My Predictions for 2010

At long last, I have finished making predictions, this time mixing my “gut feeling” predictions from earlier with the formula prediction methods I had used since 2006. I found the dearth of House polls very annoying, so many of my House predictions could be way off. We shall see in 12 or so hours.


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Alabama: Bentley by 15.33%

Alaska: Parnell by 15.67%

Arizona: Brewer by 15%

Arkansas: Beebe by 25.67%

California: Brown by 14.33%

Colorado: Hickenlooper by 3.67%

Connecticut: Malloy by 5.67%

Florida: Sink by 1.67%

Georgia: Deal by 7.67%

Hawaii: Abercrombie by 5%

Idaho: Otter by 22%

Illinois: Brady by 4.67%

Iowa: Branstad by 10.5%

Kansas: Brownback by 27%

Maine: LePage by 11.33%

Maryland: O’Malley by 12.67%

Massachusetts: Patrick by 2.67%

Michigan: Snyder by 16.67%

Minnesota: Dayton by 1.33%

Nebraska: Heineman by 42%

Nevada: Sandoval by 15.67%

New Hampshire: Lynch by 8.33%

New Mexico: Martinez by 8.33%

New York: Cuomo by 22%

Ohio: Strickland by 1%

Oklahoma: Fallin by 18.5%

Oregon: Kitzhaber by 1.67%

Pennsylvania: Corbett by 9%

Rhode Island: Chafee by 8%

South Carolina: Haley by 8.33%

South Dakota: Daugaard by 13.67%

Tennessee: Haslam by 28%

Texas: Perry by 1%

Utah: Herbert by 25.33%

Vermont: Shumlin by 2%

Wisconsin: Walker by 8.67%

Wyoming: Mead by 36%

OVERALL: Republicans gain a net of 5 for the majority of governorships, 27-22-1


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Alabama: Shelby by 28%

Alaska: McAdams by 0.67% (Miller in 2nd; Murkowski in 3rd)

Arizona: McCain by 23%

Arkansas: Boozman by 19.67%

California: Boxer by 6.67%

Colorado: Buck by 1%

Connecticut: Blumenthal by 8%

Delaware: Coons by 14%

Florida: Rubio by 16%

Georgia: Isakson by 25.67%

Hawaii: Inouye by 24.5%

Idaho: Crapo by 44%

Illinois: Kirk by 4.33%

Indiana: Coats by 10.33%

Iowa: Grassley by 31%

Kansas: Moran by 40%

Kentucky: Paul by 3.18%

Louisiana: Vitter by 5.87%

Maryland: Mikulski by 26.67%

Missouri: Robin Carnahan by 0.67%

Nevada: Reid by 0.67%

New Hampshire: Ayotte by 15%

New York A: Schumer by 28.67%

New York B: Gillibrand by 18.33%

North Carolina: Burr by 12.33%

North Dakota: Hoeven by 47%

Ohio: Portman by 9.83%

Oklahoma: Coburn by 40%

Oregon: Wyden by 15.33%

Pennsylvania: Toomey by 4.67%

South Carolina: DeMint by 42% (The Green candidate may get more votes than the Greene candidate.)

South Dakota: Thune by 70-90%

Utah: Lee by 25.33%

Vermont: Leahy by 35%

Washington: Murray by 1.88%

West Virginia: Manchin by 1.33%

Wisconsin: Johnson by 7.67%

OVERALL: Republicans gain a net of 5, but Democrats retain control 54-46


Light Blue = D+1; Light Red = R+1; Red = R+2; Medium-Dark Red = R+3; Dark Red = R+4; Very Dark Red = R+5

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AL-02: Bright by 3.75%

AZ-01: Gosar by 4% (R pickup)

AZ-03: Hulburd by 1.17% (D pickup)

AZ-05: Schweikert by 0.67% (R pickup)

AZ-07: Grijalva by 4.08%

AZ-08: Giffords by 6.12%

AR-01: Crawford by 5.56% (R pickup)

AR-02: Griffin by 11% (R pickup)

CA-03: Lungren by 3.75%

CA-11: McNerney by 2.75%

CA-18: Cardoza by 10.75%

CA-20: Costa by 2.87%

CA-44: Calvert by 13.17%

CA-45: Bono Mack by 15%

CA-47: Sanchez by 8.25%

CO-03: Salazar by 1.25%

CO-04: Gardner by 3.58% (R pickup)

CT-04: Himes by 2.42%

CT-05: Murphy by 4.17%

DE-AL: Carney by 9.83% (D pickup)

FL-02: Southerland by 9.25% (R pickup)

FL-08: Webster by 3.25% (R pickup)

FL-22: Klein by 0.94%

FL-24: Adams by 6.25% (R pickup)

FL-25: Rivera by 3%

GA-02: Bishop by 2.67%

GA-08: Scott by 12.5% (R pickup)

HI-01: Hanabusa by 2.17% (D pickup)

ID-01: Minnick by 2.42%

IL-10: Seals by 7.6% (D pickup)

IL-11: Kinzinger by 5.13% (R pickup)

IL-14: Hultgren by 0.31% (R pickup)

IL-17: Schilling by 2.63% (R pickup)

IN-02: Donnelly by 4.38%

IN-08: Buschon by 8.75% (R pickup)

IN-09: Hill by 0.52%

IA-01: Braley by 10%

IA-02: Loebsack by 8.75%

IA-03: Boswell by 8.07%

KS-03: Yoder by 10% (R pickup)

KY-03: Yarmuth by 10.5%

KY-06: Chandler by 3.69%

LA-02: Richmond by 11.83% (D pickup)

LA-03: Landry by 12.25% (R pickup)

ME-01: Pingree by 12.42%

MD-01: Harris by 4.92% (R pickup)

MA-10: Keating by 2.63%

MI-01: Benishek by 2.71% (R pickup)

MI-07: Schauer by 0.44%

MI-09: Peters by 3.88%

MN-01: Walz by 10.42%

MN-08: Oberstar by 4.88%

MS-01: Childers by 0.88%

MS-04: Taylor by 2.69%

MO-03: Russ Carnahan by 5.63%

NV-03: Titus by 0.33%

NH-01: Guinta by 10.25% (R pickup)

NH-02: Bass by 0.08% (R pickup)

NJ-03: Runyan by 1.13% (R pickup)

NM-01: Barela by 0.63% (R pickup)

NM-02: Pearce by 4.83% (R pickup)

NY-01: Bishop by 7.56%

NY-13: McMahon by 7.5%

NY-19: Hayworth by 1.02% (R pickup)

NY-20: Gibson by 3.46% (R pickup)

NY-23: Owens by 0.88%

NY-24: Arcuri by 3.31%

NY-25: Maffei by 6.58%

NY-29: Zeller by 12.5% (R pickup)

NC-02: Etheridge by 2.5%

NC-07: McIntyre by 3.75%

NC-08: Kissell by 2.38%

NC-11: Shuler by 11.88%

ND-AL: Berg by 4.97% (R pickup)

OH-01: Chabot by 6.25% (R pickup)

