As you can't avoid knowing, the House of Teabag has voted to fund the government via a Continuing Resolution (CR), which included the defunding of the ACA aka Obamacare, and sent the bill to the Senate.
First, a few little factoids. Obamacare can't really BE "defunded" in the way that the teabaggers intend. First, a lot of the provisions have already been enacted (free preventive care, kids on parents' policies until age 26, etc.) and others don't actually get government funding, such as the individual mandate. In addition, some of the funding comes from mandatory payouts, such as the Medicaid expansion, which means it's going to happen anyway.
And don't think that Boehner, Cantor and McCarthy don't know this. They know.
So, the CR has gone to the Senate where the "defunding" nonsense will be stripped out and the bill returned to the House. At that point, it becomes a hot potato, as in, which chamber will actually have possession when the government shuts down on 1 October. My money's on the House of Teabag, and I think that shutting down the government will be the best of all possible options.
Let's assume for a moment that the government shuts down on 1 October. Now, we've had more than a dozen shutdowns over the last 20 years: some for a few hours, some for a few weeks, none on the first day of a fiscal year. Normally, when the government shuts down, all sorts of "essential" services continue: the military doesn't suddenly get brought home from war, for example, the planes still fly courtesy of the FAA, the lights stay on along the Federal highway system. Normally there is grousing about museums being closed, and the possibility that checks won't go out...but this will be THE FIRST OF OCTOBER.
The Federal government's fiscal year starts on this date: there are checks to go out not only for Social Security, SSI, Veterans' Benefits and other direct pays to individuals, but this is the day that monies are released for many government contracts. Huh.
Shutting down the government is always a royal pain, but it is far better a choice then the option the Boehner and company are toying with: adopt a CR without the defunding section and then hold the country hostage by refusing to raise the debt ceiling.
There's no chance that the government shuts down on the first AND refuses to raise the debt ceiling a few weeks later. Therefore, shutting is better. Once this happens, there will be a giant hue and cry and the House will have no choice but to abandon the Hastert Rule and pass both a reasonable CR (heaven forbid they should actually pass an appropriations bill, which Boehner and crowd has been unable to do in years) as well as a hike to the debt ceiling.
By shutting the government, the Feds hold onto a bit more money, which can be used to delay the cessation of paying our bills. In addition, there will be a lot of pressure not just from individuals, but from the companies that fund congressional campaigns.
Further, there is a true weariness about the teabaggers. Government by extortion is not the way our country was meant to accomplish anything. Further, anyone who can read and do basic arithmetic knows that the tebaggers are complete idiots for refusing to raise the debt ceiling. The national debt has been falling under Obama's policies even while having to deal with the little moron monkeys on his back, and a debt reduction is what they campaigned on. Yes: the idea of the government spending less money. Despite the problems these austerity measures have caused, they're all in for that. HOWEVER, the debt ceiling relates to debt we already owe, and America is the cornerstone of the world's economy. If they REALLY want to do that, not only are they dumber than rocks, but they really are anarchists.
Thanks, I feel better now.
So folks, think about what you want to see happen. Contact your reps so that they know you want/don't want a government shutdown, want/don't want to raise the debt ceiling. Certainly the best outcome would be that neither happened, but I'll take that shutdown over even the most miniscule chance that the debt ceiling stays static.
There are a lot of whip counts on the House indicating a firm "no" on Syria. You can see a sample here, and the link updates daily. From the Senate whip count, it appears that there are more undecideds than anything else, sample here. Bear in mind that this may well change after Obama's Tuesday night address, but from reports it seems that the American people are overwhelmingly opposed to any action in Syria except humanitarian aid and diplomacy, which will tend to make reps wary of voting "yea".
The Senate will vote first, which potentially precludes a House vote. The first thing to note is that the Senate, and some members of the House, know a lot more about what is going on in Syria then we do. It's why they call them "classified briefings". And it may be that the reason so many Senators are undecided is because of what they know that we do not.
There are those who believe it's imperative to bomb Syria, and their reasoning is simple: chemical weapons cannot be tolerated, Assad will use them again if we don't stop him, and we are AMERICA and it's our place to lead the world. That's the argument.
There are others who are so war weary that they don't care about the chemical weapons, they just see the situation as a way to get embroiled in ANOTHER 10 years of war in the Middle East, with the potential for a spread outside of Syria, and possible WWIII.
If I had to prognosticate, I believe we will bomb, beginning on Sunday, 15 September. In addition to bombing, we'll surgically remove Assad and his regime.
