News from the Votemaster
Democrat Travis Childers (CHILL-ders), a court official in Prentiss county, beat Republican Greg Davis, mayor of Southaven, in a runoff election for House district MS-01 by a margin of 54% to 46% yesterday. The seat, which is R+10, became free when Gov. Haley Barbour appointed its occupant, Roger Wicker, to the Senate to fill the vacancy created when Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) resigned. This is the third stright loss for the GOP in a contested heavily Republican district this year. On March 8, scientist Bill Foster (D) defeated businessman Jim Oberweis (R) in IL-14 an R+5 district in the Chicago suburbs. On May 3, Louisian state legislator Don Cazayoux defeated former representative and newspaper publisher Woody Jenkin in R+7 LA-06. And now MS-01. All three races saw the national parties heavily involved. Both the NRCC and the DCCC spent upwards of $1 million on these races and outside groups, such as the conservative Freedom's Watch, poured in hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The MS-01 loss is especially painful to the GOP for three reasons. First, the Republicans tried very, very hard here, pouring in huge amounts of money and having Gov. Haley Barbour and Vice President Dick Cheney campaign for Davis. Second, in IL-14 and LA-06 they could argue they had flawed candidates. That doesn't hold here. Greg Davis is a popular mayor who has done a good job and has never been involved in any scandals. Third, this election was the second field test of the Republicans' November strategy, which they rolled out against Cazayoux and refined here. They ran ads bitterly attacking Childers as a close associate and fellow traveler of Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi. They called him a LIBERAL (them's fightin' words in Mississippi). They said he didn't represent Mississippi values. They tried everything. It didn't work.
At this point NRCC chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) is probably sweating bullets. He has hardly any money left and the only arrow in his quiver is calling Democrats tax-and-spend liberals. If that doesn't work in R+7 districts (LA-06) and R+10 districts (MS-01) what's going to happen in swing districts like AZ-01, FL-15, IL-11, IL-18, MN-03, NJ-07, NY-29, OH-15, OH-16, VA-01, and VA-11, all of which are Republican-held open seats that are R+5 or less?
The implication of LA-06 and MS-01 is that tying a Democratic House candidate to Obama (the Republicans assume he will be the nominee; they don't even mention Clinton) doesn't seem to hurt, not even in overwhelmingly Republican districts in the deep South. It certainly isn't going to hurt in New Jersey and Minnesota. And Obama may have de facto coattails by getting many young voters to register and vote this year, and most of these will vote a straight Democratic ticket.
In other election news, Hillary Clinton swept to a landslide victory over Barack Obama in the West Virginia Democratic primary, just as the polls had predicted. She got 67% of the vote to Obama's 26%. John Edwards, whose name was on the ballot, got 7%. She won every county. The delegate count is not clear yet but she is likely to win about 18 pledge delegates to his 8. The exit poll data were not available when this posting was made, but it is very likely to be similar to Pennsylvania and Ohio, with lower income blue-collar whites went for Clinton strongly. In West Virginia, these voters represent a very large fraction of the electorate, which is why she did so well. However, Obama picked up several supers yesterday (including a former DNC chair, Roy Romer, who was picked by Bill Clinton) which mitigates Clinton's delegate gain to some extent (see below).
On the Republican side, John McCain got 76% of the West Virginia vote, with Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, and Mitt Romney getting 10%, 5%, and 4%, respectively. This shows that McCain has yet to unite the party behind him. A quarter of the Republican voters still don't like him.
A new poll in Oregon, which has mail-in voting that ends next Tuesday shows Obama ahead in the beaver state 55% to 35%. Next Tuesday Kentucky also votes and Clinton is likely to win there almost as big as she won today in West Virginia. The next result of next week is that Oregon and Kentucky will cancel each other out and the difference in delegates will not change much as a result of those two states.
Needed to win: 2025
Here is another source for delegate totals.
-- The Votemaster