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Sequestered in America

March 2, 2013

Call it official, now. Shout it out from the rooftops. Wave the white flag (well, maybe not that).

The sequester is now in effect.

Thanks to a divided Congress that pandered to the hoi pollois of their partisan bases without solving the larger problem at hand — a toxic stew of reckless spending, tax cuts that largely failed to meet their intended purpose, and constitutional abuse dating several years back, the United States has now reached this phase and therefore now finds itself in the awkward position of blaming the other side for the coming effects of the sequester that will gradually rear its ugly course over time.

However, what is not being said is that at this moment we have now reached the point, as a country, where there will be no solution without some degree of pain. When you’re dealing with a country’s populace whose young folks have seen their unlimited potential sapped by the bad decisions of their overpampered parents’ generation (or at least in the case of yours truly, generations), and the only thing that has not yet occurred is the day of reckoning, it does not take a rocket scientist (or perhaps even the designer behind the bell-shaped dress Jennifer Lawrence wore to the Oscars) to understand that band-aids only temporarily stop the bleeding on the outside, and America still has internal organ damage that has not been fixed.

But instead of trying to find a viable solution to a lingering problem that actually would benefit the average American, the two parties have engaged in a blame game of crying to mommy over the “mean” schoolyard bullies giving them a knuckle sandwich. This goes two ways:
Democrats: Mommy! Johnny (Boehner) stole my welfare check and made me eat mud!
Republicans: Mommy! Barry (Obama) stole my toy soldiers and burned my lunch money!

For those who don’t get the context of the two bullets above, the two sides have been too cushy as of late in expanding the welfare and warfare states to unsustainable levels. The $85 billion in automatic spending cuts set to take place over time are the result of years of endless handwringing over trying to soothe Joe and Jane’s fears while not minding further erosions in the national well-being. (credit downgrades, anyone?)

For the most part, the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles Commission are a breathtaking change from the self-indulgent train wreck that both parties have engaged in as opposed to empowering individuals and businesses to change their own internal ways in how they guarantee themselves financial stability (e.g. cut the perks, don’t spoil your kids, pay as you go, etc.). In other words, bottomless tax cuts and “happy meal” spending binges have actually done more harm than good to the American people, a fact that both sides fail to realize at this point.

But what would the Simpson-Bowles recommendations actually have done? The results would have been $4 trillion in debt reductions over 10 years, tax increases on high earners including perhaps a repeal of the poorly aligned, unsustainable Bush tax cuts, and clearing out tax breaks that largely promote a culture of self-indulgence as opposed to genuine money management.

And that explains the crux of the problem with the Washington of today.

Let’s be honest: For too long, Capitol Hill has pandered to the vast wasteland of reality show America, where wanting to be popular through tax breaks to Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan (and their dimwitted fans and wannabes), endless billions in nation building overseas, and hearty portions of entitlements for even those who don’t necessarily need it have become the order of the day. Try to talk some sense into these creatures of government sloth, and they will act worse to you than any standard-issue Twilight fangirl living off their parents’ credit card.

Taking a page from Ronald Reagan, even if outside of the realm of where he said it, it is imperative that our leaders aim to gain the long-term respect of the American people before even trying to attempt to be liked for spending cuts and tax breaks that actually don’t empower individuals to move upward or businesses to grow outward, but instead rather serve as nothing more than a smokescreen for the internal problems that continue to linger.

That means taking the hard, high road of reigning in the nation’s antiquated tax code, auditing the Federal Reserve, ending useless empire fantasies overseas, cutting military waste down to the bone, reforming Social Security and Medicare so that they will be there for when me and my fellow Millennials are ready for Depends, ending unsustainable tax breaks and cuts that have not benefited the economy, laying the groundwork to once again back our dollars with gold, and of course giving the recommendations of Simpson-Bowles (most of which I have already covered) a genuine shot at succeeding for the benefit of our country and not our self-indulgence.

And I’m sure that’s a strategy any “tit” (as Erskine Bowles’ partner-in-crime Alan Simpson lovingly called each of us fellow Americans) of sound mind can take to the bank.

The 2012 Bullet Train to November Consensus

November 6, 2012

Today, millions of Americans will be voicing their constitutional freedoms at town halls, school gymnasiums, supermarkets and community centers across the nation. And this year, the stakes could not be any greater with a very close presidential election, a tight battle for the Senate, and House Speaker John Boehner’s battle to maintain control of his gavel all hanging in the balance. With a still-stagnant economy, staggering national debt, an uncertain energy future, various social concerns, and a volatile foreign landscape all breathing down the neck of the United States, not to mention a spate of October surprises from Barack Obama’s disastrous first debate performance to the monstrous storm known as Sandy, Americans stand at a greater crossroads than ever before. In each of the 50 states, a deeply divided nation’s fate rests in the voters’ hands as the latest once in a score presidential redistricting combo election comes to a close today.

And the 20th Century certainly has laid witness to the ramification-laden outcomes that resulted over its five such elections. 1912 gave us a third party bid by Teddy Roosevelt and the rise of the pro-empire Democrat Woodrow Wilson. 1932 was defined by a badly damaged Elephant Stampede and the rise of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. 1952 marked the end of the latter era and the rise of postwar Republicanism with Dwight Eisenhower. 1972 introduced the world to the now dearly departed George McGovern and an unprecedented brand of liberalism in the Donkey Brigade. And 1992 gave us Ross Perot and the shift (at least on the presidential level) of many a suburban and working-class voter alike to a moderate brand of Democratic politics as only Bill Clinton could define it. For 2012, the election may shape up to be a battle of a new Great Divide that may not be resolved until many hours after polls close on November the 6th.

In wrapping up the 2012 Bullet Train to November, here we go with The Consensus…

Governors

While it may be a presidential year, there are a few states that hold gubernatorial elections concurrent with that of the White House. Republicans are assured of their majority with 26 of their Governor’s Mansions not up for reelection, while Democrats have safe control of 12 governorships. After factoring in independent Governor Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, that leaves eleven states that will decide the fate of their states – at the state level. And yes, Governors do matter (especially on amendments).

So, without saying much, here is how the states up for grabs will shake out (all times SLST):

Starting Line: 26-12-1 GOP

Indiana (6:00p): Republican Mike Pence > Democrat John Gregg (27-12-1 GOP)

Vermont (6:00p): Democrat Peter Shumlin > Republican Randy Brock (27-13-1 GOP)

North Carolina (6:30p): Democrat Walter Dalton < Republican Pat McCrory (28-13-1 GOP) (+1 GOP)

West Virginia (6:30p): Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin > Republican Bill Maloney (28-14-1 GOP)

Delaware (7:00p): Democrat Jack Markell > Republican Jeff Cragg (28-15-1 GOP)

Missouri (7:00p): Democrat Jay Nixon > Republican Dave Spence (28-16-1 GOP)

New Hampshire (7:00p): Democrat Maggie Hassan > Republican Ovide Lamontagne (28-17-1 GOP)

Montana (9:00p): Democrat Steve Bullock < Republican Rick Hill (29-17-1 GOP) (+2 GOP)

Utah (9:00p): Republican Gary Herbert > Democrat Peter Cooke (30-17-1 GOP)

North Dakota (10:00p): Republican Jack Dalrymple > Democrat Ryan Taylor (31-17-1 GOP)

Washington (10:00p): Democrat Jay Inslee < Republican Rob McKenna (32-17-1 GOP) (+3 GOP)

Senate

Many thought Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would be left for dead after falling from grace statewide before roaring back to pull off an upset in his 2010 reelection bid. But Reid’s days in charge hang in the balance as a multitude of competitive battles cast a pall over Reid’s future in the world’s most exclusive club, with Republicans touting emerging challengers and hope that Mitt Romney’s coattails will extend to the Legislative Branch. Democrats, however, hope that a series of self-inflicted wounds amongst a handful of GOP Senate candidates (including two on abortion-related matters) will ensure Reid of another two years in his current post. But without further ado, how would yours truly predict the outcome of the Senate?

Starting Line: 37-30 GOP

Indiana (6:00p): Republican Richard Mourdock < Democrat Joe Donnelly (37-31 GOP) (+1 DEM)

Vermont (6:00p): Independent Bernie Sanders (DEM caucus) > Republican John MacGovern (37-32 GOP)

Virginia (6:00p): Democrat Tim Kaine > Republican George Allen (37-33 GOP)

Ohio (6:30p): Democrat Sherrod Brown > Republican Josh Mandel (37-34 GOP)

West Virginia (6:30p): Democrat Joe Manchin > Republican John Raese (37-35 GOP)

Connecticut (7:00p): Democrat Chris Murphy > Republican Linda McMahon (37-36 GOP)

Delaware (7:00p): Democrat Tom Carper > Republican Kevin Wade (37-37 DEM)

Florida (7:00p): Democrat Bill Nelson > Republican Connie Mack IV (38-37 DEM)

Maine (7:00p): Independent Angus King (DEM caucus) > Republican Charlie Summers > Democrat Cynthia Dill (39-37 DEM) (+2 DEM)

Maryland (7:00p): Democrat Ben Cardin > Republican Dan Bongino > Independent Rob Sobhani (40-37 DEM)

Massachusetts (7:00p): Republican Scott Brown < Democrat Elizabeth Warren (41-37 DEM) (+3 DEM)

Michigan (7:00p): Democrat Debbie Stabenow > Republican Pete Hoekstra (42-37 DEM)

Mississippi (7:00p): Republican Roger Wicker > Democrat Albert Gore Jr. (not the former VP) (42-38 DEM)

Missouri (7:00p): Democrat Claire McCaskill > Republican Todd Akin (43-38 DEM)

New Jersey (7:00p): Democrat Bob Menendez > Republican Joe Kyrillos (44-38 DEM)

Pennsylvania (7:00p): Democrat Bob Casey > Republican Tom Smith (45-38 DEM)

Rhode Island (7:00p): Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse > Republican Barry Hinckley (46-38 DEM)

Tennessee (7:00p): Republican Bob Corker > Democrat Mark Clayton (46-39 DEM)

Arizona (8:00p): Republican Jeff Flake > Democrat Richard Carmona (46-40 DEM)

Minnesota (8:00p): Democrat Amy Klobuchar > Republican Kurt Bills (47-40 DEM)

Nebraska (8:00p): Democrat Bob Kerrey < Republican Deb Fischer (47-41 DEM) (+2 DEM)

New Mexico (8:00p): Democrat Martin Heinrich > Republican Heather Wilson (48-41 DEM)

New York (8:00p): Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand > Republican Wendy Long (49-41 DEM)

Texas (8:00p): Republican Ted Cruz > Democrat Paul Sadler (49-42 DEM)

Wisconsin (8:00p): Democrat Tammy Baldwin > Republican Tommy Thompson (50-42 DEM)

Wyoming (8:00p): Republican John Barrasso > Democrat Tim Chesnut (50-43 DEM)

Montana (9:00p): Democrat Jon Tester < Republican Denny Rehberg (50-44 DEM) (+1 DEM)

Nevada (9:00p): Republican Dean Heller > Democrat Shelley Berkley (50-45 DEM)

Utah (9:00p): Republican Orrin Hatch > Democrat Scott Howell (50-46 DEM)

California (10:00p): Democrat Dianne Feinstein > Republican Elizabeth Emken (51-46 DEM)

Hawaii (10:00p): Democrat Mazie Hirono > Republican Linda Lingle (52-46 DEM)

North Dakota (10:00p): Democrat Heidi Heitkamp < Republican Rick Berg (52-47 DEM) (EVEN)

Washington (10:00p): Democrat Maria Cantwell > Republican Michael Baumgartner (53-47 DEM)

House

Whether or not the speaker’s gavel remains with John Boehner or goes back to Nancy Pelosi will all come down to how well both parties do in the most pivotal House races. Working against Boehner is a historically low congressional approval rating and the presence of many Republican incumbents in districts that voted for Barack Obama. Working against Pelosi is a redistricting lot that has favored Republicans and a list of leading Democratic prospects that have failed to catch fire in the general election campaign. But regardless of who wins, whichever party gains control will have to contend with a potentially divided Senate as well as a potentially close presidential outcome. All matters aside, here is how the House will turn out in my book, starting with the safe incumbents.

