The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Don’t Count on Lower Turnout In a Louisiana Runoff


Louisiana’s Senate race is likely to go to a runoff after Tuesday night.

Incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu has led a lot of the pre-runoff polling, but by increasingly small margins, and with a percentage of the vote that’s particularly ominous. Anywhere else, if you’ve been in office and only 36 percent of the likely voters say they want to vote for you, that means you’re toast. Yet it’s quite possible that on Election Night, a finish in the high 30s would make Landrieu the “frontrunner,” and off into a runoff with Representative Bill Cassidy, who is polling in the mid-30s.

The bad news for Landrieu is that she trails Cassidy in all head-to-head polls since July. If there is a runoff, it will be held December 6.

One would expect that the turnout would be lower in the runoff, but past Louisiana elections show a quite mild drop-off. Back in 1996, Louisiana held its “jungle primary” election September 21, with the runoff in November. Landrieu had only 21 percent of the vote in the first round, but won with 50.17 percent in the runoff. Turnout jumped from 1.2 million to 1.7 million that year, as one would expect, as most people think of Election Day as the first Tuesday in November.

In 2002, Landrieu won 46 percent in the first round against multiple Republican opponents, and then won 51.7 percent in the runoff against Suzanne Terrell. Turnout dropped by only about 10,000 votes, from 1.24 million to 1.23 million.

Then in 2008 — helped along by the Obama wave — Landrieu won outright in the first round, 52.1 percent to John N. Kennedy’s 45.7 percent. That year she never trailed in the head-to-head polling.

Still, Louisiana has drifted in a more Republican direction in recent cycles. Romney won by 57 percent to 40 percent in 2012; Bobby Jindal won the governor’s race with 65 percent in 2011, Senator David Vitter won reelection with 56 percent in 2010, McCain carried the state with 58 percent in 2008, and Jindal won the governor’s race with 53 percent in 2007.

Georgia is the other state requiring a winning candidate to get 50 percent. Neither Republican David Perdue nor Democrat Michelle Nunn has hit 50 percent in recent polls. In 2008, Georgia’s Senate race went to a runoff, and turnout dropped from 3.7 million on November 4 to 2.1 million December 2; Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss won.

Tags: Mary Landrieu , Louisiana , Bill Cassidy

To Be Honest, I Thought It Was an Obvious Point


MSNBC quoted me approvingly. My credibility’s shot, isn’t it?

Tags: Something Lighter


Time for Every Democrat to Panic!



The New York TimesNate Cohn says,

In Iowa, the overall early vote is nearly tied in a state where Democrats usually fare well in the early vote. . . . The challenge for Democrats will be making sure that their voters from 2010 ultimately turn out: 42 percent of the Iowa voters who requested but have not returned their absentee ballots are registered Democrats; just 28 percent are registered Republicans.

The last two polls in Colorado had Cory Gardner ahead, and the GOP advantage in the early vote is three times what the state saw in 2010, when Democrat Michael Bennet barely won the Senate race!

The last three polls in Colorado showed Bob Beauprez leading or tied with incumbent Democrat John Hickenlooper!

Tom Cotton has led every poll this month in Arkansas!

Vox Populi has David Perdue ahead of Michelle Nunn by 5 points in Georgia!

Republican Nathan Deal has led the past five polls in Georgia!

What’s more, earlier in the week,

a Georgia judge denied a push from civil rights groups to force the state’s secretary of State to add 40,000 recently registered voters to the rolls, a setback for groups working to register minority voters that could have a big impact on Georgia’s hotly contested races next week.

Mary Landrieu’s at 36 percent in the most recent poll, and almost certain to go to a runoff in Louisiana!

Yesterday American Research Group showed Jeanne Shaheen and Scott Brown tied in New Hampshire!

Greg Orman’s lead over Pat Roberts in the RealClearPolitics average is just 1 point out in Kansas!

Kay Hagan’s lead in the RealClearPolitics average is just 1.6 points!

The Tampa Bay Times poll has Charlie Crist and Rick Scott tied in Florida!

Alison Grimes hasn’t led Mitch McConnell in a single poll this month in Kentucky!

Republican Charlie Baker has led the past five polls in the governor’s race in Massachusetts!

Mia Love’s ahead in that House race in Utah!

In USA Today’s survey,

significant parts of the coalition that re-elected Obama two years ago are poised to stay home. In the poll, just 7% of the likely voters are under 30; those younger voters made up 19% of those who cast ballots two years ago, according to surveys of voters as they left polling places. In contrast, the proportion of voters 65 and older has risen to 27% from 16% in 2012. Conservatives made up 35% of the electorate then; they are 41% of today’s likely voters.

Tags: Democrats , 2014 Midterms , Polling

Time for Every Republican to Panic!



Nate Cohn of the New York Times: “Democratic efforts to turn out the young and nonwhite voters who sat out the 2010 midterm elections appear to be paying off in several Senate battleground states.”

Ipsos has Joni Ernst and Bruce Braley tied at 45 percent each in Iowa!

The WMUR Granite State Poll has Jeanne Shaheen leading Scott Brown 50–42 percent among likely voters in New Hampshire!

Elon University has Kay Hagan ahead by 4 over Thom Tillis in North Carolina!

