Posts Tagged ‘election’

Republican House in Trouble for 2014

Things aren’t looking too good for the House GOP. It turns out that shutting down the government is not a popular thing. When you take the position that over 70 percent of Americans do not support, it will generally have a negative effect on your political prospects. That’s the position that Boehner and Co. find themselves in going into 2014′s midterm elections.

As the Washington Post points out, it will take roughly a 7.5% Democratic advantage on the national Congressional ballot next year, due to gerrymandering, in order to win back the House. It may be a point or two less than that, depending on the outcomes in individual districts, but 7.5% will get the job done.

Democrats have a 6% advantage in national generic polls for the House of Representatives — and that was before the shutdown occurred. By taking the position that 70%+ of the country oppose in shutting down the government, Republicans have shot themselves in the foot. They’ve managed to take what was likely a slam-dunk majority in the House and possible one in the Senate (barring major screw-ups like a government shutdown or threatening default) and turned it into a competitive bid for control of the House while making a GOP Senate majority improbable (at best).

The generic ballot is useful to look at national trends but it doesn’t give a glimpse at individual House districts. PPP, which had the best track record of pollsters in 2012, went into the field after the shutdown and found that Democrats led in 17 of the 24 Republican-held districts sampled. As it turns out, 17 is the magic number for Democrats to win a majority.

But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Since several of these districts are in deep red territory, such as Steve King’s Iowa 4, it is quite possible that districts with similar compositions are also competitive but weren’t polled. It’s worth noting that Steve King has a penchant for saying outrageous things — something fellow Tea Party members seem to have in common — comparing DREAM activists to drug mules. The competitive nature of his district may have more to do with his mouth than anything else but it is good news for Democrats nonetheless.

This analysis has a lot of caveats: 1) several of these races sampled were within the margin of error 2) polling a year out is unreliable due to changing circumstances and fading memories 3) a generic candidate always sounds better than a real one. Nonetheless, macro trends matter for fundraising, retaining incumbent candidates and recruiting quality candidates to challenge incumbents or replace retiring members.

President Obama Heavy Favorite For Tuesday

President Barack Obama is a heavy favorite to win on Tuesday against Republican Mitt Romney according to an analysis of state-by-state polling data. It appeared after the first debate that Romney might make a race of it with polls showing a surge in his direction, but within two weeks of the first debate the polling averages settled towards a statistical tie. The majority of national polls now either show a literal tie or a slight Obama advantage nationally.

U.S. President Obama Speaks at Intel's Fab 42
The president will have plenty of reason to smile if the polls hold up.

Even more important than the national popular vote, though, is of course state-by-state results. If current polling is accurate, Obama will win in the range of 281-347 electoral votes. Obama importantly holds consistent polling leads in Ohio where eight of the most recent polls have Obama ahead, one shows a tie and only one has Romney ahead (and it is sponsored by a Republican affiliated pollster). Likewise, Florida has moved in recent weeks from leaning toward Romney to becoming a true toss-up. Obama leads in four of the ten most recent polls out of the Sunshine State, Romney leads in four and they are tied in two. It is literally a toss-up, although momentum favors Obama. Even more bleak for Romney: the twenty-two swing state polls released on Friday showed Obama leading in nineteen, Romney in one and two ties.

Ultimately, Obama has a much stronger base of Democratic-leaning states than Romney has GOP-leaning states. If you give Obama all of the states that have went to the Democrat in the past five straight elections, Obama has 242 Electoral Votes (EVs) of the 270 that are required to win the White House. Add in Iowa, Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire and New Mexico (where he has polled consistently ahead in each state by respected non-partisan pollsters) then you would reach 281 EVs, which I consider the low end of Obama’s likely results on Tuesday night. Throw in Colorado, which is close but has leaned more Obama than Romney most of the cycle, and you reach 290. He would reach 332 by adding Florida and Virginia to Obama’s column, both possibilities but still less likely than the other states as they are near literal toss-ups. Finally, he could reach 347 by winning North Carolina, but he has polled worse in NC than any of the other states. Frankly, North Carolina is the only “swing state” that Romney can more or less count on. For Romney to win he would need to sweep the table of all of these states, plus pick off

Of course this analysis is based on polling data that could be influenced by the recent hurricane. It’s not clear how the hurricane and its aftermath will change the state of the race. It’s distinctly possible that the hurricane can hurt Obama’s popular vote total in places like Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania where power has not been fully restored and people are more worried about rebuilding their lives. Clearly you can’t blame them if the election becomes a secondary thought. Nonetheless, Obama should win those states without much problem. It would just affect the national popular vote total.

