Monthly Archives: October 2010

The Potential Shockers

Which 2010 campaigns are long-shot upset possibilities? Does polling indicate that there are candidates in position to score such victories? The answer to the second question is clearly yes, as there are at least 10 Republican challengers in normally Democratic districts who surveys indicate are potential surprise winners.

Perhaps the most shocking race now in this category is the Arizona campaign (AZ-7) of Rep. Raul Grijalva (D) and GOP physicist Ruth McClung. Though possessing little in the way of financial resources, McClung has managed to whittle Grijalva’s normally substantial advantage into the low single-digits. If this trend progresses, and Arizona continues to languish in political turmoil over immigration and government spending while outside groups help neutralize Grijalva’s resource advantage, then the AZ-7 campaign could become the defining upset of what might become a Republican sweep.

Retired Army Col. Allen West (R) held freshman Rep. Ron Klein (D) to a 10-point win in Florida in 2008, the big year for Democrats, as you might recall. West has raised more than $2 million for the re-match, and polling indicates the current contest (FL-22) is too close to call.

Keith Fimian

Republican challenger Keith Fimian is returning for a re-match against freshman Rep. Gerry Connolly (D) with a better campaign and in a much better year for the GOP. Polling suggests a slight Fimian lead, as the Republican tries to build upon the party’s momentum from Gov. Bob McDonnell’s major 2009 victory. This is a classic liberal vs. conservative campaign in a district with a high concentration of government employees; hence a Fimian victory, though possible, would still rank as a major upset.

GOP businessman Bobby Schilling is proving to be a formidable contender against two-term Rep. Phil Hare in a race that has emerged as a top-tier challenger race in Illinois (IL-7). The margin between the candidates has been two points or less for weeks now, so this is a legitimate chance for a Republican victory. Hare has not approached 50% in any poll since the early summer.

This is just a handful of nearly a dozen 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.

Senate Republicans Need to Pitch a Perfect Game

With speculation about the outcome of next month’s national election now rising to a fever pitch, it is important to take a step back and analyze what must happen for Republicans to wrest the Senate away from majority Democrats. While prospects of a House GOP takeover appear plausible, can the party also realistically paint the picture of a Senate Republican majority?

The defeat of At-Large Rep. Mike Castle in the Delaware Republican primary may have been a killer blow to GOP majority prospects. In every formula leading to a national Republican win, Delaware figured prominently. Now, factoring a Democratic hold of the First State, can Republicans still achieve majority status? Mathematically, such an outcome is possible, but …

To obtain 51 seats in the chamber, the Republicans will now have to win 17 of the 18 most competitive states — a situation that allows for only the slightest margin of error. To begin, the Republicans must first hold all of their six competitive open seats, beginning with the new three-way contest in Alaska. Florida’s Marco Rubio appears to have the inside track in Florida, and Rand Paul clings to a single-digit lead over state Attorney General Jack Conway in Kentucky. GOP candidates in Missouri, New Hampshire and Ohio all must win, and each appears poised for victory at this time.

If the Republicans secure those six contests, then they must convert all three Democratic states that decidedly appear headed their way. The North Dakota open seat seems to be the strongest of all conversion opportunities; Gov. John Hoeven is a lock to be the next Senator. Arkansas’ Blanche Lincoln may become the first incumbent to lose re-election on November 2nd, trailing Rep. John Boozman by double digits for months. The comeback bid of Indiana former Sen. Dan Coats is also strong, as he consistently leads his Democratic opponent by large margins.

It is important to remember that Republicans must win all nine of these races, merely to put the tougher contests into play. If you presume nine victories in the aforementioned races, the party will have only gained three net seats against the Democratic number, taking them from 41 to 44. Two more Dem states seem to be leaning Republican — Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

The next tier of campaigns is even more intense. The current toss-up races feature Colorado, Illinois and Nevada. All of these campaigns are tight and have been for months.

