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


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Meet the “Undaunted Dozen”

Earlier this month, the DCCC launched radio ads targeting 28 House Republicans who had opposed the stimulus bill. Now, Democrats are ready to mount the next round of their offensive: Having come up with a list of just 12 representatives, they are blanketing their constituents with robocalls.

Here is the version that is airing in Thad McCotter’s MI-11:

Did you know Congressman Thad McCotter voted against President Obama’s economic recovery plan, endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce?  McCotter’s empty rhetoric can’t hide that he voted to raise the AMT tax on 22 million middle class Americans and against the largest tax cut in history.

Interestingly, the messages reverse the traditional political attacks and highlight Republicans’ failure to match conservative orthodoxy. How often do Democrats get to blast the GOP for voting against the Chamber of Commerce’s recommendations? And how often do Republicans find themselves criticized for voting “against the largest tax cut in history?”

The DCCC’s goal is to persuade voters that their Republican representatives are so determined to obstruct economy recovery that they are willing to oppose a plan that is supported by their traditional ally and that matches their traditional demands.

The 12 Republicans who are targeted make a very interesting list, as their political circumstances are vastly different. (Five of these names were not on the DCCC’s original list of 28 targets: Judy Biggert, Charlie Dent, Jim Gerlach, Michael Castle, Adam Putnam).

District Status 2008 pres. 2004 pres.
Biggert (IL-13) 54% Obama 55% Bush
Calvert (CA-44) narrow 08 victory 50% Obama 59% Bush
Castle (DE-AL) possibly retiring 62% Obama 53% Kerry
Dent (PA-15) 56% Obama 50-50
Gerlach (PA-06) narrow 08 victory, possibly retiring 58% Obama 52% Kerry
Kirk (IL-10) competitive ‘08 victory 61% Obama 53% Kerry
Luetkemeyer (MO-09) freshman, narrow ‘08 victory N/A 59% Bush
Lungren (CA-03) narrow ‘08 victory 49-49 58% Bush
McCotter (MI-11) 53% Obama 53% Bush
Putnam (FL-12) retiring 50% McCain 58% Bush
Reichert (WA-08) narrow ‘08 victory 57% Obama 51% Kerry
Sessions (TX-32) 53% McCain 60% Bush

The most interesting of the DCCC’s inclusions is undoubtedly FL-12’s Adam Putnam. The Republican lawmaker has already announced that he will not seek re-election to the House in 2010; he will run instead for Agriculture Commissioner, a statewide position. So why is the DCCC going after him?

The first reason is that FL-12 will be an open seat, and the DCCC is hoping to be able to contest it even if the district tilts Republican. Democrats are hoping that going after Putnam’s vote can, by extension, weaken the GOP brand and thus make their nominee’s job easier in 2010.

The second reason is that Putnam is an ambitious lawmaker who is transparently eying the 2014 gubernatorial race - and many think he might try to aim even higher. Democrats would thus love to take Putnam out now, when he is still running for down-the-ballot races. The race for Agriculture Commissioner might be very low-profile, but it is worth keeping an eye on it.

Three other fascinating choices are IL-13’s Judy Biggert, CA-44’s Ken Calvert and CA-03’s Dan Lungren. All three represent districts that George W. Bush won easily in 2004; yet, all three are now finding themselves sitting in swing districts that have shown their willingness to vote Democratic. And the reason that these three Republicans were chosen is that they all received unexpectedly low results last November in races that no one was paying attention to: Biggert got 53%, Calvert 52% and Lungren 50%. To DCCC strategists, that means that these incumbents lack the type of personal appeal that could protect them from their district’s blue drift.

Adding to this story’s many layers is Mitt Romney’s decision to donate $1000 to every single one of these Republicans’ re-election campaign (except Putnam’s, since he is not running for the House in ‘10). Calling these incumbents the “Undaunted Dozen,” Romney praised them for standing “for fiscal responsibility” and saying “no to spending abuse.” “We are committed to helping these courageous Republicans defend their position and fend off political attacks,” added Romney’s statement.

Romney’s move is obviously far more relevant to the GOP’s 2012 race than to the 2010 midterms. (Sorry Jaxx, but many Republicans are acting like the presidential race is already on!) I explained last week that Charlie Crist’s decision to support the stimulus could be an issue for him down the road, as an important test in the 2012 primary will which candidate stood up the most to Obama.

