Thursday, October 19, 2006

Polling Update ii

Here is another post from my friend back in Oregon:

Good afternoon all,
After the last polling update I sent out some of you expressed some skepticism at the numbers and questioned whether or not wishful thinking had influenced the numbers I sent out. I assure you that these are dire times for the Republican Party, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Below are links to three websites that assess the current races in an easy-to-read, interesting format. Two are done by non-partisan organizations and the third is done by a Republican. Those links are: - Done by a Republican

Lastly, before I get to today’s numbers, for those of us who enjoy reading left-wing writings and thoughts, I’d like to suggest visiting The Rant. It’s a blog done by a friend of mine on this list. It’s particularly relevant to those of you in California, but still great stuff for everybody else. It can be found at:

Sorry, no great conservative blog to recommend. If any of you have any good ones to recommend, I’d be happy to mention it in the next polling update. Now on to today's numbers:

I wanted to pass along how things stand this week with the races across the nation now that we are less than three weeks from Election Day. If there is ever a reminder of how the leaders we choose, and the actions of those in Washington, can impact human lives, it comes in situations such as this morning when the Defense Department announced that ten more Soldiers and Marines were killed in action in Iraq within the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 70 for this month that is only half over. Indications are that soon after the election, there’s going to be a major announcement from the White House in conjunction with Former Secretary of State Baker and his special commission that just returned from Iraq where Baker apparently became enraged at what he saw using words like “disaster”. The word around the city is that Daddy Bush and Baker are heavily involved in trying figure things out with W. The
announcement is supposedly going to be to convene a bi-partisan workgroup comprised of Bush Administration officials and Members of Congress from both parties to work out a “new approach”, as the White House is calling it, to the situation in Iraq. It will supposedly not involve immediate withdrawal of US forces from the country but involve some major new initiatives. Your guess is as good as mine as without massive foreign assistance from flakey nations such as France and Russia I don’t see how it’s anything other than a choice between stay or withdraw. This has apparently come about not just because of the power that Daddy Bush and Baker wield and their thinking on the subject of Iraq, but because Bush and his team in the White House have become convinced that his entire presidency could sink from both a policy and political standpoint because of the conflict, just like Johnson’s did over Vietnam. At the very end of this e-mail is an interesting front page story in today’s Washington Post outlining Bush Administration thinking and the rest of the dynamic with the potential of a Democratic Congress looming.

With polling, we’ll start with the House of Representatives. The Democrats need a net gain of 15 to take control and make things happen such as Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as Speaker of the House, George Miller (D-CA) as Chair of the Education and Workforce Committee, Henry Waxman (D-CA) as Chair of the Government Reform and Oversight Committee, John Conyers (D-MI) as Chair of the Judiciary Committee, John Dingell (D-MI) as Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Charlie Rangel (D-NY) as Chair of the Ways and Means Committee. Current district by district polling indicates if the election were held today, the Democrats would have a net gain of 24 seats in the House, taking 24 out of the 30 races which are currently viewed as competitive and thereby taking control of the House.

In the Tier 2 Senate races that going in to this year were figured to be races to watch but which have not developed in to such races:

Sen. Kyl has a strong double digit lead in Arizona for an R Hold

Sen. Byrd, who turns 89 years old next month, has a huge lead in West Virginia for a D Hold

Sen. Ensign has a double digit lead in Nevada for an R Hold

Sen. Cantwell has almost a ten point lead in Washington for a D Hold

Klobuchar has a 20 point lead in Minnesota over Kennedy for a D Hold of the seat being vacated by Sen. Dayton

Sen. Stabenow has a double digit lead in Michigan for a D Hold

Sen. Nelson has a 20 point lead over Harris in Florida for a D Hold

In the Tier 1 Senate races that will determine control of the chamber when the 110th Congress of the United States convenes on January 3:

Sen. Lieberman, now running as an Independent, has a double digit lead over his Democratic challenger in Connecticut. Earlier this week Sen. Lieberman announced his firm intention to caucus with the Democratic Party after his likely re-election to the Senate as an Independent, joining the only other Independent in the body, Sen. Jeffords, as a member of the Democratic Caucus.

Casey now has a double digit lead in multiple polls over Sen. Santorum in PA for
a D Pickup.

Brown now has a double digit lead over Sen. DeWine in Ohio for a D Pickup.

Ford leads Corker by 1 point in TN for a D Pickup of the seat being vacated by Sen. Frist. This race is hugely tight in that R state.

McCaskill has opened up a lead over Sen. Talent in MO of between 4-6 points depending on the poll for a D Pickup in the state that is considered the national bellwether for how the Democrats will do.

Tester is 6-7 points ahead of Sen. Burns in Montana for a D Pickup.

