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Category Archive for ‘Minnesota’ at Campaign Diaries
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Archive for the 'Minnesota' Category


Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

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Gubernatorial rating changes: Arkansas is now the sole safe governorship for Democrats

We are down to only one safe Democratic governorship anywhere in the country.

With New York moving to the “likely Democratic” column due to a series of developments (Rick Lazio’s withdrawal, polls showing a single-digit race, questions about Attorney General-fatigue) and with Governor Lynch looking increasingly shaky in New Hampshire’s until-recently safe governorship, Democrats don’t have much left to hang onto. And they should be grateful key governorships like Missouri, Washington and North Carolina are not in play this year.

And yet, despite the large number of contests that have moved towards the GOP in recent months, Democratic odds continue to brighten in the country’s biggest prize: California. Despite Jerry Brown’s many gaffes (I still find it hard to believe he let himself be baited into attacking Bill Clinton) and Meg Whitman’s record spending, the Democrat looked like he was finally opening up a lead in recent weeks - and that was before Whitman’s former housekeeper shook-up the race with her accusatory press conference. Whitman has been on the defensive ever since, even offering to take a polygraph test before retracting herself. I am leaving the race in the toss-up section for now, but it’s certainly tilting Democratic - something I would certainly not had said two weeks ago.

And Democrats got good news from a far more unlikelier place this week: the Midwest! While the entire region looked all but lost for Democratic candidates, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn have suddenly rebounded in a series of polls (3 Ohio polls showing a 1%-race within 24 hours whereas we hadn’t since that type of margin since June, and 2 Illinois surveys showing a toss-up); they both remain “lean Republican” for now, but whereas two weeks ago both states were close to moving further towards the GOP they are now very much in play. Also in the Midwest, there is now enough evidence that Minnesota looks good for Democrats that I am moving the race out of the toss-up column.

Unfortunately for Democrats, the other big “toss-up” prize is going the other direction. Rick Scott’s millions look to be having the same effect in the general election as they did in the GOP primary, as he has erased the consistent advantage Alex Sink enjoyed since late August. This is a race Democrats should really focus on - both because of Florida’s size and because the contest remains very much winnable given Scott’s obvious vulnerabilities. In other good news for the GOP, Georgia and New Mexico move to “lean Republican” while Iowa and Oklahoma move to “likely Republican.”

Safe GOP Likely GOP Lean GOP Toss-up Lean Dem Likely Dem Safe Dem
Dem-held Kansas
Wyoming
Iowa
Michigan
Oklahoma
Tennessee
Illinois
NM
Ohio
Pennsylvania
Wisconsin
Maine
Maryland
Oregon
Massachusetts Colorado
NH
New York
Arkansas
GOP-held Idaho
Nebraska
SD
Utah
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Nevada
SC
Georgia
Texas
California
Florida
Vermont
Connecticut
Hawaii
Minnesota
Rhode Island

Georgia, toss-up to lean Republican: While Roy Barnes remains very much in contention, Georgia has become too GOP-friendly a state for a Democrat not to be an underdog - especially when it doesn’t appear that turnout among African-Americans (a key constituency for Democrats in any state, let alone in Georgia) will be anywhere as high as in 2008. Add to that the fact that the race will go to a December runoff if neither candidate reaches 50%, and the very least we can say is that Barnes will not be the victor on November 2nd. That said, it is fairly likely he’ll be able to hold former Rep. Nathan Deal under that threshold too. Deal might have taken a consistent albeit narrow lead in the polls, but he has a lot of baggage (remember that he resigned from the House in the hopes of avoiding the release of a damning ethics report) that might get wider exposure in a runoff campaign.

Iowa, lean Republican to likely Republican: It’s hard to remember, but Governor Culver actually started the cycle in a fairly comfortable position; that was before the electorate turned against Democrats, before the Midwest became ground zero of the party’s nightmare and before Terry Branstad announced he would seek his old position back. Culver trailed Branstad massively from the beginning of the campaign, and the more we approach Election Day the more hopeless his situation becomes. It’s one thing for an incumbent to trail by double-digits a year before the election; quite another six weeks prior. At the moment, Iowa no longer appears to be in play - and Branstad is probably going to become king-maker as head of the state that is going to lunch the 2012 Republican primaries.

Minnesota, toss-up to lean Democratic: Minnesota is one relatively bright spot for Democrats. Since Democrats nominated Mark Dayton to be their nominee, the former Senator has enjoyed a decent lead in a series of polls - typically in the high single-digits. This can be attributed to a number of factors. For one, the incumbent Governor is a Republican - a rare sight in the Midwest, and one that seems to be diminishing voters’ desire to turn to the GOP to achieve changeover.

Second, Republican nominee Tom Emmer is very conservative, especially on social issues - more than is advisable for a GOP nominee in a swing state that typically tilts to the left. While many other conservatives are highly competitive in blue states (think of Brady in Illinois), the fact that this an open race means Emmer cannot just deflect attention to an incumbent’s unpopularity. Furthermore, the presence of Independent Party nominee Tom Horner gives moderates who do not want to vote for a Democrat this year a place to go other than Emmer. And we certainly cannot rule out Horner becoming a contender for the win; he is flirting with the 20% bar in polls.

New Mexico, toss-up to lean Republican: Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish has to be all the more pained at the collapse of her gubernatorial prospects that she was so close from becoming Governor at the end of 2008: Obama had appointed Governor Bill Richardson to his Cabinet, and had Richardson not withdrawn from consideration Denish would have replaced him in the Governor’s Mansion. But that only seemed to delay her coronation, as Denish started off in a strong position to win the open Governor’s race in 2010.

That was before it became clear just how powerful the GOP wave had become - and just how much Democrats would suffer in states in which they are unpopular at the local level on top of the national level. New Mexico is one of these states. While it looked to have swung decisively blue in 2008, Richardson’s ethical struggles combined and the state’s economic difficulties transformed the political landscape - and what was unimaginable 18 months ago is now very much true: Denish is undeniably trailing her Republican opponent, DA Susana Martinez, who has been highly-touted by GOP officials ever since she won her primary. Going forward, remember that New Mexico is one of those states Obama has to defend in 2010.

New York, safe Democratic to likely Democratic: Governor Carl Paladino… That’s such a difficult notion to entertain I have trouble upgrading the GOP’s prospects in this race, but there is no question that what long looked like an Andrew Cuomo juggernaut has weakened. His 40% leads are no more, and while all polls still show he remains the clear favorite, two post-primary surveys have found that the race is down to single-digits. Perhaps the sight of a Governor-in-waiting annoyed New Yorkers and perhaps there is something to the argument that an Attorney General’s popularity is shallow and can easily be punctured (as was demonstrated with Martha Coakley and to a lesser extent with Richard Blumenthal); or perhaps the margin was always bound to shrink given that suburban New Yorkers already signaled in November 2009 just how much they were ready to oust Democrats (Tom Suozzi can speak to that). Add to that Rick Lazio’s decision to drop out of the race, allowing Paladino to consolidate the Conservative Party line on top of the GOP line, and a path to victory opens up for the Republican nominee.