Romney no longer holds an elected office, so he cannot make a great show of rejecting some of the stimulus funds like Bobby Jindal or Mark Sanford. This is his way of ensuring that his name stays in the news and that people remember him as an opponent of Obama’s policies. After all, Romney was criticized by many in 2007-2008 for being a phony conservative; he now wants to avoid a similar fate in 2012.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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DCCC goes on one of its last spending sprees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Poll watch: Obama dominates in Colorado, varying fortunes for GOP incumbents in long-shot districts

Another day, and another round of polls show no sign of tightening. In fact, there is nothing in today’s release for McCain supporters to grasp as a potential sign of hope. In the national polls, it is Newsweek’s turn to find Obama leading by double-digits. Taken together, the day’s eight national surveys paint a very similar picture: Obama is at or above 50% in seven of the eight polls, and McCain is in the low 40s in all eight, oscillating between 40% and 44%.

This is where the race has stood for weeks, with most of the movement occurring within those ranges. That both candidates’ numbers have been so static throughout October makes it difficult to see how McCain could benefit from some last-minute shifting.

At the state level, there wasn’t a lot of polling released today, but the Rocky Mountain News’s poll of Colorado is very important, as it suggests that Obama has opened a commanding lead in a crucial state. More than a quarter of registered voters (and more than 30% of the number of 2004 voters) have already cast a ballot in this state, so time is pressing for McCain to change voters’ minds. Keep in mind that McCain needs to win a blue state if he loses Colorado. And how likely is that to happen? Obama is closer to winning South Dakota than McCain is to winning Pennsylvania in today’s polls. Enough said.

  • Obama leads 52% to 40% in a Newsweek national poll. Among registered voters, he leads by 13%. (Obama led by 11% two weeks ago.) This survey confirms that Sarah Palin’s image has deteriorated, as it is the first Newsweek poll in which Palin’s favorability rating is a net negative.
  • Obama maintains his dominant position in the tracking polls. He extends his lead by 1% in Rasmussen (52% to 44%) and Gallup (51% to 43%). The margin remains stable in Research 2000 (52% to 40%), Hotline (50% to 43%), Washington Post/ABC (53% to 44%) and IBD/TIPP (46% to 42%). Obama loses 1% in Zogby, but remains largely ahead 51% to 42%. So his leads are: 4%, 7%, 8%, 8%, 9%, 9%, 12%.
  • Obama leads 52% to 40% in a Rocky Mountain News poll of Colorado. The poll was taken by GOP firm Public Opinion Strategies.
  • Ohio: Obama leads 49% to 46% in a University of Cincinnati “Newspaper poll.”(McCain led by 2% two weeks ago). Obama leads 51% to 44% in a PPP poll (he gets 86% of Democrats and leads independents by 12%).

Meanwhile, in down the ballot polls, where we get a lot of news from House races:

  • Jeanne Shaheen leads 52% to 46% in a Rasmussen poll of the New Hampshire Senate race. She led by 5% three weeks ago.
  • In MO-09, GOP candidate Bruce Luetkemeyer leads 47% to 42% in a Research 2000 poll. He led by 9% a month ago.
  • In AL-02, GOP candidate Jay Love leads 47% to 45% in a Research 2000 poll. However, the share of the African-American vote is about half of where it ought to be.
  • In IN-09, Democratic Rep. Baron Hill leads 53% to 38% in a SUSA poll. He led by the same margin last month. Hill leads by 32% among the 12% of the sample that has already voted.
  • In NJ-05, Rep. Garrett leads 47% to 40% in a Research 2000 poll. He led by 15% a month ago.
  • In SC-01, GOP Rep. Brown leads 48% to 37% in a Research 2000 poll. 32% of African-Americans are undecided, versus only 10% of white voters, so Democratic challenger Linda Ketner has room to grow.
  • In SC-02, GOP Rep. Wilson leads 47% to 45% in a Research 2000 poll. Here again, most undecided voters are African-American, which could boost Democratic challenger Miller’s numbers.

Beyond the obviously competitive races of AL-02 and MO-09 (both of which look competitive though the Missouri numbers must be a relief for Republicans), Daily Kos commissioned Research 2000 to conduct surveys in a number of long-shot races. NJ-05, SC-01, SC-02, TX-10 and NC-10: These are all races that were on no one’s radar screen as of two weeks ago.

