News from the Votemaster
Mitt Romney has decided to convert the $45 million loan he gave his campaign into a gift. As a shrewd businessman, he knows the chance of getting donors to give money to a multimillionaire former governor who is not running for office is pretty darn close to zero, so why try? His attempt to buy the presidency didn't work. However, by formally abandoning any attempt to recoup his money, he is signaling John McCain that he is willing to focus all his fundraising efforts on helping McCain. If McCain would be willing to name him as Vice President. Romney would no doubt humbly accept. Is the presidency a steal at a mere $45 million? Probably. Is the Vice Presidency worth $45 million? John Nance Garner famously didn't think so.
Real Clear Politics has an article about changes in party registration since the 2004 election. The Democrats have gained 700,000 people and the Republicans have lost 1 million in the 29 states that register voters by party. Here are the numbers im some important states (rounded to the nearest thousand).
Two states stand out: Iowa and Nevada. In Iowa, Bush won by 10,000 votes and the Democrats have netted 95,000 new voters. In Nevada, Bush won by 22,000 votes and the Democrats have picked up 60,000 new voters. These numbers alone suggest that the Democrats have a good shot at picking up Iowa (7 electoral votes) and Nevada (5 electoral votes). If Obama gets these plus the Kerry states, he has 264 electoral votes, 6 shy of the 270 he needs. If McCain holds all the Bush states except Iowa and Nevada, he wins, but he can't afford to lose another swing state. If he loses New Mexico, too, the electoral college will be tied at 269-269 and the new House picks the President, with each state having one vote.
In only one state did the Republicans have a net gain over the Democrats, New Mexico, and then by only 2,000. Obama can thank his lucky stars for this development, or better yet, thank Sen. Hillary Clinton for her spirited run and refusal to give up until the last dog died. By running the primary calendar to the very end, the Democrats kept registering voters across the whole country for months after the Republican nomination was over and Republicans stopped registered voters on a large scale. All those (Obama) Democrats who were moaning that Clinton's refusal to give in was going to hurt the party need to eat a second helping of crow tonight. Her persistence led to huge registration gains which may serve the party well in November.
Yesterday we noted that the DCCC has $55 million cash on hand. Now Talking Points Memo has obtained the list of how DCCC chairman Chris Van Hollen plans to spend that money. He is going to dump $17 million into districts where Democrats hold the seat and face a serious challenge. Many of these seats are in Republican territory. The amount he is going to spend per district depends on local circumstances, such as how much money the incumbent has raised already, what the chance is that the Republicans can take it away, and how expensive the media markets are. Here are the numbers. Remember than $1 million is a lot of money in the average House race. All the district names are clickable for more information.
However, the bulk of Van Hollen's money is going to defeat incumbent Republicans or go after open Republican-held House seats. He has chosen 33 races and will dump $33 million in them combined. Here is the breakdown.
What is also noteworthy in the list is that a lot of the money is going into open seats, which are generally much easier to flip than occupied seats. Above the Pryce-line there are only seven occupied seats, each one with its own dynamic. For example, in NC-08, Robin Hayes is the incumbent who will have the largest amount of DCCC money thrown against him. The district is R+3, but more important, in 2006, a totally unknown high school teacher, Larry Kissell, who had never been in politics before, decided to challenge the four-term multimillionaire congressman (mostly because no established politician wanted to even try). Kissel got no money from the DCCC but still managed to come within 329 votes of winning. This time he's getting $1.6 million of Van Hollen's money to finish the job.
MI-07 (Walberg) at R+2 and especially IL-10 (Kirk) at D+4 are clear targets due to their demographics. The three Florida districts get $1.4 million combined because Van Hollen understands these are longshots. In contrast, the three upstate New York districts are fair game because the state as a whole is so blue.
In addition, there are two California districts where no breakdown is given between the Democratic-held CA-11 and the Republican-held CA-04, but Van Hollen is planning to spend $2.03 million in California.
NRCC chairman Tom Cole has $9 million in his piggy bank, so he can match Van Hollen on nine races. Undoubtedly he will choose defense since holding an existing seat is always easier than winning one from the other guys. So what does Tom Cole do with his $9 million? Of the 32 Republican-held seats Van Hollen is aiming at, 17 have Republicans sitting in them who hope to be there in January. Most likely Cole will devote the bulk of his money to some fraction of those 17, particularly the ones he thinks are in great danger. Looking at the PVI's on the Hot House races page gives an idea, but you have to know all the details to have the full picture. For example, he will undoubtedly tell Robin Hayes: "If you want to keep your job, go spend $5 million of your own money to do so. You can afford it."
Now on to the presidential polls. We have four of them today, all important. In Ohio, John McCain has now taken the lead in this critical swing state. The PPP poll yesterday had Obama 8 points ahead and now Rasmussen has McCain 6 points ahead. Since PPP is a Democratic shop and we ignore all partisan pollsters as a matter of principle (other than an occasional quick mention), Ohio now flips to the Republicans.
Another important state is Colorado, where Barack Obama maintains a small lead of 7 points. This is the fifth consecutive poll there showing Obama ahead. He clearly has a good chance to flip this state. And of course, with the Democratic National Convention there, Obama will get morning-til-night coverage in August ending with his acceptance speech to 75,000 wildly cheering fans at the Denver Broncos' stadium.
New Hampshire is one of the very few Kerry states in which McCain has a chance. A new ARG poll there puts Obama in the lead by 2 points, which means it is a statistical tie. Yesterday we reported a University of New Hampshire poll putting Obama ahead by 3 points.
Finally, ARG has a poll in Florida in which McCain's lead is cut to 2 points. This is a state in which Obama has failed to get much traction although the increased Democratic registration there will certainly help him.
Today's map shows how Obama could win the White House without Florida, Ohio, Missouri, and Virginia.
We also have three Senate polls, all consistent with past Senate polling. Mark Udall (D) looks like he is maintaing his lead over Bob Schaffer (R) in Colorado, Jeanne Shaheen (D) continues to wallop Sen. John Sununu (R-NH) in the Granite State, and Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) can continue his work as chairman of the Senate Armed Services committee without worrying too much about his election campaign.
-- The Votemaster