November 09, 2005

Bush's "Disaster"

The MSM is trying to spin yesterday's election as a disaster for President Bush. But a simple exercise of just checking the election results from four years ago shows this to be partisan spin.

2001 Virginia: Warner (D) 52%, Earley (R) 47%
2005 Virginia: Kaine (D) 52%, Kilgore (R) 46%

2001 New Jersey: McGreevey (D) 56%, Schundler (R) 42%
2005 New Jersey: Corzine (D) 53%, Forrester (R) 44%

2001 New York City: Bloomberg (R) 50%, Green (D) 47%
2005 New York City: Bloomberg (R) 59%, Ferrer (D) 39%

The Democratic sweep of New Jersey and Virginia foreshadowed absolutely nothing for 2002. So the idea that the election results are proof of Democratic strength or Republican weakness is partisan blather, parroted by a sympathetic media.

Now none of this is to suggest that President Bush and the GOP don't have some serious problems, they do. If there is a difference between 2001 and 2005, it can be summed up in President Bush's job approval. On Election Day 2001 Bush's job approval in the RCP Average stood at 85.2%, today it is hovering at an all time low of 38.5%. Below 40% is a problem.

The fact that the President has not received any bounce from the Miers withdraw and subsequent Alito nomination (at least yet) is an indication that the relentless Democrat pounding that "Bush lied," has taken its toll. Perhaps the the Libby indictment, as it has been filtered down to average Jane and Joe American, has provided just enough credibility to lend credence to the Democratic attacks the public has heard for months.

I suspect the White House does have a plan to counterattack, and maybe they are just waiting to make sure the coast is clear as far as Rove is concerned before they go on the full scale offensive. But they better get their act together soon. Public opinion is starting to calcify, and the longer the President's job approval sits below 40% the more that number will start to become a ceiling, as opposed to a floor.

The Gergen/Duberstien/MSM advice on how to right the ship is fools gold and, if followed, would completely demoralize his base and insure a Republican disaster in 2006. I suspect that Kenneth Walsh's US News article where he suggests the President is going back to who brought him to the dance is closer to the road he will follow:

Far from being chastened by recent setbacks, including the indictment of his chief of staff, Vice President Dick Cheney is thumbing his nose at his critics--and encouraging President Bush to do the same. "Bush and Cheney are standing as one," says a prominent Republican who regularly advises the White House. "Their strategy is to get the conservative base solidified again"

Behind the scenes, Cheney is feeding Bush's instinct never to give ground when under attack........President Bush, meanwhile, is thinking in bigger terms. Friends say he has decided that he will never catch a break from the Democrats or the media--on the CIA case or anything else--so he will govern from the right, as he did on most issues in his first term.

Bush would be well advised to follow the above path. He will never placate his political enemies or foes in the media.

While there is no question that the President has taken a pounding these last few months starting with Cindy Sheehan, Katrina, Miers and then Fitzgerald; he still holds some powerful cards not the least of which is the fecklessness of the Pelosi/Reid/Dean opposition. Democrats would be well advised to remember that Republicans put a hard and specific agenda in front of the American people in 1994, which combined with the unhappiness with Congress is what led to the big GOP win. Right now there is no Democratic agenda. Simply repeating "NO" or "BUSH LIED" is not a program.

If Bush is willing to fight he can turn things around. The final round of elections in Iraq, Saddam's impending conviction and execution, and the potential for many American troops to come home could provide a backdrop to turn around public perceptions about Iraq. A strong economy, coupled with firm housing and equity prices are another positive for the President. And then finally, the Alito nomination will provide a forum for a partisan fight, that as long as Alito is confirmed, will energize his base and demoralize the Left.

This isn't meant to be all happy talk for Republican prospects. The table is set for a very good 2006 for the Democrats. And the Republican recruiting woes and Democratic successes provide an early indication that the Bush election run may be coming to an end. But everyone should take a deep breath and remember it is November 2005 not November 2006. And because the Democratic "success" these last few months has come almost exclusively from Bush's woes and nothing the Democrats are pro-actively offering, the President has it in his power to turn things around for the GOP. But he better get out there and fight, because he is not going to catch a break from his political enemies, and he better get that job approval back above 40%.