I will have a full state-by-state prediction on Tuesday for both the presidential election and Senate races. Stay tuned!

NaNoWriMo: And So It Begins…

For the second year in a row I’ve decided to participate in the National Novel Writing Month. Basically it is an intense month-long writing marathon that challenges authors to compose a 50,000 word novel in just thirty days throughout the month of November. I fell short of finishing in the month last year with Operation Bald Eagle. It ultimately took two months (which I thought was still respectable). This year I’m determined to actually get it done in one.

The book is tentatively titled Dusk Before Dawn and is a direct sequel to Operation Bald Eagle. “What’s it about?” you ask. Good question!

A presidential election is underway to replace a corrupt government overrun by lobbyists and super PACs. The CIA already brought down a sitting president and members of Congress who colluded with a crazed business mogul intent on starting a war with China during Operation Bald Eagle, yet monied interests continue to have a stranglehold on American democracy. Meanwhile, international events in Europe promise to upend the election in a big way. Agent Ethan Clark and the CIA must confront global conflict while closely monitoring the integrity of the American elections.

It’s definitely a timely topic with just a week to go before the election. If you’re worried that it is loaded with partisan ramblings, though, then you have nothing to fear. This book is meant to draw attention to the rampant corruption of our current political system with its limitless flood of cash from millionaires and billionaires at the expense of average voters. It does not attempt to blame one party or the other. Since it is a work of fiction it uses obvious hyperbole, but it still acts as a warning for the future of our democracy.

You can read Dusk Before Dawn as it is being written by visiting my NaNoWriMo page at Smashwords (http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/250909). Check back throughout November for updates on the writing process!


Tentative book cover

Americans Strongly Support Dumping Electoral College

The outdated Electoral College system should be replaced by the popular vote according to American adults. A Gallup poll highlights the strong support for a constitutional amendment to replace the Electoral College:

Americans support scrapping the Electoral College in favor of the popular vote by a wide margin. A Gallup poll shows that 62 percent of U.S. adults would support amending the U.S. Constitution to replace the current system, which has allowed popular vote losers to move into the White House. Only 35 percent support keeping the current system.

The Founding Fathers designed it to limit the influence that a majority of voters could have on an election and ensure that smaller states would have larger voice. The number of electors to the Electoral College is determined based on a state’s number of House members plus their two members of the Senate. Small states like Wyoming are greatly over-represented in the Electoral College, where there are 187,875 voters in the state for every electoral vote. Large states like California are disadvantaged, where there are over 675,000 voters per electoral vote.

This should not be terribly surprising. The Electoral College is viewed as an overly complicated, archaic system by many voters. It has resulted in the election of three presidents that lost the popular vote, but won the Electoral College. Despite its sketchy history and undemocratic design, the fact that a third of voters still support it particularly Republicans, is disappointing. Passing a constitutional amendment would be difficult, if not impossible, due to the fact that it would require smaller states to support it. There is, however, an alternative:

Due to the difficulty of passing a constitutional amendment, states that support a popular vote system have sought a work-around within the current Electoral College. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact would award each states’ electoral votes to the national popular vote winner. The state compact would only take effect once enough states pass the law to reach 270 electoral votes, the minimum number required to be elected president.

You can read all about the Electoral College’s history, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact and more at Gather News.

Democrats Win By Defending Middle Class

President Obama is holding up remarkably well against his potential Republican challengers, despite low approval ratings. The economy is in a state of disarray with wild swings in the stock market and evidence that we may be heading into a second recession. Politically, it could not happen at a worse time for the president as he gears up for re-election.

However, history shows that when Democrats stand for middle class voters, they win elections. Franklin D. Roosevelt won four consecutive terms as president in the 1930s and 40s, despite entering during the Great Depression, which did not completely end until our entrance into World War II. A lot of this had to do with the public’s trust in the president that he was looking out for their interests against a Republican Party that looked out for big-business.

