Senate 2008

Contested Primaries Help, Rather Than Hurt, Democrats in General Elections

by: Chris Bowers

Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 16:58

Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chair T.J. Rooney today declared that his goal in 2010 is to avoid a contested Democratic primary in both the Senatorial and Gubernatorial campaigns:

Take the year off and chill.

That's the message to Pennsylvania Democrats from state Democratic Party Chairman T.J. Rooney, who on Monday said that, if things seem quiet, it's intentional.

"Our goal in 2010 is not to have a primary," Rooney said. "Our goal is to come together as a party and, in the meantime, let the other side beat the tar out of one another."

In making this proclamation, Chairman Rooney is relying on a longstanding bit of Democratic conventional wisdom. Namely, that closely contested Democratic primaries hurt Democratic chances in general elections. The problem with this theory is that there is no evidence to support it. In fact, a quick survey of the eight most closely contested Democratic Senate primaries in 2006 and 2008 shows that the winners of those primaries actually did pretty darn well in the general election (note: only campaigns where the general election was decided by 10% or less were examined):

Wins (Five)
Maryland 2006 (Cardin vs. Mfume)
Minnesota 2008 (Franken vs. several)
Montana 2006 (Tester vs. Morrison)
Oregon 2008 (Merkley vs. Novick)
Virginia 2006 (Webb vs. Harris)

Losses (Two)
Georgia 2008 (Martin vs. Jones)
Kentucky 2008 (Lunsford vs. Fischer)

Other (One)
Connecticut 2006 (loss, but not to Republican)

How is going 5-2-1 possibly evidence that contested primaries hurt Democratic chances in close Senate elections? Further, as a I discuss in the extended entry, polling from these campaigns immediately before and after the Democratic primary also indicates that the contested primaries were a clear benefit for the eventual winner.

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Still Counting and Recounting, December 15th

by: Chris Bowers

Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 13:43

The 2008 elections are still not quite over. Here is the latest news on where things stand in the federal elections (Senate, President and House):

Senate
The current partisan balance of the Senate for the 111th Congress is 55 Democrats, 41 Republicans, 2 Independents (both of whom caucus with Democrats) and 2 undecided (Illinois, where there might be a special election and there might not be one, and Minnesota, currently undergoing a recount). Remarkably, in the Minnesota campaign, Democrat Al Franken is now likely to win. The Minnesota Secretary of State currently puts Coleman's margin at 188 votes, while the Star-Tribune puts it at 192 votes. Starting tomorrow, the state canvassing board will look at the 1,640 remaining challenged ballots. An AP analysis shows that when those challenges are resolved, Franken is likely to gain between 200-350 votes on Coleman, thus handing him victory (more in the extended entry):

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Georgia Runoff Thread

by: Chris Bowers

Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 19:29

This is a thread for returns in the Georgia Senate race. Keep in mind that the early returns will probably, just like on November 4th, be from more pro-Chambliss areas.

47% reporting
Chambliss: 62.3%
Martin: 37.7%

Update: Martin is underperforming November 4th by about 8%:

I have a spreadsheet comparing results by county between the runoff and the general election.  Martin appears to be underperforming by about 8%.  It looks like it will be a short night, unfortunately.

Chambliss will win. It will probably be called very soon. Damn. Much now rests on Minnesota, including the Employee Free Choice Act.

Update 2: A more optimistic projection:

Martin doing 3.2% worse than his 48.5% share of the two-way vote on Nov 4th. That means he's at like 45%.

Hopefully a lot of Absentee/Early Voting in the numbers. Again no democratic counties are in - with extremely low turnout, moderate turnout in those counties can win it for Martin.

Update 3: The numbers are really bad, and Martin is underperforming everywhere. Chambliss will win, and I will stop updating.

