News from the Votemaster
Rasmussen has just released new polls for Iowa. Both races are close. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton leads with 27%, followed by Barack Obama at 25%, and John Edwards at 24%. On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee has passed Mitt Romney and now leads with 28% to Romney's 25%. Rudy Giuliani is at 12%, closely followed by Fred Thompson at 11%.
As we have pointed out many times, the media blow the Iowa caucuses up way out of proportion. Iowa is a small, unrepresentative state, and the caucuses have very low turnout (maybe 100,000 people for each party). Winning there would have little predictive value for what follows, except for the fact that whoever wins grabs all the headlines and TV time until New Hampshire votes (in 2008, 5 days later). Then a second small, unrepresentative state dominates the news for a week or so. If the same person, say, Jones, wins both, all the pundits can talk about is: "Can Jones be stopped?"
Definitely under the radar but also very important is what is going on in the races for Congress. In case you missed it, Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) is resigning at the end of 2007, meaning that the Republicans will now have to defend 23 Senate seats vs. 12 for the Democrats. There are six open seats, currently all occupied by Republicans. Open seats are very important because in races in which there is an incumbent running for reelection, the incumbent wins in more than 90% of the cases. Only when there is an open seat is there a real horse race, and in those races, money is often the determining factor. Currently, the DSCC has about three times as much money as the NRSC, and the GOP has to defend six open seats to boot. Only two incumbent Democrats are in any danger--Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), who had a stroke last year and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), many of whose voters left the state after hurricane Katrina. If South Dakota governor Mike Rounds declines to run for the Senate, Johnson is safe, meaning Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), chairman of the DSCC has to play defense in only one state, vs. at least ten states for NRCC chairman Sen. John Ensign (R-NV). In addition to the six open GOP seats, Ensign has to worry about endangered incumbents in Maine (Sen. Susan Collins), New Hampshire (Sen. John Sununu), Oregon (Sen. Gordon Smith), and Minnesota (Sen. Norm Coleman). When you add the money disparity into the mix, the Democrats could easily pick up 5-7 seats in the Senate, not enough to force cloture, but enough to make Republicans very dispirited. Below are the open Senate seats.
The House looks almost as bad for the Republicans. So far, 22 representatives have announced they are not running. Of these, 17 are Republicans and five are Democrats, and all five Democrats are from safe districts. The Udall cousins are running for the Senate and are favored to win, Tom Allen is running for the Senate, Julia Carson has lung cancer, and Michael McNulty has had enough. Four of the Republican seats are safe (AL-02, CO-06, MS-03, and WY-AL), but the other 13 will be battlegrounds. In addition, there there are half a dozen seats the Republicans held in 2006 by tiny margins and will have to pour money into to defend. An example is NC-08, in which a totally unknown high school teacher with no political experience, no money, and no support from the national party, came within 329 votes of unseating a wealthy four-term Republican congressman. There are a few Democratic freshmen who come from hostile districts such as Brad Ellsworth in IN-08, but most of them won by decent margins and have voted fairly conservatively in Congress and most are raising money like there is no tomorrow. For example, freshmen Kirsten Gillibrand (NY-20), Ron Klein (FL-22), and Joe Sestak (PA-07) have all raised $1.5 million or more already. The median at this point for all 435 representatives is about $400,000. As of the third quarter of 2007, the DCCC committee had over $20 in the bank to the NRCC's $2 million. Consequently, Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), chairman of the NRCC, is looking for rich businessmen who can pay for their own campaigns. The only problem with that strategy is that historically, people with no prior political experience rarely get elected to Congress unless they are already celebrities (think: Heath Schuler in NC-11). Here are the open House seats.
This page is the prototype for 2008. The data and map will refer to previous elections until serious polls begin in 2008. The blog will be updated when there is interesting news about the 2008 races.Preview of the 2008 races: President Senate House
This map shows the current governors. Put your mouse on a state for more information.
This map shows the current Senate. Put your mouse on a state for more information.
This map shows the current House. Put your mouse on a state for more information.
-- The Votemaster