SpiderDem’s House of Denial – Senate Edition

After seeing my prediction of 32 House seat pickups for the Republicans yesterday, most of you probably think I’m a lunatic.  Well I’m just getting warmed up.  

In the Senate, here’s what I’m confident of.  First, Republicans will pick up no fewer than four seats: AR, IN, ND, and WI.  Second, Republicans will not pick up more than eight, which is confirmed by Charlie Cook of all people.  So the question becomes who wins seats five through eight: CO, IL, NV, and PA.  And what does a Democrat in deep denial say to that?  Clean sweep, baby.  Democrats win all four seats, and drop four seats total.

Why, you ask?  The only good reason I can give is that Democrats have varying degrees of boots on the ground, GOTV advantages in all of these states.  Otherwise, the answer is self-delusion and an inability to cope with anything worse.  And as a side note, for the time being, I am discounting the possibility of a surprise pickup in Alaska, although I hope for it more than anything.  I think Murkowski will win there.

Without further ado, here are my predictions:

AK – Murkowski (WI) 40, McAdams (D) 30, Miller (R) 28 – Not quite feeling the McMagic.

AL – Shelby (R) 64, Barnes (D) 36 – Shelby probably safe until he retires.

AR – Boozman (R) 56, Lincoln (D) 40 – For all that happened, losing this seat may have been inevitable.

AZ – McCain (R) 57, Glassman (D) 38 – Remember how J.D. Hayworth was going to take out McCain?

CA – Boxer (D) 49, Fiorina (R) 44 – If Cook says it’s over for Team Red, it’s over.

CO – Bennet (D) 49, Buck (R) 48 – Dems apparently pleased with the early voting results.

CT – Blumenthal (D) 55, McMahon (R) 43 – McMahon may as well have lit her millions on fire.

DE – Coons (D) 56, O’Donnell (R) 42 – Amazing that O’Donnell seems somewhat likely to reach 40%.

FL – Rubio (R) 45, Crist (I) 36, Meek (D) 16 – Rubio on cruise control here.

GA – Isakson (R) 60, Thurmond (D) 36 – Isakson appears to have blown the barn doors off of this.

HI – Inouye (D) 61, Cavasso (R) 35 – Not buying Rasmussen’s massive enthusiasm gap.

IA – Grassley (R) 61, Conley (D) 38 – Wrong cycle for nice Democratic recruit.

ID – Crapo (R) 72, Sullivan (D) 26 – Not a serious challenge at all.

IL – Giannoulias (D) 47, Kirk (R) 46 – Dems work magic with base turnout.

IN – Coats (R) 57, Ellsworth (D) 40 – Wonder if Bayh would have held this one in the end.

KS – Moran (R) 66, Johnston (D) 32 – Dems will be blown out across the board in Kansas.

KY – Paul (R) 55, Conway (D) 45 – Oh what might have been in this one.

LA – Vitter (R) 51, Melancon (D) 41 – Sadly Melancon is about the best LA Dems can do.

MD – Mikulski (D) 58, Wargotz (R) 39 – No problem here for Mikulski.

MO – Blunt (R) 53, Carnahan (D) 45 – Carnahan can win a big statewide race in a better cycle.

NC – Burr (R) 54, Marshall (D) 42 – Marshall never really had the resources to compete.

ND – Hoeven (R) 70, Potter (D) 28 – Glad we didn’t have to watch Dorgan go up in flames.

NH – Ayotte (R) 55, Hodes (D) 41 – I don’t think Hodes would have beaten Lamontagne either.

NV – Reid (D) 47, Angle (R) 45 – I’m going with Jon Ralston all the way here.

NY-A – Schumer (D) 63, Townsend (R) 35 – This one was never in question.

NY-B – Gillibrand (D) 60, DioGuardi (R) 37 – Remember all those weird polls in the low single digits?

OH – Portman (R) 57, Fisher (D) 39 – Everyone’s favorite Kamikaze A-wing pilot goes down hard.

