Two key races which have been very close throughout the summer and fall have flipped back to the Republicans in Election Projection's latest calculations. In Florida, where
Republican Rick Scott and Democrat Alex Sink have moved back and forth in the polls, the latest surveys show Scott with a slight lead. Both have him up just a few points, but
together they provide him with enough cushion to shift EP's overall numbers in his favor. That race moves from Weak DEM Gain to
Weak GOP Hold and adjusts the projected gubernatorial tally to 30 Republicans and 20 Democrats.
In the Senate, recent polling has recaptured another seat for the GOP, one that had just days ago slipped away from them in the projections. Last week's Rasmussen poll
testing the Illinois Senate race gave Democrat Alexi Giannoulias a 1-point lead over Republican Mark Kirk. This week's edition shows some movement in Kirk's direction, giving him a
4-point advantage. Replacing the old with the new paints this race red, moving it from Weak DEM Hold to
Weak GOP Gain (Kirk now has a 1% lead in the projections). The Senate count now stands at 49 Democrats,
49 Republicans and 2 Independents who caucus with the Democrats.
Saturday I updated the generic ballot component to my House projection calculations. The changed favored the Democrats, reducing the adjustment from +2.4 for the GOP to
+2.2. It was a small change, but in a very close race like New Jersey CD-3, it was enough to tip the scale back to the Democrat by a scant 0.1%. Just two days prior, this
district was painted red for the first time all cycle.
Another party-switcher on Saturday came about as a result of a (weird) poll testing the open seat of GOP Senate candidate Mark Steven Kirk in Illinois. We Ask America
published a survey in which Republican Bob Dold led Democrat Dan Seals by 11 points. There is probably little doubt that Dold, if he leads at all, isn't nearly that far in the lead.
Like in the Senate race in West Virginia, future polls should give the challenger a much better shot at taking this seat. For now, though, these two changes offset each other, leaving
the projected House tally unchanged at 232 Republicans and 203 Democrats.
Thursday I got wind of major updates to CQ Politics House race ratings. Previously, I had been following CQ Politics'
Race Rating Change Stories page to keep up-to-date on their ratings. It turns out that wasn't a good
idea because the race ratings were changing substantially without any mention on that page. As a result, when I finally checked
the ratings list, I found I had a lot of updating to do. Thirty-three races sported new ratings since
the last time I inspected the list in detail.
Since I had been keeping up with changes made by the other three on my pundit panel, CQ Politics' new set of updates, numbering 31-2 in favor of the GOP, had a major impact on EP's projections in the House.
Several races had moved to the brink of flipping with the other pundits' changes. In five races, a fourth pundit update was the catalyst to flip them to red. Those five include
Arizona CD-8, New Jersey CD-3, Ohio CD-18, Pennsylvania CD-10 and Texas CD-23. All five move from Weak DEM Hold to
Weak GOP Gain giving Republicans the largest projected net gain of House seats so far at 53. The House tally stands at
Republicans 232 and 203 Democrats. That's precisely what the House count was on Election Eve in 2006 (counting Bernie
Sanders' socialist seat in Vermont among the Democrats).
I just posted a new ranking of the 30 House seats most likely to change parties
on November 2. It has been way too long since I've refreshed the list, and the size and number of
changes reflects the long period of inactivity. The last update was nearly 2 months ago. Times have certainly changed since then.
No less than eight new seats are listed with Debbie Halvorson's IL-11 making the highest debut. Her seat is now ranked as the seventh most likely takeover. Also moving
from unranked into the top ten is Chet Edward in TX-17. He debuts at number 9. Other first time entrants are PA-3 at 14, PA-11, AR-1, IL-10 and FL-2 at 21 thru 24, and AZ-1
at 27. Illinois CD-10 is the only GOP seat to make its debut in the rankings. Republicans chances to hold this open seat vacated by Senate candidate Mark Steven Kirk have
Other big moves include New Mexico's CD-2 which dropped 16 spots from 10 to 26. Ironically, Democrat incumbent Harry Teague is still supremely vulnerable. His drop
in the rankings is indicative of a souring climate for Democrats in general rather than any improvement in his own prospects. The same can be said of the drop of the open seat in NH-2 from 15 to 25. The largest drop of all comes from Maryland CD-1 where Frank Kratovil is holding his own, relatively speaking, in his Republican-leaning district. He is still
projected to lose, as are all 30 in the list, but, unlike many other races, pundit evaluations have remained largely unchanged, and polling has been less discouraging for him than one might
Those dropping out of this edition of the rankings are MS-1 (Childers, previously 14), ND-AL (Pomeroy, 17), HI-1 (Djou, 19), MI-7 (Schauer, 24), PA-7 (OPEN - Sestak, 25), NV-3
(Titus, 27), NY-24 (Arcuri, 29) and SD-AL (Herseth-Sandlin, 30). All of these seats, save Charles Djou in Hawaii's 1st district, are Democrats, and all, save Djou and Arcuri, are
currently projected to lose.
Tomorrow, I will post updated rankings for Senate and gubernatorial races.
The race in Illinois to replace interim Democrat Roland Burris has been extremely close for some time now. Highlighting just how close it remains, the margins of the last 7 surveys
polling the race have been 1, 0, 4, 1, 0, 4 and 1. The latest Rasmussen poll gives Democrat Alexi Giannoulias a 1 point lead over Republican Mark Steven Kirk. But since it
replaces an earlier Rasmussen poll which had Kirk ahead by 4, it is enough to swing the projection here at EP from Weak GOP Gain to
Weak DEM Hold. However, with the projected margin teetering at Giannoulias +0.6%, this race is highly susceptible to another color change in the coming
days. With this change, the Senate tally moves to 49 Democrats, 49 Republicans and
In the House, a Survey USA poll favoring Republican challenger David Harmer by 6 over Democrat Jerry McNerney in California's 11th district nets one more projected GOP gain
there. With so many House seats projected to go to the GOP, it's interesting that this is the first time one of California's 34 Democratic House seats has been among them. The
GOP gain now stands at a net 48 seats with 227 Republicans and 208 Democrats projected to take their place in the next Congress.
Both Rasmussen and
Gallup have released their weekly generic ballot poll results. After last week's earthshaking
survey from Gallup, I was concerned the GOP leads in their high and low turnout models would decrease. They did. But just by a single point on both accounts. This
means the GOP tsunami is moving ahead essentially undiminished from a week ago.
Rasmussen is a different story. Unlike Gallup, their poll last week gave Republicans a small 3-point lead in the generic. That margin marked a drastic reduction in the
GOP's advantage compared to the results over the last year or so. So in their case, I was hoping for a dramatic increase in GOP strength. That is, in fact, what we
see. Today's Rasmussen poll gives Republicans an 8-point lead, 47%-39%. This data will not impact my projections here at EP until next Saturday since I update that
component only weekly.
It has been a while since I posted anything on my adopted race. Several weeks ago, I decided to
"adopt" the race between Democratic incumbent Bob
Etheridge and his Republican challenger Renee Ellmers. Since it is close by here in North Carolina and since I believe it represents the kind of district the GOP will win in a really big
wave election, it seemed like a good candidate - plus, my friend and distant cousin, Lorie Byrd, works for the Ellmers campaign.
In recent weeks, with all the work it takes to keep up with all the polls, I haven't been able to dedicate much time to posting on the race. Today, though,
I came across a website that moved me to blogging action. One characteristic of many Democratic congressmen
who hail from Republican-leaning districts is a conservative streak. These congressmen don't always vote with the liberals on Capitol Hill. Like them, Etheridge is a Democrat
from Republican district who claims at home not to be in lockstep with Nancy Pelosi and other congressional liberals. Unlike them, however, his actual deeds when on the job so closely
follow Pelosi's bidding that he appears much more like Barney Frank than Ben Nelson.
Check out the website for plentiful examples of the Two Bobs. And if you're a conservative or moderate living in NC-2, make sure you remember the Pelosi-clone "DC Bob"
whenever you hear "NC Bob's" disingenuous conservative pitch.
Hat tip:Riehl World View
Gallup released their latest generic ballot poll today. In addition to simply testing registered
voters, Gallup also attempted to gauge who is most likely to vote in November. Among those considered likely to vote, Gallup further divides the results into two distinct turnout
models. Either method should fill Democrats with dread, but the low turnout model is absolutely devastating. The high turnout scenario gives the generic Republican an
enormous 13-point edge, an advantage that represents an astounding 20 to 25-point shift from just two years ago.
That's incredibly significant and demonstrates how different the mood of the electorate is after two years of unbridled Democratic control in Washington. And the truly
remarkable thing is that, compared to Gallup's low turnout model, Democrats can only hope for a high turnout midterm election. If the turnout on November 2 is low, according to
Gallup, Republicans outpace Democrats by eighteen points! At 56-38, these results are unlike anything we've seen in a long time.
For purposes of the generic ballot component of EP's House projection formula, I plan to use an average of the results. Look for this poll to have an impact on the numbers
when I update that metric on Saturday.
Larry Sabato updated his House picks today. Twenty-two contests sport new ratings,
and in all but one of those, the GOP candidate's position has improved. Tomorrow's update here at Election Projection will include these changes - and some movement in the
projected House tally as well. Stay tuned...
Two metrics moving in opposite directions have changed the colors of four House districts, without altering the projected balance of power in the House. First, very favorable
GOP-leaning generic polls released this week swelled the composite generic average and moved Arizona's 5th district and Pennsylvania's 8th from Weak DEM Hold
to Weak GOP gain as a result. On the other hand, several district polls came out lately showing Democratic incumbents performing very
well. Two of these polls, one by American Future Fund (R) from Iowa's CD-3 and another by Rasmussen taken in South Dakota, produced two red to blue conversions.
Leonard Boswell's and Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin's races moved from Weak GOP gain to Weak DEM Hold. The net
of all this movement is the same 218 Democrats and 217 Republicans tally we had yesterday.
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I will never give or sell your email address to anyone.
Each week, Gallup releases a generic congressional poll which tests the pervasive lean of voters toward the two major parties. Two weeks ago, this metric show a record advantage
for Republicans. The perference of voters in that survey was 50% for a generic Republican candidate and 43% for a generic Democrat. At 7 points, that lead was the largest
ever enjoyed by the GOP in 60 years of Gallup's poll.
Today, they've released another milestone edition. Republicans have pushed ahead to
a phenomenal 10-point lead, 51-41. To put the result in perspective, this
same poll had the Democrats ahead by double-digits just before the 2008 elections. I've used this example
before, but it bears repeating. Imagine a
20-point swing applied to the House race results in 2008 across the board. It's easy to envision a Republican wave sweeping away the Democratic majority.
I just wish the Republican lead in Rasmussen's generic poll hadn't shrunk to 6 points in their latest
release. It was a full dozen points two weeks ago.
Perhaps Gallup's poll this week is an outlier. Even so, it is clear that a large red wave is still on its way.
Plenty of important House primary action took place yesterday in Arizona and Florida. Eight races from those two states currently live on Election Projection's
hotly-contested House race list. In Arizona, districts 1, 5 and 8, all seats with Democratic
incumbents seeking re-election, are competitive. In district 1, Congresswoman Anne Kirkpatrick will face Republican Paul Gosar. He's probably not the strongest challenger
Arizona Republicans could have picked to do battle with Kirkpatrick, but in this environment toxic to Democrats, he has a shot.
The strongest candidate also failed to win the nod in CD-5, Harry Mitchell's district. But as in district 1, that may not matter this year. David Schweikert will be the one to
test the strength of the red wave here in November. Then there's CD-8. For the third time in as many races in the Grand Canyon State, the weaker general election candidate
took the nomination. According to Karl Raszewski, political media strategist and EP's "on the ground" reporter, incumbent Gabrielle Giffords can breathe a bit easier knowing she'll face
Jesse Kelly, a one-issue (border security) candidate, instead of conservative State Senator Jonathan Paton.
