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Just quick reminder: A lot of us later states have primaries coming up in August and September. Don't forget to register if you want to be able to vote in the Democratic primary! It's easy to forget, what with the laziness of summer and nice hot days by the pool beckoning, but some states require you to register at least 30 days before the election, so don't get too caught up in the attractions of the weather and miss your state's deadlines. For a comprehensive list of links and deadlines for all 50 states, go here.

For those of you who are already registered, you're not of the hook-- make sure your family, friends, and neighbors have their ballots, too! You should also be careful to check for ID requirements, rules and deadlines for requesting an absentee ballot (if you'll be at school for the election), and how to take advantage of early voting (if your state has it).

Remember, it's quick, it's simple, and it's the easiest way to get involved. It's your government, people.


For those that support our continued military presence in Iraq, let me share some thoughts.

I was 18 years old when I came to Georgetown. In the last three years, four months, and eleven days, 22 American 18 year olds were killed in Iraq. One of them, Pfc. Bradley G. Kritzer, U.S. Army, 1st Cavalry Division, was killed by an Improvised Explosive Device in Baghdad on May 5th, 2004, three days before I turned seventeen. He was from Irvona, PA. He joined the army to pay for his education so that he could work for the Pennsylvania Gaming Commission. His dream was never realized. Remember, he was 18 years old.

I am 19 years old now. In the last three years, four months, and eleven days, 149 19 year olds have been killed in Iraq. I turned nineteen on May 8th, 2006. Two days before that, on May 6th, Lance Corporal Leon Deraps, U.S. Marine Corps, 1st Marine Logistics Group, died in an Improvised Explosive Device attack in Fallujah. He was from St. Louis, MO. He was 19 years old. He was a Boy Scout who won 35 Merit Badges and was his Senior Prom King in High School. Remember, he was 19 years old.

I will turn twenty next year. In the last three years, four months, and eleven days, 273 20 year olds have been killed in Iraq. One of them, Pfc. Nicholas E. Messmer, U.S. Army, 2nd Infrantry Division, died on my eighteenth birthday on May 8th, 2005 in Khalidiyah in a hostile fire attack by the enemy. He was from Gahanna, Ohio. He was "into working out and wanted to be a firefighter." Remember, he was 20 years old.

I will be able to legally drink on May 8th, 2008, when I turn 21 years old. In the last three years, four months, and eleven days, 320 21 year old American servicemen and women have died in Iraq. Sergeant Elisha Parker, U.S. Marine Corps, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, died on May 4th, 2006, in a hostile fire attack in Al Anbar Province. He was from Camden, New York. Nicknamed Eli, Sergeant Parker could have "gone to any college he wanted to." He was on the track team. Remember, he was 21 years old.

I will graduate college soon after I turn 22 on May 8th, 2009. In the last three years, four months, and eleven days, 260 American 22 year olds have died in Iraq. On June 9th, 2006, while I was slaving away at my internship here in Washington, D.C., Pfc. Ben Slaven, U.S. Army National Guard, 308th Transportation Company died in Diwaniyah in an IED attack. He was from Plymouth, Nebraska. According to his frist Sergeant, Slaven always "volunteered for duties like cleaning the floor with a toothbrush." Remember, he was 22 years old.

As we are college students, we know a lot of 18, 19, 20, 21, and 22 year olds. They're our friends, our classmates, our girlfriends and boyfriends, our TA's, our club Presidents, our start athletes, our brothers and sisters. They are us. Our generation, we are the ones dying in this war. 1,024 18, 19, 20, 21, and 22 year olds have died so far in this war. Before we say that we need to stay in Iraq to prevent it from "degrading" into civil war, remember 18 year old Pfc. Brad Kritzer. Before we say that we can't just break Iraq and leave it, remember 19 year old Lance Corporal Leon Deraps. Before we say that we have an obligation to see success in Iraq, remember 20 year old Pfc. Nicholas Messmer. Before talking about how leaving Iraq would be giving in to the terrorists, remember 21 year old Sergeant Eli Parker. And before we say that we can still win in Iraq, remember 22 year old Pfc. Ben Slaven.

The war in Iraq is a failure, and we have made a lot of mistakes. How many more Ben Slavens will we have to lose before we get out? How many more Brad Kritzers will have to die before we realize that this war in unwinnable? How many more Leon Deraps will die in the blast of an IED before we accept that the U.S. military cannot make the Sunni and the Shia like one another? How many more Eli Parkers will have to die before we realize that we have created more terrorists? And how many more Nicholas Messmers will have to die before we realize that the best thing to do for Iraq and for America is to get our troops out immediately?

1,024 American mistakes who should have been at a party with us on the Village A rooftops instead of dying in Iraq. They should have been struggling with Problem of God and International Relations, not getting blown up by IED's. They should have been cheering the Hoyas last year in March Madness, not sitting at checkpoints, armed and ready to fire on Iraqis. They should have been getting Chicken Madness' at Wisie's, not trying to put Iraq back together again.

Before anyone says that we should stay in Iraq, I challenge you to say that you are willing to go to Iraq and wear the uniforms that these brave men and women wear and hold the assault rifles and fear IED attacks. If any of you can say that staying in Iraq is worth it enough that you would be willing to go and serve and die, then I salute you. But if not, join me in saying that this war must end, and end immediately before we remember any more kids our age who needlessly died in a senseless and endless war in a country that does not threaten our national security. Join me now, before we lose any more.


