Oct. 01

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New Senate: DEM 47     Ties 1     GOP 52

New polls: IA LA MI NH
Dem pickups: (None)

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Democrats Are Betting the Farm on the Ground Game

Democrats and allied groups are spending a large chunk of their budget on their get-out-the-vote effort whereas Republicans are focusing on broadcast ads and direct mail ads. These strategies both make sense since the Democrats' problem in the midterms is that their supporters don't vote, so they have set up offices in key states with paid staffers whose job is to get lazy voters to the polls on election day or earlier. Republicans have no such problem, so their focus is to convince independents to vote for them.

The states where the Democrats are trying hardest are Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan,and North Carolina. These are the states where they have the best chances. Michigan may soon drop off the list since Republican Terri Lynn Land is running a dismal campaign (she hasn't been spotted in public in days) and Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI) may be able to win that one on his own without outside help.

One consequence of the Democratic emphasis on the ground game is that some of the polls may end up being wrong. Democrats do much better among registered voters than among likely voters because so many of their supporters don't vote. But if the ground game convinces enough people the pollsters thought were unlikely to vote (e.g., because they didn't vote in 2010) to actually vote, the final electorate may look more like registered voters as a whole. Also a factor is that Colorado is tough to call because for the first time, every voter will get a ballot by mail. Vote by mail experience in Oregon and Washington shows that it increases turnout by something like 5%. That could be enough to get Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) over the finish line first.

Early Voting is about More than Convenience

An interesting piece in the Washington Post points out that while on the surface early voting, evening voting, and Sunday voting are nominally not about race, in reality, they affect blacks very differently than whites. For example, blacks are much more likely to work in hourly jobs, where taking off time to vote means not getting paid for a few hours, than as salaried employees who can take off time without being docked for it. Blacks in Ohio are four times less likely to own a car and thus have to take one or more buses to the polling place. Blacks are twice as likely as whites to be single parents, and in many cases have to pay a babysitter in order to vote. In 2012, 157,000 Ohio voters cast their votes on the days that have now been eliminated and may not be able to vote this year.

Tea Party May Sit Out Kansas Senate Race

Tea party leaders are meeting today to decide whether to help Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) or sit out this election. They have a number of specific demands directed at various state officials. One is to stop the investigation of Roberts' tea party primary challenger, a doctor who posted patient x-rays on his Facebook page. Another thing they want is a promise that if Roberts does not finish his term (he is 78 now), his primary opponent will be appointed to the seat.

A complication, however, is that none of the tea party groups want to see the Democrats control the Senate. So if it looks like the Kansas race will not determine control of the Senate, they may sit it out to punish the Republican establishment. But if it appears that Kansas is the deciding race, they may hold their noses and support Roberts.

Sanders Calls for Arab Boots on the Ground

Likely presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is already starting to formulate his foreign policy in advance of a 2016 run, but he is not the only one. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is also doing so. Yesterday Sanders said that Muslim countries, specifically Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kuwait, and Jordan (among others) need to commit ground forces to stopping ISIS. Saudi Arabia has a modern, well-equipped army and air force and shouldn't be expecting American taxpayers and soldiers to protect them when they are quite capable of doing it themselves, according to Sanders. House speaker John Boehner has called for American troops in the Middle East and Sanders specifically opposes that. It could well turn out that foreign policy is one of the big issues in 2016 and one that may differentiate candidates in both the primaries and general election.

'The Sky is Falling' Fundraising Emails Work

Psychological research shows that people are more willing to act to avoid negative consequences than to achieve positive ones. So this Fall the Democrats are bombarding supporters telling them of all the horrible things that will happen if the Republicans capture the Senate. This approach has helped the DCCC outraise the NRCC by $33 million this cycle. Of course negativity is not something only the Democrats use. During recent presidential elections the Republicans have predicted dire consequences of an Obama victory, essentially the end of America as we have always known it. As long as these appeals cause supporters to donate, they will continue to be used.

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Iowa Bruce Braley 42% Joni Ernst 44%     Sep 25 Sep 28 PPP
Louisiana Mary Landrieu* 45% Bill Cassidy 48%     Sep 25 Sep 28 PPP
Michigan Gary Peters 48% Terri Land 38%     Sep 22 Sep 24 Target Insyght
New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen* 53% Scott Brown 43%     Sep 27 Sep 29 ARG

* Denotes incumbent

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