove unstoppable for the Illinois Senator.

But we aren’t there yet, of course. And the mere fact that we are wondering between those two extremities points to both of them being unlikely. But we have to keep our minds open to a surprise looking at the latest polls:

  • The Zogby tracking poll is fascinating, because it examplifies both trends. In today’s numbers, Obama is at 38%, Clinton at 25% and Edwards rises at 21%, looking close to overtake Clinton. But Zogby points out that, on Thursday alone, it is Clinton that is looking strong, trailing only by 5%, 36% to 31%, with Edwards at 19%. That’s only one third of the sample, so big margin of error, but it does confuse talk of an Edwards surge.
  • Next comes the Mason-Dixon poll which has Obama up 38% to 30%, with Edwards at 19%. Clinton would not be able to trumpet a single-digit loss, but you better believe she would be very relieved.
  • Finally, the most recent PPP poll shows no tightening race at the top whatsoever but confirms that Clinton is getting dangerously close to Edwards: Obama gets 44%, Clinton gets 24% and Edwards gets 19%.

There are hints going in nearly all direction which means one thing: There are a lot of soft backers and undecided voters. And add to that the surprising following statement from ARG’s pollster:

For the first time in 10 days, we saw some shifts last night that could change the race. John Edwards is picking up some support among white voters… Clinton is making up support she is losing to Edwards from African American women… If this trend holds tonight coupled with a decrease in African American voting, the race between Clinton and Obama will be closer than our Jan 22-23 survey suggests.

It does seem that all bets are off! In the Zogby poll, Obama is down to 55% of black support, down 10% from two days ago. And Edwadrs is rising from the dead to capture 7% of black voters — which he really needs to do if he wants to get second. The Mason-Dixon poll also has Obama slightly lower among black voters than he has been in the past few weeks, leading Clinton 59% to 25%. Edwards slightly leads the white vote with 40% to 36% to Clinton. And in a sign of just how absurdly polarized the SC electorate has become along racial lines, Obama gets 10% of white voters!

Meanwhile, both McCain and Romney get good news out of the latest SUSA poll of Florida:

  • McCain gets 30% to Romney’s 28%, and everyone else is far behind. Giuliani gets 18% and Huckabee 14%.A few days ago (before THompson’s exit), it was McCain up 20% to Giuliani’s 20%, with Romney at 19%.
  • Among Democrats, Clinton stays ahead 47% to 30%.

The good news for Romney is evident. He has jumped up 9% in the space of a few days, and has clearly picked up the most Thompson backers. He has distanced Giuliani in his attempt to at least guarantee second-place.

And the good news for McCain is as evident, and I’m not talking about the fact that he is leading. In almost every poll we have seen of Florida in the past few days, McCain has been stuck in a 23% to 26% range. Depending on Romney’s percentage, McCain has led or trailed — but always from the same number. That made me wonder whether McCain could get a large enough plurality of the vote to win in this closed primary, especially with Thompson’s withdrawal. So McCain will be happy to see that he is able to get undecideds to break his way and finally break out of the 23-26% range.

Update: A second Florida poll, this one from ARG also has McCain rising higher. He gets 31% to Romney’s 26% with Huckabee at 15% and Giuliani at 14%. This is still a slight tightening of the race, as Romney trailed by 7% a few days ago. But Romney probably needs Giuliani to be stronger and take more votes from McCain to be able to top the Arizona Senator.

Keep in mind also that it is absurd to just take Thompson out of these polls entirely as some of these pollsters are doing. Not only will Thompson’s name still appear on the ballot, but about a 25% of the electorate had voted by Thompson’s withdrawal, meaning that Fred will still get some support on Tuesday. Also ARG very strangely includes a party breakdown, with McCain leading by 3% among Republicans and by a wide margin among the 6% of independents. I’m not sure what that means given that Florida is a closed primary — who are these independents ARG is polling? Registered Republicans who describe themselves as indies? Or is there a methodology problem here?


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In last ditch to stop the front-runner, GOP candidates bank on a McCain ceiling in Florida

Those of us hoping for long drawn-out nomination fights in both parties that will keep us guessing until the summer could be disappointed as early as Tuesday if McCain wins Florida, as that would automatically make him into a very clear front-runner for the nomination. How can Romney stop McCain in California, not to mention New York and New Jersey, if the AZ Senator gets a boost of momentum in the Sunshine State?