Currently, all three of these seats are projected to stay in Democratic hands, albeit by slim margins.
Florida's results yesterday were much more GOP-friendly. In CD-2, the contested primary actually took place on the Democratic side where incumbent Allen Boyd narrowly
withstood a strong challenge from Al Lawson. Ironically, GOP nominee Steve Southerland will likely have a better shot to take the seat now that Boyd has survived. Another
positive primary result - at least for GOP fans - came down in Alan Grayson's eighth district. Daniel Webster, a favorite of Marco Rubio conservatives, won the nomination over Crist
backers' man, Kurt Kelly. Grayson is not expected to prevail in November, an outlook that became more likely with Webster's win.
In CD-25, a rare vulnerable Republican seat, the strongest Republican candidate, David Rivera, won easily but now faces a serious challenge from Democrat Joe Garcia.
This race should be a tight one all the way to November 2nd. The projection here stands at Mod GOP Hold, but don't be surprised for this one to buck
the national trend and move toward blue as we move toward Election Day.
As promised, here is Karl's on the ground report on today's primary elections in House races in Florida. Again, this report does not attempt to pick winners. Rather, it looks at the impact
the primary winners could have on the general election in November.
FL-2: There are competitive primaries on both sides of the aisle in this race. Despite the R+6 rating, Democrats have successfully held
this seat since 1990, and Rep Allen Boyd has had it for 7 terms. He's facing State Senator Al Lawson, who has polled strongly against him in
several polls. Boyd, who has a habit for sticking his foot in his mouth, has openly said at political events that many Democrats are racist in
FL-2 and that they'll vote for the Republican over Lawson, who is Black. On the Republican side Steve Southerland is the favorite, with only
Ed Hendry having any shot at catching him. Southerland has out-raised Boyd in campaign contributions this year, and Boyd hasn't faced serious
competition in over a decade. He has a lot of funds saved up but is an inexperienced campaigner. Southerland is certainly the favorite
to bring this seat home for the GOP in November over Boyd. However, despite Boyd's claim of racist democrat voters, a Lawson victory in the
primary could make this race a Tossup.
FL-3: Rep Corrine Brown has face many ethics questions, and could have a tough primary against Scott Fortune. Despite the D+18 rating
and the fact that this is a majority Black district, it is a conservative district because of the high number of Military living in the area.
If Brown survives her primary, she could be vulnerable. However, only black conservative Chris Nwasike has the opportunity to defeat her,
and he has a few primary challengers to get through first.
FL-5: While this is an R+9 district, retiring Republican Ginny Brown-Waite took it from Democrats by a narrow margin in 2002.
While The Democrats haven't fielded strong candidates in a few cycles, this year may be different. Jim Piccillo, who switched from R to D to
run for this seat, is capable of making this race competitive in November. If Republican Sherrif Rick Nugent wins the primary, this seat should
stay with the GOP, however, if Tea Party candidate Jason Sager wins, he'll be more vulnerable to Picollo.
FL-8: Alan Grayson is one of the most likely Democrats to be unseated in November since he won FL-8 almost solely on Obama's coattails.
As a result, Republicans rushed to enter this race. The 2 GOP frontrunners are State Senator Kurt Kelly and conservative Dan Webster. Kelly is
getting the moderate establishment Charlie Crist vote, while Webster has received the endorsement of Jeb Bush. He's getting a lot of support from
Rubio conservatives. Some argue that the moderate Kelly is the better general election candidate, but it's actually Webster who will be more likely
to defeat Grayson. He should be able to cut into the moderate vote and do much better with conservative voters.
FL-24: This R+4 district is one of the most interesting races in the country because of the vulnerability of freshmen Democratic Rep Suzanne
Kosmas. She's very vulnerable in tomorrow's primary to Paul Partyka, who has lead in the 2 most recent polls. On the GOP side, it's been considered
a 3-way race between Craig Miller, Karen Diebel and Sandy Adams. Diebel looked like the leader, but a 911 call surfaced where she claimed a snake was
thrown in her pool by "political operatives." Craig Miller has since attacked her "mental fitness" to serve, even sending out a paid mailer where two
of her co-workers discuss her "delusional" nature. Miller & Diebel have both been damaged by these attacks, and conservative Sandy Adams now looks like
the favorite. If Adams wins the primary, she'll be the favorite over either Partyka or Kosmas. If Miller wins, he'd likely defeat Kosmas, but Partyka
could be a tough race for him. Diebel will have a hard time defeating either of the Democrats after the damage caused.
FL-25: Republican Mario Diaz-Balart is leaving this seat and moving to the safer one that his brother, Lincoln, is retiring from.
Republicans have entered State Rep David Rivera, who is a strong candidate in this heavily Cuban district, and should defeat "Tea Party Republican" Paul Crespo.
However, the Tea Party has also managed to get Roly Arrojo on the ballot as 3rd Party candidate, which will take away some conservative Republican support in
November. Democrats have two candidates running in the primary, and who wins that race could likely determine whether Rivera keeps this seat for
Republicans. If Director of the Cuban American National Foundation Joe Garcia, who almost defeated Diaz-Balart in this district, wins the primary, then Rivera
will have a very tough race, but if Luis Meurice is victorious, Rivera will have an easier time.
The information in this post courtesy of
Karl Raszewski, Political Media Strategist
There are four primaries on tap for Tuesday. Our latest installment of Karl's "on-the-ground" segment takes a look at some important primary races in Arizona. His
insights are not about who will win, but the impact possible winners would have on the general election in November. I'll post an on-the-ground report from Karl on Florida sometime
AZ-1: Ann Kilpatrick is one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the country in an R+6 CD, where McCain defeated Obama by 10%. While there are 8 GOP candidates, only three have a shot to win. They are Bradley Beauchamp, Rusty Bower and Paul Gosar, and each represents a different segment of Republican loyalties. Dr.
Gosar is the "[Sheriff Joe] Arpaio candidate," former State Rep Bower is the "Party candidate" and Beauchamp is the Tea Party's favorite. This race has been very brutal, and like
most of the Republican primaries in Arizona, it has came down to illegal immigration more than anything else. The differences between the candidates are subtle, but much has been
made of them. Though Gosar has the support of most of Arizona's sheriffs, the Border Patrol has decided to endorse Beauchamp. If Bower or Beauchamp win the primary,
they'll certainly defeat Kilpatrick. If Dr. Gosar wins, however, there will be some from the "McCain/Establishment" side that vote against him in November out of anger. In that
case, we'll have to see whether their votes will be enough to cost him the victory.
AZ-3: This is the R+9 open seat of retiring Republican Congressman John Shadegg. A dozen candidates or so entered this race because the primary
winner is viewed as the heir-apparent to Shadegg in this heavily Republican district. Of the many contenders, four have been fighting it out at the top. But in a race where
a relatively low percentage of the vote will take the prize, several others have the opportunity to sneak in and take the nomination, especially considering how the top-tier candidates have
been trashing each other.
The race started out with former VP Dan Quayle's son Ben Quayle, State Senator Jim Waring and Mayor Vernon Parker standing above the field in-terms of visibility and name
recognition. But Steve Moak has used his money to run a strong paid-media campaign that has propelled him to the top as well. Parker, who is endorsed by Arpaio, has also
received DC-based GOP support because - like Tim Scott, Allen West and Ryan Frazier - he is a high profile black conservative with a genuine opportunity for victory in November.
Waring is the clear favorite of the state GOP party and Senator McCain. Ben Quayle has never had any major support from any Arizona politicians. He has sold himself as the
Tea Party candidate. A strong front-runner at one point, Qualye has fallen sharply after several major debacles (i.e. borrowing kids for paid media photos, admitting to writing posts
for a female-bashing website).
Parker or Waring would certainly keep this seat in GOP column in November. Moak and state legislators Pam Gorman or Sam Clump would also likely win due to the registration
advantage. On the other hand, should Quayle win this race, his baggage will make it hard for him to keep conservative Democrat and father-of-five, John Hulburd from taking this one
for the Democrats.
AZ-5: While this seat is rated R+5, it is very much a swing seat that will likely go back and forth between parties every few cycles. Democrat Harry Mitchell is
not very popular these days, but none of his GOP rivals have really managed to pull the majority of Republicans together. David Schweikert has ran for office twice before and lost,
and Susan Bitters Smith was the 2008 nominee that Mitchell easily defeated. She's also known for using a 2008 Arpaio endorsement to make it appear as if he supports her again,
which he does not. If either of these candidates wins the primary, it's not likely they can unseat Mitchell.
Tea Party favorite Mark Spinks exited the race after his 2005 arrest for indecent exposure was revealed. The top two candidates are Dr. Chris Salvino and Jim Ward.
Salvino initially used Obamacare to gain support, but has since switched to border issues to be more competitive against Ward. For his part, Ward has the support of most
conservatives and is becoming the favorite of the GOP establishment as well. Though neither is a sure shot to defeat Mitchell, Ward is certainly the strongest candidate with the best
chance to succeed in November.
AZ-8: Brian Miller, president of the Freshman 50 PAC, exited this race after facing questions about spending PAC funds on his own race. As a result, the race is
down to conservative State Senator Jonathan Paton and Tea Party/Arpaio candidate and veteran Jesse Kelly. Kelly was an early favorite, and attempted to define Paton as
the "establishment" Republican. However, Paton's record as a legislator proved him to be a strong conservative, who continually takes on the governor and the leadership of both
parties. The race between Kelly and Paton is very close, and either could win the primary. However, while Paton almost certainly will defeat embattled Democrat incumbent
Gabrielle Giffords in November, Kelly may have a tougher time. He'll have to prove he's about more than just border security.
The information in this post courtesy of
Karl Raszewski, Political Media Strategist
As we move toward a pivotal midterm election, the political tide favors the Republican Party. The winds blowing across the country are bringing many races into play that would
normally not be hotly-contested. North Carolina CD-2 is in many ways a microcosm of the national political landscape. As in other House races, the incumbent, Democrat Bob
Etheridge, has a long string of convincing electoral victories in the district, but he's facing a strong challenge this year from a first time candidate. And like many, his opponent,
Republican Renee Ellmers, was heavily involved in grass roots politics before deciding to run for office.
As a native North Carolinian, I'm excited to have this kind of race taking place in my neck of the woods, and having
a friend and distant cousin working for the Ellmers campaign only increases my interest in it. So, today I am "adopting" the
Etheridge-Ellmers matchup as my spotlight race for the cycle. What does that mean? From time to time as we near the election, I'll be posting stuff on the race and
how it is progressing. I hope that this will serve as an interesting "inside look" into a race that represents the possibilities afforded by this year's Republican resurgence.
Right now, most pundits still rate this race a longshot for Ellmers, despite
her solid, if scarce, polling numbers
and Etheridge's early summer YouTube blunder. Those
who would say she's unlikely to win point to her campaign's lack of funds as part of their rationale. That's a valid concern, to be sure, but perhaps
the recent endorsement by Sarah Palin will improve her financial
standing and make her more competitive on that front.
To win the House majority, the GOP probably doesn't have to win this race. However, much more than the majority is in play for them in the lower chamber, and if the GOP is to
realize that tremendous potential, races like this will need to move into the red column. With polls showing her tied to slightly ahead of Etheridge, I think calling Ellmers a longshot right
now is too pessimistic about her chances. For sure, some healthy fundraising in the coming weeks would remove that label and land this race squarely in toss-up territory.
Election Projection's House tally stands at 221 Democrats and 214 Republicans. A net of 35 seats are now projected to go to
the GOP on November 2, just 4 shy of a Republican majority. That count, like an approaching thunderstorm, has risen slowly over the last weeks and months and shows no signs of
stopping short of the 39-seat mark needed to remove the gavel from Nancy Pelosi's hand. Yesterday, Charlie Cook raised his GOP takeover range to 35-45 seats, moving ten House
seat ratings in the Republicans' direction. Earlier this week, both Gallup and Rasmussen released record advantages for the GOP in their respective congressional generic
surveys. And today, the four seats needed for the GOP's first projected majority in the House here at EP are a hair's breadth from red territory.
