Latest News – Filing Deadlines
This past week, candidate filing closed in Arkansas, Nevada, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, and on Monday 3/15, Maine and Montana will see its candidate filing close as well. There were no last minute surprises, and only one candidate (Republican Bill Shuster in Pennsylvania) escaped without partisan opposition. After the filing deadline passes in Montana and Maine, 7 more states (including California) will see their filing deadlines close. By the end of this month, we will know all possible Congressional candidates in 223 of 435 House races and in 16 of 36 Senate races, and because of this flurry of activity, we therefore expect to see a few more last minute retirements before these filing deadlines pass.
Latest News – Retirements
While two weeks ago saw a flurry of retirement activity, this past week was relatively quiet, with only two news items making the headlines: (1) the abrupt resignation of New York Democrat Eric Massa this past Monday, and (2) Georgia Republican Nathan Deal’s deciding to delay his resignation (he is running for Governor of Georgia) until a vote on healthcare reform has been taken.
Latest News – Upcoming Primaries/Special Elections
So far, only Illinois and Texas have held primaries. Beyond that, there will be no other major statewide elections until May 4. However, while the 10 states’ holding primaries in May are worth watching, there are also three upcoming special Congressional elections scheduled in April and May which will test the extent of the “Obama plunge.” All three vacant House seats were held by Democrats, and in two of those races (in Pennsylvania and Hawaii) the Republicans have strong challengers. We are currently focusing on the April 6 special election in a heavily Democratic district in Palm Beach and Broward Counties in South Florida which gave Obama 65% of the vote in 2008, and which made “butterfly ballots” and “hanging chads” part of the political vocabulary. According to the “Obama plunge” theory we’ve been mentioning, the race should end up with about a 50/50 result. And interestingly enough, the Democratic nominee, who normally would go on an extended vacation after winning the Democratic primary, has recently sent out a mailer warning voters that “Republicans and the Tea Party Want To Capture YOUR Congressional Seat !” This brochure also contains unflattering pictures of former VP Dick Cheney and 2008 Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin.
While the three upcoming House vacancies will be an good gauge of voter discontent in these moderately to heavily Democratic districts, the abrupt resignation of Eric Massa (Democrat, New York) will also require a special election in a Republican leaning seat that was captured by the Democrats in 2008. So far, no special election date has been set, but New York law requires that an election can only be held at least 30 days after the seat is declared vacant (Eric Massa resigned at the end of Monday, March 8). The Republicans have coalesced behind Corning Mayor Tom Reed (who was already running), while the Democrats are still looking for a candidate.
Latest News – Louisiana Senate Race
Incumbent Republican Senator David Vitter remains safely ahead in the polls. In a Rasmussen poll released this week, he leads Democratic Congressman Charlie Melancon 57/34%. This is identical to a 57/33% lead he had in February, and is similar to a January lead in the polls of 53/35%. Vitter is clearly helped by the high 62% disapproval rating President Obama has with Louisiana voters, as well as the 64% opposition voters here have against the Democrats’ healthcare reform plan. Has the 2007 prostitution scandal had an impact ? Yes and no. While Senator Vitter has a whopping 50 point lead with male voters, his lead among female voters is a tepid 46/43%. Which suggests that while there is currently a ceiling to Vitter’s support, it shouldn’t affect his numbers much as long as he maintains his lead with male voters