Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

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

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tuesday Briefs

  • Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released its list of "The 22 Most Corrupt Members of Congress." Of the 22, four are Senators; all four are Republicans: Pete Domenici, Mitch McConnell, Lisa Murkowski, and Ted Stevens. Further, there is a two-person honorable mention section, consisting of Republicans Senators Larry Craig and David Vitter. They really make you proud, don't they?

  • Kentucky: The Lexington Herald-Leader released new poll numbers on Mitch McConnell, including a sub-50% approve-disapprove of 47-44 and a stark 38-55 approve-disapprove regarding McConnell's position on Iraq. Also found is a gaping George W. Bush approve-disapprove of 37-61, and only 32% of Kentuckians saying the war was worth it compared with 57% who feel Bush's Iraq War "wasn't worth the loss of life and expense." So, when Mitch McConnell goes on national television and falsely claims that his constituents "overwhelmingly" support Bush's Iraq War, you know he's lying.

  • Alaska: Regarding Ted Stevens' web of corruption, David Kurtz muses, "But it's not every day that a witness admits in open court to having bribed a sitting U.S. Senator, which is exactly what happened last Friday... It's not airport bathroom sex so there has been muted national media coverage of the Stevens revelation..." It would be unexpectedly dutiful for the national media to maybe make a bigger deal out of a corrupt businessman admitting that he bribed a sitting Senator who is unwilling to comment. But, hey, maybe my expectations are too high.

  • New Hampshire: A couple of tighter polls are out on the New Hampshire Senate race, explained by Republican support for Sprintin' John Sununu up to 80% from 61% in June. It is awfully mean of these polls to tease Sununu like that and make him think he has a shot. Even the conservative bloggers at Redstate say of NH-Sen, "The race is over."


    Blogger NewRed said...

    BIG shift in New Hampshire today. I'm surprised that Shaheen's numbers have taken a nose-dive so early. A twenty 23 point drop right at the time she announces, and now two polls (American Research Group and Rasmussen) show Sununu down by 5, but with a net positive approval. Not a great place for an incumbent, but MUCH better than anyone expected. Even RedState now says "This race is not over. Not by a long shot." (guess you missed their update, guru). Democrats believing that this race will be an easy take (something you may have heard in fantasy land) will be in for a huge shock come election day if they don't take this race extremely seriously. New Hampshire is NOT Rhode Island. Obviously, the overriding issue will be Iraq, which will be the same everywhere if there isn't a significant improvement there between now and election day. That aside, the Republican line against Shaheen will be: she tried to raise taxes on New Hampshire voters which was defeated by the Republican legislature, but if elected to the Senate she will try the same thing with no Republican majority to stop her. An effective message for the "Live Free or Die" state. My prediction at his point is based on Iraq: Iraq worsens = Shaheen wins by 3; No change in Iraq = Shaheen wins by less than 1; Iraq improves at all = Sununu wins by 6 (due to more attention to the tax issue).

    3:26 PM, September 18, 2007  
    Blogger Anthony_Distler said...

    Considering that there are the only numbers saying that Sununu is close to Shaheen, I'm not taking them seriously. I'm DEFINATELY not taking an approval rating of 80% seriously. Give me some more before I look at these numbers.

    3:45 PM, September 18, 2007  
    Blogger Ari said...

    This is exactly what I was afraid of-- Shaheen is a timid candidate who doesn't stand up for what she believes in. It will be all too easy for Sununu to trounce her with attack ads, just like last time. This is gonna be an uphill battle, and I wish Shaheen had not jumped in. Steve Marchand would've been a much stronger candidate, fighting instead of playing it safe.

    4:11 PM, September 18, 2007  
    Blogger NewRed said...

    Two polls with nearly the same numbers coming out at nearly the same time usually indicate reliability, though another poll or two would definitely increase the confidence in those numbers.
    The 80% is the amount of Republicans supporting Sununu now, not his overall approval.

    4:13 PM, September 18, 2007  
    Blogger NewRed said...

    I should have posted this first, but I'm so glad that I found your site! Talking politics is a long-time hobby and I find senate races are especially interesting. Given that you are a Democrat who is open to intelligent discussion/debate with the "opposition" (which would be me) about Senate races is really exciting. Thanks for the opportunity!

    4:17 PM, September 18, 2007  
    Blogger NewRed said...

