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NewsMax Intern Election Round-up

Tuesday, 05 November 2002 12:00 AM

The latest polls show there are 15 seats that are "safe" for the GOP. They include Senate races in Alaska, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia, Wyoming and Texas.

Seven seats are thought to be safe for Democrats, including races in Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, West Virginia, Rhode Island and Montana.

What follows is NewsMax.com's intern profile of the competitive Senate races around the nation.

The New Hampshire U.S. Senate race is too close to call. Even though a poll done by the new American Research group found Republican John Sununu to have a 2-point lead over Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, most people agree that the two major issues of this campaign will be voter turnout and the independent vote.

Shaheen has spent most of her time focusing on moderate Republican votes. If they choose to vote for her, this might be enough for the Democrats to win the state, says NewsMax intern Mark Cugini.

A Minneapolis Star Tribune poll released Sunday shows Walter Mondale with 46 percent to Norm Coleman's 41 percent. But that falls within the margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

Since the death of Sen. Paul Wellstone, polls have varied widely, with one recent survey showing Coleman up six, another giving Mondale a five-point lead. Most experts remain baffled as to what the final result might be.

However, the political rally at Wellstone's memorial may help Coleman beat Mondale in the end, says NewsMax intern Christopher Ayers.

The Augusta Chronicle is reporting that GOP Rep. Saxby Chambliss spent an unbelievable $2 million dollars between Oct. 1 and Oct. 15., with President Bush alone raising a million dollars for the surging Republican Senate candidate. This brings Chambliss' campaign total to $6.6 million. Meanwhile, his Democratic opponent Max Cleland has spent $9.3 million.

A Mason-Dixon poll conducted in mid-October showed Cleland ahead, 47 percent to 41 percent. But recently Chambliss has gained momentum and closed the gap. Only a large African-American turnout can save Cleland, predicts NewsMax intern Richard Collyer.

In Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor is battling eleventh-hour allegations that he hired an illegal immigrant to clean his house. Pryor's campaign has released an affidavit in which the woman in question swore she was a legal resident.

If Pryor isn't too badly damaged by the brouhaha, he'll likely beat incumbent Republican Tim Hutchinson. The latest polls show Pryor with 53 percent to Hutchinson's 42 percent, reports NewsMax intern Danny Jacobson.

Republican Elizabeth Dole should be able to hold on to her lead in the North Carolina Senate race against Democrat Erskine Bowles, former President Clinton's White House Chief of Staff. Dole opened her final day of campaigning with former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani by her side.

In the closing days of the race, Bowles has been concentrating on motivating black voters. Clinton hasn't made any appearances for Bowles in North Carolina, but he did record a telephone message urging African-Americans to vote Democratic. Dole's campaign is using a recorded message from former first lady Barbara Bush.

Dole had held a 10-point lead over Bowles, reports NewsMax intern Jackie Hickman. But her edge has now slipped to 6 points, according to a recent Mason-Dixon poll released last week.

The latest polls show this race is too close to call. As of today, Democrat Tom Strickland leads Republican incumbent Wayne Allard, 42 percent to 41 percent. But those numbers are well within the margin of error.

President Bush has actively campaigned for Allard. However, as with many other Senate races, the Colorado election will most likely come down to the undecided voters. This race is still too close to call, notes NewsMax intern Amanda Manno.

President Bush visited Missouri on Monday to campaign for the Republican Senate hopeful, emphasizing that his victory is essential if Republicans wish to regain control of the Senate.

African-American turnout is expected to be a critical factor, but barring any surprises, it looks like the Republicans may win the seat.

One fly in the ointment: The governor of Missouri has indicated that he will not certify the race if Talent wins, meaning that the Republican will not be sworn in until January, reports NewsMax intern Alyse Harneit.

Although Democratic candidate Mary Landrieu has a commanding lead over all of her opponents, the latest polls indicate that she won't have enough votes to gain a 50 percent majority. Under Louisiana law, if a candidate does not win a majority, the top two contenders must face each other in a runoff on December 7.

The Louisiana race could play a crucial role in determining who controls the Senate. If cases of voter fraud in other states are resolved quickly, Louisiana may be the last state to finalize its election results, which could mean that control of the Senate would remain in doubt well into December, predicts NewsMax intern Mark Magro.

President Bush made his second trip to South Dakota in four days to campaign for Republican Congressman John Thune, who's challenging incumbent Democrat Tim Johnson. Some see the race as more of a contest between Bush and the Democrat's South Dakota colleague, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, than a race between Thune and Johnson.

According to a CNN/USA Today poll released Monday, Rep. Thune holds the lead, 48 percent to 45 percent.

