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Category Archive for ‘MI-09’ at Campaign Diaries
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Archive for the 'MI-09' Category


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Recruitment also picking up in House races

The past few days have brought an avalanche of high-profile decisions in Senate and Governor’s races, which has led me to neglect the latest developments at the House level. Yesterday, the DCCC got excellent news when IL-10 opened up because of Mark Kirk’s statewide run. This is exactly the type of district the party want to conquer: Since it clearly leans blue, a Democratic representative would likely be a reliable vote for the leadership’s priorities and would probably be safe as long as he/she wants to keep the seat.

As such, Kirk’s retirement more than compensates worrisome news Democrats might be getting in vulnerable districts of their own; the same will be true of Jim Gerlach’s PA-06 if he announces a gubernatorial run. Add to that the relief Democrats must be feeling not to have to defend an open seat in South Dakota, and we can say the week hasn’t been half as tough for the DCCC than for the DSCC. That said, Republicans have been scoring plenty of recruitment coups of their own, extending their recent Senate streak down-ballot.

In OH-15, Kilroy will have to up her game

In a district that voted for Obama by 9%, Mary Jo Kilroy underperformed not only in 2008 but also in 2006: Her unexpected defeat against incumbent Deborah Pryce was one of the few bad surprises Democrats received that night. Two years later, Kilroy was favored to win the open seat but only after a month of counting did she take the lead and win the race. Now, her 2008 opponent has announced he’ll seek a rematch: Steve Stivers might no longer be a state Senator, but he’ll make for a credible candidate who already proved himself on the trail and could use his past supporter lists to raise money and build a solid campaign infrastructure.

Yes, Kilroy will have the advantage of running as the incumbent. After two cycles in which she underperformed relatively to other Democrats, perhaps that will help her get the district’s Dem-leaning voters to finally rally by her side. But Kilroy will no longer be boosted by the national environment; she’ll have to reach 50% without relying on the GOP’s toxic brand and on Obama’s coattails. In particular, she could be at risk if turnout drops among the district’s substantial African-American population or if independents turn against the White House.

GOP field in FL-24 gets crowded

What does it say about GOP confidence that they can defeat freshman Rep. Suzanne Kosmas that at least 3 credible Republicans are vying for a shot at the nomination? In a district McCain won by 2%, the NRCC had been touting the candidacy of Winter Park City Councilor Karen Diebel but it now has two new contenders to put forward, both of whom would presumably be a tad stronger than Diebel: state Rep. Dorothy Hukill announced her candidacy earlier this week and state Rep. Sandy Adams has also made it clear she will jump in the race.

Sandy Adams has been in the legislature since 2002. Hukill is the former Mayor of Port Orange, a decently sized seat that should make for a good geographical base, and she occupies Kosmas’s former seat in the state legislature; she’ll surely tout the fact that she’s the first Republican to hold that district as evidence of her electability. One problem Republicans might face, however, is that Florida is one state in which divisive intra-party battles can be damaging: Primaries are held at a late August date, which leaves little time for a nominee to prepare for the general election. Meanwhile, Kosmas will be able to prepare herself for the challenge and stock up cash; she raised a strong $350,000 in the second-quarter.

MI-09, VA-02: Other new Republican candidates

Democrats might want to be careful about MI-09, based around blue-collar Oakland County. This is the type of district where Democrats could be hurting if Reagan Democrats, who returned to the party’s fold in 2008, now turned against the White House because of the recession. The district voted for Obama by 13%, but it also twice went for George Bush and Rep. Gary Peters is a freshman. Former congressman Knollenberg’s chief of staff Paul Welday and former state Rep. Andrew Raczkowski are already in the running. Neither is a top-tier contender, but both have enough connections to potentially mount a competitive race (Raczkowski ran for Senate in 2002, only to be crushed by Carl Levin).

In Virginia, we know that the 2nd district will be a top GOP target so it’s worth the Republican field. This week, automobile dealer Scott Rigell announced he would challenge freshman Rep. Glenn Nye; he also said he had the support of prominent Republicans like the congresswoman Nye defeated in 2008, Thelma Drake. So will Nye end up with Rigell as his opponent? The president of Freedom Automotive is the type of wealthy political novice who can get nowhere on the trail but who can also catch fire by convincing voters that business experience is what they need and by self-funding his way to a competitive position.

Some good news for the DCCC in Nebraska

In one of their biggest 2008 heart-breakers, Democrats failed to defeat Rep. Lee Terry by just 4%. Yet, Obama pulled off the unthinkable feat of winning the typically staunchly Republican district and that has given Democrats confidence that they might finally be able to overthrow Terry in 2010. Sure, the environment will not be as favorable and there will be no Obama coattails, but the DCCC believes it has found a top-tier candidate: state Senator Tom White, who represents parts of Omaha in the unicameral legislature, formed an exploratory committee earlier this week.

While White seems too conservative to excite Democrats nationwide (he is pro-life and he championed the elimination of the marriage penalty and of the estate tax), his exact profile remains to be determined. A former civil rights attorney, he attracted attention for embracing a more partisan positioning than is typical for Nebraska Democrats. (Note that it’s hard to know how to describe NE-02 since it went for Obama but also for Bush by 22%.)


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Deflecting blame on AIG bonuses

Edward Liddy, the chief executive of AIG, is scheduled to testify before Congress today in what should make for  great political spectacle. Lawmakers are expected to pile up on Liddy and unleash their populist fury - and that could take them quite far, given the recent rhetoric of some Senators.

Yet, the most outrageous part of the story should not be AIG’s decision to parcel out bonuses but the government’s reluctance to take any meaningful step to reform the system. In walking back his comments calling for AIG executives to commit suicide, Chuck Grassley explained that, “I do believe that when you have done bad for your company, for your stockholders, and eventually for the taxpayer… you ought to say I’m sorry.” Much of the recent outrage is in a similar vein to Grassley’s: How dare the executives not feel contrition? How dare they act so greedily when the rest of the country is suffering?

Yet, how can we forget that making as much money as possible is the reason for-profit companies like AIG exist? The question should not be why business executives would act so greedily but rather why government would ever allow them to act like this - especially when the funds that is being parceled out are bailout money. Lawmakers like Grassley who pretend to be shocked that business executives might not respect basic decency and individual morality are avoiding the meaningful latter issue to focus on the former, narrow question.

