Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

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

Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday Rundown

  • CQPolitics labels Senate Republicans' uphill climb as "daunting," as they rank Senate races with no real surprises.

  • Louisiana: Newly-Republican state Treasurer John N. Kennedy has taken the first steps toward a 2008 Senate challenge to Senator Mary Landrieu, he announced yesterday by e-mail and via a message on his circa 1997 Geocities website. Kennedy also cites a Zogby poll he commissioned that shows him leading Landrieu 45-38. This poll is my Giant-Grain-of-Salt pick of the week. No doubt non-partisan polls will come out in the Louisiana media in the coming weeks and months to give a clearer sense of where this race stands. Of course, this is a top-tier race, Republicans' only real Senate pick-up opportunity; but, until non-partisan polls show a neck-and-neck race, this still Leans Dem as opposed to being seen as a Toss-Up. At present, Senator Landrieu has a $3.3 million bankroll; meanwhile, according to the FEC, Treasurer Kennedy has $37,500 in debt.

    To start, I'd suggest the media ask two questions of Treasurer Kennedy:

    First, Kennedy has demonstrated incredibly mercurial career goals, always seeming willing to better-deal his constituents for the next gig down the line. As Landrieu adviser Norma Jane Sabiston reminds us: "John Kennedy, the first candidate in the Republican primary field, ran ads just four weeks ago saying 'the job's not done' and asking for Louisianians' support to 'continue to be your state treasurer.'" Why should Louisiana voters offer him a six-year job when he never seems happy to complete his four-year jobs?

    Second, in response to his willingness to offer Halliburton no-bid contracts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, he said: "Well, in an emergency situation, you do what you have to do to get the job done." Similar to allowing Halliburton's no-bid contracts as "doing what you have to do to get the job done," would Kennedy also support extreme and illegal measures such as waterboarding and other torture, warrantless wiretapping, and suspending habeas corpus "to get the job done" against terrorism?

  • Kansas: Former Congressman Jim Slattery confirms that he will not run for Senate in 2008. Hopefully we'll have more details on businessman Greg Orman soon.

  • Colorado: I think it's safe to say that Bob Schaffer and the CO-GOP are fresh out of ideas.

  • New Jersey: CQPolitics looks at Republican Anne Evans Estabrook, possible opponent to Senator Frank Lautenberg. In the words of Stu Rothenberg, "Republicans [have] no reason for even a shred of optimism" in a campaign against Senator Frank Lautenberg.

  • Virginia: Delegate Chris Saxman is getting closer to challenging Jim Gilmore in the GOP primary.

  • New Mexico: Democracy for New Mexico has some great video up from Congressman Tom Udall's announcement event.

  • Chris Rock is one of the sharpest social commentators of our day.

  • 16 Comments:

    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Can you explain the double-standard between dismissing John Zogby's poll that shows Landrieu as weak, but openly embrasing PPP polls that show Dole as weak?

    12:54 PM, November 30, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    va blogger - I didn't dismiss the poll. I just said that I was taking it with an enormous grain of salt.

    Though, if one wanted to discount the poll, one could point to the fact that the poll was taken from 10/10/07 to 10/14/07.

    Why is this important? Because it was at the height of Treasurer Kennedy's ad buy for his unopposed Treasurer re-election bid. Senator Landrieu, having no race, had no ads up.

    So voters were bombarded with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Treasurer Kennedy ads but silence from Senator Landrieu.

    You don't think that impacts the poll results some? Honestly?

    1:37 PM, November 30, 2007  
    Blogger Woody said...

    What's the matter with Kansas? Maybe it's too far from the sea coast, so when Shakespeare says, "There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune..." maybe Ms. Sibelius just doesn't get it.

    From where I stand, near the coast, it looks like a rising flood of voters determined to get change in Washington next year. They will be ready to throw out incumbents like not since, well, since the last such flood time.

    But apparently some politicians out amid the cornstalks can't see it. Instead they yearn for open seats to come.

    They should read dreamingonempty's analysis (at dKos and Swing State Project) that open seats ain't a big factor in victories, but national political climate is. Second, they should recall that in the first mid-term election, the party in power always loses seats, and it loses races for open seats.

    Sorry about Kansas. Looks like they're going to miss the boat.

    2:41 PM, November 30, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    How does that discount the poll? You can certainly look at the impact of factors during that time to reason away the results, but that doesn't affect in the slightest the accuracy of the poll. It is an accurate reflection of public opinion.

    3:04 PM, November 30, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    va blogger - so are you actually saying that you don't think that taking the poll amid hundreds of thousands of dollars of Treasurer Kennedy ads complemented by silence from Senator Landrieu's camp skews the poll results some? Really? Seriously? (And this is a yes-or-no question.)

    3:27 PM, November 30, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    If we're using your language, the answer is no, I don't believe it skews the poll. Is it a factor that may contribute to the results of the poll? Certainly. But you're trying to discredit a legitimate form of opinion research because of the condition in which the poll were taken? That's baloney.

    The poll represents a snapshot of what Louisiana voters felt during that week when the poll was conducted. You can argue that the results may not be the same now since Kennedy isn't up on television any longer; that's perfectly acceptable and well within reason. You can't prove it to be true, but I wouldn't argue with you about it since I couldn't prove anything, either.

