The Vote-O-Meter has a slightly blue day

Straws in the wind from California, in the campaign war chests, and in late-breaking deciders.

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The Crosscut Vote-O-Meter

Straws in the wind from California, in the campaign war chests, and in late-breaking deciders.

The Crosscut daily barometer of liberal-conservative trends in the state notched a half-point blue-ward today, though it's still firmly in the Land of Red.

One reason for the shift is news that the Democrats have managed to maintain their lead in campaign spending, with about a 30 percent edge in direct campaign spending in the key House races. This means they can probably withstand all the independent expenditures those favoring Republicans will throw at the incumbents in the final week.

Another straw in the wind is the suddenly widening lead of Sen. Barbara Boxer in California. Boxer has been tracking Sen. Patty Murray during the last week, holding a slight, 2-3 percent lead over Carly Fiorina. Now suddenly, Boxer has bolted to a 4-9 point margin. (It didn't help that Fiorina had to be admitted to a hospital for a minor infection.) Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight now puts the odds for a GOP majority of the U.S. Senate at 14 percent.

A third indicator, at least in Washington state, is that where the Democrats are in the contest and have a strong "ground game" to turn out voters, they have slightly improving chances of prevailing, amid the general rout. With all the money in the Murray race in this state, and the high stakes for unions and other interested parties, Murray will have a good turnout operation.

Perhaps the most intriguing wild card is a new AP Poll showing a high degree of undecided voters, still wavering but mostly drifting away from incumbents. The poll puts the undecideds, as high as 30 percent of the voters (normally at this late date, the figure would be about half that). These undecideds are breaking 45-38 in favor of Republicans, so on balance this is a positive twitch of the needle for the GOP. My hunch, however, is that a lot of undecideds are shifting away from an initial, emotional fascination with outsider candidates with little experience, and now having second thoughts. However, there aren't many such candidates in Washington, where the GOP did a generally good job of recruiting plausible challengers.


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