Safe Incumbents

Solid DEM (137): AL-07, AZ-03, AZ-07, CA-02, CA-05, CA-06, CA-11, CA-12, CA-13, CA-14, CA-17, CA-18, CA-19, CA-20, CA-27, CA-28, CA-29, CA-32, CA-34, CA-37, CA-38, CA-40, CA-43, CA-46, CA-51, CA-53, CO-01, CT-01, CT-02, CT-03, DE-AL, FL-05, FL-14, FL-20, FL-21, FL-24, GA-02, GA-04, GA-05, GA-13, HI-02, IL-01, IL-02, IL-03, IL-04, IL-05, IL-07, IL-09, IN-01, IN-07, KY-03, LA-02, ME-01, MD-02, MD-03, MD-04, MD-05, MD-07, MD-08, MA-01, MA-02, MA-03, MA-05, MA-07, MA-08, MA-09, MI-05, MI-09, MI-12, MI-13, MI-14, MN-04, MN-05, MS-02, MO-01, MO-05, NV-01, NJ-01, NJ-08, NJ-09, NJ-10, NJ-12, NM-03, NY-03, NY-04, NY-05, NY-06, NY-07, NY-08, NY-09, NY-10, NY-12, NY-13, NY-14, NY-15, NY-16, NY-20, NY-26, NC-01, NC-04, NC-12, OH-03, OH-09, OH-11, OH-13, OR-01, OR-03, OR-05, PA-01, PA-02, PA-13, PA-14, PA-17, SC-06, TN-05, TN-09, TX-09, TX-15, TX-16, TX-18, TX-20, TX-28, TX-29, TX-30, TX-33, TX-34, TX-35, VT-AL, VA-03, VA-08, VA-11, WA-02, WA-07, WA-09, WI-02, WI-03, WI-04

Solid GOP (176): AL-01, AL-02, AL-03, AL-04, AL-05, AL-06, AK-AL, AZ-04, AZ-05, AZ-06, AZ-08, AR-02, AR-03, AR-04, CA-01, CA-04, CA-22, CA-23, CA-25, CA-39, CA-42, CA-48, CA-49, CA-50, CO-05, FL-01, FL-03, FL-04, FL-06, FL-07, FL-08, FL-11, FL-12, FL-15, FL-17, FL-19, FL-25, FL-27, GA-01, GA-03, GA-06, GA-07, GA-08, GA-09, GA-10, GA-11, GA-14, ID-01, ID-02, IL-06, IL-14, IL-15, IL-16, IL-18, IN-03, IN-04, IN-05, IN-06, IN-09, KS-01, KS-02, KS-03, KS-04, KY-01, KY-02, KY-04, KY-05, LA-01, LA-04, LA-05, LA-06, MD-01, MI-02, MI-04, MI-06, MI-07, MI-08, MI-10, MN-03, MS-01, MS-03, MS-04, MO-02, MO-03, MO-06, MO-07, MO-08, NE-01, NE-03, NV-02, NJ-02, NJ-04, NJ-05, NJ-11, NM-02, NY-02, NY-22, NY-23, NC-02, NC-03, NC-05, NC-06, NC-13, OH-01, OH-02, OH-04, OH-08, OH-12, OH-14, OH-15, OK-01, OK-03, OK-04, OK-05, OR-02, PA-03, PA-04, PA-05, PA-09, PA-10, PA-11, PA-15, PA-16, SC-01, SC-02, SC-03, SC-04, SC-05, SC-07, TN-01, TN-02, TN-03, TN-06, TN-07, TN-08, TX-01, TX-02, TX-03, TX-04, TX-05, TX-06, TX-07, TX-08, TX-10, TX-11, TX-12, TX-13, TX-17, TX-19, TX-21, TX-22, TX-24, TX-25, TX-26, TX-27, TX-31, TX-32, TX-36, UT-01, UT-02, UT-03, VA-01, VA-04, VA-06, VA-07, VA-09, VA-10, WA-03, WA-04, WA-05, WA-08, WV-01, WV-02, WI-05, WI-06, WY-AL

Starting Line: 176-137 GOP

5:00p SLST | 6:00p EST

Indiana 2 (South Bend): Democrat Brendan Mullen < Republican Jackie Walorski (177-137 GOP)

Kentucky 6 (Lexington): Democrat Ben Chandler > Republican Andy Barr (177-138 GOP)

6:00p SLST | 7:00p EST

Florida 9 (Orlando/Kissimmee): Democrat Alan Grayson > Republican Todd Long (177-139 GOP) (NEW)

Florida 10 (Orlando/Winter Park): Republican Daniel Webster > Democrat Val Demings (178-139 GOP)

Florida 13 (St. Petersburg): Republican Bill Young > Democrat Jessica Ehrlich (179-139 GOP)

Florida 16 (Sarasota): Republican Vern Buchanan > Democrat Keith Fitzgerald (180-139 GOP)

Florida 18 (Palm Beach Gardens): Republican Allen West > Democrat Patrick Murphy (181-139 GOP)

Florida 22 (Boca Raton): Republican Adam Hasner > Democrat Lois Frankel (182-139 GOP)

Florida 23 (Fort Lauderdale): Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz > Republican Karen Harrington (182-140 GOP)

Florida 26 (Homestead): Republican David Rivera < Democrat Joe Garcia (182-141 GOP)

Georgia 12 (Augusta): Democrat John Barrow > Republican Lee Anderson (182-142 GOP)

Indiana 8 (Evansville): Republican Larry Bucshon > Democrat Dave Crooks (183-142 GOP)

Virginia 2 (Virginia Beach): Republican Scott Rigell > Democrat Paul Hirschbiel (184-142 GOP)

Virginia 5 (Charlottesville): Republican Robert Hurt > Democrat John Douglass (185-142 GOP)

6:30p SLST | 7:30p EST

North Carolina 7 (Wilmington): Democrat Mike McIntyre > Republican David Rouzer (185-143 GOP)

North Carolina 8 (Concord): Democrat Larry Kissell < Republican Richard Hudson (186-143 GOP)

North Carolina 9 (Charlotte (South)): Republican Robert Pittenger > Democrat Jennifer Roberts (187-143 GOP)

North Carolina 10 (Asheville): Republican Patrick McHenry > Democrat Patsy Keever (188-143 GOP)

North Carolina 11 (Waynesville): Democrat Hayden Rogers < Republican Mark Meadows (189-143 GOP)

Ohio 5 (Bowling Green): Republican Bob Latta > Angela Zimmann (190-143 GOP)

Ohio 6 (Marietta): Republican Bill Johnson > Democrat Charlie Wilson (191-143 GOP)

Ohio 7 (Canton): Republican Bob Gibbs > Democrat Joyce Healy-Abrams (192-143 GOP)

Ohio 10 (Dayton): Republican Mike Turner > Democrat Sharen Neuhardt (193-143 GOP)

Ohio 16 (Medina): Republican Jim Renacci > Democrat Betty Sutton (194-143 GOP)

West Virginia 3 (Bluefield): Democrat Nick Rahall > Republican Rick Snuffer (194-144 GOP)

7:00p SLST | 8:00p EST

Connecticut 4 (Bridgeport): Democrat Jim Himes > Republican Steve Obsitnik (194-145 GOP)

Connecticut 5 (Waterbury): Democrat Elizabeth Esty < Republican Andrew Roraback (195-145 GOP)

Florida 2 (Tallahassee/Panama City): Republican Steve Southerland > Democrat Al Lawson (196-145 GOP)

Illinois 8 (Schaumburg): Republican Joe Walsh < Democrat Tammy Duckworth (196-146 GOP)

Illinois 10 (Highland Park/Waukegan): Republican Bob Dold > Democrat Brad Schneider (197-146 GOP)

Illinois 11 (Aurora/Joliet): Republican Judy Biggert > Democrat Bill Foster (198-146 GOP)

Illinois 12 (East St. Louis): Democrat Bill Enyart > Republican Jason Plummer (198-147 GOP)

Illinois 13 (Springfield): Republican Rodney Davis > Democrat David Gill (199-147 GOP)

Illinois 17 (Moline): Republican Bobby Schilling > Democrat Cheri Bustos (200-147 GOP)

Maine 2 (Bangor): Democrat Mike Michaud > Republican Kevin Raye (200-148 GOP)

Maryland 6 (Hagerstown/Gaithersburg): Republican Roscoe Bartlett < Democrat John Delaney (200-149 GOP)

Massachusetts 4 (Newton/Taunton): Democrat Joe Kennedy III > Republican Sean Bielat (200-150 GOP)

Massachusetts 6 (Wakefield/Gloucester): Democrat John Tierney < Republican Richard Tisei (201-150 GOP)

Michigan 1 (Marquette/Traverse City): Republican Dan Benishek < Democrat Gary McDowell (201-151 GOP)

Michigan 3 (Grand Rapids/Battle Creek): Republican Justin Amash > Democrat Steve Pestka (202-151 GOP)

Michigan 11 (Livonia/Troy): Republican Kerry Bentivolio > Democrat Syed Taj (203-151 GOP)

Missouri 4 (Columbia/Harrisonville): Republican Vicky Hartzler > Democrat Teresa Hensley (204-151 GOP)

New Hampshire 1 (Manchester): Republican Frank Guinta > Democrat Carol Shea-Porter (205-151 GOP)

New Hampshire 2 (Concord/Nashua): Republican Charlie Bass < Democrat Ann McLane Kuster (205-152 GOP)

New Jersey 3 (Mount Holly/Toms River): Republican Jon Runyan > Democrat Shelley Adler (206-152 GOP)

New Jersey 6 (New Brunswick/Asbury Park): Democrat Frank Pallone > Republican Anna Little (206-153 GOP)

New Jersey 7 (Summit/Flemington): Republican Leonard Lance > Democrat Upendra Chivukula (207-153 GOP)

Oklahoma 2 (Claremore/Muskogee): Democrat Rob Wallace < Republican Markwayne Mullin (208-153 GOP)

Pennsylvania 6 (Reading/West Chester): Republican Jim Gerlach > Democrat Manan Trivedi (209-153 GOP)

Pennsylvania 7 (Radnor/Bellemont): Republican Pat Meehan > Democrat George Badey (210-153 GOP)

Pennsylvania 8 (Levittown/Doylestown): Republican Mike Fitzpatrick > Democrat Kathy Boockvar (211-153 GOP)

Pennsylvania 12 (Johnstown/McCandless): Democrat Mark Critz < Republican Keith Rothfus (212-153 GOP)

Pennsylvania 18 (Greensburg/Mount Lebanon): Republican Tim Murphy > Democrat Larry Maggi (213-153 GOP)

Rhode Island 1 (Providence East/Bristol): Democrat David Cicilline < Republican Brendan Doherty (214-153 GOP)

Rhode Island 2 (Providence West/Warwick): Democrat James Langevin > Republican Michael Riley (214-154 GOP)

Tennessee 4 (Cleveland/Murfreesboro): Republican Scott DesJarlais > Democrat Eric Stewart (215-154 GOP)

Texas 14 (Beaumont/Lake Jackson): Republican Randy Weber > Democrat Nick Lampson (216-154 GOP)

Texas 23 (San Antonio/Socorro): Republican Quico Canseco > Democrat Pete Gallego (217-154 GOP)

7:30p SLST | 8:30p EST

Arkansas 1 (Jonesboro): Republican Rick Crawford > Democrat Scott Ellington (218-154 GOP)

8:00p SLST | 9:00p EST

Arizona 1 (Flagstaff/Casa Grande): Republican Jonathan Paton > Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick (219-154 GOP)

Arizona 2 (Tucson East): Democrat Ron Barber > Republican Martha McSally (219-155 GOP)

Arizona 9 (Tempe): Democrat Kyrsten Sinema < Republican Vernon Parker (220-155 GOP) (NEW)

Colorado 2 (Boulder/Fort Collins): Democrat Jared Polis > Republican Kevin Lundberg (220-156 GOP)

Colorado 3 (Grand Junction/Pueblo): Republican Scott Tipton > Democrat Sal Pace (221-156 GOP)

Colorado 4 (Castle Rock/Greeley): Republican Cory Gardner > Democrat Brandon Shaffer (222-156 GOP)

Colorado 6 (Aurora): Republican Mike Coffman > Democrat Joe Miklosi (223-156 GOP)

Colorado 7 (Arvada): Democrat Ed Perlmutter > Republican Joe Coors (223-157 GOP)

Louisiana 3 (Lafayette/Lake Charles): Republican Jeff Landry < Republican Charles Boustany (224-157 GOP)

Minnesota 1 (Rochester/Mankato): DFLer Tim Walz > Republican Allen Quist (224-158 GOP)

Minnesota 2 (Burnsville): Republican John Kline > DFler Mike Obermueller (225-158 GOP)

Minnesota 6 (Saint Cloud): Republican Michele Bachmann > DFLer Jim Graves (226-158 GOP)

Minnesota 7 (Alexandria): DFLer Collin Peterson > Republican Lee Byberg (226-159 GOP)

Minnesota 8 (Duluth): Republican Chip Cravaack < DFLer Rick Nolan (226-160 GOP)

Nebraska 2 (Omaha): Republican Lee Terry > Democrat John Ewing (227-160 GOP)