Whitehouse is 6-7 points ahead of Sen. Chafee in Rhode Island for a D Pickup

Sen. Menendez has opened up a 4-5 point lead over Kean in New Jersey for a D Hold.

Sen. Allen maintains a lead over Webb in Virginia for an R Hold but Allen’s lead is now down to just 2 points in a Washington Post poll that’s getting a lot of attention this week, not just because it shows the race tighter again, but more importantly because it was such a large statewide poll and has shown a huge split that has opened up between the Washington suburbs of Northern Virginia and the rest of the state. I’ve put the piece from the Post below for all of you.

Back to the Senate polling though. The Democrats need a net gain of 6 seats in the Senate to take control and do things like make Harry Reid Majority Leader, Robert Byrd as Chair of the Appropriations Committee, Carl Levin as Chair of the Armed Services Committee, Jim Jeffords (huge environmentalist) as Chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Joe Biden as Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Ted Kennedy as Chair of the Health, Education, and Labor Committee, Patrick Leahy as Chair of the Judiciary Committee, and Hillary Clinton as Chair of the Fisheries, Wildlife, and Water Subcommittee at the Environment and Public Works Committee. If the election were held today, polling indicates that the Democrats would have a net gain of 6 seats to take control of the Senate with a 51-49 majority because of their clean sweep of all the close races. As I had stated previously, there is no margin for error and if one race such as the Tennessee race or the Missouri race tips back to the Rs, and Allen wins in VA, it would be a 50-50 Senate with Vice President Cheney breaking the tie in favor of the Republicans maintaining control. With less
than three weeks to go, much is uncertain.

Well, those are the numbers for this week. If the numbers warrant it, I’ll do two polling updates next week and the week after that.

Elections May Leave Bush An Early Lame Duck

By Peter Baker and Michael A. Fletcher
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, October 18, 2006; A01

On desks around the West Wing sit digital clocks counting down the days and hours left in the Bush presidency, reminders to the White House staff to use the time left as effectively as possible. As of 8 a.m. today, those clocks will read 825 days, four hours. But if the elections go the way pollsters and pundits predict, they might as well read 20 days.

At least that would be the end of George W. Bush's presidency as he has known it. If Democrats win one or both houses of Congress on Nov. 7, the result will transform the remainder of Bush's time in office and dramatically shift the balance of power in Washington. Ending a dozen years basically passed in exile, congressional Democrats would have a chance to help steer the nation again -- following a campaign spent mostly assailing Bush's vision rather than detailing their own.

Around Washington, key figures in both parties have been trying to figure out what a Democratic victory would mean. Bush has been meeting privately with Cabinet secretaries in recent weeks to map out an agenda for his final two years in office. The White House says it is not making contingency plans for a Democratic win, but Bush advisers are bracing for what they privately recognize is the increasing likelihood. And Democratic leaders have been conferring about what they would do should voters return them to power.

Emboldened by victory, and bitter from grievance, Democrats could use their ascendance to block Bush's agenda, force him to respond to theirs and begin a new era of aggressive oversight and investigation. A Democratic victory, analysts in both parties said, could mean that some of Bush's tax cuts would not be renewed, attempts to revive his Social Security investment plan would be doomed and efforts to further broaden national security powers in the face of civil liberties concerns would be thwarted.

Most worrisome to the White House is the subpoena power that Democrats would gain with a majority in the House or Senate. For years, Republicans have been mostly deferential in scrutinizing the Bush administration, but Democrats are eager to reexamine an array of issues, such as Vice President Cheney's energy task force, the Jack Abramoff scandal and preparations for the Iraq war.

"It obviously affects things a lot," said Charles Black, a Republican lobbyist with ties to the White House. "History tells you that administrations have a hard time achieving things in their last two years. I think the president wants to be as aggressive as he can with a good menu of ideas.

"If he had to deal with a Democratic majority in one house or both," Black added, it makes it that much harder.

Steve Elmendorf, a former House Democratic leadership aide, said of Bush, "He would lose control of his agenda. He would have to make a decision: Does he want to compromise and work cooperatively with the Democrats, or does he want to keep pushing what he's been pushing and lose all the time?"

The most salient analogy may be the last time Congress changed hands, after the 1994 elections. President Bill Clinton was left trying to assert that "the Constitution gives me relevance" even as new House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) and his Republicans seized the initiative. Clinton ultimately recovered through a mixture of confrontation with Republicans, most notably in a government shutdown, and "triangulation" in which he embraced some of their priorities, such as overhauling the welfare system.

