Backup Plans, we all need them

business-1370952_960_7201It’s good to have multiple options, that goes for sharing political opinion as well as anything else.

It’s far too easy for trolls and mischief makers to get people’s account suspended or shut down. It’s far too easy for them to get entire blogs wiped out. They’ve figured out that just ganging up on one profile or site and complaining to the owner can get voices shut down.

I fully expect the bullying and the restrictions on free speech to get worse, pehaps much worse. We all need to be planning alternate routes, alternate means to connect, have a backup plan.

If you only get your message out via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube or any of the other social media outlets – you’re vulnerable.

You should publish your work in multiple places, and at least one of those places should be relatively independent.

This blog is NOT hosted by WordPress or Google. It’s not AS vulnerable. It’s backed up offsite.

If you’re interested in publishing here, just as an alternate to your primary blog, or as a place to post something that you’d want to share to multiple social media networks, get in touch.

In the meantime, I’ll be cross-posting stuff here, just in case.

Final 2014 Midterm Election Predictions

The final Fix Senate rankings are here    The Washington Post

With a little under a week to go before Election Day, it is time to make last-minute predictions once again.

You can see my earlier predictions from January here, and from October here.

Overall, the trends have moved slightly, but not significantly, toward Republicans. The generic poll numbers have not significantly moved, but the enthusiasm gap steadily has increased, as the GOP is relatively excited to come out and voice their displeasure at the polls.

GOVERNORS

I didn’t spend a lot of time on the Governor’s races in my previous post, and won’t do so here either, other than to make quick predictions on a few key races. In the races not mentioned, I expect the incumbent/heavily favored to win.

Alaska: Walker (I), in close race.

Colorado: Hickenlooper (D) anb Beauprez are going neck-and-neck; I was ready to call it for Hickenlooper a few days ago, but right now…I wouldn’t bet a nickel on either side. True tossup. Guess? Republicans pull it out.

Connecticut: Polls are tied; my gut says Foley (R) ousts Gov. Malloy.

Florida: I have no idea; really. I would not be surpised to see a recount.

Georgia: Deal (R), but less than 50%, so heads to runoff.

Illinois: Polling all over the place; low confidence, but I think Rauner (R) pulls it out.

Kansas: Another true tossup; gut tells me Brownback (R) wins, though deserves to lose.

Maine: LePage (R), by the skin of his teeth.

Massachusetts: Baker (R); a stunning turn of events.

Michigan: Snyder (R)

New Hampshire: Hassan (D), in a race closer than predicted.

Rhode Island: Fung (R) has run a great race, but I predict he loses to Raimondo.

Wisconsin: Walker (R), but closer than predicted.

HOUSE

In my earlier post, I predicted a gain of 5-8 House seats. The polls have shifted recently, with several Democrat incumbents now in tough races, as both parties rush to pour money into these districts. That is good news overall for Republicans, who could steal a few seats that were considered safe by Democrats, including several in the completely blue region of the North East. Polls in states like New York are showing GOP surges late…that is a sign of good things.

PREDICTION: Gain of 8-12 House seats, up from 5-8 earlier this month.

SENATE

All the real fun is still with the Senate.

The Senate prediction models (538, NY Times Upshot, Washington Post, Realclearpolitics, Huffington Post, Wang,Larry Sabato, and the new AoSHQDD) have slightly moved toward Republicans in the past month, including Dr. Wang’s site, which had heavily favored Democrats last go around.

The short term shift of polls toward Democrats died a quick death, with most of the polls trending toward the GOP over the past several weeks. In that last week before election day, we have seen several polling units show last-minute surges for Republicans. That has solidified some of the ratings changes below:

1. ARKANSAS

Arkansas has trended GOP over the past several months, and Tom Cotton should be considered the heavy favorite. This race looks very close to being over.

RATING: Likely GOP.

2. NORTH CAROLINA

This race is sitting with a razor-thin margin. Kay Hagan has had a lead for months, but that has been slowly, but steadily, narrowing. Several polls show the race tightening or even at the moment. If momentum matters, Tillis will pull it out. As it were, I still have to give a light edge to Hagan, based on her long-term lead. One caveat though: Hagan has polled consistently in the low 40s for the entire campaign; in the RealClearPolitics average, no incumbent has ever won re-election with a rating below 45% going into election day. Hagan will try to become the first.

RATING: Slight Democrat lean.

3. LOUISIANA

This race is likely heading for a runoff in December. Cassidy is trailing slightly in the three-way race for next week, but in head-to-head with Sen. Landrieu, shows a solid lead. He is likely to win the race in December.

RATING: Likely GOP in runoff.

4. Alaska

Alaska is notoriously hard to poll, because of its sparse population. But there has been some decent polling there in recent weeks, and the news is not good for Democrats. Dan Sullivan has opened a small, but persistent, lead over Democrat Senator Mark Begich.

RATING: Leans GOP

5. Iowa

Iowa was considered the ‘firewall’ for Senate Democrats’ hopes to hold the Senate, along with Colorado (see below). Bruce Braley was a unanimous choice as a strong candidate to hold the seat. However, conservative Joni Ernst has run a strong campaign, attacking Braley on both policy and personal issues. Surprisingly, Ernst appears to have the tiniest amount of momentum at this point.

This is another race that a late GOP surge makes me a believer.

RATING: Leans GOP.

6. Colorado.

Along with Iowa, this was considered the Democrat firewall to hold the Senate. Cory Gardner has disrupted that strategy. Gardner is a solid candidate, who has run a clean campaign against incumbent Sen. Mark Udall. Udall has led for most of the year, but recently Gardner has taken a slight, but consistent, lead. Udall has had several hiccups of late, but he still has a lot of money and a strong ground game.

