Jun. 25 absentee ballot for overseas voters

Obama 328   McCain 183   Ties 27
Senate Dem 56   GOP 44  
House Dem 238   GOP 197  

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strong Dem Strong Dem (172)
weak Dem Weak Dem (40)
barely Dem Barely Dem (116)
tied Exactly tied (27)
barely GOP Barely GOP (38)
weak GOP Weak GOP (40)
strong GOP Strong GOP (105)
270 Electoral votes needed to win
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Presidential polls today: AZ IN NM RSS
Dem pickups (vs. 2004): CO IN IA MO NM OH VA GOP pickups (vs. 2004): (None) PDA

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News from the Votemaster

A Newsweek poll released late last week put Barack Obama ahead of John McCain by 15 points. Everyone who understands polling and politics said it was just an outlier and shouldn't be taken seriously (we didn't even bother to report it because it is so absurd). Now the LA Times has released its own poll also putting Obama 15 points ahead. Probably still worth taking with a bucket of salt. But if there are a couple more of these, it could begin to create a frame of "Obama landslide." But not yet.

Politico has a story about the 14 states Bush won in 2004 that Obama is going to target heavily. The top ones are Iowa, New Mexico, Ohio, and Nevada. He is currently ahead (slightly) in all but Nevada. Also high on his list are Colorado, Florida, Missouri, and Virginia. Other states that will get attention are North Carolina,Montana, North Dakota, Indiana, Georgia, and Alaska. In some cases, especially in the last group, the goal may be to help downticket candidates rather any attempt to win the state. For example, in Alaska, while Obama's chances are low, the chances of Anchorage mayor Mark Begich (D) knocking off Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) are pretty good.

The Republicans don't seem to be able to get anything right this year. Of the 45 House seats in which the 2006 winner is not running, only 11 are held by Democrats and only two are seats the Republicans might conceivably pick up. One of these is the D+1 OR-05 district from which Darlene Hooley (D) is retiring (the other is AL-05). The Republican running in OR-05 had at least a fair chance of winning, until an Oregon woman, now 34, has stated that Erickson impregnated her and paid for her abortion. Now Oregonians have no problem with abortions, but they have a lot of problems with sanctimonious politicians who rail against abortion and then pay for them when they get their girlfriends pregnant. As a result of this new revelation, state senator Kurt Schrader (D) is likely to hold the seat for the Democrats.

The FEC (Federal Election Commission) is now up to full strength. It did not have a quorum for months due to the Senate Democrats' refusal to accept Hans von Spakovsky as a member due to his repeated attempts at suppressing the minority vote and other controversies. Von Spakovsky finally saw the handwriting on the wall and withdrew. The FEC's job is to enforce campaign finance laws.

Let's continue with the VP pool. Today the Senate Republicans.