Keep in mind that Democrats are unlikely to win more than a few of these late breaking races, but any pick-up in this list would be considered a huge upset and icing on the cake for Democrats. In all of these districts but TX-10, the Republican incumbent leads outside of the margin of error, though only Rep. McHenry crosses the 50% threshold. That justifies our keeping a watch on NJ-05, TX-10, SC-01 and SC-02.


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Spending, spending, spending (and some cutbacks)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Full ratings available here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full ratings available here.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

  • Republican investments

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

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

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

  • New DCCC investments

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

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

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

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

  • Districts the DCCC is playing defense

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

  • Districts that were not so long ago considered long shots

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

  • Districts Democrats were expecting to pick-up more easily

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

  • Districts that are and were expected to be competitive

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

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

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

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

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


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Congress: Schwarz defects in MI-07, Feeney slammed on Abramoff

A few months after being defeated in his party’s primary, Republican Rep. Gilchrest (MD-01) announced he was endorsing the Democratic candidate in his district. Now, the same scenario has occurred in Michigan’s 7th district: Former Rep. Joe Schwarz, who was defeated by Tim Walberg in the 2006 Republican primary, just endorsed Walberg’s Democratic challenger.

This is an important development in a race that recent polls have shown is highly competitive. Democrats have been arguing that Walberg is too extremist to represent the district, and the defection of more moderate Schwarz will help them make their argument. That said, it’s important not to make too much of this news. Schwarz has been out of office for two years, and while his defection can help Democrats highlight Walberg’s conservatism, endorsements rarely move any numbers by themselves. Two important questions: Will Schwarz actively campaign for Schauer? Will he shoot an ad like Gilchrest did?

As for Rep. Walberg, he is getting some help from conservative group Club for Growth, which recently said it will spend $175,000 in this district. Any outside money is golden for House Republicans who have to face a barrage of Democratic ads without any help from the NRCC. The DCCC has already spent almost $170,000 in this district alone hitting Walberg with ads like this.

Meanwhile, in another important House district, the DCCC has released an a in FL-24, the first that slams Rep. Tom Feeney for his ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. This comes a week after Feeney released a remarkable ad apologizing to his constituents for “embarrassing them.” That apology ad - never a good sign when an incumbent feels compelled to air one - is currently being aired, so the district’s voters are being exposed to this story in a way they were not before - and the DCCC is clearly looking to go for the kill with a brutal spot that hits Feeney for being “one of the most corrupt” congressmen:

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

But the DCCC’s most consistent strategy right now is to use the financial crisis to hit Republican candidates across the country on Social Security. This is something we already discussed a few days ago, but the DCCC released a number of new spots yesterday that invoke the Wall Street meltdown to attack the Republicans’ support for privatizing Social Security. Lou Barletta is the target of such an ad in PA-11; in MO-09, the DCCC hits “insurance executive” Blaine Luetkemeyer and warns that this is the “toughest ride since the Great Depression:”

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jMlV6E4WAc"]

If Democrats could get away with it, they would always air ads about Social Security. This is an issue that fundamentally favors their candidates, but it is not one that always weighs heavily on voters’ minds. Yet, the stock market’s yoyo and the Wall Street crisis that has been on the frontpage of all newspapers lately makes ads about Social Security savings extremely relevant. And it is precisely because the country’s political environment has shifted towards a focus on bread and butter issues that Democrats are now hoping to nationalize the congressional elections and score a repeat of 2006.

Finally, I have alluded a few times to the impact congressional ads might have on the presidential election. Down-the-ballot candidates across the country are airing spots that use the same arguments, the same imagery and often the same slogans as those John McCain and Barack Obama are hurling at each other. I wrote a detailed analysis of this on the Huffington Post, and I will not post the entire piece here since it would be repetitive to readers of this blog who have already seen most of the spots I allude to. But here is my take on why, in this game of message amplification, it is Democrats who stand to gain the most, and Republicans who face the greatest pitfalls:

GOP candidates are trying to convince voters that they are not the typical Republican, that they are unique and can take on the party establishment. But that argument risks becoming a caricature if all Republican candidates say the same thing. It’s one thing for McCain to brand himself as an anti-establishment firebrand, but the entire party cannot credibly run against itself without it becoming a transparent stunt. Can a voter in New Hampshire’s first district come to believe that John McCain, John Sununu and Jeb Bradley are all mavericks? If so, who is the establishment?