Discuss :: (15 Comments)

Still Counting, Recounting, and Runoffs, Part 3

by: Chris Bowers

Mon Nov 17, 2008 at 21:00

Part three of my continuing series on the five congressional campaigns with undecided outcomes--Georgia Senate, Minnesota Senate, California 4th, Louisiana 4th, and Ohio 15th--can be found in the extended entry. There are important updates on all five campaigns.
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Still Counting, Recounting, and Runoffs, Part Two

by: Chris Bowers

Sat Nov 15, 2008 at 19:00

Here is the current balance of power in Congress:

Senate
56 Democrats
40 Republicans
2 Independents
2 Undecided

House
257 Democrats
175 Republicans
3 Undecided

These numbers are a little bit different than the ones you might be seeing at most election results sites. The reason is that I am allocating the Alaska Senate race, Louisiana's 2nd congressional district, and Virginia's 5th congressional district all to Democrats. I don't consider the ongoing counting or runoffs in those districts to have any realistic chance to change the outcome.

The two remaining Senate seats in my chart are Georgia (December 2nd run-off) and Minnesota (recount starts next week). The three remaining House seats are the California 4th (still counting 35,000 provisional and absentee ballots), the Louisiana 4th (December 6th run-off) and the Ohio 15th (still counting 27,000 provisional ballots, pending lawsuit) I discuss the current state of each of those campaigns in the extended entry.

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Still Counting, Recounting and Runoff Compendium

by: Chris Bowers

Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 16:30

( - promoted by Chris Bowers)

With the Alaska Senate campaign turning heavily in favor of Democrat Mark Begich, in the extended entry I provide a run-down of the five closest campaigns that have still not been called, who is likely to win each campaign, and what it means for the overall balance of power. All of that, plus election forecasting notes can be found in the extended entry.
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Begich To Win Alaska After All

by: Chris Bowers

Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 03:07

After eight days of waiting, Alaska finally started counting votes again. With about 30,000 votes remaining to be counted, one-third of which are from Democratic-friendly precincts and two-thirds of which are "questionable" ballots that always favor Democrats, Begich currently holds an 814 vote lead.

Stick a fork in this one. Begich is going to win. Better Democratic Senate candidates remain undefeated. Now, a victory from either Franken or Martin will deliver the Employee Free Choice Act, and structurally shift the country to the left. This win is a huge boost. We are almost at the point where Republicans just don't matter anymore.

The one drawback: Sarah Palin as a Senator would have been pretty funny.

Discuss :: (32 Comments)

More Quick Victories

by: Chris Bowers

Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 13:33

Back in July, I compiled a list of legislation that would have passed in the 110th Congress if Democrats held eight more seats in the Senate and 20 more seats in the House. Here is the list (more in the extended entry:
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Recounting Where Things Stand

by: Chris Bowers

Wed Nov 05, 2008 at 13:35

In the extended entry, I take a quick look at where the campaigns for President, Senate and House currently stand. Lots of counting, and recounting, to be done.

More in the extended entry.

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Senate Results Thread

by: Chris Bowers

Wed Nov 05, 2008 at 02:02

Key Senate Races
State Reporting Dem % Rep %
Alaska 96% 47% 48%
Georgia 99% 46% 50%
Minnesota 99% 42% 42%
Oregon 71% 47% 47%

Democratic seats: 54
Republican seats: 40
Independent seats: 2
Undecided: 4
Pickups: Colorado, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Virginia

Update 10: All four Better Democrats in the Senate are down to the wire. Crazy.

Update 9: Oregon back to undecided. And what's up with Alaska? Two Republican shocks seem imminent in what is otherwise a heavy Democratic night. Seems fishy. In Minnesota, Franken leads by 2,300 votes. In Georgia, it could be a recount to secure the run-off.

Update 8: Merkley wins Oregon: A little belated, but Oregon's premier political analyst has called the race for Merkley.

Update 7: Franken takes the lead: Franken now leads by 1,350 votes or so. Still, get ready for a recount.

Update 6: Minnesota margin now 1,465 votes: Get ready for a recount in Minnesota.

Update 5: Franken within less than 200 votes: Huge nailbiter in Minnesota. Too bad there is no run-off.

Update 4: Alaska in play? No word on which counties have reported, but Stevens is winning in Alaska with 37% reporting. This could be the shocker of the night, after Obama winning Indiana.

