Tags: 2010

Hispanic Voters Didn’t Punish the GOP Over Arizona


Lamar Smith, writing in the Washington Post:

The conventional wisdom has already settled like a blanket over Washington. Allegedly, Hispanics flocked to the polls to punish Republicans for the Arizona immigration law. They “saved” the Senate for Democrats. And on and on. The conventional wisdom, however, is wrong. The 2010 election actually paints a very bright picture of the Republican Party’s relations with this country’s growing Hispanic population.

Exit polls reported by CNN and updated this week reveal that a historically robust 38 percent of Hispanic voters cast ballots for House Republican candidates in 2010 - more than in 2006 (30 percent) and 2008 (29 percent). In fact, since 1984, Republican House candidates have only won a higher percentage of the Hispanic vote in one election: 2004. This level of Hispanic support for Republican candidates came despite widespread pre-election claims by advocates for illegal immigration that the Arizona law and a pro-rule-of-law stand would undercut Hispanic support for Republicans.

Journalist Shikha Dalmia admitted in Forbes that the 2010 election “casts severe doubts” on the assumption that Hispanics will necessarily be advocates for illegal immigration. “Anti-immigration sentiment,” she wrote, is “driven by economic and other fears that have to be addressed anew for every generation regardless of its ethnic make-up.”

He points to the role Hispanic voters played in the victories of Marco Rubio, Rick Scott, and Rick Perry, and points out that Sharron Angle and Carly Fiorina won a larger share of the Hispanic vote than the previous challengers to Harry Reid and Barbara Boxer.

Tags: 2010 , Polling

The Midterms Answered a Lot of Questions, but Not All


Over on the home page, I raise the 10 unanswered questions from Election 2010 — the unsolved mysteries, such as why the GOP wave skipped most of the House races in North Carolina, why Illinois Republicans lost the one race they seemed most likely to win while winning many other races, and what on earth is wrong with 358,276 South Carolinians.

Tags: 2010

The Remaining Ten, Sorted by GOP Leads and Deficits


The remaining unresolved House elections, ordered by partisan advantage in the current vote count (Republicans listed second):

Jim Costa vs. Andy Vidak in California’s 20th district. GOP candidate leads by 1,823 votes.

Solomon Ortiz vs. Blake Farenthold in Texas’s 27th district. GOP candidate leads by 799 votes.

Dan Maffei vs. Ann Marie Buerkle in New York’s 25th district. GOP candidate leads by 659 votes.

Melissa Bean vs. Joe Walsh in Illinois’s 8th district. GOP candidate leads by 553 votes.

Jerry McNerney vs. David Harmer in California’s 11th district. GOP candidate trails by 121 votes.

Rick Larsen vs. John Koster in Washington’s 2nd district. GOP candidate trails by 507 votes.

Ben Chandler vs. Andy Barr in Kentucky’s 6th district. GOP candidate trails by 600 votes.

Gerry Connolly vs. Keith Fimian in Virginia’s 11th district. GOP candidate trails by 920 votes.

Gabrielle Giffords vs. Jesse Kelly in Arizona’s 8th district. GOP candidate trails by 2,356 votes.

Raul Grijalva vs. Ruth McClung in Arizona’s 7th district. GOP candidate trails by 4,083 votes.

Adam Smith vs. Richard Muri in Washington’s 9th district. The AP has called this race for Smith, the incumbent Democrat, with a 12,000 vote margin, but only 77 percent of ballots have been counted.

Tags: 2010

Grading My Pre-Election Predictions . . .


“Hey, does Jim know what he’s talking about?”

Looking at my predictions, the answer is “sometimes.”

In the governor’s races, I predicted the correct winner in 32 races and the wrong winner in 2 (Oregon and Vermont, where the Republican lost by .9 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively), with a few still waiting to be finalized (Connecticut, Illinois, Minnesota). Every once in a while, my sense of the margin was off; I suggested Nikki Haley would win in South Carolina by a “country mile,” and she won by 4.3 percent. Perhaps I meant “country kilometer.”

In the Senate races, I predicted the correct winner in 33 races, and picked the wrong winner in Colorado and Nevada, where as of this writing, the Republican lost by .9 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively. We’re still waiting on Alaska, where I predicted Joe Miller, and Washington, where I predicted Patty Murray.

Considering how many House races are noncompetitive, my House picks only look good at first glance. I predicted the correct winner in 394 races and the wrong winner in 31 races; 10 are still being counted and recounted and sorted out. It appears my wrong Republicans and wrong Democrats balanced each other out; I predicted an overall pickup of 70 seats for Republicans; with 60 seats set and 10 to be sorted out, they will probably end up in the ballpark of that figure but a bit short.

Having said that, look back at my infamous May list of 99 House districts with potential GOP pickups, and I look like a visionary. Almost all of the 60 GOP pickups were on that list, and almost all of the Democrats on that list who survived won by much smaller margins than they usually do. It was then that I classified beating Rep. Phil Hare in Illinois as roughly as difficult as beating the 2009 edition of the St. Louis Rams; on Election Day, Republican challenger Bobby Schilling won by almost 10 points.

Tags: 2010

The GOP House Gain Floor Is 60, the Ceiling Is 71


We’re still waiting on official calls or concessions in 11 House races; all of them feature Democrat incumbents (whose names appear first in this list).

Raul Grijalva vs. Ruth McClung in Arizona’s 7th district.

Gabrielle Giffords vs. Jesse Kelly in Arizona’s 8th district.

Jerry McNerney vs. David Harmer in California’s 11th district.*

Jim Costa vs. Andy Vidak in California’s 20th district.*

Melissa Bean vs. Joe Walsh in Illinois’s 8th district.*

Ben Chandler vs. Andy Barr in Kentucky’s 6th district.

Dan Maffei vs. Ann Marie Buerkle in New York’s 25th district.

Solomon Ortiz vs. Blake Farenthold in Texas’s 27th district.*

Gerry Connolly vs. Keith Fimian in Virginia’s 11th district.

Rick Larsen vs. John Koster in Washington’s 2nd district.*

Adam Smith vs. Richard Muri in Washington’s 9th district.

The ones marked with an asterisk are ones where the GOP challenger has a narrow lead in the most recent numbers.

Tags: 2010

A Mostly Delightful, but Sometimes Very Weird Night


I’ve been talking and Tweeting much of the night, as by the time I am ready to post, the information feels out of date. There are a lot of scoreboards out there, but a couple of quick thoughts . . .

It’s the biggest Republican gain in two generations — and yet, because of a few key races, it feels a little disappointing.

Wins to savor tonight: Marco Rubio in Florida, Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, Bobby Schilling in Illinois. Nikki Haley in South Carolina. Daniel Webster’s defeat of the Devil in Florida’s 8th district. Susana Martinez’s big win in New Mexico. Allen West.

Chip Cravaack beating James Oberstar in Minnesota. Mick Mulvaney beating John Spratt in South Carolina. The big comeback in New York State’s House races.

Right now, GOP gains are at 57 seats in the House, 6 seats in the Senate.

Renee Ellmers finished narrowly ahead of Bob Etheridge in NC-2. Oddly, the other endangered Democrats hung on!

I suspect a major question in the coming days will be understanding why Republicans did phenomenally well in House races, pretty darn well in gubernatorial races (still waiting on a few), and a little disappointing in Senate races (losing NV, WV, CT, DE, CA, and perhaps WA and CO). One theory will be that the Democrats successfully personalized these races.

Or perhaps it will be a question of candidate quality. I ended up loving the tenaciousness of Linda McMahon’s campaign, but her WWE past was less than ideal for a run against a state attorney general. Sharron Angle’s flaws? We can discuss them more later, but we all know they’re there. Ditto Christine O’Donnell. Dan Maes. Carl Paladino. A lot of key races ended up with candidates who were . . . let’s just say easily painted as out of the mainstream. The margin for error, even in a big GOP year, may have been smaller than primary voters expected.

It is a great night for Republicans. But it was an enormous opportunity; many candidates took advantage of it, but a few saw it slip through their fingers.

