Jul. 23 absentee ballot for overseas voters

Obama 292   McCain 219   Ties 27
Senate Dem 57   GOP 43  
House Dem 239   GOP 196  

Senate map and races
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strong Dem Strong Dem (207)
weak Dem Weak Dem (44)
barely Dem Barely Dem (41)
tied Exactly tied (27)
barely GOP Barely GOP (45)
weak GOP Weak GOP (91)
strong GOP Strong GOP (83)
270 Electoral votes needed to win
Map algorithm explained
Presidential polls today: CO FL NH OH RSS
Dem pickups (vs. 2004): CO IN IA MT NV NM GOP pickups (vs. 2004): (None) PDA

PW logo Bonus Quote of the Day Economy Remains Biggest Issue
McCain Plans Trip to Oil Rig Granite State Poll: New Hampshire Senate Race Tight
PPP Poll: Virginia Remains Very Competitive Quote of the Day

News from the Votemaster

Mitt Romney has decided to convert the $45 million loan he gave his campaign into a gift. As a shrewd businessman, he knows the chance of getting donors to give money to a multimillionaire former governor who is not running for office is pretty darn close to zero, so why try? His attempt to buy the presidency didn't work. However, by formally abandoning any attempt to recoup his money, he is signaling John McCain that he is willing to focus all his fundraising efforts on helping McCain. If McCain would be willing to name him as Vice President. Romney would no doubt humbly accept. Is the presidency a steal at a mere $45 million? Probably. Is the Vice Presidency worth $45 million? John Nance Garner famously didn't think so.

Real Clear Politics has an article about changes in party registration since the 2004 election. The Democrats have gained 700,000 people and the Republicans have lost 1 million in the 29 states that register voters by party. Here are the numbers im some important states (rounded to the nearest thousand).

State 2004 Election New Democrats New Republicans Net Democrats
Arizona Bush by 211,000 21,000 -10,000 31,000
Colorado Bush by 100,000 -47,000 -108,000 61,000
Florida Bush by 381,000 8,000 -13,000 21,000
Iowa Bush by 10,000 68,000 -27,000 95,000
Nevada Bush by 22,000 16,000 -44,000 60,000
New Hampshire Kerry by 9,000 36,000 2,000 34,000
New Mexico Bush by 6,000 -7,000 -5,000 -2,000
North Carolina Bush by 435,000 58,000 29,000 29,000
Oregon Kerry by 76,000 33,000 -92,000 125,000
Pennsylvania Kerry by 144,000 267,000 -221,000 488,000

Two states stand out: Iowa and Nevada. In Iowa, Bush won by 10,000 votes and the Democrats have netted 95,000 new voters. In Nevada, Bush won by 22,000 votes and the Democrats have picked up 60,000 new voters. These numbers alone suggest that the Democrats have a good shot at picking up Iowa (7 electoral votes) and Nevada (5 electoral votes). If Obama gets these plus the Kerry states, he has 264 electoral votes, 6 shy of the 270 he needs. If McCain holds all the Bush states except Iowa and Nevada, he wins, but he can't afford to lose another swing state. If he loses New Mexico, too, the electoral college will be tied at 269-269 and the new House picks the President, with each state having one vote.

In only one state did the Republicans have a net gain over the Democrats, New Mexico, and then by only 2,000. Obama can thank his lucky stars for this development, or better yet, thank Sen. Hillary Clinton for her spirited run and refusal to give up until the last dog died. By running the primary calendar to the very end, the Democrats kept registering voters across the whole country for months after the Republican nomination was over and Republicans stopped registered voters on a large scale. All those (Obama) Democrats who were moaning that Clinton's refusal to give in was going to hurt the party need to eat a second helping of crow tonight. Her persistence led to huge registration gains which may serve the party well in November.

Yesterday we noted that the DCCC has $55 million cash on hand. Now Talking Points Memo has obtained the list of how DCCC chairman Chris Van Hollen plans to spend that money. He is going to dump $17 million into districts where Democrats hold the seat and face a serious challenge. Many of these seats are in Republican territory. The amount he is going to spend per district depends on local circumstances, such as how much money the incumbent has raised already, what the chance is that the Republicans can take it away, and how expensive the media markets are. Here are the numbers. Remember than $1 million is a lot of money in the average House race. All the district names are clickable for more information.

CD Incumbent Party Amount
AZ-05 Harry Mitchell D 1,700,000
IN-09 Baron Hill D 1,600,000
FL-16 Tim Mahoney D 1,500,000
KS-02 Nancy Boyda D 1,200,000
OR-05 Open (Darlene Hooley) D 1,200,000
TX-22 Nick Lampson D 1,100,000
MS-01 Travis Childers D 1,060,000
IL-14 Bill Foster D 1,020,000
LA-06 Don Cazayoux D 723,000
TX-23 Ciro Rodriguez D 707,000
AZ-08 Gabrielle Giffords D 705,000
AL-05 Open (Bud Cramer) D 678,000
KY-03 John Yarmuth D 659,000
NH-01 Carol Shea-Porter D 564,000
PA-04 Jason Altmire D 554,000
WI-08 Steve Kagen D 475,000

However, the bulk of Van Hollen's money is going to defeat incumbent Republicans or go after open Republican-held House seats. He has chosen 33 races and will dump $33 million in them combined. Here is the breakdown.

