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The Campaign Spot

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

Thom Tillis Wins in North Carolina!



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Wow. Just . . . wow!

Guess that last-minute radio ad didn’t work, huh?

“Thanks a lot, pal.”

Tags: Thom Tillis

HERE COMES THE RED WAVE!



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WAVE STATUS: Achieved.

Wins from the expected trio of Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia, and then . . . 

That’s six, giving Republicans 51 votes. As for those efforts by Democrats to win GOP-held seats . . . 

Virginia is likely to go to a recount; Ed Gillespie either won or (more likely) came unbelievably close to knocking off a heavily favored Democratic incumbent.

Despite early reports Hagan won — and my premature criticism of the Tillis campaign on The Blaze earlier tonight — he’s still ahead.

Still awaiting Alaska and the Louisiana runoff.

Rick Scott wins in Florida. Scott Walker wins in Wisconsin.

Tags: Midterms

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The Shocker: GOP Primary Voters Outpaced Democrat Primary Voters in Virginia’s Early Vote



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The polls in Virginia are now closed. For those wondering what this tweet referred to, I am told that Virginia Republicans examined the early vote — absentee ballot by mail and in-person absentee. This is a small portion of the overall vote, just 118,218 votes — but it’s an interesting indicator of which side is mobilizing its voters, etc. If turnout is in the 40 to 45 percent range — the usual midterms — that will amount to 2 million to 2.35 million votes.

Virginia does not register voters by party, but you can get a sense of which way a person leans by checking back and seeing which party primary they voted in in the past few cycles. This review of the early vote revealed a six-percentage-point advantage for voters who usually vote in Republican primaries over voters who usually vote in Democratic primaries. My source couldn’t recall this kind of a split ever happening.

There was a separate rumor that a Virginia college that does polls had planned to release their final survey Monday. When the poll showed Ed Gillespie ahead by 3 points, the pollsters concluded the survey had to be wrong and didn’t release it.

I was also told RNC internals had Warner ahead by just one point last week.

Does this point to a Gillespie win? Not quite. But it points to a much, much closer race than the autumn polling and conventional wisdom suggested.

The night’s dark horse?

UPDATE: Then again . . . 

Tags: Virginia

Mitch McConnell Wins. Now He Can Smile.



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To the surprise of no one, other than those who were writing those glowing profiles of Alison Lundergan Grimes as the next Great Democratic Rural Hope earlier this year, Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell is reelected to the Senate.

Tags: Mitch McConnell

Obama’s Iffy ‘Worst States Since Eisenhower’ Excuse



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Over in the Corner, our Brendan Bordelon reports that President Obama appears to be preparing his party for the worst, declaring that “in this election cycle this is probably the worst possible group of states for Democrats since Dwight Eisenhower.”

Eh, not really, Mr. President.

Yes, it’s a tough break for Democrats that they had to deal with retirements in three states that voted against Obama twice – Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia. But they thought they had a decent shot at Montana this cycle with appointed senator John Walsh — until he ended his election bid after his plagiarism scandal. Democrats told themselves they had a shot in South Dakota’s three-way race, too, but that was mostly a blip in the polls.

Yes, there are vulnerable incumbent Democrats in states Obama lost twice: Mark Begich in Alaska, Mark Pryor in Arkansas, and Mary Landrieu in Louisiana. But Landrieu has survived runoffs before.

But several of the GOP’s most important pickup opportunities are in states that Obama won twice: Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Virginia. North Carolina is a split state that Obama won in 2008 and lost in 2012.

Obama can gripe that no blue-state Republicans retired, creating golden opportunities for a Democratic pickup, but this is largely because because in 2008, almost every blue-state Republican was wiped out in the Obama wave, other than Susan Collins.

Tags: Barack Obama

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How Serious Are the ‘Irregularities’ in Virginia Beach?



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You’re going to hear more reports about voting machines that won’t allow a voter to cast a ballot for a particular party or candidate — such as this example from Virginia Beach, where the machine seems to insist the voter cast a ballot for Democrat Suzanne Patrick instead of Republican incumbent Scott Rigell. (Note that above, the voter seemed to vote for Ed Gillespie with no problem.)

