A Less Competitive New Hampshire

New Hampshire currently has two districts that have changed hands a total of four times in the last five years. Whilst it is probably a good thing to have competitive districts, a question we could ask about New Hampshire is what might the map look like if there was bipartisan agreement to split the congressional districts between the parties?

CD 1 (Blue): 48.9% Obama

CD 2 (Green): 60.5% Obama

MA, MI, and NH: Population by CD

Today’s Census data dump is three slow-growth northern states: Massachusetts, Michigan, and New Hampshire. Massachusetts is set to lose one seat (from 10 down to 9), meaning its new target is 727,514 (up from about 634K in 2000). Interestingly, the growth among all the districts was pretty consistent, with only about 20,000 difference between the state’s largest and smallest districts. Estimates over the decade had shown Boston losing population, but in the final count it did eke out a small gain.

With no clear loser on the population front among the districts, that makes the question of who draws the shortest redistricting straw even more complicated… unless someone reverses course and decides to retire, either to challenge Scott Brown (most likely Mike Capuano or Stephen Lynch) or to call it a career (John Olver). Olver’s 1st did wind up being the smallest by a small margin, so the most talked-about mashup of the 1st and 2nd may well happen; alternatively, based on seniority the axe could fall on the delegation’s newest member, William Keating. At any rate, with Dems firmly in charge of the process, don’t look for any of these districts to lose their bluish hues; the main question is who gets left without his musical chair.

District Rep. Population Deviation
MA-01 Olver (D) 644,956 (82,558)
MA-02 Neal (D) 661,045 (66,469)
MA-03 McGovern (D) 664,919 (62,595)
MA-04 Frank (D) 656,083 (71,431)
MA-05 Tsongas (D) 662,269 (65,245)
MA-06 Tierney (D) 650,161 (77,353)
MA-07 Markey (D) 648,162 (79,352)
MA-08 Capuano (D) 660,414 (67,100)
MA-09 Lynch (D) 650,381 (77,133)
MA-10 Keating (D) 649,239 (78,275)
Total: 6,547,629

When it was revealed in December that Michigan was the only state out of 50 that actually lost population since 2000, it was clear that the state’s urban districts were in a world of hurt… but I have to admit I’m still surprised at the way that Detroit has utterly cratered. The Motor City, at one point the 4th largest city in America, is now down to 15th, with a population of 713,777 (now smaller than johnny-come-latelies like Columbus, Austin, and Charlotte). The 13th may be the 2nd least populous district in the country at this point (after WY-AL). I briefly had to wonder whether we might actually see Detroit turned into one CD, mostly contiguous with the city boundaries (since it’s now about the same population as an ideal district), but I can’t imagine that the Obama administration’s DOJ would allow the state GOP (which controls the redistricting trifecta) to pack only one overwhelmingly African-American VRA district when the population is there to support two, albeit two that will have to reach significantly into the suburbs now.

Michigan’s current target is 705,974 (based on the drop to 14 from 15 seats), up from about 663K in 2000. That means that six of its districts (the Upper Peninsula-based 1st, the Flint-and-Saginaw 5th, and the 9th and 12th in Detroit’s northern suburbs, in addition to the 13th and 14th) outright lost population over the decade. With the 9th and 12th also big losers, and with the VRA looming over the 13th and 14th, this all seems to confirm what most people are expecting, that Gary Peters and Sandy Levin are going to get much better acquainted with each other in a Dem primary. If you go further out into the districts that contain Detroit’s exurbs (the GOP-held 8th and 10th), those are the two districts in the state that actually need to shed some population.

District Rep. Population Deviation
MI-01 Benishek (R) 650,222 (55,752)
MI-02 Huizenga (R) 698,831 (7,143)
MI-03 Amash (R) 694,695 (11,279)
MI-04 Camp (R) 686,378 (19,596)
MI-05 Kildee (D) 635,129 (70,845)
MI-06 Upton (R) 671,883 (34,091)
MI-07 Walberg (R) 676,899 (29,075)
MI-08 Rogers (R) 707,572 1,598
MI-09 Peters (D) 657,590 (48,384)
MI-10 Miller (R) 719,712 13,738
MI-11 McCotter (R) 695,888 (10,086)
MI-12 Levin (D) 636,601 (69,373)
MI-13 Clarke (D) 519,570 (186,404)
MI-14 Conyers (D) 550,465 (155,509)
MI-15 Dingell (D) 682,205 (23,769)
Total: 9,883,640

These two district states are really drama-free, and New Hampshire might be the least dramatic of all. The two districts in the state stayed remarkably balanced (as they always do… the state has had two districts since the 1800s, with the boundaries rarely moving much), to the extent that the 1st needs to pick up only 254 people from the 2nd. I’ll leave it to the good folks in comments to argue over which ward in Hooksett should be the one that gets moved. (New Hampshire’s target was 658,235, up from 618K in 2000.)

District Rep. Population Deviation
NH-01 Guinta (R) 657,984 (254)
NH-02 Bass (R) 658,486 254
Total: 1,316,470

Redistricting outlook: Miss.-N.H.

Now that it’s 2011, the redistricting games will soon begin in earnest, with more detailed Census data expected in the coming weeks and some states holding spring legislative sessions to deal with drawing new maps. Long ago I planned to do state-by-state rundowns of the redistricting process as soon as 2010 election results and Census reapportionment were clear. Now that time has arrived, and it’s time to look at Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, and New Hampshire.

Previous diary on Alabama, Arizona, and Arkansas

Previous diary on California, Colorado, and Connecticut

Previous diary on Florida, Georgia, and Hawaii

Previous diary on Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa

Previous diary on Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, and Maryland

Previous diary on Massachusetts, Michigan, and Minnesota

The rest below the fold…



Districts: 4

Who’s in charge? Split (GOP Governor and Senate, Dem House)

Is that important? Nope

The legislature is engaged in moderately high-stakes drama over legislative redistricting, which must be done before the state’s qualifying deadline later this spring. Congressional remapping will, by contrast, be quite simple, with a plan that expands Bennie Thompson’s 2nd to pick up as many majority-black areas as possible and protects newbie GOP incumbents Alan Nunnelee in the north and Steven Palazzo in the south.



