Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday with the Senators: "It's the Money" Edition

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The quarterlies are out, and as expected, there are some interesting numbers in how much money was raised, or not raised, since the beginning of April. All financial data, unless otherwise noted, comes from the FEC filing forms.

Remember that winners attract money. You can see that most clearly in races that are not really contested. So, for example, in Iowa, Tom Harkin (D) will easily retain his seat. He raised $632,945 2nd quarter, for total cash on hand of over $4 million, compared to his challenger Reed (R) who raised $11,765, for remaining cash on hand of $293. You can’t send out a Christmas Card mailing for $300. While not all disparities are so vast, they certainly exist in the races that are considered safe.

North to Alaska, where incumbent Ted Stevens (R) only raised $745,079 to Mark Begich’s (D) $1,034,660. While Stevens still has double the amount of cash on hand ($1.6 million to about $800,000) this is a trend which should not be overlooked. It’s also reflected in the polls, with the latest showing Begich slightly ahead 47 – 45 (Research 2000). Yes, the polls do indicate slight slippage in some polls, but everything is still in the margin of error, and this is ALASKA, where Ted Stevens has held this seat since 1968.

Over in Colorado, Mark Udall (D) continues his march to victory, having raised $2,038,611 to Bob Schaffer’s (R) $1,431,545, giving him a 2:1 cash on hand lead: $3.9 million to $2.8 million. Udall is still up by over 9 points, and there is no reason to believe anything other than “Democratic pick-up” as we’ve been saying all along.

In the Blue Grass state of Kentucky, Bruce Lunsford (D) picked up $3,098,486 to Mitch McConnell’s (R) $3,021,500. Now there is still a huge cash on hand disparity, since McConnell has about $9 million to Lunsford’s $1.3 million. But this is remarkable in a race that all the CW called safe for McConnell at the outset. The polls still show McConnell up by about 7 BUT he won his last re-election by 30 points, so this is not a good trend.

Down in Louisiana, Mary Landrieu (D) collected slightly more than her challenger (it’s so weird to write “John Kennedy” and then stick and “R” after it – kind of like violating a law of nature); $1,541,109 to $1,457,641. But she still leads cash on hand $5.5 million to $2.7 million. She’s up in the polls, and the most interesting cross tab is that only 67% of McCain voters plan to vote for Kennedy, despite McCain’s growing lead over Obama in Louisiana.

The money raise in Maine is phenomenal. While the overall numbers put Susan Collins (R) ahead $1,056,109 to Tom Allen’s (D) $1,000,625, and have her leading cash on hand $5.1 million to $3.1 million, it’s interesting to note where the money has been coming from. Open Secrets only has numbers through May for this race, but look at this: through 21 May, Collins raised $3.4 million from individual donors and $2 million from PACs, while Allen raised $3.3 million from individual donors and a little under $400k from PACs. Call me crazy, but I think individual donors tend more to be local and vote, and PACs tend to be more national and don’t vote. Most recent poll has Collins up by 10 down from up 25 last month.

In Minnesota, Al Franken (D) raised $2,336,940 to Norm Coleman’s (R) $2,389,866. Sure, Coleman still has a cash advantage of $7.2 million to $4.2 million, but if he were a shoe-in the disparity would have grown, and it shrunk from a $3.5 million lead to a $3 million lead. Again, Coleman takes a lot of PAC money. Expect to see new polling in the not too distant future since Jesse Ventura decided against running. Most recent poll shows Franken ahead, but within the margin of error.

Back down south to Mississippi, where in the “A” race, Cochran (R) has $1.1 million cash on hand, and his challenger didn’t even bother filing. However, in the more interesting “B” race, Roger Wicker (R) raised $1,049,864 to Ronnie Musgrove’s $820,747. The polls are too close to call.

In New Hampshire, Jeanne Shaheen (D) bested John Sununu (R), raising $1,630,172 to $1,135,364. He still wins in cash on hand $5.1 million to $2.1 million, but again, Shaheen has won every poll in the past year (except for one ARG poll last December) with an average lead of 12.5 points. Democratic pick-up!

Back over to New Mexico, another pick-up state. (Remember, "Vote for the Udall Closest to You!") Tom Udall (D) raised $2,167,762 to Steve Pearce’s $1,208,980, giving him a cash on hand lead of $2.8 million to about $500k. Plus, he’s up by over 20 points, and the lead keeps growing. As I’ve said previously, I don’t know why anyone would consider this a contested state.

Up the left coast to Oregon. The CW was saying “red”, and I didn’t get that, since I was (and am) convinced we win this one. Seems a lot of donors agree with me, giving $1,913,421 to Jeff Merkley (D) and only $1,332,031 to Gordon Smith (R). Smith still hold a vast cash on hand lead, $4.4 million to $570k but the trend is there. This is a HUGE turnaround when you consider that at the end of first quarter, Smith had taken in a total of $5.8 million to Merkley’s $1.3 million. Most recent polling shows a dead heat.

In Virginia, there is not even a contest: Mark Warner (D) raised almost $3 million to Jim Gilmore’s (R) half a million, leading to a cash on hand disparity of $5 million to $116,770. No surprises here.

There are two additional races I’d like to mention that don’t get enough air time: Texas and North Carolina.
First, in Texas, yes, John Cornyn (R) raised $1,697,387 to Rick Noriega’s $966,070 and has a 10:1 cash on hand advantage: $9.1 million to about $900,000. Rasmussen indicates that Cornyn is polling below 50%, although still winning. However, the Texas Lyceum poll has the race at even. No reason to be anything other than hopeful.

And finally, we come to North Carolina. I mentioned a month ago that there could be money problems, and that was when Liddy Dole (R) had raised $9.5 million, with $3.1 million cash on hand to the end of the first quarter, to Kay Hagan’s (D) $1.5 million raised, with $317,311 cash on hand. Well, well, Dole raised $1,690,387 second quarter, and Hagan raised $1,537,748. Cash on hand leaves Dole with $2.7 million to Hagans’s $1.2 million. But that’s not the end of it. The DNC has committed $6.5 million for NC ads, and another million for polling. Talk about evening out the playing field.

If you haven’t noticed, all the Democrats cited have links to their home pages. Makes it easy to find out all about the candidates, and REALLY EASY when you’re there to make a contribution.