Election 2005 Post Mortem

Some quick wrap up on Election 2005:

Virginia: Kaine beat Kilgore by an almost identical margin (52/46) to Warner's 2001 victory over  Mark Earley (52/47). Kaine picked up roughly 35,000 more raw votes than Warner did in 2001 while Kilgore only added around 20,000 to Earley's 2001 total. Voter turnout this year was reported at 43%. 

A few points of interest comparing county level returns from 2005 to 2001:

Fairfax & Arlington Counties: Kaine ran almost six points better than Warner did four years ago (60.2 to 54.5) in Fairfax County. Fairfax is the largest county in the state by an order of magnitude (13.76% of all votes cast yesterday came from Fairfax), so Kaine netted a 60,000+ vote lead in Fairfax alone, more than double what Warner got in '01. Kaine also ran 6 points better than Warner in neighboring Arlington County - and Warner is from Alexandria.

Loudoun & Prince William Counties: Kaine ran much stronger in the Northern Virginia ex-urbs than Warner. Kaine beat Kilgore in Loudoun 51.3% to 45.7%. Four years ago Warner lost Loudoun to Earley by seven and half-points. Same in Prince William, where Kaine managed to post a 1.8% win yesterday. Warner lost it by five and a half in 2001.

New Jersey: Corzine won by 9.5%, outperforming most of the polls in this race. According to an AP-Ipsos exit survey:

Corzine captured the New Jersey governor's race by expanding on his party's traditional edge among women and minorities, but also by blunting Republican Doug Forrester's drumbeat on property tax reduction, according to a voter survey conducted Tuesday.

Corzine voters said the economy and jobs were most important to them. People who cited property taxes as the most important issue favored Forrester. The Republican scored even more strongly among voters who said corruption was a factor in their vote, according to the survey by The Associated Press and its polling partner, Ipsos.

Forrester wasn't an ideal candidate and his pro-choice, pro-stem cell positions siphoned off valuable support from the conservative base. It also looks like all the mud slinging at the end of the race ended up being a plus for Corzine because it drove up the negatives of both candidates and drowned out any real discussion of the two issues which Forrester had a chance of gaining traction: propterty taxes and corruption.

Now to the "what does it all mean?" segment:

Ron Brownstein says last night lifts the hopes of Democrats, though he does make note that Dems won both these races in 2001 when Bush's approval rating was at it's post-9/11 peak.

John Podhoretz says:  "To sum up: Incumbent party victories in two states and one city. A Republican state rejected Democratic initiatives. A Democratic state rejected Republican initiatives. Don't let the Democratic spin doctors fool you. Election Day 2005 has nothing to tell us about where the electorate is going in the wake of Bush's terrible year."

Larry Sabato says:  "There's no way to spin this than anything other than a major defeat for Republicans and for President Bush. This [Virginia] is a red state, he came in on Election Eve and he had no discernible effect. If anything, he may have cost Kilgore some votes."

Stuart Rothenberg says: ``Given the state of things, the Republicans really needed to win one of these races. Because of the way the cycle is setting up, the way the momentum is right now, it's not good enough for the Republicans to say, `These were Democratic seats, we put up a good fight and still lost.' ``

Charlie Cook says: "Republicans on Capitol Hill are so scared already.  This is just going to make them more fearful that 2006 could be a disaster."

Rahm Emanuel says: `This confirms that our voters are extremely mobilized, agitated and activated; theirs are despondent. Right now, I've got about 15 [potential candidates] I'm recruiting; this makes the sale a lot easier."

Ken Mehlman says: "From the beginning, we have viewed these as not national but state races. History is consistent with that, and the results tonight are consistent with that."

I think it's unwise to try and assign these races any value in analyzing what may or may not happen in 2006. Certainly the topline vitals (direction of country, Congressional approval, generic vote, etc) are not generally favorable for Republicans right now.  But a year is a very long time and the political landscape can - and probably will - change dramatically over the next twelve months.