Asking why executives would ever be allowed to act so freely forces us to recognizes that these bonuses are not bizarre occurrences or breaches of the law; rather, they are symptomatic of an economic ideology that has replaced government regulation with the inviolability of the free market. They are not excess, but the logical consequence of the policies that have developed ever since Freidmanite economics became the guidebook of U.S. policy. They are as much a manifestation of individual greed as the consequence of a decades-long trend against legislating business practices.

In other words: The Bush and Obama Administration’s reluctance to put in place effective regulations is as responsible for the AIG bonuses as are the company’s executives, and it is silly for politicians to suddenly act surprises at something that should have surprised no one.

Leaving aside broad discussions of economic trends and political ideologies and looking at very practical matters, the bonuses had been in the air for months! AIG’s plan to deliver “retention payments” were attracting media attention and political fire back in December, and The Washington Post reports that the Federal Reserve knew about the bonuses for months. How likely is it, then, that Geithner, who helped negotiate the terms of the AIG bailouts, did not know about these bonuses until last week?

Even if Geithner and Congressional leaders did not know about the detail of these bonuses a few months ago, many lawmakers (not to mention outside observers) warned about the likelihood of such an incident and tried to block it. Barnie Sanders has been proposing bills to cap executive pay since the fall, and Ron Wyden and Olympia Snowe succeeded in passing an amendment to the stimulus bill capping bonuses. The amendment was thrown out in the conference committee, and Wyden is now openly blaming the Administration’s opposition.

Even more damning: In February, Chris Dodd had introduced an amendment to the stimulus bill that would have imposed retroactive bonus caps on companies receiving bailout money - meaning that bonuses agreed to before February 11th would also fall under the legislation’s scope. As numerous news stories attest to, Geithner and Larry Summers both called Dodd, urging him to drop retroactivity. Dodd nonetheless pushed through the amendment (SA 354 to H.R.1) but it was then thrown out during the conference committee. (Jane Hamsher provides a clear and detailed documentation of this sequence of events.)

Let’s recap: The Obama Administration lobbied to throw out provisions to make bonus restrictions retroactive - and the lack of such a provision is now greatly helping AIG executives insist that no law is being breached since the bonuses had been outlined in contracts months ago.

Once again, the pattern is clear: Governmental reluctance to take efficient regulatory measures and to risk upsetting business executives is at the origin of the AIG bonuses that were paid last week - bonuses that at least some governmental officials knew about months ago, before they lobbied against regulation.

But all of this is nothing next to the fact that the same people who undercut Dodd’s efforts to prevent this situation are now blaming him for being responsible for the AIG bonuses. From The New York Times:

The administration official said the Treasury Department did its own legal analysis and concluded that those contracts could not be broken. The official noted that even a provision recently pushed through Congress by Senator Christopher J. Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, had an exemption for such bonus agreements already in place.

A Treasury official is here telling the media that there is no way to stop the AIG bonuses because the stimulus bill does not make restrictions radioactive. The official claims that Dodd is responsible for the provision’s ineffectiveness, but, as I explained above, it is Dodd who was trying to introduce radioactivity in the bill and the Treasury (via Geithner) who beat back his efforts to do so!

In short: Geithner is deflecting his responsibility on one of the most endangered Democratic Senators of the 2010 cycle. (Marc Ambinder has more in a post entitled, “Don’t Blame Chris Dodd.”) Given that much of Dodd’s 2010 weakness comes from a controversy about his mortgage terms and from his role in the Banking Committee, this new wave of Dodd criticism will only fuel what is his biggest vulnerability: The perception that he is too cozy with the banking industry and with business executives.

Of course, while Dodd is increasingly endangered, other Democrats are doing their best to take advantage of the situation by scoring political points. Andrew Cuomo, for instance, has been all over this controversy: He has issued subpoenas, launched investigations to look into possible fraud charges, and uncovered new revelations that have made the story that much more problematic. If Cuomo challenges David Paterson in the 2010 gubernatorial primary, this should make for a great contrast with the increasingly unpopular Governor.

Another Democrat who is trying to score points is freshman Rep. Gary Peters, who defeated a Republican incumbent in MI-09 last fall and who could face a competitive race in 2010. The Democratic leadership has allowed Peters to be the main sponsor of a bill that would surtax the bonuses 60% for government to recoup most of the money; Peters is predictably attracting very favorable press in his home state.

However much lawmakers try to deflect blame on AIG executives, however much the embattled Geithner (it’s never a good sign when the White House is forced to repeatedly insist that they have full confidence in a top official) tries to deflect blame on Dodd, this controversy will hopefully mean that the Administration will be forced to accept a more proactive regulatory role. Yet, the worry is that this controversy severely limits the White House’s policy options going forward. Many believe that Treasury will ask Congress for more emergency measures, but this will make it much more difficult to get approval for further bailouts.


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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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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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House ratings, House edition: 17 GOP-held seats now rated lean Democratic

Another week, another round of Democratic gains. Of the 11 races whose ratings I am changing here, 10 are moving in the Democrats’ direction, and three new GOP-held seats are entering the lean takeover category for the first time (FL-08, MI-09 and NC-08). That brings the total of Republican districts in which Democrats are currently favored to seventeen, with 21 more GOP-held seats rated as toss-ups.

Needless to say, the GOP hasn’t flirted with such dismal lows for decades.

The one race in which Republican prospects have improved is Rep. Jack “Western Pennsylvania is racist” Murtha’s PA-12. That means that this is the second week in a row in which the one Republican gain is caused by self-inflicted Democratic wounds. Murtha’s statements aren’t as much of a game-changer as the Mahoney scandal, but they are in a sense more worrisome for Democrats since they have made what was previously a safe seat into a competitive contest.

Yet, the developments in PA-12 serve as a reminder of just how unlucky the GOP has been in most other Democratic-held seats. In December 2006, Republicans seemed assured that they would regain a number of the seats they had just lost, and their predictions sounded accurate: how could Democrats possibly TX-22, PA-10 or OH-18? They were also facing very difficult races in places like IN-09 and KY-03. Now, the GOP is on the run in most of these districts: We have gotten to the point at which a double digit lead for Reps. Hill and Yarmuth does not seem surprising, no one has talked about OH-18 for months, and even ultra-conservative TX-22 no longer looks like a slam dunk or Republicans.

