Thursday, July 31, 2008

TN US Senate Candidate Mike Padgett's Blog

We are very pleased to post the following blog, sent exclusively to ElectBlue, by Mike Padgett, Democratic primary candidate for the US Senate from Tennessee. The seat is currently held Republican Lamar Alexander. Mr. Padgett writes:

"ElectBlue is right: Republicans are kidding themselves if they think Senator
Alexander’s seat is safe. Not as long as I am in the race.

You see, I bring a couple of key advantages to the table.

For one, I, unlike my Democratic opponents, was elected 7 times in overwhelmingly Republican Knox County. Couldn’t have done it without Republican votes. And I was a big factor in delivering Knox County for Governor Phil Bredesen both times he was elected – a Tennessee first.

So, I know how to win Democratic and Republican votes in East Tennessee, something no other Democrat in this race can offer. And it would be tough to defeat Senator Alexander without it.

Secondly, I am the only candidate in the Democratic Primary who has experience as a public servant. As Knox County clerk for two decades, I have a record as an innovative problem-solver, a public servant who listened to the practical problems of working-class citizens and provided real-time solutions.

Tennesseans have forgotten what it is like to have a U.S. senator who will fight for them and find answers for their problems. They can expect that from me. I have a track record to show for it.

I have already been to all 95 Tennessee counties, talking to farmers in the field, single moms standing at the gas pump, country lawyers and small-town bankers on the town squares. And none of them can recall a single thing Senator Alexander has done to help them or their families.

I plan on returning to every county in the general election campaign and letting
Tennesseans know that THEY come first with me – not the oil industry and the
wealthiest Americans, whose tax breaks Senator Alexander has jealously

You know, Tennesseans aren’t stupid. They recognize that this election year is the first time in 6 years that Senator Alexander has talked about the energy crisis. They haven’t forgotten how he voted repeatedly to keep the minimum wage obscenely low. And they are well aware that he has supported President Bush at every turn in his disastrous presidency.

Senator Alexander a safe Republican seat? Don’t bet the farm on it."
- Mike Padgett
Democratic Candidate for US Senate

You Get What You Pay For. Well, maybe not always...

Poor CNN. They spent all that money on a new poll conducted on their behalf by Opinion Research Corp and then they couldn't bring themselves to use it. Although the poll results were released yesterday afternoon around 3pm ET, Campbell Brown's prime time program at 8pm ET never mentioned it. Instead, Ms. Brown briefly cited CNN's so-called 'poll of polls' (some sort of average of selected polls, but they never tell us which ones).

Why would CNN not use its own poll?

Could it be that the reason CNN chose not to use its own poll was because that poll's results don't fit CNN's predetermined narrative about this election? After all, the CNN/Opinion Research poll showed Obama with a 7 point lead over McCain (51% to 44%), a lead outside the margin of error. CNN's concocted 'poll of polls' gave Obama a five point lead (48% to 43%). That is barely inside the margin of error, allowing the CNN chattering classes to portray the race as a tie.

I guess if you are doggedly determined to present the 2008 presidential contest as a horse race that is 'virtually tied' even the respected polls you pay for can be tossed in the trash if they don't support the narrative. Facts cannot be allowed to get in the way of the network story line.

So much for the 'best political team on television'.

New Polls: Obama Leading in FL, OH, PA

Those of us who follow polls on a daily basis are just now recovering from emotional shock after Monday's disastrous Gallup flop.  To help expedite our recovery, Quinnipiac has just released a group of new polls for a few key states.

Obama 46  McCain 44

Obama 46 McCain 44

Obama 49  McCain 42

It's difficult to put stock into these numbers however.  Quinnipiac is calling McCain's latest numbers a surge despite Florida and Ohio netting him just 2% over last month.

"'The $64,000 question is whether Sen. John McCain's surge is a result of Sen. Obama's much-publicized Middle Eastern and European trip, or just a coincidence that it occurred while Sen. Obama was abroad,' said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute." 