Hard to explain that away as a voter “dragging their thumb” across the other option. And apparently it’s more than one machine:

Officials with Rep. Scott Rigell’s campaign said Tuesday afternoon that the number of precincts experiencing problems with voting machines in the 2nd District has increased to 37 locations, nearly double the number from earlier in the day.

Those locations are Alanton, Arrowhead, Bayside, Birneck, Bonney, Cape Henry, Centerville, Chimney Hill, Colonial, Colony, Courthouse, Culver, Dahlia, Great Neck, Homestead, Hunt, Kingston, Lafayette, Lake Christoper, Larkspur, Linkhorn, London Bridge, Lynnhaven, Manor, North Beach, Ocean Lakes, Pleasant Hall, Rock lack, Rosement Forest, Seatack, Shelton Park, Sherry Park, Sigma, Stratford Chase, Tallwood, Upton and Witchduck.

As mentioned in the Morning Jolt, this does happen to Democrats, too, every once in a while.

For Those Who Insist Faulty Voting Machines Never Help the GOP

SkyNet is doing its part for a Republican-controlled Senate . . . are you? Out in North Carolina:

Percy Bostick, 69, of Greensboro said he tried casting a vote for Democrat Kay Hagan at the Old Guilford County Courthouse, only to have the machine register Republican Thom Tillis as his choice.

“I called one of the poll workers over,” Bostick said. “She said do it again. And again, I touched the screen at the proper place for Kay Hagan, and it again reported it for Thom Tillis.”

On his fourth attempt, the machine registered the vote for Hagan. Another poll worker decided to cancel the ballot altogether and directed Bostick to an adjacent machine, where he was able to cast his ballot without any issues.

The problematic machine was taken out of service.

On Wednesday, another voter had reported a similar problem at the Craft Recreation Center. In that case, the voter also tried selecting Hagan but saw the machine had recorded him as choosing Tillis.

He also was moved to another machine, which registered his selections without any problem.

“HAL, I’d like you to process my vote for Kay Hagan.”
I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
“What’s the matter, HAL?”
“I’m afraid that’s something I cannot allow to happen.”
“HAL, count my vote for Kay Hagan!”
“This conversation cannot serve any purpose anymore.”

Tags: Voter Fraud , Scott Rigell

Virginia’s Turnout Appears to Be Around 2010 Levels



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Ed Gillespie’s campaign is sending around this video of Andrea Mitchell saying Democrats are “nervous” about the race in Virginia.

And today we got the first piece of information that should probably unnerve Mark Warner:

That’s a drop from 10 percent of registered voters to 2 percent. That’s slightly better than 2010 in raw numbers but still a pretty big drop-off.

Yes, turnout in a midterm election is always significantly lower than presidential years; Virginia had 44 percent turnout in 2010 (with no gubernatorial or Senate races) and 66 percent in 2012. Yes, Virginia is a state where a voter needs to offer a reason for voting early or absentee, but it’s hardly a Draconian enforcement of proof of travel or other commitments.

Here’s how Virginians voted in 2010, in those House-only races:

Gillespie’s still an underdog, but low turnout leaves a less steep climb in front of him.

Tags: Virginia , Ed Gillespie , Mark Warner

Colorado GOP Turns Out 61.1% of Its Registered Members, Democrats Turn Out 51.5%



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A Colorado reader digests the latest early-voting numbers:

Dems had better get a huge turnout advantage on election day.  If the election were based on the votes through yesterday afternoon, they would need to carry Independents by 65-35 to make up the difference (now, I realize that some GOP voters will go Dem, and Dem voters will go GOP, so this might not be completely accurate, but it’s close).

To put this in perspective, according to the SoS numbers as of the end of October, here is what voter registration looks like:

Total:   2,986,362

GOP       966,082  (32.3%)

Dem:      913,246  (30.5%)

So, 49 percent of registered voters have already voted. When pundits project 2.1M voters in Colorado, that would mean 70.3 percent turnout. That seems awfully high in a non-presidential year. So, yesterday I said that perhaps 2/3 have already voted, but it may be higher than that.

