WANTED: Meaningful overnight relationship.

The Wave – Post Mortem

November 4th, 2010 by Kevin

Election night I was at the MN GOP HQ until 4 AM following the latest results pouring in, absorbing ever rumor and theory, and enjoying the heck out of myself so much that it was a shock when I looked at a clock. I\’ve always found Election Night fun. This year I had obvious reasons for that, with running a campaign and being much more plugged in in general. But also just the novelty of it, that huge numbers of seats can change possession and nobody has to so much as get punched in the head….or at least not out of malice. I know a certain Legislative Assistant whose exuberant celebration darn near caused bodily injury to innocent bystanders. :)

But I\’ve also said that politics is like a soap opera on a massive scale. There is the surface drama even the casual observer sees. Then there are the undercurrents and connecting strategy that political wonks see. And then there are the personality conflicts and caucuses within caucuses within caucuses that political insiders get to see. That last part it\’s a good thing that voters never see or else nobody would even vote again, for fear of encouraging politicians.

End result is you have a fascinating tapestry of events, intention actions, strokes of luck (good or bad) and sheer chance. Which always leaves me with a million threads of thought floating around in my head.

\"\" My US Senate Predictions
Yeah, I was a little off, although the final total will be damn close. Two of my leaners failed to…well lean. Nevada and Colorado. Colorado was darn close and Nevada was….well less close. Whether that was due to casino owners threatening their workers to get them to vote for Reid, it\’s hard to say but end result is the same. Either way, the end result is the same, Democrats hold the Senate but Republicans greatly increase their minority….which is basically what I\’ve been saying all along. And it\’s also what I\’ve said strategically we should hope for, which brings us to….

\"\" The Setup for 2012
The good part is that the bleeding will probably stop…or at least it better (more on that later). Any budgetary legislation has to originate in the House and Republicans now hold a very large majority in the House. And with a large minority in the Senate, cloture because a real obstacle for Democrats. Democrats either have to take a hard right turn to the center or else Congress comes to a standstill for 2 years. Of course that wouldn\’t necessarily be bad.

But it also means not much is likely to improve. We\’ll essentially be in the same place. Obama has made it clear he has no intention of deviating from the course that was overwhelmingly rejected by voters on Tuesday. And it\’s not hyperbole to say \”overwhelmingly\”. We just saw a reversal in electoral results that hasn\’t been in 70 years. Obama likes to claim everything he does is \”historic\”…well this truly was!

So while Republicans may stop the bleeding with their mere presence, as long as Obama plays hardball nothing much happens. Which means we\’re still in the same place in 2012. It also means Obama\’s popularity is not likely to crawl out of the basement. And with Democrats still controlling the Senate and the White House, the overall Democrat brand isn\’t likely to recover much either.

And thanks to their big electoral success in 2006, Democrats hold a large majority of the Senate seats up for grabs in 2012. All told there are 21 Democrats, 10 Republicans and 2 Independents up for election in the Senate. Of those 10 Republicans, only Scott Brown of Massachusetts can be said to be truly vulnerable. Meanwhile Democrats have at least half a dozen seats that are in red or purple states. Those seats alone would give Republicans a majority. Another Republican wave like we just had? You got a cloture-proof majority.

Sounds great right?? Well….

\"\" Don\’t Get Cocky GOP
This probably needs to be said again….Don\’t Get Cocky GOP.

And again….Don\’t Get Cocky GOP.

Actually let\’s make that a habit, because Republicans have been here before, and they\’ve screwed it up before. This election was not a vote FOR Republicans. Rather it was people voting AGAINST the Democrats, specifically their overspending and their focus on every issue other than what\’s most important to people right now….the economy.

Don\’t Get Cocky GOP.

Republicans campaigned against the excesses of the Obama and Democrat agenda and the public ate it up. So by all means follow through on that. Defund ObamaCare. Stop the government take over of private industry. Roll back spending. Reduce Taxes. Recover whatever stimulus funds can be found. By all means beat back the progressive horde.

Don\’t Get Cocky GOP.

But that\’s not enough. The public is also frustrated that when Democrats said they\’d help with the economy they focused on health care, Cash for Clunkers, Cap&Trade, immigration, gays in the military…..everything BUT jobs and the economy. So Republicans also need to find a way to address the economy and do it in a way that Obama and the Democrats are forced to go along with it out of fear of further voter backlash. Either that or Republicans need to do a damn good job of showing an effort because the public is tired of promises and talk.

Don\’t Get Cocky GOP.

Although there are signs that the GOP understand this…and oddly enough it was Michael Steele that framed it best by pointing out Republicans are \”on probation\”. Sure they overwhelmingly put you in power, but your approval ratings are just as low as the Democrats. The public is willing to tolerate your majority for an election cycle. If you screw up a again, you\’re even further in the doghouse.

Don\’t Get Cocky GOP.

Speaking of don\’t get cocky…..

\"\" Tea Party – Practice Had Better Make Perfect
>First of all calm down, this will only hurt for a minute and it\’s for your own good, besides your treat is next.

Tea Party, you need to learn a few lessons from this election. Let\’s call them Exhibits B.itch and C.hristine O\’Donnell. You need to do some better quality control on your candidates (like I said, your praise is coming later). Deleware is a perfect example. It\’s a hard left state, running a hard right candidate is just not going to fly. Trust me, I dislike RINOs just as much as anyone, and sometimes yeah, it\’s worth drawing a line in the sand and beyond this you will not cross.

But dammit, if you\’re going to pick a hill to die upon, may I suggest aiming more for Mt. Everest, or even Mt. Rainer instead of Joe\’s Ant Farm. Was Castle a squish, absolutely, nobody is denying that and nobody wasn\’t annoyed by it. But on the big issues, the ones that REALLY mattered he would have voted with Republicans. In a hard-left state, that\’s all you can ask for.

And in Nevada, make sure your candidates can better articulate their views and positions. Angle was very Obama-like in that while she did good on script, put her in front of a crowd or dealing with non-screened questions and it wasn\’t always pretty. Nevada was looking for someone to replace Reid, and you gave them nothing they could hang their hat on.