The difference is that Clinton's presidency was still young, while Bush is heading into the twilight of his administration -- and is stuck in an unpopular war. But some Republicans think that Bush could play off overreaching Democrats as Clinton did with Gingrich. Or he could pivot to the more bipartisan mode he promised to bring from Texas and seize opportunities for progress in areas such as immigration, where his proposed guest-worker program has been blocked by his own party.

"One of the lessons for President Bush if he loses one or both chambers is the California example," said Sergio Bendixen, a pollster for Democrats. "Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at this time in 2005 was considered to be in deep trouble. But now he is a shoo-in for reelection. How did he turns things around? He has gone from a very partisan Republican to somebody who was working with the other party. I wouldn't be surprised if Bush does the same thing."

John Bridgeland, a former Bush domestic policy adviser consulted by the White House in recent planning, said that regardless of who wins the election, the president would benefit from cooperating across party lines. "Without doing so, it will be more difficult to get things done that will be lasting," he said. "You can do things by executive order, but they may not survive into other administrations."

Bipartisanship, though, has been in short supply since Bush became president. In his first term, he negotiated support from both sides for his No Child Left Behind education law even as Democrats took control of the Senate in June 2001 because of a party switch. But as a practical matter, Bush faced an opposition chamber in Congress for just 98 days before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, after which both parties rallied behind him for a time. Republicans won back the Senate in 2002.

Bush has had a difficult enough time winning support from a Republican Congress over the past two years, and some expect the party to turn on him even more if it loses, particularly because of the Iraq war, which has been an albatross for GOP candidates. When the voting is done, pressure may rise from within Bush's own ranks to rethink Iraq policy, as evidenced by comments by Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), who recently said that Bush should take a new course if the situation does not improve in 60 to 90 days.

But presidents have broad leeway to set foreign policy regardless of the legislative branch, and a Democratic Congress may exert more direct influence on domestic matters. Bush has been preparing his post-election agenda in a series of meetings, sitting down one-on-one with nine members of his Cabinet in the past month to review ideas. Bush insists that the sessions not consider a victory by Democrats, participants said. But the discussions have focused on items that could attract bipartisan interest, such as further efforts to rebuild the hurricane-torn Gulf Coast, reauthorization of No Child Left Behind and renewal of farm legislation.

"He's fired up for the last two years of his administration," Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said in an interview after meeting with Bush. Rob Portman, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said after his own session: "He's pushing all of us, pushing himself. I don't think there's going to be any letup."

Bush aides recognize that no matter who wins next month, the president has at best a year to push through any last major initiatives before the 2008 presidential race takes over the national political agenda. Portman, a former House member, said he hopes there will be "a timeout on partisanship" after next month's election that can be exploited in 2007. "It's a critical year," he said.

The agenda-planning meetings are the brainchild of White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten, who handed out the countdown clocks to fellow Bush aides earlier this year. Bolten wants to use the process to develop new ideas and find ways to measure the success of old ones, colleagues said.

"There's still plenty of time to get important things done if people on both sides of the aisle are willing to work together to do it," Deputy White House Chief of Staff Joel Kaplan said in an interview. "Two years is a long time. "After the election, Kaplan said, Bush will "look for partners in Congress" to accomplish priorities, such as extending his tax cuts, developing alternative energy supplies and promoting American competitiveness.

The question in the White House is whether Democrats would be willing to be partners. While Democrats see Bush as relentlessly partisan, his aides think Democrats have been deliberately obstructionist even on issues of little dispute. Against that backdrop of mutual suspicion, the two sides may find it difficult to come together.

"The Democrats are so blinded by their hate of Bush, they'll have a hard time even having a bill-signing with him," Republican lobbyist Ed Rogers said. "That might make for some good political contrasts, but not much substance."

Ron Kaufman, who was White House political director for George H.W. Bush, said: "If they try to take down the president, if you will, it would be really stupid. It would play into the long-term interests of the Republican Party."

Leon E. Panetta, who became Clinton's White House chief of staff after the 1994 Republican victory, agreed: "My fear is that the Democrats after 12 years of trench warfare and a pretty rough time -- these people are pretty battle-scarred from that -- basically come out and seek vengeance for everything that's taken place. If they do that, I think they make a pretty big mistake because the public will say, 'These guys are no different than Tom DeLay and his crowd.' "

Others doubt the Democrats would make that mistake. Former House majority leader Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.), who squared off against Panetta in that era, said Democrats would be in better shape to transition from opposition to governing than his Republicans were in 1994 because enough seasoned veterans are still around, such as Rep. John D. Dingell (Mich.).

"The best Democrats, people like Dingell, on oversight have a tendency to say, 'Let's get into the programs and see how they work and how they could be better,' " he said. "That's healthy oversight. . . . They may stay away from political oversight looking for scandals and stay with programmatic oversight. They do it well and they may want to play against expectations."

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