Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

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

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Reflecting on a Broken Record

  • Brian Young at Roadblock reflects on the record obstructionism by the current Senate GOP:

    And we have a record!!!!!

    Last night, the Roadblock Republicans accomplished a feat no ordinary group of obstructionists could have pulled off. No, it takes a special brand of legislator to actually break the Roadblock record in less than half the time of the previous record. Only a group with a near-pathological disregard for the actual health of our democracy, only a group with a single-minded focus on the cynical political strategies of their consultants, only a group with a imperious disdain for the people of the country could’ve pulled off such a feat.

    So, congratulations go out to the Roadblock Republicans. They have etched their names in the history books forever.

    And let’s just remember what is really being blocked:

    A new course in Iraq: BLOCKED

    A new energy future: BLOCKED

    More health care for kids: BLOCKED

    Help for people affected by the mortgage meltdown: BLOCKED

    We make fun of the Republicans, and we get snarky about the Republicans, but the cold facts are that their obstruction has real-world consequences. This stuff matters.

    But you see, that’s the difference between Republicans and Democrats right there: to Democrats, government and governing is a responsibility, something to be undertaken with care and with an appreciation of the citizens being affected. To Republicans, it’s just a meaningless, cynical game to be exploited for partisan purposes. Partisanship in service of political goals is fine … we practice that here all the time. Partisanship in service of nothing more than an ambition for power and prestige … well that’s the Roadblock Republicans.

    We’ve got to do something about this.
    Yes, we do have to do something about this. That thing to do? Get more Democratic Senators elected!


    Blogger Sean said...

    If the Democrats were serious about ending the war, they'd have done it already. Most Democrats are not only folding but more actively supporting the war. That's why funding keeps going through. It is fun, though, for you guys to celebrate your majorities by surrending on so much.

    12:24 AM, December 20, 2007  
    Blogger NewRed said...

    Yesterday, Rhode Island Republican Steven J. Coaty defeated Democratic former state Senator J. Clement “Bud” Cicilline in a special election to fill the seat of the late Democratic state representative Paul W. Crowley. Coaty won with 63% of the vote in a district that also went to Kerry with 63%! For now, Republicans are vastly outnumbered in the state house, but this is great news for GOP candidates in Rhode Island running on a platform of smaller government and fiscal conservatism. Reed is safe in 2008, but Whitehouse could face a serious challenge in 2012 if the state GOP rallies around this winning message.

    10:27 AM, December 20, 2007  
    Blogger Johnny C said...


    You may be getting a little ahead of yourself there. By my count 1436 people voted in that special election. Less than 900 for Coaty.

    Hey it is a good win and shows that Coaty got his supporters to the polls and has some organizational muscle. In no way does it show a sea change in the state's politics. Really most school board members get more than 900 votes.

    11:05 AM, December 20, 2007  
    Blogger NewRed said...

    Johnny C,
    Special elections have a lower turnout than normal, but in 2006 only about 3300 ballots were cast for that seat. Rhode Island obviously doesn't have the population of New York. I agree that its not a sea change, but still very significant considering the district is so blue and the Republican was a first time candidate while the Democrat was a former state senator. Apparently, small-government conservatism still appeals to Rhode Island voters and probably many New England voters in general. The GOP would do well to embrace that philosophy.

    11:36 AM, December 20, 2007  
    Blogger Ajax the Greater said...

    Welcome sean and newred, and thanks for bringing with you an excellent representation of how you and the rest of the Bush dead-enders and fundamentalists read facts. Quick thing for you to ponder as we move inexorably towards the 2008 tsunami (setting aside for a moment that this is a US Senate site), riddle me this:

    how is it that a state as blood red as Texas goes from Delay's restricting of 42 Dems in the state house in 2003 to 71 in less than 3 yrs:;jsessionid=B86165E8F978D612DD05351196D0833B?diaryId=4528

    newred, as far as your saying that Whitehouse has any potential whatsoever for vulnerability in 2012, well, I guess that just shows that you know about as much about the US senate as my 3 year old niece. I would bet even money you guys dont even bother to field a candidate.

    thanks for playing. in the future, let's try to stick to the topic of this blog, 2008 Senate races, in which your ever-dwindling and radically rightwing party will lose between 5 and 9 seats.

    11:51 AM, December 20, 2007  
    Blogger Johnny C said...

    My point Newred is that you simply can not draw any ideological conclusions from a sample this small. Maybe his nine hundred voters were responding to him ideologically. But more likely, as in most local races this small, people simply liked Coaty. Maybe he has a large extended family, gets the drinks after every softball game or is just a likable guy. Whatever it is, you make a huge leap to read a trend into this. And a bigger leap to assume it was a message of small government that won.

