Aug. 21 absentee ballot for overseas voters

Obama 264   McCain 261   Ties 13
Senate Dem 56   GOP 43   Ties 1
House Dem 242   GOP 193  

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This day in 2004

strong Dem Strong Dem (134)
weak Dem Weak Dem (116)
barely Dem Barely Dem (14)
tied Exactly tied (13)
barely GOP Barely GOP (85)
weak GOP Weak GOP (45)
strong GOP Strong GOP (131)
270 Electoral votes needed to win
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Presidential polls today: MD NC NH OH RSS
Dem pickups (vs. 2004): IA NM GOP pickups (vs. 2004): (None) PDA

PW logo RGN Poll: Nevada Race is Very Tight Obama to Highlight McCain's Houses
Nothing Has Changed, Race Is Still Close MPR Poll: Obama Holds Double-Digit Lead in Minnesota
InsiderAdvantage: North Carolina is Very Close NPR Poll: Obama, McCain Run Close in Battleground States

News from the Votemaster

Joe Biden: Veep Flavor of the Day

First the rumor mill had Gov. Kathleen Sibelius (D-KS) as the sure-fire Democratic Veep nominee. Then the spotlight moved to Gov. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and then to Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN). Today's favorite is Joe Biden. Biden brings 33 years experience to the ticket as well as a mouth that never stops. In 1988, while running for President, he plagiarized part of a speech from a British politician. If he is the nominee, the Republicans will hammer him on this, but he will say it was two decades ago. On the plus side, Biden obviously brings a lot of experience to the ticket, especially in foreign affairs. But at 65, his presence makes it hard for the Democrats to say McCain (71) is too old. If Obama wins and serves two terms, then in 2016, the leading contenders for the Geriatric Party will be Biden (73) and Hillary Clinton (68).

If Biden is the candidate and wins, the new governor of Delaware will appoint his successor. Gov. Ruth Minner (D-DE) is retiring and the Democrats are having a gubernatorial primary fight between the state treasurer and the lieutenant governor. However, the state is sufficiently Democratic that whoever wins the primary is likely to be elected governor, so Biden's seat is safe.

National Polls

Several new national polls have come out as follows:

Where Obama McCain Start End Pollster
National 45% 43% Aug 17 Aug 19 Gallup tracking
National 47% 46% Aug 17 Aug 19 Rasmussen tracking
National 45% 42% Aug 15 Aug 19 New York Times
National 45% 42% Aug 15 Aug 18 Wall St. Journal
National 45% 43% Aug 15 Aug 18 Louisiana Times
National 41% 46% Aug 14 Aug 16 Zogby
National 47% 42% Aug 12 Aug 17 Quinnipiac U.
National 46% 47% Aug 10 Aug 14 Lake/Tarrance
Average 45% 44%      

It is pretty clear that the race is a dead heat now. Obama has lost the small but statistically significant lead he had after his world trip. The inescapable conclusion is that Steve Schmidt (McCain's campaign manager in all but name) is a lot smarter than Rick Davis (the nominal campaign manager) who was running the show until Schmidt was hired. Schmidt, a pupil of Karl Rove, immediately started running negative ads. Several polls say that huge majorities think McCain is running a negative campaign--but the message sinks in.

Washington WA-08 Primary: Reichert Wins

Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA) narrowly defeated challenger Darcy Burner (D) in Washington state's bizarre Cajun-style primary in WA-08 Tuesday. The primary (like Louisiana's) is nonpartisan, with the top-two finishers facing off in November. Reichert got 48% of the vote to Burner's 45%. Reichert said he won because he finished first. Burner said she won because the incumbent got fewer than 50% of the vote and she will pick up the votes of the minor candidates in November. The two of them faced off in November 2006, when Reichert beat Burner 51% to 49%.

Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones Dies

Five-term congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones had a massive brain aneurysm while driving yesterday. Police saw her erratic driving and when the car stopped saw that she was unconscious. She was taken to Huron Hospital and put on life support but she died shortly thereafter. Her Cleveland-based distict is D+33, which makes it the 13th most Democratic district in the country. Under Ohio law, it is too late to remove her name from the ballot, so she will be the Democratic nominee in November. There is no problem with dead people being elected to Congress. Mel Carnahan (D-MO) was posthumously elected senator in 2000. A special election will be held next year to fill the vacancy.

