5.02.2008

Congressional diary: With one day to LA-06, Fossella steals some attention

The polls open tomorrow morning in Louisiana's 6th district. It is a testament to Don Cazayoux's advantage that the expectations favor him so much; it was just on April 6th that I wrote my first preview of this special election, describing the race as a toss-up. With the latest poll showing the Democrat leading by 9%, it would be a remarkable comeback for Woody Jenkins to pull through a win after all. But this is not the Democratic primaries and the expectation game matters very little: A win is a win is a win in a congressional election, with the winner becoming congressman and the loser staying at home; so the only reason Democrats should be upset about expectations being too optimistic is that it would be harder for them to paint a narrow loss as a "moral victory" (not that those attempts ever work that well anyway).

Republicans did not give up on the race as some were expecting them to; despite facing a financial crunch and an unexpectedly competitive race in MS-01, they purchased significant ad buys and were boosted by the participation of other groups like Club for Growth and Freedom's Watch that jumped in to help Woody Jenkins. Yesterday, Democrats made their final push to help Cazayoux pick up this conservative district. Swing State Project reports that the DCCC just dumped more than $250,000 of various expenditures, including a new ad buy against Jenkins. This means that the DCCC has spent a total of more than $1,1 million in LA-06's special election! Even for a committee as rich as the DCCC, that is indeed a lot of money (note that the DCCC has already spent as much in MS-01 and there are still 10 days to the runoff).

Meanwhile, some of the attention was diverted to New York yesterday as news broke that Rep. Vito Fossella of NY-13 (Staten Island) had been arrested in Arlington, Virginia on DWI charges. Fossella faces a day in court on May 12th. While politicians have survived DWI charges before (see: Bush, George) and it is unlikely that Fossella resigns or retires because of this, it could potentially make his life more difficult in the general election. Democrats have not been able to make this race competitive in recent cycles, however, with Fossella winning in 2006 (a terrible year for New York Republicans) with more than 56%.

Finally, a new Rasmussen poll from the New Hampshire Senate race shows Jeanne Shaheen leading Senator Sununu 51% to 43%. This is a 1% tightening in the past month but also the first time Shaheen crosses 50% in a Rasmussen poll. For an incumbent to be under 50% is already a sign of vulnerability, to say nothing of the challenger crossing that threshold in the other direction. Note that Rasmussen's polls have always shown a tighter race than other polling institutes that have surveyed this race; Shaheen is often found to be leading Sununu by double-digits and has held that lead since the very beginning, in a replay of the 2006 Pennsylvania Senate race.

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