But the best news for the GOP may actually be how well its incumbent governors perform. Kansas's Sam Brownback, in huge trouble in every recent poll, is ahead here by a whopping 13 percent. The same goes for Georgia's Nathan Deal, up a dominant 9 percent, and Florida's Rick Scott, up 6 percent. Ohio's John Kasich is up 6 percent, while Michigan's Rick Snyder and Wisconsin's Scott Walker are up by a more more modest 3 and 2 percent, respectively. By contrast, in rarely polled Connecticut, Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy finds himself in a hole, down 7 percent in a rematch of his 2010 contest.
But there's much more to this polling than the toplines. Indeed, there are a number of issues with YouGov's data and methodology that require serious scrutiny, so we've got lots more analysis after the jump.
Taken individually, few of these polls stick out as outliers. Kansas does stick, and arguably so does Florida, where YouGov gives Rick Scott his biggest lead yet in a nonpartisan poll. And the results in Michigan, North Carolina and Montana's Senate races buck recent trends that had shown improvements for Democrats. In general, though, YouGov's distance from the polling averages is generally plausible.
But when these polls are taken together, it's striking that in almost every case the results are rosier for the GOP than what other polls are suggesting. In seven of the 9 tightest Senate races, Republican candidates are ahead by more than the Huffington Post's Pollster average-in many cases (such as in Michigan and North Carolina) significantly.
Add to that a collection of implausibly tight results in states where Democratic incumbents have otherwise been cruising: Mark Warner's 10 percent lead in Virginia, Dick Durbin's 8 percent lead in Illinois, and Cory Booker's 7 percent lead in New Jersey are all about half of their current average margins.
There's precedent for this: In 2012, the margin of YouGov's final polls favored Republicans by an average 5 points, including large errors in competitive races in Nevada, Wisconsin, Connecticut, and Virginia-all in the GOP's favor.
At the very least, that means that these polls are at the Republican-friendly end of the spectrum of plausibility. But it also does raise some methodological questions, some of which the Times's Nate Cohn addresses.
At the top of the list is the sample's composition. Cohn observes that only 81 percent of Americans use the Internet and that those who don't "tend to be less educated, less affluent and more likely to be Hispanic or over age 65." And there's no doubt that YouGov had trouble reaching nonwhite respondents: Only 6 percent of its Michigan respondents are black (as opposed to 16 percent of the 2012 electorate).
Now, that's only the unweighted share of African-American respondents. YouGov attempted to correct this by weighting, giving smaller samples of under-represented populations larger weight in the final results. Problems, however, remain.
For one, YouGov must guess the electorate's composition, which means that it may underestimate minority voters. (And YouGov made it hard to assess their decisions, since the crosstabs don't specify the samples' weighted composition.) For another, upweighting a group to more than double its original size can wreak havoc on the final results. Small sub-samples can generate bizarre results, which get magnified during the weighting process.
That affected YouGov's measurement of the non-white vote in 2012, and it may have done so again this time. Michigan's two statewide Democratic candidates get just 69 and 57 percent of African-American respondents' vote, for instance. And Dana Houle notes that most of the races in which Democrats saw favorable results in this batch of polling (Alaska, Minnesota, and New Hampshire) are in overwhelmingly white states, i.e., those states in which Democrats are less reliant on harder-to-measure non-white voters.
But what really makes these YouGov polls seem particularly sloppy is that they did not include any notable third-party candidates.
Sure, third-party candidates often poll higher than they end up getting. But how in the world could they not include Eliot Cutler in Maine's Governor race, an independent who took 36 percent in the 2010 election (17 percent more than the Democratic candidate), and when his presence on the ballot this year is the only reason the election is competitive in the first place? Democrat Mike Michaud leads the two-way match-up against Republican Governor LePage by 13 percent, but this poll is utterly meaningless without Cutler.
And how can they not include the Libertarians running in Georgia when a huge question in these races is whether the general election will go to a runoff? How can they not include former Sen. Larry Pressler, whose candidacy is a key factor that could make South Dakota's Senate contest much tighter than expected? These are glaring omissions.
Questions still remain as to how reliable Internet polling can be, and how attentive these national panels tend to be to state-specific details that matter in close elections. And these specific polls, as we've elaborated above, have issues of their own. But they also do give us an indication of what a realistically bad Election Day would look like for Democrats-and it wouldn't be pretty.
A new online poll conducted by the nonpartisan research firm YouGov in partnership with the New York Times and CBS News shows Foley leading Democratic incumbent Dannel P. Malloy 42 percent to 33 percent.
Another 8 percent of respondents were leaning toward Malloy, compared to 6 percent for Foley in a hypothetical rematch of their razor thin 2010 contest.
Looking at the crosstabs of the latest poll, Malloy leads Foley 42 percent to 29 percent among women voters, with another 11 percent leaning toward the governor to just 6 percent lean for Foley.
