Monday November 1, 2010

Senate Roundup: Pro-life Candidates Race to the Finish

By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 1, 2010 ( – As election day rolls around the corner, pro-life candidates are poised to make some big and historic wins or even decide which party will control Congress. Here is a run-down of the important races:

California: Toss-Up

Pro-life Carly Fiorina (R) has relentlessly forged ahead in her campaign against Sen. Barbara Boxer, with the National Republican Senatorial Committee having dumped $3 million more into the effort to unseat the pro-abortion Democrat incumbent.

Since the beginning of September, Fiorina has polled behind Boxer in survey after survey of likely voters. The RCP average for the past week puts Boxer up by five, giving the Democrat 48.3 percent and Fiorina 43.3 percent of the vote.

Fiorina, however, has claimed that an internal poll shows movement in her direction and her campaign manager says the pro-life Republican will win by three points.

A TCJ (The Conservative Journal) Research poll claims to have Carly Fiorina up by two points over Barbara Boxer. The automated poll of 1000 likely voters was conducted between Oct. 30-31, and shows Fiorina at 49 percent, and Boxer at 47 percent. Just two percent remain undecided, and two percent favor some other candidate. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

A Fiorina win would be a huge blow to pro-abortion feminists, since Boxer has long been an icon of abortion activists in her long 18 years in the Senate.

Washington: Toss-Up

There is a chance that pro-life Dino Rossi (R) may upset pro-abortion incumbent Sen. Patti Murray (D). The three term Democrat first took office in 1993, but is polling consistently under 50 percent support, the danger zone for an incumbent.

Rossi, a Catholic and father of four, now leads Murray by two points (50 percent to 48 percent) according to Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning polling firm. PPP polled 2055 likely voters between October 29 – 31.

The race is extremely tight, and given the closeness will probably not be settled by election day. Washingtonians mail in their ballots, which will have to be hand counted. And then brace for the recounts.

West Virginia: Toss-Up

It is hard to see the GOP capturing the Senate without taking West Virginia. However, a series of missteps by GOP operatives have hurt pro-life candidate John Raese’s (R) campaign, while pro-life Democrat Joe Manchin has managed to recover ground that was lost due to voter fears that he would be a “rubberstamp” for the Obama agenda.

Manchin’s earlier support for the national health care reform nearly proved fatal to his campaign, but his hard right turn on that front has brought a number of West Virginia’s socially conservative Democrats back into his camp.

Since this is a special election, Manchin will have to face the voters again in 2012. He has been trying to sweeten the deal with voters, saying that he would consider voting with the Republicans if it were right for West Virginia.

Raese, who has undeniably strong pro-life credentials, has continued to put up a fight against Manchin by tying him to President Obama’s agenda. Raese has said that by sending him to Washington, D.C., voters would have a sure vote against the president’s agenda.

But polls show that Manchin’s messaging has started to resonate with voters, and he has now pulled slightly ahead. Rasmussen Reports show Manchin leading Raese among likely voters 50 percent to 46 percent, with a +/- 4 percent margin of error.

Both candidates are endorsed by West Virginians for Life, a state affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee.

Nevada: Toss-Up

The seat of pro-abortion U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is perhaps the jewel in the crown as far as U.S. Senate races go. The GOP is looking to topple Reid, the legislative godfather of President Obama’s national health care reform, the Affordable Care Act, which many pro-life groups have contended creates significant avenues for taxpayer-funded abortion.

Tea Party-backed and pro-life Sharron Angle (R) has waged an ad war for Reid’s seat, while the Senate Democrat’s leader has fought back saying Angle is “extreme.”

This race is going down to the wire, and voter turnout on November 2 will likely be the deciding factor.

Nevada pollster John Ralston says Democrats have a two-point edge in early voting tallies, but this is down from their usual five-point advantage. He adds that Reid will be in trouble if the early voting returns do not show him well ahead tomorrow, and if Angle posts double-digit leads among independents.

If Angle does take down Reid, Democrats are expected to turn to pro-abortion Sen. Charles Schumer, who comes from the socially liberal bastion of New York and is expected to win his own senate race handily, to head the party in the Senate.

