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Swing State Project

Think the midterms don't matter? Tell that to 157,000 uninsured people in Maine and Wisconsin (October 30, 2014, 02:56 PM)

WASHINGTON, DC - OCT 22, 2009: Health-care reform advocates march in the streets outside of a meeting of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), an industry trade group.
Goal ThermometerFive times, Maine Gov. Paul LePage has vetoed Medicaid expansion. In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker didn't have to veto the expansion since he's got a Republican legislature, so he not only refused to champion taking the expansion, he also refused $37 million in federal grants just to set up a health insurance exchange in his state. So in the who hates Obamacare more game, Walker apparently wins.

Who loses? About 157,000 people, directly. That's 87,000 in Wisconsin and 70,000 in Maine. But it's not just the 150,000 poor people in those states who are losing. It's everyone in those states that pay taxes. They are seeing their federal taxes go to help people in other states get coverage, and are missing out on hundreds of millions of federal dollars being injected into their own states.

If Maine and Wisconsin elect Democrats?Mike Michaud and Mary Burke, respectively?that could change. In Maine, the legislature has already demonstrated?five times?that they want to take the expansion, they want to provide coverage to 70,000 Mainers. Michaud has made Medicaid expansion a cornerstone of his campaign.

Wisconsin is one of the states that grants the governor power to accept Medicaid money unilaterally, by executive order. While Burke hasn't said explicitly that she'd make that executive order to expand Medicaid, she has said she?ll "use every tool at her disposal to do so."

You can literally help save lives in Maine and Wisconsin. Your $3 can help elect Mike Michaud and Mary Burke.

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The stakes in this election are as high as they are in any presidential year for the 157,000 people in Maine and Wisconsin who are forced to be uninsured solely because of the political whims of their governors. Yeah, that matters. A lot.


Daily Kos Elections ad roundup: Democrats attack Bob Beauprez for 'falsely exploiting a murder' (October 30, 2014, 01:35 PM)

Leading Off:

? CO-Sen: The DGA jumps on a recent controversial spot run by Republican Bob Beauprez.

Here's the background: Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper is considering commuting the death sentence for convicted murderer Nathan Dunlap to life in prison. Beauprez and his allies have been attacking Hickenlooper over it, with Beauprez arguing that this is another sign the governor is weak. A different RGA ad focusing on Dunlap also made news recently and led to a great deal of controversy in its own right.  

The DGA is now jumping on the controversy. The spot blames Beauprez for the ad, saying he "falsely exploits a murder," and mentions that the victim's widow asked Beauprez to stop using the tragedy in his ads. Needless to say, this is a very delicate situation. The Republicans are saying that Dunlap is a valid issue; the RGA's recent spot starred the father of one of his victims calling Hickenlooper a coward.

If voters agree with the Democrats that Beauprez and his allies are exploiting the deaths of innocent people, it could definitely backfire for Team Red. However, if they side with the GOP and decide that Hickenlooper's actions show weakness, it could very well hurt the governor. In a close and unpredictable race like this, it's not unreasonable to say that this whole matter could decide the election.

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


Anti-choice Republican may join renegade New York Senate Democrats?and it looks like they want him (October 30, 2014, 10:09 AM)

New York state Sen. Mark Grisanti (R)
Mark Grisanti
Goal Thermometer

By now you probably know that even though Democrats have a majority of seats in New York's state Senate, the chamber is actually controlled by the minority Republicans, along with a band of renegade Democrats known as the Independent Democratic Conference, or IDC. This sordid arrangement has thwarted all manner of progressive priorities, including the Women's Equality Act, which, among other things, would ensure that New York law permits women to get abortions when their health is threatened. Republicans put up a fuss over that particular provision, though, and the IDC readily acquiesced in refusing to push for an actual vote on the floor.

Sensing that this willingness to aid and abet the GOP might put them at risk in the Democratic primaries, the IDC made some vague promises over the summer that they'd rejoin their mainstream Democratic counterparts next year. Very quickly thereafter, though, they started trying to walk back that pledge, and now it turns out they may actually head in the exact opposite direction.

State Sen. Mark Grisanti, a Republican from the Buffalo area, lost his primary last month to conservative challenger Kevin Stocker but has continued with his re-election bid on the Independence Party line. He managed to retain the endorsement of the Republican Party, but he might not caucus with them should he win next week. In fact, says Grisanti, he met with Jeff Klein, leader of the IDC junta, and may just sign on with them:

"I'm going to conference with whoever is going to be the best availability for Western New York," he said. "I can tell you I'm not going to conference with downstate Democrats. But the I.D.C. have been great partners with us. I don't know if the I.D.C. is going to join back with the Republicans or go with downstate."
And the IDC seems quite interested in having Grisanti join their splinter cell. They recently donated $150,000 to the New York League of Conservation Voters, with the very clear intent of earmarking that money to aid Grisanti and thwart Democrat Marc Panepinto. (And the LCV has indeed been spending big on Grisanti's behalf.)