In three races - FL-2, NC-8 and OH-16 - the Democrat leads by 0.1%, and in a fourth, NM-1, the lead is just 0.3%. It is entirely possible the next batch of pundit rating
changes or generic surveys could usher in the first projected GOP majority in the House since early in 2006. Beyond the majority, however, potential gains remain numerous.
A shift of 2.1% across the board would yield a 50-seat gain for Republicans. That would give the GOP 229 seats in the House - almost as many as they held at their highest point
during the 12 years of GOP control from 1994 to 2006.
There's a wave building out there, a political wave of a decidedly crimson hue. It's coming, and it's growing as it nears. It hasn't gotten to us yet; it won't
until November. But we can hear it already, and the sound is getting louder. To quote the agent from The Matrix, the sound you hear, if you care to listen, "is the
sound of inevitability." And unlike Neo, the Democrat majority doesn't appear capable of a super-human escape.
Gallup and Rasmussen have released their latest generic congressional ballot tests. Both are now giving the generic Republican record margins. Gallup's 7-point GOP lead
is the largest ever recorded by the granddaddy of polling firms. Likewise, Rasmussen has never shown the GOP a dozen points ahead until now. These numbers are
historic and make the outlook for a Republican majority in the House more likely than ever. We'll see how these results impact the projections here in tomorrow's update.
This article first appears at Pajamas Media on Wednesday, August 11, 2010.
As we approach President Barack Obama's first midterm elections, the question regarding the outcome is not whether Democrats will lose seats in the House and Senate, but how many they
will lose. Patrick Ruffini, a well-known political operative and blogger, declared earlier this year that House losses for the Democrats would reach 70 seats or more, surpassing the 54
they lost in the landmark Republican wave election of 1994 and nearly doubling the 39 seats the GOP needs to wrest control of the House from the Democrats. And Fox News
contributor and former Clintonite Dick Morris has claimed for months that Republicans would take not just the House, but the Senate also.
Are these bold statements just sensationalism and wishful thinking, or are there valid reasons for reaching such conclusions? Even a cursory perusal of the current political
landscape and recent electoral history reveals indications that Democrats need worry about November. But if we take a deeper look, a picture of a potentially massive superstorm on
the horizon begins to form.
Let’s start with some structural obstacles Democrats face heading toward Election Day 2010.
The president's party generally loses seats in midterm elections. From Harry Truman's first midterms through George W. Bush's first, the party in the White House lost an average of 24 seats in the House and just over 2 seats in the Senate.
So history says an immediate disadvantage confronted Democrats right out of the gate.
Democrats have gained substantial seats in recent blue wave elections. Ironically, Democratic successes in the elections of 2006 and 2008, ushered in by a strong political wind at their back, are making this year especially difficult now that the winds are
blowing in the opposite direction. Many of the 55 net House seats won since 2004 would be difficult for Democrats to hold in any year. With a strong Republican wind blowing,
holding many of them this year will be next to impossible.
Beyond structural disadvantages, there are many signs that the electorate is eager to issue an emphatic rejection of Democratic leadership and their policies on Election Day.
Voters who plan to vote Republican are far more enthusiastic. One of the well-publicized aspects of Election 2010 has been the tremendous enthusiasm shift among the electorate. It is hard to overstate the importance of voter enthusiasm,
and Republicans are clearly reaping a substantial advantage in this area. Polling results aside, one need look no further than the open primaries held last week in Missouri and Michigan
to see the difference it can make in the voting booth.
Both states conduct open primaries which allow folks to vote in either party primary. In Michigan, a reliably blue state, voters chose the Republican primary by a 2-1 margin!
Missourians did the same by 65% to 35%. This kind of partisan lean foretells hefty Republican margins all over in November.
Generic congressional polling has moved significantly toward the GOP. Experts agree that a Democratic advantage of 2 points or so in these surveys represents an even playing field in congressional elections. In 2006 and 2008, Democrats
parlayed double-digit leads in this important metric to large House gains. This year, we are seeing a much different sentiment rising. Pollster.com publishes a cumulative
average based on many generic congressional polls. At last count, the GOP leads 46.0% to 40.7%, and the margin is growing. That's a 15-point turnaround from just two
years ago. To put this transformation in perspective, if we transposed a 15-point shift to all House election results in 2008, that alone would bring a GOP House majority within reach.
But that’s only part of the generic poll story. Exacerbating the problem for Democrats is the fact that polls measuring "likely voters" give the GOP an even larger
advantage. In truth, getting an accurate turnout model in these polls is guesswork at best, a fact that may mask greater Republican gains than the rosiest outlooks project.
Polls hint that even normally safe Democratic incumbents are vulnerable. Surprise upsets are an important aspect of any election where one party scores historic gains in Washington. Iowa CD-2 in 2006 is a perfect example of such an upset.
Throughout the election season that year, this district wasn't on anyone's hotly contested short list. Yet when the dust settled, Republican Jim Leach was no longer a
congressman. Fast-forward to this summer. House polls released over the last several weeks show several Democratic incumbents, who have won re-election by large margins
in the past, facing challenges that may send them packing come January.
Bob Etheridge (D-NC 2) was just two points ahead of little known Republican nominee Renee Ellmers before the incumbent’s Washington sidewalk misstep was caught on
YouTube. Polls taken since give Ellmers a small lead. This is a congressman who has enjoyed 58-67% support from his district each of the previous six elections.
Other similar examples abound. Incumbents in Illinois CD-11 and 17, North Dakota CD-AL, South Dakota CD-AL and Ohio CD-13, to name a few, all won comfortably in
2008. All are struggling in the polls this year. It is possible none will survive. And with so many Democratic incumbents performing poorly among the handful of polls
that have been publicly released, one has to wonder how many more unpolled races fall in the same category.
On the Senate side, a prime example of how the Republican tide may effect elections there can be found in Wisconsin. Entrenched Democratic Senator Russ Feingold should
have been given a free re-election pass when former Governor Tommy Thompson declined to challenge him. That is not the case, however, and Feingold now finds himself in a true
toss-up against political novice Ron Johnson. Moreover, incumbent senators in California (Boxer) and Washington (Murray) are also in toss-up struggles in these two Democratic
Finally, the issues that drive news cycles continue to fuel the Republican wave. In Missouri's primary last week, the Show-Me State had the opportunity to show us all how they feel about ObamaCare. Seventy-one percent came down against it. For
Democrats in Congress who voted for the bill, that result has to be a chilling omen. It also demonstrates how badly Democratic leadership's ongoing attempts to paint ObamaCare in a
positive light are missing their mark with the American people.
But ObamaCare is just one, albeit large, issue stoking voter angst against Democrats and their liberal policies. Consider New York City's approval for a mosque to be built near
Ground Zero and Judge Vaughn Walker's decision to overturn Proposition 8, a ballot initiative which added a traditional marriage amendment to California's constitution. Consider
further a growing circle of scandals involving Democrats headlined by Congressman Charles Rangel's alleged misdeeds. Through a steady stream of current events like these, voters
are regularly reminded how far from their ideals Democrats in power have steered the national agenda. November 2 will be their chance to say enough is enough, and they look
poised to say it loudly and clearly.
Political winds have a way of abating quickly or even making U-turns without warning, and we still have nearly three months for the electorate's mood to shift and reduce Democratic
losses on Capitol Hill. However, taking all these signs at face value, it is hard to avoid coming away with the impression that we are in the midst of an historic election season - one
that could make Ruffini and Morris appear prophetic.
A partisan poll released by Victory Enterprises (R) this week gives GOP challenger Brad Zaun a 47%-36% lead over Democratic incumbent Leonard Boswell. Even though all four
pundits on my House panel continue to rate this race narrowly in Boswell's favor, this poll, coupled with the generic congressional poll offset, is enough to move Zaun 0.3% ahead in the
Election Projection for the race. As a result of this party-switcher, the projected House net gain for Republicans moves up one to 34, another high water mark. With the
House tally now projected at 222 Democrats, 213 Republicans, just 5 more GOP takeovers will give them the House majority.
I have abandoned my own generic congressional poll calculation in favor of Pollster.com's more scientific and
exhaustive method. You'll see that metric now included on every state page where House races are tracked. I also pored over some House polling and found several polls
to plug into the formula. All this combined has produced three party switchers among the 87 House races currently tracked here at Election Projection.
Benefiting Democrats is West Virginia's first district. A Democratic poll completed on August 2 gives Democratic nominee Michael Oliverio a huge 52%-36% lead over Republican
David McKinley. The entire EP pundit panel rates this race a toss-up, so some doubt has to be cast on this polls results.
Two seats changed from blue to red from today's updates. Just as a Democrat poll vaulted Oliverio into the lead, a Republican poll has moved Republican Adam Kinzinger ahead
of incumbent Democrat, Debbie Halvorson. And, like that poll, this one also raises suspicions. Partisan polls do tend to be partisan. That's why I adjust all these House
polls before entering them in the calculations by deleting 2 points from the candidate of the pollster's party and adding 2 points to the other. Even so, polls with large margins can still sway the results.
The second blue-to-red change comes out of Wisconsin where a We Ask America poll gives Republican Sean Duffy a decided edge over Democrat Julie Lassa to replace outgoing Congressman David Obey (D) in District 7. Since the primaries have not
occurred yet in Wisconsin, this change is a preliminary switch. By the way, for those who doubt We Ask America's legitimacy as a pollster,
here are some favorable comments about them.
These changes bring the net Republican gain in the House to a high so far this cycle at EP. They are now projected to gain 35 seats while losing just 2. The House tally
moves to 223 Democrats and 212 Republicans, just 6 GOP gains away from a Republican majority.
Karl wrote in late last week with some good on the ground information from my home state of North Carolina. It looks like the Old North State could be treasure trove for House
Republicans this November. While a couple of early NRCC targets have fallen down the vulnerability scale, others have become much more competitive than anyone expected a year
Early favorites, NC-8 and NC-13, found crowded GOP fields, faced bitter primaries and eventually ended in competitive run-offs. This brought about plenty of anger and negative
campaigning between factions of Republicans, creating a Tea Party vs. conservative GOP divide that still lingers and threatens these opportunities for GOP gains.
However, NC-8 still remains a major focus of the NCGOP and the NRCC, and many Tea Party voters have come around to supporting GOP nominee Harold Johnson after their
favorite, Tim D'Annunzio, was shown to be a strange, troubled candidate, who had deceived even close supporters about his past. D'Annunzio's subsequent lawsuit against the
NCGOP and Johnson has actually helped to reveal his true nature and allowed for some GOP reconciliation between his former supporters and Johnson.
In NC-13, where Tea Party candidate Bill Randall won the run-off, many in the conservative GOP base are unconvinced that conspiracy-prone Randall can stay on message
long enough to defeat the Democratic incumbent, Brad Miller. NC-13 is a long, strangely gerrymandered district, which pairs conservative white rural Republican vote in the
northern counties with urban portions of inner-city Raleigh and Greensboro. While the NRCC hopes for NC-13 have dwindled, if Randall, a Black Republican from Raleigh, can make
meaningful gains among traditionally Dem-leaning voters in those urban areas, he still has some opportunity for a victory. (Scott's note: He could also pull out a squeaker if
the enthusiasm gap yields high enough Republican turnout in this district on Election Day. That seems to be a more plausible path to victory for Randall than winning over the urban
Beyond these early targets, several other seats are now in play. NC-7 and NC-11, which seemed safe for Democrat Rep. Mike McIntyre and Rep. Heath Shuler - especially after
they voted against Obamacare - are now some of the most fertile areas for Republican pick-ups. Republicans already have a voting advantage in these districts, and despite McIntyre
and Shuler being Blue Dogs, they're still Democrats who would vote to keep Pelosi as Speaker. This, as much as anything, has opened up these races. But there are
other issues aiding Republicans as well.
