House Election 2010

Incumbent Congressman loses in primary

On Tuesday, Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) was defeated in his party’s primary by State Sen. Mike Oliverio:

Rep. Alan Mollohan, a 14-term incumbent, has been defeated by state Sen. Mike Oliverio in West Virginia’s Democratic primary, according to the Associated Press.

With 97 percent of the vote in, Oliverio led Mollohan 56 percent to 44 percent.

Mollohan’s decisive loss – a stunning rebuke for a veteran appropriator who has held his seat for nearly three decades - comes just days after Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) lost his bid for renomination. Mollohan, the son of a congressman, had typically coasted in his re-election bids.

Oliverio had cast Mollohan as a creature of Washington and blasted the veteran incumbent over his ethics, repeatedly calling him “one of the most corrupt congressmen.”

Mollohan’s defeat had a lot to do with ethics, as he was named one of the most corrupt members of Congress for misusing his seat on the House Appropriations Committee, or as Jack Abramoff called it, “The Favor Factory,” handing out earmarks to friends and family.

All of the ads I’ve seen by Olivierio focused on ethics, however, Mollohan was also criticized by pro-life groups for his support of ObamaCare:

Mollohan also found himself under fire from his former allies in the pro-life movement, who targeted the veteran congressman over his support for the health care reform bill. The Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life group, launched radio ads and robo-calls in the district targeting Mollohan during the primary. West Virginians for Life pulled their longtime support for him and endorsed Oliverio.


PA-12: Republicans could pick up Murtha’s seat

It’s still close, but Republicans may be on their way to picking up the seat that was held by Rep. John Murtha (D-PA):

An internal poll for the Tim Burns campaign finds the Republican nominee statistically tied with Democratic nominee Mark Critz in the special election race for Pennsylvania’s 12th District. Burns leads 43%-41%, well inside the 4.9% margin of error.

While the candidates are neck-and-neck, the poll, conducted of 400 likely voters from May 4-5 by Public Opinion Strategies, finds more enthusiasm for the May 18 contest on the GOP side.

Just four-in-10 respondents could say when the election is, and of them 49% said they’d vote for Burns and 40% said Critz. Among the most interested in the election (72% of those polled), 46% like Burns and 40% Critz. And among those who are “extremely likely to vote” (65%), 45% choose Burns and 41% Critz.

Mark Critz has been running away from his own party over issues like ObamaCare, even though he won’t vote to repeal it. But on the other hand, he has brought Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the district, where voters have a very unfavorable view of her, for help raise money.

The special election will be held on Tuesday, May 18th.

Tuesday’s primaries, Obey’s retirement are bad signs for Dems

Many political analysts and observers are wondering if the retirement of Rep. David Obey (D-WI) is an indictator of how bad November is looking for Democrats. As Rick Klein notes, Obey should be safe in theory:

For Obey, every one of those elections has been a cakewalk with the exception of two:  1) In 1969, when, in his first race for Congress, he narrowly won a special election to replace Rep. Melvin Laird, who had just been appointed Defense Secretary by Richard Nixon; and, 2) in 1994, when the Republican revolution gave him a bit of a scare.  Although, even in 1994, Obey won by an 8-point margin.

Last year, Obey won re-election by a 22-point margin.

But this year, Obey was facing a tough re-election fight against a 38-year-old Republican District Attorney from Ashland County, Wisconsin named Sean Duffy.

By itself, Obey’s retirement is not that big of a deal. The guy has been in for 40 years. He’s likely reached the pinnacle of his career as chairman of the Appropriations Committee. The fact that he has decided to announce his retirement in May of an election year is the surprise. The Weekly Standard speculates that Obey saw the writing on the wall and didn’t like his prospects of winding up in the minority in the House.

Take that and add the dismal voter turnout in the Democratic primaries in Indiana, North Carolina and Ohio, all states that Barack Obama won in 2008:

PA-12: Democrats demagogue the FairTax

Democrats are using the FairTax, a popular tax proposal put forward by Americians for Fair Taxation and promoted by Republican talk show host Neal Boortz, in attack ads against Tim Burns:

In the May 18 special election in Pennsylvania to replace the late Rep. John Murtha (D), the DCCC is running a television ad attacking the Republican nominee, Tim Burns, for supporting the fair tax, using the issue to accuse him of supporting higher taxes on groceries, gas and medicine.

The ad refers to an interview Burns gave last year in which he said he “would love to ultimately see the fair tax implemented.” He went on to suggest that pursuing the fair tax “straight out of the gate” would be impractical because it would require overhauling the entire tax code.

A Burns campaign spokesman, Kent Gates, said the DCCC ad “is a complete distortion at best.” Burns issued a statement to The Hill saying he supports “making our tax code flatter and fairer.”

Here is the ad in question:

Republicans poised to take 30+ seats, possible control of the House

Charlie Cook, a brilliant political analyst, sees Democrats losing at least 30 seats in November, and also says that control of the House may well be up for grabs:

Combining its own race-by-race calculations with the results of national polls, The Cook Political Report officially projects a Republican gain of 30 to 40 seats. I suspect that the GOP will do even better if the trend over the past seven months continues.