So what will the IDC get for its efforts, should they prove successful? A wholly anti-choice Republican who sneers at the notion of protecting women's health when it comes to abortion:

He said he fears that a liberal interpretation of measures in the act that he says would allow late-term abortions if not only the "life" but the "health" of the mother were threatened. He maintains that even most pro-choice voters do not favor allowing abortion up to the time of birth.

"I believe it is an expansion of abortion, and I will not support it," he said.

That's reminiscent of what this fellow once had to say on the very same topic:
Animated GIF of John McCain putting air quotes around the phrase 'health of the mother'
The IDC has long made it plain that they value power above all else. Their desire to welcome the anti-choice Grisanti into their fetid clubhouse is only further proof. However, this is actually a Democratic district, and Panepinto?who has pledged not to join the IDC and supports the entire Women's Equality Act?has an excellent chance at picking up the seat, especially with Grisanti, Stocker, and a third candidate running on the Conservative Party line all splitting the Republican vote.
Don't you hate Democrats who caucus with Republicans? Give $3 to help Marc Panepinto fight back against the shnooks of the IDC.

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New York is a blue state. It deserves a blue state Senate. Please do your part to help right this wrong?and send a message to would-be renegade Democrats everywhere that actions have consequences.


Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 10/30 (October 30, 2014, 09:00 AM)

Daily Kos Elections Live Digest banner
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7:55 AM PT (Jeff Singer): Demographics: Latino voters are playing a pivotal role in several major Senate and gubernatorial elections this year, including in states like Georgia where they make up a small but growing segment of the electorate. However, due to small sample sizes, it's hard for pollsters to really get a read on Hispanic voters. For instance, a recent SurveyUSA showed the Republican ticket carrying Latinos- but the sample was only 36 voters.

In a new essay, Dreaminonempty takes a look at two polls from Latino Decisions, which are designed to give us an accurate reading on how Hispanics are planning to vote in 2014 and why. There's a lot of interesting data. In the good news department, Democrat Charlie Crist is beating Republican Gov. Rick Scott 53-29 among Latinos in Florida; in 2010, Scott carried this group with 51 percent of the vote. But there are plenty of warning signs for Democrats, both for 2014 and longterm.

8:10 AM PT (Jeff Singer): Election Outlook: In the last few days Democrats have begun to feel better about Sen. Mark Begich's chances in Alaska. The Daily Kos Election Outlook tells us that Begich's odds have improved quite a bit. It was easy to dismiss two recent polls giving Begich big leads as outliers, but a poll from Republican Dan Sullivan gives us our most clear sign that things are moving in Begich's direction: Sullivan's survey only gave himself a 4-point lead, pretty weak for an internal poll and a smaller lean than most public polls had been showing.

In a new post, David Jarman explains how new polls are changing, or not changing, Election Outlook's forcast in several key states. Our model now has Begich's odds at 44 percent, up from 35 percent of Monday. The news is not so good everywhere else- we currently give Democrats only a 31 percent chance to keep the Senate, down from 34 percent earlier this week. However, there are several unpredictable factors out there that could turn a close defeat into a close victory in several key states (or vise-versa), and plenty of uncertainty in the governorships.  


Daily Kos Election Outlook: Alaska suddenly becomes interesting again (October 30, 2014, 08:30 AM)

As we discussed on Monday, the overall odds are somewhat against the Democrats being able to retain control of the Senate, but there are a number of credible pathways for them to get there. The most frequently-occurring pathways (when we run thousands of simulations) go through only a few races, though; they involve winning a mix-and-match assortment of three of four iffy races: Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, and Kansas.

Here's why any of those might happen:

Colorado: Polls in the last few cycles have tended to undersell Democratic odds in Colorado. The large majority of Senate polls in 2010 predicted that Republican Ken Buck would win (which didn't happen), and polls predicted a much narrower Barack Obama victory in 2012 than actually happened. That's probably because Colorado has larger shares of Hispanic and younger voters, who tend to be harder to reach (especially by pollsters who don't call cellphones) and who may not fit into a stringent likely-voter model. When pollsters take the time to make sure they're sampling the Latino population correctly ? as a Wednesday poll from Strategies 360 did ? they tend to find Mark Udall with a narrow lead.

