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Category Archive for ‘NC-08’ at Campaign Diaries
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Archive for the 'NC-08' Category


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North Carolina’s filing deadline has passed

North Carolina’s filing deadline passed yesterday - the 9th state in which this occurred- and this is one state in which Democrats suffered no last-minute surprise. All of their incumbents are running for re-election, which was not a given that three of them were once eying the Senate race and one of them was the subject of some retirement rumors in recent months.

In fact, all fourteen of the state’s congresspeople are seeking another term: Senator Richard Burr and 13 House members (8 Democrats, 5 Republicans). While the GOP’s 5 House districts should be safe, Burr is arguably the country’s only vulnerable Republican senator. Meanwhile, Democrats don’t look like they’ll have to seriously worry about more than one district, freshman Larry Kissell’s NC-08. While some Republicans might hope to target NC-11, NC-07 and NC-07, the party appear to have missed opportunities to put itself in a strong position in these Bush districts, especially in the latter two. While Democrats dominate the state’s congressional delegation, it’s unlikely North Carolina will contribute to the fall’s GOP gains to a significant extent - unlike, say, states like Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The 8 Democratic seats

The most vulnerable Democratic incumbent is NC-08’s Rep. Larry Kissell, and it’s no coincidence that he is the state delegation’s only freshman. Compared to the NRCC’s hopes of recruiting Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory or former Rep. Robin Hayes, the final GOP field is certainly weaker than it could have been, but Kissell nonetheless remains vulnerable;. 5 Republicans have filed to run: former sportscaster Harold Johnson, businessman Hal Jordan, veteran Lou Huddleston, businessman Timothy D’Annunzio and Darrell Day. The front-runner appears to be D’Annunzio, for no other reason than the half-a-million of his own money he has poured into his campaign. Yet, the NRCC-favorite appears to be Huddleston, an African-American who has been added to the committee’s “Young Gun program” and has secured a number of important party endorsements.

Next is Rep. Heath Shuler in Western North Carolina’s NC-11. While his district voted for McCain, he cruised to his first re-election last year. He now has to face 6 Republicans, none of which appear particularly threatening: businessman Kenneth West, former Hendersonville mayor Greg Newman, businessman Jeffrey Miller, attorney Ed Krause, James Howard and eye doctor Dan Eichenbaum. Against one of the best-funded Democratic incumbents in the country, none of these candidates could get far without the NRCC’s help - and they’re going to have to prove themselves before national Republicans target Schuler. None of these candidates are at the moment on the NRCC’s long list of Young Gun candidates, which includes challengers from 54 Dem-held districts.

In NC-02, three Republicans filed for the right to run against Rep. Bob Etheridge in a district that twice voted for George W. Bush before choosing Obama by 5%: Frank Deatrich, car dealer Todd Gailas (who was recently featured in a CNN story for his troubles during the recession) and Renee Ellmers. None seems in a position to topple the 6-term incumbent; after all, North Carolina’s historically Democratic voters have remained more loyal to the party than in most other Southern states, which means the GOP can’t hope defeating such entrenched incumbents without a top-tier effort - not to mention that Etheridge has more than $1 million of cash-on-hand in the bank.

In NC-07, a more conservative district that gave McCain a 5% victory, three Republicans want to face Rep. Mike McIntyre, one of the more conservative members of the Democratic caucus. While the first two are low-profile (William Breazeale, the 2008 nominee who lost 69% to 31% to McIntyre and now has $2000 in the bank, and Randolph Crow), the third attracted national attention a few years ago. While serving in Iraq, Ilario Pantano was accused of premedited murder in Fallujah but a military tribunal cleared him of the charges; he later wrote an autobiography that got a fair amount of publicity and also served as Deputy Sheriff in Wilmington. But Pantano will have to answer Breazeale’s criticism that he only became a Republican on November 25th, not to mention that he has very little time left to mount a political operation against an entrenched and well-funded incumbent who has never shown a sign of vulnerability. Had the NRCC been committed to putting this district in play, they would have wanted to find another candidate; given that so many other Democrats in similar districts are facing top-tier opposition, it looks McIntyre has dodged a bullet.

Rep. Butterfield (NC-01), Rep. Price (NC-04) and Rep. Watt (NC-12), Rep. Miller (NC-13) represent heavily Democratic districts and they should safe. However, it is remarkable to see that each one has drawn 3 or 4 Republican challengers; that says a lot not only about the GOP’s confidence but also about the Republican base’s determination to take on Democrats and go all-out politically. If the red wave gets truly gigantic, could any of these seats grow competitive? I’d keep an eye on the Wake County-based NC-13, which might have given Obama a 59% victory but also voted for Bush back in 2000 - but Republicans did not recruit a candidate in a position to take advantage of the environment. Bernie Reeves is a magazine publisher, Dan Huffman is a conservative businessman, Bill Randall is a veteran who has set up a website and I can’t find any information about Frank Hurley.

The 5 GOP seats

Given that Democrats already control 8 of 13 districts, it is no surprise that the 5 remaining Republicans represent heavily conservative district and should be safe. They are: Rep. Jones (NC-03), Rep. Foxx (NC-05), Rep. Coble (NC-06), Rep. Myrick (NC-09) and Rep. McHenry (NC-10).

It’s worth saying a few words about NC-03. Walter Jones has faced a lot of Republican opposition in recent years, as he became one of the GOP’s few staunchly anti-war voices and survived a strong primary challenge in 2008 with just 58%. He doesn’t have much to worry about in 2010, however. Two Republicans have filed against him. One is Craig Weber, who was his Democratic opponent in 2006 and 2008 - not someone who will excite conservatives; the other is Robert Cavanaugh about whom I am unable to find any. In the general election, ones is sure to face Johnny Rouse, the party chairman in Pitt County, a relatively populous county of nearly 170,000 inhabitants. That doesn’t mean he can beat Jones in a district that voted for John McCain by 18%, but he should have enough experience and connections to at least help bring out his party’s base to the polls - thus helping in other races.

