Sunday, March 16, 2008

Obama's electability & coattail advantage over Hillary

silver spring recently did an excellent analysis of the SurveyUSA numbers that show Obama has greater coattails than Hillary. This coattail effect was shown last week when Democrats took control of Dennis Hastert's former seat in Illinois. Regardless of who's president, unless the Democrats get a supermajority, expect to see the remaining Senate Republicans filibuster all good progressive legislation, especially under a Democratic president. So the issue of coattails becomes important.

I want to extend what silver spring did by looking at Rasmussen's state numbers. Now, I trust SurveyUSA the most, as they've consistently shown themselves to get very accurate results. In 2004, they did the best job of any polling firm, and their track record's holding this year too. The second best pollster from 2004 is Rasmussen Reports. Let's look at their state numbers. I've bolded which Dem does better against McCain in each state.

StateDemRepDem Margin
CaliforniaObama 53%McCain 38%Win by 15%
Clinton 46%McCain 39%Win by 7%
ColoradoObama 46%McCain 39%Win by 7%
Clinton 35%McCain 49%Lose by 14%
ConnecticutObama 50%McCain 38%Win by 12%
Clinton 47%McCain 44%Win by 3%
FloridaObama 43%McCain 47%Lose by 4%
Clinton 40%McCain 47%Lose by 7%
IowaObama 44%McCain 41%Win by 3%
Clinton 37%McCain 47%Lose by 10%
MichiganObama 41%McCain 44%Lose by 3%
Clinton 43%McCain 46%Lose by 3%
MinnesotaObama 53%McCain 38%Win by 15%
Clinton 42%McCain 47%Lose by 5%
MissouriObama 40%McCain 42%Lose by 2%
Clinton 42%McCain 43%Lose by 1%
NevadaObama 50%McCain 38%Win by 12%
Clinton 40%McCain 49%Lose by 9%
New HampshireObama 49%McCain 36%Win by 13%
Clinton 43%McCain 41%Win by 2%
New JerseyObama 43%McCain 45%Lose by 2%
Clinton 50%McCain 39%Win by 11%
New MexicoObama 44%McCain 44%Tie
Clinton 38%McCain 50%Lose by 12%
OhioObama 40%McCain 46%Lose by 6%
Clinton 40%McCain 46%Lose by 6%
OregonObama 49%McCain 40%Win by 9%
Clinton 42%McCain 45%Lose by 3%
PennsylvaniaObama 43%McCain 44%Lose by 1%
Clinton 44%McCain 46%Lose by 2%
South DakotaObama 38%McCain 48%Lose by 10%
Clinton 38%McCain 50%Lose by 12%
VirginiaObama 44%McCain 49%Lose by 5%
Clinton 41%McCain 51%Lose by 10%
WashingtonObama 44%McCain 45%Lose by 1%
Clinton 40%McCain 48%Lose by 8%
WisconsinObama 44%McCain 43%Win by 1%
Clinton 38%McCain 50%Lose by 12%

And for you visual types, here it is in graphical form, based on the Democratic margin of victory.

In 14 of those states Rasmussen surveyed, Obama outperforms Hillary against McCain. In only 3 states does Hillary do better, and only in one of them does she actually have the lead over McCain, in New Jersey. And no, a Democrat is not going to lose New Jersey, no matter what some Hillary supporters are saying. A "safe" blue state is not suddenly flipping red in 2008.

Now, regarding what I said earlier about the polls agreeing? When do SurveyUSA and Rasmussen agree on who does better against McCain? Well, pretty much, they agree who does better almost every single time. So let's look at who does better against McCain, starting from Obama's most favorable to Clinton's most favorable, per Rasmussen, with the SurveyUSA margin in parentheses. I've also bolded the ones where there's a key Senate race going on.