Among men, Foley leads Malloy 51 to 26 percent, with 6 percent leaning towards each of the candidates.
One of the big takeaways from the poll is Foley's lead among independents, 50 percent to 15 percent over Malloy, with 10 percent leaning toward the Republican and 7 percent leaning toward the Democratic incumbent.
The Connecticut GOP's "urban outreach" program has been sent into a tailspin this week with the firing of Connecticut Black Republican and Conservatives (CTBRAC) Chairwoman Regina Roundtree from state representative Penny Bacchiocchi's campaign for lieutenant governor. Roundtree committed the unforgivable sin of talking about "white privilege" on her Facebook page, which evidently is not what the tea party voters in a GOP primary want to hear about. (Coincidentally New Britain's GOP Mayor Erin Stewart has also gotten into hot water recently with her Facebook postings -- what is it with the GOP and Facebook?) Almost immediately after Roundtree's comments were called "character assassination" by one of Bachiochi's opponents, Bacchiochi revved up the bus and gave Roundtree a shove. Bacchiochi, who has been embroiled in an ongoing controversy over her unfounded accusations that one of her opponents was engaging in a 'whispering campaign' about her inter-racial family, called Roundtree's comments "unacceptable" and dismissed her from the campaign. The knee-jerk move by the Bacchiochi campaign to throw Roundtree under the bus seems to reflect an anxiety that, despite winning official party endorsement at the GOP convention in May, Bacchiochi's campaign is floundering just as opponent David Walker seems to be gaining momentum, racking up endorsements from GOP heavy-hitters across the spectrum, and another opponent, Heather Bond Somers, is ramping up negative attacks on Bacchiochi.
As a woman married to a black man (not to mention a supporter of medical marijuana and drug reform), Bacchiochi had been seen as one of the candidates representing a new and more diverse face of the Republican Party, and this was supposed to be the year when the CT GOP got serious about reaching out to minority voters, who were largely responsible for the GOP losing every statewide race in 2010, and getting beaten by 10-1 margins in urban areas. Senate Minority Leader John McKinney and other party leaders attended the launch of CTBRAC earlier this year and Roundtree was made chair of the urban affairs coalition of the state GOP. Gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley has included an extensive "urban agenda" in his campaign platform, and paid Roundtree's consulting firm more than $7000 to set up meetings for him in the black community.
Was there ever any serious "vetting" of Roundtree to see if she is on board with the GOP's self-serving fantasy of a post-racial society? Of course not, because as it has now become clear the whole outreach strategy was merely cosmetic gimmickry from the start.
Now the mask has slipped and the GOP's image reboot is falling apart. Booted from the Bacchiochi campaign, Roundtree is also at risk of losing her roles in the state party and the Foley campaign (though Foley says he is keeping her on -- for now), all because she discussed the possibility of racism within the GOP.
As the New Haven Register wrote in a scathing editorial, the whole episode has shown that "Connecticut Republicans remain clueless about conversations of race." What might have been a teaching moment on race became instead a teaching moment on the obliviousness of Somers and the spinelessness of Bacchiochi.
Foley will surely continue his charade of urban outreach, because his support among minorities has such a low baseline he has nothing to lose. But will the GOP ever be able to attract minority voters if it cynically recruits incompetent or wildly off-message black conservatives, and gets upset when they so much as dare to mention racism?
I recently conducted an interview with Cole Stangler, a reporter for "In These Times."
Although not everyone reads "In These Times," they should.
Kurt Vonnegut once said, "If it weren't for In These Times, I'd be a man without a country."
In These Times was created by author and historian James Weinstein in 1976. His goal was to, ""identify and clarify the struggles against corporate power now multiplying in American society." You can read former Senator Paul Wellstone's observation about In These Times at the end of this article.
Here is the In These Times article about the race in Connecticut
Spoiler Alert, Connecticut: Jon Pelto Says He Isn't One
Meet the blogger and former legislator who just might be incumbent Governor Dan Malloy's worst enemy.
At first glance, Jonathan Pelto seems like another run-of-the-mill Democrat-a time-tested party loyalist. He was first elected to the Connecticut State House in 1984-his senior year at the University of Connecticut-where he served until 1993. During that time, Pelto worked as political director of the state party; after leaving the Capitol, he made a living as a high-profile liberal political consultant. In recent years, however, Pelto has explicitly concentrated his energies on reform: He has emerged as one of the state's most prominent left-wing critics of Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy, elected in 2010.
On his highly trafficked blog "Wait What?" Pelto regularly serves up acerbic columns interrogating Malloy's stances on a variety of subjects, including education reform, taxes, labor relations and budget cuts. "Jon Pelto," the anti-corporate education reform crusader Diane Ravitch recently proclaimed on her own blog, "is standing up for teachers and parents and everyone else who is not in the 1%."
