Support Mark Warner

Everyone, I ask that you support Governor Warner's bid for the U.S. Senate.  The fundraising appeal his campaign sent out today is after the jump.

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Virginia IS on the Map for the Democrats in 2008

We've been watching Virginia turn more blue for a long time, and no doubt this is an exciting development. Indeed it seems clear that Virginia is, at least right now, the Democrats' best pick up opportunity in the Senate, that the Democrats have a chance to pick up one or two congressional seats in the state in 2008, and that the party is expected to pick up seats in the state legislature this fall. But is Virginia on the map for the Democrats in the presidential election in 2008? Can the Democrats carry the state in a presidential election for the first time since the 1964 landslide? New polling seems to indicate that Virginia might actually be quite ripe territory for the Democrats on the presidential level next fall.

A new SurveyUSA poll shows that Virginia -- a state that hasn't gone Democratic for president since 1964 -- could be a Dem pick-up in 2008, with Republicans winning only one of nine match-ups:

Clinton (D) 50%, Giuliani (R) 44%
Clinton (D) 50%, Thompson (R) 43%
Clinton (D) 53%, Romney (R) 38%
Obama (D) 46%, Giuliani (R) 45%
Thompson (R) 47%, Obama (D) 45%
Obama (D) 50%, Romney (R) 38%
Edwards (D) 48%, Giuliani (R) 43%
Edwards (D) 49%, Thompson (R) 39%
Edwards (D) 52%, Romney (R) 33%

The margin of error is ±4.5%, so few of these leads are beyond the margin. It still says something, though, that polling here could even be close in the first place.

As Eric Kleefeld over at TPM Election Central correctly notes, a number of these matchups are within the margin of error, so even though the Democrats currently appear to hold a lead, such leads may in fact be fleeting. Yet considering the fact that George W. Bush carried Virginia by 8 points in 2004, the fact that the Democrats are within the margin of error in the state in named head-to-head matchups -- let alone leading (albeit within the margin of error) -- augurs extremely well for the party's hopes of regaining the White House in 2008.

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Senate 2008 Guru's Week in the Senate Races

After the previous week's roller coaster ride of Senate retirements and campaign entry announcements, this past week may seem comparatively ho-hum, but there were quite a few events of note.  Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released its list of "The 22 Most Corrupt Members of Congress." Of the 22, four are Senators, and all four Senators are Republicans: Pete Domenici, Mitch McConnell, Lisa Murkowski, and Ted Stevens.  Further, a two-person honorable mention section includes David Vitter and Larry Craig.  Makes you proud, huh?  Also, we can add The Economist, RealClearPolitics, and CNN to the list of media outlets expecting significant Democratic successes in the 2008 Senate races.  WaPo's Cillizza's latest 10-seat Senate Line was posted, again featuring 8 Republican vulnerabilities and only 2 Democratic vulnerabilities, now with South Dakota in the ten-spot, on the brink of leaving the list of vulnerable seats.

And the events of the week from the races around the country, including lots of new polling:

Nebraska: Former Gov. Mike Johanns resigned his post as Secretary of Agriculture, ostensibly to join the crowded Republican Senate primary.  Secretary of Agriculture is now the fourth job in a row that Johanns has quit mid-way through a term to pursue another office.  And Johanns isn't just clearing out early - he's leaving very high priorities dangling.  Many people are rather angry with Johanns for leaving his office before the upcoming Farm Bill is finished.  However, it might be for the best, as Johanns' record outlines that he is no friend of farmers, having advocated for "significant cuts" to farm subsidies and having opposed a "permanent disaster fund" for farmers.

Meanwhile, in the event that former Senator Bob Kerrey enters the 2008 Senate race, the NRSC is already preparing a sleazy attack website, ostensibly criticizing Kerrey for spending the last few years running a college out of state.  It's especially absurd and hypocritical given that Johanns himself had to go "house-hunting" in Nebraska recently as he makes his return from Washington D.C.  To anybody who would argue that those situations are different because Johanns was called to serve in Washington by his President, I would respond that Johanns' call-to-service musn't be too dutiful or noble if he's willing to ditch the role in order to further his own political career, leaving the Farm Bill hanging all the while.  It's not like he couldn't finish work on the Farm Bill and then leave the Department of Agriculture.  The crowded primary that Johanns will be joining includes state Attorney General Jon Bruning and businessman Pat Flynn, with former Omaha Mayor Hal Daub also officially joining the race this past week, and businessman Tony Raimondo still considering a bid.  And if there is one thing Johanns can count on, it is that Bruning will ensure a very nasty, divisive primary.  Finally, the latest from Bob Kerrey is that he might run for Senate or he might not.  So stay tuned.