In NC-7, Republicans got an unexpected surprise when conservative Catholic Marine Ilario Pantano entered the race. The GOP had already started backing 2008 nominee Will
Breazeale again in 2010 when Pantano entered the race. Republicans instantly recognized Pantano's strength, and several even negated their endorsement of Breazeale to support
him. McIntyre is also being hurt by liberal Democrats who are taking part in a boycott of his campaign in protest of his vote against Obamacare. Started by students at
UNC-Wilmington, the boycott is refusing to volunteer for his campaign and promising to stay home on Election Day. This angst from the left, coupled with the fact that Pantano has
proven to be an intelligent and inspiring campaigner, gives the GOP an opportunity to pick up this seat for the first time since the Civil War era.
As for NC-11, Shuler has played a role in opening this race up. Instead of settling in as a consistent Blue Dog who has high approval, even among Republicans, Shuler decided to
be proactive. His campaign ran a push poll in the district. The pollster conducting the poll suggested that his GOP opponent Jeff Miller's business was failing because of recent
losses and that he'd soon be closing down. While Miller's business had a tough year due to recession, he had laid off no workers and had no intention to close. Shuler's poll,
designed to undermine Miller's candidacy, backfired instead when workers from Miller's business went to the local media, fearing they'd lose their jobs. Shuler's campaign was forced to
admit they had paid for the poll and were only making assumptions about Miller's business, not working from fact. This instantly dropped Shuler's approval and removed him from any
high ground that he hoped to hold over other endangered "corrupt" Democrats. A poll was conducted the next week by Survey USA which showed that Shuler had fallen well below
50% and into a dead heat with Miller.
Two other districts, NC-2 and NC-4, have recently become competitive as well. These were districts where Republicans made half their 1994 gains in North Carolina, but both
went back to Democrats two years later. In 2000, Democrats had control of redistricting in the
state and made both districts slightly safer for Democrats. Republicans haven't really come close to taking either since. This meant that the NRCC focused no time on candidate
development in either district in 2010. Both races started out with a GOP field of 2008 nominees and a handful of political unknowns.
In NC-2, Renee Ellmers managed a decisive enough victory in the GOP Primary to avoid a run-off. Ellmers, a political newcomer, is a nurse, wife of a doctor and mother.
She was active in grassroots activity against Obamacare and was the strongest candidate in the 2010 GOP field. However, Etheridge has displayed an ability to hold onto this R+2 district. His connections here provide him with friends from both parties, and he seemed safe for re-election. This is likely why he felt comfortable voting for Obamacare this
past spring. But that was the first chink in his armor, and his poll numbers fell below 50%. Then came his angry tirade [caught on YouTube]. This severely eroded his
middle class support in the district, especially among women. Ellmers suddenly looked like the perfect candidate to challenge this bloated lifetime politician and his entitlement
mentality. This race is far from an easy GOP gain, but recent polling and Etheridge's own actions show a him to be very vulnerable in 2010.
Finally, there's NC-4, rated PVI D+8 by Charlie Cook. Incumbent Democrat David Price should be a shoo-in for re-election, but his support of Obamacare and every other bill pushed by
the White House has cost him support among many middle-class Democrats who see Obama's economic policies as an utter failure. Then there's 2008 nominee BJ Lawson. He
started campaigning for 2010 the day after his 2008 loss. In a 4-way GOP primary, which included a strong challenge from Frank Roche, Lawson managed to win solidly enough to avoid a run-off. It's rare that a candidate who lost by 26% returns to pose a stronger challenge to the incumbent two years later, but it's almost certain that BJ Lawson will do just that.
With the Presidential elections the focus of 2008, Lawson was defined by Democrats as a computer company owner from Florida. It went unnoticed that he was also a physician
who had graduated from Duke University Medical School, located in the district, and has lived in North Carolina ever since. This is now well-known and helped him have a strong media
presence during the debate on Obamacare. He published several well-informed and thoughtful op-ed pieces on the subject in local publications. And considering Rep. Price is a
UNC grad, many Duke students and alumni - both Republican and Democrat - have gotten behind Lawson's campaign this time around, hoping to finally have a "Blue Devil congressman."
NC-4 remains the toughest of the 6 CDs for the Republicans to win, but Price is certainly vulnerable. If the "Republican wave" continues to rise while Obama's approval falls, Lawson certainly is capable of picking this seat up for the Republicans.
The information in this post courtesy of
Karl Raszewski, Political Media Strategist
Mike Kelly joins Patrick Meehan and Louis Barletta as Republican challengers now projected to win Democratically-held seats in Pennsylvania. An internal GOP poll taken in late July
puts him 11 points ahead of District 3 incumbent, Kathy Dahlkemper. Even after adjusting for partisanship, that poll is enough to tip the projection in his favor. The switch
gives the Keystone State 3 projected GOP pickups, more than any other state. It also moves the projected seat count in the House to 224 Democrats
(-32) and 211 Republicans (+32) and marks a new high water mark for the GOP here at Election Projection.
Karl, our on-the-ground political reporter, sent me an update from Oregon's fifth district where Democratic incumbent Kurt Schrader is in a competitive contest against GOP
challenger, Scott Bruun.
GOP nominee Scott Bruun's chances of unseating Rep Kurt Schrader just got better. Bruun just won the Oregon Independence Party's Nomination as well. This is even better
than a 3rd party choosing to back a major party candidate as is typically done in other states. In this case, they actually held an online nominating convention with their registered
members. So, he actually has the support of the majority of their voters in the 5th. This will keep a 3rd party candidate out of the race, and if he gets most of their votes in
the general election, it could mean an extra 3% to 6% added to his total.
The information in this post courtesy of
Karl Raszewski, Political Media Strategist
Democratic Congressman Bill Foster's seat has moved back to the Republican side as a result of more GOP-favorable generic polling. This district, Illinois 14, has already gone from
blue to red and back again several times this year and will no doubt change colors many more times between now and November. A true-tossup, this race will likely be too close to call
for the duration. However, The Blogging Caesar refuses to project a toss-up, so ever-changing projections is one thing you and I will have to put up with. It is noteworthy
that this update gives the GOP a projected 31-seat gain in the House, their highest here at Election Projection so far. New House count: 225 Democrats
(-31), 210 Republicans (+31).
Nationally known and respected political pundit, Charlie Cook, posted music to my ears this morning on his website:
"The Cook Political Report’s current outlook is for a 32 to 42 seat net gain for Republicans." With a range topping out over
39 seats, Cook's new outlook becomes the first that I know of to show a possible GOP to takeover of the House. Other political observers - including two from my pundit panel, Larry
Sabato and Stuart Rothenberg - have stated that a GOP takeover could happen, but their projected ranges have not yet eclipsed the 39-seat tipping point. In the latest Election
Projection weekly email update, I pegged the chances of a Republican majority in the House after November's elections at "better than even odds." Slowly but surely, others are
moving in that direction as well.
If you would like to receive weekly newsletters and Rating Change Alerts from Election Projection in your inbox, you can sign up for them here:
A recent poll conducted by Magellen Strategies for
Bobby Schilling, the GOP nominee in Illinois CD-17, puts incumbent Democrat Phil Hare's re-election hopes in dire straits. By 45-32, Schilling is ahead according to the poll. It's
true that the poll was conducted by a candidate's campaign, but the size of the margin has to be alarming to the Hare camp. Jim Geraghty puts the partisan nature of the poll in
If you're a skeptic of campaign-commissioned polls, fine. But note that the unemployment rate in Illinois is 10.4 percent (it was 10.8 percent last month), the state is sick of the machine politics that put Rod Blagojevich in place, and the national mood is frustrated and angry. Just how unlikely is it that Phil Hare would be in trouble?
Even if this poll overstates Schilling’s support by 10 percentage points ... he’s still ahead.
What remains to be seen is how soon it will be before the pundits change their ratings. At the moment, all four on my pundit panel regard this race as a safe bet for the
Democrat. Unfortunately, since pundit ratings are the determining factor of whether I track a House race, I cannot add it to the tracking list here at Election Projection just
yet. That said, this poll should be a precursor to pundit re-evaluations. It may not be tracked on Election Projection today, but I have a strong hunch IL-17 will be soon.
Robert Bentley has defeated Bradley Byrne tonight to win the Alabama GOP nomination for governor. He'll go on to face Democrat Ron Sparks, winner of the June 1
gubernatorial primary. Current Alabama governor, Bob Riley, a Republican, is term-limited this fall. In other races, the 7th District will feature Republican Don Chamberlain
in a Democratic open seat race against favored Terri Sewell, and Martha Roby is the GOP nominee in District 2. Roby will be trying to unseat Democrat Bobby Bright in a
highly-competitive House race. Election Projection's current numbers give Republicans the edge in the governor's race and in the 2nd District. Bentley's race should be much
easier to win than Roby's challenge against Bright, however. Tracking for both these races has been initiated on the
Alabama state page.
I had previously and incorrectly noted William Barnes as Robert Bentley's Democratic opponent. Barnes is, in fact, running against Senator Richard Shelby.
For months now, I have received emails from my liberal reader friends deriding and disqualifying poll results published by Rasmussen Reports. I have addressed their claims
in this space before. However, though Rasmussen
was about the only polling firm I could find trying to determine who is going to vote in November - not just who is registered - I continued to get emails trashing them as Republican hacks.
Recently, other polling firms have begun to release polls testing their version of "likely voters." And guess what? They happen to produce results depicting the same
kind of movement toward the GOP that Rasmussen has been highlighting all along. Specifically, today's poll out of California
conducted by SurveyUSA shows the Republican nominee
winning both the Senate and gubernatorial races. Now, truth be known, SurveyUSA has also been accused from time to time of driving a Republican election narrative.
But, indications of a red wave among likely voters have spread to the ranks of self-defined Democratic pollsters. Witness a generic congressional test
published late last month by James Carville's
Democracy Corps. In that poll, the generic Republican candidate outpaced the generic Democrat by a 6-point clip. Ironically, the Rasmussen measure of that same test
released about the same time showed the
same 6-point GOP lead. It is hard to discount
Rasmussen when even a partisan Democratic poll reaches the exact conclusion on this important gauge of voter sentiment.
Polls like these won't be the last to echo Rasmussen between now and November. As I said in my earlier post, the more pollsters honestly try to figure out who the voters will be
on Election Day, the more their polls will migrate to Rasmussen's results - not vice-versa.
Rather than updating the House generic poll adjustment with each generic congressional poll released, I have decided to periodically update it. Until the fall, probably mid-September,
I'll be calculating a new adjustment every two weeks. After that, I'll figure a new one each week until the election. For information on how this adjustment is calculated,
see EP methodology for the House formula definition and example usage.
A big change in the adjustment impacts the latest House projections, and the impact favors the GOP. With an average lead by the generic Republican candidate increasing to
2.3%, the adjustment grows from 0.3 points to 1.1. That's enough to push four more seats over to the red column in today's projections. They include AL-2, ID-1, IL-14 and
WV-1. These newly-rosy districts move the overall House projection to 226 Democrats and 205 Republicans. At 30,
the net seat gain is at a highwater mark so far this cycle for the GOP. Still, they would need 9 more to capture the majority in the House.
Here's the second installment of a new "On the ground" segment here on Election Projection. Karl Raszewski brings this edition from Kansas. He's been watching the events
in Republican Lynn Jenkin's 2nd district where a rare 2010 Democratic pickup opportunity may rest in the hands of Republican primary voters.
