Sep. 10

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New Senate: DEM 49     Ties 1     GOP 50

New polls: MI SD
Dem pickups: GA

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New feature: Graph of Senate Scores for the Whole Year

We are introducing a new feature of the site today: a time series of the Senate score for every day of 2014. From it you can see the long-term trends in the battle for control of the Senate. The page has two graphs on it. The upper one simply shows the expected number of seats for each party for each day of 2014 based on the then-current polls. The lower one is the same thing but omits the states where the candidates were statistically tied and only counts the states in which one of the parties was really ahead. It will be updated every day from now on. A link to it is on the menu to the left of the map.

Democrat Chad Taylor Asks Kansas Supreme Court to Remove Him from Ballot

The Democratic candidate for the Senate in Kansas has dropped out of the race but the Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach refused to remove his name from the ballot because he did not state that he was incapable of fulfilling the duties of the office, as required by state law. Nevertheless, the candidate, lawyer Chad Taylor has asked the state supreme court to overrule the secretary of state and remove his name from the ballot. A poll released yesterday shows that 10% of the voters are still prepared to vote for him, even though he is not running. If his name is removed from the ballot, many of them may vote for independent Greg Orman, thus helping to defeat incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), which is what Taylor really wants. In his lawsuit, Taylor is claiming that Kobach is forcing him to run for an office he does not want to run for and that violates the Constitution.

Primary Season is Over

The final 2014 primaries concluded yesterday, except for Louisiana, whose election on Nov. 4 is technically a primary. As expected, former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown won his primary and so he can pursue his dream of being the next senator from New Hampshire. If he wins, which the polls show as unlikely, he would be the third person to represent two different states in the Senate and the first in 150 years. Sen. James Shields (D) once represented Illinois, Missouri, and Minnesota and Waitman Thomas Willey represented Virginia and West Virginia.

In other states, Businessman Kevin Wade defeated 81-year-old Carl Smink in Delaware so he will now face Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE). Coons is heavily favored in this very blue state. In Rhode Island, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) will face former Rhode Island Republican Party chairman Mark Zaccaria. Reed is also strongly favored.

New York didn't have a Senate primary, but it did have gubernatorial primaries. Not surprisingly Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), who is often mentioned as a presidential contender, won his against activist Zephyr Teachout by a wide margin, 62% to 34%. Nevertheless, Teachout, a Fordham University law professor who ran to the left of Cuomo, did quite well against such a powerful establishment figure.

In other Northeast primaries, the favorites won except for MA-06, where nine-term congressman John Tierney was defeated in the Democratic primary by newcomer Seth Moulton. Tierney is only the fourth incumbent congressman to be beaten in a primary this year and the first Democrat. The district is heavily Democratic, so Moulton is assured of victory in November

Republican Establishment Triumphs in the End

Many Republican senators in deep red states who are up for reelection this year were scared to death. They weren't scared of the Democrats, though, they were scared of tea party opponents in primaries. But in the end, the incumbents won all their races, albeit by modest margins in some cases. No tea party candidate beat an incumbent senator in a contested primary this year, unlike 2010 and 2012 where that happened repeatedly.

A large part of the reason is that this year incumbents were not caught asleep at the switch. In previous years they underestimated grass roots opponents who had never before run for public office. This year, every incumbent brought out massive firepower to go after any opponent, no matter how weak. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also poured big money into many races to help incumbents.

With the primaries over, the National Journal has compiled a list of what we have learned from them. The seven items are:

  1. Incumbents still rule the roost, but not as easily as they used to.
  2. Challengers have access to more money than ever
  3. Primaries can help Democrats
  4. The NRSC still has game
  5. Message to conservatives: Tactics matter
  6. A good ad still matters
  7. "Meddling" in the other party's primary is really difficult

Items Democrats and Republicans Agree On about the Election

The executive director of the DSCC, Guy Cecil, and the executive director of the NRSC, Rob Collins, debated yesterday for the first time and differed on many things, of course, but there are some things that came out of their meeting that they agree on, as follows:

  1. 2014 does not look like a wave year
  2. Republicans want to nationalize the election; Democrats don't
  3. Both sides are focusing on turnout
  4. Republicans will talk about the Democrats' issues, like birth control
  5. Democrats have basically conceded Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia already
  6. Democrats aren't going to invest in Kansas quite yet
  7. Ads are getting very expensive
  8. Campaign finances have come under the control of outside interests
  9. Suburban women will decide the election

Today's Senate Polls

With states in the West and Midwest like Michigan, Colorado, and Iowa slowly returning to the Democratic fold, it looks like control of the Senate will be largely fought out in the South and Alaska, with Kansas being a wild card. North Carolina may be the biggest battle of all. Nominally it is Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) against house speaker Thom Tillis, but in reality it is President Obama against the North Carolina state legislature, both unpopular in the state.

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Michigan Gary Peters 43% Terri Land 36%     Sep 04 Sep 07 PPP
South Dakota Rick Weiland 28% Mike Rounds 39% Larry Pressler 25% Sep 03 Sep 07 SurveyUSA

* Denotes incumbent

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