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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Debate over country song is a right-wing trap for Democrats.

The debate over the song “Try That in a Small Town” is an excellent example of a particularly devious right-wing extremist trap – one that the GOP will use against Democrats again and again in 2024. Dems need to understand what the trap is designed to accomplish, how it works and how to defend against it.

Read the Memo.

A Democratic Political Strategy for Reaching Working Class Voters That Starts from the Actual “Class Consciousness” of Modern Working Americans.

by Andrew Levison

Read the Memo

Progressives need to apologize to Oliver Anthony

He understands working people better than they do, he can talk to them better than they can.

Read the Memo.

Why Don’t Working People Recognize and Appreciate Democratic Programs and Policies

The mythology of “Franklin Roosevelt’s Hundred Days” and the Modern Debate Over “Deliverism.”

Read the Memo.

Innovative Study Offers New Insight into White Working Class Voters.

Innovative Study Provides Startling New Insight About Working Class Voters
By Andrew Levison

Read the memo.

Democrats Will Lose Elections in 2022 and 2024 if They do Not Offer a Plausible Strategy for Reducing the Surge of Immigrants at the Border.

Read on…

The Daily Strategist

September 24, 2023

State of the Race: Final Update

by Ruy Teixeira
(cross-posted at www.washingtonmonthly.com/showdown06)
The blizzard of polls released over the weekend and today suggest some tightening of the race, but do not appear to fundamentally alter the assessment I offered five days ago in my last update. Tuesday should still be a very good day for the Democrats.
Start with Bush’s approval rating. Taking the latest polls into account, Charles Franklin’s trend-based estimate now stands at 38 percent. Pretty bad for the incumbent party.
Turning to the generic congressional ballot, confusion abounds, so let me try to separate signal from noise as best I can.
There have been seven polls released in the last couple of days. Here are the results for likely voters (LVs):
CNN (Fri-Sun): +20D
Newsweek (Thu-Fri): +16D
Time (Wed-Fri): +15D
Fox (Sat-Sun): +13D
USA Today/Gallup (Thu-Sun): +7D
ABC News/Washington Post (Wed-Sat): +6D
Pew (Wed-Sat): +4D
Quite a spread! And here are the same polls, this time for registered voters (RVs):
CNN (Fri-Sun): +15D
Newsweek (Thu-Fri): +16D
Time (Wed-Fri): +15D
Fox (Sat-Sun): no RV data
USA Today/Gallup (Thu-Sun): +11D
ABC News/Washington Post (Wed-Sat): +10D
Pew (Wed-Sat): +8D
Somewhat closer together, but still a fair amount of variation.
Here are some observations on these data that may help make sense of them.
1. Charles Franklin’s trend-based estimate (which actually doesn’t include the most recent two polls, CNN (+20D) and Fox (+13D)) still estimates the Democratic advantage at 11 points.
2. The average LV Democratic advantage in these 7 polls is around 12 points. The average RV Democratic advantage is around 13 points. Still very good in either case.
3. Note that, reflecting the widely varying methodologies these pollsters use, the relation between RVs and LVs in these polls varies widely. Some (CNN) have the Democratic advantage among LVs actually larger than among RVs; some have it exactly the same (Time, Newsweek); and some have it smaller (Pew, Post, Gallup–interestingly by exactly the same 4 point margin).
4. Of course, it is entirely possible that some of these pollsters’ LV methodologies are better than others. And there are certainly reasons to be skeptical that Democrats will actually manage a double digit lead in the popular Congressional ballot on election day. So let’s say that, for example, Gallup has it about right–and they do have a good track record in the last several offyear elections.
Well, as Gallup points out, a seven point lead ain’t chopped liver. Here’s some of what they have to say:

Gallup has modeled the number of seats a party will control based on that party’s share of the national two-party vote for the House of Representatives using historical voting data in midterm elections from 1946 to 2002. The model takes into account structural factors such as the party of the president and the majority party in Congress entering the elections. The results suggest that a party needs at least a two percentage-point advantage in the national House vote to win a majority of the 435 seats. Based on this historical analysis, the Democrats’ seven-point margin suggests they will win a large enough share of the national vote to have a majority of the seats in the next Congress.
More specifically, taking the final survey’s margin of error into account, the model predicts that the Democrats could gain anywhere from 11 seats on the low end to 58 seats on the high end — with 35 seats being the most likely number. Given that Democrats need to gain just 15 seats to wrest control from Republicans, a Democratic takeover appears likely.