In fact, Democrats have filed at least one candidate against all of these Republicans, which is always a good sign for a party’s overall competitiveness and something they had fallen well short on in Texas. In the NC-05 and NC-06, the only Democratic candidates are William Kennedy and Gregory Scott Turner; I have not found information about either of them. In NC-10, Jeff Gregory and 2004 nominee Anne Fischer will square off for the right to represent Democrats in a district that gave Obama 36%.

The only Democratic challenger in the state to have set up a website is Jeff Doctor, a businessman who is running in NC-9 against Sue Myrick. (The former Mayor of Charlotte, Myrick has attracted most attention in recent years for her extremely anti-Muslim views, most notably when she called on the US to revoke Jimmy Carter’s passport over his ties with Palestinians and when she linked terrorist threats with the high number of Muslims running convenience stores.) Interestingly, NC-09 is the state’s GOP-held district that gave McCain the smallest margin of victory: 55% to 45%. As of the end of 2009, Doctor had raised $53,000, which is already more than any Democrat raised against Myrick this past cycle except for her 2008 opponent Harry Taylor, who lost 62% to 38%, significantly underperforming relatively to Obama. I suspect Doctor might have at some point drawn Democrats’ attention in 2008-like circumstances, but it’s a very different situation this year.


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An epic polling roundup to get our minds off Massachussetts

Research 2000 and ARG just released two of Massachussetts’s final polls - if not the final polls. ARG found a 7% lead for Brown (52% to 45%), up 4% from where he was just last week. Research 2000, meanwhile, found… a tie: Scott Brown and Martha Coakley receive 48% apiece, a testament to how unpredictable the contest remains heading into Election Day. While at this point any poll that doesn’t have Brown ahead is a relief for Democrats, I don’t have to tell you that even that survey is rough for Coakley: Just last week, Research 2000 found her ahead by 8%, which makes this yet another poll to found stunning momentum for the Republican.

Yet, Research 2000 also confirms the hypothesis I enunciated this morning, as an update to last night’s post: Coakley performs better in polls that include Libertarian nominee Joe Kennedy, who will be on the ballot tomorrow. Pajamas Media and PPP, which gave Brown large leads yesterday, did not include Kennedy at all; surveys that have the race within the margin of error do include Kennedy, who for instance receives 3% in Research 2000. There’s every reason to believe that Kennedy is drawing his voters from the conservative camp, so if the race is close his presence on the ballot could allow Coakley to shave off a few points off Brown compared to PPP’s survey. (ARG’s website appears to be down, so I cannot determine whether they included him.)

It’s hard to think of anything but Massachussetts, but let’s try to do just that: Over the past week, there was so much news to cover that I ignored an avalanche of polls, to which I’ll now get to. Now that we’ve entered 2010, there will be more and more surveys released weekly - even daily - so I will obviously not attempt to cover each one in as much detail as I did over the past year; I will however start with polls that are testing election we’ve seen little data on. Today, those consist in 3 House districts and 2 Western Governor’s races.

(Yes, this is a fairly long post… but I let polls accumulate without covering them for more than a week, so I wanted to get to them all at once to make sure I can focus on Massachussetts and other important news after this!)

Three House races find mixed results for Dems

NC-08: PPP managed to find a freshman Democrat from a swing district with solid standing! In NC-08, a district that swung from Bush to Obama, not only does Rep. Larry Kissell have a strong approval rating (45% to 30%), but he displays no sign of vulnerability in three match-ups against his challengers, leading Lou Huddleston 55% to 37%, Tom D’Annunzio 54% to 38%, Hal Jordan 55% to 39% and Harold Johnson 53% to 39%. Sure, none of these Republicans have much name recognition, but consider all the polls we have seen recently in which incumbent Democrats have struggled to mount any sort of lead against unknown opponents. Yet, not only is Kissell up big but he’s also topping 50%.

ND-AL: The DCCC is relieved Rep. Earl Pomeroy decided to seek re-election, but it doesn’t mean he is a shoo-in to win another term. A new poll by Research 2000 finds him solidly ahead of all of his competitors Kevin Cramer and Duane Sand, but he fails to clear 50% against either. (He’s ahead 46-24 and 47-22, respectively.) This is all the more problematic when you consider that Republicans are 5 times more likely to be undecided than Democrats, so the GOP candidates have a lot of room to grow once they introduce themselves, and the NRCC especially has hope in Cramer (North Dakota Public Service Commissioner). In short: Pomeroy has a good standing and he is clearly favored to win re-election, but he is not safe.

OH-01: If Kissell and Pomeroy look strong, Rep. Steve Driehaus is sinking according to a SUSA poll commissioned by FiredogLake. We already knew that this freshman Democrat was one of the most endangered of the cycle (he is facing a rematch against the Republican he ousted in 2008, and OH-01 is a district with a substantial African-American population, so a drop in black turnout compared to the past cycle would be particularly hurtful to his chances), but SUSA’s numbers are uglier than even optimistic Republicans surely expected: Driehaus trails 39% to 56% for former Rep. Steve Chabot. I don’t need to tell you the odds that an incumbent who trails by 17% might win re-election. (Coincidentally, this is the same exact margin SUSA found against Rep. Vic Snyder on Friday.)