Tags: 2010

Gallup: 2010 Enthusiasm Gap Is Roughly Double 1994, 2006


Can you stand one more poll? Because Gallup offers one last doozy before the votes are counted:

Americans’ enthusiasm about voting exceeds the recent midterm election high set four years ago, with 50% of Americans and 53% of registered voters saying they are more enthusiastic than usual about voting in 2010.

These results are based on the USA Today/Gallup final 2010 pre-election poll, conducted Oct. 28-31.

The record level of overall enthusiasm is primarily the result of Republicans’ heightened excitement — 63% of Republicans (including Republican-leaning independents) say they are more enthusiastic than usual about voting. That not only greatly exceeds Democrats’ expressed enthusiasm this year, but also is substantially higher than what Gallup has measured for either party’s supporters on the eve of a midterm election.

The high level of Republican enthusiasm has led to the largest gap in enthusiasm by party of any recent midterm elections, 19 percentage points. The prior highs were nine points in favor of the Democrats in 2006, and nine points in favor of the Republicans in 1994.

The party with the advantage in enthusiasm has won the greater share of the national congressional vote, and gained seats in the House, each election year since Gallup began tracking voter enthusiasm in 1994.

Got that? “The largest gap in enthusiasm by party of any recent midterm elections, 19 percentage points.” Roughly double 1994 or 2006! Either Gallup is way off, or we’re going to see epic Republican wins tonight.

Tags: 2010 , Polling

Looking at the Incumbents and Quasi-Incumbents in the Senate . . .


As noted, one of my rules of thumb for my election predictions was that any incumbent below 50 is in at least a little trouble, and an incumbent in the mid-40s is in real trouble. The more well-known and well-established the incumbent, the more trouble they’re in. I usually give those folks about one or two percent of the remaining undecided; that’s how I ended up getting Massachusetts right.

My last pick was California’s Senate race, reluctantly picking Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer over Republican Carly Fiorina, spurred in part by Boxer reaching 49.5 percent in the RealClearPolitics average.

But in between writing down the picks and now, she’s slid to 48.5 percent, a very tenuous position in my usual formula.

Looking at the RCP average for some other well-established incumbents, we see quite a few officeholders in trouble:

Patty Murray: 48.3 percent.

Michael Bennet: 46.3 percent.

Harry Reid: 45.3 percent.

Russ Feingold: 45 percent.

Blanche Lincoln: 35 percent. (Wow!)

A reader suggests that in West Virginia, Manchin should be considered an incumbent, because even though he’s not a senator, he’s a current statewide officeholder. He is at 50.5 percent, a relative powerhouse compared to the rest of this crew, but a position with little room for error.

Quite a few Democratic candidates in open-seat races are currently in statewide office, and thus could be argued to be quasi-incumbents (in the sense that voters went to the polls and elected them recently).

Democratic Senate candidate and Connecticut state attorney general Richard Blumenthal is at 53 percent.

Democratic Senate candidate and Illinois state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias is at 41.5 percent.

Democratic Senate candidate and Missouri secretary of state Robin Carnahan is at 41.3 percent.

Democratic Senate candidate and Kentucky state attorney general Jack Conway is at 40.8 percent.

Democratic Senate candidate and Ohio lieutenant governor Lee Fisher is at 37.5 percent.

Tags: 2010 , The Senate

The Early-Voting News Is . . . No News, or Little New From a Week Ago.


There hasn’t been much shift in the early-voting numbers since the last update I posted; a percentage point or two shift since then.

All of the figures below are from the United States Elections Project at GMU as of this morning; it is important to remember we are discussing the registered party affiliation of early voters, not how they actually vote. Of course, it seems safe to presume that most Republicans will vote for the GOP candidate, and most registered Democrats will vote for the Democrat.

Colorado: Early voting in 2008: 37.7 percent Democrat, 35.9 percent GOP, 26.4 percent independent.

Early voting in 2010: 35.4 percent Democrat, 41.1 percent GOP, 23 percent independent.

Florida: Early voting in 2008: 45.6 percent Democrat, 37.3 percent Republican, 17.1 percent independent.

Early voting in 2010: 36.5 percent Democrat, 49.2 percent Republican, 14.3 percent independent.

Iowa: In 2008, early votes split 46.9 percent Democrat, 28.9 percent Republican, 24.2 percent other.

In 2010, it is 43.7 percent Democrat, 38 percent Republican, 18.2 percent independent.

Louisiana: In 2008, the state’s early vote was 58 percent registered Democrats, 28.7 Republicans, and 13.3 percent other.

This year, so far, it is 46.7 percent Democrat, 42.3 percent Republican, 10.6 percent other.

African-Americans were 35.6 percent of early voters in 2008; this cycle, so far, they make up 21.3 percent.

Maine: In 2008, the early vote split 41.1 percent Democrat, 27.7 percent Republicans, 31.2 percent other/independent.

So far in 2010, it is 37.6 percent Democrat, 35.6 percent Republican, 24.9 percent independent.

Nevada: Clark and Washoe Counties break down their vote by party registration.

In 2008, Clark was 52 percent Democrat, 30.6 percent Republican, 17.4 percent other.

In 2010, it is 46.2 percent Democrat, 37.4 percent Republican, 16.4 percent independent.

In 2008, Washoe was 47.1 percent Democrat, 35.3 percent Republican, 17.5 percent other.

In 2010, Democrats are at 40.3 percent, Republicans lead with 44.7 percent, and independents are 15 percent.

North Carolina: Barack Obama shocked the nation by winning North Carolina in 2008, and he was helped by an early vote that split 51.4 percent Democrat, 30.2 percent Republican, 18.5 percent none or other. This year the N.C. early vote splits 46.4 percent Democrat, 36.4 percent Republican, 17 percent independent.

African-Americans were 26.5 percent of North Carolina’s early votes in 2008; they are 20.9 percent so far this year.

There have been no changes to the numbers in Pennsylvania (very small number of early voters, heavily GOP), West Virginia (good for Democrats), and Wyoming (good for GOP).

Tags: 2010

Gallup’s Final Generic Ballot Numbers: GOP 55, Democrats 40


Wow. Gallup’s final generic numbers are as good for Republicans and as bad for Democrats as we have seen this cycle:

The final USA Today/Gallup measure of Americans’ voting intentions for Congress shows Republicans continuing to hold a substantial lead over Democrats among likely voters, a lead large enough to suggest that regardless of turnout, the Republicans will win more than the 40 seats needed to give them the majority in the U.S. House.

The results are from Gallup’s Oct. 28-31 survey of 1,539 likely voters. It finds 52% to 55% of likely voters preferring the Republican candidate and 40% to 42% for the Democratic candidate on the national generic ballot — depending on turnout assumptions. Gallup’s analysis of several indicators of voter turnout from the weekend poll suggests turnout will be slightly higher than in recent years, at 45%. This would give the Republicans a 55% to 40% lead on the generic ballot, with 5% undecided.

I concur with this assessment from one of my regulars, a guy involved in GOP politics in a key region of a swing state:

Basically unchanged from last week. This means three (key) things:

A) Voters positions are locked in place;

B) Any Republican within 4 or 5 has a shot.

C) Either Gallup is wrong or the state by state polling is wrong.  There is no way Republicans fail to win the Senate if the differential is 10 points. That’s 6 higher than 1994.

Yeah, we’re really in uncharted territory here . . .

Tags: 2010 , Polling

So a 49-Seat Win Would Be a Mandate, No?


It is rude to mock one’s elders, so it gives me little joy to illlustrate how wildly out-of-touch David Broder is.

Broder, this morning:

I have this strange feeling that we are about to be badly misled about the political climate in this country. We are going to look at the returns on the biggest Republican victory in 16 years and think that it spells doom for the Democrats and a shift to the right in our politics. And we will be wrong.

The size of the Republican gain will be exaggerated by the severity of their losses in the preceding elections. They will pick up many seats in the House, perhaps 50 or so, because they lost so many in 2006 and 2008.