Alaska: The Associated Press broke the story that the FBI got corrupt Alaska businessman Bill Allen to tape conversations with Ted Stevens after they confronted Allen with evidence regarding Allen's bribing elected officials. The FBI wouldn't just give Stevens a public heads up to be more discrete in his phone conversations; as such, I imagine that the FBI would only let this news out as a precursor to an indictment or some other significant action.

Oregon: When Gordon Smith isn't trying to rhetorically dance around Iraq, he runs a frozen food company, Smith Frozen Foods. Well, Smith Frozen Foods was recently fined for dumping wastewater into a nearby creek, marking "at least the third time since the early 1990s that the company has been fined for polluting Pine Creek." As Loaded Orygun's Torrid Joe notes, "As spills go, this sounds neither massive nor especially toxic--but there's no such thing as a good waste dumping violation.  And being the third such violation, however minor, it suggests a less-than-dilligent attention span to protecting their nearby waterway." Smith's company's shady environmental record has been a campaign issue going back to Smith's first Senate run.  And I expect it will come up again this time around. It brings new meaning to the phrase, "Dump Gordon Smith."

Idaho: Republican Gov. Butch Otter has interviewed "about 19 people," mostly by telephone, for the Senate appointment, should scandal-embattled Larry Craig resign at the end of the month as planned.  Otter has met in person with Lt. Gov. Jim Risch and state Attorney General Lawrence Wasden.  Otter has not announced a date by which he expects to have a decision made; however, he has ruled out naming a place-holder, instead intending to name an appointee who will run for Senate next year, citing the need to build up seniority.  With Otter wanting to build up seniority, it may give a leg up to the 49-year-old Wasden over the 64-year-old Risch.  If Craig is to entertain any further notion of not resigning and rather serving out the remainder of his term, he will need a positive result from his court hearing on Wednesday to rescind his guilty plea.  Meanwhile, Craig made his return to the Senate this past week for the first time since his scandal broke.  Headlines included: "GOP Supporters Are Hard to Find on Craig's List" and "Craig shunned on return to Senate." Quite a stark contrast from the "thunderous applause" David Vitter received when he made his return to the Senate Republican cloakroom following his scandal.  Why the different reactions, do you think?

Maine: The Bangor Daily News finally highlighted the fact that Susan Collins is breaking her self-imposed two-term-limit pledge (a pledge she made during her first run in 1996 and reiterated in her re-election run in 2002), but aggrivatingly allowed Collins' broken promise to Maine voters to be framed as a campaign attack from Democrats rather than an incontrovertible fact.  (All the while, the Bangor Daily News is establishing a troubling double-standard regarding reports on Collins' campaign versus Tom Allen's campaign.)  What's doubly frustrating is that, while Susan Collins is accused of using taxpayer-funded Senate resources and personnel for her political campaign purposes, she still has her Senate office spokeswoman, Jen Burita, responding to these political campaign questions rather than, crazy as it sounds, campaign staff not on her Senate payroll.

In other news, Collins is pretty angry with Olympia Snowe over the vote to reinstate habeas corpus.  You see, Collins happily voted against the rule of law and due process.  However, Snowe voted differently, opting to reinstate habeas corpus, thereby not giving Collins much needed political cover.  Collins is mad that she didn't get a heads up (as though she might have voted differently had she known how Snowe would vote).  Once again, Susan Collins demonstrates that she is the antithesis of leadership and political courage.  Finally, we get a reminder that, back in March, Susan Collins demanded "significant results" in Iraq by Fall.  Well, Fall is now here; but, while we see Tom Allen and Olympia Snowe working to bring the troops home safely, Susan Collins continues to back George W. Bush's stay-the-course policy.

New Mexico: Reports have it that the Senate Ethics Committee has "stepped up its probe of Pete Domenici" noting that "the six-month preliminary investigation into Domenici has turned up enough evidence to open a formal, public investigation into the New Mexico senator, having determined that Domenici acted inappropriately and that he may have violated Senate Ethics rules" when he called former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias to inquire about the status of a public corruption probe.

Virginia: The latest Survey USA poll sees Mark Warner beating all opponents by landslide margins: topping Jim Gilmore 60-32, besting Tom Davis 62-27, and even beating George Macaca Allen in a hypothetical match-up 56-37.  We just have to keep reminding ourselves to take nothing for granted.