Like Iowa, we are seeing a GOP surge late…and that should take Gardner over the top.

RATING: Leans GOP.

7. New Hampshire

Honestly…I did not think we would be talking about New Hampshire at this point. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is a relatively popular Senator, with no major scandals. Fmr. Sen. Scott Brown is a relative usurper, moving from Massachusetts just earlier this year. But key issues, including foreign policy, have made this race competitive. Shaheen still holds a steady lead though, and I presume she will pull it out.

RATING: Leans Democrat.

8. Michigan

Of all the races for the GOP, this is by far the most disappointing. I openly advocated for Terri Lynn Land, but she has run a horrendous campaign, where her messaging has been off, her campaigning has been lackadaisical, and she has allowed herself to become mired in silly controversies time and again. Unlike every other Republican on this list, she has actually outspent her opponent, to little or no avail. Gary Peters is not a good candidate, but in a blue state, you don’t have to be a good Democrat candidate to beat a mediocre Republican.

RATING: Solid Democrat.

9. Kansas

This is a race nobody can honestly predict. All the fundamentals should mean Sen. Pat Roberts wins re-election. The polls are not great in this race, but like Sean Trende has said on Twitter, until I see solid evidence, you have to bet on Roberts.

The GOP has ridden to Roberts’ rescue in the last few weeks. And former Sen. Bob Dole pulled out all the stops. My guess is, by the skin of their teeth, that will be enough.

RATING: Leans Republican.

10. Georgia

Georgia wasn’t listed in my last prediction…because I never seriously considered it in play. However, just to show the flux in polling, a surge for Nunn gave her a tiny lead during the interim. Perdue’s polling appears to have rebounded, and he seems to have a small lead. This race looks like it is going to a runoff, but once there, Perdue will very likely comfortably win. However, Perdue has surged enough in recent days, he is achingly close to avoiding a runoff all together by reaching the 50% mark.

RATING: Leans Republican.

PREDICTION: I think the last two weeks have slightly shifted the electorate. Where as some races were true tossups at that time, like Iowa and Colorado, those races now appear to be leaning Republican, if not out right over. For example, the Des Moines Register poll, often considered the premier poll in the state of Iowa, gives Joni Ernst a outside-the-margin-of-error lead of 7 points, and calls the race over. That would have been an unthinkable claim at the beginning of the month.

I think Republicans are going to be very, very disappointed in races in New Hampshire and North Carolina. In New Hampshire, Scott Brown has run an excellent insurgent campaign, very much like this win in 2010 in Massachusetts. However, the GOP was a little late in coming to his aid, and he will probably lose by a point or two.

In North Carolina, Thom Tillis had run a terrible campaign through out the summer. He disastrously remained in the North Carolina state legislature, which not only gave him bad press, but allowed Kay Hagan to pound him on the campaign trail for months. Tillis has done a nice job in recent weeks, both on the trail and in the debates. I think he is going to fall just short though.

When all is said and done, I predict the GOP takes 8 seats, to get to a 53 seat majority in the United States Senate.

OVERALL:

In recent days, a lot of political pundits are already setting up the ‘expectations’ game for both political parties. The Washington Post said the GOP will need a ‘reality check’ after winning. Nate Cohn in the New York Times is that the success in the midterms tells us little about the electorate for 2016.

In general, that is true. The midterm elections really have no significant bearing on what will happen in a Presidential elections. We have to look no further than 1986 Democrat Party victory, after which George H.W. Bush shellacked Michael Dukakis; or 2010, when the GOP had a wave election, only to be overcome by Barack Obama once again in 2012.

Victories this year, mostly in states favorable to the GOP, doesn’t really prognosticate for future victories.

This comes with a couple caveats however. Note how far the GOP has come since just JANUARY. See my predictions from January here, which aligned nicely with those of other pundits throughout the blogosphere. Democrats expected to hold both Colorado and Iowa, with Ken Buck thought to be the expected candidate in the former, and nobody giving Joni Ernst a chance in the latter. New Hampshire was not supposed to really be in play. North Carolina was the one race where Democrats can be happy with their plans.

In short, pundits are moving the bar greatly in these last few weeks. Simply put, virtually nobody predicted the GOP would take both Iowa and Colorado, both blue-leaning states in the era of Obama. And many, if not most, prognosticators thought Democrats would gain seats in the House, or at worst, stay even; instead, the Democrats are guaranteed to lose House seats, and some of those seats may be in relatively ‘safe’ Democrat districts.

The repercussions for 2016 and beyond simply cannot be predicted right now. But the short answer is this: the GOP looks like it is doing their job: elevating their ground game, recruiting strong candidates, and then running relatively err0r-free campagins. The Democrats, on the other hand, tried to depend on past victories in the ground game, recruited some poor to terrible candidates, and have run campaigns full of gaffes and mistakes.

Whether this is a true ‘wave’ election is a matter of opinion. But there is no doubt, this is going to be a solid victory for Republicans, who now have to look forward both on policy and 2016 to make this election matter.

This was cross posted at Neoavatara

Make Change Happen: TWO DAYS TO GO!

The end is near. And there’s a very real possibility that we are about to knock Harry Reid off the top of that mountain. Lots of articles are predicting a Republican wave. Don’t get cocky. Be aggressive, be determined, it’s not over until late Tuesday night. VOTE, get your friends to VOTE. Post on social media for these guys, make phone calls, walk the neighborhoods, do whatever you can.

On election night, go to The Conservative Union for links to the results, and conversation about what’s going on.

Where do we really need to focus for the last two days? How have things changed? Well, the great news is that KY is almost certainly staying McConnell, and CO, LA, and IA have moved to the likely pickup category, which would mean we need to focus on not losing GA or KS, and then on picking up NC and NH. But let’s get even more specific.

