Download | Play Download | Play (h/t Heather)Gosh, who needs campaign surrogates when the mainstream media will only too gladly suffice? Tom Brokaw continues in his role as Republican concern troll by citing an anonymous email from a military man (who is “not crazy” about McCain, natch; that only increases the credibility, right?) objecting to Biden’s crack yesterday about [...]
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I'm here with my beautiful wife for the Host Committee's kickoff party for this historic week. We're watching an amazing show while a looming thunderstorm lights up downtown Denver.
Mayor Hickenlooper opened the show welcoming everyone to Denver. He was followed up by the show's creator Laurie David who introduced Sheryl Crow.
Crow opened the show with her song "God Bless This Mess" and played for about 30 minutes. She dedicated "Strong Enough" to Obama and Biden.
There's no better place to see a show than Red Rocks. Up next is Sugarland followed by Dave Matthews.
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With the Democratic convention opening tomorrow, and just over two months left until Election Day, it seems to be a good time to take stock of the current Senate races around the country, and provide a baseline for what to expect as the general-election campaigns begin in earnest.
If the election were held today, Democrats would win five Republican-held seats, in Virginia, New Mexico, Alaska, New Hampshire and Colorado. They would also hold the only two Democratic-held seats considered even slightly vulnerable, in Louisiana and New Jersey. This would give the Democratic Party a total of 56 Senate seats controlled, including Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman.
Following is a breakdown of each competitive race at the moment, ranked according to Democratic chances in the state, and rated on the conventional scale of "Safe Democratic" to "Safe Republican".
Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana: No surprise here. Republicans had casually targeted four long-serving Democratic senators in these states - Tom Harkin in Iowa, John Kerry in Massachusetts, Carl Levin in Michigan, and Max Baucus in Montana. They've come up with no competitive races out of the four.
Virginia (OPEN-R): Virginia's race, however, was considered at least somewhat competitive for a long time. However, for the past month, Swing State Project has ranked this race as "Safe Democratic", and frankly, it is difficult to disagree with their analysis.
Pollster's average puts Democratic candidate Mark Warner's edge at a whopping 25 points. This is a margin every bit as wide as many seasoned incumbents have against no-hoper candidates (like Kerry in Massachusetts, or Levin in Michigan, or Jeff Sessions in Alabama).
Governor Warner enjoyed a cash-on-hand advantage of nearly $5 million at the end of the second quarter over his Republican rival, Jim Gilmore. Absent some kind of horrendous scandal, there's no way Gilmore will have the resources to catch Warner.
New Jersey (Lautenberg - D incumbent): This remains a "race to watch", but it appears that incumbent Democratic Senator Frank R. Lautenberg has taken command of New Jersey's Senate race. Pollster's average indicates a 13-point lead for the four-term Senator, a margin larger than any of the margins of victory in his previous elections.
New Jersey polling can be notoriously deceptive, but Lautenberg's advantage - and proven electoral viability - work strongly in his favor. New Jersey has not elected a Republican to the Senate since 1972, largely thanks to Lautenberg. The GOP has also nominated much, much stronger candidates than current nominee Dick Zimmer, whose last major race was his 1996 Senate loss to Robert Torricelli. Finally, Lautenberg sported a 3-1 cash advantage over Zimmer at last filing. It's difficult to see Zimmer, a candidate with limited appeal and resources - finding a way to beat Lautenberg.
Alaska (Stevens - R incumbent): At this point, the only thing that can save indicted Alaska Republican Ted Stevens is an acquittal at his September 24 trial. Orange to Blue candidate Mark Begich, the Democratic Mayor of Anchorage, now sports an impressive 18-point lead over Stevens, per Pollster's average. His leads over Stevens' primary opponents are even wider, and since April, Begich has been outraising Stevens quite substantially.
It's unlikely that Stevens will lose his primary, and almost certain that he will not remove his name from the ballot if he wins (thus enabling the GOP to nominate a potentially stronger candidate).