OH-06: Wilson by 2.06%

OH-13: Sutton by 10%

OH-15: Stivers by 6.25% (R pickup)

OH-16: Renacci by 0.63% (R pickup)

OH-18: Gibbs by 1.88% (R pickup)

OR-05: Schrader by 2.75%

PA-03: Kelly by 6.25% (R pickup)

PA-04: Altmire by 12.58%

PA-07: Meehan by 3.83% (R pickup)

PA-08: Fitzpatrick by 4.53% (R pickup)

PA-10: Marino by 4.57% (R pickup)

PA-11: Barletta by 2.13% (R pickup)

PA-12: Critz by 5.38%

PA-15: Dent by 11.63%

RI-01: Cicilline by 4.94%

SC-05: Mulvaney by 4.75% (R pickup)

SD-AL: Noem by 0.31% (R pickup)

TN-04: DesJarlais by 1% (R pickup)

TN-06: Black by 12.5% (R pickup)

TN-08: Fincher by 9.5% (R pickup)

TX-17: Edwards by 1.72%

TX-23: Rodriguez by 2.15%

TX-27: Ortiz by 2.88%

VA-02: Rigell by 3.04% (R pickup)

VA-05: Hurt by 5.28% (R pickup)

VA-09: Boucher by 4.5%

WA-02: Larsen by 5.75%

WA-03: Herrera by 3.56% (R pickup)

WA-08: Reichert by 5.38%

WV-01: McKinley by 2.25% (R pickup)

WI-03: Kind by 8.75%

WI-07: Duffy by 7.21% (R pickup)

WI-08: Ribble by 5.46% (R pickup)

OVERALL: Republicans gain a net of 42 for control 220-215

California Race Chart 2010 (Part 1 of 3: Statewide Races)

Cross-posted at Daily Kos, Calitics, and Democracy for California.

Here I will cover the eight constitutional offices, three State Supreme Court justice confirmations, and nine ballot measures. In the second diary, I will cover the U.S. Senate race and the House races, and in the third the state legislature. I will also combine my regular registration updates within the diaries.

Speaking of registration updates, as you will see in the layout of the statewide registration numbers, Democrats are more pumped up here, adding almost half a million voters to their rolls since 2008. The Republicans in comparison added just 13,000 in the same amount of time. So if you are looking for a lethargic Democratic base, look elsewhere because you won’t find it here!

More info can be found at the 2010 Race Tracker.

Here is the most recent registration data:…

Here is the list of candidates that will appear on the ballot:…

Statewide Layout

Democrats: 7,531,986 (44.32%)

Republicans: 5,257,669 (30.94%)

Decline to State: 3,427,395 (20.17%)

Others: 776,025 (4.56%)

Key: I will list the incumbent first, in boldface (in the case of open seats, the incumbent party first without boldface), and all minor parties after the two major parties.

D: Democratic

R: Republican

L: Libertarian

G: Green

AI: American Independent

PF: Peace and Freedom

NP: Nonpartisan

SW: Socialist Workers

Race Ratings

Toss-up: Margin by less than 5%

Lean: Margin by 5-10%

Likely: Margin by 10-15%

Strong: Margin by 15-20%

Solid: Margin by more than 20%

Governor: Ex-eBay CEO Meg Whitman (R) vs. Attorney General Jerry Brown (D), Laura Wells (G), Dale Ogden (L), Chelene Nightingale (AI), Carlos Alvarez (PF), and Lea Sherman (SW-W/I)

Profile: Forgive me for being a broken record as I have been in past comments, but again, I see no way Whitman can win. Running as an outsider when the current governor, who also ran as an outsider, is leaving office with 20% approval ratings, is a surefire losing strategy. And pissing voters off by running ads nonstop and spending nine-figure sums of money while they’re forced to cut back is not going to help at all. Brown is leading by example, running on a shoestring budget and calling for everyone to sacrifice, meaning no sacred cows. Polls may not yet show it, but in my opinion I think Whitman is finished. In fact, I’ll be very surprised if she even manages to make it a low-teen loss.

Outlook: Likely to Strong Brown (D pickup)

Lieutenant Governor: Interim Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado (R) vs. S.F. Mayor Gavin Newsom (D), Jimi Castillo (G), Pamela Brown (L), Jim King (AI), and C.T. Weber (PF)

Profile: Here we have quasi-incumbent Abel Maldonado, appointed after John Garamendi went to Congress, running to be elected in his own right against Newsom. While Maldonado is moderate for a Republican (though that is not saying much), being closely associated with Arnold is going to be a huge liability, which I do not think he will overcome.

Outlook: Lean Newsom (D pickup)

Attorney General: S.F. DA Kamala Harris (D) vs. L.A. DA Steve Cooley (R), Peter Allen (G), Timothy Hannan (L), Dianne Beall Templin (AI), and Robert J. Evans (PF)

Profile: This is the only statewide race in California I am worried about, and where my theory (that California has just become too Democratic for even a moderate Republican to win barring unusual circumstances) will be put to the test. Cooley is not that bad for a Republican, having had the audacity to stand against popular opinion of issues such as three strikes and Jessica’s Law, though he is also against dispensaries for medical marijuana. Harris is a rising star in Democratic circles, and is a more formidable opponent than any of Cooley’s challengers in the past. The wild card is the big enchilada of L.A. County, where Harris’ name ID is low and she’d need to win by 18-20% to win statewide. I am of course pulling for Harris because I want our bench to stay nice and full for the inevitable retirements of DiFi probably in 2012, Boxer probably in 2016, and for the open governorship in 2014 or 2018; and also because she has courageously stood up to Prop 8, while Cooley pledges to defend it in court.

Outlook: Toss-Up

Secretary of State: SoS Debra Bowen (D) vs. businessman Damon Dunn (R), Ann Menasche (G), Christina Tobin (L), Merton D. Short (AI), and Marylou Cabral (PF)

Profile: Bowen is a lock for reelection.

Outlook: Solid Bowen

Treasurer: Treasurer Bill Lockyer (D) vs. State Senator Mimi Walters (R), Kit Crittenden (G), Edward Teyssier (L), Robert Lauten (AI), and Debra Reiger (PF)

Profile: Lockyer is a lock for reelection.

Outlook: Solid Lockyer

Controller: Controller John Chiang (D) vs. State Senator Tony Strickland (R), Ross Frankel (G), Andy Favor (L), Lawrence Beliz (AI), and Karen Martinez (PF)

Profile: A rematch from 2006, only with Democrats more pumped up, Chiang will win by a wider margin this time around.

Outlook: Strong to Solid Chiang

Insurance Commissioner: State Assemblyman Mike Villines (R) vs. State Assemblyman Dave Jones (D), William Balderston (G), Richard Bronstein (L), Clay Pedersen (AI), and Dina Padilla (PF)

Profile: In California, when a non-damaged Democrat is up against a generic Republican, the Democrat wins. Take it to the bank.