That said, New York is still a reliably Democratic state and Paladino (a millionaire best-known for sending out racist emails, for getting in a physical altercation with a New York Post reporter and for proposing to house welfare recipients in prisons) is so extremist that a number of Republicans have looked uncomfortable campaigning for him. The mere fact that we’re considering a victory by Paladino  possible is a testament to the GOP’s success this year; it’s hard to imagine Republicans can hope for more

Oklahoma, lean Republican to likely Republican: On paper, Democrats should have a good chance to defend this governorship: Not only do they have a strong candidate in Lieutenant Governor Jeri Askins but they won the last open race, which held in 2002 - no bright year for their party. But the electorate is far more hostile towards Democrats this year than it was eight years ago. Oklahoma is simply too conservative a state for Republicans not to be clearly favored in these circumstances, and Republican Rep. Mary Fallin (a former Lieutenant Governor) is not the type of politician to blunder her way out of front-running status. One thing is clear: Oklahoma will have its first female Governor come 2011.


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Weekly update: Besides the IN confusion, KS Dems hope they’ve finally found someone to field

The week started in unexpectedly dramatic fashion when Senator Evan Bayh drove a stake to the DSCC’s hopes of not having to also worry about Indiana; it should also lead to an additional open seat in the House - though we won’t know that for sure until the Democratic party committee taps a replacement for Bayh. Another state with important developments this week was Ohio, which became the 8th state to move past its filing deadline, as I wrote about yesterday.

But forget Evan Bayh: The biggest shocker of the cycle is that Democrats are landing statewide candidates in Kansas! State Senator Tom Holland announced this week that he would take on Senator Sam Brownback in the Governor’s race, giving Democrats hope of at least pulling off a decent showing at the head of the ticket  (that could have repercussions down-ballot). While Holland is the heavy underdog, Democrats are quick to note that he beat two Republican incumbents in 2002 and in 2008 to first be elected to the state House and the state Senate. The party will also milk the one advantage its candidate will have in these difficult circumstances: attack Brownback for practicing “Washington-style politics” while touting Holland’s local roots. “He hasn’t been in Washington for 16 years, he’s been here - building a business, raising his family and serving his community,” said Lieut. Gov. Troy Findley.

Democrats are also hopeful that Holland will inspire state Senator David Haley to jump in the open Senate race, where they currently have no candidate. Since the GOP nominee will be a U.S. House member, this could help the party use the same template in both statewide races, but more on this if Haley actually pulls the trigger.

In California, Senator Diane Feinstein finally put the speculation to rest for good as she closed the door to a gubernatorial run without allowing herself any hedges. This confirms what we have known since the fall: Attorney General Jerry Brown faces no real competition for the Democratic nomination, which few people could have expected as the cycle started given how many ambitious politicians California has. I do think the party could have positioned itself better for the general election; not only can Brown be attacked for being the consummate insider, but how credibly can he propose to fix the state’s terrible fiscal situation given his responsibility in the passage and implementation of Prop 13? In other statewide news, San Fransisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, last seen dropping out of the Governor’s race, prepared himself to run for Lieutenant Governor, a surprising move given that the job doesn’t have any real power as opposed to being mayor of a major city.

In Minnesota, the once very large GOP field has now been reduced to just three candidates as state Senator David Hann became the fifth candidate to drop out. That leaves state Rep. Marty Seifert, state Rep. Tom Emmer and former state Rep. Bill Haas as the only politicians seeking the Republican nod, with Seifert and Emmer looking like the clear front-runners ever since Norm Coleman passed on the race. Hann’s withdrawal could help Emmer, as both men represent Hennepin County while Seifert is from Southwestern Minnesota, though ultimately this could matter little since the nomination should be decided at a convention at which I believe a candidate needs 50% of delegates. (I wrote more about Minnesota last month.)

In North Carolina, there is now a fourth candidate seeking the Democratic nomination: Marcus Williams, an attorney from Lumberton. While he would not appear to be a threat to win the nomination, he could pull a significant share of the vote: In the 2008 Senate primary, he received an impressive 13% of the vote (more than 170,000 votes) and won more counties than Jim Neal despite the fact that the latter’s challenge to Kay Hagan won more attention nationwide. If Williams can once again draw a substantial share of the vote, it could help Elaine Marshall by making it difficult for one of her rivals to differentiate himself and get momentum - but it could also ensure that no candidate tops 50% in the May 4th first round. [Correction: In NC, a candidate needs to get only 40% to clinch the nomination in the first round. That diminishes the possibility Williams's entry to prevent Marshall from avoiding a runoff, while the point about his fracturing the field too much for one candidate to catch-up remains valid.]

In Iowa, one of the four Republican candidates dropped out of the Governor’s race: state Rep. Bob Rants, who served as the state’s Speaker between 2003 and 2006. This leaves former Governor Terry Branstad, Bob Vander Plaats and state Rep. Rod Roberts. Rants’ withdrawal improves Vander Plaats’s odds of pulling an upset against Branstad but potentially helping him coalesce the support of conservatives, over which the two men were competing (Rants for instance said that he would veto every single bill that comes out of the state legislature, including the budget, until both chambers vote on a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage). After all, while Branstad has had problem with his right flank throughout his decades in politics, he is too formidable a candidate to envision him losing in a crowded field with numerous conservative candidates.

In Rhode Island, it long looked like no one wanted the GOP’s gubernatorial nomination but there is now a second candidate in the race: former state Rep. Victor Moffitt while go after John Robitaille, the incumbent Governor’s communications director. Neither can be sure to be a competitive general election nominee, but the more state Republicans get invested in their nominee the harder it could be for the now-independent Lincoln Chaffee to pull out a victory in a 3-way race.

As always, I list all the changes I have logged in during the week to the retirement and race-by-race pages. First, updates to Retirement Watch:

New open seats Senator Evan Bayh (D, Indiana)
Will not retire Rep. Pat Tiberi (R, OH-12)
Rep. Bill Young (R, FL-10)
Added to retirement watch Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D, IN-08)

Next, the recruitment page:

AZ-Sen, GOP Chris Simcox dropped out
IN-Sen, Dem Rep. Joe Donnelly added to list
Rep. Brad Ellsworth wants the Dem nod
Rep. Baron Hill added to list
Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott wants the Dem nod
businesswoman Bren Simon added to list
state Senate Minority Leader Vi Simpson ruled out run
Evansville mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel ruled out run
IN-Sen, GOP Don Bates Jr is running
plumbing company owner Richard Behney is running
Governor Mitch Daniels will not run
KS-Sen, Dem state Senator David Haley added to list
NC-Sen, Dem attorney Marcus Williams announced run
OH-Sen, GOP Charlena Renee Bradley is running
Traci Johnson is running
OH-Sen, GOP car dealer Tom Ganley dropped out

Third, updates to gubernatorial races:

CA-Gov, Dem Senator Dianne Feinstein will not run
IA-Gov, GOP state Rep. Chris Rants dropped out
KS-Gov, Dem state Senator Tom Holland is running
MI-Gov, Dem former Treasurer Robert Bowman will not run
county Treasurer Dan Kildee formed exploratory committee
MN-Gov, Dem state Senator David Hann dropped out
NE-Gov, Dem agribusiness executive Mark Lakers added
PA-Gov, Dem Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty dropped out
RI-Gov, GOP former state Rep. Victor Moffitt announced run
SC-Gov, Dem Mullins McLeod dropped out

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Tracking movement in AR-01, MN-03 and the two Orlando districts

Rep. Paulsen unlikely to struggle in MN-03

As 2008 came to a close, Democrats were expected to mount a top-tier challenge against freshman Rep. Erik Paulsen, one of 2008’s unlikeliest Republican victors since he won a district Obama carried. Paulsen’s victory was partly due to the lackluster campaign of Democratic nominee Ashwin Madia, one of the many failed House candidates who confirmed that having served in the Iraq War is not enough to be elected. Madia had secured the DFL’s endorsement at the party’s convention over state Senator Terri Bonoff, whom Democrats were hoping would run again in 2010 but who announced this week she would do no such thing.

