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News from the Votemaster

Primary Results for Seven States

Primaries were held in seven states yesterday: Delaware, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin ( well as D.C.) Here is a brief run down of the more interesting results.

Delaware. State treasurer Jack Markell beat Lt. Gov. John Carney to become the Democrats gubernatorial nominee against former judge Bill Lee (R). The significance of this race is that if Joe Biden is elected Vice President, the governor of Delaware will appoint his replacement in the Senate until a special election in 2010. Depending on the timing of when Biden retires if he wins, either current governor Ruth Minner (D) or the new governor, virtually certain to be Markell, will appoint his replacement. Biden would no doubt prefer that the new senator be his son Beau, currently the state's attorney general, but scheduled to be shipped out to Iraq this Fall. If Biden wins and doesn't like Minner's choice, he can wait until the new governor is sworn in before resigning.

Minnesota. Author, radio host, and comedian Al Franken easily won the Democratic nomination to challenge Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) for the Senate. In MN-01, oncologist Brian Davis will be the Republican nominee against freshman congressman Tim Walz (D).

New Hampshire. In a closely watched Senate race, Sen. John Sununu (R-NH) will face former governor Jeanne Shaheen (D), just like in 2002. In NH-01 it will also be a rematch (of 2006) with Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) against former representative Jeb Bradley. In NH-02 it will be Rep. Paul Hodes (D-NH) against conservative radio host Jennifer Horn.

New York. The Empire State was the scene of several key primaries. The most fun district in the whole country is NY-13, which has been the source of endless entertainment all year. The show started when Rep. Vito Fossella (R-NY) was caught running a red light while drunk and on the way to visit one of his two families. It went downhill from there. Now we have the winners. The Democrats are putting up city concilman Mike McMahon against Republican Robert Straniere. Since Straniere got fewer votes than the loser of the Democratic primary (Steve Harrison), it is likely that this seat will flip to the Democrats, meaning they will control every congressional seat in New York City. The moral of the story: if you are a congressman with two families don't drink and drive.

In a big upset in NY-26, Buffalo lawyer Alice Kryzan beat Iraq veteran Job Powers and businessman Jack Davis for the Democratic nomination. She will now face Republican businessman Christopher Lee. The district leans Republican so Lee is favored.

In NY-21, another open seat, the Democrat will be former state representative Paul Tonko who beat a former Hillary Clinton aide, Tracey Brooks. Her opponent will be James Buhrmaster (R). Tonko is strongly favored to hold the seat for the Democrats.

Rhode Island. No competitive primaries here.

Vermont. Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), who won Bernie Sander's seat when Sanders was elected to the Senate in 2006 got renominated. The Republicans could not find anyone willing to take him on, so Welch will run unopposed. That says something about Vermont. Normally first-term congressman are vulnerable so the lack of interest in even trying to get the at-large seat is surprising.

Wisconsin. Rep Steve Kagen (D-WI) and former state assembly speaker John Gard (R) will face off again in WI-08 as they did in 2006. Kagen, a physician, is favored to hold his seat.

More at CQ Politics.

Why did McCain Pick Sarah Palin?

Madison Powers at CQ Politics wrote a piece discussing why John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate. Did he think that the angry Hillary supporters were looking for was a woman who is for creationism but against all abortions and the idea that people have had an effect on climate change, and doesn't have much knowledge about Iraq? Or did he think they would all identify with a young woman who got her job based on her good looks and short track record over much older and more qualified men? More likely this was a conscious attempt to revive the culture wars of the 1960s and pit the God-fearing, church-going, gun-toting, pickup-driving, real Americans against the dope-smoking, pseudo-intellectural, flag-and-bra-burning, anti-American, hippies. He may have thought his only chance was to bury the issues and run on warmed-over raw emotion. Initial indications show that the choice of Palin hasn't gained him any women voters but has really revved up conservative men.

Campaigns and Lies

Nobody really expects politicians to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, but the willingness of the candidates to brazenly tell out-and-out lies has reached a new high this year. In the past, politicians would shade the truth a bit and if they were caught, would stop. No more. The Washington Post has a story on that today. One example: "McCain says rival Barack Obama would raise everyone's taxes, even though the Democrat's tax plan exempts families that earn less than $250,000." But a poll taken Sept. 5-7 shows that 51% of the voters thought Obama would raise their taxes. Republican strategist John Feegery said: "these little facts don't really matter." What he means is that the campaign is trying to exploit the long-standing Republican theme that Democrats raise taxes and Obama's promise to raise taxes only on the rich is an unimportant detail that can be safely ignored. In the past the press called candidates to order when they lied. Now the model is to give each side equal time, even if one is brazenly lying. For example, if Obama wanted to motivate younger voters, he could say: "McCain will bring back the draft and everyone under 21 will be sent to Iraq." There is not a shred of evidence for this, of course, but the press would dutifully report it along with McCain's outraged denial. But the seed would be planted. Three days later there would be a poll showing that 35% of the voters think McCain will bring back the draft. That's how the game is played these days. It ain't beanbag.

Today's Polls

We have three presidential polls today. In Montana, John McCain has taken a solid lead, as expected. Also in North Carolina, which might yet become competitive if Obama can register enough young voters and black voters. In New Jersey, McCain has narrowed the gap but it is very unlikely he can win the state.

State Obama McCain Start End Pollster
Montana 42% 53% Sep 08 Sep 08 Rasmussen
North Carolina 38% 58% Sep 06 Sep 08 SurveyUSA
New Jersey 47% 41% Sep 04 Sep 07 Fairleigh Dickinson U.

We also have two Senate polls. A new poll for North Carolina shows Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) 8 points ahead of state senator Kay Hagan (D). Another poll a few days ago showed them tied. It will probably be close. Montana is a bit odd, with the Republican candidate, Bob Kelleher, calling for socialized medicine, nationalizing the oil industry, and raising taxes to eliminate poverty. Not your standard Republican.

State Democrat D-pct Republican R-pct Start End Pollster
Montana Max Baucus* 64% Bob Kelleher 31% Sep 08 Sep 08 Rasmussen
North Carolina Kay Hagan 40% Elizabeth Dole* 48% Sep 06 Sep 08 SurveyUSA

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