New Mexico 1 (Albuquerque): Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham > Republican Janice Arnold-Jones (227-161 GOP)

New York 1 (Southampton): Democrat Tim Bishop < Republican Randy Altschuler (228-161 GOP)

New York 11 (Staten Island): Republican Michael Grimm > Democrat Mark Murphy (229-161 GOP)

New York 17 (White Plains/New City): Democrat Nita Lowey > Republican Joe Carvin (229-162 GOP)

New York 18 (Middletown/Carmel): Republican Nan Hayworth > Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney (230-162 GOP)

New York 19 (Kingston): Republican Chris Gibson > Democrat Julian Schreibman (231-162 GOP)

New York 21 (Watertown/Plattsburgh): Democrat Bill Owens > Republican Matt Doheny (231-163 GOP)

New York 24 (Syracuse): Republican Ann Marie Buerkle > Democrat Dan Maffei (232-163 GOP)

New York 25 (Rochester): Democrat Louise Slaughter > Republican Maggie Brooks (232-164 GOP)

New York 27 (Orchard Park/Batavia): Democrat Kathy Hochul < Republican Chris Collins (233-164 GOP)

South Dakota: Republican Kristi Noem > Democrat Matt Varilek (234-164 GOP)

Wisconsin 1 (Racine/Janesville): Republican Paul Ryan > Democrat Rob Zerban (235-164 GOP)

Wisconsin 7 (Superior): Republican Sean Duffy > Democrat Pat Kreitlow (236-164 GOP)

Wisconsin 8 (Green Bay): Republican Reid Ribble > Democrat Jamie Wall (237-164 GOP)

9:00p SLST | 10:00p EST

Iowa 1 (Cedar Rapids): Democrat Bruce Braley > Republican Ben Lange (237-165 GOP)

Iowa 2 (Davenport): Democrat Dave Loebsack > Republican John Archer (237-166 GOP)

Iowa 3 (Des Moines/Council Bluffs): Democrat Leonard Boswell < Republican Tom Latham (238-166 GOP)

Iowa 4 (Sioux City/Ames): Republican Steve King > Democrat Christie Vilsack (239-166 GOP)

Montana: Republican Steve Daines > Democrat Kim Gillan (240-166 GOP)

Nevada 3 (Henderson): Republican Joe Heck > Democrat John Oceguera (241-166 GOP)

Nevada 4 (North Las Vegas/Pahrump): Republican Danny Tarkanian > Democrat Steven Horsford (242-166 GOP) (NEW)

Utah 4 (West Jordan): Democrat Jim Matheson < Republican Mia Love (243-166 GOP)

10:00p SLST | 11:00p EST

California 3 (Davis/Yuba City): Democrat John Garamendi > Republican Kim Vann (243-167 GOP)

California 7 (Rancho Cordova): Republican Dan Lungren > Democrat Ami Bera (244-167 GOP)

California 8 (Barstow): Republican Paul Cook > Republican Gregg Imus (245-167 GOP)

California 9 (Stockton): Democrat Jerry McNerney > Republican Ricky Gill (245-168 GOP)

California 10 (Modesto): Republican Jeff Denham > Democrat Jose Hernandez (246-168 GOP)

California 15 (Hayward/Pleasanton): Democrat Pete Stark < Democrat Eric Swalwell (246-169 GOP)

California 16 (Fresno South/Merced): Democrat Jim Costa > Republican Brian Whelan (246-170 GOP)

California 21 (Hanford): Republican David Valadao > Democrat John Hernandez (247-170 GOP) (NEW)

California 24 (Santa Barbara/San Luis Obispo): Democrat Lois Capps > Republican Abel Maldonado (247-171 GOP)

California 26 (Thousand Oaks): Republican Tony Strickland < Democrat Julia Brownley (247-172 GOP)

California 30 (Northridge/Chatsworth): Democrat Brad Sherman > Democrat Howard Berman (247-173 GOP)

California 31 (San Bernardino): Republican Gary Miller < Republican Bob Dutton (248-173 GOP)

California 33 (Santa Monica): Democrat Henry Waxman > Independent Bill Bloomfield (248-174 GOP)

California 35 (Ontario): Democrat Joe Baca > Democrat Gloria Negrete McLeod (248-175 GOP)

California 36 (Palm Springs): Republican Mary Bono Mack > Democrat Raul Ruiz (249-175 GOP)

California 41 (Riverside): Democrat Mark Takano > Republican John Tavaglione (249-176 GOP)

California 44 (Carson): Democrat Laura Richardson < Democrat Janice Hahn (249-177 GOP)

California 45 (Irvine): Republican John Campbell > Democrat Sukhee Kang (250-177 GOP)

California 47 (Long Beach): Democrat Alan Lowenthal > Republican Gary DeLong (250-178 GOP)

California 52 (North San Diego): Republican Brian Bilbray > Democrat Scott Peters (251-178 GOP)

Hawaii 1 (Honolulu): Democrat Colleen Hanabusa > Republican Charles Djou (251-179 GOP)

North Dakota: Republican Kevin Cramer > Democrat Pam Gulleson (252-179 GOP)

Oregon 4 (Eugene): Democrat Peter DeFazio > Republican Art Robinson (252-180 GOP)

Washington 1 (Redmond/Mount Vernon): Democrat Suzan DelBene > Republican John Koster (252-181 GOP)

Washington 6 (Bremerton): Democrat Derek Kilmer > Republican Bill Driscoll (252-182 GOP)

Washington 10 (Olympia): Democrat Denny Heck > Republican Dick Muri (253-182 GOP) (NEW)

President

Finally, I have saved the best for last. There is no need to explain further, since virtually every professional media outlet has come forth with a multitude of polling projections. But given the relatively divided nature of the race, and speculation of a split in the Electoral College (or in the victory formula vis-à-vis 2000), I anticipate a lot of smoke and mirrors emanating from the battle between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. But with further ado, here is how the Electoral College will likely pan out tonight, with instant projections along with likely calls for “too close to call” states presented below.

6:00p SLST | 7:00p EST

Kentucky (8): Mitt Romney > Barack Obama (Romney 8-0)

South Carolina (9): Mitt Romney > Barack Obama (Romney 17-0)

Vermont (3): Barack Obama > Mitt Romney (Romney 17-3)

Too close to call: Georgia, Indiana, Virginia

6:30p SLST | 7:30p EST

West Virginia (5): Mitt Romney > Barack Obama (Romney 22-3)

Likely call – Indiana (11): Barack Obama < Mitt Romney (Romney 33-3)

Too close to call: North Carolina, Ohio

7:00p SLST | 8:00p EST

Alabama (9): Mitt Romney > Barack Obama (Romney 42-3)

Connecticut (7): Barack Obama > Mitt Romney (Romney 42-10)

Delaware (3): Barack Obama > Mitt Romney (Romney 42-13)

District of Columbia (3): Barack Obama > Mitt Romney (Romney 42-16)

Illinois (20): Barack Obama > Mitt Romney (Romney 42-36)

Maine (2): Barack Obama > Mitt Romney (Romney 42-38)

Maine 1 (1): Barack Obama > Mitt Romney (Romney 42-39)

Maryland (10): Barack Obama > Mitt Romney (Obama 49-42)

Massachusetts (11): Barack Obama > Mitt Romney (Obama 60-42)

Mississippi (6): Mitt Romney > Barack Obama (Obama 60-48)

New Jersey (14): Barack Obama > Mitt Romney (Obama 74-48)

Oklahoma (7): Mitt Romney > Barack Obama (Obama 74-55)

Rhode Island (4): Barack Obama > Mitt Romney (Obama 78-55)

Tennessee (11): Mitt Romney > Barack Obama (Obama 78-66)

Likely call – Georgia (16): Mitt Romney > Barack Obama (Romney 82-78)

Too close to call: Florida, Maine 2, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.

7:30p SLST | 8:30p EST

Arkansas (6): Mitt Romney > Barack Obama (Romney 88-78)

8:00p SLST | 9:00p EST

Kansas (6): Mitt Romney > Barack Obama (Romney 94-78)

Louisiana (8): Mitt Romney > Barack Obama (Romney 102-78)

Nebraska (2): Mitt Romney > Barack Obama (Romney 104-78)

Nebraska 1 (1): Mitt Romney > Barack Obama (Romney 105-78)

Nebraska 3 (1): Mitt Romney > Barack Obama (Romney 106-78)

New Mexico (5): Barack Obama > Mitt Romney (Romney 106-83)

New York (29): Barack Obama > Mitt Romney (Obama 112-106)

Texas (38): Mitt Romney > Barack Obama (Romney 144-112)

Wyoming (3): Mitt Romney > Barack Obama (Romney 147-112)

Likely call – Missouri (10): Mitt Romney > Barack Obama (Romney 157-112)

Too close to call: Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Nebraska 2, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

9:00p SLST | 10:00p EST

Utah (6): Mitt Romney > Barack Obama (Romney 163-112)

Likely call – Virginia (13): Barack Obama > Mitt Romney (Romney 163-125)

Likely call – Maine 2 (1): Barack Obama < Mitt Romney (Romney 164-125)

Likely call – Michigan (16): Barack Obama > Mitt Romney (Romney 164-141)

Likely call – New Hampshire (4): Barack Obama > Mitt Romney (Romney 164-145)

Likely call – South Dakota (3): Mitt Romney > Barack Obama (Romney 167-145)

Too close to call: Iowa, Montana and Nevada.

10:00p SLST | 11:00p EST

California (55): Barack Obama > Mitt Romney (Obama 200-167)

Hawaii (4): Barack Obama > Mitt Romney (Obama 204-167)

Idaho (4): Mitt Romney > Barack Obama (Obama 204-171)

Washington (12): Barack Obama > Mitt Romney (Obama 216-171)

Likely call – North Carolina (15): Barack Obama < Mitt Romney (Obama 216-186)

Likely call – Pennsylvania (20): Barack Obama > Mitt Romney (Obama 236-186)

Likely call – Arizona (11): Mitt Romney > Barack Obama (Obama 236-197)

Likely call – Minnesota (10): Barack Obama > Mitt Romney (Obama 246-197)

Likely call – Nebraska 2 (1): Barack Obama < Mitt Romney (Obama 246-198)

Likely call – Wisconsin (10): Barack Obama > Mitt Romney (Obama 256-198)

Likely call – Iowa (6): Barack Obama > Mitt Romney (Obama 262-198)

Likely call – Montana (3): Mitt Romney > Barack Obama (Obama 262-201)

Likely call – North Dakota (3): Mitt Romney > Barack Obama (Obama 262-204)

11:00p SLST | 12:00a EST

Alaska (3): Mitt Romney > Barack Obama (Obama 262-207)

Likely call – Ohio (18): Barack Obama > Mitt Romney (Obama 280-207) (Obama clinches reelection)

Likely call – Florida (29): Barack Obama < Mitt Romney (Obama 280-236)

Likely call – Colorado (9): Barack Obama > Mitt Romney (Obama 289-236)

Likely call – Nevada (6): Barack Obama > Mitt Romney (Obama 295-236)

Likely call – Oregon (7): Barack Obama > Mitt Romney (Obama 302-236)

Of course, while there is a very good chance that the presidential race will be called around the vicinity of late night, it does not necessarily mean that the race will absolutely be called by then. Furthermore, some of these swing states may not even be decided by midnight due to a variety of factors, which range from delays in counting provisional and absentee ballots to logistics shortcomings resulting from extraordinary events, including a certain monstrous storm on the East Coast. But as exit polls are revealed and returns come in, projections for those states will be forthcoming, although it is safe to say that the race is very likely to have been called as the clock strikes midnight. I could be wrong but in spite of talks of a divided presidential outcome, I will be surprised if the election is not called past midnight.

That being said, in concluding the 2012 run of the Bullet Train to November, here is the final tally presented for your viewing pleasure below. Now do the country a favor, if you haven’t cast your ballot already, and get out and vote…it’s worth it!

Final Score

President: Barack Obama 302, Mitt Romney 236.

Senate: 51 Democrats + 2 Independents caucusing with the Democrats, 47 Republicans.

House: Elephant Stampede 253, Donkey Brigade 182.

Governors: 32 Republicans, 17 Democrats and 1 independent.

The 2012 Bullet Train to November – Part L: California

November 2, 2012
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In terms of the order of admission to the Union, Delaware comes out first. But when talking about the actual population size of each state, the answer has been California for the longest time. Long a positive ray of sunshine in the American cultural vernacular, the situation for the Golden State has not been all that golden in recent times. This is the first Congress where California’s congressional delegation has not made any gains, but it also has not lost seats either as Democrats have held a spell on the state’s gargantuan 55 electoral votes. However, what makes the largest state the last stop on the Bullet Train this year is the radical redistricting process that came courtesy of a new independent redistricting commission approved by voters in 2010.

