Archive for the ‘Battleground States’ Category

According to the Agenda Media, Hillary Clinton mopped the proverbial floor with Donald Trump’s behind. The storyline connecting all of the stories is that she was well-prepared and that she was masterful at getting Trump to take the bait time after time.

That’s the traditional angle, though. It’s the conventional wisdom angle. According to this article, though, voters in swing states might have a different opinion. It’s telling that the article notices “Kae Roberts and Jay Eardly were leaning toward Hillary Clinton before Monday night’s debate. By the end, they had both pulled away. John Kokos and Hank Federal were undecided going in, potential Clinton backers. By the end, they’d ruled her out.”

Any night that voters say that they’re going to vote for you, it’s a good thing. It’s also good when voters rule out your opponent. That’s what appears to be happening in the post-debate aftermath. That isn’t to say that Trump turned in a masterful performance. He didn’t. He didn’t capitalize on the opportunities that Mrs. Clinton gave him often enough.

Democrats were switching allegiances in Pennsylvania, too:

Ken Reed sat down at the main bar of the Tin Lizzy tavern with two things in mind: to dig into the tavern’s oversize cheese steak, and watch the presidential debate. “I am hungry and undecided, in that order,” he said, digging into the savory dish in a bar that dates back to 1746.

Kady Letoksy, a paralegal by day, a waitress and bartender at night at the Tin Lizzy, sat beside him. At 28, she has never voted before, and she is now thinking it might be a good idea to start. Letosky entered the evening undecided in a town that is heavily Democratic in registration. Her sister and father are on opposite sides of the political aisle. Donald “Trump had the upper hand this evening,” she said, citing his command of the back-and-forth between him and Hillary Clinton.

Reed, 35, is a registered Democrat and small businessman. “By the end of the debate, Clinton never said a thing to persuade me that she had anything to offer me or my family or my community,” he said, sitting at the same bar that has boasted local icons as regulars, such as the late Fred Rogers, and Arnold Palmer, who had his own stash of PM Whiskey hidden behind newer bottles of whiskey for his regular visits. “Have to say Trump had the edge this evening, he came out swinging but also talked about specifics on jobs and the economy,” Reed said.

Trump’s goal for the debates is to help him win the election. As such, the debates are a tool to be used to help him win. Viewed in that light, Trump definitely benefited from last night’s debate. It isn’t as much a matter of winning or losing as much as it’s about whether you benefited from it.

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We know that Hillary has outspent Donald Trump by outrageous margins, especially in Florida and nationally. It’s frightening for Mrs. Clinton to think that she’s spent that much money and leads by the slimmest of margins with essentially 6 weeks left before Election Day. What should frighten Mrs. Clinton is the news that “Donald Trump’s campaign is expected to drop an estimated $140 million on ads through Election Day, AP reported late Friday.”

According to the article “The Republican nominee’s team will devote $60 million of the TV ads to local markets, including Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Maine, New Mexico and Wisconsin. The remaining $40 million of TV funding will go toward national commercials.” The article also says “The buy would include $100 million in television airtime and $40 million in digital ads.”

This marks the first significant, sustained ad buy by Mr. Trump. He’s within striking distance or ahead of Mrs. Clinton in most battleground states, including in the states listed above. It isn’t just the size of the ad buy, though, that should frighten Mrs. Clinton.

It’s that he’s connecting with voters that she isn’t connecting with. Specifically, he’s connecting with blue collar workers, especially in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. He’s leading in Ohio. It’s close in Michigan. It’s extremely close in Pennsylvania. Thanks to these ad buys and the tight races in those states, Mrs. Clinton will have to play defense in these states. We’ve seen that she isn’t that adept at playing defense.

It should frighten Mrs. Clinton that the states where she’s on defense in is expanding. The question that’s now on the table is whether these ad buys will break through Mrs. Clinton’s firewall. At this point, that’s a distinct possibility. If she’s playing defense in that many Rust Belt blue collar states, she’s got a real fight on her hands.

Kellyanne Conway, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, explained things perfectly during this interview:

This ad buy will make the closing push extra-interesting. I’m certain this isn’t what Mrs. Clinton wanted.

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Everyone knows that Donald Trump’s ego won’t let him admit that he isn’t winning or that the latest poll doesn’t have him in the lead. The latest spin from Trump’s campaign attempts to make it look like he’s leading. Saying that the devil is in the details fits the Trump campaign’s latest take on this week’s Fox Business poll.

