Presidential Race Maps Writing on the Wall

Majority Of Americans Think Kennedy Is Qualified To Be US Senator

Posted Dec 31, 2008 at 12:53 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

According to a new CNN/Opinion Research poll, a majority of Americans believe that Caroline Kennedy is qualified to be a US senator. 52% percent said the daughter of President John F. Kennedy is qualified to serve; 42% said she is not qualified. According to CNN, Kennedy's numbers are "somewhat lower than for Hillary Clinton when she ran for the US Senate seat from New York. In a CNN/USA Today/Gallup survey, more than 60 percent of Americans said the former first lady was qualified." There is a gender gap in these results, as well: 57% of women believing Kennedy is qualified; only 47% of men agree, with 46% of male respondents saying Kennedy is not qualified. PollTrack wonders if these numbers will begin to shift way from Kennedy, possibly reflecting the increasingly negative reporting on her effort to replace Hillary Clinton as New York's junior senator, the growing chorus of state Democrats who question or reject her candidacy, and Kennedy's relatively poor communication with voters and her recent string of political missteps and blunders.

Minnesota Recount: Rejected Absentee Ballots Likely To Determine Outcome

Posted Dec 30, 2008 at 1:58 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

With only 46 votes (as of Monday afternoon) officially separating Democratic challenger (and leader) Al Franken from incumbent Repoublican Norm Coleman in the Minnesota US Senate runoff it could all come down to a little more than a thousand improperly rejected absentee ballots, writes the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The catch: Franken wants them all counted; Coleman does not. "In a letter sent Saturday morning to attorneys representing Sen. Norm Coleman, Franken campaign attorney David Lillehaug proposed accepting the list submitted Friday by county election managers, clearing the way for all the ballots to be opened and counted by next Sunday. " Coleman officials are hinting that they would prefer "a possibly contentious series of regional meetings throughout the state where counties and campaign representatives would have to resolve differences about which ballots to count." The never ending Minnesota recount continues with no clear path to victory for eith candidate.

Minnesota Recount: Republican Incumbent May Take Court Action

Posted Dec 29, 2008 at 4:05 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

As if the Minnesota US Senate recount has not delayed the outcome of the race for months, the campaign of Reoublican incumbent Norm Coleman threatens to take the matter to court in the wake of its lose in the Minnesota State Supreme Court. Politico reports that in response to the ruling, "the Coleman campaign signaled it will contest the final election results in court.   If that happens, the Senate race will continue to be disputed well into January and for perhaps even longer." Said Coleman attorney Fritz Knaak: “The decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court today virtually guarantees two things in this recount. One: it ensures that there will be an election contest because Minnesotans simply will not support an election as close as this being decided by some votes being counted twice . . . Two: this ensures that no certificate of election will be issued due to an election contest inevitably being filed, leaving Minnesota without two sitting United States Senators on January 6th."

Minnesota Recount: MN Supreme Court Rejects Coleman Petition

Posted Dec 28, 2008 at 5:23 PM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

More news in the never ending Minnesota US Senate recount between incumbent Republican Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken. The Minnesota Supreme Court late Wednesday rejected a bid by Sen. Norm Coleman to "force the state Canvassing Board to consider his campaign's claim that some votes in strongholds of Al Franken (D) were counted twice," according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The order allows those disputed ballots to remain in the vote totals, at least for now. "We are deeply disappointed," said Coleman lawyer Fritz Knaak, declaring that the Supreme Court decision "virtually guarantees" that the election will be decided in a court contest and that Coleman's campaign is prepared to wage one. PollTrack believes that this decision may present an obstacle to Coleman. With current unofficial results giving Franken a 48-vote lead, and most ballots recounted, it may be difficlt for the Republican to make up the difference with just challenged absentee ballots remaining.

John Hickenlooper Is Top Choice of Colorado Voters To Replace Sen. Ken Salazar

Posted Dec 24, 2008 at 3:45 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

According to a Public Policy Polling survey, John Hickenlooper, the mayor of Denver, is the top choice of Colorado voters to replace Sen. Ken Salazar, recently picked as the incoming Secretary of the Interior. Still, the field of contenders still pretty open. In order of support, here are the poll's findings: Hickenlooper--23%; Rep. John Salazar (the senator's brother)--15%; House Speaker Andrew Romanoff--12%; former mayor and cabinet member Frederico Pena--11%; Rep. Diane Degette--8%; Rep. Ed Perlmutter--6%; Treasurer Cary Kennedy--2%. Hickenlooper is the top choice for Democrats, Republicans and independents, and polls strongest among White voters.

Hillary Clinton Replacement: New York Voters Split

Posted Dec 24, 2008 at 1:43 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

According to a new Quinnipiac University Poll, New York State voters split 40% to 41% on whether Caroline Kennedy is qualified to be a U.S. Senator, "but they expect by a 48% to 25% margin that Gov. David Paterson will name her to the Senate seat being vacated by Hillary Clinton, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Offered a choice, 33% of voters say Gov. Paterson should name Ms. Kennedy, while 29% say Attorney General Andrew Cuomo should get the nod. Another 4% pick Albany-area U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, while 24% want someone else and 10% are undecided . . . Kennedy leads Cuomo 42% to 27% among New York City voters and ties Cuomo 30% to 30% among suburban voters, while Cuomo leads 31% to 27% among upstate voters. Men back Kennedy over Cuomo 32% to 27% while women back her 33% to 31%. Republicans prefer Cuomo 33% to 20% while Democrats back Kennedy 41% to 27% and independent voters back Cuomo 33% to 30%."

