The Battle for America 2010: Round-Up at September's End
Key Races: Governor, U.S. Senate, U.S. House CA-47
Tim Daniel reporting:
The hot topic of discussion this week in California national politics was an incendiary, racist diatribe bombshell dropped by 47th Congressional District incumbent Loretta Sanchez in Orange County:
"El Vietnamese y los republicanos tratando de tomar distancia de nosotros este asiento." Translation: "The Vietnamese and the Republicans are trying to take away this seat from us."
Rep. Sanchez (D-CA) ostensibly was soliciting Hispanic votes and assumed that no one out of the Spanish-only Univision audience would take note of her Spanish attack. Since Sanchez ousted 6-term ''B-1 Bob Dornan" in 1996, California's CD-47 has been made home to increasing numbers of Vietnamese immigrants who may turn away from her due to her racist tirade. "Little Saigon" in her district has always leaned rightward and polling is tight. Sanchez has also came under fire for "not having time for constituents" yet letting-it-all-hang-out with Hugh Hefner at the Playboy Mansion. She is known for her "Pet The Cat" Christmas mailer and a variety of sultry scandals surrounding her.
As the saying goes, "so goes California, so goes the nation." "High" times seem to be coming to California as Proposition 19, the "Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010," is leading by 9 points.
The San Francisco Chronicle failed to endorse either Senate candidate in California. According to the Chronicle, Senator Barbara Boxer is ineffective, incompetent, has practically no record of accomplishment, and has desperately opted to go after Fiorina's wealth instead of substantive issues. However, only in San Francisco would an entire paper's editorial board opine such on Boxer but then consider Carly Fiorina to be a wild-eyed, far-righty extremist. Thanks for clearing up the confusion, Chronicle.
Proving that anything can happen, a new Los Angeles Times/USC poll shows both Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer gaining traction in their respective races. Taken between September 15-22, the poll shows Boxer/Fiorina at 51% to 43% and Brown/Whitman at 49% to 44%, respectively. However, I am more-than-suspicious of the described "Hispanic weighting/sampling" that took place behind the polling scenes (scroll down here -- what do you think?). New campaign ads debuted this week as well -- Boxer doubles down on the "outsourcing" meme in a new campaign video and Carly Fiorina strikes back with new "Yes ma'am" attack ad.
Proposition 23, the petition to suspend the state's global warming law, is a statistical tie. According to reports recently released, it is being used as an excuse to hold up Sacramento's state budget process. According to Lorraine Yapps Cohen in the Examiner, lawmakers and the Governator himself are holding the state's fiscal house as hostage in order to strong-arm business support away from Proposition 23. Perhaps think of it as Ahnold's last RINO-hoorah.
Los Angeles Times: Loose lips sink liberal ships -- Jerry Brown's loose moonbeam.
WSJ: Add a little water and watch it grow -- San Joaquin Valley likely battleground area in the Fiorina/Boxer match.
IBD: Smelt like dead fish -- Turn on the water, Boxer
Key Race: U.S. Senate
CT GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate Linda McMahon had her chance to embrace the Tea Party but didn’t. Instead, this former WWE executive has put together her own unique way to ride the anti-establishment wave to be where Quinnipiac poll director Douglas Schwartz describes as “surprisingly close” to winning.
Polls from Quinnipiac and USA Today show her Democrat opponent, state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, with only a six-point lead. Political experts like Robert Dougherty of AP predict Blumenthal, though well-liked, “could get caught in the crossfire” between familiar political brand names and fed-up voters. In addition, Blumenthal is known to be anti-business, McMahon, a former entrepreneur, to be pro-business. It might be a plus for her in a state needing more economic development that unions oppose her.
Given political newbie McMahon’s performance, it’s no surprise she’s attracted top media attention. That ranges from the Wall Street Journal to a five-page spread in the New York Times Magazine. She’s being taken seriously, particularly as a phenomenon which signals shifts in the state’s policies. McMahon could evolve as the Sarah Palin with more substance. It’s also no surprise that Democratic Big Foots have come to Connecticut to support Blumenthal. The latest is Bill Clinton (Blumenthal and Clinton do have odd military histories in common). Since Clinton’s popularity is in the midst of a resurgence, his visit might actually be helpful, as opposed to the poll-challenged Barack Obama’s visit a few weeks ago.
A sign of the revolutionary political times, Ted Kennedy Jr. criticized McMahon for using 1963 footage of JFK’s support of tax cuts in a web ad, but he didn’t get any traction in the media. Kennedy lives in Connecticut and contended that her video misled voters into thinking the late president would have endorsed her tax position.
