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    The Vance Report: Handicapping 2010 races, as the GOP tide swells

    Two recent polls, putting even the formidable Sen. Patty Murray on notice, are emboldening Republican challengers up and down the ballot.
    Sen. Patty Murray

    Sen. Patty Murray

    Another month has passed, and talk of the 2010 elections becoming a Republican landslide on the scale of 1994 grows more credible every day. Now the big missing piece for the Republicans, a top-tier challenger to Sen. Patty Murray, could be on the horizon. Will one of the big names such as Dave Reichert, Dino Rossi, or Susan Hutchson jump in?

    National polling data continues to look bad for the Ds. President Obama’s approval rating is down two points from last month, and now stands at 47 percent — and this is after the state of the union speech, which usually give the President a bump up in the polls. Republicans continue to lead the Congressional generic ballot by 2 percent, 45-43.

    In addition, there is the just-out Washington state Rasmussen poll, which found Sen. Patty Murray polling less than 50 percent of the vote against two completely unknown Republican challengers, and trailing Dino Rossi 46-48. This comes on the heels of Moore Information’s recent Washington state poll. Pollster Bob Moore found the generic ballot tied at 35-35, the best numbers he has seen since 1994 for Republicans. And he found that in a hypothetical Senate race, Dino Rossi leads Patty Murray, 45-43. If Sen. Murray is under 50 percent against challengers with zero name familiarity, then virtually every Democrat is vulnerable this year.

    The wave appears to be building, but Republicans still need candidates who are capable of riding it to victory. Massachusetts' new Sen. Scott Brown wasn’t just a guy with several thousand Facebook friends; he was a state senator with a resume and enough money to run a real campaign. In 1994, Republicans gained six U.S. House seats in Washington state, and they did it by fielding an all-star team of legislators, former legislators, and community leaders, all of whom ran serious, well financed campaigns.

    In a normal year, Democratic incumbents like Sen. Murray, Rep. Rick Larsen, Rep. Jay Inslee, and Rep. Adam Smith would be routinely re-elected, but this doesn’t look like a normal year. Republicans can’t and won’t out-raise their Democratic opponents, but they do need to raise enough money to get their message out. Even with the political wind at your back, candidates and fundraising matter.

    Federal Races

    Federal candidates had to file reports with the FEC if they had raised over $5,000 by December 31. The next filing period is in mid-April. In the Senate races, Sen. Murray reports just over $5 million in the bank, according to the Federal Election Commission. Throughout 2009, a crowd of Republican activists, unknown to voters and unable, so far, to raise money, stepped up to oppose Murray.

    In February of this year, state Sen. Don Benton (Vancouver) jumped in the race. Benton has won and lost a number of races in southwest Washington, and served briefly as the chairman of the Washington State Republican Party. A few days later, Bellingham businessman Paul Akers announced he was running. If no one else gets in, Benton and Akers are likely to battle it out for the nomination. Benton will be able to raise some money, and it is assumed Akers will put in some of his own money.

    The big question, now that the Republican tide is running so strongly,, is who else might jump in. Rep. Dave Reichert’s name continues to come up, and he hasn’t absolutely closed the door to a Senate race. Former TV anchor and King County Executive candidate Susan Hutchison likewise continues to be the subject of discussion, and insiders report she hasn’t ruled out a challenge to Murray. And then there is Dino Rossi, who has twice run against Gov. Chris Gregoire. The Rasmussen and Moore polls confirm that Rossi would be dead even with Murray the moment he announces, but is he interested in another bruising statewide throw-down?

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    Posted Wed, Feb 17, 7:40 a.m. Inappropriate

    I predict that Chris Vance will always predict "a rising Republican tide," always reference the results of conservative Bob Moore's push-polls, and will be the last person to ever concede that a Democrat has an edge in any race.

    If Chris Vance were worth reading, the Governor Dino Rossi and and a Republican Legislature would be governing our state.

    Why bother printing an article from someone who is an obvious party hack with virtually zero predictive validity?

    Posted Wed, Feb 17, 8:20 a.m. Inappropriate

    GOP tide? The economy should be a bit better, hopefully tens of millions more people will have access to health care while the great middle will figure out that the talk show hosts got HC wrong... The current bump could be short lived.

    Particularly since the GOP seems destined to put up true believers rather than moderates.


    Posted Wed, Feb 17, 9:08 a.m. Inappropriate

    If the Democrats had more moderates in their ranks they wouldn't be in this mess. This is "buyer's remorse" writ large.


