Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska Retiring

Democratic Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska is forgoing reelection in 2012, opting instead for retirement. Read the story at Politico here.

This makes the math for the Democrats to hold the Senate exceedingly difficult. Nebraska is Republican state and there's no clear Democratic candidate other than former Senator Bob Kerrey. While Kerrey was quite popular, he has lived in New York City for the past 11 years--not exactly a plus in the Cornhusker State.

All of this means that the Montana Senate race, already one of the tightest and most important in the country for determining party control of the chamber, just became--that's right--even more important.

Hold on to your hats!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

New Poll in MT Senate Race

There's a new poll on the Montana Senate Race tonight by Public Policy Polling. Read the results here.

Four quick points about the poll:

1. The race has been dead even since the very beginning. There has been hardly any change in the numbers in this new poll.

2. This consistency is NOT surprising. You have two candidates who are well-known and are well-defined. It will be hard to move public opinion with campaign advertising in such an environment. In order to move voters in such a situation, absent either an external event that shakes up the race or a mistake by one of the candidates, lots of money will have to be spent on advertising to have any effect on voter opinion at all.

3. The fact that a significant amount of money has already been spent by outside organizations further underscores the second point. That said, money spent on advertising this past summer was not generally targeted at Montana voters (many of whom were spending their precious warm days outside and away from television), but at the political elite and the donor base. This advertising served to get the base excited and perhaps get them to give money. The organizations that did spend money on advertising were also sending signals to other political organizations about the importance of this race and the effort they plan to expend in the upcoming months on the Montana Senate race. This signaling can cause other organizations to take note and decide that the Montana Senate campaign is worth their time and attention as well.

4. Given that the fundamentals of this race have changed very little thus far, I expect--like most close congressional races--that this campaign will boil down to the enthusiasm of each candidate's base and the ground game. For all the money that is spent on advertising, more important and more significant are the resources and efforts spent on connecting with voters personally and through social media.