Keep an eye on KS-2. I'm told that State Senator Dennis Pyle is ahead of Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins in 2 recent internal
polls. If Pyle does unseat Rep. Jenkins, which seems at least a 50/50 shot, then he'll certainly be favored to keep this seat in GOP hands this fall given that the unrest against Obama
and the Democrats in Washington runs higher in Kansas than in many other states.
However, if Jenkins narrowly survives, this seat could become ripe for Democratic picking. A very serious DEM candidate, Sean Tevis, just announced his run for this seat last
week. Sean Tevis even made claims that he was urged to run by Van Hollen & other Democrats in DC, despite being unpopular with many in Kansas Democratic Party.
Tevis is an expert at internet marketing & fundraising, and while he lost the Democratic primary for Kansas legislature in 2008, he raised 8 times the funds of the incumbent Democrat for
While KS-2 is R+9 & this is a "Republican Year," Jenkins could still be very vulnerable to Tevis. Republican voters in KS-2 had no problem voting for Democrat Nancy Boyda in
2006 to get rid of Jim Ryun when his "connections" to Foley became an issue. And Jenkins is a polarizing figure which will make it harder for her to hold on to this urban/suburban
districts. In addition, Jenkins was badly hurt when her camp filed ethics complaints against Pyle last month for using funds raised for his Senate campaign to travel to DC. She
claimed that he went there exclusively to gauge support for a run against her. However, Pyle was found innocent, and now Jenkins is looking more like a "litigious liberal" to many
conservatives in Kansas.
If Pyle unseats Jenkins in the primary, I'd put his chances at victory in November at 10 to 1, but if Jenkins squeaks through, I'd say Tevis has a 1 in 3 shot at unseating her.
Tevis does have a primary of his own, but his likely money advantage should give him an easy victory there. One other issue that might hinder Tevis: he doesn't currently live in KS-2. But, he has lived there in the past and is supposely shopping for a home there now.
The information in this post courtesy of
Karl Raszewski, Political Media Strategist
Larry Sabato, one of my pundit panel for projecting House races, published updated ratings yesterday. The changes include 5 races which moved toward the GOP and 1 which moved
toward the Democrats. Also, CQ Politics, a second pundit panel member, changed their rating of the Idaho CD-1 race from Toss-up to Lean DEM. As a result of these updates,
the projected tally in the House remains unchanged. Idaho's new rating of Weak DEM Hold offsets Florida CD-8's flip to
Weak GOP Gain. Overall, projected GOP takeovers remain at 29 seats against just 3 projected DEM takeovers. Those numbers may very
well change drastically in the coming days, however, as Republican advantages in generic congressional polls are becoming more widespread. On top of that, Stuart Rothenberg will
be posting a new slate of House rating updates in a few days, and Charlie Cook, after posting an article entitled, "Hurricane GOP on the way," will probably be updating his soon as well.
The race between Democratic incumbent Bob Etheridge and Republican Renee Ellmers in North Carolina's 2nd district has garnered national attention thanks to Etheridge's
taped outburst on a Washington D.C. sidewalk.
It also has personal significance for me. An interview I had with Ellmers was my very first, and my friend and distant cousin, Lorie Byrd works with her campaign. Not long after Etheridge's tantrum, Jim Geraghty asked
me to look at Ellmers' chances against Etheridge for an article he was writing on the race.
One startling item that I uncovered in my research was an internal PAC poll taken in late May which showed Ellmers just 5 points behind the
incumbent. Mind you, this poll was taken before Etheridge's now-famous scuffle. I went on to provide Geraghty with a lot more information, but that poll stuck in
my mind. I began to wonder in how many other districts across the country this same scenario is playing out. Could it be that there are more, perhaps many more,
districts where Democratic incumbents believe they sit in relative security - while the red wave of 2010 threatens to make landfall on their own turf?
For sure, we have precedent of this kind of phenomenon. We need look no further than another district in North Carolina 16 years ago. That year, 1994, David Price lost to Fred
Heineman even though he has routinely earned over 60% of the district's vote both before and after that upset. But looking to the less-distant past, I found more eye-opening data
that help put the potential GOP performance this November in better perspective.
George W. Bush's second mid-terms in 2006 were no doubt a blue wave election, but they hardly matched the red tsunami we saw in 1994. Yet, entrenched GOP
incumbents fell like flies that year. No less than 10 sitting Republicans who got 60% or more of the vote in 2004 failed to win re-election in 2006. In New York, two incumbents,
Sue Kelly and John Sweeney, lost that year despite having garnered 67% and 66%, respectively, two years earlier.
The moral of the story? Just because Democratic incumbents might have cruised to victory in 2008 doesn't mean a return trip is already booked.
The second moral? Given recent electoral history, gains far outpacing the 39 net seats needed for a GOP majority in the House are on the table. Consider that fully 60
Democratic congressmen and women earned their term in Washington on 59% or less of the vote. Consider also that many more who earned better than 60% are in varying degrees
of peril - Pomeroy in North Dakota, Herseth-Sandlin in South Dakota, Skelton in Missouri and Etheridge to name a few. And consider finally several seats in which landslide Democratic
winners in 2008 are not seeking re-election (MI-1, TN-6, TN-8 and WI-7 for example). If you honestly consider all these factors, it is not hard to envision a pretty sizable tidal wave
crashing through the current House majority on November 2.
Hurricane GOP On The Way
Make no mistake about it: There is a wave out there, and for Democrats, the House is, at best, teetering on the edge.
What's got the guru all animated? Following on the heels of a devastating NPR poll that
I looked at last month there is another
equally damaging poll for the Democrats.
Cook points to some great numbers for the GOP in this NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
Hart and McInturff ... looked at the change among the most-interested voters from the same survey in 2008. Although 2010 is a "down-shifting" election, from a high-turnout presidential year to a lower-turnout midterm year, one group was more interested in November than it was in 2008: those who had voted for Republican John McCain for
president. And the groups that showed the largest decline in interest? Those who voted for Barack Obama - liberals, African-Americans, self-described Democrats, moderates,
those living in either the Northeast or West, and younger voters 18 to 34 years of age. These are the "Holy Mackerel" numbers.
Among all voters, there has been a significant swing since 2008 when Democrats took their new majority won in 2006 to an even higher level. But when you home in on those
people in this survey who are most likely to vote, the numbers are devastating. The NBC/WSJ survey, when combined with a previously released NPR study of likely voters in 70
competitive House districts by Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg and Republican Glen Bolger, point to an outcome for Democrats that is as serious as a heart attack.
I'm having much more fun prognosticating this election than I had during the last two. Add to the House situation what I described in my weekly email update concerning the Senate...
Eight seats are projected to swing from blue to red with only one swinging the opposite direction. A Senate majority is actually not that far away. If the GOP can win the
eight seats they are currently projected to and hold onto Ohio, then just two upsets would push them over the top. Washington seems to close to even money, and California and
Wisconsin could be within grasp if the red wave meets expectations.
... and the picture gets even rosier. Of course, there are still many news cycles between now and November, and political momentum sometimes seems capable of turning on a
dime. However, like the basketball team up 3 points on defense at the end of the game, I'd rather be rooting for the red guys than not right now.
If you would like to receive weekly updates and rating change email alerts, you can sign up for them here.
Generic congressional polling from Rasmussen and Gallup has moved slightly toward the Democrats, resulting in a smaller House projection adjustment. The reduction in that
adjustment affects all tracked House race margins. In three cases, the change is enough to shift the projection from red to blue. Alabama CD-2, Florida CD-8 and West Virginia
CD-1 are all back in the Democratic fold after today's projection update. The projected GOP net gain in the House now stands at 24 seats. The new projected count is
232 Democrats and 203 Republicans.
I have updated the ranking of most vulnerable seats in the Senate,
House and the nation's
statehouses. Moving up the Senate list is the seat in Florida where Republican
Governor Charlie Crist is making a strong independent bid. That seat moves from 15th to 9th.
The House rankings did not move much this update. North Dakota's Earl Pomeroy (D) saw his vulnerability rise the most. His seat is rated the 25th most vulnerable
today, rising 5 spots from 30th. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin of South Dakota enters the list for the first time at 30th place.
The big move in the gubernatorial rankings are the rankings themselves. No longer can all vulnerable governor's races be contained in 20 slots. Therefore, this edition has
expanded to 25. As a result, several new races made the list. Debuting all the way up at 12th is the open statehouse race in New Mexico. Two other newcomers,
Maryland and Maine, enter the rankings at 18th and 23rd, respectively. One big tumble on this list to report. The statehouse in Vermont seems much more likely to remain in
Republican hands in light of recent polling. That race falls 10 spots from 6th to 16th.
Recently, I began receiving emails from a reader with tons of timely and relevant information from various races around the country. After absorbing all that good political stuff for
several weeks, I thought that it would be good to share his insights and "on-the-ground" perspectives with the rest of Election Projection's readers. I discussed the idea with him, and
he agreed. So today, I present the first edition of a new segment here on EP featuring his latest note on the GOP primary situation in New York.
There have been some major developments in June throughout most of NY Congressional Races. The NYGOP has very actively - with quite a bit of success - sought to narrow the field
to 1 GOP candidate in any race where the party has even a slim chance of victory in November. When that wasn't possible, they worked on removing the minor candidates who could
take votes away from their favorites.
This is a summary of all notes about candidates, endorsements & recent events in NY US House races.
NY-1: NARROWED FIELD. The NYGOP has worked hard to widdle down the number of qualified candidates in this race. As you already know, Gary Berntsen left
this race to be the NYGOP's nominee for US Senate vs Chuck Schumer (according to some, they knew Schumer Race was lost cause, and got Berntsen to transfer to that race, not to win the
Senate Race, but to get him out of NY-1 because he wasn't strong enough in the Genera. Also candidate Chris Cox is NYGOP Chairman Cox's son, a major issue being discussed in the
district). He is not the only NY-1 GOP primary candidate that was convinced to move on. 2008 NY-1 nominee Lee Zeldin, who had continually campaigned for this race since his
narrow loss in 2008, dropped out to run for NY State Senate District 3, after being promised all the funds he'll need to win that race. Mike Fitzpatrick was asked to step out &
focus on his next re-election to State Legislature because if he won the congressional primary he'd have to step down & the Dems could take that seat. Cantwell is now running in
November as the Libertarian candidate, which supposedly has a ballot line in NY-1 (despite not having a statewide race line). And Blank has just dropped out from a lack of support
& dollars. The GOP primary race is now down to CHRIS COX, RANDY ALTSCHULER & GEORGE DEMOS. The Party wants Altschuler, not just because he has raised far
more money than Rep. Bishop, but because he has the Conservative Party endorsement. So, if one of the other 2 win, Altschuler could still be on fall ballot taking votes. The
Ron-Paul-alligned Tea Party crowd wants Cox, and a few claim Altschuler is a "Zionist Plant." Demos just wants those 2 to take each other out & leave him standing with the GOP
NY-19: NO MORE GOP PRIMARY. Assemblyman Greg Ball has bowed out to run for State Sen & Kristi Cavere joined him after Nan Hayworth won the GOP endorsement at the NY-19 Convention. Neil Di Carlo, who came in 4th and only received 3% support vows to get on primary ballot, but that's highly unlikely to happen. This is
an R+3 district, and Rep John Hall only has approval in the low 30's. Many are calling this race for GOP already. However, there is one snag - the Conservative Party hasn't
endorsed Hayworth because she's pro-choice, and they still have the right to enter their own candidate. If they do that, it will destroy her chance to win. What most think will happen is that they'll pass on endorsing Nan, but also stay out of race seeing a good opportunity for the GOP to gain a seat in Congress with a pro-defense fiscal conservative.
NY-20: NO GOP PRIMARY NOW. The NYGOP just endorsed Chris Gibson on Monday, and Harper, Stec & Ziegler have respected the choice, stepped out of the race, and
joined Gibson at his news conference, united behind him.
