Oct. 05

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New Senate: DEM 47     Ties 1     GOP 52

New polls:  
Dem pickups: (None)

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Could Control of the Senate Be Decided in Quinhagak?

Quinhagak is a coastal village of 700 people in Alaska with no roads. The inhabitants speak Yup'ik and hunt and fish for their food. Senate elections are far from their minds. Yet Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) has a sophisticated ground game here and many other remote villages to get voters to the polls and vote for him. Nothing like this has ever been tried before. Since early voting in Alaska begins Oct. 20, Begich's field workers have 2 weeks to get voters to the polls.

The Democrats are taking Alaska very seriously. They have 90 paid staffers in offices throughout the state, many of whom are in remote parts of the state. The Republicans have 14 staffers in the state.

Similar imbalances are present in other states. In Iowa. a geographically much smaller state, the Democrats have 200 paid staffers in 33 field offices. They are focused on early voting and absentee ballots. The Republicans have much smaller ground operations everywhere and are spending their money on television ads rather than on ground troops.

It May Take a Long Time to Count All the Votes in Alaska

If the Alaska Senate election is close, the results may not be known for weeks due to the peculiarities of Alaska elections. For starters, the weather can make some polling places inaccessible, so alternatives have to be found quickly. Ballot transport is complicated in parts of the state, since many villages don't have roads. Finally, according to Alaska law, absentee ballots mailed from anywhere inside the U.S. can arrive as late as Nov. 14 and still be counted. If the race is close, these ballots may be decisive. In 2008, Ted Stevens led on election night, but when all the absentee ballots had been counted, Mark Begich came out on top.

Democrats Starting to Rely on Super PACS

While the Democrats have always opposed outside money in politics, they have gotten the message that the Republicans are going to use as much outside money as they can get, so they have thrown in the towel and started doing the same thing. While the Democrats don't have as much money as the Republicans, they do have one advantage: their outside groups are better at coordinating with each other. This has been a serious problem for the Republicans, which have multiple large outside groups. For example, the two largest Republican groups, Karl Rove's Crossroads, and the Koch brothers Americans for Prosperity and Freedom don't play well together. They don't because they have different goals. Karl Rove is fundamentally a campaign consultant. He wants to help people with an (R) after their names win elections. He doesn't really care much what they do after they are elected except inasmuch as that might affect their reelection campaign. In contrast, the Koch brothers are mostly in it to get changes in policy. They want lower taxes for themselves and their fellow billionaires and less government interference in their businesses. This is a completely different agenda than Rove's who sees politics as a kind of sport and wants his team to win. As a consequence, Democratic ads in each state have been very focused because the outside groups coordinate well whereas the Republican ads cover the economy, foreign policy, energy, abortion, health care and more. That might be less effective than hammering home one or two items.

Early Voting Is Already Underway in Iowa

With early voting already started in Iowa, analysts are trying to get a sense of how the election is going from data like ballot requests. So far, 52% of absentee ballot requests have come from Democrats and only 27% from Republicans. While this might sound like good news for the Democrats, but it is not. In 2012 at this point, the Democrats led in requests 66% to 12%, so clearly the Republicans are doing a much better job this year than last time. What is not known is whether either party is banking marginal voters who would not otherwise vote or are simply getting the party faithful to vote earlier. All in all, a close race is expected.

A Business Career Is Not Always a Plus

The Republican Senate nominee in Georgia, David Perdue, is under fire for his business career. His main pitch is that he created jobs, but it now appears that most of them were in other countries. Perdue once said: "I spent most of my career outsourcing." He spent 12 years working for a firm whose specialty was helping American apparel manufacturers move their production to countries in Asia. Since about 80% of Americans oppose outsourcing, if this becomes known, it could hurt Perdue in his run again Michelle Nunn (D). Perdue has said the loss of American jobs in manufacturing are due to bad government policies.

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