Two Democrats are still seeking the DFL’s nomination: psychiatrist Maureen Hackett, who might not need the DCCC’s attention since he appears to be self-funding, and Minnesota PTA President Jim Meffert. Things could get interesting in Democrats right their ship nationally, but as of now Bonoff’s move leaves Republicans with one less seat of their own to worry about.

Interestingly, Bonoff voiced interest in running in 2012, after redistricting. Not only could that yield significant change because Minnesota might see its number of seat change (it looks unlikely at this point, but not impossible), but if Democrats pick-up the Governor’s Mansion this year they would be able to draw a favorable map. Given that he represents an Obama district in which more Democratic precincts can easily be added, Paulsen would surely be the party’s main target.

AR-01 sees little activity since Berry’s retirement

While Democrats recently met some recruitment success in AR-02, they are still searching for their flag-bearer in the other Arkansas open seat they must defend. In recent days, two Democrats announced they would not run - the first of which was Democrats’ strongest potential candidate, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel. The move was entirely expected (McDaniel has been eying the Governor’s Mansion, which he’ll probably run for in 2014 when Mike Beebe is term-limited), but the DCCC is probably nonetheless disappointed. Another Democrat also bowed out of the race: state Sen. Robert Thompson.

One Democrat who is preparing to run is Chad Causey, Berry’s chief of staff. I doubt this is going to get Democrats that excited. While congressional staffers sometimes pull off victories of their own, it is tough to see Democrats hold AR-01 if they cannot nominate a candidate whom voters have already grown to know and be comfortable with; otherwise, how can they resist Arkansans’ increasing comfort with shedding their loyalty to the Democratic Party?

That said, the party has such a deep bench in the state that they still have many elected officials who could run, including state Senators Steve Byrles, Paul Bookout, Tim Wooldridge, Kevin Smith as well as a number of state representatives. Furthermore, the Republican side has been just as curiously inactive: Radio owner Rick Crawford was already in the race when Berry retired and no other Republican has joined him since then, though a couple of state legislators have yet to rule out doing so. I would argue that this is one district in which the quality of the GOP nominee is less important than the quality of the Democratic nominee, however.

Gutierrez drops out in FL-8

For months, Republicans struggled to recruit a credible nominee against Rep. Alan Grayson but in recent months a number of candidates have emerged to challenge the outspoken progressive, namely state Rep. Kurt Kelly and businessman Bruce O’Donoghue, who appears to be the NRCC’s preferred candidate because he might be willing to self-fund a campaign. (Note that Grayson is one of the biggest self-funders in Congress, so spending could quickly skyrocket.)

O’Donoghue and Kelly’s entry allowed the GOP establishment to marginalize 28-year old developer Armando Gutierrez, whom for a time in the fall had come to look as the party’s probable nominee. Thanks to his family’s connections to Southern Florida’s political establishment, Gutierrez had received the endorsements of at least 2 House members and numerous state legislators, but his lack of familiarity with the Orlando area (he had just moved to the region from Southern Florida a few weeks before he entered the race) led to NRCC concerns that they were endangering what they view as one of their top opportunities of the cycle.

Yet, Gutierrez announced this week that he was dropping out, explaining that he was now more interested in trying to bring a baseball team to Orlando. “I feel I can do more for the Central Florida economy by bringing a baseball team to the community than I can as a Member of Congress,” he said. This development leaves Kelly, O’Donoghue pitted against attorney Todd Long and Tea Party activist Patricia Sullivan in what will be one of Florida’s many highly contested GOP primaries: Given that these fights will not be settled until late August, might this help Democrats?

The question applies not just to FL-8 but also to the Senate race, where the summer battle ought to be brutal, and to FL-24, where the Republican field might be getting even more crowded soon. With Winter Park City Commissioner Karen Diebel and state Rep. Sandy Adams headlining the GOP primary for now, the NRCC has nonetheless been looking for an alternative because of their preference for someone who can afford buying himself a congressional seat: Craig Miller, the CEO of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, is now reportedly planning to run and use his deep pockets to finance his challenge to Kosmas. That should also make for a rough primary.


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Coleman exit and threat of late Dem primary shake up Minnesota race

Democrats desperately looking to find some good news to latch unto among the recent avalanche of bleak developments could do worse than look at Minnesota’s gubernatorial election, a rare open seat race in which things have tended to break Democrats‘ way. The past month alone has shook up the race.

Last week, Norm Coleman announced he would not run as Governor. Since the former senator had appeared to be preparing himself for a run, including conducting polling and considering the choice of a running-mate, his decision took his party aback. While Coleman faced clear electability questions (he has lost 2 out of 3 statewide races and 2008 Senate race made his unfavorability ratings soar very high), many Republicans were eager to see him run because they do not have that many options in the state: The party’s first choice, moderate former Rep. Jim Ramstad, announced he would not run in the summer, perhaps because his moderate reputation would have made it tough for him to win the nomination through the state’s convention system.

Worse still, Coleman pulled a Beau Biden: He waited so long to make up his mind that he sucked up all the oxygen and made it tough for other Republicans to mount credible campaigns. Just a few days before Coleman’s statement, former Auditor Pat Anderson dropped out of the race, citing the difficulty she had experienced in raising money given that Republican donors were waiting to see what Coleman was up to. “I think the shadow is real,” she said. “And it’s affected us all as candidates.”

This leaves a somewhat underwhelming field headlined by state Reps. Marty Seifert and Tom Emmer, both of whom are part of the party’s conservative wing. With the first caucuses just a few weeks away - and the full convention just three months away - the two are engaged in a heated effort to portray themselves as being furthest to the right. Whatever the environment in 2010, that’s not exactly the recipe to win statewide victory in a blue-leaning state; while a red wave could carry Seifert or Emmer through the finish line, the GOP could have put itself in a better position.

The GOP’s drive rightward is giving the Independence Party hope it could pull a remake of its 1998 upset, in which Jesse Ventura pulled of an unlikely 3-way victory. “Because the Republicans will now likely endorse a more extreme candidate, this makes it even more likely that the Independence Party’s candidate will regain the governor’s office in 2010,” said the IP chairman last week. The IP has not been able to get close to repeating its 1998 feat, and it’s not like it has even tried to do so in every major race; the 2008 Senate race did see a major IP push, however, with Dean Barkley receiving close to 20% of the vote. If the party does field a competitive candidate in the coming months, it could obviously affect the contest’s dynamics.