Meanwhile, as was anticipated, negative ads on both sides now dominate television. Blumenthal directs the fire at McMahon's identity as the supposed businesswoman. He portrays her as about “Profits, not People” and claims she laid off 10 percent of WWE workers, while taking home $46 million. Her ads attack Blumenthal policies as not financially good for the average Joe. For example, they allegedly increased household energy costs almost $1000 annually. The bottom line on the negative advertising is that McMahon can way outspend Blumenthal.
Key Races: Gov, U.S. Senate, U.S. House
Republican Rick Scott has opened a six-point lead on Democrat Alex Sink in the race for governor, and Marco Rubio is well out in front in the Senate race while the man once thought to be invincible in Florida, Charlie Crist, is a man without a party who faces scandal and lawsuits.
But the big news in Florida is in FL-8, where Alan Grayson has managed to top himself in the "repulsive blowhard" category. The Democrat who infamously smeared the Republicans' approach to health care reform as "die quickly" (that's actually part of the Democrats' plan, via rationing and Medicare cuts), is touting a bogus poll showing him with a 13-point lead over Republican challenger Daniel Webster, whom Grayson is now calling "Taliban Dan" in the most dishonest, ridiculous political ad in a long while. Roll tape.
Grayson not only misused the video of Webster to make him say something he didn't say, he had already smeared him as a Vietnam draft-dodger. FL-8 thus earns the distinction of being the dirtiest campaign in the nation, with all the dirt coming from the Grayson side.
Update: There's a new poll showing Webster up by 7 over Grayson.
Key Race: U.S. Senate
Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Mark Kirk remained locked in a tight race. Rasmussen’s last poll showed Kirk ahead 3 points at 44%. Independent LeAlan Jones dropped to 4%, and 8% were undecided.
Illinois pundit Rich Miller slammed the media for obsessing over Rahm’s bid to be Chicago’s mayor instead of covering the elections when “the nation is mired in its worst economic period since the Great Depression and we have two U.S. Senate candidates and several congressional candidates who need to be more closely examined.”
Giannoulias phoned in a press conference for fear close examination would find him in a “bad-hair” day, assuring reporters tomorrow would be live in Chicago because: "Hopefully my hair'll cooperate with me."
The Chicago FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force was in full examination mode combing through peace activists' drawers in 12-hour long searches, including one at the home of Joe Iosbaker, the chief steward for Local 73 of the SEIU.
SEIU had backed Giannoulias against David Hoffman in the primary, giving Giannoulias a much needed burst in support. Righty pundits are writing that the media is scrubbing Iosbaker’s SEIU links because it’s time to overlook, not examine, the long partnership of the SEIU and Illinois Democrats.
Angry anti-war progressives demonstrating solidarity with Iosbaker might want to take Miller’s plea to examine to heart and visit the campaign websites of Giannoulias and Kirk. Giannoulias offers some foreign policy views a progressive wouldn't like:
I supported the President's decision to increase troop levels as part of a larger military and political strategy to defeat the Taliban insurgency and permanently expel al Qaeda from Afghanistan.
The people of Iran have shown that they are eager for democratic reforms and respect for human rights. In its attempt to shift the focus from its own failings, the regime continues its campaign against Israel’s right to exist, and supports the work of terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah.
Our first commitment in the Middle East must be the security of Israel, our strongest ally in the region. Our governments are similarly based on beliefs in democracy and freedom — values that continue to be threatened by extremism and hate. The United States and Israel must remain unwavering partners in the shared struggle against terrorism and violence.
Kirk’s site finds the policy wafer-thin for most hawks. The first paragraph rehashes his career in the National Reserve (a career which has done nothing but trip up the congressman), followed by some bits on legislation passed. The reader’s eye is left to focus on a picture of the Top-Gun suited Kirk with nary a hair out of place.
Forty-five percent of Illinoisans polled told Rasmussen the Tea Party’s a good thing for America. That’s a remarkable vote-for-extremism from a bluest of blue state. The message seems to be that with a tough war and a sad economy, voters of all views -- even those Joe Iosbaker progressives -- are tired of politicians’ small obsessions. The wave’s coming.
Key Race: Governor
As the battle between Martin O'Malley and Bob Ehrlich proceeds over an extraordinarily small percentage of undecided voters -- 97 percent expressed a preference between the two in the latest Rasmussen poll -- gone missing in the discussion are issues like abortion or Second Amendment rights. A look at the candidates' issue pages shows this lack of attention.
Of course, the economy and jobs are the key issues, as they should be. But a large portion of the conservative vote that went to defeated GOP aspirant Brian Murphy came from the pro-life, pro-Second Amendment community which finds little to recommend Bob Ehrlich. In a state where Democrats already hold a 2:1 registration advantage, Ehrlich needs all GOP hands on deck. So don't be surprised to see some backchannel efforts from the O'Malley camp to persuade these conservative voters that they don't have a good choice in the election.
Yet with the abysmal turnout in the primary election (even with the addition of early voting), every vote is going to count more in November.
