Friday, January 11, 2008

GOP Race: DC/Maryland/Virginia May Matter...And so Will Money

That's what David Freddoso thinks. Give it a read, this primary season is shaping up to simply be the best...primary...ever. At least for historical purposes.

As many others have said, Freddoso believes that a lot of the Huckabee vote in the South (and Giuliani vote overall) hinge on how well Fred Thompson does in South Carolina.

Also, as Freddoso points out, money may become a factor if this becomes a total national slugfest. This is where Romney's ability to self-finance and raise funds will come into play, as he will be able to sustain himself much longer than most of the other candidates.

I haven't seen fundraising numbers for Huckabee or McCain, but I do know that Giuliani is in trouble (asking for campaign workers to voluntarily stop receiving paychecks), and Fred Thompson's fundraising has picked up to the point that current fundraising challenges have had their limits increase due to the fact that donations have picked up recently.

Obenshain Introduces Title Loan Regulation

Sen. Mark Obenshain (26th-Harrisonburg) pre-filed SB565 on 01/09, which regulates "Car Title Loan" lenders, such as LoanMax. Here is the summary of the bill from RichmondSunlight.

Regulates motor vehicle equity loans, which are closed-end loans secured by an interest in a motor vehicle. The measure caps the interest on such loans at 20 percent per month for the first two months and three percent per month for the balance of the term. If such a loan is repaid in full within 48 hours, the loan shall not bear interest. The maximum term of such a loan is 12 months. The maximum amount of a motor vehicle equity loan is 50 percent of the value of the motor vehicle. Lenders are required to be licensed with the State Corporation Commission. A violation of the measure is a prohibited practice under the Consumer Protection Act. Violators are subject to civil and criminal penalties. Making unlicensed motor vehicle equity loans, or arranging or brokering motor vehicle equity loans, is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Not a bad deal, really. It caps the interest, but does so that is more advantageous for these companies to profit in the short-term. It also requires them to be licensed with the State Corporation Commission, which should've happened already, and provides penalties for making unlicensed vehicle equity loans. Fairly sensible legislation.

Read the full text here.

Finnegan at hburgnews has a good post on this.

Financial News: Bank of America Purchases Countrywide Financial

Countrywide Financial, the new symbol of the housing market downturn and subprime mortgage crisis, will be purchased by Bank of America for a fairly modest $4 billion. The purchase will be complete by the 3rd Quarter of this year, and is expected to provide a boost Bank of America's stock in 2009.

Interesting, because Bank of America has some rather large coffers, which may save Countrywide from filing bankruptcy.

In other stock market news, in case you haven't kept up, today is another one of those "market correction" days, as the Dow is down over 285 points as I type this. I'm going to hate looking at my 401K tomorrow...

An Anti-Huckabee Evangelical...?

This comment from the South Carolina Debate thread at Michelle Malkin caught my eye. Unlike much of the thread, she doesn't praise Fred Thompson (although she espouses some love for him at the end, she is a Mitt Romney supporter, first), but this person, whose handle is "RealImmigrantChick", brings up some interesting points in her comment...

I am an evangelical and I will NEVER vote for the Huckster. I will also not vote for McCaine. I would rather sit it out in 2008 if either of these guys is our nominee. Why do so many Christians (I am sorry if I offend my brethren) fall for someone just cause they can quote the Bible? Look at his fruit: 1) misplaced compassion for the criminals, not the victims; 2) misplaced compassion for the illegals, not legal immigrants and citizens whose wages have plummeted cause of illegals; 3) raising taxes for social programs and big government (the Bible leaves good works to us, as Christians, not government. It also says, those who do not work, should not eat (St. Paul)- i.e., no welfare, etc., and Huckster sounds like a goverment services type of guy). No way to him or McCaine. I will hold my breath with Rudy, since he is a bit more bearable, but never these 2. I like Mitt. I believe his change on abortion. I have chaned my position too, I used to be pro-choice, now I am vehimently against it. So, his change does not bother me, I APPLAUD IT!!!!! More people should since that is what we want, changed hearts on this issue. I love Fred also.

A lot to digest, there, but I found it to be rather interesting. An anti-Huckabee evangelical...could we be seeing a bit of a backlash?

Rasmussen Polls on Both Sides of the Mason-Dixon...

Head-to-head matchups between Republican candidates and Democratic candidates, courtesy of Rasmussen Reports.

Maryland (as if we expect surprises here)
Obama 48%, McCain 42%
McCain 45%, Clinton 43%
Obama 55%, Romney 34%
Clinton 52%, Romney 39%

There is a surprise in Maryland...McCain has a lead over Clinton. Maryland is one of the "bluest" states in the nation, so for McCain to make a crack in the Dem foundation here is encouraging.