Minnesota Recount: Franken Lead At 48-Votes

Posted Dec 23, 2008 at 5:58 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Democrat Al Franken's lead in the Minnesota US Senate recount is down to 48-Votes. Still, Franken maintains the lead in the recount for the first time since Election Day: "Today, the state Canvassing Board is scheduled to award votes from thousands of challenges that each candidate had filed against his opponent's ballots but later withdrew. A draft list Monday by the secretary of state's staff about how those votes should be allocated showed Franken leading by 48 votes. At the end of last week, he was up by 251, the first time since the Nov. 4 election that he had an advantage." Stay tuned . . .

Is Joe Lieberman (i) Vulnerable in Connection 2012?

Posted Dec 23, 2008 at 1:11 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

Connecticut voters are growing increasingly negative about Joe Lieberman, the Democrat turned-independent who endorsed Republican John McCain for president in this cycle. According to a new Quinnipiac Poll, BOTH of the state's "U.S. Senators get their lowest approval ratings ever, a negative 38% to 54% for Sen. Joseph Lieberman and a lackluster 47% to 41% for Sen. Christopher Dodd." Two questions: will Lieberman be vulnerable in 2012? And who will be his likely Dempcratic and Republican challengers. And will their split once, once again allow Lieberman to retain his seat. 

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Franken Now Takes The Lead at +251-Votes

Posted Dec 22, 2008 at 7:36 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Democratic challenger Al Franken now leads incumbent Repoublican Norm Coleman by +251--a reversal of fortune in the Minnesota US Senate recount. Yet, as the Star Tribune note, the recount is by no means over, because all of the withdrawn challenges have yet to be allocated. Once these allocations are made, Franken’s lead will undoubtedly shrink, but by how much is uncertain. PollTrack notes that for the first time since the election ended on 4 November, Franken has assumed the lead by more than a few votes. Who will come out on top is anyone's guess, but things are looking brighter for the Democrat.

More US Senate Loses For Republicans in 2010?

Posted Dec 22, 2008 at 5:02 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

The inimitable Charlie Cook speculates that Republicans may once again be in for a rough ride in contest for US Senate seats in 2010. "If the playing field is level and no national dynamics are in play," Cook concludes, "Democrats should pick up a few more seats, but it's hard to think that national dynamics won't be at work, one way or another. New presidents often make missteps, and their honeymoons can end quickly. If that happens this time, a few of the vulnerable Republican seats would likely become less so, and a few of the Democratic seats that appear relatively safe would come into play." Yet, Cook wonders if downturn in enthusiasm for the Republican brand will continue to haunt the party in two years:
"If Republicans are still 8 or 9 points behind in party affiliation, if their 'brand' hasn't been repaired, and if they are still facing a competence gap -- an attribute they used to own -- this could be yet another very painful cycle for them."

Nationally Voters Are Skeptical About Caroline Kennedy For US Senate

Posted Dec 22, 2008 at 1:04 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

According to a new national survey, voters are skeptical of the idea of Caroline Kennedy replacing Hillary Clinton in the US Senate: Only 37% believe Caroline Kennedy is qualified to be in the U.S. Senate and only "16% say she would be considered as Hillary Clinton’s replacement if her last name wasn’t Kennedy." 67% have a favorable view of Kennedy; 23% have an unfavorable opinion. 37% say Kennedy is not qualified to serve in the Senate, with 26% undecided.PollTrack cautions that this is a national survey. The numbers for New York State voters vary depending upon the survey.


Democrat Attorney: More Franken Challenges Being Upheld

Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 4:39 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

In an observation that could have major repercussions in the Minnesota US Senate recount, Democrat Al Franken's lead attorney Marc Elias told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that more of Democratic challenges were being upheld than than those of Republican incumbent senator Norm Coleman: "When the recount is over and all the votes that were legally cast are counted, Al Franken will have won this election and will be declared the winner." Elias went on to claim that the shift in momentum towards Franken had "panicked the Coleman team into going to court to try to stop the counting of improperly rejected absentee ballots and asking the Canvassing Board not to count 150 ballots the senator's campaign claim were duplicated." Elias concluded that the Coleman campaign is engaging in a systematic "to prevent all the votes from being counted, for one reason and one reason only -- which is that they know that they are lying and that if all the votes are counted, they will lose this election. Coleman attorney Fritz Knaak denied Elias's accusation: "Mr. Elias has cast aspersions on our intentions from the beginning ... I understand his need to do that. That is not the case."


Minnesota US Senate Recount: Democrat Franken Pulls Ahead By A Few

Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 3:53 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

According to the New York Times, Democratic challenger Al Franken has pulled ahead of Republican incumbent Norm Coleman in the Minnesota US Senate recount, though it cations that the vote count was expected to remain in flux throughout the day: "Mr. Franken’s lead, which reached the high double-digits this morning, came as the board examined ballots challenged by Mr. Coleman’s team. But a spokesman for the Coleman campaign urged caution in putting too much stock in the temporary standings. 'While varying headlines and a flurry of different numbers will continue, we encourage everyone to just hang on until the process is finished,' said Coleman communications director Mark Drake. “When it is finished, Norm Coleman will still lead, and we believe, be re-elected to the United States Senate.'”

Democrat Franken Poised To Move Ahead, At Least Temporarily

Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 1:38 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Democrat Al Franken picked up several hundred votes at Thursday's state Canvassing Board meeting, all but erasing the narrow unofficial lead that Republican Sen. Norm Coleman has maintained for weeks in the Minnesota US Senate recount. The Democrat, according to the paper, "seemed poised to move ahead today, at least temporarily, as the board rules on more challenged ballots." By the end of Thursday, Coleman clung to a two-vote lead. But Franken's reversal of fortune is far from conclusive: "Franken's surge Thursday was no real surprise, given that the large majority of ballot challenges typically fail. On the previous two days, when the board examined challenges from the Franken campaign, most were rejected and Coleman made gains." PollTrack notes that thousands of challenges have yet to be evakuated by the canvassing board--votes that could radically effect the outcome in ways that cannot yet be determined.

