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


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Ratings update: The landscape isn’t done shifting away from Dems

I first want to thank all those who wrote very kind words after I announced I would end regular blogging, either in the comments section, via e-mail or Twitter. It was very heart-warming to know how much Campaign Diaries meant to so many people. As I promised then, I am now thinking about the best way to put together a weekly update system. Perhaps it would be best to keep it open so I have the flexibility to do what I think fits the week best, though I will try to be regular.

This week, I am posting a “ratings update”, as many of my race assesments grew stale over the past month - most notably in Indiana and upstate New York. The races that are written in red are those in which the rating is changing towards Republicans; those that are written in blue are those in which the rating is changing towards Democrats.

Senate

Indiana, lean Democratic to toss-up: All hell broke loose in the Hoosier State when Evan Bayh announced his retirement just 24 hours from the filing deadline, but Democrats have managed to stabilize the situation by convincing Rep. Brad Ellsworth to give up his relatively safe House seat for a tough statewide campaign. (To be clear: Ellsworth has not yet been officially tapped by the party committee, but there is little doubt he will be the nominee.) If Ellsworth manages to defend this conservative-leaning state in an environment that is this toxic for his party, it will largely be because Bayh’s timing prevented Republicans from securing as formidable a nominee as they would have otherwise: It would have been harder to imagine Ellsworth prevailing against Mitch Daniels, Todd Rokita or Mike Pence than against former Senator Dan Coats, a former lobbyist who moved away from the state and hasn’t faced voters since 1992, or against former Rep. John Hostettler, who has always ran poor campaigns and has a very rough relationship with national Republicans. The GOP nonetheless starts with a slight edge, but Indiana is sure to host a highly competitive campaign.

Governor

Illinois-Gov, likely Democratic to lean Democratic: Not only is Pat Quinn running as the incumbent Governor of a Midwestern state - a sure way to face electoral trouble this year - but he cannot even count on one of the biggest assets of incumbency - voter familiarity: He came to become Governor upon Rod Blagojevich’s impeachment rather than through a victory of his own. Add to this the possibility that Blagojevich’s summer trial reflects badly on state Democrats, and the GOP has reason to hope it can oust Quinn. Yet, state Senator Bill Brady’s apparent victory should prevent Republicans from making full use of Governor Pat Quinn’s vulnerabilities as the relatively conservative state Senator could have trouble making himself acceptable to this blue state’s electorate. The fact that he is from downstate could boost GOP turnout across the state, but it might cause moderate voters in the Chicago suburbs not to support him. Furthermore, Brady has been denied the bounce primary winners typically get because it took a month for his victory over state Senator Kirk Dillard to be confirmed, while Quinn displayed strong survival skills in the Democratic primary.

Pennsylvania, toss-up to lean Republican: This is one of the most bizarre races of the cycle because of Democrats’ inability to recruit a strong candidate in what should have been one of the party’s priority. Former Rep. Joe Hoeffel, Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato and Auditor General Jack Wagner might make decent candidates, but none of them appears to have much name recognition nor a preexisting popularity that would help them beat back the electorate’s current hostility towards Democrats. Attorney General Tom Corbett, on the other hand, has been a dominant force in the GOP primary and polls show he is well-known and relatively well-liked.

Ohio, lean Democratic to toss-up: Governor Ted Strickland entered the cycle in a very comfortable position. He had triumphed in the 2006 open seat race, he enjoyed strong approval ratings and it did not look like Ohio Republicans could recover from years of dismal showings in time to mount a credible challenge. Yet, the recession has hit Midwestern states with particular ferocity, and it is no shock that Strickland’s poll numbers have fallen along with Ohioans’ economic condition. Republicans are high on former Rep. John Kasich, and Ohio’s status as one of the premier swing states should ensure national parties prioritize this race. While polls differ as to where it stands (Quinnipiac has Strickland leading outside of the margin of error, Rasmussen shows Kasich leading by large margins), there is no doubt it’s one of the country’s most competitive contests.

Texas, likely Republican to lean Republican: Rick Perry displayed amazing political resilience throughout 2009, dispatching popular Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison with an ease no one could have foreseen a year ago. Yet, he did so by using a strategy that should be ill-fitted to beat former Houston Mayor Bill White in the general election: The electorate Perry needs to court should be less amused by his talk of secession and his refusal to take federal funds and White will not suffer from anti-Washington sentiment the way Hutchison did. Add to that Perry’s clear vulnerabilities - not only is it not good to be an incumbent governor this year, but his approval rating is decidedly mediocre and he won re-election with only 39% of the vote in 2006 - and White has a clear shot at winning Democrats’ first major victory in Texas since 1990.

Utah, safe Republican to likely Republican: Are Republicans trembling with fear at the thought of facing Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon in the general election? No: Utah is too conservative a state for a Democrat to ever have that credible a shot at winning a statewide victory. Yet, Coroon does represent one third of the state’s population in a capacity that ensures he is visible and recent polls show he could score an upset if Gary Herbert (an unelected incumbent) stumbles.

House

FL-21, safe Republican to likely Republican: While candidates who try to succeed family members are more often than not successful, Mario Diaz-Balart’s announcement that he would run to replace his retiring brother Lincoln was so bizarre that it is worth keeping an eye on whether Democrats can recruit a strong candidate, attack Mario’s credibility and make the most of Southern Florida’s growing openness to voting for Democrats (Gore lost the district by 16%, Obama by 2%).

FL-25, likely Republican to lean Republican: Mario Diaz-Balart decided to switch districts because he felt FL-21 was a safer bet for a Republican than his FL-25, which covers western Miami-Dade County. While that means concentrating on FL-21 might not be advisable for Democrats, it also signals that an open seat in FL-25 is a real opportunity - even in a tough environment. Yet, much will depend on Democratic recruitment. While Republicans have already lined up top candidates (state Rep. David Rivera is running and state Senate Majority Leader Alex Diaz will probably join him), Democrats are waiting for 2008 nominee Joe Garcia to make up his mind; Garcia, who now works in the Obama administration, came close to defeating Diaz-Balart two years ago.

