Archive for the ‘Senate’ Category

Democrats thought they had a sure thing when Sen. Evan Bayh decided to run for the Senate in Indiana. Guy Benson’s Tip Sheet shows why politicians shouldn’t count their victories before the votes confirm it. The truth is that Sen. Bayh cares more about being a fat-cat lobbyist than he cares about doing the work of a real senator.

Benson highlights how unserious Sen. Bayh was about his most important responsibilities. Bayh has only himself to blame for his difficulties. In his tip sheet, Benson highlights the fact that “Although initially seen as a likely pickup, his campaign in recent weeks has been dogged by questions about his seriousness after leaked copies of his schedule as a senator appear to show he spent more time fundraising, traveling at taxpayer expense and potentially job hunting than being focused on his job in the Senate…the ambitious senator rarely showed up to hearings of the committee, particularly in the run up to the March 20, 2003, invasion of Iraq. According to attendance data on the committee’s website, Bayh only attended five of the 24 hearings Armed Services held between Jan. 1, 2003, and April 9, 2003, the day Hussein’s statue was toppled in Baghdad.”

Bayh ‘retired’ in 2010 rather than getting defeated. He was headed for defeat because he’d voted for the ACA. He’s still got that problem. Unfortunately for him, he’s now got this new problem to deal with. It’s one thing to miss a handful of meetings. Scheduling conflicts happen. It’s another thing to miss that many important meetings in that short of a period of time.

After seeing how many meetings of the Senate Armed Services Committee he missed, I won’t hesitate in questioning Sen. Bayh’s patriotism. Patriotism’s definition is “devoted love, support, and defense of one’s country; national loyalty.” It’s difficult to argue that Bayh displayed “devoted love” when he missed that many important meetings of the Armed Services Committee.

Why shouldn’t Hoosier voters question whether he’ll take his job seriously this time? The better option is to just elect Todd Young.

Late this afternoon, Congress passed a continuing resolution to fund the government, thereby avoiding a government shutdown.

First, “lawmakers in the Senate passed the bill 72-26.” Next, the “House passed the bill 342-85 Wednesday night to keep the government funded through Dec. 9.” That allows Congress to get out of town to campaign.

According to the article, the “CR will keep the government funded through Dec. 9 at current funding levels. Besides the regular government funding, it would also provide $1.1 billion in emergency funding to fight the Zika virus, but it’s offset by $400 million that would be taken away from programs Democrats view as crucial. In response to floods that ravaged Louisiana and other states recently, the legislation would also provide $500 million in supplemental funding.”

Now it’s off to the campaign trail for all of the House members and 34 senators. The next deadlines on their schedule are Nov. 8th, aka Election Day, and Dec. 9, which is when the CR expires.

One of the things that hasn’t drawn much conversation this month is whether Republicans will maintain their majority in the US Senate. At the start of the year, it looked like Sen. Schumer would be the next majority leader. While that’s still a possibility, it’s looking more like an uphill fight at this point. Josh Kraushaar’s article illustrates why things aren’t turning in the Democrats’ direction.

Kraushaar started talking about how Democrats had recruited “a highly cel­eb­rated Sen­ate can­did­ate with en­vi­able fa­vor­ab­il­ity rat­ings back home, Demo­crats cheered when this former statewide of­fice­hold­er de­cided to reenter polit­ics. He left of­fice after the Re­pub­lic­an wave elec­tion of 2010, and in the en­su­ing years spent much of his time away from his home state. Even so, he star­ted out ahead of his GOP rival in many early polls. One red flag: He hadn’t won a race in nearly a dec­ade, liv­ing more on his past polit­ic­al glory than any re­cent elect­ive ac­com­plish­ments.”

It’s true that Sen. Bayh started off with a “$10 mil­lion stock­pile”, which he’d been sitting on “since he re­tired.” Once again, sitting on a big financial war chest isn’t the determining factor:

A re­spec­ted WTHR/Howey poll re­leased Fri­day showed Bayh with a four-point lead, down from sev­en points in a Mon­mouth poll a month ago and a far cry from the double-di­git lead he re­cently held in Demo­crat­ic sur­veys. He’s only polling at 44 per­cent, des­pite near-uni­ver­sal name iden­ti­fic­a­tion. If Re­pub­lic­ans can keep chip­ping away at Bayh’s lead with car­pet­bag­ger at­tack lines, it would give them a des­per­ately-needed life­line in their bid to save their Sen­ate ma­jor­ity.

