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Electoral Vote Predictor 2004:   Kerry 286   Bush 233

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electoral college strong kerry Strong Kerry (87)
electoral college weak kerry Weak Kerry (46)
electoral college barely kerry Barely Kerry (153)
electoral college tied Exactly tied (19)
electoral college barely bush Barely Bush (76)
electoral college weak bush Weak Bush (15)
electoral college strong bush Strong Bush (142)
Needed to win: 270
Aug. 22 New polls: CO RSS

News from the Votemaster

Another poll (Rasmussen) in Colorado says the the race there is tied. Could this possibly be true? Most experts thought Colorado was in the bag for Bush. Let's wait for another poll before debagging it.

Although there is a new cartoon-of-the-week, that is more for dessert than meat and potatoes, so in the absence of much news about the presidential race, let's take a look at the Senate. Currently 51 Senators are Republicans, 48 are Democrats, and one (Sen. Jeffords of VT) is an independent who usually votes with the Democrats. If the Democrats pick up one seat, the Senate will be effectively tied when Congress convenes on Jan. 4, 2005. Under those circumstances, when the votes are taken for organizing the Senate, Dick Cheney will cast the deciding vote and the Republicans will take control.

However, if Kerry is elected president, he will (presumably?) have to resign his Senate seat before noon on Jan. 20, in which case the Republicans will temporarily have a 50 to 49 majority. Under a brand-new law that the Democrats in the Massachusetts state legislature rammed through over the Republican governor's veto, Kerry's successor will be chosen in a special election in the Spring of 2005. That election will then determine control of the Senate. Of course if Bush wins, the Democrats need a net gain of two seats to get control.

In this year's election, 19 seats currently held by Democrats and 15 seats currently held by Republicans are up for grabs. Not only do the Democrats have to defend more seats, but five popular Southern Democratic Senators are retiring. The Democrats face an uphill fight in all these states, which are Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, and South Carolina. South Dakota is also a battleground for the Senate. In contrast, the Republicans face major battles in only three states, Alaska, Colorado, and Illinois, but there might be upsets in Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, or Missouri. The rest of the states look fairly safe for the incumbent. The table below points out some of the more interesting races. Incumbents are marked with asterisks. More information about the Senate races is given in Senate-1, Senate-2. Senate-3, Senate-4, Senate-5, and Senate-6. You might also want to look at the official propaganda from the Democratic Senatorial committee and the Republican Senatorial committee.

Information on House races is much harder to come by. www.pollingreport.com has good coverage, including polls, but only for paid subscribers. The best freebie is Larry J. Sabato's Crystal Ball.

