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Projected New Senate:     50 Democrats     50 Republicans    

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strong Dem Strong Dem (43)
weak Dem Weak Dem (4)
barely Dem Barely Dem (3)
tied Exactly tied (0)
barely GOP Barely GOP (1)
weak GOP Weak GOP (2)
strong GOP Strong GOP (47)
No Senate race No Senate race
  Map algorithm explained
Sep. 19 New polls: MD MI NY RI RSS
  Pickups: Missouri Montana New Jersey Ohio Pennsylvania Rhode Island Tennessee

News from the Votemaster

Two exciting new polls today (if you don't find polls exciting, you probably wandered onto this site by accident). In Rhode Island, we have the first poll since Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) beat Steve Laffey in a bitterly contested primary. Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse is leading Lincoln Chafee 51% to 43%. All the money the NRSC spent on salvaging Chafee may be for nought if he can't beat Whitehouse in this heavily Democratic state.

The other exciting poll is in Maryland, where we have the first poll since Ben Cardin beat Kweisi Mfume in a relatively gentle primary. Both are congressmen and they are ideologically on the same wavelength. The main issue was who would be a stronger opponent to Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, the Republican candidate for senator. Cardin won the primary and now leads Steele 50% to 43% in this traditionally Democratic state. The seat is being vacated by the retirement of long-time senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD). While Rhode Island and Maryland are not in the bag for the Democrats, I doubt that either national party will spend a lot of money in either state. There are more competitive races out there, such as Missouri, New Jersey, Virginia, and Tennessee.

Two unexciting polls are from New York and Michigan. In principle, the former should be as exciting as the two above since it is also the first post-primary poll there. Now we know for sure the battle for the New York Senate seat will be between incumbent Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and challenger John Spencer. We also know almost for sure that Hillary will win in a landslide. A Siena College poll puts her ahead 62% to 32%. The most interesting thing about this race is how much of her massive bank account Hillary is willing to spend helping Democrats in tight races, like Claire McCaskill in MO, Bob Menendez in NJ, Harold Ford in TN, and Jim Webb in VA. She could buy a lot of good will by doing that, not to mention the fact that the winners of the Senate races this year will all be in office on Jan. 20, 2009, a date no doubt circled on her calendar.

Finally, in Michigan, Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) is running a good campaign and her challenger, Oakland Country Sheriff Mike Bouchard is having trouble getting any traction. If crime were the big issue, a county sheriff would be a strong candidate, but Michigan is reeling from job losses and the voters don't seem to be blaming Stabenow. She's comfortably ahead 54% to 41%.

Over in the House, incumbent J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ-05) is leading senate senator Harry Mitchell by 52% to 40%. In MN-06, Michelle Bachmann is ahead of Patty Wetterling by 50% to 41%. Although I don't have a map of the House races, there is a description of the 40 hottest house races, a complete list of all house races, and a list of all nonpartisan house polls on the site. Don't miss them.

Yesterday I had maps of 12 badly gerrymandered congressional districts. If you haven't seen it, take a look. It will remind you of the rotten boroughs in medieval England. A reader in the UK (who is no doubt familiar with the concept) pointed out that some of the gerrymandering is done not for partisan advantage directly, but to comply with the Voting Rights Act, which tries to prevent states from diluting the chances of an African-American congressman being elected. On the other hand, since African Americans are the most loyal Democratic demographic group, the effect is not so different from a Democratic gerrymander. On the other hand, the Republicans don't really mind putting all the African Americans in a state in one or two districts that go overwhelmingly Democrat if they can get modest victories in all the other ones.

There are primaries today in Washington state and Massachusetts. Nothing noteworthy either one except for the Democratic governor's race in Massachusetts, the bluest of all states but which keeps electing Republican governors one after another. Three Democrats, Deval Patrick, Tom Reilly, and Chris Gabrieli are contending for the right to face Lt. Gov. Kerry Healy (R). Bad driver Ted Kennedy is going to be renominated for the Senate. He is the second-longest serving senator in history. Only Robert Byrd has served longer, and Byrd is running for his 9th term and is expected to win in a (cake) walk. (A cake walk is a West Virginia tradition in which somebody plays music and everybody else walks around a cake. When the music stops, somebody wins the cake. I participated in one of these on July 4th in West Virginia once, but I never did figure out the algorithm for who gets the cake.)

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