Colorado, Obama +21 (SUSA: Obama +15)
Nevada, Obama +21 (SUSA: Obama +13)
Minnesota, Obama +20 (SUSA: Obama +3)
Iowa, Obama +13 (SUSA: Obama +14)
Wisconsin, Obama +13 (SUSA: Obama +7)
New Mexico, Obama +12 (SUSA: Obama +7)
Oregon, Obama +12 (SUSA: Obama +13)
New Hampshire, Obama +11 (SUSA: Obama +10)
Connecticut, Obama +9 (SUSA: Obama +11)
California, Obama +8 (SUSA: Obama +1)
Washington, Obama +7 (SUSA: Obama +16)
Virginia, Obama +5 (SUSA: Obama +10)
Florida, Obama +3 (SUSA: Clinton +11)
South Dakota, Obama +2 (SUSA: Obama +8)
Ohio, Tie (SUSA: Tie)
Missouri, Clinton +1 (SUSA: Clinton +2)
New Jersey, Clinton +13 (SUSA: Clinton +5)

Only three states give contradictory data, and with the margins so close, you can't really say that there's contradictory data for Michigan. In the other two, Rasmussen has Obama doing significantly better than Hillary.

Florida, Obama +3 (SUSA: Clinton +11)
Michigan, Tie (SUSA: Obama +1)
Pennsylvania, Obama +1 (SUSA: Clinton +6)

(Yes, I know, New Jersey has a Senate race too. But after Estabrook dropped out, in terms of it being a "key" Senate race, well... it's not. For now.)

Now, just because Obama or Hillary does better than McCain in those numbers I've listed above doesn't mean they'll actually win those states. Sometimes it's a matter of not losing by as much as the other person.

Strangely enough, both Rasmussen and SurveyUSA show Clinton and Obama performing the same against McCain, though Rasmussen has both of them losing by 6 points to McCain, while SurveyUSA has both of them handily beating him by 10 points! Now that's unexpected, unless you think that Ohioans really don't care which person's the Democratic candidate. But that still doesn't explain going from losing the state by 6 to winning the state by 10.

But for the most part, the two polling firms agree on who does better against McCain, thus making us more sure in stating that that candidate really does indeed have an advantage over the other one. And in terms of possible coattails, it's almost pretty obvious Obama will do a better job. Especially in Colorado and Oregon, where both firms show Obama does considerably better than Clinton against McCain, the coattail factor may be critical in ensuring a Democrat wins those two Senate seats, especially with the polling in those two Senate races not exactly in our favor right now.

Of course, all this just a snapshot in time, and things can change if some revelations come to light in the next couple weeks or months on any of the candidates. But for now, it does seem that the talk about Obama being a map-changer is justified by the polling data, from both SurveyUSA and Rasmussen.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Keith Olbermann's Special Comment on Hillary and Ferraro

Keith Olbermann delivered an extremely powerful and emotional Special Comment yesterday, about the race-baiting remarks of Geraldine Ferraro and the Clinton campaign's blase reaction to it all, especially given that Hillary was so adamant in that last debate that Obama reject AND denounce Louis Farrakhan's endorsement of Obama, when Farrakhan in no way worked on his campaign, while Ferraro was on Hillary's finance committee. And Ferraro seems to have a history of saying things like this.

Oh, and Ferraro has found herself an ally in... Bill O'Reilly. *hurl*

Water Consumption

I thought today I'd borrow this quick little tidbit from the guys at
"The United States uses, on average, about 345 BILLION gallons of fresh water per day. To put this in perspective, that is enough water to cover the state of Rhode Island to a depth of a foot – used every day."
I encourage you to check out the link for more complete details. What I found most enlightening is the fact that by saving energy and switching to renewable energy sources, not only do we avoid the emission of carbon dioxide and other pollutants, we also save tremendous amounts of water.

If you are interested in learning how you can help save water, visit Treehugger's page on how to Green Your Water.


Monday, March 10, 2008

IL-14: Success! Democrats win Hastert's seat!

Remember Dennis Hastert? He lost the Speaker of the House to Nancy Pelosi when Democrats took back the House in 2006. Well, without his precious Speakership, he decided to take his ball and go home, and soon resigned from Congress. Nevermind that the people in his district re-elected him to serve a two-year term. And so, there was a special election on Saturday for his seat. So what happened?

Physicist Bill Foster, the Democrat, won! He beat back Republican ice cream magnate Jim Oberweis, 53%-47%.

Bill Foster  (D): 53% (52,010)
Jim Oberweis (R): 47% (46,988)

The House Democrats' chief fundraiser said the victory in today’s special election for the Illinois seat vacated by Republican former Speaker Dennis Hastert is only the beginning of the hurt his party is going to lay on the GOP this fall.

