Sunday November 3 2002
THE WEATHER: With so many races so close and turnout absolutely vital, the weather on Tuesday could very well play a role in which candidates emerge victorious. Here is a look at the forecast for the major metros this coming Tuesday in states with key Senate races:

Little Rock, AR: cloudy, high 58 degrees, 80% chance of rain
Denver, CO: mostly sunny, high 46 degrees, 0% chane of rain
Atlanta, GA: cloudy, high 59 degrees, 70% chance of light rain in pm
Des Moines, IA: cloudy, high 45 degrees, 20% chance of rain
Minneapolis, MN: cloudy, high 42 degrees, 20% chance of rain
St. Louis, MO: cloudy, high 49 degrees, 40% chance of showers
Manchester, NH: partly cloudy, high 47 degrees, 10% chance of rain
Newark, NJ: partly cloudy, high 52 degrees, 0% chance of rain
Charlotte, NC: cloudy, high 54 degrees, 60% chance of rain
Columbia, SC: cloudy, high 60 degrees, 40% chance of pm showers
Sioux Falls, SD: partly cloudy, high 41 degrees, 0% chance of rain
Dallas, TX: cloudy, high 57 degrees, 60% chance of rain
Houston, TX: cloudy, high 63 degrees, 80% chance of rain
(Source: as of 11:36 pm on 11/3/02)

Looking through the list, the worst news might be for Democrats in Texas, where the possibility of rain may hamper the big GOTV effort Ron Kirk needs to upset John Cornyn. Rain in Little Rock, Atlanta, and Missouri may also play a factor. -TB 11:49pm

SENATE PREDICTIONS: Okay, here are our current predictions on the Senate as of tonight. We've spent all day loading in the latest polls from Zogby, CNN/USA Today/Gallup and the rest. Based on the latest info we're are calling for a 2 seat GOP pick up and Republican control of the Senate. We see GOP wins in Colorado (we don't buy Zogby's nine point lead for Strickland), Missouri, Minnesota (larger than expected margin for Coleman), South Dakota and our "upset special" in Georgia. We have Dems winning in Arkansas and New Hampshire. Finally, we have the parties holding their respective seats in Iowa, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas. With so many races so close, 36 hours is still plenty of time for things to change. It wouldn't take much to switch Colorado and Georgia back to the Democrats, and Sununu still has a chance in New Hampshire. Stay tuned. -TB 10:12pm

SPINNING THE RALLY: Want an indication as to whether the Wellstone rally has Democrats concerned over a significant backlash in Minnesota - and possibly beyond? How about Terry McAuliffe on national television this morning saying the tone of the event was "absolutely" inappropriate. McAuliffe went on to try and distance his party's involvement in the rally and effectively blame the Wellstone family for the outcome. Chris Dodd just said basically the same thing on CNN. It's a nice try at spin control, but I think that horse has already left the barn. The quesiton is whether it will be enough. There is a gathering body of evidence suggesting it will. -TB 1:12 pm

PUNDIT MANIA : The predictions are flowing like water these days. Here's a look at Senate predictions from the heavyweight panel on Meet the Press this morning:

Dem +1
No Change
No Change
No Change

The only disagreement was in Georgia, where Lisa Myers of all people predicted a Chambliss pick-up and in South Dakota where both Brownstein and Cook gave the nod to Thune. Because they were only covering the latest Zogby polls the New Hampshire race was not mentioned.

A couple of other interesting notes from the discussion. Lisa Myers believes African-American turnout won't be there for Bowles in North Carolina and probably won't get the job done for Townsend in the Maryland Gubernatorial race either. But Charlie Cook looked like he thought it could very well make the difference for Ron Kirk in Texas.

Stay tuned, our predictions will be out later today or first thing tomorrow. -TB 12:12 pm

Friday, November 1 2002
IS IT FRAUD OR ISN'T IT?: A story in the Argus Leader yesterday which I wanted to mention, but ran out of time, was titled "Barnett: No illegal ballots found."It stated the following:

Throughout the controversy, Barnett has smothered discussion of widespread voting irregularities, saying the investigation was focused on one woman, Becky Red Earth-Villeda of Flandreau who was working as independent contractor under a Democratic Party voter drive.

On Wednesday, the attorney general said the woman’s actions, while likely criminal, have not led to fraudulent voting.

“So far I have not found that she had any ballots that have been illegally voted,” he said in an interview.