Kansas – MOST IMPORTANT

We must not lose this one. It’s neck and neck. If we lose this one, we have to  pickup TWO to make up for it.  The key will be getting KS Republicans scared and angry enough to go vote, and making sure they know that Orman is a Democrat. So it’s about voter education and turnout. The good news is that Orman is his own worst enemy  and has sort of insulted Bob Dole, so you can use that. Go to Pat Roberts website to get the press releases and ads to share.

Iowa and Colorado – MANDATORY wins, but looking pretty good

We have to have these two races, but it looks like we got them. So I would say you don’t need to push AS hard on these two, just a bit of a pitch for Joni Ernst and Cory Gardner and things will be good.

New Hampshire and North Carolina – WORK ON THESE

Scott Brown has been known to pull a surprise upset, and Jean Shaheen can be tied to Obama fairly easily. Raise awareness of this race. Conservatives in NH might be thinking there’s no point in trying, but if you can get some folks to the polls, it could make all the difference. North Carolina should be a red state, seriously. What the heck are they doing with Kay Hagan? Turnout is the key – get folks to the polls, talk up the race. Don’t just make the point that Kay Hagan is an Obama clone, convince folks to go to the polls and vote!

Georgia and Louisiana – ignore for now

I’d love for both to be outright victories on Tuesday, but they’re both likely to go to a runoff, so we can wait and focus on them later. For the last two days we have more important priorities

GET ACTIVE – Here is where you go

In the list of links to this series, you’ll also see the last link: LIVE OUTLINE, ALL MY NOTES. That’s what I’ve been collating and writing and pulling together to put as content in these posts.Leslie's Analysis Senate 2014

When I decide that a race has moved from one category to another, that’s where I will make the change. That’s a live look at what I’m doing, so it’s a more up-to-date reference than the static content of these posts.

  • There’s  a link to the campaign site for each candidate
  • There are links to current stories about that race, important news, etc.
  • You can collapse and expand any section of the outline to make it easier to read and deal with

What do you do when you decide you want to help a candidate?

  • Donate money – directly to the campaign rather than through a third party that takes a cut before it gets to the campaign
  • Make phone calls – some/many (sadly not all) will have a way for your to make phone calls to registered GOP voters in their state so as to drum up turnout. They’ll have a recommended script, they’ll have the numbers to call. You won’t be calling angry liberals. You’ll be calling your own people, reminding them to go vote.

Don’t get overwhelmed. Get active!

The Make Change Happen Series

Sites Tracking the Horserace

Election Predictions, October 2014 Edition

I have personally avoided writing too much about the 2014 election cycle for a simple reason: there hasn’t been much to say.

One can go back and read what I wrote in January, and little has changed. Structurally, this is an election that favors the GOP, with battles being fought on friendly territory. GOP should, by any reasonable measure, pick up enough seats to take the Senate. Democrats are facing headwinds because Barack Obama is not popular, and Obamacare still lacked any traction among the populace. And the GOP was nominating higher quality candidates than in past cycles.

I think most of this remains true.

What has changed? Well, Obamacare is slightly less of an issue today than 9 months ago. Some liberals have argued that the issue has completely shifted. I don’t believe that is the case. What I do believe is that the issue is ‘baked in’; meaning that those people who have made up their minds on the issue have already picked which side they support. Obamacare issue ads are unlikely to move the electorate at this point.

The bigger issue has been the plummeting of faith in the presidency of Barack Obama. His approval numbers are around 40%, which is similar to George W. Bush’s numbers in late 2006. On issues as wide-ranging as the economy, immigration, and foreign policy, Republicans are now favored over Democrats. That is a shift even when compared to earlier this year.

One common refrain has been, “Why haven’t we seen a GOP wave yet then?”. It is a legitimate question, which actually has legitimate answers. In 2010, the wave only really began in late September. Likely, most people simply aren’t paying attention until then. Furthermore, unlike past years, the number of seats that can potentially switch is much smaller, especially when talking about the House. Simply put, even if there was a wave, it is hard to move immovable objects.

So where are we, with little more than a month to election day?

GOVERNORS

Not going to spend a ton of time on this, but worth a few comments.

In my home state of Ohio, Gov. John Kasich is going to shellack the Democrats by approximately 20 points. A remarkable recovery for a man who was hovering below 50% approval just a year ago.

Wisconsin should once again be close, but Gov. Scott Walker again holds a consistent small lead over his Democrat challenger. This election looks a lot like the last two races, where Walker looks to be in trouble, but pulls it out in the end.

The Florida race between Gov. Rick Scott and Fmr. Gov. Charlie Crist has been back and forth all cycle. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if a few thousand votes makes the difference in the end.

Sam Brownback is in serious trouble in Kansas, though he is within the margin of error. If he can convince enough Republicans to give him another chance, he could pull it off. My guess right now is that he loses.

Martha Coakley is once again running a poor campaign in Massachusetts, and her GOP challenger Charlie Baker is taking advantage. Coakley probably leads, but not by much. Could be a photo finish.

Gov. Nathan Deal has struggled in Georgia against Democrat Carter, and the polls have shown it. My guess is Deal pulls it out in the end with a last-minute conservative surge helping pull him to the finish line.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has led virtually the entire way against Democrat Mark Schauer, even in the blue state. That bodes well for Snyder.

Illinois has been a lot of fun to watch. Gov. Pat Quinn is under investigation for multiple offenses, not to mention corruption charges. Illinois has one of the worst records economically over the past four years, and the state is still under a mountain of debt. Even still, Republican has struggled to pull ahead consistently. This is a tough race to call, another true tossup.

PREDICTION: If forced to, would predict Democrats to pick up 2-3 Governors seats overall, with the at-risk GOP seats most likely PA, ME, and KS. If interested in each individual race, Larry Sabato‘s run down is excellent.