OK – Coburn (R) 69, Rogers (D) 29 – Coburn will get to continue rooting out OK’s lesbian problem.

OR – Wyden (D) 57, Huffman (R) 39 – A lesser Dem would be in a dogfight here.

PA – Sestak (D) 50, Toomey (R) 50 – Democratic machine pulls out all the stops for Joe.

SC – Demint (R) 63, Greene (D) 24 – What a fiasco for South Carolina Dems.

SD – Thune (R) unopposed.

UT – Lee (R) 65, Granato (D) 31 – Utah just might be a tough place for a Dem to win this year.

VT – Leahy (D) 65, Britton (R) 32 – No contest for Leahy.

WA – Murray (D) 53, Rossi (R) 47 – If Cook says it’s over for Team Red, it’s over.

WI – Johnson (R) 52, Feingold (D) 46 – Washington needs more Russ Feingolds, not less.

WV – Manchin (D) 51, Raese (R) 46 – If Cook says it’s over for Team Red, it’s over.

Senate Cattle Call (September 2010)

It’s high time that we dust off our community cattle calls – we haven’t put up a thread like this since April. Whoops! But I can assure you that this won’t be our last cattle call of the election season.

The traditional rules still apply: In the comments, rank the Senate seats that are up this year in order of likelihood of flipping from one party to the other. The traditional SSP way is to include seats held by both parties in a single list (separate lists make comparisons harder). Go as far down the list as you like. Have at it!

My Little Senate Predictions

Step right up and get your Senate predictions!

Overall, I expect things to level out where they are now nationally, or perhaps tighten just a hair in favor of the Dems due to better resources and saner candidates.  I have six seats flipping to the Republicans, with none flipping to the Democrats.