And now, we have a cover-up in the O’Malley administration.
And as Mark Newgent reported on the Red Maryland website, O'Malley's last effort at spin and damage control was too ham-handed to escape notice. “Whatever we can do to make (a negative July jobs report) disappear, we need to do it,” commented Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation Communications Director Bernie Kohn in an e-mail acquired by Newgent in a public information request.
While the Maryland GOP cried foul on the report’s pulling, Newgent dug in and came up with a timeline that reveals an attempt to cover up the damaging data. It flies in the face of the original story that the release was an “innocent mistake” and may lead voters to ask what other mistakes were made but not revealed. Or “disappeared.”
Key Race: U.S. Senate
John Ransom reporting:
The race between Republican Sharron Angle and Senator Harry Reid of Nevada has sometimes been billed as a brawl. Nevada is a state notable for its mean streets, boxing, and hard rock mining. Politics too is a high contact sport here. But still, no one expected an actual fistfight to break out during a Reid-Angle debate held at a Christian school.
Just as the debate was winding down at Faith Lutheran Junior/Senior High School in Summerlin, Nevada, on Thursday night, Reid and Angle supporters capped a night of incivility with pushing, shoving, and a punch or two. During the debate, Angle supporters, who dominated the audience, often met Reid’s answers, recorded via video, with audible derision. For their part, Reid’s denizens interrupted Angle, who appeared in person, with jeers. In all, it’s a reminder of the strained relationships between the left and the right and the middle during this election cycle. As a result, the public will be banned from a future debate hosted by the Nevada Broadcasters Association.
The Retail Association of Nevada released a public opinion survey last week showing Reid opening up a 5-percentage point lead on Angle amongst likely voters. Conducted by Republican pollster Public Opinion Strategies (POS), the poll of 500 voters has a margin of error of +/- 4.38 percent. Still, Angle’s camp remains upbeat, looking upon the poll as nothing more than statistical noise. The Las Vegas Review Journal and Rasmussen conducted surveys recently which show the race a statistical dead heat.
The POS survey said that 76 percent of likely voters in Nevada believe that the state is on the wrong track. Fifty-two percent of likely voters disapprove of the performance of President Barack Obama, while 51 percent have an unfavorable opinion of Harry Reid. Angle has an unfavorable rating of 52 percent. Given this data in the crosstabs, it’s unlikely that a large movement of voters has flocked to Reid.
Meanwhile, Reid took one more opportunity to remind lobbyists that he controls what goes in and out of the Senate. In a fundraising invitation sent out recently, Reid invited lobbyists to a luncheon with donation prices ranging from $1000 to $2500. This is the fourth such fundraiser Reid has held since the start of the August session, according to CQPolitics.
Key Races: U.S. Senate, Governor
Sam Foster reporting:
So is the gubernatorial race between Carl Paladino and Democrat Andrew Cuomo close or not? Read the throng of polls released last week and you’d have thought that the NY electorate was suffering from statewide bi-polar disorder. All polls showed Andrew Cuomo in the lead, but the question was, by how much? Rasmussen had the race 54-38; Q-Poll had it 49-43; Survey USA had it 49-40; Marist Poll had it 52-33; and Siena Poll had it 57-24. So what gives? Is it a 6-point race or a 33-point race?
Most of the differences from the polls spawn from two variables in polling methodology. The first is whether to include Rick Lazio as a third party candidate. Lazio, who was beaten during the Republican primary by Carl Paladino, only recently declared that he would not mount a third party challenge. Thus, the largest deficit polls, Marist and Siena, included Lazio as a polling choice, skewing the polls for Cuomo. Second, pollsters varied in polling registered voters versus likely voters. Siena’s 33 point gap was based off of registered voters, a model that highly favors Democrats in a state as blue as NY. Marist ran both a likely voter and registered voter poll side by side showing a 7-point variance skewing to Dems for the registered voter model.
Meanwhile, the Cuomo camp remains clueless in how to handle “Crazy” Carl Paladino. Heralding a more challenging political landscape, one of Cuomo’s key constituencies is revolting. It started when Elinor Tatum, editor-in-chief for the Amsterdam News, wrote a scathing open letter threatening that if Cuomo doesn’t make an effort to visit black neighborhoods, voters would refuse to show up in November. Trying to quell the perception growing in Harlem, Cuomo headed out on a PR tour that went less then favorably.
With all the drama surrounding NY’s race for governor, it’s no surprise that few have noticed one of NY’s Senate seats may now be in play. Last week’s polls showed that the race between Harry Reid’s favorite hottie, Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, and Joe DioGuardi was tightening, if not a dead heat.