One last thing to keep in mind is that there is a crucial difference between Senate and House ratings. Senate seats that are rated as “likely retention” will not switch over unless something huge happens; the rating is meant to indicate that a surprise is within the realm of the possible. We can predict, however, that there will be a few House seats that are rated as “likely retention” that will switch over. We simply do not have enough polling data and indications from the ground to figure out which GOP incumbents in that list are truly endangered: some will win by huge margins, others will fall.

  • Safe Democratic: 207
  • Likely/Safe Democratic: 226
  • Lean/Likely/Safe Democratic: 245
  • Toss-ups: 26
  • Lean/Likely/Safe Republican: 164
  • Likely/Safe Republican: 153
  • Safe Republican: 127

Full ratings available here.

Arizona’s 1st district, lean Democratic to likely Democratic: No one gives Republican candidate Sydney Hay much of a chance to beat former state Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in this open seat, but the DCCC is taking no chances. It has already poured $1.7 million in the district, including a $338,000 buy this week. The DCCC’s continuous spending suggests that their internal numbers aren’t showing the easy pick-up that has come to be expected, but those $1.7 million spent labeling Hay a “corporate lobbyist” should close any door the Republican might have had.

Florida’s 8th district, toss-up to lean Democratic: It looks like Rep. Keller will be the victim of the Democrats’ gains in the Sunshine State, and Obama’s ground game risks overpowering the GOP machine in this Orlando-based district. In fact, Democrats just gained an edge in voter registration in the district, reversing the GOP’s 14,000 voter advantage just two years ago. Add that to Keller’s own weakness (he only received 55% of the vote against a weak opponent in the primary), and you get an explosive combination. The DCCC just released a poll showing its candidate Allen Grayson leading by 11%, even though they have curiously still not spent a dime in the district. Keller quickly replied with a survey of his own showing him leading 47% to 43%, but you know things are bad for an incumbent when he feels compelled to release such weak numbers.

Iowa’s 4th district, off-the-map to likely Republican: Rep. Latham is sitting in one of the least Republican districts held by his party, and that’s not a good district to hold in a heavily Democratic year. Becky Greenwald is now in a position to score one of the year’s biggest upsets, just as her party shockingly picked-up IA-02 out of nowhere two years ago. A just-released Research 2000 poll shows Latham leading by only 5%, and Barack Obama’s strength in Iowa could further boost down-the-ballot Democratic totals in the state.

Idaho’s 1st district, lean Republican to toss-up: That GOP Rep. Bill Sali is endangered in a district Bush won with 69% of the vote in 2004 is entirely due the incumbent’s personality and extremism. Sali is despised by much of Idaho’s Republican establishment, and he is best known for incidents such as these, in which he disturbed his opponent’s chief of staff’s interview with a local journalist with heckling and… bunny ears. Democratic internal polls have shown a competitive race for months, and a recent SUSA poll has Democratic candidate Walt Minnick leading by 6%. A sure sign that this race is highly competitive: The NRCC is pouring significant amount of money to defend Sali. Who would have thought the GOP’s meager fundraising would have to be spent defending a seat in Idaho?

Illinois’s 11th district, lean Democratic to likely Democratic: Debbie Halvorson was once one of the Democrats’ biggest recruits, while Republicans did not even have a candidate well into 2008. But eventual GOP nominee Martin Ozinga proved surprisingly resilient in a district Democrats were expected to pick up easily. Not anymore. The Democrats’ surge over the past month has erased the GOP’s hopes of pulling off come-back victories in districts like this, and the DCCC’s money (more than $1 million) is helping Halvorson close the deal. Independent polls and private Democratic surveys find Halvorson pulling ahead.

Michigan’s 9th district, toss-up to lean Democratic: Joe Knollenberg is a well-established incumbent who would be very difficult to beat in a neutral environment, but the Democratic wave is now threatening to submerge him. Not only did the incumbent receive a terrible blow when McCain abruptly pulled out of Michigan, undercutting Knollenberg’s hopes of relying on the GOP’s presidential ground game to turn out his own base, but the NRCC has canceled all of the $600,000 it had planned on spending on his behalf. By contrast, the DCCC has already spent $1,6 million on behalf of Democratic candidate Gary Peters and the Obama campaign is still organizing in the state. A just-released DCCC poll has Peters ahead by 10%; that might be overstating his lead, but the NRCC’s decision to pull out of the race confirms that even the GOP thinks the race is drifting away.

Minnesota’s 6th district, lean Republican to toss-up: It is too early to tell whether Michelle Bachmann’s anti-Americanism rant on MSNBC will prove to be her macaca moment, but it has seriously endangered her reelection chances. Two polls released over the past week showed Bachmann trailing within the margin of error, a remarkable turn of events in a race that until two weeks ago was considered to be relatively safe.And you can’t accuse Bachmann of backing down easily.  After standing her ground in the immediate aftermath of her comments, Bachmann is now airing an in which she asks voters to understand that “I may not always get my words right, but I know that my heart is right.” Far from apologizing, Bachmann repeats her argument that liberalism stands in opposition to American values. “We could embrace government as the answer to our problems,” she says. “Or we can choose freedom and liberty:”

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3_VRUHStOg"]

New Jersey’s 5th district, off the map to likely Republican: Not that Rep. Garrett is sitting in an overwhelmingly Republican district (Bush got 57% of the vote in 2004, but only 52% in 2000), but he was not expected to face that competitive a challenge this year. Yet, Democratic gains have been the strongest in the Northeast, and that has put this seat on the Democrats’ radar screen. Garrett’s opponent is progressive candidate and netroots favorite Rabbi Dennis Shulman, a credible enough contender to benefit if voters are looking to reject Garrett. A just-released Research 2000 poll has a 7% race, and Garrett is feeling nervous enough about his chances to have released one of the most vicious ads we have seen this year, juxtaposing his opponent to Ahmadinejad.