HOUSE

Easiest prediction: The GOP will hold the House of Representatives.

Considering the generic ballot, and the structural realities, it is frankly impossible for Republicans to have a huge wave. Why is that? Because we are basically in a scenario where we are living with the previous wave, the 2010 midterm election. That election basically showed what a realistic high water mark is for the GOP. In 2012, the GOP lost 8 House seats. The most likely result is the GOP wins 5-8 seats in this cycle, basically reaching the high water 2010 mark again.

PREDICTION: Gain of 5-8 House seats.

SENATE

All the real fun is with the Senate.

The Senate prediction models (538, NY Times Upshot, Washington Post, Realclearpolitics, Huffington Post, Wang, Larry Sabato, and the new AoSHQDD) have been all over the board. I think one take away? If you see a model having huge swings, it is best to ignore it until right before the election, because its predictive value is very, very low.

In the middle of September, there appeared to be a suddens shift toward the Democrats, with several models showing the likelihood of Democrats holding the chamber to be better than even. That lasted for about 48 hours. The reality is nothing fundamentally changed, but poll variables were shifting the dynamics.

Models such as those by Professor Wang deviated widely, which led 538’s Nate Silver to take pot shots at him. For example, on September 25th, Wang’s model had Begich as a 99% favorite in Alaska. The next day, it gave him a 23% chance. Such deviations are signs of a poor model.

In any case, the larger issue is nothing has really changed that much, but there have been some state by state variability. Here are the races I think that are most important. Please note that I am no longer even discussing Montana, West Virginia, and South Dakota, which are likely locks for the GOP. I also think Kentucky and Georgia have basically trended away from the Democrats. Barring any ‘black swan’ even, Republicans should hold those seats. Same with longshot seats in Virginia and Oregon, where Democrats have largely locked up re-election.

The remaining?

1. ARKANSAS

Arkansas is a state the GOP must win to take the Senate. Tom Cotton has run an up and down campaign against Senator Mark Pryor. Pryor, on the other hand, has not run a perfect re-election campaign. One steady truth though: Cotton has held a small but significant lead against Pryor since early summer, currently leading by 3.6 points.

RATING: Leans GOP.

2. NORTH CAROLINA

This is a race that is pretty unique, because it has trended away from the GOP. Sen. Kay Hagan has run a brilliant campaign, largely focused not on her record but the education record of opponent Thom Tillis. That, along with her significant monetary advantage has allowed her strategy to prove successful. Hagan has opened up a significant 3.5% lead since early September. However, unlike other races, like Arkansas, that lead has only been for a few weeks, so is less certain. But it is significant, and right now Ms. Hagan has the edge.

RATING: Leans Democrat.

3. LOUISIANA

Of course because of this state’s strange election rules, it is highly likely this goes to a run off in December, barring a single candidate getting 50% in November, which is highly unlikely. But in any case, Republican Bill Cassidy has had a solid, steady lead or incumbent Mary Landrieu. The lead is 5.1% today, and has been similar for months.

RATING: Likely GOP.

4. Alaska

Alaska is notoriously hard to poll, because of its sparse population. But there has been some decent polling there in recent weeks, and the news is not good for Democrats. Dan Sullivan has opened a small, but persistent, lead over Democrat Senator Mark Begich.

RATING: Leans GOP

5. Iowa

Iowa was considered the ‘firewall’ for Senate Democrats’ hopes to hold the Senate, along with Colorado (see below). Bruce Braley was a unanimous choice as a strong candidate to hold the seat. However, conservative Joni Ernst has run a strong campaign, attacking Braley on both policy and personal issues. Surprisingly, Ernst appears to have the tiniest amount of momentum at this point. Still too close to call.

RATING: Tossup.

6. Colorado.

Along with Iowa, this was considered the Democrat firewall to hold the Senate. Cory Gardner has disrupted that strategy. Gardner is a solid candidate, who has run a clean campaign against incumbent Sen. Mark Udall. Udall has led for most of the year, but recently Gardner has taken a slight lead. Udall has had several hiccups of late, but he still has a lot of money and a strong ground game. This will grind out until election day.

RATING: Tossup.

7. New Hampshire

Honestly…I did not think we would be talking about New Hampshire at this point. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is a relatively popular Senator, with no major scandals. Fmr. Sen. Scott Brown is a relative usurper, moving from Massachusetts just earlier this year. But key issues, including foreign policy, have made this race competitive. Shaheen still holds a steady lead though, and I presume she will pull it out.

RATING: Likely Democrat.

8. Michigan

Of all the races for the GOP, this is by far the most disappointing. I openly advocated for Terri Lynn Land, but she has run a horrendous campaign, where her messaging has been off, her campaigning has been lackadaisical, and she has allowed herself to become mired in silly controversies time and again. Unlike every other Republican on this list, she has actually outspent her opponent, to little or no avail. Gary Peters is not a good candidate, but in a blue state, you don’t have to be a good Democrat candidate to beat a mediocre Republican.

RATING: Likely Democrat.

9. Kansas

This is a race nobody can honestly predict. All the fundamentals should mean Sen. Pat Roberts wins re-election. Independent (Democrat?) Greg Orman leads in several polls, but hasn’t been challenged at all. Now, I guess the GOP could fail miserably and not call Orman out to task…but even I find that difficult to believe. The polls are not great in this race, but like Sean Trende has said on Twitter, until I see solid evidence, you have to bet on Roberts.

RATING: Likely Republican (with little or no evidence to prove either way).

PREDICTION: The Senate is still too close to call, as every prognosticator has suggested. Charlie Cook this week suggested Republicans have a 60% chance of taking the Senate majority…and I believe that is the most forceful prediction I have seen recently. The Senate is on a razor’s edge.