Reviewing the potential Republican majority track, the GOP, at this point, must win every race previously listed. But, even if they are victorious in all 14 of the aforementioned, they are still not finished. Four more competitive campaigns remain, and the GOP would have to win two more in order to reach 51 seats. Tight races remain in California, Connecticut, Washington and West Virginia; half of these must go Republican for them to claim majority status.

The Republicans will literally have to throw a perfect game on November 2nd in order to win the Senate; but such an outcome, while still unlikely, is not impossible.

For much more detailed insights, to sign up for my daily email updates, or to sign up to track specific issues or industries, please email me at PRIsm@performanceandresults.com.

West Virginia Shocker

While polls are now beginning to show some distance between Senate candidates in several states, perhaps the biggest bombshell is the continued strong performance by West Virginia Republican John Raese (pronounced Ray-cee). Running against one of the most popular Governors in the nation in the bid to replace the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D), Raese, who has failed in previous statewide runs, has been surprisingly tenacious in the 2010 special election campaign. According to the latest Rasmussen Reports poll (10/5; 500 likely WV voters), the GOP challenger has now taken the lead over Gov. Joe Manchin. By a count of 50-44%, a spread beyond the margin of error, the Republican has a measurable advantage over the Democratic chief executive. This is largely due to Raese’s strong opposition to the Cap & Trade issue, which has devastating effects on the coal economy, and his linkage of Manchin to the Obama Administration and federal Democratic politics.

With what now appears to be a sure GOP loss in Delaware, a state they were counting on to make an improbable run for the majority, West Virginia could take its place in the national Republican formula. Democrats are still the favorites to retain control, and the GOP would need a perfect election night to gain the ten seats they need to overturn the Senate, but West Virginia may be one state that very well comes through for them on November 2nd.

Hoffman Bows Out; NY Now Highly Competitive

The Republicans may have climbed at least one step closer to their goal of regaining control of the House of Representatives yesterday when Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman ended his congressional campaign in New York (upstate NY-23 district). In the 2010 primary, Hoffman came close to winning the GOP nomination after securing the Conservative Party nomination, but was nipped at the end by wealthy businessman Matt Doheny.

Right after the mid-September primary, Hoffman said he would pursue a full-fledged campaign to attempt to win the seat solely on the Conservative Party ballot line, but with polls showing that the three-way contest would almost assuredly re-elect Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY), Hoffman decided to end his campaign and endorsed Doheny. If the Republicans/Conservatives now unite behind Doheny, who also carries the Independence Party line, this race will go from a clear Democratic advantage to a toss-up if not all the way to Lean R. Owens is now in serious trouble because the seat historically votes Republican.

Those Wacky, Crazy Illinois Polls

Three pollsters just simultaneously surveyed the Illinois statewide political landscape and came up with decidedly different results. Suffolk University, Market Shares Corp. for the Chicago Tribune, and Public Policy Polling were all in the field from Sept. 23 – Oct. 3. In the Governor’s race, both Suffolk and Market Shares actually found embattled Gov. Pat Quinn (D) to be reclaiming the lead over state Sen. Bill Brady (R), after trailing for several weeks. Suffolk projected Quinn’s best margin; a 43-37% result. Still, an incumbent in the low 40s is a poor sign, and this is the top number for the Democrat who replaced impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) and barely won the Democratic nomination in February. Market Shares gives Quinn only a 39-38% advantage. Public Policy Polling, coming in with numbers more in line with other recent studies, gives Republican Brady a 42-35% lead.

The Senate numbers are similar. Market Shares finds state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D) leading Rep. Mark Kirk (R) by just two points, 38-36%. Suffolk and PPP have Kirk ahead. Suffolk scores it 42-41% for the Republican and PPP finds Kirk’s advantage to be a mere four points, 40-36%. With companion polls forecasting different leaders, these two races are still anybody’s game with less than a month of campaign time remaining. Watch for a photo finish in both for both Governor and the Senate.