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Category Archive for ‘KS-Sen’ at Campaign Diaries
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Archive for the 'KS-Sen' Category


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

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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

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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

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Kansas Democrats still looking for a statewide candidate

Ever since Barack Obama tapped Governor Kathleen Sebelius as HHS Secretary, Kansas Democrats have been at a loss: Who can they run in next year’s open gubernatorial and senatorial races? The obvious response would have been Sebelius’s Lieutenant Governor Mark Parkinson: Now Governor, he would be able to run as an incumbent, boosting Democrats’ chance to hold on to a vulnerable seat. But Parkinson has made it clear that he wants to join the private sector in 2011.

Democrats have no other clear candidates to run. While Treasurer Dennis McKinney and Attorney General Stephen Six are Democrats, they were recently appointed to their posts by Sebelius and both will have a hard enough time running for re-election; Sebelius can no longer run for Senate since she is in the Cabinet; Rep. Dennis Moore will not leave his House seat; and former Rep. Jim Slattery has ruled out a run.

The party had one hope left: Parkinson had to choose a new Lieutenant Governor, and Democrats hoped he would elevate an up-and-coming politician that would be able to use that prominent position to build name recognition, introduce himself to voters and look formidable enough to be a credible 2010 candidate. Frankly, that might have been the Democrats’ only shot at keeping the Governor’s mansion - not to mention any hope they still harbor to mount a competitive Senate run.

But Parkinson did no such thing. Yesterday, he picked Troy Findley, Sebelius’s former chief of staff. (The pick was described as a surprise by the local press.) Findley immediately declared that he would not run in 2010, making himself a lame-duck within minutes of his appointment and disappointing increasingly desperate Democrats.

To recap, then: Kansas had a popular Democratic Governor who could have been a formidable Senate candidate but a Democratic White House got her to join the Cabinet instead. Now, the state has a Democratic Governor and a Democratic Lieutenant Governor, both of whom are not barred by term limits and could coast to the Democratic nomination of whichever race they choose. Yet, neither will run for anything next year. Talk about a party shooting itself in the foot!

The culprit here seems to be Sebelius rather than Parkinson. Until he was tapped as Sebelius’s running mate in 2006, Parkinson was a partisan Republican: Not only did he serve as a GOP state legislator from 1991 to 1997, he was also the Chairman of the Kansas Republican Party from 1999 to 2003. While he calls himself a Democrat ever since he became candidate for Lieutenant Governor, he is presumably not interested in helping rebuild the state’s Democratic Party. If Sebelius had been interested in that herself, it might have been a wise choice to elevate as Lieutenant Governor a politician from her own party.


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In welcoming Sebelius to Cabinet, Dems wave goodbye to Kansas Senate seat

Barack Obama has offered the position of HHS Secretary to Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, who has reportedly accepted the position. This was expected: Ten days ago, The New York Times had already reported that the Administration was all but certain to tap Sebelius.

(That the appointment is now being confirmed is obviously a major story that deserves to be addressed today, but I did I write an entire post about what the pick would mean when the Times story came out so I used parts of that entry here.)

Sebelius picks makes Senate seat safe GOP hold, perhaps boosts Tiahrt

Sebelius was the only Democrat with any hope of picking-up Kansas’s Senate seat, left open by Sam Brownback’s retirement (a recent poll had Sebelius beating Rep. Moran and Rep. Tiahrt by double-digits). her move to the HHS Department all but guarantees that the seat remain in the GOP’s hands - and that  most certainly offers indescribable relief to the NRSC.

The primary showdown between Reps. Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt is now the de facto general election - and that could have major consequences on the primary’s dynamics. While they share a similar ideological profile, Tiahrt has the reputation of a movement conservative while Moran can be perceived as somewhat more mainstream. If Sebelius had been waiting in the general election, Moran could have benefited from looking more electable; but the Governor’s departure means that electability will not be a factor in the Moran-Tiahrt battle, allowing primary voters to choose whoever they feel closer to. That could prove a major boost for Tiahrt.

Finally: Many Democrats will surely be puzzled that Obama is willing to give up on his party’s shot at the seat; if anything, the past few weeks showed Obama the importance of enjoying a filibuster-proof majority. It is very possible that Sebelius had already decided not to run for Senate, and had informed Obama and the DSCC of her decision, allowing the President to pick her without having to worry about midterm repercussions.

A new Governor

Sebelius’s move to Washington also means that Kansas will have a new Governor: Mark Parkinson, a Democrat who ran as Sebelius’s running mate in 2006. But Parkinson was in the GOP until the spring of 2006, and he held many elected offices as a Republican from the early 90s onwards; he was also the chairman of the state Republican Party! So while Kansas will technically remain in Democratic hands, state governance could move to the right.

This might have consequences in the 2010 gubernatorial race. Sebelius is term-limited out of office in 2010 anyway, so her departure to Washington does not deprive Democrats of her candidacy. Yet, Parkinson’s elevation means that the state now has an incumbent who is allowed to run for re-election, and that could help Democrats keep the governorship. Fortunately for the GOP, it looks like the race will still be an open: Parkinson declared in early January that he would not run for any office next year. Might he change his mind now that he will get used to serving as Governor and would be able to run as the incumbent? And could he win the Democratic primary given that he was the Kansas GOP’s chairman just a few years ago?

A centrist liberals can stand

Sebelius’s nomination would increase the ranks of Cabinet centrists, but it would also come as a relief to progressives, who had come to expect the worse. For starters, Sebelius is a Democrat (which is significant, given some of the Administration’s other appointments…), and she is far less conservative a pick than Phil Bredesen, the health care coverage-cutting Tennessee Governor with deep ties to the insurance industry who looked looked like one of the front-runners for the position.

Sebelius’s ability to awake little passion (for or against her) has always puzzled me, but that is probably what Obama is looking in an HHS Secretary: A wonky, reassuring-looking politician who will ignite as little partisan fire as possible from either side. Indeed, Sebelius has little partisan edge - something that generally frustrates liberals - but she has managed not to develop the reputation of a conservative Democrat. This remarkable equilibrium mirrors Obama’s own ideological positioning, especially when it comes to health care (as we saw in the primary as well as the general election): A centrist, but a non-militant one.

Health care will obviously be one of the biggest issues of Obama’s presidencies, which means that Sebelius could emerge as one of the Administration’s most important players. This could prove perilous, but it is also sure to immensely rewarding - both professionally and personally. (Getting credit for finally realizing some version of health care reform could position Sebelius for bigger things in the years ahead.) And as we learned this week that Obama plans to start pushing for health care reform this year, Sebelius will have to get to work immediately.

Update: The Kansas City Star asks a very good question:

Who will [Parkinson] pick as his lieutenant governor now that he’ll be vacating that position? Why is that significant? Because it’s the Democrats’ last chance to come up with a candidate for governor or the U.S. Senate in 2010.


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Sebelius closing in on HHS

If we are to trust The New York Times’s reporting, Senate Republicans are about to get their biggest break in years as Barack Obama has settled on Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius as the Health and Human Services Secretary. The position was left vacant by Tom Daschle’s withdrawal.

The Times suggests that the appointment is only held up because the Administration wants to conduct as thorough as possible a vetting process to avoid yet another Cabinet controversy. There are no other candidates to mention, writes Baker. So it looks like only a skeleton in Sebelius’s closet could derail her nomination.

