One reason why people are attracted to politics is because, like sports, there are usually clear winners and losers. Moral ambiguity and shades of gray may overwhelm other sectors of life, but not the bottom-line of elections. Only finality on November 2 really matters. Raising more money or winning a primary or seeing your opponent sink into a scandal is a kind of victory, but it’s transient. Still, you savor what you can on your way to Judgment Day.
Commentary by Larry J. Sabato
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West Virginia Senate—It is looking very likely that we’ll have a 37th Senate election to noodle about, the extra being held in the Mountain State to choose the successor to the late Senator Robert C. Byrd (D), the longest serving member of Congress in history who passed away on June 28. At first, all indications were that a gubernatorial appointee would fill the seat until November 2012, when Sen. Byrd would have come up for his tenth Senate term. The Secretary of State in West Virginia tentatively ruled so, though West Virginia law is somewhat ambiguous on the point.
With just four months to go before the voting in November, many races have settled in—falling into the D or R column as Solid, Likely, or Lean. But then, there are those stubborn toss-ups. Some are unmovable since the primaries haven’t yet been held and the nominees in one or both parties are unknown. Still others haven’t gelled because candidates aren’t spending money or voters stubbornly refusing to focus on politics in the middle of a hot summer. (How dare they?)
On Tuesday, political junkies were treated to the latest in a seemingly unending series of primaries. Several critical statewide nominations were determined in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Utah. Our updates, written by the voters more than us, are below.
With the biggest primary night of 2010 now over, more and more of the midterm picture is coming into focus. The Crystal Ball brings you the following quick takes from the hottest Senate and Governor primary races that were decided this week:
There’s now no question that the gubernatorial turnover in November will be historic, with half or more of the states electing new governors (see our previous article on the subject here). With 37 of the 50 states electing governors, and 23 of those states having no incumbent running with additional incumbents in serious electoral trouble, the nation will see an epic turnover—the greatest in at least the last half-century.
The primary season is here, hot and heavy, and it has changed the Senate picture since our last update in April. Some of our individual race ratings have shifted, but our forecast still calls for sizeable Republican gains in November.
Political observers have had their attention directed to state attorneys general of late, due to the court suits against the federal health care reform bill initially filed by fifteen AGs (14 of them Republican, and a lone Democrat from Louisiana).
Back in 1980, the Washington Post ’s David S. Broder wrote a notable book, The Changing of the Guard , about the generational turnover of national and state leadership occurring at that time. It’s happening all over again. We’ll see dozens of congressional seats switching hands and sides in November, but the greatest transformation will be in the statehouses.
I’ll admit it. I love populism. In my youth I was always drawn to populist candidates. For over eight months I’ve been predicting that 2010 would be the Year of the Populist, and this prediction has come true. Populism is the only approach that makes sense in this angry, miserable time full of resentful voters. A sincere populist identifies with, and advocates for, the needs of ordinary powerless people, who believe they are being screwed by big, impersonal institutions and elites.
As we look back on a tumultuous first year for President Barack Obama, three questions matter. What have we learned about him? What has he learned about his job? And how much does the first year foretell about the Obama presidency?
With Tuesday night’s upset by Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts, the GOP gained more than just a 41st vote to disrupt the Obama agenda. As attention turns to the midterm elections in November, the Republican Party has strong momentum.
What a difference a day makes. Two Democratic senators, both likely reelection losers, throw in the towel. The incumbent Democratic governor of key swing state Colorado shocks everyone by declining to run for a second term. And the all-but-certain Democratic nominee for governor of Michigan, Lt. Gov. John Cherry, drops out because he can't raise money.
As the most recent Crystal Ball ratings showed, Democrats are benefiting from the equal split of Senate seats up in 2010. Even though Democrats have a large majority of senators, it just so happens that both Democrats and Republicans are defending 19 seats each in the upcoming midterm election, which makes it exceedingly difficult for the GOP to gain enough seats to capture the Senate.
DELAWARE- SENATE: Republicans got just the break they were hoping for in the Delaware Senate race. Republican Rep. Mike Castle will run, challenging the Vice President's son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden (D). Biden would have defeated any other Republican, but Castle is leading Biden in early polls. The Vice President has great sway, but the dynasty issue helps Castle.
With the off-year midterms just a year away, the Crystal Ball will focus on the statehouses. It gets us out of Washington and away from Congress--and that is refreshing in itself.
It was nearly twenty years ago. While assessing L. Douglas Wilder's 1989 victory for governor of Virginia, I first noticed that for four consecutive elections (1977, 1981, 1985, and 1989), the Old Dominion had voted for the gubernatorial nominee of the party opposite to the one controlling the White House. It merited a paragraph, but nothing more.
While the next slate of House elections does not occur until 2010, congressmen and their challengers certainly don't take off the "off-year." Instead, this year is a crucial one for the parties who must prove their recruiting chops, for the incumbents who seek big fundraising numbers and positive headlines, and for the challengers who have to prove their ability to take down a sitting member of Congress. And that doesn't even include the open races, 18 so far, where incumbents have announced they will not seek reelection. In those districts, both parties are scrambling to find candidates who can quash takeover hopes or, conversely, take advantage of this rare opportunity.