Electability matters. And no not at the expense of everything else, there are certain hills worth dying upon. Cap&Trade? Immigration? Taxes?? Spending?? Abortion?? Sure for some people those are hills they are willing to die for. Others not so much. But end result is you need to work on screening your candidates better.

Which isn\’t to say it was all bad…

\"\" Tea Party – Now Who\’s Laughing?
See I told you it would only hurt for a minute.

All that said, the Tea Party actually did a fairly good job overall picking candidates, a few rotten apples aside. Rand Paul in Kentucky, Marco Rubio in Florida, Mike Lee in Utah, Ron Johnson in Wisconsin and Scott Brown in Massachusetts. All solid candidates. I was a little concerned about Rand Paul, but while his views may have been more hard-right than his state, he also had the presence and maturity as a candidate to keep them largely in check.

What\’s more you\’ve proven that you\’re not the disorganized rabble of random angry racist hicks the Democrats tried to frame you as. You\’ve a genuine national movement, with a rationale agenda, and with the ability to organize, focus and accomplish a goal, all without a leadership structure of any sort. In fact, that last part is your best feature, rather than a big. It innoculates you against the Alinsky tactics of the left, \”pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it\”. Trying to do that to a diverse group without structure and without a leader, is like trying to kill a swarm of gnats with a rifle.

Now your next goal is to prove you can continue to pursue your agenda without being co-opted by the Republican Party. The Republicans are just as prone to excess and Spineless Syndrome as the Democrats so don\’t get caught up in the system. You\’ve accomplished a real political force here. Don\’t waste it.

Speaking of the system…

\"\" Redistricting
It\’s about to change….drastically. Not only did Republicans make huge progress in the US House and Senate, they also captured 680 seats in state legislatures. Which is darn near un-precedented. That\’s great right!? But why is it important? Well, as you know the 2010 Census is completed which means 2012 brings….redistricting. All those political districts have to be redrawn to account for population changes. And depending on how those lines are drawn determines how easy it is for a Republican or Democrat to win and hold a particular seat. So if you control the process of drawing those lines, you can make it very difficult for the opposition for the next ten years. It\’s called gerrymandering.

So again why is that important?? Well it\’s the state legislatures that do that. And Republicans took over 18 state legislative chambers on Tuesday and gained six governor seats. In fact, for 17 states Republicans control both chambers of the state legislature and the Governor\’s seat, which puts them in complete control of drawing the lines.

And those 17 states represent 196 of the House\’s 435 districts. In comparison, Democrats control all three legs of the government in up to 10 states, which control at most 88 seats, but possibly as few as 26.

Oh it gets better. Six states have nonpartisan redistricting commissions. If you take those 88 seats out, for 196 out of 347 districts, Republican\’s completely control the drawing of the lines.

In the other states, like Minnesota, a mixed legislature means the judicial system is likely to draw the lines.

Speaking of Minnesota…

\"\" DFL\’s Bed Not So Comfy
For the first time since the Minnesota Senate allowed partisan designations, Republicans control the Senate. And the Minnesota House is now also Republican controlled. In both cases, with seats to spare.

The Governor\’s seats is still up for grabs. If it\’s Emmer than Republicans control all three legs and they get run of the board. But even if it\’s Dayton, with Republicans in charge of both Houses, his agenda is a dead stick. But it gets worse for DFL and they have only themselves to blame.

Last session we had the opposite situation, a DFL legislature with a GOP Governor. When the DFL couldn\’t come up with a budget they simply passed an unreasonable one and adjourned and made it Pawlenty\’s problem. Pawlenty in turn used unallotment. Well the DFL collectively wet themselves and through the courts made sure that couldn\’t be done ever again. So now facing a $6 billion deficit, what are Dayton\’s options?? Either he agrees to the Republican\’s version of a budget, thereby pissing off his base and making the right happy. Or he shuts down the government and calls the legislature into a special session, thereby pissing off his base and mildly annoying the right. The Legislature in turn, if they really want to play hardball can just keep passing the same budget until Dayton relents. After all, what is Dayton\’s recourse??? Bitch to the media that the legislature won\’t raise taxes??? Yeah, that\’ll get sympathy from the public.

And so we begin this political drama all over again. I got my chair, I got my popcorn, start the show!


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T-1 Senate Update

November 1st, 2010 by Kevin

Ok we have a day left before the election.  Republicans are all but certain to take the House, and predictions are by increasingly large numbers.  Are both houses of Congress likely to flip to Republicans, or does the House become Great Firewall of Washington DC?  We\’ll find out on Election Day, but until then we get to play the guessing game.

Does your guesstimate match mine?? Let\’s find out….

First the safe states….no drama here, no reason to do more than list them.   The safe Republican states include Alabama (R), Arizona (R), Arkansas (D), Georgia (R), Idaho (R), Indiana (D), Iowa (R), Kansas (R), Louisiana (R), North Carolina (R), North Dakota (D), Ohio (R), Oklahoma (R), South Carolina (R), South Dakota (R) and Utah (R).  Remember, note the three Republican pickups right off the bat.  Democrat\’s safe list is Connecticut (D), Delaware (D), Hawaii (D), Maryland (D), New York (D – Gillibrand), New York (D – Schumer), Oregon (D) and Vermont (D).  Notice the conspicuous lack of Rs in that list.

California (D) – Fiorina (D) has closed even further on Boxer (D) making this effectively a dead-heat. I have my doubts that it\’s going to be enough.  Although, if this seat flips it won\’t be surprise.  By the time we start getting results here, it will be clear the Republican wave has reached tsunami-like proportions, and in fact early evidence of that may very well influence voters in this race.  I\’m still sticking with my current classification, but only by the slimmest of margins.  Leaning Democrat retention.

Washington (D) – Another close race on the West Coast but this won\’t be impacted by early reports of a Republican tsunami, as effectively voting is already over in Washington.  Most locations vote by mail so most have already cast their ballots.  Did Rossi\’s (R) momentum come in time?? Or will Murray (D) have braved the margins.  It\’ll be close regardless but I see Murray sticking this one out.  Leaning Democrat retention.