    Here's my take on Kentucky and McConnell:
    Mitch is being dragged down not just by Bush, but also by gov Fletcher, who WILL lose his re-election this year. Mitch is not the worry, he will most likely be re-elected by 6-8 if he really works at it. The worry is Bunning in 2010, who already is unpopular and will probably retire, leaving the Dems a really good pickup chance for an open seat after coming off winning the governor's mansion. Here's my advice for Kentucky Republicans: Bunning needs to retire early BEFORE the election this year so Fletcher can appoint Ann Northrup to the seat. I realize she didn't run a great primary campaign earlier this year, but as an incumbent, paired with Mitch, and a Republican at the top of the ballot, it would be the best chance to keep both seats, not to mention that the GOP needs more women in office.

    As far as Alaska is concerned:
    It's time to put Teddy to pasture. This recent bribe revelation is a great excuse for his fellow Republicans to encourage this big tax spender to take early retirement so gov. Sarah Palin can put someone in his seat before next year. Will that actually happen? Probably not. Ted's got an ego the size of his state and will most likely run for re-election to spite his Republican and Democratic detractors. If Ted runs again, or the seat is open (without Palin running for it) then Democrats have a decent chance at taking it.
    Now, the CREW criticism of Lisa Murkowski won't get Democrats anywhere, even if it should. The land deal she got is similar to the one that Obama (my Senator) got from his neighbor and fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko. Tony bought the lot next door and sold part of it Barak at a significantly discounted price. Barak's response when questioned about it was ignorance of the discount, acknowledgment of the shady appearance, and an apology. My understanding is that Lisa's response was basically the same. She's not going anywhere.

    5:13 PM, September 18, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    newred/va blogger - I'm not sure what you're hoping to accomplish with a second screen name.

    5:23 PM, September 18, 2007  
    Blogger Anthony_Distler said...

    NewRed doesn't seem like VA Blogger. I don't think they are the same.

    I think what would be the best thing for the Alaska GOP would be for Ted Stevens to lose his seat, have a Democrat hold it for 6 years, take their lumps now, then have Sarah Palin come in and run for it when it's back up for re-election. She would completely shred whoever holds the seat. This way, they can claim that they cleaned up the issue and come back into power.

    5:34 PM, September 18, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    What possible reason would I have for signing up a second screen name?

    Though its nice to see that your first comment to a new poster is one of skepticism and dismissal. It really goes a long way to show that you "would love to have some intelligent conservative" to offer a different perspective.

    6:09 PM, September 18, 2007  
    Blogger JeremiahTheMessiah said...

    Since VA Blogger didn't post till after Guru made his position known as skepticism, I'm skeptical too. It is easy to immitate a different writing style... (IE change how often you paragraph, use parenthesis, etc.)

    And this conviniently happened after Guru noted he was open to intellegent discussion, not the type with a blind-faith Republican as I prefer to call that group of them.

    7:15 PM, September 18, 2007  
    Blogger JeremiahTheMessiah said...

    Sorry for the double post, but I'll also make the point that VA Blogger didn't hit any aspects of the post, just the guru's skepticism. Why wouldn't he pick apart the polls as usual? How about complain of the unending bias, as usual? Nope. He goes straight to criticizing the guru for being skeptical. Seems rather off of his mark to me.

    7:17 PM, September 18, 2007  
    Blogger NewRed said...

    No, I'm not VA Blogger. I'm not really sure how to prove this. I found your site during a Google search on "2008 senate polls" while looking for, obviously, the latest senate polls. You're the fourth link from the top of the results page. I’m from Illinois, not Virginia, and…well I’m not sure how else to convince you.
    From looking through the last two posts and their comments, I take it that VAB (i'm all for shortening names) is the only opposition voice here, and that you two don't exactly get along. Well, I’m not looking for a fight or acrimony. I see lots of that on the large political blogs, which is why I don’t participate in them. I thought since this is a smaller blog and you stated that you were interested in an intelligent opposition voice, I would try it out.
    My intention is to just give my “take” on specific races or states that you post about. I may not address each and every point you make, because I don’t feel that’s necessary, but feel free to ask questions of me if you believe I’m intentionally avoiding something.

    By the way, I think Anthony’s scenario is the most likely outcome in regards to Alaska.

    9:03 PM, September 18, 2007  
    Blogger jak said...