"'While Obama was on tour, trying to show voters he could handle world affairs, voters were home trying to fill their gas tanks,' Brown added."
Obama was just three days into his foreign tour when Quinnipiac began polling (July 23).  The miniature gains by McCain in this latest round of polling are unlikely the result of a "surge" of sudden support.  Put your checkbook down Mr. Brown, I'll take the $64K in cash. 

CNN's Political Ticker producer, Alexander Mooney, couldn't resist the urge to present this story as some spectacular theatre.

"But in what could be a warning sign for Obama as voters begin to turn their attention to the general election race, Obama's lead appears to have dwindled, or barely remained steady, in all three states..."
Warning sign?  Nothing has changed.  Florida and Ohio have been close all summer.  There was virtually no lead for McCain to narrow in the first place.  As for Pennsylvania, a Strategic Vision (Republican) poll released just yesterday shows Obama leading by nine.  Mr. Mooney apparently didn't get the memo.

Last week, Quinnipiac also showed a 15% swing for John McCain in Minnesota, narrowing Obama's lead to just 2% in less than a month.  Quinnipiac's Minnesota number is so far distant from other polling groups (including their own data from the month before) that it's almost certain to be a statistical outlier.  See also Colorado.

There's no shortage of reporters who desperately want a horse race, and you'll be hard pressed to find a surge in anything these days unless you're looking for a growing number of miscalculated blunders by professional pollsters. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Bridge Too Far

Until this week Alaska's senior Senator, Ted Stevens, was probably best known as the sponsor of a $200+ million earmark for a bridge to a nearly uninhabited island in his home state. The longest-serving Republican in the US Senate had become almost a household name for his support of the infamous 'bridge to nowhere'. No longer.

On Tuesday, the 84-year old Republican was indicted by a Federal grand jury on seven felony counts of making false statements on his financial disclosure forms in the years 1999 through 2006. The charges could have hardly come at a worse time. Senator Stevens is in a very tough race for election to a seventh term. He is being challenged by Mark Begich, the Democratic mayor of Anchorage. Even before the news of Stevens' indictment broke, the latest Rasmussen poll (conducted last week) showed Begich leading Stevens by a margin of 50% to 41%. The charges of felony misconduct put Stevens' re-election chances at very near zero.

The pick-up of Stevens' seat in Alaska could bring the Democrats within striking distance of a filibuster-proof 60 seat majority in the next Senate. It's still a very tough climb, but Ted Stevens may have just provided the bridge to sixty seats for the Dems.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Media Bias: It's not what you think

The next time someone tells you the media favor Barack Obama, you have my permission to threaten them with the ol' backhand.  

The popular myth that the media outlets favor Democrats just isn't true.  A recent study conducted by The Center for Media and Public Affairs found that coverage for Obama was significantly more negative (72%) than for McCain (57%).  So, it's been Obama, not McCain, who's been getting smacked around by the press.

Equally as eye catching is that Obama is getting far more coverage than McCain, albeit more negative.  McCain has been the invisible Republican nominee, but when he is in the news, the coverage is far more positive for him than for Obama.

There's also been a noticeable and surprising double standard this year.  Take for instance a story that popped up a few weeks ago regarding Cindy McCain and her unpaid property taxes.  To be fair to Mrs. McCain, the delinquent bill doesn't appear to be her fault.  But what if Barack Obama had been late on his taxes?  Or for that matter, what if Jeremiah Wright owed $6,000 in back taxes?  If you answered, "The press would have ridiculed Obama and associated him with criminals who refuse to pay taxes," you would win the prize.

Or what if Obama...

...repeatedly mentioned a country that hasn't existed in nearly 20 years?
... described Social Security as an "absolute disgrace?"

Obama would be hung on a cross and be subjected to relentless ridicule.  We can expect such bias from the state-run media (aka Fox News), but why are real news organizations presenting such slanted coverage of Senator Obama? 