Case closed, right? Josh Marshall thinks so and rips Republicans for sending out mailers with the headline "Tim Johnson and the Democrats are Hiding the Truth about Voter Fraud."

But hold on. We know this woman was a DNC contractor, that she committed criminal acts with regard to at least 15 absentee ballots so far, and today we learn that she was involved with between 500-1000 absentee ballot applications, some which were found burned. We also know that Democrats have been doing an aggressive registration drive among Native-Americans that has resulted in unprecedented numbers of new Democrats being placed on the rolls in South Dakota. This KELO-TV story suggests that Ms. Red Earth Villeda may have also been involved in manipulating those registrations.

So it looks like the fraud issue is far from being resolved in South Dakota. Ms. Red Earth Villeda and Mr. Marshall claim this is all some sort of elaborate Republican conspiracy designed to gin up GOP votes. Republicans are connecting the dots and believing all of the reports cited above lead to the conclusion that Democrats are engaged in a systematic effort to influence the election results through fraud. Who do you believe? - TB 1:17 pm

RACE AND THE ELECTION: John Judis leads off his latest article for the New Republic with the headline "Can the GOP convince blacks not to vote?" He uses the classic liberal debate tactic of heads I win, tails you lose. In his mind Republican efforts to appeal to black voters is all part of a cynical game to keep blacks from voting for Democrats, and of course if Republicans didn't make any effort to get black votes he would accuse them of ignoring the African-American community. Nice argument.

Obviously the issue of race in this country is extremely complicated. To grossly simplify: Republicans exploited, particularly in the South, very real racism and prejudice during the 1960's and 1970's to their political benefit. This rightly alienated black voters and created the foundation for the massive political support that Democrats currently receive from blacks today. But the truth is the "overt political racism" that Judis and Democrats constantly refer to began to dramatically recede during the 1980's. By 1992, it was the Democrats who began to become the majority party that exploited race for political gain. In 2000, the political exploitation of race reached new lows when the NAACP ran that despicable ad essentially showing George W. Bush dragging a black man to death tied to a back of a Confederate pickup truck. In the last week of the campaign Al Gore repeatedly lied to blacks in Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida that Republicans were burning down black churches and lynching black men. Then we had the spectacle of Florida and all the lies that there was an orchestrated campaign to keep blacks from voting. All for what? To make the issue of a race in our country better, to improve race relations? No, they did it and still do it today, for one reason only, to win, to stay in power.

The bottom line for the race hustlers and the "victim advocates" in the Democratic Party is that America in 2002 is not America in 1962. Florida in 2000 was not Selma in 1965. Which gets me back to the Judis piece in the New Republic, the sanctimonious preaching from him and other Democrats that "when it comes to race, the GOP hasn't changed nearly as much as it would have you believe," ( i.e. Republicans still hate black people), is sickening. The dirty little truth in 2002 is the Democratic Party is the party of racial divisiveness in America today. In state after state, the only way the Democrats can compete is to lie and radicalize the black community into going out and voting 90% against Republicans. It almost worked for Gore. It did work for them in Senate races in Missouri and Michigan in 2000. It may work for them in Maryland this year and in other races. But it won't work forever. JM 11:03 am

Thursday, October 31 2002
Mort Kondracke just said on FOX News that the tracking polls in Minnesota taken after the Wellstone "rally" show the race even. Let's see what the next couple of polls show. Supposedly, there will be a debate on Monday night, election eve, the race may well come down to that debate. JM 6:51 pm

"MISSION ACCOMPLISHED": The gents over at PowerLine continue to plumb the depths (pun intended) of the Wellstone rally. They've found a great article reporting that Tuesday's tasteless hyper-partisan event did, in fact, go exactly as planned. Despite the public pronouncements of various Dem spinmeisters over the last two days, this was absolutely not a case of people getting "carried away in the emotion of the moment." But we sort of knew that all along, didn't we? -TB 4:20 pm

LIGHTEN UP: Let's start off the day with some Minnesota humor, shall we? Try this and this for starters.

NOT SO FUNNY: Okay, enough fun. It looks like Mike Huckabee might be going down. A reader forwarded this investigative expose just published in the Arkansas Times which details Huckabee's personal involvement in winning the parole of a rapist who moved to Missouri and later raped and killed a woman. The Arkansas media have picked up the story (here and here) and the Fisher campaign is all over it (actually they've been on this story for a while.). If this weren't bad enough, a recent poll shows Huckabee's approval rating cratering 20 points over the last 12 months to a current low of 49.7%.

