News from the Votemaster
Another new feature today. The electoral college page (on the menu) now has four graphs at the same scale. It shows the 2008 and 2004 electoral votes every day both with and without the "barely" states. The lower graph in each pair counts only states where the leader is at least 5% ahead of his opponent. Also, the 2004 and 2008 daily strong-weak-barely data are now available as .csv files for 2004 and 2008. The files are also listed on the Data galore page on the menu in case you need them later on.
Kansas, Michigan, and Missouri had primaries yesterday and Georgia had a runoff for the Senate. In an especially bitter primary in KS-02, Kansas state treasurer Lynn Jenkins has apparently narrowly defeated former congressman Jim Ryun in his comeback bid. She won by under 1000 votes. Ryun was a star athlete before becoming a politician. He broke the 4-minute mile in high school and won an olympic silver medal in 1968. Jenkins will now face incumbent Rep. Nancy Boyda (D-KS). The district is R+7, but incumbents are tough to dislodge and this is shaping up to be a Democratic year in Congress. This is definitely a top-tier race and will attract national attention.
In Michigan (MI-13), Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick narrowly survived a primary challenge in this mostly black, very Democratic district that includes half of Detroit. Kilpatrick's son, Kwame Kilpatrick, has been charged with 8 felony counts. Normally six-term Democrats in D+32 districts aren't challenged in primaries, but many voters undoubtedly wanted to send her a message that she had better call her son to order. She will be reelected in a landslide.
In Missouri, the key contest was the gubernatorial primary. It will be Attorney General Jay Nixon (D) vs. Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R) in November. In Hulshof's district, MO-09, which is PVI R+7, state representative Judy Baker (D) will face former state representative Blaine Luetkemeyer (R).
In Georgia, Vietnam veteran and former state representative Jim Martin beat Vernon Jones in a runoff for the right to challenge Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) for the Senate. Chambliss ran an extraordinarily mean campaign last time, attacking Vietnam veteran and triple amputee Max Cleland for lack of patriotism. Unless Obama has major coattails among black voters, Chambliss will probably keep his job.
The national polls gyrate wildly, in part due to a margin of error of about 4% for each poll. One way to smooth the variations is to average the polls in some way. Here is a simple way. All the Real Clear Politics national polls have been assigned to the week in which they occurred (e.g., Jan. 1-7 is week 1, Jan. 8-14 is week 2, etc.). The average of each week was then calculated and plotted against week number. Here is the graph. The points above the horizontal orange line show Obama ahead of McCain.
Clearly the noise has been reduced appreciably. For the past 15 weeks or so, Obama's lead has probably been about 3-4%.
Political guru Charlie Cook wrote a column that discusses polling data showing that a majority of the voters aren't weighing Barack Obama vs. John McCain. They are considering whether Obama is up to the job. If he is, he wins; otherwise, the other guy wins, and it doesn't much matter who the other guy is. Obama has to make himself appear presidential and McCain is doing everything he can to make him appear defective, hence all the negative ads already. Obama can count on the black vote, most of the Latino vote, and a large chunk of the under 50 vote. The big question is the gray-white vote--white voters over 50. If he can get something like a third of them, he can win, otherwise McCain wins.
Carly Fiorina keeps hanging around John McCain and speculation about her as Veep won't stop. Here's yet another story. Considering that she fired 20,000 people and managed to halve Hewlett Packard's stock price before the board fired her and then gave her $40 million to ease her pain, you wouldn't think McCain would touch her with a barge pole--especially not as economic advisor. Incompetence, disdain for workers and stockholders, and cronyism all in one neat package. What else could the Democrats wish for?
Paris Hilton has issued a video rebuttal to John McCain's ad featuring her. Her mother donated $2300 to McCain earlier this year and complained that the ad was a waste of her money.
One presidential poll today, in Washington state, where Barack Obama continues to lead as he has all year.
While we are on the subject of the Pacific Northwest, there is also a Senate poll in Oregon, where Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) is fighting for his political life. The most recent poll had Merkley slightly ahead, but a new one puts Smith firmly back in the lead.
Also a House poll today. In OH-15, Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy is making her second run for this seat. She barely lost in 2006 and is now slightly ahead. This will be a close one.
-- The Votemaster