    Posted Wed, Feb 17, 9:22 a.m. Inappropriate

    Don Benton? Paul Akers? Seriously? These are the Republican "big names" against $5 Million Dollar Woman Patty Murray? She'll win by at least a dozen points against these nobodies. It could be time to dust off Dino and at least make it a respectable loss for the fading R's.


    Posted Wed, Feb 17, 9:35 a.m. Inappropriate

    Tides also ebb. Sometimes very quickly. However I don't think we should view this as a tide. Nationally, the GOP still has a lot to answer for in its stewardship of the country during the Bush years. The GOP brand was and continues to be damaged goods with no coherent message or a leadership on the horizon to deliver that message.

    The national GOP may be celebrating Scott Brown's election, however they have done this while ignoring his very liberal policies on social and moral issues. Brown is very much a socially liberal Republican who smartly appealed to liberal interests in a liberal state. His election victory made great media for the GOP, however Mr.Brown is not the face of the GOP.

    The national and Washington state's GOP have fractured leadership which is dominated by narrowly focused social and moral interests. This is hardly the position upon which a mount a campaign to gain control of either the legislature or executive house.

    At best, I am afraid this is a pretty small tide.

    -- Bella


    Posted Wed, Feb 17, 9:42 a.m. Inappropriate

    Rick Larsen is going to lose to John Koster.


    Posted Wed, Feb 17, 10:18 a.m. Inappropriate

    This is very good news for John McCain. Oops, he's in bigger trouble than any supposed trouble than Patti is, Tea Baggers dislike him for his "moderation". Patti will do fine this fall, she campaigns well, has the resources, and has actually gotten some work done in Washington City. She'll do just fine until we can elect a liberal senator from this state.


    Posted Wed, Feb 17, 10:46 a.m. Inappropriate

    Evidence of a Republican tide is everywhere. From the Real Clear Politics blog: "In Alabama, Republicans picked up a Democratic-held seat in the state House. Funeral home owner K.L. Brown (R) defeated teacher Ricky Haley (D) by nearly 14 points, giving Republicans 45 seats compared to the Democrats' 60. The seat opened because of the death of the Democratic incumbent."

    Read the memos from Gallup, CNN, or ABC/Washington Post on their recent polling. Again, all available at realclearpolitics.com

    There is no doubt that today the numbers look just like 1994. But the election is a long way off.

    Posted Wed, Feb 17, 11:09 a.m. Inappropriate

    Come on now Crosscut editor. If you aren't going to run an objective political analysis, please provide some balance with one from a bona fide Democrat.

    Posted Wed, Feb 17, 11:54 a.m. Inappropriate

    Really? Chris Vance? If you're going to feature party hacks predicting their own party's dominance (surprise!), you'll need to take the word "news" out of your self-description. Or create something that works more like a traditional op-ed page--Vance's piece looks more like it's supporting Crosscut's editorial consensus, though I doubt that's the case. By the way, apparently blessed with "THE math," Karl Rove predicted Republicans would mop the floor with Democrats in 2008. Why don't you invite Karl to weigh in on Patty Murray's race? I'm sure he'd see it objectively, too, just like Chris Vance.

    I like what you do--but not this time.


    Posted Wed, Feb 17, 1:46 p.m. Inappropriate

    I wonder what is going to happen with the Tea Party / Club For Growth candidates in Republican primaries. I have a gut feeling that most of the Tea Party types are too conservative for most Washington Voters, but that they may be very attractive to Republican primary voters. I'm thinking of the Ellen Craswell sort of scenario: a highly energized and very conservative base could choose an unelectable candidate.
    I think that the Tea Party is the wild card in this election. Republicans may have a series of very tough primaries, and they may come out of them with many candidates that are not seen as mainstream enough by average voters. Of course, the Tea Party may agree to become a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican party, to the point where they don't threaten to "primary" establishment Republican candidates. It should be interesting.
    Chris, what is your honest impression of the Republican primary situation, and is there a danger of the Craswell scenario?


    Posted Wed, Feb 17, 2:15 p.m. Inappropriate

    Bella, I couldn't disagree more. You said: "The national GOP may be celebrating Scott Brown's election, however they have done this while ignoring his very liberal policies on social and moral issues." Yes, that's exactly the reason you're seeing the tide. People from both sides of the "social" aisle are putting those issues aside, waking up to the radical fiscal policies that are threatening future generations, and voting for ANYONE that's willing to turn the economy around. Sure, the GOP has just as much to answer for, which is why it's the newcomers like Brown (and John Koster in the case of my district...) that are winning.


