Midterm Elections

Good Polling News For Dems (Look Quickly!)
October 19, 2010

With just two weeks left until Election Day, and early voting well under way in many states, we’ve reached that point where partisans are getting sweaty palms and looking for any kind of evidence of a late trend in their direction. In this respect, today has been a good day for Democrats. New polls show alleged dead heats in two Senate races (Wisconsin and Pennsylvania) where most observers were all but assuming Republican victories as a near-certainty.

How Third-Party Candidates Could Screw Up The Midterms: A Primer
October 19, 2010

Can't get enough of this year's possible spoilers? Check out TNR's slideshow of some of the best (and most bizarre) third-party candidates who could sway some of the country's biggest elections. One of the under-appreciated facts about the 2010 midterms is the sheer number of races that could be scrambled by third-party candidates. Quixotic Tea Party runs could thwart GOP gains in more than a dozen key House races. Former Republicans like Charlie Crist and Lisa Murkowski are foraging for votes without official party backing. The Green Party is doing its usual spoiler thing.

The Most Despicable Ad of the Year
October 19, 2010

There are still two weeks left until the midterm elections, but it’s not too early to declare a winner in the contest for the most despicable political ad of this campaign season. On Friday night, Jack Conway, the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky, released a 30-second spot questioning the Christian faith of his Republican opponent Rand Paul. Conway’s ad focused on two episodes from Paul’s days as a college student in the early 1980s.

NY Gubernatorial Debate: More Fringe Candidates, Please!
October 18, 2010

By all rights, tonight's gubernatorial debate in New York should've been a daffy three-ring circus—even by the abysmal standards of the 2010 midterms. Put aside, for a moment, Republican candidate Carl Paladino's well-known penchant for emailing bestiality porn to his friends and uttering physical threats to reporters.

Sympathy For Rand Paul
October 18, 2010

The ugliest, most illiberal political ad of the year may be this one, from Kentucky Democrat Jack Conway: I actually don't doubt the implication of the ad, namely that Rand Paul harbors a private contempt for Christianity. He's a devotee of Ayn Rand, who is a fundamentally anti-Christian thinker.

The GOP’s Triple Play
October 18, 2010

PORTSMOUTH, N.H.—The Republican Party is running a three-level campaign this year that gives its candidates a wealth of advantages—in flexibility, deniability, and determination.   At the first level are the party's candidates, who can be as reasonable or as angry, as moderate or as conservative, as their circumstances require. Next come the outside groups that refuse to disclose their donor lists. They are doing the dirty work of pounding their Democratic opponents in commercials for which no one is accountable.

Brown Knows
October 18, 2010

It was mid-September, and I was driving around downtown Oakland, trying to find the campaign headquarters of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown. Some weeks earlier, I had decided to cover the close-fought California governor’s race, and, after contacting both campaigns, I promptly began getting several e-mails a day from the efficient operation of former eBay CEO Meg Whitman. But Brown’s outfit was a different story. His press guy, Sterling Clifford, promised to put me on a list, but I never received anything. I called and e-mailed Clifford several times, but he didn’t respond.

Is Joe Manchin As Conservative As He Seems?
October 15, 2010

While it's still too early to pick the most surreal ad of the political cycle, the one where West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin grabs a rifle and starts shooting a cap-and-trade bill must rank pretty high. But hey, maybe this little authenticity twofer worked! Previous polls, after all, showed Manchin losing the WV Senate race to GOP businessman John Raese. Whereas today, a new Marshall University survey gives Manchin a ten-point lead. Maybe more struggling candidates should try blasting away at thick reams of legislative text. But that brings up another question.

Reid My Lips: Last Night Was a Disaster
October 15, 2010

Why Harry Reid agreed to have a debate with Sharron Angle is a bit of a mystery to me. If your campaign is based on portraying your opponent as loony, then why give that opponent a chance to look reasonable? Lyndon Johnson never debated Barry Goldwater. Then again, I’m no political strategist. And neither, I’ve come to see, is Harry Reid. So let’s focus on what matters now: that a debate was held in Nevada last night between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his Republican challenger Sharron Angle.

Sharron Angle's Self-Parody vs. Harry Reid's Missed Chances UPDATED
October 14, 2010

Having just watched the long-awaited, one-time-only debate between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican nominee Sharron Angle, I have to say I can’t imagine too many voters were swayed one way or another by what they saw, though the post-debate spin could change things. The debate format was unusual, to say the least: Every question was essentially a viewer-suggested attack line offered up by the moderator to one candidate or another; indeed, he articulated them with visible emotion, alternatively identifying with angry Tea Partiers or angry progressives. Reinforcing the sense of K