Minnesota US Senate Recount: Has The Tide Turned Towards Democrat Franken?

Posted Dec 18, 2008 at 6:56 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

According to one blog, things may be looking up for challenger, Democrat Al Franken in his effort to defeat the Republican incumbent Norm Coleman in the US Senate recount in Minnesota: "At the end of yesterday's review, Coleman's pendulum has reached it's apex. With all Franken's challenged now resolved, we turn tot he over 1000 Coleman challenges. If those ballots break the same way as Franken's challenges, that would result in an almost 500 vote differential. This virtually assures a Franken lead by the end of this phase of the process. A process that has been open, transparent, and respectful of the rule of law. I ironically, on the STRIB ballot challenge page, once all ballots are reviewed, it shows Franken winning by as much as 275 votes." Given the complexity of the recount process, it's hard to say whether this reading is accurate. But Franken seems to have some momentum on his side according to several recent evaluations of the recount.

Who Should Replace Clinton In US Senate: Two NY Polls Differ

Posted Dec 18, 2008 at 1:18 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

Two just released polls have contradictory results on the question of who should replace Democratic New York Junior Senator Hillary Clinton: According to a Siena College Poll, 26% say Gov. David Paterson should choose Attorney General Andrew Cuomo; 23% say Caroline  Kennedy. Limited just to Democrats, Cuomo was favored by 30 percent to 28 percent. According to Siena College, Cuomo leads in every region of the state. Kennedy leads among black and Latino voters and they tied among younger voters. A Public Policy Polling survey reports Kennedy as the top choice of Democrats by 44% to 23%. The margin was narrower upstate, where Kennedy leads 36% to 22%. She leads 45% to 25% in New York City; her strongest support in the suburbs where, with a 57% to 24% advantage over Cuomo.

Colorado US Senate: Another Special Election In 2010

Posted Dec 17, 2008 at 5:40 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

Colorado is the next state headed for a special election in 2010 to fill out the remainder of an incumbent Democratic US Senator's seat. With Colorado U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar soon to be appointed President-elect Barack Obama's Secretary of the Interior,  PollTrack wonders if the Democratic talent drain from the US Senate, which now includes seats from New York (Clinton), Illinois (Obama), Delaware (Biden), and possibly Colorado, could present problems for the party in retaining or gaining seats in a year where more than the expected number of Democrats would have to defend their seats.

THE OBAMA PROJECT: Call For Submissions

Posted Dec 17, 2008 at 5:18 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

PollTrack has just come off a very successful campaign season, tracking the most exciting presidential election in a generation (along with more than 20 US Senate races). With more than 220,000 visitors in the first two-and-half months of our launch we had visitors from every state in the union and 108 nations. One feature of the site, VOICES ON THE GROUND, invited contributions from artists, writers, observers, scholars, students, and others who helped us track the election from the perspective of where it mattered the most: with voters on the ground.
As we approach the inauguration of President-Elect Obama, VOICES launches The Obama Project--an online forum for commentary, analysis, poetry, photographs, and YouTube content that explores the following questions: What Does The Election of Barack Obama Mean To You? And What Does it Mean for The Nation?
We ask you to submit texts (from a single line to 2,000 words), photographs, or content you've posted on YouTube. We will be uploading content on an ongoing basis through the inauguration and beyond. You are also welcome to submit materials that relate to Election 2008 but do not fall within the purview of The Obama Project.
To submit texts or images, go to the "Participate" tab on the yellow tool bar in the lower right of the VOICES page. You may also send texts (and photo attachments) directly to However you submit materials, PLEASE: include your full name and your city and state or location (if outside the US)
We very much look forward to hearing your voices on PollTrack.

Florida US Senate: Jeb Bush in 2010?

Posted Dec 17, 2008 at 1:14 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

Will Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida and younger brother of George W. Bush, run for the US Senate seat being vacated by Mel Martinez in 2010? Florida voters seem to think so according to a new poll: While president Bush is vastll unpopular in Florida, 78% of Florida voters say former Governor Jeb Bush is likely to run. 45% believe Bush is very likely to run and 33% say he is somewhat likely to do so.84% of Republicans believe he’ll run along with 79% of Democrats. Ca he win? Quite possibly: "Jeb Bush is viewed favorably by 60% of Florida voters, including 39% with a Very Favorable opinion. Forty percent (40%) offer a negative view, including 19% with a Very Unfavorable opinion. Favorable opinions are offered by 78% of Republicans, 46% of Democrats and 54% of those not affiliated with either major party."

"Virtual Canvassing Board": Slight Edge To Franken In Challened Ballots

Posted Dec 16, 2008 at 4:18 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

The Minneapolis Star Tribune decided to let the people decide the outcome of the endless Franken-Coleman US Senate recount in Minnesota. And it has concluded that Democrat Al Franken may have the edge when all challenged ballots are evaluated. By relying on a virtual "canvassing board" of more than 26,000 readers who examined at least some of them, the Star Tribune reports that "there appeared to be widespread consensus that Franken won slightly more disputes than Coleman, enough to theoretically erase the incumbent's narrow lead by late Monday . . . there is no assurance that partisans didn't distort the results. But large numbers of respondents from around the nation participated, and each of 15 respondents who viewed the largest number of disputed ballots gave Franken the edge by 3 to 5 percentage points. There was a broader consensus as well. Only 200 of the 6,500 ballots failed to draw a consensus from at least 75 percent of reviewers. Among the others, reviewers decided slightly more in favor of Franken." PollTrack must add hastility that these results are neither scientific nor skewed by the ferver of Franken partisans, thusthey appear a bit dubious. On the other hand, the Associated Press reports that its own analysis of challenged ballots would also appear to wipe out Coleman's 192-vote advantage. Stay tuned.

