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Senate polls today: CT DE IA NH OK RSS
Dem pickups: (None) GOP pickups: AR CO IL IN NV ND PA WI PDA

PW logo O'Malley Pulls Away in Maryland Dukakis Advised White House on Midterm Strategy
Deal Leads for Georgia Governor Enthusiasm Gap Closing
Clinton Gets High Ratings Polling Disconnect of the Day

News from the Votemaster            

Editorial Note     Permalink

Updates may be a bit erratic for the next two weeks. There will probably be postings every day, but posting times may be a bit irregular. Most likely they will still be early in the morning though, but sometimes a bit later than usual.

Lazio Drops Gubernatorial Bid     Permalink

Former representative Rick Lazio (R), who lost the New York gubernatorial primary to Carl Paladino (R) two weeks ago, was still on the ballot on the Conservative Party line. Yesterday, under tremendous pressure from the Republican Party, he abandoned his bid to become governor of New York so as to avoid splitting the Republican votes. He had virtually no chance and his withdrawal gives a small boost to Carl Paladino, but Paladino is expected to lose badly to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D), son of former New York governor, Mario Cuomo.

Murkowski Campaigning as Though She Were a Regular Candidate     Permalink

Lisa Murkowski, first appointed to the Senate by her father, lost the Republican primary to an unknown lawyer supported by the tea party and Sarah Palin, but is now campaigning hard throughout this vast state as though she were on the ballot. An odd part of her campaign is telling the voters how to spell her name, since although badly spelled write-in votes will count, they have to be recognizable and the head of the state board of elections has already said that while "Lisa M" will count, just "Lisa" will not. Murkowski has a large bank account and is traveling throughout the state trying to convince the voters that only she can bring home the bacon. Although Alaska has a lot of oil, it also gets a lot of subsidies from the federal government, something former senator Ted Stevens was very good at acquiring. A key part of her campaign is to convince the voters that only she can continue the stream. The great danger for the Republicans is that she might split the Republican vote and allow Democrat Scott McAdams to squeak by. Needless to say, she will try very hard to get Democratic votes as well. To the extent her write-in campaign forces the NRSC to spend money in Alaska, even if Miller ultimately wins, she is de facto helping the Democrats.

Karl Rove Is Back in Business     Permalink

Karl Rove, sometimes called "Bush's brain," left the White House in 2007 and some people thought he was done with politics. Not at all. He is back with a vengeance, organizing donors and Republican operatives in an effort to take the Senate and House. De facto, he is doing the work that the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele, is supposed to be doing. Clearly Rove feels that he can do Steele's job better than Steele, and he may well be right. He knows large numbers of wealthy Republican donors and is a master at shaping the message. His group plans to run tens of thousands of attack ads on television, send out 40 million pieces of attack snail mail, make 20 million automated attack phone calls, and organize a big get-out-the-vote operation.

Rove, of course, is as establishment as they come, having run George Bush's political operation for most of Bush's career. As such, he is likely to clash with the tea party activists, who are trying to bring down the establishment. He has already denigrated Christine O'Donnell, who won the Delaware senatorial primary, as unelectable. In general, he is likely to clash more with the tea party activists in the coming weeks because he is a nuts-and-bolts guy. He likes the mechanics of politics and wants to elect as many Republicans as he can. He is not terribly interested in what they believe in. In contrast, the most visible figure in the tea party movement is probably Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), who famously once said he would prefer to have 30 conservatives in the Senate than 60 RINOs. Clearly Rove would never agree with that.

Politico Lists the Top Five Senate Races     Permalink

In an article about the Senate races, Politico lists the top five Senate races as follows. From most competitive to least are Nevada, Illinois, Colorado, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Based on the polling data so far, that's probably a pretty accurate assessment, although perhaps Kentucky should be in the list, too. Noteworthy is that California and Washington are not on the list. For a while, it looked that the Republicans had a real shot at each of these, but more recent polling puts the Democratic incumbents back on top.

New Rules for Primaries in 2012     Permalink

Thankfully, both major parties learned something about how to pick presidential nominees from the mad rush to be first that occurred in 2008, when Florida and Michigan violated the rules and had their delegates (initially) disqualified. The new rules state that no delegates to the national convention may be chosen before the first the first Tuesday in March--except for delegates from New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. Nevertheless, Iowa will hold its caucuses in January because the caucuses don't select any delegates to the national convention, just to the county conventions, which then elect delegates to the state convention, which chooses the national delegates.

The decision to let Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada go first was not brought down by Moses from Mt. Sinai, but does have some real value. First, they are from four different parts of the country, which gives a better idea of how the various candidates might do than, say, having all of New England vote in February and all of the West vote in March. Second, they are all small states, which means that candidates without massive bank accounts can complete if they are determined enough. If California went first, any candidate who didn't have $30 million in the bank by the end of 2011 would have no chance.

Furthermore, the Republicans' new rules prohibit winner-take-all events before April 1, so delegates won in March will be divided proportionally to the votes obtained. This change will slow down the process by preventing any candidate from collecting large blocks of delegates early on. Also, after the first four, about a dozen low-population states go next. Then come the biggies in three rounds. Wikipedia has a nice colored map showing the order.

While it is hard to say this far out who the new rules help and hurt, it won't be possible for, say Sarah Palin, to win Iowa, skip new Hampshire, and then win all the marbles on a Super Tuesday a week or two later. The whole process will be drawn out longer, which probably favors experienced candidates who can campaign for a month or two without saying something so awful it completely destroys them. With a longer campaign, there are likely to be more primary debates, which again favors more experienced candidates. Still, an inexperienced candidate could catch fire early and burn brightly for a month or two, although this is far more typical of the Democrats (think Obama, Howard Dean, Gene McCarthy and many others) than it is of the Republicans.

Today's Polls: CT DE IA NH OK NH-01 NH-02     Permalink

New Senate Polls

State Democrat D-pct Republican R-pct Ind. I-pct Start End Pollster
Connecticut Richard Blumenthal 50% Linda McMahon 45%     Sep 26 Sep 26 Rasmussen
Delaware Chris Coons 49% Christine O-Donnell 40%     Sep 26 Sep 26 Rasmussen
Iowa Roxanne Conlin 33% Chuck Grassley* 61%     Sep 19 Sep 22 Selzer
New Hampshire Paul Hodes 32% Kelly Ayotte 46%     Sep 22 Sep 26 ArkansasG
Oklahoma Jim Rogers 26% Tom Coburn* 68%     Sep 23 Sep 23 Rasmussen

New House Polls

Cong. Distr. Democrat D-pct Republican R-pct I I-pct Start End Pollster
NH-01 Carol Shea-Porter 40% Frank Guinta 50%     Sep 22 Sep 26 ARG
NH-02 Ann McLane Kuster 36% Charlie Bass 38%     Sep 22 Sep 26 ARG

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