Wisconsin is a prime modern-day example of this. Republicans rode into office in 2010 with a message about economics and jobs. They quickly turned towards dismantling unions, a traditional protector of the middle class, despite the fact that they never even ran on it. The result: a historic six Republicans in the state senate faced recall elections. Two of them were defeated and the other four were all under 60% in traditionally Republican districts. Democrats moved from a 19-14 minority with little power to a 17-16 minority that will effectively stop radical legislation.

Rick Perlstein, author of the new book Nixonland, writes about how defending the social safety net helps Democrats to win elections:

…there’s also a story in Nixonland about how the Democratic Party wins, why it loses and the good things that happen when the party gets the formula right. I surely hope Obama did not miss it.

It concerns the two major axes upon which major national elections get fought. Sometimes they become battles over the cultural and social anxieties that ordinary Americans suffer. Other times they are showdowns about middle-class anxieties when the free market fails. Normally, in the former sort of election, Republicans win. In the latter, Democrats do—as we saw in 2008, when the tide turned after John McCain said “the fundamentals of the economy are strong.

I hope that the president learns a thing or two from Perlstein’s book. His move towards what he perceives as the political middle with incessant talk about deficit-cutting has hurt his standing among middle class voters. There is no doubt that the country faces long-term deficit issues, but the jobs picture is far more serious and urgent. President Obama should pivot towards jobs by unveiling a bold and detailed jobs plan while at the same time defending programs like Social Security and Medicare that the middle class rely on. Take it to the American people. Dare the Republicans in Congress to rebuff your plan. Not only would it be good politics, it would be good for the country to see real economic leadership. We need it.

The Truth Behind Nancy Pelosi’s House Record

Last week Republicans took control of the House of Representatives for the first time since 2006. The reasons are more complicated than some would lead you to believe, but put simply, it was a mix of high unemployment, a huge money advantage for Republicans by corporate benefactors, dissatisfaction with Washington gridlock, and demographics in midterms that favor Republicans over Democrats. Older people tend to vote in all elections, while younger voters only tend to vote in presidential years. In fact, only about a quarter of young voters participated in the 2010 election vs. half of them during 2008. That’s a steep drop-off and largely benefited the Republicans.

No matter the outcome of the midterm election, it is indisputable that the last Congress was one of the most productive ever. For all of the Pelosi haters out there, Speaker Pelosi accomplished a great deal in the past four years, including many things that Republicans would have supported in the past (such as tax cuts). Her image as a “San Francisco liberal” did not make her many friends in the nation’s mid-section and President Obama rarely defended her, despite the fact that she was carrying his bucket in the House. Here are just a few of the many accomplishments that Pelosi managed when she was House Speaker:

*Extending unemployment benefits. The roughly 10-15% of people unemployed in this area (depending on which county you live in) would not have unemployment benefits if the GOP had their way.
*Expanding health care coverage to all Americans by 2014 (unless Republicans de-fund it, which is quite possible)
*Regulating the banks to make sure that future bailouts do not happen.
*Ending the bank bailouts from the Bush years.
*Increasing funding for financial aid to college, including Pell Grants and reducing the cost of student loans.
*Creating an estimated 3.7 million jobs with the Recovery Act

I would stand by that record any day of the week. The Republicans got us into the ditch and the Democrats got us out. It wasn’t easy and times are still tough, but we are on the path to recovery. Going down the Republican path of de-regulation and tax cuts for the rich will only ensure a future economic collapse.

How did our projections hold up?

