News from the Votemaster
Freshman Democrat Steve Cohen was renominated for his TN-09 House seat in the Tennessee primary yesterday. This was the nastiest race so far this year. The seat is in a mostly black district in inner city Memphis. It was vacated by Harold Ford, Jr. vacated when he ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2006, in what was also a dirty race. Cohen, who is white and Jewish was a very liberal state senator for 24 years. His main opponent in the primary was Nikki Tinker, a black corporate lawyer whose campaign was based on the idea that white people shouldn't be representing black people in Congress and certainly not Jews. The story at TPM is headlined: Tennessee Jew-Baiter Loses House Primary Challenge in Landslide.. The voters apparently paid more attention to Cohen's extremely strong civil rights record over the decades (and Barack Obama's attack on Tinker) than to Tinker's ads. The lefty blogosphere, which normally is very supportive of black women (think: Donna Edwards in MD-04), really dumped all over Tinker. Emily's List, which initially supported her, ultimately condemned Tinker. Cohen got 79% of the vote and will now cruise to reelection in this D+18 district. Does this contest have implications for potential race baiting in the presidential election? Who knows?
CQ Politics has catalogued all the votes in the Senate and House during the Bush presidency and produced a table of how pro/anti Bush each member was and how often each member voted the party line. For example, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) voted the Democratic Party line 98% of the time. Senators Brown, Leahy, Whitehouse, Kennedy, and Durbin scored 97%. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) was the only Republican to score a 98% party-line vote, but senators Bunning, Allard, Barrasso, Vitter, Isakson, Kyl, Inhofe, and Cornyn all scored 97%. Over in the House, 27 Democrats and 8 Republicans clocked in at 99% or more.
The least faithful Democratic senator was Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) at 56% and the least faithful Republican senator was Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) at 59%. The least faithful House Democrat was Bud Cramer (AL-05) at 71% and the least faithful House Republican was Christopher Shays (CT-04) at 70%. The table also shows how often each member supported President Bush. For example, Barack Obama supported Bush 40% of the time and John McCain was aboard the Bush bandwagon 90% of the time. The much-maligned Sen. Joe Lieberman, who many Democrats regard as a traitor, voted with the Democrats 87% of the time, a tad better than blogosphere darling Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) who came in at 86% and also better than Sen. Evan Bayh (81%) who is considered a possible Obama Veep. Senators and representatives often have a public image that does not jibe with their actual voting records. The table is enlightening.
John McCain has started a program in which people who post favorable comments about McCain to blogs and vote for favorable stories on digg.com and other aggregators get points redeemable for autographed books, tickets to McCain events, etc. In the lefty blogosphere this is being called the Frequent Liar program, but it sounds like McCain, even at 71, is finally getting the hang of how to use the Internet.
DSCC chairman Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), a Brooklyn streetfighter if ever there was one, says that since John McCain has launched character attacks on Barack Obama, he should respond in kind according to a story in Politico. Schumer: "What do you mean he's not one of us? It's John McCain who wears $500 shoes, has six houses, and comes from one of the richest families in his state." It remains to be seen if Obama will take Schumer's advice.
Two new polls in Wisconsin show Barack Obama holding his lead there, albeit by a smaller amount than in the previous poll. Rasmussen has him ahead by 4% and the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute says it is 6%. Obama has held solid leads in the state since mid-May and looks like he will carry it. The Democrats won the previous four elections there. Obama also has big leads in New York and Massachusetts, but that is hardly surprising.
The map currently shows an interesting perspective. Obama has enough electoral votes to win the presidency without Florida, Ohio, Missouri, or Virginia. Even if Indiana goes Republican, which is likely, he still has enough. In fact, even without Nevada he has enough. Basically, all he needs are the Kerry states plus Colorado, New Mexico, and Iowa.
In the Senate, John Kerry will cruise to a landslide reelection in Massachusetts. He is now leading his hapless challenger, Jeff Beatty, by 27%. Now that Jim Martin is the Democratic nominee in Georgia against Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R), the accumulated Martin-Chambliss polls go into the data base for the Georgia Senate race. Chambliss has a substantial lead. Martin's only real chance is a massive Democratic turnout for Obama, but it probably won't be enough.
Probably the most interesting poll today is a primary in frozen Alaska, which is featuring some of the hottest races of the year. Rep. Don Young (AK-AL) is leading Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell 46% to 38% according to an Ivan Moore poll. This primary is important because although Young hasn't been indicted (yet), corruption charges are swirling around him. If Young manages to survive the primary, Alaska will have no fewer than three newbie vs. codger races in the Fall: Barack Obama vs. John McCain for President, Mark Begich vs. Ted Stevens for senator and Ethan Berkowitz vs. Don Young for the House. These races will reinforce each other and in a year where 80% of the voters think the country is heading in the wrong direction, change could hit Alaska big time.
-- The Votemaster