IN-08, safe Democratic to toss-up: Evan Bayh’s retirement caused open seat headaches not only for Senate Democrats but also for their House counterparts, as Brad Ellsworth withdrew his name from the IN-08 ballot hours before the filing deadlne in the expectation that he’d be chosen to replace Bayh. Thankfully for the DCCC, the timing of Ellsworth’s exit might very well save the party: the GOP did not have time to recruit a top candidate. Heart surgeon Larry Bucshon would be a credible nominee, but you can be sure Republicans would have been able to find a far stronger candidate had IN-8 become an open seats weeks before - not to mention Bucshon can’t be sure to win the 8-way primary! Ellsworth, meanwhile, was able to orchestrate a transition with state Rep. Trent Van Haaften, who thus has a stronger shot at defending the district. All of this said, IN-8 remains red-leaning, the DCCC’s first choice (Evansville Mayor Jon Weinsapfel) passed on the race and the environment is tough enough that this open seat is no better than a toss-up for Democrats.

KS-03, toss-up to lean Republican: While Democrats can never expect to have it easy in Kansas, this is one open seat they should not have let get this compromised: KS-03 voted for Barack Obama in 2008, and the party had a reasonable bench from which to pick a candidate. Yet, one by one Democrats have ruled out running - the biggest blow being Kansas City Mayor Joe Reardon - while the GOP field leaves nothing to be desired. The DCCC is now reduced to hoping that Rep. Dennis Moore’s wife Stephene Moore runs, as reports suggest she might; while she might be able to keep the party competitive, it’s hard to see how an inexperienced political spouse can get elected in a swing district in the absence of any sympathy factor.

MA-10, safe Democratic to lean Democratic: Rumors that Rep. Delahunt was preparing to retire started swirling in early 2010, but you can bet the DCCC was hoping they would not come to be true. MA-10 might be the state’s less Democratic seat, but this is likely the only cycle in which the GOP would have a real chance of winning an open race in a district that gave Gore, Kerry and Obama double-digit victories. Yet, MA-10 also decisively voted for Scott Brown, proving that voters are open to backing a Republican - and the NRCC is confident that former state Treasurer Joe Malone will make the most of this opportunity. Democrats in the running at the moment are state Sen. Robert O’Leary and Norfolk Co. DA William Keating.

MS-04, safe Democratic to likely Democratic: Gene Taylor has easily held a district that gave John McCain 68% of the vote since 1989, convincing tens of thousands of conservative voters to support him: he received more than 75% in six of his last last seven races. His electoral track record make him a solid bet for re-election, but if there is any year the GOP could unseat him, it’s in 2010. State Rep. Steven Palazzo has announced he will challenge Taylor, which is as serious a challenge as any the staunchly conservative Democrat has received recently.

NY-29, lean retention to toss-up: What is going on in the Empire State? Rep. Eric Massa became the latest New York politician to self-implode in a bizarre scandal involving harassment claims, unwanted tickling sessions and allegations that he was pushed out due to his opposition to the health-care bill. Even after the first headlines appeared, Massa’s abrupt decision to resign came as a surprise, though it simultaneously helps Nancy Pelosi find the votes to pass the health-care bill and gives the DCCC the headache of worrying about yet another problematic special election on top of May’s PA-12 and HI-01. In fact, the NY-29 special will be New York’s third in a single cycle - a number that matches the record set by far larger California a few cycles back! While Democrats pulled unlikely triumphs in NY-20 and NY-23 in 2009, NY-29 is more conservative since it is one of only three state districts to have voted for McCain. Furthermore, the Democratic nominee will have to run under the clout of the Paterson and Massascandals at a time the new York electorate has shown signs of being exasperated with the party. Finally, the GOP will not be weighed down by the two factors that doomed its NY-20 and NY-23 candidates (too much of a connection to Albany and intraparty fighting), as Corning Mayor Tom Reed is emerging as a consensus choice. That said, Reed, who was already running before Massa’s resignation, had never come to look as that formidable a candidate and the GOP might have been better off with a stronger contender. It remains to be seen who Democrats pick.

OH-02, likely Republican to safe Republican: While Democrats threw a lot at Rep. Jean Schmidt in 2005, 2006 and 2008, they never fielded the type of prominent candidate whose local ties could have overcome the district’s staunchly conservative lean. They thought they would finally be able to do so in 2010, but the state legislator whose candidacy the DCCC spent months touting dropped out in November. The Democratic nominee will be Surya Yalamanchili, a political novice whose claim to fame comes from a bout on Donald Trump’s The Apprentice, or David Krikorian, who got double-digits running as an independent in 2008. While they might have been promising candidates in other years, voters seem too reluctant to oust a GOP incumbent this year for a Republican holding a 59%-McCain district to have much to worry about - however controversial her profile.

OH-13, safe Democratic to likely Democratic: For car dealer Tom Ganley to defeat Rep. Betty Sutton would be one of the biggest upsets of Election Night, and yet it is no longer possible to rule out such results. While OH-13 gave John Kerry and Barack Obama double-digits victories, Ganley is reportedly willing to spend as much as $1 million of his money funding his race and Sutton is too junior a lawmaker for Democrats to be confident she can resist voters’ hostility towards her party. At the very least, OH-13 could emerge as a late headache for the DCCC, forcing the party committee to spend precious resources defending Sutton rather than more obviously vulnerable Democrats.

RI-01, safe Democratic to likely Democratic: Democrats were sure not expecting to spend as much as a minute worrying about a district that gave Al Gore, John Kerry and Barack Obama more than 62% of the vote, but Rep. Patrick Kennedy’s retirement has given the GOP hope that state Rep. John Loughlin can make the race competitive. The Democratic field is made up of two prominent contenders with a relatively progressive reputation - Providence Mayor David Cicilline and state Democratic Party chairman William Lynch; an ugly race could open the door to Loughlin, since the primary will not be held until September 14th. A wild card is the possible candidacy of former Providence MayorBuddy Cianci, who recently spent four years in federal prison but has now said he is considering an independent run.


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Filing deadline passes in Ohio, Indiana

Two new states saw their filing deadlines pass this week: Ohio and Indiana. This means retirement/recruitment season is already done in 8 states. This allows us to take a detailed look at the state of play in all 27 of these state’s House races, as well as their two Senate contests. (Note: Next up is North Carolina, with a February 26th deadline.)

