MD-1: Wayne Gilchrest Gets Another Primary Opponent

Cross-Posted from Hat Thief

Of the 200 or so Republicans in the House of Representatives, the one I’m probably least concerned with beating is Wayne Gilchrest. He’s pro-choice, pro-environment, wants to leave Iraq and has a relatively moderate voting record on economic issues.

And his district is pretty heavily Republican (62-38 for Bush in 2004, 57-40 for Bush in 2000). So even a True Believer® will be tough to beat here.

Wayne’s biggest fight has always been in the primary. He’s nearly been Clubbed for GrowthTM several times now.

And Pat Toomey’s organization is at it again with a new attack website, Wayne Gilchrest is a Liberal.

 an a the same strategy they used to help True Believer® Tim Walberg take down Rep. Joe Schwarz, another moderate Republican. Well, that and $500,000 in Schwarz-bashing ads.

So True Believer® State Sen. Andrew Harris is running as a “real conservative” and could well take him down.

But it looks like Gilchrest may have some good news. State Senator E.J. Pipkin has announced his intentions to run against Gilchrest as an “Eastern Shores conservative,” and pundits believe this will help split the anti-Gilchrest vote.

The Club for Growth will stick with Harris (they’ve been a conduit to raise money for him); however, E.J. Pipkin is a multi-millionaire and is willing to spend vasts sums of money, so he’ll get himself some exposure.

Frankly, I think that may be a good thing. In heavily Republican districts, I’d much prefer a moderate Republican to a far-right Republican.

However, there is always the possibility that Gilchrest could choose to run as an Independent and skip the primary; he’s popular enough to do that.

It wouldn’t be the first time a Republican left the party (or made noises about it) after a Clubbing for Growth.

  • Lincoln Chafee left the Republican party after narrowly winning his primary against CFG-backed Steven Laffey and then losing the general
  • Joe Schwarz has made noises about leaving the party
  • Arlen Specter, who was challenged by now-CFG president Pat Toomey, would probably leave if he wasn’t a coward-he Bloomberged his way into the Republican party [Bloomberg = running as a Republican for city office to avoid heavily ethnic Democratic primary]; he should Bloomberg his way out again
  • Bob Smith endorsed John Kerry for president after losing his primary to CFG-backed John Sununu

NJ-03: GOP Frontrunner Won’t Run

This is pretty big news.  After Rep. Jim Saxton (R-NJ) shocked us all by announcing his retirement earlier this month, the GOP felt pretty good about holding his seat.  They had well-liked state Senator Diane Allen on hand, who was very interested in making a race of it.  The only problem?  Allen, a former broadcaster with a moderate reputation, wanted assurance from the NRCC that her bid would be well-funded.  With potential primary challengers nipping at her heels and the NRCC coffers empty, I guess it didn’t take long for Allen to reach a final decision:

State Sen. Diane Allen says she will not be a candidate for Jim Saxton’s open House seat next year.

“Now is not the time in my life that I feel prepared to again fight a Democrat opponent as well as a rouge faction of the Burlington County Republican Party simultaneously,” Allen said.

Allen, a longtime legislator and former CBS news anchor in Philadelphia,  had been expected to seek the 3rd district seat, and her sudden departure amidst a major intra-party battle in Burlington extends the turmoil of the Republican campaign to hold Saxton’s seat in 2008.  It also enhances the chances of an Ocean County Republican winning the GOP nod.

Ouch!  So in addition to losing a good deal of incumbents, the GOP is having great difficulty recruiting top tier challengers to replace them.  Could the picture get any clearer?

LA-Sen: Kennedy Raising Money to Challenge Landrieu

Political Wire reports that Louisiana Treasurer (and former Democrat) John Kennedy intends to challenge Sen. Mary Landrieu next year. Kennedy has apparently already begun raising campaign cash and has been shopping around the results of a Zogby poll showing him leading 45% to 38%.

To see the results of the poll, you can visit Kennedy's excellent campaign website, hosted by Geocities. I suppose he needs to raise all that money to pay for real hosting.

NE-Sen: Step Forward and help PLEDGE for KLEEB pass 50 people! (DraftKleeb.com_

PLEDGE for KLEEB is almost one week old people and we have already rallied the troops for this eventual Senate campaign.  To those who have pledged, thank you very much.  Here is where the current talley sits:

47 people have pledged…

  • …1,176 hours (147+ working days)
  • …$11,760 ($250.21 per person)
  • But the work is not even close to done.

    Help us reach 50 people by the end of today.  That only takes three people to step forward for a better Nebraska.  Pledge your time, energy, or contribution to helping change the face of Nebraska politics.