Iowa: The polls seem likelier to be right in Iowa ? a much whiter and older state, and one with a stable population instead of a lot of growth ? than they are in Colorado. However, Iowa is the state with the most consistently close polling; most polls in the last few weeks have seen this as a one- or two-point race. Unfortunately, most of those one- or two-point leads have gone in Joni Ernst's favor, but a Wednesday poll by Loras College put Bruce Braley up by one. Good ground game isn't a magic bullet but can add a point or two to your total, so Dem GOTV efforts could get Braley narrowly over the top.

Kansas: Independent candidate Greg Orman seems likelier than not to win, although his lead is fairly small. The real question mark associated with Orman is whether he caucuses with the Democrats; he's said he would caucus with whoever is in the majority, but hasn't said what he'd do in a situation involving 49 Dems and 50 GOPers where the majority is entirely up to him. Considering what a beating he's taken from the NRSC lately, though, you've got to wonder how excited he'd be about breaking bread with them afterwards.

That leaves Alaska, which a week ago was looking the least promising of those four. Mark Begich had trailed in all nine polls from the previous month, by margins ranging from two to six. Then, odd stuff started happening. A poll by Hellenthal, a local pollster, over last weekend put Begich up 10; on its own, it screamed 'outlier,' but the pollster swore that Begich's unprecedented ground game efforts were truly changing the game. Then, on Monday, it stopped being an outlier; another poll by another local pollster, Ivan Moore, found Begich up 8.

Begich's opponent, Dan Sullivan, released an internal poll on Tuesday showing Sullivan leading by 4 to try to rebut those polls, but even that was quite a tell: it's an internal poll with a smaller margin for him than most of the public polls gave him in the preceding month. For purposes of our model, that pencils out to only a one-point Sullivan lead.

That isn't to say that we're confident that Begich has pulled into the lead here. For one thing, that's still not a lot of polls showing a lead; Alaska still gets polled a lot less than the other crucial Senate states. There were only two other Alaska polls in the last week: a Dem internal poll (on behalf of Senate Majority PAC) showing the race tied (showing a best-case scenario that's worse than the public pollsters), and a YouGov poll giving Sullivan a four-point lead. (Bear in mind, though, that the YouGov poll has a tiny Alaska sample, with a margin of error of 9 percent.) One other data point that might cool your enthusiasm: Harry Enten and Nate Silver found that Alaska polling tends to have a higher error rate than most other states, and ? also unlike most other states, like Colorado above ? those errors usually give an errant boost to the Democratic candidates.

We'll look other changes in the model this week, over the fold:


Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: A little-known Libertarian is Mark Begich's secret weapon (October 30, 2014, 08:00 AM)

Democrat Mark Begich

Leading Off:

? AK-Sen: If it worked for Jon Tester, it may just work for Mark Begich. Nathaniel Herz at the Alaska Dispatch News details how the Democratic senator has been boosting the campaign of Libertarian Mark Fish, "tossing him softball questions" in debates and even running radio ads touting Fish's candidacy alongside his own! The two actually have some libertarian-ish views in common, like opposition to the Patriot Act and NSA wiretapping, and one ad features a narrator saying: "That's Mark Begich and Libertarian Mark Fish. True Alaskans fighting the Dan Sullivan surveillance state."

Astute observers will recall that Tester and his allies, during his 2012 re-election campaign, devoted a great deal of effort to propping up Libertarian Dan Cox, even spending large sums on TV ads to promote him. It was definitely successful. Cox got 6.5 percent of the vote, which was probably the largest vote share of any Libertarian candidate for federal office that year. Tester only won by 19,000 votes, far fewer than the 31,000 Cox got. Begich is running a similar race in a similar state, and he could really use that same kind of help.

And this election may be close enough for this maneuver to work. On Wednesday Sullivan released a survey from Moore Information giving him a 42-38 lead over Begich. Sullivan's internal might look positive for him in a vacuum, but it is not good news at all. For one, it follows a Democratic internal that had the race tied, plus two other polls that gave Begich leads of 8 and 10 points?with the latter coming from a Republican pollster. For another, Sullivan's lead is smaller in his own poll than it was in most of the public polls that preceded this latest pro-Begich batch. Could Begich have really managed to turn things around after his September stumbles? Is his unprecedented ground game making the difference? Who knows, but Alaska is all of a sudden looking very exciting down the stretch.


Daily Kos Elections ad roundup: NOM and Mitt Romney remind North Carolina that they still exist (October 29, 2014, 06:16 PM)

Leading Off:

? NC-Sen: It's been a while since we've seen too many anti-same-sex marriage ads in a general election, even in red states. But the National Organization of Marriage is quickly running out of reasons to exist, so they're hitting Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan for voting to confirm a judge who later struck down the state's ban. The judge was confirmed by the Senate 96-0 so this is, of course, a stupid line of attack, but NOM is not exactly the most pragmatic group out there.