Stevens' Trial Will Stay in Washington

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) tried to get his trial on seven felony counts of filing false statements to the Senate moved to Alaska. In a ruling yesterday, Judge Emmet Sullivan decided that the trial would be held in D.C., in part because it would be easier to find unbiased jurors in D.C., where Stevens is not well known, rather than in Alaska, where everyone knows him. As a concession to Stevens, however, the judge said the trial would be held only four days a week, allowing Stevens to campaign in Alaska on Fridays. But he added, doing so would make it more difficult to get to a verdict by election day. Stevens faces six primary opponents next Tuesday, two of them well funded, but he is expected to win the primary. He then has about 3 weeks to decide if he wants to drop out. If he does so before Sept. 17, the Alaska Republican Party can name a new candidate, possibly Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) or Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell (R-AK). If he stays in the race beyond Sept. 17 his name stays on the ballot no matter what. Many Alaska Republicans would dearly like to see him vanish into the long Alaska night, fearing he could bring down the entire ticket.

Today's Polls

Lots of surprising polling data today. Two states that were not supposed to be close are close. In New Hampshire, Barack Obama's lead over John McCain has been cut to 1 point, 43% to 42%. Elsewhere in the Northeast, Obama is leading by huge margins, but New Hampshire has always been friendly to McCain's unorthodox style. On the other hand, North Carolina, which should be an easy win for Mccain is also close, with McCain barely ahead 45% to 43%. Whether this is due to Obama's intensive voter registration drive there or not isn't clear yet. In Ohio, McCain continues to have a slight edge and in Maryland Obama is way ahead.

State Obama McCain Start End Pollster
Maryland 53% 41% Aug 18 Aug 18 Rasmussen
North Carolina 43% 45% Aug 19 Aug 19 Insider Advantage
New Hampshire 43% 42% Aug 19 Aug 19 Rasmussen
Ohio 41% 45% Aug 18 Aug 18 Rasmussen

While Obama is in trouble in New Hampshire, former governor and Senate candidate Jeanne Shaheen is not. She is leading Sen. John Sununu (R-NH) 51% to 40%. She has been leading all year by large margins. It will take a small miracle for Sununu to pull this one out of the fire. But a far more surprising Senate poll comes from North Carolina. State senator Kay Hagan (D) is tied with the incumbent, Sen. Liddy Dole (R-NC). This kind of polling helps Hagan enormously because it affects how DSCC chairman Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) spends his overflowing pot of money. If Schumer comes to believe Hagan could actually win, he could easily dump $5 million into this race. From Schumer's point of view, New Hampshire, Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, and now Alaska are looking increasingly good so he doesn't have to spend too much in those races, so his attention will turn to the second tier, which include Oregon, Minnesota, Maine, Mississippi-B, and now maybe North Carolina.

State Democrat D-pct Republican R-pct Start End Pollster
North Carolina Kay Hagan 40% Elizabeth Dole* 40% Aug 19 Aug 19 Insider Advantage
New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen 51% John Sununu* 40% Aug 19 Aug 19 Rasmussen

We also have polls on two lopsided Kansas House races. The Republicans will do well in Kansas, with the exception of KS-02, where the incumbent is a Democrat, Nancy Boyda.

Cong. Distr. Democrat D-pct Republican R-pct Start End Pollster
KS-01 James Bordonaro 13% Jerry Moran* 77% Aug 17 Aug 19 SurveyUSA
KS-04 Donald Betts, Jr. 30% Todd Tiahrt* 61% Aug 17 Aug 19 SurveyUSA

A more interesting congressional race is NY-13, the Staten Island, NY district that just keeps on giving. In case you were on vacation when this played out, here is a brief summary. Rep. Vito Fossella (R-NY) was headed to an expected easy victory in this swing district until a police officer stopped him in Virginia for running a red light--drunk. Fosella said he was going to visit his family. Turns out he has two of them, one in Virginia and one on Staten Island. Although Fosella has always run on family values, other Republicans told him that he had too many values and got him to drop out. No top Staten Island Republican wanted to run, so the Republican Party found a rich businessman, Francis Powers, Sr. to run and fund his own race. This event prompted Powers' estranged son, Francis Powers, Jr. to enter the race for the Libertarian Party nomination, just to defeat his father (more family values). Junior lost the Libertarian nomination but that became moot when Senior died of a heart attack. Now the Republicans were back to square one. Eventually they came up with former Assemblyman Robert Straniere. This choice outraged former borough president and the long-time dean of the Staten Island Republicans, Guy Molinari, who said "They couldn't have made a worse mistake. The party was already in desperate shape. They've all but buried it." Nice words from your party leader.

Anyway, with that background, here's the actual news. There are two Democrats running for the nomination to oppose Straniere. A new SurveyUSA poll shows NYC Councilman Mike McMahon crushing 2006 candidate Steve Harrison 64% to 18%. So it is likely that McMahon will face Straniere in November and with the top of the local Republican party opposing its own candidate, this looks like a Democratic pickup and the entire New York City congressional delegation will be made up of Democrats.

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-- The Votemaster