    Let's not play these petty games with each other. I believe that "newred" is, as he claims, a newcomer to the merciless trench warfare that is the Senate 2008 Guru blog comments section. My evidence? newred's use of the contraction "it's" for "it is" - which stands in stark contrast to va blogger's stubborn insistence on "its." Oh, and newred claimed that Barack Obama was his senator, suggesting a home state of Illinois. Could it be more of va blogger's subterfuge? Not impossible, but highly unlikely. While va blogger bends, twists, and manipulates facts at will, he very seldom LIES outright. Some kind of spin doctor's code of ethics.

    Still, newred sees the political landscape through va blogger's ruby red rose-colored lenses. I would be extremely hesitant to extrapolate meaningful treadlines from such erratic poll results as ARG is known to provide. I was very suspicious of the ARG poll which gave Shaheen a 27-point lead (57%-29%) over Sununu; it was an obvious outlier - even the comparatively more unpopular Santorum mustered at least 40% in most polls against Casey. I'm not intimately acquainted with New Hampshire politics, but Shaheen may well be a more polarizing figure among conservatives than the largely generic, no-name Democrats appearing in previous ballot tests, prompting many Republicans to return home to Sununu when news of Shaheen's candidacy broke. However, Democrats have made their recent inroads not on traditional Republican constituencies, but among independent swing voters - who compose a plurality of the NH voting population - a bloc increasingly alienated from a national Republican Party entirely unconcerned with their daily struggles. These are the voters who have swung most decisively into the Shaheen camp and the Democratic column. So you can exaggerate the size of the "shift" or "drop" between polls if it makes you feel better, but it doesn't diminish the fact that Sununu is the most vulnerable Republican incumbent in the country.

    I always find it interesting though how Republican commenters like newred and va blogger feel perfectly well-qualified to characterize the political orientation of states hundreds or thousands of miles away. If you think taxes are going to play better than Iraq or stem cell research in New England, of all places, I've got some Florida swampland to sell you.

    9:43 PM, September 18, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    To cover that last point: First, every single person does it, and its not just about state politics. How many people have told me how my state is going to react? I've lived in this state for the last 22 years. Why should I listen to someone who doesn't bleed Virginia tell me what the political situation in my state is, when I live it every day?

    But everyone does it, from me and you all the way up to national pundits and political figures. Politics is perception; moving politically means moving perceptions. And pundits affect that, and to a much lesser extent, bloggers do as well. Its all about The Message.

    One of the things I suddenly realized about politics happened in 2004, right after the Bush/Kerry debate. I had a class the next day, and we were talking about it, and everyone made the point about how well or poorly each candidate "played" to some phantom populace that doesn't know any better, that no one who comments about it was a part of. And more and more, media and perception, and by extension, punditry and bloggers, focus on how they think a given candidate will play in Iowa, as if they are immune to the slogans and soundbytes of a campaign.

    You see the same thing in these statewide races, and even in Congressional races, which plays into your point: Its more about the perception how things will be than about the actual situation on the ground. Why? Because its more accessible, for me as an outsider, and because it allows me to think I'm smart without having to challenge myself with knowing the status on the ground. Its all fluff and little substance, but because politics is perception, that's what get's talked about. The challenge for the campaigns is to move beyond that, and become truly above the fray. That's where you get the Mark Warners in 2001, the Ronald Reagans in 1980, and so forth.

    Since newred and I approach federal issues from a conservative lens, we'll percieve things conservatively. The same goes for you and your ilk. It may be rosy red to you, but your outlook is just as rosy red in my opinion.

    As for the polls, I think they're great news, and I think Sununu has a fighting chance (I've always thought this, given the fact that he beat two incumbent statewide officials to win in 2002). But the race still leans Democratic.

    10:17 PM, September 18, 2007  
    Blogger NewRed said...

    The June ARG poll could be completely dismissed as an outlier, as Jak suggested, at 57-29, but the Concord Monitor had a July 14th poll at 56-34, so I think the Shaheen’s 20+ point lead was probably accurate at the time. The September ARG poll of 46-41 is very similar to a Rasmussen poll of 48-43 taken at the same time, so I believe the drop is also probably real. Jak may not characterize a lead shrinking 20+ points as a big shift, but I would subjectively call it that. Though, looking with “rose-colored lenses” is hardly the case here. I still believe the odds are with Shaheen and Sununu’s chance at re-election really depends on an improvement in Iraq, which is not impossible, but not exactly promising either.

    11:16 PM, September 18, 2007  

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