Oh yeah, and Martin O'Malley has a 33% approval rating as Governor, which is lower than President Bush's 36% approval rating amongst Marylanders...HA! Bring back Bob Ehrlich, Maryland, he was good for you. Moving on...

McCain 48%, Clinton 42%
McCain 46%, Obama 38%
Clinton 49%, Romney 39%
Obama 43%, Romney 38%
Clinton 46%, Huckabee 44%

Pennsylvania is a very odd state. They like their Democrats conservative and their Republicans liberal (well, to an extent). That would explain Huckabee's ability to hang with Hillary. Romney isn't doing well here, either...but his gap between himself and Obama is half of what it is with Hillary. Once again, that's The Keystone State's tendency to buck the trends, as Romney tends to match up better with Clinton than Obama.

I previously examined the battleground states, and I did not include Pennsylvania because of recent trends. However, given that McCain and Huckabee are doing so well up there, I may soon include Pennsylvania as a swing state if this trend continues.

Fred's Debate Domination

Jim Geraghty dishes out his winner from last night's debate...

Winner: Thompson. This performance was so commanding, I wanted his last answer to echo back to the lights in the back of the auditorium, blow out all the lamps and spotlights, for the theme to “the Natural” to play, and for him to trot around the stage in slow motion while sparks showered down in the background.

Commanding...such a great adjective. According to Geraghty, even the infamous Frank Luntz focus group is coming around

For once I’m in total agreement with Frank Luntz’s focus group – they loved Fred. They’re saying he showed passion.

First he dominated the last Iowa debate with his leadership skills and firm stance, then he won the New Hampshire debates by being deep and solid on the issues, and now he won the South Carolina debate by displaying his passion.

Most of the liveblogging of the debate that I've seen has noted Fred's dominance, and it couldn't have come at a better time. Other sentiments echo the opinion that Fred really took it to Huckabee and had him reeling badly from it.

In other Fred news, the "big, big" conservative endorsement came from the periodical Human Events. While a great endorsement from one of Ronald Reagan's favorite magazines, not quite as "big" as some of us thought it was. Still, it's another solid endorsement from the conservative flank of the GOP.

U.S. At Risk of Losing Triple-A Credit Rating Within a Decade

And guess why? It's the fact that our government is spending way to much on health care, social security, and welfare.

These are the programs the Democrats are looking to spend more money on. This is also some of Fred Thompson's best issues in terms of how we should tackle these problems.

- Create a free-market approach towards health care.
- Individualize and optionally-privatize social security.
- Increase welfare effectiveness so only those that need it get it.
- Decrease number of people on welfare through stimulating economic and employment growth.

That, in itself, would save our credit rating...which is the same rating we have held since the rating was first applied in 1917. In other words, can literally cannot afford to have a tax-and-spend, social-program increasing Democrat in office.

Fiscal prudence is key, and Fred Thompson knows it.

Snow Falls in Baghdad

For the first time that anyone can remember, snow is falling on the streets of Baghdad. This seems to be causing a serious lift in spirits amongst the citizens within the city.

"It is the first time we've seen snow in Baghdad," said 60-year-old Hassan Zahar. "We've seen sleet before, but never snow. I looked at the faces of all the people, they were astonished," he said.

"A few minutes ago, I was covered with snowflakes. In my hair, on my shoulders. I invite all the people to enjoy peace, because the snow means peace," he said.

Traffic policeman Murtadha Fadhil, huddling under a balcony to keep dry, declared the snow "a new sign of the new Iraq."

It's a sign of hope. We hope Iraqis will purify their hearts and politicians will work for the prosperity of all Iraqis."

That seems to be the general feeling, that snow is an omen of peace. Maybe this omen will mean that the Iraqi government will finally start to get itself straightened out, and we can finally end the rebuilding process and our soldiers can come back home, proud of the work they've accomplished.

Also...anyone else find it odd that, during this period of supposed global warming, it's snowing in Baghdad...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Warner Waffling on Immigration

Adam Sharp has a great post up at Daily Whackjob where he talks about Mark Warner's incredibly vague and contradicting positions on illegal immigration.

Warner basically is trying to play both sides of the fence. Sharp's post states...

Knowing there were conservative Democrats as well as business leaders in the room, he didn’t quite waffle but he did express support for just about everything short of mass deportation and amnesty. He’s for a stronger border, he thinks the law should be enforced to send illegals back, he doesn’t want to automatically deport all illegals, he wants a path to citizenship, he is both in favor and opposed to expanding the guest worker program, he wants stricter rules on employers, he wants a national ID card with biometrics.

Democrats just cannot grasp that in periods of economic uncertainty, immigration is always an issue and they need to have an answer. They can’t even take a position! Governor Kaine won’t do anything that will upset well-connected Northern Virginia minorities, and he also hasn’t answered the concerns of localities about deporting criminals and zoning violations. I guess he thinks inaction is a policy. That won’t get Creigh Deeds or Brian Moran elected (though it might get them nominated), and it certainly won’t win the House of Delegates.