This week, a candidate stepped up to asked for the IP’s support: public relations executive Tom Horner, who has long been involved in Republican politics, announced he is launching an exploratory committee and would run if he can translate his GOP contacts into contributions. For a candidate like Horner to make it to the general election ballot would probably help the Democratic nominee. (Interestingly, the second IP candidate who emerged this week - Joe Repya - is also a former Republican.)

Not that Democrats are anywhere close to figuring out who will represent them in November. In fact, the party has a problem of its own, namely the possibility that it will not figure out its nominee until months after Republicans and Independents do.

In Minnesota, nomination fights are typically decided in conventions that are held in the spring; losing candidates are expected to bow to delegates’ will and not pursue their party’s nod all the way to the mid-September primary. This field-thinning is all the more certain to take place when candidates are low-profile politicians whose main hope to gain the nomination is to appeal to party activists; for instance, it is tough to see how Tom Emmer could win the GOP primary if the entire party apparatus rallied behind Marty Seifert following his eventual convention win. As such, Republicans are likely to go into the summer with an undisputed front-runner.

That’s more than we can say of Democrats. In officially announcing his long-certain candidacy this week, former Senator Mark Dayton announced that he would include his name in neither the February straw polls nor in the April convention ballots. In short, he is bypassing the usual nominating route and moving straight to the primary ballot. What this means: Whoever wins the delegates’ endorsement in three months (Minneapolis Mayor Rybak is the favorite, though there are other credible contenders like Speaker Margaret Anderson) will need to follow up the convention fight with a very tough interparty campaign that will not be resolved until September 14th, less than 2 months from the general election!

While Dayton brings major electability problems to the race - he retired from the Senate in 2006 largely because he was considered one of the cycle’s most vulnerable incumbents - it’s hard to deny Democrats have more formidable candidates heading into convention season. Might their edge be endangered if the GOP nominee gets a head start to prepare for the general election, soften his conservatism and build-up his profile?


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Dems get bad news in two red districts they’d made 2010 priorities

Within hours of Parker Griffith’s defection, the DCCC got two other signs that the political winds have shifted over the past year, transforming strong Democratic opportunities into long-shots. Indeed, at the start of the cycle Democrats had not given up the hope of scoring substantial gains: With California looking like it has untapped resources and a number of GOP incumbents coming out of the 2008 cycle with an aura of vulnerability , 2010 was the opportunity to pick-up additional seats.

One such incumbent is Rep. Michelle Bachmann. Defeating her has been a liberal priority ever since she became one of the far right’s leading spokespeople, and the party has recruited strong challengers against her: state Senator Tarryl Clark and Maureen Reed, a doctor who has been insisting she will now bow out for Clark and who’s been able to maintain herself due to surprisingly strong fundraising. With Bachmann regularly in the news for some statement or another, Democrats have been hoping these candidates can appeal to independents and perhaps even moderate Republicans.

Yet, a new PPP shows Bachmann is a strong position to win a third term. Not only does she have a solid approval rating (53% to 41%), including 51% approval among independents, but she has large leads against both Democrats: 55% to 37% against Clark, 53% to 37% against Reed. While her challengers are less-known that the incumbent, the poll doesn’t suggest respondents are reluctant to vote for Bachmann since she easily crosses the 50% threshold in both match-ups. There is no substantial pool of voters who are turned off by the incumbent and are looking for an alternative.

Given that MN-06 was one of the DCCC’s top eight offensive priorities according to comments made over the summer by the committee’s executive officer, these numbers sure are rough.

PPP compares Bachmann’s standing to that of Herseth Sandlin, the South Dakota Democrat who led her top competitor 46% to 39% in a poll released last week. Both incumbents have a similar approval rating spread (+12% and +11%, respectively), yet the latter has a far smaller lead and fails to cross 50%. That’s striking considering the fact that Herseth Sandlin has coasted to triumphant re-elections in 2006 and 2008 whereas Bachmann has struggled to win on both occasions. This suggests that many voters typically open to voting for a Democrat are very reluctant to do so this year, whereas there is no such qualms among those who typically lean right.

This situation might not limit Democratic opportunities in districts like LA-02, DE-AL, PA-06 and IL-10, and it doesn’t prevent the party from winning swing seats like MN-03 and the California districts that swung to Obama. But it does make it tough to envision a Democratic challenger pick-up a red district like MN-06, which did give McCain a 8% victory: Wave or no wave, the sort of cross-over voting this would be required is unlikely to occur in the midterm election of a Democratic president.

That situation is surely weighing hard on the mind of candidates who are challenging Republican incumbents in challenging districts: They got in at a time Democrats seemed like they could do anything, and they’re now stuck in races that look rather unwinnable - or at least far more difficult to pull off. One such candidate was businessman Jack McDonald, who was challenging Rep. Michael McCaul.

TX-10 is one of those districts which are bound to be very competitive some time in the future due to demographic changes, and while we aren’t there yet the past three presidential results are telling: Bush won by 33% in 2000, he won by 24% in 2004 and McCain won by 11% last year. That same day, McCaul was held to 54% by a Democrat who was barely noticed by national observers until the final weeks of the campaign. His 2010 opponent, however, was noticed within the first few months of 2009: He massively outraised the incumbent in the first quarter ($311,000 to $98,000), a rare discrepancy that he managed to repeat in the second and third quarter. Reporting nearly $1 million in contributions in an off-year is certainly enough to get national Democrats’ attention: The DCCC’s executive officer also included TX-10 among the party’s top eight priorities.

Fast forward to December: While the DCCC is no longer as focused on playing offense, it is nonetheless excited when McDonald finally formally announces a run (he had only formed an exploratory committee for most of 2009). But in a bizarrely speedy twist, McDonald announced last night that he was dropping out. There are only 10 more days before the filing deadline and $1 million in contribution that just evaporated: Gone are Democrats’ chances of contest the district. McCaul will most probably coast to an easy re-election.

For one of the party’s eight priorities to suddenly go completely off the map is quite a blow, not only because of what it does to TX-10 but also because of what it says about Democrats’ mood elsewhere. Consider that the party’s top recruit also recently dropped out in another of the DCCC’s top priorities: OH-02! I was never convinced that race merited an inclusion on that list when there were so many more promising districts in California, but at the very least this speaks to Democratic fortunes in those races the DCCC was looking to focus on.

If these developments are troubling for the DCCC, they’re all the more worrisome for Blue Dogs. We already knew that the coalition will lose many members (senior members are retiring, a number of junior recruits will probably lose their re-election races, and one of their members just became a Republican yesterday!), but we are now learning that they’re unlikely to gain any new members. The districts Democrats pick-up next year will be in districts like DE-AL and IL-10, which are unlikely to elect a conservative; Democrats who were looking to join Blue Dogs (McDonald and Maureen Reed have both been using that label to describe themselves) are running in districts that are looking like increasingly tough propositions for the party. Democrats might lose seats next year, but it won’t necessarily make it that harder for Nancy Pelosi to pass her priorities.


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DCCC seeks to counter expectation of mounting Dem retirements

Following the streak of four Democratic retirements in as many weeks, all eyes are on veteran lawmakers who represent marginal districts and who might be tempted to follow the likes of John Tanner and Brat Gordon out the door. Today, the DCCC pushed back by getting a number of such Democrats to go on the record as ruling out a retirement.