Also for the GOP, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has an ad starring Mitt Romney saying some generic nice things about Republican Thom Tillis. The chamber's last ad here starred country music star Randy Owen but there's no singing from Mitt in this spot, which is probably for the best. We also have GOP expenditures from the chamber and Crossroads GPS.

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


Most of the data on Latino voters is bogus. Here are the real poll numbers. (October 29, 2014, 04:36 PM)

Supporters of Michelle Nunn GOTV (2014)
Goal Thermometer

Recently, there was a story claiming Republican candidates were winning among Latino voters in Georgia. The entirety of this story was based on a small portion of a SurveyUSA/11Alive poll that interviewed a grand total of 36?yup, three dozen?self-identified Hispanic voters.

So was the poll right? Should we be worried?

Not a chance. On the contrary, this is a good example of why you should never trust the crosstabs of a minority demographic, especially in robopolls. (And that goes for all types of demographic minorities, for example age 18-29.) You simply cannot get a good measure of opinion with only a handful of respondents.

To see an example of Latino voter data from ordinary polls failing miserably, here's the data from the crosstabs of October 2012 Colorado polls of the presidential race, compared to the exit poll, and the two Latino Decisions polls (which poll only Latino voters and are carefully designed to accurately measure the opinions of the Latino electorate).

Our best measurements?the exit poll and Latino Decisions polls of just Latino voters?show Obama receiving between 74-87 percent of the Latino vote. But if you had looked at ordinary polls, they would have told you Obama was set to get only about 48-66 percent?a gross underestimation.

None of the ordinary polls was designed specifically to measure the Latino electorate, and they clearly failed. This is typical for most states. But the Latino Decisions polls were close to the exit poll (and arguably, the election eve Latino Decisions polls are more accurate than the exit polls).

These are the polls you are looking for

Fortunately, Pew and Latino Decisions/America's Voice have recently published national surveys of Latino voters. Latino Decisions has also released polls of Colorado, Florida, and North Carolina, done for the National Council for La Raza Action Fund. And there's some good news, and some bad news.

The good news comes in the topline numbers for Senate and governor: Latino support for the Democratic candidate is on course to equal 2012 levels.

The bad news is that Latino voters are not as happy with Democrats in general as they have been in the past, most likely due to a lack of action on immigration issues.

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Please read below the fold for more on Latino voters and polling.


Thanks to you, Kansas' Jean Schodorf outraised the worst secretary of state in the nation (October 29, 2014, 04:02 PM)

Kris Kobach and Ted Nugent
Kris Kobach with good buddy, Ted Nuget. Let's help send him on permanent tour with his favorite racist rocker.
Goal Thermometer

Big news on the Kansas election front. Thanks in large part to Daily Kos readers, the Kansas City Star reports that Jean Schodorf, the Daily Kos-endorsed Democratic challenger for secretary of state in Kansas had a huge fundraising quarter:

A survey for KSN Television in Wichita found Schodorf and Kobach tied at 45 percent, with the balance undecided.

The poll by SurveyUSA comes a day after new campaign finance reports showed that Schodorf had raised about $80,000 more than Kobach in the last three months.

And where'd those funds come from? They came from YOU:
The national contributions came as a result of an endorsement from the liberal website the Daily Kos, which published stories with a request for donations to be sent to Schodorf, campaign spokesman Marcus Williamson said.

?Nearly all of those small contributions were given online from people who are familiar with Kobach?s national reputation, and wanted to support his opponent,? Williamson said in an email.

The race is tied and we still have work to do. The ground game isn't cheap and we still have a few more days to push Jean Schodorf over the top.
Can you chip in $3 to help elect Daily Kos-endorsed Jean Schodorf and send Kris Kobach back to private practice?

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This race is so close, but we can pull it out with help from readers like you.


McConnell campaign spent $75,000 buying 'volunteer' enthusiasm from late-September to early-October (October 29, 2014, 03:38 PM)

Screenshot from Mitch McConnell campaign ad
McConnell is so naturally likable his campaign had to copy and paste a dog to demonstrate his warmth
Goal Thermometer

It turns out buying "volunteer" enthusiasm is nothing new for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's reelection campaign: Even before reports surfaced that McConnell was offering all-expenses-paid travel and lodging for people to pose as enthusiastic locals on his most recent campaign bus tour, new FEC documents posted online by the Alison Lundergan Grimes campaign show his campaign was spending a ton of money to buy Mitch some love.

Specifically, the documents show, on September 19, September 22, and October 9, McConnell's campaign spent nearly $75,000 on airfare, food, and lodging for "volunteers" to show up at McConnell events. We won't know until the campaign is over just how much money McConnell had to spend to make it look like people like him, but this much is clear: It hasn't been cheap.

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