It's true, the Democrats really are attempting to straddle both sides of the fence on this issue, both at the state level and on a national level. The Democratic flip-flopping on this is bad enough to make Sharp, who has worked on several Dem campaigns in Virginia, say this...

I haven’t found an immigration proposal I like completely, but I must say I prefer John McCain’s “straight talk” to Democratic avoidance and indecision. He and Mike Huckabee have made principled arguments in response to real voter concerns. That’s more than I can say about a lot of Democrats, including a senate candidate who thinks he’s already begun his victory lap.

If Warner's confidence/overconfidence turns into arrogance, he may find himself on the losing end of the election come November.

Something Is A-Brewin' for Fred Thompson...

According to the American Spectator, Fred Thompson is set to receive a "big, big conservative endorsement." The question is...who?

Virginia Virtucon speculates it could be the NRA. Being a frequent visitor to the AR-15 forums (143,508 active accounts as I type this) and marvelling at the simply massive size of the membership of those forums, an NRA endorsement would have quite a bit of sway in states such as, oh, South Carolina (and Michigan, too).

Democratic Presidential Race - News and Notes

A lot going on in the sphere of the Democratic Presidential race today...

- John Kerry has endorsed Barack Obama for President. Interesting, but not interesting at the same time. Interesting, because he didn't endorse former running mate John Edwards (of course, there is a bit of bitterness there between them). Not interesting because it was Obama, who delivered his famous keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, that brought some attention to Kerry's campaign when the Massachusetts Senator ran for President.

- Bill Richardson is going to withdraw from the race. A bit sorry to see him go, as he was actually qualified (resume-wise) for the job. However, the "big 3" just have too much star power and gravitas for him to compete with. He did have a couple of the best campaign commercials, and is rumored to be one of the top VP choices for all candidates.

- Latest South Carolina polls...

Rasmussen Reports
Obama 42%, Clinton 30%, Edwards 15%

Obama 40%, Clinton 33%, Edwards 15%

Obama 50%, Clinton 30%, Edwards 16%

While these were all done prior to, or on the day of, the New Hampshire primary...Clinton has some serious ground to cover here. Michigan appears, as of now, to be safely in Clinton's hands...however, I can't find a survey from up there that is any more recent than mid-November.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

N.H. Exit Polls: McCain Carries Anti-War Republican Vote...Huh?

I kid you not, this is straight from CNN's exit polling in New Hampshire...

Exit polls found 64 percent of Tuesday's Republican voters still support the conflict -- and Romney, whose criticism of Bush's management of the war has been muted, led McCain among those voters. But among the 34 percent who said they disapproved of the war, McCain had a wide advantage over the GOP field -- even over Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the sole advocate of a U.S. withdrawal in the Republican field.

A big h/t to The Campaign Spot for that link and the quote, but there's more strange happenings in New Hampshire. For instance, the evangelical vote...

Compared with the Iowa caucuses, where 60 percent of Republicans described themselves as evangelicals, exit polls in New Hampshire put evangelical turnout at about 21 percent.

Among those evangelical voters, Huckabee got only 32 percent, while McCain got 31 percent.

There is also a lot of "Bush hate" in the state...

Almost two-thirds of Democrats polled (65 percent) said they were "angry" with the Bush administration. And almost half of Republicans, (49 percent) said they were angry or dissatisfied with the Bush administration.

I imagine New Hampshire Republicans are mad, New Hampshire was the state that tried to get McCain elected in 2000. I guess they feel a bit mad that the rest of the nation didn't quite go along with them. As for the angry Democrats...well, they're always angry. What else can you say?

Interesting Rasmussen Poll on Virginia Senate and Presidential Races

Virginia Virtucon posted and prognosticated about the latest from Rasmussen on the state of Virginia today. Currently, Mark Warner leads Jim Gilmore in the head-to-head Senate race matchup 53%-38%

I must note that Virtucon is dead on about the fact that Mark Warner, with all of his supposed popularity, should be doing better than 53%. Gilmore's 38%, however, isn't very good considering he is a high-profile politician in Virginia who has had plenty of national exposure.

On the immigration front, here's what Rasmussen found...

Eighty-four percent (84%) of Virginia voters believe English should be the official language of the United States. Seventy-four percent (74%) believe companies should be allowed to require employees to speak English while on the job.

In terms of election ballots, the voters are more evenly divided. Just over half (55%) believe ballots should be printed in English only, while 39% say they should printed in both English and Spanish.

So they have to speak English, but they don't have to vote in English. I'm not saying I agree or disagree with the consensus, but you'd think there would be more consistency with those poll numbers, especially on the election ballot issue.