I do not expect Stevens' reelect numbers to remain mired in the thirties, as they are now. Still, Begich has evidently taken control of this race, and he is sufficiently popular in his own right that he should be able to maintain his advantage over the coming months. Stevens is an Alaska institution and a 40-yar incumbent, but an outright acquittal may be the only thing to save his bacon. And even an acquittal may not be enough.
New Mexico (OPEN - R): The last poll on this race was the closest we've seen pretty much all cycle, and even that poll showed Democrat Tom Udall with a double-digit lead (with leaners excluded) over Republican Steve Pearce.
That poll, by Rasmussen, may well be an outlier. Even if it is not, Udall still enjoys a healthy 15-point lead via Pollster's average, and has a large cash advantage - nearly $3 million at the end of Q2, to Pearce's $500K.
Udall has been hit by a series of negative ads lately, both from Pearce's campaign, and the notorious right-wing nutjobs at the Club for Growth. So there's some reason to expect that Rasmussen's latest poll, even if it is not dead-on, speaks to a tightening race. But whether or not the race is tightening - and there's no reason to expect it wouldn't, at some point - there's no good reason yet to remove this race from the "Likely Democratic" column.
New Hampshire (Sununu - R incumbent): Save for one poll in December 2007 (an ARG poll, at that), Democratic former Governor Jeanne Shaheen has led in every single poll commissioned since before she entered the race against Republican Sen. John Sununu.
Shaheen has frequently enjoyed a double-digit lead, with the incumbent Sununu consistently mired at or below 45% reelect - obviously terrible numbers for an incumbent. Indeed, Pollster's average shows Shaheen leading by nearly eleven points.
So why is the race "Leans Democratic" and not "Likely?" First, Sununu enjoyed a cash advantage of nearly $3 million as of last filing. Second, one can expect third-party organizations to target this race hard, including the NRSC if they have the resources. Sununu is a very good vote for the GOP considering he hails from a slightly Democratic-leaning state, and they'll be eager to keep him around.
Third, New Hampshire is a difficult state to poll, and there's some reason to believe the race might be closer than the polling average indicates. Most of the polls showing Shaheen with a huge lead come from either Rasmussen, or the unreliable ARG.
Nevertheless, Sununu's inability to climb above 45%, as an incumbent, is a clear indicator that the race leans Shaheen's way.
Louisiana (Landrieu - D incumbent): This is, and has been, the hottest race featuring a Democratic incumbent for the entire cycle. Sen. Mary Landrieu has generally earned favorable marks in an increasingly Republican state, but she has won two Senate elections by the very skin of her teeth, and seems to be perpetually endangered.
Republicans were initially excited about their recruit, former Democratic State Treasurer John Kennedy, who ran as a Democrat for the Senate in 2004. Several polls favorable for Kennedy indicated that he would have a strong chance against Landrieu (though only Zogby's dubious polling ever gave Kennedy a lead).
In Rasmussen's latest poll, however, Landrieu has opened up a substantial lead, 56% to 39%. This is perhaps due to a series of excellent anti-Kennedy ads from the Landrieu campaign, such as this one, and this one.
That's one poll, of course, and it may well be an outlier. However, this race would have been considered "Leans Democratic" even prior to this latest poll. Landrieu has maintained a polling edge over Kennedy through the race, and had $3 million more to spend at last filing. If the latest polling result is confirmed, it may merit moving this race up. If it isn't, LA-Sen should stay right where it is.
Colorado (OPEN-R): There's little to report in Colorado's Senate race, frankly. Polling has been remarkably consistent so far, giving Democrat Mark Udall a significant, if not overwhelming lead, anywhere from three to ten points but usually around six points.
Pollster's average pegs the race at Udall 47%, Schaffer 41%. That dovetails pretty well with the ranking of "Leans Democratic". Udall would win the race if it were held today, but nothing is certain for November.
Republican candidate Bob Schaffer has been mired in every kind of scandal imaginable since the beginning of the race. Schaffer is an old Abramoff pal, and a business associate of a felon convicted of defrauding the government. He's managed to weather them all pretty well, up to this point.
