3. Tit for Tat. A common talking point among Democratic operatives is that the party will turn each race into an individual battle, and take advantage of weaker Republican candidates. Rasmussen reports that they are having some success with that strategy in South Dakota:
The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely South Dakota Voters shows Herseth-Sandlin with 47% support to Noem's 45%. Four percent (4%) like some other candidate in the race, and three percent (3%) are undecided.
A month ago, Noem held a 51% to 42% advantage over Herseth-Sandlin, who has been a member of Congress since 2004.
Herseth-Sandlin has been running ads noting that she was one of the few Democrats who voted against President Obama's health care bill, which is highly unpopular in South Dakota. Noem, meanwhile, has been battling the recent disclosure of a questionable driving record. Herseth-Sandlin was elected to Congress following the resignation of GOP Congressman Bill Janklow who was convicted of manslaughter after he killed a motorcyclist while running a stop sign at high speed.
The problem with this strategy is that it can cut both ways, and thus keep the Democrats from gaining any systematic advantage:
An education foundation connected to the influential Congressional Black Caucus is re-examining its scholarship programs after finding out Democratic U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop of Albany apparently awarded foundation scholarships to his family members.
"From here on out, we will re-evaluate our scholarship programs in terms of practices and guidelines to be sure ... this won't happen again," said Muriel Cooper, a spokeswoman for the foundation. "We want to make sure there is no self-dealing or nepotism in awarding these scholarships."
Bishop is one of just a handful of African American congressmen in competitive districts. His district is GA-2, the cotton country in the southwestern corner of the state. It’s split about evenly between blacks and whites, and gave Obama 54 percent of the vote. Charlie Cook already had it listed as “Lean Democrat,” and these revelations will not help.
One step forward for the Democrats in SD-AL, one step back in GA-2?
4. 2012 Watch. An early indicator that 2012 is going to be competitive on the presidential level comes from none other than ... Austan Goolsbee:
President Obama's new chairman of the Council of Economic Affairs (CEA) said Sunday that the national unemployment rate will not decrease significantly anytime soon.
Austan Goolsbee, who Obama announced on Friday will replace Christina Romer as head of the CEA, told "Fox News Sunday" that the president is doing all he can to help the economy, but the recession was so deep, it will take some time for employment numbers to recover.
"I don't think the unemployment rate will be coming down significantly at any time in the near future," Goolsbee said.