1. North Dakota – Hoeven (R) 67, Potter (D) 31 – Even Harry Potter couldn’t pull this off.

2. Arkansas – Boozman (R) 57, Lincoln (D) 40 – This was gone anyway, but divisive primary didn’t help.

3. Indiana – Coats (R) 54, Ellsworth (D) 44 – Thanks Evan.  Nice goin’ dude.

4. Delaware – Castle (R) 54, Coons (D) 45 – On September 14, we are all part of the Tea Party Express.

5. Pennsylvania – Toomey (R) 50, Sestak (D) 47 – Should tighten but too deep a hole for Sestak.

6. Colorado – Buck (R) 49, Bennet (D) 47 – Holding out hope on this one, but I’ve had it flipping all along.

7. Florida – Rubio (R) 40, Crist (I) 37, Meek (D) 20 – Increase in Meek strength may ruin Crist’s chances.

8. Illinois – Giannoulias (D) 48, Kirk (R) 45 – Logical that Illinois will pick detested Dem over detested GOPer.

9. Nevada – Reid (D) 48, Angle (R) 44 – None of the Above runs up the score in this stinker.

10. Washington – Murray (D) 52, Rossi (R) 48 – Primary result made me feel better about Murray.

11. California – Boxer (D) 49, Fiorina (R) 44 – Can’t see Fiorina making the sale to blue electorate.

12. Wisconsin – Feingold (D) 52, Johnson (R) 47 – Johnson looking more like a yahoo every day.  

13. Kentucky – Paul (R) 52, Conway (D) 47 – State may be too red to beat even unconventional Paul.

14. Ohio – Portman (R) 52, Fisher (D) 46 – Dem prospects in Ohio, like many residents, headed south.

15. Missouri – Blunt (R) 52, Carnahan (D) 46 – Really bad environment here for Dems.

16. Louisiana – Vitter (R) 51, Melancon (D) 42 – Third party candidates steal votes from Vitter.

17. Connecticut – Blumenthal (D) 53, McMahon (R) 44 – McMahon spending keeps it reasonable.

18. North Carolina – Burr (R) 53, Marshall (D) 44 – Marshall lack of resources prevents closer race.

19. New Hampshire – Ayotte (R) 53, Hodes (D) 43 – This one hasn’t looked competitive for awhile.

20. Alaska – Miller (R) 53, McAdams (D) 43 –  Relatively strong Obama approval in AK perplexing.

21. West Virginia – Manchin (D) 56, Raese (R) 41 – Cannot believe Gov with 70% approval in trouble.

22. Georgia – Isakson (R) 58, Thurmond (D) 40 – Decent recruit in Thurmond loses due to environment.

23. Iowa – Grassley (R) 59, Conlin (D) 40 – Another good recruit bites the dust due to bad environment.

24. New York (B) – Gillibrand (D) 60, DioGuardi (R) 39 – New York looks rock solid statewide.

25. Arizona – McCain (R) 59, Glassman (D) 37 – Primary damages McCain only a little.

26. Oregon – Wyden (D) 60, Huffman (R) 35 – Wyden may have been vulnerable if targeted.

27. Maryland – Mikulski (D) 63, Wargotz (R) 34 – No trouble for Mikulski in deep blue Maryland.

28. Alabama – Shelby (R) 66, Barnes (D) 34 – Shelby has incredible warchest, won’t need to use it.

29. Kansas – Moran (R) 65, Johnston (D) 32 – Blowout in open seat race.

30. Oklahoma – Coburn (R) 65, Rogers (D) 31 – Could be even worse.

31. Vermont – Leahy (D) 65, Britton (R) 31 – Non-serious challenge for entrenched Leahy.

32. New York (A) – Shumer (D) 67, Townsend (R) 32 – Big sweep across the top of NY ticket.

33. Utah – Lee (R) 69, Granato (D) 29 – Utah gets its first Teabagger Senator.

34. Hawaii – Inouye (D) 69, Cavasso (R) 27 – Inouye an institution in Hawaii.

35. Idaho – Crapo (R) 71, Sullivan (D) 27 – Crapo breaks 70% against unfunded candidate.

36. South Carolina – Demint (R) 69, Greene (D) 23 – Could anyone be less deserving of this political gift?

37. South Dakota – Thune (R) 100, Nobody (D) 0 – Really, we couldn’t get anybody?

Shark Jumping Senate Predictions

Below are my death-defying, shark jumping Senate predictions.  Same method as my Governor predictions of days ago.  Only one major change from my prior Senate predictions, which is Harry Reid jumping out to a strong lead over Sharron Angle.  This leaves Democrats down two Senate seats, with Republicans picking up AR, CO, DE, IN, and ND, and Dems picking up FL, KY, and MO.  It is not lost on me that this is a very optimistic prediction, but it is what I really think is going to happen in my completely biased, die-hard Democratic little head.

AK – Murkowski (R) 60, McAdams (D) 34 – Would love to see GOP primary polling here.

AL – Shelby (R) 64, Barnes (D) 36 – Shelby will not need to break into his eight figure war chest.

AR – Boozman (R) 54, Lincoln (D) 43 – Lincoln has lots of $$$ and still a lot of Dems in AR.

AZ – McCain (R) 56, Glassman (D) 40 – McCain’s primary troubles have all but faded away.

CA – Boxer (D) 51, Fiorina (R) 45 -Boxer Q2 fundraising gives me confidence.

CO – Buck (R) 50, Bennet (D) 47 – Colorado still a pretty conservative state.

CT – Blumenthal (D) 56, McMahon (R) 43 – Blumenthal’s troubles way behind him.

DE – Castle (R) 53, Coons (D) 46 – Would love to see some GOP primary polling here.

FL – Crist (I) 42, Rubio (R) 39, Greene (D) 17 – Crist Q2 fundraising as an Indy was lights out.

GA – Isakson (R) 56, Thurmond (D) 42 – Barnes at top of ticket helps Thurmond keep it respectable.

HI – Inouye (D) 65, Roco (R) 33 – Should be no trouble for Inouye.

IA – Grassley (R) 57, Conlin (D) 42 – Strong recruit but not the year to take out Grassley.

ID – Crapo (R) 68, Sullivan (D) 30 – Crapo may break 70% here.