The candidates are debating tonight — and both Giuliani and Romney know they cannot afford to let McCain go unscathed as usual. The last GOP debates marked a free-for-all against Romney or a civil tone in which candidates inexplicably praised McCain rather than attack him. And considering just how much there is to attack McCain on in a GOP primary — and how much the Republican activists distrust him — this is simply stunning.

With that, we got a Mason-Dixon poll today, the survey we were expecting the most other than yesterday’s St. Petersburg Times which had McCain up 25% to 23%. Mason Dixon shows:

  • Romney is up with 30% with McCain at 26%, Giuliani at 18% and Huckabee at 13%.
  • Among Democrats, Clinton is losing none of her lead (and, as we discussed, this could help her tremendously if the projection of more than a million voters is confirmed) and is up 47% to 25%.

Looking at the set of GOP polls that have been released, it is hard not to notice that McCain is having trouble moving up from a 24-26% range and that, in polls with less undecided voters (because the pollster has pushed them more), Romney tends to do better. For example, McCain got 25% in the two polls in which he was leading yesterday — and 25% in the PPP survey (Romney got 28% in that poll). Remember that Florida is a closed-primary where only registered Republicans vote, and that group has not been as kind to McCain as the electorate at large. McCain’s hope is to have fractured results in which the smallest plurality possible winning the vote. But with Thompson’s withdrawal and Huckabee’s decline, this has become a two man and two halves contest in which 25% of the vote will not win the election.

If McCain does not break out of this ceiling and manage to appeal to more conservative voters, he will have trouble pulling out Florida. And the high number of undecideds in some of these polls suggest that there is a lot of voters that are still uncomfortable choosing between these candidates. In the next 5 days, Mitt Romney will do everything he can — and he has plenty of resources to make extended appeals to voters — to convince voters that McCain is not a true conservative and that he, Romney, is the conservative voters can trust. Given that Romney is reaching a range of 28-30% in some of these polls, it appears that many uncommitted voters are ready to embrace his argument and that Romney is benefiting from the decline of the two other darlings of conservatives (Huckabee and Thompson).

McCain is not helped, of course, by the fact that Giuliani is looking like the third man here and is staying in the high teens. Most of Giuliani’s votes are from a moderate South Florida electorate that McCain would like to capture — and don’t forget that a lot of these voters have probably already voted for Rudy in early or absentee voting, so it’s not like McCain can recapture their votes.

If McCain faces a two-way offensive tonight between Romney and Giuliani who remind conservatives of why they are supposed to distrust McCain, the Arizona Senator could take enough hits to be stuck in that ceiling durably. But if Romney and Giuliani keep the gloves on as they have in the past few weeks, McCain’s hopes stay alive.

Update: A second poll from Florida today, from Rasmussen also has McCain stuck in that same range. He trails Romney 27% to 23%. Giuliani is at 20%, Huckabee at 15%.


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Count no one out: Florida is wide open (for Republicans, that is)

Four new polls out of Florida today show different leaders and varying margins. The one vague consensus appears to be that it’s a McCain versus Romney race with Giuliani and Huckabee lagging behind but well within striking distance. To the numbers:

  • The most reputable poll is the St. Petersburg Times’s. It has John McCain at 25% with Romney at 23%, with Huckabee and Giuliani at 13%. The poll was conducted prior to Thompson’s dropping out and has the former candidate at 4%.
  • We also get Democratic numbers from this survey, with Hillary up 42% to 23% for Obama and 12% for Edwards.
  • McCain is also ahead in the new Strategic Vision poll which has him up 25% to 22% on Giuliani, with Romney at 20% and Huckabee at 18%. Thompson got 6% in this survey.
  • A week ago, Strategic Vision showed McCain ahead 27% to 20% to Huckabee, with Romney at 17%, so the race has tightened.
  • And Romney fans get to celebrate because the former governor is up in two other polls. First, an Insider Advantage poll that has him at 24%, with Giuliani at 19%, McCain at 18%, and Huckabee at 12%.
  • Second, a PPP survey has Romney leading 28% to McCain’s 25%, Giuliani’s 19% and Huckabee’s 15%.