West Virginia (D) – Well shit….Raese (R) has held a very small lead over Manchin (D) for awhile now.  Now out of the blue comes….well the blue candidate.  Surging at the last minute to a lead is Manchin, who may very well be moving out of the Governors mansion and into an apartment in DC.  Leaning Democrat retention.

Illinois (D) –  Don\’t make too much of Obama\’s rally.  While this race is so close, it hasn\’t been outside the margin of error in 8 months, it\’s also been notable for having an extremely low number of undecided voters.  Illinois voters have long since decided who they want, they just haven\’t been overly keen on sharing it with the rest of us.  While it\’s obvious that voters don\’t like either candidate, Kirk has held a lead, albeit statistically insignificant, for awhile now.  I suspect there is something to that and Obama\’s former seat will be one of the cornerstones of that Republican wave.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Nevada (D) – It\’s hard to think it\’s just coincidence that over the span of the last seven days, three different polling agencies, have generated that EXACT same results….Angle 49, Reid 45.  I think that pretty much tells the story there and I see no reason to argue with Nevada voters.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Colorado (D) – Whew!  Well that was close.  Buck (R) seems to have weathered his little screw-up and now hold a slight lead over Bennett (D) again.  This still comes down to turnout but in this climate that also favors Buck.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Pennsylvania (D) – This has tightened up lately but Toomey (R) appears to have stabilized his lead over Sestak (D).  Turnout will be key but I think Toomey has this in the bag.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Alaska (R) – This state has causes a lot of Republicans to collectively wet themselves these part couple days.  Murkowski (I) is suddenly polling neck and neck with Miller (R).  And McAdams (D) is now gaining support.  However, I\’m sticking to my guns here.  Murkowski is running a write-in campaign so there\’s that, plus she doesn\’t exactly have an easy name to spell. I still think Miller has got this one.  Leaning Republican retention.

Wisconsin (D) – With even the White House giving up on this seat, this is all but a safe Republican seat now.  Feingold (D) is out, Johnson (R) is in.  Sounds good to me!  Likely Republican takeover.

Kentucky (R) – Game. Set. Match.  Paul (R) has got this.  Likely Republican retention.

Missouri (R) – Blunt (R) over Carnahan (D).  Done deal.  Likely Republican retention.

New Hampshire (R) – Not even close.  Ayotte (R) over Hodes (D).  Likely Republican retention.

Florida (R) – Rubio (R) has it.  Even if every Meeks (D) voter jumped to Crist (I), Crist would still lose.  And with the shenanigans Crist has played, he deserves to lose.  I can\’t believe there is a single voter in Florida even considering voting for Crist??? If Crist doesn\’t come in dead last I call a pox on all of Florida and offer it up for sale to Cuba.  Likely Republican retention.

Okay so what’s the final score??

\"\"

My past predictions were 49, 48, 48, 47, 47, 48, 49 and 50 and now I\’m predicting 49.  On the plus side, I\’m no longer uncomfortable about calling Illinois and Colorado for Republicans.  On the other hand, West Virginia took a hard left turn ended up in Olbermann, Obamaland.  So the road to majority got a little tougher.  Normally I\’d say West Virginia needs to be recalled from it\’s AWOL status and then either Washington or California need to be flipped.  However, oddly enough, the West Virginia part of that seems to be the toughest part.  So the most realistic route is probably flipping both California and Washington.

With both Washington and California on the West Coast, the potential Republican tsunami has acquired stealth ability.  You\’re not going to see it until it\’s on top of you dropping the R-Bomb all over the place.  Although if West Virgina surprises and goes Republican, the West Coast may as well start heading to higher ground, as that Republican tsunami may very well have a Slurpee-sipping Godzilla surfing on it.  I\’m going to stop there as I don\’t dare stretch this metaphor any further.

And I continue in my belief that strategically we don\’t want Republicans to get to 51.  We\’re not going to accomplish anything with 51 we can\’t accomplish with 49.  In both cases, the Senate is effectively closed for 2 years.  And with Republicans controlling the House, Republicans will control any budget that gets sent to the Senate.  A Democrat majority can\’t assert itself for fear of it killing everything in conference.    Ideally Republican unfund most of the Obama agenda, toss a few scandal grenades at the White House and then call it a day and wait for 2012.

For those of you thinking that\’s an awfully shitty way to want your government to work, I\’d like to point out a couple things.  A stalled Congress is a good Congress.  And historically the economy has always performed it\’s best with a split Congress.  You want economic recovery?  Then you want Republicans throwing monkey-wrenches in every Congressional gear.  Embrace the stalemate!


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T-7 Senate Update

October 27th, 2010 by Kevin

Ok we have a week left to go.  Things are getting very interesting and at the same time very frustrating.  A lead of 5 or 6 points can be eliminated overnite by a sensational news report of something stupid a candidate did.  But in many cases the number of undecided voters is actually very low and these candidates are professionals.  Actually what\’s most frustrating about this stage is that a lot of polling agencies (such as PPP) with well-documented biases (again PPP) play all sorts of silly demographic games to try to engineer the results they want to push their agenda, more on that below, but the point being it makes it hard to get a coherent picture of what\’s going on on the ground without actually being there??  So who\’s up for donating a few grand so I can go on a tour of the country….especially places like Florida and Hawaii??

No? Okay well instead let\’s take a look at where we stand with the US Senate elections.  Notice I\’ve started moving more than a couple states into the safe categories….just not enough time for any fairy tale endings in some of these races.  And I\’m implementing a self-imposed \”no-tossup\” rule….it\’s time to stop getting wishy-washy and \”man up\” as the parlance of our times goes.  So let\’s get started….

First the safe states….no drama here, no reason to do more than list them.   The safe Republican states include Alabama (R), Arizona (R), Arkansas (D), Georgia (R), Idaho (R), Indiana (D), Iowa (R), Kansas (R), Louisiana (R), North Carolina (R), North Dakota (D), Ohio (R), Oklahoma (R), South Carolina (R), South Dakota (R) and Utah (R).  Remember, note the three Republican pickups right off the bat.  Democrat\’s safe list is Connecticut (D), Delaware (D), Hawaii (D), Maryland (D), New York (D – Gillibrand), New York (D – Schumer), Oregon (D) and Vermont (D).  Notice the conspicuous lack of Rs in that list.