North Carolina’s 8th district, toss-up to lean Democratic: What a difference two years make. In 2006, Democrat Larry Kissell was pleading for the DCCC to invest some resources in his race against Rep. Robin Hayes. The DCCC left him in the cold, and Kissell lost by about 300 votes. This year, the DCCC is not committing the same mistake: they have already poured in $1.7 million, while the NRCC has invested nothing. Kissell is also benefiting from Democratic gains in North Carolina. And the expected boost in African-American turnout (as testified by the early voting numbers) should make a huge difference in this district, which has a substantial African-American population. As if this was not enough, both an internal DCCC poll and a SUSA survey showed Kissell with a large lead over Hayes over the past month.

Pennsylvania’s 12th district, off-the-map to lean Democratic: Rep. Murtha’s comments describing Western Pennsylvania as a “racist” area transformed this race overnight from a safe Democratic district to a competitive race, and Murtha’s subsequent attempts to explain himself did not help the situation. In a neutral environment, that might be enough to allow Republican candidate Russell to upset an entrenched incumbent like Murtha, but the Democrat could be saved by the political environment. Another factor that will hinder Russell’s hopes is that the NRCC has no money to come to his aid (unlike, say, in MN-06 where the DCCC quickly committed $1 million to attacking Bachmann after her MSNBC comments).

Washington’s 8th district, lean Republican to toss-up: Rematches tend to be the most brutal races, and the second match-up between Rep. Reichert and Darcy Burner is no exception. The latest salvos include both camps questioning their opponent’s college degree, with the conservative Seattle Times taking care of the (now discredited) hit job on the Democrat. That said, Burner has significantly improved her poll numbers over the past two weeks; after two Democratic surveys found her ahead, SUSA and Research 2000 both confirmed that she had erased Reichert’s lead.

In a sure sign that both sides are taking this race very seriously, both national committees are pouring resources in the district, and this is one of the seats where the NRCC has spent the most for now (more than $500,000). That is both an indication that the NRCC thinks Reichert is highly endangered and that they think his seat is salvageable; in short, it is a toss-up.

Full ratings available here.


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Finances: NRCC drops out of MI-09, Obama’s fundraising not as stellar

The NRCC has pulled the plug on its third incumbent in as many days. Rep. Knollenberg of MI-09, who until a few weeks ago seemed to be slightly favored in his re-election bid, will receive no help from his national party.

The NRCC had reserved more than $600,000 to be spend over the last two weeks of the campaign. It had already canceled the portion of that money that was intended to be used this week; now, it has also canceled next’s week media buy. This comes a few weeks after Knollenberg received a first blow when McCain abruptly pulled out of Michigan, undercutting Knollenberg’s hopes of relying on McCain’s ground game to turn out his own base. By contrast, the DCCC has already spent $1,6 million on behalf of Democratic candidate Gary Peters and the Obama campaign is still organizing in the Wolverine State.

Knollenberg is a well-established incumbent who would be very difficult to beat in a neutral environment, but the Democratic wave is now threatening to submerge him. Without the NRCC’s financial backing and the McCain campaign’s ground game, Knollenberg looks to be in a very precarious position and among the clearest victims yet of the GOP’s fundraising woes.

As if the NRCC did not have enough problems dealing with the difficult stategic positions it is facing, it is now facing harsh criticism from the Family Research Council, led by Tony Perkins. (Perkins played an important role last fall, you will recall, when the Religious Right was moving to sabotage Rudy Giuliani’s candidacy. Perkins was one of the most virulent anti-Rudy militants before issuing more positive statements about the former NYC Mayor.)

Today, Perkins voiced a protest against the NRCC’s decision to pull the plug on Reps. Bachmann and Musgrave’s campaigns. (Both incumbents are strong social conservatives.) “The left is attacking both of these outstanding women because they are true conservatives,” Perkins wrote. “This is no time to cut and run from a fight.” He called upon FRC members to no longer donate to the NRCC until it changed its decision on CO-04 and MN-06.

Now, this is unlikely to be a particularly effective method of blackmail. There are 11 days until Election Day, how much money is the NRCC expecting to raise from FRC members by Election Day? But it does illustrate the pressure the DCCC and NRCC find themselves under when the time comes for tough decisions as to which incumbents or challengers to fund and which ones to cut loose. This cycle, most of that pressure is falling on the Republican committees since their budgets force them to make more choices - and then deal with the consequences. After the NRSC decided to no longer spend money on Louisiana’s Senate race earlier this week, Sen. Vitter and Karl Rove quickly intervened to protest the decision - and the NRSC is now back on air.

Of course, the NRCC’s decision to cut funds in these districts is not driven by any disdain towards social conservatives but by hard math: The NRCC has very limited funds, and it has vulnerable districts poping up left and right. CO-04 has been rated lean take-over for weeks in my ratings; why would the NRCC invest there on an incumbent that has consistently underperformed in her district? The choice to not fund Bachmann’s race is more curious.

Bachmann hurt herself with her MSNBC rant, and that was enough to make the race highly competitive - not enough to make her the underdog. Perhaps the NRCC thought that either Bachmann’s comments truly damaged her (in which case she will fall anyway) or that they will be forgotten by November 4th (in which case she is likely to survive). Bachmann’s refusal to move on and her defiant posture over the past few days might have also made the NRCC think that the incumbent would not cooperate - and that there was thus little point in helping her.

Meanwhile, news from the front of presidential fundraising brings the somewhat surprising news that, as of October 15th, Obama and the DNC had less cash on hand than McCain and the RNC. (The committees and the campaigns had to file financial disclosure forms for the first half of October by midnight today.)

The Obama campaign spent a jaw-dropping $106 million over the first two weeks of October, and raised $37,7 million over the same period - meaning that it had $66 million left in the bank as of October 15th. (Full Obama statement here, for your browsing pleasure.) The DNC had $11 million left, bringing the Democrats’ total cash on hand to $77 million. Meanwhile, the McCain campaign had $25 million let, combined with $59 million for the RNC - bringing the total to $84 million.

This does not mean, however, that Democrats no longer enjoy a financially dominant position. First, it is possible that Obama had already bought ad time for the weeks after October 15th by that date, though the statement seems to be suggesting that this might not be a big factor: (1) The statement says that Obama has spent $80 million on media buys from October 1st to October 15th, however, which is not that far off from what Obama is known to be spending for two weeks of ads (we know he spent $32 million worth of ads airing in the first week of September). (2) Furthermore, Obama’s statement indicates that most of this money was spent by October 10th, suggesting that the buys were meant to cover the upcoming week - not the period until Election Day.

