Projected New Senate: 50 Democrats 49 Republicans 1 tie
News from the Votemaster
Three new polls in Ohio show that incumbent Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) is finished. The decision reported in the Washington Post yesterday to pull the plug on DeWine was wisely made. Barring a miracle, this race can't be salvaged for the GOP.
A new Rasmussen poll in Pennsylvania shows that for incumbent Sen. Rick Santorum, things aren't any better. He's behind state treasurer Bob Casey 54% to 41% and has been all year. He's finished too.
Two polls in Arizona give mixed results, but it looks like incumbent Sen. Jon Kyl is probably safe, unless the Democratic tide on election day is very large. The SurveyUSA poll puts him 5% ahead of challenger Jim Pederson and the Northern Arizona University poll gives him a 15% lead.
The House polls show some good news for the Republicans. In the bitterly fought OH-02 district, where antiwar activist Paul Hackett came within 4% of defeating Jean Schmidt in a special election earlier this year, Schmidt is doing better against her current challenger Victoria Wulsin (D), a doctor who has worked in Africa treating AIDS patients. Schmidt leads 48% to 40%.
Also favorable to the GOP is FL-05, on Florida's northern west coast, where incumbent Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL) is holding off challenger John Russell (D), 55% to 42%. Brown-Waite got 66% in 2004, but her lead now is good enough in this Republican district.
The Democrats have some good news in the House, too. In the Catfight of the Century, MN-06, Patty Wetterling (D) is leading Michelle Bachman (R) 48% to 40%. This seat is the one Mark Kennedy vacated to run for the Senate, a bid he is almost sure to lose. Bachman is extremely right wing and Wetterling is very liberal, so ideology rather than mud will determine this one.
The first poll in the WY-AL seat shows the Republican, Barbara Cubin ahead of Democrat Gary Trauner for Dick Cheney's old seat. Although this may seem a no brainer (Republicans winning in Wyoming), in the Wyoming governor's race, Democrat Dave Freudenthal is leading Republican Ray Hunkins 63% to 30%. If you were under the impression that the red states were pure red and the blue states were pure blue, take a look at this table .
A new Gallup poll shows that only 23% of the country approves of the job Congress is doing. Broken down by party, 12% of the Democrats approve, 21% of the independents approve and 42% of the Republicans approve. With most Democrats and independents and half the Republicans against Congress, the GOP message of "All is well; don't fire Congress" is falling on deaf ears. Karl Rove has his work cut out for him the next three weeks.
If the Democrats take back the House, an event that seems increasingly likely, they are probably going to have a leadership battle. Before getting into that, we have to get into a bit of inside baseball. Do you know what the NRSC, DSCC, NRCC, and DCCC are? If not, here's the story. Each party has a committee in each chamber whose job is to maximize the number of seats they get in that chamber. They are:NRSC - National Republican Senatorial Committee -- chaired by Sen. Liddy Dole (R-NC)
DSCC - Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee -- chaired by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
NRCC - National Republican Congressional Committee -- chaired by Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY)
DCCC - Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee -- chaired by Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL)
The job of the chairperson is to raise money and to find candidates. Good candidates don't grow on trees. You have to talk them into it. It is especially hard to talk a representative with a safe seat into taking a gamble on upsetting an incumbent in an expensive Senate race.
Let's examine what happened. By any measure, Elizabeth "Liddy" Dole, senator from North Carolina and wife of Viagra enthusiast Bob Dole has done very poorly. Her job was to find strong opponents for seats the GOP might pick off. Clear targets were Maria Cantwell (D-WA) who won by a whisker in 2000; Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), whose state is reeling from job losses; Bill Nelson (D-FL), who is not popular and polled badly for a year; and Robert Byrd (D-WV), who is 89. Then there is Kent Conrad (D-ND), who is personally popular but comes from a state that gave Bush a 27% margin of victory in 2004, and Ben Nelson (D-NE), whose state gave Bush a 34% margin. Against Cantwell she runs an insurance executive; against Stabenow she runs a County Sheriff; against Bill Nelson she runs the much-hated Katherine Harris; against Byrd she runs a guy who has run for public office in WV four times and lost badly all four times; against Conrad she runs a young farmer; and against Ben Nelson she runs an unknown businessman. All the Democrats are coasting to reelection. The only Democratic Senator in a tight race is Bob Menendez, and recent polls show him to be ahead. In short, she dropped the ball.
In contrast, Chuck Schumer found powerful candidates to oppose to weak Republicans in Ohio, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. Montana also has a strong Democrat, but he wasn't Schumer's choice; he won a contested primary. Then there are Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. in Tennessee and Jim Webb in Virginia who are in very close races. All in all, a stellar performance by Schumer.
The House candidates are too numerous to mention, but the idea is the same. Rahm Emanuel came up with powerful candidates in dozens of congressional districts and many of them are going to be elected to Congress in November. In contrast, Tom Reynolds will probably lose his own seat and most likely will not pick up a single Democratic seat.
Here's where the leadership battle comes in. Emanuel thinks that his efforts have paid off spectacularly well and he should be rewarded with the position of majority leader, the second in command after Speaker Nancy Pelosi if the Democrats win back the House. Trouble is, Rep. John Murtha, a 38-year Marines Corps. veteran and now representative from Pennsylvania, who openly criticized President Bush about the war earlier also wants the job. And Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the current whip may also have ideas. Each one can make a valid claim to leadership, which will lead to a battle if the Dems win.
Projected New House*: 225 Democrats 206 Republicans 4 Ties* Where no independent polls exist, the 2004 election results have been used. See complete House polls.
Dem pickups: AZ-01 AZ-08 CT-04 FL-13 FL-16 IA-02 IN-02 IN-08 IN-09 MN-06 NC-08 NC-11 NM-01 NY-24 NY-26 OH-15 OH-18 PA-06 PA-07 PA-10 TX-22 WI-08
See the details of the Senate and House races with photos, maps, links, polls, etc.
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-- The Votemaster