Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Republicans put 99 Democrat-held House seats in danger

“It’s thermonuclear,” ...this is from a democrat congressman in New York...New York! Where republicans may gain up to 9 seats. Dick Morris may be correct after all that republicans could conceivably gain as many as 100 house seats and with them, an veto proof majority. Believe me, everyone, if we gain over 50 seats the Senate WILL fall as well. It always has, when a wave election of such magnitude has occurred historically. HEIL OSAMA!

With two weeks remaining until Election Day, the political map has expanded to put Democrats on the run across the country — with 99 Democratic-held House seats now in play, according to a POLITICO analysis, and Republicans well in reach of retaking the House.

It’s a dramatic departure from the outlook one year ago — and a broader landscape than even just prior to the summer congressional recess. As recently as early September, many Republicans were hesitant to talk about winning a majority for fear of overreaching.

Today, however, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report predicts a GOP net gain of at least 40 House seats, with 90 Democratic seats in total rated as competitive or likely Republican.

"When Chairman [Pete] Sessions and Leader [John] Boehner said that 100 House seats were in play, Democrats scoffed,” said Ken Spain, the National Republican Congressional Committee’s communications director. “Today, they aren't laughing anymore."

The number of Democrats in danger is more than double the 39 seats Republicans need to seize control of the House. It reflects an elastic electoral environment that favors the GOP by every measure: money, momentum and mood of the country — in this case, sour on Democratic incumbents.

For Democrats, a deteriorating political environment — unemployment high, President Barack Obama’s approval ratings low — has been exacerbated by the presence of cash-flush, independent conservative groups that have poured huge sums of money into races.

The groups, including American Crossroads, have combined with the National Republican Congressional Committee to stretch the boundaries of the 2010 map into races where there’s even a scent of Democratic vulnerability.

“This year is shaping up to be something of a repeat of the 52-seat House and eight-seat Senate rout of Democrats in 1994,” handicapper Charlie Cook wrote last week. “Sure, the circumstances and dynamics are different from then, but the outcome seems to be shaping up along the same lines.”

At one time, there was serious doubt the GOP would have the financial resources to compete effectively for the House majority. The thinking was that scores of potential opportunities could go unexplored due to the cash disparity between the NRCC and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

While the NRCC still trails in cash on hand, its fundraising has picked up — the September total was the committee’s largest one-month take since 2006 — and independent groups have helped fill the void. And with anti-incumbent, anti-Obama and anti-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sentiment running so high in many districts, even a relative pittance has been enough to push a few Democrats onto thin ice.

The assessment by POLITICO is based on a review of TV media-buy information from those independent groups and the party committees in more than 80 districts; internal and public polling in individual races; Federal Election Commission fundraising data for incumbents and challengers; and reporting on the districts. ( See: More photos from the campaign trail)

While the level of competitiveness among the 99 seats varies widely, they share a common denominator: all of them show some serious sign of vulnerability to takeover by the GOP. Factors included a Democratic incumbent’s unpopular legislative votes, the quality of opposition, the partisan breakdown of the districts or the huge sums of money dedicated to Democratic defeat — or some combination of all those factors — to place them “in play” ahead of Nov. 2. (See: Candidates take the debate stage)

The subjectivity of those factors have led to varying interpretations of just how many seats are actually at risk for Democrats. The Rothenberg Report, another political handicapper, lists 91 Democratic-held seats as in play, and predicts the “extremely large field of competitive races” will produce a “likely Republican gain of 40-50 seats, with 60 seats possible.”

POLITICO’s list of 99 seats — some of which have only recently emerged — places GOP pickup opportunities across the political map, stretching from regions of Republican strength such as the South to Democratic states such as California, where three incumbent Democrats face competitive challengers.

In deep-blue New York, Republicans have a shot at as many as nine Democrats. “It’s thermonuclear,” said two-term Rep. Michael Arcuri, in describing the campaign against him to The New York Times.

The list doesn’t include several Republican-oriented seats that Democrats have all but ceded to Republicans, including districts in southeastern Louisiana, Upstate New York and Middle Tennessee.
Some Democrats are clearly facing more difficult challenges than others. The DCCC, which is charged with protecting the party’s 39-seat majority, has already pulled TV ad reservations in at least six contests — a sign that Democratic hopes of retaining those seats are diminishing.