Update 3: Merkley will win: While the networks haven't called it yet, Merkley is going to win. The red counties have all reported. The remaining vote is from Eugene and Portland. Game over.

Update 2: Hagan wins North Carolina!: Make that six Senate pickups for Democrats.

Update 1: Shaeen wins New Hampshire: Mark a fifth pickup down for Democrats.

Discuss :: (53 Comments)

A Filibuster proof Senate, by other means

by: hellenica

Tue Nov 04, 2008 at 00:22

Going by Chris's senate predictions we should gain 7 seats, which will bring us to 57 seats (with Bernie Sanders). If we extend hope just a tad to include Georgia and Minnesota, we will have 59, with Joe Lieberman holding the filibustery balance.

How else can we make this man irrelevant?

By pulling a Jim Jeffords, that's how!

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My Final Election Forecasts

by: Chris Bowers

Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 22:30

This is it. My final forecasts for 2008:

President
Electoral Vote: Obama 338--200 McCain
National Popular Vote: Obama 53.1%--45.4% McCain




You can see my final percentage projections here. I decided to go with Obama in North Carolina even though the state was exactly tied. The reason is that most of Obama's vote is already in, while McCain still has to get his voters to the polls. That's enough of a tie-breaker for me. If a final North Carolina poll comes out showing McCain ahead by any margin at all, I reserve the right to change my forecast for the state (Update: ARG poll of the state shows Obama up 1% in NC. It functions as a tie-breaker. Update 2: Zogby final tracking poll moves 2 points to McCain, so that breaks the tie in the other direction). Oh--and the national popular vote is just a guess based on the Pollster.com national average. I'm only banking my methodology on the state results.

Senate

  • Democratic Pickups: Alaska, Colorado, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon and Virginia.
  • Run-off in Georgia where we fight for the Employee Free Choice Act
  • Extremely narrow loss in Minnesota
  • If I have some free time tomorrow, I'll spruce up the final percentages, and post them here. More likely, I will finish them after the election, to test how well my methodology worked.
House
Best Guess: Democratic Pickup of 24 seats, for a total of D 260-175 R in the House.
Guess Range: 21-27
Read the entire final forecast here

Well, that was a fun year of forecasting elections. What have you got for your final numbers?

Discuss :: (37 Comments)

Senate Forecast, 11/2: 7 Solid, 2 On The Fence

by: Chris Bowers

Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 21:15

Current Projection: Democratic Pickup of 7 seats

Republican Held: Democratic Pickups 7
State Type Democratic Republican D Cash Margin Polls
We're Gonna Win
Virginia Open Warner Gilmore 2713% D +26.3 3
New Mexico Open T. Udall Pearce 542% D +15.5 4
Alaska Incumbent Begich Stevens 63% D +12.3 3
Colorado Open M. Udall Schaffer 364% D +9.5 2
New Hamp. Freshman Shaheen Sununu 49% D +8.4 7
Oregon Incumbent Merkley Smith 51% D +6.0 4
North Carolina Freshman Hagan Dole 51% D +4.5 6
True Toss-ups
Minnesota Freshman Franken Coleman 70% R +1.5 6
Georgia Freshman Martin Chambliss 8% R +3.5* 6
Not This Time
Kentucky Incumbent Lunsford McConnell 22% R +6.3 4
Mississippi-B Special Musgrove Wicker 28% R +9.0 2
* = The Libertarian candidate in the Georgia Senate race averages 4.5% across the six polls. If no candidate reaches 50% on Tuesday, there will be a run-off on December 2nd. Right now, the polling indicates a run-off is the most likely outcome.