Speaking of Virginia, here's some head-to-head matchup polling for the Presidential race from Rasmussen...

McCain 49%, Clinton 38%
McCain 45%, Obama 43%
Romney 44%, Clinton 43%
Obama 47%, Romney 41%

This is an indicator of how the independents feel. They like Obama and McCain (yes, that's stating the obvious). However, it seems that people are warming back up to McCain a lot, even in this state.

Even I'm beginning to warm back up to McCain...not enough to abandon Fred Thompson, who I think is the best candidate. However, should Fred leave the race, it's either McCain or Romney for me right now. I began to see reasons to support McCain when I saw that, during their overlapping Senate tenures, Thompson and McCain voted the same way 81% of the time.

Maybe Thompson and McCain will be running mates, given how well they've worked together in the past. Who knows.

Hope for Fred in SC

Hunter Golden said it best...

I think the ONE guy who could sneak into the mix is Thompson, with Romney now completely sunk, I think you're going to see some defections to the Thompson crowd. If he takes the conservative stance, he can do well in South Carolina. I think while Huckabee and McCain are essentially playing to the same crowds.

This has actually been part of Fred's campaign strategy as of late. Get 3rd in Iowa, ignore New Hampshire for obvious reasons, and make the push in South Carolina. A 2nd place, or better, finish in SC will provide the shot in the arm to Fred's chances. The defection from Romney to Thompson has been predicted by other prognosticators, as well.

Good news for Fred.

Support the Wise County Power Plant

Kilo has a good post up about the support for the proposed Wise County Power Plant. This would be a "clean-burning coal" power plant. Although I do not live near the coalfields of Virginia, I do support this power plant. It will provide jobs, energy, and boost the economy of an area that really needs a project like this to revitalize the county.

Wise County, if you're unfamiliar with it, is located in southwest Virginia, on the border with Kentucky. It is nestled in the mountains and deep in the heart of the Virginia's coal-mining region.

I understand that many people are against using coal for pollution reasons. However, we have technology to make coal usage much more enviro-friendly. Why not give it a chance? It will provide an economic and technological benefit to the coalfields, and a source of energy for the state of Virginia.

N.H. GOP Primary: McCain's Win Anti-Climactic, Romney's Still Got a Chance

Anyone else feel that John McCain's win in New Hampshire was not nearly the surprise that some have made it out to be?

Sure, he's come back from being nearly dead in the water 8 months ago. However, for about 2 weeks now, we've pretty much known that McCain would overtake Mitt Romney in New Hampshire and win. McCain has been surging for 2 months now, and is actually starting to take away Mike Huckabee's heat (thank God).

Many are already counting Mitt Romney out, but be careful about that kind of prognostication. If McCain, Huckabee, and Rudy Giuliani trade victories all over the United States, Romney seems poised to come in 2nd or 3rd in all of the primaries. He still will collect plenty of delegates even if he gets mostly silver-medal finishes.

With Huckabee's popularity pretty well isolated to evangelicals and other social conservatives, and McCain being a "boom or bust" candidate whose boom or bust depends on the state, Romney could be the most consistent "delegate-collector" of all the candidates.

With the possibility of a contested convention in September, and no one candidate really breaking away to collect enough delegates to win on the first ballot, Romney may put himself into a very advantageous position by winning a few states, and getting a lot of 2nd place finishes.

Honestly, as wide open as this race is...I can definitely see the possibility that no GOP candidate reaches the magic number of 1,191 delegates by the time this thing is over.

After New Hampshire, CNN has the delegate count as follows...

Romney 30, Huckabee 21, McCain 10, Fred Thompson 6, Ron Paul 2, Giuliani 1, Duncan Hunter 1. While it's still REALLY early, we've got Michigan, Nevada, South Carolina, and Florida coming up before Super Tuesday.

Fred Thompson is making his "Last Stand" in South Carolina. Smart move to hedge his bets there, as that is the next "big focus" primary, and the site of the next debate. This is his best shot to get back into this thing.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

GOP Delegate Breakdown, and GOP Ballot Shortages in N.H.

Jim Geraghty says things look something like this...

So presume the polls are accurate, and Mitt Romney comes in second to John McCain this evening.

CNN estimates the delegate breakdown in Iowa as Huckabee 17, Romney 12, Thompson 3, McCain 3, Paul 2. (Why an estimate? Because Iowa's delegates "are chosen in a painfully complicated four-step process lasting months after the January caucus," as David Freddoso reported, as he's the one of the few who actually looked at how this process works. Look, just keep Freddoso's story on how the delegate fight could hash out bookmarked, because we'll need it many times before this thing is through.)

In Wyoming, the delegates break down Romney 8, Thompson 3, Duncan Hunter 1.