There are a number of reasons the DCCC would want to counter the growing expectations that it will face a mounting number of Democratic retirements. For one, this can slow down the narrative of an embattled party that risks losing its majority, which would only create a downward spiral, depress donors and embolden Republicans. Second, the NRCC has been circling around around any Democrats who are mentioned as a potential retirees in the hope of pressuring them into retirement; for a congressman to go on the record as committed to seeking another term can get them temporarily off the GOP’s priority list. Third, the expectation that a congressman will retire can give momentum to his declared opponents, who will raise money off of the rumors that they’ll be running in an open seat and thus be stronger candidates if the incumbent remains in the race after all.

The most definitive and trustworthy push back came from Rep. Chet Edwards, who occupies the most Republican district represented by a Democrat: It is fairly incredible that he managed to survive Tom DeLay’s redistricting, which put him in a district that gave Bush 70% of the vote in 2004 and gave John McCain 67% of the vote last year. Needless to say, an open seat in TX-17 would be a near-certain GOP pick-up. Thankfully for the DCCC, Edwards’s camp made it clear today he will be on the 2010 ballot.

Why do I say this development is the most definitive of the list? Texas’s filing period has already started, and the deadline is coming up in just 3 weeks! It is impossible Edwards (who is no Lieberman) would be bluffing this late in the process, so this is one announcement Democrats can trust.

Second is Rep. Collin Peterson, the powerful Minnesota Blue Dog who chairs the Agriculture Committee. Just a few days ago, Peterson hinted that he would not make a final decision until February but he released a statement today blasting those who would suggest that this waiting period is anything but a formality: “I’m running for re-election and anyone who knows me knows that what I’m doing now is what I’ve always done. My paperwork is on file and in February I’ll make an official announcement.”

Third, fourth and fifth are Rep. Ike Skelton, Rep. Tim Holden and Rep. Lincoln Davis whose spokespeople told the press that their bosses would seek another term next year. All three represent red district. Davis might be getting lonely, since two of his fellow Tennessee Democrats announced they would leave Congress in recent weeks; Holden is still relatively young (52), but he was on the NRCC’s list of potential retirees; Skelton, finally, is the 78-year old chair of the House Armed Services Committee. His retirement would have not only sent shock waves through the Democrats’ seniority ranks, but also given the GOP a golden shot at a district that gave McCain 61% of the vote.

We should continue to track of these incumbents (except Edwards, and arguably Peterson, who made it pretty clear he expects to run again). Spokespeople routinely insist that their boss will run for re-election, and it does not always play out that way. After all, incumbents like Holden and Skelton might be hoping to get the GOP off their back while they finish making up their mind. That said, none of them were forced to come out with such statements and they must be at the very least leaning against retiring if they did; it should also calm anxious DCCC officials and give pause to the growing narrative about panic in Blue Dog ranks.

On the other hand, we also learned today that Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt is not committing to running in 2010; this is I believe the first time we get confirmation that he is mulling a retirement. This would be a particularly big blow to Democrats: While seats like TN-6 and LA-3 would be tough holds in any environment, SC-5 (which gave John McCain 53%) is the type of red-leaning district in which the party could have a very good shot at playing defense in a neutral environment.

No open seat doesn’t mean safe seat

Of course, that one of these Democrats chooses not to retire does not mean their districts will remain Democratic. In particular, TX-17 looks like a tough hold. In late November, the NRCC suffered a rare recruitment blow when state Sen. Steve Ogden announced he would not run but businessman Bill Flores is now set to enter the race with his vast fortune: He has already promised half-a-million dollars. This is such a GOP district that any Republican starts with a large share of the vote while Edwards has practically no base to rely on. In 2008, Edwards’s opponent received 46% of the vote after running a low-profile campaign; Flores’s millions could help turn TX-17’s voters against the incumbent and channel conservative anger to ensure Edwards receives less cross-over support than he’s used to.

The NRCC has also been determined to include Skelton to its target list: While the Missouri Democrat has topped 60% in all but one of his reelection races, his district has been trending red - it gave McCain 61% after giving Bush 60% in 2000. Former state Rep. Hartzler, who has devoted herself to socially conservative caucuses, is challenging Skelton; she should not pause much of a challenge in normal conditions but if the environment is as toxic for Democrats as the GOP is hoping, she could motivate the Republican base enough to score an upset.

As for the other names on this list: Lincoln Davis does not seem like he should have that much to fear from physician Scott DesJarlais but his district did go for McCain by 29%, and Tim Holden and Collin Peterson should be out of the GOP’s reach if they indeed seek another term. Neither PA-17 nor MN-07 are conservative enough to be top Republican priorities, and the NRCC did suffer a recruitment failure against Holden.


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What a surprise: Jan Brewer, R.T. Rybak and Roxane Conlin running

Over the past two days, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and attorney Roxane Conlin signaled they would run statewide next year. All of these decisions had come to be expected, but that doesn’t mean they are not important developments in the 2010 landscape.

Iowa emerges as a race to watch

At the beginning of the year, Democrats were hoping that Chuck Grassley would retire. That has not happened, but it looks like the Iowa senator won’t win a sixth term without a fight: Roxane Conlin will reportedly become a Senate candidate in the days ahead.  A formidable figure in Iowa politics, Grassley remains the heavy favorite but Conlin gives Democrats a rare chance to score an upset.

While she hasn’t ran for office since her failed gubernatorial bid in… 1982, she remained in the public eye enough that a recent Research 2000 poll found that she was well-known (67% of respondents had an opinion about her, the majority of them favorable). She could also find it easy to amass a substantial bank account: She is very well connected, she would receive large donations from trial lawyers and she could use some of her considerable fortune. If nothing else, it’s good for Democrats to field a contender who would be in a position to benefit from Grassley’s troubles if anti-incumbent sentiment runs high next year.

Conlin’s run also keeps Grassley accountable to the center whereas he had only been acting lately as if all he had to fear was a conservative primary. Another side benefit for Democrats: It could help Governor Chet Culver’s re-election bid by bringing in another Democratic contender who could help turnout the vote - the major challenge facing all of the party’s candidates next year. In fact, Conlin herself admits that the desire to help Culver is a major reason she is entering the race.

Brewer will seek a full term

When Jan Brewer was elevated to the position of Arizona Governor when Janet Napolitano resigned earlier this year, she probably was not imagining that this could end up lowering her prospects of winning the 2010 gubernatorial race. And yet, running as an incumbent governor in this environment is a much tougher proposition than getting through an open race as the sitting Secretary of State.

In fact, Brewer’s trouble reach far deeper than those of most governors. She has had a lot of trouble imposing herself, especially given the budget stalemate that’s opposed her to the (GOP-controlled) legislature and her approval rating is stuck around 30% - a dismal level that makes it hard to see how she can survive next year. And yet, Brewer has chosen to seek a full term in 2010: She just announced her bid yesterday.

Her decision will surely delight Democrats: It will be tough for Brewer to beat Attorney General Terry Goddard, the Democrats’ probable nominee, but it’s less likely that other Republicans (like Treasurer Dean Martin) enter the race if they need to face an incumbent governor in the Republican primary. For now, Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker is Brewer’s main GOP rival; he should be able to mount a credible campaign, but he certainly can’t give Republicans confidence they’ll field the strongest general election contender possible.