NY-23: CONSERVATIVE vs NYGOP BATTLE RAGES AGAIN. The problems that gave this Republican leaning district to Bill Owens in last year's Special Election may again be
brewing. All of the district's Republican parties have endorsed Matt Doheny for NY-23. However, the Conservative Party has again endorsed Doug Hoffman. There are
some differences this time though. Hoffman is actually running in the GOP Primary this time, so he has the potential to unite the nominations rather than just run against the GOP/Dem
on the Conservative Line. This decision has gotten him the support of a number of conservative Republicans in Congress. Last Thursday, Rep Mike Pence & Rep Tom Cole
hosted a fundraiser for Hoffman in DC. The other difference is that Doheny, unlike Scozzafava, is a conservative, which is why the Club for Growth - who were instrumental in getting
Dede out of the Special Election race - have decided to stay out of the primary in 2010. From what I hear, Pence & GOP conservatives in Congress like Doheny just fine.
But, since Hoffman already has Conservative Line & can run in the General even if he loses GOP Primary, they prefer to see a united nominee. If Hoffman wins the primary, the
parties will be united, but some Republicans will likely refuse to vote for him. However, if Doheny wins Primary, Hoffman will take votes away in the General unless he (or Conservative
Chairman Mike Long) does the right thing and chooses to step aside and unite their line with GOP. Hoffman hasn't committed absolutely yet as to what he'll do if he loses the GOP primary. It looks like Rep Bill Owens won't be able to get past low 40%s in the General, but depending on what happens w Hoffman & Doheny, that could be enough to win re-election
NY-24: NO MORE GOP PRIMARY. Logan Bell has left the race, so Richard Hanna is GOP nominee to take on Arcuri in November. NY-24 is a working class district,
with one of the lowest median incomes of anywhere Republicans are competitive. It is the type of district Dems have successfully picked-off in past 2 congressional elections.
However, it is also 91% white, and it has been one of the places where voters have rallied against Washington spending & the Healthcare Bill. Arcuri is actually one of the few
Blue Dogs whose votes match the moderate rhetoric of that committee. He's 1 of only 3 members of Congress who votes exactly 50% liberal & 50% conservative. Arcuri
famously switched to voting NO on Obamacare a day after declaring it was a bill he believed needed to be passed. It would have killed his chances to win enough votes had he voted
Yes on Obamacare, but to most in the district, his vote was pure political strategy. They believe he would have voted for it had Pelosi needed him. And while Arcuri gets to run
against the same candidate he defeated in 2008, he won't have the "Obama-bounce" this time around. Worse yet for Arcuri, Hanna has no primary and has raised 4 times the money
that Arcuri has since they last met. Most notably, 90%+ of Hanna's donations have come from within the district, while only 10% of Arcuri's money for his 2010 run has come from
NY-24. Arcuri, like many freshman and sophmore Dems who voted against Obamacare, has lost all of his previous liberal DC PAC support. He'll need that to gain a victory in
this kind of toss-up district. This race is looking more and more like a slam dunk for Hanna.
NY-25: NO MORE GOP PRIMARY. Paul Bertan and Mark Bitz exited race at party request. Ann Buerkle is the GOP NOMINEE to take on Dan Maffei. State
party is saying a recent poll had Buerkle leading Maffei 48% to 41%.
NY-27: NO MORE GOP PRIMARY. Leonard Roberto received the Conservative and GOP endorsements, so Paul Ritacco exited the race and endorsed Roberto.
This race isn't getting the coverage that other NY districts are, but it is within the GOP's range to win this race. Rep Higgins has low approval ratings, and this district make-up is similar to those that Republicans are finding success in this year.
NY-28: It's starting to look like Rep Louise Slaughter could be one of the incumbents thrown out in her Party Primary this year. Eddie Egriu has won several recent polls
against her. In recent years, Slaughter has become known as "a Leftwing loon" in her district, and with her votes on many recent bills, much of her district believes she has
overstayed her welcome in Congress. One of the issues which has put money behind her opponent is her foreign policy actions. Meetings she had with members of the Islamic
Brotherhood, a trip she took to Syria in several years ago and her recent comments against Israel have turned many Jewish Democrats against her. Much of the money supporting
Egriu has actually come from NYC rather than Buffalo, but he's got the endorsement of local and state Democrat politicians and has an army of volunteers.
The information in this post courtesy of Karl Raszewski, Political Media Strategist R.P.C.Strategies@aol.com
I've been worried so far this year by the projected House tally produced by my
House projection formula. I know I'm going to take a lot of flack for this from my
plentiful liberal readers, but I have updated that formula to bring Election Projection's House projection in line with the very pundits I use to calculate it. The changes will
be posted as a part of my daily poll update for tomorrow. As a result of the change, EP will show several new GOP takeovers in the House. To my liberal friends, don't worry
too much, the Democrats will still be projected to retain control.
The John W. Pope Civitas Institute just released a flash poll conducted by SurveyUSA after Bob Etheridge's taped blowup surfaced on YouTube. The results are quite promising for
the Republican challenger, Renee Ellmers - she has moved into a
statistical tie with the Democratic incumbent. 39% of
respondents say they plan to vote for her against just 38% preferring Etheridge. This race is sure rise up the vulnerability charts and probably will end up shortly on my House race
Until now, I have been worried that the GOP may not realize the potential gains in Congress that appear to be there for the taking. Sure, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are disliked by the
voting public. Their approval ratings are dismal. But, then I look at the approval ratings of Mitch McConnell and John Boehner. Theirs are much worse. Polling
is all over the place. And sometimes I fear the Tea Party movement is overreaching (e.g.: Sharron Angle) and providing the liberal media with plentiful ammunition to paint the GOP as
way too radical for mainstream America.
Until now, that is.
I feel quite a bit differently today after stumbling across the most important and telling poll I've seen in this
cycle. The poll tests the 60 Democratic and 10 Republican House seats deemed to be the most vulnerable. The findings are nothing short of remarkable. From the
top line numbers to the in depth analysis, the survey reveals an overwhelming red wave barreling its way toward November 2nd.
I'm going to evaluate and respond to several aspects of the poll's results, but before that, I want to let the Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner react to their own
work. (Actually, they collaborated with a Republican counterpart, Public Opinion Strategies, in conducting the poll.) Here's part of what GQR
had to say.
The results are a wake-up call for Democrats whose losses in the House could well exceed 30 seats. In the named-congressional ballot in the 60 Democratic districts, Democrats trail
their Republican opponent, 42 to 47 percent, with only a third saying they want to vote to re-elect their member. In the top tier of 30 most competitive seats, the Democratic
candidate trails by 9 points (39 to 48 percent) and by 2 points in the next tier of 30 seats (45 to 47 percent). On the other hand, the Republican candidates are running well ahead in
their most competitive seats (53 to 37 percent).
With an aggregate 9-point deficit, the Democrats will be hard-pressed not to lose 90% or more of their thirty most vulnerable seats. Among the second tier 30, a 2-point GOP lead
would translate to roughly 16 seats or so more. That's 27 and 16. Forty-three. On the Republican side, these numbers indicate that truly vulnerable GOP seats are
practically non-existent. Looking at individual Republican seats, however, it's clear that a couple are very likely to end up in the Democratic column after Election Day. So,
we'll subtract three from the takeover count. That leaves a 40-seat net gain for Republicans. It also adds up to a GOP majority, folks.
But there's more to be happy in this survey if you like red political maps. Again, from GQR's own analysis.
62 percent of Republicans in Democratic districts describe themselves as very enthusiastic about the upcoming election. That compares with 37 percent of Democrats in those same
This is more compelling evidence that polls measuring registered voters are missing the true picture - badly. A twenty-five point enthusiasm gap is monumental. It will prove to
be much too much for many a Democratic incumbent to overcome.
But the good news doesn't end there. Beyond an enthusiasm gap, these Democratic districts are witnessing a mass exodus from Democratic candidates. In 2008,
survey respondents in blue districts voted for the Democratic congressional candidate by double-digit margins in both Tier 1 (48-37%) and Tier 2 (50-35%) races. Computing the
difference between those numbers and the poll's findings for 2010, Republicans enjoy 20-point and 17-point improvements in Tier 1 and Tier 2 districts, respectively.
So what's driving this enthusiasm, and is it sustainable? According to Talking Points Memo's
analysis of the survey, unless Democrats change their narrative on the issues or succeed
in winning back voters to their way of thinking, these numbers are not likely to change in their favor. Republicans win hands down not just as un-Democrats, but as better alternatives on the issues.
The poll of 60 Dem-held districts and 10 GOP-held districts found voters across the board favoring Republican candidates on the generic ballot tests, as well as agreeing more with Republican
messages on the economy, health care and other issues.
These findings are remarkable not just for the rosy picture they paint for Republicans in November, but also in the depth of distaste voters have for the policies of the current administration
and its cohorts on Capitol Hill. With less than 5 month's to go until the first tangible referendum on Obama's presidency, signs point unmistakably to a fundamental and substantial shift
toward the GOP and more conservative policies. Job approval of sitting incumbents in these districts further illustrates that the mood out there is anti-Democrat, not so much
anti-incumbent. Those approving of their congressman's performance in Democrat-held districts are just 40% with 38% disapproving. In Republican-held areas, voter approval
of the incumbent is 22% greater than voter disapproval (54% to 32%). That hardly fits an anti-incumbent message.
Clearly, after experiencing the effects of complete Democratic control in Washington for the last 18 months, voters seem eager to give Republicans another chance in 2010.
Most political observers on both sides of the aisle see a Republican wave coming in November. History says the party in control of the White House generally loses seats in the
president's first mid-term elections. And Republicans are polling well in races across the country. All signs point to more GOP seats in both chambers of Congress come
January. However, the number of seats the GOP stands to gain is anybody's guess.
Judging from the surveys most polling firms are releasing, the red wave will be noticeable but not tsunami-like. Senate seats in North Dakota, Arkansas and Indiana and House
seats in Ohio (1st & 15th), Tennessee (6th), New York (29th) and Louisiana (3rd) appear headed to the red column. Others will follow, but trying to identify which ones and
how many depends largely on whose polls you read.
If Rasmussen is your standard-bearer, you are getting ready for a red tsunami as big as we've seen, perhaps topping 1994's
historic Republican landslide. Just today, Rasmussen Reports released a congressional test giving the generic Republican candidate a massive 10-point lead over the generic
Democrat. If that is true, look out in November! On the other hand, other polling firms show the generic test about even with the generic Democrat perhaps enjoying a slight
advantage. These results would produce a status-quo election in which only a few net seats flip.
Before you deride Scott Rasmussen for being a Republican hack - as many who have written me have done - there is an important distinction to draw between his results and most
of the rest. From Fox News to Gallup, from Public Policy Polling to ABC News, the majority of survey takers simply poll registered voters. Rasmussen makes an effort
to model who will actually vote on Election Day and uses only likely voters to determine his numbers. That's how he consistently releases polls in which the Republican in any
given race performs much better than in everybody else's.
It is important to note here that Republicans are the ones benefiting from a likely voter model. This reflects another important polling fact which has been confirmed by firms
other than Rasmussen - survey participants who say they are "highly motivated" to vote favor Republican candidates, sometimes by huge margins. Case in point: in a Gallup survey
released last month, 45% of self-described conservatives were "very enthusiastic" about voting, compared to just 26% of liberals who felt that way. If the electorate in November is comprised of proportions similar to these enthusiastic voters,
Democrats almost everywhere are in trouble.