NOT SO FUNNY PART II: A couple of stories about political correctness that will leave you shaking your head: Here and here (via Instapundit).

THE PHANTOM SOCIALIST: All you need to know about Walter Mondale can be summed up by these two lines from his acceptance speech yesterday:

"I will be Paul Wellstone's voice for decency and hope and better lives."

"I will fight for Americans who know it's not fair when a tax bill costs a trillion dollars and they give 40 percent of it to the richest 1 percent."

Hey Walter, let's work on the phraseology. What you call a "tax bill" is known in layman's terms as a tax cut. For future reference this can also be referred to as "giving the people back their own hard-earned money." It might also be important to note that the "richest 1 percent" you refer to actually bears 37.42% of the tax burden in this country - and this comparison isn't even apples-to-apples since Walter's figure lumps together a number of other figures like the estate tax, for example. No wonder the guy doesn't want to debate. - TB 11:15am

Wednesday, October 30 2002
"TV networks and radio stations have been bombarded with angry calls. The Democrats greatly overplayed their hand and violated the tradition of "Minnesota nice." The only two Democrats who seemed to instinctively realize how overboard they had gone were Gore and Daschle. It is also being talked about around the water coolers at businesses and schools, and people across the ideological spectrum did not like it. In all, it gives Norm Coleman a fresh start.

State GOP chair reported late last night that Coleman brought in over $150,000 last night alone from angry moderates and conservatives across the country. I was also informed that the phones continue to "ring off the hook" at Coleman headquarters" This from a reader of ours in Minnesota and we have gotten many more emails exactly like this one. With only five full days between now and the election Mondale may not be able to recover from this fiasco. The sympathy vote for Wellstone may have been completely incinerated in 3 1/2 hours last night. JM 5:14 pm

MORE MINNESOTA: "I feel used. I feel violated and duped over the fact that that turned into nothing more than a political rally. Like in the case of Senator Lott flying all the way up here and being booed when he is supposed to be going to a memorial service. I think the Democrats should hang their head in shame." Independent Governor Jesse Ventura

"What a complete, total, absolute sham. The DFL clearly intends to exploit Wellstone's memory totally, completely and shamelessly for political gain. To them, Wellstone's death, apparently, was just another campaign event." Fmr. Rep. Vin Weber (R)

Last night has turned into a disaster for the Democrats. Powerline has delved deeper into the Star Tribune's poll showing Mondale up 8 and has found out that the poll sampled 51% DFL/Democratic supporters and only 36% Republican or GOP leaning supporters, a total of 11% more Democrats than their previous Wellstone/Coleman poll.   JM 4:49 pm

My initial feeling that Coleman was going to be swamped by the sympathy vote for Wellstone is beginning to fade, and quickly. While it hasn't gotten huge play in the national media, the "memorial service" for the late Senator Wellstone and the other victims was so over the top, and distasteful, it has the real potential to backlash hard on the Democrats. Our friends at Powerline have been all over this story and they report that the "rally" is getting a lot of coverage in Minnesota.

"There is a lot of buzz this morning about the fact that television cameras showed Jesse Ventura and his wife, Terry, getting up and walking out on the Democrats' pep-fest at Williams Arena last night. I heard Ventura being interviewed on the radio this morning. He said that he found the Democrats' misuse for partisan ends not only of Wellstone's death, but of the families of the other victims of the crash, to be deeply offensive. He said that his wife was so shocked and offended by the Democrats' conduct that she was brought to tears, prompting their walkout."

When NPR and William Saletan at Slate also characterize the event as more a political pep rally rather than a memorial service it is clear it isn't just Republicans who think the Democrats went too far. Not to mention I don't take the recent poll from the Star Tribune showing Mondale up 8 as terrible news for Coleman. That poll of 47%-39% may very well be the high water mark for Mondale from here on out. It's reasonable to assume that the sympathy factor is going to be at its peak immediately following the tragedy. Furthermore a poll done by the NRSC, the same time as the Star's poll, had Mondale up only two points, with the Star Tribune's polls long time poll bias for Dems that puts Mondale up 5 points averaging the two polls. The clear politicization of Wellstone's death by the Democrats last night is not going to play well among the average Minnesotan and it will definitely serve to energize Coleman's base. Expect that five point gap to close.