Right now, I think Republicans have a significant edge in KY and GA, as I stated above. I think they lead by a small amount in AR and LA. I think that Begich is in trouble in AK as well.

If Roberts holds in Kansas, that would give the Senate to the Republicans. If not, it gives you a 50/50 tie, and gives Biden the Senate for Democrats with the VP tiebreaker.

However, even if Roberts loses, there is a better than coin flips chance that Republicans take either CO or IA. I think both are literal tossups, and there is at least a 50% chance of taking one of those seats for the GOP. I also don’t believe NC is lost to the Republicans yet, though I would bet on Hagan if forced to at this point.

What it comes down to is, the worst case scenario for the GOP is a pickup of 5 seats, meaning they fall short of taking the majority because of Joe Biden. The best case scenario is a 8 seat pick up.

In short…I basically agree with the prognosticators. Whether Nate Silver, Huffington Post, Charlie Cook…they give the GOP a slightly better than 50% chance of taking the Senate. I have said this actually since January, and nothing has fundamentally changed. Or to simplify matters, presuming my assumptions above, Republicans would need to win 2 of the four races in IA, CO, AK and Kansas. If I were the GOP, I would be relatively happy with that coin flip.

Make Change Happen 6: Resources

Time for Action - ClockSO many posts and articles about these Senate races. SO much information. It’s an info-lanche!

You want to get involved, you want to make change happen but you seriously don’t need to spend your time chasing down the resources, you need to spend your time helping the campaigns.

I’m here to help. You may have noticed, at the bottom of all articles in this series, a couple of boxes of links. I’m sharing links to all of the articles in this series, as well as links to my favorite sites with overall senate race information. I’ve made brief notes on a few of those links, so you know what they are before you go there.

Sites Tracking the Horserace

As I add and delete things from the list of links, it will be automatically updated in every post, so you can be sure that no matter which post you’re looking at, that box of links shows my most current list and comments, with the newest additions as the top.

These sites are written by professional political analysts, polling collation firms, etc. These are my sources for my conclusions. They’ve got some excellent analysis, and usually a link or two to stores about the candidates.

However…they’re analyzing the current state of play. They’re observers, reporters, they aren’t actually making change happen. So if you’re looking to do something productive to help the conservative cause, don’t spend a lot of time with these sites.

The Ace of Spades Decision Desk

The Ace of Spades Decision Desk – it should be your primary election night site. Yes, it’s horserace analysis, but it’s the best of the bunch, AND it’s more than JUST horserace analysis.

It’s a beautifully laid out current state-of-play site, if you just want to know what’s the latest, this is the place to go. They are looking  at the Gubernatorial races, as well as the Senate races

Most importantly – they are not just reporting the races, they see themselves as advocates. To that end, they have a section of the latest news stories on each race, AND the current ads for the campaign. If you’re about to make calls for a candidate, go to the AOSHQDD and get the latest news first.

To review the Make Change Happen Series

In case you want to review previous posts in this series, this link box will let you navigate to any post in the series, again, always updated and live.

GET ACTIVE – Here is where you go

In the list of links to this series, you’ll also see the last link: LIVE OUTLINE, ALL MY NOTES. That’s what I’ve been collating and writing and pulling together to put as content in these posts.Leslie's Analysis Senate 2014

When I decide that a race has moved from one category to another, that’s where I will make the change. That’s a live look at what I’m doing, so it’s a more up-to-date reference than the static content of these posts.

  • There’s  a link to the campaign site for each candidate
  • There are links to current stories about that race, important news, etc.
  • You can collapse and expand any section of the outline to make it easier to read and deal with

What do you do when you decide you want to help a candidate?

  • Donate money – directly to the campaign rather than through a third party that takes a cut before it gets to the campaign
  • Make phone calls – some/many (sadly not all) will have a way for your to make phone calls to registered GOP voters in their state so as to drum up turnout. They’ll have a recommended script, they’ll have the numbers to call. You won’t be calling angry liberals. You’ll be calling your own people, reminding them to go vote.

Don’t get overwhelmed. Get active!

Make Change Happen 5: Stop being passive

Time for Action - ClockIf you truly want Harry Reid to be demoted, it’s going to take more than just reading and sharing the horeserace articles. It’s going to take you actively getting involved, not just WATCHING change happen, but MAKING change happen.

Stop being a passive observer

Now it’s time to think about what YOU can do to change your world. How do you help a particular candidate?

I’ve walked you through what I suggest as the order of attack in the first four posts of this series. Links to the whole series are at the end of this article. Pick one of those races, and get involved.

Sad Harry Reid

The candidate’s campaign staff will actually know best what the candidate needs. Yes, there are other organizations helping, you and I both get their emails every day. But truly, your best investment at this point is, I think, at the candidate’s campaign site.

Go to the site, contribute a few dollars. If they have a way for you to make calls on the candidate’s behalf, do so.

Look for some issues highlighted on their site, the ones that interest you, and write a blog post about it.

Yes, write blog posts SELLING THE CANDIDATE. Not “reporting on”. Not “commenting on”. Not passively observing. GET INVOLVED. Promote the guy. Did he do or say something good? Share that story on social media – but in a way that is a SALES PITCH.

You know the difference.

When you read an article or a social media post, do you imagine the writer sitting back in his chair, Christopher Hitchens style, smoking his cigarette and making intelligent observations, sharing information, and giving his opinion? Great. That guy is passively reporting.

Or do you imagine the person standing up, talking to you, convincing you of something? Trying to get you to like a candidate, trying to get you to vote for a candidate, trying to inform you of a particular candidate’s unique suitability for the job? THAT is the advocate. THAT is a campaign worker, the operative, the passionate voter, the actively involved person trying to make the world better.

