Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Daily Strike-10/31/09-Election Preview Part II

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. It's been awhile since I've written on the weekend, but I feel like it's a good time to update our elections preview. If you missed our previous update, you can find it here.

NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: This is just a very dirty, unfortunate race. The incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine is deeply unpopular, but he has managed to succesfully drag down the popularity of the Republican challenger Chris Christie. As a result, the race is a true toss-up. There's also the wild card of independent candidate Chris Daggett. Corzine has embraced President Obama, which may help him with African American and young voters. Christie has yet to really form a cohesive message, and he's proven to be a bit of a lackluster campaigner. The bottom line is that Jon Corzine SHOULD lose this race. He has not done a particularly good job managing the state, and he is a former Goldman Sachs executive, and they haven't exactly been winning many popularity contests recently. But I'm not sure Corzine WILL lose this race. A small majority of polls has shown Corzine with a slight lead. Two weeks ago I said Corzine had about a 45% chance of winning, I would up that to about 50/50. That race should keep us up pretty late on Tuesday night.

VIRGINIA GOVERNOR: This governor's race has become a disaster for Democrat Creigh Deeds. He made some curious comments separating himself from Obama, which will significantly hurt him with Democratic turnout and enthusiasm. Meanwhile, Republican Attorney General Bob McDonnell has recovered, pretty much completely, from a scandal involving his sexist graduate thesis. McDonnell has built up a healthy double digit lead in the polls, and he is looking poised to cruise into the Governor's mansion. Two weeks ago I gave Deeds a 35% chance of winning, which seems silly every time I see a new poll in this race. I'd say Deeds is down to about a 10% chance of winning.

NY23: This update New York race is the one that has shifted most massively in the past two weeks, and the momentum is now completely with Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman. In fact, today the Republican candidate, moderate assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava announced that she is suspending her campaign because she has no real chance to win. This is remarkable for a candidate who was leading the race two weeks ago. Conservative activists successfully propped up local accountant Hoffman, who has slowly but surely won the support of the Republican establishment. Many Republicans, including former Speaker Newt Gingrich, spent weeks criticizing Hoffman for jeopardizing the Republican's chance of winning. But when recent polls made it clear that Hoffman's supported greatly exceeded Scozzafava's, there wasn't any more reason to stick by a Republican in Name Only (RINO). Meanwhile, Bill Owens the Democrat had spent weeks strategizing how to beat Scozzafava, and now much change his entire message to defeat Hoffman. Recent polls show Hoffman and Owens pretty much tied, with Scozzafave a distant third. Hoffman will almost certainly benefit for Scozzafava suspending her campaign, so I will give him a slight advantage in this race. Also, liberals have to face it, the anti-Washington message is a good one right now, and I think it will remain a good one until the jobs picture improves. A Hoffman victory should not send the Democrats into a panic, but it should be a warning sign of an anti-Washington attitude that will hurt Democrats next year. Last entry, I had Scozzafava at a 50% chance of winning, Owens at 40%, and Hoffman at 10%. I was WAYYY off. I would say Hoffman has a 50% of winning, Owens 45% and Scozzafava 5% (it would quite a miracle of a suspended campaign was victorious).

CA10: Finally, there's the race in California's 10th district to replace Ellen Tauscher, who now works in the State Department. The Democratic Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi has high name recognition and is in a pretty Democratic district. This seems like a good recipe for victory. The Republican David Harmer, though, has hung tough, and according to the latest SurveyUSA poll, only trails Garamendi by 10 percentage points. The race is still Garamendi's to lose, and I don't expect that he will. Two weeks ago I had Garamendi as a 75% chance to win, and I would say that's still looking pretty good.

This could either be a very good election night for Republicans (if Christie and Hoffman win) or a decent, but unspectacular night for Democrats (if Corzine and Owens win). No matter what, Democrats will almost certainly lose a Governor's mansion, and that's never a good thing. Republican pundits will take any victories Tuesday night as a sign that the Democratic brand has fallen out of favor, that next year is going to be a landslide etc. As I said last time, I think that would be overlooking some key factors not related to the national environment. Still, the Republicans have a good shot at having their first decent election night since 2004, and trust me, they will relish the opportunity to take as much meaning from these races as possible.

The one thing this election MUST NOT do is scare moderate Democrats into opposing health care or other items on the Democratic agenda. That would be a horrible way to interpret these election results. In fact, how about Nancy Pelosi bans election coverage at the capital?

See you Monday!

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