Sep. 27

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New Senate: DEM 47     Ties 1     GOP 52

New polls: AR VA
Dem pickups: (None)

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Meeting Between Orman and Wolf Canceled

A scheduled meeting between independent Kansas Senate candidate Greg Orman and the tea party candidate Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) (barely) defeated in the Republican primary, Milton Wolf, was unexpectedly canceled yesterday according to insiders. Supposedly Wolf was willing to endorse Orman in exchange for a promise to caucus with the Republicans. From Orman's perspective, it would increase the chances of his becoming a senator since conservatives who supported Wolf are very unhappy with how Roberts treated them during the primary and Wolf's endorsement might make them feel a bit better. But a promise to caucus with the Republicans would also greatly limit Orman's appeal to Democrats and independents as well as reducing his power in the Senate. It is not clear why the meeting was canceled, but it is known that the Republicans are going all out to help Roberts and may have pressured Wolf somehow to refrain from endorsing his opponent.

The Five Tightest Senate Races Revisited

The Washington Post has an update to the battle for the Senate. The bottom line is that the races to watch are Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, and North Carolina. Two polls yesterday show the Republican, Dan Sullivan (R) taking the lead in Alaska, but in the past Alaska has proven a difficult state to poll, in part because it has a large young, highly mobile population and landlines are less common than in the lower 48 outside the cities. Colorado and Iowa are true tossups. In presidential elections in recent years they have gone to the Democrats, but in this year's Senate races, it could all come down to turnout.

Kansas was not supposed to be in play, but the withdrawal of the Democratic candidate, stumbles by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), and a spate of court rulings have broken the contest wide open.

North Carolina seems to be trending Democratic, mostly because the state legislature, represented by its house speaker, Thom Tillis, who is the Republican nominee, is so unpopular as a result of the education cuts it passed. People who want to show their displeasure with the state legislature may vote for Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) and a vote is a vote.

Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia are virtually certain Republican pickups. The two Republican-controlled states the Democrats thought they had a chance in, Kentucky and Georgia, increasingly look like longshots for them.

For some reason, the reporters who wrote the story seem to have forgotten about Arkansas, which is more competitive than North Carolina. Polls there have been all over the map and it is far from clear who is ahead.

Arkansas Ads Are Turning Heads

The white-hot Senate race in Arkansas has produced some very innovative ads. They have covered topics from cows to Bibles to Ebola and featured the father of Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) and the mother of Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR). Pryor was the first Democrat to run an ad speaking positively about the Affordable Care Act. In that ad, his father, David Pryor, a former senator and governor himself, talks about how when Mark had cancer his insurance company refused to pay for the treatment that saved his life. Arkansas television viewers have suffered through 36,000 ads so far (sponsored by 26 outside groups) and the worst is yet to come.

Republican Presidential Candidates Address Values Voters Summit

The annual Values Voters Summit is the premiere gathering for social conservatives every year. Republican candidates who want their votes like to show up and throw them red meat. Yesterday many 2016 hopefuls dutifully gave their pitches. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) talked about how his father and mother were alcoholics and when he was three his father decided he didn't want to be married and didn't want to have a three-year-old son so he split. Then he found Jesus and came back to Calgary to be with his wife and son. This is the kind of story the audience laps up.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) couldn't match this, but he wants those votes too, so he said that libertarian is not the same as libertine. It probably didn't make as big an impression but at least Paul made the effort to come and speak. That is always appreciated.

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) was a big hit, mostly talking about how wonderful America has been to his immigrant parents, in large part due to freedom of religion.

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum should have been the star of the show because he has been campaigning on the themes that the attendees love for years, yet his speech fell flat until the very end when he got a standing ovation. He has a somewhat hectoring style, which not everyone likes.

Former governor Mike Huckabee also showed up and with his informal style and background as a baptist preacher attracted attention. The problem for Huckabee more than the others except Santorum is that this is his (only) base. Without the voters who are obsessed with abortion and same-sex marriage they are nowhere. Cruz and Paul have other bases that can help them.

Former Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin was also there and delivered a series of one-liners that the audience ate up. For example: "Truth is an endangered species at 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue." Had she been elected Vice President in 2012 and gone to visit President McCain there, she would have discovered that 1400 Pennsylvania Ave. NW is the office of a tour company, DC Walkabout. No doubt one of their guides could have helped her find the White House two blocks away at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. though. She also pointed out that she rarely wears her wedding ring in Alaska because she is too busy chopping wood and butchering moose.

Hillary Becomes a Grandmother

Chelsea Clinton has announced the birth of her daughter, Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky. Her political affiliation was not specified but given that all four of her grandparents have been elected to either Congress or the presidency as Democrats, speculation is that she will be a Democrat.

Pundits are also wondering if the birth of her first grandchild will help Hillary Clinton's expected run for the White House in 2016. Photos of her holding Charlotte will undoubtedly help with the grandmother vote. Seniors have favored Republicans for decades, but Charlotte could help Clinton with this demographic. Although Charlotte will not be running next summer when the campaign begins in earnest, she might be walking and videos of Hillary helping her granddaughter walk will definitely soften her otherwise steely and aloof image. The ads basically write themselves: "Hillary: I want a better country for Charlotte and all other American children (Charlotte then smiles at Hillary; slow cross dissolve to an American flag with "America the Beautiful" playing in the background)." Whether Chelsea timed the birth to maximize the value to her mother is not known.

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Arkansas Mark Pryor* 40% Tom Cotton 47%     Sep 24 Sep 25 Rasmussen
Virginia Mark Warner* 48% Ed Gillespie 35%     Sep 22 Sep 23 PPP

* Denotes incumbent

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