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


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Senate ratings changes: Dems catch a break in California, give it right back in West Virginia

6 rating changes at the Senate level - and all but one favors the GOP. Democrats have caught a major break as Barbara Boxer has created some breathing room in California, but that doesn’t mean they should feel much comfort since West Virginia has gone the opposite way, unexpectedly entering toss-up status.

Keep in mind that Governor Joe Manchin voluntarily scheduled this special election this November when it was supposed to be held in 2012; and he did this knowing just how rough the political environment would be for his party. He thought his popularity would get him through, but enough West Virginia voters seem to prioritize turning Congress Republican that all bets are now off in a state that has turned sharply against Democrats over the past decade.

Meanwhile, Democratic hopes of picking-up a GOP-held Senate seat continue to fade, with Missouri, Ohio and North Carolina all shifting one column towards Republicans.

And as if the landscape wasn’t bad enough for Democrats, I was tempted to downgrade their chances in several more races (Wisconsin, Connecticut, New Hampshire) rather than upgrading them anywhere.

Safe GOP Likely GOP Lean GOP Toss-up Lean Dem Likely Dem Safe Dem
Dem-held ND AR IN
PA
CO
IL
NV
WI
WV
CA
CT
WA
DE
NY-B
HI
MD

NY-A
OR
VT
GOP-held AL
AZ
GA
IA
KS
ID
OK
SC
SD
UT
AK
LA
NC
OH
FL
KY
MO
NH

This gets us to the following breakdown:

  • Safe Democratic: 45 (-1)
  • Safe/Likely Democratic: 47 (-1)
  • Safe/Likely/Lean Democratic: 50
  • Toss-ups: 6 (-1)
  • Safe/Likely/Lean Republican: 44 (+1)
  • Safe/Likely Republican: 39 (+2)
  • Safe Republican: 34

California, toss-up to lean Democratic: This is one of the only statewide races in the country that has been trending towards Democrats over the past few weeks - and what a relief for Democrats. Sure, the whack-the-mole game that the Senate landscape has become (hat-tip to Swing State Project for suggesting that metaphor) means that Barbara Boxer’s improving fortunes don’t cement her party’s majority since the state has been replaced by West Virginia as the site of a potential upset, but Democrats will get any positive development they can get - and there is no doubt Boxer has been gaining: Rasmussen and SUSA have both shown her bouncing back from a deficit to take a substantial lead, while PPP, CNN/Time, the Field Poll and the Los Angeles Times have her up between 6% and 9%. CNN/Time even has her leading by 19% among registered voters!

Add to that the fact that the NRSC has canceled the time it had reserved on California airwaves in the final week before the election, and Carly Fiorina sure isn’t feeling the momentum. (On a more positive note for the GOP, that’s more airtime for Meg Whitman to saturate.) The race remains competitive, however; Boxer has been outspending Fiorina on the airwaves, so we’ll have to see what happens once (if?) the Republican manages to hit back. Also, the turnout gap seems less dramatic in California than elsewhere but any improvement in the GOP’s fortunes could be fatal to the 3-term incumbent.

Missouri, toss-up to lean Republican: I should have put this race in the lean Republican column weeks ago, but Robin Carnahan has looked like a strong enough candidate all year that I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt for a while longer. After all, Roy Blunt seems in many ways to be the type of candidate voters are looking to oust this year - longtime incumbent, party leadership, bailout architect, not to mention the father of an unpopular former Governor - but his party affiliation is enough to give him a narrow but consistent lead. Carnahan remains within striking distance, but she is acting too defensively for now.

New York, safe Democratic to likely Democratic: Joe DioGuardi might be a former representative, but his entry wasn’t a recruitment coup for Republicans who were long hoping for Rudy Giuliani. Still, New York’s suburbs look so intent on punishing Democrats that statewide upsets can no longer be ruled out. Polls have shown conflicting results in this race; Marist and Siena have recently come out with big Gillibrand leads, Rasmussen has shown her advantage cut in half to a 10% lead; and Quinnipiac and SUSA claim she is only leading up 6% and 1%, respectively. Call it likely Democratic for now, but the race could still shift towards the GOP.

North Carolina, lean Republican to likely Republican: In 2008, Richard Burr would probably have been a goner. Few voters seem to feel affection for him and his poll numbers have long been remarkably low. But Democrats are having trouble enough winning even their safest seats of the year to have much hope of ousting an incumbent in a state that, even in the friendliest of years, is no better than swing. And if that’s not enough, the DSCC sent clear and loud signals it puts no trust in Elaine Marshall from the day she announced her candidacy. That attitude was unexplainable since Marshall was polling competitively and since she always looked like the party nominee (sure, don’t give her support but at least don’t make it clear you think she’ll lose) and it undermined her bid: Why would the press and party donors take Marshall seriously if her national party isn’t? Any chance Democrats had of taking advantage of Burr’s massive vulnerability was destroyed with the DSCC’s behavior.

Ohio, lean Republican to likely Republican: One of Democrats’ top pick-up opportunities just a year ago, Ohio’s Senate race long resisted the GOP trend we were seeing in other races; at a time Blanche Lincoln, Robin Carnahan and Harry Reid were already dipping, Lee Fisher remained on top of Rob Portman. But Ohio has turned hard against Democrats - and the party is bound to feel the consequences in an open seat race: Democrats were hoping to use Portman’s close association to George W. Bush to their advantage, but Portman looks and acts too much like a generic Republican for him not to benefit from the Midwest’s shift to the GOP. This contest is way over-polled; many surveys have been released over the past two weeks with Portman up double-digits.

West Virginia, likely Democratic to toss-up: In a week full of bad news for Democrats, the worst is undoubtedly West Virginia’s sudden entry in the ranks of competitive Senate races. Remember that the state party chose to hold this election this year rather than in 2012, under the belief that Governor Joe Manchin is popular now and would stand a good chance at being elected. With West Virginia voters clearly turned against Democrats, that is now looking like a disastrous calculation. It’s not just that PPP and Rasmussen suddenly released polls showing wealthy Republican nominee Joe Raese narrowly ahead leading, but there’s also clear indication that the party’s internal information points to a close race: The NRSC just poured in $1,2 million in a 2-week ad campaign, something they would not have done if they weren’t confident this is a winnable race.


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Poll watch: Democrats are strong in IL, have a shot in SD; Castle and Burr dominate

I wouldn’t go as far as to describe this week’s polling round-up as generally good for Democrats; after all, numerous of their House incumbents look vulnerable, Rob Portman retains a small lead in Ohio, Castle dominates, Richard Burr is up by double-digits and Pete Domenici is closer to Diane Denish than New Mexico Democrats would like. Yet, there is plenty for the party to point to as evidence that they are managing to stay afloat and that the GOP still has a lot of work to do to ensure they’ll benefit from as big a red wave as they’re hoping to. In particular, Research 2000’s Illinois poll and Quinnipiac’s Ohio survey find Democrats Alexi Giannoulias, Pat Quinn and Ted Strickland in stronger positions than conventional wisdom dictates; Democrats look like they have an unexpectedly credible shot at South Dakota’s governorship; and Rep. Harry Teague is in a far more competitive position than you would expect given that he is often described as one of November’s surest Democratic losers (2 polls have him within the MoE against former Rep. Steve Pearce).

