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Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Despite conventional wisdom, third-party campaigns aren't fading (October 22, 2014, 08:00 AM)

Leading Off:

? Polltopia: Third-party candidates in Senate and gubernatorial races do not seem to be fading away as Election Day approaches. In individual races, there are some races where it appears a third-party candidate is gaining, and some where the opposite is true, but in general it's difficult to tell because not all polls include all candidates. If we combine all the polling for all the races we see essentially no trend in either the local regression or the median. We visualize this in the chart above by Dreaminonempty, though note that is does not include AK-Gov or KS-Sen, where there is no Democrat running.

As of Saturday, there were 29 races in the Daily Kos Elections polling database with a third-party candidate at a post-Labor Day average of 5.0 percent or greater, including KS-Sen and AK-Gov but excluding LA-Sen. Note that races where the major-party share of the vote is less than 95 percent have had much larger polling errors in the past.

Daily Kos Elections ad roundup: With his career on the line, Lee Terry doubles down in Omaha (October 21, 2014, 02:58 PM)

Leading Off:

? NE-02: Republican Rep. Lee Terry and the NRSC recently made news for portraying Democrat Brad Ashford as weak on crime, airing a pair of controversial spots. Terry is doubling down in his newest ad.

Terry features Sgt. John Wells, president of the Omaha Police Officers Association, hitting Ashford for supporting the Good Time Law. Wells argues that Ashford's policies can get people killed by releasing violent criminals out onto the streets. Terry's poll numbers are reportedly shaky, and his party is worried about him, which helps explain why he's running these types of ads. Also for the GOP, Fuels America praises Terry for his support for alternative fuels.

On the other side, Ashford hits Terry's negative ads. Ashford features a quote from the Omaha World Herald vouching for Ashford on public safety.

Head below the fold for a roundup of campaign ads from races around the country.

RNC says Wisconsin voters are stupid ... then asks them to vote for Scott Walker (October 21, 2014, 10:09 AM)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at CPAC 2013.
We agree. This wasn't a smart choice.
Goal Thermometer
Early voting has begun in Wisconsin, and Mary Burke, Democratic challenger for the governor's seat, was at UW-Madison, rallying voters. She told supporters that she was starting her days at 4:30 in the morning and asked them for the same kind of enthusiasm, urging them to "be part of something incredible."

At the same time, the Republican National Committee sent in what must pass for the big guns for them in support of Gov. Scott Walker, and, well, she was maybe less than motivating.

Speaking at a Republican Party field office in Waukesha, the co-chair of the Republican National Committee talked up the closeness of the governor's race and the need to get Walker supporters to the polls.

Sharon Day, the co-chair, told the audience, "It's not going to be an easy election, it's a close election. Like I said, much closer than I can even understand why.

"I don't want to say anything about your Wisconsin voters but, some of them might not be as sharp as a knife."

Just a hint for the RNC, you might not want to let your contempt for the average voter show like that. On the other hand, there's plenty of evidence that Republicans in Wisconsin are masochists given who they've elected. So maybe that's the kind of motivation that works for them.
Help Wisconsin Democrats show their smarts. Please donate $3 to Mary Burke.

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There is one thing we can agree on with the RNC: If you vote for Scott Walker, you are stupid.

Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 10/21 (October 21, 2014, 09:00 AM)

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Daily Kos Elections Polling Wrap: Pollster forgets lessons of 2012, elects to go the full Paleologos (October 21, 2014, 08:30 AM)

Marilinda Garcia
Marilinda Garcia (R-NH) has led in two of 13 polls. Which makes her the favorite, according to one pollster.

On Friday evening, I was in line at Costco purchasing a pizza for a little family dinner (because, when you're married with two kids, that qualifies as a wild Friday night). I was scanning my phone for new polling after a fairly soft day of volume (which, regrettably, continued into the weekend) when I saw a series of tweets from northeastern-based folks live-tweeting an event sponsored by the New England chapter of the AAPOR (American Association of Public Opinion Research). One caught my attention and slightly amused me:

Democratic Party not a great brand name right now, per Andy Smith, which colors the entire race. #neaapor
? @skoczela
Of course, this statement had the unspoken implication that the Republican Party brand name was somehow better than the Democratic one, which has been disproven by virtually every poll taken in this cycle to date (including the most recent national poll: one released Monday morning by Politico.) However, perhaps what Smith (who runs the polling shop for the University of New Hampshire) meant was that the gap between the favorabilities of the two parties has narrowed since 2012 (which it has), or perhaps he was referring specifically to New Hampshire.

