Casual political observers are probably not aware, but the race for selecting a Republican nominee is in its final stages. While the Iowa caucuses are now only three weeks away, the candidates realistically have only about ten more days left to campaign. That’s because by December 24 – Christmas Eve – most Americans will tune out presidential politics and news in general to focus on family time. The holiday lull will likely continue into the New Year a week later.
With polls showing that Newt Gingrich is now the prohibitive national favorite, as well as the leader in Iowa, South Carolina, Florida and numerous other states with the notable exception of New Hampshire, these final ten days could very well decide who will be the Republican nominee. Mitt’s hands-off approach to Iowa could be his downfall. It worked when his ascendant rivals imploded within a few weeks of taking their leads: Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Herman Cain.
There is no indication from last weekend’s debate that Gingrich’s momentum is slowing down. Unlike the others Gingrich is a gritty political veteran. If anything Romney took the most damage with his $10,000 bet challenge to Rick Perry – acting as if it were chump change (and it is for a man worth nearly $200 million) – following up with a testy exchange on Monday with a Vietnam War veteran over his opposition to gay marriage. Gingrich is in the driver’s seat and time is running out for Mitt Romney.
Just when you thought that things could not possibly get worse for Texas Governor Rick Perry after a series of painfully bad debate performances – particularly one where he failed to name the three government agencies that he would like to eliminate – the man opens his mouth yet again with another major gaffe. This time it isn’t a lack of words but a clear lack of knowledge.
“Those of you that will be 21 by Nov. 12th, I ask for your support and your vote,” Perry said on the campus of Saint Anselm College to a group of college students. “Those of you who won’t be — just work hard — because you are going to inherit this and you’re counting on us to get this right.”
Better at deepthroating corndogs than 4th grade social studies
The voting age is 18 and Election Day is on November 6, 2012. If he was referring to the New Hampshire primary, that is held on January 10, but with Rick Perry it is pretty hard to make sense of what he actually means. Before you chalk it up to being a casual mistake, consider that the voting age has been 18 since 1971 with the passage of the 26th Amendment. Perhaps Rick Perry was too busy partying at the time to take notice of such a significant event, but any serious presidential candidate should have learned such a thing… in POLS-101.
There are some pretty wacky proposals out there from the Republican Party, including attempts to redefine rape, ban Sharia law (which if they didn’t know, was never law in the first place), and now out of New Hampshire, a law to prevent college students from voting in elections. Yes, we are essentially re-debating the 26th Amendment to the Constitution. You know, the amendment that extended voting rights to citizens between the ages of 18 and 21. At the time the common thought was that if you could fight in the Vietnam War, you should be able to vote. It was supported by Republican presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon.
That was then. Today, the Speaker of the House in New Hampshire, William O’Brien, is calling young voters “foolish”. I would imagine that Mr. O’Brien would view the young men that made the decision to go off and fight for their country in Afghanistan and Iraq to be just naive as well, since they clearly aren’t capable of voting, at least in his mind. His motivation, of course, is political. President Obama won college students 2-to-1 in 2008 and will be key to his re-election strategy. But denying people their right to vote so that your party can win an election? Well, I guess you can say that is Republican tradition these days, or as O’Brien was quoted in the Washington Post:
“Voting as a liberal. That’s what kids do,” he added, his comments taped by a state Democratic Party staffer and posted on YouTube. Students lack “life experience,” and “they just vote their feelings.”
New Hampshire House Republicans are pushing for new laws that would prohibit many college students from voting in the state – and effectively keep some from voting at all.
One bill would permit students to vote in their college towns only if they or their parents had previously established permanent residency there – requiring all others to vote in the states or other New Hampshire towns they come from. Another bill would end Election Day registration, which O’Brien said unleashes swarms of students on polling places, creating opportunities for fraud.
That’s their crime: not voting for Republicans. It’s a sad commentary on the state of the Republican Party when their electoral strategy is based on crushing unions and denying the right to vote to college kids (which would also affect veterans that come back home from war and attend college). They have basically given up on winning votes of their non-core voters and are instead hoping to buy elections with corporate dollars and disenfranchisement of voters.
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.
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.
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:
9:10 p.m. (9/15): Lamontagne has conceded the race for the GOP’s Senate nomination. In other news from yesterday’s primaries, a new poll out of Delaware shows that Democrat Chris Coons leads Republican Christine O’Donnell 50-34. That’s a bigger lead than he had in previous polls and may seem to indicate that even some Mike Castle voters are backing Coons.