An unexpected Dem opportunity in UT, door is closing in OK

Utah: Democrats were excited at Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Coroon’s decision to challenge Governor Herbert, and a Deseret News poll confirms that Coroon could make the race well-worth watching: Herbert leads 48% to 35%, down from his 56-32 lead back in November. There’s no question that Herbert is heavily favored, but Coroon does represent one third of the state’s population in a capacity that ensures he is a visible presence. At the very least, Coroon’s presence on the ballot could help Democrats ensure that Rep. Jim Matheson isn’t a victim of any potential red wave.

Oklahoma: Whatever Oklahoma’s staunchly conservative status, Democrats had enough of a bench they were expecting to mount a highly competitive bid to defend the state’s governorship. (Governor Henry is term-limited.) Yet, a Tulsa News poll finds that Lieut. Gov. Jari Askins and Attorney General Drew Edmonson are no match for Rep. Mary Fallin; despite their strong favorability rating (Edmonson’s stands at 51-31), they trail the Republican 52% to 36% and 51% to 39%, respectively. A former Lieutenant Governor, Fallin is well-known and popular (54% to 29%). Democrats shouldn’t entirely give up, but the race most certainly leans Republican.

Connecticut and North Dakota won’t be competitive

From the moment Senators Byron Dorgan and Chris Dodd retired two weeks ago, we have known that the races to replace them are unlikely to be competitive. Three new poll confirm that John Hoeven and Richard Blumenthal are very heavily favored to be sworn into the Senate come January 2011.

North Dakota: Richard 2000 finds Hoeven leading 56% to 32% against Ed Schulz, 55% to 34% against former AG Heidi Heitkamp and 56% to 32% against Jasper Schneider. Sure, Hoeven’s lead doesn’t quite reach “overwhelming” status, but looking at the internals it’s hard to see a path to victory for whoever Democrats nominate: There are few undecideds, including among Democratic voters; Hoeven enjoys near unanimous support among Republicans; and he has daunting leads among independents.

Connecticut: We’ve already seen a few surveys displaying Blumenthal’s dominance, but over the past 5 days Quinnipiac and Research 2000 both released surveys confirming it. In Research 2000, Blumenthal leads Rob Simmons 54% to 35%, Linda McMahon 56% to 34% and Peter Schiff 56% to 33%. In Quinnipiac, whose brutal numbers for Dodd were as responsible for driving the narrative of his doom than those of any other pollster, his leads are gigantic: 62% to 27% against Simmons, 64% to 23% against McMahon, 66% to 19% against Schiff. Everything can happen if Democrats aren’t careful (see neighboring Massachussetts), but Blumenthal isn’t Martha Coakley.

CO, NH, NV, OH: 4 key Senate races, 7 rough polls for Senate Democrats.

Ohio: Democrats led this open race for much of 2009, but Rasmussen’s new poll is its second in a row to find Rob Portman has grabbed the edge. He leads Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher 44% to 37% and Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner 43% to 40%. These numbers are very interesting because the Democratic establishment holds Fisher to be a stronger candidate; yet, Portman increased his lead against Fisher whilelosing ground against Brunner! Overall, then, the two parties are roughly where they were in early December.

Colorado: This week, we received three surveys testing Colorado, which until this week an underpolled state:

  • Rasmussen has by far the worst set of results for Democrats: Senator Michael Bennet trails former Lieut. Gov. 49% to 37%, and he’s also behind lower-profile Tom Wiens (44% to 38%) and Ken Buck (43% to 38%). Former Speaker Andrew Romanoff trails Norton and Wiens by the same margin but is only behind Buck by 1%.
  • In response to these ugly numbers, Bennet released an internal poll, which might have found better results but he is still behind Jane Norton, 43% to 40%.
  • Finally, just this afternoon Research 2000 released the best news Bennet has received in quite some time: Bennet leads Norton 40% to 39%, Buck 41% to 38% and Wiens 42% to 38%; Romanoff trails Norton by 2% but leads Buck and Wiens by 1% and 2%.

There is quite a lot of disparity between these three surveys, and Bennet’s camp will be delighted that he finally manages a lead in a poll - even if it’s well within the MoE. That said, it is clear from all of these surveys that Bennet is stuck at 40% - a dismal place for an incumbent to be, even an appointed one. Colorado remains a major problem for Democrats.

New Hampshire: Another tough Rasmussen poll, since it shows that what once looked like a Democratic-leaning open seat might now be leaning Republican: Attorney General Kelly Ayotte leads Rep. Paul Hodes 49% to 40%. (This is roughly the same margin Rasmussen found in September.) Hodes does led lower-profile Republicans Ovide Lamontagne and Bill Binnie 45% to 38% and 43% to 37%, respectively. This is

Nevada: With everyone now aware that Harry Reid is one of the Democrats’ most vulnerable senators, there’s been speculation that the party might try to convince him to pull a Chris Dodd, as in retire for the good of the party. But a new poll released last week revealed that Democrats don’t have a Blumenthal-like savior:

  • PPP found Harry Reid trailing Sue Lowden 51% to 41% and Danny Tarkanian 50% to 42% - very ugly margins for a longtime senator against second-tier challengers. Yet, the Republicans enjoy similar margins against other Democrats! Rep. Shelly Berkley trails by 8% against both; Rose Miller trails by 10% and 11%, respectively. Only Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman manages to stay on an equal footing: he ties Tarkanian at 41%, leads Lowden 42% to 40%.
  • If PPP’s numbers were ugly, how can we describe Rasmussen’s? Here, Reid is crushed Lowden 48% to 36% and Tarkanian 50% to 36%! He manages to stay close to former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, but even here he’s stuck at 40%, trailing 44% to 40%.

If polls showing other Democrats doing better than Reid started piling up, the party could hope to convince him to retire; but PPP’s survey cuts that hope short (Research 2000 will also soon release a similar poll), which allows Republicans to feel increasingly confident about picking-up Nevada.