November 08, 2005

Election Night Blog Thread


New York City
UPDATE (10:03pm EST): with 10% reporting Bloomberg at 57, Ferrer at 41. Turnout light. I would think this race will be called for Bloomberg in the very near future. That was fast. AP called it for Bloomberg with 26% reporting, Bloomberg 56, Ferrer 41.


***Latest Numbers (11:18pm EST): 97.90% precincts reporting, Kaine 51.61%, Kilgore 46.11%)


UPDATE (7:42pm EST):20% reporting, Kilgore 55, Kaine 43. Real-time election results here. Looks like the state gov web site is not responding. Alternate site for real-time results here. Good election map here.

UPDATE (8:00pm EST): 30.92% reporting, Kaine 52.19, Kilgore 45.65. 

UPDATE (8:04pm EST): Reports from around the state: James City County | Loudon County | Alexandria | Roanoke Valley

UPDATE (8:18pm EST): 48.19% precincts reporting, Kaine 51.55, Kilgore 46.29.

UPDATE (8:52pm EST):  57.49% precincts reporting, Kaine 51.83, Kilgore 45.95. NBC12 has reports of voting 'glitches' in Richmond. Here is an AP update from 2 minutes ago saying Kaine has a 55,000 vote lead with 63.48% precincts reporting.

UPDATE (8:57pm EST): Reports of problems with voting machines in Roanoke County as well.

UPDATE (9:04pm EST): 73.08% precincts reporting, Kaine 50.75, Kilgore 46.98. Potts pulling 2.18. 

UPDATE (9:32pm EST): The AP has called the race in favor of Democrat Tim Kaine.  Other winners declared by the AP: Ben Cline (R), District 24; Chris Saxman (R), District 20; Ward Armstrong (D), District 10.

New Jersey
***Latest Numbers (11:19pm EST):
91% reporting, Corzine 53.5, Forrester 43.2)


UPDATE (7:51pm EST): Polls close in nine minutes. Real-time election results here. Results and map here.

UPDATE (8:15pm EST): From the election blog:

As election day wound down, the atmosphere was noticably different at each of the gubernatorial candidates headquarters.

At the tomb-quiet campaign offices of Republican Doug Forrester in suburban Lawrenceville, a handful of volunteers answered the phones and chatted as the evening rush hour began to build on Route 1.

In downtown New Brunswick, Democrat Jon Corzine's campaign offices were a hive of activity as scores of volunteers and staff bustled about the back rooms.

Dynamobuzz is live blogging the election results.

UPDATE (8:25pm EST): Here's a recently updated story from the Asbury Park Press

UPDATE (8:28pm EST):  Steve Kornacki has a report that Corzine folks are handing out tacos and fried chicken in front of polling places.

UPDATE (8:35pm EST) Enlighten NJ says the buzz is that turnout is heavy in GOP areas and light in Dem strongholds.  Early returns have Forrester 51, Corzine 47.

UPDATE (8:37pm EST): Check that last post: latest results are now Corzine 52, Forrester 46.

UPDATE (8:59pm EST): Cool. Watch live coverage streamed on NJN.

UPDAE (9:12pm EST):  Bergen County 55% reporting, Corzine up 26,000, a 56/44 split.  Analysts saying this is same split McGreevey had in 2001 and he ended up winning big statewide, so if Bergen Co. is in fact a bellwether Corzine is looking to be in good shape.

UPDATE (9:18pm EST): Sussex 97% in, Forrester has 10,000 vote plurality which is twice what Schundler had four years ago. Essex county (only 18% reporting) breaking heavily for Corzine as expected, but the question is how heavy turnout will be. McGreevey netted 80,000 votes out of Essex in '01, but low turnout would net Corzine around 50,000. Big difference.

UPDATE (9:50pm EST): With 58% reporting Corzine still maintaining an 11 point lead. NJN has now called the race as well, and analysts expect Corzine's lead to grow as urban Dem strongholds like Camden, Patterson and Newark come in.

Virginia Governor: Kilgore vs. Kaine

The Governor's race in Virginia is coming down to the wire. Each side brought in their big guns yesterday, President Bush was with Kilgore and Kaine had the current Gov. Mark Warner by his side.