The fact that Bayh is “only polling at 44%” is rather striking.

Bayh is running in Indiana, which is solidly red in terms of the presidential race. That means, to win, Bayh will have to get lots of Trump voters to split their ticket and vote for him. I don’t see that happening, especially considering the fact that Gov. Mike Pence, (R-IN), is Trump’s running mate. This won’t help Bayh, either:

The Sen­ate Lead­er­ship Fund is spend­ing $4 mil­lion in ads over the next month to re­mind voters of Bayh’s checkered re­cord. Des­pite Bayh’s huge war chest, Re­pub­lic­an groups are keep­ing pace on the air­waves, ac­cord­ing to a Demo­crat­ic source.

A $4,000,000 ad buy against Bayh isn’t just a significant buy. It’s an eye-popping-sized ad buy this close to the election. Bayh’s lead dropped from 7 points to 4 points without the ad buy. As voters tune in and the ad buy kicks in, expect Bayh’s lead to shrink, especially if the ads tout the fact that Bayh voted for Obamacare. It doesn’t help Bayh that he’s campaigned with Hillary:

I’ve been skeptical of the Democrats retaking the majority in the Senate. This article doesn’t give me a reason to rethink my opinion.

Technorati: Evan Bayh, Hillary Clinton, Obamacare, The Establishment, Ticket-Splitting, Democrats, Mike Pence, Donald Trump, Republicans, Election 2016

Since the start of 2016 or earlier, pundits have predicted that Democrats would retake their majority in the US Senate. That’s been the conventional wisdom pretty much the entire year. According to this article, those predictions might be greatly exaggerated.

This article isn’t the only thing that points to a contrary outcome in November. The latest Quinnipiac Swing State Poll brought smiles to the NRSC leadership team. Quinnipiac’s poll starts by saying “Republican incumbent U.S. Senators in three critical swing states fare better today as Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida leads either of two Democratic challengers, while Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey outpoints his Democratic challenger and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman is in a dead heat with a well-known challenger, according to a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll released today.”

It then highlights the fact that “Sen. Rubio leads U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy 47-40 percent and tops U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson 48-40 percent.” Amelia Chasse talked about the Florida race in a rather unflattering light towards Democrats:

Another DSCC primary pick, Florida’s Patrick Murphy, has had his inflated resume methodically torn apart by a series of investigative reports, to the point where Salon called him a “disaster candidate.”

Prior to that, Chasse spoke about Katie McGinty, the Democrats’ candidate in Pennsylvania in an unflattering light:

Establishment groups spent nearly $5 million to drag Katie McGinty, a bureaucrat with a revolving door problem, through another contentious primary, only to have her claim to be the first in her family to attend college immediately exposed as a lie.

According to Quinnipiac’s Swing State Poll, McGinty trails incumbent Pat Toomey “49%-40%.” That isn’t the type of margin that’s likely to produce a November nailbiter. In Ohio, pundits predicted Rob Portman’s demise. That might not happen:

Sen. Rob Portman is in a dead heat with former Gov. Ted Strickland in Ohio. But that is an improvement for Portman, who earlier in the campaign was down as much as 9 points.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice that Republicans are leading in the 2 biggest swing states and that they’re in much better shape in Ohio than they were a couple months ago.

Then there’s Ron Johnson. Though that race is tight, Wisconsin’s GOP GOTV operation is a powerful machine. Further, Feingold is running into difficulty explaining why he did nothing to fix the VA hospital in Tomah after getting notified about its difficulties.

That’s before talking about some potential GOP pickups. This video shows why Darryl Glenn has positioned himself well in Colorado:

Talking about a recent case of black-on-black violence in San Bernardino, CA, Glenn said that BLM wasn’t part of the solution before saying that what’s required is for policy leaders, community leaders and law enforcement to get together in a room and have a substantive conversation about the things that need to happen to end the distrust between law enforcement and minority communities. Couple the fact that he’s endorsed by Ted Cruz and that much of Cruz’s GOTV operation is now working for Glenn. That’s a powerful combination in Colorado.

