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Senate Dem 58   GOP 41   Ties 1
House Dem 257   GOP 178  

Map of the 2010 Senate Races
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PW logo Gingrich Mobilizing Christian Conservatives Newspaper Cuts May Cause Political Trickery
Geithner Aide Lobbied Against Bill to Curb CEO Pay Lobbyists Find Their Way Into Administration
Democrats Likely to Bypass Senate GOP on Health Care Obama Approval Takes Small Dip

News from the Votemaster

No News from Minnesota

The judges in the Minnesota election contest have undoubtedly long since decided the case, but since they know the case will be appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court and then to the U.S. Supreme Court they are taking their time to write the formal opinion. Judges hate to be reversed on appeal, so they want an airtight opinion in the hope that the two Supreme Courts will say to the loser: "Sorry, but the trial judges followed the law perfectly. Tough luck."

Dodd Allowed AIG Bonuses

The news that Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, removed language in the stimulus bill that would have prevented AIG and other companies getting bailout money to pay executives huge bonuses may hurt his reelection chances. The bonuses are hugely unpopular and the Republicans smell blood here. Former representative Rob Simmons (R-CT) is running against him and others may join the fray.

However, Dodd says that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner asked him to put in the loophole for legal reasons and that he was just doing what Geithner thought best. Geithner has confirmed Dodd's position.

Furthermore, for the Republicans to attack Dodd on the bonuses, they have to make up their mind whether or not they think they were a good idea. Yesterday, a bill was introduced in the House to subject the bonuses to a federal tax of 90%. Nearly all Democrats voted for the special tax but Republicans were badly split, with 87 Republicans, including minority leader John Boehner (R-OH), voting no and 85 Republicans, including whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), voting yes.

Why only 90%, you may ask? Three reasons. First, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the states can take the other 10% (his idea of federalism). Second, a 100% tax by the federal government might not stand up in court since it could be construed as the government seizing private property without just compensation. Third, a 90% tax is not a record. During the entire Eisenhower administration, the top marginal rate was over 90%, so in a court case a taxpayer could hardly claim a 90% rate was unprecedented.

Specter Might Run as an Independent

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) has not ruled out running for the Senate in 2010 as an independent. However, he currently plans to run as a Republican. Here's the lay of the land. Many Republicans see him as a RINO (Republican In Name Only) because he doesn't reflexively oppose everything that President Obama wants. As a consequence, he is likely to be challenged in the Republican primary by Pat Toomey, president of the Club for Growth, who nearly defeated him in the 2004 primary. This time around, Toomey would probably win.

That would limit Specter's options greatly. Unlike in Connecticut, where Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) lost the Democratic primary in 2006 and then ran and won as an independent, Pennsylvania law does not allow that. So if Specter thinks he is going to lose the primary, he has to become an independent and run as an independent from the beginning. Doing that would clear the Republican primary field for Toomey and allow him to hoard his pennies for the general election. In a three-way fight among Specter, Toomey, and whichever representative the Democrats nominate, the Democrat would probably win for two reasons. First, the Democrats hold a 1.2 million voter registration edge over Republicans in Pennsylvania. If the Democrats nominate a moderate candidate who can hold 80% of the Democratic votes and get 50% of the independents, that's a bad start for Specter. Second, unlike Connecticut in 2006 when the Republicans nominated a complete nobody so weak that even Republicans had no interest in voting for him, Toomey is very popular with Pennsylvania Republicans, most of whom would vote for him. This means Specter's 'base' would have to consist of conservative independents and a few stray Democrats and Republicans who didn't like their own nominee for some reason. It is very unlikely Specter could win a three-way race. His best bet is to become more conservative, vote against Obama's legislation this year, try to eke out a victory against Tommey, and then lurch sharply to the center and hope the voters have very short memories. History suggests they do.

Republicans Still Looking for a Candidate in Colorado

Appointed senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) ought to be at the top of the Republicans' list of targets in 2010. The only problem is that you can't beat somebody with nobody. The Republicans don't have a top-tier candidate. The only Republican holding statewide office, Attorney General John Suthers, is not interested and apparently none of the Republican representatives are either. Speculation has focused on former representative Bob Beauprez, who ran for governor in 2006 and was crushed, Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier, and Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck. A choice between a well-known politician whose last run was an unmitigated disaster and two total unknowns is not an appealing situation, but it seems to be where Colorado Republicans currently stand. However, some rich businessman may decide it is worth spending $10 million of his own money to give it a shot. It could happen. Actually, Bennet's biggest challenge may come from inside the tent, not outside it: Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D) is thinking of challenging him in a primary.

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-- The Votemaster