But what I'm interested in is the party politics going forward. We've been saying here since 2009 that the Republican Party is imploding and there is a huge schism caused by the rise of the teabaggers. And this is another rift for them: the GOP has always been the party of war, of neocons, and of the military-industrial complex. The "daddy" party, if you will. If they all vote no, or enough of them to preclude congressional concurrence, Obama can certainly still bomb, and if it's successful, that wing of the party is in trouble in 2016. Every debate: "Why didn't you stand up for America?"
A different set of problems presents itself for the Democrats. All House Democrats and a lot of Democratic Senators will be running next year. Into their calculus is certainly whether they'll want to be seen as standing with or against the President on the issue of war with Syria. Voting "yes" if the bombing turns into war is a disaster. However, voting "no" with SUCCESSFUL bombing means a lot of explaining to the rank and file during any primaries, and possibly problems raising money down the road.
The decision that each member of Congress makes will not be simple. While some people are incredibly hawkish and would vote yea for any military action, and while the Democratic leadership is obligated to vote with the President, this is a vote of conscience, not of party. For the first time since he's been in office (since 2001), my Congressman sent an email asking my opinion as to go or no-go. I'm pretty sure that email went to every email address in the District his office could get its hands on. I understand that a lot of reps have been reaching out, in addition to taking calls.
The countrywide discussion is a good thing. I'm sorry that every country doesn't have this sort of verbal intercourse prior to every potential military action. There may be options that present themselves which will solve the problem of chemical weapons without causing additional deaths.
My personal preference is to seek a diplomatic solution, and failing that, to arm the moderate rebels and not the jihadists. It's also to lead a humanitarian relief effort for the Syrians in Jordan, Turkey, Greece and the other countries to which they've escaped. I personally don't see an up side to the bombing. Only potential disasters.
The MSM big Senate story is Fancy Farm: Alison Lundergan Grimes saying that Mitch McConnell is so intractable that if he had a kidney stone he'd refuse to pass it. Along with Cook moving Kentucky to toss-up. That's not a story here, since this column called it a toss-up LAST week. I've been telling you for years that polls are trailing edge not leading edge....
But I digress.
This week, I want to talk about Senators Chris Murphy, Richard Blumenthal and Sheldon Whitehouse, following the lead of Rep Louise Slaughter. Watch:
Very powerful. Very simple. Little chance of passage in the House, where the current majority of obstructionist Republicans find the idea ethics to be anathema to their very existence. A shout out to Congresswoman Slaughter, who will be turning 84 in a few weeks: Happy Birthday, Congresswoman, thank you so much for your service and your efforts.
I've been trying to watch Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story. I can watch about 15 minutes, and then I need to leave it to return later. I find it terribly distressing. I need to go outside and smell the air, and touch nature.
What I find most distressing are the reasons that people bought into the lies that caused the collapses. Moore relates back to the death of Flint with some scenes from Roger and Me, he explains about how Alan Greenspan can be singularly blamed for turning people's houses into piggy banks, he interviews "those who should know" and asks them to explain derivatives.
Fundamentally, what he explains (in the first half, I've yet to see the second) is that the plutocracy conspired in all ways to get people to lose their jobs and their homes. And the 99% were in many ways willing accomplices to the housing program, and unwitting victims of the corporate raids.
It has to do with the set of fundamental beliefs people hold that spread like viruses propagated by "those who should know" and then become reality. My take on this as relates to housing is after the jump, but the same logic applies to Nate Silver's 2014 Senate projections.
Click here for a listing of Nate's 2014 projections. Bottom line? He thinks that the Republicans will sneak by with 51 seats. He lists the following as Safe Democratic seats: Rhode Island, Delaware, New Mexico, Illinois, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Virginia and New Jersey (the last being returned to Democratic control this October.) And he's right about that. He views Colorado, Oregon, Minnesota and New Hampshire as Likely Democratic, although I consider those Safe. He views Michigan, Iowa and Alaska as Lean Democratic, although I consider them Likely tending toward Safe.
Now let's get to where he thinks we lose seats. He views North Carolina, Louisiana and Arkansas as pure toss-ups. I believe Kay Hagan will not only hold North Carolina, but will increase her margin above the 7.7% she won with in 2008. And I need to point out that when she announced, I was sure she'd win and almost everyone else said that Liddy Dole couldn't be beat. They came around later on, but if you want to call a race, call it early.
Mary Landrieu and Mark Pryor? I think Nate's right that these are toss-ups, but in the end, I believe Mary holds, and Mark loses.
Nate believes that we'll lose Baucus' seat in Montana. I've contended for years that Baucus actually was a Republican, and so as the votes go, it doesn't matter, but I agree, the seat is lost to our total count.
McConnell is given an 80% chance of re-election by Nate, and I think that's WAY optimistic. In fact, I think his chances are 50/50, at best. I'm not convinced he'll actually win the primary, and I believe that if he loses the primary, we'll take the seat. If he wins the primary, we still have a shot at capturing the Kentucky seat. Which would make Rand Paul the senior Senator for Kentucky, which is odd enough.