Why?  The obvious answer is not a pretty one.  It's all about the money.  If they can portray this campaign as a real horse race, the media get much more air time for their egotistical talking heads, and of course they'll make big bucks at the same time on the advertising.  There, I said it. It's all about money and ego.  Real shocker, right?    

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Travel Bounce?

The Gallup daily tracking poll for today (July 27) gives Obama a nine point lead over McCain. This is the largest margin for either candidate since Gallup began its Obama-McCain match-ups in mid March of this year. Although Obama has consistently led the daily tracking poll in recent weeks, his margins have been in the 2-3 point range.
Friday's Rasmussen tracking poll showed Obama with a five point edge, which was also an improvement in his performance in that poll in recent weeks.
Could these be the first hints of a bounce in Obama's numbers as a result of his highly successful travels to the Middle East and Europe? No doubt we will see more polls in the coming days to help answer that question. Personally, I'm feeling pretty good about it.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The NRA in MT, ND, & SD

Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota.  Bleeding red states?  It doesn't appear so any longer.  If you've been following polls over the last several weeks, you'll know already that Barack Obama is giving John McCain a run for his money where the Great Plains meets the Rocky Mountains.

A senior NRA official, in Nashville for a GOP fundraiser, told me today, "We're surprised it's so close."   

Close indeed.

Here are the lastest polls from July:
MT  Rasmussen July 1, 2008 (500 LV) Obama 48 McCain 43 Obama +5
ND Rasmussen July 8, 2008 (500 LV) Obama 46 McCain 47 McCain +1
SD Rasmussen July 9, 2008 (500 LV) Obama 43 McCain 47 McCain +4
Source: Real Clear Politics "Latest Polls"

But how close this race remains is yet to be seen.  When pressed, the same official revealed a likely NRA campaign in these and other western states.

"We're gonna see if he can take a hard punch." 

Who would have ever doubted that?  The NRA is expected to spend as much as $18 million during this election cycle.

However, dealing with Senator McCain's real record on gun control may prove tough for the pro-gun organization.  McCain and the NRA have had "high profile disagreements" in the past, and if the NRA keeps their promise not to sugarcoat a candidate's record, they may well find it difficult to persuade voters and their contributers that John McCain is worth the fight.

In 2004, The National Review published a "second amendment tip sheet," which highlighted NRA ratings for members of Congress.  McCain's grade from the NRA's Political Victory Fund was a C.  Even worse was his grade from Gun Owners Of America, an F-.  His overall rating from the NRA is a C+.

McCain's record is spotty at best.  He opposed an extension of the assault weapons ban.  But McCain's divorce from the NRA was made final for many members when he supported a bill that would have placed a federal ban on all gun shows.  Campaign finance reform, another hot button with the NRA, literally has McCain's name written all over it.  That didn't set well either.

Although Obama and the NRA aren't exactly buddies, McCain will need all the help he can get to carry some of these blue trending western states.  It's a certainty the NRA will be pushing hard for McCain.  It is equally certain that Senator Obama will exploit the many weaknesses in John McCain's second amendment record.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Sneak Peak at the Veep...

With Senator Obama's travels about to come to an end, I imagine the Veep guessing game will soon be underway full steam. In spite of the opinions of many of the talking media heads on cable TV, here are a few oft-mentioned VP choices for the Dems that I think are very long shots:

1. Sen. Evan Bayh (IN);
2. Sen. Jack Reed (RI);
3. Sen. Chris Dodd (CT).

All three of these sitting Democratic senators represent states with incumbent Republican governors. I don't think Sen. Harry Reid (NV), Senate Majority Leader, or Sen. Chuck Schumer (NY), head of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, would be any too happy about surrendering a senate seat that is sure to be taken by a Republican if the Obama ticket wins. Count Bayh, Reed and Dodd out.

