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Morning Jay: Why Hillary Won't Run, Generic Ballot, Gaming Out The Senate, And More!

6:30 AM, Oct 1, 2010 • By JAY COST
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That leaves Republicans needing one more seat, and having to pick one up from one of four Democratic states: California, Connecticut, New York, and Washington.  Any is possible, but it is Washington that looks the wobbliest to me.  The Evergreen State does not typically have a larger share of Democrat voters than the national average.  Instead, the Democratic advantage in the state is due to the large number of independents, who have been breaking heavily against the GOP for the last several cycles. 

But not this cycle.  Polls show the GOP has a big advantage with independents nationwide, and that could be enough to tip the Rossi-Murray contest if the pattern shows up in Washington.  For instance, the recent SurveyUSA poll of Washington found Patty Murray with a two-point lead over Dino Rossi, but its estimated electorate is about as pro-Democratic as 2008.  If you re-weight the poll according to the 2004 party ID breakdowns, you’d find Rossi winning because he dominates the independent vote. 

So, two things need to happen for Rossi to win in Washington, both of which look very possible: he wins independents by the kind of margin SurveyUSA is suggesting, and the Republican enthusiasm gap nudges the party spread back to at least where it was a few cycles ago.

The Democratic firewall in the Senate looks as though it depends upon anti-Obama Democrats in West Virginia, Harry Reid in Nevada somehow finding his way to 50%, and ornery independents in Washington state.  That’s not much of a firewall, if you ask me.   

4. The Latest Sign of the Dem-PocalypseBob Shrum predicts the Democrats will hold the line in both chambers:

Maybe I’m wrong.

In fact, maybe I’m really, really wrong, which is the reaction I hear when I dare even to broach this notion to commentators and political strategists in both parties. So let me state it plainly: I now think the Democrats will hold the Congress—yes, the House as well as the Senate—and turn back high profile Republican challengers in California and elsewhere.

Bob Shrum is 0-8 in presidential campaigns going back to 1972.  If he thinks the Democrats will retain the Congress, I’d say that is strong evidence that the Democrats are in big time trouble.

Plus, Shrum's column might very well be the world's worst pep talk evah.  Who leads off with "Maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe I'm really, really wrong..."?!

5. The Ohio Enthusiasm Gap.  Earlier this week, I had some fun goofing on some (unintentionally) ironic comments from Ohio governor Ted Strickland, who told a crowd of 250 people in downtown Cleveland that there is no enthusiasm gap in the Buckeye State.  Well, kidding aside, there really is a gap, and it’s a big one:

A higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats in Ohio's three largest counties have asked for absentee ballots this year -- an ominous sign for the party hoping to repel GOP forces on Election Day. 

Roughly three out of 10 registered Ohio voters live in Franklin, Hamilton and Cuyahoga counties.

With early voting under way this week, Republican voters in Franklin and Hamilton counties have requested more absentee ballots than their Democratic counterparts -- hard evidence of a much different environment than 2008 when an avalanche of Democratic absentee ballot requests dwarfed Republican requests in both counties.

In Cuyahoga County, registered Democrats have requested 60,960 absentee ballots compared with 28,888 for voters registered as Republicans, according to the county Board of Elections figures through Tuesday....

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