California (D) – Ok polls show Boxer (D) pulling away from Fiorina (R) but the pollsters showing most of that are pollsters I\’ve learned to not trust unless their findings are supported by several more reputable agencies.  So I\’m going to discount most of that.  Besides, would Democrats like Dianne Feinstein be hitting the campaign trail for Boxer if she were really running away with it?? No.  Actually the biggest factor here is entirely non-political. Fiorina has been hospitalized due to an infection as a result of post-breast-cancer surgery, although sounds like the cancer is still in remission (Get Well!).  Okay what\’s the political impact?? Sure Fiorina is losing valuable time in the most critical phase but this has been a high profile race…does anyone really need to see Fiorina to know what she\’s about anymore??? I\’m thinking this may actually be a net-benefit as it eliminates the chance of a potential last minute gaffe and also probably gains her a few sympathy points.  But I don\’t think it\’ll be enough.  Leaning Democrat retention.

Washington (D) – Recent polls show Rossi (R) closing on Murray (D) again….and that\’s critical because there is another factor at work here that doesn\’t exist in most other states.  Only in very few places to Washintonians actually go to a polling booth.  Most send in their ballots by mail, so the fact that polls show Rossi closing just as most voters will be mailing in their ballots means something.  And digging into the polls shows they may very likely be overstating Democrat support.   I\’d love to move this back to toss-up, but I can\’t.  Only my eeyorish nature is keeping me from going with Rossi here.  I am fully prepared, and hoping, to be proven wrong here, but without a Herb Brooks-style motivational speech I\’m struggling to believe in miracles.  Hope to take this prediction to \”my fucking grave\”.  Leaning Democrat retention.

Illinois (D) – Yeah, I\’m rethinking that \”no toss-ups\” rule.  This races hasn\’t been outside the margin of error in 8 months and that\’s not changing.  Voters don\’t appear to like either candidate and that makes the race volatile.  On the other hand, we\’re continuing to see a slight lead by Kirk(R) and some of the demographics are pretty encouraging for Republicans.  Recent polls show progress by Kirk, which I\’d feel better about if there was a reason I can divine for it….I can\’t.  I think I have to give Republicans this one…and it\’s a sweet seat to win.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Nevada (D) – Remember when I said I was struggling to believe in miracles?  Well I got over that and if you\’ll permit…..Dude! I think this is happening!  Ok let\’s backtrack, this race is still tight and Reid (D) is no fool…well he is, but not at winning elections.  Reid\’s  support hasn\’t changed much, it\’s Angle\’s (R) that\’s gone up and done.  Now she appears to have passed the \”Crazy\” test, mostly thanks to Reid\’s boneheaded move to debate her.  Since then the trendline has been pretty solidly pro-Angle and there aren\’t many undecideds.  Nevadans have disliked Reid for awhile and I think they\’ve finally decided it\’s time to take him behind the woodshed.  Unless a third-party candidate or the None-of-the-Above option does really well, and there is nothing to even hint at that, I think we\’ll be looking forward to Senator Angle taking Reid\’s seat. Leaning Republican takeover.

West Virginia (D) – Once again the PPP polling agency it playing games with the numbers to try to force a outcome they like.  Despite that, I think this race hasn\’t moved much and Raese (R) owns a slim lead over Manchin (D).  Leaning Republican takeover.

Colorado (D) – Remember what I said last week about the impact of mistakes being amplified in these last few weeks?  Well I give you exhibit A, Colorado.  Buck (R) had a small but steady lead over Bennett (D).  Now come reports that Buck refused to prosecute a rape case and a gaffe made during a debate.  There isn\’t time to spin either one, the reset switch has been tripped and now it\’s all even again.  Congrats Buck, you messed up and now it comes down to Get Out The Vote….which probably favors Buck.  But I feel anything but comfortable calling this for Buck.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Wisconsin (D) – Feingold\’s (D) support hasn\’t changed in almost a year, what has changed is Johnson\’s (R) support.  Around mid-summer Johnson pulled ahead and hasn\’t looked back since.  There is little reason to believe this will be anything other than a fairly comfortable win by the new Senator Johnson. Likely Republican takeover.

Pennsylvania (D) – Last time polls had tightened significantly, but I could see absolutely no reason for it so I assumed it was just a lapse of sanity by the pollsters.  Just as I suspected, it appears pollsters like PPP we just messing around with their spreads to generate the results they wanted.  Now other agencies are confirming my suspicions, this race hasn\’t budged.  Likely Republican takeover.

Alaska (R) –It’s pretty tight between Miller (R) and Murkowski (I).  But again, Murkowski is running a write-in campaign.  Just don’t see it happening.  Likely Republican retention.

Kentucky (R) – Conway (D) was closing on Paul (R) and then he decided to release his \”Aqua Buddha\” ad about some goofy stuff Rand Paul did in college.  Now there is a time and a place to be a dumbass, and it\’s called college, and Kentuckians appear to agree, as suddenly Paul has a comfortable lead.  It\’s not so much that Conway has lost support but Paul suddenly appears to have gained a bunch….who knew there were so many worshippers of Aqua Buddha??  All kidding aside, Conway overreached with that ad and this is now Paul\’s race.  Likely Republican retention.

Missouri (R) – Blunt (R) is polling above 50% and Carnahan (D) isn\’t gaining.  Likely Republican retention.

New Hampshire (R) – Not much has changed but not quite ready to call this safe. Likely Republican retention.

Florida (R) – Ok this is actually a safe seat now, but the only reason I don\’t list it above is so I can share this with you.  Crist has absolutely lost it.  What else to explain why you interrupt your opponent during a major debate so you can go off on a non sequitur rant, which not only make you look thin-skinned but also gives your opponent the chance to make you look like an inconsiderate boob??  This isn\’t a rookie politician, he\’s the current Governor of Florida.  And what\’s with the \”Welcome to the NFL\” line at the end?  What is that supposed to mean?? I mean besides the obvious meaning; \”I\’m fucking insane, look at me! Whhheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee….oops I wet myself\”.  Safe Republican retention.

