What Does GA06 Mean Moving Forward?

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GA06 is going down to the wire. All credible public polling has the race rated as an absolute toss up. Right now, Ossoff has to be the favorite. Debates aside, Ossoff’s campaign seems to be controlling the campaign narrative and energy. In tight races, let alone special elections, those two factors are absolutely essential.
 
The national media will say that the race is a referendum on Trump, his policies,
 
But, this narrative is absolutely false in my opinion. The real facts dictate that Georgia 6 is the third highest Democrat-trending GOP-held seat. Trump won the district by one point and only accumulated 48% of the votes. The notion that Trump was popular in Georgia 6th is totally false.
 
When we look at why Ossoff is succeeding in GA06, it is quite clear. Ossoff is very well funded (not that Handel isn’t), but more notably, he is playing into a trend that’s proliferating in his favor. During a normal midterm election, Ossoff would be likely defeated by Handel because national Democrat money and energy would be spread across the country. Ossoff has received more money from the 9 counties surrounding San Francisco than from the entire state of Georgia.
 
So, what does this mean? It means that Ossoff is benefiting from national Democrat anger and money. The concentration of being the only special election that’ll be in play for the foreseeable future means that all Democrat resources funnel in because they simply aren’t going to win special elections in Alabama Senate, SC05 and UT03. GA06 is already the most expensive House race of all time. Take a look at Ossoff’s FEC filings, and you’ll quickly see what I am talking about.
 
This brings me to my point. GA06 is an extenuating circumstance in that if there were several special elections in play, Ossoff’s chance of victory would decrease significantly.
 
In nature, special elections are “special” in that they see depressed turnout, they’re open seats, and sometimes, you’ll see upsets. Let’s look at Montana.
 
Trump won Montana by 20 points in November. In the special House race there, Greg Gianforte beat Rob Quist after body slamming a reporter, 6 to 7 points. Polling in the race was already trending towards the Democrats in the final weeks of the race before Gianforte committed his massive blunder. He still won by 6 points. Gianforte was a weak candidate to being with, as was Quist. Turnout was quite high for a special election, and now he’s the next member of Congress from the great state of Montana. His victory was never truly in serious doubt.
 
With this in mind, examining what we can pull from these facts, it proves that these special elections, and all special elections, are only viable to dictate public opinion in a snapshot of a specific place and time.
 
If progressive Ossoff wins GA06, it isn’t worrisome because of what it means about the overall political climate, but rather the effects down the line for the rest of the election cycle.
 
The Democrats need significant gains in the House of Representatives to formidably obstruct President Trump and the GOP agenda, which they desperately thirst for. They will be hoping for a wave, in which they decisively wrestle control from the GOP. There is a real possibility that this may happen, and the Democratic national establishment and elites are gearing up for the race. But are the grassroots?
 
Let’s be honest. You need money to win post-Citizens United elections. But you still need people to get out and vote. In 2010, when the Tea Party wave retook control of Congress and picked up 79 seats, not only did GOP have an essential monopoly on energy, but they were well funded. There’s no question that the Democrats are ready to open their pocketbooks to compete. However, they are significantly behind in early national fundraising totals, and the lawsuit against the DNC could set them back even further.
 
Nationally, only 1/6 of congressional districts are in play during any given cycle, and even then, the incumbency advantage carries the currently seated representative. Rural Democrats won’t be able to pick up safe GOP seats, where support for Trump is very high, and Democrats can’t pick up those seats, even if they poll 10 points better than an average Democrat would do.
 
There are GOP seats that will be lost, such as Illeana Ros-Lehtinen in FL27, with strong incumbents retiring in districts with significant demographic changes since they first won their seats. There will be many toss-ups that will be fought to the death. There are seats that the GOP should win but may lose.
 