Joe Lieberman is about to have a political rendezvous with destiny. On August 8th, the Democratic primary voters of Connecticut will have their say as to whether Joe will continue to be the Democratic Senator from Connecticut or whether Ned Lamont will hold the Democratic banner in the upcoming general election.

This is the beauty of democracy. When asked by a reporter the other day whether Joe Lieberman ever faced so much opposition before in running for reelection, he recounted that he had "never faced a primary before." A United States Senator, representing nearly four million people, had never before faced a primary after three terms in the United States Senate? When Saddam Hussein ran unopposed for President of Iraq, we certainly did not call that a legitimate election.

But now Joe Lieberman is stunned, even angry that he has a primary opponent, who is causing him to raise all this lobbyist money from outside Connecticut and really have to work to be reelected this year. No Senator is entitled to be reelected, and when you lose touch with your constituents, you deserve a challenge.

Joe Lieberman is not a bad man. He has always been a Democrat and a pretty good one at that. His recent unabashed support for President Bush aside, Joe Lieberman has generally followed the Democratic line, and has fought for important liberal causes.

Democratic primary voters could probably be ok with Joe Lieberman's active effort to work with Republicans on issues. They could even excuse his very cozy relationship with President Bush, whom Democrats despise for good reason. They could even accept his moderation on a host of issues. The frequent Democrat-bashing that Joe does on FOX News and Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity may even slip by in the minds of Democrats. Joe Lieberman's opposition to an immediate withdrawal from Iraq may even be overlooked by primary voters come Election Day. Any one of the issues might cause anger among Democrats, but in the end, they should not cause defeat.

But for Joe, it is not just one of these issues that plagues him. It is all of them. The majority of Democrats find all of these to be problems, and significant ones at that, and if the Democrats in Connecticut find Joe unacceptable, they have a right to throw him out, just as they would have a right to throw a right-wing Republican out.

But all of these issues aside, many claim that Ned Lamont is running a single-issue campaign on the War in Iraq. Many claim that if it weren't for Joe Lieberman's support for the war, he would not be seriously challenged. Even if these things were true, and I'm not sure they are, Joe Lieberman supports, not just mildly, but wholeheartedly, a war that the vast majority of Democrats strongly oppose.

The War in Iraq registers as the most important issue in the country today in every poll, as it should be considering that we have lost 2600 brave men and women and lost enormous credibility, moral authority, and standing in the world. The war has done major damage to our country and Democrats overwhelmingly oppose this war, with 3/4's of Democrats nationwide calling for an immediate withdrawal, according to most polls. Democratic primary voters in Connecticut want an immediate withdrawal, and not only does Joe Lieberman oppose that, he opposes any timetable or change of course whatsoever. The man simply defers to President Bush on all issues regarding the war and has not even criticized the President's management on the war. Joe Lieberman supports the war even more than most Republican Senators. And Joe Lieberman has become a rabid neoconservative, noting that the war in Iraq "will help to spread freedom throughout the Middle East."

Neoconservatives have been discredited, and so has Joe Lieberman. For a United States Senator to disagree wholeheartedly with his home state Party's constituents on the most important issue of the day, that literally involves decisions of life and death, is worthy of challenge. If a Democratic primary voter opposes the war vehemently, and views the war as the most important issue facing our country, he or she has an obligation to vote for Ned Lamont, not to spite Joe Lieberman, but because in a democracy, we are supposed to vote on public policy issues. And in this primary, Connecticut Democrats have a chance to change the course on Iraq, by voting for Ned Lamont, and by telling Joe Lieberman that he is being thanked with his years of service, but it is time to retire.


News has admittedly been slow in Washington this month, but politicos and wonks take heart: the Senate seems likely to approve federal funding for stem cell legislation sometime in the next few days (the House passed stem cell funding last year), setting up a showdown between Congress and President Bush, who has promised to veto any legislation that increases funding for embryonic stem cell research. Cue the Clint Eastwood soundtrack, and don’t forget to take cover in the nearest saloon, folks! You don’t want to get caught in the midst of this rodeo face-off.

The Senate is considering H.R. 810, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which passed the House 238-194 (including 50 Republicans). The bill has bipartisan support and enough votes (at least 60) to guarantee its passage. Republican backers include Sen. Arlen Specter (the least crazy person in Pennsylvania’s senatorial delegation, though I think we can all agree that’s not saying much), who yesterday compared the president’s position against stem cell research to those who opposed Columbus, imprisoned Galileo, and rejected anesthesia, electricity, vaccines, and rail travel, saying that such views “in retrospect look foolish, look absolutely ridiculous,” and challenged Bush to sign the legislation. Even Majority Leader (and White House-wannabe) Bill Frist, who had previously been opposed to increased federal funding for stem cell research, seems to have seen the light (or more likely, polling that shows Americans favor stem cell research 2-1), and called for the Senate to approve the bill, saying that “the current policy unduly restricts the number of cell lines.”