We are all both of those at different times. If you want things to change, now is the time to be that ACTIVE person far more than the passive person.

Arguments against becoming the active party shill:

  • You’ll be called a party shill
  • You’ll get phone calls from the party and the candidates
  • Your mailbox will be full of requests for donations
  • Your followers will KNOW that you are a conservative
  • Some people may unfollow you
  • You’re too busy

Wow, that’s some scary stuff right there. Seriously, if any of those arguments are persuasive to you, that’s fine, just keep being a passive reporter.  Activism isn’t for everyone.

Let me just comment on the last argument, you’re too busy. You have no more or less time than anyone else. Time is one resource that we all get in precisely equal measure. If you are saying that the other things you are choosing to do with your time are more important, that’s fine. Be honest with yourself and us, and just accept that truth. If, instead, there are some things you can stop doing, and trade that time for activism time, please do so.

I do think you’ll be surprised at how much positive difference you can make with just a little time. As we discussed in The Refinery last week, in just a few minutes you can make a bunch of phone calls. That’s still the best way to drive people to the polls to go vote.


I’m Sold! How Do I Get Involved?

Go to My Entire Outline, all races monitored.

That link takes you to the list of candidates, links to their official sites, recent articles about them. It’s the live and most recent version of the info I’m tracking. If I’ve moded candidates from one section to another, it shows up here.


Read my sources


Read the rest of this series

Make Change Happen 4: This is What We Work On

We need to take the majority of the Senate. We need to gain SIX seats. So far, I’ve shown you my list of the races we either don’t need to pay attention to much at all, or the ones we only need to check in on a little.Sad Harry Reid

With total success on the races previously mentioned, we’re up by 4. That’s TERRIFIC, but not at all sufficient.

We’ve got to have at minimum, two more. We know it, the Dems know it. THIS is where the fight is.

I’ll be working over the next few days to give you information on what to do, how to help – what you can do to actually make the change happen.

First though, we have to study the targets. Start looking and learning, read up on these races. Read up on the candidates. Read up on the political environment of the state.

Possible Pickup

Inifnitely achievable, work hard here. In order from most to least likely.

Alaska

  • Dan Sullivan (R) vs. Mark Begich (D)
  • Dan has recently crossed over in polling from behind to ahead, and his lead over Begich is increasing. Seems unlikely that it would turn around and crash at this point, this is a pretty favorable sign. Yet he’s up by less than 5 points, easily a margin of polling error. The Democrat incumbent is a smart campaigner, and the state GOP is still recovering from a tough primary. Turnout and GOP enthusiasm will be key. Phone calls, social media promotion, and money will help a LOT. Alaska isn’t used to getting attention from the lower 48, our attention could have an outsized effect with the less-politically inclined in Alaska.

Arkansas

  • Tom Cotton (R) vs. Mark Pryor (D)
  • Arkansas is in the early stages of turning solid Republican, there’s still a good deal of enthusiasm for the GOP to grow and increase its strength in the state, it’s on the upswing. Tom Cotton is a great candidate, Pryor is the son of a Dem Seantor – old versus new is the story here, but not to offend old voters, it’s the “old ways” the “old system” versus the new system

Colorado

  • Cory Gardner (R) vs Mark Udall (D)
  • Let’s turn Colorado back red! This is a SUPER close race, but definitely winnable with some effort for Gardner. The Dems will not want to lose this one Udall has been ahead the whole time. But it looks like Gardner may be about to take the lead – keep that momentum going. The whole state seems to be swinging back GOP, make it happen, take advantage of the “surprise” that Udall is vulnerable.

Iowa

  • Joni Ernst (R) vs Bruce Braley (D)
  • Another REALLY tight one. Braley seems to be making mistakes, which our guys tend to not take much advantage of. Ernst is a combat veteran – leverage that with older voters, drive enthusiasm and patriotism.

North Carolina

  • Thom Tillis (R) vs Kay Hagan (D)
  • Hagan is up, but Tillis is getting some good support from the GOP machine. He’s made some errors of late, at about the same time the Dems hit with a lot of Hagan ads. This is a test of OUR will to win the race even with a less than perfect candidate. Turnout, phone calls, money – that’s what this race needs.

New Hampshire

  • Scott Brown (R) vs Jeanne Shaheen (D)
  • Shaheen is ahead by almost 5, but that’s inside the margin of change. Also she’s on the downswing and Scott Brown is trending up, it’s worth sticking with it to see if we can bring it home. Brown will have to get support from Independents and soft Democrats, and the disillusionment with Obama can help here.

Michigan

  • Terri Lynn Land (R) vs Gary Peters (D)
  • Peters is up by almost 5, but it may be that folks just haven’t yet started paying attention. It’s worth some attention NOW to see if the polls start to trend her way. The previous mid-term voter was Repbulican, the previous Presidential voter was Democrat. Can we make the Dems stay home, rally the GOP and get Land elected?

Remote Chance Pickup

Stretch goals, worth a shot if the above are done deals. Alphabetical order.

Illinois

  • Jim Oberweis (R) vs Dick Durbin (D)
  • Durbin is up by considerably more than 10, it appears that Durbin is “Senator for Life” in Illinois. I’d love to be wrong. I just want this guy to go away. It’s included here mostly to remind all of us that on any given Tuesday in November, miracles can happen

Minnesota

  • Mike McFadden (R) vs Al Franken (D)
  • Franken is up by a lot, the differential between the two is pretty steady. Franken has the incumbency inertia vote.