Let’s be honest: Independent redistricting commissions are indeed a noble cause, since they usually come up with redistricting plans that conjoin areas of common interest, while also encouraging incumbents to actually fight for their political lives as opposed to getting by with reelection without consequence. For the most part, while many Democrats have boasted of gains resulting from the changes, Republicans have pointed out a multitude of opportunities on their side as well. While the Elephant Stampede is not expected to seriously contest the Senate in a state with one of the worst GOP establishments (and yes, it is one of the worst for reasons that have nothing to do with the Democrats’ “dominance” of late), the makeup of the 113th Congress could all come down to what happens here – and the laundry list of opportunities ensures that all races will not be called until after November the 6th.

Senate | Solid DEM

Since picking up this seat from the GOP in a 1992 special election to fill the remainder of recently elected Republican Governor Pete Wilson’s unexpired term, longtime Democratic incumbent Dianne Feinstein has generally coasted to solid reelection victories. And despite rumors of the 79-year-old former San Francisco mayor pondering retirement between 2006 and now, a fourth full term (five including the unexpired term) now appears to be on deck. The Republican candidate will be Elizabeth Emken, a businesswoman and autism research advocate from the nearby suburb of Danville who faces an uphill battle after prevailing with her party’s nomination en route to a runoff spot with 12 percent of the vote – ahead of a multitude of lesser-known Republican candidates (for all intentional purposes, Feinstein won 50 percent in the June primary).

District 1 | Solid GOP

This heavily Republican district, centered in virtually all parts of Northern California that neither touch the Pacific Ocean nor reach deep into the Sacramento television market, will get a makeover as longtime Republican incumbent Wally Herger, one of the last remaining holdovers from the Ronald Reagan years, will be stepping aside. But the seat is in good hands for the GOP, as State Senator Doug LaMalfa is widely expected to defeat Democratic attorney and repeat challenger Jim Reed.

District 2 | Solid DEM

While clearly an advantageous district for the Democrats, given its location on California’s deeply liberal Redwood Coast from Eureka to suburban San Francisco’s Marin County, at 49.9 percent Democrats don’t even have an absolute majority, with Republicans and DTS (short for “decline to state”, or independent) voters at near parity. To that end, many expected a Democrat-on-Democrat showdown courtesy of California’s new nonpartisan jungle primary where the top two vote-getters go on to the November general election. After the votes were counted in June, relatively center-left State Assemblyman Jared Huffman took advantage of a crowded liberal Democratic field to emerge as the lead vote-getter, but the second spot did not go to liberal journalist and media reform activist Norman Solomon despite a strong push from former talk show host and Solomon ally Phil Donahue. Instead, the spot went to Republican investment advisor and disabled Vietnam War Veteran Dan Roberts, whose campaign faces an uphill climb in a district that will clearly be in the bag for Huffman.

District 3 | Favor DEM

On paper, the district comes across as giving Democrats (and in this case, incumbent John Garamendi) an advantage, but the liberal leanings of much of Yolo (Davis, Woodland) and Solano (Fairfield, Vacaville) counties are counterbalanced by a large Republican presence in and around Yuba City which is essentially a second city to the Sacramento television market. That provides an opening for Republican Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann who has forced Garamendi into his biggest political fight yet. While Garamendi’s polling numbers are favorable given the Democratic tilt of the district, Vann has been an adept fundraiser with over $1.12 million raised compared to Garamendi’s nearly $1.8 million, and some even argue that Garamendi’s record – which some view as being more liberal than even that of former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s – counts against him. But given that Republican resources are being delegated elsewhere, Garamendi should only face marginal trouble in a district that voted favorably for Jerry Brown, lightly went for Carly Fiorina, and slightly backed Prop 8.

District 4 | Solid GOP

Republicans have the advantage in this district that connects Sacramento’s affluent northern suburbs and eastern exurbs to the Lake Tahoe area and a row of rural communities wedged between an area well east of the Fresno and Stockton metropolises and a swath of desert along the Nevada border. Here, conservative Republican Tom McClintock is expected to win a third term over Democratic retired semiconductor industry executive Jack Uppal.

District 5 | Solid DEM

Judging by the Democratic registration numbers, this district may be seen as more liberal than even the nearby 2nd, as Democrats actually have a registered absolute majority in this Wine Country district that includes Santa Rosa, Vallejo and the lion’s share of the Napa Valley, where veteran Blue Dog Democrat Mike Thompson is heavily favored over Republican Vietnam War veteran and financial advisor Randy Loftin.

District 6 | Solid DEM

Yet another Democratic lock, this time situated in the state capitol of Sacramento. Here, incumbent Doris Matsui is widely favored to defeat landscaping contractor and retired Army officer Joseph McCray.

District 7 | Tossup

Even though this is not the same territory he represented in the 1980s, Republican incumbent Dan Lungren may quite possibly be the last remaining Republican Congressman from the state that introduced the world to Ronald Reagan during the Gipper’s time in the White House. But first, Lungren has to get past a stiff challenge from repeat Democratic challenger Ami Bera, a physician who has more than double the individual donations of the incumbent and total receipts exceeding $3 million, and who nearly came close to knocking off the incumbent in an otherwise strong year for the GOP in 2010.

At this point, polling indicates a virtual tie (and yes, those were the actual results) between the two candidates, but three major caveats do exist. The first caveat is that the polling came from outlets traditionally associated with the Democratic Party, which could mean the results may have been skewed in their favor. The second caveat is that the suburban Sacramento district (exclusively within Sacramento County itself), while narrowly backing Jerry Brown, also voted for Carly Fiorina by a slightly larger margin. And the third caveat is that Lungren won an absolute majority of votes in the June primary, taking 52.9 percent to Bera’s 40.7 percent. Overall, this could only mean that the district is a jump ball for all intentional purposes, and whoever wins likely will face a competitive reelection in 2014.

District 8 | Solid GOP

Longtime Republican Jerry Lewis, a one-time House Appropriations Chairman noted for his alleged corrupt practices, is stepping down after a long career in Washington that predates even Ronald Reagan’s presidency. It was a given that Republicans were going to win this seat in November given its strong conservative leanings from the deserted (and in some places, forested) counties along the Nevada border of Inyo and Mono along with most of San Bernardino’s expansive footprint, but given the crowded Republican primary most did not expect an intraparty showdown.

That scenario has now transpired, with State Assemblyman Paul Cook facing off against custom homebuilder and Minuteman Project leader Gregg Imus. Scant polling evidence exists in this race, but the race is clearly Cook’s to lose given his wide fundraising lead, as well as his strong support from the Chamber of Commerce and most of the region’s political leaders, though Imus’ conservative bona fides could serve as harbinger for an upset. One other factor of unpredictability: both Cook and Imus each received only 15 percent of the vote in June.

District 9 | Tossup

From day one, incumbent Democrat Jerry McNerney has always had a target on his back, only to prevail at the end of the campaign on top. Now running for his fourth term in a district whose base has shifted from the historically Republican-oriented (if still slightly Democratic on paper) East Bay suburbs of McNerney’s to the politically competitive San Joaquin Valley area (including favorably Democratic Stockton), his carpetbagging move may backfire against Republican former State Board of Education member Ricky Gill, a native son of the San Joaquin Valley and Berkeley law school student who has outraised the incumbent in total and individual fundraising, with McNerney’s $2.17 million having a hard time catching up to Gill’s $2.62 million. However, McNerney still leads the polling games with Republican internals indicating a virtual wash and Democratic ones showing McNerney favorably ahead. However, given Gill’s financial advantage and McNerney’s past competitive battles, there is a good chance a potential upset is in the works; expect Gill to be branded the GOP’s boy wonder if that upset does happen.

District 10 | Leans GOP

It may seem that freshman Republican Jeff Denham has been cursed from the start in this Modesto-centric district that only narrowly backed Barack Obama in 2008 and is largely Anglo in complexion with a large Hispanic population. First, Denham’s refusal (as a then-State Senator) to vote for an unbalanced budget forced upon by Democrats led to a Democrat-backed recall election that ultimately flopped by a 3-to-1 margin. And after taking office in Washington last year, Denham faced criticism for hosting a $2,500 per person private gala with lobbyists and donors who were treated to a concert by country musician Leann Rimes – completely retrograde to the notion of fiscal revolution in the Tea Party-fueled 2010 Republican wave. Now, Denham is facing a competitive battle against engineer and retired NASA astronaut Jose Hernandez, who entered this race at the beck and call of President Obama despite his family being situated in Houston (and more specifically, in the vicinity of Mission Control) at the time, even though Hernandez does have local roots in the vicinity of the district.

As for the race itself, Hernandez has reached near parity with his Republican counterpart on individual donations, while also amassing a sizable amount of PAC contributions stemming from his backing by the D-Trip. And polling also appears to be virtually split, with Denham leading slightly in two and Hernandez ahead in another – all Dem internals, which could put Hernandez at a disadvantage since partisan internals are skewed to be more amenable to one side over the other. Still, despite Hernandez’s signs of life, this is still Denham’s race to lose given its electoral results. Regardless, this district will likely become proof that a minority impact swing district is indeed a workable solution to resolving race and community relations in the United States, since these districts not only give Democrats unlimited opportunities to elect “candidates of choice”, but also give Republicans unlimited opportunities to further promote the interests of a colorblind America.

District 11 | Solid DEM

This district is somewhat of a throwback for longtime Democratic incumbent George Miller, as while this will be the first time that he will not represent the 7th, now a swing district based in suburban Sacramento, it will not be the first time he represents a district exclusively within Contra Costa County. This all-Contra Costa district will unite more moderate-to-conservative suburbs, including Orinda, Walnut Creek and Danville, with more Democratic cities by the likes of Concord and Pittsburg and the erstwhile liberal bailiwick of Richmond. The latter, more strongly Democratic bloc alone is more than enough to guarantee Miller two more years in Washington over Republican nursing professional Virginia Fuller.

District 12 | Solid DEM

It may be a rematch in the home district of the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants, but House Minority Leader (and former Speaker) Nancy Pelosi is more focused on her now uphill climb to gain back the Speaker’s gavel than she is on repeat Republican challenger John Dennis in this district that covers all but the southwest corner of San Francisco. It’s such a shame – Dennis has raised over $450K of individual funds and nothing else, something you don’t get out of almost every other candidate, and he would have been a more appropriate ally for this author.

District 13 | Solid DEM

While Barbara Lee has an even more Democratic district than her contemporary across the Bay Bridge, as it covers deeply Democratic Oakland and obscenely liberal Berkeley, Lee’s opponent on the ballot will be attorney and physician Marilyn Singleton, who is running as an independent even though her issue stances have some Republican overtures to them.

District 14 | Solid DEM

Once upon a time, San Mateo County was a bellwether county of sorts on the national stage, having voted for Ronald Reagan in 1984 and narrowly going for Michael Dukakis in 1988. Now, the county is a lock for Barack Obama and other Democrats downballot including incumbent Jackie Speier, who is heavily favored to win another term over Republican biotech consultant Debbie Bacigalupi.

District 15 | Solid DEM

Even though this largely suburban Alameda County district (Hayward, Pleasanton, Livermore), with Contra Costa’s San Ramon mixed in, only has a plural majority of Democrats on the rolls and barely opposed Prop 8, no Republican came forth to challenge veteran liberal Democrat Pete Stark in the primary. With that in mind, Stark now faces a general election battle with the more Clintonesque Dublin City Councilman Eric Swalwell, an Alameda County prosecutor and youth soccer coach who has won the support of many of the district’s better-known Democratic figures including former Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher and others, and who appears to be closer to John Boehner than Howard Dean on some fronts – even though Swalwell is still a Democrat for all intentional purposes. While polling is certainly hard to come by here, Swalwell is at near parity with Stark in the fundraising department, with Swalwell’s load predominantly individual donors and Stark’s largely PAC funds. As for the winner of this race, it will come down to a choice between liberal orthodoxy (Stark) and suburban pragmatism (Swalwell).

District 16 | Favor DEM

While this is a more favorably Democratic district than most other districts of its kind in California, Republicans believed for a moment that Democratic incumbent Jim Costa would be vulnerable in this district that combines heavily Hispanic sections of Fresno with the Merced and Madera areas further north, unless fellow Democratic incumbent Dennis Cardoza decided to challenge Costa in the primary and rendered GOP prospects completely worthless. Fortunately, Cardoza not only decided to retire from Congress, he also decided to resign last August on the alibi of family concerns. Unfortunately, despite robust fundraising numbers and the advantage of being bilingual and rooted in a farming family, Republican attorney Brian Whelan‘s campaign may have peaked too late to put the incumbent in serious political jeopardy.