Interjection from Jim: This is the first year Colorado has used vote-by-mail, so we should expect turnout to be significantly higher than in past cycles. Oregon enjoyed turnout of 70 percent (2006) to 86 percent (2004) in its elections.

GOP turnout percentage is +8.1 points, while Dem turnout is +1.6 points.

GOP has turned out 61.1% of its registered voters, Dems have turned out 51.5%, while Others is much lower, at 36.4%.  So, could we be looking at an election where (i) both the GOP and Dems do pretty well with turnout of their respective voters, (ii) GOP does better by 5-10 points (in % of RVs turned out) because the GOP is more motivated (we’ve seen numbers in this range in polling of voter enthusiasm), and (iii) the Independents don’t turn out at nearly the same rate, and their turnout is much more in line with what one would expect for a mid-term election, or at a time when neither party is terribly well liked?

One figure working for the Republicans in Colorado: “Mail ballots have to arrive by 7:00 on election night. It doesn’t matter when they’re post-marked.” In some other states, such as Iowa, ballots will be accepted in the days after the election if they were postmarked one day before the election.

Colorado also permits residents to register to vote today and cast legal ballots.

Tags: Colorado

The Fickle Perception of ‘Desperation’



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There’s also a tendency to interpret every move made by the opposing party as “if they’re doing this, they must be desperate!” which is hard to distinguish from “if they’re doing this, they want to win.” Last night a few conservatives expressed glee that Senator Kay Hagan was using a radio ad featuring President Obama, appearing to contradict her effort to distance herself from Obama, who is unpopular in her home state of North Carolina.

Hagan may indeed be “desperate,” as the polls are very close. But an equally likely explanation is that using the Obama robocall on the last day means there’s no time for the Thom Tillis campaign, a GOP committee, or a conservative group to spotlight the call and emphasize Hagan’s lockstep support for the president and his policies.

Tags: Campaign Ads

Don’t Overestimate Those Eleventh-Hour Scandals



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Color me skeptical that eleventh-hour scandals or news stories have a significant impact on Election Day.

Yes, we all recall the revelation of President George W. Bush’s DUI in the final days before the 2000 election. But that was a particularly effective “October Surprise”: Americans want to feel a sense of connection and trust with their president, and learning that Bush’s past drinking problem had had more serious consequences — and that he had not shared this with the public — shook just enough voters to turn the 2000 election in the overtime drama it was.

In the past day or two, we’ve seen new stories about the possibility that North Carolina Democrat Kay Hagan and her family improperly benefited from stimulus spending, and contending that New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen is more directly tied to the IRS scandal than previously thought.

In theory, a story like this suggesting that Hagan and Shaheen aren’t just partisan hacks but corrupt and/or vindictive may energize Republican voters a bit. But let’s face it, how many Republican voters in a state like New Hampshire or North Carolina, after months and months of a hard-fought campaign and fortunes’ worth of political advertising, weren’t fired up before these stories? Considering the administration’s record, previous scandals, policies, and these senators’ lockstep support of the president, Republicans in these states should be more fired up than the Human Torch.

How many independents will decide based on something like this? How many were certain to vote, yet still undecided, and will be motivated to vote for Tillis or Brown because of these stories?

Having said that, the polls in Oregon did detect a slight shift away from the Democratic incumbent governor John Kitzhaber after scandals surrounding his fiancée — but Democrats may be more eager to express disapproval by responding to a pollster than through their actual vote.

One big reason that an eleventh-hour scandal or revelation can’t make a huge impact is early voting. Already 1.1 million voters in North Carolina have cast their ballots; New Hampshire does not have early voting.

Tags: Kay Hagan , Jeanne Shaheen

The Silver Lining of Any Senate Race Runoffs



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Assuming either or both Senate races go to a runoff, how do you think voters in Louisiana and/or Georgia will respond to President Obama issuing an executive-order quasi-amnesty for illegal immigrants? Do you think Mary Landrieu and Michelle Nunn are hoping Obama will announce it quickly? Do you think Bill Cassidy and David Perdue would appreciate the extra passion and fury added to the Republican grassroots?