Cook also points out that this may boost Obama:

Despite all of this disagreement over whether the House will flip, there is pretty much of a consensus in the political community that President Obama’s chances of getting re-elected will rise if his party loses the House or Senate. (In my book, the latter is quite unlikely.)

There are two arguments supporting the notion that the president might benefit from divided government. First, a GOP-controlled House would provide Obama with a foil. Republicans would have some governing responsibility; Democrats wouldn’t “own” Washington and automatically get the blame for everything that does or doesn’t happen. A strong case can be made that President Clinton would not have been re-elected in 1996 had Democrats not lost control of Congress in 1994.

The second contention is that losing control of the House would allow (or force) Obama to take a more centrist approach, to replicate the “triangulation” that worked well for Clinton in 1995 and 1996. Positioning himself and his administration as less liberal than congressional Democrats and less conservative than congressional Republicans, Clinton became the moderate honest broker in policy, riding that course to victory over Republican Bob Dole.

Dems could lose 51 seats?

Over at 538, Nate Silver says the generic ballot polling data could mean a takeover of the House of Representatives by Republicans and then some:

[L]et’s look at the state of the generic congressional ballot. The Real Clear Politics average now shows Republicans with a 2.3 point lead. How does that translate in terms of a potential loss of seats for the Democrats?
Their bad news is that the House popular vote (a tabulation of the actual votes all around the country) and the generic ballot (an abstraction in the form of a poll) are not the same thing — and the difference usually tends to work to Democrats’ detriment. Although analysts debate the precise magnitude of the difference, on average the generic ballot has overestimated the Democrats’ performance in the popular vote by 3.4 points since 1992. If the pattern holds, that means that a 2.3-point deficit in generic ballot polls would translate to a 5.7 point deficit in the popular vote — which works out to a loss of 51 seats, according to our regression model.

Bart Stupak To Retire

Bart Stupak, the Congressman whose decision to end his holdout on the health care reform bill guaranteed it’s passage, has announced that he’s going to retire at the end of this term:

Michigan Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak, who was the central figure in the abortion debate surrounding the health care law, will retire from Congress at the end of this term.

Stupak, who’s been in Congress for 18 years, will make the announcement at a 12:30 p.m. ET press conference in Marquette, Mich.

Stupak told The Associated Press that attacks on him for his role in the abortion debate did not influence his decision and he could win re-election if he tried.

Stupak was a lightning rod in the debate over abortion provisions contained in the health care feud. Abortion language in the House bill was deemed the Stupak amendment because it provided clear rules that federal funding could not be used by insurance companies to pay for abortions. But the final law adopted different language from the Senate bill.

In the final analysis, the left accused Stupak of attempting to make abortion access more difficult while the right said he caved at the last minute by agreeing to weaker Senate provisions.

The guy was a wet noodle in the end so I can’t say I’ll miss him.

Larry Sabato’s analyzes 2010 election

See Video

Signs Of An ObamaCare Backlash In November

From the latest Rasmussen Reports poll:

Fifty percent (50%) of U.S. voters say they are less likely to vote for their representative in Congress this November if he or she votes for the health care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey taken Wednesday night finds that 34% are more likely to vote for their Congress member’s reelection if he or she supports the president’s health care plan. Eight percent (8%) say the health care vote will have no impact on how they vote this November, and another seven percent (7%) are not sure.

Thirty-three percent (33%) of all voters favor the creation of a single-payer health care system where the federal government provides coverage for everyone. Fifty-four percent (54%) oppose such a system. These findings are unchanged from the end of last year. Support for a single-payer system plays a huge role in whether someone will support a Representative who votes for the health care plan.

Sixty-six percent (66%) of those who favor a single-payer system are more likely to vote for a member of Congress who votes for the health care plan. Seventy-nine percent (79%) of those who oppose a single-payer system are less likely to vote for a health care plan supporter.

With every Republican in Congress opposed to the health care plan, it’s not surprising to find that 79% of GOP voters are less likely to vote for someone who supports it. Fifty-five percent (55%) of Democrats, on the other hand, are more likely to vote for a member of Congress who votes for the plan.

Rothenberg: Dems likely to lose 15 to 20 seats

The Rothenberg Political Report is out with new rankings on the vulnerability of House seats. According to Rothenberg, 60 seats are in play. Of those seats, 14 are currently represented by Republicans, leaving the remaining 46 represented by Democrats.

Here’s the gist of what we may be able to expect by November:

[S]ubstantial Republican gains now look almost inevitable, with net Democratic losses likely to exceed a dozen. While Democratic control of the House is not yet at risk, losses of 15-20 seats are likely, and that target range could well grow with additional Democratic retirements and voter anger. Griffith’s switch means Republicans net 40 seats for the majority.

In case you’re wondering, 218 is the magic number to take back control of the House. Republicans would need to have a net pick up 41 seats to regain the majority (they currently hold 177 seats).

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