North Carolina: Public Policy Polling has released its latest polling data (FYI: in PDF format).  In a match-up with no additional information, Elizabeth Dole beats State Representative Grier Martin 45-30 (Dole still can't get to 50% in any poll), but when just a brief, four-sentence description of Martin is given, Martin beats Dole 47-40, illustrating Martin's high potential.  Further, the PPP results found that Dole's approve-disapprove stands at a highly vulnerable 45-40 and that former UNC basketball coach Dean Smith even matches up well against Dole, starting out down only 41-35.

Kentucky: The Lexington Herald-Leader released new poll numbers on Mitch McConnell, including a sub-50% approve-disapprove of 47-44 and a stark 38-55 approve-disapprove regarding McConnell's position on Iraq. Also found is a gaping George W. Bush approve-disapprove of 37-61, and only 32% of Kentuckians saying the war was worth it compared with 57% who feel Bush's Iraq War "wasn't worth the loss of life and expense." So, when Mitch McConnell goes on national television and falsely claims that his constituents "overwhelmingly" support Bush's Iraq War, you know he's lying.  You'll also know he's lying when he offers Iraqis their "last chance" to "save their country." On Iraq, McConnell will ultimately do precisely what George W. Bush wants him to do.

Texas: A Rasmussen Reports poll offers baseline numbers, seeing John Cornyn leading State Representative and Lieutenant Colonel Rick Noriega 53-30 and leading attorney Mikal Watts 52-28.  Not a bad starting point with Cornyn just a bit over 50% and with two guys that a vast majority of Texans probably have never heard of before at about 30%.

Colorado: Backwards Bob Schaffer's polling has him only two points behind Mark Udall in a three-way race with a Green Party candidate getting 7%.  Given that third party candidates in the 2004 CO-Sen race, the 2004 Presidential race in Colorado, and the 2006 CO-Gov race all never topped 1%, it gives the impression that Schaffer's poll could be well off-the-mark and should be taken with a mammoth grain of salt, even for partisan polling.

New Hampshire: StopSununu.com has officially launched, loaded with background information on Sprintin' John Sununu on issues from Iraq to health care and much, much more.  Visit regularly.  Also, Katrina Swett bowed out of the Senate race, joining Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand in endorsing popular former Governor Jeanne Shaheen.  Further, a pair of polls from Rasmussen and ARG were released this week showing Shaheen again beating Sununu, though by more realistic margins than the drubbings earlier polls had Shaheen giving Sununu.  With Shaheen having just formally entered the race, these numbers could be considered baselines.

Georgia: An Insider Advantage poll put Spineless Saxby Chambliss' approve-disapprove at 39-29, while a Rasmussen Reports poll put it at 58-30, though even the Rasmussen poll had one Democratic challenger holding Chambliss to under 50 points.

For daily news and updates on the U.S. Senate races around the country in 2008, check out Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races.

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VA-Sen: Mark Warner Leads Top Republicans By Wide Margins

SurveyUSA has some new numbers:

A poll commissioned by WJLA-TV found former Virginia Governor Mark Warner would easily defeat any likely Republican opponent if the election to replace retiring Senator John Warner (R-VA) were held now. The poll, conducted by SurveyUSA, found Mark Warner would defeat northern Virginia Congressman Tom Davis by 35 points, former Governor Jim Gilmore by 28 points, and former Senator George Allen by 19 points. The poll interviewed 900 Virginia adults between September 14 and September 16 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

[...]

Of the 783 registered voters polled, Mark Warner was the most favored of the four. Fifty percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of the former Governor, compared with 40 percent for Allen, 19 percent for Gilmore, and 13 percent for Davis. Davis is the only candidate to not have run for statewide office. Forty-six percent of respondents reported they were unfamiliar with Davis.

The favorable polling questions have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percent.

The actual numbers from the poll will be released today, but the sparse data released here seems to generally be in line with the polling on the race released last week by Rasmussen Reports, though Warner's lead is a bit higher in the SurveyUSA poll (35 points over Davis, 28 points over Gilmore) than it is in the Rasmussen poll (27 points over Davis, 20 points over Gilmore).

I'm at least somewhat surprised that Warner seemingly does so well against George Allen, whose image in the Commonwealth may be more tarnished than many expect. Perhaps Allen is not as much of a shoo-in for the 2009 gubernatorial election as he may want us to believe. But these numbers also speak to Warner's continuing popularity in Virginia and his immense potential strength in just about any statewide contest.

Update [2007-9-17 14:55:33 by Jonathan Singer]:Markos has the full set of numbers.

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Senate 2008 Guru's Week in the Senate Races

This past week in the Senate races was a good week for Democrats and a bad week for Republicans.  Charlie Cook, Stu Rothenberg, Dick Morris, Bob Novak, the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Politico all said so.  Even conservative blog Redstate has already completely written off two Senate races.  That may be why Republicans are working as hard as they are to lower expectations for the 2008 Senate races.