Note that at least so far, the form of executive-order-amnesty discussed has been to issue “safe harbor from deportation and work permits” for one million to four million illegal immigrants, not full citizenship so it would not change the makeup of the electorate in Louisiana and Georgia for the runoffs. The number of illegal immigrants voting in those states would be . . . well, no more than usual.

“Not now, Mr. President!”

Tags: Illegal Immigration , Runoffs , Georgia , Louisiana

The Morning Roundup of Some Early-Voting Numbers . . .



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From the Election Day edition of the Morning Jolt:

A Quick Roundup of Some Early-Voting Numbers . . . 

Colorado

Let me blow your mind: As of the afternoon of Monday, November 3, an astounding 1,463,766 voters had returned ballots in Colorado. Out of that total, 590,653 are registered Republicans; 469,900 are registered Democrats.

That’s a 40.3 percent to 32.1 percent split in favor of the GOP and a 120,753-vote margin. That’s amazing.

If you have a hand in Colorado GOP’s get-out-the-early-vote efforts, I want to shake your hand.

Georgia

It’s just one “exit poll” of early voters, but it sounds pretty plausible and in line with late general polling:

The Hicks Evaluation Group and Apache Political conducted an exit poll of early voters in Georgia about their selection in three statewide races: US Senate, Governor and State Superintendent of Schools. The survey found both Deal and Perdue in the lead and with slightly more than 50 percent of the vote and Richard Wood with a slight lead over Democratic Nominee Valarie Wilson in the race for Georgia’s top educator. Both Democratic candidates, Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter are within striking distance, however, it appears that support for the Libertarian candidates is falling and coalescing around Republicans.

“This survey is positive and troubling for both parties. What we are seeing is regular voters voting early, not new voters. This shows that the faithful in Georgia still lean Republican, but to a much smaller degree than in the past,” said lead pollster and President of the Hicks Evaluation Group, Fred Hicks.

Georgia has good news, bad news, more good news, and perhaps more bad news for Republicans. The good news is Perdue is leading. That bad news is that reaching 50 percent is a tall order with the Libertarian candidate in the mix. The good news is that Perdue will be heavily favored in the runoff. The last bit of bad news is that if Republicans need Georgia to get control of the Senate, they’ll have to wait until January 6.

Iowa

Don’t you love the inevitable “your early vote is just your base that would have voted anyway, while our early vote is a demonstration of our ability to motivate new voters” arguments?

As of Thursday, Democrats held a narrow lead over Republicans in early voting: 40.9 percent to 39.2 percent, also according to the United States Election Project.

Iowa Republicans are encouraged by those results because historically, Democrats lead early voting by a much wider margin. Republicans credit their success to a concerted effort to prioritize early voting, arguing GOP voters are more motivated to turn out for Ernst than Democrats are for Bruce Braley.

But Democrats say they remain confident. Iowa Democratic Party Communications Director Christine Freundlich said the GOP’s “reliable voters who vote on Election Day are now just voting early” instead.

North Carolina

At first glance, this looks astonishingly dark for Thom Tillis . . . 

Registered Democrats made up 48 percent of all early voters, Republicans 32 percent, and unaffiliated voters comes in at 20 percent.

A total of 1.1 million people took part in early voting.

Jay Cost makes the argument that the early vote actually looks ominous for Hagan — for example, 52 percent are above age 60 (!) and another 29 percent are 45 to 60. In short, that’s a very gray electorate in North Carolina so far. In 2012, Romney carried the 65-and-older vote in North Carolina, 64 percent to 35 percent. The 45-to-64 vote split for Romney 53 percent to 47 percent. Just 5.1 percent of the early vote is 29 or younger.

There are still a lot of votes coming today, though. In 2010, 2.6 million people voted in North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race.

Tags: Early Voting , 2014 Midterms

Following the State Polling Averages in the Governor’s Race



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As lot of 2014’s biggest gubernatorial races are exceptionally close, featuring front-runners with current margins that are less than 2 points. If we apply the same “the statewide polling averages are usually right” philosophy to the governor’s races, we find . . . 