On June 12, Pelto announced he was running for governor under the self-created Education and Democracy Party ticket. He and his running mate Ebony Murphy need to collect a minimum of 7,500 signatures by August 6 in order to appear on the ballot; they expect to reach that goal.
The major unions-the state AFL-CIO, Connecticut's SEIU locals, even the American Federation of Teachers-Connecticut-have all endorsed the incumbent Democrat. ("I love Jon Pelto and am supporting Gov. Malloy," tweeted AFT President Randi Weingarten last month.) The Connecticut Working Families Party is expected to follow suit when the state committee makes its final decision, which likely won't be until August.
Speaking to In These Times on the phone last week, Pelto says he's frustrated by the lack of official endorsements, but insists he's committed to the campaign. This interview has been abridged and edited.
Why are you mounting a challenge to Dan Malloy?
I supported Dan Malloy. I worked with Dan Malloy. But when he was sworn in as Dannel Malloy, he reversed course on a lot of policies.
In Malloy's first year, for example, he really went after state employees. What really changed my mind about his work, though, was when he became a huge advocate of the corporate education reform industry. He is the only Democratic governor to introduce a plan to do away with teacher tenure, which he did in February 2012. At that point, my blog really shifted to focusing on education issues and the education reform effort.
That was a key topic, although there were many others. What was clear was that Malloy had no intention of pivoting leftward on a variety of things I perceived to be major issues.
What are those issues?
The privatization of public education was number one.
Number two is tax policy. When Governor Malloy introduced a $1.5 billion tax package to balance the budget in 2011, he said to a joint session of the House and Senate that he didn't want to raise taxes more than 0.2 percent on those making over $1 million because he didn't want to "punish success." The taxes he have issued have disproportionately affected the middle class. We have the highest gas tax in history; the sales tax is fairly narrow and hits a lot of people in the middle-class and working families. We've created a perfectly regressive tax structure.
Number three is that Malloy has pushed through the biggest cuts in Connecticut history to our public colleges and universities.
Number four, he is-for lack of a better term-a fan of these corporate welfare programs that give nearly $1 billion in state funds, either in tax breaks or low-interest loans, to major companies. The most famous of these is Bridgewater, the largest hedge fund in the world. Its CEO, Ray Dalio, was paid $3.9 billion three years ago, and made $3 billion last year. Malloy offered Bridgewater $115 million in incentives if it agreed to move to downtown Stamford. He gave ESPN $25 million for a new studio, even though the studio had already been built. He gave more than $50 million to CIGNA Corp. to move their headquarters from Pennsylvania back to Connecticut. Malloy has been a real aficionado of giving money to companies with the promise that they create jobs over the course of 10 years.
And finally, Connecticut used to have the best campaign finance law in the country. But Malloy and the Democrats have really cut back its effectiveness by creating massive loopholes that allow for lobbyists and PACs-and even state contractors-to give money to candidates.
Why not run as a Democrat like Zephyr Teachout in New York?
In Connecticut, it would have been, in my mind, impossible to win a Democratic primary.
My fear was that Malloy would win and claim that those issues were not as important, because he won by 70-30 to win the Democratic primary. Running as a third party ensures that once you get on the ballot, you get to be heard all the way through the process.
In campaign management, we look at the percentage of people who want to reelect the incumbent. The highest that Malloy's ever gotten was 46 percent. Compare that to Andrew Cuomo, who has a 54 to 60 percent, depending on the candidate: Malloy is on the ropes anyway.
In the polls that have been conducted so far, you're not showing up. They've shown a very small percentage of people chose the option of somebody other than Malloy or Foley. Do you really think you have a chance of winning this election? And if you don't, what's the point of running?
These questions weigh heavily on me as I've thought about the issues, and I have to say my answer has changed a little bit over time. I stuck with the line-"I would only run if I was a credible candidate. I wouldn't run simply if I was a spoiler." But credible is a relative term. The goal is to win, but it's also to impact the debate on what it means to be a Democrat and the corporatization of government. And the best way to do that was to run as a third-party candidate.
I think I am already having an impact on the debate. I was an opponent of the Common Core, for example. The only one left in the field [of potential candidates] who still supports Common Core is Malloy. All the other candidates have pledged to do away with Common Core if they're elected and that has happened, in part, because of my positioning in the debate.
The idea of a credible candidate is one that can have an impact, and I believe that we are and we will have a significant impact on the race.
Last week, Bill Shortell, Political Director Eastern States Conference of Machinists and Carol Lambiase, International Rep, UE, retired wrote a piece entitiled "Jon Pelto and the challenge to the Connecticut Left" in which they presented a case agaisnt the candidacy of Jon Pelto for governor. The write-up was well received and resulted in Pelto writing a rebuttal to the commentary.