This past week wasn't just good for Democrats and bad for Republicans, though. It was the most pivotal week yet in the 2008 election cycle as far as Senate races are concerned.  Why?  You already know why.  Three reasons: 1) Chuck Hagel formally announced his retirement, putting Nebraska very much in play; 2) popular former Governor Mark Warner entered Virginia's Senate race, taking Virginia out of play by many pundits' measures; and, 3) popular former Governor Jeanne Shaheen entered New Hampshire's Senate race, taking New Hampshire out of play by some measures.  The DSCC unveiled more accomplished recruiting just this past week than the NRSC has demonstrated so far this entire cycle.

And it's not just the words of pundits that place Virginia and New Hampshire into many "Likely Democratic Pick-Up" columns.  Poll numbers more than back up those claims.  In Virginia, a September Rasmussen Reports poll has Mark Warner beating former Gov. Jim Gilmore 54-34 and beating Rep. Tom Davis 57-30.  Similarly, a July University of New Hampshire poll has Jeanne Shaheen beating John Sununu 54-38, and a July Concord Monitor poll has Shaheen beating Sununu 56-34.  Suffice it to say, these are not small margins of victory.  All we're waiting on now is polling out of Nebraska matching up former Senator Bob Kerrey and former Gov. Mike Johanns.

While the NRSC is left licking its wounds, there was much afoot in the Senate races this week:

Nebraska: Chuck Hagel's retirement led CQPolitics to change its Nebraska Senate rating from "Safe Republican" to "Leans Republican" - expect another adjustment if/when former Senator Bob Kerrey or Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey enters the race.  Meanwhile, Republican former Omaha Mayor Hal Daub is expected to join the race tomorrow.  As he is criticized for being "too aggressive and divisive," I wholeheartedly welcome him to the GOP primary.  Also, current Gov. Dave Heineman "fully expects" former Gov. Mike Johanns to enter the race.  I expect it, too; I mean, the NE-GOP gushes over Johanns and just named their state headquarters after him!  To stave off the notion that Johanns would steamroll him in a primary, state Attorney General Jon Bruning released poll numbers showing him running only nine points behind Johanns in a hypothetical primary.

Virginia: Mark Warner's entry led CQPolitics to change its Virginia Senate rating from "No Clear Favorite" to "Leans Democratic." Some in the VA-GOP consider Davis not conservative enough and Gilmore unelectable, leading to a search for another Republican to face Mark Warner.  Some hope that GOP Rep. Eric Cantor will consider a bid.  However, they may wind up with conservative pundit Pat Buchanan.

New Hampshire: With Jeanne Shaheen's entry, one of the only unknowns was what the rest of the Democratic field would do.  Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand kept his pledge and withdrew from the race, immediately endorsing Shaheen.  Had Shaheen not entered the race, I do believe that Marchand would have gone on to win the primary and beat Sununu, so I hope he maintains his Senatorial aspirations, what with Republican Judd Gregg up for re-election in 2010.  Jay Buckey has made it clear that he will remain in the primary.  "Liebercrat" Katrina Swett's plans remain a question mark.

Minnesota: Speaking of poll numbers, back in March, Rasmussen Reports found that Norm Coleman led then-recently announced Senate candidate Al Franken by 10 points, 46-36.  Well, the latest Rasmussen numbers see the lead cut in half, to 46-41, with Coleman leading Mike Ciresi by a similar 46-42.  What's also very notable is how Franken's approval has shot up. In March, he stood at 39-46. Now, he's at 46-47. Clearly, he has to get those disapprovals down. But undecideds on Franken are obviously finding him favorable for his approval to go from 39 to 46.  A good sign indeed.  Meanwhile, it doesn't help Norm Coleman's case to Minnesota voters that he would be content staying in Iraq until 2010 before half of the troops, much less all of them, are brought home.

Alaska: Two more shoes dropped this week in the ongoing Ted Stevens corruption investigations.  First, in the corruption trial of former Alaska Speaker Peter Kott, Stevens was named in a recording of two oil contracters as a "powerful ally" who could build support for a "dirty deal" to keep Alaska oil taxes low.  Then, ex-VECO CEO Bill Allen admitted in court that he had his employees "work several months" on Stevens' home renovations and that the work was paid for out of a $400,000 pool used specifically to bribe legislators.  Stevens, of course, had no comment in his own defense.  I can't fathom how Stevens makes it to Christmas without being indicted for something.