McKeon & Associates shows Democrat incumbent Pat Quinn 3 points ahead of Bruce Rauner in the governor’s race in Illinois!

USA Today has Democrats leading the generic-ballot poll among likely voters, 43 percent to 42 percent!

Republicans are going to lose everything this year! Panic! Panic! Head for the hills! Head for your stockpiled bunkers! You should have listened to those commercials telling you to buy gold! The end is near!

He’s coming to get us!

Tags: Joni Ernst , Thom Tillis , Bruce Rauner

Coming to North Carolina: An Attack Ad Against the Media


From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

It’s Come to This: Attack Ads Against The Media

A two-minute television ad?

Conservative War Chest unveiled its final ads of the 2014 midterm elections, with different ads running in North Carolina and New Mexico.

A new 2-minute TV ad airing in North Carolina asks voters to make the election a referendum on the “corruption of American journalism.”

“Conservatives can never gain final victory until they confront the problem of news organizations who are the real opposition party in America,” said Mike Flynn, spokesman of Conservative War Chest. “This content-heavy spot puts before the public case studies that establish these organizations as partisan not journalistic organizations that are dedicated to activism, not the fearless pursuit of the truth.”

Conservatives will relish every second of the ad hitting the New York Times, MSNBC, George Stephanopoulos, the critics of Sharyl Attkisson, and so on. But will it change a mind, or influence the decision of a North Carolina voter who wasn’t already going to vote for Tillis? Or is this the kind of argument against the media that the Right needs to make outside the realm of blogs, articles, and so on?

Here’s the group’s explanation of the New Mexico ad buy . . . 

Flynn also revealed that the Super PAC was “doubling-down” on its ad buys in the U.S. Senate race in New Mexico.

“We were the first outside group to hold U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) to account for his extreme liberal agenda and its threat to national security,” Flynn said. “Many pundits laughed that we were engaging with New Mexico voters, but since then the polls have tightened.”

“Tom Udall has spent his entire adult life in the family business of liberal politics,” Flynn said. “His family’s policies were wrong in the 1970s and they are devastatingly wrong today.”

Flynn said his group was increasing its buy behind its groundbreaking, 2-minute “Blame America First” ad, which details the national security failures of radical liberal policies like those espoused by politicians like Udall.

The group is also launching its ad highlighting the liberal “war on Hispanic dreams and values.”

Flynn said, “New Mexico has a proud Hispanic legacy stretching back generations. They understand that the liberal policies of taxes and regulations stifle dreams of economic growth. Their alliance with social issue extremists insults Hispanic values.”

As noted earlier, Allen Weh has improved his standing, but still trails significantly. New Mexico is a pretty consistently Democratic state, which is not to say that Republicans always lose in a landslide. In 2012, Heather Wilson lost the New Mexico Senate race, 51 percent to 45 percent, to Democrat Martin Heinrich. No one is going to argue that incumbent Democratic senator Tom Udall is a whirling dervish of raw political charisma, and the political environment is not good for Democrats. But there are no cases of an incumbent blowing a seven-point lead in a statewide race in the final week since 1998.

Tags: North Carolina , Media , Campaign Ads


Biden’s Holding a Fundraiser for Braley Tonight


Really? Vice President Joe Biden is holding a fundraiser for Bruce Braley tonight, in New York City?

Isn’t it a little late in the cycle for fundraising? Aren’t campaigns in the fund-spending stage?

Note that the best way the Democrats could use Biden was in a New York City fundraiser, not on the stump in Iowa. . . . Of course, last time Biden went to stump for Braley in Iowa, he said, “The middle class is still in trouble. You don’t have to know the numbers, you can feel it. You can feel it in your bones.” A bit off-message if you’re trying to tout how Iowans need Braley in the Senate to keep the current administration policies in place.

Does this mean that they think Braley is one of the Democrats with the best chance to win? Or the one who needs the most help?

Tags: Joe Biden , Bruce Braley

UPDATED: Registered Republicans Have 94,000-Vote Edge in Colorado’s Early Vote


Democratic firm Public Policy Polling just unveiled a survey in Colorado, conducted for the League of Conservation Voters, showing Republican Cory Gardner and Democratic incumbent Mark Udall tied, with 48 percent each.

This is a surprise, as most polls of this race showed a solid Gardner lead. Just this morning, Quinnipiac unveiled a poll showing the Republican ahead by 7 points and Rasmussen had Gardner up by 6.

One other piece of evidence casting doubt on the race’s ending with the candidates neck-and-neck: a good chunk of the state’s vote is already in — 905,500 ballots, or probably close to half the vote.

Registered Democrats returned 294,648 of these ballots, or 32.5 percent; registered Republicans were 379,250, or 41.8 percent.

A candidate whose party is outpacing the competition by a 9.3-percentage-point margin, with 40 to 45 percent of the ballots counted, is in a pretty nice spot. Not rock-solid locked up, but in a nice spot.

Also note that we’ve heard quite a bit about Democrats’ better-than-ever vote-targeting and get-out-the-vote efforts, and Republicans undoubtedly remember 2012 quite well. But if Democrats have a great get-out-the-vote system in Colorado, we haven’t seen it yet.