The bottom line is I am close to doing a complete 180 on this race. I think the offensive nature of the "memorial service" last night has put this seat right back into play. And the trump card in Coleman's hand are all those absentee ballots that can not legally be counted for Mondale. This can very easily be a potential 2%-5% boost for Coleman and if he can get this race close in the polls, which I suspect now he will, that absentee difference will be enough to give him the win. The Dems lawsuit to get those Wellstone votes counted for Mondale shows just how seriously the Democrats think those absentee ballots might be.

If Coleman can run a positive, mistake-free, proactive campaign these next few days (and there's no reason to think he can't) these polls will close and this will be a nail-biter. With the absentee ballot edge I think Coleman now will win. But, hey, this is a very fluid situation and Coleman's got to close the poll numbers. I have to give credit to Hugh Hewitt and Ramesh Ponnuru who dismissed the conventional wisdom, including my own, that Coleman couldn't win. JM 1:02 pm       Comments

THE MORNING LINE: I've been bullish for a while on Republican chances to take back the Senate by a seat this November. But things are starting to look worse. With people finally starting to focus on the election, they've been barraged with front page stories of bad news: violent crime is on it's way up for the first time in ten years, while consumer confidence has hit a nine year low. Bush's approval ratings have also taken a hit.

Looking around at the key Senate races, Democrats are on the move in five states (New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas) while Republicans are showing progress in only three (Arkansas, Colorado, and Georgia). In the other three races, South Dakota is too close to call, Minnesota has swung - at least momentarily - toward the Democrats, and we have yet to see a poll to indicate what effect the Wellstone tragedy is having in Missouri, where Talent seemed to be opening up a bit of a lead.

Things change quickly and there is still a lot of campaign left. Andrew Sullivan makes a good point this morning that thanks in large part to French obstinacy at the UN, Bush will be making a decision on Iraq in the next few days that will thrust the War on Terror back onto the front pages right before voting time. Furthermore, revelations in the DC sniper case (homeless people with GPS devices and laptops?), the gunning down of a US diplomat in Jordan, and the agonizing conclusion of the Russian hostage crisis continue to make the issue of terrorism ring loudly in people's minds. Still, if Democrats can continue the momentum they apparently now possess, Republicans could be a very disappointed bunch on November 6. - TB 10:53 am

FLORIDA: A couple interesting stories out of Florida. First, it seems they've still got problems with felons on the voter rolls in Duval County. You remember, of course, efforts to have felons "scrubbed" from the rolls in 2000 which , though mandated by Florida law, Democrats used as yet another example of Republican "discrimination" and "disenfranchisement." It seems things haven't changed:

Six of the felons' registrations were part of a local NAACP drive this month that produced 324 registration and address change requests from the county jail, said elections officials, who provided the forms. Each person also requested absentee ballots.

The other five felons were previously registered and remained on the voter rolls despite the elections office being notified of their convictions by the Clerk of Courts.

How, you ask, is this still a problem? The answer comes in the form of another article out today in the Palm Beach Post. Now, before I get a torrent of email calling me a racist, let me say I've highlighted these two articles to get back to a point I made a couple of days ago about the differences between the two parties when it comes to campaigning and elections. The evidence from this election cycle alone - in New Jersey, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, etc - demonstrates that Democrats are more willing to push, bend, litigate, and in some instances break, the laws and rules that govern our electoral process. This is not hyperbole, it is fact. Many readers have pointed out that Republicans are either consciously or unconsciously restrained from similar behavior by deep-seated scars from Watergate. I'm only partly convinced by this argument. There is no question that both sides view politics as war, but evidence continues to mount that only one side believes the "ends justify the means." - TB 9:48 am

Tuesday, October 29 2002
FUNERAL OR RALLY?: Why on earth would the Wellstone family not want Vice-President Cheney to attend the Senator's funeral? Here's the report:

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said that it's not protocol for presidents to attend the funerals of senators but that Vice President Dick Cheney had planned to attend. "The [Wellstone] family was appreciative," Stanzel said. But the plan was changed after conversations with the family, he said.

Asked if that meant the Wellstone family did not want Cheney to come, he said that was correct.