Districts: 8 (down from 9 in 2002)

Who’s in charge? Split (Dem Governor, GOP Legislature)

Is that important? Yes

I have long expected the legislature — which has almost enough Republicans to override a veto by Gov. Jay Nixon — to dismantle Russ Carnahan’s suburban St. Louis 3rd District and split it up between Lacy Clay’s 1st, Todd Akin’s 2nd, and Jo Ann Emerson’s 8th, since Clay’s district must expand and the two Republicans are safe enough to accommodate a few new Democratic voters. However, renewed chatter about Akin running for the Senate against Claire McCaskill is muddying things a bit. With a 6-2 map feasible — all major areas of Democratic strength concentrated into the 1st and the Kansas City-based 5th — it’s hard to believe Republicans won’t go for it, but it may be too early to declare Carnahan odd man out after all. If Akin does seek a promotion to the Capitol’s north side, the legislature will still probably draw a less hospitable seat for Carnahan, to make that 6-2 split plausible.



Districts: 3

Who’s in charge? Republicans (de facto; legislature is officially nonpartisan)

Is that important? I suppose

Jeff Fortenberry’s Lincoln-area 1st and Lee Terry’s Omaha-based 2nd will contract in area to accommodate the slow-growing rural 3rd, but that is the height of drama here. The only notable thing about Nebraska’s congressional districts in 2012 is that electoral votes will probably no longer be apportioned by CD, denying Obama that Omaha electoral vote he won in 2008.



Districts: 4 (up from 3 in 2002)

Who’s in charge? Split (GOP Governor, Dem Legislature)

Is that important? Very

Here we have a very ambitious legislature that would love to carve up Nevada as never before, with one rural/suburban Republican vote-sink for Joe Heck and three Dem-leaning seats (two in Las Vegas and environs, one stretching from Reno down to northern Clark County). The congressional delegation is deeply in flux, with Dean Heller running for the Senate, Shelley Berkley contemplating a Senate bid, and a new seat being added that will almost certainly lean Democratic. I have to assume Gov. Brian Sandoval will veto any plan that does not preserve two Republican seats, one in the north where Heller used to be and one for Heck, but with state Treasurer Kate Marshall considering a run for the 2nd, even that former stipulation is up in the air. The upside here will be for the Democrats, regardless.

New Hampshire


Districts: 2

Who’s in charge? Split (Dem Governor, GOP Legislature)

Is that important? Not a bit

New Hampshire’s congressional districts really haven’t changed much in living memory, simply trading towns based on Census figures every ten years. The GOP legislature may try to draw very friendly lines for itself, but as we saw in the last decade, New Hampshire politics functions as a series of tidal wave pendulum swings, if I may mix metaphors. Independents are unpredictable and fickle, and tend to break hard against one party or the other.

DE, MA, MD & NH Primary Results Thread

9:06pm: Holy shit, let’s continue the party over here.

9:05pm: Update from the DE DoE! With 78% in (252 of 325), it’s O’Donnell 54 and Castle 46. 3600 votes separate them. Over in Maryland, MD-04 has been called for Donna Edwards, not much contest there either. Maybe also worth mentioning: the GOP primary in NH-Gov got called long ago (with only 7% reporting): John Stephen easily defeated his weird opposition, teabagging businessman Jack Kimball and social con activist Karen Testerman, 77-17-8.

9:00pm: In DE-AL, Glen Urquhart is, as PPP predicted, leading Michelle Rollins. He’s up 51-46 with 37% in.

8:50pm: And it wasn’t even a contest in Maryland — the AP has called the GOP gube nomination for Bob Ehrlich. He’s sitting on 82% of the vote so far.

8:49pm: In MA-09, douchebag conservadem Stephen Lynch leads Mac D’Allesandro by 43% with 3% in.

8:47pm: I can’t get through to the DE DoE, but the latest AP count has O’Donnell up by 55-45 with 37% in. 2300 vote spread.

8:43pm: Some non-DE updates: In MA-10, state Sen. Rob O’Leary leads Norfolk DA Bill Keating by 57-43, and Jeff Perry leads Joe Malone by 58-35 with 5% in. In MD-01, Andy Harris is leading Rob Fisher by 40 points.

8:39pm: We’re now up to 31% reporting in DE, and O’Donnell leads by 54-46 (or about 1400 votes).

8:37pm: We’re up to 22% reporting in DE, and O’Donnell leads by 56-44! 1450 vote spread.

8:35pm: Before conking out, the last DoE update had O’Donnell up by 55-45 with 17% reporting. 900 vote margin.

8:33pm: Folks, looks like we’ve crashed the DE DoE site. Restrain yourselves! (Yeah, as if that’s possible.)

8:31pm: Now it’s 14% reporting in Delaware. O’Donnell now up 55-45, with a 700-vote margin.

8:29pm: We’re up to about 11% reporting in Delaware, and O’Donnell leads Castle by 55-45. Hang on to your butts…

8:26pm: Now up to 25 precincts in Delaware, Christine O’Donnell is now leading Mike Castle 52-48, or about 180 votes.

8:22pm: We have some early numbers from the Delaware DoE site! Nutbag Christine O’Donnell leads Mike Castle by 655-449, or 59-41, with 8 out of 325 “Districts” reporting.

8:13pm: I just got off the horn with the Elections Division at the New Hampshire Secretary of State office. They inform me that it’s NEVER too early for a ganja break.

7:51pm: Via the Twitter, Delaware elections officials are expecting a quick count there, with most of the results being known by 9:30.

7:49pm: We’re up to 5% in, and Lamontagne is up by 53-32. Much of that is based on Lamontagne’s strength in his hometown of Manchester, though.

7:44pm: Checking in with the House races, baggage-laden Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta leads Rich Ashooh by 46-28 with 9% in. Sean Mahoney, a guy who’s spent a lot in recent weeks, is only pulling in 19%. In NH-02, ex-Rep. Charlie Bass leads Jen Horn by only 8%, but we’re just looking at a few hundred votes so far. (Likewise, Ann McLane Kuster has an early lead on Katrina Swett for the Dem nod.)

7:40pm: 3.7% is in, and Ovide leads by 53-32.

7:34pm: We have some early results in New Hampshire. With 2% in, Ovide Lamontagne leads Kelly Ayotte by 23 points, 54-31!

Polls will be closing in Delaware, Massachusetts and Maryland at 8pm Eastern (some polls have already closed in New Hampshire; the rest will follow at 8pm). We’ll be using this thread to follow the returns, and we’ll check in with Rhode Island, New York, and Wisconsin when polls close in those states at 9.


PBI (Party Brand Index) Part 6: West Virginia & New Hampshire

PBI or Party Brand Index is a concept I developed (with some much appreciated help from pl515) as a replacement for PVI.  PVI (Partisan Voting Index), which is measured by averaging the percentage of the vote from the last two presidential elections in each house district, and comparing it to the nation as a whole, is a useful shorthand for understanding the liberal v. conservative dynamics of a district. But PVI in my opinion it falls short in a number of areas. First it doesn’t explain states like Arkansas or West Virginia. These states have districts who’s PVIs indicates a Democrat shouldn’t win, yet Democrats (outside of the presidency) win quite handily. Secondly why is this the case in Arkansas but not Oklahoma with similar PVI rated districts?

