Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

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

Monday, December 10, 2007

Monday Briefs

  • Maine: My Sunday column at MyDD focused on Susan Collins' record of lies, hypocrisy and allegiance to the far-right wing of the GOP. The column isn't half-bad, if I say so myself. By the end of writing the column, I was so disgusted with Collins' record that, even though it's a relatively high-profile race, I had to add Tom Allen to the Expand the Map! ActBlue page even though his race is already firmly on the map. Read the column and contribute to Tom Allen so we can oust Susan Collins! It would be awesome to get 10 contributions to Allen today, any amount, just give a little if you can.

  • Alaska: A new Research 2000 poll commissioned by Daily Kos finds that Ted Stevens is in deep trouble if/when Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich enters the 2008 Senate race. Begich leads Stevens 47-41. And that's before Begich even enters the race! Further, Stevens' favorable-unfavorable stands at 39-58 while Begich's stands at 48-19. Lookin' good! (It's almost good enough to hope that Stevens doesn't get indicted!)

  • Kentucky: We should expect an announcement from Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Horne about a 2008 Senate challenge to Mitch McConnell within two weeks. Meanwhile, anybody accepting that state Attorney General Greg Stumbo had ruled out a Senate challenge is mistaken, for now.

  • Tennessee: While attorney Kevin Doherty mulls over a possible 2008 Senate challenge to Lamar Alexander, businessman Andrew Byrd's name is popping up as a possible challenger.

  • Alabama: State Senator Vivian Davis Figures' full Senate campaign website is up and running. (HT: Left in Alabama)

  • South Carolina: If political reconciliation in Iraq doesn't occur by Christmas, boy, Lindsey Graham sure will have egg on his face!

  • I'm not saying that White House Press Secretary Dana Perino is dumb as bricks, but she doesn't know the difference between the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Bay of Pigs "thing." Sound clip here.


    Blogger Neal said...

    Ted Stevens is trailing Mark Begich 41-47- Hallejah. Run Ted Run. We need to make sure Stevens is the GOP nominee. Democrats will occupy a Senate Seat in Alaska for the first time in more than 30 years- Senator Mike Gravel. Too bad Larry Craig is not running again.

    1:10 PM, December 10, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Amazingly, you haven't responded to the comments in MyDD that reveal your blatantly dishonest reporting of Susan Collins' voting record.

    1:14 PM, December 10, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    Ummm... yeah, I did. Then, in response to my response, you hollered some more about Paul Wellstone or something. I never expect my responses to be to your liking because only that which bashes individuals with D's next to their name is to your liking. Oh well.

    1:21 PM, December 10, 2007  
    Blogger Neal said...

    Va Blogger is UnaBridged. Comparing Collins with Wellstone is apples and oranges.

    Wellstone was a liberal Democrat- He had no shame of being a liberal. He was proud of it. He campaigned as a liberal and governed as a liberal. He was elected and re-elected because of his liberal beliefs. Wellstone's liberal voting record matches his political rhetoric. Wellstone decision of breaking his pledge to not seek re-election was the country needed checks and balances since Republicans had majority control of the US Senate and Bush was elected to the White House.

    Susan Collins campaigns as a Moderate but votes like a Conservative Republican.

    1:32 PM, December 10, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    You must be blind. There is no other explanation.

    I wrote two sentences about Paul Wellstone, asking for further explanation since you completely ducked my first question.

    Then I wrote ten paragraphs about your flawed and dishonest analysis of Susan Collins' voting record.

    I can reproduce it here if you like. In fact, I think I will.

    2:53 PM, December 10, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    And you are being intentionally dishonest in your "analysis" of Susan Collins' voting score. Here is what the score means:

    "Presidential Support Score measures the percentage of roll call votes in which a given member of Congress supported the publicly-held position of the White House."

    While it is true that Maine voters, like the rest of the country, disapprove of the job Bush is doing, it does NOT mean that they reject every single policy position that the White House takes. On hot topic issues, such as the War in Iraq, stem cell research, illegal immigration, items that you see a showdown in Congress and party line voters, there are large disagreements between voters and the President. But most of the votes that take place in Congress aren't on those hot button issues, and instead are far more mundance policy initiatives that barely make the newspaper, let alone the front page. For example: ll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?con gress=109&session=2&vote=00040
    (To provide increased funding for veterans health programs, and to negate the need for enrollment fees and increase in pharmacy co-payments.) ll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?con gress=109&session=2&vote=00046
    (To provide funding for maritime security, including the Container Security Initiative, improved data for targeted cargo searches, and full background checks and security threat assessments of personnel at our nation's seaports.) ll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?con gress=109&session=2&vote=00056
    (To provide for the establishment of a reserve fund concerning pandemic influenza preparedness planning.)