House

New Mexico: It’s rare enough to have one House survey a week that PPP’s decision to test all three of New Mexico’s House races was a one of the week’s treats. The results are encouraging for both parties, though the most poll’s most surprising finding will delight the NRCC: Rep. Ben Lujan, who represents a district Obama won by 23% and who I had never heard described as competitive, leads his two Republican challengers by decidedly underwhelming margins: 42% to 36% against Tom Mullins, 40% to 32% against Adam Kokesh. That’s not to say he will lose, nor that the race will be competitive come the fall, but it does speak to the probability that a number of Democratic districts that are now on no one’s radar screen should find themselves vulnerable in the campaign’s final stretch (see what happened to the GOP in 2006). Interestingly, Rep. Martin Heinrich, a more obvious target since he is a freshman, leads Jon Barela by a somewhat more solid 45% to 36%.

But the more interesting race is happening NM-02, which is not only the state’s most conservative seat (it went for Bush by 17%) but former Rep. Steve Pearce is running for his old seat after running for Governor in 2008. This has led many to think Rep. Teague is one of the fall’s surest losers, which makes Pearce’s 43% to 41% lead seem like it should be a relief for Democrats as it certainly shows Teague is far from a sure loser. (In particular, consider that the traditional rules about how a challenger topping an incumbent in an early poll is clearly favored does not apply here since Pearce is probably better-known than the incumbent.) On the other hand, the poll should not be spun as bad news for the GOP: The bottom-line is that NM-02 is one of the party’s top pick-up opportunities indeed. In fact, Pearce released an internal poll last week showing himself leading 48% to 44%.

SD-AL: Stephanie Herseth Sandlin remains on top of her Republican opponents in a new Rasmussen poll, but Secretary of State Chris Nelson is within striking distance since he holds the incumbent Democrat under 50% and within single-digit: She leads 45% to 38%. Herseth-Sandlin is far stronger against Kristi Noem (49% to 34%) and against state Rep Blake Curd (51% to 33%), which certainly suggests she is in a far stronger position than many of her fellow Democrats. As the poll’s gubernatorial numbers also speak to (see below), South Dakotans don’t look committed to ushering in GOP rule.

Senate

Ohio: Democrats might be losing ground in Senate races left and right, but they remain in striking distance of picking-up Ohio’s open seat according to Quinnipiac’s new poll. Republican Rob Portman is up within the margin of error (40-37) against Democrat Lee Fisher and he leads 40-35 against Jennifer Brunner. These margins are similar to those Quinnipiac found back in November, though it should be said that both Democratic candidates spent much of 2009 crushing Portman by double-digits - an advantage that was erased as the electorate soured on the the party in the latter half of the year. Despite their prominent stature, all three candidates have low name recognition so the next few months could be crucial - starting with the run-up to the Democratic primary.

Florida: Rasmussen found more evidence of Charlie Crist’s collapse this week by showing Marco Rubio crushing him 54% to 36% - an unthinkable result just a few months ago that is now already coming to be expected; the pollster also confirms that Crist’s decline is due to his rising unpopularity among the electorate-at-large and not just among Republicans, since his once impressive approval rating is now down to 52-45. In the general election, both men lead Kendrick Meek by large margins: Crist is up 48-32, Rubio is up 51-31. But is it time to start testing 3-way match-ups with Crist as an independent?

Delaware: For once, Rasmussen and Research 2000 have similar results! The former shows Republican Rep. Mike Castle in control 53% to 32% (though the margin has shrunk by 7% since January) while the latter has him leading 53% to 35%. That does little to change the race’s “likely Republican” rating (especially when we consider Castle’s formidable 65/30 and 65/32 favorability ratings) but given the two candidates’ chances of stature the trendline also confirms it is too early for Democrats to give up.

North Carolina: Rasmussen released the most favorable poll Richard Burr is gotten in quite a while - far more favorable, in fact, than the survey PPP released last week. Not only does the Republican senator have large leads, but he also reaches 50%: He’s up 50-34 against Elaine Marshall and 51-29 against Cal Cunningham. Of course, Democrats long ago realized defeating Burr is a top proposition in this environment, but these numbers are nonetheless ugly for the party. On the other hand, an Elon University poll finds that only 24% of North Carolinians think Burr deserves re-election, versus 51% who think he should be replaced.

Pennsylvania: Franklin & Marshall sends some very ugly numbers Democrats’ way, though the bizarrely high number of undecided makes it hard to do much else than point to the wide disparity between the match-ups among registered voters and among likely voters. In the former group, Arlen Specter leads Pat Toomey 33% to 29% while Joe Sestak is only 3% behind (25-22); in the latter group, Toomey crushes both Democrats - 44-34 against Specter, 38-20 against Sestak. Could there be clearer signs of the turnout gap that’s threatening to submerge Democrats this fall?

Governor

Illinois/Ohio: I mentioned Quinnipiac and Research 2000’s polls finding Democratic Governor Pat Quinn and Ted Strickland in the lead in an earlier post, but the results are counter-intuitive enough that they bear repeating. In Ohio, Quinnipiac shows Strickand leading John Kasich 44% to 39%, which is obviously an underwhelming margin but is nonetheless an improvement over the 40-40 tie Quinnipiac found in November and is a far more encouraging result for Democrat than the large deficits Rasmussen has found in recent months; Strickland had almost started to look like a lost cause, but these numbers from a respected pollster suggest Ohio is definitely still winnable for Democrats.

In Illinois, Research 2000 has Governor Pat Quinn leading state Senator Kirk Dillard and state Senator Bill Brady 46-35 and 47-32. He might remain under 50%, but remember that in early February Quinn looked so damaged that he seemed to be marching towards a primary defeat. Yet, this is now the second post-primary poll to find him in command of the general election (the first was released last week), especially if his opponent is the more conservative Bill Brady - as still looks likely since Dillard has failed to overtake Brady after weeks of provisional ballot.

South Dakota: Would you have expected the week’s polling surprise to be that Democrats have a strong shot at picking up the governorship of this conservative state? Yea, me neither - especially considering that this finding comes out of a Rasmussen poll. Matched-up against three Republicans, state Senate Minority Leader Scott Heidepreim holds his own: While he trails Lieutenant Governor Dennis Daugaard 41% to 32%, he is ahead against two other Republicans: 37% to 29% against state Senator Gordon Howie and 34% to 31% against state Senator Dave Knudson. That is of course nothing huge, but it certainly suggest that South Dakota voters aren’t desperate to jump in the GOP’s bandwagon.

New Mexico: It helps to have a famous name! While Pete Domenici Jr. has never been in the public spotlight before, he shares the first and last name of his father, former Senator Pete Domenici, which explains how his name recognition is so much higher in a new PPP poll than that of his fellow Republican candidates. The general election match-ups show that the contest is winnable by the GOP but that Democratic Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish is the front-runner: She leads Domenici Jr. 45-40, state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones 47-33 and DA Susana Martinez 46-42. One important factor in this campaign is whether Denish can free herself from Bill Richardson’s shadow: The outgoing governor has a catastrophic approval rating (28% to 63%).