Senate, Governor: Major consequences in 2010

Should Obama follow through, this appointment would have major consequences for the midterms. Senator Sam Brownback is retiring in 2010, and Sebelius is the only Democrat with any hope of picking-up the seat. (A recent poll had her beating Rep. Moran and Rep. Tiahrt by double-digits.) Yet, her move to the HHS Department would prevent her from running for Senate, and it would all but guarantee that the seat remain in the GOP’s hands.

Needless to say, that would provide indescribable relief to Republicans who are so anxious about the five open seats they already have to defend next year!

On the other hand, Sebelius’s departure could help Democrats keep the Governor’s mansion. Kansas’s governorship is one of the most endangered in the nation since Sebelius is term-limited out of office. Her resignation would elevate Lieutenant Governor Mark Parkinson, a Democrat who was until recently a Republican. Parkinson could then be in a stronger position than the Democratic nominee was expected to be since he could run in 2010 as an incumbent. [Correction: I initially wrote that Parkinson was already expected to run for the open seat in 2010. However, Parkinson declared in early January that he would not run for any office next year. Might he change his mind if he gets to serve as Governor for a year? And could he win the Democratic primary given that he was the Kansas GOP's chairman just a few years ago?]

If these plans to nominate Sebelius nomination fall through, other potential picks are Bredesen, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro. Democrats frustrated that Sebelius’s appointment will cost them the Kansas Senate seat can at least tell themselves that it means that they will not have to defend Wyden’s seat in a risky springtime special election; on the other hand, a Granholm pick would have help Democrats down-the-ballot since the Democratic Lieutenant Governor would be elevated and could run as an incumbent in 2010.

A centrist liberals can stand

Finally, Sebelius’s nomination would increase the ranks of Cabinet centrists, but it would also come as a relief to progressives, who had come to expect the worse. For starters, Sebelius is a Democrat (which is significant, given some of the Administration’s other appointments…), and she is far less conservative a pick than Phil Bredesen, the health care coverage-cutting Tennessee Governor with deep ties to the insurance industry. For a while, Bredesen looked like one of the front-runners for the position, which led liberal activists and bloggers mobilizing against him.

If Sebelius is confirmed as Obama’s choice, the President will have made a pick who has little partisan edge, but one that has managed not to develop the reputation of a conservative Democrat and thus remain somewhat acceptable to the liberal wing. This remarkable equilibrium mirrors Obama’s own ideological positioning: A centrist, but a non-militant one.

Obama’s positioned himself to the center on health care in the primary as well as the general election, and this is one reform Obama is clearly committed to selling as a “post-partisan,” “pragmatist” compromise - whatever those terms mean. Sebelius’s ability to awake little passion (for or against her) has always puzzled me, but that is probably what Obama is looking in an HHS Secretary: A wonky, reassuring-looking politician who can navigate a centrist version of health care reform through Congress while igniting as little partisan fire as possible from either side.


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Poll watch: Sebelius could win Kansas, GOP sees hope in Virginia

The fate of Kansas’s Senate race is in the hands of Kathleen Sebelius. If the term-limited Governor passes on the Senate race, Democrats have no hope of winning their first Kansas Senate race since 1936. If she does run, well, Research 2000 new poll suggests the GOP’s winning streak could be broken:

  • Sebelius leads Rep. Jerry Moran 48% to 36%; against Rep. Todd Tiahrt, she leads 47% to 37%.
  • Sebelius enjoys a strong approval rating, 56% to 37%. Both Republicans enjoy a positive approval rating, though a third of state voters have no opinion of them.
  • The poll’s last finding is that Tiahrt and Moran are deadlocked in the GOP primary, with the former leading 24% to 19% with a massive 57% of respondents undecideds.

This survey is obviously good news for Democrats, as it suggests that Sebelius’s transition from a state-level position to a federal race would not be fatal to her chances as is sometimes is in such red states. For Sebelius to run would be a huge threats to the GOP’s already deflated ranks, and the DSCC is sure to spend a lot of time recruiting her over the next few months. (Note that Sebelius has been mentioned as a potential HHS Secretary ever since Tom Dashle had to withdrew his nomination.)

On the other hand, this poll should also reassure Republicans. Sebelius is a popular Governor serving in her second term while her opponents only represent parts of the state and have much lower name recognition. Yet, Sebelius fails to break 50%, which confirms that a number of Kansas voters who are open to supporting her at the state level will be harder to persuade in a Senate race. The Republican nominee should thus be able to make this race competitive by making it a partisan battle and invoking national themes.

The poll’s last lesson is that there is no favorite in the Republican primary - and that is a recipe for a bruising primary that leave the eventual nominee damaged and could help Sebelius build a lead. (I analyzed the GOP’s Kansas primary two weeks ago.)

Republicans got far better news from Rasmussen’s second poll of Virginia’s gubernatorial election, which will be held this November. The presumptive Republican nominee, Robert McDonnell, leads all three of his potential Democratic rivals:

  • He leads 39% to 30% against Creigh Deeds (two months ago, the two were tied at 39%); 42% to 35% against former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe (two months ago, he led by 5%); and 39% to 36% against Brian Moran (two months ago, Moran was ahead by 4%).

PPP’s blog criticizes the timing of this poll, pointing out that McDonnell resigned from his position as Attorney General on Tuesday to concentrate himself to the race and thus gained extensive media coverage just before the poll went in the field on Wednesday. That might indeed have helped McDonnell, but there is no question that he looks to be starting in a dominant position as the fall poll’s numbers were also relatively favorable to McDonnell.

If anything, this is the second time that McAuliffe (who is generally considered the favorite to win the Democratic nomination) is trailing McDonnell outside of the margin of error - on the other hand, this is the second poll in which Brian Moran is the strongest potential Democrat. A PPP survey released a few days ago confirms that McAuliffe might not be as strong a candidate as Democrats would need, though his tremendous fundraising abilities could be enough to carry him to a June victory:

  • PPP’s poll only tested Democratic voters and found McAuliffe the most unpopular of the three Democrats running for Governor. However, the poll’s primary match-up finds that this is anyone race, with McAuliffe and Moran getting 18% and Deeds 11%.

Just like in Kansas, Virginia Democrats should beware of a bruising primary war that would leave their nominee with high unfavorable ratings. On the other hand, the Virginia primary is scheduled for June, and that could leave enough time for Democrats to turn around and prepare themselves for the general election.


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Rep. Tiahrt jumps in Kansas Senate race, sets up competitive GOP primary

He had been expected to do so for the past few months, and he jumped in yesterday: Republican Rep. Todd Tiahrt announced his candidacy for Kansas’s Senate race. (Sam Brownback is retiring, leaving his seat open for the taking.)

Tiahrt’s statewide candidacy gives us our fifth open seat in the House - and perhaps the most intriguing to date. Based around Wichita, KS-04 is staunchly conservative; George W. Bush won with 64% of the vote in 2004 and where McCain crushed Obama 58% to 40% this past fall. Accordingly, the Republican nominee will be heavily favored to hold on to this seat, and the GOP is likely to have plenty of candidates looking to get a promotion to Washington. Potential contenders include White House Political Affairs Director Matt Schlapp, State Sen. Susan Wagle, State Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt.

That said, the district has been known to elect Democrats - until the 1994 red tsunami, in fact, when Tiahrt  unexpectedly defeated Rep. Glickman. Furthermore, Democrats have somewhat of a bench in KS-04. Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer and state Sen. Raj Goyl (who comfortably upset a Republican incumbent in 2006 in a red-leaning area) would be very credible candidates if the DCCC can recruit them.