Okay so what’s the final score??

\"\"

My past predictions were 49, 48, 48, 47, 47, 48 and 49 and now I\’m predicting 50.  Heartbreak! That puts us one vote short of retaking the Senate, thanks to Gaffemaster Biden. And there are a couple seats in there I\’m not overly comfortable predicting for Republicans.  In fact, both Illinois and Colorado scare me quite a bit.  Save us Aqua Buddha!!! Still if there is a path to 51 for Republicans, it\’s the same as the one I described last week, and that\’s either Washington and California and in both of those, unlike last week, things are looking much better.  Something as simple as bad weather could deliver either one to Republicans and then eureka, Senate Majority Leader DeMint!  Be still my heart!

Still I am not expecting that to happen, and long term it\’s probably best if it does not.  Like I mentioned last week, it\’s not really necessary.  Republicans are all but certain to retake the House.  The Club for Growth does the groundwork and breaks all those races down.  Remember there the magic number is 39….and you get that almost before you even start looking at Toss-Ups and there are a lot of them.  Now the House controls the budget, so they can shut down health care reform and they can prevent further spending orgies by Democrats.

But if they take the majority in the Senate, one thing the Democrats learned is if you have control of both houses of Congress, people expect you to actually do stuff.  But with a President Obama, Republicans wouldn\’t be able to accomplish anything and would probably take the brunt of voter reaction in 2012 when we\’ll probably still be dealing with a stagnant economy.  Where if Democrats retain control of the Senate, they control two of the three branches and are the establishment in voter eyes.  But with a large minority in the Senate and controlling the House, everything stops…. DC becomes the city where nothing ever happens.  That\’s a good thing, plus is sets up Republicans to retake the White House and the Senate in 2012.

So those of you anxiously wondering if the Republicans can retake the Senate, the better question you should be asking is, \”Do we really want them to?\”

NOTE : I\’ll update with any major events between now and November 2nd, and perhaps I\’ll put together final predictions the night before.  We\’ll see.


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T-21 Senate Update

October 12th, 2010 by Kevin

In these last weeks before an election, things can change pretty fast and the impact is magnified.  There isn\’t time to recover from a gaffe and there isn\’t time to spin bad news how you want it to be interpreted.  A shift of just 1 or 2 points could be easily, and rightly, dismissed earlier in the year…now it\’s all it takes for a race to flip.  So we\’ll be doing a weekly look at the Senate as we countdown to the great 2010 Hopenchange Referendum.

Where do we currently stand? Well….

First the safe states….no drama here, no reason to do more than list them.   The safe Republican states include Alabama (R), Arizona (R), Arkansas (D), Georgia (R), Idaho (R), Indiana (D), Iowa (R), Kansas (R), Louisiana (R), North Carolina (R), North Dakota (D), Oklahoma (R), South Carolina (R), South Dakota (R) and Utah (R).  Remember, note the three Republican pickups right off the bat.  Democrat\’s safe list is Hawaii (D), Maryland (D), New York (D – Schumer), Oregon (D) and Vermont (D).  Notice the conspicuous lack of Rs in that list.

Delaware (D) – Only reason this isn\’t listed with the safe seats above is because of the drama around it.  But let\’s be realistic, it\’s safe.  Coons by a large margin.  I\’d put money on it.  Safe Democrat retention.

New York (D – Gillibrand) – Some minor movement here but all in the Democrat\’s favor.  There a very slim opening for Joe DioGuardi (R) to make something happen…that window has effectively closed.  Likely Democrat retention.

California (D) – Not much new here.  Boxer is still in control here….for now.  Good thing here is that this race has become a referendum on Boxer rather than a Fiorina vs Boxer contest.  That\’s good for Fiorina, because the general consensus appears to be that Boxer is an incompetent arrogant do-nothing.  But so far that\’s not translating into enough people flipping.  California may very well be going with the devil they know than the one they don\’t.  This might hinge on dynamics from the Governor\’s race.  Leaning Democrat retention.

Connecticut (D) – All that progress by McMahon (R) has hit a brick wall.  She had closed the gap and now needed to steal support from Blumenthal (D).  Then they met in debate, and apparently Connecticut voters disagree with my evaluation of her performance because support has shifted to Blumenthal.  On the plus side, McMahon has already scored a big-picture victory, as the DSCC has announced it\’s dumping $500K of ad time into this race.  The fact that the DSCC is spending even a shiny nickel to firewall this race is a victory for Republicans. Leaning Democrat retention.

Nevada (D) – I was pretty pessimistic about this before, mostly because of Nevada\’s \”None of the Above\” option on the ballot.  I feared undecideds were going to remain undecided, which helps out Reid (D).  But now undecideds appear to be very tentatively going for Angle (R).  Not much, but then again there isn\’t much room between these two.   Now Angle is ever so slightly ahead, as all the momentum since September has been Angle\’s way.  This is all horrible news for Reid, he\’s very unpopular in Nevada (even his son has abandoned him) so he needs to go into Election Day with at least a slight lead.  Otherwise undedecided voters may go with the crowd and vote Angle instead of None of the Above.  My gut feeling was wrong last time, I\’m moving this back where it should have been and if nothing changes I\’ll move it even more.  Toss-Up.

Washington (D) – Insert nervously suspenseful theme music here.  This race might have turned the corner.  They had a primary race here, which was basically a dry run for the election.  It didn\’t turn out well for Rossi (R), and, until recently, it hasn\’t moved much from that ever since.  Murray (D) had a huge cash advantage, but Rossi has been gaining slightly.  Murray sought to counter that with an ad blitz and she certainly did.  Problem is they\’ve hit Dino Rossi with everything they can think of.  It\’s evident they\’ve used up the entire toolbox, as their latest ads are repeating old material and it hasn\’t stopped Rossi\’s advance.  In fact, now Rossi is leading ever so slightly in the polls.  Too early to tell how real that lead is and there are two TV debates left.  If Rossi doesn\’t screw up there, this will come down to voter turn out…which is bad for Murray.  This gets upgraded in status.  If those TV debates go well this will change status again. Toss-Up.

