Thursday, October 02, 2008

Polls In Red States


This morning when asked why Obama is gaining momentum everywhere in the country while his own polling numbers are tumbling, McCain sputtered and groused to his buddies at Fox that "life is unfair." With support from voters solidifying around Obama's calm, measured approach-- and rejecting the McCain campaign's erratic and hysterical reactions to everything-- the battlegrounds for November have been shifting into "safe" Republican states like North Carolina, Indiana, Virginia and Florida. In fact, Florida Republicans are panicking. So are congressional candidates tied to McCain.

Recall that McCain has an unbroken record this year when it comes to coattails: three contested special elections (all in heavily Republican districts, "safe" seats in Illinois, Louisiana and Mississippi) were won by Democrats when McCain's efforts on behalf of Republicans backfired badly. Polling news from around the country is looking gloomier and gloomier for the Republicans, even in areas they thought were safe for them. The NRSC has given up on races in New Mexico and Virginia where they once thought they could hold onto seats of retiring Republicans. This morning's Washington Post declared that the GOP's gradual decline in Virginia has turned into a free fall (And, by the way, this isn't just happening in the DC suburbs, as this Kos diarist-- click on the link-- makes clear when he explains the importance of bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley's endorsement of Obama.)
Long-serving members of Congress and the state legislatures are not only leaving office but also blasting their party on the way out. Just a few years after running his party's national congressional campaign effort, Rep. Tom Davis of Fairfax County is leaving Congress embittered by the Republicans' hard-right positions and frustrated that there appears to be no home for moderates who might appeal to suburban voters.

Virginia's GOP "gave me the middle finger," Davis said after party leaders maneuvered to hand its nomination for the retiring John Warner's U.S. Senate seat to former governor Jim Gilmore, rather than allow a primary between the hard-right Gilmore and the moderate Davis. "Anybody who compromises, you go back to your party base and you're an apostate. You're squishy. You're weak."

Two of Virginia's longest-serving GOP leaders, Sen. John Chichester of Stafford County and Del. Vince Callahan of Fairfax, left the legislature this year with harsh words for their party-- and both have endorsed Democrat Mark Warner in this fall's Senate race.

"I'm extremely distressed by the path it's taking," Callahan told me of the GOP in Virginia. "It could end up being a minority debating society. We can't be a party about immigrant-bashing or gay-bashing or any other bashing. We should be a party of fiscal responsibility, which is how I got into it."

Even worse was some of the startling congressional polling news that came in from around the country. Maybe they're hoping Mooselini will turn this around for them tonight, but it looks like the Republican brand is as toxic as astute prognosticators have been saying it was. Let's start in Texas, where Blue America-endorsee Larry Joe Doherty has been in an under the radar struggle with another lockstep, rubber stamp Bush millionaire, Michael McCaul, whose father-in-law, the Clear Channel CEO, bought him the seat after DeLay had the district gerrymandered to be safe for a garden variety Republican. That same district is no longer viewed as safe. New polling data shows him rapidly closing the gap with McCaul. Yes, Texas.

And look at North Carolina. In fact, more specifically, look at NC-08 in the south-central part of the state that became near and dear to many activists from all over America in 2006 when a stalwart working families supporter, Larry Kissell, came within 324 votes of dislodging weak and useless Bush rubber stamp Robin Hayes. New polling suggests that this year will not be close. A new Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner poll conducted September 28-29 shows Larry Kissell leading Representative Robin Hayes by 11 points, 54- 43%. Obama is also ahead of McCain by roughly the same margin in NC-08 and Democratic Senate Candidate Kay Hagan is leading Elizabeth Dole by 14 points (55%-41%). 8th District voters believe that Larry will do a better job on the economy than Hayes, who supported the job-destroying CAFTA bill, and that Kissell is more likely to stand up for North Carolina's workers.

Even in red, red Idaho, the Democratic house candidate Walt Minnick has pulled ahead of Republican far right extremist Bill Sali, 44-38%! And one of the sweetest polls of all came out of southern Ohio this morning where Vic Wulsin's momentum has caught up with rubber stamp incumbent Mean Jean Schmidt in OH-02. Momentum Analysis calls the race a dead heat with 16% of the voters still undecided. Vic's spokesperson, Kevin Franck, points out that the poll found that 85% of voters are worried that the economic crisis on Wall Street puts their families at risk.
"The economy is by far the most important issue on the minds of families in Southern Ohio and Jean Schmidt supports the same failed economic policies that have gotten us into this mess. Jean Schmidt has been a part of the problem in Washington; Vic Wulsin will be a part of the solution.
“Congresswoman Schmidt opposed tighter restrictions and oversight for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, both of whom failed and have already gotten billion dollar taxpayer bailouts, she voted against limiting high-cost mortgages for those who could not afford them and when she was in Columbus, she raised taxes on Ohio families just about every chance she got. Vic Wulsin thinks it’s time to make government in Washington accountable to the people again.”

Earlier today Congressional Quarterly changed its rating on two Michigan races from "leans Republican" to toss-up. Blue America candidates Gary Peters and Mark Schauer are now seen as winners against Republican right-wingers Joe Knollenberg and Tim Walberg. The fact that McCain has read the writing on the wall and decided to pull his faltering campaign out of Michigan entirely probably dooms the both of them.

The AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka explains why Obama isn't winning by double digits and why he should be and could and will be. Please watch this passionate, powerful beautiful speech:

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At 3:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Richard Trumka gives a no-holds barred, old-timey, give 'em hell speech. One of the best pro-Barack moments I have seen. The country needs more people like Trumka to stand up and voice their concerns and their support.


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