Outlook: Likely to Strong Jones (D pickup)

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Retired Superintendent Larry Aceves (NP) vs. State Assemblyman Tom Torlakson (NP)

Profile: Torlakson voted against Race to the Top and believes parents, teachers, students, and communities alike all need to come together to improve our schools, while Aceves believes that the problem with public schools is the teachers and hedge funds and billionaires should have more control over K-12 education. This will be a close one.

Outlook: Toss-Up

State Supreme Court confirmation – Tani Cantil-Sakauye: Voters are being asked whether to confirm Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Arnold’s pick to replace Chief Justice Ron George. She is seen as uncontroversial, but likely to share Arnold’s views on corporate power.

Outlook: Lean Confirm

State Supreme Court retention – Ming Chin: Chin was in the minority that voted to uphold the state’s ban on marriage equality in 2008, and is one of the most right-wing justices on the state Supreme Court. I want to see him go, but it doesn’t look likely.

Outlook: Likely Retention

State Supreme Court retention – Carlos Moreno: Moreno was the only justice who courageously voted to overturn Prop 8 at the State Supreme Court last year, and has been a reliable vote for equality and so should be voted to be retained.

Outlook: Likely Retention

Ballot Measures: Nine measures will be on the California ballot this fall. Information can be found here:… Field has released polls on 19, 23, and 25.…

Prop. 19 (Marijuana): If passed, this proposition would legalize the possession and growing of marijuana for personal use of adults 21 years and older, and allow state and local governments to regulate and tax related commercial activities. This proposition winning may make Washington reexamine its own policy towards marijuana, since what happens in California often makes it way to the other side of the country. Polls have shown Yes leading by single digits, so I’ll call 19 a passing proposition.

My recommendation: YES!

10/21/2010 Outlook: Lean Pass

Prop. 20 (Redistricting Congressional Districts): This proposition would amend the state Constitution be amended to have the Citizens Redistricting Commission (prop 11 from 2008) redistrict for the U.S. House of Representatives seats. This initiative calls for each district being composed of people of the same income level and people with the same work opportunities, which to me feels like a backdoor to the old bygone Jim Crow ways. And passing this prop while giving free passes to Republican-controlled legislatures in Texas and Florida to gerrymander the hell out of those states is likely to put California at a disadvantage when competing for federal dollars. In addition, there is no way this commission can be held accountable.

My recommendation: NO!

10/21/2010 Outlook: Toss-up/Lean Fail

Prop. 21 (Vehicle License Surcharge): Establishes an $18 annual vehicle license surcharge to provide funds for maintaining the state parks and wildlife programs, and grants surcharged vehicles free admission to the state parks. Our cash-starved state parks could use the extra funds. In addition, the governor can’t take funds from this coffer when other coffers are low. The tough economy may dampen the chances of this prop passing, though.

My recommendation: YES!

10/21/2010 Outlook: Toss-Up

Prop. 22 (Local Government Funds): Prohibits the state from taking funds used for local government services. It is well-intentioned but flawed. The cities and counties would get an immediate payment of over $1 billion, forcing further cuts to vital public services.

My recommendation: NO!

10/21/2010 Outlook: Toss-Up/Lean Fail

Prop. 23 (Suspension of AB 32): Backed by Texas oil interests, this prop would suspend AB 32 until unemployment dropped to an unrealistic 5.5% for a whole year and hurt the state’s fledgling green jobs industry, doing the exact opposite of what its backers claim: it would actually kill more jobs than create more jobs. (Here in “business-friendly” Texas, the economic situation is also pretty bad, with unemployment here at its highest level since the late ’80s [and me being unable to find a job to save my life] and an $18 billion deficit for the 2011 budget session, which will make 2003 look like the good old days.) Polls have shown a low double-digit lead for the No side.

My recommendation: NO! NO! NO!

10/21/2010 Outlook: Likely Fail

Prop. 24 (Corporate Loopholes): A long-overdue measure that would close corporate tax loopholes, reducing the budget deficit by $2 billion.

My recommendation: YES!

10/21/2010 Outlook: Toss-Up

Prop. 25 (Majority Vote on Budget): Another very long-overdue measure that eliminates the ridiculous 2/3rds rule to pass a budget in the state legislature. This prop is passing by double-digits in the polls.

My recommendation: YES! YES! YES!

10/21/2010 Outlook: Likely Pass

Prop. 26 (Two-Thirds Vote on Fees): Would require two-thirds vote approval for the imposition of certain state and local fees, including those on businesses that adversely impact the local community and environment. The last thing we need is higher vote thresholds.

My recommendation: NO! NO! NO!

10/21/2010 Outlook: Toss-Up

Prop. 27 (Redistricting Commission): This proposition eliminates the Citizens Redistricting Commission from Prop 11, which barely passed, suggesting some voters have some doubts about its effectiveness. This commission also gives Republicans much more power than their current share of the population.

My recommendation: YES!

10/21/2010 Outlook: Toss-Up

Handicapping MN-Gov

I noticed today that Nate Silver crunched the numbers for the Minnesota Governor’s race and determined that Democrat Mark Dayton had a 77% chance of victory.  Pretty generous.  With the exception of the 1994 Arne Carlson reelection landslide, Minnesota has had 20 years worth of gubernatorial elections that have had so many dramatic twists and turns that they could have been made into movies.  One actually was!  Given this record of volatility and other specifics of this contest, I think Nate’s traditional calculus needs to be thrown out.  This race is far from over, and all three candidates still have a viable path to victory.

If recent Minnesota gubernatorial elections are any indication, the great equalizer will be the late October televised debates.  Polls moved in double digits in both directions in a matter of a week based on Minnesota gubernatorial debates.  If you impress there, you’re golden.  If you fail to impress, you’re ruined.  And that’s true almost wherever your poll numbers may currently be.  The Independence Party’s articulate 2006 candidate Peter Hutchinson was not in a position to win, but he nonetheless impressed in the debates and managed to surge at Mike Hatch’s expense, handing victory to Pawlenty.  With that in mind, let’s get back to 2010.

Let’s start with the least complicated candidate, both in terms of intellect and his position in the race.  That would be Republican Tom Emmer.  He’s been rendered a kook by a solid majority of the electorate and, in a three-candidate race, has a ceiling of about 42% with a basement that could conceivably go as low as 30%.  On the plus side for him, however, is that it’s gonna be a Republican year and more low-information voters than usual are likely to pull the lever for whoever has the (R) next to his name.  I suspect this will be especially true outstate where Emmer’s hard-right social values are less likely to offend than they would in the suburbs, but whose economic values would devastate them.  Emmer’s pathway to victory comes from wedging Horner vs. Dayton and picking up the slack.  Right now, Horner is probably taking more votes away from Emmer than Dayton.  If Emmer can reverse that and pit Dayton versus Horner, which is entirely doable in a year like this, he can simultaneously lift Horner’s numbers and plummet Dayton’s, allowing Emmer to squeak by with a 35% or better plurality.

