Democrats Suspicious Of Timing. The death sentence given Sunday to former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and two former senior members of his regime dominates Monday's headlines. President Bush, on the campaign trail, hailed the development out of Iraq, and according to the AP, painted it "as vindication of the sacrifices made by American soldiers in Iraq." The Wall Street Journal says "many Iraqis suspect the Bush administration somehow influenced the timing of the sentence to benefit the Republican party," and the Washington Post notes the verdict "stirred anxiety among Democrats who worried it could be a 'November surprise' that would persuade Republicans to turn out." Some "voiced suspicions that the Bush administration had orchestrated the court schedule to influence the vote, a contention the White House rejected." The New York Times reports that while the White House "said the timing of the announcement, two days before Election Day, had nothing to do with American politics," Bush "moved quickly to put it to use in what has been his central strategic imperative over the past week, trying to rouse Republican voters to turn out."
The issue also came up on the Sunday political talk shows. On CNN's Early Edition, White House spokesman Tony Snow said the claim that the verdict was timed to coincide with US elections is "preposterous," and House Majority Leader John Boehner said on Fox News Sunday that he thinks the Saddam verdict will "energize" Republicans, adding, "Democrats just want to give up in Iraq. They just want to pull out the troops. We're in a very serious war with people who want to kill us. And if we don't win in Iraq, we're going to embolden terrorists all over the world. And today's victory is a victory for the Iraqi people."
President Bush continued to campaign in "red" states over the weekend stopping in Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska, all three of which voted for him overwhelmingly in 2004. Bush, ABC World News reported last night, "is desperately trying to keep this reddest of districts from turning blue." A similar report on the Chicago Tribune describes Bush's stumping as "campaign-defense." The President's "mere appearance here for congressional candidates" in Nebraska and Kansas "was a measure of how hard the Republican Party is fighting for control of the House."
The Wall Street Journal's web-only "Washington Wire" column, meanwhile, reports Bush "ends his final campaign swing on an anticlimactic note, dropping in on the Florida Panhandle, rural northwest Arkansas and his home state of Texas. One of the main candidates he's scheduled to stump for today, Florida gubernatorial nominee Charlie Crist, let it be known on Sunday he isn't even planning to show up for the rally at the Pensacola Civic Center. ... In Arkansas, Bush's appearance on behalf of the gubernatorial nominee, former congressman Asa Hutchinson, has a similar perfunctory feel Hutchinson, although well liked in mainstream Republican circles, is way behind in polls."
Despite its expressed confidence in a positive election outcome for Republicans, the New York Times says this morning the White House is actively planning how to deal with what many expect to be a Democratic Congress after next January. Even if Republicans holds on to both houses of Congress, the White House "is sending signals that Mr. Bush is open to a shift in approach." White House aides "are piecing together a domestic agenda that includes reviving the president's failed bid to overhaul entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, White House officials and allies of the administration said. The president has assigned Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. to spearhead the effort, and the White House says it is quietly reaching out to Democrats on Capitol Hill."
Asked on CBS' Face the Nation if he thinks Democrats will raise taxes if they take control of Congress, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said, "That's exactly right." If Democrats "were to take control of the House," there would be "an increase on taxes, taxes across the board. Charlie Rangel said it, up front, that there's not a Bush tax cut that he won't try to get rid of. And that means the average family making $62,000 is going to see their federal taxes go up by 58 percent."
Over the weekend, the New York Times said Republican Party leaders admitted that "the best outcome they could foresee was losing 12 seats in the House. But they were increasingly steeling themselves for the loss of at least 15 seats and therefore control of the House for the first time in 12 years." And the Washington Post said its analysis concluded Democrats "appear almost certain to pick up more than the 15 seats needed to regain the majority" in the House.