Finally, don’t think that Harry Reid’s seat isn’t in play, too. If these things come together, it isn’t impossible to see Republicans holding a similar margin in 2017 as they have right now.

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According to this article, down-ticket Republicans might as well start writing their concession speeches. This is proof that a little paranoia goes a long way. According to the article, “New polls that came out yesterday showing Hillary Clinton with a double digit lead over Donald Trump in the race for the White House has to have many House and Senate Republicans that are up for re-election this year shaking in their boots and running for the hills. The Trump Train nightmare is set to wreak havoc on a GOP-controlled Congress, cutting political careers short and leaving many looking for jobs.”

That’s before the author gets into full panic mode.

Jason Taylor, the man who wrote the article, then said “You have Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, who is going to have a tough fight for re-election, along with Richard Burr in North Carolina, Marco Rubio in Florida, Mark Kirk in Illinois, Roy Blunt in Missouri, Patrick Toomey in Pennsylvania and Rob Portman in Ohio just to name a few. Don’t get me wrong, anything is possible. I just think far too much damage has been done to hold the Senate.”

Now that it’s established that Mr. Taylor sounds like he’s in full panic mode, let’s introduce some reality into the conversation. This article highlights last week’s Quinnipiac poll. It paints an entirely different picture:

Brown continues, saying “In general, this poll of the three major swing states, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, is good news for the GOP. Sen. Rob Portman is in a dead heat with former Gov. Ted Strickland in Ohio. But that is an improvement for Portman, who earlier in the campaign was down as much as 9 points. And in Pennsylvania, GOP Sen. Pat Toomey has a 9-point lead. It is far too early to say he’s a sure thing, but he is in good shape.”

Apparently, voters are smart enough to differentiate between the loudmouth at the top of the ticket and these senators. Who would’ve thunk it?

Prediction: Republicans will keep control of the House and Senate. Marco Rubio will score a strong victory in Florida. Ditto with Sen. Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania. Sen. Ron Johnson will defeat Russ Feingold in Wisconsin, thus ending Feingold’s anything-but-illustrious political career. Rob Portman has an uphill fight but he’s fought back into a tie with Ted Strickland after trailing by 9 points early. That’s before talking about Republicans flipping Harry Reid’s seat in Nevada and ousting Michael Benet in Colorado, both distinct possibilities.

Message to the Chicken Littles out there — the sky isn’t falling:

This Quinnipiac poll is the best news Mitch McConnell has seen in months. Peter Brown, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said “With Republican national leaders worried about keeping control of the U.S. Senate, Sen. Marco Rubio might ride to their rescue if he decides to reverse field and seek re-election. This Quinnipiac University poll finds Sen. Marco Rubio in good shape when matched against his two potential Democratic opponents.”

Brown continues, saying “In general, this poll of the three major swing states, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, is good news for the GOP. Sen. Rob Portman is in a dead heat with former Gov. Ted Strickland in Ohio. But that is an improvement for Portman, who earlier in the campaign was down as much as 9 points. And in Pennsylvania, GOP Sen. Pat Toomey has a 9-point lead. It is far too early to say he’s a sure thing, but he is in good shape.”

This has to be considered good news for the GOP, too:


While the presidential matchup in Pennsylvania and the U.S. Senate race both feature a Democratic woman running against a Republican man, Sen. Pat Toomey has the advantage of incumbency. He leads 56 – 35 percent among men, while women are divided with 44 percent for Katie McGinty and 42 percent for Toomey.

If Republicans hold those 3 seats, they’ll hold their majority in the Senate. I expect them to hold Wisconsin, too, where Ron Johnson will benefit from the fact that he’s running 5+ points ahead of Trump in Wisconsin.

Something noteworthy is happening, too. Each of these candidates are running well ahead of Mr. Trump. While it’s still early, this suggests that voters are differentiating between Mr. Trump and mainstream Republicans. If that’s what’s happening, then that’s good news for those who’ve been worried about a major GOP thumping this upcoming November.

With Rubio now officially running for re-election, coupled with this news, the NRSC just got a major morale boost.

