Oct. 20

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New Senate: DEM 48             GOP 52

New polls:  
Dem pickups: GA

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Gubernatorial Races Hotter than Senate Races

While nearly all the election coverage has been on control of the Senate, under the radar, more money has been spent on the gubernatorial races than on the Senate races, $379 million to $321 million. Of the $379 million, $62 million has been spent on one race alone, the Florida race between Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) and former governor Charlie Crist. As many as a bakers dozen governors might lose, which would be a historic number. In order of most endangered to least endangered, here is a updated list from the Washington Post. The (D) or (R) after the state indicates the incumbent governor's party.

  1. Pennsylvania (R). It's all over. Democrat Tom Wolf will replace the extremely unpopular Tom Corbett
  2. Arkansas (D). Former Rep. Mike Ross (D) put up a good fight but Arkansas is too red to stop Asa Hutchison
  3. Maine (R). In a 2-way race, Gov. Paul LePage (R-ME) would be toast, but maybe also in the actual 3-way race
  4. Florida (R). The dispute over a small fan at the debate last week may sink Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL)
  5. Kansas (R). Unpopular Gov. Sam Brownback (R-KS) may be able to barely stave off Paul Davis (D), maybe not
  6. Connecticut (D). Gov. Dan Malloy (D-CT) is unpopular and facing a wealthy former ambassador, Tom Foley (R)
  7. Illinois (D). Gov. Pat Quinn (D) barely beat a a loony in 2010 ; now he faces a mini-Mitt, but he might yet win
  8. Colorado (D). Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) should have won in a walk, but he is neck and neck with Bob Beauprez (R)
  9. Michigan (R). Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI) was a huge Democratic target but he has been edging back from oblivion
  10. Wisconsin (R). Gov. Scott Walker (R) survived a recall but may not survive bicycle executive Mary Burke (D)
  11. Alaska (R). Independent Bill Walker seems to be leading Gov. Sean Parnell (R-AK)
  12. Massachusetts (D). Sometimes Massachusetts elects Republicans as governors and it is 50-50 this year
  13. Georgia (R). If Jason Carter can get to 50% on Nov. 4, he could win but in a runoff, Gov. Nathan Deal (R-GA) will win

Obama Finally Hits the Campaign Trail

Having a sitting President hide in the White House during a white-hot election in which his party could lose control of the Senate might seem odd, but that is the way it has been up to now. Finally, that changed yesterday as President Obama has started helping out very carefully selected Democrats in deep blue states where he is an asset rather than a liability. Most of his campaigning will be in gubernatorial races because nearly all the tight Senate races are in red states. The states he will visit include Maryland, Illinois, Maine, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

While he hasn't campaigned in person up until now, Obama has attended many private fundraisers to help the DNC and DSCC collect money. That can be done under the radar in places like New York and California, where there are no contentious races.

Warren Campaigns in Colorado

Unlike Obama, who energizes his opponents without helping his supporters much, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), energizes both sides, but she doesn't care. She is campaigning for Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), another liberal, in Colorado, talking to students at the University of Colorado and trying to get them to go vote. Her standard speech covers topics of interest to students, including student-loan rates, same-sex marriage, immigration reform, and raising the minimum wage. She is a fiery speaker much beloved by liberal audiences. While many on the left would like her to run for President in 2016, she has been absolutely clear that she is not going to do that. She seems to like being a senator and getting lots of attention for issues she cares about.

The Most Polarized Voters Are Also the Most Likely Vote

A new Pew poll shows that the more hostility a voter has to the opposing party, the more likely he or she is to vote. Although overall turnout is expected to be about 40%, among conservatives, it is likely to be 75%. Among liberals, about 58% will vote. So the great motivator is hatred of the enemy rather than support for your friends. It is not clear how much of this effect is due to the slew of negative ads day and night portraying the other side as unspeakable monsters rather than showing the candidate as a great person.

Holding Local Elections in Even-numbered Years Could Increase Turnout

While issues that Democrats and Republicans agree on are few and far between, one issue that has some serious bipartisan support is holding local elections (mayors, school boards, etc.) at the same time as congressional elections. Usually local elections are in odd-numbered years and have low turnout. One study showed that aligning local elections with presidential elections boosted turnout 29% and aligning them with midterms boosted it 13%. Eliminating odd-year elections also saves money since it requires only two elections in a 4-year cycle instead of three.

Although alignment is not a partisan issue, it does have opponents. In particular, interest groups that benefit from having their highly motivated voters--and no one else--show up oppose alignment. The system of having local elections separated from congressional elections was actually a reform measure 100 years ago. It attempted to get local officials decoupled from the political machines that dominated in the even-numbered years.

Romney Leading the 2016 Republican Polls

A new WaPo-ABC News poll about the 2016 presidential race puts Mitt Romney on top for the Republican nomination, with 21% of Republicans in favor of him. Second was Jeb Bush, at 11%. Last week Romney's wife made it clear that she had no stomach for yet another run. Jeb Bush is also far from a certain candidate since his wife, too, has had enough of campaigning. If both of them stay on the sidelines, it will be a free-for-all among relatively unknown candidates, all of whom are in the 5-10% range.

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