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.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Whole Race Just Blew Up (in Iowa)

Just when the poll numbers were getting boring, Rasmussen drops a couple of bombs on both fields. First, it should be noted that Rasmussen has been the most accurate polling firm over the last two cycles. That is not to say that they have a fix on how to poll those elusive "likely caucus goers", but their reputation does deserve a mention here. Their numbers have been a bit different (usually less Clinton/Giuliani friendly) from other firms so far this cycle, largely because they employ a tighter (and more realistic) response screen. For these polls, they employed the tightest screen I've ever seen. No one knows what the right screen is, but I would venture to guess that it's almost impossible to make the screen too tight. No matter what, a poll will miss the huge number of people who will caucus for the first time (especially on the GOP side, since the last caucus was in 2000 and McCain didn't even participate). Knowing that, it seems like firms ought to make their polls as representative of the veteran caucus-goers as possible.

Anyway, to the numbers ( averages prior to this poll in parentheses).

On our side, the nightmare is finally here.

Clinton 33% (27)
Edwards 22% (22)
Obama 21% (23)
Richardson 9% (11)
Biden 4% (4)

Rasmussen also released a few interesting crosstabs. Clinton leads among both women and men. Obama scores his highest ratings among those with incomes over $75,000. Clinton does her best with those under $40,000. Edwards does his best in between the two, winning that group 29% to Clinton's 28% (and 21% for Obama). 59% of Clintonites say they are committed to voting for her, as opposed to only 51% and 48% of Edwardsonians and Obamamaniacs, respectively. As I've mentioned before, if Clinton wins in Iowa, she is the nominee (barring a Dean Scream type blow-up, which seems all too unlikely).

The GOP numbers are just as scary (for us).

Romney 25% (28)
Thompson 19%
Huckabee 18%
Giuliani 13%
McCain 6%
Brownback 3%
Tancredo 2%
Paul 2%
Hunter 1%

That's right. Huckabee is no longer knocking on the door of the top tier in Iowa. He's kicked it down and knocked Giuliani unconscious with it. This is largely because he finally leads among Evangelicals (unfortunately they didn't put the numbers up on their non-subscription story). On this side, 57% to 61% of each of the top 4's supporters say that they could still change their votes. As hard as Huckabee is trying not to raise money, I have a hard time seeing him outside the top 3 here and not enjoying the corresponding fundraising surge going into the rest of the earlies. If he wins, he just might lock up the Evangelicals and southern conservatives and run clear to the nomination, or at least earn himself a one-on-one fight with Rudy on Feb. 5th.

Forgive me if another poll comes out that reestablishes the old pattern and makes this poll look like an outlier. It's hard not to get excited when the numbers shift so drastically, especially when the trends all conform to expectations.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Top Four Polling Trends in the Earlies

A quick glance at the trend lines from show some of the second tier candidates lines converging and set to intersect before the 2008 mark. Of course, those trend lines are at least partly a product of whatever regression uses (I don't know what it is). The slopes of those trend lines are anything but set in stone.

Given all of that, trend lines do give us an idea of how the state of the race is changing. That allows us to speculate on what the race will look like in January if nothing changes, so that we can see which campaigns need something about the trends to change.

As I noted a couple days ago, Obama has passed Edwards for second in Iowa. He and Hillary appear to be gaining at the same rate. Edwards, on the other hand, is in a relative state of collapse since his peak in April or May of 2007. In fact, Richardson's modest growth rate may put him past Edwards by January.

This is why Hillary cannot be allowed to win Iowa. Not only is her New Hampshire lead substantial, it continues to grow at an absurd rate. I don't know what all the talk is about Obama's huge momentum in New Hampshire, since he's been in the slow decline there all year. As in Iowa, Edwards is falling apart (at least compared to the other candidates), while Richardson appears almost certain to pass him for third.

This is much more a two-way race than either Iowa or New Hampshire, but otherwise it's pretty much the same story.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

In Case You Haven't Heard

Huckabee only raised $1 million in third quarter, signaling will likely never turn his natural primary voter appeal into a decent budget. Some are speculating that he'll only have money to run a competitive ad program or a competitive field program and only in Iowa.

In contrast, Paul raised $5.1 million in the quarter and has $5.1 million on hand. He'll be able to contend in the smaller early states with ad buys likely similar in spread to those of the top tier candidates.

Will There Be Two Udalls in the 111th Senate Freshman Class?

There are precious few days in an election cycle when the party most likely to win a given Senate seat flips. Today was one of those days.

That puts it at 4 seats: (CO, NH, NM, & VA) that are more likely than to shift into our column. There are no Democratic seats that currently lean the other direction.

Social Security at the MSNBC Debate

I'm just finally watching the MSNBC debate from Dartmouth as a means of avoiding writing my paper and studying for my test. If you haven't seen it, you can find it here.

Social Security starts at around the 60 1/2 minute mark and the answers are really pretty interesting, because this is one of the few domestic policy issues where there is pretty strong disagreement within the field.

As I watch it, Clinton, Richardson, and, sadly, Dodd, make me want to vomit.