Nevada: Earlier this week, I highlighted a POS poll that showed Governor Jim Gibbons improving his position in the GOP primary, which he was long expected not to have a chance at winning. Now, a Mason-Dixon poll confirms that Gibbons is increasingly competitive against Brian Sandoval: He trails 37% to 30%, whereas he was behind by 17% in Mason-Dixon’s prior poll. Given Gibbons’s worst-in-the-country approval rating of 17%, whether he can find a way to survive the primary will obviously go a long way towards determining the general election: While Sandoval crushes Rory Reid 51% to 29%, the Democrat tops Gibbons 42% to 38%. (The fact that Gibbons is within 4% of Reid says a lot about the latter’s weakness.)

Massachussetts: Despite a weak approval rating (35-54), Deval Patrick manages to stay on top of Suffolk’s general election match-ups because many voters who are discontent with him are choosing to support Democrat-turned-independent Tom Cahill, who enjoys a 31/16 favorability rating. Patrick tops Republican Charlie Baker 33% to 25%, with Cahill receiving 23% and 3% going to Green Party candidate Stein; if the Republican nominee is Christy Mihos, which at the moment seems unlikely given baker’s 47-17 primary lead, Patrick leads Cahill 34% to 26%, with 19% for Mihos. The main reason Democrats can hope that Cahill will actually maintain his level of support and help Patrick survive (whereas Daggett collapsed in New Jersey) is that Cahill is the state Treasurer and is better-known than either Republican candidates.

Wisconsin: Rasmussen’s latest numbers are similar to its previous ones: Republican Scott Walker would dominate Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett 49% to 40%, whereas the Democrat would be more competitive if he were to face former Rep. Mark Neumann (44% to 42%). While that’s nothing for Barrett to be ashamed of, the poll also suggests that Barrett is not starting out as the formidable contender Democrats were hoping for. On the other hand, Wisconsin is a state in which we have seen very few non-Rasmussen polls (only a November PPP survey that had Barrett stronger comes to mind), so it would be nice to have more polling firms test this race as well as Feingold’s vulnerability.

Georgia: Former Governor Barnes manages to stay competitive in Rasmussen’s latest poll, but the match-ups are not as favorable than the pollster found last month: Barnes now trails the three most prominent Republican candidates (45-37 against State Insurance Commissioner Oxendine, 43-37 against Rep. Deal, 45-36 against SoS Handel) while tying state Sen. Johnson at 37%. Barnes would have been better-served by a more favorable environment, but he remains in a competitive position.

Rhode Island: Brown University’s poll finds a wide-open race with an early edge for Republican-turned-independent Linc Chaffee. If the Democratic nominee is Frank Caprio, The former Senator leads 34% with 38%, with 12% to the Republican Robitaille; if the Democratic nominee is Patrick Lynch, Chaffee leads by a wider 33% to 18%, with 14% for the Republican.


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An epic polling roundup to get our minds off Massachussetts

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

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

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

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

Three House races find mixed results for Dems

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connecticut and North Dakota won’t be competitive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Democrats’ silver lining is definitely Connecticut

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

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


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As Dem incumbents tank, open seat candidate Lee Fisher stays afloat

In search for any polling news they can hang on to, Democrats can take solace in Rasmussen’s poll of the Ohio Senate race. Rob Portman does lead Lee Fisher 38% to 36%, but at a time so many incumbents (Chris Dodd, Blanche Lincoln, Harry Reid) are trailing by widening margins, Ohio’s Lieutenant Governor is at least staying competitive.

Of course, that’s nothing for the DSCC to boast about. Portman trailed by wide margins for much of the year, grabbing his first very lead in late September; as such, these numbers find that shifting national environment is impacting Democrats’ Ohio prospects as much as those of any other state. That’s all the more clear when we consider Portman’s standing against Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner: His 40% to 33% lead is the largest he has posted in any survey this year.

But the point remains that Democratic candidates  are managing to stay afloat in the GOP-held open seats they’re hoping to contest (this also goes for Robin Carnahan in Missouri and for Jack Conway in Kentucky). This certainly suggests that evidence that the electorate’s mood is first and foremost anti-incumbent, and that in some cases Democrats might be better off dealing with open seats than in protecting their senators - this is obviously aimed at Chris Dodd, but also perhaps at Blanche Lincoln as I’m certainly open to the argument that Brian Halter would have an easier time winning the general election.

Rasmussen’s poll of Pennsylvania’s Senate race would seem to dispute that hypothesis: Republican Pat Toomey leads Senator Arlen Specter and Rep. Joe Sestak by comparable margins, respectively 46-42 and 44-38. That’s all the more a blow to Sestak’s arguments that he’d have an easier time winning the general election given that Rasmussen’s October poll had Sestak in a substantially stronger position than the incumbent (he led by 1%, whereas Specter trailed by 5%). Yet, it goes without saying that such an analysis is deeply flawed.

For a 5-term senator to be stuck at 42% - not to mention to be trailing a lesser-known opponent - if far more problematic than Sestak’s deficit. Specter is universally known, and it will be very tough for him to convince voters who are unwilling to back him that he should have another term. (Corzine’s decisive is the most recent example of the fact that an incumbent rarely climbs out of such low levels of support.) Sestak has more room to grow as few voters have a firm impression of him. That said, there’s no question that PA continues to look like a far better takeover opportunity for the GOP than was anticipated last spring - though I claim some credit in pointing out early that Democrats could come to regret accepting the senator with open arms.

In the Democratic primary, Specter leads Sestak 48% to 35%. While the poll is being covered as great news for the senator because Rasmussen’s October poll had a 46% to 42% margin (reading The Hill’s analysis of Sestak’s “staggering” drop, you would think the bottom has fallen out for the challenger), that remains a very respectable showing for the House member given the name recognition difference and the fact that the campaign has many more months to heat up. That said, Specter has to be reassured that anti-incumbent sentiment is not extending to the Democratic electorate; his favorability rating is very strong among his new party’s base, which renders it difficult for Sestak to get traction.

Yet, the week’s most stunning evidence of Democratic incumbents’ fall from grace is not Specter’s trailing or the 13% deficit Dodd face in a poll released earlier this week (we have gotten used to seeing such results) but rather the collapse of Ted Strickland’s numbers in the gubernatorial half of Rasmussen’s Ohio poll: Despite an approval rating that isn’t dismal (48-50), Strickland trails Republican challenger John Kasich 48% to 39% - a massive margin that confirms sitting Governors will be in a very tough spot next year.

That the poll was released by Rasmussen might lead many to dismiss the results, but there is no denying that Strickland’s situation is worsening. Not only is the trendline negative (in September, Rasmussen released the very first poll finding Kasich ahead - and that was only by 1%), but Quinnipiac confirms that Kasich gaining: Their latest poll, released in early November, had a tie at 40%. Given that Republicans are already slightly favored to pick-up Iowa and Michigan’s governorships, Democrats will have to fight to keep a foothold in the Midwest.


