The Battle for America 2010: Election Day

FLORIDA

Key Races: Governor, U.S. Senate

Stephanie Maier reporting:

As Alex Sink and Rick Scott battled it out last week in their final debate before Election Day, a Quinnipiac University poll showed them still stuck in an unpredictable tie as voters go to the polls today, 44% to 43%, respectively.

The same debate later garnered accusations from Rick Scott accusing Alex Sink of “cheating” by receiving a text message during the debate, a clear violation of the rules. At first Sink excused her actions by stating that she didn’t know the subject matter of the text, and that as a mother she was concerned for her daughter, still in Europe at the time. As it turns out, however, the text was indeed from a staffer attempting to give Sink some on-the-spot advice concerning the debate. The staffer was apparently fired following the episode, but such desperate methods from Sink’s campaign team cannot be helpful at this late stage.

Both candidates of course made a mad sweep of the state over the weekend and on Monday, with Scott holding a small early morning rally in Fort Myers. Sink planned to inspire the base in her hometown of St. Petersburg Monday night.

Perhaps the inability of either candidate to break the deadlock lies in their rather lackluster strategies to paint themselves as good ol’ hometown folks. Throughout the campaign, Sink has stated publicly over and over as well as in debates and television spots that she’s “still that girl that grew up on a family farm.” Meanwhile, Scott has aired what he must consider to be his best endorsements, spots by his wife of thirty-three years and his mother, who smiles and says of her son: “He’s a good boy!”

Meanwhile Sink continues to attack Scott’s character with the tenacity of a bulldog, and Scott continues hammering home that Sink is nothing more than a Tallahassee insider and Obama lackey. It has become far too easy to watch the commercials on mute and still know the speech from both camps,

While close numbers are the challenge for some, independent Charlie Crist and Democrat Kendrick Meek have the opposite problem in the Senate race against Republican Marco Rubio, favored in most polls to win by a hugely comfortable margin. If Rasmussen is correct, Rubio goes into Election Day with a 50% favorable over Crist’s dismal 30%, while Meek is hardly in the picture with 16%.

Such numbers bear out the controversy of last week, when a voice mail recording from Crist to Meek was released, asking if Meek would hold a private meeting with Crist at an upcoming rally. The subject, according to Meek, was that of Crist asking him to drop out of the race in order to free up Democratic voters to support the independent candidate Crist over Republican Marco Rubio. While Meek has denied many times that he would ever drop out of the race, the move possibly looked like one of last-minute desperation on the part of the Crist camp.

A Reuters poll shows similar dismal numbers for Crist and Meek, predicting a big win for Tea Party favorite Rubio, adding to predicted key wins for Republicans nationwide. Reuters stated: “National opinion polls show the Republicans on track to win enough seats to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives, which could put the brakes on President Barack Obama's legislative agenda. Surveys show Democrats are also likely to lose Senate seats but they may keep a slim majority.”

ILLINOIS

Key Race: U.S. Senate

Bill Baar reporting:

Democratic Public Policy Polling’s (PPP)  latest poll shows Republican Mark Kirk ahead, 46-42. The reasons aren’t complicated. Independents are leaning towards Kirk by a 46-31 margin. Republicans are more unified with 87% of Republicans planning to vote for Kirk, while only 78% of Democrats are planning to vote for Giannoulias. Finally, Obama carried Illinois with a 25% margin but those likely to vote this election only support President Obama by a 14% margin. PPP finds that spread an indicator Obama supporters will be staying home.

Prognosticators over at the Democratic leaning Capital Fax blog seem to be capitulating too on this race by responding 30 to 6 in Kirk’s favor in their predictions (as of 3:47pm on November 1).

If Kirk wins, it’ll be because he did it the tireless way. Republican volunteers called lots of Illinois voters to ask for their votes.  NBC reports:

"We've stayed under the radar until now," said Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady.  "But we lead every other state in the number of phone calls we've made -- 4.4 million. And we've identified 2.5 million Republican voters."

The phones in this paperless center are small computers in which the caller can push a button, log a "yes" or "no" or "already voted" response to whether they fall into the GOP column.

The data is immediately uplinked, collected, analyzed, and refined to further target people the Republicans can get to the polls.

"I'm used to losing," said Brady.  But, he believes, he won't need to be used to anything but winning this year.

Giannoulias and the Democrats are preparing for a recount and have started mailing Freedom of Information Act Requests. It’s an unusual request and a sign of where the Giannoulias camp thinks this race is going.

Hopefully the GOP wave saves Illinois from recounts and lawyers with a healthy margin of victory for Kirk.

I’m sticking with my bet of Kirk by five points and I say this race will be called by 8:30PM. I’m feeling those vibrations from that wave rumbling towards us.

MARYLAND

Key Races: Governor, U.S. House

Michael Swartz reporting:

The pre-election polls are done here in Maryland, and now the challenge for both parties is to get out their vote. With the state's first edition of early voting now out of the way (it concluded last Thursday), we may be able to glean some data from those who showed up. Overall, more than 219,000 voters took advantage of early voting.

Despite the conventional wisdom of Republican excitement, statewide Democrats in Maryland showed up in a larger percentage than Republicans (7.17% to 6.32%). Yet perhaps that could be due to a lack of compelling races on the ballot because the voters in CD-1 -- which features the state's most competitive Congressional race, a contest where incumbent Democrat Frank Kratovil is trying to hold on to his seat against state Senator Andy Harris -- were much more likely to vote and, in all but three of the district's 12 counties, the GOP had the larger early voting turnout by percentage.

That Kratovil-Harris race seems to be grabbing most of the attention since Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley assumed a 10-point lead in the last pre-election Rasmussen poll and incumbent Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski has hardly been challenged by Queen Anne's County Commission President Dr. Eric Wargotz.

Unfortunately, Maryland, for all its beauty, is saddled with too few Republican and independent voters for them to have much of an impact. To give you an idea of the sort of state it is consider that, without a single vote being cast, Democrats already have a 15-4 advantage in the state Senate and a 34-4 bulge in the House of Delegates -- Republicans couldn't even field a challenger for a significant number of the 47 Senate seats and 141 House of Delegates spots available. Democrats need only pick up 9 of the remaining 28 Maryland Senate spots and 37 of the 103 seats yet available in the House of Delegates to maintain their seemingly eternal strangleholds on those bodies. (In truth, we've only fought a Civil War since the last time Democrats didn't rule those chambers.)

Yet the Democrats aren't satisfied with their prospective victories and are trying to place their thumbs firmly on the scale. In the Kratovil-Harris race, the most newsworthy event over the last week was a mailing promoting the Libertarian candidate in the race, Dr. Richard Davis. Problem was the mailing didn't come from the Maryland Libertarian Party (which was irate over the matter) but the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. They surely recall the spoiler role Davis played in that race back in 2008, where he garnered nearly 9,000 votes in a contest won by just under 3,000.

And if you're in charge of the state highway department, why not call in workers and pay overtime to have them do a little highway beautification? Seems like the blue of Ehrlich's signs isn't a good hue in Maryland but O'Malley's signature day-glo green is the fashionable color to state highway workers in Montgomery County, Maryland's far-left loony bin.

It makes you wonder whether the votes will be counted the same way.