    But you're trying to argue that, since Kennedy was up on the air, the poll results shouldn't count? I absolutely don't think that's true.

    4:30 PM, November 30, 2007  
    Blogger Stephen said...

    VA blogger has a point, a properly worded poll is only supposed to be a snapshot in time. So assuming this is a proper worded poll and not an outlier, all this poll is saying is that during the time period of 10/1- though 10/14, when Kennedy was running ads and Landrieu was not, Kennedy was seen as the preferred candidate by a 45-38 margin. This in an of itself is not reason to take this poll with an "enormous grain of salt," it just has to be understood under which the context of the poll was taken. I don't know if you meant it or not, but the way you worded it guru did come off as if not a downright dismissal, than something close too it. Conversely, VA Blogger, it does seem prudent to question polls taken for either of the 2 candidates, and especially a first poll when there are no trendlines to compare it too.
    Oh and yes I agree PPP polls are generally trashy but if that is all you have, well we political junkies need something right.

    4:31 PM, November 30, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    va blogger said "You can argue that the results may not be the same now since Kennedy isn't up on television any longer; that's perfectly acceptable and well within reason."

    Great! Cuz that's what I'm arguing. Glad you agree.

    And if, in October and early November 2008, Kennedy has tons of ads up and Landrieu doesn't have a single ad up, then Landrieu's in trouble. But, somehow I don't think that will be the case.

    4:42 PM, November 30, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Why stop there? There are very few polls taken concerning the 2008 Senate races that accurately reflect the level of media saturation that will exist closer to the election day. Are those in some way different to this poll, or are you categorically taking all polls with a grain of salt now?

    5:04 PM, November 30, 2007  
    Blogger Michael Westmoreland-White said...

    I love Chris' Rock. He's one of the smartest stand-up comics around. Unfortunately, this time he got his facts wrong. Bush didn't travel to California until 4 days after the fires did their worst--and he similarly flew over New Orleans 4 days after the levees broke.
    I think there is plenty of strong evidence to think that Bush is racist (and even more classist), but Rock's example doesn't make his point.

    9:31 PM, November 30, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    va blogger said: "There are very few polls taken concerning the 2008 Senate races that accurately reflect the level of media saturation that will exist closer to the election day. Are those in some way different to this poll, or are you categorically taking all polls with a grain of salt now?"

    Yes, it is different. I'll repeat. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of Treasurer Kennedy ads. Absolute campaign silence from Senator Landrieu.

    That is my contention. Is that clear?

    12:49 AM, December 01, 2007  
    Blogger Matthew said...

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    1:45 AM, December 01, 2007  
    Blogger Matthew said...

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    2:08 AM, December 01, 2007  
    Blogger Matthew said...

    VA, I don't think that PPP is receiving money from Dole's opponent. I do think that Kennedy (Landrieu's opponent) is paying Zogby for his services. I think that's a big difference; what you pay for is what you get. Zogby also does polling for the American Association of Publishers, the textbook lobby that screws college students.

    2:10 AM, December 01, 2007  
    Blogger Danielle said...

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    11:19 AM, December 01, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    In polling, its not "what you pay for is what you get". Sadly, that's an often repeated and overwhelmingly dumb way of viewing internal polling.

    And while PPP has no financial connections that I know of, they are clearly Democratic, are clearly biased, and have publically, as a firm, criticized and taken positions against Senator Dole. In my mind, there is much more potential for bias in a PPP poll than a contracted poll, and that's even before we get into questions about PPP's shoddy methodology.

    S2G--yes, you're "point" is clear; what remains muddled is its relevency.

    You're arguing that, because a percentage of Louisianans may have recently seen something about John Kennedy, that this would unduly make them favor him over a two-term Senator with universal name ID, and because of this the poll is, at best, inaccurate, and at worst discredited. While I appreciate the gusto with which you're arguing such a lame point, I cannot agree with it. I don't think that it skews the results, and I think any effect that it did have, whatever it may be (and to be crystal clear, you cannot tell me what effect it had) is not going to be all together much different in future polling.

    Senator Landrieu will make a case why voters should vote for her and not Kennedy. John Kennedy will do likewise. However, being in a position where most voters know who both figures are does not make the poll results invalid; in fact, I would argue that they would make the poll results more valid, because John Kennedy's name ID is going to be high at the end of the campaign anyways.

    You keep on repeating that Senator Landrieu's campaign was "silent", as if 1) she had any reason to respond to ads Kennedy was running for State Treasurer, and 2) she doesn't already have a rather large megaphone being a United States Senator.

    I don't accept your hypothesis that voters saw a campaign ad for John Kennedy for Treasurer and suddenly forgot about Mary Landrieu, or in some other way viewed Mary Landrieu less favorably than they did before.

    However, if you want to continue arguing down this path, then using the exact same logic as you, we can say that the polls are inaccurate, at best, or are completely discredited, at worse, in Kentucky. Mitch McConnell has been under attack, on television, by no fewer than a half-dozen national liberal organizations, while McConnell hasn't spent much at all to counter them. Therefore, poll results are unduly skewed against McConnell, and are likely to change once McConnell's re-election campaign is fully underway.

    Its the same exact logic as what you're trying to argue in Louisiana. Do you agree?

    11:20 AM, December 01, 2007  

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