GA06 sets the energy going into the remainder of the cycle. If Ossoff and the Democrats win the race, they’ll derive that this is a significant victory in stopping Trump’s agenda. The national mainstream media will conveniently leave out the facts listed above when they claim that results dictate a referendum on Trump. The national mainstream media is vehemently anti-Trump (let’s not sugar coat the situation), and wants to obstruct his agenda and the GOP agenda. If the Democrats win the race, they’ll deduce confidence that getting involved in grassroots organizing and “resisting” does have some benefit, which will lead to greater obstacles for GOP incumbents and candidates in winning their respective races.
 
If Handel and the GOP win the seat, as they likely would during a normal midterm general election, this will crush the National mainstream media narrative of the referendum on Trump. They will see that despite their efforts nationally and in the district, and their part in making the Georgia 6 the most expensive House election all time, they still lost.
 
The stakes are incredibly high. Both sides must win for very different reasons. Handel must turn out older voters if she is to win. Ossoff needs every single voter he can get. Ultimately, the votes cast on June 20th could set the pace for the rest of the election cycle.
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Special Election Central

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In Georgia and Montana, the 2 seats in the House of Representatives are up for grabs with both the GOP and Democrats duking it out to maintain the current battle lines in the House.

After a bloody jungle primary where candidates on all sides pummeled each other with attack after attack on any number of topics, the field has narrowed to 2 candidates: Former Secretary of State Karen Handel (GOP), and businessman Jon Ossoff (Democratic). Now that we know the two final candidates, the race changes significantly.

Before, it was quite possible Ossoff could take over 50%, and walk away as winner. Now that the GOP has stopped that possibility, and has consolidated support behind Handel, the head to head matchup must favor Handel, however slightly.

Let’s look at the raw numbers. Ossoff and the other Democratic candidates totaled 93,911 votes, which totals to approximately 48.9 percent of total votes in the jungle race. The GOP received 98,173 votes, or 51.1 percent of the votes. The numbers show that this can be a very, very close race.

Unfortunately for the Democrats, demographics don’t play out in their favor. The 2017 Cook PVI for the district is R+8… and that’s after Trump took the district by 1 point… This puts significant pressure on the Democrats to ratchet up and invest in their get out the vote efforts. They will need to ensure every single Democratic voter goes to the polls if they want to remain competitive in the race.

Early voting will once again not be a great indicator of turnout and results, as it usually isn’t. Early voting almost always favors the Democrats, and will likely do so once more in this case. If you see the Democrats building a commanding lead in the early voting tallies, do not get too far ahead of yourself. The race will tighten back up.

Another thing to consider is money, and how consolidated the base of each candidate will be. For both candidates, fundraising is no issue. Both have raised millions of dollars since the jungle primary, and have millions of out of state dollars coming in through independent expenditures. However, a key to this race is whether Handel can consolidate Trump supporters. Luckily, the President has tweeted his support and is traveling to the district to help campaign for Handel. Conservatives will vote for Handel because they won’t want to see a Democrat candidate win this race one way or another. Continue watching for news on Handel’s efforts to ensure the GOP base is fully behind her.

On the other hand, a major key for Ossoff is ensuring Democratic energy remains as high, perhaps even higher than in the jungle primary. If they can turn out as many voters, or more than the jungle primary, they will have a decent shot of winning, but not a great shot. GOP voters do outnumber Democrat voters in the district.

Both candidates have their deep flaws though, which will likely cancel each other out along partisan lines. Handel is the definition of a career politician. Her only previous office held is Secretary of State, but she’s failed in previous runs for higher office a number of times. On the other hand, Ossoff doesn’t live in the district, which has welcomed the GOP to call Ossoff a carpet bagger.

With millions of dollars being poured into TV, radio, mail, digital, and other forms of advertising, GA06 voters are surely tired of this never-ending campaign season. The numbers are too tight for it to be tilt either way, but I think the GOP will win the race by no more than 10,000 votes. All things considered, demographics and partisan leanings will ultimately be what puts Handel over the top.

