Monday, December 31, 2007

So...There Goes the FEC (For Now)

NPR has the ridiculous story, here. Also, a more detailed audio story, here.

Marc Ambinder is All Over the Register Poll

He has the Edwards camp's reaction and his own take. Both merit a glance.

Des Moines Register Poll

This is the last DMR poll before the Caucus. Remember that this poll was the only poll to correctly predict the order of finish in 2004.

Here are the numbers (tremd-lines go back to late November):

Obama 32% (+4)
Clinton 25% (--)
Edwards 24% (+1)
Richardson 6% (-3)
Biden 4% (-2)
Dodd 2% (+1)
Kucinich 1% (--)
Gravel 0% (--)

Huckabee 32% (+3)
Romney 26% (+2)
McCain 13% (+6)
Thompson 9% (+4)
Paul 9% (+2)
Giuliani 5% (-8)
Hunter 1% (--)
Keyes 1% (+1)

The Register's story on the Democratic poll is here. The Republican story is here.

Day 2 of Zogby Tracking Polling

Its a daily tracker so the trend goes back to, well, yesterday.

Clinton 30% (-1)
Obama 26% (-1)
Edwards 26% (+2)
Richardson 5% (--)
Biden 5% (--)

Huckabee 29% (--)
Romney 27% (-1)
McCain 13% (+2)
Thompson 8% (--)
Giuliani 7% (-1)
Paul 7% (-1)

More Iowa Polls

Mason-Dixon, in association with McClatchy and MSNBC, came out with a new poll Sunday. The results are below with trend-lines going back to 3 weeks ago.

Edwards 24% (+3)
Clinton 23% (-4)
Obama 22% (-3)
Richardson 12% (+3)
Biden 8% (+3)

Romney 27% (+7)
Huckabee 23% (-9)
Thompson 14% (+3)
McCain 13% (+6)
Giuliani 5% (--)
Paul 5% (+3)

American Research Group also dropped some knowledge on us Sunday. Here, the trend-lines date back only 5 days to their last pre-Christmas poll.

Clinton 31% (-3)
Edwards 24% (-1)
Obama 24% (+2)
Biden 5% (-3)
Richardson 5% (--)

Romney 32% (+11)
Huckabee 23% (--)
McCain 11% (-6)
Thompson 7% (+4)
Giuliani 6% (-8)
Paul 6% (-4)

The biggest polling news of the day was the announcement that *FINALLY* someone has started a daily tracking poll on the early states. The pollster will be Zogby, in association with Reuters and C-SPAN, and they'll publish daily results in both Iowa and New Hampshire until each race is over. They dropped the first results yesterday. Trend-lines date back a month.

Clinton 31% (+4)
Obama 27% (+3)
Edwards 24% (+3)
Richardson 5% (-3)
Biden 5% (--)

Huckabee 29% (+4)
Romney 28% (+3)
McCain 11% (+6)
Thompson 8% (--)
Giuliani 8% (-4)
Paul 8% (+3)


The variation in the Democratic polls has got to be a result of differing voter screens. If you're interested in the various voter screens, has a good article here. For example, I can guarantee that Mason-Dixon bases their likely caucus-goer universe more heavily on previous caucus-goers, among whom Edwards does especially well.

Romney has surged back at the same time that Huckabee settled back down to earth. I'm not sure if I buy that Romney is as far ahead as ARG tells us. Instead, I attribute much of that lead to the press bashing Huckabee received about a couple of minor foreign policy-related misstatements. That whole saga is hilarious. The media, over-correcting for its long-time adoration of Huckabee, decided to hit him over the head with a couple of misstatements, turning them from minor (and mostly understandable) mistakes into signs that Huckabee is completely incompetent. Now, they are berating themselves once again for their overreaction. I expect that they'll ease up on him in these last few days.

ARG Poll Out of New Hampshire Shows Re-Shaped Race

The Democratic race is coming to resemble the race in Iowa. The trends are from ARG's last poll, ten days ago.

Clinton 31% (-7)
Obama 27% (+3)
Edwards 21% (+6)
Richardson 5% (--)
Biden 3% (-1)

These trends reflect a general consensus among the pre-Christmas New Hampshire polls that Clinton is slipping, Obama is gaining, and Edwards is surging.

Romney 30% (+4)
McCain 30% (+4)
Huckabee 11% (--)
Giuliani 9% (-7)
Paul 7% (+3)
Thompson 3% (-1)

This has become a virtual playoff game between Romney and McCain. The loser will be in a world of hurt (given the crazy dynamics of the GOP race, it's hard to say that the loser will be totally dead).

Our Iowa Picks

Our Iowa picks are listed below. On the Democratic side, point values are as follows: 18 points for the winner, 9 points for 2nd, 6 points for 3rd, and 4.5 points for 4th. The Republican race, with fewer viable candidates, will be worth 12 points for the winner, 6 points for 2nd, 4 points for 3rd, and 3 points for 4th.

My Picks:
1) Obama
2) Edwards
3) Clinton
4) Biden

1) Edwards
2) Obama
3) Clinton
4) Biden

1) Edwards
2) Clinton
3) Obama
4) Biden

1) Edwards
2) Clinton
3) Obama
4) Richardson

1) Clinton
2) Edwards
3) Obama
4) Richardson

1) Obama
2) Clinton
3) Edwards
4) Richardson

Lemme parse the picks a bit. Its interesting that Edwards make 5 of our 6 top 2s (including leading with 3 first place picks). Obama is hit-or-miss, picked to win by 2 of us and to finish as low as third by another 3. Finally, our 4th place picks are evenly split between Biden and Richardson, reflecting the uncertainty surrounding that spot, uncertainty which will allow whichever of these two finishes there to claim a small victory.

My Picks:
1) Huckabee
2) Romney
3) McCain
4) Thompson

1) Huckabee
2) Romney
3) Paul
4) McCain

1) Huckabee
2) Romney
3) McCain
4) Paul

1) Romney
2) Huckabee
3) McCain
4) Thompson

1) Huckabee
2) Romney
3) Thompson
4) McCain

1) Huckabee
2) Romney
3) McCain
4) Paul

Immediately after finalizing my picks, I began to wish I'd picked Romney. I still think he out-mans Huckabee organizationally and I assumed that most of us would go with Huckabee. As it turns out, JJ was the only one to go with Mitt the Massachusetts Mormon. If Romney comes up big on Caucus night, JJ will feel as though he's just dug up some gold in his back yard. Apparently we're all believers in the McCain surge, as we all have him in our top 4s. Three of us are also betting on some unlikely caucus-goers showing up to leapfrog Paul ahead of Thompson and Giuliani and into the top 4.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Friday, December 28, 2007

Research 2000 Drops Some Knowledge

The second post-Christmas Iowa poll:

No trend-lines here, because the last R2000 poll came out in mid-November.

Huckabee 34%
Romney 27%
Thompson 11%
McCain 8%
Giuliani 8%
Paul 8%

Edwards 29%
Obama 29%
Clinton 28%
Richardson 7%
Biden 3%

First Iowa Polls Post X-Mas

Brought to us by Strategic Vision (R):

Trends in () refer to the SV poll of 12/16-12/18

Huckabee 29% (-2)
Romney 27% (+2)
Thompson 15% (-1)
McCain 14% (+6)
Giuliani 4% (-2)
Paul 4% (-1)

Obama 30% (--)
Clinton 29% (+2)
Edwards 28% (+1)
Biden 5% (--)
Richardson 2% (-1)

3 things to note:

1) The general feeling that Obama is slipping a bit is not reflected here. Sure, Clinton and Edwards may have a tiny bit more mo' than Obama does, but he's not going anywhere. It's still a dramatically close 3-way tie.