I believe we'll take Georgia. Another Nunn in the Senate. Nate gives us the same 20% chance he gives us in Kentucky, but I see this race as another Delaware, Missouri, etc., where the Republican candidate is so extreme, and then says something so incredibly insane that the GOP can't do anything but walk away. One of the candidates is Karen Handel, who basically brought down the Susan G Komen foundation.
It's likely that Nate's right that we lose the seats in West Virginia and South Dakota, but I think we might pick up Texas. Yes really. Especially if Julian Castro runs. While there is a whole bunch of voter suppression going on there, and Big John is a long term guy...this will be the shot the Democrats will take to start the march back to the days of LBJ and Ann Richards.
It's 28 July 2013, and I say now, we hold the Senate.
Today was supposed to be the day to look at whether Alison Lundergan Grimes can successfully challenge Mitch McConnell in Kentucky. It's possible, but a lot of things have to break well. On the up side, McConnell is going to have to spend a LOT more time back home, which means less of him in DC, and that's good for everyone. But, something else came up last night.
It appears that Liz Cheney (yes, Dick's kid) is going to challenge Mike Enzi for the Republican Senate seat next year. Now, the last time there was a Democratic Senator from Wyoming, he lost re-election in 1976. Basically, it's hard to imagine a state much more red than Wyoming. Here are some factoids:
2012? Mittens won with almost 70% of the vote. Only Utah gave him a bigger win.
But, the chair of the state Democratic Party is a woman named Robin Van Ausdall, and I wouldn't underestimate her. If you're asking "Who?" you haven't been following Colorado....
Van Ausdall worked as a Democratic operative in Colorado, most recently as the DNC Field Rep for 22 northeast Colorado counties, before taking the reins of Wyoming's Democratic party last year. Van Ausdall is a veteran of both won and lost campaigns, and has learned from both sets of experiences. Originally from Laramie (WY), she's convinced that the schisms in the Republican Party can be exploited. Not on any one individual race, but over time.
So let's take a moment to look at Colorado:
Governor: Democrat John Hickenlooper, last Republican - elected 2002.
Presidential Vote: Obama in 2008 and 2012, last Democratic win prior? Clinton in '92.
Senators: Mark Udall (first elected 2008) and Michael Bennet (appointed 2009)
Congress: 3 Democrats, 4 Republicans
A challenge from Liz Cheney to Mike Enzi will only help Van Ausdall in her quest to develop a field, raise money, build infrastructure and, I believe, eventually turn Wyoming purple. (I think she'll need 9 - 10 years, and its certainly doable.)
So do we pick up Wyoming in 2014? It's too early to tell, since we don't actually have a candidate yet. There are no top tier Democrats in Wyoming, and the bench is mostly empty, but Mike Enzi gets re-elected by flying under the radar. He and his compatriot John Barrasso tend to work quietly, and stay off the news. I remember Enzi once saying he stays off the Sunday shows because it's just a way to blame the other side. While they're both conservatives, perception is often reality, and the electorate is overly stupid and lazy. Thus, Liz may well be able to exploit things like Enzi's vote on internet taxes, and a few other "small" issues to her advantage.
In addition, count on seeing Liz and her 5 kids here, there and everywhere doing "Wyoming things" and leveraging her gender. While in Democratic circles, seeing a woman running for office out and about is a good thing, I'm wondering if a lot of über-conservative teabaggers don't see a woman out and about and ask themselves "gee, I wonder why she isn't home-schooling her kids, taking care of the house, and kow-towing to her husband?" Further, Liz will run TO THE RIGHT, and there are a lot of women of all political denominations who truly wonder why women aren't standing up for other women.
This may well be a race to watch, and we'll probably know better this autumn.
Earlier this week, Matt posted Rothenberg's projections for the 2014 elections. You can see them here. Matt Rothenberg concluded:
At this early stage, GOP gains seem to be inevitable, but the size is still in doubt.
I'm not so sure, but let's play.
Currently, the Democrats hold 55 seats. What are we defending? Rothenberg says that there are currently 12 safe Democratic seats. He's right about that. The three open seats are due to retirements in Michigan and New Jersey and the special in Massachusetts. In Michigan, Carl Levin is retiring due to age, he's 78. The likely replacement is Jennifer Granholm, who will easily hold. In New Jersey, Frank Lautenberg is 89, and is surprisingly not retiring due to age, but rather to make room for Cory Booker, Superhero, who will also easily hold. In Massachusetts, Mo Cowan is placeholder in John Kerry's seat, and all indications are that Ed Markey will win this year's special, and will hold the seat next year. To win, he's got to win the primary, as the Republicans weren't able to actually find a viable candidate for the general. For next year, it's equally unlikely they'll find someone as Scott Brown took an actual lawyer job and he'll be wont to give up that kind of money.
