Monthly Archives: October 2010

Upsets? Possible or Not?

Every day, new seats pop up as upset possibilities. Yesterday, for example, a new poll was publicized showing even Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ-12) dropping to a single-digit lead. If the election becomes a Republican wave as many believe will happen, which “out of nowhere” races will actually come home?

With so many campaigns on the board, which are legitimate upset possibilities, and which are fool’s gold? The following are contests that have surfaced in recent days as potential upset picks. Our analysis:

AK-Senate: The theory is that Lisa Murkowski’s write-in bid takes enough votes away from GOP nominee Joe Miller to either elect herself or throw the race to Democratic nominee Scott McAdams. Polling regarding write-in candidates is one thing; translating support into write-in votes is quite another. Had Sen. Murkowski operated a strong grassroots organization, she wouldn’t have lost her primary. The key to running a successful write-in effort is a strong ground operation. That doesn’t happen overnight, and especially not in a place as spread out as Alaska. Likely outcome: Miller wins.

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D, AZ-7)

AZ-7: Now the upset possibilities are even creeping into Voting Rights districts. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D) has undeniably dropped to the low single digits in his battle with GOP scientist Ruth McClung. This one actually might have some legs. Grijalva is leading the charge to economically boycott his own state because of the immigration law, a position not well received by his constituents in a largely rural area experiencing tough times. Grijalva shouldn’t lose, but leading the charge to inflict economic pain upon one’s own constituents could be the catalyst that causes the seismic political shift that leads to a McClung upset.

DE-Senate: It’s wishful thinking to believe that Christine O’Donnell can still win the seat because of the Tea Party surge. She can’t. This one is done. Democrats win.

MA-4: Rep. Barney Frank (D) is in trouble. While true opponent Sean Bielat is raising a great deal of national small-dollar money and is Frank’s toughest-ever re-election opponent, the House Financial Services chairman will survive. No poll has dropped him below 50% and the district is just too Democratic in nature. Frank wins again.

Rep. John Dingell (D, MI-15)

MI-15: In December, Rep. John Dingell (D-MI-15) will have been in Congress for 55 years. Though at least one poll shows the Dean of the House falling behind opponent Dr. Rob Steele, it will be extremely difficult for this trend to continue. Back in 2001, the 15th district was designed to pair two Democratic incumbents, Dingell and then-Rep. Lynn Rivers, into one district. The Democratic primary would be a difficult fight for both, but the winner would get a seat for the rest of the decade. The seat will still remain intact for the Ds. Rep. Dingell wins a 29th term.

These are just a few examples of races that I detail in my daily newsletter, the PRIsm Political Update. For all the details, insights, to sign up for my daily email updates, or to sign up to track specific issues or industries, please email me @PRIsm-us.com.

Will Delaware Save the Senate for Democrats?

In the Senate, the latest Delaware polls continue to show Democrat Chris Coons leading controversial Republican nominee Christine O’Donnell in a race that may well save the Democratic majority. With California (Barbara Boxer) and West Virginia (Gov. Joe Manchin vs. John Raese) now trending better for Democrats, and Colorado, Illinois, and Washington in pure toss-up mode, it will be very difficult for the GOP to claim the Senate majority largely because they have so many of their own seats to defend.

Thus, entering the final phase of campaign 2010, it is more than conceivable that the Republicans will secure enough Democratic conversion seats to secure a working House majority and end the Senate cycle with between 47-49 members.

Turning to the states, the GOP is in position to command 30+ Governors, and could possibly gain a record number of state legislative chambers. This, in a redistricting year that will have a major influence over the political landscape in the ensuing decade.

Though 2010 is shaping up to be an election of historic proportions, it’s only the beginning of a series of major political events. Right after the election Congress will return for an important lame duck session, apportionment numbers will be released before the end of the year – meaning we will know for sure which states will be gaining and losing congressional districts and exactly how many – followed by 2011 redistricting where battles in all 50 states will soon begin (43 with multiple congressional districts are naturally of the highest importance), and, of course, the 2012 presidential election campaign commences in earnest.

The fluidity in our contemporary political time rivals that of any point in American history. It is an exciting time to be involved.