UPDATE: The Denver Post releases a poll showing Gardner up by 2 points, 46 percent to 44 percent. They have him up by 3 points among those who have already voted. The survey also shows Gardner ahead by 7 points among independents.

ANOTHER UPDATE: If the 84,000-vote advantage of yesterday wasn’t enough to cheer Republicans, here are today’s numbers: 1,038,023 votes, 336,908 Democrats, 431,711 Republicans. A 94,803-vote margin.

What’s Separating the GOP’s Leading Candidates from the Trailing Ones?


Sean Trende sounds the alarm for Republicans that even with some good polls floating around, they’re underperforming:

In this sense, I think the large number of undecided voters — who almost certainly disapprove of the president by large margins — are a potential red flag for Republicans. At this point, what more can Republicans do to convince them to make up their minds? Mark Warner has been stuck in the high 40s/low 50s for several months now. In theory, Ed Gillespie should be making a race of it by now. Yet he remains mired in the high 30s (although he has closed the gap somewhat). There seems to be a substantial chunk of the Minnesota electorate that isn’t prepared to commit fully to Al Franken, yet isn’t excited about Mike McFadden.

If these voters ultimately opt disproportionately to stay home, it would transform an electorate where the president has a 42 percent job approval into one where he has a 46 percent job approval. This probably wouldn’t be enough to save the Senate: Democrats who trailed would still lose, albeit by small margins. But it would probably cap Republican gains in the House, and would probably transform an opportunity for a huge GOP night in the Senate into a modest wave of six or seven seats.

Is this what separates the GOP candidates with solid and consistent leads from the ones without? Is it that these low-motivation, Obama-disapproving voters see something in Cory Gardner in Colorado, Tom Cotton in Arkansas, and perhaps Joni Ernst in Iowa that they don’t see in Thom Tillis in North Carolina and Terri Lynn Land in Michigan? Or Gillespie and McFadden? Or Pat Roberts in Kansas and Scott Brown in New Hampshire? Yes, they’re all different candidates, running in different states and in different electorates.

Presuming Election Day follows the current polls — and obviously, polls in close races can be wrong — some will shoehorn the evidence to fit a narrative that “authentic conservatives” like Gardner, Cotton, and Ernst won while “establishment Republican” candidates like Tillis and Land lost.

To do this, you have to really blur your definitions of “establishment” and “conservative.” Gardner was first elected to office in 2005, and Cotton is a congressman.

Meanwhile, it’s hard to classify a first-time candidate, like Oregon GOP Senate candidate Monica Wehby, as part of any “establishment.” Georgia GOP Senate candidate David Perdue has never run for office before — but he’s been a successful executive, so Georgia Democrats are running the Romney playbook against him. (If you’re a successful businessman, do Obama-disapproving, low-motivation voters automatically perceive you as part of an “establishment”?)

And the man everyone classifies as part of the “establishment” — Senator Mitch McConnell — is looking pretty solid in Kentucky.

The shortest explanation is that the GOP Senate candidates who are doing best are just plain good candidates: good life experiences and résumés, good on the stump, good on television, good in debates, good at the little stops shaking hands and meeting people, and (mostly) good in interviews. Chalk it up to charisma, chalk it up to instinct, chalk it up to luck — and perhaps note that it helps to have a flawed opponent.

Life for Republicans would be a lot easier if nomination of an “authentic conservative” — or, for that matter, an “Establishment Republican” — guaranteed victory on Election Day. Unfortunately, the candidates in either category have to be good at campaigning.

Tags: Senate Republicans , 2014

A Good Morning for Charlie Crist, Cory Gardner & Tom Cotton


The good news for Democrats this morning:

A jump in support from independent likely voters in the Florida governor’s race leaves Democrat Charlie Crist with 43 percent, inches ahead of Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Scott with 40 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie has 8 percent, with 9 percent undecided.

The good news for Republicans this morning:

With strong support from men, U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, the Republican challenger in the Colorado U.S. Senate race, leads U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, the Democratic incumbent, 46 – 39 percent among likely voters, with 7 percent for independent candidate Steve Shogan, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Another 7 percent are undecided.

The other good news for Republicans this morning:

The 16th annual Arkansas Poll found an electorate more pessimistic about the direction of Arkansas and more optimistic about their personal future. Likely voters prefer Republican candidates, although a record significant gap divides male and female voters. Among very likely voters, Tom Cotton, the Republican candidate, maintains a significant lead over Democrat Mark Pryor, at 49 percent to 36 percent.

The ominous news for the country as a whole this morning:

The air strikes already ordered by President Barack Obama are supported by 76% of the public, a CNN/ORC International survey of 1,018 adults, conducted Oct. 24-26, found.

However, only 48% of those polled say the U.S. effort is going well — while 54% say they’re confident the strikes will degrade and destroy the military capability of ISIS. That figure is down from 61% last month. . . . Only 32% said they believe Obama has a clear plan for dealing with ISIS. Meanwhile, 59% said further acts of terrorism in the United States are likely over the next several weeks.