Rothenberg has Jeanne Shaheen favoured in New Hampshire, which we call likely, and I believe he's understating her abilities. We hold New Hampshire.
Rothenberg then has 4 Democratic leans in Alaska, Iowa, Montana and North Carolina, two what he calls "toss-up/tilt Democratic"s in Arkansas and Louisiana, and he calls South Dakota a pure toss-up. He believes we could also lose West Virginia as a "toss-up/tilt Republican".
How many of these seats could we really lose? West Virginia, for sure. We should accept that the ship has sailed and put our efforts elsewhere. The rest, I don't think we'll lose. There is a strong incumbent advantage, and while Iowa will be open, there's a good chance that Iowans, like everyone else, has seen what electing people like Ted Cruz can do, and won't want the kind of embarrassment.
What can we pick up? Potentially Kentucky, which I wrote about last week, as well as Georgia, so long as Max Cleland runs, as he should. When you look at the field of potential Republican primary candidates, debate season is going to be the equivalent of Christine O'Donnell debating Todd Akin. Cue the popcorn. We've seen this before: run a teabagger against a reasonably strong Democrat, and the teabagger goes down in flames. And Max Cleland deserves his seat back.
The rest of the seats Rothenberg has as some level of tilt to safe Republican hold. This means, by the way, that Susan Collins as the last moderate Republican in either chamber. Along with Kelly Ayotte, these are the last two Republican members from New England in either chamber.
So where does that leave my projections? Lose one, pick up two, meaning in January of 2015, we'll have 56 Democrats, plus Independents who caucus with us.
With the passing of Daniel Inouye, the retirement of Jim DeMint and now the seemingly certain nomination of John Kerry to State, there will be new Senators beyond the newly-elected crop in the 113th.
We know that Nikki Haley has appointed Tim Scott for DeMint's seat. While it's interesting that Scott will be the first black Republican Senator since Edward Brooke, and one of a very tiny number, he's also a true looney tune. Think Progress has the details here, but some toplines:
Floated impeaching Obama over the debt ceiling.
Proposed a bill to cut off food stamps for entire families if one member went on strike.
Wanted to spend an unlimited amount of money to display Ten Commandments outside county building.
Defended fairness of giving billions in subsidies to Big Oil.
We don't know who Neil Abercrombie will appoint to fill Senator Inouye's seat. The process is that the state party of the deceased provides a list of three names to the governor, from which a replacement is chosen. It will be virtually impossible to replace Senator Inouye. Sure, Hawaii will get another senator who will likely serve the state well, but we often forget how much our world has changed in the lifetimes of our oldest Americans. Inouye was born in Hawaii before it was a state. He was at Pearl, almost placed in an internment camp, and instead went on to serve America so very bravely in WW2. The things that Inouye fought for in the Senate were not historical, as much as part of his very life.
By virtue of seniority, Patrick Leahy is now the President Pro Tem of the Senate.
With Kerry to State, Massachusetts will hold an election. Remember that the election in lieu of gubernatorial appointment was enacted by the state legislature to prevent Mitt Romney from filling Ted Kennedy's seat for the remainder of his term. There is a rumour that Vicki Kennedy might run for her late husband's seat. Deval Patrick will appoint an interim Senator for the 100+ days that will need to be filled in the run-up to the election. He might appoint Kennedy, but more likely, if she agrees to run, he'd appoint either Michael Dukakis or Martin Meehan. Unless, of course, Meehan wanted to run, and then Dukakis would be the likely choice. While it's OF COURSE possible to run for the Senate while in the Senate, whoever runs would be better off campaigning full time than learning the Senate ropes.
It's down to the wire, and it's been an interesting year. Right now, we have 53 Democratic Senators including Bernie Sanders, and for reasons I cannot understand, Joe Lieberman. So make your projection:
In looking all the published forecasts, I always love how some folks (who will remain nameless, but you can check the chart here) live in Toss-Up world. Someone's going to win, and they'd really rather not make a wrong choice. I think some races really are toss-ups, but most of them beyond the givens? These people like to keep changing their ratings over the course of the year, and sometimes that's warranted when something huge happens. (Think "macaca" or "too wide a stance".)
So I'm locking down my number, and my number is 54. I see clear wins (in the order of Matt's chart) for Mazie Hirono, Bob Casey, Martin Heinrich, Bill Nelson, Sherrod Brown, Claire McCaskill, Elizabeth Warren (and I've had MA blue since the beginning), Tim Kaine, Chris Murphy, Tammy Baldwin, Heidi Heitkamp, and Rich Carmona. We all know that Angus King will win, and I believe he'll caucus with the Democrats. I think we lose Indiana, Montana and Nevada, although I remain hopeful that I'm wrong in those races.
