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Mark Curtis Media Quoted in Today's "Contra Costa Times" Front Page

(Danville, California)

In case you don't believe the Information Age is all about "new media" check out today's front page article in the "Contra Costa Times" entitled "Hey, Did You See This?"


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Democrats Need to Be Careful of Overconfidence

Senate Photo.jpg

(Danville, California)

As the markets continue to sink, so too do the chances of John McCain winning the White House. Some once- safe GOP seats in Congress may go down the tubes, as well. So confident are some Democrats, that they are a) predicting an Obama landslide and b)predicting Democrats will win a filibuster-proof 60 seats in the U.S. Senate.

Let’s deal with some definitions first. The most widely accepted definition of the term “landslide” is 60 percent of the popular vote. Sixty percent of the Electoral College vote is 323. While I doubt Barack Obama will win a landslide in the popular vote, he does have a chance at winning 60 percent of the electoral vote.

As to the prospect of a filibuster-proof Senate, any party needs 60 votes to invoke cloture, to cut off debate and to force a vote on a bill. Right now the Senate is split 49 to 49, but the two Independents caucus with the Democrats, giving them the majority. That may change in January if Independent Joe Lieberman is punished by Democrats for backing John McCain. Lieberman may well decide to switch to the GOP caucus.

No matter how you slice the pie, Democrats need a net gain of 10 or 11 seats to get to the magic number of 60. Good luck! It’s fascinating to note that some Republicans are writing off some close races already. One is the reelection effort by Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-North Carolina). Some in the GOP think she’s already "toast" in her race against State Sen. Kay Hagan, who holds a 49 to 40 edge over Dole according to a recent poll. This was supposed to be a McCain state, but recent polls put Obama slightly ahead; and there could be a coattail effect.

Another state people are watching is Minnesota, where first term U.S. Senator Norm Coleman, the former Republican Mayor of St. Paul, is locked in a tight race with comedian-turned-politician Al Franken. The latest Rasmussen poll has it Franken, 43 percent; Coleman, 37 percent; and Independent Dean Barkley with 17 percent.

Former Democratic Governor Mark Warner is way ahead in his race to win a Senate seat in Virginia, and the politically famous Udall cousins may win Senate seats for Democrats in New Mexico and Colorado. So, assuming all five races I just mentioned go to the Democrats, they still need at least five more seats to reach 60. It’s ironic. All the states I just mentioned were toss-up battlegrounds, but now all are leaning to Obama. His margin could help the Senate prospects of some Democrats, and vice versa.

Could this be the Democrats' version of the Republicans' 1980 victory, when Ronald Reagan so trounced Jimmy Carter, that a Republican majority was swept into power in the U.S. Senate? Could be!

At this point, I think the Democrats may be in danger of hurting their own cause. Bragging about a landslide in a volatile economy is dangerous, and adding a Senate sweep to that prospect is risky, especially with over three weeks before we vote. Why? Because overconfidence can dampen voter turnout. A close race motivates people, but if it appears there will be a blowout, some voters may stay home in their overconfidence.

The most likely are new voters, many of them college age. A CBS poll this week showed them backing Obama by a two-to-one margin. These voters turned out as never before in the primaries and set records for participation in almost every state. However, if they feel Obama and the Senate candidates are shoo-ins, they might roll over Tuesday morning, November 4, hit the snooze button and go back to sleep. Hey, I was once in college, too!

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