Also mentioned often but equally unlikely to get the VP nod:

1. Gov. Bill Richardson (NM);
2. Sen. Chuck Hagel (NE).

Richardson's very public break with the Clintons during the primary left a lot of bitter feelings that make him a high-risk choice for Obama. Hagel, as indicated by the red font used for his name, is a Republican. Although he has been good on the Iraq War, Hagel's otherwise very conservative record makes him unacceptable to important constituencies in the Democratic Party. No way on either of these guys.

So, where does that leave us? There are three choices for Obama's VP that seem very viable. Each of them could bring as much to the Democratic ticket as any vice-presidential candidate is likely to do:

1. Sen. Hillary Clinton (NY). Yep, she's still on my list. She carries a lot of baggage for sure, but she probably has a lot more good baggage than bad.
2. Fmr. Sen. Sam Nunn (GA). He has tons of foreign policy experience and that re-assuring Southern accent that many Independents and moderate Republicans find so appealing. Nunn has some repair work to do with the powerful pro-choice and gay rights elements in the Democratic Party, but he could probably placate those groups with a well-timed 'death-bed' conversion on issues vital to them.
3. Sen. Joe Biden (DE). He also brings lots of foreign policy expertise, a certain gravitas and a well-deserved reputation as a fiery (to put it mildly) campaigner. The later, in fact, may be his biggest liability.

It's early days yet but that's where I see it right now.

A Real American Leader in Paris...

Barack Obama certainly looked and sounded very presidential this morning in a brilliant joint press conference with French President Nicolas Sarkoszy. After a private meeting, the two men held a lengthy and substantive encounter with reporters. Obama managed to thread the needle of looking and sounding like a potential President without going over the line between a candidate and an already elected Commander-in-Chief. Displaying deep knowledge of key world issues, seasoned diplomatic skills, humor and uncommon aplomb, Obama's performance was, as the French say, a tour de force.

The warmth from the French side was palpable as Obama made it clear that the U.S. could have a President who put America's interests first without demeaning and marginalizing America's oldest ally. The optics of the press conference told the whole story: a confident and amiable Obama standing shoulder-to-shoulder with an unusually warm and welcoming Sarkoszy.

Later in the day, Senator Obama flew on to London where he will meet tomorrow with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Based on the success of his travels so far, I expect Obama will put another notch in his 'ready-for-prime-time' belt while in the U.K.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Electoral Projection

We like Dave Leip's formula for allocating a state for one candidate or another.  We've designated states to a candidate only if they are leading in the last three consecutive polls. Otherwise, a state remains a tossup.  I've made one exception for Colorado because Obama has led in six of the last seven polls.  Yesterday's Quinnipiac poll puts McCain up by two. One poll well within the margin of error isn't enough to convince me to make any changes.  We will be updating the electoral college map at the end of each week through the election cycle.

We're nearing the end of July, and an average of national polls over the last few weeks shows Obama leading McCain by four or five points.  There will be a lot of eyes watching polls next week to read into whether or not Obama's foreign tour had an impact.

With 101 days left until E-day, I thought it would be interesting to look back at where polls were in July 2004.  Kerry led throughout June and July, and then the swiftboating began. There are clear differences between 2004 and 2008 (poor economy, no incumbent, etc.), so we won't reach too far in drawing conclusions.  Regardless, these numbers should serve as a reminder of how quickly presidential races can change.  In other words, this is no time to be resting on our laurels.

Group DateBushKerryNader/CamejoSpread
Marist (573 LV)7/30-8/2         47%       47%       1%                          TIE
CBS News (991RV)7/31-8/143%48%3%Kerry +5
CNN/Gallup/USAT (LV)7/30-8/151%45%2%Bush +6
ABC News/WP (LV)7/30-8/147%49%2%Kerry +2
ARG (776 RV)7/30-8/145%49%2%Kerry +4
Newsweek (1010 RV)7/29-7/3042%49%3%Kerry +7
  Source:  Real Clear Politics 2004 Presidential Poll Averages

Taking a look at past electoral and popular vote margins puts something else into perspective.  A five or six point popular vote margin, as small as it may seem, will probably translate into at least 320 electoral votes.  