To hear a Trump supporter’s take on it, Trump leads Cruz and Kasich 37% to 26% to 26%…with “WI Independent voters.” That statistic is accurate but incomplete. What isn’t mentioned is that women “back Cruz over Trump by a 19-point margin (46-27 percent).” It doesn’t mention that “Cruz’s advantage over the real estate mogul also comes from self-described “very” conservative voters, who give him a 36-point lead (61 percent Cruz vs. 25 percent Trump)” or that white “evangelical Christians voting in the GOP primary prefer Cruz over Trump by 49-28 percent.”

The simple truth is that there aren’t enough independent voters to swing the election in Trump’s favor. There aren’t enough independent voters to even make it close. For the moment, this is the only result that matters:

Cruz garners 42 percent among Wisconsin likely GOP primary voters, while Trump receives 32 percent. John Kasich comes in third with 19 percent.

There’s a reason why Trump isn’t holding multiple rallies each day in Wisconsin and why Trump is only calling into the national radio talk shows.

Earlier this week, Trump called into conservative Wisconsin talk radio shows. He got beaten up pretty badly by Charley Sykes. When he called into Vicki McKenna’s show, things got so bad that he hung up on her. Wisconsin conservatives will make up a significant percentage of voters next Tuesday. If that’s the case, expect Trump to lose by double digits. Expect this graphic to quickly fade from memory:

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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A month ago, it looked like Scott Brown’s second Senate bid was in trouble. According to this article, stories of Brown’s demise are definitely premature:

In the WMUR/UNH survey released Thursday night, Shaheen led Brown by 46 percent to 44 percent, which is within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

This latest numbers show a dramatic swing in Brown’s direction from the previous WMUR/UNH poll, which was conducted a month-and-a-half earlier and showed Shaheen leading Brown by 12 points.

It’s understatement to say that the trend isn’t Shaheen’s friend. It’s probably overstating things to say she’s in trouble but I don’t think it’s wrong to say that she’s got some tough campaigning ahead. This statement from Sen. Shaheen’s campaign manager is definitely overstatement:

In a statement released after the survey’s results were released, Shaheen campaign manager Mike Vlacich said that the incumbent has been “ready for a competitive race since day one. Jeanne Shaheen is still leading all of her potential opponents because Granite State voters know and trust her,” he said.

The first question I’d ask Mr. Vlacich is pretty straightforward: If New Hampshire trusts her, why aren’t they showing it?

Going from a 12-point lead to a 2-point lead isn’t how people normally express confidence in a candidate.

Conventional wisdom says that Republicans don’t have to defeat Shaheen to retake the majority in the Senate. It’s thought that Democrats can’t maintain their majority if they lose Shaheen’s seat.

At this point, I’m thinking a Brown victory over Shaheen would be nice icing on the GOP’s cake. Similarly, while I’m not predicting anything at this point, I’m thinking that winning 8 seats is possible for the GOP.

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One of the highlights of my week is waiting for the information contained in Salena Zito’s weekly article. This week’s article doesn’t disappoint because she paints a picture of America outside the DC Beltway:

Nothing better crystallizes the deep disconnect between Washington and Main Street America than the peculiar narrative surrounding Nick Rahall’s re-election bid for a U.S. House seat.

West Virginia’s 3rd District congressman faces the most important challenger of his 37-year career — himself.

On paper, Rahall has everything going for him: He lives in a state where Democrats hold a huge voter-registration advantage over Republicans; as an 18-time winner, he has the built-in protection of incumbency (statistics show incumbents are more than 80 percent more likely to retain their seats); he is running against a Democrat-turned-Republican state senator, and voters sometimes view a party switch as suspect.

But that is all on paper.

The reality is that Rahall has become a creature of Washington. And Washington, despite its geographical proximity to West Virginia, has a Versailles-like lifestyle and progressive mindset that is far removed from the values of most West Virginians. So, Rahall might as well govern from a palace.

Rahall suffers from what Midwesterners call Tom Daschle Disease. Sen. Daschle earned the reputation of sounding like President Bush’s best friend when he visited South Dakota, then plotting liberal strategy with Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid and Dick Durbin. Rep. Rahall’s other, bigger, problem is that he isn’t listening to his constituents anymore:

His voting record against his state’s economic interests is astounding, beginning with his 2007 support for cap-and-trade and his repeated support of progressive climate policies during the first two years of President Obama’s term, when Democrats still controlled the House.

And his 2010 vote for ObamaCare, followed by his vote against its repeal last year, only adds to his complex re-election bid.