A prominent entry in Minnesota’s gubernatorial race

I could an entire blog just covering every new candidate in Minnesota’s gubernatorial race, but the latest entrant is among the highest profile contenders yet: Just a few days after easily securing a third term with 72% of the vote, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak filed paperwork to seek the DFL’s nomination. Rybak faces a highly competitive primary against prominent politicians like the state Speaker (Margaret Anderson) and a former Senator (Mark Dayton), but his profile ensures that he’ll rise above much of the field.

And yet, Rybak suffered from a failed start to his campaign: Just a day after he e-mailed his supporters to announce a run, the Minnesota Campaign and Finance Disclosure Board ruled that he had used funds from his mayoral campaign for the gubernatorial race, a violation of campaign finance regulations; Minnesota’s Republican Party had filed a complaint. This ruling amounts to little else than a slap on the rest (the board only ordered the gubernatorial committee to reimburse his mayoral committee), but it’s never good for a campaign to see its kickoff marred by such news stories.

Meanwhile, another Midwestern Democratic Mayor is being increasingly pressured to jump in his state’s gubernatorial race: Two weeks after we learned that Barack Obama favored Tom Barrett in Wisconsin, the Milwaukee mayor met with the White House’s political director to discuss a potential run. Don’t forget that, now that Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton has dropped out of the race (possibly because of signs from the national establishment), Democrats don’t have much of a choice but to convince Barrett to jump in.


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In House races, both parties land prominent challengers

Both parties landed a high-profile House candidate this week, though Democrats have more reason to be satisfied with their recruit than Republicans do.

MN-06: Bachmann gets 3rd Democratic opponent

Democrats already had two credible candidates hoping to face Rep. Michelle Bachmann: 2008 nominee Elwyn Tinklenberg and Maureen Reed. This week, they got a newest entrant who could be Bachmann’s most formidable challenger yet: Assistant Senate Majority Leader Tarryl Clark. Her decision is a sign of confidence: Clark is up for re-election in 2010, so she is giving up her position to run against Bachmann and she will have nothing to fall back on if she loses.

Based on this crowd of candidates, you might think we’re talking about a staunchly blue seat rather than this conservative-leaning district that twice voted for George W. Bush by double-digits and gave John McCain an 8% victory. Bachmann has revealed herself to be such a caricatural representative of the political spectrum’s far-right that she’s sure to be a highly vulnerable target come 2010, but the district is conservative enough that Democrats need a top-tier candidate who can mount a flawless political operation. Clark could be such a candidate.

In the state Senate since 2004, Clark represents portions of three districts that all decisively voted for McCain in 2008 - just like the district as a whole. Her prominent profile makes her the favorite to win the party’s nomination: The winner at a springtime party convention generally goes on to face an uncontested primary and Clark should benefit from establishment support. It also guarantees that a match-up between Bachmann and Clark will be a high-profile affair that wil be covered as such, thus magnifying the effect of any new Bachmann bombshell.

On the other hand, Reed and Tinklenberg definitely remain in the running. The former proved that she should be taken seriously with her surprisingly high fundraiser haul in the second quarter, and the second is vowing to press ahead to get a second chance against the woman he almost defeated last fall.

MI-07: Walberg guarantees high-profile race, is not GOP’s best shot

Republicans insist that Mark Schauer’s 2008 victory was a fluke, that he was helped by Obama’s coattails and by the divisions within the Republican base resulting from Mike Walberg defeating moderate Rep. Joe Schwarz in the 2006 Republican primary. That year, Walberg went on to win the general election as Democrats had not thought of fielding a top candidate but he lost to Schauer by 3% two years later; the 2008 campaign was marked by Schwarz’s decision to cross party lines and endorsed Schauer’s bid, blasting Walberg as a conservative firebrand.

Sure, Schauer might not have won the election had the GOP not split and had the party nominated a less conservative candidate. (This is, after all, a swing district.) But the best way to test that theory is not to renominate the man whose ideological profile was an important reason for the Democrats’ pick-up: This week, Tim Walberg announced that he would seek his old job back via a rematch with Schauer.

Now, Walberg is definitely a strong contender for the seat: He has already served a term, he has higher name recognition than a typical challenger and he can tap into the politico-financial network he acquired in the 2006 and 2008 cycles (especially Club for Growth donors). Furthermore, Michigan is an economically distraught state whose voters could seek to punish Democrats come 2010 (both at the federal and state level). If nothing else, Walberg’s bid guarantees that MI-07 will feature a competitive race well worth watching.

Yet, former lawmakers often do not make the best challengers - especially if their defeat came after a hard-fought race and had nothing to do with the element of surprise. (The NRCC alone spent more than $1 million in the district in 2008.) Also, it’s not like Republicans faced a dearth of candidates: state Senator Cameron Brown and Jackson County Prosecutor Hank Zavislak could have made strong Republican candidates.

KS-04: DCCC lands recruit but district remains tough

The district left open by Rep. Todd Tiahrt is staunchly Republican - Bush received 64%, McCain 58% - and not the best place we would expect Democrats to contest. And yet, the DCCC scored a big enough recruitment coup that KS-04 should at least remain on our radar screen: state Rep. Raj Goyl announced his candidacy last week. Since defeating a Republican incumbent in 2006, Goyl has represented a red-leaning district - giving him as much of a shot for Tiahrt’s House seat as the DCCC can hope for.

While this is undoubtedly good news for Democrats, too much should not be made of it: KS-04, which is far more conservative than Goyl’s state district, did not suddenly become a top-tier race just as HI-01 and CA-47 are not top-tier races because Republicans recruited Charles Djou and Van Tran. It is true that Democrats picked-up open seats that were in even more conservative territory in 2006 and in 2008, but the dynamics of the 2010 cycle will be far different and far less favorable to such upsets. As such, Republicans remain highly favored to win the general election. At the very least, Democrats will need to hope that the GOP primary gets nasty and divisive.


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With GOP poised to nominate conservatives, Dem prospects rise in MN and PA

Despite the recent series of Republican recruitment coups, not every race can go the GOP’s way and recent developments put a serious dent in the party’s prospects of contesting two high-profile elections.

Minnesota: Jim Ramstad heads out

Minnesota might not have elected a Democratic Governor since 1986 (!), but no one thinks the GOP will have an easy time holding on to the position. The party’s best bet was to nominate former Rep. Jim Ramstad, whose moderate credentials and popularity in the pivotal 3rd District made him an appealing statewide candidate. From the early days following Tim Pawlenty’s retirement announcement, it was clear that Democrats were most worried about Ramstad.

Yet, Ramstad ruled out a run yesterday. One explanation for this is that the state’s primary process is dominated by a springtime party convention dominated by conservatives. Ramstad might have assessed it would be tough for him to survive that process, especially in a political environment that is likely to make party activists more concerned about ideological purity than usual.

Ramstad’s exit makes it more likely that the nomination will go to a conservative, which will damage the GOP’s prospects of winning in this blue-leaning state. Except for Norm Coleman, who would bring liabilities of his own if he were to join the race, most of the Republicans who are considering the race are well to the right. Former state Auditor Pat Anderson, who just jumped in the race, helped organized “tea parties” this past spring; and state legislators like Marty Seifert, Tom Emmer are Phil Kohls are all part of the GOP’s conservative wing.