2) The Hucka-boom is over and 30% seems to be its ceiling. Romney closed the gap by 4% in one week. These two have no more air between them than do HRC-JRE-BHO.

3) The past couple of weeks saw several polls in which either Thompson or McCain was a strong third, but that never showed them this close. ARG said that McCain was in third with 17% (12/23) or even in second with 20% (12/19), while showing Thompson at 3% and 5% in those same periods. Last week's Strategic Vision poll pegged Thompson at 16% and McCain at 8%. It's been clear for a few days now that either McCain or Thompson (or both) is in a solid third place position. For the first time we have a poll that puts both of them in a second-tier ahead of Giuliani. A third place finish for either of these most Senior of Senior citizens could potentially be big.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

State of the Race and Paths to the Nomination(s)

If Hillary Clinton is leading the race for the Democratic nomination, her lead is negligible. She's effectively in a 3-way tie in Iowa (I'll elaborate later), and locked in a dead heat with Obama in both New Hampshire and South Carolina.

The most recent polls out of Nevada are two weeks old, but it appears that Hillary's large lead is generally holding up. She's also got giant leads in Michigan and Florida, but those glorified straw polls will be heavily influenced by momentum.

With regard to Iowa, a few things to think about:

1) Clinton generally polls in first among "certain" caucus-goers. Edwards and Clinton are virtually tied among previous caucus-goers. Obama's strategy relies on "unlikely" caucus-goers. The higher the turnout, the better he'll likely do. Still, its possible that Obama is weak in rural areas, away from college towns and that Edwards is especially strong in rural areas. Since a candidate's total vote in the caucuses matters less than an even distribution of that vote, he could have the most support but finish third.

2) Edwards is voters' leading second choice. Here are some recent second choice numbers (with first choice numbers in parentheses):

CNN 12/20
Edwards 26% (26)
Obama 22% (28)
Clinton 21% (30)
Biden 7% (3)
Richardson 6% (7)
Dodd 4% (1)
Kucinich 1% (1)

Rasmussen 12/19
Edwards 28% (22)
Obama 22% (27)
Clinton 15% (31)
Richardson 15% (9)

3) In a race this close and this top-heavy, I'd be shocked to hear that any of the campaigns are not trying to cut Edwards-Kucinich '04 style deals with other campaigns. For some reason, though, most of the deals I could realistically see happening involve Joe Biden. Biden-Clinton, Biden-Dodd, and Biden-Richardson are all plausible. Kucinich could also conceivably direct his supporters to Edwards or to Richardson.

With New Hampshire so close, an Iowa win for Clinton or Obama would sling-shot them to a win in the first-in-the-nation primary and the nomination, right? Maybe. That's what happened last time, after all. And this year, the space between Iowa and New Hampshire (just 5 days) is shorter than ever before. On the other hand, in 2004 the deck was stacked for a catapult effect because the race was split between five rather uninspiring candidates and a collapsing Howard Dean. With no strong preference for or against any candidate (other than Dean) and wanting nothing more than to start working to beat the president, Democrats rallied around Kerry. This year, we have two leading candidates that each evoke strong passions among large segments of the party. An Iowa win for one might just lead the supporters of the other to dig in even harder.

Besides that, New Hampshire has historically shown a predisposition for underdogs. Just ask Pat Buchanan, John McCain, Bill Clinton, and Gary Hart. They've also demonstrated that the Iowa results do not dictate the New Hampshire results. Since 1976, when Jimmy Carter made the Iowa Caucuses matter for the first time, the Iowa winner has won 4 of 6 New Hampshire primaries, two of those winners were incumbent president Jimmy Carter in 1980 and incumbent Vice President Al Gore in 2000).

In South Carolina, Obama has finally taken the lead among black voters. I've always thought that Obama's biggest problem among blacks in South Carolina (besides Hillary's gender) was that black voters are less likely than anyone else to believe that a black man can get elected president in racist America. As his poll numbers hold up, that pessimism starts to look unfounded.

If the race comes down to Hillary v. Obama, I think it the winner will be the one that wins 2 out of 3 in IA, NH, and SC. If its Hillary, she probably walks away from Feb. 5th with a commanding lead. If its Obama, he at least holds his own on Feb. 5th, anti-Hillary sentiment coalesces around him, and he wins a long delegate fight. To break in to real contention, Edwards needs to win Iowa, or at least come in second to Clinton. Then, the real task would be convincing Democrats that he has overnight assumed the anti-Hillary mantle. That would likely take another finish ahead of Obama in New Hampshire, and probably Nevada. If he could hold Obama to third in each of the first few states, Obama might fall apart, leaving Edwards as the anti-Hillary. Hillary would have all the momentum, and Edwards would have to convincingly rally the anti-Hillary forces to stop her momentum before it reached critical mass (if it hadn't already). Obviously, that's easier said than done. If you're Richardson or Biden, you need to make the top 3, or at least come very close. Then you hope to pass Edwards for third in New Hampshire and hope that either Obama or Hillary consistently under-performs in the early states. Even if all that happens, its a long-shot. If you're Dodd, well you're not above 2% any where that matters and you just failed to make it on the New York ballot, so you're pretty much done.

The Republicans will have twice as many real pre-Feb. 5th events as will the Democrats (IA, WY, NH, MI, NV, SC, FL, ME). Here's what we know:

Huckabee and Romney are leading in Iowa (Thompson and McCain are fighting for third)
Romney will probably win the Jan. 5 Wyoming convention
Romney and McCain are leading in New Hampshire (Giuliani looks like a safe bet for third)
Romney and Huckabee are tied in Michigan (McCain and Giuliani are fighting for third)
Romney, Giuliani, and Huckabee are tied in Nevada
Huckabee is leading in South Carolina (Romney, McCain, Thompson, and Giuliani are strong)
Giuliani, Romney, and Huckabee are tied in Florida
Romney and Giuliani are probably tied in Maine

I was going to write my own assessment of each of the top 5's paths to the GOP nomination, but then Marc Ambinder went and wrote his own:

" Mike Huckabee's pathway.... Huckabee wins Iowa convincingly, helping John McCain to beat Romney in NH narrowly, causing Romney to falter; Huckabee, skipping Michigan, wins South Carolina handily, having grabbed conservatives from Fred Thompson... he loses narrowly to Rudy Giuliani on Jan. 29, in Florida, but Huckabee has enough momentum, delegates and money to make a run at the southern states (Georgia Alabama) who hold contests on Feb. 5; Giuliani wins the northern states, and for the next few weeks, Huckabee and Giuliani battle for d decisive delegate edge. Giuliani's social positions prove too onerous; Huckabee cleans up in debates, and Huckabee slides to victory, narrowly.


