In 2008, the Republican Party was thought to be headed for minority status as a rump party of the South. Tonight, the governorships of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and New Mexico are in GOP hands. Senate seats from New Hampshire to Illinois are flipping control. This does not mean that the Democrats permanently have become a rump party of the two coasts. “Permanent” is the stuff of fabulists. It does mean that the GOP now has the chance to prove to voters previously unwilling to give them a try that they can behave more responsibly than the Democrats. Oh, and Dino Rossi is leading in early returns in Washington State.
Topic: Dino Rossi
One of the best predictors of elections over the years has been the mock elections held in schools. Most school kids only reflect what their parents think and, unlike parents avoiding pollsters and unwanted telephone calls, have no reason to either lie or clam up.
Michael Barone reports that in Washington state, 15,400 K-12 students voted, and Republican Dino Rossi won the Senate race 53 percent to 47 percent over Democratic incumbent Patty Murray. That’s comfortably beyond the margin within which Washington’s political establishment could fiddle with the votes to produce a favored outcome, which might well have happened in Rossi’s first, whisker-close run for governor in 2004.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that the job-killing proposal to tax the incomes of the rich, ending Washington’s income-tax-free status, passed in the mock election. Pushed by Bill Gates and his father (like they care about an additional few percentage points in taxes), the main force behind it has been the teachers’ unions, whose members will be the prime beneficiaries. Let’s hope, for the state of Washington’s economy, that the kids were more influenced by their teachers than their parents will be on Tuesday.
The House outcome is no longer in dispute. As Jay Cost put it, it is either a tsunami or a ”tsunami-to-end-all-tsunamis.” But in the Senate, with fewer seats up for grabs and the ones in play in Blue States, the question for the Senate is: 10 or fewer?
The surest pickups for the Republicans are North Dakota, Arkansas, and Indiana. Pat Toomey has re-established his lead (or it was never gone, depending on which poll you like). Sharron Angle, Mark Kirk (David Axelrod is already coming up with excuses), and Ron Johnson seem to be holding narrow but steady leads. Ken Buck, Dino Rossi, John Raese, and Carly Fiorina (“In the not to be missed category, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, stepped way out of the spin cycle yesterday, as she is often wont to do. Feinstein … was asked how things were going, and she replied, ‘bad’”) are each up or down a few, but within the margin of error. Connecticut and Delaware no longer appear competitive for the Republicans, but the GOP seems likely to hold Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire, Missouri, and Kentucky. Alaska is, well, confused. But we can assume that should Lisa Murkowski win, thanks to the good spellers of Alaska (who will have to write in her name correctly), she will caucus with the GOP.
So, yes, 10 of the seats currently held by Democrats could fall the Republicans’ way. If only nine of them did, the focus would shift to Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson to see if they’d switch sides. Or we could wind up with a still remarkable seven- or eight-seat pickup.
Yes, the chairmanships and the balance on the committees depend on who has a majority. But neither side will have close to a filibuster-proof majority. From the GOP perspective, with the House virtually in the bag (and the subpoena power and chairmanships along with the majority), it might not be the worst of all things to have a slim Democratic majority (and some responsibility for governance) and watch Chuck Schumer duke it out with Dick Durbin to be the leader of the Democratic caucus.
A new batch of Senate polls are out. There’s not much good news for the Democrats:
Republican Linda McMahon cut her opponent’s advantage in Connecticut’s Senate race from 10 percentage points to 6 points in a week, according to a new Fox News battleground state poll. … [A]fter a debate that featured Blumenthal freezing up when asked about job creation, McMahon seems to be in contention. She now trails in the survey of likely voters 43 percent to 49 percent.
Sharron Angle clings to a two-point advantage over Harry Reid, and Dino Rossi is one point up on Patty Murray. Meanwhile, the most stark indication of the president’s declining fortunes comes from Ohio:
GOP Senate candidate Rob Portman, a former Cincinnati-area congressman and budget boss to President George W. Bush, maintained a 17-point lead for a second week over Democratic Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher in a new Fox News battleground state poll of likely voters. … But the killer for Democratic aspirations in Ohio this year is likely President Obama’s dreadful ratings in the state. This week’s poll saw Obama’s approval in the state fall to a new low in Ohio of 33 percent, down 5 points from last week.
The only positive note for the Democrats: Christine O’Donnell is trailing by double digits. It seems Karl Rove was right. Nevertheless, if McMahon continues to cut into Blumenthal’s lead and Rossi and Angle hold on, Delaware will not matter. It does and will continue to serve as a warning that the GOP is fully capable of shooting itself in the foot in 2012; not every Republican can win in the Obama era.