Looking back at last night’s election results and comparing them to the projections that were made on this site, we had a perfect score. The races that we had rated as “Toss-ups” split 4-2 for the Republicans, but all of the “Leans Democrat” seats stayed in Democratic hands (the only caveat is that Washington state still has votes yet to be counted). Let’s take a look at the projections from October 27:

The “Toss-up” states that I had listed were Alaska, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. States that “Lean Democrat” included California, Washington and West Virginia. Now let’s look at the actual results on Election Day:

The individual results for the “Toss-up” states looked like this, organized by how close the final result was:

Colorado

Michael Bennet (D) – 47.7%
Ken Buck (R) – 46.8%

Pennsylvania

Pat Toomey (R) – 51%
Joe Sestak (D) – 49%

Illinois

Mark Kirk (R) – 48.3%
Alexi Giannoulias (D) – 46.2%

Wisconsin

Ron Johnson (R) – 51.9%
Russ Feingold (D) – 47.1%

Nevada

Harry Reid (D) – 50.2%
Sharron Angle (R) – 44.6%

Alaska

Lisa Murkowski (Write-in) – 41%
Joe Miller (R) – 34.2%

Analysis:

We can look at these results and conclude a few things. First, the conventional wisdom that Harry Reid was dead in Nevada was wrong. Not only did he win, he got over 50 percent of the vote. In Pennsylvania, many pundits had assumed that Pat Toomey was well ahead of Joe Sestak. The final results showed a tight 2 point race. Wisconsin, which some people criticized me for listing as a “Toss-up”, turned out to be closer than both Nevada and West Virginia. Lastly, incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski went against the odds to win a write-in vote over the Republican nominee, Joe Miller, who defeated her in the primary just a couple months ago. In each of the “Toss-up” calls that were made, the final results were anywhere between 0.9 – 6.8%. None of the races that were listed as either “Leans Democrat” or “Leans Republican” switched parties.

Races to Watch on Election Night

Election Night is drawing nearer, so I thought that a list of races to watch would be beneficial to those not terribly familiar with individual races and national dynamics. Instead of relying on what CNN or MSNBC tell you on Election Night, take control by tracking a few key races that could determine which party controls the next Congress. We’ve made it easy by focusing in on five House and Senate races from across the country.

House Races

Out of all the states where Republicans are looking to capture House seats, perhaps Indiana is the best indicator of whether Republicans will win the House and by what margin. For starters, it will be the first state to report its vote totals. Polls close at 6 Eastern, although part of the state is on Central, so the results won’t begin coming until 7 p.m.

Indiana 9 is a district in Southern Indiana that straddles the Kentucky border along the Ohio River and includes college towns like Bloomington, home of Indiana University. Democrat Baron Hill is the incumbent here. He voted for the stimulus package and health care bill, but against the Wall Street bailout and cap-and-trade.

The district has swapped between parties a number of times this decade. Hill was elected in 1998 51% to 48%, re-elected in 2000 and managed to survive in 2002, a rough year for Democrats when they lost seats to the president’s party (this rarely happens, even though both 1998 and 2002 were exceptions). Hill lost in 2004 by 2,000 votes to Mike Sodrel, his opponent from 2002. Two years later, in 2006, Hill ran again and won against Sodrel as Democrats captured the House. Not satisfied with defeat, Sodrel ran a fourth time in 2008, losing to Hill by 20 points.

It is expected that this will be a tight race. Polls show that Hill is essentially tied with his opponent at 45 percent. While that is not where an incumbent wants to be in a year like 2010, it isn’t an insurmountable challenge, either. If Hill wins, the Democrats probably hold on to the House. If he loses, the Republicans will likely win the House; the only question is by what margin. That’s where the next district comes into play.

Indiana 2 is a Northern Indiana district that voted for Barack Obama in 2008 by 10 points after supporting Bush in 2004. This is a swing district at the presidential level, but favors Democrats at the Congressional level. Blue Dog Democrat Joe Donnelly has represented Indiana 2 since 2006. After losing in 2004 to Republican Chris Chocola, he succeeded by an impressive 8 point margin in 2006. In 2008, Donnelly won with 67 percent support as Obama carried Indiana for the first time since 1964. While Republicans do not need to win Indiana 2 to win the House, it would signify a sizable wave in the range of 55 to 60 seats.

The bottom line: It is hard to see how the Republicans can win the House if they cannot manage to win Indiana 9. While Obama improved his performance over John Kerry in every single county in Indiana, Southern Indiana was still McCain territory. These voters should be among the more skeptical of the current administration and more likely to vote Republican. Indiana 2 is anchored by St. Joseph County, which is strongly Democratic. If Republicans win this seat, it will be a barometer of how many seats their majority is, not whether they will win a majority.