Popular Vote MarginElectoral Vote Margin
20042.46% 35
1976 2.06%57

Triumph at the Victory Column

Today Senator Barack Obama hit all the right notes in a speech to more than 200,000 cheering, flag waving (American flags, please note!) Germans at the Victory Column in the heart of Berlin. The presumptive Democratic nominee recalled the critical victories America and Europe have achieved in the past when they have worked closely together. He challenged Europeans and Americans to renew their historically strong partnership in order to win future victories in the struggle against terrorism, intolerance, genocide and climate change. In an invocation perfectly attuned to his Berlin audience, Obama urged Europeans and Americans to join forces to tear down the remaining walls that still divide the peoples of the world.

Eight years of go-it-alone, 'cowboy diplomacy' have alienated so many of our friends around the world. It was therefore especially refreshing to see an American political leader received so warmly in the capital of our economically most powerful ally in Europe. Tomorrow, Obama heads to Great Britain, our closest European ally, and to France, America's oldest ally in Europe. Today's speech in Berlin was a very auspicious beginning for what promises to be a triumphant European trifecta for the Illinois senator.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Recent polls

Minnesota - President    Obama (D) 52%     McCain (R) 39%

Minnesota -US Senate    Franken (D) 49      Coleman* (R) 46%

Florida - President         Obama (D) 49%     McCain (R) 47%

Virginia - President       Obama (D) 46%     McCain (R) 44%

Virginia - US Senate     Warner (D) 57%     Gilmore (R) 32%

Senator McShame

John McCain's campaign has sunk to a new low -- and it's only July. The presumptive Republican nominee suggested yesterday that Barack Obama would rather lose a war than lose a political campaign. What an outrageous assertion! How could a serious politician even suggest that a sitting U.S. Senator, and the presidential nominee of the oldest political party in the world, would betray his country for political gain? As Harold Ford, Jr. (former U.S. Rep from TN), said today on MSNBC's Race for the White House, "shame on you, John McCain!"

Shame indeed! Joe McCarthy must be smiling from the nether reaches of Hell.


In case you haven't noticed, John McCain has a knack for inserting his foot.  Besides his constant confusion about the differences between Sunni and Shia Muslims and his self-acknowledged weakness on issues relating to the economy, it now appears McCain needs an education in geography too.

Here's the same guy who most people regard as strong on foreign policy, yet he couldn't find the Czech Republic on a map if he tried.  Apparently McCain's advisors still haven't clued him in.   He's defended Czechoslovakia (a nation that hasn't existed since 1993) on more than one occasion.  Why should any of us be surprised about McCain's latest gaffe?  

It's one thing for the average American to forget eighth grade geography, but candidates who are running for President should have at least some knowledge of national borders in regions of the world where American troops are serving.

There's only two explanations here.  Either McCain is just woefully ignorant of world geography or he's breathtakingly careless.  I don't think he's senile.  After all, you don't have to be old to be careless.  Either way, the end result equals the same incompetence we've witnessed over the last eight years.  

2008 Senate Race Projection

*Updated and current Senate projections can be found by navigating through the Elect Blue Index (left-top margin).  Senate projections will be updated weekly starting August 26th.

As of today, 7/23/08, here's my outlook on this year's senate races.

Democrats are projected to have at least a 55 seat majority in the senate after November's election. If you've been watching closely, 55 is the rock-bottom number Democrats are likely to have. Their goal: A filibuster proof majority, which is 60. They're unlikely to get to 60, but they could come close, and here's why.

Republicans have 23 seats up for grabs this year. Democrats only have 12. Of the twelve Democrat seats, only one is in play, and that's Landrieu's seat in LA. Unfortunately for her, thousands of Katrina victims (who would have voted for her) have relocated somewhere other than LA. She's led in every recent poll, but her opponent, John Kennedy, is on her heels. She's only been leading by four or five in most polls, and that's why this race is on everyone's watchlist.