Over the last week it appears that Sharron Angle is edging ahead in Nevada and John Raese is leading in West Virginia. Meanwhile, Dino Rossi in Washington enjoys a six-point lead in the latest poll. Here, then, is one very viable path to a 10-seat pick-up for the Republicans: North Dakota, Indiana, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Colorado, West Virginia, Nevada, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Washington. The Republican challenger leads in the latest polling in every one of these races.
This state of affairs can change, certainly. There are races within the margin of error or with conflicting polling data. But that runs both ways. Connecticut may tighten up. Carly Fiorinia in California has been hanging tough. So there are a minimum of 12 potential pick-ups with varying degrees of difficulty for the GOP. It would be foolish to say a Senate pick-up is “likely,” but it’s simply wrong to say it’s a long shot.
Liberals got very excited when Delaware Republicans made an imprudent selection in the Senate primary. They proclaimed the Senate was now “safe.” Not so fast.
Today we see that Richard Blumenthal’s lead has been cut to three points in Connecticut (voters in this solid Blue state disapprove of Obama’s performance by a 51-to-45 margin), Republican John Raese has moved ahead in West Virginia, and Russ Feingold now trails by eight points. Meanwhile, in Colorado, Ken Buck leads Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet by four points, Mark Kirk narrowly leads (42 to 40 percent) in Illinois, and Dino Rossi is only one point back in Washington.
There are no Republican Senate seats that look at risk at this point. (Kentucky, Ohio, Missouri, Florida, Alaska, and New Hampshire look safe for the GOP.) Here are the list of Democratic seats in which the GOP challenger is ahead or within the margin of error in recent polling: Arkansas, North Dakota, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Illinois, Colorado, Connecticut, Nevada, West Virginia, and Washington. Meanwhile, the races in California and New York remain competitive. Put another way, there are less than 50 safe Democratic seats at this point. Of the 13 Republican seats I have listed, the GOP can lose three and still win the Senate. The GOP sure would have liked to have Delaware in the bag, but it may not be necessary.
Nothing in common with Shakespeare except comic genius.
Nothing matches the Joe Sestak campaign for sheer incompetence. Now he’s changing his tune on a $350,000 earmark. Boy, must Arlen Specter be grinding his teeth. There is an art to flip-flops, you know!
Nothing is leaning Democratic these days: “In 10 matchups this year by Rasmussen Reports between three-term Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and Republican challenger Dino Rossi, the two have never been further than 4 points apart. Now, with Rossi moving to a 2 point lead, the pollster has changed its rating of the race from ‘leans Democratic’ to ‘toss-up.’ … Polling analyst Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com has calculated a 46 percent probability that the Democrats will lose the seat.”
Nothing but bad news for the Democrats from Charlie Cook: “[A] look at the 37 Senate races on the ballot shows some deterioration for Democrats in some of the 19 seats they are defending, while Republicans’ prospects have stayed the same or improved slightly in their most competitive seats. As such, it is now likely that Republicans will score a net gain of between seven and nine seats.”
Nothing but Red in California: SurveyUSA shows Meg Whitman up by seven and Carly Fiorina up by two.
Nothing in doubt in this race: “Robert Hurt (R) now leads [Virginia Democrat] Perriello by a whopping 61% to 35%.”
Nothing like a mosque at Ground Zero to wake up New York Jews. “As the fight over the center escalated from a zoning dispute into a battle in the culture wars, it has splintered New Yorkers along party lines. Seventy-four percent of Republicans are opposed; Democrats are split, with 43 percent for and 44 percent against. … More than half, 53 percent, of city residents with incomes over $100,000 back the center; only 31 percent of those with incomes under $50,000 agree. Protestants are evenly divided, while most Catholics and Jewish New Yorkers oppose the center.”
Nothing like a Cliff May piece on Muslim terror — and excoriating Fareed Zakaria. Read the whole thing — a few times.
The Obami admit Israel is a strategic asset.
The UN isn’t likely to admit this: “The Turkish charity that led the flotilla involved in a deadly Israeli raid has extensive connections with Turkey’s political elite, and the group’s efforts to challenge Israel’s blockade of Gaza received support at the top levels of the governing party, Turkish diplomats and government officials said.” It’s almost as though Israel were set up by an Islamic partnership between Iran, Turkey, and Hamas. Someone should set up an investigation to look into that.
A liberal think tank admits that the Bart Stupak-inspired executive order on abortion funding was a sham. Jessica Arons of Center for American Progress ”explains that the law and the president’s executive order do not prohibit federal funding for abortion in the pre-existing condition insurance plans (PCIPs).”
You have to admit that Obama has transformed the political landscape. Patty Murray is now in trouble: “Washington’s Senate race looks increasingly like a referendum on incumbent Democrat Patty Murray with two Republican candidates edging past her this month. A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Washington State finds Republican hopefuls Dino Rossi and Clint Didier both earning 48% support in match-ups with Murray. She, in turn, picks up 45% of the vote against the two GOP challengers.”