Illinois (D) – This race still hasn\’t been outside the margin of error in 7 months and it hasn\’t really changed.  Undecideds are starting to break but they are doing so roughly evenly so the net gain is zero.  That works out well for Kirk who appears to be holding onto an ever so slight lead.  However, Kirk needs to gain some more ground here because if the remaining undecideds make this a referendum on the national direction and/or Obama then Giannoulias (D) is going to win.  Toss-Up.

West Virginia (D) – Gov. Manchin (D) is popular in the state but not so popular is the idea of giving Democrats a seat to defend ObamaCare and the rest of the Democrat\’s agenda.  Raese (R) had a slim lead and that lead has been increasing.  It appears as if Machin\’s severe money advantage isn\’t going to help him with the way the dynamics are working out.  Manchin is trying to convince West Virginian\’s that he\’s opposed to ObamaCare, but he has a track record stating otherwise.  Plus even if that\’s the case, he\’s already got a job, that of Governor, where he can effectively fight ObamaCare.  It\’s hard for him to make a case to move him to Washington.  I\’m shifting this one.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Wisconsin (D) – Good news for Feingold (D) is he has stopped the bleeding.  Bad news is Johnson (R) is holding a comfortable lead over him.  There are a couple big debates coming up but Feingold\’s support hasn\’t moved significantly up or down in almost a year and it\’s below 50%.  For a well-known incumbent not only is that bad news but it\’s also hard to change.  Short of a major screw-up by Johnson in those debates this is looking pretty good for Republicans.  I\’m tempted to move this even further right but let\’s get a debate or two behind us first.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Colorado (D) – This race has turned into a financial battleground, with both parties investing obscene amounts of money in this race.  But for the most part this race has stabilised with Buck (R) holding a modest lead.  There is a recent poll showing Bennett (D) with a slight lead.  Now that could be the leading edge of a shift in public opinion, however, the polling agency that reported that is well known to have a liberal bias, so I suspect it\’s due more to that than anything concrete.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Pennsylvania (D) – Undecided voters had started breaking to slightly larger degree towards Sestak (D) but not enough to make up the support gap.  As a result, Toomey (R) holds his steady lead and the race has stabilised.  However, what\’s more telling is the financial moves lately.  The DSCC has withdrawn their ad purchases for this race and Republican groups continue to pour in money.  This is looking pretty safe now.  Likely Republican takeover.

Alaska (R) – McAdams (D) is quickly becoming a non-factor in this race.  While it\’s still tight between Miller (R) and Senator Murkowski (I).  But considering that Murkowski is a write-in candidate, unless she opens a serious lead between now and Election Day, I see this being won by Miller. Likely Republican retention.

Kentucky (R) –  Yeah, nothing new here.  Likely Republican retention.

Missouri (R) –  Democrats are pulling their ad purchases here.  Likely Republican retention.

New Hampshire (R) – Yeah, nothing new here.  Likely Republican retention.

Florida (R) – Some drama here as Meek (D) has become a non-factor.  So there are some rumours that Meek may drop out and clear the way for Democrats to go the most liberal candidate that has a chance Crist (I).  Problem with that theory is it hasn\’t happened yet and by now Rubio (R) has such a commanding lead it may not matter.   In fact it may have the opposite effect as the Republicans still supporting Crist may peel away from the defacto Democrat and support Rubio.  Either way, it\’s worth keeping an eye on for any shenanigans but it\’s pretty safe at this point.  Likely Republican retention.

Ohio (R) – Yeah, nothing new here.  Likely Republican retention.

Okay so what’s the final score??

\"\"

Ok at this point I see at least seven seats changing control but two more have moved into the Toss-Up category and in both of them, if trends continue, they\’ll shift to leaning Republican takeover.  So theoretically we soon have nine seats changing hands, which would bring Republicans to 50 seats…with Illinois becoming the tie-breaker.  Wow.

At this point I\’m projected 48 seats for Republicans, with my past predictions being 49, 48, 48, 47 and 47.  But I am seeing the possibility for at least 50 too.

Want to get real excited? Remember how last time I was casting doubt on the whole Republicans retaking the Senate??  And as part of that I projected the most likely path for that to happen?  Well every race I mentioned that had to shift is….well shifting.  That hypothetical path is taking place!  Dude, for the first time I\’m getting a little excited here, this could be happening….that wave may very well crest at above flood stage.

Now we\’re still three weeks out.  All sorts of chances for an October surprise.  Lots of debates still to happen, which open the possibility for gaffes by either candidate.  But remember, I\’ve been denying Republicans had a chance for months.  But now even by my eeyorish viewpoint, I see a very real path to majority here for Republicans.  Not only a path, but a path the country appears to be traveling down.

Plus it\’s hard to resist the temptation that control of the Senate hinges on control of Obama\’s old Senate seat.  Dude, they just don\’t write political drama better!


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Is The Senate Actually Within Reach?

February 19th, 2010 by Kevin

It\’s become fashionable lately to wonder if the Republicans will retake the Senate this fall.  I\’ll admit it\’s not without some cause, after all national Democrats seem to be doing everything they can to stack the deck against themselves.  Republicans keep making gains and they\’ve been less incompetent that usual lately.  That\’s encouraging.  And Scott Brown\’s victory in Massachusetts was a shot across the bow to every Democrat up for election, every seat is in play now.

However, not all seats are created equal.  Just because Brown and his pickup truck won in Massachusetts, doesn\’t mean that will translate across the country.  For sure Republicans are likely to make some VERY significant gains in the Senate, but it\’s hard to imagine a scenario that involves the takeover of the Senate.  I see the Republicans getting to 49, maybe 50 seats, but after that the spigot runs dry.  We\’ll go through them state-by-state.  See if you can figure out where the Republicans are going to get that magical 51st seat.