Second, a dollar held by the Obama campaign does not equate a dollar held by the RNC; as we have seen over and over again over the past few months, McCain has not been able to control his message effectively because of his need to pay for most of his ads with the RNC’s money or because the RNC’s independent expenditure division comes up with its own themes. Furthermore, while most of the RNC’s war chest will go to the presidential race, not all of it will.

Third, the Obama campaign is continuing to raise money as we speak while the McCain campaign is not - and any new money that will be injected into the GOP will go to the RNC, reducing any possibility of message unification even more.

Finally, and this is very important, the two parties were at near parity because of Obama’s astonishing spending spree, not because of a disappointing fundraising total by Obama ($37,7 in two weeks is a higher fundraising pace than Obama enjoyed in any month other than September.) His early October spending has a great deal to do with Obama surge to a dominant position. By swamping McCain in a large number of battleground states, Obama drastically transformed the electoral map over those two weeks: He put the blue states entirely out of play, confirmed Missouri and Indiana’s toss up status and edged slightly ahead in a number of red states.

Even if the GOP can avoid being financially demolished as badly as it has been over the next 11 days (and given that they have been crushed in the week since October 15th, that looks unlikely), the harm has already been done: Republicans now stuck playing on red turf - so red, in fact, that they can’t even keep up spending in purple Colorado.


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Poll watch: Obama leads big in OH, PA, FL, IN and more; Franken narrowly ahead

The clock is running out, and the only good news for McCain today is a IBD/TIPP poll that has him only down 1%. But just like yesterday’s AP poll, that appears to be an outlier as seven other national polls show Obama firmly in command (not to mention that IBD/TIPP has McCain with more than 70% among 18-24 year-old respondents). In fact, Obama leads by double-digits in four of the day’s survey, and McCain remains stuck in the low 40s (39% to 45%) in all eight - including IBD/TIPP.

State polls are even more decisive, and they are breaking in favor of Obama rather than against him. Today’s line-up of surveys has Obama posting some big margins across the country, and what is significant is that these surveys come from different institutes, some of which have not been particularly friendly to the Democrat before (National Journal/All State or Big10, for instance). Obama leads by double-digits in five polls of Pennsylvania, three polls of Minnesota, two polls of Wisconsin, two polls of Ohio and one poll each of Michigan, Iowa and Indiana.

Obama also leads outside of the margin of error in two Florida surveys (something McCain has not done in a single Florida poll for four weeks) and captures a narrow advantage in Montana in the first poll that (finally) includes Ron Paul’s name. He is within striking distance in Georgia, where early voting turnout confirms that he has a shot at making the race very close.

Needless to say, Obama needs to capture very few of the states I just mentioned. If he wins just one of the Big Three (OH, PA and FL), he will be in a very good position to capture the presidency; two would ensure victory; and even an (at this point unlikely) defeat in all three would certainly not be the end of his ambitions: A sweep of Colorado, Virginia and Nevada (or any of these replaced by Indiana, Missouri or North Carolina) could replace the Keystone State. With all of this in mind, let’s go on to today’s full roundup:

  • Obama maintains a double-digit lead in the latest NYT/CBS poll. He is ahead 52% to 39% (he led by 14% last week). He leads by 6% among independents. 62% feel “personally connected” to Obama, 47% to McCain; more voters think Obama has the right temperament and personality to be president, and more voters think Obama would handle a crisis well. Palin’s favorability rating remains negative.
  • Obama keeps his dominant position in the tracking polls. He gains 2% in Zogby (52% to 40%) and 1% in Rasmussen (52% to 45%). The race stays stable in Hotline (48% to 43%), ABC/Washington Post (54% to 43%) and Research 2000 (51% to 41%). Obama slips 1% in Gallup (51% to 45%) and 3% in IBD/TIPP (where he is only up 1%, 45% to 44%). That puts Obama’s lead in the day’s trackings at: 1%, 5%, 6%, 7%, 10%, 11%, 12%.
  • Ohio: Obama leads by double-digits in two new polls, his biggest leads ever in the state. He leads 52% to 38% in a Quinnipiac survey (he led by 8% three weeks ago). He leads 53% to 41% in a Big 10 Battleground poll.
  • Florida: Obama leads outside of the MoE in two new surveys. He is ahead 49% to 44% in a new Quinnipiac poll (he led by 8% three weeks ago). He leads 49% to 42% in a St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald poll. Obama seizes a big lead among independents in the latter, which was taken Monday through Wednesday.
  • Indiana: Obama leads 51% to 41% in a Big10 poll. The race was tied in mid-September.
  • Michigan: Obama leads by a stunning 58% to 36% in a Big10 poll.
  • Georgia: McCain leads 51% to 46% in a Rasmussen poll. McCain led by 9% two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, in down the ballot polls:

  • Proposition 8 is losing 52% to 44% in a PPIC poll. However, the “no” was ahead 55% to 41% five weeks ago.
  • Minnesota’s Senate race: Democrat Al Franken narrowly leads in two polls. In Rasmussen, he is ahead 41% to 37% with 17% for Barkley. Two weeks ago, Franken led by 6%. In a University of Wisconsin poll, he is ahead 40% to 34% with 15% for Barkley.
  • In Kentucky’s Senate race, GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell leads 47% to 43% in a Research 2000 poll.
  • In Georgia’s Senate race, GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss leads 47% to 45% in a Rasmussen poll. He led by 6% two weeks ago.
  • In Louisiana’s Senate race, Democratic Sen. Landrieu leads 53% to 43% in a Rasmussen poll. She led by 14% last month.
  • In Washington’s gubernatorial race, Democratic Gov. Gregoire leads 50% to 48% in a Rasmussen poll.
  • In IL-11, Democrat Debby Halvorson leads 50% to 37% in a new SUSA poll.
  • In PA-12, Democratic Rep. Murtha is only up 46% to 41% in a new Susquehanna poll.
  • In WA-08, Democrat Darcy Burner storms back to grab a 50% to 46% lead in a new SUSA poll. Reichert trailed by 10% three weeks ago.
  • In MI-09, Democrat Gary Peters leads 46% to 36% against Rep. Knollenberg in a DCCC internal.
  • In OH-15, Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy leads 44% to 36% in a DCCC poll. She led by the same margin three three weeks ago.
  • In AL-02, Democrat Bobby Bright leads 50% to 43% in a DCCC poll.

