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Projected New Senate:     50 Democrats     50 Republicans    

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strong Dem Strong Dem (42)
weak Dem Weak Dem (2)
barely Dem Barely Dem (6)
tied Exactly tied (0)
barely GOP Barely GOP (1)
weak GOP Weak GOP (2)
strong GOP Strong GOP (47)
No Senate race No Senate race
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Sep. 16 New polls: NV VT RSS
  Pickups: Missouri Montana New Jersey Ohio Pennsylvania Rhode Island Tennessee

News from the Votemaster

Two new polls today, both both confirm what we already knew. Independent (and temporarily Democrat) Bernie Sandes of Vermont is way ahead of his Republican challenger Rich Tarrant, 55% to 40%.

Over in Nevada, incumbent Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) is also way ahead of Democratic challenger, Jack Carter, Jimmy's son. The score is 56% to 35%. Carter, who has lived in Nevada only since 2002, is being called a carpetbagger, although that didn't hurt Hillary in New York in 2000 or Bobby Kennedy before her. Still Ensign seems safe.

Bob Ney, the Republican congressman in OH-18 has pleaded guilty to corruptions charges stemming from taking bribes from lobbyist Jack Abramoff. He will go to jail for 27 months. He withdrew from the House race last month.

Ney's replacement is Ohio state Senator Joy Padgett. However, like Ney, she is also controversial because she filed for bankruptcy in June in an effort to discharge $1.1 million in debt, including a loan from the Small Business Administration. This filing will undoubtedly be a big issue in the campaign. Her opponent is Democrat Zack Space.

Is Karl Rove losing his magic touch? Both his supporters and detractors regard him as a genius at winning elections, but it looks like he has made a couple bad calls recently. His speciality is finding wedge issues that unite Republicans and make them look strong (especially on national security) while dividing the Democrats and making them look weak. At first this election's issue was going to be immigration. Bush's plan to seal the border but give amnesty to illegals already in the country after they jump through a couple of hoops was supposed to do that. Instead it exposed a bitter rift within the Republican party. The social conservatives not only don't want any new immigrants, they want to criminalize or deport the ones already here. On the other hand, many businesses love (illegal) immigrants because they work cheaply, don't complain much, and tend to depress wages. This unexpected intramural fight pushed immigration off the front burner for the time being.

The next try was a bill to legalize the interrogation practices that the Supreme Court just ruled illegal. The idea was that if the Democrats voted for it, it would be a big victory for the Republicans and if they voted against it, they could be attacked as "Soft on Torture." Trouble is, Rove underestimated Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who vigorously opposes torture, having been tortured himself for years as a POW in North Vietnam. McCain is supported by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a former Judge Advocate General. McCain won't give in easily because he needs to differentiate himself from the unpopular Bush for his 2008 presidential run, and opposing Bush's plan to allow torture will burnish his "independent," "moderate," and "maverick" credentials with a lot of voters (especially useful given that his actual voting record is very conservative.

If you thought that anything the government does between now and the election has anything to do with governing rather than politics, it is time to look a bit more closely.

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