As you will notice, that’s a lot of names I just listed. And there are more! By my count, the race already includes a staggering 11 declared candidates - 5 Democrats and 6 Republicans - with at least 2 other Democrats seemingly certain to jump in (Speaker Margaret Anderson and former Senator Mark Dayton)! By the end of the year, the fields should have thinned as the contenders figure out how much support they can expect at the state convention.

In short: It will take a long time before we get a clearer picture of the state of this race but Democrats hold a slight advantage.

Pennsylvania: Pat Toomey all but guaranteed GOP nomination

When Arlen Specter announced he would switch his party affiliation, the GOP had a window of opportunity to try to block Pat Toomey’s march towards the nomination. That window has now closed. A slate of Republican candidates who could have given Toomey a tough time - from former Gov. Tom Ridge to Rep. Jim Gerlach and state Senator Jane Orie - declined a run and the NRSC has seemingly given up on searching for alternatives.

Yesterday, the Republican committee released a statement endorsing Toomey, implicitly contrasting him to Specter. “Congressman Toomey is a vigorous and determined advocate for the people of Pennsylvania, and he is clearly guided by principles instead of political opportunism,” the statement said.

I have long warned against underestimating Toomey’s general election prospects, especially if Specter is the Democrats’ standard bearer; that could depress turnout among left-leaning voters and the Republican a shot at victory. As importantly, Toomey will be able to better position himself now that he does not have to worry about a contested primary. He’s already trying to moderate his image: “You can’t win in Pennsylvania unless you have broad appeal. Let’s face it, in Pennsylvania, there are more Democrats than Republicans,” he recently said. He would not have said such a thing if he was still facing Specter in the primary.

In short, Toomey could be a more attractive candidate than he would have been had he moved on to the general election after spending months beating up the incumbent from the right. Don’t forget that Toomey’s statewide name recognition is low, so voters do not think of him as the conservative firebrand we political junkies have come to know.

(Side note: Specter, Sestak and Toomey all raised more than $1 million in the second quarter, guaranteeing that Pennsylvania voters will see a lot of fireworks over the next 17 months. The incumbent is already trying to be aggressive.)

Yet, there is no question that the NRSC would have much rather fielded another candidate. It’s no coincidence that the committee reconciled itself with the prospect of Toomey’s candidacy only after Gerlach and Ridge killed speculation they might run and after it became clear that other possible candidates (Attorney General Tom Corbett, former Governor Mark Schweiker) had no interest in running. And however Toomey now positions himself, Democrats will have a lot to work for considering his staunchly conservative past.

On the other hand, it looks like the NRSC could get some good news in Florida soon.


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Coleman, Strickland and Hutchison won’t be happy with new polls

Yet another Ohio polls finds narrowing Democratic edge

This week’s Quinnipiac survey showing a collapse in Barack Obama’s and Ted Strickland’s approval rating in Ohio must have given a lot of Democrats some heartburn, especially since it came in the heels of June PPP poll confirming the Governor’s vulnerability. We now have a third pollster who got in the Ohio fray, and Research 2000 finds results that are similar to Quinnipiac’s:

  • Of the six politicians whose favorability rating is tested, Strickland has the worst numbers by far: 44% to 40%. He leads former Rep. John Kasich 44% to 39%, which is a good result for the Republican given that his name recognition is not particularly high (more than half of respondents have no opinion of him).
  • Over on the Senate race, Democrats have the same edge other polls have found: Lee Fisher leads Rob Portman 42% to 35%, Jennifer Brunner is ahead 40% to 36%. All three have good favorability ratings, though we should take into account the fact that Portman’s name recognition is lower.
  • The one good news for Democrats: Obama’s favorability numbers are strong (59% to 35%). The one caveat is that Quinnipiac’s poll measured his approval rating, so we’re not comparing the same thing.

With three polls released by three different pollsters finding Strickland well under 50% and leading a lesser-known opponent by mid-single digits, there is no more doubt that Democrats are in for a tough fight. If voters do not feel that the economy has rebounded by the fall of 2010, Midwestern governors will be the recession’s most logical victims. We shall see the extent to which Strickland’s weakening numbers affect his party in the Senate race: Fisher and Brunner are systematically ahead of Portman, but the Republican has more room to grow as more voters have not heard about him.

In Texas, Perry leads Hutchison and Obama leads Romney

The Hutchison-Perry showdown is bound to be the mother of 2010 primaries, but it’s also sure to be very hard to poll since it won’t be easy to determine the turnout universe and the enthusiasm of both sides’ supporters. That said, the conventional wisdom going into the race was that Kay Bailey Hutchison would be the heavy favorite to win the gubernatorial nomination. The first poll of the race had her leading by 25%. Yet, polls released since then have struck a fatal blow to those expectations, and the latest survey from the University of Texas goes as far as to show the incumbent Governor is leading 38% to 26%.

While the poll’s MoE is a large 5%, those are great trendlines for Perry - Hutchison led by 6% in UT’s March poll. And I do believe that the Governor has more to gain as the campaign unfolds: His ideology fits better with the state’s Republican base and as such he is well positioned to take an advantage once the campaign heats up and passions flare.

One fascinating nugget in the poll: Obama is ahead of Romney 36% to 34%. Sure, that’s a lot of undecideds we’re talking about - but for a Democrat to lead in any Texas survey is well worth signaling and it’s a clear response to those who worry Obama has already lost the vote of typically conservative-leaning independents.

Minnesota’s first gubernatorial poll that tests Coleman

It’s barely been a week since Norm Coleman conceded the Senate race but PPP has already tested his strength in a potential gubernatorial race. The result: Coleman’s favorability rating stands at a disastrous 38-52 and voters say 2-1 that his handling of the Senate recount makes them less likely to support him in future races. And yet, Coleman remains competitive against three potential Democratic opponents: He trails former Senator Mark Dayton 41% to 39%, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak 43% to 37%; he leads 42% to 34% against state Rep. Margaret Kelliher.

Those numbers suggest Coleman could be competitive in a 2010 race, but they certainly should not make him confident: His name recognition is far higher than that any of the Democrats he was tested against (even Dayton’s) and the fact that he fails to break 40% suggests that his image might have been irremediably deteriorated not only by the recount saga but also by the brutal negativity of his campaign against Franken.

Also, don’t forget that it’s very unclear who will run in this gubernatorial race: None of the four politicians tested by PPP have declared their candidacy. As such, it will take a long time to draw any conclusions as to which party - let alone who - is expected to win the governorship. For those who are really into this contest, Politics in Minnesota has prepared this handy chart tracking the more than 40 politicians (!) who have been mentioned as potential contenders.

Second consecutive poll finds New Jersey tightening

Jon Corzine is still hovering around the 40% mark, but at least he has cut his deficit and gotten Chris Christie back under 50%. After mid-June’s primary, Rasmussen was the first pollster to find the Republican getting majority support; now, their latest poll has him ahead 46% to 39%. The trendline is within the margin of error, but it also comes just days after a Farleigh Dickinson survey showed Corzine facing his smallest deficitsince April. The Governor has a long way to go before he even gets in a competitive position; but his campaign has just started going negative and trying to define Christie, so we will have to see how those efforts go.