There is the parallel possibility that the use of the Bush tag becomes a caricature and thus loses its effectiveness, but the risk is less important as there is nothing contradictory in the Democrats’ argument that the entire Republican Party is tarnished by the Bush years. For a voter in North Carolina to hear over and over again that McCain, Dole and vulnerable Rep. Robin Hayes are all “more of the same” serves as an indictment of the GOP as a whole. By amplifying the volume of Obama’s multi-million ad campaign, the Democrats’ down-the-ballot TV spots could help ensure that Bush remains on the minds of voters when they go to the polls on November 4th.


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Poll watch: Obama can count on NM and IA, gains in MI; 4 VA polls split; Cazayoux, Hagan lead

A deluge of state polls released over the past 24 hours test the presidential election in almost all states we might want to have results from. And, as will often be the case over the next 6 weeks, the overall picture is inconclusive, with different polls finding differing results from the same state. Today’s example of such confusion is Virginia, where both candidates lead in two polls (update: I should have noted that McCain’s two leads are within the margin of error and Obama’s two leads are outside.) The take-away lesson is clear: Results from the most competitive states are more often than not within the margin of error. That includes, in today’s polls alone, NV, NH, PA, OH, VA, MN and NC.

That said, a few results seem significant enough to merit more attention. First, Obama leads by double-digits in yet another New Mexico poll, and has a comfortable advantage in a new Iowa survey. Both of these states were won by Bush in 2004, and both appear to be solidly anchoring themselves in the Obama column. That’s not a surprise for Iowa, but New Mexico looked extremely competitive at the beginning of the summer, so while we might be getting used to Obama leads in both of these states, it is a crucial development in the presidential race as it means that Obama can count on 12 electoral votes from red states - not enough to win him the White House, but enough to put him in striking distance.

Another significant result is Rasmussen’s poll of Michigan, where Obama extends his lead to 7%. This is the second poll in a week (after Marist’s poll) to find the Democrat gaining a comfortable advantage in what is generally considered the most endangered blue state. While other surveys in the same period have shown Obama’s lead within the margin of error, this could mean that Obama is improving his position in one of the states that is hurting the most economically. It should also be noted that today’s polling roundup contains the first good news for Obama from Minnesota in quite a while (he leads by 8%) and a survey that finds him with some breathing room in Wisconsin (he leads by 5%). On to today’s full roundup:

  • Obama leads 51% to 47% among likely voters in a CNN national poll; among registered voters, he leads 51% to 46%. In the previous post-convention CNN poll, the candidates were tied at 48%. In a five-way-race, Obama leads 48% to 45% with 4% for Ralph Nader and 1% each for Barr and McKinney. Also: 47% of respondents blame Republicans for the financial crisis, while 24% blame Democrats; voters trust Obama more to deal with an economic crisis; and Obama leads by 14% when respondents are asked who represents change.
  • As for the trackings, Obama leads in all fours: He is suddenly boosted up in Diego Hotline (49% to 44%), maintains a 1% lead in Rasmussen and a 4% lead in Gallup (48% to 44%) and loses one point to lead 48% to 42% in Research 2000.
  • Obama leads 51% to 45% in a SUSA poll of Virginia. Obama led by 4% last month. He trails by 3% among independents and looks very solid among Democrats.
  • McCain leads 50% to 48% in a Rasmussen poll of Virginia. Both candidates have high party loyalty, independents favor McCain.
  • Obama leads 49% to 46% among likely voters in an ABC/Washington Post poll of Virginia; among registered voters, he leads 50% to 44%. Both candidates have very strong party loyalty, while independents split. [Update: I should have noted this, but Obama has a 5% lead among likely voters (outside of the MoE), when Barr and Nader are included. Among registered voters, Obama leads by a full 51% to 43% in a four-way race!)]
  • McCain leads 48% to 46% in an ARG poll of Virginia.
  • McCain leads 50% to 47% in a Rasmussen poll of North Carolina. He led by 4% last month. Obama and McCain have a comparable favorability rating.
  • Obama leads 46% to 44% in a Mason Dixon poll of Pennsylvania. The poll was taken last Tuesday to last Thursday.
  • Obama leads 48% to 45% in a Rasmussen poll of Pennsylvania. Last week’s poll found a tie. The swing here is among independents - who have gone from McCain to Obama.
  • Obama leads 51% to 44% in a Rasmussen poll of Michigan. He led by 5% two weeks ago. He gets an impressive 90% among Democrats.
  • McCain leads 51% to 46% in a Rasmussen poll of Florida. He led by 5% last week as well. Obama is still under 80% among independents Democrats.
  • McCain leads 50% to 46% in a Rasmussen poll of Ohio. Obama has managed to get himself above 80% of Democrats, but his party loyalty is still weaker than McCain’s and he trails among independents. The margin of error in this poll is a relatively high 4.5%, so McCain’s lead remains with the MoE.
  • Obama leads 53% to 42% in a PPP poll of New Mexico. Obama’s lead among Hispanics (59% to 35%) is a bit smaller than we have seen of late.
  • McCain leads 46% to 45% in a Suffolk poll of Nevada. The poll was taken over the past week.
  • McCain leads 47% to 45% in a University of New Hampshire poll of New Hampshire. That’s a 5% improvement for the Republican in what is a trusted poll in the Granite State.
  • Obama leads 52% to 44% in a Rasmussen poll of Minnesota. He led by 4% last month.
  • Obama leads 48% to 47% in an ARG poll of Minnesota.
  • Obama leads 50% to 45% in an ARG poll of Wisconsin. Obama leads by 7% among independents.
  • Obama leads 51% to 44% in an ARG poll of Iowa.
  • Obama leads 51% to 42% in an ARG poll of New Jersey.
  • McCain leads 57% to 39% in an ARG poll of Georgia.
  • McCain leads 55% to 39% in an ARG poll of South Dakota.
  • Obama leads 55% to 39% in an ARG poll of California.