Moving onto Dayton whose position of strength is based on three things.  First, he’s held office in Minnesota going back to the 1980s and is the only candidate with statewide name recognition, especially among senior voters who tend to view him most favorably.  Second, he’s exceeding expectations with the seriousness of his gubernatorial run after his disastrous Senate tenure had initially hurt his favorable ratings.  Having watched early debates, he seems most in command of the issues, and when his numbers are proven to not add up, he quickly fixes them in a way his opponents won’t do.  And lastly, the right and center-right are divided between Horner and Emmer, meaning Dayton doesn’t need a majority or even a strong plurality to win.

With all that said, Dayton’s support is incredibly thin, as was proven when he eked out a one-point primary win in August that he was supposed to win by double-digits.  My fear is that when the spotlight’s on in the ninth inning, voters will find “the other guy” more appealing.  While Emmer’s basement of support is very unlikely to sink below 30%, Dayton’s basement could conceivably drop to Kendrick Meek levels.  If Horner is able to pick off soft Dayton voters, Dayton could easily go the way of 1998 Skip “28%” Humphrey at the hands of Jesse Ventura. Even in the best-case scenario, however, I strongly reject the premise of a 77% likelihood of victory for Dayton.  As Dan Rather would say, his lead is “shakier than cafeteria Jell-O”.  And seeing that poll earlier this week showing Jim Oberstar with a scant three-point lead in MN-08 makes Dayton’s standing seem all the more fickle given that northern Minnesota (Oberstar country) would most realistically be the place where Dayton would run up the score.  If voters up there are that cool towards Oberstar, I expect they could just as easily turn on Dayton.

Now, onto Tom Horner, whose position in this race is very complicated but nowhere near dire enough to proclaim his chances of victory at zero as Nate Silver’s calculation suggests.  Horner has a number of advantages and disadvantages in the hand he holds and only time will tell which direction the 2010 political environment will pull him.  Working to his benefit more than anything else is the endless free advertising his campaign gets from Minnesota media, particularly the left-leaning Minneapolis Star Tribune which blows kisses to Horner on a literal daily basis and never misses a chance to piss on Dayton.  In my decades of reading the Star Tribune, never have I seen them work so hard to get a candidate elected as they are for Tom Horner.  Secondly, his opponents have been successfully caricatured as an extreme liberal and an extreme conservative, given Horner a huge opening to present himself as the guy in the middle when he gets his moment in the spotlight.  Any other year, Horner would not be likely to catch on, but as a center-right candidate in a center-right year facing off against two uninspiring foes who are both seen as ideologues, he might be the right guy at the right time.

Horner has serious downsides though too.  Charismatic Jesse Ventura was able to be the third-party hero during the 1998 economic boom on a painless platform.  Tom Horner has little to none of Jesse’s charisma and, given the budgetary armageddon facing the state, has nothing to offer but pain.  And while Horner is widely praised for his comprehensive budget plan, the pain is all reserved for the same groups of people who’ve been on the receiving end of the pain after eight uninterrupted years of budget crises under Pawlenty.  It’s always the working class and middle class expected to take a haircut, and Horner has carefully crafted his plan to make sure the wealthy that have been spared from sacrifice in the past eight years aren’t required to make a proportional contribution this year either.  Furthermore, Horner’s made a lot of money as a consultant to corporate heavies in the last decade, and if he catches on, it will be pointed out by his opponents that Horner’s tax plan effectively amounts to their payola.

And there’s one more wild card in play here.  Remember the 2008 Presidential map for Minnesota?  Where about 18-20 counties in Minnesota’s northwestern, southwestern, and southeastern corners showed tremendous growth for Obama even as much of state saw little improvement from Kerry’s numbers in 2004?   The explanation behind that phenomenon was that Obama monopolized the Fargo and Grand Forks, ND, Sioux Falls, SD, and La Crosse, WI, media markets while John McCain monopolized all of the Minnesota media markets.  In statewide races in Minnesota, voters in these Dakota and Wisconsin media markets are completely blacked out from Minnesota state politics, meaning these parts of the state tend to be unfamiliar with any of the candidates and are likely to base their votes on name ID and generic party preference.  This dynamic proved to be an advantage even to Skip Humphrey in these areas in 1998, and should really benefit Dayton in 2010 given his opponents, both of whom could just as well be named Bob Smith given their limited profile to these voters.  Horner in particular has little chance at getting more than 10% in these areas of the state and represent one more obstacle he’ll need to overcome, and even though they make up a small percentage of overall voters, they could easily be the difference in a close election.

With all this in mind, who’s gonna win?  It’s almost impossible to predict where a Minnesota gubernatorial election will go until the final few days, but it’s hard to deny Dayton still has a long-term advantage.  I see Horner gaining at Dayton’s expense in the weeks ahead…and perhaps a little bit at Emmer’s expense as well.  It’s not hard to imagine Horner soaring to a load or a position of serious competitiveness, but the fact that it hasn’t happened yet makes me more skeptical than I was two months ago that it every will.  

My best guess is the county map will look similar to the 2002 and 2006 gubernatorial race county maps, but with a few important caveats.  Dayton will win solid majorities in Minneapolis and St. Paul, but with Horner in the mix, he won’t dominate there.  I suspect Horner’s best numbers will come in the second and third-ring suburbs…places like Bloomington, Minnetonka, Blaine, and Eagan that tend to be the bellwethers in modern Minnesota elections.  However, Horner is not currently poised to win by enough there to compensate for his shortcomings elsewhere.  Still, my money is on a 25% showing from Horner in the state’s five most populous counties (Hennepin, Ramsey, Dakota, Anoka, and Washington) based on his strength in the moderate suburbs.

Emmer will dominate in exurbia scoring solid majorities in counties like Sherburne, Wright, Carver, and Scott.  Horner will probably keep Emmer from winning these areas with more than 60% or even 65% as he would in a one-on-one race with Dayton, but it will clearly be the foundation of Emmer’s strength in the statewide race.  As for outstate, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of the independent-friendly rural counties like Sibley, Renville, and Kanabec go for Horner, but by and large it’ll be a two-candidate race outstate with a county configuration similar to the Hatch-Pawlenty race of 2006.  Emmer will pull in a narrow plurality outstate, but not enough to make up for his deficit in the core five counties of the metro area.

So there’s my take.  Lower Mark Dayton’s advantage from Nate Silver’s 77% to about 47% and raise Tom Horner’s from 0% to 20% and I think you have the state of the Minnesota gubernatorial election.  But again, ask me again on November 1.  In Minnesota, gubernatorial politics are very seldom this simple.

Pat Williams Running for Montana Governor?

I doesn’t seem like it was that long ago when Swing State Project celebrated the Democratic Sweep in Montana that elected Brian Schweitzer Governor. But next spring will be Governor Schweitzer’s last legislative session and due to term limits the seat will be open in 2012.

The great news is that former Congressman Pat Williams is considering a run for governor!

Pat Williams, like his cousin Evel Knievel, came up on the rough and tumble streets of Butte, America. But he was such a fierce advocate as a public servant that the Williams family is now widely considered to be the first family of Montana politics. After choosing not to run for re-election in 1996, he became one of the most popular professors at the University of Montana. In honoring Williams just last week, UM President George Dennison said Pat Williams, “embodies the ideals of civic engagement.”

