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Category Archive for ‘KY-02’ at Campaign Diaries
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Archive for the 'KY-02' 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: 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

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Filing deadline passes in Kentucky, West Virginia

As the GOP is scrambling to put as many Democratic-held seats in play as possible, the filing deadline passed in the 3rd and 4th states of the cycle: Kentucky and West Virginia. The good news for Democrats is that all four of their incumbents are running for re-election, which was not necessarily a given when the month started.

(Interestingly, no Democrats retired in the two states whose filing deadline had already passed. That does suggest that the increasingly worsening environment explains the mounting number of Democratic retirements and that the party is lucky that their 23 Illinois and Texas representatives had to make up their mind earlier than their Arkansas or Tennessee colleagues.)

West Virginia

One of Democrats’ worst surprises in the 2000 presidential election, West Virginia has gotten even more comfortable voting Republican ever since but they have remained loyal to Democrats at the non-presidential level. The party still holds all of the statewide positions, including the 2 Senate seats, the Governor’s Mansion and 4 other state-level positions.

Thankfully for Democrats, none of these positions are up for grabs in 2010, so they will maintain full control all the way to 2012, where there should be an all-out battle for Robert Byrd’s Senate seat in what could be the state’s first open race in 28 years. (Does anyone think it’s even remotely possible Byrd seeks a 10th term?) Over in the state legislature, Democrats are in no danger of losing their majorities: 69-31 in the lower chamber, 26-8 in the upper chamber.

WV-1: Republicans were ardently hoping 67-year old Alan Mollohan would retire, but Mollohan will be on the November ballot as he not only is running for re-election but is facing no primary opponents. He will face a competitive general election: the NRCC recruited businessman, former state party chairman and potential self-funder David McKinley, who served in the House of Delegates from 1981 to 1994. McKinley was expected to face a tough primary against state Senator Clark Barnes, who was highly touted by the GOP when he jumped in back in September; yet, Barnes appears to have dropped out: his name is not listed on the Secretary of State’s website. McKinley will have to beat 5 Republicans, however: Cindy Hall, Patricia Levenson, Sarah Minear, Thomas Stark, Mac Warner.

[Update: Mollohan landed a primary challenge who entered the race so last-minute that the SoS's website had not included his name when I checked the list of candidates this morning! State Senator Mike Oliverio, who has served in the Senate since 1994, announced he would seek the Democratic nomination, a surprise candidacy given how rarely entrenched incumbents face primary challenges. There is a reason for that, of course: It is typically tough for primary candidates to get much traction, so until we see how Oliverio intends to gain traction Mollohan will remain heavily favored to move on to the general election. Yet, Mollohan has conducted very little fundraising as of late so this challenge could wear him thin. The primary will be held on May, which should leave both parties' nominees time to rebound.]

WV-2: The district that gave John McCain his smallest margin of victory is the only one to be held by a Republican, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito. Democrats barely tried to oust her in 2006 and 2008, which they will probably come to regret in 2012, as Capito is the GOP’s most (only?) credible Senate candidate. But it is now too late to address that. Only one candidate filed to challenge Capito, so we already know that November will oppose the incumbent to Virginia Lynch Graf, a former nun.

WV-3: Democrats were far less worried about a potential retirement by Rep. Nick Rahall, but in recent months they still grew worried the 60-year old congressman might choose to call it quits. At the end of the day, he did no such thing, to Democrats’ relief. Three Republicans filed to run against him: Conrad G. Lucas, a former legislative aide to Rep. Capito; Marty Gearheart, whose website appears to contain no personal information; and nurse anesthetist Lee Bias. While Rahall is favored to win re-election, he should beware of a red wave; in particular, Lucas’s D.C. connections could help him fundraise and gain the NRCC’s attention.

Kentucky

The cycle’s stakes are higher in neighboring Kentucky because the state is hosting a highly competitive open Senate seat, the only statewide race that will be on the ballot this year. Indeed, all state-level positions - for Governor, Secretary of State, etc. - are filled in odd years.

Senate: LG Dan Mongiardo and AG Jack Conway head the Democratic field, though 3 other Democrats entered the race: doctor Jack Buckmaster, Darlene Price and businessman Maurice Sweeney will also be on the ballot. On the Republican side, SoS Trey Grayson’s dream of being the GOP front-runner has been shattered by Rand Paul’s momentum but at least he will not have to worry about competing with another candidate with establishment-backing: Former Ambassador Cathy Bailey floated her name a few months ago but she did not file for the race.

4 other Republicans joined Grayson and Paul, however. Bill Johnson, Gurley Martin, Jon Scribner and John Stephenson, who is the only one who might catch our attention since he did win the statewide office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Yet, not only was his victory back in 1991, but voters abolished the office within a year! In 2000, Stephenson ran for a state Senate seat as a Democrat, which will obviously make it tough for him to gain any traction in the GOP primary.

KY-1, KS-4 and KS-5: In districts that gave McCain 62%, 60% and 67%, respectively, GOP incumbents should coast to re-election. Rep. Edward Whitfield and Rep. Geoff Davis are heavily favored to beat Charles Kendall Hatchett and John Waltz, their sole Democratic challengers. In KS-5, Kenneth Stepp, David Price and James Holbert are all seeking the Democratic nomination, though none should threaten Rep. Rogers.

KS-2: Rep. Brett Guthrie is no more vulnerable than the three Republicans listed above, but it is worth discussing him separately since he is a freshman who won a narrow first victory in 2008, when a Democratic state Senator put up a top-tier effort. But this year real estate agent Ed Marksberry should not be much of a match in a district that gave McCain 62%.

KS-3: The state’s only district that voted for Barack Obama did so by a decisive 13%, so Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth is not at the top of the GOP’s target list. Yet, he is only a two-term lawmaker in a seat long represented by Republican Anne Northup, and 5 Republicans filed to run against him: Jerry Durbin, financial adviser Larry Hausman, UPS pilot Todd Lally, Pizza Hut restaurant Jeff Reetz and Brooks Wicker. Yarmuth would be ill-advised to take the cycle for granted, but it would be a big surprise if KY-3 is on the map come the fall.

KY-6: Like KY-3, this is one district in which the filing deadline was too early for the NRCC to make the most of the newly improved landscape. 6 Republicans filed to challenge Rep. Ben Chandler, who has been one of the leaders of the state Democratic Party from his days as Attorney General and as the party’s gubernatorial nominee: Perry Barnes, attorney Andy Barr, John Kemper, Matt Lockett, George Pendergrass and retired coal company executive Mike Templeman. Barr is the front-runner: he reported raising more than $100,000 in the fourth quarter, which caught the NRCC’s attention enough that they added him to their “On the radar” list. KY-6 is arguably the state’s only district that has the potential to host a heated race this fall, but the GOP could have recruited a stronger challenger and Chandler remains clearly favored.

State legislature: The Courier Journal reports there was a flurry of GOP recruitment in local races following Scott Brown’s victory. This could help Republicans keep control of the state Senator, in which they have a 21-17 edge following a Democratic pick-up in a springtime special election; but Democrats have too large a majority in the state House to be in danger of losing control. In any case, Democrats are sure not be shut out of the redistricting process since Governor Beshear will be in power through 2011.


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Guilty of dismal fundraising, NRCC spent whatever money it had well

Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole briefly flirted with another stint as NRCC Chairman but decided not to oppose the candidacy of Texas Rep. Pete Sessions. The GOP’s campaign committee will thus start the 2010 battle with new leadership, eager to recover after two disastrous cycles that saw Democrats pick up more than 50 seats.

To mark the end of Cole’s rule, it seems appropriate to take a look back at the past two years - recruitment, fundraising, expenditures - and pinpoint a few areas Sessions will have to improve.

What is particularly depressing for the GOP is that its recruitment was not that terrible. For one, the NRCC had managed to recruit a number of top challengers to freshmen incumbents: Jim Sullivan in CT-02, Dean Adler in CA-11 or Tom Bee in AZ-08 were all highly touted early in the cycle. Lou Barletta in PA-11, Melissa Hart in PA-04, Mike Sodrel in IN-09, Anne Northup in KY-03 and Jeb Bradley in NH-01 were also huge threats. The NRCC similarly fielded unexpectedly strong contenders in many GOP-held open seats (Darren White in NM-01, for instance).

Needless to say, all the candidates on this list lost on November 4th; some of them had even completely disappeared from our radar screen - quite a stunning development given their early high-profile. Given the pro-Democratic political environment, however, non-incumbent Republicans had practically no hope of victory - and we all treated them as such.

The NRCC’s huge problem, of course, was its dismal fundraising performance that left the committee in an extremely precarious financial position. This forced the NRCC to pull the plug on some of its top challengers and then make even more painful decisions as to which incumbents it should abandon. It will not be easy for Sessions to do a better job: It is extremely unlikely that Republicans will regain control of the House in 2010, which means that lobbyists and donors are likely to keep filling Democratic coffers. This should guarantee that the DCCC enjoys yet another cycle of financial dominance.

Within this context of budgetary restrictions, it is worth taking a look at the NRCC’s fall expenditures to test whether Cole’s team made the right set of choices with whatever little money they had in hand.

The snubbed districts: First of all, here is the list of high-profile districts in which the NRCC invested nothing: AZ-03, CT-04, CA-04, IL-10, IN-09, KY-03, MD-01, MI-09, NC-08, NM-01, NM-02, OH-16, OR-05, PA-04. It is worth adding CO-04 to the list, as the NRCC pulled the plug on Rep. Musgrave two weeks before the election.

Some of these reflect very good calls on the NRCC’s part, particularly in AZ-03. Democrats made a lot of noise about that race, and the DCCC poured in about $2 million; yet, the NRCC did not take the bait and Rep. Shadegg prevailed by double-digits. Similarly, the NRCC was right to estimate that Reps. Knollenberg, Hayes and Musgrave as well as open seat candidates in NM-01, NM-02 and OH-16 were in particularly bad shape. Democrats picked-up all of these seats, and none of them were close. Finally, good for the NRCC to not delude itself into thinking that it could defeat Democratic incumbents in KY-03, IN-09 and PA-04.

However, the GOP’s refusal to fund McClintock in CA-04 and Harris in MD-01 was most definitely a mistake. Harris lost by 1% and McClintock’s race is still undecided. Both districts are heavily conservative, so there was no possible blow back for national Republicans getting involved (unlike, say, in CT-04).

Defensible investments: As for the races they did fund, the NRCC’s decisions are a mix between golden investments and wasted money. While the GOP lost AL-02, AL-05, FL-08, FL-25, ID-01, MI-07, NH-01, NJ-03, NY-29, OH-01, PA-03, PA-11, VA-02 and WI-08, for instance, it seems hard to argue with the NRCC’s determination to defend these seats, all of which ended up being relatively close. The NRCC should however be faulted for not having invested more in some of them (ID-01 and VA-02, in particular). In some of these districts, the GOP invested significant sums (more than $1 million each in MI-07 and OH-01, for instance) but the DCCC simply had enough money to always outspend its counterpart.

Similarly, the NRCC’s decision to heavily defend KY-02, MN-03, MO-09, NE-02, NJ-07 and WY-AL were an important factor in huge Election Day saves - and the committee’s investments in KS-02, LA-06 and TX-22 (more than $1 million in the latter) helped Republican challengers scored pick-ups. (The NRCC should have been a bit more aggressive in Kansas, even though Lynn Jenkins did end up winning.)

Mistakes: All in all, there were few obvious mistakes in the GOP’s investments - except the largely unnecessary $600,000 spent in MO-06, the decision to go after Rep. Murtha with half-a-million dollars at the last minute and the committee’s determination to help Rep. Porter in NV-03. Another small mistake was CO-04: Even though they did end up abandoning Rep. Musgrave, they first spent nearly $900,000 on a seat that leaned towards a Democratic pick-up early in the fall - but perhaps not enough to justify an NRCC snub in a what is still a conservative district.

The NRCC is guilty of a number of other miscalls, but it is hard to blame them given that the DCCC also miscalculated in the same same districts. Perhaps the biggest such mistake occurred in NY-24, where Democratic incumbent Arcuri won an extremely tight race in a district absolutely no one was paying attention to.

The second biggest mistake was FL-21, a GOP-held district everyone thought was highly competitive and in which the NRCC spent more than $1.5 million. Rep. Diaz-Balart ended up winning by 16% - but the DCCC had invested considerable sums as well, as both parties believed that Diaz-Balart was endangered. Similarly, the GOP spent more than $300,000 defending IN-03 and more than $600,000 in NY-26. Neither race was tight on Election Night; yet, the DCCC wasted much more money on those two districts so the mistake here belongs to Democrats.