Huckabee at this point is the only candidate among the top four who is retreating from the Sunshine State. Though he led in some polls here back in the days of his national surge in November, Huckabee doesn’t have the money to compete here and expect to see him declining in the coming days. The question, of course, is who Huckabee defectors end up voting for.

Giuliani has put everything in Florida and it seems that he will leave everything there as well if he loses the state. He is spending about $375,000 a day right now, and he is still close enough to hope that investment yields him a victory next Tuesday. Helping Giuliani is the fact that McCain appears to be having some money problem that has forced him to attend fundraisers these past few days instead of traveling around Florida (yet again, this is probably the best time to spend time raising money, given that the campaign will go national immediately after Florida).

But every one is at a loss to explain why Giuliani is still refusing to go after McCain in what could be his only hope of hoping the Senator’s momentum at this point. Today, Giuliani released a web video criticizing McCain’s opposition to a national catastrophic fund — but such an attack only has a chance of doing any damage if it is aired on TV or in mailers, of course, not on the Internet. (Update: The WaPo’s Fix has a link to this web video and also wonders why Giuliani is not going all-out with this issue that Chris Cillizza describes as a rare clear policy difference that could be a huge political winner. A puzzled Cillizza adds, “We tried to get to the bottom of this decision, speaking with any number of Giuliani advisers. They insisted that the decision not to put the ad on television had nothing to do with money.”)

One more reason to not dismiss Giuliani’s chances at a strong showing: Don’t forget (as I have already discussed) that Giuliani’s strength comes from absentee voting and early voting. Recent polls have shown him tied with McCain among those who have already voted (which could be about 25% of the electorate at this point) and looking much weaker among those who have not. But that means that Giuliani has a base of votes that have already come in and that he is more immune than the other candidates to whatever movement occurs in the final week.

  • More evening polls: Heading to February 5th

A few more noteworthy polls tonight, starting with Rasmussen’s new South Carolina survey, that has Obama with a widening lead, 43% to 28%, with Edwards at 17%. The black votes goes big for Obama, 68% to 16%, with Clinton taking the white vote 40% to 21%. Edwards is second there with 27%.

Meanwhile, we are getting an increasing amount of surveys from February 5th states, some of which have not been surveying that much so it’s a good opportunity to get a better idea of what to expect in two weeks:

  • In Arizona, a good test of the Western vote in which Latinos could make a difference, the GOP race is not close, as John McCain gets his home-state 41% to 18% for Romney. Everyone else is in single-digits… And it’s not usual to see Romney that much stronger than Giuliani in states where the campaign has not engaged, a sure sign that Romney is starting to be paid attention to.
  • In the more interesting Democratic race, Clinton has a big 45% to 24% lead. This is the kind of red-leaning state Obama should look into winning to demonstrate his appeal in territory Democrats have struggled in, and he should be helped by Gov. Napolitano’s endorsement — but this is a big lead that will be hard to close.
  • Some interesting numbers also from the Alabama primary which has Clinton at 31% and Obama at 28% in what is essentially a statistical tie. Clinton is crushed among the black vote — but what gives her a small lead her is that Edwards is very weak among white voters, at only 13%.
  • Finally, in a Quinnipiac poll of New Jersey, the race to watch is the GOP fight between Giuliani who has slipped into second-place at 26% and McCain who has taken the lead at 29% — Romney is third at 14%. Thompson gets 9% here — so the distribution of that vote will be very interesting to watch. Naturally, NJ was supposed to be one of the two most momentum-proof states for Rudy, so…
  • Among Democrats, Clinton is leading 49% to 32%, with Edwards at 10% — but she trails among black voters by just as much as anywhere else, 62% to 27%, showing that she has lost the black vote pretty much nationally at this point.

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The battle of Florida, part 2: The dynamics of the Republican race

I concentrated this morning on the Democratic race in Florida and whether the candidates would break their pledge to not campaign in the state. But there is no question that the most heated race by far is the GOP showdown, with Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney scrambling furiously to hold off McCain’s momentum. So let us look at the dynamics playing out in the Republican field a week from the primary.

Florida is a closed primary — the first state in which independents can’t vote. And that’s a big challenge for McCain, who always runs much weaker among registered Republicans and the party’s base. That is why his main chance of winning these races is to face a fractured race that allows him to claim victories with small pluralities of the vote (he won with 33% in SC last Saturday, he lost with 42% of the vote in 2000).