If Williams runs, it would be a very exciting race. He was famous for running bigger door-to-door campaigns than Montana had ever seen before (or has seen since). In 1992, when Montana’s two congressional districts were combined into a single at-large seat, Williams beat another sitting congressman in the most legendary statewide campaign in decades. While respect for Williams runs wide across Montana, his bold progressive stances have earned him a depth of support that runs deeper than can easily be explained.

Keep an eye on this one.

UPDATE: The Montana blog 4&20 Blackbirds says:

Like Pogie, all I need to know is “Where can I donate? Where do I sign up to volunteer?”


UPDATE II: Chuck Johnson got him on record:

“My phone’s been ringing again, really for a year, but especially since the story on the Internet,” he said in a telephone interview. “I’m honored that this is the third time that Montanans have generously asked me to run for governor. If I ran, I’m convinced that I’d win the primary by a good margin and then the general by a smaller but safe margin.

“I’m 72 years old, and I am more knowledgeable and wiser than I was at my so-called prime at 35. The other thing I know is that there will be a lot of good candidate on both sides, Republican and Democratic, but I will not be one of them.”

New 2010 projections: Dems lose House by 12

crossposted at StochasticDemocracy and DailyKos

These are the Labor Day election forecasts of Stochastic Democracy, in collaboration with Professor Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium. We  have launched a new Election Forecasting System for House, Senate and Gubernatorial Elections and for tracking the Generic Ballot.

But before we discuss the forecasts in more detail, let me first get out of the way who we are and why you should listen to what we’re predicting:

Who we are (quoted from the FAQ at our site):

The team consists of David Shor, Harry Enten, and Rasmus Pianowski. David is a Math student currently visiting Princeton University as a Visiting Graduate Student. Harry is an undergraduate at Dartmouth and an intern at Rasmus (that’s me) is a freshman at University of Hamburg, he has done political consulting and Media Outreach work for Montana congressional candidate Tyler Gernant.

The site is closely affiliated to Professor Wang’s Princeton Election Consortium.

Why you should listen to us

We have an outstanding track record.

In 2008, we correctly predicted the results of 49 of the 50 states in the Presidential Election, missing only Indiana (where we predicted that Obama had a 48% chance to win). We correctly predicted every single Senate and Gubernatorial election, and were off on the national popular vote for President by only 0.08%..

We also predicted that Obama would get 364 Electoral Votes, he ended up with 365 Electoral Votes.

In 2009, we correctly predicted the outcome of the 2009 Israeli Knesset election as well as 4 of the 5 notoriously hard to predict 2009 off-year elections- got only 2 correct, didn’t even put up predictions.

And we have a solid forecasting methodology that combines advanced statistical techniques with a huge polling database- and we do account for House Effects, so that you can be sure that our ratings aren’t swayed by Republican-leaning Rasmussen Reports polls too much.

Now on to the Forecasts.

Let me get out the bad news, and there is a lot of bad news, quickly:

The GOP is favored to take over the House, several Senate seats and Governorships.


For a complete list of election results, please visit Stochastic Democracy, here you’ll only find an analysis of several important races, maps and tables with results for select races.




As you can see, things look rather badly for the Democrats on the Senate front. While Republicans seem like relatively heavy underdogs to get a majority in the Senate, they at least will pick up several seats.

Arkansas, North Dakota, Indiana and Delaware are gone. With deficits of more than 15% in even the closest of these four races, it doesn’t make much sense to keep fighting except for helping down-ballot races.

In Pennsylvania, Joe Sestak has a fighting chance to mount yet another comeback, but so far his campaign hasn’t really taken off and with less than two months to go until the election he’s down against Pat Toomey by a bit less than 6%.

Colorado is close right now, even though the Republican candidate Ken Buck is ahead by a bit more than three points right now. The infighting among Colorado Conservatives in the Gubernatorial race might help Bennet to catch up.

In Florida the race is all but officially between incumbent Governor Charlie Crist, the Republican-turned Independent, and Tea Party favorite, Marco Rubio. The Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek has just about a 1 in 200 chance to win, while Rubio maintains a 4.5 point-advantage over Crist. The race is so unstable though that Crist can easily come back- or collapse.

In all other races, the incumbent party is currently favored (more or less) to retain their seats. For the Republicans, that means that Rob Portman (OH), Roy Blunt (MO), Rand Paul (KY), Richard Burr (NC) and the winner of the New Hampshire GOP primary (probably Kelly Ayotte) will more likely than not win.

The likely Democratic winners include Harry Reid (NV), Alexi Gianoullias (IL), Barbara Boxer (CA), Russ Feingold (WI)and Joe Manchin (WV), who is so heavily favored to retain the late Senator Byrd’s seat that this race doesn’t show up in the ‘most likely pickups’ table. On the other hand, Gianoullias, Reid and Feingold are all in races that could still go either way, even though they’re favored over their respective opponents right now.

Gubernatorial races



In the gubernatorial races, there are a few more highlights for Democrats, even though the bottom line looks rather bleak for Democrats here as well.

We are almost sure to lose six Governorships to the Republicans: In Kansas, Michigan, Iowa, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Illinois. In every of those races except for Illinois, the Republican candidate is ahead by double digits, and most likely less than two months won’t be enough to close that gap.

On the bright side, we’re also almost certain to pick up the Governorships of Hawaii, Minnesota and Connecticut.

Maine is a race that doesn’t qualify as a ‘sure loss’ yet, but it doesn’t look good for Democrats, as Republican Paul LePage is leading Democrat Libby Mitchell by more than 8 points.

In the close battleground races it currently looks like Republican John Kasich is going to unseat incumbent Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio, Kasich is currently ahead by 4 points. The same could be said of New Mexico‘s gubernatorial race, where Republican Susana Martinez is favored to beat the Democratic Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish. Both of these races are close enough for Strickland and Denish to mount a comeback though.

Meanwhile, Democrats look like slight favorites in the gubernatorial elections of Florida, where Democrat Alex Sink leads the scandal-ridden Republican nominee Rick Scott, and in Rhode Island, where Democrat Frank Caprio is a slight favorite to win the governorship, edging former independent U.S. Senator Lincoln Chaffee. The Republican candidate is far behind.

Meanwhile, the true Toss-ups right now are in California (Brown vs. Whitman), Wisconsin (Barrett vs. Walker), and Oregon (Kitzhaber vs. Dudley). None of these races have a clear favorite right now, even though Barrett, Brown and Dudley would be slight favorites if the election was held today.

Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley (MD) and Republican Governor Rick Perry (TX)are both moderately favored to win their re-election bids against strong challengers, respectively former Governor Bob Ehrlich and Houston Mayor Bill White.

Incumbent party-candidates in New Hampshire (Lynch), Georgia (Deal), Massachusetts (Patrick) and in all races that aren’t listed here are favored to win their elections.