Finally, the NRCC rushed into VA-05 much too late, spending more $140,000 at the last minute to save Rep. Goode (the race has not been called yet, but it appears that Goode will go down by a few hundred votes); few people saw Perriello has a big threat to Goode - and the DCCC’s expenditures suggest they had not either. Provided he remains in the lead, that makes Perriello’s into this cycle’s Shea-Porter and Loebsack.


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Election Night: OBAMA WINS, underwhelming night for congressional Dems

4am: Time to call it a night. A huge night for Democrats with Barack Obama’s victory, but for congressional Dems the results are a bit underwhelming and it is safe to say there was no wave. We will talk about this more tomorrow, but Democrats won the race that were already leaning towards them and a few toss-ups, but most of those broke towards Republicans - not to mention what looks like an incredible save by the GOP in Alaska. A number of races are left, so here’s a look at what is still being counted:

  • Senate: Democrats have only secured 5 pick-ups, with the GOP saving Kentucky and Mississippi. Left are: (1) Oregon, which looks good for Democrats since Portland is massively under-reporting and Merkley will pick up a huge share of the vote there. (2) Minnesota, which is extremely tight at the moment as Franken is nursing a 2000 vote lead [late update: It's Coleman back on top with 500 votes!] (3) Georgia, where there is now a controversy over the potential existence (as reported by the AP) of hundreds of thousands of uncounted early ballots; if true, Chambliss would go under 50% and this will head to a runoff. (4) Alaska: Incredibly Ted Stevens leads 48% to 46% with 96% of the vote reporting! But the ADN reports that there could be as many as 50,000 absentee ballots left to be counted!
  • House: Democrats stand at a gain of net 17 seats, as the GOP has saved a lot of its most vulnerable seats. We still have a number of uncalled races: AK-AL, CA-04, CA-50, ID-01, MD-01, NJ-03, OH-15, SC-01, VA-05, WA-08. All are held by the GOP. Democratic candidates look very good in MD-01, VA-05, with the rest up for grabs. Will Democrats fall short of a net gain of 20 seats?

Democrats could improve their totals still, but they are right now facing the possibility of less than 20 gains in the House and 6 Senate pick-ups. Those are strong results, but they would also constitute a huge relief for Republicans.

And then there is Proposition 8, of course, which is still too close to call with a clear edge to the yes… 3 other states already passed gay-bashing measures (Arizona, Arkansas and Florida).

3:50am: So many underwhelming results for Democrats that it is hard to know where to start, but Minnesota and New Jersey are definitely going to be at the top of the party’s disappointments: NJ-03 had been called a pick-up but has now been pulled back to the too close to call column by CNN. Republican candidate Myers is leading by 2% with 93% reporting, so it looks like the GOP might be able to hold on to its two open seats in the Garden State (who would have thought that possible?). In Alaska, meanwhile, it’s hard to see how Rep. Don Young could lose at this point (surely one of the night’s biggest upsets).

3:40am: GOP Rep. Walberg goes down by 3%  in MI-07, meaning that Dems have picked-up two Michigan districts. Also: After AL-03 and SC-02, yet another district in which the DCCC did not play went for the Republican incumbent by a narrow margin (CA-03). Democrats, meanwhile, hold on to an endangered seat of their own: CA-11.

Franken and Coleman are now exchanging the lead as the last precincts are coming on. Franken is now up by 2000, but he was trailing by just as much a few minutes ago. 97% of Hennepin County is now reporting, so Franken still retains a reservoir of votes - but this could truly go either way. But Democrats are possibly experiencing a huge disappointment in Alaska, where Ted Stevens is still leading by 2% with more than 80% of the vote reporting.

In California, Prop 8 remains in the lead 52% to 48% with two thirds of the precincts reporting. I am having trouble getting a sense of which areas have yet to report. Two Democratic districts have yet to report anything at all, so the “no” hasn’t lost just yet here.

3:20am: GOP Rep. Chabot falls in OH-01, Democrat Boccieri picks-up OH-16 but Rep. Schmidt survives yet again in OH-02. OH-15 has yet to be called but it appears that Republicans might be able to hold on to it. Less surprising holds by the GOP in CA-26, CA-45, CA-46 and NV-02.

Two other huge House developments: In SC-01, I am taking the seat back from the GOP for now despite CNN’s call. Rep. Brown is only leading 53% to 47% but all the remaining precincts are in Charleston County, which is only reporting at 34% and where Linda Ketner has 59% of the vote. She will have to win the remaining votes by the same margin, but this one could still tighten. In AK-AL, it looks like Rep. Don Young will pull the most stunning upset of the night and survive as he leads by 7,5% with 72% counted.

3:05am: Indiana has been called for Obama, Montana and Alaska have been called for McCain. Still not called are North Carolina (where Obama leads 20,000) and Missouri (McCain leads by 3,000 votes). Note that this is exactly what we were expecting: Obama would win the traditionally swing states more or less comfortably and the true toss-ups would be IN, MO and NC. Polls were pretty much on target at the state level. With Obama falling just short in a number of long-shot red states he was contesting, it looks like Indiana  will be remembered as the most shocking turn-around: Bush won the state with 21% in 2004! (If Obama ends up prevailing there, North Carolina will be a close second.)

2:55am: The roller-coaster continues in Minnesota where Al Franken takes his first lead in hours with 96% reporting - but it’s only 1000 votes. Hennepin County is still at 91%, so this is starting to look better for Franken.

In Georgia, a potentially major development: The AP is now reporting that there could be a large amount of early votes still uncounted in some dense counties. If true, that could be more than enough to put Chambliss under 50%.

2:45am: GOP Rep. Porter goes down in NV-03, GOP Rep. Drake goes down in VA-02 and it looks like Rep. Chabot in OH-01 might do the same. Democratic challenger Titus defeated Porter by a healthy margin in Nevada, continuing the Democratic take-over in the Southwest. Drake is one of the only upset losers of a night that has yielded very few surprises. (In fact, the two biggest surprises of the night come from Virginia, in the form of VA-02 and probably VA-05). And in Ohio, we went from 45% reporting to 99% reporting seemingly at once and Democrat Driehaus is now leading by 4% in what would be a great development for Democrats.

2:18am: Democrats pick-up AL-02, which becomes one of the most conservative districts in the country represented by a Democrat (ID-01 could join in if Rep. Sali is defeated). All is not finished in Georgia! As precincts keep reporting, Chambliss keeps going down and he is now at 50,3% with 98% reporting. If he goes a vote under 50%, this one is going to a runoff.

Here is my attempts at listing House districts that have yet to be called: AK-AL, ID-01, MD-01, MI-07, OH-01, OH-02, OH-15, OH-16, NV-02, NV-03, VA-02, VA-05, WA-08, as well as a number of California races. Democrats are leading in a number of these races (especially in MD-01, NV-03, OH-16, VA-02 and VA-05 where the count is basically over).

2:10am: There are still a lot of outstanding races out there for those who are trying to stay up, and Minnesota is certainly the most fascinating. Coleman is now leading by 3,000 votes but only 87% of Hennepin County (Minneapolis) is reporting. If the remaining 13% report at the same margin as the other 80%, Franken could overcome Coleman’s lead - though rural counties don’t get in the way.

In Alaska, there is no way of knowing where results are coming from but Ted Stevens and Don Young are leading right now with more than half of precincts reporting. As I said, this could be coming in from anywhere in the state - and there are certainly areas in which Young and Stevens’ support is strong (as we learned in the GOP’s House primary in August). In Oregon, Jeff Merkley is ahead by a hair but Portland is under-reporting.

1:55am: Two huge wins for Republicans in KS-02, where they defeat Democratic incumbent Nancy Boyda and in MN-06, where Michelle Bachmann incredibly wins re-election. But buckle your seat belt, we are in for a wild ride in Minnesota! With 89% reporting, Norm Coleman is now leading by 160 votes! Can Franken give Minnesota Democrats one reason to cheer?

In what is one of the most stunning race of the night, Democrat Mike Arcurci barely won re-election in NY-24, a district that no one was watching. New York Democrats can at least cheer the addition of 3 new House seats and the pick-up of the New York state Senate! The Empire State’s Republican Party has now lost all power.

1:30am: GOP Rep. Joe Knollenberg falls in MI-09, but three huge saves for Republicans in FL-25, MN-03 and NE-02, where Joe Garcia, Ashwin Madia and Jim Esch fell short. Florida didn’t end up being the treasure trove Democrats were hoping it would be: both Diaz-Balart brothers survived relatively comfortably and GOP candidates crushed their opponents in FL-13 and FL-18. Michelle Bachmann, meanwhile, continues to lead. We wait for final results out of Virginia, Ohio, Nevada.

Sure, Republicans are losing a lot of House seats - but they are also doing better than they surely expected in a number of seats and will avoid the worst.

1:10am: Christine Gregoire re-elected Governor of Washington, so Democrats have not lost a single statewide seat for the second cycle in a row. (They did lose Louisiana’s governorship in 2007, however.) Meanwhile, in Senate races: Democrats are on the verge of being denied 60 seats, but exit polls suggest Ted Stevens is going down in Alaska while Jeff Merkley is holding into a lead with Democratic counties under-reporting. In Georgia, Chambliss is holding above 50% with nearly all precincts reporting.

That leaves us with Minnesota: Coleman is ahead by more than 50,000 with 73% reporting. But if the remaining 60% of Minneapolis’s county come in as the rest has, Franken could still storm back.

1am: Outspoken social conservative GOP Rep. Musgrave goes down in CO-04, allowing Democrats to continue making remarkable gains in Colorado. Over the past three cycles, they’ve picked-up two Senate seats, the governorship, three House seats and the state’s 9 electoral votes! Combined this with New Mexico, where Democrats picked-up two House seats and a Senate seat today alone and now control all federal races! (More gains could come from Nevada). The Southwest has shifted towards Democrats, and this could have lasting consequences on the country’s political dynamics.

12:50am: Republicans keep MO-09, continuing to deny Democratic a significant wave. There are, however, a number of GOP races in which Democrats are currently leading - including VA-02, VA-05, MI-09, ID-01, CO-04 and also MI-07, where Mark Schauer has just taken a lead of a few hundred votes against Rep. Walberg.

However, it looks like the GOP might pull-out a stunning save in OH-15, as Mary Joe Kilroy (who was expected to win in 2006 before falling short by a few hundred votes) has just fallen behind by 900 votes with 96% reporting. In Minnesota, Coleman continues to expand his lead - but in Georgia Chambliss is now down to 51%. With 97% reporting, however, it looks like Chambliss has enough votes to avoid a runoff.

12:35am: Democrats pick-up NM-01, hold GA-08 and WI-08, two seats that were rated toss-ups in my ratings. However, Democratic Rep. Nancy Boyda looks like she will go down in KS-02, another toss-up race in which a Republican challenger leads 51% to 46%. This means that many new Democratic representatives will be blue dogs - but all the outgoing Democrats will be as well (Cazayoux, Lampson, Mahoney and possibly Boyda).

Norm Coleman has inched ahead 43% to 41% (26,000 votes) with 63% reporting. Minneapolis’s County is under-reporting. But it looks like the GOP is surviving in Minnesota as Bachmann is leading by 6% and Paulsen is leading by 5%. Democrats

12:20am: Republicans pick-up TX-22 and they are doing a good job at holding at their marginal seats as they win SC-01, SC-02, TX-07 and TX-10. The tightest among them looks to have been SC-02, which was considered the least endangered of the night! Rep. Wilson won by 8% - will the DCCC regret not having made a move there? The Democratic House wave isn’t quite as big as some predicted. Republicans are also fighting on in OH-15, which was called prematurely for Democrats.

12:10am: Republicans hold WV-02 and WY-AL but Democrats pick-up NM-02, a conservative open seat, as Obama’s New Mexico coattails looks like it will lead to a blue sweep of all of the state’s federal races as Martin Heinrich looks really strong in NM-01. It is interesting how the GOP is performing awfully in some states (NM and VA, for instance) while proving unexpectedly strong in others (MN, where Coleman, Paulsen and Bachmann all lead - though all races remain too close to call). In case anyone had doubts about these races that were once competitive: Democrats held OR-05 and the GOP held MO-09.

midnight: Obama takes the stage accompanied by his family, delivering a rousing speech in front of hundreds of thousands of supporters and choosing to renew with the themes of his 2004 convention speech and of his January 3rd Iowa victory speech. As he speaks, Nevada is called for him - continuing a remarkable sweep of red states (IN, MO and NC are still too close to call).

11:55pm: Mary Landrieu wins re-election in Louisiana by a much narrower margin than expected. This means that Republicans will not win a single Dem-held Senate seat for the second cycle in a row. Another major congressional hold for Democrats in AL-05, where Parker Griffith barely prevailed.