Wisconsin: This is the single most consequential race for 2016 — both for Scott Walker’s presidential ambitions and for the lesson to other governors of the consequences of public-sector union-reform efforts. Yes, liberal groups lost the recall battle, but this is their second bite at the apple. Walker has led three of the last four polls, including the Marquette University poll, which had him ahead by 7 points. Walker should win, but the ceiling for a Republican in Wisconsin is probably about 51 or 52 percent.

Alabama: Republican Robert Bentley will win by a wide margin.

Arizona: Expect Republican Doug Ducey to win fairly handily, outside the margin of error.

Arkansas: Republicans pick up a previously Democrat-held governor’s mansion; since spring, Asa Hutchison has steadily led Democrat Mike Ross.

Alaska: Independent Bill Walker has led most of the polling this fall over Republican incumbent Sean Parnell. Insert all standard caveats about Alaska polling, but an incumbent governor polling in the low 40s is usually in trouble.

Colorado: If Republicans really have a 110,000-or-so-vote margin in the early vote, that should be a good sign for Bob Beauprez. Hickenlooper is ahead by half a point in the RealClearPolitics average, but this is one area I might make an exception to my “follow the polling average” rule for this year and pick Beauprez.

Connecticut: Incumbent Democrat Dannel Malloy — perhaps the nation’s worst governor — who loathes National Review, has been neck-and-neck with Republican Tom Foley, but Malloy has narrowly led the last three polls. My heart wants Foley to win, but my head sees Malloy eking it out.

Florida: Republican incumbent Rick Scott has fought hard and long, and three of the past five polls show a tie. I’d much rather see Scott win, but Crist is my predicted winner, as he has a modest, modest lead in the RCP average. This is one where the other result wouldn’t be the least bit surprising.

Georgia: Republican Nathan Deal has a good but not great chance of avoiding a runoff and hitting 50 percent. If he does not meet that threshold, he will be the heavy favorite in the runoff.

Hawaii: Weird polling in the Aloha State has Democrat David Ige ahead by 1 point, 12 points, 32 points, or 6 points. Look for Republican Duka Aiona to keep it close, but for the Democrat to emerge victorious.

Illinois: If Democrat incumbent Pat Quinn wins, it will be a stunning comeback and a testament to the Democratic machine in Illinois. Bruce Rauner had a fantastic opportunity, and may yet pull off the victory. But with a small lead of eight-tenths of a percentage point in the RCP average, Quinn is the pick.

Kansas: A near-terrific comeback by Republican incumbent Sam Brownback, who trailed considerably for much of August and September. Democrat Paul Davis leads by 2.3 points in the RCP average, and the media will treat his victory as the single most consequential and symbolic race of the cycle.

Maine: Incumbent Republican Paul LePage is hanging on by 1.4 points in the RealClearPolitics average, boosted by a Portland Press Herald poll that put him up 10. LePage is the favorite in the three-way race.

Massachusetts: The Massachusetts Republican Pparty just unveiled its sure-fire way to win every statewide race, forever: Have its members write in “Martha Coakley” in every Democratic primary for the rest of time. Charlie Baker is the predicted winner.

Michigan: The polls in this state bounced around a bit, but incumbent Republican Rick Snyder enjoys a small lead in five of the past six polls. Snyder is the predicted winner.

Maryland: Perhaps the most surprisingly tight race, and there are some Republicans murmuring that an upset is possible, but the polls point to a closer-than-usual win for Democrat Anthony Brown.

Minnesota: Incumbent Democrat Mark Dayton led Republican Jeff Johnson throughout the campaign; Johnson should make it closer but still a Dayton win.

Oregon: Late scandals added some suspense, but at this point there’s no indication that Republican Dennis Richardson will beat Democrat John Kitzhaber.

Rhode Island: Republican Allen Fung is running quite well for a Republican in a heavily Democratic state, but Democrat Gina Raimondo should win, perhaps narrowly.

South Carolina: Incumbent Republican Nikki Haley wins easily.

Texas: The real fun question in this race is whether Wendy Davis finishes with more than 40 percent. She doesn’t deserve to finish that high.

Tags: Midterms , Polling , Governors Races

The Ad Was a National Laughingstock, but It Wasn’t Cheap!