Minnesota Recount: Is A Franken (d) Victory Hidden in Challeged Ballots?

Posted Dec 16, 2008 at 1:12 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

The Associated Press reports in its analysis of the outstanding challenged ballots in the Minnesota US Senate recount that Al Franken could come out ahead after these votes are apportioned: the analysis of the 3,500 challenges remaining "found that nearly 300 wouldn't benefit either man because the voter clearly favored a third-party candidate or skipped the race . . . of the 3,500 challenged ballots that easily could be assigned, Franken netted 200 more votes than Coleman. But Coleman has withdrawn significantly fewer ballot challenges than Franken — that is, the pool of challenges that can now be awarded to Franken is larger, and both campaigns announced Sunday that they would withdraw more challenges" by this afternoon, Tuesday the 16th of December." Things could get very interesting in Minnesota.

Caroline Kennedy To Pursue Hillary Clinton Senate Seat

Posted Dec 15, 2008 at 6:13 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

Caroline Kennedy has decided to pursue" the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Hillary Clinton, according to the New York Times:  "The decision came after a series of deeply personal and political conversations, in which Ms. Kennedy, who friends describe as unflashy but determined, wrestled with whether to give up what has been a lifetime of avoiding the spotlight . . . Ms. Kennedy has been making calls this morning to alert political figures to her interest... She has also hired Knickerbocker SKD, a prominent political consulting firm headed by Josh Isay, a former chief of staff to Sen. Charles Schumer, to advise her."

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Absentee Ballots Offer Biggest Headache in Recount

Posted Dec 15, 2008 at 4:58 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

The Minneapolis Star Tribune observes that it is the state's penchant for discarding absentee ballots that do not meet the letter of the law that has created the biggest stumbling block to completing the epic recount in the US Senate race between Republican incumbent Norm Coleman and his Democratic challenger, former comedian and writer, Al Franken: "Before this year's U.S. Senate race in Minnesota, rejected absentee ballots were almost as little known. Now, they've emerged as the biggest flaw in Minnesota's election system and may hold the key to finally resolving the contest between Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and DFLer Al Franken. But here and nationwide, the rejection of absentee ballots -- either because voters improperly filled out documents or because election officials erroneously spiked them -- is a problem that's long been hiding in plain sight. 'For years, people know some part of the [elections] system isn't working, but it flies under the radar screen because it doesn't cause problems until you have a situation like Florida in 2000 or Minnesota now," said Edward Foley, an election law expert at Ohio State University's law school. "Suddenly, it becomes a huge problem. Rejected absentee ballots are the new hanging chad.'" Indeed, Minnesota Deputy Secretary of State Jim Gelbmann estimates that more than 13% of rejected absentee ballots in the Senate race -- a number that could be as high as 1,580 -- were improperly set aside. For more on the absentee ballot fiasco in Minnesota click here. 


Minnesota Recount: Democrat Franken Scores Victories

Posted Dec 15, 2008 at 2:17 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

The endless Minnesota US Senate race recount saw a few rare victories for Democrat Al Franken on Friday. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the state Canvassing Board "approved the use of Election Day results for 133 Minneapolis ballots that can't be found and also recommended that counties sort and count absentee ballots that were mistakenly rejected. But the five-member board revealed some fissures. That came when its two Supreme Court justices put the brakes on the apparent hopes of its two district judges to declare in advance that the board would accept the new results that include the previously rejected absentee votes." These actions help Franken in his quest to overturn Republican incumbent Norm Coleman's 192-vote lead at the end of the official hand recount. It remains unclear, though, who might be favored in the ballots now approved for inclusion by the Minnesota state Canvassing Board.

US Senate 2010: Incumbent Democrat Looks Safe In Colorado

Posted Dec 12, 2008 at 7:34 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

According a a new Research 2000/Daily Kos poll out this week, it looks like incumbent Democratic senator Ken Salazar is poised to win reeelection. In a hypothetical matchup with John Elway, former football megastar quarterback for the twice-winning Super Bowl Broncos, Salazar wins, 49% to 38%. Research 2000 notes: "The Colorado GOP bench is thin, and a lack of top-tier credible challenger means that Salazar, who isn't exactly the most popular senator ever (his 48-41 approval-disapproval rating is respectable, but nothing to boast about), may have a much easier time getting reelected than might otherwise have been the case."

Minnesota Recount: State Canvasing Board Meets Today

Posted Dec 12, 2008 at 1:27 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

With today's meeting of Minnesota's state canvassing board resolve the Franken-Coleman recount. MSNBC reports that the board will attempt to decide the fate of hundreds of improperly rejected absentee ballots, as well as 133 missing ballots in a Minneapolis precinct. So today's meeting could have a demonstrative effect on the state's contentious recount.

Chris Matthews NOT Running In Pennsylvania?

Posted Dec 11, 2008 at 2:54 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

According to Poltico, Chris Matthews is about to sign a new contract with MSNBC News. Does this make a run in 2010 against incumbent Reoublican senator Arlen Specter less likely? Probably, since retaining his job as a political commentaor would present a conflict of interest fot the journalist.

US Senate 2010: Incumbent NC Republican Vulnerable

Posted Dec 11, 2008 at 12:56 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

According to a new Public Policy Polling survey of registered voters in North Carolina, Republican incumbent US Senator Richard Burr is quite vulnerable in his reelection quest in 2010. In a hypothetical matchup with Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper, Cooper leads Burr by a margin of 39% to 34%. The survey continues: "44% of the state’s voters approve of Cooper’s job performance with just 23% disapproving. Burr gets a 32% approval mark with 31% unhappy with his work as a Senator . . . This poll confirms what many people already thought: Roy Cooper is the strongest
potential Democratic opponent for Richard Burr in 2010,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “He is just as well known statewide as the incumbent Senator, and better liked. He would be quite a formidable candidate.”