I keep my chart listings with leans and toss-ups because some races are still leaning, but for this post, I've decided to fish and not cut bait. (Or however that expression goes....)
Please use the comments to tell everyone which races make up your final number.
Matt should have the updated chart up later today, and I have five changes on the DCW column, all good. Both Wisconsin and Indiana move from Toss-Up to Democratic Lean, and New Mexico, Florida and Ohio move from Democratic Lean to Strong Democratic. And in a certain way, it is the Big Bird effect.
In all five cases, what the numbers below the topline tell us about the polling in all those states is that people are starting to see the Republican candidates for what they are, and not for what they are lying about. Yesterday, the Cleveland Plain Dealer endorsed Sherrod Brown, pointing out that he has served Ohioans very well in his first term. The paper did not endorse him six years ago, and the paper answered to that. And then the editorial said this:
There's another powerful reason to vote for Brown -- a negative one: Electing his Republican opponent, Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, would reward one of the nastiest campaigns ever waged in this state. It would reward a candidate who hasn't moved beyond partisan slogans and careful sound bites. It would reward ambition untethered to substance.
I love that phrase "ambition untethered to substance" - how applicable to a whole host of Republican candidates. But if you think about it, that's what the electorate is coming around to: low information voters are starting to pay attention, and while they may be initially wowed by the shine, once they learn the facts, they're appalled by the stink.
Yesterday, I attended a local street fair/music festival. There were a number of political tables there from both parties. As you likely know, it's illegal to comingle funds between elected officials' offices and their campaigns. Thus, an incumbent can either set up a legislative table with constituent information and no campaign materials, or vice-versa. There was one constituent table from each of the parties representing incumbents, and there were three tables from local Democratic organizations. Consider guessing the sole of those 5 tables that brought not a single voter registration form, even though registering voters falls under both a constituent service and an independent event.
The table for my township was near one of the entrances, and just downwind from where they were smoking and grilling various kinds of meat, so we got a lot of traffic. Throughout the day, our candidates would stand with our table chatting with potential voters. In addition, we had materials for the full ticket (handouts, signs, bumper stickers, etc.)
We got a lot of questions, the most common being some variation on "what happened in the debate?" The answer was quite simple: Romney won on style, Obama won on facts. Our question back to the person was always "did the debate change how you are going to vote?" And the answer was 100% no. People were relieved that what they believed was actually true.
People also asked about the candidates whose materials dotted our table. They would point at someone and ask about something they'd heard on a TV ad. We were easily able to refute the lies. You could see the people's faces relax and smile. Even low-information voters are coming around to the understanding that the Republicans will say anything, no matter how absurd, and try to pass it off as truth.
You can see it in the Senate races, along with Congressional races, downballot races, and the grand prize race itself. People are starting to ask about what candidates REALLY stand for, and they are paying more attention to speaking clips of the candidates to "friendly" audiences where they admit things like "the 47%" and "legitimate rape". They are coming around to the dog whistles, such as when "saving Medicare" actually means "voucher-care."
I have stopped losing sleep over the possibility of losing the Senate. I'll still be canvassing and doing various GOTV things up and down the ticket, but only to make sure our voters show up.
After the jump, some interesting stories about people at our booth yesterday.
Astute observers may have noted that the DCW forecast column in Matt's post Monday night had some differences from my last Sunday with the Senators post. I'll explain that this coming Sunday, I apologize for not having my explanations up yesterday, but there was voter registration. My changes are based on conversations I had with delegates at the convention, and were truly eye-opening. Spoiler alert: I'll end up saying I was wrong about certain races.
One thing though: Mark Kirk. As you may know, Mark is an Illinois senator, a Republican, who hasn't been back to the chamber since he had a stroke in January. He's not up for re-election until 2014, and his position certainly counts towards who controls the Senate, but think about it: IF the Senate splits 50/50 or even 51/49 R/D, to undertake reconciliation votes, they need 51 votes. They can't get to 51 if Mark Kirk is too sick to show up for work. I believe we hold the Senate, but just saying.
Tomorrow, the PA Supreme Court will consider Judge Simpson's outrageous 70-page decision relative to Voter ID in Pennsylvania. We're looking at our 9 point polling lead as actually being down several points due to the probability that Pennsylvania could be the Florida of 2012 with disenfranchisement and provisional ballots. So dedicated groups are out every day making sure people are registered, and that said registration matches their Voter IDs.