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The buried lede in Sean Davis’ piece on NARAL’s ad suggesting that Cory Gardner would ban the Pill and create a statewide shortage of condoms: “The next day, on October 28, NARAL spent $238,464.67 on the anti-Cory Gardner radio ad.”

Almost a quarter of a million dollars for that awful ad? Time to form an ad-production company!

The television version:

Tags: NARAL

Witnessing Election Shenanigans? There’s an App for That.



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Catherine Engelbrecht of True the Vote, appearing on NRANews.com on Monday, said:

Our election system presumes honorable activity, and it presumes ethical behavior [among participants]. . . . As you look at some groups have intentionally subverted the process, like ACORN, these elections can be won and lost by these special interest groups exploiting the weaknesses. If citizens don’t show up, then the process goes to those who show up. And unfortunately it’s these special interest groups with interests beyond making sure the people’s voices are heard.

Engelbrecht urged people concerned about voter fraud to volunteer as poll workers whenever possible, although the deadline to perform that role on this Election Day has passed in most or all localities.

Her organization has unveiled the VoteStand app to report incidents of voter fraud, electioneering in polling places, or other suspicious behavior at polling place across the country.

Tags: Voter Fraud , Elections

The Hard Lesson: Statewide Poll Averages Are Usually Right.



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The great revelation of the phenomenally popular Nate Silver is his observation that the polls — particularly the state poll averages — are usually right. Right before Election Day 2012 I went through the recent history of polls, and there were some glaringly bad cases, such as Zogby’s results in 2004 and the mess at Research 2000. But pollsters have attempted to account for low response rates, the possibility that some groups may be less inclined to talk to a pollster, cell-phone-only households, and so on. Conservatives — probably including myself in the past — may have developed a too-skeptical view of modern polling, and built the habit of looking for reasons they could be wrong, rather than recognize that the election isn’t going the way we hoped.

The notion that the polls are usually right, and the bigger the lead, the more certain they are, is pretty obvious. If you lead by 4 points or more, you’re in really solid shape. If you lead by 2 to 4 points, you’re in pretty good shape, but not quite a lock. If you lead by 0 to 2 points, it’s shakier.

By the time you get to just a 2-percentage-point lead in the statepoll averages, you have a 75 percent chance of winning the state.

The fact that it is possible for there to be an upset does not mean you should expect, count on, or fear upsets.

With that in mind, the Campaign Spot 2014 Midterm Senate projections:

SENATE

Let’s get the Republican holds out of the way:

Kentucky: Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell is going to win. But you knew this already.

Georgia: Here’s the good news for Republicans. David Perdue has led 6 of the past 7 polls, by 2 to 4 points, and that last one was a tie. The bad news is that with Libertarian Amanda Swafford getting anywhere from 1 to 6 points, hitting that 50 percent threshold is a tall order. So look for this one to end on Election Night with Perdue ahead, close to but not at 50 percent, and a heavy favorite for the lower-turnout runoff. Of course, this means Republicans will have to wait until January to claim this seat.

Kansas: The biggest lead for either candidate in the past four polls: “independent” Greg Orman by 2 points. But only one poll had Roberts ahead, and it had a margin of error of 4.8 percentage points, and it had both candidates polling in the 30s. The polls point to a very narrow win for Orman, and that’s my prediction. Having said that, note that on the above chart, a polling average lead of just seven-tenths of a percentage point translates to only a 60 percent chance of winning.

With Kansas lost, Republicans need seven, not six seats, to win control of the Senate.

On to the Republican takeovers:

Montana, West Virginia and South Dakota: Congratulations, Senators-elect Steve Daines, Mike Rounds, and Shelley Moore Capito.

Suddenly Republicans only need four seats to control the Senate.

Arkansas: Republican challenger Tom Cotton is going to win.

Three.

Alaska: This one looked safe for the GOP for most of October, and then one poll came along showing incumbent Mark Begich ahead by 6, spurring some eager Democrats to declare the race over. Then two more new polls put Republican Dan Sullivan ahead. Yes, Democrats are promising an epic get-out-the-vote effort here — they’re promising one in Arkansas, too — but Alaska’s a pretty Republican state and Begich won only 47.8 percent against Ted Stevens after Stevens was convicted on seven charges of corruption, and with the Obama wave at his back. Sullivan’s the pick.