We'll see if Udall gets any bounce from the Democratic convention, which will obviously be held in his state of Colorado.
Mississippi (Wicker-R incumbent): This race could have been considered a tossup until fairly recently; most of the polling on the race indicated a dead heat, with Wicker and Democratic candidate Ronnie Musgrove trading statistically insignificant leads.
Rasmussen's last two polls, with leaners included, have given a nine-point edge to the Republican incumbent. The race is much closer without leaners included, and the last non-Rasmussen poll - a Research 2000 poll for Daily Kos, taken roughly a month ago - showed a deadlock at Wicker 45%, Musgrove 44%.
Wicker's got the money advantage, although as Mississippi is a relatively cheap state in which to advertise, third-party spending from the DSCC or other groups could be a major factor here.
Due to a few factors - the DSCC's cash edge over the NRSC, the prospect of unprecedented black turnout in Mississippi due to Obama's candidacy, and Musgrove's superior abilities on the stump - I'm still optimistic about this race. Swing State Project's James L. is not as sanguine as I am, writing:
I don't mean to be a Debbie Downer here, but Musgrove has some serious challenges -- most seriously, a recent guilty plea from a business executive who admitted that he attempted to bribe Musgrove with a $25,000 campaign contribution in connection to a failed beef plant project -- an unsuccessful business venture that left Mississippi taxpayers carrying the tab in 2003.
Now, there's no evidence of any wrongdoing on Musgrove's part, but this is clearly the type of smoke and mirrors game that the GOP will love to exploit. I'm not saying that this race is undoable, but it's going to take an extraordinary amount of sweat.
It's difficult to argue with that analysis, but I'd still place the race as "Leans Republican", and slightly ahead of similarly tiered races in North Carolina, Oregon and Minnesota.
North Carolina (Dole-R incumbent): The recent trend in this state has been strongly in favor of Democratic challenger Kay Hagan, as she seeks to take out incumbent Senator Elizabeth Dole. Three successive polls have put the race within five points, after a June advertising blitz jumped Dole's numbers significantly.
Dole has been hit by several third-party ads of late, including the DSCC's masterful "Rocking Chairs" ad. Meanwhile, Hagan is up on the air with her own ads, both of them positive ads aimed at raising her profile and favorability statewide.
The worst news for Dole, however, is that she can't count on the NRSC to save her bacon. After reserving $6 million in ad time across the state, the NRSC wound up dropping that reservation, and it appears that Dole will have to fend largely for herself in this race (even as the DSCC strongly backs Hagan).
Dole has proven to be a largely ineffective Senator, and as 2006 NRSC chair she was generally useless as a fundraiser and strategist. The NRSC leaving her to her own devices is awfully bad news for the Senator.
Oregon (Smith-R incumbent): This race has been "Lean Republican" for quite some time. Democratic candidate Jeff Merkley is steadily gaining on Republican incumbent Gordon Smith, with Pollster's average pegging the race at 49% for Smith, 42% for Merkley.
Merkley's campaign has really rounded into form over the last several months, with Merkley enjoying a truly impressive fundraising quarter in Q@, when he outraised Smith. While Merkley still trails by single digits, the recent strength of his campaign and Oregon's Democratic tilt give him a reasonable shot at knocking off the incumbent.
Minnesota (Coleman-R incumbent): After a few rough months, DFL candidate Al Franken's campaign has shown recent signs of life, with Pollster now giving Republican incumbent Norm Coleman a six-point edge.
Franken's recent campaign staff shakeup has resulted in a harder-edged campaign, with his most recent ads going on the offensive against Coleman. Coleman's own recent ethical problems have also served to bring his numbers down somewhat.
Coleman is still an exceptionally canny politician and fundraiser, as well as a first-class fundraiser. Still, with recent trends favoring the Democrat, and the polling relatively close, this race should remain "Leans Republican".
Maine (Collins-R incumbent): This has always been a difficult slog for Democrat Tom Allen, as he faces one of the Senates most popular Republicans in incumbent Susan Collins. Initially, many hoped that Maine's blue tint would be enough to carry the day for Allen, as it helped Sheldon Whitehouse defeat well-liked incumbent Lincoln Chafee in 2006.