11:50pm: Colorado called for Obama, and Democrats pick-up NY-29, PA-03 (two major pick-ups) though Republicans save FL-21 and NY-26. All were endangered GOP districts. Less surprisingly, Republicans kept FL-18. FL-25, MO-09 and NE-02 are extremely competitive with the GOP candidates narrowly away.

11:45pm: Sen. Wicker wins Mississippi’s Senate race, making it unlikely Dems get to 60 seats. Another for Republicans: IL-10. Obama’s coattails did not carry Dan Seals across the finish line. There are still a lot of tight House races throughout the country, but Republicans still have hope of avoiding a catastrophe at the House level - just as they seem to have saved a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

In Georgia, Chambliss is now at 52% and Democrats are gaining rapidly. Are there many more African-American neighborhoods? In Minnesota, Franken is 300 votes ahead of Coleman!

11:40pm: Arizona passes its ban on gay marriage two years after rejecting it. In Florida, the “yes” is holding at 62% (it needs 60% to pass). In California, Prop 8 is passing right now by 10% - but it’s still early and the Bay Area is not reporting.

11:35pm: More House results coming in: VA-11 called for Democrats, and it looked like they will win VA-05 as well as Perriello has expanded his lead to 2000 votes with 99% precincts reporting.  Democrats save GA-12. And a truly major relief for Republicans: Rep. Shadegg saves his seat in AZ-03.

11:25pm: Mark Udall called the winner in Colorado’s Senate race in the Democrats’ 5th pick-up. And other key House calls: Democrats pick-up NJ-03 but they stunningly lose NJ-07. They also pull an incredible save in PA-11. This is quite a catastrophe for Pennsylvania Republicans: Democrats have managed an unlikely sweep of all their endangered incumbents (PA-04, PA-10, PA-11, PA-12). And in PA-03, GOP Rep. English is not yet out - but he is trailing by 4% with 91% reporting.

Other endangered Republicans include ID-01 (where Rep. Sali trails by 10%), NE-02 (where Rep. Terry trails by 2%), VA-02 (where Rep. Drake trails by 2% with 70% reporting). What we have not yet seen is unexpected upsets though VA-05 is getting close: Perriello leads by 800 votes with 98% reporting. In NY-29, we are 98% reporting and Rep. Kuhl trails by 5000 votes (51-49).

If anything, the biggest upset of the night long looked like it would be a Republican pick-up in NY-24, and Rep. Arcuri is still not out of the woods: He is leading by 1800 votes with 98% reporting.

11:15pm: Florida calls for Obama and Arizona for McCain, as McCain takes the stage to concede. (The crowd has apparently not given up quite yet as they boo Obama’s name.) McCain celebrates the election of an African-American, salutes the historical occasion.

11:05pm: Democrat Bev Perdue wins the North Carolina governorship in what was among the tightest races in the country. As Democrats (and many in the world) celebrate Obama’s victory, Dems do get some bad news from LA-06: a major Republican pick-up that democrats believed they could protect.

Democrats get some pick-ups as well: IL-11 and AZ-01 are called for Democrats. AL-03 is called for GOP Rep. Rogers, in what ended up being a much more competitive seat than most expected.

11pm: Obama becomes President-Elect as the West Coast puts him above the top. Just moments before, Virginia was called for Obama.

10:50pm: We haven’t talked about referendums much, but those are important as well: Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly refused to repeal the state income tax. Both abortion proposals in South Dakota and Colorado are going down, though South Dakota’s remains relatively close.

In more housekeeping: Tim Johnson has won re-election in South Dakota, easily capping a remarkable comeback. In Nebraska, another race that once looked like it could be competitive but had not looked close for a while, Mike Johanns has held the seat for the GOP.

10:46pm: An update in Virginia, where Obama remains ahead 51% to 49% with Democratic precincts left to report. In VA-05, Perriello remains ahead in what would be one of the biggest upsets of the nights - but only by 700 votes with 97% reporting. In VA-02 and VA-11, two other Democrats are ahead - though they have not yet won. Could Democrats pick up the state’s presidential electors, a Senate seat and 3 House seats?!

In Alabama, three House races are very tight though it looks like GOP Rep. Rogers is saving himself; he leads by 6% with 91% reporting. Parker Griffith and Bobby Bright are ahead by extremely narrow margins in AL-02 and AL-05 with about 90% reporting. Doesn’t it say a lot about the GOP’s woes that Alabama is such a House battleground?

10:35pm: A Democratic pick-up in IL-11 and two crucial Democratic holds as Reps. Murtha and Altmire survive in PA-04 and PA-12. It also looks like Rep. Kanjorski could unexpectedly survive, he is up 51% to 49% with 80% reporting.

An update on the Senate: Sens. Wicker and Chambliss are holding on to large leads while Sen. Landrieu in Louisiana is only ahead by 2%. So a good night for Southern Republicans? African-American areas are not reporting at the same pace. We have heard nothing from New Orleans, for instance, and little from Atlanta. When those come in, numbers are likely to change.

10:25pm: Three pick-ups for House Democrats, as Larry Kissell beats Rep. Hayes in NC-08 and as NY-13 and NY-25 are called for Mike McMahon and Dan Maffei. (The latter two were the clearest pick-up for Dems, so no surprise there.) This gets us to +7 for Democrats for now.

But there might be a stunning upset brewing in favor of Republicans in NY-24, where Rep. Arcuri is trailing by 4% with 75% reporting! This was on no one’s radar screen. In NY-29, it looks like GOP Rep. Kuhl will be unseated, as he trails by 6% with 65% reporting. Good news for Florida Republicans: The Diaz-Balart brothers are for now holding their own in FL-21 and FL-25, and Republicans hold FL-13.

In Texas, Sen. Cornyn has won re-election, though GOP Reps. Culberson and McCaul are struggling (though remain in the lead in early returns). A lot of action in Alabama: In AL-03, a stunningly (and unexpectedly) close race is brewing, with GOP Rep. Rogers holding on to a 51-49 lead with 73% reporting. In AL-02, with 75% reporting, Bobby Bright is leading by 4%. In AL-05, a Democratic open seat, Democratic candidate Parker Griffith is leading by 4% with 77% reporting.

10:15pm: Republicans pick-up FL-16 (unsurprisingly) and save KY-02. The latter was rated lean GOP in my latest ratings, but there was a time in which Democrats had very high hopes here. In better news for Democrats, Debbie Halvorson is poised to pick-up IL-11 as she leads by 23% with two thirds reporting. IL-10 remains competitive. In IL-18, Republican Schock holds an open seat and will become the youngest member of the 111th House.

Could Republicans save their two open House seats in New Jersey? That would be a stunning disappointment for Democrats, but the GOP candidates are leading by 6% and 12% in NJ-03 and NJ-07. 58% are reporting in both counties. Those are shockingly disappointing numbers for Democrats, especially in NJ-07. GOP Rep. Garrett is winning a strong victory in NJ-05 against Rabbi Dennis Shulman (we talked about this race two weeks ago when Garrett unveiled one of the most vicious ads of the cycle).

In presidential news, McCain holds Arkansas and Texas.

10:06pm: A mistake in the House? CNN called VA-05 for Rep. Goode earlier - and I called it a big hold for the GOP. But with 95% reporting, Perriello is leading by 700 votes! This is a nail-biter with a slight Democratic advantage as counting winds down. In VA-02, a Democratic challenger is holding 51% to 49% over Rep. Drake with 63% reporting.

In Georgia, Chambliss is crushing Martin 56% to 40% but there are a lot of Democratic strongholds left to report. We’re also keeping an eye on MN-06, where infamous Rep. Bachmann is leading 47% to 43% with 20% reporting. And an important hold for Democrats in Indiana, as Baron Hill is re-elected in IN-09. Republican candidate Guthrie is holding on to a 4% lead with almost 90% reporting.

10:05pm: A look at Florida: Obama has a narrow lead with 61% reporting but look at where there still are outstanding votes: 31% of Miami-Dade is reporting, nothing in Palm Beach while Hillsborough County (a crucial swing county) has gone for Obama. Just as in Virginia, the remaining counties suggest Obama will carry Florida.

Meanwhile, Republicans already calling on Obama to stand up to Pelosi and Reid.

10pm: As polls close in yet more states, Iowa is called for Obama and Utah is called for McCain. So much for McCain’s (still unexplained) bravado in Iowa. Montana and Nevada are still too close to call.

A look at Virginia: 80% is reporting, but only 35% of Fairfax is in, as well as 33% of Arlington. In other words, Obama is likely to pick-up these 13 electoral votes.

9:56pm: Obama heading to landslide victory. New Mexico is called for Obama and Louisiana for McCain. Also, Obama has taken the lead in Virginia with 80% reporting, but only 50% to 49% (it is somewhat surprising that the state is so narrow given that Obama won Ohio and Pennsylvania relatively easily).

9:50pm: There are no more House Republicans in New England. Two pick-ups for Democrats as OH-15 and CT-04 are called. While OH-15 was rated lean Democratic in my ratings, CT-04 was a toss-up. In better news for Republicans, Chris Lee is crushing Alice Kryzan in NY-26.

9:45pm: Let’s check in some major House races: In OH-02, a quarter of the votes are in and GOP Rep. Schmidt is surviving 46% to 37%. In OH-07, a long shot for Democrats, GOP candidate Austria is up by 6%. In OH-12, GOP Rep. Tiberi is leading 51% to 46%. In OH-15, 36% of precincts are reporting and Democratic candidate Kilroy is leading by 6%.

In PA-03, GOP Rep. English is trailing by 10% with 30% reporting… and early totals suggest we could be in for a shocker in PA-06, where Republican Rep. Gerlach trails. In PA-10 and PA-12, Democratic Rep. Carney and Rep. Murtha are leading comfortably - but there is still a long time to go. In PA-11, a race that I have rated lean Republican, Democratic Rep. Kanjorski is ahead 53% to 47%.

Republicans will pick-up FL-16 (they’re leading 61% to 39% with almost half-in). The South Florida races (FL-21 and FL-25 are early. We’ve already called FL-08 and FL-24 for Democrats.

In CT-04, huge lead for Jim Himes with 40% reporting: 60% to 39%. In CO-04, a huge lead for Democratic challenger Betsy Markey: 61% to 39% with a third reporting!

9:40pm: Big hold for Democrats in NH-01, where Rep. Carol Shea-Porter beats Jeb Bradley for the second cycle in a row; the race was one of the few Dem-held districts that was rated a toss-up in my latest ratings.

The networks are doing their best to pretend that McCain still has a path to victory. He doesn’t. John King is pleading West Coasters to vote. Think about this: There is still 90 minutes of voting in the West Coast (more in AK) and the presidential race has effectively been called.

9:35pm: Obama will be the next president, but there are still a lot of other elections to be called… so we go on! Starting with NC-08, where Larry Kissell leads 58% to 42% against GOP Rep. Hayes with 35% reporting; however, Republicans incumbents NC-05 and NC-10 look like they will survive (they were both extreme long shots for Democrats).

9:25pm: HUGE HUGE HUGE projection: Obama wins Ohio, its 20 electoral votes and is now A VIRTUAL LOCK FOR THE PRESIDENCY. BARACK OBADIAH WILL BE THE 44th PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!

I’m sure you all know why: With Obama now safe in all blue states, all he needs is to pick up 19 red electoral votes… and Ohio has 20 electoral votes. This means that unless something goes terribly wrong for Democrats in California, Oregon, Hawaii or Washington, Obama has secured 270 electoral votes.

This is also poetic justice for Democrats: Ohio crushed their hearts four years ago… and it is now Ohio that is putting Obama over the top, despite the fact that other red states are likely to go blue by bigger margins when all is counted.

9:21pm: More good news for Republicans: VA-05 is called for GOP Rep. Goode (a huge saved for the GOP) and West Virginia is called for McCain. Democrats continue to lead in VA-02 and VA-11. GOP Rep. Capito is holding by 10% in WV-02. Democrats aren’t on track for a sweep yet.

9:20pm: Mitch McConnell survives according to CNN. A huge, HUGE save for Republicans, due to Lunsford’s weak results in Democratic strongholds. This makes it much more difficult for Democrats to reach 60. All eyes are now on Minnesota, Georgia and Mississippi.

9:10pm: Stunning numbers from CT-04, where Jim Himes leads by 30% with nearly 28% in. In VA-05, GOP Rep. Goode has now fallen behind (things are looking good for Democrats in VA-02 and VA-11 as well for now, could we be headed to a giant night for Virginia Democrats?). In Kentucky, Mitch McConnell is ahead by 3% with 62% reporting. Things are also going well for Democratic candidates in Ohio but it is very early.