Apparently, Rep. Rahall hasn’t learned the first rule of holes:

What made his support for this budget so jarring is that it contained a carbon tax that would impose a $25-per-ton price on carbon dioxide (increasing 5.6 percent a year) and a rollback of more than $100 billion in fossil-fuel subsidies over 10 years — all while spending more money on renewable energy.

Not a particularly wise vote for a man who lives in a district where nearly 20,000 folks are employed by the very coal industry that would be devastated by this tax.

The question is whether Rahall’s constituents will do to him what miners did to Jim Oberstar: throw him out for voting against mining. If they vote for someone who will fight for their interests, Rahall’s toast. Simply put, he isn’t paying attention anymore. It’s like he’s living in a bubble.

Finally, check out Salena’s newest venture. Salena is now the co-host of a new talk radio show called Off Road Politics:

I have had the honor of interviewing three presidents, two vice presidents, four speakers of the House, two U.S. attorney generals, two secretaries of Defense and State, and hundreds of representatives. But the most incredible interviews have always been with generals or soldiers returning from war and regular folks in coffee shops, on streetcorners and farms, at factories.

Their question has always the same: Why can’t Washington do a better job?

There is a natural bubble that forms around any governing body, from school boards to county councils and state legislative chambers. The branches of the federal government are no different. It is as frustrating to those outside of the bubble as it is for those on the inside, albeit for very different reasons. Our job at Off Road Politics will be to jab that bubble and tell the real story.

That sounds like a fascinating show, one I’m sure I’ll try listening to on a regular basis.

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Yesterday, HHS announced that another part of the Affordable Care Act is getting delayed:

The White House is delaying the launch of its online small-business exchange by one year, a Health and Human Services (HHS) official confirmed to The Hill on Wednesday.

The delay is another setback for the troubled enrollment process of President Obama’s signature healthcare law.

Companies with fewer than 50 employees were slated to begin buying coverage through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), an online ObamaCare exchange, this month. The exchange’s delay means small businesses will instead have to seek out coverage through an agent or broker.

The ACA’s tax increases started on time. Anything that included a penalty has been implemented on time, with the exception of big corporations and big labor.

The health care law, President Obama’s latest name for the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, is a dead man walking. Democrats are panicking bigtime. If President Obama hadn’t held his ‘mea culpa press conference’ 2 weeks ago, Democrats might’ve already abandoned him for all intents and purposes. He headed off a full-fledged stampede with that press conference. Temporarily. is a disaster. State-run exchanges aren’t working well either. Millions of people have gotten cancellation notices saying that the health insurance they liked will expire at midnight New Year’s Eve. The new policies come with higher premiums, higher deductibles and tinier networks of coverage.

In other words, the new policies replacing the policies they’d originally bought are substandard policies. (So much for President Obama’s promise that the new policies would be better and cheaper.)

The healthcare law allows small businesses to either offer a single plan to all of their workers or pick a certain benefit level and let workers choose among plans at that level. The HHS delayed the latter option earlier this year, saying it’s too complicated for insurers to implement right away. Workers will still not be able to choose from an employer-approved benefit level of plans during the one-year delay.

It finally dawned on the administration that administering health insurance is complicated. What a revelation. It isn’t surprising that the Obama administration has looked like the latest iteration of the Keystone Cops.

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During yesterday’s hearing, Congressman Jason Chaffetz took Elijah Cummings to task for suggesting that this investigation was over. Rep. Cummings said that that isn’t what he was asking for. This video catches yesterday’s exchange:

Here’s what Rep. Cummings said in defending his indefensible statements:

CUMMINGS: Let me be clear because this is just old talking points going on here…
CHAFFETZ: To suggest that these are just talking points. These are not just talking points.

A month ago, Rep. Elijah Cummings was interviewed by CNN’s Candy Crowley about whether the investigation into the IRS scandal was over. Here’s Cummings’ reply:

Here’s the important line from the interview:

CUMMINGS: Based on everything I’ve seen, the case is solved and, if it was up to me, I’d wrap this case up and move on.

In other words, what Chaffetz said about Rep. Cummings wanting to wrap up the hearings into the IRS are 100% accurate. Cummings’ interview with Candy Crowley is verification for Chaffetz’s claims.

Cummings has turned from being outraged with the IRS to defending the administration. That’s borne out by another exchange that Peggy Noonan highlighted in this column:

It was Maryland’s Rep. Elijah Cummings, the panel’s ranking Democrat, who, absurdly, asked Ms. Hofacre if the White House called the Cincinnati office to tell them what to do and whether she has knowledge of the president of the United States digging through the tax returns of citizens. Ms. Hofacre looked surprised. No, she replied.