Sen. Frist is absolutely right. (Wait, time out. Everyone, look out your window. Anybody see any flying pigs? Really? No? Okay, well, then, I suppose even Dr. Frist is bound to take the correct position on something eventually, even if only by accident.)

Current administration policy limits federal funding to research on 64 existing stem cell lines worldwide “where the life and death decision has already been made.” It is unclear whether at least a third of these designated lines are scientifically viable for research. Declaring 64 lines, many of which are contaminated and unusable, as sufficient for research that has the potential to save thousands of lives and ease the suffering of millions is a preposterous proposal.

Opening increased funding for stem cell research introduces the prospect of curing or reducing the symptoms of countless diseases afflicting millions of Americans nationwide, including cancerous tumors, spinal cord injuries, organ defects, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and a whole host of other ailments, even baldness. Even Nancy Reagan, the veritable Queen Mother of GOP conservatives, supports the measure. One has to wonder why the Republicans are even wasting their time putting up a fight at all. (All together, class: Can you say "rallying the base in an election year"?)

Although I do have to say that the ridiculous debate over stem cells certainly has its upsides, specifically the hilarious stream of quotable moments it is currently producing on the Senate floor. (Watching C-SPAN online is an excellent way to pass hours if it’s a slow day at the office, you should try it.) Check out this gem, courtesy of Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Crazyville), who seems to be unaware that extra embryos conceived and later frozen as part of IVF treatments for infertile couples are likely to be discarded with or without stem cell research, invalidating his point that stem cell research destroys human life.

Sen. Frist has promised a floor vote soon, and since the bill seems destined to pass, the only question is whether or not supporters will be able to muster the 67 votes necessary to override a veto that seems imminent. Keep your eyes posted.

Update 7/19: The Senate passed the bill as expected yesterday, 63-37. President Bush just signed his first-ever veto. Supporters of the bill do not appear to have enough votes (2/3 of each house) to override.


It feels like it's the right time to look at the US Senate races for 2006. I've ranked the races in order of where the Democratic candidate is most likely to win.

1) North Dakota - Kent Conrad, once thought to be vulnerable, GOPers couldn't find someone to run against him. Really, the only Republican in the state who could have made it a race is Governor Hoeven, who wouldn't risk a race he could lose. Kent Conrad is the most popular Senator is the Senate, with a 75% approval rating. He could win reelection by 70 or more points.

2) Wisconsin - Herb Kohl has been running against no one for a while now, as GOPers tried to get a number of people to run for his seat, including former Governor and HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson. The race never materialized and Kohl's money (yes, he owns Kohl's stores) will make it a sleeper. Expect Kohl to win by 50 points.

3) Massachusetts - I don't even know if Kennedy has an opponent in this race, and I'm not gonna bother to check. The man's a freaking legend, and a great drinker to boot.

4) New Mexico - Jeff Bingaman will win by 30 points. His opponent is nominal, Bingaman has tons of cash, is pretty popular, and will ride on the coattails of Bill Richardson, who will win reelection as governor in a landslide.

5) Delaware - Tom Carper will cruise to reelection.

6) Vermont - Jim Jefford's retirement as the sole Independent in the Senate, will lead to his replacement by another liberal Independent from the U.S. House, Bernie Sanders. The Democrats in the state and nationally have agreed to support Bernie and not run a Democrat this year. Sanders is facing opposition from rich Republican Richard Tarrant, but Sanders is immensely popular, having won eight statewide elections in a row in Vermont. Sanders will win with at least 60%, possibly even topping 70%.

7) California - Dianne Feinstein needs to get a brain, and I'm much more possible to the Junior Senator form California, Barbara Boxer, but she'll be easily reelected in a huge landslide.

8) West Virginia - Robert Byrd, 'nuff said.

9) Hawaii - Congressman Ed Case, a conservative Democrat, gave up his safe House seat to challenge incumbent Democratic Senator Daniel Akaka, a great progressive Senator. Akaka will probably win the primary and Case's career will be over, and thank God, because he wasn't a sure vote for us in the House anyway. Hawaii is so overwhelmingly Democratic and liberal that it's a wonder that Republican Governor Linda Lingle will be easily reelected. The game is the primary here; and I don't even think a Republican has filed for the general.

10) Connecticut - This race could take up nine blog posts, and it already has, but this post is about control of the Senate, and whoever wins the primary, and if Lieberman ends up running as an Independent or not (he could still decide to bow out if Lamont wins the primary), Lieberman or Lamont will be the next Senator and Lieberman will register as a Democrat once4 reelected, caucusing with the Dems. This is about the primary, and possibly about the general between Lieberman and Lamont, but Republican Alan Schlesinger stands zero chance of even nipping at the heels as these two guys go at it.

11) Florida - Bill Nelson is being nominally challenged by Cruella DeVille Katherine Harris. Once thought to be a prime pickup opportunity for the GOP after Nelson barely upset an incumbent GOP Senator in 2000, Harris is about to be romped in one of the greatest campaigns of the year. She will lose by at least 20 points, and she will spend $10 million of her own wealth to do it. This is payback for 2000 when she rigged the vote in FL.

12) New York - Hillary Clinton should have no problem dispensing of John Spencer, crazy conservative former Yonkers mayor, or KT McFarland, who thought Clinton sent black helicopters to her Long Island home to spy on her (that would be George Bush, KT). The question is, will the margin of victory be more or less than twenty points, and how much money will HRC spend on this race and save for the Prez campaign?