State Dem. GOP Poll Notes
Alaska Tony
July 25
When Sen. Frank Murkowski was elected governor in the middle of his Senate term, he searched far and wide over this vast state to find the best possible successor. Turns out it was his daughter, Lisa. Not everyone in normally Republican Alaska was thrilled by this, and when former governor Tony Knowles got the Democratic nomination, it became a real horse race.
Colorado Ken
Aug. 16
Republican Ben Nighthorse Campbell could have easily won a third term but decided to retire from the Senate. After a bruising primary battle, beer heir Pete Coors won the Republican nomination over right-wing former Congressman, Bob Schaffer. Colorado attorney general Ken Salazar won an easy primary victory over a left-wing teacher, Mike Miles. With each party fielding a moderate nominee, it could go either way, although with 17% of the electorate being Latino, Salazar's Latino heritage may help. On the other hand, many Coloradans like beer. Colorado is one of the best chances the Democrats have to pick up one of the one or two seats they need to recapture the Senate. And everybody knows it. All the big guns will show up to help.
Florida Not yet
Not yet
  Democratic Senator Bob Graham could have easily made an entry in one of those little notebooks he carries around all day: "Tuesday, 1:42 p.m.: Decided to get re-elected to Senate." But he didn't. The primaries are Aug. 31. Former HUD secretary Mel Martinez and former Congressman Bill McCollum are the leading Republicans. Rep. Peter Deutch, Miami mayor Alex Penelas and education commissioner Betty Castor are the leading Democrats.
Georgia Denise
Aug. 16
Democratic Senator Zell Miller decided to give up a safe seat and in return the Republicans decided to let him nominate George Bush at the RNC. Miller had previously said he should have switched to the Republican party long ago since he usually votes with them, but he was too old. It looks like the GOP is going to get an official seat to replace the de facto one it had.
Illinois Barack
Aug. 16
With the retirement of Republican Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, JFK-clone Jack Ryan, ex-husband of alien hottie Jeri Ryan, should have been a shoo-in against a "skinny black kid with a funny name." When Jeri told the press that Jack kept bugging her to do in public what Bill Clinton caught hell for doing in private, the Republicans dumped Ryan. After a desperate search, the best they could find was a former right-wing radio host who lives in Maryland and has lost badly the four times he has run for public office. He's never even lived in Illinois. At least Hillary Clinton had the decency to buy a house in New York before becoming a carpetbagger. Then the skinny black kid became the star of the DNC. It's all over in Illinois and the fat lady hasn't even put on her costume yet. The Dems pick up a GOP seat here and some of them are dreaming of Edwards/Obama '12.
Louisiana Chris
  Veteran Democratic Senator John Breaux, a powerhouse behind the scenes, decided to retire. Louisiana normally votes Republican for the presidency, but currently both Senators and the governor are Democrats, so they may hold this one. The race is complicated by Louisiana's quaint view that politics should be kept out of politics, so the Senate election is nonpartisan. Rep. Chris John, Rep. David Vitter, state treasurer John Kennedy, and some minor candidates are all running without party affiliation in the Nov. 2 election. If no candidate gets 50%, there will be a runoff election a few weeks later. Insiders think it will be Chris John vs. David Vitter in a runoff, but anything can happen.
Missouri Nancy
Aug. 17
Three-term Senator Christopher (Kit) Bond is the favorite, but if Kerry has long coattails, state treasurer Nancy Farmer has a chance because Bond has never gotten more than 53% in a Senate race.
North Carolina Erskine
Aug. 11
Erskine Bowles ran against Liddy Dole in 2002 and lost, but he is back again running for the seat Democrat John Edwards is retiring from. The seat is cursed however. Since the legendary Sam Ervin retired in 1974, no occupant has been elected to a second term. The Democrats have a good chance of holding the seat, at least until the curse kicks in in 2010.
Nevada Harry
July 22
Incumbent Harry Reid, the Democratic whip, won his race in 1998, by 428 votes, less than Bush's margin in Florida. By all rights he should be vulnerable, but the Republicans failed to field a strong candidate, so Reid will probably get re-elected.
Oklahoma Brad
Survey USA
Aug. 18
Republican Don Nickles retired from his safe seat. Democratic Congressman Brad Carson is facing former Republican Congressman Tom Coburn who won a bitter primary fight full of nasty allegations about questionable land deals. This is a heavily Republican state, but Coburn has a track record of saying reckless things he later tries to unsay. It could go either way.
Pennsylvania Joe
Aug. 18
In theory, a four-term moderate Republican with the full support of the President should have crushed his right-wing opponent, Pat Toomey in the primary, but Spector barely squeaked by. If Kerry wins Pennsylvania by a large enough margin, he may pull in Hoeffel on his coattails. But without Kerry's help, Spector gets re-elected.
South Carolina Inez
June 29
With Democrat Fritz Hollings retiring, the Republicans have their best chance to pick up a Democratic seat in this conservative state. Congressman Jim DeMint is favored to beat school superintendent Inez Tenenbaum.
South Dakota Tom
Aug. 12
In the clubby Senate, having one party go after the jugular of the other party's leader was Not Done. Until this year. The Republicans have launched an all out effort to defeat Minority Leader Tom Daschle in this heavily Republican state. However it is worth noting that South Dakotans just elected an inexperienced young Democratic woman, Stephanie Herseth, to Congress in a special election on June 1. It could go either way.

So what's the bottom line? Probably the Democrats will pick up Illinois but lose Georgia and South Carolina. Assuming they hold South Dakota and Nevada and the Republicans hold Missouri and Pennsylvania, the Senate will be 45 Democrats (including Jeffords) and 49 Republicans, with tossups in Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Oklahoma. To take unambiguous control of the Senate, the Democrats have to win them all. If they win five of the six and Kerry wins and the Democrats win the special election in Massachusetts, they also take control of the Senate and John Edwards gets a real job--breaking ties in the Senate. A tall order, but not impossible. The Republicans have it much easier. They merely have to win two of the six tossups. But November is a long way away. Anything can happen.

If you live in a state that is dark red or dark blue and feel disenfranchised, take a second look. There might be an interesting Senate (or House) race near you. Call the campaign of your choice and get involved.

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-- The votemaster

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overseas voter, absentee ballot