Posts Tagged ‘Barbara Boxer’

Latino Voters Key Part of Western Democratic Firewall

Monday, November 8th, 2010

On election night last week, NBC’s Brian Williams interviewed Jose Diaz Ballart, the Telemundo anchor, who said that if Harry Reid was elected, he better learn to say “muchas gracias,” because Latino’s turned out to vote for him at levels that matched or exceeded those of the 2008 presidential election.

This pattern was repeated in a number of other high profile races in the West. While the dynamics in each case vary, Latino’s played key roles in Democratic victories in Colorado, Nevada and California, and in the process highlighted what should be a concerning trend for Republicans.

In Nevada, Sharron Angle went out of her way to make not so subtle racial appeals in her closing arguments. This, combined with a strong get out the vote effort by Harry Reid’s campaign helped propel Reid to an upset. In Colorado, Latinos combined with women to help Michael Bennet buck the trend and win a close race against Tea Party candidate Ken Buck. Meanwhile in California,  the allegations made by Meg Whitman’s maid and the way in which she handled them combined with another strong get out the vote effort focusing on Latinos helped not only Jerry Brown, but also Barbara Boxer. Over 1 in 5 voters in California were Latino in this election cycle and they broke overwhelmingly for Democrats.

Gil Cedillo points out that George Bush and Karl Rove saw the importance of Latino voters in building a successful Republican party in the long term, but that many Republican politicians have been focused on short-term political gain that can come from scapegoating Latinos, especially in the Republican primaries. While this may be a successful strategy in some parts of the country, it will become less and less so as time goes on.

Republicans may want to consider the fate of the Republican party in California, who never recovered from Pete Wilson’s attempt to deny illegal immigrant children access to school in 1994. Pete Wilson won that election, but he was the last non-action hero Republican to win a major statewide office in the state.

We can only hope that the Republicans are dumb enough to follow his lead nationwide.

Field Poll: Boxer by 8

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

The new Field Poll, the gold standard for California polling, has Boxer up by 8 over Fiorina, with just a few days until election day. 

I almost titled this post “Out of Touch Career Politician by 8 Over Corporate Outsourcer,” because that basically sums up the media narrative for this race. 

Boxer is the least popular of our two Senators here in California and has generally benefited from drawing weak challengers for her re-election campaigns. George Will opined earlier this year that if Barbara Boxer could win in California this year, it would show that Republicans have no chance of winning in the state. Increasingly, it looks like that may be the case.

As Cal Buzz notes,

While Boxer’s favorable-to-unfavorable rating is just 48-47%, she is drawing more than eight in 10 Democrats, about half the independents and men and a majority of women. She has nearly two-thirds of the Latinos, plus six in 10 voters in Los Angeles and more than six in 10 voters in the San Francisco Bay Area.

While the specifics of the race are clearly different, Boxer suffers from the same fate that I talked about in my previous post on the governor’s race: Republicans have to run to far to the right in order to win the Republican nomination, and then are too extreme for the Democrat dominated general election voters. In Fiorina’s case, this includes her pro-life stance on abortion, her position in favor of offshore drilling and her opposition to California’s climate change law.  Basically, California voters are predisposed to vote Democratic and any candidate that wants them to deviate from that vote needs to convince them that they are not like national Republicans. Fiorina has so far been unable to do so, and in fact, as the Field’s Poll’s Director noted, as the election gets closer, more and more Democratic voters are “coming home.”   

Boxer has also benefited from her ability to define Carly Fiorina as an innefective CEO who made over a hundred million dollars a year while outsourcing jobs to other countries. Recently, Joe Klein of Time Magazine traveled across the country and discussed the election with voters. One of the things he found was that the issue that most came up was one that is rarely discussed by politicians (mainly because they have no solution for it), and that is the movement of jobs to other countries, specifically India and China. While Barbara Boxer hasn’t offered anyting particularly specific to deal with this, she was able to use this anxiety to her advantage by pointing out constantly that HP cut 30,000 jobs under Fiorina while expanding operations overseas. This commercial plays many times a day on California television stations and has done a lot to define Fiorina in voters’ minds. In a particularly bad sign Fiorina, independents have a 50% favorable feeling towards Boxer vs 36% unfavorable, while the Fiorina numbers are 51%-30%.

Again, no popping of champagne corks right now. Some polls have shown this race closer than Field has it, but these dynamics with only a few more days to go are not good for Fiorina’s prospects.

