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Author Topic: It's over, says Stu Rothenberg  (Read 2865 times)
Nym90
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« on: October 28, 2008, 10:08:27 am »
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It’s Getting Bleaker for McCain, Worse for Hill Republicans

By Stuart Rothenberg

While major media outlets are hesitant to pronounce the presidential race over for fear of being harassed by Republicans and conservatives, there isn’t much doubt at this late date that it is over. Democratic Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) will be elected president in less than two weeks.

Previously undecided voters have now decided that Obama isn’t as risky a choice as they once thought, and that has changed the contest. Talk that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has been closing over the past week is simply not demonstrated in public and private polling. In fact, unreleased polls in a number of statewide and Congressional races show that McCain has weakened significantly over the past two weeks.

Obama is now over the crucial 50 percent mark in many credible national surveys, and public and private polling in key states from Wisconsin and Florida to Virginia and Colorado all show the same thing: The Democrat is now considerably over 270 electoral votes, and McCain is struggling to hold on to normally Republican states such as Indiana, North Carolina and Missouri.

Republicans, conservatives and some in the media (who don’t want the competitive race story to end) hang their hopes onto a poll here or there that shows a tight race. Those who want to believe Rasmussen’s national poll showing the presidential race at 4 points or the most recent Hotline survey showing Obama at only 47 percent can certainly do so, but the race is not that tight.

Two recent presidential polls in Florida, one by Fox News/Rasmussen and the other by SurveyUSA, showed McCain ahead in that state within the margin of error. They are more than balanced out in my own mind by a just as recent Republican poll in Florida that has not been released publicly and that showed Obama over the 50 percent mark and beating McCain by 8 points in the state.

But couldn’t things change in the final 10 days? Theoretically, yes. But the chance is so small as to be insignificant.

In what increasingly is looking like a historic election, Democrats continue to be headed for substantial victories in the House and Senate, though not everything has gone their way in the past week.

The revelation that Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-Fla.) has had multiple affairs, including at least one during his 2006 challenge to then-Rep. Mark Foley (R), has even Democrats uttering obscenities about the Congressman. GOP polling shows Mahoney is likely to be defeated by his Republican challenger, Tom Rooney.

In Senate races, there is remarkable agreement on the part of unbiased observers that Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens’ (R) chances of being re-elected have spiked after a trial in which the prosecution looked less than perfectly adept. But that race still hangs on the jury’s decision.

Still, Democrats are headed for huge gains in the Senate, and continuing competitive races in Kentucky, Mississippi and Georgia demonstrate how strongly the political landscape is tilted in their favor. Those three contests, plus races in North Carolina, Alaska and Minnesota, should determine whether Democrats reach the 60 mark in next year’s Senate.

So far, a five-seat Democratic pickup looks like a lock, with Democratic wins expected in Virginia, New Mexico, Colorado, New Hampshire and Oregon. A sweep of the other GOP Senate seats in play would give Democrats a double-digit gain. That’s certainly not the most likely scenario, but it is not impossible, because in a number of recent “wave” elections (including 2006), almost all of the close Senate races have been won by one party.

Obama’s weakness in Kentucky probably enhances Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R) chances of surviving, while the Democratic presidential nominee’s strength in Georgia, combined with Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ (R) late advertising and his delay in attacking Democratic challenger Jim Martin, puts the first-term Republican Senator at greater risk. The possibility of a runoff in the Georgia race if no candidate gets an absolute majority of total votes cast probably improves Chambliss’ ultimate prospects.

Democratic House prospects are almost as good, and after winning 30 seats in 2006, that’s noteworthy.

When I wrote a few weeks ago that Democratic gains in the 20-30 seat range were reasonable, some Democrats told me that I was way too far out on the limb, and one Democratic Congressman telephoned me to suggest that I had gotten carried away about Democratic chances.

But Democratic gains in that range still look very reasonable, even though Republicans now seem likely to knock off a few incumbent Democrats, including Mahoney, Rep Nick Lampson (Texas) and possibly Rep. Paul Kanjorski (Pa.).

GOP polling over the past couple of weeks shows McCain’s numbers worsening in many places, creating a problem for Republican strategists who hoped that the top of the ticket would be a considerable asset. Indeed, in some places, McCain has gone from an asset to a liability.

Democratic House gains of 27 to 33 seats now looks likely. This is the kind of wave election when even second- and third-tier candidates pull off upsets, and I’d expect that to happen this year. It would be only a guess to pick those winners, so all I can say is that a couple of long-shot Democratic upsets are likely as the party’s wave crashes ashore in 12 days.

Republican Congressional candidates will hope to stop the bleeding and improve their prospects in the campaign’s remaining days. But Democrats still have the momentum.
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« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2008, 10:27:10 am »
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It is nonsense to consider this election over. 
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« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2008, 11:40:05 am »
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It is nonsense to consider this election over. 

Obama is black, you see.
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« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2008, 11:50:32 am »
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It's been over for weeks now. Even half the Republicans have known it.
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« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2008, 11:57:23 am »
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Let me just put it this way, if McCain wins, I'll get everyone a Big MAC.
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« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2008, 12:34:25 pm »
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Let me just put it this way, if McCain wins, I'll get everyone a Big MAC.