Lastly PVI can miss trends as it takes 4 years to readjust. The purpose of Party Brand Index is to give a better idea of how a candidate does not relative to how the presidential candidate did, but compared to how their generic PARTY should be expected to perform. I’ve tackled IN, NC, CO, VA, MO, OK, AR, now I will look at the swing states of West Virginia and New Hampshire.

First like always I would like to post the data, then I will offer some analysis. My basic pattern is to work my way “out” from the “Purple States” to the more Blue and Red ones. Once in a while I like to skip my normal pattern of working out from purple states.  I’m often curious on how my model would work in states like that are deeply blue at the local level, but deeply red at the presidential level. I will offer a refresher on them later. But first let’s examine the swings state of New Hampshire and the “split” state of West Virginia.



Although PBI shows some level of pessimism for Carol Shea-Porter in the NH 1st, the trend in her district is truly astounding. From -26% to a +6% Democratic in 2 election cycles. Also during that time NH has seen a 5% rise in the percentage of the electorate that calls itself liberal (conservatives fell 2%) and the party split went from 32:25 Republican to 29:27 Democrat. Although this district isn’t completely safe the trend is good for Team Blue. She is still the top GOP target in the New England.

After I come across a few “conservative” Democrats, I run a “correction” factor to account for them being Blue dogs. The general idea is that the distance they are able to maintain from the national party may help them win over voters who are more reluctant to vote for Democrats. Interestingly enough both West Virginian Democratic Reps despite coming from a Red, Socially conservative state are not members of the Blue Dog caucus. I never the less ran there data to see how my model would respond. I actually was surprised where they fell on the partisan and ideological scale. As I explained a few diaries ago I will use ADJUSTMENT FACTOR 2 in all subsequent corrections.


As a recap, here is the first “batch” of Blue Dogs that I examined correcting for partisanship and ideology. Notice the differences in both partisanship and ideology between the West Virginian congressman, and the AK and OK ones.  Nate Silver has been hopeful that Obama could recapture West Virgina for the Democrats. This data shows West Virgina although often lumped in with the other highland/Appalachia region that turned most heavily against Obama is quite a bit more progressive then other states in that area.  If they become comfortable with Obama’s race he could maybe overcome the recent red-tide there.


As a reminder ranking a members ideology is a somewhat subjective decision. Potentially what’s one person “liberal” position, is another person “conservative” ones, remember the wingers developed a model that ranked the Sen. Obama as more liberal than Bernie Sanders or Russ Feingold. But partisanship, how often a member votes with their party is an absolute number. A Democrat who represents a “republican district” would be expected to “break with their party” on votes that don’t reflect their districts values.

I couldn’t find a website that ranks all the districts based on their PVI (I only could find list of them by state not rank, help please anyone), therefor I substituted a PVI ranking with where each member ranked in the Democratic caucus. In the 110th Congress the average Democrat had an ideological ranking of 170 (by the way this is a result of several members being tied, this is the medium not the midpoint). The average of members towards the center was 191, former Daily Kos celeb Ciro Rodriguez fell at exactly 191. The average of members towards the liberal side was 121, which falls between Rep. Larson of Conn. and Rep. Eshoo of CA. As or partisanship in the 110th Congress the average Democrat voted with their party 92.3% of the time.

As a clarification in Adjustment #1, I used a deviation factor based on how far each member was from the center of the Democratic caucus. Adjustment #2 was based on how far each member was from outside the standard deviation of the caucus. In Adjustment #3 I removed the partisanship factor to see what effect it would have. As I explained a few diaries ago I will use ADJUSTMENT FACTOR 2 in all subsequent corrections.

Because there are “only” 50 states (as opposed to evaluating 435 house members), I will at a later date have all the states ranked by PVI so I can adjust the Senator’s rankings. I developed Senate factors for the four states the four blue dogs came from. In the interest of full disclosure, my source for ideological rankings is Voteview, and for partisanship it was the Washington Post. This is still a work in progress, I’m making adjustments, and continuing to crunch numbers for more states. I also will use the adjustment factor on a liberal member of congress to see what effect that will have.

Proposal For 2012 Primaries

From December 2007 to March 2008, I wrote various drafts of a proposal on how our political parties — starting in 2012 — might adopt primary election procedures that would better serve our country in selecting presidential candidates. I originally drafted a hypothetical calendar for 2008, based on general election results from 2004. Now that we have the results for 2008, I can now propose a calendar specific to 2012.

The system by which our parties choose their presidential candidates has proven itself to be, at best, highly questionable — at worst, severely flawed.

The primary calendar we need most is one that is built on an orderly and rational plan — one that is based on mathematics and on recent historical outcomes — and not on an arbitrary, publicity-driven, system of one-upsmanship. The change I propose would provide for a more effective, equitable process than the one we have now.

The following factors are the key ones to consider:

Margin of Victory

– The state primaries would be placed in order according to the leading candidates’ margins of victory in the preceding general election — with the states registering the closest margins of victory going first.

For example, John McCain won Missouri by 0.1% and Barack Obama won North Carolina by 0.4%; conversely, McCain won Wyoming by 33%, and Obama won Hawaii by 45%. Therefore, the primary calendar I propose would commence with primaries being held in states such as Missouri and North Carolina — and would close with such states as Wyoming and Hawaii.

– The purpose of ordering the states according to the margin of victory is to help the parties determine which candidates can appeal to those states that have found themselves most recently on the Electoral Divide. A narrow margin in the general election is reflective of an evenly divided electorate. In this scenario, a candidate who appeals to, say, Florida and Montana is more likely to appeal to a greater number of Americans on the whole.

Iowa, New Hampshire, and Fairness

– Iowa and New Hampshire might object to this new system, given their longstanding tradition of being the first states to cast their ballots. However, so long as Iowa and New Hampshire retain their record of being fairly bipartisan states, they’ll maintain their position towards the front of the primary schedule.

– Just because a state should have its primary later in the season does not mean that that state will prove invaluable to the process. Indiana and North Carolina weren’t held until May 6th, but those two states might have very well decided the fate of the 2008 Democratic nomination.

– This new system allows other states to play a greater role in how the parties select their candidates. For example, Missouri and North Carolina would be two of the states to get the limelight in 2012. Likewise, based on the results to come in November of 2012, a still-different slate of states could have a more significant role come 2016. A rotating system will be healthier and fairer.

Groupings of Five, and Timing & Spacing

– By placing states into groupings of five, no one state will be overly emphasized on any given date.