Tags: Charlie Crist , Cory Gardner , Tom Cotton

Hillary, Not That Invested in Saving Democrats This Year


From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Hillary, Too Busy Preparing to Pose for Vogue to Tape Ads for Vulnerable Democrats

There are a lot of reasons why Hillary Clinton is more vulnerable as a 2016 presidential candidate than the conventional wisdom thinks — although I suppose the conventional wisdom might be catching up.

Bloomberg News observes:

Though she’s traveled the country for Democrats, headlining rallies from Colorado to North Carolina, Clinton has not lent any of her star power to any televised campaign ads. It’s a strange discrepancy: While Clinton is one of — if not the most — requested surrogates for Democratic congressional campaigns, many seem far less seem eager to put her in their television ads.

Even the spot for Grimes, a long-time family friend of the Clintons, was online-only — a far less expensive proposition for a campaign than actually buying time to place an ad on television. And it used footage captured two weeks ago at a rally Clinton held for Grimes in Louisville, rather than any new video . . . 

Hillary Clinton’s spokespeople refused to comment on her ad appearances, or lack of them. But people close to the former first couple say they’ve been turning down requests from candidates to star in ads, fearing that if they cut a spot for one, they’d have to do them for everyone who asked. Those people say former President Bill Clinton is annoyed by several unauthorized usages of his image in ads.

So what is Hillary doing with her time these days, instead of cutting ads?

Is Hillary Clinton about to make her return to the cover of Vogue? Confidenti@l has learned that the presumed presidential candidate and Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour visited Michael Kors’ studio for a fitting. We’re told the power trio huddled in Kors’ office at his Bryant Park HQ, studying a “rack of clothes.” Clinton (l.), who was with longtime aide Huma Abedin and a person our spy describes as a “huge bodyguard,” has graced the cover of the fashion bible once before. She was on the December 1998 cover, in velvet Oscar de la Renta, as First Lady in a shoot by Annie Leibovitz. Last year at an opening for a de la Renta retrospective at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Ark., Wintour said, “All of us at Vogue look forward to putting on the cover the first female President of the United States.”

Democrats are on the verge of an awful midterm election, gobs of Democrats are hanging on by their fingernails, and Hillary’s getting ready to pose for Vogue. If you’re one of those dedicated, door-knocking, flyer-distributing rank-and-file grassroots Democrats, how does it feel to have a front-running nominee who’s less dedicated to electing members of your party than you are?

Like the giant speaking fees (for Chelsea too!), the gargantuan wealth built during a life in “public service,” and the backslapping deals at the Clinton Foundation, these little anecdotes add to the narrative that the Clintons are dedicated first and foremost to “Clintons Inc.” and to others — even political allies — second.

What’s working for Hillary this coming cycle is that it’s hard to see any of her potential rivals turning into the next Barack Obama. Even if there’s an argument to be made to Democratic presidential primary voters that Hillary is too old, too establishment, too tied to Washington, too tied to the Obama administration’s failures, not sufficiently connected of the party’s vengeful populist id the way Elizabeth Warren is . . . who, other than Warren, could come along and play Obama next year? Martin O’Malley? Brian Schweitzer? Joe Biden? Come on.

Tags: Hillary Clinton , Senate Democrats , 2016

‘Bibles and guns brought us here, and Bibles and guns will keep us here.’


Zach Dasher, that is one heck of an ad:

“Hey, Louisiana. Bibles and guns brought us here, and Bibles and guns will keep us here. Zach Dasher believes in ‘em both.”

Dasher has a bit of an “in” with his endorser; his maternal uncles are Phil and Si Robertson of the Duck Dynasty A&E television series. Dasher is running in the fifth congressional district.

Tags: Zach Dasher , Louisiana

While You Were Out, the Republican Wave Hit


Naturally, while I’m on a train with spotty wi-fi, the entire midterm-election landscape changes.

Okay, slight exaggeration, but some big news broke in the past few hours.

Every conservative you know is already buzzing about the Marquette Law School poll, putting Republican incumbent governor Scott Walker ahead, 50 percent to 43 percent over Democrat Mary Burke among likely voters. As we see on the Sean Trende chart, in recent cycles, a candidate with a 7-point lead, 7 days from Election Day, went on to win . . . 100 percent of the time. Perhaps Walker will be the big exception.

It’s pretty clear that in a cycle with some big gubernatorial races — Rick Scott vs. Charlie Crist in Florida, Bob Beauprez vs. John Hickenlooper in Colorado, Bruce Rauner vs. Pat Quinn in Illinois — the Wisconsin race had the biggest ramifications for 2016. Obviously, Walker is often mentioned as a potential GOP presidential candidate. And while liberal groups and unions may have failed in their recall-election effort, derailing his reelection bid would be a strong signal to other governors that public-sector-union pension reform and other parts of the Walker agenda could cost them their jobs.

You’ll recall that on that Sean Trende chart, a 4-percentage-point lead is when candidates’ chances for victory on Election Day hit 80 to 90 to 100 percent. Good news for Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst, whom Quinnipiac puts ahead by 4 points.

Also exciting Republicans from Quinnipiac, a poll from out in Colorado showing Beauprez ahead by 5 in the governor’s race.

Wait, there’s more. A Monmouth poll of Georgia’s races shows Republican David Perdue ahead, 49 percent to 41 percent, in the Senate race — close to the 50 percent threshold — and the GOP gubernatorial candidate, Nathan Deal, ahead, 48 percent to 42 percent. (Some are arguing that the proportion of African-Americans in the sample of that poll is too low.)