District 17 | Solid DEM

Republicans and DTS voters combine to make a majority in this allegedly solidly Democratic, plurality Asian district that strongly favored Democratic candidates in 2008 and 2010 while barely opposing Prop 8 at the same time. Given this perspective in north San Jose and surrounding areas including Santa Clara, Milpitas, Sunnyvale and Newark, Democrat Mike Honda appears to be a lock for reelection over Republican physician Evelyn Li.

District 18 | Solid DEM

As is the case with the nearby 17th, this suburban Silicon Valley district is also a plurality GOP+DTS coalition one, covering Stanford University and Palo Alto along with such communities as Saratoga, Los Gatos and Mountain View in Santa Clara, Atherton and Woodside in San Mateo, and Scotts Valley and Ben Lomond in Santa Cruz. Still, longtime Democratic incumbent Anna Eshoo, who picked up this Republican-held seat all the way back in 1992, is favored to win an eleventh term over repeat Republican challenger Dave Chapman, a software engineer by trade.

District 19 | Solid DEM

Longtime Democrat Zoe Lofgren is widely favored to defeat Republican businessman and attorney Robert Murray in this plurality Democratic (registration-wise), Hispanic-Asian coalition district in much of south San Jose and Santa Clara County that narrowly opposed Prop 8 while strongly backing Democrats at all levels.

District 20 | Solid DEM

Incumbent Democrat Sam Farr, who has represented his Monterey Bay area district since 1993, is heavily favored to win another term over frequent Republican challenger Jeff Taylor.

District 21 | Favor GOP

Even though California will not be gaining a new congressional district, this is what counts for a “new” district this year, as it is centered in the southern fringes of the Fresno area as well as more heavily Hispanic sections of Bakersfield and the Hanford/Kings County base of Republican State Assemblyman David Valadao, who is considered one of his party’s rising stars in this election with a robust fundraising base and a likely victory in this de facto “new district” over Democratic Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President John Hernandez, whose campaign has struggled to raise funds thus far in spite of Barack Obama’s strong showing amongst Hispanics in nationwide polling and promising internals for Hernandez himself.

District 22 | Solid GOP

The recipient of an actual “new” district in the last redistricting merry-go-round, Republican Devin Nunes is widely expected to win a sixth term in this Visalia and south Fresno district over Democratic attorney and Iraq War Veteran Otto Lee, whose electoral service has been practiced as the Mayor of Sunnyvale, well outside of the district’s orbit.

District 23 | Solid GOP

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy is widely expected to win a fourth term in this solidly Republican, Bakersfield-centric district over independent candidate Terry Phillips, a one-time public radio broadcaster and entrepreneur by trade.

District 24 | Tossup

For the last decade, incumbent Democrat Lois Capps has gotten by due to her district being a narrow, strippy stretch of Pacific Ocean shoreline that voted strongly Democratic at the presidential level. And even with such a district, she still faced an insurgent dark horse challenge in 2010 against a Republican challenger that failed to gain enough name recognition to overtake the incumbent. This year, Capps’ political course has been tossed asunder thanks to the independent redistricting commission, as the district returns to its original form as a suburban/second city battleground with Republicans recruiting a top-tier candidate in former Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado.

So far, polling has slightly favored Capps with the D-Trip showing Capps ahead by 11 and the NRCC indicating a tilt towards Maldonado, but years of easy reelections has enabled Capps to build a financial and incumbent advantage at the same time; Capps has raised nearly $3 million to Maldonado’s nearly $2.4 million. But with the district’s advantage for Barack Obama (given statewide polling trends) expected to be slightly smaller this time around, if not even tilting towards Mitt Romney, how well the President does in this fiscally conservative, socially moderate district that tilted to Jerry Brown and Carly Fiorina two years prior may determine the winner of this seat.

District 25 | Solid GOP

While Barack Obama eked out a win here in this north suburban Los Angeles (Simi Valley, Santa Clarita, Palmdale) district in 2008, this is a district that otherwise has a distinct preference for Republicans and is widely favored to reelect veteran Republican and House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon over Democratic podiatrist Lee Rogers, whose modest fundraising is not enough to overcome McKeon’s own financial – and political – advantage.

District 26 | Tossup

Yet another high-stakes congressional race in California, this time situated almost entirely in most of Ventura County (Thousand Oaks, Oxnard, Ventura) and the Los Angeles County community of Westlake Village. Here, longtime Republican Elton Gallegly is finally making good on a long-delayed decision to retire from Congress, and his retirement has set the stage for a bruising battle in this classic suburban swing district. Here, the Republicans have coalesced around conservative State Senator Tony Strickland, whose war chest of over $2.17 million and strong support from associated PACs has led to his candidacy being promoted as a test of conservative principles in an allegedly moderate swing district (the Scott Garrett Treatment, so to speak). Democrats, meanwhile, are attempting a takeover bid with State Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, who relocated from Santa Monica to run in this district and whose late entry emerged out of fears that Democrats would not have a solid candidate, let alone one of their own on the ballot, in November.

That fear was the result of the independent candidacy of moderate Republican and Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks, who received the endorsement of the Los Angeles Times and would have siphoned Democratic votes away from Brownley, whose party invested heavily in negative attack ads against Parks in hopes of gaining a spot on the November ballot. Thus far, Brownley has raised $1.83 million in her takeover bid, and is attacking Strickland for his conservative bona fides while also touting a poll showing the Democrat ahead by four points. However, that poll is a Democratic internal from last July, three months before Barack Obama imploded in a national debate against Mitt Romney. Now with Romney having gained ground since that debate, there is a chance that even with an Obama victory here, enough ticket splitters will emerge to give Strickland the benefit of the doubt, just as they did in favoring Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina in 2010.

District 27 | Solid DEM

Yet another GOP+DTS coalition district where the Democrat is still favored to win, in this case, a plurality Asian district connecting several Southland suburbs at the western end of the San Gabriel Valley including Monterey Park, Arcadia and Pasadena, plus a few outliers in Glendora and Claremont. Here, incumbent Democrat Judy Chu is a strong favorite to win reelection over Republican former FBI Special Agent Jack Orswell, who has raised a decent amount of fundraising (around $160K) but faces very long odds in a district where Chu won over 58 percent in the June primary.

District 28 | Solid DEM

Incumbent Democrat Adam Schiff is heavily favored to defeat Republican challenger Phil Jennerjahn in this strongly Democratic district that connects Glendale and Burbank to the bright lights of Hollywood.

District 29 | Solid DEM

Given changing demographics, it was a given that a strongly Democratic, heavily Hispanic district was eventually going to be created out of the eastern San Fernando Valley from North Hollywood to Sylmar and everything in between from north to south. That dream has become reality as Democratic Los Angeles City Councilman Tony Cardenas is heavily favored to win this newly created seat over independent candidate and Vietnam War Veteran David Hernandez.

District 30 | Solid DEM

In order to create the aforementioned heavily Hispanic district to the east, the independent redistricting commission decided to throw the western remainders of the San Fernando Valley, including Canoga Park, Chatsworth, Northridge, Sherman Oaks, Tarzana and many other areas of the region, into this district filled with many Jewish and white liberal voters – a category that includes incumbent Democrats Howard Berman and Brad Sherman. With no Republican on the ballot, the race has emerged into a battle between the liberal and moderate wings of the Democratic Party, with issues from education and healthcare to Israel and intellectual property paramount concerns.

In the fundraising department, Berman is well ahead of Sherman with a whopping $4.44 million in receipts compared to over $3 million for the latter, and is also touting endorsements from the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles  Daily News and even from none other than John McCain himself. Sherman, meanwhile, has touted the endorsement of Bill Clinton and various trade unions and LGBT Democratic groups, and is showcasing an 11-point lead for the general election over Berman in a district that clearly favors Sherman geographically, though it is fair to say that Sherman’s moderate tack is more appealing to Republicans left without a candidate in this district. The race has even gotten physical as Sherman at one point even physically tugged Berman into a near-headlock during a debate, which is of no surprise given that both men are grumpy rivals to one another, and there is no doubt a lot of animosity between the two will remain long after the ballots are counted. As far as Republican prospects in 2014 are concerned, that’s a long way down the road.

District 31 | Solid GOP

While not as nasty as the bruising battle in the 30th, what was once seen as a top Democratic pickup opportunity in this San Bernardino and Rancho Cucamonga-centric district quickly evaporated last June after Democrats saw incumbent Joe Baca depart for another district and then could not coalesce around their choice candidate, Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar, in the primary. Instead, the battle will now be an intraparty showdown between two Republicans: incumbent Congressman Gary Miller and State Senator Bob Dutton. The race is clearly Miller’s to lose, given his strong fundraising lead, party endorsement and years of service in Washington, but Dutton’s established roots in the district that Miller moved into to run for reelection, as well as concerns regarding past corruption allegations surrounding Miller, may play to the challenger’s advantage along with a Dutton internal showing Dutton ahead by five points.

District 32 | Solid DEM

It is the end of an era in the San Gabriel Valley, as longtime Republican incumbent David Dreier, whose service in Congress dates back to Ronald Reagan’s presidential triumph in 1980, will be retiring from Congress. That retirement comes largely due to redistricting, which has morphed Dreier’s district into a heavily Hispanic, albeit socially conservative district that voted for Barack Obama and Prop 8 by similar margins. Democratic incumbent Grace Napolitano will be running for reelection here in a district that includes such communities as Azusa, West Covina, El Monte and San Dimas, and will be favored to win in November over Republican real estate entrepreneur David Miller.

District 33 | Favor DEM

The redistricting also sent longtime Democratic incumbent and one-time House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman packing – from the 28th of Adam Schiff to this west side district that covers the marginally competitive South Bay region including Torrance and Redondo Beach, along with much of the western edge of Los Angeles County from Beverly Hills and Santa Monica to Calabasas and Malibu. Given that GOP and DTS voters make up an absolute majority of the district, and despite favoring Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer in 2010, Republican-turned-independent entrepreneur Bill Bloomfield is looking to give Waxman an unlikely exit from Washington after the incumbent failed to crack 50 percent in the June primary. Waxman supporters hope that Bloomfield’s Republican past and pedigree will come back to haunt him, but Bloomfield hopes his $6 million contribution to the race is enough to give new meaning to the Six Million Dollar Man – in this case, one of people before party. Still, polling evidence is almost impossible to come by, and there is really no way to tell if Bloomfield can truly pull off a remarkable feat.

District 34 | Solid DEM

There are no worries for veteran Democratic incumbent Xavier Becerra, whose heavily Democratic and Hispanic downtown and northeast Los Angeles district will strongly back the incumbent for another term over Republican investor Stephen Smith.

District 35 | Solid DEM

Blue Dog Democrat Joe Baca has long been regarded as safe in his past reelection bids, but this year his heavily Hispanic, Ontario-based district that extends westward to Pomona and eastward to Fontana is playing host to a different kind of battle, against fellow Democrat and State Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod. Negrete McLeod’s campaign is fueled on the basis that Baca’s more moderate-to-conservative bona fides are ill-suited for the district’s political orientation, and the challenger does the advantage of being the local candidate in the race as Baca moved from the nearby 31st to run in this seat. While little polling evidence exists to chart the direction of this battle, the fact that Baca only beat Negrete McLeod by eight points in June does create a sense of worry for the Baca camp, but certainly not for the Democrats who win out regardless of what happens in this heavily Democratic district.

District 36 | Tossup

Many observers thought that incumbent moderate Republican Mary Bono Mack was a safe bet for reelection as the independent redistricting largely preserved Bono Mack’s swing district in the Palm Springs area. But while the district has a distinct Republican lean, the two parties are still at near parity in registration and Democrats believe that creates an opening for ER physician Raul Ruiz, whose fundraising haul of $1.53 million has been competitive with Bono Mack’s $1.94 million, and whose internal polling has increasingly broken in Ruiz’s favor. Still, all of the polls put forth thus far have indeed been internals for Ruiz’s campaign, and some may be wondering whether or not protecting Bono Mack, the widow of former Congressman and entertainer Sonny Bono-turned-wife of Florida Congressman and Senate candidate Connie Mack, really was worth all the effort in the end.

District 37 | Solid DEM

The only competition for freshman Democrat Karen Bass in this overwhelmingly Democratic, African American-oriented southwest Los Angeles district will come in the form of little-known Republican Morgan Osborne.

District 38 | Solid DEM

While this heavily Hispanic southeast Los Angeles County (Whittier, Montebello, Lakewood, Norwalk) district is not terribly Democratic, it is still favorable enough to reelect incumbent Democrat Linda Sanchez over cash-strapped GOP Army veteran and CPA Benjamin Campos.

