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September 18, 2014

Posts in "Alaska"

September 8, 2014

Rothenberg: Senate GOP Gains At Least 7 Seats

 Rothenberg: Senate GOP Gains At Least 7 Seats

Pryor is one incumbent in perilous position. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

While the current Rothenberg Political Report ratings don’t show it, I am now expecting a substantial Republican Senate wave in November, with a net gain of at least seven seats.

But I wouldn’t be shocked by a larger gain.

Rothenberg Political Report ratings reflect both where a race stands and, more importantly, where it is likely headed on Election Day. Since early polls rarely reflect the eventual November environment, either in terms of the candidates’ name recognition and resources or of the election’s dynamic, there is often a gap between how I categorize each race (my ratings) and what I privately assume will happen in November.

That gap closes as Election Day approaches, of course, since polling should reflect changes in name identification, candidate and party spending, and voter attitudes as November approaches.

Full story

August 26, 2014

Top 5 Races to Watch in the West

begich 160 091114 Top 5 Races to Watch in the West

Begich will face Sullivan in a high-stakes election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The West has been difficult territory for Republicans over the last decade or so, but small GOP gains in the region could be a sign of larger gains elsewhere around the country.

If Republicans can win the Alaska Senate race, they would be in strong position to win that chamber’s majority. And picking up a House seat or two in California would likely be the icing on a very good night for Republicans.

Three races dropped from our Top 5 list since last summer. Nevada’s 3rd District is barely regarded as competitive at this point. The Hawaii Senate race isn’t worth watching anymore after Sen. Brian Schatz survived the Democratic primary. And GOP Rep. David Valadao is looking stronger and stronger in California’s 21st District, at least in this midterm election.

Here are the top five races to watch in the West this year: Full story

April 14, 2014

The War of Obamacare Anecdotes in the 2014 Elections

A couple months ago on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, I said that I thought the 2014 elections would be driven by anecdotes related to the Affordable Care Act. I think a pair of ads in two of the most competitive Senate races in the country could be a pretty accurate roadmap for the debate that is coming over the next six months.

Last week in Alaska, an outside group called Put Alaska First went on the air with a new, 30-second television ad, “Beat,” featuring cancer survivor Lisa Keller talking about her struggle to gain insurance coverage and thanking  Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, for his fight against the insurance companies.

Full story

February 7, 2014

How Candidates Share Without Coordinating With Outside Groups

With each passing election cycle, both parties are figuring out new ways to skirt campaign finance laws.

A couple years ago, I wrote about how the official and independent expenditure wings of the campaign committees share opposition research and message points through less-traveled regions of the Web. That “IE Strategy Borders on Art Form” might be worth a second glance as the cycle heats up.

Some candidates are also conveniently sharing video footage for potential use by independent groups for television ads through links that are sometimes difficult to find unless you know where to look.

For example, Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley is running for the open Senate seat in Iowa. includes a trio of b-roll videos, but the webpage is found only by a small link at the bottom of the main page.

Need video of Braley talking with old people? No problem. There’s “Bruce Braley Stands With Iowa Seniors” — one minute and 23 seconds of gripping b-roll of the congressman with senior citizens layered with smooth elevator music, unencumbered by audio of Braley or a narrator actually talking. Full story

October 1, 2013

Republican Senate Hopefuls Vary in Quality, Approach

I recently interviewed four Republican Senate candidates in the space of one week, and if I had to draw a single assessment from those meetings it would be that there is plenty of diversity in the GOP’s class of Senate hopefuls.The four differed in stature, style and background, and they dealt with the party’s internal debate of style and strategies in a variety of ways.

Republicans must hold South Carolina and win at least one — maybe more — of the other three races to have any chance of taking back the Senate next year. And that makes these contests in South Carolina, North Carolina, Iowa and Alaska all worth watching.

On one end of the continuum was state Sen. Lee Bright, one of three conservatives who hopes to deny South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham renomination and win the GOP nod himself.