Ohio: No retirement, 7 races to watch

All 18 of Ohio’s congressmen (10 Democrats and 8 Republicans) will seek re-election. Of them, a third look like they will have to fight off a competitive challenge come November, 5 of them Democrats in OH-01, OH-13, OH-15, OH-16 and OH-18. OH-12 is probably the only GOP-held seat to watch, though OH-02 could still be worth monitoring as the district has produced many fireworks in recent cycles. However, a lot depends on what happens in the May primaries, as at least two candidates highly touted by the NRCC face very crowded fields in which their victory is far from certain.

Rep. Steve Driehaus of OH-01 is arguably the most endangered of the state’s incumbents as he is sure to face former Rep. Steve Chabot, whom he defeated two years ago, in the general election: No other Republican filed. Next on the list is probably OH-15, in which state Senator Steve Stivers should have little trouble securing the Republican nomination for a rematch over now-Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy. The trouble for Stivers could come in the general election: former Hilliard Mayor David Ryon has filed to run as the Constitution Party candidate and he could draw a substantial share of the vote because of conservative mistrust towards Stivers. (In 2008, two conservative candidates totaled more than 10% of the vote, helping Kilroy defeat Stivers.)

OH-16 is home to yet another Democratic freshman, and while Rep. John Boccieri looks in a better shape than his colleagues 5 Republicans are going after him. The front-runner is financial consultant Jim Renacci, whom the NRCC is hoping will self-fund; Renacci also used to serve as Mayor of Wadsworth, a small town of about 18,000 people. Yet, Renacci should face a tough primary against a crowed field of 4 other candidates. In particular, two of his opponents (Matt Miller and Paul Schiffer) ran in 2008 and received 42% and 10% of the vote - showings that are all the more impressive given that they came against a state Senator who secured the nomination with just 47%. In short: Renacci is in no way certain of winning the GOP nod. I’d guess the NRCC will turn away from the district f Renacci loses.

In OH-18, Rep. Zach Space long hoped he would not have to face a top-tier GOP opponent, but those hopes faded back in September when state Senator Bob Gibbs agreed to jump in. In a district George W. Bush twice won by double-digits, this could be a tough challenge to overcome. The twist: there are a total of 9 candidates seeking the Republican nomination, including 2008 nominee Fred Dailey (the former head of the Ohio Department of Agriculture), former state Rep. Ron Hood, and candidates who have never ran for office but who should enjoy support among Tea Party activists (The Chillicothe Gazette has a full rundown). When we are talking about this crowded a primary, as little as 15-20% could get you the nomination and all bets are off as to who could emerge as Space’s opponent.

Last is OH-13, which is the week’s big surprise as the GOP is only able to put Rep. Betty Sutton on its list because of a last-minute decision by auto dealer Tom Ganley, who dropped out of the Senate race to announce he’d run for the House. To be sure, this is a blue district that gave John Kerry and Barack Obama double-digits victories, and if Republicans defeat Sutton they are likely already on their way to a House majority. But Ganley should nonetheless be quite a headache for Democrats: He was willing to spend more than $1 million of his own fortune on the Senate race, money he’ll now use against Sutton, potentially forcing the DCCC to play in this district rather than devote those funds to the state’s many other vulnerable Democrats. A key question: Can Ganley survive the primary? A surprise can’t be ruled out i a 6-way field filled with political novices, but Ganley’s money should carry him through.

Democrats are targeting a seat of their own, OH-12. The filing deadline is all the more newsworthy here that Rep. Tiberi has been the subject of some speculation rumors, but we now know for sure he is seeking re-election. In the general election, he is sure to oppose Franklin County Commissioner Paula Brooks, who would have had far better chances in the previous two cycles but who we should nonetheless keep track of. Finally, there is OH-02, a staunchly conservative district the GOP has struggled in because of Rep. Jean Schmidt’s persona. But the Democratic state legislator the DCCC was touting dropped out in November, leaving the party in the hands of a trio of candidates: Surya Yalamanchili, a political novice whose claim to fame comes from a bout on Donald Trump’s The Apprentice, PaulDavid Krikorian, who got double-digits running as an independent in 2008, and Jim Parker.

That leaves us with 11 districts which will almost certainly not host competitive races.

Democrats Marcy Kaptur (OH-9), Dennis Kucinich (OH-10), Marcia Fudge (OH-11) and Tim Ryan (OH-17) should be safe. It should be noted that Kucinich didn’t draw a single Democratic opponent in OH-10 despite the fact that he had to face a few relatively competitive primaries in recent cycles. Furthermore, I have read that the GOP might look to contest Marcy Kaptur’s seat (but it would be a huge upset for former Food Town CEO Rich Iott or former Toledo Police Chief Jack Smith to defeat the longest-serving woman in Congress in a district that gave Obama 62%.

In addition, OH-06 has to be a disappointment for the GOP. This is a district that twice voted for George W. Bush and went for John McCain in 2008, albeit very narrowly; it’s also a district represented by a sophomore Democrat. And yet, the NRCC never made noise about challenging Rep. Charlie Wilson. As a result, the incumbent’s chief challenger is the man he already crushed in 2008 (62% to 33%), former Belmont County Sheriff Ohio Richard Stobbs. While repeat candidates are sometimes successful, it is difficult to go from a 29% defeat to a victory (even Nancy Boyda had not lost by quite that much in 2004), especially considering also made an unsuccessful run for this seat in 2006, this time losing in the GOP primary. This is one potentially tough district that Democrats should be able to hold.

Republican Reps. Michael Turner (OH-3), Jim Jordan (OH-4), Robert Latta (OH-5), Steve Austria (OH-7), John Boehner (OH-8) should be safe. All represent slightly-to-staunchly red districts, though OH-03 is competitive enough that Democrats should have a chance when Turner retires. Another Republican who looks safe despite the fact that John McCain just barely won his district is Rep. Steve LaTourette (OH-14); his main Democratic opponent is former appeals judge William O’Neill, who was already the party’s nominee in 2008. LaTourette lost by more than 20% that year, making it hard to see how he could lose to the same candidate under so much more favorable circumstances.

There were no surprises in Ohio’s statewide contest: Rob Portman and John Kasich are likely to coast to the GOP nominations, Ted Strickland will represent Democrats in the Governor’s race, and there were no major last-minute entrants in the Brunner-Fisher battle for the Democrats’ Senate nomination. That said, the last-minute entrance of two women, one of which has done work for Fisher, has led Brunner’s camp to accuse its rival of foul play.