Regardless of the outcome of the race, the Democrats will pull inspiration from the fact they’ve put a relatively safe GOP district into play. Many people on the Democrat side view this race as a referendum on Trump, but they fail to realize that Trump only won the district by a point. Trump wasn’t popular there to begin with. Considering his lack of popularity in the district, I believe that this label has been placed by the national Democratic establishment. Consider that 95% of Ossoff’s campaign committee’s money has come from out of the district, this further reinforces the point.

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Another interesting race is the Montana At-Large Congressional District. Montana is a R+11 state, where Trump won by 20 points. Enter businessman and failed 2016 Gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte. The Democrats have tried to label him a carpetbagger among other things, even though he’s lived in Montana since 1995. His opponent is musician and political novice Rob Quist. Both the GOP and Democrats have pumped lots of money into the race, considering TV ads are cheaper in Montana, this represents a significant investment.

The latest public poll says that Gianforte is up by 15 points, at 52-37. Quist is outperforming Clinton’s performance by a point and a half. No significant gain and the outcome will be a decisive GOP hold.

The natural follow-up question on the Montana race becomes what does this tell us about the contentious Montana Senate race, and the general national climate in 2018? Senator Tester seems vulnerable due to Gianforte’s victory.

However, Montanans aren’t against voting for Democrats in statewide races. Governor Bullock and Senator Tester’s victories are perfect examples. Right now, there isn’t a high-profile GOP recruit to face Tester, who was involved in the 2012 Thornton Law Firm Campaign Finance Scandal.

Looking ahead to 2018, I am a firm believer that we should wait and see, especially in Montana. These races do indicate that the Democrats could have a big 2018 in the House, but then again, President Trump’s Twitter Account will help turn out GOP voters to protect his agenda. I am certainly curious to see the effects of the Trump presidency on the House of Representatives specifically. It will be very interesting with the Senate map favoring the Republicans in 2018, and with the Democrats on the attack in the House of Representatives.

Follow me on Twitter at @TweetsByAranyi for more of my thoughts.

Confirming Judge Gorsuch: Effects on the 2018 Senate Map

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The Supreme Court was a major issue during the 2016 Presidential and Senate elections. Now that the Republican Party was able to hold the Senate, and gain the presidency, President Trump has nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the Honorable Justice Scalia on the Supreme Court.

We all know the story on Judge Gorsuch. He’s immensely qualified, originalist judge who will fill the void left by Justice Scalia.

In 2006 not a single Democrat senator voted against Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation to the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, based in Colorado. However, more than 10 years later, his nomination to the Supreme Court has caused a much greater stir to the senators left of center. With the context of Judge Merrick Garland’s spiked nomination by President Obama in an election year, many Senate Democrats feel that this is a stolen seat on the Supreme Court.

This poses the question of how center-left Democrats, many of whom are up for re-election in states that Trump won in 2016, vote? Furthermore, how will their votes affect their re-election odds?

Moderate Democrats Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia have already confirmed they’ll be voting for Judge Gorsuch. Trump won both states by 35.8 and 41.6 points respectively. Trump won every single county in West Virginia, and all but two in North Dakota. Both states aren’t against voting Democrat, considering they both have Democrat senators, and West Virginia just elected a Democrat governor.

Regardless, this was a safe play for both senators. The conservative bases in both states will appreciate the vote, and it will keep more outside money out of the state once the election rolls around. Without question, its an immediate aid to their re-election bids.

I think it’d be wise for other Democrat senators to follow suit. Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Claire McCaskill of Missouri come to mind. Trump won Missouri by 18.5 points, and Indiana by 19 points. Although Trump’s margin of victory in Indiana and Missouri aren’t as large as the margin in West Virginia or North Dakota, that is still a massive gap to bridge. Conservative organizations including the NRSC and Judicial Crisis Network have taken out ad buys urging Donnelly and McCaskill to vote for Gorsuch’s confirmation.