John McCain could win the nomination if.
... McCain comes in a surprise third in Iowa, or not; he wins New Hampshire, wins or ties in Michigan, which merits him a second look in South Carolina. Those big fundraisers recruited by John Weaver and co. finally are able to find donors willing to contribute the max to a candidate on the rise, and money swarms in via the Net. The press writes the McCain rising story. By this point, Huckabee and McCain are competing for the votes of conservatives and Giuliani is a non-factor, his support having dissipated. McCain edges Huckabee in South Carolina (or comes close) and puts himself in the catbird's seat for Jan 29. What would help: Thompson drops out and endorses McCain. Clinton beats Obama and independents vote for McCain in New Hampshire.


Rudy Giuliani could win the nomination if.... He finishes dismally in Iowa, but the press doesn't really cover it that much because they're covering the vanquishing of Hillary Clinton; Giuliani finishes a strong third in New Hampshire, a strong third in Michigan, fourth in South this point, he'll have not won a single contest (with the exception, perhaps, of Nevada) but won't be all that far behind in the delegate race. He'll have spent millions on television in Florida; he wins Florida; and suddenly the momentum swings back to him and he wins enough contests on Feb. 5 to turn the race into a two-man sprint ... Giuliani and a social conservative. And he beats the conservative.


Mitt Romney could win the nomination if.....Romney wins in Iowa and New Hampshire; wins or places second in Michigan; South Carolina becomes a firewall...either Huckabee re-emerges...Romney outpolls Giuliani in South Carolina and turns the contest, by Florida, into a two-man sprint with Giuliani; or, Giuliani's support crumbles without an early state victory...


Fred Thompson could win the nomination if..... Thompson hangs in there, benefits from a Huckabee fall in Iowa -- i.e., Huckabee CANNOT win Iowa in this scenario, which means that Romney wins Iowa which means that Romney probably wins New Hampshire; Thompson somehow wins South Carolina and wins Southern states on Feb. 5; Romney and Giuliani battle in some northern states (and Romney maybe even wins one), and Thompson lives to fight Giuliani or Romney as the conservative alternative."

That's a more comprehensive version of what I was going to write. The great thing about comprehensiveness is that we can check off the list of viable candidates after each event. For example, if Huckabee wins Iowa, then that would pretty well eliminate Thompson and severely damage Romney. If Romney wins Iowa, that would severely damage McCain.

I'm curious how much polling we'll see now that Christmas is over. It will be tough to get a lot of polling done in the next eight days. Likely, we'll go into Iowa without a clear idea of how the race has changed (if at all) since the polls stopped a couple of days ago.

I hope that this post made some sense. I started it about a week ago and I just picked it back up right now.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tancredo to Tancre-go?

From Ambinder:

"The scuttle is:

Rep. Tom Tancredo will drop out of the presidential race tomorrow and endorse either Mitt Romney or Fred Thompson.... neither of those candidates know who, just yet.

But the scuttle is probably wrong. Tancredo has been critical of all his opponents, and, given his issue's saliency, he does not need to endorse. His party sounds like him, now, on immigration."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Primary Turnout

16,804,017 people voted in the 2004 Democratic Presidential Primaries.

1,786,088 cast meaningful votes in the ten events that took place while there was still some doubt about Kerry's nomination.

1,786,088 people chose a major party nominee for President of the United States.

God, we have a stupid system.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Primaries Pool

As the self-appointed Commish of the "By the Time I Get to Arizona Presidential Primary Pool," I have developed a set of rules. Pre-Feb. 5th, we'll pick one state at a time (except for Jan. 19, when we'll pick both NV and SC for the Republicans). I've based the scoring system on the principles of horse race betting (which I just read about on Wikipedia, so hopefully I'm using them correctly).

Here's how the scoring system will work:

Before each state's picks we'll determine the number of competitive candidates in that state. For the purposes of these picks, competitive means that they can actually come in first. For example, it looks like Iowa has 3 competitive candidates on our side (HRC-BO-JRE) and 2 on their side (Huck-Mitt). That number will be multiplied by 6 to get the number of points available for correctly picking the first-place finisher in that event. In the case of Iowa, it looks like there will be 18 points on our side and 12 for picking the GOP race. Second place picks will be worth 1/2 of what a first place pick is worth. A third-place pick will be 1/3 of a first-place pick and a fourth-place pick 1/4 of a first-place pick. In Iowa, the Democratic race would be worth a total of 37.5 (18+9+6+4.5) points and the Republican race would be worth a total of 25 (12+6+4+3) points.

When you pick the second-place finisher, you won't really be picking them to finish 2nd, but to finish somewhere in the top 2. The same goes for all picks below first-place. That way no one gets penalized for picking a correct top 4, but in the wrong order.

For example, suppose you pick the following:

1. Edwards
2. Clinton
3. Obama
4. Biden

and the actual results are:

1. Clinton
2. Obama
3. Edwards
4. Biden

Rather than receiving zero points, you would still be rewarded for picking Clinton in the top 2 (9 points), Obama in the top 3 (6 points), and Biden in the top 4 (4.5 points). You would receive 19.5 points. It's still very important to get your first-place pick right, but you don't get screwed if you're just one place off all the way down the list.

At least for Iowa and New Hampshire, I think we should pick the top 4 finishers. If the fields narrow considerably after that, we can switch to the top 3. By Feb. 5th, it might make sense to only pick the top 2.

I'll announce the official point totals for Iowa on Christmas Day and picks will be due by Dec. 27. I'll do the same for New Hampshire on Jan. 4th (day after Iowa) and picks will be due by midnight that night.

I'm thinking that we each throw in $20 and the winner (whomever has the most points after both nominations have been decided) will take the pot.

Any questions?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Senate Recruitment Wrap-Up

Maybe "Wrap-Up" is a bit presumptuous, but less than one year out from the 2008 election, recruiting season is nearly over. Let's take a look at how Chuck Schumer and John Ensign fared in the campaign within the campaign:

Race Changers
Schumer pulled in a few recruits that drastically reshaped their respective races. How big are these recruitments? Take Mark Warner, Jeanne Shaheen, or Tom Udall out of their races, and the Republicans would be feeling pretty good about their chances to reelect Sununu and hold Warner and Domenici's open seats. Instead, the Big 3 (move over Boston Celtics) have 22%, 9%, and 15% leads in their respective races, according to SurveyUSA polls from last month. These three races are prime examples of how candidate recruitment by itself can win races.

Race-changing recruitments on the Republican side? None.

Stunning Failures
Schumer did come up empty in a couple of big races. Bob Kerrey's departure from the Nebraska race (if he was ever really in it) and today's news that both State Auditor Crit Luallen and Attorney General Greg Stumbo will take a pass on a challenge to Mitch McConnell, virtually eliminate our chances at either of those seats.

The only Republican "failure" of this magnitude is Gov. Mike Rounds in South Dakota. I put failure in quotes, because his entry was never all that likely given Tim Johnson's health issues.

Solid Recruitments
Each party has some recruitments that give them a good chance at win, without putting the seat in the bank. For the Democrats, these include Tom Allen in Maine; Al Franken and Mike Ciresi in Minnesota; Mark Udall in Colorado; and Jeff Merkley in Oregon. For the Republicans, John Kennedy in Louisiana is the only really viable candidate they've got anywhere.

Credible Candidates
Other candidates are not now viable contenders, but will run credible campaigns and could win under the right circumstances. On our side, that group includes Larry LaRocco in Idaho, Rick Noriega in Texas, Andrew Rice in Texas (my favorite candidate in any race), Greg Orman in Kansas, Vivian Figures in Alabama, and Kay Hagan and Jim Neal in North Carolina.