Obama admits the election is a referendum on him. “President Obama said in an interview Friday that voters should hold him accountable for the struggling economy, but that his policies are restoring it to health.” I wonder whether he still gives himself a B+.
Tom Jensen of Democratic Public Policy Polling admits that Obama’s numbers are terrible: “He trails Mitt Romney 46-43, Mike Huckabee 47-45, Newt Gingrich 46-45, and is even tied with Sarah Palin at 46. … Obviously 2012 is a long ways off and the immediate relevance of these numbers is limited. It’s possible we’ll look back on polls like this 28 months from now after Obama’s been reelected and laugh. But it’s also possible that we’ll look back on the summer of 2010 after he’s been defeated and see it as the time when his prospects for reelection really took a turn for the worse.”
I admit I can’t get worked up about presidential vacations. If Obama were in the Oval Office more, things might be worse.
The Cook Report (subscription required) explains:
Republicans scored a late but important recruiting success yesterday when businessman and former state Sen. Dino Rossi announced that he would challenge Democratic incumbent Sen. Patty Murray. Rossi’s announcement puts another Democratic-held seat in play. The race has been in the Solid Democratic column, but is moving to Toss Up, bringing the total number of competitive Democratic seats to 11.
As more seats come into play, the problems for the Democrats multiply. Spend money on Connecticut or Washington? Forget North Dakota and Delaware — they’re gone. How much money does Barbara Boxer need? And so it will go. Eleven seats doesn’t by any means guarantee or even make probable 11 GOP gains. It does, however, greatly increase the chances of 7-8 seats. And that’s more than enough to filibuster virtually any additions to the Obama spend-a-thon — and maybe to prevent funding of ObamaCare as well.
You betcha! A Democratic polling outfit — Public Policy Polling – shows:
Barbara Boxer, California’s junior senator, leads all three of her potential Republican opponents by single digits a little over five months before the November election. Boxer is ahead of leading Republican candidate Carly Fiorina by the slimmest margin of the three GOP contenders, 45-42.
Tom Campbell does the the worst, trailing Boxer by seven points. Perhaps that is why Obama keeps flying to California to fundraise and cheerlead for Boxer. Even that may not help; the same poll shows that less than a majority of Californians approve of his performance. Yeah, in California.
As Mark Halperin put it, with Dino Rossi now in the race against Patty Murray in Washington and Boxer within the margin of error, a “GOP Senate majority is truly possible on the current trajectory.”
This report explains that Patty Murray now has a popular and well-funded challenger in the Washington Senate race: “Two-time Republican gubernatorial nominee Dino Rossi will announce, likely Wednesday, that he is challenging three-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, sources close to Rossi said Monday. It will mark Rossi’s third statewide run in six years.”
He’s lost two gubernatorial races (in 2004 by only 133 votes, and in 2008 by a much larger margin), but he is well known and is polling close to Murray. (In the last poll, he trails Murray by only four points.)
In order to maximize their options in the Senate races, the GOP must put into play races that usually aren’t — California, New York, and Washington. Two of those will now require that the Democrats expend time and money to keep afloat two of their more liberal senators who have dutifully rubber-stamped Obama’s agenda. New York is the exception — although Kirsten Gillibrand is no rock star, the GOP has yet to field a high-profile and popular candidate. You can’t win, even in the best of political times for your side, without attractive, well-financed, and well-suited candidates. Fortunately for the Republicans, there are many seats where they have precisely that.
ObamaCare is the law of the land (for now), the president is out selling it to a skeptical public, and the Democrats are still heading for an election wipeout. The supposed cure-all for the Democrats’ electoral woes — the passage of ”historic” legislation that the country was going to learn to love – has proven to be anything but. Hotline reports:
Today, 4 of the 10 most vulnerable Senate seats are open seats held by Democrats, while just 2 are GOP-held open seats. At least 2 of those Dem seats (DE and ND) are leaning toward a GOP pickup. New polling suggests that Dems have a better shot at winning in OH than MO, but these polls simply reflect the current environment. Once the candidates and campaigns begin to engage, we may see those numbers start to bounce around a bit more. At this point, Democrats hold 8 of the top 10 most vulnerable seats, with the potential — should former HHS Sec. Tommy Thompson jump into the WI race or ex-state Sen. Dino Rossi challenge Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) — for the GOP to expand the playing field even further. Our expectation at this point: a GOP pickup of 5-8 seats.
And the same factors that pointed to a wave election — antipathy toward an ultra-liberal agenda, a brewing populist uprising, Democrats’ ethics problems, a tepid economy, high unemployment, and the nagging enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans — persist or have intensified. As The Hill notes: “Almost every Democratic strategist acknowledges the party will lose seats in Congress this fall. The question is whether the loss will be moderate or severe, or even enough to give Republicans control of the House.” So far, generic polling suggests the Democrats haven’t been helped at all by ObamaCare.