Naturally, Tiahrt’s decision is most important in regards to the Senate race.

Awaiting him in the Republican primary is fellow congressmen Jerry Moran, who was first elected to the House in 1996 and who announced his candidacy in late 2008. While Moran is considered the slight favorite, their contest is likely to be stay very heated all the way until Kansas’s August primary.

The problem for the GOP is that Kansas is one state in which a competitive primary could really hurt their chances.

Kansas Republicans have long been engaged in an ideological civil war, with conservative and centrist less conservative factions warring over the control of the party. A number of politicians from the moderate faction have switched parties over the years, and this has helped the Democratic Party stay alive in a state in which it might have had a very difficult time otherwise.

While Moran and Tiahrt are both reliable conservative with little policy disagreements to differentiate them, their opposition could fit in that narrative of a warring state party. Moran bridges the two factions, satisfying conservatives and moderates alike since the time he was one of the leaders of the state GOP (he served as the state Senate’s Majority Leader in the early 1990s). That might be good enough for Republicans if it were not for the fact that Tiahrt is known as a movement conservative, closer to the profile of base activists, with a social conservative profile and ties to pro-life groups.

First, this means that Tiahrt’s camp is likely to try to make this primary into an ideological battle, and that is a recipe for a bruising contest. Second, this could lead to general election troubles for the eventual nominee: If Tiahrt reignites the party’s civil war and then goes on to win the primary, moderate Republican voters could stay away from the polls or even back the Demoratic nominee.

All of this will only matter, of course, if Democrats can field a credible candidate. The big - the huge - question mark remains whether Governor Kathleen Sebelius will jump in the race. If she does, Kansas will host one of the most important Senate battles of the cycle - and how bruising the GOP primary becomes will certailny matter. If she does not, it remains difficult to see what other Democrat could mount a strong run - and the GOP primary could then very well look like a general election.


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2010: Frist’s exit from Gov race leads to open TN-03; new rumors surround Sebelius

Tennessee’s governorship is one of the GOP’s top pick-up opportunities in 2010, as the Democratic Governor cannot run for re-election due to term limit laws. The Republican nomination was Bill Frist’s for the taking; the former Senator has enough of a stature to clear the primary field, and everyone was waiting for him to announce his intentions.

Yesterday, Frist issued a statement announcing he will not run. “After significant reflection and conversation with loved ones, I have decided to remain a private citizen for the foreseeable future,” he wrote. (In the previous cycle, Frist had also passed on a presidential run many people expected him to launch.)

The GOP certainly has a strong bench in a state that has dramatically swung red over the past decade - so much so that it will be very difficult for Democrats to retain the governorship. That makes the Republican nomination that much more attractive, and Frist’s move leaves it wide open.

Within 24 hours of Frist’s statement, GOP Rep. Zach Wamp came out to announce that he was a candidate. He is expected to face a competitive primary, with Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam as a possible opponent.

Wamp is a powerful player in the House since he has a seat on the coveted Appropriations Committee, so his quick decision leaves little doubt that he is confident he can move in the Governor’s mansion; it also suggests that prolonged life in the minority is not looking attractive to Republican congressmen.

Wamp’s move also means that TN-03 becomes one of the first open seats of the 2010 cycle. Unfortunately for Democrats, it is very difficult to envision them mounting a competitive run. The district is very conservative, and it gave George Bush 61% of the vote in 2004. (The 2008 results aren’t available yet, but we know that McCain crushed Obama in each of the eight counties that make up the district.)

Of course, an open seat always gives the challenging party a glimmer of hope of pulling an AL-02-like upset, so a competitive race cannot be ruled out. But the GOP has little to worry about for now.

Kansas’s open Senate seat is currently ranked eleventh in my Senate rankings, but we already know that this race will not end up in that second-tier range. If Governor Kathleen Sebelius jumps in, the race will move near the top of the rankings; if she passes on the race, Democrats will have little to no hope of picking up the seat.

Sebelius’s decision to withdraw her name from Cabinet considerations boosted the DSCC’s hopes of recruiting her, but her name has now popped up in an entirely different arena: The Topeka Capital Journal reports that Sebelius is being considered as a possible chancellor for the University of Kansas.

Current Chancellor Robert Hemenway announced that he would retire at the end for the current academic year on December 8th, just two days after Sebelius said she was no longer looking for a Cabinet appointment. It goes without saying that Sebelius leaving the governorship to work at KU would also bar a Senate run.

The search committee was just formed last week, so Hemenway’s successor will not be announced any time soon. If Sebelius is actually interested in this position, she will likely put off deciding on a Senate run until later this year.


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The electoral consequences of Obama’s Cabinet picks

Ever since Barack Obama’s election, there has been intense speculation surrounding his Cabinet positions. A lot of it has concerned the electoral consequences of tapping Governors, Senators and House members: Would the seat switch parties, who would take over, and what would it mean for the 2010 landscape?

Now that Obama has filled his Cabinet, it is time to offer is a rundown of elected officials who were nominated, those who were rumored but did not make the cut - and what all of this means to the political landscape.

Those who were tapped

  • Hillary Clinton, New York

The unexpected news that Hillary Clinton was being considered for a Secretary of State position captivated the political class throughout November. The deed was finally consummated, capping a remarkable year for Hillary and Barack. Clinton’s nomination also opened a vacancy in one of the country’s largest and most Democratic state, focused everyone’s attention on Governor David Paterson and subsequently on Caroline Kennedy, added a Senate race to the 2010 line-up and provided the GOP a glimmer of hope of picking-up a seat.

  • Tom Dashle, South Dakota

Some Democrats dreamed of Dashle challenging John Thune to a Senate rematch in 2010 - a scenario that is now foreclosed by Dashle’s appointment as HHS Secretary. However, it was always very unlikely that Dashle would jump in the race, so Obama’s pick changed very little electorally.

  • Rahm Emanuel, IL-05

IL-05 is a Chicago-based district that is heavily Democratic. Such an open seat can only mean one thing: A chaotic intra-party battle between dozens of city-level Democrats who have been waiting for years to move up the ladder, with no possibility that a Republican even dream about winning the seat.

  • Janet Napolitano, Arizona

Janet Napolitano’s appointment to the Homeland Security Department is Obama’s one nomination that has already cost Democrats a seat. Republican Secretary of State Jan Brewer will take over as the state’s Governor. Given that Brewer was already mentioned as a possible contender for an open seat in 2010 (Napolitano would not have been able to run due to term limit laws), it seems a safe bet to say that she will run now that she can do so as an incumbent. This gives Republicans the clear upper hand in what was expected to be one of the most competitive open seats of 2010.

  • Bill Richardson, New Mexico

Richardson’s Cabinet prospects seemed to end with Hillary Clinton’s nomination to Foggy Bottom, but the New Mexico Governor will be reborn as Obama’s Secretary of Commerce. A Democrat, Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish, will take over and will thus have the upper-hand in the 2010 gubernatorial election. Due to term-limits, Richardson was not allowed to run for re-election which means that the seat would have been open. But Denish, who was already considered a likely candidate before Richardon’s nomination, can now run as an incumbent.