Mason-Dixon has had this a 1-2 point race since July, and in talking to Brad Coker after his final poll showing Kaine 45%, Kilgore 44%, Potts 4%; he still calls this a 1-2 point race with the edge now to Kaine.

Since Labor Day we have seen polls with Kilgore ahead 7 and just yesterday Survey USA had a poll with Kaine up 9. (Survey USA's final poll had Kaine ahead 5, with their Monday only data showing the race tied.)

The trend in this race over the final month clearly favors Kaine and given the current national political backdrop Kilgore is not likely to get the same boost that a Republican would normally expect in Virginia.

The final RCP Average in this race gives Kaine a three point lead, with the independent Potts drawing 3%. Kilgore supporters can look to few factors that might give their guy some hope:

1) In 2004 several polls at the end had Kerry within 4-5 points of Bush, including Survey USA's final poll which had Bush ahead only 4. Kerry lost Virginia by over 8 points.

2) Kilgore is from the Southwestern part of the state, which is a part of Virginia a Democrat usually carries when they win statewide. Kaine is unlikely to carry that part of the state.

3) Virginia is a red state.

In the end, I suspect Kaine's momentum over the last month, President Bush's current problems and the 3-4% Potts is likely to draw will all combine to be enough to get Kaine over the top.

November 07, 2005

Final Marist Poll: Corzine 51%, Forrester 46%

Here it is. Only 3% undecided using likely voters with leaners. Favorable/unfavorable ratings:  Forrester 44/50, Corzine 46/49.

Meanwhile, Wally Edge reports county clerks across the state are reporting record numbers of absentee ballots and suggests Democrats may in fact have the advantage in absentees.

Bloomberg Poised to Make History

There are only two questions left in the NYC Mayor's race:

1) Will Bloomberg go over $100 million in spending on his reelection bid?  No way. He's only rung up about $66 million so far, which is about $5 million less than the total amount spent on the Governor's race next door in New Jersey.

2) Will Bloomberg win by the largest margin ever for a Republican mayoral candidate? Yes. Rudy topped Ruth Messenger by 17.3% in 1997 and Fiorello LaGuardia beat Jeremiah Mahoney by 19.7% back in 1937.  Bloomberg has been leading Ferrer by more than 20 points in every poll taken since the beginning of October and Quinnipiac is out this morning with a new poll showing Bloomberg extending his lead to 38 points. 

 Get all the late breaking news and polls on the RCP Election 2005 NYC Mayoral Race Page.

Virginia Down To The Wire

President Bush will be in Virginia today trying to give Jerry Kilgore a last-minute lift.  The latest Mason-Dixon poll has this a one-point race (Kaine 45, Kilgore 44), so to the extent Bush can energize the Republican base at all it will be a boon for Kilgore. The big question is whether Tim Kaine can close the sale with voters as a conservative Democrat in the Warner mold. I'm not sure he can. Either way, this race is going to end up looking like the end of the New York City Marathon yesterday.

 The other interesting question about this race is what it means, if anything, for 2008. Hillary's camp thinks it has significant meaning for them:

 "Hillary stole the oxygen out of the room because she is who she is, but the consensus was that Mark Warner was the breakout candidate in Columbus [at the DLC annual meeting]," said a top party official in the Clinton camp. "But if Kaine loses, we think it will hurt [Warner's] chances to become the so-called 'anti-Hillary candidate.'"

Don't buy this preemptive spin. Mark Warner is going to remain a popular, conservative-leaning figure within the Democratic party and a threat in 2008 regardless of what happens in Virginia tomorrow. Unlike Hillary Clinton and Evan Bayh, the other DLC-alternative in the potential 2008 race, Warner isn't stuck in the Senate casting votes on Supreme Court nominees and other crucial matters trying to walk the fine line between presenting a moderate face to the public and placating  the far left wing base of the party.