– Candidates will still need to address the concerns of individual states, whilst having to maintain an overall national platform. For example, a candidate will be less able to campaign against NAFTA in Ohio whilst campaigning for it in Florida.

– Given that each state has its own system for electing its delegates, these groupings of five states will act as an overall balancer. Ideally, caucuses will be done away with altogether by 2012. However — should that not happen — states with caucuses, states with open primaries, and states with closed primaries can all coexist within a grouping, therefore no one system will hold too much influence on any given date.

– Racial and geographic diversity in this process has been a great concern for many. The narrowest margins of victory in 2008 were in a wide variety of regions — the Midwest, the Great Lakes, the Mid-Atlantic, the South, and the West.

– All parties would have an interest in addressing these narrow-margined states early on. The incumbent will want to win over those states that were most in doubt of him in the previous election, and opposing parties will want to put forth candidates who have the best chance of winning over those very same states.

– Primaries will be held biweekly, giving candidates and the media enough time to process and respond to the outcomes of each wave of primaries.

– Washington DC will be placed in the same grouping as whichever state — Virginia or Maryland — is closer to its own margin of victory.

– American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Americans Abroad — not having Electoral votes of their own — will determine their own primary dates, so long as they occur between the first grouping and the last grouping.

Under these guidelines, the proposed calendar for the 2012 primary season is:

January 2012

Tue, 1/10


North Carolina




Tue, 1/24





South Dakota

Tue, 2/7

North Dakota


South Carolina


New Hampshire

Tue, 2/21





West Virginia

Tue, 2/26



New Jersey

New Mexico


Tue, 3/6






Tue, 3/20






Tue, 4/3






Washington DC

Tue, 4/17



New York


Rhode Island

Tue, 5/1






NH-Sen: C4O Spotlights Jeanne Shaheen

(Proudly cross-posted at Clintonistas for Obama)

OK, now that the convention is over… It’s time for us to get back to work! And for us here at C4O, this means getting more & better Democrats elected. So today, I’d like to introduce you to a truly awesome person who will make a fantastic Senator from New Hampshire.

Are you ready to meet her?

Jeanne Shaheen was the first woman ever elected as Governor of New Hampshire. But not only did Gov. Shaheen make history this way, as she also worked hard as Governor to build a clean, green energy infrastructure in the state, as well as implement real ethics reform, improve New Hampshire’s schools, and advocate civil rights for all. Oh yes, and her list of accomplishments didn’t end after she left office. From 2005-07, she was Director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Now contrast this with Republican Incumbent John Sununu. He’s an out-of-touch George W. Bush Republican who would rather side with Bush than the people of New Hampshire. The people of New Hampshire are ready for change, but Sununu only offers more of the same.

Fortunately, the race here has become quite competitive. In fact, Democrats may even have a slight advantage here. But still, that doesn’t mean we should take a win here for granted. Bush, McCain, and Sununu will do anything to win New Hampshire this fall, so we Democrats must be ready to fight back!

And guess what? Democrats are lining up to support Jeanne Shaheen! Emily’s List is on board, as well as the DSCC, the Democratic organization that supports our Senate candidates. New Hampshire is poised to be one of our best Senate pick-up opportunities, so we need to be prepared to win!

So please join us in standing up for great Democrats like Jeanne Shaheen! let’s say no more to the GOP and its watys of the past. Let’s say “Yes, We Can” and make real change happen today! 🙂

NH -01: Carol Shea-Porter in Manchester: “There is no excuse”

cross-posted at Blue Hampshire
Image not available

On Sunday I attended a Vets BBQ at the Sweeney VFW post in Manchester, NH to support the re-election of Carol-Shea Porter (D-NH) to the US Congress from the first district. An overflow crowd, they even ran out of hamburgers, greeted CSP and her guest in NH that day, Congressman Chet Edwards (D-TX) from the 17th district which includes the village of Crawford which is currently missing the idiot that is currently and woefully living in the White House, most woefully.

The two have become fast friends in DC as Congressman Edwards, Carol’s new BFF down there, is the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and VA (MILCON/VA). He came to NH to see what’s up first hand. He was impressed with the turnout at the event, so was I.

Carol’s remarks were brief and focused on the outrage that NH is currently the only state in America that does not have a full service VA hospital. Follow me below the fold for all the remarks because as Carol told us all in attendance: “There is no excuse.”

Bill Duncan’s first hand account including a lot more specifics about Carol and Edwards’s efforts in the state can be seen here: Veterans Turn Out for Carol Shea-Porter.

Edwards begins his introduction of Carol with a great anecdote which contains a really harsh and stark truth about the business of politics, bonus points to the Congressman. As I said earlier many people showed up for the BBQ. That surprised me especially on such a beautiful day when there have been many, many wash-out weekends this summer. I also noticed that it wasn’t the typical VFW crowd you would expect either. People were there from a variety of age groups, some brought their kids and many were younger. We even had an RFK grandson in attendance.

Image not availableVideo: Carol Shea-Porter in Manchester (8:03)


And I want to just say that one person can make a difference. I carry a very heavy burden on my life, I want you to know that when I was 26 years old, I had the gall to run against a former economics professor of mine for Congress …

I lost by 115 votes to a guy named Phil Gramm. I don’t want you to have the burden that I’ve felt since 1978. At least my credibility ought to be good because everything I said about him turned out to be true … My point is this, if I had had a meeting like this on a Sunday afternoon like this and this many people had gotten one extra person to go to the polls Phil Gramm ladder never would have become law.

No argument there, Congressman Edwards. There is certainly an urgency in every race from Obama on down in this cycle, but the down ballot races that don’t get the attention they deserve may very well be close all across the country. In 2006, Carol was swept into office against incumbent Jeb Bradley on the crest of a throw the bums out mentality. But this year Democrats all over the map have to hold those seats and they have to hold these seats on the record. It’s only been a couple of years and the record is not as strong and clear as it could be with Bush and the Senate filibuster blocking just about everything that Democrats were sent to Washington to do. It’s not going to be a tidal wave in this district this time around. And that could be true all over the country.

Image not availableCarol then took to the mic:

When I first got to DC you know I realized that the Veteran’s Hospital has been closed for years now as a full service hospital. Nobody did anything about, why not? What do I have to do to bring it back? So I took a look down the list and said, “who do I have to talk to?” And I found Chet. And I ran up to Chet and said, “Chet, you are my new best friend.” He’s your best friend too, because he works very, very hard for Veterans.

He’s worked with me, he’s come to see what we’re talking about. We’ve met with the veterans and he’s going to carry that story back to Washington.