Minnesota Recount: Franken Campaign Accuses State of "Voter Disenfranchisement"

Posted Dec 10, 2008 at 9:56 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

According to MSNBC, the Minnesota US Senate recount has a new set of accusations to ponder: the campaign of Democratic challenger Al Franken this afternoon has accused Minnesota election officials of "voter disenfranchisement." MSNBC reports:  "Franken spokesman Andy Barr showed reporters a video of voters whose ballots were thrown out due to technicalities, he said. Barr said some local elections officials made 'simple mistakes, human mistakes.' 'These are people, not abstractions,' attorney Mark Elias added. Meanwhile, Coleman campaign attorney Fritz Knaak sent a letter to the Elections Director of the City of Minneapolis stressing the weight he believes should be given to the hand-counted ballot."

Us Senate 2010: George Voinovich (R-OH) Faces Tough Reelection Battle

Posted Dec 10, 2008 at 7:10 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

In a sign that 2010 will not be easy for Republican incumbents, a new Quinnipiac poll reports that two-term Republican U.S. Sen. George Voinovich faces a tough reelection fight in 2010, with 36 percent wanting to give him another term and 35 percent backing an unnamed Democratic candidate, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today . . . Voinovich, who has been a fixture in Ohio politics since winning the first of two terms as Governor in 1990, would have a potentially more difficult challenge for a third term in the U.S. Senate in 2010. Only 44 percent of voters, including a lukewarm 54 percent of Republicans, say he deserves to be reelected.

Who Do NY Voters Favor For Hillary Clinton's Senate Seat?

Posted Dec 10, 2008 at 5:34 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

A new Public Policy Polling survey suggests that Caroline Kennedy has the inside track with New York state voters to replace Hillary Clinton in the US Senate: "44% say she’s their top choice, with another 24% saying she’s their second choice from a list of potential candidates. The only other potential appointee to break double figures is Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who was the top pick for 23% of respondents and the second with 35%. The other six candidates polled, including four members of Congress
and two prominent local government officials, were the favored choice with anywhere from 3 to 6% of those surveyed." But a just released Marist poll would appear to contradict these numbers, indicating a tie between Cuomo and Kennedy--25% to 25%--with 26% undecided and another 24% going to other candidates.

Election 2010: Republicans In Better Shape Than in 2008 Defending Senate Seats

Posted Dec 10, 2008 at 1:59 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

According to CQ Politics, the Repiblican senate campaign still has an uphill battle in 2010, but the party is in better shape than in 2008 when it was forced to defend many more seats than the Democrats: In 201, "the GOP will not have the kind of steeply slanted playing field it had to deal with this year. In the flip side of the party’s successes in its better times of 2002, the Republicans ended up defending 23 seats to the Democrats’ 12. That would have made it hard for them to hold their ground, even if the overall political atmosphere had not been so toxic. The slate of regularly scheduled 2010 races gives the Republicans another defensive chore, though it was not nearly as big: 19 Republican-held seats are scheduled to be up that year to 15 Democratic-held seats. Special elections will narrow the margin further, to 19-17, because of picks President-elect Barack Obama has made for his White House team from among his former Democratic Senate colleagues." 

Minnesota Recount: Coleman (r) Retracts 475 Challenged Ballots

Posted Dec 09, 2008 at 7:13 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

On the heels of Al Franken's retraction of ballots earlier challenged by his campaign, representatives of the campasign of Republican incumbent Norm Coleman have made a retraction offer of their own, withdrawing 475 challenged ballots, according to campaign attorney Fritz Knaack . . . "We've gotten a positive gesture from the Franken campaign," Knaack said, "and we want to respond in kind."

Minnesota Recount: Franken (d) Retracts More Challenges

Posted Dec 09, 2008 at 4:58 AM
Maurice Berger, PollTrack Poltical Director

With Republican Norm Coleman holding a 192-lead in the Minnesota US Senate recount, Democratic challeger Al Franken has decided to retract a number of ballots he had previously challenged. According to USA Today, "Franken is pulling back another 425 of the ballots he's challenging . . . bringing the total he's retracted to more than 1,000. His campaign challenged almost 3,300 ballots during the recount of 2.9 million ballots cast in the election, but last week he started canceling them by the hundreds. He's now repealed nearly one third . . . Coleman's campaign has announced it would give up 650 challenges, leaving him with 2,750."

Caroline Kennedy To Replace Clinton: May Not Be A Good Fit

Posted Dec 09, 2008 at 2:17 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

How game is Caroline Kennedy for a nearly endless stream of campaigning across the geographically diverse and enormous expanse of New York state? If she becomes New York's next US Senator--via appointed by Democratic Govener David Paterson--she would have to do just that. She would need to win election outright in 2010 to serve the remainder of Hillary Clinton's unexpired term. Then, she'd have to run again in 2012 . . . for reelection. The notoriously private Kennedy may find the prospect of nonstop campaigning a daunting, if not impossible task. Thus a report out yesterday in the New York Post: "The odds of Gov. Paterson choosing Caroline Kennedy . . .  are no better than 20-1, a source close to the governor said yesterday. The source was responding to news that Sen. Ted Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and other family members have been pushing hard for Caroline to replace Clinton. 'It looks to me like [Caroline's cousin] Bobby Kennedy may be trying to push Caroline more than Caroline is pushing herself," a Paterson administration source told The Post.'" Stay tuned. 