“Despite spending 20 percent of ... their cash on hand, the [National Republican Congressional Committee] was unable to hold a seat easily won by President Bush and held by Speaker Hastert for 20 years,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen crowed. “Americans of all political stripes are rejecting Republicans’ divisive, status quo politics and turning to Democratic candidates for change.”

Democrat Bill Foster, a physicist running his first campaign, scored a 52-48 upset over Republican Jim Oberweis, a dairy owner who was expected to hold Illinois’ 14th Congressional District for the GOP. Foster won even in Kendall County, Hastert’s home base, reliably Republican – until now.

The NRCC took exception to Van Hollen’s analysis.

“The one thing 2008 has shown is that one election in one state does not prove a trend,” spokeswoman Karen Hanretty said. “In fact, there has been no national trend this entire election season. The presidential election is evidence of that. The Democratic candidates are trading election victories from week to week and the nomination could hinge on a few news cycles. The one message coming out of 2008 so far is that what happens today is not a bellwether of what happens this fall.”

Van Hollen said Foster’s victory “sends a political shock wave across America this election year.”

“It is a stunning rejection of the Bush Administration, its Republican allies, and presidential nominee John McCain,” the Maryland Democrat said. “Republican candidates learned tonight that Senator McCain, who campaigned with the Republican nominee, cannot save them from defeat this November against strong Democratic challengers, even in districts that voted overwhelmingly for President Bush.”

The GOP is trying to spin this away as simply being an Illinois thing, nevermind that this is a "red" district that gave Bush 55% of the vote in 2004, and Hastert still got 60% of the vote in 2006 even with the Mark Foley scandal hanging over his head. And the NRCC had tried to pull out all the stops in retaining the seat, spending about 29% of their entire cash on hand in this race. This is the first special election in four years where the party affiliation has changed, since Democrats won two special elections in Kentucky (Ben Chandler) and South Dakota (Stephanie Herseth Sandlin).

And yes, Obama played a key role here, cutting a commercial for Foster, while McCain campaigned with Oberweis. It was seen as a proxy fight between the two camps. Hillary Clinton, for whatever reason, did not even bother to endorse Foster in this race. And guess what? By becoming a Congressman, Foster will also be certified as a superdelegate, and yes, he's supporting Obama. This race can be seen as the first sign of Obama's coattails in a downticket race. Remember, unless we get to 60 Democratic votes in the Senate, expect to see 41 or more Republican Senators filibuster just about every good piece of legislation with a Democratic President.

Now, Foster has said he'd caucus with the Blue Dogs, so he's not exactly an out-and-out progressive. But given the makeup of his district, that may not be a bad thing. And on some key issues where the Blue Dogs have stabbed us in the back and sided with Bush, Foster doesn't seem to be making the same mistake, coming out strongly against telecom immunity.

Oh, and John Laesch, who ran against Hastert in 2006, and narrowly lost the Democratic primary to Foster this time around, has withdrawn his recount petition (there were some irregularities) for the sake of the party. Good on him. Look for his name in the future.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

A look at the Senate races

So with eight months to go, I figure it’s time for an updated look at all the 2008 Senate races. There are 35 seats up for election because of a scenario in Wyoming and Mississippi where both seats are up, due to the passing of Craig Thomas and the resignation of Trent Lott, respectively. Now obviously, quite a few of the races are considered "safe" for the incumbent. So I’ll rank these in terms of tiers. The top tier will be the races where there is a serious challenger to the incumbent (or at least the incumbent’s party, in cases of retirement), where the party holding the seat has a real shot of switching. The second tier are races that could become top tier races, but are not at this point. Tier III are ones where a major event would need to happen for the seat to come into play. And the safe seats? Well, Mike Gravel has a better shot at winning the presidency than those incumbents have of losing their races.

I've only included the Tier I races here, otherwise this post would take up the entire page. To see the complete list, go here. #1 on the list is the seat most likely to change hands, and so forth. And like most countdowns, we're doin' this in reverse order.