  • Ken Salazar, Colorado

Ken Salazar’s nomination to the Interior Department created the fourth Senate vacancy due to Barack Obama’s victory. Democratic Governor Bill Ritter will choose Salazar’s successor, and Democrats have a deep enough bench in Colorado that Ritter has plenty of contenders to choose from. (I summarized the politics of this appointment two days ago.) Salazar’s departure from the Senate gives an opening to Republicans, but two factors minimize its impact. First, Salazar was up for re-election in 2010, so this will not add an additional seat for Democrats to defend. Second, Salazar was not safe to start with.

  • Hilda Solis, CA-32

Rep. Solis’s appointment as Secretary of Labor was unexpected, but the special election that will be triggered after Solis’s confirmation won’t give the DCCC many headaches: CA-32 is a very Democratic district that gave John Kerry 62% of the vote in 2004.

  • Tom Vilsack, Iowa

Vilsack’s unexpected nomination as Secretary of Agriculture has one immediate electoral consequence: we are now sure that Vilsack will not run for Senate in 2010. Vilsack might have been the only Democrat strong enough to credibly challenge Senator Chuck Grassley. Vilsack’s nomination might also make it more likely that Grassley run for re-election since he no longer has to worry about spending two grueling years on the campaign trail. All of this said, a Vilsack candidacy was only a possibility, and many considered it unlikely.

Those who were not:

  • Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, Maine

Some Democrats were pushing the idea of tapping one of Maine’s two moderate Senators as one of the Republican Cabinet members Obama had promised in order to allow Maine’s Democratic Governor to appoint their (Democratic) successor.

  • John Corzine, New Jersey

After Larry Summer’s name faded in mid-November, John Corzine was mentioned as a possible Secretary of the Treasury. This would have elevated State Senate President Richard Codey as acting Governor, a position he already occupied after Jim McGreevey’s resignation in 2004. It would also have meant a far more entertaining gubernatorial race in 2009.

  • Arthur Davis, AL-07

Rep. Davis is said to have statewide ambitions - perhaps as early as 2010 - so this seat could soon be open, but Democrats have little to worry about: This is a heavily Democratic and African-American district that gave Kerry 64% of the vote in 2004.

  • Chet Edwards, TX-17

First mentioned as a vice-presidential contender over the summer, Edwards saw his name back in the mix during Obama’s transition efforts. Edwards represents a heavily Republican district, and it would have been very difficult to envision Democrats holding on to his seat in a special election had Edwards joined Obama’s Cabinet.

  • Jennifer Granholm, Michigan

Michigan’s Governor was mentioned as a top contender for a number of positions, including Secretary of Energy and Secretary of Labor. Her appointment would have elevated Democrat John Cherry in the Governor’s position and given the Democratic Party the early upper-hand in the 2010 gubernatorial election. As it stands now, Granholm is term-limited and the race will be one of the country’s most competitive open seats.

  • Stephanie Herseth, South Dakota

Rep. Stephanie Herseth was mentioned as one of the finalists for the Secretary of Agriculture positions, and her appointment would have been a nightmare for House Democrats. South Dakota remains a Republican enough state that the GOP would have had a great shot at reclaiming the seat in a spring special election. This could have consequences down the line for Tim Johnson’s Senate succession.

  • John Kerry, Massachusetts

The former presidential candidate was rumored to be the most likely to be picked as Secretary of State and Massachusetts Democrats were already preparing for a 2009 special election (there is no gubernatorial appointment in the state). But Hillary Clinton’s unexpected emergence thwarted Kerry’s hopes - and those of the hundreds of Massachusetts Democrats who have been waiting for decades for Senate and/or House seats to open up.

  • Colin Peterson, MN-07

Rumored to have been on the short list for Secretary of Agriculture alongside Rep. Herseth, Peterson’s appointment would have triggered a difficult special election for Democrats. Now Chairman of the House’s Agriculture Committee, Peterson is entrenched and senior enough that he can keep his seat blue, but MN-07 is a Republican-leaning district that gave George Bush big winning margins and that narrowly went for John McCain this year.

  • Jack Reed, Rhode Island

Just like Chet Edwards, Jack Reed made a strong apparition in the summer’s veepstakes, and his name was mentioned as a possible Secretary of State. One reason his prospects might have been thwarted is that Rhode Island’s Governor is a Republican, so a Reed appointment would have resulted in an additional GOP Senator.

  • John Salazar, CO-03

Salazar’s name was often mentioned as Secretary of Interior but his brother - Senator Ken Salazar - ended up getting the nod. This is a relief for House Democrats, as CO-03 is a Republican-leaning district that would have been tough to defend in a special election. (That said, we might still have a vacancy in CO-03 since John is on the list of Democrats who could be appointed to Ken’s Senate seat.)

  • Kathleen Sebelius, Kansas

The Kansas Governor seemed certain to land in Obama’s Cabinet. She had been on his vice-presidential short list and was considered a top contender for a number of positions, including Secretary of Labor. Her statement withdrawing her name from Cabinet considerations was thus one of the biggest surprises of this transition period. (It is of course unclear whether Sebelius issued the statement because she genuinely wanted to help Kansas through the economic crisis or because she had already been told she was unlikely to get an appointment.)

In any case, her withdrawal preserves the governorship in Democratic hands (the next-in-line is a Republican); it could have a huge impact on the upcoming open Senate race. Democrats have not won a Senate race in this state since 1936, and Sebelius is probably the only Democrat who stands a chance. A Cabinet appointment would have barred her from running and would have guaranteed that the Senate race remain in Republican hands.


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Jim Bunning, Dennis Moore say they will run for re-election

The first part of an election cycle is always devoted to the retirement watch - and some congressmen rumored to be eying an exit are closely monitored for any statement or fundraising report that might hint at their intentions.

Politicians often end up contradicting themselves, pledging to run for another term before abruptly pulling the plug months later. (Think of New Mexico’s Pete Domenici in 2007.) This is not certainly not surprising: As long as a congressman has not decided for sure to retire, he cannot admit to be even thinking about it or it will be impossible for him to prepare a re-election campaign, hire staff and find donors.

This is something to keep in mind as potential retirees start informing us that they will be candidates in 2010.

Today, Kentucky’s Republican Senator Jim Bunning said that he would run for re-election and that he would soon focus on raising money, adding that he intended to be “a solid conservative voice in the U.S. Senate.”

Bunning’s failure to raise much money for now (he has less than $200,000 of cash on hand), combined with his age (he will be 79 by the next Election Day) had sparked speculation that he would retire - speculation that Bunning has repeatedly tried to quiet down.

Bunning might actually be one of those rare incumbents whose retirement might help his party. A former baseball star, Bunning has never fully grown into his politician costume and he has won his first two terms in extremely tough races. He only won his first election by 0.5% in 1998 and prevailed by 1.4% in 2004, in a race that no one was paying attention to before the closing weeks of the campaign. But Bunning’s numbers collapsed in the closing stretch due to a number of bizarre incidents and senior moments.

There is no reason for Bunning not to repeat such faux pas this year, and his lack of stature makes him an appealing target - even a state that has been trending Republican. A number of Democrats are likely to jump in the race whether or not Bunning runs for re-election (in fact, some declined to run against McConnell in 2008 hoping to have a clearer shot at Bunning).

In short: We will have to wait a few more months to know whether Bunning is actually running for re-election, but this potential retirement would be unlikely to be a huge boost to Democrats anyway.