Minnesota Recount: Envelop With Missing Ballots Found In Minneapolis

Posted Dec 08, 2008 at 7:11 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

According to The Uptake, election workers in Minneapolis Election Warehouse have found an envelope with less than 20 uncounted ballots.  The ballots may be from Minnesotans serving overseas in the US Military." Alas, the envelope does not contain the 133 ballots missing from Ward 3 Precinct 1. These ballots, in the Dinkytown area--including the University of Minnesota--may be helpful to Democratic challenger Al Franken, though probably not enough to overcome Coleman's lead.  The Minnesota Secretary of State "has ordered the recount on that precinct be held open so workers can search for those ballots."

Minnesota Recount: Republican Coleman Winning The Expectations Game

Posted Dec 08, 2008 at 1:39 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

With three separate vote counts now virtually complete in the Minnesota US Senate race (save for a handful of precincts and a little more than a hundred missing ballots), Republican incumbent Norm Coleman can boast that he has won three times. He may be winning another count, this one possibly as important as the first three: the expectations game. A new Rasmussen survey reports that 67% of Minnesota voters now expect Coleman to beat Democrat Al Franken. Just 16% say Franken will win, while 17% are not sure. According to Rasmussen, the expectations quotient crosses party lines: "Even 54% of Minnesota Democrats believe Coleman will be the winner once the recount of the race is completed." PollTrack believes that this factor--combined with three cionsecutive leads for the Republican--makes the political environment (as well as the raw numbers) less hospitable to a Franken upset.

Minnesota Recount: Associated Press Projects A 192-Vote Lead For Coleman

Posted Dec 06, 2008 at 1:40 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

The Associated Press projects that Coleman, the Republican incumbent, holds a slight edge--of 192-vote--over Democrat Franken. The Associated Press arrived at the figure by "comparing Nov. 4 tallies and those from the recount in all the finished precincts, which excludes the one in Minneapolis, and applying the changes to Coleman's 215-vote lead in the initial vote count." The Ap qualifies their projection, however: "But that 192-vote lead doesn't account for more than 6,600 ballot challenges from the two campaigns. It's muddied further by legal squabbles over Franken's push to include some rejected absentee ballots in the final count."

Minnesota Recount: Hand Count Ends, Coleman Leads By 687 Votes

Posted Dec 05, 2008 at 10:57 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

The Minnesota US Senate hand recount came to an end this afternoon, with Coleman taking an official lead of 687 votes. But as the New York Times notes, the race is not over: "Officials continued to search for 133 ballots missing from one Minneapolis precinct. With all except those ballots tallied from the state’s 87 counties, Senator Norm Coleman, the Republican incumbent, was leading Al Franken, the former comedian and a Democrat, by a margin of 687 votes, the secretary of state’s office said Friday afternoon. The race could easily shift later this month, though, once a state canvassing board begins examining some 5,300 ballots still in question — ballots for which either the Coleman or the Franken campaign has challenged the voter’s true intent." Still, PollTrack believes the dynamics of the three counts, all ending with Coleman in the lead, favor the Republican incumbent.

Caroline Kennedy To Replace Clinton In The US Senate?

Posted Dec 05, 2008 at 7:33 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

ABC News reports that NY Governer David Patterson may have a surprise in store for state residents: Coroline Kennedy as its Junior Us Senastor: "Another Senator Kennedy?  The crazy speculation about Hillary Clinton's Senate seat may not be so crazy after all.  A Democrat who would know tells ABC News that New York governor David Paterson has talked to Caroline Kennedy about taking the seat, which was once held by her uncle, Robert F. Kennedy.  It’s not exactly shocking that Paterson would reach out to one of the most highly respected public figures in New York, but this is:  Sources say Kennedy is considering it, and has not ruled out coming to Washington to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate."

Minnesota Recount: Almost Complete With Little Change From Initial Tabulation

Posted Dec 05, 2008 at 4:02 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that with the first phase of the Minnesota US Senate recount nearly complete on Thursday, the results differ little from the initial count completed in the hours and days after the polls closed in the state on 4 November: "Yet at day's end, with 99 percent of the ballots counted, the gap separating Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken was only 36 votes larger than it had been at the start. Coleman now leads by 251, according to Star Tribune tabulations." Its unclear whether the 6,000 or so challenged ballots remaining can reverse Coleman's lead. At this point, with all three counts (initial, audit, and hand recount) seemingly going to the Republican, PollTrack believes the political (and numerical) environment continues to favor the Republican incumbent. Still, the count is not over: the state Canvassing Board will meet on Dec. 16 to begin reviewing the thousands of remaining ballot challenges from the two campaigns.

US Senate PA 2010: Specter (r) Vulnerable To Matthews (d) Challenge

Posted Dec 05, 2008 at 1:26 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

Contradicting some recent polling that shows Chris Matthews trailing Republican incumbent Arlen Specter in a hypothetical 2010 US Senate matchup, Rasmussen Reports has released a poll indicating that the Democrat presents a real threat to Specter: "Republican Senator Arlen Specter is potentially vulnerable in his 2010 bid for re-election. A Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Pennsylvania voters finds Specter leading MSNBC pundit Chris Matthews by just three percentage points, 46% to 43%, in a match-up that may foreshadow one of the nation's most closely-watched Senate races." More from CQ Politics on the Rasmussen poll: "The moderate Specter has only a 68 percent favorability rating in his own party but benefits from being viewed positively by 48 percent of Democrats. As far as actual support, 70 percent of Republicans say they would vote for him and 32 percent of Democrats said they would too."

