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Posted on Oct 28, 2014 in Congress, Elections-U.S., Obamacare | 0 comments

Down to the wire for control of the Senate.

We come down to the wire on the 2014 congressional elections. My long term advice, and others made the suggestion as well, that the Democrats should embrace Obamacare by using talking points that included examples of real people who have already benefited, in a serious way, from it. Unfortunately this strategy was ignored. Democrats have been running from it, faced with poor poll results for both President Obama and Obamacare. In doing so, they turned the issue into a Republican mantra against Obamacare, and this cost them at least two to three percent in the vote according to my estimates. My point, of course, was that the public could have been turned on the Obamacare issue and likely helped the President’s poll numbers along the way. I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but the marginal opinions on Obamacare were soft and changeable. And for many, The Affordable Care Act was an unfathomable bit of legislation. Right after it was passed, polls indicated about a fifty-four percent support for it. The mess that was the enrollment roll-out turned the support for it into negative opinions at close to an exact reversal of the earlier numbers. And this with the Democrats running from it and Republicans attacking it and Obama at every media opportunity. Republicans, by and large, opposed it in earlier polls and still do. Democrats, by and large supported it and mostly still do. The changeable, or soft voter, was handed outright to the Republican position and that may well carry over to Tuesday’s election. And it didn’t have to be this way.

NBC’s lead political analyst said yesterday that the Republicans now should be considered the favorites to take control of the Senate. Rassmussen reported on results of a phone poll for the period of October 21 to 23, in the key swing state of Colorado and had the Republican candidate, Cory Gardner beating Senator Mark Udall by the growing margin of fifty-one to forty-five percent. Other polls, which closed earlier, have the race much closer. Whether Rassmussen is picking up a late trend, or whether his polling has biases is unknown. Rassmussen does show two percent undecided, and another two percent currently saying they’ll vote for a candidate other than from one of the two main parties.

Colorado, last year, instituted a postal ballot, following the lead of Oregon and then in 2011, Washington. Analyses are far from certain on it, but I believe that the mail-in ballot, which makes voting much easier, helps the Democrats by about two to three percentage points. I’m not sure how the polling organizations adjust their models of the likely voter to account for mail-in ballots.

Colorado is one of three key states that both parties are pouring much of their campaign funds into. The others being Iowa and North Carolina.

Rasmussen also found that the Tea Party is still the most toxic label on the current political scene. Meanwhile, Gallup found continuing support for the notion that Tea Party Republicans are more likely to vote. This may explain the confusing results from Iowa’s campaign. The Tea Party supported candidate, Joni Ernst, bucked the trend of regular Republican candidates defeating Tea Party candidates by winning the Republican nomination for the Senate race to take retiring Senator Tom Harkin’s seat. Harkin has strongly supported the Democratic nominee, Representative Bruce Braley. By all reckoning, Braley should therefore win the Senate seat. However, Ernst, according to recent polls, has a narrow lead, and this in the face of political pundit’s claims that if she won the Republican nomination it would be an easy win for Democrat Braley. Having lived and taught for a few years in Iowa, and knowing the organization that Obama built up in winning Iowa, I’m not ready to give up yet. But there definitely is a head wind that the Democrats are facing.

North Carolina pits incumbent Senator Kay Hagen against the regular Republican’s successful primary winner (over a Tea Party candidate), Thom Tillis. Hopes, by Democrats, that Tea Party Republicans might just sit this one out, have been hurt by appearances in support of Tillis by one of their favorites, Rand Paul. This one is too close to call, but I’m hopeful that the Incumbency of Hagen will save the day.

As a final note, it is actually possible that the Georgia election could result in a run-off in early January. That final seat might be the deciding one thereby holding up deciding the control uf the U.S. Senate until January. Now wouldn’t that be a zinger?

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