So right now, it's Romney 20, Huckabee 17, Thompson 6, McCain 3, Paul 2, Hunter 1.

At stake tonight... New Hampshire will have 12 delegates, their total having been reduced as a penalty for holding the primary earlier than allowed by the Republican National -Committee. They're awarded proportionally. So it wouldn't be shocking to see McCain get 5 delegates and Romney get 4, or maybe 6 to 3. Either way, Romney's still well ahead of McCain, and should keep the lead at the end of the night.

Now, don't get me wrong - Romney's spent a small fortune, and losing both Iowa and New Hampshire wasn't part of the plan. His momentum will be awful, McCain will probably get a poll surge in Michigan, and people will ask, rightly, where Romney can win if he can't win in two states where he's flooded the airwaves with ads and committed tremendous resources.

Next week is Michigan, and it's supposed to have 60; the RNC is punishing them by stripping half their delegates. The state thinks they'll get their delegates reinstated in time for the convention. Either way, that 30 or 60 are awarded proportionally as well.

Interesting. I'm wondering how things will look after South Carolina. That is the do-or-die state for my man, Fred Thompson.

Meanwhile, despite the cries of success that the Democrats are facing ballot shortages in New Hampshire due to record seems that the GOP is ALSO facing ballot shortages.

A great night for Democracy, in my humble opinion.

The Heart of the World Skipped a Beat

With tensions between Iran and the U.S. getting even more strained, a blowout turnout in New Hampshire for the presidential primaries, and the price of oil continuing to put a strain on American wallets, one story has made the world pause and pay attention for 5 seconds...

Hannah Montana uses a body double in concert. *gasp!*

Well, OK, Miley Cyrus only uses the body double for about a minute or two between switching from her "Hannah Montana" image/persona to her real self as Miley Cyrus. However, this has suddenly become an "all the rage" news item.

Glad to see the world has things in perspective...

Anyway, New Hampshire results should start coming in within the next hour or so, I'll get some early returns and thoughts up as soon as possible.


The Hillary collapse continues...

As they barnstorm through New Hampshire, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and her husband are often introduced by supporters who once backed another candidate but converted to her cause.

Today, in Dover, Francine Torge, a former John Edwards supporter, said this while introducing Mrs. Clinton: “Some people compare one of the other candidates to John F. Kennedy. But he was assassinated. And Lyndon Baines Johnson was the one who actually” passed the civil rights legislation.

The comment, an apparent reference to Senator Barack Obama, is particularly striking given documented fears among blacks that Mr. Obama will be assassinated if elected.

Ouch...that's got to sting for the Clinton camp. However, a few hours later came this report from Major Garrett.

Clinton also said Obama and Edwards have acted like hypocrites during the race and appeared to diminish the role Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. played in the civil rights movements, saying it wasn’t hope that King inspired that made the difference but President Lyndon Johnson’s decision to fight for and sign the Civil Rights Act into law.

So MLK's leadership in the Civil Rights Movement wasn't what led to the Civil Rights Act, it was LBJ all along! All those marches, the beatdowns by riot was really pointless. Blacks could've stayed at home, because LBJ was going to give it to them, anyway!

That's American History in Hillary's world.

(h/t NY Times Caucus Blog, The Bourbon Room)

Dem Majority in State Senate is a Bit Shaky

So says Ben over at Not Larry Sabato. Looks like Senator-Elect John Miller (1st District - Newport News) has to explain a few things. For instance, like paying Andrew Shannon over $10K for 15 days worth of work, which seems to be mostly GOTV (get out the vote) work. That's an awful large sum for such a short span of work.

While the source is very questionable, the allegations seem to stick somewhat...due to the nature of the allegations. According to Ben in the comments section of his post, the U.S. Attorney's office in Norfolk is already investigating this.

While trivial, it should be noted that Chuck Colgan (29th District - Manassas) may be slapped on the wrist for failing to display the "Paid for..." disclaimer on some electronic signs put up around his district, which is a violation of election law. This, of course, is also rumor and nothing more at this point.

If Miller were to be found guilty and ousted from his post, this could turn the 21-19 Democratic majority in the State Senate to 20-20, with the Republicans becoming the majority due to Lt. Governor Bill Bolling being the tiebreaker.

George Allen NOT Going to Run for Governor

He announced this earlier today.

Which is fine, with Attorney General Bob McDonnell and Lt. Governor Bill Bolling looking at bids for the GOP nomination, we don't need any more contention. McDonnell and Bolling are both pretty popular across the state as-is.

Joe Gibbs to Announce Retirement Later Today...?

That's what we believe today's 3 pm press conference will be about.

Kudos to Gibbs, who took the Redskins to more playoff appearances in 4 years (2) than they had managed in the previous 12 (1).