I've spoken to some interesting voters recently. They come by the registration table, and they come up to me when I'm out and about wearing my voter registration tee shirt. One elderly woman was American by birth, but definitely of Eastern European extraction, as she grabbed my hand and held on tight. She told me she had a terrible problem, and asked if I could help. Turns out her problem is that she's been a registered Republican all her life, has never voted for anyone but a Republican, wants to vote for Obama, and doesn't know how to do that. "I don't like that Mitt. I like that Paul person less. I like our president." We have optical scan ballots here, so we talked a bit, I pried my hand away, and we practiced. Every vote counts!
In the evenings, I've been taking my Vote Builder lists around and making sure everyone is registered in my neighborhood, checking IDs for matches, collecting forms, and doing just a little bit of outreach (that will be the second canvass for real). Do you want to walk YOUR neighborhood? It's incredibly effective when it's a neighbor at the door and not a stranger. You can go over to your local OFA office and ask them to cut you turf for your area. Don't think you have the time? Ask for 10 houses - that will take you about half an hour if you get into a conversation with someone. Once you see how easy it is, you can certainly go back with your sheets and ask for more.
EVERY VOTE COUNTS this election, especially if you live in a swing state. But there's a second reason to canvass even if you live in a state where the outcome is already known: it's good practice to make phone calls into swing states, and tight Senate races next month. This is the year that it's grassroots that can win the races!
Elections are won one voter at a time. Get yours today.
I wanted to call this post Sunday with the Senators: Post Ayn Rand Paul Ryan Gosling-Ling Edition, but I didn't have enough room. Now you know. Apologies to all of you who have contacted Matt and me about the fact that we haven't kept up. Matt has assured me that once I get this post up, he'll start working on the overall chart. You can see where I believe we're at right now.
Yes, I believe we hold the Senate, and all I can say is thank you Mittens for picking Eddie Munster. Let's get started.
I have Maine as purple because Angus King is certainly going to win, and then he's going to decide with which party to caucus. While he has said he will consider not caucusing, it's not a reasonable position for him to maintain in DC. He can choose a side and then vote against it, but if he wants to serve on a committee, he's going to have to pick. I believe that King will choose the Democratic side for several reasons. First, we'll give him the option of voting against us with only minor punishment, while McConnell will not. Second, he will not be the 50th vote to either side. Finally, and most important, he's not a lock-step anything, and that's what the GOP would require.
It may be odd to some of you that I kept Wisconsin as Democratic instead of toss-up since Tommy Thompson is so popular, and I personally like him. But the problem, I believe, is that Tommy is not conservative for the far right wing contingent, which may turn out for native son Paul Ryan, but will split tickets or just skip that line as the primary was so hard fought. Further, in the end, I think that Wisconsinites have been through enough and will vote to keep Kohl's seat blue, and will certainly accord their Electoral College votes to the president.
While other people have my Democratic Leans as toss-ups, I have them really leaning blue. That's Ohio, Florida, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Virginia, and North Dakota. Once again, THANKS MITTENS!!!! If you've watched Soledad O'Brien on CNN aka Fox Light go after every single GOP talking head who has dared to say that "premium support" is not a voucher, you can see where things are going. By the time of the fall debates, the President will have made clear to everyone who pays attention that Romney/Ryan and their ilk will give people a check so paltry it shall not cover the basic premium for Medicare. His coattails in these leaning states will grow in stature. Further, the Democratic Senatorial candidates in these seven states have been all over the Medicare debate even before the choice of Eddie Munster.
That gets us to holding the Senate even if we lose Hawaii, since I believe we get Massachusetts back. I think we might get Indiana because the polls are all tied, and therefore within the margin of error, and Murdouch is, well, a teabagger. While Romney will win Indiana, Murdouch will end up more like Christine O'Donnell than Rand Paul. Thus, we might pick this state up.
I have Nebraska as a toss-up, while most everyone else has decided that Kerrey doesn't have a chance. No one has polled there since late spring, and things did look ominous at the time, but the Kerrey campaign has pointed out that the early polls excluded cell phones, and they believe things are closer. The first debate is next weekend, and that might help. Since this is currently Ben Nelson's seat, while the balance of power matters, in terms of actual votes, a GOP win wouldn't change how Turncoat Nelson has voted over the last several years.
Nevada and Arizona are already red Senate seats, so picking them up would only be gravy. Not impossible, but not likely.
I wish it were possible to say that Ted Cruz would lose Texas, but I don't see it. However, I believe that his win won't be the kind of landslide other Texas Republicans have enjoyed, and that his Senate tenure will help drive Texas purple over the next 4 years.
