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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

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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