Two.

Colorado: Democrats seem way too eager about a modest improvement in the early voting numbers. The big turnout boost from Colorado’s new vote-by-mail system is actually working quite well for Republicans; their registered members are outpacing Democrat-registered voters by about 111,000 votes out of 1.25 million so far. As the New York Times’ Nate Cohn lays out, Udall needs about a million fairly Democratic voters to cast ballots by Tuesday.

One.

Iowa: Arguing against GOP hopes is Professor Michael McDonald, who studied the early vote and predicted we won’t know on Election Night who won Iowa. Arguing in favor is the fact that the Democratic advantage in early votes is smaller than in 2010 and 2012, and Ernst’s 7-point lead in the Des Moines Register poll, which was fantastically accurate the past two cycles. Ernst is the pick, but note McDonald’s unnerving warning of a long, drawn-out fight about late-mailed ballots, Election Day voter registration, and provisional ballots.

With the pickup of Iowa, Republicans would win control of the Senate. That leaves . . . 

Louisiana: This one doesn’t get resolved until December, but the polling has been remarkably consistent — Landrieu wins the initial round by a few points in the high 30s or low 40s, and then trails the runoff to Bill Cassidy by a significant margin.

Add it up and it’s a 52-seat Republican majority.

On to the Democratic holds:

New Hampshire: This is probably the shakiest prediction, and it should be close, but Shaheen has led more polls than Brown throughout the autumn.

North Carolina: The polling here has been maddeningly consistent for those who want to see Republican Thom Tillis win — Kay Hagan led by a couple points from September through today. She will probably finish in the mid-40s, Tillis a point or two behind, and Libertarian Sean Haugh picking up a few percentage points.

Virginia: Ed Gillespie did not do badly, and knocking off an immensely wealthy incumbent Democrat in Virginia like Mark Warner was always going to be difficult. But Warner has rarely polled below 49 percent.

Michigan: An oddity this year, as this Senate race looked close into September and then Gary Peters just built a solid, often double-digit polling lead.

New Jersey: Yes, Cory Booker has mediocre numbers for an incumbent Democrat, but GOP challenger Jeff Bell has rarely polled higher than 40 percent.

New Mexico: Allen Weh, who trailed by a large margin for much of the year, will probably settle in to the traditional mid-40s for a Republican in a Senate race in this state. Perhaps GOP governor Susana Martinez’s big win will help him a bit. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gary King, who declared Martinez “does not have a Latino heart”, is a dumpster fire of a candidate.

Oregon: Monica Wehby’s inability to make it a close race ranks among the biggest disappointments for Republicans’ Senate hopes this year.

Tags: Senate Republicans , Midterms , Polling

A Lame-Duck Presidency, No Strings Attached



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Phil Klein, today, contemplating President Obama’s approach to governing after the midterm elections:

If there were anything holding [President Obama] back up to this point, it was either that he was facing re-election or he was somewhat hesitant to weaken Democratic chances in an election year that would determine the composition of Congress during his last two years in office. . . . A wounded Obama will still have many tools at his disposal for advancing his agenda, with much less reason to avoid deploying them.

To further emphasize this point, Campaign Spot has obtained video of President Obama rehearsing his post-election address to the nation:

Tags: Barack Obama

The Pro-Illegal-Voting Advocates Begin to Speak



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Also in today’s Jolt, a quick look at the coming argument that illegal immigrants voting in United States elections in violation of the law is a good thing:

The Pro-Illegal-Voting Advocates Begin to Speak

A letter to the editor in the Arizona Republic:

Mona Charen is worried about non-citizen immigrants voting fraudulently and tipping the scales of close elections, probably in favor of Democrats (“Voter ID laws help address election fraud,” Opinions, Thursday).

Even if the one study she references is correct, where’s the harm?

Considering the pitiful voter turnout among ID-holding voters, these “frauds” should be commended for risking prison time to participate in an election process that their citizen counterparts don’t care enough about to get off the couch or lick an envelope.