Indiana: Uncertainty reigns

Indiana’s filling deadline was supposed to be met uneventfully, but Evan Bayh’s last-minute retirement announcement upended the landscape by forcing Democrats to figure out how to replace him. Yesterday’s deadline came and passed with no Democratic qualifying for the Senate ballot, which means a party committee will be able to choose a general election candidate after the May 4th primary results in a vacancy. Meanwhile, there will be 5 Republicans battling for the GOP nomination: former Senator Dan Coats, state Senator Marlin Stutzman, former Rep. John Hostettler, plumbing company owner Richard Behney and Don Bates Jr.

While all 5 of the state’s Democratic congressmen are running for re-election, one district could still open up if Baron Hill, Brad Ellsworth or Joe Donnelly are tapped to run for Senate, an additional headache for the DCCC to think about. All three Democrats filed for re-election, despite speculation that Ellsworth might not do so and put pressure on the party committee to give him the nod. The Republican fields, however, are locked in all three districts.

If Ellsworth does not move to the Senate race, he would be heavily favored to defend IN-8 as the GOP field is rather underwhelming. If Ellsworth withdraws before the primary, the Democratic nominee will be state Rep. Trent Van Haaften, the only other Democrat who filed (in coordination with Ellsworth). If Ellsworth withdraws after winning the primary, there will be a vacancy on the House ballot that the state party committee will be called to fill. While an open seat would be tough for the DCCC to defend, the fact that the GOP did not have time to recruit a top candidate will help Democrats; heart surgeon Larry Bucshon would be a credible Republican nominee with a good shot at winning, but other GOPers would have given the party better odds - not to mention Bucshon can’t be sure to win the 8-way primary!

If Hill does not move to the Senate race, he should face a top-tier race in IN-9 against whoever wins the GOP primary: Attorney Todd Young and former Rep. Mike Sodrel would both be strong general election challengers. If Democratic officials want to tap him for the Senate race, they’ll have him stay on the May 4th House ballot and withdraw after the primary to avoid having the nomination go to one of two little-known candidates. In IN-2, Rep. Joe Donnelly is the only Democrat to have filed, so for him to move to the Senate race would make for a fairly straightforward transition at the House level. Republicans are looking to contest this seat, with state Rep. Jackie Walorski and three other candidates seeking the nomination.

The six other districts are unlikely to change hands. Democratic Reps. Visclosky (IN-1) and Carson (IN-7) are safe, as are GOP Reps. Burton (IN-5) and Pence (IN-6). It is worth keeping an eye on IN-3, where Rep. Mark Souder is facing doctor Tom Hayhurst who has been attracting some buzz, but however unimpressive Souder’s hold on the seat has been Democrats aren’t in a position to win a district that voted for Bush by 37% in 2004 in this environment.

Finally, IN-4 is sure to host a highly competitive race - but only in the GOP primary. Just as we expected when Rep. Steve Buyer announced his retirement on January 29th, Democrats are not in a position to compete in a district that gave Bush a 39% victory in 2004 (McCain only won by 13%). On the other hand, a total of 11 candidates are seeking the Republican nod, a crowded field headlined by Secretary of State Todd Rokita, Greenwood Mayor Charles Henderson, state Senator Brandt Hershman and state Senator Mike Young.


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Dem candidates drop out in OH-02 and VA-10, but another releases competitive poll in FL-12

When Rep. Adam Putnam abruptly announced his retirement early in 2009, FL-12 did not vault at the top of the Democrats’ priority list: While it had only gone for John McCain by 1%, George W. Bush had prevailed by double-digits in both 2000 and 2004. Yet, Democrats started paying attention when Polk County Supervisor of Elections Laure Edwards announced her candidacy: Not only has won re-election in red-leaning Polk County since 2000, but she also served as a state representative for much of the 1990s.

Last week, Edwards sought to prove that the worsening political climate shouldn’t cause Democrats to give up on FL-12 by releasing an internal poll, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner: It shows Edwards leading former state Rep. Dennis Ross 46% to 42%.

This is an internal poll, so it should be taken with a grain of salt; in particular, there doesn’t seem to be a clear explanation as to why Ross was the only opponent tested or whether match-ups pitting Edwards against other Republicans who’ve declared their candidacy (for instance Polk County Commissioner Randy Wilkinson) yielded worse results that were not released. Yet, the poll suggests that Edwards will at the very least be competitive; if nothing else, it should help her draw national Democrats’ attention, perhaps getting the DCCC to commission a poll of its own and generally get more involved.

That FL-12 would be competitive makes sense. The district is described as hostile to Democrats based on the 2000 and 2004 results, and the 2008 tie is dismissed as due to exceptional turnout patterns that won’t hold in 2010. But I explained in October that FL-12 has gone through big demographic changes over the past decade that suggest Obama’s gains will be long-lasting rather than ephemeral: In 2000, 72% of FL-12’s residents were white while in 2008, 63% were white (we are talking about residents here, not voters, so this isn’t about turnout).

Two Democratic recruits drop out in Ohio and in Virginia

Despite OH-02’s red lean, Democrats have dreamed of taking it over ever since the controversial Jean Schmidt became the GOP’s flag-bearer. Yet, they’ve fallen short cycle after cycle - and it looks like Schmidt might not even face that tough a general election this time. State Rep. Todd Book, whose entry a few months ago was celebrated by Democrats, is now withdrawing from the race. Sure, the race always looked tough for the party to pull off: In a district that gave John McCain 59%, how could they succeed in 2010 if they failed in 2006 and 2008? But Book is term-limited out of the state House in 2010, so it’s not like he was giving up his legislative seat for a run against Schmidt.

The Democratic primary is now in the hands of David Krikorian, who received 18% in 2008 as an independent. Whether or not the campaign is tight (Krikorian’s impressive showing as an independent suggests he has an audience in the district), it should be explosive since Schmidt and Krikorian have a lot of history: The two have faced off in court last summer after Schmidt sued Krikorian after the latter charged that she had received “blood money” in exchange for denying the Armenian Genocide.

Lawyer Patrick Lewis, the candidate who dropped out of VA-10, was not as highly touted by national Democrats but his withdrawal is no less frustrating: When the cycle started, the party had hopes for a Northern Virginia district that voted for Obama by 7% after giving Bush double-digit victories. Yet, much of it was predicated on Wolf retiring (he is 70). That’s apparently not happening, and the GOP should hold on to VA-10 next year.