CD Incumbent Party Amount
NY-25/NY-26/NY-29 Open (Jim Walsh)/Open (Tom Reynolds)/Randy Kuhl R/R/R 2,700,000
NJ-07 Open (Mike Ferguson) R 1,800,000
NJ-03 Open (Jim Saxton) R 1,700,000
AZ-01 Open (Rick Renzi) R 1,700,000
IL-11 Open (Jerry Weller) R 1,600,000
NC-08 Robin Hayes R 1,600,000
MI-07 Tim Walberg R 1,500,000
IL-10 Mark Kirk R 1,400,000
MN-03 Open (Jim Ramstad) R 1,400,000
FL-18/FL-21/FL-25 Ileana Ros-Lehtinen,2xDiaz-Balart R/R/R 1,400,000
NM-01 Open (Heather Wilson) R 1,300,000
NY-13 Open (Vito Fossella) R 1,300,000
VA-11 Open (Tom Davis) R 1,300,000
OH-16 Open (Ralph Regula) R 1,300,000
NM-02 Open (Steve Pearce) R 1,200,000
OH-15 Open (Deborah Pryce) R 1,200,000
MI-09 Joe Knollenberg R 1,100,000
FL-24 Tom Feeney R 1,000,000
WA-08 Dave Reichert R 949,000
MO-09 Open (Kenny Hulshof) R 941,000
OH-01 Steve Chabot R 928,000
NV-03 Jon Porter R 916,000
MO-06 Sam Graves R 798,000
LA-04 Open (Jim McCrery) R 714,000
CT-04 Chris Shays R 697,000
CO-04 Marilyn Musgrave R 667,000
AL-02 Open (Terry Everett) R 598,000
AK-AL Don Young R 586,000
ID-01 Bill Sali R 349,000

What is also noteworthy in the list is that a lot of the money is going into open seats, which are generally much easier to flip than occupied seats. Above the Pryce-line there are only seven occupied seats, each one with its own dynamic. For example, in NC-08, Robin Hayes is the incumbent who will have the largest amount of DCCC money thrown against him. The district is R+3, but more important, in 2006, a totally unknown high school teacher, Larry Kissell, who had never been in politics before, decided to challenge the four-term multimillionaire congressman (mostly because no established politician wanted to even try). Kissel got no money from the DCCC but still managed to come within 329 votes of winning. This time he's getting $1.6 million of Van Hollen's money to finish the job.

MI-07 (Walberg) at R+2 and especially IL-10 (Kirk) at D+4 are clear targets due to their demographics. The three Florida districts get $1.4 million combined because Van Hollen understands these are longshots. In contrast, the three upstate New York districts are fair game because the state as a whole is so blue.

In addition, there are two California districts where no breakdown is given between the Democratic-held CA-11 and the Republican-held CA-04, but Van Hollen is planning to spend $2.03 million in California.

NRCC chairman Tom Cole has $9 million in his piggy bank, so he can match Van Hollen on nine races. Undoubtedly he will choose defense since holding an existing seat is always easier than winning one from the other guys. So what does Tom Cole do with his $9 million? Of the 32 Republican-held seats Van Hollen is aiming at, 17 have Republicans sitting in them who hope to be there in January. Most likely Cole will devote the bulk of his money to some fraction of those 17, particularly the ones he thinks are in great danger. Looking at the PVI's on the Hot House races page gives an idea, but you have to know all the details to have the full picture. For example, he will undoubtedly tell Robin Hayes: "If you want to keep your job, go spend $5 million of your own money to do so. You can afford it."

Now on to the presidential polls. We have four of them today, all important. In Ohio, John McCain has now taken the lead in this critical swing state. The PPP poll yesterday had Obama 8 points ahead and now Rasmussen has McCain 6 points ahead. Since PPP is a Democratic shop and we ignore all partisan pollsters as a matter of principle (other than an occasional quick mention), Ohio now flips to the Republicans.

State Obama McCain Start End Pollster
Colorado 49% 42% Jul 21 Jul 21 Rasmussen
Florida 45% 47% Jul 19 Jul 21 ARG
New Hampshire 47% 45% Jul 19 Jul 21 ARG
Ohio 40% 46% Jul 21 Jul 21 Rasmussen

Another important state is Colorado, where Barack Obama maintains a small lead of 7 points. This is the fifth consecutive poll there showing Obama ahead. He clearly has a good chance to flip this state. And of course, with the Democratic National Convention there, Obama will get morning-til-night coverage in August ending with his acceptance speech to 75,000 wildly cheering fans at the Denver Broncos' stadium.

New Hampshire is one of the very few Kerry states in which McCain has a chance. A new ARG poll there puts Obama in the lead by 2 points, which means it is a statistical tie. Yesterday we reported a University of New Hampshire poll putting Obama ahead by 3 points.

Finally, ARG has a poll in Florida in which McCain's lead is cut to 2 points. This is a state in which Obama has failed to get much traction although the increased Democratic registration there will certainly help him.

Today's map shows how Obama could win the White House without Florida, Ohio, Missouri, and Virginia.

We also have three Senate polls, all consistent with past Senate polling. Mark Udall (D) looks like he is maintaing his lead over Bob Schaffer (R) in Colorado, Jeanne Shaheen (D) continues to wallop Sen. John Sununu (R-NH) in the Granite State, and Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) can continue his work as chairman of the Senate Armed Services committee without worrying too much about his election campaign.

State Democrat D-pct Republican R-pct Start End Pollster
Colorado Mark Udall 47% Bob Schaffer 43% Jul 21 Jul 21 Rasmussen
Michigan Carl Levin* 58% Jack Hoogendyk 32% Jul 13 Jul 15 EPIC-MRA
New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen 58% John Sununu* 36% Jul 19 Jul 21 ARG

-- The Votemaster

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