Republicans in that group include: Joel Dykstra in South Dakota (ok. that's a bit of a stretch),

Possible Developments
There are yet a few opportunities for Schumer and Ensign to make a splash with a big recruitment. Either Mike Moore (ex-AG) and Ronnie Musgrove (ex-Gov) could each give Trent Lott's replacement (whoever that will be) a good race. Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (son of former Rep. Nick Begich) is our last best hope to put a real scare into Ted Stevens, who is very beatable.

For the Republicans, Steve King seems to be encouraging the rumors that he might take on Tom Harkin. That would give Harkin a chance to knock off a fifth sitting Congressman, extending his own record. Still, King would make Harkin work for it. The only other real possibility is Chuck Banks ('06 Lt. Gov. nominee and ex-US Attorney) in Arkansas.

Finally, there remain a few races in which the incumbent is completely unopposed by the other major party. They are: Barrasso and Enzi in Wyoming, Mark Pryor in Arkansas, Jay Rockefeller in West Virginia,

"Raping Kids"

In a bold gambit, Tom Tancredo opposes raping children and killing their mothers.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

That Was Fast

Two new polls out of South Carolina and Huckabee is HOPE-ful.

Insider Advantage (12/3-12/4) 670 LV
Huckabee 23%
Giuliani 17%
Thompson 17%
Romney 14%
McCain 10%
Paul 6%

Rasmussen (12/3-12/4) 654 LV
Huckabee 25%
Romney 18%
Thompson 18%
Giuliani 12%
McCain 9%
Paul 4%

Rasmussen says Huckabee has 37% of Evangelicals, compared to 20% for Thompson and 15% for Romney.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

McCain's Numbers Back Up in AZ, Clinton would Get Killed Here

On the subject of Rasmussen polls, see below, a new one out today shows McCain has gone a long way towards recovering his lofty favorable numbers. As the accompanying story lays out, McCain's numbers plummeted in June during the immigration debate and stayed down until now. In September, Rasmussen had a poll that showing Thompson, not McCain, as the best GOP candidate to win Arizona.

Well, that's all changed, according to this new poll. In June he had an fav-unfav of 47-51. Now, it's back to 63-35.

My interpretation? The media depicts him as struggling. Cynical voters (which I assume describes most of Arizona's electorate) assume that you have to be a pandering assbag to win the presidency. If McCain is losing, he must have gone back to his old straight-shooting self.

Clinton Can't Win Here; Except Maybe Against Romney

They ran three trial heats, pairing Clinton against McCain, Giuliani, and Romney (why not Huckabee, I don't know).

McCain kills her, 57%-34%. Giuliani holds a significant lead at 47%-38%. Even Romney, who typically trails Clinton badly in national polls, beats her by a 45%-41% score in AZ.

Huckabee in First

In Iowa? Well, yes, he is in a tie for first with Romney there, but that's not what I'm talking about.

Have you seen the Rasmussen daily national tracking poll lately?

Here are the post-Thanksgiving polls:

Republican Candidates





























































As you can see, Huckabee has be surging nationally at Giuliani's expense (and Thompson and Romney's to a lesser extent).

No other national poll has Huckabee leading, yet, but Rasmussen uses a tighter voter screen that tends to be more accurate and to lead the other polls by a couple of weeks in predicting trends.

Two recent polls (LA Times/Bloomberg and USA Today/Gallup) have Huckabee in 2nd nationally, trailing Giuliani 23-17 and 25-16, respectively. Just days after McCain surged back into 2nd in the Real Clear Politics national poll average (passing Thompson), these two polls helped Huckabee overtake him.

At the very least, the national picture is a Rudy-Huckabee tie.

If I see a poll with Huckabee in first in South Carolina, I'll have to drop my long-standing conviction that Romney would be the GOP nominee.

I've decided to include an average of the last 5 Rasmussen daily trackers with the poll averages in the margin. These are not RCP averages-they use every national poll-but I have a lot of respect for Rasmussen and tend to believe their polls until I see at least three others than contradict them.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Special Elections

Look at the following list and see if you can guess what all of these lawmakers have in common.

Rep. Don Young (R-AK)
Rep. Ed Pastor (D-AZ-4)
Rep. John Boozman (R-AR-3)
Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA-5)
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-8)
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-9)
Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA-17)
Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA-23)
Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA-33)
Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA-37)
Rep. Joe Baca (R-CA-43)
Rep. Mary Bono (R-CA-45)
Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA-50)*
Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT-4)
Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL-1)
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL-18)
Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA-10)
Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL-2)
Rep. Jerry Costello (D-IL-12)
Rep. Ron Lewis (R-KY-2)
Rep. Ben Chandler (D-KY-6)
Rep. Jim McCrery (R-LA-4)
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD-5)
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD-7)
Rep. John Olver (D-MA-1)
Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA-5)
Rep. Steven Lynch (D-MA-9)
Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI-3)
Rep. John Dingell (D-MI-15)
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS-2)
Rep. Gene Taylor (D-MS-4)
Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM-1)
Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY-5)
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY-6)
Rep. Vito Fossella (R-NY-13)
Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY-16)
Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC-1)
Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH-2)
Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK-1)
Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK-3)
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3)
Rep. Robert Brady (D-PA-1)
Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA-9)
Rep. John Murtha (D-PA-12)
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC-2)
Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD)
Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX-3)
Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX-19)
Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA-4)
Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI-6)
Rep. David Obey (D-WI-7)
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI)
Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)

Figured it out, yet?

Each of these members was originally elected to Congress in a special election. Brian Bilbray is starred because his first stint in the House began in a regular election (in 1994). He made his return to the House, however, in a 2006 special election. Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ-13) was left off of the list because his special election took place on Nov. 7, 2006. The three Senators on the list began their congressional careers in special House elections.

If you didn't know it, two new members of Congress will be elected next Tuesday to replace deceased Reps. Paul Gillmor (OH-5) and Jo Ann Davis (VA-1). Both districts are pretty Republican, but Democrats have an outside chance in each race. A win in either district would be a huge blow to Republican fund-raising and recruiting efforts for next fall.

There are two more special elections on tap for the spring. Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-IL) recently announced a Feb. 5 primary and March 8 general election for Dennis Hastert's 14th district seat. Bobby Jindal will presumably set the schedule for his the special election for his own seat (LA-1), as he is stepping down to become Louisiana's governor (and scary potential Republican Prez candidate for 2012 or 2016).

Reflecting on the number of special elections we've seen this year (Jindal's district will hold the seventh special election of the cycle), I was curious how many sitting members of Congress were originally elected in special elections.

So, you don't have to count, the list above includes 51 Representatives and 3 Senators. When the Illinois 14th race is finished (next March), there will be a total of 55 "specially elected" members in the House. That amounts to roughly 1/8 of the House membership.

Analogously, five members of the Senate began their service as appointed members. They are:

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK)
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI)
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY)

Sens. Akaka and Menendez were appointed from the House, so their appointments did not begin their congressional service. Haley Barbour is set to add a sixth name to the list soon. I won't be shocked if Bobby Jindal gets to add a seventh (replacing David Vitter) as soon as he takes office and frees Vitter to resign for a Republican successor.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


First Big Iowa Endorsement

OK, so the first big Iowa endorsement was Tom Vilsack's endorsement of Hillary. However, the first big Iowa endorsement since then came today with freshman Rep. Bruce Braley's (IA-1) endorsement of John Edwards.