Minnesota Recount: Coleman's Lead Remains Stable

Posted Dec 04, 2008 at 4:30 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

The Minnesota recount reports that Republican incumbent Norm Coleman is leading Al Franken by 316 votes, with 98% of the recount completed. About 6,000 challenged ballots remain. The campaign of challenger Al Franken contests this number, claiming that its internal count now has the Democrat leading by 22 votes. As MSNBC reports: "The difference here, as one of us pointed out a couple of days ago, is that the Franken camp is counting the challenged ballots (the way it thinks the independent analysts are counting them). But the Coleman campaign disputes the Franken numbers. The recount will be completed by the end of the week, and the state’s Canvassing Board will make the final call on the challenged ballots on December 16." Given the net gain made by Coleman yesterday of 36 votes, PollTrack believes that it is doubtful that Franken's internal numbers will hold. If the official recount ends with Coleman ahead, is is also doubtful that Franken can muster the kind of political support he will need--both statewide and nationally--to support reversing three consecutive wins for Coleman. The first count had the Republucan incumbent ahead; the statewide canvas had him in the lead; and a third win  now seems likely when the official recount numbers are reported on 16 December.

US Senate PA 2010: Chris Matthews (d) Still Interested In Run Against Arlen Specter (r)

Posted Dec 04, 2008 at 1:18 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

According to Poltics PA, talk show host, Democrat Chris Matthews remains interested in challenging incumbent Republican US Seanator Arlen Specter in 2010: "Knowledgeable sources have confirmed that Matthews has discussed a possible run for U.S. Senate with Congressman and Philadelphia Democratic City Committee Chair Bob Brady; Treasurer-elect Rob McCord; Allegheny County Democratic Chair Jim Burn; and Neil Oxman, Pennsylvania's premier political consultant."A recent Quinnipiac University poll suggests that neither candidate would walk away with the race, but that Matthews was in a weaker position at this point. In the poll, Specter lead Matthews, 45% to 33%.

Franken's Good News Short Lived?

Posted Dec 03, 2008 at 11:27 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN), elections officials in Minneapolis "discovered that one precinct came up 133 ballots short of election day totals, resulting in a net loss for Democratic challenger Al Franken of 44 votes." Thus, Republican incumbent Norm Coleman's lead may have once again inched up well past +300 votes. The conditions in the Minnesota recount continue to favor the Republican incumbent.

Al Franken Gets Some Good News

Posted Dec 03, 2008 at 8:00 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

Two pieces of good news for Democrat Al Franken as reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune: [1] he gained 37 votes in the recount after a cache of ballots was discovered jammed in a voting machine. Coleman continues to lead, however, by 303 votes, with 93% of the vote counted. [2] The day's other news, "which Franken's campaign quickly described as a 'breakthrough,' came when [Secretary of State Mark] Ritchie's office asked local election officials to examine an estimated 12,000 rejected absentee ballots and determine whether their rejection fell under one of four reasons for rejection defined in state law. The Secretary of State's office asked that ballots that were rejected for something other than the four legal reasons be placed into a so-called "fifth category."

Florida US Senate: Bush Mulls Run

Posted Dec 03, 2008 at 6:14 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

The departure of George W. Bush on 20 January 2009 may not end the Bush dynasty in American politics. According to sources close to former Florida governor Jeb Bush, he is considering a run for the state's US Senate seat in 2010, a seat currently held by Republican Mel Martinez who announced Tuesday that he will not seek reelection: Asked whether he was interested in running for the seat then, Bush, the younger brother of the president, "told Politico by e-mail Tuesday night: 'I am considering it.' A source close to Bush said he'll be thoughtful and methodical about the decision-making process. He will consider the impact a race would have on his family and his business and whether or not the U.S. Senate is the best forum from which to continue his advocacy for issues such as education, immigration and GOP solutions to health care reform." <!-- /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} -->


Chambliss Victory: A Problem For Al Franken?

Posted Dec 03, 2008 at 4:26 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

Is Republican Saxby Chambliss' decisive victory in yesterday's Georgia US Senate runoff a problem for Al Franken. The Hotline Blog seems to think so. In an interesting and perecptive analysis of the political implications of Al Franken's underdog status in the Minnesota recount, Hotline writes: "Sorry Jim Martin, but Al Franken might be the biggest loser tonight. How likely is it that Democratic senators will push for Franken -- or vote not to seat Sen. Norm Coleman should the MN race remain tight after a recount -- now that the filibuster-proof advantage has eluded the party? Such a move is a rare happening, but tonight's GA results seems to make an aggressive move on Franken's behalf less likely." With each step towards compleyion of the Minnesota recount, Franken's chances appear to diminish. Given Franken's hint that he might take the question of the validity of the Minnesota recount results to the US Senate itself (the Constitution provides that the House and Senate serve as “judge of qualifications and elections of its members”), ABC News wonders whether Senate Majority leader Harry Reid would even take up the challenge at this point: "Would Reid want to take such a politically explosive step if it wouldn’t even bring him 60 votes? Particularly when Republicans will control at least 41 votes in the new Senate -- enough to filibuster any such move, and effectively kill it?" the answer is probably no, especially after last night's results.

Who Will Replace Hillary Clinton As New York's Junior Senator?

Posted Dec 03, 2008 at 2:01 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

Who will replace Democrat Hillary Clinton as New York's junior senator? As per MSNBC, the list is short but impressive: "Several names have been floated, including state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, son of former popular Gov. Mario Cuomo, Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, U.S. Reps. Kirsten Gillibrand, Brian Higgins, Nydia Velazquez, Jerrold Nadler, Nita Lowey (who reportedly wants to stay in the House), Steve Israel, Gregory Meeks and Louise Slaughter, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown (the city's first black mayor) and Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión Jr. Even NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg's and Caroline Kennedy's names have been thrown out there." Interestingly, Lowey was the front runner for the seat back in 2000, but gave up her chance at the senate once Hillary Clinton threw her hat into the ring. Public opinion polls indicate that most New York voters favor Cuomo as Clinton's replacement by a substantial margin. Appointing Cuomo may actually provide current Democratic Governor David Patteron with a real political advantage: Cuomo was rumored to be ready to oppose him in 2010. If appointed, Cuomo would instead run for the remainder of Clinton's term (her seat is up in 2012) in 2010. Clinton has given no indication that she plans to resign soon, and will most probably give up her seat upon Senate confirmation as US Secretary of State. CNN also puts to rest a rumor that been swirling around the past few days: Bill Clinton "has no interest in replacing his wife in the U.S. Senate," according to his spokesman, "adding any speculation that he would be interested is 'completely false.'"