U.S. House



I don’t have enough space here to talk about all the interesting races as in the Senate and Governor sections, so let me just highlight the results of a couple of races that I know are dear to the netroots and of some especially close races:

In Florida-08 (Grayson-D), Alan Grayson is projected to lose to his challenger, Dan Webster, by 7.5%. He still has about a 25% chance to win reelection. Keep in mind that our model does not directly look at fundraising (it does look at Cook ratings though, and Cook does include fundraising in his ratings)- and Grayson has a gigantic warchest.

In Illinois-10 (open-R) Dan Seals is a slight favorite to finally become a U.S. Representative after twice unsuccessfully running against Mark Kirk.

In New York-20 (Murphy-D), Scott Murphy, who was elected with a strong Kossack phonebanking drive in the 2009 special election to replace Senator Gillibrand, looks like a slight favorite to win reelection. Bill Owens in NY-23 is a slight underdog though.

In Virginia-5 (Periello-D), red-district Progressive Tom Periello will almost certainly lose reelection.

In Idaho-1 (Minnick-D), the probably most conservative House Democrat Walt Minnick is projected to be a slight underdog in his reelection bid. You shouldn’t take this number too seriously though: This race is extreme. Minnick was, and the model can’t incorporate this, endorsed by the Tea Party Express and the Chamber of Commerce and praised by the Club for Growth, and the NRCC has already pulled resources from this district in the light of polls that show Minnick far ahead of his Republican opponent. Expect this number to shift as more polls come in, but right now our model isn’t convinced of Minnick’s staying power, as McCain won the district by a 61-35 margin in the 2008 Presidential Election while Minnick just barely beat a disliked Republican incumbent who won only 60% of his primary vote after winning a six-way GOP primary with 26% of the vote in 2006.

Races on knife’s edge: Here you can really make a difference

Julie Lassa (D) vs. Sean Duffy (R) (WI-07, Obey retiring)

Rep. Gerry Connoly (D) vs. Keith Firmian (R) (VA-11)

Rep. Phil Hare (D) vs. Robby Schilling (R) (IL-17)

Colleen Hanabusa (D) (likely) vs. Rep. Charles Djou (R) (HI-01)

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) vs. Jesse Kelly (R) (AZ-08)

All of these 5 races are so close that every additional volunteer or donor might tip the race.


Again, the bottom line isn’t pretty: The Democrats are likely to lose the House, several Senate seats and more Governorships than they will pick up.

Talking about continuing the gains that Democrats made in 2006 and 2008 is irrational now- what we can all do is pick a few campaigns and invest a lot of our time and put our best efforts into limiting our losses.

What the DCCC does– cutting incumbents that can’t win loose, might be a good strategy for private volunteers and donors as well.

Senate and Gubernatorial Rankings – August

I’m going to do one of these on the first Monday of every month between now and election day. Time to do away with the tossup cop out and get off the fence!

Rankings are ‘Tilt’ (less than 5 point race), ‘Lean’ (5-10 point race) and ‘Favored ‘(10-15 point race). Anything beyond that is ‘Solid’ for either party.


Dem Tilt






Rep Tilt







Dem Lean


Rep Lean



Dem Favored



Rep Favored




IA-Gov news roundup

I’ve been posting less often at Swing State Project lately because Iowa campaign news is keeping me busy at my home blog, Bleeding Heartland. From time to time I will keep SSPers up to date on our highest-profile races: Roxanne Conlin’s bid against five-term Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and Democratic Governor Chet Culver’s re-election campaign against four-term former Governor Terry Branstad.

After the jump you’ll find lots of links on the Iowa governor’s race since Branstad won the June 8 primary with about 50 percent of the vote to 41 percent for Bob Vander Plaats and 9 percent for Rod Roberts.

Vander Plaats ran to Branstad’s right during the primary, slamming the former governor’s record of growing government while feeding on wingnut anger about government-run health care, immigration and of course same-sex marriage rights in Iowa. Although Branstad spent several times more money during the first five months of the year, Vander Plaats was able to outperform his poll numbers on June 8. A post-primary meeting between the two candidates reportedly “did not go well,” as Branstad rebuffed Vander Plaats’ desire to be on the ticket. Consequently, Vander Plaats still hasn’t endorsed Branstad and is leaving the door open to running for governor as an independent. (Iowa is one of the few states without a sore loser law.) I doubt Vander Plaats will take the plunge for reasons described here, but if he does, he may help Culver by drawing some Republican votes away from Branstad.

Immediately after the primary, Iowa politics-watchers hashed out who was and wasn’t on Branstad’s short list for lieutenant governor. Some well-connected Republicans thought he would choose former State Senator Jeff Lamberti, who was the 2006 GOP nominee against Congressman Leonard Boswell in IA-03. Two days before the Republican state convention, Branstad picked little-known first-term State Senator Kim Reynolds, signaling that he plans to focus on fiscal issues during the general election campaign. I covered reaction to that pick here. Normally the state convention vote on the governor’s running mate is a formality, but Branstad must have been worried about how Reynolds would go over with party activists, because his campaign hit convention delegates with robocalls and e-mails emphasizing Reynolds’ social conservative credentials. On June 24, a sitting state legislator put Vander Plaats’ name in nomination for lieutenant governor, and delegates picked Reynolds over Vander Plaats by a surprisingly narrow margin of 56 percent to 44 percent. I discussed the divisions in the Iowa GOP here.

Branstad has stayed up on television since the primary, running this ad that glosses over his own record and lies about how Culver has managed state finances. It’s notable that Branstad bashes so-called Democratic “overspending” but never explains how he would have balanced the state budget during a recession without dipping into reserve funds or using federal stimulus money. Lieutenant Governor candidate Reynolds also criticizes teacher layoffs and Democratic budget policies, never acknowledging that education cuts would have been far worse without the federal stimulus bill all the Republicans opposed.

Meanwhile, Culver has run two television commercials since the primary. One covered Branstad’s dismal record on fiscal issues, which is “not worth repeating.” The other started a conversation about Branstad’s values, noting that he sought pay raises multiple times while cutting spending on things like foster care.

Culver picked up a couple of endorsements this month that should help his ground game in the general election. The Planned Parenthood PAC’s support was never in doubt, but Branstad reportedly tried hard to discourage the Iowa State Education Association from backing Culver. (The state’s largest teacher’s union had backed Branstad during his third gubernatorial campaign in 1990.) Branstad’s call for eliminating the state-funded preschool program probably hurt him with the ISEA.

The only public poll since the Iowa primary was conducted by Rasmussen, which found Branstad enjoying his largest-ever lead, 57 percent to 31 percent. Most Iowa Democrats believe the race is closer than that, but Culver is clearly in a hole.

Revenues for the fiscal year that just ended were better than expected, but that hasn’t stopped Republican zombie lies about a “budget deficit.”

Branstad started running a new tv ad this week, promising “honest, open and scandal-free government.” Culver’s campaign responded by releasing 400 pages of documents showing how Branstad and his top aides did campaign work on the public’s dime while he was governor. I discussed the document dump at Bleeding Heartland.  It will be interesting to see what other material the Culver campaign uncovers in the 1,000 boxes they’ve been going through in the state archives.