    Yes, it is true that Susan Collins voted in line with the publically stated policy position of the White House close to 80% of the time, when you include these policy positions that nearly everyone votes for, and when you include confirmation votes that are nearly always unanimously confirmed. But what you have wrong--and what you KNOW you have wrong, but decided to lie about anyways--is that this is not a large number of times to agree with the White House. It does not indicate that Susan Collins is not an independent vote. As always, you MUST look at the information relative to other Senators. To not do this is being intentionally dishonest and misleading, and should be beneath anyone that takes politics seriously.

    For starters, as I mentioned and you completely ignored, likely because you had no good response for it, Susan Collins has the LOWEST Presidential Support Score of any Republican up for re-election this cycle.

    Moreover, including Democrats, Susan Collins has the LOWEST party unity score of any Senator up for re-election this cycle.

    Since we're focusing in at Presidential scores, let's look at some of the Democrats. You say that Collins' score of 79% is "resounding". So, obviously, you would expect Democrats' scores to be much, much lower, correct? After all, if "four out of five times" is apparently the sign of a far-right Republican, as you continually baselessly assert about Collins, then Democrats should be near the bottom, right?

    However, Democrats Pyror, Landrieu, and Baucus all have Presidential Support scores higher than 60%. Pyror and Landrieu themselves vote with the President 2/3rds of the times. They must be rabid right-wingers, right?

    But sure, you must be saying to yourself, those Senators are moderate, or even conservative, Senators. Then let's take a look at President Bush's opponent in 2004, Sen. John Kerry, who has a Presidential Support rating of 51%. So John Kerry supports the President's position over half of the time. Even a Senator no one would confuse with being moderate, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, voted with the President over half of the time. Even members of the Democratic leadership like Dick Durbin, voted with the President 47% of the time, or pretty close to half of the time.

    Don't you think that changes the way of how we should look at the Presidential Support Scores? Even just a little?

    We can assume that Jack Reed, or, say, Carl Levin, are solid Democrats, correct? Reed himself voted 96% of the time with his party; Levin voted 95% of the time with his party. They have a Presidential Support Score of 53% and 56%, respectively. Now, obviously, there are some votes that they voted differently on, and there are votes that Collins voted different on as well. But if a solid Democrat like Carl Levin voted with the President 56% of the time, then that means that Susan Collins voted with the President only 23% more. Are we really supposed to believe that's the sign of a far-right-winger?

    Stop being dishonest. Stop distorting the facts. Susan Collins is an indepedent voice, which is why she has one of the highest approval ratings in the country, and why poll after poll show her demolishing her opponent.

    2:53 PM, December 10, 2007  
    Blogger Gregory said...

    VA Blogger,
    So as I can make more sense of what you have said, who has the lowest presidential support score and what is it? Can you give me the bottom(or top depending how you look at it) 3?

    3:19 PM, December 10, 2007  
    Blogger Neal said...

    Susan Collins is an indepedent voice, which is why she has one of the highest approval ratings in the country, and why poll after poll show her demolishing her opponent.

    That is the most dishonest asine statement I ever heard.

    Having a high approval rating does not translate to electoral support. It just means voters like Collins.

    3:22 PM, December 10, 2007  
    Blogger Eric In Manassas said...


    That's true, but polls do show that (thus far) Collins is ahead of Allen in the polling. I fully expect those polls will narrow as we close in on election day, but it certainly appears that her high favorabilities are aiding her in the polling right now.

    3:26 PM, December 10, 2007  
    Blogger Neal said...

    While i expect Collins to win- I don't expect Collins to win by a 70-30 margin like VA Blogger or Unabridged suggest but by a 55-45 percent margin.

    3:31 PM, December 10, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Gregory, I've tried to track down the ratings, and can't seem to find a link to them. I'm pretty sure its subscription based, and I can't find the results reproduced for Senators who aren't up for re-election.

    The lowest among those that are was Frank Lautenberg, who scored at a 46% Presidential Support Score and a 97% Party Unity Score. If a near-perfect party unity score means supporting the President 46% of the time, I can't imagine anyone would be significantly lower than that.

    3:40 PM, December 10, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Neal, where did I ever suggest that Susan Collins would win by a 70-30 margin?

    3:40 PM, December 10, 2007  
    Blogger Neal said...

    VA Blogger-

    What are the odds you have a picture of Senator Joseph McCarthy tattooed on your ass???

    3:44 PM, December 10, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Neal, do you honestly think that's a clever question?

    ha ha ha you got me, can we move onto a substantive discussion now?

    Also, S2G, Neal has repeatedly used the word "ass". I understand such profanity flames your ears.

    4:33 PM, December 10, 2007  
    Blogger Neal said...


    I was using a quote from Law and Order SVU Detective John Munch when talking to an uncooperative witness on episode Wrong is Right- season 2.

    I was also trying to expose VA Bloggers right wing Joseph McCarthy ideology.

