The west coast is also significantly higher. Since that covers a broader geographic area, I hesitate to attribute it to tax rates, since it could also be a supply/distribution issue in the fast-growing west. It wouldn't surprise me if those states also have higher taxes, though.
Murdoc also makes the comment:
I guess we'll see what they do in the coming weeks, and if they shoot back up you can be sure we'll be hearing all about how the GOP manipulated them down for the elections. And it might even be true.
I, for one, do not believe the GOP has been manipulating anything associated with gas prices. Mainly because they haven't had to. The petroleum companies have been doing it on their own. There is no question that the petroleum industry will be better off under a Republican congress, and they know it.
And I don't even believe this is a matter of collusion. It's only collusion if the companies get together and agree to do something. In this case, I believe they are all doing it because it is so obviously in their best interest; they don't have to get together and discuss it. Their best interest is for Republicans to retain as much influence as possible and they know that lower gas prices will help achieve that goal.
On the Senate side, I am now showing the Republicans maintaining a one seat lead. However two races are actually tied with a third within one point. (These are actual ties, in contrast to the mythical "statistical tie" I also posted about this morning.)
In Maryland, Michael Steele (R) is tied with Ben Cardin (D) at 47%, with only 3% undecided and 3% going to Kevin Zeese (I). Because Zeese is the nominee from all three of the Libertarian, Green and Populist parties, it is not clear whether he is siphoning off more votes from Steele or Cardin (i.e. whether a voter deciding to avoid the third-party candidate effect at the last minute would be switching to Steele or Cardin). Since I have the tie going to the incumbent party, I am showing Cardin winning.
In Missouri, James Talent (R) seems to have pulled slightly ahead of Claire McKaskell (D), but only by a point or two. This is a change from my last analysis. Note that the third-party candidate, Frank Gilmour, is a Libertarian so voters avoiding the third-party candidate effect at the last minute would be more likely to switch to Talent.
In Virginia, the lead has switched back and forth between George Allen (R) and James Webb (D). Right now, I have them listed as tied at 49%, which I show as a win for the incumbent (Allen).
It should be noted that there are 2% to 3% undecided in each of these races. Undecideds tend to lean more heavily against the incumbent (Talent and Allen, both Republicans; the Maryland seat is Paul Sarbanes (D) current seat, so Bill Cardin is of the incumbent party but is not himself the incumbent). At this point, these races are anyone's to win.
The table below shows Cardin, Talent and Allen winning, resulting in a one-seat majority by the Republicans. If the Republicans win all three, they will maintain a two-seat majority. If the Democrats win all three, the could achieve a one-seat majority. These are definitely the three races to watch right now.
Two other senate races that are still pretty close are Montana, where Jon Tester (D) leads Conrad Burns (R) by two points, and New Jersey, where Robert Menendez (D) leads Tom Kean, Jr. (R) by five points.
Finally, I should mention that I removed two seats from the in-play column, as Maria Cantwell (D) has pulled out to a 16 point lead over Mike McGavick (R) in Washington and Debbie Stabenow (D) has also pulled out to a 16 point lead over Michael Bouchard (R) in Michigan.
In the House, there have only been a few significant changes since my last posting, leaving the end result unchanged.
NY-20 was added back to the in-play column as Kirsten Gillebrand (D) pulled ahead of incumbent John Sweeney (R) by three points after allegations of spousal abuse were made against Sweeney. Sweeney was previously up by 14 points.
CA-50 was removed from the in-play column after incumbent Brian Bilbray (R) widened his lead from three points to 14 points over Francine Busby (D).
In KY-04, the incumbent Geoff Davis (R) pulled ahead of Ken Lucas (D) by six points, after being down three points previously.
In FL-22, Ron Klein (D) widened his lead over incumbent Clay Shaw (R) from two points to nine points.
There too many House races worth watching for me to give detail on each one. I will merely list the district and the current poll result from my analysis for each. My system for picking these races is simple, it represents all races that are within two points, plus the NY-20 race where the swing occurred suddenly based on new allegations. There are other races with two to five point spreads that are probably also worth keeping an eye on, and can be found in the the detailed pdf.
AZ-01 (R +2)
AZ-05 (D +2)
CA-11 (D +2)
CO-04 (R +1)
FL-13 (D +2)
IL-10 (D +2)
IN-09 (R +2)
IA-02 (R +2)
NM-01 (D +2)
NY-19 (D +2)
NY-20 (D +3)
OH-01 (D +2)
WA-08 (R tie)
The table below includes all of these closest races as shown. If the Republicans win all of these closest races, they will still only have 206 seats in the House, leaving the Democrats with 229 seats and the majority. If the Democrats win all of these, they will have 242 seats.