Jonathan Narcisse is running for governor as an independent after flaking out on plans to challenge Chet Culver in the Democratic primary. I don’t think he will be a factor.

Share any thoughts about the Iowa governor’s race in this thread.

Palin’s Iowa endorsement could hurt her in 2012

If Sarah Palin runs for president in 2012, she will regret endorsing Terry Branstad Thursday in the Republican primary for governor.

First thoughts on how this will play out are after the jump.

Before the scenario-spinning begins, here’s a question for SSPers: could an endorsement be any less substantial than what Palin wrote on her Facebook page?

   Iowa, your great state’s motto is “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.” That motto will be well served by voting for Terry Branstad for governor next Tuesday!

   Please join me in supporting Governor Branstad’s campaign. Visit his website here, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

That’s not an excerpt, that’s the entire Facebook post. I doubt Palin is prepared to answer specific questions about why Republicans wanting to safeguard their liberties and rights should vote for Branstad instead of Bob Vander Plaats or Rod Roberts. Does she even know the policy differences between the candidates, or the reasons many Iowa conservatives are uncomfortable with Branstad?

Endorsements are rarely “game-changers” under any circumstances, but at least James Dobson explained why he’s backing Vander Plaats, and his reasons reinforce the Vander Plaats campaign narrative. Chuck Norris will draw crowds and free media coverage for Vander Plaats this weekend in Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Council Bluffs, northwest Iowa and West Des Moines. If Palin had planned ahead, she could have done something similar for Branstad, but instead she threw up an empty Facebook post.

It seems likely that Palin expects Branstad to be the next governor and wants to be on his good side when she campaigns here in 2011 and 2012. At least, that’s how many politically engaged Iowans interpreted the move.

Vander Plaats campaign manager Eric Woolson told the Des Moines Register,

“I think that she’s seriously damaged her 2012 presidential prospects,” […] “This says to me she’s either not running for president or she doesn’t understand Iowa very well because she has just alienated herself from her natural base. If you look at her Facebook page, all of the comments are saying ‘Terry Branstad? Really?'”

Woolson has an interest in downplaying the endorsement, of course, but in this case I agree with him. Palin has discredited herself with her natural allies in Iowa. Conservative Shane Vander Hart, whose site Caffeinated Thoughts is part of the “Blogs 4 Palin” network, had this to say last night:

I get the emails from SarahPAC so I usually hear about this in a rather timely fashion. I was traveling today and just read the endorsement in my inbox.

I emailed SarahPAC for an explanation since the endorsement announcement was rather thin. I have to admit I’m surprised and rather disappointed since Branstad doesn’t meet up with her standards of being a “commonsense conservative.” I can understand a general election endorsement, but didn’t think she’d endorse during the primary since she hadn’t yet.

I’m thinking this isn’t an enthusiastic endorsement since it was brief, doesn’t give any explanation, and is rather last minute.

Vander Hart is backing Rod Roberts for governor, by the way.

Let’s look at how various outcomes in the governor’s race would affect Palin.

If Branstad wins the primary easily, Palin will not get credit, because she didn’t do much for him.

If Branstad wins the primary narrowly, many social conservatives will be angry that she helped him even in a small way.

If Vander Plaats surprises us all and wins the primary, everyone will know that Palin’s endorsement carries no weight with social conservatives. Even Branstad supporter Craig Robinson admits, “if Vander Plaats pulls off an upset next Tuesday, a potential caucus campaign would become exponentially more difficult [for Palin].”

No matter what happens in the primary, Republicans who voted for Vander Plaats or Roberts will remember that Palin did the politically expedient thing instead of standing up for the principles she outlined in her own book.

If Branstad wins the primary and loses to Governor Chet Culver, GOP activists will see the outcome as proof that Republicans should have nominated a “real conservative.”

If Branstad defeats Culver, I don’t see Palin getting a lot of credit from Branstad’s inner circle or the business wing of the Iowa GOP. Most of those people supported Mitt Romney in 2008 and would lean toward him again if he makes a play for Iowa in 2012. Romney endorsed Branstad weeks ago and kicked in $10,000 from his PAC.

More important, if Branstad is elected in November he will probably govern with a Democratic-controlled legislature. He is unlikely to deliver on many of his campaign promises and he probably won’t strike as confrontational a tone with Democrats as the GOP base would like. By late 2011 and early 2012, when Republican activists are deciding whom to caucus for, I doubt they will view Branstad as a conservative hero.

Remember also that caucus turnout in 2012 will almost certainly be lower than the turnout for next Tuesday’s primary. In 2002, about 199,000 Iowans voted in the three-way GOP primary for governor. Only about 116,000 Iowans took part in the 2008 Republican caucuses.

It’s possible that even if Branstad wins the gubernatorial primary with 50 to 60 percent of the vote, supporters of Vander Plaats or Roberts could comprise a majority in the universe of 2012 Republican caucus-goers. Vander Plaats has been winning straw polls across Iowa this spring, which reflects his strong support among dedicated party activists. Palin would have been in a better position to appeal to them if she had stayed out of our governor’s race.

The Cedar Rapids Gazette’s Todd Dorman read the Bleeding Heartland version of this post and responded:

I get all the arguments, that Palin’s pick looks bad if Vander Plaats wins and that Branstad’s camp, which is full of Romneyites, won’t give her much credit if TB wins etc. Seems logical.

But I don’t think picking a winner can be bad, especially when her candidate-picking track record lately has been spotty. And even if Vander Plaats wins, I don’t buy the notion that it will hurt her all that much if she runs for prez.

I’ve talked to people who love Palin and want her to run in 2012. They don’t care that she resigned halfway through her term, or that she doesn’t appear to grasp important issues or that her life is a soap opera filmed on a crazy train.

So I don’t think they’ll care if she picked the wrong horse in the primary.

If Palin had crafted an image as someone who picks winners, I would agree with Dorman. But she has spent the last year crafting an image as someone who stands on principle and is not afraid to go “rogue” against the power-brokers and conventional wisdom. She just undermined her own brand.

Maybe Palin isn’t planning to run for president and merely wanted to pick the likely winner in Iowa’s primary. Rand Paul, whom she endorsed, won the Kentucky U.S. Senate primary last month, but Palin’s preferred candidate just lost the primary in Idaho’s first Congressional district, and her pick in the Washington U.S. Senate race is probably going to lose too. Palin’s choice in the South Carolina governor’s race, Nikki Haley, is in a tough fight. If she loses next Tuesday but Branstad prevails here, Palin will at least be associated with one winner.

Speculate away in the comments.

AL Post Primary Rundown

Last night, the voters in Alabama voted on nominees for each party to contest seats up for election in November. Here is a rundown of how things went in the Yellowhammer State last night:

AL-GOV: The GOP Primary will go to a runoff between former State Senator Bradley Byrne and either State Representative Robert Bentley or Real Estate Developer Tim James. Personally, I’m surprised Roy Moore, who was polling second in polls leading up to this race, placed 4th. In the Democratic Primary, Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks surprised many by crushing Congressman Artur Davis by a nearly 2-1 margin.