    Click here to PLEDGE for KLEEB!

    OH-05: Wes Clark Promotes Weirauch (D); Momentum Building Fast

    Former Democratic presidential contender Gen. Wesley Clark has a post up on his WesPAC blog, praising Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon) and calling for donations for the special election that is now only twelve days away. Clark describes Weirauch as:

    the daughter of a retired Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force, [who] will do more than simply repeat slogans like “Support the Troops.” She will fight to bring a responsible end to the war in Iraq and make sure our veterans receive the health care they deserve.

    This is just the latest of many signs I am seeing that the Weirauch campaign is really taking off (examples after the break).

    * Weirauch has been endorsed by Emily’s List and a host of labor unions, which means that she has logistical and strategic support for a huge get-out-the-vote election in a contest that will be marked by very low turnout — she did not have Emily’s List’s support in her past races against deceased incumbent Paul Gillmor (R);

    * The DNC is deploying internet-based GOTV support;

    * Gov. Ted Strickland reportedly will campaign with Weirauch in the next few days, and Sen. Sherrod Brown did so a few days ago — these two political superstars each carried the 5th District in 2006;

    * Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) hosted a big fund-raiser for Weirauch last night, and all the other Democratic members of Congress from Ohio are actively supporting her as well (I was at a fund-raiser two night ago featuring Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones(D-Cleveland));

    * I just went to and Weirauch is second on the list of busiest recipients this week;

    * Even hard-core Republican voters in the 5th District were extremely turned off by the bitterly negative GOP primary and many will either stay home or vote for change — I heard at the Weirauch fund-raiser two nights ago that the father of a well-known former GOP state legislator, himself an outspoken right-winger, is supporting Weirauch.

    This is a race that will set the stage for 2008, and an upset victory is looking more and more possible. Please click here now and support the Weirauch campaign!

    Cross-posted at Ohio Daily Blog

    Congressional district analysis: Race and presidential vote

    cross posted from daily Kos…

    my first diary here

    This is part of a series based on analysis of data based on Congressional Districts.  This one is the first that is really analytical.  

    A word of warning: Do not infer anything about individuals from any analysis at the district level.  That would be the ecological fallacy.

    Today, I look at the relationship between the racial/ethnic makeup of districts, and whom the district supports in presidential elections.

    More below the fold  

    The Almanac of American Politics, where I got the data used below, classifies race/ethnicity into a large number of categories.  I combined some of these into “other” and have the following: non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, Hispanic, and other.

    For each congressional district, I recorded the percent of the population in each category, and the Cook PVI number, which is, essentially, an indication of how much more Democratic or Republican the district was than the nation in the last two presidential elections.  E.g., a rating of R + 9 would indicate that the district gave Bush an average 9% more than the nation in 2000 and 2004 (it’s a little more complex, because they adjust for third party vote, but that’s the general idea).

    Then, I graphed Cook PVI and each of the four racial/ethnic groups, and added a loess line (loess is a nonparametric curve fitting mechanism….you can think of it as a more sophisticated moving average).

    So, first %Black and Cook PVI

    As we might expect, districts with a lot of Black tend to be very Democratic.  But I didn’t suspect the nonlinearity of this relationship.  That is, there isn’t much difference between districts with almost no Blacks (mostly the rural north) and districts with 15% Blacks: they all have average Cook PVI about 0 (that is, close to the national average).  Districts with a great many Blacks (mostly gerrymandered districts in the South and in central cities) are very Democratic.  Among the 33 districts with more than 35% Blacks, none favored Republicans

    Next, %Hispanic and Cook PVI

    A couple things to note: First, although (as with the graph above) the relationship is positive (i.e. districts with more Latinos tend to vote more Democratic) the slope of the line isn’t as steep, and it is less nonlinear.  I will get into reasons for this in a diary on interactions, but the basic reason is that Hispanic districts in different parts of the country varied a lot.  A lot of the highly Latino districts were in Texas, which is, of course, Bush-country.  The highest concentration of Latinos in any districts are in TX15 and TX28 (each has just over 3/4 Latino) and these districts had Cook PVI of R+1 and D+3, respectively.

    Next, % White and Cook PVI

    As we might expect, the direction of the slope is the opposite of both of the above.  But, even among districts with nearly all White populations, the Cook PVI varied.  By the way, the district with the lowest percent White is NY-16, which is the South Bronx.  It’s tied for most Democratic district in the country (D + 43), has the lowest median income ($19,300), has the highest percent in poverty (42.2%), and has the second lowest percentage of veteran (3.9%).