IL – Giannoulias (D) 49, Kirk (R) 45 – What a couple of pieces of work these guys are.

IN – Coats (R) 55, Ellsworth (D) 43 – Ellsworth Q2 fundraising was pretty lame.

KS – Moran (R) 64, Johnston (D) 33 – Johnston the surprising Dem primary leader.

KY – Conway (D) 50, Paul (R) 47 – Could Paul be any clearer that he doesn’t give a rip about the working man?

LA – Vitter (R) 48, Melancon (D) 47 – Third party conservative candidates keep this one very close.

MD – Mikulski (D) 64, Wargotz (R) 34 – Polling confirms big Mikulski lead.

MO – Carnahan (D) 51, Blunt (R) 48 – Classic close MO election.  Carnahan cleans up in KC and STL.

NC – Burr (R) 51, Marshall (D) 46 – Libertarian candidate helps keep this pretty close.

ND – Hoeven (R) 66, Potter (D) 32 – Hoeven could break 70% in an open seat race.

NH – Ayotte (R) 53, Hodes (D) 42 – Hodes has shown very little promise as a statewide candidate so far.

NV – Reid (D) 49, Angle (R) 41 – I never imagined Angle would be THIS much of a gift.

NY (A) – Schumer (D) 65, Townsend (R) 34 – Polling confirms big Schumer lead.

NY (B) – Gillibrand (D) 60, DioGuardi (R) 39 – Gillibrand taking nothing for granted with big Q2 haul.

OH – Portman (R) 49, Fisher (D) 48 – Why can’t Fisher raise money?  Is it all going to Strickland?

OK – Coburn (R) 68, Miles (D) 30 – At least we found some dudes to run against Coburn.

OR – Wyden (D) 59, Huffman (R) 39 – Polling looking good for Wyden after some scary Ras numbers.

PA – Sestak (D) 51, Toomey (R) 46 – Huge Q2 haul for Toomey a little daunting.  Pick it up, Joe!

SC – Demint (R) 74, Greene (D) 18, Clements (G) 8 – What … a … fiasco.

SD – Thune (R) unopposed – How could SD Dems not find a warm body to face freshman Thune?

UT – Lee (R) 65, Granato (D) 33 – Dems won’t be making any noise in Utah this cycle.

VT – Leahy (D) 61, Britton (R) 35 – Third party progressive candidates only thing keeping it this close.

WA – Murray (D) 51, Rossi (R) 47 – Wonder if Didier is making any headway in the primary.

WI – Feingold (D) 51, Johnson (R) 48 – We all love Feingold, but was he ever the best fit for WI?

WV – Manchin (D) 62, Ireland (R) 38 – May be generous to Ireland.  Capito sounds afraid to run.

Senate Cattle Call (April 2010)

It’s time we got back in the habit of doing community cattle calls – we haven’t done one for the Senate in a year. Click that link to see how much things have changed since then.

In case you haven’t done one of these before, rank the senate seats that are up this year in order of likelihood of flipping from one party to the other. The traditional SSP way is to include seats held by both parties in a single list (separate lists make comparisons harder). Go as far down the list as you like. If you need some food for thought, check out Swing State’s senate race ratings. Have fun!

The Senate – a best case scenario

In light of today’s USA Today/Gallup polling on healthcare, Democrats will, of course, hold all 18 seats that they are defending this cycle, so we don’t need to talk about those.

Phase I – The wimps bailing out because the Republicans are DOOMED

A. Missouri – Missourians who are giving Roy Blunt competitive poll numbers right now wake up and realize, “Wait, this is Roy Blunt.”  Carnahan by 23%.

B. Ohio – Jennifer Brunner wins the primary and the general in spite of having a war chest of $1.47.  It is the ultimate grassroots campaign, with her immediate family and friends holding up signs written with magic marker on cardboard boxes in various parts of the state.  Brunner by 18%.

C. New Hampshire – Binnie, Lamontagne, and Ayotte have a three-way tie in the Republican primary, which is decided by a poker game.  Lamontagne wins, and Binnie and Ayotte both endorse Hodes and claim that Lamontagne cheats at cards.  Hodes by 17%.

