Surprising Dem strength in Arizona senate race
When the Republicans have nothing more than a flubbed line from John Kerry to hang their hopes on, you know the situation is desperate. It's actually been funny to watch them blow it out of all proportion and their reaction confirms our sense that Rove is slipping. Our best guess is that the affair was a net loss for Republicans, because a) it kept the discussion on Iraq and b) the American public doesn't fetishize the army as Washington does. This is one of those Beltway things that the public doesn't relate to very well. Meanwhile, Republican candidates started talking about Iraq, which is absolutely kryptonite to their campaigns, when any smart pollster would have advised them to keep their mouths shut.
When Seymour Hersh talks about American soldiers gunning down a soccer team in Iraq, the public's sense is not to blame the soldiers, or Hersh for reporting it, but Washington for putting our soldiers in this mess. The outrage over Kerry's remarks is feigned by "Anal Cyst" Limbaugh, a long line of Republican candidates and the cadre of non-volunteers at NRO, and, yes, the public knows the outrage is fake. Bottom line: the issue has further demoralized Republican voters and will negatively affect turnout.
The news cycle abhors a vacuum, and, as we said, when there's nothing more than Kerry to talk about for two cycles, you know it's a quiet week. Meanwhile, Democrats have started pouring money into the Arizona senate race, where early voting has shown surprisingly strong turnout for Democrat Jim Pederson. The National Journal reports via its blog:
Why AZ? Here's a memo from pollsters Paul Harstad and Chris Keating the DSCC will release today: "According to our October 29 to 31 survey of 745 likely Arizona voters, fully 30% of the Arizona electorate has already voted. We expect that perhaps up to two-fifths of the voters in this election will vote early or by absentee ballot. In our October 8 to 31 tracking polls (since early voting started) we have interviewed a total of 594 early voters. Among these early voters, Jim Pederson is leading Jon Kyl by 4 points: 44% for Pederson compared to 40% for Kyl, with 4% for other candidates and 12% refused. This 4% Pederson lead is all the more remarkable since registered Republicans and Democrats are equally likely to have voted early, and in fact there are more Republicans than Democrats in this early-voting sample of 594 respondents."
Arizona hasn't been on anyone's list of competitive states. This news will strike fear into the hearts of Republican candidates across the nation.