    Posted Wed, Feb 17, 5:27 p.m. Inappropriate

    To sdstarr:

    So far I am not seeing evidence of Tea Party vs. Establishment primary races. But it is early.

    Posted Wed, Feb 17, 6:53 p.m. Inappropriate

    Pointing to Republicans picking up a House seat - In ALABAMA - and a Senate seat in Mass. where the Democrat ran a pathetically slip-shod campaign is pretty weak evidence for the case that any Republican in WA can beat someone like Patty Murray - who has a solid track record of being a very aggressive campaigner.

    Posted Wed, Feb 17, 8:06 p.m. Inappropriate

    "...Sure, the GOP has just as much to answer for, which is why it's the newcomers like Brown (and John Koster in the case of my district...) that are winning...."

    I am sorry, but for lack of knowledge I cannot speak about Mr. Koster. I have never heard of him, however in the case of Mr. Brown, he certainly and immediately adhered to the dictates and talking points of GOP leadership once he was in the Senate. I don't think it prudent to expect very much.


    Posted Wed, Feb 17, 11:34 p.m. Inappropriate

    Republicans should coalesce around Jaime Herrera for Congress! She can win and make the Republican Party stronger and more appealing!

    For Patty Murray’s seat I hope Dino Rossi runs!!! Or Marcia McCraw!

    The other Republicans can’t win and I wouldn’t even want to vote for them.


    Posted Wed, Feb 17, 11:37 p.m. Inappropriate

    I won’t support Susan Hutchison because she endorsed Mike Huckabee for president. Huckabee pardoned Maurice Clemmons – the guy who shot and killed four police officers in Lakewood.


    Posted Thu, Feb 18, 12:45 a.m. Inappropriate

    Gotta give Chris credit for always looking at that silver lining. Re the recent GOP victories in NJ, Virginia, and Massachusetts, I wonder what those results would've look like in a high-turnout presidential-year election. Odd numbered years and special elections attract way smaller numbers and the results skew conservative.

    RE Washington state, don't overlook it's now a Top Two primary election. In the Senate race, that means Patti Murray with something in the vicinity of 50 percent, plus or minus, and then a string of also-ran "prefers" Republican candidates. And I'd expect a Teabagger, with Sarah Palin joining the campaign, the whole works, would gather the most votes for the second position on the November ballot.

    And the results in November? Do we remember Ellen Craswell...? I almost feel sorry for those poor Republicans, they have nobody on their bench who's presentable enough in a high-profile state-wide race, nobody who can prevail in a primary free-for-all against a popular incumbent.

    I predict a return to the Scoop and Maggie days, when the Republicans regularly put up token candidates against the two popular incumbent Democrats.

    Posted Thu, Feb 18, 7:43 a.m. Inappropriate

    Chris Vance says, "So far I am not seeing evidence of Tea Party vs. Establishment primary races."

    That's right because just like 1994, the candidates being chosen are the sort of conservatives that appeal across the board ... like the aforementioned John Koster. If you know about him, you know that everyone to the right of Jim McDermott likes him. The Tea Party folks, libertarians, the Mainstream Republicans, the "establishment" Republicans, most moderates, and even many Democrats. Even if they disagree with Koster on some issues, they like him because he is intelligent, principled, and consistent, yet he can work well with people who disagree with him.

    This sort of great candidate is just the sort that's coming out to run this year. And if things keep going this way, it'll be a bloodbath.

    It's not that people are saying "let's go Republican!" They don't like Republicans either, but they do like intelligent, principled, and consistent people who will do what they can to stop massive spending increases and losses in liberty.

    R on Beacon Hill: November won't be a presidential-year election. And your claim that off-years "skew results conservative" ignores the facts of history. 1996: Republicans went from 53 to 55 Senators, while losing 8 Congressmen but maintaining a firm majority, 228-206. 2000: Republicans went to 50 Senators, but again, held on to strong control of the House, losing only two seats, 221-212. 2004: Republicans picked up four Senators, going to 55; they gained three seats in the House, going to their strongest majority since 1946, at 232-202.

    Out of the last three presidential elections prior to 2008, the Republicans won majorities in each house of the legislature in all three, with gains **over the midterm elections** in two of those three.

    So ... you were saying?

    Indeed, what the record shows is that Republicans win especially when a. people believe they represent true economic conservatism, or b. the country is in economic dire straits and spending is way up, and the Republicans are not in power. If both are true, we see what we saw in 1994. And that's what we seem to be heading for in 2010.