Georgia is No California

With several Democrats publicly saying they would prefer to vote for individuals other than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to lead the next House of Representatives, Congressman Jim Marshall (D-GA-8) just launched the strongest of anti-Pelosi ads in his own difficult run for re-election. Attacking not only Speaker Pelosi, but also her home town of San Francisco and portraying the old California hippie culture as “being a long way from Georgia,” Marshall goes on to say that he is a “long way from Pelosi.” He also claims not to support Pelosi and that he votes with Republican leaders “65% of the time.” According to the Politico newspaper, Marshall’s Democratic Party support figure is actually 88%, a number that is difficult to comprehend when he says he votes with the GOP almost two-thirds of the time. The Marshall ad ends with the announcer saying the Congressman has been endorsed by The NRA, Chamber of Commerce and “Right to Life.” The tag line at the end of the ad, referring to the three organizations, says “… and they wouldn’t have anything to do with a Nancy Pelosi supporter.”

The Marshall approach is the most brazen to come from any Democrat so far in this election cycle. It is an extraordinary attack on a leader of his own party, and a person who he twice voted for Speaker and once as Minority Leader. It will be interesting to see how GOP nominee Austin Scott responds to his opponent’s latest attempt at neutralizing what is probably his most glaring negative.

When Will it End?

As we pull to within less than three weeks of the election, the Democrats appear to be in a free-fall. Nevada GOP Senatorial candidate Sharron Angle, opposing unpopular Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, raised a huge amount of money –– $14 million from July 1st to September 30th — an impressive haul for any candidate, but especially so for one from a small state. It’s even more stunning when you note that 94% of the money came from contributions of less than $100. In Florida, Senate GOP candidate Marco Rubio brought in more than $5 million for the quarter. In liberal Washington, Republican Dino Rossi locked in a tight battle with Sen. Patty Murray (D), exceeded $4.5 million.

In the House races, Reps. Gene Taylor (D-MS-4), Heath Shuler (D-NC-11), Walt Minnick (D-ID-1) and Bobby Bright (D-AL-2) are publicly saying they will vote for someone other than embattled House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-8), when the new Congress convenes. Reps. Chet Edwards (D-TX-17), Jason Altmire (D-PA-4) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN-2) have ads expressing their independence from Pelosi and President Obama. Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY-23), in serious trouble because the split among local Republicans and Conservatives has ostensibly healed and Matt Doheny now has virtually united support from the right-of-center, launched a rather desperate new ad saying that he “votes with the Republican leader 63% of the time.” These are obvious signs of a party in trouble.

And new competitive congressional races are popping up every day. Now the list is even reaching protected voting rights districts like AZ-7 (Rep. Raul Grijalva in a close contest with scientist Ruth McClung), and TX-27 (Rep. Solomon Ortiz actually trailing Republican opponent Blake Farenthold in both a campaign-released survey and a private independent poll).

All of these anecdotes are similar to what we were seeing for Democrats in both 2006 and 2008, and the results, as we all know, were landslide elections. Right now, it appears that Republican House candidates are likely to win in the neighborhood of 35 Democratically-held seats, with another 30 or so in range to win. The Democrats will at least pick up two GOP seats, and maybe as many as five. Thus, the GOP approaching or exceeding a 50-seat gain is not out of the question, and reclaiming the majority appears to be on the horizon.

Government Image Dragging Down Dems

The Democrats are clearly headed for a rough mid-term election, and one of the fundamental reasons for their downturn was uncovered by a late September Gallup study released just yesterday. According to their survey of 981 adults on Sept. 20-21, 72% of the respondents answered with a negative term when asked to describe their impression of the federal government. Only 10% reported having a positive view of our national institutions. (See Gallup poll)

The four topical areas of discontent centered around the government’s perceived inefficiency, its expanding size, ineptness, and corruption stemming from within, according to the Gallup analysis. This poor image of government, at a time when Democrats have widely expanded its institutions and authority, is contributing mightily to the majority party now being perilously close to losing control of the House and facing diminishing numbers in the Senate.

Gallup also found that the federal government came in ahead of only oil and gas companies on their list of industry preference rankings, and behind lawyers and pharmaceutical companies, in addition to the real estate, healthcare, and banking industries which helped make up the most negative sector of their chart. The computer and food industries dominated the top of the graph, with the two industries securing all five of the most positive positions.