Ugly Outlook For GOP

A few have bucked my prediction that CO will go blue in 2008. Make no doubt about it, the DNC will pour a lot of Benjamins into this one. Republican, Wayne Allard, is pulling a Bill Frist by only running two terms. He's finished. Enter Democrat, Mark Udall. He's been running around 10 points ahead of his Republican challenger, Bob Schaffer. Democrats in CO elected a new Democratic governor in 2006 by 15%, and they also control the state house and senate. Bush won CO by 6%. This seat will turn blue in November.

What more is there to say except this is the end for John Sununu (R). His opponent,  Jeanne Shaheen has been crushing him by more than 10 points in the latest polls. The last Rasmussen poll has Shaheen leading by 14. Democrats have been picking off Republicans one by one over the last few years here too. Democrats, in 2006, won back both House seats, and for the first time since the 1870's, New Hampshire Democrats control both chambers of the state government. Adding on, Democrats reelected their Governor in 2006 by an enormous margin. NH went to Bush in 2000 and to Kerry in 2004. Democrats will pick up this seat too.

This is the blowout of all blowouts. Democratic Congressman, Tom Udall, is riding the wave over Republican, Steve Pearce. Unfortunately for Republicans, Pete Domenici has decided to not run for a seventh term (see also CO).   Polls have Udall leading anywhere from 20-25 points. This race has a lot of interesting twists and turns when you dig into which candidates put their hats in for this seat. Three Republicans, all of which held US House seats, gave up their posts to run in this race. Now, all those seats are open too. Gore won NM in 2000 but Bush beat Kerry here by just 365 votes.  Tom Udall is the cousin of CO's Mark Udall.

If you're looking for things to get prettier for the GOP, better hit the back button while you can. Shut down the computer if you need to. Here in VA, we have governor vs. governor. Former Republican Governor, Jim Gilmore, is getting crushed by former Governor Mark WarnerRasmussen's latest poll puts Warner ahead by 23, and every poll since September has him cruising anywhere from 25 to 30 points ahead. Why you ask? Same story as before. Changing demographics have led to a red state turning blue. In 2006, Republican incumbent, George Allen, was thumped by Democrat Jim Webb. And in 2005, Tim Kaine rode the coattails of a popular Warner into the Governor's mansion. The presidential race will be a barn burner for sure. It will be the closest percentage race in the nation in my opinion. The senate race on the other hand is a snoozer.

These are the races that should get Democrats to 55. I'm counting Sanders (I-VT) and Lieberman (I-CT) for Democrats because they almost always vote with Democrats procedurally (minus Lieberman on Iraq and Iran).  Starting with the closest races, here are the remaining tossup Senate seats.

Nightmare Scenario For GOP If These Seats Are Lost
It's 55 plus one for each of these races Democrats can manage to win.

If you've heard of the Bridge to nowhere, you may know who Ted Stevens is. Polls over the last three months have been dead even between Stevens and his Democrat challenger, Mark Begich, but a Rasmussen poll released yesterday puts Begich up by 8. As important as the margin, it's the first poll in which either candidate has reached the 50% threshold with Begich polling at 52%. It's hard to imagine how Stevens is even in the game given his past. One year ago, the FBi raided his home and began an investigation into his dealings with a former oil contractor who was later convicted of bribery. Smells..or rather sounds like the Tennessee Waltz, right? Stevens would be 91 years old at the end of another term if reelected and has never received less than 66% of the vote. It's a "bridge" too far for Stevens to get even 55% this time. This one appears to be too close to call unless more polling data reveals Begich opening his lead.