13) Nebraska - The GOP thinks it has a chance in this state with Pete Ricketts, a rich CEO, against incumbent Democrat (not really, but for practical matters) Ben Nelson. Nelson is the most conservative Democrat in the caucus by far; he votes with Republicans 50% of the time. This is for the best anyway, because he is from a very red state (though he replaced Bob Kerrey, who was a much more progressive Senator). Nelson was governor of the state for two terms and is very popular, with a 72% approval rating, the third highest in the entire Senate. Polls have shown him way ahead of Ricketts, and he is ahead in the money race too. But Ricketts is rich and will spend a lot of money to defeat Nelson. Nelson will probably end up winning by double digits, but this could get nasty.

14) Pennsylvania - This clearly is the best opportunity for Democrats to win come November. Rick Santorum is immensely unpopular, with his extreme views on social issues (man on dog, man on child comments anyone?) and his not even living in Pennsylvania (his children and wife live full time in Virginia, he owns a home in Pennsylvania, but rents it out to other people). His approval rating is 36% according to SurveyUSA and he has a disapproval rating of 55%, second only to one other Senator. He is running against the very popular Bob Casey, Jr., son of the former Governor, who is State Treasurer and was formerly State Auditor. Even though Santorum is far ahead in the money race, and will throw a lot of slime at Casey, his numbers are just really bad. Out of seven Quinnipiac polls taken over the last 14 months, Casey has never led by less than 11 points and has led by as much as 18 points in two of those polls. Rasmussen Reports, a GOP firm, gives similar numbers. Out of their nine polls over the last year, Rasmussen shows Casey up by at least nine points in every poll and as much as 23 points in one. This has been one of the most static races in the Senate this year, with nearly four dozen polls conducted by a variety of firms over the last year and a half, and not a single poll showing Santorum up over Casey. The average of all of these polls shows Casey up by 14 points and it looks like is is getting better. The average of the 10 polls taken in the last four months shows Casey up 16 points. Bush is also extremely unpopular. His approval in the state is 33% and he has a 65% disapproval rating. Unless Casey has a huge scandal in his closet, expect him to win this race by double digits. I've been surprised that Charlie Cook has kept this race in the Toss-Up column for so long considering how dead Santorum looks.

15) Michigan - Debbie Stabenow could be vulnerable. She barely knocked off Spencer Abraham, the incumbent Republican in 2000, who later became Energy Secretary. She is not the most popular Senator, and Democrats are taking a lashing in her state, especially Jennifer Granholm, Michigan's governor, who is trailing in polls to billionaire Dick DeVos (really, when you're that rich, and he's one of the top 50 richest people in the world, it's really not fair, how can Granholm compete financially). But the Republicans have terrible candidates, all three of whom are whipping each other brutally in a primary that will leave the winner with even less of a chance of winning the general than they had before. Stabenow has led in the low double digits for months now, and unless Granholm goes down even more, and the GOP nominee comes out of the primary flush with cash and unscathed, expect Stabenow to win by double digits.

16) Maryland - Ben Cardin and Kweisi Mfume are deadlocked in a close primary race for the Democratic nomination. There are sixteen other candidates for the nomination, though most are fringe candidates, but a few may have enough appeal and money to swing the race to Cardin or Mfume. I would bet that Cardin wins the nomination in the end, but just by a few points. Even though Michael Steele is running as the GOP nominee, and many tout his appeal, especially to the African-American community, expect eith Mfume or Cardin to win handily over Steele. Maryland is just too much of a Democratic state, and with O'Malley going to land a huge win over Governor Bob Ehrlich, Republicans up and down the ticket will suffer.

17) New Jersey - My home state pits Senator Bob Menendez, a really excellent, progressive, and principled Senator versus Tom Kean, Jr., the son born with a silver spoon in his mouth of our former governor and 9/11 commission chairman. Tom Kean, Jr. is a really bad candidate, and it showed in his first two debates with Menendez. He has no grasp of the issues and cannot communicate effectively. He is seriously underfunded in comparison with Bob Menendez and New Jersey is a very Democratic state, with no Republican winning a Senate seat here since 1972 and no Republican winning with more than 50% of the vote since 1988. However, the polls show a lot of undecided's and show the race too close for comfort, though Menendez has opened up a larger lead lately. I expect this to go to Menendez by at least five points, but we'll have to spend a lot of money and time here unnecessarily.

18) Montana - Conrad Burns has been wrapped up in the Abramoff scandal like no other. He has taken more money from Abramoff than any other member of Congress and his staff and himself are under investigation for possible bribery. Burns' numbers are the worst in the Senate, only 36% approve and 60% disapprove. We have a great candidate in Montana with State Senate President Jon Tester, who is a great straight-shooter who won his State Senate seat in a very Republican area. Bush's numbers are bad for Montana, typically a Republican state. Bush has a 42% approval rating and a 56% disapproval here. Montana has been becoming a more Democratic state, with Democrats taking over the governorship, the State Senate and the State House in Montana in 2004, even with John Kerry losing the state by 20 points. Max Baucus is already one Democratic Senator and Tester will make it whole. Polling on this race is close, but Tester holds the edge; Rasmussen shows Tester with 48% and Burns with 44% in the last poll in mid-May, before Tester had won the primary and got amazing press and before he started running great ads and kicked Burns' butt in their first debate. Expect the new poll that comes out today or tomorrow to show Tester ahead by more than six points. This race will be close due to the Republican nature of the state and the money that Burns will spend, but because this is a Democratic year and Tester is such a great candidate and Burns is so unpopular, Tester will definitely win.