There are dramatic differences in the competitiveness of races even within states. In California, Reps. Jim Costa and Loretta Sanchez appear to have easier paths to reelection than fellow Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney. In New York, Upstate Rep. Bill Owens has a higher degree of reelection difficulty than Long Island-based Rep. Carolyn McCarthy. In Texas, Rep. Solomon Ortiz — who typically wins by wide margins —- is far likelier to win than Rep. Chet Edwards, who is regularly faces stiff opposition in his solidly Republican district.

What does an endangered Democrat look like? Take your pick.

Freshman Democrats make up a large share — more than a quarter — of those facing competitive races. Of the 38 Democrats serving their first full terms in the House, POLITICO rates 29 as at-risk. Some — such as Reps. Bobby Bright of Alabama, Betsy Markey of Colorado, Alan Grayson of Florida and Frank Kratovil Jr. of Maryland — hail from GOP-friendly districts, where they have been in the cross hairs almost since the moment they were elected.

But legislative vets are under fire too. Nine-term New York Rep. Maurice Hinchey and four-term Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva until recently were considered near-locks to win, before their campaigns hit unexpected turbulence. Hinchey attracted unflattering attention this weekend after a videotaped confrontation with a reporter at the same time American Crossroads and other GOP groups are pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into ads in his district.

Grijalva, who called for an economic boycott of his own state amid a housing crisis and record unemployment, has also been hit by outside spending right after an automated poll unexpectedly showed him in a dead heat with his GOP opponent.

The list also includes a handful of veteran Democrats who typically enjoy the benefits of seniority on Capitol Hill and cruise to reelection but this year find themselves locked in competitive races. Among those Democrats are Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton of Missouri and Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt of South Carolina. (Join Arena debate: Which candidates should Dems try to save using limited resources?)

Getting outhustled in fundraising is another way for candidates to find themselves on the bubble.

In a sign of GOP momentum — and of the breadth of the competitive landscape — at least 40 Democratic incumbents were outraised by their GOP challengers in the most recent quarter, according to FEC filings. Reps. Ron Klein of Florida and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin of South Dakota, both stellar fundraisers, were among those outraised in the latest reporting period.

Not all Democratic districts in play are held by incumbents: The party is trying to retain open seats in states including Pennsylvania, Indiana and Washington.

If there is a particular trouble spot for Democrats, it is the Midwest, where 31 seats are at risk. Democrats are trying to defend incumbents including Reps. Steve Kagen of Wisconsin, Bill Foster of Illinois and Leonard Boswell of Iowa, as well as several open seats.

In the South, where many Democrats occupy conservative-oriented districts, Republicans are making a play for 24 seats.
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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Republicans Widen Targets for Picking Up House Seats...

Following up on the most recent post: go ahead and not take into consideration the opinion of Dick Morris. This is from the op-ed page of Pravda! (er, the New York Times) ... and it's concurring opinion of the widening killing fields for the democrats this fall (it even uses the term "triage"!) should terrify the few remaining Obamites who continue to "fiddle while Rome burns"..T

ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio — Republicans are expanding the battle for the House into districts that Democrats had once considered relatively safe, while Democrats began a strategy of triage on Monday to fortify candidates who they believe stand the best chance of survival.

As Republicans made new investments in at least 10 races across the country, including two Democratic seats here in eastern Ohio, Democratic leaders took steps to pull out of some races entirely or significantly cut their financial commitment in several districts that the party won in the last two election cycles.

Representatives Steve Driehaus of Ohio, Suzanne M. Kosmas of Florida and Kathy Dahlkemper of Pennsylvania were among the Democrats who learned that they would no longer receive the same infusion of television advertising that party leaders had promised. Party strategists conceded that these races and several others were slipping out of reach.

With three weeks remaining to save its majority, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has increased its spending on two New York races, along with at-risk seats in Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky and Massachusetts, setting up a map of competitive districts that is starkly different from when the campaign began.

The strategic decisions unfolded at a feverish pace on Monday over an unusually wide playing field of nearly 75 Congressional districts, including here in Ohio, a main battleground in the fight for the House and the Senate. The developments resembled pieces being moved on a giant chess board, with Republicans trying to keep Democrats on the defensive in as many places as possible, while outside groups provided substantial reinforcements for Republicans.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, the party’s election arm in the House, can afford to make the new investments because the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a host of newly formed political organizations have come to the aid of Republican candidates who have far less money than the Democratic incumbents.

Here in St. Clairsville, an Appalachian town on the eastern edge of Ohio, the new investments by Republican groups have become apparent in recent days. Television and radio advertisements are aimed at Representatives Charlie Wilson and Zack Space, both Democrats who were elected in 2006, while new pieces of literature tying the men to President Obama and the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, are arriving in the mail.