There is a rumor floating around that the Wellstone's didn't like "the tone" of Cheney's recent campaigning. If the quote above is accurate, however, the private snub of Cheney leads me to a very different conclusion: the Democrat party sees the Wellstone funeral as a huge, last-chance opportunity to rally party faithful around the nation for November 5. Yes, the article mentions that Trent Lott is one of the approximately 50 Senators that will be in attendance. But with former President Clinton, Vice President Gore, Majority Leader Daschle and a host of others leading Democrats prominently on display, having Cheney around might just spoil the rally - I mean funeral. - TB 8:41 am

CLUELESS AL : Gore? No, Sharpton. Check out this write up on his visit yesterday to SW Tennessee Community College:

"You have more reason to vote today than you ever did before," said Sharpton, adding that the country is in a war against terrorism "and we don't know who we're fighting." He said the President is contemplating going into Iraq "and we don't know why."

Al spared the crowd from listing the 5,467 other things he doesn't know about, but he did manage to squeeze in this whopper: "I agree that if bin Laden is responsible for what happened he ought to be brought to justice." (My emphasis) This is as funny as any stand-up comedy material in the country - until you get to the end of the article where audience members are quoted as calling his message "outstanding" and "right on target." Thank God there is absolutely no chance of this guy ever being President.

DAVISCANDAL: I've decided to save time by combining the words "Davis" and "scandal" since every mention of the California Governor's name is always accompanied by some revelation of unethical behavior. The latest daviscandal involves a decade-old charge of bribery, one I'm sure will be flicked away with the wave of a hand. I'm no huge fan of Simon, but you gotta wonder when Democrats and Independents in California are going to get tired of holding their noses and vote for somebody - anybody - other than Gray. It's hard to believe that just a couple of years ago Daviscandal was considered a Presidential front-runner. Now he's a national joke that would be at best 50/50 to carry his home state in a Presidential election - unless he was running against Simon, of course. Oh, and by the way, he's up nine in a new LA Times poll out today. - TB 7:08 am

Monday, October 28 2002
POLITICIZING DEATH: Democrats are saying it's "inappropriate" to take a critical look at Walter Mondale's record until after they've "had a chance to grieve and lay the dead to rest." Could someone from the DNC explain why, after Mondale has been identified as the Democrats' desired replacement for Wellstone, it is considered out of bounds to examine his record as a public servant? And isn't this a textbook definition of using Wellstone's death to suppress legitimate political debate in the hopes it will work to their advantage in the election that is only nine days away?

LEFTY HUMOR : I'm not sure which is funnier, this or this.
- TB 2:20 pm

THE SYMPATHY EQUALIZER?: I know this is macabre, but it's not unimportant. Jim Talent's father died early yesterday. Obviously, the length to which it is reported in the local media is a crucial factor, but it could generate some sympathy for Talent that may combat any revitalization of the sympathy vote for Carnahan over Wellstone's death. But take a look at Carnahan's statement in response to the news:

"He has my heartfelt sympathies," she said. "I know what families go through at times like these."

Very shrewd. - TB 10:47 am

AT THE RACES: There are numerous articles out today assessing the mid-term elections. Most seem favorable for Republicans. Looks like Mondale is in, and will probably win, in Minnesota. The vote fraud issue continues to loom in SD. And over in Missouri, reverberations from the Wellstone crash and a finger-wagging debate have people rethinking a race that looked like it was breaking for Talent. Check back for more later - we're updating our poll pages around the clock.

NEWT & JAMES: If you missed the exchange yesterday, here is the transcript. It was a fascinating discussion, one which I thought Newt got the better of. After being pressed repeatedly by Newt to explain why Daschle couldn't "deliver" in the Senate, Carville's argument on why people should vote for Democrats this year broke down to, "a little obstructionism is a good thing." Now, I'm sure that liberals who watched the show felt Carville won the argument. But what did Independents and undecideds make of the exchange? Which line of argument was more convincing? One more thing, did you notice Carville's repeated references to "going slow on Iraq?" Somebody's been drinking the TNR kool-aid.

JORDAN: US diplomat gunned down in Jordan. I went to the Jordan Times' web site for more info but all I found was this.

HERBERT: I was going to comment on Bob Herbert's column today but after reading it I found myself without much to say. The piece is a 760-word lament about cultural violence - one of the standard, predictable kind that invariably pop up after horrible crimes like Columbine and the DC Sniper case. Unfortunately, the article is essentially devoid of any ideas on how to deal with the problem, though after reading it you get the feeling Bob wants to do away with a good portion of the First Amendment and all of the Second. - TB 7:14 am

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