… while GOP lands one in NJ-03

Rep. John Adler represents a swing district (NJ-03 voted for Obama by 5% in 2008, for Bush by only 2% in 2004) but he at times behaves like it’s staunchly conservative territory; 2 weeks ago, he was one of only 8 Democrats representing Obama districts to vote against the health-care bill, and one of 6 to do so from the right. Starting this week, he will at least be able to point out he’s facing a credible opponent: Jon Runyan, who used to play for the Philadelphia Eagles, has informed local GOP leaders he’s running for Congress.

The twist: Runyan is first going back to football. Just this week, he signed on with the San Diego Chargers, which means that he will not be able to engage in political activities until the NFL season is over. Sure, the season will end early enough that he should have time to prepare for the GOP’s June primary but this is still a bizarre decision: Runyan has no political experience, has never ran for office and will presumably need to brush up his hold on issues and his campaign skills before launching himself in a race. Heath Shuler, who transitioned from NFL quarterback to Congress, did not do so in a matter of weeks.

While the burden is on Runyan to prove he can appeal to voters in a political sense, he is the sort of candidate - big name, rugged looks - that national parties are often attracted to. (In 2006, The Washington Post devoted an incomprehensibly long article to the good looks of top Democratic recruits, all of them male.) That should ensure that the NRCC pays a lot of attention to his campaign, which will help him avoid rookie mistakes, target the incumbent and access the party’s fundraising network. Adler-Runyan is a race we’ll hear about again.


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The DCCC and NRCC’s priority lists

In an interview with the National Journal’s Congress Daily (via SSP), the DCCC’s executive director and the NRCC’s political director listed what they saw as their party’s 5-6 top pickup opportunities, each adding a number of promising second tier races.

Of course, these lists correspond to nothing tangible. Neither men promised to pour in money in these districts, nor did they commit to treating these races as competitive come the summer of 2010, nor did they suggest that other contests were not worth their time. And yet, it is certainly worth taking a look at their responses, as they provide us an early outline of where the 2010 midterms will be fought.

Target DCCC rating CD rating
DE-AL: Mike Castle Tier 1 Toss-up
FL-10: Bill Young Tier 1 Lean retention
LA-02: Ann Cao Tier 1 Toss-up
MI-11: Thad McCotter Tier 1 Lean retention
PA-06: Jim Gerlach Tier 1 Toss-up
MN-06: Michelle Bachmann Tier 2 Lean retention
OH-02: Jean Schmidt Tier 2 Likely retention
TX-10: Michael McCaul Tier 2 Likely retention

And the NRCC’s target list:

Target NRCC rating CD rating
ID-01: Walt Minnick Tier 1 Toss-up
MD-01: Frank Kratovil Tier 1 Toss-up
NH-01: Carol Shea-Porter Tier 1 Lean retention
OH-01: Steve Driehaus Tier 1 Lean retention
VA-02: Glenn Nye Tier 1 Lean retention
VA-05: Tom Perriello Tier 1 Toss-up
AL-02: Bobby Bright Tier 2 Toss-up
AL-05: Parker Griffith Tier 2 Lean retention
CO-04: Betsy Markey Tier 2 Toss-up
FL-08: Alan Grayson Tier 2 Lean retention
FL-24: Suzanne Kosmas Tier 2 Lean retention
MS-01: Travis Childers Tier 2 Lean retention
OH-15: Mary Jo Kilroy Tier 2 Lean retention

The first thing we can’t help but notice is that the NRCC’s list is longer, with 7 “tier 2″ races compared to 4 for the DCCC. That might be a trivial point, but it also speaks to a simple fact: After two cycles in which they picked up most low-hanging fruits, Democrats now have far more obviously vulnerable seats to defend than Republicans. (In my ratings, 27 Dem-held seats are categorized as “toss-up” or “lean retention,” compared to 18 GOP-held seats.)

The second striking fact is that the DCCC’s list, albeit shorter, contains more surprises than the NRCC’s. Democrats are really that optimistic about OH-02 and TX-10? Sure, Schmidt is strikingly unpopular and McCaul has drawn a very well-funded opponent, but they also hold conservative districts and decisively won competitive races in the tough 2008 environment. Sure, neither is safe, but it’s certainly a stretch to list them in the top 8 pickup opportunities.

It’s not even like the DCCC has an interest in hyping its commitment to unseating McCaul: They’ve already landed a top contender, so they don’t need to attract another one. Recruitment needs might account for the inclusion of another district, however: I am not surprised that MI-11 is on the list but I don’t think it is correct to put it this high since Democrats are experiencing a dreadful time landing a challenger to the obviously vulnerable McCotter.

By contrast, no district on the GOP’s list is a surprise inclusion. Republicans don’t have to think creatively but go after any Democrat who recently picked-up a swing district: All 12 of these districts are occupied by first or second-term Democrats - so all have been lost by the GOP in the past two cycles. That tells you all you need to know about how differently the two parties’ different approaches to the midterms.

The only district that might be worth discussing individually is MS-01: In such a conservative district, there is no doubt that Childers is vulnerable but the Democrat won his first re-election race with enough brio that it remained to be seen whether Republicans would go all-out against him in 2010. His inclusion could thus be the one newsworthy item of this list, as it takes care of any suspicion we might have had that the NRCC would give Childers a pass.

The explanation of this differential in surprises might very well be the same as the one for the list’s different lengths - Democrats have less obvious targets, so the DCCC gets to think more creatively. But that does not account for the fact that their list is missing many seats that I would say are better targets than MI-11, OH-02 and TX-10. In fact, 3 of the 6 GOP-held seats that I listed as toss-ups in my ratings are not on this list: AK-AL, IL-10 and WA-08! Also missing are any of the 8 ripe California district (some of which, like CA-03, are more promising than others), FL-25 or MN-03.

The NRCC’s list also contains a few omissions. First, while it is heavy on races from Florida, Virginia and Ohio races, the absence of any district from Pennsylvania (and, to a lesser extent, New Mexico and New York) is striking considering the long list of vulnerable seats in the Keystone State: PA-03, PA-04, PA-10 and PA-11 will all be 2010 battlegrounds.