Media analyses are almost unanimous in their assessments of what will happen tomorrow. For example, the AP reports Republicans "are staggering into the final hours of the election campaign like a spent force, with a less than lofty goal of losing seats but clinging to power," and the Christian Science Monitor, in a story headlined "All Signs Point To A US House Run By Democrats," says that "among the nonpartisan analysts who study the polls and dynamics of each of the 435 House races, the more cautious see the lower range of the Democratic net gain at about 20 seats -- more than enough to achieve the 15-seat net gain needed to take control. On the higher end, the Democrats could achieve a more commanding takeover with net gains of 30 to 40 seats, they say."
There's also a new Gallup poll, reported in USA Today, which "finds remarkable parallels between the congressional elections Tuesday and the watershed elections in 1994 that swept Republicans into control of Congress. Then, likely voters by 51%-44% favored GOP congressional candidates. Now, 51%-44% favor Democratic ones. ... Then, disapproval of Congress was at 66%. Now, disapproval of Congress is at 70%."
GOP Sees Glimmer Of Hope In Last-Minute Polls. Two new surveys, the Pew Research Center poll and the Washington Post-ABC News poll, show Republicans with some momentum on the generic question: Who do you want to run Congress? The Washington Post says Republicans "seized on signs of movement in their direction yesterday as they unleashed a massive election-eve voter mobilization operation in an effort to stave off potentially substantial losses in the House and preserve at least a slender majority in the Senate." The Pew poll "showed that the Democratic advantage had dropped to 47 percent to Republicans' 43 percent among likely voters, down from 50 percent to 39 percent two weeks ago." Those findings "echoed those of a Washington Post-ABC News poll released Saturday showing the Democrats with a six-point edge." ABC World News noted the 51%-45% in that survey "is shrinking, down eight points in two weeks."
Numerous polls released this morning and this weekend shows the race for control of the Senate up for grabs, with a number of critical races too close to call. While many of these races have been tight for the last few weeks, one race has noticeably changed Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R), written off as political road kill two weeks ago, has rallied and is running neck-in-neck with challenger Sheldon Whitehouse (D). One other race, that had been very competitive, seems to be moving away New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez (D) has pulled out a consistent single-digit lead in a number of new polls.
Connecticut: Three Polls Show Lieberman With Wide Lead. A Research 2000 poll shows Sen. Joe Lieberman leading Ned Lamont (D) 52%-39%; a Quinnipiac poll shows Lieberman leading with 50%-38%; and a SurveyUSA automated poll shows Lieberman leading 49%-38%.
Maryland: Two Polls Shows Tight Race. A McClatchy/MSBNC shows Rep. Ben Cardin (D) leading Lt. Gov. Michael Steele (R) 47%-44%, while a SurveyUSA poll finds Cardin and Steele tied at 47% each.
Michigan: Four Polls Show Stabenow Leading By At Least Six. Four different polls out this morning show Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) leading by a range of six to 19 points.
Minnesota: Poll Shows Klobuchar Leads Kennedy 54-34%. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported a new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll shows Amy Klobuchar (D) "continues to hold a large lead, 54 percent to 34 percent," over Mark Kennedy (R).
Missouri: Three Polls Show McCaskill With Slight Advantage. A Rasmussen Reports poll finds State Auditor Claire McCaskill (D) at 49% and Sen. Jim Talent (R) at 48%. A McClatchy/MSBNC poll shows McCaskill (D) leading Talent (R) 46%-45%. A USA Today /Gallup poll shows McCaskill leading Talent 49%-45%.
Montana: Two Polls Show Tight Race, Third Has Tester By Nine. The Billings Gazette (11/4, Johnson, 47K) reports that a Mason-Dixon/Billings Gazette poll finds Sen. Conrad Burns (R) and State Senate President Jon Tester (D) tied at 47% each. A Rasmussen Reports poll shows Tester leading Burns 50%-46%. A USA Today /Gallup poll shows Tester leading Burns 50%-41% among likely voters.