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Quinnipiac finds ugly results for Senate Democrats in Connecticut and Ohio

The Senate landscape has been getting progressively more complicated for Democrats, and two new Quinnipiac polls released this morning confirm that the time at which the party was dreaming up further expansions of its majority is long gone.

Ohio: Portman captures his first Quinnipiac lead

This change of fortune is nowhere more obvious than in Ohio. Ever since Senator Voinovich announced his retirement, Democratic candidates Lee Fisher and Jennifer Brunner have enjoyed a big lead in polls over Rob Portman - a lead ranging up to 15% in one survey. That wasn’t because Fisher and Brunner are overwhelmingly popular, nor because Portman has a bad reputation - in fact, neither enjoy a particularly impressive name recognition - but because Ohio’s electorate was still as Democratic-leaning as it had been in 2008. In a generic confrontation between relatively low-profile contenders, voters were decisively choosing Democratic candidates.

That is no longer the case. Quinnipiac, which in early September had found Fisher leading by 11% and Brunner leading by 9%, now finds Portman ahead for the very first time of the year. Sure, the margins are small (39% to 36% over Fisher, 38% to 34% over Brunner) but the trendline is not. Portman’s progression is due both to his solidifying his numbers among Republican respondents and to a 13% turnaround among independents.

Ohio is moving back to behaving like a swing state, and Democrats can no longer expect to coast to startlingly easy victories, as they did in 2006.

This isn’t a particularly mysterious phenomenon, of course. That year, Republican controlled the White House and Ohio’s governorships - two positions that are now in Democratic hands, which allows the GOP to run as the outsider party. That Barack Obama’s approval rating in Ohio is for the first time in negative territory - 45% to 50% - is as important a development in the Senate race’s context as any evolution to Fisher or Portman’s approval rating.

Democrats risk more than failing to pick-up this Senate seat, however: Quinnipiac also finds that they could lose the governorship, as Ted Strickland not only sees his approval rating decline (now 45% to 43%) but is for the first time tied (at 40%) with his Republican rival, former Rep. John Kasich. In September, he led by 10%; in February, by 30%. Those numbers are all the more ugly when we consider that Kasich’s name recognition is very low (67% have no opinion of him): For an incumbent not to lead a little-known challenger a year before the election is a sure sign of trouble.

Connecticut: Dodd suffers setback

Quinnipiac’s second poll of the day is just as brutal for Democrats. Ever since an April poll found him Rob Simmons trailing by 16%, Chris Dodd had managed to cut the gap to single-digits: He was only down 44% to 39% in September, a trendline that coincided with an uptick in his approval rating. But this new poll finds Dodd’s numbers back where they were in the spring: Despite his best efforts to address his image over the past six months, he remains in a deep hole.

His approval rating is stuck at a dismal 40%, with 54% disapproving of his action. Against former Rep. Rob Simmons, he trails 49% to 38%, hurt by a 29% deficit among independents and by his failure to break 68% among Democrats. He also trails former Ambassador Tom Foley 47% to 40%, Linda McMahon 42% to 40%. He ties state Senator Sam Caligiuri at 42% and manages to grab a 1% edge over Peter Schiff; even in that latter match-up, he receives only 74% of the Democratic vote and trails among independents by 13%.

In short, Connecticut confirms its place at the very top of next year’s endangered Senate seats - especially if Rob Simmons, who enjoys a 40% to 10% favorability rating, emerges as the GOP nominee. That means that Dodd’s biggest hope might reside in the Republican primary’s chaotic nature. Any of 5 candidates could clinch victory (Quinnipiac has Simmons leading McMahon 27% to 18%, with everyone else in single-digits); since Connecticut holds its primaries in August, a nasty intraparty fight could give Dodd an opening.

North Carolina: Burr receives the usual numbers

Dodd’s numbers might have gotten worse, but PPP’s monthly look at North Carolina’s Senate race finds little movement. Richard Burr’s approval rating is underwhelming but positive: 41% approve, 30% disapprove. In the general election, Burr might be under 50% but he leads by double-digits: 45% to 35% against Bob Etheridge, 45% to 34% against Elaine Marshall, 45% to 33% against Dennis Wicker, 44% to 32% against Kevin Foy, 45% to 32% against Kenneth Lewis and 44% to 31% against Cal Cunningham.

As has been the case in all polls released, there is no meaningful electability differential between the Democratic contenders. In particular, Marshall and Etheridge would enter the race in a comparable situation (Research 2000 last week had Burr leading Marshall by 7% and Etheridge by 8%). There was some discussion here as to whether that spoke ill of Marshall, since she’d presumably enjoy a notoriety edge, but most surveys have found her name recognition is as low as Etheridge’s.

On the other hand, both Etheridge and Marshall can hope to close part of their general election deficit once they introduce themselves to voters: In their match-ups against Burr, about 25% of Democratic respondents are undecided compared to only 12% of Republicans. That signals the race could certainly be competitive next year.

Yet, it also illustrates the contrast between vulnerable Democratic Senators’ situation (they are struggling to mount any sort of lead against little-known opponents) and vulnerable Republican Senators’ situation: Burr or Vitter might be stuck under 50%, but Democratic and independent voters aren’t committed to ousting them. That might change by next fall, but as of now it is further proof of the enthusiasm gap.


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Polls show GOP boost in Ohio and Michigan, Jerry Brown’s strength in California

OH: Rasmussen gives Portman first lead in 9 months, Kasich first lead ever

Ever since George Voinovich retired, all but the very first of Ohio’s Senate polls found both Democratic candidates with a solid lead over Republican Rob Portman - one that had extended to as much as 15%. But as is often the case, Rasmussen brings comfort to Republicans by finding a far more competitive race: Portman gets 41% against Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher’s 40%, and he is ahead of Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner 40% to 38%. Both margins are well within the MoE, but they represent substantially stronger Republican performances than in other polls.

This is Rasmussen’s first poll of the race, so there is no trendline. In fact, Ohio is rarely polled - especially when compared to a state like New York, which is frustrating considering the high stakes of the Buckeye State’s contests. It’s important to note that Rasmussen contradicts a central finding of other Ohio polls. There is here little name recognition differential between the Democratic candidates and Portman; yet, other polls found Brunner and Fisher far better known. (This is not the first time Rasmussen has found some puzzling name recognition results.)

Rasmussen also tested the Governor’s race, and here again the results are very encouraging for Republicans: Plagued by a mediocre-to-bad approval rating (47% to 50%), Governor Ted Strickland is behind former Rep. John Kasich 46% to 45%. This is the first poll ever released to find Kasich posting any sort of lead, and though the margin is well within the MoE there is no question that this is not favorable territory for any incumbent. Over the summer, PPP and Quinnipiac both found Strickland leading by low single-digits, so this poll does not come out of the blue.

