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Senate polls today: CA MO NY WA RSS
Dem pickups: (None) GOP pickups: AR CO IL IN ND PA WI PDA

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News from the Votemaster            

Democrats Postpone Vote on Tax Cuts     Permalink

Both the Senate and House Democrats have now agreed to postpone a vote to extend the Bush tax cuts until after the election. The vote is contentious because President Obama wants to extend the middle class tax cuts and let those for the rich expire while the Republicans want all of them to be made permanent. Rather than tackle them now, Congress will come back after the election in a lame-duck session to deal with them.

This move by the Democrats is very hard to fathom. Polls have repeatedly shown that clear majorities agree with Obama and want to end the tax cuts for the rich, in part to reduce the deficit. It is normal for politicians to be scared of doing what is right for the country when it is unpopular (e.g., raising the retirement age) but usually they can muster the will to do popular things. But in this case, the blue dog Democrats are scared of voting no on tax cuts for the rich even though few of them represent wealthy districts as these tend to be in big cities in blue states like New York, California, and Washington, not the rural districts they represent. A vote that forced the Republicans to filibuster middle-class tax cuts in order to save tax cuts for the rich would have been the perfect campaign issue for the Democrats, yet they just threw it away and are now likely to suffer massive losses in November at all levels.

After the election, Congress will come back. The triumphant Republicans will say "the country supports us so we get to call the shots and we want to make the tax cuts for everyone permanent." The shell-shocked Democrats will be divided and bewildered by the "unexpected" losses and will either agree or perhaps extend them temporarily until 2012, in which case the cycle will repeat. A smart move for them would be to make the middle-class tax cuts permanent and the upper-bracket cuts temporary, so they could be gotten rid of in 2012 by simply doing nothing. But they are likely to be so disillusioned by the election results that they won't have much stomach for a fight.

The one potential fly in the ointment here is that the blue dogs will probably take the brunt of the voters anger and although they will be present in the lame-duck session, the influence of people who were just voted out of office may be minimal. It is also conceivable that the House passes a bill extending only the middle-class tax cuts and then adjourns. The Senate would then be faced with a choice: the House bill or let all the tax cuts expire. Starting with a new bill in January would take months during which time the pre-2001 tax rates would be in effect.

Castle Mulls a Write-In Bid in Delaware     Permalink

Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE), who lost his primary to Christine O'Donnell, has not ruled out a write-in campaign a la Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). He has until Sept. 30 to decide. The situation in Delaware is completely different from Alaska, where Murkowski could split the Republican vote and allow Democrat Scott McAdams to squeak through. In Delaware, in a two-way race between O'Donnell and New Castle County Executive Chris Coons (D), Coons wins easily, so a Castle bid would not endanger a Republican win at all, but increase the chances of it.

Such a write-in would put the Republican establishment in a real bind. On the one hand, it desperately needs the seat to take over the Senate. On the other, it has spent the past week denouncing Murkowski for not accepting the will of the voters. Support of a Castle write-in campaign would open them to charges of hypocrisy with Democrats saying: "So you support the will of the people when you like what they said, otherwise not?" Also, support of Castle would anger the tea partiers, who consider O'Donnell's win a great victory and do not want it undermined, even if she loses badly. Newsweek has a piece on Castle's chances.

Could the Republicans Actually Carry Out Their Pledge?     Permalink

Suppose the Republicans win majorities in both chambers of Congress. This would put them on the spot to actually carry out the things they pledged in their new Pledge to America. If the Bush tax cuts have not already been dealt with by January, they could certainly get everyone to support keeping the middle-class tax cuts, but if they put in the cuts for the wealthy as well, they might be faced with a presidential veto. It is far from clear who would fold in that fight. Also on the agenda are the rates for dividends and the estate tax. As usual, everyone loves tax cuts and everyone hates the deficit but the two seem to be related some how. An additional complication for the GOP will be the substantial number of tea partiers in the new Congress who ran on a platform of deficit reduction. If the first thing they do is lower taxes without cutting spending (which is virtually impossible) they will be increasing the deficit, something that will come back to haunt them in 2012. Furthermore, many of these new members are very conservative and not inclined to compromise, which greatly reduces the chances of writing any legislation the President might sign. Politico goes over all the major points in the pledge and rates the odds on their passing Congress or being signed into law. Briefly, a few of them have a good chance, but most won't even make it out of Congress, and if they do will be quickly vetoed, like repealing the health-insurance law.

Hoffman Concedes Defeat and Expects to Win     Permalink

Doug Hoffman conceded defeat in his race for the Republican nomination in NY-23 yesterday and simultaneously announced that he will continue running for Congress. He is on the ballot on the Conservative Party line. This race could end up being a repeat of the special election last year in which he drove the Republican candidate out of the race, resulting in a Democrat, Bill Owens, winning the district for the first time since the Civil War. It is unlikely he will drive the Republican nominee, Matt Doheny, out of the race this time, but he could easily drain off enough Republican votes to reelect Owens. This is a seat the Republicans really counted on winning. If the Republicans come very close to capturing the House but just fail, the anger between the establishment and the tea party candidates will focus on situations like this where the tea party cost the Republicans a seat. It is unlikely Hoffman can win. After all, he couldn't beat Owens one-on-one before he was an incumbent and it will be a lot harder now that he is an incumbent and there is a Republican in the race as well.

Strange Polls in New York Today     Permalink

Two academic polls for the New York Senate race between Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Joseph DioGuardi (R) were released yesterday (see below). Quinnipiac University has Gillibrand ahead by 6%. Siena College has her ahead by 26%. That is not a typo. Somebody is way off here, probably Siena College. Outliers like this happen sometimes which is why our map algorithm averages all polls within a week of the most recent one.

Today's Polls: CA MO NY WA KY-03 ND-AL PA-08     Permalink

New Senate Polls

State Democrat D-pct Republican R-pct Ind. I-pct Start End Pollster
California Barbara Boxer* 47% Carly Fiorina 41%     Sep 21 Sep 21 Field Poll
Missouri Robin Carnahan 44% Roy Blunt 52%     Sep 21 Sep 21 Rasmussen
New York Kirsten Gillibrand* 48% Joseph DioGuardi 42%     Sep 16 Sep 20 Quinnipiac U.
New York Kirsten Gillibrand* 57% Joseph DioGuardi 31%     Sep 16 Sep 17 Siena Coll.
Washington Patty Murray* 50% Dino Rossi 48%     Sep 19 Sep 21 SurveyUSA

New House Polls

Cong. Distr. Democrat D-pct Republican R-pct I I-pct Start End Pollster
KY-03 John Yarmuth* 53% Todd Lally 30%     Sep 20 Sep 21 Braun Research
ND-AL Earl Pomeroy* 45% Rick Berg 48%     Sep 20 Sep 21 Rasmussen
PA-08 Patrick Murphy* 35% Mike Fitzpatrick 49%     Sep 14 Sep 19 Franklin+Marshall Coll.

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