2:54 p.m. (9/15): Well, it’s the day after the primary. Ayotte has been declared the winner by the Secretary of State in New Hampshire, even though counting continues. Ovide Lamontagne has until 5:00 pm to decide whether he will seek a recount. The margin is 1,500 votes.
1:24 a.m.: Kelly Ayotte’s lead has expanded to over 1,200 votes. It seems that she will eke it out after all. This will be the last post of the night. What an exciting end to the primary season!
1:00 a.m.: The lead has changed in New Hampshire. Kelly Ayotte has pulled ahead of Ovide Lamontagne by 700 votes. Ayotte is winning every county in the state except for the two largest: Rockingham and Hillsborough. Both of these counties are along the Massachusetts border. Ayotte’s strongest counties are along the sparsely populated Vermont border. At the current rate, it appears that she will probably pull it out, but it is still too close to call.
12:50 a.m.: The Tea Party takeover of the Republican Party seems almost complete. Christine O’Donnell’s victory over Mike Castle raises an interesting question: will the Tea Party decide the Republican nominee in 2012? Of course there are many more offices for them to run in as well, but right after the midterms end, the focus will shift to the presidential election. With huge victories across the country inside the Republican Party for Tea Party candidates, directly against the wishes of party leaders, it is reasonable to conclude that the same thing could happen to their presidential nominee. They certainly are not going to nominate another moderate like John McCain. At any rate, Democrats should feel even more confident in their chances of re-electing Barack Obama.
12:30 a.m.: Chris Coons, the Democratic candidate for Senate in Delaware, has released the following statement:
With Christine O’Donnell, we face an ideology rather than a record. One of Sarah Palin’s newest “Mama Grizzlies,” O’Donnell will fight to roll back a woman’s right to choose and lead the charge against stem-cell research, falsely claiming that this ground breaking research exploits women. She has a record of supporting discrimination against gays and lesbians, and pressing for public schools to teach creationism.
Even more shocking is that despite the fact that she has no plan for putting Delawareans back to work and wants to open our coastlines to more dangerous off-shore drilling risks, she truly believes that she’s the right candidate for Delaware.
Make no mistake — Sarah Palin, Jim DeMint, Michelle Bachmann, and the Tea Party Express will invest to make sure O’Donnell joins them in Washington. We cannot let Joe Biden’s seat fall into ultraconservative hands – into the grasp of a candidate who is out of touch with Delaware and the challenges we face.
12:28 a.m.: Even the Republican Party is writing off Christine O’Donnell. Fox News reporter Carl Cameron states that the NRSC will not spend any money on the Delaware Senate race.
11:24 p.m.: Here’s a little nugget for the upcoming general election race between Chris Coons and Christine O’Donnell. The Tea Party candidate faces a steep uphill battle against the Democrat according to polling firm PPP. They posted this information on their Twitter feed:
@ppppolls: Only 31% of Delaware voters think Christine O’Donnell is fit to hold public office
@ppppolls: And O’Donnell’s fav/unfav is 29/50
@ppppolls: Castle primary voters supports Coons over O’Donnell 44-28 in general election
The only people in the state that seem to like O’Donnell have just voted for her in the primary. Coons will win almost all Democrats, a substantial number of independents, and a decent amount of Republicans.
11:14 p.m.: Tea Party candidate Carl Paladino has defeated former Congressman Rick Lazio in New York’s GOP primary for governor. With 47 percent of precincts reporting, Paladino leads Lazio 67-33%. All of that fear-mongering over the “9/11 mosque” didn’t help Lazio one bit.
11:00 p.m.: Here’s an update from New Hampshire. Tea Party candidate Ovide Lamontagne’s lead is down to just 5 points after initially leading by about 20 points when the night began. In raw votes, the difference is only 2,000 with many left to be uncounted. Not all of Lamontagne’s lead is shifting to Ayotte, though. Binnie has seen a 4 percent rise in the past few hours and Bender a little over 1 percent. Their votes may very well play spoiler.
9:49 p.m.: Here are the final results from Delaware. Let the civil war in the Delaware GOP begin.
Mike Castle – 46.9% (27,021)
Christine O’Donnell – 53.1% (30,561)
100% of precincts reporting
It’s hard to see how Castle’s voters could turn around and vote for O’Donnell in November. Given the swift negative turn that this campaign took and the vicious nature of the attacks, these wounds are not going to heal in a little over a month’s time. Election day is fast approaching and this primary will be fresh on the minds of Castle’s supporters. Expect Democratic nominee Chris Coons to have a field day with the material that the Republican Party used against O’Donnell.
