Who Will Win the Senate? (Part 2)

April 15th, 2014


Last time I concluded that Republicans will likely need to look beyond red states in their effort to capture the Senate. Let’s look at some of those races:


Colorado – Mark Udall will try to win a second term by defeating Congressman Cory Gardner. Udall has a couple of advantages. Gardner has represented a rural district and isn’t as well known in urban areas. The Udall name has been powerful throughout the West for generations. It could be close but I’ll give the nod to Udall.


Iowa – Longtime Senator Tom Harkin is retiring. The Democrats are united while is uncertain who the Republicans will nominate. Iowa is becoming more of blue state (President Obama won by 5% in 2012). These factors favor the Democrats who should hold on to the seat.


Michigan – Carl Levin is retiring after six terms. It would seem likely that Democrats would keep the seat. However, Republican Terri Lynn Land twice had easy wins while running for a statewide office. This one is too close to call.


Minnesota – Al Franken won by only 200 votes last time so it would seem likely that he might be in danger. However, the GOP has been unable to find an attractive candidate. Franken should win reelection.


New Hampshire – Jeanne Shaheen is trying for a second term. Her likely opponent is former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown. It would seem likely that Shaheen would win but it is hard to bet against a Republican who can win in Massachusetts. This one is too close to call.


West Virginia – Jay Rockefeller is retiring. It looks like it will be a race between two women. The Democrats candidate will like be the Secretary of State. She lost in the primary when trying for governor in 2011. The Republicans are nominating a veteran Congresswoman. I’ll have to give the nod to the GOP.


So that gives the Republicans 4 seats. With 5 tossups, they have a fairly good chance to take the Senate. Next time I will explore the factors that will determine the outcome of the election.


Who Will Win the Senate? (Part 1)

April 12th, 2014


Back in February I took a quick look at this fall’s Senate races. Using a simple mathematical model, I projected that the Republicans would most likely win a 51-49 majority. Now I will look closer at the contested races. Remember that Republicans need to pick up six seats.


First of all, they need to ensure that they keep the seats they have. Their biggest challenge is in Georgia where Saxby Chambliss is retiring. The Democrats will almost certainly nominate Michelle Nunn, daughter of former senator Sam Nunn. The GOP race is wide open. It will be a Republican year in a red state so the seat is likely safe. Next, let’s turn to red states with Democratic seats.


Alaska – Incumbent Mark Begich won by only 4,000 votes in 2008 despite running against an octogenarian that had just been convicted of a felony. Whether this is a GOP pickup depends on who wins the primary. One of the candidates, Joe Miller, defeated Republican incumbent Lisa Murkowski in 2010. She was able to win the general election with a write-in campaign. It seems unlikely that he could win in November. There is just too much uncertainty so I will have to call it a tossup.


Arkansas – Mark Pryor is seeking a third term. His previous runs were in 2002 and 2008, both Democratic years. Republicans are unified behind Congressman Tom Cotton. I predict he will unseat Pryor.


Louisiana – Mary Landrieu is seeking her fourth term. She will have a tough race but does have a couple of advantages. She is one of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate. She is the daughter of a former New Orleans mayor and sister of the present mayor. The Landrieu name carries a lot of weight. This makes the race too close to call.


Montana – Max Baucus served for over 35 years but recently resigned to become the ambassador to Japan. Democrats are divided while Republicans are solidly behind Congressman Steve Daines. It seems likely that the GOP will pick up this seat.


North Carolina – This is no longer a solidly red state. President Obama squeaked out a victory in 2008 and narrowly lost in 2012. Kay Hagan is seeking a second term while the Republicans see a Tea Party activist battling a more mainstream candidate. Without knowing who the candidate will be, the state is a tossup.


South Dakota – Tim Johnson will retire and his would-be replacement twice lost congressional primary elections. The Republicans should easily win.


This gives the Republican 3 seats plus 1 or 2 more from tossups. They will need to look beyond the red states to take the Senate. Next time I will explore those possibilities.


War on Business

April 9th, 2014


What would you think if you were applying for a job and were asked detailed questions about your ethnicity? What if you had a job and were called into an office to answer those questions?


Millions of Americans will face those situations. Why would any company do something like that? President Obama told them they must do it. This week he ordered all companies that do business with the government to report average salary by race and gender.


This will satisfy two broad agendas of his administration. Although he pledged to be a post-racial president, his administration has tried to increase the racial and gender divide for political purposes. It will also help him in his war against business. They will be forced to spend billions to gather and report data. It will also make them more likely to be subject to lawsuits.


In this day and age, no company should be able to discriminate against women and minorities. Nor should they be allowed to fire someone for revealing their salary. But the Obama administration doesn’t want equal opportunity; they want equal results. If a company hires a white male CEO, a black attorney, a female secretary and a Hispanic factory worker, presumably they should all be paid the same. If not, that’s discrimination. What they are really saying is that women and minorities should be paid more than a white male for doing the same work.


They seem to believe that the economy is a zero sum game. The only way people can get ahead is to take money from businesses and the wealthy. This is just the latest in a series of measures that makes America a difficult place to have a business. If they go elsewhere, we all lose.


Taking Away Rights

April 5th, 2014


This has been a rough week for Brenden Eich. He was pressured to resign his job as CEO of Mozilla. There were no accusations of mismanagement, criminal conduct or ethical lapses. His “crime” was to exercise his constitutional rights. Six years ago he donated $1,000 to a group which opposed same sex marriage.


  This is a controversial issue and many people have moral reservations about a marriage other than a man and a woman. Rather than engaging these people in dialogue, many choose to shout them down and take away their rights. Mr. Eich is only the most recent person to lose his job because of his beliefs. As long as they get what they want, they seem to be fine with repression and tyranny.


 Public disclosure of campaign contributions has always made sense to me. Now I wonder if it might be used to harass and intimidate people like Mr. Eich.


Using the Hitler Playbook

April 2nd, 2014


A few weeks ago Hillary Clinton found herself in hot water when she compared Putin ordering the attack on the Crimea to Hitler’s actions with Czechoslovakia. Some thought she was comparing the two men. Hitler was an evil, egomaniacal madman who dreamed of world conquest and the extermination of the Jewish people. That in no way describes Putin.


However, their actions are strikingly similar. Hitler sought territorial expansion under the guise of bringing ethnic Germans back into Germany. First he annexed Austria and then demanded Sudetenland, a part of Czechoslovakia. England and France agreed. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain famously declared that they had “peace for our time”. Less than a year later Germany invaded Poland and World War 2 began.


 Putin doesn’t talk about racial purity like Hitler but the implication of his actions are that Russian ethnics are deserving of a special status. I believe that, in both cases, that their talk was a smokescreen. Hitler wanted to acquire territory and Putin wants to restore the power that the USSR had.


Putin is really a bully. The best way to deal with a bully is to stand your ground. Our current approach is to talk tough but not do anything. That is better than appeasement but unlikely to work in the long run.