In the Gubernatorial races, the only significant changes have been Democrats pulling ahead in three races.
In Michigan, incumbent Jennifer Granholm (D) has increased her lead over Dick DeVos (R) from nine points to 14 points, removing it from in-play.
In Arizona, incumbent Janet Napolitano (D) has increased her lead over Len Munsil (R) from eight points to 28 points, also removing it from in-play. (Note that this may not represent a huge gain, but may merely represent a poor choice on my part of the poll I used in the previous analysis. Few pundits have expressed any belief at any point that Napolitano's seat was in play.)
In Ohio, Ted Strickland (D) increased his lead over Ken Blackwell (R) from nine points to 18 points. Note that I still keep this as in-play because I am including any seat changing parties as in-play (regardless of the lead).
Now that I've discussed the Governors races that are no longer close, here are some races to watch.
In Alaska, in spite of disbelief that this seat is in play, Sara Palin (R) is only leading Tony Knowles (D) by two points. A third-party candidate, Andrew Halcro, is polling at 12%. Although a former Republican, his independent platform may be appealing to "change voters" from both sides of the aisle. It is not clear which candidate would be helped if some of his voters switch in order to avoid the third-party candidate effect.
In Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson (R) leads Mike Beebe (D) by only three points.
In Iowa, current Secretary of State Chet Culver (D) leads current House member Jim Nussle (R) by only two points.
In Maryland, Martin O'Malley (D) leads incumbent Robert Ehrlich (R) by one point, in spite of relatively high approval ratings for an incumbent Governor.
In Minnesota, Attorney General Mike Hatch (D) leads incumbent Timothy Paulenty (R) by only one point. Momentum has been on Hatch's side, though.
In Nevada, Dina Titus (D) leads Jim Gibbons (R) by one point. Nevada's political leanings can be illustrated by noting that Jim Gibbons is disliked by approximately half of the electorate and has been accused of sexual assault, but is still running neck-and-neck.
In Oregon, incumbent Theodore Kulongowski (D) leads Ron Saxton (R) by approximately half a point.
In Wisconsin, Mark Green (R) leads incumbent James Doyle (D) also by approximately half a point. In this race, the Green Party candidate, Nelson Eisman, is polling at 4%. Voters avoiding the third-party candidate effect at the last minute would be more likely to switch to Doyle.
As with the Senate and the House tables, the summary below shows the outcomes as listed above. If the Republicans win all of these close races, they will only lose a total of two Governors' seats. If the Democrats win all of these close races, the will gain a total of ten Governors' seats.
I have mentioned the "third-party candidate effect" a number of times in this post. There have been cases where, in close races, voters who have previously indicated they will vote for a third-party switch to one of the main-line candidates. An example of such a thought process is as follows: "When the Democrat was losing by 10 points, I decided I would vote for the Green Party candidate to express my interest in the environment. Now that the Democrat actually has a chance to win, I will switch to voting for him/her."
To reiterate my methodology: As you may be able to tell, I am trying to inject as little of my own opinion into this analysis as possible. That is why I am allowing close races to switch back and forth between times I publish the list. The only place where my opinion matters is that I sometimes have to pick which of two or three polls I will include in the analysis. In such cases, I tend to favor polls that are (i) newer, (ii) by national non-partisan firms versus local organizations or partisan polling houses and/or (iii) favor the incumbent. Where there are three or more polls, I also try to exclude any outlyers.
I'm tired of hearing journalists say (or seeing them write) something like this:
The latest MajorityWatch poll was taken from October 24-26, with 1,008 likely voters and a margin of error of 3.08%. It shows Seals with a narrow 48%-46% lead, within the margin of error and thus a statistical tie.
(I took this quote from this post on Blogger News Network — for no other reason than it illustrated my point in just two sentences.)
It's clear to me that most people understand the phrase "statistical tie" or "statistical dead heat" to mean that, because the poll is within the margin of error, we really have no information about who is leading.
This is a complete misunderstanding of what the margin of error represents.
The first post I ran across uses the Ted Haggard incident to juxtapose conservative hypocrisy with liberal amoralism. The fundamental thesis is that
Conservatives set very high moral standards for others, which they are not always able to meet themselves. When they invariably fall short, liberals call them hypocrites. Liberals set very low moral standards and believe that when they uphold them, they should be congratulated for that.
