Monday, October 12, 2009

The Daily Strike-10/12/09-Columbus Day

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. Because today was a holiday, there was very little political news out there, certainly not much more than what we posted this morning. Because of that, we'll be doing something a bit different tonight. On November 3rd, there will be some key off-year elections taking place across the country. I though I'd give you a rundown in case the rest of the political world begins to encapsulate us.

NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: In the Garden State, incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine is running for reelection against Republican former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie. Corzine has suffered very low approval ratings most of the year. He has born the brunt of New Jersey's bad economy, and it certainly doesn't help that he has a background in finance (he made a fortune at Goldman Sachs). Christie had led the race by double digits most of the year, and Democrats had pretty much written off Corzine for dead. Recently though, Corzine has surged in the polls and turned the race into a dead heat. The reason for this apparent surge seems to be a slew of negative advertising, attacking Christie for his relationship with Karl Rove, and attacking him implicitly for, yes, being fat. I would put Corzine's chances for winning this race at about 45%.

VIRIGINA GOVERNOR: Virginia is the only state that doesn't allow the incumbent to run for reelection, meaning once again, Virginia has a wide open Governor's race. Running for the Republicans is Attorney General Bob McDonnell. The Democrats have turned to State Senator Creigh Deeds. McDonnell, as you have probably heard, has taken intense heat for a thesis he wrote 20 years ago at Regents University where he said, among other things, that women in the workplace has been bad for society. Deeds, who has trailed in the polls for most of the year, has tried to gain traction among women voters by attacking McDonnell's thesis. The attacks don't seem to be all that effective at this point. McDonnell is probably benefiting from some Democrat-fatigue. The Old Dominion voted for Obama last year, but it is still a relatively conservative-minded state. Deeds hasn't helped himself much by running a lackluster campaign. I'd say Deeds' chances are about 35%.

NY 23: It's not just the statehouse races we'll be watching on November 3rd. Two Congressional seats are up for grabs in special elections. One of them is in New York's 23rd district, which became vacant when Republican John McHugh was confirmed as President Obama's Secretary of the Army. Republicans have nominated a moderate named Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, a woman who supports abortion rights and same-sex marriage. She also accepted the endorsement of the liberal Working Families Party. Outraged conservatives, led by the Club for Growth group, have decided to support Doug Hoffman, a local accountant who is running on the Conservative Party ticket. Democrats have nominated an unknown local businessman named Bill Owens. The district voted narrowly for President Obama last year, but it has conservative underpinnings. Democrats seem to think that Hoffman and Scozzafava will split the Republican vote and hand the election to Owens. I don't think that scenario is out of the question. Scozzafava is well-known in the district though, and has built up a strong political base. Owens' inspiration should be nearby Congressman Scott Murphy of New York's 20th district, an unknown businessman who was elected to replace Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in an even more conservative district. Polling indicates that Scozzafava has a narrow lead in a three way race. I'd say that Democrat Bill Owens has a 40% chance of winning, Scozzafava a 50% and Hoffman 10%.

CA 10: Finally, there's an election in California's 10th Congressional District to replace Ellen Tauscher, who was sworn in as the Undersecretary of State for Arms Control. This district is located in the East Bay Area suburbs. It used to trend Republican, but in recent elections it has become reliably Democratic, thanks to an influx of Hispanic voters and other demographic trends. The Democrats have nominated Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, who will face off against Republican David Harmer, a local businessman. Garamendi should have a good chance of winning as a well-known candidate in a Democratic district. A poll done by Harmer's campaign showed the Republican within 4 points of Garamendi, but I wouldn't put too much stock in that. I would like to see some independent polling. This one is the Democrats' to lose. I think Garamendi has a 75% chance of winning.

So that's the lay of the land. Political prognosticators will try and use the results of these elections to gauge the national mood. I don't think that would be entirely appropriate. A lot of these elections depend solely on local issues. Still, we may get a decent idea if the conventional wisdom that the Republicans have emerged from the electoral doldrums has any truth to it. Democrats should consider it a good night if they win one of the Gubernatorial races and both Congressional races. Republicans can claim victory if they take both statehouses and the New York Congressional Seat.

That's it for tonight, see you tomorrow!

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