Tin Cup Time: Michael Bennet and Colleen Hanabusa

Two new polls out of Colorado and Hawai’i show us where some campaign money can be smartly invested.

Public Policy Polling is a Democratic-leaning polling firm, but with an excellent track record.  And yesterday, they issued a couple of relatively hopeful results: Michael Bennet is leading Tea Partier Ken Buck by one in the Colorado Senate race, and Colleen Hanabusa is leading incumbent Republican Charles Dijou in the race for Hawai’i’s First District.

Two immediate notes of caution come in:

1)  This is clearly Bennet’s strongest showing in any poll, and I’m not sure that even PPP believes it [See Update below — good news]; and 2) Hanabusa should be leading in her race.  It’s Hawai’i, for crying out loud: Hanabusa lost this race back in April because the Democratic vote was split.

So why are they “relatively hopeful”?  In Bennet’s case, because it shows that things are moving in his direction: previous polls showed him with large deficits, and even pro-Republican pollsters like Rasmussen show the gap closing.  There is still time.

In Hanabusa’s case, earlier polls had showed Djou with a big lead: he’s an excellent politician, and Hawaii’ians generally don’t like kicking out incumbents.  Remember: if Hanabusa wins, this is a Democratic pickup, which means that the GOP needs to gain more than 39 seats to regain control of the House.  Unlike in 1994, there are four seats that lean Dem: LA-2 (Cao, who won only because Bill “Dollar Bill” Jefferson was a crook); IL-10 (Mark Kirk’s seat in a bluish district); DE-AL (Mike Castle’s old seat, which will almost definitely go Dem), and Hawai’i first.  If we win those, then the Republicans need to get 43.  The Delaware and Lousiana seats are pretty secure as pickups, and Dan Seals, the Dem candidate in the IL-10, has been a Netroots favorite for some time; Hanabusa has sort of been lost in the shuffle, and needs our help.

As Nate Silver mentioned earlier today, everyone knows that this is going to be a very good November for the Republicans; the question is how good.  Every race counts here: small differences will make, well, a big difference. 

And why else are these particularly important races?  Well, they both just happen to be on my ActBlue page!  These are winnable races that could make the difference.  Show these candidates some love here.

UPDATE: A new poll out of Colorado has Bennet up by three.  It isn’t clear if it’s an internal, and of course nowadays everything turns on how polls put on their “likely voter” screens, but this is very good news.  This one ain’t over yet, folks.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

3 thoughts on “Tin Cup Time: Michael Bennet and Colleen Hanabusa”

  1. I agree with all of this, and if I were in a position to give, I would. However, I would do so to Hanabusa with my teeth gritted. I thought the spectacle of her and her opponent turning a sure Democratic victory in the spring into a loss appalling. I understand why it happened: for personal ambition, neither one could back down, because it was their only chance to get ahead. However, I'm looking for Democratic politicians with the capacity to put collective value above their own personal ambition. I realize that I'm tilting at windmills here, but Colleen Hanabusa faced an important test, and she failed. She didn't fail any worse than the other guy, but she failed.

  2. Michael, I see your point, and it has merit. But I wouldn't hold it against Hanabusa, and here's why: Ed Case, the other Democrat in the race, is a Blue Dog. Had he won, the Democrats would have held the seat, but done so with someone who was hardly a reliable vote. He would have been Joe Lieberman in a patterned shirt, and because of that it seems to me that it wasn't simply a matter of personal ambition. And because he was an incumbent Democrat, it would have been difficult to get rid of him — as we found with Lieberman. So in some sense, it made sense to contest the face, take your lumps for a few months, and then come back in November. The problem is that we now have a problem of a very strong GOP year.

  3. Agree the Bennett race is a tossup, but the PPP poll is something of an outlier, pending confirmation by some other poll. All of the others most recently show Buck ahead by 5 points or more, including the most recent (Rasmussen), sampled October 3. That poll also showed Buck hitting the magic 50% mark.

    Charlie Cook still rates ILL 10, Hawaii 1 and Louisiana 2 (despite the sizeable Dem lead in the poll) as toss-ups. Perhaps more revealing, Cook moved two more Likely Dem leaders to the Lean Dem column meaning 86 Dem seats are lean or worse versus only 7 GOP seats (counting the four you mentioned).

    Lucky for Dems this is almost all over and that early voting has started. I think momentum has resumed in the R's favor after a brief stall. Pretty soon, Dems will be making hard decisions about which seats to give up on and which ones should receive desperation funding. Exactly where the R's were two years ago at this time.

    Momentum resumption for R's can be seen by the recent pops for Angle, Rossi, Blount, Perry (Yikes!), Rubio and others.

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