19) Minnesota - This will be a very close race. It is an open seat, being vacated by one-term Senator Mark Dayton, who did not think he could win reelection (I think he could have, but that's another matter). Amy Klobuchar, who is the Hennepin County DA (Hennepin County covers Minneapolis and St. Paul, and is the largest county in the state, with 25% of the state's residents in it), is a very strong candidate. She faces opposition in the primary from liberal veternarian Ford Bell (veternarian is not a strike against Bell and neither is liberal, I like both labels) and the Republican nominee will be Congressman Mark Kennedy. The polling is tight, with Klobuchar holding a slight lead pretty consistently. Bush's number's in MN are in the tank: 34% approve, 63% disapprove. This race will be very close, but expect Klobuchar to eke out a slight win of a few points.

20) Washington State - Maria Cantwell is possibly the most endangered Democratic incumbent in the Senate. Polls have shown this race narrowing over the past six months, and SafeCo CEO Mike McGavick has a lot of money. Bush isn't popular here, but he's more popular here than in any other blue state in the country; 38% approve, 60% disapprove. Cantwell's numbers are not very good either, 48% approve, 43% disapprove. Cantwell squeaked by a win over a GOP incumbent in 2000 and Governor Christine Gregoire, who won by a few hundred votes out of millions cast in 2004, is very unpopular. Cantwell is having more trouble with the left right now than the center; if she can convince the base to mobilize for her, she should come out ahead. Even though her numbers are falling, she has never tied or trailed McGavick, with at least a three point lead in every poll. This will be a close race, but Cantwell will squeak out a win.

21) Rhode Island - Lincoln Chafee's in a terrible position. He is a Republican in arguably the most Democratic state in the country. He has a hard-right Republican, Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey, running against him in the primary (and since there are so few Republicans in Rhode Island, they're all conservatives). He's running against moderate liberal Sheldon Whitehouse, former Attorney General of the state, who is primary free. Therefore, Chafee has two candidates, one from the left and one from the right, who are both attacking him hard. Every vote Chafee casts must strike a delicate balance; can't vote for the liberal position because he might lose his primary, and can't vote for the conservative position because he might lose the general. On the gay marriage ban, the flag burning ban, and the estate tax repeal, Chafee sided with the liberals, alienating GOP primary voters. Laffey is getting stronger and polls show the GOP primary neck and neck. With the Republican primary being so small, the candidate who turns out their vote better on primary day will win. Because Laffey's voters are more energized, I expect the primary to be razor thin. Either man could win. If Laffey wins the primary, Whitehouse will win in a landslide. If Chafee wins the primary, Whitehouse has the edge because of polling and the fact that Dmeocrats will do well nationally, not to mention that the primary will have seriously wounded Chafee, possibly fatally. Bush's numbers are among the worst in the country in Rhode Island, with only 27% approving and a whopping 71% disapproving. Don't expect Bush to make campaign trips to RI and expect Whitehouse to run ads that put Chafee and Bush next to each other in a loving embrace. Chafee's numbers are not very good either, 49% approve, 44% disapprove. Polling shows the race with Whitehouse in the margin of error, with Whitehouse slightly leading. But the key number to watch is Republicans; 54% disapprove, while 39% approve, and among conservatives, 52% disapprove, 41% approve. With numbers like these, it's hard to see how Chafee wins the GOP nod, unless GOPers in RI realize they have no chance of holding onto the seat with Laffey.

22) Missouri - Jim Talent just barely won his seat in 2002 against Jean Carnahan, the wife of former Governor Mel Carnahan, who died in a plane crash as he was about to beat John Ashcroft for the Missouri Senate seat in 2000. Jean Carnahan was not a very smart or political woman and just barely lost to Talent in a year that went very Republican. This time, with Democrats doing well nationally, and a great candidate in Claire McCaskill. According to Rasmussen, these two have been within the margin of error for the last year, with McCaskill opening up a six point lead in a recent poll from Research 2000. Talent's numbers are not great with 48% approval and 43% disapproval. But what's interesting is what is behind those numbers. Independents disapprove of Talent 49% to 44% and Democrats only disapprove 56% to 34%. Since I doubt 34% of Democrats will vote for Talent over McCaskill in the end, expect McCaskill to win this race based on whether Independents come to her side (which they probably will on stem cell research, which has become a big issue in this race because of a proposed state constitutional amendment supporting funding, which McCaskill and most of the state support, and Talent opposes).