The two districts, which come together like long and jagged pieces of a puzzle, are among Ohio’s most rural and conservative. Yet even though Senator John McCain carried the region over Mr. Obama in the 2008 presidential race, Republican leaders had initially decided against making major investments because they believed there were greater opportunities elsewhere in the state and because both congressmen had strong connections to the area.

But polls taken for their Republican candidates showed steady signs of promise, party officials said, so over the weekend the national party made an initial expenditure of $350,000 on television commercials in both districts. Democratic strategists believe that the spending is either designed to be a head fake, so they are drawn into spending money on the races, or a signal to outside groups, who are prohibited from coordinating with the party, to begin making their own forays into the contests.

For months, Bill Johnson, the Republican challenger to Mr. Wilson, has drawn little notice and has struggled to raise money. But last week, things began to change.

He was invited to be the guest speaker at a weekly meeting of conservative leaders in Washington that is organized by Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform. Then he appeared on G. Gordon Liddy’s radio show, which he said helped his fund-raising efforts, as did an endorsement from Sarah Palin.

“It is a good year to be running as a Republican,” Mr. Johnson said in an interview on Monday as he drove across the sprawling Sixth District, which stretches 325 miles across 12 counties. “People are concerned about rising unemployment, spending and the overreaching of the federal government.”

Mr. Johnson, a businessman and retired Air Force officer, has been largely ignored by Mr. Wilson. He has criticized Mr. Wilson for declining to agree to debates. But the race gained attention over the weekend when the Republican committee’s advertisements began appearing on television, calling Mr. Wilson “party line Charlie” and highlighting his votes in favor of the economic stimulus and health care measures.

The message was amplified in a radio advertisement playing on a country music station here, with Mr. Johnson saying in a chipper voice: “On Election Day, it’s time we say, ‘So long, Charlie!’ ”

The race is springing to life here just as early voting is entering its second full week. Campaign signs for Mr. Johnson and Mr. Wilson can be found in equal measure in Ohio River towns from Bridgeport to Brilliant to Bellaire.

Mr. Wilson, who through a spokeswoman declined an interview on Monday because he was meeting with newspaper editorial boards in his district, has begun striking back. He argues in his own television advertisements that he stood up to Democratic Party leaders on climate change legislation, which he calls an “energy tax,” before closing with a line, “I’m Charlie Wilson, and I’m fed up.”

The outcome of these Ohio races, along with other contests in the newly expanded Republican battleground, will help determine whether projections of a Republican wave are realized. Democrats dismissed the notion that Republicans were actually expanding the playing field, suggesting that they were looking for new opportunities because efforts to knock out Democratic incumbents have proved difficult.

Ed Good, the chairman of the Belmont County Democratic Party here in St. Clairsville, said voters were angry and frustrated and eager to “shoot the messenger, if you will.” A Tea Party rally is scheduled for Thursday on the steps of the courthouse, the latest in a string of events that suggests the political forces may be different for Democrats this year.

“They are going to try to pick off what they think is low-hanging fruit,” Mr. Good said. “But the only way Charlie or Zack can lose is if our party does not get out and vote.”

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"A landslide without precedent appears to be in the making"

These sentiments appear to be largely accurate, according to all the polling and electoral history that we have been able to ascertain. The greatest landslide in history was in the post reconstruction period of the late 19th century. Are we approaching that level of "hope and change"? We shall soon see...T

The mainstream media is peddling the line that the Democrats are staging a comeback, slicing Republican leads. It is absolute nonsense. A close review of polling in every close House race in the nation indicates that Republicans now lead in 53 seats currently held by Democrats and are within five points in 20 more.

And the trend is Republican, not Democrat. Of the races where comparative data over the past few weeks is available, Republicans have gained in 33 while Democrats have gained in only 10.

On the Senate level, Republicans now lead in all ten states that are necessary for GOP control of the Senate, the smallest margin coming in Nevada where the Rasmussen Poll has the Republican, Sharron Angle, four points ahead. In West Virginia, Wisconsin, Washington State, and Illinois, the Republican has surged ahead dramatically in recent days and only in Colorado and California has there been slippage. The ten states which are now represented by Democrats where Republicans have the lead are:

North Dakota = +45

Indiana = +18

Arkansas = +18

Wisconsin = +12

Pennsylvania = + 7

West Virginia = + 6

Colorado = + 5

Washington State = + 5

Illinois = + 4

Nevada = + 4

Republican gains should be even greater than this polling indicates. The trend lines are decidedly in the GOP’s favor and Gallup Poll indicates that Republicans are twice as likely to be enthusiastic about voting as Democrats are.