This hasn't proven to be the case. Allen had made steady, if slow, progress in polling results until recently, but as Pollster indicates, his numbers seem to have flatlined in the low-to-mid 40s, with Collins' own numbers consistently in the low-to-mid 50s.
There's still time for Allen to catch up, and the DSCC has reserved fully $5 million of ad time in the state, indicating their belief in Allen and their commitment to the race. Allen himself is on the air with a strong initial ad, and that should help his numbers somewhat (there has been no polling since Allen's ad went up).
Kentucky (McConnell-R incumbent): Kentucky is the first in a troika of "Likely Republican" races (along with Georgia and Oklahoma) that all bear some similarity to each other. Each race is in a Republican-leaning state (albeit to different degrees in each case), featuring a supreme Republican villain facing a surprisingly strong Democratic challenger.
In this case, the villain is none other than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Democrat Bruce Lunsford has run a strong race, but is still something of the David in this race to McConnell's Goliath (despite Lunsford's formidable financial resources). McConnell, one of the best fundraisers the GOP has, has a war chest fit for a small country, and sports a consistent 10-12 point polling lead.
McConnell is also one of the canniest and most ruthless GOP Senators out there, making a difficult battle for Lunsford. Still, Lunsford's wealth and aggressive campaign put this race slightly ahead of Georgia and Oklahoma.
Georgia (Chambliss-R incumbent): This race is firmly on the radar for the first time all cycle, as not only have Democrats nominated their strongest candidate in former state legislator Jim Martin, but two successive polls have come out showing Martin trailing incumbent Saxby Chambliss by single digits.
Chambliss has considerable advantages in the race - he is reasonably popular in Georgia, though not overwhelmingly so, and he has vast financial resources with which to hammer Martin over the next two months.
Still, the numbers indicate that this is a competitive race right now, and Martin's own fundraising has been quite respectable considering that he got into the race very late. In addition, the DSCC is evidently watching this race, and should be able to help Martin out on the financial end, should he remain competitive.
OK-Sen (Inhofe-R incumbent): Few states are more inhospitable to Democrats than Oklahoma. Fortunately, few young candidates are as impressive as Orange to Blue candidate Andrew Rice, and few incumbent Senators are as thoroughly ridiculous and unpleasant as Republican Sen. James Inhofe.
Rice started this race as a serious underdog, but his strong campaign has pulled the previously little-known state Senator to within single digits of 14-year incumbent Inhofe, according to a poll commissioned by the DSCC.
Inhofe still has a considerable cash advantage, not to mention a name recognition advantage. And a nine-point polling deficit with two months to go is not insignificant. However, if that poll is accurate - and there's little reason to suggest it isn't, as the DSCC's previous polling was directly in line with independent polling done around the same time - Rice has a fighting chance to be the first Democratic senator from Oklahoma since David Boren retired.
Races To Watch
Idaho (OPEN-R): The most recent poll on this race, by Research 2000 for Daily Kos, gave Republican Jim Risch a mere 10-point advantage over Democrat Larry LaRocco. If another poll comes out confirming the previous result, it will justify moving this race to "Likely Republican".
Idaho has traditional been uber-Republican territory; Bush pulled 69% of the vote there in 2006. LaRocco was the last Democrat elected to Congress from the state, when he served as the First District's Representative from 1991 to 1995. LaRocco has faced Risch twice before, having lost badly in 2006 in the Lieutenant Governor's race.
However, Risch has to deal with a very well-funded independent challenge from the right in the person of wealthy rancher Rex Rammell. If he is in fact leading by only 10, with just 42% of the vote, LaRocco may have a chance at a shocking upset.
Texas (Cornyn-R incumbent): Orange to Blue candidate Rick Noriega has stayed relatively close in polling to Republican Sen. John Cornyn, a certain and unmistakable indicator of Cornyn's vulnerability.