Indiana – The latest of Democratic problems, Senator Evan Bayh just announced that he is retiring, supposedly because Congress is too partisan. Republicans have a top tier candidate with former Senator Dan Coats (R) running for Bayh\’s seat. Democrats were set to use the caucus system to appoint a candidate from the Democrat side. Then came Tamyra d\’Ippolito, who looked set to cement herself as the Democrat candidate by gathering enough signatures.  Turns out she didn\’t do it, so if she still wants the seat she has to go through the caucus process.

This is a fairly moderate state and Bayh was a good fit for it, so a caucus approach may not be the most succesful for the Democrats, as it\’s more likely to generate an far left candidate.  And with the anti-Democrat wave sweeping the country that could spell disaster for the Democratic party.  I\’d mark this one as a likely Republican takeover, first set of polls will tell us a lot or how the voters of Indiana are interpreting all this.

Nevada – This, along with Illinois and Delaware, represent the Senatorial Holy Trinity. Much like it was great to knock off Senator Daschle of South Dakota, defeating Majority Leader Harry Reid would be a big trophy for Republicans. And the way things have gone, this could be a relatively easy task. Harry Reid has been underwater on the polls for awhile now and the radical liberal agenda he has lead the Senate through isn\’t helping.

There are a number of Republicans vying for this seat and so far no clear front runner has emerged but they all poll ahead of Reid.  While Reid is an impressive fundraiser, I doubt it\’s going to help him out here.  Short of some major event, this is a Republican takeover.

Illinois – The Father portion of the Senatorial Holy Trinity, Obama\’s old seat is ripe for the picking.  Currently purchased warmed by Roland Burris.  State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, is the Democrat\’s candidate, but he\’s got problems.  Like virtually every other Democrat in Illinois he\’s tainted by corruption and ties to all sorts of unsavory characters, like Rezko and Blagojevich.

Meanwhile the GOP has a pretty solid candidate in Mark Kirk.  Nobody is under any illusions that Kirk is a solid conservative, he\’s a moderate on social issues, but conservative on defense and economic issues, and in this political climate the economy is all people care about right now.  Kirk is polling ahead right now and really the stars seem to be aligning for this one right now.  But expect Obama and the White House to become the 600-pound something in the room, whether that something is a bull in a china shop or a top-notch political machine remains to be determined, but this is looking like a likely Republican takeover.

Delaware – The Son of the Holy Trinity, is Vice Moron Biden\’s old seat, currently being held by Ted Kaufman.  The Democrats basically don\’t have anyone willing to stick out their neck here.  Even Biden\’s son, Beau, isn\’t putting his ass on the line for what sure to be a trouncing at the hands of Mike Castle, a moderate, whose views align pretty solidly with the state.

Not much to discuss here, solid Republican takeover, I\’ll put money on it.

North Dakota – Dorgan is out, Republican Governor John Hoeven is in, Republican takeover….any question?

Arkansas – Senator Blanche Lincoln is just about the only Democrat in the state that hasn\’t already jumped ship and retired.  Her polls numbers virtually spell death.  The only good thing you can say for Lincoln here, is that so far she doesn\’t have a top Republican opponent…yet.  Although, basically any Republican with a heartbeat is leading her by double digits in the polls.  Short of Republicans nominating a bran muffin, just to make things interesting, Lincoln is finished.  Republican takeover.

Pennsylvania – Irony, thy name is Senator Arlen Specter.  He switched parties to avoid a primary challenge.  And now he\’s got one as a Democrat and it\’s far from clear that Sestak won\’t beat him silly.  Not that it much matters because Pat Toomey is polling well against both Specter and Sestak anyway.  Normally I\’d leave it at that, and call this a solid Republican takeover, but Toomey is probably quite a bit more conservative than this state, so there\’s the possibility he won\’t gain traction.  But so far he seems to be doing well, so this gets a likely Republican takeover rating.

Colorado – Senator Michael Bennet is polling pretty awful.  It helps that he\’s never held elective office until he was appointed to this seat to replace Salazar.  He\’s got a primary challenge it\’s not clear he\’ll win.  But like Pennsylvania, it doesn\’t much matter, because Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton is the Republican candidate and polls well against both Bennet and any Democrat challengers.  Short of some major bumble by Norton, this is a Republican takeover.


Ok so, so far things like pretty cheery for the Republican Party right?  Problem is that even if Republicans achieved the rather spectacular feat of taking all these seats, it still only brings them to 49.  And that\’s assuming Republicans don\’t lose their own seats, which is far from certain (more on that later).  Republicans still need two more seats (to break the Biden tie-breaker) to take the Senate.  And those just don\’t look likely.

California – Senator Boxer is batshit crazy to be sure, but that\’s not even tabloid worthy in California.  Yeah, she\’s facing her biggest contest since someone decided to slice bread.  Yeah, she\’s under 50% in the polls.  Although she\’s still polling above all three of her potential Republican opponents, but just barely and she only gets about 48%.  Yes I realize we are now in the age of Scott Brown taking Massa-fucking-chusetts, but come on people….it\’s California.  They invented the concept of damn dirty hippies.  They still raise them on communal farms out there.

Besides, the peripherals don\’t bode well from Republicans.  Turnout will be high as Californians seek to replace Arnold.  Plus Obama is still popular out there, so the anti-Democrat fever isn\’t quite as pronounced.  There is still the possibility that California\’s budget troubles creates an anti-Democrat wave, but that\’s looking unlikely so far.  I stick to my original opinion on California, that our best bet is that a massive earthquake swallows up the entire state and rids us of them forever….because that\’s the only way I don\’t see this as a Democratic retention.

New York – Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is polling something awful, and her party hasn\’t united behind her yet.  Again the problem is the Republicans, they haven\’t come up with a solid candidate yet.  So far Gillibrand polls ahead of them all.  The elephant in the room is former Governor Pataki and he hasn\’t shown clear signs towards running.  And the longer he waits, the less likely it is.  New York is an expensive state to run in, you got a lot of big media markets you have to afford.  Fundraising becomes a real issue here.  At this point it\’s a solid Democrat retention, unless Pataki jumps in soon.