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

  • In Minnesota’s Senate race, Norm Coleman is up 48% to 47% against Al Franken in Rasmussen’s latest poll. Last month, his lead was 3%. Third-party candidate Dean Barkley only has 3% (other polls have found him much higher).
  • In North Carolina’s Senate race, Kay Hagan leads Elizabeth Dole 51% to 45% according to Rasmussen’s latest poll. Dole lead by 12% in Rasmussen’s July poll.
  • In NJ-05, GOP Rep. Scott Garrett leads 49% to 34% against Rabbi Shulman in a Research 2000 poll. McCain leads Obama 52% to 37% in the district (Bush won 57% to 43%).
  • In MO-09, Blaine Luetkemeyer leads 49% to 40% against Democrat Judy Baker in a Research 2000 poll.
  • In LA-06, an internal poll for the Cazayoux campaign has Rep. Don Cazayoux leading 48% to 32% for Bill Cassidy and 9% for Michael Jackson, a Democrat who is running as an independent. In July, Cazayoux only led by 5%. A key factor in Cazayoux’s improvement appears to be his exposure during Hurricane Gustav, as 64% approve of his Gustav-related work.

Some of these results are very encouraging for Democrats, particularly on the Senate side. There is no doubt remaining that Elizabeth Dole is in very serious trouble, as this is the second poll in a row (after PPP’s week-end survey) to find Kay Hagan leading outside of the margin of error. Those DSCC polls appear to have truly damaged Dole’s image. Democrats will also be comforted that Al Franken remains highly competitive despite the Republicans’ best attempts to discredit him.

As for House races, it would be very interesting to see independent polling out of LA-06. Don’t forget that Jackson is taking most of his votes from Cazayoux, so it is somewhat difficult to believe that Cazayoux could have that high a level of support with another Democrat hovering around the double-digit mark. But if Cazayoux enjoys any kind of advantage, that would already be a boost for Democrats, as he is one of the only Dem-held seats that are rated lean take-over in my latest House ratings. But Research 2000’s poll from MO-09 brings good news for Republicans and should damp Democratic hopes in an open seat that is deeply conservative; a SUSA poll released earlier in September found Luetkemeyer leading by 12%.


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Polls: McCain gains 8% in CBS poll, Obama takes first lead in red ND but loses opening in AK

37 million viewers tuned in to watch Sarah Palin last night, almost as much as the 38 million that watched presidential nominee Barack Obama last week even though his speech was transmitted on four more networks. Palin has become a huge story, and whatever voters thought about her speech will surely have repercussions.

CBS just released a new national poll, and it finds quite a sharp change in just a few days: Obama was leading by 8% in a poll taken over the week-end, but the race is now a tie in a poll taken from Monday to Wednesday, suggesting that whatever bounce Obama got faded quickly - and before Palin even took the stage.67% of Clinton supporters now back Obama (58% last week) but McCain has a similar uptick among evangelicals (57% to 66%). Obama’s lead among female voters is smaller, 43% to 38%. Note that the previous poll was taken after the Palin pick, so this is a post-post VP and pre-convention bounce for the Republican.