    Finally, other race/ethnicity.  Here, I’ve deleted the two Hawaiian districts from the graph, because they are outliers – by far the highest percentage nonWhite is in these districts.

    Again, as % ‘other race/ethnicity’ increases, so does Democratic vote.  By the way, and not surprisingly, the four districts (other than HI) with the highest percent ‘other race’ were all in coastal CA.

    What to make of all this?

    I’m not sure.  But I find it interesting

    NM-Sen: Udall Will Announce His Run on Marty’s Turf

    Tom Udall will get his Senate campaign off to a blazing start tomorrow, where he will make his formal announcement on the turf of his primary rival, the loathsome Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez:

    Udall is scheduled to announce Thursday at the National Hispanic Center in Albuquerque, the first stop on a three-day, nine-city announcement swing that will wind up Saturday night in Santa Fe.

    Chavez has been touting that he is the only native New Mexican and Hispanic in the race for Senate. But Udall is expected to try to demonstrate that he has backing among Hispanic New Mexicans too and support outside his congressional district from his tenure as state attorney general.

    “The next three days are about Tom’s announcement and getting around the state to show his strength,” said Udall spokeswoman Marissa Padilla.

    Udall also plans stops in Los Lunas, Las Cruces, Silver City, Clovis, Las Vegas, Mora and Taos over the three days.

    A good show of force by Udall, who gave us a taste of what’s to come in a press release earlier today:

    “As a prosecutor, state attorney general and congressman, I have stood strong for New Mexico values,” Udall said in the release. “I am proud to bring my proven record of leadership to the United States Senate.”

    “New Mexicans know my record on issues like reducing domestic violence and DUI, improving access to health care and education, protecting our Constitutional freedoms, conserving our natural treasures and ending the misguided war in Iraq,” he said. “New Mexico deserves a senator who has the courage to do what’s right, and I have the integrity and experience they can trust.”

    New Mexico FBIHOP has Udall’s full schedule.

    AK-AL: Young Trails Benson and Berkowitz in New Poll

    Diane Benson, Rep. Don Young’s foe in 2006, just released a new poll (PDF) today showing the scandal-plagued incumbent trailing both Benson and former state House Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz, who are vying for the Democratic nomination.  Both Dems also lead Young’s Republican primary challenger, state Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux.

    Craciun Research Group for Diane Benson (10/27-11/02):

    Diane Benson (D): 45.3%

    Don Young (R-inc): 36.7%

    Undecided: 15.6%

    Ethan Berkowitz (D): 49.7%

    Don Young (R-inc): 35.1%

    Undecided: 13.8%

    Diane Benson (D): 45.0%

    Gabrielle LeDoux (R): 12.3%

    Undecided: 38.2%

    Ethan Berkowitz (D): 49.0%

    Gabrielle LeDoux (R):  13.8%

    Undecided: 32.9%

    (MoE: ±4.9%)

    If this poll is remotely accurate, Young is screwed.  An earlier poll, conducted in August by Ivan Moore Research, showed Young trailing Berkowitz by nearly 6 points.  The environment hasn’t exactly improved for young since then, so who knows.

    The poll also shows a reasonably close primary race between Benson and Berkowitz, with former Alaska Democratic Party Chair Jake Metcalfe in third:

    Ethan Berkowitz (D): 28.6%

    Diane Benson (D): 21.1%

    Jake Metcalfe (D): 8.3%

    Undecided: 33.8%

    (MoE: ±5.7%)

    Interestingly, 6% of respondents volunteered the name of Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, who appears set to challenge Sen. Ted Stevens (R) next year.  Another Ivan Moore poll, released last month, showed Berkowitz leading Benson by a 26 point margin.

    This is shaping up to be an explosive race.

    PS: Check out Young’s new campaign website.  Get a load of his slogan: “No One Has Done More, No One Will Do More.”  Who does he think he is?  Superman?

    House Races: Money, Incumbency, and More (II)

    We know money and several other factors have major effects on House races.  But after we account for these major factors, how much advantage does incumbency give a candidate?  A gerrymandered district?  Getting caught in a scandal?

    Yesterday I showed some regressions for Republican performance in House races for the years 2002, 2004, and 2006 that take account of incumbent party, fundraising ratio, and district partisan makeup.

    Using these, we can tell how well we expect a Republican to do given certain conditions.  However, the regressions are not perfect – the data don’t fall along the lines plotted.  There’s plenty of room for other factors to be involved.  We can use the differences between what we expect and what actually happened – the residuals – to tease out the effects of additional conditions.  Below, a pack of factors, from the most important – money, party, district – to the less important ones – incumbency, gerrymandering, longevity – to the more interesting ones – scandal and failure.