There’s just no excuse for not having either a full service hospital or equivalent care in your own community. (applause)

There’s also no excuse that our Congressmen and Senators knew this and stayed silent. There’s just no excuse…

If you signed up to serve your country from NH why shouldn’t you receive the same benefits as someone from Massachusetts? Or Connecticut? Or from Iowa? What wrong with us? We deserve the same treatment. (applause)

Carol tells us that it isn’t solely nobility that motivates her to act like a “squeaky wheel” on this issue in DC. No, she’s got “a dog in this fight too,” as a former military spouse she is directly affected by this outrage and judging from the remarks on Sunday Carol is personally invested in the well being of veterans around the state and in her district.

Far beyond the hot-button issue of the VA and health care in NH Carol talks about why this fight is so important to all the citizens of this country.

Image not available

I checked with my husband and when he signed his papers, he didn’t check whether he was a republican or a Democrat. He was an American going to serve his country.

So we cannot discriminate and we cannot allow one party to hold back on treatment, opportunity and honoring commitments to the veterans. We have to serve each other.

Carol brings home the point that commitments made long ago effect the nation as a whole today. As a member of the Armed Services committee in the Congress she knows that America faces plenty of threats all over the globe today. She tells us that the new generation coming up judges the quality of care against the desire to serve. And I really agree with that statement.

We don’t rely on a draft to staff our armed forces today. We rely on a professional, volunteer army to meet our needs. After 8 years of George Bush, the recent Walter Reed scandal, a generation of cutbacks in services across the boards and the heightened state of readiness required to meet our current needs in America today, no issue is more symbolic of our government’s intention to honor those commitments made to every one that served than veteran’s health care and the sorry state of the VA in NH today.

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We need them … We need people to sign-up for the Armed services. We need them to look at how we treat our veterans and say, “Yes. I trust America that should I be wounded or should I be killed they’ll take care of my family and they will take care of me. They won’t break that sacred promise.”

And so the young are looking to see what we do right now and if we truly honor our commitments.

pictured are Carol and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) in Kuwait

The answer here from me is: Yes we do. We must … Keep up the good work and we will make sure that veterans today and tomorrow have what we promised them yesterday. Thank you very much.

Image not availableCarol then saved the best for last after wishing Mike Lopez a Happy Birthday and thanking Jim Craig (“one class act”) for emceeing the event. When talking about the importance of sending Bob Bruce to the governor’s counsel she says:

We have someone who is running for executive counsel, Bob Bruce, who also comes from the people. And so I appreciate you looking at his record and his concern for all of us. His slogan goes along the line of “send your neighbor.” And that’s the best thing you could do. Send one of us. Fill all of these positions with somebody that knows your story because we are one of you.

You know my slogan: Running for the rest of us. Thank you for the honor of serving you in Washington. And I would ask that you send Democrats up and down the ticket because it’s not the fact that we’re Democrats. It’s that we’re holding the American agenda right now. We’re the party that has come together to say that we have to save the middle-class and fix the country … Democrats and other people will be very well served by Democrats in Washington and in NH.

The lighting sucked at the VFW so my apologies for the poor quality of the video and pics in this diary, but the audio is clear as a bell and the remarks were pretty sweet. I hope you enjoyed the show.

So where is the urgency to support a great candidate like Carol Shea-Porter in her re-election bid this year? Well may you ask.

While the Obama race is vital to the future of the country so too are the down ballot races that will determine the climate and ultimately the success President Obama can expect once he gets sworn into office. NH-01 has been targeted as a Republican pick-up by Freedom Watch who I predict will be the new swift-boaters in this cycle. They’ve already been running ads smearing Carol’s position on offshore oil drilling and Brian Larsen from PoliticsNH.com told me on Sunday that they’ve just announced their third ad buy in the state targeting both Carol and Paul Hodes. By no means is Carol’s re-election to the Congress going to be a slam dunk and in preparation for my “re-emersion” into NH politics I came across a very disturbing website that I think holds the playbook for the ugliness that we may see unfold in NH’s first district in the coming weeks.

Democrats are far outstripping Republican fundraising efforts from the top to bottom all over the country with some exceptions and nowhere is a disturbing trend more apparent than in down ballot races like Carol’s.

“There’s a good chance 527 groups will dominate Republican rescue efforts in congressional races this year,” said David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report.”

“It’s clear the NRCC is outsourcing their attacks to right-wing smear organizations. We have been anticipating this activity for months and have been preparing our candidates with the tools they need to respond effectively,” said DCCC spokesman Doug Thornell.


With the Democrats holding a money advantage, the GOP’s best hope may be that independent outside groups like Freedom’s Watch throw a lot of money into congressional races. As of now, however, the Democrats look to pick up significant numbers of additional seats.


And just in time I found a website called The Real CSP, link withheld for obvious reasons. I don’t know who or what really is behind this scum that passes for political education but let’s just look at one egregious example. Under the heading “Deserting out Troops” the website claims: “Shea-Porter put partisan politics above the needs of troops and commanders on the ground by voting for a Democrat-sponsored bill mandating extension of troop deployments overseas. (House Roll Call 795)

But if you look at govtracks.us for HR 3159 you’ll see a summary from Project Vote Smart and that CSP was a co-sponsor of the bill that provides the following:

  • Mandates that before a member of the regular armed forces be redeployed to Iraq, he or she must be given a period of rest at least as long as the duration of his or her most recent deployment [Sec. 2 (a)].
  • Mandates that before a member of the armed forces reserve be redeployed to Iraq, he or she must be given a period of rest at least three times as long as the duration of his or her most recent deployment [Sec. 2 (b)].
  • Exempts special operations forces and forces used to facilitate deployments [Sec. 2 (c)].
  • Allows the President to waive the rest period requirements in order to meet a threat to national security if the President certifies the necessity of the deployment to Congress within 30 days [Sec. 2 (d)].
  • Allows the rest requirement to be waived for members of the Armed Forces who voluntarily request mobilization [Sec. 2 (e)].

So she votes for passage of the HR 3159 on the next vote Roll Call 796, unlike 190 Republicans in the Congress, and the website/smear campaign would lead you to believe that she does not support the bill, which she voted for and co-sponsored. Ya know, that kind of “deserting the troops” Unreal. All rightey, looks like we’ve got our work cut out for us.

DownwithTyrrany also reports that Wal-Mart is targeting Carol in her race.

But you’re not going to find Carol Shea-Porter on the lists of congressmembers who take special interests money and then vote for them instead of for her constituents. Her predecessor, Jeb Bradley, always did– and now those same big special interests are back shoveling money into his campaign, trying to help him reclaim his old– their old– seat. Carol’s voting record is clear as a bell; she votes in the interests of her constituents. Period. She doesn’t have millions of dollars in corporate money hanging over her head as an incentive– or a threat– to vote for special deals for corporations.