    Besides the Rs have not stood for small government or fiscal conservatism for a long long long time. When was the last time a republican controlled congress passed a balanced budget?

    1:31 PM, December 20, 2007  
    Blogger Eric In Manassas said...


    Special elections are all about the candidate, not about the issues. There usually is little time to issue more than the lipservice "no taxes, no spending" soundbites. Coaty was probably a stronger candidate, a stronger campaigner and probably had more money to run TV ads in the time he had to campaign. If you want to dump money into beating Sheldon Whitehouse in 2012, then by all means go ahead.

    1:33 PM, December 20, 2007  
    Blogger Neal said...

    Looking at the Freshman Democratic Senators that were elected in 2006 and likely Freshman Democratic Senators that will get elected in 2008.

    Cardin(MD),Klobuchar(MN),Casey(PA),Whitehouse(RI)and Sanders(VT)will be in the safe category- They will be getting re-elected in 2012 with more than 60% of the popular vote.

    Menenedez(NJ)and Brown(OH) will be in the Democratic Favored collumn. republicans will target Menendez and Brown but the Democratic incumbents will have the advantage. Brown will be the next Tom Harkin/

    McCaskill(MO),Tester(MT)and Webb(VA) are the most vulnerable Democratic seats up for grabs in 2012.

    Looking at 2008
    Freshman Democratic Senators
    1)Warner(VA)-safe in 2014- New Evan Bayh.
    2)Tom Udall(NM) safe in 2014
    3)Shaheen(NH) safe
    4)Mark Udall(CO)-Democratic Favored in 2014
    5)Al Franken(MN)- Democratic Favored.

    Udall(CO)and Franken(MN) will be vulnerable in 2014

    3:30 PM, December 20, 2007  
    Blogger Johnny C said...


    You can not be seriously giving predictions about the reelection of people who have not even been elected yet! If two weeks is a lifetime in politics 7 years is an eon. No reasonable or responsible person would presume to know what the national atmoshphere will be like in 7 years. What will the issues be trade, terrorism, war with Iran, climate change, or something else entirely.

    3:39 PM, December 20, 2007  
    Blogger NewRed said...

    Ajax, ajax, ajax.....

    If you're going to play with the big dogs (as you refer to it) you need to bring something more than inaccurate leftwing propaganda. In 2003, the Democrats had 62 seats in the Texas State House. Picking up 9 seats between then and now is an achievement to be sure, though not quite your fictitious 29 seat avalanche. Even your 3 year-old niece can see the difference.


    I'm sure guru would be happy to apply your logic to the Democrat's special election win in Texas. Well, perhaps not.

    3:48 PM, December 20, 2007  
    Blogger NewRed said...

    johnny c,

    "When was the last time a republican controlled congress passed a balanced budget?"
    - Sevaral decades more recently than the last Democratic controlled congress.

    4:04 PM, December 20, 2007  
    Blogger Neal said...

    True- but look at the Freshman Democratic Senator who were elected in 2006 and 2008.

    Cardin(MD),Whitehouse(RI)and Sanders(VT) represent Blue States at the Presidential level plus they will be faced with token GOP opposition. IN MD- Besides Steele and Erlich- NO credible GOP challengers out there. Steele and Erlich have already lost. Whitehouse(RI)represents the bluest state in the nation. I doubt Carcieri(RI)will be gutsy enough to challenge Whitehouse. Same goes for Sanders(VT).

    Casey(PA)and Klobuchar(MN)and Menendez(NJ) represent Battleground States that leans Democratic- Casey(PA)and Klobuchar(MN)are personally popular in their homestates- They will get a free pass. Menendez(NJ)will get targeted but who ever challenges Menendez will end up losing.

    Brown(OH)and McCaskill(MO)are purple state Democrats. McCaskill is more vulnerable because of her narrow victory in 2006.

    Webb(VA)and Tester(MT)represent red states trending Democratic. Both of them are vulnerable due to their narrow victories in 2006

    Looking at the 2008 Democratic Freshman's
    Warner(VA)is peronally popular in VA- He gets a free pass in 2014.

    Tom Udall(NM)and Shaheen(NH)represent battleground states that leans Democratic- Both are personally popular in their homestates and GOP in NM and NH is obselete.

    Mark UDall(CO)and Al Franken's 2008 election victories will be narrow. They represent battleground states.

    Not all Senate Races are competitive. A mediocre Blue State Democratic Senator like John Kerry(MA),Frank Lautenberg(NJ) will not get defeated regardless who the GOP fields- MA and NJ is strongly Democratic. Same thing goes for Mediocre Red State Republican Senators like Inhofe(OK)and Cornyn(TX).