This statement, on the other hand, seems tougher to defend, and shows that Smith has learned very little from his colleagues:

Both NH CDs likely GOP pickups, says Andy Smith #neaapor
Why that statement is particularly outrageous, and why Smith should have known better, awaits you past the jump, along with the surprisingly sparse 46 polls conducted since last Friday (Oct 17-20).

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: A rare bright spot emerges for Democrats in Arkansas (October 21, 2014, 08:00 AM)

Patrick Henry Hays with Bill Clinton
Democrat Pat Hays (right)

Leading Off:

? AR-02: Arkansas has been a painful place for Democrats of late, but Team Blue got some genuinely good polling news out of the Razorback State on Monday from Talk Business and Hendrix College. In the open 2nd District, Democrat Pat Hays leads Republican French Hill 46-42, a reversal from July, when Hill held a narrow 44-43 edge. The numbers are also similar to a Hays internal from last month that hid him on top 44-41; Hill recently put out a press release claiming to have a 5-point lead in some invisible poll but provided no further details.

Hill, a wealthy banker, has suffered from some of the same image problems that have plagued other rich Republican vulture capitalists like Bruce Rauner, David Perdue, and Mitt Romney, and Democrats haven't hesitated to leverage his background in attack ads. Hays, by contrast, has run some great ads making the most of his personable, folks style. (The GOP playbook on Hays is utterly predictable: Obama Obama Obama.)

Both sides are spending heavily here, shelling out about $1 million apiece to date. This district is the bluest an Arkansas and like much of the state, it's ancestrally Democratic, so Democrats always believed they'd have a shot here. But given the party's woes at the top of the ticket and the president's deep unpopularity, it wouldn't have been surprising had the DCCC written the seat off. However, that's very much not the case, and Republicans are in serious danger of losing here, so Daily Kos Elections is changing our rating from Lean Republican to Tossup.

Election Diary Rescue: Week 41 (October 20, 2014, 04:00 PM)

DKos Miner 14
The following diaries are examples of this week's Election Diary Rescue. This post features a collection of 105 diaries.

(SD-Sen) A prairie populist: Climate Hawks Vote endorses Rick Weiland by RLMiller - In the increasingly interesting race for the Senate in South Dakota, Climate Hawks Vote gives a ringing endorsement to the Democratic candidate Rick Weiland, a strong opponent of the Keystone XL pipeline. His opponents are Incumbent Governor Mike Rounds(R) and former Republican and now Independent candidate Larry Pressler.

(NC-06) The Devil made him do it: pastor Mark Walker (R; NC-06) forswears PAC money, taps 25 PACs for $100K by DocDawg - Diarist has info on North Carolina's US House district 06 with candidates Laura Fjeld (D) and Mark Walker (R).

(FL-Gov) Crist had a fan at his feet and Rick Scott threw a temper tantrum by Vetwife - I have never heard so much BS wrapped in an opening statement since my son tried to explain to me that his homework was not due for 5 weeks in the 6th grade.

They will steal your democracy unless you show up at the polls by Burt Hall - The most dangerous problem in America is an attack on democracy that's been going on for 20 years. The great Republican moderates have all but disappeared since the right wing took the party, and they mean to take democracy itself. Voting is the only way to defeat them.

This is the 40th weekly edition of Election Diary Rescue. It covers rescued down-ticket election diaries published from Sunday, October 12 through Saturday, October 18. We hope you enjoy the following gems dug up by our dedicated team of miners.

Diaries: (105)
Senate: (25) posts, (10 states
House: (16) posts, (11) states, (12) districts
State and more: (45)
General: (19)

Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 10/20 (October 20, 2014, 09:00 AM)

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? Baseball: While the World Series is always close to Election Day, the two events aren't usually seen as connected. However, in a new article, Jeff Singer explores how the Royals-Giants matchup can effect races in Kansas and California. There isn't any superstition at work here though. Instead, well-funded campaigns and their allies will be looking to advertise during the games, since fans tend to watch them live rather than record them and fast-forward though the commercials. In some races both sides may spend enough to cancel each other out. However, in the Kansas Senate race, there's a real danger that Republicans will severely outspent independent Greg Orman in front of a huge audience. (Jeff Singer)

Daily Kos Election Outlook: Don't expect to go to bed on the 4th knowing who won (October 20, 2014, 08:30 AM)

Hopefully I'm not sounding like too much of a broken record (since it's something I've said before), but Election Day is likely to be anti-climactic, in terms of still not knowing which party controls the Senate. Part of that is because Alaska takes a long time to count its votes, and many of the Democratic-friendly votes have to be brought in by remote villages accessible only by plane; in 2008, Ted Stevens actually led at the end of Election Day, and it took 15 more days before Stevens conceded to Mark Begich.

