Oil hit $143 barrel
in early trading, an all-time record. If it stays there, gas at $6 a gallon is a real
possibility and will focus the voters' attention firmly on the economy. Of course,
there is nothing Barack Obama or John McCain can do to change the short-term price
of oil, but they probably won't mention that. Still, if gas prices go through the
roof, the economy will dominate the election and poll after poll shows the voters
prefer the Democrats to be in charge of the economy.
High oil prices don't just affect consumers. State and local governments are also
feeling the pinch.
In Colorado, in some large counties, the sheriff is no longer sending deputies out on
patrol. In Ohio, police are driving golf carts because they get better mileage.
Oil is also a raw material in many manufacturing processes, and higher oil prices
means more expensive products. More expensive products means more inflation.
More inflation means the Fed will hike interest rates. Higher interest rates means the
stock market goes down. There are huge implications to $143 a barrel oil as we may soon
find out to our dismay.
CQ Politics has a
on the North Carolina Senate race between Sen. Liddy Dole (R-NC) and state senator
Kay Hagan (D). Some polls have shown it to be a close race. With Republicans almost
sure to lose Senate seats in Virginia, New Hampshire, Colorado, and New Mexico, and
huge battles expected in Alaska, Oregon, Minnesota, Mississippi-B, and Maine,
another competitive race is the last thing Senate Republicans need.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
that he does not expect to win back the Senate.
This is an extraordinary statement for the leader of either party to make.
It means McConnell is expecting a massive loss in the Senate. Our estimate at the
moment is 6-8 seats. It is unlikely the Democrats make it to 60, but if seats like
North Carolina are in play, there is a small chance it could happen.
We have three new presidential polls today. In Arizona, John McCain has a
comfortable lead, although perhaps a bit smaller than one might have expected
given that it is McCain's home state. Still, unless Gov. Janet Napolitano is Obama's
Veep, McCain should win Arizona easily. McCain is also comfortably ahead in Georgia
for the moment, but this is a state to watch. Fully 6% of the respondents said they
would consider voting for Bob Barr (L). Also, Obama will attempt a massive voter
registration effort among black voters here. Finally, Virginia is a statistical tie,
with Obama a hair ahead. This confirms what most political analysts have been
saying for a while: the red-blue map is changing, with states like Virginia and
Colorado becoming very competitive. These two states alone have 22 electoral votes.
If Obama wins all the Kerry states and these two, he gets 274 and becomes President.
The battles in these two states will be fierce,
In addition Nevada and Montana are also
potentially in play.
ARG ran a poll in New Hampshire asking whether people approve/disapprove of George
Bush. It was 16% approve, 75% disapprove, 9% don't know. The 75% is large, but sort
of expected now. But how can 9% of the people not know? Either you like Bush or you
don't. How can anyone not know after 7 years? The significance of the New Hampshire
poll is that New Hampshire is probably the only Kerry state McCain might realistically
win. And with such a bad approve/disapprove ratio for Bush there, McCain will have to
distance himself from Bush substantially. His attraction in NH is that he is sometimes
seen as a maverick. But saying "I approve of the Bush policies, I will just execute
them better" is not going to be a winning slogan in New Hampshire.