D. Kentucky – Paul and Conway win the primaries.  Conway oppo researchers discover that Paul was an extra in Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” video, costing him 20% of his vote.  Conway by 13%.

E. Kansas – Having now insured every American, Sebelius heads back to Kansas and beats down on Jerry Moran.  Sebelius by 11%.

F. Florida – Crist switches parties but loses the Democratic primary.  He runs as the Coffee Party candidate, and Meek beats Rubio.  Meek by 9%.

G. Texas – KBH drops out.  Sharp raises shitloads of scrilla and beats Kinky Friedman, who wins the Republican nomination.  Sharp by 8%.

Phase II – Republicans in diapers.

A. Louisiana – Much like Missouri, Louisiana wakes up and collectively says, “This guy wears fucking diapers.”  Melancon by 14%.

At this point, GOPVOTER and INRepublican are shitting bricks, but hang in there guys!

Phase III – Republican incumbents who nobody in the state has ever heard of

A. North Carolina – Elaine Marshall wins this race because Burr has only 11% name recognition on election day.  Marshall by 6%.

Phase IV – Democrat recruiting successes

A. South Carolina – Stephen Colbert gets on the ballot as a Democrat and destroys DeMint.  Colbert by 34%.

B. Alaska – Two words: Mike Gravel.  Gravel by 27%.

C. Georgia – Jimmy Carter launches the greatest political comeback in history.  It’s been claimed as unlikely that Jimmy Carter will challenge Johnny Isakson.  But that’s what they said about John Hoeven and Mike Castle.  Carter by 13%.

Phase V – Batshit crazy incumbents

A. Oklahoma – Coburn reiterates that lesbians making out in bathrooms is the #1 thing on his mind – I mean the #1 problem for Oklahoma.  His position on the subject brings his approval ratings near 0%, and he is defeated by Oklahoma’s first lesbian Senator – carpetbagger Rosie O’Donnell.  O’Donnell by 3%.

Phase VI – Old men yelling at clouds

A. Iowa – Grassley adopts “get off my lawn” as a campaign slogan.  It does not resonate.  Conlin by 5%.

B. Arizona – J.D. Hayworth handily defeats McCain in the primary.  Arizona Republicans all collectively think, “WTF did we just do?”  Glassman by 21%.

Phase VII – Party switching bastards

A. Alabama – Alabama tea partiers realize that Shelby used to be a Democrat.  They all write in Judge Roy Moore.  Parker Griffith switches back to the Democrats to run for Senate.  Griffith by 17%.

This leaves the Republicans holding 3 (ID, UT, and SD) of the 19 seats they are defending.  Democrats have a 75-25 majority in the Senate, and still can’t break a filibuster on any significant issue.

Rasmussen is dominating the narratives through his frenetic polling.

So I’ve gotten the feeling that our prospects in the Senate have been sinking recently, even more so than during the last quarter of 2009.  So I asked myself, “Why do I have that feeling?”  And then I went back and looked.  The answer in more cases than not is Scott Rasmussen.

I’m not saying Rasmussen is a bad pollster.  In fact, he may just be ahead of the curve in terms of predicting what may be a dismal Democratic turnout in 2010.  But he is an incredibly frequent pollster, and his polls have dominated the narratives in many of these races as a result of their sheer frequency.  

Here are the races rated by Cook as Lean Retention or better for the challenger:

(1) ND-OPEN – Hoeven’s dominance here has been tracked by several pollsters.  Not a case in point.

(2) DE-OPEN – The proposition that Castle v. Coons is a washout is based on a single Rasmussen poll taken January 25 showing a 56-27 Castle lead.  There is no other recent polling.

(3) AR-Lincoln – Ras is at least corroborated by PPP in showing Lincoln’s sorry ass getting blown out.

(4) NV-Reid – Much like Arkansas, PPP corroborates Rasmussen’s solid R leads.