Rumor has it Bill Cowher is going to succeed Gibbs, and has even been taking his daughter around local universities (GMU, GW) on recruiting trips, as she is a high school basketball star.

We shall see...

Monday, January 7, 2008

Bob Marshall is Running for Senate, but Will I Endorse Him?

This was noted in multiple blogs today.

I'm still a bit torn between Marshall and Gilmore. The Bloggers for Marshall have done a good job courting my attention and pointing to a lot of Marshall's high points (especially here, here, and here). I waited to see if any Gilmore supporters would respond, and lately I've seen responses from Spank That Donkey (See here and here).

So, who am I going to endorse? The former Governor and Presidential Candidate, or the 13th District Delegate from Prince William County?

I'm going to allow the debate to continue on...but I'll make my own decision by the end of the week.

Breaking Down The Battlegrounds

At this time, the current electoral landscape looks as follows...

Republicans - 142 electoral votes from 18 states are safe.
(Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina)

Democrats - 211 electoral votes from 14 states and D.C. are safe.
(Hawaii, California, D.C., Washington, Oregon, Illinois, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine)

That leaves 179 electoral votes and 18 states still considered "swing" or "battleground" states. Lets take a look at them from a generic "Republican vs. Democrat" standpoint.

Arkansas - Went for Clinton in 92 and 96 (for obvious reasons), Bush in 2000 and 04. Although Democrats control the Governor's mansion and the State Legislature, most pundits agree that the Democrats in Arkansas are much more conservative than the national party. Given the fact that no Dem candidate is from the state, and the "red" swing of the state in presidential elections, I'd say that this state is Republican-leaning. (6 electoral votes)

Colorado - Used to be a GOP stronghold, but Democratic politicians have made big gains here. The DNC is holding it's national convention in Denver this year, as to attract swing voters. However, the strong sentiments against illegal immigration and the generally conservative stance of the state's residents on 2nd Amendment rights and social issues may tip this state to the GOP. Slightly Republican-leaning. (9 electoral votes)

Florida - The point of contention in 2000, but went to Bush by a wider margin in 2004. The large Hispanic population would normally work against the Republicans, except a large portion of them are Cubans, who vote Republican. Also, Governor Charlie Crist is very popular in this state, and while it will be close, I'd put this state down as Republican-leaning. (27 electoral votes)

Indiana - Like Colorado, the GOP once counted on this state as a solid Republican state. However, they suffer from an unpopular Republican governor and a somewhat-stagnant state economy. However, the state has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964. This state is officially a Toss-Up. (11 electoral votes)

Iowa - The Hawkeye State has swung back and forth over the past few elections. Democrats have made impressive gains as of late in the state legislature, governor's mansion, and House of Representatives. Despite the large rural population and socially conservative base within the state, I believe Iowa may trend blue this election. Slightly Democratic-leaning. (7 electoral votes)

Kentucky - Democrats picked up the Governor's mansion a few months ago, but this state still is representated by Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning in the U.S. Senate, and with the job McConnell has done by being a stand-up minority leader in the Senate, the Republicans will get plenty of support here. Republican-leaning. (8 electoral votes)

Michigan - A Democratic stronghold in previous years, but the severe increase in unpopularity amongst state Democrats (especially Governor Jennifer Granholm, at 32% last month) makes this state competitive for the Republicans, especially with the large amount of time Mitt Romney has spent campaigning in the state (which has been otherwise ignored up to this point). However, the Northern Peninsula is very leftward leaning and so is the city of Detroit, which should keep the state as Democratic-leaning. (17 electoral votes)

Minnesota - A tradition of leaning-leftward has moderated itself lately. The election of Senator Norm Coleman in 2003, the re-election of Governor Tim Pawlenty in 2006, and the fact that the GOP is holding it's national convention in St. Paul makes Minnesota a key battleground state where a surprise could take place. Another key fact is the conservative shift that has taken place in Minneapolis/St. Paul and it's suburbs. This state is an official toss-up. (10 electoral votes)

Missouri - The bellweather state of the nation, or so they say, as the state has voted for the eventual winner of every presidential election an astounding 96% of the time. The state went for Bush in 2000 and 2004, but elected Claire McCaskill to the Senate in 2006, although her approval/disapproval rate is pretty evenly split, as well. The mood in the state is a very split one, and that makes the "Show-Me" state a toss-up. (11 electoral votes)

Nevada - Usually a Republican-leaning state in presidential elections, it is also home to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and and very unpopular governor in Jim Gibbons (whose approval rating is under 30%). While Reid is a very powerful figure in Washington, he's carrying a "disapproval" rating of 51% in his home state. Nevada just seems very discontent with their politicians right now. The winner of this state will not hinge on party lines, but on which candidates are nominated. That makes Nevada a toss-up. (5 electoral votes)