The big game left on the range are Gov. Chet Culver and Lt. Gov. Patty Judge (neither are likely to endorse until after the caucuses, although Culver's wife Mariclare or father, Sen. John Culver could endorse), Sen. Tom Harkin (same deal with his wife Ruth), and Reps. Leonard Boswell (IA-3) and Dave Loebsack (IA-2).

Friday, November 30, 2007

Slew of New Early State Polls

I'm not going to post all of the polls, but I have updated the RCP averages along the margins. You may notice that Obama has sneaked past HRC in Iowa and that Huckabee has moved into 4th in each New Hampshire (passing Ron Paul) and South Carolina (passing John McCain).

There is one set of numbers that I want to draw your attention to. American Research Group asked supporters of each of the main candidates in Iowa if their support of that candidate was "definite".

Here were the results (overall % in parentheses):

Clinton 80% (25)
Obama 75% (27)
Edwards 57% (23)

I've heard some speculation that Edwards might collapse in these final weeks, leaving Iowa a two-way affair, or even serving as an opening for Richardson or the surging (in Iowa, at least) Biden. These numbers seem to indicate that such speculation might not be far off.

Huckabee 89% (27)
Thompson 75% (14)
McCain 71% (9)
Romney 56% (28)

I don't know why they didn't poll Giuliani supporters (they made up 9%, the same as McCain supporters), but I'm sure his number would be in the 70s along with McCain's and Thompson's. Regardless, Huckabee's figure shows that he is not going away. Even if he falls back to only those supporters who are "definite," he'll still walk away with 1/4 of the vote.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Not Exactly Surprised

Maybe I'm going out on a limb here, but I've gotta think that, barring a pre-Feb. 5th terrorist attack, Giuliani's campaign just ended. If the rest of the MSM does even half-asses their job with regard to this story, I don't see how he can survive it.

Let me know if you think I'm making to much of this.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I Never Thought I'd Link to

Yet, they've given me something that's worth a link.

They've got a contest to decide which of four Center for American Progress-produced ads they'll throw on TV. The ads are aimed at defining the word "progressive". It really epitomizes the kind of ideological and linguistic fight that I think the DNC ought to be engaging in during these off years, so I'm glad to see someone doing it.

On second thought, I won't ask you to follow the link and I'll just embed the ads:

So, which one(s) do you like? How should we define ourselves?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Michigan and New Hampshire Primary Dates Set

Mere hours after Michigan's Jan. 15 date was finally approved by the state Supreme Court, NH Secretary of State Bill Gardner announced that his primary will come exactly one week before Michigan's on Jan. 8th.

I've added Michigan GOP numbers to my list in the right margin. The Democratic primary will be a sham with only Clinton and Dodd on the ballot (maybe Kucinich, too).

The first campaign to send out an email about Gardner finally choosing a date? No surprise here, it's John McCain.

Let's Play Pool

We've got 43 days until Iowa. Clearly, we need to start a pool soon. So, how do we want to do this?

Some things to consider:

Do we want to just pick Iowa first and make New Hampshire picks on Jan. 4th? Or should we pick all of the early states at once? What should we do for Feb. 5th?

Are we picking the winners? Top 3 in each state? Top 5?

Most importantly, what are the stakes?

Hell, Yeah, I'm Confrontational

Like him or not, Edwards finally seems comfortable as an unabashed crusader. Perhaps this iteration of John Edwards (3.0, is it?) was the real John Edwards all along.

While I'm on this point, I also think Obama's getting the shaft with the coverage of his "testy" response to a voter in Iowa:

Sure, he yelled at an elderly woman and that was probably a bad plan. On the other hand, Democrats will always get painted as "weak on national security" until we do something about it. Some might say that yelling at the questioner isn't the solution. I say, what else should you do when someone implies that you are somehow disinclined to defend your fellow Americans. If that voter had been anything other than a senior, I'm sure Obama's anger would have been favorably compared to John Kerry's aloofness in the face of similar baseless attacks.

I could be wrong, though. Wouldn't be the first time (it would be the second).

New Blog Title

I finally came up with a better rap reference to head the blog. Thank you Evan Mecham and Public Enemy.

Monday, November 19, 2007

45 Days From Iowa, A Look at the Polls

It's been a while since my last poll round-up, so now seems as good a time as any.

To the numbers! The "numbers" are Real Clear Politics averages of recent polls.

Our side:

Iowa (Jan. 3rd)
Clinton 27.2%
Obama 24.8%
Edwards 21.8%
Richardson 10.3%
Biden 4.2%

Recent polls show that Clinton might be leveling off a bit. Obama is on a slight upward trend. Edwards and Richardson seem to have settled in around 22% and 10%, respectively. Biden might be seeing the beginning of a small bump.

New Hampshire (likely Jan. 8th)
Clinton 36.0%
Obama 23.0%
Edwards 13.2%
Richardson 8.4%

Clinton lost about 5 points after the debate screw up. She looks to have peaked for a while. Obama picked up about half of those points and is gaining a bit. Edwards is holding steady, while Richardson may be gaining a bit on the pack.

Nevada (Jan. 19th)
Clinton 42.3%
Obama 21.0%
Edwards 11.7%
Richardson 6.3%

All four candidates, Clinton, Obama, Edwards, and Richardson have held remarkably steady. That's probably a sign that very few eventual caucus-goers have started paying attention.

South Carolina (Jan. 26th)
Clinton 40.3%
Obama 25.0%
Edwards 12.7%

These numbers have been totally erratic. Clinton has ranged from 32-47%, Obama from 19-33%, and Edwards from 7-24%. At the other extreme from Nevada's numbers, this could still be an indication that voters here are paying less attention than their counterparts in Iowa or New Hampshire.

The dark side:

Iowa (Jan. 3rd)
Romney 27.8%
Huckabee 19,6%
Giuliani 13.8%
Thompson 11.0%
McCain 6.6%
Paul 4.2%

In general, numbers on the GOP side are a bit less stable than on our side. Still, it's possible to identify when the numbers vary around a relatively flat trend and when they are a sign of a surge or a fade. Here,
Romney has settled in just under 30%. Huckabee is on fire and could soon be posting averages in the 20s. Giuliani is fairly stable right around 15%. Thompson, McCain, and Paul are also holding steady around 11%, 7% and 4%, respectively.

New Hampshire (likely Jan. 8th)
Romney 33.0%
Giuliani 18.4%
McCain 16.2%
Paul 6.8%
Huckabee 6.6%
Thompson 4.8%

Romney's lead is growing by leaps and bounds, but 33% may be the peak of that growth. Giuliani is probably steady around 18%. McCain's rebound has put him right around Giuliani territory. These two are effectively tied for 2nd. Paul is getting close to flirting with double digits. Huckabee is a little bit all over the map, but probably won't fall below 5%. Thompson is in total free-fall.

Nevada (Jan. 19th)
Giuliani 29.0%
Romney 22.0%
Thompson 14.8%
McCain 10.0%
Paul 4.3%
Huckabee 3.3%

Numbers here have been erratic, probably because polls have been sparse. We can be fairly confident that Giuliani is around 30% and has a 6-8 point lead over Romney who is holding steady around 22%. Thompson is all over the map. He could be anywhere from 4th to 2nd in this state, but is probably in a rough tie with McCain in the low teens. Paul appears to be surging and nearing double digits. Huckabee has a handful, around 4% or 5%, but isn't exactly taking off.