    4:22 PM, December 20, 2007  
    Blogger Ajax the Greater said...

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    5:29 PM, December 20, 2007  
    Blogger Ajax the Greater said...

    (again with apologies to S2G, knowing that this blog is for the '08 senatorial campaigns, last post offtopic I promise, just need to clarify something with newred),

    Here is the relevant info regarding corrupt and incompetent criminal DeLay's redistricting, and how crazy it was for a Dem to win in TX-HD97, a 62% Rep district:

    In 2001, Republican's drew a map they thought would elect 102 R's and 48 D's. They were wrong as only 88 Republicans and 62 Democrats were elected in 2002. Still, it was a striking blow to Democrats as we had lost our majority, the Speakership, and control of the operation of the Texas House. That was a low point for Democrats in Texas as well as nationally. The result was the rise of the neo-conservative, uber Republican Tom Craddick who slashed the budget and cut social programs like CHIP and education funding. To this day that funding has never been restored even with surpluses in the state budget.

    In 2006, Democrats won 6 seats plus Donna Howard's special election. In 2007 we welcomed Kirk England to the Democratic Party and now we have Dan Barrett as member of our caucus as well. We've not even yet had a single vote cast the 2008 primaries, and there are now 71 Democrats in Texas House- a stunning and speedy reversal based on the same map that was drawn to have only 42 Democratic seats.

    Yesterday's election in Fort Worth was a runoff between a Democrat and multiple Republicans even though only one Republican in name was on the ballot. It was a race between the Democrat fighting for fair representation and the Republican Speaker and his possible enabler. Dan Barrett vs. Tom Craddick and his crony Mark Shelton.

    House District 97 was not drawn to be a Democratic seat. In 2006, Barrett had taken on the recently retired Anna Mowery and claimed only 40.82% of the vote. Tarrant County on the whole only gave Barbara Radnofsky, the U.S. Senate nominee, 34.80%, Chris Bell 31.07% in his bid for Governor, and the bellwhether Texas Supreme Court candidate Bill Moody 42.79% of the vote. The Republican's should have won this election based on the poor democratic performance index (DPI) of the district alone. During the special election yesterday, Barrett won with 52.2% of the vote.

    5:51 PM, December 20, 2007  
    Blogger NewRed said...

    First it was 42 Democrats, then 48 Democrats...third time could be a charm!
    You're basing that number(s) on what liberals SAY Republicans thought, which is less than credible. Otherwise, your comment just confirms what I wrote, and bolsters my analysis of the Rhode Island special election. Thank you, Ajax.

    6:49 PM, December 20, 2007  
    Blogger Matthew said...

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    9:36 PM, December 20, 2007  
    Blogger Matthew said...

    AJAX, I like your numbers... between five and nine seats is a great projection... I think nine is overly optimistic, but my projections are usually pessimistic... so optimism breeds optimism, I guess, right?

    9:37 PM, December 20, 2007  
    Blogger Eric In Manassas said...


    The Guru would probably agree that special election victories are based largely on a candidates personal political abilities (their ability to campaign and fundraise quickly, and ability to drive out their base). The elections in Texas and Rhode Island help prove my point, as both you and ajax have highlighted from a partisan index perspective it was a huge victory for the Democrat in Texas and the Republican in Rhode Island. My argument, however, is that a special election (especially only on the level of a state senate election) can hardly be used a bellweather for political changes.

    10:14 PM, December 20, 2007  
    Blogger Peter said...

    Basing a prediction on 1300 people in Rhode Island is like saying things about the United States based on the population of Rhode Island.

    Based on those presumptuous statements, I imagine you think VA-01 and OH-05 are indications that the country is growing more conservative.

    2:16 AM, December 21, 2007  
    Blogger NewRed said...

    The obvious difference is that VA-01 and OH-05 were already conservative districts. Just as the MA-05 was already liberal. But, if you think that upset victories in special elections are insignificant, then take it up with Guru, who based Wednesday's post about the Texas race, appears to believe otherwise.

    10:45 AM, December 21, 2007  
    Blogger Johnny C said...


    You either subscribe to the Rove school of math or are borderline delusional.

    In Texas 10,278 people voted of which 5,365 voted for the democrat. In Rhode Island 1,383 people voted of which 872 voted for the republican.

    Therefore the number of people voting for the the winner in Texas compared to Rhode Island is OVER a 600% increase and the total number of people voting is a 700% plus increase. Do you still think this elections are comprable in any way?