Just as many of us predicted, passage of ObamaCare did not end the health-care debate. The debate instead has continued to rage and spread to states as governors and attorneys general decide whether to sue to block its imposition and how to handle the crushing costs it will impose if the courts do not invalidate it. The discussion has now embroiled private industry, which is engaged in a fight with the Obami over write-downs. ObamaCare’s passage has continued to fuel the Tea Party movement, which is finding new respect among the mainstream media. And we can expect that with each sweetheart deal that is uncovered, and with news of continued premium increases, there will be another round of recriminations, adding fuel to the anti-Democrat furor.
We won’t know if the Democrats would have been worse off had ObamaCare failed. But for now there’s little evidence that it’s helped them.
Lynn Sweet on Obama’s home state: “Never ending ethics scandals and the near insolvency of the state government burst the bubble of any post Obama euphoria months ago. On Saturday, Chicagoans awoke to these stories: a suburban mayor sentenced for bribery; a Chicago alderman taking a bribery plea deal, and a former alderman learning he may face prison time for a real estate kickback scheme. Illinois Democrats are splintered and frazzled in the wake of the impeachment of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who will be tried this summer on federal public corruption charges for, among other items, trying to auction off Obama’s seat.” Probably doesn’t help that the likely Democratic Senate nominee for state treasurer, Alexi Giannoulias, is Tony Rezko’s banker.
Another precarious Blue State Senate seat: “Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) isn’t yet considered highly vulnerable in 2010. But a new poll, coupled with Scott Brown’s upset win in Massachusetts, has Republicans rethinking their chances against the three-term senator. A poll released Thursday from Moore Insight, an Oregon-based GOP polling firm, showed Dino Rossi, a two-time Republican candidate for governor, leading Murray 45 percent to 43 percent, with 9 percent undecided.”
Not even Chuck Schumer is holding up under the torrent of anti-incumbent anger: “Senator Chuck Schumer’s once rock solid approval rating has taken a slide. For the first time in nearly nine years, Schumer’s approval rating has fallen below 50%. According to the latest Marist Poll in New York, 47% of registered voters statewide report Schumer is doing either an excellent or good job in office. 31% rate the job he is doing as fair, and 17% view him as performing poorly. This is Schumer’s lowest job approval rating since April 2001 when 49% of voters approved of the job he was doing.”
The moment of reckoning: “President Barack Obama’s new $3.83 trillion budget is a chickens-come-home-to-roost moment for Democrats who skipped past the deficit to tackle health care last year and now risk paying a heavy price in November. The great White House political gamble was to act quickly — before the deficits hit home — and institute major changes which proponents say will serve the long-term fiscal health of the country. Instead, a year of wrangling and refusal to consider more incremental steps have brought Obama and Congress to this juncture, where waves of red ink threaten to swamp their boat and drown reform altogether.”
How vulnerable is Obama on the mega-deficit he is proposing? Glenn Reynolds: “One telling indicator is a growing effort by the remaining Obama partisans to paint Bush as an equivalent big spender, even though the Bush deficits were much smaller than Obama’s, and declining throughout most of his second term. Not that Bush was any prize, but Obama’s deficits are of an entirely different magnitude.” This raises another issue — who exactly is still an Obama partisan? Not even Chris Matthews and Jon Stewart are on board.
Shocking as it may be, the Obami are making stuff up. On the number of terrorists they claim to have convicted in the criminal justice system, Andy McCarthy explains: “The DOJ ‘fact sheet’ goes on to tell us there are 300 ‘terrorists’ in custody. But look at what they have to do to get there: (a) gone is the ‘since 9/11′ limitation — the 300 figure represents all terrorists ever convicted who are still in jail; and (b) they have to add in domestic terrorists to goose up the numbers — even though no one is contending that domestic terrorists should be treated as enemy combatants. We are at war with al-Qaeda, not PETA.” Even the lesser figure of 195 is highly suspect. McCarthy has a good idea: have the Justice Department release all the backup data. It would be the transparent thing to do.
Even those who like the idea of civilian trials for terrorists are furious with the Obami. Edward Alden of the Council on Foreign Relations: “There is no question that the Obama administration blundered by failing to ensure that New York’s leaders were fully committed to a civilian trial for KSM in New York City. The result has been a dismal outcome — an embarrassing climb down that leaves the United States looking too scared to mete out justice to the architect of the worst mass murder in U.S. history.”
Unlike Bob McDonnell in Virginia, Rep. Joe Sestak says he’d be “open to the idea” of hosting the KSM trial in his state.