The only note of caution for Republicans is that their leads in Democratic House seats are not substantial. In only 14 seats does the Republican candidate lead by more than ten points and most of those are open Democratic seats. But the Republican turnout machine – animated by Tea Party activists — will likely outperform its Democratic rivals.

And the Democratic Party has no message. Its campaigns are a hodgepodge of personal negatives and fabricated issues. No Democratic candidate is even trying to defend Obama’s health care legislation or argue that his stimulus program is working. Cap and trade is never mentioned by Democrats on the campaign trail. We have the spectacle of the most substantive legislative program in generations having been passed by Congress and now finding that it has no defenders in the election campaign, only Democrats scurrying to prove their independence.

All signs point to a growing Republican landslide.

The gigantic Republican gains of the past week indicate that party trend is now beginning to kick in big time. The Republican leads until this past week are largely due to the voting decisions of people who closely follow the process. The surge in Republican support in the past seven to ten days indicates that the less educated voters who do not follow politics as closely are breaking for the Republicans. Normally, these downscale voters are Democrats, but the economy and the alienating values of the Obama Administration (e.g. Ground Zero Mosque) seem to be driving them to the GOP.

Also boosting Republican prospects is the absence of social issues in the national debate. These elections are turning on unemployment, deficits, the economy, health care, and the national debt, not on gay rights or abortion. So, social liberals and libertarians see no reason not to vote Republican. Only in California are these traditional issues working in driving voters to the Democrats.

A landslide without precedent appears to be in the making.
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Friday, October 01, 2010

Obama, FDR, and Echoes of the Great Depression

As in the 1930s, policy uncertainty and hostility to business have retarded recovery. At least this time around the political price for economic failure promises to be swift.

An excellent summation and comparison of one radical fascistic socialist (FDR) to another (Barack Insane Osama).

While a case can be made to find some of Mr Gramm's points lacking in accuracy ( the author states that recovery began only at the outset of WWII, when in fact it did not: It began at the death of FDR. There were no workers left in the US to be unemployed during the war, as they were all drafted!), the conclusions are impossible to dispute if one is to have any claim to objectivity whatsoever. There was simply no capital investment whatsoever during the 10930's, and there is none today, for precisely the same reason: No business, individual, or monied entity of any type was foolish enough to expose their interests to total confiscation by a radical government!

Then, as now, failure was utterly, completely total. Mr. Gramm makes a compelling argument as to why this course of action has, this time around, lead the socialist progressives to the precipice of electoral doom, and one that this writer finds compelling: that economic history has so totally repudiated progressivism as to render their class warfare rhetoric empty and predictable.

The best column of it's type and subject we have yet seen, yet surely not the last. The truth has "come out"...T

This may not be your grandfather's Great Depression, but many aspects of today's situation would remind him of the 1930s. If the recession that officially ended a year ago feels uncomfortably surreal to you yet familiar to him, it's probably because the recovery went missing.

During the average recovery since World War II, gross domestic product (GDP) surpassed the pre-recession high five quarters after the recession began. It has never taken longer than seven quarters. Yet today, after 11 quarters, GDP is still below what it was in the fourth quarter of 2007. The economy is growing at only about a third of the rate of previous postwar recoveries from major recessions.

Obama administration officials such as Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner have argued that without their policies the economy would be worse, and we might have fallen "off a cliff." While this assertion cannot be tested, we can compare the recent experience of other countries to our own.

The chart nearby compares total 2007 employment levels in the United States, the United Kingdom, the 16 euro zone countries, the G-7 countries and all OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries with those of the second quarter of 2010. There are 4.6% fewer people employed in the U.S. today than at the start of the recession. Euro zone countries have lost 1.7% of their jobs. Total employment in the U.K. is down 0.6%, G-7 average employment is down 2.4%, and OECD employment has fallen 1.9%.

This simple comparison suggests two things. First, that American economic policy has been less effective in increasing employment than the policies of other developed nations. Second, that if there was a cliff out there, no country fell off. Those that suffered the most were the most profligate, such as Greece, and their problems can't be blamed on the financial crisis. While the most recent quarterly growth figures are just a snapshot in time, it is hardly encouraging that economic growth in the U.S. (1.7%) is lower than in the euro zone (4%), U.K. (4.8%), G-7 (2.8%) and OECD (2%).