23) Ohio - Mike DeWine is not a particularly terrible Republican. He is not a radical conservative, he is not scandal-ridden, and he is not particularly disliked by his constituents. But he is in the perfect storm. Because of coingate, the scandal that has destroyed the Republican party in Ohio, giving GOP Governor Bob Taft an 18% approval rating, the lowest in gubernatorial history, in any state. Ted Strickland, the Democratic nominee for Governor, is headed for a landslide win, and Bush's numbers in the state are just terrible, with 36% approval and 62% disapproving. DeWine's numbers have followed suit, with 41% approval and 49% disapproval. By all measures, it seems that this would be a great pickup opportunity, possibly the best in the country, even better than Pennsylvania. But alas, Democrats are very stupid. For no reason, Democrats pushed Paul Hackett, a great candidate, who barely lost a congressional race against Jean Schmidt in a special election in 2005 in a district where Bush won two-thirds of the vote in 2004, out of the race. Rep. Sherrod Brown won the Democratic primary and is now our nominee. While a pretty good candidate, Brown has a very liberal voting record, and is far less effective in communicating than Hackett would have been. DeWine is piling up money and will attack Brown with no shame. While I expect this race to be close, and polling shows this race all over the place, with both candidates up and by varying margins, I would give DeWine the slight edge because Brown just is not a terrific candidate. That said, if there is a Democratic sweep nationwide, and Strickland wins the governor's race by double digits, expect Brown to ride on the coattails of these two factors to a substantial, five or six point win.

24) Tennessee - Harold Ford, Jr. is a great candidate. He is moderate for Tennessee (a little conservative for me, though), great communicator, affable, no skeletons from himself (though some scandal in his family), and can raise money. Unfortunately, Tennessee is in the South. And even though the whole country is sour on the GOP, Tennessee is not as sour as most places. Bush's numbers here are pretty bad: 37% approve, 61% disapprove, about the same as the national average. But polls show Ford trailing any of his three Republican opponents by anywhere from two to six points. Considering that Republicans are bloodying themselves in their nasty three way primary, and no one is attacking Harold Ford yet, you'd think the race would be dead even or Ford slightly ahead. Tennessee may be too reluctant to elect a Democrat, especially a black Democrat (the South has moved a lot in the last forty years with respect to racial tolerance, but not that far). Unless there is a strong national wave, and the GOP candidate is very bloodied by the primary, expect the race to be close, but for the GOP to eke out a slight win.

25) Virginia - George Allen is more vulnerable than people think. He has spent most of his time outside of Virginia for the last two years, running for President. He has made comments syaing he is bored with the Senate and he wished he were born in Iowa, not Virginia (he was born in California actually). The state has become far more moderate since he was last elected in 2000, with Mark Warner and Tim Kaine winning statewide in the last few years and with John Kerry increasing his total over Gore's in VA in 2004. Northern Virginia's population is booming, and it has a decidedly liberal tilt. The immigrant and Hispanic population are booming, not helpful this year, but when they become citizens, expect VA to become a Democratic stronghold. Tim Kaine is a pretty popular governor and Mark Warner remains extremely popular in the state. Jim Webb is the best candidate we could have hoped for; he is a former Democrat-turned Republican-turned Democrat again and is a decorated Vietnam War veteran and former Navy Secretary and Assistant Secretary of Defense. He will be able to go to the military communities in Norfolk and Virginia Beach and reach out to servicemen and women who feel abandoned by the anti-military family and anti-veteran policies of Republicans and the huge failures of Republicans on national security and economic issues. The man is quite a libertarian populist, with pro-gun rights, pro-choice, pro-gay rights, and anti-corporate views that fit in well with VA voters. The DSCC has made it known they will make a huge stand in this state, and GUCD will be heavily campaigning for Webb. Webb's advisors, Steve Jarding and "Mudcat" Saunders, rising stars in VA Democratic politics, who ran Mark Warner and Tim Kaine's campaigns, are working for Webb, and trust me, they're good. Bush is really unpopular here: 40% approve, 58% disapprove, and Allen is not extremely popular, with only 52% approving. Polls have shown the race all over the place, but the average has shown that the race is in the single digits, though the high single digits. There are a lot of undecided's here. If Webb can raise money, I think he can win. We picked a great candidate here.

26) Arizona - Jim Pederson is loaded. He's got lots of money, is running a great campaign, and has changing demographics on his side. Arizona's Hispanic population has grown enormously and the state is becoming more Democratic. Janet Napolitano is very popular as the state's Governor; 58% approve, 38% disapprove. She will likely win her race this year in a twenty point landslide. Jon Kyl is not that popular, with a 45%-43% approval-disapproval. John McCain's numbers are far higher at 64% approval, and Kyl will not be able to get John McCain's magic to rub off on him; McCain has endorsed Kyl but probably will not campaign that much for him because they have a very bad relationship. Bush's numbers in Arizona are pretty bad; 39% approve, 58% disapprove. I expect this race to get a lot closer, as polls now show Kyl with an average lead of 10 points, but it's gotten much closer from when Kyl was up by more than twenty points. But even with the race getting closer, Arizona is still a red state, and Pederson will probably lose; though probably by only a few points. If there is a Democratic wave, this is certainly a seat that will come our way, but short of that, we'll lose.