Milazz 2010 Senate Primer

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

With nine days to go, it looks like the Republicans are poised to take the House. The math in the Senate looks like more of a long shot.

The current Senate makeup is 59-41, counting Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders, so Republicans would have to net 10 seats to get to 51, since a 50-50 tie would be broken by Joe Biden.  Below I look at the races where Republicans have to prevail in order to take control.

Probable Republican Pickups

Arkansas, North Dakota and Indiana have long been considered Republican pickups, with the Republican candidates leading in opinion polls for months. These races are basically over at this point and can safely be considered Republican pickups.

Lean Republican

Wisconsin

In one of the more puzzling results of the year, Russ Feingold has trailed badly behind plastics manufacturer (I can’t help but think of The Graduate) and Tea Party candidate, Ron Johnson. A few months ago, I characterized this as a Democratic Firewall seat, based on Feingold’s history of bucking party and common wisdom as well as Wisconsin’s traditional voting patterns.  Wisconsin has been true blue for a while now and has a history of electing fiery populist Democrats (dating back to ”Fightin” Bob LaFolette during the Progressive Era). In recent polling Feingold has trailed by up to 8 points, with Johnson polling over 50% in some polls. This is very bad news for Feingold at this late hour, and the race would have qualified as a Probable Republican Pickup just a week ago. However, just last week week two polls came out showing Feingold closing the gap, so I err on the side of caution and include this as a Lean Republican seat.

Pennsylvania 

In another race where biography would seem to indicate a different result, former Congressman and Admiral Joe Sestak has consistently trailed former Congressman and free market libertarian derivatives trader Pat Toomey for almost the entire year. But in what seems to be a national trend of poll tightening in Senate Races,  Sestak has pulled even with Toomey or is showing a small lead. Having pulled even, Sestak hopes the Pennsylvania Democratic machine can carry him over the finish line. 

Colorado

Tea Party favorite Ken Buck has generally led appointed Senator Michael Bennett by 2-5 points since the primaries. This race has tightened in recent weeks as Bennett has surged slightly and Ken Buck has stepped on his message a few times. A new Denver Post poll out today has the race a dead heat, but Buck should still be considered a slight favorite here.

Tossups 

Nevada

The nastiest, most high profile race in the country has to be in Nevada, where the Least Charismatic Man in America continues to be locked in a tight race against the Crazy Cat Lady from your Old Neighborhood. The fact that Harry Reid hasn’t been able to put the Tea Party Fringe Candidate Sharron Angle out of her misery is a testament to how much Nevadans hate their sitting senator. This is probably the most polled race in the country and it seems like they alternate leads in every other poll. Angle’s up by a couple of points now, but all indications are that this race will go down to the wire.

In Illinois, the voters face another Faustian bargain as Mark Kirk, a former Republican Congressman who is most famous for lying about his military record during the Gulf War takes on Alexi Giannoulias, who is most famous for his family’s shady savings and loan which went belly up early this year. On Meet the Press, Kirk defended his exaggerations about his military experience while Giannoulias put himself in the running for the most cringeworthy political statements in history when he basically admitted that he knew he was loaning money to mobsters when he worked at his father’s bank 4 years ago. This race is another that is too close to call, with Kirk mostly maintaining a one to two point lead over Giannoulias for the past few months, but Giannoulias showing some signs of life in the past few weeks. Another race where turnout will be key.

West Virginia

The addition of West Virginia as a possible Republican pickup has kept the Republicans in the game. Here, popular governor Mike Manchin is taking on another perennial Republican loser, John Raese, in a Special Election for the seat of held by the late Robert Byrd. In another example of how ignorance sells in this country, Raese has made a point of pointing out that he can’t pronounce non Anglo names, recently calling Energy Secretary  Dr. Steven Chu, Dr. Chow Mein (Stay classy John Raese!).

 This seat was initially assumed a safe Democratic seat because of the popularity of Manchin, but in recent weeks, Raese surged into a lead over Manchin with a clever campaign which acknowledges Manchin’s popularity as Governor, but agues that he would become a rubber stamp for Obama and Pelosi if he were to go to Washington.  The polling in this race has been all over the map, with polls within days of each other exibiting violent swings.

Democratic Firewall Seats

If the Republicans were to sweep all of the above races, they would still need to take one more seat to get to 51. The two most obvious seats are the generally reliable blue states of Washington and California, where two Democratic women from the 1992 “Year of the Woman” class are facing tough challenges.