Most striking about these comparisons is their similarity to the U.S. experience in the Great Depression. Using data from the League of Nations' World Economic Survey, we can look at unemployment in developed nations between 1929 and the end of 1938. Ten years after the stock market crash, total employment in the U.S. was still almost 20% below the pre-Depression level. The decline in France was similar. But in the U.K. and Italy, total employment was up 10% and 12%, respectively. Industrial production on average in the six most developed countries was almost 16% above their 1929 levels by the end of 1938, but industrial production had declined by 20% in the U.S.

Today's lagging growth and persistent high unemployment are reminiscent of the 1930s, perhaps because in no other period of American history has our government followed policies as similar to those of the Great Depression era. Federal debt by the end of 1938 was almost 150% above the 1929 level. Federal spending grew by 77% from 1932 to 1934 as the New Deal was implemented—unprecedented for peacetime.

Still the economy did not take off. Winston Churchill gave a contemporary evaluation of the Roosevelt policy by observing, in the April 24, 1935, Daily Mail, "Nearly two thousand millions Sterling have been poured out to prime the pump of prosperity; but prosperity has not begun to flow."

The top individual income tax rate rose from 24% to 63% to 79% during the Hoover and Roosevelt administrations. Corporate rates were increased to 15% from 11%, and when private businesses did not invest, Congress imposed a 27% undistributed profits tax.

In 1929, the U.S. government collected $1.1 billion in total income taxes; by 1935 collections had fallen to $527 million. In 1929, individual income taxes accounted for 38% of government revenues, corporate taxes accounted for 43%, and excise taxes for 19%. By 1939, individual income taxes made up only 26% of federal revenues, corporate income taxes made up 29%, and excise taxes made up 45%.

When Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau suggested to President Roosevelt that the administration cut income tax rates in 1939, Roosevelt, apparently concerned about the possible effect of deficit-financed tax cuts on interest rates, asked, "You are willing to pay usury in order to get recovery?" Morgenthau said that he responded, "Yes sir." The president disagreed.

The Roosevelt administration also conducted a seven-year populist tirade against private business, which FDR denounced as the province of "economic royalists" and "malefactors of great wealth." The war on business and wealth was so traumatic that the League of Nations' 1939 World Economic Survey attributed part of the poor U.S. economic performance to it: "The relations between the leaders of business and the Administration were uneasy, and this uneasiness accentuated the unwillingness of private enterprise to embark on further projects of capital expenditure which might have helped to sustain the economy."

Churchill, who was generally guarded when criticizing New Deal policies, could not hold back. "The disposition to hunt down rich men as if they were noxious beasts," he noted in "Great Contemporaries" (1939), is "a very attractive sport." But "confidence is shaken and enterprise chilled, and the unemployed queue up at the soup kitchens or march out to the public works with ever growing expense to the taxpayer and nothing more appetizing to take home to their families than the leg or wing of what was once a millionaire. . . It is indispensable to the wealth of nations and to the wage and life standards of labour, that capital and credit should be honoured and cherished partners in the economic system. . . ."

The regulatory burden exploded during the Roosevelt administration, not just through the creation of new government agencies but through an extraordinary barrage of executive orders—more than all subsequent presidents through Bill Clinton combined. Then, as now, uncertainty reigned. As the textile innovator Lammot du Pont complained in 1937, "Uncertainty rules the tax situation, the labor situation, the monetary situation, and practically every legal condition under which industry must operate."

Henry Morgenthau summarized the policy failure to the House Ways and Means Committee in April 1939: "Now, gentleman, we have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work . . . I say after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started . . . and an enormous debt, to boot."

Despite the striking similarities between then and now, there is one major difference: Roosevelt's policies remained popular even as the economy faltered. The magnitude of the Depression, with its lack of stabilizers and safety nets, traumatized Americans and undermined their confidence in the economic system. This induced voters, as historians would later do, to judge Roosevelt not on his results but on his intentions.

Today, however, the Obama program appears to be failing politically as well as in the marketplace. The trauma of the financial crisis did not approach that of the Great Depression, and Americans do not appear to have lost faith in our economic system or come to see government as the savior. While progressivism gave the New Deal its intellectual foundations, history today is driven by the freedom tide that produced our economic revival in the 1980s and '90s and still drives economic liberalization in China and India.

Finally, we should not underestimate that this administration faces stronger and more united congressional opposition than FDR ever faced. The House and Senate Republican leadership has far surpassed all expectations of a minority party.

Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and John Boehner of Ohio have led a loyal opposition that, through its unity, has exposed the radical underbelly of the Obama program. Young guns like Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Jeb Hensarling of Texas have provided vision and energy.

FDR rode the tide of history while President Obama strives mightily against it. The progressive vision that resonated in the 1930s foundered on the hard experience of the 20th century, and it has no broad appeal in the 21st. The recovery from the Great Depression did not occur until World War II was underway, but it appears, as of today, that voters will bring the latest experiment in American collectivism to an end on Nov. 2. A real economic recovery won't be far behind.

Mr. Gramm is a former U.S. senator from Texas and former professor of economics at Texas A&M University.
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Dems Retreat to Coast as GOP Rules Vast Interior

Category:Westminster constituencies in the Rep...Image via Wikipedia Michael Barone is, by acclaim, the most accurate and non biased election forecaster in the nation, with the possible exception of the late Hal Bruno. His in an devastating forecast indeed for the demothugs this November 2nd...HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN?!...T

Here's an exercise for some evening when you're curious about big nationwide trends in this year's elections.

Get an outline map showing the 50 states, and take a look at the latest poll averages in pollster.com in each race for senator and governor. Color in the percentage (rounded off; no need for tenths) by which either the Republican or Democratic candidate is leading (I use blue for Republicans, red for Democrats) in each state.

The map of the Senate races shows Republicans leading over almost all the landmass of America. Democrats are ahead in the three West Coast states and Hawaii (though not by much in California and Washington) and by 1 point in Nevada. They're also ahead in four states along the Atlantic Coast -- Maryland, Delaware, New York, Connecticut -- plus Vermont.

Republicans lead in all the other Senate races, from Philadelphia to Phoenix and Boca Raton to Boise. True, their candidate leads by only 1 point in Barack Obama's home state of Illinois. And they've got narrow leads in some mountain states (West Virginia, Colorado, Kentucky).

The map of governors' races is not much different. Democrats lead in New York, all the New England states except Maine, plus Maryland. They lead in Arkansas, where they've got a popular one-term incumbent, and in Colorado, where the party's nominee has severe resume flaws and former Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo is running as an independent. Democrats lead in Hawaii and Minnesota, normally Democratic states where Republicans have held the governorship for the last two years.

Two other big states have close races: In California, Republican Meg Whitman barely leads septuagenarian Democrat Jerry Brown, and in Florida, the race is tied.

But overall, Republicans are doing very well indeed, with statistically significant leads in every other state with a governor contest this year.

It would be more difficult to draw a map showing the party margins in the 435 House districts. For one thing, there are no publicly available polls in many districts. But if you could draw such a map, I think you'd see Democrats holding onto districts dominated by their core constituencies (blacks, Hispanics and the affluent voters Joel Kotkin calls gentry liberals) and struggling just about everywhere else, from factory towns to high-income suburbs.

Taken together, all these maps show a Democratic Party shrinking back to its bicoastal base and a Republican Party spreading to take in most of the vast expanse of the continent.

Now the geography can be a little misleading. The Democrats' Northeast and Pacific Coast bases are heavily populated, and the states where they're leading in Senate races cast 136 electoral votes in 2008. But the states where Republicans are leading cast 274.

These 2010 maps are quite a contrast with the maps you might have drawn just after the 2008 election.

Then, liberal pundits especially, but also more neutral commentators, were arguing that the Republican Party had receded to its base -- most of the South, all of the Great Plains and some of the Rocky Mountains. The Democrats were expanding to the New South (Virginia and North Carolina), the old Midwest (Indiana) and the Rocky Mountains (Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada).

Extrapolating from the 2008 election results, some Democrats foresaw a 40-year period of Democratic dominance. It turned out to last about 40 weeks, as Republicans passed Democrats in polls on the popular vote for the House in August 2009.

Now we see Obama campaigning at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, in Dane County, where he won 73 percent of the vote in 2008, chiding students for their apparent apathy. After reportedly planning to skip the rally, as he did when Obama visited Wisconsin on Labor Day, Sen. Russ Feingold made a last-minute appearance.

Republicans shouldn't get too giddy. The election has not been held yet (though early voting has begun in a few states), and Obama may indeed whip up some enthusiasm in the Democratic base. Republican candidates' flaws may prove fatal in some states and districts.

Moreover, as the political turnaround of the last 22 months has shown, voters stand ready to punish a party that passes bills they hate or fails to stay true to stands they love.

But for the moment anyway, the vast expanse of America is hospitable to Republicans, while Democrats seem appreciated only in their coastal and campus redoubts.
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