Some news form exit polls: Mary Landrieu looks like she will survive in Louisiana by a comfortable - though not dominant - margin; same for Mark Udall in Colorado. At the presidential level, Colorado’s presidential race looks good for Obama, who is also crushing his rival in New Mexico. Also, exit polls suggest a Franken victory. This could be the Democrats’ 8th seat.

9:05pm: Tom Udall picks-up New Mexico’s Senate race (no surprise there). VA-05 has dramatically tightened with 84% reporting. Kentucky’s Senate race is now a 2% race with 60% reporting: McConnell is up 51% to 49%. In GA-08, a big pick-up hope for Republicans, Dem Rep. Marshall is performing well.

Updated exit polls show a dead heat in Indiana and a tighter race in Virginia though Obama still ahead.

9:00pm: Obama has swept the blue states, as Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota are all called for him. This is huge for Obama, and puts McCain in an extremely precarious position. Another major call is North Dakota, which has been called for McCain. Other calls: New York, Rhode Island go for Obama. Wyoming, Kansas are called for McCain. No call yet in Colorado, New Mexico, Louisiana, South Dakota, Nebraska.

A good save for Republicans: IN-03 is called for Rep. Souder.

8:54pm: Democrat Jay Nixon will become Missouri’s new Governor. No surprise here, but it’s a pick-up for Democrats. In other good news for Democrats, Barack Obama looks to be doing very well in North Carolina’s crucial Wake county. CNN (which is being much more cautious than other networks) joins in calling Hagan the winner in North Carolina.

8:45pm: Two good Florida news for Democrats: First, they got their second House pick-up in FL-08, and the second in the Orlando area as Allen Grayson has defeated Rep. Keller. The race was rated lean Democratic in my House ratings.

Second, Obama is over-performing, for instance in Pinellas County which Kerry lost and Obama won by 8%. Obama is doing well in Central Florida. (Four years ago, reports that Kerry was doing poorly in Florida’s I-4 corridor were the first signs Bush was doing well.)

8:41pm: Possible upset brewing in VA-02, where the Democratic challenger is narrowly leading with 15% reporting. GOP Rep. Goode is holding on by 6% in VA-05 while Democratic candidate Connolly is leading by 10% with 5% reporting.

In Kentucky, Mitch McConnell is slowly inching upward but it is still too close to call: He leads by 4% with 55% reporting. GOP candidate Brett Guthrie is going strong in KY-02, somewhat of a disappointment for Dems in a race they long hoped would go their way.

8:37pm: McCain gets his first big win as MSNBC calls Georgia for him. This should not be considered bad news for Obama, but it might be disappointing to those Democrats hoping for a blowout. That Georgia was called relatively early also suggests that Democrats are not over-performing enough for Martin to cross 50% today, perhaps not even to force a runoff.

8:34pm: McCain is holding the red base, as he just won Alabama. He trails 103-43 margin in the electoral college. Also: Reports are indicating turnout has hit 80% (!) in Virginia and Nevada.

At the House level, Democrats are headed towards a major pick-up in FL-08, as Grayson leads by 6% with more than 70% reporting. The race is rated lean Democratic in my latest ratings but it was not considered in the top-tier two months ago.

8:30pm: Democrats get their first House pick-up in FL-24, Tom Feeney’s seat. Things are not looking as good for Democrats in IN-03, but Rep. Shays is not doing well in CT-04. (Also, CNN just called New Hampshire for Obama - following NBC’s call.)

8:28pm: The North Carolina Senate race is called for KAY HAGAN. This is a huge pick-up for Democrats in one of the two races I had rated as lean Democratic.

8:22pm: I have been asked to comment on Virginia’s results. McCain is winning big right now, but most reporting is in Republican south and west so Obama’s strongest areas have yet to report. In VA-05, Rep. Goode is holding on 53% to 47% in a district Democrats made a last-minute push in - but Charlottesville has yet to report.

Some other interesting results: Mitch McConnell now leads by 3% with half of the votes reporting. In NH-01, Rep. Shea-Porter is up by 14% with 16% reporting. It looks like yet another strong night for New Hampshire Democrats.

8:20pm: Jeanne Shaheen wins the New Hampshire Senate race, a crucial pick-up for Democrats - though it is not particularly surprising. In Maine, Susan Collins wins re-election (again, not a surprise but Democrats once had high hopes and the DSCC did spend a lot of money). Gov. Lynch wins re-election in New Hampshire, retaining a seat he unexpectedly picked up in 2004.

8:15pm: Let’s go back to the presidential race and repeat how extraordinary it is that Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and even New Jersey were called immediately for the Democratic nominee.  Obama is now leading 103 electoral votes to 34 for McCain, and the electoral map is now very very very tough for McCain. Obama will probably win Iowa and New Mexico, which means Obama needs one more of all other red states - and things look cautiously good for him in FL, NC… even IN.

For those who are wondering what is happening in Pennsylvania, Obama has a gigantic lead in the exit poll posted by CNN. No surprises in Maine according to the exit poll, as Susan Collins should win re-election. Bad news for Democrats in the Mississippi exit poll, however, as Roger Wicker is coming out ahead - but those are only exit polls, of course, and they can always take comfort in New Hampshire, where Shaheen is destroying Sununu.

8:05pm: Let’s step back to the congressional level for a moment: With 39% of Kentucky reporting, Mitch McConnell is holding a 0.6% lead. At the House level, KY-03 has been called for Rep. Yarmuth (an important hold in what was a rematch of a 2006 race). In KY-02, GOP nominee Guthrie is now 7% ahead with 25% reporting. Republicans are also looking good in IN-03.

8pm: MSNBC CALLED PENNSYLVANIA FOR OBAMA. A stunning call that CNN does not follow. It will be very difficult for McCain to win the presidency without the Keystone State. Other calls: McCain wins Oklahoma, Tennessee. Obama wins Massachusetts, Illinois, Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Maryland, DC, Maine.

Let’s say it: This is atrocious for McCain.

7:55pm: As expected, North Carolina early voters are favoring Obama: We now have 450,000 votes counted (but 0% precincts, which means these are early voters) and Obama has opened a lead of 100,000 (61% to 39%); Hagan leads by the same margin. As expected, Perdue is underperforming.

The situation is the same in Florida, where we now have more than 2,5 million votes! Obama leads 56% to 44% which is a margin of 400,000 votes. McCain will need to perform strongly among voters who voted today.

7:50pm: Now that 3 states have been called, McCain leads 16-3 in the electoral college. This only means that Republicans did not completely collapse, as South Carolina was turning blue in the GOP’s worst nightmares (and I do mean worst).

IN-02 called for Rep. Donnelly (this was a race the GOP once hoped to make competitive). Democrats are looking good in the pair of GOP-held Orlando districts they are contesting, especially in FL-08, where Grayson now leads by 10% with 35% reporting.

In Kentucky, we are now at 29% reporting (Democratic strongholds are reporting as well). McCain leads by 8,3% and Lunsford is ahead by 0,4% (about 2,000 votes).

7:40pm: South Carolina called for McCain. In Florida, 1,4 million votes have been counted and Obama leads by 160,000 votes. It’s hard to know what to make of this since we already knew Democrats did well among early voters.

In IN-03, GOP Rep. Souder is looking good and leads by 17% with 30% reporting (the race is rated a toss-up in my latest ratings, so a potential disappointment for Democrats). In KY-02, however, Democrat David Boswell is holding on to a very narrow lead and slightly overperforming the 2006 nominee - suggesting this could be a nail-biter.

In Indiana, we now have 21% reporting and McCain is narrowly ahead, 51% to 48%. Democratic strongholds have still not yet reported.

7:35pm: Only 2% of Florida is reporting but there are a lot of raw votes being reporting, suggesting there has been a big dump of early voters: Obama leads 313,475 to 204,112. At the House level: 17% are reporting in FL-08, and Democratic challenger Grayson is leading Rep. Keller 56% to 44%.

CNN has posted its exit polls from Georgia (suggesting a narrow McCain lead), from Indiana (Obama is ahead), from Ohio (Obama leads among males as well as females…) and from Virginia, which look really good for Obama. Georgia exit polling also suggests that the Senate race is heading to a runoff while Kentucky’s exit poll suggests McConnell will survive. Obama is also ahead narrowly in North Carolina exit polling. These exit polls are more reliable than those we saw at 5pm, but Dems should not feel confident just yet.

7:30pm: Polls have closed in Ohio, North Carolina and Arkansas! No calls for now.

7:25pm: In Indiana, McCain is holding 51% to 49% with 12% reporting but no results from Obama strongholds Indianapolis, Bloomington and Lake County. In House races, incumbents are looking good for now: Dems are leading in IN-02, IN-08 and IN-09 (the latter is somewhat competitive). In IN-03, a district Democrats have been targeting over the past few weeks, Rep. Souder is holding on by 12% with 10% reporting.

Conservative parts of Virginia are reporting only for now, so nothing to see there. We’re keeping an eye on a few House races there. In Kentucky, McConnell leads by 2% with 15% reporting.

7:20pm: Mitch Daniels wins another term as Indiana’s Governor. This was a race Democrats were very excited about just six months ago, but Jill Long Thompson’s campaign collapsed over the past few months.

In Kentucky, 13% have reported: McCain leads by 11,3% and McConnell leads by 1,2% - that’s certainly a more promising over performance for Lunsford.

7:15pm: CBS News is reporting that the share of the African-American vote in Georgia has increased by 5%. This was a key factor we were following, and if it holds in other states it will be very good news for Obama and Democrats up and down the ballot. ALSO: Virginia exit polls suggest Obama is in the lead - which would obviously be very significant. Early exits also imply a narrower Obama lead in Indiana. All of this is obviously not indicative of any final results.

7:05pm: A reminder that at this hour four years ago, Teddy Kennedy was beaming on CNN while Robert Novak looked very depressed.

Mitch McConnell and Bruce Lunsford are essentially tied in Kentucky: with 12% reporting, Lunsford leads by 19 votes (!) Lunsford is still running only a few points ahead of Obama, and he will have to improve that once more conservative districts start reporting.

7:00pm: First calls! Obama wins VERMONT and McCain wins Kentucky! Virginia’s Senate race is called for MARK WARNER! Polls also closed in Georgia, some of New Hampshire, South Carolina, Virginia (!), all of Indiana and most (but not all) of Florida. Lindsay Graham has been called the winner in South Carolina’s Senate race.

Things are getting interesting.

6:55pm: 42% of KY-03 (a Democratic-leaning district) has reported, which explains why Obama is polling strongly in the state. As I said, Lunsford is not over-performing Obama which is a problem. Sure, he needs to primarily overperform in conservative areas rather than in KY-03, but this is not that good a start for the Democratic Senate candidate.

As for KY-03, Rep. Yarmuth is leading 57% to 43% against former Rep. Northup: it’s looking good for Democrats there in a district that the GOP once had high hopes for.

6:45pm: Finally some results: 9% of Kentucky is reporting and Lunsford is narrowly ahead (51% to 49%) and McCain is ahead by 1%. Lunsford has to outperform Obama by a far bigger margin if he wants to pull this off.

Let’s say this about exit polls: They are looking a lot like 2004, which is to say that Democrats are taking comfort in them…

6:35pm: More exit poll rumoring: Gawker has the second wave of exit polls and they have good news for Obama in the presidential race (especially in states he is expected to win like PA, IA, NM) and very good news for Senate Democrats - too good for the numbers to be reliable, perhaps. Coleman, for instance, is being shown to be trailing by 12% for now, which is highly to hold.

Still very early reporting in Indiana and Kentucky, with Democrat Boswell holding a very narrow lead in KY-02 and GOP Rep. Souder holding a 13% lead, both with very early reporting (2% each).

6:25pm: Is this actually our first election night since June 3rd? After the seemingly weekly extravaganzas throughout the spring, that seems hard to believe.

Not many precincts have started reporting. With 1% reporting in Indiana, with Obama leading 55% to 44% - obviously ridiculously early, however.

6:15pm: The very first results are in! 5 precincts are reporting from Kentucky… and they have McCain leading 64% to 35%. This is obviously not at all significant - but those are the hard numbers we are getting, so worth noting.

Some interesting preliminary data from exit polls that are being released from the broadcast channels themselves (CNN, Fox) have Obama leading big among first time voters (no surprise there, though the exact margin will of course be crucial), most voters preoccupied with the economy and thinking the country is on the wrong track (again, no surprise…).

Original post: Let’s get this party started! We are past 6:00pm ET, and polls have closed in most (but not all) of Kentucky and Indiana. Numbers should start streaming in any time soon.

I will be live blogging through the night, and as more and more polls close I imagine I wil be swamped by the number of races to cover. I will try to keep an eye on all of them but will surely miss a few, so please feel fee to email me or add comments with any result/trend I haven’t noticed and I’ll try to get to them.