New Hampshire - Reverse situation of Arkansas. A formerly Republican state that went Bush in 2000 and Kerry in 2004. While the Republicans are the slightly more-powerful party in New Hampshire, they tend to be more liberal than the national GOP stance. Given the independent nature of the state, I think only one or two GOP candidates have a chance to win here. I'm going to go with a Slight Democratic-Lean here. (4 electoral votes)

New Mexico - Bill Richardson is Governor here, the state's Congressional representation slightly leans Republican overall, and this state went Gore in 2000 and Bush in 04, but both elections were narrowly contested. Both parties will be pushing hard in New Mexico, as popular Senator Pete Domenici is retiring, and his seat will be up for grabs in the 2008 election. While the Democrats are pushing for capturing more states in the West, New Mexico is the only Western state that can be classified as a Democratic-Lean. (5 electoral votes)

Ohio - The state that gave Bush the election in 2004, Ohio is once again in play this time around. The state elected a Democratic Governor and Senator in 2006. However, the election of Bob Latta in the 5th Congressional District special election, where the Democrats had made heavy investments, proves that the GOP is still very much alive and well in the state. Right now, given their recent victory and the general demographics and viewpoints of the state's voters, Ohio ranks as a Slight Republican-Lean. (20 electoral votes)

Tennessee - If Fred Thompson is on the ballot, the GOP wins easily as he is stomping the Democrats in head-to-head matchup polls within the state by margins of 10-15 points. Otherwise it's pretty much a toss-up. The state went to Clinton in 92 and 96, and Bush in 00 and 04. Outside of a Thompson candidacy, the vote will be pretty close, but should still remain a Republican-Lean. (11 electoral votes)

Virginia - Despite the election of Kaine/Webb/2007 State Senate in recent years, presidential elections are a different thing. Unlike conventional wisdom that says that a strong Dem candidate will help those downballot, Mark Warner's Senate run will help the Dem candidate upballot. The election of Rob Wittman in the 1st Congressional District special election, and the fact that Tidewater Dems won on mostly centrist or moderate platforms means that the Dem gains do not help the generally more liberal presidential nominees. It won't be easy, nor will it be a blowout, but this state is still a Republican-Lean. (13 electoral votes)

West Virginia - Once a solid-blue state due to the strong labor union presence in the coal mines, this state went for Bush in 2000 and 2004, a lot of which was due to Al Gore's complete blowoff of the miners during his campaign. The growing environmentalist presence within the Democratic Party does not help, as there is an anti-coal activism that undermines the purpose of the miner's employment. However, the strong labor union presence could offset this for the Dems. That makes "Wild and Wonderful" West Virginia a truly "Wild and Wonderful" toss-up. (5 electoral votes)

Wisconsin - Went to Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004, but by very close margins in both elections. Many believe that, much like neighboring Minnesota, the GOP has a good opportunity to snatch up this state. However, the state also is steeped in "Progressive" history, being the home state of Robert LaFollette. Also, the state has a largely Democratic delegation to Congress as well as within the state. That leaves this state as a Slight Democratic-Lean. (10 electoral votes)

Final Tally

Republicans - 148 safe + 94 Lean = 242 Electoral votes (Total States = 25)
Democrats - 211 safe + 43 Lean = 254 Electoral votes (Total States = 20 + DC)
Toss-Up = 42 Electoral votes (5 states)

This is where things get really interesting in this scenario...5 states decide the vote in a generic ballot. The Dems need 16 electoral votes to win, the Republicans need 28. 4 of the 5 states have voted for Bush most recently (or 32 of the 42 toss up electoral votes, if you look at it that way). Unless something drastic happens, this will be a very close election either way.

Looks like it's going to be a long, hot summer and a very brutal fall in the battleground states.

Romney Wins Wyoming GOP Caucus, Fred Comes in Second

In a caucus that was widely ignored until the last 2 days before it occurred, Mitt Romney picked up 8 delegates in the Wyoming Caucus. Fred Thompson finished second and picked up 2 delegates, and Duncan Hunter finished a surprising third and picked up his first delegate of the primary season.

Romney now leads Mike Huckabee for total delegates, so far, and should widen that lead as he is expected to do much better in New Hampshire tomorrow than Huckabee is.

Wyoming only had a handful of delegates at stake due to the fact that the GOP stripped them of half of their delegates as a penalty for holding the caucus so early.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

"New Hampshire" = "Nasty Heat" for Candidates

These were the best debates, so far. Charles Gibson did a good job moderating the debate, and the format was much more of a "debate" and less of a "question and answer" session. Kudos to ABC, and the "unity" moment of having all the candidates from both parties greet each other onstage between debates was a nice touch.

Diane Sawyer, though, really seemed out of place in the whole scheme of things. Anyway, on to my thoughts.

On the GOP side...