A more realistic way of gauging their strength will be to ask about the size of their majority. And it is likely to be minuscule. If it reaches double digits, Republicans will have done very well. More likely, John Boehner will be elected speaker by a handful of votes.

A double-digit majority of 10 would be 228 House Republicans, meaning the GOP would need a net takeover of 49 seats; this is the bar Broder wants to set for “very well.”

(My thought was 218 + 10 = 228; a reader notes that if the GOP wins 223 seats, they would have an 11-seat majority. So the GOP really only needs to win 44 seats.)

Ordinarily, I would scoff at that for being absurdly high, yet Republicans may well clear it. Elsewhere this morning:

The Cook Political Report’s pre-election House outlook is a Democratic net loss of 48 to 60 seats, with higher losses possible. A turnover of just 39 seats would tip majority status into Republican hands.

Larry Sabato:

We believe +47 was the right call, though at the time the number was considered startling to most. The likely switch of the House to the GOP was fiercely disputed by Democrats at that time. Many other nonpartisan prognosticators had estimated Republican gains as being below the 39 net required for a GOP takeover. Even at this late date, we see no need to do anything but tweak the total R gains, based on more complete information now available to all. Thus, we are raising the total to +55 net R seats.

Broder also writes:

Neither party can claim success on the most urgent task, providing an economic blueprint that allows people to lead their lives with confidence. The stewardship of George W. Bush and the Republicans was a disaster. The Democrats and Barack Obama have been only marginally more successful.

For the duration of the Bush presidency, unemployment ranged between 4 and 6 percent. In the first full month of Obama’s presidency, it was 8.2 percent, went as high as 10.1 percent in October 2009, and has remained 9.5 or higher for the entirety of this year. (The “new normal,” or perhaps “Obama normal,” we fear.) Yet in Broder’s mind, this record is “marginally more successful” than what preceded it.

In 2009, Broder predicted a backlash against the angry crowds that were greeting members of Congress at their summer town-hall meetings, illustrating his point with an anecdote as precedent . . . from 1960. No backlash materialized; if anything, the anger has intensified.

Broder is an ironic choice to charge that we have “been badly misled about the political climate in this country.”

Tags: 2010 , Barack Obama

Looks Like a ‘Happy Times Wave’ Today


You’ll recall Obi-Wan laid out four scenarios: the “Fading GOP Wave” Scenario, the “Okay Wave” Scenario, the “Happy Times Wave” Scenario, and the “Superwave.”

Judging by the latest round of House polls, the early voting numbers, the professional prognosticators’ sudden worry about traditionally rock-solid Democratic wins, and the apologetic ads from endangered House Democrats, six days out, this looks like at least the Okay Wave Scenario, probably the Happy Times Scenario, and Superwave cannot be ruled out (but doesn’t quite look likely).

There are spots of legitimate Republican disappointment. The statewide races in California and New York seem stubbornly immune to the national GOP wave (while some GOP House candidates are doing quite well in competitive districts in those blue states). Iowa is another state where some GOP challengers aren’t being carried along as well as elsewhere in the region. Joe Manchin may hang on in West Virginia, as well as Patty Murray in Washington. I think Joe Miller should be okay, but Alaska seems to feature a particularly inscrutable political landscape.

But beyond that, the GOP is looking good in every state and district that they ought to win, and quite a few they shouldn’t.

A lot of readers are wondering about party-switchers after Tuesday, but that’s very hard to project or assess until we know which, if any, conservative Democrats are left standing. Many may conclude that if they survived this year, they can survive anything, and they may have a point. Others may wonder if party-switching really would ensure any long-term career health; Parker Griffith and Arlen Specter learned you can embrace a new party, but your new party’s base may not embrace you.

Tags: 2010

Baby, Don’t Forget His Number


From today’s Jolt:

Whatever You Do, Don’t Put the Blame On You; Blame It on the Rain, Yeah Yeah.

You recognize that lyric. You remember the phenomenon: A sudden new star takes the world by storm, crooning to wild crowds in packed arenas . . . the boast was the audacious claim to be “bigger than the Beatles.” The most prestigious of prizes were handed to the revolutionary prodigy. Then the sudden revelations and disappointment — the words that were once were so melodious and enrapturing were all just smoke and mirrors, an alluring illusion that could never live up to the incessant media hype. Suddenly, once-devoted supporters jump off the bandwagon, and it becomes hard to find anyone willing to admit they were ever a big fan.

I refer, of course, to Milli Vanilli. But you were thinking of a more recent over-hyped phenomenon, weren’t you?

Anyway, the Democrats have a new, and yet timeless, excuse: “In more bad news for Democrats, rain is in the forecast for much of the country on Election Day. Weather tracking websites, including and The Old Farmer’s Almanac, are calling for rain in the Midwest, Southeast and Northeast regions, with chances for precipitation in other parts of the country as well. According to Laurel Harbridge, a Northwestern University political science professor, GOP voters are not typically discouraged by rain. “Republicans are helped by bad weather . . . it does harm Democratic prospects.” Wendy Schiller, a political science professor at Brown University, echoed Harbridge. ‘Bad weather almost always hurts Democrats,’ she said. ‘The traditional Democratic base tends to include lower-income people and the elderly. Both of those demographic groups have a hard time getting to the polls.’”

At Wake Up America, Susan Duclos sees a contradiction: “Since Republicans are seeing a 12 point advantage with seniors, isn’t it contradictory to claim that if it rains on election day, it will hurt Democrats with the senior vote? I guess in Schiller’s twisted reality Republican supporters do not melt in the rain but Democratic supporters do.”

Tags: 2010 , Barack Obama

The Hill Unveils One Last Brutal Round of House Polls


Wow. The Senate races may still look tough for the GOP, but this year’s wave is hitting the House races, hard.

The Hill 2010 Midterm Election poll, surveying nearly 17,000 likely voters in 42 toss-up districts over four weeks, points to a massive Republican wave that, barring an extraordinary turnaround, will deliver crushing nationwide defeats for President Obama’s party.

The data suggest a GOP pickup that could easily top 50 seats (the party needs 39 for control of the House).

Of the 42 districts polled for The Hill, all but two of which are currently Democratic, 31 had Republicans in the lead. Democrats were up in just seven, and four were tied. In addition, there are some 15 Democratic districts that are so far into the GOP win column that they weren’t polled. That would suggest at least 46 GOP pickups, plus whatever the party gets out of another 40 or 50 seats that some experts believe are in play.

“We didn’t even poll in about 15 districts that are already too far gone for Democrats,” said Mark Penn, whose firm, Penn Schoen Berland, conducted the poll. “So that, along with our entire series of polls, points to something in the range of a 50-seat gain for Republicans.”

Republican voters are also more likely to have made up their minds, sccording to the data.

The Hill’s data confirm other public polling and expert predictions, some of which put the historic wave even higher than the 52 seats Democrats lost in 1994 and the 71 they lost in 1938.

Let’s read that line again: “The Hill’s data confirm other public polling and expert predictions, some of which put the historic wave even higher than the 52 seats Democrats lost in 1994 and the 71 they lost in 1938.”

Getting into the specific races:

Longtime Reps. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.), Chet Edwards (D-Texas) and John Spratt (D-S.C.) are all down by double digits, and each is polling at 40 percent or below. The three have held their congressional seats for 14, 20 and 28 years, respectively.

Reps. Jim Marshall (D-Ga.), Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) and John Salazar (D-Colo.) also trail their Republican challengers.

Hey, remember when the DCCC tried to argue that the NRCC pulling its ads from Chet Edwards’s district was a sign of momentum? Yeah, that was awesome.

Here’s the “good news” for Democrats:

Despite the environment, several longtime Democrats show signs of strength. In both the at-large congressional districts in North and South Dakota, Blue Dog Democrats hold slight leads over their Republican challengers. Rep. Earl Pomeroy (N.D.) leads by a single point, while Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (S.D.) leads by three. In Indiana, Rep. Baron Hill (D) is up two points on his GOP challenger.