5. Some of the variation in the LV samples is no doubt due to varying estimates of how many Democrats vs. how many Republicans are projected to be in the voting electorate. Pew, which gives the Democrats the smallest estimated lead, has Democrats and Republicans at parity among likely voters. Gallup gives the Democrats a 2 point edge in representation among LVs. And Fox, whose estimated Dem lead among LVs is very close to the average of all these polls, gives the Democrats a 4 point representation edge.
It will be interesting to see on election day who’s got that part of equation right.
6. Turning to independents, even in the Pew poll, independents are giving the Democrats a 10 point advantage. Gallup and Fox have independents voting Democratic by 15 and Newsweek has the margin at 25. This will be an important data point to track and indicates, even at the low end of this range, the Democrats will be well-served by high turnout of independents in this particular election. To remind folks once more of the historical context on the independent vote:

As far back as I can get data (1982), the Democrats have never had a lead among independents larger than 4 points in an actual election, a level they managed to achieve in both 1986 and 1990. Indeed, since 1990, they’ve lost independents in every congressional election: by 14 points in 1994; by 4 points in 1998; and by 2 points in 2002.

So this election could represent quite a turning point in this pattern.
As for the race by race data, not a great deal has changed since my last post five days ago. For example, the Bafumi-Erikson-Wlezien seat shift model, which forecasts the level of seat shifts through computer simulations of the 435 individual House contests, looks like it would produce about the same result today as it did two weeks ago (a 32 seat Dem gain), if I’m understanding the inputs into their model correctly. (This is very similar to Alan Abramowitz’ forecasting model–not based on computer simulations–which calls for a Democratic pickup of 29 seats).
Also, Democracy Corps has released their final survey of 50 competitive Republican House districts and they’re showing a slightly compressed, but still impressive, 5 point Democratic lead in the named Congressional ballot in these districts. Note also, that the DCorps survey shows the Democrats with a 16 lead among independents in these districts.
Majortity Watch has not done any new polls, so nothing to report there. Over at Pollster.com, where Mark Blumenthal and Charles Franklin collect all the available public polling on all the House races their current scorecard assigns 219 seats to the Democrats with 29 tossups. Assuming the Democrats and Republicans split the tossups, that would bring the Democratic total to 233 seats–a gain of 30 seats over where they now stand.
Over in nonpartisan pundit-land, Charlie Cook is holding steady in his prediction of a 20-35 seat Democratic pickup (let’s pick the midpoint and call it 28 seats). Stuart Rothenberg has the Democratic gain between 30 and 36 seats (let’s call it 33). And Larry Sabato has the Democratic gain pegged at 29 seats.
You know, I think I’m beginning to detect a pattern here. It will be interesting to see how it all turns out when the real world talks back.
Turning to the Senate, the latest Pollster.com 5-poll averages show the Democrats up by 6 in NJ and 4 points in MD, the two seats the Republicans have been given some chance of picking up. And they are leading by 1,3,13,6,12 and 2 points, respectively in MO, MT, OH, RI, PA and VA. Thus, figuring strictly on the basis of these data, one would see the Democrats picking up six seats, but with agonizing nail-biters in at least MO and possibly also in VA and MT.
Of course, several of these races are so close in the polls, one can hardly pronounce with a huge degree of confidence that the Democrats will, in fact, get their six seats. But it certainly seems like a reasonable possibility. Checking our nonpartisan pundits, it’s worth noting that both Rothenberg and Sabato see the Democrats getting the six seat pickup. Cook is more circumspect, calling for a 4-6 seat Democratic pickup.
Well, that’s it for the updating. On to the biggest poll of ’em all: election day!