Senate Races

The Senate will be a lot easier to monitor than the House whether it is about to switch party hands or not. For one reason, the House has 435 individual races, around 100 of which are truly competitive to any degree. The Senate has around a dozen truly competitive races, making it that much easier to track. The races that you will want to watch are the Toss-Ups. To make things easier to track, we are assuming Republican advantages in a number of states (Arkansas, Indiana, North Dakota, etc.). The “Must Win” states are ones that Republicans must win in order to have a chance at a majority. Instead of listing each of them, we are going to focus on the two most crucial. The “2 out of 3″ states are named such because Republicans will need to win 2 out of 3 to gain a majority, assuming they win the “Must Win” states:

Must Win

Illinois is the best early indicator of whether Republicans have a chance of winning control of the Senate. Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Alexi Giannoulias are in a tight race for President Obama’s former Senate seat. The president was in Chicago on Saturday to rally the Democratic base near his home in Hyde Park at the University of Chicago. Losing this seat will mean that Republicans are having a good night. On the other hand, if Democrats manage to hold onto Illinois, it will shut the door on Republican chances at capturing the Senate.

Colorado is expected to be one of the closest of all the contests on Tuesday. Senator Michael Bennet was appointed by Governor Bill Ritter to fill the seat of Ken Salazar, whom President Obama tapped to be his Secretary of the Interior. Had Salazar been on the ballot, winning his seat in 2004 against the odds, he probably would have easily won re-election. Bennet has run a good campaign, though, and is facing a far-right candidate in Ken Buck. If Republicans win Colorado and Illinois, it means that they are well on their way to knocking off Harry Reid in nearby Nevada and could gain control of the Upper Chamber. If Democrats win Colorado, it once again shuts the door on that possibility.

2 out of 3

Washington could be the state that decides whether Democrats or Republicans control the Senate. Democrats may lose Illinois, Colorado and a number of other states, but hold on to Washington. The reverse will not hold true, though. If Democrats hold on to Illinois, Colorado, West Virginia, etc., Republicans will not win in Washington state.

Even with a win in Washington, Republicans will need to sweep the board in every other Toss-Up state, and win in California or West Virginia. The math would look something like this: Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The bottom line: The Republicans essentially have to sweep everything in order to gain the majority: seats that Lean Republican, Toss-ups, and Lean Democrat. They need a net pick-up of 10 seats to get the 51 seat majority that would be needed to break Vice President Joe Biden’s tie. A 50/50 split in the Senate is not out of the question, as is what happened in 2000, although Democrats would retain the majority in that situation instead of Republicans.

Election Projection 2010: October 27 Senate Update

We are now in the final stretch of the midterm elections. We have looked at every Senate race in the country. Between now and Election Day we are going to make some revisions as needed.

Adjustments

Connecticut – Democrat Richard Blumenthal has opened a double-digit lead over Republican Linda McMahon. The multi-millionaire McMahon, who has put her own fortune into the race, is seeing firsthand how difficult it is for conservative Republicans to win in the Northeast. Even more striking is that it is a strong year for Republicans in other parts of the country. Perhaps the one exception in this region is New Hampshire, where Republicans may pick up as many as two House seats and retain control of retiring Republican Judd Gregg’s Senate seat. At any rate, Connecticut is moving from Leans Democrat to Likely Democrat.

Illinois – This is a race that should not have happened. Had it not been for the Rod Blagojevich deciding to try to sell a Senate seat (which resulted in a conviction of lying to the FBI), President Obama’s former seat would likely be held by a respected Congressperson like Jan Schakowsky or Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Instead, Democrats went through a messy ordeal where Blagojevich appointed sitting Senator Roland Burris, who decided not to run for the seat in his own right when he saw that he could neither raise the funds to mount a campaign nor win even if he had the fortune of Meg Whitman.

Democrats nominated the state’s Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, a young Obama protégé. Unfortunately for the party, he carried baggage from a family bank that went into federal receivership after it suffered from the same mortgage crisis that had gripped other banks nationwide. His Republican opponent, Congressman Mark Kirk, has a habit of lying about his military record and teaching experience, as well as flip-flopping positions. Needless to say, Giannoulias should be far ahead in the polls, but the fact that it is a Republican year and his family bank problems are dragging him down. It will be one of the closest in the country and could be decided by the support of third party candidates. The Green Party candidate could hand this seat to Mark Kirk and the Republicans. This race is moving from Leans Democrat to Toss-up.

