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News from the Votemaster

The Sky is Not Falling     Permalink

If you believe what you read in the media, the impending retirements of Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), and Gov. Bill Ritter (D-CO) spell the end of the world for the Democrats. Here are some headlines:

Well not quite. First Connecticut. The result of Dodd's retirement is to turn a seat the Democrats were very likely to lose into a sure winner. Unless the new candidate, AG Richard Blumenthal is caught on video in bed with a nine-year-old, he is going to be the next senator from Connecticut. Linda McMahon can spend $50 million if she wants to, but Blumenthal is still going to be the next senator. In North Dakota, Dorgan would probably have lost to Gov. John Hoeven, so his retirement turns a probable loss into a guaranteed certain loss for the Democrats. In Colorado, Ritter is not terribly popular, so his retirement turns a probable loss into a tossup if Denver mayor John Hickenlooper runs, as is likely. So these retirements turn three probable losses into a win, a loss, and a tossup. All in all, it's been a good week for the Democrats. A more accurate headline would have been: "Democrats luck out: unelectable candidates quit in Connecticut and Colorado."

As to running for the exits, currently four Democratic senators (Burris, Dodd, Dorgan, and Kauufman) are retiring this year. But six Republican senators (Bond, Brownback, Bunning, Judd, LeMieux, and Voinovich) are calling it quits. All ten of these races except in Connecticut, North Dakota, and Kansas are tossups at this point. Two competitive races, one easy win, and one sure loss for the Democratic seats and one sure loss and five competitive races for the Republican seats is hardly a disaster for the Democrats. Of course some of their incumbents (notably Lincoln and Reid) are in trouble, but that has nothing to do with the Dodd-Dorgan-Ritter retirements.

In the House, we have 14 Republicans retiring and 10 Democrats retiring. Again, this is a mixed bag and presents both parties with dangers and opportunities. Among governors who could have run for reelection and chose not to, four are Republicans and three are Democrats. Again here, to characterize the Democrats as running hell-bent for the exits is simply not true.

What is true is to say that as a rule, the party controlling the White House generally loses seats in Congress during the midterm election and this year will probably be no exception, but far too much has been made of the three retirements this week that actually strengthen the Democrats by getting rid of weak candidates.

Key Elections Are NOT for Congress     Permalink

While much attention has been focused on Congress, especially the Senate, probably the most important elections in November won't be for Congress at all. There are four of them and they are for the governorships of the nation's four most populous states: California, New York, Texas, and Florida. And the stakes are unusually high this year because the governors will get to approve or veto the redistricting plans from their state legislatures. If Jerry Brown (D) is elected governor of California, the Democrats who control both the state Senate and the Assembly will be able to gerrymander the state to their hearts' content. Likewise, a victory by David Paterson (D) or Andrew Cuomo (D) in New York will make sure that the district the state is expected to lose is a Republican one. The Texas and Florida legislatures are controlled by Republicans and Republican wins for the governorship would give each of them free rein. Conversely, victories by Meg Whitman (R) in California, Rick Lazio (R) in New York, Bill White (D) in Texas, or Alex Sink (D) in Florida would stop their respective legislatures in their tracks and force a neutral redistricting. The new districts will be used for the elections 2012 through 2020. Probably as many as 20 seats in Congress for a decade depend on these four gubernatorial elections. That's more important than one or two Senate seats in 2010.

Republican Insiders Overwhelmingly Expect Romney in 2012     Permalink

A new poll of Republican insiders (elected officials and party leaders) shows that 62% expect Mitt Romney to be the Republican presidential nominee in 2012. Sarah Palin came in tied for fifth, behind not only Romney, but also Tim Pawlenty, John Thune, and Haley Barbour. If nothing else, it shows that Republican insiders are living in an alternative reality. Romney is indeed a serious candidate, but to think that Barbour, an old, fat, Southern former party chairman currently governor of Mississippi has any chance at all is beyond incredulous.

What the insiders really mean is that they want Romney as the nominee cause he is pro-business and doesn't care much for the tea partiers. Their problem is that if Palin decides to run--and that is far from certain--she has an excellent chance of winning a plurality in the Iowa caucuses with maybe 30-40% of the vote. If she can parlay that into a narrow win in New Hampshire, the media will be screaming that the nomination is all but over. The insiders' problem is that they apparently do not realize that outside the beltway Palin is very popular and Romney is not. And remember, as late as Dec. 2007, insiders were expecting Rudy Giuliani to crush Hillary Clinton in the 2008 election.

Gerlach Drops Out of Pennsylvania Gubernatorial Race     Permalink

Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-PA) has abandoned his quest to become Pennsylvania's next governor citing poor fundraising. While politicians' stated reasons for entering or leaving a race are rarely true, this one probably is. Much of the Republican establishment in Pennsylvania is backing state Attorney General Tom Corbett (R). The Democratic field has not consolidated yet, with half a dozen people running.

Other Race Pages Updated Often     Permalink

On the menu below the map there are links to pages for the Senate, House, and Gubernatorial elections. These pages are updated whenever there is significant news about the races covered. Most of the time the changes are not mentioned on the front page, so check them from time to time.

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