Voting against Gorsuch would almost certainly invite huge sums of outside money into their races, and anger the conservative bases in their states. Both Donnelly and McCaskill were elected due to similar comments about rape from their challengers in 2012. Now, their GOP challengers will not repeat the same mistakes. In Indiana, GOP Congressmen Luke Messer and Todd Rokita are primed to enter the race to unseat Donnelly. Regardless of who wins that primary, the GOP will have a great candidate to face Donnelly, and will surely pounce on him if he votes against Gorsuch.

In a bold move, Democrat Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin has stated she will vote against Gorsuch. Trump was not projected to win Wisconsin, but won by less than a point, while incumbent GOP Senator beat former Democrat Senator Russ Feingold by 3.4 points. This could come back to bite her during her re-election campaign, as Wisconsin GOP has proven to be a well oiled machine in terms of their grassroots operation. This race could be much closer than expected, and Baldwin isn’t making the situation any easier on herself.

Another incumbent who presumably should vote for Judge Gorsuch is Senator Jon Tester of Montana. Trump won Montana by 20.2 points in November. Senator Tester was critical of Judge Gorsuch’s response about campaign finance law during his hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has cast doubts over the way he’ll vote. I personally find this awfully funny, considering his implication in the Thornton Law Firm Campaign Finance Scandal, which resulted in him donating over $51,000 of the funds he illegally received back to the U.S. Treasury.

The special election to replace Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s House seat will be an interesting insight into Senator Tester’s re-election campaign. Montana’s congressional district is at-large, so it is a statewide race, featuring GOP candidate Greg Gianforte, and Democrat Rob Quist. Both have never held political office, and it should be a good indicator of the political climate in Montana, a year and a half before the 2018 elections.

This vote will come too soon for Senator Tester to know the results of the special election. Thus, I believe it would be wise for him to vote to confirm Judge Gorsuch to have his bases covered.

Another thing to consider for these incumbents to consider is the cost of voting for Gorsuch. If they vote for him, they may face costly primaries from the left, which will drain their campaign coffers before they even face their GOP opponents.

Other than the Senators listed, I believe that the rest of the votes will fall along party lines. Eventually, Senate Majority Leader McConnell may decide to go “Nuclear,” which would create new precedent, and dichotomy in the upper chamber of the Federal legislature.

Its impossible to predict how this scenario would play out for the GOP if this occurs. Judge Gorsuch will be confirmed, but what else will transpire during the rest of the Congress? There are a million possibilities, and every single one has different implications on the 2018 elections.

One thing is certain, and that’s that this vote to confirm Gorsuch is one that will be heavily scrutinized leading up to the next election.

If Senators Donnelly, McCaskill, and Tester vote against Gorsuch, then they’re welcoming a much tougher re-election campaign, in what could prove to be a very difficult climate. Although voter turnout is depressed in midterm election years, normally in favor of the party without power, the GOP and its campaign arms are winning the fundraising battle. Additionally, all it takes is one tweet from President Trump to mobilize millions of voters across the country.

One thing is certain: after the 2016 elections, anything can happen. I am looking forward to seeing how this situation will play out, and I look forward to seeing Judge Gorsuch confirmed as the next Supreme Court Justice of the United States.

Who win the battle for the North Carolina Senate seat?

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It’s no secret that the Senate is up for grabs this November, and next up in my prediction series is Senator Richard Burr versus State Representative Deborah Ross. North Carolina has been notorious for tough Senate campaigns as of late. In 2014, former Republican Speaker of the North Carolina House Thom Tillis defeated Democrat incumbent Kay Hagan. Outside money flooded the state, and $84,517,806 was spent from outside sources, while total spending totaled over an astounding 100 million dollars.

To me, I perceive North Carolina to be a solid Republican state, however, this cycle has been extremely interesting for politics in the state. HB-2 has caused turmoil, and Governor Pat McCrory has taken an ideological stand that ultimately could cost him his job, and lead to further issues for Burr and Trump. Burr has worked hard to distance himself from the bill, which has been moderately successful. To add, Clinton is surging in North Carolina, and I would bet that she’ll take North Carolina on election day. To add to this tumultuous situation, Democrats are leading big in both the presidential and governor’s race in early voting.