But back to the race at hand.  The current RCP Average stands at Kaine +2.0 with a SurveyUSA poll in the pipeline and scheduled for release around noon.  With anywhere from 3-7 percent still undecided, it's anybody's race. Get all the late breaking news and polls on the RCP Election 2005 VA Gov Race Page.

Corzine Stumbling To The Finish

This one has gotten ugly. Corzine's affair with Carla Katz, head of New Jersey's largest public employee union, is well documented, as is the $470,000 "loan" to her which Corzine eventually forgave.

But on the heels of a devastating quote from Corzine's ex-wife Joanne appearing in the New York Times last week that the Forrester campaign quickly turned into a television ad ("Jon did let his family down and he'll probably let New Jersey down, too") new rumors surfaced involving Corzine, a staffer, and an abortion. The Corzine camp fired back with a rumor that Forrester also has been involved in an extra-marital affair, something Forrester flatly denies.

Adding to his woes, Corzine stumbled in the final debate Saturday night when asked a question about lowering the drinking age in New Jersey. Corzine was unaware the legal age in the state is 21, and he apologized after the debate for "being unprepared" and "making a mistake."

Two new polls out this morning show that while Corzine is fading down the stretch, the demographics in New Jersey might be too much of an advantage for Forrester to overcome:

Quinnipiac has Corzine with a 7-point lead (52-45) in their final poll allocating leaners. Republicans back Forrester 90-9, Dems back Corzine 90-9, and Forrester is winning independents 49-46.

Scott Rasmussen just released a poll showing Corzine's lead shrinking to 5 points over Forrester (44-39), down from 9 points two weeks ago. Normally, getting only 44% in a final poll while registering a favorability rating of only 36% would mean certain death for a candidate. Not in New Jersey.  Despite all the bad news for Corzine, Forrester remains stuck at 40% or lower in the Rasmussen poll with a favorability rating of 37%.

The latest RCP Average stands at Corzine +6.4  Get all the late breaking news on this race on the RCP Election 2005 NJ Gov Race Page.

UPDATE: SurveyUSA out with a new poll showing Corzine's lead shrinking to six points from nine. From the analysis:

In the past 2 weeks, Corzine has dropped 12 points among women, down from a 20-point lead on 10/25/05 to an 8-point lead today. 2 weeks ago, Corzine trailed by 2 among men; today he's up by 5. Among Independents, Forrester had trailed by 15, now by 2.

October 28, 2005

Election 2005 - New Jersey

New Marist poll has Corzine with a 10-point lead over Forrester. More on our RCP 2005 NJ Gov Election Page.

Election 2005 - Virginia

New Rasmussen poll has Kaine moving slightly ahead of Kilgore (46-44) with Potts at 4.  Our RCP average of the last four polls in the race currently has Kaine up less than a point over Kilgore. Nearly every poll taken in the last three months has fallen within the margin of error, so it's safe to say that with 11 days left it remains anybody's race.

And if you haven't been following the Gilliard-Kaine controversy here's a rough outline of what went down:

  • On Wednesday morning at 8:41am Steve Gilliard put up a post calling MD Lt. Gov. Michael Steele "simple sambo" and portraying him as a minstrel.
  • About two hours later, Robert George decried Gilliard's outrageous antics in a post titled "Why I Am Not a Democrat (Part II)"
  • Two hours after that, at 12:31pm, Andrew Sullivan linked to Gilliard's post (and George's response) under the title "The Racist Left."
  • Thursday morning Gilliard received an email from the Internet Director of the Kaine campaign asking him to pull the ad. At 11:08am Gilliard published the email request along with a lenghty diatribe against George, Sullivan, and the Kaine campaign titled "Tim Kaine is a Coward."
  • An hour and a half later Robert George circled back in reponse to Gilliard with this post: "Gilliard's Kaine Mutiny"

October 25, 2005

Election 2005 - NYC Mayor

New Quinnipiac poll (10/18-23) shows Bloomberg maintaining a huge lead (60-32) over Freddy Ferrer in the NYC Mayor's race. Bloomberg leads 77-18 among whites, 48-44 among blacks, and trails Ferrer by only 5 points among Hispanics (43-48). 