Senate: It is difficult to know what to make of the Minnesota Senate race. Barkley is holding stable just under 20%, but his support is not firm: It could end up at a far lower point, but it could also end up rising if voters come to think he has a chance of pulling it off. In either case, it is impossible to know how that would affect Coleman and Franken’s totals.

House: Democrats get great news from SUSA. Darcy Burner appeared to be fading in WA-08, but she has now led in three polls in a row. The first two were Democratic polls, now an independent pollster confirms her comeback. IL-11 was once going to be an easy pick-up before GOP candidate Ozinga proved surprisingly resilient. Now, the Democratic surge appears to have buried Republican prospects of a come-from-behind victory here.

Furthermore, a trio of DCCC poll completes the strong news for Democrats, especially when combined with the NRCC pulling out of MI-09. That said, Susquehanna’s poll from PA-12 confirms the Democrats’ worst fear that Rep. Murtha’s recent comments about his districts has endangered his re-election prospects.


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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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Except for FL-16, House news isn’t pretty for Republicans

Everything the DCCC does is bigger: They have more money, they raise money, they spend more money - and now they might be taking a larger loan as well! Evidently not satisfied with the (already breath-taking) number of GOP-held districts in which they are pouring money, the DCCC is now considering taking a $20 million loan to inject more resources in dozens of House seats. (The NRCC recently secured a $5 million line of credit to supplement their tragically meager cash on hand.)

Democrats know that they will not get an opportunity like this one in the upcoming cycles - at least not if Barack Obama wins the presidency. Wave elections are relatively rare, and seats like AL-02, KY-02 and MD-01 are unlikely to be competitive again any time soon if the GOP manages to hold them. It would be a shame for Democrats to miss out on seats because they did not have enough money to contest them, which is why the DCCC wants to make sure to go all-out in the staggeringly high number of Republican districts that currently look like they could be competitive.

Meanwhile, Republicans continue to have major financial problems. For one, the NRCC continues to scale back its ad buys, and which districts the committee thinks are no longer worthy of its attention tells us a lot about which seats the NRCC think are the least salvageable. The latest victim is Rep. Joe Knollenberg in MI-09, as the NRCC has pulled the plug on the incumbent for the next two weeks, canceling more than $300,000 worth of media time. The NRCC is still budgeting an ad blitz in the very last week of the campaign.

This creates a very perilous situation for Knollenberg: The DCCC has already spent more than $800,000 in this district, and the McCain campaign’s pull out means that Knollenberg has been abruptly deprived of the organizational structure he was planning to rely on.

As I have said before, committee spending is certainly not everything, since the candidates have their own war chests they can use. But that means that the burden is on the Republican contenders in districts that the NRCC is not playing in to display strong fundraising to be able to sustain Democratic advertisement. House candidates had to file their third quarter reports last night, so we now have a better idea of where the financial situation stood as of the end of September.

One district from which the NRCC has largely retreated is MN-03, a highly competitive open seat. As of the end of September, Ashwin Madia and Erick Paulsen had roughly equivalent amounts of cash on hand, and the Democrat had slightly outraised his opponent in the third quarter. Without the NRCC’s help, Paulsen will be hard pressed to stay afloat against the Democratic juggernaut.

In AZ-03, the fundraising numbers are truly stunning. Rep. Shadegg is as much of a conservative icon as there is in the House, and as of a month ago no one was paying attention to his challenger. Yet, Democrat Lord manage to outraise Shadegg in the third quarter! The incumbent Republican retained an edge in end-of-September cash on hand, but he runs the risk of being swamped by DCCC spending (which has reached more than $1 million in three weeks). Shadegg clearly did not think he was endangered this cycle, repeating the mistake of so many of his former Republican colleagues who didn’t see the threat coming until the final weeks of the campaign.

One final fundraising note on KS-02, a seat held by Democratic Rep. Nancy Boyda. This is perhaps the only highly competitive seat in the country on which the DCCC will not spend a dime, as Boyda said earlier in the summer that she did not want the national party to help her. And the bad news for her is that her opponent Lynn Jenkins raised three times as much as her - a very weak performance for an incumbent that insisted to be on her own financially. Boyda and Jenkins had roughly the same cash on hand as of the end of September, which means that this was the one district in the country that the GOP could have massively outspent the Democrat had the NRCC rushed in to Jenkins’ rescue… but KS-02 is one of those seats the NRCC has had to drastically scale back its ad reservations.

A big relief for Boyda, whose insistence to keep the DCCC at bay doesn’t sound as suicidal as it did over the summer.

That leaves us with FL-16, the week’s one bright spot for House Republicans and now so likely to fall in the GOP’s hands that Rep. Mahoney is reportedly considering dropping out of the race. Democrats cannot replace his name on the ballot (just as Republicans had not been able to replace Foley’s), and they would have even less than time the GOP had had in 2006 to introduce a new candidate to voters. If Mahoney stays on the ballot, the fact that the FBI is now investigating the payments he allegedly made to his mistress should be enough to do him in - or will it be the rumors of another affair? Today, The Palm Beach Post rescinded its endorsement of Mahoney and called on the district’s voters to choose Rooney. That editorial might not influence voters, but it is probably capture the mood of the district.

And could Republicans also make some unexpected progress in PA-12, a marginally blue seat held by high-profile representative Jack Murtha? The incumbent drew unwanted attention last week when he declared that Western Pennsylvania (where his district is located) is a “racist area.” Now, his opponent has launched an ad that will go up on air next week hitting Murtha for his remarks (Murtha has already been forced to issue an apology statement):

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tXrpYTGF-I"]


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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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Rating changes, House edition: DCCC continues to expand map

For the final stretch to Election Day, I am launching a new format for my Senate and House ratings. For the past 14 months, I have offered detailed descriptions of every Senate and House race, but that takes me too long for me to be able to update my ratings frequently enough now that the field of play is in constant flux. So I will only list those districts whose ratings is being changed with a brief explanation, and will thus hopefully be able to make this a regular feature over the next 23 days. (Senate and presidential rating changes should both come within 48 hours.)

