News from the Votemaster
Guru Charlie Cook wrote an interesting piece on the presidential election based on his recent travels throughout the South and also on the results of a focus group. The group didn't debate Obama vs. McCain at all. They debated: Obama: ready or not? The people who supported McCain didn't praise his long service to the country, his experience, or anything like that. They just didn't think Obama was up to the job and McCain was the only other man left standing. Cook's conclusion is that this election is Obama's to win or lose. If Obama can convince enough people that they can trust him to make the right decisions, he will be the 44th President of the United States and there is little McCain can do about it. This is no doubt the reason Obama has been tacking to the center of late, to convince suburban housewives in the Midwest that he will keep their children safe.
In this way, the 2008 election is like the 1980 election, in which Ronald Reagan was initially seen as some wacko right-wing nutcake who might start World War III. People were tired of Jimmy Carter but they didn't trust Reagan. In their TV debate, Reagan came over as a reasonable person who was not about to do anything crazy. That was the end of Carter.
Of course, a 12-person focus group isn't everything. What other data do we have? Every national poll since Obama clinched the nomination in early June puts him ahead, by an average of about 5%. What about the betting site intrade.com? Here is the graph for the past 90 days (note that the scales are different on the two graphs).
So the objective indicators (electoral college map above, national polls, and intrade) all point in the same direction. Cook could well be right that this election is Obama's to win or lose.
Yesterday we had a story about what's going on inside the McCain camp. The Hill has another one today, this time about the speculation that McCain might bring back his long-time advisor Mike Murphy (Murphy denies it). While this stuff is inside baseball, it is important. Running a well-oiled campaign is tough and if there is sand in the gears money won't be raised properly, ads won't be placed optimally, and so on. In McCain's case, a clear message is still missing. Obama's message can be summarized in one word: "Change." McCain's answer so far, "Experience," conveys that he knows where the levers of government are but doesn't say what he would do with them.
CQ Politics has a story about the open House seat in NY-25 where Dan Maffei (D) is running against Dale Sweetland (R). Maffei ran in 2006 and came very close to beating then-incumbent Jim Walsh, who apparently didn't have the stomach for another tough race. CQ Politics has changed its rating on the seat from tossup to leans Democrat due to Maffei's big name recognition edge and cash advantage. New York is the state to watch in terms of House action. There are no fewer than seven hotly contested races there, as discussed on the Hot House races page.
While the 2008 elections for the House look bleak for the Republicans, with losses in the 10-20 range looking increasingly likely, there is a ray of hope for them: 2010. That is the year redistricting happens and solidly Republican states like Texas likely to pick up House seats and solidly Democratic states like New York likely to lose them. Furthermore, 36 governors will be elected in 2010 and they play a large role in the redistricting process. Of course, the state legislatures play an even larger role, so there will be a lot of focus on them in 2010 (although state senators with four-year terms elected in 2008 will still be in office in 2010). All in all, even if the Democrats win all the marbles in 2008, a GOP victory in 2010 could nullify it in the longer term. Sam Stein has the story.
Thought the primaries have come and gone for 2008? Try again. Twenty-four states still have primaries this year. They are for the Senate, House, and various local offices. Here is the schedule. As you can see, Sept. 9 is the Super Tuesday for primaries, Part II.
One new presidential poll today. McCain is way ahead in Alabama. While Alabama has many black voters, there has been little discussion that Obama is going to try to win this state. The southern states he might go after are Virginia, Mississippi, Georgia, and North Carolina, probably in that order.
One Senate poll today, in Rhode Island. Sen. Jack Reed (D) is heading to another landslide victory. He is not well known nationally, but he is a liberal Democrat is a state full of liberal Democrats (in fact, tied for most liberal senator).
We also have three House polls for southern Florida, in districts with many Cuban-Americans. The incumbents there are still ahead. The Diaz-Balarts are brothers, the only brother act in the House. There are a pair of sisters, however, Linda and Loretta Sanchez in CA-37 and CA-47, respectively. Sen. Carl Levin and Rep. Sandy Levin are also brothers.
-- The Votemaster