  • Lamar Alexander (R-TN) ran for President himself in 1996 and 2000 but didn't get very far. He is perceived as a moderate and has a lot of experience in government. His main drawback is that he does not bring in any new state or ethnic group.
  • Wayne Allard (R-CO) is retiring from politics after two terms in the Senate. Colorado is rapidly turning blue and it is unlikely even Allard's presence on the ticket--assuming he would accept the offer--would stop the tide.
  • John Barrasso (R-WY) is an appointed Senator. Let him at least first win his own state.
  • Robert Bennett (R-UT) is a solid conservative from a conservative state. He is also the grandson of a former president of the Mormon church and his wife is the granddaughter of a different former president of the Mormon church. All these ties might stir up some of McCain's more bigoted supporters.
  • Kit Bond (R-MO) is currently serving his fourth term in the Senate. If McCain thinks the Missouri is going to be a big problem, he might be a possibility.
  • Sam Brownback (R-KS) would be a real gamble for McCain. He would fire up the Base like no one else this side of Mike Huckabee. On the other hand, he ran for President himself this year and kind of fizzled out quickly. He converted to Catholicism some years ago, which might help a bit in the rust belt.
  • Jim Bunning (R-KY) is way too conservative for the country at large.
  • Richard Burr (R-NC) is serving his first term in the Senate although he served for five terms in the House before his election to the Senate in 2004. North Carolina normally votes Republican and Burr is not especially distinguished, so he seems an unlikely choice.
  • Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) ran an exceptionally nasty campaign against Max Cleland, a Vietnam veteran and triple amputee in 2002. He visciously attacked Cleland as lacking in patriotism. It worked in Georgia but the Democrats would have a field day labeling the ticket Old and Mean.
  • Tom Coburn (R-OK) would be a gift to the Democrats. He is a real right winger, having often picked fights with Newt Gingrich who he regarded as too far to the left. During the 2004 Senate election campaign he repeatedly said that the homosexual agenda was the biggest threat to America's freedom. He must have missed the party memo saying that terrorism was the biggest threat. He favors the death penalty for abortionists
  • Thad Cochran (R-MS) is a southern gentleman who is up for reelection, but if were to be elected Vice President, Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) would appoint another Republican so the seat is safe. Cochran has years of experience, lots of gravitas, and a soothing manner, but he probably doesn't bring in any electoral votes (but he does keep Mississippi out of play). Also with a ticket of McCain at 72 and Cochran at 70, GOP would come to mean "Geriatric Old Party."
  • Norm Coleman (R-MN) is fighting for his political life in the Senate. If he were to withdraw and run for Vice President, Al Franken (D) would probably take the seat.
  • Bob Corker (R-TN) has only been in the Senate 18 months.
  • John Cornyn (R-TX) is running for his second term in the Senate. If he were to be named Veep candidate, there is a danger that Rick Noriega (D) might beat his hastily named successor in the Senate race.
  • Larry Craig (R-ID) was heavily pressured to refrain from running for reelection due to his wide stance in the mens' room at the Minneapolis airport in 2007. He wasn't Veep material before his arrest for disorderly conduct and certainly isn't now.
  • Michael Crapo (R-ID) is a conservative senator from a conservative state but would add little to the ticket.
  • Jim DeMint (R-SC) caused a stir during his 2004 Senate race when he stated that gays and unmarried mothers living with their boyfriends should not be allowed to teach in the public schools. He is far too right wing to be considered.
  • Pete Domenici (R-NM) is not running for reelection due to brain disease and the U.S. attorneys scandal. McCain doesn't need to become associated with the latter.
  • John Ensign (R-NV) is currently running the NRSC and doing a rather poor job of it. While Nevada is becoming a swing state, Ensign is not the right guy for the ticket.
  • Michael Enzi (R-WY) is a conservative from a conservative state that McCain will win under his own power anyway.
  • Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is the only sitting Senator to have served in Iraq, albeit for two short periods as an Air Force reservist, where he holds the rank of colonel. Although fairly conservative, he sometimes bucks the party line, making him the kind of person might want on the ticket. His main drawback is that he has never been married.
  • Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is 74, older than John McCain. Enough said.
  • Judd Gregg (R-NH) is a moderate on most of the hot-button social issues, in order to stay in line with his constituents. It is doubtful that the Base would accept him. He would help with New Hampshire though, a state McCain has a chance in. This is one of the few Kerry states McCain could win.