November Polls: Dems’ Average Lead in Double Digits

Democrats are ahead by an average of over 11.5 percent in the seven major polls taken in November of LV party preferences in generic ballot congressional races. The breakdown, according to PollingReport.com: CNN +20; Newsweek +16; Time +15; Fox/Opinion Dynamics +13; USA Today/Gallup +7; ABC/Washington Post +6; and Pew Research Center +4.

Will Blue Wave Deliver Senate?

Will the Dems win the Senate? For an insightful analysis, check out Chris Bowers’ MyDD post “Nearly Final Senate Polling Averages.” Bowers provides capsule run-downs of 18 senate races and sees a 4 or 5 seat net pick-up for Dems, falling one or two seats short of the magic number to win a majority. But he says he will have a final post later in the day, which could possibly reflect some new poll information. Want more reason for hope? See the latest Time Magazine Poll. Although the polls have narrowed in several key senate races, the Dems still enjoy a double digit lead in the “enthusiasm gap:”

Republicans may be approaching voting day without one of the big advantages they enjoyed in November 2004 — their ability to motivate supporters to go out and vote. Among registered Democrats polled, 52% say they’re more enthusiastic about voting than usual, compared with just 39% of Republicans. Thirty-seven percent of Republican respondents are less enthusiastic than usual, while only 29% of Democrats feel that way.

The Time Poll also reports a very substantial defection of evangelicals favoring Dems and significant gains for Dems among both men and women. Also Larry Sabato predicts Dems will win a Senate majority with a net six seat gain, but hedges a little calling it “our least confident prediction.”

Sunday Wrap-Ups: Blue Tide Still Rising

The Sunday before election day is a good time to see how the top political beat reporters for major newspapers see the election shaping up, and after all of the cautionary notes have been sounded, the consensus among the big three is to expect good news for Democrats.
Ron Brownstein gets the nod for best Sunday pre-election wrap-up in the major rags with a pair of L.A. Times articles “Voters in center may get their say” and “Democrats straining for knockout punch.” In the first piece Brownstein explores the theme that Democrats are pulling ahead because they more aggressively fought for swing voters in the political center, while the GOP has been preoccupied with shoring up its base. Perhaps the nut quote comes from former NRCC Chairman Thomas Davis III (R-VA):

…[the message] is going to be that swing voters still count, and sometimes the more you cater to your base, the more you turn off swing voters

Some Democratic poll analysts think this could be an understatement. “I think their whole model is going to lay shattered in pieces,” says Democratic strategist Stan Greenberg.
Brownstein cites some impressive poll data showing Dems with a double-digit lead among independents:

a compilation of more than 41,000 automated survey interviews conducted last week in competitive congressional districts from coast to coast, the nonpartisan Majority Watch project found that independents preferred Democratic candidates over Republicans by 52% to 39%.

In his second article, Brownstein zeros in on the see-saw Missouri senate race, which may decide whether Democrats win a majority in the U.S. Senate and which he believes has evolved into the marquee contest for Tuesday:

The 15-round struggle between Talent and McCaskill has been the heavyweight title fight of 2006. Each has proved skilled, resourceful and resilient, able to land a punch and take one. The winner will have earned his or her ticket to Washington and the opportunity to tilt the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.

Dan Balz and David Broder provide a by-the-numbers tour of races across the nation in their WaPo wrap-up “Democrats, on the Offensive, Could Gain Both Houses,” and note an even larger lead for Dems among independents (18 percent) in the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll. The New York Times leads with “G.O.P. Glum as It Struggles to Hold Congress” by Adam Nagourney and Robin Toner, focusing on the voter turnout battle and races getting late cash infusions from the parties. Three days out, things are looking extremely good.