Gregory Diskant’s op-ed is a display of some of the most warped thinking (if it rises to that level) I’ve seen. Diskant argues that it “is altogether proper to view a decision by the Senate not to act as a waiver of its right to provide advice and consent. A waiver is an intentional relinquishment or abandonment of a known right or privilege.”

First, the principle of advise and consent is a responsibility, not a right or privilege. Second, it’s altogether improper to think that the executive branch has the authority to determine when the legislative branch has waived its responsibility of advise and consent. The Supreme Court’s 2014 ruling in NLRB v. Noel Canning is instructive on this separation of powers issue, saying “The Clause should be interpreted as granting the President the power to make appointments during a recess but not offering the President the authority routinely to avoid the need for Senate confirmation.”

Further, it states “For purposes of the Recess Appointments Clause, the Senate is in session when it says that it is, provided that, under its own rules, it retains the capacity to transact Senate business.” In other words, the Senate’s rules, which are voted on at the start of each new Congress, determine when it’s in recess or when it chooses to waive its advise and consent responsibilities. It isn’t within the Executive Branch’s authority to make official determinations on how the Legislative Branch must do its job.

If the Supreme Court ruled that the Executive Branch could tell the Legislative Branch how to do its jobs, that would eliminate the system’s necessary checks and balances. Further, such a ruling would eliminate the concept of co-equal branches of government.

This sentence is particularly disturbing:

The president should advise the Senate that he will deem its failure to act by a specified reasonable date in the future to constitute a deliberate waiver of its right to give advice and consent.

Again, the Supreme Court ruled in NLRB v. Noel Canning that the Executive Branch doesn’t have the authority to tell the Senate how to do its business. That ruling wasn’t a 5-4 ruling, either. It was a 9-0 decision, meaning it was such an easy ruling that all 9 justices voted against President Obama’s executive overreach.

Mr. Diskant’s op-ed isn’t a serious piece of work. It’s virtually worthless from an academic or legal standpoint.

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Kirsten Powers’ latest column apparently was written while she wore rose-colored glasses. Here’s what I’m talking about:

A year ago, few would have expected the GOP would be on the ropes in Kansas, Kentucky and Georgia. Kansas Republicans haven’t lost a Senate race since 1932. Now, Sen. Pat Roberts is nearly tied with businessman Greg Orman, an independent. GOP minority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, who hails from a deep red state, has been in a fierce battle with Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Calling the McConnell-Grimes race as a “fierce battle” is wishful thinking. McConnell hasn’t had a big lead but he’s maintained a steady lead since a little before Labor Day:

As for Georgia, that race is tight but it’s misleadingly so. Noah Rothman’s post provides some interesting late-breaking information on that race:

Compared to a WXIA-TV pre-election tracking poll one week ago, Democrat Michelle Nunn is upside down. One week ago, Nunn led Republican David Perdue by 2 points, 46% to 44%. Today, in a dramatic reversal, Perdue is on top, 48% to 45%, a 5-point right turn in one of the nation’s most high-visibility contests. Polling for Atlanta’s WXIA-TV 11Alive was conducted by SurveyUSA.

That’s a significant change but that’s just part of the story. This is eye-popping information:

Worse for Nunn: among voters who tell SurveyUSA they have already returned a ballot, Perdue leads by 10 points.

That’s terrible news for Michelle Nunn because she’ll have to win a significant majority of votes on Election Day to win. While this race is likely heading for a runoff, the runoff isn’t Michelle Nunn’s friend. This is wishful thinking, too:

Republicans should be alarmed they’ve had to marshal so many resources to win in an environment that so overwhelmingly favors them. The number of baked-in advantages for the GOP this election cycle is remarkable.

There’s the landscape: Democrats are defending 21 seats; the GOP 15. Only one of those GOP states, Maine, went for President Obama in 2012. But the Dems are struggling to hold on to seats in seven states: Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia, that Obama lost.

Democrats gave up on West Virginia and Montana months ago. They thought they had a chance in South Dakota for a brief moment but that moment disappeared quickly. Alaska was competitive but that’s definitely a seat that will flip from blue to red soon after the polls close. Here’s a picture of the last couple of months worth of polling:

Arkansas isn’t that competitive, either:

It’s important to remember that Tom Cotton is a first term congressman and that Mark Pryor inherited his father’s political machine. I’d be stunned if Rep. Cotton opened up a double-digit lead against Sen. Pryor. In fact, I’d be predicting a major Republican sweep if Cotton led Pryor by 10+ points.