OH, NV and MA: 3 key Governor’s races, three tough polls for Dems

Ohio: If Ted Strickland started 2009 as the clear favorite, he starts 2010 trailing former Rep. John Kasich. Rasmussen finds him trailing 47% to 40%, which is actually a 2% improvement over December’s numbers. Other surveys have found a closer race, but there’s no question that Strickland is in for a very tough battle.

Nevada: Rory Reid is in as much trouble as his father, only the position they’re vying for is different. Sure, Reid manages to lead incumbent Governor Jim Gibbons 43% to 36% in Mason Dixon’s poll, but considering that Gibbons is even more unpopular (his favorability rating is 18% to 53%) than David Paterson that doesn’t mean much; the favorite to win the Republican nomination, Brian Sandoval, crushes Reid 53% to 31%! In a three-way race involving Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, who is considering running as an independent, Sandoval and Goodman are close (35% to 33% for the former), with 20% for Reid. There’s no mystery as to why: Reid’s favorability rating is 25% to 35%, Goodman’s 43-15 and Sandoval’s 36-5. Hard to explain Reid’s numbers by anything but his last name.

Massachussetts: Two new polls confirm that Martha Coakley isn’t the only struggling Massachussetts Democrat:

  • PPP shows that Governor Deval Patrick has a dismal approval rating of just 22%. In three-way races involving Treasurer Tom Cahill (as an independent) and one of his 2 Republican opponents, Patrick is ahead but he receives less than 30% (!) and leads whoever is in second place by just 2% or 3%. In both match-ups, the 3 candidates are within 8%.
  • The Boston Globe poll is more favorable to Patrick: His favorability rating is a bad but not horrendous 39/50 and his leads over Cahill are a bit larger. If the GOP nominee is Charlie Baker, Patrick receives 30, Cahill 23% and Baker 19%; if the GOP nominee is Mihos, the numbers are 32, 23 and 19 for Mihos.

Much will depend on how Cahill positions his campaign. A former Democrat, he has been inching closer to the right since announcing he would run as an independent, for instance asking a conservative Republican state legislator to join his ticket.

Democrats’ silver lining is definitely Connecticut

Not only did Chris Dodd’s retirement all but guarantee Democrats will save Connecticut’s Senate seat, but Research 2000 shows they can look forward to in the Governor’s race - and also the 2012 Senate contest. Susan Bysiewicz, who just dropped out of the race last week, was in a very strong position: she led Lieutenant Governor Michael Fedele 52% to 33%, Tom Foley 51% to 35% and Mark Boughton 52% to 32%. But the Democrats left in the race look solid as well: Ned Lamont leads 46-36, 46-37 and 46-34 while Dan Malloney is up 44-35, 43-37 and 44-34, respectively.

Research 2000 also tested the 2012 Senate race. In a two-way general election match-up between Joe Lieberman and Chris Murphy, the representative leads the independent senator 45% to 26% - it’s quite stunning to see such a longtime senator fail to receive more than a quarter of the vote. Not only does Murphy crush Lieberman among Democrats (71% to 20%), but also among independents (41% to 22%). Democrats might fear a lot of losses in 2010, but at least Lieberman looks to have too low support to have much hope to win re-election in 2012.


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When a Secretary of State is treated as a minor-league candidate

There are obvious reasons as to why Elaine Marshall isn’t Democrats’ dream candidate in North Carolina’s Senate race. For one, her 2002 campaign was a weak one; she came in third in the Democratic primary, in great part plagued by her inability to compete financially. Second, there is an argument to be made that any politician who has been a statewide official for 13 years but has remained relatively low-profile - most polls find Marshall with unimpressive name recognition - lacks the fire needed for a statewide campaign.

And yet, that’s not quite enough to explain why Marshall is being treated as such a minor-league contender. For one, the DSCC has made it unusually clear that it doesn’t regard her as the strongest potential candidate by transparently banking everything on an effort to recruit Rep. Bob Etheridge. In fact, we’re left to wonder whether they consider her to be a candidate at all since they’re signaling they’d prefer just about anyone to Marshall. Until he ruled out running on Monday, former state Sen. Cal Cunningham was held up as an ideal back-up to Etheridge and there’ve been suggestions that the DSCC might still court him if Etheridge opts out.

Reading articles about Etheridge’s indecision and Cunningham’s exit, you would think Democrats are utterly failing at finding any candidate. Here’s how The Washington Post’s The Fix described the race earlier this week (before Cunningham announced he wouldn’t run):

Senate Democrats will know this week whether they have succeeded in filling their last major recruiting hole when Rep. Bobby Etheridge (D-N.C.) announces whether or not he will take on Sen. Richard Burr in 2010. Democrats have long believed that Burr is vulnerable but have watched while high-profile recruits like state Attorney General Roy Cooper… [If Etheridge doesn't run], expect national party operatives to turn to attorney Cal Cunningham as their preferred nominee.

Could an argument be made that Cunningham would be a stronger general election than Marshall? Certainly. But to suggest that their electability difference is so clear that North Carolina is a “major recruitment hole” with Marshall in the race but would be a recruitment success if Cunningham ran is just silly.

It’s also a strategically incomprehensible move on the DSCC’s part: With no evidence that any of the politicians national Democrats are touting will jump in the race (Etheridge is expected to make an announcement by the end of the week, and conventional wisdom is that he has already decided to seek re-election to the House ), would would the DSCC go to such lengths to snub the one prominent candidate who is already running?