Second, the NRCC’s most glaring omission is ID-01, a heavily red seat that looks to be the GOP’s best shot at a pick-up. This week, Republicans landed a top recruit: state House majority leader Ken Roberts announced he challenge Minnick. This is enough to put the incumbent in a very difficult position: The district is conservative enough that, as long as Republicans nominate a credible candidate who isn’t weighed down by scandal, they will be favored to pick-up the seat. (As far as I can tell, Roberts is the first high-profile challenger to jump in the race, though others like Attorney General Lawrence Wasden are also considering doing so.)

Update: As Cristinuity points out in the comments, ID-01 is included - so no need to read anything into that omission. That only reinforces the basic situation: Minnick is in trouble,  even more so now that Roberts is in.


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House: GOP eyes blue districts, Reichert gets first opponent

The DCCC conquered more than 50 GOP-held seats over the past two cycles, and a significant number of red-leaning districts are represented by Democratic incumbents. We were thus certainly not expecting the GOP to start eying heavily blue districts - but that is exactly what is happening in at least two races.

In HI-01, Rep. Neil Abercrombie is widely expected to run in the open gubernatorial race, sparking an open seat race for his House seat. And while the Hawaii-born Obama crushed McCain in 2008 (70% to 28%), the margin was much closer in 2004: Kerry only prevailed 53% to 47%. In short: Democrats would be heavily favored to keep an open seat, but the right Republican could give the DCCC some heartache.

The GOP believes it has found its ideal candidate: Honolulu city Councilman Charles Djou started raising money for a House race in October 2007, and he has the support of state Republicans, including the Governor. And last week, he met with NRCC officials, who are apparently thrilled enough by Djou’s candidacy that they are already going after Abercrombie with robocalls.

(The NRCC’s willingness to start contesting the seat before Abercrombie announces a gubernatorial run suggests some confidence that Djou could be competitive even if HI-01 did not feature an open race. This looks like wishful thinking: HI-01 is too Democratic a district for the GOP to have a shot at defeating an incumbent, especially an incumbent who is embroiled in no scandal.)

An even unlikelier site for a GOP takeover is RI-01, a heavily Democratic district represented by Patrick Kennedy. Obama won the district 65% to 33%, slightly better than Kerry, who had received 62% of the vote. Kennedy is showing no indication that he will retire, making him the heavy favorite to win re-election.

Yet, Republicans insist that Kennedy’s approval rating is low enough (a recent poll pins it at 38%) that they could at least make his life difficult. The state GOP believes it has found a solution: In response to his party’s insistence, State Rep. John Loughlin, who served in the Army Reserve. Loughlin is telling The Hill that he could jump in the race in the weeks ahead.

Given how easily Kennedy dispatched his past opponents, it is hard to see what more Loughlin could bring to the table. Republicans might be rooting for him to jump in, but Democrats have little to worry about. A Loughlin candidacy would be a GOP coup only by the low standards of Rhode Island’s Republican Party.

Over the past few days, we have also gotten word that two candidates have jumped in House races as Democrats.

In WA-08, Republican Rep. Reichert is still standing in his Democratic district (Obama won 57% to 42%) despite facing two very tough challenges from Darcy Burner. Will the DCCC make him a top-tier target again in 2010, or will Reichert get a pass based on his ability to win a blue district in two overwhelmingly Democratic cycles?

The answer to that question should depend on the quality of Democratic recruitment. This week, Suzan DelBene jumped in the race. Like Burner, DelBene has worked as an executive at Microsoft, where she served as the Corporate Vice President for Mobile Communications. As a businesswoman, she has no political experience. (”I am not a career politician — my focus has always been on creating opportunity,” DelBene wrote in her candidacy statement).

Those who followed the two Reichert-Burner match-ups will recognize that DelBene’s profile problem: the incumbent was very successful in portraying Burner as a political novice who lacked the necessary experience to serve as congresswoman. Reichert is able to hold on to his district because he has developed an image of competence and experience; can DelBerne succeed at undermining that?

Meanwhile, in OH-02, David Krikorian, who got nearly 10% in 2008 as an independent candidate, has announced that he will join the Democratic Party and seek the nomination to challenge Rep. Jean Schmidt. “After careful consideration of both political parties and another independent run, the decision became obvious, the Democratic Party is the party of America today,” Krikorian wrote.

OH-02 might be a heavily Republican district, but Schmidt’s unpopularity has made her a top Democratic target. That said, Schmidt has now won three tough battles, and she is unlikely to face as tough an environment in 2010 (and beyond). It remains to be seen whether any Democrat can mount a competitive run - let alone Krikorian, who has too conservative a profile to appeal to the district’s Democratic base.


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NRCC’s new expenditures boost defense, play some offense

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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DCCC goes on one of its last spending sprees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Spending, spending, spending (and some cutbacks)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Poll watch: Ohio for Obama, tight in Maine and Colorado, confusion in Minnesota polling

Only a few surveys have been released this week-end, continuing the surprising trend of a decline in the number of polls this week. States from which we had constant updates just 10 days ago are now being ignored by pollsters - Colorado, for instance, where a new Mason Dixon is only the second to be released over the past 10 days. On to the full roundup of the day’s polls:

  • Obama maintains his advantage in the day’s tracking polls: He leads by 48% to 41% in Diego Hotline, 51% to 44% in Rasmussen, 50% to 43% in Gallup and 52% to 40% in Research 2000. The best news for him is surely that he tops 50% in three out of the four trackings.
  • Obama leads 51% to 46% in a Rasmussen poll of Maine. He led by 4% last month. There is no breakdown by district, though a 5% statewide lead confirms Obama is in danger of losing ME-02.
  • Obama leads 55% to 37% in a Star Tribune poll of Minnesota. The candidates were tied at 45% in mid-September.
  • The candidates are tied at 44% in a Mason Dixon poll of Colorado. Barr gets 4%. A month ago, Obama led by 3%. The poll was conducted last Monday through last Wednesday.
  • Obama leads 49% to 42% in a Columbus Dispatch poll of Ohio. However, this is a mail-in poll, and responses arrived starting on September 24th - before the first presidential debate.
  • Obama leads 50% to 40% in Morning Call’s tracking poll from Pennsylvania. He led by 12% in yesterday’s tracking, which was his largest lead yet.