    Cross posted at Open Left and Daily Kos

    How do various factors affect a House candidate’s percentage of vote in the election?  All the following numbers relate to average effects.  Individual results may vary.

    The first four are the variables used to predict the expected performance:

    1.   High D/R Fundraising Ratio:  +15 points (about 5 points for every factor of 3 increase)

    On average, challengers running for a seat currently held by the opposite party will gain 15 points if they outraise their opponent by a factor of three compared to if they raise only one tenth of their opponent’s money, if all other factors are equal.  Note that the D/R Fundraising Ratio is fairly closely correlated to absolute amount of money raised by the challenger, so we can also say that challengers will greatly improve their performance if they raise a great deal of money, regardless of the incumbent’s fundraising.

    2.  Running as incumbent party:  +10 points

    Candidates running for a seat currently held by their own party (incumbents or open seat candidates) will gain, on average, 10 points compared to if they were running for a seat currently held by the opposite party, if all other factors (including D/R Fundraising Ratio) are the same.

    3.  Running in a more favorable district:  +10 points (1 point for every 3 point change in Bush’s vote in the district)

    Democrats running in the most liberal Republican-held districts (Bush vote 40-45%) will gain 10 points compared to Democrats running in the most conservative Republican-held districts (Bush vote 65-75%), if all other factors (including D/R Fundraising Ratio) are the same.  Democrats running in the moderately liberal Democratic-held districts (Bush vote 30-35%) will gain about 10 points compared to those running in the most conservative Democratic-held districts (Bush vote 60-65%).  

    4.  Political climate:  +6 points

    On average, Democratic challengers did 6 points better against Republican incumbents in 2006 compared to 2002 (4 points better than 2004) when accounting for D/R Fundraising Ratio and district partisan makeup.  Republican challengers did 4 points worse in 2006 compared to 2002.  In other words, Republican money was worth less in 2006 than in 2004 or 2002.  They had to raise more relative to their Democratic opponent to get the same result.

    The following comparisons are made by comparing actual performance to calculated performance, accounting for the four factors above: D/R Fundraising Ratio, district composition, incumbent party, and political climate.  The numbers given are average residuals of the regressions.  

    5.  Raising more than $2 million as a challenger: +3 points

    Remember, this is after accounting for D/R Fundraising Ratio.  If both candidates raise the same amount of money, dollar-for-dollar, then the more money a challenger raises, the better the challenger does.  A challenger who raises more than $2 million (and whose opponent also raises more than $2 million) increases performance by about 3 points compared to one who only raises $100,000 (and whose opponent also raises only $100,000).  In other words, high-spending races with fundraising parity are generally to the advantage of the challenger.  (This leads to the strange corollary that the more an incumbent raises given fundraising parity, the worse the incumbent does!) Let me note again, when we do not control for D/R Fundraising Ratio, a challenger who raises a large amount of money will do far, far better than one who raises little money.

    6.  Running as an incumbent:  + 2 points

    The inherent incumbent advantage after accounting for money, party, district, and climate is not large.  This doesn’t mean running against an incumbent is just as easy as running for an open seat.   However, the incumbency advantage may reside mainly in the ability to scare off opponents and scare off opponents’ donors and supporters.  If a challenger can manage to raise as much money as an incumbent, then the challenger has almost as good a shot as if the challenger were running for an open seat.  However, 2 points is still an important amount.

    7.  Running against a first-termer: +1 point

    First term incumbents are not much more inherently vulnerable than other incumbents, if at all.  Even those who are in a seat that switched parties.  This doesn’t mean first-termers are safe, because they are more likely to attract high quality opponents with strong fundraising.  When they do, however, they perform only slightly worse than a long-time incumbent under the same circumstances, on average.

    8.  Running against a self-funded candidate:  +1 point

    On average, running against a self-funded candidate might give a slight advantage.  However, out of the 18 cases I found over the past three cycles, four showed the self-funded candidate underperforming by a massive 8-10 points.  There may be a risk of completely blowing it by self-funding.

    9.  Running against a Republican incumbent in a Republican-gerrymandered district: +0 points

    Looking at some states that were recently redistricted by Republicans in a partisan manner – FL, PA, MI, OH, VA, TX – there has been no benefit in performance for the Republicans.  There may have been a slight benefit the first cycle after redistricting, followed by a slight underperformance later.  The gerrymandering may have scared off opponents and their donors, however, which would certainly have been an overall benefit for the Republicans.