Those election criminals pay taxes and work low-wage jobs, their children attend our schools, and they join us in church. They are vested in the community, and if they vote, it shows.

And if their votes should change election results, fine. The citizen couch potatoes have no right to complain.

Let’s concede a molecule of agreement here, in that I can’t stand people who complain about government but don’t vote for the candidate they deem least contrary to their interests.

But . . . we, as American citizens, have the right to not vote. It can be interpreted as an assent to the status quo, or a disavowal of all of the options. If I move to a new community, and they’re holding local elections, and I know none of the candidates or issues, am I being a “couch potato” by not voting? Or simply responsible in choosing to not weigh in when I wouldn’t make an informed choice?

As for “where’s the harm?” — a gentle reminder that it’s against the law. And if non-citizens can vote, then we might as well outsource our governance to the United Nations. A core element of sovereignty is that the leadership of a particular country is chosen only by the citizens of that country — otherwise you might as well allow Russians to cross the border and vote in Ukrainian elections. For that matter, if there is no benefit to citizenship — i.e., the right to vote, a right that non-citizens do not get — then there is no value to it.

And if there’s no value to it . . . why be a citizen of the United States?

Tags: Illegal Immigration , Voter Fraud , Elections

Reason for GOP Optimism . . . and Pessimism in New Hampshire



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If you’re looking for affirmation that the New England College poll showing Scott Brown ahead of Senator Jeanne Shaheen by one point is accurately showing the winner, here’s one nugget to make you feel good . . . 

The final New England College poll of 2012 in the presidential race in New Hampshire had President Obama with 50, Romney 46 percent. The final results were Obama 52 percent, Romney 46 percent. Ironically, every other pollster’s final survey in the state showed Obama with a lead of 3 points or less.

On the other hand, if you subscribe to the theory that the “who do you think will win?” question is a better indicator of the likely winner, the Granite State Poll, sponsored by WMUR and conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, found 55 percent of likely voters think Shaheen will be re-elected, only 30 percent think Brown will win, and 15 percent are unsure. The polls “final prediction for the NH Senate race is 49% for Shaheen and 48% for Brown.”

At this point, the only really surprising result would be one candidate winning by a significant margin.

Tags: Scott Brown , Jeanne Shaheen , New Hampshire

Another Incumbent Democrat Sees His Big Lead Shrink



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An intriguing late development in Minnesota’s governor’s race:

In the governor’s race, incumbent Democrat Mark Dayton still leads Republican Jeff Johnson 47 percent to 42 percent. Hannah Nicollet of the Independence Party is at 2 percent tied with Libertarian candidate Chris Holbrook. Another 6 percent are either undecided or support other candidates. Dayton [led] by 12 points a month ago and five points two weeks ago.

“Independents often swing elections and Mark Dayton had a lead among independents and that lead is now gone,” says Larry Jacobs of the University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute after reviewing our survey data. Independents are often a volatile block of voters. Two weeks ago Dayton led Johnson by six points among independents. Now he trails by 12.

In this cycle we’ve seen a few states where Democrats traditionally win by modest margins — New Mexico, Oregon, and Minnesota — in which early polling showed incumbent Democrats ahead by giant margins . . . and then slowly saw that lead revert to its traditional closer margin. In New Mexico’s Senate race, Allen Weh is getting closer, but still trails outside the margin of error. In Oregon, gubernatorial candidate Dennis Richardson is also trailing in the recent polls by just outside the margin of error, after trailing by double digits earlier.

In Minnesota, Dayton won in 2010 by four-tenths of a percentage point. In 2006, Republican governor Tim Pawlenty won reelection by a percentage point. So earlier polls showing Dayton winning by 10 to 12 points indicated a big change from usually hard-fought, closely contested elections. (Recall in 2008, Al Franken won the Senate race by 228 votes after a lengthy legal battle and questions about convicted felons voting illegally.)

Making up a 5-point deficit in the final day is a tall order for any candidate. But we shouldn’t be surprised to see a Minnesota result much closer than the polling of spring and summer indicated.

Tags: Minnesota , Oregon , New Mexico , Mark Dayton , Jeff Johnson

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