As for exit polls, I am seeing contrasting news for now - so no reason to trust anything you see (not that exit polls should be trusted anyway).


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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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NRCC’s new expenditures boost defense, play some offense

As expected, the NRCC posted most of their expenditures after the first round of spending I documented yesterday morning, and their decisions on where to spend money over the final week offers us a wealth of information on which districts Republicans thinks are still winnable, which they are resigned to losing, and which they are feeling some confidence in. Meanwhile, new expenditures posted by the DCCC confirm Democratic determination to expand the map.

First, Democrats are not giving up and Republicans are not feeling overconfident in two of the most endangered Dem-held seats: TX-22 and PA-11. Both are rated lean take-over in my latest ratings, but both parties are heavily investing. The NRCC poured more than $700,000 against Rep. Nick Lampson in Texas (bringing its total to more than $1 million) and more than $270,000 against Rep. Paul Kanjorski in Pennsylvania. Both districts have appeared to be gone for months now, so it is somewhat puzzling that the DCCC has not abandoned these incumbents; it just spent $600,000 in Texas (for a total of $1 million) and more than $200,000 in Pennsylvania (for a total of $2.3 million).

The NRCC played offense in a few more districts, spending more than $300,000 in KS-02 and LA-06 and around $100,000 in AL-05 and WI-08. The rest was devoted to defense: $506,000 was just spent in WA-08 (bringing the total above $1 million), more than $400,000 in FL-25 and MI-07 (bringing the total in the latter to $1.5 million), more than $300,000 on in FL-08, NJ-07, OH-15, more than $200,000 in NY-29, MN-03 and OH-02, and more than $100,000 in AL-02, ID-01, NJ-03, PA-03 and VA-02. (Note that the NRCC had already reported six figure buys yesterday in WY-AL, NE-02, IN-03, MO-06 and MO-09).

A few notes about these districts: This is the NRCC’s first ad buy in FL-08, a seat that I recently moved to the lean take-over category - albeit the race remains highly competitive. The DCCC just released its first ad for the race yesterday, meaning that both committees are moving in Orlando for a last-minute push. Furthermore, it is fascinating to see which highly endangered open seats the NRCC is contesting and which it is not: OH-15, NJ-07 and NJ-03 at one point looked like they would be easily Democratic pick-ups, but the GOP candidates have proved resilient and the NRCC is providing some help; open seats candidates in OH-16 or NM-01 have been completely abandoned. As for Erik Paulsen, he can thank Michelle Bachmann for her anti-Americanism rant, as that led the NRCC to move resources out of MN-06 and into MN-03.

In fact, even more interesting than the seats in which the NRCC is spending are the seats in which they are not: Given the NRCC’s budgetary constraints, they cannot afford to spend on seats in which there isn’t a very clear and accessible path to victory. As had already been reported but not yet confirmed, the NRCC is spending no new money in CO-04, all but abandoning Rep. Musgrave; there also appear to be no new ads in NV-03 and NH-01, which is more of a surprise. The NRCC’s new buy in KY-02 is two thirds smaller than it was the previous week, which is probably more of a sign of confidence than of despair. And the NRCC has still spent no money whatsoever in a number of highly competitive seats: AZ-03, IL-10, IL-11, FL-24, MD-01, NC-08 or NM-01, for instance. (The DCCC has spent more than $1 million in each of these districts.)

Meanwhile, the DCCC’s latest spree lavishes resources on two top contenders - Darcy Burner gets more than half-a-million in WA-08 and Kathy Dahlkemper gets almost $400,000 (for a total of more than $2 million) in PA-03. But as noticeable are the DCCC’s expenditures in long-shot districts in which they only started investing last week: $350,000 goes to VA-02, almost $300,000 to VA-05, to WV-02 and to WY-AL. Smaller sums go to playing defense in OR-05 and PA-10.

Not all publicity is good publicity, however. A day after Elizabeth Dole provoked the type of firestorm that is very likely to backfire with her ad “accusing” Kay Hagan of atheism, Minnesota’s GOP is facing similar bad press over allegations that they darkened the skin of Democratic candidate and Indian-American Ashwin Madia (MN-03). Such charges are unlikely to cause much movement if they remain topics of discussion on blogs, but at least one TV station devoted a segment to this in their local news (watch video here), getting independent experts to confirm that images of Madia were in fact darkened. Paulsen’s campaign got in trouble earlier this fall for insisting that Madia did not “fit the demographics” of the district, in what serves as a reminder that the presidential race could have gotten far uglier. [Update: Politico's Reid Wilson is far more skeptical of Democratic complaints than that TV station.]

In MN-06, finally, the DCCC’s second ad hitting Michelle Bachmann once again makes no mention of the anti-Americanism controversy - nor does it need to, since the comments have already gotten wide play in the district. What Democrats now need to do is convince voters that Bachmann is extremist on substantive issues as well, and for the second ad in a row the DCCC is focusing on one issue: regulation.

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q740nXMu0ZI"]

In the other district in which an incumbent’s recent words have gravely endangered his reelection prospects, the NRCC has released a very hard hitting ad against Rep. Jack Murtha (PA-12), playing footage of his declaring that Western Pennsylvania is “racist” and “redneck” to make the case that Murtha does not “respect us:”

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSmUQdZG2D4"]

Murtha and Bachmann’s races both appear to have turned into highly competitive seats over the past two weeks. Will they balance themselves out on Election Day? Given his seniority and the fact that he is a very entrenched incumbent, Murtha is far more likely to survive than his opponent - though he certainly is not helping himself.


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DCCC goes on one of its last spending sprees

With a week remaining before Election Day, all campaigns and national committees are budgeting their final advertising push and buying media time to last them through November 4th. The DCCC has poured in nearly $15 million in almost 40 districts already this week. More investments are likely to come today and tomorrow, first because the DCCC has left out a number of districts in which it regularly invests and because it appears that the NRCC has yet to make its last round of expenditures. But the DCCC’s $14 million latest spending spree gives us a good idea of which seats Democrats are the most committed to. (Most of the following numbers come from SSP’s always very handy House expenditure tracker.)

In three districts did the DCCC go for broke; all are currently held by the GOP: In IL-10, the DCCC just poured in an impressive $929,279, bringing its total investment in the district to more than $2 million. (This is partly explained by the fact that IL-10 is in the expensive Chicago market). In NV-03, the DCCC bought more than $750,000 of air time against Rep. Porter, bringing its total to more than $2.3 million. And in IL-11, $600,000 worth of advertisement (and a total that surpasses $2 million) should help Debbie Halvorson win this open seat.

Another group of seats - here again predominantly GOP-held - saw massive investments of more than $500,000. Those include the once-safe AZ-03, NC-08, NH-01, NM-01, OH-15 (the total surpasses $2 million in each of these five districts), MN-06 (the DCCC has now spent more than $1 million in two weeks on Bachmann’s seat) and the conservative NM-02 (for a total of $1.5 million). This makes New Hampshire’s Carol Shea-Porter the most protected Democratic incumbent, and confirms the remarkable development by which the DCCC has poured more effort in AZ-03 than in many seats that were more obviously competitive.

Also notable are the DCCC’s expenditures that top $400,000. Here again the list is made up of Republican seats: MD-01, MN-03 and OH-01 (total spending in each now tops $2 million), MI-07 and MI-09 (total spending in each tops $1 million), CA-04 and NY-26. Between $200,000 and $400,000, we have AZ-01 (an open seat that is considered an easy Democratic pick-up but where the DCCC has now spent more than $2 million), CO-04, KY-02, MO-09, FL-24 (all now more than $1 million total), FL-21, FL-25, NE-02, OH-02, NY-29, FL-08, IN-03 and IN-09. Rounding up six-figure expenditures are AK-AL, CA-11, CT-04, LA-06, NJ-03 and NJ-07 (all more than $1 million total), AL-05, ID-01, KS-02.

A few observations about this spending spree. First, the DCCC did not expand the map this week. The only new seat they invested in yesterday is FL-08, a district that has looked highly competitive for weeks and that I just moved to the lean take-over category this past week-end. Also noteworthy is NE-02, where the DCCC’s media buy this week is eight times higher than it was last week. However, there are a number of districts we have been talking about lately in which the DCCC is not playing despite the massive loan it took last week; those include California’s seats, IA-04, FL-13, FL-18 or even SC-01 where the DCCC has not followed up on a small investment it made last week. Furthermore, the national committee appears to have given up on MO-06, which was once considered a top opportunity but in which the DCCC has not bought air time for two weeks now.

Second, Democrats seem to be very comfortable about playing defense. They have largely pulled out of AZ-05, AZ-08 or MS-01, all districts that the GOP had high hopes of contesting; they have not had to spend a dime in places like KS-03 or NY-20, seats Republicans had vowed to contest. And they do not seem to feel particular energy in many of the blue seats in which they are investing. However, we do know that the DCCC is starting to air this ad in PA-12 on behalf of Murtha, though they have yet to report that expenditure.

The NRCC, meanwhile, posted a few expenditures over the past two days though a lot more should come tonight. Noteworthy investments include $375,000 spent in WY-AL, more than $250,000 in NE-02 and MO-09, more than $100,000 in MO-06, IN-03. What do all these districts have in common? They are extremely heavily Republican (Bush won IN-03 with 68% of the vote, for instance, and let us not even talk about WY-AL) and Republican candidates are in such a bad state that the NRCC is forced to spend its money in such districts.

(There is something to be said against the NRCC’s decision making, and we might talk about this more in the coming week: Swing seats like NM-01 or OH-16 will likely be lost for a decade or more if Democrats pick them up, yet the NRCC is not spending a dime there. Conservative seats like WY-AL or IN-03 would be likely to fall back into GOP hands in the coming cycle or two, but the NRCC is spending all of its resources in such places.)

Let’s take a closer look at Southern Florida, where the battles in FL-21 and in FL-25 have become truly vicious. Both seats are in the same Miami media market, and they are represented by the (Republican) Diaz-Balart brothers. So Democrats have decided to save money - and just air an ad targeting both Diaz-Balarts:

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpMgxd3aiWo"]

The GOP’s response in FL-25 is also fascinating because it bears such a close resemblance to what is going on in the presidential race. Democratic candidate Joe Garcia is blasted for being in favor of “redistribution of the wealth,” underscoring how much Republicans are banking on Joe the Plumber at this point:

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTm91xZQhl0"]


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Spending, spending, spending (and some cutbacks)

It might be very little compared to a $700 billion bailout, but it’s a lot of money but most other standards: Every presidential, congressional and gubernatorial campaign saved its ammunition for these final two weeks, and money is now flying left and right.

In this game of piling expenditures, woe to whoever is left behind! Or should some cutbacks perhaps be taken as good news by candidates? The Denver Post reveals tonight that the DSCC will pull-out of the Colorado Senate race because it feels that Mark Udall is now in a “commanding position” - a remarkable decision by a party committee that has a lot of cash, and a clear sign that Chuck Schumer wants to spend as much of it as possible in Georgia and Kentucky.

(While true that Schaffer has not in a single poll all year and that Udall has been ahead by double-digits in some of the latest surveys, Udall hasn’t exactly been able to put the race away either and a number of independent groups are in the state pummeling Udall, so the DSCC better be sure of what it’s doing. On the other hand, the NRSC appears to have pulled out of Colorado as well, and Udall had far more cash on hand than Schaffer at the end of the third quarter, guaranteeing that Udall has a substantial advantage in the final stretch.)

Two Republican congressmen for whom a cutback could be disastrous news, however, are Reps. Musgrave and Bachmann of CO-04 and MN-06. In the former, the NRCC bought $375,000 of air time for this week yesterday, but it will not be spending anything in the final week of the campaign. (Could they not have decided that yesterday and saved themselves the $376,000?) In MN-06, the NRCC had not yet invested any money but had reserved ad time for the final two weeks; no longer.

(It is more difficult to know what to make of this Minnesota cutback: It is certainly not a sign of confidence on the part of the NRCC given that the race just became highly competitive 5 days ago, so could it be a concession? While Bachmann is viewed as more vulnerable today than she was before her rant on anti-Americanism, she doesn’t seem to be vulnerable enough at all for Republicans to despair of holding her seat. Perhaps the GOP saw how much money Democrats were preparing to pour in the district and realized there was no way it could even attempt to match that?)

While the NRCC is busy deciding which of its incumbents to abandon, the DCCC is deciding which safe-looking red districts it should spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in. The result of their deliberation resulted in a stunning new spending spree in 51 districts (SSP has the full list) - six of which are first time investments: KS-02, CA-04, MN-06, SC-01, WV-02 and WY-AL!