CA: Brown runs far stronger than Newsom

In the heels of its poll finding Barbara Boxer building a lead in the Senate race, Rasmussen released that survey’s gubernatorial numbers. The results should please everyone in the race but San Fransisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. While former Governor Jerry Brown has comfortable leads against the 3 Republican candidates (44% to 35% against Meg Whitman, 44% to 34% against Tom Campbell, 45% to 32% against Steve Poizner) Newsom trails against all three: 42% to 36% against Campbell, 41% to 36% against Whitman and 40% to 36% against Poizner.

I don’t know whether the poll’s most surprising result is the huge differential between Newsom and Brown (Research 2000 recently found Brown running stronger, but nothing resembling Rasmussen’s findings) or the fact that Campbell enjoys a bigger lead than his two Republican rivals. Campbell is not as high-profile as Whitman and Poizner, and he has gotten less media attention - at least when it comes to a national audience. But with Whitman truly to respond to the jaw-dropping revelation that she did not vote for 30 years, Poizner and Campbell definitely have an opening to hammer her; the former is already trying with this hard-hitting new ad.

NJ: Democracy Corps shows Corzine gaining

For months, Democracy Corps has found the most favorable results for Jon Corzine but never had the New Jersey Governor been so close to his competitor: Chris Christie is up 40% to 39%, with Chris Daggett at 11%. Do with the margin what you will (as long as no other pollster finds Corzine within the MoE, whether PPP, Monmouth, Quinnipiac or Franklin, I’ll have trouble believing that Corzine has tied things up), but the trendline is certainly interesting since it suggests Corzine is slowly gaining ground even within Democracy Corps’s turnout model. The evolution is small, however: Christie led by 3% three weeks ago.

MI: Democrats face uphill climb

No one doubts that Democratic Lieutenant Governor John Cherry will have a tough fight on his hands in 2010, but two new surveys suggest Michigan’s governorship is one of the GOP’s top pick-up opportunities next year:

  • An Inside Michigan Politics survey has Cherry trailing Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard 41% to 38%; he does lead businessman Rick Snyder 42% to 34%. IMP only tested Cox in an unexpected 3-way race involving Cherry and Democratic state Speaker Andy Dillon; Cox leads Cherry manages 35% to 33%.

The polls test different match-ups, so it is difficult to conclude anything electability-wise. Yet, Cox can point not only to his 13% lead but also to the fact that he comes on top of both polls’ primary trial heats. He is in a virtual tie with Rep. Hoekstra in one; he has a somewhat larger lead over Hoekstra in the latter. Also: Both institutes find Rick Snyder with only 2% of the GOP primary, but he should not be underestimated: He just surprisingly won the high-profile straw poll at Mackinac Island’s Republican Leadership Conference. This could help him get more attention, raise more money.

CO: A first look at Senate primaries

In what is the first poll testing Senator Michael Bennet’s vulnerability in the Democratic primary, Republican institute Tarrance Group found the incumbent in a dangerous position against former Speaker Andrew Romanoff: Bennet leads 41% to 27%, a certain proof of vulnerability. Obviously, Bennet cannot be held at the same standard as other senators, for whom a 14% lead in a primary would be verging on the catastrophic: Since his name recognition is still relatively low, Bennet has more room to grow than someone like Arlen Specter, despite the fact that the Pennsylvania senator is posting similar numbers.

On the Republican side, former LG Jennifer Norton crushes DA Ken Buck 45% to 15%. It’s still unclear how this race will shape-up: Buck is clearly to frame it as a conservative-versus-establishment battle, so we’ll have to see how Norton seeks to position herself. In the gubernatorial primary, former Rep. Scott McInnis starts far ahead of state Senator Josh Penry; however, McInnis might not be the establishment favorite since Penry has earned a lot of good press in conservative circles as a GOP rising star. He will have to battle McInnis’s superior name recognition, however.


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Senate: Qpac has Ohio swinging Dem, Rasmussen shows GOP leading in CO, NH and NV

In the heels of yesterday’s Research 2000 polls that found Democrats Chris Dodd and Blanche Lincoln enjoying sunnier yet still worrisome numbers, a flurry of Senate polls gives both parties something to celebrate. Let’s get right to the numbers, as none of these contests needs any introduction:

  • In Ohio, Quinnipiac confirms what most pollsters have found: Democrats have a a clear early edge. Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher leads former Rep. Rob Portman 42% to 31% while Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is ahead 39% to 34%. (Against car dealer Tom Ganley, who is challenging Portman, Fisher is ahead 41% to 29% and Brunner leads 39% to 31%.)
  • In New Hampshire, Rasmussen is the first pollster to find Republican Attorney General Kelly Ayotte with a substantial lead against Rep. Paul Hodes, 46% to 38%. The two candidates have a widely differing favorability rating: 58% to 21% for Ayotte, 46% to 38% for Hodes.
  • In Colorado, Rasmussen gives us the very first poll testing former Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton - and the numbers are just as worrisome for Democrats as last week’s survey, which tested other Republican contenders. Norton leads Bennet 45% to 36%; she is also ahead of former Speaker Andrew Romanoff, 42% to 34%. Bennet’s favorability rating is a very worrisome 36-49, which leaves me skeptical as other surveys have not found the appointed senator’s name recognition anywhere near that level.
  • In what is quickly emerging as the Democrats’ biggest 2010 headache, Rasmussen finds Nevada’s Harry Reid trailing former party chairwoman Sue Lowden 50% to 40% and real estate developer Danny Tarkanian 50% to 43%. Here again, I find the favorability ratings bizarre, as I am highly skeptical that enough people already know who Lowden is to give her a 48-27 rating. The same goes for Tarkanian: His 57-30 rating makes him as well-known as incumbent senators of most states.

We are once again confronted with a polling situation that has led to many questions over the past few months: In many races, Rasmussen serves us surveys that are more favorable to Republicans than those of other pollsters - but certainly not in a way that allows us to dismiss these results. For one, this is now consistent enough that it is likely due to a difference in the likely voter screen, and there is simply not enough 2010 polling circulating to know which screen could lead to outlier. There is enough evidence out there that Republicans are more motivated that it would be foolish to blindly denounce Rasmussen’s LV model.

More importantly, Rasmussen’s results in most states are really not significantly different from other surveys - certainly not enough for us to dismiss them. I have made this point about Rasmussen’s surveys in VA and NJ, but it also applies to Nevada and Colorado: PPP has found quite troubling numbers for Bennet in CO (if Beauprez leads by 4%, it is that far-fetched for Rasmussen to show a former LG ahead by 9%?) and Mason Dixon’s NV results are very similar to those of Rasmussen - namely Reid trailing outside of the margin of error against these two potential opponents. Research 2000’s survey was a bit better, but it still had both Tarkanian and Lowden ahead.

To recap: Rasmussen’s survey is the third pollster in the past month that has Reid trailing Tarkanian and Lowden - the second that has one of the Republicans ahead by 10%. If that’s not enough for Reid to push the panic button, I don’t know what is.