    Not that there are not other factors ... the huge wins in 2004 were in large part about national security, for example. Social issues played a small role too. But economic factors -- to be specific, the obviously justified fear of what a John Kerry administration would do to spending -- was one of the most important factors. Unfortunately, the electorate was blinded by the Obama aura in 2008 and forgot that they actually cared about keeping spending down. Or maybe they incredibly believed Obama wouldn't jack up spending by hundreds of billions of dollars, following the failed Keynesian approach that got us nowhere in the 30s, or any time since.

    But they realize their error. Unless something big changes, the Republicans will win big this year, and probably take control of the House. And even in Washington State, we will see the largest number of Republicans in the state House than we've seen since the 90s, probably. The vote to suspend I-960 was only very narrowly won: next year, they won't have the votes in the House to do something like this (whether Democrats control the House or not).


    Posted Thu, Feb 18, 11:29 a.m. Inappropriate

    Pudge, you say that voters "do like intelligent, principled, and consistent people who will do what they can to stop massive spending increases..." Would that they could find such folks in the Republican party.

    What was the Republican ("consistent people") track record on deficit spending during the Reagan/Bush years? and during the W years? What did 8 years of W do to the national economy?

    Republicans have a lot to answer for.

    Posted Thu, Feb 18, 11:50 a.m. Inappropriate

    "R on Beacon Hill" writes: "What was the Republican ("consistent people") track record on deficit spending during the Reagan/Bush years?"

    Were Tip O'Neill, Jim Wright and Tom Foley Republicans?

    "and during the W years?"

    Well, now that's an entirely different matter. The Republicans won control of Congress and after only about a year of reforms, quickly became what they beheld in the Democrats. And the people rightly turned them out. But the Democrats never learned the lesson of why they were removed from power. They picked right up where they'd left off, and are about to be shown the door again. Did the Republicans learn their lesson? We'll know in a couple years.

    The lesson is that the American people have finally realized that if the government continues to grow in size, intrusiveness, power and cost at this rate it will destroy the country. We don't want to become another Greece.


    Posted Thu, Feb 18, 12:59 p.m. Inappropriate

    dbreneman, you'll have credibility when Republican (or "prefers" Republican) candidates denounce, or apologize for, the excesses their party was responsible for during the W years. Until then, Republican bluster about "fiscal responsibility" is just that: bluster.

    Tip, Jim Wright, and Tom Foley were no Republicans but they did acknowledge that voters had elected Reagan, so they worked with him out of respect to the office.

    And they didn't hate government enough to try to stymie every single initiative that Reagan put forward, nor subject every one of his bills to a Senate filibuster.

    Posted Thu, Feb 18, 3:43 p.m. Inappropriate

    This is an interesting discussion, but completely irrelevant to what I wrote.

    I am not trying to be a Republican cheerleader or apologist. My intent is to offer factual information and analysis.

    Posted Thu, Feb 18, 5:44 p.m. Inappropriate

    I agree with Chris, there's plenty of evidence. The Rs are making dents in the Ds due to their "filibuster everything" strategy that makes the majority Ds looks like do-nothings. The bulk of the voters are clueless that it's because of the U.S. Senate's arcane 60-vote minimum that this is happening; they only see results not happening.

    I also agree with dbreneman (if the Democrats had more moderates in their ranks they wouldn't be in this mess. This is "buyer's remorse" writ large). However, just a few years ago one could insert "Republicans" in his sentence. Both parties have been guilty of overreaching, and now the parties have figured out that the filibuster is their path towards regaining power, which is their primary objective, far ahead of getting anything substantial done on behalf of the country. Both sides even shied away from establishing a deficit-reduction panel!


    Posted Thu, Feb 18, 7:53 p.m. Inappropriate

    I think there is a lot of wishful thinking going on here. First, you ignore that GOP fundraising and distribution of those funds are still controlled at the national and state level by extraordinary conservative elements of the party. These are morally and socially conservative as well as fundamentally Christian entities who are now facing challenges from within and outside the party to become more inclusive. This is likely not going to happen very quickly. Look at the Texas governor race, Arizona and Florida US Senate races. These are being contested with support by highly conservative elements of the national party. These campaigns have garnished national attention vis-a-vis the GOP's media efforts. At best, a number of the candidates in these these races are successfully appealing to the very right of the GOP. This is what I attempted to convey in my suggestion in previous posts that the GOP is fractured and lacks a coherent message.