    Although special elections count for very little when determining trends (or even general election sucess for that matter) your attempt to derive such trends from an election in which fewer people voted than in most student government elections is simply beyond absurd and your attempts to defend your conculsions quite sad.

    With 872 people voting for Coaty there is a good chance that every single one of those people meet him at least once. Therefore the value of policy positions in influencing voting is dramatically decreased. In Texas we have 5,365 people voting for the winner (still to small to draw any conclusions in my mind) so presumably not all of these voters actually meet the two candidates and general policy differences drove some fraction of that vote, so the result might have some predictive value however slight.

    I am dumbfounded that you would try to argue that these two elections are comparable. I doubt you would think my salary comparable to yours if I made 700% more than you.

    2:05 PM, December 21, 2007  
    Blogger NewRed said...

    They are comparable in the sense the both were upsets in districts that had a heavy party advantage. Though obviously, they are not comparable by the numbers, especially since Texas has 2300% the population of Rhode Island. A Rhode Island landslide couldn't even compete with the numbers of a Texas special election. I simply believe that upset elections, even in special elections, in both large and small states, can be an indicator of a larger political change in that area, or at least the opportunity of one for the winning side. I'm hoping the GOP can build on their win, just as liberals are hoping the Democrats can build on their own. That doesn't make anyone "delusional".

    3:04 PM, December 21, 2007  
    Blogger Johnny C said...


    What on earth is your point? You went from Whitehouse is in trouble in 2012 and Goldwater style small government conservatism is on the rise again to special elections wins provide an opportunity to build upon gains. Emphatically, whenever you pick up or hold a seat (or even lose narrowly) your party has an opportunity to build upon its gains. This point does not even come close to being logically connected to your first point that if the GOP rallies around a fiscal conservative message it will post gains in New England in 08 and 12.

    You do understand that no responsible person can draw any meaningful conclusions about future federal elections from a state election in which only 1383 people voted right? Are you being deliberatly obtuse or is there some third point you are trying to make that we are all missing.

    And for the record I do not think the wishing and hoping for an opportunity to maybe build upon success in politics is delusional. Your belief that the votes of 800+ Rhode Island citizen's provides not just an opportunity but is proof that a fiscal small government message will result in a serious challenge to Whitehouse in 2012 is delusional.

    3:23 PM, December 21, 2007  
    Blogger NewRed said...

    I believe that the upset was due in large part to the fiscal conservative message. I also believe that, partially based on this upset, that a fiscally conservative message could bring further political gains for the Rhode Island GOP if they focus on the message over the next few years. IF that happens, then Whitehouse COULD (as in MIGHT) face a serious challenge in 2012. I never said it was proof that it in fact WILL happen. That's your own inventive re-wording.
    You are also entirely focused on the small number of voters in RI with no regard to the relative size of the district, so let he help you out. In 2006 in the Rhode Island district, about 3300 people voted there. The voter turnout for the 2007 special election was about 42%, and the 800 votes for the winner is about 24% of the 2006 total. In 2006 in the Texas district about 41,500 people voted there. The voter turnout for the 2007 special election was about 31%, and the 7400 votes for the winner is about 18% of the 2006 total. If my analysis makes me unreasonable or delusional, then I can only imagine what you think about Guru for making similar conclusions based on even lower relative numbers. Good luck with that argument.

    8:15 PM, December 21, 2007  
    Blogger Johnny C said...

    Oh Newred,

    Are you being intentionally obtuse?

    I did not make any point about turnout. I made a point about absolute size of the electorate. The smaller the pool of voters the more personal characteristics matter and the less policy matters. How you could have missed that and thought I was talking about turnout is beyond me. You should take up your basic lack of reading comprehension with whatever school you went to.

    As to your second argument -- the guru did it too. Since when is I killed him sure but some unrelated third party robbed a bank so it is all good a defence to murder? You make an astounding an bizarre leap here. It does not make your inane conclusions anymore logical to say someone else made a logical mistake.

    Why is it so hard for you -- and it would seem most Rs to admit that they overreached or can't back up a statement? Instead you make unrelated comments about the guru and completely rewrite your argument (even though people need only scroll to the top of the page to see what you've actually written). Why is that.

    I am assuming you won't answer those questions, but please educate me more about relative turnout and the relative sizes of Texas and Rhode Island. Oh while you are at it please point out any spot I made an argument based on turnout.

    9:25 AM, December 25, 2007  
    Blogger Johnny C said...


    Are you in RI? Did you work on the campaign? Why do you think Coaty's message of small government (if that was his message) was a major factor here over say personality and ground game?

    9:27 AM, December 25, 2007  

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