But just in case you’re feeling too good, Greg Orman continues to hold a small lead in the Kansas Senate race . . . 

Tags: Scott Walker , Joni Ernst , Bob Beauprez

Double-Check Your Final Ballot When You Vote!


Stories like this are just pouring gasoline on a fire:

The [Maryland Republican] party said Tuesday that it has received complaints from about 50 voters in 12 Maryland counties who say machines at early voting centers “flipped” their Republican votes to count toward Democratic candidates.

Marsha Epstein of Pikesville said she ran into the problem when she went to vote at the Reisterstown Senior Center’s Hannah More campus. She said she tried to vote for Republican Larry Hogan for governor but the machine recorded a vote for Democrat Anthony G. Brown.

Epstein said she pointed out the problem to an election judge, who told her to try again.

“I had to do it three times to keep it on Hogan,” Epstein said. She said she had no problems voting in the other races on the ballot. Voters from Howard and Harford counties called The Baltimore Sun to report similar problems.

William Childers of Havre de Grace said something similar happened to him when he cast his ballot Sunday at the Higher Education and Technology Center in Aberdeen. He said his vote for Hogan registered without a problem but when he tried to vote to re-elect Republican Rep. Andy Harris, that line lit up temporarily but then switched to Democratic challenger Bill Tilghman.

Maryland Democratic Party spokesman Jared Smith and Brown campaign manager Justin Schall said they were not aware of any similar concerns being raised by voters on their side.

I’ll bet.

State elections board officials said they had received reports that fewer than 20 machines statewide had displayed votes for candidates other than the ones the voters selected. Deputy administrator Nikki Baines Charlson said 12 had been tested and no problems had been found.

“These units are back in service because they couldn’t replicate it no matter how hard they tried,” Charlson said.

Another five were not tested because there was only one reported problem, she said. In three cases, Charlson said, machines were removed from service because of calibration problems — the place a voter touched did not line up with their intended votes.

As for the machines with only one reported problem . . . if there is a calibration error — and we’re assuming it’s only a “calibration error” — how can the elections-board officials know if other people had the same thing occur to their vote and didn’t notice?

But relax, Republicans. We’re only hearing stories about this happening in Maryland. And Illinois.

In this case, all turned out well for Jim Moynihan, who is running for State Representative in the 56th District.

Moynihan alerted an election judge and was allowed to cast a correct ballot on the first day of early voting in Illinois.

“He did what he is supposed to do by contacting the election judge,” said Cook County Clerk spokeswoman Courtney Greve.

The machine was taken out of service and Moynihan’s initial Democratic votes were never registered.

The issue is hardly widespread, with only 5 out 35,000 voters in suburban Cook County so far experiencing any issue, Greve said.

Again, even if the reports of machines switching votes are rare, how many are noticing? And elsewhere in Illinois:

Rock Island County Clerk Karen Kinney addressed concerns about her handling of absentee ballots after a judge ruled in her favor Monday.

Kinney’s office has been the target of a Republican Party attack that not only is she opening ballots early and counting them but that her voting machines are calibrated in such a way that switches votes from Republican to Democrat.

Rock Island County Circuit Judge Lori Lefstein denied the GOP’s emergency injunction on the counting of absentee ballots.

“There is nothing wrong in this office,” Kinney, a Democrat, said afterward.

Republican Bobby Schilling’s spokesman Jon Schweppe said he heard from 20 voters last week who tried to vote for a Republican when the Democratic choice was selected on the machine’s touch screen. Schilling is running against Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos.

Dave Weigel makes the argument this is not as nefarious as some believe:

Like every vote-rigging story, this led to a bureaucrat huffing about a “calibration error.” Occam’s razor: That’s what it is. If you’re going to rig a machine — and, for the record, you should not — you will not rig it to reveal its trickery while the voter is still watching. NBC’s briefly popular Heroes made this clear, revealing the wisdom of vote-rigging after the voters have left and the machines can be tampered with, preferably through the use of undetectable powers.

When will voters stop worrying about partisan forces stealing their elections? Likely never. Conspiracy theory research is clear about this; trust in the “establishment” is low, trust in government is lower, and voters are very willing to believe the worst about the people who want to run them. Until their candidates win. Then the election was probably fair.

I’d just note that recent experience tells us that it’s not unthinkable for government officials to behave in simultaneously malicious and incompetent manners.

Tags: Elections

‘War on Women’ Rhetoric Sounds Silly During an Actual War


From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt:

Now Added to the Anxious Pre-Election Landscape: Explosions, Hacking

American Electorate Status: Freaked the heck out. Next status: Private Hudson’s “Game over, man, game over!”

Freak-out Factor One:

An unmanned rocket that was to resupply the International Space Station blew up Tuesday night a few seconds after lift-off from Wallops Island, Va.

The Orbital Sciences rocket rose a short distance from the launch pad and then exploded in a ball of orange flame.

NASA confirmed that all personnel were accounted for, and there were no injuries in the explosion. However, it appeared that the explosion caused substantial damage on the ground in the launch area.