Washington

In Washington, Senator Patti Murray faces Dino Rossi, another perennial Republican challenger who narrowly lost a race for Governor in 2004 and then lost by a more substantial margin in 2008. This race has bounced around a bit, but Murray has held a small lead for the past few weeks. At this point, Nate Silver ranks this race as an 85% chance of a Murray win.

California

Liberal stalwart Barbara Boxer, another Year of the Woman Alumnus, has yet to put away former Hewlet Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, but she has led her in the polls by margins from 1% to 8% since early September. Although Boxer’s inability to poll about 50% has been cited as a bad sign for her, a Republican pickup here, while possible, seems unlikely.

Lean Republican Hold

While Democrats are on defense in almost all of the swing seats, there is still faint hope that they could take one Republican seat. Democratic hopes are pinned on Kentucky, where son of the Tea Party icon Ron Paul, Rand Paul, is taking on Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway. Even in reliably red Kentucky, Paul has struggled due to the original intent constitutionalism and the radical free market ideology that he stands for. While this race has been closer than expected, Paul now leads by close to 5% and Conway’s attacks on Paul’s college associations and pranks look increasingly desperate. It looks like the Democrats will have to rely on defense to get them through this one.

Bottom line for the Republicans? They need to lock up the three seats they are favored in (Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Colorado), run the table in the tossup elections of Nevada, Illinois and West Virginia, and take either California or Washington while holding on to their lead in Kentucky.

Stay frosty folks. The next week and a half will be interesting.

Corporate Money Deluge Continues in California

Monday, October 18th, 2010

The rumored next buy from the Chamber of Commerce looks like it will bring the total spent against Barbara Boxer to $4.5 million.

Thanks activist judges!

Charlie Cook on the 2010 Elections

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

WSJ’s Gerald Seib interviews Congressional Election expert Charlie Cook on the 2010 elections.

I usually see Cook on Hardball. It’s refreshing to be able to hear him talk for a change.

Cook says he thinks a wave election is coming. Barring any major changes, he predicts a Republican takeover of the House. The Senate is more of a longshot.

72 days to go.

Silver’s Likely Voter Model Bad News For Dems

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Nate Silver has updated his 2010 Senate election model.

The main change from the previous model is the addition of a likely voter screen. As I noted in my previous post on Silver’s rankings, turnout will be key in this election cycle and assumptions about turnout will impact any predictions significantly.

The addition of turnout assumptions are not good news for Democrats this year.

While Silver gives the Republicans only a 12% or 16% chance of taking the Senate (depending on whether Charlie Crist caucuses with them), for the first time you can see the outlines of what a Republican takeover would look like. With the exception of the Florida race, the top 10 potential pickups are all Democratic seats, with the 9th being a tossup in Illinios and the 10th being the race in Washington state where sitting Senator Patty Murray only leads presumptive Republican nominee Dino Rossi by a half a percentage point.

Silver ranks seven seats at more than a 60% chance that Republicans will take control.

Perhaps the biggest shift for the Democrats is in Colorado, where Michael Bennet’s hopes have seemed to dim in recent weeks as Ken Buck’s primary surge has translated into general election polling success.

To be sure, it’s not all bad news for the Democrats.  As has been reported extensively here, Sharron Angle’s campaign in Nevada continues to implode and three recent polls (two of which were published after Silver’s post) have now shown Reid with a small lead. In Delaware, what seemed like an easy victory earlier this year for moderate Republican Congressman Mike Castle is now rated at a 64% chance of Republican victory.

The new model also has Ohio and Missouri right behind Washington state as potential Democratic pickups. In what will certainly dissapoint Republicans, Barbara Boxer’s chances of losing her California race is ranked just below the chance that Rand Paul will lose in Kentucky.

One projection that pops out to me is the 62% chance that  Joe Sestak will lose to Club for Growth Candidate Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania. Based only on my gut, I would have given Sestak a better chance here, but as James Carville famously said years ago, Pennsylvania is basically Philadelphia and Pittsburg with Alabama in between. This always makes it hard to predict, but Democratic successes in the past few cycles have been encouraging.

Once again, all the usual caveats apply here, but the Democrats are running out of time to turn this around. Even if there’s only a 16% chance of losing control, turning the largest Senate majority since Watergate into a one or two vote margin within two years would be a tumble of epic proportions for the party.