Sep. 18

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New Senate: DEM 49     Ties 1     GOP 50

New polls: CO IA KS LA MI NC NH
Dem pickups: (None)
GOP pickups: AR IA LA MT SD WV

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Republicans Gaining Strength on Generic Ballot Question

A common polling question to get a general feel for public opinion is: "If the election for the House were held today, would you vote for the Democrat or the Republican?" This is slightly different than a question that specifically asks about the voter's own representative, since then the representative's quirks come into play. In a new New York Times/CBS poll, Republicans now lead 45% to 39%. In detail, 92% of the Republicans, 10% of the Democrats, and 41% of the independents prefer the Republicans. Republicans also are the favored party by men, 18-44 year olds, 45-64 year olds, and over 64s. They win among whites, suburbanites, and people making more than $50,000. Democrats win among women, blacks, and low-income people. Voters trust the Republicans more on terrorism, the economy, and foreign policy. On health care, the Democrats win. Immigration is a draw.

Can Conservative Cities Save the Republicans?

The long-term trend in the United States is that cities are growing and rural areas are shrinking. Coupled with the fact that urban regions are strongly Democratic, this trend bodes ill for the Republicans. However, a new study from MIT and UCLA points out that there are cities that are quite conservative, mostly in the West. Mesa, AZ, is larger than Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Miami, and Minneapolis, and is serving up a new combination of fiscal pragmatism and competence. This could be a model the GOP could use elsewhere. However, in some sense Mesa isn't actually a normal city. It sprawls over 140 square miles and mostly consists of strip malls and subdivisions connected by six-lane freeways. That model doesn't apply so much in the East. Still, there are more cities like it in the West and what works in Arizona could work in Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado. In particular, Mesa is a laboratory for a city with very few (zoning) or other restrictions, which is part of the reason it sprawls so much.

GOP Plans to Use Abortion to Raise Turnout

Abortion is the issue that just keeps giving and giving for the Republicans. An investigation by the Government Accountability Office has shown that shown some health plans around the country may have illegally used federal funds to pay for abortions and the Republicans plan to blame the government for this, even though using federal money to pay for abortions is clearly illegal. The argument is that the Affordable Care Act is horrible because it has led to babies being murdered, so the solution is to repeal the law.

Maybe More Hats in the 2016 Ring

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA), has said he will decide on a presidential run after the midterms. He also said it would have nothing to with polls or fundraising (English translation: it will depend on how I am polling and how much money I think I can raise). If he runs, there will be endless reruns of his botched 2009 response to the President's state-of-the-union speech.

Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and winner of the 2008 Iowa caucuses is talking about another presidential run. If both he and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum run, they would be fishing in the same pool of voters, the social conservatives, who are fixated on sex, in particular, abortion, same-sex marriage, and birth control. If he and Santorum run, they would have their own little primary, almost separate from the tea party primary, possibly featuring Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and the establishment primary, possibly with Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN), and maybe even former governor Jeb Bush of Florida. Who actually runs and who doesn't depends a lot on the invisible primary, in which candidates try to line up donors and party activists.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is ramping up his 2016 presidential campaign. He pretty much admitted that he won't win, but may run anyway, just to tweak Hillary Clinton and force her to address issues he wants addressed. Sanders realizes that running means trudging through the snows of New Hampshire for months, but the snows of New Hampshire aren't all that different from the snows of his home state, Vermont, so he is used to it.

Not to be left out, Vice President Joe Biden also has shown up in Iowa. Biden, a Catholic, talked to a group of nuns. It is unlikely that he would run against Hillary Clinton, though.

What is amazing about all this is that there is so much presidential activity before the midterm elections have even occurred. That never happened before. However, there hasn't been any talk about the 2020 election--yet.

Perry Attacks Mexican President

Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) a likely 2016 presidential candidate, dabbled in foreign policy yesterday by attacking Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto for not securing Mexico's southern border, through which people can pass easily on their way to the United States. Perry was responding to the Mexican President's comment last week about Perry's deploying the National Guard to keep people from illegally crossing the border from Mexico into the U.S. Perry is a neophyte when it comes to foreign policy and it is far from clear that picking a fight with Mexico, one of the United States' staunchest allies, is a political winner. In Texas this may be popular but maybe not in Iowa and New Hampshire, where border politics is not so high on the agenda. This incident shows one of Perry's weaknesses: he tends to see everything in terms of how it will play in Texas, not how it will play elsewhere.

Today's Senate Polls

We have a mixed bag of polls today. One Iowa poll puts Joni Ernst (R) in the lead but another says it is a tie. In North Carolina, the sixth poll this week puts Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) ahead of North Carolina house speaker Thom Tillis (R). There seems little doubt that she is ahead for the moment, but election day is still weeks away. Polling in New Hampshire is very flakey. One day the race is tied and the next Jeanne Shaheen has a big lead. It is hard to say what is really going on there.

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Colorado Mark Udall* 42% Cory Gardner 43%     Sep 13 Sep 16 Suffolk U.
Iowa Bruce Braley 41% Joni Ernst 41%     Sep 14 Sep 16 Fox News
Iowa Bruce Braley 44% Joni Ernst 50%     Sep 10 Sep 15 Quinnipiac U.
Kansas Chad Taylor 11% Pat Roberts* 40% Greg Orman 38% Sep 14 Sep 16 Fox News
Louisiana Mary Landrieu* 38% Bill Cassidy 51%     Sep 14 Sep 16 Fox News
Michigan Gary Peters 45% Terri Land 38%     Sep 11 Sep 13 Denno Research
North Carolina Kay Hagan* 41% Thom Tillis 36% Sean Haugh (L) 6% Sep 14 Sep 16 Fox News
New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen* 51% Scott Brown 40%     Sep 10 Sep 11 New England College

* Denotes incumbent

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