Brief Political Updates
I will save more detailed blogging for the weekend. My energy and time has been spent on writing my 2nd book (on progressive Baptist congregations in North America) and with my family. So, these updates are brief.
Good news for Obama. Thanks to his recent 9 point lead in OH, the electoral college predictor now shows him beating McCain, 272 to 266! This is the most common EC predictor used. There are others. I have seen scenarios where McCain wins big and others where Obama wins big. But my guess is that, even though Dems are redrawing the map West of the Mississippi river, that the traditional 4 swing states, MI, OH, PA, nd FL will still be decisive this year. Dems usually need 3 of 4 to win. Well, Obama is leading in OH and PA and is narrowly behind McCain in MI (within margin of error). McCain is currently ahead in FL by about 10 points, but Obama has only begun to campaign in FL (thanks to the pledge made by all Dem candidates early on) and has regularly caught up with opponents who start with 20 point leads. So, this is good news.
Obviously, I am not happy with last Tues. huge victory by Clinton in KY–and especially since exit polls showed a mirror of WV in people openly admitting racist reasons for rejecting Obama. I have said for years that KY needs to seriously address racism and never has–this is exhibit 404 and counting. I have called on Gov. Beshear (D) to show moral leadership and work with the KY Council of Churches to hold workshops on racism and sexism throughout the Commonwealth. This is far more important than any one election.
The real John McCain is finally finding his way into the media. “Mr. Clean Politics” has been shown to have more lobbyists on his campaign staff than any other–with many having lobbying ties to dictatorships like Burma/Myanmar! (Why “appease” murderous regimes when one can simply work for them!) His links to Fmr. Sen. Phil Graham (R-TX), a.k.a. “Foreclosure Phil,” and the housing foreclosure crisis, will certainly not endear him to voters in CA, FL, NV, etc. And Graham’s McCain-Economics plan has been exposed as necessarily leading to the largest deficit since WWII! Then there’s the new revelation that “Mr. Maverick” McCain voted the way George W. Bush wanted 100% of the time in 2008 and 95% of the time in 2007. McCain’s “I care for the environment” line is shown as a lie, too. Whereas 2 weeks prior he supported the Senate bill on global warming, he now opposes it and will skip the vote! That’s on top of his vote against the new G.I. Bill (way to support the troops and vets, John!) and his closed-door fundraiser with Bush and 500 wealthy Republicans. Not to mention all those federal elections violations. By November, McSame will be seen by voters as a clone of George W. Bush.
The Senate outlook for Dems keeps getting better. Conservative (i.e., cautious) forecasts show Dems picking up 5 to 8 seats, but if things keep getting worse, the GOP could actually lose 10 to 12 seats–which would give Dems a filibuster proof majority. If that were to happen, a Democratic president could get much accomplished even of a very progressive nature and a GOP president would find much of his agenda dead on arrival in the White House. Here’s my current handicapping of the most likely Senate races. (Note: Republicans only have one real shot at a pickup–taking Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)’s seat with former Dem. Kennedy, a Karl Rove recruit. But he’s getting nowhere and Landrieu’s seat is looking safer all the time.)
1. Wildly popular former gov. Mark Warner (D-VA) is creaming unpopular former gov. Gilmore (R-VA) for the open senate seat in VA. Virginia, once one of the reddest states in the union, is turning purple–and bluer all the time.
2. Rep. Tom Udall (D-NM) is 20 points ahead of both his GOP challengers for the open senate seat in New Mexico.
3. Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO), cousin to Tom, is leading Sen. Bob Schaffer (R-CO) in a Western state turning Democratic. This is also a likely Democratic presidential pickup. Things are so desperate for the GOP here that they are now putting an anti-abortion amendment the Fall agenda. But Coloradans are quite capable of splitting their votes–and may vote to limit abortions and STILL vote Democratic on both presidential and senate levels. At least, current polling shows that trend.
4. Former Reagan official John Sununu (R-NH) is on the way out the door in New Hampshire, soon to be replaced by former gov. Gail Sheehan (D-NH). NH is the only New England state that might vote for McCain in the Fall, but even this doesn’t help Sununu’s chances.
5. Sen. Elizabeth Dole(R-NC) is in the fight of her political career against state Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) who has a slight lead in recent polls.
6. Rep. Tom Allen (D-ME) should be doing better against Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) than he is, but it’s hard for a “moderate” Republican to shake that image even after it is no longer deserved. Since the Dems captured the Senate in ’06, Collins has abandoned her previous moderate views and voted consistently with Bush-McConnell–even on matters that the voters of Maine find repugnant. If Allen can shake her image, he can beat her, but the media in Maine are on her side so far.
7. Rep. Jeff Merkeley (D-OR) is in a dead heat against Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) in a state turning from purple to blue. Smith’s defense of the Iraq war is NOT helping him in Oregon.
8. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), who may be indicted by the FBI for money laundering and other corruption charges before Nov., is behind Anchorage Mayor Begich (D-AK) in latest polls. This would be the first time Alaska had a Democratic senator since 1980!
9. Former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove (D-MS) is outpolling appointed Sen. Wicker (R-MS) for Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS)’s abandoned seat. Democrats just picked up Wicker’s former House Seat (01st district) in a special election in which Dem. Travis Childers beat a handpicked GOP candidate despite the GOP spending $1.8 million to defend it–and linking Childers to Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and bringing in Dick Cheney to campaign for the seat!
10. To my surprise, businessman Bruce Lunsford (D-KY) is now outpolling Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Obstructionist-in-Chief, in a post-primary bump! McConnell will be hard to beat and I continue to think that we lost our strongest candidate when State Auditor Crit Luallen (D-KY) refused to run and our 2nd best bet when Lt. Col. Andrew Horne was chased out of the race by party insiders. But McConnell’s blocking of expansion for Children’s healthcare and his vote against the new G.I. Bill have made Kentuckians very angry. Even 30% of those claiming to want to vote for McCain in the Fall are saying that they will split their ticket and support Lunsford against McConnell!
11. Comic Al Franken is in a dead heat against Bush defender, Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN). This would be a more likely pickup for Dems if Franken did not have a few tax problems!
12. State Rep. Rick Noriega (D-TX), a decorated Iraq War veteran against the war, is in a statistical tie with Bush-defender Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). I actually think this race could become more competitive than the KY race if African-Americans and Latinos in TX join forces in Texas–and if Cornyn is tied fully to Bush who, even in his home state of TX now has only a 45% approval rating.
13. State Rep. Andrew Rice (D-OK), who lost a brother in the Twin Towers on 9/11 and abandoned a career in business to dedicate himself to work for justice and peace, is working hard against the Great Global Warming Denier, Sen. Inhofe (R-OK).
14. Idaho is a very GOP state, but it has Libertarian leanings and is therefore not entirely happy with the anti-civil liberties approach of its GOP leadership. When combined with Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID)’s sexual scandals (and his campaigning for his replacement), this helps Larry Roccocco (D-ID)’s “Working for the Senate” approach.
15. Scott Kleeb is taking a longshot challenge for Nebraska’s open Senate seat.
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