New Jersey

  • Jeff Bell (R) vs Cory Booker (D)
  • The Dems would HATE to lose this one. They didn’t plan on having to defend it, so any money we can make them spend here is money they weren’t planning to spend. Putting forth effort for Jeff Bell also makes more sense than putting forth effort in IL or OR – because Jeff Bell has a GOP Governor to help him, and the NJ GOP is on an upswing, doing some good things for the state. Good turnout for Bell will help downballot GOPers and will help the party strengthen itself for the future.

New Mexico

  • Allen Weh (R) vs Tom Udall (D)
  • This has moved from GOP no chance to a slim possibility
  • It’s a remote chance, but a chance nonetheless. The candidate isn’t all that strong, but the environment isn’t great for democrats in general, Udall is a dynastic name and there’s some anti-establishment fervor that could be leveraged.

Oregon

  • Monica Webby (R) vs Jeff Merkley (D)
  • Merkley is up by more than 10, and Webby’s trending seems to be negative, this seems a REALLY remote chance, extremely remote.

Virginia

This list will change over time, I’ll be adding resources to it, moving some links from the general list below into the specific races, etc. So consider this list a preliminary view, food for thought, and…

Questions – do you think I have some of this wrong? Let me know!



Make Change Happen 3: The Easy Ones

Sad Harry Reid
Let’s DEMOTE this guy!

In Parts 1 and 2 of the Make Change Happen series, we looked at the Senate races coming up, and of the 36 races, saw that we only need focus on 18 of them. Let’s start looking at those in more detail, and start with the easy ones first!

In general, the current GOP Senators are in good shape, and as Obama’s approval rating drops, our lot improves, but there ARE a few of our guys that need some attention, and one conservative state with a long serving Senator who is retiring, so it’s technically up for grabs.

Republicans at Risk

The states lean R, so it shouldn’t be too much of a lift to ensure R victory, but losing these could hurt on multiple levels. We’d have to gain TWO from the other lists rather than one to make up for the loss of an existing R. Also, there’s a negative down ballot effect on established GOPers in the rest of the state if we are to lose at the top.

Kentucky R-McConnell

  • Mitch McConnell (R) vs. Alison Lundergan Grimes (D)
  • RCP analysis: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2014/senate/ky/kentucky_senate_mcconnell_vs_grimes-3485.html
  • This shouldn’t really be anything we have to worry about, but state politics and a grassroots lack of enthusiasm for McConnell after the primary make this one that we can’t take for granted. It’s currently looking OK, but definitely needs to be watched – the Dems could start throwing resources at it at the last minute. Watch THEM – if they abandon Grimes, then we’re ok.

Georgia R-Chambliss (retiring)

  • David Perdue (R) vs. Michelle Nunn (D)
  • RCP analysis: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2014/senate/ga/georgia_senate_perdue_vs_nunn-4040.html
  • Momentum is on Perdue’s side, Georgia is a basically conservative state and might be recovering from the bruising GOP primary. It is expected that as the likely voters start paying attention to the race being Perdue v. Nunn, they’ll come down on the side of Perdue, even if they aren’t huge fans of his in general. Keep a close eye on this one.

Kansas R-Roberts

  • Pat Roberts (R) vs. Greg Orman (I)
  • RCP analysis: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2014/senate/ks/kansas_senate_roberts_vs_orman-5216.html
  • This was not supposed to happen, and is a case study in the damage that 3rd parties and vicious Democrats can do. The D candidate was bad, so they deep-sixed him and recruited Orman. Orman IS a Democrat. He will be a Democrat vote, make no mistake. But the voters are being misled that he is a fresh new outsider-y face compared to the old guy Roberts.
  • Currently the Democrat-fake-Independent is ahead by 5 points and a lot of GOP resources are being poured into this state.
  • It might make more sense for US to let the big name and party resources work to save Roberts while we put our efforts towards shoring up the likely pickups and maybe grabbing a couple of possibles.
  • From a psychological standpoint, I’d trade a loss of Roberts for a couple of Dem pickups. Saving Roberts at great expense isn’t a big victory, that’s an expensive draw. But sending a few more Democrats home, and having states get stronger GOP infrastructure by virtue of having a GOP Senator – that’s a legitimate win.

So…as long as we can hold on to those three states, we only have to add seats, we don’t need to make up for any losses. Those states are important, but also…not as much fun, because we don’t get to take a Democrat and knock them off the hill. Let’s look at the places we are likely to squash the Dems like bugs. These are the FUN states. But just because it’s fun doesn’t make it optional. We HAVE to win these races. HAVE to. They will get us 2/3 of the way there.

Likely Pickup

We really have to have these states. Make sure we have these sealed up before putting ANY energy on the “possible” or “remote chance” states.

West Virginia D-Rockefeller (retiring)

Montana D-Walsh (not running)

South Dakota D-Johnson (retiring)

Louisiana D-Landrieu

  • Bill Cassidy (R), Rob Maness (R) vs. Mary Landrieu (D)
  • RCP analysis: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2014/senate/louisiana_senate_race.html
  • Louisiana doesn’t have a party primary. All three candidates run on Nov 4, and if none get over 50% of total vote, it goes to a runoff. Cassidy is expected to beat Maness, giving us a Cassidy v. Landrieu race in December.
  • Due to the nature of Louisiana politics, we can actually ignore this one until after the mid-term election, let Louisiana determine their GOP candidate, and then we can help make sure Landrieu is defeated in the December runoff

Alright, that’s 7 races we stand a decent chance of winning, there’s really only one real danger there. If we can get all 7 of these, we’ll only need 2 more to take a bare, risky, scary majority. So we should…get these 7 DONE, NOW, and then we can focus our efforts on the next groups.

Why is a bare majority so scary? Because that creates the situation of a Senator crossing the line to vote with the Dems and becoming famous and beloved for doing so. Don’t think that that media and the Dems (BIRM) don’t know that. We really need a comfortable majoirty with 2 or 3 spare just to keep our team in line. Really we do. We know this. Don’t complain about it, just elect more GOP and take the issue off the table.

