Much has been written about which party will control the US Senate in the next Congress and, with seven pure toss-up races on the political board, there’s plenty of room for conjecture on both sides of the ideological aisle.
Let’s take a look at the aggregate Senate campaign picture, remembering that the Republicans must retain all of the seats they currently possess (15 in this election cycle) and convert six Democratic states just to reach the minimum majority level. Democrats will maintain control if the two parties deadlock at 50-50 (including the Independents who will caucus with one party or the other). The Dems hold power in such a situation because Vice President Joe Biden (D), the constitutional Senate president, will break any tie vote in his party’s favor.
The model also assumes Republican conversion victories in three Democratic retirement seats, Montana (Sen. John Walsh), South Dakota (Sen. Tim Johnson), and West Virginia (Sen. Jay Rockefeller). A three-way contest in South Dakota could Continue reading >
As had been predicted by Kansas political observers since the original judicial hearing earlier this week, the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of former Democratic Senate nominee Chad Taylor’s petition to withdraw from the statewide race. Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), who refused to remove Taylor because he is not incapacitated to the point of being unable to fulfill the duties of the office sought as mandated in Kansas election law, says the Democrats have eight days to replace Taylor. The party leadership’s political goal of having Taylor withdraw is to form a united coalition behind Independent candidate Greg Orman who was proving himself stronger than their own nominated contender. Clearly their calculations showed that incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts (R) had the path to victory in a three-way race.
The Kansas Supreme Court, a panel of six justices (with one vacancy) dominated by former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ (D) appointees, issue rather bizarre language to support their decision. The justices unanimously said that, “[w]e conclude the plain meaning of ‘pursuant to (the law)’ Continue reading >
Democratic nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes just launched a new television ad to strike back against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s hard-hitting campaign against her. But the ad likely misses its mark. In reality, the message context may be reinforcing her opponent’s points instead of scoring some of her own.
Grimes, reciting her lines as she’s shooting skeet ostensibly to prove that she can handle a gun, directly responds to being painted a rubber stamp for the president by simply saying she’s not Barack Obama. Though the script takes an offensive tone, attempting to turn the tables on McConnell, the message fails. If anything, Grimes underscores the Republican attacks against her: that she supports Obama whose job approval score in Kentucky is 2:1 negative, while reiterating the charges that she is soft on guns and the EPA anti-coal regulations.
The campaign ad fails because it repeats the attacks being made against the candidate, and then likely leads the viewer to ask questions rather than providing answers.
“Message for Begich”
In a new ad, the Dan Sullivan (R) campaign attempts to repel Sen. Mark Begich’s (D) attacks that he (Sullivan) is an outsider who knows little about the “real Alaska”. Begich has been hitting Sullivan because he hasn’t personally lived in Alaska long, even though his wife, Julie Fate Sullivan, and her family have been mainstays in the state for years.
The theme of the ad, narrated by Mrs. Sullivan, is that Begich is attacking his opponent for being away on military duty and in State Department service. Whether this explanation completely covers where Dan Sullivan lived or for how long he’s been an Alaskan is unclear, but will undoubtedly be a topic of further discussion.
The ad is moderately effective because it attempts to change the dynamic when answering an attack. It will be interesting to see how Begich’s campaign responds, and whether the incumbent can again shift attention toward Sullivan’s lack of a sufficiently long Alaska history.
http://youtu.be/F_JqmuNkZ30 “Ernst: Really Cares”
Democrats and outside organizations have been attacking Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst for wanting to “cut Social Security and Medicare.” Ernst responds to the attacks by not directly mentioning them. Rather, she extols her support for Social Security as a fundamental goal and attempts to deflect the direct attacks subtly, through what should be perceived as a positive ad.
Hearing the exact opposite message from what is being launched in attacks will likely leave many viewers confused, which is a far better alternative than seeing a clear negative image.
The Ernst campaign presents an interesting approach, but a routine positive ad is often not memorable. The ad’s underlying purpose is to let voters see the candidate and encourage voters to form a positive image of Ms. Ernst, not necessarily through the ad’s script or the state legislator’s words, but through an image that can be seen and heard. The goal is to present the candidate as a disarming person, convincing the viewer that she would never harm those earning government transfer payments.
The Ernst counter is certainly acceptable, but not particularly memorable. Therefore, the ad does not fully cement the campaign’s stated goals in the viewers’ minds.
As we pass Labor Day and enter into Election 2014 stretch drive mode, it appears that four US Senate races are polling within one point. In Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana and North Carolina, a polling conglomeration over the last several weeks points to consistently dead-even contests.
Another race, in Alaska, could join this group, but their late primary (Aug. 19) has only yielded an official nominee for a short period. Once the polling crystallizes around Sen. Mark Begich (D) and former Attorney General and Natural Resources Department director Dan Sullivan (R) as the two official candidates, a more consistent close race will likely formulate. The recent polling history, virtually all of which was conducted before the state primary, has yielded inconsistent results.
Right now, it is clear that Republicans will gain seats in the US Senate, but will they score well enough on the conversion front to wrest a small majority away from the Democrats? Such is the major question that will be answered in the next two months.
If one considers that the GOP will likely hold its two vulnerable seats in Georgia Continue reading >
Polls are coming fast and furiously now, and will continue to do so throughout the remaining portion of summer and onto Election Day. Four post-primary surveys were just released that project flat ties or close contests between the various Democratic and Republican nominees, and each fit at least tangentially into the surprise category.
A poisonous political atmosphere exists between Kansas conservative and moderate Republicans, which is partially responsible for veteran Sen. Pat Roberts winning an underwhelming 48-41 percent primary victory over physician Milton Wolf. A new Rasmussen Reports poll (Aug. 6-7; 750 likely Kansas voters) gives the incumbent only a 44-40 percent lead over newly nominated Democratic candidate Chad Taylor, the Shawnee County District Attorney. Taylor, too, scored an anemic primary win (53-47 percent), but his standing right after the Aug. 5 vote is much better than Kansas voting history would suggest.
The Rasmussen numbers also reflect Republican weakness in the governor’s race. Despite a better-than-expected showing in his primary (63 percent), Gov. Sam Continue reading >
Going into the post-primary Iowa District 3 Republican convention, called to select a nominee because no candidate reached 35 percent in the June 3 primary, we knew that anything could happen. Therefore, it is hard to call former Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) chief of staff David Young a surprise winner, but the new nominee’s previous finish of fifth in the primary election and fourth on the first convention ballot Saturday certainly didn’t make him the favorite.
As so often happens in convention politics, a pattern develops where the early front-runner loses to someone with coalition-forming ability coming from well behind. And this very scenario played out in Des Moines over the weekend.
With 497 Republican delegates voting on the fifth and final ballot, Young scored a 55 percent victory (276-221) over state senator and 2010 congressional nominee Brad Zaun, who landed as the first place-finisher in the primary as well as on four convention ballots. Though Zaun out-polled the other five primary candidates with 24.6 percent of the vote, he was nowhere near obtaining the necessary 35 percent to win the nomination.
For his part, though Sen. Zaun says he will fully support Young in the general election, Continue reading >