This election in NH’s first is not going to be any kind of pretty. Without credible media voices debunking these kinds of scurrilous charges, attack ads and misleading ad campaigns to put in kindly can sway voters. Mud sticks, especially if you throw enough of it.

We hold the American agenda in this election and Carol holds it everyday for the people of NH’s first. Get out there to support a great public servant and in so doing we’ll be supporting each other.

Image not availableTo donate to Carol’s re-election campaign click here, but don’t bother if you’re a DC lobbyist – she doesn’t take your money.

Also consider volunteering or to sign-up for the excellent news letter try the main website. The intro video is set for auto-play.

It’s going to get tres not jolie out there before this one is over, kids. So get out there. She needs you now. We need each other now – more than ever.

This diary is another in the continuing guerrilla vlogger series. I’m not associated with the campaign in any way shape or form and most importantly I speak only for myself when blogging. I do all these vlogs as a citizen journalist, as in I’m not paid. I do everything with an ordinary mini-DV, a PC, Movie Maker and free tools available on the web. Thanks for reading.

Is getting a filibuster-proof Senate a realistic goal for Democrats?


Cross-posted at Election Inspection

 Before looking at whether or not the Democrats can expect to get the magic sixty, lets review the seats which have the potential to flip, starting from the ones most likely to flip to the ones least likely to flip (anything not listed here means that we consider the seats to be completely safe). (Note, these are all Election Inspection's ratings) 

Solid Democratic (Pick-up)

  • Virginia (Warner)
  • New Mexico (Domenici)
Leans Democratic
  • Sununu (New Hampshire)
  • Landrieu (Lousiana)
  • Colorado (Allard)
  • Stevens (Alaska)

Leans Republican

  • Smith (Oregon)
  • Coleman (Minnesota)
  • Collins (Maine)
  • Wicker (Mississippi-B)
  • McConnell (Kentucky)

Likely Republican (Open Seat retention)

  • Idaho (Craig)

Possible Darkhorse Races (Republican Incumbent)

  • Dole (North Carolina)
  • Cornyn (Texas)
  • Inhofe (Oklahoma)
  • Roberts (Kansas)

First of all, I think we can safely assume that Democrats will win in New Mexico and Virginia, so we can start off with a net gain of two seats for the Democrats. So, to start off with in the second session, the Democrats are basically guaranteed to start from a vantage point of 50 seats. With the way the Leans Democratic races have been playing out (including the newly added AK-Sen), I'm pretty confident that the Democrats will win at least three and probably all four (Pollster shows Democrats leading by at least 5 points in Colorado, New Hampshire, and Alaska) and while it seems like it's close in Louisiana, with the exception of Zogby, Landrieu has shown to have a consistent lead of no less than 3 points (with the most recent Rasmussen poll giving Landrieu a 5 point edge). So, we'll give the Democrats three more seats and put them up to 53 seats (by the way, this doesn't include Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman who caucus with the Democrats). Alright, so the score now should be at Democrats 53 guaranteed seats and Republicans with 34 guaranteed seats. Now then, let's assume that Republicans win all of the seats which I consider to be either Likely or a potential Dark-horse (which, realistically, is more likely to happen than not), Republicans will have 38 seats (from now on, I'm going to consider Sanders to be a Democrat, for the purposes of voting, which gives the Democrats 54 seats and I'm going to consider Lieberman a wild-card as far as voting in concerned since, even though Lieberman has taken a more Conservative position on several issues, he is still considered to be more likely to support Democratic domestic agendas than Republican ones). So we have a score of 54-39-1, which means that for Democrats to win a filibuster-proof Senate which doesn't rely on Lieberman, they'll have to win 6 additional seats on top of the 5 which I'm projecting for them to win already, now how realistic a shot to Democrats have at this? 

I believe that more likely than not, Democrats will win in Louisiana, so we'll give the Democrats that extra seat which puts the score at 55-39-1 (5 undecided). I also think that Republicans should win in Kentucky. so the score now stands at 55-40-1 (4 undecided), which also basically eliminates any reasonable possibility of Democrats getting to the magic 60 number without Lieberman (which, might not be as bad as people think). So, that means that whether or not the Democrats can get to a filibuster proof senate rests on Minnesota, Maine, Oregon, and Mississippi-B. Mississippi-B and Oregon look to be within striking distance but Maine and Minnesota, seem to be moving away from us, so right now, I'd say that, at most, Democrats will probably end up with 57 seats (including Sanders) Republicans with 42 seats, and Joe Lieberman as a wild-card in the Senate.

Doesn't look like we're going to get our filibuster-proof majority this time around, but we'll do well enough that it's possible we can set 2010 up to get there.

Senate rankings: Dems still looking for new targets

Whatever the make-up of the 111th Congress, no one will be able to say that Democrats didn’t try everything in their power to reach a 60-seat majority. As of the spring of 2008, there already were eight highly competitive seats that no one would be surprised to see turn-over: With Virginia and New Mexico all but lost for Republicans (and Senator Ensign acknowledging just as much), the GOP is in grave danger in New Hampshire, Colorado, Alaska, Mississippi, Oregon and Minnesota. On the other hand, Republican attempts to go on the offensive have been disastrous, with only Louisiana looking competitive.

Among these nine initial seats – eight of which are held by Republicans – the rating of four has changed this month. New Mexico has moved from lean Democrat to likely Democrat, Colorado from toss-up to lean Democrat, and Oregon from lean Republican to toss-up. Only Minnesota has moved in the opposite direction, from toss-up to Lean Republican.

9 competitive seats is already a large number – comparable to the field of play two years ago. But with 2008 shaping up to be as good a Democratic year as 2006, the DSCC is aware that it has to do the most of this opportunity and is eager to put even more seats in play. As a result, we have seen a lot  of actions since my previous Senate rankings in the second and third-tier of GOP-held seats: In North Carolina, strong polling by Kay Hagan forced Elizabeth Dole to air a round of advertisements, but the DSCC has reserved up to $6 million of air time in the fall. This race is the most likely candidate to join the “initial nine.”

In Maine, Democrats have still not been able to tie Susan Collins to her party label, but the $5 million the DSCC is budgeting for the fall campaign is a huge amount of money for this inexpensive state. In Kentucky, Bruce Lunsford’s primary victory certainly exasperated progressives, but the first slate of polls suggests all hope is not lost for Democrats. As for Texas, Kansas and even Idaho, Democrats would need titanic shifts that for now remain unimaginable, but the mere fact that these races are being discussed is horrendous news for the GOP.