Meanwhile, in Kansas’s third district, Democratic Rep. Dennis Moore said yesterday that he would run for re-election in 2010. This comes only a week after Moore had indicated he was thinking about retiring, so it is certainly a significant story - and perhaps too quick a turnaround to trust entirely.

If confirmed in the months ahead, Moore’s decision would be a huge relief for Democrats. This is a very Republican district - one Bush won twice by double-digits - and Moore has been a longtime target of the GOP. An open seat in KS-03 would undoubtedly be one of the most promising news of the past two cycles for Republicans - and it would be an extremely tough hold for Democrats, particularly in a midterm with a Democratic President.

Moore’s decision also has repercussions for the state’s open Senate seat. Democrats face a very tough road to making that race competitive, and only a few candidates - among them Moore and Governor Sebelius, who has become available for the contest now that she withdrew her name from consideration in the Obama Cabinet. Moore’s decision to stick to the House puts additional pressure on Sebelius - and this is something we (and the DSCC) will surely talk about a lot over the next year.


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Obama’s transition and the 2010 landscape

That the party that holds the White House traditionally suffers losses in midterm elections is generally attributed to voters’ desire to send a message to the incumbent Administration and their alleged preference for divided government. But Obama’s transition points to another factor in midterm losses: A new president draws a number of his party’s star figures to Washington, making it more difficult for the DSCC and DCCC to recruit down-the-line and opening up seats to potentially dangerous special elections.

This is most obvious in the Illinois and Delaware elections that will be held in 2010. Both are Democratic states, but Republicans have an outside shot in getting either of them competitive, particularly if the governors appoint place-holders who do not run for re-election in two years and if the GOP get very lucky recruitment-wise (for instance if Delaware Rep. Castle decides to run for Senate, an unlikely but plausible scenario).

Other special elections could take place in Massachusetts or New York if either John Kerry or Hillary Clinton (who has become the buzz of the day) are nominated as Secretary of State. I already discussed the situation in Massachusetts earlier this week. In New York, Gov. Paterson would get to appoint Clinton’s successor, and there is a remarkably deep bench in the Empire State, starting with Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, a long list of ambitious House representatives (for instance Nita Lowey and Anthony Weiner) or former Spitzer foe Tom Suozzi.

In both states, it is difficult to see which Republican could force Democrats to play defense - but all of these special elections will only increase the number of Senate seats Democrats have to defend.

The DSCC could be further frustrated if Obama taps Govs. Janet Napolitano and Kathleen Sebelius. Both are term-limited and cannot run again in 2010, and both are mentioned as strong contenders for Senate seats that year. In Arizona, a recent Research 2000 poll showed Napolitano defeated John McCain and its difficult to see many other Democrats with the potential to defeat the former presidential candidate. In Kansas, Senator Sam Brownback has already announced that he will retire, but this is a conservative a state in which Democrats have a small bench. It is difficult to see anyone but Sebelius having a shot at the seat.

The most direct consequence on Senate numbers, however, would come if Obama appoints Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed, another name who is mentioned as a possible Cabinet member. The Rhode Island Governor is a Republican, which would lead the GOP to gain a seat in the unlikeliest of states. Obama could compensate that by tapping Maine’s Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, who is rumored to be in contention for Commerce Secretary and who would be replaced by a Democratic Governor.

At the House level, Obama’s decision to tap Rahm Emanuel has also provoked a lot of commotion in IL-05, but there is no possibility whatsoever that the seat becomes competitive. The Democratic primary will essentially be the general election, which is why there are more than a dozen credible candidates who are now jostling for support. But the situation would be very different in Texas if Chet Edwards (who, you will remember, made a last-minute appearance in the veepstakes) joins the Cabinet. Edwards represents a heavily Republican seat, and the GOP would be favored to reclaim that seat.

At the gubernatorial level, a number of appointments could result in Republican gains. Of the four Democratic governors whose name is most often mentioned, only Kathleen Sebelius has a Democratic lieutenant. Cabinet taps for Pennsylvania’s Ed Rendell, Montana’s Brian Schweizer and Arizona’s Janet Napolitano would all lead to Republican lieutenant governors or secretary of states taking over the governor’s mansion - and positioning themselves to keep the job in 2010.

In Arizona, for instance, secretary of State Jan Brewer (there is no LG in this state) is already mentioned as a possible contender in 2010’s open gubernatorial race; a Napolitano resignation would allow her to run as the incumbent. Tapping New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, however, could have the opposite effect. Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish, a Democrat, is virtually certain to run for Richardson’s job in 2010 (the incumbent is term-limited), and she would get a head start in keeping the seat in Democratic hands if Richardson moved to Washington.


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Poll watch: Dems still far from 60, and is NV in the same tier as CO and VA?

The presidential race remained remarkably stable. If the tracking polls showed McCain gaining slightly yesterday, they have Obama regaining some breathing room today; he is at 50% or above in 6 of the 9 national polls. McCain is once again stuck in the low 40s, with a margin ranging from 41% to 46%. Sure, the New York Times and Fox News national polls came out with differing results, but at least there is no mystery behind the discrepancy: the partisan breakdown has narrowed in the Fox poll.

McCain got one of his most promising polling results in days today as Mason Dixon found him trailing by only 4% in Pennsylvania - the tightest the state has been since a mid-September poll. We should not dismiss this poll, even though surveys taken over the same period show a larger advantage for Obama. Mason Dixon has been consistently releasing results that are better than average for McCain. The Republican nominee led in Virginia when other surveys found him trailing, and trailed only narrowly when other surveys found a large gap; the same was true in Florida and now Pennsylvania. The consistency of these narrower results suggests that it is due to Mason Dixon’s methodology and turnout models, which means that we should not throw these out as outliers: There is a turnout model out there employed by a respected pollster like Mason Dixon that yields results that are better for Republicans, and we won’t know until Tuesday whose assumptions were flawed.

All of this said, there is no discussion to be had that Obama retains an extremely strong position in the electoral college. For one, he remains ahead in the Big Three sates: 3 polls of Pennsylvania show him in the lead (though Mason Dixon has a 4% race), and he is also ahead in Colorado and Virginia. While two polls of Virginia show him with narrower leads than we have seen of late, both surveys were taken over the same period as the CNN and SUSA polls that had him leading by 9% - so these new polls are not picking any new tightening.

To make matters worse for McCain, we might now be getting a third competitive red state where an Obama pick-up appears increasingly likely: Nevada. After posting two double-digit leads earlier this week, Obama leads outside of the margin of error in two new surveys (Suffolk and CNN/Time). This is a very important development: Even if McCain were to save Virginia and Colorado, Obama would become president by winning Nevada alone; if McCain can somehow snatch Pennsylvania, an (not at all improbable) Obama sweep of Virginia, Colorado and Nevada would offset the loss of the Keystone State.

As if this was not enough, Ohio and North Carolina are slowly moving in Obama’s column as the Democrat is accumulating good results in both. Today, he leads in all five polls from these two states, and four of them have him ahead outside of the MoE. Given that a huge number of North Carolina voters have already voted, it is starting to get late for McCain to turn the tide. And while Obama is showing no sign of trembling in blue states (he has huge leads in Wisconsin and Minnesota), McCain is now locked in highly competitive races in a number of staunchly red states - including his home state of Arizona, South Dakota and Montana.