The most fascinating of these buys is no doubt KS-02, as Rep. Nancy Boyda had insisted that the DCCC pull out of the district because she wanted to run the campaign herself; the DCCC had canceled its reservations. But now that GOP challenger finished the third quarter in a strong position financially, national Democrats apparently decided they couldn’t afford to stay true to their word. But consider a minute the three latter districts I just listed: We knew that CA-04 and WY-AL were highly competitive, but it is still remarkable to see Democrats spend more than $200,000 in such conservative areas - and let’s not even talk of SC-01, which was on no one’s radar screen as of one week ago.

The rest of the DCCC’s investment covers districts they have already been spending in, but some of their expenditures remain nonetheless breathtaking in their attempt to expand the map onto red territory. And consider that this money comes on top of the $4 million the DCCC spent on Monday and Tuesday in other districts. (I reviewed those expenditures here.) That brings the DCCC’s total expenditures over the past three days to about $16 million; the NRCC, meanwhile, spent around $5 million.

In a number of districts, the DCCC is going all-out. They just spent more than $400,000 in 8 districts (to which we should add NC-08 and IL-10, in which they spent more than that amount yesterday). More than $643,000 is being spent on NV-03 for this week alone! The DCCC is spending nearly $600,000 in IL-11, more than $500,000 in NH-01, NJ-03 and OH-01, more than $400,000 in IN-09, MN-06 and VA-11.

The committee has now spent more than $1 million in all of these districts except MN-06, even though it is somewhat puzzling that they are choosing to pour so much money in IN-09 and VA-11, two districts in which the Democratic candidates are now heavily favored (particularly in VA-11). Might that money not have been better spent elsewhere? The same was true of the $300,000 the DCCC spent yesterday in AZ-01, bringing its total there to nearly $2 million.

That said, the rest of this money will go a long way towards boosting Democrats who are facing tough races (Shea-Porter, for instance) or who are on the brink of putting the race away (NV-03 and IL-11). An investment that could prove particularly important is NJ-03: GOP candidate Myers has been unexpectedly competitive in this open seat, but state Senator Adler has a huge financial advantage in what is an expensive district to advertise in. With this much money spent by the DCCC, Adler will swamp Myers, whose main hope now is that New Jersey voters are fed up with Democrats.

The DCCC also spent significant amounts (more than $300,000) against the Diaz-Balart brothers in FL-21 and FL-25, in the pair of contested Michigan districts (MI-07 and MI-09), in MO-09, NM-02, NY-26, NY-29, OH-16 and VA-02. More than $200,000 were poured into CA-04, CA-11, FL-24, MN-03, NM-01, OH-02, OH-15, TX-23, VA-05, WV-02, WY-AL and 8 more districts saw (including IN-03, KY-02 and NE-02) buys of more than $100,000. What is once again remarkable is the depth of the Democrats’ investment: they are leaving almost no stone unturned - extending their buys to places few Democrats were even dreaming of a week ago and pouring huge amounts of money in some of the second-tier races they are hoping to take-over.

It is hard to think of GOP-held districts that could potentially be vulnerable and that the DCCC has not invested in. Perhaps the California districts we have been hearing about over the past week? Meanwhile, the NRCC is struggling to keep up. Apart opening its wallets in 20 districts yesterday, it spent in a few more today, but only crossed the six figure mark in IN-03, KY-02 and NE-02, NV-03 - all GOP-held districts, two of which were not deemed vulnerable as of 14 days ago (IN-03 and NE-02). For the GOP, the bottom is falling out. How much can they now salvage?


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Congress: NRCC spends money (!), Stevens trial enters final stage

Spending: After weeks of holding back on TV advertisements because of its meager budget, the NRCC finally unloaded over the past two days, buying more than $4 million worth of ads in a total of 20 districts. And some of these buys are quite large - perhaps unexpectedly so.

Over the past two days, the NRCC spent more than $400,000 in two red district (MN-03 and WA-08), $300,000 or more in CO-04, MI-07, NH-01 and PA-11, more than $200,000 in MO-09, NY-26, NY-29, OH-02 and OH-15, more than $100,000 in LA-06, MO-06, NJ-03, NJ-07, OH-01, PA-03 and WI-08 and less than $100,000 in AL-02 and AL-05. (Alabama media markets are inexpensive, so the NRCC’s spending those two districts is substantial.)

To this list should also be added districts in which the NRCC bought ad time at the end of last week, so that they will not have to invest more money to stay on air for a few more days. Those include: FL-21, ID-01, VA-02. Furthermore, Politico reports that the NRCC has just made expenditures it has not yet reported (and will likely do so by tonight) in three more districts, KY-02, IN-03 and NE-02 - three very conservative districts, the latter two of which were not expected to be competitive as of a month ago.

This spending offers a fascinating window into the GOP’s view of which blue seats are competitive and which red states are salvageable or deserve defending. Some omissions of vulnerable red seats continue to be glaring, particularly FL-24, NM-01, NC-08, NV-03, OH-16. That the NRCC is spending so much money helping Rep. Walberg in MI-07 while investing nothing in Rep. Knollenberg’s MI-09 is telling of the latter’s vulnerabilities. However, there are some surprises in the list.

The first is MN-03, the heated open seat in which the GOP has just poured in a huge amount of money: a week ago, the NRCC was reported to be moving out of the district and allocating that budget to MN-06 (Bachmann’s seat) instead. Clearly, the NRCC has since then decided that the district is still winnable. Similarly, Reps. Musgrave and Kuhl in CO-04 and NY-29 look to be trailing, so it is curious that the NRCC has decided to invest some of its limited expenditures into saving them. The calculation is surely that it is always easier to pull incumbents through rather than salvage open seats or help challengers.

Meanwhile, the DCCC posted far less expenditures yesterday than it usually does on Tuesday, including a strange omission of a number of seats in which it has been on air for weeks (the New Mexico, Ohio and New Jersey open seats, for instance). That suggests that there are still DCCC expenditures to come today, which will up the Democrats’ total (they have, after all, a lot of money to spend), but a few investments are very noteworthy.

The ease with which the DCCC invests amounts which appear prodigious when spent by the NRCC tells us all we need to know about the parties’ financial disparity. The DCCC just poured in a stunning $566K in IL-10. This is an extensive district to spend in because of the Chicago media market, certainly, but it is certainly a large buy - especially considering that Rep. Kirk appears to be gaining in recent polls. The committee spend more than $400,000 in NC-08, bringing its total investment in that district to nearly $2 million (the NRCC has spent nothing). The new spending is more than $300,000 in AZ-01, AZ-03, CO-04, MD-01 and almost reaches $200,000 in AL-02 (as I said, that is a lot of money to spend in an Alabama media market).

Given that nearly everyone has long expected AZ-01 to be among the easiest pick-ups for Democrats, it is somewhat bizarre that the DCCC is pouring that much money in the district, but that is their only defensive-looking move (if that can be said about a red district). Apart from that, the overall picture is as remarkable as last week: The NRCC is building a firewall in second-to-third tier seats while the DCCC is spending heavily on seats it should not even be thinking about: more than $700,000 of Democratic money spent in one day in AZ-03 and MD-01?! Who would have thought that would be possible just four weeks ago?

Alaska: Ted Stevens’s trial enters its final stage today, as the case will be handed to the jury which will start its deliberations. The always-useful Anchorage Daily News provides an overview of yesterday’s closing arguments - and through them a recap of what has happened in the trial over the past month. While Stevens’s defense made some important gains over the past month - in particular getting the judge to throw out some evidence - the trial’s last few days were not kind to the Alaska Senator. The government’s chief attorney got Stevens to lose his temper at times during his cross-examination, and she ridiculed his claim that a chair that had been in his house for seven years was a “loan” rather than “a gift.”

As soon as the jury returns, we shall have a much better idea of the dynamics of the race, as it is looking more likely every day that the trial’s verdict will also decide Stevens’ electoral fate. A new just-released Ivan Moore poll confirms that Stevens has closed the gap and that the race is now a dead heat; an acquittal would be likely to boost Stevens on top, while a guilty verdict would make it difficult for him to pull through. But what happens if the jury only partially acquits Stevens? He is, after all, being tried on seven different charges, so a guilty verdict might not be as damning as the prosecution would want it to be.


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Rating changes, House edition: When will the map stop expanding?

House Republicans finally got some great news this week as Tim Mahoney’s scandals in FL-16 pushes the first Democratic seat in the likely take-over category. Yet, it is House Democrats who continue to improve their standing, putting an increasing number of seats in play in what is shaping up as a repeat of the 2006 campaign. Of this week’s 19 rating changes, 17 favor Democrats, and 8 new GOP-held districts are added to the ratings.

Of course, it is highly unlikely that Democrats will pick up more than a couple of the third-tier races that are now appearing on our radar screen. But capturing just one of the four California districts that have just been added to these ratings (CA-03, CA-26, CA-46 and CA-50) would already be an upset of epic proportions that would signal that Democrats are enjoying a huge wave that could put 2006 to shame; picking-up none would in no way endanger their prospects of scoring great gains. There are already 36 GOP-held seats that are rated likely take-over, lean take-over or toss-up.

The DCCC’s financial advantage should ensure that few stones are left unturned. The committee just secured a $15 million loan (days after the NRCC took out an $8 million line of credit) ensuring that Democrats will have money to invest in races that just two weeks ago were viewed as long-shots and at the very least test the vulnerability of Republican incumbents.

  • Safe Democratic: 198 seats (=)
  • Likely/Safe Democratic: 212 seats (+2)
  • Lean/Likely/Safe Democratic: 241 seats (+3)
  • Toss-ups: 25 seats (-2)
  • Lean/Likely/Safe Republican: 168 seats
  • Likely/Safe Republican: 157 seats (+1)
  • Safe Republican: 132 seats (-8)

Full ratings available here.

AZ-08, lean Democratic to likely Democratic: Republicans had high hope for state Senate President Tim Bee, but Rep. Giffords looks too strong for the GOP to defeat in this Democratic year - not to mention that Giffords has been one of the strongest fundraisers among endangered Democrats. Now, the DCCC has canceled the rest of its TV reservations after spending more than $300,000 helping Giffords, a sure sign that national Democrats feel confident about Giffords’ prospects. The NRCC cannot come to Bee’s help, meaning that the two candidates are now on their own - and Giffords had far more cash on hand at the end of September than her opponent.

CA-03, off the map to likely Republican: In what is a rematch of the 2006 race, GOP Rep. Dan Lungren has not been very worried about this re-election race (he only raised $190,000 in the third quarter) but Democrat Bill Durston no longer appears like the long-shot he was just two weeks ago. An internal Durston poll showed him within 3% of the incumbent; Lungren replied with two internal polls showing him with big leads - but under 50%.

CA-11, toss-up to lean Democratic: When Rep. McNerney picked up the seat in 2006, the GOP was determined to make sure he served one term in what is a Republican district. But former state Rep. Dean Andal has not proved as strong a candidate as Republicans were hoping he would be. While he ends up in a competitive position financially as of the end of September, McNerney outspent him 8:1 in the second quarter, which allowed him to solidify his position - especially when you add the almost $1 million of television ads NARPAC is spending on McNerney’s behalf. Meanwhile, a recent SUSA poll gave McNerney an 11% edge.

CA-26, off the map to likely Republican: Rep. David Dreier has been in office for 28 years in a GOP-leaning district. Should that not be enough to guarantee his re-election? Perhaps in another year, but Dreier is one of many Republicans who should be very careful in the coming weeks. Russ Warner is a credible enough candidate that he could be in a position of making the race unexpectedly competitive if there is a strong blue wave.

CA-46, off the map to likely Republican: Rep. Dana Rohrabacher was nowhere on our radar screen, but Huntington Beach Mayor Debbie Cook appears to have a chance at scoring a big upset. While we have gotten no hard numbers from the race, a Capitol Weekly article reveals that Republican internals have the race within the margin of error! Cook’s third quarter fundraising was good, but she ended September with only $30,284. She will need the DCCC’s help to make this any more competitive.

CA-50, off the map to likely Republican: While conservative, this district is not as overwhelmingly Republican than some of the others Democrats are now eying (Bush got 55% of the vote in 2004). Rep. Brian Bilbray got elected in a highly competitive special election in 2006 after the DCCC spent millions on his behalf. Now, there is some buzz forming around Democratic candidate Nick Leibham, who recently released a poll showing Bilbray leading by only 2%. Bilbray quickly responded with an internal survey that had him leading 48% to 35%, a more comfortable margin but another sign that Bilbray isn’t as safe as we thought. The race remains a difficult one for Democrats, but Leibham outraised Bilbray in the third quarter and he could pull off an upset if the DCCC joins in the fun.