Therein lies one of the biggest unknowns surrounding President Obama's first mid-terms - who will get out and vote. If Rasmussen's model is right, Republicans will far
outnumber Democrats in voting lines on November 2nd. But more than that, even he could be underestimating the GOP advantage if the likely voter model implied by Gallup's
enthusiasm gap rules the day. However, it is also entirely possible that voter fervor will even out some between now and then, and more moderate Democratic losses will be the
In Election Projection's view, a compromise between Rasmussen's rosy Republican picture and the status quo of registered voter surveys is a safer bet. That's why I am
content to incorporate both polling perspectives into my formula's calculations. Some of
Rasmussen's detractors have predicted to me that his numbers will slowly begin to move toward the others as the election nears. I tend to believe the opposite. As other
polling firms begin to model likely voters in their election tests, they will, in fact, to move toward Rasmussen.
Let's consider the House as I explain why. Normally, a sitting president stands to lose a substantial number of seats in the lower chamber. Yet, given the generic
congressional tests I've seen from most everyone other than Rasmussen, Obama looks to be set to break even this year. That's the kind of mid-term election a popular president in a
positive political climate might expect.
But neither is true this year. Far from it. Voter anger and disillusion with the powers in charge in Washington are extensive and
strong. Only Rasmussen's polling - and some polls coming from SurveyUSA - seem to acknowledge any measure of unrest at all among voters. Unless others start noticing
what's going on out there and attempt to identify those among the registered who will indeed cast ballots, they - not Rasmussen - will wipe the egg from the face on November 3rd.
I interviewed Renee Ellmers. She's the
GOP nominee running against Democrat Bob Etheridge in North Carolina's 2nd District. I'm a big fan of Ms. Ellmers and her stances on limited government and personal
responsibility. I'm rooting hard for her to defeat Mr. Etheridge and his lock step support of the Obama/Reid/Pelosi triumvirate.
Apparently, though, it is more than his ideology that puts him at odds with me and most of his constituents. A video on YouTube reveals that he also harbors an elitest abrasive
streak. You really need to watch this clip of the congressman's interaction with students on a Washington DC
sidewalk. We can do better than that. We need to defeat Bob Etheridge.
Today, 11 states are picking party nominees for a variety of races across the country. The headliners come from Nevada, where we'll see if Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle can
take the GOP nomination for Senate, and Arkansas, where a runoff will decide if Blanche Lincoln, the incumbent Democratic senator, will move on to the general election to defend her seat
against Republican John Boozman. I'm rooting for Danny Tarkanian in Nevada - because I really want Harry Reid to lose. Angle may be a good conservative, but I fear she'll
be a good conservative defeated in November if she wins today.
Here are the states conducting primary or runoff elections today and their poll closing times.
Arkansas 8:30 pm EDT
California 11:00 pm EDT
Iowa 10:00 pm EDT
Maine 8:00 pm EDT
Montana 10:00 pm EDT
North Dakota 8:00 pm EDT
New Jersey 8:00 pm EDT
Nevada 10:00 pm EDT
South Carolina 7:00 pm EDT
South Dakota 8:00 pm EDT
Virginia 7:00 pm EDT
You can click here to watch the returns as they come in this evening. And don't forget to come back to Election Projection often
to track the projected winners of all Senate,
gubernatorial races nationwide.
A few days ago, Larry Sabato published his May House race ratings update. Unlike some of the previous large updates from my pundit panel, his was a mixed bag of pro-GOP and
pro-Democrat changes. One pro-GOP change resulted in a new projected pick-up. MI-1, the seat Bart Stupak is leaving at the end of this term, is in the red column as of
this morning's update. That switch brings the projected GOP takeovers in the House to a net 22 and moves the balance of power to 234 Democrats and
Rasmussen Reports has consistently released congressional generic surveys showing Republicans leading by a significant margin. But, Rasmussen's numbers have also been called into
question because they routinely show Republicans faring much better than other polling firms do in races across the country. Today, however, Rasmussen has some company, at
least in the generic House test.
Enter Gallup: When participants in their latest survey were asked for whom they are more likely to vote in their House district, the generic Republican candidate earned the nod
from 49% while just 43% favor the generic Democrat. That 6-point lead is the largest enjoyed by the GOP over the last 3 months as reported on
Gallup's website. This could be an outlier, to be sure, but the result cannot be
ignored. And if next week's numbers match this week's, the coming red wave, which has seemed to be waning of late, may be roaring back.
Update: It turns out that Gallup's result is the largest margin
ever attained by the GOP in the generic ballot test.
I'm very excited about the opportunity I had to interview Republican Renee Ellmers. She is the GOP nominee challenging incumbent Democrat Bob Etheridge
in North Carolina's 2nd District. While some would call her a longshot to win here, this is exactly the kind of race that can be won if the right kind of
Republican wave makes political landfall on November 2.
EP: Earlier this year, Club for Growth released their scorecard for 2009 which measures fiscal responsibility among lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Your opponent, Bob Etheridge achieved a 6% score. If elected, how important would it be for you to rate higher on that scale and how would your fiscal policy
decisions differ from Mr. Etheridge?
Ms. Ellmers: Well, if I don’t score higher than 6%, I’ll give up and come home. My philosophy is conservative and "Fiscal Conservatism" is more
than just a label to me. Congressman Etheridge refers to himself as a "Fiscally Conservative Democrat," but I’ve yet to see that reflected in his voting
record. My goal will be to decrease spending, lower taxes (to stimulate job growth in the short-term), and then work toward comprehensive tax reform such as the
Fair Tax. These policies – plus decreasing regulations on small businesses – will create jobs.
EP: You are a nurse by vocation and your husband is a doctor. Talk for a moment about how you believe the health care bill passed by Congress
will affect American families in general and health care providers, like you and your husband, specifically.
Ms. Ellmers: Let me start out by saying that Nancy Pelosi and company forcing the healthcare bill through Congress may be the most detrimental piece of
legislation to affect our country ever. If elected I am going to work tirelessly to defund, dismantle and eventually repeal the bill.
American families and businesses will be affected by Obama-care starting January 1, 2011, when Obama-care tax increases start. All citizens will be affected
with an increase to the national debt.
Also, I am sad to say that the passage of the healthcare bill has already had a negative effect on physician practices. In our area of North Carolina we have
seen one outstanding specialist retire early; a bright, young primary care physician relocate; multiple practices have experienced drops in volume and revenue; and a
few have sent out notifications to patients that they will no longer be taking Medicare.
The long and the short of it is if these trends continue there will be irreparable harm to the quality of healthcare in America.
EP: That's why I believe we need folks like you in Washington - and the sooner the better! Let's move to another hot button issue. The
immigration law passed recently in Arizona has caused quite an uproar across the nation. It has been interesting to me to hear the mischaracterizations of the
law among Democrats who, in many cases, haven't even read it. What do you think this says about the attitude of Democratic leadership toward the issue of illegal
Ms. Ellmers: I think the Democrats best illustrated their attitudes about illegal immigration when they all stood up in Congress to applaud Mexican
President Calderon when he stated that he was against the Arizona immigration bill. Who's country do they represent?
I support Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. I think she has shown rare courage. And the kind of leadership we have not seen in a long time. The
federal government has not enforced the immigration laws – literally leaving Arizona no choice but to pass and enforce their own, which states have the right to do
under the 10th Amendment. But I think the Obama administration will continue to perpetuate distortions in the hope that they can intimidate Arizona into backing
EP: Judging from the things I've heard from Governor Brewer, I don't see that happening. Now, few would argue that illegal immigration is a
national security concern. Along those same lines, would you discuss your impressions of President Obama's foreign policy as it relates to radical Islamic
terrorism? How would you advise the Obama administration to approach the issue of keeping Americans safe against this ongoing threat?
Ms. Ellmers: The first step is simple: President Obama has to recognize – and tell the American people – he understands radical Islamic terrorism
does exist. He also has to understand that our country is great because of our American exceptionalism – and not arrogance. His repeated apologetic remarks
regarding America to other nations, both ally and enemy, must end and be replaced with a message of strength. I would also advise President Obama to step-up
support for our military and discuss military strategies focused on success rather than exit dates.
EP: Sounds like the right strategy to me! Ok, let's talk a little about the upcoming elections. Tuesday night, we watched Rand Paul, an
open and enthusiastic voice of the Tea Party movement, win by a huge margin over an establishment Republican in the Senate primary in Kentucky. How do you view
the Tea Party movement and what do you expect its impact in November will be?
Ms. Ellmers: I am a big fan of the Tea Party movement. In fact, it was the Tea Party and Healthcare rallies that got me motivated to start
speaking out. Which led to my running for Congress. I attended Tea Parties here in the Raleigh area, and my husband and I got involved with Americans for
Prosperity's "Hands Off My Heathcare" Tour.
I think the Tea Party will have a significant effect on the November elections. If it doesn’t we’re in trouble.
EP: During the 1994 Republican surge that won over fifty seats in the House, Fred Heineman won against Democrat David Price over in the 4th district
in an upset no one saw coming. Right now, your race with Etheridge is not on the national radar. Do you see similarities between this year's political
climate and 1994?
Ms. Ellmers: I do. The 1994 election was voters saying no to Clinton’s march to the left after being elected in 1992. Obama has gone much
further left than even Clinton. A lot of my district is rural, and small town voters – in both parties – are upset about the direction of the country. My
race is not on the national radar because we just finished the Primary and because it’s standard political wisdom incumbents like Congressman Etheridge are tough to
unseat. But 1994 showed that can be wrong and this election in November could be 1994 on Steroids! The American people have shown over the last year that
they have had ENOUGH politics as usual and want to STOP the direction our great country is headed in under Obama and Pelosi.
EP: 1994 on steroids - I like that. Ok, in conclusion, let me open the floor for you to take a moment to share a bit of what you want voters of
the 2nd District to know about you and why you are the right person to represent them in Congress next year.
Ms. Ellmers: I am a nurse, wife and a mom. I believe that we are "...One Nation Under God..." and that our Constitution was divinely inspired and is
as relevant today as it was when it was written by our Founding Fathers.
Like every person in the 2nd District who has watched our president "fundamentally transform" our great country, I am concerned for our children’s – my son’s –
future. I am not a politician, have never wanted to be and hope I never will be. But I am deeply concerned, and I will not stand by and watch my son's
future sacrificed at the altar of "social justice" through a series of manipulations masked as "reforms" for the end purpose of mass redistribution of wealth.
My personal beliefs are simple: Less government; lower taxes; strong national defense. I am a fiscal and social conservative. I believe that
prosperity and success come from each of us when we work hard to achieve, not from a government handout.
In Washington, my opponent Congressman Bob Etheridge votes with Nancy Pelosi 97% of the time and has shown that he will continue to do so despite what the citizens
of District 2 think. He voted for the Healthcare Bill, Cap and Trade, Death Tax, Stimulus, TARP and is a proponent of Card Check. I have spoken to thousands
of voters who have told me "Bob Etheridge has sold us out." And I agree. I wouldn’t be a candidate for Congress if I didn’t.
EP: Amen to that! Ms. Ellmers, thank you so much for taking the time for this interview. I for one - and by no means the only one - am rooting for you
to represent North Carolinians in the 2nd district in Congress come next January. Best to you and your family.
Ms. Ellmers: Thank you, Scott, for your thoughtful questions and your support. I am grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts and vision for our great
country and look forward to the months ahead.
Please click here for a video message from Ms. Ellmers. And then visit
her website to offer your support.
By a 40 to 31 to 28 margin, Republican Charles Djou has won yesterday's special election to replace Democrat Neil Abercrombie in Hawaii's 1st District. As I've noted before, Djou's
stint in Congress is likely to end in January. However, by getting right at 40%, he does not disappoint. And the fact that this is President Obama's hometown district makes
this result, however short-lived, especially sweet for Republicans. His victory moves the current balance of power in the House to 256 Democrats and 179 Republicans.