Responding to the feedback to his piece, Shortell wrote the following:
Pelto in response says that he expects Malloy to lose, and, yes, he will play the role of spoiler. He adds that achieving another John Rowland is not a problem, even now with the Right on the march.
As for Malloy, he recently moved to make teachers' evaluations more fair. This is part of the reason why he was endorsed by the CT Federation of Teachers.
Shortell also responded to the commentary from MLN member Larkspur:
In 2000 in Florida a re-examination of contested ballots was inconclusive, giving either candidate a majority by a few hundred votes, depending on how you counted. Nader got 100,000 votes. In his own book Nader says that exit polls found that if he had not been on the ballot, 38% of his votes would have gone to Gore, 25% to Bush. I.e. a net of 12,000 votes for Gore would have overwhelmed the shoddy balloting and delivered the Presidency to Gore.
Backing a spoiler is, of course, not the only way to "stand up and speak out." Leftists, by definition, find a way, not just to speak, but to make change:
for peace, for the environment, for racial justice, etc. In addition we have no problem with campaigning for a legitimate protest candidate in a safe district or state.
Expect more people speaking for and agaisnt Pelto's candidacy in the coming weeks.
Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) on Wednesday put a C-SPAN caller in his place after he asked the congressman to defend President Obama from a laundry list of scandals coveted by conservatives.
The caller rattled off a list including Benghazi, the IRS scandal, NSA surveillance, Fast and Furious and the Veterans Affairs scandal. He also asked Himes to address the theory that Obama was responsible for the 2013 federal government shutdown, not Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
"Any other president would have been laughed out of office by now if he'd have been a Republican," the caller said. "This guy gets away with murder!"
"That was quite a list," Himes said after the caller completed his recitation of 20 or so scandals and conspiracies.
The congressman began to defend Obama, but instead suggested a different news diet to the caller.
"I will try to attend to defend - actually, I'm not going to," Himes said. "Look, with all due respect, Bob, maybe a little more C-SPAN and a little bit less Fox News. That was the grab bag of everything that Fox News and my friends on the Republican Caucus of the House in particular have tried to hang around the president."
Himes isn't on my Dem Fav list, but he gets an A+ from me about how he handled this caller.
The plea resonated throughout the parking lot of the former Gateway Community College Long Wharf campus. The phrase "not one more deportation" emblazoned a placard in Spanish. Another one read, in capital letters, "We didn't cross the border. The border crossed us."
Brandishing these posters and banners, over 50 immigration activists and community members convened at 60 Sargent Dr. Tuesday afternoon to protest Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's dismissal of a federal request to temporarily house 2,000 undocumented children from Central America.
The rally stressed the plight of these displaced minors, who have crossed the southern U.S. border often in flight from violence, and called for comprehensive action from Malloy to ensure their well-being in Connecticut. Activists also sought to put a human face on the issue: Several Guatemalan children, most of whom crossed the border little over a month ago, spoke up during the event to share their stories of hardship and hopes for asylum.
Poverty among children living in Connecticut has increased by 50 percent since the Annie E. Casey Foundation began keeping track in 1990, according to an annual report from the foundation.
The sobering statistic was part of a mixed bag of good and bad numbers in the 25th annual KIDS COUNT Data Book released this week. The report tracks the well-being of children in all 50 states and the nation as a whole. The status of children is measured by indicators like kids' economic situation, education, health, and family situation. The report is based on data from 2010 to 2012.
Overall, Connecticut ranks seventh in child well-being, which is an improvement from last year when the state ranked at an all-time low of ninth place.
But the state's high overall rankings can be misleading, Connecticut Association for Human Services policy analyst Tamara Kramer said at a Tuesday press conference.
"We know the state's overall performance masks major disparities between children of color and their white peers," she said.
A landmark education funding trial was supposed to start on Sept. 9, but according to the parties involved it will be moved to January 2015 - months after the November election.
Last January, Superior Court Judge Kevin Dubay refused to push the trial past the November election as the state requested, but the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding - the group that filed the lawsuit - said Tuesday that they agreed to a trial date of Jan. 6, 2015.
The group has been fighting the state to properly fund pre-K through 12th-grade public schools since November 2005. They had been hoping in 2011, when Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy took office, that he would seek to settle the lawsuit since he was one of the original plaintiffs. But it was a tough ask for a governor who was already struggling to hold cities and towns harmless when he needed to find money to replace the federal stimulus funds the previous administration had used in order to boost the Education Cost Sharing formula.
The plaintiffs have continued to put pressure on the Malloy administration to settle the lawsuit - a move that may have been easier to do during his re-election campaign - but said they weren't upset with the January 2015 trial date.
"The January trial date will enable CCJEF to gather information from the fall term of the 2014-15 school year and give additional time for other evidence collection." CCJEF Project Director Dianne Kaplan deVries said Tuesday in a press release.
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