Ross also benefitted by campaigning with President Obama and Hillary Clinton during their time in North Carolina. Burr isn’t exactly the most popular senator at the moment. A key part of Supreme Court Nominee Merrick Garland’s obstruction, Burr’s conservative regimen may be too much for North Carolinians. As the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I think Burr has done a solid job. In terms of the national security set up, it’s not a massively important position, but I believe his tenure has been largely positive as the committee chairman. One thing I respect about Burr and his campaign was that he didn’t start officially campaigning until October of this year, citing that ongoing business in the Senate was more important due to his commitment of serving the people of the Tar Heel state.

For these reasons alone, Senator Burr finds himself extremely vulnerable. Surprisingly, Ross is setting the pace by a wide margin in the race according to early voting exit polls. Nobody would have expected that Ross would mount a serious challenge, but with the NRSC and DSCC among several outside groups have pumped millions into the race once more, these results surely won’t hold.

Do not count Burr out. Polling averages have Burr still setting the pace by a couple of points. Plus, Burr’s incumbent name recognition will certainly help, considering that Ross has barely, if any at all. The Burr campaign also maintains a large cash advantage, and will surely increase spending as the election nears. Democrats are currently out-fundraising Republicans nationwide, but I doubt much of this money flows into North Carolina considering the early voting totals for Clinton. The NRSC just announced a multi-million dollar ad-buy to aid Burr in the coming weeks.

It appears as if the Democrats early voting operation has been stronger than the Republicans in the state, but this is normal for candidates who appear to be trailing. I’m sure there is a reason for this: my guess is that the Ross campaign’s internal polling project her as trailing Burr. Recently, Burr has been up in the polls, and his current RealClearPolitics average has him up on Ross by 3.2 points on average (as of 12p.m. eastern on 10/27). But, many accurate polls have Burr winning by a few points. They’re mostly within the margin of error, but the sheer quantity of polls that has Burr leading definitely says something to me.

In terms of overall fit, both candidates do not fit the North Carolina constituency well. Ross is an unapologetic liberal, while the same can be said about Burr’s conservative principles. I wouldn’t be surprised if Burr wins the Senate race, Roy Cooper outpaces McCrory for Governor, and Hillary will beat Trump. I can’t see North Carolina going straight Democrat this November.

But, Ross is a former lobbyist for the ACLU. I am very surprised that Senator Burr’s camp hasn’t hit Ross harder on this point, similar to the way that I’m very surprised that Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb hasn’t hit Democrat John Gregg harder on his time as a lobbyist and for his work with Enron. However, Ross seems to be winning the fight online, with the NRSC’s branding “Radical Ross” failing to resonate with voters.

I find it extremely hard to predict this race. Part of me feels that Ross’ early voting numbers may be insurmountable for Burr on election day. But on the other hand, I feel that Burr’s name recognition, superior fundraising, incumbency will carry him over the line. Across the country, we are seeing people splitting their tickets. One example is that many Trump voters will vote Democrat for Senate, or people will vote for Clinton, but a Republican for Senate. Thus, the numbers at the top of the ticket may not condemn Burr to a defeat.

But, I think that Burr will defeat Ross by the slimmest of margins. Burr’s cash advantage will help flood the airwaves and ultimately dictate the narrative of the campaign until November 8th. Along with his far superior name recognition, and lack of Republican early voting efforts, I think that Burr will get the nod. Democrat early voting efforts have been significant, and a greater percentage of their voters have already voted. Although things can change in the final two week run in to the election, the Republican Party base is strong in North Carolina. If Burr wants to win, he better hope Republican voters show up on election day. This will come down to turnout. This isn’t to say that Ross won’t win. There are numerous reasons why she might. I would be shocked to see either candidate win by more than a couple points.