Polls out of North Dakota show Democratic Congressman Earl Pomeroy facing the type of challenge this year he has seldom confronted. State Representative Rick Berg has polled well -
even ahead - of Pomeroy so far this cycle. And yesterday, CQ Politics moved the race to the toss-up category. That change was enough to tip the calculations here at
Election Projection from Weak DEM Hold to Weak GOP Gain. The House projected tally now stand at
233 Democrats and 202 Republicans, a net 24-seat gain for the GOP.
On Tuesday, voters in Pennsylvania will decide who will finish out the rest of the late John Murtha's term. Next Saturday, Hawaiians will choose an interim representative to fill the
vacant seat left open by Neil Abercrombie's gubernatorial run. These two districts were previously held by Democrats, but the GOP hopes to earn pick-ups in both of them this
month. Polls indicate a split is upcoming, with Murtha's seat likely to stay in Democratic hands and Abercrombie's seat almost certain to move to the red column.
Ironically, there a good chance neither will remain that way after November. Unique circumstances are at play in both situations which will make it difficult for the winner this
month to be the winner again later this year. In Hawaii, Republican Charles Djou is way out in front despite the fact that this area is strongly Democratic. His lead can be
attributed to the presence of two well-known Democrats in the race. In the "winner-take-all" format governing this election, Djou is polling around 40% while Democrats Ed Case and
Colleen Hanabusa are dividing up most of the rest of the vote.
Up in the Keystone State, a different dynamic is at work benefiting former Murtha staffer, Mark Critz. While the tide in Pennsylvania is moving toward the GOP, Democratic
turnout here will be fueled by a classic top-of-the-ballot all-out primary war. Incumbent Senator Arlen Specter is in danger of losing the nomination to Congressman Joe Sestak, and
interest in that race overshadows any on the Republican slate. So, despite a strong GOP wind in general, the race for Murtha's seat may be decided by a gale-force intra-party storm
raging above it on the ballot. Polls have moved away from Republican Tim Burns of late and now favor Critz to win.
Victories by Critz and Djou may be short-lived, however. Once November arrives, the unique aspects of May's contests will no longer be present. In their stead, we'll
see more expected tendencies exert their influence. Specifically, in Hawaii, Djou will face just one Democrat on November 2nd - and that presents him with heaps of trouble.
As next Saturday will confirm, Djou can do well against a split Democratic vote, but he'll be unlikely to survive against the sole Democratic opponent he will face in November. Likewise,
in Pennsylvania, Critz will be seeking re-election in the midst of a red wave election in a district Charlie Cook gives a slight Republican lean (PVI R+1). If Critz does win on Tuesday,
his seat will remain on the hotly-contested list and should immediately be considered a more likely Republican gain than it currently is.
The poll report for today, May 11, 2010 is up. You can check it out here. In case you didn't realize it,
I'll be posting a daily poll report, Monday thru Saturday, from now 'til the election, so be sure to check back here everyday for the latest numbers.
There are two interesting storylines to be gleaned from today's polls. First, in Hawaii, Republican Charles Djou has moved out to a double-digit lead over his two Democratic
incumbents. More than that, however, are these two tidbits. From
Hotline On Call:
"The DCCC will not be investing additional resources in the HI-01 (Abercrombie-open) special election. Local Democrats were unable to work out their differences," DCCC communications
director Jennifer Crider said in an emailed statement. "The DCCC will save the resources we would have invested in the Hawaii special election this month for the general election in
More than half the respondents - 52.6 percent - had already voted. And of that group, Djou got 45 percent of the vote, one reason it's so difficult to imagine trends changing in any significant way between now and May 22.
I'd say Djou has it just about sown up.
Second, in another possible indication of the voter enthusiasm gap we're looking at in November, The Washington Post released a poll of the Maryland gubernatorial contest
between incumbent Governor Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, and former Governor Bob Ehrlich, a Republican. When registered voters are polled, O'Malley stakes a 8 point lead.
However, a test of likely voters ends in a 47-47 tie. That's quite a difference, one could bode very well for GOP prospects across the country six months from now.
Stuart Rothenberg is reporting a partisan poll out of Texas CD-17
showing the challenger, Repubican Bill Flores, out in front of Democratic incumbent Chet Edwards by a 53% to 41% margin. This poll will be included in tomrrow's projections, but,
with pundits still giving Edwards the edge, I don't expect this to flip this seat to red in the projected House tally. One interesting note from Rothenberg's post: The Edwards
camp has refused to release its own internal poll. That might not be bad news for him, but it certainly isn't good news.
Later this month, Barack Obama's hometown district will be holding a special election to fill the seat vacated by gubernatorial candidate Neil Abercrombie. The main Republican in the
race, Charles Djou, is leading the top two Democrats by a slim margin in the polls. Because of the unique rules governing this race, Djou only has to get the most votes - not a majoirty
- to win. He could theoretically get barely a third of the vote and still be headed to Washington. Last week's news that State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, who is polling a distant third behind Djou and former congressman Democrat Ed Case, will not drop out of the race, makes a Djou victory quite possible.
That's good news for the GOP and one less seat they'll have to worry about in November as they try to gain control of the House once again, right? Not exactly. This
district is still strongly Democratic (Cook PVI D+11), and election rules revert to normal in November. After a September primary, Djou would have to battle just one Democrat on the
ballot, not two, in the general. That's a formula for a very short term in office. Sure, he would have the power incumbency, sort of, but I don't think this district will pick him again six months
from now. Democrats are sure to split their vote this month, but they won't have to in November. Perhaps that is why Hanabusa won't go away and National Dems seem
reluctant to come out and play here.
Still, holding the seat in Obama's district - even for half a year - would be sweet.
Special election rules governing the contest to replace Democrat and gubernatorial candidate Neil Abercrombie in
Hawaii's District 1 are providing a rare opportunity for the GOP to grab a takeover in Aloha country. Running
in this district are three able vote-getters, Democrats Edward Case and Colleen Hanabusa and Republican Charles Djou. When voters go to the polls on May 22, they will be able to
vote for any of several candidates from both parties. The top vote-getter wins. This unusual arrangement will likely split the bulk of the Democratic vote, while consolidated
support will fall in behind the Republican Djou. In the end, Election Projection now projects Djou will win a plurality of the vote and a pick-up for the GOP in this, Obama's hometown
district. This change moves the House tally back to 233 Democrats and
With the Pennsylvania preview comes one more projected GOP takeover. On May 18th, a special election will be held to fill the seat vacated by John Murtha's unexpected
passing. The pundits call it a toss-up, but polls give Republican Tim Burns an slight edge over Democrat Mark Critz. As a result, the race moves to a
Weak GOP Gain. I'm looking forward to seeing if the momentum displayed in Massachusetts in January will still be going strong in May in
southwestern Pennsylvania. This change brings the projected House tally to 233 Democrats and 202 Republicans, a net
gain of 24 seats for the GOP.
The latest round of updates are in from Charlie Cook and Stuart Rothenberg as well as a few from CQ Politics. There are 61 individual updates between the three sources.
Illustrating how the Red Wave of 2010 is building, the GOP benefited from 55 of them, the Democrats, just 6. With that much positive momentum, you'd expect the GOP to gain
additional seats as well. Such is the case. Florida's CD24, currently held by Suzanne Kosmas, now projects as a GOP takeover, as does Glenn Nye's seat in Virginia's second
district. These changes raise the net Republican haul in the House to 23 seats and leaves the GOP just 17 away from a projected majority.
New tally: 234 Democrats, 201 Republicans.
Democrat Robert Wexler's old seat in Florida's 19th congressional district will be in different hands after today's special election - but not in different parties. Ted Deutch, the new
Democratic congressman-elect, won the election with 62% of the
vote. Not much of a surpise at all in either the victor or the margin.
After several iterations of pundit ratings changes favoring Republican by vast majorities, we finally have a good round for the Democrats. Both Larry Sabato and Charlie Cook have
moved multiple seats their way recently. Of course, there were changes benefitting the GOP, mostly involving Democratic retirments in MA CD-10 and NY CD-29. However,
the net of the changes in terms of the projected House tally shows the Democrats reclaiming 2 seats previously projected to go red. Bobby Bright in AL CD-2 and Alan Grayson in
FL CD-8 appear less vulnerable in the is latest round of updates. They are now projected to hold onto their seats, reducing the projected GOP haul to 22 seats vs. 2 for the
Democrats. These changes bring the projected balance of power in the House to 237 Democrats and 198 Republicans.
Though Florida went for President Obama in 2008, its trend relative to the national vote has been toward the GOP. Nationwide, 2008 saw a 10 point swing in Obama's advantage vs.
John Kerry's performance in 2004. In Florida, the swing was just half that. It would be a mistake, I believe, to interpret Obama's win here last year as a sign that Florida is
becoming a blue state. That assertion is evident in the preliminary predictions for the Florida races I'll be tracking.
Senate: Mel Martinez, a Cuban-born GOP senator first elected in 2004, decided earlier this year not to run for re-election in 2010. In August, he decided to
end his term early and retire. George LeMieux was appointed to replace him, but he, too, has decided against running. Not so for the man who appointed LeMieux.
Governor Charlie Crist has thrown his moderate Republican hat into the race. Mix that moderate ideology and good amount of early backing from national GOP powers that be with
a favorite of the grass roots conservative movement (aka the Tea Partiers) and you have the makings of a lost opportunity. This seat should stay in GOP hands, but a bruising
primary between Crist and former Florida House Speaker and rising GOP star Marco Rubio could give the Democrats a chance to steal this one away. My hunch is that Crist would have
no problem winning the general election if he defeats Rubio in the primary. Rubio's chances, however, are a bit more dicey, but he could win as well. Until the primaries are
over, a prediction in this race is a bit premature. But that's never stopped me before! I'll call it a Weak GOP Hold for now for the simple reason that
this rating probably falls just about in the center of what is a broad range of possible outcomes.
Governor: Since Crist seeks a Washington office, his residency in the Governor's Mansion will end. The vacancy has given cause for a plethora of
individuals to jump in the gubernatorial race. Among the GOP hopefuls, it appears to be a two-man...er...one man - one woman race between State Senator Paula Dockery and
former Congressman and failed Senate candidate Bill McCollum. Polls give McCollum a big edge, though one has to wonder if name recognition may play a part in that.
On the Democratic side, CFO Alex Sink has the inside track to the nomination as things currently stand. This is another difficult race predict this far out. The results of the
primaries loom large as do the candidates' performances on the post-primary campaign trail. I'm going to call this a Weak GOP Hold, but, honestly, it is
without much conviction.
House District 8: Alan Grayson is no softly liberal. Oh, he's a liberal for sure, but he's as hard as nails. He refused to apologize for his now-famous
declaration on the House floor during the healthcare debate that Republicans "want you to die quickly." And this despite the fact that he's a freshman congressman from a
GOP-leaning district. That takes gumption, my friends. It also puts him in a precarious position heading toward the midterms. While the GOP has had several first-tier
folks decline to run, this race is low-hanging fruit, to be sure, and the eventual GOP nominee should send Grayson back to defending whistleblowers and filing lawsuits against big bad
government contractors. This race is one of the most vulnerable. It should end up a Weak GOP Gain.
House District 24: Freshman Democratic Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas bucked the norm by winning her first term in a Republican district by a landslide.
GOP incumbent Republican Tom Feeney's corruption problems and the big blue wave in 2008 provided Kosmas with an easy path to Washington. Since arriving, she has shown
centrists tendencies and is a member of the New Democrat Coalition. These facts give her a good shot at not being a common one-term wave baby. She will be tested, given
the conservative bent of her constituency. Against a big red wave, she may not get that second term. For now, though, I see her hanging on in a
Weak DEM Hold.
Another possibly competitive race in Florida which Election Projection will be tracking is in district 12, an open GOP seat vacated by Adam Putnam. He declined to seek re-election
in favor of a bid to become Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture.
Please check out the Florida state page for lots more cool stuff on the Sunshine State.
Next stop: Georgia