After all, the transparent lack of confidence Democrats are exhibiting towards Marshall is bound to hurt her campaign: Not only does it make her look not credible to the media (see The Fix’s write-up) but it also suggests to donors that they shouldn’t donate to the campaign, if for no other reason that the DSCC is signaling it’s unlikely to spend money in North Carolina on Marshall’s behalf.

The DSCC’s willingness to devote resources to the state is indeed a crucial question: You surely remember that Chuck Schumer’s decision to go all-out against Elizabeth Dole last year was a huge factor in Kay Hagan’s victory. If Etheridge doesn’t run, if Cunningham doesn’t change his mind and if former Lieutenant Governor Dennis Wicker stays out of the race, will the DSCC move to embrace Marshall’s candidacy or will they opt for a a wait-and-see-approach? Hagan would not have won in 2008 had the DSCC done the latter, but then again 2010 is bound to be very different than 2008 was.

We shall know more about this race in the days ahead. As I wrote above, Etheridge should make an announcement in the days ahead. In fact, The News & Observer reports that he has already told his decision to DSCC officials, who asked him to wait a few days before going public. They add that they’re hearing that he will stick to the House, but the timing of Cunningham’s exit might suggest he heard Etheridge was preparing to enter.

In other North Carolina news, freshman Rep. Larry Kissell’s vote against the healh-care bill is one of those that has raised eyebrows. Not only does he represent a friendlier district than all but 4 of the 39 “no” votes, but about 30% of the district is African-American. That means NC-08’s Democratic voters are less likely to abandon their representative than those of other districts and that Kissell is more dependent on strong base turnout than most incumbents. (The two other freshman Democrats we always hear might suffer the most from low black turnout, Driehaus and Kilroy, both voted “yes.”) What is perhaps most striking is that Kissell was strongly supported by the blogopshere in his unsuccessful 2006 run and his victorious 2008 rematch, which helps explain why his Saturday vote has sparked backlash.


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After OH-18, NC-08: No longer sure it can contest another top target, NRCC turns to Tennessee

Over and over again, the GOP is signaling its commitment to targeting Democratic congressmen who represent conservative areas but have not faced a credible challenge in years - sometimes even decades. It started with the NRCC’s ads against entrenched Blue Dogs and continued with talk of challenges to the likes of Rep. Marion Berry and Rep. Ike Skelton.

The latest districts Republicans are eying are Tennessee’s 4th and 6th Districts, neither of which are featured on my list of 63 potentially vulnerable Dem-held House seats. While both districts have become very heavily conservative (TN-04 gave McCain 64% of the vote, TN-06 gave him 62%) neither has been competitive at the congressional level. Ever since he won the former seat in 2002, Lincoln Davis has not faced a threatening Republican opponent; the trend is even more pronounced for Bart Gordon, who has represented TN-06 since 1984 but has only faced any danger in 1994.

In this context, news that 2 GOP congressmen traveled to Tennessee to gauge potential recruits is a testament to the GOP’s current optimism. As I pointed out last week, both parties firmly believe that the coming cycle should favor them, and both are behaving accordingly. Republicans are particularly sanguine about the prospects of a red wave (that’s something about which I’ll have more to say in the day ahead.) There’s really no other way to explain their sudden belief that targeting Gordon is a worthy endeavor: For Gordon to as much as break a sweat would require 2010 to be as brutal as 1994.

Since Davis is far less senior a lawmaker and since he a slightly more conservative district, you might think that TN-04 would be the GOP’s priority - but the NRCC does not really seem to have a potentially top-tier candidate against Lincoln (physician Scott DesJarlais should not pose more of a challenge than his past competitors) while state Senator Jim Tracy and Rutherford County Republican Chairwoman Lou Ann Zelenik could spark more GOP enthusiasm than usual if they were to pull the trigger of a challenge to Gordon.

Meanwhile, in districts the NRCC should be focusing on…

Given the dozens of competitive districts the GOP lost in 2006 and 2008, you would think they have enough junior Democratic lawmakers to target that Skelton or Gordon would not be priorities. After all, Gordon would remain overwhelmingly favored to win re-election even if the NRCC landed a top-tier contender to run against him, whereas a credible Republican is all that’s needed to put many freshman Democrats in trouble.

Yet, the GOP suffered damaging blows this week when two Republicans made it clear they would not challenge Rep. Larry Kissell in NC-08. Kissell won a resounding victory last fall, defeating Rep. Robin Hayes by 10% - thus outperforming Obama’s 6% win. But in a district Bush won by 9% in 2004, Kissell should be vulnerable if the GOP finds a strong contender - if for no other reason than the fact that a drop in African-American turnout would be more consequential here than in most congressional districts.

The most disappointing decision has to be that Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, who came within 3% of winning last fall’s gubernatorial elections. In a state Democrats have long dominated at the state level, that’s an impressive performance - especially when compared to Elizabeth Dole’s 9% defeat. Mayors often make good candidates, and McCrory would have had the stature, the base and the name recognition to be one of the GOP’s top 2010 candidates. (Note that only a small part of Charlotte is in the 8th district, so McCrory’s notoriety certainly extends to the city’s large metro area.) Yet, he will not run.

Neither will Hayes, who had previously indicated he was considering seeking a rematch. While Hayes’s 10% defeat suggests he could be too damaged to win in this district, he would still have immediately put the district on the radar screen. In some districts a weak former congressman’s retreat or primary defeat allows a party to end up with a stronger challenger (see KS-04 last year or perhaps VA-05 this year) but the GOP had no other top candidate than McCrory. While the NRCC has some names it can turn to - in particular District Attorney John Snyder, a former aide to Jesse Helms - none can be sure of endangering Kissell.

Coming a few days after the NRCC suffered the latest in a series of recruitment blows in OH-18, these North Carolina developments mean that Republicans can no longer be sure they’ll be able to contest two of their top House targets.