  • Obama leads 52% to 41% in a New York Times/CBS News poll, a very small tightening from Obama’s 13% lead last week. 51% say Obama is ready to be president, and McCain’s favorability has collapsed to 41% (!). So has voters’ estimate of whether Palin is able to deal the job (only 35% say so). Obama leads among men and women, and has a 17% advantage among independents.
  • Obama leads 47% to 44% in a Fox News national poll conducted over the past two days. Obama led by 9% last week, so the race has substantially tightened. The partisan ID has tightened from a 6% gap to a 2% gap (though this does not seem to be an arbitrary imposition like Zogby’s).
  • Tracking polls: Obama gains 2% in Zogby (50% to 43%) and in Rasmussen (51% to 46%). He gains 1% in IBD/TIPP (48% to 44%). The race is stable in Washington Post/ABC (52% to 44%), Gallup (51% to 44%, though Obama gains 2% in the LVT model, 50% to 45%). Obama loses 1% in Hotline (48% to 42%) and in Research 2000 (50% to 45%). Obama’s leads are thus: 4%, 5%, 5%, 6%, 7%, 7%, 8%.
  • Pennsylvania: Obama leads 47% to 43% in a Mason Dixon poll conducted Sunday and Monday. Obama leads 54% to 41% in Morning Call’s tracking, the highest percentage Obama has ever received in this poll. Obama leads 55% to 43% in a CNN/Time poll conducted Thursday through Tuesday (Obama leads by 15% among registered voters!).
  • Colorado: Obama leads 51% to 45% in a Marist poll (52% to 43% among registered voters) conducted Sunday and Monday; his lead comes entirely among the 44% of registered voters who say they have already voted. Obama leads by 23% among independents and has strongest party loyalty (leading me to question why he is only ahead by 6%). Obama leads 48% to 44% in a National Journal poll of registered voters with a small sample and a large MoE conducted Thursday through Monday; Obama leads by 22% among independents.
  • Virginia: Obama leads 51% to 47% in a Marist poll (by 6% among registered voters) conducted Sunday and Monday; McCain takes a 12% lead among independents. Obama leads 48% to 44% in a National Journal poll of registered voters with a small sample and a large MoE conducted Thursday through Monday. Both polls were taken over the same period as SUSA, Rasmussen and CNN poll showing larger Obama leads.
  • Nevada: Obama leads 50% to 45% in a RGJ/Research 2000 poll (he led by 7% earlier in October); McCain leads by 3% in crucial Washoe County, though the RGJ points out that (unreleased) private polls for both parties have Obama leading that county. Obama leads 52% to 45% in a CNN/Time poll conducted Thursday through Tuesday, an improvement over his 5% lead last week (he leads by 11% among registered voters!).
  • Ohio: Obama leads 48% to 41% in a National Journal poll of registered voters with a small sample and a large MoE conducted Thursday through Monday; Obama’s lead is outside of the MoE. Obama leads 51% to 47% in a CNN/Time poll conducted Thursday through Tuesday (Obama leads by 10% among registered voters!).
  • Florida: Obama leads 45% to 44% in a National Journal poll of registered voters with a small sample and a large MoE conducted Thursday through Monday.
  • North Carolina: Obama leads 50% to 48% in a Rasmussen poll taken yesterday (McCain led by 2% on Sunday). Obama leads 47% to 43% in a National Journal poll of registered voters with a small sample and a large MoE conducted Thursday through Monday. Obama leads 52% to 46% in a CNN/Time poll conducted Thursday through Tuesday (Obama led by 4% last week, he is ahead by 3% among registered voters).
  • Indiana: McCain leads 49% to 46% in a Rasmussen poll taken yesterday (he led by 7% three weeks ago). Obama leads 46% to 45% in a Selzer & Co poll conducted Sunday through Tuesday; he is ahead 2:1 among early voters and gets “only” 82% of African-Americans (remember Tuesday’s polling memo released by the McCain campaign?). The candidates are tied at 47% in a Research 2000 poll taken from Friday through Tuesday.
  • Wisconsin: Obama takes a giant 55% to 39% lead in a SUSA poll taken Tuesday and Wednesday, up from 8%. Obama leads by 28% among early voters.
  • Iowa: Obama leads 55% to 40% in a SUSA poll taken Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • South Dakota: McCain only leads 45% to 40% in an internal poll for Democratic Senator Johnson’s campaign.
  • Montana: McCain leads 50% to 46% in a Rasmussen poll. He led by four weeks ago.
  • Safe(r) states: McCain leads 61% to 36% in a SUSA poll of Alabama. McCain leads 58% to 37% in a SUSA poll of Kansas. Obama leads 56% to 39% in a SUSA poll of Massachusetts. Obama leads 55% to 33% in a Field poll of California. Obama leads 54% to 38% in a Research 2000 poll of New Jersey. McCain leads 53% to 42% in a NBC News poll and 52% to 44% in a SUSA poll of South Carolina (but only by 6% among registered voters). McCain leads 55% to 43% in a Rasmussen poll of Kentucky.

Meanwhile, in down the ballot polls:

  • Louisiana: Two polls have differing results. An internal poll for the Kennedy campaign has Mary Landrieu up 45% to 44%, while a Loyola University poll has Landrieu ahead 49% to 34%; the latter poll does not seem very reliable, however, as it only shows McCain leading by 3% and implying an oversampling of Democrats.
  • Mitch McConnell leads 51% to 44% in a Rasmussen poll of Kentucky’s Senate race. (McConnell led by the same margin last month.) A Lunsford internal has McConnell leading 47% to 45%, however.
  • Norm Coleman leads 42% to 36% in a Mason Dixon poll of Minnesota. Barkley is now at 12%, and he is hurting Franken: He draws 17% of Democrats and only 4% of Republicans - a hugely consequential disparity.
  • Safer seats: Tom Udall leads 56% to 41% in a Rasmussen poll of New Mexico. GOP Senator Pat Roberts leads 60% to 33% in a new SUSA poll of Kansas. Democratic Senator Lautenberg leads 56% to 39% in a Research 2000 poll of New Jersey. Sen. Cornyn leads 45% to 36% in a University of Texas poll, with 5% going to Libertarian candidate Adams-Schick. GOP candidate Jim Risch leads 45% to 33% in a Harstad poll of Idaho.
  • In MO-06, perhaps the most disappointing House race for Democrats, GOP Rep. Graves leads 54% to 36% in a SUSA poll. He led by 11% last month.
  • In KY-02, GOP candidate Brett Guthrie leads 53% to 43% in a new SUSA poll. Guthrie led by 9% last month but trailed over the summer.
  • In OR-05, Democratic candidate Kurt Schrader leads 55% to 33% in a SUSA poll.
  • In NY-26, Republican candidate Chris Lee has a large 48% to 34% lead against Alice Kryzan in a SUSA poll. He led by 11% last month.
  • In ID-01, Democratic challenger leads 48% to 41% in a Harstad poll, though the poll has a large MoE of 6%.
  • In PA-12, Rep. Murtha only leads 46% to 44% in a GOP poll conducted by Dane & Associates.
  • In Massachusetts’s question 1 to repeal the state income tax, the “no” is far ahead, 64% to 29% in a SUSA poll.

Democrats have their share of very good news in these wave of surveys - especially the two North Carolina polls showing a Hagan lead and the NV-02 survey confirming that Rep. Heller is in real danger - Republicans got uncommly positive numbers over the past 24 hours. In the Senate, Republicans appear to be solidifying their hold on the four Senate seats that are not yet leaning Democratic - KY, MN, MS and also GA because a runoff should help Chambliss. McConnell has not slipped further after his race fell into a competitive race in early October, and Coleman has improved his situation over the past three weeks.