South Carolina (Jan. 19th)
Romney 20.5%
Giuliani 20.5%
Thompson 16.8%
McCain 13.0%
Huckabee 8.3%

This is a 3-tiered race.
Romney is climbing into a small lead over Giuliani. Both men have about a 5-6 point lead on each Thompson and McCain. Huckabee might be climbing into that second tier, but for now he is sitting at around 10%.

Florida (Jan. 29th)
Giuliani 34.3%
Romney 15.8%
Thompson 13.8%
McCain 11.3%
Huckabee 8.8%

Giuliani is in the process of stretching his lead. He probably owes his surge to Romney's stall and especially to Thompson's collapse. McCain and Huckabee are locked in a virtual tie around 10%.

Friday, November 9, 2007

More Video

Apparently Kentuckians ought to reelect Mitch McConnell because Alben Barkley was really cool.

Someone's gonna have to explain to me how this is a good ad.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The "Electability" Question Pt. 1

I wish there were some other term, because I've always hated it when this factor is termed "electability". Maybe in 2004 that kind of talk was appropriate, but I find it difficult to say that any of our major candidates for 2008 are totally unelectable. We need a new term to measure the "electa-likelihood" of a candidate.

Anyway, I've been meaning to post SurveyUSA's latest state-by-state general election polls for some time. There are two sets of polls. The first, conducted in late September and early October, pairs Giuliani, Romney, and Thompson against Clinton, Edwards, and Obama in each of 17 different states, most of them swing states. The second, conducted in late October, pits HRC against Giuliani, Romney, Thompson, Huckabee, McCain, and Paul. They also threw in a Gore v. Giuliani match-up just for kicks.

A caveat:

These are polls done one year before what are still hypothetical elections. That said, the extended primary period does give many voters their first impressions of the main candidates long before the general election begins.

Here's how the 3 front-running Democrats match up against Il Duce, by region:


Giuliani 52% Clinton 41%
Giuliani 59% Obama 32%
Giuliani 50% Edwards 40%

Giuliani 43% Clinton 49%
Giuliani 50% Obama 41%
Giuliani 48% Edwards 43%

Giuliani 51% Clinton 41%
Giuliani 54% Obama 36%
Giuliani 50% Edwards 43%

Giuliani 44% Clinton 50%
Giuliani 45% Obama 46%
Giuliani 43% Edwards 48%

Region Commentary: Hillary's unique strength in Florida is what sticks out here. It's also remarkable to see how much worse Obama does in the South against Rudy than do Hillary and Edwards. Racism?


Giuliani 34% Clinton 59%
Giuliani 43% Obama 48%
Giuliani 40% Edwards 48%

New York
Giuliani 35% Clinton 59%
Giuliani 44% Obama 49%
Giuliani 46% Edwards 45%

Region Commentary: Clearly, it's worrisome to see Rudy do so well in two large and deeply blue states against both Obama and Edwards. To be fair, I doubt that he would actually win either state against any Democrat, but making a Democrat spend money in either of these states is a win all by itself. What's worse is the implication these numbers have for more purplish states in this region (CT, DE, ME. MD, NJ) Once again, regionalism appears to be alive and well in American politics.


Giuliani 42% Clinton 50%
Giuliani 42% Obama 50%
Giuliani 39% Edwards 53%

Giuliani 52% Clinton 40%
Giuliani 51%
Obama 40%
Giuliani 50%
Edwards 40%

Giuliani 41% Clinton 52%
Giuliani 43%
Obama 47%
Giuliani 40%
Edwards 48%

Giuliani 48% Clinton 45%
Giuliani 44%
Obama 46%
Giuliani 42%
Edwards 47%

Giuliani 48% Clinton 47%
Giuliani 52% Obama 39%
Giuliani 48% Edwards 47%

Giuliani 47% Clinton 44%
Giuliani 54%
Obama 33%
Giuliani 40%
Edwards 49%

Giuliani 44% Clinton 48%
Giuliani 43%
Obama 46%
Giuliani 45%
Edwards 44%

Region Commentary: Edwards is clearly the strongest candidate here, while Obama is clearly the weakest. Edwards and Clinton both dominate in MN, while Obama's lead is far smaller. Edwards holds a modest lead in MO, while Clinton and Obama are in dogfights. OH is shockingly bad news for Obama (against Giuliani, at least). In OK, Edwards not only holds his own, he crushes Giuliani. It's hard to look at this region as anything other than very good for Edwards, okay for Clinton, and very poor for Obama.


Giuliani 37%
Clinton 57%
Giuliani 44%
Obama 48%
Giuliani 44%
Edwards 46%

New Mexico
Giuliani 43% Clinton 51%
Giuliani 46%
Obama 46%
Giuliani 44%
Edwards 48%

Giuliani 44% Clinton 48%
Giuliani 46%
Obama 46%
Giuliani 44%
Edwards 47%

Giuliani 47% Clinton 47%
Giuliani 41%
Obama 52%
Giuliani 44%
Edwards 45%

Region Commentary: Those California numbers are clearly the story here. Giuliani's claim to blue-state appeal seems to be valid, unless it's countered by Hillary. Beyond that, I'm curious why Hillary and Obama are the runaway favorites in New Mexico and Washington, respectively.

Finally, some national numbers. These 3 match-ups have all been tested in recent Newsweek, Quinnipiac, and Rasmussen polls. Here they are:

Giuliani 45% Clinton 49%
Giuliani 45%
Obama 48%
Giuliani 45%
Edwards 48%

Giuliani 45% Clinton 43%
Giuliani 42%
Obama 43%
Giuliani 44%
Edwards 41%

Giuliani 46% Clinton 44%
Giuliani 45%
Obama 43%
Giuliani 45%
Edwards 44%

And that's why the state-by-states are the only polls that should be used in judging a candidate's "electability" against Giuliani.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Let's Watch Some Ads

Here's Fred's new ad:
Click to play

If he's trying to put the focus back on his Reagan-esque-i-ness, then this ad is spot-on.

We can presume that Dr. No will spend a good portion of yesterdays $4.2 million haul on these two New Hampshire ads:

I know that these ads look cheap and are kinda hokey, but I really like them. They fit perfectly with the image his is crafting, focusing on issues not glitz. In the face of ads run by an actor, a New Yorker, a guy who is more even polished than the actor, and a national celebrity who made a cameo in "Wedding Crashers", ads that look like they were shot with a personal camcorder might be exactly the trick. The first ad especially reminds me of those run by Paul Wellstone in his first race and Ned Lamont in his primary.

Finally, there's this Edwards ad. As Marc Ambinder says, "This is one of those ads you'll either love or hate. Too maudlin? Pitch-perfect?"

I think it's great. This is a DEMOCRATIC primary, after all.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Fred Thompson Reiterates His Opposition to the "Life Amendment"

Per MSNBC's First Read:

Thompson v. 2004 Republican Platform: Abortion
Russert asked Thompson if he would align himself with the 2004 Republican Party Platform on abortion, which called for "a human life amendment to the Constitution ... to make it clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children." Thompson's simple response was "No."

Although Thompson touted his 100% pro-life voting record, he called for states to be the ultimate decision makers. "People ought to be free, at state and local levels, to make decisions even Fred Thompson disagrees with,” he said. “That's what freedom is about."