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NRCC goes after Kratovil and red-district Democrats, loses a challenger in North Carolina

Earlier this year, the NRCC launched a massive attack against 33 Democratic representatives; but only one incumbent found himself targeted by a TV ad: Zach Space (OH-18). A few months have passed and the Republican committee is using the same strategy.

In a new wave of attacks that targets 17 Democrats, TV ads will be aired in only one district: MD-01, held by Frank Kratovil. Additionally, radio ads will air against six Democrats: Vic Snyder (AR-02), Suzanne Kosmas (FL-24), Harry Teague (NM-02), Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (SD-AL), Glenn Nye (VA-02) and Tom Perriello (VA-05).

What do all these Democrats have in common? They all represent conservative-leaning territory: John McCain won all but VA-02, a district in which Obama received 2% but where George W. Bush prevailed by 16% in 2004. In 2010, Republicans are hoping that these district’s conservative nature will reassert itself since the environment is unlikely to be as favorable to Democrats as it was over the past two cycles and they are thus looking to soften these incumbent’s image by blasting them as partisan Democrats and as liberals.

And the GOP has long decided how it will do that: Use Nancy Pelosi as a boogeywoman. The NRCC’s previous wave of ad attacked Blue Dog Democrats on spending matters. “Nancy Pelosi pushed a budget with a trillion dollar deficit,” said the ad that aired in OH-18. “And Space voted to let Nancy Pelosi get her way.”

Now, the NRCC is focusing on Pelosi’s recent back-and-forth with the CIA. “Lying to Congress would be a crime, so why won’t Pelosi investigate the “crime”?,” asks the ad that will air in Maryland’s 1st District. “Frank Kratovil sided with Pelosi to block an investigation. Frank Kratovil, voting with Nancy Pelosi 89% of the time.”

Contrary to what the GOP seems to think, it has not gained the upper-hand on this issue: Polls suggest that the CIA’s reputation is damaged enough that the public did not automatically dismiss Pelosi’s claims. Yet, what might not be a winning argument for the NRCC in most parts of the country could very well be a successful one in red districts like MD-01: Pelosi is very unpopular among Republicans and conservative-leaning voters (a constituency among which these 7 Democrats need to do well) were likely appalled by the Speaker’s contention that the CIA lied.

Democrats who have represented very hostile districts for decades (think Rep. Taylor of Mississippi) have had the time to convince their Republican constituents that they are not automatic votes in favor of the leadership of their party. As such, they have become very difficult to dislodge. But Kratovil, Kosmas, Teague, Nye and Perriello are all freshman and sit in red-leaning districts: the NRCC thus believes it can turn conservative-leaning voters against them, which explains why they are all being targeted.

Herseth Sandlin has easily won her 3 re-election races so her situation is different, but there is some buzz about her facing her first serious challenger - not to mention that she is mulling a gubernatorial run so the NRCC might be looking to pressure into leaving the House. As for Vic Snyder, he is one of those entrenched Democrats I mentioned above but the NRCC has by now made it clear it will go after Snyder and AR-01’s Marion Berry.

To truly make thee Arkansas Democrats vulnerable, the GOP will have to land top challengers, but given how entrenched both Snyder and Berry are the NRCC can hope to convince anyone to run unless they demonstrate their willingness to spend hard money on these districts. Indeed, early advertising is one thing, recruiting credible challengers is quite another. While the GOP has met some success in blue-leaning districts like OR-04 and CA-47, it still has work to do against the more obviously vulnerable Democrats.

In NC-08, a swing district in which Larry Kissell won a tough battle in 2008, Republicans were talking up the potential candidacy of Mike Minter. A former football, Minter looked interested in the race but, in a clear blow to the NRCC, he recently announced that he would not run. (This might open the door to a comeback by former Rep. Hayes, though he would probably not be the GOP’s best option.)

As much as I would like to think that athletes cannot just waltz their way into the political arena and win, there is enough evidence to suggest that Minter would have been a formidable candidate - starting with Democrat Heath Shuler, another football star who successfuly ran against an incumbent in 2006. Minter spent his entire career playing for the Carolina Panthers, which gives him huge name recognition and popularity in this district. (The Panthers are based in Charlotte, part of which is contained in NC-08.)

The GOP might have more success in WI-03: Rep. Ron Kind, who has easily held since his first victory in 1996, has not mentioned as a potentially vulnerable incumbent but he could soon draw a serious opponent: state Senator Dan Kapanke is signaling his interest in challenging Kind. WI-03 only narrowly went for Gore and Kerry (3% each time) but Obama received 58% of the vote. As such, it is not the most obvious place for an unexpected Republican offensive, but trying to expand the map to usually uncontested districts certainly did not hurt Democrats in 2006.


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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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NRCC’s new expenditures boost defense, play some offense

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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DCCC goes on one of its last spending sprees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Poll watch: Trackings tighten (a bit), but Obama dominates in VA, CO, PA, OH, FL and NV; Wicker opens wide lead

We start, as will now be customary, with the three states that we should be watching over this closing week: Colorado, Virginia and Pennsylvania. New polls were released today in each and they find Obama in command: He extends his lead by 3% in the latest Insider Advantage poll of Colorado, leads by 9% in Virginia and has a sizable edge in three Pennsylvania surveys (7% to 12%). That said, both Insider Advantage and Rasmussen suggest that there might be some tightening in the Keystone State, and Obama is no longer enjoying consistent double-digit leads.

It is a testament to just how huge a lead he had seized that he remains so firmly in command of Pennsylvania despite shedding nearly half of his lead in Rasmussen’s survey. And it is also a testament to Obama’s remarkably strong electoral map that he has so many other options even if McCain somehow manages to pull off one of the three states listed above.

