Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

Keeping a close eye on developments in the 2008 U.S. Senate races

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wednesday Tidbits

  • Oregon: It looks like Oregon state House Speaker Jeff Merkley is about to formally enter the 2008 Senate race against Gordon Smith. Meanwhile, Steve Novick holds Gordon Smith to the 50-mark. Despite earlier recruitment setbacks, Smith is far from out of the woods.

  • Kentucky: Bad news for Mitch McConnell: he's looking at his worst approval ratings ever (at 48-44) just as Democrats are entering the race! Speaking of, WaPo's Cillizza looks at state Attorney General Greg Stumbo's strengths and weaknesses in a campaign against McConnell and comes to the conclusion that "this race has potential despite McConnell's significant political chops and fundraising capacity." Meanwhile, The Hill suggests that the 2007 gubernatorial race in Kentucky could "hamstring" Democratic fundraising for candidates challenging McConnell. I'd counter that there will be enough time left in the year after the election for Senate candidates to get their asks in, and they'll likely enjoy momentum from a new Democratic Governor. Much to look forward to.

  • Minnesota: Uh-oh! Norm Coleman's disapproval has climbed to an atrocious 48%.

  • Massachusetts: The Boston Herald offers a John Kerry challenger-watch:

    A slew of Republican names have been kicked around, including former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, Harvard Pilgrim honcho Charlie Baker, radio host Peter Blute, former Bush chief of staff Andy Card, U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan and even Brockton convenience store kingpin Christy Mihos.

    The latest name being floated by GOP types is Pioneer Institute director Jim Stergios, the former undersecretary of the state Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. One insider said Stergios was approached recently by some top GOP fund-raisers and is considering jumping in.
    Note to the NRSC: Massachusetts can be competitive. You just have to drop a few million bucks there. Do it!

  • Alaska: The Alaska Congressional delegation corruption pyramid is percolating.

  • Texas: Have fun playing dress-up with John Cornyn.

  • Fox "News" has a grand tradition of repeatedly changing the facts of a situation, like the Party affiliation of wayward Republicans. As such, Rising Hegemon offers this satirical look at Fox News through the 'early years.'


    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    A few notes about the Oregon poll. First, I'm not really surprised you didn't mention the 23-point deficit in the front page. Second, the National Journal's Hotline reported the poll today, but not the numbers, becaues of this note:

    "Note: While initial and "informed" head-to-head matchups were conducted, even the initial matchup questions included "biographical" information about the candidates. The Hotline does not publish figures without complete wording for such questions."

    Evidently, even the initial ballot poll that gave Novick just 27% is inflated. Ouch.

    1:20 PM, July 25, 2007  
    Blogger Ari said...

    That 23-point deficit is definitely not good news.

    Luckily, Jeff Merkley appears to be jumping in. Here's hoping he's the candidate who can beat Smith.

    4:36 PM, July 25, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    The 23-point deficit isn't the news. Novick isn't a professional politician or a widely known name coming into the race and hasn't begun gaining any institutional traction. It would be shocking if he didn't face a wide deficit at this point. The story is that he held Smith to 50. If he can hold Smith to 50, imagine what someone with a long legislative record of accomplishment, more money and more widespread traction and institutional support could do.

    10:17 PM, July 25, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    The 23-point deficit clearly is news, given that its the headline of the Hill story that ran the piece. However, more importantly, the poll's initial ballot was tainted, like the PPP poll on Dole's opponents, with a "brief biographical sketch" of the challenger, which means that Novick's impressive 27% is inflated.

    11:08 PM, July 25, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    Wow, keep intentionally missing the point. I really wouldn't care if Novick got 10% in the poll as long as he held Smith to 50%. Even against someone voters know only a little about, only 50% choose Smith. If Novick was the nominee and he was only getting 27%, then it'd be a story. But right now, he's just a guy voters for the most part still only know very little about. And he still holds Smith to 50% (the devil you know beating the "devil" you don't).

    10:36 AM, July 26, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    That whole bit about "the devil you don't know" and "voters only knowing very little about him" are all irrelevent if a biographical sketch of Novick was given before the ballot. I explained this before when they did the same thing for Martin in North Carolina: there is no guarantee what information about the candidate voters will have when they go to the ballot box; however, in the poll sample, 100% of respondents knew the same thing about him. Therefore, the poll is an unreliable assessment of either Martin's strength or Dole's weakness. The same thing applies here. The truth is we don't know how many people were influenced by the sketch, and since we don't know, we can't say many things for sure about the ballot.

    More than that is your laughable assertion that "the 23-point deficit isn't news". Maybe on this blog, where the point is to overplay Republican shortcomings and sweep under the rug Democratic shortcomings, its not news. But in the piece you link from in your blog, the deficit is the damn headline.

    I'm not missing your point that Smith is held to 50%. However, since the ballot test was tainted, we can safely assume it is at least somewhat higher than 50%, who knows how much. Therefore, the bigger news is that Novick is polling 23 points behind, and even that number is inflated in Novick's favor.

    10:58 AM, July 26, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    Wow. Let me make it plain. Novick's deficit to Smith isn't important because it isn't relevant. Shocker, huh? If he was the nominee, then it would be relevant. But in all likelihood he won't be the nominee, so it isn't relevant.

    However, a candidate unknown to a majority of Oregonians holding Smith to 50% is news and is relevant because Smith will probably be the Republican nominee. So that dynamic actually matters.

    Your contention that the "biographical sketch" is making a big difference is very specious. Do you know what Novick's "sketch" was?

    In North Carolina it was:

    Martin was described as a “37 year-old two-term legislator” and “veteran of the War in Afghanistan,” while Hagan was a “five-term State Senator” and “chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.”

    These are not qualitative or subjective in any way. Pretty much just a job title. That's it. Against an ostensibly well known U.S. Senator. If that's all it takes to bring Dole and Smith down, then an actual campaign should make them crumble. Seriously. It's a notch above saying, "Steve Novick is a carbon-based life form and a mammal." Is that all it takes to keep Smith to 50? You don't take that as a sign that Smith is awfully vulnerable?

    And then you have to again make stuff up when you say: "However, since the ballot test was tainted, we can safely assume it is at least somewhat higher than 50%, who knows how much." Ummm... no, we can't "safely assume" that. Especially if "Don't Know" or "No Opinion" is an option, there's no way to "safely assume" it's impact on Smith's tally. Keep dreaming.

    I can't imagine that you have anything further to add beyond repeating yourself, so prattle on.

    12:52 PM, July 26, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Let's see, we have the self-proclaimed "Guru", and we have The Hill. One has a history of cheerleading for Democrats, the other is a respected, objective observer of politics. One swears that the deficit doesn't matter. The other runs it as their headline.

    Here's the thing about message testing in polls: it doesn't always work. Even if a message tests well, the challenge is 1) getting your message out there, and 2) getting people to believe it. The reason why it always polls better than it ends up being is because 100% of the respondents are subjected to the message, only the message, and the entire message. That is why an informed ballot of any kind, including whether it is a biographical sketch, is not a reliable assessment of the race.

    1:34 PM, July 26, 2007  
    Blogger Peter said...

    I think the Guru was probably right more about the 2006 election than the Hill.

    4:06 PM, July 26, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Its too bad there are no laughing emoticons on this blog.

    4:14 PM, July 26, 2007  
    Blogger Peter said...


    You just come off as angry and condescending. If you're so sure of yourself, why don't you write your own blog about the senate races from a Republican perspective alternate to the Guru's.

    I think we'd all be interested to hear what you have to say.

    3:51 PM, July 27, 2007  

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