Noriega's problem is fundraising; he reported less than $1 million in the bank as of Q2 filings, in one of the most expensive states in the country in which to advertise. Cornyn sports nearly ten times the cash that Noriega has, enough money to bury him going forward.
Cornyn's seeming inability to climb above 50% in polling keep this on the list of races to watch.
Nebraska (OPEN-R): Democratic candidate Scott Kleeb has proven an excellent fundraiser, outraising former Governor Mike Johanns, his Republican opponent, in the second quarter. Kleeb is a personally appealing candidate as well, on several levels; he proved his political skill in 2006 when he ran a highly competitive race in Nebraska's Third District, one of the reddest in the nation.
Kleeb's problem is Johanns' popularity in Nebraska. Johanns maintains a significant polling edge - he has pulled 55% to 60% in every poll on the race so far, while Kleeb has topped out at 40% and generally been mired in the low 30s.
Kansas: For a while, it seemed as though this might provide a solid flanking race for the party, as Democrat Jim Slattery was consistently polling within 10-12 points of Republican incumbent Pat Roberts.
Unfortunately, Roberts has regained momentum, having hammered Slattery in TV ads running statewide, and now polls roughly 20 points ahead of Slattery on average. Slattery's fundraising has been quite good, but he's got a tough hill to climb.
Events at the Big Tent in Denver kick off with a live, town hall forum all about change. With Van Jones, Jim Hightower, Donna Edwards, Faye Wattleton, David Sirota, and Polly Baca .. Wish you could be there? You can: Watch the LIVE STREAM right here,[...]
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The Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) and the Obama for America campaign announced today that two prominent Republicans will address the Democratic National Convention on Monday, August 25, 2008 and Tuesday, August 26, 2008. Former United States Congressman Jim Leach and Fairbanks Alaska Mayor Jim Whitaker will speak about Barack Obama's record of bringing Republicans, Independents and Democrats together to bring change and his vision for unifying our country
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Charlie Savage has an article in today's New York Times focusing on the politicization of the civil service process that selects the nation's immigration judges. The use of a political litmus test for the conservatism of Department of Justice applicants[...]
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I heard someone say with respect to Senator Joe Biden,
The mere fact that people discuss "race" is not evidence that they are "racists".
This topic of "race" is very convoluted , since we all agree that, as a biological matter, "race" doesn't exist in the first place. It's very difficult to have a meaningful discussion about something that we all agree does not exist in the first place. It's like asking, "How abominable is the abominable snow man?" If the abominable snow man does not exist, will we ever be able to reach general agreement about whether he is abominable or not? Since "race" does not exist, how can we know if any given person is a "racist"?
I think anyone who uses the word "race", regardless of the skin color of the person who does so, is a proponent of or an enabler of the idea that humans can be divided neatly up into meaningful biological groups based on the color of our skin. Among the most "racist" people alive are those who keep "racist" alive by ostensibly fighting against "racism" while continuing to use linguistic terms that presume the existence of "race" itself.
"Race" does not exist. It is the most debated biological concept that has no basis in biology. Why not divide us by height or eye color, hair color or distance between our eyes? Fact is, biological "race" is a fallacious and arbitrary concept that has no meaning except in the proponents' minds, and I call those proponents "racists", regardless of what their color is. In my opinion, if you believe in socialism you are a "socialist"; If you believe in "race", you are a "racist."
Now some Black people and whites readily admit that "race" doesn't exist as a biological matter, but they nonetheless insist on using the word to refer to a political concept, insisting that Americans are intelligent enough to know the difference. Since when have Americans been so intelligent?
This to me, is like insisting that I can call my wife "my bitch" in a positive way, and everyone will be intelligent enough to know that I am using the word in a loving rather than derogatory way. And therefore, because I use the phrase "my bitch" in a positive way, I can know with certainty that I will not give license, political and linguistic cover to those who regularly use the term in a negative way.
The truth is that if I called my wife "my bitch" for any reason, I would be giving cover to those who use the word in a derogatory fashion for the purposes of denigrating all women, particularly Black women. And so, like the word "race", I can't afford to use the term "my bitch" at all, for any reason. The social, political and linguistic costs are just too high.