District 39 | Solid GOP

Running in a district that narrowly backed John McCain in 2008, Republican Ed Royce was expected to coast to an eleventh term in Washington, while Democrats had other plans in store with the candidacy of commercial property investor, Naval Reservist and Hacienda-La Puente School Board Member Jay Chen. But despite having raised a sizable $773K in a district centered at the apex of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Orange counties, and including such communities as Fullerton, Yorba Linda, Chino Hills and Diamond Bar, Chen’s campaign has been hobbled by the fact that a large amount of campaign donations came from a mystery donor that turned out to be his brother. Now the D-Trip isn’t even calling bets on this one.

District 40 | Solid DEM

This may be arguably the most heavily Hispanic district in the country, with 73 percent of registered voters being Hispanic. And even though Democratic incumbent Lucille Roybal-Allard’s opponent, college instructor David Sanchez, is also a Democrat as well, a Republican would not even have come close in this overwhelmingly Democratic district that covers strongly Hispanic close-in suburbs southeast of Los Angeles including East Los Angeles and Downey.

District 41 | Tossup

While the district has a favorable Democratic lean in presidential, statewide and registration numbers, along with a significant Hispanic population, Republicans believe that this Riverside- and Moreno Valley-centric district is competitive enough to elect one of their own in Riverside County Supervisor John Tavaglione, who finished first in a June primary that saw Republicans collectively win more votes than the Democrats and their top candidate, Riverside Community College Board Trustee Mark Takano, who himself made three unsuccessful attempts in the past to win this seat. But with one internal poll showing Takano slightly ahead, and given the district’s makeup, Takano appears to be in the catbird’s seat to finally make the fourth time a charm. Still, Tavaglione is not to be underestimated given his slight overall fundraising lead over Takano as well as the district’s strong support for Prop 8, an indication of the district’s socially conservative character.

District 42 | Solid GOP

Republican incumbent Ken Calvert, who nearly lost his seat in 2008 against a little-known Democratic challenger, now stands a strong chance of being reelected over Democratic attorney Michael Williamson in this western Riverside County district that covers such communities as Lake Elsinore, Murrieta, Corona and Menifee.

District 43 | Solid DEM

Despite recent corruption allegations surrounding Maxine Waters, the longtime south Los Angeles Democrat is solidly favored to win this heavily Democratic African American and Hispanic coalition district over fellow Democrat Bob Flores. Still, the possibility of a 2014 primary challenge in this district that also covers Inglewood, Hawthorne, Gardena and much of Torrance remains strong.

District 44 | Solid DEM

It appears to be all but over for Democratic incumbent Laura Richardson in this heavily Democratic, increasingly Hispanic district that stretches from the Port of Los Angeles to such diverse communities as Carson, Compton and South Gate. Not only is Richardson at a deep disadvantage compared to fellow Democrat Janice Hahn in total fundraising, but Richardson has only raised $7,000 in the last three months and was recently reprimanded by her House colleagues for using her congressional staff to run errands, while still being saddled with over $150K in legal fees and losing her house in foreclosure earlier this year. And with Hahn boasting of sizable polling leads, it appears the writing is on the wall despite the territory largely belonging to Richardson, who pulled in 40 percent of the vote last June despite Hahn being the more likable of the two. We’ll see where this goes, but my bets are on Hahn.

District 45 | Solid GOP

Some Democrats believe a competitive race may be in store for Republican incumbent John Campbell, whose district narrowly backed Barack Obama in 2008. Since redistricting however, which morphed Campbell’s Irvine-centric seat into a slightly more Republican-friendly one that also covers Orange and Mission Viejo, the prospects for Democratic Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang have gotten a bit steeper. Despite Kang’s competitive fundraising numbers, Campbell still remains heavily favored to win this district.

District 46 | Solid DEM

In 2010, some thought Democratic incumbent Loretta Sanchez’s reelection bid would be her last. But Sanchez ultimately prevailed and two years later, her Santa Ana- and Anaheim- based district is strongly favored to reelect the incumbent over Republican stockbroker Jerry Hayden.

District 47 | Leans DEM

While favorably Democratic on paper, this Long Beach-centric district that also extends into a western section of Orange County around Garden Grove is no Democratic lock. In fact, Republicans have a legitimate contender for the seat in Long Beach City Councilman Gary DeLong, who has outraised Democratic State Senator Alan Lowenthal in a hotly contested battle for the diverse, minority-majority district. But while DeLong is a slight winner in total fundraising at $1.33 million to Lowenthal’s $978K, Lowenthal is winning the polling wars with internal polls showing the Democrat ahead by as much as 20 points. Advantage Lowenthal.

District 48 | Solid GOP

Now covering almost all of Orange County’s beachfront communities from Huntington Beach and Laguna Niguel to Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, veteran Republican Dana Rohrabacher is widely favored to win this affluent, Republican-flavored district over Democratic small business owner Ron Varasteh.

District 49 | Solid GOP

Even though Barack Obama narrowly won this affluent, fiscally conservative and socially moderate suburban district that cuts across Camp Pendleton from Dana Point to such northern San Diego County communities as Carlsbad, Oceanside and Encinitas, don’t expect House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa to lose his job anytime soon. This is an otherwise strongly Republican district where Issa is expected to steamroll Democratic realtor and peace activist Jerry Tetalman.

District 50 | Solid GOP

Republican incumbent Duncan Hunter is widely expected to win another term in this heavily Republican northeast (Escondido, San Marcos) and east (Jamul, Lakeside) suburban San Diego district over Democratic challenger David Secor.

District 51 | Solid DEM

With longtime Democrat Bob Filner now running in a competitive battle for Mayor of San Diego, Hispanics will finally get the chance to elect one of their own in this heavily Hispanic district that covers all of El Centro’s Imperial County as well as the southern edge of San Diego County. And that chance will come easy as Democratic State Senator Juan Vargas is strongly favored to defeat repeat Republican challenger Michael Crimmins in this heavily Democratic district.

District 52 | Tossup

It was a given that Republican incumbent Brian Bilbray was due to face a tough reelection in 2012. And after the ink dried on the state’s redistricting plan, Bilbray moved to this wealthy north and coastal San Diego swing district that also contains the suburbs of Poway and Coronado. The district’s competitive profile, where Republicans hold nearly 36 percent of the voter rolls compared to nearly 33 percent for Democrats and 26.5 percent for the DTS crowd, along with its record of voting slightly for Barack Obama and narrowly against Prop 8 in 2008, followed by slight margins for Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina in 2010, makes this a top priority for both the D-Trip and the NRCC. The Democratic opposition comes in the form of San Diego Unified Port District Chairman Scott Peters, a La Jolla resident who ran as the moderate Democratic choice in a close battle with a more liberal candidate that Peters edged out in the June primary by a mere 0.6 percent.

On fundraising, both Bilbray and Peters are neck-and-neck in individual donors, but the fundraising momentum appears to be on Peters’ side given that the Clintonesque Peters entered shortly after the redistricting plan was set in stone, along with the fact that $2.6 million of Peters’ nearly $4 million haul (versus Bilbray’s total $2.39 million) comes from none other than Peters himself, an environmental lawyer by trade. On polling matters, Peters’ own internal shows a slight advantage for the Democrat, while another poll commissioned for the region’s leading newspaper, U-T San Diego, indicates a nine-point Bilbray lead. The aforementioned newspaper itself has endorsed the Republican on matters relating to the national debt as well as strong support from the region’s biotech industry, while alluding to Peters playing a hand in a pension crisis that affected the city. But in all fairness, given the extremely competitive state of this particular race, don’t be surprised if the outcome of this race is not final in the November 7th edition of said paper.

District 53 | Solid DEM

Despite raising nearly $100K in this favorably Democratic district, Republican Iraq War Veteran Nick Popaditch still faces an uphill climb in his second straight race for Congress, this time against six-term incumbent Democrat Susan Davis in a district that covers much of the vicinity of San Diego along Interstate 8 as well as such inner eastern and southeastern suburbs as Chula Vista, El Cajon and Lemon Grove.

President | Barack Obama

In 2008, John McCain became the latest in a long line of Republican presidential candidates to skip the Golden State on the premise that California is “in the tank” for the Democrats. But to assume that California will easily go blue only verifies that the Donkey Brigade does not realize just how good they’ve had it. True, the Hispanic vote is significant and more likely to favor Barack Obama. True, the San Francisco Bay Area is liberal and Democratic. True, the influence of public unions and Hollywood is too much to bear for the Republicans. But Republicans do have their strongholds: Orange and San Diego counties, the Inland Empire, and much of the Central Valley for instance.

And while Barack Obama is widely expected to win California’s gargantuan 55 electoral votes, it will be a surprise if the results are anything like they were in 2008 when the President won by a 24-point margin, as most polls have hovered around the 15 percent threshold. Just adding 4.5 to the Republicans and detracting 4.5 from the Democrats would hand a few pro-Obama districts to Mitt Romney without even counting the ballots, but it is fair to say that the Central Valley swung to the GOP in 2010 and suburban voters up and down the coast do vote more Republican than the presidential numbers would assume. One thing is clear: after 2012, the Republicans have nowhere to go but up in California.

Tentative Final Score

President: Obama 201, Romney 177, Tossup 129.

Senate: 45 Republicans, 42 Democrats (including Barbara Boxer), 2 Independents caucusing with the Democrats, 11 Tossups.

House: Elephant Stampede 228, Donkey Brigade 177, Splitsville 30.

Governors: 4 Democrats, 4 Republicans, and 3 Tossups, plus 26 existing Republicans, 12 existing Democrats (including Jerry Brown) and 1 existing Independent.

Next stop: The Consensus.

The 2012 Bullet Train to November – Part XLIX: Delaware

November 1, 2012

It is hard to imagine Ohio being considered anything other than a swing state in a presidential election. But the same also used to be true regarding Delaware, the first state in the Union that at one time often went with the whims of the nation. But thanks to a state Republican Party in disarray, and a political karma that now seems strangely out of balance, but most importantly because of the presence of one particular favorite son, the Elephant Stampede is clearly an afterthought in this state in 2012.

Governor | Solid DEM

Considered a rising star in the Democratic Party, incumbent Jack Markell is heavily favored to defeat Republican businessman Jeff Cragg.

Senate | Solid DEM

Longtime Democratic incumbent Tom Carper is widely expected to win a third term over Republican businessman Kevin Wade.

House | Solid DEM

Freshman Democratic incumbent John Carney, whose statewide jurisdiction was one of the few Democratic pickups in an otherwise GOP-dominated year, is slated to win another term despite his Republican opponent being New Castle County Council President Tom Kovach, who has still managed to raise nearly $200K in funds despite the odds.

President | Solid DEM

This is Biden Country, as Barack Obama and his running mate, former Delaware Senator-turned-Vice President Joe Biden, is widely expected to win the state’s three electoral votes. But whether or not Delaware follows the rest of the nation remains to be seen…

Current Score

President: Romney 177, Obama 146, Tossup 129. (55 to go)

Senate: 45 Republicans, 40 Democrats (including Chris Coons), 2 Independents caucusing with the Democrats, 11 Tossups. (2 to go)

House: Elephant Stampede 213, Donkey Brigade 146, Splitsville 23. (53 to go)

Governors: 4 Democrats, 4 Republicans, and 3 Tossups, plus 26 existing Republicans, 11 existing Democrats and 1 existing Independent. (1 to go)

Next stop: California.

The 2012 Bullet Train to November – Part XLVIII: Ohio

October 31, 2012

Between the deeply Democratic, Sandy-battered shores of Maryland and the robust Republican, oil-slickened swamps of Louisiana, there are a handful of states that go the way of the nation every four years. But no state defines the heart of any political campaign more than the Heart Of It All itself. Granted, Ohio has lost significant electoral clout over the years, going from 21 congressional districts the year yours truly was born, to 19 in my grade school years, and then 18 in my high school and college days. Now, Ohio will have only 16 congressional districts, as the state’s electoral votes will stand out as the most important bellwether in this election, an increasingly close Senate race comes to a photo-finish end, and a number of House battles register in the minds of the over 11.5 million residents who are proud to call the Buckeye State home.

Senate | Tossup

When the Bullet Train departed last August, freshman Democrat Sherrod Brown was likely on his way to winning a second term after deposing of a two-term Republican incumbent six years prior; that Republican, Mike DeWine, would go on to become Ohio’s present-day Attorney General after deposing of previous Democratic incumbent Richard Cordray, who later went on to become Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after a controversial recess appointment. Already, Cordray’s future is up in the air, but the same has increasingly been said about Brown, now facing what has become an increasingly bitter Senate battle against Republican State Treasurer Josh Mandel.