(5) CO-Bennet – All of the gloom and doom in this race comes from two recent Rasmussen polls showing double-digit leads for Norton over Bennet.  Research 2000 actually showed a small lead for Bennet only a month ago.  

(6) PA-Specter – Again, the gloom and doom here comes from two recent Rasmussen polls showing 9-point leads for Toomey over Specter.  Quinnipiac showed an even race on December 8.

(7) IL-OPEN – Once again, the gloom and doom here comes from a single Rasmussen poll showing Kirk up 6, which was directly contradicted by a PPP poll just a week prior showing Giannoulias up 8.

(8) MO-OPEN – Yet again, more gloom and doom exclusively from Rasmussen, showing Blunt up 7 and 6.  Every non-Rasmussen poll has Carnahan ahead.

(9) OH-OPEN – Again, the narrative that Portman is winning comes from Rasmussen, although Quinnipiac had a 3-point Portman lead back in November.  

(10) NH-OPEN – Several polls have corroborated Rasmussen’s high single digit lead for Ayotte over Hodes, so this is not a case in point.

(11) KY-OPEN – Like New Hampshire, Rasmussen’s polling showing high single single digit leads for Republicans is corroborated by other pollsters here.

(12) IN-Bayh – The only reason that this race is viewed as competitive as far as I can see is a Rasmussen poll that showed Mike Pence up on Bayh and John Hostettler within 3.  Today, Research 2000 showed Bayh up 16 on Hostettler and 20 on Indiana-hating Dan Coats.  Cook has now moved this from Safe D to Lean D, presumably based largely on Rasmussen.

(13) CA-Boxer – Kind of like Indiana.  The main reason this race is viewed as competitive is Rasmussen’s polling, starting in July when Ras showed a 4-point race with Fiorina while others showed 15 to 20 point leads.  In fairness to Ras, a recent PPIC poll showed Tom Campbell within 4, giving some corroboration for Ras’s take.  But nobody else has had Fiorina closer than 8.  Cook has had this at Lean D for some time, and I suspect that was partly based on the July Rasmussen poll.

(14) CT-OPEN – Ras shows a pretty solid Blumenthal blowout, although less so than other pollsters.  Not a case in point.

I am using Wikipedia to track polling, and may be missing some polls.  Please correct me if I am mischaracterizing anything.

Of these 14 races, I would say that Rasmussen has had a stranglehold on the recent gloom and doom narratives in 7: DE, CO, PA, IL, MO, OH, and IN.  Put another way, I have been led to the subconscious belief that we are going to lose the first 6, and be in for a dogfight in IN, strictly based on Rasmussen polling.  I would also put CA in pretty close to the same category as IN, although PPIC did recently confirm a close race with Campbell at least.

I do not think this is an accident.  I do not remember this kind of frenetic pace from Rasmussen before Obama took office.  SSP recently suggested Rasmussen has gotten so prolific that he could be called “spammy.”  My gut tells me Ras is getting as many polls out there as he can precisely so that he can dominate the narratives with his polls and their aggressive turnout model.  Combine this with his right wing framing on issue polling, his inexplicable use of an aggressive likely voter screen for presidential approval three years before the election, his haste to poll Republican “dream” candidates, and his frequent yucking it up with conservative talking heads, and you’ve got yourself a Republican cheerleader trying to influence elections rather than study them.  Again, his polls may be right.  But his transparent efforts to drive the narrative seem very partisan to me.

End of Quarter Fundraising Push for Democratic Candidates for Senate

{First, a cheap plug for my blog Senate Guru.}

The last day of the third fundraising quarter of 2009 (whoa, time really flies!) is this Wednesday, September 30.  Our Democratic candidates for Senate need to make as big a fundraising splash as possible in the third quarter to help refute the growing conventional wisdom among the traditional media pundits that 2010 could be a Republican year.

Please, please, please consider making a contribution today to our Democratic candidates for Senate via the Expand the Map! ActBlue page.  I’ve set some lofty, pie-in-the-sky goals that, if we were able to meet them, I’d be wonderfully surprised and gratified and blown away by your generosity.

