The Battle for America 2010: Election Day

CALIFORNIA

Key Races: Governor, U.S. Senate

Tim Daniel reporting:

One day before what may be the most historical midterm election in generations, both the U.S. Senate and governor races appeared to be bucking the national incumbent-booting/tea party trend.

The success of the two campaigns on Tuesday will hinge on enthusiastic Republican and independent voter turnout. However, fewer California independents and straying Democrats are narrowing the enthusiasm gap for Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina.

A Rasmussen October 29 poll shows the gubernatorial race tightening, with Jerry Brown at 49% and Meg Whitman at 45%. These results move the race from "leans Democrat" to the "tossup" column at Rasmussen. Meg Whitman's improvement is juxtaposed against last week's 48% - 42% Brown vs. Whitman numbers.

Real Clear Politics still has the race as "leans Dem," with a 6.6% weighted lead for Jerry Brown.

A Rasmussen October 28 poll shows Carly Fiorina at 46% and Barbara Boxer polling at 49%, a clear continuation of the tossup Rasmussen status of the race. Real Clear Politics also has the race as tossup and Boxer with a 5% weighted lead. Nate Silver thinks that a Fiorina win is highly unlikely. My humble prediction, in clear defiance of the speculators at Intrade, is that Carly Fiorina takes the race by a slim margin.

Republicans in California will always face a steep uphill challenge, but anything can happen.

According to Pollster.com, Proposition 8, the same-sex marriage ban proposition, polled a negative 5% before voters headed to the polls. It then passed by 5 + percentage points. It would not surprise me if support for Fiorina and Whitman is understated by California polling respondents due to a reluctance to publicly admit Republican support in such a liberal state.

Quicklinks:

Pay for Indian Abramoff-Casino Play, Boxer -- Barbara Boxer and her son Doug Boxer played a key role in a Jack Abramoff-esque scandal in the Bay Area. The Hill reported the details and then mysteriously scrubbed the story. Proof Positive writes about the scandal here.

Dear Teachers, Boxer Needs Students -- In case you missed it at PJM, Barbara Boxer's campaign was caught red-handed soliciting Los Angeles area schools, urging students to "volunteer" for the Boxer campaign, thereby breaking campaign law.

Bill Maher, Pass the Joint -- Proposition 19 looks to be failing even as national support for marijuana legalization reaches an all-time high. That didn't stop actor Zach Galifianakis from lighting up on Bill Maher's show on HBO in a show of support for Prop. 19. Also read Jack Dunphy's PJM piece on Proposition 19.

All aboard the Van Tran Train -- In case you missed it, I interviewed California CD-47's Van Tran for PJTV.

Jan Brewer, Please Stay -- The Arizona governor is taking 24 hours away from her campaign to attend oral arguments in a San Francisco courtroom, listening in on the Obama administration's challenge to SB 1070.

Jerry Brown to We the People, "Inadequate" -- At a November 1 campaign stop in San Diego, Jerry Brown said that he was willing to govern people "openly committed to their inadequate ideas."

CONNECTICUT

Key Race: U.S. Senate

Jane Genova reporting:

CT U.S. SENATE RACE ENDS ON SAME OLD TUNE

The media headlines tell it all: a rehash of all the same themes playing throughout this campaign.

Of course, one of those themes is GOP candidate’s Linda McMahon’s wealth. That’s ironic since Democratic candidate Richard Blumenthal also has wealth, thanks to his wife’s family money made in real estate. That includes being a part owner of the Empire State Building. Incidentally, both candidates live in upper middle class Greenwich.

The television ads continue with their negative attacks, only more of them. The only new emphasis is on Linda McMahon’s humanity. Two, including one in which her daughter speaks, focus on how the family had at one time lost it all financially so the candidate understands the plight of the state’s workers.

The robo calls from Linda McMahon continue to come around dinner time.

The rallies, such as the one led by President Barack Obama in Bridgeport, just underscore that this race is ending with a whimper, not a bang. Not of the bigs imported to stump for the two candidates dazzle us.

If there is a surprise it will be that McMahon wins. Like the other female candidate branded by her wealth -- Meg Whitman -- McMahon looks like the underdog right now.

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.

NEVADA

Key Race: U.S. Senate

John Ransom reporting:

Hey, the Democratic Party cares about you.” That’s the message Reid canvassers are taking to the street in an 11th hour bid to return the Senate majority leader back to D.C. GOP challenger Sharron Angle, however, maintains a lead in the polls, according to the latest Fox News survey, 48 percent to 45 percent. Dem polling outfit PPP, however, shows Angle with only a 1-percentage point lead. A Reid loss would be the highest-ranking Senate defeat in 58 years, topping Democrat Tom Daschle’s defeat in 2004. At the time, Daschle was Senate minority leader.

The winner in the Silver State will largely be determined by get out the vote operations today. Unions are flexing their muscles in the state, calling Reid a “champion” of organized labor and taking center stage in mobilizing Nevada’s union workers to get out and vote.

"Sharron Angle wouldn’t even be a contender in this race if it weren’t for the millions from secret, corporate donors," says Richard Trumka, the president of AFL-CIO. "I’ve got one question for you: Are you going to let corporate CEOs buy Harry Reid’s seat? Are you? I didn’t think so!” No, unions would prefer that organized labor buy the seat with public tax dollars.