Did you mean a Klondike Bar?  Or did you mean a Cupie Doll?

hehehe
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Nym90
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« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2008, 01:12:46 am »
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The Fat Lady Sings and Democrats Are Preparing to Rejoice
By Stuart Rothenberg

Although many in the media have acted as if the presidential contest were competitive, it’s been apparent for weeks that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has been headed for a clear win.

Call it a wave or a blood bath, as I did in this space almost a month ago, on Oct. 7 (“For Republicans, Another Blood Bath Looms on Horizon”), the combination of a strong anti-Republican mood, news events that fueled the public’s strong desire for change, and the Democrats’ huge financial and organizational advantage this cycle also guaranteed big Democratic House and Senate gains.

The presidential race has been a foregone conclusion since shortly after the nation’s financial crisis exploded in the news a little more than a month ago. The virtual elimination of national security as a top issue, combined with Obama’s coolness in the face of the public’s near hysteria, helped him close a deal that he previously had not closed.

Polling for the past few weeks has shown voters increasingly comfortable with the Illinois Democrat, giving him better and better reviews on a number of issues and characteristics. His favorability rating (56 percent positive/35 percent negative) in the Nov. 1-2 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll is better than Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.), and the two men are even on the question of who “has a background and a set of values that you can identify with” — down from a 10-point McCain advantage in August and a 6-point McCain advantage in the Sept. 19-22 poll.

Even more important, now a majority of whites, 51 percent, say Obama has the background and values with which they can identify. Reputable national polls have shown Obama lengthening his lead, and the polls’ internals show why that is happening.

While it certainly is true that this isn’t a national presidential election as much as it is 50 state elections, it’s unwise to ignore the national numbers and focus on much less reliable state polls, some of which allegedly show the race closing. Obama already appears to be over the 270 electoral vote mark, and if that’s the case, it doesn’t really matter if he wins Ohio or North Carolina.

The fights for the House and Senate were over well before the presidential contest was decided. We’ve known for months that this would be a good Democratic year. All that remained to be decided was exactly how good a Democrat year it would be.

Democratic gains of seven or eight Senate seats, with a decent shot at nine, have appeared likely for weeks, and that’s still where Democrats are. Senate races in Virginia, New Mexico, Colorado and New Hampshire have been over for months. Democratic challengers appear to have a distinct advantage in Alaska, North Carolina and Oregon.

A mini-comeback by Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) has all but erased the small but consistent advantage that Al Franken (D) has had for a few weeks, now making that state’s Senate race a pure tossup.

Obviously, to reach the psychologically important 60-seat mark Democrats will need to win two out of four competitive races: Minnesota, Mississippi, Kentucky and Georgia, a tall order given the Southern states’ political dynamics. But it isn’t impossible, especially in a wave election.

It’s certainly possible that we will all wake up Wednesday morning with Democrats gaining eight seats and Georgia headed for an early December runoff, with the outcome there determining whether Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) will have 60 seats or 59 seats (or 58, depending what Senate Democrats do about Connecticut Independent Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman).

In the fight for the House, anything from a Democratic gain in the mid-20s to a much bigger Democratic net gain of around 40 seems possible, with gains in the 27-33 seat range most likely.

Anyone wanting to chart the night might pay special attention to three groups of races.

First, there are the purest of tossups. If one party wins most of them, that will say something important about the overall results of the elections. Those districts include half a dozen Republican seats: open seats in Kentucky’s 2nd district, Maryland’s 1st, and New Jersey’s 7th, and re-election contests involving Rep. Steve Chabot (Ohio’s 1st), Thelma Drake (Virginia’s 2nd) and Dave Reichert (Washington’s 8th).

Second are a number of Republican seats that are tossups but that seem to favor Democrats ever so slightly, particularly in a wave election. If Republicans hold on to many of these districts, the night may not be as good for Democrats as many assume. These include three open seats — Minnesota’s 3rd district, New Jersey’s 3rd and Ohio’s 15th, along with the re-election bids of Reps. Michele Bachmann (Minnesota’s 6th), Christopher Shays (Connecticut’s 4th) and Jon Porter (Nevada’s 3rd).

Finally, there are GOP seats where the Republican has anything from a slight edge to a much more considerable advantage. If many of these seats fall to Democrats, Republicans could well lose 40 seats. These districts include Ohio’s 2nd (Rep. Jean Schmidt), South Carolina’s 1st (Rep. Henry Brown), Virginia’s 5th (Rep. Virgil Goode), Indiana’s 3rd (Rep. Mark Souder), California’s 3rd (Rep. Dan Lungren), and the open seat being vacated by Rep. Barbara Cubin (Wyo.).

Wave elections normally sweep in a number of candidates who, under normal circumstances, would not win in their own right. That’s likely to happen this year, especially given the Democrats’ financial advantage. A remarkable turnout for Obama could also benefit Democrats downballot.

If you are looking for upsets that few others are paying any attention to, be sure to keep an eye on the Louisiana Senate race, a couple of Texas House races (7th and 10th districts), Democratic Rep. John Murtha’s race, and the open seat in California’s 4th.

Finally, turnout (on both sides) remains a huge factor. Most observers and many pollsters have been expecting a spike in younger voters, African-Americans and first-time voters nationally. Whether that happens, and how big a spike that might be, will affect the bottom line today.
Stuart Rothenberg is the editor of the The Rothenberg Political Report, and a regular columnist for Roll Call Newspaper.
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