    The following comparisons are specific to a just a few races, so we run into the problem of the statistics of small numbers, and can’t really say what the average effect is.  Also, in many of these races, the incumbent was tangled in more than one variety of misdeed.

    10.  Third party candidates:  0 to -15 points

    In 2006 there were 16 House races where third party candidates garnered more than 4.5 percent of the vote.  In 11 of these races the Republican underperformed by 4 or more points; in 6 races (2 in MN) the Democratic candidate underperformed by 4 or more points.

    11.  The Abramoff scandals:  -1 to -12 points  

    Republicans in districts with links to the Abramoff scandal all underperformed: TX-22 (-1),  FL-24 (-3), CA-4 (-4), AK-AL (-6), CA-11 (-7), and OH-18 (-12).

    12.  Alleged domestic abuse:  -5 to -6 points

    PA-10 (-6), NY-20 (-5):  Not the good kind of press.  

    13.  Threatenting your opponent:  -5 points

    WY-AL (-5), where Barbara Cubin told an opponent she’d slap him in the face if he weren’t in a wheelchair.  Cubin wasn’t well liked anyway though.

    14.  The Delay scandal:  +5 to -6 points

    TX-22 (-1), AZ-1 (-2), NC-8 (-6), PA-6 (+5).  Districts related to the Delay scandal don’t seem to have been affected too much, although the Delay scandal certainly affected the national climate.

    15.  The Foley scandal:  +1 to -3 points

    IL-14 (-2), IL-19 (+1), FL-16 (0), NY-26 (-3).  Again, no obvious severe penalty for those most closely related to the scandal or Foley’s replacement on the ballot, but the scandal contributed to the national political climate.

    Overall, these numbers seem to validate the strategy of supporting strong candidates in every district, against every incumbent.  While it is certainly much more difficult for Democratic challengers to win against an incumbent in a conservative district, it is not impossible.  It appears that with enough money, such races will often be competitive or near competitive in the current political climate.  Another way to put it is that the competitive races in conservative districts in 2006 -WY-AL for example- were not simply flukes or outliers, but rather part of a larger pattern that is likely to be repeated in 2008.  

    NM-Sen: Is Chavez trying to sabotage Udall?

    Cross-posted at Daily Kos under nmlib

    Most of you guys are probably aware that Mayor Martin Chavez has been attacking Congressman Tom Udall for a variety of things (most of which seem to come directly from Republican talking points). The only real thing which Chavez seems to be calling attention to which isn't a Republican talking point is his own Hispanic background (which he seems to imply that Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer, as well as Udall himself, are racists). Outside of his overemphasis of his Hispanic heritage (which, by the way, is an explotation of the Hispanic community), the only possible context for his attacks is to sabotage Udall's campaign.

    Many of you are probably thinking "this is crazy, why would he purposely do something which will destroy himself amongst the state Democratic party?" The answer is simple, he already has no future in the state.

    Let me put Chavez's history in the state into some perspective, he has already lost a statewide election to then-Governor Gary Johnson in 1998. He has always only barely won re-election as Mayor of Albuquerque (Albuquerque does have run-offs, but for some strange reason they only kick in when no candidate reaches 40%).

    Here's the story, Chavez feels that he is too good to run for the House in the first district, so that's off for him. Diane Denish is pretty much the favorite to win the primary and general for governor in 2010, so the governorship is gone for Chavez. The only other option would be to wait for 2012 when Jeff Bingaman could possibly retire (as many of you are aware, Schumer pretty much had to beg Bingaman to run for re-election), but my gut tells me that the real reason that Richardson isn't planning to run for this open seat is that he thinks that Bingaman will retire in 2012, so he can still run full-time for president while still having the opportunity to run for the senate later on.

    This senate race was probably the last chance for him to advance past being the mayor, and Udall's entrance pretty much destroyed any chance of that. Thus, Mayor Marty has probably decided that if he can't have the seat, he's going to try to bruise Udall up in the primaries as much as possible and attempt to make him a loser in the general.

    That's why it is critically important for us to pay attention to these slimy attacks and to make sure that New Mexicans understand that Martin Chavez is a washed-up, vindictive hack. I'd like to give major kudos to Kos, Plutonium Page, and New Mexico FBIHOP for calling attention to Chavez's right-wing (and racist) attacks, as well as a very big thanks to Alex Flores who has not only helped us in drafting Tom Udall for Senate, but continues to help raise money and awareness of Rep. Udall's stellar record as both Attorney General and Representative of New Mexico's third district.

    BTW, don't forget to donate to Udall's senate campaign.

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