    4:49 PM, December 10, 2007  
    Blogger Johnny C said...

    There are a lot of ways to use the Presidential Support score. As VA states even Lautenberg scores a 46% Presidential support. However, this leads me to the opposite conclusion than the one VA reaches. If the first 50% of the score is on (nearly) universally supported positions that makes the difference between Pryor's or Landrieu's supporting Bush 2 out of 3 times and Collins supporting Bush 4 out of 5 times all the more significant.

    To me, it means that Collins is well to the right of even conservative Democats like Pryor and Landrieu. If the first 50% of the support score does not count it only magnifies the importance of each percentage point between 50% and 100%. It is those votes between a score of 50% and 100% that are most likely to be the contentious issues where Democrats and Republicans diverge. Right now my sense is that voters opinions are more in line with Democrats on those big issues: Iraq, SCHIP, etc.

    The fact of the matter is that various rankings of how liberal or conservative a senator is and or the presidential support scores are useful tools. Few of us have the time to review each and every vote and these scoring metrics are useful proxies. No one score tells the whole story but that hardly undercuts the Guru's point. 79% is high. It may not be the highest or in fact it may be the lowest of R's up for re-election but it is still 79%. The context may or may not explain away the score but that does not mean it is not a useful statistic and it does not mean it is dishonest to rely upon that statistic to argue that Collins supports Bush most of the time.

    Of course the real point is not her actual score or whether it is being properly used or not: the issue is whether Collins is out of step with Maine's voters on the big issues -- the issues driving Bush's popularity and approvals down in poll after poll. I would think that Collins's positions and lack of action on Iraq and other hot button issues would hurt her. So far it does not show in the polls so I guess we will see.

    5:23 PM, December 10, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    But John, saying that Susan Collins supports Bush 80% of the time, or agrees with Bush 80% of the time, is extremely misleading when you consider how frequently Senators take the same position as the White House does. You can't just flatly compare that score to Bush's approval ratings and say she's sunk; I bet if you polled individually each vote that Collins has taken that is the same as President Bush's, you'd find that most voters either don't care or approve of the vote. Its the select few that make the difference; however, that is easily glossed over in these rankings.

    Look at it this way: Mary Landrieu scores a 71%, and she's not even as conservative as Ben Nelson is. Susan Collins scores a 79%, which is just 8 points removed from Landrieu. In other words, Susan Collins is almost as liberal as Mary Landrieu, a Democrat, and Mary Landrieu is almost as conservative as Susan Collins, a Republican. That puts Susan Collins closer to Landrieu and Nelson--in the middle--than it does the vast majority of collegues in her party.

    However, an even better way to gauge her independence is by looking at party unity votes. Susan Collins voted with the majority of her party just 66% of the time, lower than any other Senator up for re-election, including Landrieu. That proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she is the most independent Senator up for re-election this cycle.

    5:37 PM, December 10, 2007  
    Blogger Johnny C said...


    You are right that you can not look at only one metric (presidential support score) and say Collins is sunk. I don't think that the Guru was saying that a support score of 80% equalled an automatic loss and we should call off the election.

    However, you make exactly the same error you accuse the Guru of making. Party Unity score (while a worthwhile indicator) is only one indicator of independence and in no way does it let you say that "beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she is the most independent Senator up for re-election this cycle." The unity score alone is not nearly robust enough to tell us that.

    For me the true test of independence comes on those few votes where her vote would matter (a tight cloture motion for example) and not on votes destined to succeed or fail already (where she may even have the blessing of party leadership to vote against the party because her vote won't make a difference). You simply can't take one number and say it proves anything beyond a shadow of a doubt. You are entitled, as is the Guru, to use the statistic of your chosing to try to make your point but you are over reaching here.

    Again, of course, the D message will be that she'll vote with the R leadership when it counts (such as on filibusters) and that voters should give the D's 60 votes to overcome the most filibustering minority in recent memory. Those are the votes where she needs to convince people she will show independence. Her record on Iraq does not inspire me that she'll show independence when push comes to shove.

    6:26 PM, December 10, 2007  
    Blogger Rob Millette said...

    Of course another thing to note Johnny isn't so much the independence of Susan Collins. She may have the lowest party untiy scroe going but that doesn't make her a moderate, it simply means she isn't as rabidly conservative as Bush.

    As for VA's attempt to paint Susan Collins as a moderate by comparing her presidential support score to Landrieu's and Nelson's is also a problem for him. To many Democrats, both of those senators are not moderates, they're conservatives.
    So basically, VA is simply proving to me what I already knew. The fact is that Susan Collins is more conseravative than the most conservative people in the Dem party and since those Dems are considered conservatives, Susan Collins is a conservative. Not as bad as some, but a conservative none the less.

    10:03 PM, December 10, 2007  

    Post a Comment

    << Home