While he called for no federal funding or legislation that would assist in abortion, Thompson also came out against a federal law. "Nobody's proposed a federal law on this,” he said. “Nobody's recently proposed a federal constitutional amendment."

He continued, "I do not think it is a wise thing to criminalize young girls. It's not a sense of the Senate. You're talking about potential criminal law. I said those things are going to ultimately be one in the hearts and minds of people."

This last line, "hearts and minds of people," is something Giuliani often says. Unlike Thompson who touts a 100 percent pro-life voting record, Giuliani is often portrayed as pro-choice. By using this line and saying he cannot agree to the 2004 Republican platform, has Thompson opened a can of worms for Romney and others to say Thompson is not a true Christian conservative?

For a large segment of the Republican primary electorate (especially in IA, MI, and SC) this makes Thompson as unacceptable as Rudy and Mitt (if you don't buy his "conversion"). So, who's got the balls to go on TV and label all three of them as effectively pro-choice? McCain? Huckabee? Paul? That trio will likely be the only candidates with money to spend on attack ads, unless Hunter, Tancredo, or Keyes have a huge fourth quarter.

The "Money Bomb"

Per the campaign of Dr. Ron Paul:

Ron Paul Campaign Has Top Day in 2008 Election Cycle

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA—Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul has raised over $3.1 million in the past 19 hours, making today’s the single largest fundraising effort of the 2008 election cycle. At 4:00 pm, the campaign’s $2.7 million broke the record for the largest online presidential primary fundraising effort in a single day, and by 6:30 pm, the campaign broke Mitt Romney’s $3.1 million record for single-day fundraising this year.

Thus far today, approximately 25,000 supporters have contributed to the so-called “money bomb.”

BTW: You can follow Paul's fourth quarter fund-raising progress on his website. Right now, he raising something like $10k every 5 minutes or so. He started at $2.77 million at midnight ET.

As of 9:16pm AZ time, he's at $4.15 million in new contributions.

At 10:17pm, he at $7.13 total for the quarter. That's $4.36 for the "money bomb". That's right, he raised $210k in an hour.

UPDATE: The Politico's Jonathan Martin has a good story on today's events.

UPDATE II: Related Facebook group.

SNL Reminds Us Why It's Still On the Air

They're the only show that actually attempts impersonations of the second-tier Democrats every four years.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Just a Quick Observation

While many gripe about the state of our presidential primary system based on the unpredictability of this cycle, I for one think the 2004 cycle evidenced a far more substantial problem. Only two weeks passed from the date of the Iowa Caucuses until mini-Super Tuesday, when seven states (Arizona, Delaware, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Carolina) effectively ended the race by voting overwhelmingly for Kerry (he won 5 states, while Clark won OK and Edwards won SC). After that date, Feb. 3 (the precursor to 2008's Feb. 5 date), the possibility of Edwards catching him was unthinkable. Effectively, the "voting stage" of the campaign lasted only two weeks and through only 9 states that make up less than 10% of the US population.

This time, the (meaningful) voting period is almost certain to extend to a full month since the Iowa caucuses have been forced to move up to the first days in January. To be exact, the Iowa Caucuses will now take place 33 days before the "national primary" on Feb. 5.

That sounds like the coolest 33 days ever.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Open Legislative Seats

Let me know if I miss anything.

I've included seats that aren't really open seats since their current holders will be replace under "resign to run" laws before Nov. 2008. I've included those seats, since the incumbents will likely be weaker than other incumbents who have previously faced the voters. These seats are marked with an asterisk

LD25 (Arzberger)
LD30* (Bee)

LD2* Chabin
LD5* (Konopnicki) - Probable
LD9* (Stump) - Running for Corp. Comm.
LD12 (Nelson)
LD18* (Anderson)? - Assuming he's running in CD5.
LD18* (Pearce)
LD20* (Robson) - Running for Corp. Comm.
LD22 (Farnsworth) - Might be open early if he is running for AG.
LD25 (Alvarez) - Running for Senate
LD25 (Burns) - Running for Senate
LD26 (Hershberger)
LD29 (Lopez)
LD30* (McClure) - Running for Corp. Comm.
LD30 (Paton) - Running for Senate

Judging solely by the makeup of these districts, it looks like the important races are in LDs 12, 20, 25, 26, and 30. The other seats look none too likely to switch parties, open seat or no.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

It Was Fun While It Lasted

The 2008 Presidential election is officially over.

Partisan Voting Indices for LDs

UPDATE: My PVI project is done. If anyone knows how to post a spreadsheet, I'd like to post the actual Prez results for each LD. Otherwise, I'll talk about these numbers sometime soon. Clearly, they need to be a big part of the backdrop behind any discussions of our efforts to take over the legislature.

Remember, PVIs between D+4 and R+4 generally indicate competitive districts.

Republican Districts (15)
LD1 R+8
LD3 R+13
LD4 R+13
LD5 R+14 (Jack Brown)
LD6 R+10
LD7 R+10
LD8 R+9
LD9 R+9
LD12 R+8
LD18 R+12
LD19 R+14
LD21 R+9
LD22 R+15
LD24 R+7 (all seats held by Dems)
LD30 R+7

Democratic Districts (9)
LD2 D+21
LD13 D+8
LD14 D+11
LD15 D+12
LD16 D+18
LD17 D+7
LD27 D+15
LD28 D+13
LD29 D+10

Swing Districts (6)
LD10 R+4 (Jackie Thrasher)
LD11 R+4 (Mark Anthony DeSimone)
LD20 R+3 (all seats held by GOP)
LD23 R+4 (all seats held by Dems)
LD25 R+1 (S-Arzberger & H-Alvarez)
LD26 R+4 (S-Pesquiera & H-Saradnik)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Episode One of "Posting YouTube Videos to Share Good Songs"

I've been listening to this song all night (pulling an all-nighter). Eminem really is remarkably good on this track. He gets a bad wrap, but if you like rap even a little bit his work on "Renegade" will earn your respect.

My Right Honorable Friend

While not doing my homework I discovered this hilarious story from 2006.

And Although It Seems Heaven Sent...

Check out Obama's Beauty and Barbershop Program.

And check out the sketches of Tupac Amaru Shakur and Snoop Doggy Dogg on the walls.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Secret Straw Poll Plan

Amidst all of the presidential primary reform plans (Regional, American/California, Delaware, National Primary, etc.) and the calls for reform spurred by this wacked-out cycle, I thought I'd offer an alternative. First I should note that I'm not at all convinced that we ought to have presidential primaries, but that's the system we've got and it's not likely to go away entirely.

It seems to me that each of the various plans is geared toward fixing only one or two problems with the current system and maintaining only one or two of the great advantages of the current system. None of them appear to start with a list of objectives and then build a new system around the whole list. Thus, I offer an attempt at such a list.

