Monday, November 8, 2010

Changes on the Ground

Michael Barone digs into some of the election results on the state level:
Republicans snatched control of about 20 legislative houses from Democrats -- and by margins that hardly any political insiders expected. Republicans needed five seats for a majority in the Pennsylvania House and won 15; they needed four seats in the Ohio House and got 13; they needed 13 in the Michigan House and got 20; they needed two in the Wisconsin Senate and four in the Wisconsin House, and gained four and 14; they needed five in the North Carolina Senate and nine in the North Carolina House and gained 11 and 15.
Republicans even gained seats in the Massachusetts legislature, in a year in which the anti-Democrat wave didn't seem to break very hard in the Bay State.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


A few basic points for the moment:

  • Voting lock-step with a radical agenda doesn't endear you to moderate voters.
  • Candidate quality matters, and the fact that a candidate has aligned himself/herself with the "tea party" does not necessarily make that person a good candidate.
  • The GOP has an opportunity here, but only an opportunity---no guarantee.
  • Obama and his fellow Democrats seem now to be emphasizing the need to "get things done" for the American people; Republicans need to emphasize getting the right things done.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

With the networks calling the WV Senate race for Joe Manchin, it's awfully hard to see how the GOP takes the Senate (unless a surprise happens in CA).
Keep your eye on VA-11 and VA-9. These are races that Nate Silver says GOP needs to win to beat 538 projections; as of this moment, the Republican candidate leads.

Update: VA-09 has been called for GOP.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Inside the O'Donnell Ad Contretemps

I've been in contact with a source closely involved with Comcast Channel 28 who has given a fairly detailed timeline of the events about the Christine O'Donnell ad problems. A key detail about this story is that the company that O'Donnell contracted with to broadcast the ad (Positive Promotions) only supplies content to Channel 28; it does not have full control of the broadcasting technology. That will have important ramifications below.

So here's the timeline:

Afternoon of Friday, October 29: Station is told to expect O'Donnell epic ad by 5:30 that day.

5:00 pm Friday: Station employees are told that they will not be receiving the epic ad until Saturday at 2.

Saturday: 3 ads and a 2-minute piece are delivered (which are available on the TV station website), but no epic ad.

Sunday: Told that epic ad would be done by 2 pm on Sunday.

9 pm Sunday: Epic ad is delivered. But it needs to be converted.

10:30 pm Sunday: Ad ready for broadcast. But it needs to be taken to the Comcast studio. Here's where it runs into some serious problems. As the source relates:
...the employees running the show at Comcast do not have the time to take a show that arrives that close to airing with what they are already busy doing on Sunday nights. I believe there was a live taping at 11pm. The program needs to be loaded into the automated system, before it airs. The employees leave at or before midnight, and they are not legally obligated to [Positive Promotions] to load a program into the system before they leave. In fact, it is my understanding that programs should arrive 48 hours prior to airing, but they usually make exceptions for [Positive Promotions], but right before airing and before they want to leave is not one of them.
The source also relates that the Comcast studio employees do not begin to work until 3 pm on Monday, which explains why the Monday morning broadcast did not go forward (since the program wasn't in the system, it couldn't be broadcast).

The source emphasizes the O'Donnell's people were warned about the consequences about submitting the epic ad late. The source also suggests that Positive Promotions was not required to post the shorter ads on their website but did so as an act of goodwill.

Based on this timeline (which no O'Donnell person has yet challenged), it would seem hard to accuse the employees of Positive Promotions of any grave misdeed or sinister conspiracy to destroy Christine O'Donnell. Of course, if anyone has any information to the contrary, they are welcome to come forward.

O'Donnell's people now seem to be trying to smooth things over with Channel 28, which is now airing the epic ad.

Ranking the Senate

So I've made my tentative predictions for the results tomorrow. Let's dig into the Senate a little bit more.

My basic assumption here is that Republicans are likely to hold all open GOP seats and are (barring something very strange) clear favorites to get at least 4 Democrat seats (AR, IN, ND, and WI).

And then the toss-ups. What follows below is my ranking of toss-ups, from what I guess to be most likely to switch to least likely. I emphasize that this order is very, very tentative, and I would in no way be surprised if some of the seats higher up the list stayed Democrat while lower seats switched parties.

The Good Chances

Pat Toomey has led throughout most of the polling cycle, even if Joe Sestak has closed the gap a little recently. Sestak has a reputation as a strong closer, but I don't think he's got the numbers. Sestak is a pretty far-left Democrat, who could have won in 2006 or even 2008 (maybe), but Pennsylvania doesn't seem like his territory in 2010.

Mark Kirk has had a very slim lead over Alexi Giannoulias for months now. Giannoulias has been dogged by ethical questions throughout this campaign. Neither candidate has ever really cracked the high 40s in polling, so there could be a surprise here, but it looks like Kirk has the edge.

Sharron Angle has struggled against Harry Reid. Neither candidate seems particularly popular in Nevada, but Angle seems to be pulling ahead in the final days of the campaign. With Tuesday approaching, Nevada voters don't seem comfortable with pulling the lever for an increasingly left-wing Reid and for the Obama agenda.

Republican Ken Buck has had a few difficulties on the campaign trail, but Democrat Michael Bennet is facing a very hostile political environment. A divisive governor's race (with a failed GOP candidate and an empowered Tom Tancredo) may pull down Buck. But polling gives Buck an edge, and he seems to be pulling away from Bennet.

The Unknowns

West Virginia
This state is puzzling. It has a radical antipathy to Barack Obama and his agenda. And yet it may be on the verge of sending a Democrat into the Senate. Democratic Governor Joe Manchin is personally very popular and separated himself from the administration on cap-and-trade very early on. But now Manchin has much more explicitly distanced himself from the White House, including reversing some of his former positions. For example, in the heat of the health-care battle, Manchin supported Obamacare; now, in the heat of the campaign, he has denounced that measure. Republican John Raese had successfully attached Manchin to the Democratic agenda in the early fall, but now Manchin seems to have successfully danced away from his old allies and has regained his lead in the polls. I'm still somewhat bullish for Republicans in this race, though. Will WV voters really go into the voting booth on Tuesday and not fear that Manchin will, once in office, cast his vote for "progressive" plans? I think those reservations could sway some voters---Tuesday will tell if they sway enough.

Patty Murray is vulnerable, and Dino Rossi has run a good campaign. Coming up on Tuesday, this race is about as close as it can get. A wave could definitely propel Rossi over the top.

The Long Shots

It seemed in early October that Linda McMahon was narrowing the gap against Democrat Richard Blumenthal, but the rest of October saw Blumenthal expand his lead. A Republican win could happen, and there are a number of close House races, which could help McMahon.

This race seems within five points, but those are a long five points. Under perfect storm conditions, Carly Fiorina could pull off a win over Sen. Barbara Boxer.

This state is so small that a surprise could happen. But make no mistake: it would be a SURPRISE. The RCP average of polls has shown little real movement in the race for almost six weeks, and the picture isn't a pretty one for Christine O'Donnell---a 10+-point Coons lead. O'Donnell did surprise some pundits with her victory over Mike Castle in the Republican primary, but polls taken prior to the race did show her leading Castle. That kind of evidence is lacking this time around. Maybe her 30-minute epic commercial airing today and tomorrow will help her beat Coons.