Maine: Speaking of illicit activities, Susan Collins is finally taking heat in the Maine media for inappropriately using taxpayer-funded Senate resources for political purposes.  We know that Collins' Senate staff has used their Senate computers to update Collins' Wikipedia profile to appear more politically palatable. And we know that Collins' taxpayer-funded Senate Chief of Staff has been quarterbacking her political battles with Maine Democrats. It seems pretty clear that Senate resources are being used by the Collins camp for political purposes. Sounds like we need a Senate Ethics investigation to formally determine if Collins is breaking the rules.

Colorado: Tricky Dick Wadhams demonstrates again how terrible he is at handling a political crisis.  Wadhams was a top adviser of George Allen's during the notorious "Macaca" incident; we all know how well they handled that.  Then, as head of the CO-GOP and de facto adviser to Backwards Bob Schaffer's Senate campaign, his early ridiculous reaction to Schaffer's ethics scandal helped propel the story in the local media rather than silence it.  And now, Wadhams is getting very up-in-arms over the entry into the CO-GOP Senate primary of a relatively unknown county commissioner.  The commissioner, Wayne Wolf, wants to run a positive, issue-focused campaign.  Let's see how Wadhams and Schaffer unnecessarily flip out and go negative.

Oregon: John Frohnmayer, a Bush 41 appointee and brother of Republican former state AG Dave Frohnmayer, has formally announced his entry into the 2008 Senate race as an independent.  While his resume may suggest that he'd take more votes from Republicans, early numbers say he acts more as a spoiler to Democrats.

Kansas: With Democratic six-term former Congressman Jim Slattery considering a challenge to the potentially vulnerable Republican Bush-rubber-stamp Pat Roberts, I offered a profile of Slattery's background to acquaint the netroots with him.  Take a look.

Tennessee: Speaking of states where the competitivity map can be expanded, Democratic businessman and gubernatorial son Mike McWherter is expected to enter the 2008 Senate race against Lamar! in the next couple weeks.  His father was a very popular Governor; if the McWherter name still has some juice while Mike establishes himself in his own right, we could see a race here.

Rhode Island: Former Senator Lincoln Chafee is no longer a Republican.  Discuss.

North Carolina: Need another reason why Elizabeth Dole will lose in 2008?  Her internal polling has her approve-disapprove at a delusional 64-23.  Last November, Survey USA put her approve-disapprove at 52-40.  And, last month, Public Policy Polling put her approve-disapprove at a similar 48-41.  If Dole wants to embarrass herself by publicizing the delusion that her approve-disapprove is a laughable 64-23, I say "Be my guest, Liddy."

Louisiana: One of David (I quite honestly typed "John" and had to delete it - Freudian mis-type, I guess) Vitter's prostitutes passed a lie detector test this week.  It turns out that she was seeing Vitter two or three times a week for four months, and that records show that she wasn't even the same prostitute as the one(s) Vitter saw via the DC Madam.  The prostitute also shared some choice nuggests about Vitter, including that Vitter and his wife were trying to conceive another child while he was cheating on his wife with the prostitute.  And here are your Republican family values.  At the very least, Vitter still has yet to be fully honest with his constituents about the whole affair and his chronic patronage of prostitutes. Is it too much to ask that the Louisiana press maybe follow up with Vitter about it?

South Carolina: Larry Craig's scandal has renewed interest among some in the South Carolina media regarding whether or not Lindsey Graham is gay.  Is it fair game for the media to inquire about a public official's private life?  I wondered about this earlier this week and figured that if the legislator is in favor of privacy (i.e. supports of legislation that prohibits the government or a commanding officer or a prospective boss from making judgements based on sexual orientation), then it is not fair game.  However, if the legislator opposes privacy (i.e. supports allowing discrimination based on sexual orientation - as Lindsey Graham has), then it would be hypocritical for the public official to proclaim his own private life off limits, since he is happy to legislate others' private lives.  I conclude that I don't care that if Lindsey Graham is gay.  Nobody should.  I do, however, care that he is may be a hypocrite.  And I very much care that he is legislating discrimination.

Idaho: Speaking of Larry Craig (as we should whenever talking about David Vitter, Lindsey Graham, or most any other Senate Republican), he will have his day in court regarding the rescinding of his guilty plea.  His court date is September 26 at 1:30pm.  He needs a favorable outcome here if he is to retain any hope of not resigning.  Meanwhile, Gov. Butch Otter has declared that if an appointment is needed, he will not appoint a placeholder; rather, he will appoint someone who intends to run for a full term next year.

For daily news and updates on the U.S. Senate races around the country in 2008, check out Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races.

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