FL-16, toss-up to likely Republican: Rep. Tim Mahoney was elected to replace Mike Foley two years ago - and now he himself is embroiled in a massive sex scandal that includes charges of pay-off and harassment. Pelosi has called for an investigation, Republicans are having a field day and Mahoney’s re-election prospects have fallen so low that even the NRCC moved out of the district: they don’t even see the need to spend any money to ensure the seat falls in their lap. A recent GOP poll had Tom Rooney leading by more than 20%, confirming that this race is over.

FL-24, toss-up to lean Democratic: While this week’s internal DCCC poll showing Suzanne Kosmas leading by 23% seems very much inflated, Rep. Tom Feeney is certainly slipping because of how central ethical concerns have become to this race. Feeney himself aired an ad apologizing for his involvement with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. While he might have had to do so to earn voters’ good will, his move ensured that Abramoff was at the forefront of voters’ minds. The DCCC has spent more than $600,000 on tough ads that bring up the Abramoff scandal; in the most recent spot, a woman asks “How effective could my Representative be if he’s being investigated by the FBI?”

IN-03, off the map to lean Republican: This is an extremely Republican district (Bush got 68% of the vote in 2004), and that is precisely why it was so surprising that Rep. Souder was held to 54% of the vote in 2006 against a massively underfunded Democratic opponent. This year, Souder is facing Mike Montagano, perhaps not a top-tier candidate but certainly a credible one. And contrary to the 2006 candidate, Montagano will be funded: The DCCC has decided to invest in the race, in what is perhaps the biggest surprise of the past week. The committee has already bought $150,000 worth of advertisement and more is on the way. A recent internal poll for Montagano had Souder leading by 5%, though the trendline favored the Democrat: Souder retains an edge, but the race has suddenly become very competitive.

KY-02, toss-up to lean Republican: This seat was the most chaotic of the cycle until NY-13 came around, and Democrats were excited that they had an excellent chance in this conservative a district. Polls taken throughout the spring and the summer suggested that state Senator Boswell had a slight lead. Yet, this is one the rare districts that have moved towards the GOP over the past few weeks. (SUSA has GOP candidate state Senator Guthrie gaining for the second month in a row to jump to a 9% lead, and the Boswell campaign’s internal numbers have the Democrat’s lead falling from 7% to 1%, with a lot of undecideds. This is an open seat in a conservative area, making it likely that undecideds would break towards Guthrie.) One possible explanation for Guthrie gains’ is that the DCCC’s involvement here has backfired: the committee’s attack ads were blasted as untrustworthy by the local media, putting Boswell on the defensive.

LA-06, lean Republican to toss-up: Rep. Cazayoux became one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents when fellow Democrat Michael Jackson announced he would mount an independent bid. In this Republican a district, a Democrat needs to mobilize the African-Amerian vote, and Jackson’s candidacy threatens to divide a key constituency. Yet, Democrats have released two internal polls over the past few months showing Cazayoux crushing GOP candidate Bill Cassidy, with Jackson in single digits. I have trouble believing that two Democratic candidates could receive 30% more than the Republican nominee in a district that gave Bush 59% of the vote in 2004, but the GOP has not released an internal poll of their own. I might not (yet) moving LA-06 to lean Democratic, but it is clear that Cassidy does not have the edge I thought he would.

MD-01, lean Republican to toss-up: The GOP primary between Andy Harris and Rep. Gilchrest appears to have left deep wounds that has given Democratic nominee Frank M. Kratovil a chance at a major upset in a very conservative district. Democratic internal polls are showing the race is a dead heat, and the GOP is not moving to contradict that. At the end of September, the DCCC decided to invest in the district - and they have already spent more than $900,000! Meanwhile, Harris is being helped by Club for Growth, which has spent more than $300,000 on his behalf. Demorats picking-up MD-01 would be the sign of a big blue wave.

MN-03, toss-up to lean Democratic: The battle between Ashwin Madia and Erik Paulsen was shaping up to be highly competitive, but an open seat in a swing district is prime pick-up territory for Democrats in a year whose fundamentals favor them - particularly after the past month. Complicating Paulsen’s task further is that the NRCC canceled a lot of the money it was going to spend on his behalf to invest it in neighboring MN-06 instead; on the other hand, the DCCC has already spent more than $1.2 million dollars! Without national help, Paulsen will be swamped by Democratic attacks.

M0-09, lean Republican to toss-up: This is one of those few districts the NRCC has invested in. That is both a sign that the party is worried about losing this conservative-leaning district and a sign that they think it is salvagable, putting the race right in the toss-up category. But the DCCC is making sure to significantly outspend the NRCC ($400,000 to $100,000). A further problem for Republicans: their nominee Blaine Luetkemeyer finished September with a stunningly low $43,000. That means that Luetkemeyer absolutely needs the national help he is getting just to stay financially viable.

NC-10, off the map to likely Republican: Rep. McHenry has been mentioned as a potentially vulnerable Republican incumbent for months, but in a district that Bush won with 67% of the vote in 2004, a GOP candidate is allowed the benefit of the doubt. Yet, Democrats believe their candidate Daniel Johnson has a chance at offsetting the district’s Republican balance. Given how much progress Democrats appear to have made in the state, that is certainly possible. Johnson has been added to the Red to Blue program, and he will need DCCC spending to make this really competitive.

NY-20, lean Democratic to likely Democratic: Rep. Gillbrand has proved one of the strongest Democratic fundraisers, while Republican candidate Sandy Treadwell has been unable to get much traction - and is unlikely to do so without the NRCC’s help (which will not come). The district might be leaning Republican, but Gillbrand is strongly positioned to win re-election.

OR-05, lean Democratic to likely Democratic: Once one of the Republicans’ top pick-up opportunities, the district is rapidly drifting towards Democrats. Republican candidate Mike Erickson has been involved in a series of (abortion and ethics-related) scandals that have prevented him from gaining any traction and truly endangering state Senator Kirk Schrader, the Democratic nominee. The DCCC isn’t even spending any money on the district, a testament to how comfortable Democrats are feeling about the race. A recent SUSA poll had Schrader leading by 13%.

SC-01, off the map to likely Republican: This is a heavy Republican district (it gave 61% of its vote to Bush in 2004) and Rep. Brown was certainly not supposed to face a competitive race. He was unopposed in 2004 and got 60% of the vote two years later. But Democrats are running a very wealthy candidate, Linda Ketner, who is spending a lot of her own money (she outspent Brown 3:1 in the third quarter). In a Democratic year, that at least gives her a fighting chance.

SC-02, off the map to likely Republican: This race is even more of a long-shot than SC-01 because Democratic candidate Rob Miller does not have the financial advantage enjoyed by Linda Ketner, but Rep. Joe Wilson should nonetheless be careful. This is a district where an increased share in black turnout could have a big impact, as a quarter of the district’s residents is African-American.

Full ratings available here.

And I will conclude with a word about MN-06. I had already moved the seat from likely Republican to lean Republican last week, and it is too early to move it to the toss-up column. But Rep. Michelle Bachmann’s  McCarthyesque rant on MSNBC yesterday immediately ensured that this seat becomes one of the hottest races of the final two weeks (it is worth also watching Katrina Vanden Heuvel’s reaction):

The DCCC has yet to invest in the race but sources tell me they are likely to do so. And Bachmann’s opponent Ed Tinklenberg has raised at least (a jaw-dropping) $175,000 since yesterday evening!

Update: The Tinklenberg campaign announced it raised an incredible $438,000 in the 24 hours after Bachmann’s appearance on MSNBC.


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RNCC works on firewall, DCCC invests in new districts and passes $1 million mark in many

As the time comes for the party committees to buy time for the upcoming week, the DCCC’s ability to flex its financial muscle and will seats to become competitive once again makes itself felt. The DCCC spent more than $8 million on more than 40 districts, moved in four new races it had not yet spent any money on while seemingly withdrawing from two, and passed the $1 million mark in a number of these contests. The GOP, by contrast, appear to have largely given up on playing offense and are building a firewall around a few incumbents; the NRCC’s meager resources hardly allow it to dream of a better defense.

As always, the DCCC and NRCC decision to invest will not make a candidate, though a decision to pull out can certainly break an underfunded challenger or a swamped incumbent. But beyond illustrating the two parties’ financial disparities, a detailed look at where the two parties are spending money lays out the electoral map and tells us which seats people who are paid to track House races full-time (and who have inside information and polling we do not have access to) think will be competitive, or not.

With that said, let’s use our now familiar classification to break down the latest House expenditures:

  • Republican investments

The GOP is in such a difficult financial situation that its mere decision to spend money on a race says a lot about how they view (and how their private polling tells them to view) a race. If the GOP is spending money on a race that is supposed to be competitive, it means they think that this particular seat is more likely to be saved than others; if they spend money on a race that was not yet viewed as that competitive, it means we probably don’t have enough information and that district is indeed highly vulnerable.

In the latter category is FL-21, where the NRCC just spent more than $500,000. This district is in Miami’s media market, so advertising there is difficult. The DCCC has not spent any money on the district for now, however, so the GOP might be successful in building a firewall here. (More on the GOP’s FL-21 efforts below.) Also in the latter category is MO-06, where incumbent Sam Graves is not currently considered to be in as much trouble as other Republicans - but the NRCC is evidently worried about his prospects and intent on keeping him, as they spent more than $100,000 in one their only six-figure investments to date.

In the former category is NM-01, the open seat that I am currently rating lean take-over. The NRCC is not spending money here, but Freedom’s Watch and the Republican Campaign Committee of New Mexico are each spending more than $200,000. (Democrats are spending heavily in both NM-01 and MO-06.) The NRCC also threw in modest amounts in LA-06, PA-03 and WI-08. (Update: It looks like the RNCC is looking to spend a lot of money in NH-01 - as much as $400,000, confirming its strategy of putting a lot of money in a handful of races.)

  • New DCCC investments

Democrats are now spending for the first time in four districts, two of which are obvious choices (CO-04 and NY-29) and two of which are true shockers (IN-03 and NE-02). While it might be surprising that the DCCC has not opened its wallet to hit Musgrave yet, the congresswoman has been hit by more than half-a-million worth of advertisement by the Defenders of Wildlife PAC, and that might have convinced the DCCC that its involvement was not (yet) needed. But now that the DCCC is moving in, it is clearly determined to make a splash: its first buy is an impressive $345,000.

As for IN-03 and NE-02, they demonstrate the Democrats’ determination to expand the map: neither of these seats was supposed to be even close to competitive, and I confess IN-03 isn’t even on my House ratings for now. That will be corrected soon, as the DCCC’s decision to invest a serious amount of money (it has already bought more than $150,000 and has committed about half-a-million) means that the district is indeed competitive. Democrats aren’t bluffing in NE-02 either, as they have brought more than $130,000 worth of ads.

  • Districts where the DCCC has now spent more than $1 million

This is not a guarantee that the Democratic candidate will, but it certainly means that the DCCC has put a high priority in winning these races: AK-AL, AZ-01, AZ-03 (!), AZ-05, MN-03, NC-08, NH-01, NJ-07, OH-15, OH-16. In other districts, the total passes $1 million when the DCCC’s investment is added to that of NARPAC (National Association of Realtors). In PA-11, for instance, that total reaches $1.8 million; if Rep. Kanjorski loses reelection, it will just how incredibly vulnerable he had become.

  • Districts the DCCC is playing defense

The DCCC continued to invest in AL-05 (now almost half-a-million total), CA-11, AZ-05 (nearly $250,000 this week, bringing the total to $1.2 million), LA-06, MS-01, NH-01 (the total now reaches $1.2 million), PA-10, TX-23 and WI-08. More surprising is the DCCC’s decision to dump huge resources in IN-09 (almost $300,000 this week), a district that looks increasingly safe for Baron Hill. However, the DCCC looks to have stopped advertising in FL-16 (Mahoney’s district…) and AZ-08, where Rep. Giffords looks relatively secure. Both districts could be moved accordingly in my upcoming rating changes.

  • Districts that were not so long ago considered long shots

I already mentioned IN-03 and NE-02, but those are just the tip of the iceberg as the DCCC continues to pour in money in races that were not considered that competitive as of this summer! New spending in AL-02 raises the total to more than half-a-million, an impressive sum for this relatively cheap media market. The DCCC’s spending totals in AZ-03 are truly staggering, as this is a district no one thought of as that competitive until ten days ago - and the DCCC just dumped in about $369,000. In MD-01, a large new buy brings the Democratic total to almost $900,000. (The Club for Growth is helping the Republican here with more than $200,000). Other noteworthy buys in this category are KY-02, MO-09, NM-02, PA-03, VA-02. In all these districts, the DCCC is not bluffing and is putting serious money behind its hopes of riding a blue tsunami.