27) Nevada - I see this as a great opportunity for us. Jack Carter, Jimmy Carter's son, is actually a great candidate, and is working his butt off to win this race. Bush's numbers in Nevada are worse than in any other state that Bush won in 2004; 34% approve, 64% disapprove, and John Ensign has voted with the President over 90% of the time. Polls show Carter down by double digits, but Ensign has never gotten above 53% in any poll and his approval ratings are not terrific; 52% approve, 37% disapprove. If Harry Reid actively helps Carter and Carter can raise big money, this could become a real race, though I doubt Carter can pull it off without significant funds and a national wave. Expect this race to be closer than anyone could have imagined, possibly with Ensign winning by less than five points, but in the end, we will probably not win.

28) Texas - Not a great state for us. The governor's race this year is crazy with four serious candidates. Kay Bailey Hutchison is popular, and Bush is not doing that bad in his home state; 51% appr0ve, 48% disapprove, one of a very small number of states that actually approve of the President. Barbara Ann Radnofsky is our candidate here, and she's actually a pretty good candidate; but she'll have no money, no national support, and I'm sorry for those Texas Democrats, but she's in Texas.

29) Wyoming - Craig Thomas is running for reelection against professor Dale Groutage, who is a really nice and quirky former weapons scientist for the DoD. But this is a no-brainer, Thomas will win in a landslide.

30) Utah - Internet developer Pete Ashdown is a really motivated fellow and should run for a local office or Congress one day, but incumbent Orrin Hatch is very popular, and so is Bush, in this extremely red, conservative state. Hatch will win by 30 or more points.

31) Maine - Olympia Snowe, why are you still a Republican? Better yet, why couldn't we find a good Dem to run against you (Snowe has a nominal Democratic opponent)? You're more conservative than Chafee and Maine is a pretty liberal state. But you're so popular (she's the most popular Senator in the country). Alas, in 2012, please retire, and a good Dem will nab your seat.

32) Mississippi - Trent Lott, who I enjoy for comic relief, will easily win reelection (unfortunately, he almost decided not to run because of his financial situation, sucks to be hurt and down in the gutter, doesn't it Trent).

33) Indiana - Richard Lugar has no opponent. Very upsetting, Bayh should have run for his seat (oh, no wait!).

In conclusion, and I'm impressed if you've read all of this, if there is a Democratic landslide this year, expect Democrats to win every seat rated 27 and above, for a net pickup of nine seats. This is unlikely. If there is a Democratic wave, but no landslide, expect Democrats to win virtually all of the seats listed 25 and above, for a pickup of between five and seven seats. If Democrats pickup with only a light breeze at their backs, expect virtually every seat above 21 to go Democrat, with a net gain of about 2-4 seats. Right now, I'd say that the safest bet is a net pickup for Democrats of anywhere between 2-6 seats. But just wait, in 2008, Republicans have 21 seats to defend, to only 12 for Democrats. The Dem seats are almost entirely safe, even with retirements, while the Republicans face multiple retirements and a host of vulnerable incumbents. If we don't take back the Senate this year, expect Democrats to pick up six to ten Senate seats in 2008, giving us a strong majority.


Even though we’re more than two years out from the next presidential election, it’s no secret that campaigning is already well under way, with, by my count, around a dozen or so Democrats (give or take a few) contemplating White House runs. Several PACs (the embryonic stage of a presidential campaign) have already started to set up shop in key primary states, establishing field offices, hiring staff, and wooing influential local Dems in these crucial states.

Despite all the water cooler speculations—Will Iowa Gov. Vilsack, polling at an anemic 4th place in his home state, decide not to run? Will Obama decide to throw his hat into the ring? Does anybody besides Chris Dodd actually believe that Chris Dodd is going to be the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee?—you may have missed an oft-overlooked, but no less important, aspect of the rapidly shaping 2008 race: the schedule of the primaries themselves.

Iowans and New Hampshirites (yes, that’s what they’re called—I looked it up) zealously guard their first-in-the-nation statuses with the paranoia of a Jewish grandmother on the streets of Harlem. And why wouldn’t they? Their outsize influence on the eventual nomination results cause otherwise-ordinary candidates to go crazy with Hawkeye/Granite state lovin’. Presidential hopefuls can’t seem to say enough good things about the discerning, informed, patriotic, dedicated (etc., etc… you get the gist) caucus- and primary- goers of IA and NH. They spend an disproportionate amount of time wooing “VIPs” the rest of us have never heard of, with their lips surgically attached the butts of precinct coordinators and county chairmen across the state. I kind of get the feeling that this every-four-years lovefest is the highlight of their otherwise boring lives.

This sense of entitlement that NH and IA primary voters have to being de facto kingmakers in picking the party’s nominee is totally uncalled for. The DNC is seriously considering moving the primary schedule around from ’04 (which produced a nominee in record time—barely three weeks—which isn’t even enough time for voters to get comfortable with the candidates, particularly in an uninterested media environment that reduces a substantive opportunity to debate the real issues in America to a mere horserace).

The DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, which has jurisdiction over such issues, is currently considering several proposals. One option the Committee is considering is a proposal to add a caucus after Iowa but before New Hampshire, a compromise proposal that would enable New Hampshire to keep their coveted “first primary” status while introducing a bit of geographic diversity into the primary process. Ten states (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina, West Virginia, Michigan) and the District have applied to be early-selection states. Rumor has it that the committee has all but decided on Nevada, but the committee won’t make an official recommendation until later this month, and the full DNC won’t vote on caucus/primary schedule until August.