More specifically, you might recall that Thompson’s presence on the South Carolina ballot siphoned votes away from Huckabee and helped McCain score a narrow victory. In Florida, McCain’s main rivals for now appear to be Giuliani and Romney and that changes the dynamics. Indeed, Rudy and McCain appeal to a similar branch of the party — national security hawks and social moderates — while Romney is going for those more focused on economic issues and hoping to rally social conservatives.

Romney’s hope to coalesce conservative support around him got two huge boosts today. His main worry was that Thompson and Huckabee would siphon votes from him. But Fred Thompson withdrew today, meaning that there is one less viable candidate in the GOP race and that a share of the conservative vote can now be redistributed among the other candidates. In other words, McCain needs to get an even higher share of the vote now and he isn’t helped by the fact that Huckabee and Romney are much better fit for Thompson voters. (If Thompson endorses McCain, we will have to see just how much his backers follow his directive.)

Furthermore, Jonathan Martin from the Politico is now hearing that Huckabee could be on his way to conceding Florida and pulling out of the state, focusing his dwindling resources and his time on Southern states that vote on February 5th and in which he needs to get some victories. If Huckabee’s totals also start diminishing in the next 7 days because of Huck’s departure from the state (the way Romney remained weak in South Carolina because he didn’t really spend time there in the final days), that could help Romney pick up some votes and catch up with McCain.

That said, McCain has an advantage of his own. In South Carolina, Huckabee refused to go negative in any way against McCain; instead, he constantly offered praise of the AZ Senator (vying for VP, anyone?). The same thing is happening — albeit to a much smaller degree — in Florida, with Giuliani’s refusal to really go after McCain. This dynamic has been playing out for a while, for example in the January 10th debate in which no one dared go after McCain. I wrote that day: “Tonight’s Republican debate raises a very puzzling question: Do Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee want John McCain to be the GOP nominee?” Two weeks have passed, this same question is still very much relevant.

Not even that, but McCain is able to benefit from the constant problems that Giuliani is encountering and the stream of negative stories running about the former New York Mayor. The New York Times today added a new layer with a truly fascinating and must-read article about Giuliani’s grudges and quests for revenge. The Times details numerous incidents of people who spoke out against Giuliani having their career sabotaged or finding themselves in legal trouble. The piece does quote former city officials, some by name and some anonymously because of the interviewee’s fear that Giuliani might go after them if he is elected President! Giuliani’s nasty reputation is by now established, but the allegations of the article go much beyond what even Rudy’s critics have come to expect.

And that said let’s close this discussion with the latest ARG poll from Florida that has McCain holding on to a lead — but a lot will still happen in the next 7 days:

  • McCain has a healthy lead, 29% to 22% against Romney. Huckabee gets 17%, Giuliani 16% and Thompson 6%.
  • A very important indication is early-voting. And ARG confirms SUSA’s numbers released last night that had McCain and Giuliani leading the pack. ARG has these two candidates tied at 28%, with Romney 21% and Huckabee at 12%. ARG also says that 21% of its sample has already voted — a very sizable segment of the electorate, which is going to make it that much harder for Romney to catch up.

Update: More confirmation coming in now that Huckabee will not be able to seriously contest Florida. He has seemingly renounced to run ads on broadcast tv, a lot of his advisers are no longer being paid and he will only spend a few days in Florida rather than the entire week. This is very bad timing for Huckabee who is facing money issues at the exact time he could have moved in and tried to capture some of Thompson’s voters.

This also serves as a reminder of Romney’s huge advantage in this race. Since he is self-funding his campaign, he will very rarely face choices like this. And in the run-up to February 5th, he will finance his own campaign and contest McCain in most states, whatever happens to Huckabee and Giuliani.



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  • All good things must come to an end

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  • What remains on the table

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  • Confusion in Connecticut (Updated)

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  • Results thread, part 2: Dems suffer staggering losses in House and legislatives races, limit damage in statewide races

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    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Election Night results thread: Rep. Boucher’s fall first surprise of the night

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Election night cheat sheet

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Final ratings: Democrats brace for historic losses

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • What to watch for down-ballot

Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

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