Delaware: Likely Democrat

Pro-life Christine O’Donnell will need more than some tea-party magic to pull off a win in Delaware. She’ll need something closer to a miracle. But stranger things have happened at the polls.

Last week, Monmouth University poll showed that O’Donnell had cut pro-abortion candidate Chris Coons (D) 20-point lead in half: Coons, 51 percent, O’Donnell, 41 percent. But that still leaves her with the daunting task of managing a six point swing by tomorrow night.

Last week’s infamous Gawker sex hit piece on O’Donnell could end up landing the GOP candidate some sympathy among female voters who strongly favor Coons, which could translate into some much-needed votes.

But O’Donnell’s camp may have nullified that advantage by first blaming the hit piece on the Coons campaign – a charge which came off as opportunistic in light of the lack of evidence to back the claim.

Florida: Likely GOP

Pro-life Marco Rubio (R) is the clear favorite to win the battle royale for Florida’s Senate race. A charismatic conservative Republican and son of Cuban émigrés, Rubio now leads by a comfortable 17 points in most recent polls and the Real Clear Politics (RCP) average.

RCP Average shows Rubio leading Crist, 47 percent to 30 percent, with pro-abortion Democrat Kendrick Meek trailing at 19.2 percent.

The election is poised to sunset Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s career in the sunshine state and the national stage. Crist abandoned the GOP and launched an independent candidacy when the polls made it clear that Rubio was going to win the GOP nomination in a Tea Party landslide earlier this year.

Crist also changed more than his political affiliation, distancing himself from the political right on abortion and homosexual issues to court “moderate” voters. The strategy, however, has failed to reap results, and without the U.S. Senate, Crist’s rise to the political top ends in the Everglades with a whimper.

Wisconsin: Leans GOP

Democrat Sen. Russ Feingold, the co-author of the infamous McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation (much of which was gutted by the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United), is facing voter-mandated retirement this election.

Signs suggest that pro-abortion Feingold likely end up another veteran Democrat who will lose his seat on November 2 thanks to voter wrath over his vote for the highly unpopular Affordable Care Act and other policies of President Obama.

Feingold is likely to lose to pro-life Lutheran Ron Johnson (R). Johnson polled a strong 7 – 9 points ahead of Feingold in three polls of likely voters last week. Johnson’s RCP Average rating is 52.7 percent, while Feingold is 45 percent.

Pennsylvania: Toss-Up

Pro-life conservative Pat Toomey has been fighting one tough campaign with pro-abortion Democrat Jim Sestak, but now has taken a cautious lead in the polls on the eve of the election.

A PPP survey taken October 30 – 31 shows Toomey leading Sestak 51 percent to 46 percent. A whole set of polls taken over the past week show Toomey leading anywhere between two to seven points over Sestak. RCP average for Oct. 24 – 31 gives Toomey an advantage of +4.5 points.

Alaska: Leans GOP

The bitter GOP civil war between pro-life candidate Joe Miller (R) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the GOP incumbent who launched her own write-in bid after losing the primary to the Tea Party-backed Miller, has everyone guessing.

Although the race is rated “leans GOP” by RCP, some analysts say there is a chance that pro-abortion Scott McAdams (D) may pull off a come from behind upset.

However, a recent PPP poll rates Miller in the lead with 37 percent, and Murkowski at 30 percent, followed by McAdams at 30 percent.

Alaska is the scene of some pretty high drama. Big Journalism’s Andrew Breitbart claimed to have obtained audio of Alaskan media members plotting to smear Miller. In addition, last week dozens of Alaskan voters added their names as “write-in” candidates in “Operation Alaska Chaos” in order to get themselves added to a list of write-ins that the state Supreme Court said had to be provided to voters who asked for a list of candidates. Conservatives said the idea of providing a list of write-in candidates defeated the purpose of a printed ballot that limited the number of contenders.

In any event, Murkowksi’s write-in bid will mean her ballots will have to be counted by hand, and that may mean waiting a long night or several days to get a result from Alaska. And then, Americans can likely brace themselves again for another long set of recounts before the dust settles on this one.

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