First, there will be a primary, so let's take a look at who the players are and aren't. On the GOP side, there are:
Glenn Addison, funeral home owner
Joe Agris, plastic surgeon
Curt Cleaver, owner of a hotel sales, consulting, and management company
Ted Cruz, former State Solicitor General
David Dewhurst, Texas Lieutenant Governor
Charles Holcomb, retired Judge from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
Craig James, sports commentator and former professional football player
Tom Leppert, former Mayor of Dallas
Lela Pittenger, Mediator
All of those candidates have filed for the primary, with Ted Cruz and David Dewhurst forming the core of likely real candidates based on money and endorsements. The most recent polling shows Dewhurst with 38%, Cruz with 27% and "Another Republican" in 3rd with 19%. The only other 2012 poll shows Dewhurst with 36% and Cruz with 18%. From our perspective, their politics are relatively interchangeable.
On the Democratic side, the most interesting possibility is Tommy Lee Jones. Yes, the actor. Also Al Gore's roommate at Harvard, and he who made Gore's nominating speech at the 2000 convention. He's winning the general election polls compared to the other Democratic candidates, but sadly, he's not running. Maybe he'll change his mind. Also not running, although there's a better chance he will then that Tommy will is Chet Edwards, former Congressman. The three Democrats who have filed are:
Addie Dainell Allen
Sean Hubbard, strategy director of Manny Molera's 2002 congressional campaign
Paul Sadler, former state representative
But the real question is: could a Democrat, any Democrat, win a Senate race in Texas? The last time a Democrat was elected to the US Senate was 1988. (Bob Krueger was appointed for a few months to fill Bentsen's seat when he bacame Secretary of the Treasury, but he lost the election to fill out the term.)
I would love to be able to say that the Hispanic trend line in Texas would allow for the state to both elect a Senator and re-elect Obama, but I just don't see it. I think that it will be possible to pick up a few House seats, but I'm looking at the numbers and I just can't find a path. Certainly it's better now than 4 years ago, but the demographics are just not quite there yet. Although they likely will be in at most 8 years.
The current polling nationwide indicates that the best expectation a Republican presidential candidate can hope to achieve from Hispanics in 2012 is 14%. (The aside of the polls is that this change would have given Michael Dukakis the presidency in 1988 had it been in place then, but I digress.) In a state like Texas with a huge Hispanic population, you'd think it was enough to swing the election. Here are some numbers from the Census:
The number of white persons not Hispanic is under 50%, but there is one other piece of information. Texas has a lower median age then a lot of other states, with 27.3% of the population being under age 18,and 7.7% being under the age of 5. These numbers are important because the largest Hispanic growth is via births not immigration, and so the number of voters isn't yet high enough for the Hispanic vote to turn the tide.
In addition, there is the sad reality that the Perry administration will do everything they can to keep non-whites, and Hispanic whites from voting. They have tried with the reapportionment maps, they have tried with Voter ID legislation. These were quashed by the courts and Justice, respectively. But there are all sorts of other ways of denying suffrage, including guns, having INS agents at the polling locations, and other forms of direct intimidation. I had promised last Sunday to look into the Texas possibilities, but I just can't find any hope there. However, I wish to reiterate that kids become adults, 2016 is looking better, and 2020 is looking like an incredibly rich pick-up opportunity.
You can take a look at the overall chart here. It has not been updated yet, but here are my changes:
• Maine moves from solid red to light blue (Democratic lean). • With Bob Kerrey running, Nebraska moves from solid red to toss-up.
This means we hold the Senate. Here's how it breaks down.
In Maine, while we're not getting Chellie Pingree, Angus King is running as an independent. He endorsed Obama in 2008, and again this year. There is no doubt that if King wins (as is likely) he'll be courted by both sides to determine with whom he'll caucus. History has shown us that not picking a side is harmful to the Senator as there will be no committee assignments and limited power. King is, and always has been, relatively moderate and is running because of the reasons Snowe decided not to seek another term. He knows, as Snowe does, that in addition to the institutional problems in Washington, the bigger problem is that there is no moderation left on the GOP side of the aisle. Maine likes moderation, King is a popular ex-Governor because he did right by the state, and joining the Republican caucus in its current state will not serve his constituents well.
In Nebraska Bob Kerrey is now the nominee, since Chuck Hassebrook dropped out of the primary. This will save Kerrey the need to fund raise for the primary and give him time to get his organization in order for what will be a challenging race. Theoretically, Kerry spoke with Harry Reid in the run-up to his decision, and said he'd like to have some of his seniority considered in committee assignments, and he want Appropriations, Armed Services and Agriculture. The GOP says that Ben Nelson cutting health care deals cost him his seat, but I believe he lost his seat because he did wrong by his constituents. Kerry will do right, and one of the things he'd do is work to protect Offutt AFB, especially with a seat on Armed Services. Military bases are huge employers, and knowing that one's elected official will work to protect that level of employment will be hugely helpful in his campaign, in addition to the popularity and issue views he brings as a candidate. You can contribute here.