The cause of the explosion was not immediately known. But at lift-off, rockets are filled with highly volatile fuel.

CNN quoted a launch director as saying that the spacecraft contained “classified . . . equipment.” A crawl on the network’s coverage reported that the director had described the items as “crypto-equipment.”

Watch the video; the onlookers scream when they see and hear that secondary explosion. It’s probably an unfortunate tech failure inherent to the difficulties of getting enormous amounts of rocket fuel to ignite and generate thrust in the right way at the right time; launching a rocket is . . . well, rocket science.

But you know what was going through the minds of those people in that crowd: They hit us again.

Freak-out Factor Two: “Suspicious cyber activity has been detected on the computer network used by the White House and measures have been taken to address it, a White House official disclosed on Tuesday.”

So, is it easier to sneak into the White House, or the White House servers?

CNN’s Jim Acosta quoted a White House official: “Our computers and systems have not been damaged, though some elements of the unclassified network have been affected.” My, that’s a generic term and passive voice.

Freak-out Factor Three: Probably nothing . . . but we don’t know if the government is showing all of its cards in what it knows about ISIS, potential “lone wolves,” and/or other Islamist extremists in our midst. And that’s perfectly fine.

The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday announced heightened security measures at federal buildings in the District and nationwide, citing the recent shooting at the Canadian Parliament and threats from terrorist groups to attack the homeland.

DHS officials emphasized that the step was precautionary and not based on any intelligence about a specific terrorist plot. Rather, they said, the shootings in Canada and other events such as the ongoing U.S. bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria dictated that more security would be a wise measure. The increased security started over the weekend but was only announced Tuesday because of its sensitivity, they said.

Is it any wonder that Democrats “war on women” rhetoric sounds increasingly silly to the electorate, at a time when Americans sense that they are in an actual war with terrorists and others who seek to harm them?

Tags: War On Women , ISIS

Are You a U.S. Citizen? Take Your Time on This Question.


Also in today’s Jolt, a key update to Friday’s story about a study suggesting that large numbers of non-citizens vote in U.S. elections:

Maybe Not Quite So Many Non-Citizen Votes After All?

The Washington Post’s Monkey Blog returns to the topic of non-citizen voting, and collects the evidence suggesting that the shocking report from Friday may be inaccurate. Apparently it is surprisingly easy for some people to forget whether they’re U.S. citizens or not.

Nearly one-fifth of CCES panelists who said that they were not American citizens in 2012 actually reported being American citizens when they were originally surveyed for the 2010 CCES. Since it’s illogical for non-citizens in 2012 to have been American citizens back in 2010, it appears that a substantial number of self-reported non-citizens inaccurately reported their (non)citizenship status in the CCES surveys.

Even more problematic, misreported citizenship status was most common among respondents who claimed to be non-citizen voters. The second table below shows that 41 percent of self-reported non-citizen voters in the 2012 CCES reported being citizens back in 2010. The table goes on to show that 71 percent of respondents, who said that they were both 2012 non-citizens and 2010 voters, had previously reported being citizens of the United States in the 2010 CCES.

How does one forget something like that?

Is it that the respondents aren’t taking the survey seriously? Do they check one box when they meant to check another?

And even if the error rate among respondents is considerable, it doesn’t explain all of the respondents who said they were non-citizens who voted in either 2008 or 2010. (Also remember that this only counts people who admitted to the pollster that they were non-citizens and voted illegally; it’s quite possible some non-citizens did so and didn’t want to admit they did.)

The survey said it had 339 non-citizen respondents in 2008 and 489 in 2010. Assume that half of the respondents are confused about their citizenship status, joking, or marking the wrong response, and this would halve the numbers in their conclusions: about 7 percent of non-citizens registered to vote, 3.2 percent of non-citizens voting in 2008 and and 1.1 percent of non-citizens voting in 2010.

That’s still a lot. The commonly cited figure is that there are 11 to 12 million illegal immigrants in this country, and 13.1 million legal permanent residents living in the U.S. (green-card holders).

If 3.2 percent of those 24 million non-citizens are voting in a presidential year, that amounts to 768,000 votes that are illegal and should not be counted.

If 1.1 percent of those 24 million non-citizens are voting in a midterm election year, that amounts to 264,000 votes that are illegal and should not be counted.

Tags: Illegal Immigration , Voter Fraud

A Possible Election Night Surprise: A GOP House Win in Nevada


Here’s a good example of the kind of down-ticket surprise we might see on Election Night: Representative Steven Horsford is a first-term Democrat representing Nevada’s fourth district, a new district created when the state gained a seat after the census.

As Wikipedia summarizes,

Located in the central portion of the state, [the fourth district] includes most of northern Clark County, part of Lyon County, and all of Esmeralda, Lincoln, Mineral, Nye and White Pine counties. Although the district appears rural, more than four-fifths of the district’s population lives in Clark County, and it is a majority-minority district.

It scored a D+4 in the Cook Partisan Voting Index. It is, by just about every definition, a tough district for a Republican to win. State assemblyman Crescent Hardy is the GOP nominee in this congressional race.

Jon Ralston, the journalist who covers Nevada politics more thoroughly than anybody else, examines the early voting numbers and concludes, “the numbers are devastating for Rep. Steven Horsford.”