 

Todd Young will edge Evan Bayh Indiana Senate Race

The Indiana Senate race has certainly had its twists and turns. Before Evan Bayh entered the race for the Democrats on July 11th, I would have bet a hefty sum of cash that Rep. Todd Young was going to wipe the floor with Democratic nominee former Rep. Baron Hill. A Howey Politics poll on May 19th had Young setting the pace by a whopping 18 points.

But, that’s not how things stayed.

When Former Senator Evan Bayh entered the race, the game was changed. Evan Bayh is the son of the Birch Bayh, a beloved 3 term Senator also from Indiana. Evan is the former Secretary of State, two term Governor, and former two term Senator from Indiana. With near universal name recognition, Bayh’s entry into the race dealt a critical blow to the Young campaign.

A week after he jumped into the race, an internal DSCC poll projected Bayh was up 21 points. They even said that his support had room to grow.That’s a 39 point swing. But, its what people didn’t know about Bayh’s post-Senate career that’s derailed his campaign.

As he left the Senate, Bayh wrote an op-ed highlighting his discontent regarding gridlock. Following his tenure in the Senate, Bayh went to work in D.C. for lobbying firms, and stayed within the beltway in his multi-million dollar Georgetown home.

It’d be foolish to assume that Bayh would maintain a 21 point lead for the remainder of the campaign. From that point on,  the Young camp decided that it would dictate the race’s narrative until election day

From that point on, Evan Bayh’s image has been absolutely dismantled. Scandal after scandal has emerged, and his campaign has largely been on the defensive.

Bayh’s scandals include but aren’t limited to:

Bayh’s image has been absolutely trashed by these scandals. Young’s team is right to capitalize on these scandals. Voters deserve to be educated about their choices.

I believe Bayh’s baggage will ultimately cost him this election. Bayh’s baggage is similar, albeit worse, to former Senator Richard Lugar. Lugar lost in the primary after serving for 6 terms, because he lived permanently inside the beltway. If Richard Lugar, a beloved six-term senator, isn’t safe from a residency scandal, neither is Evan Bayh. Bayh has more than just a residency scandal. This is a major reason I believe that Young will win.

To add, Evan Bayh is not a good representative for Indiana. In 12 years in the Senate, Bayh passed a measly two bills. Bayh also cast the deciding vote in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, or Obamacare. Two years on from his decisive vote, he publicly admitted that the Medical Device tax, a major part of Obamacare, kills American jobs — including thousands in Indiana — and global competitiveness. Bayh is not a good legislature, and Hoosiers won’t forget his failures.

To make matters worse, Bayh voted with Hillary Clinton 85% of the time when their tenures in the Senate overlapped, and Bayh voted with Barack Obama 96% of the time. He is as partisan as can be. Meanwhile, he claims to be a conservative democrat. His voting record dictates otherwise.

On the flip side, Todd Young has been an excellent congressman for Indiana’s 9th District. Young has introduced important legislation such as the REINS Act. The act dictated that all new major regulations with an economic impact of $100 million or more would require an up-or-down vote by both the House and the Senate and the signature of the President before they can be enforced on the American public.

Although the REINS Act wasn’t passed into law, its this sort of leadership that embodies Congressman Young’s pedigree. Young has attempted to search for conservative solutions that plague Hoosiers, and Americans every day.

Overall, I do believe that Young is a better legislator than Bayh. Young also doesn’t carry loads of baggage like Bayh. For this reason, I believe that Hoosiers will see through his candidacy.

At the end of the day, internal polling on both sides dictates very different outcomes. Independent polling fails to account for Lucy Breton, the Libertarian Party candidate in the race.

I believe that Young will eek out this election by a point or two. The baggage that Bayh carries is too much for him to carry an election day victory. Young’s superior legislating skills will only help him, and Hoosiers don’t want to vote for someone they perceive to be a carpetbagger.

Bayh’s name recognition will help, but his name has been smeared by his own doing: the Young campaign has only echoed the attacks. Young deserves to win this race, and on November 8th, the Young campaign won’t be disappointed.