However, the Gallup and Rasmussen trackings are showing little movement in their latest polls taken over the same period. Gallup has Obama leading 49% to 42% (he led by 6% yesterday), and Rasmussen has Obama leading 50% to 45% (same as yesterday). At this point last week, Obama had already posted gains in the tracking, but keep in mind that the Denver convention had a Monday night, but the GOP did not.

And another national poll, taken by Democracy Corps (a Dem. pollster) yet again in the Monday-Wednesday period, has Obama leading 49% to 44%. As usual, the pollster put a heavy focus on the 18 battleground states Obama has invested in (12 of which were carried by Bush in 2004), and there Obama is ahead 49% to 43%. That’s an impressive lead, it can partly be explained by the fact that Obama has big leads in some of the Kerry battleground states (MN, WI) but it clearly goes to show that the election is being waged in Republican terrain and Obama is still doing well.

For now, the Palin effect seems to be increased polarization. McCain is gaining among Republicans and the base is very excited - Rush Limbaugh has dropped all his animosity to the ticket and is now calling McCain “McBrilliant.” But the Obama campaign is saying that they raised $8 million offline since yesterday’s primetime ended, an outstanding sum that I believe exceeds the amount McCain raised last week in the 18 hours after the Palin announcement, a clear suggestion that the intensity of Democratic partisanship also shot up last night. Also, keep in mind that the McCain campaign can no longer raise money, as it now has to limit itself to $84 million (note that Republicans can still donate to the RNC, which raised $1 million since yesterday).

Let’s get to the day’s state and district-level polling:

  • In North Dakota, Obama has taken his first lead ever in a DFM Research poll conducted just before Obama’s acceptance speech. He is up 43% to 40%, within the margin of error.
  • In Alaska, the last poll had Obama leading by 5% but the first post-Palin survey has McCain jumping to a huge lead, 57% to 33% with Palin’s approval rating at 86%. However, this is a poll that is being circulated by the McCain campaign (though the campaign claims it did not commission it); it is extremely rare for a presidential campaign to leak an internal poll, so this just goes to confirm how eager they are to highlight Palin’s appeal among voters who know her.
  • Democrats got some bad news in MO-09, a district they are contesting. SUSA found Republican Blaine Luetkemeyer leading Judy Baker 50% to 38%. Obama was crushed 60% to 36%, numbers that are much worse than Kerry’s in 2004.
  • In KY-02, however, a Democratic internal poll suggests an opportunity for Dems to take a very conservative district (even though the district’s partisan ID is 58% Democratic, it voted for Bush with 65%). The poll shows Democratic state Senator Boswell leading fellow state Senator Brett Guthrie 41% to 33%.

Alaska, Montana and North Dakota are the three extremely Republican 3-electoral vote states that the Obama campaign has been airing ads in over the past 2 months. In the first two, at least one poll had shown Obama taking a stunning lead some time in the summer (see Montana’s polling history and Alaska’s polling history). Now, Obama seems to be making progress in North Dakota. The prior two polls (taken by two different institutes) showed McCain only by 1% and 3%, but seeing a Democratic presidential candidate leading by any margin here is truly remarkable.

3 electoral votes might seem negligible compared to the high stakes of Ohio and Michigan, but keep in mind that if the election is close we are talking about very small margins in the electoral college. McCain can certainly not afford to give up on either North Dakota or Montana, and even if there is no other benefit to the Palin pick, it is significant that she anchored Alaska’s 3 votes in the Republican column. As I said, the last poll had Obama leading by 5%. While we will be looking for independent polling that does not come from the McCain campaign to confirm this survey, I had already moved Alaska out of the toss-up column in my latest “veepstakes special edition” presidential ratings.

MO-09 and KY-02 are comparable in the sense that they are both deeply conservative open seats in which Democrats usually stand no chance. Both have been polled over the summer, and it is interesting to compare the results. An independent (SUSA) poll from KY-02 in early July found Boswell up by 3%, suggesting that the internal poll is not completly out of line. An internal poll for Baker in MO-09, however, found her leading by 2% just two weeks ago. Losing these districts would be devastating for the GOP and would mean that Democrats have a shot at a big wave like 2006; we will know more about whether (or rather where) Democrats are the most competitive by looking at the party’s expenditures over the next 2 months.



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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 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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