1. A Pledge To America. That’s the title of a leaked draft of the Republican congressional agenda. As it currently is outlined, "A Pledge To America" contains four main sections: a plan to jumpstart the economy, cut spending, repeal Obamacare, and reform Congress. It does a very good job of laying out and defending the basic Republican philosophy, and then applies it to the contemporary political scene by offering some specific proposals.
Last week, I argued that the GOP should put out a new Contract with America not as a way to win more votes in November, but to unify the Republican majority around a positive program in the 112th Congress. Its title evokes the Contract with America, but it is not quite like it. The Contract really was a contract. It listed specific bills to be voted on, a time frame for taking those votes, and it carried the signatures of over 300 Republican candidates for office. It was a deal with the American people: vote for us and we’ll vote for these bills. Thus, it bound the Republican majority in the 104th Congress with a real sense of purpose, and helped the GOP set the political agenda for all of 1995.
We’ll see how things play out with "A Pledge To America" – again, this is just a draft – but the early draft looks different than 1994's Contract.
2. Delaware Doldrums. The numbers for Republican Christine O’Donnell coming out of Delaware are brutal. The CNN/Time poll has Democrat Chris Coons up sixteen points over O’Donnell among likely voters, 55-39 percent. Given that Coons is not an incumbent, those are really strong numbers. He leads in every demographic group, and is at or above 50 percent in all of them except among men.
Coons is even pulling in 26 percent of self-identified conservatives. That sounds…about right, actually. “Conservatism” in Delaware is not exactly the same thing as it is nationwide. Twenty five percent of Delaware conservatives voted for Barack Obama in 2008. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that these are the same people now backing Coons.
All in all, a steep hill to climb for O’Donnell. Frankly, I think Republicans would be much better off focusing on states with potentially competitive Senate races in which a Republican challenger could use an infusion of enthusiasm and/or cash. New York and West Virginia are at the top of that list.
In a surprise move, Senate Republicans decided not to remove Sen. Lisa Murkowski from her top position on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Wednesday, according to several Republican senators who refused to explain their decision.
Republicans had indicated as recently as Tuesday she was likely to lose her seniority on the committee as penalty for her write-in candidacy in Alaska.
A GOP source in the room tells CNN, despite anger towards Murkowski, the conference decided not to even take up the question of the Senate Energy Committee post because "there was a sense that she's resigned her leadership post, she lost her primary, she will probably lose her race, and she'll be gone. She will not be ranking [Republican] because she will not be here."
What’s going on here? I can think of two possibilities. First, the Senate really is a collegial place and Murkowski’s colleagues just didn’t have the heart to boot her like that. Second, it’s a risk averse move. What happens if she actually pulls it out in Alaska? You don’t want her caucusing with the Democrats. If she retains her ranking minority member position through the 111th Congress, she’ll be in a position to be committee chair in the 112th Congress, which might be vital if the goal is to get her to vote with the Republicans in organizing the Senate. And if she wins, that will definitely be Mitch McConnell's goal.
4. In Case You Were Wondering... Blanche Lincoln's chances of being elected Arkansas's next senator are still about as good as my chances of being the next American Idol:
Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, a key player in U.S. financial regulation legislation, remains far behind in an uphill battle for re-election on November 2, a Reuters-Ipsos poll found on Wednesday.
It is only a slight improvement for the Democrat since a July poll had her behind by a 54 percent to 35 percent margin, and it is the latest evidence that Lincoln is suffering from the same anti-incumbency wave that other politicians are grappling with in this volatile year of high unemployment.
Republican John Boozman, a member of the House of Representatives, holds a hefty 14-point lead among likely voters of 53 percent to 39 percent for Lincoln.
5. The Blanche Lincoln Award For "Most Doomed House Democrat" Goes To... None other than Tom Perriello of Virginia's Fifth Congressional District! He won his district in 2008 by a little under 800 votes even as John McCain carried it by 7,000 Once in Congress, he proceeded to vote for cap-and-trade and health care (twice). His goose is totally, completely cooked. How do I know this? He keeps releasing polls that show him trailing his Republican opponent. That's a very peculiar campaign tactic, but when public polling shows you down 25, you don't really have much of a choice!
6. Another Brutal Poll for Dems from SurveyUSA. Oh my:
In the Special Election to fill the final 2 years of Hillary Rodham Clinton's term, incumbent Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand and former Congressman Republican Joe DioGuardi today finish effectively even, with Gillibrand's nominal 1-point lead being within the survey's theoretical margin of sampling error.
In New York's general election for US Senate, incumbent Democrat Chuck Schumer leads Republican Jay Townsend 54% to 33%.
Gillibrand leads in the 5 boroughs of NYC but trails elsewhere.
Men vote Republican, women vote Democrat and, in this contest, cancel each other out
Lower-income voters break significantly Democrat. Middle-income and upper-income voters break slightly Republican.
SurveyUSA has had some atrocious numbers for Democrats this year, and they must really be hoping that the polling outfit is wide of the mark. It has a good track record, though...