  • Chuck Hagel (R-NE) is a maverick, like McCain. However, one area where is maverickicity (?) is clearest is Iraq. He thinks the "surge" was a terrible idea and wants a timeline for bringing the troops home. McCain wants to keep them there for 100 years if necessary. These two mavericks are completely incompatible. How can you have a Vice President who is openly disdainful of your stand on one of the most important issues?
  • Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is a respected senator with a long track record. However at 74 he is older than McCain. One septuagenarian is enough.
  • James Inhofe (R-OK) is younger than Hatch but still older than McCain. Furthermore, he is incredibly right wing (e.g., he believes global warming is a hoax) and would drive moderate Republicans and independents into Obama's arms.
  • Johnny Isakson (R-GA) is a very conservative first-term senator from Georgia. The Base would go for him big time but he would repel independents with many of his positions.
  • Jon Kyl (R-AZ) is from Arizona, like McCain, and that pesky old 12th amendment to the constitution frowns on that.
  • Dick Lugar (R-IN) would be a suprise choice, but not totally off the wall. Lugar is highly respected by both parties for his knowledge of foreign affairs and his willingness to work across the aisle when needed. A McCain/Lugar ticket would consist of two heavyweights and would drip gravitas and would emphasize Obama's youth and inexperience. On the other hand, Lugar appeals to roughly the same demographic as McCain.
  • Mel Martinez (R-FL) would be perfect were it not for one problem. He is a Catholic Latino from a hugely important swing state. What more could McCain ask for? Well, he could ask for Martinez to be constitutionally eligible to be Vice President--he was born in Cuba. McCain wasn't born in the U.S. either--he is a Zonian, but his parents were Americans so he is probably OK unless the Supreme Court decides otherwise.
  • Mitch McConnell (R-KY) would be a very, very surprising choice. They don't come much more partisan than McConnell. His motto is "Republican good, Democrat bad." He would repel all Democrats and independents and would cause an Obama landslide. As minority leader being partisan is fine, but not as Veep candidate who needs to have some appeal to independents. Besides, his first name isn't "Mitchell" it's "Addison." It sounds too snooty. And there would be some issues about the separation of powers. He is intimately entwined with the executive branch: he is married to Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao.
  • Pat Roberts (R-KS) is a crusty old curmudgeon from a very red state. Bad idea.
  • Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is a conservative from an easy state. Unless McCain thinks he has a big problem with the Base, he is an unlikely choice.
  • Richard Shelby (R-AL) has the same characteristics as Sessions.
  • Gordon Smith (R-OR) is fighting to hold his seat in the Senate. If he were on the ticket, Jeff Merkley (D) would be the new senator from Oregon. Even without Smith on the ticket, Merkley may be the new senator, though. Smith has a reputation for being indecisive. He is sometimes called "Five minutes to midnight Smith." He waits until the last minute to see if a bill is going to pass and then joins the majority.
  • Arlen Specter (R-PA) is too unpredictable for McCain. He is one of the least conservative Republican senators and would infuriate the base. If the Democrats win 58, 59 seats in the Senate, Harry Reid will pull out all stops to get Specter to jump ship, like Jim Jeffords did.
  • Ted Stevens (R-AK) is a twofer for the Democrats: he's ancient and he's corrupt. McCain may be old but he's not stupid.
  • John Sununu (R-NH) is way down in the polls for his own reelection. He has the smell of a loser.
  • John Thune (R-SD) is completely unknown outside South Dakota (and maybe southern North Dakota). He adds nothing.
  • David Vitter (R-LA) choses cheaper prostitutes than Eliot Spitzer and Vice Presidents have a lot of free time on their hands, but don't count on him becoming the Veep.
  • George Voinovich (R-OH) is too old (71) but would otherwise be an interesting choice. He is from a key swing state (Ohio) and has tons of experience as mayor of Cleveland, governor of Ohio, and now senator.
  • John Warner (R-VA) is retiring from politics.
  • Roger Wicker (R-MS) will be thanking his lucky stars if he can get elected to the Senate on his own (he was appointed to fill Trent Lott's seat). The Vice Presidency is definitely a bridge too far.

Here are today's polls. SurveyUSA has Obama leading in Indiana. Seems awfully fishy. Probably just a statistical fluke. The others seem OK.

State Obama McCain Start End Pollster
Arizona 28% 38% Jun 20 Jun 21 Arizona State U.
Indiana 48% 47% Jun 21 Jun 23 SurveyUSA
New Mexico 49% 46% Jun 17 Jun 19 SurveyUSA

In the Nebraska Senate race, Mike Johanns is wiping out Scott Kleeb, pretty much as expected.

State Democrat D-pct Republican R-pct Start End Pollster
Nebraska Scott Kleeb 33% Mike Johanns 60% Jun 23 Jun 23 Rasmussen

-- The Votemaster

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