Part of that is because several other races, like Iowa and Colorado, are on track for a possible photo-finish (most polls in Iowa cluster around a one-point margin for either candidate; in Colorado, the margins tend to be wider, but different pollsters still see different candidates on top); that could mean a prolonged recount or other legal jostling. And part of that is because if Greg Orman wins in Kansas (or less likely, Larry Pressler wins in South Dakota), we'll have to sit through their prima-donna agonizing over which party they'll caucus with. Orman has said he'll caucus with the majority, which gives us some certainty, but that decision may not come until we know, based on all the other races, who has the majority.

But most of that is because there are two states that allow for the possibility of overtime ? Louisiana and Georgia ? and for whatever coincidental reasons, both of their Senate races are close enough that they're on track to go into overtime. Louisiana's quirkiness is well-known; their November election is actually a "jungle primary" involving all candidates from all parties, where, if one candidate doesn't hit 50 percent on the first try, the top two fight again in a December runoff. That happens frequently enough in Louisiana that campaigns often take it for granted and build that contingency into their plans.

Georgia, however, has a conventional party primary, but the general election in Georgia still requires a runoff if none of the major parties' nominees top 50 percent in November. That rarely happens (for instance, if nobody runs in a race other than the Democratic and Republican nominees, there's no chance of it happening), so it's a little known piece of trivia. But, with a Libertarian candidate in the Senate race too, it's likely to happen this year ... and the Georgia runoff is set for January 6, 2015, after the Senate session begins on January 3, which would leave us briefly with an unoccupied seat. Which means we could see a bizarre scenario of the Republicans being in charge of a 50-49 Senate for one week, and then, if she wins the runoff, the addition of Michelle Nunn (and Joe Biden's tie-breaking vote) reverting control to the Democrats. (It'd be reminiscent of January 2001, where the Democrats briefly controlled the 50-50 Senate before Inauguration Day, as Al Gore, not Dick Cheney, still had the tie-breaking vote.)

We'll discuss how we're accounting for these possibilities, over the fold:

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Republicans pull out all the stops to save Omaha House seat (October 20, 2014, 08:00 AM)

Leading Off:

? NE-02: On Friday, the GOP unveiled two new negative ads in this fiercely contested Omaha-area race that instantly achieved serious levels of notoriety. First up is the NRCC's new throwback spot. A few candidates this year have revisited infamous hatchet-man Lee Atwater's playbook and run ads hitting their opponents for supporting policies that have supposedly allowed dangerous criminals to get released from prison early?a tried-and-true fear-mongering tactic.

Now national Republicans are now giving it a shot to bail out embattled GOP Rep. Lee Terry. The NRCC's spot features footage of news reports about Nikko Jenkins, who was convicted of multiple murders. The narrator describes how Jenkins was able to leave jail early because of something known as the "Good Time Law," which he goes on to accuse Democrat Brad Ashford of supporting.

This spot is drawing plenty of comparisons with George H.W. Bush's infamous Willie Horton ad and it's almost certainly going to get a lot of attention in Omaha. The Jenkins case was a high-profile story even before this ad came out and there has been a good deal of controversy over his release. However, it's always hard to say how voters will respond to ads like this. It worked for Papa Bush but backfired for Alaska Democratic Sen. Mark Begich when he tried a similar approach after the victims' family complained.

Terry himself is also going after Ashford with a similar line of attack. The ad begins with some very obvious fear-mongering, with the narrator talking about "Killings on our streets, and beheading abroad," complete with a gun pointed directly at the audience. The narrator then similarly accuses Ashford of fighting for the Good Time Law, arguing if he "won't protect us from the bad guys here, how can we ever expect him to protect us from the bad guys over there?" This ad is also drawing plenty of criticism from Democrats, but again, the jury is still out on whether it'll be effective.

It's hard to see Terry or the NRCC taking these kinds of risks if they felt good about their chances. Romney won the 2nd District 53-46 but Terry barely scraped by in 2012 against an underfunded opponent. Terry also complicated his chances with some deeply clueless remarks about keeping his paycheck during last year's government shutdown. Emily Cahn at Roll Call also reports that both parties have private polls showing Terry losing and quotes one Republican strategist arguing that the incumbent has a "path to victory." You normally don't argue that someone has a "path to victory" if they're expected to win.

Midterm turnout should help the GOP, but so far, early voting is actually looking great for Team Blue. Both parties are spending big here and it was clear even before these ads went out that Terry had a real race on his hands. The GOP can still win this contest and the new spots introduce an unpredictable element here, but there isn't much doubt that Terry is in trouble. As a result, Daily Kos Elections is changing our race rating from Lean Republican to Tossup.

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