Get all the latest news, commentary and polls on this race on our RCP NYC Mayor's Race page.

October 24, 2005

New Polls in Virginia

Two new polls out in the Virginia Governor's race: 

Rasmussen (10/20): Kilgore (R) 48, Kaine (D) 46, Potts (I) 2

Mason-Dixon (10/18-10/20): Kilgore (R) 44, Kaine (D) 42, Potts (I) 5, Undecided 9

For more, see my previous round up on the race and our RCP Election 2005 Page.

October 21, 2005

Election 2005 - New Jersey

Good news for Jon Corzine: in all likelihood the New Jersey Governor's mansion will cost him less than $30 million, which is a 50% discount off the $60 million he spent on the Garden State's Senate seat five years ago.

Three new polls from Monmouth/Gannett, The NY Times and Rasmussen have Corzine comfortably ahead at 7, 9 and 9 points respectively. These follow a 7-point Corzine lead recorded in the most recent Quinnipiac poll (10/11-10/17).  Both Rasmussen and Quinnipiac are trending slightly in favor of Corzine.

The four-way debate on Tuesday provided Forrester few opportunities to engage Corzine and plenty of space for the frontrunner to maneuver away. Efforts to tie Corzine to the corrupt machine of New Jersey politics in general - and to the corrupt former Governor Jim McGreevey and former Senator Bob Torricelli in particular - don't seem to be gaining enough traction for the Forrester campaign.

Now that I've basically written Forrester off, let's try and find a few slivers of hope, because if you look hard enough, they're there. Sliver One: Corzine currently stands at 47.5% in our RCP average and except for the latest Quinnipiac poll he hasn't touched 50% in any of the last 16 polls taken since the beginning of September.  Another sliver: Corzine's current state-wide Senatorial approval rating is under 50% as well. Sliver Three: though Corzine's lead in the latest Monmouth poll was basically unchanged from their last poll three weeks ago, he dropped 7 points among self- described independents.  Like I said, a few tiny slivers, but with 18 days left it's better than no slivers at all. 

 Don't forget, the RCP NJ Governor's Race Page is the ultimate resource for polls, news and commentary for the final days of this race.

October 19, 2005

Election 2005 - Virginia

The Virginia gubernatorial race is going right down to the wire. Every poll taken in the last month has the race within the margin of error, but at the moment the trend looks to be favoring the Democrat Tim Kaine. Our current RCP Avg of the three most recent polls has Kaine (D) at 44.0%, Kilgore (R) at 43.7%, and Potts (I) at 3.7%.

A couple of interesting notes: the latest Rasmussen poll (10/10-11) shows a two-point move toward Kilgore versus the previous sample (9/28), while the latest SurveyUSA poll (10/14-16) shows a 5-point swing in favor of Kaine versus their last poll (9/8-18). Further complicating matters is the most recent Diageo/Hotline poll which has Kaine ahead of Kilgore by 1 point (41-40) among likely voters but behind by 1 point (42-41) when the screen is tightened to "extremely" likely voters. Obviously, this one's going to be all about turnout.

On the money front, the latest fundraising numbers are out, and while Kilgore raised more than Kaine last month ($2.7 million vs. $2.2 million), the campaigns have a virtually identical amount of cash-on-hand for the final three weeks of the race ($5.3 million for Kilgore, $5.2 million for Kaine).

The Kilgore campaign put two news ads into rotation this week, one focusing on domestic violence and the other featuring Senator George Allen. These ads are running along with the death penalty ads that caused such controversy last week.

Finally, the Virginian Pilot runs a profile of Independent Russell Potts this morning. Yesterday Potts declared he would remain in the race "till the last dog dies." That's seemingly bad news for Kilgore because most consider Potts - despite the fact he favors higher taxes and said as governor he would strongly endorse retaining Roe v. Wade if it ever was thrown back to the states - to be a Perot-like figure who is more of a drag on Kilgore's campaign than on Kaine's. In a race this close, Potts' candidacy could make all the difference in the world.

Bookmark our VA Governor's Page to stay on top of the latest polls, news, and commentary in the home stretch of this race.