As is to be expected, the environment continues to be toxic for the GOP and that is leading Democrats to continue making gains at the House level. Of these 9 rating changes, eight favor Democrats and two more GOP-held seats (NY-29 and OH-15) move to the lean take-over category. In some districts the GOP’s headaches are facing are exacerbated by local factors (that is the case for instance in Michigan, where McCain’s pull out means trouble for Reps. Walberg and Knollenberg), while in others Democrats are riding the national wave of voter discontent - how else to explain that the GOP is looking to invest in MN-06 or that the DCCC has poured in money in AZ-03 or NE-02?

Here is an overview of the new outlook:

  • Likely/Safe Democratic: 210 seats (+1)
  • Lean/Likely/Safe Democratic: 238 seats (+3)
  • Toss-ups: 29 seats (-3)
  • Lean/Likely/Safe Republican: 168 seats
  • Likely/Safe Republican: 157 seats (-2)

IN-09, lean Democratic to likely Democratic: Republicans have not been able to gain as much traction as in past years for what is the fourth straight match-up between Baron Hill and Mike Sodrel. Hill won in 2002 and 2006, Sodrel won in 2004. Barack Obama’s unexpected strength in the Hoosier State has undercut the GOP’s hope that presidential coattails would carry Sodrel through the finish line as they did in 2004, not to mention that Hill will benefit from Obama’s strong ground game while the McCain campaign has spent little time organizing Indiana. Recent independent polls have found Hill leading by double-digits.

MI-09, lean Republican to toss-up: Rep. Knollenberg’s prospects have collapsed over the past month. This is a swing district (Bush prevailed with 51% of the vote in 2004), and it is filled with Reagan Democrats - one of the constituencies that have been moving to the Democratic Party because of the financial crisis. And McCain’s decision to pull out of the state is devastating for Knollenberg, who was partly relying on the presidential campaign’s turnout effort to mobilize his own supporters. Democratic candidate Peters has been polling ahead or even; Peters leads by 11% in a DCCC poll, but the DCCC’s internal numbers in many districts have been far more favorable for Democrats than those of other firms; an independent poll and an internal poll for Peters find the race within single digits. That sounds more believable, but what also seems certain is that Knollenberg is way under 50% - in fact, he looks to be stuck in the low 40s, deadly territory for an incumbent, especially when he can’t count on a superior ground game to help him.

MN-06, likely Republican to lean Republican: Democrat Elwyn Tinklenberg is a solid contender but he had failed to get much traction up until now, and Rep. Bachmann was considered relatively safe this year, but the NRCC evidently does not feel this way as they are reportedly divesting resources out of highly competitive MN-03 and into MN-06. That will certainly help protect Bachmann (especially if the DCCC doesn’t move in) but it still signals that she is more endangered than expected.

NE-02, off the map to lean Republican: Democrats have been mentioning this race for a while, but this is conservative enough a district for a Republican incumbent to be given the benefit of the doubt. But the DCCC’s unexpected decision to invest significant resources in the race - they have already spent more than $200,000 - puts it on the list of competitive races, especially when you combine the DCCC’s investment to Obama’s efforts in the state (the presidential campaign has opened 2 field offices in Omaha, forcing Sarah Palin to come and campaign). Democrats are making a rare push to organize Omaha, and that puts NE-02 in play.

NV-02, likely Republican to lean Republican: Nevada Democrats are riding the momentum of big registration gains, while Republicans are being weighed down by the unpopularity of their governor, not to mention the GOP’s national difficulties. That gives an opening to Jill Derby, who is back for a rematch in this conservative district. An independent poll recently found Rep. Heller leading but under 50% and in single-digits, so the race is certainly competitive.

NY-29, toss-up to lean Democratic: Republicans currently hold six seats in the Empire State, and Democrats have been targeting four of them - including three in upstate New York. Of these four seats, NY-29 is the only one featuring an incumbent. Rep. Kuhl barely survived the 2006 cycle, and Democrat Eric Massa is back for a rematch. It is never easy to topple an incumbent, but New York’s Republican Party is in disarray and Kuhl looks highly vulnerable. Three polls released over the past week (one by SUSA, one by Research 2000 and one released by Democrats) show Massa leading outside of the margin of error, with Kuhl in the low 40s. That’s not a good place to be for an incumbent. Add to that the DCCC’s commitment to fund this race, and Democrats have a slight edge.

OH-15, toss-up to lean Democratic:  If the political environment didn’t favor Democrats, Republicans would be very well positioned to defy the odds and retain this district. Mary Jo Kilroy hasn’t been a strong campaigner (she was favored to pick-up the seat in 2006 but fell short in one of the GOP’s most unexpected victories of the cycle) and Republican state Sen. Stivers is a strong recruit. But this is not a neutral year, and any Republican would face an uphill fight in an open seat in a swing district like OH-15. A recent SUSA poll and an internal DCCC poll find Kilroy leading by single-digits, and that is where the race should be on paper as well: Kilroy underperforming but able to hold on to a slight lead. Add to that the DCCC’s commitment to win this seat over (they have already spent more than $1 million dollar!), and the picture looks even bleaker for the GOP.

TX-07, off the map to likely Republican: An independent poll showing a single-digit race and an incumbent under 50% is enough to warrant a race a place in these ratings. This contest could still move up depending on how aggressive Democrats are at pursuing it, but this is certainly an unlikely district for them to score a pick-up.

WA-08, toss-up to lean Republican: This should be one of the Democrats’ top priorities this cycle. Rep. Reichert barely survived against Democratic challenger and netroots favorite Darcy Burner in 2006 (51% to 49%) and Burner is back for a rematch. She has proved a solid fundraiser, and Obama should help bring out the Democratic base. In the current pro-Democratic climate, races like this should be moving towards Democrats; yet, multiple independent polls (including a couple from SUSA and one from Research 2000 released this week) find Reichert with a comfortable lead and hovering around the 50% mark. One explanation is that the heavy fire Burner endured in 2006 left her with high negative ratings and too bruised to mount as strong a challenge this year. Second, the Chamber of Commerce is targeting the Democrat with a sizable $400,000 ad buy, while the DCCC has not inexplicably not spent any resources on Burner’s behalf.