My next post will cover our possibles, and our remote chances. Then, once we’ve got the whole list done, we’ll start talking about WHAT to do, HOW to do it, and WHEN.



Make Change Happen 2: The Focus List

So, we have less than 6 weeks until the mid-terms, our opportunity to remove Harry Reid as Senate Majority leader and take our best chance to reduce the damage that the Democrats can do over the next two years.

In Part I  we looked at 36 Senate elections, but only half of them are worth paying any attention to at all. So we’re down to only 18 to even bother with.

That’s only 18 races to focus on, it’s our Focus List.

We must have a net increase of 6 seats.Time for Action - Clock

I’ve separated the 18 races into 4 sections, so that we can all better see where to target our efforts. They’re in order within those sections based on RCP average polling, and ranked most likely R to least likely R, so start at the top and work your way down.

In this post, just the races. Details of each section coming next. If you have ANY updates or feedback on this list, please let me know.

This is intended to be a resource, you’re seeing it get built…it’s only as good as the info I have to put into it…be a source for me!

Republicans at Risk

The states lean R, so it shouldn’t be too much of a lift to ensure R victory, but losing these could hurt multiple times. We’d have to gain TWO from the other lists rather than one to make up for the loss, it would also have a negative down ballot effect on established GOPers in the rest of the state.

  • Kentucky R-McConnell
  • Georgia R-Chambliss (retiring)
  • Kansas R-Roberts

Likely Pickup

We really have to have these states

  • West Virginia D-Rockefeller (retiring)
  • Montana D-Walsh (not running)
  • South Dakota D-Johnson (retiring)
  • Louisiana D-Landrieu

Possible Pickup

Infinitely achievable, work hardest here

  • Alaska D-Begich
  • Arkansas D-Pryor
  • Colorado D-M. Udall
  • Iowa D-Harkin (retiring)
  • North Carolina D-Hagan
  • New Hampshire D-Shaheen
  • Michigan D-Levin (retiring)

Remote Chance Pickup – stretch goals, worth a shot if the above are done deals

  • Minnesota D-Franken
  • New Jersey D-Booker
  • Oregon D-Merkley
  • Illinois D-Durbin

 



Make Change Happen – in less than six weeks!

Do you want to make your life better? Do you have a short attention span and can only really focus on one project for a few weeks at a time? I’ve got the project for you!

We have the opportunity to change things in Washington  a little bit, coming up in less than six weeks. I’m talking about the November mid-term elections.

If we can change the Senate from a Harry Reid-led Democrat chamber to a Mitch McConnel-led Republican chamber, there’s a chance to make the last two years of the Obama Administration a bit less bad.

We need to pick up 6 seats.

Yeah, I’m downplaying the expectation of “real change” but don’t think I’m downplaying the importance. Being able to actually really really STOP bad legislation or nominees, and maybe being able to defund a few horrid executive actions may be the only good things that can come from Washington in the next two years. And if it’s possible, we really need to make an effort to make it happen.

So, for the next few weeks, who cares about the Presidential race, let’s try to get the Senate turned around.Time for Action - Clock

There are 36 races (33 regular and 3 special elections). That’s not so hard. But wait! We can narrow it down further by eliiminating the Democrat races we can’t win, the Republican races we won’t lose, and just look at the races that need our help.

That gets the list of races to worry about down to 16. That’s totally manageable.  I’m gonna lay that out here in part 1. Later, I’ll show you the ones that are most important right now, and then give you the contact info so you can DO SOMETHING to help.

It’s not enough to just follow along with the horserace stories.

Do you want to just observe and report on history as it happens to you, or do you want to make an effort to influence it for the better?

For part one here, I’m gonna just list the 36 races, in 3 sections

  1. Safe Hold – no need to pay attention, the locals have this one handled
  2. No Change / No Chance – safe Democrat seats, no point paying attention, we have no chance here
  3. Needs Attention – either because we could lose it, or because we could know off an incumbent Democrat

Tomorrow we can start to look at those “Needs Attention” races a bit more closely.

This will be a work-in-progress blog post series, and it can only get better with your feedback, so please help me out!

Safe Hold – don’t worry about these right now

  • Alabama R-Sessions
  • Idaho R-Risch
  • Maine R-Collins
  • Mississippi R-Cochran
  • Nebraska R-Johanns
  • Oklahoma R-Inhofe
  • Oklahoma R-Coburn (retiring), Lankford running
  • South Carolina R-Graham
  • South Carolina R-Scott
  • Tennessee R-Alexander
  • Texas R-Cornyn
  • Wyoming R-Enzi

No Change / No Chance – don’t waste a moment’s thought on it

  • Delaware D-Coons
  • Hawaii D-Schatz
  • Massachusetts D-Markey
  • New Mexico D-T. Udall
  • Rhode Island D-Ree
  • Virginia D-Warner

Focus List – THESE are the ones to work on, in alphabetical order

  • Alaska D-Begich
  • Arkansas D-Pryor
  • Colorado D-M. Udall
  • Georgia R-Chambliss (retiring)
  • Illinois D-Durbin
  • Iowa D-Harkin (retiring)
  • Kentucky R-McConnell
  • Louisiana D-Landrieu
  • Michigan D-Levin (retiring)
  • Minnesota D-Franken
  • Montana D-Walsh
  • New Hampshire D-Shaheen
  • New Jersey D-Booker
  • North Carolina D-Hagan
  • Oregon D-Merkley
  • South Dakota D-Johnson (retiring)
  • West Virginia D-Rockefeller (retiring)

I’m getting my info from these and other sources. If you’ve got some good overview sources, let me know and I’ll add them to this list