Bright, whose professional career started with selling televisions at Circuit City, has experienced a series of business setbacks. In fact, I’m not entirely clear how he makes a living, though he said something about truck brokerage and credit card processing. He seems affable, but he lacks gravitas. Full story

September 24, 2013

Republicans Win Belated Legal Battles, but Elections Can’t Be Undone

You can’t rewrite history, but Republicans probably wish you could.

While two high-profile former GOP officeholders — Texas Rep. Tom DeLay and the late Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens — have now had their convictions overturned or dismissed, Republicans are still dealing with the political consequences.

It’s easy to forget the electoral impact of DeLay’s and Stevens’ legal problems at the time.

DeLay, the former House majority leader, stepped down from his post in fall 2005 when a grand jury convicted him of campaign finance violations. He eventually resigned from office in June 2006 and was later convicted in fall 2010. Full story

July 14, 2013

Top 5 Races to Watch in the West

Even in good Republican years, the West has proved to be something of a Democratic firewall. But in 2014, Republicans will likely need to win a big Senate race in Alaska to have any chance of flipping the chamber. And if the GOP were to suffer a three- or four-seat loss in California House seats, it might well put its control of the U.S. House in jeopardy.

Here are the top five races to watch in the West next year:

Alaska Senate. Defeating Democratic Sen. Mark Begich is crucial for Republicans if they plan on being in the majority in the Senate. The GOP will have a primary, but as long as the party does not nominate Joe Miller again, the party should be in the ballgame on Election Day. Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating: Tossup/Tilt Democrat. Get the full Rothenberg Political Report analysis here ($).

California’s 52nd District. Democratic Rep. Scott Peters defeated GOP Rep. Brian Bilbray last year in a San Diego-area district, but he is already a Republican target. Former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio is running close to Peters, and the race has hardly started. DeMaio, who is openly gay, is running as a new kind of Republican, but Democrats plan to tell another story. Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating: Lean Democrat. Full story

May 13, 2013

Alaska Senate Poll: Far, Far Less Than Meets the Eye

A Harper Polling survey conducted for the Tea Party Leadership Fund, an obscure conservative group that has supported Georgia Republican Rep. Paul Broun and Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul, is one of those polls probably meant for fundraising and little else.

Though writing about the poll and the polling memo automatically gives them more attention than they deserve, those of us in the media can’t merely ignore these kinds of questionable polls conducted for groups that seem more interested in fundraising than in affecting elections.

The May 6-7 IVR survey of 379 respondents tested former Gov. Sarah Palin, 2010 GOP Senate nominee Joe Miller and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell in a three-way Republican primary ballot test, as well as Palin-Miller and Treadwell-Miller in head-to-head ballot tests.

The Harper Polling memo claims that Palin “leads” in the three-way ballot (Palin 32 percent, Treadwell 30 percent, Miller 14 percent), even though her 2-point advantage over Treadwell is well within the poll’s margin of error.

Both Palin and Treadwell lead Miller in head-to-heads, but the lack of a Palin-vs.-Treadwell ballot test deserves to raise eyebrows about the group’s motivation in underwriting the survey. Even including Palin in the poll seems odd. Treadwell has already formed an exploratory committee, while there is no reason to believe that Palin is in the least bit interested in a Senate race.

The polling memo says that “Palin boasts the strongest image” among GOP voters, but that is far from an entirely accurate assessment.

Palin’s name ID ratings are 62 percent favorable/30 percent unfavorable, while Treadwell’s are 54 percent favorable and 15 percent unfavorable. His favorable rating is lower than Palin’s, but his favorable-to-unfavorable ratio is much better. Her ratio is about 2-to-1, while his is close to 3.5-to-1. Treadwell’s unfavorable rating is half of Palin’s.

As for the Tea Party Leadership Fund, according to its 2012 end-of-the-year Federal Election Commission report, the group raised $1.17 million. Almost 90 percent of that came from small-dollar, unitemized individual contributions.

But the fund spent only a little more than $205,000 (less than 18 percent of total receipts) on contributions to candidates or on independent expenditures. More than half of the fund’s federal disbursements during the same period — $545,248 of $951,096 — went to Strategic Fundraising, a well-known Minnesota-based GOP fundraising firm.

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