According to numbers from the Nevada secretary of state through October 27, 104,809 votes have been cast in Clark County — that’s both in-person early voting and absentee ballots returned. 44,274 are from registered Republicans; 42,836 are from registered Democrats. Another 17,699 are from unaffiliated or other-party voters.

So that’s a 1,400-or-so-vote lead for the GOP in the part of the district that is the Democratic stronghold.

Here’s how the early vote breaks down from the other counties that are partially or entirely in this congressional district:

Lyon: 840 Democrats, 2,201 Republicans, 594 other — a 1,361-vote margin for the GOP.

Esmeralda: 16 Democrats, 52 Republicans, 17 other — a 36-vote margin for the GOP.

Lincoln: 77 Democrats, 161 Republicans, 34 other — an 84-vote margin for the GOP.

Nye: 1,145 Democrats, 2,192 Republicans, 792 other — a 1,047-vote margin for the GOP.

White Pine: 283 Democrats, 409 Republicans, 126 other — a 126-vote margin for the GOP.

The congressional-district lines don’t align perfectly with the county lines, so it wouldn’t be accurate to say that Hardy leads in this election by 4,092 votes. We also don’t know how the independent vote is splitting. But if 4,000 more registered Republicans vote than registered Democrats in the district’s counties, it’s a very good sign for the GOP candidate.

Tags: Steven Horsford , Cresent Hardy , Nevada

The Forecast Gets Clearer: A Big, but Uneven, GOP Wave


You look at a poll result like this one from this morning from the Washington Post . . . 

When asked whether they will vote for the Democrat or the Republican for the House in their districts, 50 percent of likely voters say Republican and 44 percent say Democrat . . . 

In many respects the potential 2014 electorate looks much like that of 2010, based on a comparison with the exit polls from four years ago. More than 9 in 10 Democrats and Republicans again say they plan to vote for the House candidate of their party next week. Among independents, Republicans hold a sizable advantage, as they did four years ago. Men favor Republicans by double digits, while women favor Democrats by mid-single digits.

. . . and you begin to suspect that on Election Night, we’re going to see some surprises.

It may be down-ticket; back in 2010, 22 state legislative chambers changed majority control — all in the direction of the GOP.

Governing magazine says there are fewer state legislatures that could flip than in past cycles — but the ones that could flip are mostly currently controlled by Democrats.

Of the 11 chambers at risk for the Democrats, seven are rated either tossup or lean Republican. The Democratic-held chamber that leans Republican is the New Hampshire House, thanks to a GOP-friendly redistricting map. The seven Democratic-held tossup chambers are: the Colorado Senate, the Iowa Senate, the Nevada Senate, the New Mexico House, the West Virginia House and two new additions, the Kentucky House and the Minnesota House. The remaining at-risk chambers are currently rated lean Democratic: the Colorado House, the Maine Senate, and the Oregon Senate.

Meanwhile, among GOP-held chambers, there’s currently only one that’s a tossup, the New York Senate. Another six Republican-held chambers are leaning Republican: the Arkansas House, the Iowa House, the New Hampshire Senate, the Washington state Senate, the Wisconsin Senate, and one newly classified lean Republican chamber, the Michigan House.

Looking at that list above, Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, and maybe Oregon have a competitive U.S. Senate or governor’s race. The top-of-the-ticket races in the other states are lopsided snoozers, or, in the cases of Nevada and Washington state, there is no U.S. Senate or governor’s race.

The state attorneys-general races are another group of low-profile, high-consequence offices; our John Fund looked at them a few days ago. Fewer voters know about or pay attention to their state’s attorney-general race, and they are probably more inclined to vote the party in those races. If I were a Democratic state attorney-general candidate in, say, Nevada or New Mexico, I would be extremely worried about Democrats’ lack of interest in this year’s elections.

Tags: State Legislatures , Attorneys General , 2014 Midterms

Colorado’s Early Vote Through Monday: 42.8 Percent Republicans, 32.4 Percent Democrats


From the Tuesday Morning Jolt:

What the Gardner and Tillis Campaigns Are Thinking Right Now

I talked to a consultant who’s plugged in to the Republican Party’s efforts in the Senate races in Colorado and North Carolina.

For obvious reasons, he’s feeling good about Cory Gardner’s effort in Colorado, noting that Republicans continue to hold a big lead in early voting.

The October 27 numbers for early voting indicate that the returned ballots are 42.8 percent from registered Republicans, 32.4 percent from registered Democrats, and 26.9 percent from voters who are unaffiliated. In 2010, Republicans led the early vote 39.5 percent to 33.6 percent over Democrats.

In terms of raw numbers, 281,638 registered Republicans have voted so far, 213,738 Democrats, and 163,311 unaffiliated.

This consultant said that unlike with Ken Buck in 2010, the Republican base is rock-solid with Gardner, more than 90 percent of Republicans supporting him. (According to CNN’s exit poll, Buck won 89 percent of self-identified Republicans, while Democrat Michael Bennet won 94 percent of Democrats.) Udall is getting 90 percent of Democrats, and the independents break slightly to Udall; as noted before, Colorado independents are more Democratic-leaning than in other states.