US Senate Race Chart: DEM-58, REP-41, With Minnesota Still Undecided

Posted Dec 02, 2008 at 1:05 PM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

With one seat still undecided in Minnesota, the makeup of the incoming US Senate is Democrat-58, Republican-41.

NBC NEWS: Republican Saxby Chambliss Declared Winner In Georgia US Senate Runoff

Posted Dec 02, 2008 at 1:03 PM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

NBC news has just declared Republican incumbent, Saxby Chambliss, the winner in his race gainast Democratic challenger in the Georgia US Senate runoff.

Georgia US Senate Runoff: With 99% Counted It's Chambliss (r)-57%, Martin (d)-43%

Posted Dec 02, 2008 at 12:32 PM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

With  With 99% of the vote counted in the US Senate runnoff in Georgia, it's Chambliss (r)-57%, Martin (d)-43%

Insider Advantage Analysis: Turnout Favors Republican Chambliss in Georgia Runoff

Posted Dec 02, 2008 at 11:28 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

According to a late analysis of today's turnout by Insider Advantage, it looks like Republican Saxby Chambliss is poised to retain his seat in the Georgia US Senate runoff: "Based on our early evaluation of turnout in the Georgia runoff, it appears Republicans have successfully defended Saxby Chambliss’ U.S. Senate seat against Democrat Jim Martin. The four-week runoff campaign focused national attention on the Peach State and brought John McCain, Sarah Palin, Bill Clinton and Al Gore to the state to help their parties' respective candidates drive up turnout. Barack Obama cut an ad and a robo-call tape for Martin but didn't risk his prestige on the race through a personal appearance."

Voting Light To Moderate In Georgia Runoff

Posted Dec 02, 2008 at 7:04 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

The US Senate runoff in Georgia is not producing the same level of voter enthusiasm as the November 4th presidential election. Precincts and polling stations across Georgia are reporting low to moderate voter turnout. The New York Times reports, for example, that at the Atlanta Public Library on Ponce de Leon Ave., where more than 1,600 people voted in the general election, only 400 people had voted by noon today.

Minnesota Recount: Bad News For Franken (d) As Coleman (r) Lead Grows

Posted Dec 02, 2008 at 3:22 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Republican incumbent Norm Coleman has increased his lead by more than 60 votes against Democratic challenger Al Franken in the Minnesota US Senate recount. With nearly all of the votes recounted, Coleman has a lead of +340 votes.

Election Day In Georgia: Final POLLTRACK Average--Chambliss-51.7% to Martin-46%, REP + 5.7%

Posted Dec 02, 2008 at 1:43 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

Today is Election Day in Georgia, the runoff for the state's US Senate Seat. PollTrack's final average: Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss-51.7% to Democratic Challenger Jim Martin-46%, REP + 5.7%.

Georgia US Senate Runoff: Chambliss Up +7, With Overwheling White Support

Posted Dec 01, 2008 at 5:52 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

On the strength of overwhelming support from white voters, Republican incumbent Saxby Chambiss leads Democratic challenger Jim Martin by +7% in tomorrow's Georgia US Senate runoff, 53% to 46%. Public Policy Polling’s final survey for the Georgia runoff "continues to find incumbent Republican Saxby Chambliss holding a solid advantage. He’s now extended his lead to 53-46 over challenger Jim Martin. Chambliss is leading 71-28 among whites planning to vote in the runoff. If Martin can’t improve on that, the electorate on Tuesday would have to be 34% African American for
him to win. Given that it was only 30% for the Presidential election and was a little under 23% during early voting that seems like it would be a stretch." These numbers confirm PollTrack's sense that Chambliss has the distinct advantage in tomorrow's race.

Georgia Runoff: Tunrout (And Its Racial Breakdown) Will Determine Outcome

Posted Dec 01, 2008 at 5:03 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

Will African-American voters turn out in record numbers--as they did for the presidential race in November--or will white voters carry the day in tomorrow's US Senate runoff in Georgia? Will today's visit from former Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin make a difference? As MSNBC explains: "The numbers game in the Georgia runoff is simple: Chambliss is hoping Palin will spike turnout among his base supporters, white evangelicals, while Martin was hoping Obama could spike turnout among his base, African-Americans. Turnout among both groups will be down, that's a fact. The question is which group will down more from Election Day? Answer that question, and you'll know the winner." PollTrack believes the odds favor Republican Saxby Chambliss: he continues to lead in all public opinion polls AND he just grazed the 50% mark on November 4th, even with historic African-American turnout. He's coming into a runoff where the black vote may be down from the presidential race AND he only needs only a handful of votes to take him over the 50% mark relative to November 4th. So Martin remains the underdog.

Early Voter Turnout High In Georgia

Posted Dec 01, 2008 at 1:36 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

Early--or "Advanced--voting ended in Georgia last Wednesday in the US Senate runoff, and from early analysis of the turnout, it looks like interest in the Saxby Chambliss (r) vs Jim Martin (d) bout runs fairly high: " Advance voting in the Georgia Senate runoff race ended Wednesday with one county setting a record voter turnout. Almost three thousand ballots were cast during the week long advanced voting period in Lowndes County. Election officials say more than one thousand voters cast ballots on the first day alone. At the close of polls Wednesday....turnout stood at nearly eleven point three percent... Typical turnout in previous runoff races has been about three percent." It's unclear, however, how this increase in early voting will affect the outcome of the Georgia runoff race.