If Obama were to lose Pennsylvania, for instance, Nevada would suffice to compensate - and two new polls out today show Obama leading outside of the margin of error and by as much as 10%. Keep in mind that the demographics of Pennsylvania, Virginia, Colorado and Nevada are very similar, so a comeback in the former wouldn’t mean that McCain is coming back in the three latter ones. McCain trails outside of the MoE in two new polls of Ohio (4% and 9%) and two new polls of Florida (5% and 7%). McCain still has a lot of work to do in all of these states.

As has been the case over the past few days, the tightest contests are taking place in states that Obama does not need: Indiana, North Carolina, Montana, Georgia and… Arizona are all within the margin of error in new polls. Losing any of these would be a catastrophe for the GOP.

McCain supporters can at least take comfort in the composite of the tracking polls, as McCain continues to close the gap after already tightening the race somewhat yesterday. But he continues to trail, and a Pew national poll taken over the same period finds disastrous numbers for McCain (I don’t believe McCain had ever trailed by 16% in a poll before). On to the full roundup of the day’s polls:

  • Obama leads 53% to 38% in a national Pew poll conducted Thursday through Monday; the margin is 16% with registered voters. 74% of Obama’s supporters describe themselves as “strong” supporters, versus 56% of McCain’s. Obama leads among men, women, every age group, independents and by 19% among early voters.
  • Obama leads 50% to 45% in an ARG national poll thanks to 83% of Democrats and a 12% lead among independents.
  • McCain makes some progress in the latest tracking polls: He gains 3% in Gallup (51-44, and only 49-47 in the LVT model), 1% in Research 2000 (50-43), 1% in Zogby (49-45). The race is stable in Hotline (50-42), Washington Post/ABC (52-45) and Rasmussen (51-46). Obama gains 1% in IBD/TIPP (48-44). That means that Obama’s leads are: 4%, 4%, 5%, 7%, 7%, 7%, 8%.
  • Colorado: Obama leads 53% to 45% in a new Insider Advantage poll, based on his staggering 81% among Hispanics. Obama led by 5% last week. The poll was conducted on Sunday.
  • Pennsylvania: Obama leads 51% to 42% in an Insider Advantage poll of Pennsylvania; a separate IA poll of suburban Bucks County finds Obama leading by 3% (the same as Kerry), a 3% decline since a poll two weeks ago. This poll was conducted on Sunday. Obama leads 53% to 46% in a Rasmussen poll; that’s a drop from Obama’s 13% margin three weeks ago. No movement in the Morning Call tracking poll, however, where Obama leads 53% to 41%.
  • Virginia: Obama leads 48% to 39% in a Roanoke College poll. The poll was conducted over eight days, however, from the 19th through yesterday.
  • Ohio: Obama leads 49% to 40% in a new LAT/Bloomberg poll conducted Saturday through yesterday. (A fascinating internal: Obama wins white, working class voters 52% to 38%). Obama leads 49% to 45% in a SUSA poll conducted on Sunday and Monday. Obama led by 5% two weeks ago. He leads by 17% among the 22% of respondents who say they have already voted.
  • Nevada: Obama leads 50% to 40% in a Suffolk poll conducted from the 23rd through the 27th, with 2% for Barr and 1% each for McKinney and Nader. Obama leads 50% to 46% in a Rasmussen poll in which he led by 5% two weeks ago.
  • North Carolina: The candidates are tied at 47% in a week-end Mason Dixon/NBC poll. In a PPP poll of the 8th district, Obama leads by 6% which is a 14% swing since 2004, about what Obama needs statewide to win the state.
  • Indiana: Three polls in Indiana show a highly competitive race. Obama leads 48% to 47% in a Research 2000 poll (the candidates were tied three weeks ago.) McCain leads 47% to 45% in a Howey/Gauge poll. In a separate Research 2000 poll of IN-03, McCain leads 53% to 38% - which is great news for Obama since Bush won the district 68% to 31% (that’s a 22% swing towards Obama, essentially what he needs statewide to carry the state).
  • Montana: McCain leads 48% to 44% in a week-end Mason Dixon/NBC poll (I am not sure whether Ron Paul’s name was included).

Meanwhile, in down the ballot surveys:

  • Roger Wicker jumps to a big 54% to 43% lead in a Rasmussen poll of Mississippi’s Senate race. He only led by 2% in September.
  • Saxby Chambliss leads 46% to 44,5% in an Insider Advantage poll of Georgia’s Senate race, with 2% going to other (it looks like Buckley’s name was not included).
  • Jeff Merkley leads 45% to 40% in a Hibbits poll of Oregon’s Senate race conducted from the 22nd to the 25th. No mention of early voting, unfortunately.
  • Bev Perdue leads McCrory 47% to 44% in a PPP poll of North Carolina’s gubernatorial race.
  • In IN-03, GOP Rep. Souder leads 45% to 40% in a Research 2000 poll, with 4% going to Libertarian candidate Bill Larsen. In a Howey Gauge poll of the district, however, it is Democratic challenger Montagano who leads 44% to 41% (this latter poll has a large 6% MoE).
  • In NC-08, Larry Kissell leads GOP Rep. Hayes 51% to 46% in a PPP poll.
  • In OH-15, Democratic candidate Mary Jo Kilroy leads 47% to 41% in a SUSA poll, with 6% going to conservative independent candidate Don Eckart. 37% of respondents say they have already voted, and Kilroy leads by 16%.
  • In GA-08, Democratic Rep. Marshall leads 49% to 45% in a SUSA poll. Marshall immediately released an internal poll showing him leading 48% to 31%.
  • In KS-03, Democratic Rep. Moore leads 53% to 42% in a SUSA poll.