In Massachusetts, the polls are currently swinging to Scott Brown, but polls can change. My opinion, in general, is less subject to whims and I believe that Elizabeth Warren will, by mid-summer, have a clear lead. Massachusetts is always considered a liberal state, although it is not in certain ways. I've alluded to the racial problems that involved school segregation in the state as late as the 1970's, and it is a Catholic state, which means there can still be people on the wrong side of the birth control divide. But the GOP has overplayed its hand with respect to issues that affect women, and Scott Brown, for his sometimes votes against his party has voted wrong on too many issues, most recently the Blunt Amendment. My guess is that Obama will make a few visits to the state to shore up the base, and Warren will make some appearances with Kennedy, and it will turn around her way. If you want to make a contribution, click here.
In Ohio, Sherrod Brown will have a tough race against Josh Mandel, who is shaping up to be the Marco Rubio of 2012. However, Governor Kaisich's poll numbers are in the low 40's, the electorate there is no fan group of Mittens, and Obama will fight hard to keep the state. These factors should help Brown hold on to his seat. You can contribute here.
The overall frame for the election rests on three things (barring some external disaster):
In general, there is enough of a female split to the Democratic side to help us in tight elections. In 2010, had women voted as they normally do, the GOP would never have won the House. Women will NOT make that mistake again. This will help both in the presidential race and in many state races.
Right now, only a small sliver of Hispanics (outside of Florida) are willing to vote Republican because of opposition to the DREAM Act. While "Hispanic" is in no way monolithic, there is no doubt that Republicans hate brown people as much as they hate black people, and without capturing at least 40% of the Hispanic vote in states where there is a large population of Hispanics (think the southwest where there are Senate seats up in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas) Democrats end up with much higher chances then we would have otherwise.
However, there is also the issue of Voting Rights. The Republicans are doing everything they can to keep the poor, the elderly and minorities out of the voting booths. This effort is starting to be shut down by the courts, and the higher the turnout, the better the chances for the side of truth and light. The most egregious case of vote denial comes out of Tennessee last Tuesday, when an ex-Congresman was purged from the voting rolls at the location he'd voted at every election since 1964. Watch the video and prepare to be appalled. Once again, this is a case of Republicans overplaying their hand, and the resolution of the soon to be filed court case will go a long way to help ensure that people CAN vote, and thus that Democratic candidates are give a fair shot at voting in all of the elections.
It's an even-numbered year, so it must be time for the projections to begin. You'll notice immediately on the chart that I'm more optimistic than the mainstream professionals. Their methodology is a little different from mine. First, they look at what would happen if the election would happen at the time their projections are made, while I look at what I believe will happen in November. As the process moves forward, they will all be more dependent on polls than I will be: I view them as lagging indicators, others do not. This year, where available, I'll be using crowd sourcing. In addition, these are my capsule reviews. I'll be doing a state at a time (with some interesting House races) in the coming weeks.
So let's get started.
Democrats who will hold(14): Feinstein (CA), Carper (DE), Cardin (MD), Stabenow (MI), Klobuchar (MN), Menendez (NJ), Gillibrand (NJ), Casey (PA), Whitehouse (RI), Sanders (VT), Cantwell (WA) and Manchin (WV). In addition, we pick up the Connecticut seat currently held by Lieberman. I know, I know, he's theoretically a Democrat, but really? For purposes of the count, it's a held seat, no matter who wins the primary.
Democratic pick-up (1): Massachusetts. While everyone else says this is a toss-up, I see Elizabeth Warren prevailing no matter how much pandering Scott Brown does. She's the right candidate at the right time.
Democratic lean (5): Nelson (FL), HI (open), Brown (OH), VA (open), WI (open). There are two lines of reasoning here. First off, in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin, there has been serious backlash against the teabag governors, who are greatly disliked by the residents, thus there will be a bounce vote. In addition, Obama will be all over these states, and he has coattails. (Yes, really.) As for Virginia, while it will be a battle, I rely on one word: Macaca. In Hawaii, while it should go Democratic, Linda Lingle is a strong candidate, and generally well liked. If Ed Case can pull off the primary without bloodshed, though, he'll be stronger than Lingle in the general.
Toss-Up (3): McCaskill (MO), Tester (MT), NM (open). We're going to see how these change. There is no Democratic candidate in Montana yet, and if no one wins, this goes straight over to the red side. In New Mexico, the candidates are no Bingaman, but I'll be doing more research. McCaskill is the most jeopardy of of any of the sitting Democratic senators running for re-election.
I have everything else leaning red, or solid red. This will change for Nebraska if Bob Kerrey runs, which he is considering.