The one state in which Rasmussen differs substantially from other pollsters is CA since there is no other evidence for its finding that Barbara Boxer is only ahead of Carly Fiorina by 4%. We can’t add NH to this category. Though Ayotte’s lead might be bigger than we have seen, the Granite State is rarely polled and other surveys (UNH, R2000) have also shown the Attorney General in the lead, albeit within the MoE. So Rasmussen finds the Republican in the lead - but not by margin that is not explained by differences in the LV screen. That’s something we should be able to judge for ourselves by the time 2010 rolls around.

As such, we are here in a situation in which the DSCC can point to some polling to suggest its candidates are not in as big holes as Rasmussen suggests - but there are hardly any recent surveys that find what can genuinely be qualified as good for Bennet, Reid or Hodes.

That’s why Quinnipiac’s Ohio poll is so welcome. The state might be one of the Democrats’ golden pick-up opportunities, but the GOP has always believed Portman enough to guarantee a top-tier campaign. Yet, pollster after pollster have found Fisher and Brunner with a consistent lead. Sure, some of it this comes from a name recognition differential (47% have an opinion of Fisher, 41% of Brunner, 27% of Portman) but that alone cannot explain how the Lieutenant Governor can muster a double-digit lead.

The bottom line is that Ohio still looks like the blue-leaning state it became in the 2006 midterms, during which voters gave Democratic candidates two huge victories in the open Senate and gubernatorial seats. In a generic confrontation between relatively low-profile contenders, voters are choosing the Democratic candidate.

This good news extends to the state’s gubernatorial race, where incumbent Ted Strickland is strengthening his position. Quinnipiac finds his approval rating inching upwards - 48% to 42% - and his lead against former Rep. John Kasich solidifying, 46% to 36%. Sure, Strickland is still endangered - as is any incumbent under 50%. But in the current circumstances, a double-digit lead is nothing for any Midwestern governor to be ashamed of - not to mention that it’s Strickland biggest lead in any poll since April.


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Q2 fundraising reports, part 2: Some retirement hints and daunting hauls

This morning, I looked at the fundraising of U.S. representatives and House candidates this morning; now let’s take a look at statewide races. Once again, I think too much is read into most candidates’ financial situation and not every half-a-million difference will matter come 2010. As such, let’s concentrate on: 1. What fundraising hauls reveal about the 2010 plans of politicians whose final decision we are still awaiting. 2. The races in which a daunting money gap could put pressure on candidates to drop out or scare challengers away.

Retirement watch: Rell could opt out, Bunning’s figures could be lower

Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning will be the subject of insistent retirement rumors as long as the filing deadline has not passed; he himself has said that his decision will depend on his ability to raise funds, and Mitch McConnell has been trying to ensure that does not go well. The Q2 numbers are now in: Bunning raised $302,466 in the second quarter - a slight increase over the first.

Sure, that total is far from impressive since he was significantly outraised by Democrat Jack Conway (>$1 million) and Republican Trey Grayson (>$600,000). Yet, the appropriate question when it comes to Bunning is whether his fundraising haul is weak enough to convince him that seeking re-election is too difficult an endeavor, and I believe he is raising sufficient funds to pursue the race. In fact, what’s strange about Kentucky’s Senate race is not not so much Bunning’s weakness as the sustained pace with which Grayson has been raising money for a race he has yet to jump into.

Despite Grayson’s insistence that he has no intention of challenging Bunning in the GOP primary, it looks like either he is certain that the Senator will retire or he is considering running no matter what. Even if his promise not to run against Bunning are genuine, will Grayson be able to resist if he has millions of dollars piled up by the end of 2009 - especially if his bank account is far bigger than his potential opponent’s? The threat of such a well-funded primary challenger is sure to weigh on Bunning’s mind as he contemplates his next move.

Another incumbent to keep an eye on: Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell, who has not yet said whether she will seek re-election in 2010. She banked only $20,000 and is outpaced by her Democratic rivals. Is she looking to retire? That would obviously be a big blow to the GOP’s hopes of keeping the governorship.

Eye-popping Reid and Crist hauls make it tough for challengers

Harry Reid should have an easy time fundraising since many wealthy donors want favors from the Senate Majority Leader. And he delivered: He reported raising $3 million over the second quarter, pushing his CoH to over $7 million. Now, why this matters is that none of the Republican who are supposedly thinking about a run are showing signs of being interested.

Rep. Dean Heller raised $166,000 in the quarter and has a bit over $260,000 in CoH; he would have made sure to report more had he been seriously thinking about a Senate run. More importantly, former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle raised $35,000 throughout the second quarter; she had said that she would probably not run if she failed to gather $100,000 in contributions so it is possible that Republicans lose their most advanced candidate in this crucial race.

In Florida, meanwhile, Charlie Crist raised an absurd $4.3 million over the past 3 months. Not only is that enough to buy more primary ads than he could dream of but it’s also nearly 13 times more the $340,000 Marco Rubio amassed. Given that he was hoping to attract heavy conservative support, this is a big blow to the former state Speaker’s prospect. Crist are using this discrepancy to pressure Rubio into exiting the race and reports now indicate that the conservative is now indeed considering dropping out - a prime example of how fundraising strength can have more dramatic consequences than unequal spending.

In hard-to-read primaries, money could make bigger difference

There is little with which to easily distinguish Jack Conway and Dan Mongiardo. Both are centrist Kentucky Democrats, both are statewide officials and both have the support of prominent establishment figures. In such hard-to-read primaries in which neither candidate can credibly portray himself as an insurgent and in which voters are unlikely to have that strong an opinion, money differentials can be important: Beyond the importance of reaching out to voters, they could push the establishment towards a certain candidate.

As such, Conway is certainly very happy since he finally found one area on which to create some distance with Mongiardo. Not only is the latter’s fundraising haul at the same level as Bunning’s (gasp!), but Conway has outraised him 4:1 to top the entire field with $1,3 million. That amount is roughly equal to Bunning, Mongiardo and Grayson’s funds combined.

An even greater unbalance is emerging in Ohio. Every two months, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has had to release a statement insisting that she intends to stay in the Senate race, where her Democratic opponent Lee Fisher has been accumulating more establishment support. The second quarter figures are likely to increase pressure on Brunner to call it quits, since she has banked $207,000 compared to $900,000 for Fisher and $1,7 million for their Republican opponent, Rob Portman.

The trouble is not necessarily that Brunner’s haul is weak as much as the fact that it will be tough for her to wage an insurgent campaign. It’s very much possible to envision a lower-funded candidate win Ohio’s Democratic primary, but that probably requires substantial support from labor groups; yet, many unions are endorsing Fisher. On the other hand, I’m not sure why party leaders are so concerned about pushing Brunner out: Sure, Portman’s cash looks daunting but the primary is held relatively early and the Democratic nominee will have plenty of time to recoup before the general election.

Money is flowing in Texas

Both of the Lone Star State’s Republican gubernatorial candidates raised humongous amounts of money, guaranteeing they have what they need to wage all-out war. Kay Bailey Hutchison brought in $6.7 million; Rick Perry $4.2 million. That some wealthy donors are choosing to donate to both candidate naturally increases the amount of money in circulation; also, consider that donations for state races are not held to the same $2,300 limit as for a federal race. For instance, Perry’s biggest contributor donated $225,000!

