News from the Votemaster
Barack Obama took a huge gamble going abroad and acting like he was already President, meeting heads of state for photo ops and the like. So far, it seems to be paying off. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki didn't exactly formally endorse him, but effectively said that he liked Obama's timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. John McCain was campaigning in Maine yesterday and bitterly attacked Obama for his lack of military experience. Factually, McCain is completely right, but it will be increasingly hard to argue that Obama's plans for Iraq are irresponsible if the freely elected Iraqi government supports them. This unexpected support undercuts the Republicans' claim that Obama is a callow youth who can't be trusted in foreign affairs, the one area where Americans trust McCain more than Obama. As we and others have pointed out, this is Obama's election to lose. If he can convince people that their children are safe under his leadership, he wins. On all the domestic agenda items (economy, health care, etc.), people prefer the Democrats by huge margins. It would be ironic beyond belief if an Iraqi politician put in power by President Bush is the one who sealed Obama's election.
The Senate and House committees reported their June fundraising yesterday. Here are the numbers.
The DSCC's advantage is larger than it appears since virtually all the competitive Senate races save one (Louisiana) are being played on republican turf. NRSC chairman Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) not only has less money to spend than his DSCC counterpart Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), but he has to spend almost all of it on defense, making it much harder to help Louisiana state treasurer John Kennedy (R) in his uphill race to unseat Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA).
The House money situation is even more lopsided, with DCCC chairman Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) having an 6-to-1 advantage over NRCC chairman Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK). On our Hot House races page, we have already identified 57 House seats that are going to be competitive and there may be more to come. Assuming he can continue to raise money at the present clip, Van Hollen can dump $1 million into each of these districts and still have plenty left over for emerging opportunities. A million dollars is a lot of money in a House contest, often exceeding what the candidate can raise. Cole simply can't come close to matching that. For this reason, he has recruited many wealthy businessmen to run for the House. But picking candidates based on the size of their bank accounts rather on their ability to run good campaigns rarely leads to victory. The Democrats could easily pick up 20 seats in the House this year. At www.intrade.com contracts on the Republicans capturing the House are selling for $5, that is, bettors think the chance of this happening is 5%.
Four new presidential polls today, all of the interesting. In Alaska, McCain is only 5% ahead of Obama. This should be an easy state for him. Bush carried Alaska by 27 points in 2004. Georgia is also a state to watch on account of Bob Barr (L) on the ticket. Barr is polling at about 5% there, but so far that is no enough to tip the state. Obama is going to mount a huge effort to register black voters, which might help him, although probably not enough to win.
Now we come to the only two Kerry states that McCain has a realistic chance of winning. In Michigan, it is a statistical tie, with Obama's lead cut to 2%. Kerry won this state by just 3%, so it could be tight. The economy is going to be the main issue here, especially job losses. Finally, we come to New Hampshire, where McCain got rebooted and Obama almost got stopped in his tracks. Obama is trailing among white voters nationally (as Kerry and Gore did) and this is a state with virtually no black voters, so to win, Obama has to win a majority of the white voters. On the other hand, the southern part of the state is chock-a-block with affluent professionals who like Obama. The northern part is full of crusty old Yankee farmers who like McCain. It could be close although the Democrats did extremely well here in 2006, with Gov. Lynch (D) being reelected with 76% of the vote, two sitting Republican congressmen being defeated by upstarts, and the Democrats taking control of both houses of the state legislature for the first time since 1874. Still, it is a quirky state that loves mavericks.
As an aside, A PPP poll has Obama ahead of McCain by 8 points in Ohio, but PPP is a Democratic shop so this poll does not go into the data base as a matter of principle.
We have one Senate poll, in Alaska, and it is a dilly. Anchorage mayor Mark Begich (D) is leading long-time incumbent Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) by 9 points. The race has been fairly close up until now but DSCC chairman Chuck Schumer is keeping an especially close eye on this one. He recruited Begich, a young, relatively inexperienced politician and is going to be pouring money into this race. Stevens is 84 in a year in which youth vs. experience is going to be the national theme. However, unlike McCain, who is a national hero, Stevens is under investigation by the FBI and IRS for possible corruption. If this poll is right, Obama may get help from Begich's coattails rather than the other way around.
CQ Politics, which is normally extremely cautious, has changed its rating on the Colorado Senate race between Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO) and former representative Bob Schaffer (R) from tossup to leans Democratic. Udall has led in all six polls taken in the state this year. He is currently ahead by 10 points. Other observers think it very likely that Udall will be elected, along with his cousin Tom Udall in New Meixco.
It is never too early to start building a warchest. Even though she is not on the ballot this year, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has already raised $3.5 million for her 2010 reelection race in anticipation of having to face off against California's Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Over in the House, Rep. John Yarmuth's lead over former representative Anne Northup (R) in KY-03 has dropped, but is a still sizeable 10 points.
-- The Votemaster