Sep. 28

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New Senate: DEM 47     Ties 1     GOP 52

New polls: IA ME
Dem pickups: (None)

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Third Parties and Independents Could Tip Races

A tremendous amount has been written about independent Greg Orman who has become the de facto opponent of Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), but there are other independents and third-party candidates who could affect races around the country. In North Carolina, pizza deliveryman Sean Haugh is running on the Libertarian Party ticket for the Senate and is polling at about 6%. Most of his votes are probably coming from Thom Tillis (R), who is running about 4 or 5 points behind Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC). Absent Haugh, Tillis might be leading.

Another Senate race where a third candidate is doing well is South Dakota, where former Republican senator Larry Pressler is pulling in 25% of the vote in the most recent poll. That may not be enough to stop former governor Mike Rounds (R), but it could certainly give him a good scare.

In three races for governor, a third-party candidate is having an impact. In Georgia, Libertarian Andrew Hunt might get enough votes to force a runoff between Gov. Nathan Deal (R-GA) and Jason Carter (D), the grandson of Jimmy Carter. In Florida, Libertarian Adrian Wyllie could upset the applecart for Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) in his race against former governor Charlie Crist, who is now a Democrat. But the race where the third candidate could wreak the most damage is the gubernatorial contest in Maine, where independent Eliot Cutler, who is fairly liberal, helped elect Gov. Paul LePage (R-ME) last time by splitting the Democratic vote with the actual Democrat and could easily do the same thing again,

Cruz Wins Values Voters Straw Poll

Every year, the Values Voters Summit, a meeting of religious conservatives, holds a straw poll. Yesterday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) won with 25% of the vote. Conservative idol, Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon, came in second with 20%. Third was former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee with 12%. The poll means essentially nothing since only a small slice of the Republican electorate attends the meeting. Tax cutters, libertarians, and the establishment generally don't show up. Nevertheless, If Cruz decides to run for President, as is expected, he will tout this poll to show that the "country" supports him.

Elena Kagan Must Decide What to Do Next in Ohio Early Voting Case

In a case pending before the Supreme Court, Justice Elena Kagan must decide what to do with the Ohio early voting case. The lower courts have said the state may not roll back the early voting days and Sunday voting before election day. The state of Ohio claims it alone has the authority to set voting hours. Kagan handles matters from the 6th Circuit and is contemplating what to do now. If nothing happens fast, early voting is set to begin on Tuesday.

Digital Technology May Shape the Senate

A few decades ago the main form of political warfare was television advertising. While that still plays a role, other factors including which party has the better database are looming larger. For starters, each party has a database that contains information about each voter that NSA could only dream about. It covers everything from what magazines they subscribe to, to how often they have voted in the past. This allows the party to carefully craft emails tailored to narrow groups of voters to raise issues they care about. Second, all this knowledge helps the parties with their get-out-the-vote operation by allowing them to focus on people who favor them but who have spotty voting records.

In addition, both parties are active in all forms of social media, in an attempt to keep their partisans engaged and more likely to vote. In 2012, the Democrats clearly outgunned the Republicans in digital technology, but this year the Republicans have mounted a huge effort to catch up and surpass the Democrats.

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Iowa Bruce Braley 38% Joni Ernst 44%     Sep 21 Sep 24 Selzer
Maine Shenna Bellows 29% Susan Collins* 59%     Sep 18 Sep 25 U. of New Hampshire

* Denotes incumbent

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