Also strange is the fact that Houston Mayor Bill White managed to raise $2 million (almost half-of which are a contribution to himself) for a Senate race that does not exist yet. (White will run for Hutchison’s Senate seat when she resigns.)


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

Yet another Ohio polls finds narrowing Democratic edge

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

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

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

In Texas, Perry leads Hutchison and Obama leads Romney

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

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

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

Minnesota’s first gubernatorial poll that tests Coleman

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

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

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

Second consecutive poll finds New Jersey tightening

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


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New poll reminds Dems that economis crisis could mean a tough cycle

For months, Quinnipiac’s Ohio polls found the Buckeye State remained faithful to its newly acquired blue state status, giving Barack Obama, Ted Strickland and the party’s Senate nominees high marks. But the July survey finds a collapse in the Democrats’ numbers - especially at the presidential and gubernatorial level:

  • Barack Obama’s approval rating has plunged from 62%-31% in May to a mediocre 49%-44% in July. We don’t have to look very far to see where this dip is coming from: Two months ago, voters approved of Obama’s handling of the economy by 21%; now, 48% disapprove while 46% approve - quite a sharp drop.
  • Governor Ted Strickland’s approval rating has also plummeted: It stood as 56-29 in May, now it’s down to 46-42. Here again, you can link the Governor’s fall to the economy: Two months ago, voters approved his handling of the budget by 3% but they now disapprove by 19%.
  • In gubernatorial match-ups, Strickland leads former Rep. John Kasich 43% to 38% and former Senator Mike DeWine 41% to 40%; in May, he led them by 19% and 12% respectively. Strickland’s drop is fueled by independents deserting him.

The trendlines are so brutal that we will need to see some confirmation in upcoming polls. However, Quinnipiac’s numbers correspond to those of another pollster. In June, PPP found Strickland with a nearly identical approval rating, a nearly identical drop-off and as narrow a lead against Kasich. There is thus no denying that the Ohio Governor is quickly emerging as one of the most vulnerable incumbents of the cycle.

That this evolution can be directly tied to the economic crisis should be of great worry to Democrats. Ohio might no longer be the most important battleground state, but voters’ increasing disapproval of Obama and Strickland’s handling of the economy is symptomatic of the political trends across the economically distraught Midwest. Should these trends continue over the next year, Democrats could find themselves staring at a very tough cycle. Obama has time to recover by 2012 but vulnerable representatives and many Governors don’t have the luxury to time.

This poll thus points to the Democrats’ nightmare scenario: The economy does not recover over the next year, Obama’s approval rating falls to a mediocre level in swing states, the party’s Governors are also unable to overcome the stain of their state’s budgetary woes and Democrats suffer massive midterm losses at all levels.

Even if the political environment does not deteriorate enough for marginally vulnerable incumbents to fall, Democrats would be hard pressed to win the competitive open seats if they find themselves to any extent blamed for the economic downturn. Irrespective of the merits of Lee Fisher and Jennifer Brunner in Ohio or of Robin Carnahan in Missouri, it will be very hard for them to prevail if the GOP is enjoying any type of national breeze - even a slight one.

Quinnipiac’s poll also tested the Senate race and found that the large leads Democrats Lee Fisher and Jennifer Brunner were enjoying in May have melted away: Fisher now leads Rob Portman 35% and 31% while Brunner is only ahead 35% to 34%. Surprisingly, car dealer Tom Ganley, a political unknown tested for the first time, performs almost as well as Portman: Fisher is ahead 36% to 30% and Brunner 37% to 33%.

Yes, the Democrats keep their edge but Brunner and Fisher have a much higher name recognition than either of their Republican opponents; as such, much of their lead can be explained away by a notoriety differential. And here’s another reason that’s a bad sign. Voters really don’t know much about any of the Senate candidates, so Fisher and Brunner’s clear drop can be tied directly to Obama and Strickland’s declining popularity. And since this is an open seat, the party’s Senate prospects are sure to remain tied its executive leaders’ fortunes.

Quinnipiac also tested many gay-rights questions, finding that Ohio has not evolved as rapidly as other states: Not only do 60% oppose same-sex marriage but civil unions is only approved by 46% of respondents (versus 47%). On the other hand, it looks like some pro-marriage liberals responded “no” to the civil union question: When asked to choose between marriage, civil union and no legal recognition, 57% of respondents choose the first two options - including 65% of Democrats and 61% of independents. 57% also approve of a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation, versus only 35%.

With numbers like that, it’s unlikely gay rights can be used as much of a wedge issue in upcoming cycles. But the poll also suggests that Republicans might not need social issues anymore as Democrats are increasingly having to take ownership of the economic crisis.

So can Obama maintain high approval ratings into the next year? Can Democratic Governors avoid being blamed for the economic crisis since their party controls both the state capital and the national capital? We’ve always known that these fundamental questions will be crucial in determining the shape of the 2010 cycle, but now polls are sending warning signs of their own.


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Poll watch, incumbents in trouble edition

Ohio: Strickland’s troubles do not extent to his party’s Senate candidates

Different pollsters are now on the record finding widely contrasting results in Ohio’s gubernatorial race. A few weeks after Quinnipiac showed Governor Ted Strickland crushing his Republican opponent, a new PPP survey has just found the incumbent in as vulnerable a position as can be. However, PPP agrees with Quinnipiac when it comes to the Senate race, giving the Democratic candidates a clear edge.

Let’s start with the Governor’s contest:

  • PPP finds Strickland’s approval rating at a problematic 43%, with 42% disapproving. In January, PPP pegged it at 48-35.
  • In a match-up with probable Republican nominee John Kasich, Strickland is only ahead within the margin of error, 44% to 42%. Interestingly, Kasich himself is not popular, with his favorability rating sitting at an ugly 31-30.

The race is currently rated ‘lean retention’ in my gubernatorial rankings, so it is certainly not unexpected to see this race competitive. If anything, I would be far more surprised if Strickland manages to coast to re-election as Quinnipiac suggested he might: Governors all over the country are seeing their popularity collapse as the crisis unfolds and their leadership on economic matters is contested. Ohio’s situation is certainly not rosy, and Strickland’s approval rating could still get worse.

One problem for Republicans is that Kasich does not look popular enough to win if the race is anything but a referendum on Strickland’s leadership. And yet, PPP’s results for the open Senate race suggest that Ohio voters seem to dislike all of their politicians at this point:

  • Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher and Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, both Democrats, have practically the same favorability rating as Kasich (32-31 and 32-32, respectively). Probable Republican nominee Rob Portman fares even worse, 22% to 34% - a shockingly dismal number for someone who is not particularly well known.
  • In general election match-ups, Fisher leads Portman 41% to 32% and Brunner leads 40% to 32%.