Colorado is a disappointing result for Democrats as Obama seemed to be inching ahead in the state in the last week of September. (The most recent Rasmussen poll also found the race tightening.) Another worrisome news for Obama comes from a new poll of Maine, the third in a row to find the race within 5%. If McCain can stay in that margin, he would have a shot at picking-up ME-02, whose electoral vote he is now coveting. Kerry performed 4% better statewide than in ME-02.

But the day’s most remarkable numbers come no doubt from Minnesota, which has easily become the state with the biggest confusion in polling results. Just a few days ago, SUSA found McCain inching ahead for the first time since March and Coleman posting a 10% lead; today, the Star Tribune found Obama jumping to an 18% lead and Franken ahead by 9%. It is rare to find such a big gap between polls (only in North Carolina have we seen such differences). The fact that there is as big a gap (19%) between the Senate match-ups suggests that the discrepancy between the two polls is due to a difference in the sample’s make-up, but that is not necessarily due to a mistake by one of the pollster’s - part of it could be caused by different assumptions and turnout models.

While SUSA and the Star Tribune results are both extremes of the spectrum of Minnesota results, both have other polls supporting their conclusions: Quinnipiac recently found the race within the margin of error, while CNN/Time had Obama leading by double-digits. Keep in mind also that Minnesota is the only state in which McCain is outspending Obama.

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

  • Al Franken leads 43% to 34% in a Star Tribune poll of Minnesota’s Senate race. The Independent Party’s Barkley gets 18%.
  • Mark Udall leads 43% to 38% in a Mason Dixon poll of Colorado’s Senate race. He led by 10% last month.
  • GOP Rep. Jeanne Schmidt leads 46% to 39% in a Research 2000 poll of OH-02. (Bush received 64% to Kerry’s 36% of the vote in 2004, but McCain only leads 54% to 41% in this survey. A recent SUSA poll found the presidential race 58% to 39% here, also a Democratic improvement over 2004.)

The situation in Minnesota’s Senate race is similar to that of the presidential contest. The numbers are all over the place, and Barkley’s candidacy obviously complicates the picture. Who is he drawing votes from, and how high could he go? Once voters realize that Barkley could have a shot at winning, more could migrate his way. Meanwhile, Udall has still not put the race away in Colorado, something Democrats were expecting him to do months - even a year - ago.

But the most disappointing result for Democrats surely comes from NJ-07, a district many were once expecting to win relatively easily but Linda Stender have been unable to build a lead, hurt by her high negatives from the 2006 campaign. One factor that could help Democrats is that this is one district in which their financial advantage could have a huge impact, and the fact that this is a blue-trending district (Obama leads McCain by 1% in this poll, and Bush won the district by 6%) could mean that the 18% of undecided voters might be more persuadable to vote Democratic.


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Dems awake to good polls: Obama leads in CO, MI, ties NC; strong numbers for Ohio Dems

It’s early in the morning, but we already have enough survey data for an entire polling thread! Particularly noteworthy are Quinnipiac’s latest release from four battleground states (CO, MI, MN and WI, which all favor Obama), and SUSA’s polling data from four highly competitive House districts in Ohio - especially since SUSA has also released presidential match-ups for three out of those four districts (there again finding good news for Obama).

Overall, this polling roundup brings good news to Democrats, as Obama leads in a number of swing states, posts yet another outside-of-the-MoE Michigan lead, and get some encouraging results from down-the-ballot races as well.

Note that Quinnipiac’s polls are somewhat dated and taken over an entire week (as are most of Quinnipiac’s surveys); they were in the field from the 14th to the 21st - so throughout the financial crisis and its immediate aftermath. But they have a very large sample (more than 1,300 likely voter in each state) and a relatively small margin of error (under 3%). That said, here’s the full roundup of morning’s polls:

  • Obama leads 49% to 45% in a Quinnipiac poll of Colorado. He trailed by 1% in August and 2% in July; Obama’s edge is outside of the MoE. Obama gets 68% of Hispanics, McCain leads by 7% among whites.
  • Obama leads 48% to 44% in a Quinnipiac poll of Michigan. The margin is the same as late July and is outside of the MoE. 58% of voters say the economy is the most important issue, and respondents think Obama understands that topic better 50% to 38%.
  • Obama leads 47% to 45% in a Quinnipiac poll of Minnesota, the same margin as in late July.
  • Obama leads 49% to 42% in a Quinnipiac poll of Wisconsin. He led by 11% in late July, but 7% is most definitely on the larger size of recent results.
  • Obama leads 47% to 45% in a Mason Dixon poll of Florida. That’s well within the poll’s MoE. Even more encouraging for Obama: he leads by 6% in the Tampa region.
  • The candidates are tied at 45% in a Civitas poll of North Carolina. Two weeks ago, McCain led by 3%; this is in fact the first time McCain has not led in a Civitas poll of this state.
  • Finally, SUSA released House polls from four Ohio districts. In three of them, they also polled the presidential race - and found significant improvements for Obama over Kerry’s performance in each. In OH-01, Bush won 51% to 49% in 2004 (his statewide margin); Obama leads 52% to 43%. In OH-02, Bush led 64% to 36% of the vote in 2004; McCain leads 58% to 39%. In OH-16, Bush won 54% to 46%; McCain leads 48% to 46%. Those shifts would put Obama in a strong position in the statewide race.

Let’s focus in more carefully on two states. First, North Carolina, where the race looks to be tightening indeed: this is the second poll in three days (after PPP’s poll) to find the race tied in the Tar Heel state - something that had not happened since one April survey that looked like an outlier. Second, Michigan: This is the third poll in a row (after Marist and Rasmussen) to find Obama’s lead outside of the margin of error, which should be a huge relief for the Democrat. We will be in a position to talk more about Colorado once PPP releases their poll later today.