We want a system that:
  • Allows non-celebrity/multimillionaire candidates to get a real chance on the national stage.
  • Includes some kind of narrowing process, so that voters can get a good look at the 4 or 5 (or fewer) candidates that have earned their way to a real shot at the nomination.
  • Is as representative as possible in choosing the voters that get to take part in the narrowing process.
  • Allows as many voters as possible to take part in the final decision between the 4 or 5 (or fewer) top candidates.
  • Preserves the importance of Iowa and New Hampshire in the process (OK, so we probably don't actually want this, but I seriously doubt the national parties nor the candidates would allow any reform that didn't include this point).
Here's my plan:
  • Step 1: Two small states, chosen at random to represent two of the four regions (West, Midwest, South, Northeast) would hold non-binding primaries (not caucuses) in mid-January, separated by no more than one week from each other. A candidate must achieve a 5% threshold in at least one of these states to avoid being disqualified from future primaries (or at least from future debates). The key here is that the results would not be publicized, except for the lists of those candidates that did and did not meet the threshold. Representatives from each campaign would be able to monitor the process to ensure that no candidate is disqualified arbitrarily. All officials and campaign representatives involved in the tabulating of the results would be forbidden until penalty of law from saying anything about them (other than in court in an attempt to prove that irregularities took place). Why? This step is intended to begin the process of narrowing the candidates to those that are capable of breaking through and scoring at least a pittance of support in small, early states. The results would be kept secret only so that the media would not grab on to the winners of these events as proclaim them the prohibitive front-runners.
  • Step 2: Three small to medium-sized states, chosen at random to represent one of the regions included in Step 1 and the two regions not represented in Step 1, would hold their non-binding primaries (again, not caucuses) in mid-February, now separated by no more than ten days from the first state to the last. The region to be represented in both Step 1 and Step 2 would rotate each four years. A candidate must achieve a 15% threshold in at least one of these states to avoid being disqualified from future primaries (or at least from future debates). Again, the actual results would not be publicized. Only the lists of those candidates that did or did not meet the threshold in any given state would be published. Why? This step would further narrow the fields to those candidates that can bring in a substantial amount of support. However, 15% is not prohibitive for those candidates not included in the media-determined "first tier", especially after several candidates have already been eliminated. Further, the month between Steps 1 and 2 would allow the lesser-known Step 1 survivors to turn their newly acquired legitimacy into dollars and free media. It would also allow for several debates between the narrowed field.
  • Step 3: The 4 DNC-chosen states (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina) would hold their primaries and caucuses over a three week (roughly) period beginning in early March. Why? Well, I wanted to leave this step out, but Iowa and New Hampshire would never allow it. At best, we can diminish their influence by including the other states. Still, we can take some solace in the idea that these states could shake up a relatively stable race by elevating a candidate or two from "contender" to "front-runner" status. That might keep the race from getting stale and keep voters interested.
  • Step 4: A two-stage national primary (including the four early states) would be held in late April and early May, separated by two weeks. The actual delegate counts would be determined by the second election. Why? The two-stage system would further narrow the field before the final vote. There would be immense pressure on those candidates who survive up until this point, but fail to come anywhere near 1st or 2nd in the first stage to drop out before the second vote is held. Most likely, those candidate who spend most of their resources and still fail to put up a fair showing in the first stage would need little persuasion to throw up the white flag. In this intervening period, deals could be made, supporters of weaker candidates could reconsider their allegiances, and a final debate or two could be held among the 2 or 3 candidates that appear to have a genuine shot at winning on the second election day (or at least of taking enough delegates into a hung convention to have a chance there). Finally, if one candidate wins the first vote overwhelmingly, their party's leaders would likely make a big push to get the other contenders to drop out so that the second vote is a show of party unity heading into the general election.
  • Step 5: The party conventions. If one candidate wins a majority of delegates at the May national primary, the conventions would likely be no different from how they are today. However, my proposed system would almost certainly increase the likelihood of a final delegate count that is divided between three or more candidates. The various campaigns would, of course, scramble to assemble a majority before the conventions take place, but given most state parties' delegate loyalty rules (they tend to apply for the first two ballots) the real fight would happen on the convention floor. Who knows, there might even be an Eric Baker every now and again. Why? One gripe against primaries is that they reduce the influence of party bigwigs, the smoke-filled room types that would never have nominated Reagan nor Clinton. This gripe has several motives behind it, but my favorite is that party strategists would never allow the nomination of a candidate seen as too divisive and unelectable, if only they had that power. Philosophically, it should be acceptable that those who actually run the party have some say in the final determination of the party's nominee. Democratic objections can be overcome by the reality that behind-the-scenes machinations would only come into play in those situations where the primaries have produced a hopelessly divided convention. In other words, the choice of the insiders would only win if the outsiders have not made a clear choice.
I believe that this plan meets all of the above requirements. Lesser-known and poorly funded candidates have multiple chances to become viable. Indeed, if they simply have enough money (and a good enough message) to run a bare bones campaign in just one of the Step 1 states, a candidate can legitimize his campaign by surviving the first "elimination round". One the other hand, the narrowing process would likely knock out the Duncan Hunters, Tom Tancredos, and Chris Dodds (it pains me to put him in this category) of the world who have inflated egos but who fail to make an appealing case for their continued presence in the race. The regional basis of each of the first three rounds ensures some sense of representativeness throughout the narrowing process. The national primaries allow as many voters as possible to take part in the final determining votes for the nominations. Finally, the process maintains Iowa and New Hampshire in the position to take one of the several remaining candidates and elevate them to front-runner status.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Family Research Council Straw Poll Results

There are the results and there are the results. There were in essence two polling "places". One was on-site at the meeting and one was on-line. Marc Ambinder notes that it is impossible to determine how many attendees voted on-line, but that we can assume that some non-attending FRC members voted on-line.

Here are the aggregated results:

Romney 1595 27.62%
Huckabee 1565 27.15%
Paul 865 14.98%
Thompson 564 9.77%
Undecided 329 5.70%
Brownback 297 5.14%
Hunter 140 2.42%
Tancredo 133 2.30%
Giuliani 107 1.85%
McCain 81 1.40%

On-site results:

Huckabee 488 51.26%
Romney 99 10.40%
Thompson 77 8.09%
Tancredo 65 6.83%
Giuliani 60 6.30%
Hunter 54 5.67%
McCain 30 3.15%
Brownback 26 2.73%
Paul 25 2.63%
Undecided 11 1.16%
Not Voting 7 0.74%

Mitt, Rudy, and Fred can officially welcome Huckabee into the first tier.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Strategic Vision Poll Confirms HRC Ahead, Huckabee Surging in Iowa

Here are the results:

(results from 9/21-9/23 in parentheses)

Clinton 28% (24)
Obama 23% (21)
Edwards 20% (22)
Richardson 9% (13)
Biden 6% (4)
Dodd 1% (1)
Kucinich 1% (1)
Undecided 12% (14)

Romney 27% (30)
Giuliani 13% (17)
Huckabee 12% (8)
Thompson 10% (13)
McCain 5% (6)
Brownback 4% (2)
Paul 4% (3)
Tancredo 2% (2)
Hunter 1% (1)
Undecided 22% (13)

It says as lot that the number of undecided Republicans has jumped up nine points in about three weeks.

Family Research Council Flirting with Romney?

I'm watching Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council on the Situation Room. First, he won't vote for Giuliani. What really interests me, though, is that he emphasizes that he doesn't want to snub the economic or foreign policy conservatives with who he supports. He specified that he doesn't want to advance a "pro-tax" candidate. Is that a hint that FRC won't get behind Huckabee? Also, when asked about Romney, he said that he is sure his conversion on the social issues is genuine and that he doesn't mind Romney being Mormon (even though he admitted that Romney is not a Christian). He said that a lot of social conservatives should feel comfortable with Romney and that he feels comfortable with him, personally.

There will be a straw poll later this weekend. I'll post the results as soon as they are public.