The lone Democrat from this group who can truly breathe easy is Rep. Leonard Boswell (Iowa), who leads his Republican challenger, Brad Zaun, by 12 points, 49 percent to 37. Boswell leads by 17 points with independents and is pulling 10 percent of Republicans, according to The Hill’s poll.

Herseth Sandlin and Pomeroy are each at 45 percent, and Hill is at 46 percent. They may lead in these polls, but I wouldn’t have their Washington office staffs buy too many green bananas.

I hope Jay Cost is wearing oversized purple pants for his impending transformation into a big green monster.

Tags: 2010

The Great Big Early Voting Roundup


For the most part, the early voting numbers for Republicans are pretty darn good.

There are some who argue that because turnout for a presidential election year is different from a midterm election year, the better comparison is to 2006. But early voting has grown more popular cycle by cycle, from about 7 percent in 1994 to about 14 percent in 2002 to almost 20 percent in 2006 to 30 percent last year. In particular, Democrats put a lot more effort into early voting in 2008 and overcame a traditional GOP advantage in this area. So it’s hard to compare early voting to results more than one cycle back.

Either way, the current House of Representatives is shaped by the electorate that voted in 2008; a lot of House Democrats who were carried along by the Obama wave will not be returning in January 2011, so I think a comparison to 2008 is worthwhile.

All of the figures below are from the United States Elections Project at GMU as of this morning; it is important to remember we are discussing the registered party affiliation of early voters, not how they actually vote. Of course, most Republicans will vote for the GOP candidate, and most registered Democrats will vote for the Democrat.

Colorado: Early voting in 2008: 37.7 percent Democrat, 35.9% GOP, 26.4 percent independent.

Early voting so far in 2010: 36% Democrat, 41.7% GOP, 21.6 percent independent.

Some folks argued that’s disappointing for a surge. But I would note that Ken Buck and Michael Bennet are splitting the independents pretty evenly. This one will be close, but good GOP turnout is a good sign for Buck.

Florida: This is the amazing one. Early voting in 2008: 45.6 percent Democrat, 37.3 percent Republican, 17.1 percent independent.

Early voting in 2010: 33.7 percent Democrat, 52.8 percent Republican, 13.5 percent independent.

Perhaps all of the independents and Democrats are waiting until Election Day to vote. Or perhaps the traditionally GOP-leaning Sunshine State is about to go deep red this year.

Iowa: Here Democrats can celebrate the smallest drop-off. In 2008, early votes split 46.9 percent Democrat, 28.9 percent Republican, 24.2 percent other; so far this year, it is 45.5 percent Democrat, 38.1 percent Republican, 16.4 percent other.

Louisiana: Another huge swing. In 2008, the state’s early vote was 58 percent registered Democrats, 28.7 Republicans, and 13.3 percent other. This year, so far, it is 45.9 percent Democrat, 43.5 percent Republican, 10.6 percent other. African-Americans were 35.6 percent of early voters in 2008; this cycle, so far, they make up 20.2 percent.

(It’s worth noting that Louisiana has a lot of conservative voters who are registered Democrats.)

Maine: Another big surge for the GOP. In 2008, the early vote split 41.1 percent Democrat, 27.7 percent Republicans, 31.2 percent other. So far in 2010 it is 37.1 percent Democrats, 36.9 percent Republicans, 24.2 percent independent, 1.8 percent Green.

Maryland: Democrats probably don’t have to worry too much here. The state did not collect party ID on early voters in 2008, but so far this year it breaks down 63.8 percent Democrat, 27.4 percent Republican, 8.8 percent other. (Note: Maryland didn’t have “early voting” per se, but it had absentee voting, which some states count as “early votes.”)

Nevada: Clark and Washoe Counties break down their vote by party registration.

In 2008, Clark was 52 percent Democrat, 30.6 percent Republican, 17.4 percent other; in 2010, so far, it is 46 percent Democrat, 38.2 percent Republican, 15.9 percent other.

In 2008, Washoe was 47.1 percent Democrat, 35.3 percent Republican, 17.5 percent other; in 2010, so far, it is 40.2 percent Democrat, 45.9 percent Republican, 13.9 percent other.

Overall, NRO contributor Elizabeth Crum sees a GOP surge.

North Carolina: Barack Obama shocked the nation by winning North Carolina in 2008, and he was helped by an early vote that split 51.4 percent Democrat, 30.2 percent Republican, 18.5 percent none or other. This year, Democrats are seeing a drop-off: 44.6 percent Democrat, 38 percent Republican, 17.3 percent independent/none/other.

Ohio: With no easy-to-track statewide numbers, I’ll turn things over to Jon Keeling and the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

With a week until Election Day, the numbers of Republican absentee ballots cast in Cuyahoga and Hamilton counties are close to surpassing the numbers from 2008, a presidential year with generally a higher turnout. And in Franklin County, absentee ballots cast are running pretty close to even between voters of the major parties — 29,419 for Democrats to 28,506 for Republicans — after running more than 2-to-1 for Democrats in 2008. In the state’s largest three counties combined, Republicans have cast about 40 percent of the partisan absentee ballots compared to only 26 percent in 2008 . . . Democrats have explanations, but local Republicans have grins on their faces as they see GOP absentee ballots close to surging past 2008 levels in Cuyahoga County while Democrats have barely hit the halfway mark.

Pennsylvania: This state did not break down its early vote by partisan registration in 2008, but so far in 2010 — with only 49,756 votes so far — it is 56.4 percent Republican, 34.7 percent Democrat, and 6.2 percent Democrat.

West Virginia: The news isn’t all bad for Democrats. In 2008, it was 53 percent Democrat, 29.1 percent Republican, 9.1 percent other. In the state’s early voting period this year, it was 55 percent Democrat, 35.3 percent Republican, and 9.6 percent other. (Keep in mind that Obama lost the state by a wide margin in 2008, so plenty of West Virginia Democrats voted for John McCain.)

Now, all of the standard caveats apply: Early voting is still going on in most states, so the numbers may shift in the coming days. And standard Election Day get-out-the-vote efforts still count for a lot, as the Election Day vote will probably be 70-80 percent of the total. But Republicans can feel pretty good with what they’re seeing so far.

Tags: 2010 , Early Voting

Obi-Wan Kenobi: Every ‘GOP Senate candidate needs to have a finish.’


Several times a day, I get an e-mail: “So what does Obi-Wan think?” And then, when I don’t write an update, many suspect Obi-Wan and I are pessimistic and in hiding. Actually, as we’ve touched base every couple of days, his sense of the election hadn’t changed much since the last one.

But he finally gathered together some more thoughts, and answered a few questions . . .

Jim: Some faithful readers are worried. What do you think?

Obi-Wan: Let us be calm, people. Of course some of the Senate races are going to “tighten.” Except that they aren’t necessarily tightening. Perceptions are just heightening now among people who haven’t been paying that much attention and these folks are now getting themselves in a pollster’s likely-voter pool. In states like Pennsylvania, they are more likely to be Democrats. However, these newly engaged voters are not yet — if you will forgive the terminology — in “decision mode.” In giving a pollster an answer, they are more inclined than independents to just reflect the influence of whatever ad they saw the night before, or reply with an instinctive party affiliation. When they start actually reaching a decision, what we’re calling the “wave” — which is just a word for the preeminent concerns affecting everybody else — is likely to have more impact. And that means they either vote for the GOP or maybe stay home. (I have had a theory for a while that the points at which various groups of voters — those affiliated, for example, with the party under attack — become a factor could actually be tracked on candidates’ trajectories if some questions were added to voting surveys.)

So what I am saying here? The closer Senate races — which are more contentious and have more spots on the air and are giving voters more information than just House races, which are affected by “wave” issues — are going to show the oscillations but then eventually revert? Well, that’s what’s been happening so far. Remember, as we discussed a few weeks ago, that panic over the “Boxer pulling away” headline? Or Rand Paul losing his lead? The word here was caution, let’s see skepticism, thank you very much. And, in a matter of days, those races had reverted to form.

And remember the oscillations in the generic polling earlier this fall? The numbers now in poll after poll trend heavily Republican. Pew yesterday. Gallup.