Tier I

10. Texas: John Cornyn (R) has some pretty anemic poll numbers, and the immigration issue seems to have triggered a change in the Latino community. State rep. Rick Noriega (D) got a nice boost when wealthy trial attorney Mikal Watts (D) dropped out of the race and threw his support to Noriega, ensuring a united Democratic front against Cornyn in November. Noriega is also Lt. Col. in the Texas National Guard, served in Afghanistan after 9/11, and was chosen to coordinate relief efforts in Houston after Hurricane Katrina. Earlier polling shows Texans are largely dissatisfied with Cornyn, and a baseline poll from last September showed Cornyn beating Noriega 51%-35%, with only 40% saying Cornyn deserved re-election. And that was before Watts dropped out of the Democratic primary. The Texas GOP seems to be concerned about this race, as they recently demanded Noriega release his military records... to them. Instead, Noriega released his records to the entire public and denounced their swiftboating tactics at the same time. Well played, sir. However, the fundraising numbers are troubling, with Cornyn having outraised Noriega by more than a 4-to-1 margin in the fourth quarter, and Noriega trailed by almost $7 million in cash on hand to end the year.

9. Maine: Susan Collins (R) doesn’t have the stature that fellow Senator Olympia Snowe (R) has. Rep. Tom Allen (D) is running to challenge Collins. But even though Maine is a blue state, he’ll have an uphill climb. Collins has worked hard to craft her moderate credentials. The most recent polls all show Collins over the 50% mark, with almost 20-point leads over Allen. And the Maine newspapers suck. I mean, really suck.

Update: I mean, gawd, they really, really suck.

8. Oregon: Gordon Smith (R) has two challengers in lawyer/activist Steve Novick (D) and Oregon House Speaker Jeff Merkley (D). Smith’s approvals from 2007 are not as good as they were in 2006 and before. We’ll see if that trend continues. The state party itself is in financial trouble too, facing over a quarter million dollars in debt, and the IRS is calling for some missing payroll taxes. Rasmussen polling still shows Smith with double digit leads over both Democrats, but he is under the 50% mark. Interesting to note, Smith is actually a cousin to the two Udalls running for Senate.

7. Alaska: Ted Stevens (R) is always a candidate for retirement, being 85 years old now, but says he will seek a sixth term. But Stevens is in some legal trouble, with the FBI having raided his home last June in connection with possible bribes from Veco Corp., where several executives have already pled guilty to bribing his son Ben, who was the former state senate president. Former Veco CEO Bill Allen admitted some bribe money also went towards Ted Stevens. Democrats got their top choice when Anchorage mayor Mark Begich announced he was forming an exploratory committee (the first step in running). His father Nick Begich was a former Congressman, who was killed in a plane crash along with House Majority Leader Hale Boggs (D-LA) in 1972. A Research 2000 poll from December showed Begich already leading Stevens 47%-41%.

6. Louisiana: Mary Landrieu (D) is the most endangered Democratic incumbent in 2008. But how endangered that really is remains to be seen. She was able to win in 2002, a decidedly strong year for the GOP. Karl Rove was able to woo state treasurer John Kennedy (no relation to the Kennedy family in Massachusetts) to switch parties to run for re-election to State Treasurer as a Republican last August, and after winning, he announced he would challenge Landrieu for her Senate seat. Party switching actually seems rather common in Louisiana. And hundreds of thousands of residents from New Orleans and the surrounding areas never came back to the state after Hurricane Katrina, making it even more red than it used to be. Bobby Jindal (R) didn’t even need a runoff to win the governor’s race last year, getting over 50% of the vote on the first ballot and performing stronger than expected. So that doesn’t bode well for Landrieu’s chances. The good news for her is that she raised over twice as much as Kennedy did in the fourth quarter last year (October – December) and has almost 10 times as cash on hand as he does.