It wasn’t hard to imagine her thought bubble: Do congressmen think presidents call people like me and say, “Don’t forget to harass my enemies”? Are congressmen that stupid?

Cummings’ partisanship is showing and it isn’t a flattering look on Cummings.

Looking at this from a big picture perspective, there’s only one conclusion a thoughtful person can draw: that this investigation is making slow, steady progress and that it’s going to get to the bottom of this administration’s scandals. I’d further add that these investigations are beyond the administration’s control.

The only thing that will stop the investigation is if Nancy Pelosi becomes Speaker again. The terrible news for the Obama administration is that that won’t happen anytime soon.

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Newt Gingrich is one of the best political strategists of our time. Whether you agree or disagree with his policies, whether you think he’s too temperamental or whether you think he’s utterly brilliant, there’s no denying the fact that he’s got a fantastic knack of understanding main street. This video is a tour de force presentation by Newt:

Here’s the first thing Newt said that caught my attention:

It’s great. It’s the American drama. After all the talk, after all the ads, after all the pontificating, the American people get to tell us.

I’ll just say this. It’s about time. Let’s get this started. I’ve had enough of looking at deceitful polls. I’m tired of listening to President Obama’s stump speech. It isn’t time for the pontificators to leave the stage. It’s just time for them to add insight into why the American people made the decision they made.

This is the next thing Newt said that caught my attention:

I’ll give you one example. They’re talking about Democratic early voting in Ohio but they’re counting the counties along the Ohio River, which is coal country, which are Second Amendment gun rights country, which are God-fearing counttry, which are the very things that Obama had contempt for in San Fransisco. Those Democrats are going to vote against Obama.

It’s wrong to think of these coal-mining Democrats as Romney Democrats, at least at this point. It’s possible they’d be accurately described as Romney Democrats. It’s entirely possible they’ll just join the GOP.

At this point, though, it’s best calling them anti-Obama Democrats. At this point, they’re best described as people agitated that a Democrat wouldn’t fight for the blue collar Democrats that once was the backbone of the Democratic Party.

This statement spoke volumes to me:

NEWT: I was struck by something Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times, hardly a right wing reporter, said that the states he’d been in this week, his phrase was “The organic enthusiasm was for Romney.” There was a mechanical machine for Obama but there was an organic enthusiasm for Romney. My experience in politics is that organic enthusiasm,. the whole wave effect, always defeats the mechanical machine.

Notice that Newt didn’t criticize the machine. He simply said that a mob of genuinely enthusiastic voters will defeat the machine every time. I couldn’t dispute that if I wanted to.

Later, they talked about Todd Akin. Here’s what Newt said there:

Well, first of all, Callista and I have both been out campaigning with him. I’ve really liked Todd Akin. He was given a very bum rap by the national establishment. She is a very Obama-like voter in a state that voted by 71% against Obamacare and then she voted for Obamacare six weeks later. And Romney’s going to carry the state by 8-12 point so I think Akin wins by 3 points.

Frankly, I hadn’t thought about the folks along Ohio River Democrats voting early for Mitt but it makes sense. If that’s what’s happened, then that drops Ohio comfortably into Mitt’s lap. Similarly, if Mitt’s winning Missouri by double-digits and if Missourans don’t like Claire McCaskill like I think is the case, then I think Todd Akin wins.

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I’m usually not a big fan of the RCP polling averages because too many junk polls get included in their averages. That said, it’s occasionally a good indicator of the state of specific races.

One of those races is the U.S. Senate race in Florida between Republican Connie Mack and Democrat incumbent Bill Nelson. In a rare instance of a trio of recent polls from highly qualified pollsters that sampled likely voters give us a strong indication of the state of the race.

SurveyUSA puts the race at Mack 48%, Nelson 42%. Mason-Dixon puts the race at Nelson 47%, Mack 42%. Finally, Rasmussen has it at Mack with 46%, Nelson at 37%. Each of these polls were within the past 2 weeks and sampled likely voters.

At this point, I wouldn’t count this as a GOP gain but I’d certainly put it in the leans GOP gain column. If a former astronaut like Bill Nelson is having difficulty winning re-election in Florida, think what that says for President Obama’s chances of winning Florida again.

At this point, Sen. Nelson is in trouble. It wouldn’t surprise me if President Obama is, too.

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