New Jersey: Eight Polls Show Menendez Leading By Varying Margins. Sen. Bob Menendez (D) appears to be pulling away from Republican challenger Tom Kean Jr., with 8 polls out over the last few days showing Menendez leads of between two and 10 points.
Ohio: Two Polls Show Brown Up. A McClatchy/MSBNC poll shows challenger Rep. Sherrod Brown (D) leading Ohio Sen. Mike DeWine (R) 50%-44%. A Rasmussen Reports poll shows Brown leading DeWine 53%-41%.
Pennsylvania: Santorum Down By Down By Double Digits In Two Polls. A McClatchy/MSBNC poll shows challenger Bob Casey Jr. (D) leading Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R) 52%-39%. A Strategic Vision (R) poll shows Casey leading Santorum 52%-40%.
Rhode Island: Two New Polls Show Chafee Making Last-Minute Rally. A McClatchy/MSBNC poll shows Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R) leading challenger Sheldon Whitehouse (D) 46%-45%. In a similar poll two weeks ago, Whitehouse led 48%-43%. A USA Today /Gallup poll shows Whitehouse leading Chafee 48%-45% among likely voters. A similar poll from a month ago showed Whitehouse up 50%-39%.
Tennessee: Two Polls Show Corker With Wide Lead, Third Shows Tight Race. A McClatchy/MSBNC poll shows Bob Corker Jr. (R) leading Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D) 50%-38% in the race for the open Tennessee Senate seat being vacated by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. A Rasmussen Reports poll finds Corker leading Ford 53%-45%. A USA Today /Gallup poll shows Corker leading Ford 49%-46% among likely voters.
Virginia: Three Polls Show Race Going Down To The Wire. The Richmond Times-Dispatch (11/4) reports that a new Mason-Dixon poll for that paper shows challenger Jim Webb (D) leading Sen. George Allen (R) 46%-45%. A USA Today /Gallup poll shows Allen leading Webb 49%-46% among likely voters. A Rasmussen Reports (11/5) poll shows Allen and Webb tied at 49% each.
Granholm Pulling Away In Michigan. The New York Times (11/4, Johnson, 1.21M) reports that some of this year's gubernatorial races "have been buffeted by the fierce winds blowing out of Washington over the question of which party will control Congress," but "many more have been focused on the traditional state-centered issues that have little to do with party: personal popularity, the local economy, education and the environment," leaving them "out of sync with the broader national trends." ... Two polls released over the weekend show the Maryland gubernatorial race going down to the wire: A McClatchy/MSBNC poll of 625 likely voters taken 10/31-11/3 by Mason-Dixon shows Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R) and challenger Martin O'Malley (D) tied at 45%, while a SurveyUSA poll shows O'Malley up 48%-47%. ... Michigan had been one of the GOP's best hopes for knocking off a Democratic governor this cycle, but new polling shows the race slipping away from them: A McClatchy/MSBNC poll by Mason-Dixon shows Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) leading challenger Dick DeVos (R) 52%-38%, while a SurveyUSA poll shows Granholm up by 6 and a Strategic Vision (R) poll shows Granholm leading by 10.
Jay Leno: "I guess you all heard about the big accident today, right? Did you know about that? Yeah, pretty, pretty gruesome. Apparently, a number of Republicans running from George Bush collided with a bunch of Democrats running from John Kerry. ... Did you ever think the Democrats would miss the wit and charisma of Al Gore? It's hard to believe." David Letterman: "You know what, Tuesday is election day, you folks ready to vote? Yup, it's all over but the crooked vote counting now. ... Happy birthday to First Lady Laura Bush, 60 years old on Saturday for Laura Bush. President Bush says that marrying Laura was the smartest decision he ever made. And yeah, I think that sounds about right." Conan O'Brien: "MSNBC is reporting that the average poll worker for Tuesday's elections will be 72, and that many of these seniors are not comfortable with computerized voting machines. Yeah. Which explains why the projected winner is expected to be Franklin Delano Roosevelt."
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