Michelle Obama echoed the sentiments of union leaders in a public appearance on Monday: "My husband, he can't do this alone. He needs leaders like Harry Reid," to help pass the Obama agenda.

So far, Democrats maintain an advantage in early voting statewide by about 18,000 votes. With independent voters breaking for Angle, that’s probably not enough for a Reid win. Independent voters account for 16 percent of the voters so far.

Angle’s campaign is countering with the message: “Now it’s our turn.” After four years of Obama-inspired “change,” the Angle campaign is counting on statewide disgust with record unemployment, foreclosures, and bankruptcies to send Reid back to Searchlight, NV, the small southern Nevada town from which he hails.

More than just a referendum on Obama’s economic policies, the Reid-Angle race is likely the first skirmish in a long war between those who wish to continue to expand the role of government and those who wish to reduce government in real terms.  Angle has been called a “perennial candidate” by liberal Time magazine. Time seems to struggle with the idea that a candidate like Angle might appeal to voters on an ideological basis, and not just because of the Democrats mishandling of the economy.

It’s a mistake Time’s made before: a messaging mistake by liberal elites that helped another “perennial candidate” win election.

That man was Ronald Regan. And the date was November 4, 1980.

NEW YORK

Key Races: Governor, US Senator

Sam Foster reporting:

An armed assailant was arrested after threatening Jill Rowland (Republican candidate for NY-28) with a weapon and only Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit reported it.  Although I contacted several NY news contacts, none reported it, though one assured me that they were “disturbed.”

As one cone of silence erects around NY-28, the one surrounding Maurice Hinchey finally fell … sort ofChris Gibson surged 27 points to lead Democrat Scott Murphy by 9. Speaking of surging, Matt Doheny has pulled even with Bill Owens and Republican Richard Hanna cuts Mike Arcuri’s small lead by three. Nan Hayworth and John Hall remain locked in a dead heatInternal polling for Randy Altschuler has him within two of incumbent Tim Bishop.

The latest Siena poll has put the governor’s race out of reach for Carl Paladino and likewise Joe DioGuardi’s bid against Kirsten Gillibrand seems increasingly unlikely. The glimmer of hope for NY State is in the NY Senate, which is leaning strongly for Republican control.

TEXAS

Key Races: Governor, U.S. House

Bryan Preston reporting:

Since our last update, there has been little change in Texas' political environment: Democrats are on the defensive as their seats are moving more and more into jeopardy. Going into Election Day, according to my sources the early vote totals have been devastating for Democrats. Roughly 75% of independent voters broke for the GOP, and of those, about a quarter had been Democratic voters in the 2008 primary. On a more anecdotal level, the respective Republican and Democratic phone banking operations have experienced wildly divergent call rates, with the Republicans having made in the neighborhood of five times as many phone bank calls as the Democrats. That tells us a few things about both operations. Since both are staffed primarily by volunteers, the Republicans simply had more volunteers who made far more calls than the Democrats. That means far more households were reached with the GOP message. And as a measure of voter enthusiasm, the party difference is off the charts. This difference is showing up in the polls, which have previously safe-ish Democratic seats like TX-27 coming up as in play. I now expect that Gov. Perry will be easily re-elected, and the Republicans will pick up 2 to 5 U.S. House seats and perhaps a dozen state House seats. Realistically, 7 to 9 state House seats should move from D to R. The Republicans will also elect one or more Hispanic candidates to the U.S. House, and a few to the state House, which may reinforce their message that as the conservative party, they are the natural home for the majority of the state's Hispanic voters, the majority of whom are conservative according to recent polling.

In the two election cycles prior to 2010, the Democrats had made substantial gains in the state House and were beginning to reverse or at least slow their local losses. This year's election will erase those gains. The Democrats will fail to win a statewide race, they will lose ground in the state House, and they will continue to lose ground at the local level. It will take them several years to recover from this. It's clearer now more than ever that the Matt Angle style of Shadow Party politics is simply no way to rebuild a political party, at least not in Texas. Issues matter, and the Texas Democrats are simply on the wrong side of every major issue of interest to the majority of Texas voters. Their leadership cast their lot with the "progressive" wing of the party when the Blue Dog faction has much more in common with most Texans. That choice seems to have led the Texas Democratic Party into the abyss for a few more election cycles.

VIRGINIA

Key Race: U.S. House

Mary Beth Niemeyer reporting:

According to Politico, VA-5 was somewhat unwisely thrust in the spotlight by the shovels of the DCCC.   This district, so narrowly flipped in 2008, has been declared firewall of the formerly Solid South. Money poured into Perriello’s war chest in exchange for his obedient voting record, and Obama himself stopped into bright blue Charlottesville to rally what’s remained of his base.  Hurt was thrilled at the opportunity to wipe the stench of the president’s low approval ratings all over the incumbent, and Perriello’s poll numbers haven’t moved much amongst independents. Although early voting numbers show Perriello with a meaty lead, those who hold out until Tuesday seem to be breaking for Hurt with a large enough margin to overcome his initial lead.