Professor Fortnow, computer science professor at at the University of Chicago, put together these maps of the Senate and Governor races across the country. The maps are colored based on data from Tradesports.com, which essentially allows individuals to gamble on the outcome of the races by buying/selling shares of candidates. If a candidate wins, a share pays $100. If a candidate loses, a share pays $0. The price of a share, therefore, reflects the odds the market places on that candidate winning.
If I get the chance tomorrow, I will incorporate this data into my election analysis. I wish I'd learned about this earlier.
When the candidate is running against a veteran of the Iraq War who lost both legs when the Blackhawk helicopter she was flying was shot down, the endorsement tends to backfire.
That's what happened in Illinois' 6th Congressional District, where the VFW astonishingly endorsed Peter Roskam (R), who is not a veteran, passing over Tammy Duckworth (D) the double amputee mentioned above.
According to the Chicago area Daily Herald, "World War II veteran Joe Buttice of Wood Dale was unable to explain much about the endorsement other than to say Roskam 'supports a strong defense for our country but also he took care of our local veterans at the same time.'"
Apparently, the VFW had been encouraged to give the endorsement by various local Republican leaders but never spoke with at least one of the local posts (Bloomingdale), which had already endorsed Duckworth. Most surprisingly, it is unclear that the VFW did any analysis of the two candidates, since they did not contact the Duckworth campaign for a interview or to answer a questionaire — standard practice for such organizations when deciding on endorsements.
Although Roskam said "he doesn’t fear a backlash among 6th District voters over how the endorsement was arrived at," his campaign is already trying to put out the fire. One statement issued by the campaign, in response to criticisms of the VFW's process, included the line that "The Duckworth campaign DID NOT contact the VFW or seek their endorsement," as though endorsements are first-come-first-served.
Another update just to track anything that might be changing over the last few days before the election. Polling since my last update on 11/2 indicates little change in results. Mostly thermal noise as close elections fluctuate.
I am still showing the Democrats picking up the six seats they need in the Senate to take control. In the house, the Democrats pick up one fewer seat (35) than in my previous post. At the state level, Democrats are now back to picking up seven Governors' seats.
As the 2006 election season comes to a close, we're starting to see additional criticism of Bush by his traditional supporters.
Since the 2004 election, we've seen his support erode among the military, among some conservatives and even among his journalistsupporters. I have long argued that this eroding support is at least partially the result of election politics. Prior to 2004, conservatives kept their criticisms to themselves, fearing their criticism would result in a Democratic president. Now that criticizing Bush is less likely to affect a future presidential race, conservatives have felt freer to air their grievances.
I believe the same dynamic is playing out as the 2006 election season comes to a close. Now that it is pretty much too late for anything they say to affect Tuesday's outcome very much, we are seeing the first of the next wave of Bush criticism from his traditional supporters.
CNN is breaking the story about an article being prepared for the January edition of Vanity Fair which quotes a number of previous Bush supporters. Richard Perle "now says dysfunction within the Bush administration has turned U.S. policy [in Iraq] into a disaster". Kenneth Adelman states that Bush's national security team "turned out to be among the most incompetent teams in the postwar era. Not only did each of them, individually, have enormous flaws, but together they were deadly, dysfunctional."
In a related story, the Army Times will repeat its call for Donald Rumsfeld to resign. "'Basically, the editorial says, it's clear now, from some of the public statements that military leaders are making, that he's lost the support and respect of the military leadership,' said Robert Hodierne, senior managing editor for the publications' parent company Army Times Publications."
This will only get worse for Bush. Even Republican presidential aspirants in 2008 will be trying to distance themselves from Bush's failures.
Polling since my last update on 10/26 indicates that the improvement the Republicans were seeing does not seem to be a lasting trend.
I am now showing the Democrats picking up the six seats they need in the Senate to take control, picking up 36 seats in the House, but only picking up six, instead of seven, Governor's seats. There are still plenty of close elections, though, so at the margin I expect these numbers to change before this is all finished on election eve.
I find it impossible, however, to see how the Republicans might maintain control of the House. We're so close to election day that it's hard to believe there could be an event that could change public opinion that much that quickly. Also, I am relying on polls from a variety of polling agencies in the House races, and many of the key races have polls from more than one agency. It is impossible for me to believe that enough of these polls are wrong such that the Republicans would maintain control.
The only questions left at this point are
How much of a majority will the Democrats have in the House?
Will the Democrats take control of the Senate?
How many Governors' seats will the Democrats pick up?
As usual, there is more detail in the continuation and the PDF is here. For those who have not checked out the PDF yet, it is a spreadsheet laying out all of the Senate races, all of the Governors races, all of the in-play House races and all of the open seat House races. Information for each race includes current incumbent, candidates, polls (where available) and short comments (where I know something about the race).