And, as also mentioned earlier, polling data is not linear. Numbers that go up also have to go down. Oscillation. Think stock market. We watch the baseline through the ups and downs.

Jim: That sounds pretty promising. So the GOP not only takes the House but could sweep the Senate seats too?

Obi-Wan: Well, just hold on there pard. (I realize “pard” sounds more like a Western than a Jedi warrior.) That question ignores the most important thing about this election.

Nobody has never seen nothing — and I do mean to use the ungrammatical double negative here — like this. So far, this is not a “wave” election, this is a super-wave election.

Are you hearing Michael Barone on the radio or television? I don’t mean his analysis but that sound in his voice. The man is in awe. A part of him — like everybody else including your trusty extra-galactic wise man — does not know what in all tarnation (Westerns again) to make of this data and this election. The GOP generic lead is nothing like the polling run-up to 1994 or any other time. Off-the-charts stuff.

People like Barone don’t know what this means. Even as he goes digging around in the 19th-century data for something similar and readily allows the possibility of astounding GOP House gains, Barone is asking himself: Can this go on? Aren’t we likely to revert to something approaching a more normal “wave” at some point? (Incidentally, we saw a little something like that in 2006. The Dem lead got halved over the weekend before the election.)

And that’s not the only question. If this turns out to be a super-wave election, the fact is, we just don’t know what happens to Senate races in super-wave elections — is it possible the Democrats have individualized enough races and their negative ads can have enough impact to alter a super-wave? Or will enough of the electorate actually be frightened by talk of a GOP sweep and want to limit power in Washington by voting Democratic in some Senate races?

Jim: Well, that’s a little disappointing. And pretty vague. So can you say where you think the Senate races are headed, or not?

Obi-Wan: Well, not exactly. I’ve been trying to say for a while that “everything is early this year.” So the data that some people worry about could be the “noise” of newly engaged voters that I mentioned or just the oscillation or pullback that happens days before an election. That’s why it’s foolish to talk about this now. The “tightening,” if it exists, could be nothing or something, but early next week we might see some data that tells us a lot. Or maybe a little. But the little could be enough.

Jim: What can the GOP do about the Senate?

Obi-Wan: First, talk about the Senate and its importance to getting a new economic agenda going. Also raise national-security issues, like the START treaty, etc.

Secondly, remember Gingrich is right. The Democrats want to personalize Senate races. Ultimately, this campaign is about issues and ideas and the fate of the country. Not personalities. So they should remind Senate candidates that perfectly legitimate attack ads (like those Linda McMahon is running against a deeply flawed opponent) belong on the air and maybe right to the end. But also remind them — a candidate talking directly to the viewer can be very effective if it is about issues and ideas and the ultimate meaning of the campaign. Reagan did this heavily in the 80s campaigns. The camera doesn’t lie, so people can get a sense of the candidate, and that means those high production values or touchy-feely stuff about oneself are not necessary. I guess I am saying a GOP Senate candidate needs to have a finish. And that should be about the country and the issues and the great ideas. And why this is such an important election.

Tags: 2010 , Obi Wan Kenobi

On November 2, We May See More Than 99 Dem Buffoons Go By.


Politico tells us 99 Democrat-held seats are in play.

Hey, pal, some of us had that figure in May. The cool kids are talking 117 now.

Actually, looking over yesterday’s list, I would take off UT-2 (Matheson) and OK-2 (Boren). There are a handful more there where the Democrat may end up winning pretty comfortably: WV-3 (Rahall), maybe RI-1 (open seat held by Patrick Kennedy), maybe NY-13 (McMahon). There are a couple more where at least one poll says it’s competitive, but I’m not quite a believer: OR-4 (DeFazio), NJ-6 (Pallone), MI-15 (Dingell), MI-5 (Kildee).

That’s still 108.

As for vulnerable Republicans, Joseph Cao of Louisiana obviously faces tough odds in his heavily Democratic district. The Democrats are high on their odds against Charles Djou in Hawaii, but he outhustled the Democrats in the special election and if he’s the underdog, he’s not that much worse than 50-50. Will Democrats pick up the seat currently held by Republican Mike Castle in Delaware? Yes, almost certainly. After that, you start reaching.

Ben Quayle in Arizona’s 3rd congressional district? Yes, it’s possible, but this is an R+9 district where the top of the ticket, Sen. John McCain and Gov. Jan Brewer, should be winning by landslides. Perhaps the former vice president’s son’s past off-color writing and the perception of a monarchist dynasty will be enough to create a big Democratic upset. Perhaps.

Dan Lungren in California? It’s possible, but hard to picture a Republican winning in 2008 when McCain was losing California badly but losing in 2010, when Whitman and Fiorina are running competitive races.

Michele Bachmann in Minnesota? No. Nope. Not gonna happen. Write it down. Democrats wasted $3.5 million in that race, and wasted millions more trying to unseat Joe Wilson in South Carolina.

The perennials, Charlie Dent and Jim Gerlach in Pennsylvania, or Dave Reichert in Washington? Oh, I suppose the Democratic challengers might have some unbelievable secret get-out-the-vote effort, the GOP incumbent might have a last-minute, unforced, macaca-level error, or the top of the ticket help might somehow skip this district . . . but I wouldn’t count on it.

(For those who think there’s a typo in the headline, I was trying — too hard, probably — to evoke “99 Luftballons.”)

Tags: 2010

A Brief Update on 117 House Races


As promised, here is a quick update on that May list of 99 open seats or vulnerable Democrats. As you can see, quite a few have been added; we’re now up to 117. (I added one, WA-2, after initial posting.) However, this list includes some races that appeared as potentially competitive earlier and now aren’t, such as Rep. Dan Boren’s reelection bid in Oklahoma.

My current assessment is in line with the conventional wisdom: Roughly 100 seats are in play under the broader definition, and it’s hard to see Republicans winning fewer than 40 of them. The ceiling depends on how angry the country is on November 2, but it is pretty darn high . . . 60? 70? 80?

AL-2: Public Opinion Strategies puts Martha Roby ahead of incumbent Democrat Bobby Bright by 2; Bright is already declaring he won’t vote for Pelosi as speaker.

AR-1: The Hill puts Republican Rick Crawford ahead by 12; this is an open seat where Democrat Marion Berry is retiring.

AR-2: Democrat Vic Snyder is retiring and Republican Tim Griffin is the heavy favorite to replace him; an August poll put Griffin up 17.

AR-4: Arkansas Republicans look set for a monster year, but Democrat Mike Ross should survive the wave, holding off Republican Beth Ann Rankin.

AZ-1: The Hill puts Paul Gosar ahead of incumbent Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick by 7.

AZ-5: Last week, a GOP poll put David Schweikart narrowly ahead of incumbent Democrat Harry Mitchell.

AZ-7: In one of the great shocks of this cycle, Republican Ruth McClung released an internal poll showing her ahead of incumbent Raul Grijalva among likely voters. The DCCC suddenly decided to spend money here recently.

AZ-8: An early September poll had incumbent Democrat Gabrielle Giffords and GOP challenger Jesse Kelly tied.

CA-11: Survey USA puts David Harmer ahead of incumbent Democrat Jerry McNerney by 6.

CA-20: The DCCC is worried enough about Republican Andy Vidak’s chances against incumbent Democrat Jim Costa to start spending money here.

CA-47: Incumbent Democrat Loretta Sanchez is tied with Republican Van Tran, or as she prefers to call her opponent, “the Vietnamese.”

CA-51: Perhaps the toughest GOP candidate of the cycle, Nick Popaditch, vs. incumbent Democrat Bob Filner in a district with high unemployment and serious housing-bubble fallout, and the polls say . . . nothing. This is one of the few interesting House districts with not a single poll released.

CO-3: American Action Forum puts Republican Scott Tipton ahead of incumbent Democrat John Salazar, 51 percent to 43 percent.

CO-4: The Hill puts Cory Gardner ahead of incumbent Democrat Betsy Markey by 3.