  • Districts Democrats were expecting to pick-up more easily

Most of the DCCC’s biggest overall expenditures belong in this category, in what is at the same time good news for Democrats (it allows them to solidify their prospects) but also disappointing ones (since they would have liked to spend some of money elsewhere). Perhaps the most surprising development is the DCCC’s decision to invest nearly $350,000 in AZ-01 (bringing the total to $1.3 million), a race Democrats are expected to win relatively easily. The DCCC also just spent more than $200,000 in NM-01, OH-15 and OH-16 (bringing the total in each to more than $1 million), three open seats that Democrats are one point were hoping to have an easier time with. Other districts in this category are IL-11, NJ-03, NJ-07 and VA-11.

  • Districts that are and were expected to be competitive

This category contains the least surprising ad buys since the races were expected to be competitive since the beginning. Particularly noteworthy buys include the DCCC’s buy of about $300,000 in NC-08 (total of more than $1.3 million), more than $200,000 in MI-07, NV-03, NY-26, OH-01 and WA-08. Combined with AFSCME’s spending, the Democratic buys in MI-07 have an impressive size. The DCCC also spent in CT-04, FL-26, IL-10, MI-09, MN-03 and MO-06.

While it would be too long to take a detailed look at the committees’ new ads, it is worth taking a quick look at the themes these new spots are emphasizing. On the Democratic side, the day’s biggest news undoubtedly comes from the DCCC’s decision to heavily invest in IN-03 and attack longtime Representative Souder for having been changed by Washington:

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eijpzkDXfIM"]

On the Republican size, the biggest news by far is the RNCC’s massive investment in FL-21. The GOP might have chosen this district because of the scandals that have long surrounded Democratic candidate Raul Martinez, a controversial figure who has enough baggage for the GOP to seize easily. The ad’s closer says it all - “We know Martinez is corrupt enough for Washington, but that doesn’t mean we should send him there:”

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JroM8wR1sCQ"]


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Down-ballot: Bailout backlash, heated ad wars, GOP lead in NY-26 and tie in WY-AL

Last night, I explained that the bailout package has the potential of rocking congressional races over the next few weeks, as challengers from both parties are likely to campaign against any deal that is struck. While most of the opposition is coming from House Republicans right now, it is a Democrat - Jeff Merkley - who aired the first ad bringing up the bailout.

But it is another Democrat, Rep. Kanjorski (PA-11) who could be the most endangered if there is any voter backlash against the bailout. Kanjorski is a chairman of the subcommittee on capital markets, and is heavily involved in the Capitol Hill negotiations. A Politico piece about the race specifies that Republican Lou Barletta is “cautiously supporting” a bailout, but he will not have to cast a vote on it and he is looking to attack Kanjorski on related topics - for instance campaign contributions he received from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In Florida, it is a Democratic challenger who is using the exact same argument - questioning how much oversight Rep. Feeney (FL-24) could have exercised when he was taking contributions from the mortgage industry.

Meanwhile, the ad wars are heating up in the final stretch before the election - so much so that some are now starting to hurt those that are airing them. In KY-02, the DCCC’s decision to invest in the race in this conservative district was viewed as a major development a few days ago. But a local TV station has decided to pull the ad off the air after advice from its counsel. The ads charged that the company GOP candidate Guthrie works for shipped jobs to Mexico, something the Guthrie campaign denied, threatening legal action. Anytime a TV station is moved to pull an ad, it is obviously a major victory for the candidate who was under attack as it allows him to complain about their opponent’s negativity and put him on the defensive.

Meanwhile, Wayne Parker, the Republican candidate in AL-05 is airing an ad against Democrat Parker Griffith, a former radiation oncologist. The ad uses an internal peer review that Parker obtained that charges that Griffith under-radiated patients at his cancer treatment center in order to generate more future revenues. The ad suggests that such allegations led Griffith to leave the hospital:

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhYOcP2JKFo"]

Meanwhile, let’s take a look at some polls from down-the-ballot races - starting with statewide votes:

  • SUSA finds that California’s Proposition 8 could still pass, as the yes vote is trailing only 49% to 44%.
  • Merkley leads 45% to 40% in a Research 2000 poll of Oregon’s Senate race. This is the second poll in a row to find the Democrat taking a lead, the first to have him ahead outside of the MoE.
  • Shaheen only leads 41% to 40% in a Suffolk poll of New Hampshire’s Senate race.

The conventional wisdom appears to be that Prop 8 banning gay marriage is heading to defeat, but polling data has suggested that the contest could go either way, with the no (the pro-gay marriage position) only holding a narrow advantage. One reassuring thought for “no” proponents is that the “no” tends to gain as Election Day approaches as undecideds usually break towards that vote - but that might be more applicable in the case of confusing proposals.

The four Senate polls find results that are very interesting - though not surprising. In the MS Senate race, Wicker does appear to hold a narrow advantage - something we could not have said a few months ago. In Oregon, however, I believe this is the largest lead Merkley has ever held, and it comes in the heels of a SUSA survey in which Merkley picked up 14% and took a narrow 2% lead. The economic crisis appears to be boosting Democrats in Oregon, and Gordon Smith’s hard hitting crime ads don’t appear to have done him much good.

The most puzzling poll numbers these days are coming from New Hampshire. Sununu seized a 7% lead ever in a Rasmussen poll earlier this week, but that does seem to be an outlier as no other survey is finding Sununu with any sort of lead - let alone one outside of the margin of error. That said, Shaheen does look to be losing ground. Not only is her lead down to single-digits now, but a number of surveys have her leading only within the MoE. The recent ad campaign by the NRSC and by Sununu could be having an effect, as is McCain’s apparently improving the GOP brand in the Granite State.

  • In NY-26, Alice Kryzan trails Republican Chris Lee 48% to 37% in a new SUSA poll. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Kryzan’s primary opponent Jon Powers takes 5% on the Working Families party line, while the candidate on the Independent Party line gets 3% despite the fact that he will not be on the ballot and Lee’s name will be on the IP ballot line. Certainly a tough poll for Democrats in a district they have been looking at for months.
  • In WY-AL, Research 2000 finds a tie at 42% between Democrat Trauner and Republican Lummis. Trauner led by 3% in a poll taken in May. One potential problem for Trauer: Most undecided are Republican voters, which underscores how difficult it will be for him to raise from the low 40s to the high 40s.
  • In NH-01, Rep. Shea-Porter is up 44% to 43% to former Rep. Bradley in the Research 2000 poll. (In NH-02, Rep. Hodes leads 47% to 34%.) The margin of error is a very large 6%, however.
  • In NV-03, Dina Titus released an internal poll showing her leading 46% to 37% against GOP Rep. Porter. A July survey had her up by 4%.
  • In NM-01, an internal poll for the Heinrich campaign finds the Democrat leading Darren White 48% to 42%, up from a 3% lead in June.
  • In KY-02, Brett Guthrie leads 49% to 43% in a new SUSA poll. Democrat David Boswell led by 3% in a June poll, so this is a bounce for the Republican in what is a conservative district.

All six of these districts are highly competitive, and the DCCC has started pouring money in all of them but WY-AL. These polls suggest that all four justify those investments - except perhaps in NY-26, a district many expected to be a strong pick-up opportunity but where Chris Lee starts with a clear lead. Note that a DCCC poll had Kryzan leading by 10%, but it also had a lot of undecided. Meanwhile, Shea-Porter and Bradley are engaged in a heated battle that will likely go down the wire - and the presidential race could have a big impact on who wins this House race.

In NM-01, Heinrich is slightly favored but Democrats were looking to be more secure in this open seat by this point. When looking at these NM-01 and NV-03 surveys, keep in mind that internal polls might need to be taken with a grain of salt, but that trendlines are nevertheless useful - and here they both favor the Democrats. As for KY-02, this is the district in which the DCCC ad was pulled; Republican Guthrie had been trailing in the previous polls, as well as in Boswell internals, so the GOP should be relieved that he appears to be gaining in this conservative district. Guthrie should be further helped by McCain’s coattails. Furthermore, Guthrie has been airing ads for far longer, helping him improve his position.


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Ad wars: DCCC keeps up aggressive spending, invests in deep red KY-02 and MD-01

The NRCC still hasn’t spend a dime of its meager war chest on advertisement for its House candidates, but the DCCC continues to pour money in races across the country. A rundown of the committee’s spending just over the past two days reveals how wide-reaching they are casting their net (via SSP’s always useful expenditure tracker):

  • First, the DCCC is putting some more money in defense, somewhat puzzlingly in AZ-08, more understandably in AL-05, AZ-05 (nearly $170,000) and in FL-16. This is the DCCC’s first investment in FL-16, which is expected to be one of the toughest seats for Democrats to defend.
  • Some of the offensive money is going to open seats that are already considered to be leaning Democratic. Did the DCCC really have to just buy more than $80,000 worth of air time in VA-11? and what about the $183,000 it just spent in AZ-01 yesterday?
  • Then, there is the money that is going to open seats that Democrats were hoping to have already secured by now. Seats like NJ-03, NJ-07, NM-01, OH-15 and OH-16 fall in this category, but this time the only new expenditure is a spending spree in IL-11, bringing the DCCC’s total to more than $700,000, even as Halvorson continues to weaken in recent polls.
  • The DCCC is starting to gear up spending in a third group of states in which it only recently airing ads - seats that are (and were expected to be) toss-ups. The DCCC is up with new spending in MN-03 (nearly $200,000 of ad buys were bought over the past two days), MI-09 and MI-07. In CT-04, the DCCC seems intent to once again go all out against Rep. Shays, with a new media buy bringing the committee’s total to more than $300,000.
  • Finally, and this is by far the most interesting group, the DCCC is pouring some big money in heavily conservative districts, which is a major show of confidence that these seats are actually ripe for pick-up. The DCCC is putting in nearly $100,000 in AL-02, nearly doubling its previous total (that is some significant money in the relatively inexpensive AL market). And the committee is buying air time for the first time in KY-02 (nearly $90,000) and MD-01 (nearly $150,000!).

Those final two races are particularly fascinating, as KY-02 and MD-01 are both open seats that few people would have believed a few months ago could be competitive. But polls have shown both Kentucky’s Boswell (polling history) and Maryland’s Kratovil (via a recent DCCC poll) in a strong position, but the DCCC’s decision to move in is nonetheless remarkable - and certainly reminescent of their decision to contest IL-14, MS-01 and LA-06 this spring. At the time, the GOP could afford to spend back, but that is not an option this time. Whatever money the NRCC has will have to be used on more obviously vulnerable districts.

KY-02 is a district Bush won with 65% of the vote in 2004, so the DCCC’s half-negative/half-positive ad takes the road Democrats take in a state like Kentucky: with a populist message, the ad hits Brett Guthrie for supporting NAFTA and accuse his company of having shipped jobs to Mexico:

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnQCMR_q2JY"]

Another ad that is noteworthy because of how it closely it echoes one we have seen on the presidential race is the DCCC’s spot in CT-04. The spot uses footage of Shays’ saying that the “economy is fundamentally strong” and juxtaposes it to Bush and McCain saying the same thing. The message, of course, is not only that Shays is out of touch but also that he is and will remain a Republican (Shays is the last GOP House member from New England):

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpIVzbJd5R0"]

Meanwhile, the Senate committees are airing ads of their own - and there the NRSC is doing more of an effort to stay on par. As I noted last night, the NRSC has just started airing its first ad in Louisiana; and it has accompanied that with new spots in Colorado, Oregon and Mississippi. While all of these touch on issues that the NRSC has already attacked these Democrats for, the attack against Musgrove is perhaps most noteworthy since it signals the GOP’s determination to use attack Musgrove’s ethics and to scale up its attacks:

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWrifDuOVYI"]

On the Democratic side, the DSCC has a new ad against Coleman; it also released two new spots against Wicker (watch one here) that attack the Mississippi Republican for having voted in favor of his own pay raise 9 times. By itself, that charge doesn’t seem enough to me to get voters to throw out an incumbent, though the DSCC might be able to connect it to a broader narrative. But the most noteworthy ad is the DSCC’s spot against Ted Stevens, as it directly brings up the Senator’s indictment:

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ysM63lmaWY"]

Given that Stevens’s trial is now set to remain in the news almost daily in Alaska for the next four to five weeks, it is not essential for Democrats to attack Stevens on his indictement, but it is essential to tell voters that Stevens would no longer be effective in helping Alaska. Stevens’ main campaign argument is that he has the seniority to bring funds to his state, and this spot argues that Stevens has lost his clout by being stripped of his committee assigments, for instance.



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  • All good things must come to an end

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  • What remains on the table

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  • Confusion in Connecticut (Updated)

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    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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