    Posted Thu, Feb 18, 8:48 p.m. Inappropriate

    "R on Beacon Hill" writes: "dbreneman, you'll have credibility when Republican (or "prefers" Republican) candidates denounce, or apologize for, the excesses their party was responsible for during the W years."

    Which is, of course, the whole point of what I wrote, isn't it? Or did not you read it?

    "Tip, Jim Wright, and Tom Foley were no Republicans but they did acknowledge that voters had elected Reagan, so they worked with him out of respect to the office."

    Only to the extent that Reagan's budgets were "Dead on Arrival" at Capitol Hill. Reagan tried to "starve the beast" but the Democrats in Congress kept shovelling taxpayer dollars into its maw. We'll see in about two years if either party has learned the lesson. The people can't afford any more government. It's reached the breaking point.


    Posted Thu, Feb 18, 9:07 p.m. Inappropriate

    I always have a good laugh when I see conservative Repub's appeal to the memory of St. Reagan in order to substantiate their position. Reagan was socially rather liberal and fiscally conserative. That is hardly what should be described as the patron saint of today's GOP. Actually the Senate was controlled by the GOP in 1982 and it was the first time it overrode Reagan's very first veto of an economic supplemental spending bill.


    Posted Fri, Feb 19, 7:05 a.m. Inappropriate

    And yet, Bella, the only one in this exchange who's invoked Reagan favorably is me, and I'm neither a Conservative nor a Republican.


    Posted Fri, Feb 19, 7:52 a.m. Inappropriate

    dbreneman, I should have clarified in my post that I was referencing the mass of current conservative Repub's. I am a Republican...a very liberal one, and I am terribly disturbed by how the party in this state and nationally has been co-opted and controlled by very narrow interests and beliefs. They evoke the meomory of Reagan yet never get around to realizing this gentleman nominated a very moderate and exceptionally intelligent woman to the Supreme Court and humanely cleared a path for undocumented residents to remain in this country. You certainly won't find that kind of thinking in today's GOP, and I am completely disgusted when I see and hear today's GOP using Reagan as a prop to support a non inclusive, intelectually and fiscally shallow national and state agenda. It's completely wrong. They have taken a good party and ran it right into the gound.


    Posted Fri, Feb 19, 10:35 a.m. Inappropriate

    Bella, I was a Republican at one time. The third generation of my family to be a precinct committeeman in my neighborhood, and a member of the Pierce County Central Committee (headed at that time by the remarkably talented Ben Bettridge). Then came the onslaught of the Jesus Nazis, which culminated in the Ellen Craswell campaign. That was the last straw for me. It's fine for a fringe group to fall on its own sword like that, but to, in the process, marginalize the party that was the only alternative to the socialists than have come to dominate Olympia was sheer insanity. Fifteen years on, the state GOP is still burdened by that legacy. If the Republican party once again becomes the party of personal freedom and personal responsibility I'll consider rejoining it. But they have to prove that they've reformed. Sorry I misinterpreted your comment.


    Posted Sat, Feb 20, 12:53 a.m. Inappropriate

    How you can continue labeling Jaime Herrera "the favored" in Wa. 03, completely ignoring her co-sponsorship and votes to force childcare centers into unions escapes me. (HB 1329)

    What sort of "conservative Republican" would vote to divert a portion of what is paid to childcare providers to care for low-income families children and give it to unions?

    Since when does a Republican believe in taking money away from children and give it to bloated union coffers?


    Posted Sat, Feb 20, 5:34 p.m. Inappropriate

    Chris -

    you don't appreciate that Washington state is NOT New Jersey, is NOT Virginia, is NOT Massachusetts. Instead, Washington state is, for all intents, Puget Sound and is dominated by the demographic that has descended upon the region in the past 20 years, when we last knew each other.

    This is a demographic that reliable returns Ms. Murray and Ms. Cantwell to the temple of doom on the Potomac.

    There is NO Republican talent in Washington state, notwithstanding Kemper Freeman's bankroll that has financed statewide candidates at least as far back as 1990, beginning (?) with Bob Williams. Unlike the Democrats, the Republicans in Washington have practiced eaten their young. Not a good long-run strategy. Now is the famine.

    Having fled the Sodom and Gommorah of Seattle, I now live where people are *real*, not mere symbols. And there's a Republican governor here that would put to shame any Republican (or Democrat) office holder in your state of decline.

    You've lived in the miasma too long. Your party's only hope is for the entire west coast to slide off into the Pacific. *And if that were to happen, wouldn't shed a tear....)

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