Tuesday, September 11, 2018

2018 Democratic victory in Arizona is 'unlikely'

Really? Naw. I don’t believe it. I posted that headline just to get you to read this and get juiced up. Read on about national trends and the race for Democratic governor.

Jonathan Swan (axios.com) sees Scary signs for Republicans. (h/t Daily Kos)

My colleague Mike Allen, who’s covered a few midterm elections in his time, says it’s rare to see so much evidence of a trend accumulate so many months out, only for all the signals to be proven wrong.

Check out Swan’s report for quantitative indicators, examples being the number of House seats in play due to retirements in 2010 (14 Dems) vs. 2018 (41 GOP) and 2nd quarter fundraising in 2010 (44 Dem candidates out-raised) vs. 2018 (56 GOP candidates out-raised).

The big picture: Yes, the punditocracy is being cautious about 2018 because it has fresh memories of how humiliating it felt to wake up on Nov. 9, 2016, with Donald Trump as president. But the [table in Swan’s post] tells a stark story and shows the pundit class may be underestimating the odds of a devastating election season for Republicans.

The bottom line: The signals look every bit as bad for Republicans as they did for House Democrats when they got wiped out in the 2010 Tea Party wave.

“Every metric leads you to one conclusion: The likelihood of significant Republican losses in the House and state/local level is increasing by the week,” said the Republican operative who did this statistical comparison to 2010.

“The depth of losses could be much greater than anticipated and the Senate majority might be in greater peril than anticipated.”

So let’s look at the Senate as seen by Dan Balz (Washington Post) who writes Forget the House. It’s the battle for the Senate that could provide the most drama on election night.

For months now, the focus of Campaign 2018, rightly, has been on control of the House. All the metrics continue to point to a midterm election in which Democrats could seize control of that chamber. But for sheer drama and unpredictability, the contest for control of the Senate could be the place to look.

The House is no slam-dunk for the Democrats, but most Republicans following the campaigns are genuinely worried and probably right to be that way. The overall environment is difficult for the GOP because of President Trump and because of the location of the competitive races; suburban areas as one example. There are so many Republican-held seats at risk (and very few Democratic seats in similar danger) that Democrats have multiple paths to pick up the 23 they need to flip the chamber.

The Senate is and has been a different story. There the Democrats’ prospects are much more difficult, in large part because of the two big structural differences with the battle for the House. If the terrain that will determine control of the House more generally reflects the breadth of the country, the campaign for the Senate is largely playing out in the heart of Trump country.

Check out the WaPo column for names and places, for example, the AZ race between Sinema and McSally.

Two … Democratic incumbents in toss-up races are Sen. Jon Tester of Montana and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin III. Trump has campaigned in their states in an effort to rally his voters to turn out in November. But of the five Democrats in the reddest states, these two appear, today, in marginally better shape than their colleagues in North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana and Florida.

Holding all five of those seats would still mean Democrats have to knock off two Republicans. Their prospects are brightest in Nevada, Tennessee and Arizona, where Republican Rep. Martha McSally is facing Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema for the seat now held by retiring Republican Sen. Jeff Flake.

None of those states is particularly easy for the Democrats. Presidentially, Nevada is a truly purple state, trending blue perhaps because of changing demographics. Democrats like to think the same is happening in Arizona, but it hasn’t yet jelled. …

Balz concludes:

… running the map state by state underscores the challenge to the Democrats. They need near-perfect campaigns to offset the GOP’s built-in advantages. Looking at things from that perspective, it’s no wonder that Republicans think, in the end, they will hold their majority in the Senate or even add a seat or more.

The question is whether there are larger forces at work that could turn things in the direction of the Democrats, things that have less to do with who runs the best television commercial or knocks on the most doors or has good debate performances.

“What keeps me up at night is the ‘overriding force’ possibility,” a Republican strategist emailed on Friday. “In 2014 and 2016, our party benefited from late-in-cycle movement that tipped nearly all the close races our way. You could see something like that developing this fall — not a wave, just a shift — that could flip close races in the Democrats’ direction.”

Today no one can say whether that will be the case. But the very existence of a series of races that are as close as they are right now, and the possibility that they stay that way over the coming weeks, suggests that the campaign for the Senate deserves plenty of attention.

Back on the (AZ) ranch …

Larry Bodine at Blog for Arizona reports on a new survey: Ducey Has 8% Lead in AZ Gubernatorial Race.

Data Orbital’s ballot test for the Arizona Gubernatorial Race, between incumbent Republican Governor Doug Ducey and Democrat David Garcia, shows Ducey with just under an 8% lead. With only 7.9% of surveyed voters being undecided, there is little room for major movement leading up to election day.

“These numbers indicate that even with high enthusiasm from Democrats, Governor Ducey still holds a comfortable lead,” says George Khalaf, President of Data Orbital. Early ballots will be mailed out on October 10.

The survey was of likely Arizona General Election voters and was conducted from September 4th to the 6th.

There are two things about this report that should get you head-scratching. First, the other question asked in the survey was about Trump.

Looking at the view of President Trump the survey shows President Trump underwater by 6.5 percentage points, consistent with past survey results prior to the Arizona primary election. [42.2% favorable vs. 48.7% unfavorable]

We need to go figure. Is Arizona so disconnected from the nation such that Ducey, an almost blood relative of Trump, is able to flip a strong national trend against Trump when it comes to the Governor race? I don’t know the answer. If any of you have a source that will clarify, please let me know.

The second thing is that the survey was based on “likely” voters. What the Democratic challenger, David Garcia, needs to do is to bring out “unlikely” voters. With Garcia down by 8 points in the survey, and with only about 8% voters still undecided, he could very well lose - if he just goes after the undecided vote. If the undecided voters break along party lines, in red-state AZ, Garcia won’t make it. Just trying to snag disaffected “moderate” Republicans, it seems to me, also is a losing strategy given how strongly cultish Republicans love their King Donald. So Scriber thinks getting those “unlikely” voters out in force is what Garcia must do.

Now you know about my headline. A 2018 Democratic victory in Arizona, at least for Governor, depends on “unlikely” voters.

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