The most important of the day’s congressional poll undoubtedly comes from Mississippi, where Republican Senator Roger Wicker jumps to a commanding lead - suggesting that Democrats might not be as close to a Senate sweep after all (Mississippi’s Senate race is currently ranked 9th in my Senate rankings). The Insider Advantage poll from Georgia, meanwhile, is further evidence that we might not get a resolution on November 4th, as both candidate are far from the 50% mark - especially since the Libertarian candidate was not even included as an option in this survey.

At the House level, Democratic taek-over opportunities in NC-08 and OH-15 (both rated lean Democratic in my latest ratings) continue to look good for Democratic, and the IN-03 numbers are outstanding: this is a massively Republican district that voted for Bush by 37% in 2004! It was on no one’s radar screen as of the end of September, and has now become a highly vulnerable district. If Rep. Souder falls, IN-03 will be remembered as one of the great upsets of the 2008 cycle.

SUSA’s GA-08 poll, however, is a reminder that there are a number of Democratic seats at risk as well. Marshall barely survived the 2006 cycle (in fact, he looked gone for much of the cycle), and it looks like this race might keep us late yet again.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full ratings available here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full ratings available here.


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Congress: The violent Stevens juror, Boulder liberals, and connecting rabbis to terrorists

In yet another twist in the Ted Stevens trial, the jury sent the judge a note… asking for the removal of one of its members. The note, written by the foreman, explained that, “she is being rude, disrespectful and unreasonable. She has had violent outbursts with other jurors and that’s not helping anyone. The jurors are getting off-course. She’s not following the laws and rules that are being stipulated to in the main instructions.” Judge Sullivan convoked the jury and asked to be courteous towards one another, so no juror has been removed for now, and the jury is back to deliberating over Stevens’ legal - and electoral - fate.

If this juror’s hostility is based on disagreement over the facts of the case, it could mean that the jury is having trouble reaching a decision - a good sign for the defense. If it is due to the juror’s natural propensity to be “rude, disrespectful and unreasonable,” well, it might not mean anything at all. For now, the consequence of all of this is to delay a verdict and with it any sense of resolution in what is the biggest outstanding question that will be answered before Election Day. (That said, it is highly unlikely that the jury is unable to reach a decision by November 3th, so it’s unlikely that voters will go to the polls before knowing the verdict.)

Meanwhile, the volume of ads in some of the most heated congressional races is being dialed up. In Colorado, Republicans are getting desperate in their attempts to destabilize Mark Udall, who has led in ever single poll taken this year. While third party groups have poured millions in the race and the GOP has invested a lot of efforts in painting Udall as too far to the left, numbers have barely moved for months now, so the NRSC’s latest ad literally goes all-out on the font size department, proclaiming to all viewers that Udall is a “Boulder liberal” who marches in lockstep with his party:

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

You decide whether such an ad has a chance of being effective. It doesn’t introduce a new argument, simply recycles attacks that have been running (unsuccessfuly) for months and illustrates them more directly. In Kentucky, it is Democrats who are upping their attacks, though they are doing so on a topic that has proved effective over the past few weeks. Mitch McConnell’s decline in the polls can be directly related to the economic crisis, and the DSCC’s new ad accuses the incumbent Senator of being responsible for the state’s losing jobs. The spot details the number of jobs particular counties lost to different countries:

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRLaEYxR1vM"]

Mitch McConnell is also being targeted by a 527, Campaign Money Watch. The group is spending $380,000 on an ad accusing the incumbent of using his clout to help pharmaceutical and insurance interests. All of these expenditures are taking place in the midst of heightening tensions between the two campaigns. Republicans are charging that Lunsford stole and erased recordings out of a McConnell digital recorder during a debate, and they are considering filing a lawsuit against the Democratic candidate himself.

The prize for the day’s most outrageous ad goes to GOP Rep. Scott Garrett of NJ-05, who occupies what is still considered as a relatively safe seat. But his opponent, Dennis Shulman, is credible enough that the race merits attention. Shulman is a blind rabbi but that is not preventing Garrett of running a jaw-dropping ad that accuses Shulman of wanting to “negotiate with terrorists” while Shulman’s face is juxtaposed with Ahmadinejad’s:

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4a1GsGv5Dlo"]

The DCCC has not spent any money on this district; given how many seats they are spending in, that suggests that Rep. Garrett is not that vulnerable, which makes his decision to go so negative rather surprising. This gives an opening for Shulman to get some media attention, after all. But Republican congressional candidates are not being particularly careful about what they are saying these days, which is surely giving NRCC officials huge headaches.

While it has not reached the level of Bachmann’s anti-Americanism rant, a recent statement by Rep. Hayes of NC-08 (”Liberals hate real Americans that work and accomplish and achieve and believe in God”) has attracted significant attention in the local media and has forced Hayes on the defensive. (NC-08 is rated a toss-up in my most recent ratings.) Hayes made the problem worse when his campaign denied it made the comments, then acknowledged them after an audio recording surfaced, and then Hayes denied that the comments had been denied! Of course, Democrats have their own problem with incumbents shooting themselves in the foot, as Rep. Murtha (PA-12)’s comments about his district’s racism and his later correction that they were rednecks has suddenly put that race on our radar screen.


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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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  • All good things must come to an end

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  • What remains on the table

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  • Confusion in Connecticut (Updated)

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

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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
  • Election Night results thread: Rep. Boucher’s fall first surprise of the night

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

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

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

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

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

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

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

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

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

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

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Final ratings: Democrats brace for historic losses

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

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

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

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

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

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

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

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

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

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

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

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

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

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