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).