A Note on Thomas Riehle’s Piece

by Scott Winship
As part of our new pre-election issue, we commissioned a piece by RT Strategies’s Thomas Riehle, a long-time Democrat and respected pollster. While his piece was primarily about the kinds of new voters who will be added to the Democratic coalition after the elections, many readers objected to Riehle’s characterization of the netroots in a tangential point toward the end of the piece. For critiques, see the discussion section at the end of the piece.
The editors and I want to emphasize that The Democratic Strategist does not endorse the positions taken by its contributors — it is a forum for diverse perspectives throughout the Democratic community. In addition, we are adamantly committed to empiricism to the greatest extent possible. That said, it is impossible to write a meaningful commentary without going beyond the data in any way. It will always be necessary to extrapolate, speculate, and make inferences.
As managing editor, I retrospectively realize that I should have asked Riehle to elaborate on his argument about the strategies advocated by the netroots and by “old-timers” prior to publication. The question now is, given my oversight, what is the appropriate course of action. Were Riehle’s argument indefensible, the answer would be — as a number of commenters have called for — a retraction.
I have chosen a different approach. Thomas Riehle strongly believes — as do we– that his claim is defensible. Taking advantage of the magazine’s web-based medium, Riehle has provided a good-faith response to his critics in the discussion section to his piece, which will be appended to his piece in a note for future readers. In it, he reiterates and extends the credit he gave the netroots in his piece for their early advocacy of expanding the playing field. At the same time, he defends the limited assertion he made that it was “old-timers” who were the first unwavering advocates that the Party widen the ’06 election to take advantage of a late electoral wave. The editors and I, while not necessarily agreeing with him, believe that Riehle’s comments clarify that his point is not one that is simply patently false. Of course, we are also committed to airing all of the views we receive on his argument, as the tough-but-reasonable criticisms in the discussion section attest to.
To the extent that I could have avoided or mitigated this controversy by asking Riehle to elaborate his point before we published the piece, I personally apologize to our readers and to Riehle. The magazine believes the approach we have chosen is the most appropriate one. I expect that many readers will air their disagreement in comments to this post and to Riehle’s, and that is all to the best, as I know Riehle would agree.
One final thought from me, removing my official managing editor hat and donning my independent blogger cap. It is disheartening when people representing one side or another in Democratic debates — and both the Establishment and the netroots include guilty parties — impute ill motives to their opponents, who they generally do not personally know. The view that Thomas Riehle is on another planet when it comes to understanding the netroots — whether I agree with it or not — is defensible. Absent supporting evidence, the view that he is trying to steal credit from the netroots on behalf of the Establishment is not. This sort of accusation of bad faith happens on both sides, but our efforts to come together as a Party are not served by such claims.

State of the Race Update III: Six Days to Go!

by Ruy Teixeira
cross-posted at the Washington Monthly’s Showdown ’06 blog
When I last checked in about the state of the race–about ten days ago–things looked pretty good for the Democrats. Now they look even better.
Take the generic congressional contest, for example. In the nine polls finished since 10/20 that are listed on PollingReport.com, the Democrats’ average lead is 14 points. That’s huge by historical standards. Democrats haven’t seen these kind of leads this late in an off-year election campaign, since the elections of 1974 and 1982, when they gained 43 and 26 seats respectively.
Of course, the generic congressional contest does not tell you directly about how the myriad individual races will turn out (we’ll get to the race by race data in a moment) so some caution is advised in assessing just what this gaudy lead is likely to mean for the Democrats on election day. But here’s some food for thought. Three political scientists, Joseph Bafumi, Robert Erikson and Christopher Wlezien, have recently released a paper that forecasts the level of seat shifts from the generic congressional vote question, using model-based computer simulations of the 435 individual House contests.
The gruesome methodological details may be found in the paper, but the bottom line is that their simulations predict a 32 seat pickup for the Democrats. As we shall see when we get to the race by race data, this is not such a crazy prediction.
But before we get to the race by race data, let me flag a couple of more things from the national-level data. One is the probable role of independents in this election. As I remarked in my initial post on this blog:

The Democrats are also running even larger leads among independents in the generic Congressional ballot–typically 6-7 points higher than their overall lead…..
With that in mind, consider the following. As far back as I can get data (1982), the Democrats have never had a lead among independents larger than 4 points in an actual election, a level they managed to achieve in both 1986 and 1990. Indeed, since 1990, they’ve lost independents in every congressional election: by 14 points in 1994; by 4 points in 1998; and by 2 points in 2002. So, even leaving questions of relative partisan turnout aside (and I suspect the Democrats will do better, not worse, in this respect in 2006), the implications of a strong Democratic lead among independents in this year’s election, if it holds, are huge.