Meanwhile, in down-the-ballot polls:

  • In OH-01, Rep. Chabot leads Democratic challenger Steve Driehaus 46% to 44% in a SUSA poll. Black turnout will be key to deciding this race.
  • In OH-02, Rep. Schmidt leads Democratic challenger Wulsin 48% to 40% in a SUSA poll.
  • In OH-15, Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy leads 47% to 42% against Steve Stivers in a SUSA poll. Kilroy led by 3% in early August.
  • In OH-16, Democrat John Boccieri leads 49% to 41% against Kirk Schuring in a SUSA poll. Schuring’s favorability rating is far lower, so perhaps the DCCC’s ads are functioning.
  • Elizabeth Dole leads Kay Hagan 43% to 41% in a Civitas poll of North Carolina’s Senate race. Before leaners are included, Hagan was up 41% to 40%.
  • Mark Udall leads 48% to 40% in a Quinnipiac poll of Colorado’s Senate race. The contest was tied in July.
  • Al Franken has gained ground but trails 49% to 42% in Quinnipiac’s poll of Minnesota’s Senate race. Coleman led by 15% in July.
  • A stunning internal Democratic poll of ID-01 has Walt Minnick leading GOP Rep. Bill Sali 43% to 38%. One possible problem in the poll is that it is convincing those final 19% of undecided that is bound to be the most difficult for a Democratic candidate in a staunchly conservative district.

OH-15 and OH-16 are among the highest priorities for House Democrats, as demonstrated by the hundreds of thousands the DCCC is already spending in these districts. To be fair to Republicans, many expected them to be in a much worse position in both of these open seats by this time, and the fact that they have managed to keep OH-15 competitive in particular is a testament to Mary Jo Kilroy’s struggles. Kilroy was favored to beat the incumbent in 2006 but narrowly lost, and she now has to battle the high unfavorables that she has left over from that race. OH-01 is a also a top Democratic target (and another narrow 2006 loss), though that contest has always been expected to be tight.

In Senate race, Civitas’s North Carolina numbers are a reminder that Dole still has some life in her but also further confirmation of Hagan’s momentum. Quinnipiac has Coleman leading by a larger margin than other surveys (SUSA, Rasmussen, Minnesota Public Radio) have shown lately, but Quinnipiac doesn’t appear to have included third-party candidate Dean Barkley. As for Colorado, the race has been static for more than a year: Udall is in the lead, but he has not closed the deal


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Down-ballot: DCCC moves to expand map and to block Jack Davis, the AMA turns against Senate Republicans

With more than $40 million in the bank, the DCCC is not ruining itself by airing radio ads in 13 Republican-held districts to tie the GOP incumbents to big oil. But the list of districts Democrats have chosen to target is instructive of the depth of their offensive:

  • Expected seats: IL-06 (Rep. Roskam), NC-08 (Rep. Hayes), OH-01 (Rep. Chabot), OH-02 (Rep. Schmidt), VA-02 (Rep. Drake)
  • Third-tier at best: NJ-05 (Rep. Garrett), PA-03 (Rep. English), PA-06 (Rep. Gerlach), PA-15 (Rep. Dent), WV-02 (Rep. Capito)
  • Even less expected: CA-50 (Rep. Bilbray), NC-10 (Rep. McHenry), VA-05 (Rep. Goode)

This is not the list of 13 races you would expect Democrats to target. The inclusion of CA-50, for instance, is surprising as no one has been talking much about that race over the past few years. The purpose of this buy, then, is obvious: the DCCC wants to test the vulnerability of Republican incumbents, look at their reaction and prepare to poll their weakness in the coming weeks. The fact that it is a cheaper radio buy confirms that it does not commit Democrats to spend a lot of funds, but it reflects their determination to expand the map and put as many GOP incumbents as possible in danger. Note that however cheap this buy is, the NRCC does not have the luxury to spend money on non-essential expenses like these.

The ad uses a President Bush impersenator that pretends to be calling the office of these congressmen to thank them for their support for Big Oil. The full script is available here. Here is just the part read by the Bush impersenator, excerpted from the ad running against Patrick McHenry:

“Pattie…“W” here.

“Wanted to thank you for continuing to support the Big Oil Energy Agenda.

“‘Preciate you voting to keep giving billions in tax breaks to the big oil companies.

“Sure, gasoline is over four bucks a gallon and the oil companies are making record profits, but what’s good for Big Oil is good for America, right?

“I guess that’s why they call us the Grand OIL Party. Heh, heh, heh.

“Seriously, Patrick, I know I can always count on you.

“Gotta go. Bye now.

The fact that the ad is so directly targeted at incumbents with voting records explains why the most obvious seats that Democrats are contesting are not on this list. After all, the most vulnerable GOP-held districts are open seats. Another race in which Democrats are trying to tie the incumbent to the unpopular president is Mississippi’s Senate race — hardly a state in which you would expect Democrats to feel confident making the election national! Bush will fundraise for endangered Sen. Wicker, and Democrats are using the opportunity to tie Wicker and McCain to the GOP brand. The party’s statement read:

A high-dollar political fundraiser headlined by … Bush proves that electing Roger Wicker as U.S. senator and John McCain as president means nothing more than a third Bush term and a continuation of failed Bush policies.

Remember that in March Republicans attempted to nationalize the special election in MS-01 by tying Travis Childers to Barack Obama. Two months later, Democrats are comfortable giving the GOP a taste of their own medecine in one of the reddest states in the country.

Meanwhile, in NY-26, the DCCC is taking sides in the contested primary between Jon Powers and Jack Davis, the party’s 2006 candidate. As you might remember, Davis grabbed headlines last week when he won his Supreme Court case to ban the millionaire’s amendment in an effort to spend millions of his own money without being “discriminated against” and without any impediment to his attempts to suffocate Powers under massive amounts of his personal wealth. I am not one to advocate for the national parties to get too involved in primaries, but the DCCC thankfully decided to jump in on Powers’s behalf by adding him to their Red to Blue program before the primary. Powers will thus benefit from some of the DCCC’s funds and will be able to match Davis — almost as important as his beating the Republican.

Finally, more bad news for the GOP comes from news that the American Medical Association, a longtime Republican ally, is now turning against Republican Senators for voting against a bill to halt cuts in Medicare reimbursements. The bill failed by only one vote (after the House approved it 355-59), and a number of GOP Senators who voted against it are now being targeted by Democrats and by the AMA. Among those who are up for re-election, we find Sens. Cornyn (TX), Sununu (NH), Wicker (MS), Cochran, Enzi and Barrasso. The first three are vulnerable this fall, and the fact that the AMA has gone up with what it is calling a “significant” buy should worry these incumbent Senators. CQ notes that Mississippi’s Ronnie Musgrove has been heavily campaigning on this issue, and New Hampshire is also a small enough state that third-party ad buys can impact the election.



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

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

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

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

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

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