Kentucky – Democrats had hoped that Kentucky would be one of the few potential Republican seats that they could carry. Their candidate, Attorney General Jack Conway, is the Southern Democrat that can win statewide elections. Republican opponent Rand Paul is a quirky conservative that is too far right for even many Kentuckians. The race was close and some polls even had Conway ahead. Then the Conway campaign released an ad questioning Paul’s religion, saying that in college he worshiped “Aqua Buddha”, a reference to a CQ article alleging Paul forcibly told a woman in college to bow down and worship a bong that they smoked from. The Paul campaign immediately attacked the ad and the candidate himself refused to shake the hand of Conway at a debate. If the latest polls are any indication, the ad seems to have backfired, even if it is true. This race is moving from Toss-up to Leans Republican.


Below is a map of the Senate races that we have covered with the above mentioned revisions:

Election Projection 2010: Northeast Senate Seats

We’re now just two weeks away from the midterm elections. Today, we’re going to have a look at the Northeast:

Connecticut
Incumbent: Chris Dodd (D) – Retiring
Challenger(s): Linda McMahon (R), Richard Blumenthal (D)
Prediction: Leans Democrat

Linda McMahon joins several other wealthy Republican businesswomen that have run for office this year (California’s Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina are the other two). Each of them appears likely to lose in Democratically-inclined states. McMahon made her wealth as an executive for WWE (yes, that McMahon). Blumenthal has made a point that the company’s health record is not all that great. In fact, it’s quite poor. Several wrestlers died either while McMahon was the leader of the WWE or shortly after leaving the company. Blumenthal has problems of his own, taking credit for serving in Vietnam, when in fact, he was only in the military at the time, but not stationed in Vietnam. Still, even though both candidates have character flaws, Connecticut is a Democratic state and will likely elect Blumenthal. Polls show him leading anywhere from five points to double digits.

Delaware
Incumbent: Ted Kaufman (D) – Retiring
Challenger(s): Christine O’Donnell (R), Chris Coons (D)
Prediction: Likely Democrat

Perhaps no Senate race has garnered more media coverage than Delaware. In a normal year, it wouldn’t get any attention at all. That was until political neophyte and Tea Party darling Christine O’Donnell knocked off Congressman and former governor Mike Castle, a moderate, to win the Republican Party’s primary. Castle was an overwhelming favorite to win the general election and give the Republicans a pick-up. Now the odds have flipped. Democrats are overwhelmingly favored to hold on to the former seat of Vice President Joe Biden. If Republicans manage to win 9 Senate seats this year, O’Donnell and the Tea Party will be vilified for handing the Senate to the Democrats.

Maryland
Incumbent: Barbara Mikulski (D)
Challenger(s): Eric Wargotz (R)
Prediction: Likely Democrat

Not a whole lot to say about Maryland’s Senate race. Incumbent Democrat Barbara Mikulski will easily get re-elected over Republican challenger Eric Wargotz. The only question is by how much. The real race to watch in Maryland is for governor, where incumbent Democrat Martin O’Malley finds himself in a rematch with the man whom he defeated in 2006, former governor Bob Ehrlich.

New Hampshire
Incumbent: Judd Gregg (R) – Retiring
Challenger(s): Kelly Ayotte (R), Paul Hodes (D)
Prediction: Leans Republican

New Hampshire was a state that was trending towards the Democrats. While George W. Bush won the state in 2000, John Kerry picked it up in 2004, and Barack Obama improved upon that in 2008. Democrats won both House seats and the governor’s mansion in 2006 and a Senate seat in 2008, yet polling shows that Republicans are likely to pick up at least one (possibly both) of the state’s House seats and hold on to their remaining Senate seat. Paul Hodes, the Democratic Congressman running for the Senate, is trailing New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte by anywhere from 5 to 15 points. Hodes saw a mini-surge in his standing when former Alaska governor Sarah Palin endorsed Ayotte, but it does not appear to have helped him enough.