Will Democrats be able to go beyond eight serious targets and seriously contest one of these long-shot races? How close will they come to a sweep of their initial eight targets and will they save Louisiana? These are the obvious questions to ask out of these new rankings and I will be closely monitoring any signs of further shifts in the electoral map. More precise questions that will come to determine the make-up of the next Senate include: Will John Sununu be able to take advantage of McCain’s good name in New Hampshire to appeal to independents? How much will Obama boost black turnout in Louisiana and in Mississippi? Will Al Franken be able to put his personal controversies behind him? And is the Maine electorate already over Bush?

The full new rankings are available here, with this accompanying map:

Outlook: Democratic pick-up a net 5-9 Senate seats.

Prediction: Democrats pick-up a net 7 seats, for a 58-42 majority.

Likely Takeover (2 Republican seats, 0 Democratic seat)

1. Virginia (Open seat; Previous Ranking: 1)

It is hard to believe that Jim Gilmore’s situation has worsened over the past two months given how much of an underdog the former Republican Governor was to start with. It is never a good sign when a presumptive nominee wins his party’s nod with 50.3% of the vote, but that is what happened to Gilmore at his party’s nominating convention. As if this proof of an unenergized conservative base was not enough, the state GOP’s moderate wing is also backing away from Gilmore: incumbent Senator John Warner, the Republican whom Gilmore is seeking to replace, is refusing to endorse his own party’s nominee! The only hope for Republicans to retain this seat is for Barack Obama to tap Mark Warner as his running-mate. Warner might very well have been the favorite in the veepstakes… if he were not favored to win this Senate race.

2. New Mexico (Open; Last ranking: 2 and lean take-over)

Three giants of New Mexico politics entered this race after Senator Domenici announced his retirement back in October. The political career of one of them has already been cut short: Rep. Heather Wilson lost a heated and narrow GOP primary to Rep. Steve Pearce, leaving him in a difficult match-up against Democratic Rep. Tom Udall. Pearce is much more conservative than Wilson, making it more difficult for him to appeal to independents in this blue-leaning year, but Wilson had her own ethical issues.

This is an open seat in a swing-state in a Democratic year — that by itself is a recipe for success Democrats, just as it was in Minnesota in 2006. In a very similar situation, Amy Klochubar opened a large lead against Rep. Kennedy in what was supposed to be a competitive open seat. Now, Udall is leading Pearce by 2:1 in recent polls and has 6 times more cash on hand than his Republican rival. That means Pearce is dependent on the help of the NRSC, help that is unlikely to come. In mid-June, Sen. Ensign, the NRSC chairman, implied that his committee was giving up on the Virginia and New Mexico races. That just about seals the deal in this race.

Lean Takeover (2 R, 0 D)

3. New Hampshire (Incumbent: John Sununu; Last ranking: 3)

The parallels between this race and Pennsylvania’s 2006 Senate race continue. Despite predictions that the race is bound to tighten and that John Sununu is too good a politician to go down without a fight, polls are showing no sign of a competitive race – with the latest numbers finding Shaheen leading by 22%. But Republicans are hoping that the more accurate parallel for the Sununu-Shaheen race will be North Carolina’s 2004 race, when Rep. Burr had stockpiled his cash to launch an ad blitzkrieg starting in September and had turned a consistent deficit into a narrow victory on Election Day. Now, it is Sununu who is saving up for a big push in the fall; as of the end of the second quarter, he has $5 million in the bank versus $2 million for Jeanne Shaheen. Will a late wave of advertisements be enough?

4. Colorado (Open; Last Ranking: 4 and toss-up)

For the first time since the November rankings, Colorado is not rated a “toss-up.” As had been expected from the day the match-up between Mark Udall and Bob Schaffer was set up, the Democrat has pull ahead and is now consistently ahead by 9-10% in recent polls. A combination of factors explains why Udall finally jumped up to his first lead. First, this year’s Democratic bent gives Democrats an edge in any open seat race that should have been tight. Second, Bob Schaffer had a bad few months, in particular over stories broken by the Denver Post about his association with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Third, Udall fundraising advantage has allowed his campaign to spend more aggressively on ads. Udall outspent Shaffer 3:1 in the second quarter, and the DSCC jumped in with an attack ad of its own.

Meanwhile, we are starting to get a better idea of the campaign arguments Udall and Schaffer will use in the months ahead, and the first debate that opposed the two men in mid-July set some battle lines: Energy is already a hot topic in the campaign, with the two candidates exchanging barbs on the subject and Udall has devoted the entirety of one of his first ads to energy. Schaffer is determined to paint Udall as weak and unable to make much of a decision, while Udall is casting himself as a bipartisan with a commitment to consensus. It does look like Mark Udall is running as more of a moderate than his cousin Tom in New Mexico; beyond his insistence on bipartisanship, Mark voted for the FISA bill and Tom voted against it.

Toss-up (3 R, 1 D)

5. Alaska (Incumbent: Ted Stevens; Last Ranking: 5)

Ted Stevens is suffering from the corruption scandal that has ensnared him and the state’s Republican Party and it is even affecting his fundraising abilities, as Mark Begich outraised the entrenched incumbent in the second quarter. Contrary to Rep. Young in the at-large House race, Stevens does not face a credible primary challenge, a relief for Democrats as the state’s red leaning would kick in to help a Republican not plagued by ethical controversies.

Begich has been at worst tied with Stevens for months now. He went up on TV in early July, with one ad introducing himself and the other devoted to energy issues (with a joint pledge to develop alternative energies and to fight to “open ANWR”). Perhaps boosted by his increased media exposure and his advertisement efforts, Begich has jumped to a 9% lead in the latest poll, though we will naturally need confirmation of that number before drawing any conclusion.

The Democrat’s efforts will be boosted by those of the Obama campaign, which has unexpectedly decided to make Alaska into a battleground state at the presidential level. Alaska polls have shown a tight presidential race, a sharp departure from past cycles in which Bush crushed his opponents by more than 20%. That means that  contrary to Knowles in the 2004 Senate race, Begich will not have to swim counter-current and that he might benefit from Obama’s organizational efforts.

6. Mississippi (Incumbent: Roger Wicker; Last Ranking: 8 )

Ronnie Musgrove and Roger Wicker were once roommates, but they are quickly becoming bitter rivals. Polls confirm that the race is a pure toss-up. The Republican incumbent has a clear advantage on the financial front ($3 million of cash on hand versus less than $800K for Musgrove at the end of the second quarter), but the DSCC has already rushed in to help Musgrove respond to Wicker’s ads, demonstrating how seriously it took this contest. The DSCC’s move triggered further controversy: Republicans are charging that the ads break campaign finance rules. Democrats answered by filing their own complaint about Wicker’s fundraising.