Democrat Currently At
Distance to Goal
Robin Carnahan
Paul Hodes
Joe Sestak
Charlie Melancon

Please click on over to the Expand the Map! ActBlue page and make a contribution to help stop ongoing Republican obstruction in the Senate.  Every contribution makes a real impact whether it’s $100 or $25 or $10 or, well, any amount.  Want to rebel against multiples of five and contribute $63 or $39 or $27, knock yourself out!

Remember, the fundraising quarter ends this Wednesday, so please contribute today if you can.  Thank you SO much!

FL-Sen, FL-Gov: The Dream Scenario

Dream scenarios almost never happen in politics.  But this is America, and if you didn’t learn last year that ANYTHING can happen in American politics you might as well hang up your hat now.  That said, I’m looking at the dream scenario that could play out in Florida next year.  I should say though, I’M NOT SAYING THAT THIS WILL HAPPEN!  I hate it when folks talk with absolute certainty about what can and can’t or will and won’t happen.  What I’m saying is, this is a POSSIBILITY and if it doesn’t happen, at least we had the dream.  If it does happen though, it will be fantastic.

So, here’s the scenario:  Crist runs for Senate, loses the primary to Marco Rubio, and the Senate race and the governorship both flip to our side.

How could this happen?

First, let’s look at the Governor’s race, as I don’t think there’s much argument that, if Crist gets out, it will be competitive.

The Democratic candidate is a no brainer: Florida CFO Alex Sink, who would be an incredibly strong candidate.  The Republican frontrunner would, presumably, be Florida AG Bill McCollum, but there’s the rub.  There are a ton of Republicans that could jump in if Crist bails: Ag. Commissioner Charlie Bronson, Former House Speaker Allan Bense, Lt. Gov Jeff Kottkamp (who’s in some legal trouble), and potentially some congresscritters.  A one on one race between Sink and the eventual nominee would remain a tossup to the end, but a brutal Republican primary…that would make it just that much easier for Florida to elect it’s first female governor, and an incredibly competent and skillfull one at that.

Now, to the Senate race and the scenario that could play out.

There is a formula for Rubio to defeat Crist.  It’s not a guarantee, but here it is:

1) Solidify support from the teabaggers and their ilk.  These folks are already pissed at Crist over the stimulus and a few other policies he’s pushed and the rage in the Republican ranks is growing only louder and crazier.  All Rubio has to do is start popping up at tea parties and laying in a few punches and he’ll get some momentum going.  From there, it’s easy to see him appearing on the right wing outlets-Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh, etc. and landing major support that will help tremendously in the primary.

2) Solidify the right-wing Cuban support.  Now, let me be clear here, I fully believe that being a member of a group no way guarantees the votes of the members of said group.  I’m talking about the right-wing Cuban noise machine here that’s been making south Florida’s politics toxic for decades.  Obviously, Rubio has plenty of windows to open here, but that said this whole thing would unravel if major figures from that machine like the Diaz-Balart brothers got solidly into the Crist camp.  If Rubio wants to win though, or even if he wants to look serious, he needs to poll well among Latino (specifically Cuban) Republicans.  I have no idea where Crist stands on Cuba, but all it will take is one slip, or even the suggestion that he might vote wrong on the issue.  Hell, if he doesn’t say anything or gets mealy-mouthed he’ll lose out here.  So there’s definately an oppurtunity for Rubio.

3) Enter the CFG.  The Club for Growth is already talking up Rubio and are furious with Crist over the stimulus.  They’ve been great at bombing races with tons of money and even when they weren’t successful in the primary they’ve often doomed the chances of the more moderate winner.  They’ll definately be a major factor here.