The battle has both candidates exceeding the $10 million mark: Brown has amassed $18.5 million thus far, almost all of it individual donors, and the same has also been said about Mandel’s nearly $14.5 million. The race is also a battle of two regional candidates from the Cleveland television market, as it pits the Lorain County-based Brown against Mandel, who hails from the more traditionally upper-middle-class suburbs of eastern Cuyahoga County. Thus far, polling has leaned into Brown’s court, but Mandel has a strong chance of pulling off one of the biggest upsets in this election cycle given the situation as it stands.

District 1 | Solid GOP

Steve Chabot has been a veteran of political experiences involving revolution, winning in the 1994 Republican Revolution, losing in the 2008 Obamawave, and regaining his seat in the 2010 Tea Party wave. But the act got old for the Elephant Stampede as a GOP-led redistricting process sent one of Cincinnati’s three solidly Republican Ohio collar counties, in this case Warren County, Chabot’s way, along with the affluent village of Indian Hill and a few other white-collar suburban areas along the northern Hamilton County border, while maintaining Cincinnati’s western neighborhoods and Chabot’s political base in the solidly conservative western Hamilton County suburbs. The result is a safe seat for the longtime, if not uninterrupted, Republican incumbent Chabot over Democratic challenger Jeff Sinnard.

District 2 | Solid GOP

Once upon a time, Democrats were lustful of the possibility of winning the historically Republican, white-collar east Cincinnati district that also covered much of the city’s affluent eastern suburbs. This was the case while completely ignoring two factors: that the Democratic trend was the result of the district’s historical base, once represented by present-day GOP Senator Rob Portman, being wedded to traditionally Democratic territory, and that Portman’s GOP successor Jean Schmidt was not an especially appealing incumbent. Now those worries have disappeared, as conservative physician, one-time Army Reserve combat surgeon and one-time Cincinnati mayoral candidate Brad Wenstrup deposed of Schmidt on the heels of a strong showing in the district’s suburban Cincinnati base in the GOP primary, and Wenstrup is now widely expected to win his first term next week over Democratic retired postal worker William Smith.

District 3 | Solid DEM

Some Republicans complained that the Ohio General Assembly did not do enough to maximize opportunities for their party. However, the lifeboat theory came into play here as this newly-created district centered in almost all of the ever-increasingly Democratic state capitol of Columbus was necessary to shore up vulnerable Republicans in the region. The winner of the high-profile Democratic primary, former State House Minority Leader Joyce Beatty, is strongly favored to become the new district’s first incumbent over Republican Reynoldsburg City Councilman Chris Long, whose city contains some of the few Republican voting blocs in this otherwise Democrat-heavy district.

District 4 | Solid GOP

Still a Republican-oriented district in Northwest Ohio, but now juxtaposed around the communities of Lima, Bucyrus, Tiffin, Norwalk and Elyria, conservative Republican incumbent Jim Jordan is widely expected to defeat Democrat Jim Slone.

District 5 | Solid GOP

Some Democrats believe that this district centered on the state’s northwest corner, including most of the Toledo suburbs as well as Findlay and Bowling Green, stands out as a dark horse district. Indeed, Democratic Lucas County School Board Member Angela Zimmann believes she has a chance against Republican incumbent Bob Latta in this historically Republican, rural-flavored district and has raised an impressive $418K thus far. But despite a rural character and the presence of auto industry workers that would have provided any garden variety Democrat fertile territory for campaigning, the D-Trip is not paying attention to this race and Latta is still the favorite.

District 6 | Tossup

This strippy, historically Democratic district still sits along the state’s rural southeastern edge, largely hugging the state’s border with West Virginia, still contains such small cities and towns as Marietta and Steubenville, and is still your typical Appalachian district – favorably Republican on presidential terms, but very sympathetic to blue-collar Democratic candidates. For freshman Republican Bill Johnson, the path to sophomore status became muddled after the Democratic incumbent he beat in 2010, Charlie Wilson, decided to run to get his old job back.

Need further explanation? In the previous election, Wilson had the edge on fundraising terms as an incumbent, and naturally in this cycle that same advantage now belongs to Johnson. But while polling has leaned towards Johnson as a whole, Wilson’s own internals have given the Democrat the benefit of the doubt. And given what happened to the last Republican to hold this seat in Frank Cremeans, who won it in a similar 1994 wave and lost it after one term to the same incumbent he defeated in the previous cycle, don’t expect to be surprised if Bill Johnson suffers the same fate. In other words, this standard-issue “guns and religion” district will go for Mitt Romney, but may end up slipping out of Republican hands at the congressional level.

District 7 | Favor GOP

Given the slight Republican lean of this district, now centered on Canton and New Philadelphia along with western and southwestern exurbs in Northeast Ohio, many expected a close race to develop for freshman Republican Bob Gibbs. The D-Trip early on promoted the candidacy of Joyce Healy-Abrams, a businesswoman and the sister of Canton Mayor William Healy who hoped to give Gibbs a tough battle this year. But so far, Healy-Abrams’ campaign has failed to catch fire, and the race is still Gibbs’ to lose.

District 8 | Solid GOP

This is the safest district for the GOP in all of Ohio, and it has nothing to do with the fact that the incumbent is Speaker John Boehner. True, Boehner will only be facing a write-in candidate in James Condit Jr., but the district’s complexion of north suburban Cincinnati’s Butler County, the second city of Springfield northeast of Dayton, and a number of rural counties wrapped to the north and west of Dayton is deeply conservative territory to the point where the Donkey Brigade has all but written off the seat a total loss.

District 9 | Solid DEM

Let’s be honest: this is a notable race. But the only reason it is notable is because of two factors, one Democratic, one Republican. The Democratic factor is that this district pitted veteran Democratic incumbents Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich against one another, with the blue-collar, longer-tenured and Toledo-based Kaptur defeating the blue-collar, ultra-liberal and Cleveland-based Kucinich in the Democratic primary. The Republican factor in this very strippy district, bookended by Toledo in the west, the west side of Cleveland in the east, and Sandusky and Lorain in the middle, is that their nominee is former plumbing contractor Samuel Wurzelbacher, also known as Joe the Plumber, who gained national attention in the 2008 presidential election when he confronted a campaigning Barack Obama in his neighborhood regarding his proposed purchase of a plumbing company and his potential tax rate. Joe the Plumber’s individual donations are almost on par with Kaptur’s, but the district is clearly out of reach for the GOP; Kaptur is safe.

District 10 | Favor GOP

Clearly, the D-Trip would have gone gangbusters finding a candidate to run in this now-evenly split 49-49 district (Barack Obama has the edge) now centered in Dayton and Montgomery County and the city’s eastern suburbs in Greene County. It clearly would have become a top priority given that Democratic attorney Sharen Neuhardt has raised enough money to gain the consideration of the D-Trip, as the redistricting process would have pitted Republican incumbents Mike Turner and Steve Austria into a highly competitive battle for their party’s nomination. However, Austria decided to retire instead, while Turner has thus far managed to hold the advantage in this race. Some are suggesting a close race given the district’s competitiveness, but hardly anything recent of note has come about pollwise.

District 11 | Solid DEM

In this the most Democratic district in all of Ohio, based on Cleveland’s heavily African American east side, its favorably Democratic close-in eastern suburbs, and much of the Democrat-friendly city of Akron, incumbent Democrat Marcia Fudge is running unopposed.

District 12 | Solid GOP

For Republican incumbent Pat Tiberi, redistricting has proven to be the gift that keeps on giving, as the once-competitive district now covers Columbus’ northern suburbs (Dublin, New Albany, Delaware County) as well as the cities of Newark, Mansfield and Zanesville, and has morphed into a safe seat for the incumbent over Democratic attorney Jim Reese.

District 13 | Solid DEM

Incumbent Democrat Tim Ryan may not be as notable as a certain other Congressman Ryan, and certainly not as colorful as a certain predecessor of his, but with a district rooted in traditionally Democratic Youngstown, Warren and Akron, he is safe for reelection over Republican physician Marisha Agana.

District 14 | Solid GOP

Like the Dayton-centric 10th district further southwest, this district also split in 2008, only with John McCain still holding the edge as he did in the old incarnation of this district. But in this district that connects Cleveland’s affluent eastern and southeastern suburbs to the state’s extreme northeast corner in Ashtabula, there will be a new Congressman as the surprise retirement of moderate Republican incumbent Steve LaTourette initially threw this seat into chaos upon his announcement. Fortunately, Republicans were successful in finding a replacement as Geauga County Prosecutor Dave Joyce has quickly amassed over $767K in total funds. But those funds won’t necessarily be needed as Joyce is favored to defeat Democratic frequent candidate Dale Blanchard, whose campaign is virtually a lost cause.

District 15 | Solid GOP

After defeating a freshman Democratic incumbent in 2010, prospects for first-term Republican Steve Stivers quickly improved after redistricting mushroomed his swing district into one connecting Columbus’ western and southern suburbs and exurbs (including Upper Arlington and Hilliard) to a wide swath of rural and small-town territory including Wilmington, Circleville, Lancaster and the college town of Athens. It’s only a slight GOP lean, but Stivers has the advantage over Democratic Athens Law Director Pat Lang (and yes, that actually is an elected position).

District 16 | Tossup

The most pivotal race for Congress in perhaps the most pivotal state in the Union will take place in this bipartisan, bi-incumbent showdown between the district’s actual, Republican incumbent Jim Renacci and redistricted Democratic incumbent Betty Sutton. And the battle for this suburban Cleveland and Akron district that narrowly voted for John McCain four years prior is certainly not easy, given its territory in such communities as Cuyahoga County’s Westlake, Parma and Strongsville, Medina County’s Medina and Wadsworth, Wayne County’s Wooster, and several outskirts of Akron including Copley and Green.

The race has gone back and forth, with prognosticators going all over the place – some favoring Renacci, others favoring Sutton. Fundraising has also been very tight, with Renacci and Sutton each past the $2 million mark in total receipts and past the $1 million mark in individual donors. But the ultimate judge of this race may as well be the presidential outcome. If Barack Obama wins the district, Betty Sutton will be coming back. If Mitt Romney ekes out a win here, the freshman Jim Renacci will get a second term.

President | Tossup

As aforementioned earlier in this post, Ohio is clearly The Heart Of It All. And nothing may be more pivotal in this state than how the Electoral College turns out as far as Ohio is concerned. Between the Republican-rich suburbs of Cincinnati, the Obama Republican suburbs around Columbus, spectrum-splattered suburbs of various sorts around Cleveland, the heavily Democratic cores of the aforementioned cities, Dayton’s Democratic bent and its Republican Montgomery County remainder, a large base of “guns and religion” voters along the border with West Virginia, rural Republican bulwarks in Northwest Ohio (with Toledo as an urban Democratic outlier) and a generally hyper-competitive outlook all throughout, not to mention the occasional Romney lead in a sea of otherwise very slight Obama leans, Ohio is all but certain to decide – as it has many times before – the fate of the nation. True, they may not be the ones that put Barack Obama or Mitt Romney over the top, but it is nearly impossible to imagine either candidate winning the White House without Ohio’s eighteen electoral votes.

Current Score

President: Romney 177, Obama 143, Tossup 129. (58 to go)

Senate: 45 Republicans (including Rob Portman), 38 Democrats, 2 Independents caucusing with the Democrats, 11 Tossups. (4 to go)

House: Elephant Stampede 213, Donkey Brigade 145, Splitsville 23. (54 to go)

Governors: 4 Republicans, 3 Democrats and 3 Tossups, plus 26 existing Republicans (including John Kasich), 11 existing Democrats and 1 existing Independent. (2 to go)

Next stop: Delaware.

The 2012 Bullet Train to November – Part XLVII: Louisiana

October 30, 2012

In the 21st Century, Maryland has emerged as one of the most Democratic states in the union, with a Democratic Governor, a Democratic congressional supermajority, and a redistricting lot stacked in the Democrats’ favor. On the opposite end of the south, Louisiana tells a much different story. The Pelican State has become a Republican juggernaut, with a congressional supermajority in GOP hands, a Republican in the Governor’s Mansion, and a redistricting plan that largely favored the Elephant Stampede. This year, having lost one congressional district to Hurricane Katrina seven years prior, and with conservative Democrats withering in the swamps, prospects for the Donkey Brigade are all but extinct here in a state where all primary contenders run on November the 6th (the runoff, if needed, is on December the 1st).

District 1 | Solid GOP

The Big Easy is a case study in political extremes when it comes to metropolitan politics. Here exists the most Republican district in all of Louisiana, centered on the affluent suburbs of New Orleans in East Jefferson (including the paternal grandmother of this blog’s namesake) and the North Shore, as well as the Lakeview area in New Orleans itself and the city of Houma well southwest of the city. The Republican incumbent, Steve Scalise, is favored to cross the majority threshold needed to avoid a runoff over fellow Republican Gary King, Democrat Vinny Mendoza and independent candidates David Turknett and Arden Wells.