Strickland might have lost ground since January, but his fellow Democrats have improved their position.
Perhaps that indicates that Ohio remains a left-leaning state - the weight of incumbency notwithstanding; perhaps it is a reflection of Rob Portman’s dismal favorability numbers. All we can say is that PPP’s numbers are very similar to most other surveys we have seen of this race. (Quinnipiac’s May results were almost exactly identical.) In short: Both Brunner and Fisher look to be in a strong position, and it does not look (for now) that the DSCC has to worry about one candidate being less electable than the other.

Nevada: Ensign’s popularity collapses, but still remains above Reid

In mid-May, Mason Dixon released a poll finding Harry Reid posting dismal numbers. His favorability rating (38-50) was pathetic compared to fellow Nevada Senator John Ensign’s strong results (53-18). A month has passed, and with have come revelations of Ensign’s sex scandal. Mason Dixon thus revisited the state to see what had change - and the results are bad for both Senators.

On the one hand, John Ensign’s favorability rating now stands at 39-37. That might not look bad given the type of press he has gotten lately, but that’s quite a huge drop from his May numbers. Thankfully for Ensign, he does not have to face voters for another 3 years, which should give him plenty of time to improve his image. Furthermore, 62% of respondents say Ensign should not resign.

As such, the poll is far worse for Reid, who has to face voters in just a few months and posts lower numbers than Ensign: His favorability rating has also dropped (34-46). Interestingly, his approval rating stands at a more respectable 43% (against 55%), suggesting that voters have a better view of Reid’s political action than they like him as a person. And of course, the best news for Reid is that he still has no challenger, and it is looking increasingly possible that he will not face serious opposition.

No miracle for Governor David Paterson

In the latest Siena survey, Paterson’s favorability rating stands at 31% and his approval rating at 20% - the first time since February these measures have stood above 30% and 20%, respectively. I have spent enough time describing to Paterson’s collapse that it seems appropriate to point to a small sign of uptick. But the mere fact that such results could be considered good news tells you all you need to know about Paterson’s vulnerabilities.

The electoral match-ups still show no hope for recovery for the Governor, as the time at which he’ll have to decide whether he’s seeking re-election is approaching. Against Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (whose favorability rating stands at 71%), Paterson is crushed 69% to 16% - a larger margin than in May. Against the also popular Rudy Giuliani, Paterson loses 57% to 27%. As for a Cuomo-Giuliani match-up, the Attorney General keeps a solid lead - but he has dipped below 50%: 49% to 40%.

All of these results are just what we have come to expect, so there is no need to delve on them any longer. As I have said already, I wish a polling instute tested Paterson and Giuliani against another Democrat than Cuomo to bring something new to the discussion. This Siena poll’s most interesting findings concern state politics, as the survey finds that all the protagonists in the Senate coup are understandably unpopular, starting with Pedro Espada (12-33), Malcolm Smith (12-32) and Hiram Monserrate (7-36).


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One Republican bows out in Ohio, another sabotages his own campaign in Arkansas

Taylor will not challenge Portman in Ohio

As soon as former Rep. Rob Portman announced his Senate bid, Ohio Republicans treated him as their presumptive nominee - as if no other prominent GOPer was considering a run. In fact, state Auditor Mary Taylor was still mulling the race. But the establishment’s pressure combined with her fear of giving up her job led Taylor to decide to stay out of the race yesterday; there is no doubt that Portman’s announcement that he had raised an impressive $3 million in the first quarter of 2009 contributed to scaring Taylor away.

This solidifies Portman’s claim to the Republican nomination. Not only was Taylor his most serious potential opponent, but former Senator Mike DeWine will now face even more pressure not to seek his old job back. (A few months ago, DeWine said he would run either for Governor, Senate or Attorney General. If Taylor had jumped in, perhaps DeWine would have felt the right to run as well since he would not be the one causing a crowded primary.) This will allow him to stock up on fundraising and introduce himself to voters while Democrats resolve their nomination fight.

On the other hand, I have repeatedly pointed out that avoiding a contested primary in Ohio is not that important since the election will be held in March May, an early date that will leave enough time for a wounded nominee to prepare for the general election. Instead of touting the fact that they have cleared the field in Ohio, Republicans should concentrate on avoiding divisive struggles in Kentucky, Missouri and Florida.

In fact, the most important consequence of Taylor’s decision does not concern the Senate race but the election for state Auditor. This might not seem that important, but the stakes are high. In 2011-2012, the state’s legislative lines will be redrawn by the State Apportionment Board, which has five members - one of which is the Auditor. Thus, Democrats are looking to pick-up this seat next year, and they have already recruited Hamilton County Commissioner David Pepper. Had Taylor not sought re-election, it would have been easier for Democrats to pick-up the seat - just as it will be easier for the GOP to contest the Secretary of State position since Jennifer Brunner is running for Senate. Thus, we will have to keep an eye on Taylor’s re-election campaign and on the open Secretary of State race.

As new GOPer makes move, strike Hendren from the list of credible candidates

The one Republican who is currently running against Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln no longer looks that credible. When state Senator Kim Hendren first announced a run, I pointed out his many liabilities but wrote that he had enough political experience to make for a competitive challenger. Well, it now looks like Hendren has antisemitic tendencies and is absolutely unprepared for primetime. First, he called Senator Chuck Schumer “that Jew.” Then he made matters worse when he attempted to apologize. Not only did he defend himself from charges of antisemitism by claiming that he sometimes agrees with Joe Lieberman, he also offered strange rationales for his comment:

I don’t use a teleprompter and occasionally I put my foot in my month… At the meeting I was attempting to explain that unlike Sen. Schumer, I believe in traditional values, like we used to see on ‘The Andy Griffith Show.’  I made the mistake of referring to Sen. Schumer as ‘that Jew’ and I should not have put it that way as this took away from what I was trying to say.

I am not sure why we should feel reassured that Hendren thought of calling Schumer “that Jew” in the context of discussing his lack of traditional values. It seems to me that this explanation only makes matters worse. “I shouldn’t have gotten into this Jewish business because it distracts from the issue,” Hendren also said.

The good news for the GOP is that there are other Republicans who are thinking of running in this state Democrats still dominate at the local level. Former U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin and state Senator Gilbert Baker are considering entering the race, and this week one GOPer made his move: Safe Food CEO Curtis Coleman announced the formation of an exploratory committee. A friend of Mike Huckabee, Coleman could tap into the former presidential candidate’s political network and fundraising. More analysis will be in order if he jumps in the race.

Rand Paul eyes Kentucky race

As if the Kentucky Senate race was not complicated enough, the Republican field has a new entrant: Rand Paul, son of former presidential candidate and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, announced this week that he was forming an exploratory committee for Bunning’s seat. (An important note: Paul made it clear that he would not run if Bunning does.)

Paul is an eye surgeon and is a political novice. Combined with the fact that his father’s libertarian views clash with those of a majority of Republican voters (as evidenced during last year’s presidential debates, during which Paul often found himself battling all other candidates on stage), it’s hard to envision Paul become a serious threat to win the GOP nomination against a well-known politician like Trey Grayson. On the other hand, Ron Paul’s ability to mobilize grassroot activists and raise staggering sums of money has been well documented; if some of that excitement transfers to his son, his candidacy could add some confusion to an already chaotic race.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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