9:25 p.m.: Pundits will begin to question how it was possible for Mike Castle to lose this race against a woman that is currently unemployed and has no experience. Look no further than last year’s town hall meeting where a constituent confronted him over President Obama’s birth certificate. The Republican Party has moved to the far right extreme, even in traditionally Democratic states like Delaware. This should be a wakeup call for national Republicans. They may have a good year yet in 2010, but long-term, this is not the foundation you want to build your party on. Watch the video below:
9:16 p.m.: The AP has reported that Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell will be the winner in the Delaware GOP Senate primary against Mike Castle. That makes her the 8th Tea Party candidate to defeat mainstream Republicans in Senate primaries across the country. In my updated Election Projection later tonight, Delaware will move into the Likely Democrat column.
9:11 p.m.: The numbers are going in the right direction for the Congressman, but with over 3/4 of the vote already counted, Mike Castle is quickly running out of time to gain on Christine O’Donnell. Her lead is nearly 4,000 votes.
Mike Castle – 46.1% (21,683)
Christine O’Donnell – 53.9% (25,331)
77.5% of precincts reporting
In New Hampshire, Kelly Ayotte is losing her home county of Hillsborough 54-31 with over a quarter of precincts reporting. The race is slightly closer statewide, but still a blowout at this point in time.
8:36 p.m.: Updated numbers out of Delaware show O’Donnell maintaining her roughly ten point lead over Congressman Mike Castle with 13.8 percent of precincts now in. The numbers in New Hampshire remain unchanged.
Mike Castle – 45.3% (3,378)
Christine O’Donnell – 54.7% (4,081)
13.8% of precincts reporting
8:28 p.m.: The first results are in out of Delaware and it’s not looking good for Mike Castle:
Mike Castle – 43.7% (769)
Christine O’Donnell – 56.3% (991)
4% of precincts reporting
8:13 p.m.: Tonight is a big night in determining whether Republicans will even have a chance at winning the Senate this fall. In order to do so, they need to hold their Senate seat in New Hampshire and pick-up Joe Biden’s former Senate seat in Delaware. Both seats were seen as leaning towards the GOP, but that goes into doubt if Tea Party candidates win. Below are early results from these two states.
Today is primary day in several states across the nation. Among them are two highly important Senate primaries in Delaware and New Hampshire. Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell led the more moderate Mike Castle in the most recent polling out of the state, 47 to 44, although it was within the margin of error. This is a meteoric fall for Castle, who just a few months ago was seen as a shoe-in for the seat. Castle led his Democratic opponent, Chris Coons, by double digits. O’Donnell trailed Coons by double digits and appears likely to lose the race in November if she wins tonight. Polling places close at 8 p.m. Eastern Time in Delaware and since it is a small state, results should not take very long to come in.
A similar situation could happen in New Hampshire where the state’s Attorney General, Kelly Ayotte, is in a tight four-way race to win the nomination for Senate in the seat held by retiring Republican Senator Judd Gregg. Like Castle, Ayotte was seen as a favorite of winning both the primary and the general election (although one could argue that Castle is a stronger general election candidate, given his 30 years of winning statewide races). Magellan Strategies released a poll just yesterday with Ayotte’s lead slipping to just four points: 35% – 31%. Tea Party candidate Ovide Lamontagne jumped from being in the teens to now in the low 30s. The momentum is clearly on his side and could very well pull the upset. KyleBell.com will have complete results and a recap of today’s events once the numbers begin coming in.
As many of you have undoubtedly heard, the California Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Proposition 8. This divisive and unconstitutional act by the voters of California should not go without notice. Voters in the state (along with in many other states) have decided that they are going to put our rights as citizens up for popular opinion. This is fundamentally against what our nation stands for. If anything we should be giving people more rights, not taking them away.
While this decision is certainly disheartening, it is not the end of the story. We will not rest until the day that people of all colors, religions and sexual orientations can choose to enter into a union with another person that they love. It is not the role of government – in a republic – to be a moral arbiter of law. That is what authoritarian regimes do. Does America strive to be more like Saudi Arabia or Iran?