MS makes my head hurt because there are actually two senate races going on at the same time. Only one however is close. When Trent Lott resigned, Republican Governor Barbour appointed Roger Wicker to replace him. Previously, Wicker had been a Congressman for 13 years in MS-01. After his departure, the seat was taken over in a special election by Democrat Travis Childers. Things only get worse if Republicans lose Lott's seat. Wicker's challenger, Ronnie Musgrove is on Wicker's heels too. The last two polls are virtually tied (Musgrove +1 in June, Wicker +1 in July), and with the election still a hundred days away, both are slingin' Mississippi mud as if it were November 1st. It's bound to get nasty in the swamps. This race will be as close as any senate race this year. A barn-burner to be sure.

Like Alaska, things were lookin' relatively safe for Republican, Gordon Smith until Democrat challenger, Jeff Merkley found himself leading by 2% in a Rasmussen poll released last Wednesday. June's poll had Smith winning by 9%. Smith's approach to winning reelection is an odd one to say the least. He's siding with Barack Obama. If you can't beat 'em, join, 'em, right? Actually, Obama isn't supporting Smith at all. In the coming weeks we should have a better grasp on where things are headed. Too close to call.

It's hard for me to take Al Franken serious. A lot of Minnesotans feel different though. Whether or not there are enough voters to support Franken remains to be seen however. There have been four polls since May, and three of four have incumbent Norm Coleman leading. The only Rasmussen poll shows Franken leading by 2%; however, it may be an outlier. The other three polls average to show Coleman leading by double digits. Survey USA's poll, released only a few days after Rasmussen's, shows Coleman up by 9%.  I'd be surprised if Franken pulls it off, but if there was ever a year to do it, it's 2008.

Susan Collins is a middle of the road Republican who is popular in Maine. She's unlikely to be thrown to the wolves by Mainers, but her challenger, Tom Allen, is expected to keep things just close enough to make Collins get off her butt, raise money, and campaign. Collins promised to serve only two terms. Fortunately for Republicans, she's going back on that promise. I have strong doubts about Allen's chances, and I'm not even sure why this race is on anyone's watch list (although you'll find it on many).  He's not led in one poll, and Collins' average lead is somewhere around 12-15%.

A few months ago, Democrat challenger, Kay Hagan, was turning heads. Numbers for Liddy Dole weren't looking so good. But things have changed since Dole began dumping money into the race. She also rearranged her staff back in May. Since then, the race has been favoring Dole so much that I doubt Hagen's chances. Regardless, I read somewhere the other day that Schumer has set aside $6 million for Hagen. She'll need it. This seat has been owned by Republicans for 35 years. Four published polls between June and July have Dole leading somewhere around 10% to 12%. An internal poll released by Hagan has Dole leading by just 4. Some believe Dole to be a complete ditz and others claim she's a terrible campaigner; nonetheless, I'm sticking with Dole for now on this one.

As for us here in Tennessee, Alexander is up for reelection, but the race hasn't been on anyone's radar. One reason is we haven't had our primary yet. Another is because Alexander is an incumbent in a very, very red state. Alexander will take on either Bob Tuke, former Tennessee DNC Chair, or the more moderate Knox County resident and businessman, Mike Padgett. I've never met Mike, but he told me in an email yesterday that he believes he has a better shot at taking down Alexander.  This seat may not be as "safe" as some are making it.  Ford Jr. made Corker sweat until the very end.  In a year when the Republican brand is as tarnished as ever, it may be possible..even in Red Tennessee..that Padgett or Tuke can make this one a horse race.

Other states that are safe for GOP: ID, WY, NE, KS, OK, TX, MS(Cochran), AL, SC, GA. McConnell's looking safe for now in KY, although he's still not polling at 50% which gives some reason for concern. He's been leading around 8-10%. The GA race may be one to not look too far away from either.

Safe for Democrats: MT, SD, IA, AR, IL, WV, DE, NJ, RI, MA.

Right now, it looks like Democrats are sitting on 57. I'm counting on AK and either OR or MS to come through. A lot could change though.

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