- Fred Thompson had an excellent debate, and even George Stephanopoulos said so in his post-debate comments. He put Romney on the spot without attacking him (and forced Romney, on one occasion, to completely waffle on a question), handled Ron Paul like nobody else has done, and had a generally good overall performance. He seemed very comfortable in this debate, was on-point with his policies, and answered questions directly. Also, I noticed that more candidates said "Yes, Senator Thompson is right..." and would go on to repeat Fred's words. That's because Fred is correct.

- Mitt Romney was attacked by everyone on stage in some way, shape, or form. I must say that Romney handled most of the criticism well, considering the bombardment of attacks from many sides, especially from John McCain. McCain, while having some good quips, seemed more intent on spitting out a "zinger", then flashing a silly grin right before they cut away from him. His performance was a bit forced, in my opinion.

- Huckabee was almost non-existant for long stretches, playing the "let them knock each other out" card. Good job by Charles Gibson not to allow that to go on forever. Giuliani had a relatively strong performance. He made his stances fairly clear, pointed to his record of law enforcement and economic turnaround in New York City, and deflecting criticism for being more liberal in his policies in the past.

- Ron Paul did a good job espousing his views, but also took more heat than normal, probably because he's a more serious threat than most of the other candidates realized. He got burned by Fred on the "money-printing/Iraq War/health care" tie-in that Paul stretched to make.

On the Dem side...

- All 4 candidates had relatively decent nights, nobody had a "bad" night. However, if anyone should come out of this looking better than before, it's Bill Richardson. He was on a much more level playing field in terms of speaking time, and made good use of it. Richardson will probably give Hillary more problems than Obama and Edwards, and Richardson appeals to the "experience" base of the Democratic Party.

- Obama is really pushing for the Independent/Republican cross-over vote. He made a point to address them as necessary to create a majority consensus for his policies. Unless someone like Huckabee gets nominated, I don't see many Republicans crossing over.

- As usual, more "anti-Republican" sentiments from the Dems than "anti-Democrat" sentiments from the GOP. In fact, the only time the GOP addressed the Dems was when they were asked to compare themselves to Barack Obama. The Dem candidates had a habit of bringing up "those horrible Republicans" when they needed a rallying point...instead of rallying around what they stand for.

- Hillary had a stronger debate than the previous few debates she took part in. However, Obama was solid and Edwards also had a stronger-than-normal debate. None of which helps her in the long run.

The Ride is Over...

...but it was fun while it lasted.

The Redskins late-season surge ended with a 35-14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks yesterday. Though they lost by 21 points, the game was much closer than the score indicates.

Both teams found yardage hard to come by, but the Seahawks were able to turn an early advantage in field position into 13 points in the first 3 quarters.

Down 13-0 as the 4th Quarter started, Todd Collins found Antwaan Randle-El for a 7 yard touchdown pass to bring the Redskins within 6. Suddenly, Safety LaRon Landry invoked images of the fallen Sean Taylor, intercepting a Matt Hasselbeck pass 2 plays later to set up a 30-yard Collins-to-Santana Moss touchdown, and give the Redskins a 14-13 lead.

The Redskins got a gift when Nate Burleson failed to catch the ensuing kickoff and the Skins recovered. However, the drive stalled and the normally-reliable Shawn Suisham missed a 30-yard field goal by mere inches. The Seahawks moved down the field, but Landry picked off his second pass of the day, but the Redskins failed to move the ball, and poor punt by Derrick Frost allowed provided the Seahawks with both good field position and momentum. Seattle promptly drove down the field and scored a touchdown with a 2-point conversion to take the 21-14 lead with just over 6 minutes remaining in the game.

Todd Collins tried to will the Redskins back down the field, but overthrew Santana Moss on a long sideline pass, and Marcus Trufant picked off the floater and returned it 78 yards for a touchdown. With 27 seconds left, Collins was intercepted again by Jordan Babineaux, who returned the pick 57 yards for the final score.

Collins should be lauded for his efforts, and went 29-50 for 266 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions. Clinton Portis found no room to run, gaining 52 yards on 20 carries, but added 28 yards on 4 receptions. Antwaan Randle-El caught 10 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown, and Moss added 6 catches for 68 yards and a touchdown. All-Pro TE Chris Cooley had a quiet afternoon, snagging 5 catches for 46 yards.

Credit the Redskins for not giving up when down, just like they never gave up when they were sitting with a record of 5-7 and playoff hopes were bleak. This team has shown a lot of heart and character throughout the season, and should be a strong contender next year with a mature Jason Campbell and a young-but-battled-tested core of players.

In last night's other playoff game, the Jacksonville Jaguars upended the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-29 in an incredible game that saw the Steelers come back from 18 points down in the 4th Quarter to take the lead, only to have Jacksonville kick the game winning field goal with 37 seconds left.