New York (A)
Incumbent: Chuck Schumer (D)
Challenger(s): Jay Townsend (R)
Prediction: Likely Democrat

New York is having two Senate races this year: one is the seat held by Chuck Schumer and the other is the former seat of Hillary Clinton, now held by Kirsten Gillibrand. Both Democrats are expected to win quite easily. Schumer has over $24 million in the bank and his Republican opponent has not even raised $100,000. If Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid goes down in November, Schumer has shown interest for his job and would likely face off against Illinois Senator Dick Durbin.

New York (B)
Incumbent: Kirsten Gillibrand (D)
Challenger(s): Joseph DioGuardi (R)
Prediction: Likely Democrat

Kirsten Gillibrand is an upstate New York politician and the incumbent Senator of her seat. She was appointed by Governor David Paterson to fill Hillary Clinton’s seat after she resigned to become Secretary of State. Gillibrand is conservative by New York standards, but has moved to the left since joining the Upper Chamber. As a former member of the House, she road the Democratic wave of 2006 to victory. While Gillibrand is the favorite over former Congressman Joseph DioGuardi, this will be a closer race than Schumer’s. Nonetheless, national Republicans are not putting any money into the race.

Pennsylvania
Incumbent: Arlen Specter (D) – Retiring
Challenger(s): Pat Toomey (R), Joe Sestak (D)
Prediction: Toss-up

There have been many odd races across the country so far this year. Pennsylvania was one of the first. Senator Arlen Specter, at the time a Republican, switched parties after he learned that he would face a challenge from far-right conservative Pat Toomey, a former congressman that challenged Specter in 2004. Toomey lost that race, but not by much, and was favored to beat Specter the second time. Specter switched parties and ran as a Democrat, hoping that no one would notice his voting record. While Specter voted reliably with the Democrats following his switch, Democratic voters had a choice of electing a real Democrat when Joe Sestak jumped into the race. Sestak had run in 2006 and won a Philadelphia area district. He was the underdog throughout most of the race, but brilliantly used ads showing Specter talking about he switched parties to be re-elected. Now Sestak finds himself in the underdog position yet again. However, polls have shown a tightening of the race with a couple even showing Sestak in the lead. Sestak also has a money advantage over Toomey in these final weeks.

Adjustments

Since our last update we have seen several changes in the Senate outlook, each of them at the expense of Democrats. Some states, such as Wisconsin, have moved from Leans Democrat to Toss-up. West Virginia, which was rated as Likely Democrat, is now Leans Democrat. Nevada is moving from Leans Democrat to Toss-Up; Florida Toss-Up to Leans Republican; North Carolina from Toss-Up to Leans Republican; Ohio from Toss-Up to Likely Republican; Arizona from Leans Republican to Likely Republican; Colorado from Leans Democrat to Toss-Up; and Missouri from Toss-Up to Leans Republican. We’ll detail a few of these changes below:

Colorado – Appointed Senator Michael Bennet has struggled to fend off a challenge from Tea Party candidate Ken Buck. The outspoken Buck has said that he opposes abortion in all cases, including rape and incest. He has also said that being gay is a choice, not something that you are born with. Candidates like this would not normally win in a state like Colorado, but with a bad economy, voters are desperate.

Florida – Democrat Kendrick Meek and Governor Charlie Crist, a former Republican turned independent, have been nuking each other over the airwaves. Republican Tea Party favorite Marco Rubio has benefitted from this sniping and will probably squeak by with less than 50 percent of the vote. It isn’t possible for a divided left to win in a swing state like Florida. All Rubio needs to do is carry the Republican vote heavily and he wins.

Ohio – Ohio is a state that has simply gone out of reach for Democrats. Lt. Governor Lee Fisher is the Democratic candidate and Rob Portman the Republican, a former Congressman and Budget Director in the Bush administration. Fisher is a poor campaigner and fundraiser, while Portman has benefitted from the Bush donor list. National Democrats have pulled the plug on their financial support of Fisher, putting it in states where they think they can win (like Colorado and nearby Pennsylvania). On the other hand, Democratic hopes have improved in Ohio’s gubernatorial race. Incumbent governor Ted Strickland has at least a 50/50 chance of winning re-election over Republican John Kasich.

Below is a map of the Senate races that we have covered so far:

Map

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