It is true that Musgrove would have had a better chance had this special election been held in March, as it should have. Now, Wicker has more time to introduce himself to voters and blunt Musgrove’s high name recognition; the GOP believes November’s turnout will be more uniform than it was in MS-01 in May and that a more conservative electorate will give Wicker victory. But Democrats remain confident: First, there will be no party labels next to the candidates’ names. Second, this is one down-the-ballot race in which the Obama candidacy could have a very clear effect: If there is a significant boost in black turnout, it could prove all Musgrove needs to pick-up this seat. The African-American vote is more than ever the key metric of this senatorial race, and one polls are unlikely to capture accurately.

7. Louisiana (Incumbent: Mary Landrieu; Last Ranking: 6)

Not much has changed in this race since the end of May. For one, Louisiana remains the one credible pick-up opportunity for Republicans, and as such will remain a high priority for the NRSC. Second, the two candidates remain on par financially, with Kennedy keeping up with Landrieu’s fundraising for the second quarter in a row, though the incumbent retains a 2:1 advantage in the cash on hand department. As for polls, they show  Landrieu ahead but the race has tightened a bit, with the  Democrat ahead mid-single digits and under 50% in a number of recent polls. This is one state in which the presidential race is likely to help the Republican, as Louisiana is not a state Obama will do much of a dent. He might increase black turnout a bit, but the African-American vote’s decrease since Katrina will be an advantage to Kennedy. One strong argument Democrats hold is statements made by Kennedy in 2004 when he was running as a Democrat for Senate.

8. Oregon (Incumbent: Gordon Smith; Last Ranking: 9 and lean retention)

Democrats have targeted Gordon Smith since the very first days of the cycle. But a disappointing recruitment process followed by primary difficulties for Jeff Merkley made Democrats anxious that they could be wasting an opportunity here. Since the May 20th primary, however, Merkley has grown stronger and is consistently polling within a few points of Smith. In fact, Merkley led in a poll for the first time just a few days ago. News that Merkley had outraised Smith in the second quarter hardened his position as a strong challenger.

Smith has been aware of the target he has on his back and has been preparing since the start of the cycle. Despite being distanced in second quarter fundraising, he still has a 8:1 in cash on hand and so much of Merkley’s money was spent in the primary that his campaign is now in financial difficulty. Furthermore, Smith has been rapidly moving to the center, aware that he is at danger of becoming this cycle’s Lincoln Chaffee: a Republican incumbent in a Democratic state who drowns in the blue tsunami, heightened by the probability that Obama scores a large victory in Oregon.

Smith’s solution has been to throw his party label overboard and run as a consensus candidate ready to embrace both side. And he is going very far in that direction. Not only did he run an ad featuring a Democratic state representative and a state Senator endorsing him, but he followed that up with a spot embracing… Barack Obama, in a desperate-seeming effort to show his willingness to work across the aisle. This strategy does not come without risk: Smith, after all, is supporting John McCain and his positioning could confuse voters. And it will make Smith that much more vulnerable to Obama campaigning on Merkley’s side (the Illinois Senator wasted no time issuing a statement reiterating his support for Merkley).

Lean Retention (2 R, 0 D)

9. Minnesota (Incumbent: Norm Coleman; Last Ranking: 7 and toss-up)

This is the first time in six Senate rankings that Minnesota is not rated as a toss-up. After a wild two months in which Al Franken was undermined by a succession of controversies, polls have clearly shifted away from the former comedian. Except for Rasmussen, which continues to show a toss-up race, other pollsters (including SUSA and Quinnipiac) find Coleman leading by double-digits.

Facing a shrewd incumbent with the reputation of a solid campaigner, Franken had no room for error. Yet, his campaign started tanking with revelations of Franken’s tax problems and with the controversy over his 2000 allegedly-pornographic essay in Playboy; this led a Democratic congresswoman state that she was not sure she could support Franken’s campaign and led Planned Parenthood to blast Franken’s “misogynist remarks.” Next came another firestorm over a rape joke Franken helped write on SNL in 1995. Now, the Coleman campaign is airing a personal attack ad blasting Franken for not paying taxes and writing “juicy porn.”

Franken and Coleman’s strategies are clear. The Democrat wants to make this a referendum about the incumbent and about the Republican Party. Franken denounces the “Bush-Coleman recession” and emphasizes Coleman’s proximity to his party’s leadership. The Republican wants to make this a referendum about what he believes is Franken’s polarizing persona. Whoever manages to frame the debate best is likely to win the election – and both candidates have millions of dollars in the bank to define their opponent.

As if all of this agitation was not sufficient, there was the Jesse Ventura question mark. The former Governor only announced he would not run for Senate on July 14th, and his decision was a relief for Franken’s campaign who had far more to lose from a Ventura candidacy. Now, Franken faces trouble within the DFL. Despite some intra-party rumblings back in May, Franken easily won the DFL’s endorsement. Yet, a well-connected attorney recently announced she would run against Franken in the Democratic primary. She is unlikely to threaten Franken’s nomination, but her late run could prevent the former comedian from turning his attention to Coleman.

10. North Carolina (Incumbent: Elizabeth Dole; Last Ranking: 10)

Minnesota concludes the list of the eight obvious Democratic targets. The DSCC has been looking for more seats to contest, and has made a clear choice that North Carolina has the most potential. Chuck Schumer has been including the state in the list of top targets for many weeks now and the DSCC has reserved up air time for up to $6 million in advertising starting mid-September. Think about that number for a minute: Democrats are committing to invest $6 million in their 9th target in a Republican-leaning state in a presidential year. What better sign of confidence could the DSCC send?

Yet, Republicans have reason to feel confident about this race as well. As of my last rankings, a

series of polls had just found Kay Hagan enjoying a stunning post-primary bounce to almost tie Elizabeth Dole. But the Republican incumbent then unleashed a big advertisement campaign. Combined with the fading of Hagan’s primary victory bounce, Dole has recovered a low-double digit  lead in all institutes, including SUSA, Rasmussen, PPP and Civitas.

But it is too late for Dole to make herself look strong. She still hovers around the 50% threshold of vulnerability, and the quick drop in her numbers in May shows that her support is weak. And Hagan will benefit from the Obama campaign’s decision to contest North Carolina, particularly since the McCain campaign is doing little to counter. It will help Hagan overcome North Carolina red leaning and it will allow her to rely on Obama’s turnout efforts. North Carolina might look less promising for Democrats than it did late May, but it retains unexpected potential.

Rankings continue here.