Minnesota should be particularly worrisome to Democrats because Franken’s slippage is due to the fact that Barkley is starting to draw disproportionately from Franken’s base. If that is confirmed by other polls, it is hard to see Franken pull this off. This is a reminder that, however much progress Democrats have made over the past few weeks, the path to 60 still requires picking-up two out of these 4 seats - and that remains a tall order.

The latest House polls should also be a reminder that Democrats will certainly not win everything on Tuesday, and that a fair number of Republicans appear to be making progress in this hostile environment. The latest poll of MO-06 has to be crushing to Democrats as former Kansas City Mayor Barnes was once one of their top recruits. And while the DCCC is still investing in NY-26, the polls have not been very promising ever since Kryzan won the Democratic nomination.


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Senate rating changes: Dems lead in 6 GOP-held seats, hope to sweep 11

As the GOP’s nightmare scenario continues to unfold, Democrats are making progress where it matters most, and four of the eleven seats Democrats have hope of picking-up today shift towards them: Virginia enters the safe take-over category, Colorado finally migrates up to the likely Democratic column (a move Democrats were hoping would happen a year ago), Oregon moves out of the toss-up column and Mississippi enters it. Oregon’s move means that six GOP-held seats are now considered to be at least leaning Democratic - though Gordon Smith and Elizabeth Dole are still highly competitive.

Tight Senate seats tend to break overwhelmingly in one direction on Election Day: Witness 2006, where Democrats nearly swept the toss-up races and 2002-2004, when Republicans did the same. And this is what puts Republicans in a precarious position: In addition to these now six Dem-leaning seats, three are rated toss-ups (Alaska, Minnesota and Mississippi) and two (Kentucky and Georgia) are barely hanging on as lean Republican.

If the political winds continues to push Democratic candidates in the next 10 days, Democrats could very well pull a near-sweep of these five races, scoring nine to eleven pick-ups. Even if the GOP manages to stop the bleeding, it is difficult to see how they can avoid losing at least five seats.

However, two outside factors could save Republicans from a Democratic sweep and allow them to salvage Alaska and Georgia’s race even if November 4th turns out to be a blue tsunami. First, of course, is the Ted Stevens trial. If the jury acquits Stevens, the Alaska Senate race would move to the lean Republican column. If the decision has not come by November 4th (as the deliberations keep being delayed), all bets are off.

Second, a blue wave would not only have to carry Jim Martin ahead of Saxby Chambliss for him to score a victory on November 4th, it would also have to get him across 50%. If neither candidate crosses that threshold (and that is very much possible given the candidacy of Libertarian candidate Allen Buckley), a runoff will be held on December 2nd. Such a runoff would seem to favor Sen. Chambliss. For one, Barack Obama would no longer be at the top of the ticket, which would make a boost in black turnout unlikely (African-Americans make up 35,4% of early voters for now, far higher than in 2004). Second, voters might not be looking to punish Republicans anymore by December 2nd, especially if Obama wins the presidency and if Democrats have already secured a big Senate majority. That would make it far easier for the GOP to argue that keeping Chambliss is necessary to not give Democrats too large a majority.

Virginia, likely take-over to safe take-over: Barack Obama is leading the state’s presidential race by double-digits in the latest polls, so what is the chance that Mark Warner stumbles? Jim Gilmore’s campaign has been a catastrophe from the start, and the state GOP will regret having barred Tom Davis’s path to the nomination.

Colorado, lean take-over to likely take-over: In what has been one of the most puzzling races of this cycle, nothing that either candidate did was moving poll numbers. Mark Udall remained consistently ahead by single-digits for more than a year despite expectations that he would be able to rapidly pull away. Even the revelations about Bob Schaffer’s connection to Jack Abramoff and the abortion and sweat-shop labor controversies that surrounded his trip to the Mariana Islands failed to significantly help Udall. Similarly, the GOP thought they were making progress when the public mood turned in favor of oil drilling; Republicans believed that would hurt Udall, who is a staunch conservationist, and even Udall must have thought the same thing since he abruptly reversed his stance on drilling in the late summer. Yet, Udall’s defensive summer position made no dent in his modest polling lead.

Over the past month, however, the race appears to have decisively broken in Udall’s favor. The economic crisis has hurt Republicans across the country, and nowhere more so than in open seats. In a supreme sign of confidence, the DSCC announced this week that it was pulling out of the state, no longer believing that Udall needed their help. The NRSC did the same yesterday, pulling its ads out and shifting the resources it had devoted to helping Schaffer to other more salvageable seats. While Colorado might not be as much of a lock as New Mexico and Virginia, it has become highly unlikely that Schaffer can pull off an upset.

Oregon, toss-up to lean take-over: Sen. Gordon Smith has been aware that he is vulnerable since the first days of the cycle and has done his best to prepare, but the environment is simply too toxic for Republicans - particularly in a blue state like Oregon. All polls suggest that Obama will crush McCain in the state, significantly outperforming Al Gore and John Kerry, a clear sign that Oregon’s independent voters are behaving like Democrats. The DSCC has been hammering Gordon Smith for months for his proximity to George Bush and for his party label, and it is remarkable that all of Smith’s ads touting his bipartisanship (some of which were quite effective) have not protected him. As if that was not enough, the Democratic surge of the past six weeks has perhaps damaged no Republican as much as Gordon Smith.

Merkley has now inched ahead in the latest polls and, while Merkley’s advantage remains narrow, Smith is stuck in the low 40s - very dangerous territory for an incumbent. That Merkley looks to be slightly ahead now is particularly significant because… Election Day is happening right now in Oregon. All voting is conducted via mail in Oregon, and the ballots arrived at voters’ home this week; these ballots have to be returned (not postmarked, returned) by November 4th, which means that most of the electorate will have voted by the middle of the next week. (As of Thursday, the ballots of 13% of registered voters had already arrived, with many more probably on the way.) All of this means that Smith has far less time than other endangered Republicans to try and turn the tide, and he will not benefit from any last-minute GOP surge.

All of this said, Smith is by no means out of the game, and this rating change is merely meant to reflect that Merkley now has a slight advantage. In particular, this is a race in which the GOP’s argument against unified government could resonate, and the liberal-leaning Oregonian endorsed Smith last week, warning against the possibility of a 60-seat Democratic Senate. That said, Smith is here plagued by the same problem we talked about above: Republicans have not yet started to make fear of a unified government the center of their congressional campaign, and even if they do that in the coming days, it might be too late in Oregon where many voters will have already cast their ballot.

Mississippi, lean retention to toss-up: Republicans felt much better about this state in the first half of September. Sarah Palin’s selection had invigorated the conservative base, and the post-convention GOP surge looked like it would be to put away races in very Republican areas. But things have shifted quite dramatically since my last rankings, and Ronnie Musgrove has gained as the conversation has turned to the economy. Research 2000 and Rasmussen have both showed him closing the gap Sen. Wicker had opened during the summer.