National polls continue to confirm a very wide lead for Democrats among independent voters. For example, the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll showed the Democrats running an amazing 28 point lead among independents, a finding that was discussed at length in the Post story on the poll. As I have continually stressed–and the mainstream press is now starting to pick up on–the Roveian fire-up-the-base-and-screw-the-middle strategy only works mathematically if losses in the political center can be minimized. Now they can’t and the GOP is likely to pay the price–and very probably not just in this election.
Let me also draw your attention to a very interesting study released by the Pew Research Center that, among other things, compares a wide range of demographic groups’ current voting intentions to their voting intentions at this point in the 2002 campaign. If you read one poll in detail this election cycle, let it be this one. The Pew data show huge swings toward the Democrats among many important voter groups including seniors, middle income voters, non-college educated voters, whites, rural residents, married moms, white Catholics–the list goes on and on. In effect, these shifts have turned yesterday’s swing voters into Democratic groups and many of yesterday’s Republican groups into swing voters.
Turning to the race by race data, polls show an ever-widening number of House seats in play. And, according to data from the Pew Research Center study and from a series of polls from Democracy Corps, Democrats are favored overall by voters in these districts. The latest Democracy Corps analsyis–“Iraq Weakens Republican Hold” is particularly noteworthy, since it shows Democrats making especially good progress in “third tier” competitive GOP seats, where GOP incumbents had the best chances of holding onto their seats. The reason, as the memo’s title implies: Iraq. As more and more voters insist on seeing a change in this area, the fault lines are going deeper and deeper into GOP territory.
The scale of the possible seat shift can be assessed by looking at a number of different sites. A project of RT Strategies and Constituent Dynamics called “Majority Watch” has been polling 60 competitive House districts–55 of which are currently held by Republicans–and currently characterizes 24 of these districts as strong Democratic, 18 as leaning Democratic and 2 ties. Splitting the 2 ties, that indicates a possible Democratic gain of 38 seats (43 wins minus the five seats they already hold in the competitive 60 seats).
Over at Pollster.com, Mark Blumenthal and Charles Franklin look over all the available public polling on House races and assign 222 seats to the Democrats with 25 tossups. Let’s say the Democrats and Republicans split the tossups (though in a wave election like this one, it’s more plausible that these races would break toward the Democrats). That would bring the Democratic total to 234 seats–a gain of 31 seats over where they now stand.
The political scientists’ forecasting model prediction of 32 seats doesn’t see so far-fetched in light of these data. It’s also worth noting that Charlie Cook now predicts Democratic gains of 20-35 seats (with a hedge toward a higher number than 35). Using the midpoint of his range, that would put the Democrat gain at around 28 seats–again, not far off the 32 mark.
Turning to the Senate, the latest Pollster.com 5-poll averages show the Democrats up by 5 in their only truly competive seat (NJ) and leading by 5,6,10 and 11 points, respectively in MT, RI, OH and PA. Then Webb has popped into a 3 point in VA–reversing a deficit to Allen that he had running for a number of weeks. After that, McCaskill-Talent is now dead-even in MO and Ford is down a point to Corker in TN. Therefore, it is possible that the real nail-biter in this election could be MO, if VA does come through for the Dems and Corker manages to hold on against Ford in TN.
So, things look good–very good–for the Democrats. What could turn this situation around for the GOP? At this point, it appears that the GOP is putting its faith overwhelmingly in one factor: turnout. Rev up their 72 hour turnout program they argue and–presto!–many of those Democratic margins will disappear on election day and the Democratic wave won’t amount to much more than a splash.
I am highly skeptical. As I and others have been arguing for awhile, the GOP turnout machine is overrated and is simply not capable of turning defeat into victory in the manner alleged by GOP operatives and apparently believed by many in the press and even some Democrats. In this regard, I strongly recommend reading Mark Mellman’s very nice deconstruction of the GOP turnout myth in today’s edition of The Hill. Read the whole thing, but here’s some of what he has to say:

How much difference can turnout really make? Consider the punishing arithmetic. Take a House race that this year would otherwise be 52-48 Democratic. What would turnout efforts have to achieve to overturn the putative victory?
Use white evangelical Protestants as an example. They comprised 23 percent of the national electorate in both 2000 and 2004, so let’s say they are the same proportion of our imaginary Congressional District. Say the 72-hour program was spectacularly — increasing their turnout by 20 percent while every other segment of the electorate held constant. In that case, evangelicals would constitute 26.4 percent of the electorate.
Assume for the sake of argument they continued to give the GOP the same 78 percent of their votes they gave to George Bush in 2004. Such heroic efforts would still result in a Democratic victory. And if white evangelical Protestants only offered 68 percent of their votes to Republicans, all that work would result in less than a 1-point shift in the vote. And that calculation makes the very unlikely assumption that one side enjoys great success while the other does nothing.
How likely is a 20 percent increase in turnout based on a GOTV effort? The best serious academic estimate is that all the GOTV work in the presidential campaign of 2004 increased turnout not by 20 percent, but by about 3 percent….
Can’t micro-targeting help them achieve spectacular successes? Anyone who has ever modeled data knows there is much more salesmanship than science in Republican claims about these efforts. Our firm and others on the Democratic side have been using these models for half a dozen years or more and we know they can make our efforts much more efficient; expand our GOTV and persuasion universes; and provide message guidance. So when races are otherwise marginal, the lift models provide can make all the difference between winning and losing. But no model is going to turn what would otherwise be a 5-point loss into a victory.
But didn’t the GOP prove its efforts were much more effective than the Democrats’ in 2004? No. Check the data. In Ohio’s base Democratic precincts turnout was 8.2 points higher than it had been in 2000. In base Republican precincts, turnout increased by a slightly lesser 6.1 points. Winning a state is not the same as doing a better job on turnout.
As important as turnout and GOTV efforts can be, the GOP needs to find something more to hold back this wave.

Well said. Readers would be well-advised to keep Mellman’s analysis in mind as they read the press coverage leading up the election and get ready for what should be a very exciting and interesting election night.

Responding to Swift Boat 2

Democratic campaign strategists searching the blogs for tips on how to respond to the GOP’s Swift Boat 2 scam will find plenty of good ideas — if they look in the right places. Here are three for openers:
Start with this short and sweet response from Ohio’s Democratic Senate candidate Sherrod Brown, quoted here in an Associated Press wrap-up:

The people who should apologize are George Bush and Mike DeWine for sending our troops into battle without body armor and without examining the cooked intelligence.

Leftcoaster Steve Soto has an eloquent litany of sharp retorts in his post “Look In The Mirror For Apologies Mr. Bush.” For instance:

As long as the White House is demanding apologies, let’s all get in the spirit. Mr. Bush, you should apologize for making a joke about not finding WMDs, as thousands die in Iraq for your lies. But why stop there?
Mr. Bush, apologize for letting Osama Bin Laden escape at Tora Bora in December 2001, and for encouraging the Pakistanis to back away from Al Qaeda and the Taliban in September in Waziristan.
Mr. Bush, apologize to our troops for sending them into harm’s way through a campaign of lies and public disinformation, and then joking about it as the soldiers died for your mendacity.
Mr. Bush, apologize to our troops for using them in a war that had nothing to do with those who attacked us on 9/11, and for knowing you were lying about this at the time.
…Mr. Bush, apologize to the troops for their inadequate veterans’ benefits, why their families have to go on food stamps, why their families have to send them flak jackets, and why you don’t attend the funerals of those killed in action.

And do check Simon Rosenberg’s perceptive take at the New Democratic Network’s NDN Blog. The whole thing is very good, but we’ll just offer a sample here:

Within several hours of John Kerry’s slip of the tongue, the President of the United States, the leader of the free world, found time to rush to the mikes to somehow, perhaps, to change the subject from how badly they’ve botched just about everything.
As James Carville said “Kerry may have blown a joke. Bush has blown a war.”
I’m not really worried about the Kerry remark. Yes the right-wing spin machine will grab and toss it hard into the debate. Yes the news organizations will oblige, and pick it up for a day or so. But at the end of the day, the uncommon good sense of the common people will prevail. For they have already decided that this election will not be about nothing, but will be about the future of our country.