CO-7: Incumbent Democrat Ed Perlmutter slapped the hand of his opponent, Ryan Frazier, during a debate. A late August poll put Frazier ahead by one point.

CT-4: A poll earlier this month put incumbent Democrat Jim Himes up by 2 over GOP challenger Dan DeBicella.

CT-5: CT Capitol Report puts Sam Caligiuri ahead by 6 over incumbent Democrat Chris Murphy.

FL-2: A National Research poll puts Republican Steve Southerland ahead by 16.

FL-8: The one outside poll conducted in this district shows Republican Daniel Webster beating the Devil, a.k.a. Alan Grayson, by 7.

FL-22: The campaigns of Republican Allen West and Democrat Ron Klein have both offered polls showing their man ahead.

FL-24: An early September poll put Republican Sandy Adams ahead of incumbent Democrat Suzanne Kosmas; the DCCC has cut its ties here.

GA-2: A Public Opinion Strategies poll puts incumbent Democrat Sanford Bishop only one point ahead of his GOP challenger, Mike Keown.

GA-8: The DCCC would have you believe that incumbent Democrat Jim Marshall is ahead by 12 over Republican Austin Scott, but Marshall is loudly proclaiming he won’t support Nancy Pelosi as speaker again, suggesting he’s at least a little nervous.

GA-12: There is no real polling in this deeply conservative district, where incumbent Democrat John Barrow has hung on in tough years in the past. He’s challenged by Ray McInney.

ID-1: Incumbent Democrat Walt Minnick hasn’t voted with his party much on the big votes, making the job of GOP challenger Raul Labrador tougher. Labrador’s campaign says that their guy trails by only 6 and that Minnick is at a subpar 37 percent.

IL-8: Incumbent Democrat Melissa Bean still has the advantage, but GOP challenger Joe Walsh has endured a lot of bumps in the road and is still tied, at least in a WeAskAmerica poll.

IL-9: Incumbent Democrat Jan Schakowsky remains the favorite, but challenger Joel Pollack says his polls have her below 50 percent.

IL-10: Democrats had been very bullish on the chances of Dan Seals in this open-seat race, but WeAskAmerica puts Bob Dold up by 11.

IL-11: The Hill puts Adam Kinzinger ahead by 18; a poll released by Democrat Debbie Halvorson puts Kinzinger up by only 5.

IL-14: A Tarrance Group poll puts Randy Hultgren ahead of incumbent Democrat Bill Foster by 6.

IL-17: Bobby Schilling has been polling within a few points of incumbent Democrat Phil Hare for months and now has what was once unthinkable: a cash-on-hand advantage.

IN-2: I’m surprised we haven’t seen polls showing Joe Donnelly trailing; his ads certainly give off a whiff of desperation in the vehement manner they denounce Nancy Pelosi. He’s at 39 percent but has many more leaners in the most recent poll. But GOP challenger Jackie Walorski is not to be underestimated.

IN-8: In the seat once held by Brad Ellsworth, Larry Bucshon is favored over Democratic state representative Trent Van Haaften.

IN-9: Todd Young is narrowly favored under Nate Silver’s calculations over incumbent Democrat Baron Hill.

IA-1: There hasn’t been much recent polling in the matchup between incumbent Democrat Bruce Braley and GOP challenger Ben Lange, but an early September one put Lange within 4.4 points.

IA-2: In mid-September, challenger Mariannette Miller-Meeks released a poll showing her within 1 point of Democratic incumbent Dave Loebsack. Stuart Rothenberg recently named Loebsack one of five Democrats who could be surprised by the wave in November.

IA-3: The campaign of incumbent Democrat Leonard Boswell says their man is up 9 over GOP challenger Brad Zaun; still, 47 percent is not a great place for a longtime incumbent in a GOP year when the statewide races should be Republican landslides.

KS-3: Not much polling in this district, but Republican Kevin Yoder is heavily favored over Stephene Moore, the wife of the retiring Rep. Dennis Moore.

KY-3: One poll from SurveyUSA had indicated a tight race between second-term Democratic incumbent John Yarmuth and GOP challenger Todd Lally, but subsequent polls show solid Yarmuth leads.

KY-6: The Tarrance Group puts Andy Barr ahead of incumbent Democrat Ben Chandler by 1.

LA-3: In this open-seat race, where incumbent Charlie Melancon is running for Senate, Republican Jeff Landry is modestly favored over Democrat Ravi Sangisetty.

MA-4: There is a lot of grassroots excitement around Republican Sean Bielat, and incumbent Barney Frank’s partner heckled the challenger. Still, Bielat’s poll puts him down 10, a margin that is tough, but not impossible, to overcome.

MA-10: A local poll puts the GOP’s Jeff Perry down 3, which is within the margin of error and an okay place to be two weeks out. I’m told Perry’s internals show a much cheerier picture.

MD-1: The Hill puts Andy Harris ahead by 3 over incumbent Democrat Frank Kratovil.

ME-1: Dean Scontras has landed some hits on incumbent Democrat Chellie Pingree, but still has to make up a double-digit margin.

ME-2: Jason Levesque has gained ground on Democrat incumbent Michael Michaud, but both Maine districts have a lot of Democrats and represent tough climbs.

MI-1: The Hill puts Republican Dan Benishek ahead by 3 in this open-seat race.

MI-5: There’s not an enormous reason to think Dale Kildee is vulnerable, but he is running attack ads against GOP challenger John Kupiec, suggesting the incumbent doesn’t think he can take this year for granted.

MI-7: The Hill puts Tim Walburg in a tie with incumbent Democrat Mark Schauer.

MI-9: A local poll puts GOP challenger Rocky Raczkowski ahead of Democratic incumbent Gary Peters, 45 percent to 40.7 percent.

MI-15: The Rossman Group puts Rob Steele ahead of Democratic incumbent John Dingell by 4.

MN-1: Survey USA puts incumbent Democrat Tim Walz up by 5 over GOP challenger Randy Demmer.

MN-8: A poll from challenger Chip Cravaack shows him trailing longtime incumbent Jim Oberstar by only 3. Oberstar’s team says it must be a push poll.

MO-3: There’s been very little polling in this hard-fought race between GOP challenger Ed Martin and Russ Carnahan. An August poll put Carnahan at 48 percent.

MO-4: Longtime incumbent Democrat Ike Skelton has tried to fend off GOP challenger Vicky Jo Hartzler with a deluge of negative ads. The most recent poll was in August, and put Skelton up, 45 percent to 42 percent.

MS-1: A September poll — by a firm that does a lot of DCCC work — put incumbent Democrat Travis Childers up by 5 over GOP challenger Alan Nunnellee.

MS-4: In late September, GOP challenger Steven Palazzo pointed to an internal poll that had him trailing longtime Democrat incumbent Gene Taylor by only 4 points.

NC-2: It’s rather fascinating that no one has polled this district featuring neck-grabbing Democrat incumbent Bob Etheridge and GOP challenger Renee Ellmers since June. That poll had Ellmers ahead by one. There’s been a lot of outside group spending in this district.

NC-7: A late September poll found GOP challenger Ilario Pantano leading incumbent Democrat Mike McIntyre by one point.

NC-8: Civitas puts incumbent Democrat Larry Kissell one point ahead of GOP challenger Harold Johnson.

NC-11: Civitas put incumbent Democrat Heath Shuler one point ahead of Republican challenger Jeff Miller.

ND-AL: Republican Rick Berg has led consistently over incumbent Democrat Earl Pomeroy; sometimes by a little, sometimes by a lot.

NH-1: Two University of New Hampshire polls in succession put Republican Frank Guinta ahead of Democratic incumbent Carol Shea-Porter by 10 and then by 12.

NH-2: The Hill puts Republican Charlie Bass ahead by 3. A UNH poll puts Bass down 7. A sudden slip or an outlier?

NJ-3: A Monmouth University poll puts Democratic incumbent John Adler ahead of Jon Runyan by 3.

NJ-6: A lot of readers are raving about the grassroots energy of GOP challenger Anna Little, but incumbent Democrat Frank Pallone leads by 12.