This is what I ask of those of you who feel passionately about this issue. Do not spend time contemplating what is wrong with American justice or whether there will ever be a day where equality is finally achieved. Instead, do something about it. Write to your local newspaper, communicate with people of opposing or neutral views to try to win them to our side, and most importantly be a part of the political process. Speak out, protest (there are ways to do this other than carrying signs) and VOTE.
Proposition 8 was passed with the slimmest majority – less than 52 percent. We will have to work just that much harder to convince people that our rights should not be put up for a vote. There will be opportunities across this country to do exactly that. As we have seen in the states of Vermont and Maine, some politicians have the courage to stand up for what is right. In Iowa, the Supreme Court has ruled in our favor. New Hampshire has passed a gay marriage law that is waiting to be signed by Governor Lynch (by all means call and write to him!). Our side is on the winning side of history. Those that stand in the way of equality will soon see that.
In a recent interview with Christianity Today, a leading voice for the Republican Party not only disavowed gay marriage, he also went so far as to say that he would not allow gay people around his children. Joe the Plumber (aka Samuel Wurzelbacher) spoke out on the topic when asked what he thought about the recent decisions toward marriage equality in Iowa and Vermont.
At a state level, it’s up to them. I don’t want it to be a federal thing. I personally still think it’s wrong. People don’t understand the dictionary–it’s called queer. Queer means strange and unusual. It’s not like a slur, like you would call a white person a honky or something like that. You know, God is pretty explicit in what we’re supposed to do–what man and woman are for. Now, at the same time, we’re supposed to love everybody and accept people, and preach against the sins. I’ve had some friends that are actually homosexual. And, I mean, they know where I stand, and they know that I wouldn’t have them anywhere near my children. But at the same time, they’re people, and they’re going to do their thing.
I normally would not lend people such as Joe very much credibility. In fact, he has none. Yet it was John McCain and others in the Republican tent (especially on Fox News) that pushed him to the front of the national spotlight. They put him on the pedestal, now they have to deal with it. What does this say about John McCain and other Republicans that latched themselves to this man? In a way they married him in the hopes that he would provide them with electoral success with middle class voters. John McCain apparently is happy to marry to the right wing ideology of Christian conservatives in the hope of winning elections, but does not want to ensure equal marriage rights to gay couples. I would ask the Senator: do you stand by Joe’s comments? Voters in Arizona deserve to know that answer before they vote in 2010.
Just five days after winning a historic victory in nearly all-white Iowa by 9%, Barack Obama fell just 2% of beating Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. I won’t lie, I didn’t expect him to lose. I thought a big win was coming, but it didn’t happen tonight.
Let’s keep this loss in context:
1. Barack Obama was down by double digits weeks ago.
2. Hillary won by a little more than 5,000 votes or 2%.
3. Women made up 57% of the Democratic vote.
4. Women supported Hillary 47-34% over Obama.
5. John McCain won with 38% of the vote in the Republican primary. He drew much of his support from independents, who helped Obama win Iowa. It seems that the poll numbers showing Obama ahead so far might have led to these independents voting for McCain instead.
6. Independents yet again overwhelmingly supported Obama over Hillary.
Two states down, one thing is clear: Obama is supported by independents by more than 2-1 over Hillary Clinton. If Democrats want to win in November like we did in 2006, we need independent voters to support us in the way that they support Barack Obama. I’m a liberal Democrat. I want change. We aren’t going to get it without the support of independent voters. These voters can not stand Hillary. Neither can Republicans. That much is clear from Iowa and New Hampshire.
I support Barack Obama for his opposition to the war since day one. He was on the right side of history. I support Barack Obama because having a president who is black and has a name like that will send a message to the rest of the world: America has changed. We are not the country of the Baby Boomer generation. We are tolerant of people’s race and religion. Discrimination based on race, religion, sexual orientation and gender are over.
We can change this country. It started in Iowa and it ends in November. In the weeks ahead, Nevada and South Carolina will decide. On February 5, states like Alabama, California, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Tennessee and West Virginia will vote, as well as others. Nearly half of the nation will vote on Super Tuesday. The “Clinton coronation” that was supposed to be was the “Clinton correction” in Iowa with Barack Obama’s 9% win. Hillary might have won in New Hampshire, but by 1/3 the percent of Obama’s in Iowa. It is clear now that there will be a fight for the nomination. With the support of independents, Democrats and Republicans, Barack Obama can become the next president of the United States. Now that Iowa and New Hampshire have decided, it’s your turn. Vote.