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The Birther cause gains new House champions

To amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to require the principal campaign committee of a candidate for election to the office of President to include with the committee’s statement of organization a copy of the candidate’s birth certificate, together with such other documentation as may be necessary to establish that the candidate meets the qualifications for eligibility to the Office of President under the Constitution.

When Rep. Bill Posey introduced H.R. 1503 back in March, he gained wide attention as the most prominent Republican official to take up the birther cause. That movement, which falsely charges that Obama is refusing to produce his birth certificate and that he is thus not a natural-born citizen, long had as its highest-profile members far-right figures like Alan Keyes and Phil Berg. But here was a freshman Republican, sworn in the House just two months before, willing to make a congressional issue out of the fear that Obama is not a legitimate president.

When asked whether he believed Obama was a natural-born citizen, Posey avoided offering an answer. “I haven’t looked at the evidence. It’s not up to me to look at the evidence,” he explained. “I can’t swear on a stack of Bibles whether he is or isn’t.”

For two months, Posey was the only Republican willing to champion that bill but his isolation was broken in early May when Rep. Bob Goodlatte became H.R. 1503’s first co-sponsor. In June, four other Republicans added themselves to the list: Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Rep. John Campbell, Rep. John Carter, Rep. John Culberson and Rep. Randy Neugebauer.

One thing these seven representatives have in common is that they are all members of the Republican Study Committee, a congressional caucus that groups the GOP’s conservative wing. Their association with the birther bill is now tagging them as members of the party’s most extreme right, so let’s take a closer look at what we know about these representatives and whether they could face competitive re-elections races; in the last column, I indicate whether they are signed-up as co-sponsors of Michele Bachmann’s paranoid constitutional amendment that seeks to defend the dollar’s role as the U.S. currency against depressingly misunderstood threats:

Name District First elected 2008 Prez vote 2008 score Bachmann bill
Posey FL-15 2008 51% McCain 54% Yes
Blackburn TN-7 2002 65% McCain 69% Yes
Campbell CA-48 2005 49% Obama 55% No
Carter TX-31 2002 58% McCain 60% No
Culberson TX-7 2000 58% McCain 56% Yes
Goodlatte VA-6 1992 57% McCain 61% No
Neugebauer TX-19 2003 72% McCain 72% No

CA-48 obviously stands out. John Campbell represents a district that voted for Obama in 2008; while it only did so narrowly, it was enough to label Campbell as vulnerable. Not only does CA-48 appear in my ratings, but is rated in the already moderately competitive “lean retention” category because Democrats have a highly credible challenge lined up: former Irvine Mayor Beth Krom has already jumped in the race.

Two other districts that are moderately competitive are FL-15 and TX-07. In the former, Posey (the leader of the House Birthers) is only a freshman and he occupies a district that is barely staying faithful to its Republican roots. While Democrats didn’t put up much of a fight in 2008, Posey is not entrenched enough to be certain he’ll easily win a second term. As for Culberson, he represents a staunchly Republican district but he had trouble closing his 2008 campaign: Democrats were excited by their nominee and the race created some buzz, though Culberson did prevail by 14%.

Of course, championing the birther bill will not end any of these 7 Republicans’ congressional tenure. For those, like Neugebauer and Blackburn, who are looking to move into higher office and know they have nothing to worry about but the Republican base, it could even prove a career booster. But the 3 congressmen who are already vulnerable - Campbell, Posey and Culberson - should to be careful not to make themselves into extremists isolated at their party’s fringe; as both Bill Sali and Bachmann showcased in 2008, that is a sure way to put yourself in electoral danger and lose your grip on a red-leaning district.

Speaking of Bachmann, isn’t the biggest surprise of this list her continued absence from it? The Minnesota congresswoman recently declared “I’m a foreign correspondent on enemy lines,” so would you not think she’d be interested in proving that the president is indeed a foreigner? Perhaps Bachmann is too busy in her newest crusade: The U.S. census. She recently declared that her family would not be filling any more information than the number of people in her household because she is concerned about governmental intrusion and about ACORN’s involvement with data collection.

Bachmann’s outburst led three conservative Republicans - Patrick McHenry (North Carolina), Lynn Westmoreland (Georgia) and John Mica (Florida) - to pen a letter urging her to reconsider her decision. The GOP does have reason to worry: If movement conservatives pick up Bachmann’s concerns as their new crusade and massively boycott the upcoming census, it could lead to conservative households to be undercounted. Even a small phenomenon could have consequences in terms of district allocation and redistricting, none of them to the GOP’s benefit.


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It’s over in Minnesota!

In a press conference that concluded just minutes ago, former Senator Norm Coleman conceded the Minnesota Senate race, adding that he had called Al Franken to congratulate him on his victory. The ending of an eight-month saga, today also marks the final chapter of the GOP’s disastrous 2008 cycle: With Minnesota, Democrats picked-up a total of eight seats in last fall’s elections.

Today’s decision by the state Supreme Court essentially meant that the game was over for Coleman but he still had a small opening to delay matters. He wisely concluded that the odds of provoking an anti-GOP backlash among Minnesota voters were far greater than the odds he could be any more successful in federal courts.

Coleman’s decision saves Governor Tim Pawlenty from a painful dilemma. Had Coleman appealed and had Pawlenty signed the document, it could have put the Governor at odds with the Republican base - always a tricky situation for a presidential hopeful.

It also leaves the door open for Coleman to pursue a gubernatorial run in 2010. It remains to be seen whether Coleman pushed his contest far enough to durably alienate the public, but it’s clear is that he could not afford to prolong the legal battle any longer if he has any intention of running in 2010. (He sidestepped the asked about it at a press conference earlier today.)

And just like that, Democrats get an additional and reliable Senate vote. (Don’t forget that Ted Kennedy’s refusal to resign despite his year-long absence has been costing Democrats a vote since the spring of 2008; as such, Franken will only get them to 59.) Given that Franken’s victory has looked certain for months, it’s easy to forget that Democrats were pessimistic in the first few weeks after the recount; or that Franken never led before December 20th, 6 weeks after votes were cast; or that Franken didn’t look like he would able to keep up with Coleman back in the spring of 2008, when fellow Democrats were attacking him over past writings.

But at the end of the day, Franken rode the Democratic wave and successfully completed his transition from comic to serious politician - but not before setting up one last show for us to enjoy. However frustrating the past eight months have been, they also offered moments of pure theater, starting with the canvassing board’s week-long deliberation over challenged ballots - porn for political junkies, I called it.

Update: Among the deluge of coverage heralding Democrats for reaching 60 Senate votes just in time for health care reform and the Sotomayor hearings, credit to The Atlantic’s Josh Green for being one of the rare commentators to point out that Democrats only effectively control 58 seats - 59 if Byrd returns to Washington. That means they still need Republican votes to break cloture votes but they can no longer blame the GOP for obstructionism.



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  • All good things must come to an end

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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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Confusion in Connecticut (Updated)

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Results thread, part 2: Dems suffer staggering losses in House and legislatives races, limit damage in statewide races

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Election Night results thread: Rep. Boucher’s fall first surprise of the night

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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 'EST/-5.0/no 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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