District 2 | Solid DEM

Judging by the slate on the ballot, the untrained eye would assume that incumbent Democrat Cedric Richmond would face a difficult race against another Democrat in Gary Landrieu, who happens to be a cousin of Senator Mary Landrieu. However, the Senator has endorsed Richmond over her cousin in this the Democratic counterpart to the 1st, which now connects African American strongholds in New Orleans and Baton Rouge along the western banks of the Mississippi. Republicans Dwayne Bailey and Josue Larose along with Libertarian candidate Caleb Trotter will also be on the ballot, but Richmond will likely win in a walk.

District 3 | Solid GOP

This is what counts for the most competitive district in Louisiana – thanks to the presence of two incumbent Republicans in a merged district connecting Lake Charles, Lafayette, New Iberia, Morgan City and all of Acadiana. On paper, the favored candidate appears to be Charles Boustany, who currently represents much of the territory, but conservatives believe that Jeff Landry’s conservative bona fides in his first term are, in the eyes of his supporters, enough to convert the freshman to sophomore status.

Both are close in individual donors, with Boustany’s large overall lead of $1.16 million the result of significant higher PAC contributions, perhaps resulting from his service on the House Ways and Means Committee, where he chairs the Subcommittee on Oversight. But the only oversight in the race may be Boustany’s unawareness that while he may own the territory (after all, his polls show a large lead), he may not own the district come 2013. Republican physician Bryan Barrilleaux, Democratic attorney Ron Richard, and Libertarian truck driver Jim Stark will also be on the ballot, but in a race where a runoff would not come across as surprising given scant polling evidence, it will be no surprise if Democrats end up having to put the more moderate Boustany over the top in a runoff between the two incumbents. One thing is clear: a Democrat will not pick up this seat.

District 4 | Solid GOP

Four years ago, Democrats had dreams of capturing this relatively moderate North Louisiana district centered on Shreveport and much of the state’s share of the Ark-La-Tex, and stretching southward along the Sabine to take in Natchitoches before turning eastward at DeRidder and stopping just short of Opelousas. Now that dream is gone as sophomore Republican incumbent John Fleming only has to worry about Libertarian chiropractor Randall Lord.

District 5 | Solid GOP

Also not facing a Democrat in North Louisiana is a former Democrat himself: Rodney Alexander. The Dixiecrat-turned-Republican incumbent will only have to face Libertarian Clay Grant and independent candidate Ron Ceasar on the ballot in this L-shaped district that stretches from Monroe in the north, Alexandria and Opelousas in the corner, and Bogalusa in the east.

District 6 | Solid GOP

Now representing the second most Republican district in the state (both in the presidential election and in general), incumbent Republican Bill Cassidy is on his way to a third term in this district that covers exurban and suburban Baton Rouge as well as Republican-oriented sections of the state capitol itself and East Bank exurbs of New Orleans west of Jefferson Parish. Only Libertarian Rufus Holt Craig Jr. and independent Richard Torregano will be on the ballot with Cassidy.

President | Mitt Romney

There was a time when Louisiana’s electoral votes were often in tandem with the nation. Between the Southern Strategy of Richard Nixon and the compassionate conservatism of George W. Bush, Louisiana voted with the national winner of the presidential race. But while the race is not clear, Barack Obama is not very likely to carry the state’s eight electoral votes. While it is a given that suburban Baton Rouge and New Orleans will go Republican and their metro areas’ urban core (as well as working-class West Jefferson) will go Democratic by various extents, the political positions of the rest of the state including its rural bulk are easy to predict. One recent poll has shown Mitt Romney winning rural areas by a convincing margin from coast to coast, and Louisiana’s share of the “guns and religion” vote is all but certain to go for a Mormon venture capitalist-turned-Massachusetts Governor who most likely would have swayed for a Democrat of the likes of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton but find Barack Obama too “uppity” for their own liking.

Current Score

President: Romney 177, Obama 143, Tossup 129. (76 to go)

Senate: 44 Republicans (including David Vitter), 38 Democrats (including Mary Landrieu), 2 Independents caucusing with the Democrats, 10 Tossups. (6 to go)

House: Elephant Stampede 203, Donkey Brigade 141, Splitsville 21. (70 to go)

Governors: 4 Republicans, 3 Democrats and 3 Tossups, plus 25 existing Republicans (including Bobby Jindal), 11 existing Democrats and 1 existing Independent. (3 to go)

Next stop: Ohio.

The 2012 Bullet Train to November – Part XLVI: Maryland

October 29, 2012

In 2010, many states controlled by Democrats became opportunities for Republicans seeking to turn the first two years of Barack Obama’s presidency into a mandate on the President’s agenda. Wisconsin rewarded the Elephant Stampede with the Governor’s Mansion, control of its state legislature (albeit briefly in one house), and a redistricting map that protected two freshman members. In Maryland, where the state’s Democratic Governor won reelection in a targeted race, a different situation has played out. There, the long Democrat-dominated Maryland General Assembly took advantage of the Governor’s reelection to snowball Republicans in the redistricting process that has left one of the Old Line State’s only two Republican members of Congress in limbo. And with Democrats advantaged in statewide elections, that member’s own reelection bid stands to become a case study in gerrymandering.

Senate | Solid DEM

Since winning his first term in 2006 in a high profile race, freshman Democrat Ben Cardin has maintained a quiet front in the world’s most exclusive club. While Maryland is clearly capable of electing Republicans given its enormous potential to be a swing state, Republicans have long had trouble gaining a foothold here to the point where the Democrats are clearly in the driver’s seat. The Republican candidate, former NYPD officer, former U.S. Secret Service Special Agent and current small business entrepreneur Dan Bongino, has amassed buzz within tea party circles, but faces long odds against the relatively nonchalant Cardin.

Bongino’s support may also be stiffed by the candidacy of former Georgetown University professor and energy industry consultant Rob Sobhani, an independent candidate who made two unsuccessful attempts at the Republican nomination in 1992 and 2000, whose issue stances appear to take on a standard “suburban pro-business Republican” bent, and who has polled double-digit numbers in trial heats. So much for Bongino raising over $1.47 million in this race, enough to fund a modest amount of television advertising. (For the record, Cardin has raised over $5.42 million and Sobhani over $6.47 million – with the latter self-funding almost all of his total.)

District 1 | Solid GOP

Two years after knocking off a moderate Republican incumbent in the GOP primary before losing the general election to a Democrat, Andy Harris ran again in 2010 and became one of many freshmen elected in the 2010 Republican wave. Despite a minor controversy surrounding the urgency of health benefits for federal employees, and concerns that Harris’ suburban Baltimore home would be cut out of the district, in the end the physician-turned-Congressman ended up with a favorably Republican district on the Eastern Shore and the northern fringes of the Baltimore suburbs. This all but assures Harris a second term over Democratic candidate (and fellow physician) John LaFerla, who entered the race as a write-in candidate after the previous Democratic nominee, Wendy Rosen, dropped out amid voter fraud allegations.

District 2 | Solid DEM

The egregious redistricting process that Maryland Democrats have long controlled became even more asinine in this session. Many of the districts resemble splatters from a Jackson Pollock painting, and in the case of five-term Democrat Dutch Ruppersberger, his famous Dutch District became even more egregious, now stretching from coastal Baltimore and Harford counties westward in two directions: northwesterly to Towson and Owings Mills, and southwesterly to communities that straddle the county lines of Baltimore, Howard and Anne Arundel counties. Republican State Senator Nancy Jacobs has raised a respectable amount of fundraising to wage a fairly competitive campaign, but her odds are slim to none courtesy of the Maryland Democratic machine.

District 3 | Solid DEM

While only slightly more Republican on paper, this district itself is even more badly convoluted. Taking in negligible traces of the city of Baltimore (though these traces include the Inner Harbor), along with the suburban Pikesville area northwest of the city, northern Anne Arundel County around Glen Burnie, the state capitol of Annapolis, the eastern half of the suburban edge city of Columbia, and the northeastern fringes of Montgomery County around Olney and Burtonsville. Democratic incumbent John Sarbanes is widely expected to defeat Republican candidate Eric Knowles in this badly gerrymandered, unrecognizable district.

District 4 | Solid DEM

This next district is yet another one clearly worth filing a lawsuit over. And in regards to this district, some will shout cries of racism, as this is a heavily Democratic district centered on much of majority African American Prince George’s County, including Suitland, Upper Marlboro and Landover, at one end. At the other end is a cluster of more conservative southern Baltimore suburbs around Severna Park and Millersville, with Laurel and Calverton in far northern Prince George’s serving as a connector to the two sections. There is nothing moralistic about this district at all, and anyone who attempts to justify its existence is no more Christian and no more American than the typical Hollywood elitist. As for the district in general, liberal Democratic incumbent Donna Edwards, four years removed from her defeat of a more moderate African American Democrat, is widely expected to defeat Republican candidate Faith Loudon.

District 5 | Solid DEM

The home base of House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer did not see much change in the last redistricting round, as it still connects the southern Maryland exurbs of Washington, D.C. to the Bowie and College Park areas in Prince George’s, along with a largely exurban and rural southern section of Anne Arundel County. Hoyer remains strongly favored to win another term in this largely suburban district over Republican State House Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell, who is clearly disadvantaged in this race due to its composition despite his position in Annapolis.

District 6 | Leans DEM

Asides from pulling apart Republican communities out of fear of difficult election battles, which would have been certain in an independent redistricting scenario that respected areas of common interests as opposed to partisan ends, the goal of this anti-American, anti-choice, and anti-Maryland reapportionment strategy was to dislodge longtime incumbent Republican Roscoe Bartlett. Already, Bartlett faced primary challenges due to his age – he is 86 years old as of press time, but the reapportionment process added several Washington, D.C. suburbs in Montgomery County, including Gaithersburg and Germantown, that voted strongly for Barack Obama in 2008 at numbers rivaling those of heavily Democratic Arlington County in Virginia, while cutting out many Republican-friendly exurban areas in Frederick and Carroll counties and maintaining Bartlett’s stronghold in the state’s western panhandle.

The result is a highly competitive battle against 49-year-old Democratic business entrepreneur and financier John Delaney, who entered his party’s primary as an outsider and went on to defeat an establishment-backed Democratic candidate in the process. The fundraising department is dominated by Delaney, who has raised $3.75 million compared to the incumbent’s $1.12 million thus far. But polling has largely fallen into a dead heat, though Delaney has posted slim leads along the way. Still, a 56 percent Obama district in the northeast is competitive enough for most Republicans – even one as elderly as Bartlett – to win in a normal election setting, but Bartlett’s road is clearly a tough one this time around.

District 7 | Solid DEM

Democratic incumbent Elijah Cummings is widely expected to win reelection in this solidly Democratic, largely African American district that connects much of Baltimore’s African American majority bulk to a number of suburban and exurban areas north (Baldwin, Monkton) and west (Ellicott City, west side of Columbia) of the city. Republican candidate Frank Mirabile Jr. is the sacrificial lamb in this race.

District 8 | Solid DEM

The district of Democratic incumbent Chris Van Hollen became more Republican to the detriment of Roscoe Bartlett, as much of rural and exurban Frederick and Carroll counties were added to a district still rooted in Van Hollen’s strongly Democratic base in Montgomery County including Bethesda, Rockville, Wheaton and Silver Spring. Republican investigate reporter, author and taxpayer advocate Ken Timmerman has fundraising totals north of $180K, but the reporter noted for his exposes on nuclear war in the Middle East and the Rev. Jesse Jackson faces difficult odds in a district that remains favorable to the Nancy Pelosi ally Van Hollen.

President | Barack Obama

Maryland, for the most part, has never been considered a swing state or even a favorably Democratic district throughout the course of this election. With a Republican party deeply beleaguered, a Senate campaign that appears to be one-sided (and apparently divided), and a brazen redistricting strategy worthy of prison time for leaders of the Donkey Brigade in Annapolis, Barack Obama will once again carry the state’s ten electoral votes.

Current Score

President: Romney 169, Obama 143, Tossup 129. (84 to go)

Senate: 43 Republicans, 37 Democrats (including Barbara Mikulski), 2 Independents caucusing with the Democrats, 10 Tossups. (8 to go)

House: Elephant Stampede 198, Donkey Brigade 140, Splitsville 21. (76 to go)

Governors: 4 Republicans, 3 Democrats and 3 Tossups, plus 24 existing Republicans, 11 existing Democrats (including Martin O’Malley) and 1 existing Independent. (4 to go)

Next stop: Louisiana.

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