New Hampshire Dems are throwing the political equivalent of a hissy fit at this prospect, with Gov. Lynch releasing a statement that said, in part, “Unfortunately, a small group of party insiders seems more intent on undermining a presidential nominating tradition that has worked well for 50 years - a tradition which ensures that the voices of ordinary citizens are heard. Even more unfortunate is that DNC Chairman Howard Dean - who never would have had the opportunity to be considered a serious presidential contender without the New Hampshire primary - is supporting their efforts.” Oh, snap!

He went on, declaring, “This fight isn't over. In the end, I am confident that New Hampshire and its first-in-the-nation tradition will prevail. The DNC did not give New Hampshire its primary, and it will not take it away.” Lynch and Dem legislators have threatened to move the primary even earlier if things don’t go their way.

This leaves ’08-wannabes in a bit of a bind—those early primaries and caucuses are crucial to a primary victory. Most candidates seem to be taking the traditional route—Evan Bayh, Mark Warner, and John Edwards will all be in Iowa this week—but some are hedging their bets. Tom Daschle, another presidential contender, is scheduling time to visit Michigan, another possible early caucus state, but if you think Daschle, a man who couldn’t even win reelection in his own state, is going to be the nominee in 2008, then I’ve got a bridge in California I’d like to sell you…

But I digress. What I really want to bring your attention to is NH’s supposed “right” to their first-in-the-nation primary, a claim I believe to be wholly without merit.

The Democratic Party is supposed to represent America. And a state with such a crucial role in determining who will be the party’s candidate for president should reflect the demographics of the country as a whole, right? Well, then why does our nation—12.3% black—hold its first presidential primary in a state where blacks make up only 0.8% of the state’s population? (Iowa’s not much better—it’s 92.6% white.) This is completely absurd, and DNC members are correct in their desire to add a Southern or Western state with larger black and Hispanic presences to the early caucus calendar.

New Hampshire voters argue that all of this is irrelevant; they say that they more than make up for their relative lack of diversity with a discerning sense of civic responsibility and political acumen that forces candidates to do “retail politics” and deal with voters one-on-one. While these are both true—rare is the New Hampshire voter who hasn’t met the man he’s voting for in person at least once—polling from 2004 shows that NH’s claims to “vetting” candidates are dubious, at best.

Kos did a story on this last week, and I’m borrowing his numbers here. Let’s take a look at polling from 2004:

Research 2000 for the Concord Monitor:
12/17-18, 2003
Dean 34
Clark 14
Kerry 13
Gephardt 7
Lieberman 7
Edwards 4

The Iowa caucuses were on January 19, 2004. The poll immediately following the caucuses, also by Research 2000, taken January 20-22, 2004:
Kerry 29 (up 16 points)
Dean 21 (down 13)
Clark 17 (+3)
Edwards 9 (+5)
Lieberman 5 (-2)

That’s some nice vetting there, New Hampshire. Kos writes, “In 2004, Iowa picked out nominee, and New Hampshire did nothing more than rubberstamp Iowa’s decision. No amount of “retail politics” on the ground in New Hampshire could overcome what Granite State voters saw in the Iowa results and Dean’s ‘scream’.”

I rarely agree with Markos Moulitsas on anything, but he’s nailed it on the head here. NH’s sense of entitlement is wholly without merit. While there are a lot of things about the primary schedule that I would like to see the DNC change—I think that the front-loaded primary schedule that generates a nominee in only a few weeks is a huge mistake, for instance—I think that NH’s status as first-in-the-nation, while a great tradition, is an idea that is past its prime. Unfortunately, nothing will change as long as candidates are too scared of alienating influential Granite State voters to stand up for what we already know—that New Hampshire’s primary is a privilege, not a right, and that it’s time to consider changing the primary schedule to reflect the reality of America.


Just in case you weren't watching, today:

  • George Bush called for diplomacy with North Korea (you know, after they played with nuclear weapons), but warned that it would take some time. Funny how we're willing to wait for conversation with North Korea but couldn't wait for Saddam to talk...I guess NK at least has WMDs. How can we trust him to take care of this issue? This is more about national security than Iraq ever was and we need someone strong and capable to keep us safe.
  • The New York Supreme Court decided it was not unconstitutional to ban gay marriage in the state. The judges went so far as to state that stability was an issue with gay marriages and that because of this, children could be potentially hurt if not raised in a household with a man and a woman. Stability? Do they know what the divorce rate is in NYC?
  • Last night, the man who committed one of the largest fraudulent crimes in history, died of a heart attack. Where's the justice, people? Ken Lay didn't have to live with guilt, knowing that he had taken away the retirement of thousands of innocent, hardworking Americans. The man died in his vacation home in Colorado without ever even seeing his jail sentence (not that I think a jail sentence was enough...).
  • And, on top of all of this, 3 people were arrested for trying to sell Coke's recipe to Pepsi. That's right, 3 Americans were trying to cheapen the wonderful, caffeinated concotion that we all adore. I mean, I'm downright offended. I'm not kidding when I say that the fact that Georgetown is a Coke campus definitely helped me make that tough college decision...

With all of this news, some days I just feel like I should turn off the news and get back to sleep. We all need to keep hoping that we wake up to a better, bluer 2006!