AL-LT GOV: State Treasurer Kay Ivey, who abandoned a hopeless Gubernatorial bid earlier this year, unsurprisingly romped over State Senator Hank Erwin and Teacher Gene Ponder. Ivey will face Incumbent Jim Fosom Jr. in November.

AL-AG: One of the biggest surprises of the evening occurred here with Attorney Luther Strange walloping Incumbent Republican AG Troy King by 20 points, a race that was under the radar for most political observers. In another surprise, Attorney James Anderson and former State Democratic Party Chairman Giles Perkins will go to a runoff. Perkins finished nearly 19 points below Anderson in yesterday’s vote tallies.

AL-State Treasurer: In another massive upset, former State Finance Department Official Young Boozer crushed former State Treasurer, former PSC Commissioner, and son of former Governor George Wallace, George Wallace Jr. by about 30 points(Thank God!!!). Unsurprisingly, in the Democratic Primary, former State Conservation Commissioner Charles Grimsley defeated Attorney Jeremy Sherer by about 20 points in the final tallies.

AL-AG Commissioner: In the GOP Primary, Former State Conservation Commissioner John McMillan and Walker County Economic Development Chair Dorman Grace are headed to a Runoff. The winner faces an uphill fight against Democratic Deputy Agriculture Commissioner Glen Zorn.

AL-SEN: No surprises in either race, Republican Senator Richard Shelby will face Democratic Attorney William Barnes in November.

AL-01: No surprise, Republican Congressman Jo Bonner horse-whipped Real Estate Developer Peter Gounares and will do so again to Constitution Party Artificial Reef Contractor David Walter in November.

AL-02: The Republicans will go to a Runoff between Montgomery City Councilwoman Martha Roby and Businessman Rick Barber. Whoever wins faces Incumbent Democrat Bobby Bright in November.

AL-05: In the GOP Primary, Madison County Commissioner Morris Brooks surprised everybody by trouncing turncoat Congressman Parker Griffith 51-33. In another surprise, former Congressional Aide Steve Raby beat back a challenge from former State Board of Education Member and Grandson of former Senator John Sparkman, Taze Shepard 61-22.

AL-06: Incumbent Republican Congressman Spencer Bachus God-smacked Pastor Stan Cooke 77-23.

AL-07: Jefferson County Commissioner Sheila Smoot and Attorney Terri Sewell surprised everyone by outpacing State Representative and son of former Congressman Earl Hilliard, Earl Hilliard Jr. to make the Democratic Runoff. The GOP has a Runoff of their own between Some-Dude Don Chamberlain and Mortgage Broker Chris Salter.

Please share your opinions in the comments.

By what margin will Bob Shamansky win?

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IA-Gov: PPP polls GOP primary

A week before Iowa’s primary election, Public Policy Polling released a poll showing former Governor Terry Branstad leading Bob Vander Plaats 46 percent to 31 percent, with State Representative Rod Roberts well behind at 13 percent. The firm surveyed 474 “likely GOP primary voters” between May 25 and 27, and the margin of error is plus or minus 4.5 percent.  

The polling memo by Tom Jensen notes, “Branstad gets 42-68% of the vote across the ideological spectrum, but does worst against the 74% conservative majority, edging Tea Party favorite Vander Plaats by just 41-35.”

This poll supports what I’ve been thinking for months about Roberts. He is the best surrogate Branstad could have in this primary, diluting the votes of the social conservative base that doesn’t trust the former governor. If one candidate consolidated the “not Branstad” vote, the topline result would be nearly a dead heat.

If PPP’s survey is accurate, Branstad will win next Tuesday’s primary, but with the advantages he took into this race he should be getting 60 to 70 percent of the Republican vote. He’s done the job before, he will have spent more than $2 million before the primary (more than his opponents combined), and he has been advertising statewide on television and radio since the beginning of April. Roberts and Vander Plaats could manage only limited ad buys, and Vander Plaats just went up on television the day before PPP’s poll was in the field.

Iowa Independent highlighted a notable passage from PPP’s polling memo:

   Among voters that actually know who Vander Plaats is – whether they see him favorably or unfavorably – he leads Branstad 42-37. The question is if there’s enough time left for Vander Plaats to completely make up the huge gap in name recognition he began the campaign with. Seventy-nine percent of voters have an opinion of Branstad, with it breaking down positively by a 59/20 margin. Meanwhile only 66 percent have an opinion of Vander Plaats with 47 percent seeing him favorably to 19 percent unfavorably.

   There are very clear age divisions in the race. It’s tied among voters under 45, who may not even remember Branstad’s time as Governor. But he’s up 55-20 with senior citizens, who are certainly likely to remember his tenure, and that’s fueling most of his overall victory.

Vander Plaats was never going to be able to match Branstad’s spending dollar for dollar with the huge support for Branstad among Iowa’s business Republican elite. But if Vander Plaats had saved more of what he raised in 2009, he might have been able to raise his name recognition much more this spring.

As for the differences between younger and older respondents, I would think almost any Iowan over 30 remembers Branstad as governor. I suspect that this discrepancy tells us there are a lot more moderate Republicans over age 45 than under age 45. Branstad leads Vander Plaats among moderates by a huge margin in the poll. The Republican Party has grown much more conservative in the last decade or two, so younger moderates might naturally identify more with Democrats or no-party voters.

Incredibly, this is the first public poll of the Republican primary since last July, when The Iowa Republican blog commissioned a survey by Voter/Consumer research. That poll found Vander Plaats way ahead of the rest of the declared Republican candidates, with only Branstad hypothetically able to make the primary competitive.

Branstad created an exploratory committee to run for governor last October. Since then, Selzer has done two Iowa polls for the Des Moines Register, Research 2000 has done three polls for KCCI-TV, The Iowa Republican commissioned another poll in January, not to mention several Iowa polls by Rasmussen. All of those surveys tested Governor Chet Culver against his Republican challengers but not the Republican primary. The lack of polling on Branstad against Vander Plaats and Roberts is a continuing mystery to me, given how many polls have been conducted on Democratic or Republican primaries in other states. You would think that at the very least The Iowa Republican blog would want to poll the GOP primary. The fact that they haven’t suggests that last summer’s primary poll may have been intended primarily to help the people recruiting Branstad to run for governor again. Rasmussen is the most prolific pollster in the country, and has polled Republican primaries in many other states. Maybe Rasmussen really is just interested in setting a narrative rather than polling the most newsworthy races.

Share any relevant thoughts in this thread.

P.S. PPP also polled the Iowa Democratic primary for U.S. Senate and found Roxanne Conlin way ahead with 48 percent, compared to 13 percent for Bob Krause and 8 percent for Tom Fiegen. I posted a big linkfest on the Democratic U.S. Senate primary at Bleeding Heartland.

UPDATE: PPP director Tom Jensen told me today that no one commissioned the Iowa poll PPP conducted last week. He was responding to speculation on an Iowa republican blog that a Democratic 527 group may have commissioned the PPP poll to see if their direct-mail and tv commercial attacks on Branstad are working.