Friday, October 8, 2010

Is Biden Vote #51? GOP Sweep, Split Power or Narrow Dem Majorities -- Why We Still Don't Know, The Spineless and Irresponsible Majority

25 days until election day 2010 and majority control of both Houses of congress is very much still in doubt. The Senate, especially, will likely be controlled by one party or the other by a razor-thin margin. Here are my latest projections:

Every close race had a new poll this week except for Alaska and Wisconsin. In Wisconsin, Russ Feingold has been steadily losing ground, and I suspect that when we find a new poll, he will be in the same or a slightly worse spot than he is in our current projection. The maverick from Wisconsin is in real trouble.

In Alaska, I'm dying to see a poll in the fascinating, confusing and dynamic face-off between Tea-Party Republican Joe Miller and Republican Turned Write-in Independent Incumbent Lisa Murkowski. This will be a very tough race to project, because of the unusual dynamics.

Key Rating Moves This Week:
Maryland -- Barbara Mikulski is safe. The Maryland race is on no one's radar. A new Washington Post poll officially puts her average in the safe category.

Connecticut -- embattled state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal resolidifies his once large lead slightly. The race is now a Likely Hold for the Dems.

California -- Barbara Boxer had been pulling away from ex-CEO Carly Fiorina in the past few weeks, but the race has tightened again in the past week and is now only a Slight Lean Hold for Boxer.

Nevada -- a continued close race (in fact, it was within 0.01% last week) moves slightly to the right in the polling, with Tea Partier Sharron Angle pulling out to a 2 point lead. The race now rates a Slight Lean Pick-Up for the GOP.

West Virginia -- this one started with a big Dem lead for incumbent Gub Manchin, but has moved steadily to the right in a state where the President and the Dems in power nationally are highly unpopular. It now rates a Lean Pick-Up for the GOP.

New Hampshire -- mainstream Republican Kelly Ayotte has appeared for months to be running away with this race, but it has started to tighten in the late stages. This race now rates only a Lean Hold for the GOP.

Missouri -- this one appears to be rapidly becoming a lost cause for the Dems. Bellweather states ring for the party in the lead and the GOP is winning the campaign so far. Likely GOP Hold.

Arizona -- same story as Maryland, but for the other party. John McCain is not going to lose, unless he suddenly breaks back out his "the fundamentals of the economy are strong" line. Safe GOP Hold.

My Projection: Democrats 48, Republicans 50, Independents 2 (Democrats retain control with Biden's tie-breaking vote, barring any defections)
realclearpolitics (no toss-ups): Democrats 48, Republicans 50, Independents 2
electoral-vote: Republicans 50, Democrats 47, Independents 2, 1 Tie
electionprojection: Democrats 48, Republicans 50, Independents 2

So, we are all basically on the same page, for the second week in a row.

In the House,
My average of generic polling surges to the right, with the GOP showing at +7.2% now. The biggest driver is the latest Gallup polling, which contained a lot of refinement to their projections. In fact, Gallup has 2 likely voter models that they are using, one for a low turnout election and one for a high turnout election. Since those polls rely on the same sample and Gallup is not advising which model they believe, I am weighting both models at 50% of a normal poll. The Gallup polls show the best numbers for the GOP with GOP +13% in the high turnout scenario and GOP +18% in the low turnout scenario. If Gallup is right, the House will be a blow-out. I'm not quite showing that yet in my averages.

My Projection: 232 Republicans, 203 Democrats
realclearpolitics (splitting toss-ups): 229 Republicans, 206 Democrats
electoral-vote (splitting toss-ups): 219 Democrats, 216 Republicans
electionprojection: 222 Republicans, 213 Democrats

So, on the House, the projections are all over the map. Basically, my projection and realclearpolitics show a big gain for the GOP (although not quite an outright blowout), electionprojection has a narrow GOP victory and electoral-vote has the DEMs retaining the House. Obviously, the House is harder to project than the Senate.

Bottom line, we still don't really know which party will control either House come next year.

Budgets Matter
I've been heavy on the polls and light on the political commentary as of late, as I typically do as we close in on an election, but I would be remiss if I didn't say shame on the Democrats for adjourning Congress with no budget outline and no appropriations bills passed. A kick the can down the road continuing resolution is all that Congress could muster. No debate on tax policy or spending priorities. Uncertainty for both governmental agencies as to what their budget will be and businesses and individuals.

Responsibility number one for congress is to manage budgets and taxation. On this fundamental test, Pelosi and Reid and company have showed themselves to be spineless, unwilling to even have a debate or declare positions going into an election. Are they even trying to win back the hearts and minds of the American people?

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