He doesn’t expect Republicans to keep the ten-point lead throughout early voting, but he says it’s good place to be in at this stage of the early vote. The final turnout number should be somewhere around 2 million, not 2.3 million – so with 657,000 votes cast, close to a third of the vote is already in.

In North Carolina, the outlook for Thom Tillis has brightened somewhat. After he consistently trailed by about three points through most of September and early October, Tillis and incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan are tied in the latest NBC News/Marist poll and the latest Survey USA poll.

This consultant thinks that the ads from liberal outside groups in favor of Hagan may actually be backfiring. A key part of Hagan’s message for this reelection bid is to emphasize – or at least claim – her centrism, her independence, her willingness to defy the liberal party line. Then the airwaves are suddenly full of ads touting Hagan and attacking Tillis from the political action funds of . . . Planned Parenthood, the League of Conservation Voters, and unions’ groups.

“That’s the comparison we wanted!” the consultant chuckles. “Conservative vs. liberal is a better split for us than Republican vs. Democrat. ‘Conservative senator’ is the runaway favorite in what voters wanted, and Hagan had been trying to insist she’s a conservative. And now all these liberal groups are coming in [trying to reelect Hagan]. They don’t realize that it’s a dog whistle to independent voters.”

This consultant does have one or two variables keeping him up at night.

“We definitely need our ground game to work,” he says. “It’s been reinvented a lot since 2012. If they can turn out more low-propensity Democrats than they did in 2010, then we need to turn out more low-propensity Republicans this cycle than we did in 2010. There’s a really big opportunity here to win a lot of Senate seats. To do that, it doesn’t have to be a climate like 2010, but it needs to be close to that.”

Overall, this consultant suggests that the disappointing early vote numbers for Democrats in other states reflect that there are “a few” members of that party who are now begrudgingly recognizing that the Obama approach hasn’t worked. “It’s hard to generate enthusiasm for something that isn’t working,” he says, listing ISIS, Ebola, and the border crisis as “new and fresh reminders no one is running the shop.” Throw in the VA and the awful launch of Obamacare, and voters are concluding, “maybe these people just aren’t good at government.”

Tags: Cory Gardner , Thom Tillis , North Carolina , Colorado , Early Voting

Florida Democrat on Early Voting So Far: ‘This Is Horrible.’


This is not what Florida Democrats wanted to read after the first weekend of early voting:

South Florida in-person early voting turnout might have been relatively lighter than expected this weekend, but Democrats for the first time this election still topped Republicans in pre-Election Day ballot casting at the polls in the entire state.

But, thanks to strong vote-by-mail absentee ballot returns, Republicans still lead Democrats in overall early voting: 138,572 of the more than 1.8 million ballots cast as of this morning. In relative terms, the GOP is up 7.6 percentage points.

This is a slight improvement for Democrats over an earlier report that suggested it was time to panic:

Some Democrats are starting to panic. It’s an understandable feeling. Mid-term election turnout in the big three urban counties is historically abysmal, which is a major reason why Republicans hold every statewide elected office but one.

This is a warning sign for Democrat Charlie Crist.

“This is horrible,” one South Florida consultant told me.

We’ve heard a lot about Democrats’ various get-out-the-vote efforts. In 2012, they indisputably kicked Republicans’ tails up and down the block in terms of bringing their base voters out. But so far in quite a few states, the early-vote turnout for them ranges from barely okay to disastrous. We’re seeing it in places like Nevada, with no big statewide race, and in places like Florida, where you would figure a hard-fought, closely matched governor’s race would stir some interest, if not excitement. Then again, maybe this reflects a factor unique to the Sunshine State; perhaps Florida Democrats can’t get all that excited about voting for Charlie Crist, since they spent much of the past decade voting against him when he was a Republican.

Tags: Florida , Charlie Crist , Rick Scott

Tough to See a Clear ‘Weh’ to Victory in New Mexico


You’re seeing some Republicans buzzing about the new poll out in New Mexico showing Democratic senator Tom Udall was backed by 50 percent of likely voters in a new Journal Poll on New Mexico’s U.S. Senate race, but Republican challenger Allen Weh at 43 percent. That’s a nice jump for Weh, as Udall led by 13 in the last poll, and the gap was 18 points back in August.

While I’d love to say Weh has a . . . “way” to victory, what we’re seeing here is Weh, a dramatically underfunded challenger, reaching the usual level of support for a Republican in a New Mexico U.S. Senate race. In 2012, Heather Wilson lost the New Mexico Senate race, 51 percent to 45 percent, to Democrat Martin Heinrich. Back in 2008, as Obama was winning the state in the presidential election, Udall beat GOP congressman Steve Pearce, 61 percent to 38 percent. You can find additional factors that may make this one even closer — midterm-year turnout instead of presidential-year turnout, the gloomy national mood, the low motivation of Democrats this cycle, and perhaps even coattails from Governor Susana Martinez, set for a big win — but history tells us that candidates trailing by 7 or more percentage points this close to Election Day almost never win.

An Alleh Weh win over Tom Udall would be on par with some of the all-time Republicans upsets — up there with George Nethercutt beating House Speaker Tom Foley in 1994, or Dan Rostenkowski’s defeat that same year.

Tags: Allen Weh , Tom Udall


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