NJ-12: Incumbent Democrat Rush Holt is ahead by 5 over self-funder Scott Sipprelle.

NM-1: Jon Barela has yet to catch up with incumbent Democrat Martin Heinrich, but the current 7-point margin is not insurmountable. He’ll get top-of-the-ticket help from gubernatorial candidate Susana Martinez.

NM-2: The Hill puts Steve Pearce ahead of Democratic incumbent Harry Teague by 4.

NV-3: The Hill puts Republican Joe Heck ahead of Dina Titus by 3.

NY-1: Earlier in the year, this race looks supremely competitive, but if Siena College is to be believed, incumbent Democrat Tim Bishop has a solid lead over Randy Altschuler.

NY-13: In the Battle of the Mikes, the incumbent Mike McMahon is holds a healthy lead over GOP challenger Mike Grimm, at least according to McMahon’s internals.

NY-19: Siena puts the GOP’s Nan Hayworth up by 3; Iona has her tied with incumbent Democrat John Hall.

NY-20: The GOP’s Chris Gibson has a tough climb against Democratic incumbent Scott Murphy, but the challenger is running closer among likely voters.

NY-22: Incumbent Democrat Maurice Hinchey had some soft numbers earlier in the year, and now he’s in an altercation with a reporter. Republican George Phillips has his work cut out for him, but it’s not impossible.

NY-23: Public Opinion Strategies puts Matt Doheny ahead by 14; others have shown incumbent Bill Owens in much stronger position.

NY-25: A McLaughlin & Associates poll puts Republican Ann Marie Buerkle ahead by 1. A Siena poll puts her down 12; I’ve heard some readers griping they think Siena overestimates Democrat turnout this year.

NY-29: Tom Reed leads by 14 and is considered one of the safest bets for the GOP this cycle.

OH-1: A Survey USA poll puts Steve Chabot ahead of incumbent Democrat Steve Driehaus by 12.

OH-6: I thought Bill Johnson had a good shot against liberal Democrat Charlie Wilson in this swing district, but then again, I thought the spousal abuse detailed in Charlie Wilson’s divorce papers was news.

OH-10: It may seem hard to believe, but the campaign of GOP challenger Peter Corrigan says they’re only down 4 to Dennis Kucinich.

OH-13: Republican Tom Ganley faces the October surprise of a former campaign volunteer alleging inappropriate behavior. His campaign says he’s still “neck and neck” against Betty Sutton.

OH-15: The Hill puts Steve Stivers ahead of incumbent Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy by 9.

OH-16: The Hill puts Jim Renacci ahead of incumbent Democrat John Boccieri by 3.

OH-18: There hasn’t been much recent polling on incumbent Democrat Zach Space’s bid to hold off Republican challenger Bob Gibbs, but no Ohio Democrat in a swing district should feel too confident this year.

OR-1: Way back in June, the campaign of GOP challenger Rob Cornilles showcased a poll showing their man trailing incumbent Democrat David Wu by 6 points. Not much polling here since then.

OR-4: Put simply, this seat isn’t supposed to be in play, but a GOP poll puts incumbent Democrat DeFazio only up 6.

OR-5: Moore Information, a pollster I am not familiar with that apparently works with Oregon Republicans, puts GOP challenger Scott Bruun ahead of Democratic incumbent Kurt Schrader by 4 points.

OK-2: Incumbent Dan Boren is almost every conservative’s favorite Democrat, but some wondered if a Republican could knock him off this year. Well, never mind that idea; Boren internals put him up by about 35.

PA-3: Mercyhurst College puts Republican Mike Kelly ahead by 7; The Hill puts him ahead by 13.

PA-4: Incumbent Jason Altmire’s internals say he’s up by a ton against GOP challenger Keith Rothkus, but every Pennsylvania Democrat will be swimming against a tide this year.

PA -7: Franklin & Marshall puts Republican Pat Meehan ahead by 3; The Hill puts him ahead by 1; Monmouth puts him ahead by 4.

PA-8: Monmouth University puts Republican Mike Fitzpatrick ahead of Patrick Murphy by 5.

PA-10: The Times Leader puts Republican Tom Marino ahead of incumbent Chris Carney by 6.

PA-11: The Times Leader puts Republican Lou Barletta ahead of embattled Paul Kanjorski by 2; Franklin & Marshall puts Barletta ahead by 7.

PA-12: In a year when Pennsylvania Republicans are thriving, Murtha’s old district continues to taunt the GOP. Democrat Mark Critz leads Tim Burns by 7.

RI-1: It’s been a good year for Republicans, but the wave hasn’t really hit Rhode Island that much: Democrat David Cicilline is ahead comfortably over Republican John Loughlin.

SC-5: Stuart Rothenberg is putting longtime incumbent John Spratt on his list of Democrats who could get washed out by the tide; in his case, by GOP challenger Mick Mulvaney. Each side’s internals show their man up narrowly.

SD-AL: Rasmussen puts Kristi Noem ahead of incumbent Stephanie Herseth Sandlin by 3.

TN-4: Incumbent Democrat Lincoln Davis is down 5 to the GOP’s Scott DesJarlais.

TN-6: According to’s Nate Silver, Republican Diane Black has only a 97 percent chance to win this open seat. She’ll have to try harder.

TN-8: The Hill puts Republican Stephen Fincher ahead by 10 in this open-seat race.

TX-17: An OnMessage, Inc. poll for Bill Flores shows him ahead by 19; a poll for Democrat Chet Edwards shows Flores ahead by 4.

TX-23: An August GOP poll showed incumbent Democrat Ciro Rodriguez trailing challenger Francisco Canseco by 6 points.

TX-27: An OnMessage Inc. poll for Republican Blake Farenthold puts him up by 8 over longtime incumbent Solomon Ortiz.

UT-2: I had wondered if Jim Matheson, a fairly conservative Democrat, might be in trouble in a GOP wave year, but a local poll puts him up 16 on Republican Morgan Philpot.

VA-2: The Hill puts Scott Rigell ahead of incumbent Democrat Glenn Nye by 6.

VA-5: Survey USA puts Republican Robert Hurt up by 11; The Hill puts him ahead by 1.

VA-9: In a year where many rural, Blue Dog Democrats have suffered, Rick Boucher is doing pretty well. SurveyUSA puts him up 10 on the GOP’s Morgan Griffith. We may see a rematch after redistricting.

VA-11: Astoundingly, it appears there’s been no poll in this just-outside-Washington district since one in March, which showed GOP challenger Keith Fimian way ahead of Democrat incumbent Gerry Connolly. These days, I see Gerry Connolly ads every night on the local news.

WA-2: This race wasn’t on the first version of this list, but a SurveyUSA poll from early September showing Republican challenger John Koster four points ahead of incumbent Democrat Rick Larsen makes it worth adding to the list.

WA-3: Survey USA puts Republican Jaime Herrera ahead by 3; The Hill puts her ahead by 2.

WA-9: In September, SurveyUSA surprised the district by showing Dick Muri within 3 of Democrat incumbent Adam Smith.

WV-1: In this open-seat race, The Hill puts Democrat Mike Oliverio ahead by 3 over Republican David McKinley.

WV-3: Spike Maynard has yet to really get traction against longtime Democrat incumbent Nick Rahall.

WI-7: The Hill puts Sean Duffy up by 9 in this open-seat race against state lawmaker Julie Lassa.

WI -8: In August, AAF found GOP challenger Reid Ribble leading Democrat incumbent Steve Kagen by 10 points.

Tags: 2010

Bad News in a Mere 86 Seats for Democrats Today


Glen Bolger offers our first eye-opening poll numbers of the day. Apparently a GOP lead in polls in 39 Democrat-held House districts is small potatoes.

Back in June, the survey that Stan Greenberg and I conducted for NPR was huge news. Conducted in 60 Democrat-held and 10 Republican-held seats, it showed Republicans ahead by a 48%-39% count in the Tier 1 seats (30 most vulnerable) and up 47%-45% in the Tier 2 seats (next 30 seats). It was the first indicator to the national media that a wave was building.