Wisconsin – Senator Feingold is struggling, especially against potential Republican opponent Governor Tommy Thompson.  Problem is Thompson doesn\’t seem particularly inclined to run.  Although it does mean Feingold is potentially vulnerable.  But that\’s only if the GOP can get a top-tier candidate to step forward.  Unless the Wisconsin GOP get\’s it\’s act together, this is a Democrat retention.

Washington – Senator Patty Murray isn\’t particularly an impressive Senator even in a good year.  But she\’s not in an particular danger either.  Her state has trended to the left ever since she won it, and nothing here really signals danger for her.  Solid Democrat retention.


Yeah, there are other Democrat Senate seats up for election, but seriously….not even worth writing about.

And remember Republicans have their own seats to defend…

Ohio – Ohio is solid purple and is a toss-up in the best of conditions.  Republicans have picked Rob Portman, Bush\’s OMB director and Trade Rep.  This is a really odd choice for this state.  Either Ohio has a really shallow pool of talent GOP-wise or Portman has pictures of someone with a goat.  That said, so far he\’s leading in the polls, although I\’m guessing the general anti-Democrat feeling around the country is the only thing making that happen.  Right now this is slightly leaning towards Republican retention, with the ability to go toss-up at any moment.

Kentucky – This SHOULD be an easy seat for Republicans, but they\’re doing their best to screw it up.  The biggest factor here is the presence of Rand Paul (Ron Paul\’s son) in the race.  He leads Secretary of State Trey Grayson in the primaries, which is a bad thing.  Kentucky is not a state that\’s likely to take to libertarianism, in fact it\’s pretty much the inverse.  Look for Democrats to lay low and let Paul take the nomination, and then start explaining to Kentucky what libertarianism really is.  If Grayson can pull out the nomination it\’s a likely Republican retention, but if Paul takes the nomination this is a toss-up.

Missouri – Again this should be a fairly easy win for Republicans, but they\’re doing their best to screw it up.  Obama polls awful here, although that\’s not surprising as this state stayed red in a very anti-red year in 2008.  Republicans are going with a rather uninspiring Roy Blunt, who has flirted with the birthers, although hasn\’t fully embraced them.  Fortunately Democrats apparently agreed with the theme of making the election and snoozefest and went with Robin Carnahan.  On one hand she\’s managed to really pull in votes in elections past, on the other hand the dynamics or this race don\’t favor her.  This one goes as slightly leaning Republican retention.

New Hampshire – This state has bounced back and forth in the way it leans politically for years, currently trending left to right so that\’s a plus for Republicans.  For this open Senate seat, Attorney General Kelly Ayotte (R) leads Rep. Paul Hodes (D) in the polls by a fair margin but she\’s still under 50%, so it\’s hard to be confident.  Plus Ayotte is facing a lot of competition in the primaries, so this race is a lot more competitive than Republicans should be comfortable with.  Leaning Republican retention.


So there you go, Republicans can pretty easily make some major gains and get to 49….but the road to 51 is pretty ugly.  I just can\’t see enough stars aligning to make it happen.  There would have to be some pretty major shifts yet in these races.  Keep in mind that the voter\’s mood right now is anti-incumbent….not necessarily anti-Democrat.  So Republicans are just as in danger as Democrats are.

Republicans can generally feel good about making some gains in 2010, but not about regaining the Senate.

[Crossposted at True North]


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E-Verify Almost Saved

August 4th, 2008 by Kevin

I wrote previously about how E-Verify, despite being one of the most useful tools in enforcing our immigration laws, was being blocked by Democrats in Congress. In fact, it was at risk of being terminated due to lack of funding. The E-Verify program expires in November, and legislation to reauthorize it has to pass both the House and Senate before the fall (August) recess.

While one big hurdle remains, progress was made last week. In response to increasing public pressure, shortly before retiring for a month recess, the US House passed H.R. 6633, led by Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ.). This bill while not perfect, includes a number of provisions, which should hopefully at least maintain the status quo on immigration. Unfortunately, from this Congress, not making things worse is about as good as we can expect.

Essentially this bill reauthorizes E-Verify for five years. This takes us to the next presidential race, and provides the chance for presidential politics to interfere. While if it had stayed at 10 years reauthorization, as it originally was, it would have removed that cost and taken us beyond the next presidency.

It also includes a number of provisions that prevents backhanded attempts to exploit loopholes to prevent the funding E-Verify. The bill allows the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration to use money to fund E-Verify if the Homeland Security Department doesn\’t provide them on time. But it also requires the Homeland Security department to make advance payments to the Social Security Administration for the operation of E-Very.

Several legislators have been trying to put in provisions that prevented the Social Security Administration from spending funds on the program, while also not requiring the Homeland Security Department to pay for it. This would have essentially allowed the Homeland Security Department to kill the program despite it being reauthorized by Congress. And with our current President and either of our two possible new Presidents, that is a very very likely outcome.

However, one very big hurdle remains….namely the US Senate.

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) has placed a hold legislation to reauthorize E-Verify. As I noted before

On Thursday, Senate staffers reported to FAIR that Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is blocking the reauthorization of E-Verify in the Senate because he considers it to be a pro-business program that gives businesses a safe harbor. Since its inception in 1996, E-Verify has proven to be an effective and useful tool in protecting legal workers and the individuals who hire them.

The Senate needs to vote on this piece of legislation soon, because the current authorization for the program expires in November. Between the time it takes for the Senate to do anything, reconcile their bill with the House and then give it to the President to sign, this needs to be accomplished very quickly.

You can let Senator Menendez what you think by calling him at the following numbers:

DC Office – (202) 224-4744
Newark Office – (973) 645-3030
Online Form

Minnesotans you can also call your Senators at:

Senator Coleman (202) 224-5641
Senator Klobuchar (202) 224-3244

And then you can call Senate leadership at:

Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV) (202) 224-2158
Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (202) 224-3135

Otherwise the Senate Switchboard can be reached at (202) 224-3121.


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