Tuesday, October 31, 2006

One Week To Go

And down the stretch they come! Dirt is flying, but not from horses' hooves, it’s the RNC flinging it everywhere. From 2 second accidental calls to a sex line indicating moral turpitude, to a single black man being accused of liking white meat, the RNC has lowered the bar on decency as far as they can – at least we have to hope they can’t go lower. They have no shame or decency, so anything is possible. With the wonders of Photoshop available to them, God knows what they might come up with in the waning hours.

House Notes: The biggest polling news this week is the second round of RT Strategies/Constituent Dynamics polls. The first round was heavily tilted toward the Dems and a number of intervening polls were less enthusiastic about the Democratic wave. The latest round seems to confirm their first poll and even expands the Dems lead. This can only be interpreted as good news for the Dems. At this point, I’m looking at the Dems ending up at 225, +/- 3. Of course, there’s a huge difference between 222 and 228 – at 222 the Dems would be unlikely to hold n past 2008, but at 228, they could have a chance. Remember, the Dems are taking over a bunch of Republican districts here.

Senate: A little different approach this week. I’ll divide this into three groupings.

1) All Over But The Shouting: PA, OH, RI – these are three different brands of Republicans going down here – the moderate Chaffee, the conservative DeWine, the lunatic Santorum (in whose latest commercial he proudly proclaims that he’s been able to work with Hillary Clinton...talk about desperate). The RI race is closer than the others, but I saw the last debate and Whitehouse dominated. It was amazing to me how much more effective he was at linking Republican Senator = Republican Control = Bush Agenda than Ben Cardin was in his debate. That is why this race is in this group and Cardin’s isn’t. This group gives the Dems 3 of the 6 seats they need to take control

2) Write Two Speeches, Just In Case: MD, MT, NJ – In MT, Tester maintains a small but steady lead. Again, Mr. Burns has not led in a poll since April, and even that looks like a statistical blip. Cardin has the lead in MD and should win, but I’m a little nervous. See last Tuesday’s post for the details.
NJ is a late addition to this group instead of the third group. The three most recent polls have Menendez up by 5 points, which might put it in the first group except that the momentum in this race changes weekly. Oddly, the latest shift has occurred in the face of a $5 million ad buy by the national GOP (most of it filthy). What does it say about the efficacy of these kinds of ads? Are people finally tiring of the slash and burn school of politics? I pray to God that’s the case, not for the sake of my party, but for the sake of our democracy. The same thing seems to be happening in VA, so maybe there is something here.
Taken together, this would be a one seat pickup for the Dems.

3) Bring Lawyers, Guns, and Money : TN, VA, MO – Okay, maybe not guns...although, considering the nature of the Tennessee race, I can think of worse things for Ford voters to have handy. But lawyers and money will certainly be active in the others. In VA, three of the last four neutral polls have Webb up by 3 or more points. The fourth, Rasmussen, has Allen up by 3, but that is down from their previous 6 point margin. There seems to be a clear trend toward Webb here, which is happening in the face of a huge GOP ad buy, featuring salacious passages from a 20 year-old novel by Webb. Incredibly, this has not resonated with the voters as powerfully as the war in Iraq – go figure. I would put this in the previous grouping, but I’ll have to see it to believe it.
If the disgusting GOP ad tactics have had the reverse of their intended effect in VA and NJ, why hasn’t that happened in TN? What does this say of the citizens of the Volunteer state when the ad considered the worst of all of them by everyone this side of the morally bankrupt Ken Mehlman had no impact at all? Yes, Corker disowned the ad, but he didn’t insist they pull it. The CNN poll giving him and 8 point lead seems to be a bit of an outlier. The other three recent polls, LA Times, Rasmussen, and SUSA, have the race at 5, 2, and even – which, if you assume 2 or 3 to be accurate, are basically the same. I have not been alone in saying that Ford’s polling numbers should exceed his actual numbers because black candidates for statewide office always do. Yet the theory behind that is based on a reluctance to tell a caller that you are voting against a black candidate for fear of being thought a racist. Yet in this case Ford’s best numbers are from the two robopolls (SUSA and Rasmussen) and Corker’s are in the two human polls. Some have posited that in conservative areas there is a reluctance to tell pollsters that you aren’t a “values” person – is that the case here? Or are these just random variations? In any case, Ford is probably behind and I’m not spectacularly optimistic. Of course, if you’ve been reading this the last month, I never have been about TN.
Attention all election lawyers: make sure you have plane reservations for your trip to Missouri. Arrive no later than November 8th and bring several changes of clothes, you’re going to be there for a while. Oh yes, and in case you’ve forgotten from last time, the capitol of Missouri is not St. Louis, but Jefferson City, so you won’t get to meet Stan Musial. Let’s look at the recent history of this seat. In 2000, Mel Carnahan won it by a 51-48 margin. He won despite two major disadvantages: John Ashcroft was the incumbent and Carnahan was dead. Carnahan, being dead, was unable to serve (not that he would have been a worse Senator than Ashcroft, smell not withstanding), so his wife Jean was appointed to the seat. She had to run again in 2002, where she lost 51-49 to Jim Talent, who was alive at the time. Talent is still alive and it’s hard to believe that he can win two of these incredibly tight races in a row. Claire McCaskill, on the other hand, lost a nut-crunching (if she had them) race for Governor two years ago, 51-48. It would be awful to be on the losing end of two in a row like that, wouldn’t it? If the VA numbers are real and Webb is ahead, this decides the Senate. That it would come down to the starkest ideological division of any of these races is somewhat amazing. Because of that division, I want this seat more than any of the others, control of the Senate or not. Now this sounds a lot like Florida 2000, doesn’t it? In Florida the counting and recounting had to go through Gov. Jeb Bush and the odious Katherine Harris as Secretary of State. Things are slightly different in MO. The Governor is right-wing Republican Matt Blunt, but the Secretary of State is Democrat Robin Carnahan. That name sound familiar? She’s Mel and Jean Carnahan’s daughter – oh, how delicious would her getting to announce a McCaskill victory be?


Post a Comment

<< Home