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Live Blog: Convention Politics and the Fall Elections

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10:05 a.m. "Convention Politics and the Fall Elections" is the second panel this morning at the Humphrey Institute's series of forums entitled, America's Future: Conversations about Politics and Policy during the 2008 Republican National Convention. The discussion is moderated by former Minnesota Congressman Tim Penny (President, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation). The panelists are:

* Thomas Mann (Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution)
* Ramesh Ponnuru (Senior Editor, National Review)
* Larry Sabato (Direction, Center for Politics, University of Virginia)
* Vin Weber (former Minnesota Congressman, Chairman, National Endowment for Democracy and Partner, Clark and Weinstock)

10:10 a.m. Mann has been struck by the different levels of interest, energy, and fundraising between the two parties, with Democrats holding a huge advantage in this regard. On the Republican side, Mann noted how 1/.3 of the seats were vacant at the Excel Center during last night's Republican National Convention proceedings, compared to the exceedingly high emotion and turnout in Denver at the Democratic Convention where security had to close the doors when the seats were full.

10:19 a.m. Mann says McCain knows the election is more a long-shot than a toss-up.

10:25 a.m. Sabato reveals he just got a text message from the Press Secretary of a "very, very conservative Governor" asking whether the Republican convention is as dismal in person as it appears on television.

10:28 a.m. Sabato says he ran into Governor Pawlenty on the street. After telling the Governor he thought he was going to get the nod, Pawlenty told him he was "One chromosome away from being picked."

10:31 a.m. Sabato says the only thing that gives him pause in predicting an Obama victory is the issue of "racial leakage" (whites who say they will vote for Obama, but just can't bring themselves to do so in the voting booth). He says there will be some of this across America, but he's not sure how much.

10:35 a.m. Ponnuru believes the only thing that is giving McCain a chance in 2008 is that Democrats won back Congress in 2006. If Republicans had remained in control they could not use the drilling issue, for example, as they campaign to solve the issue of gas prices this year.

10:38 a.m. Weber says the model for a McCain victory is in France where Sarkozy was able to win despite an unpopular outgoing president from his own party.

10:44 a.m. Weber says McCain's best chance to win is to make this an ideological contest between himself and Obama. (i.e. "It's not a question of change, but what kind of change.").

10:52 a.m. Mann says if McCain was elected he would not want to continue the ideological wars that have taken place during the last two years of the Bush presidency. He says McCain would rather 'stick it' to his own party and work with the Democrats than to become a loyal partisan.

10:58 a.m. Sabato believes Obama would govern as a moderate or moderate-liberal if elected. Sabato thinks Obama is much more cautious than people realize, and will govern in a way that will be at odds with his #1 National Journal ranking (rankings with which Sabato has great problems).

11:08 a.m. Sabato observes that both McCain and Obama are running traditional campaigns in that they are largely avoiding the press (McCain is no longer running the 'straight talk express').

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Remains of the Data

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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