News from the Votemaster
Roll Call has a story about the House races and concludes that the Republicans are likely to remain in control in January. The Democrats would need to take 25 seats to recapture the chamber. Their job has been made much more difficult due to the census, which gave more seats to the red states and took seats away from the blue states. In addition, the Republican wave of 2010 allowed the Republicans to gerrymander the map in many populous states like Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Illinois is the only large state where the Democrats did the gerrymandering. On the other hand, if there is a strong anti-incumbent sentiment, there are more Republican incumbents for the voters to be angry with. Historically though, many voters tend to dislike Congress in the abstract but actually like their own representative.
While the House is not likely to flip, control of the Senate is very much up in the air and events in August could determine the outcome. Four states hold Republican primaries in August and their outcomes could determine which party gets a majority in the Senate. Here is a brief rundown of the races.
Aug. 7, Missouri. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) is going to be in trouble no matter who wins the three-way Republican primary there. State Treasurer Sarah Steelman has the endorsement of the other Sarah, Businessman John Brunner has lots of (his own) money, and Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) has the endorsement of many conservative Republicans and anti-abortion groups. McCaskill has been running ads attacking all three of them, but her attacks on Akin call him the "most conservative" Republican, which is kind of an endorsement in Missouri. It is clear she would rather face him than the others. On the other hand, historically, House members running for the Senate have a far better track record than rich businessmen.
Aug. 14, Wisconsin. The Wisconsin primary is a four-headed monster with different factions within the Republican Party lobbing bombs at each other. In principle, Tommy Thompson, a former four-term governor with a moderate record and 100% name recognition is the right person to run in this fairly blue state and Republicans who care mostly about winning support him. Rep. Mark Neumann is the most conservative candidate and is backed by the Club for Growth. Hedge fund manager Eric Hovde has tons of money to spend and is using it to attack his opponents. Finally, Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald is also running. A new PPP poll puts Hovde at 28%, Neumann and Thompson tied at 25% and Fitzgerald at 13%. Whoever wins will face Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), who has no serious primary opponent. This is an open seat as Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) is retiring.
Aug. 14, Connecticut. Of the four, Connecticut has the least suspense. World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon is again running and spending tens of millions of dollars to buy the Senate seat she didn't get in 2010. Her opponent is former representative Chris Shays, who says he won't support her if she wins the nomination, which seems likely. Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT) is the likely Democratic nominee and the general-election favorite.
Aug. 28, Arizona. Arizona could be interesting and possibly a repeat of Texas. Here, too, a tea party candidate, Wil Cardon, is running against a strong establishment favorite, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ). Cardon is very wealthy and is spending money like there is no tomorrow, but he has not gathered as much grassroots support as Ted Cruz did in Texas. If Cardon wins, then Democrat Richard Carmona, a Latino Vietnam veteran who served as George W. Bush's Surgeon General is probably the general-election favorite. If Flake wins, he is probably the favorite.
The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has issued a report saying that Romney's tax plan would largely benefit upper income earners at the expense of middle- and lower-income earners. While campaigning in Ohio, President Obama immediately began attacking Romney using the report as evidence. Romney responded that the Tax Policy Center was "liberal" but didn't actually refute the conclusions in the report. During the primaries, Romney repeatedly cited reports from the Center when bashing his Republican opponents' tax plans and said they were a nonpartisan outfit. Romney's plan also calls for closing some tax loopholes, but he hasn't specified which ones or how much revenue this closure would generate.
No, Constitution Party presidential candidate Virgil Goode, a former six-term Virginia congressman, is not going to win the election. In fact, he is not going to get any electoral votes. But the anti-immigrant candidate might just be able to siphon enough votes from Mitt Romney in Virginia to give Obama the state. Without Virginia, it is hard to see how Romney could get to 270 electoral votes. A recent PPP poll shows Goode getting 9% of the vote in Virginia, with Obama winning the state by 14%. Historically, many people will tell pollsters they are going to vote for some fringe candidate but ultimately don't. But if Goode can get 2-3% in November, that could swing the state to Obama. Goode has filed petitions to get on the ballot, but the signatures have not been counted yet.
More generally, demographic changes taking place in Virginia and North Carolina could prove to be disastrous in the long term for the Republican Party. As more and more northerners are pouring into Prince William, Fairfax, and Loudoun counties, Virginia is turning into a blue state, like Maryland. Similarly, population growth in the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina, with all its high-tech and financial companies is making North Carolina a purple state. If the Republicans are going to have to devote major resources to these states, which were once taken for granted, it means fewer resources in Ohio, Florida, and other key swing states. The problem does not occur for the Democrats as there are no blue states that are systematically getting redder every year.
After it became obvious to former Florida governor Charlie Crist that he was going to lose the Senate primary to Marco Rubio in 2010, he suddenly became an independent. Now he is backing a Democrat, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) in this year's Senate race. Some observers see this as a sign that Crist is planning a comeback as a Democrat.
Jonathan Capehart wrote a column asking why, in such a bad economy, Romney is not headed toward a landslide victory. His answer is that Romney is afraid to show who he is and the voters are interpreting this as showing that he is sneaky. The three most important things in his life are the three Ms: Money, Mormonism, and Massachusetts. He has said his religion is very important to him and nothing else about it. Many people want to hear more but he is not talking. He is equally secretive about his money: how he earned it precisely, how much he has, and what he is doing with it now. Finally, he's barely mentioned that he was once governor of Massachusetts. Normally current or former governors talk a lot about their experience running a state and how it prepares them for the presidency. Not a word about it from Romney. As long as Romney is not going to tell anyone who he is, he is not going to have many people like him so is only route to the White House is just to keep hammering Obama on the economy.
Obama doesn't have the "who is he, anyway?" problem that Romney does. Everyone knows lots about him. What he hasn't done is make a compelling case for what he wants to do in a second term. Since he hasn't given the voters any reason to vote for him, he, too is running a negative campaign--unlike the one he ran in 2008. In effect, both candidates are saying: "Don't vote for me, just vote against the other guy." It will work for one of them, but that one will have no mandate at all to do anything and if the opposing party controls at least one chamber of Congress, all we will get is more gridlock.
|Arizona||41%||52%||Jul 23||Jul 25||PPP|
|Connecticut||51%||43%||Jul 26||Jul 29||PPP|
|Florida||51%||45%||Jul 24||Jul 30||Quinnipiac U.|
|Michigan||48%||42%||Jul 24||Jul 31||EPIC MRA|
|Ohio||50%||44%||Jul 24||Jul 30||Quinnipiac U.|
|Pennsylvania||53%||42%||Jul 24||Jul 30||Quinnipiac U.|
|State||Democrat||D %||Republican||R %||I||I %||Start||End||Pollster|
|Arizona||Richard Carmona||38%||Jeff Flake||38%||Jul 23||Jul 25||PPP|
|Florida||Bill Nelson*||45%||Connie McGillicuddy||43%||Jul 26||Jul 29||PPP|
|Florida||Bill Nelson*||47%||Connie McGillicuddy||40%||Jul 24||Jul 30||Quinnipiac U.|
|Michigan||Debbie Stabenow*||49%||Pete Hoekstra||35%||Jul 24||Jul 31||EPIC MRA|
|Ohio||Sherrod Brown*||51%||Josh Mandel||39%||Jul 24||Jul 30||Quinnipiac U.|
|Pennsylvania||Bob Casey*||55%||Tom Smith||37%||Jul 24||Jul 30||Quinnipiac U.|
* Denotes incumbent
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