But there is another factor that has led me to move this race to a more competitive category: We have always known that Musgrove’s fortunes were tied to the level of black turnout, as race is the best predictor of the vote in Mississippi (Kerry got 14% of the white vote in 2004). Would Barack Obama’s presence at the top of the ticket boost African-American turnout? While we don’t have a response to that question in Mississippi, the early voting data that is being reported out of North Carolina and Georgia suggest that African-Americans are very motivated and that they might very well make up a far greater proportion of the electorate as they did in 2004. If that pattern holds in Mississippi, it could push Musgrove over the top.

This campaign has been particularly vicious, with both sides and the national committees exchanging brutal spots, with Democrats going after Wicker on economic issues (his votes against the minimum wage, for instance) and the GOP attacking Musgrove’s gubernatorial record. The Republican attacks have been more personal, as a subtext of the anti-Musgrove campaign has been the Democrat’s divorce as well as his efforts to change the Confederate-inspired state flag while he was governor; the GOP is also airing a gay-baiting ad tying Musgrove to the “homosexual agenda.”

Kansas, likely retention to safe retention: Democrats had some hope that former Rep. Slattery could make this a race, and some summer polls showing Republican Sen. Roberts under 50% gave them hope; even the Kansas press started noticing that there was a Senate race worth covering. But a wave of advertisement has allowed Roberts to regain his footing, despite a memorable ad by Slattery, and the incumbent is now leading by huge margins in the latest polls.

Texas, likely retention to safe retention: Late spring, Sen. Cornyn looked even more endangered than his neighbor from Kansas, as a string of polls showed him barely ahead of Democratic challenger Rick Noriega, a state Senator who might not have been a top-tier candidate but was certainly credible enough to exploit Cornyn’s vulnerabilities. Unfortunately for Democrats, Noriega never caught fire, and Cornyn’s poll numbers - while not as stellar as they could be - put him safely ahead. The main factor that explains why Texas did not become more competitive while North Carolina, Kentucky and Georgia have joined the top-tier is money: It takes a lot of it to wage a campaign in the Lone Star State because of the high number of media markets one has to cover - many of which are very expensive. Noriega’s fundraising was not strong enough to get around that problem, and this also prevented the DSCC from moving in.

South Dakota, likely retention to safe retention: The race was kept in the potentially competitive category based on the possibility that Sen. Johnson’s health condition worsened and gave an opening to his Republican opponent, but Johnson has managed to coast his way to the election remarkably smoothly. South Dakota was once considered as one of the most competitive races of the cycle, but there has been nothing to see ever since Johnson announced he would run for re-election.

Full ratings and rankings are available here.


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Poll watch: Obama leads big in Colorado, Oregon; tight races in IL-11, WI-08

In the day’s second wave of polls, the news continues to be good for Obama, who gets his third Colorado lead in a row that is outside of the margin of error. After an Insider Advantage survey found him leading by 10% (a 7% bounce) and Quinnipiac showed him ahead by 4% (a 5% bounce), it is now PPP’s turn to show Obama jumping by 6% in two weeks to settle in a comfortable 51% to 44% advantage.

Combined with Iowa and New Mexico (two Bush states that are already leaning Obama) Colorado would be enough to get Obama over the top, so McCain cannot afford to fall behind in this state. He would then be forced to play catch-up and have to pour resources to get on the offensive in blue states. But one blue state in which Obama looks surprisingly secure is Oregon, where he posts yet another double-digit lead today. As his margin has decreased in other blue states like Washington, Minnesota and Wisconsin, Obama has not trembled in Oregon. What does that say about Gordon Smith’s chances to survive his Senate race?

  • The day’s tracking have McCain regaining some of his footing: He continues to trail 48% to 42% in Research 2000, gains 1% in Gallup (Obama leads 47% to 44%), Rasmussen (a tie at 48%) and Diego Hotline (Obama leads 47% to 43%).
  • Obama leads 48% to 46% in an ARG national poll. McCain lead by 3% in a poll conducted last week.
  • Obama leads 51% to 44% in PPP’s poll of Colorado. He led by 1% in a poll taken two weeks ago. Palin’s favorability rating has collapsed, contributing to Obama’s gains.
  • The candidates are tied at 46% in an Insider Advantage poll of Ohio. McCain had a 1% edge last week. McCain’s support has decreased among independents.
  • Obama leads 50% to 46% in an ARG poll of Pennsylvania. Obama’s lead is just within the margin of error; McCain leads among independents.
  • Obama leads 52% to 41% in an ARG poll of Oregon.
  • Obama leads 56% to 39% in a Rasmussen poll of California. Last month, he “only” led 51% to 37%. Obama’s winning in margin here will be crucial to determining the popular vote winner.
  • McCain leads 53% to 41% in an ARG poll of Arkansas.
  • McCain leads 57% to 38% in a SUSA poll of Kentucky.
  • Obama leads 55% to 39% in an ARG poll of Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, in down-ballot polls:

  • Mark Udall leads 48% to 40% in PPP poll from the Colorado Senate race. He led by 6% in August.
  • Jeanne Shaheen only leads Sen. Sununu 48% to 44% in a UNH poll of New Hampshire.
  • Dueling polls in IL-11, where an internal poll for Democratic candidate Debbie Halvorson finds her leading 43% to 35%; an internal poll for Republican candidate Marty Ozinga finds Halvorson leading 38% to 36%, which is a 5% improvement for the Republican since August. In both polls, the trendline favors Ozinga.
  • In NY-26, an internal DCCC poll has Alice Kryzan leading Christopher Lee 39% to 29%, with 32% undecided. That the DCCC chose to release numbers in which undecideds are not pushed implies that the numbers would have been better for the Republican candidate if they had been.
  • In MN-01, Republican Brian Davis has taken the somewhat unusual step of releasing a poll in which he trails significantly. Democratic incumbent Tim Walz leads 50% to 32%.
  • In WI-08, an internal poll for the Gard campaign conducted by POS finds Democratic Rep. Kagen barely ahead, 46% to 45%. The margin was the same in a July poll.
  • In NH-02, surprising numbers from an internal poll for the Horn campaign, also conducted by POS. Rep. Hordes (usually favored to win re-election) only leads Jennifer Horn 43% to 39%.
  • Pat Roberts maintains a solid race in Rasmussen’s poll of the Kansas Senate race, 58% to 38%.
  • I will discuss this survey in more detail later, but Mitch McConnell’s lead has fallen to only 3% in SUSA’s latest release from Kentucky’s Senate race. He led by 12% last month.

It is always difficult to know what to make of internal polls, which is why it is helpful to have two internal surveys from the same district at once. Though the numbers are slightly different, the two polls from IL-11 are telling the same story, one that we have long known based on how much money the DCCC is pouring in this district: Debbie Halvorson was once a prized Democratic recruit, and IL-11 seemed in the bag for Democrats - but that is no longer the case. The DCCC has been pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars against Ozinga for months now, but Halvorson’s lead has decreased in the internals of both camps, which is never a good thing. Halvorson remains slightly favored, but the GOP can certainly still hope to save that seat.

In Colorado, this is the day’s second poll to find Udall’s lead in the high single-digits - pretty much where it has been for the past few months. As I said this morning, Udall has not closed the deal yet but given how static the race has been for months, Democrats should feel good about the race. As for New Hampshire, other recent polls have shown that Shaheen has maintained a high single-digits to low double-digits lead, and that Sununu has been unable to recover. The presidential match-up of this UNH poll was also more skewed towards McCain than usual, so it will be interesting to see other polling data from the state.



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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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    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
  • Confusion in Connecticut (Updated)

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

  • 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 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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