Siena showed Tom Reed 14 points ahead in NY-29, also known as Eric “fracking” Massa’s old seat. Matt Doheny proved victorious over conservative Doug Hoffman in NY-23’s primary. Hoffman has promised to mount a third party run, but Tea Party support is fleeing. Still, even without grassroots support, Doug carried two of the eleven NY-23 counties by such wide margins, it’s hard to see how either candidate will topple incumbent Bill Owens. But then, the seat may not exist by 2012.
Key Race: US House PA-10
Joe Wilson reporting:
A question: who is more irrelevant to Pennsylvanians, Kevin Kolb, benched quarterback of the Eagles, or Joe Sestak, soon to be benched congressman from Philadelphia? At least for Kolb, the phone at Eagles’ HQ has been ringing off the hook from teams seeking help at the quarterback position. The Navy, so far, has not yet requested that the one-time admiral return to active duty.
An Obama fundraiser for Sestak’s Senate candidacy, so poorly attended that media observed that students were being given free tickets just to fill the house, revealed to the observant the not-terribly-well-concealed truth: a floundering president has not been a great deal of assistance to a flailing candidate. By all accounts, Sestak would have preferred help from the first lady (and she might do a better job); after the Messiah’s intervention, Sestak still trails Pat Toomey by a substantial margin. As for the “flail,” this week’s laughable effort from the Sestak camp was its attempt to tar him with the Club for Growth’s 2007 citation by the FEC for illegal lobbying. The problem, as ever, for Sestak and the Dems is that some people may actually read the FEC filing and the citation, helpfully hyperlinked by Sestak’s people. If the curious do, they will find that the majority of FEC complaints predate Toomey’s ascendancy to the Club for Growth. More to the point, Sestak’s tireless efforts to hang something on Toomey look increasingly desperate, as does his effort to claim to have distanced himself from Obama and the Democratic majority in Congress. (To counter, Toomey merely has to run a three-second quote from Sestak himself, claiming that he wants to be Obama’s strongest ally.) Meanwhile, Toomey’s own message of fiscal discipline and tax reduction resonates increasingly well around the Keystone State, and barring a late rush by the Democrat, Toomey should easily take the Senate seat for the Republicans.
Key Races: Governor, U.S. House
“Texas is open for business.” That’s the message that Republican Gov. Rick Perry is running his unconventional campaign on. The longest serving governor in Texas history presides over a state that leads in job creation, has one of the country’s lowest tax burdens, and has successfully positioned itself as one of the world’s energy leaders. Given all that, you might think that in a Republican state in a Republican year, such a Republican governor would be running away with the race, but the polls show Democrat Bill White staying competitive. Two things help explain this: Texas’ historical resistance to incumbency, and Texas’ historical resistance to incumbency. Only a handful of Texas governors have ever served more than one term, including Gov. Perry. Expect to hear more about Bill White’s openness to raising taxes and the scandals former Mayor White left back in Houston in the remaining weeks of the campaign.
Elsewhere in Texas, TX-17 is starting to look like a blowout. Republican challenger Bill Flores released a poll showing him up a whopping 19 points over Democratic incumbent Rep. Chet Edwards. Polls also show Republican challenger Francisco Canseco narrowly leading Democrat incumbent Rep. Ciro Rodriguez in TX-23. And in a shocker this week, Republican state House challenger Pat McGuiness released a poll showing a narrow lead for him over Democrat incumbent Mark Strama in state House district 50. As a bellwether, this is big. Strama was viewed as unbeatable as recently as a few months ago despite his affinity for President Obama. If Strama is vulnerable, every Democrat in every competitive district in the state is vulnerable. With Texas now set to gain four U.S. House seats after redistricting, the Republicans are looking to run up the score in the state House to ensure control over the maps and pickups in districts like 50 and nearby district 45, along with districts in the Dallas area that went Democrat in the Obama sweep of 2008.
Texas’ terrifying wild card: Houston. The state’s largest city is home to rampant voter registration fraud, a fire of as yet undetermined cause that destroyed all of the county’s voting machines, and home to Democratic governor nominee Bill White and ACORN’s own state rep. Houston is where the Democrats have gone all in to win, and the brewing chaos there could make Nov. 2 far more tense than anyone expected a month ago.
Key Race: U.S. House, VA-5
David Freddoso of the Washington Examiner has his ear to the ground on ad buys, and there’s been some movement in VA-5 … against Perriello, the Democrat. The NRCC has dropped in excess of $100,000 for “media” expenses in order to help Hurt unseat the incumbent. That’s significant — it’s a vote of confidence in Hurt’s campaign, and it gives him some breathing room in his campaign’s Quicken spreadsheet. Where Perriello does have an advantage, it’s in the war chest, and while the DCCC’s current silence on the matter doesn’t mean the ground has been ceded, it does mean that The Powers That Be in the Republican establishment feel comfortable in dropping some serious cash to lock down this probable pickup.