5. Colorado: Wayne Allard (R) kept his pledge of only serving two terms, and is retiring from the Senate. Democrats have cleared the path for Rep. Mark Udall here. He’s Mo Udall’s son, and Tom Udall’s cousin. On the GOP side, former Rep. Bob Schaffer is the likely nominee. Colorado has been trending bluer recently, picking up a Senate seat in 2004 (Ken Salazar), and a congressional district and the governor’s office in 2006. Schaffer had previously lost the GOP primary for that Senate seat back in 2004 to Pete Coors. At the end of 2007, Udall was sitting on a $3.6 million warchest, with Schaffer trailing by over $2 million. Money isn’t everything, but damn. Dick Wadhams (no, really, that’s his name) is taking over Schaffer’s campaign. Wadhams got Allard first elected to the Senate, and became a rising start in the GOP for managing John Thune’s 2004 win over Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle in South Dakota. But, he was also in charge of managing George Allen’s 2006 re-election bid in Virginia, sending him from a 20-point lead seven months out to defeat. (Allen revealing his inner racist greatly helped, too.) However, recent Rasmussen polling shows Schaffer barely edging out Udall, so this race is far from a given pickup.

4. Minnesota: Norm Coleman (R) won this seat in 2002 only after Paul Wellstone (D) died just a few weeks before the election. With two top challengers in comedian Al Franken and lawyer Mike Ciresi, Coleman had a change of heart on Iraq, actually criticizing Bush over his handling of Iraq for the first time in years. And the polls have been steadily favoring the Democrats, especially Franken. While earlier polls showed Coleman leading by double digits (though under the 50% mark), both Democrats have been steadily closing the gap. And in February, three polls came out showing Al Franken either leading Coleman or basically tied: Minnesota Public Radio (Franken 43.2%, Coleman 40%), Rasmussen (Franken 49%, Coleman 46%), and SurveyUSA (Coleman 47%, Franken 46%). Ciresi doesn’t seem to do as well. Franken is showing himself to be much more than just a comedian. In 2007, he raised close to $7 million from over 81,000 people! The Minnesota SEIU, a decent-sized union, just endorsed Franken too. In case you’re wondering, there’s no “primary” for the Democrats, but rather the nominee will be picked at the party convention this June among about 1,400 delegates.

3. New Mexico: When Pete Domenici (R) announced he was retiring, it suddenly turned this former Tier III seat into a top tier race. Rep. Tom Udall (D) announced for this seat shortly thereafter. Yes, he is part of the famed Udall political family; his father Stewart served as Interior Secretary under JFK, and his uncle Mo was an Arizona Congressman for 30 years, also running for President in 1976. Stewart Udall was largely responsible for just about all the environmental laws that were passed in the 1960s. The GOP side will feature a primary fight between Reps. Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce. So the entire New Mexico U.S. House delegation is running for this Senate seat! Before Udall even entered the race, hypothetical matchups from Research 2000 and SurveyUSA showed him crushing both GOP opponents by over 15 points. But a more recent Rasmussen poll shows a closer race, though with Udall still hitting the 50% mark in both matchups. The main New Mexico blog questioned the accuracy of the poll, given their matchup showing Obama tied with McCain, defying the trends you see in other states.

2. New Hampshire: John Sununu (R) is about to become 2008’s version of Rick Santorum. Democrats could run a ham sandwich against him, and it would be a competitive race. No, really. But why settle for a ham sandwich when you can run the former governor? Jeanne Shaheen (D), who Sununu beat in 2002 thanks to some illegal phone-jamming on Election Day for which several GOP operatives went to prison, has led Sununu in almost every single poll taken. The latest from the University of New Hampshire shows her leading 54%-37%. Rasmussen shows a closer race, with her leading 49%-41%. A general rule of thumb: any incumbent polling under 50% in an election poll is in trouble. Under 40%, and you can start writing their political obituary. Add to that, the fact New Hampshire strongly went blue in 2006 all over the place, kicking out both Republican Congressmen and flipping over 80 seats in the state House, giving Democrats control of both state legislature for the first time since 1910, and Sununu has to be considered the most endangered incumbent.

1. Virginia: Incredibly popular former Governor Mark Warner (D) is running for this seat that opened up when John Warner (R), no relation, announced his retirement. Warner left the governorship with a whopping 80% approval rating. That’s freaking unheard of. He’ll face another former Governor, Jim Gilmore (R), who some of you may remember tried running for President last year. Gilmore was known as the governor who helped drive the state into near-bankruptcy with his car tax cut, and Warner as the one who fixed the problem when he took over for Gilmore. Rasmussen Reports released a poll two weeks ago showing Mark Warner would CRUSH Jim Gilmore, 57%-37%.