The latest controversy in the campaign could hurt Johnson. The South Dakota Democratic Party announced last week that it had discharged a campaign worker suspected of falsifying absentee-ballot applications in the party's effort to register thousands of new voters on Native American reservations.

Johnson insists that he was not involved in the operation, but Thune's campaign suggests it was part of the Democrat's strategy to "win at any cost," reports NewsMax intern Carla Santander.

Lindsey Graham received a boost from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani who stopped in the state over the weekend. The 9/11 hero said that a vote for Graham would be a vote for President Bush, who carried the state two years ago.

"Don't be fooled by the polls," the ex-mayor cautioned. "You have to vote. You can't just think you're going to vote. You have to go out and vote tomorrow." Graham is comfortably ahead, reports NewsMax intern Ryan Barry.

A late poll in the Sunday Record of Bergen County shows Lautenberg ahead of Forrester 51 percent to 42 percent. But the Record's survey contained an interesting footnote: If current Sen. Robert Torricelli hadn't been forced out of the race over corruption charges, Forrester would be leading 47 percent to 35 percent.

NewsMax intern John Rossiello predicts that the GOP will lose New Jersey, with Republican Jim Talent winning in Missouri. South Dakota is too close to call, he says. The GOP should be able to hang on to Wayne Allard's Senate seat in Colorado, as well as Republican seats in North Carolina, Texas, New Hampshire and South Carolina. But Tim Hutchinson's Senate seat in Arkansas will probably be lost to Democrat Mark Pryor.

One possible upset for the GOP: Georgia Democrat Max Cleland looks poised to go down to defeat to Georgia Rep. Saxby Chambliss.

Around the nation there are a number of Senate races that are just too close to call. As we saw in Florida in 2000, elections can very easily be thrown into the courts. If any of these Senate races are as close as polls are predicting, there will be challenges, illegal voting, and court cases galore.

What follows is a state-by-state analysis of the State Supreme Court compositions in the top five contested Senate races in the country. Unfortunately, the precedent has been set, and it is likely that many close elections may wind up in the courts.

The Minnesota State Supreme Court sided with the Democrats in allowing new absentee ballots to be sent out to voters who requested them, with Republicans charging that politics took precedent over the law.

It's very hard to judge exactly how the Minnesota Supreme Court will go, simply because they cannot be as autocratic as many other state courts. The justices on this court must stand for re-election every six years.

If they make an entirely political decision, justices will have to face the consequences at the ballot box. The court leans Democratic.

The New Jersey State Supreme Court disregarded state election law in allowing 78-year-old Frank Lautenberg back on the ballot after Democrat Sen. Robert Torricelli dropped out of the race, so it's entirely possible that this election may wind up in the courts. The U.S. Supreme Court may ultimately have to determine the results of yet another election with national significance.

Although former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, a Republican, appointed a majority of the justices on this court, most of her appointees were Democrats. This court would likely side with a Democrat in any election challenge.

Once a member has been appointed and one year has passed, the candidate must be approved by a direct vote of the people of the state.

Currently the Chief Justice of this court is Stephen Limbaugh, a Republican, who was appointed by then-Gov. John Ashcroft in 1992.

It's hard to determine how this court would lean in an election decision. The process for selecting a judge in Missouri is different from other states and apolitical, so what will happen is anyone's guess.

A Democrat was governor when almost every justice on this Court was installed. Zell Miller, now Senator, was governor during most of the appointments, while others were appointed under other Democratic governors. Obviously if something comes before this court, the Democrats have the advantage.

The Governor chooses the members of this court from a number of candidates presented to him by a judiciary nominating committee. Once a member serves two years after being appointed, they must then be elected by a vote of the people. Once that happens, justices are free to serve a ten-year term.

There is no clear advantage here for either party because all the justices will eventually need re-election, and they were all appointed using a system of checks and balances. Should a justice totally disregard the law, the citizens of Colorado may remember that come election time, notes NewsMax intern Rich Manzo.

President Bush is very popular with the American people right now. At 65 percent or better in most job approval surveys, he has one of the highest midterm approval ratings in American history. When a president is that popular, he is bound to carry some political clout.

When President Bush visits a state, the Republican candidate temporarily gets a surge in the polls. This surge has been dubbed the "Bush Bounce" by pollsters, who have witnessed the phenomenon across the country. The surge is anywhere from 2-4 points, and typically lasts 3-7 days, they say.

This explains the president's whirlwind campaign tour in almost all the states where a Republican candidate would benefit from a presidential visit. Target states include Minnesota, Florida, South Dakota, and Missouri, says NewsMax intern Rich Manzo.

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The latest polls show there are 15 seats that are safe for the GOP. They include Senate races in Alaska, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia, Wyoming and Texas. Seven seats are thought to be...
Tuesday, 05 November 2002 12:00 AM
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