Republican Held, Uncompetitive Republican Locks (12): Alabama (Sessions), Idaho (Open, Risch) Kansas (Roberts), Maine (Collins), Mississippi-A (Cochran), Nebraska (Open, Johanns), Oklahoma (Inhofe), South Carolina (Graham), Tennessee (Alexander), Texas (Cornyn), Wyoming-A (Barrasso), Wyoming-B (Enzi)

Democratic Held, Uncompetitive Democratic Locks (12): Arkansas (Pryor), Delaware (Biden), Illinois (Durbin), Iowa (Harkin), Louisiana (Landrieu), Massachusetts (Kerry), Michigan (Levin), Montana (Baucus), Lautenberg (New Jersey), Rhode Island (Reed), South Dakota (Johnson), West Virginia (Rockerfeller)

***

I will continue to monitor incoming Senate polls, but unless one of these seats shifts noticeably, I do not anticipate making another Senate forecast. This is tentatively my final forecast: Democrats gain seven seats.

Methodology and analysis in the extended entry.

Update (11/4):: Final poll numbers added. Nothing changes, really.

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Senate Hopes, Fears And Forecasts--Your Call!

by: Paul Rosenberg

Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 20:30

This is a followup to yuesterday's diary, House Hopes, Fears And Forecasts--Your Call!  Some folks just couldn't contain themselves and had to talk about their Senate hopes, fears and forecasts.  But we're not keeping track of small stuff here, so anyone who did so has a chance to weigh in again--and even tweak their calls, if so inclinced.

What I want to know is:

(1) What's your biggest hope for

(a) Electing someone to the Senate?  And why, of course, if you still have the strength to put that into words.

(b) Getting rid of someone in the Senate?  And, of course, why.

(2) What's your biggest fear of what we might not accomplish?  

(3) What's your forecast of how well we'll do? (And, don't forget to double up by voting in the poll as well.)

FYI, current predictions from the House diary are:

* Gain 26-30 - 19 votes (43.18%)
* Gain 21-25 - 10 votes (22.73%)
* Gain 30-35 - 9 votes (20.45%)
* Gain More than 35 - 4 votes (9.09%)
* Gain 15-20 - 2 votes (4.55%)
* Gain less Than 15 - 0 votes (0%)
Discuss :: (24 Comments)

Senate Forecast 10/30: Minnesota Slipping

by: Chris Bowers

Thu Oct 30, 2008 at 15:15

Current Projection: Democratic Pickup of 7 seats

Republican Held: Democratic Pickups 7
State Type Democratic Republican D Cash Margin Polls
D Pickups
Virginia Open Warner Gilmore 2713% D +29.9 7
New Mexico Open T. Udall Pearce 542% D +19.0 2*
Colorado Open M. Udall Schaffer 364% D +12.5 2
Alaska Incumbent Begich Stevens 63% D +8.0 1**
New Hamp. Freshman Shaheen Sununu 49% D +6.0 5
Oregon Incumbent Merkley Smith 51% D +2.7 3
North Carolina Freshman Hagen Dole 51% D +2.0 7
R Holds
Minnesota Freshman Franken Coleman 70% R +1.3 3
Georgia Freshman Martin Chambliss 8% R +3.0 4
Kentucky Incumbent Lunsford McConnell 22% R +3.7 3
* - No recent polls from New Mexico
** = Only post-conviction poll included.

Republican Held, Uncompetitive Republican Locks (13): Alabama (Sessions), Idaho (Open, Risch) Kansas (Roberts), Maine (Collins), Mississippi-A (Cochran), Mississippi-B (Wicker), Nebraska (Open, Johanns), Oklahoma (Inhofe), South Carolina (Graham), Tennessee (Alexander), Texas (Cornyn), Wyoming-A (Barrasso), Wyoming-B (Enzi)

Democratic Held: Democratic Losses, 0
State Type Democrat Republican Dem Cash Margin Polls
Dem Lead Losses: 0
New Jersey Incumbent Lautenberg Zimmer 194% D +7.5 2

Democratic Held, Uncompetitive Democratic Locks (11): Arkansas (Pryor), Delaware (Biden), Illinois (Durbin), Iowa (Harkin), Louisiana (Landrieu), Massachusetts (Kerry), Michigan (Levin), Montana (Baucus), Rhode Island (Reed), South Dakota (Johnson), West Virginia (Rockerfeller)

Methodology and analysis in the extended entry.

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