Friday, October 30, 2009

Latest Calls for Election Day, Finally Primetime for Health Care, The Middle Path on Afghanistan?, More Can Kicking, Presidential Approval

New Jersey, Virginia & New York-23
I will make my final projections in the 3 major November races on Monday. I don't project "ties" in my predictions, so at this point, I've eliminated the toss-up category -- every race will have a prediction, however close it is. As I still don't know what to do with Rasmussen polling data, I've elected to average the "Rasmussen" and "non-Rasmussen" averages, essentially giving the Rasmussen polling 50% weight. This is a departure from my Presidential Approval tracking where Rasmussen is given full weighting. I will make future calls on inclusion or exclusion of Rasmussen polls based on their accuracy in predicting these races. As always, polls sponsored by partisan groups are excluded from the analysis. For prediction purposes, only polls conducted within the past 7 days are included.

I have not been covering the New York mayoral races, as I generally cover only races for federal offices (House, Senate, the President) and Governor's races, but suffice it to say that Mayor Bloomberg appears to be extremely safe for a third term.

Let's get down to the races I'm covering:
New Jersey
Including Rasmussen
Weighted Average: Corzine +0.5%
Unweighted Average: Even
Median: Christie +0.5%
Average of Averages: Even

Excluding Rasmussen
Weighted Average: Corzine +1.3%
Unweighted Average: Corzine +0.6%
Median: Even
Average of Averages: Corzine +0.6%

My Projection: Lean DEM Hold, Corzine +0.3%
This one is ever-so-close and will depend on many factors: Democratic turn-out, the Daggett factor and late-breaking undecideds. It could obviously move in either direction in the last few days. The Corzine surge appears to have died out for now and we have settled in at about as close as they come.

Including Rasmussen
Weighted Average: McDonnell +13.7%
Unweighted Average: McDonnell +14.3%
Median: McDonnell +14.0%
Average of Averages: McDonnell +14.0%

Excluding Rasmussen
Weighted Average: McDonnell +13.9%
Unweighted Average: McDonnell +14.5%
Median: McDonnell +15.5%
Average of Averages: McDonnell +14.6%

My Projection: Likely GOP Pick-up, McDonnell +14.3%

This one isn't close -- not even remotely. The GOP is back in Virginia. McDonnell beats Deeds.

New York-23
I like an adequate polling base to make a statistical projection, so I will share what is available. The one non-partisan poll conducted in the past week, a Research 2000 poll, showed Owens, the Democrat at 33%, Hoffman, the upstart Conservative party candidate at 32%, and Scozzofava, the "official" GOP candidate at 21%.

In the R2000 poll, Hoffman has gained 9 points in the past week, picking up almost all of them from Scozzofava after receiving high-profile endorsements from the likes of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and current Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.

This is a race Hoffman SHOULD win. Owens is stuck in the low 30s and the only way he can hold on to win is if Hoffman and Scozzofava more or less split the 60%+ of voters who intend to vote for some sort of Republican and Conservative.

In spite of the one non-partisan poll showing Owens in the lead,

My Prediction: Lean Conservative Pick-up

Showtime on Health Care Reform
With the unveiling of the House version of Health Care reform by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the implicit promise that it will hit the floor sometime late next week, after months and months of debate, town halls, hand wringing, Blue Dogs, liberals, Republicans, lobbyists, speeches and the like, it is FINALLY showtime.

The Pelosi bill is more liberal than the proposed Reid bill in the Senate, including a public option without an opt-out provision for individual states, but is less liberal than those on the left had hoped, allowing only for the public option to negotiate with providers versus perscribing that reimbursement rates be tied to Medicaid.

Many issues remain unresolved in the House version: what kind of public options survives, what to do about abortion coverage opposed by a group of pro-life Democrats (as well as Republicans), etc. But it appears highly likely that some kind of reform will pass the House.

The path through the Senate continues to be far less clear. It is obvious that moderate Republican Senator Olympia Snowe is not on board with the opt-out public option, although she might support a "trigger mechanism" for a future public option. Independent Joe Lieberman has agreed to vote to begin debate in the Senate, but has threatened to support a fillibuster if the public option isn't pulled. As no other Republican has indicated any inclination to support the bill, the Democrats will need one of those two, along with moderate Democratic Senator Ben Nelson in order to pass a bill.

Clearly Harry Reid doesn't have this all figured out yet and the plan appears to be to let things develop on the Senate floor, which will likely lead to some high drama.

I'll be tuned in, bag of popcorn in hand when the Senate debate finally begins. No word yet on when this hits the Senate floor, although it would be logical for them to follow the House, where Democrats should have an easier (although not easy) go of it.

More Than 0, Less Than 40K?
Inside reports out of the Obama Administration indicate that the President is leaning towards sending additional troops to Afghanistan, but something less than the 40,000 requested by General Stanley McChrystal. This is not too surprising, given the history of the President's rhetoric on the subject..."war of necessity" and all, but what is still not clear to me is what the
mission objective will be for those additional troops.

I hope the President decides soon (taking your time is fine, but this is getting ridiculous) and that whatever he decides that he articulates a clear objective for the troops over there. We owe our brave soliders that.

Another Continuing Resolution
The federal government will keep its doors open until December 18th, assuming the President, today or tomorrow, signs the Interior Department appropriations bill. The conference report on that bill had another continuing resolution tacked on to it which gives the vast swath of agencies (see below) that still don't have a budget for the year, the capability to continue operating for another 7 weeks.

As the Senate has not yet even taken up several of the appropriations bill, we may again get deep into the budget year before the Fiscal 2010, which started October 1st, gets settled. It also appears likely, given the delay, that several of those bills will be combined into a so called "minibus" appropriations bill covering multiple agencies.

Think having a State and Defense department budget might be important during the middle of two wars? Apparently congress doesn't.

President Obama -- Scraping the Lows
I don't want to overplay a one-day drop, but today President Obama hit his second-lowest aggregate polling of his Presidency at an Approve minus Disapprove of +8.8% (his all-time low was on September 11th, when he was at +8.7%.) Still just slightly better than his November vote total of +7.2%, but his numbers took a turn down in the past week. Whether it is a bump in the road or a start of a new trend remains to be seen.

The President's monthly numbers don't show the same decline, primarily because he actually bumped up in approval early in the month before dropping late. October is almost over, so these won't change much...we'll see how November shapes up.

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