4) Keep the momentum going.  If Rubio locks up support from these major players in the primary, generates media buzz and decent fundraising (he doesn’t have to beat Crist’s numbers, the CFG will do that.  He just has to raise a decent amount and stay competitive), and doesn’t screw up, he can build on this strategy.  If he got the NRA endorsement it would help him tremendously, especially in the panhandle.  He could also get support from religious right groups who would be all too happy to take on a closet case like Crist in the primary.  And speaking of which, there’s always the major shadow hanging over Charlie boy.  At some point his sexuality is going to catch up with him at some point, the only question is when it will happen and how bad will the explosion be.

Like I said, I’m not saying this scenario will play out.  At best I’d say it’s got a 1 in 5 chance, maybe a 1 in 4.  Hell, Rubio could turn out to be blowing smoke and just jump into the Gov. race if Crist gets in.  But if he’s not, we shouldn’t write this one off just yet.  If Rubio does win in will be narrowly, and he’ll have pushed himself so far to the right that it will be much easier to defeat him than it would be if he won without facing Crist in the primary.  If you’ve ever seen Rubio speak, you know he comes off as an ordinary guy, very conservative but still likeable-the worst kind there is.  A divisive primary though will come back to haunt him and, who knows, even if Crist were to win he might be so bloodied as to be unreconizable, giving our eventual nominee (whoever it is, though right now I don’t see how it’s not Congressman Meek) an opening.

This one isn’t out of contention by a long shot yet.  This could happen.  It’s not the most likely scenario in the world, but it’s still a very real possibility.

King (R-NY) of Convenience

(Cross posted from 21st Century Democrats)

You can search this nation far and wide and still wind up with very few elected moderate Republicans. As I've discussed before, the Republican tent is shrinking: those who don't subscribe to a narrow set of backward ideas are pushed out. Some have reacted courageously, like the trio of Republican moderates who voted for the stimulus bill. Some however, take the convenient route. Case in point: New York congressman Peter King, who represents the moderate 3rd district, was an original co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act in 2003. This was back when President Bush was certain to veto the bill if it passed, so King hopped on board, appeased the unions in his home district, and kept everyone content. Now that we have a President who supports the measure, King has jumped off the wagon. From his official statement:

“I do not, however, intend to support EFCA in this Congress. Our country is facing its most severe economic crisis in 75 years. It is a crisis different from previous recessions in that it includes restricted credit, massive job loss, a plunging stock market and increased foreclosures and bankruptcies. Virtually every component of our economy is suffering. While I am confident we will recover, I believe the road ahead will be long and difficult. Under these conditions, I have concluded that the Employee Free Choice Act would be too severe a shock to our economy at this time and would be counterproductive.

 He concludes the statement with a telling sentence: “I will continue, of course, to monitor the situation but that is my current thinking.” From that statement, you might actually think that Congressman King is going to monitor the economic situation. However, what he's really going to be watching are his chances to defeat Kirsten Gillibrand in the 2010 Senate race (Gillibrand is a 21st Century Democrats endorsee and a strong Employee Free Choice supporter). As we've heard, NRSC Chairman John Cornyn is reaching back in time for his 2010 candidates, and he seems to have his sights set on former-Governor George Pataki. If Peter King wants Party money for his Senate bid, he needs to look like the “better Republican.” It'll be Pataki vs. King in a beauty contest of conservatism. He can't be doing things like – gasp – protecting the rights of working people. It would be so un-Republican of him. And while we're at it, let's talk about the idea that the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act would be a “shock” to our economy in these troubled times. Look, the economy is already shocked; working families are shocked by the $2,000 on average that disappeared from their income between 2001 and 2007. The bill does NOT get rid of the option for the NRLB secret ballot election, even though the current election system is rife with flaws. And despite popular belief, when management and labor bargain on equal terms, it helps the workers as well as the management. Just ask this group of 40 leading economists, including two Nobel laureates, who put a full page ad in the Washington Post last month supporting the bill.

Peter King isn't watching the economic situation. He's watching John Cornyn and George Pataki, and he's watching Senator Gillibrand's poll numbers to see if he has a shot at her seat.Meanwhile, Politico reports that numerous Freshman Democrats are voting for the bill despite their electoral vulnerability. There's something to be said for political courage: not everyone has it.

by Doug Foote