Once again working with Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner Research (GQR) we just did a similar survey for NPR. However, we expanded to all the seats on the Cook Political Report’s list at the time — 86 Democratic held seats (53 in Tier 1) and 10 GOP seats.

As always, any analysis on this blog is solely mine and does not reflect that attitudes and opinions of either NPR or GQR.

The ballot test is NOT the same as a generic ballot. Rather than simply ask if they were voting for the Republican or the Democratic candidate, we tested actual candidate names by district. While the sample size per district is too small to look at any single campaign, it does give clear direction on the situation in the House Battleground seats.

In the Tier 1 seats, the Republican candidates lead 48%-44%. The GOP candidates are tied with the Democratic candidates at 45% each in Tier 2, and in the GOP seats (which are actually heavily Democratic), the GOPer leads 49%-42%. Combined across the 86 Democrat-held seats, the GOPer leads 46%-44%.

(For reference, averaged across the Tier 1 Dem seats, McCain actually won those districts in 2008 by a 50.1% to 48.6% margin. In the Tier 2 Dem seats, McCain lost 48%-50.9%. The GOP seats voted just 40.6% McCain and 58.1% Obama (remember, the GOP seats wouldn’t be on this list if they were safe seats!).

Not every one of those Dem seats are going to go Republican — clearly much hangs in the balance. However, incumbents who are polling 45% or below when there is a wave against them lose.

Underscoring the importance of the enthusiasm gap, Republicans lead 50%-41% in the 86 Democrat seats among high interest voters — those who rate their interest as an 8-10 on a scale of 1-10. That is reinforced by the finding that low interest voters prefer the Democrat by a 32% GOP/55% Dem margin. So, the group that Democrats are doing best with don’t care.

Stan Greenberg makes the point that these are heavily screened voters, so even the less interested ones are likely to vote. I’m a little more skeptical, and it underscores the hard road the Democrats have on motivating their voters. If they succeed, they’ll hold their losses down below 50, and if they fail, the losses will cross over the 50 level and could be huge.

There were 58 seats that we tested in both June and October. In June, the GOPer led 49%-41% in those seats. Now, the GOP lead is smaller — 47%-44%. But again, these are mostly incumbent seats and, aggregated, the Dem is both losing AND below 45%.

On paper, these narrow margins aren’t terrible news for the Democrats. But Bolger’s point about incumbents is pretty strong; voters in these districts, by and large, know who their incumbent is and how they feel about them. While it’s possible that Democrat House incumbents come up with some fantastic closing argument in these two weeks, they’re probably pretty near their ceiling right now, and the mid-40s is not a healthy place to be.

Tags: 2010 , Polling

If You Invite Me to Speak, I May Never Stop


From the Jolt . . . where if you subscribed, I wouldn’t have to tease you with an excerpt each morning:

Jim’s Rant at AU

The following is more or less the chat I gave at American University last night, with our old friend Byron York and a name you’ve seen in these parts regularly, Patrick Ruffini.


So what’s going to happen on Election Day?

Usually when you’re talking about wave elections, you compare it to some massive natural disaster. It’s a landslide. It’s a tsunami. It’s a political earthquake.

We’re now in the territory where we need some new terms. Perhaps we can call it ‘Political Climate Change.’ “Mass Extinction Event” seems to cover it. For a lot of Democrats opening the ballot box is going to feel like opening the Ark of the Covenant, complete with heads exploding and faces melting. Instead of provoking the Wrath of God, they’ve provoked the Wrath of the Electorate.

Start with the Gallup generic ballot numbers. As Republicans, we’re used to rooting for a tie. Usually, if Republicans are down by 3 or less, they feel pretty good. If it’s a tie, Republicans feel like they’re set to have a really good year. “Ahead by 17” isn’t really on the usual scale. You’re left tapping the screen and asking if it could possibly be right.

Keep in mind, in the good scenario for Democrats, with higher turnout, Republicans are still ahead by 12.

Everything has shifted over one step. You will probably will be able to count the number of defeated incumbent Republicans on one hand. Joseph Cao in Louisiana. Maybe Charles Djou in Hawaii, even though a poll shows him ahead. By the time you’re hitting three or four, you’re already reaching.

No David Vitter in Louisiana, no Richard Burr in North Carolina.

Then you’ve got your traditional swing states that look pretty much over: Roy Blunt in Missouri, Pat Toomey and Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania, Rob Portman and John Kasich in Ohio, Rick Snyder in the governor’s race in Michigan — a lot of these states have been rough sledding for Republicans in the past couple cycles. All of the candidates I mentioned should not just win, but win pretty easily.

Then you’ve got your deep blue states that look competitive. Russ Feingold looks like toast in Wisconsin. In California, Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina have good shots. Dino Rossi has had a narrow lead in Washington lately.  Richard Blumenthal was supposed to lock up Connecticut; hasn’t happened.

Then you’ve got your what the heck-is-going-on indicators. John Dingell has represented Michigan in Congress since the Big Bang and he’s running attack ads. Same with Dale Kildee in that state. My congressman in Virginia, Jim Moran, usually wins 2-to-1. You know him, he sounds like Mayor Quimby. He’s below 50 percent. David Price in North Carolina. All of these guys are acting not necessarily like they’re afraid they’re going to lose, but like they have to work for it this year.

My discovery today: in the last three weeks, 39 GOP House challengers have outpolled their Democratic rivals.

Now, we’re Republicans. We know things can go wrong. In some places, they have. In Colorado, Republicans effectively gave away the governor’s race. Scott McInnis committed plagiarism, and Dan Maes is amazing us with his inability to campaign. At this point, no Republican is going to be competitive statewide in New York, and that’s going to hurt the House candidates there. In Delaware . . . need I say more?

But the Democrats really brought this on themselves, for five big reasons.

No jobs, and they promised the stimulus would create jobs.

Health care. Never polled well. Americans never liked it. The vast majority of House Democrats are now either running from it or trying to pretend it didn’t exist.

Border security, DOJ suing Arizona. I’m still waiting for the ad showcasing Democrats standing in the House of Representatives applauding the Mexican president as he denounces the duly-elected lawmakers of the state of Arizona. You can hear the voice over now: ‘They stand with him, and they don’t stand with you.’

Runaway spending. The deficit is no longer a numbers issue; it is a moral issue. Go to a Tea Party and you’ll hear people talk about what we’re doing to our children and grandchildren and what kind of a country we are to do this sort of thing.

Ground Zero Mosque — not so much support of the  mosque but how quick the Democrats and their media allies were to demonize those who thought it was a bad idea and insensitive. Democrats have forgotten how to make an argument to persuade someone who doesn’t already agree with them. They’ve gotten lazy and are used to being able to denounce the opposition as xenophobic, racist, hateful, and out of the realm of respectable society.

We had a million indicators this was coming throughout the past two years, or at least five big ones.

Christie & McDonnell winning in 2009.

The rise of the Tea Parties.

The town hall meetings during the summer of 2009. “Congressman, they’re burning you in effigy. Perhaps you had better open up with a joke.”

Perhaps the biggest warning you could imagine, Scott Brown’s win. And they pressed on anyway.

Higher turnout in GOP primaries throughout the year.

Keep in mind the subtext to this is that we were told, repeatedly, that President Obama was the smartest, most savvy, most prepared man to step into the Oval Office. We were told, by liberals and the MSM and by almost every Democrat except Hillary Clinton, that Barack Obama was just about the most ideal candidate the party could imagine in 2008. And look at where we are as a country.

So that’s the outlook for Republicans: The floor is a pretty darn good Election Day; the ceiling is if not the Extinction of the Modern Democratic Party, then the end of Keynesianism, the end of the notion that entitlements are untouchable, the end of the public trusting the mainstream media, the end of the notion of public option and nationalized health care, the end of amnesty, the end of Card Check and the end of the demonize-first-and-ask-questions later mentality of today’s Democrats.

If that doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what does.

Tags: 2010 , Barack Obama


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