It rocks on, so read it all.

Will Women Ride Blue Wave to Power?

There are no polls that specifically address which party is ahead in all races in the 50 state legislatures. But it seems reasonable to assume that Democratic candidates for state legislature will benefit if there is a big blue wave in congressional elections. The balance of power in the state legs may be closer now than it has ever been, as Kirk Johnson explains in “Democrats Are Seen to Gain in Statehouse Races” in today’s New York Times:

Republicans control both chambers in 20 states, Democrats in 19. One state, Nebraska, has a nonpartisan legislature, while the parties split control in the remaining 10 states…What makes the races even more suspenseful is that the parties have not been so even in decades, if ever. Of the 7,382 statehouse legislative seats across the country, Democrats hold 21 more than the Republicans, a margin of less than half a percent.
In 17 of the 46 states that will elect some or all of their state senators, a shift of only three seats would alter party control in the senate, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In 12 state houses, a shift of five or fewer seats would tip the balance.

Prospects for Democratic candidates are very good, with one caveat. The Republicans are outspending them in state legislative races 2-1. Those who want to see more women in government have a singular opportunity to make a difference by making a contribution to Democratic campaigns, since Democratic women in the state legislatures outnumber Republican women nearly 2-1. If the blue wave rolls over the state houses, more women will advance to leadership positions — and later to congress.

Net Gains on TV as Political News Source

A new Associated Press/America Online poll indicates that 43 percent of likely voters “check the Internet for political updates about campaigns and candidates.” According to Will Lester’s AP report on the poll:

The most popular destinations are the news sites, such as those run by newspapers, networks and newsmagazines, with nine of 10 in the online political audience saying they go there. Just over one-third go to candidate’s sites and almost half check out political sites.

According to Lester, the poll also found that the political web-surfers tended to be more male (40 percent of males vs. 30 percent of females); younger (40 percent of those under age 50, vs. less than 20 percent of those over 65); and more educated (over half of those with college degrees, vs. one-third of those with some college and one out of six with a h.s. education.)
Despite the growing influence of the internet as a source for political information, TV still gets the overwhelming share of political ad dollars, and likely has more influence with working class voters. A USA Today/Gallup poll conducted April 7-9 found that 45 percent of respondents watched TV news every day, and another 19 percent said they watched news program several times a week.

Ad-Buyer’s Chess Game Key to Home Stretch Campaigns

Few considerations generate more concern in the final days of political campaigns than decisions made about buying TV ads. And if you thought ad-buys were largely determined by poll-margins in particular races, you would be wrong.
For example, the cost of ads is a major factor in ad-buys. In their WaPo article “As Elections Near, Dueling With Dollars,” reporters Jim VandeHei and Chris Cillizza, explain the calculations DCCC ad-buyer John Lapp has to make in allocating his $60 million budget:

In Washington’s 5th District, Lapp is running ads hitting freshman Rep. Cathy McMorris despite the strong Republican tilt of the district. That’s because ad time in the Spokane media market, which covers almost the entire district, is relatively inexpensive, allowing the DCCC to fund a week of ads for just over $300,000. It is a cheap bet, even for a long shot.
But Lapp is not running ads against Rep. Jean Schmidt (Ohio) who, despite woeful reelection numbers, benefits from the high price of television time in the Cincinnati market. This decision could save Schmidt’s job, strategists in both parties say.

That’s a shame. other considerations include the intensity of local issues and the opportunity to run an especially powerful message. Then there is the obligation the DCCC has to fund ads for candidates they encouraged to run, regardless of their poll numbers. Democratic ad-buy decisions are made even more difficult in a growing playing field. Says Lapp “Republicans are playing a game of whack-a-mole while we are expanding the number of races in play by the day.”
In such an environment, some bad ad-buy decisions are inevitable. Fortunately, rank-and-file Democrats can help keep them to a minimum by making contributions to the following links, so we don’t have to leave potential winners out on a limb:

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee

If there was ever a time for true blue Democrats to take action to make Congress more responsive, that would be today.