While South Dakota, Montana and West Virginia seem to be lost causes for Democrats, the most recent NBC/Marist poll shows Senate races in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Arkansas and North Carolina within three points. In Georgia, recent polls favor Democrat Michelle Nunn, who is fighting Rep. David Perdue. Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu leads her Republican opponent by a point, but is likely headed for a runoff. A Friday poll showed the Alaska Senate race in a tie.

That’s top-rate spin. Colorado and Iowa weren’t on any consultant’s list of potential blue-to-red flips at the start of the year. Treating these races like they were expected to be tight races is a bit disingenuous. Cherrypicking one poll out with the Democrat leading while ignoring the other 4-6 polls showing the Republican leading is a nifty trick but it’s misleading.

While I think Georgia is heading for a runoff, I wouldn’t be totally surprised if Purdue won it outright. If that happens, Republicans will be celebrating by midnight West Coast time.

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If people had said that Iowa was leaning Republican at the start of 2014, people would’ve said that that means Republicans were heading for a very good year. Based on the last 4 polls in Iowa, I’d say that Republicans were closing in on a strong year in the Senate:

Braley’s campaign is doing everything it can to frighten voters into voting for Braley:

With just weeks left in a tight Senate race that he started with an advantage, Democrat Bruce Braley is pressing to raise concerns among women voters about his Republican opponent, Joni Ernst, and take some of the sheen off the farm-raised, military veteran who rose from relative obscurity to GOP stardom during the campaign.

The all-abortion-all-the-time campaign worked so well for Mark Udall that they’re apparently shipping it to Iowa. A campaign is running on empty when their best hope is frightening people into staying home. That’s the Braley campaign’s only hope.

Frankly, it’s a high-risk attempt. Joni Ernst just isn’t frightening. She’s a military vet. She’s a state legislator. She’s got personality. It’s difficult to make someone with those attributes sound scary. One woman that is scary campaigned for Braley this weekend:

“What the Republicans are really fighting for is a world which there is less and less investment in your future, less and less opportunity for you and more and more protection for those at the top,” Warren told a crowd of about 500 people Sunday in the Iowa Memorial Union ballroom on the University of Iowa campus.

That Massachusetts windbag is all BS and no substance. There’s no question, though, that she’s the brightest star in the Democratic Party. The thing is that she’s talking generically. She isn’t directly talking about Joni Ernst. While her speech probably whipped the activists into a frenzy, it isn’t likely that she convinced independents that support Joni Ernst into supporting Braley.

If this race represented a Christmas stocking, Braley would be a lump of coal. He’s a check-the-box politician. He’s good enough to be a back-bencher but he isn’t good enough to be a star.

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These polls don’t inspire optimism for Democrats hoping to keep their Senate majority:

Mark Begich, the Democratic incumbent senator, hasn’t led in a poll since he ran an attack ad accusing Dan Sullivan of “signing off on the early release of a sex offender who now stands charged with murder and the sexual assault of a 2-year-old.”

The most recent polls show Sullivan with leads from 3 points to 6 points. Alaska is one of the most reliably red states in the country. Holding Alaska for the Democrats was always going to be an uphill fight. Throw in a major mistake by the Begich campaign and that uphill fight got more difficult. Then there’s Arkansas, where Tom Cotton is running a solid, mistake-free race:

Democrats hoped to flip either Kentucky (unlikely IMHO) or Georgia. Those states are still tight but the Democrat hasn’t led since mid-summer. Then they hoped Kansas would flip. That’s now slipping quickly away.

Democrats hoped Colorado and Iowa would be their firewall. They’re trending away from Democrats. The trend isn’t the Democrats’ friend in at least half a dozen states. That’s how you lose a senate majority.

From a macro level, Republicans did a great job recruiting candidates. Cory Gardner, Tom Cotton and Joni Ernst will be impressive senators if/when they’re elected. At this point, Republicans should win the Senate as long as they keep working hard and they avoid gaffes.

This isn’t a comprehensive list of races where Republicans stand to flip seats. Still, it gives people insight into how things are trending.

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