Full ratings available here.


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Poll watch: Obama leads in OH, FL; DCCC internals find good news for House Dems

I’m not trying to sound like a broken record, but the basic dynamic of the presidential race is not changing: Obama is putting blue states away (he has yet another double-digit lead in Wisconsin in a new survey released today) and he is looking strong in a number of red states - any one of which would be enough to put him over the top. In today’s batch of surveys, Obama leads outside of the margin of error in a survey from Ohio and a survey from Florida.

Both states are of course absolutely crucial for McCain’s prospects - and both are at this point clearly inching away from him. Obama has led 9 of the last 11 Ohio polls, the only McCain edges being a 1% lead in the latest Rasmussen and a late September SUSA. That said, Obama’s margin remains generally tight, and he has not surged as much in this state as in others (like Virginia). In Florida, Obama has led in the past eight polls - and in all conducted in October! While McCain has been within the margin of error in some of these, but Obama has also pulled ahead by 7% or 8% in a few surveys.

Finally, new states continue to pop up as endangered. It was West Virginia yesterday, and Georgia today. The latest Insider Advantage poll from the Peach State finds Obama within the MoE - and closing the gap for the third IA poll in a row. Obama pulled out of the state in mid-September, when McCain’s prospects were at their highest; was that too hurried a decision? The early voting numbers are very encouraging for Democrats, as I have noted a few times, and at the very least Democratic competitiveness could help Jim Martin in the Senate race.

One good news for McCain is that he has a solid lead in NE-02 in the first poll of the district alone since the summer. Obama has just opened a second field office in Omaha in hope of taking that electoral vote - but for now he has a big gap to close. On to the day’s full presidential roundup:

  • Obama retains his dominant position in the day’s tracking polls. He leads 52% to 40% in Research 2000 (+2%), 51% to 41% in Gallup (-1%), 50% to 45% in Rasmussen, 48% to 41% in Diego Hotline (+1%) and 48% to 43% in Zogby (+1%). Interestingly, Zogby specified that the Thursday night sample was the best Obama has had yet and he is above 50% for the first time; also note that Zogby’s partisan weighing is much tighter than other surveys, which explains why it is finding smaller margins.
  • In the first national poll taken entirely after Tuesday’s presidential debate: Obama leads 46% to 39% in a new Fox News/Opinion Dynamics national poll. He led by 6% two weeks ago. Obama’s favorability is now at a high of 60%, while McCain is at 53%. Another interesting internal: 51% say McCain is waging the more negative campaign (versus 27%). And 32% say they are less likely to vote for Obama because of Ayers; 61% say it makes no difference.
  • Obama leads 49% to 44% in an Insider Advantage poll of Ohio. Obama led by 2% last week. This poll was conducted after the presidential debate.
  • McCain leads 48% to 46% in a WSOC-TV poll of North Carolina.
  • McCain leads 49% to 46% in an Insider Advantage poll of Georgia. He led by 6% last week, 8% the week before and 18% before that! Did the Obama campaign pull out too soon?
  • McCain leads 53% to 40% in a Research 2000 poll of Nebraska’s second district. An electoral vote is at stake here.

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

  • Kay Hagan leads 49% to 44% in a Rasmussen poll of North Carolina’s Senate race. She led by 3% two weeks ago.
  • Hagan leads 44% to 43% in a WSOC-TV poll of the same race.
  • Mitch McConnell leads 48% to 45% in an internal poll for the Lunsford campaign in Kentucky’s Senate race.
  • In WA-08, a Research 2000 poll finds Rep. Reichert leading 49% to 41% while an internal poll for the Burner campaign find her trailing 48% to 45%.
  • In NE-02, Rep. Terry leads 49% to 39% in a Research 2000 poll. The DCCC surprisingly invested money in this district.
  • In TX-10, GOP Rep. Culberson leads 48% to 40% against Michael Skelly in a Research 2000 poll.
  • In AL-02, Bobby Bright leads Jay Love 46% to 45% in an internal poll, but he led by 10% in his previous internal!
  • In MI-09, a Mitchell Research poll with a 6% MoE has a tie at 43%, while a DCCC poll finds Gary Peters crushing Rep. Knollenberg 46% to 37%. Peters led by 4% in an August DCCC poll.
  • In MI-07, a DCCC poll finds Democrat Mark Schauer leading 43% to 35%.
  • In MO-09, a DCCC poll finds Democrat Judy Baker leading 40% to 36%.
  • In OH-15, a DCCC poll finds Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy leading 44% to 36%, with 7% going to independent candidate Don Eckart.

Senate: Lunsford’s poll comes in the heels of a McConnell internal showing the incumbent up 9%. There is thus a consensus from all pollsters (SUSA, Rasmussen, Mason Dixon and the two campaigns) that this has become a single-digit race, and the race has undoubtedly become competitive, with a slight lean towards McConnell. In North Carolina, Kay Hagan continues to inch ahead and a third institute (Civitas) has a headline on their website proclaiming that Hagan has taken a lead in their poll but they have yet to release the numbers.

House: As always, take internal polls with a grain of salt, but they do paint a very rosy picture for House Democrats and it is noticeable how few internal polls GOP candidates or the NRCC are releasing. The numbers might not be as bad as those of the DCCC polls, but there is no question that House Republicans are facing a disaster while once vulnerable Democratic incumbents (Hill in IN-09) are looking strong. Particularly noteworthy in this batch of surveys is the DCCC’s numbers from Michigan - both Republican incumbents are in big trouble now that the McCain campaign left the state, and any incumbent who polls under 40% is in big trouble, no matter what survey that number is coming from.

That said, two pieces of good news for Republicans: (1) WA-08 remains a disappointment for Democrats, as Research 2000 follows SUSA in finding a comfortable lead for Reichert. Things are not going well for Darcy Burner, who lost by 2% in 2006, as she has high enough name recognition at this point that she cannot benefit from a last minute challenger surge as voters learn about her. It looks like the GOP raised the negatives high enough in 2006 that she is having trouble recovering. (2) There was a point at which AL-02 seemed to be trending for Bobby Bright, but the GOP seems to have closed the gap - and credit to Bright for releasing an internal poll with a very bad trendline for him (-9%).



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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