Similarly, if I use the word "race" for ANY REASON, I give cover to those who use the word to propagate the belief that human beings can be divided into meaningful biological groups based on skin color. So, if you hate hearing the phrase "my bitch", then you should also consider abandoning the phrase "my race," regardless of what your own skin color is.
Now, when Biden makes statements that are clearly referencing people's skin color and/or ethnicity, there can be no doubt but that those statements are aroused by his perception of others skin color and /or ethnicity, as well as his learned ideation, emotion and behavior aroused by the perception of others' skin color or ethnicity.
We have a legitimate interest in what the Democratic vice presidential candidate's ideation, emotion and behavior are with respect to skin color and ethnicity. That's what I am interested in, and I'm not about to be side-tracked into the tangential and philosophical question of his beliefs about whether "race" exists or not. I just want to know what his ideation, emotion and behavior are with respect to Blacks (and Latinos), regardless of whether he believes in the existence of "races" or not.
It is possible to believe in the existence of "races" and to believe that all "races" are equal and should be treated alike. It is also possible to understand that "races" do not exist, but to still advocate for the denigration, subjugation exploitation and oppression of Black people simply because it gives white people a leg up.
So, let's stop discussing who is a "racist" and focus on candidates ideation, emotion and behavior with respect to their own skin color and the skin color and ethnicity of others, regardless of what they (and we) believe about "race." Everyone whose language presumes the existence of "race" is a "racist."
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The Democratic primaries were tough, no doubt. All of us had friends who were fiercely supporting Clinton or Obama. Friendships were strained -- and the subject often wasn't even discussed. Now, those wounds have largely healed. But, I've recently been made aware that one relationship hadn't quite been patched up. That would be the one between Oprah Winfrey and one of her top fans who is also my very good friend/Clinton supporter Emily Giske. But, on the eve of the convention where both Oprah and Emily will be in attendance, even that one's been fixed according to Emily's post over at Huffington. It's pretty funny:
I have watched, taped or tivo'd the Oprah Show for decades, I have lived my best life with her, Have had Aha moments and have consulted her magazine and web site. Oprah helped me figure out if I was in a good relationship or not -- on a regular basis.Oprah must be relieved. And, this is a sign that the healing is pretty much complete -- just in time for the convention. The great thing about Emily's post is it sounds just like her -- and she means it (even though she doesn't really know Oprah.) Emily has cracked me up for almost 25 years. Love her.
While Oprah had her hometown hero, I was and still am a HUGE fan/supporter of Hillary, New York's favorite daughter. I would watch each primary night like other folks watch the play-offs and the superbowl and my heart was broken in June when it was all over.
So I stopped watching Oprah. I partly blamed her. For six months I refused to think about her. Right before Super Tuesday when I saw Oprah, Gayle and their new pals Michelle, Maria and New York's own Caroline campaigning I turned off the TV and deprogrammed my TiVo.
Now I am in Denver. I know Oprah might be here so I have to face the situation head on.
It is two months since the end of the primaries and I am still a Hillary fan. I always will be. But it is time to take our country back. I know I will cry Tuesday night when she speaks....I will always be proud of the eighteen million cracks on the glass ceiling.
Supporting Obama was easy. I am a Democrat. But, making up with Oprah has been a different story -- but I am ready to move on.
When I see Oprah in Denver I want her to know there are no hard feelings. She did what she thought was best for her country, just like I did. But we are on the same team now. Oprah, Gayle Michelle (especially Michelle) and me. It has to be the winning team.
So when I see Oprah I will let her know...she is back on my TiVo.
Around 6 local time, twisters were reported just southeast of Denver.
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We know from the DCW Schedule (left sidebar) that Ted Kennedy is slated to appear by video tomorrow night. ABC has it that if he can get a final approval from his docs, he'll be there in person.
In a development that is sure to bring the house down, US Senator Edward M. Kennedy is expected to attend the Democratic National Convention, most likely to deliver a speech tomorrow night.